Manju Warrier denies reports about incident during shooting for Udaharanam Sujatha

Manju Warrier
Manju Warrier
Leading Malayalam film actress Manju Warrier has denied some recent online media reports which suggested that some  people had threatened her during the shooting for her latest movie Udaharanam Sujatha at Chenkalchoola, Thiruvananthapuram.
"I am shooting for my latest movie, Udaharanam Sujatha, at Chenkalchoola, Thiruvananthapuram since the first week of May. From the first day of shoot, the people of Chenkalchoola have provided unprecedented support for me and team for the movie. They have given me lots of love and respect and I will remain indebted to them for the consideration and concern that I have received from the people," she said in a statement here.
"However, during the last few days, I have been noticing a few attempts in several online media to alienate and antagonize the people of Chenkalchoola against my colleagues and me. This has been effected by the unnecessary exaggeration of an event where nobody from Chenkalchoola was involved. During one of the days at the location, a group approached us and invited me for a book distribution event. They insisted that I attend the event even when I had regretted after informing them about the requirement for the movie and make-up related details. When we found that the group is adamant, we explained to them that it’s not possible because of the requirements of the special make-up that I need to keep on through the day. I had spoken to them personally and conveyed the message through my colleagues. When the group understood that we are conveying the truth, they left the location amicably," Ms. Warrier said.
"It is this incident that has been exaggerated as one where people pointed knives at me and threatened to kill me. The perpetrators of the news added masala by saying that it is an attempt by someone in the field of cinema. I am saddened at the baseless allegations that are being leveled against my colleagues. There has been no incident of anyone pointing their finger at me in Chenkalchoola, let alone daggers.
"I apologize for the discomfort caused by me and team Udaharanam Sujatha to the people of Chenkalchoola, Thiruvananthapuram," the statement added.

Harper’s Bazaar India launches coffee table book "Iconic"

Kajol launches Harper's Bazaar India's book 'Iconic'
Fashion magazine Harper’s Bazaar India, in partnership with jewellery brand Tanishq, launched its first-ever coffee table book Iconic! Ideas & Inspirations Behind The World’s Biggest Brands here yesterday with actor Kajol, who completes 25 years in the film industry and graces Bazaar India’s May cover. 
The book traces the legacies of some of the biggest brands across fashion, jewellery, beauty and hospitality and looks at what it takes to be iconic, a press release from the magazine said.
This year, Harper’s Bazaar celebrates its 150th anniversary, making it the world’s oldest fashion magazine. The book, then, also pays homage to the brand’s own respected history.
The event had guests dance to music by Ukrainian DJ Teri Miko. It also offered guests an exclusive preview of Tanishq’s Red Carpet Collection with models like Sonalee Kumar, Vidushi Mehra, Ayesha Chenoy, Shabnam Singhal, Geetika Mittal Gulati, Kiran Lohia and Payal Sen wearing jewellery from the collection.
“Every piece is studded with precious gem stones which is further accentuated by the unrivalled splendor of luminescent diamonds. This collection will truly enable any woman to live the ‘red carpet moment’ of her dreams,” said Deepika Tewari – GM Marketing, Titan jewellery division. 
Later, models wearing gowns by Amit Aggarwal showcased select pieces from Tanishq’s red carpet collection while Mr. Sandeep Kulhallo, VP (R&M) of Tanishq addressed the guests.

Mukherjee presents Presidential Awards for Classical Tamil

President Pranab Mukherjee presented the Presidential Awards for Classical Tamil for the years 2013-14, 2014-15 and 2015-16 at Rashtrapati Bhavan here today.
The awards were instituted to give recognition and honour to distinguished scholars who have made an outstanding contribution to Classical Tamil language and literature, an official press release said.
The following is the list of awardees:
Tholkappiyar Award: Dr. S. N. Kandaswamy (2013-14), Dr. A. Dakshinamurthy (2014-15) and Dr. R. Kalaikkovan (2015-16).
Young Scholar Awards: Dr. Ula. Balasubramaniyan, Dr. Kalai. Chezhian, Dr. S. Rajalakshmi, Dr. T. Mahalakshmi and Dr. S. P. Salavanisree (2013-14); Dr. A. Sathish, Dr. J. Muthuselvan, Dr. P. Thirugnanasammandam, Dr. M. Vasanthakumari and Dr. G. Sathish (2014-15); Dr. M. Vanitha, Dr. V. Prakash, Dr. S. Premkumar, Dr. G. Balaji, and Dr. M. Munees Moorthy (2015-16).

Mukherjee confers National Film Awards, K. Viswanath receives Phalke Award

Bollywood star Akshay Kumar receiving the Best Actor Award from President Pranab Mukherjee at the 64th National Film Awards ceremony in New Delhi on May 3, 2017.
Bollywood star Akshay Kumar receiving the Best Actor Award from President Pranab Mukherjee at the 64th National Film Awards ceremony in New Delhi on May 3, 2017.
President Pranab Mukherjee today said the Government's initiative of creating a Film Promotion fund would promote and motivate talented independent filmmakers to promote their work across the globe in various international film festivals.
Speaking after presenting the 64th National Film Awards at a glittering function at Vigyan Bhavan here, Mr. Mukherjee pointed out that India has more than 200 languages, seven major religions and three major ethnic groups.
Yet, India's huge population lives under one system and one Constitution, and Indian cinema reflects this underlying unity of the diverse nation, he said.
"Like the diversity of life, there might be diversity in the Indian film industry but it conveys the common message of universal brotherhood, tolerance, cooperation and co-existence.  Cinema conveys the broad message of humanity and the best of Indian cinema has received the recognition of the nation today," he said.
Mr. Mukherjee said Indians could be argumentative but not intolerant as there was no place for an intolerant Indian in the country's civilizational ethos and culture. 
He said he was happy that Indian cinema had not forgotten to convey this message to the people.   He said that it was heartening to see so many young people being awarded on the occasion.  It was an assurance that the country can feel safe and secure that its national interests will be well protected in the future too.  
Minister for Information & Broadcasting M.Venkaiah Naidu and Minister of State for Information & Broadcasting Rajyavardhan Rathore were also present on the occasion. 
On the occasion,the President congratulated all the award winners, particularly renowned filmmaker and actor K Vishwanath, the Dadasaheb Phalke award winner this year for his outstanding contribution to the growth and development of Indian cinema.  A presenter of classical and traditional art, music and dance, Viswanath has been a guiding force in the Indian film industry.
Mr. Naidu said Indian cinema had remarkably showcased the vast richness of the country's cultural diversity, its beautiful landscapes and languages and had been a great unifying force in promoting national integration. He also called upon all the stakeholders to reflect on creative, constructive and meaningful engagement through the medium of cinema. Care and caution should be taken while depicting stories of tragedy, he said.
The Minister urged the film industry to join hands with the Government to facilitate mission MODI (Making of Developed India) in view of the strong influence of cinema on society and its values. He said the movies which had won awards focused on a variety of issues and themes ranging from discrimination, love, historical relationships and relevant social challenges. 
Mr. Naidu also congratulated the jury chairpersons and their teams who have brought out the best of Indian cinema under one roof. The Feature Film Central panel was headed by Priyadarshan, an eminent filmmaker. The Chairperson for Non-Feature Film Jury was Raju Mishra while the Chairperson for Writing Jury was Bhawana Somaaya. The Most Film Friendly State award jury was chaired by Radha Krishna Jagarlamudi, a popular director in Telugu film industry.
Some of the prominent winners in various categories for this year National Film Awards included Marathi movie Kasaav in Best Feature Film category and Fireflies in the Abyss in the Non-Feature Film Category. 
Bollywood star Akshay Kumar received the Best Actor award for his role in Rustom and Surabhi the Best Actress award for her role in Malayalam film Minnaminungu – the Firefly.
Kasaav, directed by Sumitra Bhave and Sunil Sukthankar and produced by them along with Mohan Agashe, was chosen for its perfect blending of an environmental behaviour and a personal one in a poignantly beautiful cinematic way. 
Akshay Kumar was chosen for his "perfect portrayal of a character caught in personal and social turmoil" while Surabhi got the award for her brilliance in portraying pain and ecstasy of a mother in a deplorable social condition.
Rajesh Mapuskar was given the Best Direction award for Marathi movie Ventilator.
Fireflies in the Abyss won the Best Film award in the Non-Feature Films category. Actress Sonam Kapoor got a Special Mention in the Feature Films category for her role in the movie Neerja.
The Best Film Critic award was given to G. Dhananjayan for his in-depth analysis on a wide range of topics such as film genres, brands, new strategies in movie watching, taxation impact and ticket pricing. 
Special Mention Award was given to the K.P. Jayashankar and Anjali Monteiro for the book ‘A fly in the Curry’. Best Book on Cinema award was given to ‘Lata- Sur Gatha’ authored by Yatindra Mishra.
Special Jury Award in the Feature category was given to Malayalam superstar Mohan Lal for his mastery in dealing with characters of various shades with unparallel acting brilliance. Special Jury Award in the Non-Feature category was given to ‘The Cinema Travellers’. 
This year, a new category ‘Best on-location Sound Recordist’ in the Non-Feature Film section was also introduced.
Uttar Pradesh was awarded the Most Film Friendly State award for implementing a unique film policy. The State’s Film Policy included various measures to create a suitable environment, which not only invited shooting of films on a large scale in the State but also promoted other activities related to various aspects of film production including financial incentives for filmmakers.
Jharkhand was given Special Mention Award for its Film Policy which provided growth opportunities to the local filmmaking talent from within the State.
Movies in the languages other than those specified in the VIII Schedule of the constitution in the feature Film categories were also awarded. The award for the best Moran Film was given to Haanduk while best Tulu film was given to Madipu.

Society should rise to preserve, promote and propagate art & literature: Mukherjee

The President, Shri Pranab Mukherjee presenting the 52nd Jnanpith Award to Prof. Sankha Ghosh, in New Delhi on April 27, 2017.
President Pranab Mukherjee has called upon society as a whole to rise to the task of preserving, promoting and propagating art and literature since efforts on the part of the government alone could never be sufficient.
Conferring the 52nd Jnanpith Award on eminent Bengali poet, critic and academician, Prof. Sankha Ghosh here yesterday, Mr Mukherjee called upon philanthropists and the corporate cector takes the leadership role.
“Such efforts are indeed a part of corporate social responsibility and I exhort the captains of industry to take a keen interest in this aspect of literary advocacy,” he added.
The President said the French, the Russian, the Chinese, the Japanese or the Spanish establish beyond doubt that societies overwhelmed by non-indigenous languages seldom achieve greatness. “Our nation is many notches above in this aspect since it has, over the centuries, had the capacity of not only surviving but assimilating the foreign into the indigenous.
“It is therefore, necessary that while we keep our minds open to all linguistic influences, we continuously strive to promote and perpetuate our indigenous linguistic and literary heritage,” he added.
“Gurudev Rabindra Nath Tagore’s Geetanjali enthralled the world. There is a need to take the creative genius of Indian languages to the world audience. There is a vast international audience that awaits exposure to our vernacular literature and it will be only natural for us to respond to their urge,” Mr Mukherjee said.
“I remain hopeful that we will leave no stone unturned and the Bhartiya Jnanpith will play a leading role in achieving that,” he added. The President also referred to the contributions of Sahu Shanti Prasad Jain and late Rama Jain, whose efforts in promoting Indian languages and literature and establishing the Bhartiya Jnanpith remain exemplary.
About Prof. Sankho Ghosh, the President said as a poet and critique par excellence, a teacher of reputation, a recipient of the Sahitya Akademi award, way back in 1977, he was indeed the most deserving recipient of this award.
A professor of Bengali and an authority in his own right on the works of Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore, Padma Bhushan award winner Prof. Ghosh “represents the fluid brilliance that characterizes India’s multifarious literary genius. It is indeed an example of his brilliant fluidity that an author who strove to master Bengali academically, expressed himself in perhaps the most difficult literary genre of poetry,” he added.
Mr Mukherjee said that in conferring the award on Prof. Ghosh, the selection board noted that his poetic idiom and experiments with various poetic forms mark his greatness as a creative talent. They also observed that his poetry, while conveying messages, remained free from polemics. 
“One look at his works, be it Adim Lata- Gulmomay, Murkho Baro Samajik Noy or Baborer Prarthana, to name a few, and one would be left in no doubt about every word of the observations mentioned by the selection board to be to the point and correct,” he added.
As an ardent writer of Bengali poetry, his literary works reflect a rare poetic style that encompasses not only a lyrical style but also a deep reflection of the social milieu. His poetry often takes on superficiality in the society and provides a candid commentary on contemporary issues, Mr Mukherjee said.

Renowned filmmaker Kasinadhuni Viswanath chosen for Dadasaheb Phalke Award 2016

K. Viswanath. Photo: Bishek, Wikipedia
K. Viswanath. Photo: Bishek, Wikipedia
Renowned film director and actor Kasinadhuni Viswanath has been chosen for the prestigious Dadasaheb Phalke Award for 2016 -- the top honour in Indian cinema -- for his outstanding contribution to the growth and development of the industry.
An official press release said here today that Information and Broadcasting Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu had approved the recommendation of the Dadasaheb Phalke Award committee. 
The award, conferred by the Government of India, consists of a Swarn Kamal (Golden Lotus), a cash prize of Rs. 10 lakh and a shawl. The award will be conferred by President Pranab Mukherjee at a function at Vigyan Bhavan here on May 3.
A presenter of classical and traditional art, music and dance, K Viswanath has been a guiding force in the Indian film industry. As a director, he has made fifty films since 1965 known for their strong content, endearing narrative, honest handling and cultural authenticity. His films on a wide range of social and human issues had great appeal to the masses, the release said.
Viswanath was born in February 1930 at Gudivadain Andhra Pradesh. An ardent art lover, he made a series of films based on varied themes of art, music and dance. His films empathized with courage and frailty, aspirations and convictions, perseverance and distractions, social demands and individual struggle and at the core believed in the goodness of the human spirit.
His contributions have received recognition in the form of the Padma Shri award in 1992 by the Government of India for his contribution to film making. He has also been awarded five National Awards, 20 Nandi Awards (awarded by the State Government of Andhra Pradesh) and 10 Filmfare Awards including Lifetime Achievement Award. His national award winning Swathi Muthyam was India’s official entry to the 59th Academy Awards in the Best Foreign Film category.
The stories that Viswanath told through his films were seemingly simple. They provide an uncomplicated, direct and pleasant cinematic enjoyment to the audience. At the same time they lend themselves to a nuanced and layered interpretation leading many to watch them again and again and come back with a new hitherto unseen aspect or a deeper understanding and realization, the release said.
One of his most memorable films, Sirivennela was a sensitive story of a blind flautist and a mute painter who fall in love with each other, over the love of music and their individual setbacks. It helped in changing the viewers’ perception of disability, to a large extent.  The musical compositions of this film are still fresh and soothing to the ears.
His film, Sankarabharanam, is one of India’s most memorable classics, which was appreciated across the world. 
A remarkable feature of his films is that all of them remain wholesome family entertainers. They have a fair share of humour, sentiments and contain scenic beauty, good music, powerful and realistic characters and most importantly concrete storylines, the release added.
The award was instituted by the Government to commemorate the contribution to the industry by Dadasaheb Phalke, generally regarded as the father of Indian cinema and the maker of India's first full-length feature film, Raja Harishchandra in 1913. 
The award was first presented in 1969, with the first recipient being actress Devika Rani. Previous winners of the award include Dilip Kumar, Shashi Kapoor, Gulzar, Adoor Gopalakrishnan, Soumitra Chatterjee, Satyajit Ray and Mrinal Sen.

UFO Moviez India announces strategic tie-up with United Media Works

UFO Moviez India Limited (UFO) has announced a strategic tie-up with United Media Works Pvt. Limited (UMW), a digital cinema technology and service provider having more than 300 digitized cinema screens on its network in India. 
Under this tie up, UFO has acquired long term exclusive rights from UMW to monetize the advertising inventory on these screens, a press release from the company said.
In addition, UFO will share movie content to these screens in UFO M-4 format. However, existing commercial and service arrangement between UMW and its channel partners, exhibitors and distributors shall remain unchanged, it said.
Mr. Rajesh Mishra, CEO Indian Operations, UFO Moviez said, “This strategic move leverages the strengths of both the companies and will be mutually beneficial.”
 Mr. Ashish Bhandari and Mr. Sachin Bhandari, Joint Managing Directors, UMW said, “We are very happy to be associated with UFO, the market leader in the digital cinema space, and are confident that this co-operation will be fruitful to both the organizations."
UFO Moviez India Limited is India’s largest digital cinema distribution network and in-cinema advertising platform in terms of number of screens. It operates India’s largest satellite-based, digital cinema distribution network using its UFO-M4 platform, as well as India’s largest D-Cinema network. 
As on December 31, 2016, its global network, along with its subsidiaries and associates, spans 6,674 screens worldwide, including 5,052 screens across India and Nepal and 1,622 screens across the Middle East (UAE, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, Kuwait, Lebanon and Jordan), Israel, Mexico and the USA serviced by its subsidiary Scrabble Entertainment Ltd.
The company has also created a pan India, high impact in-cinema advertising platform with generally long-term advertising rights to 3,737 screens, with an aggregate seating capacity of approximately 1.74 million viewers and a reach of 1,911 locations across India, as on December 31, 2016. 

Airtel launches Internet TV with online content, bouquet of 500 satellite TV channels

Airtel Digital TV, the direct-to-home (DTH) arm of telecom services provider Bharti Airtel, today launched "Internet TV", India's first hybrid set top box (STB), powered by Android TV, which will bring online content to the television screen along with a bouquet of more than 500 satellite television channels.
"This marks yet another industry first from Airtel that has been at the forefront of innovation in the DTH category," a press release from the company said.
"Airtel ‘Internet TV’ transforms any TV into a Smart TV and enables users to switch seamlessly between online and linear TV content with a single device. With consumption of online content within Indian homes increasing rapidly, Airtel ‘Internet TV’ will offer customers a superior experience by enabling them to enjoy their favourite content on the biggest screen in their homes," it said.
The release said customers can now stream and cast their favourite content directly on to their TV as well as download apps and play games. "All of this along with the best satellite TV experience with 500 plus satellite TV channels offers the complete home entertainment experience," it said.   
Sunil Taldar, CEO & Director – DTH, Bharti Airtel said, “Growing broadband penetration is driving the popularity of online content, particularly in urban homes, and with Airtel ‘Internet TV’ we are bringing world-class content from the web and much more to the TV screen. This latest innovation has been designed keeping in mind the needs of Indian homes and it bridges the gap between online and offline worlds to enable an end to end entertainment experience with the convenience of a single device. We will continue to add exciting content platforms to Airtel ‘Internet TV’ and invite customers to experience this innovative offering.”       
The release said Airtel ‘Internet TV’ comes preloaded with Netflix, YouTube, Google Play Music, Google Play Games, Airtel Movies and so on. It also comes with access to Google Play Store that allows users to download their favourite apps, content and games on to their TV. 
“India is one of the most important and vibrant countries in the world and we are delighted to be teaming up with Airtel to make it much easier for consumers to enjoy Netflix,” said Reed Hastings, Co-founder and CEO of Netflix. “In the months and years to come, we look forward to bringing our Indian members more compelling stories from all over the world, an ever-improving viewing experience and incredible joy.”
Airtel ‘Internet TV’ comes with inbuilt-Wi-Fi receiver, Bluetooth based remote control and is integrated with Google voice search feature. Customers can discover content by simply telling the remote and choose from a variety of content sources.
"Offering a clutter-free and intuitive interface, the sleek Airtel ‘Internet TV’ STB is 4K content ready and enables live TV shows to be paused, recorded or even rewind. It also supports content via USB (external HD) and Bluetooth. Customers can also cast, mirror content from mobile devices, tablets and laptops on to the TV screen with Airtel ‘Internet TV’," the release said.
"Gaming enthusiasts can make the most of the Internet TV with the best of gaming apps for an experience that is truly larger than life. Gamers can use physical game controllers, or even their smartphones as a game pad with Internet TV.
Airtel ‘Internet TV’ STB requires a broadband or a 4G hotspot connection with a minimum recommended speed of 4 Mbps for a smooth online experience. A regular Airtel Digital TV dish antenna will also be a part of the installation. Existing Airtel Digital TV customers can also upgrade their existing STBs to ‘Internet TV’ STB.
Airtel ‘Internet TV’ is priced at Rs. 4999/- with 3-month Digital TV subscription. Also, as limited period offer customers can pay Rs. 7999 and get the Airtel Internet TV with one year subscription.  Airtel ‘Internet TV’ will be available exclusively on Amazon India starting today. It will be available via Airtel Digital TV touch points - retail stores/website/contact centers soon after online launch.
Airtel has also rolled out bundled offers for its home broadband customers. ‘Internet TV’ Customers just need to register for myHOME on MyAirtel app and can avail upto 25GB additional data on their Airtel broadband account every month. 

Sahitya Akademi to hold workshop for children on creative writing from May 22-26

Sahitya Akademi, the National Academy of Letters, will conduct the first edition of Kissa-O-Kalam: The Speaking Pen, an annual workshop for children on creative writing in Hindi and English, here from May 22-26.
The workshop will be held at its office in the capital at Rabindra Bhavan, 35, Ferozeshah Road, New Delhi – 110001, a press release from the academy said.
The release said the five-day session had been planned with a special focus to help children enjoy reading and writing, to play with language, and to use it creatively as a first step towards the creation of books.
The workshop will have seats for 50 children in the age group of 8 – 16 years.  After applicants fill up the registration form, shortlisted children will be called for an interaction. A final list of selected children will later be announced. Children who complete the workshop will be awarded a Certificate of Participation.
The workshop will be conducted by Chandana Dutta, Suvidha Mistry and Vandana Bist. There will be a special three-hour interaction during the workshop with Anushka Ravishankar, the popular and widely published children’s writer.
Details on the workshop, the registration form, process and dates can be seen here  Sahitya Akademi website: or from telephone numbers 011-23386088, 23387064, the release added.

National Awards: Kasaav is Best Film, Akshay Kumar, Surabi chosen Best Actors

Akshay Kumar in a still from Rustom
Akshay Kumar in a still from Rustom
Marathi movie Kasaav has been chosen as the Best Feature Film while Bollywood star Akshay Kumar has won the Best Actor award for his role in Rustom and Surabhi the Best Actress award for her role in Malayalam film Minnaminungu – the Firefly in the 64th National Film Awards 2016 announced here today.
Kasaav, directed by Sumitra Bhave and Sunil Sukthankar and produced by them along with Mohan Agashe, was chosen for its perfect blending of an environmental behaviour and a personal one in a poignantly beautiful cinematic way. 
Akshay Kumar was chosen for his "perfect portrayal of a character caught in personal and social turmoil" while Surabhi got the award for her brilliance in portraying pain and ecstasy of a mother in a deplorable social condition.
Rajesh Mapuskar was given the Best Direction award for Marathi movie Ventilator.
The awards were announced by the chairpersons of the juries for Feature Films, Non-Feature Films, Best Writing on Cinema and Most Film Friendly State Award. 
The Feature Film Central panel was headed by well-known Malayalam filmmaker Priyadarshan, while the Non-Feature Film Jury was headed by Mr. Raju Mishra and the Writing Jury by Ms. Bhawana Somaaya. The Most Film Friendly State award, which was introduced as a new category, was announced by Mr. Radha Krishna Jagarlamudi, a popular director in Telugu film industry. 
The National Film Awards will be presented by President Pranab Mukherjee at a function here on May 3.
Fireflies in the Abyss won the Best Film awrd in the Non-Feature Films category. Actress Sonam Kapoor got a Special Mention in the Feature Films category for her role in the movie Neerja.
The Best Film Critic award was given to G. Dhananjayan for his in-depth analysis on a wide range of topics such as film genres, brands, new strategies in movie watching, taxation impact and ticket pricing. 
Surabhi in a still form Minnaminungu The Firefly
Surabhi in a still form Minnaminungu The Firefly
Special Mention Award was given to the K.P. Jayashankar and Anjali Monteiro for the book ‘A fly in the Curry’. Best Book on Cinema award was given to ‘Lata- Sur Gatha’ authored by Yatindra Mishra.
Special Jury Award in the Feature category was given to Malayalam superstar Mohan Lal for his mastery in dealing with characters of various shades with unparallel acting brilliance. Special Jury Award in the Non-Feature category was given to ‘The Cinema Travellers’. 
This year, a new category ‘Best on-location Sound Recordist’ in the Non-Feature Film section was also introduced.
Uttar Pradesh was awarded the Most Film Friendly State award for implementing a unique film policy. The State’s Film Policy included various measures to create a suitable environment, which not only invited shooting of films on a large scale in the State but also promoted other activities related to various aspects of film production including financial incentives for filmmakers.
Jharkhand was given Special Mention Award for its Film Policy which provided growth opportunities to the local filmmaking talent from within the State.
The complete list of the award winners can be seen here.

Film visas, FFO make India an attractive filming destination: Col. Rathore

Russian Vice-Minister of Telecom and Mass Communications Alexey Volin meeting Minister of State for Information & Broadcasting Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, in New Delhi on April 3, 2017.
Russian Vice-Minister of Telecom and Mass Communications Alexey Volin meeting Minister of State for Information & Broadcasting Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, in New Delhi on April 3, 2017.
Minister of State for Information & Broadcasting Rajyavardhan Rathore today said initiatives like the new category of visa to foreign film makers and the Film Facilitation Office (FFO) were aimed at making India an attractive filming destination to the world.
Meeting a delegation from Russia led Mr. Alexey Volin, Vice Minister of Telecom and Mass Communication, Col. Rathore apprised them of the National Centre of Excellence for Animations, Visual Effects, Gaming and Comics (AVGC) to be set up in Mumbai by the Ministry.
Both the Ministers agreed to explore possible collaboration between the two countries in the field of animations, graphics and visual content.
Cooperation between them in the field of content generation and content delivery mechanisms for different target audiences specially kids and younger generation was also discussed.
The Ministers, while discussing the role of films as medium of cultural exchange between the countries, emphasized on exhibiting films in each other’s country through the medium of Film Festivals. A possible collaboration between the National Film Development Corporation and its counterpart from the Russian Federation in the field of Film Bazaar was also discussed, an official press release added.

Assam emerging as economic hub of East India and South East Asia, says Mukherjee

Inaugurating the ‘Namami Brahmaputra’ festival, President Pranab Mukherjee today said Assam is emerging as an economic hub of East India and South East Asia.
It is the gateway and most effective location to put into effect the Prime Minister's Act East policy, he said.
South East Asia is an important destination for India's investment and trade and the country will soon celebrate 25 years of its association with ASEAN, he said.
Mr Mukherjee said Assam had immense potential, being rich in natural resources and with hard working people. “What is needed is strong drive, right policies and effective implementation," he said.
Referring to the diverse and distinctive culture of Assam, the President said India's strength was its ability to manage diversity and forge unity in divergence.
“It was not just the elite but also the common people who were firmly committed to trust, mutual understanding and harmony. Indians were argumentative but never intolerant. Our traditions, including the teachings of Assam's great scholar and social reformer Shankaradev never allowed the practice of intolerance,” he added.
The President said Brahmaputra river is the lifeline of Assam and the region. It is intertwined into the economy, culture and day-to-day life of the people of the area through which it flows. He complimented the State Government for having started ‘Namami Brahmaputra’ as an annual festival to showcase Assam’s culture as well as potential.
Namami Brahmaputra, stated to be the biggest River Festival of India, is being organized across 21 districts in Assam from March 31-April 4.
The festival, being held along the Brahmaputra in its entire stretch from Sadiya to Dhubri, will serve as an ideal platform to showcase Assam’s tremendous potential as a state brimming with trade, tourism and culture opportunities.
The spectacular opening ceremony is being held at the riverfront of Bharalumukh, Guwahati, land of Kamakhya Temple, one of the most important and popular Shakti peethas in India. The event includes a soulful veneration of river Brahmaputra along with other attractions like indigenous sports, local food, exhibition of organic tea, display of handloom& handicrafts, cultural evenings, film festival, business meetings and symposium among others.
This five day event, epic in scale and grand in reality, shall bring along business, fun and festivities for all. Brahmaputra is not called ‘lifeline of Assam’ for nothing as this perennial river presents incredible business opportunities. The National Waterways, especially NW 2 and NW16 will be the drivers of economic development and prosperity. National Waterways 2 (NW-2) from Dhubri to Sadiya is a bridge to drive economic progress in Southeast Asian markets, as part of India’s ‘Act East Policy’.
These waterways will not only make Assam the centre of India-ASEAN collaboration but also attract major investments from around the world. The river is also a source of current and potential hydroelectric power generation. It will give a boost to power infrastructure in the state, he said.
He said the rivers of the world are fast becoming hotspots for travellers, and the mighty Brahmaputra happens to be one of them. 
"A river cruise on Brahmaputra is an eclectic blend of luxury, comfort and nature’s never ending delights. The extraordinary cruise experience on Brahmaputra can be further heightened by watching migratory birds, visiting temples, tribal villages, monasteries, touring breathtaking tea estates and more. Its tributaries like Manas, Jia Bharali and Kopili are ideal for white water rafting," he added.

Wynk Music crosses 50 million users milestone

Wynk Music, the over-the-top (OTT) music app from telecom services provider Bharti Airtel, today said that it has crossed the 50 million app installs mark, underlining its growing popularity amongst music lovers in India.
A press release from the company said Wynk music now plays approximately one billion songs per month. 
The app has seen the number of daily songs streamed grow by 200% over the last one year and its users are spending more average daily time on the app, it said.
The release said that, as per App Annie data, Wynk now has the highest number of active daily users in its category. It also has the largest share of category time amongst all music streaming apps in India.
"The average daily time spent on the app by users has grown by 25% over last year, making Wynk one of the most active mobile apps in India across all categories," it said.
According to the release, Wynk is amongst the most downloaded music streaming apps in India with close to 100,000 daily installs. It said 45% of the overall Wynk users are non-Airtel customers, making it one of the largest carrier agnostic platforms from a telco globally.  
Kartik Sheth, CEO – Wynk said, “This milestone is a testament to the love we get from our users and we want to thank them for their support in making this exciting journey possible. We remain obsessed with delivering the best experience to our users and will continue to bring more in-app innovations and make significant investments to raise the bar further. Also, at Wynk we are very proud to have contributed to the cause of curbing piracy by bringing music to users in a convenient and affordable manner.”
“To be able to continue driving innovation and upping the user experience, we have rolled out a few app monetization pilots, which we plan to scale up as part of our growth strategy," he said.
Bollywood music is still the most popular category for Wynk users, making up 54% of overall songs plays. English music has grown to 26% and Regional music makes up for the remaining share. Along with a deeper regional music focus, Wynk recently added the entire repertoire of most in-demand international artists- Metallica & Taylor Swift, the release said.
Wynk’s curated content kitty has close to 3 million songs from over 500 labels in 12 regional languages. Wynk has streaming partnership rights with nearly all content providers and labels in the industry, the release added.

Anita Dube named curator of Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2018

Anita Dube
Anita Dube
Well-known contemporary artist Anita Dube was today named as the curator for the fourth edition of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale (KMB) -- India's only biennale and the largest celebration of contemporary art in South Asia -- that will begin here in December 2018. 
The selection is in keeping with the Biennale’s long-standing tradition of being an artist-led exhibition, a press release from the Kochi Biennale Foundation (KBF), the organisers of the event, said.
The announcement, made by Kerala Culture Minister A. K. Balan during the closing ceremony of KMB at Durbar Hall here yesterday evening, followed the unanimous decision made by a high-powered panel of renowned artists and prominent personalities to bring Dube’s unique artistic insights and sensibilities to the Biennale, it said.
“Through three editions, the KMB has gained a reputation for being one of the most important exhibitions of its kind around the world. It is an honour and a very big challenge to be declared curator of this wonderful platform. I am delighted that the jurors thought I can deliver. I accept the responsibility with excitement and humility. It is early days yet and my thoughts will no doubt undergo several changes going forward, but I view this as an opportunity to do something special,” said Dube, who was present at the function.
Dube takes over from Sudarshan Shetty, whose vision for the third edition of India’s only Biennale saw 97 artists from 31 countries showcase their production – across a variety of forms, styles and disciplines – over a 108-day period starting December 12, 2016. Spread out across 12 venues, KMB 2016 received more than six lakh visitors.
Based out of the National Capital Region, Dube is renowned for her conceptually rich, politically charged works. An art historian and critic by training and a visual artist in practice, she has been widely exhibited across the Americas, Europe and Asia, including at the first edition of the KMB in 2012. Dube’s practice uses found objects and industrial materials, photography and ‘word architecture’ to critique contemporary socio-political realities.
Her aesthetic idiom, in many ways, reflects her background as a member of the Indian Radical Painters and Sculptors Association – a short-lived but hugely influential collection of artists and art students who rebelled against what they perceived to be the commodification of art in India.
In fact, Dube’s selection comes nearly three decades after she wrote the manifesto of the group’s seminal exhibition ‘Questions and Dialogue’ held in 1987 in the western state of Gujarat – that called for an explicitly radical, socially and politically conscious approach to art making. The group focused on inexpensive materials and found objects to produce works that resisted commercialisation and connected with working-class audiences.
Describing Dube as a ‘thinking artist’, KMB co-founder Bose Krishnamachari said, “Anita’s sensitivity towards materials, incorporating everyday objects derived from informal, craft and industrial sources and spaces, is profound. As is her wordplay and use of mediums, gestures and imageries – all of which will make for varied experiences and resonances in a space as adaptive and accommodating as the Biennale. Her oeuvre features both knowledgeable consideration and skillful melding of the sensibilities and styles of abstractions with real, contemporary concerns. This will doubtless be reflected in her curatorial vision.”
Krishnamachari, who is also President of the KBF, was part of the ‘Artistic Advisory Committee’ that selected Dube as curator. The other panelists were KBF Secretary Riyas Komu, Velu Vishwanadhan, Sarat Maharaj, Ravi Agarwal, Dayanita Singh, Sadanand Menon, Kavita Singh and V. Sunil.
“Anita’s selection not only reinforces our commitment to having artists at the helm, but also our mission to address contemporary social-political-cultural concerns. Anita is a strong proponent of making art accessible to the public through effective political and social engagement. This is precisely what the Biennale tries to do,” Komu said.
Dube is also a board member at Khoj, an international artists’ association she co-founded in 1997 in New Delhi. Over two decades, the initiative that began as a modest annual workshop has become one of the most important platforms shining a global spotlight on South Asian art, organising and hosting international ‘itinerant’ workshops, residencies and exhibitions.
Besides KMB 2012, she has been represented in various national and international biennales and festivals such as ‘Biennale Jogja XI’ (Indonesia, 2011), ‘Against Exclusion’ 3rd Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art (2009), ‘iCon: India Contemporary’, Venice Biennale (Collateral event, 2005), ‘Yokohama Triennale’ (Japan, 2001) and the ‘7th Havana Biennial’ (Cuba, 2000).
Dube was also a participant in the groundbreaking 2009 exhibition, ‘Indian Highway’, an itinerant collective show curated by Hans Ulrich Obrist, Julia Peyton-Jones and Gunnar B. Kvaran, which represented the growing importance of the sub-continent’s creative panorama – especially the vibrancy of its contemporary art scene – and the economic, social and cultural developments in the region over the past 20 years.

Online film certification system E-Cinepramaan launched

Union Minister for Information & Broadcasting M. Venkaiah Naidu today launched E-Cinepramaan, an online film certification ystem, saying it would promote transparency and ease of doing business.
Mr Naidu said the new system would be an important step in making the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) office paperless and enable effective monitoring and real time progress tracking for both CBFC officials and applicants (film producers).
He said the Ministry had been pro-actively taking initiatives to promote ease of doing business in the media and entertainment sector. He said the Film Facilitation Office (FFO) established by the Ministry in November 2015 provided single window clearance to facilitate film shootings by foreign film makers in India.
A total of 41 shooting permissions were given for foreign films and projects in 2016, up 33% from the previous year.
Mr. Naidu said the annual renewal process for existing TV channels had been simplified where permitted broadcasters can continue their operations by paying annual fee upto 60 days before the due date for continuation of the channel for a further period of one year. The online payment facility has been through Bharat Kosh Portal since January 1.
Emphasizing the need to keep pace with paradigm change in technology and current industry trends, Mr Naidu said the film industry in India has been growing at a significant pace with a noticeable increase in the number of films getting released every year. The changes in the current processes of CBFC would ensure better facilitation and technological upgradation to match-up with the pace of Indian cinema.
On the issues of film certification, he said the recommendations of Shyam Benegal and Mudgal Committee were under consideration of the Ministry. Consultation with former I&B Ministers had been held to elicit their views on critical issues of certification, he said.
It was also proposed to have further consultations with stakeholders in the film & media sector. Thereafter, necessary changes would be brought about in the certification process, he added.

‘Inside Tirumala Tirupati’ to premiere on National Geographic Channel on March 27

Filmmaker Rajendra Kondapalli with his crew during the making of Inside Tirumala Tirupati, a documentary film that will premiere on National Geographic Channel on March 27, 2017
Filmmaker Rajendra Kondapalli with his crew during the making of Inside Tirumala Tirupati, a documentary film that will premiere on National Geographic Channel on March 27, 2017
A documentary titled ‘Inside Tirumala Tirupati’ directed by New Delhi- based award-winning documentary film maker Rajendra Srivathsa Kondapalli, will premiere on National Geographic India channel tomorrow.
While most pilgrims wait in line for hours for a fleeting glimpse of the deity, this film allows viewers to experience the temple and its surroundings like an insider would, including getting a front-row seat to witness the spectacular annual celebration of Brahmostavam – an event that attracts such massive crowds that it makes the Tirumala temple one of the most visited Hindu pilgrimages in the world.
The film presents the magnificent sanctum and its setting through time-lapse and hyper-lapse photography. The viewers would get a feeling of walking alongside devotees who scale the Seshachalam or Seven Hills on foot to reach the hilltop temple for a coveted Darshan of Lord Venkateshwara.
Besides Annaprasadam kitchens, the viewers are led to the exclusive temple kitchens, where the world-famous Tirupati laddoo is prepared as ‘prasadam’ or sacred offering. The film also provides information about crowd management systems that allow over 60,000 people to visit the temple every day.
The film shines a light on the spiritual caretakers of the temple - the priesthood and Jeers, who conduct the temple’s religious sevas and activities day in and day out. It takes viewers on an arcane trip to a very special school – Veda Paathshala - for priests that seems to have come out of the pages of ancient texts. The film lingers a while in the majestic Seshachalam forest-hills and visits the site, where an ecological project is reviving one of the most precious natural resources in the plant world.
In perhaps one of the most exclusive scenes, the film gives viewers an intimate look into the innermost sanctum of the temple through the made-for-television replica temple called ‘Namoona Aalayam’ that allows cameras to capture the special chamber of the main deity of Sri Venkateswara Swamy (mool virat) without breaking religious protocol.
This intimate lens then expands its view to invite viewers into one of the most spectacular events in the temple’s calendar: the Tirumala Brahmotsavam. The nine-day festival presents the temple town in all its festive glory – with grand processions, celebrations and jubilant expressions of devotion.
Kondapalli says that as director and executive producer of 'India’s Mega Kitchens' a top-rated documentary series for National Geographic, he had approached TTD to feature their Annaprasadam kitchens in one of the episodes.
“After extensive reconnaissance and research, I felt there was a much bigger story to the Tirumala Temple beyond just its kitchen. That’s how the idea germinated, to tell a larger story,” he added.
It took more than a year to develop and produce the film, including in-depth research with the cooperation of Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam and Chief Priests. The production was carried out in two schedules, one to capture the exclusive location and various activities as well as catch behind-the-scenes action.
A dedicated shoot schedule was planned to coincide with the Tirumala Brahmotsavam event, where live-action was captured among crowds as huge as over 1 lakh people. Around six months of post production included editing, scripting, creating state-of-the-art graphics & visual effects and sound design.
He said Inside Tirumala Tirupati promo views on National Geographic Facebook page have touched more than 12 million and ticking.
An award winning filmmaker, Kondapalli has been creating non-fiction / factual programming for over two decades for channels like National Geographic Channel International, National Geographic Channel (India), Discovery Networks, BBC Worldwide, Doordarshan, and so on.
His work has spanned a spectrum of genres including factual documentaries, reality series, educational, science & technology and infotainment programs.
His social awareness and science & technology films have won national and international awards including the Asian Television Award (Singapore), CMS Vatavaran, Golden Beaver Award at the National Science Festival and others.
Some of his most recent works as director & executive producer include: India’s Mega Kitchens – Seasons 1 & 2 for the National Geographic India, India Emerges – A Visual History for Discovery Networks, Revealed – The Golden Temple for Discovery Networks and Womb of the World – National Geographic International.
Shruti Takulia, Creative Director, India Productions, ?Fox Networks Group says that ‘Inside Tirumala Tirupati is National Geographic’s newest India production that delivers on its promise to bring relevant and impactful stories with a high level of editorial credibility and unprecedented access to its viewers.
"The one-hour special is a spectacular culmination of the hard work the entire team has put in, since it was no mean task to do justice to a concept so challenging and so immensely ingrained in to minds of the people, not only in India, but around the world. A heady mix of history, technology, scale, architecture and emotions it will definitely evoke a sense of wonder in the viewers,” she added.

CCI finds conduct of four Malayalam film bodies in contravention of Competition Law

The Competition Commission of India (CCI) has, in the matter of a complaint made by a filmmaker, found the conduct and practice of four Malayalam film bodies -- Association of Malayalam Movie Artists (AMMA), Film Employees Federation of Kerala (FEFKA), FEFKA Director’s Union, FEFKA Production Executive’s Union and their five office-bearers to be in contravention of the Competition Law.
An official press release said the informant, T. G. Vinayakumar, a movie director, had approached CCI alleging anti-competitive conduct by the associations. 
According to him, on different occasions, the associations allegedly tried to force various actors, technicians, producers and financiers not to work or associate with him in any of his projects due to his efforts to streamline working conditions of artists and for the initiative ‘Cinema Forum’, which envisaged collaboration between filmmakers and distributors to make low budget movies with new actors. 
"Consequent upon detailed investigation by Director General, Competition Commission of India (CCI) found that FEFKA as a mighty organisation in the Malayalam film industry consisting of 17 sub-unions engaged in different facets of filmmaking and due to the ban imposed by FEFKA and AMMA on the Informant, many of the artists and technicians were not able to deal with the Informant or any other non-member.
"Such anti-competitive practise was held to have an appreciable adverse effect on the Malayalam film industry," the release said.
Accordingly, the Commission found the impugned decisions and practice of AMMA, FEFKA, FEFKA Director’s Union, FEFKA Production Executive’s Union and their five responsible office bearers -- Innocent, Edavela Babu, Sibi Malayil, B. Unnikrishnan and K. Mohanan -- to be in contravention of  Section 3(3) of the Competition Act, 2002, it said.
Apart from asking the organisations and the office-bearers to cease and desist from indulging in anti-competitive conduct, the CCI has imposed a penalty of Rs. 4,00,065 on AMMA, Rs. 85,594 on FEFKA, Rs. 3,86,354 on FEFKA Directors' Union and Rs. 56,661 on FEFKA Production Executives' Union. The amounts were calculated at the rate of 5% of their average income, the release said.
Further, the CCI also imposed fines of Rs. 51,478 on Mr. Innocent, Rs. 19113 on Mr. Babu, Rs. 66,356 on Mr. Malayil, Rs. 32,026 on Mr. Unnikrishnan and Rs. 27,737 on Mr. Mohanan, the release added.

5th Rashtriya Sanskriti Mahotsav in NE Region from March 23-31

The 5th Rashtriya Sanskriti Mahotsav (RSM)-2017, a national cultural festival, will be inaugurated at Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh on March 23.
The 9-day festival, organized by the Ministry of Culture, will shift venues to other North Eastern states including, Dimapur (Nagaland) from March 26 to 28, Majuli (Assam) from March 27 to 29, Imphal (Manipur) from March 27 to 29th March, Aizawl (Mizoram) from March 28 to 30, Gangtok (Sikkim) from March 28 to 30, Shillong (Meghalaya) from March 29 to 31 and Khowai (Tripura) from March 29 to 31.
An official press release said the main stage at Parade Ground in Tawang in the open air stage area will host cultural programmes from March 23-25 between 12:30 pm and 4 pm. The cultural extravaganza will be inaugurated by Governor of Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh P B Acharya in the presence of Union Minister of State for Culture and Tourism Mahesh Sharma and Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh Pema Khandu as Guest of Honour.
The essential thrust of the festival is to present rich diversity and uniqueness of Indian culture and to promote the cultural inter-linkages amongst the states to strengthen national integration and also to bid the artists of other parts of the country with the people of North East in a single thread of culture, the release said.
About 5,000 artistes from the North East and 2,000 from across the country will showcase cultural heritage through performances, arts and cuisine. The festival will involve the seven Zonal Cultural Centres and other organizations under the Ministry of Culture.
The North East Zone Cultural Centre (NEZCC), Dimapur is the nodal agency for the organisation of the festival.
Each Zonal Cultural Centre has been provided with slots to present their arts during the festival which would showcase an amalgamation of ‘Ek Bharat, Srestha Bharat’, ‘HamaariSanskriti, HamaariPanchaan’ and ‘Swachh India’. The extended programme will be convened at Dimapur (Nagaland) from March 26 to 28 by South Zone Cultural Centre. Eastern Zonal Cultural Centre will organise the festival at Majauli. The festival at JNMDA Complex Imphal (Manipur) will be helmed by South Central Zone Cultural Centre.
The North East Zone Cultural Centre will organise the festival at Aizawl, Mizoram and North Central Zone Cultural Centre at Gangtok (Sikkim). The festival at Shillong (Meghalaya) will be held by North Zone Cultural Centre and West Zone Cultural Centre will stage it at Khowai (Tripura).
The festival will showcase the spectacular diversity of India, from Kashmir to Kanyakumari and Gujarat to Bengal through folk, tribal and classical art forms in all its dimensions – dance, music, drama, puppetry, handicrafts and food.
An exhibition on Buddhist art and tradition is also being organized at Parade Ground of Tawang. Craftsmen from all over the country will display and sell handicrafts to the general public.
Traditional delicacies from different regions of the country will provide the visitors with a delightful culinary experience. Day-long performances of traditional performers of fringe-folk arts like ‘Behroopiyas’, ‘Baazigars’, ‘KacchiGhori’, and so on will take place at Parade Ground.
The inaugural ceremony will have varied art forms like Buddhist Chant and Gung, Vedic Chanting, Purulia Chhou, Yoga, Dhol Cholom and Pung Cholom, Sri Khol, Bhor Taal, Ladakhi dance, Chakhesang music, Bonalo, Siddhi Dhamal and Godambaza.

S. P. Balasubrahmanyam gets notice from Ilaiyaraaja for singing his songs on world tour

S. P. Balasubrahmanyam
S. P. Balasubrahmanyam
Renowned singer S. P. Balasubrahmanyam has announced that he would not be performing well-known music composer Ilaiyaraaja's compositions on stage during shows in the United States as part of an ongoing world tour following a legal notice sent to him by the latter's lawyers.
SPB, as the singer is known, said in a post on his Facebook page that the notices from an attorney representing the composer had been received by him and other popular singers like K. S. Chitra and Charan as well as the organisers of his concerns in different US cities and the managements of the venues of the shows.
He said the notice said that they were not supposed to perform the compositions of Ilaiyaraaja without his permission and that they would be in violation of copyright laws if they did so. 
He said the notice said that they would have to pay huge financial penalties if they broke the copyright law and face legal action.
"Let me say, I am ignorant of these legalities. My son designed this world tour and we kickstarted this SPB50 concert tour in August in Toronto, then we performed in Russia, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Singapore, Dubai and did lots of shows in India, too. I did not get any feelers from Shri. Raja's office at that time. I don't know why now when we started our US tour. As I said earlier, I am ignorant of the law. If it is a law, so be it and I obey it," he said.
"In these circumstances, our troupe cannot perform Isaijnani's compositions from today. But the show should happen. By God's grace I have sung lots of other composer's songs, too, which we will present. Hope you all will bless our concerts as usual," he said.
"I am always grateful for your love and affection. I only request you all not to have any harsh opinions and discussions regarding this. If this is the design of God, I obey it with reverence," he added.
Later, in response to comments on the post, SPB said he could have talked about the matter to the composer if he had called him or sent him a mail prior to the tour.
"But when I get a legal notice, either I have to respond legally, which I never want to, or, accept the law. I too have self respect. Please let us stop the futile discussion and move ahead. My intention of this information is to prepare the audience. I do not want my good friend Shri Raja inconvenienced. I do not want my sponsors and concert organizers to get hurt sentimentally and financially," he said.

Aspinwall House to become permanent venue of Kochi Biennale: Kerala Minister

Kerala Finance Minister T.M.Thomas Isaac viewing Yuko Mohri's installation 'Calls' at KMB 2016 in Aspinwall House,Fort Kochi on March 19, 2017
Kerala Finance Minister T.M.Thomas Isaac viewing Yuko Mohri's installation 'Calls' at KMB 2016 in Aspinwall House,Fort Kochi on March 19, 2017
In line with his budgetary allocation of a permanent venue for the Kochi-Muziris Biennale (KMB), Kerala Finance Minister T.M. Thomas Isaac said here today that the state government had decided to make Aspinwall House here the home of India’s only Biennale.   
“As an initial step, the government has cancelled the lease on a portion of Aspinwall House. Negotiations are ongoing to acquire the rest of the property in a time-bound manner by paying a reasonable amount,” Dr Isaac said, following a guided tour of KMB 2016’s primary venue.
“The Biennale will be maintained as a permanent art and culture asset for Kochi, which has become a fixture on the art map of the world. The city will join other big metropolises in housing an iconic international event. We can even utilise this space to conduct various art and cultural activities during non-Biennale years,” he added.
The Minister undertook a day-long tour of KMB 2016 venues in Fort Kochi and Mattancherry, taking in the works on display and interacting with the Sunday crowds at Pepper House, Anand Warehouse and TKM Warehouse.
“When I first funded the Biennale six years ago as the Finance Minister of the previous LDF government, there was controversy about spending so much money on an art event rather than on art training schools. Today, there is near unanimity on the importance of the Biennale. It exposes Keralites to the best in contemporary art from around the world and it is good for Kerala’s artists as well. In its third edition, no opposing voices are being heard,” Dr Isaac said.
Noting that the Biennale had established itself as an important landmark in the socio-cultural map of Kerala, the Minister said, “Giving the public the opportunity to enjoy, firsthand, the artworks of internationally acclaimed artists and engage with them facilitates the creation of a cultural gathering of thinkers, writers, sculptors and artists. Art schools will benefit from this event, which strives to have greater linkages with art education in Kerala.”
“The government has allotted around Rs 60 crore for the promotional and marketing purpose of tourism in Kerala. Allotting Rs 2 crore for the Biennale in its off-year is likewise an investment for the upkeep of an established and important international event,” he added.
Dr Isaac, who also holds the Coir portfolio, expressed appreciation for KMB 2016 participating artist Praneet Soi’s work using the traditional fabric in his Cut-Out Archive – Sculptures in Coir. He tried his hand at Turkish artist Ahmet Ö?üt’s installation Workers Taking Over The Factory – Version 2 and found Hungarian artist István Csákány’s Ghost Keeping “aesthetically pleasing”.
The Minister also praised the photography series Vanishing Life-Worlds on the ancient port town of Ponnani by artist K.R. Sunil.
“He has really captured Ponnani’s environment and atmosphere. I spent a few days walking through the living ruins of the once famous port. The decline and seeding of the place and yet still, the culture that still thrives there. In the last Budget, I have allocated funds to develop infrastructure in Ponnani for the conservation of the old town,” Dr Isaac said.
He noted the similarity in the setting of the Biennale. “It is very important we conserve the historical environment and inclusive spirit. While the Biennale is named after Kochi, it also refers to the cosmopolitan history of Muziris. The Biennale has spin-offs into the larger development process of Kerala,” Dr Isaac added.

Festival of India in Ukraine from March-October, 2017

A Festival of India is being organized in Ukraine from March to October this year to showcase diverse forms of Indian culture, an official press release said today.
The programmes include classical and folk dance, music, rangoli exhibition, mango and film festivals, seminars on Yoga, Think Tank and Fashion Week in different cities of Ukraine such as Kyiv, Odessa, Mykolaiv, Kherson, Lviv, Ivano Frankivsk, Poltava and Ternopil.
Vidha Lal Group will present Kathak dance from March 14-18. A folk dance performance will be organized by West Zone Cultural Centre from June 21-27, Yoga Seminar through Ministry of Ayush, Mango Festival through APEDA in June, Rangoli Exhibition by Ritu Kaushik group from August 15-19, Indian films and documentaries through Ministry of Information and Broadcasting in September/October.
Indian artistes will also participate in Ukrainian Fashion Week through Ministry of Textiles in September/October. Think Tank Seminar will be held by Indian Council of World Affairs in September/October.
The movie ‘Gandhi’ will be screened on October 2 and classical music concert by Pt. Keshab Kanti Chowdhury from October 19-23.

FTII-Canon MoU to promote short courses in film & elevision

The Film and Television Institute of India, Pune today signed a memorandum ofuUnderstanding (MoU) with Canon India Private Limited to promote film education through short-term courses across several towns and cities in the country.
Speaking on the occasion, Minister of State for Information & Broadcasting  Rajyavardhan Rathore said technology has played a critical role in defining the contours of professional photography and art of film making.
The exposure of budding young talent to the nuances of technology would have a positive impact on their learning curve, he said.
This initiative would ensure the perfect blend of technology and young talent through the platform of FTII, he added.
Mr. Kazutada Kobayashi, President & CEO, Canon India was also present on the occasion. Under FTII's initiative SKIFT (Skilling India in Film and Television), several short courses, mostly of skill-oriented nature, have been proposed to be held in collaboration with State Governments, universities and educational institutions.
FTII Pune, one of Asia's leading and India's foremost institute in film and television education, has been preparing to break new grounds by pushing to democratise cinematic education by offering quality and affordable training to general public and practitioners alike at locations where there is a demand for such courses.
FTII is also in the process of aligning some of the short courses with Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY) under National Skill Development Council.
Mr. Kobayashi said FTII was one of the most reputed institution across the world and Canon was proud to announce the partnership for SKIFT which has been designed to spread the art of cinematography and film making, across the length and breadth of the country.
Canon, an international brand in digital imaging, as 'Technology Partner' of SKIFT, will  provide high-end cameras and accessories free of cost for the courses. This support would be a major contributing factor in keeping the course fees affordable while offering an opportunity to course participants to use cutting-edge equipment, an official press release said.
The courses are proposed to be held in non-metros such as Guwahati, Jaipur, Vishakhapatnam, Raipur, Chandigarh, Raipur, Bhopal, Leh and Andaman & Nicobar Islands to begin with.
Initially, SKIFT would conduct courses such as Digital Cinematography, Documentary Film Making, Screenplay Writing, Acting, Film Criticism & Journalism and Film Appreciation.

VR stories provide immersive 360° experiences to KMB 2016 visitors

Urgent, yet ignored, stories from India’s hinterland are presented in a newly installed 360° virtual reality experience courtesy award-winning filmmaker Anand Gandhi at the ongoing third edition of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale (KMB) in the city.
As many as four short documentary films by independent filmmakers are being shown in the immersive experience set-up by Gandhi’s ElseVR initiative at the architectural pavilion in Aspinwall House. 
ElseVR is a platform by Memesys Culture Lab – founded by the Ship of Theseus director – that combines virtual reality, non-fiction filmmaking and journalism.
The documentaries, 6-10 minutes each, cover a range of pressing issues. They include India’s first VR film, Right to Pray, which deals with the ban on women’s entry at Trimbakeswar temple; Caste is not a Rumour, which highlights the story of Dalits and Muslims being beaten up by so-called Gaurakshaks; When Land is lost, do we eat Coal? which narrates the story of 24 million Adivasis who were displaced due to coal mining activities in Chattisgarh; and Submerged, which moves through the devastated landscape and vulnerable villagers in Bihar after last year’s torrential floods. 
“The ability and the desire to transmit knowhow, intention, and insight to others around us have co-evolved with humanity itself. Mixed reality is a huge milestone in that human project of record keeping, perspective sharing, empathising, and merging with the ‘other’, a project that began with the first cave painting, or even earlier,” Gandhi said.
To facilitate this immersion, the ElseVR booth has a pair of virtual reality headsets attached to cell phones that screen the films via an app. The experience allows viewers to not only watch but empathise with the characters in the stories through the 360° storytelling method that will redefine the relationship between story and audience.
“What virtual reality does is it really allows the viewer to enter into the story. You associate with the issues more empathetically than the news. You connect to the people and issues far deeper in VR than in two dimensions,” said Abhishek Lamba, an ElseVR team member.
“We don’t just have stand-alone films. The stories are supported with news articles as well. All the films have full length articles written by filmmakers, journalists, artists, among others. We have also associated with some organisations, including Amnesty International,” Lamba said.
The ElseVR experience will run up till the conclusion of KMB 2016 on March 29.

Novel initiative will see school notebooks sport KMB 2016 artwork

With colours as rich and layered as its mythology, the epic mural artwork titled ‘Parayi Peta Pantheerukulam’ by artist P.K. Sadanandan has turned heads and prompted questions over the ongoing third edition of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale (KMB).
It will now inspire the same from students of Aided Mappila Upper Primary School (AMUPS) in Malappuram District. An image of a section of the wall art – illustrating the story of ‘Naranth Pranthan’ – will adorn the cover of a notebook to be distributed to 2,000 students at the school.
The diary, designed by Art by Children (ABC) – the unique art education initiative by the Kochi Biennale Foundation, was released on Saturday at the Pavilion in Cabral Yard, Fort Kochi. The function saw Sadanandan hand the first copy to an AMUPS student.
“Promoting art education, at a number of levels, has become one of the Foundation’s primary concerns. Launching a specially designed notebook cover is an engaging way to attract students and make them aware about art practices,” said KBF Secretary Riyas Komu at the function.
While some schools already bring out similar books, the pictures are limited to annual day gatherings or committee meetings, said Manu Jose, who heads the ABC programme.
“Every student today goes through a minimum of seven notebooks. If we print different artworks and introduce different artists through such books, that is a considerable art education effort. We can even introduce artists according to age groups,” Jose said.
Inside the book’s front jacket is a short biography about Sadanandan while the rear cover has an image of the wall art’s evolution over KMB 2016. The artist said that the initiative is a novel way to get children to engage with both the practice of mural painting and traditional stories.
“During my childhood, we would hear moralistic stories from our grandmothers or learn them in school. The narrations ignited the visual sense in us. Such practices have vanished, but the stories like Parayi Peta Pantheerukulam and their characters are significant even now. It is said that these 12 creeds encompass the whole of humankind and show how harmoniously they lived. Such stories should be taught to children to bring social integrity,” Sadanandan said.
“There is a reason for choosing the Naranath Pranthan story for the cover image as he crossed set boundaries and borders without caring about what people thought of him. Moreover, he was a philosopher. Children should know of him and learn about him,” he added.
The initiative reflects the continuing relationship between AMUPS and the ABC project, which conducted the first of its innovative art engagement workshops at the school in November.
Noting that the notebooks would be circulated to students from classes 1-7, AMUPS Headmaster T. Gopalakrishnan said, “This specially designed book will be a diary for the students, in which year-long activities and holidays will be listed. This will prompt the students to refer to the book for at least one year if not longer.”

Kochi Muziris Biennale has rejuvenated Kerala's contribution to visual arts, culture: Mukherjee

Artist P K Sadanandan explaining his mural 'Parayi Petta Panthiru Kulam' to President Pranab Mukkherjee at Aspinwall House at the ongoing Kochi Muziris Biennale in Kochi, on March 2, 2017.
Artist P K Sadanandan explaining his mural 'Parayi Petta Panthiru Kulam' to President Pranab Mukkherjee at Aspinwall House at the ongoing Kochi Muziris Biennale in Kochi, on March 2, 2017.
President Pranab Mukherjee today said the Kochi-Muziris Biennale had rejuvenated Kerala’s long standing contribution to visual arts and culture and cemented Kochi’s status as a cosmopolitan city brimming with potential and ideas.
“The Biennale, which is today known as the People’s Biennale, has become an integral part of the cultural calendar of our country,” he said at the inauguration of the Kochi Muziris Biennale Seminar on ‘Importance of sustainable cultural building’.
“Contemporary art is one of the most significant ways of expressing thoughts, emotions, concerns and ideas that are current, that are relevant to us in the time we live in,” he pointed out.
“The fact that Kerala, this land of history and tradition, now hosts the largest show of contemporary art in the region, and that too a show that was seeded by government, speaks to the unique ways of this state and its people,” Mr Mukherjee noteed.
Kerala has always been known for its secular approach towards art and culture. The Kochi-Muziris Biennale is a proud symbol of this approach and the sense of oneness and inclusivity that exists here, the President said.
The Kochi Biennale Foundation has made a wonderful innovation in attempting to use art to link the historic legacy of present-day Kochi with the rich cultural influences of its predecessor Muziris, a financial and trade centre that was believed to have been vanished in floods in 1314 A.D., he said.
The event's resounding success can be gauged from the fact that it has so far attracted more than a million visitors, he added.
The collaborative nature of the partnership between the government and the Kochi Biennale Foundation, and the very successful result of that partnership, is proof of what can be achieved when a government invests in culture. Public funding for the arts provides support, offers certainty and the opportunity to touch the lives of vast numbers of people, Mr Mukherjee said.
“Public funds have the power to act as seed funding, giving others the confidence to invest in the creation and innovation of cultural organizations like the Kochi Biennale Foundation which, along with the Kerala government, is providing cultural stewardship and playing host to global artistic ideas on our own ground.
“When you partner that with innovative ideas and a unique point of view, the results can be staggering and beautiful,” he added.
“We need the Arts. All over the world cultural activities are easy targets for spending cuts. But if the state is to act as the catalyst then what must be its role? What institutions must be built up, and what confidence measures should be taken?
“The Kochi Biennale Foundation is a good case study of what is possible when differing agencies come together to pursue profound goals: to value culture, and the achievements of the human spirit, to celebrate the human imagination, and to make those achievements key markers of development,”Mr Mukherjee said.
“But most important, this model should be replicated in different parts of the country. I hope the panelists can discuss and consider all these questions. I wish you all the very best and a meaningful discourse,” he concluded.
During his visit, Mr. Mukherjee took in the diverse array of artistic production on offer at the third edition of India’s only Biennale. 
He was accompanied by Kerala Governor Justice P. Sathasivam, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, Kochi Mayor Soumini Jain and State Minister for Tourism Kadakampally Surendran.
The President first visited the epic mural ‘12 stories (of the 12 Progeny)’ being worked on by participating artist P.K. Sadanandan. Taking an interest in the 15 m long and three m wide wall painting, he listened attentively as the master muralist explained the back story behind each panel of the artwork as well as his exclusive use of natural colours.
After looking over the space for theatre practitioner Anamika Haksar’s stage production ‘Composition on water’ and visiting artist Gauri Gill’s photo exhibition ‘Traces’, the President  listened in silence as KMB 2016 curator Sudarshan Shetty explained the intent behind Chilean poet-revolutionary Raúl Zurita’s installation ‘Sea of Pain’.
The group, together with KMB co-founders Bose Krishnamachari and Riyas Komu, concluded the tour with a visit to American artist Camille Norment’s sound art installation ‘Prime’.
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