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Irada’: Good intention poorly executed

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NewDelhi, Feb 17: If “Udta Punjab” unearthed the can of drugs in Punjab — India’s wheat bowl — then “Irada” throws light on the cause of cancer there.

Fictionalised, dramatised and mounted as a semi-documentary, Director Aparnaa Singh’s attempt to showcase this issue is a remarkable feat.

The plot revolves around Parabjit Walia an ex-army officer and an inspirational writer, who loses his daughter Riya to lung carcinoma. He chances upon a news where Maya Singh a journalist inks the face of the industrialist and philanthropist Paddy Sharma at a Press Conference, after her activist boyfriend Anirudh Dutt goes missing.

On delving further into Maya’s action he realises there is some truth behind her claims.

Meanwhile, an accidental blast destroys Paddy’s factory that indulges in reverse boring. Driven by his loss, he instructs Ramandeep Braitch, the Chief Minister to close the investigation of his factory blast at the earliest, so that he may claim the insurance.

Thinking that she has a puppet in Arjun Mishra the investigating officer from the National Investigating Agency (NIA), she hands over the case to him. But how their plans back fire forms the crux of the tale.

While the intention of the film is clear, the plot and the screenplay lack depth. The narrative is amateurishly mounted making the entire attempt futile. The tackling of the investigation seems very superficial, packed with hollow, rhetoric dialogues.

Also the constant allusion to Ajay Devgan’s Singham, makes the entire script seem tacky. It loses its seriousness, as it seems to caters to the front benchers.

The genre fluctuates from an investigative thriller to a comedy with natural ease throwing the emotional quotient out of the window.

Naseeruddin Shah as the disciplinarian Parabjit Walia lacks the charisma and the gravitas required for the character. He is himself and does not add any nuance to his role. He is thus a bit of a disappointment. Also, his character, painted in many hues emits a bland image and here the fault lies with the director and the script writer.

Arshad Warsi as the Investigating officer Arjun Mishra is charming, but he is limited by his role.

Divya Dutta essaying the role of Ramandeep Braitch, steals the show with her powerful demeanour. She bites into her role with the ferociousness of a tigress and leaves no stone unturned to turn tables in her favour. She excels as the flagellating politician.

Sharad Kelkar as Paddy is perfunctory. Rumana Molla as Parabjit’s daughter Riya Walia and Sagarika Ghatge as Maya Singh are sincere.

With moderate production values, the film is astutely mounted. The background scores and songs integrate seamlessly into the narration. The camera work and editing especially the transition in certain scenes seem mediocre.

Overall, the film is a sincere and decent attempt by the Director in her maiden venture.

Film: “Irada”; Director: Aparnaa Singh; Cast: Arshad Warsi, Naseeruddin Shah, Divya Dutta, Sharad Kelkar, Rumana Molla, Sagarika Ghatge, Diwakar Kumar; Rating: **1/2

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India

Truckers ‘postpone’ strike following request from centre

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Truckers

Kolkata/New Delhi, June 22 (IANS) Truckers on Friday “temporarily postponed” their ongoing indefinite nationwide strike following a request from the Central government as Road Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari was out of station.

The strike, that began from June 18, had been called from June 18 against the high diesel prices, high toll rates and a sharp hike of third party insurance premium, and had entered the fifth day on Friday.

In a media release, All India Confederation of Goods Vehicle Owners’ Association — which had called the strike — said the decision was taken following a telephone call from the Centre, which asked the strikers to come for discussion after June 27.

“We have received telephone call from (the) Central ministry, that since the Minister is not in station till June 27, (they have requested us) to call off the strike and come for discussion after June 27,” said AICOGOA General Secretary Rajendra Singh and President B. Channa Reddy.

“In view of this and in public interest, we have (decided to) postpone the truckers’ strike,” they said.

The AICOGOA said the call for talks was received from Gadkari’s office.

“We received call from Union Minister Nitin Gadkari’s office and they have called us to talk… We have temporarily called off the strike because it was affecting truckers and people both,” another AICOGOA General Secretary Kausar Hussain told IANS.

Over 50 lakh vehicles remained off the road during the strike.

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‘Love Sonia’ a powerful reminder of women’s exploitation, says producer

The film, starring Demi Moore, Richa Chadha, Frieda Pinto, Manoj Bajpayee, Rajkummar Rao and Sai Tamhankar among others, highlights the exploitation of young women in global sex trafficking.

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Love Sonia poster

London, June 22 (IANS) Europe’s largest South Asian film event, the Bagri Foundation London Indian Film Festival, opened on Thursday night with the world premiere of Tabrez Noorani’s “Love Sonia”. Its producer David Womark says the movie is a poignant and timely reminder of the exploitation women face in transnational sex trade.

The film, starring Demi Moore, Richa Chadha, Frieda Pinto, Manoj Bajpayee, Rajkummar Rao and Sai Tamhankar among others, highlights the exploitation of young women in global sex trafficking.

“Love Sonia” features the struggle of a teenager, played by Mrunal Thakur, to try to rescue her younger sister from Mumbai’s sex industry, but in the process she finds herself trapped in the trade.

Thakur, in her debut, is quite impressive and holds her own in the presence of much more experienced actors. Manoj plays the ruthless head of a brothel who runs it as pure business.

Many films on this theme have been made in India, but “Love Sonia” goes a step further by projecting a more dangerous and international dimension of the sex trafficking.

After the screening, Richa said it was quite educational to play a woman who exploits other women. But her character later kills herself to help Sonia run away who is then rescued.

Womark said “Love Sonia” was surprisingly rejected by leading international film festivals like Cannes and Sundance.

He said the film, which comes at the time of the global ‘Me Too’ movement, is a powerful reminder of the exploitation of young women in the transnational sex trade. He suggested that the film might have been accepted at other major festivals had the director and producers been women. But he was glad that it had its world premiere at the London Indian Film Festival.

The movie will release in India in September.

Its premiere was also attended by the film’s executive producer Pravesh Sahni, co-producer Amar Butala, sound mixer Resul Pookutty, writer Alkesh Vaja, composer Niels Bye Nielsen, editor Martin Singer, production designer Ravi Srivastav; make-up artist Virginia Holmes and co-producer Nadim George.

(Naresh Kaushik is a senior journalist based in London. He can be contacted at [email protected])

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Sahitya Akademi announces Bal and Yuva Puraskar for 2018

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Sahitya Akademi

New Delhi, June 22: India’s national academy of letters, the Sahitya Akademi, on Friday announced the names of 21 winners of its Bal Sahitya Puraskar and 21 recipients of the Yuva Puraskar for this year.

The Bal Puraskar awards will be conferred at a function on November 14, which is celebrated as Children’s Day, being the birth anniversary of India’s first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru. The date for conferring the Yuva Puraskar awards has not been declared yet.

“The awards were recommended by jury members representing 22 Indian languages, and approved by the Executive Board of the Sahitya Akademi which met today under the Chairmanship of Dr. Chandrashekhar Kambar, President, Sahitya Akademi,” a statement said.

“Ten books of poetry, seven of short stories, three novels and one play” have been chosen for the Yuva Puraskar award.

The award comprises a casket containing an engraved copper-plaque and a cheque of Rs 50,000 for both types of awards.

In the children’s category, awards have been declared for: Jugallochan Das (Assamese), Shirshendu Mukhopadhyay (Bengali), Sitaram Basumatary (Bodo), Easterine Kire (English), Chandrakant Sheth (Gujarati), Divik Ramesh (Hindi), Kanchyani Sharanappa Shivasangappa (Kannada), Zareef Ahmad Zareef (Kashmiri), Kumud Bhiku Naik (Konkani), Vaidya Nath Jha (Maithili), P.K. Gopi (Malayalam), Khangembam Shamungou (Manipuri).

Also named for the awards are: Ratnakar Matkari (Marathi), Bhim Pradhan (Nepali), Birendra Mohanty (Odia), Tarsem(Punjabi), C.L. Sankhla (Rajasthani), Sampadanand Mishra (Sanskrit), Laxminarayan Hansda (Santali), Kalpana Ashok Chellani (Sindhi), Kriungai Sethupathy (Tamil), Naramshetti Umamaheswar Rao (Telugu) and Rais Siddiqui (Urdu).

The award in the Dogri language category will be announced at a later date.

Poetry dominated the Yuva Puraskar awards this year. They have been declared for Samragnee Bandyopadhyay (Bengali), Esha Dadawala (Gujarati), Aasteek Vajpeyi (Hindi), Wilma Bantwal (Konkani), Umesh Paswan (Maithili), Tongbram Amarjit Singh (Manipuri), Jayadratha Suna (Odia), Dushyant Joshi (Rajasthani), Muni Rajsundar Vijay (Sanskrit) and Bala Sudhakar Mouli (Telugu).

The awardees in the short stories category include Bipasha Bora (Assamese), Padmanabha Bhat (Kannada), Dheeba Nazir (Kashmiri), Chhuden Kabimu (Nepali), Rani Murmu (Santali), Suneel Krishnan (Tamil), Shahnaz Rahman (Urdu).

The awards in the ‘novel’ category will be given to Amal (Malayalam), Navnath Gore (Marathi) and Gurpreet Sehji (Punjabi). Champa Chetnani has been cited for her Sindhi play.

No book was “found suitable” in the English language category. Awards for Bodo will be declared at a later date, while no award has been announced for Dogri.

Established in 1954 by the Indian government, Sahitya Akademi is India’s premier literary institution, promoting preserving literature in 24 languages.

IANS

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