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Analysis

Celebs crossover in cinema – 2018 In Retrospect

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Bollywood Celebrity

New Delhi, Dec 20 : Many consider Dulquer Salmaan, who set foot in Bollywood this year with the road movie “Karwaan”, to be the best export from the southern filmdom. If the young Malayalam actor’s fan base grew bigger and stronger after his Hindi film debut, Bollywood’s Khiladi, Akshay Kumar, also didn’t leave the audience disappointed with his villainous role in “2.0”. It marked his Tamil debut.

“2.0”, which also stars Rajinikanth, released on November 29. The sci-fi film, made on a budget of Rs 600 crore, grossed Rs 400 crore at the box office worldwide in its opening weekend.

On the other hand, Dulquer, the son of Malayalam megastar Mammootty, chose a film that was made on a much smaller budget. Still, the Akarsh Khurana directorial earned a spot in the top 10 Indian movies of 2018, determined by global movie website IMDb customer ratings.

Earlier this year, Dulquer also made his debut in Telugu with “Mahanati”, based on the life of actress Savitri.

In an interview with IANS, the “Kali” star, who is one of the rare actors to debut four times, had said: “I am not saying that I am entitled to a big debut in Malayalam film or any language.”

But he asserted that his “primary focus will be Malayalam films” and that he will choose from “what comes my way and take a call irrespective of the language”.

His “O Kadhal Kanmani” co-star Nithya Menen has also bagged her first Bollywood film – “Mission Mangal”.

“In the past also, I was offered plenty of Hindi films. I just wanted to be as choosy with Hindi as I was with films in other languages that I have done. I wanted it (debut Hindi film) to be a really nice film,” Nithya told IANS.

“I found this a nice character. I don’t think we have done a film like this… you know, a space film,” added the star, who made her debut as a lead actress with Kannada film “7 O’Clock” over a decade ago.

The upcoming film will also star actresses like Taapsee Pannu, Sonakshi Sinha and Vidya Balan.

Vidya will be launched in Telugu film industry with the biopic on legendary actor-politician and former Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh N.T. Rama Rao.

She had said at an event with excitement: “I have never delivered dialogues in another language apart from Hindi. Earlier, I did special appearances for one-two scenes in Malayalam film but in this film, I have a full-fledged role.”

For Aishwarya Devan, who has acted in Malayalam, Tamil and Kannada language films, it was her role that pulled her towards the Hindi film “Kaashi in Search of Ganga”.

“I haven’t done many strong roles in south films, so I am very happy that my debut role in Bollywood is of a strong female character,” Aishwarya, who played a journalist in the film, had said.

The year 2018 also saw veteran actress Supriya Pathak making her debut in Telugu filmdom with “Aravindha Sametha Veera Raghava”, helmed by Trivikram Srinivas.

“I really enjoyed working with the people. It was wonderful. My director was a wonderful person. I hope I get an opportunity to work there again,” said the actress, who had starred in the 1985 Malayalam movie “Akalathe Ambili”.

“Those days, a lot of Hindi films were made in south India. Then also, it was much more organised than in Mumbai or north India. My idea of south (Indian film industry) was always that it was more organised and that attracts you because it has got discipline. People are professionals and, still, there is a kind of basic emotion surrounding it and very work-oriented,” said Supriya, whose mother tongue is Gujarati.

Also, Pankaj Tripathi made his Tamil film debut with Rajinikanth film “Kaala” and Bollywood’s dancing diva Madhuri Dixit Nene’s maiden Marathi film “Bucket List” released this year.

Neil Nitin Mukesh, who featured in the 2014 Tamil film “Kaththi” by A.R. Murugadoss, made his Telugu debut with “Kavacham” this month. He will also be seen in Prabhas-starrer “Saaho”, which will be Shraddha Kapoor’s maiden film in Telugu.

While “Saaho” is one of the most anticipated movies of 2019, Malayalam star Nivin Pauly is set to make his presence felt in the Hindi film industry too.

He will be seen in Geetu Mohandas’ bilingual film “Moothon”, which will be released in Hindi and Malayalam.

“The language part is always challenging. For a Malayali actor, I won’t be that comfortable to do a film in Tamil, Telugu or Hindi. I believe we should push ourselves by crossing boundaries. I think every actor should attempt that in their career,” Nivin had told IANS.

“There is one blessed career that God gave us and we shouldn’t be sitting in one place and getting comfortable. There is no harm in trying something new.”

And the audience isn’t complaining.

(Natalia Ningthoujam can be contacted at [email protected])

Analysis

YouTube testing new video recommendation format: Report

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San Francisco, Jan 16 : Google-owned video sharing platform YouTube is testing a new video recommendation format that displays blue bubbles on the screen with relevant keywords and related topic suggestions, facilitating easier browsing, media reported.

“The screenshots obtained show these blue bubbles just underneath the video player showing more specific video recommendations,” The Verge reported on Tuesday.

The video-sharing platform is currently testing the feature with some users on its main desktop page as well as on the mobile app.

For sometime now users have been complaining that the videos recommended on the side on YouTube’s interface often have little to do with the current video, making recommendations a point of contention for the platform.

“It’s unclear if the videos that populate from the new recommendation bubbles will face similar algorithmic issues that YouTube’s recommendation feed currently suffers,” the report added.

There has not been any word from YouTube as of now on the working of these blue bubbles and whether or not they will roll out the test feature to a bigger group in the coming months.

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Analysis

2002 Gujarat riots: Judge P.B. Desai ignored evidence, says activist Harsh Mander

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Harsh Mander

New Delhi, Jan 9 : Special SIT court judge P.B. Desai “ignored evidence” that former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri, who was killed in a mob attack in Ahmedabad’s Gulberg Housing Society during the 2002 riots, did all that was possible within his power to protect Muslims from the “rage of the mob” and instead echoed the position of then Chief Minister Narendra Modi that his killing was only a “reaction” to his “action” of shooting at the mob, says human rights activist Harsh Mander.

He says that “the learned judge”, who retired in December 2017, overlooked statements by surviving witnesses that Jafri made repeated desperate calls to senior police officers and other persons in authority, “including allegedly Chief Minister Modi”, pleading that security forces be sent to “disperse the crowd” and rescue those “against whom the mob had laid a powerful siege”.

Mander, who quit the IAS in Gujarat in the wake of the riots, makes these observations in his just released book, “Partitions of the Heart: Unmaking the Idea of India”, published by Penguin.

The 66-year-old activist, who works with survivors of mass violence and hunger as well as homeless persons and street children, goes on to quote the late journalist Kuldip Nayar to establish that Jafri had desperately telephoned him, “begging him to contact someone in authority to send in the police or the Army to rescue them”.

Mander says Nayar rang up the Union Home Ministry to convey to it the seriousness of the situation. The Home Ministry said it was in touch with the state government and was “watching” the situation. Jafri called again, pleading with Nayar to do something as the mob was threatening to lynch him.

In the chapter titled “Whatever happened in Gulberg Society?”, Mander contends that Jafri did everything within his power to protect “those who believed that his influence would shield them from the rage of the mob”. Mander says Jafri begged the mob to “take his life instead” and in a show of valour went out “to plead and negotiate” with the angry crowd.

“When he realised that no one in authority would come in for their protection, he also did pick up his licensed firearm and shoot at the crowd…,” Mander notes, describing it as the “final vain bid” on behalf of Jafri to protect the Muslims in the line of fire.

The author notes that in describing Jafri’s final resort to firing as an illegitimate action, the judge only echoed the position taken repeatedly by Modi, who had given an interview to a newspaper in which he had said that it was Jafri who had first fired at the mob.

“He forgot to say what a citizen is expected to do when a menacing mob, which has already slaughtered many, approaches him and the police has deliberately not responded to his pleas,” says Mander.

He says that it was as if even when under attack and surrounded by an armed mob warning to slaughter them, “and with acid bombs and burning rags flung at them”, a good Muslim victim should do nothing except plead, and this would ensure their safety.

Ehsan Jafri’s wife Zakia Jafri, according to Mander, was firmly convinced that her husband was killed because of a conspiracy that went right to the top of the state administration, beginning with Modi. The author notes that the court, in its judgement running into more than 1,300 pages, disagreed.

“It did indict 11 people for the murder but they were just foot soldiers,” observed Mander.

He further says that the story the survivors told the judge over prolonged hearings was consistent but Judge Desai was convinced that there was “no conspiracy behind the slaughter” and that the administration did all it could to control it.

“Jafri, by the judge’s reckoning, and that of Modi, was responsible for his own slaughter,” he laments.

Mander also argues in the book that recurring episodes of communal violence in Ahmedabad had altered the city’s demography, dividing it into Hindu and Muslim areas and Gulberg was among the last remaining “Muslim” settlements in the “Hindu” section of the city.

He says that Desai also disregarded the evidence in the conversations secretly taped by Tehelka reporters, mentioning that superior courts, according to Desai himself, have ruled that while a person cannot be convicted exclusively based on the evidence collected in such “sting operations”, such evidence is certainly “admissible as corroborative proof”.

“But he chose to disregard this evidence, not because there was proof that these video recordings were in any way doctored or false but simply because the Special Investigative Team (SIT) appointed by the Supreme Court of India chose to ignore this evidence,” says Mander.

According to Mander, the Tehelka recordings “certainly supported the theory that there was indeed a plan to collect, incite and arm the mob to undertake the gruesome slaughter”.

The SIT was headed by R.K. Raghavan, today Ambassador to Cyprus. Mander contends in the book that just because the investigators did not pursue Tehelka recordings in greater depth, Desai concluded that the “recordings cannot be relied upon as trustworthy of substantial evidence and establish any conspiracy herein”.

In the book, Mander takes stock of whether India has upheld the values it had set out to achieve and offers painful, unsparing insight into the contours of violence. The book is now available both online and in bookstores.

(Saket Suman can be contacted at [email protected])

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Analysis

Number of suicides highest in Army amongst three services

In the Air Force, the number of suspected suicides was 21 in 2017 and 19 in 2016. For the Navy, these numbers were 5 and 6 for 2017 and 2016, respectively.

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Ajit Doval

New Delhi, Jan 7 : The number of defence personnel committing suicide was highest in the Army amongst the three services in the last three years, data shows.

In 2018 alone, as many as 80 Army personnel are believed to have committed suicide. This number is 16 for Air Force and 08 for the Navy, Minister of State (MoS) for Defence Subhash Bhamre told the Rajya Sabha in a written reply on Monday.

In 2017, the number of Army men who are suspected to have committed suicide was 75, while in 2016 this number was 104.

In the Air Force, the number of suspected suicides was 21 in 2017 and 19 in 2016. For the Navy, these numbers were 5 and 6 for 2017 and 2016, respectively.

In his reply, the Minister said that various steps have been taken by the armed forces to create healthy environment for their officers and other ranks.

“Some of the steps include provision of better facilities such as clothing, food, married accommodation, travel facilities, schooling, recreation etc and periodic welfare meetings, promoting yoga and meditation as a tool for stress management, and training and deployment of psychological counsellors,” the reply read.

It said mental health awareness is provided during pre-induction training.

Besides, institutionalisation of projects “MILAP” and “SAHYOG” by the Army in Northern and Eastern Commands to reduce stress among troops has been done.

A helpline has also been established by the Army and the Air Force to provide professional counselling.

IANS

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