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The standard operating procedures (SOPs) for the reopening of cinemas, issued by the Information and Broadcasting ministry, make a six-foot distance between people watching films mandatory

All cinema halls, theatres and multiplexes are allowed to function from Thursday in Delhi—but with a limited seating capacity and a series of other measures aimed at safety from Covid-19—under guidelines of the Central government which were notified by the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) last week.

In Delhi, cinema halls, multiplexes and theatres have been shut since March 12, much before the nationwide lockdown came into effect on March 25 to arrest the spread of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19).

The standard operating procedures (SOPs) for the reopening of cinemas, issued by the Information and Broadcasting (I&B) ministry, make a six-foot distance between people watching films mandatory. It also mandates staggered entry and exits from cinema halls, including during intervals.

Sanitisation of halls after each screening is also mandatory. Seats have to be left vacant for social distancing and marked with fluorescent markers. Crowding in lobbies, common areas, and lifts is barred. The guidelines suggest longer intermissions to allow audiences seated in different rows to move in a staggered manner.

The multiplex association of India had said in a statement: “We are committed to ensuring a safe, secure and hygienic cinema-going experience for the movie-lovers…The permission from the Delhi governments to reopen cinemas will help to ensure that the cinema exhibition sector is able to quickly recover from the dire economic and financial impact of the epidemic. We look forward to welcoming back moviegoers to a safe and amazing brand-new experience at our cinemas.” Source : ht

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The SBKK’s Ramlila has, over the years, seen the participation of some the biggest names in classical music and dance, and has figured prominently on the capital’s cultural calendar.

The Ramayana is the story of the victory of good over evil. When the capital’s much-celebrated Ramlila “SHRI RAM,” a dance- drama, opened on Saturday , the team of artistes at the Shriram Bharatiya Kala Kendra (SBKK), which organises the annual cultural extravaganza, also rejoiced at the victory of their optimism over the all-pervading pessimism caused by the coronavirus disease pandemic. After all, they managed to stage the spectacular ballet based on the life of Lord Ram at a time when many Ramlilas across the city have either been cancelled or truncated for lack of time to make preparations, restrictions imposed to curb the spread of the viral disease, and delayed official permissions.

Putting together the dance-drama -- a unique fusion of many forms of Indian classical music and folk dances, martial and acrobatic arts, masks and make-up styles -- which requires months of preparation, was a formidable challenge when pandemic is raging. Shobha Deepak Singh, who has directed this unique version of the Ramlila for almost five decades, says she was determined to try and ensure that there was no break in the annual event, first staged in 1957 under the stewardship of her mother Sumitra Charat Ram.

The SBKK’s Ramlila has, over the years, seen the participation of some the biggest names in classical music and dance, and has figured prominently on the capital’s cultural calendar.

“ The only thing that worried me was getting the permissions on time. But we wanted to start rehearsals, and so each of our 60 artists and technicians underwent a corona test and everyone tested negative and the rehearsals got underway in August,” said Singh, sitting in her office, decorated with Indian artefacts and artworks.

“Even though everyone tested negative for the coronavirus disease, we started rehearsals in small batches with all necessary precautions. There were temperature checks everyday and when in the green room, everyone wore masks. We put up all artists in the hostel within the campus and every one underwent a test every 15th day,” said Shashidharan Nair, the choreographer of the presentation for the past 25 years.

Among those who were not sure if they will be able to perform in front of a live audience was Raj Kumar Sharma, who has played Ram for the past two decades now. The coronavirus was capable of springing a nasty surprise anytime.

“ Even as we rehearsed, most artists were not sure that eventually the event will be staged, pandemic was far from abating, and even by late September the permission to hold the event was still awaited, ” says Sharma, sitting in front of a large mirror in the green room with large table mirrors. Costumes, masks, crowns, bows and arrows hang on the wall.

Singh came to the rehearsals every day to ensure that new news costumes and scenes that she had introduced this year came through well. For the uninitiated, the SBKK Ramlila is also pageantry of regal costumes and jewellery, a lot of which is inspired by the works of painter Raja Ravi Verma.

“I have been constantly experimenting with music, make-up, sets, lights, costumes, jewellery and technology so that our production has something fresh to offer to the audiences,” says Singh, who believes that technology and tradition co-exist. Last year, she introduced multiple LED screens on the open-air stage to display many scenes such as Hanuman bringing the Sanjeevani Booti; Ram and his army crossing the sea into Lanka over floating stones – which gave the presentation a feel of a 3-D visual extravaganza.

She was satisfied with the preparations. In mid- September,. it was time for all to undergo another coronavirus test.

This time, the coronavirus did spring a nasty surprise. Singh tested positive. Everyone else, thankfully , tested negative.

Many artistes thought it was curtains for the show as she shifted to a hospital in Gurgaon. “ Our spirits sank. But she kept telling us from hospital to keep the rehearsal on, to be ready to stage the Ramlila even if we got the permission last day. The rehearsal went on in her absence,” says Nair.

Singh returned after two weeks to a cheering welcome by the artistes. But the permission to hold the Ramlila had not yet come. Singh activated her plan B – between October 10 and 12 , the Ramlila was recorded to be screened on YouTube in case the live event had to be cancelled at the last moment.

But, finally, the government gave its go-ahead, with riders, for the event. And the stage was set for the inauguration of the 64th edition of the SBKK’s Ramlila. Arrangements were made for seating about 100 people for reasons of social- distancing, unlike in the past when about 600 could see the Ramlila every day.

On Saturday, it was 6 pm, half an hour before the show. Singh was inside the green room of women’s artistes, having a word with Madhavi Rastogi, who is playing Sita. Rastogi is busy adjusting her jewellery, her fellow artists lending a helping hand. There are also other young women artistes playing female characters—Kaikayee , Yaraka, Manthara—touching up their lips, faces, eyes, all finally excited to perform before the live audience many of whom, wearing masks, have already taken the seats placed at quite a distance from each other. “ I love playing Sita, which is quite an emotional roller coaster ride for me; but what saddens me is the fact that women continue to face ordeal by fire to prove themselves every day, ” says Rastogi.

Singh says that for her, the Ramanaya is essentially a saga of devotion, loyalty, endearing family relationships, and respect for elders. “ So, we have always tried to make our version of Ramlila entertaining and enlightening. I have studied Ramayana and Ramcharitmanas deeply over the last 50 years, and the most important lesson I have drawn is that to err is human, to forgive divine,” she says.

It is 6.30 in the evening, and the open-air stage at SBKK has come alive. The inaugural show has begun as scheduled. Source : ht


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Sushant Singh Rajput death case: NCB has asked the drug enforcement agencies in the US, the UK, Canada and Australia to identify cocaine suppliers to Mumbai

Investigations into the drug angle in film actor Sushant Singh Rajput’s death has led the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) to large drug organisations and entities in Amritsar and Pakistan supplying cocaine and other hard drugs to Mumbai, and to Bollywood. While the NCB is working on tracing the backtrail from consumer to peddler to supplier to those controlling the trade, the emerging picture is one that threatens to roil Bollywood with past and present A-listers and others showing up on the radar of the agency.

“We have a fair idea as to who is involved in the Bollywood drug scene and (who the) Mumbai suppliers (are). The evidence is being collected before the consumers of hard drugs including heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine and their suppliers are charged,” said a senior NCB official who is familiar with the investigations in the Sushant Singh Rajput case. The official spoke on the conduct that he is not named.

While a key Amritsar link who is central to the investigation is expected to be summoned this week by NCB, the agency has sought the help of the US, UK, Canada and Australian drug enforcement agencies to unearth suppliers of cocaine to Mumbai. According to information shared by associate agencies, at least 1,200 kilograms of cocaine landed in India in 2018, with 300 kilograms landing in Mumbai alone. The number was discovered by a detailed investigation into a seizure of 55 kg of cocaine in Australia in June 2019; the same organization was behind both. NCB has already registered a case on the basis of the Australian report.

According to NCB officials, the majority of cocaine lands in India through the Columbia-Brazil-Mozambique route, while other African destinations and the Dubai area are sometimes used as an alternative route. Given that India is the largest producer of potassium permanganate, which is used in processing cocaine, there were even plans by some organizations to set up a cocaine processing unit in the country, these officials added.

With India consuming nearly one ton of heroin every day, associate agencies have also alerted NCB to the possibility of a processing unit in India for Afghan heroin coming through Punjab (from Pakistan) or through the sea route from Gujarat. Pakistan’s deep state has always used drug money for terrorist funding.

While NCB is conducting an intensive investigation into the drug angle of the Sushant Singh Rajput case, the matter needs to be handled carefully, the NCB official cited in the first instance said, with names of drug dealers linked with Maharashtra politicians and companies managing film actors and actresses also coming under the scanner. Source : ht

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Speaking about how she pulls off such emotionally draining performances like the ones in Highway, Udta Punjab, Dear Zindagi and  Raazi at such a tender age, Alia Bhatt says that experiences determine the age of a person.

Alia Bhatt said that she is now becoming a little more aware and mindful of her thought process and the way she deals with life.

Alia Bhatt has had multiple trysts with commercial cinema as well as intense, emotionally draining parts in films such as Highway (2014), Udta Punjab (2016), Dear Zindagi (2016), and now Raazi. But how does she come up with such nuanced performances, especially when she’s just 25?

The actor says, “I feel, your experiences determine your real ‘age’. By now, I’ve had so many experiences that I’m like, ‘Okay, this is one way to do it, and that’s the other,’” she says.

The Badrinath Ki Dulhania (2017) star adds that she’s undergoing some sort of a transformation now. “At this point in life, maybe, I’m choosing to become a little [more] aware and mindful of my thought process, besides the way I deal with my life,” says Alia.

“Honestly, I can be haphazard about it — which I have been — and that’s not a good feeling. It’s not a great thing to be constantly emotional,” she adds.

When the actor isn’t using her emotions for reel avatars, she taps into her feelings for a larger cause through her ecological initiative, Coexist. She says, “When it comes to Coexist, it’s all about helping and lending my support to a cause that I believe in, which happens to be the well-being of our planet, people, animals, as well as other things that make up our world and the environment.”

On Labour Day (May 1) this year, Alia signed up to become a Jal Mitra for Aamir Khan’s Paani Foundation and volunteered for the cause at Latur in Maharashtra. She says, “Aamir and his Paani Foundation have been doing fantastic work. They are educating farmers, villagers, and people, in general. Ultimately, farmers are our source of food and they’re facing problems because of the drought. What most people aren’t aware of is that drought can be tackled by [taking] certain measures.”

In fact, Alia finds it great that Aamir isn’t just making donations. “More importantly, he’s imparting knowledge. So, this isn’t just monetary assistance; such values stay with you for a lifetime. In fact, I, too, learnt about it that day itself. I was very impressed and also happy that I went there,” she says. Source : ht





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Abhishek Bachchan To Appear On KBC For Noble Cause

Written by Friday, 15 September 2017 06:00

Mumbai: Actor Abhishek Bachchan will be seen as a special guest on his father and megastar Amitabh Bachchan's show Kaun Banega Crorepati 9 to promote the social work done by Goonj Foundation.

Abhishek, along with founder of Goonj Foundation Anshu Gupta, will be seen on the Friday Special episode "Nai Chah Nai Rah".

"I'm a great admirer of the work done by Mr Anshu and his team towards the development of the villages across the nation. After listening to his story of dedication on 'KBC', many will be inspired and should come forward to support the cause. It was a pleasure to share the stage of KBC with him and help him in his endeavour," Abhishek said in a statement.

Kaun Banega Crorepati 9 is aired on Sony Entertainment Television.




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I do some films for bill, some for dil: Adil Hussain

Written by Thursday, 14 September 2017 06:14

Adil Hussain’s next stage project will be a one-man act narrating the gist of the Bhagavad Gita. He will play both Krishna and Arjuna in it.

This year Adil Hussain was seen playing a frustrated, overworked son to a father who is desperately seeking salvation in critically-acclaimed Mukti Bhawan.

Next he will be seen in a bunch of smaller roles in Rajinikanth’s much awaited 2.0 and Neeraj Pandey’s Aiyaari and the 54-year-old actor says like any other artiste, he takes up some projects to pay his bills and some to satisfy his inner voice.

Hussain says, “Aiyaari and 2.0 are those small, tiny roles that I’m doing to pay my bills. Films like Mukti Bhawan don’t pay me. So I have to sort of balance it - some for bill, some for dil (heart).”

The actor, who won the National Award (Special Jury Mention) this year for the Shubhashish Bhutiani- directed movie, says after constantly working in films for over eight years, he is in a good headspace right now, ready to devote some time to his first passion -- theatre.

Hussain’s next stage project will be a one-man act narrating the gist of the Bhagavad Gita. He will play both Krishna and Arjuna with casting director Dilip Shankar, with whom the actor has earlier worked in films such as The Reluctant Fundamentalist and Life of Pi. The actor says, “I’m ready to take the plunge. But, hands down, it will be a big shift from being a lazy film actor on the sets to theatre. I’ll have to retrain myself to go back to the medium. But somehow I have managed to make myself comfortable with it. It’s my training that helps me switch on and switch off.”

He has been a sought-after name language films such as Assamese, Bengali, Tamil, Marathi and Malayalam. But it was only in 2012 when he shot for the Bengali film Sunrise that Hussain stopped worrying about being a good actor. “With each role I used to be really stressed till 2012.I felt I had to do good. So my teacher in Puducherry said, ‘I know you’re good but that’s not enough, is it?’ I answered in affirmative and asked him how to go beyond that.”

The actor said being true to the craft rather than being good at it helped him overcome his fear. “Why didn’t I attempt it before? It’s like you’re jumping from the cliff and there are just two possibilities - you die or you fly. So that has been happening since I did a play and the film ‘Sunrise’ - I had no idea. The burden of being good has left my shoulders only recently.”

Hussain will be seen in an intense film, Love, Soniya, which stars Lion child star Sunny Pawar and Freida Pinto. The actor also has Deb Medhekar’s directorial debut Bioscopewala, which is a modern adaptation of Rabindranath Tagore’s Kabuliwala with veteran actor Danny Denzongpa in the title role. “I play Mini’s father in the film. It’s a character inspired by photographer Prabuddha Dasgupta,” he says. Source : HT




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Priyanka Chopra on Tuesday shared a video of a young Syrian refugee who despite living in a Jordanian camp for other displaced families like hers, remains a huge fan of Bollywood films, especially those starring Katrina Kaif.

Priyanka translated the girl’s message, and added, “This is a special shout out to one of India’s biggest movie stars. @katrinakaif this video is just for you, all the way from Za’atari Refugee camp in Jordan.”

“This is Wafaa, one of your biggest fans and her message roughly translated is ‘I love Katrina Kaif a lot and I am one of her fans. I have watched all her movies and never missed one, even if a movie is played more than once I watch it. I love you Katrina and love your beauty,’” she wrote.

Priyanka also said that she’d been told to convey messages of love “to these Massive Indian film superstars, who are favourites at Za’atari... SHAHRUKH KHAN, SALMAN KHAN, AKSHAY KUMAR, KAREENA KAPOOR and ANUSHKA SHARMA.”

Priyanka admitted that listening to what Wafaa had to say “was something I honestly did not expect...but it made my day.”

It left Priyanka with a sense of pride for her job. “Who would think that what we do as entertainers would give people a sense of hope, relief and escape in such dire circumstances,” she wrote.”This post is for all my colleagues in the Entertainment Business around the world... know what we do sometimes has such an (sic) deep impact on people’s lives and goes beyond just the mere entertainment people look at us for.”

Priyanka was visiting Jordan as a UNICEF goodwill ambassador. “I think the world needs to understand that this is not just a Syrian refugee crisis, it’s a humanitarian crisis,” she told AP.




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After months of speculation whether Padmavati will release in 2017, it is now confirmed that Sanjay Leela Bhansali has decided to change the release date of his film starring Deepika Padukone, Ranveer Singh and Shahid Kapoor.

Waiting it out

The shooting of the film was delayed due to protests in Rajasthan, which is why the film is not ready. Even though they have finished shooting a major chunk, there is always a chance that some patchwork is needed. Plus, the post-production will take time, so SLB has decided to not rush it and come on a different date to allow better execution of the film.

Vacation time

Says a source, “SLB had an October 20 deadline, which is impossible to meet now. The workers’ strike took away a few important days. Meanwhile, two of the principal actors — Deepika and Shahid — also had free dates, so they took off on vacations. A lot of the shoot is still left. The major chunk may have been shot, but some big action sequences are still left. Ranveer’s portions as the young Alauddin Khilji, too, remain to be shot.”

An empty slot

Padmavati has now vacated the November 17 release date slot. Says a source, “The makers are planning to release it in February 2018. Apart from Anushka Sharma’s Pari (February 9, 2018), no other big film is slotted for February.”




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Here's how Akshay Kumar is marking his 'Gold'en jubilee

Written by Saturday, 09 September 2017 07:52


Akshay Kumar is ringing in his 50th birthday today and to mark his golden jubilee, he treated his fans to a new poster of his upcoming Bollywood movie 'Gold.'

The excited birthday boy took to his Twitter handle and shared the official poster of the film, captioning it as, "Every cloud has a silver lining bt with ur love my clouds got a lining of Gold!As my age #TurnsGold,here's the poster of a film close to my?"

The poster, which depicts an Olympic gold medal with a picture of the 'Rustom' actor on it, has a tagline that reads, "The dream that united a nation."

Mouni Roy, who is also a part of this film, took to her Instagram and also shared this new poster with a caption, "Here's presenting the first poster of Gold. So very Happy to be a part of this dreamteam & here's wishing Akshay Sir the happiest most prosperous journey ahead. Love & regards??#AkshayTurnsGold @akshaykumar"

The biopic, which is based on the life of hockey player Balbir Singh, who was on the team that won the first Olympic medal for India as a free nation in 1948, is all set to hit the theatres on August 15, 2018.




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Ask any actor of some worth. It is not easy to play a known living character. Audiences and the character that you are playing, plus their close associates, judge the performance with scrutinized harshness and normally find it wanting. Not this time. Not Arun Gawli. Not Arjun Rampal, who has shaped into one of Hindi cinema's most dependable actors who does his roles with such smooth efficiency and such noiseless excellence that we are liable to miss the point.

Don't make the mistake of confusing Arjun's laidback wisdom in portraying the gangster-philanthropist-parliamentarian-convict Arun Gawli as a Devgn-esque laziness. This is a power-packed implosive performance. Rampal plays Gawli as a time bomb waiting to explode. There are no extra toppings, fringe benefits, perks or bonuses to this performance.

Rampal plays it straight. Director Ashim Ahluwalia gives the actor no room to stretch out his character's inner world. Fleeting looks and fugitive gestures add up to making Rampal's Gawli one of the most comprehensive projections of guilty gangsterism in recent times.

Comparisons are not called-for. But I can't help compare Rampal's Gawli with Shah Rukh Khan's Raees. The two sagas of Robin Hoods with furious FIRs on their wanted heads, bear many similarities. Except that Shah Ruh could never enter his gangster character's world.

Arjun goes right in. He is the only recognizable face (provided his physical and emotional transformation leaves any room for recognition) in the vast cast of what I suspect to be several real-life anti-socials. Cannily, the director builds the quirks around killings and feuds of criminal clans through actors who surrender to their characters with a brutal velocity.

Watch out for Rajesh Shringapure as Gawli's accomplice Rama and Farhan Akhtar playing Dawood as so cool, you may confuse the jungle for the greenery. There is a brilliant conniving female character Rani (played with smouldering slyness by Shruti Bapna) who uses sex as an ATM machine. Rani tells part of Gawli's stories. Other people associated with his life tell the rest.

The editors piece together the saga with layered urgency. This is not an easy story to tell or for us to comprehend. There is no room here for any actor, least of all Rampal, to strut with guns and appear even remotely macho. If you are looking for a stylish take on gangsterism, look elsewhere.

Besides its technical excellence, the biggest achievement of Daddy is its portrayal of violence as swift, repugnant and utterly ugly. The shootouts and here I would like to commend action director Shyam Kaushal, are brutal, terse and to the point. The killers do their business with swift professionalism leaving no room for self-congratulatory paeans to violence that Tarantino, Coppola and nearer home, Mukul Anand and Mani Ratnam have specialized in.

In one notably savage attack, a petty gangster infiltrates a jail cell and pounds an inmate to a pulp after shooting him. What we see is the gut-churning fury of violence in all the graphic sequences of gangrenous gang wars where we hear every bone crunch with the wince-inducing impact of a blow delivered in our popcorn-munching faces.

For me, the real hero of Daddy, besides Rampal (and some, not all, of his co-actors) is the sound editor Sangik Basu followed by the cinematographer Jessica Lee Agne aided by Pankaj Kumar who bring to the frames a sinking feeling of an unwashed blood-soaked doom.




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