Meghan Markle’s Vogue edit spotlights changemakers

Meghan Markle spent seven months working with British Vogue’s Editor-in-Chief Edward Enninful on the issue. (AFP)
Updated 29 July 2019

Meghan Markle’s Vogue edit spotlights changemakers

DUBAI: Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, has guest edited the September issue of British Vogue with the theme “Forces for Change” and has revealed that actors Jameela Jamil, Yara Shahidi and Salma Hayek Pinault will be featured alongside 12 other women on the cover.  

British Vogue with the theme “Forces for Change.” (AFP)

Royal officials say the issue coming out Aug. 2 features “change-makers united by their fearlessness in breaking barriers” and includes a conversation between Meghan and former US first lady Michelle Obama, The Associated Press reported.

The magazine cover features 15 women, including New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, actresses Jane Fonda, Jamil, Gemma Chan and Shahidi, model Adwoa Aboah, climate change campaigner Greta Thunberg, boxer Ramla Ali and actor and women’s rights advocate Hayek Pinault.

Meghan, who is on maternity leave from her royal duties, said she hopes readers will be inspired by the magazine’s focus on the “values, causes, and people making impact in the world today.”

The Duchess of Sussex, who gave birth to her first child in May, spent seven months working with British Vogue’s Editor-in-Chief Edward Enninful on the issue, Reuters reported.

Jameela Jamil (AFP) 

The former actress, 37, said in a statement she had sought to steer the focus of the September issue — usually the year’s most read — to “the values, causes and people making impact in the world today.”

British actress Jamil, who was born to a Pakistani mother and an Indian father in London, took to Instagram Stories to celebrate, posting a photo of the grid-like cover with the caption, “They are all heroes.”

“The Good Place” star has made it her personal mission to promote body positivity and founded the “I Weigh” movement in 2018 by launching an Instagram account where she shares inspiring images sent in by followers detailing their accomplishments and positive characteristics, rather than what they weigh.

Yara Shahidi (AFP) 

Author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Royal Ballet principal dancer Francesca Hayward, and model and former refugee Adut Akech are among others featured in a list that also includes mental health and diversity campaigners.

“Through this lens I hope you’ll feel the strength of the collective in the diverse selection of women chosen for the cover as well as the team of support I called upon within the issue to help bring this to light,” Meghan said in the statement.

“I hope readers feel as inspired as I do, by the ‘Forces for Change’ they’ll find within these pages.”

The battle for Bollywood: virus, streaming apps spark fears for cinemas

Updated 03 July 2020

The battle for Bollywood: virus, streaming apps spark fears for cinemas

  • Frustrated Bollywood producers have turned to the likes of Amazon, Netflix and Disney+ Hotstar to release films online
  • India has the world’s most prolific film industry, churning out nearly 1,800 releases in 2018

MUMBAI: A Bollywood actor’s face tattooed on his arm, Sandeep Bacche’s devotion shocks few in India where stars enjoy semi-divine status. But even here the hallowed silver screen may be losing its shine to streaming services and pandemic fears.
“Whenever things get better and theaters begin operations, I will watch three movies a day for sure just as a way to celebrate,” said the Mumbai rickshaw driver, who is recovering from the virus himself.
But others may not join the party.
With cinemas shut for months due to a coronavirus lockdown, and little prospect they will reopen soon, frustrated Bollywood producers have turned to the likes of Amazon, Netflix and Disney+ Hotstar to release films online.
“Gulabo Sitabo,” starring Bollywood legend Amitabh Bachchan, premiered on Amazon Prime last month. Other Hindi movies have followed a similar route, as have the huge Telugu-, Tamil- and Malayalam-language film industries.
This has sparked fury from cinema operators.
INOX Leisure Ltd, India’s second-largest multiplex operator, warned producers of possible “retributive measures.”
“Movie stars are not made on the small screen but on the silver screen,” Siddharth Jain, INOX executive director, told AFP.
But, noting the financial might of the competition, he said: “No business model in the world can compete with free money and Netflix is nothing but free money.”
Shoojit Sircar, who directed “Gulabo Sitabo,” told AFP that “a digital release was a tough decision” but financial constraints pushed him to do it.
“A lot of technicians are dependent on me,” Sircar said.
“Cinema magic cannot be replaced by TV, iPad or laptop experience. But I needed to move on.”
India has the world’s most prolific film industry, churning out nearly 1,800 releases in 2018. Stars are worshipped like gods, with fans building temples and making pilgrimages to their homes.
Going to the cinema also remains a hugely popular and affordable pursuit, with 75 rupees ($1) buying three hours of entertainment in an air-conditioned movie theater.
Some of the higher-end multiplex cinemas have menus that include biryani being delivered to your recliner, and blankets to snuggle under if the air conditioning is too cold.
But with more than half of India’s population under 30, and many of them consuming entertainment on mobile phones, the likes of Netflix were starting to make inroads even before the coronavirus.
Hotstar, the market leader now owned by Disney, boasted 300 million active monthly users in 2018 — offering some content for free and other shows only to subscribers.
The shutdown has only accelerated the shift.
For years Mumbai-based teacher Nigel D’Souza, 27, was one of the holdouts, preferring to watch films in cinemas.
But when India went into lockdown in late March, he bit the bullet and subscribed to both Amazon Prime — aggressively priced in India at just 129 rupees per month — and Netflix.
He is now hooked.
“It was very cheap... as we don’t spend money on expensive popcorn or travel,” he said.
Furthermore, he found he “could binge-watch any number of movies... without worrying about the virus.”
Vijay Subramaniam, Amazon Prime’s director of content for India, insisted the company was not looking to put cinemas out of business.
“Theatres play an important role in film distribution and we aren’t looking to change that,” he told AFP.
But he added: “As technology continues to change that landscape, customers’ preferences of what to watch and where will continue to evolve.”
Cinemas meanwhile are getting ready for the end of lockdown, which will come with strict rules that will further eat away at their profit margins.
Some seats will have to be left empty and cinema halls will have to be thoroughly disinfected after every show. The lavish menus and blankets will probably have to go.
But it is not all doom and gloom.
“The cinema experience is ingrained in our blood... (it) will never go out of fashion,” Mumbai-based film trade analyst Girish Johar told AFP.
For diehard fans like Bacche, the heady pleasures of the silver screen are simply too irresistible.
Even in the coronavirus treatment facility, the 41-year-old still needed his daily fix of Bollywood, he said.
He found it on the YouTube app on his phone, which he still uses — a sign that the pandemic’s impact on viewing habits may linger for a while longer.