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Take over RK Studios and turn it into film school, well-wishers urge government

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RK Studio

Mumbai, Sep 25: What will happen to the RK Studios, which has just wrapped up what may be its last Ganpati celebrations? Nobody knows, but it’s worth debating whether suggestions that the government must buy it and turn it into a film school for posterity, are viable.

In August, when Rishi Kapoor revealed the family’s collective decision to sell the 70-year-old studio, which was gutted in a fire last year, the news sent several Indian cinephiles on a nostalgia trip. But then came another question — is heritage all about a building?

“For movie lovers, RK Studios was a temple of cinema and one never imagines that the temple will go away from the map. But it is happening… It is saddening. It’s a place that captured an important time of Indian cinema, documented the changing times through storytelling on celluloid… It’s a place that came from the vision of a man like Raj Kapoor, and it will not be there for the future cinema lovers. This is a big loss of heritage,” Shivendra Singh Dungarpur, Director, Film Heritage Foundation, told IANS.

On the contrary, film industry veteran Amit Khanna says, “Raj Kapoor’s heritage is his cinema, his talented family, his music and creativity, and not merely a building.”

The studio, with its red logo flanking the white gates, sprawls across two acres. The headquarters of the film production company R.K. Films, was founded and named after the “Great Showman”, Raj Kapoor, in 1948.

Its inaugural banner film “Aag” that year crashed at the box office. But its production “Barsaat” (1949) was a super hit, following which the studio rolled out a string of successful black-and-white releases like “Awaara” (1951), “Boot Polish” (1954), “Shri 420” (1955) and “Jaagte Raho” (1956).

Later, several other big ticket films like “Jis Desh Me Ganga Behti Hain”, “Mera Naam Joker”, “Bobby”, “Satyam Shivam Sundaram”, “Prem Rog” and “Ram Teri Ganga Maili”, which was the founder-actor’s last film before his death in June 1988, were shot at RK Studios.

Popular filmmaker Anees Bazmee, who assisted Raj Kapoor on “Prem Rog”, has fond memories of spending four years of his life in and out of RK Studios.

“I am sure the sale of the property is a well-thought and painful decision for the family. But it will be great if what is known by the name of RK, continues to have the RK stamp in some way or another,” Bazmee told IANS.

For film historian S.M.M. Ausaja, however, the decision was “heartbreaking”.

“The studio has been an iconic landmark of the film industry. So many classics were shot there besides R.K. Films’ own ventures and it represented the labour of love associated with Raj Saab, inherited from his talented father Prithviraj Kapoor,” he told IANS.

The family’s legacy in the Hindi film industry can’t be ignored. Prithviraj’s sons Raj, Shammi and Shashi had flourishing careers in showbiz. Raj’s sons Randhir and Rishi became well-known actors, while his third son Rajiv couldn’t make it as big. Shashi’s daughter Sanjana contributed to the theatre scene.

Randhir’s daughters with actress Babita — Karisma and Kareena — both achieved success as actresses, and Rishi and actress Neetu Singh’s son Ranbir Kapoor is one of Bollywood’s most popular stars today.

Rishi, on behalf of the family, had in August said they initially wanted to renovate the studio with state-of-the-art technology, but the investment in rebuilding the studio would just not have yielded sufficient revenue to keep it going. Its condition worsened after the fire incident, which caused a huge loss in terms of costumes and memorabilia.

Dungarpur, who recently visited the studio, said “almost nothing was left”.

“Economically, it is really tough to rebuild it… It was not in the right condition and many historical documents of the films that the studio has given to Indian cinema, are gone,” he said, adding that it is wrong to expect the government to protect the studio as cinema heritage because it it was private property and a commercial institution.

Ausaja has a different view.

“Such monuments are vanishing because there’s no respect for cinema heritage in the eyes of the ruling regime and the corporates. They won’t bat an eyelid in erecting giant multi-million dollar statues complementing their political ideology, but even if you propose something on the dwindling cinema heritage, the file would gather dust in the corridor cupboards,” he said.

“Upkeep of such cinema heritage structures is the responsibility of the government and corporates as well to some extent. The R.K. family would be positive if any such proposal reaches them,” he said.

Filmmaker Rahul Dholakia said: “Wouldn’t it be a great idea for the government to buy R.K. Studio and convert it into a film school? After all, it was home to one of India’s best storytellers — and then imagine the young talents exploring cinema on Raj Kapoor’s playground… better than a high rise.”

In a letter to Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, Mumbai Congress President Sanjay Nirupam too urged the government to acquire the studio at the prevailing market rates and convert it into a full-fledged museum.

IANS

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Judge me, but don’t judge my kids: Ajay Devgn

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Ajay Devgn Kajol with Nysa and Yug
Ajay Devgn and Kajol with their children Nysa and Yug

New Delhi, Feb 20: Much like the children of other Bollywood celebrities, actor Ajay Devgn and Kajols 15-year-old daughter Nysa and 8-year-old son Yug, get a lot of media attention and are often targeted by social media trolls.

In an interview to IANS, Devgn, a protective father, said social media users should not judge his children.

He said: “Judge me, but don’t judge my kids. Kajol and I are the actors, judge us…it’s because of us, our children are under the spotlight everytime.”

“Being judgmental about someone is not a good thing. If I start passing a judgement on someone, that person would obviously feel bad…so do my children,” he added.

The “Singham” star, who was in Delhi to promote his fortcoming film “Total Dhamaal”, said, “Honestly speaking, those people don’t really matter. But I feel bad sometimes when my kids go through such harsh trolling.”

The star couple’s first child Nysa recently got trolled and body-shamed for her airport look – and this was not the first time she was being targetted.

Asked about how Nysa deals with “such harsh comments”, Devgn said: “She used to get upset over trolling earlier, but now she doesn’t care about it anymore. She knows how to deal with it. She has accepted that there will be some people who will keep judging no matter what.”

On how to tackle trolls, he said, “Avoid it… If you will react, they will react more and this will continue. So better to stop fighting against trollers.”

Commenting on how people have reacted angrily to remarks by some actors on the Pulwama terror attack, Devgn said: “In such a crucial situation, it is better if we become conscious while choosing our words because people are angry and you never know how someone at the opposite end interprets your message or post.

“One can be misinterpretted anytime and then you can’t sit down and explain to people that what were your real intentions. It’s better if we all become little conscious and don’t react to things immediately. Think twice before writing anything on social media to avoid hurting someone’s sentiments.”

IANS

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Sting operation: Bollywood celebs, TV actors caught agreeing to promote political parties for money

Actors Vivek Oberoi, Shakti Kapoor, Jackie Shroff, Amisha Patel, Mahima Chaudhary and Sonu Sood, and singers Kailash Kher, Abhijeet and Mika were some of those caught on camera accepting the deal for toeing the agenda of a political party or endorsing it for money.

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Sting operation: Bollywood celebs

New Delhi, Feb 19 (IANS) More than 30 Indian film and TV industry actors/artistes agreed to spread the propaganda of political parties through their social media accounts for money, which they asked to be paid in cash, in other words in untaxed black money, it has been revealed in a sting operation.

Actors Vivek Oberoi, Shakti Kapoor, Jackie Shroff, Amisha Patel, Mahima Chaudhary and Sonu Sood, and singers Kailash Kher, Abhijeet and Mika were some of those caught on camera accepting the deal for toeing the agenda of a political party or endorsing it for money.

The celebrities were caught on camera accepting the cash-for-tweet offer during a sting operation conducted by media portal Cobra Post over a period of 3-4 months last year.

Cobra Post on Tuesday released the sting operation in a video documentary titled ‘Operation Karaoke’, in which actors, dancers, singers and models were caught accepting the offer for promoting political parties through hidden cameras.

The reporters, acting as agents working on behalf of the Congress, the BJP or the Aam Aadmi Party, made an offer to pay 10-20 per cent of the decided sum in cheque or bank transfer, and the rest through cash, which the celebrities accepted.

Vidya Balan, Raza Murad, Arshad Warsi and TV actor Saumya Tandon were the only ones who refused the offer.

Celebrities were offered Rs 2 lakh to Rs 20 lakh per message according to their brand value. Some celebrities even asked the reporters-cum-agents for up to Rs 20 crore citing the sway they hold on the Twitter sphere.

These celebs agreed to promote the party — any which was proposed to them — to create a favourable environment before the 2019 general elections.

They swore to keep the entire exercise a secret and the agenda hidden.

“This way, you (celebrities) are manufacturing an opinion through social media. If you reveal that you have taken money for the promotion that you are doing, it would be fine… If we go by the trend, these people may not shy away from propagating a communal agenda either,” said journalist and former Aam Aadmi Party member Ashutosh during the press conference.

He compared the celebrities who accepted the deal to “trolls” and called trolling a “paid syndicate mafia”.

Hartosh Singh Bal, political editor of Caravan magazine, also addressed the reporters and termed the incident a telling foreboding of the “dangerous times” ahead.

“We are going to see the consequences of this in the coming elections,” he said.

The impact most of these celebrities can have through their handles in denting or boosting a party’s image can be gauged from the number of followers almost each of them has on Twitter.

Amisha Patel has 3.95 million, Vivek Oberoi above 2 million and Sonu Sood 1.5 million followers on Twitter. Jackie Shroff has 2.27 lakh, Kailash Kher has over 5 lakh and Tisca Chopra of ‘Taare Zameen Par’ fame has 3.20 lakh followers on Twitter.

Model and actress Sunny Leone, though one of those agreeing to promote the BJP on camera, issued a disclaimer on Twitter hours after the press conference, rubbishing the news of promoting a political party.

“Hi, this is to inform you that I am not campaigning for any political parties, unlike the news that’s circulated talking about me doing so… If I choose to promote anything in political life I would choose things I only believe in,” she tweeted. Leone alone has 3.95 million followers on Twitter.

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Nothing personal against Atif Aslam, but towards Pakistan government: Arko

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Atif Aslam
File Photo of Atif Aslam

Mumbai, Feb 19: Composer Arko, whose song “Baarishein”, featuring Atif Aslam, has been pulled down by T-Series in the wake of the Pulwama terrorist attack, says he has no personal hatred against any Pakistani singer, but he has a strong stand against the neighbouring country’s government for repeatedly failing to control terrorism.

“I have nothing personal against Atif or any Pakistani talent for that matter because they are artistes like us. I have a problem and I have everything against the Pakistan government and its approach toward handling terrorism that is taking the lives of our people and army personnel,” Arko told IANS in an interview.

The song “Baarishein”, featuring Atif and Nushrat Bharucha, released on February 13. The very next day a deadly terrorist attack took place in the Pulwama district of Jammu and Kashmir, orchestrated by the terrorist group Jaish-e-Mohammed. It left at least 40 CRPF troopers dead.

While several Bollywood celebrities have shown solidarity towards the families of the martyrs, social media is filled with people demanding strong action against such terrorist attacks.

“Baarishein” was pulled down from the YouTube channel of T-Series on Monday.

Arko feels showing solidarity will not offer any solution to the situation, but he said: “Not taking a strong stand considering the gravity of the situation, would be worse.

“I do not want any violence that cost human lives of common people, but no retaliation on such an inhuman attack is worse than continuing collaboration, a dialogue. There is no doubt that we all want peace, but not by staying silent when the bloodbath is happening.”

In the past, Arko has collaborated with many Pakistani singers like Ali Azmat and Shafqat Amanat Ali apart from Atif, and delivered songs like “Yeh jism hai toh kya”, “Allah waariyan”, “Tere sang yaara” and “O saathi”.

“I know any artiste or common individual is not responsible for what has happened, but the government is. That is why setting out a stand clearly is important. The solution, of course, would be a much complicated political conversation. I am certainly not the right person to comment on that matter, but the act of terrorism can never be supported,” said the composer,” Arko said.

What is the future of the song?

“Hopefully we will bring the song back with another singer because the copyright of the content is with me and T-Series. Since the video features Atif, we have to look into that matter too, which is a little complicated but we will resolve the issue,” replied Arko.

IANS

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