Six years ago, Sarath Babu, a thirdgeneration entrepreneur from Hyderabad chanced upon a 700-year-old log of teakwood in Myanmar. Being in the teak business for nearly four decades, he had an eye for the best logs which are usually repurposed for mega yachts sold to the super-rich of the West. “I saw a single piece of wood that weighed more than seven tons and was over 20 feet long. I thought to myself that I needed to ensure this piece is saved, as future generations would not be able to see such magnificent logs anymore,” he recalls.

What followed was one-and-a-half years of intense negotiations. The Myanmar government passed a rule banning the export of big logs, and Babu appealed to their parliament, and eventually got the permission to import the log to India as an exception, as he wanted to transform reclining position under the hood of the divine snake, Sheshnag, with 84 deities paying tribute to the God. It portrays his divinity as depicted in the sixth shloka from the 11th adhyaya of the Gita, which shows the deity at his calmest. Gowd, who is famous in the Telugu states for his interpretation of Indian mythology says that he worked on the sketches for almost five years. “The minute I saw the log, I noticed there was a natural dip in the middle which lent itself to the reclining posture of Vishnu.”

An American billionaire too had his eye on the log, but Covid gave Babu the opportunity to win the bid. He reached out to artist Giridhar Gowd to create a sketch for the log with only one stipulation: that it should be an interpretation of Indian mythology. An easy ask as Gowd is reputed for his fantastic recreations from the lexicon of Indian Gods.

In the meantime, Babu hired a team of sculptors who started the initial carving of the log in Myanmar. He says, “I made countless trips to the country, and monitored them on CCTV cameras to ensure that the work was started. Wood is the toughest medium to work on as it is extremely sensitive and once chipped off, it cannot be reworked.”

Babu, who works extensively on traditional carving, put his heart into the project. “People questioned me why I was doing it, as it cost years of work and efforts. The answer is that I believe God himself has willed this. We went to Ramappa Temple in Warangal to study the style of temple jewelry so we could make it authentically. We had to follow traditional crafts even for sanding so that no marks were visible,” he states.

The sculpture itself is spell-binding. Vishnu is in a sleeping postion without his weapons (Sudarshana and Kaumodaki) while 84 gods and goddesses pay obeisance to him. Every aspect of the sculpture, from the scales of the coiled snake to the folds of the dhoti and the stalks and petals of the lotus appear real, with craftsmanship that borders on virtuosity.

Gowd created four designs and the

Babu is now a satisfied man. “I have no plans of selling this. I only want to ensure

NICKNAMED LORD OF THE LOGS, THIS WOODEN ARTEFACT OF LORD VISHNU has an interesting story that is as exciting as the sculpture itself


Movies in cinemas this month


A year remains incomplete without a Rajinikanth release. Nelson writes and directs this bigbudget action comedy about a jailer who learns of a gang’s plan to rescue their leader from prison. The film has a stunner supporting cast inclusive of Jackie Shroff, Shiva Rajkumar, Ramya Krishnan, Sunil, Nagendra Babu, Yogi Babu, Tamannah and the legendary Mohanlal. Mounted on a budget of Rs 200 crores, the film is the movie event of the year.

Date: 10th August

Location: The cinemas

Bhola Shankar

Megastar Chiranjeevi returns to the big-screen after delivering his first major hit in the form of Waltair Veerayya in January. Co-starring Keerthy Suresh and Tamannah, the film is an official remake of the 2015 Tamil hit Vedalam starring Ajith Kumar, Lakshmi Menon and Shruti Hassan. The film revolves around a taxi driver and his sister who arrive in Kolkata to focus on the latter’s education. Meher Ramesh returns behind the camera after a decade-long hiatus post Shadow and Shakti

Date: 11th August

Location: The cinemas

Omg 2

The sequel to the 2012 sleeper blockbuster, Akshay Kumar stars in the role of Lord Shiva, this time in a tale about a devotee who seeks redemption. The protagonist is portrayed by Pankaj Tripathi, while the script is written and directed by Marathi filmmaker Amit Rai. The film is a production by Kumar, Vipul D. Shah, Rajesh Bahl and Ashwin Varde. Yami Gautam and Govind Namdev co-star as well.

Date: 11th August Location: The cinemas

Gadar 2

Anil Sharma – one of India’s underrated filmmakers, returns with the sequel to one of the biggest blockbusters of Indian cinema. Sunny Deol, Ameesha Patel and Utkarsh Sharma reunite, as Tara Singh returns to Lahore amidst an anti-India campaign called ‘Crush India’, to bring his son back to India. Sharma brings back the greats from his previous films including writer Shaktimaan Talwar and cinematographer Najeeb Khan. Made with a budget of Rs 100 crores, the film marks the return of the lead pair on the silver screen after a long hiatus.

Date: 11th August Location: The cinemas


A remake of the Spanish blockbuster El desconocido, the American adaptation stars Liam Neeson in the lead as a financier who is threatened by a mysterious bomber which puts his and his children’s lives in danger. Directed by Nimród Antal best known for the 2010 sequel Predators, this film finds Neeson back as a hard-knuckled protagonist willing to do whatever it takes to keep his family safe.

Date: 25th August Location: The cinemas

Heart of Stone

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem

A TMNT film is always an event to watch out for. After Michael Bay delivered two hilarious live-action adaptations, Seth Rogen gets his hands on the legendary brothers and gives it an animated paint across the board along with a fresh take on the origin story. The film has been directed by Jeff Rowe while Rogen writes, produces and provides his voice for Bebop and bringing in Jackie Chan to finally voice Master Splinter. Oh, and there’s John Cena as Rocksteady and Ice Cube as Superfly and Paul Rudd as Mondo Gecko – quite a cast right there. Get ready for some turtle power.

Date: 2nd August Location: The cinemas

Maya Bazaar for Sale

Produced by Rana Daggubati and directed by Gautami Challgulla, the series stars Navdeep, Eesha Rebba, Meiyang Chang, Naresh and Kota Srinivasa Rao. The plot revolves around an upmarket community in Hyderabad and its residents whose peaceful life gets disturbed when the government announces that their construction is illegal. Filled with top-notch performances and stellar production values, the series hits home with its relatable content and humor.

Date: 14th July Location: Zee5

Only Murders in the Building Season 3

Alia Bhatt and Gal Gadot star in this bigbudget Netflix produced action thriller about an international intelligence agent who is on the run to keep a mysterious object safe from falling into the wrong hands. While Gadot portrays the protagonist, Bhatt is the antagonist in this $130 million motion picture. The film is directed by Tom Harper who is known for his work on Peaky Blinders and the underrated The Aeronauts. It is going to be a long weekend of bingewatching on Independence Day.

Date: 11th August Location: Netflix

The classic TV series starring the unlikely trio of Steve Martin, Martin Short and Selena Gomez, adds another legend to the roster in the form of Meryl Streep. The new season will continue to provide more of the crackling chemistry between the podcasters while placing them in the middle of not one or two but three murders. A bucket of popcorn is all that is needed.

Date: 8th August Location: Disney+ Hotstar

Gaayam (1993)

Released 30 years ago on 22nd April, this pathbreaking motion picture cemented Ram Gopal Varma as a visionary filmmaker and catapulted Jagapathi Babu into superstar status. Inspired by The Godfather, Varma spins a complex tale around the 1980’s Vijayawada gang warfare which remains a vivid memory in the minds of the people of the two Telugu states. The story was written by Varma in collaboration with Mani Ratnam with a screenplay by Varma and dialogues by Posani Murali Krishna. The film was one of the highest grossers of the year, winning six Nandi Awards – including Best Villain for Kota Srinivasa Rao and Best Supporting Actress for Urmila Matondkar. It remains a cult classic three decades on and is a reminder of Varma’s exceptional talents as a writer and director. n

Billie Eilish’s Self-Directed Video

Billie Eilish, the chart-topping pop sensation, has captivated fans once again with the release of the mesmerizing self-directed video for her melancholic Barbie-inspired track, What Was I Made For? This visually stunning production showcases her creative vision, as the video opens with Eilish sitting at a desk, donning a Barbie-esque wig, and surrounded by doll-sized costumes. As the song unfolds she pulls out miniature outfits, each representing a different aspect of her identity. The symbolism is profound, reflecting Eilish’s exploration of her own existence and purpose.

PinkPantheress’ Latest Collaboration

In a sensational turn of events, PinkPantheress, the rising star of the music industry, has collaborated with Destroy Lonely for Turn Your Phone Off. Fresh off the success of her remix of Boy›s A Liar Pt.2 with Ice Spice, she continues to captivate listeners with her unique sound and heartfelt storytelling. Turn Your Phone Off takes us on a journey through the tumultuous emotions of an unwanted caller and ex-lover. This new song has already made waves in the music industry, captivating fans and critics.

Taylor Swift’s Speak Now Tops the Charts

Taylor Swift continues to assert her dominance in the music industry. The release of her highly anticipated re-recorded album Speak Now (Taylor’s version), has taken the music world by storm, shattering numerous records. The album bagged the No.1 position on the UK albums chart, facing minimal competition.

The singer said that the album is completely self-written, done when she was 18-20 years old. Her songs are relatable to a large audience and each song a story that is related to every moment in her life.

From Pyramids to Briefcases

Get ready to buckle up and hold on tight as Travis Scott takes us on a rollercoaster ride with his highly anticipated fourth solo studio album Utopia. The enigmatic rapper and pop sensation has never been one to shy away from a grand spectacle, and his latest project is no exception.

One of the standout elements of the Utopia rollout was the performance at the pyramids of Giza on July 28th. Scott also revealed that Utopia will feature five distinct covers for the album. Each cover represents a different facet of the project, offering fans a glimpse into the multifaceted world that he has created.

Dominic Fike unveils Sunburn

Dominic Fike’s musical odyssey has been nothing short of remarkable, and his latest album, Sunburn, takes us on a beautiful journey through his unique aesthetic. Fike’s path to success has been thrilling as one of the dramas he has starred in. With Sunburn, Fike crafts a musical memoir that delves into his life’s moments, effortlessly transcending genres and captivating listeners along the way. Through his music, Fike finds solace in his roots, returning to the relentless humidity of his upbringing and ultimately, rediscovering himself.


Smoke And Ashes

Amitav Ghosh


Edited by N. Venugopal and Meena Kandasamy

Selected works of Varavara Rao, one of the biggest names in modern Telugu poetry, have been translated into English for the first time. It has been edited by literary critic N. Venugopal and activist and poet Meena Kandasamy. The book is a mix of works curated from 16 books that have been published in Telugu and speak of his association with various movements of social change from over half a century.


Sarbpreet Singh

In 1801, the young scion of a small fiefdom in Punjab was invested with the title of Maharaja of Punjab. The young man, whose name was Ranjit Singh, went on to carve out a kingdom for himself that stretched from the borders of Afghanistan in the west to the boundaries of the British Raj in the east. The Camel Merchant of Philadelphia is an examination of Ranjit Singh and his times that focuses on a wide array of characters that populated his court.

Ghosh‘s new book is part memoir-part travelogue, and explores how the opium poppy plant has contributed to what he calls ‘the current unmaking of our world’. Drawn on research that Ghosh accumulated over several years, this is an interesting book, packed with historical details.

The Peacemakers

Edited by Ghazala Wahab

India, the land of peace and the birthplace of icons of nonviolence such as the Buddha and Mahatma Gandhi, has been riven by violence and conflict throughout its history. However, even as horrific incidents of violence continue to plague the nation, there have always been those who have dared to stand up against the powerful and protect those under attack. This book profiles some of these extraordinary individuals who acted in dire times.

The Greatest Indian Stories Ever Told

Edited by Arunava Sinha

This is a selection of short fiction by Indian writers since the genre came into being in the country in the late 19th century. Including early masters of the form, contemporary stars, as well as writers who came of age in the 21st century, this anthology takes in its sweep, stories from the various regions, languages, and literatures of India.


Heal-a-Child Foundation

A novel fundraiser for the Heal-A-child Foundation’s efforts to raise money for underprivileged kids, this book edited by our very own Ratna Rao Shekar profiles 31 movers and shakers of the city. From hospitality and education to design and social enterprises, it charts the rarely heard stories of entrepreneurs in the city who push boundaries. The full length profile photos and in-depth profiles definitely make it an unique documentation of the city’s businesses.


Pizzas and pizzaz

July 7, Dough Mama

Swathi Reddy Gunupati of Dough Mama played a gracious hostess at the first anniversary party of her pizza place. Guests gorged on their flavor-infused pizza crusts and spirited drinks, standing underneath an overcast sky and fairy lights. The yellow props of the quaint bistro added a fun element to the monsoon evening.

Gin up

July 10, Kembara


Entrepreneur, Shilpa Datla set the bar high as she roped in the gin brand, Stranger & Sons at Kembara, the pan-Asian restaurant at Knowledge City. The signature cocktails with gin charged up the conversations as the guests raised their glasses for the curated Oriental expedition.


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