What do followers of Bigg Boss find so addictive in the exploits of a motley group of men and women shut in an apartment made like a cardboard set? The constantly changing equations among people, the flaring up of temper, envy, schadenfreude...surely the squabbles spiked with sharp words? Or incipient liaisons that seem to warm up, only to dissipate the week after. For the host who frames the show, a big name is a must, and lately, the producers have leant on the able shoulders of the eminently bankable Salman Khan. For his services, Bhaijaan is demanding the humongous sum of Rs 350 crore—a paltry 15 per cent hike in fees for season 15. But don’t let your eyes pop out yet. It’s all for 14 weeks of back-breaking work.
Ever since last year’s lockdown heaped misery on migrant workers and pushed many into penury, actor Sonu Sood’s charity sprang into purposeful action—arranging food, and then free transport for hundreds to their hometowns. It won Sood admirers across divisions, as laudatory notes in the media spread his good deeds far and wide. But the Central Board of Direct Taxes were keeping a close watch on the crores pouring into Sood’s charity and, after a raid, claimed that he was routing “his unaccounted income in the form of bogus, unsecured loans from bogus entities”. Sood, they said, had violated FCRA rules while raising funds from abroad. Sood responded solemnly. “You don’t always have to tell your side of the story. Time will. Every rupee in my foundation is awaiting its turn to save a precious life...” he said.
Gowns and tuxedos dominated, as ever, at the Emmy Awards, where The Crown was crowned as the night’s biggest winner. It won Best Drama and four acting wins—for Olivia Colman, left, (Best Actress, for playing the Queen), Josh O’Connor (Best Actor for playing Prince Charles), Gillian Anderson (Mrs Thatcher) and Tobias Menzies (Duke of Edinburgh). The other Oscar-winner, besides Colman, to get an award was Kate Winslet, who won Best Lead Actress in a limited series for Mare of Easttown. But the Emmys were stalked by an old bogey—despite a diversified field of nomination, no actor of colour won. There were other wins for them—Michaela Coel won for Outstanding Writing for I May Destroy You, and RuPaul won for Outstanding Reality Competition for RuPaul’s Drag Race. Another first: M.J. Rodriguez was the first trans woman to win a best actress nomination for her turn in Pose.
Benny, Bjorn, Anni-Frid and Agnetha held the world in thrall in the ’70s. When ABBA broke up in 1982, they broke hearts worldwide, except—an abiding mystery—in the US, where they were never big. Now, in an announcement greeted with rapturous swoon, they have announced a new studio album (Abba Voyage)—their first in 40 years.The two songs released as appetisers,
I Still Have Faith In You and Don’t Shut Me Down are being played all day long on radio shows and are signature ABBA melodies. On the opposite side of the musical spectrum, American rock band Kiss will release, also in November, the 45th anniversary reissue of their 1976 hit album Destroyer. Look at them in the corner in their distinctive face paint, which they supplemented on stage with outlandish outfits, smoking guitars and soul-shaking pyrotechnics.