Renowned British physicist Dr.Stephen Hawking passed away on March 14, 2018. He was 76 years old.

In 2014 Eddie Redmayne essayed the role of Dr. Hawking in the film The Theory of Everything. I got a chance to interview Redmayne about how he prepared for the role and his meeting with Dr. Hawking.

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Filmmaker Alexander Dean shares why she made Bombshell:The Hedy Lamarr Story. The Hollywood actress was known for her beauty but not her interest in technology. During World War II Lamar co-invented a secret communication systems based on frequency hopping. It was only decades later that Lamarr got recognition for her work.

Bombshell:The Hedy Lamarr Story released on Mary 9, 2018 in San Francisco Bay area. The film airs on PBS in May 2018.

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We spoke with filmmaker Sebastian Lelio and transgender actress Danila Vega about the making of A Fantastic Woman and how they got the idea to make a film about a transgender actress. The film is about love and politics of identity.

Last week A Fantastic Woman won an Oscar in the foreign language film category and created film history for Chile. This was the first time a Chilean film won an Oscar. This was also the first film with a transgender actress in lead.

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How do you combine your passion for writing and science? We turned to Rina-Shaikh Lesko, who trained and worked as an epidemiologist for many years before embracing her passion for writing. She combined her twin interests: writing and science and became a science writer But, before becoming a science writer Shaikh-Lesko went back to school to study Science Communication from University of California Santa Cruz.

We sat down to speak with Shaikh-Lesko about how she developed an interest in science and writing and what drew her to become an epidemiologist. What prompted her to switch gears and embrace her love for writing.

This is part of our women in science and technology series sponsored by Zoho Corp.

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A highlight from our upcoming interview with Chilean filmmaker Sebastian Lelio and transgender actress Danila Vega. I got to ask them a couple of questions from the famous Proust Questionnaire. We have a longer interview coming up with Lelio and Vega.

Lelio’s film A Fantastic Woman is Chile’s entry in the best foreign-language film category for the 2018 Oscars. The film stars Vega and how she deals with the sudden death of her lover played by Francisco Reyes.

A Fantastic Woman releases in early February 2018 in the San Francisco Bay area.


Dr. Cynthia Lee teaches computer science at Stanford University. She shares how girls and boys are equally interested in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) as children. But around middle schools the number of girls interested in STEM declines? Why is that? Tune in to find out.

This is a highlight of our upcoming interview with Dr. Lee from our Women in Science & Technology TV series sponsored by Zoho.

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Books: Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Namita Gokhale and The Big Lebowski

Reading books has become something of a luxury in these modern times. I managed to snatch some time during the year to read a few books. Here are a few that I enjoyed reading and are mentioned in no particular order. Not all the books were published in 2017.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 84, is the second woman to be appointed to the US Supreme Court. My Own Words is the first book by Ginsburg that was put together with Mary Hartnett and Wendy W. William.

This is a fascinating book that takes you through Ginsburg’s childhood and how she became a lawyer and the role her husband played in helping with her career. She overcame many adversities during the course of her life and learnt how to deal with them.

The book has a selection of her writings and speeches like  interpreting the  constitution and women’s rights. Ginsburg offers us a look into the daily routine at the Supreme Court and how they work.  I enjoyed reading this book and realized that there is no substitution for determination and hard work.


Namita Gokhale’s Things To Leave Behind made for an absorbing read. It is not often that you can read a book about the forgotten Himalayan state of Uttarakhand and its rich and complex social and economic history. Set in the 19thc Gokhale’s fiction highlights the fascinating interaction between the local Kumaoni people, the British and the Christian missionaries.

Gokhale has tirelessly chronicled stories about Uttarakhand in her various books, and in Things To Leave Behind she once again brings to light the fascinating history and people of this forgotten state of India.

I read this book twice to fill the gaps in my knowledge of Uttarakhand, the home state of my parents. Like many before them they left Kumaon in search of better economic opportunities and all I knew about the state is through their stories and anecdotes. Kumonis love to tell stories and Gokhale certainly knows how to tell an absorbing one. She is a born story teller.

Ethan and Joel Coen’s (Coen brothers) The Big Lebowski did ok at the box office when it released in 1998. It went on to become a cult film that has spawned a dedicated fan base, festival and a religion of sorts. I got hooked to this quirky film when I heard Sam Elliot utter these lines at the start of the film.

I only mention it ’cause some- times there’s a man… I won’t say a hero, ’cause what’s a hero? But sometimes there’s a man… and I’m talkin’ about the Dude here … sometimes there’s a man, well, he’s the man for his time and place, he fits right in there. And that’s the Dude, in Los Angeles.

The film has some far out memorable characters and dialog and I was always curious to find out how the Coen brothers concocted this yarn about this White Russian drinking dude, who is unfailing polite and lazy. I stumbled across I’m A Lebowski, You’re A Lebowski at my local library quite by accident. The book is studded with all sorts of trivia about the characters in the film and has interviews with all the actors. I wish they had an interview with the elusive Coen brothers, which would have been just far out.

If you are a fan of Coen brothers and The Big Lebowski then this book is right up your alley.



I did not know what to expect from filmmaker Greta Gerwig’s Lady Bird. I missed multiple screening opportunitiesto see the film. I deliberately skipped reading the reviews since I wanted to discover for myself what the film was about. Finally, a few days ago I watched the film and came away thinking what a beautiful love story on Sacramento, the capital of California. More importantly, the film captured those special years in all our lives when we transition from high school to college. Like many teenagers most of us are eager to become adults and do grown-up things and not listen to the continuous stream of concern and advice from our parents. All we want to do is break free and go to a new place and experience new things, new people and new passions. We are so eager to spread our wings since we think we are stuck in a cage. Little do we realize that the grown-up journey is fraught with intense highs and lows. It is only years later when we look back to those memories do we realize our parents were looking out for us and those high school days were some of the best in our lives. That in essence is the story of Lady Bird for me.

Lady Bird is definitely inspired by Gerwig’s story of growing up in Sacramento. Gerwig does a brilliant job of distilling that high school experience with such great sensitivity and fun. And then there is that Gerwig trademark – a bit of quirkiness. The story revolves around Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson (Saoirse Ronan), whose dream is to leave Sacramento and study in an East Coast college. Her mother’s (Laurie Metcalfe) preference is that she study in California since they cannot afford the tuition for an out-of-state school. Her father (Tracy Letts) secretly supports “Lady Bird’s” wish. While in high school “Lady Bird” discovers her love for Danny O’Neill (Lucas Hedges) and her first lover (Timothe Hal Chalamet). After a series of rejections, Lady Bird gets into a college in New York. She is over the moon that she can finally leave Sacramento and experience life on her terms. Her mother, on the other hand, is distraught and refuses to talk to her. And, it is in New York Lady Bird discovers that all-too-familiar feeling of homesickness and misses her family and friends. Like many of us “Lady Bird” discovers that her heart is really in the town that she grew up, and that those years were indeed special.

By stripping the story to its essence I have not done justice to the filmmaker, actors, director of photography, editors and others. Gerwig, who wrote and directed the film had a clear idea of what she wanted to capture in her debut film as a director. She had me hooked right from the first frame as Lady Bird and her mother are driving back home to Sacramento and she declares she hates California. And I thought why in heaven’s name does she hate California? Now this is going to be interesting to find out I thought.

Ronan is fantastic as Lady Bird, and Metcalfe’s portrayal of an over-worked and anxious mother is brilliant. I thoroughly enjoyed watching the film.

Lady Bird released in November 2017 in the US.


Wish  you all a wonderful and happy 2018. Stay kind.


For 132 minutes I was totally absorbed in watching Ridley Scott’s All The Money In The World. David Scarpa’s screenplay is strong and effective and is inspired by a true story.

If ever there was a tale to tell this was it was the first thought that popped in my head when the end credits rolled. And being uncommonly wealthy does not automatically translate into happiness and joy. Often extraordinary amounts of money shape and skew your thinking and behavior in an unhappy and miserable way is what I came away after watching the film.

All The Money In The World is about the extraordinarily rich and famous oilman John Getty (Christopher Plummer)  and the 1973 kidnapping of his grandson John Paul Getty III (Charlie Plummer) in Italy. At first they think the kidnapping is a hoax. Instead it turns out to be true and involves long and painful months of negotiation between the kidnappers and the Getty family. Gail Getty (Michelle Williams) tries to get the ransom money from her father-in-law, who famously refuses to pay it. The kidnappers mail a severed ear of the kidnapped Getty that finally propels Getty to fork out the ransom money. “To be a Getty is an extraordinary thing,” says the grandson at the start of the film and after watching the film you realize how extraordinarily different they were. All the money in the world could not save the Getty family from this traumatic experience that left deep scars in the family. All the money in the world stultified Getty’s love for his first-born grandson.

There is almost a Shakespearean element in All The Money In The World with its tragic overtones and Christopher Plummer delivers in spades as the miserable, conflicted and cold John Getty, the only billionaire in the world in the 1970s. Getty was famous for his parsimonious ways and yet had one of the best art collections in the world. People change, but objects don’t was Getty’s justification. Plummer’s nuanced portrayal of a conflicted Getty is brilliant. I guess it should come as no surprise that Plummer was director Scott’s first choice, but that did not happen. Instead they chose Kevin Spacey to play the role. Six weeks before the release of the film Spacey’s sexual allegations surfaced and Scott decided to re-shoot the film with Plummer in the role of Getty senior. After watching the film you realize why Plummer was Scott’s first choice.

Plummer and Williams form the backbone of the film and their performances are strong. I wonder if Plummer will get nominated for an Oscar for his performance in All The Money In The World. I am betting that he will be.Charlie Plummer pulls off his role with great aplomb as John Paul Getty III. Mark Wahlberg’s performance in the film was clearly over-shadowed by Plummer, Williams and Plummer.

Special mention must be made of Academy Award winning editor Claire Simpson (Platoon, Wall Street, Far From The Madding Crowd, Constant Gardner). Simpson edited All The Money In The World and I am intensely curious to find out how she edited the film the second time around.

Films  have a way of kindling our curiosity and our library of thoughts. All The Money In The World certainly kindled my curiosity especially since the Getty family has such a strong San Francisco connection. Gail Getty and her husband Paul Getty-II grew up in San Francisco before embracing their globetrotting lifestyle. I went scurrying to read about the Getty family and  ended up reading Uncommon Youth: The Gilded Life and Tragic Times of J.Paul Getty III by Charles Fox. Next, I wanted to find out more about Christopher Plummer and his brilliant acting career. I searched and found a fascinating 90 minute long interview In Conversation With David Plummer by David Edelstein. I am currently reading Plummer’s In Spite of Myself: A Memoir.

I wonder if Plummer will get nominated for an Oscar for his performance in All The Money In The World. I am betting that he will be nominated.

All The Money In The World released on Dec 25, 2017 in the US.