Society en Thu Jan 17 12:17:33 IST 2019 Revisiting-Ashapoorna-Debi-Subarnolata-on-stage <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Born in 1909 in a conservative north-Calcutta household and married off at 15, Ashapoorna Debi was never allowed to go to school. Yet she gifted some of the most unforgettable stories in the canon of Bengali literature. It is said that she learnt her alphabets by listening to her brothers, who read aloud their lessons with their private tutors. She was confined within the four walls of domesticity for much of her life and yet ended up writing more than 150 novels and 1,500 short stories in a career spanning 70 years. Her first published piece was a poem in a children's magazine when she was 13. She called herself 'Saraswati's Stenographer', referring to the goddess of knowledge and learning.</p> <p>At a time when women's liberation movement hadn't even gained traction in India, Debi was already dashing off stories about the lives of women who persistently swam against the current in stifling, middle-class Bengali households, the <i>andar mahal</i> or the inner chamber. One such story is that of Subarnolata from her magnum opus, the Debi trilogy, consisting of three novels—<i>Prathom Protishruti</i>, <i>Subarnolata</i> and <i>Bakul Katha</i>.</p> <p>On June 29, the India Habitat Centre in Delhi revived a 1999 Hindi stage adaptation of <i>Subarnolata</i>. Directed by Kirti Jain with the Kshitij Theatre Group, the play did not veer much from the original story. It continued to evoke fear and unease in the way the vivacious, fearless protagonist of the eponymously titled play suffers continual indignities in her marital home. Married off as a child and full of wit and wonder, Subarnolata wants a house with a balcony, she craves the sea, wants to read, spin the <i>charkha</i> and sing songs of freedom. But she has to persistently and vehemently fight and cry and suffer beatings to achieve any of this in her deeply patriarchal house, made more fearsome by her thuggish mother-in-law who is admirably cast in the play.</p> <p>In all three books, <i>Pratham Pratisruti</i> (The First Promise, 1964), <i>Subarnalata</i> (1967) and <i>Bakul Katha </i>(The Story of Bakul, 1974), the act of writing has been used a weapon by the resilient women in the story. <i>Pratham Pratisruti</i>'s Satyabati did not have access to ink. So she first writes on <i>taalpaat</i> or palm leaves. She would sometimes use the sap made from a paste of leaves to write. Her daughter Subarnolata in the next book, while does have access to ink, hides and writes in the shadows of the night and destroys everything she produces in her misery. And Bakul in the next book, while a writer herself, suffers a great deal at the hands of her publisher.</p> <p>The play flows seamlessly with women in sarees draped the traditional Bengali way, speaking in Hindi, with Bangla songs of social unrest playing in the background. This pattern is suddenly broken with tunes of <i>shehnai</i>, north Indian style, in a scene abuzz with marriage preps. The constant shuffling of two cultures in costume, music, dialogue and stage-setting adds much energy and verve. Jain admits her new cast did wonder why they should revisit the script written in 1999. "For me it's a different kind of experience of working through a text where you understand the lives of the actors and the life of the characters in the play," says Jain. "Re-looking the text in today's context has more to do with how young people would respond to the plight of this woman. It is this interaction with the actors which brings forth newer nuances. For instance, the Subarnalata in this play is more angry. Maybe, back in 1999, we were not looking at a very aggressive Subarnalata. Understanding the psyche of the actors participating in this play was the exciting part for me. That becomes the reflection of the society for which you are presenting it."</p> <p>While the play is set in a time and space we longer inhabit or identity with, Subarnolata still speaks to us. Every time a woman asserts her autonomy and is forced to cow down because of her gender, it is same sense of unfreedom Debi had railed against in her timeless tales.</p> Wed Jul 03 19:47:45 IST 2019 bonnie-wright-and-the-plastic-clothing-revolution <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Eleven plastic bottles for a pair of men’s shorts, eight for a women’s swimsuit. This is no barter trade — it is instead the process by which Fair Harbor turns recycled plastic into swimwear.</p> <p>Of the 8.3 billion tons of plastic produced so far, <u><a href="">less than nine per cent has been recycled</a></u>. As the possibilities for sustainable fashion have grown, so has the profile of the people endorsing it. The latest warrior in the fight against a <u><a href="">plastic-choked</a></u> future is Bonnie Wright, who played Harry’s love interest Ginny Weasley in the Harry Potter franchise.</p> <p>Bonnie, who has long advocated environmental causes, has partnered with Fair Harbor to develop a line of swimwear in the company’s assortment of sustainable clothing.</p> <p>The Long Island-based company was founded in 2015, with the goal of reducing plastic pollution in the oceans through a line of plastic-based products. Bonnie’s design line was inspired by the pattern of a sea urchin shell.</p> <p>“I was inspired by Japanese and Chinese indigo prints for both the pattern and colour of the collection. The pattern itself is inspired by sea urchin shells, an animal I find to have such fierce beauty like the ocean. I wanted the shape and fit of the suits to encourage movement at the beach be it swimming, dancing or surfing!” says Bonnie on the official Fair Harbor website.</p> <p>Bonnie has championed environmental causes in the past. After years of working with the Greenpeace, she became its official ocean ambassador recently and shared her happiness via social media.</p> <p>“As an ambassador of the Greenpeace, which had already inspired me since I was a kid, I will be working to help implement a United Nations global treaty to protect a third of our oceans as ocean sanctuaries,” she posted on Instagram.</p> <p><b>The plastic clothing revolution in India</b></p> <p>There are many companies in India which recycle PET plastic to make fibres, which are woven into different fabrics. There are a few recycling plants in Tamil Nadu which does so. The PET fibre is obtained through a long process and then spun into yarns. This was undertaken by B.P. Sultania, president of the All India Recycled Fiber and Yarn Association. These fibres are cheaper when compared to cotton, reducing the cost of dyeing for the weavers.</p> <p>The Summer House is a slow fashion brand which sells Econyl Swimwear, clothing made of the plastic waste from fishing gear. “Fishing gear is something which is left under the sea, being a death trap for animals. Econyl gives a new life for it. We source the fabric from the Italian companies who make fabric out of the fish gear. They collect the waste from the ocean, treat and regenerate the material, polymerize it and transform into the fabric. Now there are trade distributors in India for these fabrics” says Shivangini Pandhyar, founder and creative director of The Summer House.</p> <p>One of the biggest brands to attempt sustainable plastic-sourced fabric is Reliance India Pvt Ltd, which launched T-shirts made of R|Elan™ GreenGold, a fabric made out of plastic bottles, as part of the Lakme Fashion Week Summer/Resort 2018.</p> <p>As more brands explore the possibilities of turning plastic into fashion, the clothing industry makes progress towards a sustainable future, adding a lifeline for the upcoming generations as well.</p> <p>Shivangini is optimistic about the future.&nbsp; “The future seems to be well versed with these kinds of sustainable fabrics, as there are a lot of brands coming up with the idea of it. As plastic turns up to be a solution-less problem, we must find smart solutions to overcome [it]. These fabrics are quite durable and can be reused and recycled. Moreover, it is good enough for variations in climate as well.”</p> Tue Jul 02 18:26:03 IST 2019 chennai-water-crisis-five-ways-to-save-water-during-a-shortage <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Water shortage — two words no human being ever wants to hear. Chennai’s water crisis has forced the city’s ten million residents into survival mode with one parliamentarian remarking that “<a href="">gold has become cheaper than water</a>.”<br> </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>As politicians <a href="">perform Yajnas in temples</a>, citizens and private corporations alike are forced to make do with what they have — a dwindling and limited supply of water. <i>The New Indian Express </i>reported in March that Chennaites would be able to use only 61 litres of water per person per day in the summer.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Bureau of Indian Standard’s “<a href="">Code of Basic Requirements for Water</a> <a href="">Supply, Drainage and Sanitation</a>“ states that economically weaker sections of society have a ‘minimum requirement’ of 135 litres of water per head per day (lphd), while the criteria for everyone else is on the basis of population: Areas with more than 20,000 people but without flushing systems consume up to 100 lphd, those with flushes up to 150 lphd, and communities with more than one lakh population consume up to 200 lphd.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>A 2007 report <a href="">published in the Economic and Political Weekly</a> contained a breakdown of water consumption patterns in India: “...bathing consumes the highest amount of water, in all the seven cities, at about 28 per cent of total consumption (Table 9). This is followed by consumption in toilets (20 per cent), washing clothes (18.6 per cent) and washing utensils (16.3 per cent).”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Given the above, what are the ways that ordinary householders can cut down their water consumption? Here are some tips for saving water.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>1. Try a Navy Shower or, even better, a bucket bath</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>A showering technique that will be familiar to those in the Navy, it involved turning on the water for a brief moment to get wet, turning it off while you lather and apply shampoo and soap, and then turning it on again. Popular among sailors in the United States, who need to conserve fresh water while out at sea, this technique usually consumes only 11 litres of water compared to the 200+ litres taking up the average shower. Even better — such showers last just a couple of minutes, making it ideal for late-wakers who have to get to work on time.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>A more desi alternative is to take Sanjay Baru’s advice and <a href="">take a bucket bath.</a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>2. Repair your taps, or upgrade them</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Leaky taps can result in hundreds of litres of water going to waste. The drops add up, tap by tap, resulting in a significant amount being wasted. If you have leaky taps and want to calculate your wastage, you can use <a href="">this handy tool</a> devised by the US Geological Survey.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>If you need some inspiration to get your hands busy repairing your taps, check out the story of <a href="">83-year-old Aabid Sutry</a>, who repaired over 400 taps in 1,666 households in Mumbai free-of-charge, saving over four lakh litres of water in the process.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>If you want to go further, you could try out the water-saving add-ons for regular faucets, some of which claim to save up to 98 per cent of water compared to a regular tap.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>3. Dry Wash</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>As Chennai’s water crisis spread, so too did awareness of the need to tackle it. Royal Enfield took the initiative by having all its service centres switch to a “dry wash” system, which uses foam sprayed on to the bike at high pressure to save up to 60 litres of water per bike. Hyundai too has started offering this facility at its service centres in Chennai.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>For those of you who wash your vehicles at home, there is a way to dry wash. You can buy waterless dry wash kits online, that basically pair car wax with other chemical cleaners, allowing you to wash your vehicle without wasting valuable water in the process.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>4. DIY rainwater harvesting system</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Building a rainwater harvesting system for your house can be as simple as <a href=";v=yTF1wXMAMd8">putting together some barrels, funnels and hoses</a> as this YouTuber has done. There are a variety of options for building a DIY rainwater harvesting system. The Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) has put together a <a href="">website</a> containing all the information you need to know for making your own kit to collect rainwater.</p> <p>In some parts of Kerala and Karnataka, locals <a href="">use a Sari</a> to catch rainfall and collect the water below it. The water is later boiled and good for use.</p> <p>Additionally, the Ministry of Jal Shakti Ministry has planned a Jal Shakti Abhiyan campaign to promote rainwater harvesting in water-stressed districts in India.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>5. Cut down consumption of water-stressing products</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Did you know that a single cotton t shirt can cost up to 2,700 litres of water to produce (Source: World Wildlife Foundation). Likewise, the average smartphone involves multiple resources in its production supply chain — the sum total of which costs about 18 square metres of land and 13,000 litres of water according to a report by the Friends of the Earth organisation.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>There are many everyday products and foods that we consume which has a significant water footprint. <a href="">Changing your diet</a> or keeping watch over the products you consume can make a big difference, if adopted at scale.</p> Thu Jun 27 18:22:10 IST 2019 kabir-singh-is-a-good-movie-right-guide-for-confused-bros <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>I know what is going through your heads. Trust me, I do. &quot;Why are all the women on my Twitter timeline going berserk over a movie? It is just a movie. Right? Right?&quot; If only I had a 'chip-implanted, GPS-enabled' 2,000 rupee note for every time I grimaced at a similar message in sausage fests masquerading as WhatsApp groups.</p> <p>You like Kabir Singh. Why won't you? Haven't we seen him all our lives? You know, the guy who strolls in early morning into the men's hostel with his rumpled shirt skilfully unbuttoned, a strategic sliver of rubber poking out of his douchebag denims, and waits for just the right moment to say: &quot;Listen, I had a long night. Couldn't sleep at all. Let me get some shut-eye.&quot; &quot;Who is she?&quot; you would ask, propelled by some strange compulsion. &quot;Don't really know. But, hey, I will send you the footage later,&quot; he would answer, playfully waving his cell phone. And the camera would pan to wide-eyed, admiring gazes as the hero strolls off into the glorious sunset.<br> <br> Isn't he the same &quot;bro&quot; who quotes Barney Stinson (<i>How I Met Your Mother</i>) from memory in real-life situations and preaches to a sheep-like congregation of faithfuls that women are &quot;not to be trusted, not fraternised with&quot;? The same dude who tries to hustle you a hand-printed &quot;feminism is for gays and virgins&quot; t-shirt? The same centre of attention in a dimly lit upscale club, regaling you with &quot;witty repartees&quot; on the behinds of women enjoying themselves on the dance floor—a nucleus of sorts for your gang of beta electrons, an atom which couldn't &quot;covalent bond&quot; with the opposite gender in a million and one years—while you laughed your loudest, hoping and praying it would be enough to grab the attention of one of the females on the dance floor. Anyone. The same instinct of genital inadequacy that drives a man to raucously honk and full-throttle a car the moment he got a whiff of an attractive woman on the side-walk.<br> <br> For all you confused bros out there, here is a quick FAQ—some crowd-favourites that I hope will help me mansplain why so many people feel the way they feel about <i>Kabir Singh</i>:<br> <br> <b>Isn't </b><a title="'Kabir Singh' review: Toxic masculinity, thy name is 'Kabir Singh'" href="" target="_blank"><i><b>Kabir Singh</b></i><b> just a movie</b></a><b>? Why do you have a problem with a character being shown with flaws and all. Aren't we the same people who celebrated Nabokov's </b><i><b>Lolita</b></i><b>?</b></p> <p><br> Right off the bat with <i>Lolita</i>, eh? The moment you say this, it is pretty clear you have not read the book. You would be making this false equivalence otherwise. Let us, for the sake of argument, say you have watched the movie. If you came away feeling a fraction of empathy for Humbert, I am willing wager my entire trust fund that you have some nasty mental hang-up. People disagree with the film exactly because it conjures up a sense of sympathy around a petulant, misogynistic man-child who thinks the whole universe revolves between his navel and his hips. People take offence because of the way the film treats its female characters, who are all, without exception, submissive and subservient, unwilling to open their mouths against a sociopath who gaslights the same women into believing it is their fault he is the way he is.<br> <br> No one is arguing <i>Kabir Singh</i> is the first of its genre—not by a long shot. We already have a glut of tall, dark and handsome male protagonists channelling their self-destructive tendencies on to hapless females who are portrayed as &quot;seductresses and manipulators&quot;. A musician drinks, overdoses on drugs and becomes desi Kurt Cobain because a woman left him for another man. Or if his spouse becomes more popular than he is. The glorification should stop.<br> <br> <b>But, </b><i><b>Kabir Singh</b></i><b> is such a well-shot, brilliantly acted film. Can't we enjoy it for what it is and ignore all that misogyny and stuff you keep talking about?</b><br> <br> You mean like passing off the Islamic State's videos as some 'damn fine video documentaries' where you just need to tune out all the beheadings and enslavement going on in the background? You know, that minor stuff?<br> <br> <b>Why was there no such outrage when </b><i><b><a title="" href="" target="_blank">Arjun Reddy</a></b></i><b> was released in Telugu years back? I smell politics behind this.</b><br> <br> Can you speak Telugu? Can you read Telugu? How did you reach the conclusion that there was no outrage post the release of <i>Arjun Reddy</i>? I have one word for you: Google.<br> <br> <b>I honestly think the reaction is a little too much. It is not like he [the protagonist] raped or molested anyone.</b><br> <br> It is telling how your mind went straight to rape when it came to a &quot;disobedient woman&quot;. That disturbing free association aside, ask your female friend (if anyone from the opposite gender lets you 10 feet near them) if rape is the only form of violation that they feel.<br> <br> <b>So, you are saying</b><i><b> Kabir Singh </b></i><b>is</b><i><b> </b></i><b>the biggest issue facing women in India. If this movie is retracted, it will solve all the problems faced by women in India won't it?</b><br> <br> Strawman fallacy. Look it up. Next.<br> <br> <b>There are many who are taking an issue with how a fat woman was portrayed in the film. Why do they not open their mouths every time a man is made the butt of jokes in a similar manner in movies?</b><br> <br> I agree with you there. Fat shaming is largely a gender neutral endeavour in Bollywood. And it is wrong to do so, be it against men or women.<br> <br> <b>When will you stop being such a cuck? Don't you know feminists will hate you anyway because they hate every man alive? </b><br> <br> For the first part of your question, not in the foreseeable future, no. To your second part, I will apologise to you personally if and when women start forming death panels to annihilate the opposite gender. Or, when my female superior cups my behind and asks me to join her for a personal chat in a secluded hotel room.</p> Wed Jun 26 15:08:17 IST 2019 sharenting-how-much-is-too-much <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Recently, I happened to get a 'follow' request on Instagram from a nine-month-old baby! Where exactly do we draw the line in this age of 'sharenting'? Despite being the mother of a one-year-old, I am tired of the numerous baby pictures, however cute they were, being posted online by friends and family. It gets even more tiring when friends and family members relentlessly ask me: “But where are your baby's pictures?”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>According to a recent report published in <i>Forbes, </i>on an average, by the most conservative estimates, a parent posts approximately 1,300 images of their child by the time the kid turns 13. What does this really mean? Are parents the biggest violators of a child's privacy? According to a 2012 US study, more than 90 per cent of two-year-olds already had an online presence. What prompts people to post images of their kids online? “People live their lives through social media and share the smallest to the biggest moments of their lives across various platforms. For parents specifically, the biggest moments of life are with a child—seeing the child grow, learn skills, and reach their own pinnacles of success,” says Kamna Chhibber, Clinical Psychologist, Fortis Healthcare, Gurgaon. “This then becomes an aspect of their lives that they like to live with others they consider their friends/acquaintances and also have people look at the lives they are leading and perhaps also get recognition for it.” She adds that, “it is very hard to describe how this can impact future relationships with a child.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>To share or not to share differs from parent to parent. With social media sites offering various tools to protect ones privacy, it may not be that big a deal after all. But of course, long-term well-being of the child needs to be taken into consideration, too. According to a report from the United Kingdom, by 2030, 'sharenting' will be pave way for two-thirds of identity fraud. Finding sensitive data about a child will not be all that difficult with time. A geotagged picture could give a scammer all the information they need about your child and your family.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“Posting pictures of children online is 100 per cent for the social benefit of parents; it does not take into account children's welfare at all. I do not think parents are doing this to be harmful or anything, they just want to share pictures of something that makes them happy. I mean who doesn't? I share pictures of my cat, you share pictures of your baby. But the difference is that my cat will never need to navigate an adult world in which massive private corporations have a huge amount of personal data on him,” says Richa Kaul Padte, author of <i>Cyber Sexy,</i> a book on digital sexual expression. “There is so much about the corporate control of technology we do not yet understand, but I do think that as a general rule it is a bad idea to place our children's futures in the hands of private companies.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Hapreeth Suri, the mom behind the Instagram account momwearsprada, says, “My son is okay with being clicked and me posting about him. When we ask him, what he wants to do when he grows up, he says 'YouTuber' and so, he wants to be seen. My daughter, on the other hand, does not like to be clicked and I do not post any of her pictures any more. So, I do post images of my kids, but I am also sensitive of what they think.” The Delhi-based mom influencer who has more than 33,000 followers, has even had her pictures taken and shared on Bollywood photographer Viral Bhayani's Instagram feed!</p> <p>But, do children really understand how the internet works unless we explain it to them? There are quite a few pre-teens who have their own Facebook accounts. But how much do they really know about what happens to the pictures they post of themselves from birthday parties or school events? While that is a topic for another day, parents do not tend to be all that cautious while posting images of their children. The line between sharing and oversharing often gets blurred and these images later could end up embarrassing the child.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“It is important to understand that involvement in social media at a young age would only indicate towards increased involvement later on— an aspect that parents of school-going children tend to be especially unhappy about as these can act as distractions from academics, social relationships, chores at home and regular play. As a parent, it is important to make a conscious choice knowing the long-term effects and repercussions that can follow and also understanding that the child may grow up much sooner than her or his age,” says Chhibber.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Saru Mukherjee Sharma, another mom influencer whose Instagram handle diapers_and_lipsticks has 49,000 followers, says, “Parents can always take precautions before posting images online. For example, avoid tagging school names and locations. For now, my baby enjoys being photographed. But if and when he says he is not okay with it, I will stop.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>According to a survey by C.S. Mott Children's Hospital in Michigan in the US, 84 per cent mothers 'sharent' more and they do it in order to feel less lonely in their journey as a parent. While on one hand, we have parents wishing their toddlers a happy birthday on social media, there are parents on the other hand who refrain from posting anything about their kids at all.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>One such parent is Sandhya Keelery who says, “From the time we found out I was pregnant, my husband and I decided not to post pictures of our baby online. For two reasons—one because it is his (our son's) decision to make. And secondly, the uncertainties that come with the internet.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>She adds: “Social media has changed so much already, and there's just no way to know how it will develop or manifest, and it is just better to be safe than to be sorry. I shudder to think of a scenario where my personal pictures were available to my parents' friends and all kinds of extended family without my permission, when they only know me via the internet (if I don't have them in my day-to-day life). This escalated when a family-friend randomly posted a picture on her Facebook of our dog that we didn't even share with her directly. It was scary to think how pictures of our baby would be circulated like that.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Does she discuss this with her friends? “Sometimes, it is not something they have ever thought about, which is then a good starting point. But as a rule of thumb, anything related to parenting is very personal and sensitive. In most cases, it is a grey area, there is no black or white. We discuss, we don't advise. But the important thing for us is that they understand where we stand and when we take pictures together, they always ask before sharing them online. That is something we appreciate and are grateful for,” Sandhya says. She also adds that her one and half-year-old son does not have any screen time.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Cyber bullying, online stalking and invasion of privacy are all real and parents or not, we all need to deal with it. The question I suppose, is what and how often to share and what precautions need to be taken.&nbsp;</p> Tue Jun 25 14:33:25 IST 2019 twitter-users-respond-to-viral-kannada-curse-with-uno-cards-turtles <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>The internet can be a frightening place but thankfully, one need not face its horrors alone. On Thursday, Twitter user @gusyar_ shared an image of a threat he had allegedly received from an unnamed Snapchatter.</p> <p>According to @gusyar_, the other person had requested &quot;juulpods&quot; — nicotine salt cartridges used to refill the popular Juul brand of e-cigarettes. When @gusyar_ refused, he was met with this image and text.</p> <p>Not knowing Kannada (the language used in the image), @gusyar_ shared&nbsp; the screenshot on Twitter hoping for a translation. Twitter users were soon spooked by the image, thousands of whom retweeted and responded to it.&nbsp;</p> <p>The image shows the demon &quot;Buer,&quot; a mythological being first named in the 16th-century Latin text&nbsp;<i>Pseudomonarchia Daemonum,&nbsp;</i>meaning&nbsp;<i>False Monarchy of Demons.</i></p> <p>The text is an appendix to a larger work by Johann Weyer that aimed to debunk the idea of demons and witchcraft. As part of this mission, Weyer included an appendix listing out every demon he had heard of being mentioned by the supposed mages and witches. The&nbsp;<i>False Monarchy of Demons</i>&nbsp;contains a purported hierarchy of demons in hell, with these unholy beings ranging in rank from prince to president to king.</p> <p><a title="Encyclopedia of Demons in World Religions and Cultures" href=";pg=PA87&amp;dq=buer+demon&amp;hl=en&amp;sa=X&amp;ved=0ahUKEwig8vvX9v7iAhWWfSsKHYqDDgkQuwUIKzAA#v=onepage&amp;q=buer%20demon&amp;f=false">Buer is described</a>&nbsp;as a &quot;president of the stars&quot; in hell, who commands &quot;over 50 legions of demons&quot;. His abilities include being able to heal the sick and summon familiars as well as teaching philosophy and herbal medicine. Buer is shaped like a wheel and supposedly moves like one.</p> <p>Even without knowing what the image says, the effect was terrifying. However, true horror struck once users were able to translate the Kannada used in the image.</p> <p>The line has the ring of a curse to it, which gives it&nbsp;<a href="" title="Indian horror cinema is moving beyond haunted havelis, courtesy folk stories">an element of horror</a>&nbsp;unlike that of most internet insults which only manage to denigrate the recipient. Frightened internet users soon shared their feelings via reaction images.</p> <p>One user commented on the excessive nature of the curse.</p> <p>Thankfully, the internet has its own remedy for frightening images. For as long as there have been emails, there have been &quot;chainmails&quot; that try to frighten the recipient into doing something by threatening their loved ones. To counter these, the &quot;<a href="">anti-chainmail</a>&quot; was devised — cute pictures that promise immunity to the recipient.</p> <p>Immunity dog was swiftly deployed.</p> <p>Safety turtle was also called to the scene.</p> <p>By virtue of these images, @gusyar_'s safety was somewhat assured. Additionally, a few users argued that Buer could also be a harmless demon who just teaches philosophy. Nevertheless, the need for counter-measures was apparent.</p> <p>The Uno reverse card, purpoted to reverse the direction of play of a card, and presumably, of a magical opponent as well. @gusyar_ seems to have taken this advice.</p> <p>Hopefully, the power of the Uno reverse card will undo the evil curse of the juul-denied Snapchatter. While the origins of the Kannada curse are as yet unknown, it is worth noting that ancient curses <a title="An ode to continuity" href="" target="_blank">are still feared in Karnataka</a>, as the royal Wodeyar family found out.</p> Sun Jun 23 12:55:58 IST 2019 reading-week-2019-this-class-vii-girl-from-kerala-started-a-free-library <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Yashoda D. Shenoy acquired her love for reading after her brother took a membership at a library. She read, voraciously, since she was in class III. The idea to start a free library struck her after she saw her father pay a late fee to a library.<br> </p> <p>Then a little girl, she got upset at the thought of a monthly payment to be able to read, wondering what would happen to those who could not afford it. She felt libraries should be a platform for social service.</p> <p>On Republic Day, 2019, she started “Yashoda’s library” near Paliyarakkavu temple in Kochi’s Mattancherry area, with an inauguration by Dr. K.S. Radhakrishnan. Today, it has 3500 books in total, 110 members and 20 regular customers.</p> <p>“Books are the companions of fraternity” confidently quips the class VII student from the outskirts of Kochi district. I started by reading books such as Balarama, Balabhumi, Twinkle etc and that’s how I was inspired to read more. I got to explore a lot of books when my brother took a membership in a library.”</p> <p>It was Yashoda’s father, Dinesh Shenoy, who gave wings for her little daughter’s dream. The duo started a library with 100 books. Dinesh, an artist, posted an appeal for books on his Facebook, and saw his post swiftly go viral with his friends around the world. It took just a month to collect 2500 books for the library, with many people helping to sponsor the library financially as well.</p> <p>While talking about the people who donated the books, Yashoda recounts a few interesting stories. “There was a foreigner and his wife who came here and spent a long time in the library. Five days later, they came again with their kids and donated a lot of books.” Yashoda also mentioned her father’s friend, Dinesh Mallan, who initially planned to give 10,000 rs, but later bought interesting books with the same money and donated them. “We also have a system of delivering books for the people who can’t walk, which we call as a special membership programme,” Yashoda says.</p> <p>When she is not around, such as during school hours, her brother, mother and grandmother manage the library. Her voice trickled with excitement as she spoke about the people who helped make her dream a reality. “I am thankful to each and every person whom I have come across in this life. There are lot of people who has shown respect to my library, including Kummanam Rajasekharan sir who donated 108 books for me, in front of a big stage, which I still consider as a proud and unforgettable moment, and Jacob Mathews sir (Managing editor, Manorama) who never fails to send books every month.”</p> <p>As a Malayali, she loves reading books in her mother tongue. “Malayalam is a sweet language. I was inspired to love Malayalam only after reading the book named ‘ Kadalippazham, which is a compilation of Kunjunni Maash’s short poems. “She adds that she is proud to be a Malayali, and that everyone from the state should understand the importance of being fluent in their mother tongue. “I am a great fan of Vaikom Muhammed Basheer. His books are my favorite,” she says.</p> <p>To commemorate Reading Day (celebrated on June 19) and the ongoing Reading Week, she quoted the father of Kerala’s library moment, P.N Panicker, who helped bring about the reading revolution that made Kerala a 100 per cent literate state. “<i>Read and grow, think and acquire wisdom,</i>” she said, adding another quote by Kunjunni Mash. [Translated from Malayalam] <i>“Whether you read or not, you will grow up. You will reap if you read, trip if you don't.”</i></p> <p>The Kunjunni quote resonated with her, as she says, “I don’t want any of my friends to trip down in life. I wish all of them to read once a day. A person can only be perfect through their books.”</p> <p>Yashoda dislikes reading online, feeling that the experience lacks the same pleasure that reading a book brings. “When I get a book, I examine the colour, fragrance and the way things are arranged in it. Reading the book will store every bit of information in my mind. Moreover, gifting a book is the most relevant and happiest thing for me. I can never achieve it through an e-book. Books keep people together.”</p> <p><br> <br> </p> <p><br> <br> </p> Sat Jun 22 12:48:23 IST 2019 harry-potter-wizards-unite-will-release-india <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>A new augmented reality (AR) Harry Potter mobile game will release in the United States and United Kingdom today (June 21). Called <i>Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, </i>the game is designed by Niantic Inc., the studio known for the augmented reality (AR) game <i>Pokemon Go!,&nbsp;</i>in association with Portkey Games and Warner Bros. A beta version of the game was released earlier in April and May in New Zealand and Australia.</p> <p>There is no news yet about its release in India, or if it even is a possibility. In 2016, Niantic had partnered with Reliance Jio for the launch of Pokemon Go! in India, offering free downloads of the game on its networks.</p> <p>Eager Harry Potter fans who cannot wait for the game's release in India can download an APK version from the internet. However, since the game is designed to work in certain regions only given the social networking aspect, the resulting gameplay experience will be unstable and riddled with glitches. A trial of the game resulted in it working only until the end of the tutorial mission.</p> <p>Like <i>Pokemon Go</i>, and its spiritual successor, <i>Ingress</i>, <i>Wizards Unite </i>makes good use of AR. Players traverse the real word, collecting spells and potions. The game is centred around protecting the secrecy of the magical world that canonically exists within the muggle (non-wizarding) world. Right at the beginning, it asks us our age, name, email id and character name. You can watch the trailer for the game here.</p> <p>The game starts off with a character called Constance Pickering, who introduces herself as a colleague of Hermione Granger from the Statute of Secrecy task force. She tells us about a ‘calamity’ that has occurred, and that we need to recover lost items to contain it. She then introduces Harry Potter (whose voice actor sounds eerily like Daniel Radcliffe), who is now an Auror (magic cop) at the department of magical law enforcement.</p> <p>Harry teaches us about the ‘magical ME’ map, which shows our position in the real world. He then talks about ‘foundables’ which are the things that are missing from the world. This includes people, things and memories. Next, an icon appears on the screen, which is the physical representation of a ‘trace of magic’. When we tap on the icon, it reveals a finder and we can see Hagrid trapped in web spun by an Acromantula (the huge hairy spider from <i>Chamber of Secrets</i>). Three stars appear on a frozen screen, which we must align with the stars on Hagrid. After this, we can trace a spell action on screen. Those who’ve played <i>Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery</i> and who are members of <i>Pottermore </i>will be familiar with this.</p> <p>Indian fans who want the actual experience of the game can pre-register on Google Play Store or the Samsung Galaxy Store and anxiously wait for the notification that a version compatible with your phone is available for download in your region.</p> <p>THE WEEK has reached out to Niantic for details on its India release. This space will be updated when they reply.</p> Fri Jun 21 11:50:30 IST 2019 renault-new-kid-block-triber <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Laurens Van Den Acker, EVP, Corporate Design, Groupe Renault, had designed his own pair of sneakers, with a famous French brand <i>Le Coq Sportif</i>, that he has colour-coordinated to match the Renault Triber’s launch. “It’s a fun thing. Just enjoying myself doing sneakers,” he says, in conversation with THE WEEK about the design of their latest Triber.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>The paint job on the Renault Triber looks fabulous. Tell us about the this new product</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>This is a very special colour inspired by Indian spices. It’s called honey yellow, a very rich metallic colour which makes the surface come to life. When you make a vehicle that is so spacious inside, you end up with a box outside. The key was: Can we not make it look like a box? Can we give it toughness? Can we give it SUV cues? Can we give it shoulders? Eventhough it is very spacious inside, I think we managed.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Renault cars are known for their rigidity and suspension, among other things. What extra has gone into Triber as compared to what is already on offer?</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>What makes it very special is that there is no competitor in the seven-seater [segment] in the sub-four metre [category]. We didn’t stop there. Inside, you’ll see that, near the instrument panel, we have two very large storage spaces, including the centre of the console, which is also cooled. We have air vents through the back, and we have storage in the third row. Frankly, it is really made for hot climate, and people who choose to bring a lot of stuff.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b><a href="">ALSO READ:&nbsp;Renault Triber makes global debut in India</a></b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>The seats are very good. Not too hard, not too soft, you’ve also used fabric and not opted for leather</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The key is a combination between comfort and good seating support because you need to be held in your place. We tried to make them very thin. This is good for two reasons—for visibility in the rear and the front. It is also good for the usage of space. If we can make them thin, you have a lot more room for your legs. If we make them thin, but we choose the right amount of foam, and also shape the seats around you, then they can become a lot thinner. Thinner doesn’t mean less comfort, you know. It’s just holding you better in your seat.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>There is a lot of cladding on the inside and it gives the impression of being very safe and secure. Could you please tell us about that?</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>I think we all know that the roads in India, being what they are, people love a high driving position, people love high ground clearance. So, it is both robust in appearance and robust from a features point of view. It also gives the car a much tougher stand, and it brings it in an SUV sphere, where we want to put it. We also put in roof bars which are quite nice. The black gives a tough image and we managed to use the roof bars to hide the little bump in the roof that we have, which is there to create more headroom for the rear passengers and room for the vents.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>What is your favourite design flourish in the car?</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>To be honest, I think the interior is a miracle. To have such a flexible, ultra-modular interior in a four-metre package is really a bit of a Leonardo Da Vinci, you know.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Everybody is going in for the darker, black alloys, you have stuck to a subtle silver</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>We want to create a chic appearance for the car. Later, we can do other versions, where we have other colours and limited series. But to start off, we want to highlight the richness of the car and I think, the [black] alloys might not fully show what they’re made of.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Is there any other colour that you’re really excited about?</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In terms of colours we have a very beautiful red, we will have a blue, a white and a silver, some of the classic colours that you see a lot, but I really hope that we’re going to see the honey yellow on the streets a lot here. So many cars are white in India, I think it is time for a little bit of colour.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>What’s next for India?</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>We have something in our pocket, but it is too early to talk about it.</p> Thu Jun 20 21:24:28 IST 2019 Arsenic-and-Old-Lace-in-Hindi-review-All-laughs-in-place <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Seventy-year-old Dheeraj Chand, a retired bank manager in Delhi, is chortling away at the Shri Ram Centre of Performing Arts (SRCPA) as he takes in a scene from the Hindi adaptation of the American play <i>Arsenic and Old Lace</i>. "<i>Ab ek aur budha marega</i> (One more elderly guy will be bumped off)," he proclaims aloud from his seat gleefully. The grandfatherly gentleman, Chand, is comfortably settled in his life with a thriving household—pension, married kids, a doting wife, grandchildren and the works. He has skipped the eagerly-awaited India-Pakistan World Cup match this evening to indulge in his passion for theatre. "I get enough money now to just spend on things I like. I come to Shri Ram every Sunday to watch a play," says Chand. He is not the least unsettled by the central plot premise in the dark comedy—a pair of wacko aunts who knock off lonely old men as a social service to humanity at large. "It is sad there are old people who have to live alone. I am lucky. I have everything with god's grace," he says.</p> <p>Stage classic <i>Arsenic and Old Lace</i>—written by Joseph Kesserling in 1939 and performed on Broadway for the first time in 1941—belongs to the legion of jaded old comedies which might fail to excite a busy drama critic today. It has been endlessly adapted the world over—-on stage, television, radio, schools and colleges. Most theatre aficionados have seen it at least once. But what is it like watching it with an audience peppered with a hearty sprinkling of grizzled old grey-heads? The dark, macabre humour at play suddenly starts to appear delightfully more sinister. It's like aunts cackling with laughter so deep and guttural, they are mocking our foolish concerns, as if you young folks can't swallow the bitter truth.</p> <p>In the play, two spinster aunts from the Brewster family in Brooklyn mix arsenic in the elderberry wine they offer to guests of a typical profile—old men who do not have a family to go back home to. In their warped logic, it constitutes mercy-killing. The sane nephew—a theatre critic and the hero of the play—concocts one bumbling plan after another to save his beloved aunts from being caught while also struggling to come to terms with the shocking truth about his homicidal family which includes a murderer-brother on the run with his accomplice. The best-laid plans are disrupted when this fugitive-brother descends out of nowhere to hide in his estranged family house. When he discovers how his refined old aunts are killing and burying one dead body after another in the basement, he finds the perfect excuse to prolong his stay and bedlam ensues. Typical example of a "poison-in-jest" comedy.</p> <p>In this Hindi production of SRCPA, directed by Nayana Sagar and shown as the concluding play of their Summer Theatre Festival, the scene shifts to Vasai near Mumbai with the strain of madness running in the D'Silva family. Aunt Martha and Rosa have already knocked off 12 old gentlemen who came calling, looking for rental accommodation. The aunts employ a schizophrenic nephew, Alfie, who thinks he is Hitler and who can only be convinced of burying the victims once he is told they were Jews gassed at Auschwitz. And then there is Bobby, the reluctant drama critic, and Jonathan, the murderous brother with a cosmetic surgeon doctor as accomplice. Performances are average at best, but on the whole the play works with one madcap twist after another which is bound to regale a first-time viewer of <i>Arsenic and Old Lace</i>. There is old-school comfort and grace in a simulated drawing-room on stage and there are a few sharp performances by the likes of Jonathan, Aunt Martha and the hapless doctor. Performed for the sixth time, there are repeats of SRCPA's Hindi <i>Arsenic and Old Lace</i> lined up the next few months.</p> <p>For Sagar, there are no criminals or innocents, only intriguing characters. Her job is to present the story as the author had visualised it and let the audience take what is relevant to them. According to her, the play operates on the principle of what in German theatre is called schadenfreude, which is pleasure derived from someone's pain. "It is one of the darkest comedies I have seen. A guy is struggling to come to terms with the criminality of his aunts. But the way he goes about trying to preserve that innocent space where the aunts tell him 'this is god's work for us. It is social work'. That innocent space in which they are existing, he understands that and he doesn't want to disturb it. That is the commendable, redeeming aspect of the story. It is his care and affection for the old ladies," says Sagar.&nbsp;</p> Thu Jun 20 22:31:32 IST 2019 this-yoga-day-kick-back-with-wholesome-yoga-prose <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>It is the stretching season of the summer, literally. Come June 21, Yoga will go beyond pose to embrace prose. Each year, apart from a sea of enthusiastic foreigners bending over to form the downward dog pose, Yoga Day brings with it fresh literary content to devour.<br> </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Devdutt Pattanaik, who has emerged India's most popular mythologist, has turned his attention to yoga. In a wonderfully produced book, Pattanaik and co-writer Matthew Rulli, a former US Marine who is now a certified yoga teacher, elaborates on the story of 64 asanas. So, for those who wonder where the <i>hamsa</i> asana got its name, you can dive right in. Even if it proves impossible for you to perform “the elegant arm-balance pose''—balancing your body with your feet crossed over on your wrists—at the next yoga class, you can certainly pontificate on <i>hamsa</i> and its place in mythology, from Buddhist, to Hindu and the Jataka tales. &quot;The <i>hamsa</i> is closely associated with the breathing practices found in yoga. The sound 'hum' involves exhalation and the sound 'so' involving inhalation, and thus <i>hamsa</i> indicates expiration and inspiration. It is said the swan/goose was created from the breath of Brahma,'' writes Pattanaik.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The book, which has been published by <i>HarperCollins India</i>, is &quot;the very first book of its kind'', claims Udyanan Mitra, HarperCollins India. “It makes for fascinating reading, and I know it will be of interest for many readers both in India and abroad,'' he says.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>While there was always an interest in yoga books, the B.K. Iyenger book is still the Bible for most yoga enthusiasts. And, every publisher has one. If HarperCollins India has a philosophical take on Yoga, Westland brought out a more practical option. Mickey Mehta, health guru, chose yoga to get back in shape. His book <i>Lose Weight, Gain Shape</i>&nbsp;will be out, hoping to cash in on this rage. “Yoga helps build character,” says Mehta. “If there is one history of wellness, there is one fad and one future trend of wellness. It is yoga.” He is not alone in thinking that.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“People are more excited,” admits Bijoylaxmi Hota, a well-known yoga therapist. Hota, who has even travelled to Mizoram to help train the police, which generated a controversy, believes that the “brain washing” that has happened with the Yoga Day has helped get people to try it more. “It earlier didn't touch people's lives. Now, you hear about it everywhere. It is a bit like brain washing and people want to try it.''</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Hota's new book <i>Yoga and Diet for Weight Loss</i> –brought out by Rupa Publications—promises to break all slimming and weight loss myths. A firm believer in yoga, Hota believes it is a one-stop-solution for all issues. From headaches to high blood pressure, which she says will be cured in three days. Diabetes, she claims, takes longer. &quot;Two three weeks,'' she asserts. But, yoga is what everyone needs.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Those who can't do, read. For those who do want to do, there is celebrity and writer Ira Trivedi's yoga app. Titled IraYoga, the app is at the moment only open to companies, but will soon be open to individuals. Trivedi, who has written a book, believes that the International Yoga Day has helped boost the image of yoga. “Earlier, it was seen as something our grandparents did,” she says. “It was meant for sick people. Like Tai Chi was seen in China. It was un-sexy.”&nbsp;</p> Wed Jun 19 21:07:03 IST 2019 these-music-festivals-are-setting-the-stage-for-green-practices <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>With numerous exciting music and arts festivals being conducted year-round, it is not easy for these events to stand out and be taken note of. A few music festivals in recent times, however, are thinking out of the box—taking to unique initiatives that <a title="" href="" target="_blank">revolve around sustainability</a> and waste management that are very much the need of the hour.</p> <p>The <b>Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival</b>, that takes place annually in Manchester, Tennessee in the United States, positively outdid itself this year. With Post Malone, Childish Gambino, Bishop Briggs, The Lumineers and India’s very own Anoushka Shankar having been included in the 2019 grand line-up, it was definitely an event many looked forward to. From June 13 to 16, festival-goers, in addition to seeing their favourite artists live, were provided with the chance to participate in several activities such as a Pride parade (in honour of Pride Month) along with other themed parades, yoga classes, costumed races, as well as the opportunity to rest their tired feet at their pick of numerous relaxation stations.</p> <p>Bonnaroo, originally introduced in 2002, has become a haven for music enthusiasts who crave a few days of relaxation and fun. Though it took time, the festival has managed to find its own place among the crowd – to bring in initiatives that set itself apart from its competition. And one of these initiatives is to promote environmentally conscious behaviour among its festival-goers and to organise sustainability drives within the venue of the event.</p> <p>The Clean Vibes’ Trading Post they set up allowed attendees to exchange the bottles and cans they collected for festival gear, camping essentials, T-shirts and other commodities thereby reducing waste and also leaving the customers happy with their purchases. Those inside the venue were further encouraged to sort out their trash and do away with them in garbage bins that are marked with ‘Recycle’, ‘Landfill’ and ‘Compost’ for the ease of users. In addition to this, they were urged to refill their water bottles instead of throwing them away after a one-time use.</p> <p>Bonnaroo, in a bid to make people self-sufficient, provided guests with the opportunity to learn how to grow their own food at the Learning Garden where they were privy to hands-on training from farmers and volunteers. The festival had also teamed up with several organisations like 4ocean, Rael, Uber and Bacardi as well as Non-Profits like Eat for Equity, Headcount, One, Oxfam and many more. One dollar from every ticket purchased went towards sponsoring their green initiatives.</p> <p>Another one of its kind, the <b>Firefly Music Festival,</b> which began in 2012, will take place at The Woodlands of Dover International Speedway in Dover, Delaware in the US. The festival, which is set to span over three days starting June 21, includes artists like Panic! at the Disco, Zedd, Kygo, Travis Scott, Gucci Mane and X Ambassadors among other notable musicians. Fans will be allowed early entry from June 20, with areas available for them to set up tents in The Woodlands. For people who are not avid fans of the outdoors, they have partnered up with Hotels for Hope to provide hotel accommodations in and around the city, and in doing so to donate $2 per room to non-profit organisations.</p> <p>Firefly has taken the initiative to establish a Trading Post as well. Guests will be given empty recycling and trash bags on their way into the venue, and are encouraged to collect the trash they generate throughout the weekend. The bags are to be disposed at the edge of the road for the cleaning crew to pick up. Including guests in their clean-up initiatives will create a more inclusive environment and persuade them to think twice before littering. Teaming up with Conscious Alliance, they are also organising a Food Drive inviting donations of non-perishable food items like canned or packaged food. Keeping in mind dietary requirements, they compel people to donate health-oriented and organic food products.</p> <p>The <b>Glastonbury Festival of Contemporary Performing Arts</b> in the UK, established in 1970, has been conducted for 48 years almost annually except for a few fallow years (which are intended to give the land, local residents and the organisers a break) in between. 2018 having been a fallow year, the festival is all set to make its return this year from June 26 – 30. With George Ezra, Bastille, Hozier, Snow Patrol, Billie Eilish, Aurora, Janet Jackson, Carrie Underwood and Tom Walker among the artists performing, fans are going to have a tough time choosing which stage to attend. The performers are not, however, the most noteworthy aspect of the festival.</p> <p>Glastonbury has partnered with Oxfam (who also partnered with Bonnaroo), Greenpeace and WaterAid to promote their causes. The festival, located in Somerset, England, has also banned the sale of single-use plastic bottles, urging guests to refill their bottles at the water coolers installed at every corner within the venue. The organisations have also extended invitations to festival-goers to be volunteers and to take part in their activities.</p> <p>The festival, nearly at its golden jubilee, has also joined hands with charities that pick litter to raise funds for various causes. Kiota, one among said charities, has been working with the Glastonbury team since 2004—sorting and recycling trash as well as raising funds to educate young girls and provide clean drinking water to those in need. The Bhopal Medical Appeal also works closely with the festival to raise funds to establish clinics for the survivors of the 1984 gas tragedy that offer healthcare free of charge. Glastonbury works together with the Small Steps Project and SOS Africa as well for the education and development of underprivileged children, providing them with opportunities to learn, to grow, to live.</p> <p><b>Indian 'green' fests</b></p> <p>Initiatives such as these have also been carried out in the Indian music festival scene as well. The<b> Storm Music Festival</b> (last conducted in 2016) was started with a vision— to bring people closer to nature by spreading environmental awareness through music. With a strict ban on plastic and drugs (the festival stands for “responsible enjoyment”), the only high that festival-goers are allowed is the one they get off music. India’s best camp-out festival, Storm provided ample space for guests to set up their tents—close enough to the stage to enjoy the music yet far enough to lie down in comfort. Ecological walks and yoga sessions are also part of the package, imploring guests to reconnect with their natural surroundings.</p> <p>Another festival undertaking similar initiatives, the <b>Echoes of Earth Festival</b> calls itself “India’s greenest music festival” and it definitely lives up to its name—with stages and signs constructed with recycled materials and metal frames, even using biodegradable paint. Conducted every December in Bengaluru, the festival does its best to translate its message into the work it does. A no-plastic zone, it urges its festival-goers to bring their own water bottles – thus reducing the use of harmful materials. The cutlery used is 100 per cent biodegradable, and the signs posted around the festival (made with recycled wood and biodegradable paints) are reused each year as much as possible.</p> <p>The wastes generated at the venue are taken care of in the best way possible, with the trash segregated and recycled. They also set up workshops on waste management, solar power, and zero waste including DIY projects to help eliminate the consumption of detrimental substances, thus, educating people on sustainable lifestyles, prompting them to change their lives for the better. They managed to construct a fully solar-powered stage in 2017, and a solar-powered charging station the very next year. When asked about any similar schemes for 2019, Koel, a representative of the Echoes team, said: “For our fourth edition, you will see our solar power extended to our RO filtered water stations and flea market.”</p> <p>Echoes of Earth does not limit their efforts of sustainability to the festival itself. Koel told THE WEEK that they focus on engaging their audiences through activities revolving around sustainability through a six-month pre-event campaign. “As part of this campaign, Echoes hosts community-based workshops, exhibits around the theme, sapling drives, etc. to create awareness – making our campaigns more than just festival promotions.”</p> <p>The three beautiful stages erected at the festival are designed with the help of recycled cloth and metal frames paired with lights add to the charm of the festival. The stages have so far been constructed in the shape of animals, insects or created in the name of a particular heritage or culture. 2018 had the theme “Wonders of the Deep” which when translated into the art installations and the stages presented a vivid visual experience that was hard to forget. Having imbibed the idea from India hosting UN’s World Environment Day last year with the theme <a title="Earth Day 2018: Going green, combating plastic pollution and more" href="" target="_blank">“Beat Plastic Pollution</a>”, Echoes “felt it was important to adapt this theme into our festival and celebrate our beautiful sea creatures,” said Koel.</p> <p>When asked about this year’s theme, all she said was “we have put together a very exciting and diverse line-up and interesting theme.”</p> <p>With the team itself pumped up for this year’s edition, festival-goers will surely be anticipating what is to come.</p> <p>Echoes of Earth allows guests to immerse themselves in nature, and tune into their surroundings. In a world where one barely has the time to stop and look around, the festival provides a welcome distraction from the hubbub of everyday life.</p> Wed Jun 19 14:37:13 IST 2019 Jillian-Haslam-and-the-indomitable-spirit-of-resilience <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>UK-based motivational speaker, author, trainer and philanthropist Jillian Haslam may now have a lovely house, cars and companies in her name. But carving out this life for herself required unfathomable courage and persistence in the face of crippling poverty. The 49-year-old was born to British parents who did not want to leave Calcutta after Independence in 1947, and paid a price for their attachment to the city with malnutrition, death and disease. Living under the staircase of a house in Calcutta, in a tiny space infested by rats and insects, where children relieved themselves and a merciless house owner bombarded her mother with lashings in lieu of domestic work, is just one of the many gut-wrenching anecdotes about her difficult childhood which is much written about.</p> <p>Fifth of 12 siblings—many of whom could not survive their severely constrained circumstances and were put in tea-leaf boxes as coffins for burial—Jillian grew up in the slums of Kidderpore, until she moved out of Calcutta at 17 years of age when she got a job in Delhi and worked her way through the ranks of the banking world to become a millionaire. It is, of course, a story made for the big-screen. Haslam will now join forces with filmmaker Jack Sholder and screenwriter Joshua Russell to develop her book 'Indian. English' into a Hollywood film.</p> <p>In an interview with THE WEEK, Haslam touchingly reveals how her one last dream is to go back to that little room in Kidderpore and live there for the rest of her life, and why in order to get what you want, you have to learn to give.</p> <p><b>You've been a regular to Kolkata all these years. But when you revisited some of the sites from your early childhood for a pre-production recce for the upcoming film, how much of an emotional minefield it was to retrace those landscapes which surely must have completely changed?</b></p> <p>I left India in the year 2000, since then, I have visited the country and Kolkata in particular at least three to four times a year and on each occasion, I have never failed to revisit all of these sites or places and this isn’t because the locations are still very much the same to this day but for the people who are very close to my heart and will always be. The modi who gave us rice, dal, sugar, oil and so much more on a daily basis, the <i>panwalla</i> who gave us eggs, bread and sweets etc., the vegetable woman who gave us all the leftover almost every day, the tea shop owner who gave me milk that saved the life of my sister, the pharmacy who gave me medicine when she was burnt and who gave us so much more whenever any of us were ill, our neighbours who are from Orissa but who played with us in the lanes, gave us food, watched over us, fought with us and yet loved us so much. There is no way in which we could ever express our gratitude to these people who literally had noting to give and yet they gave it all, for saving our lives and accepting us as their very own. The only way to really and truly show that you care, is to prove it and by that I mean that you never lose contact with them, you always make time to visit them and bring them little gifts, you remember their kids and most importantly for your own spirituality, genuine well-being and peace of mind; you remember where you came from at all times. This keeps you grounded and helps you to remember that gratitude and giving back is what truly gets you to where you want be in life.</p> <p><b>What are some of the textual aspects from your book which might prove most challenging to translate on screen?</b></p> <p>It is going to prove extremely difficult to shoot in Kidderpore or under the steps etc., given how small the surrounding area is. There is an entire production team that will need to be accommodated and many, many more crew members... but we have decided that as far as possible, most of the shooting will take place in Kolkata. This has been my one request to decision makers and they all seem to be in absolute agreement. In terms of scenes, the bathroom in which I was locked in as a child (with hundreds of cockroaches), has since been rebuilt, but they have looked at many similar toilets in the area and will build something close to what they have seen. The place under the steps seemed much smaller than the image that is on the cover of my book... Every chapter and every story is extremely cinematic and that it is going to be every star's dream to play any role given to them.</p> <p><b>Who is expected to play your character in the film? What will dictate the choice of the actor?</b></p> <p>There has been a tremendous amount of speculation but as far as I know there was talk about Angelina Jolie playing the role, since she was highly charitable and could understand the character immediately. Kate Winslet because she is just superb when it comes to playing such roles, and being British may fit right into the part of Jillian as an adult. Julia Styles because she looks a bit like me and a few others but I think what the director and producer have decided to do is to first get the script to be the very best, to then get the help of professionals to come up with a perfect title and then to get a casting agency</p> <p><b>How have you reconfigured your relationship with Kolkata today? What are some of things about Calcutta you miss from the time you lived there?</b></p> <p>Reconfigured is a very strong and yet completely incorrect term when it comes to my personal relationship with the city. I may have left in person but my heart has always remained in the city of my birth. I am a Kolkata girl and I never fail to mention this in all of my interviews or speeches. I wake up every morning at 4 am and take classes on zoom, training girls from here in the UK, I work with all of my teams on a daily and in fact, on an hourly basis on various programmes, events, issues and progress. We have four food banks for the aged, study centers for kids, tailoring, beautician and secretarial schools for young girls. We also have a special Mother Teresa project running after I received the Mother Teresa International Memorial Award. Hence, I live here but my spirit is very much there. I have spoken at most schools there and universities and I do all I can to give back to the city I love with all my heart. My one last dream in life is to go back to the little room in Kidderpore and live there for the rest of my life. I do need all the houses we have or the cars or material goods that we have acquired over the years. I am only making the movie with one intention and that is to help people who are in desperate need. I work every moment trying to reach out to as many people as I can only because I understand the destruction and the harm that poverty can do to individuals and to families alike. Nothing matters in the end and no Hollywood movie will mean anything if we are unable to alleviate some of the sadness and desperation that exists.</p> <p><b>What are your views on the political changes sweeping Kolkata today, with right-wing populism roiling West Bengal? Has it affected your work there in any way?</b></p> <p>All my work, both educational and charity, are targeted at the underprivileged in society who will continue to need support irrespective of the political inclinations of whichever party is in power. My organisation is firmly non-political and all we seek is the freedom to carry on with our work helping the people wherever we operate.</p> Tue Jun 18 17:50:37 IST 2019 viet-nom-a-gastronomic-haven <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>When celebrated chef Anthony Bourdain and then US President Barack Obama casually shared a round of beer and Bún chả in a working-class restaurant in Hanoi in 2016, the world noticed how no-fuss Vietnamese food can be cool and classy just like the two men heartily digging into the six-dollar meal.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The street-smart grilled pork-and-noodle dish, Bún chả, is yet to feature in the menu of Viet-Nom—the latest entrant in Delhi-NCR's rather competitive pan-Asian dining scene. But this brand new restaurant and cocktail bar at DLF Cyber Hub more than makes up for it with an exciting array of smartly done, wholesome bowls assembled from across one of South-East Asia's most exciting gastronomic havens. From bánh mì, pho and sticky rice dumplings to signature dishes like Vietnamese stewed beef (Bo Kho), lemongrass pork skewers (Banh hoi thit nuong),and pancake filled with shrimp and pork (Banh xeo), Viet-Nom packs enough punch and promise to make you want an encore next week.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Viet-Nom is the brainchild of Manish Sharma, a seasoned restaurateur with popular outposts like Molecule and Drunken Botanist under his belt. Viet-Nom marks his foray into premium dining with a specific cuisine, offering a deep dive into the breathtaking culinary history of Vietnam. The menu reflects the extensive journey of food critic Rupali Dean and chef Vaibhav Bhargava across the country where they experimented with eclectic flavours and dishes, from tempura-battered catfish, cassava salad to prawns with garlic sauce, apart from the regulation soup, rice, grilled or steamed meats, vegetable dishes, fresh fruits and salads.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Their refreshing summer rolls in tantalizingly translucent rice paper sheathe seasonal goodness; special shout out to the simple vegetable roll which wraps in coconut mayonnaise, market vegetables, vermicelli noodles, lettuce, avocado, herbs, arugula, mango and peanut sauce. The salmon and avocado is another cool variant in the category. The white rose tim sam is a must try as these soft steamed rice flour dumplings, filled with ground mung beans, crumble in the mouth with a subtle grainy rush. The much-touted char-grilled pork ribs, flavoured in five spice and sesame, is succulent although a bit too oversauced. Other interesting additions include Banh cuon which is made from a thin, white sheet of steamed fermented rice batter and filled with cooked seasoned ground pork, minced wood ear mushrooms, minced shallots, and accompanied by cha lua (Vietnamese pork sausages), sliced cucumber, beansprouts and fish sauce called nuoc Cham. As a fun diversion, don't forget to try their version of crispy pancake served with star fruit and green banana apart from the Vietnamese pizza which has rice crackers topped with egg, pork chorizo, dried shrimps and spring onion. Mains cannot overlook cha ca Hanoi and Vietnamese salman.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>With its non-pretentious plating, a chirpy, joyful interior, and a bar counter briskly tossing out cocktails with colourful flora and funky garnishes, Viet-Nom has a feel-good tropicana vibe which doesn't veer away from offering a hearty, decently affordable meal for a gathering of friends and family. The missing Bún chả, waiting in the wings, will complete the picture.</p> Mon Jun 17 15:50:29 IST 2019 a-book-of-travel-sketches-spanning-10-countries <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>How bored are you of seeing airbrushed photographs of exotic, foreign locations rendered lifelessly on glossy magazines? This is exactly what advertising professional Viswaprasad Raju sought to rectify in his travelogue&nbsp;<i>Via Pen and Ink</i>, in which he collated<b>&nbsp;</b>travel sketches spanning 10 countries.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>From the national parks of Central India to southeast Asian cities; from Cape Town to Oxford; from Hyderabad to Dubai, the book tries to capture the moments, landmarks and people. Most of the works, he says, were drawn on location, with the sketches offering a very human perspective of the places he has been to. “This enables the reader to take a welcome break from the photography-led imagery of today's times,” he says.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In the book, the author sketches images of penguins and ostriches from South Africa, the city of spires that is Oxford, the cobbled pathways of Switzerland, of peacocks, birds, jungle huts and faces that quintessentially capture a geography's soul.</p> Thu Jun 13 21:44:14 IST 2019 OPINION-You-cannot-tweet-faster-than-a-bullet-prashant-kanojia <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Gone are the days when journalists would brunch with the prime ministers of the country. Cartoonist Shankar was often invited to breakfast with Jawaharlal Nehru. The former prime minister is reported to have told the cartoonist once, “Don’t spare me Shankar”. The trend seems to have undergone a major shift as actors seem to have take up the duties of journalists and are invited to ask questions about the prime minister’s fruit intake instead!</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The world is becoming a precarious place for journalists, especially for independent journalists. The recent arrest of journalist Prashant Kanojia over an alleged defamatory tweet against Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath is just one of the many instances that point to a larger picture of intolerance among the political classes. And this, is in no way limited to India. Russian journalist Ivan Golunov’s detention on dubious drug charges, and the Internet blackout in Sudan are both recent indicators of governments actively trying to curtail the freedom of speech.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b><a title="Editors Guild condemns the arrest of journalist Kanojia" href="">ALSO READ:&nbsp;Editors Guild condemns the arrest of journalist Kanojia</a></b></p> <p><br> Freedom House, a US-based think tank, released a report on June 4, titled <i>Freedom and the Media 2019: A Downward Spiral</i>. It is a collection of four essays all pointing to the death of journalistic freedom. In her key findings, senior director for research and analysis Sarah Repucci expresses both grief as well as hope.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>She states that threats to freedom of press are concerning in their own right, and their influence on the state of democracy is what makes them truly dangerous. However, light can be found even in the darkest of times. Repucci states that even after long periods of repression, press freedom can always make a comeback, as “the basic desire for democratic liberties, including access to honest and fact-based journalism, can never be extinguished”.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>This very hope was echoed on Monday, June 10, when journalists gathered at the Press Club of India in Delhi and organised a ‘Protest March’ to Parliament, demonstrating their support for Prashant Kanojia. Today, <a title="Blow to Yogi govt: SC grants bail to journalist Prashant Kanojia" href="">the Supreme Court has ordered his release</a>, stating that it is an “endorsement of his personal liberty”.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>India is replete with instances of suppressing journalists using legal as well as extralegal tools. Be it censorship, trumped up charges of defamation, unfair tax investigations or even name calling by using terms like ‘presstitutes’—coined by Retd. General V.K. Singh—when he was the MoS for External Affairs.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><a name="_GoBack" id="_GoBack"></a>The relegation from the ‘fourth pillar of democracy’ to ‘presstitues’ is an indication of the worrisome state of Indian media. This was reflected in the Reporters Without Border’s (RSF) World Press Freedom Index where India slipped to a rank of 140 of the 180 countries included in the list.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The RSF’s report on India states that at least six Indian journalists were killed in 2018 in connection with their work. Their murders highlight the threats faced by these journalists, especially those working in non-English language media outlets in rural areas. It also states that during the run-up to the 2019 general elections, attacks against journalists by supporters of Prime Minister Narendra Modi increased. There were coordinated hate campaigns against journalists who spoke on subjects that angered Hindutva followers.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Supreme Court, last year, had said that ‘Dissent is the safety valve of democracy’. If this is indeed true, we are certainly heading towards a Big Bang-esque explosion.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author's and do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of THE WEEK.</b></p> Tue Jun 11 21:20:59 IST 2019 girish-karnad-the-prophet-from-south <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Noted theatre and literary icon <a href="">Girish Karnad died</a> on Monday at his Bengaluru residence at the age of 81. He was a scholar, theatre personality, an actor and director in a career spanning over five decades. A brilliant student who graduated in mathematics but chose arts as his playing field, Karnad wrote his first play <i>Yayati</i> at 23 in 1961.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>He was a known critic of <a href="">Prime Minister Narendra Modi</a> and was among the <a href="">600 theatre personalities</a> who had signed a letter ahead of the Lok Sabha polls asking people to &quot;vote BJP and its allies&quot; out of power, arguing that the idea of India and its Constitution were under threat. He also led protests after the <a href="">murder of journalist-activist Gauri Lankesh</a>.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Karnad was known to be a reserved person. However, meetings with him were always heart-warming, recalls <a href="">Kavitha Lankesh, sister of Gauri</a>. ‘’He would give me a hug whenever we met.’’ Like his contemporaries, Lankesh, U.R. Ananthamurthy and Poornachandra Tejaswi, Karnad strived for the betterment of society through his writings. “They would look forward to each other’s writings and critique and discuss them in detail,” says Kavitha, who is also a film director, screenwriter and lyricist. “The society was much more democratic and secular then,” she says. Karnad acted in <i>Tananam Tananam</i>, a film directed by Kavitha.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“Karnad is arguably the greatest playwright produced by India since Independence. His work will live long after him,” says <a href="">Ramachandra Guha, renowned Indian historian</a> and writer. “He was interested in myths and popular culture. That is what made his works truly special,” he says.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Karnad was also interested in the fine arts.&nbsp;<a href="">Veteran artist S.G. Vasudev</a> still has vivid memories of Karnad’s works that were on display at Ranga Shankara in Bengaluru. “His paintings looked promising. However he didn’t pursue that,” says Vasudev, who knew Karnad for 56 years. Karnad would often frequent Cholamandala, an artists’ village in Chennai. It was Karnad who introduced Vasudev to poet D.R. Bendre. Vasudev’s much celebrated work in copper <i style="font-size: 0.8125rem;">Kalpavriksha Vrindavana</i> was inspired by one of Bendre’s poems. Karnad loved music and tabla and would accompany Vasudev to Carnatic music concerts in Chennai. Grief overpowers Vasudev as he recalls memories of the young man who came all the way to Bengaluru to attend his marriage with his late wife Arnavaz. ‘’During the ceremony, the girl’s brother had to come forward and perform some rituals. Arnavaz didn’t have a brother and so Karnad volunteered to do it,’’ says Vasudev.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>He and theatre great Ebrahim Alkazi influenced each other to a great extent. It was at Alkazi's home that Karnad was first introduced to mythology through a Hindi adaptation of Greek tragedy <i>Antigone</i> by Jean Anouilh. <i>Tughlaq</i>, his play about the impatient but <a href="">idealist Muhammad bin Tughluq</a>, the 14th century Sultan of Delhi, is considered his most famous stage work. It is considered relevant even today for its portrayal about the dangers of authoritarianism.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Karnad's other famous plays include <i>Hayavadana,</i> <i>Angumalige</i>, <i>Hittina Hunja</i>, <i>Naga-Mandala</i>, <i>Tale-Danda</i>, <i>Agni Mattu Male</i> and <i>The Dreams of Tipu Sultan</i>. He was given Jnanpith Award, the highest literary recognition in India, in 1998.&nbsp;In his works, Karnad deciphered the tortured soul of India like nobody before him. His <i>Hayavadana</i> was a case in point. The story around Devadatta, a weak-bodied but highly learned Brahmin scholar, and Kapila, a physically imperious warrior. Both are close friends and they fall for the same woman Padmini, who grows torn in her affections for the two. As events progress, Devadatta and Kapila kill themselves. Goddess Kali grants Padmini a boon to bring them back to life, but the latter accidentally switches the heads of the duo while reattaching them to the body. In a way, the story peripherally reflects that oldest of human conditions—the ultimate quest for perfection and completion. An element of the 'Ship of Theseus' paradox (When different parts of an object are replaced, does the object change or remain the same?) becomes a recurring theme many of his works—both original and adapted. In <i>Hayavadana</i>, the question is posed: Where does a man's essence lie? In his soul or his body? And, for a newly liberated country, does its essence—the past, present and future—lie in the framework of its existence (the Constitution) or the volatile mandate that rises from within the constraints of those pillars.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In the film&nbsp;<i>Samskara</i>, a U.R. Ananthamurthy adaptation, the life of once-devout Praneshacharya unravels in the aftermath of the death of the iconoclastic Narayanappa. The question comes: Can a Brahmin remain a Brahmin if he eats meat, consorts with a lower class woman and catches fish from a temple pond? In <i>Tughlaq</i>, he asks: how far can idealism be stretched within the boundaries of idealism if each step it takes is awash with the blood of millions. Sadly, the play is often reduced to a mere critique of Nehruvianism.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Karnad leaves his audience with no answers, no relief, and no comforting prophecies of a virtuous future. In <i>Hayavadana</i>, after their bodies are switched, Padmini enjoys a brief moment of bliss with the soul and body respectively of the men whom she loved. But, just as the eponymous half-man, half-horse desperately wishing to transform into a human, before finding ultimate peace in existence as a horse, perhaps completion ultimately is where the pendulum finds its centre of rest.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>(With PTI inputs)</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Mon Jun 10 21:26:58 IST 2019 Remembering-Stonewall-riots-a-landmark-event-in-LGBTQ-movement <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Across the world, groups part of the gay rights movement are in joyous pangs of yet another queer pride month. India has a reason to be all the more happy owing to the Supreme Court decriminalising same-sex relationships in November last year, as do queer groups elsewhere. Taiwan's parliament approving a bill toward 'same-sex marriages' made it the first country in Asia to do so.</p> <p>In the wake of these landmark moves, let us take a look at the pride parades and processions that have been happening. India, in its youth, has found activists who are willing to rally and holler slogans for the issue in cities big and small, while fighting for gender equality.</p> <p>The year 2019 holds its significance in the calendar as it marks the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, the very first uprising of queer people against oppressive forces.</p> <p>Although Stonewall was not the first-ever act of activism, it was the event which led to the formation of the first (of many) <a title="A cold, hard look at the battles ahead for India’s LGBT community" href="">gay liberation groups</a> in the United States. Many stand-alone events of transgender and gay activism happened before Stonewall, like the Compton Cafeteria Riot of1966, or the protests by the group Mattachine society, an LGBT political outfit. But none of them blew up like the Stonewall did.</p> <p>The Stonewall riots, as it is called, was inherently an uprising where a crowd of two or three hundred took to resistance. The Stonewall Inn, where it all happened, was from where the event took its name. Set at a time when queer people were loathed by everyone alike, the events at this gay bar in one of New York city's prominent gay ghettos of Greenwich Village is very relevant due to its scale and the spontaneity of the events that went down.</p> <p>When on the morning of June 28, 1969, the police turned up at their doors without notice and lined up drag-queens and patrons, nobody thought it was going to be a sleepless night. Police raids were not an uncommon affair, and besides, the mafia-controlled Stonewall Inn would be notified of any as the cops were on their payroll.</p> <p>What then triggered the protests? While police units rounded up drag-queens and patrons inside the bar, they may have taunted a few or even made advances towards a few lesbian women. Meanwhile, outside the Inn more and more people were crowding up. One of the women, Storme De Larverie, who came out of the inn, shouted, “Why don't y' all do something?”</p> <p>The Stonewall event cannot be called a riot as such, a patron who was present there puts it better. It can be more appropriately called a rebellion. Not the 'overthrow the state' kind of rebellion, but more like a rebellion from within, he said.</p> <p>While there may be many accounts of what could have been the trigger, the Stonewall sure was not a "cheering and dancing" party that went all berserk. Historians confirm how relevant its scale was. Not only the people who got rounded up but also the crowd that gathered outside the inn took to the streets while the police waited for support.</p> <p>As historian David Carter puts it, "It was totally spontaneous and this spontaneity gives it its power, its beauty." Carter is a witness to the event and later went on to write a book about the same.</p> <p>In a bid to get back at the cops, they would even go on to raise slogans which went like this: "We are the Stonewall girls, we wear our hair in curls, we don't wear underwear, to show our pubic hair."</p> <p>While taunts like these were recorded at the rebellion which spanned nearly a week, it hardly yielded any desired results. It took a year from the Stonewall Inn event for things to actually get some direction. But the Stonewall uprising did indeed inspire the LGBT movement. And exactly a year after the Stonewall went down (on June 28, 1969), New York city saw the Christopher Street Liberation Day, generally considered the first pride parade in history.</p> <p>Stonewall riots saw scores of the then New York city's <a title="Hindu texts speak of equality for all, including the queer, in the eyes of the divine" href="">most marginalised</a> rallying for the liberation of the queer. It had drag-queens, transgenders, and homeless queer youngsters demonstrating against the police's long standing history of use of force against the gay community.</p> <p>Stonewall protests have come a long way from breaking gender stereotypes to challenging authorities to rewrite laws and policies. With liberation in mind and objectivity at heart, gay pride parades in India will soon follow suit in invoking the marvel of the Stonewall.</p> <p>While the <a title="Birds of a feather" href="">pride month in India</a> commenced with Pune's ninth Pride Parade on Sunday, the country needs to look at legalising most spheres of the constitution which can hold back the rights of the queer population.</p> <p>Pride parades have garnered more support and attendance in India ever since the November 2018 Supreme Court ruling. But looking ahead, what needs further doing is the <a title="After the historic Section 377 judgment, the next step should be the right to wed" href="">right to same-sex marriages</a>. Amongst the many freedoms the queer community should have in common with the heterosexual population, same-sex marriages must be the next in line. There was an increased attendance at the Pride Parade in Pune this year, but what is more significant is the fact that fewer faces were covered this time.</p> Fri Jun 07 21:42:52 IST 2019 how-this-kerala-company-trains-differently-abled-for-mainstream- <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Manu’s mother would be thrilled each year to see her son's photo in the newspaper every time he won awards or medals for his clay models and sometimes, for his sketches. “We are poor people, we did not even have place to keep all his trophies,” she recounts.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>It did not help that Manu was afraid to even step outside his house. For a hearing-impaired boy who could not even communicate with his own mother, the world was a cruel and dangerous place.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>But, for a family that relies on daily wages, medals were not enough. Manu needed work, and to find it, he took up a course in designing gold ornaments. It lasted three months, but he was unable to find a job. He finally found work, far away from home, at “the airport”, where he worked for six months under difficult conditions.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>When his parents came to Oorjja, a Kerala-based organisation whose aim is to bring the differently abled into mainstream career, the reality of Manu’s job was not yet known. As Oorjja founder S.S. Jayasankar tells THE WEEK, the fact that the boy worked at the airport suggested that he was already in the mainstream. However, Manu's inability to communicate had led to a mix-up—it turned out that he had worked at a hotel in the airport, not with the airport itself. The long hours, difficult working conditions, and unfamiliarity made him deeply unhappy. But with few other avenues to make a living, he faced the same situation that millions of India’s differently abled do—a scarcity of opportunity.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Figures on India’s differently abled are not entirely known. The National Association for the Deaf estimates 18 million are hearing-impaired in India; the ‘2016 Disabled Persons in India: A Statistical Profile’ national sample survey estimated 5.07 million. But numbers are not as effective as data, which the 2012 Manual on Disability Statistics describes as “numbers in context”.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Data on the total disabled demographic in India suggests that only a third of them of them are employed (36 per cent), with nearly twice as many men than women (47 per cent vs 23 per cent) having jobs. A 2011 International Labour Organisation (ILO) report found that 73.6 per cent of India’s disabled are outside the labour force. If the disabled already have problems, unemployment and gender disparities compound them.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Semantics on the disabled suggests that the word itself—‘disabled’—marks them out for a life without ability. This is the reason why some are calling for the words “differently abled” to be used instead. Linguistically, it can be easy enough to put such changes into practice. But practically? This is where organisations like Oorjja matter.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Oorjja, which has two centres in Ernakulam, strives to remove the element of pity from society’s view of the differently abled, starting with the hearing-impaired. The instructors do not use sign language when communicating with their students: they instead speak loudly and clearly, giving them a chance to learn lip-reading—a crucial skill for interacting with the “majority” world.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>It was not until Manu joined Oorjja that his parents could really communicate with him. “The sir at Oorjja taught him English. Even though he learnt it till 12th, he was not very fluent in it,” his mother says. He learned to communicate in other ways, verbally and non-verbally. Poignantly, she told Jayasankar that the six months after he had joined Oorjja marked the first time in 24 years that she was able to understand her son.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Moving into the mainstream requires more than just English. Confidence, just to take part in everyday activities, is also key.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Many of the students at Oorjja are initially dropped off to classes at the centre by their parents, who are hesitant about their kids travelling by themselves. Like Manu, Anjali was once hesitant to leave the house. She could not travel in buses by herself or even cross the road without help. As always, it is the parents who notice the biggest change. Anjali’s proud parents tell her teachers how she now travels alone, and how she is now the one helping them cross the road. Anjali now takes the bus.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Progress is gradual, but inevitable. Confidence-building is just one step, the next is training for the job. Oorjja’s mentors and staff comprise around 40 professionals who have worked in industry roles ranging from accountancy to UX/UI design to software and animation. They also arrange meetings between corporate recruiters and the students. It is not sold as a CSR programme. These are ready-for-work trainees.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>P. Mathew Joseph, of Mathew and Saira Architects, has had an Oorjja alumnus working with his firm for the past eight months. He says, “My perception towards the differently abled has totally changed after I met people from Oorjja and after meeting Jay (Jayasankar).” He says his hire, Hima, has a good eye for detail. Within a short while, with her AutoCAD knowledge, she is already detailing engineering designs, with little guidance. “She [Hima] sits long hours at work and is constantly improving.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>When asked whether he would now hire a hearing-impaired worker over a regular candidate, he says, &quot;let me see, I am not against it. Door is always open. We will see when the next vacancy comes.&quot;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Jayasankar tells THE WEEK that 95 per cent of Oorjja’s students become breadwinners by the end of their course—usually, an outcome of internship programmes and campus placement tie-ups that see corporates vie for their students, who, as they have learned, tend to work harder than most freshers.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Manu’s story is one such example. After joining Oorjja, he struggled at first, like many students do in the beginning. The course is structured around the students, giving them leeway to discover themselves and their potential skill sets. If one is not good at Excel or at cracking competitive exams like the CAT (which an entire batch was training for when THE WEEK visited), alternative avenues are explored. A DSLR is one of the most-popular items at the centre, through the use of which several students have taken up photography and started Instagram pages. Manu soon proved adept at computer-aided design.</p> <p>The idea of Oorjja is not to be an NGO but to be an ecosystem. The organisation does not take donations, preferring instead to form a self-sustaining model. Most students are able to pay their fees off themselves by the end of the course, through internships and part-time work they do during their life at Oorjja. Partner initiatives, like Kriya (Takshan Creatives), allow the company to make some revenue off the student’s increasing portfolio of skills, like photography, web design, accountancy, architecture, civil design, software development, animation, graphic designing and so on.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Azeem K. heads Eunoians Creative Studio, an animation studio that focuses on explainer videos and multimedia creations. Eunoians has been working with Oorjja from their very first batch. Abhijit, an alumnus from Oorjja, is now a full-time employee. Azeem says they didn't pick the students out of any CSR programme. &quot;We select students based only on their talent. It is not a CSR initiative, only because of their talent and hard work.&quot;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Hike Messenger, an Indian messaging app, is one of their clients. If you ever use some of the app's &quot;stickers&quot;, you could be using one of Abhijit's works.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>If Oorjja’s model can work, it paves the way for Indian employers to make use of an untapped workforce. Software like Tally, MS Excel, CAD and Photoshop do not recognise disabilities, only hours of work and familiarity with the interface. Oorjja’s graduates are as good as anyone else when it comes to using software and delivering targets.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Manu now works at Terrakraft as a designer. He enjoys his work and his employers, too, like him. For his mother, the medal of the moment is his happiness at work and the feedback she hears from his boss. “It is nice to hear it when sir calls and says good things about him,” she says.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>(With inputs from Neetha John)</b></p> Sat Jun 08 12:01:20 IST 2019 gandhi-a-figure-of-his-time-and-ours-curator-at-venice-biennale <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>India was returning to the <a title=" India needs a permanent seat in Venice" href="">Venice Biennale</a> after eight years, and Roobina Karode had just four months to curate a show themed on Mahatma Gandhi.</p> <p>What new could a Gandhi theme possibly offer, wondered sceptics, but the director and chief curator at Delhi's Kiran Nadar Museum of Art was firm in her belief that the Mahatma will never go out of fashion and set out to convince the naysayers.</p> <p>&quot;Gandhi is a figure of his own time and our times as well,&quot; Karode said, positive that Gandhi will continue to resonate even 200 years after his time.</p> <p>&quot;He is somebody who is in public discourse very strongly because of his writings, his values, his complexity in thinking and, above all, he practised what he preached,&quot; she added.</p> <p>For the India pavilion at the Biennale— which began on May 11 and will continue till November 24— she did not want Gandhi to be present in the form we know. She did not want Bapu's spectacles, walking staff or <i>'hcarkha</i>.</p> <p>Karode said she wanted the walls of the old Venetian building housing the pavilion to echo with the essence that is Gandhi, and this determined the choice of artists she decided to showcase.</p> <p>The India Pavilion features 50 works by eight artists, including Nandalal Bose, M F Husain, Atul Dodiya, Shakuntala Kulkarni, Rumana Husain, Ashim Purkayastha, G R Iranna, and Jitish Kallat.</p> <p>&quot;I started thinking about Gandhi almost in a way that he is invisible, and yet so visible,&quot; she said. ,Karode, who specialises in art history and has been involved with the teaching of Western and Indian Art History at various institutions, was interested in the different approaches to Gandhi and the different materialities in which the artists work.</p> <p>&quot;I didn't use any of the widely popular memorabilia of Gandhi, but I did use one symbol, a lesser know one — the <i>paduka</i> in Iranna's work.&quot;</p> <p>Iranna's work features a swarm of <i>padukas</i>, the rudimentary footwear with just a knob to go between the big and the second toes, pinned to the wall, almost taking on the form of a mass of energy.</p> <p>The curator said the innumerable <i>padukas</i> were representative of people, beyond caste, creed, religion, or occupation, who joined Gandhi in his revolutions.</p> <p>&quot;He was a person who moved through mass action. So, the satyagrahas were very important, the walking was very important and it was a way for him to empower people... to give the power to them. &quot;This whole idea of unity and togetherness is something that India needs to think of even today,&quot; she said.</p> <p>Another factor that governed Karode's curatorial process was her desire to celebrate 150 years of Gandhi not just by looking at what the younger generation of artists have been doing, but going back to the time when he started what could have been India's first public art project.</p> <p>For this, she included artists like Bose and Husain. Bose's Haripura posters, part of the show in Venice, were commissioned by Gandhi in 1938, to be displayed at the then Indian National Congress' session.</p> <p>The posters, which were painted on paper, stretched on cheap strawboard, capture the ordinariness of the way of life at the time.</p> <p>There are images of a mother feeding her child, women cooking, husking or pounding rice, a drummer, a tailor and more. &quot;I was always fond of Bose's Haripura works because in a very linear way, in a few strokes, he has created such energy in the works which are all earth pigments. Also, in a pre-independence time, what Gandhi was really wanting to do was a public art project with Nandalal,&quot; Karode said.</p> <p>&quot;He wanted to shake the masses, to engage with art and to bring them back to the understanding of their own dignity, their own artistic strength, and thus empower them,&quot; she added.</p> <p>Bose's programme of nation building with Gandhi went on to continue in Husain's 'Zameen, but in a very modern language. The 1955 panoramic oil on canvas is peppered with images of a rooster, a wheel, bulls and more.</p> <p>&quot;It talks about the changing times. It is incorporating the rural and the urban, but very significantly it is about a syncretic language in an India which is a composite nation that has many diverse strengths,&quot; Karode said.</p> <p>With several works, she revealed, her objective was to revive the idea of the artisan or the indigenous crafts of India that were completely destroyed during the colonial times.</p> <p>For instance, Kulkarni used cane to build armours for women, and Purkayastha's raw material was something as ordinary as stones picked up from the street. &quot;There is no manufactured or industrial material. This, in a way, was about Gandhi's idea of minimal consumption,&quot; Karode said.&nbsp;&nbsp;<br> </p> Fri Jun 07 16:35:37 IST 2019 you-scale-the-everest-only-with-its-permission-arunima-sinha <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Excerpts from an interview with Arunima Sinha, the world’s first female amputee to climb the Mount Everest in 2013, in the wake of the rising number of deaths this climbing season.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>There has been an unusually <a title="" href="" target="_blank">high number of deaths</a> among mountaineers attempting to scale the Mount Everest this year. What do you think is happening?</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Everest is not a business. That is the first thing to be understood. There must be strict criteria for issuing permits. The new lot attempting to scale the mountain is not of mountaineers. They neither have the right training nor the equipment. The only aim is to scale the mountain. So many just want to do it because others are scaling it. Many want to do it just for name and fame. There has to be passion, dedication and respect. The key is to not put yourself above nature. There was a young man from Moradabad who I tried to dissuade for long from attempting the climb without proper training. He lost his life in 2017 attempting just that.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Are the climbers deliberately putting their lives at risk?</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Everest summit timing is till 11 am. Any tries after that are suicide attempts as the weather becomes progressively bad. This year I read of the summit being attempted at 1.30pm. The foreign guides are stricter in that they will ask you to go back. The Nepali Sherpas are more flexible. They will not leave your side by the end but remember that no guide can physically haul you to or from the summit. But people do not listen to advice. The tendency is—we have spent so much money so we should be able to do it. It is very irritable when people call me with absurd ideas such as wanting to create a world record by climbing the summit bare feet in eight hours. This just shows how clueless they are. Without knowing the mountain, how can you climb it?</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Has it become easier to scale the mountain now hence the rush?</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The mountain is as big and difficult as it was in 1953. There is better equipment now yet one still has to fix ropes. A single sock can be crucial. Thus, the basics are the same and without proper training you cannot navigate them. During my climb, despite all my training, I instinctively reached out with my mouth to undo a clip and it froze. Now imagine how poorly equipped one is without training. One has to be mentally prepared for all possible situations. It is definitely not as easy as people think it is or like to believe it can be.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Some reports suggest that there have been traffic jams during the descent and that these have been responsible for the deaths.</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The climb from the summit is when the weather starts to worsen. Having scaled the summit, a mountaineer is on the last reserve of strength. Your Sherpa will ask you to run but you will simply not have the physical capacity. Inexperienced climbers tend to sit down every few steps. This slows down the entire train. Near the summit is a narrow balcony where only one person can move at a time. A 20 feet boulder must be crossed. It is not unusual for a queue of 400 climbers to form there. If there are inexperienced climbers among these, imagine what can happen. Good climbers know that the key is to keep moving, to decrease the regulator on the oxygen cylinder, to use water sparingly while waiting. Inexperienced climbers start to panic.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>What is the key to preparing for the climb?</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Prepare your mind for any eventuality. Know the value of a single pin. Train yourself to manage under pressure. Attempt three to four 8,000 metre summits before going to the Everest. This is as much a physical challenge as a mental one.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>How did you train?</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>I trained for two years—without Holi, Diwali or phone calls home. At the Nehru Institute of Mountaineering where I trained in 2012, every single day we would be made to climb 10km up and 10 down with 30-35kg of weight strapped to our backs. I also gave an undertaking that were anything to happen to me during training, I would be solely responsible for it.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>What did the Mt Everest teach you?</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>It taught me management and leadership beyond what any institute could have taught me. Nature teaches by example every single second if you pay attention. You have to surrender to it before knowing it. You have to know it before trying to conquer it. It also reinforced the lessons that my mother had taught me. That you apologise to the mountain for trampling it, for littering it. You offer thanks to it, as you do to your tent for keeping you safe. You are not above or beyond it. You scale it only with its permission.&nbsp;</p> Thu Jun 06 16:12:36 IST 2019 Remembering-Jiggs-Kalra-a-culinary-genius-and-raconteur-par-excellence <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>It was a really hot summer afternoon a decade ago. Jiggs Kalra had been away from the limelight for a few years. He didn't give many interviews, instead chose to be an inspiration for his son Zorawar. Yet, he was the encyclopedia on food. He knew every kabab, every recipe, and every story. And he was more than happy to share them. From the smell of baking naans, to the dainty sheermal and the succulent kababs, Kalra was just the repository dishes and flavours.</p> <p>He came out a few minutes later in a tiny, snazzy, fast wheelchair. His hair was his signature style and he had plenty to say. I was writing a story on Royal Kitchens of India and dishes that had disappeared, and Kalra had spent decades writing authoritatively, and unpretentiously, always passionately, about food. He loved food, he was interested in it and loved talking about it. During the afternoon I spent with him—still vivid in my mind—Kalra told a fascinating, fantastical legend about the kakori kabab that has been etched in my mind. He was a raconteur par excellence.</p> <p>“It was like this,'' Jiggs Kalra began recounting the folklore about the kakori kabab. The kakori, a moist mutton soft kabab—has become the perfect go-to roll, with just a hint of mint chutney wrapped in the rumali roti, thinner than a wallet during demonetisation. Now as common as the McChicken burger, there was a time its fame and flavour was limited to a tiny dusty dot on the map of Uttar Pradesh.</p> <p>Kakori, as Kalra, pointed out, shot into prominence because of the kakori kand or the train robbery. On August 9, 1945, Indian revolutionaries, including Chandrashekhar Azad, Ram Prasad Bismil, and Ashfaqulla Khan, part of the Hindustan Republican Association, looted a train carrying cash. They stole Rs 8,000 and escaped to Lucknow. It is also famous for a sufi shrine. This is where the kabab came in. There was one family who made the kabab, and was the keeper of the recipe. There was nothing for miles, he said. Except this kabab, which had to be tied with a string. And all those who flocked to the shrine, stopped to eat. In Jigg Kalra's 'Classic Cooking of Avadh' with Pushpesh Pant and Raminder Malhotra, he writes that legend has it that kakori kabab was invented to cater to the aged and toothless pilgrims who flocked to the shrine in Kakori kasba.</p> <p>Kalra, who had heard of this story, apparently, went to find the family. The younger son still made the kababs and wouldn't be persuaded to make them for a festival that Kalra wanted to organise. He wasn't interested in money, Kalra was told. However, Kalra soon found his weakness. Alcohol. He plied him with it. After hours of him sleeping off his high, the kababs were produced for Kalra at the venue where he was holding the festival, he laughed.</p> <p>Kalra, who became synonymous with Indian cuisine, lived at a time before the world of food exploded and gourmet writing became a thing. He had spent years, listening to stories about cuisines and recipes, travelling across India like a detective followed every lead to finally discover the recipe. He was a celebrity before chefs had stardom. He is responsible for making the galouti kabab, out of the wilderness and establishing it firmly into every Punjabi shaadi menu in winter. The soft melt-in-your-mouth kabab was brought to prominence courtesy Kalra's recipes and later his restaurants. He loved his food. He also loved to talk. He loved to share. With him vanished this incredible memory of magical dishes, of cooks who withheld their recipes and just warm-hearted kartirdari (hospitality). <i>Kudi tu khayegi kya</i>, was his constant refrain during the conversation.</p> Tue Jun 04 19:31:40 IST 2019 Robert-Richardson-and-the-art-of-recreating-the-good-old-days <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>With white stringy hair and small steampunk-round glasses framing his face, Robert Richardson could pass off as a mad scientist who loses a sense of time once he enters his lab. But Richardson channels that same work ethic to paint historical masterpieces with his camera and light. The three-time Academy award-winning cinematographer is known for his remarkable ability to recreate visual textures from the good old days.</p> <p>On a short visit to India to shoot the climax of liquor brand Absolut's ad film 'Colourless', Richardson is an easy-going interviewee, taking questions thick and fast. He tries to recall the name of an Indian blockbuster he enjoyed watching recently, "It's in two parts," he struggles to remember, before someone helpfully interjects, <i>Baahubali</i>. "Yes that's one. F*** you guys, I don't care if you didn't like it. I absolutely loved it."</p> <p>Thank Richardson for the powerful images in the some our favourite Hollywood films. From the terrifying battlefields of the Vietnam War in <i>Platoon</i>; the national tragedy of President John F. Kennedy's assassination in <i>JFK</i>; technicolor noir on American organised crime and gaming in <i>Casino</i>; the early years of maverick business tycoon, film producer and director Howard Hughes in <i>Aviator</i>; the childlike nostalgic storytelling in <i>Hugo</i> to the electrifying World War II drama that was Inglourious Basterds, Richardson has forged firecracker collaborations with filmmakers like Oliver Stone, Quentin Tarantino and Martin Scorsese. He is now ready with his next film, Tarantino's latest <i><a title="'Once Upon a Time in Hollywood' is not just about Sharon Tate's murder" href="">Once Upon a Time in Hollywood</a></i>, set to be released in July.</p> <p>"The intention was to replicate a time period that was the 60s in Hollywood, of course, but we learnt a lot from movies made in the 70s as well. <i>Rolling Thunder</i>, TV Westerns like <i>Gunsmoke</i>, etc., they are all a part of it," says Richardson on the visual language of Tarantino's ninth feature film <i><a title="DiCaprio, Pitt on meeting Luke Perry: 'We were like kids in the candy shop'" href="">Once Upon a Time in Hollywood</a>,</i> starring Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kurt Russel, Al Pacino, and Dakota Fanning among others. The action is centered in Los Angeles of 1969 at the peak of hippy Hollywood where a former TV western star struggles to revive his forgone glory in an industry he no longer recognizes.</p> <p>In more than 90 years of its history, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has nominated only one female DoP in the best cinematographer category, i.e. Rachel Morrison for <i>Mudbound</i>. With <a title="#MeToo, conditions apply?" href="">#MeToo</a> and #TimesUp roiling Hollywood, does Richardson expect to see more female cinematographers in the limelight from here on? "In my personal opinion, there should be less men in the world and more women. We are tired of men. This world needs to be altered and I am hoping that it alters in every capacity at every level, be it politics or entertainment."</p> <p>Richardson first came to India thirty years ago for his honeymoon. Although he loves Bollywood and has seen all of Priyanka Chopra's films, he knows the real deal in Indian cinema. "The Apu Trilogy was a massive attack. Satyajit Ray is your master. Is there another master," he asks.</p> Mon Jun 03 20:22:51 IST 2019 this-project-challenges-kerala-mps-plant-trees-equal-to-victory-margin <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Climate change is at the centre of a host of debates and <a title="Extinction Rebellion―Is it worth the trouble it is causing?" href="" target="_blank">global protests</a>, and high time it finds a significant place in politics and policymaking, too. In the backdrop of the recent Lok Sabha polls, a new challenge looks at how votes can be converted to trees.</p> <p>Come June 3, a new challenge will see Kerala MPs being called on to plant trees in their respective constituencies, in a mission to improve green cover and counter effects of climate change. The #MarginTreeChallenge, initiated by sustainability programme—Project Sthithi in Thiruvananthapuram—challenges the 20 MPs from Kerala to plant as many trees as the margin of votes by which they won the recent polls.</p> <p>Project Sthithi, initiated to create awareness about sustainable lifestyle practises and to implement them in the the district of Thiruvananthapuram, has been extended to the state level with this mission. On June 3, 20 trees will be planted at Concordia Lutheran Higher Secondary School, Kudappanakunnu. The challenge will be launched&nbsp;from Thiruvananthapuram, Congress MP&nbsp;<a title="Kerala has sent a strong message" href="" target="_blank">Shashi Tharoor</a>'s constituency. He will then have to plant 99,989 trees around his constituency.</p> <p>“The MPs will then be able to say that we, the policy makers are making our constituency greener, globally. It has to be taken to that level,” said project head Bharath Govind. He is hopeful that the challenge can be taken to a national level with the inclusion of all MPs from the other states. The best thing about the challenge, Govind said, is that it is never ending. Elections are recurring and so will the challenge be.</p> <p>Project Sthithi was launched by Thiruvananthapuram District Collector Dr K Vasuki on November 13 2018, under the C power 5 (Change Can Change Climatic Change) scheme. The third project under this scheme, Sthithi, since its commencement has been involved in various initiatives to protect the environment and eliminate use of plastics with the introduction of alternatives, under the leadership of Govind. It is working towards dramatic changes in manufacturing, education, livelihoods, electricity generation, sustainable farming, food system, health care and to introduce strict pollution control measures.</p> <p>They believe that waste is not just to be managed, but reduced. One of their main aims is to “implement a green protocol across the state drawn by our key concern to reduce <a title="UN: Record global warming confirmed, Guterres calls for action" href="" target="_blank">carbon footprint</a>”. Green protocol will result in a significant reduction in waste if implemented effectively. The project has been striving to attain just that. It has been trying to instill in the minds of the youth a passion to save the environment.&nbsp;</p> Mon Jun 03 11:05:44 IST 2019 what-cersei-lannister-and-lady-macbeth-have-in-common <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p><a href="" title="The Bard inspires Game of Thrones">Shakespeare’s influence</a> on television’s bloodiest show is well known. Whether it is the intrigue, the layered characters or the political underpinnings, the Bard would have had much to say (and eloquently) if he could have taken a peek at the script for Game of Thrones.</p> <p>While character-to-character comparisons are not always possible, one pairing that does justice to the respective source material is that of Cersei Lannister and Lady Macbeth.</p> <p>Cersei, the former queen of the seven kingdoms and the eternal queen of smirks and sassy dialogues, is perhaps Game of Throne’s most enjoyable villain. She marries malice with ambition, courage with resilience, and the ability to make her lovers do horrible things with a sensuality that makes her lovers want to keep doing horrible things if it means that they can stay with her.</p> <p>Lady Macbeth, a character who was written centuries ago by William Shakespeare, possesses many of these same traits. Both women fulfil the trope of the power-hungry woman who employs violence to meet her needs many centuries. Cersei Lannister and Lady Macbeth are two powerful heroines whose lust for power made them antagonists.</p> <p>Do they have more in common than meets the eye? Here are some of the themes that unite the characters (spoilers ahead).</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Lust for Power</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Shakespeare introduces Lady Macbeth with a scene where she plots King Duncan’s murder. Her ambition is far greater than that of her husband, Macbeth, who she goads into committing regicide.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Similarly, Cersei orchestrates the rise of her children to power, willing to kill (or have her husband kill) anybody who could threaten this,</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Cersei and Lady Macbeth’s similarities come from their innate lust for power. Both of them live in medieval worlds, where a woman’s need to come into power can be easily associated with her need to be heard. In a world where all bets are on the male heir (competent or otherwise) and where women must marry into the patriarchy if they want a seat at the high table, we can see where Cersei’s liking for power comes from.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Provoking masculinity to plot murder</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Lady Macbeth and Cersei Lannister are skilled at getting others to do their dirty work for them. One technique they use to do so is to attack the masculinity of their men when they are hesitant about committing evil acts.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Lady Macbeth ushers Macbeth into action by accusing him of being full with the ‘milk of human kindness’ and thus not being masculine enough to commit the deed. She sweetens the attack by dangling the prospect of him winning better position and power in the Kingdom.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Cersei does the same in multitudinous way and occasions, initially with Robert and then mostly with Jaime Lannister. While trying to goad King Robert against Ned Stark, she tells him “I should wear the armour and you the gown.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Madness</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Unfortunately, for both the characters, violence led to a descent into madness. For Lady Macbeth, the aftermath of killing King Duncan — a father-like figure to her — drove her to madness as a result of the guilt which consumed her. Lady Macbeth’s critically acclaimed sleepwalking scene is an adieu to her madness. On the other hand, walking made Cersei even more ruthless, as she was consumed by a need for revenge following her walk of shame.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>While Lady Macbeth is consumed by guilt, Cersei is consumed by power and pride. Lady Macbeth’s disillusion that all the perfumes of Arabia cannot sweeten her little hand is equivalent to Cersei’s belief that all of the enemy’s forces inclusive of dragons cannot rip apart her reign. This would likely explain her refusal to surrender in the final episode, even while the bells of surrender rang out and the Red Keep was burning down along with the city.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>The defenceless end</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>As devious as these women were, they were quite helpless in the end. Lady Macbeth dies of her own ‘self and violent hands’ while Cersei is crushed to earth in the one place she always deemed to be safe — her familial possession, the Red Keep. Cersei’s death was as poetic as it could be, dying in the hands of a loved one with whom she came into the world. The case was different for Lady Macbeth, whose death was never explicitly showcased. Yet, madness confines the characters to helplessness, an inability to climb out of the very hole of violence that they themselves dug.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The final episode of the show ushered in <a title="Game of Thrones Finale: Bran the Broken's best moments in the show" href="" target="_blank">contradictory reactions</a>; some loved it while some criticised it. Cersei’s death was, unfortunately, more poetic that dramatic, thereby handing an aggressive character a rather disappointing passive death.&nbsp;</p> Tue May 28 18:10:09 IST 2019 reflecting-on-12-years-of-khaled-hosseinis-a-thousand-splendid-suns <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>May 22 marked 12 years since Khaled Hosseini weaved fantasy with reality to tell a poignant story of sacrifice and love, with the publishing of&nbsp;<i>A Thousand Splendid Suns</i>.</p> <p>Through the stories of Mariam and Laila, two women as likely to be hit by bullets as they were to be lashed by the husband they shared, Hosseini unveils the tyranny that the women of Afghanistan endured under the Soviet Union, the Taliban and (for many) their husbands.</p> <p>The Afghanistan Hosseini last lived in before he sought asylum in the US in 1979 was one which was at peace with itself and its neighbours. Before the Soviet invasion in 1979, Kabul, the city, used to be a &quot;growing, thriving cosmopolitan city,&quot; in Hosseini's own words.&nbsp;<i>A Thousand Splendid Suns</i>&nbsp;is set in the time of the Soviet invasion and the subsequent Taliban tyranny.</p> <p>The readers feel a sympathy for Mariam that only well-crafted characters evoke — with her charisma evident even in the midst of the dreary landscape that her life slipped into; a freefall where every vine and branch she could hold on to was snapped. Mariam’s mother constantly warned her about the cursed life she was sure to have; as an illegitimate child and besides, as a woman. &quot;A man's heart,&quot; Nana, her mother, constantly told her, &quot;is a wretched, wretched thing. It isn't like a mother's womb. It won't bleed. It won't stretch to make room for you.&quot;</p> <p>Khaled Hosseini tried to use his &quot;thousand splendid suns&quot; to shine a light, one that could not only change the perceptions of patriarchs and misogynists but also make readers aware of the differences between the God that Mariam knew (as per the teachings of her Mullah) and the God that the Taliban claimed to represent.</p> <p>The Afghanistan Hosseini knew was a neutral one — one where burqas were optional and modern buildings were constructed alongside the traditional ones. But the Afghanistan he returned to in 2003 told him story after story of female oppression; stories of gender-based violence, of discrimination and a loss of participation from active life, of suppression of movement and of practising legal, social and political rights. Hosseini took these stories and, as he told Radio Free Europe/ Radio Liberty in 2012, compiled them into the characters of&nbsp;<i>A Thousand Splendid Suns</i>.</p> <p>&quot;I felt it was an outrage and I felt it was a very important story,&quot; he said. &quot;And when I was in Kabul in 2003 I heard many personal stories about women, and sort of eventually over a couple of years these voices coalesced into a pair of characters. And I finally sat down with the story in my hand and wrote<i> A Thousand Splendid Suns</i>.&quot;</p> <p>The story he told, of a society torn by gender-based violence and never-ending war, resonates to this day. But, is the Afghanistan of today different from the one you know from the book?</p> <p>In 2008, a report by NGO Global Rights found that 87 per cent of women in the country faced abuse in some form. As per UNESCO records today, the average female literacy rate around the country is 17 per cent against the total adult literacy rate of 31 per cent (which itself is shockingly minimal). As the country with the least literacy rate in the world, there are huge variations in the literacy level across geographies and gender in Afghanistan. According to UNICEF, &quot;The role of men and boys in Afghan communities is critical in supporting girls' access to education. Within families and communities, boys and men need to encourage and stand up for the rights of girls to go to school.&quot;</p> <p>The Taliban openly discouraged women’s education, a mindset that seeps into characters like Rasheed, who disapproved of his younger wife’s early schooling. On the hand, you have people like Laila's father, who harrowed into her mind the truth that societies cannot grow if they leave their women behind. &quot;A society has no chance at success if its women are uneducated, Laila. No chance.&quot;</p> <p>The book has been adapted into a play by Ursula Rani Sarma and performed across the globe. His latest book <i>Sea Prayer</i>, published in 2018 is a deeply illustrated short fiction, and like his other works, 2003’s <i>The Kite Runner</i> and 2013’s <i>And The Mountains Echoed</i> also deals with the refugee crisis.</p> <p><i>A Thousand Splendid Suns</i>&nbsp;has sold more than a million copies in the US and more than 38 million worldwide. Apart from being a best-selling author, Hosseini is also the founder of The Khaled Hosseini Foundation, a non-profit organisation that provides humanitarian assistance to the people of Afghanistan.</p> <p>This book, like Hosseini's others, has made us lament and empathise about the lives of people living not very far from us. They have moved us as only stories can. Nothing else will remain as much real an account of the wars as the books will remain for the generations yet to come.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Mon May 27 16:50:06 IST 2019 author-preeti-shenoy-connecting-with-readers-across-age-groups <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Preeti Shenoy returned home one day from a book reading with a gift in her hand. She opened it to find a miniature statue of Ganesh, in gold. She still has it. “The person said I changed his life,” she says. From being gifted a gold Ganesh for good luck to food that she would like, Shenoy is a writer who has the power to connect with her readers, like very few others. On Instagram, on Twitter and the old fashioned blog, Shenoy is a writer who refuses to be just a picture at the back of the blog.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Bengaluru-based Shenoy is a bestselling writer, with numbers that are mind-boggling. While Chetan Bhagat may have started a trend for his bromance stories—perfect plots for Hindi movies—Shenoy, who burst on to the scene a little later, has the same ability to connect. But her readers cross generations. From 18-year-olds to grandparents, Shenoy connects with people across age groups and has continued to find a place in the Neilson charts. This one is number 13. And it has proved lucky already. Shenoy, has found herself on the bestselling charts already.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>She returns to her evergreen bestseller, eight years later. <i>Life is What You Make It</i>, which is still on the top ten in the Neilson scan, was rejected by every publisher in India. A love story set in the 1990s, Shenoy's heroine Ankita is a girl who is bipolar. It all started with an exhibition. She lives in the UK and spends her time soaking up culture. “I had gone to see an exhibition and I was blown away by the images,” she says. “I was also doing my portrait course at the time.'' Each work of art in the exhibition had been created by someone who was bipolar. “The images were stunning. There is also a Bipolar Art Association in the UK''.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>This sparked an idea. Digging deeper, Shenoy met a nurse who cared specially for patients who were coping with bipolarity. In India, she went to NIMHANS. “I walked the corridors of the wards and I was so deeply moved.” Research apart, writing about mental illness wasn't easy. “It was very difficult,” she admits. “I feel intensely when I write. When I wrote the first book, my kids were still around. So, I had to switch to mommy immediately.''</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The book, which is now almost a cult book with readers calling her to say they cried, was rejected by every publisher. “Forty publishers refused to touch it,” she says. “They regret it now.” Shenoy vowed never to write another book on mental illness again. But with her kids now abroad to study, and time on her hand, she decided to give it another go. Was it easier this time around? “It is very difficult to get into the head of your character. I wrote this one as if I was in a trance''.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Ankita, the girl who dropped out of college now has enrolled again to write in her new book <i>Wake Up, Life Is Calling</i>. A book about second chances, love and finding your feet. Modelled on a girl who her parents knew, Ankita's journey in the new book is about coping and life after the hospital. Known for her easy breezy style, Shenoy, makes this rather difficult story, a page turner. And like everything else she espouses, frequently on her blog, it is about positivity. “Now people want to know when there will be another book,” she laughs. Ankita, certainly is a winner.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>A blogger, Shenoy who is a veteran of the format, has been putting down her thoughts—and finding people who connect to them—since 2008. It began with grief. “I had lost my father. Writing was therapy.” Over the years, Shenoy became a writer beyond just a blog. But she still posts quite often. Each year a blog marathon is conducted where she posts every day. “I have found my writing has improved from when I began 11 years ago,” she says. “The challenge of a blog marathon is to write something meaningful each day, especially when you have things going on.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Her posts, personal and positive, are littered with suggestions to read, proud posts about her parents, her thoughts on life, her illustrations and her dog. “At a book reading in Coimbatore, it was a packed house, I asked how many people have read my book. Three or four hands went up. I asked how many people follow me on Instagram, and 97 per cent of the audience did. People connect,” she says.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Mon May 27 12:39:29 IST 2019 Mt-Everest-What-is-killing-trekkers-up-there <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Remember that long weekend getaway to the hills? When it turned out that almost the entire city had the same plans. That long wait on the highway, with cars stretching ahead and behind as far as the eye can see. The clutter disposed by tourists—soda cans, chip packets and fruit peel. Mt Everest these days is not too different. The carrying capacity of the once pristine, snow-clad peak has long been breached, but not many wanted to heed the warning calls. Until this year, when the <a title="Two more Indian mountaineers die on Mount Everest toll of Indians rises to 8" href="">traffic jam has become so bad that it is claiming lives</a>. The pictures of the long rows of trekkers—one queue going up, another coming down—takes away the magic of the place.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>There was once a time, when scaling the tallest peak on earth was one of those extreme things only a few did. The terrain was hostile. Snow, snow and more snow. Scant oxygen, depleting rapidly the higher you went. Treacherous terrain. Today, thanks to better equipment, scientific training for the summit and, of course, good amenities along the route, the trek has become much easier. Everest scaling has turned from the aspirational to the doable. It is now one of those bucket list items that need to be ticked.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>For centuries, the peak stood tall and unscaled (at least not a recorded scaling). In fact, it even stood unrecognised as the tallest among the tallest Himalayan peaks, till, in 1852, mathematician Radhanath Sikdar, who was working on the Great Trigonometric Survey of India, realised that Peak XV was the highest peak on earth. He reported this to his superior, Andrew Waugh. The news must have been exciting, but Waugh waited till 1856, by when they had cross-checked the calculations and were sure of the discovery, before announcing the discovery to the world. It was named Mt Everest after the former surveyor general of India, George Everest. The name was only given in 1865, though.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>It took almost a century after its “discovery” for Mt Everest to be finally scaled in 1953 by the now famous duo of Tenzing Norgay and Sir Edmund Hillary. Over the next six decades, however, Mt Everest has attracted trekkers by the hundreds, many of whom are looking at the peak as a means of breaking world records. 2018 had a record number of summiteers—807. The number is remarkable, given that the scaling window is small—barely two weeks, and given the weather conditions, can become even smaller.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>And for every person who summits, there are several who do not. Trekkers may have better clothing and equipment than in the past, but the peak still tests people for physical fitness. Ace climbers have been known to suffer from breathing issues and needed evacuation. Payal Saxena, who reached Everest Base Camp at an elevation of around 17,500 feet above sea level recalls hearing that the success rate for even this feat is only 60 per cent. “It is a gruelling climb,'' she says. “With such little oxygen in the air, every step is an arduous one. You only cover around 200m in four hours. I remember sighting the base camp, it seemed so near, but it took hours before I could reach it.''</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The tragedy this year is that it was not the gruelling climb that killed. Only one mountaineer is recorded to have fallen off the Tibetan side and died. <a title="Mt Everest witnesses traffic jam like situation as over 200 trekkers attempt to reach summit point" href="">The seven others who lost their lives this year, died waiting in queue</a>. High altitudes have a different environment than in the plains, and at such heights, waiting and twiddling your thumbs is not an option. A climber on the move is ensuring his body is being constantly heated. While waiting, however, the body begins cooling rapidly. Add to it the rarified atmosphere where oxygen is at a premium. It doesn't take much for people to go into oxygen starvation. The dip from delirious to death is rapid.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In June 1924, George Mallory and Andrew Irvine had made a historical bid to reach the summit. They were sighted by the team somewhere at the top, but then, were engulfed by the clouds. Mallory's body was discovered only as recently as 1999; Irvine remains lost. It is one of those mysteries whether the duo actually reached the summit or not. But as Mallory's son John himself said several years later, scaling a summit is not complete unless you return. Mallory and Irvine did not. Neither have the eight summiteers this year.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>As the rarefied Mt Everest becomes commonplace, the victims of today will not even go down in history, except perhaps as a statistic. Like how we record road deaths in cities.&nbsp;</p> Sat May 25 21:06:23 IST 2019 the-godfather-why-mario-puza-saga-enthralls-us-even-half-century-later <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Mario Puzo's book, <i>The Godfather</i>, which came out in 1969, has sold more than 21 million copies worldwide and has also stirred the cinema industry with the movies that were based on it. Every single character, even the ones who are not significant to the plot, are allowed to exist in more pages than they deserve, in just the adequate measure that nowhere does the book drag or make you bored. </p> <p>Mario, I tell you, is telling you an honest story, a detailed one, just like it had happened, not leaving anything out. He wants you to really really get the story. He just doesn't want to leave any part hanging.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The book is filled with as much uncertainty about the future as real life is. Everybody seems to be in the tight clutch of the Don, of his friendship, in some way or the other. The characters, especially that of Don Vito Corleone and his son Michael Corleone have been influenced by real life mobsters, such as Joe Profaci (who too had used his olive oil distribution as a front to smoothly run his illegal businesses) and Frank Costello (an Italian-American mafia gangster and crime boss, who is also the iconic villain in Martin Scorsese’s <i>The Departed</i>, played by Jack Nicholson). We understand as we read that the Don's “friendship” is a tether; a tether that will only let his people run in radii inside the circle he has drawn for them.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Michael Corleone's rise to power in the mafia world, from where he had once despised his father's associations and activities, from the silent detached man to that of the calm deadly person that he chose to become ("Every man has but one destiny." -Don Vito Corleone) are epiphanies of life's unprecedentedness. Freddie Corleone is proof that just because you have the same blood doesn't mean you have the same spine.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Each character piques a different kind of interest and the book is full of life lessons. The unique saga of the Corleones, presented to us by Mario Puzo half a century ago, was adapted into a movie which came out in 1972. The screenplay for the trilogy was written by Mario Puzo himself, who was forever convinced that he could have done a better job in writing the book; if only he knew so many people were going to read it! Mario Puzo's trilogy is among the ten best mafia novels of all times and Ed Falco's sequel,<i> The Family Corleone</i> comes 6th in the list. It is the second book in the trilogy, <i>The Sicilian</i>, that tops the list. The third book in the trilogy is titled <i>The Last Don.</i></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Puzo was poor and his writing career was going steep downhill when he realised that he had a mafia story to tell and he could tell it for the money. Even though he only received a scanty $5,000 as advance for <i>The Godfather,</i> the paperback rights to the book sold off at $4,10,000! He had no connection with the underworld and wrote his masterpieces purely from research. He wrote in 1972 in The Godfather Papers and Other Writings, “I am ashamed to admit that I wrote<i> The Godfather </i>entirely from research. I never met a real honest-to-God gangster. I knew the gambling world pretty good, but that’s all.” He ventured into writing a couple of other novels including <i>Fools Die</i> before he wrote <i>The Sicilian</i> in 1984 which, although tells the story of another gangster, Salvatore Giuliano, contains characters from The Godfather.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The movie directed by Francis Ford Coppola is a modern classic. Both Marlon Brando (who plays Vito Corleone) and Al Pacino (who plays Michael Corleone) were not the first preferences for the roles. Even Coppola wasn’t the first pick of Paramount Pictures for direction. But the movie went on to bag the Oscar for Best Actor in a Leading Role, Best Picture and Best Adapted screenplay of the year. Robert DeNiro, who plays a younger version of Vito Corleone in <i>The Godfather 2</i> won the Oscar for Best Actor in a Supporting Role. Both the actors who represented Vito Corleone on screen won Academy Awards. And unsurprisingly, Mario Puzo shared the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for the first two Godfather movies with Coppola.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Puzo and his characters, Coppola and his cast and crew remain to be legends and continue to engulf people into the vast empire they created. It was just yesterday that my dad insisted that he hasn’t read anything like <i>The Godfather</i>. It taught him life, he told me. A classic, an epic, it is a book that can influence the destiny of anyone who reads it.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Wed May 22 11:10:54 IST 2019 why-parents-should-think-twice-about-tracking-apps-for-their-kids <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>The use of <a href="">self-tracking</a> and personal surveillance technologies has grown considerably over the last decade. There are now apps to monitor people’s <a href="">movement</a>, <a href="">health</a>, <a href="">mindfulness</a>, <a href="">sleep</a>, <a href="">eating habits</a> and even <a href="">sexual activity</a>. </p> <p>Some of the more thorny problems arise from apps designed to track others, like those made for parents to <a href="">track their kids</a>. For example, <a href="">there are specific apps that allow</a> parents to monitor their child’s GPS location, who they call, what they text, which apps they use, what they view online and the phone number of their contacts.</p> <p>As a <a href="">bioethicist</a> who specializes in the ethics of emerging technologies, I worry that such tracking technologies are transforming prudent parenting into surveillance parenting. </p> <p>Here are three reasons why. </p> <h2>1. Companies are tracking for profit</h2> <p>The first reason has to do with concerns over the tech itself. </p> <p>Tracking apps are <a href="">not primarily designed</a> to keep children safe or help with parenting. They are designed <a href="">to make money</a> by gathering loads of information <a href="">to be sold</a> to other companies. </p> <p>A 2017 report from a marketing research firm estimates that self-monitoring technologies for health alone will reach gross revenues of <a href="">US$71.9 billion</a> by 2022. </p> <p>The lion’s share of the profit is not in the device itself, but in the data drawn from its users. </p> <p>To get as much data as they can, these apps work hard to keep one constantly using them via push notifications and other design techniques. </p> <p>This data is then often sold to other companies – including <a href="">advertising agencies</a> and <a href="">political campaign firms</a>. The primary aim of these devices is not people’s well-being, but the profit that can be made off of their data. </p> <p>When parents track children, they help companies maximize their profits. Should a child’s information become de-anonymized and fall into the wrong hands, this could put one’s child at risk.</p> <h2>2. Risks of leaking private data</h2> <p>There are also significant <a href="">privacy risks</a>. </p> <p>A 2014 study by the security firm Symantec found that even devices that do not appear to be traceable <a href="">can still be tracked wirelessly,</a> as a result of insufficient privacy features. </p> <p>That same year, a study by computer scientists at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign found that many Android mobile health applications, for example, send <a href="">unencrypted information over the Internet</a>. Nearly all of these apps monitor one’s location. Researchers at MIT and the Catholic University of Louvain found that just four <a href="">time-stamped locations</a> could uniquely identify 95% of individuals, making promises of anonymity hollow. </p> <p>Information related to people’s whereabouts can reveal valuable data about them. In the case of children, their tracking data could very easily be used by someone else.</p> <h2>3. It can break trust</h2> <p>Another reason why tracking one’s child is worrisome has to do with the risk of breaking their trust. </p> <p>Social scientists have shown that trust is central to <a href="">close relationships</a>, including healthy parent-child relationships. It is <a href="">necessary</a> for the development of commitment and feelings of security. A child’s sense of personal privacy is a <a href=";div=22&amp;g_sent=1&amp;casa_token=nuPSk0b5zN0AAAAA:3lOXJyLWRA7BVYyhTV4jjgvDtmTeX_ZG9_26CnNt95KxPETKxrFW41jXooxhp8mPdD9_IPD5bg&amp;collection=journals&amp;t=1557961177">crucial component</a> of this trust. </p> <p>A 2019 study shows monitoring a child can undermine the sense of trust and bonding. In fact, <a href="">it can become counterproductive</a> to the point of pushing the child further towards rebellion. </p> <p>This risk, I would argue, is perhaps far more serious than those leading parents to track their children in the first place.</p> <h2>A few exceptions</h2> <p>While I think that tracking one’s child is often unethical, there are some cases where it may be warranted.</p> <p>If a parent has good reasons to suspect that their child is suicidal, involved in violent extremism, or engaged in other activities that threaten their life or that of others, the best course of action may involve breaking trust, invading privacy and monitoring the child. </p> <p>But those are the exceptions, not the rule. Think twice before tracking your kids.</p> <p><em>Editor’s note: This piece is part of our series on ethical questions arising from everyday life. We would welcome your suggestions. Please email us at <a href=""></a>.</em><!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img src="" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: --></p> <p><span><a href="">Joel Michael Reynolds</a>, Assistant Professor of Philosophy, <em><a href="">University of Massachusetts Lowell</a></em></span></p> <p>This article is republished from <a href="">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="">original article</a>.</p> Mon May 20 14:58:30 IST 2019 how-nagaland-villages-saved-the-amur-falcon <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Every year in the month of October millions of Amur falcons migrate from the eastern countries of Siberia, China and North Korea to Southern Africa, in order to escape the bitter cold of the east and to embrace the summers of the African subcontinent. On their journey, they make a stopover in Indian state of Nagaland in the northeast before setting on a 3,000km non-stop flight over the Arabian Sea to reach the African shores. For years, the locals in Nagaland and also at times in Manipur would trap these pretty, dark-eyed birds and kill them—breaking their wings, plucking the feathers, stringing the birds on poles to sell their meat—before a concerted action by non-governmental organisations, activists and the government, along with help from the locals and school children put an end to the mayhem and led to the conservation of the species. All in the span of a year.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The efforts of the conservationists have been now recorded in a book for children released by the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS). With the help of illustrations by Deborshee Gogoi and a vibrant, picture heavy, animated layout the book makes for an interesting read for children above the age of three years as it helps them understand the significance and importance of flora and fauna and environmental conservation of them. The book was written by renowned author Prabha Nair known for her engaging storytelling skills in schools across India.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The book is an interesting read especially in the simple way in which it highlights the success story of Nagaland, especially of its village Pangti which has contributed hugely towards conservation of the falcons. It lays special emphasis on the role of children involved in the conservation efforts—composing songs on the birds, staging skits on them to setting up patrols that keep a watch over their arrival.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Activities are held at BNHS</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Book</b>: So Long, Amur Falcon</p> <p><b>Author</b>: Prabha Nair</p> <p><b>Illustrator</b>: Deborshee Gogoi</p> <p><b>Price</b>: Rs. 200</p> Sun May 19 22:22:25 IST 2019 The-curious-case-of-Karan-Oberoi-Is-it-time-for-MenToo <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Television actor and anchor Karan Oberoi, who is best known as a member of the boy band, 'A Band of Boys', is facing charges of rape and extortion. On Friday, Mumbai Court turned down his bail application.</p> <p>The victim’s lawyer, Sheetal Pandya, told THE WEEK, that both her client and Karan Oberoi, who were unmarried, met on a dating app. She said from the beginning, the woman had made it very clear to Oberoi that she was seeking a serious and committed relationship. Pandya said Oberoi had replied saying he too didn’t like indulging in “time pass”.</p> <p>The victim claimed that once when she was visiting Oberoi at his residence, he spiked her coconut water and raped her. That’s not all. The woman said Oberoi also filmed the entire episode and continued to use it to extort money from her. Based on her complaint, Mumbai Police swung into action and arrested Oberoi who has been in custody since then.</p> <p>Oberoi’s lawyer, Dinesh Tiwari, said, “The allegation of rape is being misused” and rued the fact that Oberoi is still behind bars. “Unfortunately, Oberoi continues to remain in custody until bail,” he said. “The police have conducted a horrifying investigation,” he added.</p> <p>Further, Tiwari slammed the judiciary saying, “They are not applying their mind”. “The allegations have been leveled blindly...the implementation is questionable,” he said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>He claimed that the victim is “into voodoo and black magic and (talks about things such as) danger and crime. No sane person would want to be with her”.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Pandya said Oberoi was evading a committed relationship and marriage. Defending her client, she said, “Oberoi is trying to prove that this was a one-sided relationship and that she was a possessive woman, obsessed with him, and that she was constantly showering him with gifts. If he accepted a few gifts that is perfectly fine. Why was he accepting expensive gifts from her regularly?”</p> <p>According to Pandya, her client not only financed his expensive lifestyle, including paying for his luxurious cosmetic treatments such as anti-ageing injections, food, clothes and furniture, but also gifted him musical instruments, cash, good luck gems, a refrigerator and even a ‘Being Human’ bicycle costing Rs. 60,000. She further said her client also gifted things to Oberoi’s family members, who were aware of her presence in his life, and claimed that she has messages to prove that his nephews and other relatives liked and approved of the gifts given by her client.</p> <p>Pandya went on to say that Oberoi’s celebrity friends held a press meet to defend him, where they ended up revealing her client’s name, not once but thrice. “Those people are trying to degrade her, suppress her and bring down her morale so that it leads to a breakdown, but we have filed a case against those celebs,” she said.</p> <p>Actor and columnist Pooja Bedi is one of the people who has been defending Oberoi ever since the news of the rape broke. She is of the opinion that it is time for a #MenToo movement. “Karan has been my best friend for the last 15 years and he is a sterling human being. He is kind, generous, gentle and a really decent and good man. We share a deep and meaningful friendship. It is natural to jump in on seeing your best friend in trouble,” she said.</p> <p>“Karan’s great grandfather was awarded the Order of the British Empire (OBE), his grandfather was an IPS Officer. His father is a decorated war hero from the 1971 war, a Brigadier in the Army, and his uncle is also a decorated officer and a Padmashree awardee,” Bedi said, laying emphasis on the fact that Oberoi comes from a very distinguished family.</p> <p>According to her, “This is not about being anti-women”. Bedi said she strongly believes in the “equality of both sexes”. However, she felt that a large number of women are misusing the law, which has been formulated to protect women.</p> <p>Noting that she has been advocating for men’s rights for a while now, she said, “I have not jumped into this because of my best friend Karan Oberoi. In fact, even last year, I gave a speech about men’s rights and their need for rights at the Constitution Club in Delhi”.</p> <p>What Bedi finds deplorable is the fact that while women’s identities are always protected, men have no such protection. “A man’s identity is never protected, and this way you actually end up punishing his mother, his sister, his wife while also jeopardising his career and shattering his life. They also experience agonising humiliation and their families bear the brunt of the hashtag”.</p> <p>“Karan Oberoi is symbolic. What is repulsive is that this is actually anti-women and is actually a great disservice to women when they file fake cases of rape, abuse, extortion and dowry like this,” she said, adding, “Instead of making criminals out of honest men, we need to protect our men and revamp the judicial system”.</p> <p>For now, the sessions court has concluded that there was some commitment between Karan Oberoi and the victim and that Oberoi took advantage of this relationship.</p> <p>No prudent person would accept such valuable articles if there was no commitment in the relationship, said Pandya, rephrasing the Court’s conclusion. “Truth has prevailed,” she added.</p> <p>Tiwari said they will be taking the matter to the High Court as early as possible in order to get him bail.</p> Sat May 18 18:46:41 IST 2019 alfred-lord-tennyson-ulysses-turns-177 <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p><i>For my purpose holds</i></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><i>To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths</i></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><i>Of all the western stars, until I die.</i></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><i>Ulysses</i> by Alfred Lord Tennyson is one of the grandest poems ever written. It came out in his third publication <i>Poems</i>, which was released in two volumes on May 14, 1842. One of the most popular lines from the poem included 'To strive, to seek, to find and not to yield'. Tennyson sometimes derived his heroes from myths; like Ulysses itself.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Of the two volumes in<i> Poems</i>, the first consisted entirely of already published and revised works. The second comprised almost entirely of new poems.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Alfred Lord Tennyson was described as "the saddest poet" by T. S Eliot, commemorating the grief, the sadness and the melancholy in his poems. ("Tis better to have loved and lost/ Than never to have loved at all", from <i>In Memoriam A. H. H.</i>)</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The ninth most frequently quoted poet in the <i>Oxford Dictionary of Quotations</i>, the poet who held the longest tenure of Poet Laureate and one of the most celebrated poets of all time, Alfred Lord Tennyson, born into a middle-class family, published two volumes of poetry that people were to carry in their hearts even almost-two centuries later. Highly criticised for being "over-sentimental" during his time, Tennyson took the reproaches seriously and frequently edited his own manuscripts. A revised version of <i>The Lady of Shalott </i>appears in the first volume of <i>Poems</i>. He was a craftsman who obsessively polished his own works, to the point where his efforts were described as being "insane" by Robert Browning, a contemporary poet and playwright.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The strong influence of the Romantic poets before his time, such as John Keats (who preceded him in the position of Nobel Laureate) is evident from his descriptive writing.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Rhythm was penned masterfully in his clever hands. In his poem <i>The Brook</i>, Tennyson not only created absolutely beautiful rhythmic poetry, but also drew an image so vivid with delicate details in the minds of the readers. I slip, I slide, I gloom, I glance/ Among the skimming swallows/ I make the netted sunbeam dance/Against my sandy shallows. (From The Brook.)</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Throughout his life, Tennyson was engulfed by bouts of depression and often drew inspiration from the grief that life left him with. It was after the death of Hallam, his closest friend and Cambridge mate (which Tennyson had to drop after his father's death before completing his degree) that the poems <i>In the Valley of Cauteretz</i> and <i>The Way of the Soul</i> were born. The masterpiece I<i>n Memoriam A. H. H.</i> was dedicated to Hallam.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Tennyson poured a lot of himself into his works. He was, in many ways, much like his heroes; he was quite a Ulysses himself:</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><i>And this gray spirit yearning in desire</i></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><i>To follow knowledge like a sinking star</i></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><i>Beyond the utmost bound of human thought.</i></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Sat May 18 12:31:12 IST 2019 Lorni-the-Flanuer-A-Khasi-movie-that-encapsulates-the-soul-of-Shillong <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Down and out in Shillong, Adil Hussain's character in the feature film Lorni-The Flaneur fashions himself into a detective to escape the langour and frustrations of his drab existence. Attuned to the pulse of the streets, he is suddenly given a task to investigate the "disappearance of objects of great cultural value". And thus begins an exhilarating ride through the darkened lanes and alleyways of his sleepy little town which also parellels the maze of Hussain's roiling mind. Lorni is born out of the #khasinewwave cultural movement and is part of the 14th Habitat Film Festival which begins on 17 May.</p> <p>Lorni's director, Wanphrang K. Diengdoh, is founder of red dur, a production space for films and music. He is also part of a politco-punk band Tarik and #khasinewwave music project Ñion. In 2011, his debut short film <i>19/87 </i>bagged all the awards at the GISFF Film Festival. His previous documentaries include <i>Where the Clouds End</i> on tribal identity and border politics, and <i>Between the Forest and the Song</i>, a film that explores the song-naming tradition in Kongthong village. In 2017, he released a film on tribal labour during the First World War. In an interview with THE WEEK, he shines a light on the making and meaning of Lorni.</p> <p><b>Can you tell us about the meaning and significance of the word Lorni in Shillong's cultural milieu?</b></p> <p>Lorni is a Khasi word that refers to someone who is nosy or perhaps very inquisitive about other people’s activities. Shillong still functions like a small town in certain regards and there are not many secrets out there. Perhaps if you were a Lorni, you would definitely have an idea about what are the happenings around town.</p> <p><b>In the film, a detective investigates the disappearance of objects worthy of great cultural value. When and how did this idea take root?</b></p> <p>Shem (Adil Hussain) in the film is not actually a detective per se, rather an employed individual from the city who suddenly stumbles across work when he is asked to investigate the disappearances of objects of great cultural value for the Khasis.</p> <p>I had just finished my masters from Jamia back in 2009 and wanted to work on a fiction film but then I realised how difficult that was. The concept gradually evolved into a graphic novel idea but even that was shelved for the longest time for several reasons but mostly because I started doing non-fiction films. So for almost a decade now, I have been completely engrossed in the non-fiction form and it was when I finished <i>Because We did Not Choose</i>, a film on indigenous labour in the First World War that I told myself that I was going to take a little break from the non-fiction form. I think it was also what was going on in my personal life that fuelled this project. So perhaps Lorni-the Flanuer found me and told me that it had to be seen on screen and boy am I happy about that! It has been extremely cathartic to say the least.</p> <p><b>A news article said that your 2011 fiction short film 19/87, set in the context of the 1987 ethnic riots, marks the onset of ‘Khasi New Wave’. How much of this movement has permeated cinema coming out of Shillong?</b></p> <p>Not much really, to be honest. In fact, most filmmakers from the region still work on a model that is largely informed by a certain kind of mainland aesthetic and revenue model and I think that is absolutely alright. But then again for me, I have always understood art as something that can shape society and how people look and imagine the world around them. The movement is slowly (and I mean slowly) proliferating into other arts practices, but the common thread that links them is that they are all informed by Khasi philosophy and the everyday realities of our society.</p> <p><b>Can you tell us a bit about your journey into filmmaking and how it led to the creation of red dur?</b></p> <p>But my foray into the arts has been through music. So perhaps there itself I had the key ingredients to do films. Apart from that, Khasi society was an oral culture until the 1840’s. So, storytelling was a very integral part of our identity and I vividly remember my grandparents telling me these legends and folktales. It was fascinating for a child growing up and I still relate to those stories even today. I also knew from a very young age that I was going to make films. Eventually, I did have formal training in filmmaking but I think what is crucial for any filmmaker, musician, artist or writer is the journey they make and continue to make to find whatever their truth is. I think this experiential knowledge is what really informs anyone’s art.</p> <p>Red dur actually started off as a film club. We would screen films for a tiny set of cinema enthusiasts in Shillong. We had all sorts of people coming—students, working professionals, artists, political activists, writers, alcoholics, pot heads and of course the general slackers. It was an eclectic mix of people and that made it quite exciting. This was back in 2010 and Shillong still didn’t have much to offer in terms of a space geared towards cinema or art for that matter. Slowly, it transformed itself into a film production space that had people who were part of the film club as members. I think we all had this desire to create a different kind of cinema and do something different for Shillong. Slowly, as time progressed though, our numbers reduced for various reasons of course, primarily because one also has to make a living and Shillong really didn’t have a scene that could support independent cinema or arts practice.</p> <p><b>You are also part of a #khasinewwave band called Ñion. How have you used music in the film for creating atmosphere and offering socio-cultural references?</b></p> <p>I treat a film like a musical piece and a musical piece like a film. I was very fortunate when it came to the score because a lot of my musician friends contributed their music. Gareth Bonello (from the 'Gentle Good') has been studying Khasi music for his Phd thesis and when I told him that I wanted some of his pieces, he was more than happy to share them. Similarly with Stefan Kaye, ('The Ska Vengers', 'Jass B’stards' etc.) whom I’ve worked with before doing music films for the bands he plays for and have huge admiration for what he has done to the music scene in this country in the past 10-15 years. And of course, my sonic co-conspirator and band mate Hammarsing Kharhmar who I believe is a musical genius having played for 'The Strokes', Albert Hammond Jr and many more, but most importantly fuelled by the same kind of traditional Khasi music as I grew up with. It was a cosmic coincidence that we happened to be at the same place at the same time to start Ñion. He had come back to Shillong after living in the States and was keen to get a new music project going. I agreed to record for him if he would write some music for the film. Next thing I know, he sends across me this manic piece that just fits in so well with this sequence where Shem (Adil Hussain) is chasing one of his suspects through narrow alleys and the streets of Shillong. The moment we threw in some vocals, the track sounded like it came straight from the depths of the primordial and onto the streets of Shillong. We just released the music video a week back called Shem-Ñion. But yes, visually, Shillong city is a mash-up of the old and the new and the music of Ñion is precisely that.</p> <p><b>How has Lorni dealt with issues of tribal identity and communal divisions in Shillong?</b></p> <p>I think it questions who has authority over our culture. But with regards to communal divisions, I don’t think I have really asserted my opinion on the matter. My previous films <i>19/87</i> and <i>Where the Clouds End</i> have dealt with this issue in quite a bit of detail. With <i>Lorni-The Flaneur</i>, I was very keen to introduce to the world this guy who lives in Shillong and is looking for things that are taken away from him. The interpretation and analogies are of course rife!</p> <p><i>Lorni-The Flaneur</i> will be screened on May 20, 8.30 pm at the India Habitat Centre in Delhi.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Thu May 16 22:54:11 IST 2019 mrinal-sen-96-birth-anniversary-the-mavericks-manifesto <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Mrinal Sen never considered himself a great filmmaker. He always shied away from publicity and hated page three. The simple down-to-earth nature he possessed was reflected in almost all his films. As he often said, he never wanted to lose connect with the grassroots. That is why, to a large extent, Sen’s films had a leftist angle. Even as a member of Rajya Sabha, the iconic filmmaker was vehement in his protests against imperialism. Sen, whose 96th birth anniversary was on Tuesday, was not the type to accept anything in the name of democracy.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Once he was asked why, as a left-oriented thinker, he opted to become a Member of Parliament. To this, he smiled and politely replied that being a parliamentarian does not mean that one is devoid of leftist leanings. In Lenin's words, Parliament was a pig sty; but, Indian leftists and socialists were more liberal in this aspect. Sen did take criticism from dogmatic socialists sportingly.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>With an unimpressive debut through <i>Raat Bhore</i>, Sen rose to fame with <i>Neel Akasher Niche</i>. The film, with its haunting music by Hemanta Mukherjee, was praised by then prime minister Jawharlal Nehru. This made Sen conscious that the capitalist section of society was praising his work. He drifted away from that genre of cinema and went on to direct <i>Baishe Srabon</i> and <i>Punascha</i>. <i>Akash Kusum</i> and <i>Bhuvan Shome</i> granted him a position as one of the top three directors of India. The others were Satyajit Ray and Ritwik Ghatak.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The 70s and 80s witnessed Sen at his altruistic best. He had the courage to write and direct the legendary Calcutta trilogy—<i>Interview</i>, <i>Calcutta 71</i> and <i>Padatik</i>. His experiments with both content and form were unique. If the freeze shots of <i>Akash Kusum</i> were meaningful, the jumpcuts of <i>Calcutta 71</i> were unique. The use of dialectical montages in <i>Padatik</i> was the hallmark of a courageous filmmaker. Yes, Sen did possess the bravery to portray subjects on celluloid like no one else.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In his Telugu film <i>Oka Uri Katha</i>, Sen gave a new dimension to Indian cinema with close-up shots. <i>Khandahar</i> was sheer poetry on celluloid. <i>Akaler Sandhane</i> India’s best meta film, depicting the ravages of famine, which made the audience sit up. His collaboration with cinematographer K.K. Mahajan and editor Gangadhar Naskar produced a movie of international standards. He shared an excellent rapport with all his actors.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>There were often differences between Satyajit Ray and Sen. The story of both exchanging strong letters of protest in a leading Kolkata-based English daily is legendary. Ray derided <i>Akash Kusum</i>. Sen also spoke against Satyajit Ray, but never did any of them insult each other. In fact, after Satyajit Ray passed away, Sen stood throughout the day beside the dead body. He considered Ray’s <i>Aparajita</i> the best Indian film.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Sen was especially fond of Cannes. As the saying goes, critics termed him an Indian version of Jean Luc Goddard. To this, Sen would laugh and say, “My goodness. I am really flattered. I have my originality and Goddard admitted it himself.” Very few know that Sen and Gregory Peck shared a series of conversations at the Tokyo Film Festival in the early 90s.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>During the shooting of his documentary on Kolkata, <i>Calcutta My El Dorado, </i>he opted for natural sounds to bring in the effect of the City of Joy. The use of natural light in certain scenes of <i>Ekdin Pratidin</i> were really effective.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Sophia Loren came across Sen at Venice in 1969. She pointed out that, being an Indian, Sen’s knowledge of European and Hollywood cinema was brilliant. Sen spoke with all fond memories about the sumptuous lunch he shared with Carlo Ponti and Loren. With his demise the last great chapter of Indian cinema comes to an end. He may be deceased, but the eternal maverick’s works will remain immortal.</p> Tue May 14 16:22:44 IST 2019 Across-the-Street-Italy-through-an-iPhone-lens <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>When asked if he would use his iPhone 6 for professional work as a photographer, Arvind Hoon thinks for a few seconds before giving the nod, &quot;In certain instances I could, yes.&quot; He does not forget to further support his answer with an example of how in 2017 <i>Time</i> revealed they had shot 12 of their magazine covers entirely on iPhones.</p> <p>It was in the summer of 2016 that Arvind Hoon took off on a two-week holiday to Italy for the first time. Being a commercial photographer in the hospitality industry, he was naturally scoping out for information on the kind of lens to use and the gear to take. His mentor and editor of a previous photobook on Kashmir offered him a simple advice.</p> <p>&quot;You are going on a holiday with your wife. The camera should not come in the way. Your iPhone is good enough,&quot; said Hoon's mentor and editor Sanjeev Saith. By virtue of being familiar with his protege's work, Saith also suggested Hoon take his pictures in a square format which is what most mobile phones allow. Hoon did just that. Rambling and roving the length and breadth of Italy, Hoon had his phone to capture the glittering streetscapes from Venice to Milan to Rome to Verona.</p> <p>&quot;The light in Italy is generally very good. There is no dust or pollution. The sunlight is clear and soft. This easily lends itself good quality pictures,&quot; says Hoon. Even though Hoon edited his pictures on Instagram for sharpness, contrast and shadow control, he did not use any filters. He simply framed them in a jagged, black border on the app.</p> <p>The pictures from this personal trip to Italy resulted in a photobook in 2017 called 'Across the Street'.</p> <p>On 8 May, the pristine white walls of a gallery at the Istituto Italiano di Cultura in Delhi opened an exhibition of these keenly observed holiday photos in elegant little squares not more than 14 by 14 inches in size. &quot;The traditional photo albums where you preserved cherished photos from family milestones are disappearing. They are all there as feeds on Instagram and Facebook. Even so, I haven't seen printed versions of these digital photos in a gallery,&quot; says Hoon who has applied his lensman skills to craft quietly chic and flaneuresque vignettes of a lazy Roman holiday.</p> <p>Even though the pictures can't be scaled beyond a point—such are the limitations of iphoneography—the format holds the shape of things to come. One will be hard-pressed to find big-camera photos sharing space with mobile photographs in a white-cube gallery, but there's much happening in the world of smartphone photography which might make old warhorses and purists balk. There are regular contests by legacy magazines, classes and workshops on taking professional photos with cell phones and niche Instagram exhibitions. The unobtrusive and accessible nature of a handheld device is easily amenable to candid shots, its proponents claim. How soon till we can consider mobile photos employing the art of photography as fine art?</p> <p>'Across the Street' is on view at the Italian Cultural Centre till May 31.</p> Sat May 11 14:03:34 IST 2019 movie-industry-undergoing-resurgence-war-torn-iraq <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Waking up to the sounds of screeching sirens and loud explosions is nothing new to the people of war-torn Iraq. But, the ghost of better days lingers in the streets of the once-bustling towns. Amidst the gloom, people of this war-ravaged nation are hoping to see a resurrection of the lost art of cinema.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Iraq was introduced to the world of cinema in the 1950s. While commercial movies dominated till the 1970s, the Ba’ath party’s ascension to power nationalised Iraqi cinema. During this time, movies became a mere propaganda tool. Independent movies produced at this time were less in number. The lack of funding and technology challenged their survival.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Iran-Iraq war was a death knell to the country’s entertainment industry. Funding ceased to exist. In the years that followed, Iraq was in turmoil and looked forward to free itself from wars. Today, the situation in Iraq is different. There is more peace than conflicts in the country. And, Iraq hopes to see a revival of its once vibrant film industry.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Given Iraqis’ affinity towards arts and entertainment, the news of an Iraqi drama series airing this Ramadan season is good news. <i>The Hotel </i>is a 20-episode drama which was produced in Iraq after a gap of seven years. Mahmoud Abu Al-Abbas and Hassan Hosni, two of Iraq's leading actors, have returned, after several years of being away from the country to take part in <i><i>The Hotel</i>. </i>The drama series revolves around the contemporary issues of human trafficking, prostitution, and organ theft that engulf Iraq. Hamid al-Maliki, the screenwriter of the drama, is of the opinion that transgressive themes in the series will warn the people against social evils.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Beginning of this decade saw a new wave of Iraqi cinema. Mohamed Al-Daradji and Yahya Al-Allaq and other independent Iraqi directors are the proponents of this new wave. In over 15 years, they were the first to produce films in Iraq. They were met with questions like “Are you filming it for CNN?” by the local Iraqis, who are only used to seeing international media covering war scenes in their country</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><i style="font-size: 0.8125rem;">Son of Babylon, </i>released in 2010 was a huge step for Iraqi cinema. The movie is a candid representation of Iraq after Saddam Hussein’s fall. Shot entirely in Iraq, <i style="font-size: 0.8125rem;">Son of Babylon </i>was a feast to the Iraqi audience who had been deprived of the luxury of watching an indigenous movie for years. In an interview to <i style="font-size: 0.8125rem;">The Guardian</i>, Al-Daradji said, "We were not just making a film. I was making it for my family, for <a href="">Iraq</a>, for a nation which exists, but has not yet been discovered by the outside world. Which exists, arguably, only because we've filmed here."</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Other notable movies produced after 2010 includes award winning <i>Gift of my Father</i> by Salam Salman which bagged the Crystal Bear award for the best short film and ‘War Cannister’ by Yahya al-Allaq. These directors do not shy away from talking about social injustice, war crimes or religious extremism in their movies. The works of the Iraqi directors are highly applaudable, for they make their movies with meagre funding and bare minimum technology.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Movies have the potential to become a vehicle for change in Iraq. Indigenously made movies and series will have a huge role in the revival of Iraqi culture. Be it <i>Son of Babylon</i> or <i>The Hotel</i>, they lay a foundation for the brighter future of Iraq’s entertainment field. Maybe, a few years down the line, Bagdad, which was once the hub of music, poetry and other art forms, will regain its former glory through Iraq’s resurrecting film and drama industries.</p> Wed May 08 20:22:48 IST 2019 what-pushes-comedians-foray-into-horror-social-issues-genres <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Where do comedians go to have a good laugh? It is an oft heard opinion that some of the greatest comedians in the world have a serious and grave disposition in real life. Charlie Chaplin, Robin Williams and Rowan Atkinson have all been rumoured to be sober beings that made the world go ROFL. But since there have been no studies on comedians which would vouch for this supposition, scrutinising their works might be the only distinctive path to unravel the common factor in their lives.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Biswa Kalyan Rath, a 29-year-old stand-up comedian is a well-known face especially for his YouTube show called <i>Pretentious Movie Reviews, </i>which he hosted with fellow comedian Kanan Gill since April 2014. The now-defunct show was a major hit as the duo took sarcastic digs at Bollywood films, mixing it up with some good humour and scenes from the films.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Rath is an IITian with a surreal sense of humour and adept story-telling skills, which is sure to crack you up at any given time; even if you might be going through the saddest phase in your life. In October, 2017, he and Abhishekh Sengupta came out with a web-series on Amazon Prime called<i> Laakhon Mein Ek </i>[one in a million]. The second season of the series was released in April this year and the audience could not seem to have asked for more from comedian Rath. Such has been the brilliance with which the characters and plot were designed and the remarkable absence of humour in the plot is a surprising first from him. <i>Laakhon Mein Ek </i>essentially exposes the plight of Indians who are often tormented by the faulty or broken systems in the country. The stories are told through ordinary characters who transform into extra-ordinary heroes because of their convictions and decisions.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Another over-the-board comedian-turned script-writer cum director is Hollywood’s Jordan Peele who has conquered the minds of people with his comic strips on the show <i>Key and Peele</i> and also his most recent blockbuster hit horror films, <i>Us </i>(2019) and the Oscar winning<i> Get Out </i>(2017). In the films, the audience is introduced to the latent but unheard fears and insecurities of African-Americans through the life-like characterisation and a dark and nuanced plot of the movie. On <i>The Tonight Show</i>, hosted by Jimmy Fallon, Peele talked about finding inspiration for his horror films and recollected a memory from his school days.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“There was one trip I took with my school in ninth grade, and I told a scary story and it just got them. You know, the best laugh you have ever gotten in your life is nothing; when you get an audience to shudder and give you that feedback, it is so powerful. I felt like, 'Man, I am Freddy Krueger',&quot; he said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>An instance that inspired him to create <i>Get Out</i> was Barack Obama being elected president of the United States. He has been seen as one who still believes in the entrenched racism which will not disappear anywhere near this era, also called ‘post-racial’ since Obama’s rule. Peele has publicly admitted that he often felt like an outsider being a biracial and that in his school days, some of his classmates would not believe that his mother was white. He also added how he used to feel about sounding too “white” rather than black.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>A look at the lives and works of Peele and Raths show a common thread—an uncanny presence of the morbid trills evoked by displaced identities of the characters carefully portrayed by the observant.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The stories of displaced identities in both Rath’s and Peele’s works, a deliberate reflection of certain experiences and from the creators’ own lives, convey to the audience a message of how being unique and one in a million is seen by a “free” and “progressive” society. Aakash Gupta, the 16-year-old who forcefully joins an IIT coaching institute, Dr Shreya Pathare who battles corruption in the Indian medical world and Chris Washington who has to put up with maladies of a white supremacist family and the horrors that follow it are all projections of the “other” portrayed by the creators. And in a world where conformism is the key to survival, these characters stand out alone in their unflinching adamance as well as struggles.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Both Rath and Peele may seem to have gate-crashed into new realms and genres by exploring inspirations from real life and childhood experiences. But a more factual conclusion would be that their observational skills as comedians have elegantly matured to be transposed to other modes of story-telling.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Wed May 08 15:29:56 IST 2019 heartbreaking-story-noida-boy-who-died-mid-class-10-exams <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Vinayak Sreedhar, who idolised Stephen Hawking, scored nearly 100 in all the three subjects he appeared for during the CBSE 10 examination, and passed away in March before he could write the remaining two.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Sreedhar suffered from duchenne muscular dystrophy which is a genetic disorder characterised by progressive muscle degeneration and weakness.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>He scored 100 in English, 96 in Science and 97 in Sanskrit and could not appear for Computer Science and Social Studies.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Topping the class 10 board exams, becoming an astronaut and a trip to Rameswaram are among some of the unfulfilled wishes of Sreedhar, who was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy when he was two-years-old.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Duchenne muscular dystrophy is caused due to the absence of dystrophin, a protein that helps keep muscle cells intact.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The results for the class 10 Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) examination were announced on Monday.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Amity International School, Noida, student appeared for the exams under the general category and not the Children With Special Need (CWSN) category.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"His muscular movement was very limited. He could write slowly but since there is a time duration for exams he used a scribe to write English and Science exam. For Sanskrit, he insisted writing it himself. His body movement was restricted and he was wheelchair-bound, but his mind was very sharp and aspirations very high," Mamta Sreedhar, his mother, told PTI.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"He would always say I want to become an astronaut despite all the challenges and would say if Stephen Hawkings could go to Oxford and make a name in Cosmology I can go to space too. He was confident that he will be among top rankers. We were always amazed with his confidence and would encourage him further," she added.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Legendary British theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking also suffered from a motor neurone disease. Sreedhar had plans to visit Rameswaram temple near Kanyakumari after his exams were over.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"We are today in Rameshwaram and are going for darshan in the evening. It was his unfulfilled wish so we decided to not postpone the plans and do it for him," his mother said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>However, Vinayak Sreedhar is not the only one in his family to make his parents proud. His sister is an Indian Institute of Science (IISc) alumnus and is currently pursuing her Phd at the University of British Columbia on a fellowship.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>While Vinayak's father is vice president in GMR, his mother is a home maker by choice.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"I made this choice. My entire day revolved around him. From brushing his teeth to feeding him, I did it all myself but it was his willpower which always gave us the strength," his mother said.</p> Tue May 07 19:35:06 IST 2019 apocalypse-now-turns-40-rediscovering-genesis-of-film-classic <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <blockquote><p>The ocean rushes below as suddenly the LOUDSPEAKERS BLARE out Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries.</p> </blockquote> <p>So reads the screenplay for the 1979 war movie Apocalypse Now. It describes the sequence in which a squadron of American helicopters blasts Wagner while attacking a Viet Cong village during the Vietnam War.</p> <p>The scene would become one of the most iconic in cinema history – acknowledged, celebrated and parodied in countless subsequent films.</p> <p>On the occasion of the film’s 40th anniversary, director Francis Ford Coppola has now unveiled <a href="">Apocalypse Now: Final Cut</a>.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><figure><iframe width="440" height="260" src=";start=0" frameborder="0"></iframe> <figcaption><span class="caption">This scene from Apocalypse Now has been referenced in many movies since.</span></figcaption></figure></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h2>Apocalypse Now and film history</h2> <p>Apocalypse Now’s contribution to cinema history is not limited to the helicopter attack sequence. In 2004, this memorable <a href="">monologue uttered by Robert Duvall</a> as Lt. Colonel Kilgore was voted the <a href="">best-ever film speech</a> by a survey of 6,500 movie buffs.</p> <blockquote><p>You smell that? Do you smell that? Napalm, son. Nothing else in the world smells like that. I love the smell of napalm in the morning.</p> </blockquote> <p>The epic scale of the production, shot on location in the Philippines jungle, and Coppola’s operatic direction that brought together spectacular cinematography, a hypnotic soundtrack and brooding performances, make Apocalypse Now a major cinematic landmark.</p> <p>On its initial release 40 years ago, the film received mixed reviews. It was honoured with the Palme D’Or at Cannes but failed to win the Best Picture Academy Award. With time, it gradually acquired the status of a classic film. This was further reinforced in 2001 with the release, to much acclaim, of the extended version, <a href="">Apocalypse Now Redux</a>.</p> <p>This year marks another major turning point in the film’s history with Coppola’s release of <a href="">Apocalypse Now: Final Cut</a>. The film, which premiered at the 2019 <a href="">Tribeca Film Festival</a> in New York, has been described as “a new, never-before-seen restored version of the film … remastered from the original negative in 4K Ultra HD”.</p> <hr> <p><i><b>Read more: <a href="">Apocalypse now: our incessant desire to picture the end of the world</a></b></i></p> <hr> <h2>John Milius: from Nirvana Now to Apocalypse Now</h2> <p>Apocalypse Now is usually considered to be Coppola’s magnum opus, alongside The Godfather Part I and II. As producer, director and co-writer, he is regarded as the auteur of the film. In <a href="">Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse</a> (1991), his wife Eleanor Coppola’s documentary about the making of it, discussion of Apocalypse Now has tended to glorify Coppola as a genius filmmaker able to overcome all sorts of obstacles to bring his masterpiece to light.</p> <p>Most contemporary viewers might not be aware of the major contribution another, less known figure made to the film. <a href="">John Milius</a>, credited as co-writer of the film, was responsible for creating some of its most iconic moments, including the helicopter attack sequence. He also wrote some of the film’s most memorable lines, including “I love the smell of napalm” and “Charlie don’t surf”, and even the title itself.</p> <p>Although most contemporary film viewers have forgotten him, in the early 1970s Milius was a central figure of the so called <a href=";redir_esc=y">“New Hollywood”</a>, a moment in American cinema history characterised by an anti-establishment, innovative approach to filmmaking. During this period, Milius achieved international fame as creator of cinematic icons such as Dirty Harry (1971) and Jeremiah Johnson (1973).</p> <hr> <p><i><b>Read more: <a href="">Big Wednesday: four decades between surfing and myth making</a></b></i></p> <hr> <p>It was Milius who had the <a href="">idea</a>, during his studies at the University of Southern California Film School in the 1960s, of making a film loosely based on Joseph Conrad’s 1899 novella <a href="">Heart of Darkness</a>. Milius thought the Vietnam War, which was raging at the time, would provide the perfect setting for an adaptation of Conrad’s story. Before him, a number of filmmakers, including Orson Welles, had <a href="">tried and failed to adapt</a> Heart of Darkness. Milius was intrigued by the possibility of making history by being the first to succeed.</p> <p>Milius came up with the title of the film before actually writing the screenplay. He said the title Apocalypse Now emerged out of his own contrarian spirit and rejection of the hippy culture that was increasingly gaining terrain in late 1960s California. In <a href="">Milius’s words</a>:</p> <blockquote><p>I had the title, Apocalypse Now, because the hippies at the time had these buttons that said Nirvana Now. I loved the idea of a guy having a button with a mushroom cloud on it that said Apocalypse Now. You know, let’s bring it on, full nuke.</p> </blockquote> <h2>Milius envisions the Vietnam hell</h2> <p>Milius wrote extensive notes and recorded stories of returning Vietnam veterans, but did not write the screenplay until contracted to do so in 1969. During this period, he discussed the project at length with fellow USC student George Lucas, who was interested both in the Vietnam War and in directing the film. In 1969, Coppola, who had studied film at the University of California Los Angeles and was a close friend of both Milius and Lucas, established independent production company American Zoetrope, which would fund a number of innovative projects, including Apocalypse Now.</p> <hr> <p><i><b>Read more: <a href="">How science fiction and fantasy can help us make sense of the world</a></b></i></p> <hr> <p>According to the original arrangement, Lucas would direct the film while Milius would write the screenplay. The story was conceived as a journey into the horrors of the Vietnam War and was influenced by Milius’s passion for the classics of world literature, particularly Homer’s Odyssey and Dante’s Inferno.</p> <p>While writing the screenplay, Milius imagined a <a href="">soundtrack that would include Wagner and The Doors</a>. Milius’s idea to use Wagner for the helicopter attack was inspired by real events, as American troops sometimes played rock and roll music from loud speakers during the Vietnam War as a way of intimidating the enemy. The Doors, who had <a href="">written several songs about the madness of the war</a>, provided another major source of inspiration.</p> <p>In Milius’s original screenplay, rogue American Colonel Kurtz (played in the film by Marlon Brando) is a big fan of Jim Morrison and his band. In one of the sequences of the original script, Kurtz orders his soldiers to blast <a href=";q=light+my+fire+the+doors">Light My Fire</a> by The Doors on big speakers as their compound is attacked by the North Vietnamese army. Eventually, Coppola never shot the scene featuring Light My Fire, but used extracts of another Doors hit, The End, in both the opening and closing sequences of the film.</p> <h2>Milius and Coppola: clashing auteurs</h2> <p>Originally, Milius and Lucas envisioned Apocalypse Now as a pseudo-documentary shot on location in 16mm and black and white. They were interested in emulating the realist aesthetic of films such as Gillo Pontecorvo’s <a href="">The Battle of Algiers</a> (1966) and <a href="">The Anderson Platoon</a> (1967), a documentary about the Vietnam War directed by one of Milius’s favourite filmmakers, <a href="">Pierre Schoendoerffer</a>. Milius and Lucas intended to bring cast and crew to Vietnam where they would intersperse a mix of scripted and improvised scenes of performers interacting with real soldiers and events.</p> <p>But eventually, Lucas abandoned the project to direct Star Wars (1977) and was replaced by Coppola, who radically changed the original approach to Apocalypse Now. He envisioned a large-budget spectacular production.</p> <p>After Coppola completed revisions of the screenplay in 1975, Milius spoke out about the two filmmakers’ conflicting creative visions. Milius was particularly critical about Coppola’s attempt to transform Apocalypse Now into an anti-war film and accused the San Francisco-based director of rejecting the creative input of his collaborators. In a 1976 <a href="">interview</a> Milius claimed:</p> <blockquote><p>Francis Coppola has this compelling desire to save humanity when the man is a raving fascist, the Bay Area Mussolini.</p> </blockquote> <h2>Milius’ legacy</h2> <p>But a comparison between the 1969 and <a href="">1975 versions of the screenplay</a> dispels the myth promoted by Milius that Coppola completely rewrote it. More importantly, the final film version was far from what Milius contemptuously defined as “an anti-war movie”. Many scenes and lines created by Milius remained virtually untouched and Coppola retained Milius’ key themes, in particular the conception of war as simultaneously exciting and horrific, the ultimate expression of man’s “inherent bestiality”.</p> <p>Later in his career, Milius changed his opinion of the film, expressing appreciation of Coppola’s revisions and describing the director as “a genius on a par with Orson Welles”.</p> <p>For their work on Apocalypse Now, Milius and Coppola received a nomination for best screenplay at the 1979 Academy Awards. In the 1980s, <a href="">Milius went on to direct</a> films such as <a href="">Conan the Barbarian</a> (1982) and <a href="">Red Dawn</a> (1984), but a combination of commercial flops and health problems would lead to the gradual decline of his career in the 1990s and 2000s.</p> <p>Milius is now considered a minor figure in film history. For creating many of the ideas behind Apocalypse Now, however, he should be remembered as a major contributor to one of the most influential stories ever told on the big screen.<img src="" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;"></p> <p><span><a href="">Alfio Leotta</a>, Senior Lecturer, <i><a href="">Victoria University of Wellington</a></i></span></p> <p>This article is republished from <a href="">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="">original article</a>.</p> Tue May 07 15:44:58 IST 2019 viola-desmond-the-face-on-canada-new-10-dollar-bill <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>When the International Bank Note Society (IBNS) selected Canada’s new $10 note as the ‘Bank Note of the Year’ for 2018, it brought to prominence an important and inspiring figure from Canada’s troubled past with racial segregation—Viola Desmond.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Unsung heroes lurk in the corners of history that we were never taught about in schools and colleges. It is in the subjective nature of history to glorify a few and ignore the many.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Desmond is one such figure mainstream that history chose to ignore. But, 54 years after her death, her legacy refuses to budge. Her story demands to be known.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Desmond fought against segregation laws that existed in Canada much before the famous Rosa Parks made her mark in the US. While Rosa Parks came to be known as the ‘first lady of civil rights’, Desmond remained far from getting the recognition she deserved.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Desmond was a Canadian businesswoman of black origin. She entered the field of cosmetic business during a time when black women seldom came to the forefront in Canada. Her journey towards civil rights activism began as a result of an incident she faced on account of her black identity.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>On a cold November night in 1946, Desmond’s car broke down, en route to a business meeting. While the car was taken for repair, Desmond decided to go see a movie in Roseland Theatre to kill some time. Due to her poor eye-sight, Desmond wanted a floor seat. As the theatre followed segregation laws, her request was denied. The floor area was reserved for the whites, they said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Despite the disapproval of the theatre authorities, Desmond went ahead and sat in the place reserved for whites.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The police were summoned, who then dragged Desmond out of the theatre, injuring her in the process. Desmond spent the whole night in a prison cell, pondering the injustice that had been done to her. Her case was brought to the court, twice. Unfortunately for her and for the Canadian Black community, she was found guilty both the times.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Desmond’s fate was a wake-up call for the black community in Nova Scotia, the place she belonged to. Protests against segregation laws and the need for equal civil rights took a new form under Desmond. This eventually led to Nova Scotia getting rid of segregation laws in 1954.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Desmond is important not just to the history of Canada but also to the history of the rest of the world, which practised differential treatment of people on grounds of their origin, religion, and skin colour. It was only through the efforts of Wanda Robson, Desmond’s sister, that the world came to know about Desmond and her ground-breaking story.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>On April 15, 2010, the Nova Scotia government granted Desmond a posthumous “free” pardon. A public declaration and apology followed the pardon from the then Premier Darrell Dexter, who indicated that the charges against Desmond should never have been filed and that her conviction was a miscarriage of justice.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The long-forgotten story of Viola Desmond is now brought back to life. In honour of her contribution to Canadian history, Canada’s finance minister, Bill Morneau, selected Desmond to be featured on the new ‘vertical’ $10 bank note of 2018.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>This currency bill was awarded the ‘Bank Note of the Year Award’ for 2018 by the International Bank Note Society.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Viola Desmond’s is not an isolated case. History has repeatedly turned a blind eye towards many who deserved recognition for their contribution towards changing the course of events for good. C.S. Lewis was right when he said, “History isn't just the story of bad people doing bad things. It's quite as much a story of people trying to do good things. But somehow, something goes wrong.”</p> Mon May 06 18:36:37 IST 2019 plastic-as-fees-this-assam-school-shows-the-way-in-preserving-environment <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>At a time when private schools are competing against each other by hiking tuition fees, a school in Assam's Guwahati is imparting the right lessons in social commitment and environmental education. The school, named Akshar, accepts waste plastic as the only form of fees from its students.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Situated in the picturesque Pamohi of Guwahati, Akshar is the brain child of two young minds who are now a couple — Mazin Mukhtar and Parmita Sarma. Mukhtar, born in New York, came to India in 2015. Meeting Sarma was an outcome of his vision to open a school with a difference. Mukhtar and Sarma found similarities in their goals and ideas of a school different from the traditional ways of teaching. Thus Akshar was founded in 2016.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The school's unique fee structure of “at least 25 plastic materials a week”, is part of a larger mission. When asked about the idea behind Akshar, Mukhtar told THE WEEK that the main goal of the school was to “address poverty”.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Low standards of schooling are forcing Indian families to remain poor across generations. These families end up sending their kids to under-performing schools, in turn resulting in students dropping out. These students often end up becoming child brides or would end up being unemployed. “The idea of Akshar is to build a creative pipeline from school to employment”, said Mukhtar. With the unique way of 'meta teaching' students are given an opportunity to get employed. Akshar Forum disrupts the cycle of poverty by employing dropouts and at-risk teens to teach younger kids.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Challenges</b></p> <p>Convincing parents to send their kids to school was a difficult task for the couple. Parents were not sure how the new teaching method would work. Akshar’s teachers even had the experience where parents came and asked them to be stricter. “They were sceptical. Most of the parents don’t see learning as something enjoyable. But with Akshar, students enjoy learning,” Mukhtar said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>There was also an added difficulty of most of the kids being school dropouts and going to work in quarries to earn a living. The new challenge was to make them feel that school was the better option. Akshar developed a method where the older kids are encouraged to train the younger kids. “The older kids are given toy currencies, which are kind of like the monopoly (boardgame) currency” said Mukhtar. “The students use the toy currencies to buy snacks, sports equipment, etc, from the school store.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Unique curriculum</b></p> <p>Another option for the students to earn money was to work in the campus recycling centre sponsored by the northeast-focused Education Research and Development Foundation. The centre uses the plastic collected from students as fees to make Eco-bricks. Twenty to 40 packets of non-recyclable, dry, plastic packets are sequestered into a single plastic bottle to make a sturdy Eco-brick. The Eco-bricks are later used for various construction purposes in the school. The older students who work in the centre would be paid on an hourly basis.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Akshar also became unique with its curriculum that combines conventional academics with vocational training, job training and business training. It interestingly combines carpentry with mathematics, solar technology with physics and embroidery with economics. The Akshar model aims at development of communities vis-a-vis maintaining the environment through its students. Their vision is to reduce poverty and improve the living standards of people through quality education. The idea of development for them is through self-sufficiency and safeguarding the nature. Moreover, the students are given training to become skilled, compassionate and better human beings.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The grades or standards in which the students study at Akshar are categorised on the basis of their IQ levels and are not age-specific, unlike other schools. As a result, each grade may accommodate students of different age groups as per their knowledge levels.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In addition, the school also runs an animal shelter. Over the past six months, the students and the people associated with Akshar have sheltered 20 dogs. They have even found homes for the dogs after vaccinating and deworming them. The teens are entrusted with taking care of the puppies, feeding them, applying medicines and taking care of the dogs for some days after their sterilisation. The school currently shelters two puppies who are under medication. All others have successfully found new homes with the help of these kind-hearts.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Corporate sponsors have also stepped in to help students facing financial difficulties. In 2018, fees for students were covered by Oil India Ltd, while planned reform in Delhi schools is funded by Mumbai-based organization Motivation for Excellence.</p> <p>Akshar forum has plans to expand the model throughout India. They have successfully replicated their model in one of south Delhi’s government schools. They are planning to expand it to five more schools in Delhi this year and are moving towards achieving the dream of setting up the Akshar model in 100 schools in five years.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Sun May 05 12:24:53 IST 2019 burkini-clad-halima-aden-sports-illustrated-cover-makes-history <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Somali-American model Halima Aden made history again by becoming the first woman to wear a hijab and burkini in the <i>Sports Illustrated</i> swimsuit issue. This is not the first time that Aden is making headlines. In 2016, she became the first contestant in Miss Minnesota USA to wear a hijab and burkini and reach the semifinal stage of the pageant. In March this year, Aden became one of the three black hijabi models, alongside Ikram Abdi Omar and Amina Adan, to feature on the cover of <i>Vogue</i> Arabia, for the magazine’s first group hijabi cover.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In a behind-the-scenes video, Aden said, “Growing up in the United States, I never really felt represented because I never could flip through a magazine and see a girl who was wearing a hijab.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In a video shared on Twitter by <i>Sports Illustrated</i>, Aden referred to herself as a “burkini babe”. Describing it as a “dream-come-true” moment, Aden said that she is “not afraid to be the first”. She believes that “it’s sending a message to her community and the world that women of all different backgrounds, looks, upbringings…can stand together and be celebrated”.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>A Muslim Somali-American, Aden chooses to wear the hijab and is a symbol of fashion and beauty, not being tied to a sole definition. She was born in the Kakuma refugee camp in northeastern Kenya and moved to the United States at the age of seven. For the photo shoot, she returned to Kenya and was photographed by Yu Tsai on Watamu Beach.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Aden’s popularity is not limited to aesthetics but is also termed as a market-led move. The Islamic fashion industry is set to be worth GBP 267 billion by 2021, with modest fashion dominating the AW18 runways of Gucci, Calvin Klein, Alexander Wang, Versace, Chanel, Balenciaga, Dior and more.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>This is an important fashion trend as the female Muslim dress code has always been the target of populist policies across Europe and Asia. In August 2016, the photos of French police officers forcing a Muslim woman to take off her modest swimwear aka the “burkini” at a Cannes beach elicited varied response across the world. The French fashion obsession followed the deadly attack in Nice after which a wave of xenophobia inspired 30 coastal districts to ban the burkini.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In September 2016, Bulgaria became the third European country, after France and Belgium, to ban the use of the niqab in public. It was followed by Austria in October 2017 and Denmark in May 2018. The Norwegian parliament voted for a niqab ban in all educational settings in June 2018. In addition, some European regional governments, including those of Lombardy (Italy) and Tessin (Switzerland) have recently implemented similar bans.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In Arab countries, the situation is no different. Women are not allowed to swim in public swimming pools in Saudi Arabia. At public beaches, they are restricted to the abaya, which is a full-length black covering that is to be worn by those who choose to dip their toes in the water. In other Gulf countries too, bikinis and swimsuits are only allowed in private beaches and resorts.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>However, the real craze surrounding the burkini has nothing to do with apparel choices, and arguably little to do with the women themselves. It started as a pragmatic sportswear option that has been painted as a Muslim extremist ‘provocation’.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Many argue that the mass adoption of modest garments such as the hijab or niqab is an act of resistance against Western neo-colonialism, sexual promiscuity, or the ubiquitous male gaze. In some cases, it also acts as a decision driven by piety.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Nevertheless, the historic move of Halima Aden becoming the first woman to wear a hijab and burkini on a <i>Sports Illustrated</i> swimsuit issue sends across the message that “the idea of beauty is vast and subjective”. M.J. Day, the editor of the swimsuit issue, said in a statement that she and Aden know that “women are so often perceived to be one way or one thing based on how they look or what they wear”. What matters more, she said, is whether you feel your most beautiful and confident in a burkini or a bikini, and to consider yourself as worthy.&nbsp;</p> Tue Apr 30 16:36:09 IST 2019 when-pandit-ravi-shankar-turned-music-composer-for-bollywood <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Bollywood producer-filmmaker Chetan Anand made his debut as a director with <i>Neecha Nagar</i> in 1946. Legendary sitarist Ravi Shankar started his career as a music director with <i>Neecha Nagar</i>. Nine months after <i>Neecha Nagar,</i> he also scored for K.A. Abbas's <i>Dharti Ke Lal</i>. <i>Neecha Nagar </i>won the Grand Prix at the first Cannes Film Festival. Both with Indian People's Theatre Association backgrounds, Chetan Anand was Chetan to Ravi Shankar and K.A. Abbas was Khawja to the sitar icon.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Whilst working together, Ravi Shankar was impressed by Chetan Anand’s sense of music. For one intense sequence, Ravi Shankar played three sitar counters. Chetan Anand requested Ravi Shankar to opt for a violin piece, too. The composer obliged the filmmaker without any hesitation. The result was superb. For the climax, Ravi Shankar opted for Indian drums, dholak, the sitar and bamboo flute. The music of <i>Neecha Nagar</i> earned international acclaim. Legendary music director Maurice Jarr defined the music as 'objectivity mingled well with a romantic rebel touch'.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>For <i>Dharti Ke Lal</i>, Ravi Shankar gave a different kind of composition. He was not willing to compose songs for the film based on the famine of 1942. The novel <i>Nabanna</i> by Bijon Bhattacharya was a heart-touching realistic tale of the famine. Yet, keeping commercial and box office reasons in mind, Abbas opted for songs. Ravi Shankar did full justice and his use of a single sitar counter to actor David whistling in the night with a licentious attitude gave goosebumps. He used mainly the sitar and bamboo flute for the film’s background score. In 1952, Chetan Anand conducted an experiment unknown to Indian cinema. He assigned the task of music direction of <i>Aandhiyan</i> to Ali Akbar Khan. He was Alubhai for his dear Chetan. The title and background score of<i> Aandhiyan </i>had Ali Akbar Khan’s sarod, Ravi Shankar’s sitar and Pannalal Ghosh’s flute.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>It is a tragedy the trio of Chetan Anand, K.A. Abbas and Ravi Shankar never worked together later. Viewing their efforts and being influenced by them, Satyajit Ray and Tapan Sinha opted for Ravi Shankar to score for the<i> Apu Trilogy</i>,<i> Paras Pathar</i> and<i> Kabuliwala</i>. Ravi Shankar often said that it was Chetan Anand who got him to learn the art of composing film music. Ravi Shankar scored haunting melodies rendered by Lata Mangeshkar and Mohd Rafi for <i>Anuradha </i>and <i>Goda</i>n. The scores of <i>Meerabai</i> were works of a tired genius. Similarly, the musical score for <i>Genesis</i> lacked his earlier golden touch. Ravi Shankar at this stage did state that film music was no more his forte.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Not to forget Maurice Jarr’s comments on the music of <i>Neecha Nagar</i> that it did convey a feeling of revolution. In an exclusive interview to a leading French publication in the backdrop of 60<sup>th</sup> anniversary of the film in 1997, Ravi Sankar said that Chetan Anand was a source of creative inspiration and Abbas, a writer-director with true grit.</p> Tue Apr 30 15:05:49 IST 2019 Clouds-of-Wings-Celebrating-life-and-nature <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Back in 2015, in an interview with this reporter, contemporary Gond artist Venkat Raman Singh Shyam was miffed how the mainstream media continued to refer to the artistic output of his community, Pardhan Gond, with labels like folk and tribal. He wasn't happy that Gond artists were identified only by the name of their community. "Why should there be a difference between the amount that we get and what other modern contemporary artists get? Ours is not Gond art. It is very much contemporary art...Kala toh kala hoti hai (art is, after all, art)."</p> <p>Since then, he has released his acclaimed autobiographical work in collaboration with S. Anand, called 'Finding My Way', where he revisits his uncle's work, the legendary Jangarh Singh Shyam who is credited with creating a new, more vigorous form of Gond art practice called 'Jangarh Kalam' in the 1970s. Today, there are more shows featuring the next generation of Gond artists in mainstream urban galleries, blooming as they are in the footsteps of the pioneering Jangarh Singh Shyam. Venkat's most visible Google bio simply reads "contemporary Indian artist who works with murals, etchings, mixed media and animation" . After having exhibited widely, including in the National Gallery of Canada and Virginia Tech’s Perspective Gallery and Pullman Hotel in New Delhi, Venkat is back with a body of new works in another solo titled 'Clouds of Wings' at the Art Alive Gallery.</p> <p>In his new set of works, the world as he knew, a world once peopled with beloved gods, familiar trees, birds and beasts, seem to have shifted into a different time zone. In the ideas presented in this exhibition, Venkat explores identity and memory through paintings that celebrate life and the blazing intensity of nature which is ever-evolving. "The primeval elements are now subsumed under modern sensibilities, the motifs and textures now appear more stylised in the way he visualises the forms. In the paintings, the trees are a part of a larger forest, familiar from his memories...The present pictorial space evokes those faraway times and conveys the cultural beliefs and faith that were such an intimate part of his life. Yet the trees are being felled, the birds have flown off to other places and sing no more. Venkat transforms the real and the memory world into the core of his work; it is against this personal history that we must view the works, layered with the nostalgic reflections on what was once the migrant’s beloved homeland ," says the curatorial note by art curator and collector Ina Puri.</p> <p>For three years, Venkat apprenticed with Jangarh in Bhopal where he was born. He wanted to eke out on his own as an artist, so he came to Delhi in 1991 and took up a number of odd jobs before returning to Bhopal to paint hoardings.</p> <p>There was a time when Gond art beyond Jangarh did not find many buyers. Artists like Venkat are changing the narrative.</p> <p>'Clouds of Wings' is on view this 30 May at Art Alive Gallery in New Delhi.&nbsp;</p> Mon Apr 29 22:25:48 IST 2019 man-who-walked-17000-km-across-india-to-end-child <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>One man. One mission. A 17,000km walk to spread awareness. This is the story of Ashish Sharma, a 29-year-old man from Delhi who works relentlessly with his Duayen Foundation to eradicate child begging from Indian society. His philosophy is that working on resolving this one issue can effectively put children in school and eliminate many associated problems such as child trafficking, child prostitution, child labouring, rag picking, drug mafia, amongst a slew of others. His sharp focus and unwavering determination makes him a true Indian hero.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Excerpts from an interview</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>What inspired you to start the Duayen Foundation?</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>One day, as I was returning from work I saw an extremely thin and malnourished child begging on the streets. Sadly this is a common sight in India. But that day I felt like I had to do something about it, so I took the child home, fed him, gave him some clothes and enrolled him in school with the help of an NGO. This action prompted me to do the same for eight more kids, but I realised that for each child I rescued, there was one more helpless child somewhere in the country. Thus, with an aim to create an impact on a larger scale, I decided to start the Duayen Foundation.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>I had envisioned the Duayen Foundation in 2009, but it only got registered in 2017. The idea behind the name for the Foundation was that if you do something good for people, you shall receive ‘Duayen’ or blessings. Through my work and the Foundation, I hope to set an example that it is possible for any individual to initiate and be the change they wish to see.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Could you give us a glimpse into the Unmukt India Campaign?</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Unmukt India Campaign entails a 17,000km walk to spread awareness about the issue of child begging spanning all 29 states, seven union territories and 4,900 villages. It had flagged off in August 2017 and took me more than one and a half years to complete. The concept behind the walk was that I’d try to meet as many people as I could and try to create a psychological impact.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Why did you choose this particular method to spread awareness about the issue, i.e., by traversing on foot?</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>If we refer to Indian culture and history, we can see that it is defined by figures who travelled by foot to educate the population about their causes. Examples include Adi Sankaracharya, Swami Vivekananda, Guru Nanak, etc. Being a spiritual person myself, I believe in the learnings we can imbibe from such instances and the scriptures. This encouraged me to decide upon this method to spread awareness. Further, what I have experienced is that journeying by foot facilitates random interactions with people. Such interactions formed the backbone of my campaign, since it allowed me to connect with people in an extremely grounded and natural setting, which I feel has the ability to create a lasting impact.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>What were some of the difficulties you faced during the walk?</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Initially, when I had just started out on this journey, I did face confidence issues regarding whether I would be able to complete the walk; I had my doubts and fears that took a lot of mental strength to overcome. Then, once I actually began my journey, I faced problems with regard to sustenance and shelter. With the limited resources I had, it was not possible to plan the entire roadmap for such a venture, so there were times I starved, there were times I did not have a place to sleep. But, once I started the walk, I knew that I wanted to complete it at all costs. Turning back was not an option for me.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>There was one incident in Madhya Pradesh where I actually got kidnapped. I had gone to meet a spiritual leader, who did not let me leave the premises of his building after our meeting. He wanted me to stay for an extended period so that I could serve at his place and work for his causes. I begged to be freed, but they kept me there against my will for an entire night. Threats were fired my way. I somehow managed to escape the next day, but the incident still haunts me. But, being a strong believer that everything happens for a reason, I feel this incident was probably mandated to teach me a valuable life lesson. That night, my ego was completely eliminated. I was able to appreciate the value of a lifetime and got more convinced to utilise my time well and keep working towards my cause.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>I was also diagnosed with jaundice four times during the span of my walk. However, I felt all these were just minor problems compared to the bigger issue I was championing. Thus, the larger picture kept me going forward!</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>You have travelled the entire country and must surely have accumulated a lot of experiences. Can you narrate any one incident of your choice and tell us why it resonates?</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>It is so hard to pick just one incident since every single interaction I have had has added value to the campaign.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>How has the reception towards your initiative been?</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Honestly, I have had mixed responses to my venture. While some people I met were impressed by my bravery to initiate a campaign of this magnitude, others were sceptical. They questioned my method, questioned what would change just because I conducted a walk.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>I have also met many government officials during the span of my walk. They were also extremely supportive of my venture. While, through such meetings, I wanted to bring to light the pathetic condition of these kids and try to incite the government to take action, my appeal to them was also from a humanitarian point of view. I believe each one of us has a responsibility towards society and that my job does not end just because I alerted the officials.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>I was also fortunate to meet Rajinikanth. In fact, we have now tied up with ‘Shree Dayaa Foundation’, which is an initiative to prevent child abuse, child trafficking and exploitation, spearheaded by his wife, Latha Rajinikanth.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>We have also managed to garner positive responses from our ongoing Twitter Campaigns.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>What about funding for the mission?</b></p> <p>The only source of funding was what was provided to me by two of my school friends. I live a very simple life, and I adhered to these principles during the walk also. I ate simple food, dressed modestly and did not indulge in any luxuries. Then there were those random acts of kindness by strangers who would offer me food alongside encouragement to keep going.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The main reason why I did not consider raising funds before embarking on the mission was because I believe funds don’t matter if one is courageous enough to face whatever comes their way. There is a common notion that things are possible only if you have the backing of money. I disproved that theory. I also wanted to prove by example that it is possible to overcome any adversity if one has the will to do so. A representation of mind over matter, if you will!</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>What is your vision for the Foundation post the walk?</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Our short-term plan is to hold a two-day event in Delhi on August 24. We hope to bring together 10 lakh people who will walk together to show solidarity towards abolishing this issue from our nation. The concept behind this is to make people aware about the power of spreading awareness. Post the two-day walk, each person who participates will act as an ambassador for the cause, utilizing the activities of their day-to-day lives as a platform to spread awareness, be it on their daily commute by metro or at a social gathering. This will allow the cause to spread amongst more people, who can in turn spread the message.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Our long-term plan is to work on our website, which will offer a sustainable channel through which people can alert us about children in need, who we can then rescue and offer the care they need. We are trying to create a self-sufficient system by integrating schools, hospitals, police stations, NGOs, rehabilitation centres and district magistrates within every 5 km radius.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>How has this journey been for you, from a personal standpoint?</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>I quit a comfortable job as an engineer in order to undertake this venture. There was no guarantee as to how the venture would pan out, but I took the plunge anyway, because I knew excuses would keep coming, but if I had to do it, I had to do it now.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The entire experience has been a huge learning opportunity for me. I have grown so much as a person. This journey has helped me to develop the virtues of compassion and patience; I am so much calmer now, and have developed the grit to be able to face any situation.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Few pearls of wisdom for our readers?</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>I can share what my three-step approach to handling events such as this is. The first step is ‘magnification’. Go out, do adequate research about the issue you are passionate about, collate information and then spread it. For instance, we were able to make the issue of child begging a national movement. The next thing to do is ‘channelise’. I believe being able to channelise your thoughts and efforts to create something productive is an art. I am currently in this process of channelizing my efforts to take the movement to the next level. The final thing is ‘outlook’. It is about defining what the outlook of your campaign should be, who it aims to help, who it aims to garner support from and what your approach to solving an issue is. Having a methodical structure to tackle an issue will help to make sense of the problem and make it easier to tackle the problem areas to find effective solutions.&nbsp;</p> Tue Apr 30 10:46:24 IST 2019 five-unpublished-works-of-satyajit-ray-to-be-unveiled-from-2020 <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Fans and followers of Satyajit Ray have cause to celebrate, as five unpublished works of the film maestro and author are set to see the light of day from 2020 onwards.</p> <p>The titles mainly comprise unpublished essays and illustrations, a senior official of a publishing house said.</p> <p>"Translations of Ray's 'Tarini Khuro' and many of his illustrated works, which remain unseen till date, are also among them," he said.' Tarini Khuro' is a fictional character by Ray</p> <p>The works will be published by Penguin Random House India under the aegis of The Penguin Ray Library.</p> <p>"The Penguin Ray Library will give his works a unique look. The new titles will be presented in a special layout with quintessential aesthetics inspired by Ray's sensibilities," the official said.</p> <p>As an author, Ray had created immensely popular characters in the detective sleuth 'Feluda' and scientist 'Professor Shonku'.</p> <p>Ray, the recipient of 32 national film awards and several other international honours -- including an Honorary Oscar in 1992 -- also penned numerous short stories and novels.</p> <p>"I really can't wait for 2020 now. Ray's 'Pather Panchali' actually inspired me to read the original novel written by Bibhutibhushan Bandyopadhyay.</p> <p>"Most of his film adaptations encouraged people to revisit their literary sources, instead of the other way around. That was something really unique about him," said Nairwita Bandyopadhyay, a professor and an avid reader.</p> Sun Apr 28 13:47:38 IST 2019