Crowdfunding campaign launched to save 1,000 years old theatre art in Kerala

Guru Margi Madhu Chakyar (R) and his son Nepathya Sreehari Chakyar help Koodiyattam student Nepathya Yadukrishnan get ready for a performance
Guru Margi Madhu Chakyar (R) and his son Nepathya Sreehari Chakyar help Koodiyattam student Nepathya Yadukrishnan get ready for a performance
A crowdfunding campaign has been launched to help protect one of the world’s oldest known theatre art forms from dying out for want of patronage and interest in the modern world.
The Nepathya Centre for Koodiyattam in Kerala is being supported by Sahapedia, the online encyclopedia of Indian arts and culture, in its goal to raise Rs 20 lakh via the crowdfunding platform BitGiving, to train a new generation of artistes in what constitutes the only surviving form of ancient Sanskrit theatre in the world.
Koodiyattam, a performance art that draws on the plays of Sanskrit dramatists of antiquity, is believed to have followed an unbroken tradition for more than 1,000 years in the state of Kerala. 
A highly stylized art form, Koodiyattam (Kutiyattam) evolved its unique theatre grammar over centuries with its own complex conventions, gestures and expressions, which require many years of arduous training to master.
Once limited to temples, Koodiyattam emerged on to performance stages and international audiences in the 1950s, thanks to the efforts of celebrated gurus such as Mani Madhava Chakyar, Painkulam Rama Chakyar and Ammannur Madhava Chakyar.
Today there are only around 50 practitioners of this art form and institutions such as Kalamandalam, Margi and Ammannur Gurukulam in Kerala impart training in Koodiyattam.
Nepathya, a school based in Moozhikulam in Thrissur district, is focused exclusively on Koodiyattam and is trying to preserve the most difficult of its traditional repertoires which need more time to master and which are not as popular as others because of their scholarly content. A not-for-profit institution, it was started 15 years ago to train a new generation of actors exclusively in Kutiyattam.
Nepathya’s founder and guru Margi Madhu says the lack of public awareness is one of the reasons for poor financial support and dearth of young artistes keen to learn. The crowdfunding drive is also doubling up as an awareness campaign.
“Nepathya has been struggling to raise funds for the past 12 years,” he says. “Currently, we are at risk of losing our trained artistes. Training a new student takes almost a decade and each time an artiste leaves, we go back to square one. We only have three senior students (and two young ones) and four drummers left because of lack of funding.”
These senior students — Rahul Gopinath, Yadhukrishnan K R and Vishnuprasad K R — aged around 20, have been training at Nepathya since the age of seven. They have undergone the preliminary stages of training and are now ready for the rigours of the more scholarly repertoires.
Margi Madhu says the funds raised on BitGiving will support the training of the three in Anguliyankam, the sixth act of the play 9th Century play Ascharyachudamani (The Wondrous Crest Jewel) by Saktibhadra.
It is an extremely difficult sequence to learn, needing up to three years of comprehensive study of the manuscripts, choreographic texts, and acting principles; and takes a full month to perform on stage. There are only three or four artistes in Koodiyattam today who can perform it in its entirety and only one or two artists who know its drumming patterns.
Nepathya will use the funds to enable its student artistes and drummers to dedicate more of their time and efforts to learning.
Rahul, Yadhukrishnan and Vishnugopal are about to graduate from engineering colleges and under pressure to take up full-time jobs to earn a living. Margi Madhu says their families are supportive, but Koodiyattam will not sustain them unless it finds both aficionados and patronage.
“The real depth of the art lies in its ability to elevate the minds of the viewers. To do that the artistes themselves have to experience the pleasure of the art, and explore the depths of the performances,” he adds.  “They cannot do so if they are burdened by the prospect of looking for paying jobs, which is why we need funds to support them.”
UNESCO has declared Koodiyattam as a ‘Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity’.
“It would be a tragedy and a shame if an art form that has survived for a thousand years dies on our watch,” says Dr. Sudha Gopalakrishnan, the Executive Director of Sahapedia, “We are wholly behind Nepathya’s efforts to save and popularize this ancient art. Koodiyattam is intimately connected to the cultural history of Kerala and the great traditions of Sanskrit literature, we have to preserve it whichever way we can. Supporting Nepathya is one step in that direction for all of us.”
The architect of the crowdfunding campaign, Neha Paliwal, Sahapedia’s Director, Projects says the campaign, which was launched on at the end of July and will run for two months, has so far raised Rs 1.02 lakh from ten patrons. “Such campaigns offer platforms for public participation in culture conservation efforts. It will also, hopefully, enable more people to see the beauty and value of art forms such as Koodiyattam that have historically been accessible to smaller communities.”
She said Sahapedia will use both its online portal as well as social media and other digital platforms to introduce Koodiyattam to a wider audience.          

“Indian Historical Monuments in Company Painting School” exhibition begins in National Museum

An exhibition on “Indian Historical monuments in Company Painting School” has opened at the Ajanta Hall in the National Museum here.
The exhibition, inaugurated by Additional Secretary, Culture, Sujata Prasad yesterday will go on until August 27. It presents illustrated paintings on Indo-Islamic monuments with scenes of Mughal architecture created with a photo realistic approach.
The National Museum took a new initiative on a “Small Temporary Exhibition” from its reserve collection. The exhibitions will be based on several themes, so that it will attract a large number of visitors to view new artefacts every fortnight.
Through such programmes, the National Museum is trying to draw the visitors' attention and allows them to experience the collection on many significant art pieces of reserve storage, which generally remains out of focus.
In the 18th and 19th centuries, India witnessed a new genre of painting popularly known as ‘Company School’ as it emerged primarily under the patronage of the British East India Company. The British officers trained Indian artists in British water colour style for documenting Indian daily life scene, monuments, art and culture in the form of paintings for carrying out as a souvenir to their homes while returning to the England.
Some of these Company Paintings depict Mughal architecture. As these paintings were part of documentation, most of these monuments were painted in full profile such as Red Fort of Delhi (1639-48 CE) and Taj Mahal (1630-48 CE). A few of them depict only some parts highlighting special features like the interior of the tomb of Itimad-ud-Daula.
Among the 12 paintings on display are Chini ka Rauza, Agra (Company Period, 19th Century) Paper 8.9 x 7.4 inch; Buland-Darwaza, Fatehpur Sikri (Company Period, 19th Century) Paper 8.9 x 7.4 inch; Gateway of Taj Mahal, Agra (Company Period, 19th Century) Paper 8.8 x 7.4 inch; Sketch of Red Fort, Agra from the riverside (Company Period, 19th Century) Paper 8.8 x 7.3 inch; Railing around the Graves inside the Taj Mahal, Agra (Company Period, 19th Century) Paper 8.9 x 7.3 inch; Akbar’s Tomb, Agra (Company Period, 19th Century) Paper 8.8 x 7.4 inch.
The temporary exhibition from the Reserve Collection of National Museum is formulated to display a variety of objects from the National Museum Reserve Collection for six months. Stuccos from Taxila will be on display in August. The next month, September will have Exploring Seals: Silver, copper, stone seals with bilingual and trilingual inscriptions from the Epigraphy followed by another exhibition on Ornamental Arms and Armour.
October will feature shoes and sandals from Central Asia and Folk objects of Bengal: With special reference to the wooden dolls and sholapitha objects.
November will see Man: the creator, the development of tool making by Early Man. It will deal with early man and the tools they have used during a different time span of evolution. The Calligraphy in the Holy Quran will also be on display in the same month. December will have Western Art in Indian Museum.
The first temporary exhibition at the National Museum was on “Traditional Headgear of India” from the Decorative Arts department inaugurated by Ms Rashmi Verma, Secretary, Culture & Tourism on July 24 at Ajanta Hall (First floor). This exhibition showcased printed turban, embroidered dopalli and Maratha stitched cap and zardozi cap specially designed for occasional and ceremonial occasions.

Lyricist Prasoon Joshi replaces Pahlaj Nihalani as Chairperson of CBFC

Prasoon Joshi
Prasoon Joshi
The Government today appointed well-known lyricist and advertising guru Prasoon Joshi as the new Chairperson of the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC), replacing filmmaker Pahlaj Nihalani whose controversial tenure has been brought to an abrupt end.
An official press release said Mr. Joshi's appointment will be for a period of three years from today or until further orders, whichever is earlier.
In the normal course, Mr. Nihalani's three-year term would have ended on January 18, 2018.
"In exercise of the powers conferred by sub-section (1) of section 3 of the Cinematograph Act, 1952 (37 of 1952) read with rule 3 of the Cinematograph (Certification) Rules, 1983, the Central Government is pleased to appoint Sh. Prasoon Joshi as Chairperson of the Central Board of Film Certification in an honorary capacity from 11th August, 2017 for a period of three years or until further orders, whichever is earlier," the release said.
In a separate announcement, the Government also said it had reconstituted the CBFC Board, which will now include well-known actresses Gautami Tadimalla and Vidya Balan.
The other members include Hindi writer Narendra Kohli, filmmakers Naresh Chandra Lal, Vivek Agnihotri and T. S. Nagabharana, Shillong Chamber Choir conductor and pianist Neil Herbert Nongkynrih, National School of Drama Director Waman Kendre, writer and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) activist Ramesh Patange, former BJP secretary and actor Vani Tripathi Tikoo, actress Jeevitha Rajasekhar and Gujarati writer Mihir Bhuta.
Bhuta, Patange, Jeevitha and Tripathi Tikoo were members of the previous Board headed by Mr. Nihalani.
The members will have a term of three years or until further orders, whichever is earlier, the release added.
Mr. Nihalani had run into clashes with several filmmakers who accused him of seeking "irrational" cuts in their movies and of moral policing. Some of his colleagues were also unhappy with his style of functioning and they said he was running the CBFC on the basis of his personal whims and fancies.
Among the controversies were his refusal to certify "Lipstick Under My Burqa", his objection to the word "intercourse" in the Shah Rukh Khan-starrer "When Harry Met Sejal" and the decision to bleep out words like "cow" and "Hindu India" in a documentary on renowned economist and Nobel laureate Amartya Sen.
In another controversial move, the CBFC had ordered as many as 89 cuts in the film "Udta Punjab" but the High Court restored all the scenes, except one.
Mr. Joshi is a lyricist, screenwriter, poet and marketer. He is the winner of the National Award twice and the Filmfare Award thrice for his lyrics for Hindi films. He was honoured by the Government with the Padma Shri in 2015.
Mr. Joshi began writing at an early age and took up advertising as a career, starting out with Ogilvy & Mather in Delhi before moving to Mumbai. In 2002, he joined McCann-Erickson as executive vice-president and national creative director. By 2006, he was regional creative director for South and South East Asia. In December 2006 he was promoted to executive chairman for McCann Worldgroup India and regional creative director for Asia Pacific.
He made his debut as a film lyricist with Rajkumar Santoshi's Lajja, followed by Yash Chopra's Hum Tum, Fanaa, Rang De Basanti, Taare Zameen Par, Black and Delhi 6. With Rang De Basanti (2006), he also became a dialogue writer. He had also written the script for the award-winning 2014 film Bhaag Milkha Bhaag.

Indian Navy Band to perform in Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo 2017 in UK

The Indian Navy Band has been invited to participate and perform in the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo 2017 in the United Kingdom from August 1 to 26.
The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo is an international event of military music performance undertaken by the Armed Forces. It is the largest tattoo performed in the world in the majestic, sprawling stretch of Edinburgh Castle Esplanade, Scotland. 
An official press release said the invitation to the Indian Navy Band to participate in the event is a matter of pride and a befitting recognition of its professional prowess.
It said the participation of the band in the event woudl further cement the ties between the two countries, more so, when the two countries have declared 2017 as the India-UK Year of Culture to celebrate cultural ties and the 70th year of Indian independence. 
"The Indian Navy Band has been practising hard in the last few months to further hone their skills to capture the hearts and minds of the music enthusiasts in this international event. The band comprising one officer and 65 musician sailors would perform under the leadership of Commander Vijay Charles D’Cruz, Director of Music (Navy) who would be the Principal Conductor during the event. The Indian Navy band is scheduled to depart for London from Mumbai on July 30," the release said.
More than 50 bands are expected to participate in the tattoo and about 2.5 lakh people are expected to attend the event over the 26-day period.
Apart from India, bands from countries like Australia, France, Germany and will also be performing at the tattoo this year, the release added.

Reliance to acquire 24.92% of Balaji Telefilms at Rs. 413.28 crore

Energy and petrochemicals major Reliance Industries Limited (RIL), which has interests in the digital and media segments, today said it proposed to acquire 2.52 crore equity shares of entertainment major Balaji Telefilms Limited (BTL), constituting 24.92 percent of the company, for Rs. 413.28 crore.
In a filing made to the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) and the National Stock Exchange (NSE), RIL said the acquisition would be made through subscription to a preferential issue of equity shares by BTL to it for a cash consideration of Rs. 164 per share.
The investment was approved by RIL's Board of Directors at its meeting held here today.
BTL, along with its subsidiaries, is engaged in production of television content for broadcasters and production and distribution of films. It also operates an over-the-top subscription video-on-demand platform focusing on original and exclusive Indian digital content.
BTL was incorporated on November 10, 1994 and its equity shares are listed on BSE and the National Stock Exchange (NSE). It has a paid-up share capital of Rs. 15.2 crore (as on March 31, 2017) and generated a turnover of Rs. 421 crore, Rs. 293 crore and Rs. 343 crore in FY 17, FY 16 and FY 15, respectively.
The filing also pointed out that RIL inter alia is engaged in the telecom, digital and media businesses. "This investment in content production (including digital content) is in line with RIL's commitment to invest and grow in telecom, digitial and media businesses," it said.
According to RIL, no government or regulatory approvals are expected to be required for the investment. The transaction is subject to BTL's shareholders' approval and regulatory compliances and other conditions precedent and is expected to be completed in 45 to 60 days.
In a separate filing to the stock exchanges, Balaji Telefilms said its Board of Directors had approved the issue of 2.52 crore shares to RIL. It said it proposed to hold an extraordinary general meeting of the company on August 18 to seek approval of the proposal.
BTL Chairman and well-known actor Jeetendra Kapoor said, "We welcome Reliance Industries Limited as a partner in our growth journey towards becoming the preferred content producer for the Indian diaspora across all means of video consumption and across all geographies. This investment is a vote of confidence to the company’s strategic move to own our IP and our viewers."
Mr. Kapoor's wife Shobha Kapoor is the managing director of the company and their daughter Ekta Kapoor is joint managing director, while their son and actor Tusshaa Kapoor is a director.
Axis Capital Limited acted as the sole investment banker for the transaction, a press release from BTL added.

Entries invited for short film competition on empowerment of disabled

A ‘Short Film Competition on Divyangjan Sashaktikaran-2017’ is being organised by the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (Divyangjan) in association with Directorate of Film Festivals (DFF).
An official press release said that the competition was aimed at creating an awareness about Accessible India Campaign and to promote various schemes of the department among the people. It has invited entries from citizens. The entries should be shot with any electronic devices in HD format only.
The last date of submission of application is August 8. The applications are invited in three categories -- ‘Short Documentaries’ of up to 30 minutes duration, ‘Short Films’ of up to 5 minutes duration and ‘TV Spots’ (Television Commercials) of up to 50 seconds.
The ‘Short Documentaries’ and ‘TV Spots’ should be based on Accessible India Campaign theme while ‘Short Films’ could be made on various schemes including Fellowship and Scholarship; Beneficiaries of Cochlear Implant, Distribution of Assistive Devices and Tri-cycle under Assistance to Disabled Persons for Purchase / Fitting of Aids and Appliances (ADIP Scheme); loan beneficiaries of National Handicapped Finance And Development Corporation (NHFDC).
It also includes beneficiaries of Accessible Buildings under Scheme for Implementation of Persons with Disabilities Act (SIPDA); beneficiaries of NGOs taking grant –in-aid under Deendayal Disabled Rehabilitation Scheme (DDRS) and various skill development initiatives of the DEPwD for Persons with Disabilities.
The ‘Short Film Competition on Divyangjan Sashaktikaran-2017’ will carry First and Second Prize of Rs. 5,00,000 and Rs. 3,00,000, respectively, in ‘Short Documentary’ and ‘TV Spots’ categories while ‘Short Film’ category will carry only one prize of Rs. 4,00,000 for each scheme. 
The participants may download application form along with authorization letter and rules and regulations from and
The award function will be held tentatively on September 21 at Siri Fort Auditorium, New Delhi.

India to host 8th edition of Theatre Olympics from February 17-April 8, 2018

Union Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma addressing a press conference on Theatre Olympics, along with National School of Drama Chairman Ratan Thiyam and Director Waman Kendre, in New Delhi on July 12, 2017.
Union Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma addressing a press conference on Theatre Olympics, along with National School of Drama Chairman Ratan Thiyam and Director Waman Kendre, in New Delhi on July 12, 2017.
India will host the eighth edition of the Theatre Olympics -- the biggest such event in the world -- at multiple locations in the country from February 17 to April 8, 2018.
This was announced here today by Union Minister for Culture and Tourism Mahesh Sharma at a press conference here today in the presence of National School of Drama (NSD) Chairman Ratan Thiyam and NSD Director Waman Kendre.
He said that the event, being held in India for the first time, would feature 500 plays and 700 ambience performances from across the world and allied activities like exhibitions, seminars, symposia, interactive discussions and workshops with well-known academicians, authors, actors, designers and directors
Leading luminaries of world theatre will take part in these events, Dr. Sharma said, adding that the event would put India among the top nations on the world theatre map.
Established in 1993, the Theatre Olympics is the foremost international theatre festival, presenting the finest productions of well-known theatre practitioners from around the world.
In India, the event will be organised by the NSD under the aegis of the Ministry of Culture in 15 cities across the country.
The inaugural ceremony will be held in Delhi in a gala function with performances by hundreds of artistes. The closing ceremony will take place in Mumbai.
The Theatre Olympics 2018 will be the eighth edition of the event and will feature international and Indian theatre groups and eminent theatre personalities.
The Theatre Olympics was established in 1993 in Delphi, Greece, as the first international theatre festival. With the tagline ‘Crossing Millennia’, this is an initiative to connect the cultural past with the present and future, bringing the richness and diversity of theatre heritage to the experiments and research of contemporary theatre.
The first country to host the Theatre Olympics was Greece in 1995. Japan hosted the second edition in Shizuoka in 1999, followed by Russia in 2001. In 2006 the Olympics were held in Istanbul, Turkey and four years later, in 2010 in Seoul, South Korea. China hosted them in Beijing in 2014 and in 2016 the 7th Theatre Olympics were held in Wroclaw, Poland. 

Sahitya Akademi invites books from publishers and young Indian authors for Yuva Puraskar 2018

The Sahitya Akademi -- the national academy of letters -- has invited books from publishers and young Indian authors for Yuva Puraskar 2018.
An official press release said that the authors should be aged not more than 35 below as on January 1. The last date for submission is August 16. 
The books, in any of the 24 languages recognised by the Akademi, should be submitted along with the attested copy of the proof of date of birth. Further information about the submission can be obtained from the Sahitya Akademi website.
Sahitya Akademi introduced Yuva Puraskar in 2011 to encourage young writers writing in Indian languages and who are below the age of 35.
Since then every year awards have been given to the best book by young Indian authors in the Indian languages recognised by the Akademi. The languages are 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 ceremony and comprise an amount of Rs. 50,000, a plaque and a citation, the release added.

Salman Khan's Tubelight to be released across 4400 screens in India

Salman Khan in a scene from Tubelight
Salman Khan in a scene from Tubelight
Actor Salman Khan's Tubelight, one of the most keenly awaited movies of the year, will be released in 4400 screens across India, the biggest release any Bollywood movie has ever seen in the country.
This is being done in view of the huge fan following of Salman and the excitement about the movie among the audiences, a press release from the Indian distributors, NH Studioz, said.
The trailer of the movie has been viewed over 10 million times on YouTube and the music has also gained massive acceptance among the audiences, it said.
"The fan following of Salman Khan is huge in India and across the globe. The combination of Kabir Khan and Salman Khan has proven themselves year after year. They have won hearts of people at all levels of society. Keeping the content of Tubelight in mind, the Indian distributors, NH Studioz are confident it will be loved by both the single screen goers and the multiplex audiences," the release said.
“We have a lot of trust in the content and the makers of ‘Tubelight’. They have consistently delivered brilliant movies and this Eid again 'Tubelight' will be a treat for the fans across India. In the recent past, we have released some of the most popular Bollywood movies. The entire team of ‘Tubelight’ has worked hard and I believe that it will pay off tomorrow, when the goes on the floor across 4400 theatre screens in India," said Mr. Shreyans Hirawat, Managing Director, NH Studioz.
Tubelight is the story of a man's unshakable faith in himself and the love for his family. In a small picturesque town in North India, Laxman (Salman Khan) lives with his younger brother Bharat (Sohail Khan). The two have no other family and are inseparable. Laxman's world comes crashing down, when war breaks out and Bharat gets drafted into the Army. A helpless Bharat leaves a devastated Laxman behind. News from the border only worsens, as the tension continues to escalate. Seeing the carnage around him and worried for his brother, Laxman decides he must stop this conflict and get his brother back.

Eros International signs two-film co-production deal with leading Turkish film company Pana Film

Film entertainment major Eros International Media Ltd has announced two Indo-Turkish co-productions with one of the largest Turkish film studios, Pana Film, owned by leading Turkish actor Necati ?a?maz, best known for playing the lead role of Polat Alemdar in Turkey’s most popular television series Kurtlar Vadisi (Valley of the Wolves).
With proposed A list actors from India and Turkey, including ?a?maz himself, both films will be collaborative with shoot venues and crews in both countries and will be made bilingual, a press release from the company said.
Original stories blending Indian and Turkish cultures will be conceptualized and developed by Eros’ in-house writers along with top Turkish writers, it said.
Kishore Lulla, Chairman, Eros International said, “We are honored to associate with a powerhouse entity like Pana Film. Following our pioneering Indo-China joint production initiatives, we continue to expand the scope of Indian films internationally with our exciting Turkish collaboration. With our similar cultures, we want to tell stories with a mainstream appeal that transcend language and geographical boundaries. We hope our Indo-Turkish productions will pave the way to open one of the significant regions in the world and reach out to fans across the two countries and the MENA (Middle East to North Africa) regions”.
?a?maz added, “Pana Film greatly values this exciting partnership with Eros International.  Our common goal is to build a cultural bridge between both regions. With our Indian collaboration, we aim to expand our presence and tell new stories that can bring Indian and Turkish audiences together. Pana Film and Eros International will make history together as the co-producers of the first Indo-Turkish feature films, which will open new doors and provide endless opportunities for everyone involved with filmmaking. We consider this only the beginning of a new era and cannot wait for our fans to see the result of this successful partnership.”

Exhibition on return of three stone sculptures from Australia opens in Delhi

An exhibition “Return of the Three Stone Sculptures from Australia to India” was inaugurated by Minister of State for Culture Mahesh Sharma at the National Museum here yesterday.
The exhibition has been organised to mark the safe return of three stone sculptures (Seated Buddha, Worshippers of Buddha, Goddess Pratyangira) from Australia to India. These sculptures were purchased by National Gallery of Australia from the Nancy Wiener, New York in 2007 and Art of the Past, New York, 2005.
Dr Sharma had attended a special event at National Gallery of Australia (NGA) in Canberra, Australia in which Senator Mitch Fifield formally handed over the three ancient artefacts stolen and smuggled out of India and inadvertently acquired by National Gallery of Australia.
The Minister released a book entitled ‘War Paintings of The Irresistible Jat King Surajmal’ by Dr Satya Vrata Tripathi and also launched an ‘App on Swachchta Abhiyan’ on the occasion.
Mr N K Sinha, Secretary, Ministry of Culture, Mr B R Mani, Director General of National Museum and senior officers of the Ministry were present on the occasion.

Manju Warrier denies reports about incident during shooting for Udaharanam Sujatha

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

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

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

Mukherjee presents Presidential Awards for Classical Tamil

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

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

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

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

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

Renowned filmmaker Kasinadhuni Viswanath chosen for Dadasaheb Phalke Award 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wynk Music crosses 50 million users milestone

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

Anita Dube named curator of Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2018

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