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NGMA was perfect platform to raise the questions that I did: Amol Palekar

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Amol Palekar

Mumbai, Feb 11 (IANS) There couldn’t have been a better platform than the National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA) to raise the questions that he did, says veteran actor-director Amol Palekar, who was interrupted at the venue here when he became critical of the government.

Last week, at the NGMA, Palekar was invited as a guest speaker at the opening of an exhibition in memory of artist Prabhakar Barwe. He was stopped midway as he expressed concern over policy changes that will give the Ministry of Culture at the Centre the sole right to decide the contents and themes of exhibitions to be held at the NGMA in Mumbai and Bengaluru.

Palekar said there’s nothing to be “shocked” about what happened.

Excerpts from the interview:

Q. How did you react when you were told on stage, in not so many words, to shut up?

A. I was disturbed. Breaking all norms of decency… So I was disturbed. But I kept my composure and maintained my decorum, although the line of decency was crossed on stage.

Q. What exactly is the background for this rude intervention that you had to face on stage?

A. Have you seen my full speech? It is on the net. Please read it. I was only allowed to say half the things that I was meant to (on stage).

Q. This is not an atmosphere conducive to a healthy debate?

A. It is not. That’s what I was trying to say after I was stopped from speaking. The justification on their part for interrupting me… and they insist that they were not interrupting me but requesting me… Was it inappropriate on my part to raise these issues on a platform like this. But my argument is, in fact this was just the right platform to raise the issue because I was raising questions related to the NGMA.

I began by speaking about Barwe, how I personally knew him and what I thought of him as an artiste and his art. I can immodestly say that I was the only speaker at the event who spoke about Barwe’s art.

Q. Then what happened?

A. Then I said this was the last retrospective that was likely to happen in the hallowed and sacrosanct premises of the NGMA, and then I spoke about how the advisory committee had been scrapped. Ultimately, I concluded wondering what Barwe would’ve thought of this (the scrapping of the committee and the cancellation of further retrospectives of artistes) if he was here.

Q. They would argue that that’s not what you were invited to say?

A. I don’t think I brought the topic unnecessarily or said anything irrelevant. According to me, it was the perfect platform for raising the questions that I did. I mean, if I don’t raise questions on the workings of the NGMA at the NGMA, then where should I raise them? Should I raise them at a private dinner at the dining table?

Q. As a crusader of true democracy, how do you compare the attitude of the current government as compared with previous governments?

A. I’d say censorship now is increased manifold as compared to earlier on. I’ve been fighting against censorship forever. I fought my first case against censorship in the late 1960s or early 1970s. Even now, I have petitioned in the Supreme Court against censorship in cinema. In the Mumbai High Court, I’ve petitioned against censorship in theatre. I’ve been fighting censorship all my life. And I will continue to do so.

Q. What would you say about censorship laws of our country?

A. I’d say censorship in any form is wrong. Nowadays, anyone can get up and say his sentiments are hurt, that his faith is being disturbed. Or he can say he doesn’t like the size of Amol Palekar’s nose, so chop it off.

Q. Not yours sir, they wanted to chop off Deepika Padukone’s nose?

A. It’s the same malaise.

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Big B to give Rs 5 lakh to each slain CRPF trooper’s family

The actor is currently finding out “from several government sources where and how the amount will be distributed to ensure it is expedited”.

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amitabh bachchan

Mumbai, Feb 16 (IANS) Megastar Amitabh Bachchan will be donating Rs 5 lakh each to the families of 49 CRPF troppers who died in the terror attack in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama district.

In the worst ever terror attack in Jammu and Kashmir since militancy erupted in 1989, a Jaish-e-Mohammad suicide bomber on Thursday rammed his vehicle packed with explosives into a Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) bus on the Jammu-Srinagar highway in Pulwama district, killing at least 40 troopers on the spot. The toll rose to 49 on Friday as several injured succumbed.

The actor is currently finding out “from several government sources where and how the amount will be distributed to ensure it is expedited”.

His spokesperson confirmed the news, saying: “Yes, Mr Bachchan will be giving Rs 5 lakh to each of the martyr’s families and is currently finding out the correct process to do so.”

The “Piku” actor on Friday also cancelled his attendance as a special guest of Virat Kohli’s Foundation event, which will now be held on Saturday.

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Zarina Wahab to play Modi’s mother in biopic

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Zarina Wahab

Mumbai, Feb 16: Veteran actress Zarina Wahab will be seen playing the role of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s mother Heeraben Modi in the upcoming biopic “PM Narendra Modi”. She says it’s special.

“It’s an honour to play the role of the mother of Honourable Prime Minister Narendra Modi. This is going to be one of the most special roles I have ever played. I hope the audience like it,” Zarina said in a statement.

Television actress Barkha Bisht Sengupta will be playing Modi’s wife Jashodaben in the film. She had a great experience shooting for the film, Bisht said.

“I am grateful to Sandip Ssingh (producer) for giving me an opportunity to be a part of such an amazing film. I had a great experience working with him earlier in ‘Goliyon Ki Rasleela Ram-Leela’ and I know playing Jashodaben is going to be interesting too,” Barkha said.

The film also stars Manoj Joshi (as BJP chief Amit Shah), Prashant Narayanan, Boman Irani, Darshan Kumar, Akshat R. Saluja, Anjan Shrivastav, Rajendra Gupta and Yatin Karyekar. Actor Vivek Anand Oberoi will be playing the title role of Modi.

“These two characters were one of the most crucial ones in the film. I am glad that Zarinaji agreed on doing it as no one other than her could have done a better job. Barkha is playing his wife and she is doing a great job,” Producer Sandip Ssingh said.

“PM Narendra Modi”, the biopic will discover the journey of Narendra Damodardas Modi from his humble beginning to his years as Gujarat Chief Minister onto his landmark win at the 2014 general election, finally becoming the 14th Prime Minister of India.

It is being directed by National Award-winner Omung Kumar. The biopic will be shot extensively in Gujarat and across locations within the country.

IANS

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How come Jhansi Ki Rani can dance but not Rani Padmavati?

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Manikarnika Padmaavat

New Delhi, Feb 16: Director Krish Jagarlamudi is done with the bickering with Kangana Ranaut.

“I’ve had my say. No more. If she wants to believe she directed all of ‘Manikarnika’, so be it. Everyone knows the truth,” asserts Krish and vows to not get into any more war of words with the film’s aggressive leading lady and co-director.

However, one major issue that needs to be addressed is the singing and dancing that the Queen of Jhansi is seen indulging in with her subjects. In an elaborate song and dance sequence, Rani Laxmibai embarrasses the hell out of her husband, the King of Jhansi (played by Jisshu Sengupta) by dancing with the people of their state in a pregnant condition.

A source very close to the film says that the song and dance during times of raging battles was Kangana’s idea.

“Ek toh Rani, opoopar se garbhbati (firstly a queen and above it, pregnant). How can she be shown dancing in that unbecoming fashion? Krish was totally against the idea. The song-and-dance was added on by Kangana after Krish left,” the source says.

Significantly, when another Queen, Padmavati in an epic film in January 2018, Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s “Padmaavat”, got up from her throne to take to the dance floor with her ladies-in-waiting, all hell had broken loose.

Deepika’s Rani Padmaavati was shown dancing to the Ghoomar song in the most graceful and queenly manner in a closed environment with the women from her durbar.

Bhansali said: “We wanted the Ghoomar song and dance to retain its purity since this was being performed by Rani Padmavati. Every step and every move in the dance form celebrates the grace of royalty.

“This is our dance tribute to the brave Rajput women of Rajasthan. I heard how little children performing the Ghoomar dance at a school in India were stopped.

“I’d like to tell those disruptive elements that you can’t stop something as beautiful and innocent as this from reaching out to the hearts of people across the world.”

Bhansali’s heart swells with pride to see Ghoomar reaching into the hearts and feet of American kids.

Says the director: “What better illustration of Prime Minster Narendra Modiji’s Make In India policy? I feel our culture is so rich and varied. We’ve so much to give the West. Why not take our culture and art forms to the West rather than continuously borrow their lifestyle and culture?”

All hell had broken lose with fringe groups demanding that the song-and-dance be removed or else they would cut off Deepika’s nose.

Says a source very close to the “Padmaavat” team: “When we showed Deepika dancing in the Queen’s inner chambers, we had to digitally cover Deepika’s midriff before the censor board allowed the Ghoomar song.

“Now in ‘Manikarnika’, again about a Queen, Kangana’s Rani Laxmibai jumps off her seat and breaks into a street-side jig with the commoners. That was okay? What is good enough for Rani Laxmbai is not befitting for Rani Padmavati? Please figure out that one.”

When pressed for a response, Krish said: “I don’t know where the singing and dancing came from. It wasn’t there when I was directing ‘Manikarnika’.”

The question remains: Why was it not right for Rani Padmavati to dance when everyone seems okay with the Rani Of Jhansi shaking a leg, midriff forgotten?

IANS

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