Thursday, September 2, 2021

Cotton City Excellence Kala Gaurav Awards hosted at Holiday Inn, Mumbai

The third edition of the Cotton City International Film Festival on Sunday awarded the Cotton City Excellence Kala Gaurav Awards to dignitaries and luminaries from all walks of life including the field of Indian Films & Television. Started in 2019, the award recognizes talents in various spheres including literature, music, films, social work, education, medicine, environment & climate networking and sustainability efforts. The awards were presented to people who have showcased amazing talent in their respective fields and have made a mark for themselves. 

A signature program of the Cotton City International Film Festival, the glittering Cotton City Excellence Awards function was held at Hotel Holiday Inn Mumbai following valid covid protocols. While inaugurating the 3rd Cotton City International Film Festival in association with the Cotton City Excellence Awards, Festival Director & CEO Prashant Mankar expressed his inability to hold the function on a much bigger scale as envisaged due to the Maharastra government norms for combatting Covid. While he did sound a bit low on the same, but he expressed his happiness that public health is of utmost priority and that they cannot jeopardise the health of others. He also maintained that “We could honour these dignitaries by sending out their trophies by courier and avoid the function. But receiving an award in person is a great feeling as it gives the awardees an opportunity to share their stories of success and encourage others to strive for the best.” 

While renowned singer Vaishali Samant received the Cotton City Excellence Kala Gaurav Award for excellence in singing, renowned actor Krishna Bhatt received for his excellence in acting. An alumni of the National School of Drama, Krishna Bhatt is known for his wide portrayl of characters on films and television, especially the role of Eliza in Lapataganj. Music Composer Rahul B Seth was revered for his Music Video ‘Hum Hain Naari Shakti’ on women power that was released on International Women’s Day and sung by the talented Vaishali Samant. Actress Seema Bhatt received the Kala Gaurav Award for her excellence in acting histrionics. 

On the film festival front, while Arfi Lamba received the Best Actor Short (Jury) Award for his role in the short film S(he), Rajpal Yadav received the Best Actor Award for Safaibaaz - the Scavenger in which he plays a manual scavenger. Renuka Shahane was bestowed with the Best Actress award for the short film Silent Ties. While the Best Actor (Short) went to Sanjay Kapoor for the short film Bedhab (Odd), the Best Short Film went to Vanita Omung Kumar for Ave Maria, the Best Social Film (Feature) to ‘Safaibaaz the Scavenger’ directed by Dr. Avneesh Singh and Best Actress Short (Jury) to Lin Laishram for ‘Ave Maria’ again. Sujoy Mukherjee won the Best Director Award (Short) for his film Zindagi Anmol Hai. The Best Short Film (Jury) award went to Ek Achchi Naukri directed by Anuj Bhardwaj while its actor Pulkit Makol took home the Certificate for the Best Actor. 

Addressing the august gathering, Festival Head & Chairman Jury Prof. Dr. Mohan Das said, “Many trained talented artistes and professionals go unrecognised. The Cotton City Excellence Kala Gaurav Award is definitely a motivation to such really talented and trained people and honour them for their wonderful work. Honouring them on a platform like Cotton City Excellence Kala Gaurav Award puts them and especially their work in the limelight as they go on with their lives doing something that they are really happy doing. The reason we wanted to conduct this awards function, no matter how small, is to honour such dignitaries for the fruit of the work that they had all put in and celebrate the little joys with them.”

“Agreed this was a very small function, but it also made me feel like a family function where all get to know each other and interact in a friendly manner, unlike the glitter of the big awards function. Yes, the Cotton City awardees are a part of the Cotton City family. Having said this, we wanted to conduct this programme in a responsible manner, following all the protocols to keep everyone safe. With a plan to go global, the next Cotton City Excellence Kala Gaurav Awards will be happening sometime in March 2022 either in Dubai or Bangkok,” concluded Prashant Mankar.

SHOCKING: Bigg Boss 13 winner Sidharth Shukla passes away

Popular television and film actor as well as Bigg Boss 13 winner passed away on Thursday. He suffered a massive heart attack in the morning, it is learnt. Best known for his role in the popular TV show Balika Vadhu, Sidharth Shukla was just 40. 

The winner of Bigg Boss 13, Sidharth Shukla was a popular face of showbiz and has been a part of films like Humpty Sharma Ke Dulhania. Sidharth started his acting career with a lead role in the 2008 show Babul Ka Aangann Chootey Na. Known for his roles in daily soaps such as Balika Vadhu and Dil Se Dil Tak and Ekta Kapoor's Broken But Beautiful 3. He was also popular for his stints in reality shows such as Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa 6, Fear Factor: Khatron Ke Khiladi 7 and Bigg Boss 13 where he emerged as winner. He also hosted Savdhaan India for some time as well as India's Got Talent. He recently appeared on reality shows Bigg Boss OTT and Dance Deewane 3 with Shehnaaz Gill.

According to Cooper Hospital officials where he was brought in, it seems he suffered a massive heart attack in the morning. He is survived by his mother and two sisters. A true Mumbaite with family roots in Prayagraj (Allahabad), he completed his schooling from St. Xavier's High School, Fort and later graduated in Interior designing from Rachana Sansad.

Zee Digital is striding towards the top position amongst internet websites

Zee Digital has started inching towards the top position amongst top internet websites like Amazon, google and Facebook by coming in the sixth position ahead of its several other Indian competitors. In the month of July 2021, India’s most diversified digital publishing group- Zee Digital achieved another milestone by reaching 244 million unique visitors maintaining its second position in the news and information category, as per Comscore. 

Mr. Abhishek Nigam, Chief Operating Officer- Digital, Zee Media Corporation Limited said that the achievement is an affirmation of the quality content and the hard work put by the team at Zee Digital. “Every month we’re aiming for a new milestone. This would motivate our team further to keep pushing ourselves to achieve excellence. We would strive to better ourselves with content with widespread appeal and will continue to grow in the same manner,” he said. 

Mr Nigam stated that overall the group has registered growth of 1.5 times between the months of January and July 2021. “The other digital assets of Zee Media, also have achieved extensive growth. reported a Y-o-Y growth of 2.3x, grew by 3.6x, grew by 3.7x and grew by 2.9x contributing to Zee Digital’s growth,” he pointed out. 

Further, in absolute terms, Zee News Hindi reached 75.8 million unique visitors, Zee News English reached 55.2 million, reached 100.2 million and reached 27.1million mark. 

Zee Digital comprises of 31 websites, 20 brands across 12 languages with viewers across digital replicas of the Zee Media’s 14 linear news channels along with websites such as,,, and

Thursday, August 19, 2021

Salaam Bombay Foundation partners with ace photo journalists on World Photography Day

Salaam Bombay Foundation (SBF) dedicated World Photography Day 2021 to those frontline warriors we call photo journalists, for their service to the world during these Covid times.  The occasion also emphasized the potential of photo journalism as a vocation through an exhibition, a webinar and a masterclass.

Ahead of World Photography Day, five eminent photo journalists as mentors conducted a series of workshops on the technical aspects of capturing the right image and creating a photo essay of the same. Lessons were imparted on various techniques and features like portraits, skylight, landscape and black and white photography. The students were also acquainted with the working style of photo journalists.  The outcome of 30 photo essays, clicked and created on the students’ mobiles, were physically displayed at the Education Department, Triveni Sangam BMC School Building, Curry Road.  The event titled “Exposed: Newstories Thru’ A Lens”, was attended by chief guests Mr. Raja Tadvi, Education Officer, BMC Education Department and Ms. Sandhya Doshi, Chairperson, Education Committee, BMC.  Also appreciating the students’ talent was Mr. Dinkar Pawar, Principal, Art Department, BMC Education Department.

Chief guest Ms. Sandhya Doshi, Chairperson, Education Committee, BMC, while inaugurating the exhibition, said, “Salaam Bombay Foundation’s work is commendable. It has been 19 years and they have achieved what no other institution has. We have seen a remarkable and visible difference in BMC students, especially the art they have created. SBF has polished their students' skills, especially in photography. They not only clicked the photos but also collected information regarding it. After seeing today's exhibition, I realized they have given a lot of attention to detail while clicking these pictures. Their thoughts and emotions were visible through their photos, and I want to salute their thoughts. SBF has executed this exhibition beautifully”.

The webinar on 19th August featured keynote speaker Mr. Dinkar Pawar, Principal, Art Department, BMC Education Department.  A panel discussion focusing on photo journalism as a career for resource-challenged youth was the focus among panelists including renowned photographer Mr. Ritesh Uttamchandani, Ms. Jeroo Mullah, Visiting Faculty of Sophia Polytechnic, Mumbai, and documentary photographer Mr. Indrajit Khambe, each one contributing from personal and professional experience. The webinar was followed by a masterclass by a renowned photo journalist.

Sharing his experience, Omkar Jadhav, Alumnus, Salaam Bombay Media Academy said, “The workshops with photojournalists were very enriching. This is the first time I had exposure to photo journalism as a career. The mentors also spoke to us about the working style of a photo journalist, on-ground challenges and the opportunities. My learning has not been compromised due to the lockdown thanks to SBF”.

Speaking about the initiative, Ms Rajashree Kadam- Vice President - Projects (Arts & Media), Salaam Bombay Foundation “Even though Covid-19 has challenged the organisation of events, knowledge-imparting workshops and seminars. SBF is committed to creating an environment conducive to learning despite this.  Through virtual exhibitions, workshops and a masterclass like these, we are able to combine both theory with practise and keep our students engaged. There is no reason for them to lag behind their more privileged counterparts.”

In the Media Academy, the underprivileged students from municipal schools are trained in journalism, photography, print production, digital production and creative design. This helps them develop soft-skills, writing and interpersonal skills while improving their confidence and self–image. The Academy also introduces students to Media related careers, and provides them with the right platforms to showcase their skills.

During the pandemic, the Media Academy in-class modules were converted into a digital format to suit the requirements of the new normal.

Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Netizens think Lara Dutta is unrecognisable as Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in BellBottom. Even we think so...

Akshay Kumar and Vaani Kapoor have launched the trailer of their much-hyped film Bell Bottom in a Delhi cinema hall attended by the cast and makers of the film. The trailer launch also marked the reopening of theatres, and this will be one of the first Hindi films to release in cinemas post Covid second wave. 

While Akshay Kumar will be seen as a spy, who leads a covert operation to rescue 220 hostages from a hijacked plane, it is Lara Dutta who is garnering more reviews in the role of former Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. At the trailer launch, Lara Dutta asked the media to find her in it. When most couldn’t find her, she added” “I'm playing Mrs Indira Gandhi in the film. That's me. As you all know that the film deals with a hijack situation that happened during her tenure. Given the dramatic events that were unfolding, she was somebody who was extremely centred and not really prone to any dramatics. So it was important to portray her in that form. I had a great time. There was a lot of homework and research that went behind it. But it was an opportunity of a lifetime and I'm thankful for it.” 

However, those who have seen Supriya Karnik in the recently released Main Mulayam will vouch that Supriya looked more like Mrs. Gandhi unlike Lara Dutta who doesn’t even come close. And yeah, she is unrecognisable as Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in Bell Bottom. Even we think so.

Main Mulayam is a 2021 Indian Hindi-language biographical film showcasing the political journey of Mulayam Singh Yadav. Produced by Meena Sethi Mondal, it stars Amyth Sethi, Govind Namdeo, Mukesh Tiwari, Prakash Belawadi, Supriya Karnik, Sayaji Shinde, Rajkumar Kanojia, Zarina Wahab, Anupam Shyam, and Mimoh Chakraborty.

Olympic spirit at Mobile Premier League

As the world is engrossed in the sporting spectacle that is the Tokyo 2020 OIympics, India’s largest esports and gaming platform, Mobile Premier League has started an employee engagement programme centred around the Games.

MPL Sports Foundation, the community arm of Mobile Premier League (MPL), is the Principal Partner of the Indian OIympic Association (IOA).

As MPL Sports Foundation began a nationwide movement to mobilise a billion plus Indian to become fans for the Indian Olympic team, MPL decided to use this moment to let its people soak in the Olympic spirit.

A virtual Olympics is being held by MPL for its 800 strong workforce, ending on 8th August, the last day of the Olympics.

In a true democratic spirit, a voting exercise was conducted to vote in the favourite events. Expectedly, an esports tournament was the overwhelming crowd favourite as the top choice. The events that will be part of the internal Olympics include 5K virtual run and a 20K virtual cycling. The very active group of runners and cyclists at MPL ensured that these two events remained centre stage.

Looks like exciting times at MPL even as the team remains mostly virtual owing to covid restrictions.

Katie Riccio Puris to head global brand and creative of TikTok

TikTok - the leading destination for short-form mobile video app 
promoted Katie Riccio Puris to head of global brand and creative, according to her LinkedIn post. She takes on the role after serving as TikTok’s MD and global head of business marketing for over a year, where she helped launch TikTok’s creative lab, TikTok for Business and led B2B marketing strategy for the platform.

In her LinkedIn post, Puris wrote: “We are still at the early days of building our global brand and delivering the kind of creative work that is uniquely TikTok. I am so grateful for the teams who have guided the path so far and am so excited to join this exceptional group of creatives on this amazing journey ahead of us.” 

With global offices including Los Angeles, New York, London, Paris, Berlin, Dubai, Mumbai, Singapore, Jakarta, Seoul, and Tokyo; over the last year, TikTok has grown to more than 689 million TikTok users internationally and is valued at an estimated $50 billion. Puris will lead B2C marketing for the platform and report to Nick Tran, head of global marketing at TikTok.

Will Roberts wins Best Dramatic Actor in “Signal” at Vegas Film Festival

Will Roberts, lead actor in the Diogo Morgado film, Signal, won Best Dramatic Actor at X World Short Film Festival this last week at the Action on Film Festival in Las Vegas. This is Will Roberts' second Best Actor award for the film Signal. The Will Roberts-NewsBlaze partnership on writing, editing and video production began in 2007 and continues strong today. 

“Will Roberts is a long-time partner to NewsBlaze, a living tour de force whose ingenuity and ability to see the future helps drive projects forward from one success to another,” said Alan Gray, NewsBlaze CEO. “We knew back in 2007 that we were great partners for each other, and we are over the moon to see him excelling in film.” 

Originally Will was slated to receive this Best Actor award last year, however, because of Covid the festival did not happen in person and was moved to in-person in 2021 at the X World Short Film Festival in Las Vegas. 

“It was great to see people back in theaters and the energy in the theater was high that night as awards were given out.” Will Roberts said. 

An actor and a skilled voice talent, providing the high-quality voice-over for online and radio commercials, Will Roberts has been an SAG actor for 37 years. As a professional cowboy, Will is a Guinness World Record Gun Spinner, a whip artist and trick roping expert, with a variety of other talents, including clowning and dancing. Will was an on-air FOX Kids host for 7 years in Northern California and performed on the Las Vegas strip with the renowned Cirque du Soleil in "Viva Elvis." Most recently Will appeared on the Ellen show as the dancing Dad. Will's recent TV and films include "Lucifer," "Amazon," "The West and the Ruthless," Disney's "ABCD2" shot in India, and "Ibot," a feature film in distribution in China.

Monday, August 2, 2021

From acting to direction and now as Lyricist, Abhijit Sinha comes a long way

“Talent only shines when you explore it beyond your comfort zone as you never know what destiny has planned to offer for your efforts,” says actor-director Abhijit Sinha who has come a long way from working with many multinational giants to debuting as a Lyricist with his maiden song Wo Pal. But he is “excited” about all that life has currently to offer. 

After proving his mettle in acting and direction and winning numerous awards for his acting and direction prowess in International film festivals across the globe, Abhijit recently debuted as a lyricist with Wo Pal. Teaming up with another bunch of talented individuals for this song, it was only amidst lockdown that he found his calling in writing poetry  and lyrics. Well known music duo Swanand Purandare and Niranjan Jhaveri has given music along with a new upcoming and promising singer Hridraj Roy who has lent his soulful voice for the song. He is a talent to watch out for.

Featuring Deepashu Pathania and Aditi Dhadich and released on Dulset Records, Wo Pal reminds one of the 90s Indie-Pop era, which the team is keen to revive again through their songs. One of the best romantic Indie-Pop number of this season, this beautifully conceptualized video is also directed by Sinha. Talking about the indie music scene, Abhijit says “During pandemic with the popularity of a multitude of audio streaming platforms, people have started listening to all sorts of music and indie music also received a lot of acceptance. As for penning the lyrics, it was an amazing, incredible experience. But if I'm being honest, during the pandemic we were all singing something positive and uplifting at this time. And the words of Wo Pal just started flowing in.”

Despite the rave reviews that he has garnered for the songs, Abhijit makes it clear that he does not want to pursue song-writing as a full-time career, but only as an outlet for his creativity. “My heart and soul lies in acting and direction,” he said. So here’s wishing Abhijit and team All the Best for the song. In case you haven’t watched it, here you go..

Twitter angry on Anu Malik : Says he deserves Olympic gold medal for plagiarism

The ongoing Tokyo Olympics is much in the news not only for India starting its innings by Mirabai Chanu getting home a medal but also for Anu Malik. Now one might wonder what Anu Malik has got to do with Tokyo Olympics. Not directly but yea he is in the news for all the wrong (or is it right) reasons.

Yesterday 1st August Israeli gymnast Artem Dolgopyat made history when he won the gold medal for the floor exercise in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics – Israel's first Isreal's first Olympics gymnastics gold. After he was presented his medal, the country's national anthem - Hatikvah - was played in his country’s honour. Immediately, music lovers realised that the anthem sounded similar to the Ajay Devgn starrer Diljale's song Mera Mulk Mera Desh. And Twitteratis had a field day as they accused Anu Malik of plagiarising Israel's national anthem for a Bollywood song.

Anu Malik you copied Israeli’s national anthem music & composed Mera desh, Mera mulk Mera yeh watan. Anu Malik need an Olympic gold medal for plagiarism,” a tweet read while another read “Anu Malik just simply didn't copy Israel national anthem in 1996 film Diljale song. It needs years or research and analysis to find out which country isn't going to win medals for years. Visionary man.”

Meanwhile, this isn't the only case of plagiarism in Bollywood that has come to light recently. Last week, Twitter users noted that the song Zaalima Coca Cola from Bhuj: The Pride of India, starring Nora Fatehi, sounded similar to a Pakistani song sung by Noor Jehan for Chan Te Soorma.

After Bappi Lahiri, Anu Malik has been often ostracised for plagiarising music followed by Preetam. Songs like Kaho Na Kaho, Dil Mera Churaya Kyun, Nasha Ye Pyar Ka Nasha Hai and Neend Churaya Mera are some of the songs that mostly know has been lifted from International tunes.  However, very few are aware that Anu has even gone to the extent of lifting a popular Baluchi language song that was created as the election campaign song of Benazir Bhutto. Yeah, you read it right. He simply recreated the music and had a chart buster on his hands. The song Julie Julie Johny Ka Dil Tumpe Aaya Julie sung by him and Kavita Krishnamoorthy for Jeete Hain Shaan Se is actually a rip off of Benazir Bhutto’s election campaign song.

Showcasing emerging directors to championing films from non-mainstream cinema, EIFF leads the way

Now in its third edition, the Everest International Film Festival (EIFF) is the second-largest festival in the Bengali-speaking state of West Bengal. It comes only second to the Kolkata International Film Festival (KIFF) which is govt. organised. Over 2 days each winter in the month of January at the foothills of the Himalayas, Siliguri - the "Gateway of Northeast India" also becomes the gateway for the greatest discoveries and the year’s most anticipated movies. The EIFF facilitates exchange between upcoming directors, established filmmakers, the film industry and the general public. 

Before Corona could devastate the world in 2020, the EIFF was able with great success to implement a physical and comprehensive 65-film programme, attracting a lot of  viewers including film makers, artists, celebrities and media workers from across the entire country. The 3rd edition will take place once again from January 15 to 16th, 2022 with some of the year’s most anticipated releases including the world-premiere screening as well as the Asian and Indian premieres. 

Last year, the festival opened with Suvendu Raj Ghosh’s biographical film “Main Mulayam” showcasing the life and journey of the founder-patron of the Samajwadi Party Mulayam Singh Yadav. Produced by Meena Sethi Mondal, Amyth Sethi portrayed the legendary politician showing an uncanny resemblance in his character as a farmer’s son and a wrestler. With a super cast including Govind Namdeo, Mukesh Tiwari, Sayaji Shinde, Zarina Wahab and Mimoh Chakraborty, Supriya Karnik as Indira Gandhi was the one to watch out for. The film was attended with the starcast, the writer Rashid Iqbal and the producer Meena Sethi Mondal, “It was the perfect opening film and an ideal programming choice. On one hand, it combined the entertainment value of mainstream auteur cinema with the standards to which our gala section is committed, on the other hand, it marks a new dawn of biographies, one that is able to reflect who they are in an entertaining and intelligent manner,” explained Festival Director Sanjay Verma (Saajan).

Saturday, July 31, 2021

Bhuj's Zaalima Coca Cola is actually a Pakistani lift

Patriotic war drama film Bhuj: The Pride of India’s chart buster song Zaalima Coca Cola featuring Nora Fatehi is actually a plagiarised version of a song sung by the legendary Pakistani singer Noor Jehan for the Punjabi film Chan TeSoorma. Directed by Abhishek Dudhaiya and starring Ajay Devgn, Sanjay Dutt, Nora Fatehi and Sonakshi Sinha among others, the movie is slated for an OTT release on Disney plus Hotstar on August 13.

The song which has taken the internet by storm and has received more than 10 million views within one day of its release is a third remake of the song and crooned by Shreya Ghoshal. It was remade again in 2016 by Pakistani artists Meesha Shafi and Umair Jaswal after the original in 1986.

While Indian fans may love the song with Nora grooving with some killer facial expressions, it did not gel well with all as Twitterati's weren't impressed. Regardless of whether credit has been given or not, Twitterati's are angry on Bollywood copying a Pakistani song again and that too for a movie which is anti-Pakistan. 

It might be interesting to note that the upcoming Bollywood movie ‘Bhuj: The Pride of India’ is loosely based on the 1971 war between Pakistan and India. While there may be a lot of Pak bashing in the movie, the makers didn’t mind lifting a song from the other part of the border and using it to their benefit. However, what one fails to understand is are Bolly lyricists that bad that the makers had to resort to a song from one whom they would be bashing in their film? One fails to understand. 

Friday, July 30, 2021

The Great Indian Escape - Nothing to be excited about

War films and especially those related to Indo-Pak or anything related to terrorism is a regular fare on every OTT these days. One such film is The Great Indian Escape -Khulay Asmaan Ki Oar by Taranjit Singh Namdhari which is streaming on MX Player now. It is based on the lesser known but true exploits of three brave heart POWs from Indian Air Force who dared to do the impossible and escape from a Pakistani prison.

When Pakistan’s Lt Gen A.A.K. Niazi formally surrendered to his Indian counterpart, Lt Gen Jagjit Singh Aurora on 16 December 1971 during the liberation of Bangladesh, Indian and Pakistani Prisoners of War were still languishing in jails of both the warring nations. However not all chose to sit back and wait for their freedom. One such brave heart pilot from the Indian Air Force Flt Lt Dilip Parulkar wanted to put his training to good use. From flying into Pakistan and successfully bombing targets followed by his subsequent crash and capture, it is the story of his trials and tribulations. Not only did he escape but also inspired two more PoW Pilots Flt Lt MS Grewal 'Garry' Flt Lt Harish Sinhji 'Harry' to partake in the most outrageous prison break in Pakistan and fly their way to freedom.

Agreed all heroism need not display heroics but TGIE neither created enough drama or the necessary thrills and tension as a precursor to the daredevilry, but failed to even work up enough emotional storm to give goose bumps. It is just the name that catches the fancy. However, the film does not live unto its title. Neither this film evokes strong feeling of patriotism or nor is crisp and edgy. There were no Eureka moments, no nail biting finales - The escape was just circumstantially simple. Even more than that, it’s the plot that derails so badly with the story so casually written that you badly want it to end. While the story may have been very exciting on paper as it was written by Capt. Dilip Parulkar himself, authenticity is not to question here. However the replication of the daring prison break seemed very superficial as Taran took the true story of unassuming inspiration and presented it as a just a matter of fact depiction of history as it happened - a la docufiction.

Coming to acting histrionics, the least said the better. While Raaj Singh Arora as 'Garry' and Asheesh Kapur as 'Harry' stand out, Anuj Khurana as Corporal Ehsan with his dimpled looks manages to leave his mark in a role smaller than the others. As for Raghav Rishi who played Parulekar, the least said the better. It seems criminal to me why the director wanted to cast someone who was so flat in his expressions and unable to carry the film on his shoulders. 

Frankly, the legitimacy of a true story of the valour and gumption and the indomitable spirit of the IAF officers during the 1971 Indo Pak war should have been an added impetus for the audiences to watch the film. But the story fails to resonate with the adventurous prison break stories that one either reads or sees. It just hits a road block, a dead end and you wonder why at all it was even made.

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Rahul Dev becomes OneAbove Health Care’s brand ambassador

Critically acclaimed and one of the most loved versatile actor Rahul Dev has confirmed his tie-up with OneAbove Health Care - the brand that provides affordable yet high quality medical devices to all. They have, since the start, sought to re-moralise the business and medical industry.

Talking about his tie-up, Rahul Dev said, “It was always my dream to see the re-moralisation of the medical and business sector. In pandemic, while all the companies were charging high for essential devices, OneAbove sought to continue providing their product at affordable prices. To join OneAbove family is similar to serving mankind. I am excited to help the brand reach even more people.”

Known for his powerful and popular antagonist roles, Rahul Dev has done more than 100 films, including Meri Jung – One Man Army, and Dus. He was the first Indian to appear in GQ London magazine. His versatility is not just limited to Bollywood movies. He also works in Telugu, Tamil, Kannada, and Malayalam language films. In this year, he has starred in famous and successful web series like Raat Baaki Hai and Operation Parindey. In past, he also appeared in Bigg Boss 10 with Salman Khan. Not just that, Rahul is also a fitness freak and is very cautious about his health and fitness, which makes him the heartthrob of many girls in the country.

“Rahul Dev is a remarkable talent and we know he is going to rise to new heights”, said Neha Mittal, the co-founder of OneAbove. “When we contacted him for our tie-up, his enthusiasm towards our goal and his dedication towards health and fitness ensured us that this tie-up will be the best possible tie-up for our brand. It’s the healthy spirit that we admire, and we are thrilled to have him in our OneAbove family.”

OneAbove’s objective is to help people care about their health and live healthy lives by way of having access to quality healthcare products at affordable pricing. OneAbove is an ISO 9001:2015 and CE-certified company with the mission of doing business while serving mankind. Rahul Dev will begin appearing as OneAbove’s brand ambassador from this month onwards.

Sunday, July 25, 2021

“Being a good actor isn't easy and I always want to be seen as a good actor,” says Amitriyaan

A qualified engineer by profession with a post graduate degree in Advertising & PR, Amitriyaan  has had quite an interesting journey in showbiz. Best known for his impactful performances in ace film maker Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra’s 'Delhi 6' to RGV’s 'Satya 2', Sangeeth Sivann’s '332' or AR Rahman’s 'Atkan Chatkan', Amitriyaan’s recent release is an investigative thriller 'Tandoor' – an original Ullu series. On a rainy evening over cups of coffee, Amitriyaan bares his soul and his love for music, guitar and Christopher Nolan's style of filmmaking. Johnny Depp, Leonardo Dicaprio and Uttam Kumar's work inspires him a lot, he told Mohan Das, Chief editor of Films & TV World.

Mohan Das: From Delhi 6 to Tandoor, you’ve come a long way. Tell us something about your journey.
Amitriyaan: I started off doing small roles in movies – the start of which was Delhi 6. To me it was an opportunity to work with such a great director Rakyesh Omprakash Mehra and an excellent ensemble cast headed by Waheeda Rehman ji. Following this I started getting such similar ones but I was more into doing Hindi theatre. To survive I did freelance copywriting as well as took up teaching guitar. It was Sangeeth Sivan and Ram Gopal Varma who realising my potential gave me a lead role in their movies. But unaware of the moves of this industry, I couldn't cash in anything as per industry pattern. Later on I went on to do some meaningful regional cinema and enjoyed the versatile characters I got to perform – be it in Rajwade & Sons or Naanthada and Aasud. It was the musical drama Atkan Chatkan produced by A R Rahman that brought me back into Bollywood. My work was well received and critics and audiences appreciated it too. With digital content ruling the roost now, I got into the digital world of webseries with Peshawar where I played a psycho terrorist, something different than what has been tried before. In my recent release Tandoor, my character is very positive – a pure soul who believes in selfless love.

MD: Money, fame, glamour... what brought this engineer to the big world of movies?
Amitriyaan: After completing my graduation in polymer engineering I got into theatre and later movies only out of unrealistic illusional passion for the art and craft of acting. A desire or say the greed to live different multiple kinda lives in one life - even if it's for a while in front of camera on-screen. That creative satisfaction and pull was too magnetic and in a way lured me into movies and none of the things you mentioned. Had it been a conscious choice, I would have encashed on the opportunity after Satya 2. Who doesn’t care for name, fame and money? I’m no different. Having said that, doing versatile roles is my prime focus and rest are secondary.

MD: Was it a conscious choice to opt for Advertising & PR and then make a foray into movies?
Amitriyaan: I did my graduation from small town in technical field of engineering and I wanted to get into anything creative - especially writing as I had the flair for it. Moreover, I wanted to enjoy the college life of Mumbai. So I enrolled for my post-graduation diploma in advertising from K C College and started working for an ad agency as a copywriter. Initially, acting wasn't even in my mind. It was a conscious decision later that prompted me to join theatre and enhance my skills before trying out in movies.

MD: How did your parents react when you changed your profession?
Amitriyaan: I always wanted to be into some creative field, but coming from a family of professors, doctors and engineers, I just had no choice but to follow. However, my father promised me that if I complete my engineering in First class, he will never interfere in my choice of career. That was the motivation and I did secure. He did keep his promise, but at times doesn't understand my career choice. In fact, they were shocked when they saw me on-screen for the first time. They still get amused seeing me perform some weirdo characters.

MD: You have worked with big names – from RGV to AR Rahman. How was the feeling of working with such stalwarts?
Amitriyaan: I agree that I was in awe of their persona, but didn’t let it hit my head. But I’m happy that I got to do a variety and showcase my versatility as an actor under these renowned names. As I said, doing versatile roles is my prime focus and I want my acting to do the talking. I always try not to repeat a character or any role I have already done earlier, even if it is well received by audiences and critics. Fortunately these projects offered me unique roles the way I had desired.

MD: Manyaa to Rajawade & Sons - Tell us something about your journey into Marathi cinema.
Amitriyaan: To be honest, after Satya 2 I found myself jobless as three of my films in lead roles got stuck. I had just kick started my career and was very happy to be doing lead roles in all these projects. But the projects being held up made me face a different reality altogether. Mentally, it was my worst phase and I was totally clueless how to go about it. But as the saying goes, when god closes one door, he opens another. It was during this phase, I was offered a Marathi movie Rajwade & Sons produced by Atul Kulkarni. Initially I was hesitant if I should do a regional film having started my career in Bollywood. But I fell for the amazing character. The film turned out to be a cult classic and it got me recognised in the Marathi industry as well. I was offered many such similar roles (as it usually happens in our industry) but I didn't find them appealing and went to accept a very different and challenging role in my next project Aasud. Having worked in Hindi and regional cinema as well, I have consciously decided to do both as regional offers more unique range of characters.

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Ideation, Expression and Digitalization in the visual arts

WIN is taking the forward the conversation on Ideation, Expression and Digitalization in the visual arts on July 23rd July, at 6:00 PM. WIN, in a business media partnership with Business World, presents to you an exceptional panel discussion with some India’s female change makers and trailblazers such as Amrita Chowdhury, Alka Pande, Myna Mukherjee, Ushmita Sahu and Stuti Jalan-founder of Women Inspiring Network.

The discussion aims to give some fresh new outlooks and stances with respect to the impact of digital, social and AI on amorphous paths in arts. Art, in essence has a distinct ideation and expression - both for the creators and the curators. The presentation and communication about art has been as important as it's conception. Art, furthermore, is changing dramatically. Digital, Virtual, and AI technologies are changing the landscape of how art is created, displayed, disseminated, and consumed. This requires both the artists and the ecosystem to evolve. Each panelist will bring forth a unique perspective to the table.

An author, entrepreneur and innovator, Amrita Chowdhury states that, “Technology is transforming the already amorphous world of art, and creating both desiccations and linkages in the way artists, curators, gallerists, and buyers navigate this space. Through this segment of Winning Minds, we will explore the personal journeys and motivational drivers of our eminent panelists. We will understand the role of ideation, storyboarding, and narrative storytelling in the visual arts. We will deep dive into how digital, social, and new age technologies such as artificial intelligence, augmented reality/ virtual reality and blockchain are creating step-changes in the segment.”

Alka Pande, an Academic, Author and Museum Curator states that, “The pandemic has brought about a sea change in our minds spaces and economies. It would be interesting to know and understand what would be the texture of the new normal in the landscape of visual culture.”

Myna Mukherjee, who is a Cultural Producer, Art Curator and Human Rights Champion says, "Excited to be talking about the increasing role of technology in the visual art world, especially in this contemporary moment. Digitization is here to stay and flourish as it facilitates democratization, increased accessibility to art collections across the world without time, money or location barriers."

An Art Curator, Visual Artist and Director of Emami Art, Ushmita Sahu says that “Although digitalization has been around for quite a few years, it is transforming how we make, disseminate, and experience art in the aftermath of a global pandemic. It makes us question existing interaction methods by opening up the field with questions about accessibility, ownership, materiality, and uniqueness. Digitalization has also broadened the relationship between the artist – gallery – viewer triad, with each node realigning to more significant programming of the virtual. At Emami Art, too, we have pivoted to a robust digital presence even as we work on exhibitions such as AI art to align with the new artistic horizon.”

This insightful, in-depth session will be broadcasted across social media platforms such as Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram.

Monday, July 19, 2021

Shilpa Shetty's husband Raj Kundra arrested in pornography case

Shilpa Shetty's husband Raj Kundra, a British-Indian businessman, is being investigated by the Crime Branch-CID of Mumbai Police in connection with making pornographic content and publishing it through mobile applications. According to reports, the cops have filed two FIRs and apprehended nine people last week for allegedly forcing actors to shoot nude scenes for pornographic films. The report further stated that these films were released/ streamed on paid mobile applications.

The CP of Mumbai Police has released a statement regarding the same which read, "There was a case registered with Crime Branch Mumbai in Feb 2021 about the creation of pornographic films and publishing them through some Apps. We’ve arrested Mr Raj Kundra in this case on 19/7/21 as he appears to be the key conspirator of this. We have sufficient evidence regarding this. The investigation is in progress please."

“My father wanted me to become a doctor, but he supported me to become an actor” says Salman Shaikh

Sony SAB‘s Maddam Sir with the principle of Policing with Heart is loved by the audience and the entry of Salman Shaikh as Rajbir Tomar has taken the entertainment quotient up a notch with a remarkable comic-timing. His on-screen chemistry with Karishma Singh (Yukti Kapoor) has kept the viewers hooked to their television screens. In a candid conversation, Salman Shaikh spoke about how his father has inspired and motivated him to become successful as an actor.

Salman Shaikh, talking about his interest in becoming an artist said, “My father has always wanted me to become a doctor, but when I told him about my interest and passion of becoming an artist, he understood my emotions for the same and paved the way for acting. Though I was very nervous about acting, my father encouraged me to try my hands on it. During my early days, I started going to a theatre in Jaipur named Rang Manch and whatever I am today, I owe it to that place. I started my acting workshop and gained confidence about my acting skills through it.”

Sharing his love for dance, Salman said, “When I was a child, I was enthusiastic about dancing, and my go-to song used to be Ek Pal Ka Jeena from Kaho Na Pyaar Hai. This song means a lot to me and Hrithik Roshan has been my inspiration for dance since childhood. His love, passion, and dedication towards dance have made me work harder and ace as a dancer.”

He further added, “Wherever I stand today in the television industry, my father plays a very important role. He has always taught me not to be over-confident and stay grounded. His expectations from me are a lot more and he keeps telling me to improve myself every day and do better as an artist. My parents have always appreciated my work and they love watching me as Rajbir Tomar in Sony SAB’s Maddam Sir. Their blessings mean a lot to me and are a driving force to keep improving and better my skills.” 

The continuing popularity of Doordarshan in Sports

Cricket in India has been an integral part of the most of its population’s lifestyle. It has been the way for decades, thanks in part to India& national broadcaster - Doordarshan. And while the game’s broadcast has moved on to other channels since, every time Team India is in action, DD Sports still plays a crucial role. Though Doordarshan accounts to only 14% of the cricket audience of the country, 4 out of the 5 views in that comes from rural parts. It helps the game (and consequently brands and advertisers) reach a mass population in the areas where the other major broadcasters have not made proper inroads yet.

Take the case of India’s tour to Sri Lanka whose six games (3ODIs and 3T20Is) will all be on DD Sports along with channels of the Sony Sports Network. Nearly a dozen brands have signed up with DD Sports as broadcast partners and sponsors for the series. These include Co-Presenting Sponsors Myfab11, Mountain Dew, Ultratech Cement, Indira IVF, Ghadi Detergent, Fogg Deo and Associate Sponsors Nilons, Omni Gel, Cycle Incense sticks, Pepsi, and Glori Soap.

Says Nikhil Vyas, CEO of ITW MWORX, which is the ad sales partner for DD Sports: “Advertisers realised that India cricket on DD Sports is a very effective and efficient medium to reach out to an audience size of 40M households in tier 2,3 and smaller towns. The reach of the platform is unmatched which makes it a regular media vehicle for the agencies and clients in the media plans.”

Bhairav Shanth, Co-founder and MD of ITW Consultancy Pvt Ltd, also echoed the same sentiments as to why DD Sports remains a viable and even vital component of a broader cricket media plan for brands associated with the sport. “Our research shows that 1 in 7 viewers in India watch cricket on the national broadcaster and 4 out of 5 of those viewers are from the rural areas. It’s the perfect complement to the more urban audiences that cable and OTT platforms reach.” he said.

ITW is also the official in stadia advertising rights holder as well as markets the Hybrid on air features advertising on Sony Sports network. Though more of the population will have access to paid broadcasters or major OTT platforms in the coming years, Doordarshan’s feed will still continue to entertain a huge chunk of the rural areas of the country. And the level of brand interest in the India-Sri Lanka series is ample proof of its viability and importance. 

Sunday, July 18, 2021

Rahul Bagga’s web film Mahhabbhoj to premiere on PAUS TV (UK)

Rahul Bagga starrer upcoming web film Mahhabbhoj is all set to premiere on PAUS TV (UK) on 3rd August in their Paus Premiere Festival. This web film is rated amongst the top 10 films selected films by PAUS TV after thousands of submissions around the world. Apart from Rahul Bagga who’s made a commendable name for himself be it in the world of movies, series or short films, the film’s other ensemble cast includes Arpana Kanwar, Ravi Gosain, Navin Prabhakar and others.

Directed by Shiv Kumar, this film is a commentary on the society rituals especially on the glorification of Mrityubhoj (Feast to appease the soul of the departed) culture in Hindu religion and the superstitious beliefs of people around it. “For the unknown, Mahhabbhoj is a tradition of throwing a grand feast on the thirteenth after a cremation for the liberation of departed soul. It is believed that this feast helps the soul, find heavenly abode. At this event, the entire community is fed a lavish meal in the hope to garner peace and blessings for the departed. The feast is later extended to the relatives, neighbors’ and the rest of the village. However, in contemporary times, Mrityubhoj has become a reflection of a family’s social standing. Even the poorest of poor are compelled under circumstances beyond their control to organize large death feasts, taking a toll on their very existence,” said Shiv Kumar. The narrative follows the story of the protagonist who takes a stand of not performing the ritual against the will of everyone including his wife, how the whole village goes against him with their superstitious beliefs and what he finally does to make them understand the truth.

Sharing the news about the film and its successful stint, director Shiv Kumar mentioned that he wishes to work on a Dogri film soon and hopes that the Dogri Film Industry also flourishes like the other successful regional industries like Punjabi, Marathi and South India. When asked how the idea of this film germinated, he narrated that it was the writer Umesh Uphadhay’s idea which has an important social aspect, and we felt that this issue needs to be addressed. Shiv Kumar also mentioned that a lot of people have been raising voice against this customary social ritual for long. It’s only recently the Rajasthan Government took a major step in this regard and completely banned it.

Shiv Kumar was born and brought up in Jammu city and always had an interest in Film Industry. He completed his graduation from Delhi University and started pursuing his dreams. After passing out from a film school he made his debut short film “No Freedom To Love” which premiered at Zurich International Film Festival, Switzerland as well made its way to Dada Saheb Phalke Film festival, 2013 edition.

Produced by Nazia Sayed and Shiv Kumar of Kkontent Factory, Mahhabbhoj that made its round at various festivals is winning accolades nationally and internationally. Till date, it has won 15 awards and 22 Nominations across the Globe including London, Kuala Lumpur and TINFF, Toronto. 

Payal Kapadia wins Oeil d’or (Golden Eye) award for best documentary in Cannes

Payal Kapadia has won the Oeil d’or (Golden Eye) award for Best Documentary at the 74th Cannes Film Festival for her film, A Night of Knowing Nothing. Prior to this, The Cinema Travellers, directed by Shirley Abraham and Amit Madheshiya, earned an Oeil d’or Special Mention way back in 2016.

Kapadia’s A Night of Knowing Nothing featured in the Directors’ Fortnight - a section that runs parallel to the festival. Her’s is one of three South Asian features selected at the ongoing Cannes Film Festival, along with Abdullah Mohammad Saad’s Rehana Maryam Noor (Bangladesh, in the Un Certain Regard section) and Rahul Jain’s Invisible Demons (in Cinema for the Climate), the last two being in official selection. This is Kapadia’s second outing at Cannes, after her short Afternoon Clouds, made as an FTII student, was showcased in the festival’s 2017 Cinéfondation section. This was followed by another short, “And What is the Summer Saying” that was premiered at the Berlin Film Festival in 2018. This is the Mumbai-based filmmaker’s first feature that bagged the prestigious prize competing against 28 documentaries presented across various sections of the festival.

The Oeil d’or Award was instituted in 2015 by LaScam and Bertuccelli in collaboration with the Cannes Film Festival and its general delegate Thierry Fremaux. This year the jury was headed by American documentary producer Ezra Edelman alongwith French filmmaker Julie Bertuccelli, French actress Deborah Francois, Film critic Iris Brey and Orwa Nyrabia from IDFA, Amsterdam.

One Pill Can Kill – Song For Charlie: A Unique Collaboration with Social Media Companies to alert youth about killer counterfeit pills

Mary and Ed Ternan, whose  22-year old son Charlie died of fentanyl poisoning after taking a fake prescription pill, today announced their family run non-profit Song For Charlie will launch a national social media awareness campaign to educate young people about the hidden dangers of "Fentapills" (fake prescription pills made of fentanyl sold on the internet).

The initiative entitled, One Pill Can Kill, is the result of a unique collaboration between Song for Charlie and social media platforms featuring original content, digital ads, and PSAs running on Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook. The ads direct viewers to to take the No Random Pills!  pledge. 

“We need to alert the kids – ASAP,” said co-founder Ed Ternan. “That requires cooperation from social media platforms, because the internet is where kids are connecting -- so it has been our strategy to get them actively involved. We need to make social media our allies, not our adversaries.”

Fentanyl, a cheap and powerful opioid, is the primary driver of the dramatic increase in drug deaths over the past year, according to the CDC. It is also the active ingredient in fentapills, which have now been found in all 50 States, with resulting deaths reported in 42 States, according to the nonprofit Partnership for Safe Medicines.

“We are in a race against time,” said co-founder Mary Ternan. “We want to share this critical information, so no parents experience what we've been through. If we can reach the kids directly and give them the facts, we might help them make better decisions and saves some lives.”

"Health promotion and education on this crisis is paramount," said Tim Mackey, PhD, CEO of S-3 Research, a company funded by the National Institutes of Health to develop technology to detect illicit online drug sale activities. "Educating kids and families about the real dangers of fentanyl is just as important as monitoring platforms for drug activity. They go hand in hand. I applaud Ed and Mary for their ability to engage the tech companies in this critical awareness effort."

Saturday, July 17, 2021

Hina Khan & Rishi Bhutani’s film LINES to premiere on Voot Select

Hina Khan is one of the biggest names in the television industry, and now, she is trying to make a mark in Bollywood as well. Last year, she made her big screen debut with the film Hacked, and now, her next release Lines is all set to premiere on Voot Select.

A few days ago, Voot Select had announced The Voot Select Film Fest in which they will be premiering many interesting films and one of them is Lines. The first look poster of Lines was unveiled at Cannes Film Festival in 2019, and fans of Hina have been eagerly waiting to watch the film.

On Thursday, Hina took to Twitter to announce the premiere date of Lines. She tweeted, “Presenting LINES on @VootSelect on 29th of July. So honoured that LINES is a part of Voot select film festival and like the poster launch (in Cannes) LINES is releasing in India with the line-up of some amazing films featuring stunning actors and directors.”

This time Hina will be paired against the handsome actor Rishi Bhutani who started his career with Bolo Raam with stalwarts including Padmini Kolhapure, Om Puri & Naseeruddin Shah. The thriller film Vodka Diaries directed by Kushal Srivastava was his last theatrical release before Corona shut the theaters all across the country. Apart from Lines, he will also be seen in Bed No.17 that is directed by Mir Sarwar.

Meanwhile, Hina is also enjoying on the success of her song Baarish Ban Jaana which has received 200 million plus views on YouTube. The song has her romancing Shaheer Sheikh the leading heart throb of the television industry. She tweeted about it, “#BaarishBanJaana hits 200 million+ views on YouTube! Thank you everyone for making this track most memorable for me! Also, setting new records each day, trending on most platforms & radio channels! This Baarish season agar #BaarishBanJaana nahi suna toh Kya kiya! @VYRLOriginals.”

You can catch the trailer of Lines here:

Friday, July 16, 2021

Manoj Bajpayee-starrer 'Dial 100' to premiere on ZEE5

Thriller movie Dial 100 has been amongst the most highly awaited films this year, especially with Manoj Bajpayee being the flavor of the season and him teaming up with powerhouse actors Neena Gupta and Sakshi Tanwar. A complete package with a stellar cast, compelling writing, pacey direction, and edge of the seat suspense, the movie unfolds in one night where one call turns everyone’s lives upside down.

Produced by Sony Pictures Films India, Siddharth M Malhotra, and Sapna Malhotra’s Alchemy Films, the thriller suspense film is directed by Rensil D’Silva and will premiere on India’s largest homegrown OTT platform, ZEE5.

Vivek Krishnani, Managing Director at Sony Pictures Films India, said the company is thrilled to partner with ZEE5 for the world premiere of 'Dial 100'. “This film echoes our vision to present fresh and unique content that connects with audiences. Rarely, do we get to see a union of such gifted actors like Manoj, Neena and Sakshi combined with the creative energies of Siddharth and director Rensil to create such an intelligent and thrilling movie,” Krishnani said in a statement.

The makers released the first look of the film, going by which, it appears that Manoj Bajpayee, Neena Gupta, and Sakshi Tanwar are a part of a fast-paced thriller replete with several plot twists. Producer Siddharth P Malhotra, Alchemy Films says, “We are excited and thrilled to partner with like-minded powerhouses like ZEE5 and Sony Pictures Film India and bring forth one of the most awaited movies of this year. The movie’s script was one of its most powerful elements which have been executed even more beautifully by the cast and crew, taking the movie a notch up.”

Manish Kalra, Chief Business Officer at ZEE5 India, said the film reinforces their belief to present strong and diverse content on their platform. “We are confident that this film will surprise, shock and move the audience and leave them wanting for more,” Kalra added.

Director Rensil D’Silva says, “Dial 100 is a fast-paced, edge of the seat, thriller film which unfolds in one night. This movie would not have been the same without the involvement of the powerhouse star cast and I am so glad that we were able to do this together. The movie with its many twists is sure to surprise the audience and keep them enthralled from start to end.”

For the uninitiated, here is the trailer: 

Bhushan Kumar of T-Series booked for rape

The Mumbai police have registered a case against T-Series MD Bhushan Kumar for allegedly raping a woman on the promise of providing a job to her. The offence was registered at D N Nagar police station in Andheri (West) on the basis of the complaint lodged by the 30-year-old woman. However, the police did not divulge much detail about when the alleged crime took place.

Meanwhile, T-Series has issued a statement inn that regards after their MD, Bhushan Kumar was booked by the Mumbai police in a rape case on Friday. An official statement from T-Series says the allegations against Bhushan are false and that they have proof against the woman. The studios said that the woman was trying to get a web series made with T-Series but was denied the same.

According to sources, Kumar has been booked under IPC sections 376 (rape), 420 (cheating) and 506 (criminal intimidation). T-Series is a music record label and film production company founded by the late Gulshan Kumar.