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.


Indian classics now at affordable prices

Classic books evoke images of dusty tomes stacked in forgotten corners of libraries to be avoided at all costs by today's generation, weaned on Facebook and Twitter.

Thus, publication of slim, abridged versions of 14 books, ranging from the Ramayana and Mahabharata to "Building a New India" by former President A P J Abdul Kalam, at an affordable Rs 99 each by Penguin India, may very well lead to a change in this viewpoint.

According to the publishers, the first of the Penguin Evergreens series has been conceived building on its founder Allen Lane's philosophy. "We believed in the existence of a vast reading public for intelligent books at a low price," he had stated.

The selection includes The Kitemaker by Ruskin Bond, the storyteller from the Mussoorie hills who appeals to children and adults alike. Noted Urdu writers Ismat Chugtai with her controversial The Quilt Stories and Sadat Hasan Manto with Toba Tek Singh Stories figure in it.

Hindi literary icon Munshi Premchand is there with The Shroud, tales of rural life, some of despair, others of hope.

Satyajit Ray has his ever popular Feluda about a master sleuth on the lines of Sherlock Holmes solving many a mystery. Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore is represented by Kabuliwallah Stories. Who can ever forget five-year-old girl Mini's friendship with the Kabuliwallah? R K Narayan has his Malgudi Days with Swamy and friends making merry and Khushwant Singh's The Mark of Vishnu.

My Experiments with Truth provides a rare insight into the making of the Mahatma. Rudyard Kipling's Jungle Book is also the one that cuts across the ages in its appeal with the antics of Mowgli and assorted characters. Valmiki Ramayana selection is The Book of Wilderness (Aranya Kanda). Mahabharata selection includes Draupadi's marriage. Vatsyayana's Kamasutra is also included in the list.

The publishers have also brought out book marks that declare "Writings that have stood the test of time" and a carrybag featuring the book covers of all the 14 volumes.


Mukherjee holds pre-budget consultations with film industry delegation

Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee met a delegation from the film industry who accompanied Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni here today as part of his pre-Budget consultations.

The delegation consisted of about 20 members, including Yash Chopra, Ramesh Sippy and Mukesh Bhatt, representing the Films and Producers Guild, Amit Mitra, Secretary General, FICCI, L. Suresh, Vice President, Film Federation of India, Anuradha Prasad, Chairperson, AROI, Rajeev Waghle, Group CFO, UTV, Subhashish Sarkar, CFO, Reliance Big Films, Ashish Kularni, CEO, Big Animation and Puneet Goenka, CEO, Zee Telefilms.

An official press release said the representatives of different forums of the film industry gave their suggestions for consideration and inclusion in the General Budget for 2011-12, expected to be presented to the Lok Sabha on February 28.


Abhishek says it always felt just right with Aishwarya

A still of Aishwarya Rai Bachchan from the February 2011 issue of Vogue India.
A still of Aishwarya Rai Bachchan from the February 2011 issue of Vogue India.

Actor Abhishek Bachchan has said that he does not remember the moment when he knew his actress-wife Aishwarya Rai Bachchan was the one, but it had always just felt right.

"If you ask her, she will tell you the same thing— that the minute we came together, we both knew that this was something for keeps. So, there wasn’t just this ‘one’ defining moment, it always felt perfect!" Abhishek was quoted as saying by Vogue India magazine in its February issue.

In an article carrying the views about Aishwarya by the men who know her best, Abhishek says that the first time he met his future wife was in August 1997.

"I was on a recce for my father’s film, Mrityudata, in Switzerland, and she was shooting for her first film, Aur Pya Ho Gaya, with my dear friend Bobby Deol.

"I remember one evening Bobby invited me over to his hotel for dinner and Aishwarya and the rest of the unit were there. That was the first time I actually met her, although I had obviously seen her before, since she was Miss World and all that. I don’t remember the moment when I knew she was the one, actually, which is weird, but it always just felt right," he said.

Film-maker Karan Johar talks in the article about how the actress turned him down for his first movie.

"We have a great relationship. We always put up our feet and laugh at each other or talk about fun stuff. We enjoy ‘intelligent analysis’ (which is my new phrase). I have known her for years and though we have never worked together, I know we will be fantastic together on celluloid as actor and director," he said.

"She does not just have beauty, but also drive. All sorts of criticism has come her way, but she has only worked harder—in films in Mumbai and down South, endorsements and appearances in India and abroad. She has made a huge brand of herself," he said.

Johar said that not many people knew that he had approached nine actresses for the part eventually played by Rani Mukherji in Kuch Kuch Hota Hai.

"All had detailed narrations; all said they loved it and would call me back. But of the nine, only Aishwarya called back and said she could not do it because her dates were given to Jeans. She had the grace to call back and have a detailed discussion, which was very encouraging for me as a first-time film-maker," he recalled.

Talking about his best friend of 20 years, Mumbai-based psychiatrist Zirak Marker said he and Aishwarya had been confidantes and best friends for more than half their lives.

"Her most special quality as a friend is her undying loyalty, which also comes from being a Scorpio. She is dedicated and committed to everything in her life, even to friendship. In spite of our lives going in such different directions and with our respective schedules, we always touch base on special occasions and, time permitting, we meet in Mumbai," he said.

He said that, like anyone else, they love eating, dancing and reminiscing about old times. "I have so many crazy stories from my medical school days that really crack her up. We share the same sense of humor and can laugh for hours on end. I think I am a great stress-buster for her. I have been there for her through her bad times and vice-versa. It is in those moments that you know who your true friends are," he added.


IAS officer Vipul Mittra publishes maiden work of fiction

Gujarat Tourism Secretary Vipul Mittra is out with his maiden book, "Pyramid of Virgin Dreams", portraying the humour in the life of an Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer.

"Due to my other commitments, I rarely used to get time to write it. However, the idea behind it and my want to complete it finally made it happen," Mittra said.

The book is a work of fiction published by Rupa and it presents a glimpse into the world of hierarchies, promotions, fawning subordinates and vacuous privileges that accompany growing status.

Mittra, who has also served as the Director, Tribal Development in the Gujarat Government, said his book is about the unfulfilled desires of a young person whose life keeps oscillating like a pendulum.

"Every chapter will make the reader realise how a youth's life, here an IAS officer, moves between dreams and reality, between the past and the present," he said.

Quizzed if the book is inspired by his personal experiences, Mittra asserts, "Yes, it does talk of my experiences. For instance, the children of the protagonist relates to those of mine. They behave in the same way."

"The only message the book passes on is that life can be lived happily even in serious situations. It all depends on ones perspective," he said.

Mittra said the book not only talks of the dreams of the protagonists, Kartikeya Kukreja of Punjab, but imposed ones, too. "As his father used to work under IAS officers, he built a dream to reach a level even higher than his father's bosses," he said.

He also mentioned his next project, another book. "I have an idea in my mind. It will have instances from my college life. However, it is much early to say anything about it," he said.

Referring to the cover of the book, consisting of clouds, with some carrying a bureaucrat's Ambassador cars with a red beacon and others showing hearts expressing the love factor, attached through strings, the book's editor Stuti Sharma said, "It signifies how Kartikeya tries to relate his professional dreams with his love dreams and attach them together."


Reliance BIG Home Video showcases Dabangg on YouTube India

Reliance Big Home Video, a part of the Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group (ADAG), has released the movie Dabangg on YouTube, the online video site.

The movie will be showcased on starting January 27, and will be available for free viewing to audiences in India, a press release from the company said.

Users will also be able to enjoy short clips from the movie like popular scenes, songs and other exciting footage from the making of the movie, it said

Produced by Arbaaz Khan’s Productions and directed by Abhinav Kashyap, Dabangg is the first Indian blockbuster to be released on YouTube in India on an advertisement supported model, the release said.

"The way consumers view content today is morphing and to keep pace with their expectations we are chaning our business models too. While we are market leaders in the DVD segment, we realize that the Internet is the new TV for the ever connected youth today," Ms Sweta Agnihotri, COO of BIG Home Video, said.

"Our vision is to make our content available to Indian consumers across any screen, any where and at any time of their choice. As a part of our digital foray, getting a blockbuster hit like Dabangg to YouTube viewers in India is a big step for us, in terms of experimenting with this novel distribution method. We look forward to a strong and ongoing partnership with YouTube India," he said.

According to Gautam Anand, Director Content Partnerships (Japan–Asia Pacific), Google, "We are very excited to partner with Big Pictures to bring the mega blockbuster ‘Dabangg’ on YouTube for free viewing in India. We have made tremendous progress in bringing long form premium content to our users in India from catch up TV to live streaming of mega sports event and now introducing mega blockbuster movies from Bollywood. This initiative marks a major shift in the way movies have been traditionally distributed and opens up a new business opportunity for movie producers and distributors alike."

Hindustan Unilever will be the exclusive sponsor for the movie on YouTube India. Commenting on this initiative, Srikanth Srinivasamadhavan, General Manager, Media Services, Hindustan Unilever said, "It is an exciting phase where Hindustan Unilever is looking at leveraging digital platforms and this is in line with our ambition to reach consumers through new platforms."

The channel will be only available to users in India and will be IP blocked in other markets of the world.


BIG Cinemas, Mudra Group present silent National Anthem

Big Cinemas and the Mudra Group, part of the Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group, have released a new national anthem video across its cinemas that has been shot in sign language and enacted by children with hearing/speech impairment on the occasion of Republic Day.

The anthem has been directed by Amit Sharma of Chrome Pictures based on the concept by Mudra Group, a press release from the company said here today.

"The National Anthem is played in theaters before every movie. Our idea was to use the anthem to make people do more than just stand and sing, but make them feel a little differently about their country and while driving home a strong message about unity in diversity," Bobby Pawar, Chief Creative Officer of Mudra Group, said.

"The idea is centered on the thought, 'Patriotism knows no language' and it is brought to life by hundreds of special kids singing the national anthem with their hands. The film is the first part of a programme to engage people, on ground and on line, in a dialogue about how we can free our nation from the prejudices that can divide us," he said.

Amit Sharma, the director, adds, "What appealed to me most was the challenge this idea posed at me as a film maker. It needed to be handled very sensitively without losing out on the impact. I went and met these kids and was really touched by the spirit they showed. So I decided not to use any actors but got these real special kids to do. Special thanks to all the teachers and the kid for their cooperation and their spirit with which they displayed!"

Commenting on the initiative, Mr. Anil Arjun, CEO of Reliance MediaWorks said, "This silent national anthem is an evocative and moving expression on patriotism and we hope that the Big Cinemas' patrons across India and world would be able to identify with this unique composition."


I was not separated from India and Indians: painter S H Raza

In a sentimental reference to India and Indians, including his mentor Darial Singh Rathore, renowned painter S H Raza, who has recently returned to India after a 60-year sojourn in France, said he never left India and the country has always remained in his mind, heart, thoughts and even in his work.

The 89-year-old artist enthralled the gathering during his inspiring and emotionally charged interactive session with renowned poet Ashok Bajpayee at the Jaipur Literature Festival here last evening.

To a question from the poet, Raza said, "You ask me why I returned to India? But the fact is I never never left India, I lived in Paris for 60 years but never separated myself from the motherland, I have retained my Indian nationality and passport."

"India, Hindi and Hindu religion always remained close to my heart. At times, in free moments at night, I used to introspect and ask myself: I got recognition, fame, money but where is India in my works? I am now in India to get answer to the question," Raza said.

Recalling his childhood and early school days, Raza said, "I was a bad student, not very bright in studies and examinations. There was a phase when, due to weak performance in class, I was directionless and uncertain about fate and future. At such a point of time, my teacher, Mr Darial Singh Rathore of Jaipur, showed me the path and gave a direction to my life and that was the turning point."

Born in Mandla district of Madhya Pradesh in 1922, Raza returned to India last month after living for 60 years in Paris. He is one of the most acclaimed artists of the world presently whose paintings fetch very prices.

Raza's advice to teachers is: "Pinpoint interest, taste, capabilities and weaknesses of your child, ward and student and then show him/her the path according to his/her capability, choice and interest."


Urdu is not Pakistani language: Javed Akhtar

Noted lyricist and script writer Javed Akhtar today held that Urdu did not belong to any community or caste but represented Hindustani culture and life.

The Bollywood personality, who was in the Pink City to attend the Jaipur Literature Festival (JLF) at the Diggi Palace here, spoke at length about Urdu language, literature, culture and said it did not belong to a particular caste or community.

"I want to dispel the impression prevailing in a section that Urdu is Pakistan’s language with clarification that the language has rich literature and work about Hindu religion, Purana(s), festivals, Hindu deities, Gods, Goddesses, Ram, Krishna, Radha and Ganga and moreover about Hindu culture, life and philosophy," he said.

Conceding the need and importance of English learning, the lyricist said, "English is essential but that should not take us away from our mother tongue, regional and national languages."

"It is true that English medium schools are making our children more competent but at the same time these institutions are taking us away from our mother language," he cautioned.


GoM finalises e-auction plan for FM Radio-Phase III

The Group of Ministers(GoM) on FM radio Phase-III has approved an e-auction model for award of over 700 private channels.

The format followed would be the one adopted for 3-G auction last year, sources in the Ministry said today.

The licence period for the radio stations is also understood to have been extended to 15 years from existing 10 years.

These decisions were taken by the GoM, headed by Finance Minister Pranab Kumar Mukherjee, at its meeting here yesterday.

The auction for Phase II of FM Radio had resulted in huge revenue for the Government.

When new licences are granted, the number of FM radio channels was expected to cross 1,000 as 245 channels are already operational. Moreover, All India Radio was getting ready to launch a total of 320 FM Radio stations.

As many as 216 cities and towns will get private FM radio for the first time in Phase III, which would cover mostly small cities and towns.

The private FM radio would be allowed to transmit news and current affairs programmes only as broadcast by AIR.


Big B no longer the brand ambassador of IIFA

File photo of Amitabh Bachchan addressing the media at the Idea IIFA awards press conference in June, 2009.
File photo of Amitabh Bachchan addressing the media at the Idea IIFA awards press conference in June, 2009.

Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan is no longer the brand ambassador of the International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) as the academy says goodbye to the very concept of brand ambassador.

Mr Bachchan, who was associated with IIFA for a decade, could not participate in the IIFA Weekend Sri Lanka event last year due to unexplained reasons. Following this, IIFA aborted the concept of brand ambassador, a statement issued by IIFA said.

"Keeping in mind the huge respect that Wizcraft and IIFA have for Mr Bachchan and the deep relationship that we’ve always shared, we are not having anyone replace Mr Bachchan.

"The Bachchan family has been an intrinsic part of IIFA every year, and in this regard we have already shared with them a proposal about their participation this year, too. Mr Bachchan’s reason for non-participation is best known to him. IIFA and Mr Bachchan are inseparable. We will continue to pursue his participation for this year, too," the statement added.


Book exhibition from the Fort William College Collection begins in Delhi

Ms Vijayalatha Reddy, Secretary (East), Ministry of External Affairs, inaugurating a book exhibition organised by the National Archives of India in collaboration with the Iran Culture House, in New Delhi on January 12, 2011.
Ms Vijayalatha Reddy, Secretary (East), Ministry of External Affairs, inaugurating a book exhibition organised by the National Archives of India in collaboration with the Iran Culture House, in New Delhi on January 12, 2011.

An exhibition of books in Persian, Arabic and English from the Fort William College Collection began here today under the auspices of the National Archives of India in collaboration with Iran Culture Centre.

The exhibition will be on display till January 19 at India International Centre Annexe here, an official press release said.

The College of Fort William was founded in 1800 by Marquess of Wellesley at Calcutta to commemorate the decisive British victory over Tipu Sultan at Seringapatam. The college was a centre of training and general education for the East India Company’s young civil servants, though it had provision for the admission of the junior military servants as well.

Under Regulations passed on 10 July 1800, the Governor-General was the patron and visitor of the college, and the members of the supreme council, Judges of the Sadr Diwani Adalat and the Sadr Nizamat Adalat were to be its governors. The provost of the college was always to be a clergyman of the Church of England. The first provost and the Vice-Provost were Rev. David Brown and Rev. Clauddis Buchanan repectively. Some of the first professors and Teachers of the college were: Professors Hindustani Lanugage: John Gilchrist, Laws and Regulations: George Hilaro Barlow, Greek, Latin and English: Rev. Clauddius Buchanan, Sanaskrit and Hindu Law: Henry Thomas Colebrooke, Persian Language and Literature : Neil Benjamin Edmonstone and Francis Gladwin, Arabic John Baillie, Teachers: Modern Europen Lanuages: Du Plessy, Sanskrit and Bengali Rev. William Carey, Tamil : Rev. J. Peozold, Hindustani :

In course of time, the college turned into an important place of Oriental Studies where both the British and Indian scholars worked together on a variety of philological researches to help modernise different Indian languages.

Since the court of Directors always regarded this institution as an expensive experiment, it suffered from financial strains, especially after Marquess of Wellesley returned to home in the early months of 1806. Inspite of this conflict between the administrative and scholarly interests, the college could manage to continue as an educational institution for about thirty years. It functioned as a centre of examinations for the Company’s civil servants for another two decades, until its final closure on 24 January 1854. Although, the college was closed but in the course of its short span of active existence, it did succeed in giving a new direction to the Civil Service, besides enlarging the scope for interaction between the Eastern and Western Cultures.

The rich and unique collection of manuscripts and books of Fort Wlliam College began to be dismembered soon after the cessation of the college as an educational institution. In the process of dispersal, the Asiatic Society of Bengal received most of the books and manuscripts belonging to the Oriental Section of the library and the remaining books and manuscripts were given away to the Imperial Library (National Library, Kolkata) and Imperial Record Department (National Archives of India, Delhi). This distribution took place sometime during the first quarter of the 20th century.

The part available in National Archives of India comprises 742 rare books and 199 manuscripts which are useful work on Religion, Language, Literature, History, Medicine, Animal Husbandry, Astrology, Travelogues, Geography, Biography and on some topics of general interest, an official press release added.


Reliance MediaWorks launches India’s largest Hollywood-benchmarked studios

Reliance Media Works Studios
Reliance Media Works Studios

Film and entertainment services company Reliance Mediaworks Ltd (RMW), a part of the Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group, today announced the launch of its studio operations.

A press release from the company said the RMW studios comprise eight sound stages spead across a 7-acre area within Filmcity in Mumbai with a total built-up area of 200,000 sq ft.

The studios will be a comprehensive resource for feature films, television, commercials, music videos, new media, gaming, special effects and special events, it said.

Built over a period of two years, the first phase of three sound stages has become operational from this month and the second phase comprising five sound stages will be operational by mid-2011.The RMW Studios' capacity equals to 25% of the Mumbai studio market, the release said.

According to it, the studios have been built as per strict Hollywood compliant design specifications by Wylie Carter & Associates, who are Studio Specialist Architects from Los Angeles and have worked with Walt Disney Studios, Raleigh Studios, and DreamWorks SKG's Playa Vista Studio.

They were supported by Los Angeles-based specialist consultants like Nadel Commercial Architects, John A. Martin Assoc. Structural Engineers, Levine & Seegel Mechanical Engineers and KSG Electrical Engineers.

Reliance Media Works Studios - Sound Stage
Reliance Media Works Studios - Sound Stage

The release said the RMW Studios were the first in India to have advanced technological features like super silent ‘"sync sound", 55 feet height, enormous "live load" bearing capacities and elephant doors which allow full truck access on to the stages. The fire safety and security measures at the studios are as per Los Angeles County Fire Department regulations, it said.

The studios are connected to an Optic Fiber network which links it with the Reliance

MediaWorks' film post-production facilities in Film City, animation unit in Pune, television commercial post and broadcast post facilities in Andheri and international offices in Los Angeles and London and hence offer tapeless solutions from "origination to post production to playout", the release said.

"The launch of RMW Studios is a natural extension of the film and media services we’re already providing in the entertainment space. There is a severe shortage of high quality infrastructure in Mumbai and this need gap becomes more acute every year with the constant increase in big budget film, broadcast and advertising commercial productions. These studios are a one-stop solution that blends infrastructure with technology, experience and aesthetics and a prominent step in a strategy to increase our footprint across the entire entertainment services value chain," Mr. Anil Arjun, CEO of Reliance MediaWorks, said.

Reliance Media Works Studios - Make up Room
Reliance Media Works Studios - Make up Room

Along with the studio infrastructure, RMW also offers end-to-end pre-production services like film cameras, multicam equipment, automated lights and LED walls for broadcast shows and events and expertise of a technically qualified team along with the equipments. It also has state-of-the-art post-production facilities for feature films, broadcast shows and television commercials, making it a one-stop solution for film makers, the release added.


PM announces Studio Theatre Scheme for Performing Arts Groups

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today announced a "Studio Theatre Scheme" under which the Ministry of Culture would provide generous support to theatre groups to set up functional spaces for both rehearsals and performances.

In a message on the occasion of the 13th Bharat Rang Mahotsav, the annual theatre festival organised by the National School of Drama (NSD) here, Dr Singh, who also holds the portfolio of Culture, said the resurrection of theatre activity urgently required such functional spaces.

"A year ago, I had spoken about the need for ‘Studio Theatre’ or small and more intimate performing spaces as a long felt need of the theater community," he recalled.

He said the Government had addressed this need with all seriousness and the scheme announced by him would give a much-needed helping hand to artistes and allow them to concentrate on creative expression.

An official press release said the scheme sought to address a long-felt need of creative groups engaged in the performing arts and followed several years of demands and discussions.

"Serious theatre, like serious cinema, thrives on the support of smaller but more appreciative audiences. Small, non-proscenium rehearsal-cum-performance spaces, which can accommodate 100 to 200 viewers, is what the contemporary theatre most requires," it said.

Under the scheme, with generous support from the Government, going upto 60 % of the project cost, performing arts groups will be helped to build their own "creative spaces". The grant from the Ministry of Culture can go upto Rs. 50 lakhs in metro cities and Rs. 25 lakhs in other places, if the groups contribute their share of 40% of the project cost.

The annual salary grants for the artistes and "gurus" in the performing arts have already been enhanced, and this Studio Theatre scheme, it is hoped, would help these groups attain substantial "economic independence", so that they are able to pursue their creative talents, without over-dependence on sponsors or the government, the release said.

The concept of smaller, experimental rehearsal spaces that will double up as performing spaces, being promoted and supported under this new Studio Theatre scheme, will facilitate theatre and other performing groups concentrate their energies on creativity rather than finding sponsors, help the performers draw better inspiration from more involved audiences, and, thus, benefit the cause of theatre, dance and music, it said.

Titled as the "Scheme of Building Grants, including Studio Theatres", the scheme replaces an existing scheme of the Ministry, which was known as the "Scheme of Building Grants to Cultural Organizations" and provided for construction of formal, conventional auditoria and concert halls, but offered no scope to promote such innovative, non-conventional creative spaces as Studio Theatres.

Besides, that scheme was plagued with several inherent operational problems and offered a limited assistance of upto Rs. 15 lakhs only.

Apart from highlighting the importance of supporting Studio Theatres, the scheme being introduced today makes many other improvements over the existing scheme.

The release said the scheme targets all kinds of cultural spaces for performing arts and specifically includes Studio Theatre as an innovative, cost-effective model of rehearsal-cum-performing spaces. The scheme will thus have two components. While one will cover the conventional performance spaces like concert halls, auditoria, and so on as in the existing scheme, the other will cover such non-conventional, experimental performance spaces as Studio Theatres.

While the existing ceiling of Rs. 15 lakhs on assistance for any particular project is being raised to Rs. 25 lakhs, it provides a higher cap of Rs. 50 lakhs for the projects that involve new construction or purchase of built up space in the cities of Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore and Hyderabad, in view of higher costs of space in the metro cities.

Subject to the ceiling of Rs. 25 lakhs or Rs. 50 lakhs, as the case may be, financial assistance from the Central Government will be upto 60% of the project cost (as against 50% in the existing scheme). Thus, the applicant organization’s matching share is being reduced from 50% to 40% of the project cost.

Under the existing scheme, grant is sanctioned for the construction of a building, but not for the purchase of a ready built space. Looking to the current scenario of urban development, especially in bigger cities, in the new scheme, it is proposed to allow purchase of built up space, as an alternative to the construction of a building.

The requirement of approval of building plans and cost estimates by an Executive Engineer of PWD has been done away with. Now cost estimates and building plans approved by any Registered Architect would be accepted.

Substantial procedural simplifications have been introduced in the new scheme. The list of documents required to be furnished by the applicants has also been reviewed and rationalized.

With the introduction of the concept of Studio Theatre, the focus of the revised scheme would shift from civil structure to the technicals like electricals, lights and sound, interiors, equipments, and so on. With this change in the focus of the eligible projects, the existing ceiling of Rs. 2.50 lakhs on the purchase of equipments has been dispensed with. Now there would be no cost sub-ceiling for the equipments.

The release said a Peer Group appraisal has been introduced for achieving a more realistic assessment of the project proposals. To ensure proper utilization of the funds, a physical inspection will be insisted upon before the release of final instalment.

The system of release of various instalments of the sanctioned grant has been suitably modified and the condition that the building must get completed even before the final instalment is released has been dispensed with.

Besides registered societies and trusts, not-for-profit companies will also be eligible for assistance under this scheme.


Tamil Nadu theatre owners to stall release of Vijay's new film

The Tamil Nadu Theatre Owners Association today announced that it would stall the release of popular actor Vijay's coming film "Kavalan" as well as his future releases.

A press release from the Association here said a resolution to this effect was adopted at their meeting.

Theatre owners across the state have suffered losses by screening Vijay's earlier film "Sura", it claimed.

The Association had urged the actor to compensate the losses they had suffered, on humanitarian grounds. But as the actor did not respond favourably,the Association decided on this course of action, the release added.


Cultural show "Chennai Sangamam" to be held from January 12-17

"Thamizh Maiyam", a non-governmental organisation that promotes indigenous culture, will hold its annual show, "Chennai Sangamam" here from January 12 to 17.

As in the past four years, the fifth edition of the show will be held during the traditional "Pongal" festival. This year, the organisers have also given space to children from slums, the differently abled and transgenders to exhibit their skills in traditional art forms.

Announcing the 2011 edition of this immensely popular celebration of Tamil heritage, Thamizh Maiyam founder Jegat Gaspar Raj and its convener and Rajya Sabha member K Kanimozhi said some "very meaningful" new components had been added this year.

To give it a cosmopolitan or pan-Indian image, artistes from neighbouring states like Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Karnataka, and Orissa would also be part of the show, they said.

They said the folk art forms of the state would get the predominant place again and the classical artistes would get the unique opportunity to connect with the afficionados at the venues.

More than a hundred poets, writers and speakers will also showcase the rich Tamil literature, lined up by "Tamil Nadu Iyal Isai Nadaga Mandram", they said.

This year the curtain would go up on the programmes at all venues simultaneously even as Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi presides over the grand inaugural function at the Island grounds with a spectacular show involving hundreds of folk and contemporary artistes.

Indigenous Tamil cuisines would also continue to be an important aspect of the event. A Tamil documentary festival was also being planned, they added.


Bollywood delegation meets Chavan to brief him about industry's woes

Representatives of cash-starved Bollywood, reeling under the impact of several big-budget movies flopping at the Box office, met Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan here last night and drew his attention to various problems confronting the film industry.

The delegation led by film-makers Mahesh Bhatt and Ramesh Sippy discussed with the Chief Minister various grievances, including the high entertainment tax in the state, harassment by political parties and high-handedness of police at the government-run Film City at Goregaon.

They also demanded that immediate steps be taken to review the Film City functioning, their spokesman told UNI today.

The delegation handed over a letter, signed by veteran producer Yash Chopra, Mr Sippy and Mr Bhatt, listing their grievances.

At the meeting, also attended by Industries Minister Narayan Rane, Mr Chavan assured the delegation that he would look into their grievances and said more discussions would be arranged to resolve issues affecting the industry.


Film producers call off proposed "bandh" on copyright issue

The Film Federation of India (FFI) today deferred their call for a proposed "bandh" in view of positive development on the issue of Copyright Amendment Bill following their meeting with Central Ministers in New Delhi.

The Bill is to be tabled in the Lok Sabha early next year.

Leaders of the FFI, Film and Television Producers Guild and producers from southern India had met leaders including Mr Ahmed Patel, political secretary to Congress President Sonia Gandhi, Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni and Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal in New Delhi yesterday.

Announcing the deferment of the strike, film-maker Mukesh Bhatt said the producers and distributors fraternity was ready to hold dialogue with the film industry’s composers and lyricists regarding royalties.

He said the government was also open to hearing both sides of the issue before taking any step.

"We have got a positive response from the government and an assurance that the matter will be decided on the basis of principles and not personality. We now need to engage authors and composers and work out a fair and practical solution without jeopardising any stakeholders," he said.

The advice to ban lyricist Javed Akhtar, who proposed changes in existing copyright laws, by FFI on December 27, will, however, still stand.

According to existing copyright laws, the sound recording rights remain exclusively with the producer who receives 50 per cent royalty as first owner of recording rights. The publishing rights account for 25 per cent, while performing rights account for another 25 per cent.

The amendment proposed by Akhtar calls for equal division of the performing rights between the lyricist and composer. The publishing rights remain with the producers.

Producers have strongly resisted the changes on the grounds that they are entitled to the copyrights, as they take the risks of the market. With heavy taxes, and the film industry on a decline with 95 per cent of films not recovering their costs, the producers are firm in their conviction to protect what they perceive is their turf.

The producers, however, added that their stand was not confrontational and that the call for the strike was to highlight their plight.

"What we will be focusing is on the law regarding lyricists, composers and producers. We have felt since last year that our rights will be taken away from us, and the government was taking steps without consulting us. We have now presented our case to the government. Talks are on with Javed Akhtar," producer Ramesh Sippy said.

The producers said that with the government receptive to their stand, a proposal was being formulated by lawyers, that would be soon presented. The proposal would also include heavy taxes imposed on the film industry pay, resulting in its decline.

"Making a film is like building a house and the producer is the owner. All those involved in building the house are paid accordingly. The house and everything inside remains with the owner," FFI President T P Agarwal said.


Air Force Brass and Jazz band enthralls people at India Gate in Delhi

Hundreds of people were treated to a performance by the 30-member Indian Air Force Brass and Jazz Band for the general public at India Gate in the capital.

The audience was greated to soulful tunes ranging from Mozart's Symphony No. 40 to "Ame Mere Watan Logon" and from "Havana" to "Waka Waka". The programme concluded with a rendition of "Vante Mataram".

An added bonus for those who turned up was a performance by the Air Warrior Drill TEam.

The first Air Force Band was raised in the year 1944 at the Royal Air Force Station, Kohat, in North Western Frontier Province. Today there are eight bands in the Indian Air Force.

Progressing from the delightful martial music, successive conductors of the bands enhanced the range of its repertoire to include arrangements of symphonies, overtures and concertos as well as other forms of contemporary music including the Indian classical. These bands have been performing at various ceremonies and official functions.

A member of the worldwide Military Music Society, the Air Force Band has performed in India as well as abroad in Thailand, Finland, France and Italy as well as at the Kuala Lumpur International Tattoo, ILA Berlin Air Show, the French National Day Celebration and recently on India’s Independence Day celebration in Dhaka, Bangladesh.


CBFC has not cut scenes in "No One Killed Jessica": Sharmila

File photo of Sharmila Tagore
File photo of Sharmila Tagore

Refuting claims that some scenes of the film "No One Killed Jessica", said to be based on the Jessica Lal murder case trial, were either beeped or deleted, Censor Board of Film Certification (CBFC)chairperson Sharmila Tagore has said the board has not cut even a single frame from the film.

Reacting to media reports, quoting the director of the film Dibakar Banerjee as saying that the CBFC had deleted a scene and beeped a word from the film, the CBFC chairperson told UNI, "These are all false reports. I don't know why Dibakar Banerjee, the director of 'No One Killed Jessica', is making this statement."

"The truth is, we have not cut even a single frame of 'No One Killed Jessica'. The deletions were made only for the television promos of the film as television guidelines do not allow certain visuals to be telecast. The media seemed to have confused this to mean that scenes from the film have been deleted," she said.

Media reports had quoted Banerjee as saying that the CBFC had deleted a scene and beeped a word from the film despite certifying it as "Adults only".

Blaming the filmmakers for announcing to the world that their films had been banned or censored whereas the reality was quite different, Ms Tagore said that ever since she took over as the chairperson of the Board, she had made efforts to make it more proactive.

"A lot of times, we have allowed scenes from films to be retained if we feel that deleting them would infringe on the creative freedom of the filmmaker. And, in a majority of the cases, I have received the support from the Ministry," she said.

In this context, she again cited the example of "No One Killed Jessica", in which a shot of Rani Mukherjee smoking was retained despite the guidelines of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in this regard.

"It was just a single shot. We felt that the smoking scene was necessary as it helped differentiate between Rani Mukherjee's character and that played by Vidya Balan. It brings out the innocence of the character of Sabrina (played by Vidya Balan)," the CBFC chairperson said.

A scene from No One Killed Jessica
A scene from No One Killed Jessica

She also termed as "untrue" claims that Ashvin Kumar's documentary on Kashmir "Inshallah Football" had been banned by the CBFC.

"It is true that examining committee of the Board refused a certificate to the film in national interest. The review committee in Mumbai, which saw the documentary after the examining committee, also was in favour of refusing a certificate for the film. However, the CBFC officer in-charge present at the screening felt that there was nothing wrong with the film and that it should be seen by another Revising Committee. So, I have set up another Revising Committee for the film," she said.

On the Ashwin Kumar stating on Facebook that the film had been banned, Ms Tagore said, "It is not true. Any decision on the film will be taken only after the second Revising Committee watches the film. In fact, there is an opinion that if films like 'Lamha' (based on the situation in Kashmir), 'Parzania' (based on the Gujarat riots) and 'Black Friday' (based on Mumbai bomb blasts) can be passed then 'Inshallah Football' should also be cleared."

On the controversy surrounding another film by Ashvin Kumar called "Dazed in Doom", Ms Tagore said the Board had cleared it subject to the condition that the filmmaker submit an affidavit that he is the "sole owner of the property."

She said Doon school, which commissioned the film for its 75th anniversary, was in dispute with Mr Kumar over the final version.

She said the headmaster had recently written to the Information and Broadcasting Secretary asserting that Doon school was the co-producer of the film.

While admitting that the acceptability norms for films needed to be revised from time to time keeping in view changing audience tastes and preferences, Ms Tagore said there had been a commensurate change in the guidelines of the Board with passing time.

"We realise that what was unacceptable, say, a decade or two ago, may be acceptable today and have made commensurate changes in our criteria for revising the films. At the same time, I would say that a lot of vulgar and obscene stuff that is made today in the name of creativity comes to us. Ultimately, we have to ensure that what is exhibited is in good taste," she said.

She said she had been forced to issue clarifications to the media after unjustifiable statements by filmmakers and producers of their so called victimisation by the Board.

"I want to say that we at the Board are cognisant of our responsibilities. I have had several decades of experiences in cinema. I have, as far as, possible tried to ensure a just and fair certification of the films coming to us," Ms Tagore said.

A scene from No One Killed Jessica
A scene from No One Killed Jessica

"After all this, I am pained to witness such unwarranted criticism of the Board and its officials. As members of the Board, we are following the guidelines laid down for the certification while lending our own sensibilities to ensure no injustice has been done to anyone. Barring some margin of error, I feel the Board has been quite fair in its approach. And, I am the first one to admit it when we make a mistake," she said.

In this context, she says that in hindsight, she now felt giving a UA certificate to "Ghajini" was a mistake.

"I was the first one to admit, despite being warned against it by friends and well wishers that we made a mistake in not granting an 'Adults Only' certificate to 'Ghajini'. Many other filmakers which came to the board with their films after 'Ghajini' expected that having granted 'UA' certificate to 'Ghajini', their films would also be granted the same treatment. However, having made a mistake once does not mean we make a mistake again," she added.


Uday Prakash, M P Veerendra Kumar among Sahitya Akademi Award winners

Eminent journalist Uday Prakash and writer-cum-politician M P Veerendra Kumar have been selected for the Sahitya Akademi Awards 2010 along with 20 other writers.

In all, eight books of poetry, three of short stories, four of criticism, a novel, a travelogue, an autobiography, a play and four novels have won the award this year in 22 Indian languages, a statement issued by the Akademi said yesterday.

While Janata Dal (Secular) leader Veerendra Kumar's travelogue "Haimavathabhuvil" has been chosen in Malayalam, well-known Hindi writer and journalist Uday Prakash has won the award for his collection of short stories "Mohan Das".

The poets honoured with the award are Aurobindi Uzir (Bodo), Arun Sakhardande (Konkani), Gopi Narayan Pradhan (Nepali), Vanita (Punjabi), Mangat Badal (Rajasthani), Mithila Prasad Tripathi (Sanskrit), Laxman Dubey (Sindhi) and Sheen Kaaf Nizam (Urdu).

Others who have won for short stories include Manoj (Dogri) and Nanjil Nadan (Tamil).

Keshada Mahanta (Assamese), Rahmath Tarikere (Kannada), Basher Bashir (Kashmiri) and Ashok R Kelkar (Marathi) have got the award for their books in the criticism genre.

An autobiography and play have been selected in Oriya and Santali language category respectively. Awards in Maithili and Telugu language would be declared later.

The award in the form of a casket containing an engraved copper plaque, a shawl and a cheque of Rs 1,00,000 will be presented to the authors at a function to be held on February 15 during the Festival of Letters.


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