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Madonna's 'next best thing' is yoga

Madonna's 'next best thing' is yoga

Ramesh Chandran
The Sunday Times of India
March 5, 2000
Title: Madonna's 'next best thing' is yoga
Author: Ramesh Chandran
Publication: The Sunday Times of India
Date: March 5, 2000

Often described as 'pop's former boy toy', Madonna, having left behind her sexcapades, scandals and headline-grabbing wild times in her latest cinematic avatar, is now tackling the role of of an adoring mother and mature woman in love in her new movie, The Next Best thing, released here this week, in which she enacts the role of a yoga instructor.

The pop icon, who popularised mehndi, Indian customised jewellery, embraced "Eastern philosophy" and appeared in a splashy photo-spread in which she devised new and befuddling ways of wearing a sari in Rolling Stone magazine has found a new passion Ashtanga yoga.

At 41, her "taut and supple" body is seen by entertainment weeklies as testimony that this rigorous form of yoga has been good for her. It has catalogued her restless "shape-shifting" across the pop-cultural landscape over the past 17 years. Having now taken to yoga "seriously", Madonna is described by her friends as radiating "serene contentment". People magazine has quoted Rosie O' Donnell, a close friend, as saying, "She's so much more calmer, so much more centred than she used to be."

For her role in The Next Rest Thing, she reportedly went through the demanding schedule that Ashtanga yoga demands, and in one scene in the film, her real-life yoga instructor apparently appears as one of her students. The movie credits Mysore-based K. Pattabhi Joi, among others, for offering guidance, and her co-workers claim Madonna's latest Indian passion is not another fleeting diversion that bored celebrities often indulged in.

While she was pregnant, she had seriously pursued Hatha yoga. The Next Best Thing, co-starting Rupert Everett, opened here to mixed reviews. Madonna, who has managed unprecedented success as a singer with world-wide sales, has never quite managed to make an impact in Hollywood despite several determined efforts and a promising start in Desperately, Seeking Susan. Everett plays her droll gay confidant in this romantic comedy. which has drawn comparisons with another film starring Julia Roberts and Everett, My Best Friend's Wedding. In this film, after a night of carnality with the yoga instructor, she discovers she is pregnant.

The Madonna character persuades her friend, despite his sexual preferences, to raise the child, parent-style. Trouble emerges soon enough in the form of an investment banker (Benjamin Bratt) with whom the yoga instructor fails in love and seeks sole custody of the child. Directed by John Schlesinger (Midnight Cowboy, Marathon Man), the film raises some powerful ideas. What rights does a gay father have against the right of the heterosexual couple-but it fails to address them squarely.

Originally, the Madonna character was meant to be a swimming instructor, but it was changed to that of a yoga instructor since she "loved yoga" and disliked spending hours in chlorine. The movie may not make an impact at the box office but inevitably. Madonna continues to make the headlines.

The movie's soundtrack includes her remake of of Don McLean's American Pie-currently a top 40 hit on the Billboard-100 chart-and in a typically raunchy version, she flashes her bottom. Madonna's 1999 single, Beautiful Stranger, which she co-wrote for the bit film, Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, won for her the best song written for a motion picture, television or other visual medium at last month's Grammy Awards. And for someone who has managed to figure in the "worst dressed" lists, Madonna made a remarkable transformation this Year when fashion magazine W ranked her No 3, in the company of the U.S.'s most coveted party guests Bill and Melinda Gates. and Britain's Prince William.

She is now repeatedly quoted in her interviews as saying she has found contentment-in her daughter Leon, her new love interest, British director Guy Ritchie, and in her daily yoga regimen.

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