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Indian-Origin Costume designer Sonu Mishra to dress up Oscar-winning Geoffrey Rush as Albert Einstein for NatGeo series “Genius”

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Albert Einstein, VOA

Chicago, May 8, 2017: If clothes do indeed make the actor, then costume designer Sonu Mishra has just finished making the Oscar-winning Geoffrey Rush as Albert Einstein.

As the costume designer on “Genius”, the National Geographic’s high-profile series about the physicist, Mishra has enjoyed an opportunity to exercise her creative sartorial vision even while keeping it “authentic to the period”.

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The series’ Oscar-winning director Ron Howard’s most important brief to Mishra while designing the costumes was to ensure authenticity. In order to achieve that, Mishra, a Mumbai and New York-trained designer, closely studied the evolution of dressing styles, fabric and cultural changes over close to seven decades between 1886 and 1955 during which Einstein lived.

Mishra said she did not go about just designing the costumes but in a sense recreated the whole era with clothes as the reference point. “I had to keep in mind the socio-cultural backgrounds of the various characters which would reflect in the way they dressed up in terms of their hats and other accessories. We chose the dressing style on the basis of who those individuals were in real life,” Mishra told IANS in a phone interview from Rome.

“It was like a painting with so many pieces. Einstein was the main focus, but I had to consider an entire cast of characters that included great scientists such as Max Planck, Niels Bohr and Marie Curie. These were all powerful and amazing personalities whom we had to also represent through their clothes,” Mishra said.

Along with the make-up, costumes constitute the frontline of any movie or television production. In historically demanding roles such as Einstein’s, actors are known to pay particular attention to the clothes because they can make or break their movements and gait and, eventually, performance. Mishra said it was a joy and privilege fitting Rush and other members of the cast because “Genius” is a period piece about the world’s most famous scientist’s personal life.

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While doing background research before designing the clothes, Mishra said she discovered that students in the Europe of the late 19th and early 20th centuries were known to dress up formally and in a classical style. That was equally true of Einstein, unlike the more popular view of him as a stylishly dishevelled, absent-minded scientist.

“He acquired that relaxed look only after coming to America where dressing was far more informal than in Europe. It was only in America that Einstein’s way of dressing underwent a dramatic change toward the look we all seem so familiar with,” Mishra said. Even within Europe, she had to pay attention to the differences in the way the young Einstein and others dressed up during his days as a student at Zurich’s Polytechnic Institute and a working scientist in Prague later.

Quite apart from choosing the right fabrics, Mishra had to bear in mind finer details such as collars, hats, ties, belts and cravats. In addition, fabrics had to be linen, cotton, gabardine and corduroy . “Anything that was not natural had to be avoided because of the early period,” she said. Mishra said she found the changes in the evolution of women’s costumes for the same period as men “quite rapid”. Details such as hip pads and bicycle skirts had to be taken into consideration.

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While Mishra found fitting costumes for the entire cast exciting and joyful, it was particularly so for Rush as Einstein. “We had to make sure that he and all other actors felt comfortable, especially for him because the series rides on Geoffrey,” she said.

Mishra graduated in fashion design at Sophia College, Mumbai. She moved to New York as 19-year-old in 1989 to work in the wardrobe department at the Roundabout Theatre Company on Broadway and at Odds Costume Rentals. After that stint she moved to Rome where she has emerged as a successful costume designer for major television and movie productions, both Italian and international.

Mishra does not necessarily keep her Indian background as a reference point while working on international projects because their requirements tend to be rather different. However, she said, she is subconsciously influenced by the rich fabrics and colours of India.

Asked about the difference between designing for the movies and television projects, she said, “Television tends to be very focused and costumes are often concentrated on the upper part of the body because of the close-up nature of the medium. The movies, on the other, hand are broader. Of course, both depend a great deal on the kind of scripts,” she said.

Mishra has no plans to work on any Indian productions so far mainly because her hands are full with opportunities in European and American productions. “Genius” in general and working with Ron Howard in particular could open major doors for her in America, although she sees herself mainly based in Rome. She has, of course, worked on major US productions such as Martin Scorsese’s “Gangs of New York” and Renny Harlin’s “The Legend of Hercules”, apart from the TV mini-series “Prison Break: Sequel”.

Apart from television and movies, Mishra has designed for a host of international commercials that include an airline, a beverage company and a brand of post-pay card. (IANS)

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Mahalaya: Beginning of “Devipaksha” in Bengali Celebration of ‘Durga Puja’

“Mahalaya” is the auspicious occasion that marks the beginning of “Devipaksha” and the ending of “Pitripaksha” and heralds the celebration of Durga Puja

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Mahalaya morning in Kolkata. Flickr
  • Mahalaya 2017 Date: 19th september.
  • On Mahalaya, people throng to the holy river Ganges in order to pay homage to their ancestors and forefathers; which is called ‘Torpon’
  • Mahalaya remains incomplete without the magical chanting of the scriptural verses from the ‘Chandi Kavya’ that is broadcasted in All India Radio
  • The magic is induced by the popular Birendra Krishna Bhadra whose voice makes the recitation of the “Chandi Kavya” even more magnificent

Sept 19, 2017: Autumn is the season of the year that sees the Hindus, all geared up to celebrate some of the biggest festivals of India. The festive spirit in the Bengalis all enthused to prepare for the greatest of the festivals, the ‘Durga Puja’.

About Mahalaya:

Mahalaya is the auspicious occasion that marks the beginning of “Devipaksha” and the ending of “Pitripaksha,” and this year it is celebrated on September 19.

Observed exactly a week before the ‘Durga Puja’, Mahalaya is the harbinger of the arrival of Goddess Durga. It is celebrated to invoke the goddess possessing supreme power! The goddess is invited to descend on earth and she is welcomed with devotional songs and holy chants of mantras. On this day, the eye is drawn in the idols of the Goddess by the artisans marking the initiation of “Devipaksha”. Mahalaya arrives and the countdown to the Durga Puja begins!

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The day of Mahalaya bears supreme significance to the Bengalis. The day is immensely important because on this day people throng to the holy river Ganges in order to pay homage to their ancestors and forefathers. Clad in white dhotis, people offer prayers and take dips in the river while praying for their demised dear ones. The ritual is popular as “Torpon”.

Mahalaya
An idol-maker in progress of drawing the eye in the idol of the Goddess. Wikipedia

As per Hindu myth, on “Devipaksha”, the Gods and the Goddesses began their preparations to celebrate “Mahamaya” or Goddess Durga, who was brought upon by the trinity- Brahma, Vishnu, and Maheshwara; to annihilate the fierce demon king named Mahishasura. The captivating story of the Goddess defeating the demon got popularized with the goddess being revered as “Durgatinashini” or the one who banishes all the evils and miseries of the world. The victory of the Goddess is celebrated as ‘Durga Puja’.

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Mahalaya remains incomplete without the magical chanting of the scriptural verses from the ‘Chandi Kavya’ that is broadcasted at dawn in All India Radio in the form of a marvelous audio montage enthralling the souls of the Bengalis. Presented with wonderful devotional music, acoustic drama, and classical songs- the program is also translated to Hindi and played for the whole pan-Indian listeners.

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Mahalaya
Birendra Krishna Bhadra (1905-1991). Wikipedia

The program is inseparable from Mahalaya and has been going on for over six decades till date. The magic is induced by the popular Birendra Krishna Bhadra whose voice makes the recitation of the “Chandi Kavya” even more magnificent! He has been a legend and the dawn of Mahalaya turns insipid without the reverberating and enchanting voice of the legendary man.

Mahalaya will keep spreading the magic and setting the vigor of the greatest festival of the Bengalis- the Durga Puja, to worship the supreme Goddess, eternally.

                 “Yaa Devi Sarbabhuteshu, Shakti Rupena Sanhsthita,

                     Namastaswai Namastaswai Namastaswai Namo Namaha.”

– by Antara Kumar of NewsGram. Twitter: @ElaanaC

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Three Perils of Smartphones Your Teen May be Prone to!

Undermentioned are the three effects of smartphones

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Smartphones
Girl using smartphones. Pixabay

Aug 03, 2017: Owning a smartphone is one of the essential things for the youths today, not knowing the fact that extreme usage of the mobile phone can cause an irreversible damage to the mental and physical health. Youngsters have involved smartphones in their routine to an extent that they work, play, eat and sleep according to their mobile phones.

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Albert Einstein aptly said, “I fear the day that technology will surpass our human interaction. The world will have a generation of idiots.”

There are plethora of negative impacts of cell phones on teenagers and mentioned below are the three effects of smartphones :

1. Possessing a smart phone will prompt your teen to spend all day hanging upon the device, instead of doing anything productive. Teens who spend much of their time with cell phones are more predisposed to stress and fatigue. It can also lead to psychological disorders in some cases.

Also Read: This new method will change the way you charge your smartphones

2. Many teenagers keep their cell phones nearby while sleeping to respond to texts and calls, which leads to sleep disruption and interruption. Improper sleep in return makes the person irritable and weak.

3. Electromagnetic radiation emitted by mobile phones get absorbed in the tissues when we hold the phone for prolonged period of time. The nervous systems of your teens are still developing and thus longer usage of phones may trigger a greater risk of developing brain cancer from cell phones than adults.

– prepared by Naina Mishra of Newsgram. Twitter @Nainamishr94

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11-year-old Indian-origin Arnav Sharma beats Albert Einstein, Stephen Hawking in Mensa IQ test in UK

Wonder boy Arnav Sharma gained a score of 162 -- the maximum possible result you can achieve on the paper

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Arnav Sharma
Arnav Sharma, Wikimedia
  • Arnav Sharma, from Reading town in southern England, passed the infamously difficult Mensa IQ test a few weeks back with zero preparation
  • His mark in the exam, which primarily measures verbal reasoning ability, puts him in the top one per cent of the nation in terms of IQ level
  • The “genius benchmark” is set at 140 and Sharma gained a score of 162 — the maximum possible result you can achieve on the paper

London, July 1, 2017: An 11-year-old Indian-origin boy here has scored 162 in the prestigious Mensa IQ test, two points higher than geniuses Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking.

Arnav Sharma, from Reading town in southern England, passed the infamously difficult test a few weeks back with zero preparation. Mensa IQ test was developed in Britain to form an elite society of intelligent people, the Independent reported.

The “genius benchmark” is set at 140 and Sharma gained a score of 162 — the maximum possible result you can achieve on the paper.

His mark in the exam, which primarily measures verbal reasoning ability, puts him in the top one per cent of the nation in terms of IQ level.

ALSO READ: Sikh community in London helps deadly Grenfell Tower fire Survivors

“The Mensa test is quite hard and not many people pass it, so do not expect to pass,” Sharma told the daily.

Sharma said: “I had no preparation at all for the exam but I was not nervous. My family were surprised but they were also very happy when I told them about the result.”

The boy’s mother, Meesha Dhamija Sharma, said she kept her “fingers crossed” during his exam.

“I was thinking what is going to happen because you never know and he had never seen what a paper looks like,” she said.

Sharma said his hobbies are coding, badminton, piano, swimming and reading. He also has an unusually good geographical knowledge and can name all the capitals of the world.

A spokesperson for Mensa praised the 11-year-old boy, saying: “It is a high mark which only a small percentage of people in the country will achieve.”

Mensa was founded in 1946 in Oxford by Lancelot Lionel Ware, a scientist and lawyer, and Roland Berrill, an Australian barrister, but the organisation later spread around the world.

Its mission is to “identify and foster human intelligence for the benefit of humanity”. (IANS)