Margaret Atwood’s ‘Alias Grace’ gets Hollywood treatment

Actress Sarah Gadon poses to promote her series, ‘Alias Grace.’ (AP)
Updated 04 November 2017
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Margaret Atwood’s ‘Alias Grace’ gets Hollywood treatment

NEW YORK: Another Margaret Atwood novel is getting the Hollywood treatment, this time on Netflix.
In “Alias Grace,” a six-episode Netflix miniseries based on Atwood’s historical novel, an Irish immigrant working as a maid in Canada in the 1840s is accused of murdering her boss and his mistress. Her case is covered with breathless scrutiny, making the young woman infamous.
Sarah Gadon plays Grace, who recounts her life story to a young psychiatrist trying to help jog her memory.
“While he’s having these interviews with Grace throughout the show, you start to question his motives,” Gadon said in a recent interview. “Is he falling for Grace? Does he want to save her? Has he become obsessed with her or is she manipulating him?“
Gadon said the compelling part of the story is the gray area of it all. She and director Mary Harron analyzed different scenarios that would make Grace guilty or not. Gadon said they have their own beliefs about what happened but do not want to influence anyone watching the series.
“The series and the book are all about the ambiguity and it’s all about the journey,” Gadon said. “Did Grace do it? Did she not do it? Do you want her to have done it? It kind of plays with all those human emotions that we all feel.”
To prepare for the role, Gadon spent time at Black Creek Pioneer Village, a working village in Ontario, Canada, that transports visitors back to the late 1700s to mid-1800s.
“I learned how to milk a cow, churn butter, start a fire and ... use a Victorian-era kitchen,” she said.
Gadon also learned to sew because Grace sews a quilt by hand as she is being interviewed by her doctor.
Another Atwood novel, “The Handmaid’s Tale,” is an Emmy-winning series on Hulu.


Rickshaw pullers fade from India’s streets

Updated 27 April 2018
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Rickshaw pullers fade from India’s streets

KOLKATA: Mohammad Maqbool Ansari puffs and sweats as he pulls his rickshaw through Kolkata’s teeming streets, a veteran of a gruelling trade long outlawed in most parts of the world and slowly fading from India too.
Kolkata is one of the last places on earth where pulled rickshaws still feature in daily life, but Ansari is among a dying breed still eking a living from this back-breaking labor.
The 62-year-old has been pulling rickshaws for nearly four decades, hauling cargo and passengers by hand in drenching monsoon rains and stifling heat that envelops India’s heaving eastern metropolis.
Their numbers are declining as pulled rickshaws are relegated to history, usurped by tuk tuks, Kolkata’s signature yellow taxis and modern conveniences like Uber.
Ansari cannot imagine life for Kolkata’s thousands of rickshaw-wallahs if the job ceased to exist.
“If we don’t do it, how will we survive? We can’t read or write. We can’t do any other work. Once you start, that’s it. This is our life,” he tells AFP.
Sweating profusely on a searing hot day, his singlet soaked and face dripping, Ansari skilfully weaves his rickshaw through crowded markets and bumper-to-bumper traffic.
Wearing simple shoes and a chequered sarong, the only real giveaway of his age is his long beard, snow white and frizzy, and a face weathered from a lifetime plying this disappearing trade.
Twenty minutes later, he stops, wiping his face on a rag. The passenger offers him a glass of water — a rare blessing — and hands a note over.
“When it’s hot, for a trip that costs 50 rupees ($0.75) I’ll ask for an extra 10 rupees. Some will give, some don’t,” he said.
“But I’m happy with being a rickshaw puller. I’m able to feed myself and my family.”