The nervous energy is palpable as Ishaan Khatter talks about the much anticipated Dhadak, set to release in a couple of weeks. “Many people are asking me if I am feeling pressurized. The comparisons can be taxing, as Sairat was such a huge hit. We are trying to keep our wits about us,” says Khatter. While many appreciated the lead pair — Khatter and Janhvi Kapoor — not everything was positive; some comments were just mean.
But through this all, Khatter maintains calm. “I think it’s important to maintain a perspective of your own, for if you get carried away by everything people say, you wouldn’t know where to look. I remember one article where they compared the trailer of Dhadak to the film Sairat. It was a direct comparison and the second line of the article said, ‘I have not seen Sairat but…’ I found that very amusing,” he says. Khatter, too like Kapoor, comes from a family of actors, parents Rajesh Khattar and Neelima Azeem, and half-brother Shahid Kapoor.
Kapoor too is relatively calm. “I think people are quick to make judgments, maybe because Sairat has such a sentimental value attached to it. I hope people give us a chance,” she says. And while both the actors, who were in Pune this week for the promotion of the film, have accepted that the comparisons are obvious, Khatter clarifies some misconceptions. For instance, that Dhadak is an adaptation and not a remake of Sairat, is a distinction that most people fail to make. “It was never meant to be a gimmicky remake. It is an honest adaptation. The characters, their ideas, and idiosyncrasies are different. It’s a new film, even for those who have watched Sairat. I think most people question the intention of making Dhadak. I don’t think it was ever made to take advantage of the commercial viability of it,” he says. Likewise, the rustic Parshya of Sairat (Madhukar Bagala), the character which Khatter plays is similar and dissimilar in many ways to Parshya. “He is a 19-year-old from Udaipur, who does odd jobs with tourists and helps his father run a cafe. He is naive, unassuming and leads a simple life. And yet a lot of his identity comes from being Rajasthani. You know, even the locals in Udaipur have an air about them, an intrinsic pride, which is unlike Parshya,” says Khatter.
Both actors admit having watched Sairat several times before the film went on floors and which is why Kapoor insists her character, Parthavi, is very different from Archie of Sairat. “I constantly feel judged and I won’t lie that there have been days when I have been down and out about it. But I love acting and nothing means more to me than being in front of the camera. I know that many people feel that I have got this opportunity too easily and I feel a sense of responsibility towards them. I want to work hard and prove myself,” says Janhvi.
Ask her what her late mother Sridevi told her when she saw the footage of Dhadak before her death and Kapoor’s voice drops considerably. “She had seen 20 minutes of footage. She was very happy, she said a lot which was very surprising. But even from her, even though she is my mom, I feel like I would have to earn the appreciation. I feel uncomfortable talking about what she said. I want people to form their own opinions,” says Kapoor.
Amazon Echo Input Goes on Sale in India, Brings Alexa to Your Dumb Speaker for Rs. 2,999
Back in September 2018, Amazon added a suite of new products to its Echo line of devices and among them was the Echo Input, which was scheduled to launch in early 2019 in India. It seems as if Amazon has kept good on its promise as the Echo Input is finally on sale in India, at a price of Rs. 2,999. The device adds Alexa support to any of your existing speakers at home, either through a wired or Bluetooth connection. This lets you stream music from Amazon Prime Music, Saavn and TuneIn and starting today, Hungama and Gaana music streaming services too, with simple voice commands. Apart from Amazon, the Echo Input will also be available from offline retailers such as Croma, Vijay Sales and others.
To recall, the Amazon Echo Input was first introduced in September last year, and at around the same time, US-based e-commerce giant had announced it would be made available in India early next year – that time has come. Amazon had not detailed the Amazon Echo Input price in India back in September, and this is the first we’ve learned of it.
Amazon Echo Input launch offers
Amazon has tied up with some speaker manufacturers to bundle the Echo Input with certain products. The JBL Go 2 speaker bundle gets you a flat Rs. 1,499 discount where as you can get the Echo Input for free if you buy the newly launched Ultimate Ears Boom 3 or the Bose SoundLink Revolve. You can check out the offers on right side of the page, just below the ‘Buy Now’ button.
Amazon Echo Input specifications
The Echo Input measures just 12.5mm in thickness and looks a bit like a hockey puck. There are two buttons on the top for switching the microphone off and triggering Alexa, respectively. You also get a four-microphone array on the Input which is said to recognise your voice across a room, even with music playing. There’s a single LED light on the top and a 3.5mm headphone socket and a Micro-USB port on the side for connectivity and power.
It also features dual-band 802.11 Wi-Fiac for connecting the device to you home Wi-Fi. Setting up the Echo Input requires the Alexa app, which is available on both Android and iOS. The Echo Input ships with a 5W power adapter, Micro-USB cable, auxiliary cable and a quick start guide.
Novel technology cleans water using bacteria
Researchers, led by one of Indian-origin, have developed a new technology that can clean water twice as fast as commercially available ultrafiltration membranes, an advance that brings hope for countries like India where clean drinking water is a big issue.
According to a team from the Washington University in St. Louis, more than one in 10 people in the world lack basic drinking water access, and by 2025, half of the world’s population will be living in water-stressed areas.
The team led by Srikanth Singamaneni, Professor at the varsity, developed an ultrafiltration membrane using graphene oxide and bacterial nanocellulose that they found to be highly efficient, long-lasting and environment-friendly.
The membrane technology purifies water while preventing biofouling, or build up of bacteria and other harmful micro-organisms that reduce the flow of water.
For the study, published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology, they used bacteria to build such filtering membranes.
The Gluconacetobacter hansenii bacteria is a sugary substance that forms cellulose nanofibres when in water.
The team then incorporated graphene oxide (GO) flakes into the bacterial nanocellulose while it was growing, essentially trapping GO in the membrane to make it stable and durable.
They exposed the membrane to E. coli bacteria, then shone light on the membrane’s surface.
After being irradiated with light for just three minutes, the E. coli bacteria died. The team determined that the membrane quickly heated to above the 70 degrees Celsius required to deteriorate the cell walls of E. coli bacteria.
While the bacteria are killed, the researchers had a pristine membrane with a high quality of nanocellulose fibres that was able to filter water twice as fast as commercially available ultrafiltration membranes under a high operating pressure.
When they did the same experiment on a membrane made from bacterial nanocellulose without the reduced GO, the E. coli bacteria stayed alive.
While the researchers acknowledge that implementing this process in conventional reverse osmosis systems is taxing, they propose a spiral-wound module system, similar to a roll of towels.
It could be equipped with LEDs or a type of nanogenerator that harnesses mechanical energy from the fluid flow to produce light and heat, which would reduce the overall cost.
If the technique were to be scaled up to a large size, it could benefit many developing countries where clean water is scarce, the researchers noted.
Google loon balloon web service taps board to lift business
Loon, the balloon-borne rural internet service from Google parent Alphabet Inc, has recruited three wireless-industry leaders to help the company’s yearslong effort to get the business off the ground. Wireless pioneer and Nextel Partners Inc co-founder Craig McCaw, former Verizon Communications Inc executive Marni Walden, and Ian Small, a former Telefonica SA executive, will serve as Loon’s new three-member advisory board. They’ll help the fledgeling company sign on partners and expand to new areas.
Loon started as a project inside Google’s X research arm to deliver internet access to rural areas. As of last year, it planned to offer service in Kenya. Using antennas held aloft by large balloons 12 miles (20 kilometres) above Earth, well beyond the paths of aeroplanes, Loon can beam coverage over a wide area and relay the signals to ground stations operated by wireless carriers.
When first conceived, Loon was considered a potential threat to wireless carriers, but in recent years the company has wooed established providers as partners. Other companies including Facebook Inc have been working on ways to get more people connected to the internet. Instead of balloons, Facebook has tested solar-powered drones and satellites.
“We quickly realized that as a business with the mission of connecting people everywhere, our path to success is to partner with those who have significant experience connecting people every day,” Loon Chief Executive Officer Alastair Westgarth said in a blog post.