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Category: shopping guide

Amazon Prime Video Announces New Original Series for India – Four More Shots Please!


Amazon Prime Video Friday announced their upcoming Original series titled “Four More Shots Please!” The series revolves around the lives of four young urban Indian women. In the first season, this 10-part comedy, drama and romance series is anchored in the unceasing friendship between the four women and revolves around their relationships, work-life conflicts, ambitions and anxieties as they deal with being women in the India of 2018.

Created in collaboration with Rangita Pritish Nandy and produced by Pritish Nandy Communications, the show is directed by Anu Menon. Vijay Subramaniam, Director and Head, Content, Amazon Prime Video, India said in a statement, “‘Four More Shots Please!’ reflects the voices of the generation of Indian women who are independent in mind, body and thought. It’s a story that hasn’t been told yet in India and we’re glad to have the perfect partners in Pritish Nandy Communications bringing this series to fruition. Rangita Pritish Nandy’s vision and Anu Menon’s direction has truly transformed the story into a must watch series that is very entertaining and relatable to all our customers.”

The series, which is helmed by a predominantly women cast and crew, stars Sayani Gupta, Kirti Kulhari, Bani J and Maanvi Gagroo in the lead roles. Prateik Babbar, Neil Bhooplalam, Lisa Ray, Milind Soman, Amrita Puri and Sapna Pabbi are also part of the ensemble cast. Devika Bhagat has penned the series with dialogues by Ishita Moitra.

“It’s a funny, exciting, magical show full of wit, humour and insight into a generation that refuses to take itself for granted. Rangita, creator of the show and Anu, director for the first season, take you on a roller coaster ride through the lives, loves and ambitions of these four women who choose to take the road less travelled by… And yes, there are some great guys too on the show. They will take your breath away for they are today’s new age men. So no, it’s not just a show about women. It’s all about us and our wonderful times. It’s about liberation from the past,” Pritish said.

The series will be available on the streaming platform from January 25, 2019.



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Global Wearable Device Sales to Reach 225 Million in 2019: Gartner


Global shipments of wearable devices will reach 225 million in 2019 – an increase of 25.8 percent from 2018, market research firm Gartner said on Friday.

Spending by end-users on wearable devices is forecast to reach $42 billion in 2019. Of that, $16.2 billion will be on smartwatches alone.

“At the moment, the smartwatch market is bolstered by the relatively stable and higher average selling price (ASP) of the Apple Watch. But the overall ASP of smartwatches is expected to slowly decline from $221.99 in 2018 to $210 in 2022, due to lower-priced competitors,” Alan Antin, Senior Director, Gartner, said in a statement.

Seventy-four million smartwatches will be shipped in 2019, thus making smartwatches the top segment among all wearable device form factors.

“Traditional watch brands such as Fossil and Casio will gain market share by offering more style and choice in their portfolio than the technology brands. We think that fashion and traditional watch brands are likely to account for up to 20 percent of unit shipments by 2022,” added Antin.

By 2022, ear-worn devices or “hearables” shipments will take over as the top wearables segment, with 158 million units shipped compared to 115 million smartwatch shipments in 2022, the market research firm added.

Ear-worn devices, such as Apple AirPods and Plantronics’ BackBeat FIT, will account for more than 30 percent of all shipped wearables by 2022.



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Samsung Galaxy A8s Said to Ditch 3.5mm Headphone Jack, US FCC Listing Confirms Infinity-O Display


Samsung Galaxy A8s is now speculated to debut without a 3.5mm headphone jack. If true, the Galaxy A8s would debut as the first Galaxy smartphone to have the absence of a 3.5mm headphone jack that left the Apple iPhone family a long time back and was recently ditched by smartphone vendors such as HTC and OnePlus. Separately, a US FCC listing has apparently confirmed that the Galaxy A8s will come with a display hole, as formally teased by Samsung last month.

A Chinese tipster who reveals unannounced developments using pseudonym MMDDJ_ on Twitter suggested that Samsung would bring the Galaxy A8s without a 3.5mm headphone jack. While the South Korean company hasn’t revealed any formal details around the presence or absence of the audio interface on its new smartphone, if the speculation comes true, the Galaxy A8s will be the first Samsung model to come with the absence of a 3.5mm headphone jack. The Galaxy S10 is also likely to follow the footsteps of the Galaxy A8s and will come without a traditional audio jack.

Companies such as HTC and OnePlus recently ditched the 3.5mm headphone jack to favour a digital-to-analogue (DAC) converter to deliver a premium audio experience. Also, to recall, Apple abandoned the traditional audio connectivity method by removing the headphone jack from the iPhone 7 back in 2016.

Alongside the speculation around the absence of the 3.5mm headphone jack, documentation available on the US FCC website confirms the presence of a display hole on the Galaxy A8s. The documentation features the Galaxy A8s as SM-G8870 and includes one of the screenshots of the handset that shows a room for the hole that is likely to be meant for the frontal camera sensor. The area in question is featured on the top-left corner of the screen, as spotted by GalaxyClub. Also, the listed screenshot shows that the smartphone has a 19.5:9 aspect ratio.

samsung galaxy a8s screenshot fcc Samsung Galaxy A8s

Photo Credit: FCC

 

Importantly, it is unclear whether the Galaxy A8s will have a notch at the top-left corner or simply a display hole, as teased by Samsung last month. Previous reports, however, claimed that the new smartphone will come with an Infinity-O type display that the company showcased at its annual developer conference earlier this month. The new display design was previewed with a hole at the top-centre.

Samsung Galaxy A8s specifications (rumoured)

The Samsung Galaxy A8s is rumoured to debut with a 6.39-inch display with a full-HD+ resolution. It is also said to have a Qualcomm Snapdragon 710 SoC, paired with 6GB of LPDDR4 RAM and 128GB internal storage that is expandable via microSD card (up to 512GB). Further, the handset is speculated to come with a 3,400mAh battery and have a USB Type-C port.



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Hathway Now Offers 125Mbps Broadband Plan at Rs. 649 Per Month, Without FUP


Hathway has revised its entire broadband tariff lineup for subscribers in Hyderabad, removing FUP restrictions. With the latest revision, the ISP is now offering as high as 125Mbps speeds at an affordable monthly plan of Rs. 649. There is also a 25Mbps plan that comes at Rs. 399 per month. The new lineup has a total of six different monthly plans that carry names – Hero, Super, Lightening, Freedom, Thunder, and Rapid. The new move by the Mumbai-based company comes ahead of the expansion of Jio GigaFiber that is so far in its testing mode in the country but is promising to offer up to 1Gbps of speeds to take on the competition.

Among other new plans, the ‘Thunder’ broadband plan that comes at a monthly charge of Rs. 649 offers 125Mbps speeds. It can also be availed with six-month subscription at Rs. 3,549 or 12-month subscription at Rs. 6,588. There aren’t any defined FUP restrictions.

Hathway subscribers in Hyderabad can also opt for 100Mbps speeds through the ‘Freedom’ broadband plan at Rs. 599 per month. The same plan can be picked for six months at a one-time charge of Rs. 3,294 or for 12 months at Rs. 5,988. Similarly, there is a ‘Rapid’ plan with 80Mbps speeds at a monthly charge of Rs. 499, ‘Lightening’ plan with 75Mbps at Rs. 449, and ‘Hero’ plan with 50Mbps speeds at Rs. 499. Subscribers with low data usage can also pick the ‘Super’ plan that offers 25Mbps of speeds at a monthly charge of Rs. 399. This can be opted for six months at Rs. 2,399 or 12 months at Rs. 4,500.

Just like the ‘Thunder’ broadband plan, the other five plans offered by Hathway in the Hyderabad city are listed with no FUP limits.hathway hyderabad broadband plans Hathway

It is worth noting here that as mentioned on the official Hathway listing, installation charges applicable on one-month plans and taxes are additional, as applicable. Also, plans are subject to area feasibility and may not be available in your region. Folks at TelecomTalk first reported the revised Hathway plans.

Hathway’s top plans offer speeds of 300Mbps, but these are yet to arrive in the Hyderabad city. Competitive ISPs, including ACT Fibernet and Spectra, on the other hand, are offering 1Gbps broadband plans for some time. Jio GigaFiber that is speculated to democratise the broadband sector is yet to arrive in many regions across the country, including Hyderabad. Nevertheless, last month, Reliance Industries (RIL) picked up a majority stake in Hathway and Datacom to bolster the Jio GigaFiber rollout.



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Zomato to Bring Online Ordering, Food Delivery Services to 30 More Indian Cities This Week


Zomato on Friday announced that it will launch its online ordering and food delivery services in 30 more cities in India over the course of the week. It also reiterated that it will have a presence in 100 cities in India shortly. The company added that to facilitate the expansion, it is hiring delivery partners in the new cities. Zomato Founder and CEO Deepinder Goyal also spoke about the early success that the Gold subscription service has enjoyed in Jakarta and Manila, where it launched earlier this month, adding that Gold is now present in 5 countries and 26 cities globally.

With the addition of 30 new cities, Zomato’s online ordering and food delivery services are now present in 93 Indian cities. Zomato added it now has over 75,000 food delivery restaurant associations, expanding from 54,000 in just 2 months. Here’s the full list of 30 new cities Zomato online ordering and food delivery is expected to be expanding to: Ajmer, Ambala, Anand, Anantapur, Bareilly, Bathinda, Bhavnagar, Bhilai, Durg, Haridwar, Jamshedpur, Kakinada, Karnal, Katni, Kolhapur, Kurnool, Meerut, Puducherry, Puri, Rajahmundry, Rajkot, Ratnagiri, Roorkee, Saharanpur, Sangli, Sangrur, Siliguri, Thrissur, Tirupati, and Ujjain,

As mentioned, the expansion to the 30 new cities will see the hiring of new delivery partners, over 5,000 of them. This, the company said, strengthens its “strong last mile delivery fleet” that has 150,000 partners – expanding rapidly from 5,400 in January 2018. Zomato in its emailed statement added that while its own delivery services are currently available from 11am to 11pm, it will soon offer breakfast delivery and midnight meals as well. Finally, it added that the HyperPure ingredients delivery service for restaurants will reach Delhi/ NCR in December.

Commenting on the expansion of the online ordering and food delivery business, Mohit Gupta, CEO – Food Delivery, Zomato said “We have been surprised by the demand in Tier II Tier III cities and are therefore gung-ho on serving every last customer, in the smallest of towns in India. We will be the first to hit the 100 city mark and will continue to invest heavily to lead geographical penetration, in the food delivery market in India. We have seen market share grow in our main markets through the festive season and have plans for growth in December as well.”

Goyal added, “We have experienced an overwhelming reaction to our expansion across all of our businesses – Gold, Food Delivery and Supply. The number of Gold memberships sold in Manila and Jakarta within a week is beating early numbers of Delhi and Mumbai. HyperPure has had great reception, and we are opening up our next centre in the NCR in a couple of weeks. The Food@Work business has also been expanding into new markets. And of course, the Food Delivery business is ramping up really well with the growth in main markets, as well as the reception in Tier II Tier III cities.”



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Sol Republic Relays Sport Wireless Review


The Sol Republic Relays Sport Wireless is a pair of wireless earphones aimed at fitness enthusiasts, and has been in the market for several months now. It claims to deliver up to 8 hours of battery life, is IPX4 sweat resistant, and features Sol Republic’s FreeFlex technology, which claims to offer a secure fit without the need for pesky ear-hooks.

This pair of earphones has an MRP of Rs. 4,990 but is available for less than Rs. 3,000 on e-commerce websites such as Amazon India. We have been testing it extensively for the past few weeks, and here is our detailed review.

Sol Republic Relays Sport Wireless design and comfort

The Relays Sport Wireless is secured to the cardboard box it comes in with four separate clips, which makes the unboxing experience rather tedious and convoluted. The retail box contains four sets of decent quality silicone tips, which allow for a fair amount of personal configuration. Foam tips and a case of any kind are absent, but that’s excusable given the price of these earphones.

The cord that connects the two earpieces feels fragile, and no strain relief is provided where the ends of the wire meet the earbuds. Sol Republic’s FreeFlex technology — a disc of rubber that sits around the end of each earpiece — helps achieve a secure fit without the need for ear-hooks. However, the rubber made contact with the flaps of cartilage just beside our ear canals, also known as the tragus. This made long listening sessions quite uncomfortable for us. That said, the earpieces won’t stick out too far from your ears, and should be comfortable enough for short durations.

SolRepublic Inline1 Sol Republic Relays Sport Wireless

 

The buttons and electronic components are housed within two water-resistant modules that dangle from each earpiece. The one next to the right earpiece houses the Micro-USB port for charging, which is covered by a rubberised flap to protect against water ingress, a power button, a multi-function button used to activate Google Assistant (or Siri) and play/ pause music, as well as two volume buttons. The rubberised buttons are hard to press and have very shallow travel. Another module next to the left earpiece houses the battery. The symmetrical arrangement helps balance the weight of the earphones.

The Relays Sports Wireless is IPX4 sweat resistant, which along with the secure fit, makes it suitable for use while running and in the gym. However, the two modules next to the earbuds swing about while doing any intensive activity, which is sure to irritate some users.

Sol Republic Relays Sport Wireless audio quality and battery life

Budget earphones usually have a V-shaped sound signature with boosted bass and treble, and repressed mids. With the Sol Republic Relays Sport, the bass though controlled, is present and it never overpowers the sound mix. Mids are expressive, prominent and crystal clear. Fans of vocal-heavy genres such as Blues would be well served by the Relays Sport Wireless.

The overall sound signature is clear and detailed with the highs, mids, and lows fairly balanced. The treble is crisp but tends to get rather harsh and bright. In fact, the very expressive high frequencies make listening to treble-heavy tracks like 21st Century Breakdown by Green Day and Neighbourhood #4 (Kettles) by Arcade Fire quite unpleasant.

SolRepublic Inline2 Sol Republic Relays Sport Wireless

 

That said, the clarity and detail is impressive for this price bracket, and every instrument can be heard distinctly. The soundstage is also quite wide and open. Thanks to to the company’s Free Flex technology, noise isolation is also excellent. With earphones in this price range, we usually have to crank the volume way up to block out ambient noise, but the Relays Sport Wireless does a stellar job even at 50 percent volume.

A small LED on the right module blinks red when the earphones are low on power. iOS users can also check the battery level anytime via the batteries widget on the Today screen. Sol Republic promises eight hours on a single charge, which is achievable with music playing at moderate volume. Pump up the volume, though, and the battery life gets reduced to around 6.5 to 7 hours. A full charge takes an hour and a half, but a 10-minute charge can power the earphones for around 60 minutes.

Verdict
The Sol Republic Relays Sports Wireless is a decent option for those who want affordable wireless earphones for running or use in the gym. The fit is extremely secure, mids are crystal clear, and bass is tight and controlled. Sweat resistance also adds to its appeal.

The harsh treble can be difficult to live with though, and the buttons are hard to press. These earphones are not suitable for use over long durations. The thin wire and lack of strain relief in the design also raises questions on long-term durability.

Potential buyers should take a look at the 1More iBFree Sport which also suffers from harsh treble reproduction but is better built and IPX6 certified. Those who do not care about a sports-centric design should take a look at the Sony WI-C300, which has a balanced sound signature and is extremely comfortable. Both the iBFree Sport and WI-C300 can be found online for Rs. 2,999.

Price: Rs. 2,990 (MOP)

Pros

  • Very secure fit
  • Tight and controlled bass, clear mids
  • Wide soundstage
  • Great noise isolation

Cons

  • Uncomfortable, not suitable for long listening sessions
  • Harsh, bright treble
  • Questionable build quality
  • Stiff buttons

Ratings (out of 5)

  • Design/ comfort: 2.5
  • Audio quality: 3.5
  • Battery life: 3.5
  • Value for money: 3.5
  • Overall: 3
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PUBG PS4 Price, Pre Order Details, India Release Date and Time, Download Size, and Everything Else You need to Know


One of the worst kept secrets of the year, PUBG (PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds) comes to the PS4 later this month, after gracing the Windows PC and Xbox One as well as iOS and Android as PUBG Mobile. The Xbox One edition of PUBG hit version 1.0 in September and the game is now prepped for a PS4 release. From the PUBG PS4 release date, start time, download size, and possible PUBG PS4 Pro enhancements, here’s what you need to know about developer PUBG Corp’s battle royale shooter.

PUBG PS4 release date and start time

PUBG PS4 release date is Friday, December 7 the world over. As the PlayStation Network (PSN) supports local timezones, PUBG PS4 start time is 12am on December 7 in your region. This makes the Indian PUBG PS4 start time and release date is 12am IST on December 7.

PUBG PS4 price

The PUBG PS4 price is Rs. 1,999 on disc ($30 in the US). With the digital version of the base game known as the PUBG Looter’s Edition being Rs. 2,750 ($30 in the US), a 3,999 Champion’s Edition ($60 in the US), and a Rs. 2,750 Survivor’s Edition ($50 in the US), there are options aplenty. As for which version to get, we got you covered.

PUBG PS4 pre-order India

You can pre-order PUBG PS4 digitally via the PS Store right now. If you’re looking for a disc copy, select retailers are taking pre-orders well. While buying it digitally would let you play it quicker due to being able to preload the game ahead of time, buying it on disc is cheaper in India as it’s Rs. 1,999 versus the PS Store price of Rs. 2,750.

PUBG PS4 pre-order bonuses

Pre-ordering PUBG PS4 digitally nets you a host of cosmetic items. They are as follows:

  • Nathan Drake’s desert outfit from the Uncharted series
  • Ellie’s Backpack from The Last of Us
  • PUBG avatar
  • PUBG Miramar theme

PUBG PS4 gameplay explained

The core gameplay of PUBG PS4 remains unchanged from any other version of the game. For the uninitiated, it’s simple. In this online multiplayer shooter, up to 100 players are parachuted onto a large map and start off with no gear aside from cosmetic clothing options that don’t impact gameplay. On landing you’ll have to scavenge for guns, grenades, items, and armour, which are distributed at random, killing players as you come across them. You can switch between first-person and third-person perspectives.

The game map shrinks every few minutes, forcing you to relocate to a new area, and damaging you until you do. Failing to enter a new safe zone results in death. If you’re the last player standing, you’re greeted with the phrase ‘winner, winner, chicken dinner’. You get in-game currency at the end of each round that you can use towards purchasing cosmetic gear to kit out your character.

PUBG PS4 editions

  • Disc Edition Includes: Base Game for Rs. 1,999 ($30 in the US)
  • Looter’s Digital Edition Includes: Base Game for Rs. 2,750 ($30 in the US)
  • Survivor’s Digital Edition Includes: Base Game, Vikendi Event Pass, 2,300 G-Coin Pack, 20,000 BP for Rs. 2,750 ($50 in the US)
  • Champion’s Digital Edition Includes: Base Game, Vikendi Event Pass, 6,000 G-Coin Pack, 20,000 BP for Rs. 3,999 ($60 in the US)

It’s odd that the PUBG Survivor’s and Looter’s Editions sport the same price point in India. Perhaps it’s an error on Sony’s part that will be rectified shortly.

PUBG PS4 download size

The PUBG PS4 download size is 25GB. Bear in mind that the file size may differ according to the region you’re in, depending on language packs and the like. Safe to say that there may be a day one patch too given the game’s always online nature, though exact details are unknown at the moment.

PUBG PS4 Pro enhancements
The PS4 Pro version of PUBG gets HDR support according to a support page on the official PUBG website in addition to some ‘performance improvements’ that are yet to be detailed. These most likely have to do with a higher frame rate and resolution though specifics are yet to be made public.

Does PUBG PS4 need a PS Plus subscription?

Yes it does. You won’t be able to play PUBG PS4 without a PlayStation Plus (PS Plus) subscription – Sony’s multiplayer service needed to play online games. This is unlike Fortnite, Final Fantasy XIV, and Destiny 2, all of which can be played on PS4 without PS Plus. Thankfully, you don’t need to use your credit or debit card to buy a PS Plus subscription with Sony bringing PS Plus cards to India. The prepaid cards have two denominations, Rs. 1,869 for three months and Rs. 4,439 for one year.

PUBG review
In our PUBG PC review, we stated that it’s an interesting addition to the shooter landscape bogged down by poor frame rate and a myriad of other technical issues. Will the PS4 version be any different? Find out in our review soon.


If you’re a fan of video games, check out Transition, Gadgets 360’s gaming podcast. You can listen to it via Apple Podcasts or RSS, or just listen to this week’s episode by hitting the play button below.



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Microsoft’s Market Value Overtakes Apple’s to Close Out Week


Microsoft’s big bet on cloud computing is paying off as the company has surpassed Apple as the world’s most valuable publicly traded company.

The software maker’s prospects looked bleak just a few years ago, as licenses for the company’s Windows system fell with a sharp drop in sales of personal computers.

But under CEO Satya Nadella, Microsoft has found stability by focusing on software and services over the internet, or the cloud, with long-term business contracts.

That 1990s personal-computing powerhouse is now having a renaissance moment, as it eclipses Facebook, Google, Amazon and the other tech darlings of the late decade.

Apple had been the world’s most prosperous firm since claiming the top spot from Exxon Mobil earlier this decade. Microsoft surpassed Apple briefly a few times this week, but didn’t close on top until Friday, with a market value of $851 billion to Apple’s $847 billion. Microsoft hadn’t been at the top since the height of the dot-com boom in 2000.

Microsoft became a contender again in large part because Apple’s stock fell nearly 20 percent in November, while Microsoft hasn’t done any worse than the rest of the stock market. But the fact that it hasn’t done poorly is a reflection of its steady focus on business customers in recent years.

Microsoft lost its luster as people were shunning PCs in favor of smartphones. In 2013, PC sales plunged 10 percent to about 315 million, the worst year-to-year drop ever, according to research firms Gartner and IDC. It didn’t help that Microsoft’s effort to make PCs more like phones, Windows 8, was widely panned.

But a turnaround began when the Redmond, Washington, company promoted Nadella as CEO in 2014. He succeeded Microsoft’s longtime CEO, Steve Ballmer, who initially scoffed at the notion that people would be willing to pay $500 or more for Apple’s iPhones.

That bet paid off. Windows is now a dwindling fraction of Microsoft’s business. While the company still runs consumer-focused businesses such as Bing search and Xbox gaming, it has prioritized business-oriented services such as its Office line of email and other workplace software, as well as newer additions such as LinkedIn and Skype. But its biggest growth has happened in the cloud, particularly the cloud platform it calls Azure. Cloud computing now accounts for more than a quarter of Microsoft’s revenue, and Microsoft rivals Amazon as a leading provider of such services.

Wedbush analyst Dan Ives said Azure is still in its early days, meaning there’s plenty of room for growth, especially considering the company’s large customer base for Office and other products.

“While the tech carnage seen over the last month has been brutal, shares of (Microsoft) continue to hold up like the Rock of Gibraltar,” he said.

Being less reliant on consumer demand helped shield Microsoft from holiday season turbulence and U.S.-China trade war jitters affecting Apple and other tech companies.

President Donald Trump amplified those tariff concerns when he told The Wall Street Journal in a story published late Monday that new tariffs could affect iPhones and laptops imported from China.

The iPhone maker had already seen its stock fall after reporting a mixed bag of quarterly results in early November amid fears about how the technology industry will fare in the face of such threats as rising interest rates, increased government regulation and Trump’s escalating trade war with China.

Apple also spooked investors with an unexpected decision to stop disclosing how many iPhones it sells each quarter. That move has been widely interpreted as a sign that Apple foresees further declines in iPhone sales and is trying to mask that.

While smartphones caused the downturn in personal computers years ago, sales of smartphones themselves have now stalled. That’s partly because with fewer innovations from previous models, more people choose to hold on to the devices for longer periods before upgrading.

Daniel Morgan, senior portfolio manager for Synovus Trust, said Microsoft is outperforming its tech rivals in part because of what it’s not. It doesn’t face as much regulatory scrutiny as advertising-hungry Google and Facebook, which have attracted controversy over their data-harvesting practices. Unlike Netflix, it’s not on a hunt for a diminishing number of international subscribers. And while Amazon also has a strong cloud business, it’s still more dependent on online retail.



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Selection Day Is More Than a Cricket and LGBTQ Story, Say Creators of the New Netflix Series From India


“I love Hinglish,” British actor-turned-writer Marston Bloom told a group of journalists at a Netflix showcase event in Singapore in early November. “I just love it. The air [of it], it’s just gorgeous.”

Bloom is the showrunner for Netflix’s next original series from India, Selection Day, which is based on Indo-Australian author Aravind Adiga’s 2016 novel of the same name and will be out December 28 worldwide. Technically speaking though, it’s an Anglo-Indian creation, given Bloom’s involvement alongside production houses, Anil Kapoor Film Company and London-based Seven Stories.

He doesn’t speak Hinglish — a portmanteau of Hindi and English — himself, which meant Bloom’s English dialogues had to be translated into the language(s) that made sense for the characters. Udayan Bhat, an executive producer for AKFC, revealed they would have long phone calls, trying to find “the closest interpretation” in Marathi or Hindi.

The amount of English used today by Indians, and the quickly changing landscape of Mumbai, came as major culture shocks for Selection Day’s Indian-born British director Udayan Prasad, who left India at the age of nine. He cited the northern suburb of Andheri as an example, which he couldn’t recognise from when he last saw it.

“In Delhi, I was walking around Lodhi Gardens, thinking there’s something really wrong here,” Prasad said. “People were picnicking, I was in Delhi, [and] everyone’s talking [in] English. What the hell is going on?” His surprise would likely register as a shrug for most Indians, more so given Prasad is referring to one of the most upscale places in the central part of India’s capital city.

And in the years India has changed linguistically and geographically, there’s been a corresponding shift in ideologies and values as well. Selection Day is a coming-of-age story of two teenage brothers Radha (Yash Dholye) and Manju Kumar (Mohammad Samad) — with a bigger focus on the latter — who have been raised by their strict, obsessive father (Rajesh Tailang) to be star cricket players. Manju is more interested in the sciences, but he doesn’t have much of a say.

 

“The book explores the fact that in Indian society, an individual is not a thing,” executive producer Anand Tucker, co-founder and CEO of Seven Stories, said. “You’re part of a family or a society, but you’re not an individual. Whereas in the West, it’s all about being an individual, whatever the hell that means. For this new generation of Indians, their parents have said that they are nothing and you belong to the bigger unit, yet the world outside is telling them, ‘Be who you wanna be, follow your dreams.’”

Bloom said he was conscious in not letting the boys’ controlling father turn into a stock character, one that we have seen in countless Indian films in the past. “We know all those dads,” he added. “And it became really key in getting compassion for this man. It’s difficult to be his son, but as an outsider, you can understand what’s driving him, his fears, and his anxieties.”

“Even in this madness — in which he has dedicated his whole life to rearing his two boys to be the number one and two best batsmen in the world — even though it’s nuts, and it’s awful for the boys in a way, there’s a kind of glorious Don Quixote-style [to it],” Tucker said. “And for him, it’s tilting at the windmills of the entire establishment that’s set against him. He’s a small man, but he will not be defeated. And there’s a beauty in that.”

Bringing a book to life has inherent challenges, Bloom said, with one of them being how internal things are. “In the book, [Manju] has this lovely thing where he loves tasting things. He licks things. It’s a beautiful part of the book, but on screen, that would look so weird. Maybe that could be Netflix’s next thing, some sort of ‘Sensorama TV’.”

Adiga’s book also explores Manju’s discovery of his sexuality, which involves a boy named Javed Ansari (Karanvir Malhotra), who is his complete opposite in most respects. He is a Muslim who comes from a rich family that has taught him to be independent and given him freedom to choose what he wants. Manju’s attraction to Javed makes him a rare, LGBTQ protagonist in Indian film and TV circles, where proper representation is still hard to come by.

selection day creators 2 Selection Day Netflix Udayan Bhat Anand Tucker

Udayan Bhat and Anand Tucker at Netflix’s Singapore event in November
Photo Credit: Ore Huiying/Getty Images for Netflix

“It’s that thing about intense friendships at those ages, [which] became the core of it,” said Bloom. “Manju is someone who doesn’t know. He’d rather just be in a corner, [and] no one looking at him. Certainly, someone trying to kiss him would be the most terrifying thing in the world, I think.”

“There was an opportunity to explore that, which we went with for quite a long time, and then we thought ‘Oh, is that better served elsewhere, in other stories? And does that overload this story?’ But it’s always there, isn’t it?”

Bloom and Tucker said they both have teenage sons who are currently navigating some of those same things. Tucker noted that they didn’t want the LGBTQ focus to “become the thing” Selection Day would be known for, and Bloom cited the example of how female-written content tends to be shelved as “a women’s story”.

“And it’s like ‘Oh no, it’s a story’,” Bloom said, as Tucker concurred: “It’s a story, it’s a story.”

“I don’t think we wanted them to put our programme in [a box and] say, this is what it is, because it’s many things,” Bloom added.

It almost sounds like the Selection Day creators have downplayed the book’s LGBTQ angle, though we won’t know for sure until its release later in December. Bloom also said that “whichever way Manju is veering is a really interesting place to go in subsequent seasons”.

Speaking of the future, Tucker revealed that the first season of Selection Day covers the whole of Adiga’s book, except the last chapter that is set a decade ahead. “We already know where the world of season 2 is, where we are going to pick up Manju & Co. in a few months’ time,” he added.

“There’s a couple of female characters I really like,” Bloom said of his watching experience during post-production. “And I’d love to follow them for a bit longer than we gave here.”

Disclosure: Netflix sponsored the correspondent’s travel and accommodation for the event in Singapore.



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Marriott Says Up to 500 Million Customers Impacted by Starwood Hack


Marriott International Inc said on Friday that hackers accessed up to 500 million customer records in its Starwood Hotels reservation system in an attack that began four years ago, exposing data including passport numbers and payment cards.

Shares were down 5.7 percent in late afternoon trade on news of the hack, one of the largest in history, which prompted regulators in Britain and at least five U.S. states to launch investigations.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation said it was looking into the attack on Starwood, whose brands include Sheraton, St. Regis, W and Westin hotels. It advised affected customers to check for identity fraud and report it to the bureau’s Internet Crime Complaint Center.

The hack began in 2014, a year before Marriott offered to buy Starwood to create the world’s largest hotel operator. The $13.6 billion deal closed in September 2016.

Some 327 million customer records containing information including passport details, birthdates, addresses, phone numbers and email addresses were exposed, according to the company.

The hackers also accessed payment card data for an undisclosed number of customers, the company said.

“What makes this serious is the number of people involved, the intimacy of the data that was taken and the long delay between the breach and discovery,” said Mark Rasch, a former U.S. federal cyber crimes prosecutor.

Some customers complained to Marriott on Twitter, where Starwood was among the top trending U.S. topics. They used terms including “duped,” “angry” and “merger disaster” to express frustration over the incident.

Attorneys filed a lawsuit in a Maryland federal court within hours of the disclosure which seeks class-action status for customers whose data was exposed in the breach.

The complaint accuses Marriott of negligence as well as deceptive and unfair trade practices and sought unspecified financial compensation for harm caused by exposure of their data.

The company said on its website that it learned of the breach on Sept. 8 when an internal security tool sent an alert about suspicious activity.

“We fell short of what our guests deserve,” Marriott Chief Executive Arne Sorenson said in a statement.

Attorneys general in Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, New York and Pennsylvania said they would investigate the attack, as did the UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office.

“The public deserves to know how this happened,” Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey said in a statement.

Company representatives could not be reached to comment on the lawsuit, government investigations or to explain why it had taken so long to uncover and disclose the hack.

Marriott said on its website that it would inform affected guests about the breach starting on Friday, and that it had reported it to law enforcement and regulatory authorities.

The breach appeared to be the second-largest on record, based on records compromised, after one at Yahoo in 2013 that exposed all of its 3 billion user accounts. That incident cost $47 million in litigation expenses and prompted Verizon Communications Inc to cut $350 million off the price it paid when it acquired most of Yahoo.

Marriott said it was too early to estimate the financial impact of the breach, though it would not affect its long-term financial health. The hotel chain said it was working with its insurance carriers to assess coverage.

Baird Equity Research said in a note to clients that breach-related costs, including legal fees, technical expenses and increased security, could force Marriott to delay the roll out of a new customer loyalty program planned for early 2019.

“Investor sentiment toward Marriott could remain somewhat negative in the near term until this security incident is fully resolved and its true financial impact is learned,” Baird said.

Retailers Target Corp and Home Depot Inc each incurred costs of about $200 million after massive payment-card breaches in 2013 and 2014.

The Hyatt breach highlights the need for companies to pay close attention on cyber security when making acquisitions.

“Understanding the cybersecurity posture of an investment is critical to assessing the value of the investment and considering reputational, financial, and legal harm that could befall the company,” said Jake Olcott, a vice president with cybersecurity firm BitSight.

© Thomson Reuters 2018



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