Online film certification system E-Cinepramaan launched

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Festival of India in Ukraine from March-October, 2017

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

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

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

VR stories provide immersive 360° experiences to KMB 2016 visitors

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

Novel initiative will see school notebooks sport KMB 2016 artwork

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

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

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

Max Fashion India launches ‘Max Emerging Star’

Fashion brand Max has announced its new property ‘Max Emerging Star’ which will serve as a platform for aspiring actors, dancers and fashion enthusiasts to fulfill their dreams and get groomed for stardom. 
A press release from Max Fashion India, part of the Landmark group, said the contest was focused on the search for the most fashionable aspirant:  Mr. and Miss Max Emerging Star, who have talent, the right body language, attitude and the passion to get closer to making it to Bollywood.
The release said Max aimed, in particular to reach out to talent in tier-2 cities and provide them a launch platform.
Auditions for the contest will be held in four cities -- Vadodara (March 7), Visakhapatnam (March 11), Bhubaneshwar (March 16) and Lucknow (March 29). Contestants will be judged by a jury and the city winners will undergo a final selection round in Mumbai.
The jury for the final selection round includes well-known actor Anupam Kher, actor and model Marc Robinson and dance guru Terence Lewis, the release said.
Registrations in each of the four cities would be 11 am to 1 pm on the date of the auditions.
Participants should be Indian nationals, between 18 and 24 years of age, single, and have a minimum height of 5'5" for females and 5'10" for males. 
According to the release, winners of each city contest will receive a cash prize of Rs. 40,000, will get featured on hoardings in their respective cities and will also get chance to be groomed by Robinson.
The national winners – Mr. and Miss Max Emerging Star -- will get a three-month acting course at Kher’s Actor Prepares – a school for the actors -- and a one-month dance course at Lewis' training institute.

Subodh Gupta, Bharti Kher to stay in Rashtrapati Bhavan as Artists In-Residence

Well-known artists Subodh Gupta and Bharti Kher will commence their stay in Rashtrapati Bhavan as Artists In-Residence tomorrow.
They will be in residence till March 10, an official press release said.
Gupta was born in 1964 at Khagaul, Bihar and studied at the College of Art, Patna (1983-1988). He is known for working with everyday objects, such as steel kitchen utensils. While stainless steel is his signature medium, he has also masterfully executed works in bronze, marble, brass and wood.
His works have been exhibited in prestigious museums, art fairs and biennales throughout the world. Solo exhibitions of his work have been held in some of the most internationally renowned museums and galleries, including National Gallery of Modern Art (New Delhi), Museum für Moderne Kunst (Frankfurt), Victoria and Albert Museum (London), Hauser & Wirth (London, Zurich, New York and Somerset), Arario (Seoul and Beijing), Pinchuk Art Centre (Kiev) and Galeria Continua (San Gimignano, Italy). 
He was awarded the Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Letters, among the French government’s highest honours, for his contribution to contemporary art.
Kher, born in 1969 in London, is a leading Indian contemporary artist. She studied painting and design at Middlesex Polytechnic in London and then at Newcastle Polytechnic in Northern England.
She is an artist committed to exploring cultural misinterpretations and social codes through her art practice. She uses the bindi as a central motif in her work to link tradition and modernity, East and West. Her famed installation, The Skin Speaks A Language Not Its Own (2006), features a life-size elephant made with fibreglass and covered with numerous white bindis, kneeling on the floor in an ambiguous state between dying and living.
In her sculptures and collages, Kher has created hybrid beings that unite contradictions of gender, species, race, and social role. Sculptures such as Arione (2004) and Arione’s Sister (2006) are part-human, part-animal; sperm-shaped bindis writhe over their bodies, completing the vision of a futuristic femininity.
She has been exhibiting internationally for more than two decades. Her most recent shows include the ones at the Vancouver Art Museum (Vancouver), Freud Museum (London), Rockbund Art Museum (Shanghai), 20th Biennale of Sydney (Sydney), Guggenheim Abu Dhabi (Abu Dhabi), and Centre Pompidou (Paris).
She is the chairperson and founding member of Khoj International Artists Association. She was also an artistic adviser for the Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2016 and is an executive committee member for Jawahar Kala Kendra Museum, Jaipur. She was awarded the Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in 2015.
The ‘In-Residence’ programme in Rashtrapati Bhavan was launched by the President of India on December 11, 2013 with the aim of providing writers and artists an opportunity to stay in Rashtrapati Bhavan and be a part of the life of Rashtrapati Bhavan.
The release said the programme seeks to provide an environment which will inspire creative thinking and rejuvenate artistic impulses. It is intended to honour and recognize eminent and established artists and writers as well as encourage young upcoming talent from different parts of the country.
Prominent Artists In-Residence who have stayed in the Rashtrapati Bhavan under this programme so far include Jogen Chowdhary, MP (Rajya Sabha), Paresh Maity, Jayasri Burman and Shahabuddin Ahmed of Bangladesh.

Gaana is now available on Android Auto

Music streaming app Gaana has released an Android Auto version that will allow users to stream their favorite music via Android Auto compatible phones, vehicles and aftermarket radios.
A press release from Gaana said Android Auto allows anyone with an Android phone (running 5.0 or later) to use a driver friendly interface to access the key stuff needed on the road ? directions, communications, music, and so on ? without the distraction of things that are not essential while driving.
"Gaana is the first Indian music streaming that allows users to experience a non-stop, distraction-free and safe music experience using Android Auto," it said.
Prashan Agarwal, COO, Gaana said, "Music is the biggest stress buster when driving, but access to just the right song or station, while simultaneously dodging traffic is not just frustrating, but downright dangerous. Gaana has brought the solution with its Android Auto integration. Allowing you access to your favorite music in a safe and delightful driver-friendly interface – So you can keep your eyes on the road and your hands up on the wheel."
The release said users can now access their favorite Gaana songs and playlists from their Android Auto app, with a simplified interface, large buttons, and powerful voice actions.
With full access to their personal music library on Gaana, users can play a song, personal playlist and even search for a song using voice commands. With voice enabled search, users can access over 15 million songs, 16 radio stations & 1000 other non-stop radio stations based on their mood, driving time, duration, and so on.
In the last one year, Gaana has released several new enhancements such as localization, recommendation engines, dual color themes, and added more payment option such as Citrus, Freecharge to continuously improve the music experience of its 50 million plus users.
Music streaming is the third most used service on the Internet and the Indian car market will become fourth largest automobile market in the world by 2020.
"Therefore, adding Android auto functionality is key to drive engagement amongst car users who largely listen to FM radio today. Gaana’s Android auto integration will provide a safe alternative to such listeners and will further strengthen Gaana’s dominance in the music streaming space," the release added.

‘Kochi Biennale artworks play with truth, perception’: Sanjana Kapoor

Actress Sanjana Kapoor viewing Orijit Sen's installation 'Go Playces' at Aspinwall House,Fort Kochi in the Kochi-Muziris Biennale, in Kochi on February 20, 2017.
Actress Sanjana Kapoor viewing Orijit Sen's installation 'Go Playces' at Aspinwall House,Fort Kochi in the Kochi-Muziris Biennale, in Kochi on February 20, 2017.
Observing a playful quality in the artworks on display at the ongoing third edition of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale (KMB), noted theatre practitioner and actress Sanjana Kapoor described India’s only biennale as a “beautiful” experience.
“There is a kind of playfulness to the works this time. It feels like the artists are playing with the ideas of what visitors can see, what they can perceive and what the truth is. There are so much more immersive and experiential exhibits this time,” said Kapoor, formerly the head of the famed Prithvi theatre in Mumbai.
A repeat visitor to the Biennale, Kapoor felt “at least three days are needed to experience this spectacle” in its entirety. Kapoor, who made her acting debut in the classic film 36 Chowringhee Lane – produced by her father Shashi Kapoor and starring her mother Jennifer Kendal, was disappointed to have missed out on the performances of the stage productions that are part of KMB 2016, but lauded the inclusion of theatre in the biennale space.
Of the performances she did manage to partake in during her visit to primary venue Aspinwall House today, Kapoor said Lundahl and Seitl’s ‘blindfold tour’ installation ‘Symphony of a Missing Room: An Imagines Museum’ stood out.
“The idea, the implementation and the way I was guided and instructed about what to hear and what not to see. The most fascinating part of that work is the trust that it demands. I had to put faith in the person who guided me, to trust the whole concept of the artist. For me, it is an important work at a time when people are cynical and sceptical about everything,” she said.
Kapoor, who was accompanied by Keli festival director K. Ramachandran on her visit, said, “Having the tour end at the ‘Sea of Pain’ was a mind-blowing experience. Raúl Zurita’s poetry installation is the most powerful work in the Biennale.”

Bharatanatyam exponent C. V. Chandrasekhar, 81, enthralls dance lovers in Vadodara

C. V. Chandrasekhar
C. V. Chandrasekhar
Renowed Bharatanatyam exponent C. V. Chandrasekhar, who is a recipient of the Padma Bhushan, the nation's third highest civilian honour, enthralled an audience of dance lovers with a mesmerising performance at the C. C. Mehta Auditorium here on February 15 evening, making light of his 81 years of age.
The event was organized by Ghargharika, an organization in Vadodara that aims to promote classical dance with Prof. Chandrasekhar as its president and Ms. Tejal Amin as its secretary. Ms. Rema Shrikant, a well-known Bharatanatyam dancer, choreographer and guru, based in the city, who has trained under Prof. Chandrasekhar for 17 years, took the lead in organising the event.
The organisers also arranged a dance workshop by Prof. Chandrasekhar at the Navarachana School the next day.
Dignitaries present at the recital included Mrs. Shubhangini Devi Gaekwad, wife of late Ranjitsingh Gaekwad, the head of the erstwhile ruling family of Gaekads of Baroda, renowned painter Ghulam Mohammed Shaikh and noted dance critic Sunil Kothari.
For the audience, it was an evening of sheer divinity, as though Lord Shiva himself had descended onto the stage in his Nataraja form. The recital was marked by perfect form, clean lines, complex tirmanams and controlled yet powerful abhinaya as Chandrasekhar danced without a break, including a 40-minute varnam.
Despite his advanced age, Chandrasekhar performed with agility, perfection and beauty in execution.
With his wife Jaya Chandrasekhar rendering the natuvangam (together, they are among India's best known dancer-couples) and Natarajan on the mridangam, it was truly one of the most memorable performances for most of those present.
For dance lovers in Vadodara, Chandrasekhar is one of their own, the guru having taught  at the Faculty of Performing Arts at the Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda for long years. He served as the  Head of the Department of Dance and the Dean of the Faculty, from which position he retired in 1992. He has moulded hundreds of students over the years, and many of them were present in the auditorium for his recital. 
Prof. Chandrasekhar and Jaya Chandrasekhar now run their own dance institution, Nrityashree, in Chennai.
He was awarded the Central Sangeet Natak Akademi Award for Bharatnatyam in 1993, by the Sangeet Natak Akademi, India's National Academy of Music, Dance and Drama. He received the prestigious Kalidas Samman in 2008 and the Padma Bhushan in 2011. In 2016, he was honoured with the prestigious Fellowship of the Sangeet Natak Akademi.
An alumnus of the renowned Kalakshetra, where he trained under the legendary Rukmini Devi Arundale, Karaikkal Saradambal, K.N. Dandaydhapani Pillai and others, he has also received training classical music under teachers like Budulur Krishnamurthy Sastrigal and M.D. Ramanathan.
Chandrasekhar began his career as a dancer in 1947, at a time when there were very few male dancers in the country. He taught for some years at the Banaras Hindu University before joining M. S. University of Baroda and has, over the years, acquired tremendous respect for his accomplishments as a dancer, choreographer, researcher, musician, academician, composer and teacher.

Shahabuddin Ahmed of Bangladesh commences stay as artist-in-residence at Rashtrapati Bhavan

Well-known Bangladeshi artist and freedom fighter Shahabuddin Ahmed commenced his stay in Rashtrapati Bhavan as Artist-In-Residence today.
He will be in residence till February 22. He is the first foreign artist to live in Rashtrapati Bhavan as a guest of President Pranab Mukherjee. 
An official press release said the artist is staying in the Guest Wing of Rashtrapati Bhavan where Mr. Md. Abdul Hamid, President of Bangladesh and his delegation stayed from December 18 to 21, 2014.
A solo exhibition of Mr. Shahabuddin’s works titled ‘Shanti’ also commenced at the Rashtrapati Bhavan Museum Art Gallery today. The exhibition will be open till February 22, 2017.  All visitors to the Museum can see the exhibition. Entry for all is from Gate No. 30 which is opposite Talkatora Garden. 

Pop sensation Justin Bieber to bring Purpose tour to India in May

Justin Bieber
Justin Bieber
Global pop sensation and Grammy award winner Justin Bieber will bring his Purpose world tour to India in May this year, the promoters of the event announced here today.
"The wait is finally over and Beliebers can rejoice! It is officially confirmed – Grammy award winner and global pop sensation Justin Bieber is making his way to the India sub-continent this summer," a press release from White Fox India said.
"This highly anticipated event will be the biggest live music act witnessed in recent times in India and will further strengthen India’s position on the global music map," it said.
White Fox, the sole promoters of the tour, confirmed that, after a week of speculation and uncertainty, they would bringing the 22-year-old Canadian megastar's Purpose World Tour to the DY Patil Stadium in Mumbai on May 10.
The tour is in support of Bieber's fourth album, the critically acclaimed Purpose, in which he has experimented with more exploratory electronic sounds. Apart from India, the Asia leg of the tour comprises Tel Aviv in Israel and Dubai in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the release said.
Purpose, which is Bieber's fourth studio album, debuted at number 1 in over a hundred countries and has sold over eight million copies worldwide.
"Bieber is without a doubt one of the most successful pop stars in the world today with a recent world tour imbibing sold out dates across countries," the release said.
The release said concert goers can pre-register for tickets at Book My Show for the event. Tickets will go on sale on February 22 and will be priced at Rs. 4000 upwards, it said.
 "Concert goers can look forward to a set list that will surely comprise worldwide smash hits including Where Are Ü Now, Boyfriend, Love Yourself, Company, As Long As You Love Me, What Do You Mean?, Baby, Purpose, Encore: Sorry amongst others," it said.
Mr. Arjun Jain, Director, White Fox India said, "Justin Bieber is the biggest artiste of our time and attracts a universal fanbase across all ages. This tour is one of the most successful in the world at the moment and will further enhance India’s current cultural repertoire. Justin Bieber will be bringing an extraordinarily epic show propelled by state-of-the-art production and of a magnitude that the country has not witnessed in recent times. There are few artistes who warrant such a dedicated fan base as Justin Bieber. He enjoys a more than 80% dedicated fan following in India and we envisage one of the biggest live events of the year."
"We are expecting a full house on May 10 with one of the biggest arena tours witnessed in recent times. This tour will place India on the global map and open up avenues for other artists of similar stature who may want to consider India as part of their touring roster," he said.
The Purpose World Tour has already mesmerized fans and critics alike across the United States, Canada and Japan last year and will tour throughout Europe before landing in Australia and New Zealand this year. 
"With more than 100 huge shows on the tour and close to a million ticket sales globally, there is no doubt that Bieber is at the top of his game with this tour," the release said.
Purpose is Justin Bieber's first album in two years. Right after its release, Purpose was the most streamed album on Spotify in one week with What Do You Mean as the most played song. The record sold more than 640,000 copies in less than a week.
Justin Bieber also holds the record for the highest most Twitter followers for any male user. He also has the highest number of YouTube subscribers for any male singer and became the first artiste to reach 10 billion views on YouTube in 2016. Bieber released his first album "My World 2.0" co-produced by the rapper Usher in 2009 at the age of 14. His single "Baby’" brought the star worldwide recognition and made him the most viewed artist with 4.1 billion views on YouTube. Earlier this fall, Bieber’s hit "Sorry" grabbed 10 million YouTube views in less than 24 hours. Apart from winning at the Grammy Awards, Justin Bieber also has eight new Guinness world records to his credit.
He won the Grammy for Best Dance Recording for Where Are You Now in 2016. He had also made headlines for the first ever singer to have seven songs from a debut album to feature on the Billboard Hot 100. Beiber also recently broke the Beatles' 1964 record by topping the American Billboard 17 times.

Six FTII courses get Master’s degree equivalence

A view of the Film and Television Institute of India, Pune
A view of the Film and Television Institute of India, Pune
The Association of Indian Universities (AIU) has equated six post-graduate diploma programmes of the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), Pune with Master's degree.
"The Master's equivalence launches FTII into a new academic orbit and introduces a new dimension for students who can now leverage this attribute for higher studies, in India and abroad," an official press release said.
According to it, FTII had been making efforts since 2011 for securing the Master’s degree equivalence for its programs. Recently, a four-member committee from Association of Indian Universities visited the institute and were briefed by the Heads of Department and Faculty members who made detailed presentations before the AIU Committee. The committee also visited the academic locations as well as technical facilities and also met student representatives on the campus. 
Mr. Gajendra Chauhan, Chairman FTII, Mr. Pawan Manvi and Mr. Rajan Welukar, members of FTII Academic Council, briefed the committee on the credentials of FTII. Renowned FTII alumni Vidhu Vinod Chopra, Satish Shah, Tom Alter, Amitabh Shukla, Mahesh Aney, Bishwadeep Chatterjee and Siddharth Tatooskar were also present during the presentations. 
The two- and three-year programmes which have been given Master's equivalence are: Cinematography; Editing; Direction & Screenplay Writing; Sound Recording & Sound Design; Art Direction & Production Design; and Acting, the release added.

Film Condition Assessment Project launched under National Film Heritage Mission

Information & Broadcasting Secretary Ajay Mittal launched the Film Condition Assessment Project, which is the first phase of implementation of the National Film Heritage Mission (NFHM) at the National Film Archive of India (NFAI) here today.
“Ministry of Information and Broadcasting is committed to safeguarding the country’s filmic and non-filmic heritage and is taking all necessary steps to preserve films and non-filmic material for posterity as per global standards,” he said.
Mr. Mittal said the Film Condition Assessment was a one-of-its-kind project in the world for film preservation so that the rich filmic heritage would become available for future generations.
"The condition of about 1,32,000 film reels at NFAI would be assessed and necessary measures would be taken to prolong their life. Each film reel will be tracked and monitored through RFID tagging, during the first phase," he said.
Mr. Mittal also launched NFAI’s initiative of digitization of non-filmic material. 
"This is a step in the direction of Government’s Digital India initiative, wherein non-filmic heritage of the country would be digitized, restored and made available to the people at large," he said.
NFAI has been the custodian of a large number of film ancillary material like posters, photos, song booklets, pamphlets, press clippings, slides / transparencies, glass negatives, and so on, which would be digitized and restored during the process.
NFHM is a prestigious mission of Government of India for preservation, conservation, digitization and restoration of the rich cinematic heritage of the country. NFAI is the nodal organization for the implementation of this project. The Government has allotted Rs. 597.41 crore allotted towards implementation of the project.

Arts thrive only when people pay: Adoor Gopalakrishnan

Acclaimed film director, screenwriter and producer Adoor Gopalakrishnan today said only when people pay to enjoy the arts can artistes thrive.
Airing his views at a panel discussion on ‘Creative Approaches to Sustainability’ at the Indian Institute of Management Bangalore (IIMB) here, Gopalakrishnan raised questions on the impact of technology on the arts, the role of an artiste in society and the need for people, and not just the state, to nurture art.
“Why must we only depend on government patronage? In our country, arts and culture are given last priority – they come after sports in every budget! So it is important to educate people on their responsibility to provide sustenance to the performing arts be it ‘Koodiyattam’ or ‘Kathakali,” he said.
Sanjna Kapoor, director of Junoon, the travelling theatre company, building on the theme of sustenance, spoke of the crying need for professional management in the field of the arts.
“Although there is a rich variety of the arts in India, we are not doing anything to value them or make them flourish. When we urbanize, if we don’t think of spaces for the arts, it is going to be detrimental to the health of the country. Our role as artistes is to claim our spaces, explore terrifying and new areas and shout out our needs,” she said.
On the subject of technology, while Adoor, ever the minimalist, observed that technology often diminishes palpability but can be harnessed by better technique, Sanjna chose the middle ground, suggesting that technology can help the artiste if used well.
“The arts should not be static; they should evolve and adapt. Opportunities, be it from technology or from the corporate world, need to be grabbed and managed well,” she added.
Responding to the role of an artiste in society, Odissi, Chau and Manipuri danseuse Sharon Lowen said an artiste must be a risk taker. “Creativity is the opportunity to keep exploring and learning, and to keep taking risks.” 
Indian classical dancer and choreographer Alarmel Valli spoke about the process of creating art. “Art becomes a cliché when the artiste becomes too secure. Vibrant tradition can fall prey to straitjackets. As artistes, we need to understand traditions, practice and internalise them and come up with something new. We should take the ‘then and there’ and make it our ‘here and now’,” she explained.
Award-winning filmmaker and screenwriter Vipin Vijay struck a different note when he confessed that contemporary artistes need to speak their mind more often.
Actor, director and screenwriter Pawan Kumar, whose films ‘Lucia’ and ‘U-turn’, have seen commercial and critical success said, “As a film maker, I see myself more as an artisan and less as an artiste.”
He spoke of sustenance in the context of his own creative journey from dropping out of engineering college to staging plays in an almost-empty theatre to enjoying box office success.
“Rewards and marketing are important for sustainability in the arts. As an artiste, I want people to listen to me. To have an audience is vital for sustainability. It is all about finding the right balance between making money and getting work acclaimed critically. Managerial competence and finance are also important for good art to thrive,” he explained.
The workshop, led by Prof. A. Damodaran, the IPR Chair at IIMB, brought together film directors, leading performing artistes and thought leaders for a day of stimulating discussions on how innovative creative organizations can make a transformative difference.
Earlier in the day, while welcoming participants to the round table, Prof. Damodaran said the forum was not a lit fest or a film fest, but a platform to explore whether simple can be beautiful, in the context of minimalism.
IIMB’s Dean Faculty Prof. Ishwar Murthy pointed out that IIMB strives to create a platform for exchange of ideas. “You can plant seeds of thought here today and things will happen. You can create the dots in a way that we all connect them,” he said.
The day’s other highlights included the screening of the 70-minute film, ‘A Door to Adoor: Images/ Reflections’, by well-known filmmaker Girish Kasaravalli on imagery in Adoor Gopalakrishnan’s films.
“There’s a huge difference between both our styles of film making. I use imagery to embellish my offerings, he uses imagery to heighten the minimalistic effect in his films,” said Kasaravalli.
Divided into five segments – all named after the master’s works – Kasarvalli’s film explored the use of minimalism in Adoor’s films through his choice of music, lighting and imagery.
This was followed by a masterclass on ‘Spinning Creative Ventures: The Junoon Saga’ by Sanjna Kapoor. There was a mesmerizing Kathakali performance by Margi, an organization dedicated to the revival of ‘Kathakali’ and ‘Koodiyattam’, through the Gurukula system of training.

Festival of India in the Netherlands from January 26-March 27

 A two-month-long Festival of India in the Netherlands starting on January 26 will showcase diverse Indian culture including classical and folk dances, music, and exhibition on handmade ethnically sourced silk clothes and accessories.
An official press release said the events would be held in the cities of The Hague, Amsterdam, Rotterdam/Maastricht, Utrecht, Eindhoven and Groningen.
During the festival, there will be a performance by a 13-member troupe from the Aditi Mangaldas Kathak Dance Group, Bhojpuri folk dance by 15 artistes of North Zone Cultural Centre, Classical Instrumental Music by four-member Subhash Ghosh group, exhibition-cum-demonstration on handmade ethnically sourced silk clothes and accessories by Dr. Sanjay Kumar, Director, Sewa Bharat and Bharatanatyam dance by a 10-member troupe led by Dr Sanddhya V. Pureccha. 
The festival will go on until March 27, the release added.

Dusk-to-dawn tryst with classical music,dance at IIM Bangalore on R-Day eve

Akkarai sisters
Akkarai sisters
The Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore (IIMB) will host a dusk-to-dawn extravaganza of classical music and dance from 6 pm on January 25 till the dawn of Republic Day, featuring well-known names in Hindustani classical, Carnatic music and classical dance.
Hosted in association with SPICMACAY chapter at IIMB, the event,‘Yamini’, is held every year under the starry skies at the open air amphitheatre at the IIMB campus on Bannerghatta Road here.
This year, the event features Padma Shri award winners Pt. Venkatesh Kumar (Hindustani Vocal) and Ustad Shahid Pervez (Sitar), renowned danseuse Sujata Mohapatra (Odissi) and the youth sensations Sikkil Gurucharan (Carnatic Vocal) and the Akkarai Sisters (Carnatic Violin).
Entry is open to all. The event details and entry passes are available at, or on the Facebook event page:
Pt. Venkatesh Kumar from Dharwad near the Maharashtra-Karnataka border, a place famous for its rich musical tradition, especially Hindustani, has learnt music under the tutelage of the late Puttaraj Gawai, a saint-musician. Having received music training at Gawai’s ashram in Gadag, over the years, he earned national recognition. His robust style and seamless blending of key elements of the Kirana and Gwalior gharanas is also enriched by characteristics of the Patiala school.
Ustad Shahid Parvez Khan descends from six generations of sitarists. He is one of the leading exponents of the Etawah Gharana, committed to this most famous of Indian instruments. He was trained by his father and guru, Ustad Aziz Khan.
A distinguished practitioner of Odissi, Sujata Mohapatra made her initial foray into the dancing arena in her early childhood. Born into a rich cultural background, she grew up in an artistic environment that delicately nourished her creativity and brought out her innate interest in dance.
Mohapatra, as the disciple and daughter- in-law of the late Guru Padmabibhushan Kelucharan Mohapatra, had received 18 years of rigorous training under the guidance from him. She subsequently did further studies on the dance form and also undertook research work at the Odissi Research Centre, Bhubaneshwar. She is at present Principal of ‘Srjan’ an Odissi dance institution founded by Kelucharan Mohapatra.
Sikkil C. Gurucharan, born on June 21,1982 is the grandson of Sikkil Kunjumani, elder of the internationally acclaimed flautists, the Sikkil Sisters. Gurucharan has been under the tutelage of Vaigal S. Gnanaskandan and is currently being mentored by B. Krishnamurthy.
Akkarai Sisters, S Subhalakshmi and S Sornalatha, hail from a family with a rich background in Indian classical music. Their grandfather, Suchindram Shri S P Sivasubramanian, was a multifaceted musician renowned as a vocalist, violinist, and composer, and their grandmother R Sornambal was a Harikatha exponent. The sisters are the disciples of their father, Akkarai S Swamynathan, a veteran violinist and founder of the Swara Raga Sudha school of music.

Festival of India in Cambodia from January 10

A Festival of India will be held in Cambodia from January 10 to February 16, an official press release said here today.
The highlights of the festival include a Ramayana performance, Rajasthani folk music and dances (dance group plus Manganiyar group) and classical dance performances.
A Buddhist Mahotsav – Exhibition titled Dhamma Darshana - to explore the life, teachings and important events connected with Lord Buddha and photo exhibition on Buddhist religious/heritage sites in India will also be held.
To complete the experience, a Food Festival will showcase delicacies and cuisine from across India. The festival events will be held in the three cities of Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Battambang in Cambodia, the release added.

Illusion of freedom of speech among ways to stifle dissent: Tharoor

The creation of an illusion of freedom of speech is among the more insidious ways to stifle dissent in society, according to former Union Minister, Shashi Tharoor who was part of a discussion at the Kochi-Muziris Biennale (KMB) here yesterday.
“There are many ways dissent can be stifled. The old fashioned school of locking people up and sending them to concentration camps but the other way is getting employers to hound them for instance.
"The more insidious and sophisticated ways are more dangerous because they preserve the illusion of freedom of speech,”  the MP from Thiruvanananthapuram said.
He was part of a discussion, "Dissent and Discourse” organised by the BM Anand Foundation as a collateral of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale. The discussion aimed to explore the notion of dissent and its significance in public discourse, creativity and progress. 
Dr Tharoor was joined on the panel by KMB co-founder Riyas Komu, BJP leader Shazia Ilmi and art curator Alka Pande The discussion was moderated by biographer and writer Aditi Anand.
Given the context of the Biennale, the conversation focused on the art and the role of BM Anand, specifically the subaltern, within society and the civic and social power of art as a voice of dissent and a tool for advancing social justice.
Speaking from an artist’s perspective, Komu said dissent could be viewed in a multilayered manner and the Kochi Muziris Biennale has succeeded in creating “a site where many discourses can happen".
“For us as a foundation the focus is to celebrate the diversity and cosmopolitanism of the historic Muziris region. I think Kochi is sort of doing a cultural acupuncture which can benefit the nation culturally in the long run,” Komu said.
Referring to an anecdotal conversation with eminent historian K. N. Pannikar and  KCHR Chairman P. J. Cherian , who led the field team in Muziris excavations, Komu said, “Just like they used the metaphor that with every 1 metre of digging, they crossed the history of over 1000 years, we  as a biennale get energy to present voices of multiplicity and plurality".
Tharoor referred to Gandhi’s sense of justice where he was ready to accept the punishment meted out to dissenters but “today people want to dissent without the punishment.”
“Within any framework of freedom, dissent and dialogue are an essential part of society. I think like Leonardo da Vinci says nothing strengthens authority like silence so the need to speak out is important. Freedom and dissent are two sides of the same coin,” Ilmi said. 
Pande, who curated the first exhibition of BM Anand in New Delhi earlier this year, said the artist was “absolutely fearless in his language of art and never played to the market and was absolutely honest to his craft.”
The BM Foundation’s co-founders, Neeraj Gulati and Kriti Anand, who is the daughter of BM Anand, were also present at the function.
The selection of works being displayed as a collateral at the KMB features evocative, often apocalyptic pieces in diverse mediums. There are, in all, 10 scratchboards, 10 scratchboard sketches, three sets of 13 drawings, one ink and watercolour on paper and a single oil on canvas.
Curated by young researcher and writer Shruthi Issac, the exhibition is a sampling of the estimated 1,500 surviving works by BM Anand – from scratchboards, landscapes, watercolours and sketches to commercial illustrations for books, posters, newspapers and magazines.
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