One Direction singer Zayn Malik has been named an ambassador for the British Asian Trust charitable foundation. The 21 year old joins several other celebrities, including producer Naughty Boy and actor/comedian Sanjeev Bhaskar, who will help to promote fundraising initiatives to aid disadvantaged people in Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
Executive Director of the British Asian Trust Hitan Mehta says, "We are delighted to welcome Zayn Malik to The British Asian Trust family; he is a young man with immense talent and a dedicated following.
"Zayn joins a dedicated group of celebrity supporters, who have worked alongside us helping to improve the lives of disadvantaged people living in South Asia."
The British Asian Trust was founded in 2007 by Prince Charles.
Actor Hugh Jackman took time out from filming Les Miserables to shoot a cameo for the revival of British comedy The Kumars At No. 42. Comedian/actor Sanjeev Bhaskar approached the X-Men star about the possibility of recording an appearance for the show on one of his days off from the Tom Hooper movie, and was thrilled when Jackman agreed.
He tells the BBC, "We've got these sketches that we do in the show now. Hugh Jackman has done one for us. Zoe Wanamaker's done one for us as well. I asked him if he would do me a huge favour and shoot something. In the end he rather kindly, between filming scenes, came away and did a couple of things for us. So he's a great guy."
Bhaskar reveals he has been pals with Jackman since they filmed Woody Allen's 2006 movie Scoop together, adding, "We've just remained friends ever since, in that weird sort of way where people look at me and Hugh Jackman and say, 'You two are friends?'"
The Kumars At No. 42 originally aired in Britain from 2001 to 2006.
We live in an age where six-year-olds have iPhones most of our possessions live in a "cloud" and even the refrigerator connects to the Internet. Like it or not technology has infused itself into every aspect of our lives—so it seems appropriate (and terrifying) that even Santa Claus' gift delivery operation would upgrade to the 2.0 world. Arthur Christmas the latest film from Aardman Animation (the Wallace & Gromit films Chicken Run) introduces us to the newfangled operation. These days Santa (Jim Broadbent) is just a figurehead for a full-scale war game run by the militant Steve (Hugh Laurie) and his band of black ops elves who cruise the December skies in their souped up spaceship sleigh. Business is conducted in the most controlled manner with each elf equipped with dog food launchers and back-up tape dispensers in case of any on-ground mishaps. On the sidelines is Arthur (James McAvoy) a bumbling black sheep who outweighs the entire force in Christmas spirit but can barely stand on two feet.
The opening deliver sequence is expertly directed by Sarah Smith whose action is reminiscent of the highly energized Ratatouille injected with the quirky British humor one would expect from Aardman. But the dazzling setup doesn't turn Arthur Christmas into a bombastic holiday riff instead using its lead to dig underneath the 2.0 landscape to find true magic. When one present goes undelivered Arthur stands up against his complacent family members to right the holiday wrongs. The anxiety-ridden younger son teams up with his Grandsanta (Bill Nighy) and an eager wrapper elf Bryony (Ashley Jensen) hitching up the classic sleigh and venturing into the great unknown all in the name of a young girl who might wake up gift-less.
The trio's adventure takes them around the globe from the busy streets of Toronto to a colorful Mexican town to the planes of an African wildlife preserve. With each wrong turn and each obstacle to overcome (outrunning a pack of lions while wearing reindeer slippers is no easy feat) Arthur's belief in the greatness of Santa and the wonders of the Christmas are tested. For kids it might be a familiar existential crisis but the warmth that accompanies Arthur's triumphant spirit should resonate with those young and old. That's an achievement in a Christmas movie but Smith's delicate balance of sentimentality and over-the-top humor blend and keep the movie moving at lightning speed.
The movie's 3D animation and stereoscopic display are top-notch but the real extra dimension comes from the cast. Aardman has a knack for realizing characters supporting or leads who feel fully developed—and Arthur Christmas is no exception. Smith and writer Peter Baynham (Borat Arthur) know when you trap the Claus family in the result will be brilliance: Steve commanding the floor Grandsanta telling "when I was young" stories Santa falling asleep Mrs. Claus (Imelda Staunton) keeping the peace and Arthur reminding everyone that it's Christmas. That's as real as actual Christmas dinner gets. The elves of the North Pole are equally eclectic and odd—even with hundreds of workers scurrying around the ship each one gets their time to land a joke. Overlaid on the rousing tale his a whimsical score by Harry Gregson-Williams that much like his work on Narnia feels simultaneously fantastical and exhilarating (as any good sleigh ride should).
There are so many Christmas movies in the pantheon of the season that it's almost unimaginable that another could slip in without relying on a gimmick or cynical spin but Arthur Christmas is as warm fuzzy and hilarious as they come. Crafted with authentic joy performed by lively voice actors and subtly imbued with jokes for all ages (no frame goes by without at least one sight or pun gag) those who catch it this year may find themselves returning every season. It's just that nice.