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Entertainment

Star kids should grow beyond their name: Karan Johar on nepotism

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Filmmaker Karan Johar avoided the use of the word "nepotism" -- which had sparked a roaring debate in Bollywood two years ago -- at the trailer launch of "Dhadak", which marks the debut of late Sridevi's daughter Janhvi Kapoor and Ishaan Khatter. He says the talents -- irrespective of their family name -- work hard to be where they are.

Karan has launched a slew of celebrity children in Bollywood -- from Alia Bhatt to Varun Dhawan and now Janhvi to Ananya Pandey.

At the trailer launch of "Dhadak", Karan was asked what are the things he has to keep in mind when he makes films with such talents, who come with a film background.

He said: "That they grow beyond their name and make their own identity. I think that is our responsibility and their responsibility."

"These days people focus more on names rather than the talent, but they tend to forget that one puts a lot of hard work, heart, dedication, discipline and mental preparation to face the camera, the audience and the media... It is not easy, really. It is difficult."

Without mentioning the term "nepotism", which had become widely used when actress Kangana Ranaut accused Karan of being a "flagbearer of nepotism" two years ago, he said: "We always use a tag... Like a word of the season. I know that word (nepotism) was doing around for last two years and I am again perhaps encouraging the same concept... But I will not utter the word. But I want to say, they are not here because of that word, but because of their hard work."

Asked what made him choose Janhvi and Ishaan for the film "Dhadak", a remake of the hit Marathi film "Sairat", Karan said: "The story is about an innocent love story. To bring such innocence on-screen, I needed first-time talent."

He said Ishaan first struck him while judging a TV show with Ishaan's stepbrother Shahid Kapoor.

"I was judging a show with Shahid where Ishaan happened to meet him on the set. So I just saw Ishaan and got a glimpse of a certain body language, expression and personality. So, I instinctively decided on him.

"I think Manish Malhotra is the fashion father of Janhvi. He knows her for a long time. He used to keep talking about her so much that I felt like I know her even before meeting her. Then I went to meet her family where I saw her. Then later when I met her personally, I saw her potential to be on-screen and saw that spark and excitement," said Karan.

Directed by Shashank Khaitan, "Dhadak" is releasing on July 20.

IANS

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Twinkle Khanna working on novel

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Producer-author Twinkle Khanna, known for her book "Mrs Funnybones: She’s Just Like You and a Lot Like Me", says her novel will be out soon.

Twinkle interacted with the media here on Saturday at the launch of L'oreal Professional #Only In Salons campaign where she spoke about her next book.

She said: "I am just finishing it, so I think it should be out soon and all I can say right now is that it's a novel."

From where does she take inspiration to write a book?

"I am always watching people and I watch everything about them. There was a hairstylist at the event, I still remember what shoes he wore last time when I saw him, which was purple and today it is burgundy. So I am watching what everyone's doing," she said.

Twinkle had made her Bollywood debut in 1995 with "Barsaat" and her last released film as an actress was "Tees Maar Khan" (2010) in which she did a special appearance. In the span of 15 years, she has worked in 17 films.

She married actor Akshay Kumar in 2001. They have two children together.

In which of her films did she look really good?

Twinkle replied: "Because I am now in my 40s, I have an issue of Alzheimer's and I am not good at remembering things so if you ask me then, I think, I really looked good today and at this stage of my life as compared to when I was in movies."

IANS

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Mohanlal to become Malayalam film body President

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Malayalam superstar Mohanlal will take charge as the new President of the Association of Malayalam Movie Actors (AMMA) later this month.
 
The development came as veteran actor Mammootty decided to withdraw his candidacy.
 
On the last day of nominations on Friday, all the main posts got only one nomination each there were 12 candidates in the fray for 11 Executive Committee members.
 
The election was necessitated after outgoing AMMA President Innocent, also a Left-supported Lok Sabha memberre, resigned from the post after 18 years.
 
According to an informed source, Mammootty, who was the present General Secretary, sensed that things would not be conducive for him if there was an election.
 
Edavela Babu was elected the new General Secretary while comedian and character artiste Jagdish was brought in as Treasurer.
 
IANS
 
 
 
 
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Fleetwood Mac guitarist Danny Kirwan dead

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Danny Kirwan, a guitarist who appeared on five of Fleetwood Mac's albums, died here, according to the band.
 
He was 68 when he passed away on Friday, reports cnn.com.
 
"Danny was a huge force in our early years," said a Facebook post signed by Mick Fleetwood, one of the band's founders. 
 
"His love for the Blues led him to being asked to join Fleetwood Mac in 1968, where he made his musical home for many years." 
 
Kirwan was 18 when he joined Fleetwood Mac, which at the time consisted of Fleetwood, John McVie, Peter Green and Jeremy Spencer.
 
Kirwan contributed guitar and vocal work in addition to songwriting while he was with the band, and his talents were first featured on the band's 1969 effort, "Then Play On". His work appeared on several other albums, including 1970's "Kiln House" and "Future Games", a year later.
 
Kirwan was fired in 1972 shortly after the release of the album "Bare Trees".
 
Kirwan was among the members of the band inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1998, though he did not attend the induction ceremony.
 
"Danny's true legacy, in my mind, will forever live on in the music he wrote and played so beautifully as a part of the foundation of Fleetwood Mac, that has now endured over 50 years," Fleetwood said on Facebook. 
 
"Thank you, Danny Kirwan. You will forever be missed!"
 
IANS
 
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Priyanka Chopra apologises for 'Quantico' episode

 
Priyanka Chopra apologises for Hindu terror plot in Quantico
 
 
Actress Priyanka Chopra has apologised for an episode in her American TV series "Quantico" which portrayed Indian nationalists as terrorists who were trying to frame Pakistan in a terror plot.
 
The episode drew intense criticism from Indian fans.
 
"I'm extremely saddened and sorry that some sentiments have been hurt by a recent episode of 'Quantico'. That was not and would never be my intention. I sincerely apologise. I'm a proud Indian and that will never change," Priyanka tweeted on Sunday. 
 
According to reports, the episode titled "The Blood of Romeo", aired on June 1. Priyanka's character, FBI agent Alex Parrish, thwarts a terror plot just days before a summit between India and Pakistan is to be held.
 
During her investigations, Parrish finds a religious Hindu symbol -- a Rudraksh chain -- on the neck of one of the suspects leading her to conclude that the plot was devised by Indian nationalists to frame Pakistan in a nuclear terror attack.
 
The producers at the US network ABC Studios that airs the show also extended an apology on Saturday, saying they regret stepping into "a complex political issue", and they did not intend to offend anyone. 
 
The statement read: "ABC Studios and the executive producers of 'Quantico' would like to extend an apology to our audience who were offended by the most recent episode, 'The Blood of Romeo'. The episode has stirred a lot of emotion, much of which is unfairly aimed at Priyanka Chopra, who didn't create the show, nor does she write or direct it. 
 
"She has no involvement in the casting of the show or the storylines depicted in the series." 
 
They also stressed that "Quantico" is a work of fiction. 
 
"The show has featured antagonists of many different ethnicities and backgrounds but in this case, we inadvertently and regrettably stepped into a complex political issue. It was certainly not our intention to offend anyone," the statement read further.
 
"Quantico" will not be getting a fourth season. The third season is on air in India on Star World. 
 
The cast also included Jake McLaughlin, Johanna Braddy, Russell Tovey, Alan Powell, Marlee Matlin and Blair Underwood.
 
IANS
 
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ABC Studios apologises for 'Quantico' controversial plot

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ABC Studios, the executive producers of Priyanka Chopra's show "Quantico", has extended an apology to fans who were offended by an episode of the show which portrayed Indian nationalists as terrorists who were trying to frame Pakistan in a terror plot.
 
They said that they regret stepping into "a complex political issue", and they didn't intend to offend anyone. 
 
The episode, entitled The Blood of Romeo, aired on June 1. In it, Priyanka's character, FBI agent Alex Parrish, thwarts a terror plot just days before a summit between India and Pakistan is to be held, reports Hollywoodreporter.com.
 
During her investigations, Parrish finds a religious Hindu symbol - a Rudraksh chain - on the neck of one of the suspects leading her to conclude that the plot was devised by Indian nationalists to frame Pakistan in a nuclear terror attack.
 
Some fans of the show were upset with the portrayal of Indians in the plot and took to Twitter to express their views. In fact, many fans slammed Priyanka for the track. 
 
ABC Studios clarified that Priyanka had no role in writing or directing the show: 
 
The statement read: "ABC Studios and the executive producers of 'Quantico' would like to extend an apology to our audience who were offended by the most recent episode, 'The Blood of Romeo'. The episode has stirred a lot of emotion, much of which is unfairly aimed at Priyanka Chopra, who didn't create the show, nor does she write or direct it. 
 
"She has no involvement in the casting of the show or the storylines depicted in the series." 
 
They also stressed that "Quantico" is a work of fiction. 
 
"The show has featured antagonists of many different ethnicities and backgrounds, but in this case we inadvertently and regrettably stepped into a complex political issue. It was certainly not our intention to offend anyone," the statement read further. 
 
"Quantico" will not be getting a fourth season. The third season is on air in India on Star World. 
 
The cast also included Jake McLaughlin, Johanna Braddy, Russell Tovey, Alan Powell, Marlee Matlin and Blair Underwood.
 
IANS
 
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A slice of Jaipur at the British Library over the weekend

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South Asia’s literary heritage, oral traditions, performing arts, books and ideas will take the centre stage here at the iconic British Library over the weekend as the London leg of the immensely popular Jaipur Literature Festival gets rolling.

Scheduled to take place from Friday to Sunday, this year marks the fifth anniversary of the Festival's presence in London.

"South Asia is home to an outstanding literary, artistic, cultural and academic legacy, both historical and contemporary. As the world's economic and geopolitical dynamic undergoes transformational change, it is the aim of our festival to understand these new paradigm shifts through literature, arts and culture," Sanjoy K. Roy, producer of the festival, said in a statement.

This year's diverse programme includes the rare UK public appearance of Anita Bose Pfaff, the daughter of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. Pfaff will speak alongside London-based journalist Ashis Ray, author of "Laid to Rest" that aims to settle the mystery surrounding Bose's death, which has been subject to national debate for over 70 years.

Speakers at this year's edition include Bollywood couple Shabana Azmi and Javed Akhtar, who will discuss the poetic heritage that runs in their blood; former Indian External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid, will examine definitions of democracy that are under question around the world; and among others, John Zubrzycki, who will talk about his new work "Empire of Enchantment," which explores the untold history of Indian magic.

The three-day event will also see the participation of Tishani Doshi, one of India's most acclaimed young poets; head of Google's Cultural Institute Suhair Khan; railway historian Christian Wolmar; South Korean author Suki Kim; American investigative journalist Katherine Boo; retired English cricketer Mike Brearley; and award-winning British-Zambian poet Kayo Chingonyi.

ZEE JLF at The British Library will witness debates on several contemporary political issues. In the wake of Brexit, a panel of political experts will be discussing the changing role of the Commonwealth and the part that countries like India might play in coming years.

"Cricket and Nationalism" will examine how political tensions in South Asia have transformed the nature and personality of the game, while "Exile and Insurgency" consider how to provide the full picture of such conflicts in the Middle East and Myanmar by getting close to insurgent groups and resistant fighters.

Historical discussions at the festival range from the Suffragette Movement to the untold stories of Indian magic. The newest interpretation of Mahatma Gandhi's letters is presented while the legacy of Winston Churchill, one of history's most divisive figures, will also be explored.

Showcasing the diversity of artistic heritage in South Asia are sessions on 18th century Indian painting with a focus on prodigious north-Indian brothers Nainsukh and Manaku as well as on Islamic calligraphy by looking at the fusion of aesthetics and piety and the conflict between written and pictorial representation.

Last year, the British Library was infused with excitement and repartee for two days and had resounded with sessions on PG Wodehouse, the Beatles in India, travel, migrations, fiction-writing, the Partition, and poetry.

The Jaipur Literature festival is produced by Teamwork Arts and has two literary stalwarts as its co-directors: William Dalrymple and Namita Gokhale.

IANS

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Disney's 'Aladdin' musical to reach Delhi in July

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After getting a successful opening in Mumbai, Disney India's Broadway-style musical based on "Aladdin" will premiere here in July.

Online entertainment ticketing platform BookMyShow is the producer with exclusive rights for the Indian production of the show.

The show will premiere in Delhi on July 6 at Jawaharlal Nehru Indoor Stadium, read a statement to IANS.

The musical is inspired by Disney's original Broadway production that is playing in London, Tokyo, Hamburg and is on tour in Australia. The story of "Aladdin" has been re-imagined and developed by Indian talent to make it locally relevant, without losing the original essence of the Broadway show.

"Disney's 'Aladdin' has universal appeal and continues to inspire audiences of all ages. At Disney, we are always looking for opportunities to bring these great stories to life for our Indian fans," said Vikrant Pawar, Head Live Entertainment and Local Content Studio, Disney India.

The Indian production of the musical boasts of extravagant sets depicting 14 locations, 450 lavish costumes, a flying magic carpet, beautifully choreographed sequences, and many special effects.

At the helm of the Indian production are Shruti Sharma (director), Shampa Gopikrishna and Bertwin D'Souza (choreographers), Varsha Jain (production designer), Gaviin Miguel (costume designer), Dhruv Ghanekar (music director) and Suzane D'Mello (vocal coach).

Sharma is excited about starting another chapter in Delhi.

"After receiving an overwhelming response in Mumbai, we are now excited to bring this mesmerising musical to Delhi. It promises to be an unforgettable experience where the audiences will be instantly transported to the magical world of Agrabah.

"The show, with its talented cast, is a visual spectacle packed with tremendous high energy dance, drama, music and magic to appeal to audiences of all age groups," she added.

The story is staged by over 50 performers, including Siddharth Menon (Aladdin), Taaruk Raina (Aladdin), Kira Narayanan (Jasmine), Mantra (Genie), Roshan Abbas (Jafar) and Vikrant Chaturvedi (Jafar).

"After a fantastic opening season in Mumbai, we are delighted to bring our first theatrical production to Delhi. It is an extravagant visual feast, filled with music, joy, and loads of theatrical magic and cannot be missed", said Ashish Hemrajani, founder and CEO, BookMyShow.

The tickets for the show will go live on BookMyShow from June 9.

Originally produced by Disney Theatrical Productions, the show features music by Tony Award and eight-time Oscar winner Alan Menken, lyrics by two-time Oscar winner Howard Ashman and three-time Tony Award and three-time Oscar winner Tim Rice.

In 2015, the "Beauty and the Beast" stage musical mesmerised the audience with its Season I (2015) and Season II (2016) that had local talent.

IANS

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Airtel TV app crosses 50 million users on Android Platform

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Telecom services provider Bharti Airtel today said its video streaming and live TV app Airtel TV had crossed the 50 million users-mark on Android platform.
 
A press release from Airtel said this underlined this underlined the app's "growing popularity amongst smartphone users as the go to destination for digital content".
 
The release said Airtel TV app has scaled up its user base on the back of one the widest content catalogues and great user experience driven by an intuitive UI and other innovative features.
 
The app currently offers over 375-plus live TV channels, along with 10,000-plus movies and popular shows.
 
"Airtel TV has forged content partnerships with the likes of Eros Now, SonyLiv,  Hooq, Hotstar, Amazon, AltBalaji with several more on the anvil," it said.
 
Airtel TV is marking the milestone with its user by extending free subscription for all Airtel postpaid and prepaid mobile customers till December 30, 2018 (from June 30, 2018).   
 
Sameer Batra, CEO - Content and Apps, Bharti Airtel said, “We are thrilled at achieving this milestone and being able to scale up the app so rapidly. This is a strong endorsement from our users and a result of our unrelenting focus on delivering a world-class in-app experience. We will continue to expand our content partnerships and bring more exciting innovations to our users.”
 
Airtel TV app was the amongst the most downloaded video OTT apps in India between Jan and May 2018, as per App Annie data, the release added.
 
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Rajinikanth's 'Kaala' releases in Tamil Nadu amid fanfare

 
Rajinikanth fans welcome Kaala with open hearts
 
 
Dancing to drum rolls, bursting fire crackers, cutting cakes is how fans of actor Rajinikanth celebrated the release of film "Kaala" in Tamil Nadu on Thursday.
 
Additional security was provided by the police at all the several hundred movie theatres where the film is being screened in the state.
 
Large crowds were seen outside all these theatres since early in the day.
 
"I am a fan of Rajinikanth. I am from Karnataka and came here to see the movie," a person told the media outside a theatre here.
 
"Today is Diwali for me. I have waited for a long time for this movie," a fan told a television channel in Coimbatore theatre. "This not Rajinikanth movie but movie director P.Ranjith movie." 
 
"Kaala" has been facing opposition in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.
 
Several Tamil activists and political parties voiced their opposition to Rajinikanth's views on the violence in Thuthookudi.
 
Visiting the violence-hit town where 13 persons were killed on May 22 in police action amid anti-Sterlite Copper smelter plant protests, Rajinikanth had said it was anti-social elements that indulged in violence.
 
In Karnataka, the film's release was opposed by some organisations after the southern superstar said the Cauvery Management Board (CMB) on the sharing of river water between Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala and Puducherry, has to be set up.
 
IANS
 
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Reliance Entertainment to release 'Toilet Ek Prem Katha' in China

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Anil Dhirubhai Ambani-led Reliance Entertainment is releasing Akshay Kumar-starrer "Toilet: Ek Prem Katha" in China on June 8, re-titled as "Toilet Hero" in Mandarin for Chinese audiences.
 
The film is co-produced through Reliance Entertainment and Friday Filmworks' collaborative banner, Plan C Studios, with Neeraj Pandey and Shital Bhatia.
 
The release marks Reliance Entertainment's return to the Chinese market after "3 Idiots", read a statement.
 
"Toilet Hero" will release in over 4,300 screens across China, reflecting a 50 per cent higher screen count compared to its original release in India.
 
It has already been screened to an overwhelming response at the Beijing Film Festival in April 2018, at an event attended by director Narayan Singh and creative producers Neeraj Pandey and Shital Bhatia.
 
"I am delighted our film is continuing to break new grounds. Our issues and cultures bear a lot of similarity and I hope 'Toilet Hero' gets the same appreciation and love in China," said Akshay. 
 
The film is a socially relevant, satirical comedy in support of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's campaign to improve sanitation conditions in India, with an emphasis on the eradication of open defecation, especially in rural areas. 
 
Shibasish Sarkar of Reliance Entertainment said: "We are very proud to release 'Toilet Hero' in China this week, and expect the film to strike an emotional chord with audiences there, just as the film delighted Indian audiences."
 
Tang Media Partners, a Reliance Entertainment affiliate, are the licensee of the distribution rights in China. 
 
The film will be released by Lianrui Picture, executive distributor with the China Film Group.
 
In India, "Toilet Ek Prem Katha" was presented by Viacom18 Motion Pictures and KriArj Entertainment, and co-produced by Cape of Good Films, Friday Filmworks and Abundantia Entertainment.
 
IANS
 
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HC orders protection for screening of Rajinikanth's 'Kaala' in Karnataka

Actor Rajinikanth (File photo: IANS)
Actor Rajinikanth (File photo: IANS)
The Karnataka High Court on Tuesday asked the state government to provide security to theatres wanting to screen Tamil superstar Rajinikanth's "Kaala" in Tamil and other versions from Thursday.
 
Justice G. Narendar's interim order came on a petition filed on Monday by the film's producer Dhanush and director Aishwarya, seeking its direction for police protection to exhibitors from pro-Kannada activists, who opposed the film's screening to protest the megastar's recent remarks on the sharing of the Cauvery river water between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.
 
Dhanush is Rajinikanth's son-in-law and Aishwarya is his daughter.
 
State's Additional Advocate General A.G. Shivanna told the court during the hearing that the state government did not ban the screening of the film but the distributors and exhibitors had voluntarily decided not to screen it to avoid law and order problem.
 
He also assured the court that the state government would provide security to theatres screening the film in the state.
 
The court also directed the petitioners to submit names of distributors who bought the film's rights and list of exhibitors ready to screen it under security.
 
The petition also wanted the court to restrain the Karnataka Film Chamber of Commerce (KFCC) from preventing the film release in the state.
 
"It our fundamental right under Article 19 (1) to exhibit the film certified under the Cinematograph Act, 1952 by the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC)," said the petitioners.
 
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The petition also referred to the May 30 statement by KFCC President Sa Ra Govindu that a decision was taken not to distribute or screen "Kaala" in the state in protest against Rajinikanth's views on the Cauvery dispute, asking Karnataka to comply with the Supreme Court's order on releasing the river water to Tamil Nadu.
 
The 67-year-old superstar hails from Bengaluru where he was conductor in the state-run public transport service in the city. He also acted in Kannada movies.
 
Meanwhile, state Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy said it was not advisable to screen the film in view of the prevailing public sentiment against Rajinikanth's views on the sensitive issue of Cauvery.
 
"I have not got the court order yet. We respect the order and will comply with it as a responsible government. As a Kannadiga, however, my advice is to avoid screening the film to prevent any untoward incident and trouble to the people," he told reporters.
 
Govindu said the Chamber would not withdraw its objection to the film's release in the state as it was against the public sentiments.
 
"We request the distributors and exhibitors to respect the people's stand and avoid screening the film in the state to maintain peace and safety of the people," he told reporters.
 
IANS
 
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Dolly Parton to produce anthology series on her music

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Legendary singer Dolly Parton will be co-producing an eight-episode anthology series for Netflix based on her music.

Parton, known for hit songs like "I will always love you", "Jolene" and "Here you come again", will also serve as singer and songwriter for the show.

"As a songwriter, I have always enjoyed telling stories through my music," Parton said in a statement to variety.com.

"I am thrilled to be bringing some of my favourite songs to life with Netflix. We hope our show will inspire and entertain families and folks of all generations, and I want to thank the good folks at Netflix and Warner Bros TV for their incredible support," she added.

The project will be produced by Parton's Dixie Pixie Productions and Sam Haskell's Magnolia Hill Entertainment in association with Warner Bros Television.

A premiere date is yet to be announced.

IANS

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Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari excited to work with Alia Bhatt

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Director Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari says she is excited to work with actress Alia Bhatt, adding that the work on the film will start next year.

Alia will feature in Ashwiny's slice-of-life comedy-drama.

"It's happening next year. I am very happy and filled with gratitude with the story that I'll be doing with Alia," Ashwiny said.

Ashwiny, known for "Nil Battey Sannata" and "Bareilly Ki Barfi", also praised Alia for her acting skills.

"Without a doubt, Alia will light up the screen with her acting prowess, besides the nicest human being she is. It will be an added perk," added the wife of director Nitesh Tiwari.

Interestingly in her career of six years, this would be Alia's fourth film with a female director after "Dear Zindagi" by Gauri Shinde, "Raazi" by Meghna Gulzar and "Gully Boyz" by Zoya Akhtar. In fact, she had started her career as a child with a female director Tanuja Chandra in "Sangharsh".

IANS

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A Band of Boys to unveil comeback single on June 11

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A Band of Boys will unveil its first track on June 11, after reactivating with its members Karan Oberoi, Danny Fernandes, Chint2 Bhosale and Sherrin Varghese.

Earlier, the band consisted of Karan, Sudhanshu Pandey, Siddharth Haldipur, Chint2 and Sherrin.

The reformed band is working on a contractual basis with Go Live Talent and Records.

"The band will be unveiling the first song of their upcoming album during a live performance, which will be held on June 11 in the Moonshine Cafe, Andheri. The yet-to-be-revealed track is the recreation of one of their original songs, and is expected to be the next party anthem," Varkey Patani, co-partner of Go Live Talent and Record, said in a statement to IANS.

Produced by Beyond Dreams Music and Crooner Studio, the song titled "Yuhin Jalne Ko" will feature Samiksha Bhatnagar, Gazal Somaiah, Simrrann Sabarwal and Sneha Namanandi.

The track has been choreographed by Danny, Kunjan and Savio.

IANS

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Quality over Quantity: How a 'man of books' is changing publishing's 80-20 rule

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Ever wondered why so many books that seem of little value and are never sold or reviewed get published in the first place? That's because most publishers worldwide follow the old 80-20 rule, in which just about 20 % of the books pay for the 80%.

But ascertaining which 20% of the books will succeed is "an inexact science". Thus many of them are published only in the hope that a few may do well.

When seasoned publisher David Davidar, who was hired by the legendary Peter Mayer as one of the founder-members of Penguin India in 1985, floated Aleph Book Company in 2011, it was this model that he wanted to disrupt -- and seven years down the line, he seems to have done it successfully.

"We wanted to change that model and have 60-70% (if not more) of our list work really well so that we were able to cut down the business risk while underlining Aleph's commitment to quality," Davidar told IANS in an interview.

And so when the foundation of Aleph was laid in partnership with Rupa Publications, Davidar stated the firm's mission -- that he wanted to publish "the best literary books" by Indian (and other South Asian) writers from anywhere in the world.

Rupa agreed with his plan to publish an exclusive list that would focus on quality over quantity, even though it was quite contrary to its own model.

But what exactly did his Mission Statement mean? It seemed no different from what scores of publishers around the world claim --their lists have at least "a couple of first-rate literary books" by authors who are Indian or of Indian origin.

"What they don't do is have their entire list devoted to books of the highest literary quality about this part of the world and this is the niche we wanted to occupy. This is rare in India as well. So we figured this was an opportunity that was ripe for the plucking.

"We would find the best books about India and South Asia and work with their creators to infuse them with a uniformly high degree of nuance, excellence, polish and originality. A number of our books are examples of extremely fine writing about very Indian subjects and are often the first books on whatever it is they are about. It is this that has helped us make a mark," Davidar said.

Some of Aleph's most recent books winning critical acclaim include: "Reshaping Art" by T.M. Krishna; "Why I am a Hindu" by Shashi Tharoor; "Indian Culture As Heritage" by Romila Thapar; "The Sensational Life And Death Of Qandeel Baloch" by Sanam Maher; and "Daughters of the Sun" by Ira Mukhoty.

A "fair number" of Aleph's books have also been reprinted.

"I believe that of all the trade books published in India in English every year, even if one were being generous, there are probably no more than a couple of hundred books (I am talking here only of the literary end of things) that are any good. I'd like a high percentage of these books to be Aleph books. We want readers to take the Aleph colophon to be a badge of high literary quality. If we manage to achieve that, readers will support our books for a very long time," he said.

He said Aleph was determined "never to publish more than 40-50 new books a year", and "to ensure that every single book was the best it could possibly be".

"In order to make books of very high quality, you can't rush things. We start off by working with only the very best writers -- established or new. We turn down over 90% of the manuscripts and proposals submitted to us. So, right from the start, we are extremely picky. We then work hard with our authors on every aspect of the books -- and this pays."

He said it is very exciting to be a publisher in India, especially for the trade market, as there are many, many subject areas, even core areas like popular history, biography and culture that have not been addressed with "any degree of competence".

"In a way, this is not surprising as large-scale trade publishing in English in India is less than 50 years old. So the market hasn't reached its saturation point as other markets have. As a consequence, there is a lot of opportunity for writers and publishers who are enterprising and strategic. We assess the opportunities available very carefully and commission over 95% of our books to fit specific gaps we see in the market."

Asked about the journey on the business front, Davidar said it has been steady and is "delighted to say that we are now a profitable business".

Tharoor's "An Era of Darkness" -- over 100,000 copies in hardcover sold -- is among their key successes.

A "man of books" for most of his life, Davidar -- Aleph's Managing Director and Publisher -- has published several of the country's finest writers, including Vikram Seth, Arundhati Roy, Kiran Desai, Khushwant Singh, Ruskin Bond, R.K. Narayan, Amitav Ghosh and Jeet Thayil.

He has also authored three novels: "The House of Blue Mangoes" (2002), published in 16 countries that became a bestseller in six of them; "The Solitude of Emperors" (2007), shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers' Prize; and "Ithaca" (2011).

IANS

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Journey into marriage is about 'we', away from it is about 'me': Writer Devdutt Pattanaik

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A marriage is not just about the bride and the groom, asserts mythologist Devdutt Pattanaik who has done considerable work on ancient Indian scriptures. In fact, according to him, it has always had a much larger connotation than what is normally perceived of it.

In his latest book "Devlok with Devdutt Pattanaik 3," he presents two primary reasons for marriage being a big deal in India: firstly, "it became more important out of the fear that if people didn't get married, they would become bhikkhus or sanyasis", and secondly, "the parents fear that if their children didn't get married "they would go astray, get 'corrupted', and would not become responsible."

But is a married man or woman free from the desire to become a sanyasi or going "astray" and getting corrupted and becoming irresponsible?

"Marriage is a social institution, about family, about responsibility, and most importantly transmission of property and lineage. Marriage forces you to think about others -- the duty towards spouse, children and family estate. This is a burden.

Sanyas is about thinking about yourself, only yourself. So is the life of hedonism, pleasure, one-night-stand, tinder.

"One can say, the journey into marriage is about 'we' and the journey away from it is about 'me'. This me can be the flesh as in case of a hedonist and it can be the soul in case of the hermit. Householder stands in contrast to the hermit and the hedonist. If others matter, then the householder life becomes important. This does not mean marriage as much as responsibility for others, being dependable, rather than independent," Pattanaik, who has authored over 30 books and 600 columns on mythology, told IANS in an interview.

In the book, he also considers marriage as a responsibility and refers to the Pandavas and Draupadi to highlight that "with marriage, wealth and power are exchanged."

In this context, asked about the evolution of dowry to the shape that it has taken today, Pattanaik said that marriage has always been about the exchange of wealth and power along.

"Dowry marriage is the result of a society that values women over men and the men are seen as doing a favour by marrying a woman. In many communities, dowry is a way to show the value of a boy. The more dowry he gets, the more valuable he is. In a poor country like India, many parents see dowry as a way to earn money, increase their wealth, often to compensate for wealth lost via a daughter. No religion teaches anyone to disrespect anyone – however, people often use religion as a tool to disrespect people.

"Just as Muslims justify hijab as part of Islamic tradition, and some Christians justify denying women rights over their body in matters of abortion as part of Christian tradition, some Hindus use dowry as part of Hindu tradition. These are just men who use religion to assert masculine power over women. Hinduism, unlike Christianity and Islam, is not a rule-based religion that prescribes how people should behave," he said.

In the book, he further points out that "the males always seek out the females" and gives examples of the animal or bird kingdoms to establish that "there is rivalry among the males for the females". He observes that the males suffer an anxiety about "not getting a female to mate with" and contends, in this context, that "every female is precious, whereas a male is not."

When asked if he was suggesting that a disbalance in the sex-ratio (where there are more males to females) has been a rule of nature, Pattnaik differed and said that he was not suggesting anything.

"I am showing how the process of creating mating pairs in nature in animal and plant kingdoms is full of violence, competition and anxiety. There is always a lot of tension in matters of creating mating pairs in human society -- which is why marriage is associated with a lot of violence, with parents controlling who their children marry, men forcing women to have sex with them, women being forced to bear children even if they do not want to.

Hindu scriptures observe, without judgment, how we have not risen above our animal nature. How we are still anxious and dominating and territorial. It recommends ways to outgrow animal nature," he said.

The book is based on Pattanaik's "Devlok", a television series on Epic channel where he shares his insights on matters related to mythology and responds to questions in detail.

IANS

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Kangana says Indian women should know how to drape a sari

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National Award-winning actress Kangana Ranaut says Indian women should know how to drape a sari and that one can be a global citizen without compromising on individuality.

Earlier this year, ace designer Sabyasachi Mukherjee had said: "I think, if you tell me you do not know how to wear a sari, I would say shame on you. It's a part of your culture, (you) need to stand up for it".

And now, she has shared her opinion on it in an edition of a fashion and lifestyle magazine, read a statement.

She said: "I think if you're an Indian woman, you should know how to drape a sari. It's a racket out there with people who only want to shame others in the name of propagating their culture and identity.

"But I know people who find it 'uncool' to admit that they speak and understand Hindi or that they like Indian food or (that they are) brown. You can be a citizen of the world without compromising on your individuality."

The actress had flaunted a sari designed by Sabyasachi at the Cannes Film Festival last month.

IANS

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Future of books brighter in India than most parts of world: Publisher David Davidar

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After an unprecedented boom in India's publishing industry during the past two decades, many insiders are fearful that it has now reached its saturation point. But the boom is not over, according to David Davidar, who maintains that India is "one of the most exciting book markets in the world" and its future is one of hope.

Davidar, who was hired by the legendary Peter Mayer as one of the founder members of Penguin India way back in 1985 and ventured out to lay the foundations of Aleph Book Company some seven years ago, asserted that "there is no place to go but up" for India's books market. Why?

"Because there is quite a lot of rubbish that is published, and as many subject areas remain unexplored, there is plenty of room for good, relevant books," Davidar told IANS in an interview.

The acclaimed publisher explained that although India publishes nearly 20,000 new books in the English language every year, many of these books are "meretricious or just downright bad."

Davidar contrasts this unfortunate state of affairs to the fact that books will always have "a central place" in the lives of the thinking and aware individuals. And even as the consumer now has access to "more published information and entertainment than at any time in human history", much of it (especially that found in digital form on the Internet and social media) is "of little value", he noted.

"There will, therefore, always be room for thoughtful, stylish, innovative, insightful books (in whatever format you choose to read or access them - I am platform agnostic) for those who want to go beyond the commonplace, banal and mediocre," he pointed out.

But the Indian book market, like anywhere else in the world, has its own hurdles and Davidar identified a small readership base, not enough retail outlets, not enough marketing avenues, low prices, high discounts, high material costs, high returns, customers who do not pay on time, customers who default on payments and so on and so forth as the major challenges faced by publishers in contemporary scenario. But there is hope as this market is always expanding.

"In India, because the bar has been so low for so long (all of us in the business have to accept some of the blame for that), and there are new generations hungry for quality information and entertainment, the future is brighter than in most parts of the world, where reading habits and publishing revenues are declining. There is no place to go but up. Great books will not die, but will continue to thrive," he said.

Davidar has been a publisher for over a quarter century and has published several of the country's finest writers, including Shashi Tharoor, Vikram Seth, Arundhati Roy, Kiran Desai, Khushwant Singh, Ruskin Bond, R.K. Narayan, Amitav Ghosh and Jeet Thayil. He is currently the Managing Director and Publisher of Aleph Book Company, a literary publishing firm he co-founded in 2011.

He has also authored three novels "The House of Blue Mangoes" (2002), which was published in 16 countries, and became a bestseller in six of them; "The Solitude of Emperors" (2007), which was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers' Prize; and "Ithaca" (2011).

IANS

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Jim Davis reveals why politics is not for Garfield

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What would the "big orange cat" who speaks his mind feel about the "big orange guy"? Fans of Garfield will never know because his creator Jim Davis, an Emmy Award winner, doesn't want the lasagna-loving, Monday-hating cat -- who will hit the big 40 on June 19 -- to be dated by dealing with politics.

Politics and entertainment have long been intertwined. But "Garfield", which holds the Guinness World Record for being the world's most widely syndicated comic strip, is not going to enter that space...ever.

"I felt that they dealt with that (politics) in rest of the newspapers... it is all about politics and economy. So, I thought that I don't need to deal with that. Also, those comic strips that deal with politics and social comments, tend to be dated. I didn't want Garfield to be dated," Davis, an Indiana native, told IANS in a telephone interview.

"And I didn't want him (Garfield) to be an American. I wanted him to be an Indian or a Chinese or British."

He felt that had he made a political comment, Garfield would have been automatically identified as an American cat.

"I didn't want to do that and also, people go to comics to have a laugh and have a break... away from the real news and real world that are often depressing," said the cartoonist.

But what would Garfield think of US President Donald Trump?

"What would the big orange cat who speaks his mind feel about the big orange guy?" Davis asked followed by laughter.

He might not make a political statement, but Davis wants a lot of stories to be told through Garfield.

"I would like to step away from the day-to-day licensing and all that one day, but I want to continue with the comic strip because that's what gets me out of the bed every morning. It's still my favourite thing to do.

"I would like Garfield to continue whether with people I work or anyone else who can maintain the level of Garfield's humour and continue to entertain other generations after I am done. I would like to see him go on for a long, long time," he said.

The Garfield merchandise is licensed by Animation International India and is copyrighted to Davis' company Paws.

Apart from the comic strip, Garfield had his own shows, movies, stage shows and video games.

What clicked with the lazy cat?

"People love cats. That aside, he does what we all do. He eats and he sleeps. Obviously, we identify with that. That's important."

His loyal admirers are flooding social media with fan art to celebrate Garfield entering the fourth level. How does he plan to celebrate Garfield's birthday?

"I am going for Garfield's 40th-anniversary celebrations in Canada, then China. We are releasing a book, 'Garfield Hits the Big 4-0'. I will be going to Denver for Comic Con to launch that," he shared.

Going back in time, what made him come up with a comic strip with a cat who thinks like a human being?

"I didn't want to work with human beings. I had worked for nine years for a comic strip called Tumbleweeds. I thought if I had a comic strip, I would work with animals. Animals are adorable. Back then, dogs were doing very well. I thought maybe cat lovers would like something on cats," he said.

Would it still be massively successful had Garfield been another animal?

"It would have certainly worked as a dog but as a horse or a bird... I don't think so, because people don't see them around the house all the time," said Davis.

Among various films, "Garfield: The Movie" (2004) and "Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties" (2006) with a voice-over by Hollywood star Bill Murray, did well at the box office.

Any more movies lined up?

"Yes, we are working on another movie. That's gonna be years away because it will be all computer animated this time. I like Garfield's voice (Frank Welker) that we are using for television," said Davis.

"Bill Murray was wonderful in Garfield's live action films. He has the attitude and his voice fits the character very nicely but no... as long as it (anybody's voice) suits his (Garfield's) personality, I am good with that," added its creator.

He has been doing this for 40 years but he still feels that he is trying to get it right.

"I like to make the art even better because I want to entertain...Garfield is going to continue eating and sleeping for a long time," he said.

IANS

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People are starved for new kind of films, says Harshvardhan Kapoor

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Actor Harshvardhan Kapoor, gearing up for the release of his forthcoming film "Bhavesh Joshi Superhero", says people are starved for new kind of films.

Harshvardhan was here with director Vikramaditya Motwane at a shopping mall here on Tuesday to promote the film.

Asked what kind of movies he would like to feature in, the one-film-old actor said: "I think I am too new and I think this film will help me to reach out to more people. So, I am taking small steps. The idea is to try and do new films so that's a more challenging road.

"It's not always easy, but I think the audience is very intelligent and they want new films as they have seen same things so many times over and over again. I think as a young kid or guy, it's my responsibility to do new kind of films because I think people are starved of it. So that's what I am trying to do."

Harshvardhan will be seen doing death-defying bike stunts and hand-to-hand combat scenes in "Bhavesh Joshi Superhero".

Was doing action in the film tough for him?

"It was very tough but not really because we loved the film and we believe in the film. We believe that people want new and innovative films. It's a great privilege to get a chance to make those movies, so we have gone out there and done it. Now it's for the people (to see), so we hope they like it," the "Mirzya" actor added.

"Bhavesh Joshi Superhero" revolves around a vigilante who fights against corruption.

Has he ever fought for injustice in his personal life?

"No... But I think I do it in certain ways in my own life because I am trying to do something through the medium of films. Hopefully, this film turns out to be an important one and I truly believe that no film really changes your life but it definitely plants a seed in your head.

"I think films like 'Rang De Basanti' and 'Pink' have done it earlier, but what Vikram (Vikramaditya Motwane) has managed to do is that he has managed to tell a very important story in a very entertaining way. I think being part of this film, I have become more aware of things.

"I also think twice before I break the law, not in a big way but in a small way which we feel guilty of doing on a day-to-day basis. So, after watching the film, hopefully, people will resonate with the message of the film."

"Bhavesh Joshi Superhero" is an action film about a young man who wants to continue doing the right and challenge the wrong. During this journey, he discovers that he is destined to do bigger things, which will transform him from a common man into a superhero.

The film will release on June 1, clashing with Harshvardhan's elder sister Sonam Kapoor's "Veere Di Wedding".

IANS

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Film with Rajinikanth will have nothing to do with politics: Karthik Subbaraj

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Tamil filmmaker Karthik Subbaraj, who is embarking on a film starring megastar Rajinikanth in the lead, says the movie will have nothing to do with politics.

"It has been my dream to make a film with Rajini sir. I grew up watching his films. And I was sure I would direct a film with him someday. I never thought would happen so early," Subbaraj said.

When he wrote the new film for Rajinikanth, he was in for a surprise.

"I went with the story to Rajini sir about a year ago. I never thought he would agree to do it. To my surprise, he had seen my films -- from the first one 'Pizza', then 'Jigarthanda' and 'Iraivi'. When Rajini sir said he had seen all my films, I was happier than I can explain.

"He had trust in my abilities and we decided to do our film together as soon as he was free from his two assignments '2.0' and 'Kaala'. I thought he would forget about my film. But now that he has finished with his pending projects, he told me we can start," added the director, who has attained an impressive reputation in no time at all as a filmmaker who delivers the hits.

Karthik feels a huge sense of joy and responsibility.

"With the happiness of knowing I am working with the biggest star of the country comes the worry of knowing how to present him in a different light. To change his image is unacceptable to his fans, so I've to work my way around his image."

The one thing that the movie won't go into is politics.

"I'm aware Rajini sir has been doing political films lately. But my film with him would have nothing to do with politics. It would be a light-hearted film."

Apart from Rajinikanth, only Vijay Sethupati has been finalised in the yet untitled film.

"Vijay Sethupati has been a part of almost all my films. He trusts me blindly and I feel the same trust in his abilities each time," the director said.

He dismissed reports of Simran being finalised as Rajinikanth's leading lady.

"So far, only Rajini sir and Vijay Sethupathi have been locked. We are yet to finalise the leading lady. We hope to complete the film by the end of this year and release it early next year," he added.

IANS

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We have lost our sensuality due to aggressive lives, says 'Kama' author

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Vatsyayana is known for the widely popular texts of "Kamasutra" but, very little is known about the author himself.

Jaya Misra, who has penned a fictional take on what factors and phase of life might have led the ancient Indian philosopher to write the Shastra, says today individuals have lost or forgotten their sense of sensuality amid the aggressive lives being led.

Misra's "KAMA: The story of the Kama Sutra", an Om Books International publication, talks about the importance of pleasure and desire, which was largely appreciated only in prostitute houses but later extensively studied by Vatsyayana.

"We are not sensual creatures any more because of the kind of aggressive lives we all are leading. The struggles of our lives, earning more money... people are off the sense of sensuality today," Misra told IANS in a telephonic interview.

The smooth, addictive and interesting read should not be taken as a pure book of facts as most of it is Misra's imagination. Some of the facts infused in the read that many might be surprised to know are that courtesans of Patliputra paid more taxes than the entire city paid collectively.

The 335-page book also shows how self-pleasure or masturbation was crucial for women at the time, which on the contrary today, Misra points out, is a lesser known or understood reality.

"Statistically if you see, a lot of women don't reach orgasm. A lot of women don't masturbate. They feel it is wrong to masturbate and some... who have been married for so many years, don't know what is an orgasm in the first place," she said.

"Sex is such a taboo topic that women are not ready to admit to themselves that they have sensuality in them. It is buried inside. There is so much of frustration among people and I just feel that if we were a little bit more open about desires... things would be different in the sad scenario today," she added.

In addition to the topic of sex being taboo, the absence of sex education, a major contrast to the fact that "Kama Sutra" hails from India, what is her take on this hypocrisy?

"We Indians have regressed a lot," said Misra.

"Post-Veda, when Vatsyayana wrote the 'Kama Sutra', there is a portion where he writes how to woo other men's wives. Forgetting about pleasuring and wooing just women. There is a particular fact, that a married woman those days... the society was so leaning towards women that they had very clearly mentioned that if a married woman is unhappy with her husband, then she could take up to four lovers. If she takes a fifth lover then she is deemed a whore," Misra said.

"So, at the time society may not have been promiscuous... the reason why Vatsyayana wants to promote Kama Shastra is so that there is balance in society. Today, I hear a lot of women talking... a lot of men don't even know where the clitoris is. They don't know the concept of pleasuring a woman. Which is why I feel the society has regressed a lot," Misra added.

"Kama" has a lot of lessons for an individual who has forgotten how to love herself or himself. The descriptions of beauty by Misra's Vatsyayana can make you feel more confident and is worth it if you read it with an open mind.

The lovemaking scenes, in the beginning, might give you the impression that it's like the good old "Mills and Boon" stuff with mushy episodes, but as you delve deeper into the incidents woven around Vatsyayana, you realise that there is more to it than sensuality.

You can also be the Ratnavati whom he loved or the powerful Nayantara whose confidence could break the fiercest of people or Ramanna, a eunuch but the most loving and selfless mother any individual could have.

IANS

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Beyond purdah: 20th century Muslim women who broke societal barriers

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Far from the commonly held impression of silenced, cloistered and acquiescent Muslim women, an exhibition reminds Indians of the post-Independence contribution of some women who became role models for new generations.

Titled "Pathbreakers", the exhibition was organised by Muslim Women's Forum in partnership with UN Women at India Habitat Centre to celebrate the struggles of those women who broke barriers and became partners in the project to build a new India.

"A multiplicity of stereotypes are constructed by diverse actors regarding Muslim women. But the fact is there is no undifferentiated ‘mass' of Muslim Women. Like women of all socio-cultural groups, they too are a divergent, shifting composition of individuals, often dumped in popular parlance into one single heap. This homogenisation has to be rejected," Syeda Hameed, President, Muslim Women's Forum said.

Shedding their purdah, the Muslim women became writers, teachers, artists, scientists, lawyers, educators, political workers, trade unionists. A few even went to become MP's, MLA's and some represented India in international fora.

However, with a few exceptions, most of them have been forgotten in time.

"There is more to Muslim women than triple talaq, polygamy halala and purdah, and that this project hopes to bring a different image of Muslim women to the public consciousness. For the commonly held impression of silenced, cloistered and acquiescent women, Pathbreakers narrates the stories of strong, determined and engaged women," Hameed added.

The exhibition highlighted these women who were at the forefront of nationalist and feminist struggles. The main body of their work spanned from 1947 until the end of their lives who believed in equal rights for women and projected through their work and their social engagements.

From featuring writer-activist from Uttar Pradesh Anis Kidwai to Sharifa Hamid Ali from Gujarat who was one of the founding members of All India Women's Conference (AIWC) and appointed as the Indian representative to the UN Commission on the status of women.

Other women who were featured in the exhibition are Atiya Fyzee, Atia Hossain, Aziza Imam, Fathema Ismail, Hamida Habibullah, Hajira Begum, Mofida Ahmed, Masuma Begum, Mumtaz Jahan Haider, Qudsia Aizaz Rasul, Qudsia Zaidi, Razia Sajjad Zaheer, Saleha Abid Hussain, Saeeda Khurshid, Safia Jan Nisar Akhtar, Siddiqa Kidwai, Surayya Tyabji, Zehra Ali Yavar Jung and Tyeba Khedive Jung.

IANS

 

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I'll always do what's right, works for my personality: Kareena Kapoor

Actress Kareena Kapoor during a press conference organised to promote
Actress Kareena Kapoor during a press conference organised to promote "Veere Di Wedding" in New Delhi, on May 25, 2018. (Photo: Amlan Paliwal/IANS)

Marriage and motherhood have had no bearing on Kareena Kapoor Khan's choice of films and roles, and never will.

From slimming down to a size zero for her film to walking the ramp with a baby bump, the actress, who comes from Bollywood's famed Kapoor family, has always made a statement.

Asked if she would rethink before signing a film or before appearing in a dance number being a mother now, Kareena told IANS here: "No really, I mean there is nothing wrong with song and dance. It is not derogatory. We come from a film family and our films are known for song and dance... So I will always do what I think is right, what works for my personality and my career.

"I might not be able to give time to a film like earlier; so I would want to work in a film that gets over within 50 days. So maybe not two to three films in a year, but I would rather do one film every year," added the mother of Taimur Ali Khan, her son from actor Saif Ali Khan.

In the past, Kareena has featured in dance numbers like "It's rocking", "Marjaani", "Fevicol Se" and "Mera Naam Mary Hai".

The 37-year-old has been experimental with her choice of films in the last 18 years of her career. Whether it is films like "Yaadein", "Chameli", "Yuva" and "Omkara", she has also done commercial potboilers like "Jab We Met", "3 Idiots", "Golmaal 3", "Singham Returns" and "Bajrangi Bhaijaan".

Come June 1, she will be seen in "Veere Di Wedding", which also features Sonam Kapoor, Swara Bhasker and Shikha Talsania.

"The idea is to challenge myself in whichever ways. See in real life Aamir Khan does not look like the way he looked in 'Dangal'. But he did it for a film. I am always an actress who moulds herself according to the role that I play, according to the vision a filmmaker has for the character. That is really my way to keep going," she said.

Having started her career with J.P. Dutta's "Refugee", she has also featured in movies like "Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham...", "Asoka", "Hulchul", "Don", "Heroine" and "Udta Punjab".

"I joined the film industry to be known as an actress first, then a star. So I want people to remember my performance, even if the film does not turn out as expected. I love acting and I take my career quite seriously," she said.

Of "Veere Di Wedding", Kareena said: "I think I wanted to be a part of this film from the beginning because this is a very different film for me. I have always been a part of films where I shared screen space with heroes and I played the heroine. And here, I am narrating the story of a girl, along with three other girls who are her best buddies.

"Also, this is a story that captures various stages of love and marriage of girls. One wants to get married, one is getting divorced, one is commitment phobic... So it is a story of different shades of a relationship."

In the movie, Kareena plays Kalindi, and the story revolves around her marriage.

The actress's recent comment: "I believe in equality. I wouldn't say I am a feminist", was widely trolled on social media. Does she think the term 'feminism' is misinterpreted?

"I think so. I mean, on social media platforms many people misuse the word feminism. It is about equality and does not mean one is superior to another. It is about equal rights for everyone.

"Today a man is working, a woman is working on the same platform with the same level of dedication, skill set -- whether it is an entrepreneur, a journalist, a filmmaker, an actor, we all are doing everything with equality."

In a way, "Veere Di Wedding", directed by Shashanka Ghosh, seems like an attempt to shine the spotlight on the image of modern Indian women.

Kareena says the team is being asked a lot if they were trying to make a point on feminism and women empowerment.

"But the fact is we made a film on the story of four girls in a very commercial space. It is an entertaining film!"

IANS

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