President confers Akademi fellowships on Lagoo, Lalgudi, others

President Pratibha Patil presenting the Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowship 2009 to actor Shreeram Lagoo for his outstanding contribution to Indian theatre at a ceremony in New Delhi on September 28, 2010.
President Pratibha Patil presenting the Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowship 2009 to actor Shreeram Lagoo for his outstanding contribution to Indian theatre at a ceremony in New Delhi on September 28, 2010.

President Pratibha Patil today conferred the Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowship on well-known actor Shreeram Lagoo, Carnatic violinist Lalgudi Jayaraman, Bharatanatyam dancer Yamini Krishnamurti, Hindustani classical vocalist Kishori Amonkar and theatre personality Kamlesh Dutt Tripathi.

They received a purse of Rs 300,000 besides an "angavastram" and a "tamrapatra". Vocalist Pandit Jasraj, who was also to be conferrred with the fellowship, could not attend the function to receive it.

The fellowship, or Akademi Ratna, is the highest honour of the Sangeet Natak Akademi, which was established by the Government in May 1952 and is the National Academy of Music, Dance and Drama. It was created as the apex body in the country for the task of preservation and promotion of the performing art tradition of India.

The fellowship is a very rare honour and is restricted to a limited number at a given time. At present, there are only 32 living Fellows of the Akademi.

The President also honoured eminent artistes with the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award for 2009 which consists of prize money of Rs 100,000, an angavastram and a tamrapatra.

President Pratibha Patil presenting the Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowship 2009 to violiist Lalgudi G. Jayaraman for his outstanding contribution to Carnatic music in New Delhi on September 28, 2010.
President Pratibha Patil presenting the Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowship 2009 to violiist Lalgudi G. Jayaraman for his outstanding contribution to Carnatic music in New Delhi on September 28, 2010.

In the field of music, eight artistes got the awards: 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 Camatic Vocal, U. Shrinivas (Mandolin) and Dandamudi Sumathi Rama Mohan Rao (Mridangam) for Camatic Instrumental Music, and L. Ibohalmacha Singh (Nata Sankirtana) for Other Major Traditions of Music.

Eight dancers got the award. They are: Ananda Shankar Jayant (Bharatanatyam), Prerana Shrimali (Kathak), Kalamandalam Rajan (Kathakali), L. Bino Devi (Manipuri), Geeta Mahalik (Odissi), Vyjayanthi Kashi (Kuchipudi), Daksha Sheth (Creative & Experimental) and Kala Krishna (Other Major Traditions of Dance -Andhranatyam).

In the field of theatre, the awardees included: playwright Vayala Vasudevan Pillai (Malayalam), actors Sudha Shivpuri and Neeta Mohindra, and directors Joy Michael and Dinesh Thakur.

Kamal Arora (Make-up) and Kuldeep Singh Vig (Music for Theatre) received the award in the category of Allied Theatre Arts. Playwright Shankar Narayan Navre (Marathi) could not attend the function to receive the award.

In the category of Other Traditional/Folk/Tribal Music/Dance/Theatre, the awards were given to: Musafir Ram Bhardwaj (Folk Dance-Himachal Pradesh), Vilayat Khan Ragi (Dhadhi Folk MusicPunjab), 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). Moinul Haque from Assam received the Award for his contribution to Mime.

Leela Venkataraman honoured with the Award for her overall contribution to the Performing Arts.

Speaking on the occasion, Ms Patil said culture was a source of pride for all peoples, nations and societies.

"This award ceremony is a time to recall our own highly evolved and rich culture. Dances with their rhythms and expressions, music with its different gharanas, folk performances with their multiplicity of local themes and local dresses bring to mind a powerful idea of India and its civilization. Art and culture, music and literature not only give an identity to a country, but also become the means to celebrate life itself. Dance and music in India have closely been associated with the change of seasons, cycle of agriculture, ceremonies of birth and marriage," she said.

Ms Patil said material prosperity through the application of science and technology was no doubt essential for any modern community, but economic progress by itself in a cultural vacuum would be soulless.

"A nation needs the moorings of a set of values and cultural expressions, which provide it the intellectual and spiritual compass for its growth. Rejuvenation of arts has been an inevitable accompaniment of our national growth. Hence, even as we are progressing, we must continue to have an environment where excellence in art and culture can be achieved. Fine arts sharpen our sensibilities as human beings and make life worth living. Society, therefore, has a great stake in the artistic genius of gifted individuals and they must receive our encouragement and appreciation," he said.

President Pratibha Patil with the winners of the Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowships and Awards 2009 in New Delhi on September 28, 2010.
President Pratibha Patil with the winners of the Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowships and Awards 2009 in New Delhi on September 28, 2010.

The President said the music of India's saints and sages like Guru Nanak, Tulsidas, Kabir and Surdas had helped preserve equilibrium in society and righteousness in the individual.

"By promoting greater understanding, even within the country, of our various cultures, music has became a vital aspect of our national integration as well. Moreover, a society which ennobles arts is enlightened. Hatred and violence can have no place in a civilized society," she said.

She hoped the many masters in the field of music and other arts in the country would pass on their knowledge to their students so that the country's rich heritage could be kept alive.

Ms Patil also pointed out that cultural diplomacy was a potent instrument in the country's foreign policy. Cultural exchanges were important to promote understanding between peoples and must be encouraged, she said.

"In today’s globalised and integrated world, there are cross-cultural currents and, at the same time, advances in technology are providing newer variants of art and music. In these circumstances, questions of how to absorb change and how to retain the traditional styles present a challenge. I believe it is important for the many strands of culture that exists in the world and are a result of the evolution of different civilizations, to continue to exist. These add to variety in the world which is so essential for keeping it as a planet of great cultural diversity, which alone can make it interesting. However, there should be efforts to take these different cultural forms to the people in an appealing manner," she said.

The President said new technologies offered an opportunity to preserve, conserve and document the country's rich heritage.

"Creating archives of performing arts would also help academic institutions who could use these materials for educational purposes, researchers in their work and practitioners in their art," she said.

The President also spoke of the need for society at large to become patrons of art and culture. Business houses and the corporate world must lend their support to this cause, she added.


Exhibition on Intuit Art from the Canadian Arctic opens in Delhi

Culture Secretary Jawhar Sircar inaugurating an exhibition of Canadian Inuit arts in New Delhi on September 27, 2010
Culture Secretary Jawhar Sircar inaugurating an exhibition of Canadian Inuit arts in New Delhi on September 27, 2010

An international exhibition on Intuit Art from the Canadian Arctic, featuring sculptures, prints, drawings, textile art and video, was inaugurated by Culture Secretary Jawhar Sircar here today.

Acting Canadian High Commissioner Jim Nickel was amongst those present on the occasin.

The exhibition has been jointly organised by the National Museum in Delhi, the National Museum Institute and the National Gallery of Canada.

The exhibition is the first major venture under the India-Canada MoU on Cultural Cooperation that was signed during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Canada in June 2010, and was mentioned in the Joint Statement by the Prime Ministers of India and Canada.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr Sircar and Mr Nickel expressed the hope that visitors from around the world during the Commonwealth Games 2010 to be hosted by Delhi next month would see a glimpse of Intuit Art through the exhibition.

Inuit Nunangat - the Inuit homeland in Canada - is a glorious expanse of taiga and tundra, polar ice and permafrost that has been inhabited by Inuit and ancestral peoples for more than 4000 years. Since the mid-20th century, Inuit artists have established a powerful art movement that tells a compelling story of artistic invention and cultural continuity.

Featuring masterworks from the collection of the National Gallery of Canada, the exhibition Sanaugavut, meaning "our works of art" in Inuktitut, focuses on the emergence of this most recent stage of creative expression. It highlights the significant themes of Inuit art- traditional social life and customs, spiritual beliefs and mythology, historical moments and personal experiences- in a richly diverse range of artistic media and styles.

The exhibition will be opened to public from 28 September 2010 at the National Museum, Janpath, New Delhi.


Culture Ministry to release funds to its organisations in two instalments

In a major departure from the existing practice of release of funds in three installments of 40 percent, 30 percent and 30 percent, the Union Ministry of Culture has decided to release funds to its 41 autonomous organizations in two installments only of 75 percent and 25 percent.

An official press release said this decision would enable the various autonomous bodies under the Ministry of Culture to plan their activities well in advance and also facilitate better expenditure management.

According to it, the release procedure for grants-in aid would be as follows:

Release of 1st installment of 75 percent:

(a) The 1st installment of grants-in-aid amounting to 75%, in respect of the recurring grant may be released on the basis of provisional Utilization Certificate (UC) of the preceding financial year.

(b) The unspent balance/carry forward funds of the previous year would be deducted at time of release of the 1st installment itself.

(c) In the provisional Utilization Certificate, the unspent balance shall be shown separately for "Grants in aid-General" and "Grants for Creation of Capital Assets", as has been depicted in Detailed Demands for Grants Document w.e.f. 2010-11.

(d) Annual Action Plan should have been approved by the Governing Body of the Autonomous Organization.

Notwithstanding Para 1(a) above, the release of the 1st installment would be subject to the ceiling of 1/6th of the total Budget Estimates (BE) of the Ministry as a whole, during "Vote on Account" period.

Release of 2nd Installment of 25 percent:

The remaining 2nd installment of 25% of the grants-in-aid will be released on the request of the Autonomous Body, on fulfillment of the following conditions:-

(i) Annual Statement of Accounts and final Utilization Certificate for the previous year, being submitted by the Autonomous Organization.

(ii) Utilization of 75% of the funds released as 1st installment, including unspent balance/carry over funds of Autonomous Body.

(iii) Finalization of the Revised Estimates (RE)

(iv) Any other condition laid down at the time of last release (of 75%) should have been met/satisfied.

The effectiveness of this arrangement of releasing grants-in-aid in two installments of 75% and 25% shall be reviewed by the Administrative Division after a year, the press release added.


Celebrities turn out in London to boost God's Own Country

Soccer superstar Didier Drogba and his wife at the Kerala film premier in London on September 21
Soccer superstar Didier Drogba and his wife at the Kerala film premier in London on September 21

Chelsea striker Didier Drogba joined famous stars from cinema, music and fashion here last night to celebrate Kerala, billed as God’s Own Country, as one of the top tourist destinations in the world.

"Kerala is a dream place," said Drogba, who came to watch "Your Moment is Waiting", a new three-minute advertisement film of Kerala Tourism, premiered at the Saatchi Gallery in Chelsea.

"It's my area. I am here to support anything that happens in my area," said the Ivory Coast national captain, whose team Chelsea's homeground Stamford Bridge is only 20 minutes of walk from the Saatchi Gallery. Drogba was accompanied by his wife Alla.

"Your Moment is Waiting," which is directed by Vodaphone's ZooZoo ad-fame Prakash Varma for Kerala Tourism's new global publicity campaign, captured the imagination of a host of celebrities, including former England striker Gary Linekar, current 400 metres Olympic gold medalist Christine Ohuruogu and Indian-born British businessman-politician Swaraj Paul.

"It's a great film. There is magic in it. Now I feel I have to go back to Kerala to discover it again," said Malayalam mega star Mohan Lal, who posed for photographs with many members of the Indian community in London.

Linekar, who won the Golden Boot at the 1986 Mexico World Cup, said his model-presenter wife Daniele has been persuading him to visit Kerala. "It's a place you want to go," said Linekar, now a soccer commentator who arrived with Daniele.

Ohuruogu, who confessed to having never heard about Kerala before, said, "Kerala seems to be very colourful and lively. It is one place I am going to add to the list of destinations to visit before I die," said the London-born and Nigerian origin Ohuruogu, who clocked 49.61 seconds to win the 400 metres at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. The British athlete, will, however not be seen in action at the Delhi Commonwealth Games because of injury.

Smitha Tharoor, the sister of former Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor, described the film as "brilliant". "It’s a brilliantly made film reflecting the true image of Kerala as place full of surprises," she said.

"Kerala is the opposite of what you expect in India," said famous British photographer Seamus Murphy. "Kerala is slow, less crowded and unspoiled."

Glamour couple Yasmin and Simon le bon and their daughter Amber at the Kerala event in London, on September 21.
Glamour couple Yasmin and Simon le bon and their daughter Amber at the Kerala event in London, on September 21.

One of the biggest draws of the Kerala night in London was British actor Bill Nighy, who plays the role of Minister for Magic Rufus Scrimgeour in "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows", the penultimate part of the magical saga which will be released in November before the second and last part next year.

And among the early guests at the premiere was Rolling Stones lead singer Mick Jagger’s daughter Jade Jagger, a former model and jewellery designer. "Kerala is a very interesting place, very spiritual. It is a very special place in India," said Jade Jagger, who has visited Kerala "several times" before. Former Duran Duran band member Simon Le Bon said he had heard "a lot about your great cuisine".

Among other guests were British MP Keith Vas and "Slumdog Millionnaire" actor Dev Patel.

"It's magic. The film really touches your soul," said Patel. During the course of the evening, the guests were mesmerised by Kerala's classical dance forms "Mohiniattam" and "Ottamthullal" performed by Corinne Mathow from France and Hartmut Schmidt from Germany.

Kerala Tourism Secretary V Venu, who was also involved with the Incredible India campaign, explained that the film was about connecting with potential visitors. "We are trying to be different from others by saying pretty pictures don’t make a destination, but experiences make a destination."

Kerala Tourism Director M Shivshankar echoed the comments. "Something in Kerala appeals to the visitors. Many people who came to the state have come across a self-discovering experience."

"Your Moment is Waiting" will hit theatres in the United Kingdom on September 23 and multiplexes in India on September 27. The film was shot over 11 days in locations at Thekkady, Munnar, Thalassery and Kannur. The film features upcoming international model Miriam Ilorah.

"Kerala is all surreal, raw and sensuous. I was trying to capture all these elements together," said Varma. Famous Senegalese musician Baaba Maal sings in the film, which will hit the YouTube and iPad in United Kingdom, France and Germany targeting nearly 50 million viewers.

The UK is the largest source market for Kerala Tourism and the state’s nature-based experiences are a huge draw for British travelers seeking more intimate, village experiences. Baby boomers who are getting more interested in their health are also attracted to Ayurveda in Kerala.

The campaign will run in all of Kerala Tourism’s major markets around the world from October 2010 until mid 2011. The film will be shown in cinemas across the United Kingdom where the Julia Roberts-starrer "Eat, Pray and Love" is being shown and in CNN, Europe targeting viewers in the key source markets of Germany, France, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Belgium.


Jury and longlist for the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature announced

Infrastructure fim DSC Limited today named a five-member for for the $ 50,000 first DSC Prize for South Asian Literature, who then announced the 14 longlisted entries for the prize.

The jury includes comprises literary figures such as Lord Matthew Evans, Ian Jack, Amitava Kumar, Moni Mohsin, and Nilanjana S Roy (Chairperson).

A press release said the 14 longlisted entries were selected from amongst numerous entries received from around the world and includes an eclectic mix of writers who are expected to dominate the literary scene of South Asia in the years to come.

The following is the longlist:

Upamanyu Chatterjee: Way To Go (Penguin),

Amit Chaudhuri: The Immortals (Picador India),

Chandrahas Choudhury: Arzee the Dwarf (HarperCollins),

Musharraf Ali Farooqui: The Story of a Widow (Picador India),

Ru Freeman: A Disobedient Girl (Penguin/ Viking),

Anjum Hassan: Neti Neti (IndiaInk/ Roli Books),

Tania James: Atlas of Unknowns (Pocket Books),

Manju Kapur: The Immigrant (Faber & Faber),

HM Naqvi: Home Boy (HarperCollins),

Salma: The Hour Past Midnight (Zubaan, translated by Lakshmi Holmstrom),

Sankar: The Middleman (Penguin, translated by Arunava Sinha),

Ali Sethi: The Wish Maker (Penguin),

Jaspreet Singh: Chef (Bloomsbury),

Aatish Taseer: The Temple Goers (Picador India).

"South Asian Literature is at a crucial standpoint with a potential for tremendous growth. At DSC we believe that Literature is the yarn that binds our society and its people," Ms Surina Narula of DSC said.

"After the DSC Jaipur Literature Festival, the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature and the DSC South Asian Literature Festival are seamless extensions of our vision to promote literature that cuts across regional divides. We received overwhelming response to our call for entries and we are proud to have such distinguished Jury members and participants associated with our endeavour," she added.

According to the release, the jury for the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature will deliberate on the Longlist and then go on to announce 5 selected works as the Shortlist at the DSC South Asian Literature Festival, scheduled to be held in the United Kingdom at the end of October.

The winner of the first DSC Prize for South Asian Literature will be declared at the DSC Jaipur Literature Festival in January 2011. The prize will be awarded for the best work of fiction pertaining to the South Asian region, published in English, including translations into English.

The chairperson of the jury, Ms Roy, said: "What makes the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature unique is its recognition of the distances – geographical and emotional – that South Asian fiction has spanned in the last few decades. By opening up the category of South Asian fiction to authors regardless of nationality, the Prize has created a far more interesting way of reading fiction from and about the region than we've ever seen before."

"My experience as a member of the jury this year has convinced me that the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature works well for writers, but that it will ultimately function as an essential reading list for anyone who has an interest in Asian culture, politics, history and fiction. We began our reading as members of the jury with an unspoken question in our minds: is there such a thing as 'Asian writing', or 'the Asian novel'? The answers to that question are fascinating, for readers and writers alike."

The DSC Prize for South Asian Literature is guided by an international Advisory Committee comprising M J Akbar, Urvashi Butalia, Tina Brown, William Dalrymple, Lord Meghnad Desai, David Godwin, Surina Narula, Senath Walter Perera, Nayantara Sehgal and Michael Worton.

The DSC Prize for South Asian Literature is unique since it is not ethnicity driven in terms of the author’s origin and is open to any author belonging to any part of the globe as long as the work is based on the South Asian region and its people.

DSC Limited also announced its association as the title sponsor for the DSC South Asian Literature Festival, a premier festival in Britain showcasing the diverse literary and cultural traditions of the South Asian region.

The DSC South Asian Literature Festival has been scheduled from October 15-25 in London and from October 26-31 in the rest of UK.

Renowned authors, poets, and artists connected to India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka and UK are expected to partake in the celebration of this literary extravaganza. The Festival has been envisioned to imaginatively combine South Asian literature with various other disciplines and art forms, including journalism, dance, visual art and music to explore the social, political and cultural issues that are shaping today’s world.

The release said confirmed participation had been received from eminent personalities in the literary and cultural fraternity including Fatima Bhutto, Amit Chaudhuri, Lord Meghnad Desai, Farrukh Dhondy, Romesh Gunesekera, Mohammed Hanif, Nayantara Sahgal, Michael Wood to name only a few.

The company has been the principal sponsor of the DSC Jaipur Literature Festival for the last five years. During this period, this event has grown to become the largest literary event of its kind in the region.


NDTV and Astro sign deal for lifetyle channels

NDTV logo.
NDTV logo.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Cabinet okays revival plan for NFDC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cameraperson Anjuli Shukla won the Best Cinematography Award for Kuttysrank.

The following are the other awards announced today:

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

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

: Pasanga (Tamil): Dialogues: Pandiraj

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

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

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

Best Editing: Abohomaan, Arghyakamal Mitra

Best Production Design: Delhi 6, Samir Chanda

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

Best Costume Designer: Kuttysrank, Jayakumar

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

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

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


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

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


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

Best Choreography: Magadheera, K Siva Shankar

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

Assamese: Basundhara, Producer, Director: Hiren Bora

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

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

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

Girish Kasaravalli

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

Director: Laxmikant Shetgaonkar

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

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

Harishchandra Jadhav

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

Special Mention: Padmapriya (certificate only)


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

Bilal, Producer, Director: Sourav Sarangi

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

Oza, and

Rituparno Ghosh
Rituparno Ghosh

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

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

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

Director: Anirban Dutta

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

Special Jury Award: Kelkkunnundo, Child artiste: Aasna Aslam

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

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

Laboratory : Adlabs

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

Best Editing: In Camera, Editor: Tarun Bhartiya

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

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


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

Author: Dr. K. Puttaswamy

Special Mention: Eka Studioche Atmavrutta, Prabhakar Pendharkar


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


Veteran film maker D Ramanaidu chosen for Phalke Award

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Akshay Kumar to host Masterchef India on Star Plus

Akshay Kumar
Akshay Kumar

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Committee on Piracy submits report to Ambika Soni

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

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

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

The key recommendations of the committee are as follows:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


NGMA to present retrospective of Homai Vyarawalla's photographs

Homai Vyarawalla
Homai Vyarawalla

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

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

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

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

Homai Vyarawalla: A Retrospective

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

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


Expert Committee submits report on upgradation of IFFI

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Film Street Journal, new entertainment weekly, launched in Mumbai

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anil Ambani
Anil Ambani

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


National Film Awards restructured, new categories introduced

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(c ) South I- Tamil and Malayalam

South II - Kannada, Telugu and Tulu

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Priyanka Chopra to be UNICEF National Ambassador for child rights

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


33 young artistes receive Ustad Bismillah Khan Yuva Puraskar 2009

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Leela Samson named Chairperson of Sangeet Natak Akademi

Leela Samson
Leela Samson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


Festival of Asian films in Delhi from August 18-22

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Namrata Singh Gujral

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Priya Dutt
Priya Dutt

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Indian Ocean
Indian Ocean

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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