From left, the screenwriter Nilesh Maniyar, the director Shonali Bose and the actress Kalki Koechlin of Margarita, with a Straw at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival. Maarten de Boer / Getty Images
From left, the screenwriter Nilesh Maniyar, the director Shonali Bose and the actress Kalki Koechlin of Margarita, with a Straw at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival. Maarten de Boer / Getty

Indian actress Kalki Koechlin ‘brilliant’ in role as disabled student in Margarita, with a Straw



Kalki Koechlin has announced herself as one of India's finest actresses with a brilliant performance as an aspiring songwriter afflicted by cerebral palsy in Shonali Bose's excellent film Margarita, with a Straw, an Indian movie that had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival in the Contemporary World Cinema category.

The story follows Laila (Koechlin), a student who writes lyrics for an Indie band at her New Delhi university. She lives life to the full and her only obstacles seem to be the prejudices of others, such as when she is given a prize at school and the teacher freely admits that she took into consideration her disability when awarding it. But Laila remains happy-go-lucky and wins a college scholarship to New York, travelling to the United States with her mother (Revathy).

Laila’s attitude and desire to make the most of life is reflected by the filmmaker. She began writing the script under awful circumstances – on what would have been the 17th birthday of her son, four months after he lost his life in a tragic accident.

“I’m not embarrassed about my grief,” says Bose. “I just share it with everybody and have everybody share it with me, so that’s totally cool. It happened unexpectedly. I was 45. It’s his death that ultimately took me to the ultimate place of fully feeling and now I deeply love and accept myself. He gifted me that with his death somehow. Laila is searching and doesn’t love and accept herself, she is looking for external love, affirmation from others.”

Laila is loosely based on the director’s cousin Malini, who suffers from cerebral palsy and to whom the film is dedicated. It was a conversation with her cousin that gave Bose the idea to make a film about a girl looking for fulfilment.

But although Bose introduced Koechlin to her cousin, she did not try to copy her life in the film.

“I didn’t work with her at all, I just grew up with her. She wasn’t there on set,” she says. “I just gave access to her to hang out with her. I was living in Delhi at the time. I just introduced them so that they could be together. But I’ve grown up with her, I know her inside-out, so I didn’t need to spend a second with her.”

At first Koechlin – who is known for choosing to star in offbeat, critically acclaimed films such as Dev D (2009) and That Girl in Yellow Boots (2010), was wary of taking the part.

“I was really scared of doing it, I was very nervous about it,” says the 30-year-old actress. “I think I needed more convincing. At the beginning, I was like, I need at least six months of training for this or I can’t possibly do it. I was scared, but of course it’s a mixed thing where, as an actor, why I act is because it’s so exciting to push through those boundaries of where you can go as a human being.”

As well as meeting Malini, Koechlin also visited others suffering from motor-neuron diseases.

“If someone is in a wheelchair, it’s going to affect a lot of things in their life. The way you think about something is going to affect the way you speak, so all of that is really interesting to me. And in this case, I mean, it goes further than that. I had to get the disability right, physically, which meant working with people who have cerebral palsy.”

The result is quite brilliant on screen. Yet, like in My Left Foot (1989) and The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (2007), performances that inspired Koechlin, the part isn't only about the disability.

“For me, one of the reasons that I did the film was that, even if you took cerebral palsy out of the equation, the film still works on its own. It’s not about pitying someone who is disabled. It’s about someone finding themselves,” says Koechlin.

Another thing she was glad about was that the film opened her up to Adapt, a charity that helps with India's disabled population – Malini is on the board of the organisation. When Bose was struggling to finance the film, Adapt came out in support. It's a good thing they did, because the results are compelling. Margarita, with a Straw is due out in India next year.

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A QUIET PLACE

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Director: Michael Sarnoski

Rating: 4/5

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Director:+Monika Mitchell

Starring:+Alyssa Milano, Sam Page, Colleen Wheeler

Rating: 3/5

Oscars in the UAE

The 90th Academy Awards will be aired in the UAE from 3.30am on Monday, March 5 on OSN, with the ceremony starting at 5am

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  • Solo riders only, no passengers allowed
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2. North America
3. Raven’s Corner
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Started: 2021
Founders: Chafic Idriss, Karam El Dik and Rayan Antonios
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Sector: FinTech
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Tickets for the August 3 Fight Night, held in partnership with the Department of Culture and Tourism Abu Dhabi, went on sale earlier this month, through www.etihadarena.ae and www.ticketmaster.ae.

FFP EXPLAINED

What is Financial Fair Play?
Introduced in 2011 by Uefa, European football’s governing body, it demands that clubs live within their means. Chiefly, spend within their income and not make substantial losses.

What the rules dictate? 
The second phase of its implementation limits losses to €30 million (Dh136m) over three seasons. Extra expenditure is permitted for investment in sustainable areas (youth academies, stadium development, etc). Money provided by owners is not viewed as income. Revenue from “related parties” to those owners is assessed by Uefa's “financial control body” to be sure it is a fair value, or in line with market prices.

What are the penalties? 
There are a number of punishments, including fines, a loss of prize money or having to reduce squad size for European competition – as happened to PSG in 2014. There is even the threat of a competition ban, which could in theory lead to PSG’s suspension from the Uefa Champions League.

UAE set for Scotland series

The UAE will host Scotland for a three-match T20I series at the Dubai International Stadium next month.
The two sides will start their Cricket World Cup League 2 campaigns with a tri-series also involving Canada, starting on January 29.
That series will be followed by a bilateral T20 series on March 11, 13 and 14.

What's in my pazhamkootan?

Add:
Parippu – moong dal and coconut curry
Sambar – vegetable-infused toor dal curry
Aviyal – mixed vegetables in thick coconut paste
Thoran – beans and other dry veggies with spiced coconut
Khichdi – lentil and rice porridge


Optional:
Kootukari – stew of black chickpeas, raw banana, yam and coconut paste
Olan – ash gourd curry with coconut milk
Pulissery – spiced buttermilk curry
Rasam – spice-infused soup with a tamarind base


Avoid:
Payasam – sweet vermicelli kheer

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All times UAE (+4 GMT)

Saturday
Fiorentina v Torino (8pm)
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Sunday
Parma v Napoli (2.30pm)
Genoa v Crotone (5pm)
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Monday
AC Milan v Bologna (10.45om)

Playing September 30

Benevento v Inter Milan (8pm)
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Wonka

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Starring: Timothee Chalamet, Olivia Colman, Hugh Grant

Rating: 2/5

The specs: Panamera Turbo E-Hybrid

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Power: 680hp
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Price: From Dh749,000
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Engine: 2.9-litre twin-turbo V6
Power: 353hp
Torque: 500Nm
Transmission: Eight-speed dual-clutch auto
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High fever (40°C/104°F)
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Start-up hopes to end Japan's love affair with cash

Across most of Asia, people pay for taxi rides, restaurant meals and merchandise with smartphone-readable barcodes — except in Japan, where cash still rules. Now, as the country’s biggest web companies race to dominate the payments market, one Tokyo-based startup says it has a fighting chance to win with its QR app.

Origami had a head start when it introduced a QR-code payment service in late 2015 and has since signed up fast-food chain KFC, Tokyo’s largest cab company Nihon Kotsu and convenience store operator Lawson. The company raised $66 million in September to expand nationwide and plans to more than double its staff of about 100 employees, says founder Yoshiki Yasui.

Origami is betting that stores, which until now relied on direct mail and email newsletters, will pay for the ability to reach customers on their smartphones. For example, a hair salon using Origami’s payment app would be able to send a message to past customers with a coupon for their next haircut.

Quick Response codes, the dotted squares that can be read by smartphone cameras, were invented in the 1990s by a unit of Toyota Motor to track automotive parts. But when the Japanese pioneered digital payments almost two decades ago with contactless cards for train fares, they chose the so-called near-field communications technology. The high cost of rolling out NFC payments, convenient ATMs and a culture where lost wallets are often returned have all been cited as reasons why cash remains king in the archipelago. In China, however, QR codes dominate.

Cashless payments, which includes credit cards, accounted for just 20 per cent of total consumer spending in Japan during 2016, compared with 60 per cent in China and 89 per cent in South Korea, according to a report by the Bank of Japan.

ENGLAND SQUAD

For Euro 2024 qualifers away to Malta on June 16 and at home to North Macedonia on June 19:

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Defenders Alexander-Arnold, Dunk, Guehi, Maguire, Mings, Shaw, Stones, Trippier, Walker.

Midfielders Bellingham, Eze, Gallagher, Henderson, Maddison, Phillips, Rice.

Forwards Foden, Grealish, Kane, Rashford, Saka, Wilson.

Barbie

Director: Greta Gerwig
Stars: Margot Robbie, Ryan Gosling, Will Ferrell, America Ferrera
Rating: 4/5

The bio

Favourite book: Peter Rabbit. I used to read it to my three children and still read it myself. If I am feeling down it brings back good memories.

Best thing about your job: Getting to help people. My mum always told me never to pass up an opportunity to do a good deed.

Best part of life in the UAE: The weather. The constant sunshine is amazing and there is always something to do, you have so many options when it comes to how to spend your day.

Favourite holiday destination: Malaysia. I went there for my honeymoon and ended up volunteering to teach local children for a few hours each day. It is such a special place and I plan to retire there one day.

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Max electric-only range: 60km (claimed)
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The specs

BMW M8 Competition Coupe

Engine 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8

Power 625hp at 6,000rpm

Torque 750Nm from 1,800-5,800rpm

Gearbox Eight-speed paddleshift auto

Acceleration 0-100kph in 3.2 sec

Top speed 305kph

Fuel economy, combined 10.6L / 100km

Price from Dh700,000 (estimate)

On sale Jan/Feb 2020
 

Company Profile

Company name: myZoi
Started: 2021
Founders: Syed Ali, Christian Buchholz, Shanawaz Rouf, Arsalan Siddiqui, Nabid Hassan
Based: UAE
Number of staff: 37
Investment: Initial undisclosed funding from SC Ventures; second round of funding totalling $14 million from a consortium of SBI, a Japanese VC firm, and SC Venture

MATCH INFO

Barcelona 4 (Messi 23' pen, 45+1', 48', Busquets 85')

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* internal codenames

UAE currency: the story behind the money in your pockets
ODI FIXTURE SCHEDULE

First ODI, October 22
Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai

Second ODI, October 25
Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium, Pune

Third ODI, October 29
Venue TBC

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COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: Klipit

Started: 2022

Founders: Venkat Reddy, Mohammed Al Bulooki, Bilal Merchant, Asif Ahmed, Ovais Merchant

Based: Dubai, UAE

Industry: Digital receipts, finance, blockchain

Funding: $4 million

Investors: Privately/self-funded

Tips for avoiding trouble online
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Essentials

The flights

Etihad (etihad.ae) and flydubai (flydubai.com) fly direct to Baku three times a week from Dh1,250 return, including taxes. 
 

The stay

A seven-night “Fundamental Detox” programme at the Chenot Palace (chenotpalace.com/en) costs from €3,000 (Dh13,197) per person, including taxes, accommodation, 3 medical consultations, 2 nutritional consultations, a detox diet, a body composition analysis, a bio-energetic check-up, four Chenot bio-energetic treatments, six Chenot energetic massages, six hydro-aromatherapy treatments, six phyto-mud treatments, six hydro-jet treatments and access to the gym, indoor pool, sauna and steam room. Additional tests and treatments cost extra.

KLOPP AT LIVERPOOL

Years: October 2015 - June 2024
Total games: 491
Win percentage: 60.9%
Major trophies: 6 (Premier League x 1, Champions League x 1, FA Cup x 1, League Cup x 2, Fifa Club World Cup x1)

Essentials

The flights
Emirates flies direct from Dubai to Seattle from Dh6,755 return in economy and Dh24,775 in business class.
The cruise
UnCruise Adventures offers a variety of small-ship cruises in Alaska and around the world. A 14-day Alaska’s Inside Passage and San Juans Cruise from Seattle to Juneau or reverse costs from $4,695 (Dh17,246), including accommodation, food and most activities. Trips in 2019 start in April and run until September. 
 

COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: OneOrder
Started: March 2022
Founders: Tamer Amer and Karim Maurice
Based: Cairo
Number of staff: 82
Investment stage: Series A

UAE athletes heading to Paris 2024

Equestrian
Abdullah Humaid Al Muhairi, Abdullah Al Marri, Omar Al Marzooqi, Salem Al Suwaidi, and Ali Al Karbi (four to be selected).


Judo
Men: Narmandakh Bayanmunkh (66kg), Nugzari Tatalashvili (81kg), Aram Grigorian (90kg), Dzhafar Kostoev (100kg), Magomedomar Magomedomarov (+100kg); women's Khorloodoi Bishrelt (52kg).


Cycling
Safia Al Sayegh (women's road race).

Swimming
Men: Yousef Rashid Al Matroushi (100m freestyle); women: Maha Abdullah Al Shehi (200m freestyle).

Athletics
Maryam Mohammed Al Farsi (women's 100 metres).

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: SmartCrowd
Started: 2018
Founder: Siddiq Farid and Musfique Ahmed
Based: Dubai
Sector: FinTech / PropTech
Initial investment: $650,000
Current number of staff: 35
Investment stage: Series A
Investors: Various institutional investors and notable angel investors (500 MENA, Shurooq, Mada, Seedstar, Tricap)

Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus

Developer: Sucker Punch Productions
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Console: PlayStation 2 to 5
Rating: 5/5

25 Days to Aden

Author: Michael Knights

Pages: 256

Available: January 26

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