Larger than life actor who died before his time #RIP Richard Griffiths

London: When asked a few years ago what he would like his epitaph to be, Richard Griffiths suggested he all he needed was time.
He joked that he wanted it to read: “Richard Griffiths. Actor. Born 1947. Died 2947”.
Griffiths, one of Britain’s best-loved and most recognisable stars of stage and screen, did not achieve his goal.
He died on Thursday from complications following heart surgery. He was 65.
As the news broke on Friday tributes came from friends, fans and colleagues who had worked with him throughout his long career.
Griffiths, who played the self-satisfied Uncle Vernon Dursley in the Harry Potter films, was probably best known among older generations for his role as the predatory Uncle Monty in the cult film Withnail & I.
Daniel Radcliffe and Richard E Grant led a stream of heartfelt condolences in which the actor was described as a “comic genius” and praised for his “encouragement, tutelage and humour”.
Radcliffe, who also appeared alongside Griffiths in the West End play Equus, said the actor had put him at ease as he prepared to shoot his first scene as Harry Potter.
“Richard was by my side during two of the most important moments of my career,” he said. “Any room he walked into was made twice as funny and twice as clever just by his presence.”
Grant said he would be “raising a figurative glass” to his old friend. “My beloved ‘Uncle Monty’ Richard Griffiths died last night,” he wrote on Twitter. “Chin-Chin my dear friend.” Griffiths won a Laurence Olivier Award and a Tony Award for his portrayal as the inspirational teacher in Alan Bennett’s The History Boys.
Griffiths was born in North Yorkshire, to parents who were deaf. He had a hard upbringing and frequently ran away from home.
His acting career began as a clown with the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) and he later won small roles in television shows such as Minder, The Sweeney and Bergerac.
In the 1990s, Griffiths starred as a crime-solving chef in the television series Pie In The Sky and made his first appearance as Uncle Vernon in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in 2001.
The actor was famed for his intolerance to mobile phones in theatres, halting several performances to demand that the perpetrator leave.
Sir Trevor Nunn, the director who took Griffiths into the RSC, said: “As the Shakespeare he loved put it, ‘There’s a great spirit gone’.”
He is survived by his wife, Heather, with whom he lived near Stratford-upon-Avon. —The Daily Telegraph


Hari Prasad Chaurasia’s life in 60 minutes #Sundayreading

Rajeev Chaurasia on what it took a son to condense 74 years of his maestro father’s life into an hour


On April 12, Rajeev Chaurasia will figure if he passed the “agneepariksha”. The 43-year-old son of flautist Padma Vibhushan Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia excitedly awaits the release of Bansuri Guru, a film he directed on his father, which is the Films Division’s first project to release commercially under the PVR Director’s Rare banner.
He landed the job accidentally, when he realised that the directors proposed by Films Division knew little about the maestro’s life. “They’d ask him fairly basic questions about his performances and work in Bollywood. I thought, main kya kar raha hoon?” Rajeev says in Hindi reminiscent of his Allahabad roots.
The hour-long documentary, that features interviews of Panditji and his students, traces his journey from the akhadas of Allahabad (Panditji was born into a family of wrestlers for whom a profession in music was unthinkable) through Cuttack (where he landed his first job as an artiste), to Mumbai, ending at the Vrindavan gurukul he set up.
It wasn’t easy convincing Films Division, Rajeev says in a candid moment. “The first proposal I took was on one sheet of paper. They asked me to come back with an 80-page script.” Rajeev spent three months reworking the script, and the next three years filming the docu. Although it was a familiar subject, he realised serious research awaited him. Details that had receded into obscurity over the years began to surface, like the story behind Panditji’s first flute.
“He was around 10. I am not sure if it was a mela, but my father spotted a man selling flutes. When he stopped for a drink of water, Panditji picked it up.”
Among those voicing the musician’s journey is 90-yearold P V Krishnamoorthy, AIR’s station director in Cuttack who gave Panditji his first music job in 1957. “He said Panditji was popular with the ladies,” laughs Rajeev.
Being family didn’t always help, though. Rajeev says he was pushing his father to do things he hadn’t been asked to pull off. “There was some friction. Anybody else would have been shown the door. I could take liberties,” he smiles.
Among those Rajeev was keen to include in the film but couldn’t is Annapurna Devi, late Pandit Ravi Shankar’s first wife, and his father’s guru. “It took him three years to convince her to teach him. An exponent of the Sur Bahar, she asked him how she could teach him since he was a flautist. He said all he wanted to learn from her was music; instruments didn’t entertain boundaries.”
Although Panditji visits his guru at her south Mumbai residence every Gurupurnima, the reclusive artiste asked to be excused from the film.
The toughest task awaited Rajeev once shooting had wound up. A hundred hours of footage had to be trimmed to an hour.
Panditji’s Bollywood connection — he composed songs for Chandni, Darr, Lamhe and Silsila among other blockbusters with santoor maestro Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma — is evident as Amitabh Bachchan lends his voice as narrator. Popular tunes (the haunting melody from Jackie Shroff-Meenakshi Sheshadri-starrer Hero), are welded into the background score. “These tunes would comfort me when I was homesick in America,” adds Rajeev, a student of finance from the University of Texas. His career in media which started with Sony TV in the 1990s before he took over as MTV’s programming head, and finally launched a travel channel three years ago, made the job a bit easier.
Do Panditji’s sons, Vinay and Ajay, from his first marriage to late Kamala Chaurasia find space in the film? “Only those people connected to Panditji’s musical journey are featured,” Rajeev says, adding that the family — Panditji’s second wife Anuradha, Rajeev’s wife Pushpanjali and their two children — is also seen in one solitary scene.

A picture from the 1970s with kathak exponent Sitara Devi, at a common friend’s wedding
At riyaz with wife Anuradha ‘Angurbala’, a classical vocalist
With Lata and Usha Mangeshkar at Tirupati temple in the 1960s
Rajeev Chaurasia


#India – Film debut at 92 #Sundayreading

Mirror tracks the making of the first 15-minute documentary on Mumbai‘s landmark Dadar Parsi Colony

Reema Gehi
Posted On Sunday, March 10, 2013 at 10:23:27 AM
Joshi envisioned an agiary within the neighbourhood so that its Parsi residents wouldn’t have to tread too far to offer their prayers
Dogwalker Rohinton Unwalla with chicken-loving boxer Max and actor Boman Irani‘s Golden Retriever Laila
BPP Trustee and architect Jimmy Mistry is interviewed by Anand Kulkarni (in white), while sound engineer Rohan Puntambekar and cinematographer Kuldeep Mamania look on

Max and Rohinton Unwalla see no reason for public display of affection to be tagged as nuisance. In one quick swoop, love meets devotion when Max’s candy tongue flutters across Unwalla’s face, before finally enveloping his nose as the two take a breather after their morning walk on the steps of Building no. 782 at Dadar Parsi Colony.

Unwalla, better known around the lanes that wrap the iconic Five Gardens as Ronny Uncle, meets Max, the boxer, Maxie the Lhasa and Laila the Golden Retriever each morning at 7 am after a quick brun-maska-chai breakfast with his old colleagues from Godrej.

Since he retired in 1999, the 65-year-old has become an indispensable cog in the wheel of this neighbourhood’s survival, walking the residents’ pets and shacking up with them in his ground floor flat when their owners are on holiday.

Ronny Uncle has made it to the star credits of a 15-minute documentary, the first to trace the 92-year-old story of Dadar Parsi Colony, directed by Anand Kulkarni.

The young filmmaker plans to release it on March 21 which the community celebrates as Navroze or new year. It is late evening; the sun threatening to shut shop any minute.

We are on a terrace overlooking half the metropolis. The trinity of writerdirector- editor Kulkarni, cinematographer Kuldeep Mamania and sound engineer Rohan Puntambekar are ready for their first shot of the day.

Architect and trustee of the Bombay Parsi Panchayat Jimmy Mistry, who until now has only corresponded with Kulkarni over email, is expected to arrive at his palatial residence Della Towers — the only 22-storey building in a cluster of 250 buildings in the Maharashtriandominated middle-class neighbourhood of Dadar that houses 10,000 members of the Zoroastrian faith, making it the largest Zoroastrian enclave in the world.

The colony was conceived in 1921 by a young civil engineer named Mancherji Joshi, and inaugurated by celebrated merchantphilantropist Sir Jamshedjee Jeejeebhoy.

Kulkarni, who has spent every day of the last three months roaming its leafy bylanes was struck by the thought of capturing it on film whole researching a movie on the contribution of Mumbai’s Parsis.

Zareen Engineer was one of the first residents Kulkarni would meet, and later realise was Mancherji Joshi’s granddaughter.

“Anand excitedly asked me all sorts of questions about how it all started,” laughs Engineer, at her spacious home overlooking the Five Gardens. “It’s possible that I have repeated that story a 100 times, but I didn’t mind sharing it once more for the film.”

Sooni Davar, her elder sister, who has dropped in for a yoga session, says the legacy has built it own odd fallacy. “Because he built the colony, they think we must be millionaires. He was a middle-class man, and died one. He paid his rent faithfully until the end.”

A different colonisation

It was the early 1920s, and Joshi was a civil engineer posted with the Improvement Trust (equivalent of the BMC). Parsi pockets of Fort and Grant Road were undergoing redevelopment, leading to widespread displacement.

Joshi discussed his plan for a piece of land in the suburbs to build homes for the underprivileged and middle-class residents.

Architect Mervanji Framji Surveyor and civil engineer Jehangir Engineer helped Joshi plan the colony.

With funds from wealthy members of the community and the Bombay Parsi Panchayat, a plot was purchased in Dadar. “But before the buildings, he created 14 gardens in the colony, which we work hard to maintain,” says Engineer, founder of the Mancherji Edulji Joshi Residents’ Association.

“Those who say sparrows and parrots have left in the city, should visit the colony,” she says with pride about the green lung that houses trees as old as 80 years.

The wide roads that wind through the area — Lady Jehangir Road, Jam-e- Jamshed Road and Dinshaw Master Road — have all been named after philanthropists who helped fund them.

Engineer says Joshi envisioned a gymkhana, the Dadar Madrasa, a library, the Palamkote hall to host religious ceremonies and an agiary, all within the neighbourhood. It was dedication enough for the residents to create the casket of his statue that’s now a city landmark, while he was alive. All these feature in Kulkarni’s film.

The support staff

Rana Chakraborty
When the 250-building colony was conceived, it had no fence, just a simple rule — no building could stand higher than two storeys 

Kulkarni scripted the film while spending his Sundays at the Gymkhana. “Everyone seems to know everyone. They keep waving at each other.” The three-member team says they wouldn’t have managed to complete a film that’s cost them Rs 4 lakh without the help of random pedestrians like those at the Five Gardens, who asked if they could help, and Hemal Ghoshal, resident and secretary of Mount Pleasant building, who offered her home to store equipment.

Shernaaz Engineer, the editor of Jame- Jamshed, a weekly community newspaper, put in an announcement, requesting old residents to share print and video footage they may have.

“That worked,” says Kulkarni, “We even had a 48-year-old Parsi lady call in to check if she could ‘act’!” It’s possibly this camaraderie that businesswoman and philanthropist Padma Shri Anu Aga refers to in the film, when she says of the neighbourhood she grew up in: “There’s scope for lasting friendships because of the way the colony and structure was built.”

When Joshi conceived the colony, it had no fence, just a simple rule – no building could stand higher than two storeys, and a 15-feet open space between buildings was mandatory.

Saving the Oasis

It’s this very oasis that the residents are battling to save. The residents’ association has opposed the BMC’s plan to build a concrete-granite gazebo inside a children’s park, which they believe will reduce the Grade II B heritage garden’s size and mar the greenery.

It was by the time that Kulkarni was into the third draft of the script that he learnt of the residents’ tenacious fight with the builder lobby that’s keen to modernise the area through the redevelopment model that pertains to old cessed properties in the island city. “I feel part of their voice and struggle. I hope the film makes a difference.”

►►►  Because he built the colony, they think we must be millionaires. He was a middle-class man, and died one, paying the rent faithfully until the end

–  Sooni Davar (on grandfather Mancherji Joshi) with sister Zareen Engineer


International Women’s Day- Light a candle for Soni Sori #Vaw #1billionrising

“Huge cheers to friends at Barduari Studios for creating these wonderful online action in which several, who for some reason, could not join offline actions were still able to express their solidarity and resolve to right the wrong.”



The Frozen Scream- #Sundayreading #Cinema

By Sayan Bhattacharya, Kindle Magazine


English: Govind Nihalani, noted Indian film di...

Be it the searing Drohkaal or the complex Drishti, Govind Nihalani has dealt with diverse subject. One of the leading lights of the New Wave talks about the animation genre, the power of melodrama, his influences and more.

You are returning to the big screen with the animation film Kamlu Happy Happy… why animation? 

Because I love it! Because I just love the medium and I became aware of this medium and the possibilities of it with my association with Mr. Ram Mohan who is the father of animation in India.

From a very early stage, when I came to Bombay , which is about more than 30 years back , and ever since, I always wanted to do something in it. The first stage was that I didn’t have any confidence and asubject which excited me enough. And then at that time the technology was not very advanced, so it was very expensive and it did not exist in India as a viable format for cinema. It’s only after when the markets opened up, when new technology came in, then we became aware of what technology is doing to animation – 3D technology and even in 2D, they have developed some softwares which make it very fast and very exciting. But ultimately the tables were turned when Hanuman was released.

It did so well… 

Its success was phenomenal and people started looking at it as a possible medium where you could get some investment. Add to that, the fact that when the technology came into India, several studios started outsourcing for the foreign companies. They would get the design and the script and the storyboards from abroad, they would execute the job and send it back; there was no original content. But that industry was doing fairly well. Then you know several people started feeling that there is so much potential, commercial potential, so why shouldn’t we have our own original content in animation. Well, I heard so many people were doing so many things and you know in industry forums, entertainment industry forums like FICCI frames and all that which I attended, and I discovered that there was a lot of potential and animation was a very viable medium but only internationally. We didn’t have enough market in India to even recover the investment, so that was again a bit of a dampener. But after Hanuman, as I said, the doors have started opening and then I took the pledge, wrote my own story and script, conceived the characters and then approached people. But at that time also, there was no investor coming in.

Which year was this? 

2005, after my film Dev released. I thought let’s give it a shot and it would get over in 2 years. I had to produce it myself and then we ran into a few problems and now finally it’s over.

Why a children’s film? Were you seeking some breathing space after the heavily political Dev?

No! No! There was no question of relief, because films are about your sensibilities. It was just that I love the medium. I like the excitement of making an animation film.
It is not a children’s film. See children are always a main driving agent for animation. But then you have children films like Tom and Jerry, mine is not that. So this is a film for the family where I am sure if you go, you will enjoy it. Walt Disney once said that, “Animation films are for the child in the adults” and then somebody came up and said “There are films which are for the adults in the children”. So a certain intelligence level should be there in the children to appreciate certain kind of films because animation is a medium where the films are very strictly divided into bands – 3yrs to 5 yrs, 5yrs-9yrs and above 9 yrs, so you make the script, a design for those audience bands. I didn’t want to confine myself because I wanted my film to be a little more accessible to a fairly large audience and  I didn’t want an adult to come and say “What a kiddy stuff!”And I watched this film with some kids in a trial at my own studio and they were screaming. Particularly when the action came. So that’s how it happened. It’s a happy film… a very celebratory film…
So in these violent times when you are making such a celebratory film like Kamlu Happy Happy, is there also idealogical intent to that? 

When you see the film you will perhaps find some references to the modern things and I’m sure that the critics will come down heavily and say “What is this stupid reference doing in an animation film?” but one has to deal with that kind of criticism also. I don’t bother. But the fact is that there are certain concerns that will remain and simply because yeh toh phir aisi baat hui ki jo hamesha raag darbari gaata hai woh  pahadi nai gaa sakta. Usko nahi gaana chahiye kyuki Pahadi mein bahut khushi hoti hai aur darbari mein thori hulchal hoti hai. Yeh toh bahut galat baat hai! (laughs)

Dev released in 2004. It had a stellar star cast and its content was very political but it didn’t really click, neither at the box office nor with critics and a lot of your fans felt let down. What went wrong? 

I don’t know because so many people I met and who had the same kind of question, had not even seen the film.

I have seen it…

I don’t know what was it that they  felt let down by, whether it was the film, my narrative style or whether it was something else because that has never been made clear to me. I’m not trying to defend myself but this is one of my favourite films. I put a lot into it. After Tamas, this was the film I put a lot and ideologically, I thought it was a very strong film. But I tried my best.

To me, the film seemed quite melodramatic, especially the way it ends… perhaps you were trying to reach a larger audience base but it didn’t work.

Well, that is your perception. I don’t want to contradict it or I don’t want to justify myself but I was very satisfied with it because I conceived it that way. For me, ultimately the protagonist’s journey is very important. That is the fulcrum of the story. If I’m not interested in the character, in the fate of the character, the kind of transformation he/she goes through, it is of no interest. So this was a kind of a story where I wanted to see what role ideology plays in the lives of people who are supposed to be apolitical in performing their duties. Both of them are police officers who are supposed to be above their ideology, while discharging their duties and here one officer doesn’t maintain that objectivity.  The other officer does it and the tragedy that ensues and it’s not that it’s only Amit ji’s character, Dev that is killed, but the other person, somewhere being a human being, deeply connected with his friend; after all he named his son, he can’t live with the guilt. He kills himself. So for me, this was the crux of the story.

Since we are talking about the way these characters react to situations… anger and screams are recurring motifs in your films. Take us through this tool that you use.

See nothing is designed that way. In Aakrosh, the scream at the end was not designed, I just felt like it. At some stage, a person of this kind, like the tribal Nathu, when he is pushed to the point that he has to kill his sister so that he knows he can save her from any more dishonour or abject  poverty that she might face… what can he do? He’s not a well read person, he cannot thing logically, he thinks from the guts. Somewhere this is the only way his catharsis comes out. He doesn’t understand the system he’s against. That’s the whole thing and one should just let go. We didn’t even rehearse that scene. So that’s how it came, there’s always this emotional angle to everything and sometimes we feel that we should not be so loud, we should not be so melodramatic and all that… I don’t subscribe to that theory. Where melodrama helps, where going a little overboard helps shake up the audience, I use the tool and the first audience is me. Before it goes to the audience it should first satisfy me. So if I’m feeling ok with it, I am fine.
Now in Party there was no scream, it was a scream which was suppressed. The character which came in the last 2 shots, the character of Amrit, people were talking about him all the time and then he emerged. When he comes, played by Naseeruddin Shah, he’s stuttering with blood flowing out of his mouth because his tongue had been cut literally cut and that was the suppressed scream which was the loudest. You didn’t hear it as a scream but you did. And then I used the scream in the opening of TamasTamas starts with a scream “Oh Rabba”, if you remember and that was again the scream of great anguish born out of helplessness and anger. And the fact that you who have seen the films years and years ago, more than 2 decades ago, you still remember them. That somewhere it reaches out…

How do you select your subject material?

My choice of subjects has always been influenced by what I see around me at that particular moment. The general situation in the country, whether it is a political situation, whether it’s a social situation, which is always in a state of flux. Toh uus waqt mujhe kya cheez disturb kar rahi hai, kya cheez se bahut khushi ho rahi hai , kya cheez se mujhe bahut satisfaction ho raha hai or something which is making me angry and all that, I normally pick up things from there or even if I’m working on literature, some theme from there echos in my mind and I pick it up. Like Drohkal , was inspired by Conrad’s novel Under Western Eyes…  betrayal, how do you deal with betrayal, when you know you have betrayed somebody. You have the same theme there also. How to deal with betrayal because Om betrays his friend. And normally when I write the script, when I pick up a subject, story, novel, play anything, some theme has to hit me. I cannot write without a theme. It’s like getting a sur in music.Aapko ek sur milna chahiye, ek irada milna chahiye and that becomes the basis of everything that happens in the script.

Going back a little, you started off during the peak of The New Wave of Indian Cinema, and somehow it petered out. Now when you look back, what do you think led to its decline? 

Several things – opening of new media, technology. With technology, came the media also and the economics of the industry also changed. These are factors which are beyond your control. Then also the fact that certain filmmakers who had very brilliant ideas fell short of being the masters of their craft. So beautiful stories, not well made films. We were very much helped by a very supportive media at one stage, that also petered out.

The costing of the film became more, the number of theatres were the same. Why would anybody give space to my film which has no stars, when he’s getting a chance to show a film with big stars? So there are several things, there is no one particular cause that I can say.

And also lack of government backing…

Government backing has always been there. They still find films.

But they’re not distributed  and marketed properly!

They never market films properly. Now they are a little more conscious because they are entering into co-productions. Their own money is directly involved and that too big money, which is a good thing. But the situation has always been like this.

Do you think it’s a myth that it has become easier for directors to work on experimental subjects because of multiplexes? 

Depends upon the director, depends upon how they can convince the funding person and also depends on the kind of imagination they bring to their project. To make a different kind of film, has never been easy at any given time, even today but considering the fact that in the last 2 years, there have been a hundred new directors entering the Hindi film industry, so you know there’s a space for them! (laughs)

Talking about the star system, Naseerudin Shah has said that parallel films also had its star system – Naseeruddin Shah, Smita Patel, Om Puri, Shabana Azmi, Farookh Sheikh…

Why not ? Who makes the stars? People make the stars. A star is an actor who people want to see again and again!

But directors who give them work for the first time and keep working with them, also have a huge role in shaping them into stars. 

When they took them for the first time, they also had no idea that they would be stars. They are just good actors. Actors didn’t get continuous work from us alone, they worked outside. As an actor, they are open to anything, any kind of cinema. They became stars because of their own talent and the fact that audience took to that. Without audience, there is no star

What do you think about the criticisms Naseerudin Shah makes on the New Wave Cinema?

That is his perception; it doesn’t affect the movement in anyway!

When he says something like “Directors living in Malabar hill shouldn’t make films on coal mines in Bihar”…?

It’s his opinion. I can’t comment on somebody’s opinion.

So today if you were to meet him, what kind of conversations would you have? 

We would have a very nice, friendly, cordial conversation, aisa koi problem nahi hai, because these are just individual opinions.

You have collaborated with the likes of Shyam Benegal, Satyadev Dubey, Vijay Tendulkar… how were those days? 

My evolution as a person, as a filmmaker has been very deeply influenced by 3 people – one is my guru Mr. V.K. Moorthy, the cameraman, Mr. Satyadev Dubey, with whom I have had an association of more than 50 years as friends, and Mr. Benegal with whom it was not a cameraman-director relationship but a personal relationship and he has a brilliant mind. Just being there, discussing things or hearing him discussing things, it was so stimulating.  Quite often I used to be present at his script readings. All these are very highly intellectual, enlightened, and very sophisticated people. Just listening to them, being in their company, discussing things is very enlightening for me.

I was quite fascinated by Rukmavati Ki Haveli and wanted to ask you about the influence of theatre in your works. 

A lot… I worked with Dubey. In earlier stages I used to work in the backstage- sound and lights but more than that, conversations with him. I used to attend his rehearsals and the way he would talk to his actors and particularly the handling of the dialogue, handling of emotion, interpretation of characters, just watching him rehearse with people, I got so much knowledge, so much insight. And of course there were personal conversations that carried on for hours and hours. That’s how it happened. I always found theatre very exciting.

What have been your cinematic influences?

 Several… from Orson Wales to Ray, Ritwik Ghatak to foreigners like Kurosawa, Bergman, other European artists and filmmakers; there have been several. Influence in the sense that I don’t want to imitate them. Their films have opened up my door of perception, my understanding of the medium itself, opening up the possibilities of the medium, that’s the way it is. It enlightened me!

Recent films that you loved watching?

I like the works of Vishal Bharadwaj, Anurag Kashyap… Dibakar Banerjee is also doing good work.

Apart from Kamluwhat else are you working on?

There are 2 projects, one is in Marathi which I might start immediately after Kamlu, which is a script by Vijay Tendulkar and there’s a Hindi script that I am developing myself.

MSU law faculty head arrested for smearing VC’s chair with itching powder #humour

TNN | Feb 19, 2013, 0

MSU law faculty head arrested for smearing VC's chair with itching powder
M S University law faculty head arrested for allegedly smearing itching powder on vice-chancellor Yogesh Singh’s chair.
VADODARA: Vadodara‘s M S University law faculty head Ghanshyam Solanki was arrested on Monday for allegedly smearing itching powder on vice-chancellor Yogesh Singh’s chair during a national seminar a day earlier. Singh had to leave the seminar midway.

“Forensic tests on the chair revealed that somebody had smeared it with itching powder. Further investigations revealed the teacher’s involvement,” police commissioner Satish Sharma said.

Solanki was booked for obstructing a public servant in discharge of public functions and causing hurt by dangerous weapons or means. He confessed to using the powder but claimed that it was not meant for Singh. His real target was the law faculty in-charge dean professor S S Bhattacharya.

MSU officials said Solanki may have done so as his application for promotion was rejected recently.

“It is shameful and unbelievable. I had never expected this to happen. Normally, we do not except a teacher to get involved in such acts,” Singh told TOI.

“We have taken it very seriously and any such incident by any staff or student will not be tolerated in future,” officer on special duty (registrar) Dr Amit Dholakia said.


‘Racism’ of early colour photography explored in art exhibition

 Friday 25 January 2013 , Guardian

Artists spent a month in South Africa taking pictures on decades-old film engineered with only white faces in mind

"Shirley", which was the nickname given to the girl used in Kodak plotting sheets 
Kodak Shirley’ cards used for calibrating skin tones in photographs were named after the first model featured. Photograph: Adam Broomberg And Oliver Chanarin/Goodman Gallery

 in Johannesburg

Can the camera be racist? The question is explored in an exhibition that reflects on how Polaroid built an efficient tool for South Africa’s apartheid regime to photograph and police black people.

The London-based artists Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin spent a month in South Africa taking pictures on decades-old film that had been engineered with only white faces in mind. They used Polaroid’s vintage ID-2 camera, which had a “boost” button to increase the flash – enabling it to be used to photograph black people for the notorious passbooks, or “dompas”, that allowed the state to control their movements.

The result was raw snaps of some of the country’s most beautiful flora and fauna from regions such as the Garden Route and the Karoo, an attempt by the artists to subvert what they say was the camera’s original, sinister intent.

Broomberg and Chanarin say their work, on show at Johannesburg’s Goodman Gallery, examines “the radical notion that prejudice might be inherent in the medium of photography itself”. They argue that early colour film was predicated on white skin: in 1977, when Jean-Luc Godard was invited on an assignment to Mozambique, he refused to use Kodak film on the grounds that the stock was inherently “racist”.

The light range was so narrow, Broomberg said, that “if you exposed film for a white kid, the black kid sitting next to him would be rendered invisible except for the whites of his eyes and teeth”. It was only when Kodak’s two biggest clients – the confectionary and furniture industries – complained that dark chocolate and dark furniture were losing out that it came up with a solution.

The artists feel certain that the ID-2 camera and its boost button were Polaroid’s answer to South Africa’s very specific need. “Black skin absorbs 42% more light. The button boosts the flash exactly 42%,” Broomberg explained. “It makes me believe it was designed for this purpose.”

In 1970 Caroline Hunter, a young chemist working for Polaroid in America, stumbled upon evidence that the company was effectively supporting apartheid. She and her partner Ken Williams formed the Polaroid Workers Revolutionary Movement andcampaigned for a boycott. By 1977 Polaroid had withdrawn from South Africa, spurring an international divestment movement that was crucial to bringing down apartheid.

The title of the exhibition, To Photograph the Details of a Dark Horse in Low Light, refers to the coded phrase used by Kodak to describe a new film stock created in the early 1980s to address the inability of earlier films to accurately render dark skin.

The show also features norm reference cards that always used white women as a standard for measuring and calibrating skin tones when printing photographs. The series of “Kodak Shirleys” were named after the first model featured. Today such cards show multiple races.

Broomberg and Chanarin made two recent trips to Gabon to photograph a series of rare Bwiti initiation rituals using Kodak film stock, scavenged from eBay, that had expired in 1978. Working with outdated chemical processes, they salvaged just a single frame. Broomberg said: “Anything that comes out of that camera is a political document. If I take a shot of the carpet, that’s a political document.”


#Pakistan-Jinnah wanted ‘Mussalmans’ to enter film industry #Sundayreading

By Tughral Yamin / Photo: Tughral Yamin

Published: January 20, 2013


Where successive Pakistani governments have subjected the country’s once prosperous film industry to official neglect, a recently discovered letter penned by Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah reveals the country’s founder gave seminal importance to the industry.

“I am in receipt of your letter of December 30th 1944, and I wish more Mussalmans would enter into this realm of film industry, and I shall always be glad to do all I can to help it. I have noted that Mr Mahboob is producing a historical picture “Humayun”, and if I have an opportunity of seeing it I might be able to express my opinion about it, but generally I do wish that more Mussalmans would enter this line, as there is plenty of scope for them in the film industry,” reads the Quaid’s letter, dated January 6, 1945.

The type-written letter clearly bears his personal monogram and is neatly signed by his own hand.

The letter was written in response to a letter by Mohammad Masud, then a young political activist, who sought the Quaid’s opinion on the role of Indian Muslims in the sub-continent’s film industry.

Now in his 80s, Masud resides in Karachi with his grandchildren. While he has never been particularly talkative, many an eager ear has been mesmerised by his narration of pre-partition experiences. From his youth to his old age, Masud has also cultivated a penchant for writing letters to the country’s leaders, past and present. The Quaid was among the few who got back to him.

Pakistani film industry today is exemplified by mustachioed men with ‘gandasas’ staring down plus-sized women as they dance.

Cinemas themselves are dominated by Bollywood and Hollywood. The industry has been on the verge of demise ever since the separation of East Pakistan (and with it, its film industry), and the advent of the VCR.

The state, meanwhile, has had bigger concerns, leaving an industry, which once provided much revenue and was a means of promoting a ‘softer image’, in shambles. No government has tried to restore Pakistani cinema to its former glory – the state does not even acknowledge it as an industry. Similarly, little official attention has been given to film education – not a single state-funded film school exists in the country.

Quaid’s letter could not have been uncovered at a more apt time. It shows the level of enthusiasm a person who represented the entire Muslim population of India at the time possessed, even as he replied to someone as inconsequential as a young admirer – that too at a time when the entire region was embroiled in a crisis much graver than cultivating a film industry.

Masud still pens letters to the country’s present day leaders, often reminding them of their duty to the nation. Most never bother to reply. Only Jinnah had the courtesy and the vision to respond to each letter he received. One can only wish we could have another leader like that.

The author is the nephew of Mohammad Masud and a retired brigadier who teaches strategy at the National Defence University, Islamabad

Published in The Express Tribune, January 20th, 2013.

Jodie Foster Comes Out and Maybe Retires

In a surprise speech at the Golden Globes, Jodie Foster talks about her former partner, her new career path, and her loneliness.


JANUARY 13 2013

The biggest surprise at the Golden Globes on Sunday wasn’t the near shut out of Lincoln (which was a front-runner with seven nominations), but Jodie Foster’s speech after she was given the prestigious Cecil B. DeMille Award for her 47 years in the entertainment industry. The speech began a bit like a light-hearted comic interlude but was actually a serious and thoughtful combination of a coming out speech and a retirement goodbye.

“For all of you SNL fans, I’m 50!” shouted Foster triumphantly in front of a standing ovation.”I need to do that without this dress on, but maybe later. I was going to bring my walker tonight but it just didn’t go with the cleavage.”

Foster kept up the joking demeanor for a bit: “So I’m here being all confessional and I guess I just have the sudden urge to say something that I’ve never really been able to air in public, so a declaration that I’m a little nervous about. But maybe not quite as nervous as my publicist right now, huh Jennifer? Um, but uh, you know, I’m just gonna put it out there, right? Loud and proud, right? So I’m gonna need your support on this — I am single. Yes I am, I am single. No, I’m kidding. But I mean I’m not really kidding, but I am kind of kidding.”

It was a winking nod to her fans and followers who by now know that Foster is gay. But the actress turned director took a serious turn after that.

“I hope you’re not disappointed that there won’t be a big coming-out speech tonight, because I already did my coming out about a thousand years ago back in the stone age in those very quaint days when a fragile young girl would open up to trusted friends and family, and co-workers and then gradually, proudly to everyone who knew her, to everyone she actually met. But now apparently I’m told that every celebrity is expected to honor the details of their private life with a press confrence, a fragrance, and a prime-time reality show. You guys might be surprised,  but I am not Honey Boo Boo child. No, I’m sorry that’s just not me, never was, and it never will be…. But seriously, if you had been a public figure from the time that you were a toddler. If you had to fight a life that felt real and honest and normal against all odds, then maybe then you too would value privacy above all else — privacy. Someday in the future people will look back and remember how beautiful it once was. I have given everything up there from the time I was 3 years old. That’s reality show enough, don’t you think?”

(RELATED: 10 Reasons SheWired’s Editor Loves Jodie Foster)

The actress then talked about her family, including her two sons who were in attendance. “There is no way I could ever stand here without acknowledging one of the deepest loves of my life, my heroic co-parent, my ex-partner in love but righteous soul sister in life, my confessor… most beloved BFF of 20 years, Cydney Bernard. Thank you Cyd. I am so proud of our modern family, our amazing sons Charlie and Kit, who are my reason to breath and to evolve, my blood and soul. And boys in case you didn’t know it, this song, all of this, this song is for you.”

Foster followed that up by saying she may never be up on that stage again, or any stage for that matter, and though she’d continue to tell stories, to move people by being moved, but “from now on I may be holding a different talking stick… maybe it won’t open on 3,000 screens, maybe it’ll be so quiet and delicate that only dogs can hear it whistle, but it will be my writing on the wall: Jodie Foster was here. I still am. And I want to be seen, to be understood deeply, and to be not so very lonely.”

Watch video of Foster’s speech below.


Roselyn: Idinthakarai activist, anti nuke protester – a victim of Neglect #RIP

A photograph of Roselyn taken on the day of her arrest by Amirtharaj Stephen photograph.

63-year old J. Roselyn, a mother of three from Idinthakarai, was among the 7 women randomly picked up from the Idinthakarai beach on the police crackdown of 10 September 2012. She was jailed in Trichy Women’s prison along with Xavier Ammal, Sundari and Selvi. Even at the time of arrest, she had complained that she was extremely unwell and had been suffering frequent bouts of vomitting, and needed medical attention and diagnosis. These facts were even registered in her records prior to her detention in Trichy prison.

She was not given adequate treatment in the prison hospital, and her requests for medical attention went unheeded.  When bail was granted for the case she was arrested under, the police filed two more cases and prolonged her stay in prison. She was finally released from prison on 30 October, 2012, on condition that she signs her presence at a police station in Madurai. As her condition worsened, it became impossible for her to visit the police station, and she was hospitalised in the Madurai General Hospital.

About 10 days ago, she was moved to Idinthakarai where she died early this morning on Dec 21, 2012 . Mugilan, who informed me about Roslin Amma’s demise said she had a cancer-like ailment, which had already manifested itself before the 10 September protests.

Roslin is a victim of neglect, and the vengeance of a state that views the very holding of a contrary opinion on nuclear power as a crime warranting imprisonment under harsh sections. 63-year old Roslin was accused and jailed under the following sections, including of “Waging War against the Government of India.”

1. Crl OP 15368, Crime No. 70/2012. Offence date: 16.2.2012
Charges: 121 — Waging War. 142, 163,152(a), 241, 242, 500, 508

2. Crl OP 15385, Crime No. 300/2012. Date of Offence: 11.6.2012
Charges: 124A — Sedition. 142, 168, 291

3. Crl OP 15389/2012, Crime No. 349/2012.. Date of Offence: 10.9.2012
147, 145, 163 r/w 144, 222, 252, 255, 294(b), 207, 427 r/w 149

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