Posted: 24 Jun 2011 02:54 AM PDT
Archie Panjabi, who fashionably walks the talk in The Good Wife, was in town recently and had a tete-a-tete with The Star.
THOSE boots ... they seem to have a life of their own," says actress Archie Panjabi of the now iconic leather boots her character Kalinda Sharma wears in the critically-acclaimed legal drama The Good Wife. "There is something about those boots and how fitted her clothes are ... it makes me feel very powerful when I am playing the character."
The boots in question – a pair of knee-high black leather Via Spigas – are arguably the most talked about piece of footwear on TV at the moment; maybe even of all time.
Kalinda, the in-house investigator at the Stern, Lockhart & Gardner law firm is rarely seen without them; unless, of course, she switches them for a pair of studded, suede Calvin Kleins – also black.
So popular are those boots that fans (and Kalinda has legions of them) dub them the "boots of justice".
Cool as they may be, the boots have nothing to do with fashion. They are an extension of Kalinda's character; a character so mysterious and so guarded that we need clues (like a pair of kick-a** leather boots) to gain some insight.
"Even though everything about Kalinda looks very sexy, the intention is not for her to come across as sexy but as someone very focused and reserved. Her job is not to intimidate people but to get information. It's more about creating a presence."
Panjabi was in Kuala Lumpur last week with her husband, businessman Rajesh Nihalani, for a five-day holiday to visit relatives (she has close relatives in Seremban, Port Dickson and Kuala Lumpur) but graciously agreed to meet with Malaysian media during her brief trip. Despite battling jet lag having flown in from New York the night before, the actress gamely shared some insight into her character and the series.
With Kalinda, talk isn't cheap. According to Panjabi, audiences don't really get to know her from what she says.
She observes: "She doesn't have a lot of dialogue a lot of the time. It's more her reactions, her dress and the way her hair is tied up."
Figuring out a character so ambiguous, while challenging, isn't easy. "I am always paranoid before I do a scene. I usually have a very clear idea of what my character would do but with Kalinda, she's so mysterious ... imagine how it is playing a character that is so complex. How do you do a scene when you don't fully know what to expect from the character? I am learning to go with my gut.
"When they say 'action' it's almost like those boots take over. They kind of guide me to do things which I normally would not do," says the 39-year-old actress of Indian descent from Edgware, London.
The Good Wife is a law procedural that focuses on Alicia Florrick (Juliana Margulies) whose husband Peter (Chris Noth), a former state's attorney, is jailed following a very public sex and corruption scandal. An out-of-practice lawyer, Alicia has to return to her old job as litigator at Stern, Lockhart & Gardner to provide for her children.
The series follows her as she learns to deal with her husband's betrayal and copes with unresolved romantic feelings for her boss, Will Gardner (Josh Charles), an old college sweetheart.
The series is said to have been partly inspired by real life American political scandals such as that of Eliot Spitzer, John Edwards and Bill Clinton.
Kalinda is the firm's investigator who soon becomes a close friend and confidante of Alicia.
Professionally, Kalinda is an ace investigator. She uses a combination of stealth and charm to get information to win their cases. She is alluring, fearless and manipulative. She hangs out with cops and is able to knock back tequila shots like a pro.
Personally, however, she is a closed book. Nobody knows what she is thinking or feeling and even after two seasons, viewers don't have a clue about her family or friends or where she comes from. Even her ethnicity is never discussed. We do know, however, that she is bisexual (thanks to the emergence of an ex-lover mid season) and that she has some deep, dark secrets.
Physically, Kalinda is daunting despite her petite stature. Her pulled-back hair, close-fitting tops and dresses, short skirts, leather vests and jackets and, of course, the knee-high boots are sexy but more than that, they spell power and mean business.
In person, Panjabi seems nothing like her character. While Kalinda is aloof and unapproachable, Panjabi is warm and friendly. She smiles a lot and giggles. She poses for photographs.
Does she share any traits with Kalinda?
"Uhmmm ... no," she laughs. "I am sure there are similarities between us. We're different but sometimes I do things on instinct (when in character) and so I learn a little bit about myself as well as Kalinda. Sometimes, when I am in a situation and I don't know how to resolve it, I find myself wondering what Kalinda would do because she is so able to resolve a problem without getting too emotionally involved.
"I think if I ever met Kalinda, I would definitely love to hang out with her. People often say they wish they had a friend like that because they'd feel protected by her. I would probably be a little intimidated by her because she doesn't say much to you. "
The role of Kalinda was something that sort of fell into her lap because her preference is for film, not TV. Panjabi's screen debut was in the 1999 British hit movie East Is East, a comedy set in the 1970s, in which she played Meenah, a soccer-mad teenaged tomboy. Panjabi received good reviews and the movie went on to win The Evening Standard Best Film Award and the Alexander Korfa Bafta award for Best British Film in 2000. She also starred in another British blockbuster, Bend It Like Beckham (which won a Golden Globe and a Bafta in 2003), The Constant Gardener with Ralph Fiennes and Rachel Weisz, and more recently, in A Mighty Heart alongside A-list Hollywood mega star Angelina Jolie. She can currently be seen in The Infidel, a British comedy about a British Muslim (Omid Djalili) who goes through an identity crisis when he discovers that he was adopted as a child and that he is actually Jewish! He secretly tries to discover his Jewish heritage but his wife (played by Panjabi) suspects that her husband is having an affair.
It was Panjabi's performance as Indian-American journalist Asra Nomani in A Mighty Heart that caught the attention of the casting agents of The Good Wife.
"They had seen a lot of actresses for the role and they were about to offer it to somebody else. Then one of the casting associates mentioned my performance in A Mighty Heart and they sent me the script and asked me to put myself on tape.
"Normally in America, you can go for five or six castings before you are seen by the executives. But they really liked the way I had done the recording and so as soon as they saw it, they offered me the role. It was the easiest casting I've had in my career," recalls Panjabi.
Getting the job may have been easy but the actress admits that she was a barrel of nerves in the beginning.
"I didn't really know much about the role of an investigator. I kind of just thought of detectives ... you know, Sherlock Holmes, and Cagney and Lacey. I was at a dinner about the time we were doing the pilot episode and I was sitting next to Matt Czuchry who plays Cary (Argos) and I remember telling him how nervous I was because I didn't know what to do with this character. Kalinda is so mysterious. I was worried that if the character just doesn't work, they would re-cast me. This was such a dangerous character and I wanted to please everyone. I really wanted to come back and do the season because I loved it. And Matt gave me the best piece of advice. He said: 'Archie, you are never going to please everybody, so if you sit there worrying about pleasing all the executives, it's not gonna happen. You should follow your gut and play the character the way you want to.'
"That was really the best piece of advice. I just made decisions based on what I felt was right rather than trying to do the right thing for the American public or for an American show," she shares.
Kalinda was a hit with fans from the get go. Somehow, fans (both men and women) fell in love with the character despite her reserve.
Says Panjabi: "When they tested the pilot with a test audience, one of the things that scored very highly was the character of Kalinda and the relationship between her and Alicia. As a result, the writers knew they had something very interesting with the character. The response from the audiences was a lot better than they anticipated and so they developed it ... which has all been very fortunate for me."
One of the things the actress loves about her role is its ambiguity which, she says, challenges her as an actress even after two seasons. Constantly evolving, Kalinda is like no character Panjabi has played before.
"I think I am one of those actresses who gets bored quite easily if I really understand everything about the character. It becomes almost robotic, which is why I haven't really done much television. Most of my previous work tends to be in film. But with this character, because she is so ambiguous, its exciting and keeps me interested. The thing about this series is you never know what the back story really is. I was told in the beginning, the character was an investigator who may come in and out of the series. I don't think the role was meant to be as big as what they made it, which has been very fortunate for me.
"But I remember when I read it (the script), I felt there was something really strong and interesting about this character. She's so different from anything I've done or anything I've seen on television. I definitely got a good feeling about it."
As she wasn't given much background about Kalinda when she was offered the part, Panjabi wrote a two-page back story for her character, which she uses as a reference point. "Kalinda is really a work-in progress. My suspicion is that, she is the way she is because of survival. She has obviously had something in her life that affected her. It's almost like people have let her down. In one of the last few episodes (of Season Two) she has a line where she tells Will that she doesn't have to confide in anyone. To me, when a character says something like that, she may have been hurt a lot or let down a lot in the past and her way of surviving is to divorce herself (from feeling) and move on."
The constantly developing plot lines and character arcs keep Panjabi on her toes.
"It's a really exciting project because they (creators Robert and Michelle King) never know themselves. They write something and if they feel it works or that it's interesting or if the audience responds to it, then they will write further. It's almost interactive."
Panjabi's dazzling portrayal of Kalinda won her an Emmy for Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series last year. At the time, she was barely mid-way into the first season and a relative unknown in America. Also, she was up against favourites Elisabeth Moss and Christina Hendricks of the Mad Men.
The win came as a sweet surprise.
"I didn't hear my full name. I just heard 'Ar...' and was getting ready to clap for somebody else. I hadn't prepared a speech. I was so shocked. People in the business had actually told me: 'You know Archie, it's a great character but you're not hugely known'. I really convinced myself that I didn't have a chance. When they announced my name ... I was ecstatic and a bit emotional. I wasn't able to speak. Then I realised that the whole world was going to be watching this speech for years to come, and I had better think of saying the right things. It's amazing how the human body is, it somehow just gets on with it and I was able to come up with something. I was okay after I gave the speech."
Panjabi reckons that the popularity of the series is because the characters – even Kalinda – are real and the presentation of them is so novel.
"The characters are all layered and the performances are very nuanced. It's not over-written. It's the kind of drama where you really have to watch it to understand what's going on. You can't sit in the other room ironing or making a cup of tea and know. It's actually watching what's not being said that's important. I think this challenges audiences. In today's world, there is so much variety and choice in TV dramas and I think people want something that's a little more stimulating.
"Also, the characters resonate with people. Even the good wife is not necessarily 'good' as you will see in the finale. It shows people as they really are. The reality is that no one is perfect. No one is completely imperfect. I think people connect to that," she says.
While the drama on The Good Wife can get heavy and complicated, the atmosphere on the set, says Panjabi, is "a lot of fun".
"It's quite a relaxed set. We work long hours, so there needs to be some lightness on set. There is a lot of legal jargon to learn and when you're working 16 hours a day, sometimes that legal jargon is too much. I mean, we're not lawyers, we're just actors and sometimes the words are so hard to remember. To lighten the atmosphere, sometimes when someone is on camera, the others will be trying to make him or her laugh. You really have to be very strong in order not to laugh. It gets really hard to look at the (other) actors' eyes because they've got a mischievous smile on their face," she shares, with a laugh.
Who's the naughtiest one?
"I think people would probably tell you that I laugh the most, which is really ironic. I am very bad at corpsing. If I catch somebody's eye, I'll laugh and once I start laughing, I find it very difficult to stop ... sometimes the whole crew starts laughing as well and we have to remind ourselves to be serious or the bosses might tell us off," says Panjabi, giggling as she recounts the behind-the-scenes stories.
Panjabi resumes filming Season Three in three weeks and while it may spell the end of her holiday, she's excited to know what's next.
"Well, I definitely get a new pair of boots next season," she jokes. "I think you're going to see if Alicia and Kalinda's friendship can be saved. I think Kalinda really wants to save it but the ball is really in Alicia's court. I think they're also going to develop the relationship between Cary and Kalinda and I don't know which way that's going to go. It will be very interesting to see because there definitely is an attraction between them but they're on opposing sides – he's with the state attorney's office and she's with the law firm. I think it's going to be fun."
The repeat of The Good Wife (Season Two) finale will air on Diva Universal (Astro Ch 702) tomorrow (1pm) and Sunday, June 26 at 2pm. You can also catch Panjabi in The Infidel, now playing at cinemas nationwide.Full Feed Generated by Get Full RSS, sponsored by USA Best Price.
Posted: 24 Jun 2011 02:44 AM PDT
Local Chinese radio station 988 gets ahead with Malaysia's first deejay comedy talk show on the big stage.
Come July 9, Malaysia will experience its first deejay stand up show – The Most Wanted M.A.S.K-ing Talk Show, which is a fresh spin on local live entertainment acts.
Set to run for 90 minutes at Genting International Show Room in Genting Highlands, this light-hearted stage show is hosted by local Chinese station 988's morning belt deejays – specifically the hosts of 988 Morning Up. They are deejays May, Anson, Sam and Kian, whose initials make up the title of the show – M.A.S.K.
The four will conduct the stage show in Cantonese, while a fifth performer deejay Athena will chatter in Mandarin as she provides a bridge between each set.
Morning Street Up is a talk show programme on local Chinese radio station 988. But they have deejays with stage ambitions!
Themed Attitude, the stage show is divided into different segments. First up is a solo section where each deejay will take to the stage and perform individually. Next, they will perform in pairs. Then, finally, they will entertain the audience as a group.
In a phone interview last week, the five deejays spoke of how they became inspired to present something new to their audience.
"Instead of the usual stand-up comedy show where you have one comedian on the stage, why not do the opposite?" exclaimed DJ Athena, who also hinted about them doing impersonations amid the jokes and quizzes.
"Like the title of our morning show (Gai Tao Cho Dai King), we'll take to the stage as a group where we'll sit down and talk to our audience. There will be some songs too ... like a Hong Kong-style stand-up comedy show," offered DJ Kian, who will discuss contemporary romances and the modern outlook on love during his segment.
DJ Anson, who will take charge of discussions on current issues, will also be responsible for mediating between arguments to ensure they don't get out of hand.
"My part is to show people how to calmly examine and resolve issues. We'll tackle issues that most people can identify with like superior-subordinate relationships at work," he said.
Unlike being on a radio show, where they are only heard, each deejay now has to perform on stage where the audience can see each of them.
Personality and charisma are a big part of the performance. For showbiz value, DJ May spent some time practising her solo bit but shares that the deejay bunch is taking it easy with rehearsals.
"We are concerned that the show won't be spontaneous enough if we are too rehearsed. For my individual segment, I will play the guitar and sing a song, with my own lyrics," she pointed out.
"Anson and Kian have already begun training to boost their stamina by going jogging," shared DJ Sam, who lamented that she could not join them in training as she just recently gave birth.
"My set deals with the more serious issues. We will be talking about people's attitudes and whether they behave professionally or not. We'll even reveal some industry secrets and issues regarding prominent people," teased DJ Sam, who is hopeful that the professionally-styled costumes would make her look taller and slimmer.
The Most Wanted M.A.S.K-ing Talk Show, (also known as Morning Street Up Talk Show), will be staged at Genting International Show Room on July 9 from 8pm to 10pm. Admission is free but tickets are required and the audience is limited to 1,000. Tickets are available from the 988 office, via the 988 Happy Cruiser or the upcoming 988 road show at Cheras Leisure Mall this Sunday at 2pm. Stay tuned to 988 for other details and sponsored freebies. The Star operates 988.Full Feed Generated by Get Full RSS, sponsored by USA Best Price.
Posted: 24 Jun 2011 02:43 AM PDT
The cash prizes just keep on growing when you tune in to Red FM's Blankety Blank and What's The Movie bonanza. These two lucrative contests are hot favourites among listeners with the prize money snowballing each time an incorrect answer is given.
While you get your dose of daily humour, news and the best music with Rudy and Jeremy on Red FM's Breakfast show (Monday to Friday from 6am to 10am), you can give your brain the ultimate wake-up call too!
Listen in to play Red FM's Blankety Blank and walk away with a cash prize that could make you a few hundred or a few thousand ringgit richer. Just guess the missing word from a given sentence and the cash is yours. The money snowballs if no one gets it right and one lucky listener found out just how much it could go up to when he won a whopping RM28,000 last March!
Get another shot at the cash during Red FM's Drive show with Terry from Monday to Friday (3pm to 7pm). Terry's vibrant personality and passion for movies have made the segment a highly popular drive time slot as listeners make their way home. Sweeten your journey by joining Red FM's What's The Movie to win a generous cash prize.
Yes, put your movie knowledge to the test with Terry, the station's resident movie guru. A short clip from a movie is played and all you have to do is correctly identify the clip. With prize money accumulated to RM20,000 at one point, here is a contest you can't afford to miss.
All the wrong answers from the two contests are posted on Red FM's website, so be sure to check it out to help increase your chances of getting the correct answer. For more details, visit www.red.fm and join the Red FM (Malaysia) Facebook group. You can also follow us on Twitter (@iloveredfm).
Red FM is owned and operated by The Star.Full Feed Generated by Get Full RSS, sponsored by USA Best Price.
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