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Strength I gained living in Himalayas still within me: Modi

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Modi to feature on Man Vs Wild

New Delhi, Aug 13 (IANS) British adventurer Bear Grylls, who hosts the popular Discovery Channel show “Man Vs Wild”, has mentioned about how Prime Minister Narendra Modi has actually spent time in the jungle as a younger man, citing the experience as the reason why he showed no apparent discomfort when he was out shooting for the extreme adventure show.

Indeed, in a special episode of the show shot at Jim Corbett National Park in Uttarakhand and aired on Monday, Prime Minister Modi remained calm in the face of the adversities that nature tossed at him.

For the 45-year-old adventurer, Prime Minister Modi’s composure despite extreme weather might have been a revelation. However, those in the know, recall his sturdy phase in the younger days – the two years he spent in the Himalayas in search of God – which Grylls mentioned as his time spent in the jungle as a younger man.

Not much is known about those two years. Now, some details have emerged about that time in the Prime Minister’s life. According to Kalindi Randeri, author of “Narendra Modi: The Architect Of Modern State”, he was irked by family issues, which is why he decided to embark on a journey to the Himalayas to seek the truths of life.

Randeri writes in her book: “One dark night Modi left his home and simply vanished away.”

For the next two years, Modi stayed in the caves of Himalayas as a monk, she writes, and during this time, he met another monk there.

The monk asked him his reason for wandering in the Himalayas and Modi replied that he was there in search of God.

Then the monk told Modi he was too young, and that he did not need to wander in the Himalayas in search of God. He could find God by serving people and society.

So, Modi returned among people, but not to family life.

At the age of 17 in 1967, he went to Belur Math and became an ascetic. There he met Swami Madhavananda.

The Prime Minister terms those two years in the Himalayan wilds as an urge to understand the spiritual world.

“I was 17 or 18 when I left my home and was thinking about what to do next. I was trying to understand the world and wanted to see the spiritual world. Then, I stayed in the Himalayas, amid nature. It was a wonderful experience,” he said.

Subsequently, Modi started his political career and joined Bharatiya Janata Party. The rest is history.

On Monday, the Indian secret service had closed the airspace at Corbett so Grylls had to get down from his helicopter at one point and walk for 6.4 km to meet Modi. He waited for two hours to meet the Prime Minister, and was anxious about taking him into the jungle, given its wet and cold conditions.

Prime Minister Modi, however, was in no mood for anxiety. Out on his jungle adventure, his calm demeanour all through made one think that, perhaps, memories of those two years of his youth in wilderness, searching for God, played in his mind all along and egged him on in his new adventure.

“The strength that I gained after my stay in the Himalayas is still within me. I met people who believed in minimalist living and leaving no carbon footprints,” Modi said at one point.

He said he was happy to spend time with Grylls and go for a new experience.

“Bear is taking me to a Jim Corbett mission. It is a wonderful journey. Jim Corbett is perfect for people looking to spend time with nature, mountains, river and wildlife. There’s so much ecological diversity. India is a diverse country with over 100 languages, and 1,600 dialects,” he said, finding the essence of the multicultural motherland in the diversity of nature.

Trekking through the wilds brought back flashes of Modi’s childhood. He recalled his humble beginnings.

“I come from a small place in western Gujarat. I was born there, grew up there, studied there and then started working for public welfare. I hail from a normal family – a small life with mother and father. We were not financially strong and I studied in a government school. But there was always connect with nature.”

Bear asked if he was a good student, to which the Prime Minister laughed and said: “I can’t say I was a good student.”

Modi’s connect with nature, even at a young age, was not just about his personality. It was about survival, too, as is evident in an anecdote he shared, revealing how his family at times did not have money to buy soap. “We lived in a dry region. During winter, dew gets gathered and forms a layer of salt in such places. We used to collect it and soak it in warm water and use it as detergent even for taking bath,” Modi said.

The Prime Minister also said that he didn’t have a great life growing up.

“Dirty clothes were normal for me, but for school, I used to dress up perfectly. We didn’t have an iron, so I used to iron my school uniform by collecting coal and burning them, and then putting them in a utensil to use it as an iron on my uniform,” he said.

“My father had a small tea stall. I used to help him by going to the railway station to sell tea before going to school. The railways played a very important role in my life.”

There were the fun moments, too, as Prime Minister Modi made an improvised spear along with Grylls. “Oh, so this is your weapon!” he chuckled at Grylls.

Was he scared? “God takes care of you. Sab uparwaale ke bharose chhod do (leave everything to the almighty),” he said.

Clearly, he was enjoying his oneness with nature. It was, in his own words, his first holiday in 18 years, since he had taken over as Gujarat Chief Minister all those years ago.

“I was CM of a state and worked for the state for 13 years. It was a new journey for me. Then the country decided to do this (the Prime Ministership) and I am doing. My focus is on development and I am satisfied to see where it is going. If I treat this experience as my vacation, then this would be my first vacation in 18 years,” he revealed.

Does he think about his powerful position? “In my mind, I never think of what I am. Whether I am a CM or a PM, I only think about my responsibilities and work, not my position,” he replied.

The talk once again veers back to his childhood and, quite in sync with the wild rendezvous, come up the mention of the time when Modi, as a boy, took a crocodile home.

“We used to take a bath in a pond, and once I found a baby of a crocodile and for it home. My mother asked me to take it back, so I took it back,” he reminisced, adding: “One should never fear nature. When we think of conflict of nature, the problems start. When we were young and it used to rain, my father used to get 25-30 postcards despite our financial crunch and used to write to relatives about the rains in our place. We used to wonder why he used to do it. We understand the importance of rain today.”

His childhood, he added, taught him to love nature. “Nature was a big part of life. In fact, my father’s mother, who was uneducated, once asked my uncle, who wanted to start a business of selling wood for the stove, not to do that business. It was because she believed that there are living creatures in wood. ‘We will die of hunger and work hard, but not sell wood’, she told him. Environment was an intrinsic part of growing up,” he said.

Did he ever get nervous? “My problem is that I have never felt this emotion. So, I can’t explain it. Kabhi nirash nahi hota,” he said.

His message for the younger generation? “Don’t look at life in pieces, but as a whole with ups and downs.”

As Modi crossed the river in an improvised raft, Grylls exclaimed he would probably be the first Prime Minister in a 100 years to do so!

The Prime Minister seemed to enjoy every bit of his wild experience at Corbett. Although he did mention this did not feel anything new, since he had lived in the Himalayas this way.

Entertainment

“Taarak Mehta..” cast cherishes time spent with PM Modi

“Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah”, which premiered in July 2008, is one of India’s favourite family comedy shows. Produced by Neela Tele Films Private Limited, the show is conceived and designed by Asit Kumarr Modi.

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Aamir Khan Shahrukh Khan Modi

New Delhi, Oct 21 : Prime Minister Narendra Modi took out time with the “Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah” cast members including Dilip Joshi, Gurucharan Singh and Sonalika Joshi in the Capital over the weekend. It was nothing less than a proud moment for the actors, who went back with moments they will cherish forever.

The team of “Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah” was part of a huge Bollywood delegation that met PM Modi on Saturday, where the Prime Minister encouraged the film industry to make more films on Mahatma Gandhi and Gandhism. PM Modi has described the experience as an “excellent interaction with leading film personalities and cultural icons”. The list of celebrities included Shah Rukh khan, Aamir Khan, Kangana Ranaut, Jacqueline Fernandez and Sonam Kapoor.

Sonalika Joshi took to Instagram to post a screenshot of a photo featuring some of her co-stars with PM Modi. “So so proud feeling and feeling so blessed. Thank you Taarak Mehta,” she captioned it.

She also posted shots of Rashtrapati Bhavan, all lit up in the evening.

Her co-star Raj Anadkat also posted the same photo and wrote: “Best moment of my life. Feeling on the top of the world. Blessed, thankful and grateful to share this best and proud moment with @tmkoc_ntf. Thank you @narendramodi sir for having us. It was pleasure meeting you.”

Actress Palak Sidhwani also posted photos from her Delhi visit.

“Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah”, which premiered in July 2008, is one of India’s favourite family comedy shows. Produced by Neela Tele Films Private Limited, the show is conceived and designed by Asit Kumarr Modi.

The daily show aims to bring about a positive transformation in the audiences’ perception towards societal issues through comedy.

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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

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PM Modi to Bollywood: Create films on Gandhi and Gandhism

Spotted at the occasion were several eminent stars and filmmakers, including Shah Rukh Khan, Aamir Khan, Kangana Ranaut, Jacqueline Fernandez, Imtiaz Ali, Ekta Kapoor, Anurag Basu, and Boney Kapoor.

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Aamir Khan Shahrukh Khan Modi

New Delhi, Oct 19 : Prime Minister Narendra Modi interacted with members of the film industry on Saturday in the Capital, and several of Bollywood’s top stars were present at the event.

The focus was on inviting the film industry to create films and television shows that popularise Mahatma Gandhi and Gandhism, to mark the 150th birth anniversary of the Father of the Nation.

“Gandhi is synonymous with simplicity. His thoughts reverberate far and wide. The power of creativity is immense, and it is essential to harness this spirit of creativity for our nation. Several people from the world of films and television have been doing great work when it comes to popularising the ideals of Mahatma Gandhi,” noted Prime Minister Modi.

Spotted at the occasion were several eminent stars and filmmakers, including Shah Rukh Khan, Aamir Khan, Kangana Ranaut, Jacqueline Fernandez, Imtiaz Ali, Ekta Kapoor, Anurag Basu, and Boney Kapoor.

“I would like to thank the Prime Minister for bringing us all together, that too for a cause such as this. I feel we need to re-introduce Gandhi ji to India and the world. The film industry can get self-obsessed and it is important we create work that is not only about business,” said Shah Rukh, about the need of the industry to come forward and make films on Gandhi that can help in the nation-building process.

Said Aamir, about the interaction session with the Prime Minister: “It was a wonderful interaction we had with the Prime Minister today. He was very inspiring, very warm and very deep in what he had to say. I want to appreciate the PM for thinking about this effort. As creative people, there is much we can do, and I assure the PM that we will do even more.”

For Kangana, the effort underlines the fact that Prime Minister Modi has recognised the power of the film industry.

“Modi ji is the first Prime Minister who is so inclusive of art and artistes and the film industry. Nobody has recognised the soft power of art and artistes in the country before. From the bottom of my heart and on behalf of the film industry, I thank the Prime Minister,” said Kangana.

Jacqueline said it was “an extreme honour be in the presence of PM Modi ji, and also to have a Prime Minister who is so willing to lend a helping hand to the film fraternity”.

After the session with the PM, producer Ekta Kapoor said she felt that “for the first time it seemed like there is someone who knows our industry better than us”.

Filmmaker Imtiaz Ali noted the tone of informality about the session helped. “The best thing about the session was that it was very informal. The film industry understands the informal language the best. The idea to make films on Gandhi ji will help reintroduce ourselves to Gandhi ji’s philosophy,” he noted.

Said filmmaker Anurag Basu: “When we make films, there are moments we wonder why are we doing this. Today, we got a reason, a direction. All the creative people here are extremely upbeat after the session. I feel we will see results in a year’s time.”

Producer Boney Kapoor added: “This government has always been sympathetic to the film industry right from (Atal Bihari) Vajpayee saab’s time when we were recognised as an industry. Since Mr Modi came in, he has made it a point to ensure every glitch is solved instantly.”

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