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Vaibhav Gangan’s Review: Aashiqui 2

Aashiqui Shraddha kapoor Aditya Kapoor

There’s typical love story and then there’s Aashiqui 2.

The typical story goes like this. Boy meets and falls in love. Girl likes him. They overcome obstacles. Love triumphs, and they live happily thereafter.

Aashiqui 2 however starts on a sad note. The protagonist Rahul Jaykar (played by Aditya Roy Kapoor) is a rockstar with a career and fame on a decline – duly ruined by alcoholism. Been there, done that, disillusioned. He falls in love with a struggling singer Aarohi Shirke (played by Shraddha Kapoor), who has given up on her dream of making it big.

He takes her under his wings, and makes her a successful singer. In the process, she too falls in love, while his career nose dives.

Aashiqui Shraddha kapoor Aditya Kapoor

Taken to heavy drinking, he becomes a professional and personal wreak. She puts her career at stake to dig him out of addiction.

They reach a point where it would be all or none for both of them. They want to cling together, but that would mean that they both may go down. However, separation is not an option. What do they do?

It’s like a story of a night-insect that is attracted to a light bulb, and pays with his life for that infatuation.

The story isn’t very unique – it’s a mishmash of emotions of jealousy, distrust and misunderstanding, and finally empathy and ultimate sacrifice.

What touches the chord is the honesty of delivery, and refreshing absence of over-acting, unnecessary dramatization of scenes, and sensitization of dialogues.

While the movie could have been a bit pacier, and the direction a bit finer, you still enjoy the sincerity of execution. The audience is driven into the constant conflict of a lover torn between his addiction and his love.

You fall in love with the girl from a modest background, who wants to live her dream, and yet is committed to throw it all away for a man because he believed in her when she had lost her self-belief.

That tug-of-war of emotions hooks you in, and you are kept there by soft music that plays along, like a kayak floating on a tide. The sensual  music (composers Mithoon, Jeet Ganguly and Ankit Tiwari) is a great companion to a story of passion.

Aditya Roy Kapoor, though not outstanding, plays a relatable character. The real charmer is Shakti Kapoor’s daughter, Shraddha Kapoor. Not only does she stand her ground but also makes you fall in low with her. She shows a consistency of character, and while the story finally weighs heavily in favour of Aditya and wins your sympathy, Shraddha wins your heart.

The younger generation, used to faster pace of story-telling and more ‘practical’ approach to relationship, may find it hard to relate to the near-idealised story. Those grown up with older movies will  likely enjoy the journey.

Arijit Singh, a former contestant of music reality show Fame Gukukool, has sung most of the songs, which are memorable and passionate.

All in all, a sincere execution of an ordinary story, which is enacted with conviction by an almost new pair.

Film: Aashiqui 2

Director: Mohit Suri

Cast: Aditya Roy Kapur, Shraddha Kapoor

Shraddha Kapoor Hot bollywood naked

 

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Akshay Kumar is new Gabbar

Akshay Kumar Gabbar

Rawdy Rathore Akshay Kumar will be reportedly wooing Barfi girl Ileana D’Cruz in the new movie Gabbar. Their romance is being conceived by Black-man Sanjay Leela Bhansali.

Expectations will be high from Gabbar following a successful association of Akshay Kumar and Sanjay Leela Bhansali for the Rs 100 crore film – Rowdy Rathore last year.

Akshay Kumar GabbarA remake of the hit Tamil film ‘Ramanaa’ (2002), Gabbar is about India’s most popular subject – fight against corruption, and is being directed by South director Krish (Gamyam and Vedam) who makes his Bollywood debut.

Akshay’s recent success with Special 26 has put the 46-year old actor in a league of versatile stars of Bollywood.

Behind the camera had also become a producer, partnering with Ashvini Yardi for Grazing Goat Pictures, which produced National award-winning OMG: Oh My God.

This year will be critical for Akshay who is already shaping his next cinematic venture, a film with eclectic director Karan Johar, titled ‘Gutka’.

Akshay is also playing the lead in Ekta Kapoor’s new gangster film “Once Upon a Time in Mumbai Again”. He was recently spotted promoting the film at IPL, along with co-actors Sonakshi Sinha and Imran Khan.

The Padmashree-awardee made his Bollywood debut with Saugangh in 1991, but it wasn’t until Khiladi in 1994 that the Delhi actor tasted success on the silver screen.

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Ek Thi Daayan: Good thriller with bad end

Emraan Hashmi

Some stories take you on a journey. When you get on the bus, you know where you are headed. You look forward to reaching here and while you wait to reach, you look around and start taking in the view. You enjoy the ride and as you arrive, you feel refreshed.

Then there are journeys where you set out for something, and the journey is full of entertaining sights and emotional treasures. As you arrive, you realise you have reached an unexpected spot. The journey is a pleasant surprise, the destination a disappointment.

Emraan Hashmi

Daayan is like the latter. The journey brings the movie-going experience alive in every part of the cinema – from performance to photography, lighting, music (Vishal Bhardwaj), screenplay and of course, direction (Kannan Iyer). Overall, good production values.

You sit in the audience and peep into the life of Bobo (Emraan Hashmi) – a magician. You are introduced to his childhood belief that his step-mother (Konkona Sen Sharma) was a witch who killed his younger sister, so as to extend her own life.  As a grown up man, he is haunted by the witch’s last words before he kills her: I will be back.

The flashback shows some pleasant moments of the siblings together and also shows the story from the child’s eyes – the world contradicts from the adult view that ghosts don’t exist.

As you return to the adult world of the protagonist, you are once again confronted by the child’s view about the return of the witch, and the adult view that they don’t exist. While you sit and sink in your seat, your journey culminates in an unexpected end. Almost as if you had taken a wrong turn towards the close of your journey and you find yourself at an unfamiliar location. I will not reveal more and be a spoil-sport.

While you are at it, you appreciate the unorthodox approach followed in music and in story-telling.

As you leave the movie hall, you feel satisfied with the journey, though you would have preferred to have reached elsewhere.

Emraan Hashmi and Kalki Koechlin have done justice to their roles. Konkona (whose father’s book is made into a movie here) is a treat to watch. Huma Qureshi delivers the goods, but her character doesn’t really stay with you after the movie.

The movie is jointly produced by Ekta Kapoor and music director Vishal Bhardwaj. In fact, Vishal has also written the story, screenplay and dialogues.

The move scores high on most aspects of entertainment and lives up to the expectations – almost.

Directed by Kannan Iyer

Produced by Ekta Kapoor, Shobha Kapoor, Vishal Bhardwaj, Rekha Bhardwaj

Written by Mukul Sharma, Vishal Bhardwaj

Starring Emraan Hashmi, Konkona Sen Sharma, Kalki Koechlin, Huma Qureshi

Music by Vishal Bharadwaj

Huma Qureshi Hot

 

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Paulini to become Aussie

Fijian-born singer Paulini is taking up Australian citizenship tomorrow at a special ceremony in Canberra coinciding with Australia’s Harmony Day.

“Australian citizens come from across the globe and my story is no different,” says Paulini. “I moved here from Fiji when I was four-years-old.”

“I am so excited to be taking this step to formally join the Australian family.”

“No matter where you come from, you can contribute something special to what it means to be Australian. We have a diverse, free and inclusive society and this is the one thing I love most about Australia,” she says.

Paulini, australian singer, fijians in australia

Paulini came into limelight when she became one of the top four finalists in Australian idol. She went on to top the Australian ARIA Charts in 2004 with her debut Platinum album “One Determined Heart” and her Platinum smash single “Angel Eyes”, both hitting the No. 1 spot (Angel Eyes remained at the top of the charts for 6 consecutive weeks). She is one of only ten Australian female solo artists to have a #1 album.

“I’m at the happiest point in my life. I’m spending my spare time in the studio writing and creating my own work”.

Paulini will receive her Australian citizenship on the Harmony Day where this year’s theme is: Many Stories – One Australia.

More than 50 people from 21 countries will become citizens at the ceremony, fittingly on a day where Australians celebrate the nation’s diversity.

“The values of inclusiveness, respect and belonging are fundamental to the development of Australia’s successful multicultural framework and these values are at the core of what Harmony Day is about,” a spokesman for Australia’s Department of Immigration and Citizenship says.

Paulini

Since Harmony Day began in 1999, about 50,000 events have been staged across Australia with community groups, schools, churches, local governments and the business community once again coming together to celebrate the cultures that make Australia a great place to live.

Harmony Day is celebrated on March 21 each year, which is also is also the United Nations International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

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Life is too short for negative feelings – Hrithik

Bollywood actor Hrithik Roshan is very optimistic about 2013.

The Bollywood heartthrob opened India’s 2012 box office with the international box office success film Agneepath, which garnered rave reviews from critics and audiences alike and set the precedence and benchmark for 2012.

Hrithik enters 2013 with heightened anticipation for another blockbuster year. He will start the year filming Fox Star Studio’s Indian remake of the Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz starrer Knight and Day with leading lady Katrina Kaif. The year will culminate with the release of his home production, Krrish 3, releasing on Diwali 2013. Hrithik’s profile will soar to greater heights as the 3D film sees Hrithik star as India’s much-loved superhero again.

In a heart-to-heart chat with The Global Indian magazine, Hrithik shares his insecurities and his hopes.

What will you remember the most about the year 2012?

Agneepath!

It’s simply a dream film for any actor. 2012 has been an awesome year. Resuming my role as Krrish was nostalgic and very exciting. To end the year with homage of films at an esteemed festival, the Marrakech Film Festival, was such a humbling experience. All in all 2012 was a high throughout!

Hrithik & Sussanne

So what can your fans expect from you in 2013?

2013 is going to be a busy year. I will be working on various projects and some great films too. We are wrapping up Krrish which releases later this year and then in March I start filming with Katrina for the Indian remake of Knight and Day. I am really looking forward to 2013 as it will be another year packed with lots of excitement, but also a lot of hard work and early morning film shoots!

It must be so difficult to live up to the expectations as the Bollywood icon. Where do you get all this energy from?

My family has been my biggest inspiration – they are my true role models and they continue to be. My parents through to my grandparents have seen and experienced all shades of life, the good, the bad, and always faced any situation God presented to them fearlessly together. We share a unified bond which I also instill in my own little family with my wife and children.

Krrish 1 and 2 have been a huge success and audiences will be eagerly for its third instalment. What is going to be different about Krrish 3?

I think the audiences are going to be in for a treat with Krrish – if you loved the first two films, you will adore this edition. Krrish is our home production and was like coming home. It’s still early to comment fully on latter film – I know the audiences will be in for a fun ride with Katrina and I.

People like Hrithik as a dancer, the dance seems to be missing in his movies these days, is it intentional?

Not at all! However clichéd this sounds, I guess the scripts I’ve currently been working on just haven’t demanded any breakthrough dance sequences. But never say never though!

As a Bollywood megastar, the schedules are very hectic. How do you find time for your family?

I do try and see my family as much as I can as they mean a lot to me. I guess it’s crucial to prioritise time accordingly. It doesn’t matter how much time you spend with your family, it’s never really enough… But coming from a family where filmmaking runs through our veins, we do understand the pressures associated with work thus the understanding between us as family and for our work always helps us to strike that important balance.

Hrithik Courtesy RadoThe youth world over rave about your body, and the young boys are obviously keen to get some health tips on how to get  a six pack, and girls would want to know Hrithik’s diet plan. Would you like to share some weight loss tips?

I work out a lot and have a strict diet and exercise regime that I follow religiously. Being fit isn’t just about being physically strong but also mentally. My fitness workout is a major release for me, in a way it’s my way of chilling out!

Despite being a top actor in Bollywood, you come across as an approachable and friendly person. How do you do that?

Bollywood actor Hrithik RoshanI have always believed in being a good human first and foremost. My parents have brought me up with great morals and values, life is too short to create negative surroundings and feelings. Like they say ‘treat others how you’d like to be treated’.

Finally, this may sound like a cliche question, but if you did not succeed in Bollywood, what else would you be seen doing?

I cannot imagine doing anything else! I know it sounds cheesy, but I love what I do! It really is in my DNA. I have had the opportunity to live multiple lives in one lifetime and through the power of cinema, did my small bit to touch a chord with the world and form a indescribable bond.

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Global Online Discount Coupons You Can Use Anywhere

The Indian Diaspora has a global footprint. With a good background in education, Indians are doing well and one of the countries where they have made a mark for themselves is New Zealand.

How do expat Indians in New Zealand stay in touch with the mother country and learn about what is happening there? Websites dedicated to giving news about India and Indians are the source.

A website like The Global Indian showcases people and events and also has information on holidays and shopping back home in India.

When expat Indians take a vacation, it is often not to any exotic destination but it is a trip back home to refresh ties and take in all that India has to offer. India is a travel destination in its own right and it is not surprising given the diversity of cultures and landscapes. Modern India also offers resorts and a host of refreshing activities like paintball in Delhi, NCR. If the sea charms you, then scuba diving in Goa India should be a part of your planned leisure activities while on a holiday here.

Thrifty as they are, Indians will not hesitate to grab a deal sweetener if it comes their way.

If you are holidaying in India, it does not mean you have to pay high prices for travel, food and leisure activities. Arm yourself with a bunch of discount coupons from your favorite online discount voucher website.

Since the website partners with leading leisure activities establishments across India, you can simply redeem the coupons for discounts that can go as high as 70 percent when you spend a day at a resort in Delhi. You can do lots and lots and yet stay within budgets since discounts reduce your expenses and let you spend on more activities.

Online discount coupon codes can also save time you spend searching for the most likely spots to enjoy yourself. Log on to the website and navigate to the city of your choice and there it is: a complete list of partner establishments offering a host of entertaining activities, food, beauty treatments and shopping at discounted prices to coupon holders. People may be surprised at your seeming extravagance but do not let on that you are using discount coupons if you want
to keep them impressed!

Does it make sense to buy coupons to get discounts? It does, especially if you grab deals of the day where you have maximum discounts. Even regular discounts cover your cost and save you a lot. Additionally, recommend a friend and you get another Rs. 100 for each person who goes for the discount coupons. Global discount coupons are growing in popularity and you can buy one before you set out from New Zealand for native India for sunshine and fun.

Naturally you will enjoy your stay with friends and family and that is where discount coupons come in handy, saving you a lot of money or letting you do more for the same amount. With so many online discount coupon websites, it makes sense to select a website that has international operations and a strong base in India.

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Fiji gets ready to celebrate Diwali

Fiji Diwali festival nadi

Fiji is offering a cultural experience as it is set to celebrate the annual Indian Diwali Festival of Lights from 19 October  to 12 November this year at RB Patel Jetpoint Martintar in Nadi.

A highlight of the Festival will be the ornate light and candle decorations, Indian sweets and snacks and homes that are open to family and friends for a time of rejoicing.

Fiji Diwali festival nadi

Nearly 38% of Fiji population is of Indian descent. Since the first Indians arrived in Fiji in 1879, the Indian community has kept alive the spirit of their homeland with festivals and traditions.

The festival will put up agricultural shows, entertainment, shopping and amusement rides on Friday 9 November from 6.30pm and from 7pm on Saturday 10 November.

On Sunday 11 November, visitors can enjoy TISI Sangam Performances/Nadi Nari Sabha from 10am – 2pm, followed by an agriculture show and amusement rides, and then Sanatan Dharam Indian Night.

The final night of the festival will include a brilliant closing ceremony, fireworks display and live band from 7pm to 11.30pm.

Diwali is the festival of the attainment of nirvana by Mahariva, one of the great heroes of the Indian culture, back in 537BC. Celebrated by Sikhs, Hindus and Jains, the festival is celebrated over a five-day period according to the lunisolar Hindu calendar.

Each day features a celebration of one of the principal stories associated with the festival which tell a story of the triumph of various Indian deities over demons and the revelation of a new leader for the kingdom.

(Image courtesy: Pacific Destinationz)
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Volunteers sweat out for Auckland Diwali festival

Nearly 120 volunteers applied to help Auckland celebrate Diwali this year; just 39 were selected. The oldest is 60 years old, the youngest only 16. Some of these volunteers will lend their experience gained from their volunteering work last year at the one of the world’s largest sporting events – the Rugby World Cup.

Auckland set to turn into little India – Auckland’s Diwali festival is just over a week away.  The programme starts at 12 noon on Saturday 13 October and concludes with a fireworks display on Sunday night at 9.15pm.

Illuminated strawberries, tamarillos, grapes, blood oranges and pomegranate, traditional halva and pistachios – that’s just one innovative dish on the menu as restaurants rise to the challenge of creating a unique vegetarian dish to celebrate Auckland Diwali Festival.

Clooney, Vinnies and Wine Chambers are among 15 restaurants taking part in Diwali Taste on a Plate food challenge and all participating restaurants will feature the Diwali Taste on a Plate dishes until 13 November.

Another highlight is the Diwali Delights programme at AUT’s Manukau Campus which is free and includes a Photographic Exhibition entitled Rivers of Colour, by leading Dunedin photographer John Cosgrove.

Also, a 15-member Gujarati dance group Rangashree joins the international line up to perform on the Aotea Stage at the Diwali Festival.

Established in 1998, the Rangashree School of Fine Arts is a Public Charitable Trust based in Ahmedabad, Gujarat to promote Indian art and culture while maintaining the spirit of India’s dance traditions.

At the same time, real estate agents Barfoot & Thompson are challenging Auckland residents to decorate their house Diwali style in celebration of this year’s two day event. Barfoot & Thompson CEO Peter Thompson will be part of the festival judging panel.

“This competition is a way for people to embrace the Diwali Festival celebrations, have some fun decorating their homes with the chance to win a prize for it. We’re proud to continue to be supporting this great event” says Peter.

Teams from many organisations have come together to make this festival bigger and diverse than earlier years.  Eric Ngan is one of the event producers who has been living and breathing the 2012 Festival since he and his team began planning in April this year.

Festivals are really complex projects, says Eric. “Your aim is to align and energise multiple work streams, artforms, logistics, stakeholders, departments, organisations, stallholders, sponsors and performers, all together on the same day to create an exciting event for the public.”

Auckland Diwali Festival Programme

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2 Indians join NZ Film Review Body

Internal Affairs Minister Chris Tremain has appointed two Kiwi Indians to the Film and Labelling Review Body. Veer Khar and Parmjeet Parmar are two of the eight people appointed to the culturally diverse body.

“I am pleased to announce that Denise Ewe, Veer Khar, Pefi Kingi, Joseph Liava’a, David Lui, Shana Malio, George Ngatai and Parmjeet Parmar will join the current Community Representatives to help ensure that the interests of the general public are taken into account in the labelling of films,” says  Chris.

“Community Representatives come from a range of backgrounds and ages. Together they offer a depth of understanding of New Zealand perspectives, ways of life and beliefs, which contribute to the appropriate labelling of films available for reviewing by New Zealanders.”

The Labelling Body issues labels to all films supplied to the public and rates unrestricted films. Community representatives do not sit as a board but assist the Labelling Body, as required, in carrying out day-to-day activities of rating and issuing labels for films, videos and DVDs.

Community Representatives’ appointment terms are on-going but reviewed at least once every three years.

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India Independence Day celebrations in Auckland

India Independence Day Parade

Unity in diversity will be the theme of Auckland’s celebrations of India Independence Day this year.

Organised by Bhartiya Samaj Charitable Trust, the 66th India Independence Day will showcase the cultural diversity of the country of 1.3 billion people.

The largest democracy in the world gained its independence from the United Kingdom on 15 August 1947. Unlike many former British colonies, including Australia and New Zealand, India does not have the British Queen as its sovereign head of state.

India Independence Day is celebrated with zest and colour by NRIs around the world, and the India Independence Day Parade in New York and Chicago attract attention and glamour from Bollywood.

India Independence Day is an occasion to rejoice the achievement of freedom to a new dawn in the life of India, says Jeet Suchdev chairperson of the trust.

India Independence Day Parade

“We dedicate this prized moment in the honour of those brave countrymen who have sacrificed their lives to give all Indians an opportunity to breathe in this air of freedom.”

The celebrations, being hosted at the ASB Theatre on 12 August, will begin with a ceremonial hoisting of the Indian national flag at the Aotea Square followed by cultural performances by many community groups from Auckland.

“The cultural performances not only include the diverse performances from India but also by community groups representing other neighbouring countries of India,” says Jeet.

When: Sunday 12 August 2012  10:30 AM – flag hoisting, 11:30 AM – 3:00 PM – cultural performances

Where: ASB Theatre, Aotea Centre, 50 Mayoral Drive, Auckland Central

Entry: Free

ABOUT INDIA INDEPENDENCE DAY

India gained its independence after nearly 150 years of freedom struggle, which was mostly fought by non-violent and civil disobedience means, under the Indian National Congress, which is now the longest ruling party of the country.

In his independence day speech, India’s first prime minister, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru famously said, “Long years ago we made a tryst with destiny, and now the time comes when we shall redeem our pledge, not wholly or in full measure, but very substantially.

“At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom. A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new, when an age ends, and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance. It is fitting that at this solemn moment we take the pledge of dedication to the service of India and her people and to the still larger cause of humanity.” That commitment from the independence day speech is still being sought by subsequent leaders.

Unfortunately, the day of India’s independence is shared with the day India was partitioned to form an independent Muslim state – Pakistan.

The partition created two nations—Dominion of India (later Republic of India) and Dominion of Pakistan (later Islamic Republic of Pakistan). India’s non-violent freedom struggle culminated with violent and brutal communal riots following its independence.

A national holiday in India, the independence day is celebrated with a spectacular parade at the Red Fort, which is broadcast live on the national television. The day is celebrated with patriotic songs played at communal flag hoisting ceremonies in schools  and social groups. Patriotic movies are shown on many television channels. The reality-based TV shows feature patriotic themes celebrating India’s independence day.

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Riteish sings in Marathi for Kyaa Super Kool

Download Bollywood Hindi songs

Bollywood star Riteish Deshmukh probably believes that he’s already proved his acting excellence. He’s taken to singing – that too in his first language – Marathi.

The latest Bollywood entertainer Kyaa Super Kool Hain Hum launches Riteish as a singer as well as lyricist in the “UP Bihar Lootne” track.

The popular Hindi song features Sukhwinder Singh and Daler Mehndi for the first time together, thanks to Balaji Films.

Download Bollywood Hindi songs

Riteish wanted portions of the song,  ‘Dilwalon Ke Dil Ka Karar Lootne’ originally from the movie Shool (picturised on Shilpa Shetty), to contain some Marathi lyrics.

Riteish then sat down with composers Meet Brothers Anjjan to not only sing but also to write the lyrics.

Say Meet Bros Anjjan, “He was a little shy first but then we convinced him to sing and make his debut with us.” What resulted was a second version of the song, translated completely in Marathi by Ritesh and an accompanying YouTube video which Ritesh stars and sings in.

The film, a follow up to the super hit, Kyaa Kool Hai Hum, is due for release on 27 July and also features Tusshar Kapoor – brother of Ekta Kapoor who owns Balaji Films.

Tusshar is an aspiring actor and Ritesh a struggling DJ, who succumb to a twisted turn of events resulting in a lively, suspenseful and incredibly humorous story, set to the singular music of the trio.

Getting the songs together was not easy, considering producer Ekta Kapoor’s attention to detail. Say Meet Bros Anjjan, “She’s a very a tough person to sell to, but she sifted through the 60-70 songs we played for her and included some of her favorites in the film.”

They credit her with the success of “Kyaa Super Kool Hain Hum” due to the high standards she exercises on all her work. The film included the songs “Teri Shirt da Button“, “Hum Toh Hain Cappacino” and “Volume High“, which have been quickly ascending in the music charts.

Meet Bros Anjjan have made compositions for films such as “Do Dooni Chaar” and Rajshri Production’s “Isi Life Mein” for which they were presented with the Stardust award for “Best Standout Performance by Music Director”.  They have also scored for Akshay Kumar’s “Speedy Singh”, and “Paan Singh Tomar”.

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Aftab to lead Chicago India Day Parade

Move over politicians! Bollywood seems to take over almost every public platform where Indians throng, and the latest addition is India’s forthcoming independence day parade. The platform is Chicago.

Bollywood actor Aftab Shivdasani will lead the India Day Parade on 18 Aug, in celebration of 66 years of India’s independence.

In a bid to attract NRIs living in Chicago, the event organisers,  the Federation of Indian Associations (FIA) of Chicago, invite a celebrity each year, mostly from Bollywood.

The parade, which displays Indian culture, will be led by  Aftab down Devon Avenue, the epicenter of “Little India,” in the North-west suburb of Chicago, says a statement from the organisers.

The parade moves through more than 10 blocks and is usually attended by thousands of curious onlookers.

“I am proudly looking forward to leading the parade in Chicago,” says Aftab.  “Nothing is more satisfying than celebrating India’s Independence Day in America with Indian Americans.”

Ajai Aghinotri, FIA Chicago president and trustee Iftekhar Sharif worked to arrange Aftab’s participation.

“Aftab is a great performer and a very humble celebrity,” says Ajai.

Aftab has played a role in 40 Bollywood films and is currently working on the sequel of the hit movie “Masti.” The sequel, titled “Grand Masti,” brings back the blockbuster original cast: Aftab Shivdasani, Vivek Oberoi and Ritesh Deshmukh.

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Rajesh Khanna no more

“I hate tears,” he may have said if he could see the mourners outside his house. The dialogue from the Bollywood film Amar Prem will remain immortal while the mortal behind it has progressed to his heavenly abode.

Rajesh Khanna had been battling health issues since April this year. He passed away after a prolonged fight with cancer.

“The word superstar was coined after him,” says Amitabh Bachchan, who succeeded the title after Rajesh Khanna.

Super star Rajesh Khanna entertained movie lovers over 40 years, with more than 160 movies. I remember talking to an Asian man from Hong Kong in New Zealand, who fondly spoke about Rajesh Khanna and even recited “mere sapno ki raani” for me.

Born Jatin Khanna on 29 December 1942, the superstar left his family in Punjab and came to follow his Bollywood dream in Mumbai, despite his family’s resistance.

Fondly known as Kaka, Rajesh Khanna adopted his on-screen name of “Rajesh” at the insistence of his uncle. While he made his debut with Chetan Anand’s Aakhri Khat (1966), it wasn’t until Raaz a year later was released that a star was born.

Since that movie, there was no looking back as the actor delivered numerous commercially successful and critically acclaimed Bollywood movies between 1969 and 1972.

Legendary singer Kishore Kumar lent his voice to Rajesh Khanna who mesmerised the audience for a decade. The jury is still out whether Kishore Kumar played a major role in Rajesh’s success or the actor helped the singer’s career. From Zindagi Kaisi hai paheli, to Zindagi Ka Safar, his songs glamorised the humour with a dark underside of sadness.

He became the heartthrob for an entire generation growing up in the 1970s. “From an 8-year old to a 40-year old, there were so many women who would give an arm and a leg to get one glimpse of the superstar,” says his co-actor Shabana Azmi.

“I have seen old women embrace him with tears in their eyes and young girls actually swoon in his presence. Hysterical and manic.”

Legend has it that he was Bollywood’s first actor that was given Police protection.

“I remember,” says director Shekhar Kapur. “It was called ‘Rajesh Khanna Hysteria’. This was not just stardom.It was hope.”

But he broke many hearts when he announced his marriage to debutante actor Dimple Kapadia, whose first movie Bobby (1973) was about to release. Rajesh and Dimple had two daughters, Twinkle and Rinky, before separating nine years later.

Read: Amitabh Bachchan’s blog about Rajesh Khanna

The superstar was later romantically linked to another upcoming actor, Tina Munim, who kept seeing Rajesh until she left Bollywood to pursue higher studies. Tina Munim later married Mukesh Ambani, one of India’s richest industrialists.

The romantic hero was involved with fashion designer Anju Mahendru during his early years in Bollywood, for almost seven years, before the Dimple-era.

The winner of three Filmfare best actor awards did not win the hearts of many with his soft picturisation of a young man, ever doomed by a tragedy, from not winning the love of his life in one movie (Safar), to not winning the battle for life (Anand).

It was his ability to smile in the face of such adversities that his fans could relate directly to, which resulted in unprecedented adulation.

But it wasn’t just movies that he portrayed the sad undertone. While accepting the Lifetime Achievement Award at IIFA awards in 2009, he said, “Yeah bhi ek daur hai, woh bhi ek daur tha!” (This is a time, as it was back then!). The superstar was probably not living well through a life that lacked the limelight he was so used to.

He lived through the same sad undertone.

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New Zealander finalist at Miss Pakistan World title

Miss Pakistan World title Maria Mughal

A Pakistan-born and New Zealand-bred girl is taking part in Miss Pakistan World contest next month. This will be the first time New Zealand will be represented at the controversial beauty pageant which is now in its 10th year. Over the years, the participants and organisers of Miss Pakistan World have attracted death threats.

Maria Mughal, an AUT Business School student, will fly to Toronto in Canada to participate in the pageant, which has never been held in Pakistan since its launch. The winner of the title will represent Pakistan in Miss Earth contest.

Like most girls her age, you will generally hear her talking about “the latest gadgets, and Korean pop and fashion trends,” as she puts it, but probe a little deeper, and you will come across a determined young woman not willing to limit her horizons by her complex upbringing.

Miss Pakistan World title Maria Mughal

Born in Kashmir in Pakistan, the 23-year old came to New Zealand with her parents when she was three years old, and struggled to find a balance between her Pakistan and New Zealand values – something that she felt a strong desire to disprove.

“Overcoming this polarity has made me the humble person that I am today,” says the South Auckland-raised girl, in an interview to The Global Indian magazine.

“The scars of my upbringing (are serving as) a reminder of what I would want to change if I had the power to do so.

“I’d like to show that I have found a balance between my Pakistani background and my western life.”

The pageant means “a new start in my life as a confident person”.

“I found it hard mentally, as a young person, to take upon the stress of my family issues,” says Maria.

“I found support within counselling services at school, to persevere through tough times and finish school.

Maria wants to support causes that help young women like her, that have difficult family backgrounds and would not get an equal chance to push for their dreams.

She has found value in discovering her roots.

“I have chosen to continue to learn about my heritage and still speak my mother tongue at home.”

She can read Arabic, and speak a mix of Hindi, Urdu and Punjabi.

“I feel that if you don’t know where you come from, you won’t know who you are; it’s all about finding my identity.”

Maria is very close to her siblings – she is the eldest girl and has seven siblings. She takes her elderly role seriously. “I am constantly pushing them to dream big.”

Initially pursuing a bachelor of science, majoring in sports and exercise science and psychology, she took a break from study and worked in the fitness industry which gave her an opportunity to try her hands at marketing.

“With work experience behind me I changed to a business degree, and I am aiming to be back in the workforce early next year.”

If she won the title, she desires to promote Shakti Asian Women’s Support Group.

“They work with women to teach them what their rights (are), advocate for them and provide support when there is no one.”

Rachel Field, Maria’s friend, wants Maria’s story to show how “New Zealand’s multiculturalism has supported her to be proud of who she is and where she is from. That she would not have been able to do as much as she has in New Zealand as compared to growing up in Pakistan.”

Earlier in 2010, the winner of the pageant, Annie Rupani, known as “Ramadan Queen,” as she was crowned in the month of Ramadan, and the organisers of the event attracted extensive media coverage on the backdrop of massive floods in Pakistan that year.

The winner of Miss Pakistan World title  joined her father at the Rupani Foundation to create jobs, promote equity, and reduce poverty in the Northern Areas of Pakistan, particularly for women.

Annie came under criticism a year later for her vocal support of Veena Malik, a Pakistani actress who participated in an Indian Television show, Bigg Boss (an Indian version of reality show Big Brother).

In the early years of the pageant, fanatic groups and conservative people were against the beauty parade.

The idea of a beauty queen for Pakistan and a female representation of Pakistan was not well digested by the extremists, says Sonia Ahmad, the organiser of Miss Pakistan World title, who has received many threats over these years.

“From hate mail to threats over the phone, and long emails where Islam was explained to us, various forms and methods were used to make us stop. But I went head strong with all of them!” says Sonia in an interview to The Global Indian.

The beauty contest is funded by moderate Pakistanis and the South Asian community. Sonia hopes to use the pageant to showcase the lighter side of Pakistan.

“Pakistan needs to change and to do so, the people have to accept Miss Pakistan World as the only platform where Pakistani women can be patriotic, bold and strong!”

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Gangs of Wasseypur take on Teri Meri Kahaani

The Friday will see two Bollywood movies clashing for box office collection – Teri Meri Kahaani and Gangs of Wasseypur.

While Kunal Kapoor arranged a major premier for his Teri Meri Kahaani in London where it is expected to receive strong reception among big NRI population in the UK, Anurag Kashyap is comparatively low key the promotions of Gangs of Wasseypur.

Kunal flew his actors to London for the movie’s premier in Dubai last night. British Indian singer Navin Kundra hosted the movie’s press conference organised by Atif Malik, where lead actors Shahid Kapoor and Priyanka Chopra recited dialogues from the movie.

While Priyanka Chopra’s earlier big budged movies of 2012, Don 2 and Agneepath recked in Rs 100 crore (US$22 million), the actor is cautious about making any promises with Teri Meri Kahaani.

“It doesn’t mean that only a film that makes Rs 100 crore is a hit. We just hope people like our film and the numbers will follow.”

Her co-actor Shahid Kapoor however is more optimistic and doesn’t think that Gangs of Wasseypur will have any major impact on Teri Meri Kahaani.

“There’s enough place for two films. Our films are very different.

This is the first time that Shahid and Priyanka will share the screen space since ‘Kaminey’.

“People really liked us in ‘Kaminey’ even though we had just eight scenes together and here we have 70 scenes,” says Shahid.

Produced by Sunil Lulla, Vicky Bahri and Kunal Kohli, Teri Meri Kahaani is a romantic drama directed by Kunal Kohli. The movie is described as “thrice upon a love story”, since the plot is set in three eras – 1910, 1960, and 2012.

In each of these eras, the lead actors play different characters. While the love stories of 1910 and 1960 remain incomplete, it is the love story of 2012 that keeps the audience wondering whether the story is headed towards a happy end.

We will not spoil the fun by revealing the climax, but we will leave you with the thought that the movie takes you on a wonderful journey of emotions, locations, cultures and eras, accompanied by mesmerising music.

In contrast, Gangs of Wasseypur is a violence-oriented story set in a north Indian village called Dhanbad.

The rain of bullets pour in the movie almost from the first scene of the movie and continues throughout the movie, interspersed with sexual scenes that double up to provide comic relief.

While the story of the movie is a tried-and-tested revenge drama of the nineties, it is the strong screenplay and its unique interpretation by director Anurag Kashyap that takes the movie to a different level.

Film: Teri Meri Kahaani (Teri Meri Kahani)

Director: Kunal Kohli

Producer: Kunal Kohli, Vicky Bahri and Sunil Lulla

Cast: Shahid Kapoor, Priyanka Chopra, Prachi Desai, Neha Sharma

Film: Gangs of Wasseypur I (GOW I)

Director: Anurag Kashyap

Cast: Tigmanshu Dhulia, Piyush Mishra, Richa Chadda, Manoj Bajpayee, Reemma Sen

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New Zealand Tamils raise funds for poor children in India

New Zealand’s Wellington Mutamizh Sangam (WMS) raised $2500 as part of its celebration of Tamil New Year ‘Nandhana’ on Saturday 9 June 2012 at the Indian Cultural Centre in the capital. The year Nandhana -‘that which bestows joy’ – returns after a cycle of 60 years. The celebration, titled ‘Happy Family –Strong Family’, raised funds for Karunai Illam Trust (KIT), a New Zealand charity that works for the underprivileged children in South India. The trust was founded by Jean Watson, a Wellington-based author, 25 years ago.

Radhika, a student of Natraj School of Dance, performing at the Tamil New Year celebrations in Wellington in New Zealand

The celebration was attended by 250 people including those from Families Commission and the Office of Ethnic Affairs. “Last year’s celebration was in in collaboration with Natraj School of Dance, which raised $3000 for NZ Red Cross to help them establish the Wellington Region Emergency Management Team,” says Balaji Venkatachalam, treasurer of WMS and the event coordinator.

Jean Watson started the Karunai Illam Trust “in a shed with a few children in a rural area called Nilakottai” (in Tamil Nadu) in India during one of her many travels. Now the Illam has expanded with a growing number of children on the waiting list.

Auckland based MP Kanwaljit Bakshi pledged his support for the trust and its founder Jean Watson.

A White Ribbon Ambassador from The Families Commission, Gregory Fortuin, applauded the Tamil migrant communities for not leaving their cultural heritage and the value of Ahimsa – non-violence at the customs’ gate. He applauded the diversity of nations reflected in the audience such as Indian, Malaysian, Sri Lankan, South African, Fijian and the sharing of similar values.

The Chief Guest for the evening, Minister Peter Dunne, supported the celebration theme- ‘Happy Family Strong Family’ and reiterated that the family as an institution has a pivotal role in the community and families should find time to gather around the dining table.

Selva Ramasami, president of WMS, noted that WMS strongly believe in the power of collaboration both with other community organisations and agencies to promote social cohesion and understanding in Wellington and beyond.

It was a brilliant celebration with all three tenets of the Tamil way in evidence at the hall in Petone, say Joy McDowall and Caroline McGrath from The Office of Ethnic Affairs. “Not only were traditional songs and dances performed but also Kollywood influenced updated acts were part of the fun.

Two young women, Saranya and Deepa acted as ‘Masters’ of ceremonies and had the audience roaring with laughter as they used witty banter when introducing each act. Delicious traditional food completed the hospitality. It is great to think such fun raised so much money.”

WMS is a non-political organisation founded in 2009 with an aim to promote connection within communities in the wider Wellington Region whose cultural backgrounds are built on the three pillars of Tamil: Language, Music and Drama.

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Delhi slumdwellers’ story features in Paris

Most common form of migration is moving to another country. Migration within a country is less talked about, but throws more questions. A documentary that looks at the issues of internal migration has been selected to feature in the the European Independent Film Festival that begins in Paris next week.

‘Dilli’ is one of the two Indian films to feature in the festival among a selection of 101 films from 33 countries on from 30 March to 1 April.

Produced by Rintu Thomas and Sushmit Ghosh, Dilli attempts to reveal the issues of slum dwellers in India’s capital city. It is a moving collection of interviews with Delhi slum dwellers, says Sarah, a festival organiser.

“Its lens focuses on a group of dwellers, bringing to life the untold story of mass exodus of thousands who were bulldozed from their homes and transferred to a makeshift facade – Bawana without water, shelter or drainage, while the city was being beautified for Commonwealth Games 2010.”

New Delhi based Thomas and Ghosh have produced documentaries that have explored issues of gender and sexuality, HIV AIDS, human rights and climate change. These multiple award-winning films have been screened in film festivals across six continents and are also being used as advocacy and resource mobilization tools by governments, development sector organizations and educational institutions.

Recently, their film on climate change was selected from a global call of films to be screened sat the United Nations Climate Change Conference held in Cancún, Mexico.

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Another Indian short-film that has made to the careful selection of the festival is ‘Mon Armie Noire’, directed by Omar Iyer.
“The film traces the life of an unnamed female protagonist who is molested as teenager by a man she trusts and has known for a while,” says the festival organiser.

“The incident has a deep psychological effect on her behaviour and she cannot find a way to deal with what has happened to her. So she creates her own system of justice and punishes those hungry, deprived men that she thinks don’t deserve the precious gift of life.”

While Bollywood takes much of limelight in the movie-hungry India, it is these independent film-makers that are often seen attempting to trail down the dark path of some of India’s open secrets.

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Indian classical music comes to New Zealand

New Zealanders are in for a treat of an extravagenza of Indian classical music this summer.

Tulu (left) and Prasanta Bhanja

Returning to New Zealand by popular demand is Prasanta Bhanja, a classical musician performing on sitar in Rotorua. He will be joined by his wife, Tulu Bhanja,  on tamboura in what is going to be a memorable night at Linton Park Community Centre, 16 Kamahi Place, Pukehangi, Rotorua at 4.30pm on 29 January.

The performance will succeed a brief presentation about Indian classical music.

And if your thrust for India’s oldest form of music is not satiated, then there’s a unique performance of sitar, violin and tabla in Auckland.

Pandit Chaudhuri is a recipient of Padma Bhushan, India’s third highest coveted civilian award,  and has composed many popular  symphonies, created eight new ragas, wrote three books and won many national and international honours. He has performed in concerts and lectured on Indian music in 130 countries around the world. This is his first tour in New Zealand.

Come March and Auckland will host Pandit Debu Chaudhuri, who is regarded as India’s foremost Sitar maestro, in a programme aptly titled Sur Anjali on Saturday 24 March, at 7.00pm at Great Hall, Auckland Town Hall.

He is joined by Dr Chintamani Rath, is a scholar violinist of rare ability. He is an expert practitioner of both Indian and Western classical music and has performed in many countries.The maestros will be supported by Pandit Anup Ghosh, one of India’s popular tabla performers. This is a Charity Fundraiser for Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust (ARHT). For tickets, call THE EDGE call centre on 09 357 3355 or 0800 BUY TICKETS (0800 289 842).

 

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Players deliver a win

Of course I am not talking about the Indian cricket players’ performance in Australia. This is about Bollywood players’ mega-movie, Players, which opened to full house in Auckland.

Almost half of the movie is shot in Auckland and Wellington, which could be a factor of attraction for big audience numbers in Auckland; the first show on Friday was probably attended by the movie’s local crew in New Zealand.

While it is usual for Bollywood crowd to cheer at the first appearance of their favourite actor, Players got the Auckland audience clapping for the appearance of their favourite New Zealand city and the iconic Sky Tower.

To be sure, the story and screenplay, inspired by Gary Gray’s Hollywood blockbuster, The Italian Job, had audiences at the edge of their seats throughout the movie, except during the song sequences.

Directed by Abbas-Mastan, the brother duo known for dramatic movies like Baazigar, Race and China Town, the latest thriller features the racy story of a team of ‘players’ who successfully carry out an international robbery of gold moving on a train,  only to fall apart as a group. What follows is a plot of love, betrayal and standing for a good cause, interspersed with situational comedy.

The movie does well in most departments of film-making except music, which leaves a lot to be desired.

 

Star-kids Abhishek Bachchan and Sonam Kapoor don’t share the same chemistry they did in their previous movie Delhi 6. However, that doesn’t stop this drama-driven script from captivating the audience for the most part.

Pleasant surprise is debutante Sikandar Kher, son of Anupam Kher and Kiron Kher, who leaves a strong mark, despite being in a relatively short role and being surrounded by senior actors like Bobby Deol, Bipasha Basu and legendary Vinod Khanna.

Bipasha Basu lives up to her reputation of dusky Bengali beauty with envious body, strong screen presence and tantalising dance performance. Neil Nitin Mukesh does a convincing job of a Bollywood bad boy.

The movie was also shot in Russia and Goa, but it is the New Zealand segment that attracted the most attention of the audience.

While more than 120 crew were flown to New Zealand from India, a large number of local Kiwi talent got an opportunity to share the screen with Bollywood’s big wigs. Almost 500 Kiwi crew spent more than a month on the sets of the movie that saw about NZ$4 million spent locally.

New Zealand is not new to Sonam Kapoor who shot I Hate Luv Stories here last year, and attracted 150 million views worldwide, promoting New Zealand to a large global audience.

New Zealand attracts only 30,000 tourists from India and Tourism New Zealand hopes to grow those numbers by supporting Bollywood movies shot here.

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NRIs get ready for Lohri and Makar Sankranti

Aucklanders are getting ready to fly kites to celebrate Lohri and Makar Sankranti and make a colourful beginning to the New Year.

Continuing its annual tradition since 2005, Vaishanv Parivar NZ Inc. has organised an Indian Kite festival.

More than 5000 people are expected to gather at Avondale Racecourse in Auckland on 7 January for the free event. Indian kites, thread, Indian Food and cold drinks will be sold at the venue, says an event organiser.

“Live DJ Music by DJ Gabroo and dance performance on stage will be an added attraction.”

Free face painting for kids, and colouring and drawing competitions will make this a perfect family day out.

Kite flying marks the traditional festivals of Makar Sankranti and Lohri for Indians living worldwide.

Auckland's Yogiji's Food Mart is displaying a colourful array of kites to mark Lohri and Makar Sankranti

On the occasion of Makar Sankranti, Sun enters into Capricorn (winter solstice) and is believed that on this day Surya visited Shani, Lord Vishnu destroyed Asuras, and the Ganges was brought down to earth. It is also considered as the start of an auspicious phase and represents purification of soul.

This major harvest festival includes ceremonial dips in the Ganges, Ganga Sagar, and other holy streams; visiting temples; helping the poor; praying to Surya and other deities; kite flying; decorating the cattle; congregation of families; lighting of bonfire; and rangoli drawing. This is considered first of the big bathing days.

Traditional savories served on the occasion include boondi-mithai, chhena pudding, chikkis, dahi-chuda, gul-polis, halwa, kheer, khichri, murukku, payasam, til-gul laddu, til-paati, vadai and yellu-bella.

This year, Makar Sankranti falls on 14 January.

While Makar Sankranti is papular in western and southern India, Lohri is celebrated in the northern states of India. After the sunset on Lohri day, families gather around bonfire eating rewri, gachchak and moongphali, sharing stories, and singing and dancing on dholki beat. During the day, children visit neighbors singing folk songs and are presented with goodies. Dinner usually includes sarson-da-saag and makki-di-roti with a liberal serving of makkhan.

Lohri is a celebration of a good harvest on the eve of the winter solstice based on the belief that the Lohri night is the longest night of the year. The festival is said to have received its name from Loi, wife of Saint Kabir. Another school of thought suggests that ‘Lohri’ has been originated from the word ‘loh’, an iron pan used for preparing food.

The Lohri festival is marked by a range of traditional exciting activities such as lighting the ritualistic bonfire during the evening, dancing on the beats of the dhol, traditional handmade dishes, singing popular folklore around the bonfire and enjoying sumptuous feast.

The folklores is also an integral part of Lohri which is all about expressing gratitude to the good harvest season and the natural elements such as water, wind and fire. On this day, people remember Dulha Bhatti – a famous legendary hero who helped the poor by robbing the rich, by singing folklores.

Lohri is being celebrated on 13 January 2012.