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Nepotism Kills? No Way

Nepotism is a much-abused word lately, and the media, with its limited vocabulary, loves to flash it — be it politics, sports or films.

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Sushant Singh Rajput

Since the demise of young and promising actor, Sushant Singh Rajput, nepotism is one word that is much in currency. Does nepotism really exist in the film industry? And if it does, can it make or mar a career? Can nepotism lead a person to end his life?

Nepotism as described in dictionary is: the practice among those with power or influence of favouring relatives or friends, especially by giving them jobs.

Okay, so nepotism has been in existence all over the world but was so taken a given. Probably still is, even in the age of qualified management graduates. These, the qualified lot is used only as subordinates even when an enterprise grows too big, say, like a corporate business house.

In the film industry, nobody, no production house, no enterprise ever grows so big to need to outsource the management of business. The recent trend of the corporate houses entering film business on the strength of management wizards has not been very successful. It is still a one man show.

All over, it is always the next of kin who inherits a business and it is called as a family business.

So, why has the word nepotism suddenly become operative in relation to the film industry? And, do the accusations of nepotism bear so true to lead to the suicide of a young actor?

Favouring one over the other is a human nature with each with its own reason. Favouritism has been a way of life since birth, in family, with parents, with kin and at school as well as at the place of work. Nobody ends life because a mother or a father finds a favourite in another kin, and the same goes when it comes to a school teacher or the boss at work.

Not being a parents” or teacher”s or a boss” favourite has never ruined a person”s prospects, let alone lead to suicide!

The media in India, the electronic kind, decided to sit in judgement and decided that prevailing nepotism in the film industry was the cause of Sushant”s death. That he was driven to it. The channels ran a tirade on prime time TV debates. The panelists consisted of some film-related persons who had not been able to make a mark — mostly film industry rejects.

In a debate, both sides should be represented as in ones who are accused of nepotism as well as those who accuse them in keeping with the channel”s view. The funny thing about these panelists was that, each of them thought they had got into Rajput”s mind and come back. Not only that, they talked as if all of them had a first-hand experience of committing suicide!

Coming back to nepotism, the Hindi film industry has never been run by a single producer”s body, which would look after the sector”s interests. It has as many as four bodies representing the production sector. And we have just about half a dozen major production houses. As things stand now, these production houses have actors on their rosters. Like the oldtime studio system, their careers are managed by these production houses. In that case, it is obvious that these producers would promote only their in-house artistes.

Film producers are a selfish lot. They chase only successful stars who land a face value and, who, they think will assure guaranteed returns. The same producers who ran after Rajesh Khanna were soon chasing Amitabh Bachchan. That is the way it works.

The filmmakers seek the reigning stars. Yash Raj Films was launched with “Daag”, a film with the then superstar, Rajesh Khanna. Don”t know if that is why the company”s name includes the word Raj. “Daag” was a blockbuster but this was just around the time when Khanna”s career had started tapering. The choice shifted to Amitabh Bachchan, and later to Shah Rukh Khan. It was all about worshipping the rising sun.

Sajid Nadiadwala, one of the most successful makers, made films with Salman Khan and the combination worked wonders for both. A few years back, I asked Sajid how things were different, now that he was a big maker with many hits and enjoying a great rapport with Salman!

What he said, was sort of a statement on how things worked in the film industry. Sajid said, earlier I used to take a rickshaw to go to Salman”s house for dates and wait for four hours for him to meet me; now I go in my Bentley to meet and seek dates from him and wait for four hours.

Karan Johar, another big name in today”s scheme of things, swore by Shah Rukh Khan. One saw his pictures in papers like family with the Khan family kids. It looked like a big brotherhood and a lifelong bond of loyalty. After all, Shah Rukh was the reigning superstar and a deity who helped build the empire, miniscule though it may be in terms of real money outside of the film industry.

So, who was it who could have been a threat to the career of Sushant, enough for him to take that drastic step of ending his life?

Akshay Kumar is the reigning superstar of the day. Yash Raj made just one film with him at the beginning of his career, Karan Johar never made a film with him till recently and Sajid Nadiadwala, though Akshay”s schoolmate and a family friend, started working with Akshay only after working with Salman was no longer possible. Yet, Akshay has been around for 30 years now, Yash Raj or not, Karan Johar or not!

Sushant had been around for seven years with 11 films to his credit, which is not bad by any standards. He was on his way to the top. And, nepotism and favouritism notwithstanding, the makers would have come to him eventually.

Money did not seem to be a problem with Sushant considering he paid a few lakh in rent for his sea-facing apartment, equipped with all things dear to him including a professional telescope to gaze at the galaxy, his prime interest. Sushant had also recently made donations of Rs 1.25 crore each to the flood relief funds of Nagaland and Kerala. He was generous with his charity work despite his aspirations to own a house of his own. Besides, he did not seek publicity for his charity work.

There was no dearth of offers, even from reputed filmmakers, and Sushant was known to refuse many despite lucrative offers. Depression strikes to those who have been on the top say, like Manmohan Desai, Prakash Mehra and such who saw the real glory to finally sit at home alone. Rising stars can”t afford depression.

Nepotism is a much-abused word lately, and the media, with its limited vocabulary, loves to flash it — be it politics, sports or films.

(Vinod Mirani is a veteran film writer and box office analyst. The views expressed are personal)

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India at Afghan crossroads as Taliban cocks its guns

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India Army on Desert

New Delhi, July 3 : With Chinese bellicosity reverberating across the world, South Asia is bracing for another jolt — the epicentre of which is neighbouring Afghanistan. The tremors from Kabul will pass through Islamabad and hit Delhi, yet their intensity is not known. To what extent is India prepared is a question mark.

It all began on February 29, when the US signed a deal with the Taliban in Doha, Qatar, to withdraw its forces from the war-torn country after almost 19 long years. Strangely it chose to leave out the elected Afghan government from a deal that impacts the future of Afghans.

The peace deal between the US and Taliban, remains a misnomer. Contrary to the spirit of the deal, the Taliban has increased attacks and the violence has engulfed the landlocked country – right from the maternity ward of a hospital in Kabul, to a gurdwara in prayers; from a funeral site in Nangarhar to a court in Paktia. And, not to mention dozens of Afghan security check-points where many hundreds of security personnel have died.

On its part, the Afghan government is implementing various provisions of the deal, like the release of Taliban prisoners, and President Ashraf Ghani has committed to join the intra-Afghan talks in Doha.

Doha is where the Taliban maintains its political office, and where the US-Taliban deal had been negotiated this February. The US Special Representative for Peace in Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad has been chasing diverse parties including Pakistan for the intra-Afghan talks, reducing violence and release of prisoners. In his recent talks with Afghan leaders, Khalilzad reinforced that peace in Afghanistan is equivalent to peace in the region and the US is ready to invest in this sphere.

However, going by the high levels of violence inflicted by the Taliban the future looks bleak for the nation. It is not difficult to understand why the Taliban has stepped up its deadly attacks across the country – it is looking forward to an American withdrawal to enable a complete takeover of the country. The World Human Rights Watch Report has said that the Taliban”s widespread human rights abuses in areas under its control raise concerns about its willingness to adhere to future agreements.

Besides the two key nations — the US and Afghanistan, there always has been a high-stakes player — Pakistan, with its behind-the-scenes shelter and support to terror groups. In its efforts to control a resource-rich but unstable neighbour, it has played a pivotal role in keeping Afghanistan on the tenterhooks and vulnerable to attacks through battle-hardened terror groups. It has also put in considerable efforts to keep India at bay.

Indian intervention in Afghanistan has been diametrically opposite Pakistan”s — it has pumped in $2 billion aid and assistance for the Afghan people to rebuild the war-ravaged country and promote democracy. India has built dams, power stations, roads, hospitals and trained Afghan people in various aspects of administration and security.

With unprecedented developments happening in Afghanistan, many including Khalilzad are urging India to talk to Taliban. This is a view which even Zamir Kabulov, Russia”s special presidential envoy for Afghanistan, holds. The million dollar question is — how does India view the Taliban, which India has kept at an arm”s length for close to two decades now.

India still looks at Afghanistan as a democratic country that elects a people”s government, while the Taliban is still viewed as a terror group, power hungry and a Pakistani stooge. Indian thinking is still governed by the good old-fashioned theory of an ideal Afghanistan where all tribes come together to hold elections, where terror groups drop their arms and the Afghans climb up the development charts with roads, dams, schools and hospitals with Indian support.

With unbelievable violence engulfing Afghanistan, this looks like an impossible reality. An Indian pipe dream. But what is still possible amidst these impossibilities is that India opens up a window to talk with the Taliban.

The Taliban has made reconciliatory gestures towards India which have been surprising. It has already said that the revocation of Article 370 in Kashmir was an internal matter of India. And, it has said a couple of times that it is open to talks with India. In fact, even the Afghan government has indicated that India should join the intra-Afghan talks as the country has always been supportive of peace in Afghanistan. It wants India to drop its opposition to the Taliban and lend strength to the peace process.

While calls for India”s role in the peace process echo from all sides, the only opposition has come from arch enemy Pakistan, which is still busy playing its ”running with the hare and hunting with the hounds” game. Even as it poses with the US as an ally in the Afghan peace process, it has been sheltering and training various terror groups in attacking both Afghan and Indian interests.

However, the good news for India is that the terror groups are mutating in the Afghan battlefield. While the Taliban is warming up to India, the formidable terror group, Haqqani Network, shares Pakistan”s line of thinking.

The fast-paced developments in Afghanistan have left the field wide open for India to drop its nonchalance and join the talks, paving the way for a bigger Indian role once the US completely withdraws from the region. As the various players in the Afghanistan theatre know, India”s stand at the talks will only be from a point of peace and from a perspective of the Afghan people.

We know that there are no permanent friends and no permanent enemies in international relations. People evolve, entities change but peace still remains a goal worth pursuing. India has pursued that goal for millions of Afghan people for long. It should not give up now.

By : Rahul Kumar

(This content is being carried under an arrangement with indianarrative.com)

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Saroj Khan will live in history of choreography for Indian cinema: Subhash Ghai

She was an integral part of our Mukta Arts family-She was my strong partner in grooming stars like Madhuri Meenakshi, Manisha and Aishwarya. Master of masters.

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Saroj Khan Death

Mumbai, July 3 : Filmmaker Subhash Ghai has described prolific choreographer Saroj Khans death as a “personal loss”, and said that she will forever live in the history of choreography in Indian cinema.

Almost all the biggest films in Ghai”s career had Saroj Khan calling the shots for some of the biggest dance hits in his films. These include “Hero” (1983), “Karma” (1986), “Ram Lakhan” (1989), “Khalnayak” (1993), “Pardes” (1997), “Taal” (1999), “Yaadein” (2001) and “Kisna” (2005).

On Friday, Ghai shared an emotional video talking about Saroj Khan, who passed away after a cardiac arrest in the early hours at the age of 71.

“Saroj Khan. My biggest personal loss. An integral part of my journey in cinema — Sarojji. Keeping alive classical dance in Hindi cinema was Saroj Khan. Change has come and change will come, but Saroj Khan will not. We all have become masters by becoming her students. Cinema will always remember her. What do I say, I have no words. I am saddened,” he said in the video.

Alongside the video he also shared a message, where he said that she was a strong partner in grooming stars like Meenakshi Sheshadri, Madhuri Dixit, Manisha Koirala and Aishwarya Rai.

Meenakshi Sheshadri became an overnight star after “Hero”, Ghai”s musical blockbuster of 1983. Madhuri worked in the Ghai hits “Ram Lakhan” and “Khalnayak”, both of which had superhit dances choreographed by Saroj Khan. Manisha Koirala made her debut in Ghai’s 1991 hit “Saudagar”, which had several hit song-and-dance sequences, while Aishwarya Rai’s dances in “Taal” continue to be a rage to this day.

“An era has gone. Absolutely my personal loss. She was an integral part of our Mukta Arts family-She was my strong partner in grooming stars like Madhuri Meenakshi, Manisha and Aishwarya. Master of masters. Saroj Khan will live in the history of choreography for Indian cinema indeed. Bye Jaan. RIP,” said Ghai.

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No Chinese goods in food ministry now: Ram Vilas Paswan

After the incident, there is a wave of anger all over the country against China and people are boycotting Chinese goods.

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Ram Vilas Paswan

New Delhi, July 1 : Union Minister for Food and Public Distribution Ram Vilas Paswan has said that his ministry has closed the door for Chinese products. Paswan said that no Chinese goods will come to his department anymore and a circular to this effect has already been issued.

In an exclusive interview with IANS, Paswan said that from now on foreign products will also be tested as per the standard set by the Bureau of Indian Standards.

After this decision, the purchase of goods directly by his Ministry and the departments and organizations under his Ministry will not include products from China.

The Food Corporation of India and the Central Warehousing Corporation also come under the Union Food and Public Distribution Ministry.

The circular issued by the ministry on June 23 stated that no goods manufactured in China would be purchased from the Government e Marketplace (GeM) portal or any other source.

This decision comes after the incident in Galwan Valley in Ladakh in which 20 Indian soldiers, including an officer, were killed in a clash with Chinese troops last month.

After the incident, there is a wave of anger all over the country against China and people are boycotting Chinese goods.

Paswan said “Rules are being framed to check foreign goods standards. These rules will apply not only to Chinese products but also to products coming from other countries.”

He said the way Indian goods are tested on foreign standards in the same way, foreign goods will be tested in India. “We will stop foreign goods if our standards are not met,” Paswan said.

Paswan has been active in delivering foodgrains to every nook and corner of the country by implementing the free grain distribution scheme – Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY) during the corona crisis. So far, 1,03,53,715 tonnes of foodgrains have been distributed, which is 87 per cent of the total quota for three months.

The scheme has been extended till November. Expressing happiness, Paswan said this will provide great relief to more than 80 crore poor people of the country in this hour of crisis.

Paswan said there is enough stock of foodgrains in the country. He urged the states to lift the grains for the months ahead to ensure smooth distribution under PMGKAY.

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