META Theatre Festival in Delhi from March 2-6

Scene from
Scene from "Guti Phulor Gamusa", one of the entries for the Mahindra Excellence in Theatre Awards 2010.

The Mahindra Theatre Festival, featuring the ten finest productions entered for the Mahindra Excellence in Theatre Awards (META) 2010, will be held here from March 2-6, the organisers have said.

The productions will be staged at the Kamani and the Sri Ram Centre auditoria in the capital, with theatre groups from around the country vying for awards in ten categories.

The jury for the awards comprise actor Dhritiman Chaterji, film-maiker M S Sathyu, author Nayantara Sahgal, screenplay writer Ranjit Kapoor, film and stage actress Seema Biswas and director Vijaya Mehta.

The awards night will be held on March 7 at the Taj Mahal Hotel in Delhi and is billed as an unusually interesting theatrical event.

"We are greatly honored to have with us a jury of such great distinction and such exemplary experience. We are very excited and looking forward to their participation in our 5th anniversary year of META," Ravi Dubey, Creative Director of META said.

As many as 230 entries were received for this year's META awards from across the country - the highest number in the last five years.

"That META has attracted over 230 entries from all over India signifies the interest and encouragement it has inspired in theatre companies across India. What is more, it is not just the number of entries that has increased but the quality of the productions that have shown a remarkable improvement every year," he said.

He said that META organisers were now looking at taking the event to the international arena and reinvent it on the global platform.

Scene from
Scene from "Rooparoop", one of the entries for the Mahindra Excellence in Theatre Awards 2010.

During the festival, short-listed productions will perform in front of the jury and audience for awards in the following categories: Best Play, Best Director, Best Original Script, Best Ensemble, Best Stage Design, Best Lighting Director, Best Innovative Sound Design, Best Costume Design, Best Choreography, Best Actor (Male) In a Leading Role, Best Actor (female) in a leading role, Best Supporting Actor (male) and Best Supporting Actor (female).

The highest number of entries were received this year from Maharashtra and the National Capital Region of Delhi, followed by West Bengal, Karnataka and Assam.

The following are the nominations shortlisted for each category:


SHRI INAOCHA for Mirel Masingkha, SUNIL SHANBAG for Sex, Morality and Censorship and ANIL GOHAIN for Guti Phulor Gamusa


ANIL GOHAI & KHIRUD GOGOI for Guti Phulor Gamusa, SUDIP SANYAL for Bharat Katha and HIDAAYAT SAMI for Black Bird


SIMA GHOSH for Bharat Katha, MANJU RAJKONWAR, NIDEDITA PHUKAN, SUMI BORGOHAIN for Guti Phulor Gamusa, KALYANI KULKARNI for Sex, Morality and Censorship, and TARUN FAIKIA for A -Chik A- Song


NAYANTARA KOTIAN, PRASHANT PRAKASH, VIVEK JADHAV for Sex, Morality and Censorship, DEEPAN SIVARAMAN for Spinal Cord, BIDYAWATI PHUKAN for Guti Phulor Gamusa and PABITRA RABHA for A -Chik A- Song


MANISH MITRA for Bharat Katha, BIDYAWATI PHUKAN for Guti Phulor Gamusa, DEEPAN SIVARAMAN for Spinal Cord, MAYA JADHAV, MAYUR VAIDYA for Sex, Morality and Censorship and PABITRA RABHA for A -Chik A- Song


RAJASHREE WAD SAWANT for Sex, Morality and Censorship, MANJU RAJKONWAR for Guti Phulor Gamusa and SHANTA SINGH for Mirel Masingkha


RASIKA JOSHI for White Lily Aani Night Rider, KETAKI THATTE for Sex, Morality and Censorship, SHERNAZ PATEL for Black Bird


NACHIKET POORNAPATRE for Garbo, HAPPY RANAJIT for Roop Aroop, NAGESH BHONSLE for Sex, Morality and Censorship and AKASH KHURANA for Black Bird


RASIKA JOSHI for White Lily Aani Night Rider, KETAKI THATTE for Sex, Morality and Censorship, SHERNAZ PATEL for Black Bird






DR. YUMNAM SADANAND SINGH for Mirel Masingkha , SUNIL SHANBAG for Sex, Morality and Censorship, BIDYAWATI PHUKAN for Guti Phulor Gamusa, MANISH MITRA for Bharat Katha and AKARSH KHURANA for Black Bird


BHARAT KATHA by Kasba Arghya, GARBO by Aasakta, GUTI PHULOR GAMUSA by UTSA, MIREL MASINGKHA by The Kanglie Mime Theatre Repertory, ROOP AROOP by Shaabdaakar, SEX, MORALITY AND CENSORSHIP by Theatre Arpana, SPINAL CORD by Oxygen Theatre Company, WHITE LILY AANI NIGHT RIDER by Anamika, BLACK BIRD by Akvarious Productions and A -CHIK A- SONG by Dapon.


Omi Vaidya, Shruti Seth in IndusInd Bank's new ad campaign

Stills from one of the ad campaigns for IndusInd Bank featuring Omi Vaidya and Shruti Seth.
Stills from one of the ad campaigns for IndusInd Bank featuring Omi Vaidya and Shruti Seth.

Omi Vaidya, who grabbed attention with his role as Chatur in the Aamir Khan-Kareena Kapor starrer 3 Idiots, will appear in a television advertisement campaign for the first time in a series of three ads for the private sector IndusInd Bank.

Vaidya will feature in ads with Shruti Seth, popular television actress who has acted in Comedy Circus and

The ads, which are meant to push the bank's various services such as mobile alerts, online payments and Ready2Use savings accounts kit, are set to go on air from February 26.

They have been directed by Imtiaz Ali, who has helmed successful films like "Jab We Met" and "Love Aaj Kal".

"The ad campaign is aimed at tickling hearts (and minds) of viewers to establish the brand and its superior customer-centric services in humourous, fresh and heartfelt manner," a press release from the bank said.

The campaign will target potential customers from across age groups and genders. "The thought behind the campaign is to use subtle humour to highlight IndusInd Bank's world-class services like Mobile Alerts, Online Payments and Ready2Use Savings Account Kit, designed to make banking a hassle-free and pleasurable experience," it said.

"This ad campaign takes ahead our initiative to reposition IndusInd Bank as a young, energetic and responsive brand," Mr Romesh Sobti, MD & CEO of IndusInd Bank, said.

Stills from one of the ad campaigns for IndusInd Bank featuring Omi Vaidya and Shruti Seth.
Stills from one of the ad campaigns for IndusInd Bank featuring Omi Vaidya and Shruti Seth.

"This year is going to be the year of brand building for IndusInd Bank and we will witness consistent campaigns and other branding initiatives talking about product and service innovations. IndusInd Bank aims to transform into a bank for the rising Indian, imbibing the values of confidence, progression and dynamism," he said.

The three ads show how Vaidya and Seth, who play a young married couple (Mr. & Mrs. Chowgle), respond to each other during their day-to-day conversations. Each conversation between the two is humorous and ends with a focused message about one of the services which is offered by the bank. Each situation is a metaphor to communicate the service proposition.

Mr. Sumant Kathpalia, Head-Consumer Banking, IndusInd Bank said, "The new advertising campaign focuses on our customer friendly services.All the ads, in addition to the humour, are giving the core message of IndusInd Bank’s commitment to provide a world- class banking experience."

IndusInd Bank has taken up an aggressive brand-building programme since last year, when it undertook its first ever mass media campaign. Since then, it has been consistent in communication through television, radio and outdoor and print advertising.

Stills from one of the ad campaigns for IndusInd Bank featuring Omi Vaidya and Shruti Seth.
Stills from one of the ad campaigns for IndusInd Bank featuring Omi Vaidya and Shruti Seth.

Mr. Mohit Ganju, Head – Marketing, IndusInd Bank said, "This ad campaign is built on strong consumer insights and each of the situations depicted in the Ads are a slice of life and extremely relatable. The choice of casting and humor will definitely help us break the clutter and create some disruptive communication. We had chosen Imtiaz Ali to direct the ad films and he has done full justice to the endeavor. Omi and Shruti really got into the characters and did a great job. IndusInd Bank as a brand will get more recall and mileage from this ad campaign."

RK Swamy BBDO, New Delhi is the creative agency for the campaign. The campaign has been conceptualised by P S Mann, Creative Director, RK Swamy and the script has been put to light by Ankur Suman, Creative Group Head of the agency.

IndusInd Bank plans to roll out the campaign in almost all the popular TV Channels of the country between March and April. The campaign is in Hinglish language and it will be released in regional languages on all the regional channels. Estimated media spends for the TV Campaign is Rs. 5 crore, the release added.


MNIK grosses Rs 150 cr in 10 days

A still from the film 'My name is Khan'.
A still from the film 'My name is Khan'.

Karan Johar's "My name is Khan", featuring Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol in the main roles, has grossed Rs 150 crore worldwide in the first 10 days after its release, the film's producers said today.

A press release from the producers said "My Name is Khan" (MNIK) had become only the third film in Bollywood history to touch this mark within the first ten days. Trade analysts expected it to become, within the coming week, the highest grossing Shah Rukh Khan film ever.

MNIK, a love story set against the backdrop of racial discrimination post 9/11, had raked in Rs 90.2 crore ($ 19 million) worldwide in its first three days, the biggest ever three-day collection worldwide in the history of Indian cinema.

The makers of the film are happy that MNIK has achieved all this in February, rather than in the summer holidays or the festive October-December period. Traditionally, February is not considered a strong period for a major film release because of the cold weather in many parts of the country and the world and school examinations in some parts of India. Besides, MNIK had to contend with controversies as well as the situation arising out of the bomb blast in Pune on February 13.

According to the release, the business done by MNIK in ten days in February was twice that achieved by any other Bollywood film ever released in this month in the past.

The release said MNIK was the biggest Bollywood film of all time within ten days in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), South Africa, the Netherlands, Hong Kong, Singapore, Indonesia, East and West Africa, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Mauritius.

Mr Mario Haddad, Head of Empire International Middle East, said that due to the demand they were opening the film in Jordan, Lebanon and Syria on March 10.

In the United Kingdom, MNIK has become the fastest film to cross GBP 2 million, managing the feat in just 11 days. The producers said that in the United States and Canada, MNIK was already the highest grossing Shah Rukh film of all time, within just ten days of release.

"We are delighted to be entering this elite group with our first major Bollywood venture. The film was created for a global audience and continues to break records worldwide. It is truly proving to be India's first global Bollywood film," Mr Vijay Singh, CEO of Fox Star Studios, added.


Aishwarya Rai denies tabloid report, Bachchans furious

File photo of Aishwarya Rai Bachchan.
File photo of Aishwarya Rai Bachchan.

Film star Aishwarya Rai Bachchan has denied a report carried by a Mumbai tabloid that claimed that she was suffering from stomach tuberculosis and could not bear a child while she was being treated for the ailment.

Her husband, actor Abhishek Bachchan, and her father-in-law, megastar Amitabh Bachchan were furious at the report and wrote angry posts on their Twitter pages and blog, respectively.

"I am completely shocked, appalled and extremely upset with the contents of the article," Ms Bachchan wrote to the Mumbai Mirror, which carried excerpts from her letter on its website.

"I completely deny the report. It is fabricated and false. It is very disappointing that your office did not even bother to verify this article with me, my family, my spokesperson or my office. I would think it only ethical and correct to get the person in question's side of the story or verification before printing such news," she said.

Abhishek said the article was disgusting and appalling. "As a husband and a man I'm shocked that one can talk so irresponsibly about a woman, that too FALSELY!! On a personal note, as a husband, I will not stand for such rubbish being written about my wife," he said.

"I have never reacted to all the fabricated stories written by the media about me and my own. BUT THIS IS THE LIMIT!!!" the younger Bachchan tweeted on the micro-blogging site.

"You want to write and malign me or my father I will take it. But the ladies of my home are off limits! They've gone too far this time," Abhishek said. "Such integrity that they didn't even write the jounalist's name. Takes guts to stand by your work!"

Abhishek said Aishwarya had asked the paper for a "retraction and apology". "They've printed her denial but not the rest of the letter. And haven't had the decency to apologise," he wrote.

"Apart from the fact that they have written so irresponsibly about a woman, let alone my wife, my issue is when is all this kind of journalism going to stop???? I have immense respect for the media. They are the opinion makers of a nation, our conscience. THEY MUST BE RESPONSIBLE!!!" he added.

Amitabh Bachchan told the readers of his blog that he was writing in "deep anguish, pain and disgust".

"I am printing below an article that has been published today in the Mumbai Mirror, a sister tabloid of the 'prestigious" Times of India. This article is completely false, completely fabricated, unsubstantiated, insensitive and of the lowest quality of journalism there ever was," he wrote.

"I am too incensed and angered by the contents above," he wrote below a copy of the report he posted on his blog.

"Not a single portion of the article is true!!" he said.

"I am the head of my family. Aishwarya is not my daughter-in-law, she is my daughter, a woman, a lady in my house and home. If anyone will speak derogatorily about her, I shall fight for her till my last breath. If you have something to say to the men in the house, Abhishek or me, I shall bear it. BUT .. if you shall make injudicious remarks on the women in my home, I shall not tolerate it!!!"

When contacted in Mumbai, an editor of the Mumbai Mirror declined to make any comment in the matter.


Aamir Khan quits panel on Copyright Act

Well-known actor Aamir Khan has resigned from a committee set up by the Government to consider amendments to the Copyright Act, upset by media reports about the discussions members of the panel had with Union Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal in Mumbai last Sunday.

The actor e-mailed his resignation yesterday to Mr Sibal just two days after the panel was named, saying he was taking the step because of the public attack on him. He said the media reports had turned attention away from a genuine debate about copyright issues.

Aamir Khan said he felt he had a lot to contribute to the ongoing debate but could not make any meaningful contribution in this atmosphere.

Mr Sibal told reporters that it was sad that details of the discussion in the committee had been leaked to the media. He said he respected Aamir Khan's reaction and said that any other person in his place would also have reacted in the same way.

He said the work of the committee would go on, and some other person would soon be appointed to take the actor's place.

A Mumbai newspaper reported today that Aamir Khan had, taking the side of film producers, said at the meeting that lyricists did not really contribute much to the impact of the song. He suggested that a song became a hit because it was picturised on a big star.

Javed Akhtar took exception to this, and an argument between the two soon followed. According to the report, Javed said at one stage that the so-called contribution of the actors was nothing but interference.

Apart from Aamir Khan and Javed Akhtar, the other members of the committee are lyricist Prasoon Joshi, music directors Vishal Dadlani and Ram Sampat, script writers Anjum Rajabali and Saket Choudhury and music companies T-Series and Sa Re Ga Ma.

Mr Sibal told last Sunday's meeting that the prevailing situation in the film industry did not do justice to creative people like lyricists and music composers. He said the proposed amendments in the Copyright Act, 1957 would ensure that authors (lyricists and music composers) would not be able to assign intellectual rights to the film producer.

He said this would also entitle lyricists and music composers to a part of the revenue stream from the use of their creations for other purpsoes outside the film.

Mr Sibal said the Government was not interfering in the film business but just ensuring that copyright remained with the creator.

He said the Goverment wanted the Indian film industry to be the best in the world and thus wanted to increase the creative element and incentivise creativity. He said the changes in the Act would be in accordance with the TRIPS Agreement on Intellectual Property Rights.

He said the Copyright (Amendment) Bill would be introduced in the Budget session of Parliament, after which it would be referred to a Standing Committee of Parliament, which would hold public hearings and make suggestions. He said this Ministry would examine the suggestions and take the Bill to the Cabinet before finally intoducing it in Parliament.


Jasraj, Amonkar, Yamini among 6 Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellows

File photo of Pandit Jasraj.
File photo of Pandit Jasraj.

Renowned classical vocalists Pandit Jasraj and Kishori Amonkar, Bharata Natyam dancer Yamini Krishnamurti, Carnatic violinist Lalgudi Jayaraman, actor Shreeram Lagoo and eminent Sanskrit scholar and theatre personality Kamlesh Dutt Tripathi have been chosen as Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellows.

The Akademi is India's national academy of music, dance and drama and the fellowship is a rare and prestigious honour, restricted to a very limited number of personalities in the field of performing arts at a given time.

At present, there are 32 Fellows of the Sangeet Natak Akademi. The decision was taken by the General Council of the Akademi at its meetings held here on January 29 and February 12.

The council also selected 33 artistes from the fields of music, dance and theatre for the Sangeet Natak Akademi Awards (Akademi Puraskar) for the year 2009.

In the field of music, those chosen for the awards are Abdul Rashid Khan and Vasundhara Komkali for Hindustani Vocal Music, Lachman Singh Seen (Tabla) and Ali Ahmad Hussain (Shehnai) for Hindustani Instrumental Music, Parassala B Ponnammal for Carnatic Vocal, U Srinivas (Mandolin) and Dandamudi Sumathi Rama Mohan Rao (Mridangam) for Carnatic Instrumental Music, and L. Ibohalmacha Singh (Nata Sankirtana) for Other Major Traditions of Music.

In the field of dance, the awards have gone to Ananda Shankar Jayant (Bharatanatyam), Prerana Shrimali (Kathak), Kalamandalam Rajan (Kathakali), L. Bino Devi (Manipuri), Geeta Mahalik (Odissi), Vyjayanthi Kashi (Kuchipudi), Daksha Sheth (Creative & Experimental Dance) and Kala Krishna (Other Major Traditions of Dance – Andhranatyam).

The winners in theatre are Shankar Narayan Navre (Marathi) and Vayala Vasudevan Pillai (Malayalam) for Playwriting, Sudha Shivpuri and Neeta Mohindra for Acting, and Joy Michael and Dinesh Thakur for Direction. For Allied Theatre Arts, Kamal Arora (Make-up) and Kuldeep Singh (Music for Theatre) have been selected.

For their contribution to Other Traditional/Folk/ Tribal Music/ Dance/ Theatre, Musafir Ram Bhardwaj, Folk Dance (Himachal Pradesh); Vilayat Khan Ragi, Dhadhi Folk Music (Punjab); U K Kunjirama Panicker, Theyyam (Kerala); Jaganath Behera, Pala (Orissa); Shanti Jain, Folk Music (Bihar); Vithal Gangaram Umap, Folk Theatre (Maharashtra) and Bhikhudan Govindbhai Gadhvi, Folk Music (Gujarat) have been selected.

Moinul Haque has been selected for the award for his contribution to Mime and Leela Venkataraman has been selected for her overall contribution to Performing Arts, an official press releae said.

The Akademi Fellow (Akademi Ratna) and Akademi Award (Akademi Puraskar) have been conferred since 1952, which not only symbolize the highest standard of excellence and achievements on a national basis, but also recognize sustained individual work and contribution to the practice and appreciation of the arts through performance, teaching and scholarship.

The honour of Akademi Fellow carries purse money of Rs 3,00,000 and Akademi Awards carry Rs 1,00,000, besides Tamrapatra and Angavastram.


MNIK rakes in Rs 90.2 crore in opening weekend

A still from the film 'My name is Khan'.
A still from the film 'My name is Khan'.

Karan Johar's "My Name is Khan", starring Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol, has raked in Rs 90.2 crore ($ 19 milion) worldwide in its first three days, the biggest ever three-day collection worldwide in the history of Indian cinema, the film's producers said today.

A press release said the movie had smashed existing global opening records for Indian films in every country in which it was released this non-holiday three-day weekend.

My Name is Khan (MNIK) is a love story set against the backdrop of racial discrimination post 9/11 and has struck a chord with audiences all over.

"The most exciting part is that the worldwide collections jumped every day from Friday to Saturday to Sunday. This shows that the audience is absolutely loving Rizvan and Mandira," Vijay Singh, CEO Fox Star Studios, said, referring to the main characters played by Khan and Kajol in the movie.

The release said the Sunday collections in markets like the United States, the United Kingdm and the Middle East set new records for the biggest single day internationally for a Bollywood movie.

Fox International Productions President Sanford Panitch was ecstatic about the movie's performance so far. "While initially driven by the power of this extraordinary cast and director, it is My Name Is Khan as a film that has captivated audiences everywhere we have opened. An incredible start to this powerful and moving film."

According to the release, despite the protests by the Shiv Sena and other groups in Maharashtra, Gujarat, Indore and other centres on Friday and part of Saturday, the film had opened exceptionally well. In the states where there were no such issues, including Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Kerala, the collections had been the highest ever, it claimed.

The release said the $ 19m worldwide opening weekend for the film had surprised even Hollywood pundists as it had beaten the worldwide opening weekend numbers for John Travolta’s "From Paris With Love" and Mel Gibson’s "Edge of Darkness" which were released in the last couple of weeks.

It said the movie had also outperformed "Valentine's Day" in North America, recording the highest ever per screen average of any film in North America at $ 15,500.


ESG honoured for making IFFI venue disabled-friendly

The Entertainment Society of Goa (ESG) was honoured here recently for making the venue of the annual International Film Festival of India (IFFI) disabled friendly.

The honour was bestowed on the ESG at the We Care Film Festival on Disability here by its organisers, the BITS Pilani Goa Campus, Brotherhood, the National Trust, United Nation Information Centre, UNESCO, and Asian Academy of Film and Television of India (AAFT) in association with the local organizations Sangath and Disability Rights Association, Goa .

The recognition was received on behalf of ESG by its General Manager Venancio Furtado, who appreciated the objectives of the We Care Film Fest and its participatory rating process. He gave an assurance that the ESG would be happy to associate with the We Care Film Fest in the near future.

The festival, which travels to educational institutions to create greater acceptance of the differently-abled as part of mainstream society, witnessed the screening of 32 documentary and short films on various forms of disability from India and overseas.

The festival is travelling to around 15 venues in the country over the next three months. It has introduced a participatory rating process in which the students and the audiences rate each film and an indepent jury judges the films on the basis of these ratings.

BITS Pilani Goa Campus Director K E Raman appealed to the students to think about the various issues of persons with disabilities and make use of their knowledge to promote their rights as set out in the various acts like PWD Act, the National Trust Act and UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with disability which came into force on May 3, 2009.

He said BITS had been organizing various national-level cultural and other educational events in its Pilani, Goa, Hyderabad and Dubai centres, but it was the first time that it had organized a festival on disability issues. He promised that BITS would continue to support the We Care Filmfest and take it to other centres of BITS as well.

Mr. Avelino D’Sa, President of the Disability Rights Association of Goa, welcomed the holding of the We Care Fimfest in the state and said the event would be taken to various corporates, State Government departments and owners of shopping malls to sensitize them on disability issues.

Mr. Vishram Gupta, Chairperson of Sangath Goa, said short films are very effective in sensitizing general public, students, children and persons with disability and their parents. He said the festival would be taken to schools and other educational institutions of Goa .

We Care Filmfest founder Director Satish Kapoor said: "a world that truly embraces diversity is one where the rights, dignity, and well-being of individuals are realized regardless of differences in race, faith, gender – or ability. People living with disabilities often surprise us with their abilities, with what they can do rather than what they cannot do, but not many tell their stories."

He said the festival was an opportunity for all students to develop their understanding and perspectives relating to disability issues besides contributing to the process of participatory rating. This would help the students whenever they plan to make short films/documentaries on disability. It would also help sensitise the general audience on various issues of disability, he said.


DQE, Al Jazeera tie-up to telecast Jungle Book in Arabic

Animation, gaming and live action entertainment production and distribution company DQE today said it had signed an exclusive broadcast deal with Al Jazeera Children's Channel (JCC) for the telecast of the 52x11-minute-episode animate series and the 60-minute television feature of "The Jungle Book".

The company said in a press release that the agreement would allow JCC exclusive broadcasting rights across 22 Arab countries for a term of five years.

It said the Arabic version of The Jungle Book will be broadcast for the first time in 3d CGI across 22 countries: Algeria, Bahrain, Djibouti, Egypt, Libya, Comoros, Iraq, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Lebanon, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates and Yemen through JCC's feeds on Arabsat, Nilesat, Hotbird and Eurobird.

"The broadcast licensing agreement with Al Jazeera for our Jungle Book TV series is testament to the universal appeal of our Jungle Book adaptation.. This relationship is of immense strategic value to DQE for other potential alliances," Mr Tapaas Chakravarti, Chairman & CEO of DQE Group said.

Ms Malika Alouane, Director of Channels’ Programming at JCC said: "We are delighted to obtain the Arabic rights for the Jungle Book animated series and adapt it to our audience. The story book is a classic and well in line with many stories told across the vast territories JCC covers; in some countries, it is introduced in schools as part of students’ curriculum."

"We are pleased to partner with DQE and surely appreciate the quality they have achieved in bringing to life this promising children TV content", she added.

DQE recently filed its Draft Red Herring Prospectus with the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) seeking to go public.

The Jungle Book TV series and 60 minute Tele Movie in HD-3D, developed and produced by DQE group at a global budget of Euro 9.2 million in co-production with German broadcasting and distribution giant ZDF Group as well as famous French broadcaster TF-1 Group, supported by MoonScoop, France, a prolific producer of children's animated content, has already been sold for TV broadcasting to ABC TV Australia and for 27 countries to Disney Multiplex of Channels. Strategic licensing and merchandising discussions underway, the release added.


Gutman's "August 17", Kulkarni's "The Spell" win Golden Conch at MIFF

Chairperson of the Jury Committee, Trinh T. Minh-Ha addressing a Press Conference held at 11th MIFF, 2010 at NCPA on 08.02.10. Also present in the Conference were Jury Members, Asha Parekh, veteran actress from Bollywood and Dr. S. Krishnaswamy, Film Maker from India.
Chairperson of the Jury Committee, Trinh T. Minh-Ha addressing a Press Conference held at 11th MIFF, 2010 at NCPA on 08.02.10. Also present in the Conference were Jury Members, Asha Parekh, veteran actress from Bollywood and Dr. S. Krishnaswamy, Film Maker from India.

Russian director Alexander Gutman’s "August 17" won the Golden Conch for the best documentary, while "The Spell" directed by Umesh Kulkarni was adjudged the best fiction film at the 11th Mumbai International Film Festival of Documentary, Animation and Short Films (MIFF), which concluded in Mumbai today.

"August 17" was unanimously praised by the jury headed by Trinh T Min-ha of the United States for its rigorous, transformative treatment of the unlimited human spirit in an extremely limited space.

Gutman’s 53-minute documentary traces the life and thoughts of Boris Bezotechestvo, sentenced to life imprisonment in a small cell. His world is all of four walls and a view from the window.

The St.Petersburg-based film-maker received the Golden Conch award along with Rs 3,00,000 in cash in the "Best Documentary above 30 minutes" category. The jury did not recommend any award in the less than 30 minutes category.

Ritu Sarin and Sonam Tenzing’s documentary "The Sun behind the Clouds" won the Silver Conch and Rs 150,000 in cash in the "Documentary above 30 minutes" category, for "upholding the spirit of liberty and maintaining a sense of balance while bringing about different perspectives within the Tibetan struggle." The film is about Dalai Lama’s efforts to resolve the conflict peacefully and reaction of the younger generation to the new stance.

Anwar Jamal’s "Anwar- Dream of a Dark Night" and Deepa Bhatia’s "Nero’s Guests" won special mentions.

In the "Documentary under 30 minutes" category – "Vagabond – A nomad in spirit and in reality" and "I Found a Thread" jointly shared the Silver Conch award and the cash prize of Rs 1,50,000. "Vagabond" gets the award for a sensible portrayal of a very difficult and traumatic episode of contemporary Indian history. "I Found a Thread" rekindles the ideals of Mahatma Gandhi to the contemporary society.

In the fiction category, Vinoo Choliparambil’s "Vitthal" won the Silver Conch and a Rs 1,50,000 cash prize. The film deals with child psychology, brilliantly depicting a child’s negative moods and his emotional struggle. Geetu Mohandas’s "Are You Listening" and Alex Holmes "Ali and the Ball" ( Australia ) won special mention of the jury.

"Burma VJ- Reporting from a Closed Country" won the award for the Best Film of the Festival produced by Line Lense Moller of Denmark. The film is about the struggle for democracy in Myanmar .

Deepa Bhatia’s "Nero’s Guests" received the Critics Award and a Certificate of Merit for revealing the reality of India ’s agriculture sector.

Whistling Woods International’s production "Bejinxed" won the Best Student Film award instituted by the Indian Documentary Producers’ Association (IDPA). The award carries the IDPA Trophy and a cash prize of Rs 25,000.

Shaji Pattanam’s "The Hunted- In Search of Home and Hope" was adjudged the best debut film of a director. This award comprising a trophy and Rs 100,000 is instituted by the Dadasaheb Phalke Chitranagari of Government of Maharashtra.

Sanjay Jangir’s "Wait and Path" which traces the initial frustration and later blossoming of hope of a differently-abled person won the Golden Conch in the Best Animation Film Category along with a cash prize of Rs 3,00,000.

National Institute of Design’s "Ukadi Pukadi" won the Silver Conch while Makrand Joshi’s "Lost Home" which traces how wild life finds concrete jungles more formidable won the special mention in the animation category .

Other members of the jury were Gianfranco Rosi of Italy, Peter Van Huystee of the Netherlands, S Krishnaswamy and Asha Parekh from India.

The awards were presented at a glittering ceremony in the presence of Maharashtra Governor K Sankarnarayanan, Minister of State for Information & Broadcasting Chaudhary Mohan Jatua and Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minsiter Chhagan Bhujbal.


Bachchan likely to star in Malayalam film

Amitabh Bachchan.
Amitabh Bachchan.

Bollywood megastar Amitabh Bachchan is likely to act with well-known actor Mohan Lal in a Malayalam film based on the December, 1999 hijacking of an Indian Airlines flight to Kandahar in Afghanistan, Major Ravi, the director of the movie said.

Maj Ravi said he had narrated the story to Bachchan last night in Kochi, when Mohan Lal was also present.

"He listened to the story and gave me the dates straightaway. He said, 'I am doing the movie'," Maj Ravi told NetIndian over the telephone.

Maj Ravi, a former Indian Army officer, said the story of the film is only loosely based on the Kandahar hijacking case, using it as a starting point. "The story is then developed in my own way," he said. The movie has been tentatively titled "Kandahar".

Bachchan would be making a "guest appearance" in the movie but still have a "meaty role" as the father of one of the passengers on the plane and figure prominently in the climax scenes, he explained.

Maj Ravi said he had been working on the script for the last two years and would now be trying to finish work on it as quickly as possible so that he could apply for the necessary clearances from the army authorities. He said he planned to start shooting for the film by June or July.

Oscar Award-winning sound engineer Resul Pookutty will also be associated with the movie, he added.

Maj Ravi's real name is Major A K Ravindran. A recipient of the President's medal, he had joined the army in 1975 and had graduated from the Army Cadet College to become a commando in 1988. He was involved in the mission to capture suspects in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, an experience which he used to direct Mission 90 Days in 2007.

Using his army experience, he initially worked as a military consultant for many Indian films and worked with some of the best-known names in the industry. His first feature film was Keertichakra, starring Mohan Lal, on the militancy in Jammu & Kashmir, which won all-round applause. His third film Kurukshetra was based on the Kargil War, and also featured Mohan Lal.

Bachchan referred to the proposal about the movie in his blog. "Mohanlal comes up to the room later and narrates a script for which he wishes me to do a days’ guest appearance. I am inclined on principle but will read the script and revert," he said.

If Bachchan does act in the film, it will be his first appearance in a Malayalam film.

Bachchan was in Kochi to attend a function to felicitate Pookutty. He also wrote about his meeting with superstar Mammootty and Mohan Lal at the event.

"I meet up with the two greats of Malayalam cinema - Mohanlal and Mamooty. Their work is testimony to their greatness. Effortless, easy and so completely natural that it belies all that you may have conceived about how acting needs to be done," he remarked.


Aamir Khan expresses wish to work with Amitabh Bachchan

Bollywood actor Aamir Khan has expressed a desire to work with Amitabh Bachchan when the megastar visited his house yesterday to condole his father Tahir Hussain's death.

"We went across to Aamir’s place and spent time with him and his family. Tried to keep the atmosphere light and cheerful. It was pleasant," Bachchan wrote on his blog.

"As Aamir came down to see us off when we left his house, he expressed - 'We must work together sir .. '. I told him to direct a film. He has such talent for it. He nodded approval," he said.

"But we all know that nods of approval and desire to work together, make good conversation ready to (be) picked up as a headline tomorrow, and nothing more," he added.

The actor remembered Hussain as an "effervescent gentleman, producer and director."

He recalled that his wife Jaya Bachchan had worked with Hussain in "Anamika" with Sanjeev Kumar.


Ranbir Kapoor goes to NBA in New York

Bollywood star Ranbir Kapoor, who was in New York recently, took the opportunity to visit his athlete friends from the NBA.

Reports reaching here said the actor received a warm welcome from NBA's most valuable player Kobe Bryant, who gifted him a pair of his favourite sneakers.

Nate Robinson, the 2009 Sprite Slam Dunk contest winner, gifted Ranbir his autographed jersey.

"I heard of stories about Madison Square Garden, but actually being in this was just amazing...I'm still shaking with excitement," the actor was quoted as saying of his experience.


Photos courtesy Getty Images

Ranbir Kapoor with Nate Robinson.
Ranbir Kapoor with Nate Robinson.
Ranbir Kapoor with his autographed jersey.
Ranbir Kapoor with his autographed jersey.
Kobe Bryant with Ranbir Kapoor.
Kobe Bryant with Ranbir Kapoor.

National Awards: Antaheen is Best Film, Priyanka, Limaye Best Actors

Bengali film "Antaheen" was chosen as the Best Film while Priyanka Chopra bagged the Best Actress Award for her role in Hindi film "Fashion" and Upendra Limaye got the Best Actor Award for his performance in Marathi film "Jogva" in the 56th National Film Awards for 2008 announced here today.

"Antaheen" also won awards for the Best Cinematography (Avik Mukhopadhyay), Best Lyrics (Anindya Bannerjee and Chandranil Bhattacharya) and Best Female Playback Singer (Shreya Ghoshal).

The Juries for Feature Films, Non-Feature Films and for Best Writing on Cinema presented their report to Union Information & Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni earlier in the day.

Hariharan got the Best Male Playback Singer award for "Jogva", which also won the awards for the Best Film on Social Issues and for Best Music Direction.

Bollywood star Kangana Ranaut and Arjun Rampal were selected for the Best Supporting Actress Award for "Fashion" and the Best Supporting Actor Award for "Rock On", respectively.

"Antaheen", directed by Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury, was chosen as the Best Film for its "lyrical blend of technical devices in the right proportion to depict shifting human relationships in an urban scenario."

The Indira Gandhi Award for Best First Film of a Director was given to "A Wednesday" directed by Neeraj Pandey for its "slick and searing exposure of the tension below the normal rhythm of life and the angst of the common man in Mumbai."

Hindi film "Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye!" directed by Dibakar Banerjee got the award for the Best Popular Film providing wholesome entertainment for its "intelligent treatment of an off-beat subject that makes it different within the popular format."

The Nargis Dutt Award for Best Film on National Integration went to Assamese movie "Ai Kot Nai"directed by Manju Borah for its honest look at a burning problem in North-East India, its attempt to break down artificial boundaries and giving it a human and aesthetic appeal.

"Little Zizou" in English/Gujarati, directed by Sooni Taraporewala was chosen for the Best Film on Family Values for its witty and intelligent handling of the conflicts and convictions confronting the Parsi community.

The Marathi movie "Jogva" directed by Rajeev Patil was given the award for the Best Film on Social Issues for its hard-hitting comment on the victims of age-old social customs, while "Jiata Bhoota" in Oriya got the award for the Best Film on Environment Conservation.

"Gubbachigalu" in Kannada was chosen the Best Children's Film for its imaginative portrayal of a magic world that exists in the minds of children.

"Roadside Romeo" in Hindi, directed by Jugal Hansraj, got the award for the Best Animation Film.

The Best Director award went to Bala for Tamil film "Naan Kadauul" for its powerful handling of an extraordinary subject that focuses on marginal characters with great conviction.

Limaye was chosen Best Actor for his restrained yet powerful depiction of a complex character while Chopra got the Best Actress award for her convincing portrayal of a whole range of emotions within a single character.

Shams Patel won the award for the Best Child Artiste for his very natural depiction of a street child of a street child thrown into an unusual situation in the Hindi movie "Thanks Maa".

The following are the other awards announced today:

Best Screenplay: Sachin Kundalkar, Gandha (Marathi)

Best Audiography: Pramod J Thomas, Gandha (Marathi)

Best Editing: A Sreekar Prasad, Firaaq (Hindi)

Best Art Direction: Gautam Sen, Firaaq (Hindi)

Best Costume Designer: Neeta Lulla, Jodha Akbar (Hindi)

Best Make-up Artist: Moorthy V., Naan Kadauul (Tamil)

Best Music Direction: Ajay and Atul, Jogva (Marathi)

Best Lyrics: Anindya Bannerjee and Chandranil Bhattacharya, Antaheen (Bengali)

Special Jury Award: Bioscope (Malayalam), Directedby K M Madhusudhanan

Best Special Effects: Govardhan, Mumbai Meri Jaan (Hindi)

Best Choreography: Chinni Prakash & Rekha Prakash, Jodha Akbar (Hindi)

Best Assamese Film: Mon Jai, directed by M Maniram

Best Bengali Film: Shob Charitro Kalponik, directed by Rituparno Ghosh

Best Hindi Film: Rock On, directed by Abhishek Kapoor

Best Kannada Film: Vimukthi, directed by P Sheshadri

Best Malayalam Film: Thirakkada, diected by Ranjith

Best Marathi Film: Harishchandrachi Factory, directed by Paresh Mokashi

Best Tamil Film: Veranam Airam, directed by Gautham Vasudeva Menon

Best Telugu Film: 1940 Lookagramam, directed by Narasimha Nandi

Best English Film: Land Gold Women, directed by Avantika Hari

Best Kokborok Film: Yarwng, diected by Joseph Pulinthanath

Best Tulu Film: Gaggara, directed by Shivadhwaj Shetty

Non-Feature Films:

Best Non-Feature Film: AFSPA 1958, directed by Haobam Paban Kumar

Best First Non-Feature Film of a Director: Vitthal, directed by Vinoo Choliparambil

Best Anthropological/Ethnographic Film: Boliay Pitaier Sohoki Sootal, directed by Altaf Mazid

Best Biographical/Historical Reconstruction/Compilation Film: The Assassination of Rajiv Gandhi - A Reconstruction

Best Arts/Cultural Film: Karna Motcham, directed by S Murali Manohar

Best Scientific Film: Trip, directed by Emmanuel Palo

Best Promotional Film: Lost and Found, directed by Harshavardhan G Kulkarni

Best Agriculture Film: The Land of Rupshupas, directed by A K Sidhpuri

Best Film on Social Issues: The Female Nude, directed by Hemjyotika and Devi Prasad Mishra and Buru Gaara, directed by Shriprakash

Best Educational/Motivational/Instructional Film: Polio vs Polio Victims, directed by Aman Sachdeva

Best Exploration/Adventure Film: Shingnaba, directed by Bachaspa Timayum Sunzu

Best Investigative Film: Distant Rumblings, directed by Bani Prakash Das

Best Animation Film: Prince and the Crown of Stones, directed by Gautam Bengal

Special Jury Award: Rajesh S Jala for Children of the Pyre

Short Fiction Film: Stations, directed by Emmanuel Palo

Best Film on Family Values: Appuvin Nayagan - Spotty (My Hero), directed by Madhavan

Best Direction: Umesh Kulkarni, Three of Us

Best Cinematography: Three of Us (Shariqva Badar Khan, Filmlab), When This Man Dies (Jayakrishna Gummadi, Adlabs)

Best Audiography: Mateen Ahmad, Children of the Pyre

Best Stations: Manoj Kannoth, Stations

Best Music Direction: Narmeen, Vipin Mishra

Best Narration/Voiceover: Elangbam Natasha, Sana Keithel

Jury Special Mention: Child Actor Aniket Rumade, Vitthal

Best Writing on Cinema:

Best Book on Cinema: Bollywood Melodies (English), Ganesh Anantharaman

Special Jury Mention: The Director's Mind (English), Ujjal Chakraborty

Best Film Critic: Altaf Mazid and R K Bidur Singh

The jury for Feature Films was headed by well-known film-maker Shaji N Karun and included Roshan Taneja, H.M. Ramachandra, Nagma, Satyabrata Kalita, Neelakanta, Dilip Ghosh, Swapan Mullick, Sudesh Syal, S.K. Srivastava, Archana, B. Shashi Kumar, Subhash Sehgal, Santosh Desai andSreelekha Mukherjee.

The jury for Non-Feature Films was headed by Arunaraje Patil and included Krishnendu Bose, Anirban Dutta, Sandeep Marwah, R. V. Ramani, Sarfaraz Siddiqui and Reena Mohan.

There were 126 entries for the feature film categories while there were 99 entries for the non-feature film section.

The jury on Best Writing on Cinema was headed by Sunil Gangopadhyay, assisted by Sudhish Pachauri and Ziya-us Salam.

The awards will be conferred by President Pratibha Patil at a function to be held in the capital in March.


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.


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.


"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."


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.


"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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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".


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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