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End of the cocktails era

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Sharaab and filmmakers seem to share an unbreakable partnership. There may have been many reasons why the two got bound together and kept company with each other all the way.

Can’t say when and how that happened. But, most of the stories I heard while growing up were about film celebrities sacrificing their lives in preference to alcohol.

In the absence of any distractions, I think, the people who worked on films, gathered and relieved their day’s tensions spending evenings cheering with each other.Those were not the days one could drink with elders of the family or even drink at home.

But, in most cases, alcohol invaded a film aspirant’s life much before he made it to films. Later, when successful, it was used to celebrate. There was a time in the industry when the non-drinkers found it tough to communicate. Or, be a part of the circuit.

So, the sequence of events in the film industry went something like this. A film was launched with, what was called, a mahurat or a grand mahurat in the case of a big star cast film. This mahurat was a typical performing of a Pooja with distribution of sweets, usually laddoos, to the guests gracing the occasion. The ritual was followed by all filmmakers, Hindu, Muslim and Sikh, alike. It was in keeping with the sentiments of the cast and the crew of the film.

The mahurat formality done, the real celebration started in the evening. The venue would be a five-star hotel and the magic words on the invite were: To celebrate the successful launching of …….. Over cocktails and dinner! And, the birds of a feather flocked together. Such jaunts were aimed at the media, cast and crew. They sort of created a bonding.

The fact was a lot of people attended a film mahurat, the real event was the cocktails and dinner that were looked forward to. There was an old adage that India mei doodh ki nadiya behti thi. In a film industry function, it was Daru ki nadiya, literally. The supply never ran out. And, if it did, the party was certified by the media as a flop party!

A cocktail party excuse was found at every opportunity, be it a film launch, a film celebrating 100 days, 25 weeks and so on.

The story sittings — again, held in some hotel room so that writer and director worked peacefully — were usually drinking binges. If a distributor arrived from other city, it was a custom for the producer to entertain him with drinks.

Most of the filmstars took to alcohol before they started their careers. When one saw references to aunty ka adda or Pascal ka adda in 1970s films, these were real-life projections and referred to real-life hooch joints of suburban Mumbai. Pascal’s was a joint near the National College in Bandra; aunties were all over the suburbs. A lot of actors have confessed to being patron of these hooch joints in their chats with the media over a period.

The only difference was that, when some of these strugglers became stars, they changed to Scotch but kept grumbling about the Scotch being no match for hooch!

Talking of Scotch, every filmmaker worth his name, believed in serving only Scotch at his party. There were suppliers of this product and there was a community which was said to specialise in making Scotch out of the best of Indian whiskies. The belief in those days was this: Mumbai consumes more Scotch per year than Scotland produces!

Nobody liked to drink alone. Especially the stars. While most of the stars had their session with a close coterie, there were a few which liked crowds, called chamchas or the hangers on, in those days. And, when it came to such sycophants hanging around a star, I think, Rajesh Khanna stole a march over all his contemporaries.

In the times past, films were shot over a couple of years, in instalments of a few days at a time and a long hiatus followed. It was all done on borrowed monies. Yet, no such shooting schedule ended without ‘schedule completion celebrations’ on the last evening. I have been a party to a few of them. If the director and the stars got along well, usually, the day’s shooting culminated in a drinking session at the star’s house.

Throwing party was a norm with both filmmakers and music companies. The latter did that on the release of an album as well as to celebrate its success. That assured media turnout. Now, no such parties are thrown. Events are held during the day and the target media is mostly electronic. The media folk have to run from event to event and also meet deadlines. That has put paid to the cocktails era.

Most of the aspirants who alighted from the Frontier Mail, like Dharmendra, had nothing to go back to if they failed to make it in Mumbai. There was only films where one could try his luck. No TV or other avenues like we have today. This lot had no family sending bank transfers. On the days when things did not work out, it ended at Pascal’s or Aunty’s. Again, it has been reflected in a lot of films of that era.

Alcohol addiction proved fatal, especially when a filmmaker or actor faced a bad patch as one got into frustration and self-pity, drowning it all in alcohol leading to death. A couple of reputed directors could not avoid drinking while suffering from jaundice, leading to death.

Nobody cared which producers were regulars but what mattered were the actors.

Then came a generation of actors that abhorred the stuff. There was a new triumvirate in Sunny Deol, Anil Kapoor and Jackie Shroff. Sunny and Anil were non-drinkers while Jackie was an undemonstrative drinker. No after drinks stories about him.

There were some who decided to stop drinking. And, that affected their social life. There is the example of the bigtime publicist, Bunny Reuben, who handled media for big banners, from RK Studios to BR Films and many more. Drinking and inviting the media to share it was a norm for his kind of work. But, once he gave up drinking, he gradually started withdrawing from socialising. He stopped attending his own clients’ cocktail functions and that began telling on his work.

However, there are also instances where saying goodbye to alcohol helped eminent men turn a new leaf.The two prime examples are Mahesh Bhatt and Javed Akhtar. Both chronic drinkers gave up not only drinking but also smoking one fine day and successfully returned to glory to their respective fields, filmmaking and writing.

The in-between generation of actors, at least some of them, were addicted to mild drugs along with smoking. But, the later generation was reported to be more on high drugs, the sniffing kind. Those who drink among the present lot do it more as a fashion statement and stick to Vodka or Tequila shots. No more hardcore drinkers now.

The liquor will flow again next week during the traditional Diwali cards sessions. There are a few producers and some actors who arrange card playing parties. Diwali card sessions are a practise followed by every generation and, often, some film deals are struck here.

@The Box Office

  • The current period, known as Pre-Diwali, is considered to be the dullest of the year but the week saw the release of as many as 11 Hindi films! All to a disastrous outcome. Most of these don’t have the power to draw footfalls. Releasing such films only adds to the losses as let alone the production costs, which is gone anyway but will entail distribution costs in addition.

The films are “Laal Kaptaan”, “Ghost”, “#Yaaram”, “Kirket”, “P Se Pyar F Se Faraar”, “Junction Varanasi”, “Love Shots”, “Officer Arjun Singh IPS”, “Jacqueline I Am Coming”, “Life Mei Time Nahi Hai Kisiko” and “Zindagi Tumse”.

Besides the dull period, even the titles of most of these films are enough to put off a moviegoer.

  • “War” ruled in its first week with highly enhanced admission rates and braved the dull period. However, the going slowed down as the days progressed. The film could add Rs 46.5 crore (plus Rs 3 crore from Tamil and Telugu versions) in its second week according to YRF. This takes the film’s two week total to Rs 275 crore.
  • By VINOD MIRANI

India

India wants to focus on connectivity to Buddhist sites: PM Modi

The Prime Minister said that the event is also known as Guru Purnima. “This is a day to remember our gurus who gave us knowledge. In that spirit, we pay homage to Lord Buddha,” PM said.

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Modi PM

New Delhi, July 4 : Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the occasion of Asaadh Poornima and the inauguration of the Dharma Chakra Day, on Saturday, said India wants to focus on connectivity to Buddhist sites to improve tourism.

The Prime Minister’s remark came at a time when the country is passing through its worst economic phase and needs improvement in all sectors including tourism to attract revenue.

“We want to focus on connectivity to Buddhist sites. A few days back the Indian cabinet announced that Kushinagar airport will be an international one. This will bring people, pilgrims and tourists,” Modi said.

Addressing through video conferencing, Modi said he is very hopeful about the 21st century and this hope comes from young friends. He lauded the efforts of youths in start-up sectors saying, “If you want to see a great example of how hope, innovation and compassion can remove suffering, it is our start-up sector led by our youths,”

Noting that bright young minds are finding solutions to global problems, the Prime Minister said India has one of the largest start-up eco-systems and I would urge my young friends to also stay connected with the thoughts of Lord Buddha so that they could be motivated and find the way ahead.

The Prime Minister said that the event is also known as Guru Purnima. “This is a day to remember our gurus who gave us knowledge. In that spirit, we pay homage to Lord Buddha,” PM said.

“The eight-fold path of Lord Buddha shows the way towards the well-being of many societies and nations. It highlights the importance of compassion and kindness. The teachings of Lord Buddha celebrate simplicity, both in thought and action,” He said.

Buddhism teaches respect for people, the poor and women, for peace and non-violence. “Therefore, the teachings of Buddhism are the means to a sustainable planet.”

“In his very first sermon in Sarnath, and his teachings after that, Lord Buddha spoke on two things — hope and purpose. He saw a strong link between them. From hope comes a spirit of purpose,” the Prime Minister said.

Talking of the fight against the novel coronavirus pandemic, the Prime Minister said the world is fighting against this virus with extraordinary challenges. To these challenges, he said, lasting solutions can come from the ideals of Lord Buddha. “They were relevant in the past. They are relevant in the present. And, they will continue to remain relevant in the future.”

“May the thoughts of Lord Buddha further brighten togetherness and brotherhood. May his blessings inspire us to do good,” the Prime Minister added.

This day is also aptly observed as Guru Poornima by both Buddhists and Hindus as a day to mark reverence to their Gurus. The day is celebrated as Dharma Chakra Day by the International Buddhist Confederation (IBC), under the Ministry of Culture. This day commemorates Buddha”s First Sermon to his first five ascetic disciples at the Deer Park, Rsipatana in the present-day Sarnath near Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh.

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Explore history of America in Philadelphia

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This Fourth of July, travel back in time to explore American Revolution history in Philadelphia is called the Birthplace of America and the first World Heritage City in the United States. This is where the great American Dream was founded. It’s where courageous visionaries crafted the model for modern-day democracy that inspires people globally to embrace the power of their individuality and our human potential.

This Fourth of July, relive the birth of United States with virtual tours of the Historic Mile in Philadelphia. Within one square mile, visitors will find all of the below and more:

  • Independence Hall, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that changed the world as this was where the several fundamental debates took place that lay the foundation of the United States of America and helped the founders of the nation to adopt both the Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution.
  • The Liberty Bell, a symbol of freedom that predates the birth of the USA. Legend holds it sustained its trademark crack when it was rung to announce the signing of the Declaration of Independence.
  • The Museum of the American Revolution explores the dynamic story of the American Revolution using its rich collection of Revolutionary-era artifacts, personal items, letters, diaries, and works of art.
  • The President’s House, where both George Washington and John Adams spent most of their presidencies before the White House was built in Washington, D.C.
  • National Museum of American Jewish History, the only major national museum dedicated to telling the story of the Jewish people in America from 1654 to present.
  • African American Museum in Philadelphia, where visitors can explore the history and stories of African-American people and those of the African Diaspora. The exhibit Audacious Freedom: African Americans in Philadelphia 1776 – 1876 recounts the stories of and contributions made by people of African descent in Philadelphia during the tumultuous years following the founding of this nation.
  • The National Constitution Center, an interactive museum dedicated to the document on which the nation was founded, and the impact different interpretations of the document have had on the nation and world since it was adopted in 1789. Hamilton: The Constitutional Clashes That Shaped a Nation an exhibit that explores Alexander Hamilton’s fraught relationships with James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and Aaron Burr, provides an intimate look into the founding father’s enduring role in the constitutional and political arguments that continue to create sparks to this day, through December 31, 2019.
  • Carpenters’ Hall, the meeting place of the First Continental Congress in 1774. The seeds of the American Revolution were planted here when delegates from 12 of the 13 colonies agreed to boycott British imports.
  • Benjamin Franklin Museum and Franklin Court, the Philadelphia home of statesman, author, printer, inventor, postmaster, activist and more. The building also is the first post office in the United States.
  • The American Philosophical Society Museum is the oldest learned society in the United States, founded in 1743 by Benjamin Franklin for the purpose of “promoting useful knowledge.” See exhibitions drawn from the Society’s renowned collections that trace American history and science from the Founding Fathers to the digital age.
  • Elfreth’s Alley, the oldest continuously-inhabited street in America.
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India

Chidambaram hails decision to skip Ganesh fest amid Covid pandemic

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P Chidambaram

New Delhi, July 1 : After it was announced that the iconic Lalbaugcha Raja Ganesh idol in Mumbai will not be established during the upcoming 11-day Ganeshotsav starting August 22 in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, senior Congress leader and former Union Minister P. Chidambaram on Wednesday hailed the decision taken by the organisers.

“I congratulate the organisers of the annual Ganesh festival for the decision to call off the celebrations this year and instead organise a plasma donation camp over the 11 days,” Chidambaram said in a statement.

Earlier, while announcing its decision to cancel this year”s annual event that draws unprecedented crowd each year, the Lalbaugcha Mandal informed that instead of celebrating the Ganesh festival, it has decided to celebrate it as a health festival. Apart from organising blood donation camps and running a campaign for plasma donation, it has also decided to donate Rs 25 lakh to the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund for fighting the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Ganesh idol at Lalbaugcha in Mumbai’s Parel area is considered to be the tallest in the city and is among the biggest crowd-pullers.

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