Upward Facing Dog
Upward Facing Dog
As featured on punjab2000.com
Amrit catches up with Chandeep Uppal, Anita and Me star that played the lead character in Meera Syal’s film adaptation in 2002.
The 25-year-old tells Amrit all about how her career kicked off as an actor from the young age of 13, after she begged and pleaded her mum to take her to the casting call for Anita and Me. Uppal enjoyed drama and was encouraged by her teacher at Arthur Terry School in Sutton Coldfield to audition. Uppal remembers the wondrous casting director Jina Jay, known for Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban, Atonement, The Others and so on coming to her school to tell her about her audition along with Shaheen Baig of The Others and Brick Lane.
The Birmingham born and bred thespian has always stayed true to her Brummie roots as she realised the expense to stay in London could not be covered by a 9-5 job while chasing the actor’s dream.
Working alongside Meera Syal and Sanjeev Bhaskar, which started from the 8-week filming of Anita and Meallowed Uppal to be exposed to their pride in heritage. To Uppal, heritage means what her predecessors have achieved and where she comes from. She believes in the saying “you don’t know where you’re going until you know where you’re from”.
Uppal’s doorway to the acting world was opened with Anita and Me on to other performances in BAFTA winningMy Life as a Prop Act, Holby City and Waterloo Road to name a few. In 2013 Uppal worked alongside James Corden and Matthew Baynton in The Wrong Man and also appeared in Mount Pleasant.
Here’s more on Amrit’s exclusive interview with the star who played Meena of Anita and Me…
1. You were just 13 when you got the role! So, how old were you when you first began acting?
Anita and Me was my first acting job. Before doing it I hadn’t got any acting experience but I would say that I took it on ‘professionally’ when I was 18.
2. What was the reaction of your friends and family during this time?
I actually got told I had the part during the school holidays so I wasn’t at school to share it with everyone, but my family were really excited. I don’t think you ever really imagine that you or someone close to you will get a chance like that, so it was amazing. Also we were such huge fans of Goodness Gracious Me, so getting the chance to work with and learn from Sanjeev and Meera was more than I could ask for.
3.Filming Anita and Me you got to work with some amazing names in the industry. Tell me what it was like working with the likes of the novel writer Meera Syal herself, Sanjeev Bhaskar and of course the late Zohra Sehgal.
Meera is such an intelligent woman and although I didn’t necessarily understand it at the time, the story is so close to her heart that her passion for it was unmistakeable. She was always there on set with us to contextualise what was going on and to support us. I think that both her and Sanj have championed the fact that comedy with Asian characters isn’t just for Asian people, but also that your heritage is a huge part of you. And they’ve never pretended to be anything other than what they are.
And of course it was an honour to have worked with Zohra. I’m sure that anyone who has worked with her will agree that her energy is unreal. It was really funny because between takes she would sit down peacefully and quietly, then when the camera was rolling before you knew it she was pulling out this great big Kirpan with all of her might!
4. The Kirpan scene is no doubt one of my favourite scenes from the film, but on a serious note her role in the film played a significant part to Meena at that transitional time in her life. Is there anything that you took on board from this?
Zohra was actually only on set for a few days, but I remember Meera telling me how much her Dadima (grandma) meant to her. And at that age children do feel the difference in generations between their parents. Parents always tend to nag and moan, they’re not fun but in the film it was important for me as Meena to see the free spirit in Zohra. Now, I can see that I was too young to understand at the time but in hindsight I can fully relate to it.
5. Since the film, what doors did that open up for your career?
The main thing that it did for me professionally was allow me to get an agent. It’s really difficult to pursue an acting career and get auditions without one. But personally it taught me a lot about discipline and how to behave in the workplace. Everyone on set from Meera to Kathy Burke to Lyn Redrgrave was so professional. They always respected the crew, were never late and knew their lines. This was a great example to me as a new, young actress.
6. I understand that you didn’t study to become an actor in terms of the traditional footsteps of university. What advice do you have for young people facing the expectation of going to university?
I would say if you are going to give those three years of your life to university make sure that you’re not just doing it because ‘that’s the done thing’. Do it because you are going to study something that you love. It doesn’t matter if you come out of university and do something that is totally unrelated to your degree because nobody expects you at the age of 18, to know what you want to do for the rest of your life. Make the choice that is right for you at that time, but know that what is right for you will always change. So, if when you’re 30 you decide that it is right for you to embark on a journey of education again, that’s ok. I didn’t go to university because it wasn’t right for me. I really didn’t want to sit in a lecture hall and have to write essays. I just didn’t have the passion for it. I wanted to work because that’s what I was and still am passionate about. I’ve always wanted to create my own life and for me university couldn’t give me the freedom of choice I’m always looking for.
7. Who is your inspiration and who would you most like to work with, and why?
My inspiration is and always will be my grandfather. I always work to continue the hard work that he started (if I can!). At the moment I’d love to work with Lenny Henry because I think that the work he is doing to campaign for ethnic diversity within the entertainment industry is brilliant. He makes great points about diversity not just being what you see on screen but that it’s to do with commissioners, directors, writers, producers – everyone. I think that it’s really important the media register the impact of the lack of diversity on public attitudes. I think they need to take more responsibility with whose working behind the scenes to properly portray modern life on our screens.
Quick fire questions:
Chocolate or Vanilla? Vanilla
Heels or Flats? Flats
Tea or Coffee? Tea
Cats or Dogs? Dogs – I have a King Charles called Buddy
Breakfast or Dinner? Breakfast
PC or MAC? MAC
Sweet or Savoury? Sweet
Scone or ‘Scon’? Scone
Shower or Bath? Bath
Mum or Dad? Always a daddy’s girl!
As featured on punjab2000.com
Sehgal began her career in 1935 with Uday Shankar performing internationally in countries in America and Japan. Her career stretched over 60 years entertaining Indian and non-Indian audiences with performances on stage and film.
Sehgal’s film appearances include top films such as Saawariya, English-speaking films such as Bend it Like Beckham, Anita and Me and Bhaji on The Beach to name a few, and earlier films like Neecha Naga. At 90-years-old Sehgal was given the lead role in Chalo Ishq Ladaaye. She also acted in the British television series Doctor Who from 1964-1965, rumouring to be the longest-living actress to have appeared on the show. The extraordinary actress was awarded India’s second highest civilian award, Padma Vibhushan, in 2010, other awards including Padma Shri in 1998, Kalidas Samman in 2001, and the Sangeet Natak Akademi in 2004.
This empowering female figure inspired lives of many Asian women as she pursued her dream career in acting opposed to following the traditional steps into marriage.
The individual’s comic and light-hearted nature shone through her performances and leave behind a legacy of her incredible energy. Punjab2000 pays tribute to a legend of Indian cinema as Amrit comments, “What an influential woman to have achieved so much in age of the Purdah. A true inspiration who changed the view of women in the creative industry.”
As featured by punjab2000.com
Wireless Festival was bigger and better this year as 2014 was hit by double the excitement in both London and Birmingham.
International superstars from Kanye West, Pharrell Williams, Iggy Azalea, Basement Jaxx, Bruno Mars, Salt-n-Pepa, Naughty Boy and Ella Eyre to name a few performed at both locations as the festival went ahead as expected, despite the major hip-hop act Drake who cancelled last minute due to illness.
Drake announced in a statement, “I got sick a few days ago and although I am on my way to bouncing back, my doctors have made it clear that I am not physically fit to fly or deliver the performance my fans expect and deserve from me. I will be focused on resting for a quick recovery. I have the best fans in the world and I can’t wait to come back to make more incredible memories together.”
Drake thanked “Ye” (Kanye) for filling in for him at the London show and playing Trophies, while he apologised once again to his fans who he loves “dearly”.
Kanye had other plans with his stage time as he took over with a 20 minute rant about his creative ventures and how the media perceive him. Fans booed Kanye, who wore a jewelled mask and shouted “off, off, off”, also chanting “we want Drake”. Kanye’s diva moment was rectified by his energetic performances, including the formation of the mosh pit that erupted on Sunday at the Birmingham show to ‘Blood On The Leaves’. Amrit says “it was amazing to see how the sea of people transformed from a pool of waves to one big tidal wave circulating the middle of the crowd!”
The weather held through with light showers. The sunshine definitely set the vibes of summer off. Decadent outfits and head gear filled Wireless with scenes of colour, vibrancy and reflected the lively atmosphere.
Pharrell greeted the crowds with his signature sheriff hat while Iggy Azalea sported a black and white two-piece showing off her sensuous curves and tucked in waist. Basement Jaxx occupied the stage with a rainbow of feathers and hairstyles. Fashion-fuelled festival goers rocked denim collaborations with kimonos, vest tops, shorts and patterned prints.
Birmingham’s exclusive performances by Kid Ink, Meridian Dan, Etta Bond and Tori Kelly with a surprise appearance from Professor Green were missed by Londoners. The city’s new festival proved a success with rumoured £1 million revenue per day of the weekend for Birmingham.
As featured on Punjab2000.com
Local charity organisation, Sikh Union Coventry host the official opening of their new up and running community centre, Daimler Green with Lord Mayor of Coventry on Sunday 20 July 2014.
The Sikh Union originally started out as a hockey club in the late 60’s as the arrival of Asians from East Africa in Britain began to grow along with their passion for the field sport. In 1980 the club affiliated with the Hockey Association and began to play League Hockey. Since then the club has been recognised as an established sports club who run a youth programme for young players, support charitable causes and run the Daimler Green Community Centre.
The free event will be taking place 20 July from 10am to 4pm at the Daimler Green, Highley Drive, Coventry, CV6 3LR. Activities will be taking place throughout the day including football, hockey, cricket, Martial Arts, go-karting and the all-crowd-pleasing tug-of-war.
“The theme of the day has quite quickly become sports related which compliments the nature of Daimler Green and follows in the footsteps of the Sikh Union annual Sports day, that recently took place in May celebrating the Sikh festival of Vaisakhi. We are confident that with the popular take-off of our classes and activities at the centre, the community will enjoy a fun filled day where taster sessions and activities will be available.” – Bali Dhanjal, Sikh Union.
Sikh Union manage many other projects including the Eye Camp which started in 2009, Water Hole projects in Africa and providing for needy orphanages in India. The first camp was in Phillaur and has been held every year since in various locations within Punjab. With the joint efforts of the community in Coventry and surrounding communities such as Birmingham and Northampton, the Sikh Union raised the total sum of money to run two Eye Camps this year in Nurmahal and Jalandhar.
Amrit had the honour along with many other volunteers to observe the fantastic work carried out by Dr Jacob and his team at Ruby Nelson Memorial Hospital in Jalandhar. Read Amrit’s experience of charity at first hand…
In April 2013, with the aid of Northampton Punjabi Association, founded by Amrit and her father Pummie Matharu, over £1000 was raised for the Eye Camp appeal at their very first charity function.
The Eye Camp was hosted for the first time in Nurmahal at Baba Vishkarma Mandir. Over 500 people were present and screened for medical checks. People received eye examinations, blood pressure and sight tests, with a total of 93 people who were discovered with the need for cataract operations and 250 people were given glasses. The following camp was held on Sunday 16March in Jalandhar in the Lodge Devon grounds where over 700 people were taken care of. 160 persons received cataract operations at the Ruby Nelson Memorial Hospital by Dr Jacob and his medical team.
During both days of the Eye Camp, Amrit witnessed people of all ages suffering with eye problems, from young children to the elderly. One case in particular “struck my heart” commented Amrit, “as young Sukhpreet was born blind was sadly told by doctors that she will never get her sight back”. At the innocent age of seven-years-old, Sukhpreet could only prescribed with medicines to maintain her health as her father from Natha, half an hour from Nurmahal told Amrit that she will eventually end up in a home for the blind.
The level of poverty that these patients live in is explained by Amrit as unreal. 65-year-old crippled Maya Devi was brought to the camp by her daughter and son-in-law as they ushered her to the nearest seat. “She could hardly stand. Her family had to physically carry her she was so frail.” Amrit spoke to Surinder Kaur, who explained she only knew that her age is 60-something years old. “I noticed a rag tied to her left arm, when I asked her what it was for, she told me the aches and pains in her bones are so painful she can’t even lift her arm.” Not only is medical care so limited in some villages, but the level of sanitation is so poor that the doctor explained, the ‘shaa-shaa’ muffling she hears in her ears is due to lack of hygiene. Surinder Kaur was prescribed drops to clan her ears and medicine for the pain in her bones. Due to the poor sanitation conditions, the majority of the eye patients are kept overnight and thoroughly looked after to allow the wound to heal. They are also provided with the relevant aftercare.
As well as general health care and cataracts, many other medical problems were discovered including a squint in the eye of young children. A common occurrence seen in children at both camps was a case of crossed eyes. The first case seen of this was in young Jyoti who was only 5-years-old from Nurmahal brought up by her single mother. Another Jyoti, 13, who was seen at the Jalandhar camp, from Sansaarpur also had a squint and received an operation on Tuesday 18 March. The operation involved more technical procedures and adjustment of the nerves surrounding the eye which is generally more responsive in younger children. Gurjent, 18, from Bhaania near Khadoor Sahib was a key priority to be operated on as we were keen to prevent any further damage occurring to his eyes.
“It was an overwhelming feeling to be a part of the Eye Camp and know that your input has helped benefit someone with the gift of sight. Furthermore these rewarding emotions really hit home when we were given the opportunity to observe Dr Jacob live in surgery” said Amrit. Dr Jacob performed each cataract under an outstanding two minutes per eye!
Seeing the vital need for eye care in India is literally an eye opener. “We come from a world in the UK where eye care isn’t even questioned. It’s so readily available to us whereas in India, their access is so limited due to poverty. I wear glasses myself, and seeing how people here are begging for glasses compared to where we have the luxury of being able to choose our fancy designer frames is a massive reality check. These are people who wouldn’t even care if they are given a Gucci frame from a Specsavers frame – the value is in the gift of sight itself. The message I would like to spread is that we should appreciate how lucky we are to be healthy and have such facilities available to us. Being part of the Eye Camp has given me a chance to be thankful for this and help someone less fortunate.”
Having grown up in the small market town of Northampton with the absence of Asian friends, Amrit finds herself fascinated with topics and ideas within the Asian culture, especially those that are not necessarily explored so openly. In 2013 Amrit completed her degree in English Language and English Literature at De Montfort University whereby she produced an academic thesis on the exploration of the British-Asian female in novels by Nisha Minhas. Since university her passion for such topics have centralised around the wider British-Asian ideologies that articulate through tradition and culture.
Amrit addressed her enthusiasm for the Indian culture and became an active member of Sikh Union Coventry, a charitable organisation who manages local and international projects for those in need. Alongside attending Sikh Union on their annual Eye Camp in India, Amrit co-founded the Northampton Punjabi Association, a local group joining hands with the community to come together at social events to make a difference.
Keeping busy with representing various groups, Amrit shares her journey through writing. Writer, journalist and blogger Amrit integrates her on-the-go lifestyle with her duties. Her love for fashion, beauty, spiritualism and positivity is distinctly profound in the way she expresses herself through words.
Amrit believes in embracing the positive over the negative. “Looking at the positive aspects of a situation gives you the chance to assess what you can learn from the experience, and continue your journey to believe, achieve and succeed.”
To share Amrit’s vision of positive energy, take a look at some of her articles for Punjab2000.com – Enjoy!
Exclusive article as featured in The Asian Today tabloid newspaper.
In 2013, a group of Northampton residents teamed together to form the Punjabi social club, Northampton Punjabi Association. NPA started out as a social concept amongst friends in the community as a chance for locals to come together and share common interests within the small Punjabi community based in the rural market town of Northamptonshire. The local group integrate in celebration of the Punjabi culture by hosting events to raise money for worthy causes where they can ensure that maximum funds are donated to charity.
NPA held their first event in April 2013 to fundraise for the Eye Camp Appeal in Jalandhar which gained a huge amount of support within the community. Pummie Matharu and his daughter, Amrit Matharu travelled to India at their own expense on behalf of NPA, alongside Sikh Union Coventry on the Eye Camp charity mission. A significant difference to this charity cause compared to others is that this mission is completely carried out by Sikh Union and their overseas partners in Jalandhar. NPA assisted Sikh Union over the week in India with the support of Guru Tegh Bahadur Gurdwara Mission, Lodge Devon and Surgeon Jacob who lead the medical team at Ruby Nelson Hospital. Several hundred people received general healthcare, medical checks and glasses. Over 250 people who could not have afforded treatment otherwise, received cataract operations.
Earlier this year, a second event in April raised over £1000 for a number of charities. The NPA donated £550 to Teenage Cancer Trust, sadly weeks before the death of charity activist, Steven Sutton was announced. A further £300 was donated towards the annual Sikh Union Eye Camp Appeal, £100 to Khalsa Aid and a following £100 to Sikh Awareness Society. The Northampton Punjabi Association hope to keep this charitable momentum going to host more events to raise funds for worthy causes such as these.
Amrit tells The Asian Today “as a society we lust for lavish lifestyles and constantly aim for the better things in life. Though this is an inevitable social trend followed by us all, the Northampton Punjabi Association is all about taking a moment from our comfortable lifestyles to appreciate everything we have and find a way to continue our way of life but at the same time, try to benefit others who are less fortunate than ourselves”.
NPA’s next event is to be held on 8 November 2014. All members of the community are kindly invited to join in to put the fun into fundraising. To keep up to date with NPA’s latest movements, event info and how to become a member, see www.facebook.com/NPAcommunity and follow @NPA_community on Twitter and Instagram.
Exclusive article as featured in The Asian Today tabloid newspaper.
Sikh Union host the official launch of the Daimler Green Community Centre in Coventry on Sunday 20 July 2014, with a free open day for all members of the public.
Bali Dhanjal, Sikh Union member tells Amrit Matharu of The Asian Today that the event will be taking place from 10am to 4pm at the Daimler Green ground. Events will be taking place throughout the day including football, hockey, cricket, Martial Arts, go-karting and the all-crowd-pleasing tug-of-war.
“The theme of the day has quite quickly become sports related which compliments the nature of Daimler Green and follows in the footsteps of the Sikh Union annual Sports day, that recently took place in May celebrating the Sikh festival of Vaisakhi. We are confident that with the popular take-off of our classes and activities at the centre, the community will enjoy a fun filled day where taster sessions and activities will be available.”
The centre opened on Sunday 4th May 2014 under the new management of Sikh Union. The centre is a base for the club’s charity and community projects as well as a fully running community centre and social club for all the family.
Various activities are held weekly at the centre such as table tennis, Zumba, yoga, football and hockey. Daimler Green has 11 a side and 2 x 7 a side football pitches, a cricket wicket, three 5 a side multi user games areas (MUGA), which can be used for football, tennis and hockey and two changing rooms fully equipped with shower facilities.
Bar manager Derek is impressed with the amount of locals who continue to pay homage to their loyal community centre and said “everyone praises Sikh Union for their great efforts in providing for the community here”.
Coventry’s Lord Mayor, Councillor Hazel Noonon will be officially opening the centre and we are expecting many of her fellow councillors to accompany her on the day alongside all members of the community who are welcomed to join in the celebrations. The community spirit will be topped off in true British summer style with a BBQ available throughout the day. Children’s arts and crafts and face painting will be taking place with a chance to win a competition for the best artwork. Weather permitting go-kart racing will also be present.
For more information or to book a stall space please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 024 7659 6402.
Daimler Green Community Centre, 48 Highley Drive, Radford, Coventry, CV6 3LR
Some months ago I spoke to Akshay Sharma of Leicester about a number of projects and ventures set up by the motivated youngster centralised around his many talents in art, including music, performance and design.
Originally setting out to follow in the medical footsteps of the stereotypical Asian career path, Sharma realised his passion for the art movement outweighed his interest in the sciences. During the university application process, Sharma tells me that in an interview with a professional surgeon it made him realise that he has so much more to say about his extra-curricular activities – including his role as Prospero in the musical The Return to The Forbidden Planet. Ironically the play was about science fiction. This experience resembled an awakening for Sharma, who realised that he can cultivate his expression through art to benefit others in the way that medicine helps people.
From performing his first rap at the school talent show, coming second place as young as ten-years –old, Sharma developed his rapping skills over time. Rapping amongst peers in secondary school in friendly rap battles, Sharma discovered an occurring problem – the absence of rapping over a backing track. Here Sharma explored the art of beat-boxing and creating musical rhythm without the need for an electrical device. As technologies advanced he was able to spontaneously loop the beats and immediately rap over them, which he introduces into his new projects.
Starting with college projects such as the Extended Project Qualifications where Sharma used music to engage with young people in an exciting approach, educating them about sexual health awareness. Further projects involving The Curve Theatre, The Might Creatives and The NHS have taken place where Sharma has received great feedback, support and funding. Being involved in local projects, Sharma continued working with projects in his hometown of Leicester, starting his own projects including open mic nights and workshops with youngsters.
Sharma’s efforts and talent has not gone unnoticed as he was nominated for Young Artist of the Year for The Lord Lieutenant’s award for Young People in 2013.
Sharma preforms under the stage name Mr Shay at open mic nights such as Find The Right Words, Open Jam and Poetry Jam all held in bars around Leicester. Preforming with other musically talented people has lead Sharma to label his own brand, Colour Code Creations that hosts the new trend of ‘Spit and Follow’ taken inspiration from the NekNomination phenomena. Sharma instigated a safer way for individuals to come together and celebrate their skills by nominating other artists to rap about a specific word within 24 hours.
Sharma comments “NekNominations, it’s funny but when people start dying, it’s got to stop”.
A similar project by Sharma involving rap music called Rep Your Endz, attempts to bring young people away from gang crime after a stabbing took place in Leicester upon where an innocent family died as a result of gang revenge. A music video has been released on Youtube which was featured on BBC Radio Leicester with an exclusive interview with Mr Shay himself earlier this year. June 2014, ITV featured Sharma in an interview where he told the major broadcasting channel that the incident made him feel he needed to do something to inspire young people to do positive rather than negative.
Sharma uses social media to spread awareness of his projects, aiming to involve youngsters in the community and encourage young artists to celebrate their talent. You can follow Sharma’s Facebook and Youtube pages under ‘Colour Code Creations’, and get involved in the ‘Spit and Follow’ trend on Facebook.
I ask Akshay what advice he has for young people, and he replies “For the young people that are going through a time of confusion in terms of what they want to do in the future, I would say absolutely 100% do what you want to do. Do what you’re passionate about and don’t get lured in to doing what you think is good for you. You should know 100% what is good for you. And it is a risk but you should be willing to take the risk”.
Photographs by Isabel Wong
Today Peace Pagoda Buddhist Temple celebrated their 34th year anniversary…
It was so inspiring to see so many faiths come together to celebrate with the Buddhist community and recognise the beauty of peace.
"Before becoming a Sikh, a Muslim, a Hindu or a Christian, let’s become a human first."