Best Saw Traps: We look back at the franchise’s gnarliest moments

The Best Saw Traps! As we look forward to Saw XI, Arrow in the Head picks the best trap from each Saw movie.

Saw X appears to have reinvigorated the Saw franchise, so while we wait for Saw XI to come along (it has a theatrical release date of September 26, 2025), we here at Arrow in the Head have decided to take a look back at the previous films in the series to compile a list of the Best Saw Traps. There were many traps to choose from, but the idea here was to narrow it down to the best trap (or trap scene) from each individual movie. Check out our picks below, and let us know what your favorite traps were in the comments section.

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SAW – REVERSE BEAR TRAP 

Of course this one had to make the list, since it’s the most popular trap in the entire franchise and the one most strongly remembered by the general audience. The reverse bear trap caught so much attention when it showed up in the first film, they brought it back in a couple of the sequels. The first time around, the trap was on the head of Shawnee Smith‘s character Amanda Young, hooked into her upper and lower jaws, a timer counting down to the moment when the trap would snap open and tear her head apart. It’s no wonder this concept got stuck in people’s minds, despite the fact that Amanda gets out of it. It took three tries on three separate victims in three different movies, but eventually the filmmakers showed what this trap would do to somebody when it goes off in Saw 3D.

Best Saw Traps

SAW II – NEEDLE PIT 

There are a lot of cringe-inducing traps in the Saw movies, but this is one that manipulates a common phobia in an effort to get under the skin of as many viewers as possible: Jigsaw tasks one of his victims with climbing into a pit of glass syringes to search for a key. Making this sequence even more difficult to endure, the character doesn’t climb into the pit themselves to try to do this as carefully as possible, they forcefully toss another character (a barefoot one, of course) into the pit in their place, so the person is instantly stuck with multiple needles and cut with broken glass. The pain they feel is a pain the viewer can clearly imagine.

Saw III

SAW III – PIG VAT 

This wins the prize of being the Most Disgusting Trap in the entire franchise. Plenty of traps in the Saw movies have gross results when they go off, but the repulsive thing about this one doesn’t have anything to do with damage being inflicted on the body of the person strapped into it. This trap finds a man stuck at the bottom of a vat as the corpses of rotting, maggoty pigs are dropped into a large grinder, their decaying flesh and putrid guts spewing all over him. There’s also a heavy emotional element to this trap, as the person drowning in liquefied pig is a judge who gave a lenient sentence to the drunk driver who killed the young son of Jeff Denlon (Angus Macfadyen). Jeff is watching the judge go through this ordeal, and the only way he can save the man is by burning the possessions of his dead child.

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SAW IV – KNIFE CHAIR 

The Saw IV knife chair earns a spot on the list due to the fact that it was the first trap John Kramer (Tobin Bell), a.k.a. Jigsaw, ever made. Built so John could get revenge on Cecil Adams (Billy Otis), the criminal who caused his wife to miscarry their child, this one involves the victim being bound to a rickety wooden chair with a device holding eight knives in front of their face. Their arm and leg restraints will open if they push their face far enough into the knife blades. This trap scenario doesn’t play out smoothly, the chair completely crumbles under Cecil, but even Jigsaw had to start somewhere. After this, some of the traps created by him and his disciples got unbelievably complex.

Best Saw Traps

SAW V – THE WATER CUBE

While Jigsaw would usually give his victims a chance to escape from his traps, his disciples Amanda and Mark Hoffman (Costas Mandylor) had a tendency to create traps that weren’t meant to be escapable. This is one of those. In design, it’s not very impressive. The victim gets their head stuck in a glass cube that quickly fills with water. What makes this trap memorable is the badass method FBI Agent Strahm (Scott Patterson), the closest this series ever had to a potential hero, uses to get out of the predicament: as the cube fills with water and he realizes there’s no way out, he pulls a pen from his pocket and gives himself a tracheotomy. This may be the coolest moment in any Saw movie.

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SAW VI – POUND OF FLESH

Jigsaw and his disciples would often demand that the people in their traps cause themselves great bodily harm to get out of the traps, and this is quite an extreme example of that. Simone (Tanedra Howard) and Eddie (Marty Moreau) are provided with a knife and a meat cleaver and told that if they don’t remove a pound of flesh from their body, they will be killed when the device attached to their heads drills screws into their skulls. So they start hacking and slicing at themselves. Another impressive thing about this scene is how good Howard’s scared and pained acting is, considering she won the role by competing on the reality show Scream Queens.

SAW 3D – THE SILENCE CIRCLE

Another trap that earns mention through its degree of cringe. Nina (Naomi Snieckus) is restrained in a straitjacket and sat down in the middle of a contraption that pushes four spikes toward her neck every time she screams above a certain decibel level. To release her, her associate Bobby Dagen (Sean Patrick Flanery) has to pull the fishing line she has been forced to swallow back up out of her mouth. There’s a key at the end of the line… plus a fish hook that scrapes its way along Nina’s stomach and esophagus as Bobby pulls on the line. This would have been cringe-inducing for many viewers even if it was just Bobby pulling the line out of Nina’s stomach without the hook being on there, but imagining the hook slicing into her on its way up makes this scene very uncomfortable to watch.

Best Saw Traps

JIGSAW – LASER COLLARS

The franchise goes super hi-tech with this trap, which feels like it should have been saved for a future sequel where the series goes to space. Brad Halloran (Callum Keith Rennie) and Logan Nelson (Matt Passmore) are both fitted with metal collars that have seven powerful lasers attached to them. These lasers start out being blasted straight up, but gradually turn inward toward Brad and Logan’s heads. If they can’t get Jigsaw to shut off the lasers and release them from the collars, their heads will be sliced into seven pieces. The laser collars earn a place on the list because who ever thought a Saw trap would include frickin’ laser beams?

SPIRAL: FROM THE BOOK OF SAW – THE SUBWAY TRAP

The “side story” Spiral: From the Book of Saw isn’t very popular among Saw friends, but it does feature some nasty, cringe-inducing traps. For example, the finger trap, which forces someone to remove all of their fingers. Or the glass grinder, or the one that involves someone having to sever their spine. That spine one earns points for having a wax element that’s reminiscent of the 1979 classic Tourist Trap… but the best trap in Spiral may be the very first one, which puts a guy on a stepladder in the subway and tells him he needs to bite or rip his own tongue off before a train comes along. The cringing starts as soon as you see the guy’s tongue pulled out as far as possible and clamped into a metal device, and it just gets worse from there.

Best Saw Traps

SAW X – BRAIN SURGERY TRAP

The “eye vacuum” trap got a lot of attention when Saw X was being released and a lot of fans really like the bone marrow trap – but the most troubling trap in this film may be the one that forces a man to perform brain surgery on himself. He has to remove a piece of his brain and get it dissolved in an enzyme tank within a certain amount of time of a mask of heated coils will snap shut on his face. The idea of having to cut open your own skull and take out a chunk of your brain, otherwise you’ll be burned to death… There’s a reason the production company behind these movies is called Twisted Pictures.

Saw

SAW – THE BATHROOM TRAP

A bonus entry for the original Saw! At the core of James Wan’s Saw was a very simple set-up: Adam Stanheight (writer Leigh Whannell) and Dr. Lawrence Gordon (Cary Elwes) wake up in a dirty restroom, each of them chained to pipes by one ankle. They’ve both been provided with hacksaws to help them get out of their shackles. It’s an idea lifted right out of the end of Mad Max, but Saw caught the attention and captured the imagination of movie-goers with Gordon’s trailer line, “He doesn’t want us to cut through our chains, he wants us to cut through our feet.” With that, the simple, familiar idea launched a franchise.  

Do you think these are the best Saw traps? If we didn’t include some you thought were gnarly, list them below!

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‘Stranger Things’ Season 5: See the First Behind-the-Scenes Look & Get All Updates

The release of Stranger Things 5 is still a ways off, but we got a behind-the-scenes glimpse at the production in July 2024. According to a new YouTube video, cast and crew revealed they were “halfway through filming” the season. They even took fans through their set, as crew members worked to build it.

In the clip, the dark and gloomy set is clearly visible as one actor notes that season 4 was “big, but season 5 definitely feels bigger.”

In January, Netflix announced that season 5 production has officially begun. The streaming service included a black and white photo of the cast assembled in a room as they prepare to film the final season. The photo included cast members Millie Bobby Brown, Noah Schnapp, Sadie Sink, Gaten Matarazzo, Caleb McLaughlin, Finn Wolfhard, Winona Ryder, David Harbour, Charlie Heaton, Natalia Dyer, Joe Keery, Cara Buono, Maya Hawke, Linda Hamilton, Amybeth McNulty, Jamie Campbell Bower, Priah Ferguson, Brett Gelman, and the Duffer Brothers.

Volume 1 of season 4 dropped on May 27, 2022, just in time for Memorial Day weekend. Volume 2 was released on July 1 ahead of the Fourth of July weekend. Season 4 arrived nearly 3 years after season 3 debuted in 2019. The Stranger Things crew went head-to-head with Vecna in the game-changing season 4 finale, but their fight with Vecna isn’t over yet.

The ‘Stranger Things’ season 5 cast. (Netflix)

Season 5 was supposed to start filming in 2023, but it was delayed due to the writers’ and SAG-AFTRA strikes that put Hollywood on hold. Stranger Things will be filming for a chunk of 2024, so it’s likely we’ll have to wait an entire year for the final season to premiere.

Despite all the love for Stranger Things, all good things must come to an end. On February 17, 2022, Netflix announced that season 5 would be the final season of Stranger Things. Hollywood Life has rounded up all the latest news we know about the fifth and final season.

All About ‘Stranger Things’ Season 5

Stranger Things will be coming full circle in the final season. The focus will be back on Will Byers in Stranger Things 5“Will really takes center stage again in 5,” Ross Duffer told Variety for Noah Schnapp’s Power of Young Hollywood cover story, which was released on August 7. “This emotional arc for him is what we feel is going to hopefully tie the whole series together. Will is used to being the young one, the introverted one, the one that’s being protected. So part of his journey, it’s not just sexuality — it’s Will coming into his own as a young man.

Just as filming was about to get underway in May 2023, the Duffers released a note on the official Stranger Things writers’ page and gave an update about the status of season 5. “Duffers here. Writing does not stop when filming begins. While we’re excited to start production with our amazing cast and crew, it is not possible during this strike. We hope a fair deal is reached soon so we can all get back to work. Until then — over and out. #wgastrong,” the Duffers tweeted.

The Writers Guild of America went on strike on May 1 after negotiations broke down between the WGA and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which includes companies like Netflix, Amazon, and Disney. The members of the WGA are asking for increased pay, better residuals, staffing requirements, and clarification about the use of AI. Almost two months later, SAG-AFTRA also went on strike. As of August 2023, both the WGA and SAG-AFTRA are still on strike.

On March 21, 2023, the Stranger Things writers’ Twitter account gave a little (but exciting) morsel about the fifth and final season. “Season 5 is like if season 1 and 4 had a baby. And then that baby was injected with steroids,” the tweet read.

During his March 2023 appearance on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, Gaten Matarazzo admitted that it’s going to be bittersweet to say goodbye to the show. “There’s kind of an excitement there because you always want to wrap it up and see how these characters are going to finally develop one last time, and how they’re going to finish their journeys. But also there’s like a deep fear. Not only has it been amazing, but it’s been pretty great job security for a while. Back to freelance,” he said.

When it comes to what he wants to see happen in the final season, Gaten said, “I’d love to see a good launchpad for growth. I’d love to see these characters thrive and move on from the trauma they’ve endured over the past few years.” You ain’t kidding. 

In January 2023, Noah Schnapp revealed that Stranger Things season 5 would start filming in May 2023. He was asked during a TikTok Live session if the season 5 shooting schedule would interfere with his schooling at the University of Pennsylvania. “I’m done with school in May, and starting to shoot in May,” he said.

During Stranger Things Day on November 6, 2022, the season 5 premiere episode title was announced. The premiere is officially titled “Chapter One: The Crawl.” The first episode of the final season is written by The Duffer Brothers.

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The script for the ‘Stranger Things’ season 5 premiere. (Netflix)

On September 20, 2022, the Stranger Things writers confirmed that the grid for the fifth and final season is “complete.” They revealed all the major plot points of season 5, but the entire photo was blurred to prevent spoilers. It appears that, as of right now, season 5 will consist of 8 episodes. Episode 7 is going to be a big one. A portion of the plot is blacked out along with the blurring to keep anything from leaking.

The Stranger Things writers revealed on August 2, 2022, that the writers’ room for the first and final season was officially underway. “Day 1,” the tweet read. The writers also included a photo of a whiteboard with just the Stranger Things 5 logo written on it. Ross Duffer previously revealed that the writers’ room would start in August. “We’re going to take a little vacation in July,” Ross told Collider. “And then we’re going to come back. I know that the writer’s room is going to start in that first week of August.”

When Netflix announced that season 4 would be split into two volumes, the streaming service also included a letter from the creators, Matt and Ross Duffer, a.k.a. the Duffer Brothers. While they wrote that season 4 would be “bigger than ever,” they noted that “it’s also the beginning of the end.”

Their letter continued: “Seven years ago, we planned out the complete story arc for Stranger Things. At the time, we predicted the story would last four to five seasons. It proved too large to tell in four, but — as you’ll soon see for yourselves — we are not hurtling toward our finale. Season 4 will be the penultimate season; season 5 will be the last.

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The letter from the Duffer Brothers about the final season. (Netflix)

There are still many more exciting stories to tell within the world of Stranger Things; new mysteries, new adventures, new unexpected heroes. But first we hope that you stay with us as we finish this tale of a powerful girl named Eleven and her brave friends, of a broken police chief and a ferocious mom, of a small town called Hawkins and an alternate dimension known only as the Upside Down. As always, we are grateful for your patience and support.”

The Duffers have always been adamant that Stranger Things wouldn’t go on for seasons and seasons. However, season 4 was never intended to be the end of the hit Netflix series. “Season 4 won’t be the end,” Ross told The Hollywood Reporter in August 2020. “We know what the end is, and we know when it is. [The pandemic] has given us time to look ahead, figure out what is best for the show. Starting to fill that out gave us a better idea of how long we need to tell that story.”

Stranger Things director and EP Shawn Levy fully supports the decision by the Duffer Brothers to end the show with season 5. “Well, we never wanted to run on fumes and we wanted to only tell as much story as the brothers saw and feel with clarity,” Shawn told Screen Rant in March 2022. “So it’s been clear for a while that they know exactly where we’re headed and this is the arc. We wouldn’t want to stick around for one moment beyond that vision and the clarity of that voice. So rather than focusing on that sad day that happens who knows when, the end of season 5, I’ll just once again reaffirm what I’ve told everyone, which is it has been a long-ass wait for season 4. But I swear to God, the world will realize it’s worth it.”

In an interview with E! News in September 2022, Shawn revealed that the final season “will definitely be more Hawkins-centric.” He didn’t reveal anything about a premiere date but did promise that season 5 “ain’t gonna be smaller” than season 4. “Our ambitions remain pretty high,” Shawn also said, “and the way the audience has grown along with the cinematic scope of the show, I don’t expect that we’re going to mess with that approach going into season five.”

Millie Bobby Brown
Millie Bobby Brown as Eleven in season 4. (Netflix)

‘Stranger Things’ Season 5 Cast

As for the confirmed cast of season 5, we expect to see the cast members who survived season 4 back. That means Millie Bobby Brown, Finn Wolfhard, Noah Schnapp, Gaten Matarazzo, Caleb McLaughlin, Sadie Sink, Natalie Dyer, Charlie Heaton, Joe Keery, Maya Hawke, Winona Ryder, and David Harbour will be back for the final season. The new season 5 confirmed we’ll be seeing Brett Gelman, Amybeth McNulty, and Cara Buono again as well.

Linda Hamilton
Linda Hamilton at CinemaCon. (JA/Everett Collection)

At Netflix’s TUDUM event on June 17, Arnold Schwarzenegger helped reveal on stage that his Terminator co-star Linda Hamilton would be joining the cast of season 5. “I’m excited that I can announce that my old friend, a fantastic actress, a badass, is joining the Netflix family, in one of my favorite shows, and I know you love this show, too.

Linda sent in a video and confirmed the exciting news. “I don’t know how to be a fangirl and an actress at the same time. I’m going to work on that. So good to see you, Arnold. Let’s get dinner soon. And everyone else, I’ll see you in Hawkins.” The Stranger Things Instagram account also shared a signature upside-down photo of Linda as they posted the news.

Hollywood Life spoke EXCLUSIVELY with Cara Buono in February 2023 about the fifth and final season. She hopes to see more dinners at the Wheeler house before the show bids farewell for good. “I hope that there are more of like, in season one, there were a lot of family dinners,” Cara said. “And I loved when the kids came over for dinner… so I hope there’s at least one big dinner at the Wheelers where the kids come over and there’s a lot of awkward stuff going on. That would be really, really fun.”

Jamie Campbell Bower hinted at Vecna’s return in the fifth and final season. Vecna’s not going down without a fight. “He’s pissed, he’s properly vexed,” Jamie told NME in August 2022. “I don’t think he’s slunk off licking his wounds in misery. He’s rebuilding, and he’s out for blood. It’s like, you’ve really f**king pushed the buttons now, that classic Jason Voorhees thing – you’ve made a big mistake.”

Maya Hawke talked about the fate of her character Robin Buckley in season five. “Well, it’s the last season, so people are probably going to die. I would love to die and get my hero’s moment,” she told Rolling Stone in September 2022. “I’d love to die with honor, as any actor would. But I love the way that the Duffer Brothers love their actors. The reason that they write so beautifully for me and for everyone else is because they fall in love with their actors and their characters, and they don’t want to kill them. I think that’s a beautiful quality that they have, and I wouldn’t wish it away.” Maya also said she’d only do a spinoff with Joe Keery, who plays Robin’s BFF Steve Harington. “He’s so funny and wonderful and smart, and he’s got great boundaries. He’s an excellent coworker, and I would do anything with him.”

Madelyn Cline, who stars as Sarah Cameron in the Netflix series Outer Banks, appeared as Tina in Stranger Things. She told Cosmopolitan that she would “one thousand percent” return for the final season.

Jamie Campbell Bower
Jamie Campbell Bower as Vecna. (Netflix)

Stranger Things Season 5 Release Date & Plot

The fifth season does not have a release date yet, but it will likely premiere in late 2024 or 2025 since filming has just started.

“I’m not sure we’re ready to say yet a start date for shooting,” Matt Duffer told TVLine in June 2022. “But a lot of it is pretty well mapped out.” The Duffer Brothers know that expectations are high when it comes to how the show ends. “The ending is the hard thing,” Matt said. “That’s obviously the stressful thing. We really want to stick the landing.”

Fans can likely expect a time jump between seasons 4 and 5. The timeline of Stranger Things is much slower than the real world, so a time jump will bring the kids closer to their actual ages. “I’m sure we will do a time jump,” Ross told TVLine. “Ideally, we’d have shot [seasons 4 and 5] back to back, but there was just no feasible way to do that.”

As for the plot, Matt revealed on the Happy Sad Confused podcast that season 5 will be “moving fast.” He explained, “Characters are already going to be in action, they’re already going to have a goal and a drive, and I think that’s going to carve out at least a couple hours and make this season feel really different.” He later added, “It’s going to be Return of the King-ish with, like, eight endings.”

As for the runtime, the Duffer Brothers admitted that they “don’t expect” the final season’s episodes to be as long as the ones in season 4. Every season 4 episode was over an hour, with the last 3 episodes being well over 1 hour and 20 minutes. However, the series finale is the only episode that could end up as long as a full-length movie.

The final season will be set entirely in Hawkins, after splitting up the cast into three separate groups in season 4. “We wanna go back to a lot of the things we did in season 1,” Matt also revealed in the interview. “A lot of the original groupings and pairings that we had in season one–there’s something nice about coming full circle.”

On the Happy Sad Confused podcast, Matt that season 5’s trajectory is “actually pretty blurry” at the moment, but “the last 30 minutes of it are pretty clear in our heads. So if we can make the journey entertaining, I think that we have an end that will hopefully satisfy. You can’t satisfy everyone, but the hope is that it’s something that feels right for this story.”

‘Stranger Things’ Run So Far

Stranger Things became a global phenomenon when it premiered on Netflix in 2016. The series catapulted the young stars to superstardom, and they have grown up before our eyes.

Following the success of the second season, the cast reportedly scored major pay raises for season 3 and beyond, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The cast was divided into “different pay tiers” with Winona and David making up the “A tier” that earned them up to $350,000 an episode. The “B tier” included the younger stars like Finn, Gaten, Caleb, and Noah, who started making $250,000 an episode. The “C tier” featured the older kids — Natalia, Charlie, and Joe — who began making $150,000 an episode in season 3.

David Harbour
David Harbour as Hopper in season 4. (Netflix)

At the time, it couldn’t be confirmed exactly what Millie was making. After making $30,000 per episode alongside Finn, Gaten, and Caleb, Millie separated herself from the rest of the cast during renegotiations. For season 3, Millie was at least making $250,000 like her fellow young actors, but sources told THR she could be making as high as $350,000 per episode or in her own tier of $300,000 per episode.

What Happened In Season 4?

Stranger Things season 4 introduced the show’s biggest bad yet: Vecna. The Upside Down was created after Eleven battled Henry Creel, who also happened to be One, the first child to be experimented on by Dr. Brenner. When Eleven was a child, Henry/One posed as Peter Ballard at the Hawkins Lab. Once he gained Eleven’s trust, he betrayed her and killed the other children at the lab.

Henry/One faced off against a young Eleven, and she opened the first gate to the Upside Down as she tried to destroy him. Henry/One didn’t die when he was thrown into the Upside Down. Vecna was born. Vecna is the one behind all the chaos that’s been wreaking havoc in Hawkins.

In Volume 2 of Stranger Things season 4, the Hawkins crew (with Eleven’s help) tried to take down Vecna. In the midst of this fight, Eddie sacrificed himself and died in Dustin’s arms, Eleven infiltrated Max’s mind, Jason and Lucas got into a brutal fight, and Max was nearly killed by Vecna. Joseph Quinn became an instant star after his breakout performance as Eddie Munson. Even though Eddie died in season 4, many fans hope that Eddie will return in season 5. “He feels kind of gone, it feels pretty hard to bring him back, I’d say, but, I don’t know,” Joseph told Access about possibly returning.

Shawn Levy spoke about Eddie’s possible return in an interview on the 2022 Emmy Awards red carpet. “A lot of people can’t even handle the thought of a season five without some excuse for Eddie present, he told The Hollywood Reporter. “Highly unlikely, but we hear you world. We know you’re obsessed with Eddie. So are we.”

Stranger Things
Eleven takes on Vecna in Volume 2. (Netflix)

Joyce and Hopper finally kissed and got out of Russia with Murray. They returned home where they reunited with their kids. However, the current state of Hawkins is borderline ruin. Max did die for a moment before she was brought back to life by Eleven. Max’s death allowed Vecna to get that fourth kill he needed to open the last gate. The faultlines created by the 4 collided at the center of Hawkins, creating massive openings to the Upside Down. The end of the season 4 finale showed the effects of the Upside Down creeping in on Hawkins, and the biggest fight for Eleven and the others is still ahead. Meanwhile, Max is in a coma after her confrontation with Vecna.

“Now that I’m here in Hawkins, I can feel him,” Will said to Mike about Vecna. “And he’s hurt. He’s hurting. But he’s still alive. It’s strange, knowing now who it was this whole time, but I can still remember what he thinks and how he thinks. And he’s not going to stop. Ever. Not until he’s taken everything. And everyone. We have to kill him.”

What Comes Next After Season 5?

The Duffer Brothers’ letter about season 5 left fans with hope that there could be spinoffs in the future, and Matt and Ross haven’t ruled out expanding the Stranger Things universe. In fact, there is a spinoff officially in the works.

“We have some ideas,” Matt revealed to SFX, according to NME. “In terms of if we were to do any sort of spinoff, or any continuation of Stranger Things, for us the bar was always, ‘Is the idea exciting enough that we feel the pull of wanting to do it again?’ ” He added, “I want to feel the pull of ‘God I really want to do this. I feel really, really excited about this.’ So that’s why we’re being careful about what that is and whether we move forward with it or not.”

Ross stressed that “the key for us is that it needs to feel like its own distinct thing, not that we’re just retreading what we’ve already done… I do think we have something pretty exciting, so we’ll see.”

In July 2022, the Duffers revealed on the Happy Sad Confused podcast that their spinoff is going to be “1000% different” from Stranger Things. “I’ve read these rumors that there’s gonna be an Eleven spinoff, that there’s gonna be a Steve and Dustin spinoff, or that it’s another number. That’s not interesting to me because we’ve done all that. We’ve spent I don’t know how many hours exploring all of that. So it’s very different.”

Noah, who plays Will Byers, is totally down for a spinoff. “I know I am – and I’m sure everyone else is – up to do whatever. And we’ll definitely be back for spin-offs and whatever else they can throw at us,” he told SFX.

Joe Keery
Joe Keery, Maya Hawke, Sadie Sink, and Gaten Matarazzo in season 4. (Netflix)

Shawn told Collider in August 2021 that he is aware that “there is an interest and a real voracious appetite for any offshoot, any other iteration format or extension of the franchise, the characters, the mythology. And certainly, those conversations are hardly evolved, but they’re also not non-existent.”

As for a Stranger Things movie, that remains to be seen. However, some of the episodes of season 4 are feature-length. “[Episodes] 7 and 9, in particular, are movies,” Matt told The Wrap. “And nine is a long movie.” Ross admitted that the season 4 finale is “over two hours. It’s a big one.” However, there will be a stage play, set “within the world and mythology of Stranger Things,” according to Variety.



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Nikhil Nagesh Bhat interview | ‘On Kill’ and the optics of movie violence

Midway through my conversation with Nikhil Nagesh Bhat, the Kill director relates a story of growing up in ordinary middle-class Patna. “There was a dacoit who used to visit my locality,” he begins, like someone recalling an avuncular traveling salesman bringing exotic toys. “We kids used to play cricket and he would arrive with three truck-loads of people bearing 50 rifles. And he would politely climb down and ask us, “Can I bat?’”

This thrilling memory—recounted with evident fondness and time-tempered wisdom by Bhat—is of a piece with Kill, a cracking Hindi action film that draws its power from a potent source: the chilling, hair’s breadth closeness of violence and criminality to everyday life in India. Released in theatres on July 5, the film features debutant Lakshya as an NSG commando pounding dacoits on an express train. Though a spine-tingling, crowd-pleasing genre piece, Kill has its rivets in reality, like the time Bhat dozed through an actual train robbery in 1995 (a similar scene takes place in the film, with two RPF constables waking up late to the unfolding calamity).

In an interview with The Hindu, Bhat spoke about the complex reactions to his film, his influences ranging from James Cameron’s Aliens to 1960s Spaghetti Westerns, and “tasting blood” as an action filmmaker. Excerpts…

‘Kill’ premiered in the Midnight Madness section at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2023 and also showed at Tribeca earlier this year. A festival audience, however, is different from the one lapping up the film—and its excessive violence—in Indian theatres.

Different people react differently to movie violence. I was serious from the start that I did not want to celebrate violence. Celebrating violence is almost like you are supporting violence. Violence for bravado, violence for swag… that is not something I want to show. Even in my last film, Apurva (2023), I have shown violence in such a way that… it just comes back. You cannot escape its consequences. In Kill, the consequences of violence are much more gruesome than the reasons prompting it. There’s only pain and loss on both sides.

That may be… but this is still a film where a human head is set on fire and the rest of its anatomy equally brutalised. Oftentimes our thirst for catharsis, for bloody spectacle, can override the context.

As a society, we have a lot of pent-up anger. You and I both have pent-up anger. Rage and anger are an integral part of our collective psyche. But a film like Kill, which at every moment reminds you that violence is not pretty, that it has consequences, is bound to make you uncomfortable. I went to theatres in Mumbai like Juhu PVR and Fun Republic. There were ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ and chants when Amrit (Lakshya) was meting out his justice. But I also met people who told me they didn’t want to see what was happening, but needed to follow the story through till the end.

Bhat and actor Raghav Juyal, who plays the villainous ‘Fani’, in production still from ‘Kill’

Bhat and actor Raghav Juyal, who plays the villainous ‘Fani’, in production still from ‘Kill’

You have portrayed the dacoits in the film as ordinary bumkins who supplement their meagre incomes by looting train cars. It makes a larger comment about the correlation between crime and unemployment in India.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, crimes increased in the nation. I read a news article that said that between 2021-2022, there were 699 robberies and thefts attempted on the Indian Railways. Out of which 14 to 18 were big robberies. So yes, it is a commentary on that. At the same time, I did not intend to preach and wanted to make my points cinematically.

In the 1970s, we had those films about the working class versus the upper class—the babu class. The themes of economic disparity and class anger were really strong in our cinema. That in fact led to the birth of the Angry Young Man embodied by Amitabh Bachchan, who was a dockworker turning to crime in Deewaar.

The strangest thing to realise is that this is not a reality that’s unique to India. The fact that people in the US or Saudi Arabia, or Spain or Mexico are experiencing the same feelings speaks volumes of the social makeup and disparity prevalent in the world.

There is a family of Muslim passengers in the film who get embroiled in the tragedy. Were you conscious of its import in the current political atmosphere?

I was. At the end of the day, we are all children of the same country. We are all the same people. When crisis strikes, we come together. An Indian train is the perfect reflection of a society where people from different religions, castes and sects travel together. There is a scene where a character says something to the effect of, “We should have done something earlier… but we chose to ignore.” It talks of the collective spirit and the need to take action when we see something wrong happening to others.

What were your biggest cinematic influences for ‘Kill’?

First off, to be compared to landmark action films like TheRaid and John Wick—as Kill so generously has been—is an honour. But one of my first reference points was actually Aliens (1986), which is really about two mothers protecting their turf. Because the story is narrated from Ripley’s point-of-view, we root for her, yet the emotional pull is felt on both sides. I wanted a similar feeling for Amrit and the dacoits. In fact, if you think about it, in Kill, it’s not the dacoits who start the fight. The first kill comes from the other side.

Lakshya shooting a scene in ‘Kill’

Lakshya shooting a scene in ‘Kill’

….I grew up watching spaghetti westerns like Once Upon a Time in the West, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly and 100 Rifles. In Westerns, the villains always have very sharp and distinct features, which is what we attempted with the casting of Kill. The circularity of revenge is another classic Western theme.

There is another filmmaker, Hong Kong’s Johnnie To, much admired by Quentin Tarantino, whose Exiled (2006) I really admire.

One of your two action directors, Se-yeong Oh, worked on ‘Snowpiercer’ (2013), Bong Joon-ho’s allegorical action film which also unfolds on a train. What did Se-yeong Oh bring to the design and execution of ‘Kill’?

When I wrote the script of Kill, my first condition was that I did not want an action director to come in and shoot the fight sequences for me, as is the norm in India. You sit on the side while they shoot the whole thing for you. This was not possible since 70 per cent of my film was action. Maine kya karunga for? (what would I do then?).

Furthermore, every scene in the film was tied to an emotion, so I needed to direct the actors closely. Action choreographers in India told me I had not done any action before. They could not put their careers in my hand, and perhaps fairly so. But I was adamant. So this quest took us out of India to Germany and Italy and Southeast Asia and we finally found Se-yeong Oh. I conveyed my request to him and he said he needed to read the script. He can’t read English, so it was translated into Korean for him. Some weeks later, on Zoom, he came back and gave a double thumbs-up. He did a terrific pre-viz for the film and mapped out the minutest of details and motivations. For instance, there is a crucial scene in the film where Amrit is fighting and it was supposed to happen at a distance from the camera. But Se-yeong Oh told me to bring it closer and it made all the difference in selling the emotion of the scene.

An English-language remake of ‘Kill’ has been announced, with John Wick director Chad Stahelski set to produce. As for you, would you continue working in the action space or switch gears?

Well, I have tasted blood (laughs). I will definitely want to do more action. But it will not be a contained action film like Kill. I want to experiment with the format and story. I am writing something currently.

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Handprints, a retrospective of artist Gulam Mohammed Sheikh, is currently underway in the city

One hears of scientists, musicians and other innovative beings who are oblivious to the enormity of their work — simply because they have been busy creating for the pure joy of it.

Something similar can be said of Gujarat-based artist Gulam Mohammed Sheikh. At 87, the artist who still paints, is not only known for his art, but also his works of prose. Yet, not many are aware of his fascination for prints.

Handprints, the first of a two-part retrospective features as many as 60 prints, selected from works dating back to 1965 when Gulam was still a student, to the present day. “There is a huge body of work spanning seven decades and none of us knew about its entirety, since he is primarily known as an artist and art critic. I’ve been his student and have known him since 1977, but apart from the occassional prints hanging in his house or seen at shows, the bulk of these have not been exhibited,” says artist Pushpamala N, who curated the show.

Pushpamala says a chance conversation about holding a show of Gulam’s paintings in Bengaluru, led to the revelation that he had never exhibited his prints in a solo show.

Gulam Mohammed Sheikh and Pushpamala N
| Photo Credit:
Special Arrangement

Printmaking is the process of creating artworks by printing, not only on paper, but also on fabric, wood, metal, and other surfaces. Some traditional printmaking techniques are woodcut, linocut, etching, aquatint and lithography, while modern-day methods include screen and digital printing.

“Since prints are created in multiples using different techniques, there were so many of them that we had to exhibit them in two parts. Part one titled Handprints are those pieces executed using the traditional approach,” she says.

In context

“I’ve contextualised his works for this show since he is not only a celebrated artist, but also a poet and writer, an art historian and influential teacher; all these facets come out in these works.”

Pushpamala says Gulam began writing and painting simultaneously, finding his own language and style, and developing it along the way. “He began writing his memoirs in the late 60s, going on to publish it 40 years later,” she says, adding literary and historical references appear in his work in the interim.

Speaking Tree, silk screen, from Handprints, a retrospective on Gulam Mohd Sheikh.

Speaking Tree, silk screen, from Handprints, a retrospective on Gulam Mohd Sheikh.
| Photo Credit:
Special Arrangement

For instance, his work The Riot, is a response to the violent communal riots in Baroda that occurred in 1968-69. “Gulam had always thought of himself as a Nehruvian secularist in a world that was open and where everything was free. At that point, however, he suddenly realised he was ‘The Other’, especially during those riots.”

Yet, Gulam’s depiction is not just a vignette from his life — it is also homage to a famous Mughal folio titled Hamzanama. This 16th century work brought out under Emperor Akbar is not very well known, but since Gulam was teaching art history, he came across this work which intrigued him.

Pushpamala says she has shown his work in chronological order, connecting them to his own history and to events that happened at the time. “I also see it as pedagogy. A lot of students come to the show and the works are a testament to Gulam’s enthusiastic attitude. He loves working with different techniques and media, experimenting with anything new he hears about.”

Untitled woodcut from Handprints, a retrospective on Gulam Mohd Sheikh

Untitled woodcut from Handprints, a retrospective on Gulam Mohd Sheikh
| Photo Credit:
Special Arrangement

The wealth of woodcut, linocut, etching-aquatint, lithography and silkscreen works on display at Handprints are testament to his prowess.

Throw back to the past

Handprints also features hand written magazines, comic strips and illustrations done by Gulam as a schoolboy. “I believe young artists of today who bring out zines will relate to his work,” says Pushpamala.

By the time he was 15, Gulam was illustrating Pragati, his school’s literary magazine, moving on to Kshitij, an avant garde literary magazine when he was art student. By then he had learnt the art of printmaking and editions in Kshitij, which carried his poetry and prose, benefitted from lino cuts and other illustrations contributed by him and fellow editors.

Female figure with Still Life, lithograph, from Handprints, a retrospective on Gulam Mohd Sheikh

Female figure with Still Life, lithograph, from Handprints, a retrospective on Gulam Mohd Sheikh
| Photo Credit:
Special Arrangement

Gulam also established a magazine Vrishchik with Bhupen Khakhar while teaching art history in Baroda. The periodical which aimed to initiate debate, dialogue and discussion among the art community, had linocuts and lithographs as covers as well as pull outs.

Pushpamala believes this is how Gulam’s art was disseminated in various ways into the literary and public spheres.

Up next

Mindprints or the second part of this retrospective which will go on display from August 17 is more contemporary and colourful. “The first part is monochromatic because of the nature of traditional printmaking techniques,” says Pushpamala.

Pushpmala adds that Mindprints comprises digital prints. “Gulam is one of the pioneers of this technique in India. having begun working on it from the late 90s and 2000s. That is when the technology first came in — people were suspicious of this mode then and rubbished his work at the time.”

Gulam’s fondness for pre-Renaissance art from the West, Persia, Turkey and China, come out in his contemporary work as do autobiographical references to his family and friends. His perspective on cities and fascination with maps have also been documented in Mindprints.

Pushpamala says Gulam’s depiction of cities is not a realistic perspective, but rather a distorted imagery. “One can get glimpses of magic realism and miniatures in his maps, some of which open up like books. In others, images of snakes and ladders decorate the borders or outlines of a city”

“Sometimes, you are looking into a courtyard and something is happening all around it. At times it is not a direct reference — Gulam is referencing different kinds of paintings and historical events.”

A 45-minute video of Gulam in conversation with artist Vasudevan Akittham is running at the exhibition.

Handprints, a retrospective of artist Gulam Mohammed Sheikh is on at Gallery Sumukha till Juy 27.

Ek Achambha Dekha re Bhai, etching-aquatint, from Handprints, a retrospective on Gulam Mohd Sheikh

Ek Achambha Dekha re Bhai, etching-aquatint, from Handprints, a retrospective on Gulam Mohd Sheikh
| Photo Credit:
Special Arrangement

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Comic-Con 2024 Schedule: The Top Movie & TV Panels And Events In San Diego

UPDATED with all days: San Diego Comic-Con released the full schedule for its 2024 edition, which this year runs July 25-28. The annual confab is officially centered at the San Diego Convention Center, but in reality it invades the city with an army of comics, genre, movie and TV fans and cosplayers looking for the latest news.

Following a sleepy Comic-Con last year thanks to the Hollywood strikes, this year is expected to return to its usual crazy, especially with Marvel Studios back in Hall H for a pair of events: a Thursday panel devoted to Deadpool & Wolverine on the same day it opens in theaters, and a Saturday evening showcase breaking down what’s going on the the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Other marquee film and TV series that have now set panels for Comic-Con include everything from Transformers One and The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power to Doctor Who and universes from Anne Rice and Star Trek to The Walking Dead.

Below find the best movie and TV events – panels, screenings and more — and their dates, times and venues.

Thursday, July 25

Deadpool & Wolverine
TBA, Hall H

On the same day that the latest Marvel tentpole hits theaters, Marvel’s Kevin Feige, director Shawn Levy and stars Ryan Reynolds and Hugh Jackman are expected to attend a panel to commemorate its box office opening. This is separate from Marvel Studios’ main Hall H panel on Saturday (see below).

Transformers One
11:45 a.m., Hall H

Paramount Animation and Hasbro Entertainment’s panel for the first Transformers animated movie in almost 40 years will include Chris Hemsworth, Brian Tyree Henry, Keegan-Michael Key, director Josh Cooley and producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura.

Teacup
1:45 p.m., Ballroom 20

Executive producers James Wan and Ian McCulloch and stars Yvonne Strahovski, Scott Speedman and Chaske Spencer are expected at a panel that will include an exclusive sneak peek at Peacock and Atomic Monster’s upcoming original horror series.

Percy Jackson and the Olympians
2:15 p.m., Hall H

The Disney+ original series makes its Comic-Con debut with cast members Walker Scobell, Leah Sava Jeffries and Aryan Simhadri, and co-creator/EP Jonathan E. Steinberg and EP Dan Shotz scheduled to appear.

Tales of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
2:15 p.m., Room 6BCF

Host, writer, podcaster and stand-up comedian Claire Lim will join the voices of Leo, Raph, Donnie, Mikey as well as producers of the Paramount+ animated series.

Those About to Die
3 p.m., Ballroom 20

Executive producer/director Roland Emmerich and stars Iwan Rheon, Sara Martins, Moe Hashim, Jojo Macari and Dimitri Leonidas help reveal an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at the making of the Peacock series about the Roman Empire’s explosive intersection of sports, politics and dynasties.

What We Do In The Shadows Farewell Tour Kick-Off
3:30 p.m., Hall H

Join cast and producers for a high-spirited conversation and be among the first to see a brand-new episode from the sixth and final season of the FX comedy series.

Fox Animation Domination: Universal Basic Guys and Krapopolis
8:30 p.m., Room 6DE

Co-creators and executive producers Adam Malamut and Craig Malamut present Universal Basic Guys. Then, creator and executive producer Dan Harmon and special guests present new footage from the upcoming season of Krapopolis.

Friday, July 26

The Boys
10 a.m., Hall H

Showrunner and executive producer Eric Kripke joins the Prime Video series’ stars for a postseason finale celebration, featuring behind-the-scenes secrets, favorite moments, and thrilling surprises.

Common Side Effects
11 a.m., Indigo Ballroom

Co-creator Steve Hely and writer-director Sean Buckelew will join the Adult Swim comedic thriller’s voice cast including Martha Kelly, Emily Pendergast, Joseph Lee Anderson and Dave King to discuss the new series, which hails from executive producers Mike Judge and Greg Daniels, and creators Joe Bennett and Hely.

The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power
11 a.m., Hall H

A day after Prime Video hosts an invite-only press and influencer reception for the series, it hosts a Hall H panel featuring showrunners J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay as well as cast giving fans a inside look ahead of the August 29 Season 2 premiere date.

Snowpiercer
11:15 a.m., Ballroom 20

After an exclusive advanced screening of an all-new episode of Snowpiercer (Season 4, Episode 2 “The Sting of Survival”), stars Daveed Diggs, Mickey Sumner, and Mike O’Malley  join executive producers Paul Zbyszewski and Christoph Schrewe to tease the AMC/AMC+ series’ fourth and final season.

Rick And Morty: The Anime Series
Noon, Indigo Ballroom

Writer-director Takashi Sano, producers Joseph Chou and Takenari Maeda, and Adult Swim’s head of action and anime Jason DeMarco will share details about the Adult Swim franchise’s new series.

Doctor Who
12:30 p.m., Hall H

Stars Ncuti Gatwa (the Fifteenth Doctor) and Millie Gibson are joined by showrunner and writer Russell T Davies as they discuss the latest season and its game-changing finale episode, which streamed on Disney+ and BBC iPlayer.

The Walking Dead: Dead City
1:45 p.m., Hall H

Confirmed panelists include stars Lauren Cohan, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Gaius Charles and Željko Ivanek along with showrunner/executive producer Eli Jorné and The Walking Dead Universe chief content officer/EP Scott M. Gimple who will discuss the upcoming Season 2 of the AMC/AMC+ series.

Solar Opposites
2 p.m., Indigo Ballroom

Solar Opposites executive producers Mike McMahan and Josh Bycel are joined by cast members Thomas Middleditch, Mary Mack and Sean Giambrone on a panel that will include a screening of a never-before-seen episode and a look ahead to Season 5 premiering August 12 on Hulu.

Gremlins: The Wild Batch
2:15 p.m., Room 6A

Executive producers Tze Chun and Brendan Hay and stars Ming-Na Wen, Izaac Wang, AJ LoCascio and Gabrielle Nevaeh preview Season 2 of the Max animated prequel series hailing from Amblin Television in association with Warner Bros Animation.

Like a Dragon: Yakuza
2:30 p.m., Room 5AB

Series lead member Ryoma Takeuchi, producers, a surprise A-list star from the cast and a SEGA producer share an exclusive first look at Season 2 of the Prime Video series based on the SEGA game.

The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon – The Book of Carol
2:45 p.m., Hall H

Panelists including showrunner/EP David Zabel, Scott M. Gimple, EP/director Greg Nicotero, Norman Reedus, Melissa McBride and Louis Puech Scigliuzzi will discuss the upcoming Season 2 and debut the trailer for the AMC/AMC+ series.

The Great North
3 p.m., Indigo Ballroom

Get to know the creative minds behind the Fox animated series including creators and executive producers Wendy Molyneaux, Lizzie Molyneaux-Logelin and Loren Bouchard, and voice cast including Dulcé Sloan, Paul Rust and Aparna Nancherla.

Bob’s Burgers
4 p.m., Indigo Ballroom

Creator/executive producer Loren Bouchard, EPs Nora Smith and Holly Schlesinger and supervising director Bernard Derriman will break news about the upcoming Bob’s Burgers season on Fox, joined by cast including H. Jon Benjamin, John Roberts, Kristen Schaal, Eugene Mirman, Dan Mintz and Larry Murphy.

The Tower First Look
4:45 p.m. Room 6A

Bella Thorne, Jack Kilmer, Cam Gigandet, director-writer Adam Sigal, producer Clare Bateman-King and talk indie filmmaking and show off the upcoming fantasy drama The Tower.

Alien: Romulus
5:15 p.m., Hall H

Director Fede Alvarez and cast Cailee Spaeny, David Jonsson, Archie Renaux, Isabela Merced, Spike Fearn and Aileen Wu discuss the next installment of 20th Century Studios’ iconic franchise.

Dexter: Original Sin
5:45 p.m., Ballroom 20

Showrunner/EP Clyde Phillips, EP Scott Reynolds and cast members Christian Slater, Patrick Gibson and Molly Brown take fans into the new Paramount+ series. Moderated by Original Sin guest star Sarah Michelle Gellar.

Harley Quinn & Kite Man: Hell Yeah!
8:15 p.m., Room CBDF

The cast and creators from both Max Original adult animated series from DC and WB Animation will offer sneak peeks at unreleased Kite Man: Hell Yeah! scenes and a look at what’s in store for Harley Quinn’s upcoming fifth season.

House of the Dragon Season 2 Episode 7: Special Advance Screening
10:30 p.m., Room 6A

An exclusive screening of the penultimate Season 2 episode of the HBO series House of the Dragon ahead of its debut Sunday, July 28.

Saturday, July 27

Ghosts
10 a.m., Ballroom 20

Series stars and EPs gather for a panel conversation discussing the Season 3 cliffhanger of the CBS and Paramount+ comedy series and revealing for what’s ahead in Season 4.

My Adventures with Superman
10 a.m., Indigo Ballroom

Executive producers Jake Wyatt, Josie Campbell and Brendan Clogher, and voice cast members Jack Quaid, Alice Lee, Ishmel Sahid and Kiana Madeira answer questions from Season 2 of Adult Swim’s Warner Bros Animation series and provide details on Season 3.

Futurama
11 a.m., Ballroom 20

Matt Groening, David X. Cohen, Claudia Katz and voice cast Billy West, John DiMaggio, Lauren Tom, Phil LaMarr, David Herman and Maurice LaMarche will preview the new season of the 20th Television Animation series premiering July 29 on Hulu.

Everybody Still Hates Chris
11:15 a.m., Indigo Ballroom

The voice cast of Comedy Central’s reimagined adult animated series joins for a panel discussion and an exclusive first look at the series.

Superman & Lois
11:15 a.m., Hall H

A special video presentation of the Berlanti Productions/WBTV series will be followed by a Q&A with stars and producers to discuss the fourth and final season that returns in the fall on the CW. 

The Simpsons
Noon, Ballroom 20

Matt Groening, Matt Selman, Rob LaZebnik, Tim Bailey and special guest moderator Kevin Smith give an exclusive sneak preview of Treehouse of Horror 35 on the iconic animated series from 20th Television Animation, Fox and Disney+.

Abbott Elementary
12:30 p.m., Indigo Ballroom

Creator/star/executive producer Quinta Brunson and stars Tyler James Williams, Janelle James, Chris Perfetti, Lisa Ann Walter, William Stanford Davis and Sheryl Lee Ralph join EPs Justin Halpern, Patrick Schumacker, Randall Einhorn and Brian Rubenstein in a behind-the-scenes conversation about the ABC/20th TV comedy series.

American Dad!
1 p.m., Ballroom 20

Panelists for the 20th TV Animation/Fox/Hulu animated series include stars Wendy Schaal, Scott Grimes, Rachael MacFarlane, Dee Bradley Baker and Jeff Fischer, and EPs Matt Weitzman, Kara Vallow and Nic Wegener.

The Rookie
1:45 p.m., Indigo Ballroom

Executive producer/star Nathan Fillion, and stars Mekia Cox, Alyssa Diaz, Richard T. Jones, Melissa O’Neil, Eric Winter, Shawn Ashmore and Lisseth Chavez discuss the ABC/ABC Signature series ahead of its seventh season.

Wynonna Earp: Vengeance
1:45 p.m., Room 6A

Castmembers Melanie Scrofano, Tim Rozon, Dom Provost-Chalkley, Katherine Barrell and creator Emily Andras discuss the new adventures in a 90-minute scripted special on Tubi.

Family Guy
2 p.m., Ballroom 20

This 25th anniversary panel gathers castmembers Alex Borstein, Seth Green, Jennifer Tilly, Gary Cole and Mike Henry, and EPs Rich Appel, Alec Sulkin, Steve Callaghan and Kara Vallow to discuss the legacy of the 20th Television Animation/Hulu/Fox animated series.

Star Trek Universe
2:15 p.m., Hall H

The casts and creatives of Paramount+ series Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, Star Trek: Lower Decks, Star Trek: Starfleet Academy and Star Trek: Section 31, including the likes of Alex Kurtzman, gather in Hall H.

Batman: Caped Crusader
2:45 p.m., Room 6BCF

EP Matt Reeves and castmembers discuss key storylines from the upcoming Prime Video series that reimagines the Batman mythology and show off a world-premiere screening of the new season.

Tracker
3 p.m., Indigo Ballroom

Star/EP Justin Hartley and showrunner/EP Elwood Reid tease what’s next for Colter Shaw in Season 2 of the CBS series, which is based on Jeffrey Deaver’s novel The Never Game.

The Wild Robot
4:15 p.m., Room 6BCF

Writer-director Chris Sanders and stars Lupita Nyong’o and Kit Connor in a panel conversation about DreamWorks Animation’s new feature film, based on the bestselling book by Peter Brown.

Silo
4 p.m., Ballroom 20

Executive producer and star Rebecca Ferguson, Common, creator/showrunner Graham Yost, executive producer (and books’ author) Hugh Howey and surprise guests will discuss what to look forward to in Season 2.

The Penguin
4:45 p.m., Hall H

Stars Colin Farrell (virtually), Cristin Milioti and Rhenzy Feliz, EPs Matt Reeves and Dylan Clark and showrunner/EP Lauren LeFranc are expected, with the official trailer for the now-HBO series to be released during the session.

Anne Rice Universe: Interview With the Vampire and Mayfair Witches
5 p.m., Ballroom 20

Confirmed panelist for the AMC/AMC+ series include Interview with the Vampire EP Mark Johnson, showrunner / EP Rolin Jones and stars Sam Reid, Delainey Hayles, Assad Zaman and production designer Mara LePere-Schloop; and Mayfair Witches’ Johnson, showrunner / EP Esta Spalding and stars Alexandra Daddario, Harry Hamlin, Tongayi Chirisa , Ben Feldman, Jack Huston and Alyssa Jirrels.

Marvel Studios
6 p.m., Hall H

Marvel Studios president and producer Kevin Feige and special guests provide an inside look at the ever-expanding Marvel Cinematic Universe.

From
6:45 p.m., Indigo Ballroom

The cast and creative team of the MGM+ series take a sneak peek at the new questions and threats that await the townsfolk in Season 3.

Hellboy: The Crooked Man
6:45 p.m., Room 6DE

The cast of the upcoming film including Jack KesyJefferson WhiteAdeline Rudolph (Resident Evil)—director Brian Taylor (Crank), and Hellboy creator Mike Mignola will talk about the challenges and rewards of translating a comic book series to film in a panel moderated by Coy Jandreau (Reel Rejects).

Sunday, July 28

Star Trek: Prodigy
10 a.m., Room 6DE

Special screening of an episode from Season 2 of CBS Studios series, followed by conversation with Star Trek veteran and voice actor Kate Mulgrew and EPs Kevin and Dan Hageman to discuss the new season currently streaming on Netflix.

Yo Gabba GabbaLand!
12:30 p.m., Room 6DE

Co-creators Scott Schultz and Christian Jacobs look back at their original preschool pop culture phenomenon Yo Gabba Gabba! and look forward to its upcoming reboot series on Apple TV+. Panelists include original series’ voice actors, plus new series host Kammy Kam (Kamryn Smith).

Jurassic World: Chaos Theory
3 p.m., Room 6DE

EPs Scott Kreamer and Aaron Hammersley along with series cast members offer an inside look at the Netflix animated series and what’s in store for Season 2 of the DreamWorks Animation, Universal Pictures and Amblin Entertainment.

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Shah Rukh Khan, Salman Khan to Ranbir-Alia, Bollywood makes a night of Anant-Radhika wedding

Bollywood celebrities added glamour as they joined the festivities at Anant Ambani and Radhika Merchant’s star-studded wedding at the Jio World Conventional Centre in Mumbai on Friday.

Superstar Shah Rukh Khan attended the bash with his wife, designer Gauri Khan. Shah Rukh, who was on a brief visit to New York, landed in Mumbai ahead of the wedding and was photographed on the red carpet in a green pathani suit and accessories. Khan’s children Suhana and Aryan Khan also joined the star-studded guest list at the wedding.

Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan (L) with his wife Gauri Khan pose for photos as they arrive to attend the wedding ceremony of billionaire tycoon and Chairman of Reliance Industries Mukesh Ambani’s son Anant Ambani and Radhika Merchant in Mumbai on July 12, 2024.

Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan (L) with his wife Gauri Khan pose for photos as they arrive to attend the wedding ceremony of billionaire tycoon and Chairman of Reliance Industries Mukesh Ambani’s son Anant Ambani and Radhika Merchant in Mumbai on July 12, 2024.
| Photo Credit:
PUNIT PARANJPE

Ditching his black tuxedo signature look, Bollywood superstar Salman Khan opted for a dark blue pathani suit for the wedding ceremony. The ‘Tiger’ star arrived at the wedding venue with his sister Arpita.

Bollywood actor Salman Khan poses for a photograph with his sister Arpita at the wedding of Billionaire Mukesh Ambani’s son Anant Ambani and Radhika Merchant at Jio World Convention Centre in Mumbai, India, Friday, July 12, 2024

Bollywood actor Salman Khan poses for a photograph with his sister Arpita at the wedding of Billionaire Mukesh Ambani’s son Anant Ambani and Radhika Merchant at Jio World Convention Centre in Mumbai, India, Friday, July 12, 2024
| Photo Credit:
Rajanish Kakade

Mumbai: Actor Salman Khan upon his arrival to attend Anant Ambani and Radhika Merchant’s wedding, at Jio World Convention Centre, in Mumbai, Friday, July 12, 2024

Mumbai: Actor Salman Khan upon his arrival to attend Anant Ambani and Radhika Merchant’s wedding, at Jio World Convention Centre, in Mumbai, Friday, July 12, 2024
| Photo Credit:

Bollywood couple Ranbir Kapoor and Alia Bhatt graced venue in traditional outfits. Alia opted for a pink-coloured sari and completed her look with maang tika, jhumka and a stunning neckpiece. Ranbir chose to wear a sherwani for the occasion. Alia was seen holding Ranbir’s hand as they posed for the camera with a smile.

Bollywood actor Ranbir Kapoor (L) with his wife and actress Alia Bhatt pose for photos as they arrive to attend the wedding ceremony of billionaire tycoon and Chairman of Reliance Industries Mukesh Ambani’s son Anant Ambani and Radhika Merchant in Mumbai on July 12, 2024. Socialite sisters Kim and Khloe Kardashian were among the global celebrities spotted in India on July 12 to attend a lavish three-day wedding ceremony staged by Asia’s richest man Mukesh Ambani

Bollywood actor Ranbir Kapoor (L) with his wife and actress Alia Bhatt pose for photos as they arrive to attend the wedding ceremony of billionaire tycoon and Chairman of Reliance Industries Mukesh Ambani’s son Anant Ambani and Radhika Merchant in Mumbai on July 12, 2024. Socialite sisters Kim and Khloe Kardashian were among the global celebrities spotted in India on July 12 to attend a lavish three-day wedding ceremony staged by Asia’s richest man Mukesh Ambani
| Photo Credit:
PUNIT PARANJPE

Other celebrities who were spotted at Mumbai’s Jio World Drive venue of the wedding included Priyanka Chopra Jonas with her husband Nick Jonas, John Cena, AR Rahman, Ranveer Singh, Sanjay Dutt Anil Kapoor, Khushi Kapoor, Shanaya Kapoor, Arjun Kapoor and Sara Ali Khan. Each of them posed for shutterbugs.

Mumbai: Actor Priyanka Chopra with her husband and singer Nick Jonas poses for photographs upon her arrival to attend Anant Ambani and Radhika Merchant’s wedding, in Mumbai, Friday, July 12, 2024

Mumbai: Actor Priyanka Chopra with her husband and singer Nick Jonas poses for photographs upon her arrival to attend Anant Ambani and Radhika Merchant’s wedding, in Mumbai, Friday, July 12, 2024
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Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt poses for photos as he arrives to attend the wedding ceremony of billionaire tycoon and Chairman of Reliance Industries Mukesh Ambani’s son Anant Ambani and Radhika Merchant in Mumbai on July 12, 2024.

Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt poses for photos as he arrives to attend the wedding ceremony of billionaire tycoon and Chairman of Reliance Industries Mukesh Ambani’s son Anant Ambani and Radhika Merchant in Mumbai on July 12, 2024.
| Photo Credit:
PUNIT PARANJPE

Mumbai: Actor Khushi Kapoor poses for photos during Anant Ambani, Reliance Industries Chairman Mukesh Ambani’s son, and Radhika Merchant’s ‘Sangeet’ ceremony, in Mumbai, Friday, July 5, 2024.

Mumbai: Actor Khushi Kapoor poses for photos during Anant Ambani, Reliance Industries Chairman Mukesh Ambani’s son, and Radhika Merchant’s ‘Sangeet’ ceremony, in Mumbai, Friday, July 5, 2024.
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Bollywood actress Khushi Kapoor poses for a photo on her arrival for Reliance Industries Chairman Mukesh Ambani’s son Anant Ambani and Radhika Merchant’s wedding, at the Jio World Convention Centre, in Mumbai on Friday

Bollywood actress Khushi Kapoor poses for a photo on her arrival for Reliance Industries Chairman Mukesh Ambani’s son Anant Ambani and Radhika Merchant’s wedding, at the Jio World Convention Centre, in Mumbai on Friday
| Photo Credit:
ANI

Bollywood actress Sara Ali Khan along with her brother Ibrahim Ali Khan pose for a photo on their arrival for Reliance Industries Chairman Mukesh Ambani’s son Anant Ambani and Radhika Merchant’s wedding, at the Jio World Convention Centre, in Mumbai on Friday.

Bollywood actress Sara Ali Khan along with her brother Ibrahim Ali Khan pose for a photo on their arrival for Reliance Industries Chairman Mukesh Ambani’s son Anant Ambani and Radhika Merchant’s wedding, at the Jio World Convention Centre, in Mumbai on Friday.
| Photo Credit:
ANI

Mumbai, Jul 12 (ANI): Actor Anil Kapoor poses for a photo on his arrival for Reliance Industries Chairman Mukesh Ambani’s son Anant Ambani and Radhika Merchant’s wedding, at the Jio World Convention Centre, in Mumbai on Friday

Mumbai, Jul 12 (ANI): Actor Anil Kapoor poses for a photo on his arrival for Reliance Industries Chairman Mukesh Ambani’s son Anant Ambani and Radhika Merchant’s wedding, at the Jio World Convention Centre, in Mumbai on Friday
| Photo Credit:
ANI

Bollywood actors Amitabh Bachchan (3L), Jaya Bachchan (2L), Shweta Bachchan (C) her daughter Navya Nanda Naveli (1L), het son Agastya Nanda (3R), Nikhil Nanda (Shwet’s husband) (2R) and Abhishek Bachchan (1R) pose for photos

Bollywood actors Amitabh Bachchan (3L), Jaya Bachchan (2L), Shweta Bachchan (C) her daughter Navya Nanda Naveli (1L), het son Agastya Nanda (3R), Nikhil Nanda (Shwet’s husband) (2R) and Abhishek Bachchan (1R) pose for photos
| Photo Credit:
SUJIT JAISWAL

Bollywood actress Aishwarya Rai Bachchan (R) poses with her daughter Aaradhya as they arrive to attend the wedding ceremony of Anant Ambani (son of billionaire tycoon and Chairman of Reliance Industries Mukesh Ambani) and Radhika Merchant in Mumbai, on July 12, 2024

Bollywood actress Aishwarya Rai Bachchan (R) poses with her daughter Aaradhya as they arrive to attend the wedding ceremony of Anant Ambani (son of billionaire tycoon and Chairman of Reliance Industries Mukesh Ambani) and Radhika Merchant in Mumbai, on July 12, 2024
| Photo Credit:
PUNIT PARANJPE

Bollywood actors Sidharth Malhotra and his wife Kiara Advani pose for photos as they arrive to attend the wedding ceremony of Anant Ambani (son of billionaire tycoon and Chairman of Reliance Industries Mukesh Ambani) and Radhika Merchant in Mumbai, on July 12, 2024

Bollywood actors Sidharth Malhotra and his wife Kiara Advani pose for photos as they arrive to attend the wedding ceremony of Anant Ambani (son of billionaire tycoon and Chairman of Reliance Industries Mukesh Ambani) and Radhika Merchant in Mumbai, on July 12, 2024
| Photo Credit:
SUJIT JAISWAL

Mumbai: Actor Rekha poses for pictures upon her arrival to attend Anant Ambani and Radhika Merchant’s wedding, in Mumbai, Friday, July 12, 2024

Mumbai: Actor Rekha poses for pictures upon her arrival to attend Anant Ambani and Radhika Merchant’s wedding, in Mumbai, Friday, July 12, 2024
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Bollywood actor Shahid Kapoor with his wife Mira Rajput pose for photos as they arrive to attend the wedding ceremony of Anant Ambani (son of billionaire tycoon and Chairman of Reliance Industries Mukesh Ambani) and Radhika Merchant in Mumbai, on July 12, 2024

Bollywood actor Shahid Kapoor with his wife Mira Rajput pose for photos as they arrive to attend the wedding ceremony of Anant Ambani (son of billionaire tycoon and Chairman of Reliance Industries Mukesh Ambani) and Radhika Merchant in Mumbai, on July 12, 2024
| Photo Credit:
SUJIT JAISWAL

Bollywood actor Hrithik Roshan poses for photos as he arrives to attend the wedding ceremony of Anant Ambani (son of billionaire tycoon and Chairman of Reliance Industries Mukesh Ambani) and Radhika Merchant in Mumbai, on July 12, 2024

Bollywood actor Hrithik Roshan poses for photos as he arrives to attend the wedding ceremony of Anant Ambani (son of billionaire tycoon and Chairman of Reliance Industries Mukesh Ambani) and Radhika Merchant in Mumbai, on July 12, 2024
| Photo Credit:
SUJIT JAISWAL

A day before the wedding, American influencer Kim Kardashian and her sister Khloe Kardashian landed in India. This is reportedly Kim’s first trip to India. Former British Prime Ministers Tony Blair and Boris Johnson also arrived in India on last night.

Mumbai: Bollywood actor Janhvi Kapoor upon her arrival to attend Anant Ambani and Radhika Merchant’s wedding, at Jio World Convention Centre, in Mumbai, Friday, July 12, 2024.

Mumbai: Bollywood actor Janhvi Kapoor upon her arrival to attend Anant Ambani and Radhika Merchant’s wedding, at Jio World Convention Centre, in Mumbai, Friday, July 12, 2024.
| Photo Credit:

Mumbai: Bollywood actor Kriti Sanon upon her arrival to attend Anant Ambani and Radhika Merchant’s wedding, at Jio World Convention Centre, in Mumbai, Friday, July 12, 2024

Mumbai: Bollywood actor Kriti Sanon upon her arrival to attend Anant Ambani and Radhika Merchant’s wedding, at Jio World Convention Centre, in Mumbai, Friday, July 12, 2024
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The opulent wedding of Anant Ambani, the youngest son of Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani with Radhika Merchant promises to be a spectacular celebration of Indian culture, civilization, spirituality, Indian folk art, craftsmanship, music, cuisine, and much more.

The wedding decor theme of ‘An Ode to Varanasi,’ pays homage to the eternal city, its traditions, piety, culture, arts, crafts and Banarasi cuisine.Banarasi street food like chaat, mithai, lassi, chai, khari, paan, and mukhwas are on the menu. The carefully curated stalls and dedicated guest services have been designed for attendees to not only enjoy the event but also take away lasting memories of their journey through the ghats of Banaras.

From chaat to chai, Ode to Banaras features the culinary delights from one of the world’s oldest living cities. Apart from these, sweets, paan and mukhwas, kharik from Ahmedabad, chaat counters, malai toast and chai, lassi and lemon tea the food counters set up for guests promise to bring the Banaras’ rich and varied food culture to Mumbai.

Today’s wedding ceremony will be followed by ‘Shubh Aashirwad’ on July 13 and culminate with the Mangal Utsav or wedding reception on July 14, promising three days of revelry and jubilation for the Ambani and Merchant families.

(With ANI inputs)

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#Shah #Rukh #Khan #Salman #Khan #RanbirAlia #Bollywood #night #AnantRadhika #wedding

Anant Ambani weds Radhika Merchant: Son of Asia’s richest man marries in the year’s most extravagant wedding

Anant Ambani, the youngest son of Asia’s richest man, on Friday married pharmaceutical heiress and childhood sweetheart Radhika Merchant at a star-studded event attended by celebrities from across the globe, politicians, who’s who of Hindi and south Indian cinema world and almost all the top cricketers of the country.

Reality TV star Kim Kardashian and her sister Khloe, Nigerian rapper Rema, former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, and global business tycoons ranging from oil giant Saudi Aramco CEO Amin Nasser to Samsung Electronics chairman Jay Lee and drug major GSK plc chief executive Emma Walmsley were in attendance at the event that has been dubbed as the ‘wedding of the year’.

Reliance Industries Chairman Mukesh Ambani with wife Nita Ambani, sons Akash and Anant Ambani, daughter-in-law Shloka Mehta Ambani, daughter Isha Ambani and son-in-law Anand Piramal, poses for pictures upon their arrival for Anant and Radhika Merchant’s wedding, at Jio World Convention Centre, in Mumbai, on July 12, 2024.
| Photo Credit:
PTI

Almost the entire top rung bollywood actors — from Amitabh Bachchan, Shah Rukh Khan and Salman Khan to Ajay Devgn, Ranbir Kapoor, Alia Bhatt, Tiger Shroff and Varun Dhawan — were present, most with their families, while superstars Rajinikanth, Ram Charan and Mahesh Babu led the entourage from down south.

The wedding saw the entire gamut of Indian cricketers descend — from icons like Sachin Tendulkar and Mahendra Singh Dhoni to yesteryear great Krish Srikkanth and latest sensations Jasprit Bumrah, Hardik Pandya and Suryakumar Yadav.

Anant, 29, tied the knot with Radhika, daughter of Indian pharma tycoons Viren and Shaila Merchant, in a traditional Hindu ceremony at Mumbai’s Jio World Drive — a convention centre built and owned by the Ambani family.

Earlier, the groom, dressed in a rust orange sherwani, set off from Antilia — the Ambani family residence — in a luxurious red car covered in strings of white flowers for the convention centre, where the ‘baraat’ assembled for a short journey to the mandap.

Also read | From Radhika Merchant to Katrina Kaif, meet the designer who makes floral jewellery for weddings

Designer duo Abu Jani-Sandeep Khosla’s pastel hues dominated the Ambani family’s attire— from father and oil-to-telecom conglomerate Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh, to mother Nita, sister Isha and her husband Anand Piramal, and brother Akash. Aakash’s wife Shloka Metha was the only exception who wore a stunning hot pink lehenga adorned with crystals.

And the dress code was followed by the guests as well — both Indian and foreign.

American actor and rapper John Cena, and Tamil superstar Rajinikanth joined Anil Kapoor, Ranveer Singh and groom Anant Ambani himself for a dance in the ‘baraat’. Shah Rukh Khan hugged and danced with Nita as she and her husband welcomed King Khan and his family.

 Former WWF wrestler and actor John Cena upon his arrival to attend Anant Ambani and Radhika Merchant’s wedding, at Jio World Convention Centre, in Mumbai, on July 12, 2024.

Former WWF wrestler and actor John Cena upon his arrival to attend Anant Ambani and Radhika Merchant’s wedding, at Jio World Convention Centre, in Mumbai, on July 12, 2024.
| Photo Credit:
PTI

Some like Ananya Panday sported ‘Anant’s Brigade’ message on their dress for the baraat. Some others had ‘Mere Yaar ki Shaadi’ written.

The three-day wedding extravaganza is the final stop in a string of lavish parties the family has hosted since March. The couple were engaged in January 2023 and the Ambanis have hosted three lavish pre-wedding parties.

First a three-day pre-wedding celebration was held in March in the family’s refinery township of Jamnagar in Gujarat that hosted tech billionaires Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner in the 1,200-strong guest list, and had an exclusive performance by Rihanna.

David Blaine did magic tricks and the festivities also involved a trip to Ambani’s ‘animal rescue center’ housing exotic animals.

In May, the Ambanis set off on a four-day Mediterranean cruise starting in the Italian city of Palermo, featuring on-deck concerts from the Backstreet Boys, Pitbull, and David Guetta, and a performance by Katy Perry at a masquerade ball at the Château de la Croix des Gardes mansion in France. DJ David Guetta played at a toga party at sea. The cruise ended in Italy’s Portofino, where tenor Andrea Bocelli serenaded the party in the town square.

Last week, Justin Bieber performed at the ‘sangeet’ or musical night.

The lavish wedding itself will be a three-day affair, with a small dinner for exclusive guests on Saturday and a grand reception on July 14.

The Ambanis have not revealed how much Anant’s wedding is costing. But the gala scale of the celebration included a ₹5-6 lakh per piece invitation consisting of an intricate chest incorporating a mini silver temple, and three Falcon-2000 jets being rented to ferry wedding guests to the event.

It was rumoured Rihanna had been paid USD 7 million for her performance and Bieber $10 million (close to ₹84 crore).

Mukesh and Nita in the past had lavish weddings for their other children too — Beyoncé performed at daughter Isha Ambani’s 2018 nuptials that boasted guests like Hillary Clinton and John Kerry, and a year later Coldplay’s Chris Martin performed at Aaksh’s pre-wedding bash in St Moritz, Switzerland, and Maroon 5 at his wedding in Mumbai.

The 2018 wedding of Isha was billed as the most expensive wedding in India to date with some estimates putting the cost up to $100 million.

Mukesh Ambani, 67, is at present the world’s 11th richest man with a net worth of USD 119 billion, according to Bloomberg Billionaire Index. He spent the last two decades in transforming Reliance Industries, founded by his father in 1966 as a stodgy oil and petrochemicals giant, into a global empire spanning telecoms, retail, financial services, cricket and luxury fashion.

Anant Ambani is the youngest of his three children, all of whom are on the board of Reliance Industries. He is involved in Reliance’s energy businesses and is on the board of Reliance Foundation.

The guest list includes former Indian president Ram Nath Kovind, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M K Stalin, and Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi.

Anant styled the sherwani, which featured a bandhgala neckline, intricate golden embroidery, front button closures adorned with precious gems, full-length sleeves, and padded shoulders, with white pyjamas, beige sneakers embellished with gold sequins, and a gold elephant brooch.

Not just the Ambani family complemented the groom-to-be in ethnic outfit, the guests arriving too wore designer Indian dresses.

John Cena arrived at the wedding in a powder blue bandhgala with silver embroidery. Superstar Rajnikanth, daughter Soundarya and her husband and son wore traditional Tamil wear.

The Kardashians, who arrived here late on Thursday to a red carpet welcome at the Taj Mahal Hotel, took an auto rickshaw ride through the bustling streets of Mumbai ahead of the wedding. The sisters are said to have brought a team of stylists, including celebrity hairstylist Chris Appleton, along with a group of producers to capture every detail of their trip.



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#Anant #Ambani #weds #Radhika #Merchant #Son #Asias #richest #man #marries #years #extravagant #wedding

‘Indian 2’ movie review: Kamal Haasan, Shankar’s underwhelming sequel relies more on its past legacy and future promise

After making his debut with the Robin Hood-esque Gentleman and mounting a simple love story on a complex political backdrop with his sophomore film Kadhalan, director Shankar dialled it up to eleven with his third film, Indian. Apart from the trope of a former freedom fighter taking up arms against those decimating his country, the poignant backstory gave the titular hero a reason to turn vigilante, a cause worth sacrificing even his own son. This sense of emotional turmoil the character had and the empathy it rightfully extracted from us are just some of the many crucial elements that the sequel Indian 2 misses.

Senapathy (Kamal Haasan), who reaches Hong Kong at the end of Indian, is now in Taiwan, the land where his idol Subhas Chandra Bose died. While those who waited for Bose’s return never got to see that, a bunch of YouTubers, disillusioned by corruption, trend #ComeBackIndian on social media causing the veteran to return to his homeland. While everyone expects him to serve justice with his belt buckle knife, he first asks the country’s youngsters to call out the corrupt folks in their own households because… cleaning starts at home.

Indian 2 (Tamil)

Director: Shankar

Cast: Kamal Haasan, Siddharth, Rakul Preet Singh, SJ Suryah, Bobby Simha, Vivek, Priya Bhavani Shankar

Runtime: 180 minutes

Storyline: Witnessing corruption and scams once again rearing their ugly heads, Senapathy returns to his homeland to finish what he started

Probably the biggest takeaway of Indian 2 is how the sequel tries to shed light on the people behind corruption and the aftermath of ratting out on those near and dear; lives are lost and families are broken. The very idea of focusing on the aftermath of being straight as an arrow, something which Shankar toyed with the death of Senapathy’s daughter in the first part, makes for an endearing ethical dilemma that our ‘Indian’ and ‘Indians’ who count on him had to encounter. But this idea, unlike Senapathy’s knife, barely scratches the surface.

A still from ‘Indian 2’

A still from ‘Indian 2’
| Photo Credit:
Special Arrangement

What we are left with are templates that we once used to love in Shankar’s films — grand sets, songs in exotic locales, and huge action set pieces, as well as tropes we long-hoped the veteran would let go of. Cringed at the gross portrayal of the trans makeup artist from I? There’s an unnecessarily problematic scene here where our hero, with his varma kalai, makes a womaniser/rich man act effeminate. Remember the “kuppathu porikki pasanga” stereotype from Mudhalvan? Now they’re apparently youngsters with bright-coloured hair hiding behind the anonymity of the Internet and abusing people online. Ever accessed the government’s welfare schemes, dubbed freebies? Well, according to the film, you should be ashamed of being bribed to overlook substandard governance.

A scene features an unskilled doctor looking for the patient’s appendix while operating on her from her back. The film milks this caricaturish portrayal of a doctor for an emotional sequence. But it strays away from talking about more pressing issues like the NEET fiasco that’s straining the future of medical professionals in the country. In another instance, Shankar equates the snitching of a man taking lakhs of rupees as a bribe with a fisherwoman who is caught for adding weight to increase her catch’s price. In the filmmaker’s Garuda Purana — as Anniyan mentions in his film — crime is not a vest to be measured as small, large and extra large. While a similar wealthy official who gets arrested for corruption walks scot-free the same day, the film never tells us the fate of those caught akin to the fisherwoman. Shankar’s solutions to issues have mostly been authoritative and idealistic, but they seldom look at the grassroots-level causes behind them. Yet, his skewered take on everyday issues is the least of Indian 2’s worries.

Unlike Indian, the sequel takes the war against corruption across the country. You know the film isn’t fooling around when the smoking and drinking statutory warnings are replaced with a line that goes, “Corruption causes cancer to the nation”. While the film showcases a rogues’ gallery of villains from different states— indulging in everything from granite scams to recruitment scams — none of the punishments meted out to them feel as cathartic as the ones we saw in the original film. The fact that they range from singing non-stop till they drop dead or running like a horse (complete with neighing noises, I kid you not) till they die of exhaustion isn’t exactly as menacing as what Shankar does with villains in his older films.

Apart from Kamal, it’s Siddharth along with his gang of friends, played by Priya Bhavani Shankar, Jagan and Rishikanth, who get most of the screen-time, but their trials and tribulations never hit us hard, unlike what the character of Manorama goes through in Indian. The fact that all it takes is one worldwide trending hashtag, #ComeBackIndian, for Senapathy to end his vanavaas and come to India, and another trend #GoBackIndian for the whole nation to vouch against our hero, feels extremely artificial.

What hurts the most are two aspects: how the grandeur Shankar is known for falls like a house of cards when not backed with a sturdy plot and how the very character of Senapathy is altered to make the umpteen theories that floated online before the film’s release sound better. For starters, the visually stunning ‘Calendar Song’, or any song for that matter, add no value to the film. And when Senapathy, chased by a gang of goons, runs inside a glass-making company, you can almost hear late Vivek’s line from Vedi, “Welcome to fight location” in your ears. Senapathy, in 1996’s Indian, was an old, hunched man whose superpower, apart from varma kalai, was to look like any other individual and that gave him the cover to make his kills and escape without a trace. In Indian 2, though, he’s seen jumping walls, intruding impenetrable places, fighting an assemblage of baddies and even escaping with an electric unicycle in a tediously long chase sequence.

A still from ‘Indian 2’

A still from ‘Indian 2’
| Photo Credit:
Special Arrangement

A brilliant Krishnaswamy (Nedumudi Venu) proved to be a worthy enemy to Senapathy in the original film. But in Indian 2, his son Pramod (Bobby Simha) is just another typical Tamil film cop primarily used by Senapathy to call out nepotism similar to varisu arasiyal. Similarly, SJ Suryah, who we assume is the main antagonist in the next sequel, appears merely for seconds just like other veterans like Brahmanandam. Even the dialogues don’t work in favour of the film; we are attacked with lines like ‘idhu karumam illa, varumam’ and ‘soththu kaga oduna nee ippo death kaga odu’.

Finally, you know a film is in deep trouble these days when even Anirudh can’t salvage it with his score. Interestingly, Indian 2 reuses a lot of AR Rahman’s original score; not only does it work brilliantly, but also makes for some of the best moments in the film.

And speaking of earlier outings, the references to Shankar and Kamal’s previous works, especially Indian, are aplenty, including a homage of sorts to Goundamani and Senthil. But despite a barrage of ideas that usually work wonders in Shankar’s projects, most of them fall flat thanks to an uninteresting treatment that stretches the sequel to two films. A glimpse at the end teases what’s in store in Indian 3…. this 140-odd-second clip delivers what the 180-minute film couldn’t. Banking on the nostalgic value of its predecessor and a visibly intriguing sequel that’s coming up next year, Indian 2 struggles to be relevant and entertaining. More than #ComeBackIndian, we hope Indian 3 will be a comeback for the veteran filmmaker and the legendary actor.

Indian 2 is currently running in theatres

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#Indian #movie #review #Kamal #Haasan #Shankars #underwhelming #sequel #relies #legacy #future #promise

Lantana turns into decor and elephant sculptures

If you thought illegal encroachments in cities and land being poached are issues limited to the human world, unfortunately it is a common occurrence in nature too. Especially when one speaks about invasive plant species like the Lantana camara. The flowering shrub, among the world’s top 10 invasive species, was introduced to India as an ornamental plant in the early 1800s. Since, it has taken over entire ecosystems, and eaten into forests across the country. As per reports, ‘multiple hybrid varieties of lantana were brought to India and over the 200 years of its introduction, the varieties have hybridised and formed a complex’. Lantana is known to envelop and ‘entangle other plants by forming a dense thicket, and spread on the forest floor as a scrambling shrub’. To help tackle this, a few organisations have been actively clearing the weed in certain pockets and employing locals to craft furniture, decor artefacts, and even sculptures. We explore three such establishments in South India.

Providing sustainable livelihoods for forest-dependent communities is a key part of The Lantana Project
| Photo Credit:
Special Arrangement

The Shola Trust, Nilgiris

USP: Life-sized elephant sculptures

Price: The elephants are sold upwards of $8,000 (6 lakh) on partner websites

Over a decade ago, in 2009 to be precise, The Lantana Project was launched by the non-profit conservation organisation based in Gudalur, at the edge of the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve in the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve. Established two years prior, The Shola Trust was on a mission to promote “human-inclusive models of nature conservation, drawing inspiration from the unique high-altitude sholas of the Nilgiris and the indigenous communities living there”, says Tarsh Thekaekara, co-founder of The Shola Trust. He adds that the primary reason for launching The Lantana Project was to address “the widespread problem posed by Lantana camara, the invasive shrub species that was choking the forests of the Nilgiris, reducing biodiversity, and making it difficult for both wildlife and local communities to thrive”.

In numbers
In forest areas at the National scale, total lantana infestation is 40% of India’s forests, more than four times the combined area of all tiger reserves in the country
It contains the toxins, Lantanadene A and B in the leaves, making it inedible for all herbivores, so significant biodiversity reduction occurs in forests (Sharma et al. 1981) and increasing human-wildlife conflict as animals are pushed outside forests.
In the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve at the core of the Western Ghats, the area of dense infestation is around 2000 sq.km.
The first eradication plan for India was in 1916, in the forests of Coorg (Karnataka) and Benna (Mudumalai/TN) (Tiremen 1916), and all efforts since then have failed, both in India and around world (Bhagwat et al. 2012).
Credit: The Shola Trust

The project aimed to manage and reduce the spread of lantana, while simultaneously providing sustainable livelihoods for forest-dependent communities. The first effort involved roping in locals to craft furniture from lantana, supported by Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE). “ATREE played a crucial role in our efforts by helping us train artisans to make furniture out of lantana. Their expertise and support provided the foundation for our work with lantana and enabled us to develop the necessary skills within our community,” says Thekaekara, who also collaborated with brands such as The Purple Turtles and Oorjaa who crafted lampshades and bins with lantana. “These collabs showed promise in improving both sales and awareness about the lantana issue, but were not employing large numbers of people of providing significant livelihood. We have since shifted away from furniture making due to a better value proposition with elephants,” he explains. 

A significant challenge was that the adivasi way of working was not aligned with factory production assembly lines

A significant challenge was that the adivasi way of working was not aligned with factory production assembly lines
| Photo Credit:
Special Arrangement

Today, the Trust works with ATREE, WWF, and NCBS (also a part of the research and advocacy platform, Lantana Collective),  in research around how to restore forests after removing lantana. It is also involved with creating life-sized elephant sculptures for The Real Elephant Collective, an organisation Thekaekara founded in 2016 alongside Shubhra Nayar Subhash and Tariq T. He says it began as a response to mobilise the cultural affinity towards elephants, leveraging their popularity to garner social capital and channel it towards real-world conservation efforts. “These sculptures are crafted by artisans from across South India, many of whom experience the daily negotiation with Nature first-hand. The Real Elephant Collective, along with Coexistence Story USA and Elephant Family UK, takes herds of these life-sized elephants to green spaces worldwide. About 150 have gained employment, earning over ₹4 crore in the last six years, compared to about ₹30 lakh in making furniture in the eight years before that” says Thekaekara, adding that the sale of these sculptures primarily occurs through international exhibitions and auctions, primarily to raise funds for conservation.

One would think mainstream furniture and collabs with design houses would deem it a successful project, but the on-ground reality is way different. While these collaborations raised “some awareness and improved sales”, Thekaekara says the overall impact was limited. “A significant challenge was that the adivasi way of working was not aligned with factory production assembly lines. The elephant sculptures have successfully managed to overcome that, providing a model that better fits their working style which includes taking days off for festivals, a preference for working in large groups, etc,” he explains, adding that this approach, however, means the cost of production is higher than other market products. Thus, a high-margin, low-volume business model was deemed more suitable for these communities. “Their inability to manage cash flows and find their own markets were also significant challenges. In total, we realised that expecting the indigenous communities to run enterprises after a one-month training programme in skill building was far too optimistic. There were so many more aspects to running a business that needed handholding and support and so our initiative was setting them up to fail.”

More importantly, the furniture project only partially served their purpose of clearing lantana from forests. “Despite our efforts, the amount of lantana cleared for furniture making was not clearing lantana from significant areas and restoring forests, since only a few stems can be used for this.”

(L to R) Chandran, Pradeep, Arun, Ketan, O. Ramesh, Pravin, Manikandan, Ketan and Mani, artisans at The Shola Trust

(L to R) Chandran, Pradeep, Arun, Ketan, O. Ramesh, Pravin, Manikandan, Ketan and Mani, artisans at The Shola Trust
| Photo Credit:
Special Arrangement

A new effort is now underway, to pulverise the entire plant and sell the biomass. The Real Elephant Collective with the help of The Shola Trust has made “significant progress in developing ecologically appropriate machinery for large-scale lantana removal, integrating removal, restoration, habitat improvement, and livelihood creation into a circular economy model”. Thekaekara says the use of lantana in its natural form to produce furniture and high-end art products, as well as in a pulverised form for applications such as pellets and boards, shows promise. “Producing biochar from lantana can sequester carbon and promote sustainable agriculture, further amplifying the environmental benefits of this project,” he adds. The Trust is now working towards eradicating Senna spectabilis, another invasive species, by using appropriate machinery to remove trees and roots, and a Senna toy-making unit has also been set up.

Furniture crafted at ATREE

Furniture crafted at ATREE
| Photo Credit:
Special Arrangement

ATREE, MM Hills, Karnataka

USP: Baskets, chairs, cots, and bookshelves

Price: Between 200 and 30,000s

Harisha R.P., project coordinator, ATREE

Harisha R.P., project coordinator, ATREE
| Photo Credit:
Special Arrangement

The research outfit’s Lantana Craft Centre (LCC) that launched in 2004 was aimed at addressing the high density (70%) of lantana in the dry deciduous forest areas in MM Hills. “This impacted local biodiversity and I tried to create livelihood opportunities for local forest-dependent communities,” says Harisha R.P., project coordinator, ATREE, who started LCC by employing locals (who earn between ₹15,000-20,000 every month) to craft artefacts and furniture.

Over the years, around 105 different lantana craft products were developed by the craftsmen. These include baskets, chairs, cots, bookshelves, and other decor artefacts. “There is no retail outlet, and products are crafted on-order,” says Harisha, of the 120-member artisan cluster in MM Hills, a town in Karnataka. While the lantana is sourced from the adjoining forest, it is a difficult task. He explains, “Collectors have to travel a minimum of 5 kms inside the forest as the density of lantana has decreased close to their settlements, which is a good thing and will have a positive impact on the regeneration of native species.”

Como Agua, Goa, is a restaurant themed on a bird’s nest

Como Agua, Goa, is a restaurant themed on a bird’s nest
| Photo Credit:
Special Arrangement

Bamboo Pecker, Bengaluru

USP: Large-scale projects with lantana

Price: Seaters upwards of ₹18,000; Structural cladding upwards of ₹320 per sq.ft.

At the sustainable home and lifestyle brand championing grass varieties such as bamboo and sabai, experiments with lantana started a few years ago. Director Suman Roddam explains how he had tried working with the shrub in 2015 as a replacement to cane, “but unfortunately that was shelved because of the requirement to change our factory process extensively in order to use this material in furniture”. Later, in 2021, the team started working with lantana again, but this time around in its raw form, with zero processing. “The fact that architecture and design firms were looking for alternatives to add radical and rustic components to their designs helped us bring this material back to the market. This second life for lantana in space and architectural design is here to stay as it possibly has no cheaper alternative,” says Roddam, adding that such design solutions are not just sustainable, but regenerative. 

Suman Roddam

Suman Roddam
| Photo Credit:
Special Arrangement

For his first lantana-based project in Goa, Como Agua, Roddam was asked to design and build a restaurant themed on a bird’s nest. “Birds build their nests with twigs that they forage, and we built a nest with Lantana camara, where people can dine in a space designed to resemble a weaver bird’s nest,” says the designer. The project was executed entirely by the tribal communities of Rajahmundry, Andhra Pradesh, and the lantana was harvested by the tribal communities of Chamarajanagar division, Karnataka. “Our cane artisans trained them in weaving with lantana. These artisans who were only into agricultural activities have realised this as an alternative income source. This project also helped us realise the dream to find an opportunity to showcase this material architecturally to the world and highlight the ecological issues posed by this fast-growing invasive weed in our forests.”  Other commercial projects with lantana include Socials at Prestige Tech Pacific, Bengaluru, Laval Areosa, Goa, and a new project for Brahma Brews in Bengaluru, among others. 

Cohin in Goa

Cohin in Goa
| Photo Credit:
Special Arrangement

The studio currently works only on custom orders and projects. “We are actively working with various organisations to incorporate this material in their projects as installations, lighting, outdoor furniture, fencing, cladding, etc. We are also exploring its usage in land and country borders as well as highway barriers,” says Roddam, who is now working on a line of outdoor furniture with the plant. As for maintenance, he says that unlike bamboo and cane, which require pre-processing to prevent insect attacks, Lantana camara has medicinal properties and a low starch content that keeps insects from eating and boring into it. “We recommend dusting and spray washing the products made of lantana with water once in a while. Since we are using it predominantly outdoors, we encourage our clients to let lantana transform and weather naturally.”

Elaborating on the challenges faced when working with lantana, Roddam says it is an unorganised sector, harvesting the invasive species requires permissions from the forest department “which we believe is unnecessary”. “In addition, for lantana to be a long-term architectural solution, we will require organisations working on the ground to train local tribes to harvest it the right way. It needs to be cut off from the root system to ensure that it does not regrow.”

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Sarfira Review: Akshay Kumar’s Film Does Not Exactly Soar Above The Clouds

Akshay Kumar in Sarfira. (courtesy: akshaykumar)

Two competing stars – the story and the lead actor Akshay Kumar – jostle for domination in Sarfira, Sudha Kongara’s remake of her own National Award-winning Soorarai Pottru. The trouble is that they pull in different directions to the detriment of a film that is also undone a tad by a singular lack of nuance.

The fictionalized biopic of Air Deccan founder G.R. Gopinath never manages to ascend to cruising altitude in its dramatization of the birth pangs of a low-cost airline launched at the turn of the millennium. Worse, Sarfira abounds in passages that drown in puddles of mush.

The much-awarded and applauded Tamil original did not shy away from delivering over-dramatic, tear-jerking punches. In the Hindi iteration, which otherwise stays true to the screenplay and surface texture of the 2020 film, the tone fluctuates way too much and the tale feels and sounds more screechy.

Too much of anything, especially melodrama that draws inspiration from real life, is inevitably counter-productive. It definitely is in Sarfira. The mission of the protagonist is noble and egalitarian. The forces inimical to him – these are people and a system that are self-serving and status quoist – have no redeeming features. And to be sure, everything that can go wrong for the crusader for equality 35,000 feet above the ground goes wrong in ways that beggar belief.

The narrative is black and white. It has no space for shades of grey. Relentlessly shrill, the characters engage in declamatory exchanges rather than taking recourse to simple, relatable communication with each other. They holler. They hector. They adopt hackneyed postures to indicate their stance with regard to the class divide that the hero is out to dismantle in a key sector of the economy.

The story is undeniably engaging. A man from an underprivileged background – he is the only son of a schoolteacher in a Maharashtra village where no train stops – battles deep-rooted prejudices and enormous hurdles in pursuit of his dream of launching an airline that would, in his own words, be an Udupi restaurant in the air.

Sarfira does not exactly soar above the clouds although Akshay Kumar plunges headlong into a role that has far more meat than many of the other roles that he has played in recent years. The hammy bits are hard to ignore, but Sarfira does have moments that allow the star to demonstrate his wares to a greater extent than he usually does.

He plays Vir Mhatre, a man of action unlike his estranged father. He leaves home after a fallout. He earns a short service commission in the Indian Air Force as a pilot officer. His mother (Seema Biswas, stepping in for Urvashi who played the role in Soorarai Pottru) pines for him and certainly not in silence. In fact, nobody does anything in silence in Sarfira.

Disgruntled with his commanding officer (R. Sharathkumar), Vir, along with two colleagues, Chaitanya “Che” Rao (Krishnakumar Balasubramanian reprising his Soorarai Pottru role) and Sam (Saurabh Goyal), quits the job and sets his plan to make flying affordable for everybody in motion.

He goes toe-to-toe with his one-time idol, Paresh Goswami (Paresh Rawal, unchanged from the Tamil original) of Jaz Airlines, a company that enjoys complete monopoly in the aviation business. A throwaway line suggests that the super-successful entrepreneur is himself from a humble background, but there isn’t much else in the script that could help the audience get a rounded notion of who the man really is.

Goswami, who, like everything else in the Sarfira script, is etched out with very broad strokes, is averse to the idea of letting common people board airplanes. In every scene that the character is in, he peddles a single idea in a multiplicity of ways – running an airline is no child’s play and high flying isn’t for the riff-raff. Vir takes it upon himself to prove him wrong.

No matter how bad things get for him, Vir has his wife, Rani Divekar (Radhikka Madan), as a sage counsellor. She owns a bakery and plans to expand its size and scope. When the chips are down and domestic discord threatens to derail their marriage, she takes the reins in her own hands.

The chemistry between Akshay Kumar and Radhikka Madan is nowhere near the self-propelling kind that Suriya and Aparna Balamurali achieved. That drags Sarfira down quite a few notches even as it scores a few points by giving the woman in the marriage the upper hand when things really matter.

But no other character is delineated quite as sharply. Akshay Kumar is the star of the show. He does not concede much ground to the supporting characters. Vir’s mother, his childhood pal Mandar (Anil Charanjeett) or Rani’s maternal uncle (Jay Upadhyay) – people who had infinitely more impact in the Tamil film – merely hover in the backdrop.

That is not to say that Sarfira deviates in any major way from Soorarai Pottru. It is a scene-to-scene rehash although the primary location is shifted from a village in Tamil Nadu and Chennai to a hamlet in Maharashtra and Mumbai.

The character names have changed accordingly – Nedumaaran Rajangam becomes Vir Jagannath Mhatre and Sundari becomes Rani – but everything else in Sarfira – sequences, situations, dialogues – is exactly the same.

One, therefore, wonders why the remake was at all necessary especially when a dubbed Hindi version of Soorarai Pottru has been available on a streaming platform for years.

One significant similarity between the two pertains to their shallow treatment of the caste angle. Both Nedumaaran in Soorarai Pottru and Vir in Sarfira express the desire to break not only the cost barrier but also the caste barrier. The film harps constantly on affordability of air travel – the plot pivots around it – but the other crucial C-word is uttered only once without creating a meaningful context for it anywhere else in the film.

If you have seen Soorarai Pottru, Sarfira will spring no surprises. If you haven’t, are an Akshay Kumar fan and do not mind overboiled, excessively stirred drama, it might be worth a trip to a multiplex near you.

Cast:

Akshay Kumar, Paresh Rawal, Radhikka Madan, Seema Biswas, R. Sarath Kumar, Saurabh Goyal, Krishnakumar Balasubramanian, Irawati Harshe Mayadev, Anil Charanjeett, Prakash Belawadi, Rahul Vohra

Director:

Sudha Kongara



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