Dusk-to-dawn tryst with classical music,dance at IIM Bangalore on R-Day eve

Akkarai sisters
Akkarai sisters
The Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore (IIMB) will host a dusk-to-dawn extravaganza of classical music and dance from 6 pm on January 25 till the dawn of Republic Day, featuring well-known names in Hindustani classical, Carnatic music and classical dance.
Hosted in association with SPICMACAY chapter at IIMB, the event,‘Yamini’, is held every year under the starry skies at the open air amphitheatre at the IIMB campus on Bannerghatta Road here.
This year, the event features Padma Shri award winners Pt. Venkatesh Kumar (Hindustani Vocal) and Ustad Shahid Pervez (Sitar), renowned danseuse Sujata Mohapatra (Odissi) and the youth sensations Sikkil Gurucharan (Carnatic Vocal) and the Akkarai Sisters (Carnatic Violin).
Entry is open to all. The event details and entry passes are available at, or on the Facebook event page:
Pt. Venkatesh Kumar from Dharwad near the Maharashtra-Karnataka border, a place famous for its rich musical tradition, especially Hindustani, has learnt music under the tutelage of the late Puttaraj Gawai, a saint-musician. Having received music training at Gawai’s ashram in Gadag, over the years, he earned national recognition. His robust style and seamless blending of key elements of the Kirana and Gwalior gharanas is also enriched by characteristics of the Patiala school.
Ustad Shahid Parvez Khan descends from six generations of sitarists. He is one of the leading exponents of the Etawah Gharana, committed to this most famous of Indian instruments. He was trained by his father and guru, Ustad Aziz Khan.
A distinguished practitioner of Odissi, Sujata Mohapatra made her initial foray into the dancing arena in her early childhood. Born into a rich cultural background, she grew up in an artistic environment that delicately nourished her creativity and brought out her innate interest in dance.
Mohapatra, as the disciple and daughter- in-law of the late Guru Padmabibhushan Kelucharan Mohapatra, had received 18 years of rigorous training under the guidance from him. She subsequently did further studies on the dance form and also undertook research work at the Odissi Research Centre, Bhubaneshwar. She is at present Principal of ‘Srjan’ an Odissi dance institution founded by Kelucharan Mohapatra.
Sikkil C. Gurucharan, born on June 21,1982 is the grandson of Sikkil Kunjumani, elder of the internationally acclaimed flautists, the Sikkil Sisters. Gurucharan has been under the tutelage of Vaigal S. Gnanaskandan and is currently being mentored by B. Krishnamurthy.
Akkarai Sisters, S Subhalakshmi and S Sornalatha, hail from a family with a rich background in Indian classical music. Their grandfather, Suchindram Shri S P Sivasubramanian, was a multifaceted musician renowned as a vocalist, violinist, and composer, and their grandmother R Sornambal was a Harikatha exponent. The sisters are the disciples of their father, Akkarai S Swamynathan, a veteran violinist and founder of the Swara Raga Sudha school of music.

Festival of India in Cambodia from January 10

A Festival of India will be held in Cambodia from January 10 to February 16, an official press release said here today.
The highlights of the festival include a Ramayana performance, Rajasthani folk music and dances (dance group plus Manganiyar group) and classical dance performances.
A Buddhist Mahotsav – Exhibition titled Dhamma Darshana - to explore the life, teachings and important events connected with Lord Buddha and photo exhibition on Buddhist religious/heritage sites in India will also be held.
To complete the experience, a Food Festival will showcase delicacies and cuisine from across India. The festival events will be held in the three cities of Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Battambang in Cambodia, the release added.

Illusion of freedom of speech among ways to stifle dissent: Tharoor

The creation of an illusion of freedom of speech is among the more insidious ways to stifle dissent in society, according to former Union Minister, Shashi Tharoor who was part of a discussion at the Kochi-Muziris Biennale (KMB) here yesterday.
“There are many ways dissent can be stifled. The old fashioned school of locking people up and sending them to concentration camps but the other way is getting employers to hound them for instance.
"The more insidious and sophisticated ways are more dangerous because they preserve the illusion of freedom of speech,”  the MP from Thiruvanananthapuram said.
He was part of a discussion, "Dissent and Discourse” organised by the BM Anand Foundation as a collateral of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale. The discussion aimed to explore the notion of dissent and its significance in public discourse, creativity and progress. 
Dr Tharoor was joined on the panel by KMB co-founder Riyas Komu, BJP leader Shazia Ilmi and art curator Alka Pande The discussion was moderated by biographer and writer Aditi Anand.
Given the context of the Biennale, the conversation focused on the art and the role of BM Anand, specifically the subaltern, within society and the civic and social power of art as a voice of dissent and a tool for advancing social justice.
Speaking from an artist’s perspective, Komu said dissent could be viewed in a multilayered manner and the Kochi Muziris Biennale has succeeded in creating “a site where many discourses can happen".
“For us as a foundation the focus is to celebrate the diversity and cosmopolitanism of the historic Muziris region. I think Kochi is sort of doing a cultural acupuncture which can benefit the nation culturally in the long run,” Komu said.
Referring to an anecdotal conversation with eminent historian K. N. Pannikar and  KCHR Chairman P. J. Cherian , who led the field team in Muziris excavations, Komu said, “Just like they used the metaphor that with every 1 metre of digging, they crossed the history of over 1000 years, we  as a biennale get energy to present voices of multiplicity and plurality".
Tharoor referred to Gandhi’s sense of justice where he was ready to accept the punishment meted out to dissenters but “today people want to dissent without the punishment.”
“Within any framework of freedom, dissent and dialogue are an essential part of society. I think like Leonardo da Vinci says nothing strengthens authority like silence so the need to speak out is important. Freedom and dissent are two sides of the same coin,” Ilmi said. 
Pande, who curated the first exhibition of BM Anand in New Delhi earlier this year, said the artist was “absolutely fearless in his language of art and never played to the market and was absolutely honest to his craft.”
The BM Foundation’s co-founders, Neeraj Gulati and Kriti Anand, who is the daughter of BM Anand, were also present at the function.
The selection of works being displayed as a collateral at the KMB features evocative, often apocalyptic pieces in diverse mediums. There are, in all, 10 scratchboards, 10 scratchboard sketches, three sets of 13 drawings, one ink and watercolour on paper and a single oil on canvas.
Curated by young researcher and writer Shruthi Issac, the exhibition is a sampling of the estimated 1,500 surviving works by BM Anand – from scratchboards, landscapes, watercolours and sketches to commercial illustrations for books, posters, newspapers and magazines.

Govt. to find permanent venue for Kochi-Muziris Biennale: Pinarayi

Kochi Muziris Biennale 2016 participating artist P K Sadanandan explaining his artwork to Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan at Aspin Wall, Kochi on December 12, 2016.
Kochi Muziris Biennale 2016 participating artist P K Sadanandan explaining his artwork to Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan at Aspin Wall, Kochi on December 12, 2016.
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan inaugurated the third edition of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale (KMB) here at today and promised that the state government would take steps to provide a permanent home for India's only biennale.
Speaking on the occasion, he said the lack of a permanent venue for the contemporary art show was a serious issue.
Mr. Vijayan said the binennale had gained significant credibility in the international contemporary art world and the government was looking to develop it along the lines of the Venice Biennale.
“The ancient history of Kochi is marked with adventure and the idea to organise the Biennale here tells us that there is adventure in its present too. Just as the Biennale created history in Kochi, a permanent venue for the Biennale will also create history,” he said.
“Already, the LDF government has allocated a sum of Rs 7.5 crore in its budget to organise the Biennale. This is the highest ever funding allotted to an art event by a state government in India,” Mr. Vijayan said, pointing out that the concept for the Biennale was announced in 2010 – during the tenure of the previous Left government, which had sanctioned the first disbursement of funds towards the event’s operational expenses.
The Chief Minister termed the Biennale a gateway between Kerala and the world through which the diverse expressions of international art and culture move freely and are brought together under one umbrella. He also called Kochi the perfect place to host the Biennale owing to its rich cosmopolitan heritage and multi-layered cultural tapestry.
“Though the Biennale is primarily an art event, it has economic and social benefits too. It has energised the tourism sector. The statistics show that lakhs of cultural enthusiasts surged to Kochi from around the different corners of the world to view the first two editions. Both Kochi and Kerala benefit from this influx,” he said.
The inauguration ceremony also saw in attendance Kerala Minister for Tourism Kadakampally Surendran and former Minister for Culture M.A. Baby.
“The Biennale has become a pilgrimage site for art lovers around the globe and it has become a space for artists from Kerala to interact with foreign artists,” Mr. Surendran said.
Kochi Mayor Soumini Jain was also present at the event.
Lulu Group founder and managing director Padma M.A. Yousuf Ali, a committed long-term patron of the Biennale, pledged Rs 2 crore to the next edition of the KMB.
KMB 2016 curator Sudarshan Shetty outlined his artistic vision for the Biennale. Kochi Biennale Foundation (KBF) President Bose Krishnamachari delivered the vote of thanks while KBF Secretary Riyas Komu made the welcome speech.
“In a time of ideological and cultural upheavals, the Biennale is an inspirational force. The stories that the KMB tells us instills a sense of pride in culture and stokes our creativity,” Komu said. 
KBF CEO Manju Sara Rajan was present as were a host of KBF trustees and patrons.
Prior to the inaugural function, a ‘chenda melam’ of 150 percussionists led by Peruvanam Kuttan Marar welcomed the dignitaries and public to the venue. Following the ceremony, there was a concert by noted singer Suman Sridhar and The Black Mamba.

Malayalam actors Dileep, Kavya Madhavan get married in Kochi

Malayalam actors Dileep, Kavya Madhavan get married
Well-known actors Dileep and Kavya Madhavan, one of the most popular screen pairs in Malayalam cinema, got married at a ceremony at a hotel in the city this morning.
Dileep, 48, born as Gopalakishnan Pillai, had married another popular actress Manju Warrier on October 20, 1998 but they got divorced on January 31, 2015. They have a daughter, Meenakshi.
Kavya, 32, was earlier married to non-resident Indian businessman Nishal Chandra on February 9, 2009. She moved to Kuwait with him, but returned a few months later and did not return. The couple agreed for a mutual divorce, which was granted by a court on May 30, 2011.
Only close friends and relatives of the couple were present at the wedding ceremony, which took place at a hotel here.
Among those present on the occasion were Malayalam superstar Mammootty, actors Jayaram and Janardanan, and actresses Meera Jasmine, Menaka, Chippi, Jomol, Kaviyoor Ponamma and K P A C Lalitha.
The couple was due to leave for Dubai later today, sources said.
Dileep and Kavya were often linked together in the media in the past few years, mainly because of their excellent on-screen chemistry. The two have appeared together in about 20 movies, most of them big hits.
Dileep told newspersons today that Kavya had nothing to do with the breakdown of his previous marriage. "The only crime we have committed is that we have acted together in some 20 movies," he said.
He also said that he had decided at some stage that, if he ever got married again, it would be to Kavya in view of the pain she had suffered because of all the unfounded rumours about them. He had also made it clear several times in the past that his marriage plans would depend entirely on his daughter.
Meenakshi, who was present at the wedding, told reporters that it was she who persuaded her father to marry Kavya.
Dileep, who started out as a mimicry artiste, is also a singer, film producer and entrepreneur. He has acted in more than 130 Malayalam films.
Kavya had made her debut as a child artiste in Pookkalam Varavayi (1991) and is now one of the top actresses in Malayalam cinema. She has won the Kerala State Film Award for Best Actress twice. She also writes poetry and is a singer and a trained dancer.

‘Allama’ nominated as Indian entry for ICFT UNESCO Gandhi Medal

‘Allama’, a film by the national award winning director T.S. Nagabharana about the journey of a 12th century metaphysician, will compete for the International Council for Film, Television and Audio-visual Communication (ICFT) UNESCO Gandhi Medal at the ongoing At 47th International Film Festival of India (IFFI).
ICFT Paris in collaboration with UNESCO will award the film that best reflects the Gandhi ideals of peace, tolerance and non-violence, a prestigious Gandhi Medal and Certificate. This competition section shall have eight films including ‘Allama’ that will vie for the prestigious ICFT UNESCO Gandhi Medal.
Other films that will compete in this section are ‘A Real Vermeer’, ‘Beluga’, ‘Cold of Kalandar’, ‘Exiled’, ‘Harmonia’, ‘The Apology’ and ‘The Family: Dementia’.
‘Allama’ is a film about a 12th century metaphysician, son of a temple dancer who embarks on a quest for knowledge and answers to his four core sentiments, yearning, and obsession to play the maddale (a type of drum), failures and self-realisation.
When he evolves and becomes “Prabhu”, a master of monotheistic and non-dualistic philosopher, he begins to question many core values in his ideal world where he can foresee violence and advices people to find solace and departs on his final journey to become one with nature and a true spirit.

Workshop on 'Restoration of Satyajit Ray Preservation project’ held at IFFI

A workshop on Restoration of Satyajit Ray Preservation Project was held by Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) at Kala Academy as part of the ongoing International Film Festival of India (IFFI) 2016 here yesterday.
The workshop, presented by Ms Tessa Idlewine, Short Film Preservationist at AMPAS, highlighted the challenges involved in the task of restoring films. 
Ms Idlewine mentioned they have been able to restore and preserve 21 of Satyajit Ray's films in the time span of 20 years.
Ms. Idlewine, an inventory film archivist at AMPAS, spoke in detail about the commendable efforts undertaken by the institution to restore, conserve and preserve Ray’s films. 
Ms. Idlewine has specialized in film handling, film identification, cataloguing, film archiving, preservation and conservation. The session was moderated by Shivendra Dungarpur, an Indian filmmaker, producer, film archivist and restorer himself.
AMPAS is a professional honorary organization with the stated goal of advancing the art and sciences of motion pictures.

Indian Panorama directors meet the press at IFFI

Malayalam film director Dr Biju takes a look at the issue of Maoism from a humanistic view point in his feature film “Kaadu Pookkunna Neram” (When Forests Bloom) while Marathi director Nishant Roy Bombarde portrays the relationship of an adolescent son and his mother in "Daaravtha".
Briefing the media at the ongoing 47th International Film Festival of India (IFFI) here today, Dr. Biju said ‘Kaadu Pookkunna Neram’ is a political film  based on controversial issue of Maoism. People get framed and labelled as Maoists in Kerala and this film deals with this issue in a sensitive way, he said.
Of his six films, this is the fourth to be screened under Indian Panorama section of the IFFI.
The film will be released in the January next year. He plans to dub it in different languages, as people from a number of countries are able to relate with this film.
‘Kaadu Pookkunna Neram’ is about a policeman who arrests a suspected Maoist woman in a forest. But after getting lost in the forest, both the hunter and the hunted are stranded. Power, crime, man, woman, the hunter, the hunted... all such equations change and are no more what they used to be.
Bombarde said his film portrays the relationship of an adolescent son and his mother, where the son is exploring his sexuality in a patriarchal society.
The film explores the parallel journey of a mother and a son in their quest to find their own selves. This film is not a biopic, but on a very common sensitive issue that numerous people go through.
Responding to a question, he said Marathi films have always touched sensitive issues bordering on social issues. “There can’t be any unique story or subject in such a long journey of human existence but the way you tell the story or treat the subject matters and makes it unique,” he added.
Bombarde has written, directed and produced the film all by himself. 'Daaravtha’ has won several awards, including the National Award for Best Debut Director.

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'Harikatha Prasanga' to compete for Centenary Award at 47th IFFI

'Harikatha Prasanga' (Chronicles of Hari), a film by Ananya Kasaravalli about the life of a famous Yakshagana artist, Hairschandra, is to compete for the coveted Centenary Award for Best Debut Feature of a Director at the ongoing 47th International Film Festival of India (IFFI).
Under this section, seven films, including ‘Chronicles of Hari’, will compete for the prestigious Silver Peacock, along with a certificate and cash prize of Rs.10,00,000. The film is being screened tomorrow.
Harikatha Prasanga is a film, set in a coastal town of southern India and narrates the story of a Yakshagana artist Hari who has gained popularity portraying female roles.
The story of Hari’s life unfolds through different perspectives captured in three episodes across four audio-visual interviews conducted by filmmakers Sharmila and Sundar, primarily interested in investigating and documenting on his whereabouts.
‘Centenary Award for Best Debut Feature of a Director’ is a new initiative by the Directorate of Film Festivals to recognize and encourage young talents across the world.
Under this section, the other five competing films are ‘One Week and a Day’, ‘Rara’, ‘Tramontane’, ‘Two Birds, One Stone’, ‘Wolf and Sheep’ and ‘Wrath’ .

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47th IFFI begins in Goa, S. P. Balasubrahmanyam conferred Centenary Award

Union Minister for Information & Broadcasting M. Venkaiah Naidu presents the Centenary Award to legendary singer S.P. Balasubrahmanyam, at the inauguration of the 47th International Film Festival of India (IFFI-2016), in Panaji, Goa on November 20, 2016.
Union Minister for Information & Broadcasting M. Venkaiah Naidu presents the Centenary Award to legendary singer S.P. Balasubrahmanyam, at the inauguration of the 47th International Film Festival of India (IFFI-2016), in Panaji, Goa on November 20, 2016.
Union Minister of Information & Broadcasting M. Venkaiah Naidu today said cinema should reflect larger social concerns instead of focusing on entertainment only. 
Inaugurating the 47th International Film Festival of India (IFFI) here, he said films should illuminate the mind and heart, engaging audiences both intellectually and emotionally.
It should expose the people to ideas, problems and developments happening in the society and make them think critically and look for alternate solutions and actions, he said.
Mr. Naidu said that, in a country like India, with its several social problems, a case could be made for social realism in films. Cinema was a work of art and there has to be a certain ‘take away’ for the audience who gave over two hours of their valuable time for watching a film, he said.
Elaborating about the role of cinema and social change, the Minister said that the demonetization scheme of the Government was a national project of behavioral change of an unprecedented scale and urged filmmakers to analyze and present the consequences of this change to the people in a creative manner. 
He  mentioned the 1946 movie ‘Vijayalakshmi’ produced and directed by late B.R.Pantulu which was based on the first demonetization in our country. The movie had brilliantly presented the negative role of money sharks working for their own interest at the cost of the common man, he recalled.
Mr. Naidu said that the situation today was also similar and hence the Prime Minister for this very reason had set in motion the current process of change that would bring benefits to citizens of the country.
Speaking about the importance of rich content in the movies, Mr. Naidu said cinema needed to coexist with reality. It was necessary to pass the test of ‘2Rs’ - Reason and Reality. Many of the commercial films were crashing because of lack of creative content, he said.
Citing the example of ‘Sholay’, he said that the movie was a huge success because it was not formulaic in the strict sense of the term though it was a commercial production. The Minister added that certain relationships and values were so finely woven into the theme that people across the country owned it up and made it a landmark film.
He said cinema promoted rapid diffusion of ideas which manifested themselves consciously or otherwise in the relaxing environments of cinema halls or homes, when the audiences were more susceptible.
He added that movies like Mother India captured the emotions then prevailing in the country. He said that some of the movies in the recent times were both entertaining and stimulating and did the role of informing, educating and enlightening while some movies had also propagated the Gandhian way of living where the humanistic approach to mankind was highlighted.
The Minister also spoke about the Government initiatives to support the film industry in the form of a single window Film Facilitation Office in National Film Development Corporation and a National Film Heritage Mission to restore and digitize film archives.
Goa Governor Mridula Sinha, Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar, Union Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, South Korean Ambassador Cho Hyun, Secretary I&B, Ajay Mittal, and filmmaker Ramesh Sippy were also present on the occasion.
Well-known singer S. P. Balasubrahmanyam, who has completed five decades in the film industry, was conferred the Centenary Award for Indian Film Personality of the Year 2016 for his contribution to Indian Cinema. He holds the record in the Guinness Book for singing and recording more than 40,000 songs and has won the National Award six times He was honoured with the Padma Shri (2001) and Padma Bhushan (2011) by the Government of India. 
Internationally acclaimed Korean writer and director, Im Kwon Taek was conferred  ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’. In his career span of five decades, he has directed more than 100 films and has been honoured with a number of awards, including Best Director Award at Cannes Film Festival, 2002 for his movie Chihwaseon.
Republic of Korea is the partner country for IFFI 2016. Mr. Sippy, eminent director known for his seminal contribution Sholay, was the chief guest for the opening ceremony.
There would be 15 films from across the globe, including two Indian films from Indian Panorama section in the International Competition Section.  Under the section ‘International Competition’, awards will be given for Best Film, Best Director, Best Actor – Male, Best Actor – Female and Special Jury Award. This year, the festival line-up included 26 Asian and 108 Indian Premieres in the International Cinema section.
The opening film of the festival was After-Image, the masterpiece by veteran Polish writer and director, late Andrzej Wajda. It is a passionate biopic about avant-garde painter Wladyslaw Strzeminski. 
The closing film or 47th IFFI would be the South Korean official entry for the Academy Awards, The Age of Shadows, directed by Kim Jee Woon.
IFFI 2016 in collaboration with the International Council for Film, Television and Audiovisual Communication (ICFT), Paris and UNESCO would also present the “ICFT- UNESCO Gandhi Medal” to a film, which reflects the ideals of peace, tolerance and non-violence.
IFFI 2016 will also have a special tribute section in memory of Wajda and Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami, who passed away this year.
The festival will also feature screen three films for specially-abled children with special audio described technology under the Accessible India Campaign/ Sugamaya Bharat Abhiyan. The screening will take place in collaboration with UNESCO and Saksham. 
IFFI 2016 will showcase a special package of 20 award winning short films based on the Swachh Bharat theme. These 20 films were short listed from 4,346 entries and awarded at the ‘Swachh Bharat Film Festival’ organized by National Film Development Corporation on 2nd October in New Delhi.
National Film Archive of India has organized a multi-media exhibition on the theme ‘Azadi 70 Saal: Yaad Karo Qurbani’, to commemorate 70 years of India’s independence and its depiction through films.
The festival, which will continue till November 28, will feature films from across the globe, interactive sessions, workshops and informative classes from global masters of the art in Direction, Documentary film making, Editing, Art Direction, Cinematography, VFX & Animation and Action Direction.

Festival of India to be held in Oman from November 15 to March 24

A Festival of India is being organized in Oman from 15 November, 2016 to 24 March, 2017 to showcase the country's diverse Indian culture, including classical and folk dance, music, cuisine and an exhibition on Islamic art and calligraphy.
Artists from Jammu & Kashmir are also presenting folk dance and music of the state.
The events will be held in four cities of Oman -- Muscat, Sur, Sohar and Salalah.
The events that will be held during the festival include an eight-member classical Indian ballet by Hritaal Dance Group led by Mr. Jaydeep Palit from 15-19 November; an exhibition of Islamic Art Calligraphy by Rampur Raza Library from 21 November – 3 December, 2016; an eight-member vocal Sufiana music by a group led by Dr. Soma Ghosh from 24 – 29 January, 2017;  a 15-member Jammu & Kashmir dance and music group organized by North Zone Cultural Centre, Patiala from 10 – 14 February, 2017; a Food Festival by India Tourism Development Corporation, Ministry of Tourism from 15 – 19 March, 2017; and a fashion show by National Institute of Fashion Technology, Ministry of Textiles – March, 2017.

Film Promotion Fund to promote Indian cinema in international festivals

The Government has taken a new initiative to create a Film Promotion Fund to promote Indian cinema in the international film festivals, Information & Broadcasting Minister M.Venkaiah Naidu said today.
Addressing the curtain raiser press conference for the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) 2016, he said this initiative would help independent filmmakers to promote their work across the globe. The Government’s efforts to project India as a soft power and filming destination has been a win-win situation so far, he added.
In terms of attracting global stakeholders from various quarters of film industry to India as well as Indian films, the country’s expertise and talent was being accepted globally at international festivals, Mr Naidu said. 
Mr  Francis D’Souza, Deputy Chief Minister of Goa, Col. Rajyavardhan Rathore, Minister of State for I&B, Mr. Cho Hyun, Ambassador Republic of Korea and Mr. Ajay Mittal, Secretary I&B were also present on the occasion.
The fund would provide financial assistance to the films which would be selected in any competition section of an International Film Festival of repute or being India’s official nomination to the Academy Awards under Foreign Film Category for promotional activities. 
Directorate of Film Festivals has been designated as the nodal agency for implementing this initiative based on the recommendations of a panel of experts constituted by the Government.
The Minister said IFFI, as a platform, would provide encouragement to the film makers who have contributed to the world of cinema through their creations. 
It would offer a bouquet of films from all over the world with diverse storylines, narratives and emotions.  IFFI provides a diverse platform to the film industry to showcase their talent as well as an opportunity to learn from participating countries.
Col. Rajyavardhan Rathore, Minister of State for I&B gave the highlights of IFFI 2016 along with a brief description of the jury members. 
The country focus for 47th IFFI would be South Korea. It would present the best of Korean cinema to the world. A total of 1032 entries were received for IFFI 2016 from across the globe, out of which 194 films from 88 countries have been selected to be screened.
Highlighting the new initiative, Centenary Award for Best Debut Feature of a Director, Col. Rathore said that IFFI would recognize young talent under this new competition section. 
This section would showcase some of the outstanding directorial debuts of 2016 from across the world of cinema. The winner would be honoured with a Silver Peacock and a cash price of Rs 10 lakh.
Mr. Cho Hyun, Ambassador of Korea representing the partner country for IFFI 2016, said the festival would enhance the cultural partnership between the two nations.
The official poster for 47th edition of IFFI was also released on the occasion.
There would be 15 films from across the globe, including two Indian films from Indian Panorama section in the International Competition Section.  
Under the section ‘International Competition’, awards will be given for Best Film, Best Director, Best Actor – Male, Best Actor – Female and Special Jury Award. 
This year, the festival line-up includes 26 Asian and 108 Indian Premieres in the International Cinema section.
IFFI 2016 in collaboration with the International Council for Film, Television and Audiovisual Communication (ICFT), Paris and UNESCO would also present the “ICFT- UNESCO Gandhi Medal” to a film, which reflects the ideals of peace, tolerance and non-violence.
The 47th edition of IFFI would honour internationally acclaimed Korean writer and director Im Kwon Taek (Im  Kwa Teek) with the ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’ and a cash price of Rs. 10 lakh. In his career span of five decades, he has directed more than 100 films and has been honoured with a number of awards, including Best Director Award at Cannes Film Festival, 2002 for his movie Chihwaseon (chhih-wasaion) .
The festival would honour award winning and acclaimed singer, S. P. Balasubrahmanyam, with the Centenary Award for Indian Film Personality of the Year 2016, for his contribution to Indian Cinema. 
He holds the record in the Guinness Book for singing and recording more than 40,000 songs and has won the National Award six times He was honoured with the Padma Shri (2001) and Padma Bhushan (2011). This year, Mr Balasubrahmanyam has completed five decades in the film industry.
The opening film of the festival would be the grand masterpiece, After-Image, a creation of veteran writer and director, late. Andrzej Wajda. This movie is a passionate biopic about avant-garde painter Wladyslaw Strzeminski . 
The closing film or 47th IFFI would be the South Korean official entry for the Academy Awards, The Age of Shadows, directed by Kim Jee Woon.
Indian actor, director and producer Ajay Devgn, would be the Chief Guest for the opening ceremony. He is a two-time National Award winning actor and has been honoured with the Padma Shri. 
National award winning Director S.S Rajamouli will be the chief guest at the closing ceremony. He is known for scripting epic dramas and bringing them alive on the big screen. He has huge contribution to the field of VFX and special effects in Indian cinema.
The International Jury for IFFI 2016 comprises Ivan Passer - Chairperson (Czech Republic, USA). An internationally acclaimed writer and director, he is a significant figure in the Czech New Wave of the mid-1960s and collaborated as a writer with legendary filmmaker Milos Forman (Miloš Forman ) in Oscar nominated films, A loves of a blonde (1965) and Fireman’s blonde (1967). 
He has received Special Prize for Outstanding Contribution to World Cinema at Karlovy Vary International Film Festival
Larry Smith - Member (UK)  is an internationally acclaimed cinematographer and director, best known for his collaborations with director Nicolas Winding Refn and Stanley Kubrick.
Lordan Zafranovic - Member (Croatia)  is an internationally acclaimed writer and director. His most important work is the cult film Occupation in 26 Pictures (1978).  Zafranovi? has been praised as "one of the great masters of modernism. He started his feature film career by directing film, Sunday (1969). His documentaries Eyes of Beijing (2003) and China’s Terracotta Warriors (2003) won awards for best director at the Belgrade Festival of Documentary and short film. 
Documentary and experimental film Symphony of the Heaven City (2004) won the UNESCO Prize for the best documentary in 2004
Nagesh Kukunoor - Member (India)  is an internationally acclaimed filmmaker. He is known for his narrative style and distinct scripts. Hyderabad Blues 1&2, Rockford, Iqbal and Dor are some of his most acclaimed films.
Leila Kilani - Member (Morocco)  is a director and writer, known for Sur La Planche (2011), Tangier, the Burners' Dream (2003), Our Forbidden Places (2008).
IFFI 2016 would also organize a special tribute section in the memory of Polish filmmaker Andrzej Wajda and Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami, who passed away this year.
The 47th edition of IFFI would screen three films for specially-abled children with special audio described technology under the Accessible India Campaign/ Sugamaya Bharat Abhiyan. This screening would take place in collaboration with UNESCO and Saksham. 
Inspired by the Government’s Clean India Drive, IFFI 2016 will showcase a special package of 20 award winning short films based on the Swachh Bharat theme. 
These 20 films were short listed from 4,346 entries and awarded at the ‘Swachh Bharat Film Festival’ organized by National Film Development Corporation on October 2 in New Delhi.
The 47th edition of the International Film Festival of India would be from November 20-28.  Besides showcasing films from across the globe, it would also bring interactive sessions, workshops and informative classes from global masters of the art in Direction, Documentary film making, Editing, Art Direction, Cinematography, VFX & Animation and Action Direction.

Baahubali among 26 films to be screened in Panorama at IFFI 2016

Baahubali, directed by S. S. Rajamouli and winner of the Best Feature Film Award at the 63rd National Film Awards 2015 and Malayalam film Roopanthram, directed by M. B. Padmakumar, are among the 26 feature films selected for the Indian Panorama section of the 47th International Film Festival of India 2016 to be held in Goa from November 20-28.
The Jury for Feature Films, headed by well-known actor and director Rajendra Singh Babu, has selected 22 films out of 230 eligible entries. The 13-member jury took a month to finalize the selections, an official press release said.
As per Clause 8.6 of the Indian Panorama 2016 Regulations, the Best Feature Film of 63rd  National Film Awards 2015 is included in the Indian Panorama 2016. Three mainstream films have also been selected for the Panorama.
The following is the list of 26 feature films that will be screened in the Panorama Section of the festival:
1.  Roopanthram (Malayalam) - M B Padmakumar
2.  Harikatha Prasanga (Kannada) - - Ananya Kasaravalli
3.  Natsamrat - Asa Nat Hone Nahi (Marathi) -- Mahesh Manjrekar
4.  Loktak Lairembee (Manipuri) -- Haoban Paban Kumar
5.  Bastu Shaap (Bengali) - Kaushik Ganguly
6.  Veeram Macbeth (Malayalam) -  Jayaraj Rajasekharan Nair
7.   Ekk Albela (Marathi) - Shekhar Sartandel
8.   Kaadu Pookkunna Neram (Malayalam) -- Dr.Biju
9.   U Turn (Kannada) - Pawan Kumar
10.  Ishti (Sanskrit) - G. Prabha
11.  Shankhachil (Bengali) - Gautam Ghose
12.  Irudhi Sutru (Tamil) - Sudha Kongara
13.  Pinky Beauty Parlour (Hindi) - Akshay Singh
14.  Mantra (English) - Nicholas Kharkongor
15.  Ringan (Marathi) - Makaramd Mane
16.  Onaatah (Khasi) - Pradip Kurbah
17.  Chitrokar (Bengali) - Saibal Mitra
18.  Sahaj Paather Gappo Colours of Innocence (Bengali) - Manas Mukul Pal
19.  K Sera Sera (Konkani) - Rajeev Shinde
20.  Allama (Kannada) - T S Nagabharna
21.  Sairat (Marathi) -  Nagraj Manjule
22.  Dikchow Banat Palaax (Assamese) - Sanjib Sabhapandit
23.  Baahubali (Best  Feature Film in 63rd NFA) (Telugu) - S.S Rajamouli    
24.  Bajirao Mastani (Hindi) - Sanjay Leela Bhansali
25.  Airlift (Hindi) - Raja Krishna Menon
26.  Sultan (Hindi) - Ali Abbas Jaffar
The Jury has recommended Sanskrit film Ishti as the opening feature film of Indian Panorama 2016.
The Jury for Feature Films included filmmakers Rama Vij, Arup Manna, C. V. Reddy, Girish Mohite, N. Krishnakumar, Sabyasachi Mohapatra and Ahathian, writer and filmmaker Uday Shankar Pani, writer K. Puttaswamy, drector and columnist Sanjay Pawar and critics and journalists Satinder Mohan and Swapan Mullick.
The Non-Feature Films Jury chaired by well-known documentary filmmaker Arvind Sinha has picked 21 films out of 198 eligible entries. The seven-member jury took 15 days to finalize the selections. 
The following is the list of non-feature films selected for the Panorama:
1.    The Wind in the Maruwa - Sankhajit Biswas (Bengali)
2.    Taandav - Devashish Makhija (Hindi)
3.    Paywat - Mithun Chandra Chowdhary (Marathi)
4.    In return, Just a Book - Shiny Jacob Benjamin (Malayalam)
5.   Gudh - Saurav Rai (Nepali)
6.   Cecilia - Pankaj Johar - English 
7.   Guns and Guitars – a musical travelogue - Bidyut Kotoky (English)
8.   Randu Kurippukal - Gireesh Kumar.K (Malayalam)
9.   Gods in Shackles - Sangita Iyer (English)
10.  Memories of a forgotten war - Utpal Borpujari (English)
11.  Ima Sabitri - Bobo KH (Manipuri) 
12.  Earth Crusader - Shabnam Sukhdev (English)
13.  Bachchha Saheb - Saikat Sekhareswar Ray (Bengali)
14.  Ormayude Athirvarambukal - Sudesh Balan (Malayalam)
15.  Chaukat - Umesh Mohan Bagade (Marathi)
16.  Edpa Kana - Niranjan Kumar Kujur (Hindi)
17.  Sabin Alun - Altaf Mazid Karbi (Assam) 
18.  Samann - Billu Paul (Haryanvi)
19.  Daayra - Sonia Saharan (Haryanvi)
20.  Daaravtha - Nishant Roy Bombarde (Marathi)
21.  Amdavad Ma Famous - Hardik Mehta (Gujarati)
Amdavad Ma Famous, winner of the award for the Best Non-Feature Film of the 63rd National Film Awards 2016 has been included in the Panorama as a direct entry as per the regulations of the festival.
The Jury for Non-Feature Films consisted of documentary filmmakers        Aarti Srivastava, Abhijit Mazumdar, Ronel Haobam, animation filmmaker Gautam Benegal, writer and director Madhureeta Anand, critic and filmmaker Suresh Sharma.
Ima Sabitri has been chosen as the opening non-feature film.

Rashtriya Sanskriti Mahotsav 2016 opens in Delhi

A 10-day-long ‘Rashtriya Sanskriti Mahotsav - 2016’, a cultural festival showcasing arts and craft forms and culinary delights from all over the country, is currently on at the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA) in the national capital.
The festival, inaugurated by Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Saturday, features performances by more than 400 artistes, highlighting different dance forms including folk and tribal, accompanied with aerial acts.
Mr Rajnath Singh, referring to unity in diversity, said it was culture that binds people together. He applauded the efforts of Ministry of Culture in organizing the event which gives people from different regions a chance to showcase their talent, artworks and delicacies on one platform.
Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma said, “We are delighted to bring to you the Rashtriya Sanskriti Mahotsav 2016, a cultural festival that will powerfully revive India’s heritage, like never before.
“The event has brought together the art, artisans, dance, handicrafts, flavours and music from different regions, making itself the largest ensemble of Indian culture. While this event introduced and connected country’s youth to the various facets of our rich and vibrant culture, it also gave people from different regions a chance to showcase their talent, artworks and delicacies at a larger-than-life podium,” he added.  
The Minister also referred to a 12-member Ramayan group from Thailand, which showcased Indian culture in “a different yet appealing style”.
A coffee table book on “Mandu” and a DVD on “Vandalism” brought out by Zonal Cultural Centres were released on the occasion.
The festival showcases a wide variety of tribal and classical art forms from across the country accompanied by dance, music, drama, entertainment and food.
The 24- acre IGNCA campus has come alive with 35 food stalls, showcasing an assortment of regional cuisines such as ‘Makhan Malai’ from Lucknow’, Bamboo shoot’ from Nagaland, sweet delicacies such as ‘Jaleba’ from Haryana and many more.
A play, showcasing the abduction of Sita by Ravana played by a group from Thailand sponsored by the ICCR, was appreciated by the audience. 
The pulsating festival also highlights crafts and art forms along with a photo exhibition, depicting the rich heritage of India.
Nagaland Governor Padmanabha Acharya was the chief guest of the second evening of the festival yesterday.
Presented by the North East Zone Cultural Centre, Dimapur, the evening featured performances from Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim and Tripura. 
The War Dance, also known as Aao Naga, was highly appreciated by the audience. Renowned singer and music director Zubeen Garg was the centre of attraction as the audience danced to his tunes. Another highlight was Tashi-Lama, a 2005 Grammy nominee for World Music Album, whose chants mesmerised the audience.
The festival is being webcast here to extend its reach.
Bharatanatyam exponent will be among the star performers this evening. The festival will continue till October 24.

KKR-backed Emerald Media invests $50mn in YuppTV

Emerald Media, a pan-Asian platform established by investment firm KKR for investing in the media and entertainment sector, yesterday  announced that it has acquired a significant minority stake in YuppTV for $50mn. 
YuppTV is one of the world’s leading over-the-top (OTT) video platforms for South Asian content offering live TV, catch-up TV and movies on-demand in 14 languages across the globe. 
The growth capital will enable YuppTV to further its global footprint, expand its content library through original productions and acquisitions, and rapidly grow its paid subscriber base, a press release from the company said.
Headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, YuppTV is an Internet Pay TV platform for South Asians, reaching more than 400 million households across the world. More than 5 million monthly visitors access YuppTV across 27 integrated devices – with a peak monthly traffic of 20 million.
YuppTV offers 250+ South Asian TV channels, 5000+ movies and 100+ TV shows to worldwide audiences, with a focus on the USA, UK, Middle East, Canada, Singapore, Malaysia, Australia, New Zealand and the Caribbean. 
"YuppTV continues to revolutionize the way TV and movies are viewed across the world with over 25,000 hours of entertainment content catalogued in its library, as well as nearly 5,000 hours of new on-demand content added to the YuppTV platform every day," the release said.
According to it, YuppTV has gained considerable popularity in India, having recently launched in the market. With an initial focus on South India, the company has gradually expanded to the rest of the country. It has also recently implemented advanced analytics-based real-time recommendations on Live TV, to make content more discoverable.
Uday Reddy, Promoter and CEO of YuppTV, said, “We couldn’t ask for a stronger partner than Emerald Media. YuppTV is a content distribution platform with a strong consumer connection, and Emerald Media has global media relationships.  We hope to leverage their relationships and existing assets Endemol, OML, Fluence and Graphic India to create original programming and make this platform a next generation distribution and content powerhouse.”
Rajesh Kamat, Managing Director of Emerald Media, said, “Emerald Media believes in driving change and value-creation by providing a distinctive combination of capital, domain knowledge and management bandwidth. The world is moving from traditional consumption to multiscreen delivery mediums. YuppTV provides a unique combination of technology, strong content relationships and revenues of scale and will be an anchor to our vision of building a new age media company.”
Paul Aiello, Managing Director of Emerald Media, added, “Uday and his team have created an exceptional online video platform with a loyal subscriber base that realizes the huge potential of the global Indian diaspora. Our investment and relationship will enable YuppTV to further their strong leadership position in the rapidly growing OTT space.”
In September 2015, YuppTV had raised its Series A round of funding from Poarch Creek Indian Tribe of Alabama.  YuppTV has had over 10 million mobile app downloads, in addition to 50 million pre-installs on Samsung TVs worldwide and 300,000+ downloads on LG Smart TV, making it one of the most downloaded Smart TV Apps. The YuppTV app is also the second most popular app in Android Play store in India (Entertainment) and the only South Asian app available on PS3 & PS4. In addition, YuppTV has launched its exclusive on-demand movie streaming service, YuppFlix, which is backed by a library of more than 5000 movies across various languages, the release said.

Manju Warrier weaves magic with Kuchipudi recital

Actress-dancer Manju Warrier during a Kuchipudi recital at the Soorya Dance and Music Festival 2016 in Thiruvananthapuram on October 9, 2016.
Actress-dancer Manju Warrier during a Kuchipudi recital at the Soorya Dance and Music Festival 2016 in Thiruvananthapuram on October 9, 2016.
Devotion in both its rapturous and sublime forms, agony that seals separation in love and jubilance that only an impending festival can bring: these were some of the moods that well-known actress-dancer Manju Warrier created on stage during her Kuchipudi recital at the Soorya Dance and Music Festival 2016 at the Tagore Theatre here yesterday.
Manju began her recital with Ananda Natanam Adum Vinayaka, a Ganesha Stuthi that depicted the rapturous dance of bliss by Lord Ganapathi, the beloved Elephant God who is also the bestower of smooth transitions and successful endings.  The composition was penned by Madhurai R Muralidharan and was set to ragam Gowla and Adithalam.
The audiences witnessed an episode in Lord Krishna's life through Ati Nirupama Sundarangara where she depicted Satyabhama and Rukmini, their consort Lord Krishna and Sage Narada who came to inspect how the Lord is managing wives' quarrels. The composition on sublime devotion was penned by the 18th century poet Oothukadu Venkatasubbaiar and was set to ragam Panthuvarali and Adithala. 
The audience shared Radha’s pangs of separation as Manju brought the divine lover on the stage via Bhakta-kavi Jayadeva’s Astapadi. The composition was set to raga Darbari Kanada and adithalam.
The mood of torment and pathos soon changed with a depiction of Lord Shiva’s cosmic dance, Anandanadam Aduvar Thille. The keerthanam was composed by Neelakanda Sivan and was set to ragam poorvikalyani and thalam Roopakam.
The recital was brought to a grand and elaborate finale with a thillana wherein a village readied itself to celebrate Lord Muruga’s birthday on Thrikarthika. The composition by Lalgudi S Jayaram was set to ragam Kamas and Adithalam.  
Geetha Padmakumar who was on the Nattuvangam choreographed the recital. Bijeesh Krishna brought the music to life through his soulful voice with accompanying artistes Kalamandalam Charudutt on Mridangam, Suresh Namboodiri on violin, Vivek Shenoy on flute and Murali Krishna on Veena.
Manju Warrier is one of the most popular actors in Malayalam cinema. She has acted in 27 Malayalam movies, most of which became superhits. She won a special jury mention by the National Award jury in 1999 for her role in Kannezhuthi Pottum Thottu. She is a celebrated danseuse and is known for her Kuchipudi performances. Kerala Sangeetha Nataka Akademi has awarded her Kalashree title for her contributions to Kuchipudi.
She has also forayed into the theatre by enacting Shakuntala in the Sanskrit play Abhijnana Shakutalam written by Mahakavi Kalidasa and directed by the late Kavalam Narayana Panikkar. 

Sangeet Natak Akademi fellowship conferred on dancer C. V Chandrasekhar

President Pranab Mukherjee today conferred the Sangeet Natak Akademi’s Fellowship on eminent Bharatanatyam exponent Prof. C. V. Chandrasekhar and distributed the Akademi Awards for 2015 at a function in Rashtrapati Bhavan.
Prominent among the 43 award winners were Hindustani vocalists Krishna Bisht and Mashkoor Ali Khan besides joint award winners for Carnatic vocal music, R N Thyagarajan and R N Tharanathan. 
The award winners were drawn from the fields of Music, Dance, Theatre, Traditional/Folk/Tribal Music/Dance/Theatre and Puppetry besides Overall contribution/scholarship in Performing Arts.
The Sangeet Natak Akademi’s Fellowships (Akademi Ratna) and Sangeet Natak Akademi Awards (Akademi Puraskar) are recognized as the most coveted national honours bestowed on performing artists as well as teachers and scholars in the field of performing arts.
The Fellowship of the Akademi is the most prestigious and rare honour, which is restricted to 40 numbers at a given time. At present, there are only 40 Fellows of the Sangeet Natak Akademi.
The General Council of the Akademi had also selected 43 artistes from the fields of Music, Dance, Theatre, Traditional/Folk/Tribal Music/Dance/Theatre and Puppetry and Overall contribution/scholarship in Performing Arts for the Sangeet Natak Akademi Awards (Akademi Puraskar) for the year 2015.
Kartick Kumar received the award for Hindustani Instrumental Music (sitar), Brij Narayan (Sarod), R Suguna Varadhachari (Carnatic Vocal), Lalgudi G J R Krishnan (Carnatic–Violin), Mambalam M K S Siva (Nagaswaram), Bhupinder Singh, Hridyanath Mangeshkar and Prafulla Kar for Other Major Traditions of Music–Sugam Sangeet.
In the field of Dance, nine eminent artistes were conferred with the award. They are Ranganayaki Jayaraman (Bharatanatyam), K Kunhiraman Nair (Kathakali), G Padmaja Reddy (Kuchipudi), Aloka Kanungo (Odissi), Sharodi Saikia (Sattriya), Mandakini Trivedi (Mohiniattam), Sadashiva Pradhan (Chhau), W Lokendrajit Singh for Contemporary/Experimental Dance and Rajkumar Bharathi for Music for Dance.
In the field of Theatre, nine eminent persons received the awards. They are Nand Kishore Acharya, Shafaat Khan for Playwriting, Parvez Akhtar, Mushtaq Kak for Direction, Manoj N Joshi, Himani Shivpuri for Acting, Pradeep Mulye for Allied Theatre Arts–Scenic Design, Sarojini Nangiar for Other Major Traditions of Theatre–Kutiyattam and Rani Balbir Kaur for Overall Contribution in Theatre.
In Traditional/Folk/Tribal Music/Dance/Theatre and Puppetry, ten artistes got the award.They are Khuman Lal Saav (Folk Music of Chhattisgarh), Ramchandra Singh (Folk Theatre of Bihar), Khem Raj (Folk Music of Jammu and Kashmir), S R D Prasad (Martial Art of Kerala), Chhaya and Maya Khutegaonkar (joint award for Folk Dance of Maharashtra-Lavani), Gangmei Aluna Kabuini (Traditional Dance and Music of Manipur), Paramjit Singh Sidhu (Folk Music of Punjab), Sayeed Sabri Jaipuri (Qawwali, Rajasthan), K K Ramachandra Pulavar and T N Sankaranathan for Puppetry. 
Shanta Gokhale and Chaman Lal Ahuja have been selected for the Akademi Awards 2015 in the field of Overall Contribution/ Scholarship to Performing Arts.
The honour of Akademi Fellow has been conferred since 1954 and Akademi Award since 1952. These honours not only symbolize the highest standard of excellence and achievements, but also recognize sustained individual work and contribution. The honour of Akademi Fellow carries a purse money of Rs 3,00,000 and Akademi Award Rs 1,00,000, besides a Tamrapatra and Angavastram.

Arundhati Roy to publish second novel after gap of 20 years

Arundhati Roy. Photo: Mayank Austen Soofi. Courtesy: Penguin India
Arundhati Roy. Photo: Mayank Austen Soofi. Courtesy: Penguin India
Indian writer and essayist Arundhati Roy will publish her second novel, two decades after the publication of her bestselling The God of Small Things in 1997, which won the Booker Prize.
Publishers Hamish Hamilton UK and Penguin India announced today that they would publish The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Roy in June 2017.
"I am glad to report that the mad souls (even the wicked ones) in The Ministry of Utmost Happiness have found a way into the world, and that I have found my publishers," Roy, 54, said.
Simon Prosser, Publishing Director of Hamish Hamilton and Penguin Books UK, and Meru Gokhale, Editor-in-Chief, Literary Publishing, Penguin Random House India, said, "To publish this book is both a pleasure and an honour.  What an incredible book it is—on multiple levels; one of the finest we have read in recent times."
" The writing is extraordinary, and so too are the characters – brought to life with such generosity and empathy, in language of the utmost freshness, joyfully reminding us that words are alive too, that they can wake us up and lend us new ways of seeing, feeling, hearing, engaging. It makes the novel new – in the original meaning of novel," they said.
"Only Arundhati could have written this novel. Utterly original. It has been 20 years in the making. And well worth the wait," Roy's literary agent David Godwin said.
Roy has written a lot of non-fiction in the intervenining years but this will be her first work of long-form fiction since her debut novel.

Eros International ties up with UAE’s Phars Film for co-production, distribution of Malayalam movies

Film entertainment major Eros International Media Ltd has tied up with Phars Film, the largest film distribution and exhibition network in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
The partnership will entail the two companies jointly co-producing Malayalam films along with exploration of theatrical rights between the two entities. 
The deal licenses Eros to exploit the distribution of all Malayalam movies produced jointly in India, while Phars Films would present the same overseas where it enjoys a dominant market share, a press release from the company said.
“Eros continues to champion strong content led regional cinema, and we have made successful inroads in the Malayalam film industry. Our association with a prominent player like Phars Film to jointly create and release new content further reiterates our vision to scale up in the south industry and continue presenting attractive film content," Mr. Sunil Lulla, Managing Director, Eros International Media Ltd, said.
Mr. Ahmad Golchin, Founder & CEO, Phars Film said, “We are looking forward to partnering with India’s largest film studio with whom we share a common vision to bring the finest content from Malayalam cinema to discerning audiences in India & overseas market.”

SiGNS short film and documentary festival to begin in Kochi on September 28

The 10th edition of the SiGNS short film and documentary festival, oganised by the Federation of Film Societies of India (FFSI), Kerala in association with the Kochi Biennale Foundation (KBF, will begin here on September 28.
The five-day event will screen 200 short films and documentaries at the Ernakulam Town Hall, a press release from the organisers said.
Meanwhile, as part of effort to promote the festival, two-day touring talkies have started at college campus and other venues in and around Kochi.
Touring talkies were held at Union Christian College Aluva,  Amritha College, Edappally, Ernakulam Public Library, and Changampuzha Park, Edappally on Thursday. Screening will be held at St.Alberts college, Government Law College, Maharajas College, Sacred Heart College, Thevara and Vasco de Gama Square,Fort Kochi on Friday.
The guest of honour during the screening at UC College was Shanavas K Bavakkutty, director of  the movie Kismath.
The 10th edition of SiGNS festival will feature a retrospective on the works of Rakesh Sharma and Pramod Pati, a homage section to Iranian film-maker Abbas Kiarostami , litterateur Mahasweta Devi and film-maker Bala Kailasam, a lengthy documentary series named ‘Director’s Pick’ , a package of documentary films from Africa named ‘Artists Cinema ’, a short fiction package curated by  Premendra Majumdar and ‘Best of Insights’, a collection of award winning short films from Haiku film Festival.
Short films and documentaries from 25 Indian languages will be screened under the Competition and Focus sections. Seminars and open forums with filmmakers from around the country will also take place on the sidelines, the release added.

Paresh Maity, Jayasri Burman at Rashtrapati Bhavan as Artists in-Residence

Eminent artists Paresh Maity and his wife Jayasri Burman have commenced their stay in Rashtrapati Bhavan as Artists In-Residence. They will be in residence till October 2.
Mr Maity, born in Tamluk, a small town in West Bengal, studied at Government College of Art, Kolkata and Delhi College of Art. His adventurous, experimental personality has prodded him to explore in all mediums – drawings, watercolours, oils, mixed media, installation and sculptures, photography and filmmaking.
His uniqueness lies in his rediscovering the charm, flavour and magic of India in his paintings. Mr Maity has had 71 solo exhibitions to his credit held all over the world including India, Hong Kong, Singapore, Germany, France, United Kingdom and United States of America.
On the occasion of Rabindranath Tagore's 150th birth anniversary, an exhibition of watercolours 'Shesh Lekha' was organized by him at the National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi and Mumbai. His latest painting, one of the longest in the world at 800 feet, is on display at T3 Terminal at Indira Gandhi Airport, New Delhi.
Ms. Burman, born in Calcutta, is a contemporary Indian artist. She studied at the Kala Bhavan in Shantiniketan and at the Government College of Art and Craft, Kolkata. She works mainly in watercolour, using rich strong hues and bold themes with a mythic element—strange hybrid animals with human heads, female figures. She has won several prizes for her art. Her work has been exhibited in India and overseas.
The ‘In-Residence’ programme was launched by the President on December 11, 2013 with the aim of providing writers and artists an opportunity to stay and be a part of the life of Rashtrapati Bhavan.
The programme seeks to provide an environment which will inspire creative thinking and rejuvenate artistic impulses. It is intended to honour and recognize eminent and established artists and writers as well as encourage young upcoming talent from different parts of the country.
Eminent artist and MP, Jogen Choudhury, author Amitav Ghosh and scholar Prof. Ranjan Banerjee are among those who have stayed in Rashtrapati Bhavan under this programme. 
Sculptor Subodh Gupta and his wife, artist Bharti Kher, will stay in Rashtrapati Bhavan as part of the programme in November this year.

BRICS Film Festival opens with Malayalam movie “Veeram”

The First BRICS Film Festival opened here today with the screening of the Malayalam movie, ‘Veeram’ directed by Jayaraj Rajasekharan Nair.
Jayaraj, a National Award winning director, had made the film, said to be the most expensive Malayalam movie with a budget of Rs 20 crore. It has  Kunal Kapoor in the lead role and is an adaptation of William Shakespeare’s play “Macbeth”.  The film has a Hindi version also.
Earlier, at a press conference prior to the inauguration of the five-day festival, delegates from BRICS countries emphasized on leveraging the culture, filming techniques and the market of the member nations. BRICS brings together the world’s biggest emerging nations-- Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
The festival is a precursor to the 8th BRICS Summit being hosted by India in Goa on October 15-16.  
Present at the press conference were Mr. Hugo Lorenzetti Neto (Brazil), Mr. Kirill Razligov (Russia), Mr. C. Senthil Rajan (India), Mr. Zhou Jiandong (China) and Ms. Monica Newton (South Africa).
”Films made in a country connect to at least one of the other nations. The movies for the festival have been specially selected to showcase culture, art and history of the countries they are made in,” Mr Neto said.
Mr Razligov expressed the hope that discussions at the film festival will help in a better understanding the complexities and art of film making by the member nations. “We all need to work in cooperation and create films together to bring people closer,” he added.
Mr. Senthil Rajan, Director, Directorate of Film Festivals (DFF) said, “The BRICS Film Festival will begin a new journey to witness the growth of the rich cinema of the five countries."
“This step will be leveraged as a bridge to take cinema making to a new level through the exchange of techniques, art and ideas. Furthermore, the festival will serve as an opportunity for the people to interact and learn the culture of the participating nations,” he added.
Highlighting the role of cinema in creating friendly relations, Mr. Zhou  said, “Indian films from the period of 1970-80 were quite famous in China and today, we have movies like Xuan Zang, where the actors of China and India have worked together to create a masterpiece. Cinema plays a key role in creating harmonious relations as the films speak universal language to the world.”
Ms Newton said, “BRICS Film Festival is first of its kind, which will bring the masses together. This festival is an amazing canvas to exchange the art work of the five countries that has never been done before.
“For a young country like South Africa, the sphere of innovation and development in cinema is large, where we are learning from the member nations,” she added.
The cultural diversity of the nations will also be portrayed through the Craft Fair organized at the festival venue, where the member countries will set up their stalls with souvenirs and products for sale.
During this 5-day bioscope of culture, art, films and food, visitors could explore exclusive cuisines from all the BRICS nations at the Food Court, arranged at the festival venue.
Starting tomorrow, the film festival will have special meets with the cast and crew from the five nations, movie screenings and ‘Film Panchayats.’ Panel discussions will be held with renowned personalities on topics ranging from Cinema and nation building, Women in BRICS Cinema, BRICS co-production , Opportunities and Challenges, and so on.

NFAI to support States in safeguarding country’s cinematic heritage: Mittal

The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting was exploring possibilities of extending financial and technical support to State Governments to safeguard the country’s cinematic heritage, Mr Ajay Mittal, Secretary, Information and Broadcasting said today.
This objective has to be achieved in collaboration with State Governments, he said on the sidelines of a High Level Committee meeting on National Film Heritage Mission held at the National Film Archive of India (NFAI) here.
He said a High Level Committee had reviewed the progress of the National Film Heritage Mission and taken some major decisions to expand its horizons. The mission would ensure not only the preservation of film heritage but also its dissemination and access to the last mile. This would enable awareness among youth and children about the country's rich cultural heritage, he added.
Appreciating the efforts of officers at NFAI in implementing the Mission, he said all necessary steps were being undertaken to involve international organizations and institutions to ensure the project’s implementation as per global standards. NFAI’s facilities would be augmented by creating new state of the art vaults in its premises, he said.
Speaking about the need of enhancing research on Indian cinema, Mr Mittal said the Government was exploring the possibility of extending NFAI’s research fellowship to the University level through formal institutional mechanisms.
NFAI would reach out to major Universities for short and long term courses in the area of film studies incorporating subject of film archiving and preservation. This would ensure building of skilled manpower in the niche area of film preservation, he said.
The meeting was attended by senior officers of the Ministry including Mr Subhash Sharma, Additional Secretary, I&B, Mr Sanjay Murthy, Joint Secretary, I&B, Mr Mukesh Sharma, DG, Films Division, Mr Prakash Magdum, Director, NFAI, Mr Santosh Ajmera, Officer on Special Duty, NFHM along with film-makers Jahnu Barua and Rajeev Mehrotra.
National Film Heritage Mission is a prestigious project of the Government  for digitization, restoration, preservation and conservation of Country’s rich filmic heritage. The mission has a budgetary outlay of Rs. 597.41 crore and is to be implemented till 2021.
National Film Archive of India is the implementing agency for the mission. The High Level Committee chaired by Secretary I&B has been mandated to oversee project’s implementation as per envisaged objectives of the Mission.

Puneet Issar excels in title role in “Raavan ki Ramayan”

Puneet Issar in the title role in “Raavan ki Ramayan”, staged by the Films and Theatre Society, in Delhi on August 6, 2016.
Puneet Issar in the title role in “Raavan ki Ramayan”, staged by the Films and Theatre Society, in Delhi on August 6, 2016.
Ravana, reviled as a villain in the mythological epic Ramayana and whose effigies are burnt every year during Dusshera, gets a fresh look from his perspective in the play, “Raavan ki Ramayan.”
Written and directed by Atul Satya Kaushik of the Films and Theatre Society, a group of youngsters working in varied fields brought together by a love for theatre and films, the play staged here over the weekend features Bollywood actor Puneet Issar as Ravana.
The opening scene had Ravana at Kailash, the remote, cold and snowbound abode of Lord Shiva, who is sitting in deep meditation. Ravana, through the sonorous chanting of the prayers that he himself composed, arouses the Lord to a state of Tandava, the cosmic dance.
Ravana, the King of Lanka, who has not only conquered all the three worlds but is also a great scholar besides being well-versed in all the arts, had come to Shiva to seek boons to increase his powers further. Despite warnings from Shiva that such powers would lead to overweening pride that would be his ultimate downfall, he persists with his demand and wins the sword of Shiva, the ‘Chandrahasam’ that makes him practically invincible.
Kaushik weaves in contemporary social issues in the litany of complaints that Ravan, who is of mixed parentage, half Brahmin and half Asura, has against the Devas (celestial beings). Referring to the churning of the ocean of milk for which the Devas had sought Asuras' help, he says all the good things that came up during the process were appropriated by the Devas.
The same theme of alienation continues into the next scene, when Ravana’s sister Surpanakha, rushes into the court, wailing that she had been disfigured by Lakshmana, when all she wanted was to marry Rama. She tries to provoke Ravana into action by saying that though he had conquered the world, his writ runs only in Lanka.
Soorpanakha, who was berated by her grandfather Paulasthya, for wandering about unchecked, says it was in fact her brother Ravana, who killed her husband (shades of honour killing) and then told her she was free to go and choose anyone as her husband.  
Elsewhere, the ascetics freely wander about wherever they want and even write treatises on beauty that discriminates against those who look different. Despite warnings from his grandfather Paulasthya, Ravana decides to avenge Surpanakha’s disfigurement by abducting Sita, Rama’s wife, who had accompanied him to the forest to share his 14-year exile.
He declares that unlike Lakshmana, he would not touch Sita but would keep her in Lanka till Rama comes to claim her and then battle it out.
The next scene depicts Ram and Sita in their Ashram. Ram wants to recite a poem that he just wrote, but Sita, busy with household chores, has no time for romance. Instead, she asks him to go out and get something to cook.
Ram wins her over by saying he would try to catch one of the golden deer he saw early in the morning. He cautions her not to step out of the hut till he or Lakshman, who had also gone out, returns.
However, Ravana, in the guise of a Sadhu abducts her and takes her to Lanka, keeping her in the ‘Asoka Vatika’. Here she is visited by Ravana’s queen, Mandodari, who wants to find out why her husband has become enamoured of her.
Though burning with lust, Ravana decides not to touch Sita till the name of Rama is in her heart. She, on her part, does not hear any of the entreaties of the King of Lanka, keeping her mind fixed on Rama.
By this time, Ravana’s brother Vibhishana, has defected to Rama’s side and is on the other side of the ocean, where Rama’s army of monkeys and bears are about to build a bridge to cross over. Ram wants to perform a puja to Lord Shiva to succeed in his mission to invade Lanka but no Brahmin is available.
On Vibhishana’s advice, Ravan, who is half Brahmin, is invited and being a Brahmin he cannot refuse. Filled with ego at his being a favourite of Lord Shiva, he agrees and performs the puja.
In the final battle, Ravana is defeated, his children killed in the battle and the once prosperous island laid waste.
Puneet Issar impresses as Ravana, on account of his stage presence, helped by his 6 foot three inch frame, rippling muscles due to the workouts that he continues with despite being in his 50s. Ram and Lakshman, in contrast, look ascetic and puny, though authentic, with long hair, moustache and beard.
Veteran BJP leader LK Advani was the chief guest, who lit the lamp and spoke of how his daughter Pratibha, kindled in him a love for film and theatre. Veteran Bollywood actor Raza Murad, who gave commentary for the play, also found himself mobbed by selfie takers during the interval.
The stage settings were kept to the minimum. A raised stage at the back served to keep the throne of Ravana in the durbar scenes as also as Sita’s kitchen in the Ashram scenes. The two platforms on both sides of the stage also served such purposes in various scenes. The costumes were more elaborate, on the lines of the mythological TV serials.
This is not the first time that Kaushik has taken up themes from Indian mythology. In 2013, he had staged “Draupadi”, a play set in a Haryana village, that also had a play within the play with women enacting the story of the princess who had to take all the five Pandava brothers as husband, despite only Arjuna winning her in an archery skill contest.     

First ever Festival of India in Australia

The first ever Festival of India in Australia will be held from August to November this year in seven cities across the country, Minister of State for Culture and Tourism Dr Mahesh Sharma said today.
The festival would present some of the finest elements of India’s classical and contemporary culture through a variety of dance, music, theatre, visual arts and textiles, the Minister informed the Rajya Sabha in a written reply.
The festival is being organized under the aegis of the Ministry of Culture with the support of Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) and India Tourism. It has also received local support. 
The festival is coordinated by the High Commission of India in Australia.
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