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.

Eros International, Pooja Entertainment & Films align for release of Dishoom, Banjo

Film entertainment major Eros International Media limited and veteran producer Vashu Bhagnani's Pooja Entertainment & Films Ltd will jointly distribute the films Dishoom and Banjo in India.
A press release from Eros said this followed their strategic alliance announced recently.
Sajid Nadiadwala’s action drama Dishoom, directed by Rohit Dhawan, starring John Abraham, Varun Dhawan and Jacqueline Fernandez will release on Friday, July 29 while the musical drama Banjo, directed by Ravi Jadhav, starring Riteish Deshmukh and Nargis Fakhri will release on September 23, the release said.
Eros and Bhagnani announced their collaboration last month to jointly remake and distribute films including Bhagnani’s blockbuster hits of the '90s such as Hero No 1, Coolie No 1 and Bade Miyan Chote Miyan.

Sahitya Akademi invites applications for Yuva Puraskar

The Sahitya Akademi has invited applications for the Yuva Puraskar awards, which were introduced in 2011 to encourage young writers writing in Indian languages and who are below the age of 35.
For Yuva Puraskar 2017, the academy is inviting books from publishers and young Indian writers of the age of 35 and below in all the 24 languages recognized by it.
The applicant writer should be 35 or below on 1st January 2017. Last date of submission is 30th September 2016. The books should be submitted along with the attested copy of date of birth certificate, an official press release said.
A total of 106 Yuva Puraskars have been given so far to young writers in Indian languages recognized by the Akademi -- Assamese, Bengali, Bodo, Dogri, English, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Kashmiri, Konkani, Maithili, Malayalam, Manipuri, Marathi, Nepali, Odia, Punjabi, Rajasthani, Santali, Sanskrit, Sindhi, Tamil, Telugu and Urdu. 
These awards are presented at a prestigious ceremony and comprise an amount of Rs. 50,000, a plaque and a citation.

Mukherjee confers Jnanpith Award on Gujarati litterateur Raghuveer Chaudhary

Raghuveer Chaudhary
Raghuveer Chaudhary
President Pranab Mukherjee today conferred the 51st Jnanpith Award on well-known litterateur Raghuveer Chaudhary, a poet, novelist and critic who occupies a unique place in Gujarati literature.
Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Mukherjee said that Dr. Chaudhary, an eminent scholar and a Gandhian in spirit and behaviour, represented the fluid brilliance that characterizes India’s pluralistic literary genius. 
"It is indeed an example of his brilliant fluidity that an author, who strove to master Hindi academically, expressed himself in Gujarati in his literary pursuit," he said.
Mr. Mukherjee said that he had been informed that Dr. Chaudhary has been an ardent writer of Hindi columns as well, and his literary work has explored varied genre of poetry, prose, novels, and fictions as also commentary on contemporary issues.  
He was sure that as a teacher also, he would have inspired his students to nurture the creative potentiality in them.  As a writer, who has explored existentialism in his works, analysed the functional aspect of human life and profoundly expressed his thoughts in his poetry through images and symbols, Dr Chaudhari has rightfully joined the stellar constellation of his predecessor awardees, he said.
The President said that mortal beings do not remain but their creations remain for a long time and therein lies the success of a master creator.  He said that Dr. Chaudhary was one such creator. 
The President said that when one looks at the stars in the constellation of Jnanpith awadees, it provides a shining view of the linguistic diversity inherent in the ancient artistic and linguistic heritage of India. The authors in this list have each excelled in celebrating this diversity and at the same time strengthening its essential unity and centrality of purpose.
The President said that this occasion of presentation of Jnanpith award today also provided an opportunity to recall the contributions of late Sahu Shanti Prasad Jain and late Rama Jain, whose efforts in promoting Indian languages and literature and establishing the Bhartiya Jnanpith remain a shining example.  He reiterated that it is not possible on the part of one agency to ensure the full-fledged development of art, literature and development of creativity.  It can only be possible by the efforts of society as a whole. He was happy that the corporate sector had come forward nearly a century ago to nurture and recognize talent. Today, many more such organizations with the objective of serving society are coming up, he said.
The President stated that translation of literature in various languages would make it possible for a wider section of people to have access to it. He said that Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore won the Nobel Prize many years ago. In the period after that, Indian literature has not been less rich.  However, there is need to propagate the literature in India and take the creative genius of Indian languages to the world audience, he added.
Born in 1938, Dr. Chaudhary is a prominent figure on the contemporary Gujarati literary scene. His talent has been influenced by works of Govardhanram Tripathi, Kaka Kalelkar, Suresh Joshi, Prof. Ramdaash Mishra and Prof. G. N. Dickey.
"Raghuveer's poetry is particularly remarkable for its profundity of thought and the meaningful use of images and symbols. Though poetry remains his first love, the form he has consistently explored is the novel. His faith in the functional aspect of human life has progressively strengthened. It is voiced through his novels Amrita, Venu Vatsala and Uparvaas trilogy. Rudra Mahalaya is a landmark in Gujarati historical novel writing. His essays contain a combination of microscopic observations concerning the art of creative writing and a vivid presentation of thought. His style of writing tinged with his unique sense of humour adds to the readability of his essays," a statement from Bharatiya Jnanpith had said in December 2015 while announcing the decision to honour Dr. Chaudhary with the award.
"It has been a continuous search of Raghuveer's life and literature to attain a realistic ground for human dignity. His belief in democracy acknowledges not only the basic freedom of a human being but also in the development of a humanitarian society," it said.
Chaudhary's literary works have received numerous accolades that include the Sahitya Akademi Award for his novel trilogy Uparvas. Apart from that, he has also various other honours including Kumar Chandrak for poetry, Uma-Sneharashmi Prize and Ranjitram Gold Medal for creative writing, and Sauhard Samman from Uttar Pradesh Hindi Sansthaan.
The Jnanpith Award was instituted in the early 1960s by the family of Sahu Shanti Prasad Jain, the founder of Bharatiya Jnanpith, to mark his 50th birthday in 1961.
The first Jnanpith Award was given to renowned Malayalam writer G. Sankara Kurup in 1965. There have been 55 laureates so far, with the 50th Jnanpith Award going to Marathi writer Bhalachandra Nemade in 2014. There were more than one winner in some years.

Rashtrapati Bhavan to host Amitav Ghosh as Writer In-Residence

Amitav Ghosh
Amitav Ghosh
Eminent author Amitav Ghosh will stay in Rashtrapati Bhavan as Writer In-Residence from July 10 to 14. 
He will be accompanied by his wife Deborah Baker, an official  press release said here today.
Mr Ghosh is an award-winning author and essayist whose books include The Circle of Reason, The Shadow Lines, In An Antique Land, Dancing in Cambodia, The Calcutta Chromosome, The Glass Palace, The Hungry Tide and The Ibis Trilogy: Sea of Poppies, River of Smoke and Flood of Fire. 
His latest book ‘The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable’ is being released in Delhi on July 12.
The ‘In-Residence’ programme in Rashtrapati Bhavan was launched by President Pranab Mukherjee 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 young upcoming talent from different parts of the country. The first person to stay in Rashtrapati Bhavan as part of the programme was eminent artist and Member of Parliament Jogen Choudhury.
Invitations to live in-Residence have been also extended to sculptor Subodh Gupta and artist Paresh Maity.
The ‘In-Residence’ programme now includes grass root innovators, artists, writers, inspired teachers from Central Universities, award-winning school teachers from different States and scholars from IITs, IISERs, IISc-B and NITs.
Around 140 persons have been part of these ‘In-Residence’ programmes till date.

Eros International signs television license deal with Zee Network

Film entertainment major Eros International Media Ltd has announced that it has signed a television syndication deal for its new and catalogue films with Zee Network, one of India's leading television media and entertainment companies. 
The films comprise a number of catalogue films from Eros’ vast library and also pre-sales for a few coming films, a press release from the company said.
Movies that will be showcased exclusively on Zee Network include Riteish Deshmukh and Nargis Fakhri starrer Banjo, slated for a theatrical release on September 23, the much acclaimed family drama Nil Battey Sannata, and the widely appreciated Aligarh starring Manoj Bajpayee and Rajkummar Rao.
Apart from the recent releases, the license deal will give the channel access to Eros’ blockbuster catalogue films like Housefull, Heyy Babyy, Cocktail, Vicky Donor and Omkara, among others.
Sunil Lulla, Managing Director, Eros International Media Ltd. said, “This deal signifies yet another step towards cementing our long association with Zee Network. We continue to exploit our significant library and the content licensing deal with Zee is consistent with our pre-sales strategy.  These tailor made packages from our broad film repertoire will suit audiences across networks and maximize the potential from the television broadcast."

Ganges-Danube Cultural Festival of India to be held in Hungary

Union Culture and Tourism Minister Mahesh Sharma will inaugurate the “Ganges-Danube Cultural Festival of India” at the Vigado Theatre in Budapest, Hungary later today.
Dr. Sharma will also inaugurate the International Day of Yoga celebrations, followed by a Yoga workshop, there tomorrow, an official press release said.
The festival will showcase Indian culture through dance, music, yoga, films and exhibitions. Indian martial art experts and puppet artistes are also performing. Hungarian artistes, proficient in Indian art forms, will also participate in the programme. 
During the three-day festival, various events will be staged in Budapest and other Hungarian cities such as Debrecen, Szeged, Eger, Nagykanizsa, Esztergom, Szentendre and Balatonfured.
Some of the participants in the events include the Shri Patel Ras Mandal, a folk dance group from Latipur, Jamnagar in Gujarat; a Kalaripayattu dance group from Attakkalari Centre for Movement Arts, Bangalore; the Mystical Forest Dance performance by Sadhya of New Delhi; demonstration of Mehndi; lac bangle demonstration and a puppet show.

24 award-winning movies to feature in EU film festival in Mumbai

The 21st edition of the European Union Film Festival (EUFF), to be held here from June 17-26, will feature 24 award-winning movies from as many countries.
The festival, organised by the Delegation of the European Union and embassies of EU member-states, will open with the screening of the German film "Jack" at the Little Theatre, National Centre for the Performing Arts (NCPA).
Apart from the Little Theatre, the screenings will take place at two other venues, Alliance Française de Bombay and British Council.
This year's edition of the festival will feature films from Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, CzechRepublic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, The Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.
This yearthe festival will screen movies from varied genres ranging from thecomedy of the absurd to gripping drama,unexpected romance and heart-stopping action.
“Films have a universal appeal. The European Union Film Festival has won a special place in the Indian film calendar and in the hearts of viewers by showcasing the wry, the unexpected, the beautiful and even the tragic events of ordinary lives in unfamiliar settings," Mr. Tomasz Kozlowski, Ambassador of the European Union, said.
Dr. Martin Wälde, Director - Goethe-Institut/Max Mueller Bhavan Mumbai said, “The European Union Film Festival is an exciting initiative that provides an annual platform for film enthusiasts in India to watch some of the best contemporary cinema coming out of Europe. At the Goethe-Institut, we look forward to co-hosting the festival in Mumbai, and furthering cultural exchange between India and Europe. We firmly believe in the power of the arts in bringing people and cultures together in a mutually enlightening and respectful manner. This forms the basis of our projects, and our continued association with the European Union Film Festival. Once again this year, we look forward to some wonderful stories told through the power of cinema."
Mr. Alain Zayan, Director, Alliance Française de Bombay, said, “European Union Film Festival is a great occasion, every year, for us to showcase European diversity and creativity to the Indian audience eager to discover the numerous films proposed during the festival. It's also a unique opportunity for Alliance Française de Bombay to reinforce its role as one of the principal actors of Indo-European cultural exchange and as a gateway to Europe and its cultures. In a few words, we are glad to be part of this festival in India and glad to help build bridges between our countries."
Highlights from the festival this year include the stories of a ten year old abandoned boy ‘Jack’ who picks up his six-year-old brother and finds his way to life on his own; a great soldier of Rome who is despised by his own people and forced to turn to his enemy to find acceptance and an out-of-work illusionist who has a life-changing experience when he meets a young woman in Scotland.
Jack, the inaugural movie, is a film about the development of a boy who learns to take responsibility from a young age. At the end of the film, he surprises the audience with the decision he makes and holds up a mirror to them with the courage he shows.
This film is produced by Jan Krüger, René Römert (2014) and has won international awards, including Silver Award for Best film in Lola  2015 (Deutscher Filmpreis 2015)
Entry at all venues will be on a first come, first served basis.However, for British movie 'Coriolanus' to be screened at the British Council, registration will be through their website, a press release from the organisers said.                               
The festival, currently running in Delhi, Chennai and Chandigarh, will traverse further through Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Coimbatore, Ahmedabad, Pune, and Jodhpur till August 14.
The films to be screened at the EUFF are: Austria–Jack; Belgium - Les Rayures du Zèbre |(Scouting for Zebras); Cyprus - Block 12; Czech Republic-Three Brothers; Denmark -StilleHjerte |Silent Heart;Finland - Ollaanvapaita|Urban Family; France-L'illusionniste, |(The Illusionist); Germany – Jack; Greece - Wild Duck; Hungary - Utóélet |(Afterlife); Ireland - The Irish Rebellion; Italy - Michiamo Maya (My Name Is Maya); Latvia - Mother, I love you; Lithuania -Edeno Sodas (The Garden of Eden); Luxembourg - Dead Man Talking; Malta-Simshar; Netherlands-Michiel De Ruyter|Admiral; Poland-Bogowie(Gods); Portugal - Cats Don't Have Vertigo; Slovakia-Rytmus – A Dream from the Block; Slovenia - Sailing to Paradise; Spain - Flamenco From The Roots; Sweden– Atertraffen (The Reunion); United Kingdom – Coriolanus.

Charlotte's End – Continuing the saga from Rebecca

It’s quite common for Western authors to explore Indian themes with a sense of mysticism tinged with spiritualism that has come to signify the Indian ethos, but not so common for Indian authors to write on Western themes in a European setting.
A lot of us have grown with Daphne du Maurier’s classics such as Rebecca but perhaps somewhere there was a lurking wish in us that du Maurier had continued the saga.
This is exactly what a Karnataka cadre IAS officer has done with du Maurier’s Rebecca, by virtually creating her own wishful continuation, with the same British setting, retaining some of the principal characters and set it against the World War II background and even bringing in an espionage angle for dramatic effect.
Only the names change. Probably for copyright reasons, though there is no bar on creating a serial for a famous novel.
The result, a lucidly written novel, Charlotte's End (Rebecca becomes Charlotte here), by Veena S. Rao, who retired from the Government of India as the Secretary , North East Development portfolio.
If you didn’t find the Indian name Veena S. Rao on the book, you would have thought it had been written by a Briton, because the language is such, the feel is such, the graphic description of locales in London and other places is too astounding for an Indian sitting in Delhi.
The novel opens in the pre-war part of 1939, and travels through the 2nd World War. Rao brilliantly weaves a story of tragedy and romance, mystery and action in the background of the war, an old English mansion with eerie secrets and the lurking shadow of a dead woman.
“The book is quite unputdownable,” said Mani Shankar Iyer , former Union Minister, who released it here earlier this week at a function which turned out be a reading and literary session on the book. Joining him in releasing and reviewing the book were the eminent economist and Niti Aayog Member, Dr Bibek Debroy, veteran stage and film actor Tom Alter, Ms Asha Mandapa, a leading artist in structural glass and Renu Kaul Verma, who published the book through her concern Vitastaa Publishing (available on Amazon).
Rao is, perhaps, the first Indian author to have boldly and effortlessly woven a novel about a completely British theme in an English setting.  Alter described the book as a stand-alone and stand out novel. "It’s only in India I think the best form of English is spoken or written," he said.
How is it different from du Maurier’s original work? Rao takes the defeated characters and shakes them around into action, restarts their ill-starred lives and the novel ends with them succeeding.
From the beginning to end, strong psychological themes run across the novel.. .especially of a young girl from a common background married to a wealthy aristocrat whom she adores, always trying to overcome her social inadequacies and fears, always afraid of losing her husband’s love. How the war-time events in England help in driving away the ghosts of the past and brings happiness to the haunted couple forms the leit motif of the engrossing novel.

Eros Now launches on Apple TV

Indian film entertainment major Eros International has announced that Eros Now, its digital over-the-top distribution service, has expanded availability of the service to the Apple TV media platform.
A press release from the company said Eros Now is now showcasing its repository of Bollywood and regional language films and music videos, across Apple TV’s presence in 80 key countries including the United States, United Kingdom, India, Canada, Australia, and Malaysia. 
The release said the Indian entertainment service includes features such as: full length movies, thematic curated playlists, English and Arabic subtitles for movies, music video playlists, regional language filters, video progression (users can continue watching a title they were watching on TV, mobile, tablet or computer) and access to a Watchlist of titles discovered on any media platform that Eros Now is available on.
Subscribers can now download the Eros Now app through the Apple TV App Store.
Rishika Lulla Singh CEO - Eros Digital said, “We are pleased to announce Eros Now’s further expansion to additional media platforms offered by Apple, an illustrious global brand. With the success of our iOS application on iPhone and iPad, we are strengthening our connection to our subscribers who are using Apple’s products everyday by now bringing a compelling array of Bollywood and regional language content to their living room.” 
The Apple TV association reaffirms Eros Now’s presence across top streaming devices. The app is available across most smart TV platforms including Android TV, Samsung, Chromecast and Amazon’s Fire TV, the release added.

Artist Bose Krishamachari to curate Yinchuan Biennale in China

Bose Krishnamachari
Bose Krishnamachari
Well-known artist Krishnamachari Bose, who is co-founder of the much-acclaimed Kochi-Muziris Biennale (KMB), will curate the inaugural Yinchuan biennale in China, shaping the city’s first foray into the global art scene along a roadmap set by India’s only biennale.
The biennale is titled "For An Image, Faster Than Light" and Krishnamachari has already chosen 40 out of the 80 international artists who will showcase their works within the dramatic environs of the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), Yinchuan from September 9 to December 18 this year/
The featured artists will explore a range of contemporary issues, in keeping with the breadth of Krishnamachari’s creative vision and the cosmopolitan ethic that is also the hallmark of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale. The extensive and pluralistic list of participating artists includes Ai Weiwei, the iconic Chinese dissident artist; Anish Kapoor, Riyas Komu, co-founder of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale, and Sudarshan Shetty, curator of the 2016 edition of the Biennale in Kochi. 
Speaking of his curatorial concept, Krishnamachari said, “This biennale in China can postulate different themes, including spiritual and social consciousness, an examination of political narratives and critical global engagement and an acknowledgment of a collective responsibility therein.”
“A light to be seen through art’s eyes. It is indeed a circle in which we seek, from beginning to end, a light to hold within the image of a finger bowl,” he added, noting the potential of a cultural extravaganza to create discourse and frame conflicts confronting the modern world.
The biennale will also see a host of cultural activities like music programmes and seminars on the various aspects of the concept note.
Krishnmachari’s oeuvre includes drawing, painting, sculpture, photography, design, installation and architecture. His works have shaped the direction of contemporary Indian art. He has exhibited in several important solo and group exhibitions in Amsterdam, Norway, Denmark and Rome. He has also undertaken many curatorial projects apart from being the artistic director of the first KMB in 2012.
The Museum of Contemporary Art Yinchuan is the first contemporary museum along the Yellow River in the northwest of China. It is considered among the best new museums in China. Many of the site-specific works will involve artistic residencies in MOCA Yinchuan’s International Artist Village.

KBF hosts Open Studio on notions of space and movement

Anja Kempe
Anja Kempe
The exploration of the unknowns of physical space and probing the potential for movement and displacement inform Anja Kempe’s art. In Kochi’s dynamic environs, its architectural changes and tensions, the German installation artist found no dearth of inspiration.
Over her six-week sojourn in the city under the Pepper House Residency programme hosted by the Kochi Biennale Foundation (KBF), Kempe staged photographic interventions in its nooks and warrens to explore the notions and perceptions of space and its occupation.
The threads of her work came together at an Open Studio at Pepper House, Fort Kochi on Saturday. Her project, titled ‘Inner Grid’, features the photographic corpus situated around a structure built from local materials like bamboo and wood.
“What kind of inner grid do we bring to understand a space and how can an artwork shift this grid?” Kempe asked, during an accompanying talk on her project and practice.
The installation is in keeping with the site-specificity that marks Kempe’s oeuvre: It is an architectural extension that seeks to alloy fiction to her milieu’s existing spatial conditions, its interactions with its people in order to provide expansive choreographies for the viewer.
“My works concentrate simultaneously on both genders,” said Kempe, whose work situates the dichotomy of male-female interactions within the frameworks of movement and memory. “This is an examination of both the individual memory of the body and the collective memory of movements.” 
The Pepper House Residency programme, run in collaboration with HCL, Pepper House, Goethe Institute, and Malabar Escapes between editions of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale, is an international residency opportunity for artists from all disciplines to work, engage and collaborate.
Kempe, based in Dresden, has exhibited internationally in group shows and solo exhibitions including at z33, Hasselt; Ars Electronica Campus, Linz; Schloss Solitude, Stuttgart; Museum Schloss Moyland; Halle14 Leipzig; NGBK Berlin; Young Artist Project, Daegu and ISCP New York.

India to be promoted as filming destination: Rathore

Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore today inaugurated the India Pavilion at the 69th Cannes Film Festival promising to promote the country as a filming destination by offering single-window clearance for film makers and providing a platform for film tourism.
The Minister said the Film Facilitation Office (FFO) set up by the government was a step in this direction. The initiative also addressed the requirement of prospective film makers who were keen to utilize India’s platform for filming purposes, he said.
Col. Rathore said the FFO would act as a facilitation point for film producers and assist them in obtaining requisite permissions, disseminate information on shooting locales as well as the facilities available with the Indian film industry for production/post production.
The primary objective of the FFO was to create an environment that inspired filmmakers and tap the vast talent available in the Indian film industry, he said.
It would also identify and recommend such policy changes at the Central and State levels that would make India a more film-friendly destination.
The Minister also outlined the steps being taken by the Ministry to streamline the process of permission in States. In this regard, he said the Ministry had requested State governments to appoint a nodal officer for purpose of promoting and facilitating film shootings.
The FFO would regularly engage with these nodal officers to remove any roadblocks and ease out the process of permissions as well as promote the states internationally through initiatives such as conducting familiarization (fam) tours for foreign filmmakers and participation at international markets.
He highlighted the Government’s recent initiative of instituting the “Most Film Friendly State” award as part of the National Film Awards with the objective to encourage the State Governments to support the film industry.
The award aims to sensitize the Indian states towards film tourism, advantages of bringing in foreign film makers to shoot in their state, promote India as a preferred filming destination as well as encourage the growth of the film industry.
The Minister touched upon the criteria for the award which included presence of  single-window clearance facility and state government-backed film studio complex. It should have. dedicated locations for film shoots, production and post production infrastructure.
The states could also offer incentives, set up a dedicated web portal, a database of facilities available, efforts being made to develop talent for the film industry, connectivity in the state and international marketing initiatives.
As part of perspective planning, the Minister said a dedicated web portal to take this application process online, would be operational in the next few months.
The portal would not only enable online submission of application, and enlist guidelines of key central government Ministries and Departments regarding shooting of films in one place, but also create a Locations Guide and a Service Providers Directory, so as to become a single window for the international film community who were looking to shoot their films in India.
Mr. Rathore also spoke about the proposed National Centre of Excellence for Animation, Visual Effects, Gaming and Comics. 
While the Government would focus on providing land and infrastructure, the private partners would be invited to take utilize this initiative with investment, technology and faculty.
The Minister also unveiled the official poster and brochure of the 47th International Film Festival of India to be held in Goa in November 2016.

Kochi-Muziris Biennale announces 25 artists for third edition in December

Sudarshan Shetty
Sudarshan Shetty
The third edition of Kochi-Muziris Biennale (KMB) will feature internationally reputed writers, musicians and theatre-persons along with a host of visual artistes from across India and the world. 
Among them will be iconic Chilean poet Raul Zurita, who was announced as the first artist at KMB’16 on December 15, 2015.
This year's biennale will host works by artists working across a range of media – in keeping with its mandate to broaden and blur the labels and lines attributed to art, according to KMB’16 curator Sudarshan Shetty.
“It is going to be an admixture of styles, schools and sensibilities,” said Shetty, long recognised as one of his generation’s most innovative artists.
Shetty was unanimously chosen as curator by an Artistic Advisory Committee appointed by the Kochi Biennale Foundation (KBF), which organises the Biennale. KMB’16 will be Shetty’s first curatorial project.
The largest event of its kind in South Asia, KMB’16 will run for 108 days from December 12, 2016, to March 29, 2017, and will comprise the main art exhibition and an ancillary programme of talks, seminars, workshops, film screenings, and music sessions across a range of venues in Fort Kochi and Ernakulam.
Talking about developing a project on this scale and his curatorial vision, Shetty said, “I see the KMB as naturally embodying and carrying forward the multiculturalism of Kochi that is nurtured by both history and myth. The biennale creates a space for cross-cultural interactions – something that is a fundamental aspect of Kochi’s historical and mythical identity – and can also be viewed as a means of connecting the past and the present, without looking at them in binaries. It is important that we look at this Biennale as part of that larger flow (from the past) that comes down as a great waterfall to the present and flows through our contemporary realities and artistic practices in the form of many streams or rivers.”
“I see my role as the curator of the biennale as tracing the trajectories of those streams. Incorporating this idea of the streams or rivers into my curatorial approach allows me to see the biennale as a force and flow that continues beyond its own physical time frame and space,” said Shetty, whose work was featured in the debut KMB in 2012.
The following are the First 25 artists chosen for the event: 
Raul Zurita (poetry/installation, Chile), Ouyang Jianghe (poetry/installation, China), Sophie Dejode and Bertrand Lacombe (sculpture/installation, France), Caroline Duchatelet (video, France), Achraf Touloub (drawing/video, Morocco/France), Sharmistha Mohanty (poetry/installation, India), Avinash Veeraraghavan (embroidery/video, India), Orijit Sen (graphic arts, India), Anamika Haksar (theatre, India), Praneet Soi (drawing/sculpture/installation, India/Holland), T.V. Santhosh (painting, India), Desmond Lazaro (painting, India/UK), Daniele Galliano (painting/performance, Italy), Yuko Mohri (installation, Japan), Katrina Neiburga and Andris Eglitis (installation, Latvia), Valerie Mejer (poetry/painting, Mexico), Camille Norment (sound installation, USA/Norway), Pedro Gomez-Egana (installation, Colombia/Norway), Hanna Tuulikki (sound/word/video, UK), Charles Avery (drawing/public space installation, UK), Gary Hill (video, USA), Dana Awartani (drawing/painting, Saudi Arabia), Erik Van Lieshout (performance, Netherlands), Naiza Khan (video installation, Pakistan/UK) and Pawel Althamer (performance/sculpture, Poland).
A second list of artists will be announced in the coming months, a press release from KBF said.
The past two editions of the biennale used heritage properties, public spaces, and galleries in Fort Kochi and Ernakulam. KMB’16 venues will include Aspinwall House, Pepper House, David Hall, and Durbar Hall.
The largest and primary setting in Fort Kochi is Aspinwall House, a sea-facing heritage property with warehouses, a residential bungalow, and an office building. Aspinwall House has been loaned to the KMB by DLF Limited in association with the Gujral Foundation.
Other venues include the historic Durbar Hall in Ernakulam, renovated by the KBF; David Hall, a restored Dutch bungalow in Fort Kochi; and Pepper House, a colonial-era spice warehouse that now serves as a venue for exhibitions, artist residency studios and art workshops. 
The KBF is an artist-led non-profit institution founded by renowned artists Riyas Komu and Bose Krishnamachari in 2010. Since its inception, the KMB has established itself as a catalyst for artistic engagement and dialogue in India, becoming a repository of ideas and ideologies, an occasion to reimagine both past and present, and reflect upon the notions of diversity and cosmopolitanism as represented by the pluralism of Kochi itself. 
Previous editions of the KMB, in 2012 and 2014, showcased the works of 183 artists from around the world, and had a combined draw of nearly a million visitors.
In addition to the biennale, KBF also manages several education and outreach activities to augment art education, and foster wider debate and discussion on the topic of contemporary art.
The biennale’s third outing will present a multifaceted programme that also showcases the results of the KBF’s outreach efforts among students of all ages such as the ‘Students’ Biennale’, a nationwide outreach project involving 60 Indian art colleges and curated by 15 young curators, and ‘Art by Children (ABC)’, India’s first children’s-only art event, a project aimed at initiating youngsters into art and art appreciation with children as both artist and audience.
Shetty is one of the most significant figures of contemporary Indian art.  Originally trained as a painter at the Sir JJ School of Art in Mumbai, he moved early on to sculpture and installation and more recently into film. 
He is well known for enigmatic, large-scale installations in which physical objects, composed and joined in unfamiliar ways, become the media for contemplating loss, absence, death, emptiness and regeneration.  His work rigorously explores dualisms and polarities as they are articulated through the binary oppositions of human being and object being, life and death, absence and presence, seeking and revealing their immanence in all forms of being.
In his recent work, Shetty has actively engaged with other artistic forms, including poetry and writing, music and architecture to consider the distinctions between action on-screen and off-screen, the real and the imagined, tradition and the contemporary.
An artist who came of age in India before the liberalisation of its economy and the internationalisation of its art world, Shetty’s career highlights a struggle with approaches that are conditioned by another’s vision and with the global canons of art history. 
In this spirit, his work is rooted in the knowledge that remains tacit and taken for granted in his own experience of music, poetry and storytelling traditions in Indian idioms, but which refuses to be positioned as elucidating a foreign worldview or a specific point of view on empirical reality – instead creating experiences that can be shared by viewers everywhere, drawing on their own resources.
In a career spanning nearly three decades, Shetty has exhibited widely, at some of the most prominent and prestigious international and Indian venues, most recently at the 20th Sydney Biennale.
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