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Rup Roy Ghosh

Manchester-Based Lawyer Turned Filmmaker Wins Audience Choice Award For ‘The Monalisa Smile?’

While pursuing her master’s degree in law, this Manchester-based young mother of a four-year old boy did the unthinkable. Rup Ghosh Roy decided court battles were not her cup of tea but cinema is. And she took the plunge as writer-director with a documentary feature titled The Monalisa Smile? Why a question mark? This bold, brave, and hard-hitting film explores the lives of 12 South Asian women living and working in the UK. The film shot in a documentary format throws light on the problems they face daily. Rup, who received an overwhelming response from 48 women with real life stories managed finally to capture 12 unique storytellers, from a beauty queen to an online chef, to a doctor who is also an animal rights activist. The film also explores serious issues such as bullying, racism, etc. The aim of making this documentary is to create awareness, make the film relatable to women and young girls in the UK, and eventually send a message that they are not alone in their battles. Self-funded Rup uploaded her film on and entered national and international film festivals like LIFT-OFF GLOBAL, and won the Audience Choice Award and First Time Filmmaker 2023. Her first documentary has created enough waves and she is being noticed and talked about.
koel anand amruta sankarshan

Koyel Bhattacharya, Pt Anand Bhate, Sankarshan Karhade and Amruta Deshmukh

Unusual Trend Of Indian Performing Artists Flocking To The UK In Winter

Braving all odds, chilled weather, cold and snow Indian performing artists especially those from Maharashtra are flocking to the UK. Usually, the influx begins after spring sets in, and Indian performing arts events are showcased till summer ends. But this year the month of January witnessed vocalists, and dramatists performing in the UK. Also, most of them are coming directly from India. Disciple of late Ustad Rashid Khan, eminent vocalist Koyel Bhattacharya from Kolkata,  accompanied by her husband Kuntal Das, a tabla player disciple of the late Shubhankar Banerjee arrived here in London to perform at the Royal Albert Hall on January 15 for the prestigious Saudha Arts. The husband-wife duo will present their repertoire of ghazals, thumris, dadras and classical songs for SAJDA – Festival Of South Asian Performing Arts. Close on their heels the renowned 54-year-old Marathi vocalist Pt Anand Bhate from the Kirana gharana will perform in March in the cities of Leicester, London, and Edinburgh. Bhate will enthral audiences with his mixed bag of classical, light vocal and devotional songs. The UK audience will also enjoy the comedy Marathi drama  Niyam Va Ati Laagoo presented by the young poet, writer, singer, and dramatist Sankarshan Karhade who will be accompanied by the comedian-actor Prasad Barwe and Amruta Deshmukh who was seen on Marathi Big Boss 4. Powered By: IDFC FIRST BANK

Sarangi Player Harsh Narayan’s Foreign Tour Ensures His Grandpa’s Legacy Is Kept Alive

This Mumbaikar with his boyish charm is enthralling the world with music prowess. Sarangi player Harsh Narayan, a third-generation musician, strongly represents the Ram Narayan Gharana performed in England recently.  Unlike several other artists who visit the UK and are keen to perform one too many concerts, Harsh is choosy and does only a few concerts abroad. Grandson of the maestro Pt Ram Narayan, son of sarod maestro Pt Brij Narayan and nephew of now Tornto-based Vidushi Aruna Narayan Kalle, Harsh probably has instrumental music in his genes and sarangi flowing through his veins. Harsh, while regaling the audience ensures he promotes the wisdom, knowledge, skill, purity and sanctity of Sarangi and also tries his best to uphold the tradition and legacy of his grandfather. Towards his mission, he delivered lectures and performed at the University of Warwick and a concert in Manchester. He has grown experiencing and witnessing at very close quarters the love and respect the Europeans have had towards Pt Ram Narayan’s bowing technique while playing the instrument.  Pt Ram Narayan was largely responsible for nailing Sarangi on the international map like Pt Ravi Shankar did to Sitar. Sarangi has won a rightful place as a solo-playing instrument — and not as an accompanying one by the Narayan family.

Daithankars Family Enthral The UK, USA Audiences

These four people must be one of the most talented families in the country. Pune-based Daithankar family were spotted in London recently enjoying their holidays after their shows in the UK and USA. Nupur Daithankar-Bag is Bharata Natyam exponent, teacher, TV star. Her father, the internationally acclaimed Dr Dhananjay Daithankar, is tabla/santoor artist and a music composer. Her mother Swati is a well-recognised Bharata Natyam artiste. And her brother Ninad is an engineer turned santoor player. In their concert tour, the Daithankars mesmerised the audiences in Chicago, San Jose, and Dallas with their concept of Nupur-Naad, a combined concert of Bharata Natyam and Santoor recital. The family were accompanied on tabla by the London-based wildlife photographer Saleel Tambe. NupurNaad presented an incredible amalgamation of the Indian ragas on Santoor with the dance form brilliantly curated to explore the nine ‘rasas’ and different emotions through storytelling in dance with compatible melody on the santoor.  Nupur is a popular Marathi actress who acted in TV  serial Baghi on Zee and done a movie Subhedar currently on Amazon. Ninad is an ardent foodie and traveller; Goa is one of his favourite destinations.
kedarnath tabla

Father-Son Duo Regale Indian Diaspora In The UK With concerts, Lec-Dems

India’s reputed and respected vocalist Dr Pt Nagaraj Havaldar and his son Kedarnath, a well-known accomplished tabla player known for his command over layakari were in the UK to promote Indian classical music. By meeting their fans, students, performing concerts the duo wanted to re-establish their thought that Indian classical music is an “artistic science and a scientific art.’’ The father-son duo have performed across various cities in England. Their lec-dems at different Universities in the UK have engaged both Indians and students from different nationalities.  Lec-dem, according to Bala Shankar’s article in The Hindu, an addendum to the concert circuit is useful for a number of people – aspiring musicians, rasikas who want to build their intellectual understanding, writers and commentators on music and even fellow musicians. Dr Pt Havaldar, gold medallist in history & archaeology, is a visiting professor at the Chicago Elmhurst College, USA. He has had extensive training in the tradition of Kirana Gharana from Pandit Madhava Gudi, the disciple of the Kirana scion Pt Bhimsen Joshi and he also learnt in the tradition of Jaipur-Atrauli Gharana from Pandit Panchakshari Swami Mattigatti, a senior disciple of Pandit Mallikarjun Mansur. He used his recent visit to launch his magnum opus semi-biographical Bharat Ratna Pt. Bhimsen Joshi – The Voice of the People. This is an English version of his Kannada work.

An IAS Officer With A Difference

From his artistic innovations to renovate Kolkata Tramways to debut solo art exhibition titled “Love and Longing” IAS officer, Rajanvir Singh Kapur is handling his administrative affairs and passion simultaneously. Kapur is currently Special Secretary, Sundarbans Affairs Department of Government of West Bengal and is the officer who brought a lot of artistic innovations in the Kolkata tramways from holding moving library to a restaurant during his previous charge as Managing Director of West Bengal Transport Corporation (WBTC). A self-taught artist, Rajan’s art depicts women empowerment, and also signifies the emotional states of love and longing created during the pandemic where many loved ones were separated by distance and many losing their loved ones. Besides paintings, Kapur also used Phulkari, a traditional embroidery in Punjab region, as an expression for his art work. He has taken the melange of love through various elements like jealousy, envy, seduction, taboo etc through paintings depicting each emotion. The launch of the art exhibition saw various artists and well-known personalities of the city. IAS officer Roshni Sen, Director Arindam Sil, Actor turned MLA Soham Chakraborty, Actor Pallavi Chatterjee, were amongst the many who attended the launch. Eminent painter Jogen Chowdhury observed that it is interesting to see how an administrator perceived art as he’s intrinsically involved in the daily lives of people owing to his work. Kapur believes that at present his arts are not for sale, but would if he needed to do it for a cause.
zakir alpesh

Music Maestros Zakir, Niladri, Chaurasia's To Play Together In The UK

Just before this year ends, three music maestros from India, Zakir Hussain (tabla), Niladri Kumar (sitar) and Rakesh Chaurasia (flute) will be in the UK to enthral their fans. The trio, who from time to time collaborate with The Symphony Orchestra of India (SOI) which is India’s first and only professional orchestra promoted by the NCPA has regaled audiences the world over. The trio will perform at Cadogan Hall (London), Symphony Hall (Birmingham), Usher Hall (Edinburgh) between November 30 and December 3. The 2023 UK tour has been meticulously curated and planned by the NCPA chairman KN Suntook. SOI is designed to showcase the best of the music world from India for the UK audience. Zakir Hussain, the master of fusion craft, Niladri Kumar with his powerful strumming on the sitar and Rakesh Chaurasia with his soft soothing phrases on the bansuri will undoubtedly give the audience a rich musical experience.  The NCPA had commissioned Zakir Hussain to compose a Triple Concerto for tabla, sitar, bansuri and the symphony was  premiered at the September 2023 Season of the SOI in Mumbai to an applauding audience. The three concerts, part of an 8-concert tour of  the UK, will be the global premiere of the Triple Concerto. To top it all, these three concerts will be conducted by the Indian-born award winning British conductor, Alpesh Chauhan OBE. Alpesh is currently Principal Guest Conductor of the Düsseldorfer Symphoniker.   Powered by: IDFC First Bank
Jitendra misra

Jitendra Mishra’s ‘Baghuni’ Selected For NFDC Film Bazaar

His is a hard won success story. Odisha-born Jitendra Mishra started his career as a production manager but within two years smitten by a business bug set up his own production house Cinema4good India in 2002. And within a span of two decades has become an internationally acclaimed filmmaker. This is no mean achievement. His latest directorial venture in Odia Baghuni (Dance like a Tiger) has been selected for 2023 NFDC Film Bazaar. Interestingly, Mishra teamed up with another accomplished Odia businessman, the London based Partha Sarathi Panda whose company Glocal Films UK produced Baghuni.  The movie has been officially selected among 20 feature film projects from 11 countries for the 17th edition of the Film Bazaar, the co-production market event to be held on the side-lines of the 54th International Film Festival of India IFFI Goa at Marriott Resort in Goa from November 20-24. This award winning director made his debut as a director I Am Kalam.  His production The Last Colour, written and directed by Michelin Star Chef Vikas Khanna, premiered at the 30th Palm Springs International Film Festival. Mishra wears one too many hats. He is currently president of CIFEJ, Festival Director of SIFFCY, Member of Cannes Producers Network and Professional Jury in more than 40 international film festivals and forums so far. Mishra has more than 100 films in different categories.
Rahul deshpande

Indian Classical Vocalist Rahul Deshpande To Perform In The UK On Popular Demand

His performance last year in the UK was a big hit. All shows were housefull. Now he visits the UK once again by popular demand. Meet Indian classical vocalist and recipient of the National Film Award Rahul Deshpande. Forty-four year old Rahul an internationally acclaimed classical vocalist and composer has captivated audiences world over. Last year, he had three successful shows in the UK — Southampton, Harrow Leicester. Pune born Deshpande accompanied by a five-member band will perform at Kent, Harrow, Leeds and Manchester between November 25 and December 3, 2023. Deshpande will embark on a transcendent musical journey. Rahul’s famous Vasantotsav Collective will weave a tapestry of melodies. Deshpande’s enchanting tribute will become a bridge between eras, connecting the golden age of Indian music to the contemporary global stage. Deshpande has been performing from a very young age. He is known for his energetic and captivating performances and his ability to bring together diverse musical styles and genres. Over the years, he has performed in over 1000 concerts worldwide, from the United States to the United Kingdom, Canada to the Middle East. Grandson of renowned Hindustani classical vocalist Vasantrao Deshpande, he studied under the renowned tabla player and vocalist Pandit Suresh Talwalkar and Ustad Zakir Hussain. Deshpande’s performance style is a unique fusion of Indian classical music, folk music, jazz, and contemporary music.
Amish bhavna

Amish Tripathi Returns To India, Explores More Creative Options

Celebrated author-former diplomat Amish Tripathi has returned to India for good. He was probably the first non-IAS and non-IFS officer who served in the Indian High Commission’s office UK as director at Nehru Centre for nearly four years (2019-23). Undoubtedly he brought the Nehru Centre to life by organizing on an average over 20 events a month — online during Covid, then hybrid, and recently several in-person events. For his outstanding performance he was promoted as Minister for Education & Culture from his earlier rank as First Secretary Culture. Amish is back in Mumbai to promote his new book Idols: Unearthing The Power Of Murti Puja co-authored with his sister Bhavna Roy, wife of Mumbai top cop, the late Himanshu Roy. This brother-sister duo earlier wrote Dharma: Decoding The Epics For A Meaningful Life and the new book is a companion to Dharma. The authors ask, why do people worship idols? The book is an insightful and thought-provoking exploration of the philosophy and practice of murti puja. Forty nine year old Amish along with his wife Shivani Bhandari is back to Mumbai, the city that saw him emerge as a writing and publishing phenomenon with his The Shiva Trilogy and Ram Chandra series. Amish has several projects up his sleeve including becoming producer. One of his documentaries is based on the Ram temple in Ayodhya.
Hindu rashtra

8 Deadly Sins Against Hindus, Wake Up Hindustan

He is a familiar face on the news channel and it is a pleasure to watch him speaking on Hindutva or any other subject under the sun with such conviction and logic that you have become a convert. His astounding erudition shows. He is scientist, author Anand Ranganathan. In his fifth book, a non-fiction, Hindus In Hindu Rashtra Anand argues why Hindus in India are eighth-class citizens and victims of state-sanctioned apartheid. The eight chapters through which he convincingly argues, embellishes his arguments with facts, figures and events will make any ordinary Hindus angry. He is not rabble rousing; he is merely stating the obvious and that’s bitter for any Hindus to swallow because of our pretensions. He writes that “our Muslim population is 14.2%, in the last eight years, as many as 31.3% of homes under Awaas Yojna, 33% of funds under the Kisaan Samman Nidhi Yojana and 36% of loans under the Mudra Yojana have gone to the Muslims.  And Muslim girls who complete their graduation before marriage will get Rs 51,000 under BJP government’s Pradhan Mantri Shadi-Shagun Scheme. More. Waqf is the third-largest landowner in India, after defence and railways. And that Gyanwapi Mosque built atop the grand Kashi Vishwanath Temple is on Waqf land. The Chapters “Celebrating Those Who Killed and Converted Millions of Hindus” and “Places of Worship Act, 1991” make your blood boil. Yes, a false narrative is being spread that Muslims in India are persecuted. Shame. The book is a wake-up call, and Hindus should not wait for another Adi Shankaracharya, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, Ahilayabai Holkar or Veer Savarkar to do their fighting. Time is now.  It is a must read for all Hindus.  

Actor-Lyricist Pushpa Verma Conferred Doctorate By An American University

She is an actor-lyricist-poet-producer who has deliberately kept a low profile for over two decades now. Meet Pushpa Verma who has contributed immensely to Hindi, Bhojpuri films and TV shows. And finally, the recognition of her outstanding talent did come. The Evaluation Board of the South Western American University has conferred on her with the Doctorate in Fine Arts (non-academic) degree for her creative contributions. It was not an easy rise in Bollywood; it was a hard won struggle. Often fighting against well-known lyricists and music directors as she refused to become a “ghost writer.” She shot into fame for her lyrics Tik tok tik tok darwaaza khulla chod aayi she wrote for Najayaz and the title track for multi-starrer Dharamsankat in which she played a cameo role too. She has played various character roles like mother, mother-in-law, and sister in movies starring Amitabh Bachchan, Nana Patekar, Govinda to name a few. Pushpa who has acted in over a 100 feature films, played the role of Sulochana in the most popular TV serial Ramayana. A regular at the Hindi Kavi Sammelans her poem collections- Khwabon ke Arzoo and Tumahare Liye have won her many accolades from discerning poets. Pushpa who hails from academically strong IPS and IAS family is media shy and prefers her work to speak for her. And it has.

Taking Indian Cuisine To Feed The Vikings

India, says Sarita Sehjpal, has given what is probably one of the most important ingredients to the world, crystallised sugar. It was back in the year 290 BC that Greek ambassador Megasthenes reported that people in the India Valley eat honey made by men and not by honeybees, the India-born entrepreneur writes in her new book in Norwegian, Saritas Indiske Kjokken. In those days, they made sugar out of sugarcane, which is native to Papua New Guinea.  Describing her well-researched book as “not only a recipe book but also a history of Indian food, tracing its journey from pre-historical times till today”. Having grown up in Norway she is fluent in the local language, besides Hindi and Punjabi, which were spoken at home, and decided to introduce Indian food to the Scandinavian region. Beginning with selling home-made, ready-to-eat Indian meals in grocery stores in her city of Kristiansand, she built her own brand, SaritaS. Along the way, the minority immigrant has blossomed into a distinguished name in Norwegian society, whose life story is taught as an inspirational biography in an English textbook in Norwegian schools, Step by Step. Her first book, Sarita’s India, was sold widely across Norway and was even nominated for a literature prize. Today, having made SaritaS the biggest Indian brand in Norway, with a portfolio of chilled Indian ready-to-eat meals, Indian sauces, chutneys and the like.
Amish Tripathy

Celebrated Author Amish Tripathi Wins Special Award In London

In recognition of his role towards strengthening ties between the UK and India, celebrated author, diplomat Amish Tripathi was given a special award at the 5th UK India Award 2023. The work of Amish as a Director at the Nehru Centre, and Minister of Education & Culture at the High Commission of India’s office in London has greatly impacted the Indian diaspora. During the pandemic and post Covid, Amish and his team have kept the Centre busy by hosting on an average 28 events a month. On the writing front he has co-authored Moorti Puja with his elder sister Bhavana which will be launched soon. In addition, Amish and his newly wedded wife Shivani have begun exploring the possibility of bringing the varied spiritual works in the form of comic format for lighter reading to attract students and kids globally. In the UK during the promotion of his latest book War of Lanka, he met several children who are avid readers and his fans. Youth has been his biggest audience and now he desires to penetrate further among school children. Amish is also taking a shot at being producer-director for documentary films. His work Shiva Trilogy has been captured by Shekhar Kapur for the web series.
shankar Mahadevan

Shankar Mahadevan Academy Forges Ties With Birmingham City University

Fifty-five year old accomplished singer-composer Shankar Mahadevan has been awarded a honorary doctorate by Birmingham City University (BCU) in recognition of his outstanding services to music and the arts at a special ceremony held at the University’s Royal Birmingham Conservatoire. He was also presented with a bespoke medal made by students at the University’s renowned School of Jewellery. A student ensemble who performed at the ceremony led by Dr Radhika Balakrishnan, a Carnatic classical vocalist and BCU’s first-ever Indian Council for Cultural Relations Chair in Indian Studies who is also a teacher at the Shankar Mahadevan Academy has helped Mahadevan to strengthen his ties with the University. Mahadevan has expressed a keen desire to join hands with BCU and form a tie-up between his Academy and the University. To support Mahadevan’s vision and mission none other than Ustad Zakir Hussain, renowned tabla player, composer, and percussionist, and John McLaughlin, legendary guitarist and a pioneer of jazz fusion joined him on stage and also participated in an impromptu jamming session with the University students to the delight of the audience. Professor Philip Plowden, Vice Chancellor at BCU said: “Shankar is also an educational innovator who believes in making the best tuition available to talented aspiring musicians. We are honored to have the opportunity to formally bring Shankar into our University community.”

Photographer Saleel Tambe Bags Coveted British Title

The 170-year old The Royal Photographic Society of Great Britain has bestowed on the Indian born British citizen Saleel Tambe, a renowned wildlife photographer, the prestigious Associate of Royal Photographic Society (ARPS) title. This is one of the most coveted international distinctions, recognized as the “Michelin star of photography”. The RPS Distinctions are one of the most widely recognized and respected photography titles throughout the world. The qualifications support people to undertake structured assessments through a tailored and friendly education programme with a high standard of care and support for everyone. Saleel’s presentation was titled “WINGS” in the Natural History genre and a panel comprising seven eminent jury members assessed his body of work. This distinction grants a golden lapel with a gold emblem certificate and the ARPS title is now officially added to Saleel’s name. He has also authored several books on birds and wildlife. Saleel has gathered all these priceless images wandering relentlessly in various sanctuaries and national parks across the globe. Fifty year old Saleel, an IT professional, was born in Indore and graduated from Jabalpur Engineering College and in 2003 moved to the UK. Besides photography he is also an accomplished tabla player.

The Other Side Of Vocalist Mahesh Kale You Don’t Know!

India’s renowned vocalist and national award winner Mahesh Kale is a globally respected artiste. But, there is more to him. Recently, the singer flew into the UK three days before his concerts leaving his organisers, fans and followers guessing. No, it was not to do a dry run but to travel the local tube in London, walk over 15000 steps in Central London, and explore the “vibe of the city.” Kale believes that weather is part of human life as nature has an inseparable bond with mankind. Kale is a tree hugger and also chooses to sit on a park bench and write a poem. He ensured that his disciples from Edinburgh accompanied him at both his concerts in the UK. Local travel in the city of performance helps him to understand a little more of the culture of that land, their liking for music. At his show in Manchester, a 6-month old baby Swananadi Kulkarni, overwhelmed by the audience and gathering, started crying. Kale walked up to her and whispered a song into her ears, and soon she stopped crying and started smiling. Kale is an avid traveler. This year he will be performing in the U.S., Germany and Switzerland. Kale is married and lives in the Bay area.
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India’s Top Vocalists Mahesh Kale, Kaushiki Chakraborty To Regale UK Audiences

Indian classical music aficionados are in for a treat in the UK. The recent opening of the South Asian Gallery – one of its kind in the UK — at the Manchester Museum has loaned an original pair of tabla of Ustad Allah Rakha from the British Museum. Allah Rakha’s tabla gathers a lot of interest and attention as one can hear the original clip of his playing on earphones. More. Come March, Mahesh Kale India’s renowned vocalist and national award winner will enthrall his fans in the UK’s two UK cities. Kale’s “Sur Niragas Ho – UK Tour” will be Live in Harrow (Mar 11) followed by the city of Manchester (Mar 12) at the iconic Royal Northern College of Music. Disciple of the late Pandit Jitendra Abhisheki, Kale came to prominence after he won the 63rd National Film Award as the Best Playback Singer, for a classical piece in the Marathi film Katyar Kaljat Ghusli.  A fortnight after Kale’s performance the UK audience will be regaled by another classical music artiste Kaushiki Chakraborty from Patiala gharana. Her popularity can be gauged from the fact that tickets for her concert have already been sold out.

King Of Puri To Visit UK In The Spring Of 2023

The City of London and the UK has lured all. The King of Puri is no exception. Dibyasingha Deb, known as Gajapati Maharaja Dibyasingha Deb IV, will be travelling to the UK in May 2023. He is the current titular Gajapati Maharaja and Chairman of the Shree Jagannatha Temple, Odisha and the current Adhyasevaka (known as the first and foremost servitor) of Lord Jagannatha and according to customs also considered to be the living reflection of the Lord. Huge preparations are on to welcome the King of Puri to the UK. The King, the current head of the house of Bhoj Dynasty, will be accompanied by his wife Maharani Leelavati Patamahadei. The 70-year old King’s travel in the UK is organised by the Shree Jagannatha Society of UK. Reportedly, Odia’s population in the UK is over 5000. “Pleased with support and growth here the King of Puri is on a mission to spread the Jagannath Sanskruti in the UK and across the globe,” admits Siba Ranjan Biswal, one of the leaders of the Odia community in the UK. The King’s itinerary includes visits to the Jagannatha Temples in London, Manchester, Edinburgh and Bath.  The King is expected to visit the City of Greater Manchester which has hosted the 43rd Annual Convention of the Odia community in August 2022.  
sandeep ranade pic (1)

Odisha’s IISER Appoints “Geek Gayak” Sandeep Ranade As Visiting Scientist

The prestigious Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Berhampur, Odisha has appointed Sandeep Ranade popularly known as “Geek Gayak” as a visiting scientist. Ranade probably is the first non-PhD scholar to be appointed to this post. He is expected to inspire students to do research in different areas of music. Pune-based Ranade, a software engineer, became globally popular after he won the Apple Designer of the Year Award 2021 for his App –NadSadhana. According to developers at Apple, “NaadSadhana is the sort of future-world app that could only be created by someone with an extremely specialized, almost-impossible skill set. Sandeep Ranade was that someone.” Ranade began singing from the age of four and by the 11th grade he had developed a great liking for vocal music. He has a masters from Johns Hopkins, two decades of tech-world experience, and a thriving career as a Hindustani classical vocalist. He returned to India to pursue both technology and music. He gave the app a test run by recording “Na Corona Karo,” a song about taking precautions against Covid-19 that went viral in social media after it was shared by AR Rahman and others. Ranade says his App is fully based on AI, and is trained not to adjust to the complexities of each instrument, but to the mix of the orchestra and the mood of the singer.
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Amish Tripathi Bags Additional Portfolio Of Education At Indian High Commission UK

Celebrated author, writer and bureaucrat and currently Director, Nehru Centre in London, Amish Tripathi (48) has obtained a two year extension to serve in London. In addition to his current posts as Director, Nehru Centre Amish has been offered an additional portfolio — Education. With this he is now Minister (Culture & Education), High Commission of India. This move reflects on him as a powerful Indian bureaucrat as extensions are very seldom rather unprecedented and happen in very special cases. Amish says, “My team and I will manage all interactions with the British Education ministry, universities here in the UK and actively support Indian students here.” Following a memorandum of understanding struck on July 21, 2022 that is a part of the UK-India Enhanced Trade Partnership by the UK and India to recognise each other’s higher education qualifications, Universities in the UK expect a surge in applications from Indian students. In 2020-21 the UK attracted 84,555 Indian students, with 73% coming for masters courses mostly of one year’s duration. In the year ended March 2022, as many as 107,978 Indian students were issued study visas to the UK, marking a significant rise of 93% compared to the same period before that. The UK government had indicated in 2019 that it was going to reintroduce the post-study work visa route for international students graduating from July 1, 2021 resulted in a massive boost in student numbers.
rishi sand

Odisha Sand Artist Pattnaik Faces Flak For His Rishi Sunak Portrait Resembling Tony Blair

Odisha-based internationally acclaimed sand artist and Padma Shri Awardee Sudarsan Pattnaik seems to be grabbing headlines in the UK for all the wrong reasons. Pattnaik like most Indians was excited with the Indian origin Rishi Sunkak becoming the Prime Minister of UK. So, in his own inimitable style he paid tribute to Sunak by creating a sand portrait of Rishi Sunak on the Puri beach. This creation came in for heavy criticism from the British media which stated that the renowned sand artist Pattnaik has gone wrong in depicting Rishi Sunak; he looked very much like the former British Prime Minister Tony Blair. Sudarsan is indeed apologetic. He told The Independent, UK which he has uploaded on his Twitter handle “My only intention was to draw Mr Sunak to congratulate him. It was a proud moment for me to witness the historic moment of an Indian origin man becoming prime minister of the UK like many Indians.”  Also, what propelled Pattnaik to draw Sunak was his personal connection with Sunak’s mother-in-law Sudha Murthy who had encouraged him in his initial years. Sudarsan laments the fact that his good intention has created unnecessary controversy but he will make up for it by creating another one, and make it look more accurate.
Sudha_Recipe for life

Secret Recipes That Tickle The Palates Of The Rich And Famous

Did you know that billionaire banker Uday Kotak fondly remembers the udad ni dal, ring na olo and chokha na dashmi his mother made?A new book brings back a host of recipes used by the mothers of Kotak and half a dozen other big business leaders. These, as well as a couple of dozen other celebrities across films and sports like Aamir Khan, Vidya Balan, Irfan Pathan, Mithali Raj, Mary Kom, and author Amish Tripathi and commentator Harsha Bhogle, share precious family recipes.The ‘food memoir’, as business journalist-turned-author Sudha Menon describes her seventh book Recipes for Life, is a collection of interviews, anecdotes and stories about her subjects growing up with their mother’s food. Menon, who is also an actor and motivational speaker, says she started writing this one after her mother-in-law’s death, with dementia having wiped out her legacy of hundreds of family recipes that she had mastered over decades. “The same heart-breaking situation is replaying with my mother now – she too was a brilliant, passionate cook, but has slowly lost her memory over the last year or so.” The book, she adds, is a documentation of family recipes that come down the generations through word of mouth and “a celebration of the bonds we forge with our mothers and those who cook for us with love”.
The master at work

Raj Kapoor’s Famous Intern Rahul Rawail’s Directorial Memoirs Capture The Showman, 60s Bollywood And, A Lot More

From contemplating a degree in nuclear physics to wielding a megaphone is Rahul Rawail’s initial confession. In his book, Raj Kapoor: The Master at Work  Rawail reveals about his visit to the big top with his school buddy Rishi Kapoor to ogle at Russian circus artistes who were participating in the shoot of Mera Naam Joker directed by the Showman Raj Kapoor.  His family’s Bollywood connection (Father H S Rawail was a famous film maker) lands him an internship for the filming which melds into a coveted assistant’s job with RK. His sojourn with RK begins with the studio’s biggest flop and gets cemented with its hugest hit Bobby worth a lifetime of experience. He gives a ringside view into the making of these blockbusters and this is the most valuable part of the book where he shares intimate nuggets and anecdotes. There are stories about the Showman himself and other larger than life characters like Premnath whose bizarre antics are gleefully related. The legendary gourmet tastes of RK and his love of good food and drink are peppered throughout the book. Ultimately Rawail would go on to direct his own film for RK called Biwi O Biwi before embarking on his solo career which included blockbusters like Love Story, Betaab, Arjun to name a few. Rawail remains an important bridge between the movie moguls of the sixties and the present day.
devdutt patnaik

Controversial Youth Speaker Devdutt Pattanaik’s Live Telecast Cut Out, As Women Cite His Unsociable Media Abuse

Mythologist-author-speaker Devdutt Pattanaik courted controversy, even before he spoke, as invitee of the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports at the Two-Day National Youth Festival virtual conference, Puducherry. This may also have led to his live telecast over Doordarshan being blanked out. Pattanaik’s session was not televised live by DD due to “unforeseen technical issues”, said Kanchan Gupta, senior advisor to the I&B Ministry.  Union Minister Anurag Thakur also faced flak from his own party and women’s pressure groups asking why the mythologist was chosen to inspire youth through his lessons from Bhagavad Gita? Sexist, misogynist and sexual abuses frequently hurled across social media by Pattnaik went viral on social media. The chorus for his removal from the event gained shrill currency even as author and columnist Shefali Vaidya (among several women) tweeted, “The problem with Devdutt Pattnaik is not just that he is a mediocre person, who completely distorts our scriptures without even basic knowledge of Sanskrit. He is an absolute filth who loves abusing people’s mothers. To hail this man as a ‘great mind’ is truly sickening!”. The fallout: of the huge banner of revolt and repulsion was that one of the backroom boys for the event decided on the “unforeseen technical issues” as a better option than facing the further wrath of the scorned women.

Photo : Fotocorp

Katrina-Vicky Royal Wedding Pageant Gets Rs 100-Cr Webcast Offer: The New Normal!

Talk about big fat Indian weddings…the scale and spending on these “events” is humongous, even for everyday vanilla mortals. Imagine the scale, splendour, spending, secrecy, stardust for THE wedding of 2021…yes, Sheela ki Jawani fame Katrina Kaif and Surgical Strike Stud Vicky Kaushal got royally hitched on December 9 at Hotel Six Senses, Fort Berbara, Rajasthan in stunning Sabyasachi outfits. Katrina arrived at the mandap in a traditional red outfit, in a Doli like the Royal families of yore, the coy bride sporting dozens of bangles, and special mehendi (said to be of a unique variety from Tamil Nadu). He in pristine white. A very select gathering of exclusive members from family and friends were present. Believe it or not, the layer of secrecy was actually planned, to keep the festivities top secret exclusive. And now we hear rumours of a killer OTT on the verge of signing a Rs 100 crore deal on the dotted mehendi lines for exclusive streaming rights! Box office showing on this scale…oooh, the streamer and fans are already high on anticipation. This is a new money spinner for our desis, apparently in vogue in Hollywood. Whatever the videsis can do, we can do better…..more colour, extravagance, scale on for 4 days, exotic visuals, song and dance. Katrina and Kaushal surely hit the mother lode with this sweet super star deal.

Photo : Fotocorp

How This Fourth Khan Managed To Create His Own Space In Bollywood

His surname is Khan yet this 51-year old actor has never been bracketed with the other three Bollywood Khans – SRK, Salman and Aamir. But, today this fourth Khan, Saif Ali Khan, is proving to be the most relevant Khan; he has reinvented himself and adapted to the changing times. He’s the first one to experiment with the OTT platform with Sacred Games. Now, other big stars have followed him. Is there a strategy in what he is doing? Yes. This came to the fore after 2000. Playing character Sameer in Dil Chahta Hai and Langda Tyagi in Omkara won him accolades. Since then he has decided not to insist on playing the lead role but to pick up interesting and challenging roles. Son of actress Sharmila Tagore and cricketer Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi, Saif entered the film industry in 1993 with Parampara, followed by Yeh Dillagi and Main Khiladi Tu Anari. Post that, nobody touched him in the nineties. In fact, industry insiders were derogatorily commenting about his looks. His patience paid off when romantic comedy Hum Tum proved to be a game-changer. Today, Saif is being offered roles that are meaty. But his latest movie Bunty Aur Babli 2 bombed at the box office. But, nobody seems to mind. Saif has arrived and he has created his own space.
neena gupta

‘Sach Kahun Toh’ Hides More Than Reveals

‘Been there done that’ could easily have been the title of veteran actress Neena Gupta’s memoir. The story of her tumultuous life, Sach Kahun Toh which begins with her middle-class stereotypical childhood in Delhi in a humble locality. Despite domestic doubts and paternalism and a ‘behenji’ college background she grows up confident and educated. The NSD and the hiccup of an early marriage to the boy next door cannot prevent her packing her bags for Mumbai. A perceived breakthrough role as part of the youngsters in Saath Saath typecasts her but there is also a small part in Gandhi. Khandaan in 1984 is her big arrival on TV, one of those strong woman roles. Gupta who was also cast in art house classics like Jaane Bhi Do Yaron and Mandi details her eventual humiliation and exit from Star Plus with the game show Kamzor Kadi Kaun flopping. Naturally her personal life especially her well-publicized relationship with Vivian Richards do make an appearance as do some other dalliances including an abortive marriage with the son of a prominent classical singer but there are no real revelations. In 2017 she perceives herself as sidelined, almost forgotten and makes a dramatic plea for work on Instagram. In conclusion though, the book despite its candid title, mimics the lyrics of her famous Choli song cameo from Khalnayak… hides more than reveals.

Flashback 1971: India’s Tryst With Historic Wins Under Ajit Wadekar

1971 to most living Indians conjures up the country’s biggest battlefield victory and the creation of Bangladesh. However, if you are of a senior vintage, it’s likely the association will be one of India’s early and epochal sporting triumphs not on the hockey turf. It was indeed nothing short of miraculous when unfancied India beat giants West Indies in their own backyard and followed up by a series victory in England! Such could not have happened without prodigious feats on the field such as Sunil Gavaskar’s astonishing 774 aggregate or Chandrashekhar’s 6 for 38 at The Oval. The story however begins in conflict with the rejection of the Nawab of Pataudi by chairman of selectors Vijay Merchant in favour of Ajit Wadekar by using his casting vote to break a deadlock. The book – 1971: The Beginnings Of Indian Cricket Greatness – details these shenanigans and also how number one keeper Farrokh Engineer was excluded from the West Indies tour. A batting swansong by veteran Dilip Sardesai and the performance of new superstar Gavaskar delivers the series with grace notes from geniuses like Salim Durrani. On the England leg India survives a scare to come back and win at The Oval. Needless to say, in both series the bowling burdens are shared by the fabled spin quartet. The best part of the book are the interviews.
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Storyteller’s Recollections of Some Rude Scents, Rich Cuisines

Once upon a time in a newsroom far away, there was a suave reporter/ editor / food critic. A Rude Life, Vir Sanghvi’s memoir artfully churned out during the enforced paralysis of the pandemic, seems from a distant, different era. From his privileged childhood, boarding school et al to Oxford, it bubbles with stories and character. The anecdotes are like the gourmet confections he critiques: intricate and inviting, definitely not every day fare. The ingredients are delectable but do smack of name-dropping sourced from the old boy network of a bygone era. Clearly, he has met everyone from Yuri Gagarin to Dhirubhai Ambani to Amartya Sen. An easy rapport is established with the PM Rajiv Gandhi. On these coat tails Sanghvi manages to engage the reclusive Amitabh Bachchan and probably presents the most coherent story of his entry and abrupt exit from politics. There are ringside accounts of Bofors or how a senior Congressman who had suffered at the hands of Sanjay Gandhi reacted at the news of the latter’s fatal plunge —Mar gaya saala!  Vir Sanghvi’s journey straddles an important time when TV ‘journalism’ was unobtrusively birthed, and he shares many vignettes of these early days and famous shows which segues into his newer avatar as food maven and writer of books. Though not finished, a life, unlikely to be encountered today.

Anti-Maharashtrian Brahmin Genocide 1948: Need For Recognition, Healing

It has taken a magnum opus on Veer Savarkar to put in print a memory that still lives and torments millions: The memory of the 1948 anti-Maharashtrian Brahmin genocide, a “wilfully erased chapter of history.” While writing for his concluding volume on the freedom fighter – Savarkar (Part 2): A Contested Legacy, 1924-1966 – author Vikram Sampath’s crowdsourcing efforts through social media drew an outpouring of tragic personal tales from survivors and descendants of the 1948 pogrom. The book captures how the carnage started from Bombay and Pune before spreading to Nagpur, Satara, Sangli, Miraj, the Patwardhan States, Belgaum, Kolhapur, where thousands of Brahmins were either massacred or their properties destroyed; and most villages in the state were ethnically cleansed of Brahmins. Thanks to laws like the Press Act, the media was silent on it – as it was on the coverage of the Partition Holocaust against Hindus and Sikhs in the newly created Pakistan, and its Kashmir horrors. Washington Post reported on wave of looting, arson and killings; New York Times said how “the communal riots quickly swept Bombay when news of Mr Gandhi’s death was received (January 30, 1948).” The accounts of DP Mishra, home minister of Central Provinces, point to a systematic pogrom against Brahmins and how no FIRs were lodged. Says Sampath: “The tragedy apart, denying its very occurrence makes it a doubly chilling crime.”

Dalai Lama’s Tibet Dreams Rested On Lal Bahadur Shastri’s Return From Tashkent

It is the mystery of the century. The disappearance of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose and death of Lal Bahadur Shastri. Reams and reams have been written on the subject but still there is no finality. The latest book His Holiness The Fourteenth Dalai Lama: An Illustrated Biography written by Dalai Lama’s trusted companion and aide for over four decades, Tenzin Geyche Tethong, touches on a subject that Indians have been seeking an answer – death of Shastri. The book throws light on Shastri’s equation with the Dalai Lama. According to RSS mouthpiece Organiser, which has exclusive access to this chapter in its latest edition, writes: “On an early day of January 1966, the Dalai Lama received a message from WD Shakabpa, his representative in New Delhi, which carried the news which he has been longing to hear since the day he had entered India in 1959 after his 17-day long daring escape from the guns of Chinese Army in Tibet. Shakabpa informed the Dalai Lama that “the Indian government was prepared to recognize the Tibetan government in exile and that he would receive a definite answer once the Prime Minister (Lal Bahadur Shastri) returned from Tashkent.” Unfortunately, Shastri, according to reports, died of a heart attack in Tashkent. But, this biography published by Roli Books, will once again stir debate about Shastri’s death and the hand behind it.

Udhayanidhi Stalin Wows His Voters By Playing A Real Hero

Actor Udhayanidhi Stalin, new elected DMK MLA, son of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin, is all over his Cheppakkam Thiruvallikeni constituency, a dense demographic mix of Hindus and Muslims, who have lived in amity for long, mostly from the middle- and lower-income groups. Their concerns: navigable roads, uninterrupted power and water, safe neighbourhoods. A TASMAC outlet right in their midst and the fallout of filth and unruly behaviour was one of the first vexing issues brought to him. Overnight, the outlet was sealed. The voters here are on overdrive praising his tireless efforts and can-do attitude of solving civic problems as fast as they are filed. This area is plagued by clogged up drains and overflowing sewage. He has tackled this with huge septic tank vacuum cleaners. Old tenements with broken power meters were on the list of woes. The young MLA has given orders to install new ones. The hawks are just waiting to see him take one wrong step. Udhayanidhi is tunnelling through, unmindful. After all, his grandfather, Kalaignar Karunanidhi, won from Cheppakkam three times, building the DMK cadre. And having played only the hero in his six films, for Udhayanidhi taking on the adversaries is scripted by the mighty party machinery. Reel hero turns real hero for now.

Carnatic vocalist Bombay Jayashri

18 Celebs Auction Six-Yard Saris, Raise Hope For Covid-Hurt Artistes

Covid-19 has turned life topsy-turvy for everybody. For practitioners of classical art especially, the past few Covid-hit months have been excruciatingly painful. With Sabhas in Chennai, the Mecca of Carnatic music, shut and no live concerts, the artists have been caught in a pincer-like situation. On the one hand, their income flow has stopped. On the other, their live connection with the audience, too, has snapped. More than anybody else, the disadvantaged artists are worse off. These tough times call for mutual empathy and sympathy. Well, the pandemic has seen top female artistes in this part of the world coming out to aid fellow-artists who are in distress at the moment. Funds for the folks, and disadvantaged folks, at that! This is an initiative facilitated by Panchavarnam Silks. Eighteen top female artistes from the world of classical music and dance (Aruna Sairam, Bombay Jayashri, Sowmya, Chitra Visweshwaran, Sudharani Raghupathy, Priyadarsini Govind, Nityasree Mahadevan and others) have donated a six-yard sari each to help this cause. The saris were put on auction. The money thus raised will go to support the disadvantaged artistes and their families in these stressed-out times. These aren’t yards of fabric. Well, these 18 have given yards of hope to their fellow-artistes.

L To R : AM Rajagopalan, EK Dhilipkumar, Abhigya Anand and Srirangam Ravi

Astro Take On Covid-19: What Does The Crystal Ball Reveal?

There is a joke in Tamil, “After allopathy, homeopathy, naturopathy, only Tirupathi.” As the pandemic raged, astrologers sprouted like mushrooms in the monsoon on YouTube. Tamil Nadu is particularly addicted to astrology. But where did these futurists go wrong in predicting the course of this scourge from Wave 1 to 2, and now watch out for 3? The 95-year old stalwart of the astro world, AM Rajagopalan, erstwhile editor of Kumudam Jothidam, a popular Tamil weekly, lucidly tells us about the very unusual planetary configurations from December 2019 onwards, when Saturn and Jupiter were impacted by the invisible Rahu. According to this much sought after savant, from September 2021 onwards, Corona’s deadly intensity will diminish. Abhigya Anand from Karnataka made news for accurately foreseeing the conjunction of six powerful planets aligned in a line, portending great danger from a pandemic that would shake the world. EK Dhilipkumar, another popular social media Jothishi has his disclaimer – “Can Doctors cure every malady? We can’t predict the course for every event or calamity.” His logic, Rahu is an invisible planet, the “paapa graham.” He foresees that the pandemic will start self-limiting by mid-2022. Srirangam Ravi also talks about planetary effects of Mars, and mainly Jupiter who starts his movement from June 21, and will give significant relief in September, and a collective sigh of relief by November.

Rewind 2005: Advani and Vajpayee at a rally in Mumbai

How Vajpayee-Advani Jugalbandi Created A Saffron Wave

In Pakistan it is said history begins at midnight 14 August 1947. Vinay Sitapati’s book Jugalbandi: The BJP Before Modi suggests a similar trajectory for the ruling party’s amnesia today for anything that came before; however a long time ago In a polity far away there was Atal Bihari Vajpayee and LK Advani, a world away from today’s ruling jugalbandi. The word itself suggests an equal music but it is rarely so. From distinctly diverse backgrounds: Advani fluent in English, Vajpayee a poet in his native tongue. Organiser and Orator. Unique skill sets that created their own niches in the party. The book dutifully chronicles their early encounters with each other as RSS workers and Advani’s unwitting part in derailing Atalji’s bete noire Balraj Madhok. Vajpayee the first time MP and Advani his dutiful backroom boy to how they matured into a champion duo with one leading and the other happy in a subservient part by turns. Alas while the friendship endures Advani is not a part of Vajpayee’s Camelot which slowly takes shape after his move to Delhi and his reconnecting with Rajkumari Kaul his college sweetheart.  The lady’s influence cannot be discounted; She provides him with conversation, confidence and a convivial environment for his meetings and confabulations. Advani is conspicuously absent from these now dominated by  Brajesh Mishra and Ranjan Bhattacharya, the Kaul’s son in law and husband of Vajpayee’s pet adopted daughter. Advani’s sunset years have been less painless, his standing in the party he nurtured itself in doubt. In the end the epitaph from Amit Shah was “They were afraid to fly the flag of Hindutva fully”.
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The Other Side Of Bhimsen Joshi

“Ganyarache Por” (Singer’s Son) is the Marathi title of Raghavendra Joshi’ s memoir. In English, however, it is presented as “Bhimsen Joshi, My Father,” indicating the book’s essential dilemma. It inhabits an unusual space in that it is neither the usual hagiography of the ‘authorized biography’ nor is it a mere muckrake. The Singer’s Child writes uninhibitedly about his father’s twice-married life in a warts-and-all tale. Though generally affectionate about its subject, it’s accompanied by revelation and detail.  Among the many biographies of the concerned vocalist even the most celebrated – Mohan Nadkarni’s – rarely delves into the personal space. Books like this alluded pussy-footedly to the singer’s dual marital status discreetly, usually creating the impression that after an unhappy prior relationship or even due to the death of his first wife the Pandit remarried. This book tries to undo the airbrushing and is quite candid about the mechanics of the dual household. It is unabashedly a quest for some justice for his late mother and himself for the litany of humiliation heaped on their first family by the second. The book abounds in these; from the singer’s surreptitious flight to Nagpur with his supposed pupil to the often precarious existence of the early years of his semi-abandoned family. It is even a fight for recognition as the father was sometimes ambivalent about their status. The writer is frankly envious and deeply saddened by the discrimination practiced by his father. Unfortunately, Raghavendra passed away in February 2020
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VK Krishna Menon’s Dark Side

Congress leader Jairam Ramesh’s biography of VK Krishna Menon — A Chequered Brilliance: The Many Lives of V.K. Krishna Menon — based on fresh archival material, reveals that the then prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru entrusted Menon with responsibilities such as the post of high commissioner to the UK and defence minister, although Nehru had himself diagnosed Menon as suffering from depression and dark mood swings, as early as 1938. When asked to leave as high commissioner, Menon in a letter acknowledged to Nehru that he took sedatives and hypnotics, but insisted that the barbiturates were not habit-forming. The mercurial Menon, who had strong likes and dislikes, usually created divisions wherever he worked. As defence minister Menon played havoc. He encouraged army chief General PN Thapar to humiliate and charge-sheet two of the most outstanding officers in the Indian Army, General KS Thimayya and General SPP Thorat, who were later exonerated. He instigated his favourite, General BM Kaul, to hold a court of inquiry against Lt General Sam Manekshaw, who was to be later appointed India’s first field marshal. Clearly, even the best of leaders can be fickle-minded – and a disaster.

Benazir Bhutto: Making Money The Pakistani Way

One more book on Pakistan’s first woman prime minister Benazir Bhutto hit the book shelves sometimes back. The Bhutto Dynasty, authored by Owen Bennett-Jones, while tracing the turbulent history of the Bhutto dynasty, also reveals about her views on corruption. “Politicians everywhere, the former prime minister of Pakistan Benazir Bhutto argued, made money. The difference was that while Western politicians did so after they left office, their counterparts in the developing world did not have that option. The U.S. journalist Ron Suskind once put it to her that his high-level sources in the U.S. government had told him that she was making ‘real money’. There was no denial. Rather she said, “Let me explain how it works. In your part of the world Dick Cheney is vice president and then he goes to Haliburton to make his money. In this part of the world, you make your money whilst you are in office. It is not that different.”

Vajpayee Years: An Insider’s Account

Post retirement there is a tendency among most bureaucrats to pen a book of their years in the government job. The latest to join the writers’ hall of fame is Shakti Sinha, an IAS officer who served as private secretary to the late Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. His book Vajpayee: The Years That Changed India provides an insider’s account of Vajpayee days as prime minister.  He says whenever there were any crisis or controversies, Vajpayee never blamed the Opposition. People do not know how difficult it was for him to form a government in 1998 and run it. Vajpayee held the post of the prime minister for three non-consecutive terms in 1996, 1998-99, and from 1999-2004. Despite numerous political difficulties, he took important decisions like going nuclear and, paradoxically, extending a hand of friendship to Pakistan. The book highlights how resolutely Vajpayee defended India when the Kargil war broke out. And yet how his government was denied a second term.
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Azim Premji: Billionaire With A Heart

Sometime in the mid-nineties Wipro’s Azim Premji – the 10th richest Indian with a net worth of $7.2 bn — won the prestigious Business India’s Businessman Of The Year Award. After the award function, he was chatting with Business India’s editorial team and narrating a story about his son Rishad’s persistent demand for a car. “After much persuasion by my son, I finally agreed to let him have a car,” shared Premji. Knowing Premji’s net worth, the editorial staff of the Business India assumed it would be a Merc or Ferrari. Yet, their curiosity got the better of them and one scribe asked, so which car was it. “I sanctioned him an Indica,” said Premji nonchalantly. There was a pin drop silence. But that’s the stuff Premji is made of: Simple Living, High Thinking. The man who has donated over $16 bn for charitable causes is not looking for headlines. He shuns the Press. In fact, his wife Yasmeen who worked for Business India’s sister publication Inside Outside is very much like him – low profile and not-ostentatious. So the new book by two journalists Sundeep Khanna and Varun Sood Azim Premji: The Man Beyond Billions should make for an interesting read. The book brings out his simplicity. He loves chocolates, travels economy class and prefers to take the subway while in New York.  All these qualities indeed make him a cut above the rest.

Confessions Of A CBI Director

Former CBI Director RK Raghavan, who was the chairman of the Special Investigative Team constituted to probe the 2002 Gujarat Riots, revealed that Prime Minister Narendra Modi, then chief minister of Gujarat, kept his cool right through the marathon session of questioning and never parried questions. In his autobiography A Road Well Travelled, Raghavan said: “The SIT’s unequivocal stand on the chief minister’s role was unpalatable to his adversaries in the State and in Delhi. They engineered petitions against me, accusing me of favouring the chief minister. The grapevine had it that they misused central agencies to monitor my telephonic conversations. They were, however, disappointed not to find anything incriminating.” Raghavan’s book sheds light on the gruelling interrogation that Modi was subjected to. “At one point of time, SIT had to question Modi on the various allegations made against the state administration. We had it conveyed to his staff that he had to come in person to the SIT office for this purpose, and that meeting him elsewhere would be misconstrued as a favour. He readily agreed to come to the SIT office within the government complex in Gandhinagar. Modi’s questioning lasted nine hours and he kept his cool right through the marathon session which ended late at night. He never parried questions. Nor did he give the impression of padding up his responses,” the book points out.

Atul Kulkarni: Jumping The Curve, After Happy Journey

Atul Kulkarni, 56, a top Marathi actor, a national award recipient (Chandani Bar) says one should jump off a curve’s peak to restart life from the beginning of another. That’s why he has quit a Trust engaged in promoting quality education, specifically among tribal children. Announcing this on FB, he said he had headed the NGO, Quality Education Support Trust (QUEST) for 14 years since its inception and it was time to jump off. With its action and research oriented pedagogy and training,  QUEST has reached 2.6 lakh students, 9,000 teachers, 5,600 schools and anganwadis  across Maharashtra. After these long years, the moment coincided with his peak in the Trust. It also coincides with the concept of vanaprasta and semi-retirement which meant ceasing to be in a position of authority, especially in public life but implies he wasn’t abandoning being active in life. He would be its “list of friends”.  No word about his acting career, though.

$2.5 Mn: Why Aren’t We Talking About This, Ms Rihanna

Well, that’s the amount for the Tweet that launched a thousand ships against India. For the Delhi cops, this is all a part of the very original Greta Thunberg ‘Tool-Kit’ that earlier sent thousands of tractors rampaging through the Capital on the Republic Day, delivering India its Capitol Hill moment. According to investigative website The Print, international pop star Rihanna was allegedly paid $2.5 million (Rs 18 crore) by a Canada-based Public Relations firm to tweet in support of farm protest. The PR firm’s Tool-Kit for Dummies (leaked by ‘Child’ Greta by mistake) instructs the protestors on a range of goals: how to Disrupt ‘Yoga and Chai’ image of India; Watch out for Physical Actions during the first-of-its-kind Farmer’s March/Parade into Delhi on Jan 26th; and how to create a Twitter Storm. The PR project clearly has all the hallmarks of a well-funded conspiracy – and it’s designed not to stop at the repeal of farm laws. Now after disclosures on Rihanna, Twitter is afire with guesses on what inspires former porn star Mia Khalifa to support farmers. And we are asking: Why the paid tweet didn’t carry the tag of the sponsored or commissioned content?

Arun Shourie: Preparing For Death

His family has been a great votary for euthanasia and both his parents walked the talk. So it is hardly surprising to see the 79-year old Arun Shourie writing his 20th book aptly titled “Preparing For Death”. For many the title of the book may seem morbid and negative. Not so for Arun Shourie who is known to take the bull by the horns. Shourie has shifted his base from the power centre of Delhi to the quiet, idyllic Lavasa near Pune. He has played an interesting innings, donning the hat of the economist, journalist, author and politician. But, over the last three-four years, this Ramon Magsaysay Award winner has become bitter with NDA’s dispensation. He is particularly peeved with the Prime Minister Modi for not giving him a cabinet berth. Post-NDA’s first win in 2014, there were strong rumours that Shourie would become the Finance Minister but that did not happen. Disappointed, he along with other disgruntled party colleagues like Yashwant Sinha and Shatrugan Sinha, went all out against Modi during 2019 elections. But of no avail. The man who once praised Modi sky high reportedly told his media friends that his eternal regret in life is that he supported Modi.

Swara Bhasker: Actor-Activist

If you ever wonder what made a talented actor like Swara Bhasker an activist that may see her lose a promising career in Bollywood then you should read her foreword in the book Inquilab: A Decade Of Protest. This is a collection of articles penned by various activists like Anna Hazare, Kavita Krishnan, Rana Ayub, Nayantara Sehgal, Ramachandra Guha etc. Swara writes that she grew up in defence services gated colony as her father is Commodore C Uday Bhasker, now retired. The colony consisted of three multi-storeyed buildings occupied by the families of officers serving the defence forces. The separate lift and staircase for officers and servants intrigued the 10-year old Swara. Now, segregation based on hierarchy in the armed forces isn’t a new thing. But this discrimination disturbed her? So she asked her father: “Is it not like our own kind of apartheid?” Her father smiled and told her: “Well, if you think it’s wrong you should do something about it.” Encouraged by her father, she did protest and took a signature campaign but of no avail. Like charity begins at home, so too for her, the crusading started at home.

What’s A Smart Phone To A Superman: Big B & Aditya Puri

In today’s tech-driven world life evolves, revolves and devolves around a smart phone. But, this news may come as a shock and surprise to many that this just retired super banker never carried one. Aditya Puri, to whom all the credit goes for building the country’s most valuable bank, seem to be uncomfortable with the electronic leash, as many see it. But, that has not stopped Puri from ensuring that HDFC Bank adopts cutting-edge technology to keep its stakeholders enthralled. Then we have one more superman – a superstar actually – who carries the latest smart phone but never answers it because it is always on the silent mode. This revelation came from Big B’s son Abhishek at The Kapil Sharma Show. He said, “Since dad gets too many calls, he never answers the phone. He asks people to send him an SMS or a WhatsApp text and then he will answer the phone.” Abhishek then laughingly added, “But dad never reads SMS or WhatsApp on time.” He then went on to narrate an incident where his mother after boarding the flight from Kolkata to Mumbai messaged to the family group “Boarded”. On landing she said “Landed”. “Dad saw the message a good 7-8 hours later and messaged mom ‘Have a safe flight’. But she was already home, had her dinner and had gone to sleep,” said Abhishek.


Editor’s Note: Big Punch In Small Pack

It is the Third Anniversary of Short Post and as a news media startup launched during the Covid-19 pandemic it certainly feels better than good to find ourselves where we are today. Here, I must cite the unstinted support of our seasoned contributors, all senior editors in the country, who brought a great degree of maturity and sagacity to the Short Post newsroom. But for them, our tagline “Authentic Gossip”, an Oxymoron, would not have matured viably. Our user numbers may be small but our stories have created the desired impact among people who matter — decision makers and influencers. We offer a big punch in a small pack and Short Post with its 225-word stories has been punching above its weight category. Having posted close to 3,000 stories in the last 36 months, Short Post, I feel, is an idea whose time has come.
And this is vindicated by our two marquee advertisers – IDFC FIRST Bank and ICICI Lombard. Both believed in our story and have supported us from Day one. A big thank you to both.
If you look at the media landscape – print, TV and digital — it is a mixed bag. There are job losses as some outfits have closed down while a lucky few were bailed out by large corporate houses. Yes, there is a lot of action in the digital space. However, the entry of corporate houses has raised the question of independence of news media outfits. Sadly, there are just a handful of independent media outfits in the country that are highly respected for their neutrality. At Short Post, our credo is not to take sides, prejudge issues or be biased but, informing readers of behind-the-scenes happenings. In essence, Short Post strives to be a neutral editorial platform — neither anti-establishment nor pro-establishment.
As I said last year, disruptions in the media world are moving at a fast and furious pace. Technology is playing a very big role in how content is generated and consumed. But, we are neither alarmed nor perturbed as it is all a part of the evolution process. What gives us comfort is that AI is unable to create original gossipy content. And that is the news arena where we have achieved a distinction.