Harry Potter actor Richard Griffiths dies

Updated 30 March 2013
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Harry Potter actor Richard Griffiths dies

LONDON: British actor Richard Griffiths, best known for his roles as Harry Potter’s uncle and in the cult film “Withnail & I,” has died aged 65, his agent said yesterday.
The portly star of stage and screen, one of Britain’s best loved character actors, died on Thursday from complications following heart surgery, Simon Beresford said.
Griffiths will be forever remembered as Uncle Monty by fans of cult classic Withnail & I, although he reached his biggest audience as Uncle Vernon Dursley in the Harry Potter films.
Daniel Radcliffe, who played the boy wizard in the blockbuster Potter series, led the tributes to a man he said had offered him “encouragement, tutelage and humor.”
The two men worked together on the Harry Potter films and later in the play Equus.
“Any room he walked into was made twice as funny and twice as clever just by his presence. I am proud to say I knew him,” Radcliffe said in a statement.
Griffiths was born in 1947 in Yorkshire in northern England, the son of a steelworker. His parents were both deaf so he had to learn sign language at an early age.
He left school at 15 and worked as a porter for a while, but his boss persuaded him to go back to education, to study drama.
He later joined the Royal Shakespeare Company, excelling in playing the clown.
Early film credits included Chariots of Fire, The French Lieutenant’s Woman, and Gandhi, before he landed a starring role in the 1987 comedy Withnail & I.
Nicholas Hytner, the director of London’s National Theatre who directed Griffiths in one of his biggest stage hits, The History Boys, said he was “the life of every party.”
He recalled anecdotes that “would go on for hours, apparently without destination, constantly side-splitting. The only way to stop them was to tell him you were walking away.”
Griffiths won a Tony and an Olivier award for his role as an inspirational teacher in The History Boys, and was nominated for a Bafta for best actor for the film version.


Modi or Gandhi? Indian mystics split over poll outcome

Updated 22 March 2019
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Modi or Gandhi? Indian mystics split over poll outcome

  • Larra Shah expects Modi to be returned, but with a vastly reduced majority
  • Raj Kumar Sharma thinks opposition leader Rahul Gandhi will win

MUMBAI: Transgender mystic Zoya Lobo turns over three oracle cards, studies them for a minute and looks up. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will definitely win India’s general election this summer, she proclaims.
Clairvoyant Larra Shah also predicts a victory for Modi owing to his “extremely powerful aura,” but astrologer Raj Kumar Sharma thinks opposition leader Rahul Gandhi will win because his party’s moon sign is Virgo.
Vedic astrology is big business in Hindu-majority India and stargazers are making a host of predictions for the world’s biggest elections starting next month — their many followers hanging on every utterance.
Some 900 million voters are registered to cast ballots in the vote in April and May which will see Gandhi’s Congress party seek to dislodge Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) from power.
Shah, 49, a celebrity holistic healer who practices tarot reading, says most of them will plump for Modi, himself a devout Hindu.
“When it comes to tarot cards Modi is like the emperor or the magician where the power of self-knowledge, of spiritual balance, of karma, is in perfection,” she explains to AFP.
“Rahul Gandhi is more like the devil because he’s always confused. There is a conflict there because he is a Gemini so has a dual personality,” Shah adds.
Modi, 68, and the right-wing Hindu nationalist BJP swept to power five years ago by winning 282 out of 543 seats, forming the country’s first majority government in almost three decades.
Shah expects Modi to be returned, but with a vastly reduced majority. Pre-election polling suggests an even closer contest, with many forecasting that neither party will win the 272 seats needed for a majority.
Lobo also has a prediction that hits closer to home for her — a 35 percent chance that Modi will do something to help India’s two-million-strong transgender community.
Indians consult soothsayers for advice on a raft of subjects from whom to marry to whether to buy a house or strike a business deal.
Many businessmen, Bollywood actors and politicians have personal astrologers scrutinize their stars closely to determine auspicious days to hold functions, release a movie or make political announcements.
For the election, Sharma says the planets are aligning in favor of Congress — based on the birth dates of the parties and their leaders — and that it will be able to persuade smaller, regional parties to join them in a coalition.
“Congress’s moon sign is Virgo and at present a favorable Jupiter Mahadasha (period) is happening for them while the BJP’s moon sign is Scorpio,” he explains.
“Rahul Gandhi’s favorable period has started and his moon is more powerful than Narendra Modi’s moon so my prediction is very clear: Rahul Gandhi will either become the prime minister or will make the prime minister with the support of his party.”
He sees the elections being “extremely volatile” because they were declared at an inauspicious time — when the sun was setting instead of rising — and that they may witness more violence between India and Pakistan.