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Ashoke Pandit lauds PM Modi’s vision for harnessing Indian cinema's soft power

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Mumbai, May 27 (IANS) Ashok Pandit, producer of ‘The Accidental Prime Minister’ (2020) and president of the Indian Film and Television Directors Association, has lauded Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his far-sightedness and vision in relation to harnessing the soft power of Indian cinema.

The Prime Minister had dwelt at length on this subject in his exclusive interview with IANS on Monday. He disclosed how he reached out to members of the Hindi film fraternity, knowing fully well that some of them thought differently from him and the BJP, because he wanted to amplify the soft power of Indian cinema across the world.

Reacting to PM Modi’s statement, Pandit told IANS that India is fortunate to have a visionary Prime Minister like Narendra Modi.

“He thinks digital, he turned India into a digital nation,” Pandit said. “He recently honoured influencers with awards and he is the only politician to do that. Then he met people who are into gaming. These are the things that are in vogue and form the ecosystem of entertainment.”

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He added: “At the end of the day, actors, directors, writers and social media influencers are all entertainers. PM Modi is the man of today. Look how he completely changed the way the censor board operates.”

Pandit said PM Modi had an active interest in cinema since the time he was the Chief Minister of Gujarat.

“Today, the world looks at India. Earlier, we used to look up to the West. Just a few days ago we got three major awards at the Cannes Film Festival. ‘RRR’ won an Oscar for Best Song,” Pandit said to amplify PM Modi’s point about the soft power of Indian cinema. And for getting it, unlike prime ministers in the past, Pandit described PM Modi as “truly a master communicator.”

–IANS

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Mohanlal elected unopposed as President of actors body AMMA for second term

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Kochi, June 19 (IANS) Superstar Mohanlal has been elected unopposed as the President of the Association of Malayalam Movie Artistes (AMMA) for a second term of three years.

His election came after the last date of withdrawal of nominations ended Tuesday.

Upcoming star Unni Mukundan was also elected unopposed as the Treasurer of the AMMA.

However, elections will be held for the posts of the General Secretary, two Vice Presidents, and the Joint Secretary.

Edavela Babu, who has been the General Secretary of the AMMA for a while, opted out this time, and popular character actor Siddique sought to succeed him. But Kuku Paramaseshweran and Unni Shivapal also entered the fray. For the two Vice President’s posts, there are three candidates – veteran actor Jagdish, Manju Pillai, and Jayan Cherthala.

Likewise, Baburaj and Anoop Chandran are in the race for the Joint Secretary’s post.

The elections will be held alongside the Annual General Body Meeting to be held here on June 30.

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Meanwhile, according to sources, a nomination for the post of President was filed by a panel led by Paramaseshweran, but this was withdrawn at the last moment, enabling Mohanlal to get elected unopposed.

The AMMA has 506 members, of which around 120 get a monthly dole of Rs 5,000 each. Anyone not drawing the monthly pension is eligible to contest for the various posts starting from the President to that of a member of its Committee.

–IANS

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Sri Lankan film with Malayalam stars shows hell can be next door to 'Paradise'

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New Delhi, June 19 (IANS) As Sri Lankan filmmaker Prasanna Vithanage’s award-winning film ‘Paradise’, featuring Malayalam star Roshan Mathew and Darshana Rajendran in the lead roles, is set to be released in India on June 28, he is excited that finally, the general public will get to see it.

The movie set in the backdrop of Sri Lanka’s 2022 economic, and which won the Kim Jiseok Award for Best Film at the Busan Film Festival, is being presented by Mani Ratnam’s production and distribution house, Madras Talkies.

‘Paradise’ revolves around a visiting Indian couple — Amritha (Darshana Rajendran), a video blogger, and her film-producer husband Keshav (Roshan Mathew) — who arrive in the economic crisis-wracked but picturesque Sri Lanka to celebrate their fifth wedding anniversary and experience a ‘Ramayana tour’.

A robbery in their bungalow jettison their plan, for they lose their mobile phones and laptops.

When they approach the local cop, Sergeant Bandara, and put pressure on him to act fast, he produces three unemployed men as suspects, and Keshav identifies them as culprits, even though their faces were covered during the robbery.

One of the suspects lands in hospital after police torture and ultimately dies. The couple are forced to confine themselves to the bungalow and that is when they realise how far they had moved away from each other. While Amrita cherishes the beautiful surroundings, Keshav, with a permanent frown, gets increasingly frustrated and cannot digest how she is so ‘unaffected’.

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The climax sees people from the village of the dead suspect attack the bungalow. Keshav and Amrita are forced to defend themselves. What transpires in the end — the force of ‘Sita’ — is bound to shock the viewer. The director maintains that “personal is political and vice versa”, hence the backdrop of the economic crisis.

A certain stillness envelops the film, its story, and treatment, making it truly very ‘international’. “Yes, the movie has been loved by the critics, but now comes the real challenge — will we be able to communicate what we want to the general public? And do not forget, we will be up against some big-ticket films,” Vithanage, for whom Chennai is a second home, told IANS.

Considering it is the first time that a Sri Lankan director’s film is getting a worldwide release, it is also an Indian film produced by Newton Cinema and the languages spoken in it include English, Malayalam, Tamil, Sinhala, and Hindi.

“Though the territory is Sri Lanka, it is an Indian movie,” the director reaffirmed.

Admitting he has been nurtured and groomed by Indian cinema, with the post-production of his films always going to Indian labs, not to mention working with Indian technicians for the past 27 years, Vithanage, who is considered one of the pioneers of the third generation

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of Sri Lankan cinema, has directed eight feature films and won 30 major national and international awards, besides enjoying commercial success.

“I think this is a natural step, working with Indian actors in Indian languages,” Vithanage said. “This story could not have happened to a European couple.”

Stressing that even while the two countries are distinct in many ways, they are deeply connected by history and culture.

The reasons for the scenario in which the Indian couple are pushed were manifold.

“As a filmmaker, I also want to bring forth my politics,” Vithanage said. “One must remember that politics does not confine itself only to elections. It comes into play in a marriage and in other interpersonal relationships. The larger politics of the economic crisis could creep into institutions such as marriage. These two are interconnected, not separate.”

While on the subject of politics, Vithanage said reconciliation between the Sinhalese and the Tamils in his country “remains a distant mirage”. And he should know, having made three films on one of the bloodiest civil wars in the world (between the Sri Lankan Army and the LTTE) — ‘August Sun’, ‘Death on a Full Moon Day’, which was the subject of a full-on censorship war, and ‘With You, Without You’.

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“Yes, we have shown the need for reconciliation in the three films, but there’s an absence of it on the ground,” Vithanage said. “Let us not forget that reconciliation is a political situation and to achieve it, political steps are paramount. There need to be solid political solutions. Artistes do not have the power for political solutions. They can only amplify the need for them.”

Immersed in theatre since childhood, this Sri Lankan director admits that the art form has been instrumental in shaping him as a filmmaker. He says that besides other things, it has taught him how to work with actors and bring out something that is not from his own experience or of the actors’.

“In a way, we try to bring forth a certain truth, an exercise that can be enigmatic. My understanding of how difficult the craft of acting is comes from theatre,” the director explained, adding that he expects nothing but spontaneity from his movie actors.

Presently working on a script (in Hindi) based on Fyodor Dostoevsky’s ‘The Gambler’, to be shot in Sri Lanka, Vithanage looks up to several Indian directors from diverse generations. “Adoor Gopalakrishnan, Ritwik Ghatak, Shyam Benegal, Anurag Kashyap and Gurvinder Singh are some of them,” he concluded.

–IANS

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Star cast of 'Udne Ki Aasha' thank fans as show completes 100 episodes

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Mumbai, June 19 (IANS) The lead actors of ‘Udne Ki Aasha’– Kanwar Dhillon and Neha Harsora — have expressed their excitement as the show completed the 100-episode milestone, saying “it speaks volumes about our content”.

Kanwar, who plays Sachin in the show, said: “It feels great that the show has completed 100 episodes. And you know what’s even more special? Since its launch just one week before the IPL, the show has managed to make its way to the top-five chart and consistently stayed there. I think that speaks volumes about our content and the connection the show has with the audience.”

“With time, I’m sure it’s going to rise even higher. And touch wood, the numbers speak for themselves. The love we are getting from the audience speaks for itself. I hope that just like we’ve completed 100 episodes, we will go on to complete 500 and then 1,000 episodes,” he added.

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Neha, who plays Sailee in the show, said: “It’s amazing that we have completed 100 episodes. I’m really happy that everyone on the set and off it is enjoying the show. Personally, it fills me with joy to be a part of this project. The production team is thrilled as well since this is their first show.”

Producer Rahul Kumar Tewary also expressed his delight at the achievement, emphasising the dedication and passion invested by the entire team.

“This is a reflection of the collective effort and commitment of everyone involved in ‘Udne Ki Aasha’. This is just the beginning and we have a long way to go. Kanwar and Neha have brought their characters to life with sincerity and conviction, contributing significantly to the show’s success,” he said.

Produced by Rahul Kumar Tewary in collaboration with Rolling Tales Production, ‘Udne Ki Aasha’ airs on Star Plus at 9 p.m.

–IANS

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As US lawmakers meet the Dalai Lama, upcoming film narrates story of Tibetan resistance

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Mumbai, June 19 (IANS) At a time when Tibet is in the news because of the meeting of US lawmakers with the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala, noted Tibetan filmmaker has announced the release of his upcoming film, ‘Four Rivers Six Ranges’, which promises to narrate the lesser-known story of Tibetan resistance and resilience.

The film, made by Tibetan refugees in India, the US, Canada and Nepal, sheds light on the journey of the Tibetan resistance group, 4R6R, which successfully escorted the Dalai Lama, avoiding the long arm of China’s People’s Liberation Army, to the Indian border on March 26, 1959.

Shenpenn Khymsar, a renowned Tibetan filmmaker, musician, and activist, who has helmed the film, has a history of using his art to highlight the Tibetan cause.

The announcement coincided with the visit by a US Congressional delegation led by House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul, and which included former Speaker Nancy Pelosi. They met the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala on Wednesday.

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The delegation’s visit highlighted the ongoing international interest and support for the cause of Tibetan autonomy and the human rights situation in the region.

The historical narrative of the Dalai Lama’s escape, depicted in Khymsar’s film, is not just a tale of the past, but a poignant reminder of the enduring struggle for freedom and justice of the Tibetan people.

That the struggle does not seem to have an easy resolution is evident from China’s warning that it would take “resolute measures” if President Joe Biden signs the bipartisan Resolve Tibet Act passed by the US Congress. The Act seeks to enhance US support for Tibet and promote a dialogue between the People’s Republic of China and the Dalai Lama for a peaceful resolution of the long-standing dispute between the two.

Khymsar’s film, according to a press note, draws from his deep personal commitment to Tibetan culture and his experiences while growing up in exile. With ‘Four Rivers Six Ranges’, Khymsar aims to bring the untold stories of ordinary Tibetans on to the global stage.

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Incidentally, Shenpenn Khymsar’s co-producer is Dorjee Wangdi Dewatshang, whose father, Kunga Samten, was one of the warriors of Chushi Gangdruk (Four Rivers Six Ranges).

–IANS

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Ahead of International Yoga Day, Vidisha Srivastava shares her homemade yoga props

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Mumbai, June 19 (IANS) Ahead of the International Day of Yoga (June 21), actress Vidisha Srivastava has shared the props she uses while doing yoga at home, revealing how she takes help from the walls for balance and uses plastic wires for jumping ropes and yoga straps.

Yoga practitioners frequently discover resourceful approaches to enrich their practice by employing common household objects. These original, customised homemade props provide both motivation and functionality.

Talking about the DIY (do-it-yourself) props, Vidisha, who plays Anita Bhabi in the sitcom ‘Bhabiji Ghar Par Hai’, said: “Maintaining a stretched body and a calm mind is essential for focused action. My yoga practice and homemade props have been invaluable in achieving this calmness. For example, I use walls for balance in standing poses or to deepen stretches whenever possible.”

“I’ve also repurposed unused plastic wires into jump ropes because I enjoy jumping, and they also serve as yoga straps, assisting with stretching and improving flexibility. Sometimes, I use filled water bottles as weights or to support certain poses, like yoga blocks. Let’s roll out our mats and invest in ourselves — after all, a healthy body means a healthy mind.”

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‘Bhabiji Ghar Par Hai’ airs on &TV.

–IANS

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