Archive for the 'International & Entertainment News' Category

17
Aug
14

Gifted Actor and Comediane Robin Williams Left Us Too Soon

Robin Williams

Robin Williams being interviewed at The Stand Up For Heroes event in NYC

Robin Williams left us too soon folks.

I cried with the rest of the world when the extraordinary, gifted and beloved actor and comedian Robin Williams decided to end his life on August 11, 2014.

At the young age of 63, Williams, despite having decades of love and admiration from fans, family and friends, decided that it was time to go out on his own terms.

Like most of us,  I was shocked and sadden when I heard that such a talented human being who made the world laugh with his creative comedy, funny lines and humorous personality, decided that it wasn’t enough to keep himself going.
From stand-up comedian to Academy Award winning actor, Williams was one of the most versatile and well-respected entertainers in the world. His penetrating performance as the therapist Dr. Sean Maguire  in Good Will Hunting earned Williams an Oscar and still to this day, fans around the world talk about his flawless performance.
It’s hard to believe he is gone.
Makeshift memorials filled with flowers and personal notes were set up at iconic locations across the country from the actor’s television and film career and many more will be set up in the coming weeks.

I’ve been a huge fan of Williams for years. His memorable performances in films like Good Will Hunting, Birdcage, Dead Poets Society, Good Morning Vietnam, Patch Adams, One Hour Photo and of course the incredible Mrs. Doubtfire, made me a life long fan.

Most of you may already know that Mrs. Doubtfire is based on the novel Madame Doubtfire written by the gifted writer Anne Fine. What many of you may not know is that Fine recently wrote in The Guardian that it took over ten years to option her book and that Williams finally made it happen. The movie has almost a cult like following and is till this day, considered to be one of Williams’s top grossing films.

With so many countless news stories written about the actor’s inner struggles and personal issues, fans around the world are slowly beginning to understand what the troubled actor had been going through.

Williams was a true genius when it came to entertaining people. He made the world laugh while struggling internally with depression, anxiety and substance abuse.

I first met Williams years ago on the red carpet in NY at a charity event and I do fondly remember the actor being polite, funny and of course full of energy.  I also remember that whenever he stepped foot on the red carpet, a blast of  paparazzi flashbulbs would explode.

That’s the kind of magnitude Williams had with the press.

Next to Oprah, Williams was in fact the most popular person on the red carpet I have been told by many reporters and celebrity photographers.

Over the years, as I continued to see Williams at press events, red carpet galas or charity shows, he was always polite and assuming in nature.

As the news of the actor’s death’s continues to spread around the world, additional information about the actor’s health issues continue to surface.  We are now exposed to the fact that Williams was diagnosed with early stages of Parkinson’s disease, adding another shocking piece of information about the Oscar-winning actor but also bringing awareness to the progressive disorder of the nervous system that prevents your brain from making an important chemical called dopamine.
Recently quoted in the LA Times, Dr. Jeff Bronstein, a famous neurologist in the Movement Disorder Program at UCLA says that Parkinson’s disease can be linked to depression.
Williams was known in the Hollywood circles as one of the most hardworking, energetic and creative actors in the industry. A town where most people only connect with those that can help them get ahead, Williams was genuinely a helpful and kind soul who wanted people to succeed.
I know a ton of reporters and writers who have either met or interviewed Williams over the years and no one has ever spoken anything negative about the actor. In fact, many of the journalists that worked with, have said over and over again how much they wished all celebrities behaved as courteous and polite to reporters as Williams did.
As I end the post with a heavy heart, I wanted to share some  facts about Williams that I found interesting:
1. Robin McLaurin Williams was born in Chicago, Illinois on July 21st, 1951.
2. His mother Lauren McLaurin was a former model. His father was an executive at Ford Motor Company. Both have passed.
3. Williams excelled in high school and became president of his class.
4. When Williams graduated from high school in 1969, his was voted “Most Funniest”.
5.  As a child, Williams  told jokes to his mother to maker her laugh and pay attention to him.
6. Shy as a child, Williams did not overcome his shyness until he joined his school’s drama class.
7.  In 1973, Williams was one of 20 students accepted into Juilliard with classmates Christopher Reeves and William Hurt. He became a life long best friend with Reeves.
8. Williams was a huge fan of the San Francisco 49ners and San Francisco Giants.
9. Williams was a fan of professional road cycling and often rode along  on the US Postal and Discovery Channel Pro Cycling team bus.
10. Williams loved Jazz music.
 
RIP Williams. You made us laugh and cry. Thank you for entertaining us  on your short journey.
Ravi
18
Jul
14

Academy Award nominated filmmaker Joe Berlinger brings notorious gangster story to the big screen

It has been one of the most talked about and intriguing criminal stories of all times.

Academy Award nominated director Joe Berlinger and wife Loren Eiferman exclusively pose for The Ravi Report

Academy Award nominated director Joe Berlinger and wife Loren Eiferman exclusively pose for The Ravi Report

Notorious Boston gangster and organized crime figure James Joseph “Whitey” Bulger Jr. for years got away with murders and other crimes and as some believed because he was an informant for the FBI, he was never caught.  It wasn’t until in 2013 that Bulger was finally found guilty on 31 counts, including 11 murders and is now serving two consecutive life terms plus five-year prison sentence for  his crimes. He is 84.

Like most of America, I was  fascinated by the story and all the countless films and books that have been written about the famous Boston gangster. The New York Times article  in 2013 “Whitey Bulger: The Capture of a Legend” outlining the famous mobster’s life, manhunt and downfall peaked my interest even more in the dramatic life and times of Bulger.

Whitey film director Joe Berlinger along with Bulger defense attorney Hank Brennan at the NY premiere

Director Joe Berlinger along with Bulger defense attorney Hank Brennan at the NY premiere

And the fascination with Bulger is still going strong today. Hollywood actor Johnny Depp is currently shooting in Boston portraying the role of Bulger in the movie Black Mass being directed by Scott Cooper and scheduled to be released sometime in 2015.  And of course who can forget the 2006 film,  The Departed  with Matt Damon. An amazing film inspired by Bulger’s notorious life in South Boston.

But the  new gripping documentary directed by the acclaimed and Academy nominated director Joe Berlinger that everyone is  talking about is based on the trial and conviction of Bulger and is called Whitey: United States of America vs. James J. Bulger.  Berlinger has been a strong leading voice in nonfiction films for over two decades. The documentary is produced by CNN Films and Radical Media. You are not going to want to miss this films folks! Trust me.

The film focuses on the trial and outcome of Whitey Bulger and the hidden corruption of the law enforcement in Boston. Mr. Berlinger  interviews people from both legal teams and Berlinger scores a major coup when Bulger  calls into his lawyer’s office on speaker phone for the viewers to hear his side of the story.

Berlinger discusses the film with music icon Clive Davis

Berlinger discusses the film with music icon Clive Davis

Berlinger’s other highly acclaimed films Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills and Metallica: Some kind of Monster were simply fantastic. His film CRUDE about oil pollution, won over 22 human rights, environmental and film festival awards. I became a huge fan of the acclaimed director after I saw Paradise Lost: Purgatory for which Berlinger received an Oscar nomination.

Whitey: United States of America vs. James J. Bulger  recently opened in LA and is available on In Demand. The  film premiered at Sundance this year to an exclusive sold out audience and has since grabbed the attention of everyone and anyone who has been following this incredible dramatic true-to-life story.

The Ravi Report recently caught up with the famous documentarian at the NY  premiere where Berlinger celebrated the release of his film with friends and family.

Candice Bergen smiles for the cameras at the premiere

Candice Bergen smiles for the cameras at the premiere

RR: It’s a pleasure to finally meet you Joe. You really did an excellent job with the film. If I may ask, what did you find the most interesting or surprising about Bulger’s dramatic life while making the film?

JB: The degree to which the conventional wisdom of the story might or might not be true. It’s taken as gospel  that Whitey Bulger was or was not an informant for the FBI and a lot of the bad behavior that went wrong is solely the fault of John Connolly (convicted former FBI agent)  who is currently in prison. My investigation demonstrated lots of holes in the conventional wisdom. The fact that Bulger was sentenced to two life sentences at the age of 83 after benefiting from a life of crime and that life of crime was abetted by the FBI and the Dept. of Justice, led to a lot of unanswered questions for me and that was the biggest surprise.

NY Police commissioner William Bratton and his beautiful wife Rikki Kleinman smile for The Ravi Report at the movie premiere

NY Police commissioner William Bratton and his beautiful wife Rikki Kleinman smile for The Ravi Report at the movie premiere

RR: So much already has been written about Bulger in books and his life has even inspired a few Hollywood films. But your film has been getting such strong attention and praise from people and critics all over the world despite so much out there already on the famous gangster’s life.  Your thoughts?

JB: I am proud of the film. There was a desire to exhibit this film at Sundance this year  because that is the premiere place to debut a film.  I’ve had 5 other films premiere at Sundance already so this was my 6th. I started shooting the film last June (2013)and finished it up this January(2014) in time for the festival.I am proud of the film and you can never look back…what’s done is done.

RR: Thank you Joe. It’s been a privilege indeed.

JB: Thank you

Whitey: United States of America v. James J. Bulger  is available on In Demand and is currently screening in major cities across the United States.

The journey continues and for the Academy nominated Berlinger, it’s been an interesting ride so far.

Ravi

19
Jun
14

Bollywood Dream Girl & Politician Hema Malini comes to US for dance tour

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Bollywood superstar and politician Hema Malini addressing the NY media

 

When she appears on the movie screen, her large, captivating brown eyes and hypnotic beauty entertains millions. When she dances on stage in her countless mythological dance dramas portraying Hindu Goddesses Durga, Laxmi or Parvati,  audiences are spellbound and believe that an actual Hindu Goddess has prevailed down from the heavens to bless them.

Such is the phenomenon behind the Dream Girl of Indian cinema and popular politician, Hema Malini.

With more than 150 Hindi films to her credit, the Bollywood actress, trained classical Indian dancer and now popular politician is all set for her much anticipated world tour of the famous dance ballet “Durga” to be performed throughout the US starting in June.

Malini and her troup of classical trained dancers will kick off their world tour (and summer solstice!) of the famous dance ballet on Sat. June 21, 2014 at the NJPAC, www.njpac.com. The dance group is also scheduled to perform at the Colden Center Auditorium in Flushing, NY on July 12th at 8pm.

The beautiful actress has been performing “Durga” all over the world and the show is considered to be one of her best performances. The dance ballet is presented by Malini’s dance company, Natyavihar Kalakendra.

The ballet is based on the Hindu Godess Durga, the wife of Lord Shiva and will be filled with beautiful custom-made costumes, stunning  dancers and classical Indian music. Not to be missed folks!

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Hema Malini dancing as Goddess Parvati

Hema Malini is considered to be one of the most accomplished Bollywood actresses today. At the age of 65, she shows no signs of slowing down in work or popularity. Her recent win in the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) seat in Mathura-making her an MP in the state of Uttar Pradesh,shows the kind of love and adoration that her fans still have for her after entertaining them for over 40 years.

The superstar is married to the former top star of Bollywood films Dharmendra and they have two daughters, Esha and Ahana, both also trained dancers.  Both daughters were  recently married to much fanfare making headlines in the Indian media for their lavish weddings.  Hema Malini was the brains behind the stunning marriages and received praise and adoration from mother-in-laws to be all over the world for her efforts.

But despite being in demand in politics, movies and charities, classical Indian dancing still remains Malini’s first love.

“I have always been a dancer first and an actress second,” Malini once told me at a NY press conference. “My gift to God is to entertain people through my classical dance which I have been doing since the age of 16.”

With over 150 Bollywood films behind her, the ageless and busy actress spends her time as politician, dancer, mother, actress, singer and writer. But despite having a hectic schedule , Hema Malini continues to bring interest to classical Indian dance around the world through her ever so popular sold out dance ballets.

The journey continues…and for Bollywood superstar Hema Malini, it’s one filled with dance !

Ravi

03
Jun
14

India’s new Prime Minister Narendra Modi brings excitement and hope to world’s largest democracy

Most of you already know that India,  the world’s largest democracy,  recently held their elections and elected to the position of Prime Minister, the popular and very charismatic  Hindu-nationalist Mr. Narendra Modi  who defeated the Indian Congress Party in an overwhelmingly win against the party that ruled India for more than 67 years. This was huge folks!  For those that follow Indian politics closely as I do, this election was the most intense, exciting and globally covered event ever to come out of India.
Cover story in The Economist about Narendra Modi before the elections.

Cover story in The Economist about Narendra Modi before the elections.

The Congress party, lead by Sonia Gandhi, the daughter-in-law of the late Prime Minister of India Indira Gandhi, and her son Rahul were defeated in an election that left many Congress supporters disappointed and to be honest, a bit embarrassed.

Mr. Modi, a 63-year old former Chief Minister of the state of Gujarat and leader of the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) was clearly the people’s choice and by judging from the numbers and the support from the millions of votes he received, Modi was indeed a clear winner in becoming the 15th Prime Minister of India. Some devoted followers say that Modi’s  track record as the CM of Gujarat, where he implemented change for the people, set the precedent for the kind of work he will do as Prime Minister.
Modi, with no political dynasty to back him up or a trust fund to fall back on, came from extreme humble beginnings. The son a tea seller, Modi rose in the ranks of politics by joining the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, (RSS)  a Hindu nationalist organization. In 2001, he came the Chief Minister of the state of Gujarat, similar to that of being elected Governor of a state, and increased the economy and infrastructure  of Gujarat under his leadership. Politicians, powerful business leaders and world leaders saw what he was capable of doing and began to praise his organizational and communication skills and way of governing.
Thank you CNN! Finally!

Thank you CNN! Finally!

So, the one burning question that keeps on coming up again and again in the media is this- is Modi good for India?
“Of course he is,” said one stunning Indian girl dressed in a designer dress at a Modi celebratory party in NY. “India needs change and the country needs a person who is going to bring those changes and who is not afraid to take any risks.”
“Modi is good for India because he has a vision of where the country should be in terms of economy and international status,” said an attractive Indian doctor who said her relatives voted for Modi back in India. “He is with the times. He is social media savvy and is going to bring India to new heights. Besides, Bollywood loves him!”
Enough said! If Bollywood loves him, he has got to be good for the masses!
Prime Minister Narendra Modi thanking his supporters on his home page the day he won the elections

Prime Minister Narendra Modi thanking his supporters on his home page the day he won the elections

The day Modi won the elections, India’s stock market hit a record high, the Indian rupee strengthened and business leaders began to see hope in India’s heavily regulated economy. Unemployed workers saw light at the end of the tunnel after hearing promises of new job opportunities and local workers embraced the hope of getting out of living paycheck to paycheck and for once, many saw a bright future for their families.

In his election speeches, Prime Minister Modi  has also promised to focus on development in the country, open doors to foreign investment and strengthen ties with the U.S, which of course for a while were a bit rough.  In other words, he has his hands full!
ModiNYT

Modi made the cover of the New York Times the day of winning the election

Other areas of focus that the Prime Minister wants to cover is the improvement in  the manufacturing sector, labor laws and making India a more “investment friendly” place  with foreign countries.

Of course no politician is without controversy and Modi unfortunately didn’t escape what critics wrote about his past and personal life.  For example Modi is a married man. It is not something that is talked about in the media and Modi himself almost never mentioned the fact that he in fact is a married man. His wife Jasodhaben Modi, whom he married as a teenager stayed out of the limelight and away from the media for decades. They never lived as husband and wife as Modi has set his eyes on a political future and never looked back.

The other controversy was the  2002  communal Hindu-Muslim riots that occurred under Modi’s leadership while he was the Chief Minister of Gujarat.  The out of control violence took many people’s lives and the city of Ahmedabad was under curfew for days due to the out of control violence in the city.

The Financial Times shows Modi seeking blessings from is 95 year old mother after winning the election as the cover story

The Financial Times cover story shows Modi seeking blessings from his 95-year-old mother after winning the election

But despite the riots, Modi’s ability to govern and make changes got the votes and the needed confidence from the millions who voted for him. They believe that he in fact will bring change and new hope to the billion plus people in the world’s largest democracy.

Media critics are saying that India will have to wait and see the kinds of changes that Prime Minister Modi will bring.   But he is certainly off to a good start and he has the backing of many top politicians and powerful business leaders including the world-famous billionaire Anil Ambani who have supported Modi from the very beginning.
The journey continues and for Prime Minister Narendra Modi, it’s going to be a challenging but rewarding one.
 
Ravi
28
Apr
14

Isabelle Von Boch of Villeroy & Boch shares inspirational tips for Mother’s Day

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Villeroy & Boch Mother’s Day gifts bring elegance and grace together!

My mother has for the past several years, always asked for one thing (other than a silk sari which she gets anyway) for Mother’s Day- an additional piece to her amazing collection of Villeroy and Boch products.

For years my mom has entertained hundreds of family and friends with the stylish, alluring and durable dinnerware that she often refers to as “a work of art”.

I remember as a kid growing up how decorative tabletops were common in our household and how mom always took pride in creating them for whenever she would invite family or friends over during the holidays or for special dinner parties. Since my mom loves to cook (and is damn good at!) she entertained a great deal always using the luxurious and colorful brand.
 
Villeroy and Boch have been around for over 260 years and the German company, known for their bold and vibrant colors, stunning stylish designs and devoted followers (like my mom), have geared up  to help celebrate Mother’s Day 2014 by offering moms all over the world more designs, ideas and choices for creating beautiful tableware for family and friends.
 
Isabelle Von Boch holding the popular Salad Plate Camel from the Samarkand Mandarin collection

Isabelle Von Boch holding the popular Salad Plate Camel from the Samarkand Mandarin collection

So you can just image how excited I was when I found that  Isabelle von Boch, an 8th generation descendant of the internationally renowned Villeroy and Boch family was coming to Princeton, NJ to share her personal creativity and inspiration  for creating the family friendly dinning table.

 
The Ravi Report caught up with Ms. Boch to get the story behind the fascination of Villeroy and Boch.
 
RR: A true honor to meet you Isabelle. You are known as the guru in the tabletop industry and you share with people all over the world such creative ideas when it comes to tableware.  Please tell me a bit about your mission in the ever-changing tabletop generation.
 
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Isabelle Von Boch posing next to the ever so popular & vibrant Mariefluer Dinner collection

IVB: I feel like a missionary that inspires people. My biggest wish or rather desire is to inspire people.

It’s not about selling, it’s about inspiration. People can make it (Villeroy and Boch) part of their lives in so many easy ways. People are sometimes not aware of the personal and immense impact of using a beautiful cup or stylish place setting for their family dinning.
 
RR: Your travels have taken you around the world where you offer tips, ideas and creative suggestions for the tabletop. In India for example, you are revered for your inspirational ideas when it comes to designing the colorful dinner tabletop. Why do you think there is such a strong brand connection with Villeroy & Boch in the international scene?
 
IVB: People receive us in the way that they do because they have an emotional impact with us. We speak to the emotions
of our customers and everything we do has an emotional quality. When people connect with our colors or design, they also connect with the European part of the culture. People in India buy Villeroy and Boch because they want to be part of the rich European culture.VilleroyBochMothersDaydisplay
 
RR: I also think it may have something to do with the strong bond that Indians have with Germans.
 
IVB:  Exactly. Indians connect with Germans on many levels. They love Germany, they love the people, there is a very strong connection between the two cultures. Our artwork being perfect, the shape being perfect and the technology being perfect is why we do very well in India. Also, when I was in India recently, I saw that color schemes and the strength of colors is what people really relate to in what we offer them. What we make is relevant to people’s lives and we try to make people understand that.
 
RR: Please if you will, give me an example of your own personal creativity that people have followed and how you think it impacts in the world of tabletop design?
 
IVB: I think examples like collecting different placements which lead to creating a different atmosphere for each meal is important. Have a different one for lunch, dinner, etc. Just like you change your clothes, placements are the clothes of the table and dinnerware should not be boring. Add some crystal glassware or flowers as well. It’s not about spending money, it’s about the table coming alive during dinner and holidays. Also, I have said that bone china can be used on any occasion, not just for holidays.
 
The Villeroy & Boch store brings hints of European flair to Princeton, NJ.

The Villeroy & Boch store brings hints of European flair to Princeton, NJ.

RR:  Tell me a little about the stunning color schemes in the products and why they do so well.

IVB: Our colors schemes are bold and strong and we are not afraid to make a statement.
Each one of our patterns has a personality so to speak. People who are afraid to make a statement about themselves, are not our customers.  People want refinement! We are in the business of creating ambiance and creating a way of life for people to communicate, socialize and bring the family together. Dinner is about socialization, connecting the family and not just about beautiful plates.
 
RR: My mom who has been a life long devoted fan, says your products “keep the family together”. Your thoughts?
 
IVB: Correct! I am about the family that eats together and stays together. I stress that all over the world when I visit people.
 
RR: Thank you Isabelle. Such a pleasure and an honor to meet the woman behind such an amazing brand.
 
IVB: Thank you so much.
 
The Villeroy & Boch store is located in the Princeton Market Fair Shopping Center. For more information, please visit www.villeroy-boch.com.
 
The journey continues and for Mother’s Day, it’s going to be a stylish one for sure!
 
Ravi
14
Apr
14

Fashion icon John Varvatos talks life, fashion and family with Fern Mallis

Fashion devotees of John Varvatos recently had the chance to see the iconic designer up close and personal in an engaging conversation between the exemplary designer and the world-famous fashion personality Fern Mallis at the historic 92Y venue in NYC as part of the well received series “Fashion Icons with Fern Mallis”.
For years, the 92Y has been known as a world-class nonprofit community and cultural center that has served as a place for NY audience members to experience personal interviews with some of the leading personalities and celebrities from the world of film, fashion, business, entertainment and publishing.92YEventr
The Ravi Report was front and center to bring all the details.

Varvatos menswear fashion and accessories are globally known for their  stylish, stunning and alluring designs that are sought  season after season. I have a shirt and trust me, the man is a genius when it comes to fashion.

Over the past several years, the designer’s passion for music and writing had turned Varvatos  into a leading author and somewhat musical talent scout as he brings very talented musicians to his Bowery Store in NY to perform for rock music fans.  I’ve been to a few concerts and it is a great concept and the musicians are very talented!

Varvatos’s new book Rock in Fashion, (which is selling like hotcakes) is  a collection of his own rock style designs and personal notes from his years of designing memorable clothes. You are definitely going to want to get this book folks!

But despite the designer’s immense fame, fortune and massive following, the Detroit born Varvatos remains humble and grateful to those that have helped him achieve his fame and success.JohnVarvatosbookjacket

The creator and organizer of NY Fashion Week, Fern Mallis is to the fashion world what curry is to rice- you can’t have one without the other.  Known as the “industry game changer”, Mallis has been the backbone for many iconic designers and the main organizer of their runway shows for years. The successful and well-liked iconic business personality is now president of her own company, Fern Mallis LLC and continues to create Fashion Week around the world in major cities.  Mallis also hosts her own show on the SiriusXM flagship celebrity talk channel, Stars called “Fashion Insiders with Fern Mallis.”

I will also on record saying she is one of the nicest and most helpful people in the fashion industry I know.

During the on stage conversation, Mallis , who is an excellent interviewer, gets Varvatos to open up about his family, his humble beginnings in Detroit, his career in fashion and of course his passions which include music, writing and designing cars!

The Ravi Report caught up with Varvatos after the talk to find out what keeps the world-famous designer going and what kind of outfits would he design for Bollywood stars.
RR: John, great seeing you again. We learned so much about you during the discussion. You just keep going from one project to another. How do you manage it all?
JV: I feel like I have to learn something new everyday. I am a sponge for learning things. I want to know everything and anything that pertains to my world and I go for it.
 
RR: A lot of your followers are saying  that “John has done so much and continues to reinvent his passion.” Your thoughts?
JV: Well, that is a nice complement. I think the word you use  is passion and that is the reason you keep going. I don’t even think about it...it’s the stimulus in life that is your passion that keeps you going and keeps you motivated and keeps you  looking for the next adventure. I would be bored if I was not looking for the next adventure. 
RR: Everything you explore and do seems to have a tremendous successful outcome with no room for failure. Has that always been the case?
JV: (laughs)…there are always bumps and road blocks in the road that people don’t see and if you have this attitude that you can climb over the road block and you can knock it down, you can do it. A few years  (in 2008) the economy for all of us was a bump in the road. No matter what you did, it was a bump in the road. You had to figure out how you were going overcome it and come out stronger and better than before.  For me it was not going to let me down just because we just got punched in the stomach. What can we learn from this experience? What is going to make us stronger? So if it happens again, we can be in a much better place.
 
RR: You have a large following almost a cult like one in Bollywood for your fashions and accessories with many stars wearing your clothes to parties, red carpet premiers and events.  If you had to design an outfit for the leading men of Bollywood, what would you design?
JV: (Pauses)That is a really an interesting question. Today we  were talking in our meeting on what the next inspiration would be for our runway and we are planning on going to India this summer for an inspirational trip. There is a culture out there from everything from the intellectual flourishing artesian culture to amazing fabrics  and  it’s one of the places where people take pride in what they do. I would design something that would be inspired by Indian culture.

RR: Thanks so much John. Always a pleasure and hope to talk to you again soon.
JV: Thank you so much.
The journey continues and for John Varvatos and Fern Mallis, it’s one full of fashion, design and adventure for sure!
Ravi

 

 

28
Feb
14

Oscar winner Philip Seymour Hoffman left us too soon

The Oscars will be a bit bitter-sweet this year.

Not because some of the most amazing films or actors were not even given a nod nor will it be because some of them were given one.
 
It will be because a leading member of the Hollywood film fraternity will no longer be among his peers cheering them on as they sit in hopes of winning  the most prestigious honor in cinema.
 
By now, many of you already know who I am talking about but I will be more than honored to mention his name just in case some of you may not know. I’m talking about Academy Award winning  Philip Seymour Hoffman, one of the greatest American actors that Hollywood will ever see.

Hoffman won an Academy Award in 2005 for his portrayal of Truman Capote in the film "Capote"

Hoffman won an Academy Award in 2005 for his portrayal of Truman Capote in the film “Capote”

 
The 46 year-old brilliant and gifted film and theater actor passed away on Feb. 2, 2014  from an apparent drug overdose.
 
It was sudden. Shocking. Tragic and of course disturbing.
Hollywood lost a great actor and three kids lost their loving father.
 
I’m not going to sit here and write about what has already been written about the late gifted actor over the past several weeks including everything from drug abuse to the details of Hoffman’s will. However,  I will say that the actor’s death has brought serious attention (again) to the ongoing issue of the dangers of  drug addiction and how prevalent and on the rise it has become.
 
According to a recent New York Times editorial written by the well-known and astute NY ER physician Dr. Robert S. Hoffman, heroine-related deaths have increased 84 percent from 2010 to 2012 in New York city.  Dr. Hoffman also  states that the actor’s sudden death was more of a “wake up” call for society to try to help prevent the hundreds of other unknown deaths that are never mentioned or talked about.
 
Philip Seymour Hoffman took Hollywood  by storm with his innate ability to dig deep into the core of his being to bring to surface the kind of immense talent that only a few privileged individuals are blessed to achieve in a lifetime.
 
My first introduction to Hoffman was from the powerful  film Magnolia. The deep and emotional 1999 movie centers around 9 individuals with various levels of dysfunctional issues. Hoffman stars as the hospice nurse Phil who tries to reunite a son (played by Tom Cruise) with his dying father. Although it was clear that Tom Cruise was the protagonist in the film, Hoffman gave the kind of performance that not only made Hollywood take notice, but also gave the world the kind of versatility and  gut-wrenching performances that only a few gifted actors can achieve.
 
Magnolia was the reason I watched all of Hoffman’s films and I, like millions, was able to see  how over the years, the simple and unassuming actor transformed into a megastar by portraying versatile characters that quite frankly, were tailor-made for him.
 
Hoffman won an Academy Award in 2005 for his brilliant performance in the movie Capote. Who can forget that heartwarming speech afterwards in which he thanks his human rights lawyer mom, Marilyn Hoffman O’Conner for taking him to his first play as a child. Not a dry eye in the house when he spoke.

Hoffman with cast members and good friends Laura Linney and Philip Bosco

Hoffman with cast members and good friends Laura Linney and Philip Bosco

 
I was privileged to have met and interviewed Hoffman in 2007  at the NY premiere of  Savages.  Hoffman along with the stunning Laura Linney play brother and sister in the movie who end up caring for their  abusive and ill  father played by the brilliant Philip Bosco.  It’s an emotional family drama that is certainly a must watch. I’ve seen it twice.
 
Hoffman was indeed one of the most sincere, humble and intelligent actors I had ever met.
 
RY: How did you prepare for this role? Did you draw anything from your own life experiences?
 
Hoffman: You prepare for it like you prepare for any part….it’s always different yet always the same and you know that’s a long conversation..it really is…it’s not something you can just sound bite…it really is..there is a lot of questions and a lot of thought that goes into preparing for something.
 

RY: What did this role do for you artistically as an actor?

Hoffman: Wow..(pause)…I have no idea…very deep question. Probably nothing…(laughs)..well it’s just another opportunity to explore something that I find pertinent that interests me now …do you know what I mean?… which I hopefully think artists are about.

RY: What attracted you to the role?

Hoffman: It was a great script….it’s never just the role…it’s always the role and the story…they have to go hand in hand and this is a really a great script and it’s a role that pertains to where I am in my life…where being 40 is in your life….and I do think it’s interesting and I do think that’s the answer to your first question…it’s interesting to explore something that you find pertinent to life at this time in your life…you find that your interest and curiosities change over time. There are things that I did ten years ago as an actor that I would not want to do now as an actor.

RY: How did you prepare for this role? Did you draw anything from your own life experiences?

Hoffman: You prepare for it like you prepare for any part….it’s always different yet always the same and you know that’s a long conversation..it really is…it’s not something you can just sound bite…it really is..there is a lot of questions and a lot of thought that goes into preparing for something.

After the interview, Hoffman gracefully shook my hand and headed into the theater with good friend Linney and the rest of the cast.

What has been written about the past several weeks and what will continue to be written about the late actor has opened up new conversations about drug overdose, addicts who try to fight their inner demons and personal struggle with rehab.

When Hoffman tragically and suddenly passed away, the media compared his death to those of other talented actors who battled drug addiction including River Phoenix and Heath Ledger. The premise seems to be the same.

When the 86th Academy Awards begins on Sunday, March 2, 2014, millions will be watching the broadcast around the world while Hoffman’s spirit will be lingering among the  actors as he sends his congrats to the winners from above while fixing his trademark uncombed hair.
 
The journey continues….and for Hoffman, it was indeed a short and unfinished one.
 
Ravi
 



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