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Entertainment

NDTV and Astro sign deal for lifetyle channels

NDTV logo.
NDTV logo.

New Delhi Television Limited (NDTV) today said it had reached a definitive agreement with a subsidiary of Astro All Asia Networks plc to create a strategic alliance for lifestyle television channels in India.

In a filing to the Bombay Stock Exchange, NDTV said that, as per the proposed transaction, South Asia Creative Assets Limited, which is a subsidiary of Astro All Asia Networks, will acquire a 49 per cent stake in NDTV Lifestyle Holdings Private Limited (NLHPL), the proposed holding company for NDTV Lifestyle Limited, the lifestyle subsidiary of NDTV.

The stake will be acquired in two tranches by way of subscription of $ 40 million, the company said.

The balance 51 per cent stake in the joint venture will be held by NDTV.

NDTV Lifestyle operates NDTV Good Times, an English-language lifestyle television channel.

The transaction is subject to receiving all requisite regulatory approvals, the filing said.

According to it, in addition to operating NDTV Good Times, NDTV and Astro may also engage in non-material diversification into complementary lines related to the lifestyle segment through the joint venture company.

Astro is an integrated cross media group, with presence in Malaysia, India, the Middle East and other regional and international markets, primarily engaged in the provision of direct-to-home subscription television services, radio services, film library licensing, multi-media interactive services, and television content creation, aggregation and distribution, Astro also has investments in pay television and radio broadcasting in India, the filing added.

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Cabinet okays revival plan for NFDC

The Union Cabinet today approved a revival plan for the public sector National Film Development Corporation (NFDC) that is aimed at enabling it to fulfil its mandate of promoting the growth of Indian cinema.


An official press release said that, under the plan, an additional equity of Rs. 3 crore will be infused and the outstanding Government loan of Rs. 19.77 crore, along with accumulated interest of Rs. 8.63 crore on it, will be converted into equity.

The fresh infusion of equity of Rs. 3 crore along with internal accruals/recovery of outstanding dues of Rs. 2.95 crore will be used by the Corporation to finance its computer hardware and software, establish an Art House Digital Exhibition Network and renovate/upgrade its properties.

The conversion of loans and interest outstanding thereon into equity will rid the Corporation of the heavy interest burden and liability to repay the loan. It will further help it in cleaning up its balance sheet and start afresh, the release said.


The release said the net worth of the Corporation would turn positive and its paid-up and authorized capital would increase to Rs. 45.40 crore and Rs. 45.39 crore, respectively.


The NFDC is expected to commence making profits from 2010-11 onwards, the release said.


NFDC was set up in 1975 to plan, promote and organize an integrated and efficient development of the film industry of the country in accordance with the economic policy and objectives laid down by the Central Government from time to time.


Accordingly, it has funded or produced more than 300 films in 18 Indian languages and played a significant role in promoting new talent within the film industry and the growth of Indian cinema.


Once a profit-making company, it started incurring losses after 2002-03 with the entry of private television channels that led to splitting of advertisement revenue from Doordarshan, which was a major source of its income. Also a substantial part of its advertisement revenue was litigated and remained un-recovered.


As a result, the paid-up capital of the Corporation got eroded and it landed in a financial crisis with its net worth dipping to negative.


The Corporation had lo keep its operations afloat with a working capital loan of Rs.19.77 crore provided by the Government. However, since the performance of the Corporation did not improve, a revival plan was prepared with the assistance of the SBI Capital Markets, which contemplates redefining of the business profile of NFDC, infusion of fresh equity and conversion of the Government loan into equity.


The revival plan was examined by the Board for Reconstruction of Public Sector Enterprises (BRPSE) and it made various recommendations for revival of NFDC, the release added.


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Malayalam movie Kuttysrank wins National Award for Best Film, Bachchan is Best Actor

Actor Mammootty in a still from the film Kuttysrank which was chosen the Best Film in the National Film Awards.
Actor Mammootty in a still from the film Kuttysrank which was chosen the Best Film in the National Film Awards.

Malayalam movie Kuttysrank, directed by Shaji N Karun and starring superstar Mammootty in the lead role, was today chosen for the Best Feature Film Award in the National Film Awards for 2009, while megastar Amitabh Bachchan won the Best Actor Award for Paa in Hindi.

Bacchan played the role of a boy suffering from progeria, a rare congenital abnormality characterised by premature and rapid aging in the highly acclaimed film.

Ananya Chatterjee got the Best Actress Award for Abohoman (Bengali) while it also won for Rituparno Ghosh the Best Direction Award.

Kuttysrank is the first film in Malayalam to be produced by Reliance Entertainment under its banner of Big Motion Pictures. Kuttysrank, which means a boat captain in Malayalam, tells the story of a mariner who operates a cargo vessel between the port towns of Kerala. It is told from the perspectives of three women after the death of the protagonist, who each experience a different Kuttysrank.

The awards in the Feature Films and Non-Feature Films categories were announced by the chairmen of the respective juries, Mr Ramesh Sippy and Mr Mike Pandey. The awards for Best Writing on Cinema were decided by a panel headed by Mr Samik Bandhopadhyay.

The selection process for the awards returned to a two-tier system this year, with five regional juries also seeing the films.

Ms Sushma Seth headed the jury for the Northern Region, Mr M S Sathyu, Western Region, Mr T S Nagabharna, South-I Region, Mr B Lenin, Eastern Regon, and Mr Pinaki Choudhury, South-II Region.

The Indira Gandhi Award for Best Debut Film of a Director went to Lahore (Hindi) directed by Sanjay Puran Singh Chauhan and produced by Vivek Khatkar.

Bollywood blockbuster 3 Idiots, starring Aamir Khan, got the award for Best Popular Film Providing Wholesome Entertainment.

The Nargis Dutt Award for Best Feature Film on National Integration was given to Delhi 6 produced and directed by Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra.

Another Hindi film, Well Done Abba, produced by Reliance Big Pictures and directed by Shyam Benegal, was chosen the Best Film on Social Issues.

Amitabh Bachchan in the movie 'Paa' which won him the Best Actor Award in the National Film Awards.
Amitabh Bachchan in the movie 'Paa' which won him the Best Actor Award in the National Film Awards.

Putaani Party in Kannada and Keshu in Malayalam were chosen for the Best Children's Film Award. Both were produced by the Children's Film Society of India. Putaani Party was directed by Ramchandra P N and Keshu by Sivan.

Farooque Shaikh was chosen the Best Supporting Actor for Lahore and Arundhati Naag the Best Supporting Actress for Paa.

Rupam Islam got the Best Male Playback Singer Award for Mahanagar@Kolkata (Bengali) and Neelanjana Sarkar the Best Female Playback Singer Award for Houseful, another Bengali film.

Cameraperson Anjuli Shukla won the Best Cinematography Award for Kuttysrank.

The following are the other awards announced today:

Best Screenplay: Kuttysrank, Screenplaywriter original: P F Mathews and Harikrishna

: Kanasemba Kudureyaneri (Kannada): Screenplay writer (adapted)

: Pasanga (Tamil): Dialogues: Pandiraj

Best Audiography: Kaminey (Hindi): Location Sound Recordist: Subash Sahoo

: Kerala Varma Pazassi Raja (Malayalam): Sound Desinger: Resool Pookutty

: 3 Idiots: Re-recordist of the final mixed track: Anup Dev

Best Editing: Abohomaan, Arghyakamal Mitra

Best Production Design: Delhi 6, Samir Chanda

A still from the movie '3 Idiots' which was chosen the Best Popular Film providing Entertainment in the National Film Awards.
A still from the movie '3 Idiots' which was chosen the Best Popular Film providing Entertainment in the National Film Awards.

Best Costume Designer: Kuttysrank, Jayakumar

Best Make-up Artist: Paa, Christein Tinsley and Dominie Till

Best Music Direction: Dev D (Hindi): Music Director (Songs): Amit Trivedi

: Kerala Varma Pazhassi Raja, Music Director (Background Score):

Ilayaraja

Best Lyrics: 3 Idiots: Swanand Kirkire, "Behti Hawa Sa Tha Woh"

Special Jury Award: Kaminey (Hindi), Kuttysrank, Kerala Varma Pazhassi Raja (both

Malayalam)

Best Special Effects: Magadheera (Telugu), R Kamal Kannan

Best Choreography: Magadheera, K Siva Shankar

Best Feature Film in Languagues in Schedule VIII of the Constitution:

Assamese: Basundhara, Producer, Director: Hiren Bora

Bengali: Abohomaan: Producer: Reliance Big Pictures, Director: Rituparno Ghosh

Hindi: Paa, Producer: AB Corp Ltd, Director: R Balakrishnan

Kannada: Kanasemba Kudureyaneri, Producer: Basanta Kumar Patil, Director:

Girish Kasaravalli

Konkani: Palatadcho Munis, Producer: National Film Development Corporation,

Director: Laxmikant Shetgaonkar

Malayalam: Kerala Varma Pazhassi Raja, Producer: A M Gopalan, Director: T Hariharan

Marathi: Natarang, Producer: Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd., Director : Ravindra

Harishchandra Jadhav

Tamil: Pasanga, Producer: M. Sasikumar, Director: Pandiraj

Special Mention: Padmapriya (certificate only)

NON-FEATURE FILMS:

Best Film: The Postman, Producer: K Hariharan, Director: B Manohar and

Bilal, Producer, Director: Sourav Sarangi

Best Debut Film of a Director: Vaishnav Jan Toh, Producer: FTII, Director: Kaushal

Oza, and

Rituparno Ghosh
Rituparno Ghosh

Eti Kaktaliyo Golpo, Producer: FTII, Director: Tathagata Singha

Best Compilation Film: Pancham Unmixed, Producer, Director Brahmanand Singh

Best Environment Film, including Agriculture: In for Motion, Producer: Amlan Dutta

Director: Anirban Dutta

Best Film on Social Issues: Mr India, Producer, Director: Haobam Paban Kumar

Special Jury Award: Kelkkunnundo, Child artiste: Aasna Aslam

Short Fiction Film: Boond, Producer: Kumar Mangat, Director: Abhishek Pathak

Best Cinematography: Gaarud, Cameraman: Deepu S. Unni,

Laboratory : Adlabs

Best Audiography: Gaarud, Re-recordist (final mixed track) : Lipika Singh Darai

Best Editing: In Camera, Editor: Tarun Bhartiya

Best Narration/Voiceover: In Camera, Best Voiceover : Ranjan Palit

Special Mention: Vilay: Cinematographer: Nitika Bhagat (certificate only)

BEST WRITING ON CINEMA:

Best Book on Cinema: Cinema Yaana (Kannada), Publisher Hasiru Prakashana

Author: Dr. K. Puttaswamy

Special Mention: Eka Studioche Atmavrutta, Prabhakar Pendharkar

(Certificate)

Best Film Critic: C.S. Venkiteswaran (Malayalam)

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Veteran film maker D Ramanaidu chosen for Phalke Award

File photo of D Ramanaidu.
File photo of D Ramanaidu.

Veteran film producer D Ramanaidu was today chosen for the prestigious Dada Saheb Phalke Award for 2009 for his outstanding contribution to Indian cinema during a long career of nearly half a century in which he has made scores of entertaining films and been involved with all aspects of the industry.

The award, given annually by the Government, consists of a "Swarn Kamal", a cash prize of Rs.10 lakhs and a shawl.

The award is given on the basis of recommendations of a committee of eminent persons. It will be presented by the President at the National Films Awards function scheduled to be held here in October this year.

Born in Karamchedu in Prakasam District of Andhra Pradesh in 1936, Dr. Ramanaidu entered the film industry in 1963 with his first film "Anuragam", followed by the super-hit film "Ramudu-Bheemudu" starring the legendary N T Rama Rao (NTR) in 1964.

Over the last 47 years, he has been a prolific producer of over 130 films in several Indian languages and finds mention in the Guinness Book of Records.

Apart from Telugu films, he has produced movies in Hindi, Bengali, Oriya, Assamese, Malayalam, Tamil, Kannada, Gujarati, Marathi and Bhojpuri.

His film, "Surigadu" was selected for the Indian Panorama in 1993. "Asukh", a Bengali film won the National Award for the Best Film in 1999. He has also been honoured with several awards by the Andhra Pradesh Government.

Apart from NTR, other well-known artistes who have worked in his films include Sivaji Ganesan, Pandari Bai, Jamuna, Padmini, Sobhan Babu, Kamal Haasan, Jayaprada, Chiranjeevi, Rajnikanth, Rajesh Khanna, Hema Malini, Rekha, Jeetendra and Sreedevi.

Dr Ramanaidu has also introduced several film directors, actors and technicians to the industry. Artistes introduced by him include Venkatesh, Harish, Vanisri, Aryan Rajesh, Tabu, Khushboo, Allari Naresh and Malasree.

Some of the well-known films produced by Dr Ramanaidu include Premanagar, Dildar, Bandish (Hindi), Srikrishna Tulabharam, Preminchu, Ramudu Bheemudu, Bobbili Raja, Ahana Pellanta, Andhra Vaibhavam, Kathanayakudu (Telugu), Asukh, Sudhu Ekbar Bolo (Bengali), Maduve Agona Baa, Thavarumane Udugore (Kannada), Vasantha Maligai, Thiru Mangalam, Thannikattu Raja (Tamil), Dharma Devatha (Oriya), Maina Mor Dhuniya (Assamese), Ashwaroodhan (Malayalam), Mazi Aai (Marathi) and Shiva (Bhojpuri).

Dr. Ramanaidu has also produced a film titled "Hamari Beti" in Hindi which focuses on how handicapped people can lead a normal life and achieve their goals. The protagonist in the film is a girl who is severely handicapped in real life. This film has been screened in International Film Festivals like Chicago and Venice.

The industry veteran has also set up studios, recording, preview and dubbing theatres and laboratories in Hyderabad and Visakhapatnam. He served as a Member of Parliament, representing the Bapatla constituency in Andhra Pradesh in the 13th Lok Sabha.

Dr Ramanaidu will be the 57th recipient of the award, named after DadasahebPhalke, a pioneer of the Indian film industry.

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Akshay Kumar to host Masterchef India on Star Plus

Akshay Kumar
Akshay Kumar

Bollywood action hero Akshay Kumar, who worked as a chef in Bangkok at the start of his career, will host and judge Masterchef India, a culinary competition show that is slated to start on Star Plus television channel next month.

Apart from the actor, the show will have two other judges - chefs Kunal Kapoor and Ajay Chopra, sources said.

A total of 12 contestants will compete for the title of Masterchef India in the show that will be aired twice a week from October 16.

Masterchef is based on the famous culinary competition UK and Australian format of the same name.

"On this show, people who passionately cook as a hobby and have absolutely no experience in the food industry, fight for the title of ‘best cook of the country’," Star Plus said on its website.

"Master Chef is not just a TV show, it’s a cultural phenomena. The show converts the most mundane daily chore of cooking into a life changing experience. The show is an emotion packed cut throat competition, which is easy to connect with and will keep the viewers at the edge of their seats," it said.

According to the channel, international versions of the show have broken ratings records in in the UK, where it has been running since 1990, and Australia, where it is the third most watched television programme since 2001. An American version is under production with Fox and will be launching this spring, the channel said.

A scene of the audience at the MasterChef India audition.
A scene of the audience at the MasterChef India audition.

"In a country where people are defined by what they eat, they are sure to take this show as seriously as the food on their plate. In India this is going to be one of its kind nationwide search for the best cook in the country. It's about people who are executives, construction workers, house wives, maid servants and students… anyone and everyone can be on the show, all you need is undying passion to make great food," it said.

According to the channel, contestants will be put through the paces with various challenges as they compete head-to-head to create delicious dishes. These everyday at-home cooks will have the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to show their passion and excitement for food as they are put to the trial and judged by India’s best.

About Akshay Kumar, the channel said he was the only Bollywood star who had a connect with food.

"The India version won’t just end with finding the best cook of the nation, it goes a step further. The show will offer to set the winner for life. The grand prize will be a restaurant in winner’s name. Which the winner will run and make an occupation out of his talent and thus change his/her life forever," the channel said.

Akshay Kumar says it was a wonderful experience working in Bangkok. "It was a wonderful experience working in Bangkok. I was a free man that time, who was struggling and working hard for his career. I was learning martial arts that time when I used to work in a restaurant as a chef and that was the best experience of my life," he said.

He said he had always looked cooking. "Being a Punjabi, food was a priority in my life and I am a good cook, believe me. And since I had that talent, I used it in my needy days because I couldn’t have worked on anything else. So, I used my cooking talent and worked as a chef in Bangkok," he said.

He said he still cooks for his family when he is at home or they are out on a picnic. "My wife says I cook sushi the best and my mother finds my biriyani best," he added.

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Committee on Piracy submits report to Ambika Soni

The Committee on Piracy, set up to recommend measures to fight video and audio piracy, submitted its report to Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting Ambika Soni here today.


The committee, headed by Mr Uday Kumar Varma, Special Secretary in the Ministry, was set up in pursuance of a decision taken at the 27th State Information Ministers' Conference held in December 2009.


According to an official press release, the committee has viewed the problem of piracy through the parameters of demand and supply. In its recommendations, it has focused on mainstreaming instruments of policy and practice in an effort to make piracy substantially risky and financially unattractive.


The key recommendations of the committee are as follows:


· In order to plug piracy from the cinema halls during screening of films, the responsibility should be cast on the theatre/multiplex operators to ensure that viewers do not carry a cam-cording device inside the theatre. The committee has felt that this be made a condition of the license being granted to theatres and multiplexes by the district authorities.


· In the committee’s considered view, the content creators, rights holders, distributors, optical disc manufacturers and theatre/multiplex operators need to come together and come up with cost effective solutions, inter-alia, converting traditional theatres in smaller towns into digital theatres and releasing genuine DVDs and so on in bigger cities simultaneously with theatrical release in order to make piracy unviable.


· The committee has also recommended amendments in the Cable Television Networks Act in order to replace the existing system of registration of cable operators with the licensing system.


· It has taken note of recent industry initiatives like setting up "Alliance Against Copyright Theft (AACT)" and recommended that such initiatives, if multiplied and intensified, will supplement other efforts to curb piracy.


· The committee has also recommended that the Internet Service Providers should be roped in to check Internet piracy by asking them to initiate action against errant subscribers. In this regard, the committee recommends that the three stage strike model may be adopted.


· Regarding State Governments, the committee has recommended that they may enact legislations so as to provide for preventive detention of video and audio pirates as had been done in some States like Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra. Video pirates may also be brought under the definition of the "Goondas" under the Goonda Act.


· The committee has suggested that the price of legitimate optical discs be brought down in order to make filmed entertainment accessible to the people at a price that they can afford. Further, measures need to be undertaken to ensure high fidelity in genuine DVDs so as to dissuade the public from buying pirated versions. It has further stated that the steps need to be taken by DVD manufacturers along with rights holders and content distributors to ensure that there is no compromise with the quality of genuine DVDs sold and that the viewer is not short-changed.


· In order to buttress the supply side, the committee has recommended that traditional 35 mm screens should be converted into digital ones so as to facilitate simultaneous release of films across the country as also reduce distribution costs. Digitalization of screens, which have already taken roots in the country with the setting up of almost 3000 such screens, need to be given impetus.


· To enhance, sensitization of police, judicial and administrative officials about the Copyright Act, the committee felt that their efforts need to be substantially up-scaled along with training and capacity building. This would enable these officials to curb violations which have resulted in rampant piracy.


· The committee also recommended that the option of allowing copyright owners to register with the Copyright Office online should be explored. Alternatively, "censor" certificate granted by CBFC should be treated as evidence of copyright.


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NGMA to present retrospective of Homai Vyarawalla's photographs

Homai Vyarawalla
Homai Vyarawalla

The National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA) in the capital will present a retrospective of photographs by Homai Vyarawalla, the country's first woman press photographer from August 27 to October 31.

A press release from NGMA said the exhibition has been curated by Ms Vyarawalla's biographer, Sabeena Gadihoke, who is an Associate Professor at the A J K Mass Communication Research Centre at Jamia Millia Islamia.

The exhibition will showcase approximately 150-200 images, including original silver gelatine prints, many printed by the photographer herself. On display would be her old cameras, photographic equipment and other memorabilia. An eye witness to almost an entire century, and recently honored by the nation with the 'life-time achievement award', Homai Vyarawalla, now 97, was born in 1913 to a middle-class Parsi family of Navsari, Gujarat.

She grew up in Bombay where she was the only girl in her class to complete her matriculation examination. Later she moved to Delhi in 1947, after learning photography from her partner Maneckshaw. Her photography career started with the last days of the British Empire and the early days of the new born nation. Some of the key events Homai photographed were the first flag-hoisting ceremony at Red Fort on August 16 1947, the departure of Lord Mountbatten from India and the funerals of Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, and Lal Bahadur Shastri.


Homai Vyarawalla: A Retrospective

According to the release, the exhibition acknowledges Ms Vyarawalla's role as a pioneer among women and her contribution to early photojournalism in India.

"The great value of her work lies in photographs that archive the nation in its infancy documenting both the euphoria of independence as well as disappointment with its undelivered promises. Her images with their strong composition and rich tones are a testimony to her skills as a master photographer," the release added.

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Expert Committee submits report on upgradation of IFFI

Chairman of the Expert Committee on International Film Festival of India, Pritish Nandy presenting a report to the Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting Ambika Soni, in New Delhi on August 19, 2010.
Chairman of the Expert Committee on International Film Festival of India, Pritish Nandy presenting a report to the Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting Ambika Soni, in New Delhi on August 19, 2010.

The Expert Committee on International Film Festival of India (IFFI), headed by writer and film-maker Pritish Nandy, has recommended that the competition section at the event should be enhanced from its present status of a specialised competition to an international competition open to all.

It has also suggested the introduction of two new awards - Best Actor and Best Actress. The winners of theese awards will be given a Silver Peacock, a certificate and a cash prize of Rs 10 lakh each.

With this, the total cash awards at the festival, held in November every year in Goa, will go up to Rs 90 lakh, an official press release said.

The committee has also recommended that the final entries in the International Competition section may be increased from the present 15 to 18. With a view to positioning the festival at par with international standards, the committee has recommended that workshops may be held at IFFI to discuss new technology initiatives and Master Classes should be conducted by eminent people from world cinema.

Mr Nandy presented the report of the committee to Union Minister of Information and Broadcasting Ambika Soni here on August 19. Three other members of the committee, Mr A K Bir, Mr Govind Nihalani and Ms Kishwar Desai, were also present.

Ms Soni thanked the panel for submitting its report within a short span of time and said her Ministry would now process its recommendations.

The committee was constituted at Ms Soni's initiatve to make recommendations for the upgradation of IFFI to bring it on par with other reputed international film festivals. It was also asked to make recommendations regarding the changes to be made in the selection of Indian Panorama films, both in the feature and non feature categories.

As part of its exercise, the committee had set up four sub-committees to study issues that would enable the upgradation of the festival. The technical sub-committee was chaired by Mr Bir, the one on sponsorship by Ms Pooja Shetty Deora, the one on events by Mr Nihalani and the one on structural reforms by Mr Nadny.

The Technical Sub-Committee has given a list of technical upgrades required to improve the quality of the viewing experience at IFFI. The Sub-Committee’s report along with Mr. Bir’s report for IFFI 2009 prepared for the Madgaon auditorium and his "Future View Point" document for a new auditorium in Goa were also placed before the Expert Committee. The Sponsorship Sub-Committee outlined measures for building brand IFFI internationally.

The Events Sub-Committee has proposed a series of initiatives under the aegis of New Products Platform (NPP). It recommended the upgradation of the IFFI website. It suggested that the Film Market must be developed to international standards and provide business opportunities to Indian film makers. It felt that international studios and sales agents should be invited for IFFI as per international norms.

The sub-committee recommended that in the Indian Panorama section, the jury should not be bound to select five films from among the 20 recommended by FFI and the Film Producers Guild. Rather, they should be free to select fewer than five films, if the standards of excellence were not met in their opinion. To enhance participation, the Committee recommended Q&A sessions to be held post Indian Panorama screenings at IFFI.

The sub committee on Structuring has outlined a roadmap regarding IFFI’s future structure keeping in mind its mandate and responsibilities in the future.

The other members of the Expert Committee were Mr Kamal Hassan, Ms Shabana Azmi, Mr Karan Johar, Mr Prasoon Joshi, Ms Nandita Das, Ms Maithili Rao, Mr Lakshmikant Shetgaonkar, Mr C.S. Sapra, Chief Secretary Goa, and Mr S M Khan, the Director of Film Festivals. The Joint Secretary (Films) in the Ministry was the Member-Secretary.

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Film Street Journal, new entertainment weekly, launched in Mumbai

Siddharth Malhotra, Bharathi Pradhan, and Divya Dutta during the launch of The Film Street Journal at Oxford Bookstore
Siddharth Malhotra, Bharathi Pradhan, and Divya Dutta during the launch of The Film Street Journal at Oxford Bookstore

Film Street Journal (FSJ), a new entertainment weekly edited by journalist and author Bharathi S Pradhan was launched at a function hosted by the Oxford Bookstore here today.

The publication was launched by Siddharth Malhotra, director of "We are Family", and well-known actress Divya Dutt. The release was followed by a panel discussion on film journalism.

The publishers of the new all-colour journal say it will focus on news and not gossip and be produced on international quality paper with spiffy layouts. They also say it will offer a platform for fresh, incisive and even radical criticism and debate on cinema and its evolving forms and breakthrough movements.

They said the weekly would endeavour to "provide a panoramic view of cinema from across the entertainment world- the real and the digital, and cut through the excess, unnecessary, superficial jargon and provide its readers with a glimpse of the light at the core of so much chaos and a portrait of the world through the flicker of the magic lantern."

Pradhan said, "The Film Street Journal is for people and institutions who partake in its worldview of cinema as the most potent medium of expression, who believes in the power of cinema as an instrument of change and revolution, as a mirror of our society and times and as a entity of mystique. It is an exclusive journal dedicated to in-depth and definitive articles, interviews and film reviews."

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Reliance Broadcast in JV with CBS Studios for TV channels in India


Reliance Broadcast Network Limited (RBNL), a part of the Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group (ADAG), and CBS Studios International, a division of CBS Corporation, today announced a joint venture that will initially see the creation of three new English entertainemnt television channels.

The joint venture company, to be called Big CBS Networks Pvt. Ltd., will be a limited liability company incorporated in India. CBS and RBNL, through its subsidiary, will each have a 50 per cent equity interest in the venture.

The announcement about the joint venture was made by Mr Tarun Katial, CEO of RBNL, and Mr Armando Nunez, President, CBS Studios International.

The three new channels will allow for programming rights in India, one of the world's fastest growing television markets, and across the Indian sub-continent.

According to a press release issued by the two companies, the channels will be customised for the Indian market and will be launched in the fourth quarter of 2010, offering audiences access to new and current CBS progrmames, including some of the most popular programmes in the world.

It said the channels would be made available across a network of digital and analog distribution platforms. They will also be offered to audiences across the Indian sub-continent covering India, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, the Maldives and Pakistan.

The themed channels will be targeted at India's fast-growing, upwardly mobile population and will be branded Big CBS Prime, a premium English general entertainment channel, Big CBS Spark, India’s first English youth channel and Big CBS Love, India’s first ever women's English entertainment channel.

Anil Ambani
Anil Ambani

The partners felt the joint venture had exciting prospects, given RBNL's multi-media presence and an integrated sales offering, combined with the content and media muscle of CBS.

In this context, they said there were considerable synergies across Reliance ADAG platforms which include distribution foray through Big TV and Reliance Digicable, TV production through Big Synergy and Big Productions and filmed content through Big Pictures, international partnerships with DreamWorks and the group’s many advertising and promotional platforms.

The CBS content to be offered by the channels will include new series such as "Hawaii Five-0," "The Defenders" and "Blue Bloods," and current hits such as "NCIS," "Survivor," "CSI," "90210," "America’s Next Top Model" and "Entertainment Tonight."

The channels will also draw from 70,000 hours of content from CBS's programme library, including the original "Melrose Place," "Star Trek: The Next Generation," "Frasier," "Everybody Loves Raymond," and "Charmed".

In addition, the venture will also acquire content from third party suppliers and will consider producing original English language programming for the channels, in the future.

"This is truly a landmark moment not just for us but the entire Reliance ADA Group, with our first step into the television broadcasting space," Mr Katial said.

"We see great opportunity in the Indian television industry which projects high growth rate, and we are confident that our deep understanding of the Indian consumer’s entertainment requirement and advertiser needs, coupled with CBS’ reputation for creating superior content, will offer unmatched and pioneering entertainment to audiences in India and across the Indian subcontinent," he said.

Mr Nunez said that, as an international media and entertainment powerhosue, Reliance ADAG was the perfect partner for CBS to expand further into India.

"The vast programming, production and media resources of our two companies position us extremely well to serve audience, advertisers and all constituents of these new channels. This is an exciting alliance with potential for amazing synergies and new opportunities for our companies in one of the world’s most dynamic business and media markets," he said.

According to the release, the Rs 265.5 billion burgeoning Indian television market is estimated to have 134 million homes with televisions, of which 103 million have access to cable or satellite television, including DTH. India is poised to become the world's largest direct-to-home satellite pay TV market by 2012, overtaking the U.S. with a projected 35 million subscribers.

While Big CBS will initially focus on the English language general entertainment channels, the joint venture may also explore the option of launching Hindi and regional language general entertainment channels along with other possible projects in the future.

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National Film Awards restructured, new categories introduced

Chairman of Expert Committee on National Film Awards Shyam Benegal presenting the report to the Union Minister of Information and Broadcasting, Ambika Soni, in New Delhi on May 11, 2010. Sharmila Tagore and Rajeev Mehrotra are also seen.
Chairman of Expert Committee on National Film Awards Shyam Benegal presenting the report to the Union Minister of Information and Broadcasting, Ambika Soni, in New Delhi on May 11, 2010. Sharmila Tagore and Rajeev Mehrotra are also seen.

The Government has restructured the entire scheme of the National Film Awards, under which there would be a two-tier selection system and some new categories of awards will be introduced.

An official announcement said here today that the selections for National Film Awards for 2009 would be implemented under the new system.

Under the two-tier selection system, five Regional Panels have been constituted for pre-selection of films, as follows:

(i) 5 Regional Panels has been constituted for pre selection of films

(a) North- English, Punjabi, Dogri, Urdu, Bhojpuri, Rajasthani and Central Indian Languages

(b) West- Marathi, Hindi, Gujarati & Konkani

(c ) South I- Tamil and Malayalam

South II - Kannada, Telugu and Tulu

(d) East- Bengali, Assamese, Oriya and dialects spoken in the North-East

The release said each Regional Panel would comprise a Chairperson and one member (both of whom would be from outside the region) and three other members from within the region. The screenings of the Regional Panel as well as the Central jury would be held in Delhi.

The Central Jury would comprise a Chairperson plus ten members, of whom five would be the chairpersons of the five regional juries.

The release said new awards had been introduced for Location Sound Recordist and Sound Designer in the Audiography category, for Background Score in addition to the existing award for Best Music Direction (Songs) and for Adapted Screenplay, Original Screenplay and Dialogues in place of the existing award for Best Screenplay and Dialogues.

The cash prize for several awards in both feature films and non-feature films categories have been increased. The sitting fee of Jury Members has been hiked from Rs.1000 per day to Rs.2500 per day.

The changes have made on the basis of the recommendations by an Expert Committee headed by eminent filmmaker Shyam Benegal for upgradation of the National Film Awards.

The mandate given to the Committee, constituted by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting was to reinvent the National Film Awards with a view to making them more contemporary and acceptable, the release added.

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Priyanka Chopra to be UNICEF National Ambassador for child rights

Actress Priyanka Chopra becomes UNICEF National Ambassador.
Actress Priyanka Chopra becomes UNICEF National Ambassador.

The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) has appointed popular Bollywood actress Priyanka Chopra as its National Ambassador with the responsibility of promoting issues relating to child rights and adolescence.

"I am very honoured to formalize my association with UNICEF as their National Ambassador to help bring awareness for child rights and adolescence." said Priyanka Chopra at a ceremony in New Delhi.

"Over the past few years, I have worked very closely with the team at UNICEF to bring awareness to a number of causes related to India's young and I realized that there is so much more to be done. I hope that by lending my voice I can make a difference to their lives," she said.

"You all know Priyanka Chopra as a shining star of Indian cinema," said UNICEF representative Karin Hulshof. "Now I tell you that she is equally passionate about her work on behalf of children and adolescents.

"We are proud of the work she has done with us so far on child rights and we are thrilled about all what we will be doing together so that no child gets left behind. Priyanka, with her unwavering commitment to child rights, will help to create a world fit for children."

A former Miss World winner, Priyaka entered the Hindi film industry in 2002. She won the National Award for Best Actress for her role in "Fashion".

Actress Priyanka Chopra becomes UNICEF National Ambassador.
Actress Priyanka Chopra becomes UNICEF National Ambassador.

Since beginning her collaboration with UNICEF in 2008, Priyanka has also recorded a series of public service announcements championing girls’ education and celebrating the 20th anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. She has also participated in a media panel discussion to promote child rights.

A press release from UNICEF said Priyanka joins Bollywood megastar Amitabh Bachchan and well-known actress Sharmila Tagore in supporting UNICEF’s work for children in India and around the world.

UNICEF Ambassadors are celebrities with a demonstrated commitment to improving the lives of children. Highly talented in their own right, they share an ability to bring attention to children’s issues, to galvanize support from the public and leading decision-makers, and to raise urgently needed funds for UNICEF programmes, the release added.

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33 young artistes receive Ustad Bismillah Khan Yuva Puraskar 2009

Theatre artiste Juhi Babbar receiving the
Theatre artiste Juhi Babbar receiving the "Ustad Bismillah Khan Yuva Puraskar 2009" from Sangeet Natak Akademi acting Chairman Ratan Thiyam in New Delhi on August 10, 2010.

Thirty-three young artistes from all over the country who have made a mark in different forms of performing arts were presented with the Ustad Bismillah Khan Yuva Puraskar of the Sangeet Natak Akademi for 2009 here yesterday.

The awards were presented by the acting chairman of the academy, Mr Ratan Thiyam, at a function, which also marked the beginning of a week-long festival of performances by the award-winning artistes.

The Sangeet Natak Akademi is India's national academy for music, dance and drama. It instituted the awards in 2006 in the memory of shehnai maestro Ustad Bismillah Khan, who had died in August that year. They are given to young artistes, below the age of 35 years, who have made a mark in their fields of performing arts. The award carries prize money of Rs 25,000.

The "puraskar" is meant to encourage outstanding young talents and give them national recognition early in life so that they may work with greater commitment and dedication in life-long pursuit of their chosen artform.

Nine artistes were given eight puraskars, including one jointly, in the field of music. They are Omkar Shrikant Dadarkar for Hindustani Vocal; Murad Ali (Sarangi), and Sanjeev Shankar and Ashwani Shankar (Joint Award in Shehnai) for Hindustani Instrumental Music; C.S. Sajeev for Carnatic Vocal; Mysore A Chandan Kumar (Flute) and Trivandrum V Balaji (Mridangam) for Carnatic Instrumental Music; Anil Srinivasan for Creative & Experimental Music; Moirangthem Meina Singh for Other Major Traditions of Music – Nata Sankirtana of Manipur.

In the field of dance, eight artistes --Ragini Chander Shekar, Bharatanatyam; Monisa Nayak, Kathak; Hanglem Indu Devi, Manipuri; Chinta Ravi Balakrishna, Kuchipudi; Lingaraj Pradhan, Odissi; Menaka P P Bora, Sattriya; Manjula B Murthy, Mohiniattam and Swamimalai K Suresh, Music for Dance (Bharatanatyam Nattuvangam & Vocal) -- were the recipients of the awards.

The awards for theatre went to Abanti Chakraborty and Sukracharjya Rabha for Direction; Mukta Vasant Barve, Palani Murugan and Teekam Chandra Joshi for Acting; Milind Srivastava (Lighting) and Juhi Babbar (Costumes) for Allied Theatre Arts and S. Gobi (Bhagavata Mela of Tamil Nadu) for Major Traditions of Theatre.

For their talent in Other Traditional/Folk/Tribal Dance/Music/Theatre and Puppetry, Reshma Musale, Lavani & Tamasha (Maharastra); K Nellai Manikandan, Folk Dance (Tamil Nadu); Hmar Zohmingliana, Tribal Dance & Music (Mizoram); Takhellambam Shyamkanhai Singh, Wari Leeba (Manipur); T.R. Sooraj Nambiar, Kutiyattam (Kerala); Shah-e-Jahan Ahmad Bhagat, Bhand Pather (Jammu and Kashmir); Nazia Sayeed, Odissi Music (Orissa) and Lala Bhata, Kathputli (Rajasthan) were selected for the Puraskar.

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Leela Samson named Chairperson of Sangeet Natak Akademi

Leela Samson
Leela Samson

The President has appointed renowned Bharatanatyam dancer Leela Samson as the Chairperson of the Sangeet Natak Akademi for a term of five years with immediate effect.

Recognised as one of India's most energetic and engaging Bharatanatyam dancers, Ms Samson is known for her in-depth knowledge and impeccable style.

She is an alumnus of the famed Kalaksheta in Chennai, where she learnt dance under the tutelage of the late Rukmini Devi Arundale, and is now the Director of the Kalakshetra Foundation, a position she will continue to hold.

Ms Samson has choreographed several group and solo compositions in Bharatanatyam and authored a book "Rhythm in Joy" as well as several articles. She has won many honours, including the Padma Shri and the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award.

She has been the subject of two documentary films, "Sanchari: by Arun Khopkar and "The Flowering Tree" by Ein Lall.

The Sangeet Natak Akademi is India's national academy for music, dance and drama. It is the first national academy of arts set up in indepedent India, having been created on May 31, 1952.

As the apex body specializing in the performing arts of the country, the Akademi renders advice and assistance to the Government of India in the task of formulating and implementing policies and programmes in the field. Additionally, the Akademi carries a part of the responsibilities of the state for fostering cultural contacts between various regions in India, and between India and the world.

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PM releases "Sarod Symphony" by Amjad Ali Khan, sons

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh releasing a music album by Sarod Maestro Ustad Amjad Ali Khan, in New Delhi on August 09, 2010.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh releasing a music album by Sarod Maestro Ustad Amjad Ali Khan, in New Delhi on August 09, 2010.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today released "Sarod Symphony", a music album featuring sarod maestro Ustad Amjad Ali Khan and his sons Aman and Ayan with a full-fledged orchestra conducted by Stephen Devassy.

Dr Singh released the album at his office in Parliament House at a brief function at which Khan and his sons were present.

The maestro told the media later that the symphony was an effort to take the sarod to international audiences. It is the first recording the father and sons have done with a Western orchestra.

In the past, sitar maestro Pandit Ravi Shankar has produced two sitar concertos - No. 1 with the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Andre Previn and No. 2 with the New York Philharmonic conducted by Zubin Mehta.

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Festival of Asian films in Delhi from August 18-22


Imaging Asia, a festival of more than 30 award winning Asian films, will be held here from August 18 to 22 to mark 20 years of the Network for Promotion of Asian Cinema (NETPAC).


NETPAC has, over the past 20 years, helped to turn the spotlight on Asian cinema in several countries, both in Asia and the rest of the world, showing it is rich in content and emotion apart from its use of high technology.


This was done through film festivals or NETPAC juries choosing the best films from the region.


Apart from a festival of NETPAC award-winning films, the five-day event will also feature a conference on Asian cinema; exhibitions on Asia's proto-cinemas and Sumi-e artists of Delhi; and performances of traditional Indian and Asian forms of pictorial storytelling.


The event is being organised by NETPAC and the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) at the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA), the Instituto Cervantes, Alliance Francaise, India Habitat Centre and India International Centre.


It is being held in collaboration with UNESCO, IGNCA, Indian Council for Cultural Relations, Max Mueller Bhavan and the Habitat Film Club, and supported by the Public Diplomacy Division, Ministry of External Affairs.


The four-day seminar in association with the IGNCA is on"The Culture and Politics of Asian Cinema" and will begin on August 19. Through seven panel discussions, it will focus on the specificity of film cultures and on the need to recognize and respect diversity while defining cinema; on the politics governing the cinema's evolving identity in the context of globalization and the shifts in technology against the dynamic landscapes of Asia; and about translating the cultural diversity from concept into practice.


Over 25 well-known film personalities specializing in Asian cinema have been invited to speak at the conference. Led by Aruna Vasudev, they include Pusan Festival Director Kim Dong-ho, renowned filmmakers Xie Fei (China), Garin Nugroho (Indonesia) and Adoor Gopalakrishnan, as well as Arab cinema specialist and programmer Intishal al-Timimi, apart from many critics and representatives of funding agencies.


In association with Asian Heritage Foundation and ICCR, there will be a cultural festival from 18 to 22 August featuring traditional forms of telling tales in India and other Asian countries: performances by picture storytellers that may be interpreted as proto-cinema.


These include shadow puppets from India; live demonstrations by Pata artists and by puppet makers from Nimmalakunta; and by practitioners of narrative pictorial traditions. There will also be an exhibition of hand-painted narrative scrolls organized by the Asian Heritage Foundation.


Shadow plays and puppeteers from Asian countries have been invited by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations.


"NETPAC has become known as the one pan-Asian organization that has worked assiduously to promote Asian cinema," says Ms Vasudev, NETPAC President and Editor of CINEMAYA The Asian Film Quarterly and founder of CINEFAN Festival of Asian Cinema.


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Cancer docu-drama "1 a minute" to release in India on Oct 29

Namrata Singh Gujral

Namrata Singh Gujral's "1 a minute", a film that aims to create awareness about breast cancer through survivor testimonials, will release in Indian theatres on October 29.

The day will see a select city theatrical release of the film by its producers, UniGlobe Entertainment, and PVR with an exclusive India partnership with the Nargis Dutt Memorial Charitable Trust (NDMCT).

The film will have its United States release on October 6 in 527 theatres, the largest theatrical release for any cancer-themed film of this nature, a press release from the producers said.

According to it, every minute, somewhere in the world a woman dies of breast cancer. In India, 100,000 women are affected every year by breast cancer, which has overtaken cervical cancer to become the leading cause of death among women in metropolitan cities.

The release quoted the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) as saying that this number would rise to 250,000 cases by the end of 2015, resulting in an increase in the incidence of cancer-related mortality to 33 per cent among women.

The release said a portion of the profits from each ticket sale of "1 a minute" would be donated to NDMCT. The aim of the film's release would be to raise awareness and funds to support the social cause in India.

The Nargis Dutt Memorial Charitable Trust will use part of the funds for initializing a free mammogram machine and the rest will be issued by cheques to the accounts of pediatric cancer patients of underprivileged families at the Tata Memorial Hospital in Mumbai.

Established in 1981 in the memory of Nargis Dutt, one of India's best known film actresses, by her husband and actor, the late Sunil Dutt,  the trust has chapters in the US, Canada, the United Kingdom and Germany, known as the Nargis Dutt Cancer Foundation.

The movie stars survivors like Lisa Ray (Water and Bollywood Hollywood), Barbara Mori (La Mujer de Mi Hermano and Kites), Mumtaz (Bollywood actress of yesteryears), Namrata Singh Gujral (Americanizing Shelley and The Agency), Olivia Newton-John (Grease), Jaclyn Smith (Charlie’s Angels), Melissa Etheridge (An Inconvenient Truth), Diahann Carroll (Claudine), brothers Billy Baldwin (Backdraft) and Danny Baldwin (Vampires), whose mother is a survivor and finally Priya Dutt, whose mother Nargis Dutt had died of cancer.

The docudrama also includes interviews with oncologist Dr  Dennis Slamon, inventor of herceptin, Dr Deepak Chopra and Ambassador Nancy G Brinker of the World Health Organisation (WHO).

According to the release, the movie is an unprecedented push by celebrated women across the globe, some of whom are also cancer survivors, to raise funds to help find a cure, promote awareness and support the survivors of this form of cancer.

The movie follows a woman's journey through cancer. At each stage of her journey, the stars recount their experiences to personalize the journey.

Priya Dutt
Priya Dutt

The film is a hybrid between narrative structure and documentary style which interweaves throughout the plot.

"We are delighted to be associated with foundations like the Nargis Dutt Memorial Charitable Trust and Susan G. Komen for the Cure," Gujral, President, UniGlobe Entertainment, said.

“In the West, where women seek early medical attention more than 80% of breast cancers are treated at Stage-1 (50%) or stage-2 (30%) and the cure rates are 70% to 80%. In India more than 70% of the breast cancers are far advanced (stage-3 and 4) by the time women seek medical attention and the cure rates are less than 30-40%," she said.

Speaking about the trust and the association Priya Dutt, said, “I am just fulfilling, the dream that my parents had seen and started; to provide medical facility to our people in India to bring a smile to the patients and their family. Especially those families who cannot afford this specialized kind of treatment, that my father could give my mother. We do all that is possible through Nargis Dutt Memorial Charity Trust to keep this dream alive. We welcome all of you who would like to contribute and live this dream, along with the Nargis Dutt Memorial Charity Trust family"

Narrated by Kelly McGillis (Top Gun fame), the film's team team boasts of A-list Hollywood talent such as composer Jay Ferguson (The Terminator, NBC’s "The Office"), sound chief Scott Jennings (The Passion of Christ, Apocalypto), music supervisor Michael Mason (Training Day, The Fugitive), Editor Maureen Meulen (Five Fingers, 300) and the director of photography Yasu Tanida (August Evening). The film, shot in several countries, also includes top professionals who lent their expertise to local shoots in Los Angeles, San Diego,
Texas, Florida, Australia, Canada, Mexico and India.

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NCPA, Mumbai to stage its first Marathi theatre festival from August 7-11

Theatre personalities Sushama Deshpande , Arun Kakade , Khushroo N Suntook (Chairman, NCPA), Atul Kulkarni and Aniruddha Khutwad announcing NCPA's Marathi theatre festival in Mumbai on August 3, 2010.
Theatre personalities Sushama Deshpande , Arun Kakade , Khushroo N Suntook (Chairman, NCPA), Atul Kulkarni and Aniruddha Khutwad announcing NCPA's Marathi theatre festival in Mumbai on August 3, 2010.

The National Centre for the Performing Arts (NCPA), one of India's best known arts and cultural institutions, will organise its first-ever festival of contemporary Marathi theatre here from August 7-11. 


The five-day event, Pratibimb: Marathi Natya Utsav, was officially launched here yestrday in the presence of renowned theatre actor-director Atul Kulkarni. It is planned as an annual feature in NCPA's calendar.


According to the organisers, contemporary Marathi theatre highlights trends and stories such as Facebok to breast cancer and drug abuse, and from woman saints of the 13th century to subtle nuances of middle class mores. The festival will echo these expressions, they said.


The event is also aimed at providing a platform for young and emerging talent in Marathi theatre. It will showcase six critically-acclaimed plays directed by some of the most promising creative minds in the current Marathi theatre circuit.


Others present at the launch were NCPA Chairman Khushroo N Suntook, Arun Kakade (President of Avishkaar Theatre Group), Manaswini Lata Ravindra (Director of Ekmekaat), Sushama Deshpande (Director of Baaya Daar Ughad), Aniruddha Khutwad (Director of Ek Rikami Baju and Mahapoor) and actor Padmanabh Bind of the play Mahapoor.


As no Marathi play is complete without Katta – a lively session of debate and discussion – each evening of NCPA Pratibimb: Marathi Natya Utsav will feature a katta session that will be held at the Experimental Theatre at 5 pm.


Theatre experts like Shanta Gokhale, Jayant Pawar, Ravindra Pathre, Meena Karnik and Sumedha Raikar Mhatre will discuss various issues concerning theatre with Mohit Takalkar, Geetanjali Kulkarni, Manaswini Lata Ravindra and others.


"Any festival embodies immense collective energy. NCPA Marathi Natya Utsav will encompass the energy, vibrancy and interactivity of contemporary Marathi Theatre that needs a platform. I am grateful to the NCPA for organising such an event," Kulkarni said.


"One will get to see a lot of competition between new and old plays. It is a must watch for one and all," he said.


Mr Suntook said the festial had been specially conceptualised to bring back the enthralling experience of Marathi theatre. "Audiences will get to witness contemporary Marathi plays, new works as well as a fresh approach to the texts by eminent playwrights. There is an energy and sense of adventure in these plays, and an exploration of a variety of issues most importantly, modern urban relationships."


The organisers said the last few years had witnessed a revitalisation of both Marathi cinema and theatre. To encourage this trend and promote emerging talent in the performing arts space, the NCPA launched its annual Marathi film festival last year titled NCPA Nave Valan, to showcase new wave Marathi cinema. This year, the NCPA Pratibimb: Marathi Natya Utsav has been conceived along the same lines to promote and provide a platform for contemporary Marathi Theatre.


"At the NCPA, we have seen a glorious tradition of Marathi theatre, with eminent directors such as Vijaya Mehta and Amol Palekar staging their plays here. Those doing offbeat contemporary theatre face an ongoing challenge with the lack of suitable venues for their plays. By organising the NCPA Pratibimb Marathi Natya Utsav, the NCPA would like to be a catalyst in the blossoming of a new Marathi theatre scene in the city," Ms Deepa Gahlot, Head - Programming (Theatre & Film), NCPA, said,


The line-up of the festival plays includes:The include Baya Daar Ughad, Ek Rikaami Baju, Geli Ekvees Varsha, Ekmekaat, Anandbhog Mall and Mahapoor.


The festival is supported by the South Central Zone Cultural Centre, Nagpur, and Ketik Zaveri Dimensions, the organisers added.


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Retrospective of Oscar winner Ang Lee's films in Delhi, Pune, Kolkata

A still from the film "Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon".

A retrospective of Oscar award winner Taiwanese director Ang Lee's films will be held at the Siri Fort Auditorium in Delhi for three days from tomorrow after which the festival will travel to Pune and Kolkata.

The movies that will be showcased at the festival are \: Fine Line (1984), Pushing Hands (1992), The Wedding Banquet (1993), Eat Drink Man Woman (1994), Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon (2000).

The festival, which traces Ang Lee's journey from his early days in college, has been organised by the Taipei Economic and Cultural Centre, New Delhi, in collaboration with Directorate of Film Festivals.

Out of the five films being screened, four have been produced by famous international producer Hus Li-Kong, who will be the chief guest at the inauguration ceremony in Delhi. Mr. Ang Lee attributes his success to him and feels that without Mr. Hsu, he would not have been where he is today.

Mr. Lee will be sending a DVD with his message for Indian viewers which will be screened at the inauguration, the organisers said.

Ang Lee is one of seven directors to win the Oscar, the Golden Globe, Director's Guild and BAFTA for the same movie: Brokeback Mountain (2005). All his films have been very well received by audiences not only in Taiwan but all over the world because of the striking diversity, as well as his recurring themes of alienation, marginalization, and repression.

Many of Lee's films, particularly his early Chinese trilogy, have focused on the interactions between modernity and tradition. The movement from family drama, period drama, the Western, the martial arts epic and the comic strip has all been given the Lee treatment. His settings too are as diverse as modern Taipei, Victorian England, Civil War America and Qing-dynasty China.

Some of his films have had a light-hearted comic tone which marks a break from tragic historical realism. In short, Lee is the perfect living example of globalization and its effect on the film

Ambassador Wenchyi Ong said "India is a land of film lovers and Taiwan’s film industry is already well known in the international arena for having a large number of talented and creative individuals."

He noted that Taiwanese films "I Can’t Live Without You" and "Wall" won the Golden Peacock Award at the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) in 2009 and 2007.

He hoped that, through the retrospective, Indians would be able to connect to one of Taiwan's most loved directors and his heart warming films.

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Indian Ocean to give away songs on new album free from July 25

Indian Ocean, the legendary Indian band, plans to give away all seven songs of its new album, 16/330 Khajoor Road, free of cost in the form of mp3 downloads from its website.

The album is due to be released on July 25, and one song will be given away free every month over the next seven months, a press release from the band said.

Indian Ocean
Indian Ocean

According to it, listeners will have to just log on to the website and register. They will get an e-mailed code that will allow them to download the song.

The album is named after the band's jam-pad in Delhi’s Karol Bagh, 16/330 Khajoor Road, where the band has rehearsed and composed since 1997, producing Kandisa, Jhini and Black Friday.

The place has an even longer connection with music. Before partition, Pakistani poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz also used to live in the same house.

The new album is a tribute to the almost spiritual energy of the house that has allowed the band to grow unfettered. The album also comprises almost all the last few songs in which the band’s former percussionist and vocalist, Asheem Chakravarty, participated in composing, performing and recording.

Chakravarty passed away on December 25, 2009, but the plan to release the album had been formulated with his full knowledge and consent last summer. It is only now that it becomes a "tribute" of sorts, the release said.

According to the release, the songs are vintage Indian Ocean, with a few surprises thrown in. The classic line-up of the band comprising Susmit Sen, Asheem Chakravarty, Rahul Ram and Amit Kilam has produced songs ranging in mood from the contemplative to the inspirational to the political.

The band is planning to tour all over the country with the album over the next few months, the release added.

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NCPA to present music of Gauhar Jan on July 22

File photo of vocalist Gauhar Jan.
File photo of vocalist Gauhar Jan.

The National Centre of Performing Arts (NCPA), one of India's best-known arts and cultural institutions, will present a guided listening session on the music of vocalist Gauhar Jan, the first Indian artiste to cut a gramaphone record, at the NCPA Experimental Theatre here on July 22.

The event has been organised by NCPA in collaboration with the Indian Musicological Society for its July edition of "Nad Ninad – From Our Archives".

Nad Ninad shares some of the priceless archival recordings (both from NCPA archives and external sources) of the great masters of music with classical music aficionados.

This time around, Nad Ninad will be presented by Shubha Mudgal and Aneesh Pradhan, both well-known exponents of Indian music.

According to an NCPA press release, the session will treat the audience to the music of the alluring Gauhar Jan who recorded over 150 discs in 20 different languags and dialects.

Born in Allahabad as Angelina Yeoward, Gauhar Jan (1873-1930) received her initial training in music from Kale Khan of Patiala, and in dance from Ali Bakhsh. Many teachers followed, including the great thumri singer and harmonium player Bhaiya Saheb Ganpat Rao, and the famous kathak maestro Bindadin Maharaj of Lucknow.

With her unusually large repertoire of songs, ranging from khayals, thumris, dadras, tappas and horis to ghazals, Gauhar Jan became one of the most sought-after and wealthy singers of her time.

"Gauhar Jan was the first major gramophone celebrity and her impressive personality and musical style had an enormous impact on her contemporaries. She was one of the few vocalists who managed to commercialise her music without really compromising on the quality," Dr Suvarnalata Rao, Head – Programming (Indian Music), NCPA, said.

With almost 5,000 hours of audio recordings and 1200 hours of film footage of musicians, the NCPA Archives ranks among the world’s finest documentary resources for Indian vocal & instrumental art music and folk music from different regions of India.

With sessions of this calibre, the NCPA endeavours to share the great recordings that they have preserved over time, with budding music students and lovers as well thereby bringing them close to the rich and varied tradition of Indian music.

This event is a free session and seats can be occupied on a first-come-first-served basis. However, a section of the seats will be reserved for NCPA Members, the release added.

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Pianist Stephen Kovacevich to perform at NCPA, Mumbai on July 16

Stephen Kovacevich
Stephen Kovacevich

Renowned pianist Stephen Kovacevich, regarded by many as the best Beethoven player in the world, will perform at the National Centre of Performing Arts (NCPA) - Tata Theatre on July 16.

"It’s indeed a privilege for the NCPA to present, for the second time, the great pianist, Stephen Kovacevich whose playing of Beethoven’s works is almost peerless," Mr Khushroo Suntook, Chairman, NCPA, said.

"He is one of the best pianists in the world, particularly in the basic classical repertoire. His technical command allied to his great musical sensitivity makes any performance of Stephen’s a memorable experience. His recordings of the Beethoven concerti and sonatas have attained iconic status," he said.

At the NCPA, Kovacevich will play Beethoven: Piano Sonata No 5 in C minor Op 10,

Beethoven: Piano Sonata No 31 Op 110 in A flat major and Schubert: Piano Sonata in B flat major D960.

He will also be conducting Master Classes for Piano students on July 19, a press release from NCPA said.

The release said Kovacevich, considered one of the most searching interpreters, had won unsurpassed admiration for his rendition of Brahms, Mozart and Schubert, apart from Beethoven. In addition to his long and distinguished career as a soloist, he has conducted for many years, winning praise for his work with orchestras throughout the world in repertoire from the 18th and 19th centuries.

His international reputation has been built both on his concert appearances, renowned for their thoughtfulness and re-creative intensity, and on the highly acclaimed recordings he has made throughout his career, the release added.

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94.3 Radio One to have dedicated weekly show for Marathi music

Music station 94.3 Radio One today said it would start airing from July 18 a dedicated weekly show for Marathi music.


The show, "Top 13 Marathi Songs", will also feature interviews with prominent Marathi artistes, singers and lyricists on their favourite music.


According to a press release issued by the station, it will be a first of its kind initiative for Marathi music listeners in Mumbai.


Interestingly, the announcement came a day after newspapers carried a report saying that Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray had urged all private FM radio channels to start broadcasting Marathi songs within seven days.


"It has been noticed that many FM channels do not play Marathi songs. They should start airing them in a week or else Sena would launch an agitation," the reports quoted Mr Thackeray as saying.


"At 94.3 Radio One, we strongly believe that good quality music has no boundaries and this can be seen through our initiatives," Mr Bavesh Janavlekar, Station Head – Mumbai said about the initiative.


"We are India’s first music station which promotes different genres of music along with the popular Bollywood music. We have always believed in giving our listeners quality music which exists across genres. With this top 13 Marathi songs, we are truly living up to the brand promise of giving our listeners 'Maximum music. Maximum choice’," he said.


Launched in June 2006, 94.3 Radio One has seven stations operating in Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai, Pune, Ahmedabad and Kolkata, the release added.


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NCPA presents International Comedy Festival from July 10-14

A scene from French film
A scene from French film "After You".

The National Centre for Performing Arts, one of India's best-known art and culture institutions, has in collaboration with Lumiere Movies organised a five-day mini-film festival of classic comedies from around the world here from today.

The International Comedy Festival is aimed at creating a wider platform for reaching out to a varied spectrum of audiences. This is the first time that the NCPA is organising a comedy film festival. It will run until July 14 at the Little Theatre at the NCPA.

"We are planning these mini-festivals of classics, many of them contemporary, so audiences get to see the best of world cinema," Ms Deepa Gahlot, Head - Programming, Indian Theatre and Film, NCPA, said.

She said the theme was selected "because comedy is always popular; and what better way to lift the monsoon gloom than watching some great comedies. The films offer a wonderful opportunity to see how humour works in different cultures."

Besides watching these films, the festival will also give audiences the opportunity to access ancillary promotions, guest speakers, trivia sessions and DVD giveaways.

The festival has been designed to draw working audiences and students alike, with five best comedy movies from around the world. The movies that will be screened include the romantic comedy Gone with the Woman (Norwegian), The President's Barber (Korean), which is a festival favourite, The Caiman (Italian), Dr. Plonk (English), a sci-fi tribute to silent cinema of the '20s, and After You (French).

The following is the event schedule:

Gone with the Woman, Norwegian Film with English Subtitles (Col - 82 mins - 2007)

Saturday, 10th - 6.30 pm

A wryly gentle comedy about first love and who wears the pants in a relationship. A young man's life is suddenly invaded by the beautiful Marianne, who moves into his house out of the blue and turns his life upside-down. Gone with the Woman is about a young man's exploration of love and women, and his attempt to understand both these forces. Winner of the Discovery Award for Best Film at the 2007 Hollywood Film Festival.

Director: Petter Næss

Cast: Trond Fausa Aurvåg, Marian Saastad Ottesen, Peter Stormare, Henrik Mestad and Louise Monot

The President's Barber, Korean Film with English Subtitles (Col - 116 mins - 2004)

Sunday, 11th - 6.30 pm

A scathing political satire set in the 1970s, a turbulent period in South Korean history. Despite being ignorant about politics, a barber unwittingly finds himself caught in the midst of a number of historical events. The debut film from director Lim Chan-sang, The President's Barber won the Audience Award at the 2004 Tokyo International Film Festival.

Director: Lim Chan-sang

Cast: Kang-ho Song, So-ri Moon, Jae-eung Lee and Jo Yeong-jin

The Caiman, Italian Film with English Subtitles (Col - 107 mins - 2006)

Monday, 12th - 6.30 pm

Bruno Bonomo is a B-grade movie producer struggling to raise the funds for his film The Return of Christopher Columbus. Burdened with debts, a floundering marriage and errant kids, his life is a mess. Destiny introduces him to a script called The Caiman, which revolves around Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. Bruno's desire to make this film is the only thing that keeps him afloat as his life falls apart.

Director: Nanni Moretti

Cast: Silvio Orlando, Margherita Buy, Jasmine Trinca, Michele Placido, Elio de capitani and Nanni Moretti

Dr. Plonk, English Film (B&W - 81 mins - 2007)

Tuesday, 13th - 6.30 pm

In 1907 Dr. Plonk accidentally discovers that the world will end in 101 years, and builds a time machine to transport him to the future. However the future is like nothing he had ever imagined. Improbable chase sequences, time travel, speeding trains and misadventures of the silliest kind abound in Rolf de Heer's a highly enjoyable black-and-white comic caper, a homage to the silent cinema of the 1920's.

Director: Rolf De Heer

Cast: Nigel Lunghi, Paul Blackwell and Magda Szubanski

After You, French Film with English Subtitles (Col - 104 mins - 2003)

Wednesday, 14th - 6.30 pm

An irresistible comedy about a good deed gone haywire. Antoine saves Louis from committing suicide, but Louis, suffering from a broken heart, doesn't want to be saved. To make amends, Antoine goes in search of the source of Louis's heartbreak - the delightful Blanche. But Antoine didn't plan on falling in love with Blanche, and now he is in more trouble than ever.

Director: Pierre Salvadori

Cast: Daniel Auteuil, José Garcia, Sandrine Kiberlain , Marilyne Canto and Michèle Moretti

Admission on a first-come-first-served basis.

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Ministry of DoNER to sponsor visit of Shillong Chamber Choir to China

File picture of Shillong Chamber Choir performing during an earlier visit to China on June 27, 2009.
File picture of Shillong Chamber Choir performing during an earlier visit to China on June 27, 2009.

The Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER) has decided to sponsor the visit of the popular Shillong Chamber Choir to China for a competition later this month.


The choir has been selected to participate in an International Music Competition to be held in Shaoxing, China from July 21-26.


The decision to sponsor the choir's visit is part of an initiative by Minister for DoNER B K Handique to encourage the visits of cultural troupes from the region to different Asian countries to foster cultural exchanges and youth promotion, an official press release said here today.


It said the Ministry would take care of all the financial support pertaining to the travel, accommodation and other expenses of the choir during the visit


Mr Handique said he was hopeful that the choir would showcase the rich musical tradition of the North-East Region at the competition.


Photo: Courtesy website of the Embassy of India, Beijing


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