DVD of documentary film on Guru Dutt released in Mumbai

The cover of the newly released DVD - In search of Guru Dutt
The cover of the newly released DVD - "In search of Guru Dutt"
A DVD pack of a documentary about legendary film-maker and actor Guru Dutt, made two decades ago, was released here last evening on his 86th birth anniversary.

The 85-minute documentary, In search of Guru Dutt, is directed by Nasreen Munni Kabir, an India-born TV producer, based in UK, who has also published books on music composer A R Rehman and singer Lata Mangeshkar.

The documentary, appreciated by audiences across the world, paints a thoughtful portrait of an exceptional director of Indian cinema.

It contains excerpts from Dutt's films and comments by his colleagues like Shyam Benegal, Dev Anand, Waheeda Rehman, Kalpana Lajmi, Johny Walker, Atmaram , Kaifi Azmi and several others.

"I feel most fortunate to have recorded the many fine minds of Indian cinema, many of whom have now passed away and whose contribution will always remain a vital part of the Indian film industry," said Nasreen.

Arun Dutt, son of Guru Dutt, said, "When I saw the documentary for the first time, I was truly impressed by the portrayal of my father's films, the interviews with his family and his co-workers and the way in which Nasreen had visualized it. I consider it to be the best documentary today or in the future."

Director Benegal said, "This documentary was made 20 years ago. It was the first comprehensive documentary film made about Guru Dutt and it continues to remain the best source of information on his films."

Kalpana Lajmi, niece of Guru Dutt, said "It's fascinating to know that Nasreen, brought up in London, had enough passion and vision to capture my uncle by merely watching him on screen. She is an
amazing film-maker."

Guru Dutt's sister Lalita Lajmi was present on the occasion.

As a tribute to Guru Dutt, the director of Shemaroo Entertainment Mr Hiren Gada released the DVD pack, along with a book, containing rare photographs of the film-maker during different phases of his career.


Ambika Soni says FTII will be made a Centre of Excellence

File photo of Ambika Soni
File photo of Ambika Soni

Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni today said that a Bill would be introduced in Parliament to enable the Film & Television Institute of India (FTII) at Pune to become a Centre of Excellence.

Addressing the Parliamentary Consultative Committee attached to her Ministry at Pune, Ms Soni said this recognition would enable FTII to foster creative ideas and also enjoy the academic status and privileges of a University.

She said this would also help students to pursue higher studies and research in both India and abroad.

The measure would enable FTII to draw a road map to address the growing needs of the media and entertainment industry, she said.

Ms Soni said a group of experts had already prepared a Detailed Project Report (DPR) for the proposed upgradation of the FTII.


The DPR broadly contains recommendations for revitalization of the courses being offered by the institute. It also envisages enhancing the infrastructure of the institute. The DPR will be considered by the governing council of the institute at its meeting on July 6. This could constitute the Vision Statement of the institute, she said.

The Minister also informed the Members of Parliament that the Planning Commission had recently approved a Rs 600 crore allocation for setting up a National Film Heritage Mission (NFHM).

The Mission envisages digitization of the film heritage of the country preserved by agencies such as the National Film Archives of India (NFAI), National Film Development Corporation (NFDC), Films Division (FD), Directorate of Film Festival (DFF), Children Film Society of India (CFSI) and so on.

During the discussions, the members of the Consultative Committee endorsed the vision statement made by FTII Chairman Saeed Mirza.

The members were also of the view that FTII should reach out to remote areas, to tap talents available there. For this purpose, it was proposed to hold mobile short term courses in critical aspects of film making.


In this context, Ms Soni said this proposal was in sync with the outreach strategy being adopted by the Ministry with respect to opening of four regional centres of the Indian Institute of Mass Communication at Jammu, Aizawl, Amravati and in Kerala. The Minister also said that a similar strategy was being adopted by the Directorate of Film Festivals, by taking the national award winning films to different parts of the country, through its Mini Film Festivals.


India's first live-cum-animation 3D film to be released on June 17

The country's first live and animation film in 3-D (stereoscopic) will be released on June 17.

The film, Chhutanki, set in a fantasy land of dragons, kings and queens, revolves around the animated character of Chhutanki, his upbringing and training under a wise guru - Akhand Dev.

The animated hero befriends Suraj and Chanda, and takes on the magical powers of the evil Takla Baba and his cohorts.

"It is very difficult to make such a film but it was my passion to give something to our children, which motivated me to make this film. The story is about the victory of good over evil. The film has only one song, but has every ingredient what makes a film entertaining to all and sundry," director Pankaj Sharma said.

Sharma, whose resume includes films like Bal Hanuman, Bal Ganesh, Panga Gang and Bal Hanuman-Return of the Demon, took 15 months and 40 special effects experts to complete the 90-minute film.


Film media needs to balance its reporting: Shahrukh

Shahrukh Khan
Shahrukh Khan

Even though he shares a great rapport with the media, Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan is weary of how the media often twists his statements made in jest.

"My jokes, which are apparent, are blown out of proportion, and serious issues are trivialized," the actor said today.

"The live interactions with the media are great- I joke and reporters are aware of the fact when I am joking. But it takes on a different meaning when it comes out the next day. Comments and statements meant as jokes are taken seriously, and serious issues are trivialized. We need to find a balance," he said while launching Kanika Dhillon’s debut novel - Bombay Duck is a Fish (Westland)- here.

The actor said the entertainment media was running the risk being taken lightly by the public because of its sensationalistic journalism.

"I know it’s not just the reporters, there are editors along the chain before it comes out. But the film media- generally regarded as lightweight tabloid news- needs to invoke good reading and viewing for the media. Many writers in the film media are also serious writers," he said.

No one in Bollywood really has the time to bear grudges as everyone is too busy working, the actor explained. Clarifying recent media reports that he claimed to be the industry’s number one star, Khan said, "I had recently jokingly said my character G.One for my upcoming film Ra.One stood for my wife Gauri and my position as a star in the industry. It surprised me when my jokes were misconstructed in the media."


He said judging by the way the film media was desperately trying to create news of friction between stars, he might actually be tempted to start a new "fight".

"The differences I may have with others are old and the media are still trying to rake it up. I am not trying to be nice, I’m just a nice guy," he added.



Dharmendra to perform with sons for first time at 11th IIFA

Bollywood actors Priyanka Chopra, Bobby Deol and Dharmendra signed Floriana tiles for the IIFA Wall of Fame, during the press conference at Hotel Grand Hyatt, in Mumbai on May 19, 2011.UNI PHOTO
Bollywood actors Priyanka Chopra, Bobby Deol and Dharmendra signed Floriana tiles for the IIFA Wall of Fame, during the press conference at Hotel Grand Hyatt, in Mumbai on May 19, 2011.UNI PHOTO

For the first time, legendary Bollywood veteran Dharmendra will perform with his actor-sons Sunny and Bobby Deol at the 11th International Indian Film Academy Awards (IIFA) function to be held at Toronto from June 23-25.

The trio will perform a number of Bollywood items, including those from their recent hit "Yamla Pagla Deewana" at the 12,000 seater Rogers Centre, Toronto, where tickets for the show had been sold out in five minutes.

Providing the oomph factor will be actress Priyanka Chopra who will join them on stage. Over 345 million viewers across 65 countries are expected to watch the spectacle.

Speaking to media here last evening, Dharmendra said, "To perform with the young boys and hot young girls of Bollywood industry will make me young again."

The IIFA awards will also premiere Double Dhamaal, the sequel to 2007’s hit comedy Dhamaa’. The film, directed by Indra Kumar, has Sanjay Dutt, Ritesh Deshmukh, Kangna Ranaut, Malika Sherawat, Arshad Warsi, Javed Jaafri and Ashish Choudhary.

At least 35 other films will also be screened across five cities during the IIFA Award weekend.

The awards will also launch its Wall of Fame that will honour the stalwarts and legends of the film industry.

IIFA has travelled to 10 countries so far. "This is the first time we are going to the North American continent. The Awards will continue to provide the impetus for the crossover of Indian cinema to global audiences and delight the Indian diaspora," Wizcraft International Entertainment Director Sabbas Joseph said.



Malayalam movie "Adaminte Makan Abu" gets Best Film Award at National Film Awards

Salim Kumar
Salim Kumar

Malayalam movie "Adaminte Makan Abu", produced and directed by Salim Ahamed, has been chosen as the Best Feature Film at the 58th National Film Awards for 2010 announced here today.

The film was chosen for its "simple yet evocative articulation of humanist values that frees matters of faith from the constrictions of narrow parochialism. The concerns of Abu, son of Adam, are timeless and universal in their scope," the jury for Feature Films, headed by well-kown film-maker J P Dutta, told journalists here.

Actor Salim Kumar, who has won the hearts of Malayalam movie-goers with his various comic as well as serious roles, shares the Best Actor award for his role in the movie with Dhanush, who was chosen for his role in Tamil film "Aadukalam".

"Two riveting performances that fuse character and actor into one," the jury said.

Dhanush for chosen for the raw, nuanced portrayal of a cocky young man who learns lessons about life the hard way. Salim Kumar was given the award for his "deep, restrained performance of a simple man with an unshakeable belief in his quest for salvation."

The Best Actress was also shared by Mitalee Jagtap Varadkar for her role in Marathi film "Baboo Band Baaja" and Sarnya Ponvannan for her performance in Tamil film "Thenmerku Paruvakkatru".


"The picture of two mothers whose concern for bettering the lives of their children in the face of untold hardship," the jury said.

Varadkar played the role of a mother who strives to realise through her son her dreams of a better future while Ponvannan portrayed a fiercely combative single mother who shields her son to the point of sacrifice.

The Indira Gandhi Award for Best Debut Film of a Director went to Baboo Baaja in Marathi, produced by Nita jadhav and directed by Rajesh Pinjani.

Salman Khan-starrer Dabangg, directed by Abhinav Singh Kashyap, was chosen as the Best Popular Film Providing Wholesome Entertainment.

The Nargis Dutt Award for Best Feature Film on National Integration went to Moner Manush in Bengali, directed by Goutam Ghose.

"Champions" in Marathi was chosen the Best Film on Social Issues, while "Bettada Jeeva" in Kannada got the award for the Best Film on Environment Conservtion/ Preservation.

The award for the Best Children's Film went to "Hejjegalu" in Kannada, directed by P R Ramadas Naidu.

Vetrimaran got the Best Direction award for Aadukalam, a tale of love, jealousy and betrayal in the midst of bloodsport and violence, in the manner of realistic cinema.

J Thambi Ramaiah got the Best Supporting Actor award for Mynaa in Tamil, while Sukumari was chosen the Best Supporting Actress for her role in Namma Gramam, also in Tamil.


Four young actors shared the Best Child Artiste award: Harsh Mayar (I am Kalam, Hindi), Shantanu Ranganekar and Machindra Gadkar (Champions, Marathi) and Vivek Chabukswar (Baboo Band Baaja, Marathi).

The following are the other awards announced today:

BEST PLAYBACK SINGER: Suresh Wadkar, Mee Sindutai Sapkal, Marathi

BEST FEMALE PLAYBACK SINGER: Rekha Bhardwaj, Isqiya, Hindi

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY : Madhu Ambat, Adaminte Makan Abu, Malayalam

BEST SCREENPLAY: Screenplay Writer (Original): Vetrimaran, Aadkalam, Tamil

Screenplay Writer (Adapted): Anant Mahadevan and Sanjay Pawar, Mee Sindhutai Sapkal

Dialogues: Sanjay Pawar, Mee Sindhutai Sapkal

BEST AUDIOGRAPHY: Location Sound Recordist: Kaamod Kharade, Ishqiya

Sound Designer, Subhadeep Sengupta, Chitrasutram, Malayalam

Re-recordist of the final mixed track: Debajit Changmai, Ishqiya

BEST EDITING: T E Kishore, Aadukalam

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN: Sabu Cyril, Enthiran, Tamil

BEST COSTUME DESIGNER: Indrans Jayan, Namma Gramam, Tamil

BEST MAKE-UP ARTIST: Vikram Gaikwad, Moner Manush, Bengali

BEST MUSIC DIRECTION: Music Director (Songs): Vishal Bhardwaj, Ishqiya

Music Director (Background Score): Issak Thomas Kottakapally, Adaminte Makan Abu

BEST LYRICS: Vairamuthu, Thenmerkku Parvakkatru, Tamil

SPECIAL JURY AWARD: Mee Sindhutai Sapkal, Produced by Bindiya and Sachin Khanolkar, Directed by Anant Mahadevan

BEST SPECIAL EFFECTS: V Srinivas M Mohan, Enthiran

BEST CHOREOGRAPHY: Dinesh Kumar, Aadukalam,

BEST ASSAMESE FILM: Jetuka Patar Dare, Producer: Md. Noorul Sultan, Director : Jadumoni Dutta

BEST BENGALI FILM: Ami Aadu, Producer: New Theatres Pvt. Ltd, Director : Sonmath Gupta

BEST HINDI FILM: Do Dooni Char, Producer: Arindam Chaudhuri, Director : Habib Faisal

BEST KANNADA FILM: Puttakkana Highway, Producer: Shylaja Nag & Prakash Raj, Director : B. Suresha

BEST MALAYALAM FILM: Veettilekkulla Vazhi, Producer: B.C. Joshi, Director : Dr Biju

BEST MARATHI FILM: Mala Aai Vhhaychay, Producer: Samruddhi Porey, Director: Samruddhi Porey

BEST TAMIL FILM: Thenmerkku Paruvakkatru, Producer: Shibu Isaac, Director : Seenu Ramasamy

BEST ENGLISH FILM: Memories in March, Producer: Shrikant Mohta, Director : Sanjoy Nag

SPECIAL MENTION: Bettada Jeeva (Kannada), Aadukalam (Tamil)



Kerala Tourism's ad film wins bronze at New York Festivals

Your Moment Is Waiting
Your Moment Is Waiting

Your Moment Is Waiting, the latest advertisement film of Kerala Tourism, has won the Bronze World Medal for cinematography at the prestigious New York Festivals, which celebrate the best in advertising every year.

The commercial also won three finalist certificates for Travel TV/Cinema Advertising, Film Direction and Music Score at the coveted event.

Conceptualised and created by Stark Communications, Your Moment Is Waiting was the only TV/Cinema advertisement from India to win an award this year at New York Festivals.

The film has already notched up more than a dozen awards at the global level so far. These include three gold medals at the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) international awards, a bronze at the Berlin Golden Gate Awards, a bronze at ABBY - Goafest, a silver at PEPPER, and a D&AD shortlist. It also won an award at the ongoing prestigious Prague International Advertising Festival 2011.

"Our aim was to break through the clutter and depict the destination in a different, yet true-to-life manner. I am happy that the global traveller as well as the creative fraternity sat up and took notice. The NYF recognition is very satisfying as it proves right our belief that every travel destination needs to constantly reinvent itself to stay relevant and meaningful to the evolving traveller," said Dr. Venu V, Secretary, Kerala Tourism.

"This film set in a different mood marked a new and decisive moment in the marketing strategy of Kerala Tourism. The honours coming our way from the world over are indeed the recognition for this strategy, " said Kerala Tourism Director M Sivasankar.

Your Moment Is Waiting is a transformational journey that captures moments that are raw and refined, sensual and spiritual, real and surreal – all at the same time. It overcomes the visual fatigue by presenting a layered destination soaked in art and culture that the traveller can keep on discovering.

Swarup B R, creative director of the film said, "We had a first-hand experience of the impact of this three-minute film when we premiered it at the Saatchi Gallery in London to a very exclusive audience in September 2010. They were mesmerized – and in the next couple of months, 12 out of the 100 odd celebrity invitees holidayed in Kerala!"

Directed by Prakash Varma of Nirvana Films, the film had Haridas B as Art Director and K U Mohanan as the Cinematographer. The world-renowned Baaba Maal sang to music composed by Duncan Bridgeman and Jamie Catto of 1 Giant Leap, London.

The entries were judged by an international panel of Creative Directors representing every major advertising centre around the world. The winning work will be showcased on The winners will also be published in the next New York Festivals Annual of Advertising, the world’s largest selling annual of its kind, a press release from Kerala Tourism added.


Singer Shaan named as Tobacco Control Ambassador

Popular singer Shaan, Tata Research Centre Director Rajendra Badwe, Salaam Bombay Director Padmini Somani and Mr B K Prasad, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare at the launch of anti-tobacco initiative 'Life se Panga Mat Le Yaar' in Mumbai on May 10, 2011.
Popular singer Shaan, Tata Research Centre Director Rajendra Badwe, Salaam Bombay Director Padmini Somani and Mr B K Prasad, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare at the launch of anti-tobacco initiative Life se Panga Mat Le Yaar in Mumbai on May 10, 2011.

The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has named well-known Bollywood singer Shaan as the Tobacco Control Ambassador of India.

At a function here yesterday, Shaan dedicated himself to the cause and pledged to do all he could to stand up against the tobacco menace.

Shaan’s new music single titled "Life se Panga Mat Le Yar" was also released on the occasion. The new track is targeted at youth and sends a strong message that life without tobacco is a life worth living.

The launch event was organized by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India in association with the Salaam Bombay Foundation at the Tata Memorial Hospital, Mumbai.

The music video has been shot at the Kala Chowki basti, Parel in Mumbai. The 3.48 minute track has lyrics written by Rekha Nigam. The video shows Shaan dancing with children encouraging them to take all problems in their stride and not to make things worse by consuming tobacco.

Hence, tobacco use is a "panga" they can live without. The entire video has a very pro-life stance, is youth centric and speaks of their dreams and aspirations.

An official press release said the Ministry would promote the music video through various television and music channels and FM radio stations as a public service message.

Worldwide, 1.6 million people die every year due to regular use of tobacco, bidis and cigarettes.

Mr B K Prasad, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, said the Government was seriously implementing the Tobacco Control Programme, but admitted complete success was still some distance away.

He said tobacco usage was deep rooted in Indian society and the menace could be overcome only through greater awareness and people's participation in the anti-tobacco programme.


Govt. sets up Tagore International Award for promotion of brotherhood

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at the inaugural function of 150th Birth Anniversary commemorations of Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore in New Delhi on May 7, 2011. The Planning Minister of Bangladesh, Air Vice Marshall (Retd.) A.K. Khandker, National Advisory Council Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, ICCR President Karan Singh and Union Ministers Kumari Selja, S.M. Krishna, Pranab Mukherjee, Kapil Sibal and Ambika Soni are also seen.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at the inaugural function of 150th Birth Anniversary commemorations of Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore in New Delhi on May 7, 2011. The Planning Minister of Bangladesh, Air Vice Marshall (Retd.) A.K. Khandker, National Advisory Council Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, ICCR President Karan Singh and Union Ministers Kumari Selja, S.M. Krishna, Pranab Mukherjee, Kapil Sibal and Ambika Soni are also seen.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today announced the Government had decided to institute a prestigious international award in the name of Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore to recognise very distinguished contributions towards the promotion of international brotherhood and fraternity.

Speaking at the inaugural function of the 150th Anniversary Commemorations of Tagore here, Dr Singh said a jury headed by the Prime Minister would select each year a citizen of the world of outstanding public eminence who in his or her life and work epitomizes the high universal ideals that the poet, writer and painter stood for.

"We hope to present the first award by the end of this commemoration period," he said.

Dr Singh said a wide range of projects were being undertaken as part of the commemorations to make Tagore’s works more accessible to a wider audience and to preserve his work for posterity.

The digital collection of his paintings, entitled the "Rabindra Chitravali", which was released today, has been put together for the first time with great effort and with the support of the government.

He said some important archival materials on Tagore that are on celluloid have been restored and packaged, for national and international dissemination, after sub-titling in English.

A unique project that has been taken up by scholars of international repute of Jadavpur University is the creation of an "online electronic variorum" edition of the works of Tagore in English and Bengali, he said.

"I am particularly glad to learn that special efforts are being made to translate the literary works of Tagore and also encourage performances of his plays in different Indian languages," he said.

Dr Singh said that, with a view to revitalize some of the country's important cultural institutions and to encourage high quality research into their precious resources, the Ministry of Culture has introduced a new Tagore National Fellowship for Cultural Research.

"Under the scheme, renowned scholars have been invited to take up research projects on unknown or lesser known cultural resources that lie within our cultural institutions. I invite distinguished scholars, from India and the world over, to avail of this prestigious and well funded Tagore Fellowship," he said.

"Rabindranath Tagore had very definite views on the prevalent education system. He felt that it had little connection with the reality of Indian circumstances and did little to stimulate the power of a child’s thought and imagination. In his evocative words he wrote '... we are coolies of the goddess of learning, carrying loads of words on our folded backs'. He visited many universities abroad. Finally his quest for a method of learning that would draw directly from the experience of life and nature led him to the charming rural hamlet of Shantiniketan," he said.

Dr Singh said Tagore was a moral force behind the freedom struggle and one who gave a vivid and expressive voice to the depressed soul of India.

"Reading Gurudev’s sublime poetry or masterly prose, one wonders if humankind today has lost some of the finer sensibilities that inspired his works – the intimacy with nature, the quest for inner truth, the sense of solidarity and community that transcends borders and breaks down presumed barriers of religion, race or language," he said.

The Prime Minister said the commemoration events planned over the next one year were intended to rekindle interest in Tagore's thought and teachings as much as in his verses, his paintings and his music.

"In commemorating Gurudev’s birth anniversary, I hope that we can inspire each one of us to a moment of quiet reflection of his ideals and an urge to rise above the desert sands of dreary habit, in the immortal words of the poet," he said.

Dr Singh said Tagore’s ideas on universal humanism resonated well in today’s world.

"His belief in the essential spiritual unity of East and West and indeed of all peoples is a powerful message of redemption for a world beset by greed, callousness and irreverence. His association with great minds such as William Butler Yeats, Romain Rolland and Albert Einstein, to name but a few, helped him to forge personal and intellectual bonds abroad that reinforced his ideas of international brotherhood," he said.

He said a number of commemoration events had been planned abroad, particularly in countries with which Tagore had some association.

Within the internationalism he espoused, Rabindranath Tagore had a clear vision of how India should stand among the comity of peoples. He wrote, ‘In India what is needed more than anything else is the broad mind which, only because it is conscious of its own vigorous individuality, is not afraid of accepting truth from all sources’. So many years after these words were written, I wonder if we can honestly say that we have understood and imbibed their precious wisdom.

Dr Singh expressed happiness that Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina had last year agreed to oversee joint celebrations of the birth anniversary in a befitting manner.

"The decade that Tagore spent in the serene and enchanting surroundings of Shilaidah, Shahzadpur and Patisar was a particularly fulfilling and creative period. His friendship and admiration for his fellow Bengali poets like Kazi Nazrul Islam, Kazi Abdul Wadood and Begum Sufia Kamal did a lot to promote literary creativity and diversity," he said.

Dr Singh recalled that Tagore had established Viswa Bharati as an international university.

"It stands as a living symbol of the poet laureate’s enduring faith in the learning ability and creative power of a young mind and free spirit. Viswa Bharati should rightfully be one of the crown jewels of our academic world. But a lot of work needs to be done to restore this institution to its former glory and for it to live up to the true ideals of its founder," he said.

The Prime Minister said he could think of no more important task in Tagore's 150th anniversary year than the revival of Viswa Bharati.

"As the Chancellor of the University, I am personally committed to this important task. The Government of India is putting a lot of resources into Viswa Bharati, including a special grant of Rs. 95 crores," he said.

He said the Government was working with Viswa Bharati to preserve Shantiniketan's cultural properties. The Archaeological Survey of India is assisting in the conservation efforts and 27 heritage buildings have been restored. A new auditorium is planned and as is the complete upgradation of the museums of Rabindra Bhavana and Kala Bhavana. The Ministry of Culture and Visva Bharati have also taken up the conservation, restoration and digitization of all the collections, paintings, books and manuscripts, he said.

Dr Singh said that, in the final analysis, the future of Viswa Bharati depended not so much on official patronage or resources but the dreams and ambitions of its teachers, students and alumni.


Filmmaker K Balachander chosen for Dadasaheb Phalke Award for 2010

K. Balachander
K. Balachander

Veteran filmmaker K Balachander, who has written, directed and produced more than 100 films in Tamil, Telugu, Hindi and Kannada, has been chosen for the Dadasaheb Phalke Award for 2010.

The award is conferred by the Government for outstanding contribution to the growth and development of Indian cinema.

The award consists of a Swarn Kamal (Golden Lotus), a cash prize of Rs 1 million and a shawl. It is given on the recommendations of a committee of eminent persons.

Balachander has been film director, screenplay writer and producer for more than 45 years now and has become known for his distinct style of film-making.

"The films he scripts and directs analyze unusual or complicated inter-personal relationships and social themes," an official press release said.

Balachander has been responsible for bringing into limelight many stars of the present day, including Rajnikanth, Kamal Haasan, Prakashraaj and Vivek.

Born in Thanjavur District, Tamil Nadu in July 1930, Balachander came into prominence as a playwright with plays like ‘Major Chandrakanth’, ‘Server Sundaram’, ‘Naanal’ and ‘Neerkumizhi’. These plays enjoyed huge popular and critical acclaim.

He entered the film industry in 1965 and shot into fame with his very first film ‘Neerkumizhi’ starring Nagesh. Since then he has directed and produced a number of movies which have won many National Awards, awards from the State Governments and other organizations.

Some of the prominent films he has directed include ‘Apoorva Raagagal’, ‘Avargal’ ’47 Natkal’, ‘Sindhu Bhairavi, ‘Ek Duuje Ke Liye’ (Hindi), ‘Maro Charithra, and ‘Rudraveena’ in Telugu and ‘Bekiyalli Aralida Hoovu, in Kannada.

For the last few years, Balachander has also turned his attention to the small screen and has brought to it the same perfection and intensity that he exhibited on the big screen.

He was conferred the Padma Shri in 1987 and was honoured with the title ‘Kalaimamani’ by the Tamil Nadu Government in 1973. He has also won the Golden Nandi award and Silver Nandi awards from Government of Andhra Pradesh and has also won the Filmfare Award for Best Director numerous times.


Asha Bhosle to make her acting debut in Hindi film "Maaee"

Bollywood singer Asha Bhonsle cuts her birthday cake during the first  dubbing for her debut hindi film
Bollywood singer Asha Bhonsle cuts her birthday cake during the first dubbing for her debut hindi film "MAAEE", at Sight & Sound Studio, in Mumbai on September 8, 2011.UNI PHOTO

Noted playback singer Asha Bhosle -- whose voice has been instrumental in shaping the characters that actresses portray on screen -- has decided to step in front of the camera herself.

The film, co-produced by Subhash Dawar (Alliance Entertainment) and Nitin Shankar (Rhythm Divine Entertainment Pvt Ltd), tells the poignant tale of what happens when a woman is abandoned by her only son and then goes to live with her daughter and son-in- law.

In this touching story of a present-day mother-daughter relationship, the critical role of her daughter is being played by Padmini Kolhapure, who makes her comeback to the big screen with this film.

Ram Kapoor has been cast to play Kolhapure’s husband, Navin Kaushik will play Asha’s son and Cadbury girl Shivani Joshi will play her grand- daughter.

The film, directed by Mahesh Kodiyal, went on the floor today. Filmmaker and producer Yash Chopra cracked the coconut and gave the clap for the first shot. "Maaee" will be shot entirely in Mumbai.

Speaking on the occasion, Bhosle said, "Well, to start with, it was something that I hadn’t done so far. My fans know very well that I do whatever my heart says is good to do. And the moment this story was narrated to me I connected very strongly with it as a mother and a human being, even though it was so far removed from my own life and experience. I knew then and there that there was no way I could let the opportunity to essay this character pass me by."


Two Indian films make it to Gulf Film Festival

Two Indian films are among the 14 movies that will compete for honours at the International Short Film category of the 4th Gulf Film Festival to be held from April 14 to 20 at Dubai Festival City.

Abhay Kumar's award-winning experimental film "Just That Sort of a Day" follows people randomly, only to find a common thread among them.

Chaitanya Tamhane's "Six Strands" is a character study inspired by the world famous Darjeeling tea industry. The film won accolades at the Clemont-Ferrand 2011, the International Film Festival Rotterdam 2011, and the Yes Indian Film Festival, among others.

Other flicks competing in the category include films from Germany, Spain, Brazil and Iran, according to organisers.

Shortlisted from hundreds of global entries, the movies are among the 150-plus features, documentaries and short films from around the region and the world screening as part of the festival.

The festival has become a platform to screen bold, experimental and contemporary cinema from the Arabian Peninsula and other countries.

From gritty crime capers to heartbreaking romances, the shortlisted international movies promise something for every taste, sources said.


Leela Samson appointed Chairperson of Central Board of Film Certification

Leela Samson
Leela Samson

Well-known Bharatanatyam dancer and choreographer Leela Samson has been appointed as Chairperson of the Central Board of Film Certification in an honorary capacity from April 1, 2011 for a period of three years.

Ms Samson will succeed actress Sharmila Tagore, who has been holding the position since October 13, 2004.

An official press release said Mr Lalit Bhasin, a renowed lawyer, had been appointed as Chairperson of the Film Certification Appellate Tribunal for a period of three years.

Ms Samson is currently the Director of Kalakshetra, Chennai, the institute for the classical arts founded by the late Rukmini Devi Arundale, and also the Chairperson of the Chairperson of Sangeet Natak Akademi, India's national academy for music dance and drama.

As a soloist, Ms Samson has been known for her technical virtuosity and has taught Bharatanatyam at Shriram Bhartiya Kala Kendra in Delhi for many years. She has been awarded the Padma Shri for her contribution in the field of arts.

Mr Bhasin is the Vice-President of the Bar Association of India and the Chairman of the Services Export Promotion Council, established by the Ministry of Commerce and a Member of the ICC International Court of Arbitration apart from being a Member of the Task Force on Arbitration set up by ICC.

He has several awards to his credit which include Gandhi National Unity Award, 1991, the Plaque of Honour given by the Prime Minister for his outstanding contribution to the Rule of Law in 2002 and the National Law Day Award given by the President of India in 2007.

Ms. Deepa Dixit and Mr Gurjeet Singh Behl have also been appointed as Members of the Film Certification Appellate Tribunal for a period of three years, the release added.


Saeed Mirza named Chairman of FTII Governing Council

Saeed Akhtar Mirza
Saeed Akhtar Mirza

Well-known filmmaker Saeed Mirza has been nominated as the President of the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) Society in Pune and the Chairman of its Governing Council.

An official press release issued here today that the Government had reconstituted the Society for a period of three years with effect from March 4, 2011 or until further orders, whichever is earlier.

The Government has nominated the following ex-officio members of the FTII Society. They shall remain members of the Society as long as they retain the office or status by virtue of which they became members of the Society:

(1) Joint Secretary (Films), Ministry of Information & Broadcasting (I&B) or his/her nominee not below the rank of Deputy Secretary, (2) Chief Executive Officer, Prasar Bharati or his/her nominee not below the rank of Deputy Director General, (3) Additional Secretary & Financial Adviser, Ministry of I&B or his/her nominee not below the rank of Deputy Secretary, (4) Chairman, Central Board of Film Certification 5) Managing Director, National Film Development Corporation, (6) Chief Producer, Films Division, Mumbai, (7) Director, National School of Drama, (8) Director, Indian Institute of Mass Communications, (9) Director, National Film Archive of India (NFAI), Pune, (10) Director, Film & Television Institute of India (FTII), Pune and (11) Director, Satyajit Ray Film & Television Institute (SRFTI), Kolkata.

In the category of "experts representing the activities of the Central Government", the Joint Secretary, Ministry of Culture, Ms Leela Samson, Chairperson, Sangeet Natak Akademi and Director General, Doordarshan have been nominated as members of the FTII Society.

In the category of "persons of eminence connected with Films and Television Education, Journalism, Literature, Fine Arts, Dramatics, Performing Arts, etc.", the Government has nominated as members santoor maestro Shiv Kumar Sharma, playwright and theatre director Ratan Thiyyam, television journalist Shazi Zaman, documentary filmmaker Rajiv Mehrotra, actress Rama Vij, photographer Benoy K Behl and academic Kiran Seth.

Actors Zareena Wahab and Raza Murad, filmmaker Rajkumar Hirani and Subhash Chandra Sahoo have been nominated as members of the Society from amongst FTII alumni.


Vice President Ansari releases book on Ustad Bismillah Khan

Vice-President M Hamid Ansari released a book titled "Bismillah Khan: The Maestro from Benaras" based on the life of the late shehnai wizard Ustad Bismillah Khan authored by Ms Juhi Sinha here today.

The book was released at a function organised to mark the birth anniversary of the music legend.

Mr Ansari noted that the book focused on three aspects, the life of Ustad Bismillah Khan, the city of Benaras and the cultural roots of Benaras.

He said such works were very much needed and music lovers would learn a lot from the book.

The book provides an insightful look into the home and heart, muse and music of one of the greatest artistes India has produced and who had been honoured by the Government with the Bharat Ratna, the nation's highest honour.

It traces his journey from the small town of Dumraon to Benaras and thence to the world. It follows him as he grows from child to man, shagird to ustad and pupil to legend. It lovingly potrays the whims and foibles of Bismillah Khan – an artiste whose stature as a musical legend could never quite overshadow the wit, humour and charishma of the man.


Entries invited for 58thNational Film Awards for 2010

The Directorate of Film Festivals (DFF) has invited entries for the 58th National Film Awards for 2010 which will be presented in three sections - feature films, non-feature films and best writing on cinema.

The process was set in motion with the issuance of the notification to this effect, along with the detailed regulations, which can be seen on the DFF's website.

The DFF is a media unit under the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India.

The Natioal Film Awards are aimed at encouraging the production of films of aesthetic and technical excellence and social relevance contributing to the understanding and appreciation of cultures of different regions of the country in cinematic form, thereby also promoting integration and unity of the nation.

In case of Feature films there are 30 different awards which include: Best Feature Film, Indira Gandhi Award for Best Debut Film of a Director, Award for Best Popular Film Providing Wholesome Entertainment, Nargis Dutt Award for Best Feature Film on National Integration and awards for films in regional languages.

Non Feature Films carry 22 different awards which include: Best Non-feature film, Best Debut Non-feature film of a Director, Best Anthropological/Ethnographic Film and Best Biographical/Historical Reconstruction/compilation film

Only films certified by Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) are eligible for entry in these awards. In addition, there is also a National Award for Best Writing on Cinema which consists of two different awards – Best Book on Cinema and Best Critic.

The deadline for submission of entries is April 7, 2011. There will be a two tier system - a Regional Jury and Central Jury - for making selection for the various categories of awards.

The Government also gives Indian cinema’s highest honour, the Dadasaheb Phalke Award, to a film personality for his/her outstanding contribution to the growth and development of Indian cinema.


Indian Ocean stages performance in Delhi to salute power of women

Indian Ocean performs at Main Shakti Hoon, Dilli Haat
Indian Ocean performs at Main Shakti Hoon, Dilli Haat

Popular fusion band Indian Ocean staged a rocking, inspirational and rousing performance at Dilli Haat here last night as part of the two-day International Women's Day celebrations organised by humanitarian organisation CARE India.

Apart from well-known numbers from its albums such as 16/330 Khajoor Road and their folk songs and ballads, which brought thousands of people in the audience to their feet, the band also staged a special tribute to Indian women.

This they did by rephrasing a part of their favourite number "Hille Le" to send the message that women can move the world.

The band members – Sumit Sen, Rahul Ram and Amit Kilan -- led the crowd to applaud the women power, as their three instruments – guitar, drums and table – melted into the soul-stirring fusion magic they are famous for.

CARE India, which has been fighting poverty by empowering women and girls, had organised the extravaganza titled "Main Shakti Hoon" on March 5 and 6 to commemorate the 100th International Women’s Day and the 60 years of its activities in India.

A slew of colour programmes like Rajasthani music and dance, exciting interactive games, photo exhibition titled Expression of Equality to highlight the changing facets of women, Dance with Mom competition, unique photo sessions and a street play by the group Asmita added tempo to the celebrations, as thousands of womenfolk tuned in to be part of it.

Television celebrity Joyshri Arora was among the number of well-known women leaders and personalities who showed up to express solidarity with the women of India. Several women achievers who made a difference to their lives and the society with the help of CARE projects were also present.


Bollywood stars begin voting for 12th IIFA Awards

Voting has begun for the 12th International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) awards here today.

Casting the first votes were director Karan Johar and actress Kareena Kapoor, who were followed by Anil Kapoor and hosts for the upcoming awards Boman Irani and Riteish Deshmukh.

Also casting their votes on day one were Arjun Rampal, Sonu Sood, Ramesh Sippy, Manmohan Shetty, J P Dutta, Yash Chopra and members of the film fraternity and public. Voting will take place over the weekend from today till March 6.

The 12th IIFA Weekend and Awards are slated to be held at Toronto, Canada, from June 23-25. The event will also showcase the works of Raj Kapoor.

"I believe the IIFA is getting better every year. This year’s IIFA will bring us to the north American market, a huge market for cinema. The awards have also strengthened the Indian film industry and made us like a family fraternity again," Johar told mediapersons here this morning.

The IIFA Awards and Bollywood films in general too are gaining in popularity among audiences beyond the sub-continent. Tickets for the Toronto IIFA were reportedly sold out in 30 minutes.

"There is a demand and craze for IIFA that we have never experienced. A lot of hard work has gone into making it a success, including creating the sets to planning the logistics to carry 600-700 people to foreign shores, and there is always a payback - we can expect it to be the best ever," Anil Kapoor said.

The votes for the awards will be tallied by top consultancy firm PriceWaterHouse Coopers (PWC), with popular categories open for global audiences to cast their votes.

"The IIFA Award is one that has not been rigged. It's not a case of only the ‘winners’ attending the event. I have given the IIFAs a miss in the past, and I still won ‘Best Actor’ and ‘Best Supporting Actor’ awards. It’s an important event to network with global players and Indian films are getting a lot of acceptance," Kapoor said.


Antiquities imported for display in private galleries exempted from customs duties

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee today extended the exemption from customs duties given to works of art and antiquities to imports for exhibition or display in private art galleries or similar premises that are open to the general public.

Presenting the Union Budget for 2011-12 in the Lok Sabha, Mr Mukherjee said the Department of Culture would notify details of the scheme separately. At present, works of art and antiquities are exempt from customs duties when imported for exhibition in a public museum or national institution. 

Mr Mukherjee noted that, in recent years, many organisations had joined the cause of promoting and popularising both traditional and contemporary art.

He said some of them had been active in locating heritage works of Indian art and antiquities in foreign countries and bringing them back home.

"To encourage such initiatives, I propose to expand the scope of this exemption for works of art and antiquities to also apply to imports for exhibition or display, in private art galleries or similar premises that are open to the general public," he said.


India, Austria to set up second village museum at Mannanam in Kerala

Film director Shaji N Karun and National Museum Institute Vice-Chancellor C V Ananda Bose inaugurating an exhibition of photographs about the cultural heritage of Nako village in the Western Himalayas, at the National Museum, New Delhi, on February 19, 2011.
Film director Shaji N Karun and National Museum Institute Vice-Chancellor C V Ananda Bose inaugurating an exhibition of photographs about the cultural heritage of Nako village in the Western Himalayas, at the National Museum, New Delhi, on February 19, 2011.

The National Museum Institute (NMI) here and the Austrian Cultural Forum will jointly develop a "village museum" at Mannanam in Kottayam district of Kerala as part of an ongoing collaboration programme and on the lines of a similar museum set up by them at Nako in the Western Himalayas.

This was disclosed by National Museum Institute (NMI) Vice-Chancellor C V Ananda Bose, after jointly inaugurating a photo exhibition on Nako, along with renowned film maker Shaji N Karun, here on Saturday evening.

Dr Bose, who is also the Administrator of the National Museum, said India and Austria would sign another memorandum of understanding to identify further areas for collaborative research and cultural relationship.

Mannanam has been identified as the place for the next village museum putting together the cultural contributions, practices, and artefacts of this culturally-rich village.

As part of the continuing collaboration, the NMI and the Austrian Cultural Forum held a two-day round-table conference, attended by experts from both the sides. Apart from this, national award winning director Shaji also released a book "Heritage Conservation and Research in Indi- 60 Years of Indo-Austrian Collaboration," edited by Gabriela Krist and Tatjana Bayerová.

The exhibition "Nako-the Living Cultural Heritage in Western Himalayas", compiling photos taken by Stefen Olah who is teaching photography in the University of Applied Arts, Vienna, Austria, was jointly opened by Shaji and Dr. Bose. It will be open till March 20.

At the round-table, both sides agreed to continue the cultural cooperation by promoting common research in topics like museology, doctoral studies in museums, the documentation of (traditional) knowledge, and displaying the process instead of results. Both the sides will identify working groups to take the collaboration further.

The Nako Project, situated in Himachal Pradesh and just 7 km from the Chinese Tibetan border, included the establishment of a village museum by the Institute of Conservation, University of Applied Arts in Vienna, Austria, in close cooperation with the National Research Laboratory for the Conservation of Cultural Property Lucknow (NRLC), the Nako Buddhist Society and the Nako Youth Club, whose members are also responsible for the maintenance of the museum.

The museum was inaugurated by His Holiness the Dalai Lama during his visit to Nako in 2007.

A museum collection was put together, mostly consisting of contributions by the villagers. The Institute of Conservation provided training in collection care (inventory, conservation, display) and exhibition practices to the village and lama community as well as the members of the Nako Youth Club.

The Village Museum includes traditional artefacts used in the remote hill area of Nako, such as characteristic, beautiful woolen dresses, shawls and shoes, typical dishes and household items, and thangka paintings.


Bryan Adams concert in Delhi put off; organisers working on new venue

The concert of Canadian rock star Bryan Adams to be held in Delhi today has been rescheduled since overwhelming public response for the show made the venue unsafe, the organisers of the show, Netsurf Entertainment said today.

In a statement issued here, the organisers said they were working towards finalising an alternative venue and date for the rescheduled concert.

"The organisers are working towards finalising an alternate venue and date to re-schedule the Bryan Adams concert in New Delhi since public safety is a priority," Netsurf Entertainment said.

On the reasons for cancellation of today's concert, they said, "The unexpected rains coupled with the overwhelming public response for the show, has made the venue unsafe. However, Bryan Adams is keen to perform in New Delhi and not disappoint his fans."

They said the details of the new venue, date and time would be available later this evening.

"For customers who have booked tickets online and through retail outlets, please do not go to the NSIC venue to pick up your tickets," the organisers said.

All those who wished to cancel their tickets would be given full refund, they added.

"Should customers choose not to attend the rescheduled concert, their ticket purchases will be refunded. The process of ticket exchanges/ refunds will also be announced soon," the statement said.

The concert was scheduled to take place at the NSIC grounds in Okhla tonight but had to be postponed as the Delhi Police did not give the mandatory No Objection Certificate (NOC) on security grounds.

The Delhi Police also noted that the place chosen to organise the concert was not suitable for this kind of a programme as far as law and order and parking facilities were concerned.

In addition, bad weather was also considered a reason for postponing it.

Adams has a large fan following in India and attracted huge crowds at his concerts in Pune and Mumbai. He is currently on a five-city tour of India.


Bryan Adams' concert in Delhi postponed due to security reasons

The much-awaited concert of Canadian rock star Bryan Adams to be held in Delhi has been cancelled for the time being for failure to get the mandatory clearances from the Delhi Police.

Police sources said the concert, scheduled to take place at the NSIC grounds in Okhla tonight, had been postponed for now with no new date decided yet.

Sources said the Delhi Police did not give the mandatory No Objection Certificate (NOC) on security grounds and noted that the place chosen to organise the concert was not suitable for this kind of a programme as far as law and order and parking facilitie were concerned.

In addition, bad weather was also considered a reason for postponing it.

Bryan Adams has a large fan following in India and attracted huge crowds at his concerts in Pune and Mumbai. He is currently on a five-city tour of India.


Stamps released on six legendary Indian actresses

Minister of State for Communications Gurdas Kamat releasing the commemorative postage stamps on legendary actresses of India, in New Delhi on February 13, 2011.
Minister of State for Communications Gurdas Kamat releasing the commemorative postage stamps on legendary actresses of India, in New Delhi on February 13, 2011.

Minister of State for Communications Gurudas Kamat released a set of six stamps on legendary actresses of Indian cinema - Kanan Devi, Devika Rani, Savitri, Meena Kumari, Leela Naidu and Nutan here last evening.

Two renowned stars of yesteryears, Asha Parekh and Vyjanthimala Bali were amongst those who attended the function. Also present were Mr Tajdar Amrohi, a member of the late Meena Kumari's family, and members of Savitri's family.

Devika Rani was the star and late manager of Bombay Talkies, from where she dominated the first decade of the Indian sound film and set the standard for the post-1950 Hindi film heroine. Daughter of Col. Choudhury, surgeon of Madras, and grand-niece of Rabindranath Tagore, she studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts and the Royal Academy of Music (London) and also held a degree in architecture and was a successful designer of Paisley textiles.

She married Himanshu Rai in 1929. Her first film, produced by Rai and directed by Osten, was as costume designer (and probably as an extra) for "Prapanch Pash" (1929). In Germany where the film was edited, Rani was able to see Fritzlang, G.W. Pabst and Sternberg at work and assisted Marlene Dietrich on the sets of "Deblau Engel" (1930). She also worked briefly with Max Reinhardt.

One of the early BBC broadcasts to India featured a Devika Rani recital (15th May 1933).When European co-production, especially with Germany, became difficult after 1933, the couple returned to India. She starred in Rai’s first sound film "Karma", made in English and sold as "the first Indian Talkie with English dialogue".

The couple started Bombay Talkies in 1934. In "Achhut Kanya", her arched eyebrows, beads and the vaguely Rajasthani-style,knee-length dress defined the "village belle" for Hindi cinema.

She and Ashok Kumar remained the studio’s stars until Rai died (1940) and she took over its management until she retired in1945. She later married the Russian émigré painter Svetoslav Roerich.

Kanan Devi, actress and singer, started with the name Kananbala. Debuting as child actress in Joydev, she worked under contract with Radha Films where she acted in Jyotish Bannerjee Films. P.C. Barua was unable to obtain her for his role of Paro in Devdas (1935) but she played the lead in his next film, Mukti, which made her a star and launched her long association with New Theatres.

The success of Bidyapati, and her duets with K.C.Dey, made her the top star of this studio (1937-40). An untrained singer when she entered films, she later studied briefly with Ustad Allah Rakha at Lucknow. She was employed as singer at Megaphone Gramophone and received further training from Bhishmaadev Chatterjee, who was possibly responsible for her distinctive Bengali style. She later learnt Rabindra Sangeet with Anadi Dastidar. She considered Rai Chand Boral to be her real teacher.

One of the few New Theatres lead players not to have a stage background, her impact on Bengali film paralleled Shanta Apte’s on Marathi cinema. Her singing style, usually in rapid tempo, is still identified with some of the biggest studio era hits (especially Binyapati, Street Singer, Sapurey). She resigned from New Theatres,(1941) and freelanced in Bengali and Hindi films. She turned producer with Shrimati Pics (1949) and later launched the Sabhyasachi collective with the film Ananya.. She wrote an autobiography Sabare Ami Nomi (1973).

Meena Kumari was born in Bombay, one of the daughters of the Parsee theatre actor, singer and music teacher Ali Bux and dancer Iqbal Begum, Having hit upon hard times and living near the Rooptara Studios, Ali Bux sought to get his three daughters into films. The middle daughter, Mahajabeen, was hired aged 6, renamed Baby Meena and cast by Vijay Bhatt in Leatherface. Later for Bhatt’s big musical Baiju Bawra she was named Meena Kumari .

She acted in mythologicals by Homi Wadia and Nanabhai Bhatt. Best known in the 50s for comedies (Miss Mary) and socials (Parineeta), she gave a stellar performance in Do Bigha Zameen. Her main persona was constructed through movies like Kamal Amrohi’s Daera, Bimal Roy’s Yahudi and Guru Dutt’s Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam, culminating in her most famous film, Pakeezah. She married Amrohi, who directed some of her best work. The couple eventually completed the film they jointly conceived, Pakeezah, in 1971 just before her death. She wrote Urdu poetry using the pen-name Naaz, a collection of which , Tanha Chand ( The Solitary Moon), compiled by Gulzar, was published after her death and some of it was sung by her.

Nutan, top Hindi star of the 1960s, was introduced to films by her mother, Shobhana Samarth, in Hamari Beti. Her screen image was moulded by Bimal Roy (Sujata, Bandini) and by those who continued in the Roy tradition: Hrishikesh Mukherjee (Anari), Bimal Dutt (Kasturi) and Sudhendu Roy (Saudagar). She was known for an equal flair at performing in both serious and light-hearted cinema, shifting with ease from Saraswati Chandra to Tere Ghar ke Samne, from roles with Kishore Kumar and Dev Anand to Ashok Kumar and Balraj Sahni.

She performed romantic roles with a forthy uninhibitedness such as the Filmistan musical Paying Guest and could enact character roles of her later years with equal dignity. She brought a stunning authenticity to her roles in films such as Sujata, Seema and Bandini.

Savithri, Telugu- Tamil actress and director, was born in Chirravuru, Guntur District, Andhra Pradesh, into a wealthy family. She learnt music and dance under Sista Purnayya Sastry and gave some public performances as a child in Vijayawada. After working in a theatre company run by N T Rama Rao and K.Jaggaiah, she started her own group the Navabharata Natya Mandali. She acted in a play Atma Vanchana by Buchi Babu. After her debut with L.V.Prasad’s Samaram , she followed with K.V.Reddy’s Patala Bhairavi, and minor film roles until Pelli Chesi Choodu made her a star and Ardhangi and Missamma established her acting credentials. She acted in several films by the choreographer-director Raghavaiah.

She often starred with Gemini Ganesan and later married him. As director and producer (1968-71) she did not achieve much commercial success but is remembered for her roles in mythological and family dramas.

Leelu Naidu was an actress who starred in a small number of Hindi and English films, including The Householder, Merchant Ivory Productions’ first film. Selected Femina Miss India in 1954, she was featured in Vogue along with Maharani Gayatri Devi in the list of the world’s Ten Most Beautiful Women and is remembered for her classical beauty and subtle acting style.

Leela Naidu was born in Mumbai to Dr. Pattipati Ramaiah Naidu, a well-known nuclear physicist from Andhra Pradesh, and Dr. Marthe Naidu, an Indologist of Swiss-French origin. Naidu made her film debut alongside Balraj Sahni in Anuradha in 1960 (directed by Hrishkesh Mukherjee) a film that went on to win the National Award for Best Film, and garnered Naidu critical acclaim. She played an offbeat role as an adulterous wife in Yeh Raaste Hain Pyar Ke (1963), dirceted by R.K.Nayyar.

Naidu made a guest appearance in the Merchant-Ivory film, The Guru(1969). She returned to cinema in 1985 to play a Goan matriarch in Shyam Benegal’s period film, Trikaal and made a last appearance in Electric Moon(1992), directed by Pradp Krishen. Leela Naidu died in Mumbai on 28 July 2009.


Kathakali performance by 150 dancers mesmerises Kerala

As many as 150 Kathakali dancers staged a rare performance here yesterday night, combining the well-defined "mudras" of the classical dance-drama with the time-tested "asanas" of meditation for the first time first time in the history of the art form.

'Kathakali' by 150 artistes have created a world record in a performance, invoking the classical dance-drama to interpret the powers of meditation to heal the mind, in Thiruvananthapuram on February 12, 2011. UNI PHOTO
'Kathakali' by 150 artistes have created a world record in a performance, invoking the classical dance-drama to interpret the powers of meditation to heal the mind, in Thiruvananthapuram on February 12, 2011. UNI PHOTO

The dancers who staged the event at the Putharikandam Maidan are also seeking an entry in the Guinness Book of World Records for their performance.

The captivating display was held in the presence of Art of Living (AOL) founder Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. The event, called ‘Natyavismayam’, was organised by the AOL Foundation as part of its attempt to promote Indian classical arts.

Choreographed and led by eminent Kathakali exponent Ettumanur Kannan, the dancers gave life to the subtle "asanas" and the devotional mood of AOL's meditation through classical "mudras" (gestures) and well-defined rhythmic movements.

The 150 artistes attired in colourful costumes of all the five classic "veshas" (make-up), namely "pachcha", "kaththi", "thaadi", "kari" and "minukku", moved in unison to create a rare experience for the art lovers present.

As many as 16 well-known Kathakali musicians, accompanied by percussion players on traditional instruments, added to the electrifying atmosphere.

The event’s organisers said observers from the Guinness Book of World Records were present on the occasion. The observers videographed the entire dance, they said hoping the event would soon get a place in the record books.

"It was an attempt to express the subtle nuances of ‘dhyana’ (meditation) through existing ‘mudras’ of Kathakali. It was an effort to interpret ‘dhyana’ as Art of Living is also basically a form of ‘dhyana’," according to team leader Ettumanur Kannan.

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar with the Kathakali artistes.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar with the Kathakali artistes.

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar honoured eminent Kathakali artistes Madavoor Vasudevan Nair, Nelliyodu Vasudevan Nampoothiri and Kalamandalam Gangadharan and chenda exponent Kalamandalam Raman Nampoothiri on the occasion.

He urged the people to dream of a slum-free and scam-free India and work towards this goal by taking a pledge against bribery. "Spirituality gives you a sense of belongingness, honesty, love,friendship. Thus the spiritual power eliminates corruption," he said.


Lata Mangeshkar to be first recipient of Swarbhaskar award

Melody queen Lata Mangeshkar will be the first recipient of the "Swarbhaskar Award", instituted in memory of renowned vocalist Pandit Bhimsen Joshi here on February 12.

Ms Mangeshkar will receive the award from well known classical dancer Sitara Devi.

The award includes cash of Rs 100,000, a trophy and a certificate, said city Mayor Mohansingh Rajpal at a press conference here today.

He said the award has been instituted by the Pune Municipal Corporation in memory of Pandit Joshi, who passed away here on January 24 this year at the age of 89. A three-day cultural festival will be organised annually, he added.

Sriniwas Joshi, son of Bhimsen Joshi, and other artistes will participate in the festival.


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