27th May 2001
Afdhel Aziz takes a look at the latest books and films
The subject of Sri Lanka's ethnic conflict has (at least to my knowledge) never been addressed on screen before and so it was with a sense of anticipation that I sat down to watch Santosh Sivan's 'The Terrorist'. Its main heroine is Malli, a battle-hardened young woman who is part of a terrorist unit in Northern Sri Lanka.
Her parents and the man she loves having been massacred by the government forces, she is filled with a burning rage and a patriotic desire to join the struggle for her cause. She is chosen by The Leader, the mysterious head of the terrorist group, to be the suicide bomber sent to assassinate an Indian VIP, never identified, but presumably meant to be Rajiv Gandhi who lost his life in exactly such a way.
Sent to India for her training, she stays with a loquacious old man, where she pretends to be an agricultural researcher. Slowly she begins to build a bond with the kindly old man, and his silent, unmoving wife who is in a coma. An unforeseen situation ? I won't give the twist away. She begins to question whether she is indeed prepared to take her own life in the assassination, leading to a moral dilemma that is resolved in the final frame of the film.
You have to admire the lean, stripped down approach of the film maker, Santosh Sivan who reputedly shot the film in sixteen days on a budget of around $50,000 which wouldn't even cover the catering budget on most Hollywood productions. Sivan has worked on over 40 films and won India's National Film Award for Cinematography several times and it shows. His unpretentious direction focuses on Ayesha Darkar, the charismatic heroine of the film, with the camera almost never leaving her expressive, emotive face. The lush, colourful jungle settings showcase her feline grace as she stalks the armed forces who are on her trail, and she does a splendid job of bringing out the inherent passions and doubts that drive her personality and her sense of destiny. Her performance so moved Hollywood actor John Malkovich that he became personally involved in helping the film secure distribution and her profile was even brought to the attention of George Lucas who is rumoured to be casting her in one of the upcoming Star Wars prequels, as the Queen of the Naboo.
Buoyed by a riveting central performance, a strong cast of supporting characters and a passionate and political script which uncompromisingly turns the searchlight on the brutal and bloody conflict which has torn Sri Lanka apart for so long, 'The Terrorist' turns out to be a groundbreaking film, rewarding to watch as much for its assured direction as for its plot which probes what happens when personal desires come into conflict with political necessity. A beautiful meditation on a dark, dark theme.
The Revelations, the all male voice choral group is back again with their latest performance. Coming up on June 3 at St. Michael's and All Angels Church Polwatte at 6.00 p.m. is a programme of sacred music. Entrance for the performance will be by programme, at Rs 150/= and the proceeds are in aid of St. Francis' Home for Boys, Minuwangoda.
The Revelations comprises 12 members and 11 of them namely, Sanjeev Jayaratnam, Viran Corea, Nimantha de Alwis, Prasanna de Mel, Rohan de Lanerolle, Dilan Gnanadurai, Enaksha Fernando, Srimanthaka Senanayake, Manoj Singanayagam and Niraj Vethanayagam will be participating in this particular performance.
The current line up, having made their mark in both theatre and music circles in the country, has been together for some years now and had their last performance in August 2000.
Genre does not pose a barrier to this group that concentrates on singing any type of choral music that is pleasing to the ear and, in their words, "brings out the majesty and wonder of the male voice".
Says Sanjeev, this performance of sacred music includes some of the more well known works like 'The Lord's My Shepherd' and the 'Lord's Prayer'. They will also present music which will be performed for the first time in Sri Lanka. They will be accompanied at this performance by organist Neranjan de Silva.
Yet another treat for the 'Revelations-fan' will be the group's inaugural CD, 'Revelations - Kaleidoscope', which will be launched at the performance. The styles of music will be that which the group has successfully performed previously like classical, semi-classical, barber shop, pop, Negro spirituals,opera, etc; work which spans centuries and includes those of composers such as Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber, Rogers & Hammerstein, Verdi and Stephen Foster.
Some of the music on the CD has the unique feature of having been especially arranged for the group by its members. With the list of songs covering Peanut Vendor, Nessun Dorma, Va Pensiero, Old Black Joe, Moon River, The Lord's Prayer, Soldiers' Chorus, Climb Every Mountain, You'll Never Walk Alone and many more, it's sure to include everyone's favourite.
Couple of years ago, Kylie Minogue looked like she might disappear into the pop wilderness and never be seen again. She hadn't had a hit in years, her album Impossible Princess had been a dismal failure and, to add insult to injury, she'd been dropped by her record label.
But the Aussie singer's life has made an amazing turnaround.
Today she's an international star, with massive sales of her latest release Light Years and her current tour On a Night Like This is a sellout .
And Kylie has turned her hand to designing lingerie, with her own signature range 'Love Kylie x', which she helped create with Australian lingerie giant Holeproof.
Even Kylie herself can't explain the sudden resurgence in her popularity.
'Maybe all my planets are aligned or something, because I feel really positive and really inspired', she says.
'It's just a good time in my life.' Even Kylie's up and down love-life has taken a turn for the better.
Currently dating British model James Gooding, Kylie's ' having a great time.'
But it seems she's still a long way from settling down for good.
'I'd like to be swept off my feet,' says 32 -year-old Kylie, whose ex-files include late INXS star Michael Hutchence and fellow Neighbours star Jason Donovan.
'The relationship I'm looking for is with a guy who has humour and charisma, and that's quite rare. I want a relationship that defies description! 'I thought I'd have had a couple of babies by now - my mum had me at 22!' the diminutive diva adds.
'I can't imagine life without children. I catch myself giving longing looks at toddlers. But I'm not as panicked about it as I used to be. Perhaps when I'm 40, maybe I will have arrived by then.
' I bumped into Jason in the street ages ago and I was really surprised when he told me he was going to be a dad.' Careerwise, Kylie now feels she's mature enough to deal with the relentless pressure which is an integral part of being an international superstar.
However, when she first tasted success back in the 1980s, she says she felt lost and overwhelmed.
'I wasn't brave enough, old enough or wise enough to speak up and say: Hey guys, I'm not comfortable here. I remember thinking: The creative teams are grown-ups, I guess they must know what they're doing."
'I was always too scared to say " No" when I did Neighbours and my early records. '
But I learnt a big lesson from my dad. He said " You've got commitments, you've got to work, but beyond that you can say 'No'.
It must have been hard for him to see daddy's little girl crumbling under all that pressure before. '
So I do say " No" these days, even though it's in my nature to please.'
Hollywood's nastiest divorce - the battle between Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman - is getting even nastier as shocking new details about Kidman's miscarriage and their bitter financial battle become known.
Nicole Kidman blames Tom Cruise for losing their baby ! Sources say Kidman, 33 , was so shattered by the collapse of her marriage to the Top Gun star, the stress and heartbreak caused her to miscarry.
"She had tried all these years to get pregnant by Tom and when she finally manages to, he is not there for her," says a source.
" She has absolutely no doubt that it was his treatment of her that caused her to lose the baby. She was up crying night after night after night. She was a complete emotional wreak.
"It really should come as no surprise that she could not carry the baby full-term under such circumstances, especially when you consider how difficult it was for her to get pregnant in the first place."
Kidman says she only discovered she was pregnant in mid-March, more than 10 weeks after the breakup. While doctors told her that the foetus had died at only eight weeks, they pointed out that the lifeless baby could have been in her womb for several weeks without her knowledge.
" There is absolutely no possibility that there was anyone else involved," says one friend. " Everyone knows it looks a bit fishy that after 10 years of trying, she should finally get pregnant by Tom right in the dying days of their marriage. But truth can be stranger than fiction."
Adding insult to injury, Tom has scuttled a financial settlement just as the couple was nearing an agreement because he wants to keep the lion's share of their fortune. "Nicole is very bitter about Tom's treatment," says one souce. " Now , to make it worse, she feels he is penny-pinching on the divorce deal.
Papers setting out the fine print of the deal between the Mission Impossible star and his redheaded wife fell apart just hours before they were due to be signed April 6. The deal would have allowed Nicole to keep the $ 5 million mansion as well as the couple's home in Sydney.
But Tom balked because he made $276 million during their 10 years together - nearly seven times more than his wife's $40 million earnings.
"Nicole put forward a settlement that she felt was fair. It was a straight 50/50 split under California's community property laws," says a source close to her.
"But when Tom saw the details, he screamed that it was unfair. No one really expects to see the two of them yelling at each other from the witness stand, but the way Tom is acting now, that could very well happen.
"He is making it clear that he would rather go to court - with all the attendant publicity - than settle under Nicole's terms."
Another source adds: "Both of them are digging in their heels. Neither side is going to give in without one hell of a fight."
(- The National Enquirer)
For Jennifer Aniston marriage is heaven - but the past year has also been hellish
With looks most women would kill for, Brad Pitt for a husband, a lucrative contract with hit TV show Friends and a Hollywood profile like no other, you'd think Jennifer Aniston could't be happier.
But the beautiful star has stunned the world by revealing she's just lived through the hardest year of her life.
The 32-year-old actress reveals all in US magazine Vanity Fair, saying she suffers from low self esteem, a sense of shame and feels like an insecure teenage girl. And she blames much of the turmoil in her life on her bitter rift with mum Nancy.
'This is my last chunk of disease in my life - my mum,' says Jennifer, who hasn't spoken to her mother in five years and didn't invite her to her Malibu wedding to Brad last July.
Describing that decision as 'tortuous' Jennifer adds: ' I can't believe I got married and my mother has never met this person I married. I never would have believed it when I was 17 if you had told me that would happen.
' This has been the hardest year of my life as well as the best year of my life. The period after my wedding was extremely intense, for a lot of reasons.
'This was the year when I took the deepest look inward and asked a lot of questions for the first time.'
Jennifer says her marriage to Brad is helping them both to ' get rid of that piece of feeling we carry in ourselves'.
' There's been a real internal overhaul about family, work, everything,' she says. 'Marriage brings up all the things I pushed to the back burner - the fears, the mistrust, the doubts, the insecurities. It's like opening Pandora's box. Every question comes out.'
Former model Nancy raised her daughter alone after Jennifer's dad John walked out when she was nine.
According to Vanity Fair, Jennifer starts to cry when she remembers how her mother would tell her:
'Your eyes are too close together... and your face is too wide.'
'I don't know if I would have known how beautiful mum was if she wasn't always pointing out how unbeautiful I was,' Jennifer says.
lronically, Jennifer has reconciled with her father in recent years and they are now close friends.
Of the fact that she and her mum no longer speak, she says: 'It's a bummer. I miss her. You just want to share it. But this is a necessary break we need to take. Let it heal.
'I'm still trying to understand those years of my life and figure out what's real. As an adult, I can't blame my parents anymore.
'People might be surprised to learn that I'm a shy, careful person. I can be quite vulnerable at times and I'm not as secure as people might think because of my success.' But despite her parents' divorce, Jennifer still sees marriage as the ultimate commitment.
'Marriage gives you the comfort of knowing you're working towards the future as life partners. Brad and I want children one day, but it's not someting we feel pressured about.
'Children need to be raised with a lot of care and attention and I want to be sure that I can give my kids that. It's a matter of choosing the right time.'
While Jennifer would like just two or three children, Brad has his heart set on seven !
'He really loves the idea of having a huge family', Jennifer says. ' But you just never know. Whatever will be, will be.'
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