Emirati filmmaker Nayla Al-Khaja teams up with Oscar-winning composer A.R. Rahman on new movie

Emirati filmmaker Nayla Al-Khaja teams up with Oscar-winning composer A.R. Rahman on new movie
Rahman will score Al-Khaja’s upcoming feature film “Baab,” which she describes as her first “art-house” movie.
Short Url
Updated 26 May 2022

Emirati filmmaker Nayla Al-Khaja teams up with Oscar-winning composer A.R. Rahman on new movie

Emirati filmmaker Nayla Al-Khaja teams up with Oscar-winning composer A.R. Rahman on new movie
  • The Emirati filmmaker and the two-time Academy Award-winning composer will collaborate on her upcoming feature, ‘Baab’

CANNES: UAE filmmaker Nayla Al-Khaja has teamed up with the multi-award-winning Indian composer A.R. Rahman for her upcoming feature film “Baab.”

“This means the world to me, I feel like he is going to do something extremely unique and unprecedented and I need to match that with a picture, my camera language, and to be honest with my work,” Al-Khaja, herself the winner of multiple awards, told Arab News at the Cannes Film Festival this week.

Rahman — the Oscar-, BAFTA-, Golden Globe-, and Grammy-winning composer of more than 145 film scores — will score Al-Khaja’s upcoming feature film “Baab,” which she describes as her first “art-house” movie.




Al-Khaja (right) on the set of her short film 'The Shadow.' (Supplied)

Al-Khaja is widely recognized as the UAE’s first independent female filmmaker. Her previous work includes short films “The Neighbor,” “Malal,” “Animal,” and “The Shadow.” She co-wrote “Baab” with Masoud Amralla Al-Ali.

“People like her coming and laying the road for younger women is a fantastic thing to do and being a part of it is legendary,” Rahman said. “BAAB” will be his first Middle Eastern project, and he explained why he was immediately attracted to the proposed collaboration.

“For me, it feels like I’m just starting out,” he said. “It feels like it’s the first film for me, because she has a very new vision and she comes from a different place, which I have not been to before. And I always feel good about a clean piece of paper that has nothing written on it.”

The collaboration came about by chance, Al-Khaja explained, sparked by a spur-of-the-moment coincidence that led to a dream partnership.




A. R. Rahman with his two Oscars for 'Slumdog Millionaire.' (Supplied)

“The truth is, (this happened because of) Instagram,” she said. One day — having seen one of Al-Khaja’s Instagram stories in which she mentioned Rahman — her driver jokingly said to her, “Imagine if, one day, he called you.”

“He just put it out into the universe. It was just a casual remark, but two days later I got a call arranging a meeting,” Al-Khaja continued.

The pair both agree that the best collaborations often arise from such spontaneous connections.

“It was completely unplanned,” Al-Khaja said. “But I don’t want to say it was an accident. It was born out of an honest and real place.”

Rahman explained what initially drew him to the production. “I like the nuances,” he said. “There are open and unexplored parts of working with a filmmaker, which is great.”

He went on to explain his composition process: “Talking to a director, I find out the dos and don’ts — their inspiration and level of realism. I do a little bit of research to find sounds, sometimes I use them and sometimes I throw them away. Having it and discarding it is better than not having it when producing,” he said.

Al-Khaja bills the film, which — Variety has reported — follows a girl called Wahida as she investigates the mysterious death of her twin sister, as “100 percent art-house fantasy, and borderline horror.”




Both Al-Khaja and Rahman are hopeful that the film will be something special. (Supplied)

“It’s hard to define,” she said. “It’s intense. There are some creepy parts where it’s extremely uncomfortable. I don’t know that I can classify it (entirely) as a a horror movie, but we have maybe two or three scenes that are over that line. But for the most part, I’d say it’s art-house fantasy.”

One of those “uncomfortable” scenes comes towards the end of the movie, she explained, where one of the characters is hanging inches away from the ceiling.

“She’s tied by her arms and legs with a rope. The ceiling is almost touching (her face) for the whole scene, then (suddenly) one rope rips and she’s hanging there a long time and she’s breathing against the ceiling, it’s quiet and then it snaps. That’s right at the end,” Al-Khaja said.

Shooting on “BAAB” will commence in Ras Al-Khaimah in March, and both Al-Khaja and Rahman are hopeful that the film will be something special — not just in terms of storyline and performance, but with costume design, production, and music.

“We really want to push this as far as we can,” Al-Khaja said.

Decoder

Baab

Baab is an upcoming feature film by multi-awarded Emirati filmmaker Nayla Al-Khaja, in partnership with Indian composer A.R. Rahman, himself a winner of multiple awards. The film tells the story of a girl named Wahida, who investigates the mysterious death of her twin sister. Shooting on “BAAB” will start in Ras Al-Khaimah, UAE, in March.


US actress Lindsay Lohan calls Arab fiance ‘husband’ in surprise Instagram post

US actress Lindsay Lohan calls Arab fiance ‘husband’ in surprise Instagram post
Updated 03 July 2022

US actress Lindsay Lohan calls Arab fiance ‘husband’ in surprise Instagram post

US actress Lindsay Lohan calls Arab fiance ‘husband’ in surprise Instagram post

DUBAI: US actress Lindsay Lohan this week called her fiance Bader Shammas her “husband” in a heartfelt message she shared on Instagram, sparking speculation that the pair have married in secret. Fans flooded the stars account to find out more about the famously private Shammas — read on to find out just who the lucky man is.

The “Mean Girls” star, who is based in Dubai, shared a picture of her and Shammas, a financier, with her 10.9 million followers and wrote: “I am the luckiest woman in the world. You found me and knew that I wanted to find happiness and grace, all at the same time. I am stunned that you are my husband. My life and my everything. Every woman should feel like this every day,” the singer and songwriter wrote. 

Shammas, whose Instagram is on private mode, is a financier who previously worked as an associate at BNP Paribas Wealth Management up until 2017, according to Elle magazine. Educated in the US, he reportedly holds a degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of South Florida and a Bachelor of Science in Finance degree from John H. Sykes College of Business, which is connected with the University of Tampa.

 

 

The Hollywood star announced her engagement in November, posting a series of snaps that showed off her diamond engagement ring.

Lohan and Shammas were first spotted together at a music festival in Dubai shortly before the pandemic hit in 2020.

In May 2020, Lohan’s mother, Dina Lohan, spoke about Shammas, saying: “Lindsay is dating a wonderful guy right now, but that’s neither here nor there. When she’s ready to talk about her personal life, she will.”

 

 

 


Actress Naomie Harris shows off pink gown by Tony Ward at grand prix ball

Actress Naomie Harris shows off pink gown by Tony Ward at grand prix ball
Updated 02 July 2022

Actress Naomie Harris shows off pink gown by Tony Ward at grand prix ball

Actress Naomie Harris shows off pink gown by Tony Ward at grand prix ball

DUBAI: British actress Naomie Harris this week stepped out in a hot pink gown by Lebanese-Italian fashion designer Tony Ward at London’s Grand Prix Ball 2022.

The “Small Island” star turned heads in a one-shoulder chiffon draped dress that was tight at the waist with a subtle cut-out bust. It featured a long train and a thigh-high slit.

The ball is an annual charity gala held in the lead-up to the British Grand Prix in support of the charitable organization the Prince’s Trust.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by TONY WARD (@tonywardcouture)

For her jewelry, Harris, who started her career by appearing in the 1987 TV series “Simon and the Witch,” opted for sparkly Swarovski hoop earrings and a simple glitzy bracelet.

Her dark hair was styled in raven braids, and the actress kept her makeup simple with a neutral lip and blushed cheeks.

Ward’s clientele list includes Chrissy Teigen, Lori Harvey, Sharon Stone, Bella Thorne Naomi Campbell, who wear the designer’s pieces to events such as the Oscars, the Grammy and the Critics Choice Awards.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by TONY WARD (@tonywardcouture)

In May, Ward dressed a number of stars on the red carpet of the Cannes Film Festival, including  Indian actress Urvashi Rautela, US-Indian actress and social media star Liza Koshy, Danish model Josephine Skriver, US model Jasmine Tookes, German blogger Leonie Hanne, US-Somali actress Sabrina Dhowre Elba, Belgian model Rose Bertram and TikTok star Jessica Wang.

Last week, US singer and songwriter Mary J. Blige wore a two-piece white gown by the part-Arab designer to the BET awards in Los Angeles.

The couturier, who has worked with such high-profile designers as Gianfranco Ferre for Dior and the late Karl Lagerfeld for Chloe, will unveil its fall/winter 2023 collection during Paris Haute Couture Week on July 4.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by TONY WARD (@tonywardcouture)

Meanwhile, Harris’ most recent work is “The Man Who Fell to Earth.” She stars in the sci-fi show, released in April, alongside actors Chiwetel Ejiofar, Sonya Cassidy and Jimmi Simpson.

Harris, whose father is from Trinidad and mother from Jamaica, has won multiple honors from the Critics’ Choice Movie Awards, Hollywood Film Awards, and the Independent Spirit Awards.

In 2017, she was nominated for best performance by an actress in a supporting role award in the 2017 Oscars for her part in “Moonlight.”


Lebanese singer Nancy Ajram teases collaboration with US DJ Marshmello

Lebanese singer Nancy Ajram teases collaboration with US DJ Marshmello
Updated 02 July 2022

Lebanese singer Nancy Ajram teases collaboration with US DJ Marshmello

Lebanese singer Nancy Ajram teases collaboration with US DJ Marshmello

DUBAI: Lebanese singer Nancy Ajram this week teased an upcoming collaboration with US music producer Marshmello.

The superstar took to Instagram to share a picture of herself with the DJ, who was in his usual custom white helmet resembling a marshmello, in a recoding studio.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Nancy Ajram (@nancyajram)

Ajram captioned the post: “Sah Sah,” meaning “true true” in English. This hints that this could possibly be the title of the duo’s new song.

Marshmello shared a short clip on Instagram of him playing the stringed qanun instrument. His post was also captioned “Sah Sah.”

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by marshmello (@marshmello)

Ajram shared Marshmello’s reel and wrote to her 33 million followers: “Soon.”

Fans quickly responded to the stars’ posts and expressed their excitement for the new track.

“What a collab,” wrote one fan on Instagram, while another said: “Can’t wait!”


NYU Abu Dhabi Gallery to host first-of-its-kind show on Gulf modern art 

NYU Abu Dhabi Gallery to host first-of-its-kind show on Gulf modern art 
Updated 02 July 2022

NYU Abu Dhabi Gallery to host first-of-its-kind show on Gulf modern art 

NYU Abu Dhabi Gallery to host first-of-its-kind show on Gulf modern art 

DUBAI: The NYU Abu Dhabi Art Gallery is set to stage an exhibition documenting modern art movements in the Arabian Peninsula in September. 

Widely regarded as a first-of-its-kind show, the exhibition is titled “Khaleej Modern: Pioneers and Collectives in the Arabian Peninsula, 1941-2008” and will run from Sept. 6-Dec. 11. 

Hassan Sharif, ‘Bakh Bakh,’ 1985. (Supplied)

Curated by Aisha Stoby, who helmed the inaugural Oman Pavilion at this year’s Venice Biennale, the show is a historical survey of twentieth century modern art movements across the Arabian Peninsula, collectively known in Arabic as the “Khaleej.”

The show will introduce modern audiences to the collectives that sprang up in the 20th and 21st centuries, including Kuwait’s Al-Mubarakiya School, which has been active since 1941, and Saudi artists Mohammed Racim (1911-1974), Mounirah Mosly, Safeya Binzagr, Abdulhalim Al-Radwi and Abdullah Al-Shaikh. The show also features work by Mohammed Al-Saleem and Abdulrahman Alsoliman from The Saudi House of Fine Arts in Riyadh.

By the 1950s, Bahrainʼs Manama Group had formed, with the following two decades seeing the emergence of Qatar’s The Three Friends collective and the UAE’s Group of Five, in addition to pioneering solo artists — all of which will be represented during the upcoming showcase. 

Ibrahim Ismail, ‘Building of Ships,’ 1966. (Supplied)

“An exhibition like this is quite rare, a kind of opening salvo and call to action, offering new vistas on art history and art practice in this region Executive Director of The NYUAD Art Gallery Maya Allison said in a released statement. “Rather than a definitive survey, this project sets us on a journey to explore the under-studied — and, for some people, unknown — emergence of modern art in the Arabian Peninsula over the last century. It is a profound honor that Dr. Stoby will present her original research with us, in this exhibition that was many years in the making. I thank her for partnering with us for this crucial, pathbreaking project.”

For her part, curator Stoby noted that “many of the works in this exhibition will be on view for the first time in decades… enhanced by the presence of rare and archival material, ‘Khaleej Modern’ creates a space and offers resources for learning and re-understanding our own histories. More broadly, we hope the exhibition will contribute to wider regional and global understandings of modern visual art.”


What We Are Reading Today: Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

What We Are Reading Today: Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
Updated 01 July 2022

What We Are Reading Today: Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

What We Are Reading Today: Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

“Anna Karenina” by Leo Tolstoy is widely regarded as one of history’s greatest works of literature. 
The novel, first published as a complete work in 1878, is centered around a love affair between Anna and Vronsky, a Russian military officer, with the book’s characters highlighting the conflict between socially accepted norms and human desire.  
Despite being married to Alexie Karenin, Anna has a scandalous affair with Vronsky and moves to Moscow with him. There they live together as a married couple. 
When he finds out about the affair, Anna’s husband gives her an ultimatum: Leave Vronsky and keep the family’s reputation intact — or never see her son again. 
Tolstoy is still revered as one of history’s greatest authors. 
Born to an aristocratic Russian family in 1828, he was a master of realist fiction, and produced plays, essays and short stories. 
His most famous works include “War and Peace,” “Resurrection,” “The Death of Ivan Ilyich” and “The Kingdom of God is Within You.” 
Tolstoy received nominations for the Nobel Prize in Literature every year from 1902 to 1906, and for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1901, 1902, and 1909.