Chris Pratt talks ‘The Lego Movie 2’ and his desire to see Dubai

Chris Pratt has taken on a number of roles in blockbuster films since his ascent to stardom. (Image supplied)
Updated 10 February 2019

Chris Pratt talks ‘The Lego Movie 2’ and his desire to see Dubai

DUBAI: Chris Pratt has taken on a number of roles in blockbuster films since his ascent from scene-stealing sitcom cast-member to one of Hollywood’s biggest stars, but none may have been a better fit than Emmet in “The Lego Movie” series. After all, no other star has the boyish enthusiasm that Pratt has— and no star is easier to imagine playing with Lego on a lazy Saturday afternoon.
“Is there a Lego store in Dubai?” Pratt asks Arab News. “I want to go! I want to go to Dubai so bad! I heard it’s amazing and I want to see it.”
In the sequel to the acclaimed 2015 hit, Emmet remains as happy-go-lucky as ever — similar to the persona Pratt has built for himself. When Arab News compliments the watch Pratt his wearing, Pratt bashfully inspects it.
“Oh thanks, it’s from a company called ‘Cartler’,” Pratt says, seemingly unfamiliar with his own Cartier watch.
Pratt works double duty this time around, also taking on the role of Rex Dangervest — a scruffy chiseled action hero who rides a spaceship populated with dinosaurs. The character, a lampoon of Pratt’s own big-screen transformation over the years in such films as “Guardians of the Galaxy” and “Jurassic World,” is an idea Pratt supported from the start.
“That wasn’t a thing that I read and was surprised by. They called and told me what some of their intentions were and I told them to go forward and do as much of that as they wanted to. I was happy to have that portion of my career be a muse for Rex Dangervest and I thought that it really works and is really funny,” Pratt says.
While the first film focuses mainly on a young boy and his relationship with his favorite toys, the sequel puts its focus much more on the boy’s younger sister and her Lego toys, dubbed “The Systar System” in the film, and the difficulty the two have in playing together.
“I think they put in a lot of extensive research into how kids play with Lego, and they found some data that says that girls do play slightly differently than boys. They explore that without making it too on the nose. I thought it was really nuanced and thoughtful,” Pratt says.

With Saudi roots and an Indian heart, Al-Kazi is an act the stage will never forget

Updated 21 February 2019

With Saudi roots and an Indian heart, Al-Kazi is an act the stage will never forget

  • Though an icon in India, few people know about Al-Kazi’s Saudi roots

JEDDAH: India has always been a hub of art and culture. Over the last century, movies emerged as the most expressive cultural medium, and the Indian film industry — commonly known as Bollywood — has since become a powerhouse of world cinema.

One can never do its history justice without mentioning Ebrahim Al-Kazi.

A renowned director and drama teacher, he worked as the director of the prestigious New Delhi-based National School of Drama (NSD) from 1962 to 1977, teaching many well-known future actors and fellow directors, including Om Puri, Naseeruddin Shah and Rohini Hattangadi. He also founded the Art Heritage Gallery in New Delhi.

Though an Indian icon, however, few people know about Al-Kazi’s Saudi roots. His father, Hamad bin Ali Al-Kazi, was a trader from Unaiza in the Kingdom’s Qassim region, who subsequently settled in Pune, India, where Ebrahim was born in 1925. 

Early on in his career, Al-Kazi worked with the Bombay Progressive Artists Group, which included M.F. Husain, F.N. Souza, S.H. Raza, Akbar Padamsee and Tyeb Mehta, who would all later contribute to the design of his sets.

He worked in India, the US and Europe before becoming the director of the NSD, and later of the Asian Theater Institute, and is credited with staging more than 50 plays in his lifetime. He also contributes to the preservation of Indian cultural history through his Al-Kazi Foundation for the Arts.

In February 2015, Al-Kazi was honored at the second Saudi Film Festival in Dammam. He was later quoted in Arab media sources on his Saudi upbringing: “Our father was a firm believer in our cultural roots that went back to Saudi Arabia, and we spoke only Arabic at home. We had a teacher of Arabic and Islamic studies who came from Saudi Arabia, and lived as part of our family.

“Arab families (in India) did not mix very much with others, but my father had close ties with people other than Arabs,” he added.

Al-Kazi has also won many prestigious Indian awards. He was the first recipient of Roopwedh Pratishthan’s Tanvir Award in 2004 for his contribution to Indian theater, and in 1966 received the Padma Shri award. He won the Padma Bhushan award in 1991, and was given India’s second highest civilian award, the Padma Vibhushan, in 2010.