"Naanu Gandhi" selected for China Children's Film Fest

Scene from the movie 'Naanu Gandhi'
Scene from the movie 'Naanu Gandhi'
"Naanu Gandhi" (I am Gandhi), a children’s film in Kannada, which has used a contemporary story in a unique manner to underline the continuing relevance of Mahatma Gandhi for all ages, has been selected for the 10th China International Children's Film Festival next month.

The festival is scheduled to take place from September 9-14 in Qingdao, Shandong Province.

"Naanu Gandhi", which has already won international recognition, has attracted attention for the way it reaches out to the young like no one has done before.

Directed by N R Nanjunde Gowda, this film won the Best Film Award for propagating educational values at the Columbia International Film Festival in Carthagena, the first for any children's film from India. It has also been screened at film festivals in Giffoni, Italy, Sousse in Tunisia and Toronto in Canada. It had a successful run in Karnataka late last year.

Gowda has for long been a champion of children's cinema. His "Chukki Chandrama" (Star and Moon) was the inaugural film at the International Children's Film Festival at Thiruvananthapuram in 1991 where it won the Best Screenplay award.

A film that made the adults think about the values they were inculcating in their children, it featured teenage children narrating in a mature way the thin line they tread between love and sex.
Scene from the movie 'Naanu Gandhi'
Scene from the movie 'Naanu Gandhi'

He followed it up with `A Aa I II' (ABCD) that depicted, both at the children's and adults’ levels, the inherent contradictions between globalisation and native culture and their impact on young minds. The film was a runaway success.

Gowda has also set up Children's India, a non-governmental organisation aimed at promoting the cause of cinema for children. It organises an annual film festival in Bangalore.

"Naanu Gandhi" tells the story of a young child who is often teased by his fellow villagers because his name is Gandhi. He was named thus because his grandfather Rangappa had fought for the freedom of the country, inspired by Mahatma Gandhi.

Produced by Ms Kokila N Gowda, wife of Gowda, the film is based on a story by Dr Besagarhalli Ramanna. The screenplay is by Gowda himself. The music is by Raju Upendra Kumar. It stars Master Likhit in the title role along with Ramesh Bhatt, Sundar Raj, Pramila Joshai, Sadashiva Brahmavar, Mandya Ramesh, Raaga Ranga Nagaraj, Venkatachal, N.G.E.F. Sri Kantaiah, Mosale Manjunath, Master K S Sharath Kumar, Master Nandan Kumar, Master Shashank, Baby Nisha, Baby Soumya, Baby Sneha, Bharathi and others.


Chopra opens exhibition of Kashmir photos taken during Sikandar shoot

Photos taken during the Sikandar shoot.
Photos taken during the Sikandar shoot. (Click on photo for high resolution image)
Ace film-maker Vidhu Vinod Chopra inaugurated an exhibition of photographs of scenic Jammu and Kashmir taken during the filming of Sikandar, a film written and directed by Piyush Jha and produced by Big Pictures, here yesterday.

The film is scheduled to be released on August 21 across 265 screens in India, the United States and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

The rights of the film have been sold in Israel, Sri Lanka and Malaysia. The film was recently screened at the Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles and at the Stuttgart Film Festival.

The entire cast of Sikandar was present at the opening of the photo exhibition, including R Madhavan, Sanjay Suri, Parzaan Dastur, Ayesha Kapur and debutant Arunuday Singh. Also present were Jha and producer Sudhir Mishra.

The exhibition will be on till August 23, a press release from Big Pictures, a part of the Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group, said.
Photos taken during the Sikandar shoot.
Photos taken during the Sikandar shoot. (Click on photo for high resolution image)

Sikandar, shot on location in Kashmir with a running time of 110 minutes, is about a 14-year-old Kashmiri boy's desire to play football but whose life-track changes when he stumbles upon a gun one day.

Chopra, a Kashmiri himself, has shot two of his films in the valley. "I made Khamosh more than two decades ago and I again revisited the valley for Mission Kashmir in 2000. So much has changed between this period, and yet much is still the same. I am glad that, along with Sikandar, this photo exhibition will bring to the fore the idea that Kashmir is indeed paradise on Earth, and this paradise is in our own country," he said.

Mahesh Ramanathan, Chief Operating Officer, Big Pictures, said the exhibition would remind cinema lovers and film-makers that the beauty of Kashmir was unsullied by the ravages of inimical forces. "Sikandar also will remind film makers of the evergreen film hits of the past that were shot extensively in Kashmir. After the release of Sikandar, hopefully more producers will return to patronise this film maker's paradise," he remarked.

Director Jha said, "After I set the story in Kashmir, the visual metaphor I strived for, was to contrast the beauty of 'Mother Nature', against the cruelty of human nature. Actually, Sikandar is a film which could be set anywhere – as it deals with the universal manipulation of adolescence by the nasty games played by adults. Having said that, I'd like to add that, Sikandar is not at all a preachy film. It is an exciting suspense thriller with its heart in the right place,"
Photos taken during the Sikandar shoot.
Photos taken during the Sikandar shoot. (Click on photo for high resolution image)

Jha added that his actors – Parzaan and Ayesha – had shown that a typical adult hero and heroine were not necessarily the only ingredients for a film to sell. "Both Parzaan and Ayesha have done a stupendous job and this proves that a film can surely be successful with 14-year-olds as protagonists, without it being termed as a 'children's film '," he said.

The photo exhibition is a wide-arrayed display of picturesque photographs taken during the 40-day shoot of Sikandar and features snow-capped mountains, tall chinar trees, pristine waters of the Chenab, soldiers at frequent check posts on every road, wooden houses and bridges that form the fabric of the daily life of most Kashmiris.

The photographs were taken by Location Still Photographer Pramod Gawade, Production Designer Shruti Gupte, Ayesha Kapur's mother Jacqueline Kapur and Jha himself.


Nandita Das named Chairperson of Children's Film Society

Nandita Das
Nandita Das

Well-known actor and film-maker Nandita Das has been appointed as the Chairperson of the Children's Films Society of India (CFSI), the nodal organisation of the Government of India dedicated to providing wholesome entertainment for children through film and television.

An official statement from the Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting said the appointment would be for a period of three years or until further orders, whichever is earlier.

Ms Das will succeed another well-known actress and social worker Nafisa Ali in the coveted position.

The CFSI was set up in May, 1955, under the presidentship of Pandit Hriday Nath Kunzru after the country's first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru had mooted the concept of an exclusive cinema for India's children.

The CFSI's objectives include the production, distribution and exhibition of feature films and short films for children and providing them with healthy and wholesome entertainment.

Its maiden production "Jaldeep", an adventure story centred around a lighthouse, went on to win the first prize at the 1957 Venice Film Festival for Children's Films.

Several renowed filmmakers such as Kidar Sharma, Satyen Bose, Mohan Kaul, Rajinder Sharma, Mrinal Sen, Shyam Benegal, Tapan Sinha and Sai Paranjpye have been associated with its films. Apart from its own films, CFSI has also acquired outstanding children's films from other countries, thus creating an enviable library.

Ms Das has acted in more than 30 feature films, including Fire, Earth, Before the Rains, Bawandar, Amar Bhuvan and Maati Maay. More recently, she has been in the news for her directorial debut Firaaq.

Among others, she has worked with directors like Shyam Benegal, Deepa Mehta, Mani Ratnam, Adoor Gopalakrishnan and Mrinal Sen, choosing to be part of stories which, in her words, "need to be told."

As a student, Ms Das was an active member of Jan Natya Manch, a street theatre group group in Delhi. She did her B.A. (Hons.) in Geography from Miranda House, Delhi University and her Master's in Social Work from Delhi University. Later, she worked with various non-governmental organisations (NGOs) on human rights issues.

The actor has been a member of the main jury at the Cannes Film Festival in 2005 and at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival in 2007. Recently the French Government conferred her with the prestigious Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres. She has won several awards for her roles as well as for Firaaq.


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Rituparno's "Shob Charitro Kalponik" picked for Durban Festival

The promotional poster for Shob Charitro Kalponik.
The promotional poster for Shob Charitro Kalponik.
Well-known director Rituparno Ghosh's Bengali film "Shob Charitro Kalponik" (Afterword) has been selected for the 30th Durban Film Festival 2009 being held currently.

Ghosh will be travelling to Durban, South Africa, for the screening of the film scheduled on July 30, a press release issued by Big Pictures, the producers of the film, said.

The movie will be screened in the Panorama Section of the festival, alongside films by directors such as Woody Allen, the Dardenne Brothers, Lars von Trier, Laurent Cantet, Steven Soderbergh, Takeshi Kitano and Michael Winterbottom.

Written and directed by Ghosh, "Shob Charitro Kalponik" is a story of death and loss with many emotional and romantic moments. It is the story of Radhika’s journey into the life of her late poet-husband, Indraneel and the revelations and contradictions she learns about Indraneel as a poet and husband. She realizes how much he romanticized their mundane, everyday life. Yet in reality, he was often insensitive, negligent and apathetic towards her. She wonders about his dual identity. How can a poet be unaware of his day-to-day realities, yet highlight moments from it in his art? Is art essentially an artifice?
A scene from Shob Charitro Kalponik.
A scene from Shob Charitro Kalponik.

The film features Bipasha Basu, Prosenjit Chatterjee, Jisshu Sengupta, Pauli Dam and Sohag Sen in the main roles. It will release on August 28 in India.

The film has music by Sanjoy Das and Raja Narayan Deb with a lot of folk, modern sounds and also a song by Lalan. Joy Goswami has written all the poems for Prosenjit’s character, who plays a poet. Some of these are excerpts of old poems and some have been written exclusively for the film. Samik Halder was behind the camera and Arghyakamal Mitra has done the editing.

"Our efforts to broaden international horizons for Bengali films are beginning to be successful. Rituparno’s work has been widely acclaimed globally. Shob Charitro Kalponik’s selection in the Panorama Section of the Durban film festival is a first ever premiere for a Bengali film in the African continent. With this success, Big Pictures have now secured selection for 10 of its world cinema titles in over 12 prestigious international festivals in the last six months. It’s a historical first for any production house in India," Mahesh Ramanathan, Chief Operating Officer, Big Pictures, said.
A scene from Shob Charitro Kalponik.
A scene from Shob Charitro Kalponik.

A contemporary director whose playground is the complexity of raw human emotions that are often caught in the web of relationship drawn out by the society, Rituparno Ghosh has emerged as one of the finest filmmakers in India. . His 1999 film 'Bariwali' (Lady of the House) won him a Netpac Award and was screened at the Berlin International Film Festival. 'Titli' (The First Monsoon Day) and 'Choker Bali' (Passion Play) were the respective official entries in the competition section at the Locarno Film Festival in 2002 and 2003. In December 2008, Ghosh was awarded the prestigious Premio Arca D'Oro by the Italian government for his outstanding work. He is also the proud recipient of the National Award for his film ‘Shubho Mahurat’.

Reliance Big Entertainment Limited (RBEL) is the media and entertainment arm of the Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group. Big Pictures is the motion picture brand of RBEL.


Anil Ambani meets Spielberg, Snider in New York

Reliance BIG
Reliance BIG
Reliance Anil Dhirbhai Ambani Group (ADAG) Chairman Anil Ambani met with DreamWorks Studios partners Steven Spielberg and Stacy Snider here today to discuss the next steps in the new motion picture company they have formed in partnership.

The new company, formed between Reliance Big Entertainment Limited (RBEL) and DreamWorks, has been functioning since November 2008 from DreamWorks' long-time offices in Los Angeles.

A press release from RBEL said that, upon the first closing expected shortly, there would be an initial $ 825 million available for film production. This initial phase of funding will include an equity investment from Reliance ADA Group, debt financing from a syndication of banks, as well as funding from Disney, it said.

With this financing, DreamWorks will eventually make 5-6 films per year. Earlier this year, DreamWorks signed a distribution deal with The Walt Disney Company, who will handle marketing and distribution of the studio’s films around the world, except for India where RBEL will retain distribution rights.

DreamWorks anticipates starting its first film for the new studio later this year. They have been actively acquiring properties and developing projects for release in 2010.

In addition, DreamWorks acquired numerous attractive projects from Paramount on the separation from that studio earlier this year. An announcement of the initial films to go before the cameras will be made at a later date.

"This venture with Reliance opens a new door to our future," said Mr Spielberg, the renowned film-maker. "Their visionary step has given us a new set of dreams to work toward. Stacey and I thank them for their faith in us and their faith in the movie business."

"All of us at DreamWorks Studios join with our Reliance partners in anticipating the financial closing," said Mr Snider, the former chief executive of Universal Pictures. "We also welcome the opportunity and freedom they have given us to make the films we want to make. We always want to aim for appeal and quality whether it be for a highly commercial concept or an artistic achievement."

Mr Ambani responded, "We are delighted to partner with such uniquely talented individuals as Steven Spielberg and Stacey Snider. Ever since we looked at their business plan, I have never doubted that we would succeed in providing them with the financial muscle required to realize their dreams."

RBEL is the flagship media and entertainment arm of Reliance ADAG, with significant presence in film entertainment, broadcasting and new media ventures.

With investments over $ 1 billion already (prior to the DreamWorks deal) in its filmed entertainment business, RBEL's motion picture brand Big Pictures has built a production slate in Hindi, English and other Indian languages, which it markets and distributes worldwide.

In Hollywood, Big Pictures has development silos with Nicolas Cage's Saturn Productions, Jim Carrey's JC 23 Entertainment, George Clooney's Smokehouse Productions, Chris Columbus' 1492 Pictures, Tom Hank's Playtone Productions, Brad Pitt's Plan B Entertainment, Jay Roach's Everyman Pictures, Brett Ratner's Rat Entertainment and Julia Roberts' Red Om Films.

DreamWorks Studios is a new company led by Spielberg and Snider in partnership with Reliance ADAG. It is a continuation of DreamWorks Studios which was formed in 1994 by Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen.

The company won three consecutive Best Picture Academy Awards with "American Beauty," "Gladiator," and "A Beautiful Mind" (both co-produced with Universal). Among the company's other successes have been such films as "Saving Private Ryan" (co-produced with Paramount), "The Ring," "Minority Report" (co-produced with 20th Century Fox), "War of the Worlds," "Dreamgirls," and "Transformers" (all co-produced with Paramount).


Bhupen Hazarika, Sitara Devi to be conferred Akademi fellowships Tuesday

Bhupen Hazarika
Bhupen Hazarika
Renowned music composer Bhupen Hazarika and eminent Kathak exponent Sitara Devi are among the four personalities from the field of performing arts who will be conferred with the Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowships by President Pratibha Patil at a special ceremony here tomorrow.

The President will confer four fellowships and 33 Akademi Awards on distinguished artistes, scholars and others at the function.

The Akademi Fellowship (Akademi Ratna) and Akademi Awards (Akademi Puraskar) are recognized as the highest national honour conferred on practising artistes, gurus and scholars and have come to stay as the most coveted honour which the artistes aspire to.

This year, the honour of Akademi Ratna will also be conferred on well-known stage designer Khaled Chowdhury and, renowned scholar of performing arts R C Mehta.

The fellowship carries a purse of Rs 100,000, a citation, an angavastram and a tamrapatra. The fellowship is restricted to 30 living persons at any given point of time.

The General Council of the Akademi has also selected 34 practitioners of music, dance and theatre for 33 awards, including one joint award, for the Akademi Puraskar for the year 2008. The award carries a purse of Rs 50,000, a citation, an angavastram and a tamrpatra.

In the field of music, the eight awardees are Ulhas Kashalkar and M.R. Gautam for Hindustani vocal music; Ramesh Mishra (Sarangi) and Krishna Ram Chaudhary (Shehnai) for Hindustani Instrumental Music; Puranam Purushottama Sastri for Carnatic Vocal; B. Sasi Kumar (Violin) and Manrgudi A. Easwaran (Mridangam) for Carnatic Instrumental Music and Ningombam Ibobi Singh (Nata Sankirtana, Manipur) for Other Major Traditions of Music.

The nine dancers chosen for the award are Saroja Vaidyanathan, Bharatanatyam; Shashi Shankhla, Kathak; Kalamandalam Kuttan, Kathakali; Ramani Ranjan Jena, Odissi; M. Vasanthalakshmi & M.V. Narasimhachari (Joint Award), Kuchipudi; Kalamandalam Leelamma, Mohiniattam; Yogsunder Desai, Creative & Experimental Dance and Ramhari Das, Music for Dance (Odissi).

In the field of theatre, the eight awardees are Markand Bhatt and Arundhati Nag for Acting, S. Ramanujam and Probir Guha for Direction, Mudra Rakshasa (Hindi) and Narsingh Dev Jamwal (Dogri) for Playwriting, Amba Sanyal for Allied Theatre Arts (Costume Designing) and Bansi Lal Khilari (Khayal, Rajasthan) for Major Traditions of Theatre.

For their contribution to Other Traditional/Folk/ Tribal Music/ Dance/ Theatre, Shakuntala Nagarkar, Lavani (Maharastra); Birabar Sahoo, Gotipua (Orissa); Mangi Bai Arya, Mand (Rajasthan); L. Heramot Meitei, Thang-Ta (Martial Art, Manipur); Lakha Khan Mangniyar, Folk Music (Rajasthan); Hilda Mit Lepcha, Lepcha Music (Sikkim); Kartar Singh, Gurbani (Punjab) and Lakshman Das, Hari Katha (Karnataka) have been selected.

R. Satyanarayana of Karnataka has been selected for the award for his scholarship in Performing Arts, an official press release added.


Shakti Samanta retrospective opens

Information & Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni speaking at the inauguration of the 'Retrospective of Shakti Samanta Films', organised by the Directorate of Film Festivals, in New Delhi on Friday.
Information & Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni speaking at the inauguration of the 'Retrospective of Shakti Samanta Films', organised by the Directorate of Film Festivals, in New Delhi on Friday.
Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni inaugurated a three-day restrospective of films of the late producer and director Shakti Samanta at the Siri Fort auditorium in the capital on Friday evening.

Speaking on the occasion, Ms Soni said she and the Ministry were committed to take good cinema to the "aam aadmi" (common man) by organising more such retrospectives of celebrated film-makers.

She praised the Directorate of Film Festivals, which has organised the event, for holding a mini-film festival in Shillong, Meghalaya, recently. She said more such events would be organised in different parts of the country soon.

Ms Soni recalled her experience as Tourism and Culture Minister in the previous government when she found, during an Indian cultural festival in China last year, there was an eager demand for Indian cinema.

She also recalled that the government had made use of the talent of Samanta for seven long years as the Chairman of the Central Board of Film Certification.

Mr Ashim Samanta, a well-known film director in his own right and the son of the late film-maker, narrated episodes from his father's life. He said that his father had started as a school teacher at a place 100 kms from Mumbai and would travel to the city every Friday.

During these visits, he came in touch with the well-known actor Ashok Kumar, which led to the making of "Inspector" and then "Howrah Bridge".

Samanta's award-winning film Amar Prem (Hindi, colour, 1972, 153 minutes) was screened at the inaugural function.

The other films that are being screened at the retrsopective today and tomorrow are Howrah Bridge, Kati Patang, Amanush, Kashmir ki Kali and Anurag.

Samanta had passed away in Mumbai on April 9 this year at the age of 83. His first directorial venture was Bahu in 1955 and three years later he turned a producer with Howrah Bridge.

In all, he directed 43 feature films---37 in HIndi and six in Bengali. Seven of his films won Filmfare awards. The well-known actress Sharmila Tagore made her Bollywood debut in Kashmir ki Kali. She went on to star in several of his later films, including An Evening in Paris and Aradhana.

Some of his other popular films are China Town, Barsaat ki Ek Raat and Mehbooba. He started the trend of making double version movies in Hindi and Bengali with Amanush in 1974. He made the first co-produced film between India and Bangladesh in 1984.


Retrospective of Shakti Samanta films from Friday

Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni will inaugurate here on Friday a retrospective of the films of well-known film producer and director Shakti Samanta, who had passed away earlier this year.

Ashim Samanta, a director in his own right and the son of the late Shakti Samanta, will be the keynote speaker at the inaugural ceremony.

Samanta's award-wnning film Amar Prem (Hindi, colour, 1972, 153 minutes) will be screened at the inaugural function.

Five of his best-known films, Howrah Bridge, Kati Patang, Amanush, Kashmir ki Kali and Anurag, will be screened on the next two days, an official press release said.

Samanta had passed away in Mumbai on April 9 this year at the age of 83. His first directorial venture was Bahu in 1955 and three years later he turned a producer with Howrah Bridge.

In all, he directed 43 feature films---37 in HIndi and six in Bengali. Seven of his films won Filmfare awards. The well-known actress Sharmila Tagore made her Bollywood debut in Kashmir ki Kali. She went on to star in several of his later films, including An Evening in Paris and Aradhana.

Some of his other popular films are China Town, Barsaat ki Ek Raat and Mehbooba. He started the trend of making double version movies in Hindi and Bengali with Amanush in 1974. He made the first co-produced film between India and Bangladesh in 1984.


Osian's Cinefan Film Festival moved to October from July

The Osian's Cinefan Film Festival will now onwards be held here in October every year instead of July, the event organisers have announced.

Osian's said in a press release that it was a decision that had been pending for nearly four years now. "The film world has significantly changed during the last decade and the choice of July (in India) for a world class Film Festival is no longer perceived as the best option," it said.

It said the festival Core Committee had finally chosen October as the permanent date for Osian’s-Cinefan. The Government of NCT of Delhi is in agreement with this decision, it said.

The Festival had also been rescheduled keeping in mind the unbearable temperatures and humidity that the national capital experiences in the month of July, though cinema lovers have braved these conditions and supported the festival for almost a decade, the release said.

"The exuberance of the month of October will hopefully further enhance the overall festival experience," it said, adding that the 11th edition of Osian’s Cinefan promises to be the most exciting ever.

Mr Mani Kaul, Director General of the festival, said, "Wonderful feature and short films for different sections of the festival are streaming into our office by the day. Perhaps for the first time in some years Osian’s-Cinefan will be proud to consolidate a formidable and varied presence of young Indian cinema. It was time for us, finally, to leap into October - we are now eager to start the ball rolling on an exciting winter season of culture across India, this year and every coming year."

Meanwhile, Jashn-Osianama, Osian’s new annual Festival for the Visual Arts & Culture will be held in both Mumbai and New Delhi at its stipulated time. The best of Indian, Asian and World art, cinema and culture will be exhibited at the Jehangir Art Gallery in Mumbai from Friday, June 26 till Thursday, July 2 and in New Delhi at the Visual Art Gallery, India Habitat Centre from July 4 – 21.

"The diversity and the sheer range of the visual arts on display will be enough to excite and arouse the minds of people, across all backgrounds," the release added.

Established in 2000 as a pioneering arts institution in India, Osian’s is at the heart of its founder Neville Tuli’s vision of creating a new infrastructure and model for Indian arts and culture.

The idea is to create a merit-conscious and financially self-sufficient infrastructure that is independent of traditional patronage systems and able to be a part of India's developmental framework.

Osian has acquired Cinefan, the Asian Film Festival and Cinemaya, the Asian Film Journal, along with the merger of Aruna Vasudev's team of experts into Osian's under the umbrella of the Film House.


Ustad Bismillah Khan Yuva Puraskar for 2008 announced

As many as 33 young artistes from all over India, including musicians, dancers, stage actors and folk performers, have been chosen by the Sangeet Natak Akademi for the Ustad Bismillah Khan Yuva Puruskar 2008.

The awards are given to young artistes, below the age of 35 years, who have made a mark in their fields of performing arts. The award carries prize money of Rs 25,000. They will be presented at a special ceremony later this year, an official statement said.

The awards were instituted in 2006 in the memory of shehnai maestro Ustad Bismillah Khan, who died in August that year. They are aimed at identifying and encouraging young talents in diverse fields of performing arts and giving them national recognition early in their life so that they may work with greater commitment and dedication.

The following is the list of awardees:


Rajnish Mishra & Ritesh Mishra (jointly) and Vishal Jain for Hindustani Vocal Music; Jai Shankar Mishra (Tabla), Debopriya Chatterjee (Flute) for Hindustani Instrumental Music; V.Sumitra and Manasi Prasad for Carnatic Vocal Music; C.S.Balabhaskar (Violin) and B.S.Purushotham (Kanjeera) for Carnatic Instrumental Music.


Gayatri Balagurunathan (Bharatanatyam), Gauri Diwakar (Kathak), Vijaykumar N. (Kathakali), Bimbavati Devi (Manipuri), Rahul Acharya (Odissi), Arunima Kumar (Kuchipudi), Meernanda Barthakur (Sattriya), and Purvadhanshree (Vilasani Natyam).


Sumit Sharma and Amitesh Grover for Direction, Vijender Kumar and J.L.Saritha for Acting, Irawati Karnik for Playwriting, Ajay Kumar for Allied Theatre Arts (Music for Theatre) and Govind Singh Yadav for Allied Theatre Arts (Lighting), R.K.Sanaton Singh for Major Traditions of Theatre – Shumang Leela of Manipur.

Other Traditional/Folk/Tribal Dance, Music, Theatre & Puppetry

Ritu Verma for Pandavani (Chhattisgarh), Dayaram for Mand (Rajasthan), Sayed Mohammad Irfan P P for Folk Music-Dolipattu (Lakshadweep), Mayanglambam Mangangangsana Meitei for Traditional Music-Pena (Manipur), Shabir Ahmed Saznawaz for Soofiyana Kalam (Jammu & Kashmir), Pramod Kumar Nahak for Prahlad Natak (Orissa), Sudarshan K.V. for Yakshagana Gombeyatta – Puppetry (Karnataka) and Srikanta Bose for Mime (West Bengal).


Aishwarya, Abhishek, Kareena, Sonam to perform at Idea IIFA Awards

Spectacular stage performances by stars Aishwarya Rai, Abhishek Bachchan, Kareena Kapoor and Sonam Kapoor will be the highlights of the tenth IIFA Weekend at the Venetian Macau from June 11-13.
Mr Amitabh Bachchan addressing the media at the Idea IIFA awards press conference.
Mr Amitabh Bachchan addressing the media at the Idea IIFA awards press conference.

The festivities will also include Zaia, a show by the famed Cirque Du Soleil, the FICCI-IIFA Global Business Forum, the IIFA Fashion Extravaganza, the IIFA workshop and, finally, the annual Idea IIFA Awards Ceremony.

The International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) gave out details of the weekend celebrations at a press conference here that was addressed, among others, by megastar Amitabh Bachchan, the IIFA Brand Ambassador.

Aishwarya Rai Bachchan had danced at IIFA Amsterdam, while her husband Abhishek has appeared twice on the IIFA stage, first in Amsterdam and then in Yorkshire in 2007.

Well-known actors Boman Irani and Riteish Deshmukh will be the hosts of this year's event after their successful handling of last year's show. They will be joined this time by actress Lara Dutta.

The awards ceremony will be held at the exotic The Venetian Macao-Resort-Hotel, the organisers said.
Mr. Pradeep Shrivastava, Chief Marketing Officer, Idea Cellular, addressing the media at the Idea IIFA press conference.
Mr. Pradeep Shrivastava, Chief Marketing Officer, Idea Cellular, addressing the media at the Idea IIFA press conference.

"I am delighted to see IIFA celebrate its 10th year. The Indian and international reception to IIFA has grown over the years, cementing its position as a significant larger than life phenomenon," Amitabh Bachchan said.

"This year at IDEA IIFA Awards, we pay tribute to the greats of Indian cinema through the Lifetime Achievement Awards and the Videocon Golden Decade Honours. We are committed to presenting the talent India has to offer, while giving audiences a chance to experience their film favourites," he said.

In its tenth year, IIFA has instituted a special set of awards to commemorate the last decade in Indian cinema. In celebrating the best of the best, it has put together nominations in five major categories for The Videocon IIFA Golden Decade Honours to be presented at the IDEA IIFA Awards 2009. These awards will be in categories like the Star of the Decade – Male and Female, Movie of the Decade, Music of the Decade and Director of the Decade.

The show by the Cirque Du Soleil will highlight dance, movement and aerial acrobatics, the organisers said.

On day two, business leaders from China, Hong Kong, Macau and India will participate in the Global Business Forum.

Speaking on his company's association with IIFA, Mr. Pradeep Shrivastava, Chief Marketing Officer, Idea Cellular said, "Idea IIFA Awards offer a unique platform to showcase the significance of mobile technology in the entertainment arena. Our relationship with IIFA will facilitate a unique experience for our customers by bringing them the Idea IIFA Awards for another 3 years."

Wizcraft International Entertainment Ltd. Director, Sabbas Joseph said, "IIFA entering its tenth year is proof of its success and we are committed to making this 10th anniversary celebration special. Idea IIFA Awards 2009 will showcase a spectacle that comprises stunning performances by the biggest stars from Indian cinema, a congregation of the most influential business personalities from India and China and a unique tribute to Indian cinema over the last 10 years. We are confident that IIFA 2009 will be a sensational celebration of Indian cinema."

IIFA, conceptualized and produced by Wizcraft International Entertainment Pvt. Ltd. is supported by the key members of the Indian film fraternity and has grown into one of the most important events in the Indian film industry.

Starting as a one-night event in 2000 at the Millennium Done in London, it has now grown into a long weekend of a variety of events. IIFA Awards have now been held in London, Sun City, Johannesburg, Singapore, Malaysia, Dubai, Amsterdam, Yorkshire and Bangkok.

Idea Cellular, part of the Aditya Birla group, is one of the leading GSM mobile services operators in India with more than 44 million subscribers. It has licenses and spectrum to operate in all 22 service areas of India, with commercial operations in 17 service areas, currently.


BIG Cinemas to launch multiplex in Chicago on May 29

Big Cinemas, the exhibition division of Adlabs Films Limited, will open its first branded cinema property in the United States with a five-screen multiplex and a premium lounge in Chicago.
The exterior of the BIG Cinemas in Chicago.
The exterior of the BIG Cinemas in Chicago.

The 1000-seater multiplex, Big Cinemas-Golf Glen, which will be digitally connected to Adlabs India, is located in Niles, Chicago, a press release from the company said.

Adlabs, a part of the Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group (RDAG), is India's largest multiplex chain with 430 screens in India, the US and Malaysia.

Big Cinemas-Golf Glen has a seating of 950 for the five-screen multiplex along with the 60 seater premium lounge, all with top-of-the-line and high-end seats spread across 26,549 sq. feet area.

The digitial connection to Adlabs India will enable the films to be transported on fiber optic cable within 4-6 hours making the physical film prints usage history.
A view of the lounge at BIG Cinemas in Chicago.
A view of the lounge at BIG Cinemas in Chicago.

The multiplex will play a mix of Hollywood, Indian, Polish and Korean films and will have stadium seating to enable live telecasts of cricket matches and other events.

It will have a fully equipped kitchen (serving South Asian cuisine) and bar, which will be managed by one of Chicago’s top award winning restaurants – India House.

“The Chicago launch is in keeping with our vision to establish a strong foothold for Big Cinemas worldwide in markets which have an appetite for Indian cinema. Big Cinemas has a significant presence in the US with 170 screens and contributes 25% of the box office for Hindi Films and over 65% for Tamil and Telugu films released in the US. This multiplex at Niles, Chicago is part of Big Cinema’s strategy to actively promote and ensure better reach of Indian movies,” Mr Anil Arjun, CEO, Adlabs Films, said.
A view of the lounge at BIG Cinemas in Chicago.
A view of the lounge at BIG Cinemas in Chicago.

Over 1000 special guests are expected to attend the launch on May 29.  From time to time this multiplex will also screen Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada, Bengali, Marathi and Punjabi films, the release added.

Recently Adlabs had announced the launch of its Media BPO services which will be one of the world’s largest comprehensive digital restoration and content processing services facilities.

Spread over 90,000 sq ft, it will employ 1200 employees within a year and will comply with MPAA (Motion Pictures Association of America) standards. The BPO is aimed at providing a comprehensive one point solution for the transition from Analog to Digital and Physical Media to Digital Data. The BPO has recently obtained a prestigious order for digitization and digital restoration of 1000 films preserved by the National Film Archive of India (NFAI), Pune.


"13B-Fear Has a New Address" selected for Shanghai fest

"13B-Fear Has a New Address", starring R Madhavan and Neetu Chandra in the lead roles, has been selected for the 12th Shanghai International Film Festival to be hel from June 13 to 21.
A 13B poster.
A 13B poster.

The film will be screened in the Panorama section of the festival, which draws thousands of movie lovers, a press release issued by Big Pictures, producers of the movie, said. The Shanghai International Film Festival is China's largest and only A category film festival.

Big Pictures is the motion picture brand of Reliance Big Entertainment, a part of the Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group.

“I am absolutely ecstatic that 13 B is being showcased at Shanghai International Film Festival, a prominent Asian film festival. 13B is receiving commercial and critical acclaim and I am happy for everyone involved with the film,” director Vikram K. Kumar said.
A 13B poster.
A 13B poster.

Other actors who feature in the film include Sachin Khedekar, Murali Sharma and Poonam Dhillon.

The film released in India on March 6. It was shot and released simultaneously in Hindi and Tamil language original versions. The Tamil version of 13B is named "Yaavarum Nalam".


FDPC and Apparel Brain Connect co-host go-green fashion show

The Fashion Design Promotion Council, set up by the Ministry of Textiles, and Apparel Brain Connect co-hosted an evening of go-green fashion in the capital at the weekend.

Billed as an ode to the global green fashion movement, the event was attended by renowned designer Katherine E Hamnett, who has been honoured as the "Queen of Green" by Vogue magazine and Dr J N Singh, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Textiles.

Ms Hamnett has been working very closely on Organic since 1989 and her relationship with India-based Vasudha Organic to promote organic and ethical fashion has been praised a lot.
Models Showcasing Parvesh and Jai's Collection at a Fashion Show to Promote Organic and Ethical Fashion.
Models Showcasing Parvesh and Jai's Collection at a Fashion Show to Promote Organic and Ethical Fashion.

“We found the platform an extension to our views of promoting young and established designers who practice ethical fashion and whose business also helps in preserving Mother Nature's bounty,” Mr. Vijay Singh, CEO & General Secretary, FDPC said.

Designer Raghavendra Rathore hoped Ms Hamnett's presentation would open up a lot of eyes and encourage the next generation of designers to use the very basic fabric of India "cotton" in a more ethical and responsible way by encouraging the organic-ness of various fabrics.
Katharine E Hamnett with California based designer Kareena.
Katharine E Hamnett with California based designer Kareena.

The evening saw presentations on sustaining textile and how use of organic products could help in saving the environment.

The programme ended with a fashion show where leading designers like Rathore, Varun Bahl, Jai & Parvesh, and California based designer Kareena showcased their collection and pledged their support for ethical fashion in India.


Kites unveiled at Cannes Festival

Big Pictures, the motion pictures brand of Reliance Big Entertainment Ltd (RBEL), today unveiled the first look of Kites, its international production, at a press conference held in Cannes at which the movie's lead actors, superstar Hrithik Roshan and Mexican actress Barbara Mori, were present.
Hrithik Roshan and Barbara Mori star in Kites.
Hrithik Roshan and Barbara Mori star in Kites.

Also present were director Anurag Basu and writer-producer Rakesh Roshan, a press release from RBEL said.

The cast and crew unveiled a teaser trailer and some art posters of the film ( This was to be followed later tonight by a reception hosted by Big Pictures for international buyers and distributors along with the cast and crew.

Big Pictures Chief Operating Officer Sunir Kheterpal said the company had set up a diverse team with the relevant experience to take Kites to the widest possible international audiences. "Cannes 2009 is the beginning of this exciting journey,” he said.

Rakesh Roshan said a film like Kites had never been attempted in India before. "This is our attempt to tap the mainstream international audience and we are hopeful that with an able partner like Big Pictures, we will be able to meet this objective,” he said.

Director Basu said it had been an enriching experience to shoot the film with an international team across world cities. He also said he was happy the film was getting such an exposure at the Cannes Festival, the world's biggest film market.

“Kites is a story of love that goes beyond barriers, boundaries and cultures. With an internationally renowned crew and crisp story telling we have attempted to create a film which we feel has a scope to reach wider world audience and set new benchmarks,” Hrithik Roshan said.

Mori said Kites was her first international experience. "And I must say it has been extremely overwhelming. I have cherished every moment of being a part of this film."

Kites also stars Kangana Ranaut, Nick Brown and Kabir Bedi in pivotal roles. Two versions of the film are being readied for release in the last quarter of 2009. In the international markets, it will release in the English language version whereas in India, the film will release in the Hindi version, which has been shot simultaneously, the release added.


Ashutosh Gowariker to direct English film on Buddha

Well-known film-maker Ashutosh Gowariker will direct a Rs 100 crore English film based on the life of Lord Buddha for Spice Enfotainment, a new venture of the Spice Group headed by industrialist B K Modi.
Ashutosh Gowariker and Dr. BN Modi at the press meet to announce Spice Enfotainment's new project Buddha
Ashutosh Gowariker and Dr. BN Modi at the press meet to announce Spice Enfotainment's new project Buddha

The film titled "Buddha" is one of two movies the company is planning. The other is commercial potboiler titled "No Problem" to be produced in association with Anil Kapoor Productions and to be directed by Aneez Bazmi.

Dr Modi, chairman of the group, which has interests in telecom, media, entertainment, technology and financial services, announced plans to invest Rs 400 crore in the entertainment and media businesses at a press conference here today.

He said Spice Enfotainment has chalked out plans in film production, television production, broadcasting, music, gaming and Internet while creating and owning content and distributing it over multiple platforms, including digital and wireless.

Spice Enfotainment encompasses Spiceworld Malls, Spice Cinemas, Spice Circle Restaurants, Music and Gaming.

Dr Modi said Spice Enfotainment is looking at several movies coming out of India with Asian themes and actors, global language and technology.

"Spice Enfotainment Ltd. will help lovers of entertainment and information consume content through connectivity. It will make significant investments in global content production, exhibition and distribution across multimedia platforms. Inspite of being an intrinsically Indian venture at heart, it will present the best of the Israel-to-Indonesia ‘brown’ belt to the global audiences. The best ‘glocal’ teams will aggregate information, communication and entertainment on digital and mobile devices," he said.

"The global entertainment domain presents numerous opportunities and Spice Enfotainment Ltd. is looking at organic and inorganic growth opportunities across platforms for monetization. Our unique strategy will weave in race, geography and technology. Leveraging a technology-based and digitization model, we are looking at a wide spectrum of possibilities and opportunities in content aggregation and dissemination. And addressing the youth will the cornerstone of our success mantra," he added.

Gowariker, who had, incidentally, portrayed Lord Buddha in Shyam Benegal's television series "Discovery of India", said the script for the move had been written by David Ward. The movie will go on the floor in May 2010 and be completed by the end of the year. Pre-production work will begin this month, he said.

According to the director, who has helmed successful movies such as "Lagaan", said "Buddha" would be shot on locations in the foothills of the Himalayas. He said the film would be an expensive proposition because it would attempt to recreate an era long gone by and would be his most challenging assignment yet. The cast for the film would be a mix of Indian and international actors, he added.


Benegal completes shooting for "Well Done Abba"

Renowned film-maker Shyam Benegal has completed shooting for "Well Done Abba" and the satirical comedy is slated for release later this year.

Benegal has collaborated with Big Pictures, the motion pictures brand of Reliance Big Entertainment Ltd, for the movie.

The final schedule of the film, which stars Boman Irani in a double role along with Minissha Lamba and Samir Dattani, was wrapped in Ramoji Filmcity and Ibrahimpattnam village in Hyderabad, earlier this month, a spokesperson for Big Pictures said.
Shyam Benegal, while directing 'Well Done, Abba'.
Shyam Benegal, while directing 'Well Done, Abba'.

The film has also been been shot in parts at Whistling Woods, Film City, Mumbai and the Mumbai - Pune Expressway.

Benegal has been in the front ranks of film-makers in India right since his first feature film, "Ankur" was released way back in 1974. An author, director and a social activist, Benegal has been honoured with some of the most prestigious awards like Padma Shri, Padma Bhushan, Dadasaheb Phalke Award and numerous National Film Awards.

In ‘Well Done Abba’ he narrates the story of Armaan Ali, a driver working in Mumbai. He takes leave for a month to find a husband for his teenage daughter, who lives in a small locality close to Hyderabad. Armaan Ali returns to work only after 3 months. His young employer wants to sack him but is persuaded to listen to the reason why Armaan got so delayed.

The film is inspired by two short stories; ‘Narsaiyyan Ki Bavdi’ by Jeelani Bano and ‘Phulwa Ka Pul’ by Sanjeev and a film treatment by Jayant Kriplani.

The film has screenplay by Ashok Mishra, music by Shantanu Moitra and lyrics penned by Ashok Mishra, Swanand Kirkire and Ila Arun,

The movie also stars Ravi Kishen, Ila Arun, Salim Ghouse, Sonali Kulkarni, Rajit Kapur, Yashpal Sharma, Ravi Jhankal and Deepika Amin.

Reliance Big Entertainment Ltd. (RBEL) is the flagship media and entertainment arm of the Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group (R-ADAG), with significant presence in film entertainment (film production, distribution, and exhibition), broadcasting and new media ventures.

With investments over USD 1 billion in its Filmed Entertainment business, Big Pictures has built a film production slate in Hindi, English and other Indian languages, which it markets and distributes worldwide. The slate has projects with leading production houses and directors like Vidhu Vinod Chopra, Rakesh Roshan, David Dhawan, Indra Kumar, Ravi Chopra, Farhan Akhtar, Sudhir Mishra. Shaji N. Karun, Shyam Benegal, Rituparno Ghosh, Buddhadev Dasgupta, M.S Sathyu and Amol Palekar.

On the Hollywood slate, Big Pictures has development silos with Nicolas Cage's Saturn Productions, Jim Carrey's JC 23 Entertainment, George Clooney's Smokehouse Productions, Chris Columbus' 1492 Pictures, Tom Hank's Playstone Productions, Brad Pitt's Plan B Entertainment, Jay Roach's Everyman Pictures, Brett Ratner’s Rat Entertainment and Julia Roberts’ Red Om Films.


Tamil Film wins award at New York Festival

Tamil film-maker Krishnan Seshadri Gomatam's debut movie Mudhal Mudhal Mudhal Varai has won the award for the Best Drama Feature in the Best Feature Film (International ) – Genre Awards category at the New York International Independent Film and Video Festival held recently, an official press release said here today.
Satyajit and Anuja reading on the stairs.
Satyajit and Anuja reading on the stairs.

Mudhal Mudhal Mudhal Varai had earlier been selected as one of the 20 films in the Indian Panorama at the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) 2008 held in Goa in November last year. It had been widely acclaimed there for its distinctive storyline which captures the life of an upper middle class family.

The film is based on Chennai-based Gomantam’s own original story. Its cast comprises C P Satyajit, Anuja Iyer, E Kumaravel and Charan alongside 100 other first timers. The cinematography is by Fowzia Fathima , editing by B.Lenin, art direction by Thotaa Tharrani, music by Aslam Mustafa and audiography by A.S. Lakshmi Narayanan.

The film is about the making of the movie itself - a cinematic metaphor for the ancient Hindu belief that life and death is a continuous process. Set in contemporary India, the narrative follows an obsessive film maker, Huggy, desperately trying to make his first feature film. He has a great sense of humour. The different nuances and incidents he sees in life appear like passages out of a movie script to him. Time is running out for him because his girl friend Sindhu suffers from a terminal illness. He wants to marry her. But she says she will marry him only after he has completed his first film.


NDTV Good Times now available in Singapore

NDTV Good Times, the travel and lifestyle channel, today announced its launch on the Singapore Telecommunications Limited (SingTel) - mio TV platform.

"I firmly believe that Good Times programming will strike a chord with Singapore’s multicultural citizens who appreciate the best the world has to offer," Ms Smeeta Chakrabarti, CEO, NDTV Good Times, said.

"NDTV 24x7 is already present on mio TV and we are very happy to extend our relationship with Singtel. The launch of Good Times on mio TV is a testimony to our effort to providing world-class programming to audiences not just in India but across other parts of the world as well," added Rahul Sood, Head – Affiliate Sales & Network Distribution, NDTV.

"We are very pleased to collaborate with NDTV to add on this exciting and very entertaining channel to our pay TV platform," said Mr. Low Ka Hoe, Director, IPTV Business, SingTel. "Travel and lifestyle programming is very popular among Singaporeans, and we are sure that our audiences will quickly form a connection with the informative and engaging content on this channel", he added.

The channel features a wide range of aspirational lifestyle programming on health, fashion, food, travel, luxury and more.

NDTV Good Times is a brand tie-up between NDTV and the UB Group-owned Kingfisher brand.

mio TV is the digital pay TV service offering from SingTel. Launched in July 2007, the service offers a total of 60 channels, of which 15 are on-demand channels.

SingTel is Asia’s leading communications group providing a comprehensive portfolio of services including voice and data solutions over fixed, wireless and Internet platforms, as well as infocomm technology and pay TV. Together with its regional partners, it serves over 232 million mobile customers in eight markets.


UTV New Media launches music video channel

UTV New Media Ltd, the digital arm of UTV, has announced the launch of India's first exclusive music video channel on mobile television.

Branded as UTV@play, the channel will enable subscribers to access videos and music with the click of a button.

A press release issued by the company said the channel would offer a vast catalogue of music videos from Bollywood as well as in different languages.

It also has a collection of international songs from artistes such as Bryan Adams, Akon, Pussycat Dolls and Metallica, it said.

According to the release, UTV@Play is available on Idea, Vodafone, BSNL and MTNL. The users can access it in two ways. They can send a simple SMS. In response to the message, the Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) link is sent to the user, to download the application. They can also directly download the app from the operators’ WAP portals.

The release said research had shown that music is the highest consumed content on mobile telephones, but this area had remained unaddressed till now in the mobile TV space.

"While other players are merely offering a replica of programming on some other medium, UTV@Play has entered this area with content specially available to be consumed on Mobile and maximum compatibility to ensure that the need gap is filled," the release said.

It said the total mobile subscriber base in India, across all operators, is 36.5 crores, as per February figures. Of this number, the total active subscriber base is a mere 1,00,000 across all channels and operators (as on November 14, 2008).

"These are users who have compatible handsets and have subscribed to mobile TV. This shows that there is tremendous potential for Mobile TV in India, and with 3G coming into the Indian market, there is just no looking back," the company said.

The mobile TV channel will initially provide music videos in Hindi, English, Punjabi, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Bhojpuri and Marathi. Later, music videos in Malayalam, Bengali and Gujarati would be added in the second phase.

This facility is now available to the users at a subscription of Rs. 10 per day or at Rs. 30 for the entire month.

"UTV New media is in constant endeavor for innovation and offers youth of the country with the best content in the digital space. We are extremely pleased to launch music video channel on UTV@play which is India’s first full music video channel giving the subscriber an absolute TV viewing experience on the mobile handset. We are sure that the youth will accept with utmost zeal and enthusiasm," Mr T N Prabhu, CEO, UTV New Media Ltd, said.


Shankar Mahadevan rocks at music release of "Sikandar"

Shankar Mahadevan sang "Dhoop Ke Sikke" live here today as BIG Music launched the music of "Sikandar", the film that is set for an April 24 release.

A composite photo of the promotional event

The film is a co-production between BIG Pictures, the motion pictures brand from Reliance Big Entertainment Limited (RBEL), and Sudhir Mishra's production house CineRaas Ltd.

"Dhoop ke Sikke" is penned by Prasoon Joshi, who wrote the song after watching the first cut of the film. Mohit Chauhan sang an adaptation of the nazm "Gulon Mein Rang Bhare", dedicated to renowned Pakistani poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz and adapted for the film by lyricist Neelesh Misra.

Also present at the music launch were music director Ehsaan- Loy, lyricist Prasoon Joshi, co-producer Sudhir Mishra, writer-director Piyush Jha, music directors Sandesh Shandilya, Justin-Uday, Neelesh Misra and singer Shilpa Rao.

"The film triggered a thought in me--to see the human side of a terrorist; to look into his childhood, his dreams etc. Am sure with the help of Shankar Eshaan Loy's great composition this song will be a thought provoking one," said lyricist Joshi.

The film music album has seven songs beginning with ‘Dhoop Ke Sike’ followed by Misra's tribute to Faiz Ahmed Faiz, which has two versions. Yash Narvekar and Hrishikesh Kamerkar set a spiritual mood with ‘Allah Hoo’ while "Arzoo" is a Naat, a traditional hymn sung in school assemblies in Jammu and Kashmir.

Adding a touch of authenticity is ‘Arzoo’, a Naat, a traditional hymn sung in School assemblies in Jammu and Kashmir. The director has chosen the voice of Mehrajuddin, a young boy from Aru in the state to make the song sound as genuine and truthful as possible. A peppy number ‘Manzaraat’, penned by Kumar which is based on traditional Kashmiri folk music sung in Mehndi functions in Kashmir, composed by Justin- Uday and sung by Shilpa Rao, comes next.

The album concludes on an optimistic note of hope and harmony with the youthful song ‘Chaal Apni’ sung by Hrishikesh Kamerkar and Hamsika.

"Sikandar" is a film about a young boy who has a dream to play football for the national team. It is about his aspirations and challenges and how his life unfolds when one fine day he finds a gun on his way to school.

The film stars Parzaan Dastur, the little actor from ‘Kuchh Kuchh Hota Hai’, now in his teens, Ayesha Kapur of ‘Black’ fame, R. Madhavan, Sanjay Suri and debutant Arunoday Singh.


Reliance inks deals with Julia Roberts' Red Om Films and Brett Ratner's Rat Entertainment

Reliance Big Entertainment (RBE) today announced it had expanded its media invesments in Hollywood by signing two separate development deals with Julia Roberts' Red Om Films ad Brett Ratner's Rat Entertainment.

RBE is the media and entertainment company of the Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group. It has so far established such creative partnerships with nine leading production entities.

The earlier seven deals, with Nicolas Cage's Saturn Productions, Jim Carrey's JC 23 Entertainment, George Clooney's Smokehouse Productions, Chris Columbus' 1492 Pictures, Tom Hanks' Playtone Productions, Brad Pitt's Plan B Entertainment, and Jay Roach's Everyman Pictures were announced during the Cannes Film Festival 2008 by RBE Chairman Amit Khanna and President Rajesh Sawhney.

All nine deals provide for the creation of a development silo for each of the production entities and the possibility of RBE co-financing projects that emanate from these development deals. For any green lit projects utilizing RBE co-financing, the filmmakers will enjoy full creative and fiscal freedom, a statement by the company said.

Eight of the partnerships have had development projects approved and there is already a handpicked slate in excess of twenty projects and it is anticipated that most will generate content during 2009, it said.

In announcing the new partnerships, Khanna commented, "Our innovative foray into Hollywood has proven very productive on the development front and we are now looking forward to moving into the filmmaking stage over the coming months. We were immediately impressed by both Julia's and Brett's enthusiasm for our creative partnership plan."

Sawhney added, "These creative partnerships will lead to Reliance Big Entertainment co-financing with the majority of the major US Studios as we are totally respectful of the existing first-look deals that each of our partners enjoys. From the conversations to date, we know that the respective studios will welcome our development silos and our subsequent co-financing ability. We have broken completely new ground by empowering some of the best talent in the global industry."

For the U.S. studios, the Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group provides a partner with expertise in India, which has one of the most successful domestic filmed entertainment businesses in the world but which remains a challenge for non indigenous product.

BIG Pictures, the division of RBE that will focus on media investments outside of India, sees the development deals as the first major building block in the creation of a virtual studio, or new-generation media company. They are part of RBE's long-term strategy for media investments in Hollywood, as it continues to build a fully integrated movie company with substantial holdings in production, distribution and exhibition.

The deals also secure Indian rights for the films which RBE co-finances. Additionally, RBE expects to attract suitable productions, with appropriate incentives, to India, where it is the largest film producer and owns physical studios and facility companies.


Ministry of Tourism launches Social Awareness Campaign featuring Aamir Khan

The Ministry of Tourism today launched a Social Awareness Campaign which features its brand ambassador and well-known film actor Aamir Khan.

The campaign, aimed at sensitising people and stakeholders of the tourism industry about the traditional Indian values of the concept "Atithi Devo Bhavah", will consist of television spots, print advertisments, a website (, face-to-face programmes and posters.

The campaign was launched by Tourism Secretary Sujit Banerjee, who said Aamir Khan and his team were doing it free of cost.

In the first 60-second film, Aamir Khan calls for friendly behaviour towards tourists as it is a matter of national honour and for the economic advantages that accrue to all the stakeholders from the growth in tourism

The second film, a 40-second spot, he advocates the need to preserve and protect the country's rich heritge. It has been shot at the Kanhari Caves, Mumbai.


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