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ASEAN India Film Festival to explore cooperation in cinema, culture

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The ASEAN India Film Festival will begin here on May 25 as part of efforts to explore areas of cooperation in the field of cinema between India and  the ten-nation grouping.
 
The festival, to be inaugurated by Minister for Information & Broadcasting Col Rajyavardhan Rathore, will be a platform for those connected with the film industry to explore areas of cooperation in the domain of cinema and culture. 
 
The festival will celebrate the excellence of cinema by exhibiting films from various ASEAN countries, an official press release said.
 
"It will provide more people-to-people contact between member countries, especially youth. As a vehicle of cultural exchange, the Directorate of Film Festival aims to provide access to new trends in filmmaking by providing the platform for an exchange of ideas, culture and experiences in the field of cinema," the release said.
 
"The festival will have countries which have immense and colourful cultural diversity but share a common historical thread. This will be showcased through screenings of films, alongside exchange of ideas, discussions between the film personalities and interactive sessions with the audience," it said.
 
Around 32 films from 11 countries are to be screened during the six-day festival. Beyond films, the festival will also have panel discussions on the various aspects of cinema.
 
The Directorate of Film Festivals is organising the festival in collaboration with the Ministry of External Affairs (ASEAN Multilateral Division) as part of the series of events to commemorate the 25 years of ASEAN and India relations.
 
The festival will be non-competitive. The tagline of the festival is proposed to be ‘Friendship through Films’.
 
An hour-long discussion and interactive sessions on different aspects of filmmaking for the students of cinema and cine enthusiasts will be held at 11:00 am from May 26- 28.
 
The invited guests from the member countries and India will be on the panel for discussions. Tentative topics for discussions include India-ASEAN Film Market – Co-Production Opportunities; Cinema as a Vehicle for Cultural Friendship and Portrayal of Woman in ASEAN Cinema. Students of Film, Media and Drama Institutes will be invited for the interactive sessions, it added.
 
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Hindustan was never 'a place of plunder' for Mughals: Writer Ira Mukhoty

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At a time when demonising the Mughal empire has become fashionable in India and a negative perception of their rule, comes a new book "Daughters of the Sun: Empresses, Queens and Begums of the Mughal Empire", whose writer, Ira Mukhoty maintains that Hindustan was "never a plunderous foray" for the Mughals.

The ambition of the Mughals in India, according to Mukhoty, was to found an empire worthy of their glorious ancestors. The author, in an interview with IANS, highlighted that Babur, the prince of Ferghana, accepted that he would never beat the Uzbeks (in Kabul) and decided, instead, to try and found an empire in Hindustan.

"After winning the battle of Panipat, he then did everything in his power to keep his noblemen and his amirs in Agra and summoned their families, women and children, to Hindustan. Babur saw Hindustan as the land of hope, albeit a somewhat poor substitute for his glorious childhood cities. Hindustan would be the land in which he would forge his dream of empire, dreams nurtured by a desire for grand architecture, magnificent courtly culture and etiquette. It was never a place of plunder from which to take wealth and then return to his homeland as there was no other homeland for Babur to return to.

"But somehow we have conflated the histories of all the different Muslim rulers/invaders including the likes of Nadir Shah, the Delhi Sultans, and the Tughlaqs into one, amorphous, dangerous heap. I am interested in extricating the Mughals from this morass, to bring them to life as much as possible so people can see them for the living, dreaming, the ambitious and talented family they were," Mukhoty contended.

The author pointed to Babur's "Baburnama," Gulbadan's "Humayun-Nama" and Jahangir's "Tuzuk i Jahangiri", maintaining that these primary sources show us the real motivations, concerns, ambition and grief of the Mughals.

Mukhoty, who has previously authored the highly acclaimed "Heroines: Powerful Indian Women of Myth and History", has, in her new book, chronicled the lives of women who played a vital role in building the Mughal empire. In doing so, she brings forth an illuminating and gripping history of a little-known aspect of "the most magnificent dynasty" that the world has ever known.

"When I set out to write this book, I had the same view of the Mughal women that I suppose a lot of lay people do -- that they were essentially domesticated and exotic women, quite unchanged through 200 years of history. As I did my research, I was truly amazed at the way the physical space that these women occupied evolved over the course of this time.

“The early Mughal women were physically so mobile and adventurous, journeying in harsh and unpredictable conditions, that it completely challenged my preconceptions about a "harem" or a "zenana". Over time they did become more sedentary, as Akbar built the high walls of Fatehpur Sikri, and yet the women refused to be constrained by these limitations and kept setting off on Hajj journeys, or on unexpected pleasure excursions," she said.

The Mughal women, Mukhoty said, influenced politics, and art and architecture; commanded immense wealth -- and often used this wealth to stake their own claims to a legacy.

"Influential women were a part of their Central Asian nomadic culture so it was never unusual for a woman to be ambitious or to wish to leave a legacy or influence politics. This ambition, this independence, this power that many of the women showed, were all startling discoveries for me," noted Mukhoty, who was educated in Delhi and Cambridge.

She further recalled that at the onset, the idea of the "harem" made her "somewhat uncomfortable", with "vague but tenuous notions of lascivious kings and nubile women" associated with the whole concept.

"This is a post-colonial construct, as the western travellers in the 18th and 19th centuries wrote with fervid imagination about the Mughal world they encountered in India but could not understand.

"As I looked a little deeper, I realised that the zenana was often like a traditional Indian joint family, just more so! With Babur and Humayun, it was quite a contained space but with Akbar onwards, the zenana became much larger. It was almost like a mini-city, in which every profession was carried out by women, from administration to military to entertainment.

"It was from within this space that the Mughal women operated and they found ways to exercise their influence despite the desire of later 'Padshahs' to impose greater order," she elaborated.

Mukhoty said Indian history has not been written about in anywhere near the extent it deserves to be.

"If you think of any British monarch, for example, Henri VIII or Queen Elizabeth I, there are countless books on them. Similarly, for the French, there are reams of writing on Louis XIV and Marie Antoinette. Indian history has so much to offer, but so much is still shrouded in mystery or myth-making," she contended.

Priced at Rs 699, "Daughters of the Sun" has been published by Aleph and comes with an elaborate Notes and References section.

IANS

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Shweta Bachchan to make screen debut with father Big B

 
Shweta to make screen debut with father Amitabh Bachchan
 
 
Shweta Bachchan, daughter of Bollywood megastar Amitabh Bachchan, will be seen in a jewellery ad in which she will be making her on-screen debut alongside her father.
 
Talking about the new venture, Ramesh Kalyanaraman, Executive Director of Kalyan Jewellers said in a statement: "We believe that audience will love to see the film wherein, both, Amitabh Bachchan and Shweta play the role of a father and daughter, in the ad film for the first time." 
 
"As a brand, Kalyan has always celebrated the bonds of family and relationships and the new film epitomises family values. Shweta's design inputs will also augment Kalyan's chic and trendy signature collections," the statement said.
 
The ad which attempted to capture the value of trust and transparency of a relationship is directed by G.B. Vijay, for the jewellery brand. Big B is the brand ambassador of Kalyan Jewellers since 2012.
 
This is not the first time the brand is featuring members of Bachchan family, as Jaya Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan also featured in a TVC to represent the brand.
 
IANS
 
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Ranbir Kapoor to host prelude to IPL finale

Ranbir Kapoor (Photo: IANS)
Ranbir Kapoor (Photo: IANS)
Bollywood star Ranbir Kapoor will host a two-hour prelude to the Indian Premier League (IPL) finale. Others joining the celebrations will include Salman Khan, Jacqueline Fernandes, Kareena Kapoor Khan and Sonam Kapoor Ahuja.
 
'Cricket Finals…Party Toh Banti hai' will be followed by the Vivo IPL 2018 grand finale on Star India Network on May 27, read a statement issued by the channel.
 
Fans have so far been enjoying commentary in six languages - Hindi, English, Tamil, Telegu, Bengali and Kannada.
 
In an attempt to reach out to more cricket enthusiasts across India, Star Pravah and Asianet Movies will carry Marathi and Malayalam broadcast respectively for the first time in IPL history. 
 
The Marathi language broadcast will have Madhuri Dixit-Nene and Swwapnil Joshi joining the celebrations.
 
The prelude will see a melange of performances and fun-filled interactions with celebrities. Additionally, actors Ravi Dubey, Gaurav Sareen, Aakriti Sharma and Deshna Dugad will amplify the entertainment quotient of the finale.
 
"The Dugout" on Star Sports Select will continue to cater to core cricket fans, giving a predictive and prescriptive analysis will be Dean Jones, Scott Styris, Anil Kumble, Kumar Sangakkara, Darren Sammy, Brett Lee and Mike Hesson.
 
IANS
 
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Month-long Children Theatre Workshop at IGNCA from tomorrow

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The Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA) here has organized a month-long children’s theatre and personality development workshop from today in partnership with Udaan - the Centre of Theatre Art and Child Development.
 
In this workshop, children will be trained to enhance their fundamental skills and theatrical skills, an official press release said.
 
The workshop is being held at Mother Divine Public School and Mount Abu Public School of Rohini in North Delhi. Children between the age of 6-14 years can participate in this workshop. Two plays will be staged at the end of this workshop in which all the children who underwent training will participate.
 
The children will be trained to increase their thinking and mind power, to improve their stage manners including theatre, improvising, etc. along with boosting their confidence. All children will be provided with a certificate at the end of the workshop.
 
For the workshop, the IGNCA will support ‘Udaan’ which has been organising theatre workshops for the last 25 years in which more than 25,000 children have participated.
 
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UAE-based Aries Group to produce film using CSR funds

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UAE-based Aries Group on Saturday announced it will use its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) funds to produce 1,000 regional films in the next five years under its "Project Indywood".

The project will be launched with the pooja of a film titled "Aickkarakonathe Bhishaguaranmaar" at Punalur near here on Sunday, said Aries Group Chairman and CEO Sohan Roy.

"'Aickkarakonathe Bhishaguaranmaar” will mark the launch of Project Indywood's ambitious plan to produce 1,000 regional movies in India in the next five years. Besides prominent actors from the industry, twenty talents discovered through the national-level auditions conducted by Indywood Talent Hunt will play important roles in the movie," he told media here.

Biju Majeed will direct the film, whose script is written by K. Shibu Raj. P.C. Lal will wield the camera and Biju Ram will compose the music for the film, which would be shot in Kerala and completed in one schedule.

Roy, a Kerala-born marine engineer-turned-film director, shot to international acclaim in 2011 with his film "DAM999" which was selected for the Oscar race that year in three categories - Original Song, Original Score and Best Picture.

Though "DAMA999", which tells the tale of a cracking dam built during colonial rule and how it impacts nine characters, failed to secure a place in the final nomination list of the 84th Academy Awards, it bagged two honorary awards at the Global Music Awards held at California.

IANS

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Good vs. evil fight in storytelling has caused harm: Sudhir Mishra

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Filmmaker Sudhir Mishra is unhappy with the portrayal of villains in films and says the good vs. evil fight has caused great harm.

"Bad films cause great harm when they portray villains only as foul-mouthed, sneering, lecherous types. Real villains are often sweet talking, humorous, family men who commit unspeakable acts of horror when threatened," Mishra tweeted on Saturday morning.

He added: "In fact, this whole good vs. evil fight bulls**t in storytelling has caused great harm. When people come out to find evil they don't see it because evil is sometimes behind their backs, in their own home, and sometimes in their own heads."

Mishra's latest release is "Daas Dev", is a romantic political thriller based on the political clout of Uttar Pradesh starring Rahul Bhat, Richa Chadha and Aditi Rao Hydari.

He has previously directed films like "Yeh Saali Zindagi", "Inkaar", "Chameli" and "Khoya Khoya Chand".

IANS

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My daughter has been my life's greatest teacher: Lara Dutta

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Actress Lara Dutta, who has a daughter named Saira, says the six-year-old has been her life’s greatest teacher.

Lara was interacting with media along with her husband, professional tennis player Mahesh Bhupathi, at the launch of Pediasure's new flavour here on Thursday.

Asked how parenthood has changed her as a person and how prepared she was for it, Lara said: "I think no mother with their first child is really 100% prepared for parenthood until it happens to you. It is pretty much something that you learn on the go with each day.

"It doesn't matter if your child is one day old or whether she is 21 years of age. It is constantly evolving and each parent's experience is completely different, but it has been a wonderful ride. My daughter has been literally my life's greatest teacher and she has pushed all the limits as (far as) possible because she is at that age right now.

"She is pushing it how far it can go before mom erupts, but it is fun and wonderful. Mahesh has been a wonderful and hands-on dad."

Lara also spoke about how she ensures that her daughter consumes a healthy diet and avoids gorging on junk food.

The former Miss Universe said: "The minute you have kids, everybody becomes an encyclopaedia on your child. So everybody wants to advise you including your mother, mother-in-law, sisters and friends...and obviously, it was try and taste kind of pattern because your child is not going to do things like other kids do.

"So, for us from a very young age, especially from the time she started solids, she started with avocados and it helped her form a really good healthy relationship with vegetables. Today, I don't have a problem with Saira because she is a good eater and I think that is my greatest blessing as a mom.

"It's all about trying to find that balance where you don't deny a child treats but you just try to find smart ways of sneaking in some healthy things while you are giving them a treat."

Lara stressed the importance of optimum nutrition in a child's holistic growth.

"During summer, my daughter is filled with ideas to play new games, places to go and have lots of uninterrupted fun. I am sure all young ones look forward to the summer break the same way. While children are excited about holidays, parents often stress about how they can engage them effectively and ensure that they eat right.

"My daughter has very strong taste preferences, and I am on the lookout for food options that are not just healthy but also tasty and packed with nutrients."

Lara was last seen on-screen in Chakri Toleti's "Welcome To New York".

IANS

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Farmers' widows inspire Kota Neelima's art

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For about two years, when author Kota Neelima was researching on farmers' widows in Maharashtra, she also made artworks inspired by the philosophy that they learned from their practical experiences with nature.

"The fundamental question that I would eventually ask a lady is how she survived -- not just about the physical survival but also the emotional survival. They spoke in terms of nature -- trees, soil and the moon," Neelima told IANS in an interview.

"Once, one of them delineated a very interesting interpretation about the moon, which is gone after a night but is not actually gone. That's how they see loss...it's there but I can't see it," she said, adding: "Look at the wonderful reconciliation."

Neelima said this beautiful spirituality coming from these women inspired the collection of her beautiful paintings that found space at the just-concluded "Metaphors of the Moon" exhibition at the Lalit Kala Akademi here.

"It is the natural, very very humble, beautiful spirituality of the ordinary people in extremely difficult situations. They will hold a bit of the soil in their hands and say I can feel the love of my husband in it because he has gone back to the soil.

"The imagery in paintings is about nature," she said. In her works at the show, the mind was the metaphor for the moon.

It represented the cyclic process of thought, its creation, immersion and regeneration and also is a metaphor for absence and presence. The lessons of the Moon are about the fragility of reconciliation and the assurance of restoration.

Also, tree roots found significant space. Why?

"They look at the branches of the trees and say the roots are not visible. The branches are flourishing because sacrifice is being made by the invisible roots. I can't give examples like that."

"Hope isn't just a word. They generate it every day...they live it in a very organic, a visceral manner."

Neelima, in her books, focuses on agricultural distress and the state of rural India.

In her earlier books, she said, she missed the women's perspective. "It is those women who tell the story of the farmers. She knows exactly why he killed himself but she is the last one who is asked."

"People think she doesn't know the issues of bank loans and taxes being a woman. But she does. She is in the shadow of the farmer," Neelima said.

“Nobody writes about those women. Nobody talks about them," she added. Neelima specifically wanted to focus on women and in 2014, began researching in two districts of Vidarbha, which has had a maximum number of suicides by farmers.

Her book, "Widows of Vidarbha: Making of Shadows", is the story of 18 widows of the area who have been invisible to the state, the community and even their families.

Tracked over two years of research from 2014 to 2016, the widows speak about their lost dreams of education and identity, their diminished view of the world, and their helpless surrender to conveniences of patriarchy.

"One farmer dies every 30 minutes...every 30 minutes, the life of one woman is irretrievably thrown into chaos -- in rural societies they are not allowed education. They are married off very early. Once they are married, they play the pre-decided roles.

"They are home-bound. The boundaries are very clearly edged -- confining the woman to finding her own capabilities or her own identity," Neelima explained.

"When the husband dies, the wife, who has not been visible before, becomes even more invisible," she added.

IANS

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Had a very unique relationship with Reema Lagoo: Rakesh Bedi

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Remembering the late actress Reema Lagoo, who was his co-star in the cult TV show "Shrimaan Shrimati" that aired on Doordarshan from 1994-1999, veteran actor Rakesh Bedi says he had a very "peculiar and unique" relationship with her.

Rakesh, who will be seen as Yashwant in a play titled "Wrong Number" presented by production house Felicity Theatre and directed by Raman Kumar on Sunday, reminisced the time he shared with Reema and his other late co-star Jatin Kanakia during the time of the hit TV show.

"'Shrimaan Shrimati' was a great show and definitely it was greater because I had co-actors like Jatin Kanakia, Reema Lagoo and Archana Puran Singh. With extreme grief, I say that we have lost Jatin long back (July 20, 1999) and Reema recently. I had a very peculiar and unique relationship with her," Rakesh told IANS in an email interaction.

Rakesh says he used to lovingly poke Reema all the time on the sets.

"I knew her for a long time and I used to trouble her a lot in a funny way. I used to make sure that she gets angry with me, I used to do things that she gets upset and shouts at me and after an hour she will find me, hug me and share a cup of tea together as soon as she becomes normal.

"I started irritating her again and this went on and on during the process of 'Shrimaan Shrimati'. So it wasn't a love-hate relationship but one filled with lots of love," said the 63-year-old actor.

On Jatin, Rakesh says that with him it was more of a professional relationship.

"Jatin was very junior to me so I didn't interact with him on a one to one basis. Professionally, we used to interact a lot but on a personal basis I didn't know him," he said.

On actress Archana Puran Singh, who essayed his wife in the show, Rakesh says she is a very close friend and they share a "fantastic relationship".

"She is a very good actor and a thorough professional".

From the time of "Shrimaan Shrimati" to appearing frequently on "Bhabhi Ji Ghar Par Hain !" in today's time, what are the difference that makes him wish it was still the era of the 90's?

"‘Shrimaan Shrimati' ran almost for four years and took the country by storm. In fact, the people who were seeing it still swear by it and I am very proud to be a part of it. Well, I will say things have changed and things should change now since time doesn't remain stagnant.

"Some of the shows from the past like 'Ye Jo Hai Zindagi', 'Shrimaan Shrimati' and 'Yes Boss' have stood the test of time and have remained in the hearts of the audiences till now," said the actor, who has worked across the film, television and theatre mediums till date.

Not wanting TV dynamics to remain the same, Rakesh stressed on the fact that "new storytelling must happen".

"New actors should come on board and new thoughts and vision, should contribute towards media and the creative work," he said.

Does he feel the face of theatre world is changing in India?

"Yes, definitely the face of theatre in India is changing now. For example my play 'Mera Woh Matlab Nahin Tha'... whenever we have staged the play, it has been a sellout. I must say theatre is been appreciated a lot in India now and given respect too."

The "Chashme Buddoor" actor says people want to see good plays and are willing to pay high ticket prices for the right kind of production.

"The recent example is 'Mughal-e-Azam' where the play was priced extremely heavily but still people went to see it because it was an extravaganza."

For a long time, Rakesh has been missing from the big screen, but he says he will be seen in few films in coming months.

IANS

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I've no time for abuse: Amitabh Bachchan

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Megastar Amitabh Bachchan says he has no time to attend to abuses or trolls as he would rather spend time for work and his fans, whom he refers to as his "extended family (Ef)".

The cine-icon, 75, shares his thoughts on trolling and abuses on his blog.

"A concerned Ef warns me of extensive 'trolls' on the platforms and warns me to be discreet and attentive to what I may say on social media, for the ugliness of the disreputable, affects him, and he urges me to be of care," he wrote.

The "102 Not Out" star says he is aware of it but chooses to avoid it.

"Yes, I care. Yes, I know of the abuse and yes, I wish they be of greater intensity towards me for then it forms an unattainable mindset for even greater achieving attention given to such translates into what the troller actually wanted - notice," he added.

The thespian says trolls provoke him to do better.

"I have no time for abuse... I have time for my work, for my Ef and this Blog... I do not have time to attend to abuse. I love it actually, for it provokes me to betterment. (It) provokes me to get bigger and vastly improve myself, my demeanour, my standing and my dignity," he added.

Big B says he is "grateful to them" for it "drives me better and longer with a better-enlightened mind"

"My love to all. And if any of you would wish to bring me abuse and falsehood, I shall welcome it with open arms," he added.

IANS

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Theatre pays if you do right kind of roles: Rakesh Bedi

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Theatre artistes often rue the medium is not well-paying, but veteran actor Rakesh Bedi says the story would be different if you do the right kind of roles.

Having worked across the film, television and theatre mediums, Rakesh's "Chashme Buddoor" act, as well as his entertaining parts in "Yeh Jo Hai Zindagi", "Shrimaan Shrimati" and "Zabaan Sambhalke" cannot be forgotten. He has also worked in a number of plays and continues to remain active.

The actor will be essaying the role of Yashwant in a play titled "Wrong Number" at the Kamani auditorium here on Sunday.

"It's true that in India, theatre doesn't allow you to pay your bills or monthly expenses. In the past, it didn't give monetary benefits.

"But the kind of theatre I have done has allowed me to some extent to pay my bills and look after my well-being and health," Rakesh told IANS in an email interaction.

Citing the example of "Wrong Number", presented by production house Felicity Theatre and directed by Raman Kumar, Rakesh says the play has given him the ability to do very well financially.

"It is one of those plays which have the ability to do very well and generate a little bit of money for all of us. Another play of mine 'Mera Woh Matlab Nahin Tha', which is a big international hit, has completed 125 shows in two and half years' time and has travelled to the US, Middle East, Singapore, Australia, Kenya and New Zealand," said the 63-year-old actor.

"My play 'Massage' that has been running for 15 years now is giving me sufficient returns. So it is not that theatre doesn't pay you... (only) if you do the right kind of roles," he added.

On films and TV shows today, Rakesh says they demand a fair share of an artiste's time.

"A 25-day schedule becomes a 35-day schedule and leaves me with no time do anything else. If I have to do that kind of work, I have to forego my theatre and forego lots of other activities that I do. I do lots of other things that will be get jeopardised if I do that kind of schedules.

"Having said that, I still do my share of television such as 'Bhabhi Ji Ghar pe hai' and interesting roles in films that are not very time-consuming," he said.

After the play, which also features Delnaaz Irani, Tanaaz Irani, Avtar Gill, Kishwar Merchant, Rajesh Puri and Rahul Bhuchar, Rakesh has written and directed another play on a "burning situation" prevailing in the country nowadays.

"It will be a celebrity-driven play and should hit theatres by the end of this year," said Rakesh.

"Wrong Number" is a play based on juggling with time and space to present the lives and loves, passion and panic of three married couples in a play of love, laughter and mayhem.

IANS

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Comedy is not easy: Kriti Sanon

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Actress Kriti Sanon says working on the Bollywood comic caper "Arjun Patiala" was an exciting journey but she doesn't find comedy an easy genre.

Maddock films is bringing actor-singer Diljit Dosanjh back in uniform, this time with Kriti and actor Varun Sharma, for a laugh riot.

"'Arjun Patiala' was such an exciting journey. Comedy is not an easy genre, and we have added a twist to it. Diljit and Varun have a great comic timing and it was a constant laugh riot on the set," Kriti said in a statement.

Dinesh Vijan, who is producing the film with Bhushan Kumar, said: "Diljit will be seen in the uniform but very different from his avatar in his first Hindi film outing, 'Udta Punjab'.

"This 'police wallah' is a laugh a minute character with swag."

Diljit said: "'Arjun Patiala' is very quirky. It's a film that has action, romance and comedy but with a spin on it. It was a blast shooting it and I hope audiences love it as much."

Varun will be seen as a police officer with a sarcastic tongue and an arrogant stride, who goes by the name of Onida Singh.

"I'm very excited to see the audience's reactions as it's very special. They've given me so much love and appreciation, I want to make sure they have a great time at the theatre," he said.

The trio has a baddie to contend with as Zeeshan Ayyub steps out of his 'good friend' avatar to roam the campus, his hair tied up in a patka, piling up the corpses without batting an eyelid. His character is called School, pronounced in the Punjabi way as Sakool.

"The Rohit Jugraj-directed laugh riot offers plenty of action and dollops of bubble-gum romance. We believe in doing something different every time, and since we have never attempted an out-and-out comedy before, we decided to experiment with one which is more situational than slapstick.

"If this film works, we would be happy to spin a franchise with (characters) Arjun, Onida and Ritu returning as the principal players. We already have an idea for a part 2 and like 'Golmaal' and 'Fukrey', Arjun will be back with a Patiala peg every couple of years," Vijan said.

The film is scheduled to hit the theatres on September 14.

IANS

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Proud of rich cultural bondage between India, UK: Mahesh Sharma

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Minister of State for Culture Mahesh Sharma has lauded the rich cultural bondage between India and the United Kingdom (UK).
 
“India is driven by the philosophy of ‘ Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’, meaning the world is one family and it is the essence of the Indian culture which is the binding force in the country. We are proud of the rich cultural bondage between India and UK,” Dr Sharma said.
 
He was speaking at the Ministerial Opening of the exhibition ‘India & The World – A History in Nine Stories’, along with UK Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sports Matt Hancock, MP, at the National Museum auditorium here yesterday. 
 
British Deputy High Commissioner Alexander Evans, British Museum Director Hartwig Fischer and National Museum Director General B R Mani were also present at the event.
 
The National Museum is hosting the exhibition in collaboration with the British Museum, London and the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (CSMVS), Mumbai with the support of the Culture Ministry.
 
The exhibition chronologically encapsulates the evolution of the Indian civilization since antiquity and its interconnected nature with the outside world through a raft of exquisite artefacts from India and abroad.
 
‘India and the World: A History in Nine Stories’ offers insights into two million years of history. It was planned as part of the commemoration of 70 years of India’s independence and a year of major cultural exchange between India and the UK (UK/India 2017).
 
More than 200 objects from British Museum, London and 20 museums and private collections from India are on display.
 
Speaking on the occasion, Mr Hancock said, “The exhibition manifests the spirit of collaboration between India and UK. It tells the story of India and her proud history in the global context. There is more in common than the differences between our two countries. The exhibition is an example of two thriving nations working side by side to produce something special.”
 
The exhibition will run for two months till June 30. It is open for public viewing on all days from 10 am to 6 pm, except on Mondays and public holidays
 
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India Pavilion inaugurated at Cannes Film Festival 2018

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Co-production opportunities between India and France were explored at the inauguration of the Indian Pavilion at the Cannes Film Festival 2018 here yesterday.
 
Hosted by noted actor Sharad Kelkar, the Indian delegation present at the function comprised Indian Ambassador Vinay Mohan Kwatra, I&B Joint Secretary Ashok Kumar Parmar and Mr Prasoon Joshi, writer, poet and Chairman, Central Board of Film Certification India.
 
Others present were Ms Vani Tripathi Tikoo Member, Central Board of Film Certification, producer-director Jerome Paillard, Executive Director, Marche Du Film Festival, Cannes Film Market, Huma Qureshi,  actress, and filmmakers Shaji Karun,  Jahnu Barua, and Bharat Bala.
 
The agenda of the delegation from India this year is to showcase diversity in films of India while furthering collaborations with various other countries.
 
Speaking about the growth of the nation being well reflected through Indian cinema, Kwatra said what is happening in the country currently is the unprecedented transformation in technology and the economy and that these growing externalities are reflected in Indian cinema.
 
Me Paillard stated that the Indian Pavilion was a very important tool to help to connect the European and worldwide community of films.
 
Speaking about Indo-French Cinema collaboration, Ms Tikoo said India has a fantastic relationship with both Cannes film festival and the French film industry. In recent times, films like Tamasha and Befikre were shot extensively in this part of the world and found great resonance with the narrative storytelling between the two countries.
 
During the Inaugural address, Mr Joshi stressed the need to reach out to young filmmakers who might not have access to a festival like Cannes. Several mini-Cannes film festivals should be organised all around the world to help more and more filmmakers.
 
A meeting between the Indian delegation and Isabelle Giordano, Director General, Unifrance, M Loïc Wong, Director of International Department, CNC, France along with Ms Valérie L’Epine-Karnik, CEO, Film France was held to explore co-production opportunities between India and France.
 
A roundtable discussion was also held to explore collaborations with countries like Brazil, Philippines, Austria, Norway, Sweden, Taiwan, Canada and New Zealand where the film commissioners from these countries discussed the opportunities and challenges for co-production with India. 
 
Discussions were also held with the heads and management of various Indian studios and production houses to see how films in different languages could become more viable and what the government could do to help filmmakers in the country.
 
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Google celebrates Mrinalini Sarabhai’s birth centenary with a doodle

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Internet search engine Google today celebrated the birth centenary of renowned Indian classical dancer Mrinalini Sarabhai with a doodle.
 
Mrinalini was born in Kerala on May 11, 1918. Her parents were S Swaminathan, a lawyer at Madras High Court and AV Ammukutty, better known as Ammu Swaminathan, a social worker and independence activist from an aristocratic Nair family at Anakkara in Palakkad.
 
During her childhood in Switzerland, she had her first lessons in dance at the Dalcroze school on the western techniques of dance. Later, Mrinalini joined Shantiniketan under the guidance of Rabindranath Tagore. She also had a short stint as a student at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in the US.
 
On her return, she underwent training in Bharatanatyam under Meenakshi Sundaram Pillai and the classical dance-drama of Kathakali under the legendary Guru Thakazhi Kunchu Kurup.
 
She married Vikram Sarabhai, who is considered to be the Father of the Indian Space Programme, in 1942. She has a son, Kartikeya and a daughter Mallika who too went on to attain fame in dance and theatre.
 
Mrinalini founded Darpana in Ahmedabad in 1948. A year later, she performed at the Théâtre national de Chaillot in Paris where she received critical acclaim.
 
Mrinalini has the distinction of having choreographed more than 300 dance dramas. She had also authored several novels, poetry, plays and stories for children.
 
She passed away at the age of 97 on January 20, 2016.
 
Google, in a write-up about the doodle, noted that Mrinalini had developed her own technique, spirit, and strength by training at a young age, studying both the South Indian classical dance form of Bharatanatyam and the classical dance-drama of Kathakali.
 
“One of the few classical dancers trained in more than one form, Sarabhai was able to quickly build a career in choreography and teaching. Despite seeing the continuous evolution of dance forms over her multi-decade career, she was inspired to choreograph more than three hundred dance dramas with a strong base of classical tradition behind them.
 
“Sarabhai hoped to share the craft with future generations, which led her and her husband to found the Darpana Academy of Performing Arts in 1949. The small dance academy grew to become not only a study centre for diverse art forms but one that used the power of arts to bring about positive change to the critical issues facing society.
 
“Today’s Doodle, illustrated by Sudeepti Tucker, depicts Sarabhai with her signature parasol, standing proudly in the auditorium of that same academy where her students are dancing on stage,” it added.
 
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Akshay Kumar lends support to new campaign on menstrual hygiene

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Even months after the release of "Pad Man", Bollywood star Akshay Kumar has continued his effort to spread awareness about menstrual hygiene. He has now lent support to a new campaign, bridging the gap between sanitary napkin users from 18% to 82%.

The #18to82 campaign is a part of the Niine Movement, aimed at raising awareness about menstrual hygiene and tackling the age-old stigma against menstruation across both genders and all age groups.

Akshay, who boldly tackled the issue in Hindi film "Pad Man", took to social media to support the campaign with the message: "Only 18% of Indian women use sanitary napkins vs 82% who use unhygienic means. I support the #NIINEMovement which breaks the taboos on periods. Help bridge the gap from #18to82."

The actor said in a statement: "Open and unafraid conversations on menstruation are powerful as they help to break down taboos... Menstrual hygiene is an urgent issue that we must resolve in India.

"Together, we can ensure that every female has the right to manage her period safely and with dignity, and the Niine Movement can drive the social revolution that India needs to initiate change for an entire country. The empowerment of women is the empowerment of a nation."

The Niine Movement is conceived by social entrepreneur Amar Tulsiyan.

Tulsiyan said: "We each have a responsibility to do what we can to tackle the taboos around menstruation and educate the next generation about periods in the right way. It is my hope that through the campaign, the Niine Movement becomes the spark that leads the way in bringing menstrual hygiene and dignity to every woman and girl in India."

An ambitious five-year plan committed to grass-roots change, the movement will be launched at the Menstrual Awareness Conclave, to be held here on Menstrual Hygiene Awareness Day on May 28.

It will convene film personalities, academics, policymakers, government officials, activists, business stalwarts, NGOs and thought-leaders, including Akshay, to discuss the impact that stigma and taboos on menstruation have had on holding girls and women back for centuries.

IANS

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Had to deal with sexual advances from people in and outside film world: Huma Qureshi at Cannes

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Actress Huma Qureshi says she has had to deal with people making sexual advances at her, not only in the cinema industry but by people from different professions.

Asked about sexual exploitation and harassment of women, Huma said: "Well, as a woman, absolutely, I have had to deal with people making advances at me, but not just people from the business of film industry, but people across different professions and different strata. I think it has a lot to do with power, it is not only limited to the film business."

Here for the 71st Cannes Film Festival as a brand ambassador for Grey Goose, Huma engaged in a freewheeling interview with this correspondent on the #MeToo movement, freedom of expression and the situation of women in India, besides her own journey

She said for many women at the receiving end, it becomes difficult to come out and speak. "In India and elsewhere in the world, the moment a woman speaks out against harassment, people sort of start making all sorts of character judgments about her, about her morality, about what she was wearing and all such things and I think that is not fair," she added.

"If a woman is saying something out loud, she is asking for help and you have no business to character assassinating her. You have to reach out to her and help her and protect her and I think we need to protect our women and we need to protect our children."

On the spate of incidents involving rapes of minors in India, Huma said the incidents showed the need for a major change, and from within. "Only laws cannot help, the change has to be more profound and more voluntary and from within," she said.

Huma also emphasised on the need to open up the world of cinema to the common people, adding that the global cinema needed to be democratised to make not only watching films more accessible but also to allow more people to make films and show them to the world.

The actress touched upon the point of democratisation of cinema during her speech too at the inauguration of the India Pavilion here.

"I think it is happening and it should happen. One thing is that more and more people are turning to digital, which of course makes the whole thing far cheaper and hence filmmaking is no longer a protected, elitist, closed medium anymore. More and more people now have access to making films and watching films. I think it is so important," she told this correspondent.

"A lot of issues that we have in the world today arise from the fact that we do not know enough about each other's cultures, that we don't respect each other's origins and there is so much negativity and strife around because we don't know where the other person is coming from.

"A lot of this would be quelled if we are able to embrace each other in terms of traditions, culture, language, food, beliefs and dress. Cinema has the ability to transcend all these differences," she added.

For the "Gangs Of Wasseypur", "Luv Shuv Tey Chicken Khurana", "Dedh Ishqiya" and "Viceroy's House" actress, coming back to Cannes is special as it was here that her first film "Gangs of Wasseypur" was screened six years ago.

"It was literally like a dream come true. I did not even for a moment think that a film about gangsters from India and that too set in that period and in the heartland, a place like Wasseypur, would find a resonance with the French or global audience. But I remember the screening over here and it was a very special occasion," she said.

"We got a standing ovation and after we had people talking to us about how the film touched them or how they were able to connect with the film. And that for me was very heartening as it taught me that films which talk about your own culture, but with a global perspective will always find resonance across the world," she added.

On her filmography, Huma said she has been enjoying herself, doing different kinds of roles and working in different languages.

"I am very excited about the work I am doing right now, I am very excited about the people with who I am working. I keep constantly looking for projects that are challenging. A lot of people complain that I do less work, but I don't want to keep repeating myself and keep doing the same thing again and again. I don't want to be the biggest movie star in the world. I just want to be the happiest! (laughs)"

Huma was blunt when asked about the spate of attacks on films and filmmakers in India.

"That kind of hooliganism should not be tolerated by any government. I think the film as a medium has always been at the receiving end from everybody and it is sad as films are meant to entertain and help you transcend to another place and culture," she said.

Huma was of the view that any culture where there is no free exchange of ideas, where there is no free art, that culture itself is not free in any sense. The attacks have to be "constantly kept in check if we want to continue to remain a democratic and a free country," she added.

IANS

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Actors Neha Dhupia, Angad Bedi get married

Actors Neha Dhupia and Angad Bedi at their wedding in New Delhi on May 10, 2018.
Actors Neha Dhupia and Angad Bedi at their wedding in New Delhi on May 10, 2018.
Actress and former beauty queen Neha Dhupia surprised her fans and friends from the industry with the news of her hush-hush wedding with actor and "best friend" Angad Bedi, son of ex-Indian cricketer Bishan Singh Bedi, here on Thursday.
 
She has called it the "best decision" of her life.
 
The newly wed couple got married in an Anand Karaj ceremony attended by close family and friends in a Gurudwara in south Delhi. They made the announcement via social media.
 
"Best decision of my life... Today, I married my best friend. Hello there, husband! Angad Bedi," Neha posted on her official Instagram page along with a photograph from their wedding proceedings.
 
Angad, known for his performance in "Pink", also posted: "Best friend...now wife! Well, Hello there Mrs Bedi! Neha Dhupia."
 
For the ceremony, Neha looked resplendent in a blush pink ensemble by designer Anita Dongre. The lehenga was intricately crafted with the age-old Rajasthani embroideries of gota patti, zari, pearl, dori, zardozi and sequin work. She completed her look with a piece from the designer's jewellery line -- a detachable choker made in gold and uncut diamonds, which were accentuated by Colombian emeralds and small pearls.
 
The jhumkas were in gold with uncut diamonds, Colombian emeralds, pearls and a touch of enamel, and the maangtika was made in gold with an emerald and Iolite.
 
A pink bindi added to the beauty of the actress, who won the Miss India title in 2002.
 
The groom wore a cream sherwani with a 'saafa' matching Neha's ensemble, and he carried magenta accents for a dash of colour.
 
The wedding was attended by Ajay Jadeja, Ashish Nehra and Gaurav Kapoor.
 
A source close to the couple told IANS that Neha and Angad wanted a very intimate ceremony, and so there was not much buzz about it.
 
From the film industry, celebrities like Karan Johar, Soha Ali Khan, Raftaar, Harshvardhan Kapoor, Rannvijay Singha, Sophie Choudry, sent in early congratulatory messages to the couple via Twitter.
 
"My darling and most special friend Neha Dhupia who I love and adore dearly is married to the gentleman and talented Angad Bedi! Here's wishing them decades of unconditional love," Karan wrote.
 
Neha's "Roadies Xtreme" co-host Rannvijay wrote: "Congratulations to my dear friends Neha Dhupia and Angad Bedi! This is just amazing! Hope you have a happy married life!
 
Tusshar Kapoor wished the couple "a very happy married life", adding that "some matches like yours are truly made in heaven!"
 
IANS
 
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James Blunt adores music's unifying power

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Whether it is from love or his various experiences or his view of politics, "You're beautiful" star James Blunt likes to draw inspiration from the world around him. The Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter says music unites people irrespective of caste, gender or religion.

"I write about a number of different subjects. I have written a song titled 'Someone singing along'. It is about the politics in the world today and how politicians strive to divide us and tell us we should be afraid of people who are different from us," Blunt told IANS in a recorded response.

"I know from my time in the Army, but also as a musician, that people no matter from where we are from or what colour or skin or religions or sects, we actually connect with each other with the same emotion."

"I play a song about my own experiences, yet people no matter where they are from, they connect to the song with the same human emotion."

Born in Tidworth, Wiltshire, Blunt spent his 20s in the British Army and left the force for a music career in 2002. His debut album "Back To Bedlam" came out in 2004, but didn't do much for his career initially.

But soon his single "You're beautiful" got noticed, giving him his big ticket to fame.

Since then, he has proved his versatility -- from singing classic ballads, including tropical house beats and R&B to his tunes. He has released albums "All The Lost Souls", "Some Kind Of Trouble", "Moon Landing" and "The Afterlove", and got multiple Grammy nominations.

He has gone on world tours and was supposed to come to India as part of The Afterlove Tour earlier this year.

Blunt admits that he started with a rather small dream and did not envision getting global success.

"It is still an amazing and very exciting journey. It has taken me almost 15 years on the road travelling around the world, starting with the song 'You're beautiful' and an album.

"My dream perhaps was only to tour London and instead it has taken me all around the world. I am very grateful to that."

There is an ongoing dialogue around balancing the gender scale and diversity in the entertainment world.

Asked about the scene in the music industry, Blunt said: "I can truly understand it. It must be incredibly difficult in so many industries, especially in the music industry. I have always identified myself with it and hopefully, we will progress."

Blunt had to perform in Bengaluru in April at the gig, which was promoted by Hedone Entertainment. Blunt had a reason behind why he could not perform in India his Facebook page, saying the event got called off "due to the failure of the promoter to enact contract terms".

On his bond with India, he said: "I came to India only once in my life for two weeks. I had an amazing experience... I have many friends who talk about life, music and rich culture."

He knows a little bit about Indian music.

"I know a little bit of it. I am definitely no encyclopaedia on it. I look forward to hearing more of Indian music.”

IANS

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Anushka Sharma's new fashion line draws inspiration from Suppandi

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Remember Suppandi, the popular character from the Tinkle comics universe? In an effort to popularise Indian pop culture and celebrate it globally, actress Anushka Sharma has sought design inspiration from Suppandi for the spring-summer collection line of her label NUSH.

For Anushka, reading comics was an integral part of her growing up years. Suppandi, who was presented as a well-meaning village simpleton inadvertently caught up in everyday adventures, was one of her favourite characters.

NUSH and Tinkle Comics have collaborated on this endeavour to bring out a cool and comfortable fashion collection, comprising tops and dresses.

The actress will actively promote the Suppandi clothing line not just in India but globally.

"While we celebrate the Avengers or Mickey Mouse from the West, images of Suppandi will re-ignite fond recollections of childhood for many people," Anushka said in a statement.

"Suppandi was my (imaginary) buddy as I would gobble up comics featuring him on lazy summer afternoons. I wanted to flesh out his place in our happy childhood memories with the brand's summer collection, and we have worked at retaining the simple, comfortable element of Suppandi in his line," she added.

The line will be available from Wednesday.

"This Nush x Suppandi collection is reminiscent of all those lazy summer afternoons we spent reading stories of India's favourite simpleton. The collection brings back the innocence and joy of childhood while also being contemporary and chic," said Sanjay Dhar, President, Amar Chitra Katha.

IANS

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As state steps back, culture gets private sector leg up

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This is the fifth  and concluding part of the "Shifting Sands of Culture" series, in which five noted personalities address diverse issues and trace the changing dynamics of India's culture in articles written exclusively for IANS. In this article, Ashok Vajpeyi reflects on the role that state plays, or should play, in promoting cultural activities and institutions. 
 
More than 25 years ago, the Indian government decided to put together a National Policy of Culture in keeping with more than a hundred countries that had such policies. In fact, there was, at that time, a special division in Unesco which had already organised two world conferences on the matter. Here too a national colloquium on culture policy was organised in 1992 in Delhi in which nearly a hundred writers, artists, performers, intellectuals and experts debated a white paper, which, as the Joint Secretary of the Deptartment of Culture, I had prepared.
 
The move, however, evoked controversy and the main issue was that state could not set a policy for culture which is the business of society as distinct from the state. This issue completely ignored the fact that the National Culture Policy document tried to delineate a policy framework for the cultural institutions and activities such as the Archaeological Survey of India, the three national academies, the National Museum, the NGMA, the National Archives, the National Library, et al, which are publicly funded and are run largely either as adjuncts of the Indian government or as autonomous institutions such as the Lalit Kala Akademi, the Indira Gandhi National Centre of Arts and the Zonal Cultural Centres, among others.
 
Also, one key element of the National Culture Policy was that the government's expenditure on culture must, over the years, rise to one per cent of the total budget of from a dismal 0.1 per cent.
 
The National Culture Policy went through a series of consultations, including by a Parliamentary Standing Committee but was nearly forgotten, if not given up, by 1997. Later attempts were made to revise, review and re-present it, but nothing much happened. In the meanwhile, a government is in place which has been very assiduously and relentlessly trying to cut down allocations to cultural organisations and giving them, if at all, only to those whose loyalty to its ideology it could be sure of.
 
All arts have been reduced to expensive public spectacles and a lot of public money is being wasted on them without them contributing anything to the enhancement of culture, its dynamic creativity or adding to the broader public awareness of culture.
 
Increasingly, for instance, the three national akademies have reached the brink of utter irrelevance and have almost no truck or dialogue with excellence.
 
It is in this context that we have to locate the availability of public resources for culture. They are evidently dwindling and, in any case, the State is well set on withdrawing substantially like in the education and other welfare sectors. One of the more dependable sources could have been the corporate sector whose presence on the map of support for culture is rather minimal and quite disappointing.
 
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A recent survey of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives shows that quite haltingly the mandated CSR has moved in the sector of culture. There too it is presumably spending no more than maybe two percent of its expenditure on culture. The areas which attract the bulk are health, education and environment. Many major firms have already set up trusts or similar "cultural" organisations and they spend whatever little they do on culture through them.
 
In most advanced countries culture is considered rightly a civic need and activity and civic agencies such as municipal committees and corporations spend on museums, auditoriums and the like. In this area, the performance of these civic bodies in terms of support for culture is abysmally low and marginal. Sadly and most unfortunately, the State, the civic bodies and the corporate sectors are comrades-in-arm in undermining and neglecting culture.
 
If in this highly deprived and despairing scenario there is a vibrant cultural climate in the country it is largely due to personal interest, commitment and initiatives of the creative community. Private art galleries, publishers, theatre groups, small non-commercial journals, literary organisations, music circles and sabhas, dancing groups, etc., have kept alive the rich, complex, celebrative but equally interrogative cultural creativity and imagination, investing them with energy and courage, commitment and hard work.
 
There are some either private or corporate initiatives such as the ITC Sangeet Research Academy Kolkata, the Darpana and Kadamb Ahmedabad, the Raza Foundation, the Cholamandal Artists Group, the Mahagami Aurangabad, etc., which have been supporting various aspects of culture. Sadly they are not many and, in any case, far short of the vast needs of a great civilisation.
 
(Ashok Vajpeyi is a well-known writer in Hindi, and has published over 23 books of poetry, criticism and art. He was awarded the Sahitya Akademi Award in 1994 for his poetry collection, "Kahin Nahin Wahin".)
 
IANS
 

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There were enough highs, lows in Savitri's real story: Director Nag Ashwin

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Director Nag Ashwin, whose labour of love "Mahanati" -- on the life of late legendary actress Savitri -- will release on Wednesday, says there was no need for any "cinematic liberty" for the movie as her own life was so full of highs and lows.

"The film is very honest. Whatever was going on in that period is what we have tried to reflect. When she was younger, there was a certain mood and a certain way she behaved and the way the world was around her. When she became successful, how was it... And when she was in a sort of spiral, how was she and how the world was around her...

"That way, there's no purposeful cinematic liberty in 'Mahanati'. We have not forced any unnecessary things because there were enough highs and lows in her real story. We just had to space it out correctly. There was no need to add any heroism to it," the director told IANS over the phone.

A bilingual project, the biographical period film on Telugu cinema's multi-faceted talent, is titled "Mahanati" in Telugu and "Nadigaiyar Thilagam" in Tamil. She acted in award-winning films and had a flourishing career as a director and producer too, apart from being known for her philanthropic ways, but the latter part of her career saw her battle financial problems and alcoholism, which led to her decline.

Savitri started her career young. How did the team zero in on the aspects of her life to highlight in the biopic?

"It's quite hard actually...the writing process of a biopic. When you write a real story, it's always harder. But mostly if you see any biopic made in India or abroad, it's mainly about a part of the person's life. It's not the full story of birth to death as mostly, the film medium doesn't help. A TV series or now web series is a good medium.

"But for us, trying to fit that into a film was quite hard... It took a lot of writing and trial and error. We managed to map it. So, that way, it's a unique biopic because not many people do a full circle," explained Ashwin, applauding Keerthy for having undergone a lot of transformations for her look in the film.

Produced by Priyanka Dutt of Swapna Cinema and presented by Vyjayanthi Movies, the movie features an ensemble of well-known actors, with Keerthy Suresh playing Savitri and Dulquer Salmaan essaying Gemini Ganesan. There are also Samantha Akkineni, Naga Chaitanya, Vijay Devarakonda, as well as a slew of other celebrated actors from the southern film industry.

Getting together such names from the industry "was quite stressful", but a "complete pleasure", says Ashwin.

"All of them were no-hassle and super talented actors. They made the film better. I think all of them came on board out of pure love for Savitri garu and the history that the film wants to show... So whether it was a lead or non-lead, people became a part of it without inhibitions."

At this point, he is more excited than nervous to see what the audience thinks of the movie.

As far as the industry is concerned, he says there's a sort of reverence people have for Savitri, and so, "there's a lot of positivity".

Ashwin says he is not nervous because he is confident of what he has created.

"From the beginning, we just had one thing in mind -- we wanted to keep it as honest as possible to her spirit, her story, to the facts... As far as that goes, we have achieved what we set out to do. There will obviously be people who had expected more or less, but I think we have done our bit. That way, there's no pressure...because sometimes when you don't do enough, then there's pressure and you think what will happen? But because we did what we set out do, we think it's up to our expectations."

IANS

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Dance movies set to take a 'step up' in Bollywood

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Is every Bollywood movie a dance movie? How does one define a dance movie? Dance has always been an intrinsic part of films in India. But choreographers like Shiamak Davar and Terence Lewis sense the brewing of a new movement to their advantage -- all thanks to Remo D'Souza's "ABCD: Any Body Can Dance".

Late actor Shammi Kapoor prancing around to energetic numbers, Mithun Chakraborty's pelvic thrusts in "Disco Dancer" and Govinda's dance moves in songs like "Sarkaye liyo khatia jada lage" and "Ankhiyon se goli mare" -- Bollywood has always had an affair with dance.

Now, fast forward to the present, and the rendezvous has got more sophisticated.

"'ABCD: Any Body Can Dance' is the start of dance movies. It is a movie which shows hip-hop and street. I don't see exactly a 'Black Swan' (in the future), but (we are) going into that space. We have dance troupes going on seven-month-long tours as a contemporary dance company because we don't have that kind of audience here," Ashley Lobo told IANS.

"There will come a time when that kind of work will be in films," added Lobo, who has choreographed in movies like "Rockstar" and "Guzaarish".

Choreographers Lobo, Melvin Louis, Terence Lewis and Ganesh Hegde spoke to IANS on behalf of Sony PIX, a channel which often showcases different instalments of popular dance film "Step Up".

National Award-winning choreographer Davar, who has made icons like Shah Rukh Khan, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Kareena Kapoor Khan, Kevin Spacey and John Travolta sway to his steps, appreciates the growing culture of dance films.

"I think choreographers have a great vision and the ability to translate that into movement or film. It is great to see films that have dance as its core essence. It is a great opportunity for dancers also to find a larger platform and see themselves on the big screen," Davar told IANS.

After D'Souza hit jackpot with the "ABCD" franchise, a bevvy of dance films charged up with star power of names like Varun Dhawan, Katrina Kaif, Sooraj Pancholi and Isabelle Kaif have been announced.

Louis feels it is all about staying in sync with the trend.

"Basically everyone wants to make money. It is no more just about passion. It is also because they want commercial success and it is a big market," Louis told IANS, pointing out that the new age dance-based films are captivating the younger lot.

Terence, who specialises in Indian folk, contemporary and neo-classical dance forms, said, "All our films are dance films if compared to international films".

"It is not a new concept in Bollywood," said Terence, expressing the hope of seeing better quality dancing in the movies to come in the future.

In fact, the choreographers are working on their own version of dance films.

"I'm in the process of writing a dance film based on choreography. It is not in a genre of works which happens in India but more on what happens overseas," Lobo said, sharing that it will be about what an Indian company does on foreign shores.

The idea has found its way into the mind of Louis as well.

"I'm always thinking about it. It is on my bucket film. I will make a dance movie which will be a crazy dance movie. It will not be stereotypical. I will take it into a very different dimension."

Terence, who has choreographed international stage shows, Bollywood shows, Broadway Western musicals and music videos, is also writing a dance film and promises it will be very different.

But Hegde doesn't understand what the fuss is about.

"We had 'Disco Dancer', there was Shammi Kapoor in 'Teesri Manzil' who was looking like Elvis Presley. He was a performer. Just because our stories do not revolve around dance that does not mean that dance movies were not there," said Hegde, known for his work in films like "Black", "Koi...Mil Gaya" and "Khamoshi: The Musical".

He feels if a plot is about dance, then it limits the range of the project.

"Because someone who is 60 or 70 might not be interested in who wins the dance competition. It might not be a universal subject for everyone."

The dance guru feels one should not "concentrate more on making a collage of various dance moves and various dance episodes throughout the film".

"It should be a movie first and then dance should help the movie. It should not be about how beautifully you have shot six dance sequences," added Hegde, who hopes to make a movie which stays long in the minds of people.

IANS

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Radiant in red, Sonam Kapoor gets married to Anand Ahuja

 
Bride Sonam looks bright in red on her D-day
 
 
Actress Sonam Kapoor, who has earned the 'fashionista' tag in Bollywood with her experimental taste, chose a traditional bright red lehenga with heavy jewellery for her wedding day as she got married to long-time beau Anand Ahuja at a ceremony here on Tuesday morning.
 
Sonam wore a lotus-motif ensemble by designer Anuradha Vakil and looked every bit the Punjabi bride with her hands adorned by a deep maroon colour of henna, both wrists full of the 'chooda' and 'kaleere'. She wore a statement maatha-patti.
 
The groom, a Delhi-based businessman, too looked dapper in a Raghavendra Rathore creation, a beige sherwani. He paired his sherwani with a beige and cream 'saafa' along with pearl and ruby strings.
 
The wedding took place at Sonam's aunt's place in Bandra here, with a slew of close family and friends of the couple in attendance.
 
The wedding proceedings were closely guarded as even Sonam arrived at the venue in a car with curtains hiding her look from the media. 
 
Later, an official photograph of the actress in her bridal avatar was released. However, curious fans of the actress were filled in with inside photographs and video snippets via social media.
 
A short video showcasing Sonam walking the aisle saw the actress being accompanied by her brothers, led by Harshvardhan and cousin Arjun.
 
Sonam's father and veteran actor Anil Kapoor and brother Harshvardhan looked smart in sherwanis while cousins Janhvi, Khushi, Anshula, Shanaya and Arjun were dressed in ethnic designer wear for the special day. 
 
Other family members Boney Kapoor, Sanjay Kapoor and Maheep Kapoor too were present for the occasion.
 
From the film and fashion industry, Amitabh Bachchan, Abhishek Bachchan, Karan Johar, Jacqueline Fernandez, Rani Mukerji, Swara Bhasker, Kareena Kapoor Khan, Saif Ali Khan, Karisma Kapoor, designer Masaba Gupta and stylist Pernia Qureshi were present.
 
The actress' "Veere Di Wedding" co-star Kareena looked elegant in a soft pink ensemble as she walked colour co-ordinated with husband Saif and son Taimur.
 
Sonam, after debuting in Bollywood with "Saawariya" in 2008, has featured in movies like "Delhi-6", "Aisha", "Raanjhanaa", "Bhaag Milkha Bhaag", "Khoobsurat", "Prem Ratan Dhan Payo", "Neerja" and "Pad Man". 
 
Her performance in "Neerja" won her a Special Mention at the National Film Awards.
 
Sonam is known for her unique but impeccable taste in fashion and is known to be quite a trendsetter.
 
Before what seems like bringing red back in fashion with her bridal outfit on Tuesday, Sonam chose to go with subtle colours for her pre-wedding ceremonies.
 
For her mehendi function on Sunday, she chose a peach and grey sharara ensemble by Vakil, and for her grand sangeet celebrations on Monday, she was elegance personified in a heavy ivory lehenga by Abu Janu-Sandeep Khosla.
 
The newlyweds will make an appearance together for the media on Tuesday evening at a reception at The Leela here.
 
IANS
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