Bollywood filmmaker Karan Johar, who is gearing up for his upcoming directorial venture, a multi-starrer period drama “Takht”, says its story is based on a true historical account. He vouches that it will be treated with dignity in the film.
Sharing an insight into the story, Karan told the media here: “The film is based on a true historical event that transpired… It is embedded in history and that is why it is important to tell the way it was.”
Considering what happened to “Padmaavat”, which also had a historical reference, isn`t it a risky genre to explore?
Karan said: “It is not my interpretation of history but what happened then. The story is based on the Mughal empire and what people know… Every writer and director has their interpretation of history, but in this case, we are not creating anything. It is based on the historical facts and we are doing it with a lot of dignity.”
The film features an interesting cast including Ranveer Singh, Kareena Kapoor Khan, Alia Bhatt, Vicky Kaushal, Bhumi Pednekar, Janhvi Kapoor and Anil Kapoor.
Asked if it was tough for him to choose actors for the project, he said: “Partially yes, but eventually I am happy with the cast that I have. I think this is one film that I am directing where I took some time to reach the cast.”
Karan is also one director-producer who gives his writers due importance and prominent credit.
Talking about it, he said: “Filmmaking is a writer`s medium. It is not a director`s medium. It is not an actor`s medium… In our industry, directors and actors are taking the limelight, but writers are the heartbeat of a film. So they should be given the importance. And there is no point of giving credit in the closet door… One should give them credit out there.”
As there is a possibility of comparison of his first ever period drama with those of Sanjay Leela Bhansali, who is known for the genre, does Karan feel any pressure?
“Well, nothing ventured, nothing gained. And eventually, you have to go out of your comfort zone to create something special. I think Mr. Bhansali has achieved some of the most beautiful pieces of cinema, his work is of a beautiful canvas. I am an admirer of his work as a fraternity member. But my film cannot be compared to what I have done or anybody else has done,” he said.
Having started his career as a film director with “Kuch Kuch Hota Hai”, Karan made his mark not only as a film director-producer but also as a chat show host with his popular “Koffee With Karan”, as anchor of several live shows, reality TV show judge and as a radio jokey for a radio show titled “Calling Karan”.
What is his way to stay motivated towards his work for so many years?
“I think it is important to be surrounded by the right kind of people who will tell you when you are going wrong. I do not hang out with `yes` people but people who are critical about my work. Without that, one cannot keep at it. In my office, we have a rule that we share each other`s opinion on film, script and any piece of work on personal email. I think that really helps to improve work.
“I do not take myself so seriously and I think one of the best ways to stay relevant is to talk to the young generation. Their thoughts and their ideology should be heard and that helps me to stay updated and relevant to the present time.”
Does he get to listen to criticism as he is one of the powerful filmmakers of Bollywood?
“I only give them (people) the right to do so… I do not create a distance from them. So, they can tell me if something is wrong. I allow people to be critical of me and be honest,” answered the filmmaker, who will soon be seen as judge of a talent hunt show “India`s Got Talent” on Colors channel from October 20.
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.