Founders increase stake in Arré, B. Saikumar takes controlling interest

Ahead of its launch, the founders of Arré, a content platform from UDigital Content, have realigned their shareholding in the company.
A press release from the company said that Mr. B Saikumar, Managing Director and co-founder has taken controlling interest in Arré, with Mr. Ajay Chacko continuing as CEO and Co-Founder. 
Mr. Sanjay Ray Chaudhuri (RayC), who was co-founder of TV18, has come in as co-founder in Arré.
Promoter Ronnie Screwvala said, “Arré is now all set to launch and all of us are tremendously excited about its potential and trajectory. I am pleased that Sai and team are taking a controlling shareholding in Arré and I will continue as an investor with a significant minority shareholding supporting the company and mentoring the leadership team."
Mr. Saikumar added, “I am thrilled to welcome RayC aboard as co-founder and we are delighted and honoured to have Ronnie continue to guide us. The trailer to our first show 'I Don’t Watch TV' is now out and we look forward to the launch of Arré in the next few weeks."  

Hyderabad Airport introduces entertainment-on-demand service for passengers

GMR Hyderabad International Airport Ltd. (GHIAL) has launched a personalized on-demand entertainment service at the Rajiv Gandhi International Airport (RGIA) here, offering passengers the freedom to download movies in a span of three minutes. 
With this RGIA has become the first airport in India to offer passengers the freedom to download a wide range of blockbuster movies, television shows and videos at the terminal at high speeds without needing any internet or data connection. 
A press release from GHIAL said the service had been made available in partnership with Fropcorn, a travel entertainment venture.
The entertainment wi-fi hotspot is currently available in the security hold area of the domestic terminal, which shall soon be extended to other parts of the airport.
Fropcorn’s wi-fi-enabled media servers create a secure hotspot that allows passengers to download a complete movie within three minutes. This can be done by downloading Fropcorn App from Google Play Store. Flyers can connect their devices to the Airport Movie WiFi available at the terminal and download the movies via the Fropcorn App. 
Once downloaded, the movies can be viewed at leisure during the flight duration. The content catalogue includes hundreds of high quality movies across multiple genres and languages, the release said.
Mr. SGK Kishore, CEO, GHIAL, said, “At GHIAL, we strive to offer our flyers a stress free and enjoyable journey experience. We understand entertainment is a great way to keep them engaged on the flight journey as they have limited or no entertainment options. With Fropcorn entertainment hotspot, we now extend the GHIAL experience even beyond the airport premises and ensure our flyers have a great time throughout the journey. We expect this to be a wow experience for both the flyers and the airlines and shall further augment Hyderabad airport's status as a preferred Gateway for South & Central India.”  
Mr. Kartik Bansal, Co-Founder & CTO, Fropcorn, said, “We have been working closely with the GHIAL team to ensure our technology and the content catalogue meets the demands of the new age traveller. We are extremely excited to launch this service in partnership with GHIAL and will be releasing multiple product features and engaging content to keep the service exciting for the airport passengers.”
GHIAL is a joint venture company promoted by the GMR Group (63%) in partnership with Government of India (13%), Government of Telangana (13%) and Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad (11%). The company was incorporated to design, finance, build, operate and maintain a world class greenfield airport at Shamshabad, Hyderabad. 

Reliance Entertainment, Friday Filmworks partner to form Plan C Studios

Anil D. Ambani-owned Reliance Entertainment and prolific filmmaker producer duo Neeraj Pandey and Shital Bhatia’s Friday Filmworks, today announced the formation of Plan C Studios, a 50:50 joint venture for production of movies.
Apart from being a widely appreciated and acclaimed director who has also tasted success at the box office, Pandey is also an accomplished writer and has won multiple awards for his films.
His first film “A Wednesday” made in 2008, went on to win the National Award. Subsequently, he directed “Special 26” in 2013, and “Baby” in 2015, both widely appreciated and huge commercial successes. He is currently on the floors with “M S Dhoni – The Untold Story”.
A press release from Reliance Entertainment said the combination would benefit from the creative and production strength of Friday Filmworks, and leverage the global marketing and distribution capabilities of Reliance Entertainment.
Plan C Studios will kick start with a period drama, Rustom, directed by Tinu Suresh Desai and starring Akshay Kumar. Other projects include Pandey’s cinematic version of his novel, Ghalib Danger and films helmed by Shivam Nair, Chandra Prakash Dwivedi, Anurag Singh, Anvita Dutt and Shree Narayan Singh.
Amitabh Jhunjhunwala, Group Managing Director, Reliance Group, said, “We are delighted to partner with creative minds like Neeraj and Shital. This relationship is in line with our continuing strategy in the media and entertainment business, of partnering with like minded and successful individuals, while playing the role of supportive investors on our part.”
Pandey said: “The partnership with Reliance Group is very significant and welcome, as it enables us to further raise the bar on our continued strategy of developing cutting edge commercial content. We like to keep pushing the envelope, and this partnership will greatly expand our vision.”
“The alliance with Reliance Group and our continued success at the box office are a welcome and clear vindication of our focused strategy. Reliance's significant global and domestic distribution and monetization network, not just perfectly complements our distinct content, but will also ensure highest value creation for all our partners and stakeholders,” added Bhatia.
Reliance Entertainment has produced, distributed and released more than 170 films in multiple Indian languages, including Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada and Bengali.
Internationally, Reliance Entertainment has partnered over the past seven years with iconic film producer and director, Steven Spielberg, in the formation of DreamWorks Studios and announced the continuation of that relationship with the formation of Amblin Partners in December 2015.
Bridge of Spies, the latest release from this partnership, has received six Oscar nominations and nine BAFTA nominations this year, including Best Picture and Best Director.
In India, Reliance Entertainment has recently formed a partnership with Phantom films, a company created by directors and producers.

Naresh Bedi honoured with V Shantaram Award as MIFF 2016 gets underway

Veteran wildlife filmmaker Naresh Bedi was honoured with the V. Shantaram Lifetime Achievement Award as the 14th edition of the Mumbai International Festival for Documentary, Short and Animation Films (MIFF 2016) got underway here today.
The festival was inaugurated by Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Union Minister of State for Information & Broadcasting Rajyavardhan Rathore in the presence of veteran film maker Shyam Benegal, MIFF brand ambassador Jackie Shroff, Indian Documentary Producers Association (IDPA) President Mike Pandey and Festival Director Mukesh Sharma.
The Lifetime Achievement Award, comprising a trophy, shawl and a cash prize of Rs 5 lakh, is instituted in memory of legendary film maker V Shantaram, who was head of the Films Division in the past. 
Bedi, eldest of the Bedi Brothers, is counted amongst the foremost wildlife documentary makers, being the first Asian to receive the Wildscreen Red Panda award. A graduate of the Film & Television Institute of India (FTII), Pune, Bedi has made films which have been shown on National Geographic, Discovery Channel, BBC, Channel 4, and so on.
He is credited with filming several rare wildlife moments.  His film ‘Cherub of the Mist’ about the life of two red pandas was the opening film of the festival.
Speaking on the occasion, Col. Rathore said digital technology had ushered in a new era in film making and was greatly contributing to the documentary film movement. He said MIFF was playing a pivotal role in promoting documentary and short film culture in the country by providing a platform for filmmakers to exchange ideas.
“It is heartening to note that our film makers, despite great financial hurdles, have gone ahead and made excellent films, displaying a mature approach while dealing with social and economic issues. Such films should not remain unseen,” he said.
Col Rathore said the Government would consider making one of the Doordarshan channels, perhaps DD Bharati, a platform to promote documentary films.  He asserted that the Government hadno interest in curbing the creativity of filmmakers and added that the I&B Ministry had set up a committee under Mr. Benegal to look into the revamp of film certification process.
Mr. Fadnavis said the Maharashtra government was ready to allot land in Film City in Mumbai for setting up a National Institute of Animation & Short Films.
"Documentary films are close to my heart, I myself want to make a documentary film tracing my mother’s journey from Turkmenistan to India," actor Shroff said.
MIFF 2016,  a biennial event organized by the Films Division of the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting and supported by the Government of Maharashtra will feature 30 films in international competition, including 12 from India and 27 films in national competition vying for the Golden Conch Award.  The festival will screen a total of 385 films over the six-day event.   
The screenings will be held at the Films Division theatres, Russian Cultural Centre and Sophia College theatres at Pedder Road, Mumbai. Screenings will also be held at the Mumbai University auditorium Kalina, Mumbai and Doordashan Kendra (Worli). 
Apart from international and national competition, there will be screening of  films in MIFF Prism, Indian premieres, Jury retrospectives, Animation and award winning films  from different countries, Children’s documentary films, North East package, Films Division and PSBT (Public Service Broadcasting Trust) films and homages.
The festival also presents special packages from leading international documentary film festivals like Berlin, Dresden, DokLeipzig  from Germany and Leiria from Portugal.
Some of the best documentaries of 2015, among them Mohammed Ali Naqvi and Hemal Trivedi’s Among the Believers, a new documentary about the roots of religious extremism in Pakistan and Joshua Oppenheimer’s The Look of Silence, a Danish documentary about Indonesian killings of 1965-66, and Rinku Kalsy’s For the Love of a Man, a documentary about the cult of adulation for Rajinikant in South India, are among the top attractions at the festival.
The International Jury for the Festival comprises prominent documentary makers Don Askarian from Germany, Jesper Andersen from Denmark, Mathiue Roy of Canada, Siddharth Kak and Gitanjali Rao. Mike Pandey, Uma DaCunha, Biju Dhanapalan, Audrius Stonys (Lithuania) and Jane Yu (Taiwan) are the members of the National Jury.
The festival will also have master classes by jury and eminent film makers, Camera and Digital workshops, Producers’ Forum, Panel discussions, Seminar and Open Forum by IDPA, under the MIFF Hub. Cash prizes worth Rs 60 lakh would be distributed for the winners in various categories along with Golden Conch Awards.

BookMyShow on-boards the iconic G7 Multiplex, Maratha Mandir in Mumbai

BookMyShow, India's largest online entertainment ticketing platform has partnered with the G7 multiplex and Maratha Mandir theatre in Mumbai.
The portal has commenced bookings for the theatres across its platforms – mobile app, website and mobile website.
Among the oldest cinemas in Mumbai, the theatres were also part of the success of several Bollywood blockbusters of the recent past, a press release from BookMyShow said.
Mr. Ashish Saksena, COO, Cinemas at BookMyShow, said, “Being associated with the city’s most iconic cinema halls like G7 Multiplex and Maratha Mandir is a very prestigious development for us. We have always focussed on consumer demands and firmly believe – we’ll go where our customers want us to go”. 
“These cinemas have been a very popular destination over the years and attract the masses across the city. By partnering with BookMyShow, access to these movie theatres will now be friction free," he said.
Mr Manoj Desai, Executive Director, G7 Multiplex and Maratha Mandir said, “We are very happy and excited on our association with BookMyShow and we wish them all the best."
G7, Mumbai’s oldest multi-screen theatre located in Bandra West, has seven cinema halls called Gaiety, Galaxy, Gemini, Gossip, Gem, Grace and Glamour.
Maratha Mandir, with a 1000+ seater capacity, first opened its doors almost 60 years back and also has created a record after screening the legendary movie Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge for over 1000 weeks since its release in 1995. 
"With a large number of city dwellers emotionally connected to G7 multiplexes and Maratha Mandir, BookMyShow’s association with the same will be a perfect blend of technology, convenience and entertainment for the masses," the release said.
BookMyShow was founded in 2007 by three friends - Ashish Hemrajani, Parikshit Dar and Rajesh Balpande and it is now present in over 400 cities and towns across India.

Shyam Benegal calls for dedicated science & technology TV channel

Veteran filmmaker Shyam Benegal has called for a 24-hour dedicated science and television channel to promote scientific temper in the country.
Addressing a press conference about the coming National Science Film Festival at the Nehru Science Centre here yesterday, Mr. Benegal said such a channel would go a long way in helping the spread of scientific temper and rational thinking among the citizens.
Such a channel is the need of the hour to highlight issues on science, technology, environment, health and hygiene among other things, he said.
“A 24-hour S&T TV channel will be a fitting tribute to late Narendra Dabholkar who laid down his life in the pursuit of spreading scientific temper and creating a rational society,” he said.
Mr. Benegal complimented the Nehru Sciecne Centre and Vigyan Prasar, an autonomous body under the Ministry of Science and Technology, Government of India for joining hands to organize the 6th National Science Film Festival in Mumbai from February 9 to 13.
He said that 45 films had been shortlisted to be screened during the festival.
“The jury was pleasantly surprised to see quality films that have been made by professionals and school students. Most of the films, some from remote areas of the country, touch upon the local issues of environment, livelihoods, health and local innovation. 
The winning films will be honoured with the Silver Beaver Awards and cash prizes.
Mr. Benegal is the chairperson of the national jury. The other members of the jury include Ms. Shama Zaidi, writer & art director; Mr Aseem Sinha, film editor; Prof. Iftekhar Ahmad, director, New Delhi; Ms. Aparna Vaish, ADG, Prasar Bharati; Dr Sabyasachi Bhattacharya, Distinguished Professor, TIFR; Mr Amrit Gangar, writer, film theorist, curator and historian; Ms Aruna Raje Patil, filmmaker; and Dr Anil P. Joshi, environmentalist.
Professional workshops on science film making will also be organized during NSFF 2016 in which renowned science filmmakers will share their experience with the participants. 
Film enthusiasts can participate in the workshop by filling up an online application form at 

National Film Awards to have new award for Most Film Friendly State/UT

The Government has decided a new award for the "Most Film Friendly State/Union Territory" under the National Film Awards.
Announcing this, Information & Broadcasting (I&B) Secretary Sunil Arora said this was being done as part of the Government's efforts to promote the Indian film industry and the country's soft power.
The award will be conferred for the first time at the 63rd National Film Awards  to be held on May 3 this year, he said in his inaugural address at the public screening of Indian Panorama 2015 films at the Siri Fort Auditorium here yesterday.
Mr. Arora said that it had also been decided to establish a Film Facilitation Office at the NFDC premises under the supervision of the Ministry of I&B.  
The objective of setting up the office was to provide  single window clearance to film makers and promote India as a filming destination.  This would also enable creating a film friendly environment in the country, he said.
Mr. Arora said that the Indian Panorama section this year had received a record number of 384 entries including 238 feature and 146 non-feature film. Out of the large number of entries, 26 feature films and 21 non-feature films were selected by the jury.  
The package of Indian Panorama includes films in Bengali,  Bodo, Hindi, Kannada,  Konkani,  Malayalam,  Sanskrit,  Tamil,  Wancho and Marathi.  
Mr. Arora also felicitated the director of the documentary film “Daughters of  Mother India”, Ms. Vibha Bakshi and the director of the Bengali feature film “Cinemawala”,  Mr. Kaushik Ganguli, during the inaugural function. Both the films were the opening films at the inaugural function.
The public screeening of the films selected in the Indian Panorama 2015 as a part of the 46th International Film Festival of India has been organized by the Directorate of Film Festivals, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. The 11-day festival will screen 26 feature films and 21 non-feature films.

Music festival to celebrate 75th birth anniversary of ghazal maestro Jagjit Singh

File photo of Jagjit Singh.
File photo of Jagjit Singh.
A two-day music festival will be held in Mumbai on February 7 and 8 to celebrate the 75th birth anniversary of ghazal maestro Jagjit Singh.
The event is being organized by the Jagjit Singh Foundation in association with Perfect Harmony Productions Pvt. Ltd.
"Padma Bhushan Jagjit Singh's music has touched our souls. Although he is physically not present among us today, but his mesmerizing voice still lingers in our hearts and minds with the same charisma," a press release from the organisers said.
On February 7, the festival will feature 25 young singers from around the country selected by a jury consisting of well-known Urdu poet Nida Fazli, singer Chitra Singh, chairperson of the foundation, and singers Suresh Wadkar and Roop Kumar Rathod.
Young ghazal singers below the age of 30 years have been invited to sing a ghazal with only the tanpura as an accompaniment and post their videos on (Jagjit Singh Music Festival's Page) with hashtag - ?#?JSMF75.
The top 25 singers selected by the jury will perform on the opening day of the festival. A total of 75 ghazals of Jagjit Singh will be sung. At the end of the day's session, all participants will be honoured by members of the jury and given a citation from the foundation.
"This will lead to enormous enthusiasm among young ghazal singers to take up ghazal as art form and spread it around the world," the release said.
Day two of the festival on February 8 will be a public event featuring performances by well-known singers and musicians.
The line-up includes Deepak Pandit and Ranjit Barot giving a musical invocation of 10 minutes to the commencement of the festival, followed by ghazal singer Hariharan.
Suresh Wadkar and Sonu Nigam will also render Jagjit Singh's compositions in their own inimitable styles.
The second half will showcase a unique combination titled “Tridhara” which will premier on the occasion. This will feature three streams of art -- Taal, Sur and Nritya together featuring tabla wizard Ustad Zakir Hussain, flautist Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia and renowned Kathak dancer Pandit Birju Maharaj.

Kalki Koechlin's satire against media's approach to women creates waves on YouTube

Well-known actress Kalki Koechlin, one of the most unapologetic and experimentative stars in India, has released on YouTube her performance of a self-written poem titled "The Printing Machine" that is a hard-hitting satire against newspapers, magazines, social media and text-books.
The scathing monologue, a rhythmic piece that rises to a crescendo,  is the third in the series UnBlushed from Culture Machine for the women's lifestyle channel Blush.
The five-minute video features the actress in one of her edgiest avatars yet as she takes on media, society and their approach towards women and crimes against them.
Directed by Akanksha Seda, the video is one of the most stirring invectives of a culture that may be going morally numb, one newspaper edition a time.
Talking about chilling events in the recent past such as the increase in acid attacks, gang rapes, foreigners being raped in the country, the on-going flood of objectifying imagery in glossy magazines; Kalki takes on the appalling reportage of news events, to reveal their hollowness and robotic production. 
The Printing Machine is a satire not just against news gatherers, daily broadsheets, magazines and social media but also the generation that consumes these reports with a vulgar hunger for juicy headlines.
“Printing Machine was inspired by one of the key influencers in our lives – news houses and the media. We are flooded by an onslaught of objectifying and horrific news reports and imagery that have desensitised us a culture. It is only when we look at these reports in totality do we realise what our Indian heritage and culture have come to, and how we have come to be at the mercy of printing machines," Kalki said.
"Culture Machine and the UnBlushed team did an amazing job of creating a visual rendition of Printing Machine that best expresses the violence and brutality of our culture. They have helped take the story forward with this video that would have otherwise just been on paper," she added.
Nimrat Kaur and Sayani Gupta have been featured in the previous episodes of Unblushed, a series that features female celebrities.

BBC ‘Travel Show’ presenter becomes Kathakali dancer for a day

BBC Travel Show presenter Henry Golding trying out Kathakali movements in Kochi, on January 9, 2016.
BBC Travel Show presenter Henry Golding trying out Kathakali movements in Kochi, on January 9, 2016.
Henry Golding, the BBC’s ‘The Travel Show’ presenter, has lived with elephants in Kenya and cleared the debris of a devastating earthquake in the Philippines, but never imagined he would become a Kathakali dancer one day.
That happened in the New Year when on a visit to ‘God’s Own Country’, Golding participated in a Kathakali performance in Kochi on Saturday.
While shooting an episode for ‘The Travel Show’ with its editor Mike London and producer Dawn Layke, Golding ventured on to the stage, becoming a part of the performance.
The Kathakali play, ‘Narakasura Vadham’ (The Killing of Narakasura), authored in the 18th century, is regularly staged in cultural events.
The event had been organised for the BBC team,  which was on a six-day visit to Kerala to film an episode on the state’s culture and nature-endowed destinations for ‘The Travel Show’.
“During the performance, Golding wanted to try if he could dance like a Kathakali dancer and he did,” said P K Devan of See India Foundation, which hosted the performance.
The BBC crew filmed Golding's performance as the characters Jayantha and Lalitha. “In Kathakali, there are no female dancers,” said Devan. “Male dancers do the roles of  female characters,” he added.
Golding also tried the movements of eyes, feet and fingers, critical in a Kathakali performance, earning the applause of those watching the performance.
“Golding succeeded in bringing a classical dance form more closer to the audience,” said Devan, whose institution has been working to link Kathakali with other art forms across the world.
Two years ago, Prince Charles and his wife Camilla Parker Bowles had witnessed a similar performance of Kathakali in Kochi.
“I don’t know what took me so long to come to Kerala,” said Golding. “Kerala’s beauty is unbelievable,” exclaimed the presenter, who has travelled across the world to create episodes for BBC’s hugely popular The Travel Show, which reaches a global audience of 77 million.
The BBC team, which spent two days in Kochi, also filmed the intricate make-up of Kathakali performers for the show.
Earlier, Golding climbed a coconut tree in Alapuzha as the BBC team filmed locations in the town to capture images of a coconut climbing competition between traditional climbers and those who use machines for climbing as well as the famous backwaters. The team also spent a day in  "Canoe Ville" - a home-stay - an increasingly popular mode of accommodation among foreign tourists, in Alapuzha.
"The episode on Kerala on BBC’s popular travel programme showing our state’s natural beauty and rich culture is certain to charm people worldwide,” said Kerala Tourism Secretary G Kamala Vardhana Rao, who had invited the BBC team to the state during his visit to London for a tourism road show last year.
The BBC travel team also went to the Punnamada Lake, home to the world famous Nehru Trophy snake boat race.
The BBC team has filmed coir making, which provides livelihood to tens of thousands of families living near Kerala’s backwaters. “More and more travellers are interested in our new product, called Village Life Experience,” Mr Rao said. The Village Life Experience, another highlight of the BBC travel show, involves travellers visiting local homes to experience home-made meals, local culture and their livelihoods.
"This is certainly not my last visit to Kerala," promised Golding, before he left for London on Sunday.
The BBC will beam two episodes on 'The Travel Show' from Kerala.  The first programme will be on Kathakali and will be broadcast in two weeks. The second one will include the backwaters and coconut tree climbing and will be broadcast in February. Both the programmes will be repeated later in the year.
"There are so many stories here, we hope we can come back soon," said the BBC team.
Another television travel show team from the Russian private broadcaster NTV is going to be in Kerala during January 15-18 to film  an episode on the state’s culinary traditions.

Google's fairy tale tribute to French author Charles Perrault

Internet search engine Google today celebrated with a doodle the 388th birth anniversary of French author Charles Perrault, who has become immortalised as the creator of the fairy tale genre in literature.
Perrault, born in Paris on January 12, 1628, was a lawyer who authored 'Tales and Stories of the Past with Morals' drawn from a vast repository of folk tales. He was 67 when the book was published in 1695.
Among the tales were La belle au bois dormant (The Sleeping Beauty in the Woods), Le petit chaperon rouge (Little Red Riding Hood), Le Maistre Chat, ou le Chat Botté (The Master Cat or Puss in Boots) and Cendrillon, ou la petite pantoufle de verre (Cinderella; or, The Little Glass Slipper).
The book became a success and was translated into English in 1729 by Robert Samber.
The set of doodles that keeps changing at frequent intervels presents well known scenes from the fairy tales including the Prince about to wake up sleeping beauty, Cinderella on her way to the ball seated in the pumpkin chariot and Puss in Boots at the palace.

New aspirants in cinema need to adapt technology along with art and craft, says Ansari

In a scenario where rapid advancement in technology was changing the face of cinema, new aspirants need to learn not only the basics of the art and craft but also “how to adapt with and adopt the latest technology,” according to Vice President Mohammad Hamid Ansari.
Delivering his address at the inauguration of the K R Narayanan National Institute of Visual Sciences & Arts here yesterday, Mr Ansari said India was the largest producer of feature films in the world.
“People in India love their cinema. Whether they watch it in movie halls or multiplexes or on television sets, and even on their mobile phones; cinema has become an integral part of our cultural identity. While it is true that a large number of films are made for entertainment; the meaningful and artistic films continue to hold a special place with the audience,” he said.
“Cinema is a complex and powerful art form. It is a form of popular entertainment but it is also a mass-communication medium. Films can transmit political and social message. They can provide catharsis and perspective and can open our eyes to new ways of thinking, feeling and pursuing our lives,” he added.
Mr Ansari noted that visual media such as cinema, television and video is attractive to youngsters today -- both as an avenue of creative expression and as a career choice.
“As an art form, cinema is perhaps the most dependant on technology and thus most susceptible to changes from technical innovations. The medium of cinema undergoes a fundamental change whenever there is a new discovery in technology. Silent movies became talkies; Black and white became colour; Celluloid film gave way to digital formats. Technology has transformed every department of cinema. Be it cinematography, audiography, editing or animation. Equipment quickly becomes obsolete.
“In this scenario, new aspirants need to learn not only the basics of the art and craft but also how to adapt with and adopt the latest technology,” he added.
There was the felt need to have institutes with international standards to equip the future generation of visual and video artists- not only with the aesthetic creativity and social awareness, but also with the technical and logistical aspects of film and video making, he said.
In this context, it is very apt that the Government of Kerala has come forward to establish a national level film and visual arts institute in memory of the former president KR Narayanan, Mr Ansari said.
He noted that Narayanan's life illustrated hard work and talent bringing success even in adversity. Born in an extremely poor Dalit family, he overcame several obstacles and occupied the highest office in the land. The only Dalit and Malayali, so far, to have held the office of President of India, he remained dedicated to the cause of social welfare. Before his stint in public life, Narayanan served with distinction in the diplomatic corps of the country and retained his love for the academic pursuits. 
The institute, set-up as an autonomous body under the Government of Kerala, “has the vision to impart world-class knowledge and training in visual based technologies such as cinema, television, and video to Indian artists and technicians,” Mr Ansari said.
It must be the endeavor of everyone associated with the institution to make it a centre of excellence in visual based academics and research, focused on innovation and creativity and to nurture a new generation of film makers, technicians, artistes and researchers in the domains of visual science and arts, he added.
“I am informed that initial steps have already been taken in this direction and that the institute already has on offer three-year diploma programmes in six disciplines, ranging from direction and acting, to cinematography and animation. I also hope that the institute will develop a focus on research activities into the visual arts domain and become a centre of innovation,” Mr Ansari said.
The Vice President noted that people of Kerala appreciate good cinema. “Hundreds of film appreciation societies function even at the village level here. The annual International Film Festival of Kerala has established itself in the international cinema calendar. The provenance of Kerala should prove to be fertile ground for recruiting talented students and staff,” he added.

Film experts want 'Censor' Board to go

Noted actor-director-producer Amol Palekar has called for scrapping the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) saying that the government-appointed body's conduct often bordered on “dangerous” or “absurd” premises.
“A violent rape scene would be okayed, but use of cuss words—they could be essential in a context—might get cut,” he said during a discussion ‘So Many Cinemas: Do Filmmakers Have to be Responsible to Their Audiences?” by a six-member panel at the four-day 'Krishnakriti 2016' that concluded here on Sunday night.
The septuagenarian Palekar, who has acted in Hindi films and a range of regional Indian movies, said it was illogical that films alone had to go through a pre-presentation filter, which was not applicable to TV serials.
The credits should be shown at the start—and not at the end when the seats in the cinema houses go empty. “They should be of at latest 14-point font size and displayed for a minimum eight seconds,” he specified.
Films adapted from literary works should give credit first to the original author and not the screenplay writer, he added.
While cinema should not engage in gender discrimination when it comes to remuneration, it should also not let unsafe stunt scenes or shoot without the crew being insured, he said.
“As for the audience, it is bad for them to be engaged in heckling and passing loud comments while watching a film,” said Palekar, who is also a painter.
“But the worst thing the public can do is to forcibly stop the screening of a film, thus obstructing others as well,” he added pointing to instances of vigilantism by vested interests.
Selvaggia Velo, director of the annual River to River Florence India Festival, moderated the hour-long session at Madhapur Centre for Cultural Resources and Training. Her fellow speakers were television features producer Pawan Manvi, film actress-designer Elahe Hiptoola, creative sciences scholar Hariharan Krishnan and sociologist Samuel Berthet.
Dr Manvi, who has an association with Doordarshan dating back to the mid-1970s, trashed current television industry, saying its obsession with eyeballs and TRP ratings was leading to a huge rot in ethics.
“Today, you have a television serial with a silly little story being extended to years of monotony on the mini screen,” he noted, saying “the advertising revenues decide everything” in India, which had no less than 750 channels.
Elahe, who is the producer of ‘Hyderabad Blues 2’, said her films sought to tacitly weave in the idea of secularism. For instance, her sports drama ‘Iqbal’ (2005) never prompted the viewer to see the central character as a Muslim boy, but a deaf-and-mute village boy struggling to make it to the upper echelons of cricket in his country.
Taking the cue at this point, Hariharan Krishnan, who is a professor at Mahindra Ecole Centrale, said the film ‘Mother India’ had its top five personalities all Muslims, yet the iconic 20th-century movie borrowed abundantly from Hindu mythology.
He also took the debate to a different level by noting that Mahatma Gandhi’s antipathy for cinema was based on a fallacy. “The great leader thought the youth were wasting time on this entertainment, when cinema of those days actually was promoting a discourse on various societal issues,” he said.
Also, Indian cinema had an international connection even in the pre-Independence era. For instance, the 1945 Tamil film ‘Meera’ starring musician M S Subbulakshmi had its historical protagonist from north India and the director Ellis R Dungan from the United States, he pointed out.
Prof Samuel Brethet, Associate Professor, Department of Sociology at School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Shiv Nadar University, said Indian cinema should no more toe the line of “we give audience trash because the audience wants it”.
A second session in the evening on ‘Discussing Pluralities/ Marginalities in Contemporary Indian Art’ was addressed by experts Susie Tharu, Anand Gapada, Jayram Poduval, Rahul Bhattacharya and Anshuman Dasgupta.
This was followed by the screening of a much-acclaimed documentary ‘Scattered Windows, Connected Doors’ produced and directed by Bangalore-based Roohi Dixit and Ziba Bhagwagar. The 75-minute work is on thoughts and choices of urban Indian women with focus on eight of them in random conversation on love, loss, fear, loneliness, marriage and freedom.

Carnatic vocalists Ranjani-Gayatri to perform at concert in Bangalore

Ranjani and Gayatri
Ranjani and Gayatri
Noted Carnatic vocalists Ranjani and Gayatri will peform at a concert in the garden city on January 16 with each composition set in a different language or in multiple languages on the theme, "Different tongues, one heartbeat"
The concert, will be held at 7 PM at MLR Convention Centre in J P Nagar, Bhoomija, the organisers, said in a press release. Tickets, priced at Rs. 300, are available on and at the venue.
The singer duo have just concluded a successful December season in Chennai. They will be accompanied at the concert by H N Bhaskar on the violin, Sai Giridhar on Mridangam and Giridhar Udupa on Ghatam.
About the concert, Ranjani and Gayatri, said, “Growing up in Mumbai, a city of cultural contrasts and staggering diversity, meant being exposed to different languages and music, and being immersed in a potpourri of diverse traditions.
“The Tamizh Tevarams and Thiruppavais that we heard in the nearby temples coexisted harmoniously with the Marathi Abhangs - and we savoured both as the sound of these languages swirled around us. We understood that lyrics are at the core of musical experience. And when music and emotion are breathed into poetry, there is magic!
"While language and lyrics are essential elements of Carnatic music, they give the genre an extra dimension, making the connect more meaningful," they said.
“Carnatic music is enriched by the multiplicity of diverse languages the compositions are written in - from Sanskrit that is perhaps the mother of most Indian languages to Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam. And the repertoire of this glorious musical tradition keeps expanding with the inclusion of Hindi, with its close cousin Brijbhasha, and Marathi from western India.
“Our concert will celebrate the beauty of languages. Each composition set in a different language, and some pieces in multiple languages that sing in different tongues to the same heartbeat! We hope you will enjoy it as much as we are, putting it together,” they added.
The sisters, whose musical talents were discovered at a very early age, had started their violin training at the early age of nine and six, respectively, from Sangita Bhooshanam Prof. T.S. Krishnaswami at the Shanmukhananda Sangeeta Vidyalaya, Mumbai. Even before reaching their teens, their music career was launched as violin duet artistes. 
They started giving vocal concerts from 1997 after training under Padma Bhushan award winner P S Narayanaswamy. Later, a chance meeting with amateur Hindustani vocalist and World Bank official Vishwas Shirgaonkar led them to learn abhangs and gavians with further training under Manek Bhide and Appasaheb Deshpande of Kolhapur.

A Chinese touch to New Delhi World Book Fair

Keeping its tryst with book lovers, the 24th edition of New Delhi World Book Fair (NDWBF) has opened at Pragati Maidan in the national capital with China as the Guest of Honour country this year.
“We believe in Athithi Devo Bhavaa and in our tradition we worship our guests. We hope that the people from the Guest of Honour country, China will feel at home in India,” Union Minister of Human Resource Development Smriti Zubin Irani said while inaugurating the Fair being held from January 9 to 17.
Referring to India-China relationship since ancient times, she said that there is a mention of Chinese silk dress in Arthashastra. She expressed the hope that both the countries would strengthen ties both on the cultural as well as knowledge front.
Ms Irani appreciated efforts undertaken by the National Book Trust (NBT) to bring out 16 new titles under the Navlekhan series and suggested publication of books in all the 22 major Indian languages. Children from various states, including Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Manipur and Assam, along with selected photographers would be sent as “Shodh Yatris” to countries like Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Thailand and Cambodia. Their memoirs will be published in the form of books.
NBT Chairman Baldeo Bhai Sharma said the Trust has come up with a new Navlekhan series for young writers under the age of 40 and has brought out 16 new titles. The theme pavilion will display books beginning from “Bhoj Patra” to e-books and also display ancient scripts.
Eminent Chinese author Liu Zhenyou, Chinese Ambassador Le Yucheng, and Mr Vinay Sheel Oberoi, Secretary, Department of Higher Education, also spoke on the occasion.
Later, Ms. Irani inaugurated the Theme Pavilion and the China pavilion at Pragati Maidan.
Organized by the National Book Trust, India in collaboration with the India Trade Promotion Organisation (ITPO), NDWBF has become a major calendar event in the publishing world.
From modest beginnings with just 200 participants at Windsor Place in 1972 and moving on to Pragati Maidan for the second edition with 266 participants, it has then on registered steady growth with number of participants breaching the 1000 mark in 1998. The 18th edition of the fair in 2008 saw the highest number of participants at 1343.
In recent years, Chinese government has attached great importance to China Country of Honour Programs at the international book fairs so as to further strengthen the exchanges and cooperation with other countries. Following the Country of Honour presentations at several international book fairs, including Frankfurt Book Fair (2009), London Book Fair (2012) and Book Expo America (2015), China has been invited as the Guest of Honour Country at NDWBF 2016.
Rich volumes of Chinese books, professional forums and seminars, cultural exhibitions, and literature salons will be held to promote literary and cultural ties between India and China as well as the bilateral people-to-people exchanges.

Kerala artist’s unorthodox ways regale crowd at Krishnakriti fest in Hyderabad

Kerala sculptor Valsan Koorma Kollery used wisecracks and simple tips on broad aesthetics about painting to entertain students as much as educate them at the Krishnakriti Festival of Arts and Culture here.
The sexagenarian, known for his jovially rebellious approach to almost everything around, gave a brief introductory lecture ahead of choosing a 13-year-old girl as his muse for a charcoal sketch that won loud appreciation from 100-odd young enthusiasts who gathered at Centre for Cultural Resources and Training in Madhapur.
“Take all your shyness away. Inhibition is what blocks creativity. Just sketch or paint or whatever. It may be bad art, but then there is no short cut to excelling oneself in any field,” he said during a 75-minute workshop on Friday evening as part of the January 7-10 Krishnakriti 2016 featuring a range of cultural events.
North Malabar-born Valsan, 62, who joined Government College of Fine Arts in Chennai way back in 1971, said one could be initiated into art at any age.
“You can start it even after retirement from your job. It can be a very good second nursery,” he said, minutes before randomly asking a girl from the crowd to pose for a portrait. “Well, a small work is also a big work,” he added.
Valsan, who misses no chance to ridicule set notions and methodical training in art, said it is the blind who often sense art better than those with eyesight.
“Years ago, I brought visually-challenged people to an art exhibition of mine in Madras University. In a 3,000-square feet area, they stood in rapt attention, feeling each of the 35 artworks in their own way,” he said.
Valsan, from Patiam in Kannur district, had completed his advanced art studies at ENSBA, Paris and M S University of Baroda.
Open-mindedness is what is essential to art and relevant to any area of culture. “For instance, you need no music to dance. You can dance to the colour around, to the fall of the rains, to an inspiring object you come across....”
While sketching on paper the picture of 13-year-old K. Bhavya Manasa, he leisurely asked the class-8 student of Jubilee Hill Public School to store small little artworks one does on and off.
“You know why? When you feel like crying sometimes—as well all do—just go back and take a look at them. It can make you happy, isn’t it?”
As he sketched,  Valsan said “I can trace the face of your mother, grandma and great-grandmother if you give me time.”  He finally presented it to the gathering deliberately holding the paper upside down.
Arti Nagpal, a housewife who occasionally paints, told Valsan that his workshop had now inspired her to return to her habit of sketching.
“Suddenly, I realise I miss it a lot,” she said, clicking a selfie with the guest artist—the only one to figure in both editions of Kochi-Muziris Biennale (held in 2012 and ’14) by far.
Bengali Priyanka Das, who is doing masters in fine arts from University of Hyderabad, simultaneously sketched Valsan and showed her work to the artist. An appreciative Valsan drew another sketch of his on the left page of the book in return.
Later, at an interaction with art scholar Dhritabrata Bhattacharjya Tato, Valsan spoke about his mid-career shift from bronze to stone as the medium of sculpting.
“We can make any place beautiful with right use of art,” he said, sharing his experience of building butterfly parks off Thrissur town and close to Nilambur forests in Kerala.
The artist also had his second tryst at India’s only biennale—in Kochi, where he virtually churned out a quiet island of creative space that retained the site’s rustic greenery, thus tacitly asking the new-age visitor to return to nature.

Amitabh Bachchan says rib damaged while shooting for TE3N, no cause for worry

File photo of Amitabh Bachchan.
File photo of Amitabh Bachchan.
Bollywood megastar Amitabh Bachchan, who hurt himself while shooting for the film "TE3N" in Kolkata a few days ago, today said his rib was damaged and it would take time to heal.
"Ok on the rib front .. just back from CT Scan, rib is damaged .. will take time to heal, all else well," he said on micro-blogging site Twitter.
Bachchan, 73, also assured his fans that there was no cause for worry and that he would be back in Kolkata tomorrow to resume shooting for the film.
"No worries .. no issues ... just .. !! back to Kolkata tomorrow and 'TE3N' shoot .. life is continuous !!!" he said.
Earlier, on December 6, he had tweeted: "Hurt rib from shoot .. but ok .. taking friends Ef (extended family) to WAZIR at South City Mall, Kolkata this evening !! YEA."
The next morning he said on Facebook, "Morning blues with hurt rib from last night's shoot .. but treatment is on and hope it shall improve soon."
Directed by Ribhu Dasgupta and produced by Sujoy Ghosh, TE3N features, among others, Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Vidya Balan.
Bachchan had suffered a near fatal intestinal injury while shooting for a fight scene for the 1982 film, Coolie.
In February 2012, he had undergone surgery in a Mumbai hospital after suffering pain in the abdomen, a problem that appeared to be connected to his 1982 injury.
Two months after the surgery, he was taken to hospital again in April 2012 after complaining of excruciating pain.

Jaitley interacts with Shyam Benegal Committee on Film Certification

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who also holds the Information & Broadcasting (I&B) portfolio, held a wide-ranging interaction with the recently constituted Shyam Benegal Committee on Film Certification in Mumbai today.
Minister of State for I&B Rajyavardhan Rathore and I&B Secretary Sunil Arora were also present at the meeting.
The Ministry had constituted the Expert Committee, headed by Mr. Benegal, an eminent filmmaker, on January 1 to recommend broad guidelines for certification of films by the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC).
Members of the committee who were present included filmmaker Rakyesh Omprakash Mehra, advertising and communication expert Piyush Pandey, veteran film journalist Bhawana Somayaa, NFDC Managing Director Nina Lath Gupta and Joint Secretary, Films, Sanjay Murthy.
Mr. Jaitley observed that in most countries of the world there is a mechanism for certifying films and documentaries, but it had to be ensured that in doing so, artistic creativity and freedom did not get curtailed. He also said that the film certification guidelines needed contemporary interpretation and they should be made as non-discretionary as possible. 
Col. Rathore expressed confidence that the committee would provide a holistic framework for interpretation of the provisions of Cinematograph Act and Rules for the benefit of the chairperson and other members of the CBFC Screening Committee. 
Mr. Benegal said there was a need to move towards a new system of grading films in terms of age, maturity, sensibility and sensitivity instead of censorship. 
The committee will study the existing procedure being followed by CBFC for certification of original films, their dubbed versions as well as recertification of films for screening on other media platforms. 
The committee will also study various directives of courts as well as notifications issued by other Government agencies like Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Ministry of Environment & Forests, Animal Welfare Board of India, and so on, which have a bearing on the process of film certification. 
The staffing pattern of CBFC would also be looked into in an effort to recommend a framework which would provide transparent, user friendly services, an official press release added.

Delhi Metro increases maximum time for stay on its premises to 180 minutes

The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) toda said that it had increased the maximum permissible time limit fo stay within the Metro system for commuters from 170 to 180 minutes from January 11 as part of tis efforts to decongest crowded stations.
The decision also takes into account the gradual increase in the length of the Delhi Metro network, a press release from DMRC said.
In addition, in order to control overcrowding inside the stations, the DMRC has decided to rationalise the maximum time limit of stay in station premises permissible to each Metro commuter according to the length of his or her journey.
Presently, every commuter is allowed to stay inside the Metro premises for 170 minutes if he enters from one station and exits from another station irrespective of the distance travelled. Every month, more than a lakh commuters are penalized for overstaying in the system by exceeding this time limit. For example, in December last year, 1,08,513 passengers were booked for overstaying in the system. This contributes significantly to the problem of overcrowding.
Therefore, with effect from January 11, the maximum permissible time limit of stay will be rationalized according to the length of journey of the commuter.  The maximum permissible time will now be divided into three separate time zones, it said.
Accordingly, the time limit will be 65 minutes for passengers who pay fares upto Rs 18; 100 minutes for those who pay fares upto Rs. 23; and 180 minutes for those whose fares are above Rs. 23.
"The new time limit has been stipulated after calculating the maximum possible time that a commuter can take to travel specific distances. However, with the new arrangement, commuters will not be able to stay long inside the stations. This measure is expected to reduce the available crowding of Metro stations up to a certain extent," the release said.
The stations covered within the three time zones from each station will be displayed at all the stations so that the commuters clearly know within how much time they should exit from the system based on the destination  they are traveling to. Announcements regarding the same will also be made with effect from January 11.
The new time zones will be implemented from January 11 onwards but the remainder of the month will be used to sensitize/inform the commuters about the new arrangement. In case of any breach of the new time zones during January, the cards or tokens purchased by the commuters will show error (error no. 159).The commuters will then have to report to the Customer Care Centres for their exit without any penalty.
Penalties of Rs. 10 per extra hour (maximum Rs. 50) will be imposed for any breach of the time limit from February 1 onwards.
The new rule would be applicable for both the token as well as smart card users, it added.

Data on more than 5.5 million artists being collected for Cultural Mapping of India

The Ministry of Culture has initiated a project of "Cultural Mapping of India" under which data on artists will be collected and stored.
An official press release said here today that a web portal for collection of data directly from artists was being developed by National Informatics Centre (NIC). 
It will serve as an Artist Repository that could be used in the future for providing grant-in-aid under various cultural schemes administered by the Ministry.
A number of meetings of experts has been held since May 15, 2015 in order to conceptualize the project. The work of entry of data of artists has been assigned to the Centre for Cultural Resources and Training (CCRT), New Delhi.
So far, data on more than 5.5 million artists has been collected. The Ministry is also taking the help of State Governments and other organizations in this exercise, the release said.
In order to generate funds and to run the Mission, a Draft Mission Document has been prepared by a Sub-Committee of Experts constituted. Once the mission document of Cultural Mapping of India gets finalized, it will be sent for consultation to NITI Aayog and other Ministries.
The mandate of Ministry of Culture is to preserve, promote, explore and share India’s culture and heritage along with its ethos and values for the benefit of mankind.
In pursuance of this vision, among others, the Ministry has been administering a few finance-based schemes to identify, nurture, hand-hold and train the upcoming and budding artists on a sustained basis.
This is carried out by way of grant of scholarships, fellowships, pensions, and other forms of grants/assistance. With a view to reach every nook and corner throughout the length and breadth of the country, there is a need to have data-base of such art forms and artists.
“Cultural mapping” would consolidate the data at one place in a systematic manner and help streamline and rationalize various financial grant schemes being implemented by the Ministry for artistes and cultural organizations, the release added.

National Museum in Delhi initiates 3D photography of artefacts

The National Museum here, which has already digitized more than  15,750 antiquities in 2D format, has now initiated a pilot 3D digitization project.
Once completed, the first-of-its-kind project in India, would be a pioneering effort in the field of museum experience, an official press release said.
The project has been taken up at the museum with a team of researchers and photographers from Deccan College, Pune. For digitizing the objects in 3D format a standard procedure has been adopted, it said.
For the digitization of one object after it is taken out from the reserve, it requires about 10-15 minutes for the photography of the object depending upon its size. Presently, 3D photography work is going on in three departments of the museum -- Archaeology, Decorative Arts and Central Asian Antiquities.
By December 31, around 50 objects in 3D anaglyph were already available, it said.
"These 3D images will give a rich experience to the public/viewers who would witness these images with high sense of virtual viewing of the object including its every detail in a credible manner," the elease added.

Bajirao Mastani records worldwide gross of Rs. 301 crore upto its third weekend

Ranveer Singh, Deepika Padukone and Priyanka Chopra in a still from Bajirao Mastani
Ranveer Singh, Deepika Padukone and Priyanka Chopra in a still from Bajirao Mastani
Film entertainment major Eros International Media Ltd has said that its latest release, Sanjay Leela Bhansali's Bajirao Mastani, has got an outstanding response, closing its third weekend with a total gross of Rs. 301 crore worldwide.
This includes Rs. 211 crore gross (Rs. 162.35 crore net box office collection) in India and Rs. 90 crore ($ 13.5 million) overseas.
"The historical epic continues to enamour audiences globally," a press release from the company said.
The release said Bajirao Mastani, starring Ranveer Singh, Deepika Padukone and Priyanka Chopra, recorded a third weekend gross total of Rs. 26.65 crore in India (Rs. 20.50 crore net  - Friday Rs. 7.50 crore, Saturday Rs 6.00 crore and Sunday Rs. 7.00 crore). 
"While the film is still running strong in cinemas, it is now the third highest grosser of 2015," it said.
"The much acclaimed film that has caught the fancy of audiences worldwide has remained rock steady at theatres pan India, endearing itself to cine goers across all segments with fans coming back for repeat viewings. In the overseas markets too, Bajirao Mastani was in the top 20 in the US box office charts, featuring at number 15 during the peak Christmas weekend," the release said.
Eros released Bajirao Mastani across 3750 screens worldwide on 18th December 2015 and went on to increase showcasing to meet demand in the subsequent weeks after its release.
Nandu Ahuja, Sr. VP, India Theatrical, Eros International Media Limited, said, “Mr. Bhansali’s Bajirao Mastani is truly a celebration of Indian cinema and while it’s no surprise to see the film being so universally accepted, the euphoria surrounding it and its steady performance all through since its release has been remarkable. The critical acclaim and the incredible response has been extremely encouraging and humbling. The Christmas and New Year holiday weekends have shown tremendous footfalls and with no new release for another week, we expect this phenomenon to continue."
Pranab Kapadia, President, Marketing & Distribution, Eros International plc added, “Bajirao Mastani continues to perform equally well in the overseas markets too with it crossing the coveted million mark across key territories including the US, UK and Australia. Overall, the third weekend collections have dropped by only 20% approximately over the second weekend."
The film won nine awards at the recently held Sony Guild Awards  - Sanjay Leela Bhansali won Best Director and Ranveer Singh took home the Best Actor Award. The film also won Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction, Best Sound Design, Best Costume Design, Best Dialogue, Best Choreography and Best Actor in a Supporting Role.
Eros' other big hits during 2015 have been Bajrangi Bhaijaan, Tanu Weds Manu Returns, Badlapur and NH10. It has also successfully released a host of regional hits like Srimanthudu, Belaseshe, and Mumbai Pune Mumbai 2 last year.

Pakistani singer Adnan Sami granted Indian citizenship

Adnan Sami gets Indian citizenship
Popular Pakistani singer Adnan Sami Khan was today granted Indian citizenship in response to his long-pending request to the Central Government to legalise his status in this country on humanitarian grounds.
The singer had first arrived in India on March 13, 2001 on a one-year visitor's visa issued by the High Commission of India in Islamabad, and its validity was extended several times since then.
The Pakistan government did not renew his passport when it expired on May 26, 2015, following which he had approached the Indian government with a request for the legalisation of his stay in India.
Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju presented the  Certificate of Naturalization to the singer here today.
"The certificate has been granted under the Citizenship Act, 1955. He had applied for the certificate of naturalisation and has satisfied the Government that the conditions laid down in the Citizenship Act, 1955 for grant of naturalisation are fulfilled in his case," an official press release said.
Sami's request for citizenship was approved by Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh yesterday, it said.
"In pursuance of the powers conferred by the Citizenship Act, upon taking the oath of allegiance within the time and in the manner required by the rules made in that behalf he shall subject to the provisions of the said Act, be entitled to all political and other rights, powers and privileges and be subject to all obligations duties and liabilities to which an Indian citizen is entitled or subject, and have to all intents and purposes the status of an Indian citizen," the release said.
Mr. B.K. Prasad, Additional Secretary (Foreigners), MHA and Ms. Roya Faryabi, wife of Sami were also present on the occasion. 
"A New Beginning... A New Feeling... A New Belonging... A New Love Affair... A New Country... JAI HIND!" the singer said on micro-blogging site Twitter after becoming an Indian citizen.
"My Profound thanks to Honourable Prime Minister @narendramodi ji for approving my Indian Citizenship. A New birth!" he said.
"I'm highly indebted to the Honourable HM @BJPRajnathSingh ji for his tremendous support in granting me Indian Citizenship..," he added.

Govt. constitutes committee to recommend holistic framework for certification of films

The Government has constituted a committee headed by eminent filmmaker Shyam Benegal to recommend a holistic framework for certification of films and enable those tasked with the work to discharge their responsibilities.
"In most countries of the world there is a mechanism/process of certifying feature films and documentaries. However it has to be ensured that in doing so, artistic creativity and freedom do not get stifled/curtailed and the people tasked with the work of certification understand these nuances," an official press release said.
"Indian films have glorious history. A whole lot of Indian films have enriched the cultural milieu of the country besides making astonishing advances in technical aspects of film making," it said, addding that the committee had been constituted, keeping this in view and in sync with the vision of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, to suggest the paradigm for ensuring such a milieu.
The release said that, during their deliberations, the committee would be expected to take note of the best practices in various parts of the world, especially where the film industry is given sufficient and adequate space for creative and aesthetic expression. 
It said the committee would recommend broad guidelines and  procedures under the provisions of the Cinematograph Act / Rules for the benefit of the chairperson and other members of the Screening Committee. 
The staffing pattern of the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) would also be looked into in an effort to recommend a framework which would provide efficient / transparent user friendly services. 
The other Members of the committee include filmmaker Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, advertising guru Piyush Pandey, film journalist Bhawana Somaaya , National Film Development Corporation (NFDC) managing director Nina Lath Gupta and Joint Secretary (Films) as Member Convener. 
The committee has been requested to submit its recommendations within two months, the release added.

Gujarati litterateur Raghuveer Chaudhary chosen for Jnanpith Award for 2015

Raghuveer Chaudhary
Raghuveer Chaudhary
Well-known litterateur Raghuveer Chaudhary -- a poet, novelist and critic -- who occpies a unique place in Gujarati literature, has been chosen for the prestigious Jnanpith Award for the year 2015.
The decision was taken at a meeting of the Jnanpith Selection Board chaired by noted scholar, writer and critic Namwar Singh here yesterday, a press release from the Bharatiya Jnanpith said.
Other eminent persons on the selection board are Prof Shamim Hanfi, Mr. Harish Trivedi, Prof. Suranjan Das, Mr. Ramakant Rath, Mr. Chandrakant Patil, Prof. Alok Rai, Mr. Dinesh Misra and Mr. Leeladhar Mandloi.
Born in 1938, Chaudhary is a prominent figure on the contemporary Gujarati literary scene. A Gandhian, his talent has been influenced by works of Govardhanram Tripathi, Kaka Kalelkar, Suresh Joshi, Prof. Ramdaash Mishra and Prof. G. N. Dickey.
"Raghuveer's poetry is particularly remarkable for its profundity of thought and the meaningful use of images and symbols. Though poetry remains his first love, the form he has consistently explored is the novel. His faith in the functional aspect of human life has progressively strengthened. It is voiced through his novels Amrita, Venu Vatsala and Uparvaas trilogy. Rudra Mahalaya is a landmark in Gujarati historical novel writing. His essays contain a combination of microscopic observations concerning the art of creative writing and a vivid presentation of thought. His style of writing tinged with his unique sense of humour adds to the readability of his essays," the release said.
"It has been a continuous search of Raghuveer's life and literature to attain a realistic ground for human dignity. His belief in democracy acknowledges not only the basic freedom of a human being but also in the development of a humanitarian society," it said.
Chaudhary's literary works have received numerous accolades that include the Sahitya Akademi Award for his novel trilogy Uparvas. Apart from that, he has also various other honours including Kumar Chandrak for poetry, Uma-Sneharashmi Prize and Ranjitram Gold Medal for creative writing, and Sauhard Samman from Uttar Pradesh Hindi Sansthaan.
The Jnanpith Award was instituted in the early 1960s by the family of Sahu Shanti Prasad Jain, the founder of Bharatiya Jnanpith, to mark his 50th birthday in 1961.
The first Jnanpith Award was given to renowned Malayalam writer G. Sankara Kurup in 1965. There have been 55 laureates so far, with the 50th Jnanpith Award going to Marathi writer Bhalachandra Nemade in 2014. There were more than one winner in some years.
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