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Idea Cellular to sponsor Filmfare Awards again

Idea Filmfare logo
Idea Filmfare logo

Worldwide Media Pvt Limited, the joint venture between the Times of India Group and BBC Worldwide, today announced the continuation of its long-term sponsorship agreement on the Filmfare Awards with mobile operator Idea Cellular Ltd.

This will be the second year of association for Idea with the Filmfare Awards, which are given annually for excellence in Indian cinema by Filmfare, the movie magazine produced by Worldwide Media.

The 55th Idea Filmfare Awards are scheduled to be presented on February 27 at the Yashraj Studios in Mumbai.

As in previous years, the nominees for the awards in various categories will be chosen through an audience poll.

According to the Times Group, the response has been overwhelming this year with audiences voting through postal mail, mobile and online media. Fifty per cent weightage will be given to polling results and equal weightage to a specially-appointed panel of judges.

"It’s time, once again, for the biggest awards show of the film industry – the Idea Filmfare Awards. We will raise a toast, as we have for the last 55 years, to the immense talent of our film industry. We have had a successful partnership with Idea Cellular and, along with them, hope to make the Awards show even bigger this year," Mr Tarun Rai, Chief Executive Officer, Worldwide Media Pvt Ltd. said at a press conference today.

Mr Rai said 111 films had qualified this year and awards would be given in 37 categories, with no news categories added this year.

Mr. Pradeep Shrivastava, Chief Marketing Officer, Idea Cellular said, "Brand Idea always associates with champion ideas to offer unique user experience, and entertainment, to our 58 million subscribers, across India. Our continued association with the prestigious Idea Filmfare Awards is a testimony of the brand’s promise to offer the best-in-class entertainment, through our reach and connect with the audience, across the length and breadth of the country. This year again, IDEA will bring stars and the best of movies, closer to our customers, through the 55th Idea Filmfare Awards."

Film actor Asin flanked by Tarun Rai, Chief Executive Officer, Worldwide Media Pvt Ltd. and Pradeep Shrivastava, Chief Marketing Officer, IDEA Cellular at the 55th Idea Filmfare Conference.
Film actor Asin flanked by Tarun Rai, Chief Executive Officer, Worldwide Media Pvt Ltd. and Pradeep Shrivastava, Chief Marketing Officer, IDEA Cellular at the 55th Idea Filmfare Conference.

Actress Asin Thottumkal was also present at the event. She has won three Filmfare awards in three different languages. "My association with Filmfare has been a long one. It was the first film magazine that I knew," she remarked.

A press release said Idea would offer rich content on the mobile platform around the Idea Filmfare Awards for its 58 million subscribers. It will also introduce a range of value-added service (VAS) products and contests, specially designed around Bollywood and cinema. Idea contest winners will get to attend the awards ceremony, sitting alongside Bollywood’s celebrities. Select customers will also get to meet and Bollywood stars, as part of the brand association with Filmfare.

Worldwide Media is a 50:50 joint venture owned by the Times of India group and BBC Worldwide. Apart from Filmfare, it publishes Femina, a magazine for women. More recently, it has launched the UK auto magazine BBC TopGear in India. Idea Cellular is part of the Adiya Birla Group.

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V K Murthy chosen for Dada Saheb Phalke Award

File photo of V. K. Murthy.
File photo of V. K. Murthy.

Legendary cinematographer V K Murthy, who has provided Indian cinema audiences with some of the most memorable and breathtaking visual treats in the black-and-white era, has been chosen for the prestigious Dada Saheb Phalke Award for the year 2008.

The award is conferred every year by the Government of India for outstanding contributions to films and is based on the recommendations of a committee of eminent persons.

Mr Murthy, 87, is the first cinematographer to have been selected for the award. Dada Saheb Phalke, a pioneer of the Indian film industry, himself was a cinematographer who had photographed his pioneering feature film "Raja Harishchandra".

Mr Murthy is credited with breaking new grounds, ushering in modern and highly sophisticated techniques and bringing in rich visual artistry into Indian cinema.

He shot India's first cinemascope movie "Kagaz ke Phool" and is best remembered as the cinematographer for all of film-maker Guru Dutt's films. He is also one of the pioneers of colour cinematography in India. His picturisation of the title song of "Chaudhvin ka Chand" had left cinegoers mesmerised.

Mr Murthy, who started his career in cinema as a violinist, won the Filmfare Awards for movies such as "Kagaz ke Phool" and "Sahib, Bibi aur Ghulam".

Other films for which he wielded the camera include "Baazi", "Jaal", "Pyasa", "12 o'clock" and "Ziddi". He also partnered for "Pakeezah" and "Razia Sultan".

In a career spanning four decades, he also worked for Shyam Benegal's television series "Bharat Ek Khoj" and "Hoova Hannu" in Kannada. He has been an inspirationfor a whole generation of cinematographers.

Born in 1923 in Mysore, Mr Murthy earned his Diploma in Cinematography from S J Polytechnic, Bangalore in its very first batch 1943-46. As a student, he took part in India’s freedom struggle, was jailed in 1943 and is a recipient of freedom fighter’s pension. After nearly five decades in Mumbai, the ace cinematographer is now based in Bangalore. He is a recipient of the IIFA Lifetime Achievement Award at Amsterdam in 2005.

Mr Murthy will be the 56th recipient of the Dada Saheb Phalke Award. The award for a particular year is given along with the National Film Awards.

President Pratibha Patil will confer the award on Mr Murthy on a day to be announced soon. The award carries a cash prize of Rs 10 lakh, a Swarna Kamal and a shawl.

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"3 Idiots" grosses Rs 315 crore in 19 days

A still from the movie '3 Idiots'.
A still from the movie '3 Idiots'.

The makers of Bollywood blockbuster "3 Idiots" today said the Raju Hirani film, starring Aamir Khan, R. Madhavan, Sharmaan Joshi, Omi Vaidya and Kareena Kapoor, had grossed more than Rs 315 crore ($ 70 million) in the first 19 days worldwide.

Produced by Vidhu Vinod Chopra, the film had broken all the previous box office records for Indian films, a press release issued by its distributors, Reliance Big Pictures, a part of the Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group (ADAG), said.

More than 60 million people have watched the film in theatres and the numbers are only growing, the release said.

It said more people had watched "3 Idiots" in two weeks than any other film so far. It quoted trade expert Taran Adarsh as saying, "3 Idiots is unstoppable. That’s the truth. No distributor, no trade expert can predict the business of this film."

The release said that in India the second week occupancy of "3 Idiots" fell by a mere 28 per cent, indicating a very strong word of mouth for the film.

It said most multiplexes had added 14 to 21 new shows in the second week compared to first week with 150 additional shows.

According to the release, in the overseas market also "3 Idiots" has beaten past records of all earlier Indian films to emerge as the new benchmark for the Indian film industry in the overseas box office.

The film is the highest grossing Indian film ever to release in the United States, the Middle East, Australia, South Africa, Pakistan, Kenya and Fiji, beating all previous records.

The film in UK has retained its position in the top 10 films at the British Box Office and is also Aamir Khan’s biggest grosser so far and the highest box office grosser of 2009. The screen count in the US has increased by 25% by the third week, it said.

"As a member of the team, I am so happy with the kind of success that the film is achieving. Thanks to Raju, for making the film so well, to Vinod for doing such a great job as a producer and to Reliance Big Pictures for the kind of release they gave the film," Aamir Khan said.

Chopra said he was thrilled and humbled that so many people all over the world had loved the film. "It proves true Rancho's mantra: chase excellence and success will follow," he said, referring to the main character in the movie.

Reliance Big Entertainment Chairman Amit Khanna said the movie had opened new vistas for the Indian film industry. "The huge response across continents reinforces our belief that a well-made, well-exploited film can still create magic in the darkened auditorium."

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MIFF 2010 to be held in Mumbai from February 3-9

M.I.F.F 2010 logo
M.I.F.F 2010 logo

The 11th edition of MIFF, the Mumbai International Film Festival for Documentary, Short and Animation Films will be held at the National Centre for the Performing Arts (NCPA) here from February 3-9.

Mr Kuldeep Singh, Chief Producer of the Films Division, the organiser of the event, and Festival Director told a press conference here today that MIFF had come a long way since it started in 1990 and was now rated among the world's best and largest documentary film festivals.

"It has now gained recognition on par with renowned International Film Festivals like Leipzig, Berlin, Oberhausen, Krakow and Tampere," he remarked.

From this year's edition onwards, the International and the Indian Competition Sections have been merged into one Competitive Section.

“Indian documentary producers have now achieved high level of creative as well as technical excellence, to compete with the best in the world," Mr Singh said.

He said the award money has been enhanced in each category and the total award money now stood at Rs 22.75 lakhs. The best short film / documentary (upto 30 minutes) will be awarded a Golden Conch and Rs 3,00,000 cash prize. Another Golden Conch and Rs 3,00,000 award will be given to the best film/ documentary over 30 minutes duration. There are also awards for best animation film, fiction film and student’s film.

The Government of Maharashtra’s Dadasaheb Phalke Chitranagari will give a Trophy and Rs 1,00,000 for best debut film of a director.

The Dr V Shantaram Lifetime Achievement Award will be awarded to an Indian film maker for his or her contribution to the documentary film movement.

Apart from Competition Section, there will be screening of Retrospectives and Special packages, Spectrum India, Seminars and Open Forum during MIFF 2010.

In Retrospectives & Special Packages, there will be jury’s retrospectives, women packages, Oscar nominated films, films on immigration issues, environment, global warming, cinema legends and icons of Indian Freedom Movement.

In Country Focus, films from Bhutan, and Argentina will be screened. The Students' Package will see films from L.V. Prasad Institute, Chennai, SRFTII, Kolkata, and NID, Ahmedabad. Other sections include films from North East India, treasure from the National Film Archives of India (NFAI), Puppet Films and lots more.

National Film Archives of India, Pune will also stage a unique show of pre-cinema projection technique called ‘Shambharik Kharolika’ or the magic lantern.

Mr Singh said MIFF had received a record 864 entries from 37 countries this year. The Selection Committee, consisting of eminent film makers, journalists and critics, had previewed the films, the total duration of which crosses more than 400 hours.

Of these, 64 films have been selected for the Competition Section and 43 films have been selected for the Non-Competition Section.

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"3 Idiots" grosses Rs 93 crore in opening weekend

A still from the movie '3 Idiots'.
A still from the movie '3 Idiots'.
Rajkumar Hirani's "3 Idiots" has achieved an all-time high of a worldwide theatrical gross of Rs 93 crore for the opening weekend, its distributors said today.

Reliance Big Pictures, a part of the Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group (ADAG), said this was the highest box office opening for an Indian film worldwide.

It said the collections in the first four days, from Friday till today, were more than Rs 100 crores.

According to it, the film, starring Aamir Khan and Kareena Kapoor in the main leads, released in 2126 screens worldwide. It was also the biggest overseas release for a Hindi feature film, with 366 screens in 32 countries.

It said the gross of Rs 93 crore was the highest for the opening weekend in the history of Indian cinema.

Big Pictures said it was delighted with the reception that the film, produced by Vidhu Vinod Chopra, had got across the globe.

"We are stunned and delighted with the collections so far. The word of mouth for the film is something that I don't know I've ever seen in this business before," Kamal Gianchandani, Head India distribution, Reliance Big Pictures, said.

"I think it is the must-see film event of recent memory. This film is going to keep running and running over a long period of time. ‘3 Idiots’ is a game changer in many ways and we are convinced, it will finish its run at the box office with a record breaking set of numbers," he said.

Chopra said the response to the film had been overwhelming everywhere. "Aamir, Raju and I knew from the responses earlier on that people liked the film but this is something else... We have got reports from places like Australia that they have reduced 'Avatar' shows and increased ours," he said.

Based on Chetan Bhagat's novel, "Five Point Someone", 3 Idiots is an entertaining movie about three friends at an engineering college (Aamir, R Madhavan and Sharman Joshi) built around the theme of self-actualisation. Through witty lines and funny situations, the film takes a hard and incisive look at the education system in the country, which lays emphasis on marks and ranks, leaving hardly any time and space for real learning. Much of the film has been shot at the picturesque Indian Institute of Management Bangalore (IIMB) campus.

Others in the cast include Boman Irani, Parikshit Sahni, Omi Vaidya, Javed Jaffrey and Mona Singh.

Other credits include:

Screenplay: Rajkumar Hirani, Abhijat Joshi and Vidhu Vinod Chopra

Music: Shantanu Moitra

Lyrics: Swanand Kirkire

Cinematography: C.R. Muraleedharan

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Benegal to chair panel on upgradation of National Film Awards

The first meeting of the Expert Committee set up by the Goverment to suggest measures for the upgradation of the National Film Awards (NFA) was held here today and members chose eminent film-maker Shyam Benegal as their Chairman.

The meeting also decided that the committee would submit its recommendations by March 15, 2010 to be able to make qualitative changes for NFA 2009.

Union Minister of Information and Broadcasting Ambika Soni told the committee that the Government was looking forward to its recommendations so that a revamped National Film Awards 2009 could be presented for the public at large.

She urged the members to lay out a time schedule so that the National Film Awards become an annual fixture. She said every effort must be made to lay out a proper, democratic and transparent procedure so that litigation is minimised, if not completely avoided, so as not to derail the schedule as happened in the recent past.

Members of the committee acknowledged that the National Film Awards carried a dignity and importance not rivalled by another awards in the industry because they gave due recognition to pan-Indian cinema.

They suggested that, keeping in view the technological advancements, more categories in the Awards recognising newer professional fields, newer formats such as digital format and newer media should be recognised. They were also of the view that a two-tier jury – regional and then national level jury should be appointed to do justice to the language nuances/regional significance.

The members also suggested that in keeping with the earlier recommendations of the Satyajit Ray Committee and Karanth Committee reports, a "Chalchitra Academy" should be established. Increase in the cash reward of the Awards and rationalizing the Censor procedures were also discussed.

Apart from Mr Benegal, others present at today's meeting were Ashok Vishwanathan, Jahnu Baruah, Mohan Agashe, Nagesh Kuknoor, Rajiv Mehrotra, Shaji Karun, Vishal Bhardwaj, Sai Paranjapye and Sharmila Tagore. Senior officials of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and Directorate of Film Festivals were also present.

This Committee shall make recommendations regarding up gradation of National Film Awards for Feature, Non-Feature and Best writing on Cinema and the Dada Saheb Phalke Award and the resultant changes to be made in the Regulations thereto.

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Photo exhibition at NGMA on Bhutan Dec 23-Jan 31


The National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA) and the Indo-Bhutan Foundation have jointly organised an exhibition called "Bhutan: An Eye to History" which documents the early photographic records of the Himalayan kingdom and its close ties with India since the historic treaty of 1949 between the two countries.


The exhibition, which will open tomorrow and run until January 31 (except on Mondays), also has a premiere showing of the photographic work of King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuk, the present King of Bhutan, who will be on a state visit to India this week.


A press release from the Ministry of External Affairs said the intensive research for the exhibition from several private archives also yielded surprise photographic data.


One section of the exhibition deals with the history of photography in Bhutan, showcasing rare pictures from the 19th and early 20th century.


The images, recording the British Mission headed by Mr Ashley Eden to Bhutan in 1864, have never been displayed before. Photographs of Bhutan's first King Ugyen Wangchuk to Calcutta in 1906 and to attend the Delhi Durbar of 1911 are amongst the important archival photographs being exhibited for the first time.


"The use of the photographic image to create a national narrative has several parallels across the world, but to include friends of the nation in this narrative seems to have been enthusiastically imbibed by successive generations of photographers, both in India and Bhutan," the release said.


It said the collection focuses closely upon the visits of political leaders from India to Bhutan and the reciprocal journeys made by Bhutanese leaders to India. The selection of images looks at the genre of documentary and press photographs and the slot created by them in the official narrative of nations.


"The democratizing lens of the camera goes on to capture Bhutan as it steps into the new century and is increasingly visible as the newest entrant to the world’s democracies," it said.

The final section displays the debut photographic oeuvre of King Jigme Khesar. Popularly known as the People's King, he has traversed the length and breadth of his country, often by foot.


"His photographs are both an objective record and personal testimony of his empathy and engagement with his nation. Bhutan remains an idyll, and these transparent pictures are not airbrushed with sentimentality or morphed to disguise lurking shadows," it said.

The exhibition has been curated by Pramod Kumar K G with support from Lily Wangchhuk and Namita Gokhale.

The Indo Bhutan Foundation is co-chaired by Mr Pavan K. Varma, Indian Ambassador to Bhutan, and General V. Namgyal, Bhutanese Ambassador to India.


The exhibition is also supported by the Public Diplomacy Division, Ministry of External Affairs, the release added.


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Peace is the only way, say children as theatre festival ends

Children from across the world writing peace messages on the White T-shirts of each others, signalling the culmination of the 10th International Children's Festival of Performing Arts organised by Ryan Foundation in New Delhi.
Children from across the world writing peace messages on the White T-shirts of each others, signalling the culmination of the 10th International Children's Festival of Performing Arts organised by Ryan Foundation in New Delhi.

More than 5000 children from 30-odd countries painted peace messages on each other's white T-shirts as the 10th International Children's Festival of Performing Arts drew to a close here yesterday evening.

"There's no way to peace. Peace is the only way," was the message written on the T-shirt of one of the participants, summing up what the participants at the festival tried to convey with their plays, dances and songs during the four-day event, organised by the Ryan Foundation.

The T-shirt signing ceremony was held at the National Bal Bhavan here and there were many inspiring messages. "Love from Finland," said one. "Peace lies inside, Hello from Russia", said another. Children like Gaurav Bharadwaj, a student from S.t Joseph's School, Kamboli, flitted from group to group, getting as many of his newly-made friends as possible to fill up his T-shirt with messages.

"Nobody likes terror, and we as Israelis know how bad it is," said Shany, an Israeli participant as she discussed how terrorism was now a global phenomenon. "There needs to be unity against terrorism, and the Mumbai attacks, where foreigners including Israelis were targeted shows that it is a global menace."
Asked how such events helped in creating unity and peace, another Israeli participant, Eliko Levi, said, "It may seem surprising but some of the best friends I have made here are Pakistanis and Iranians. We danced all night together and made plans of making our own government see reason so that there are no troubles between us."

Bubbly youngsters from St.Xaviers, Mumbai, spoke with the Latvians and recounted the number of foreign delegates they had befriended during the event. Saurabh, Shefali and Rahul talked about their new friends from Finland and Romania.

"By performing our street plays and watching their dances and plays, we got to make new friends and through them we can make more friends. I am sure this understanding can effect a salutary change in the global scenario," said Drishti, from Mumbai.

Those who had been here earlier said they were excited to meet their old friends. "This annual experience has enabled us make true friends across borders and in diverse cultures", was the common refrain of the students.
Ryan Foundation Managing Director Grace Pinto said this was just the beginning of a "unique journey". She hoped that everyone would return with beautiful memories. The girls from Sri Lanka were enthusiastic about their travel plans as they talked about going around Delhi and even visit the Taj Mahal.

"I have been here four times but some of the new girls want to see the Taj Mahal. I always look forward to shopping at Sarojini Nagar," said Sadhani. Israeli participant Coral also said she was looking forward to a trip to the Taj Mahal. "We have heard that it is breathtaking."
"This is how cultural peace is maintained through friendship," said another Sri Lankan delegate, Chadamini. The team from Zambia felt what made this festival unique and exciting was the perfect organization and care given to all participants. This was the fourth time Harrison Muleya had come for the event. He said Indian culture and hospitality ensured he kept coming over and over again.

To show how moved the delegates were, one of the participants from Zambia, Linda, has decided to stay till January with her host family, as they invited her to stay with them for Christmas.

The director of the Romanian group, Prof Adriana Codreanu, said, "After performing in 63 international festivals, including, Turkey, Jordan and Morocco, performing in India is different because children get the opportunity to stay with the host families. This exposes them to life here, and the people, whereas staying in hotels is same everywhere."

Clearly, there were many stories to tell, but for most of the children, it was time for pack-up.

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Romanian treats on an Indian platter

Two groups of Romanian schoolchildren enthralled audiences here with a scintillating, high-voltage rendition of Bollywood numbers at the ongoing 10th International Children's Festival of Performing Arts.

The two groups, choir "Allegreto" and dancers "As", stood out with their flawless performance based on the festival themes of peace, unity and hope.

Romanian dance group.

One of the highlights was composer A R Rahman's Oscar award-winning composition "Jai Ho" from Slumdog Millionaire.

The show started with "Nanhe Munne Bachche" from Boot Polish and as they joyfully sang, "Mutthi mein hai taqdir hamari", everyone in the audience could not but help marvel at their immaculate pronunciation.

Allegreto began in 1974 and has so far performed in 63 international festivals in 18 different languages. It has its own repertory of more than 84 songs, mostly based on friendship and peace. They have performed on stages such as the National Opera from Athens, Greece,Venice and Bari, Italy and BBC TV studios at Istanbul.

"Although we have performed in many countries, including Turkey and Morocco, this is special as it is the first time we are performing here," Prof Adriana Codreanu, the director of the performance, said.

Some of the Romanian participants at the festival are being hosted by families of the sudents of the Ryan schools in the capital.

"All Indian people are like mothers, very warm-hearted. Staying with the families helps the children connect with the life of the people here, unlike staying in hotels, which is same everywhere," Prof Codreanu said.

For Jai Ho, Allegreto and As performed together. "It took me three weeks to learn the words ‘Jai Ho’, and while staying with the host family here, I also learned the meaning of the words," said Amal, one of the singers.

The dance group "As", meaning "the best", left the audience spellbound as they did the Bhangra to perfection on the song, "Dil bole haddipa", while simultaneously mouthing the lyrics. This made the performance an interesting mix, truly making it a Romanian delicacy on an Indian platter.

The general manager of the group, Chirita Gherasim, in his speech at the beginning of the show, decided to speak in Romanian for two reasons: he wanted the Indian audience to hear his language, and he also wanted to honour the presence of the Romanian ambassador, Valerica Epure. This symbolised the essence of this event. "As we take pride in our own cultures, it is important to appreciate others and to recognize ourselves as not only citizens of a nation but that of one world," he said.

In January 2007, children from Allegretto and their masters were awarded with a special prize as "Ambassadors of Romania's Culture".

A teenaged member of Allegretto, Mada, said, "Music is an international language. It is an important way to communicate feelings."

Romanian dance group.
Romanian dance group.

When asked how they thought music could unite people and lead to world peace, another young girl Hanaan said, "I’ll give you an example, today in the bus we and the Indian kids together sang Jai Ho, just like that. We are not different."

The festival was inaugurated on December 16 by Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal.

The festival aims at helping the children to transcend physical and cultural barriers to come together in one common spirit, performing arts being the medium.

The festival has been organised jointly by Ryan Foundation, National Bal Bhavan and Indian Council for Cultural Relations.

The four-day event has over 5,000 children from countries like Pakistan, Iran, Israel, Latvia, Nigeria, Nepal, Pakistan, Romania, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Turkey, Zambia, Finland, Indonesia, Italy, Switzerland and Thailand, apart from the various states of India.

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Pakistani children winning hearts at Delhi theatre festival

Pakistani children performing a play at the International Children's Festival of Performing Arts at the Pyarelal Stadium here.
Pakistani children performing a play at the International Children's Festival of Performing Arts at the Pyarelal Stadium here.

A group of schoolchildren from Pakistan is tugging at the hearstrings of audiences at the 10th International Children's Festival of Performing Arts with not just their theatrical talent but, more importantly, a powerful message that enmity is a scourge and friendship a noble pursuit.

"People don’t differ, just signboards do," says Ayesha Khalid from Mandwa Theatre, one of the two groups from Pakistan at the four-day event that began yesterday, bringing together schoolchildren from several countries across the globe.

Mandwa Theatre presented the play, Power vs Intelligence, directed by Tipu Sultan. The other group from Pakistan is the Punjab Theatre.

The festival has been organised by the Ryan Foundation in association with the National Bal Bhavan and the Indian Council of Cultural Relations (ICCR).

The Pakistani children want to do their bit to foster closer ties between their country and India and are convinced that theatre can be a powerful tool to help reduce the trust deficit between the two South Asian neighbours. They also hope that their performances will help dispel some of the negative images that people have about Pakistan.

"Performing arts is a medium without a language barrier so it is useful for communicating the universal message of peace," said Meeran Kazmi, a member of the Punjab Theatre Group.

The Pakistani delegates feel strongly that such festivals play an important role in opening up their country and their culture to the rest of the world.

"Through the media and other sources, people get a distorted image of Pakistan that we are all terrorists, whereas terrorists are non-State actors. Through such festivals we show the real image of Pakistan. We are with the world and not lagging behind," said Meeran.

Punjab Theatre is presenting a play titled "Bezubaan", directed by Rukhsana Khan."The storyline is based on animal rights with a broader perspective, even human rights", says Meeran, who is playing a peacock in the play.

"All animal characters in the play are not merely animals, but are used as symbols of classes in our society as well," she said.

Her brother, Taimur Kazmi, who plays the role of a lion in the play, has invited an Israeli delegate to visit Pakistan and says all the delegates are welcome to his home.

Pakistani children performing a play at the International Children's Festival of Performing Arts at the Pyarelal Stadium here.
Pakistani children performing a play at the International Children's Festival of Performing Arts at the Pyarelal Stadium here.

There was a buzz of excitement as the Pakistani children talked about their plays, the ongoing festival and their experience so far in Delhi.

Nineteen-year-old Risham, for instance, was all smiles as she showed off her hair braids which she got from Dilli Haat and discussed shopping plans at Janpath.

She, and her friends from the group, said they felt completely at home in Delhi – whether it was bargaining with the shopkeepers or doing the bhangra to the Indian drum. Like teenage girls anywhere in the world, Meeran and Risham are looking forward to shopping in Delhi and their two-day-long trip to Amritsar, where they will be performing again.

In keeping with the spirit of the festival, these youngsters have been mingling with other delegates, exchanging notes on their culture and history.

Dressed in a saree, Israeli delegate Shani was welcomed into the conversation as she said Namaste and struck a pose. Risham took the lead and taught a few steps of Bhangra. In return, Shani taught them a few words in Hebrew.

"Wouldn’t it be great to have a name like Ambassador of Peace, peace being the family name," Risham asked.

The next two days will see performances at the festival by Israeli group Yoram Loewenstein Acting School (Second Life), South Korea’s Edu-Art and Therapy Cotbbat (Paper Window), Iran’s New Experience Theatre (I can’t, we can) and Finland’s Youth Theatre Floppi F Raasi (Dawn Breaks).

Over 5,000 children from 30 countries are participating in the four-day festival that was opened by Union Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal yesterday.

The first day saw a peace march and participants painted their thoughts on a Global Bus for Peace. The high point was a performance by students from all countries based on A R Rahman’s Vande Mataram.

Students of Ryan International schools in the Delhi region are performing street plays and dances to add to the rich experience that the festival is offering.

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International Children's Festival of Performing Arts from Wednesday

About 5000 schoolchildren from India and abroad will participate in the 10th International Children's Festival of Performing Arts which will begin here tomorrow with the aim of spreading the message of peace, harmony and unity.

The four-day event will see children from countries such as Pakistan, Iran, Israel, Latvia, Nigeria, Nepal, Pakistan, Romania, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Turkey, Zambia, Finland, Indonesia, Italy, Switzerland and Thailand share the stage with Indian schoolchildren.

IsraelPakistanSouth Korea
The different dance groups from Israel, Pakistan and South Korea.

In all, about 250 productions -- featuring theatre, dance and puppetry -- from different countries and diverse cultures will be presented at the festival, which is organised jointly by Ryan Foundation in association with National Bal Bhavan and the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR).

The festival, one of the largest such children's events in Asia, will be inaugurated by Union Minister of Human Resource Development Kapil Sibal. Indian tennis ace Mahesh Bhupati is also slated to lend his presence to the event.

One of the high points of the festival will be a bus signifying world peace. The children will paint it to give expression to their feelings, a press release issued by the organisers said. The bus will be later driven around the city. The theme of the festival is, "I can, I will".

Russia
Russia

Tomorrow, the children will participate in an opening parade from Jantar Mantar here to the National Bal Bhavan, walking hand in hand, with the flags of their nations held high. Circus jugglers, acrobats and other entertainers will be part of this march.

"This international event will inspire not only the participating children from around the world but also others and make them work for the cause of peace and harmony," Ryan Foundation Managing Director Grace Pinto said.

She said a number of under-privileged children are also participating in this year's event. "Over the years, the festival is growing with the expectations of our participants and I am happy that it is entering its tenth year," she said.

Ms Pinto said the festival was aimed at bringing children from around the world under one roof and make them perform on a single platform.

"I hope children of Delhi will enjoy the performances and learn various cultures," she added.

Among those participating in the festival are two groups from Pakistan, Punjab Theatre and Mandwa Theatre. Punjab Theatre has been working for the cause of promoting serious, issue-based and meaningful theatre at the grass-root level. Mandwa Theatre has been working towards a gradual change in the system in Pakistan.

Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka

Other international participants include All Steps from Switzerland, New Experience Theatre from Iran, Siniy Crab International Theatre from Russia and Moradokomai Theatre Group from Thailand.

The Allegreto - Romanian National Choir will perform an ode to Beautiful India while the Visha School of Dance from Sri Lanka and TDA Zelta Sietins from Latvia will stage folk dances from their countries.

Students of the Ryan International Schools in the Delhi region will perform international dances from across the globe.

The events will be held at four venues - the National Bal Bhavan, the Little Theatre Group, Pearey Lal Bhavan and the Shri Ram Centre.

Ryan Foundation had organised the National Children's Theatre Festival in 2000 with lperformances from within India. In 2002, Ryan was selected to perform at the 5th Amateur Theatre Festival in Tangier, Morocco, which inspired the foundaiton to organise an international event, which it did in 2003 and has been hosting every year since.

According to Mr Utkarsh Marwah, the festival was aimed at promoting the spirit of unity and brotherhood. "It works towards deepening harmony between countries and exchanging artistic skills," he added.

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Delhi Christian Chorus stages annual Christmas concerts

DCC Director Royall S Mclaren
DCC Director Royall S Mclaren

The Delhi Christian Chorus (DCC) rang in the Christmas season in the capital with its annual concerts "Music for Christmas" at the beautiful Cathedral Church of the Redemption on Sunday evening.

As in the past, the 47-member chorus staged two shows, at 4 pm and 6.30 pm, before packed houses. The chorus was conducted by its director Royall S McLaren, with Lydia Joan Thomas on the piano.

The evening's fare included classical pieces by J S Bach, Giovanni Pergolesi and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, traditional spirituals such as The Cradle Rocks in Glory, an African Noel, a Hindi song, Raat Andheri Door Kahein, and of course, the all-time favourite Silent Night.

Soloist Marilyn Thomas came up with a powerful rendition of Bach's Prepare Thyself Zion (translated into English by Rev J Trontbeck).

Other highlights of the evening included community singing of O Come, All Ye Faithful, We Three Kings and Hark! The Herald Angels Sing and a Jingle Bells spectacular Dashing Through the Snow by James Pierpont.

The Delhi Christian Chorus - Christmas 2009.
The Delhi Christian Chorus - Christmas 2009.

As in every year since 1965, the concert closed with The Lord Bless and Keep You, a sung version of an ancient Hebraic-Christian prayer.

Others who accompanied the singers were Fr Francis Gonsalves on the violin, Christine Marques on the flute, Bazil Jude Rosario on the rhythm guitar, Sony Jacob on bass guitar, Sudhir Devadas on the drums, Samuel Thomas on the keyboard and Grace Chandrasekaran as the guest pianist.

The pianist Lydia Joan Thomas.Flautist Christine Marques and Violinist Fr. Francis Gonsalves.Soloist Marilyn Thomas.
The pianist Lydia Joan Thomas; Flautist Christine Marques and Violinist Fr. Francis Gonsalves; Soloist Marilyn Thomas.

For the DCC, this was its 44th annual concert, having started as a group of enthusiastic singers way back in 1965. The following year it presented its first independent programme of Easter Music under the direction of Dr Richard R Smyth, who was then the Presbyter in-charge of the Centenary Methodist Chruch on Lodi Road.

Since then, the DCC has unfailingly presented three concerts of sacred classical and modern music every year, two at Christmas time and one during the Lent and Easter period.

The Delhi Christian Chorus - Christmas 2009.
The Delhi Christian Chorus - Christmas 2009.

Over the years, the Chorus' repertoire has grown into more than 1000 choral pieces of all kinds -- from the works of traditional, modern, very modern, folk, spiritual and classical composers.

More than anything else, the DCC has also provided a platform for talented singers and musicians. The soloists are drawn from the chorus itself and talented youngsters are given a chance to play the instruments. Membership is voluntary and the singers in the chorus are drawn from various churches of Delhi, across denominations. Over the past 40-odd years, more than 750 singers from all parts of India and many countries have sung for the chorus at different times. Some of the DCC singers are leaders of their church choirs now.

Funds raised by the chorus through patrons, donors and sponsors are given away for charitable purposes to organisations working for the poor, sick, aged and other needy.

After Rev Smyth and his wife Sylvia returned to the United States some years ago, the mantle of leading the DCC has fallen on McLaren.

We three Kings of Orient Are!
We three Kings of Orient Are!

McLaren, 71, did his schooling in Delhi's United Christian School and completed his M.A. in History from St. Stephen's College, University of Delhi.

He was an ardent sportsman in his school days and played in inter-school cricket tournaments in the capital. Later, he was a member of the Indian Airlines cricket team.

McLaren took to music as a hobby in his school days and while still in his first year at college, used to direct the local church choir. He also played the organ in the same church for several years. At one stage, he was singing for seven choirs in Delhi, which meant attending practice sessions almost all days of the week. He also sang for choirs at the international level.

Gold I Bring To Crown Him Again!
Gold I Bring To Crown Him Again!

McLaren says all his knowledge about music is self-taught, having never had the privilege of formal training. But years of experience in sacred music has brought him to this level.

In his professional career, he joined national carrier Indian Airlines as an associate and rose to the rank of Deputy General Manager. His various postings in India and abroad gave him the exposure that today holds him in good stead in his current assignment. Today, he is fully dedicated to Christian music and wants to see the DCC celebrate its Golden Jubilee in six years from now.

The Delhi Christian Chorus -- Christmas Concert 2009.
The Delhi Christian Chorus --the Christmas Concert 2009.

The Easter Concert of the DCC is scheduled for March 28 at the Free Church on Parliament Street in the city.

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Photos courtesy Delhi Christian Chorus.

Govt. sets up panels to revamp National Film Awards, IFFI

The Ministry of Information & Broadcasting has set up two Expert Committees for revamping and upgradation of the National Film Awards and the International Film Festival of India (IFFI).

The Expert Committee for National Film Awards will include Shyam Benegal, Ashok Vishwanathan, Rajiv Mehrotra, Vishal Bhardwaj, Nagesh Kuknoor, Mohan Agashe, Jahnu Baruah, Shaji Karun, Sai Paranjape, Sharmila Tagore and Waheeda Rehman.

The Director of Film Festivals will also be a member while the Joint Secretary (Films), Ministry of Information & Broadcasting will be the Member-Secretary of the Committee.

The Committee shall make recommendations regarding upgradation of National Film Awards for Feature, Non-Feature and Best Writing on Cinema and the Dada Saheb Phalke Award and the resultant changes to be made in the regulations thereto. The Committee shall elect a Chairperson from among the Members in its first meeting, anofficial press release said.

The Committee constituted for IFFI consists of Govind Nihalani, Karan Johar, Pritish Nandy, Prasoon Joshi, Kamal Hasan, A.K.Bir, Laxmikant Shetgaonkar, C.S.Sapra, Shabana Azmi, Pooja Shetty Deora, Kishwar Desai, Maithili Rao and Nandita Das.

The Committee also has Chief Secretary, Government of Goa, which is the permanent venue of IFFI, and the Director of Film Festivals. The Joint Secretary (Films) in the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting will be the Member-Secretary.

The Committee shall make recommendations regarding upgradation of International Film Festival of India on the lines of other reputed International Festivals and the resultant changes to be made in the Regulations thereto. The Committee shall also make recommendations regarding the changes to be made in the selection of Indian Panorama films, both feature and non-feature categories, and resultant changes to be made in the Indian Panorama Regulations. The Committee shall elect a Chairperson from among the Members in the first meeting.

Union Information & Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni had, soon after assuming office earlier this year, said that the National Film Awards, instituted by the Government in 1954, needed to be reinvented as there had been major changes in the aspirations as well as technological growth in film-making.

Similarly, she felt that IFFI needed to be profiled higher to be recognised as one of the best film festivals in the world, compared to those held every year in Cannes, Berlin and other venues.

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Asif Mehdi to perform in Delhi, 3 other cities

Well-known Pakistani singer Asif Mehdi, son of the legendary ghazal maestro Mehdi Hassan, will perform in Delhi for the first time tomorrow along with the renowned Jagjit Singh.

The show has been organised by Routes 2 Roots and the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR). A book of Urdu poetry "Mere Kal ka Savera" by Surinder Malik "Gumnaam" will be released on the occasion.

Asif will also perform alongside other well-known Indian singers in Hyderabad, Lucknow and Amritsar on December 13, 15 and 17. The singer is known to sing in the style made famous by his father and has to his credit successful performances all over the world.

In Hyderabad, Asif will perform with the versatile duo of Bhupinder and Mitali, with Ghulam Sabir in Lucknow and with Ustad Ahmad Hussain and Ustad Mohammed Hussain in Amritsar.

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Taiwanese film "I Can't Live Without You" wins Golden Peacock at IFFI

Governor of Goa, S.S. Sidhu presenting the Golden Peacock to Leon Dai, Director of the film ‘I Can’t Live Without You’ at the closing ceremony of the 40th IFFI-2009 at Panaji, Goa on December 03, 2009.
Governor of Goa, S.S. Sidhu presenting the Golden Peacock to Leon Dai, Director of the film ‘I Can’t Live Without You’ at the closing ceremony of the 40th IFFI-2009 at Panaji, Goa on December 03, 2009.

The Taiwanese film "I Can't Live Without You", directed by Leon Dai, won the coveted Golden Peacock Award for the Best Film at the 40th International Film Festival of India (IFFI 2009) which drew to a close in Goa this evening.

The Silver Peacock for the Best Director went to Ounie Lecomte for the South Korean film "A Brand New Life". The Special Jury Award went to "The Other Bank" from Georgia.

The Golden Peacock Award has a cash prize of Rs 40 lakh. Apart from the Golden Peacock, director Leon Dai received Rs 20 lakh and a certificate from Goa Governor S S Sidhu.

Malayalam superstar Mammootty was the Chief Guest at the closing ceremony, while Union Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting S Jagathrakshakan and Goa Chief Minister Digambar Kamat were amongst those present at the function.

The producer of "I Can't Live Without You" got Rs 20 lakhs and a certificate. The award was collected on his behalf by the lead actorof the film Wen-Pin Chen.

Based on real life characters, the film is the sensitive story of a father and his seven-year-old daughter who face separation due to bureaucratic red tape. The movie revolves around the subtle portrayal of the anxiety and the predicament of the central character and his relentless efforts to ensure that he does not lose his daughter, who is told that her legal guardians are her mother and the man she is legally married to.

The Silver Peacock Award, including a cash element of Rs 15 lakh and a certificate, was presented to Ounie Lecomte, the director of South Korean film for capturing the sentiments of a nine year old girl, given by her father to an orphanage for adoption, and her everlasting hope to see him again.

"The Other Bank", the Special Jury Award winner captures on celluloid the dangerous journey a 12-year boy embarks upon to find his father in the breakaway Republic of Abkhazia in Georgia, an enemy land.

The winners were chosen by a five-member jury from the 15 entries in the Competition Section of the festival from Argentina, Australia, Bangladesh, Brazil, China/UK, Georgia/Kazakhstan, Iran, Mexico, Peru, Philippines, South Korea/France, Sri Lanka and Taiwan as well as two films from India. The competition jury was headed by the noted Brazilian director Joao Batista de Andrade. Other members of the jury were Kenichi Okubu (Japan), Jean-Michel Frodon (France), Sarika (India) and Vic Sarin (Canada).

The 11-day event concluded today with the screening of the Spanish film "The Broken Embraces" directed by Pedro Almodovar.

Chief Guest and renowned film actor Mamooty presenting the Best Director’s award to Ms. Ounie Lecomte for her film ‘A Brand New Life’, at the closing ceremony of the 40th IFFI-2009, at Panaji, Goa on December 03, 2009.
Chief Guest and renowned film actor Mamooty presenting the Best Director’s award to Ms. Ounie Lecomte for her film ‘A Brand New Life’, at the closing ceremony of the 40th IFFI-2009, at Panaji, Goa on December 03, 2009.

Dr Sidhu hoped that IFFI, with Goa now as the permanent venue, would reach the level of the Cannes, Toronto and Berlin Film Festivals. He said cinema was a throbbing medium replicating human hopes and is a commercially viable industry which offers opportunties for artistic and creative engagement as well as for employment.

Mammootty said that the Indian film industry had become big not only in quantity but also in terms of quality. He said cinema had a "human languague" that was spoken by the entire film industry in the country even though it had some diversity in terms of language, culture and tradition.

Mr Kamat said the state government wanted to develop Goa as a hub of the entertainment industry.

The festival had begun on November 23 with the screening of He Ping's "Wheat". In all, 300 films from 47 countries were screened during the festival.

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Amitabh Bachchan starrer "Paa" to release worldwide on Friday

Amitabh Bachchan in the movie 'Paa'.
Amitabh Bachchan in the movie 'Paa'.

"Paa", an Amitabh Bachchan starrer about the relationship between a man and his son who is suffering from progeria, a rare congenital abnormality characterised by premature and rapid aging, will release in 700 screens worldwide tomorrow.

The movie will release in 20 countries, including India, the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Australia, South Africa and New Zealand.

Produced by Amitabh Bachchan Corporation Limited (ABCL) and Sunil Manchanda, "Paa" is distributed by Big Pictures, a part of the Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group (ADAG).

Billed as a sensitive story about the relationship between a father and a son, the film features Amitabh Bachchan as Auro, a 13-year-old boy suffering from progeria. This means that though he is only 13, physically he looks five times older.

The film also stars Abhishek Bachchan as the father of Auro and a young politician. Vidya Balan plays Auro's mother. Others in the film include Paresh Rawal.

The family entertainer has been directed by R Balakrishnan (Balki), who had earlier made Cheeni Kum, also starring Amitabh Bachchan. The music has been scored by Illyaraja while the lyrics are by Swanand Kirkire. The cinematographer is P C Sreeram.

Amitabh Bachchan and Abhishek Bachchan in the movie 'Paa'.
Amitabh Bachchan and Abhishek Bachchan in the movie 'Paa'.

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International Film Festival of India opens in Goa

Chief Guest and noted film actress Waheeda Rehman lighting the lamp to inaugurate the 40th International Film Festival (IFFI-2009) at Kala Academy in Panaji, Goa on November 23, 2009. Union Minister of Information and Broadcasting, Ambika Soni, the Chief Minister of Goa, Digambar V. Kamat, film actress Asin and others are also seen..
Chief Guest and noted film actress Waheeda Rehman lighting the lamp to inaugurate the 40th International Film Festival (IFFI-2009) at Kala Academy in Panaji, Goa on November 23, 2009. Union Minister of Information and Broadcasting, Ambika Soni, the Chief Minister of Goa, Digambar V. Kamat, film actress Asin and others are also seen.

Well-known actress Waheeda Rehman inaugurated the 40th International Film Festival of India (IFFI) at Kala Bhavan in Panaji, Goa, this evening to launch an 11-day extravaganza that will see the screening of nearly 300 films from around the world at 10 venues.

The inaugural ceremony was followed by the screening of the opening film, the Chinese historical drama "Mai Tian" (Wheat) directed by He Ping.

Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni, Goa Chief Minister Digambar V Kamat, actress Asin and actors Nana Patekar and Kabir Bedi were amongst those present at the opening ceremony.

Mai Tian is set in 260 BC when China was mired in a long and bloody war between the Qin and the Zhao that could not be settled for decades. A Chinese warlord's wife led the town's women to guard the city while all the men went away for war. When two soldiers returned claiming to be natives, the true meaning of heroism was put to test.

He Ping was born in Shanghai, China. His earlier films include Kawashima Yoshiko (1989), Red Firecracker, Green Firecracker (1994), The Swordsmen in Double Flag Town (1991), Sun Valley (1995) and Warriors of Heaven & Earth (2004). Wheat (2009) is his most recent film. 

IFFI logo.
IFFI logo.

Nearly 6000 delegates and more than 300 journalists are attending this year's festival. Goa was made the permanent venue of IFFI a few years ago.

The festival has been divided into sections such as Film Programmes, Non-Film Programmes, Film Bazaar, Short Film Centre and Cultural Activities.

Ten auditoria and three preview rooms in Panaji and Margao will be used for the film programmes, the most popular sections of which are competitions for feature films from Asia, Africa, Latin America, Cinema of the World, Tributes, Homages, Retrospectives, Country Focus films, Indian Panorama and specially curated sectors.

The Cinema of the World section this year will showcase more than 55 films from around 47 countries. A specialized competition for feature films from Asia, Asia-Pacific, Latin America and Africa is also being organized. Two Indian entries, Atanu Ghosh’s Bengali film “Angshumaner Chhobi” and Satish Manwar’s Marathi film “Gabricha Paus” have been selected in the “Competition Section” among 13 other films chosen from Bangladesh, Brazil, China, Kazakhstan, Iran, Mexico, Peru, Philippines, South Korea, Sri-Lanka, Taiwan and Argentina.

The Competition jury is headed by noted Brazilian director Joao Batista de Andrade. Other members of the jury include Vic Sarin (Canada), Kenichi Okubu (Tokyo), Sarika (India) and Jean-Michel Frodon (France).

“Film India Worldwide” is another major attraction under this category, which will screen films produced by Non Resident Indians in collaboration with foreign filmmakers. Films from Croatia, Estonia, Italy, and Poland will be screened under the “Country Focus” section.

The films of Gurinder Chadha, Nonzee Nimibutr, Roland Reber and Manoel de Oliveira will be screened under “Foreign Retrospectives”. A special section will showcase renowned French films. Other sections include “War & Peace” and “Digital Section” that will screen a total of 11 films. Besides this, a special tribute would be paid to the much-accomplished Brazilian director as well as the head of the jury de Andrade.

The Indian Section would be under nine different segments with screening of 77 films. The Indian Panorama at IFFI 2009 would present a bouquet of 44 films, 26 feature films and 18 non-feature films. The section would have 6 Bengali, 5 Hindi, 3 Kannada, 3 Marathi, 3 Malayalam, 2 Tamil and one each in Rajasthani, Tulu, Konkani and English.

Three Bengali, 5 English, 4 Hindi, and one film each in Malayalam, Manipuri and Marathi have been chosen for the non-feature films segment.

“Paltadchomanis” (Dir: Laxmikant Shetganokar), a film in Konkani language will be the opening film of the Indian Panorama. The Panorama will be inaugurated by Ms Soni tomorrow.

Films like Angshumaner Chhobi, Antaheen, Dev D, Firaaq, Gabricha Paus, Harishchandrachi Factory are the highlights of the section.

The bouquet of non-feature films includes Bilal (Bengali), What If? (English), Superman of Malegaon (Hindi), Illisa Anagi Mahao (Manipuri) and Kelkkunnundo (Malayalam).

Dot in for Motion (Dir: Anirban Datta, English) will open the Non-Feature Film Section.

The Indian screenings would also feature Golden Jubilee Retros of Asha Parekh - Dil De Ke Dekho & Kati Patang (Hindi), Sharmila Tagore - Apur Sansar (Bengali) & Viruddh (Hindi) and Saumitra Chatterjee - Apur Sansar, Angshumaner Chhobi (Bengali).

The Tribute Section would offer homage to 13 film personalities who have passed away since IFFI 2008 -- Nabendu Chatterjee, Prakash Mehra, Gulshan Bawra, Leela Naidu, Shakti Samanta, Feroz Khan, Murali, A.K. Lohitadas, Rajan P. Dev, Nilu Phule, Bhaskar Chandavarkar, R. Lakshman and Nagesh.

Their films Parashuramer Kuthar (Bengali), Zanzeer (Hindi), Anuradha (Hindi), Aradhana (Hindi), Oonche Log (Hindi), Nizhalkuthu (Malayalam), Bhoothakkannady (Malayalam), Ente Mattykuttyam Makku, Saamna (Marathi), Bangarda Manushya (Kannada) and Server Sundaram (Tamil) will be screened.

Seventy Five years of Assamese Cinema are being celebrated by a special section featuring five films. Assamese film personalities Jahnu Barua, Gyanada Kakoti, Bidya Rao and Manju Bora would be present on the occasion.

Three Telugu musical hits -- Sankarabharanam (Dir: K. Vishwanath), Sagar Sangamam (Dir: K. Vishwanath) and Seethakoka Chilaka (Dir: Bharathi Rajaa) -- will be screened.

As a new initiative, “Goa as Celluloid Destination” has been added. Eight films of various languages shot in Goa will be screened.

The Films Division Section will also present a set of short films/ documentaries based on the Indian music maestros. For the first time, Malegaon industry of remakes gets an international platform with the screening of two of their films – Yeh Hai Malegaon Ka Superman and Gabbarbhai MBBS.

The Indian Premier Section will showcase a selection of eight films. They include “And Once Again” by Amol Palekar, “Red Alert: The War Within” by Ananth Mahadevan, “God Lives in the Himalayas” by Sanjay Srinivas, “Shahrukh Bola Khoobsoorat Hai” by Makran Deshpande and “Zagor“ by Sangramsinh Gaikwad.

Eminent columnist and film writer Kishwar Desai will present an audio visual lecture on Adaptation of Literature in Cinema by screening the film Teesri Kasam (Hindi). Animation and pixilation workshops will also be held.

The National Film Archives of India (NFAI) will exhibit around 300 posters from its collection during the festival. It will also put up a programme on Shambharik Kharolika, pre-cinema gadget that evolved in India 1885 comprising hand painted glass slides. These will be projected with narration, dialogues, lyrics and background music.

NFAI Vintage Musical Hits will feature a package of musical hits TANSEN- Hindi/1943/Jayant Desai, MEERA–Hindi/1945/ Ellis R.Duncan, ANDAZ–Hindi/1949/ Meboob Khan, ANARKALI–Hindi/1953/Nandlal Jaswantlal and GOONJ UTHI SHEHNAI – 1959/Vijay Bhatt.

NFA Gold will showcase Apur Sansar (Bengali) directed by Satyajit Ray and Do Ankhen Barah Haath (Hindi) directed by V. Shantaram.

National Film Development Corporation (NFDC) will organize a Film Bazaar on the sidelines of IFFI- 2009 from tomorrow to November 26. The Bazaar aims at creating opportunities for networking and business for producers, filmmakers and distributors from across the world.

The festival will end on December 3 with the presentation of Golden and Silver Peacock Awards for Best Film and Best Director, the Special Jury Awards as also the Vasudha and Golden Lamp Tree Awards for the short films. Malayalam superstar Mammootty will be the chief guest at the closing ceremony.

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Waheeda Rahman, Mammootty to be chief guests at IFFI 2009

Well-known actress of yesteryears Waheeda Rahman will be the chief guest at the opening ceremony while Malayalam superstar Mamootty will be the chief guest at the closing ceremony of the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) 2009 beginning in Goa on November 23.

Union Minister of Information and Broadcasting Ambika Soni will be present at the opening ceremony at which actress Asin would be a special guest for lighting the ceremonial lamp.

Internationally renowned actor Kabir Bedi and actress Divya Dutta would be the comperes at the opeing ceremony.

According to an official press release, the International Section of the festival includes Cinema of World which would have 55 films from 45 countries. Another important component of the section would be retrospectives of renowened directors Gurinder Chadha, Nonzee Nimabitur, Roland Reber, Joao Batista and Manoel De Olivera.

The continent Focus is Latin America this time and Country Focus would be on Croatia; Italy; Poland; Estonia and France.

Film India Worldwide is another attraction in the cinema of world section, which will showcase films made by Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) in collaboration with foreign filmmakers. There is also a section on Anti War Films.

The International Jury comprises prominent directors/actors/film critics from different part of the world -- Mr. Joao batista de Andrade – Chairman; Mr. Vic Sarin – Canada; Mr. Ken’ichi Okubo – Japan; Mr. Jean-Michel Frodon – France and Ms. Sarika from India.

In addition, as part of Indian Panorama, 26 feature films and 18 non-feature films would be screened. These include films such as Shob Charitro Kalponik (Bengali), Kaminey (Hindi), Harishchandrachi Factory (Marathi), Ijjodu (Kannada), Pasanga (Tamil), Kutty Srank (Malayalam) and Haat The Weekly Bazaar (Rajasthani). The bouquet of non-feature films includes Bilal (Bengali), What If? (English), Superman of Malegaon (Hindi), Illisa Anagi Mahao (Manipuri) and Kelkkunnundo (Malayalam).

The Indian Panorama would open with Paltadcho Manis (Dir: Laxmikant Shetganokar, Konkani) and Dot in for Motion (Dir: Anirban Datta, English).

The Tribute Section would offer homage to 13 film personalities who have passed away since IFFI 2008 -- Nabendu Chatterjee, Prakash Mehra, Gulshan Bawra, Leela Naidu, Shakti Samanta, Feroz Khan, Murali, A.K. Lohitadas, Rajan P. Dev, Nilu Phule, Bhaskar Chandavarkar, R. Lakshman and Nagesh.

Under NFA Gold, films of Satyajit Ray, V. Shantaram and Debaki Kumar Bose which have won the Best Feature Film awards almost half a century ago would be screened.

The 75 years of Assamese Cinema will be celebrated by a special section featuring five films. Assamese film personalities Jahnu Barua, Gyanada Kakoti, Bidya Rao and Manju Bora would be present on the occasion.

For the first time, Malegaon industry of remakes gets an international platform with the screening of two of their films – Yeh Hai Malegaon Ka Superman and Gabbarbhai MBBS.

Under Golden Jubilee Retro section, the sterling contributions of film personalities who have completed 50 years in the industry would be saluted. They are Asha Parekh, Sharmila Tagore and Saumitra Chatterjee. Kamal Hasan’s works will be showcased in February 2010 in Delhi.

Eminent columnist and film writer Kishwar Desai will deliver an audio visual lecture on Adaptation of Literature in Cinema by screening the film Teesri Kasam (Hindi).

The Indian Premier Section will showcase a selection of eight films, including "And Once Again" directed by Amol Palekar, "Red Alert: The War Within" by Ananth Mahadevan, "God Lives in the Himalayas" by Sanjay Srinivas, "Shahrukh Bola Khoobsoorat Hai" by . Makran Deshpande, "Zagor" by Sangramsinh Gaikwad and "Vimukthti" by Sheshadri.

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Paltadacho Munis to open Indian Panorama at IFFI

Konkani film Paltadacho Munis by Laxmikant Shetgaonkar will be the opening film of the Indian Panorama in the 40th International Film Festival of India (IFFI) that will be held in Goa from November 23 to December 3.

In all, the Indian Panorama will have 26 feature films and 18 non-feature films, an official press release said. In for Motion, an English film by Anirban Datta, will be the opening film in the non-feature section.

The feature films in the Panorama include Firaaq by actress-director Nandita Das, Anurag Kashyap's Dev D, Kaminey by Vishal Bhardwaj, Dibakar Banerjee's Oye Lucky-Lucky Oye and Ajiz Khan's The White Elephant, all in Hindi.

There are seven Bengali films: Aainaate by Dulal Dey, Angashumaner Chhobi by Atanu Ghosh, Antaheen by Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury, Dwando by Suman Ghosh, Janala by Buddhadeb Dasgupta and Shob Charitra Kalponik by Rituparno Ghosh.

Sona Jain's For Real (English), Avantika Hari's Land Gold Women (English & Urdu) and Malayalam films Keshu by Sivan and Kutty Shrank by Shaji N Karun are also on the list.

The other feature films in the Panorama are P R Ramadasa Naidu's Beli Matthu Hola, M S Sathyu's Ijjodu, G Murthy's Shankara Punyokoti (all in Kannada), Sumitra Bhave and Sunil Sukhtankar's Ek Cup Chya, Satish Manwar's Gabhrjcha Paus and Paresh Mokashi's Harishchandra Factory (Marathi), Seema Kapoor's Haat the Weekly Bazaar (Rajasthani), Arun Vaidyanathan's Achchamundu Achchamundu, Pandi Raj's Pasanga (Tamil) and Shivadhwaj Shetty's Gaggara (Tulu).

The non-feature films include The First Leap by Haobam Pabankumar, The Latent City by Krishnendu Bose, The Prince and the Crown of Stones by Gautam Benegal and What If? by V K Prakash, all in English.

The others include Bilal by Sourav Sarangi (Bengali and Hindi), Ekti Kaktaliya Golpo by Tathagaba Sinha, I'm the Very Beautiful by Shyamal Kumar Karmakar (both Bengali), Boond by Abhishek Pathak, Chilika Banks by Akanksha Joshi, Kya Main Qafir Hoon by Sandhin Flora (Hindi), Supermen of Malegaon by Faiza Ahmad Khan (Hindi & Urdu), Swayambhu Sen Foresees His End by Debashish Medhkar (Hindi, Malayalam & English), When This Man Dies by Arun Sukumar (Hindi & English), Kelkunnudo by Geetu Mohan Das (Malayalam), Ilisa Amagi Mahao by Nighthouja Lancha in Manipuri, Vitthal byVinno Choliparambil (Marathi) and Nanam Oru Pen by V Ranganathan (Tamil).

The jury for the feature films in the Panorama is headed by film-maker Muzaffar Ali and includes Bobby Bedi, Joseph Pulinthanath, J Mahendran, Gautaman Bhaskaran, Leslie Carvalho and Raja Mitra.

The jury for the non-feature films is headed by Aribam Syam Sharma and includes Paromita Vohra, Pushpesh Pant, Sameer Hanchate and Kapilas Bhuyan.

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President confers 55th National Film Awards

President Pratibha Patil presenting the Dada Saheb Phalke 

Award for the year 2007 to the Playback Singer Manna Dey, at the 55th National Film Awards function, in New 

Delhi on October 21, 2009. Union Minister of Information and Broadcasting Ambika Soni, the Ministers of State 

for Information and Broadcasting, Mohan Jatua and Dr. S. Jagathrakshakan and the Director, Directorate of Film 

Festivals S.M. Khan are also seen.
President Pratibha Patil presenting the Dada Saheb Phalke Award for the year 2007 to the Playback Singer Manna Dey, at the 55th National Film Awards function, in New Delhi on October 21, 2009. Union Minister of Information and Broadcasting Ambika Soni, the Ministers of State for Information and Broadcasting, Mohan Jatua and Dr. S. Jagathrakshakan and the Director, Directorate of Film Festivals S.M. Khan are also seen.

President Pratibha Patil today conferred the 55th National Film Awards for 2007, including the prestigious Dadasaheb Phalke Award for lifetime achievement to eminent playback singer Manna Dey.

In all, 91 awardees received their Swarn and Rajat Kamals, along with cash awards, at the hands of the President at a glittering ceremony at Vigyan Bhavan here.

Speaking on the occasion, Ms Patil said cinema should not only be a source of popular entertainment for families and individuals but also a vehicle of social change.

She said cinema had a deep impact on people as they watched how social evils like child marriage, dowry and drug addiction could destroy lives or how a good deed could bring out the gentler side of human beings.

She said cinema also helped people realise how they could help the disadvantaged and differently-abled to lead lives of dignity.

The President urged the film fraternity to understand this responsibility in its fullest sense.

Making a special mention of award winning child actor Sharad Goyekar for his role in the Marathi film Tingya, she hoped the award would inspire and motivate him to give greater expression to his talent. She also hoped it would inspire the boy and his family to work for good causes with conviction just like the character he has portrayed in the film.

According ot her, it was important for the entertainment sector to include value-based ideals and points of view which could motivate viewers to aspire for higher and nobler goals in their lives.

President Pratibha Patil presenting the Award 

for Best Direction to Adoor Gopalakrishnan for Malayalam film Naalu Pennungal, at the 55th National Film Awards 

function, in New Delhi on October 21, 2009.
President Pratibha Patil presenting the Award for Best Direction to Adoor Gopalakrishnan for Malayalam film Naalu Pennungal, at the 55th National Film Awards function, in New Delhi on October 21, 2009.

Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni said that, for a vast and culturally diverse country like India, it was essential that the cinematic ethos developed into a vibrant medium that cut across language barriers so as to evolve its own common language.

She said the awards had helped to bring many hidden talents to light and also encouraged films that otherwise might, perhaps, not have achieved national recognition.

Ms Soni said a panel of eminent persons would be constituted shortly to propose steps to make the National Film Awards truly reflect the pan-Indian spirit and suggest measures which would reflect the newer developments taking place in the field of cinema.

"There is a need to re-invent the National Film Awards to make them more contemporary," the Minister said.

Those who were honoured today included Priyadarshan, whose film Kanchivaram got the Best Feature Film Award and Prakash Raj, who won the Best Actor Award for his sensible multi-layered portrayal of a weaver caught in a web of silken threads woven by destiny.

Malayalam film-maker Adoor Gopalakrishnan won the Best Director for his feature film "Naalu Pennungal" (Four Women) for his delicate and subtle handling of gender issues in a conventional society. The four women in the movie, of different marital status, are trivialised and subjected to abject neglect by their immediate partners and family.

Umashree was given the Best Actress award for her "heart-rending portrayal of the sorry plight of a wronged woman belonging to a minority community surrounded by an uncaring and hostile society" in the Kannada movie "Gulabi Talkies".

The jury for the awards for Feature Films was headed by well-known director Sai Paranjpye and included 13 other members who went through 92 entries in the category for the 55th National Film Awards.

The Indira Gandhi Award for Best First Film of a Director went to Hindi film "Frozen" produced and directed by Shivajee Chandrabhushan. It was chosen for "bringing to life with warmth and vivacity life in those distant snow-bound heights where existence itself is a full-time challenge."

The award for the Best Popular Film Providing Wholesome Entertainment went to the Shahrukh Khan-starrer "Chake De! India" for "thoroughly entertaining the audience, making one proud to be an Indian." The jury described the movie, produced by Aditya Chopra and directed by Shimit Amin, as a "masterpiece of inspired film-making."

The Nargis Dutt Award for Best Feature Film on National Integration was given to Hindi film "Dharm" produced by Sheetal Talwar and directed by Bhavna Talwar, for "powerfully bringing forth the message that humanity is of much greater value than religion". It said the film had beautifully depicted the transformation of an orthodox and superstitious priest.

The much-acclaimed Hindi film "Taare Zameen Par", produced and directed by actor Aamir Khan, who also played the leading role in it, got the award for the Best Film on Family Welfare for "realistically depicting the psychological dialectic between an ordinary family driving their children to educational excellence, thereby neglecting their specially gifted child dealing with the problem of dyslexia in isolation."

Another Hindi film, "Antardwandwa", produced and directed by Sushil Rajpal won the Best Film on Social Issues for "exposing the 'marriages for sale' racket and dramatically presenting a browbeaten girl who finds her courage and her voice and rebels against her tyrannical father".

The award for the Best Children's Film went to "Foto", a Hindi film produced by the Children's Film Society of India and directed by Virendra Saini. The film unfolds a magic world of images and sound to a talented young child by highlighting the milestones of cinema history in a lucid manner, the jury noted.

"Inimey Naagathaan" in Tamil won the award for the Best Animation Film. It is produced by S Sridevi and directed by S Venky Baboo. The movie has created endearing characters who with their antics battle the evil force of greed. S Venky Baboo is also the animator of the film.

President Pratibha Patil presenting the Award 

for Best Child Actor to Master Sharad Goekar for Marathi film Tingya at the 55th National Film Awards function, 

in New Delhi on October 21, 2009.
President Pratibha Patil presenting the Award for Best Child Actor to Master Sharad Goekar for Marathi film Tingya at the 55th National Film Awards function, in New Delhi on October 21, 2009.

Darshan Jariwala got the the award for the Best Supporting Actor for "Gandhi My Father" (Hindi/English) and Shefali Shah for the Best Supporting Actress for "The Last Lear" (English). Sharad Goekar was chosen the Best Child Artiste for his role in "Tingya" (Marathi).

Shankar Mahadevan got the award for Best Male Playback Singer for "Taare Zameen Par" and Shreya Ghoshal for Best Female Playback Singhr for "Jab We Met" (Hindi).

The following are the other awards conferred today:

Best Cinematography: Shanker Raman, Frozen

Best Screenplay: Feroz Abbas, Gandhi My Father

Best Audiography: Kunal Sharma, 1971 (Hindi)

Best Editing: B Ajith Kumar, Naalu Pennungal

Best Art Direction: Sabu Cyril, Om Shanti Om (Hindi)

Best Costumer Designer, Ruma Sengupta, Krishnakanter Will (Bengali)

Best Make-up Artist: Pattnam Rasheed, Paradesi

Best Music: Ouseppachan, Ore Kadal (Malayalam)

Best Lyrics: Prasoon Joshi, Taare Zameen Par

Special Jury Award: Gandhi My Father, Produced by Anil Kapoor, Directed by Feroz Abbas

Best Special Effects: M/s Indian Artists, Sivaji (Tamil)

Best Choreography: Yeh Ishk Hai, Baithe Bithaye, Jab We Met

Best Feature Film in Bengali: Ballygunge Court, produced by Ganesh Kumar Bagari, directed by Pinaki Chaudhuri

Best Feature Film in Hindi: 1971, produced by Sagar Films, directed by Amrit Sagar

Best Feature Film in Kannada: Gulabi Talkies, produced by Basant Kumar Patil, directed by Girish Kasaravalli

Best Feature Film in Malayalam: Ore Kadal, produced by N B Vindhyan, directed by Shyamaprasad

Best Feature Film in Marathi: Nirop, produced by Aparna Dharmadhikari, Directed by Sachin Kundalkar

Best Feature Film in Tamil: Periyar, produced by Liberty Creations Ltd, Directed by Gnana Rajasekharan

Best Feature Film in English: The Last Lear, produced by Arindam Chaudhuri, Directed by Rituparno Ghosh

NON-FEATURE FILMS

Best Non-Feature Film: Hope Dies Last in War (English/Hindi), produced and directed by Supriyo Sen

Best First Non-Feature Film of a Director: Lal Juto (Bengali), produced by Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute, directed by Shweta Merchant

Best Anthropological/Ethnographic Film: Tai Phakey (English), produced by Priyam Chaliha, directed by Mridul Gupta

Best Biographical/Historical Reconstruction/Compilation Film: Antardhwani, produced by Films Division, directed by Jabbar Patel

Best Scientific Film: Bhanga Ghara (Bengali), produced by Film and Television Institute of India, directed by Nilanjan Datta

Best Film on Social Issues: Bagher Bacha (Bengali), produced by Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute and directed by Bishnu Dev Halder, and Shifting Prophecy (English), produced by Public Service Broadcasting Trust and directed by Merajur Rahman Baruah

Best Educational/Motivational/Instructional Film: Prarambha (Kannada), produced and directed by Santosh Sivan

Best Investigative Film: The Journalist and a Jihadi (English), produced and directed by Ramesh Sharma

Special Jury Award: Bhultir Khero (Bengali), produced by Amalan Datta and directed by Anirban Datta and Poomaram (Malayalam), produced by Public Service Broadcasting Trust and directed by Vipin Vijay

Short Fiction Film: Udhed Bun (Hindi), produced by FTII and directed by Siddhartha Sinha

Best Film on Family Welfare: Making the Face (English), produced by PSBT and directed by Suvendu Chatterjee

Best Direction: Jayaraj, Vellapokathil (Malayalam)

Best Cinematography: Savita Singh, Kramasha (Hindi)

Best Audiography: Ajit Singh Rathore, Kramasha

Best Editing: Saikat Ray, Hope Dies Last in War

Best Music Direction: Zubin Garg, Echoes of Silence (English/Khasi)

Best Narration/Voice Over: Vani Subramanian, Ayodhya Gatha (English/Hindi)

BEST WRITING ON CINEMA

Best Book on Cinema: B D Garga, From Raj to Swaraj: The Non-Fiction Film In India (English), published by Penguin Books India Pvt Ltd

Best Film Critic: V K Joseph (Malayalam)

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

The Phalke Award, given to Manna Dey for 2007, carries a cash prize of Rs 10 lakh, a "Swaran Kamal" and a shawl.

Manna Dey, 90, whose official name is Prabodh Chandra Dey, has been a prominent figure in the Indian film playback music scene from the 1950s and has recorded more than 3500 songs during his six-decade long career.

He has won several awards and accolades in his singing and music career, among them the National Film Award for Best Male Playback Singer for the Hindi film "Mere Huzoor" and the Bengali film "Nishi Padma".

The Government had honoured him with the Padma Shree and later the Padma Bhushan in 2005.

Dey started his career in playback singing with the film Tamanna in 1943. The song was an instant hit and there was no looking back for him.

Trained in classical traditions, his voice has won him millions of admirers in India and abroad. His strong point has always been his versatility. He is adept at not only rendering complex classical music-based songs, qawalis and ghazals but also light fun-laced numbers, romantic songs and "bhajans".

Some of the songs that scaled the popularity charts include "Laga Chuneri mein daag", "Pyaar hua iqraar hua", "Ye raat bheegi bheegi", and "Kasme wade pyaar wafa ".

Successful films for which lent his voice include Awaara, Do Bigha Zamin, Mera Naam Joker, Bobby, Zanjeer, Padosan and Sholay.

Dey was born on May 1, 1919 to Purna Chandra and Mahamaya Devi.

The Phalke Award was instituted in 1969, the birth centenary year of Dadasaheb Phalke, considered to be the father of Indian cinema. It is given every year for lifetime contribution to Indian cinema. Dey is the 55th winner of the award, that is given along each year with the National Film Awards.

The committee that recommended Dey for the award consisted of Dr A Nageshwara Rao, Mr Yash Chopra, Ms Vijaya Mulay and Ustad Amjad Ali Khan.

NNN

Gulzar to get Osian's Cinefan Lifetime Achievement Award

File photo of lyricist Gulzar.
File photo of lyricist Gulzar.

Well-known lyricist, writer, director and poet Gulzar was today chosen for the Osian's Cinefan Film Festival's Lifetime Achievement Award for Cinematic Contribution for 2009.

The award will be presented on October 24 at the opening ceremony of the week-long 11th Osian's Cinefan Film Festival at the Siri Fort Complex here. Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dixit will be the Chief Guest at the function.

The Lifetime Achievement Award is the most prestigious award presented by Osian's Cinefan and the decision to confer it on Gulzar tis year highlights his creativity and his contribution to entertainment that goes beyond cultural, linguistic and other boundaries. Eminent film-maker Mrinal Sen was the winner of the Award last year.

What is truly remarkable about Gulzar’s work is the manner in which he has served as an inspiration for generations of audiences right down to the contemporary times. His films, dialogues and songs have swung from the romantic lyricism of a ‘mora gora ang layi le’ in Bandini to that of the 1970s with Aandhi, Parichay and Kinara, to the youthful moods of a Bunty Aur Babli (2005), Omkara (2006) and Slumdog Millionaire (2008).

A renowned poet in his own right, who won the Sahitya Akademi Award in 2002, Gulzar is recognised as a master of Indian languages, dialects and poetic idioms. His ability to trace his pre-occupations in a sensitive manner through a range of film subjects -- politics, social drama or distinctive cultural worlds -- is without parallel in the history of Hindi cinema.

A press release from Osian said Gulzar will hold the Lifetime Achievement Awardee's Masterclass as part of Osian's Learning Experience on the History of the Hindi Film Lyrics on Sunday.

He will also participate in a dialogue with director Vishal Bhardwaj and the crew of Kaminey as part of the New Stream panel discussion during the festival on the same day, the release added.

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President to present National Film Awards for 2007 on Wednesday

President Pratibha Patil will present the 55th National Film Awards for the year 2007, including the prestigious Dadasaheb Phalke Award to playback singer Manna Dey, at a ceremony here on October 21.

Tamil film Kanchivaram, directed by Priyadarshan, was chosen for the Best Feature Film award in the awards announced on September 7. The film also got Prakash Raj the Best Actor award for his sensible multi-layered portrayal of a weaver caught in a web of silken threads woven by destiny.

According to the jury, "a vibrant story and technical excellence blend to create a total cinematic experience" in the movie, produced by Percept Picture Company.

Malayalam film-maker Adoor Gopalakrishnan was chosen the Best Director for his feature film "Naalu Pennungal" (Four Women) for his delicate and subtle handling of gender issues in a conventional society. The four women in the movie, of different marital status, are trivialised and subjected to abject neglect by their immediate partners and family.

Umashree was given the Best Actress award for her "heart-rending portrayal of the sorry plight of a wronged woman belonging to a minority community surrounded by an uncaring and hostile society" in the Kannada movie "Gulabi Talkies".

The jury for the awards for Feature Films was headed by well-known director Sai Paranjpye and included 13 other members who went through 92 entries in the category for the 55th National Film Awards.

The Indira Gandhi Award for Best First Film of a Director went to Hindi film "Frozen" produced and directed by Shivajee Chandrabhushan. It was chosen for "bringing to life with warmth and vivacity life in those distant snow-bound heights where existence itself is a full-time challenge."

The award for the Best Popular Film Providing Wholesome Entertainment went to the Shahrukh Khan starrer "Chake De! India" for "thoroughly entertaining the audience, making one proud to be an Indian." The jury described the movie, produced by Aditya Chopra and directed by Shimit Amin, as a "masterpiece of inspired film-making."

The Nargis Dutt Award for Best Feature Film on National Integration was given to Hindi film "Dharm" produced by Sheetal Talwar and directed by Bhavna Talwar, for "powerfully bringing forth the message that humanity is of much greater value than religion". It said the film had beautifully depicted the transformation of an orthodox and superstitious priest.

The much-acclaimed Hindi film "Taare Zameen Par", produced and directed by actor Aamir Khan, who also played the leading role in it, got the award for the Best Film on Family Welfare for "realistically depicting the psychological dialectic between an ordinary family driving their children to educational excellence, thereby neglecting their specially gifted child dealing with the problem of dyslexia in isolation."

Another Hindi film, "Antardwandwa", produced and directed by Sushil Rajpal was chosen for the Best Film on Social Issues for "exposing the 'marriages for sale' racket and dramatically presenting a browbeaten girl who finds her courage and her voice and rebels against her tyrannical father".

The award for the Best Children's Film went to "Foto", a Hindi film produced by the Children's Film Society of India and directed by Virendra Saini. The film unfolds a magic world of images and sound to a talented young child by highlighting the milestones of cinema history in a lucid manner, the jury noted.

"Inimey Naagathaan" in Tamil won the award for the Best Animation Film. It is produced by S Sridevi and directed by S Venky Baboo. The movie has created endearing characters who with their antics battle the evil force of greed. S Venky Baboo is also the animator of the film.

Darshan Jariwala got the the award for the Best Supporting Actor for "Gandhi My Father" (Hindi/English) and Shefali Shah for the Best Supporting Actress for "The Last Lear" (English). Sharad Goekar was chosen the Best Child Artiste for his role in "Tingya" (Marathi).

Shankar Mahadevan got the award for Best Male Playback Singer for "Taare Zameen Par" and Shreya Ghoshal for Best Female Playback Singhr for "Jab We Met" (Hindi).

The following are the other awards announced today:

Best Cinematography: Shanker Raman, Frozen

Best Screenplay: Feroz Abbas, Gandhi My Father

Best Audiography: Kunal Sharma, 1971 (Hindi)

Best Editing: B Ajith Kumar, Naalu Pennungal

Best Art Direction: Sabu Cyril, Om Shanti Om (Hindi)

Best Costumer Designer, Ruma Sengupta, Krishnakanter Will (Bengali)

Best Make-up Artist: Pattnam Rasheed, Paradesi

Best Music: Ouseppachan, Ore Kadal (Malayalam)

Best Lyrics: Prasoon Joshi, Taare Zameen Par

Special Jury Award: Gandhi My Father, Produced by Anil Kapoor, Directed by Feroz Abbas

Best Special Effects: M/s Indian Artists, Sivaji (Tamil)

Best Choreography: Yeh Ishk Hai, Baithe Bithaye, Jab We Met

Best Feature Film in Bengali: Ballygunge Court, produced by Ganesh Kumar Bagari, directed by Pinaki Chaudhuri

Best Feature Film in Hindi: 1971, produced by Sagar Films, directed by Amrit Sagar

Best Feature Film in Kannada: Gulabi Talkies, produced by Basant Kumar Patil, directed by Girish Kasaravalli

Best Feature Film in Malayalam: Ore Kadal, produced by N B Vindhyan, directed by Shyamaprasad

Best Feature Film in Marathi: Nirop, produced by Aparna Dharmadhikari, Directed by Sachin Kundalkar

Best Feature Film in Tamil: Periyar, produced by Liberty Creations Ltd, Directed by Gnana Rajasekharan

Best Feature Film in English: The Last Lear, produced by Arindam Chaudhuri, Directed by Rituparno Ghosh

NON-FEATURE FILMS

Best Non-Feature Film: Hope Dies Last in War (English/Hindi), produced and directed by Supriyo Sen

Best First Non-Feature Film of a Director: Lal Juto (Bengali), produced by Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute, directed by Shweta Merchant

Best Anthropological/Ethnographic Film: Tai Phakey (English), produced by Priyam Chaliha, directed by Mridul Gupta

Best Biographical/Historical Reconstruction/Compilation Film: Antardhwani, produced by Films Division, directed by Jabbar Patel

Best Scientific Film: Bhanga Ghara (Bengali), produced by Film and Television Institute of India, directed by Nilanjan Datta

Best Film on Social Issues: Bagher Bacha (Bengali), produced by Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute and directed by Bishnu Dev Halder, and Shifting Prophecy (English), produced by Public Service Broadcasting Trust and directed by Merajur Rahman Baruah

Best Educational/Motivational/Instructional Film: Prarambha (Kannada), produced and directed by Santosh Sivan

Best Investigative Film: The Journalist and a Jihadi (English), produced and directed by Ramesh Sharma

Special Jury Award: Bhultir Khero (Bengali), produced by Amalan Datta and directed by Anirban Datta and Poomaram (Malayalam), produced by Public Service Broadcasting Trust and directed by Vipin Vijay

Short Fiction Film: Udhed Bun (Hindi), produced by FTII and directed by Siddhartha Sinha

Best Film on Family Welfare: Making the Face (English), produced by PSBT and directed by Suvendu Chatterjee

Best Direction: Jayaraj, Vellapokathil (Malayalam)

Best Cinematography: Savita Singh, Kramasha (Hindi)

Best Audiography: Ajit Singh Rathore, Kramasha

Best Editing: Saikat Ray, Hope Dies Last in War

Best Music Direction: Zubin Garg, Echoes of Silence (English/Khasi)

Best Narration/Voice Over: Vani Subramanian, Ayodhya Gatha (English/Hindi)

BEST WRITING ON CINEMA

Best Book on Cinema: B D Garga, From Raj to Swaraj: The Non-Fiction Film In India (English), published by Penguin Books India Pvt Ltd

Best Film Critic: V K Joseph (Malayalam)

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

The decision to award the Phalke Award to Manna Dey for 2007 for his outstanding contribution in the field of cinema was announced on September 30. The award carries a cash prize of Rs 10 lakh, a "Swaran Kamal" and a shawl.

Manna Dey, 90, whose official name is Prabodh Chandra Dey, has been a prominent figure in the Indian film playback music scene from the 1950s and has recorded more than 3500 songs during his six-decade long career.

He has won several awards and accolades in his singing and music career, among them the National Film Award for Best Male Playback Singer for the Hindi film "Mere Huzoor" and the Bengali film "Nishi Padma".

The Government had honoured him with the Padma Shree and later the Padma Bhushan in 2005.

Dey started his career in playback singing with the film Tamanna in 1943. The song was an instant hit and there was no looking back for him.

Trained in classical traditions, his voice has won him millions of admirers in India and abroad. His strong point has always been his versatility. He is adept at not only rendering complex classical music-based songs, qawalis and ghazals but also light fun-laced numbers, romantic songs and "bhajans".

Some of the songs that scaled the popularity charts include "Laga Chuneri mein daag", "Pyaar hua iqraar hua", "Ye raat bheegi bheegi", and "Kasme wade pyaar wafa ".

Successful films for which lent his voice include Awaara, Do Bigha Zamin, Mera Naam Joker, Bobby, Zanjeer, Padosan and Sholay.

Dey was born on May 1, 1919 to Purna Chandra and Mahamaya Devi.

The Phalke Award was instituted in 1969, the birth centenary year of Dadasaheb Phalke, considered to be the father of Indian cinema. It is given every year for lifetime contribution to Indian cinema. Dey is the 55th winner of the award, that is given along each year with the National Film Awards.

The committee that recommended Dey for the award consisted of Dr A Nageshwara Rao, Mr Yash Chopra, Ms Vijaya Mulay and Ustad Amjad Ali Khan, an official press release said.

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Soni congratulates Manna Dey on Phalke Award

Union Minister of Information and Broadcasting Ambika Soni has congratulated legendary playback singer Manna Dey on his being selected for the prestigious Dada Saheb Phalke Award for 2007 for his lifetime contribution to cinema.

Ms Soni wrote to the 90-year-old Dey, saying that the award was richly deserved. "Your outstanding contributions to music for over fifty years are an integral part of India’s musical heritage," she said.

"I am also happy that the announcement has been widely acclaimed across the country" she added.

NNN

Manna Dey chosen for Dada Saheb Phalke Award 2007

File photo of legendary singer Manna Dey receiving 

the Padma Bhushan from the then president, A.P.J. Abdul Kalam in New Delhi on March 28, 2005.
File photo of legendary singer Manna Dey receiving the Padma Bhushan from the then president, A.P.J. Abdul Kalam in New Delhi on March 28, 2005.

Well-known playback singer Manna Dey has been chosen for the prestigious Dada Saheb Phalke Award for the year 2007 for his outstanding contribution in the field of cinema.

The award, given by the Government of India, carries a cash prize of Rs 10 lakh, a "Swaran Kamal" and a shawl, an official press release said.

Manna Dey, 90, whose official name is Prabodh Chandra Dey, has been a prominent figure in the Indian film playback music scene from the 1950s and has recorded more than 3500 songs during his six-decade long career.

He has won several awards and accolades in his singing and music career, among them the National Film Award for Best Male Playback Singer for the Hindi film "Mere Huzoor" and the Bengali film "Nishi Padma".

The Government had honoured him with the Padma Shree and later the Padma Bhushan in 2005.

Dey started his career in playback singing with the film Tamanna in 1943. The song was an instant hit and there was no looking back for him.

Trained in classical traditions, his voice has won him millions of admirers in India and abroad. His strong point has always been his versatility. He is adept at not only rendering complex classical music-based songs, qawalis and ghazals but also light fun-laced numbers, romantic songs and "bhajans".

Some of the songs that scaled the popularity charts include "Laga Chuneri mein daag", "Pyaar hua iqraar hua", "Ye raat bheegi bheegi", and "Kasme wade pyaar wafa ".

Successful films for which lent his voice include Awaara, Do Bigha Zamin, Mera Naam Joker, Bobby, Zanjeer, Padosan and Sholay.

Dey was born on May 1, 1919 to Purna Chandra and Mahamaya Devi.

The Phalke Award was instituted in 1969, the birth centenary year of Dadasaheb Phalke, considered to be the father of Indian cinema. It is given every year for lifetime contribution to Indian cinema. Dey is the 55th winner of the award, that is given along each year with the National Film Awards.

The committee that recommended Dey for the award consisted of Dr A Nageshwara Rao, Mr Yash Chopra, Ms Vijaya Mulay and Ustad Amjad Ali Khan, an official press release said.

President Pratibha Patl will present the award to the singer on October 21, the release added.

NNN

Tourism Ministry launches "Incredible India" events in Russia

A performance by well-known dancer Tanushree Shankar and her troupe was the highlight of the Incredible India event held at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Moscow yesterday as part of the Year of India in Russia.

The programme by Ms Shankar showcased India's rich cultural heritage and was organised by the Indian Council of Cultural Relations.

Ms Shankar and her group will present another performance at the Grand Hotel Europe in St Petersburg tomorrow, an official press release said here today.

The primary objective of the Incredible India events, to be held upto September 27, is to highlight the tourism potential of India and to place India as a favoured destination for Russians.

The events will include four-day India Food Festivals in Moscow and St Petersburg, for which a team of 12 top chefs from India's premier hotel chains have been specially flown to Russia to popularise the best of Indian cuisine in Russia.

The Ministry of Tourism is also participating in the Otdykh Leisure Show 2009 in Moscow by putting up an India Pavilion. The show opened in Moscow yesterday and the Indian pavilion was inaugurated by Mr Sanjay Kothari, Additional Secretary, Tourism.

The India Tourism Office in Frankfurt has, simultaneously, launched an integrated outdoor advertising and print media campaign in Moscow and St Petersburg.

According to the release, tourist arrivals from Russia to India are showing a steady growth. In 2008, India received 91,423 tourists from Russia as compared to 75,543 in 2007.

"The Incredible India Events provide an effective platform for showcasing Indian culture, cuisine and myriad tourism products to a large gathering of elite audience in Russia. Russia is an important source market for Indian tourism, reflecting high growth rate over the last few years and it is expected that this growth will increase still further," the release added.

NNN
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