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Chiranjeevi to open Incredible India exhibition at Cannes on Monday

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Union Tourism Minister K Chiranjeevi will inaugurate an Incredible India exhibition at the 66th Cannes Film Festival in France tomorrow as part of the efforts to promote India as a filming destination.

The joint effort by the Ministry of Tourism and Ministry of Information & Broadcasting follows a memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed by them to promote Cinema of India as a sub-brand of the the former's Incredible India campaign at various international film festivals like IFFI Goa, European Film Market, Cannes Film Festival and markets abroad.
 
The effort is to develop synergy between tourism and the film industry and to provide a platform for enabling partnerships between the Indian and global film industry.
 
The Ministry of Tourism’s activities at Cannes Film festival 2013 include screening of “Incredible India” promotional films during promotional events and meetings with leading film directors and producers.
 
Several destinations in the country have gained in terms of tourist influx by being the location of popular domestic and International cinemas. The Oscar award winning film “Life of Pi” was shot in Puducherry and Munnar (Kerala). The Ministry of Tourism is promoting these destinations as the “Land of Pi”. 
 
The Government is also setting up a “Single Window Clearance” mechanism for foreign production houses interested in shooting films within India, an official press release added.
 
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Mukherjee presents Asom Ratna, Srimanta Shankardeva Awards

President Pranab Mukherjee presenting the Srimanta Sankaradeva Award, 2008 to actress Sharmila Tagore, in Guwahati on May 13, 2013. Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi is also seen.
President Pranab Mukherjee presenting the Srimanta Sankaradeva Award, 2008 to actress Sharmila Tagore, in Guwahati on May 13, 2013. Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi is also seen.

President Pranab Muherjee presented the Asom Ratna Award (posthumous) to late Assamese writer Indira Goswami and the Srimanta Shankardeva Award for 2008 to well-known actress Sharmila Tagore at a function in Guwahati yesterday.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr Mukherjee said he was happy that his first visit as President to Assam was to confer distinction on two outstanding women of India.
 
He described the late Ms Goswami and Ms Tagore as social leaders who had contributed to the development and empowerment of women. 
 
The President congratulated Ms Tagore for her rich contribution to India’s cultural life. He said as a goodwill ambassador for UNICEF and Chairperson of the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC), Ms Tagore had used her influence to promote initiatives aimed at bringing positive change in our society. 
 
He also welcomed the recognition by the Government of Assam of the contribution of late Ms Goswami by awarding her the Asom Ratna Award posthumously. 
 
Mr Mukherjee said Ms Goswami was a legendary story teller and prolific novelist who courageously advocated social change in a very volatile period in Assam’s history. She would be particularly remembered for her role as a mediator in talks between armed militants in Assam and the Government of India. 
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"In all her works, ‘Mamoni’ as she was known, had focused on women, the disadvantaged and the oppressed in society. By creating a consciousness about these problems, she was able to sow the seeds of change," he said.
 
Mr Mukherjee said these were difficult times and referred to the December 16 gang-rape of a 23-year-old girl in Delhi which had shaken the national consciousness.
 
"We must ponder where we are and where we are going. We must reset our moral compass. Women are a symbol of power, peace, love, humanity and divinity," he said.
 
The President congratulated the Government of Assam for instituting the Srimanta Sankardeva Award. He said that this award would propagate the teachings of Swami Srimanta Shankardeva, an Assamese saint, scholar and social reformer who lived in the 15th and 16th centuries. 
 
"His neo-Vaishnava movement repudiated caste barriers and sought to create an egalitarian civil society based on the shared values of fraternity, equity, humanism and democracy," he added.
 
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Tewari presents Dadasaheb Phalke Award to Pran in Mumbai

Tewari presents Dadasaheb Phalke award to Pran

Union Minister for Information & Broadcasting Manish Tewari presented the prestigious Dadasaheb Phalke Award - the top honour in Indian cinema - to veteran actor Pran Sikand at his residence in Mumbai today.

The 93-year-old actor, popularly known as Pran, could not travel to Delhi to receive the award personally at the National Film Awards ceremony on May 3 due to his age and health constraints and Mr Tewari flew down to Mumbai to personally present it to him
 
The veteran actor was presented the coveted award, comprising a Swarn Kamal, a citation, a shawl and a cash prize of Rs 10 lakhs. 
 
Pran was chosen for the award, named after Dadasaheb Phalke, the pioneer of Indian cinema, for his outstanding contribution to the growth and development of the industry during a nearly six-decade long career in which he acted in more than 400 films.
 
He is the 44th winner of the award, which is conferred annually by the Government of India.
 
Pran acted as a villain in scores of movies in the early part of his career, but then made a very successful switch to character roles, starting with the role of "Malan Chacha" in Manoj Kumar's Upkar in 1967.
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"It is an honour for me to present this award to Pran saab in person, in the Centenary year of the Indian cinema," Mr Tewari said, adding that Pran was one of the most deserving persons to get the award.
 
The Minister was accompanied by I & B Secretary Uday Kumar Varma and senior officials of the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting. 
 
The award was instituted in 1969, the birth centenary year of Dasaheb Phalke.
 
Movies in which Pran has done memorable roles include Azaad, Madhumati, Devdas, Dil Diya Dard Liya, Ram Aur Shyam, Aadmi, Ziddi, Munimji, Amar Deep, Jab Pyar Kisi Se Hota Hai, Aah, Chori Chori, Jagte Raho, Chhalia, Jis Desh Men Ganga Behti Hai and Zanjeer.
 
Born in 920 in Old Delhi, Pran started his career way back in 1940. He first ventured into photography but a chance meeting with a film producer got him his first role in a film called Yamla Jat. 
 
In 2001, the Government of India had honoured Shri Pran Sikand with the Padma Bhushan.
 
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13 short films based on Tagore's poems released

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Union Minister of Culture Chandresh Kumari Katoch launched, 13 short films based on the poems of Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore here today.

These films have been directed by well-known filmmaker Buddhadeb Dasgupta and produced with the financial support of the Ministry of Culture through National Film Development Corporation (NFDC).
 
The films were produced as part of the commemoration of the 150th birth anniversary of the poet after a screening committee chaired by filmmaker Shyam Benegal examined proposals in this regard.
 
These short films, each of 25-30 minutes duration, are based on Tagore’s poems such as Bansi (The Flute), Krishnakali (The Dark Maiden), Mukti (The Freedom), Phanki (Deception), Pukur Dhare (From the pool side), Ek Gaye (A Village), Camellia (Camellia), Banshiwallah (The Flutist), Shesh Chithi (The Last Letter), Hothat Dekha (The Unexpected Meeting), Patralekha (The letter ought to be written), Basha Bari (The mansion) and Istition (The Station).
 
"These films encapsulate Tagore’s humanism and showcase the creativity that he had in him and a genius that he was. These films reflect a wide range of his intellectual thinking from Romance to Philosophy, to tradition to the contemporary ills to western thoughts. They are as much as relevant today as they were when conceived and written by Gurudev, a radical man of Indian Renaissance of his time," an official press release added.
 
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Mukherjee presents National Film Awards, calls for portrayal of positive values

President Pranab Mukherjee presenting the Best Actor award to Irrfan Khan at the 60th National Film Awards function, in New Delhi on May 3, 2013. He shared the award with Vikram Gokhale
President Pranab Mukherjee presenting the Best Actor award to Irrfan Khan at the 60th National Film Awards function, in New Delhi on May 3, 2013. He shared the award with Vikram Gokhale

President Pranab Mukherjee today said cinema must be used to portray positive societal vales for building a tolerant and harmonious India.

Presenting the National Film Awards for 2012 at a colourful function at Vigyan Bhavan here this evening, Mr Mukherjee said the film industry ought to take steps to ensure that cinema was morally energising.
 
He lauded the initiatives taken by the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting (I&B) such as single-window clearance for shooting films in India.
 
He also praised veteran actor Pran Sikand, who was chosen for the prestigious Dadasaheb Phalke award for his contribution to Indian cinema. Pran, 93, could not attend the function because of his frail health.
 
Pran was chosen for the award - the top honour in Indian cinema - for his outstanding contribution to the growth and development of the industry during a nearly six-decade long career in which he acted in more than 400 films.
 
He is the 44th winner of the award, which is conferred annually by the Government of India and consists of a "Swarn Kamal", a cash prize of Rs 10 lakh and a shawl.
 
Pran acted as a villain in scores of movies in the early part of his career, but then made a very successful switch to character roles, starting with the role of "Malan Chacha" in Manoj Kumar's Upkar.
 
Speaking on the occasion, I&B Minister Manish Tewari said the presence of films with innovative themes at the 60th National Film Awards showed that the Indian film industry was playing a pro-active role in articulating issues and prejudices which were historically embedded in society.
President Pranab Mukherjee presenting the Best Actress award to Usha Jadhav at the 60th National Film Awards function, in New Delhi on May 3, 2013.
President Pranab Mukherjee presenting the Best Actress award to Usha Jadhav at the 60th National Film Awards function, in New Delhi on May 3, 2013.
 
He announced that the Government was instituting a "Centenary Award", marking 100 years of Indian cinema, that would be given every year starting this year to recognise a paradigm transformation in film making and honour individuals or films that had profoundly influenced contemporary, socio cultural evolution. 
 
Mr Tewari also stated that, in order to encourage parallel cinema, the Government was planning a makeover for Mahadev Auditorium with a view to make it a “Hub of Alternative Cinema”. 
 
He said the auditorium, which was being used for screenings only on special occasions, would be modelled along the lines of Prithvi Theatre in Mumbai to not just screen documentaries and small budget films but also provide a forum for filmmakers and connoisseurs to discuss film making. 
 
Regarding the initiative of the Ministry of taking a fresh look of the Cinematographic Act, Mr Tewari said the committee constituted under Justice Mudgal would aim to find a golden mean between creative essence and aesthetic sensitivity. 
 
The highlight of the evening was the release of postage stamps of 50 iconic personalities of Indian cinema by the President to commemorate the century long journey of Indian cinema. 
Union Communications and Information Technology Minister Kapil Sibal said these 50 stamps were the biggest ever release by India Post.
 
The film personalities depicted in the stamps include Ashok Kumar, Bhalji Pendharkar, Durga Khote, Dev Anand, Yash Chopra, Smita Patil, Rajesh Khanna, Shammi Kapoor, Suraiya, Geeta Dutt, Sohrab Modi, Tapan Sinha, C.V. Sridhar and Bhanumathi. 
 
Vikram Gokhale receiving the Best Actor award from President Pranab Muherjee at the National Film Awards in Delhi on May 3, 2013. He shared the award with Irrfan Khan.
Vikram Gokhale receiving the Best Actor award from President Pranab Muherjee at the National Film Awards in Delhi on May 3, 2013. He shared the award with Irrfan Khan.
The award for the Best Feature Film was conferred on Paan Singh Tomar (Hindi) produced by UTV Software communications Ltd. and directed by Tigmanshu Dhulia. In the non-feature film category, the award for the Best Film was given to Shepherds of Paradise (Gojri & Urdu) produced and directed by Raja Shabir Khan. 
 
In the category of Best Writing on Cinema section, the book Silent Cinema in India – A Pictorial Journey (English) written by B.D. Garga and published by Harper Collins Publisher India bagged the top honour, whereas P.S. Radhakrishnan was conferred the award for the Best film Critic. 
 
In the Feature Film category, a total of 38 films from 14 languages were selected for the 60th National Awards. 
 
Chittagong (Hindi) and 101 Chodiyangal(Malayalam) shared the Indira Gandhi award for the Best Debut Film of a Director. The award for the Best Popular Film for providing wholesome entertainment was shared by Vicky Donor (Hindi) and Ustad Hotel (Malayalam). 
 
The award for the Best Director was given to Shivaji Lotan Patil for the film Dhag (Marathi). 
The award for the Best Actor was jointly shared by Irrfaan Khan, playing the title role in Paan Singh Tomar, and Vikram Gokhale for the film Anumati (Marathi). 
 
The award for the Best Actress was conferred on Usha Jadhav for her performance in Dhag (Marathi). 
 
The award for the Best Supporting Actor was conferred on Anu Kapur for the film Vicky Donor. The award for the Best Supporting Actress was  shared by Dolly Ahluwalia for Vicky Donor and Kalpana for the film Thanichalla Njan (Malyalam). 
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The Best Child Artiste award was shared by Master Virendra Pratap for Dekh Indian Circus (Hindi) and Master Minon for 101 Chodiyangal (Malayalam). 
 
The award for the Best Male Playback Singer was conferred on Shankar Mahadevan for the song Bolo Na from Chittagong. The award for the Best Female Playback singer went to Aarti Ankalikar-Tikekar for the song Palakein Naa Moon Don from the film Samhita (Marathi). 
 
The award for the Best Screenplay Writer (original) was conferred on Sujoy Ghosh for the film Kahaani. The award for best Screen play writer (adapted) went to BhaveshMandalia and Shri Umesh Shukla for the film Oh My God. The award for the Best Dialogue was conferred on Anjali Menon for the film Ustad Hotel (Malayalam). 
 
The award for the Best Lyrics was conferred on Prasoon Joshi for the song Bolo Na from Chittagong. 
 
A special jury award has been conferred on Rituparno Ghosh and Nawazuddin Siddiqui for the films Chitrangadha (Bengali), Kahaani, Gangs of Wasseypur, Dekh Indian Circus and Talaash (Hindi). 
 
The award for the Best Choreography was conferred on Pandit Birju Maharaj for Vishwaroopam (Tamil). 
 
In the Non-Feature Film category, Vikrant Pawar has got the Best Director award for the film Kaatal (Marathi). The Award for the Best Debut Film of a Director was given to Lipika Singh Darai for the film Eka Gachha Eka Manisa Eka Samudra (Odia).
 
Shumona Goel and Shai Heredia for the film I Am Micro (English) and Vasudah Joshi for Cancer Katha (English) got a Special Jury Award. 
 
 Timbaktu (English) was given the award for the Best Film in the Environmental category and Dreaming Taj Mahal ( Hindi & Urdu) for the Best Promotional Film. 
 
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Renovated gallery of Tanjore, Mysore Schools opened at National Museum

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Union Minister for Culture Chandresh Kumari Katoch inaugurated the renovated Gallery of Tanjore and Mysore Schools of South Indian Paintings at the National Musuem here today.

The gallery comprises 88 paintings, almost all of them unique. They include:
 
Tanjore School – Navneeta Krishna with Tanjore King Shivaji II, 1830 A.D.; Nataraja Shiva, early 19th century; Rama Pattabhisheikha, early 19th century and Durbar of Serfoji II (1798-1833). 
 
Mysore School –The marriage ceremony of Shiva Parvati and Sita with Rama, end 18th century; Sandhya Tandava of lord Shiva before Parvati, late 18th century; Hanuman stopping Bharata for entering into fire, early 19th century; Devi Saraswati, late 19th century; Rama Darbar, late 19th century and Gita Serman, late 19th century. 
 
The renovated gallery is a state-of-the-art facility that has elaborate captions, text panels, and slide show of Tanjore and Mysore schools. 

Centenary Film Festival in Delhi from April 25 to mark 100 years of Indian cinema

A still from the movie, A Throw of Dice
A still from the movie, A Throw of Dice

The Ministry of Information & Broadcasting has organised a six-day Centenary Film Festival here from April 25 to commemorate 100 years of Indian cinema.

The festival will begin on April 25 with the inauguration of an exhibition, "Indian Cinea 100 (Celebrating a Century: An Audio-Visual Voyage)" by Information & Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari.
 
The highlight of the inaugural programme will be the screening of the silent film, "A Throw of Dice" with live music conducted by maestro Nishat Khan.
 
A play on the life and times of Dadasahaeb Phalke, the pioneer of Indian cinema, by Aamir Raza Hussain will mark the end of the festival on April 30.
 
In an effort to take the festival to the doorsteps of film lovers in the capital, the festival is being celebrated at the Siri Fort auditorium as well as other venues such as Jamia Milia University, Jawaharlal Nehru University and India Habitat Centre.
 
The six-day event will include screenings of classics as well as contemporary Indian films by master directors such as Bimal Roy, Guru Dutt, Shyam Benegal and Adoor Gopalakrishnan.
 
The festival will also pay tribute to some of the finest actors of popular Indian cinema who are no more through special screenings of films starring Balraj Sahni, Dev Anand, Shammi Kapoor, Rajesh Khanna, among others. 
 
The films being screened represent a sprinkling of various flavours of Indian cinema from major film producing regions of the country. Eminent film makers and actors have been invited to interact with the audiences over the course of the six day festival.
 
A key highlight of the festival includes a special “Satyajit Ray Retrospective” and display of the art work of the iconic personality. Films Division documentaries which have captured on celluloid post Independent India in all its myriad perspectives, will showcase some gems out of its rich archive, such as news reels, documentaries, shorts, features and animation films on diverse subjects.
 
“Cut-Uncut,”a three-day workshop conceived and executed by members of the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC), will showcase the growth and evolution of censorship in Indian cinema, through workshops and panel discussions. 
 
The centenary celebrations will culminate in the National Film Award ceremony at Vigyan Bhavan on May 3. The awards including the prestigious Dada Saheb Phalke Award will be conferred by  President Pranab Mukherjee.
 
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Goa Tourism to host Heritage Festival from April 18–21

The 125-year-old Mae De Deus Church at Saligao in Goa, the venue of the Heritage Festival organized by Goa Tourism from April 18-21.
The 125-year-old Mae De Deus Church at Saligao in Goa, the venue of the Heritage Festival organized by Goa Tourism from April 18-21.

The Department of Tourism, Government of Goa has organized a Goa Heritage Festival at Saligao from April 18-21 to showcase and promote the state's rich and unique heritage.

The festival, being held for the first time, will coincide with the World Heritage Day, which falls on April 18, a press release from the department said.
 
The release said the festival, which will be held near Mae de Deus Church at Saligao, a 125-year-old heritage structure, is being organized in collaboration with the Goa Tourism Development Corporation.
 
It will be inaugurated by Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar.
 
“Through this festival, domestic as well as international tourists will get an opportunity to witness our heritage and even interact with local artisans. We invite everyone to come and experience this authentic Goan festival,” Goa Tourism Minister Dilip Parulekar said.
 
During the festival, tourists will be able to witness artisans displaying their crafts with live demonstrations. There will also be stalls exhibiting Goan crafts like pottery, woodcraft, crochet, marco, handicrafts, and coconut craft. A Goan food court will offer visitors traditional cuisine along with Goan desserts.
 
A gallery will be set up to exhibit ancient Goan photographs titled ‘Great Goans in History’ that will showcase the traditional way of life for Goans. There will be a section for heritage items used by the Goans along with Konkani books. Visitors will also be able to participate in workshops for traditional Goan theatre, dances and other forms of art. Konkani films will also be screened during the festival.
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The entertainment programme will include performances of Goan dances like Dhalo, Mando, Fugdi, Ghode Modni, Goff, Divli dance, Kunbi dance, Kalshi dance, and fisherfolk dance along with a special exhibition on extinct Goan traditional items like Jagor, Morulo, Khel Tiatr, brass band, etc.
 
There will be a fashion show on traditional Goan wear by well-known Goan designer Verma D’Mello, Konkani songs by Sonia Shirsat, and classical performance by Praveen Gaonkar among others. 
 
Goa’s artistic history will be highlighted by Kanta Gawde & Troupe, Amelia Dias and Troupe, John Fernandes & Troupe, Ajit Kundaikar & Troupe, Pundalik Sawant & Troupe, Marianela Gina & Troupe, Mil Mel Nel, and others. Eminent personalities from Goa will be felicitated in appreciation of their contribution in various fields, the release added.
 
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Govt. sets up committee to promote India as a filming destination

The Ministry of Information & Broadcasting has constituted an Inter-Ministerial Committee for Promotion and Facilitation of Film Production in India.

The committee shall act as a "single window" for filmmakers seeking permission from different agencies in the Government of India for filming of feature films, short films and television programmes.
 
An official press release said the Ministry had been planning for some time to put in place such a mechanism, which will facilitate international and domestic film producers, to enhance the possibility of India emerging as a major international filming destination.
 
In the past, as many as 30 agencies were involved in granting permission for film producers to shoot in India. 
 
"The constitution of the committee is expected to mainstream a proactive mechanism and coordination process of granting permissions through a single window provision," the release said.
 
The committee will be chaired by the Secretary, Ministry of Information & Broadcasting and will include the following as members: Joint Secretary, Ministry of Information & Broadcasting (Member-Secretary), Joint Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Tourism, Joint Secretary,  Ministry of External Affairs, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Culture, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Railways, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Civil Aviation and Joint Secretary, Ministry of Defence.
 
The release said Joint Secretary-level officers of any other Ministry may be  co-opted as Member depending on the case under consideration. The Committee shall also co-opt the empowered officer of the State Government on a case to case basis and as per the recommendation of the State Governments.
 
The mandate of the committee is:
 
1.    The  Committee shall facilitate granting of permission for both foreign as well as domestic producers from relevant authorities of Central and State governments.
2.    The Committee shall meet regularly to monitor the progress of facilitation process and from time to time, issue directions to the concerned authorities to fast track clearances.
3.   The Secretariat of the Committee will be provided by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. The Secretariat will also be responsible for all the documentation and paperwork on behalf of the Committee and will liaise with different Ministries/States/ local authorities on behalf of the Committee. 
 
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Veteran film actor Pran chosen for Dadasaheb Phalke Award for 2012

Pran Krishan Sikand
Pran Krishan Sikand

Veteran film actor Pran Krishan Sikand, popularly known as Pran, has been chosen for the prestigious Dadasaheb Phalke Award for 2012 --the top honour in Indian cinema -- for his outstanding contribution to the growth and development of the industry during a nearly six-decade long career in which acted in more than 400 films.

He is the 44th winner of the award, which is conferred annually by the Government of India and consists of a "Swarn Kamal", a cash prize of Rs 10 lakh and a shawl.
 
The award is given on the basis of the recommendations of a committee of eminent persons. 
 
Pran, 93, acted as a villain in scores of movies in the early part of his career, but then made a very successful switch to character roles, starting with the role of "Malan Chacha" in Manok Kumar's Upkar.
 
He gave sterling performances in many films along with actors like Dilip Kumar, Dev Anand, Raj Kapoor and Shammi Kapoor in the 1950s and 1960s.
 
His performances in films like Azaad, Madhumati, Devdas, Dil Diya Dard Liya, Ram Aur Shyam, Aadmi, Ziddi, Munimji, Amar Deep, Jab Pyar Kisi Se Hota Hai, Aah, Chori Chori, Jagte Raho, Chhalia and Jis Desh Men Ganga Behti Hai had been widely acclaimed.
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Born on February 12, 1920, Pran started his career way back in 1940. He first first ventured into photography but a chance meeting with a film producer got him his first role in a film called Yamla Jat. 
 
Pran acted in several films, his base being Lahore in undivided India. His career experienced a brief pause due to partition in 1947. Subsequently he moved to Bombay. With the help of the famous writer Saadat Hasan Manto and actor Shyam, Pran got a break in the Bombay Talkies film Ziddi which had Dev Anand in the lead role. The film brought him to limelight in the Bombay film industry and then there was no turning back. 
 
"His impressive performances have bestowed an entirely unique new dimension to the negative and character roles in Hindi cinema. His contribution to mainstream Hindi cinema is well recognized, assuring him the place of one of the most illustrious and celebrated actors of Indian film industry. His career spanned several decades. He has acted in over 400 films and in each one of them, he brought new mannerism and style, holding the audience spell bound by his acting," the release said.
Pran is a recipient of a number of film awards including the Filmfare Award. He was also honoured by the Government with the Padma Bhushan in 2001.
 
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Single window clearance for shooting of foreign films in India soon: Tewari

Minister of State for Information & Broadcasting Manish Tewari presenting the Limca Book of Record ‘People of the Year’2013 award to film actress Shabana Azmi  in New Delhi on April 10, 2013.
Minister of State for Information & Broadcasting Manish Tewari presenting the Limca Book of Record ‘People of the Year’2013 award to film actress Shabana Azmi in New Delhi on April 10, 2013.

Union Minister for Information & Broadcasting Manish Tewari has said that his Ministry was in the process of setting up an Inter-Ministerial Empowered Committee to provide single-window clearance for shooting of foreign films in India.

Speaking at the release of Limca Book of Records 2013 dedicated to 100 years of Indian cinema, he said the committee would include representatives of the State Governments and key Central Government Ministries. 
 
The creation of such an Empowered Committee would provide the platform and impetus to promote India as a filming destination across the world, he said.
 
Mr Tewari said the Justice Mudgal Committee, constituted to review the mandate and functioning of the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) and to recommend measures including statutory changes to enable CBFC to deal with contemporary requirements of certification and increased transparency/ efficiency, was expected to submit its recommendations shortly. 
 
These recommendations would enable the Ministry to review the legal architecture for the film certification process, he said.
 
Mr Tewari said the mandate of the committee was comprehensive and would provide the roadmap for the future.
 
The committee would also review the categories of certification, existing and proposed, under the Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill, 2013; review the mandate and functioning of Film Certification Appellate Tribunal (FCAT) in order to make it a more efficacious appellate body and examine the role of Central Government regarding sanctioning of cinematograph films for exhibition under Entry 60, List I of the Seventh Schedule to the Constitution of India vis-à-vis Entry 33, List II of the Seventh Schedule to the Constitution of India, he added.
 
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Seminar on Rajasthani miniature paintings begins in Delhi

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A three-day international seminar on Rajasthan Miniature Paintings began at the National Museum here yesterday with Union Culture Minister Chandresh Kumari Katoch stressing the need to provide training to painters and artists in the area of preservation and conservation of such art works.
 
Describing miniature paintings as an important art form, she said copies of these works must be preserved as they are of immense historical and cultural importance for future generations.
 
She said her Ministry was making all possible efforts to provide training to young Indian professionals in the field of preservation and conservation. She said the objective of the Ministry is to prepare them better for care of the collections at their home institution and to build a larger and stronger conservation community in India with links to an international network of professionals. 
 
She said three MoUs in this regard have already been signed with international organizations such as British Museum and Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. 
 
Ms Katoch spoke about her personal association with the Kangra paintings of Himachal and her love of Indian miniature paintings. She, in fact, has been the custodian of some of these miniature paintings, she said.
 
Prof (Dr) B.N.Goswamy, eminent art historian and an expert on Indian miniatures was the keynote speaker on the occasion. He appreciated the richness of the desert land, which are inestimable.
 
"Aart in Rajasthan is incalculable and beyond belief and there are treasures waiting to be found, discovered and analysed," he said.
 
He urged academicians to look beyond the known beauties of Rajasthani miniatures and also investigate the unexplored fabrics of abstraction and sub-textual imageries in the Rajasthani paintings. 
 
Culture Secretary Sangita Gairola and Dr. Venu Vasudevan, Vice Chancellor of National Museum Institute and Director-General, National Museum also spoke on the occasion. 
 
The three-day seminar organized by National Museum Institute of History of Art, Conservation and Museology, has drawn art historians and scholars from India and abroad. 
 
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Culture Ministry signs MoU with Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

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The Union Ministry of Culture today signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Metropolitan Museum of Art (MMA), New York, to establish a long-term relationship of cooperation as part of the efforts to enhance cultural exchanges between India and the United States.

The agreement was signed by Dr. Venu Vasudevan, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Culture and Mr. Thomas P. Campbell, Director, MMA in the presence of Union Culture Minister Chandresh Kumari Katoch.
 
An official press release said that, through the MoU, the two sides agreed to cooperate in the areas of conservation, exhibition, academic research, information sharing, public education, promotion and publicity, publications, museum management, and short and long-term loans. 
 
Such cooperation may take the form of exchange, training, and/or visits undertaken by museum professionals on both sides. Also, the Ministry of Culture and MMA agreed to exchange certain publications (including books and periodicals) and other academic materials on an annual basis. Details on cooperation and exchange programs as described above are to be worked out in specific agreements on the basis of the MoU, it said.
 
Further, as a part of the MoU, the Ministry of Culture will collaborate with the MMA and Stichting Restauratie Atelier Limburg (SRAL) in the Netherlands and with support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation (the Mellon Foundation) to organise an “Indian Conservation Fellowship Pilot Programme.” 
 
The goal of the programme will be to provide a rich residency experience for young Indian professionals, better preparing them to care for the collections at their home institution, and to build a larger and stronger conservation community in India with links to an international network of professionals in the field.
 
The pilot is expected to develop into an ongoing conservation fellowship programme expanded to include additional museums and conservation centres in North America and Europe. 
 
The programme will aim to better prepare participants to care for collections at their home institutions and to establish a larger and stronger conservation community in India with international links to professionals in the field. 
 
A total of 16 fellowships of approximately 3-6 months each will be sponsored by MMA, SRAL and Ministry of Culture (12 fellowships by the MMA and SRAL and 4 by the Ministry of Culture) over a two year period 2013- 2015, under the Pilot Programme.
 
In between, seminars in India will be organized to allow Fellows to convey their experiences to a wider audience, to provide a forum for discussion of the Pilot Programme and for the exchange of ideas on common conservation issues, the release added.
 
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Paan Singh Tomar, Vicky Donor shine at National Film Awards

Irrfan Khan
Irrfan Khan

Two mainstream Hindi films, Paan Singh Tomar and Vicky Donor, shone at the 60th National Film Awards announced here today.

Paan Singh Tomar, produced by UTV Software Communications and directed by Tigmanshu Dhulia, was chosen for the Best Feature Film, while its lead player Irrfan Khan, who played the title role, shared the Best Actor award with Vikram Gokhale, who was chosen for his role in Marathi film Anumati.
 
Usha Jadhav won the Best Actress award for another Marathi film, Dhag, directed by Shivaji Lotan Patil, who was chosen for the Best Director award.
 
In the feature films category, a total of 38 films from 14 languages were selected for the 2012 awards.
 
Chittagong (Hindi) and 101 Chodiyangal (Malayalam) shared the Indira Gandhi Award for the Best Debut Film of a Director.  
 
The award for the  Best Popular Film for providing wholesome entertainment was shared by  Vicky Donor (Hindi) and Ustad Hotel (Malayalam).  
 
Vicky Donor got Annu Kapur the award for the Best Supporting Actor, while the award for Best Supporting Actress was shared by Dolly Ahluwalia, also for Vicky Donor, and Kalpana for Malayalam film Thanichalla Njan (Malyalam).  
Vikram Gokhale
Vikram Gokhale
The Best Child Artiste award has been shared by Virendra Pratap for Dekh Indian Circus (Hindi) and Minon for 101 Chodiyangal (Malayalam).
 
The award for the Best Male playback singer has gone to Shankar Mahadevan for the song Bolo Na from Chittagong. The award for the Best Female Playback singer has been given to  Aarti Ankalikar-Tikekar for the song Palakein Naa Moon Don from Samhita (Marathi). 
 
Sujoy Ghosh has won the award for the Best Screenplay Writer (Original) for the film Kahaani. The award for the Best Screenplay Writer (Adapted) went to Bhavesh Mandalia and Umesh Shukla for the film Oh My God. 
 
The award for the Best Dialogue has been conferred on Anjali Menon for Ustad Hotel (Malayalam).  The award for the Best Lyrics has been given to Prasoon Joshi for the song Bolo Na from Chittagong.  
 
A special jury award has been conferred on Rituparno Ghosh and Nawazuddin Siddiqui  for the films Chitrangadha (Bengali), Kahaani, Gangs of Wasseypur, Dekho Indian Circus and Talaash (Hindi).  The award for the best choreography has been conferred on Pandit. Birju Maharaj for the film Vishwaroopam (Tamil).
 
The awards were announced by Mr Basu Chatterjee, chairman of the jury for feature films, Ms Aruna Raje who headed the jury for non-feature films and Mr Swapan Mullick who chaired the jury for Best Writing on Cinema.
 
In  non-feature film category, the award for the  Best Film has gone to Shepherds of Paradise (Gojri & Urdu),  produced and directed by Raja Shabir Khan.  
Usha Jadhav in a poster of the film Dhag
Usha Jadhav in a poster of the film Dhag
Vikrant Pawar has got the Best Director award for the film Kaatal (Marathi).  The award for the Best Debut Film of a Director has been given to Lipika Singh Darai for Eka Gachha Eka Manisa Eka Samudra (Odiya).   
 
Special jury awards were given to Shumona Goel and Shai Heredia for the film I Am Micro (English) and Vasudah Joshi for Cancer Katha (English).
 
Timbaktu (English) has been chosen as the Best Film in the Environmental category  and  Dreaming Taj Mahal ( Hindi & Urdu) has been given the award for the  Best Promotional film.
 
In the category of Best Writing on Cinema, the book Silent Cinema in India – A Pictorial Journey (English) written by B.D. Garga and published by Harper Collins Publishing India has bagged  the top honour, whereas P.S. Radhakrishnan has been chosen for the award for the Best film Critic. 
 
Here is the complete list of awards announced today.
 
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Inaugural Kochi-Muziris Biennale draws to a close

Artist Srinivasa Prasad's installation 'Erase' being burnt at the end of the closing ceremony of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale in Kochi on March 17, 2013
Artist Srinivasa Prasad's installation 'Erase' being burnt at the end of the closing ceremony of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale in Kochi on March 17, 2013

India’s first art biennale concluded in Kochi today, after a three-month run, with the lowering of the official flag, and the symbolic act of committing unwanted thoughts, memories and confessions into the fire to mark a new beginning.

The Kochi-Muziris Biennale gave the country’s art-loving public a glimpse of the best of international and Indian contemporary art; and initiated debates and discussions on matters of artistic, political and social significance.
 
The biennale flag, which was raised at the start of the event on December 12, was lowered today by Union Minister of State for Food and Consumer Affairs K V Thomas in the presence of dignitaries including former Kerala Minister for Culture M A Baby, Mayor of Kochi Tony Chammani, MLAs Dominic Presentation and Hibi Eden, biennale co-curators Bose Krishnamachari and Riyas Komu and other trustees of the biennale foundation, including Bonny Thomas, Hormis Tharakan and Jose Dominic.
 
The organisers, artists and volunteers of the biennale were then joined by the local residents for a “Thank You Walk” from Aspinwall House to Parade Ground. The Art Walk symbolised the democratisation of art and celebrated the fact that the biennale went beyond being an event to a movement.
 
They converged on the Parade Ground where a cocoon-shaped bamboo artwork by Srinivasa Prasad was consigned to flames in a nod to a famed secular tradition that takes place on New Year’s Eve in Fort Kochi when the bygone year, dubbed “pappanji”, is burnt in effigy and the new one is ushered in.
 
Called Erase, Prasad’s installation hung near the entrance of the biennale main venue for 96 days inviting the hundreds of thousands of visitors who came to see the exhibition to pour their sorrows and grievances into it. The artist wanted it to be burnt at the end of the event to signify the destruction of negative thoughts.
 
A concert featuring some of the leading bands in the city concluded the evening’s programme. Local music acts Backwater Blues, Kaav, Third Eye and Green Folio performed at the Vasco Da Gama square in Fort Kochi.
 
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Among the visitors to the biennale on the closing day Kerala Minister for Agriculture K P Mohanan, former Union Minister M P Veerendrakumar, High Court Judge Justice V K Mohanan and film director Major Ravi.
 
The next edition of Kochi-Muziris Biennale will be held in December 2014, and as curtains come down on the inaugural biennale, preparations for the next edition are well under way.
 
Over 75,000 people visited in the first week of the biennale, with over 12,000 on the first Sunday alone. The exhibition crossed 150,000 visitors in the first month and 250,000 by the end of its second month.
 
Scheduled to close on March 13, the biennale was extended by four days on public demand.
 
Spread over 60 spaces across 14 sites in Kochi and surrounding areas, the biennale featured exhibits and performances of 89 artists from 23 countries representing the best of international and Indian contemporary art.
 
New commissions made up more than 70% of the artwork with many of the artists having travelled to Kochi to conduct research and survey sites up to a year in advance.
 
Alongside the curated exhibition,. the programme included 29 talks, 15 collateral projects and a cultural programmes showcasing classical and folk music, traditional art forms, theatre, a literary festival and a film festival curated by director Adoor Gopalakrishnan.
 
Street art appeared on walls between venues throughout Fort Kochi with 11 street artists commissioned by the biennale and many more joining in and finding space to paint murals and stencil works.
 
Around 30,000 schoolchildren visited the biennale and 1,600 students from local schools participated in the Children’s Biennale programme.
 
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Katoch urges corporate sector to help preserve cultural heritage

Union Minister for Culture Chandresh Kumari Katoch addressing corporate heads on Corporate Social Responsibility for Indian Culture, in New Delhi on March 15, 2013.
Union Minister for Culture Chandresh Kumari Katoch addressing corporate heads on Corporate Social Responsibility for Indian Culture, in New Delhi on March 15, 2013.

Union Minister of Culture Chandresh Kumari Katoch has urged the corporate sector to come forward and invest in preserving the rich cultural heritage of India through not only financial contributions but also by supporting events that showcase the country's cultural achievements.

Corporates could also bring out publications on India's cultural heritage and share their experience and expertise with the Government, she said at an interactive session with corporate heads on "Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) for Indian Heritage" here yesterday.
 
The session was organized by the National Culture Fund established by the Ministry of Culture in 1996 as a trust. 
 
Ms Katoch said India is a valuable repository of both tangible and intangible cultural heritage, most of it in the public domain under the Central or State governments.
 
"But equally important is the heritage in the hands of private trusts, collectors and owners," she said.
 
She said India is also home to numerous non-protected sites, museums, forts and "havelis" that belong to individuals, communities and smaller institutions and are open to the public. 
 
"These, in particular, have faced the challenge of preservation for many years. They need long term support for sustained conservation, upgradation and development," she said.
 
The Minister said, Indian culture is vast, and manifested in not only monuments but other important forms of art -- dance, music and theatre. 
 
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"In the modern context protection is not enough. For popularizing and presenting these monuments and sites to national and international audiences, the government needs ideas and partnerships from the corporate sector to develop visitor facilities -- signages, audio-guides, educational programmes, heritage shops, water, rest-rooms and cafeterias. This will have many benefits like improvement in visitors' experience to these monuments and thereby increase footfalls and revenues, it will enhance our understanding of our heritage and allow us to appreciate it more and it will instil a sense of pride in us specially our field officers and give them confidence to take pride in their heritage in national and international platforms," she said.
 
Corporate Affairs Secretary Naved Masood said businesses and chambers of commerce must act as catalysts to make the National Culture Fund a success. 
 
He said there was a need to go beyond mere allocation of funds to protect the tangible culture and corporates could provide expertise and a lot of insight in this regard.
 
Culture Secretary Sangita Gairola spoke about the activities of the Fund and said there would be more such interactions with the corporate sector.
 
More than 50 representatives from the corporate sector like CII, PHD Chamber of Commerce, HUDCO attended the interactive session. Former Chief Election Commissioner S.Y. Quraishi also participated in the discussions.
 
The National Culture Fund was established by the Ministry of Culture in 1996 as a trust under the Charitable Endowments Act. 1890. NCF`s primary mandate is to establish and nurture Public Private Partnerships (PPP) in the field of heritage. NCF`s role is to catalyze relationships between private, public, government, non-government agencies, private institutions and foundations and mobilize resources for the restoration, conservation, protection and development of India`s rich, natural, tangible and intangible heritage. NCF provides donors with 100% tax benefit under section 80G (2) of the Income Tax Act.
 
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Kochi-Muziris Biennale extended by four days until March 17

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The Kochi-Muziris Biennale, which was scheduled to conclude tomorrow after a three-month run, has been extended for four days following public demand, the organisers said here today.

The international contemporary art exhibition will be open to visitors until 6.00 pm on
Sunday, March 17, a press release from the Kochi Biennale Foundation said.
 
The exhibition had opened on December 12, introducing audiences to the best of global and Indian contemporary visual art, and at the same time revitalising the traditional art forms of Kerala. The rush of visitors, including domestic and foreign tourists, towards the close of the event has been unprecedented, the release said.
 
The Biennale organisers, in response to requests received from several quarters to extend
it beyond the scheduled closing date tomorrow, have decided to keep the exhibition open
until Sunday to allow more people to visit, it said.
 
Among those who visited the exhibition today was well-known Malayalam film actress Manju Warrier, who said the art works were simple, accessible and socially relevant.
 
“I was worried I wouldn’t understand contemporary art since it is far removed from the medium that I am involved in. But I know now that its message is universal and can be understood by anyone.”
 
She said she was amazed to see items of daily use and things people throw out as junk
transformed into beautiful artworks.
 
“I’m also pleased to see people of all ages come here to see the exhibition. This is great for
Kochi," she added.
 
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Gasha chosen Best Play in Mahindra Excellence in Theatre Awards

Members of Indian Ensemble, whose
Members of Indian Ensemble, whose "Gasha" won the awards for the Best Play, Best Script and Best Ensemble at the 8th Annual Mahindra Excellence in Theatre Awards in New Delhi on March 9, 2013.

Gasha, produced by Indian Ensemble, was chosen the Best Play at the 8th Annual Mahindra Excellence in Theatre Awards (META) which were announced at a ceremony here on Saturday night.

The play also won the awards for the Best Ensemble and Best Original Script.
 
Satyabrata Rout was adjudged the Best Director of Mattle Eklavya (produced by Aadmima Ranga Tanda), whose lead Dingri Naresh won the Best Actor award.
 
Valeria Olguin from Sadhna Centre for Creative Practice won the Best Actor (Female) award for her stunning performance in After the Silence.
 
Both Matte Eklavya and After The Silence won four  awards each at the ceremony. Other plays to win awards included Mirugavidushagam, So Many Socks and The Old Man and the Sea. 
 
Renowned theatre personality Ebrahim Alkazi was honoured with the META Lifetime Achievement Award for his illustrious contributions to the field.
 
The winners were announced after 10 of the best entries were staged during the six-day Mahindra Excellence in Theatre Festival. In all, prizes were given in 13 categories.
 
The following is the list of winners:
 
Best Play: Gasha (Indian Ensemble)
Best Director: Satyabrata Rout (Matte Eklavya) (Aadima Ranga Tanda)
Best Original Script: Iravati Karnik (Gasha) (Indian Ensemble)
Best Costume Design: Reuben Paul Nathanel. P (Mirugavidushagam ) (Manal Mugudi) and Neela  ( Matte Eklavya ) (Aadima Ranga Tanda)
Best Innovative Sound Design: Claudio Clavija (After The Silence) (Sadhna - Centre for Creative Practice)
Best Lighting Design: Shaji Surendranath (After The Silence) (Sadhna - Centre for Creative Practice)
Best Actor in a Lead Role (Male): Dingri Naresh (Matte Eklavya) (Aadima Ranga Tanda)
Best Actor in a Lead Role (Female): Valeria Olgoin (After The Silence) (Sadhna - Centre for Creative Practice)
Best Supporting Actor (Male): Chidambara Poojari And Yashvant (Matte Eklavya) (Aadima Ranga Tanda)
Best Supporting Actor (Female): Bhavna Pani (So Many Socks) (Q Theatre Productions)
Best Choreography: Martin John C (After The Silence) (Sadhna - Centre for Creative Practice)
Best Stage Design: Samkutty Pattimkari (The Old Man And The Sea) (Rembrance Theatre)
Best Ensemble: Gasha, Indian Ensemble
Life Time Achievement: Ebrahim Alkazi
 
The six-member jury for the awards this year consisted of Nissar Allana, Shobha Deepak Singh, Anmol Vellani, Renu Roy, Bhanu Bharti and Pawan Maskara.
 
“All the plays nominated for the awards this year have been stellar in their own right and have already won the hearts of the audiences during their performance at the festival," Ravi Dubey, Creative Director for META said.
 
Jay Shah, General Manager, Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd., who heads the Mahindra Group's cultural initiatives said, “We are as thrilled and excited today as we have been during this past week watching all the performances of the nominated plays for this year’s awards. Our congratulations go out to all the swinners who have raised the bar through their dedication and hard work, both on the stage and off it. Among other things, META is an important part of Mahindra’s Cultural Outreach, as it not only supports the cultural fabric of our society, but also becomes a platform to engage with the creativity and vibrancy of this rich art form."
 
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Commemorative postage stamp released on poet Sahir Ludhianvi

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President of India Pranab Mukherjee released a commemorative postage stamp on late poet and lyricist Sahir Ludhianvi on the occasion of his birth anniversary at a function at Rashtrapati Bhavan here today.

Mr Mukherjee said Ludhianvi was widely acclaimed as a people’s poet who wrote on the trials and tribulations of the everyday life of the common man with great intensity and deep empathy. He was recognised as the poet of the young because of his writings on love and beauty. He wrote with great sensitivity on the values and social concerns of the contemporary period, he said.
 
The President said one of Ludhianvi's greatest contributions was to converge Urdu poetry into film songs. He also fought for recognition for lyric writers through the Film Writers Association. 
 
"The fact that his birthday is being commemorated 33 years after his death with the release of the stamp is proof that he lives - through his poetry and his songs – in people’s hearts," he added.
 
Among those present on the occasion were Union Minister for Communications and Information Technology Kapil Sibal and Union Minister of Information and Broadcasting Manish Tewari. 
 
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Adoor-curated film fest during last week of Kochi-Muziris Biennale

A scene from Satyajit Ray's Pather Panchali
A scene from Satyajit Ray's Pather Panchali

A five-day film festival curated by renowned Malayalam filmmaker Adoor Gopalakrishnan will begin here tomorrow during the last week of the three-month-long Kochi-Muziris Biennale that is now drawing to a close.

Ten movies will feature in the event being organised in association with the Metro Film Society at the Children’s Theatre near Children’s Park in Ernakulam from March 9. There will be two films shown every evening — at 3 pm and 6 pm, a press release from the Kochi Biennale Foundation (KBF) said.
 
Bioscope, a 2008 Malayalam film directed by K M Madhusudhanan, will also be shown 
midway the festival, a KBF spokesperson said.
 
Satyajit Ray’s 1955 Bengali classic Pather Panchali will be th inaugural film and the only Indian one at the festival. This will be followed by Federico Fellini’s Italian neorealist film La Strada (1954).
 
The other movies will be Four Hundred Blows (Francois Truffaut) and Andrey Rublyov (Andrey Tarkovsky) on March 10, Tokyo Story (Yasujiro Ozu) and Rashomon (Akira Kurosawa) on March 11, The Boy (Nagisa Oshima) and Pick-pocket (Robert  Bresson) on March 12 and The Puppet Master (Hou Hsiao-Hsien) and The Round-up (Miklos Jansco) on the final evening.
 
Today, a leading international non-profit organisation based in the Netherlands is holding a day-long symposium in an effort to create awareness about the utility of local heritage.
 
The Center for International Heritage Activities (CIE), headquartered at Leiden in South Holland, will host ‘What is the Value of Your Heritage?’ with focus on mutual heritage as tool for economic development.
 
On March 12, the KBF will, in collaboration with BMW, organise a seminar on ‘Urbanism’ that seeks to showcase and debate new Indian and International aesthetics and art experiences so as to enable a dialogue among artists, curators and the public.
 
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Mukherjee confers first Tagore Award for Cultural Harmony on late Pandit Ravi Shankar

President Pranab Mukherjee conferring the first Tagore Award for Cultural Harmony on late sitar maestro Pandit Ravi Shankar. The award was received by Ravi Shankar's wife Sukanya Shankar at Rashtrapati Bhavan, in New Delhi on March 7, 2013. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is also seen.
President Pranab Mukherjee conferring the first Tagore Award for Cultural Harmony on late sitar maestro Pandit Ravi Shankar. The award was received by Ravi Shankar's wife Sukanya Shankar at Rashtrapati Bhavan, in New Delhi on March 7, 2013. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is also seen.

President Pranab Mukherjee conferred the first Tagore Award for Cultural Harmony on late sitar maestro Pandit Ravi Shankar at a function at Rashtrapati Bhavan here yesterday, describing him as India's most esteemed musical ambassador and a singular phenomenon in the world of classical music. 

"As a composer, performer, teacher and writer, he rendered invaluable service to Indian music and culture," he said, after handing over the award to Pandit Ravi Shankar's wife Sukanya Shankar. The sitarist had passed away on December 11, 2012.
 
The award was instituted as a part of the commemoration of the 150th birth anniversary of Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore. It is an international award with prize money of Rs. 1 crore for promoting values of cultural harmony. 
 
The jury constituted for the selection of Tagore Award for the year 2012 under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh selected Ravi Shankar to be the first recipient of the award in recognition of his outstanding contribution to cultural harmony and universal values.
 
The award to Ravi Shankar was announced on May 7, 2012 during the closing ceremony of the commemoration. 
 
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Union Culture Minister Chandresh Kumari Katoch and Ravi Shankar's daughter Anoushka Shankar, an acclaimed sitarist, were amongst those present.
 
Speaking on the occasion, Mr Mukherjee said Ravi Shankar's music would always remind people of the profound contributions he made towards internationalization of Indian classical music. 
 
He said Tagore was a literary icon who was fascinated by the idea of interaction between civilizations through the exchange of knowledge about their cultures and literatures. "This versatile genius, being a poet, an author, a composer, a painter, a philosopher and an educationist, was the perfect ambassador of our country for cultural exchange with the world outside," he said.
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"In a world still fettered by race, creed and colour, Rabindranath Tagore promoted internationalism for a new world order based on diversity, open-mindedness, tolerance, and co-existence of many cultures," he said.
 
Mr Mukherjee said Ravi Shankar was acclaimed for his pioneering work in bringing Indian classical music to the West and popularizing it. 
 
"He collaborated with renowned international figures in music to bring the Sitar to a position of prominence in the global music arena. He did the groundwork for other Indian musicians to follow, in performing Indian classical music across the world. The world is now permeated with the acceptance of Indian music, which is largely due to the vision of Pandit Ravi Shankar," he said.
 
Dr Singh said Ravi Shankar was not just a great sitar maestro but also an outstanding cultural ambassador for India. 
 
"He took the music of India to the world and brought a whole new world of music to our country. He personified ‘East meets West’ in musical terms and therefore I would go so far as to call him an ambassador of music itself," he said.
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"Borne on the strings of Pandit Ravi Shankar's sitar, classical Indian music travelled to all corners of the world. Ravi Shankarji's ‘Festival of India’ and ‘Concert for Bangladesh’ albums enthralled music lovers all over the world. His association with The Beatles and his influence on their music is too well known for me to recount here," he said.
 
"One of his greatest contemporaries and friends, Yehudi Menuhin, the violin virtuoso, while talking about his relationship with Pandit Ravi Shankar, had this to say about him and I quote, 'As a teacher, I know of no better. His total commitment to his art goes far beyond pure music making. For Ravi, all human activity, eating, dancing, doing exercise, is imbued with a symbolic value beyond approach, and therefore it is all, in its own way, like some divine offering'," he said.
 
"Pandit Ravi Shankar may be gone, but his legacy will live on – through his music and his compositions. The world is a better place for having seen Ravi ji make music. For that, we will always be in his debt," Dr Singh added.
 
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Mukherjee to confer Tagore Award for Cultural Harmony on late Ravi Shankar

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President Pranab Mukherjee will confer the first Tagore Award for Cultural Harmony on late sitar maestro Pandit Ravi Shankar at a function at Rashtrapati Bhavan here tomorrow.

Ravi Shankar passed away on December 11, 2012 and the award will be received by his wife, Ms Sukanya Shankar.
 
The award was instituted as a part of the commemoration of the 150th birth anniversary of Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore.
 
It is an international award with prize money of Rs. 1 crore for promoting values of cultural harmony. 
 
The jury constituted for the selection of Tagore Award for the year 2012 under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh selected Ravi Shankar to be the first recipient of the award in recognition of his outstanding contribution to cultural harmony and universal values.
 
The award to Ravi Shankar was announced on May 7, 2012 during the closing ceremony of the commemoration. 
 
The award ceremony will be attended by, among others, Dr Singh and Culture Minister Chandresh Kumari Katoch.
 
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World’s first silver museum opens at City Palace Complex, Udaipur

A haudah, one of the exhibits at the newly-opened Silver Museum at Udaipur in Rajasthan.
A haudah, one of the exhibits at the newly-opened Silver Museum at Udaipur in Rajasthan.

Mr Arvind Singh Mewar, head of the erstwhile ruling Mewar dynasty of Udaipur, has unveiled a silver museum, said to be the first of its kind of the world, filled with family heirlooms dating back to 743 AD.

Mr Mewar is the Chairman & Managing Trustee of Maharana of the Mewar Charitable Foundation (MMCF) and 76th Custodian of the House of Mewar.
 
The opening of the museum coincided with the MMCF’s annual award ceremony in recognition of international and national scholars for their work of permanent value to society.
 
Speaking on the occasion, Mr Mewar dwelt upon the personal value of some of the exhibits, including the 1939 custom-made buggy, which formed part of his late mother’s dowry, and the wedding mandap where he gave away his daughter two years ago.
 
The museum is housed in the renowned Amar Mahal, which is located at the entrance of Zenana Mahal and said to be the inspiration for the Taj Mahal in Agra. It includes pieces ranging from objects used in rituals such as Ram Rewaris (portable shrine for religious deity), traditional royal transport like the haudah used for mounting elephants in religious, state and military processions.
 
Royal buggies and palanquins are also part of the exhibition. The works on display illustrate the result of the longstanding historical relationships between the House of Mewar and both the Rajput courts and the Mughal establishment, as well as showcasing indigenous artisan techniques.
 
The current modernization and renovation of the Zenana Mahal at the City Palace Museum is being undertaken with financial assistance from the Ministry of Culture, Government of India,  under the scheme 'Setting Up, Promotion & Strengthening of Regional & Local Museums'.
 
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3rd Delhi International Jazz Festival to be held from March 15-17

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The 3rd Delhi International Jazz Festival, organized by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) and  featuring 12 bands from 10 countries , will be held at Nehru Park here from March 15-17.

Entry to the festival, conceived by ICCR in 2011 as a "tool of cultural contact" spanning Asia, Africa, North America and Europe, will be free, an ICCR press release said.
 
"Every major city such as Montreal, London, Stockholm and Edinburgh has a world class Jazz Festival that is not just named after the city but almost defines its cultural ethos. With a truly International Jazz Festival we intend to include Delhi in this list and make it a truly world class city," ICCR Director General Suresh K Goel said.
 
"For the lovers of music in Delhi, this three-day unique festival would be a treat of great music from around the world in the serene environs of the Nehru Park," he said.
 
"It has become an annual feature on the ICCR's calendar. Having lived abroad for a long time, I have realized that our musical reactions are not limited to classical traditions. We look at things with interest. We take a great deal of interest in their genres of music like rock, pop, jazz and blues. Even A.R. Rahman's music has been influenced by jazz. Not only older people, even younger people in India are listening to jazz. I thought a Jazz Music Festival would generate interest in India. It is a kind of free-wheeling music that represents freedom," Dr Goel said.
 
Some of the bands which will perform at the festival will later travel to other venues in India. The festival will also be webcast live on all three days.
 
Those slated to perform on March 15 include New Bone Quintet (Poland), Lindi & Mimi (South Africa), Sylvie Bourban (Switzerland) and Oscar Acevedo Quartet (Colombia).
 
Sachal Vasandanti (US), Radha Thomas (India), Ararat (Israel) and Oleg Butmen Jazz Trio are scheduled to perform on March 16.
 
Performers on March 17 include Toshanbar (India), Jorge Pardo (Spain), Dhruv (India) and Imany (France), the release said.
 
Of these, New Bone Quintet will perform at Jammu on March 17, Lindi and Mimi in Chennai under the Festival of South Africa, Oscar Acevedo Quartet in Kolkata on March 17, Ararat in Bangalore on March 18, Jorge Pardo at the Jaipur Art Festival on March 19 and Imany in Mumbai on March 19, it added.
 
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Yesudas takes trip down memory lane during visit to Kochi-Muziris Biennale

Renowed singer K J Yesudas at the Kochi-Muziris Biennale in Kochi on March 5, 2013
Renowed singer K J Yesudas at the Kochi-Muziris Biennale in Kochi on March 5, 2013
For septuagenarian singer K J Yesudas, a visit to the Kochi-Muziris Biennale here today turned out to be a rewind to his childhood in a coastal pocket here as much it was as a trip to futuristic art world-wide.
 
Just as the world-renowned musician entered the main venue of the festival, Yesudas recalled a decades-old incident where he was routinely denied access into the Aspinwall House compound.
 
The heritage building in Fort Kochi — close to the vocalist’s native Mattanchery — used to be a busy office complex where his musician father Augustine Joseph was an employee.
 
“My father used to be a worker in the coir sector those days — before switching over to the world of cinema. As a kid, I used to feel curious about the activities inside this building, but never got a chance to get in,” the 73-year-old playback singer and classical musician trailed off.
 
“Today, the entry inside is giving me goose pimples,” Yesudas said.
 
A detailed view of the exhibits at the leafy compound excited the artiste. “The biennale is for those who think,” Yesudas said, adding that it required the curious mind of children to know more about the installations, paintings and sculptures on display here. That way more schoolchildren and art students must visit this event, he added.
 
He said the preparations in organizing such a grand event merits uninhibited praise. “Only people who are ignorant about the labour behind such a festival would criticise it,” he said, hailing the Kochi Biennale Foundation and wishing it better success in the coming editions of the festival once in two years.
 
Marxist ideologue M V Govindan, who is a member of the CPI(M) Kerala Secretariat, also visited the biennale today.
 
The biennale has succeeded in marking the evolution of human aesthetics till date, he said, noting that the exhibits spoke of history, present as well as the future.
 
MLA M V Shreyams Kumar and renowned Delhi-based painter Arpana Caur also visited today the three-month festival, which is ending on March 13.
 
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