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Archive for the ‘Cultural’ Category

Commonwealth Games 2010 saw a grand opening in Delhi a couple of hours ago. All the controversy that surrounded it was kept aside as people witnessed most spectacular show ever.

Here is a link to the spectacular live performance of  the CWG Theme song by AR RAHMAN-

And here’s a link to video of the opening ceremony-

For those of you who are outside India, you can watch live web stream here-

* India – Doordarshan, DD Sports
* Australia – Network Ten, Foxtel
* Fiji – Mai TV
* Canada – CBC, CBC Bold
* Cyprus – Cyprus Broadcasting Corporation
* Namibia – Namibia Broadcasting Corporation
* New Zealand – Sky Network Television and Prime (New Zealand TV channel)
* Nigeria – Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria
* Malaysia – Astro
* Seychelles – Seychelles Broadcasting Corporation
* Singapore – MediaCorp Channel 5
* South Africa – South Africa Broadcasting Corporation
* Tanzania – Tanzania Broadcasting Corporation
* United Kingdom – British Broadcasting Corporation
* United States – Video Sound Inc.

Here’s to next 13 days of rigorous games, fun, and party!


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Mont Blanc's $23000 Mahatma Gandhi Pen

Mont Blanc's $24,763 Mahatma Gandhi Pen on Gandhi Jayanti

Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday celebration has reduced to  mere efforts to monetize . Mont Blanc has launched 241 limited edition 18k gold plated $24,763/ each  pens. The pen is engraved with Gandhi’s image and tricked out with a saffron-colored mandarin garnet on the clip and a rhodium-plated nib. A billboard put up this week over Mumbai’s teeming slums shows a gaunt Gandhi next to an image of the swanky pen, with golden threads woven around it to represent Gandhi’s spinning wheel. This one is oozing with irony! Gandhi who lived and preached life of minimalism, his name, today, is being used as a sales gimmick for the opulent and  could-not-care-less types. Mont Blanc got it all wrong.

Traffic moves past a billboard displaying a portrait of Mohandas Gandhi, the ascetic father of India's independence, besides an image of a Montblanc pen in India.

Traffic moves past a billboard displaying a portrait of Mohandas Gandhi, the ascetic father of India's independence, besides an image of a Montblanc pen in India.

gandhi09

Internet search giant Google paid tribute to Mahatma Gandhi on Friday on the 140th anniversary of his birth, replacing the ‘G’ in its colorful logo with a picture of the Indian independence hero.  Nice gesture.

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Mohanddas Gandhi Quotes: IPhone App

Mohandas Gandhi Quotes: IPhone App

Well, Mahatma Gandhi now has an Iphone app of his own.

Get all your favorite Mohandas Gandhi quotes all in one place. Pay homage to Gandhi’s intuition with the Mohandas Gandhi Quotes application.

Every time you want to take a peek at one of Gandhi’s quotes, just shake your cell phone or tap the screen with two fingers. This app also gives you a chance to favorite the ones you like.

Just wondering, if only Mahatma Gandhi knew of this viral technology, would he have said more or different.

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AR Rahman- Oscars 2008

AR Rahman- Oscars 2009

A R Rahman, now know as Mozart Of Madras,  picks up three Oscars  for his work in Danny Boyle’s Oscar winning Slumdog Millionaire. Rahman is the third Indian to win an Oscar, after costume designer Bhanu Athaiya for her work in Gandhi in 1983 and director Satyajit Ray in 1992.

“I just want to thank again the whole crew of Slumdog Millionaire, especially Danny Boyle, for giving me such a great opportunity,” he said, while accepting the award.

Slumdog Millionaire took the best-picture Academy Award and seven other Oscars today, including director for Danny Boyle, whose ghetto-to-glory story paralleled the film’s unlikely rise to Hollywood’s summit. It was a big winner at the Golden Globe Awards. It won film of the year and two other awards at the Richard Attenborough Film Awards, voted on by British critics. The movie has British director, producer, writer and studio. Nevertheless India has claimed it as its own perhaps because of the cast, crew, and location.

Here is the script of the film Slumdog Millionaire.

However the film has not been much loved in India. Not only did the film failed to capture the imaginations of Indian film goers; it’s also been dogged by controversy over its name and the treatment of its child stars. Some have called it poverty-porn.

Residents of a Mumbai slum show their displeasure over the name of the hit film Slumdog Millionaire in a protest outside the office the film's co-star, Anil Kapoor.

Residents of a Mumbai slum show their displeasure over the name of the hit film Slumdog Millionaire in a protest outside the office the film's co-star, Anil Kapoor.

“If ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ projects India as Third World dirty underbelly developing nation and causes pain and disgust among nationalists and patriots, let it be known that a murky underbelly exists and thrives even in the most developed nations,” leading actor Amitabh Bachchan said in a posting on his blog  from Paris, France. “Its just that the ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ idea authored by an Indian and conceived and cinematically put together by a westerner, gets creative global recognition,” he added.”The commercial escapist world of Indian cinema had vociferously battled for years, on the attention paid and the adulation given to the legendary Satyajit Ray… and not a word of appreciation for the entertaining mass-oriented box office blockbusters that were being churned out from Mumbai. “Ray portrayed reality. While, the other – escapism, fantasy and incredulous posturing. Unimpressive for Cannes and Berlin and Venice (film festivals),” he explained.

Smile Pinky; Best Documentary Short Subject

Smile Pinky: Best Documentary Short Subject

While Slumdog Millionaire won eight  Oscars, it’s not the only film shot in India that was nominated and won. A 40-minute documentary about an eight-year-old girl Pinky Sonkar from Mirzapur in Uttar Pradesh, Smile Pinky by American filmmaker Magan Mylan has also been nominated for Best Documentary.

Pinky had stopped smiling, even stopped going to school because she was ashamed of her cleft lip, a deformity 35,000 children are born with in India every year. Then this year, The Smile Train arrived in Pinky’s village and her world changed forever. The story was captured by American filmmaker Magan Mylan for the world in a film he called Smile Pinky. While Pinky was getting ready getting her passport and visa ready to walk on the red carpet, she did not know why. Pinky’s mother could not watch the Oscar ceremony since she does not have access to television set.

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Kite-flying enthusiasts have gathered from around the world for the 19th International Kite festival in Ahmedabad. More than 163 kite-flying enthusiasts from 36 countries will compete in the five-day long festival which starts today. Each and every kite is unique in color, designs, and size. Some are more than 50 feet in diameter.

Click on the Image for More

Click on the Image for More

Kites has a very ancient kite tradition. Most people believe that kites were brought into India by Chinese travelers F Hien and Huin Tsang. Patang or guddi as it is more commonly known, are made of tissue paper, and bamboo. And almost all Indian kites have a very similar shape and that is of a diamond tissue paper with a center spine and a single bow intersecting the spine.


Kites are a part of everyday life in India. The anxiety and the energy that runs over many a rooftops during pench larana or kite fighting evokes immense nostalgia. The tradition is passed onto kids from their elder brother or father or cousins. or they will pick up the tricks of the trade while assisting their seniors by holding the charkhi or the roll on which glass coated thread or manjha is wound, and keeping the line free of tangles. If you are a good assistant, you would grow up to be a good kite fighter!

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Satyajit Ray at 5

Satyajit Ray at 5

This was published in India Today in January 1979. The text of the article in India Today :

Bright Ray

As a child, Satyajit Ray, the world famous filmmaker, never once thought that he would make films. He grew up in his ancestral mansion in Calcutta, drawing and painting. He would doodle the long summer afternoons away hoping that his attempted portraits and cartoons would appear in his family’s famous children’s magazine Sandesh. As a Brahmin, his family regarded the cinema and theater as frivolities.

His first boyhood wonder was his father’s printing press. He remembers having been lifted up to look through the ground-glass view finder of the tall halftone camera. He often visited Shantiniketan where he played with Rabindranath Tagore’s grand-daughter.

He has fond memories of the florist’s shop in New Market and stately horse-drawn carriages giving way to automobiles. As a child, all he wanted when he grew up was to be a painter.

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It is a Rs 22 crore movie. Expectations were high for other reasons. One, it was Aditya Chopra’s comeback after eight years of Mohabattein and thirteen years of Dilwale Dulhaniya Lejayenge . Well, that does not come as a surprise. After giving a hit like (DDLJ), one is virtually competing against oneself! Not sure if there is a follow up formula to the ‘love’ formula.

Two, it is a Shahrukh Khan movie. He did have sole responsibility in holding the storyline. In fact it is two Sharukh Khan movies in ONE.

Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi Released Today.

Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi Released Today.

Set in Amritsar around the Golden Temple, Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi, touches everything that is normal, everything that is way of life in ordinary people’s lives, nothing that you do not know or have not seen in your everyday lives. In fact at times it feels that it has been shot close to home.

The movie starts off on a very old and beaten road- groom does not show up, father finds the first possible match for his daughter from the crowd assembled for the ‘other’ wedding. There starts the one sided love affair, the life of a mismatched couple Surinder Sahni (Shahrukh Khan) and Taani (Anushka Sharma).

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Through his lens he communicates with space; light, texture and color are his friends. Together they create unique compositions and art that will seduce you. Sanjay Nanda captures the realities as well as absurdities of life in time and space through his lens which have taken the form of stunning pieces of art on many a walls.

From Varanasi Collection (Click on the Image for More)

Often times he treads out into the urbanscape and captures  the moments from everyday life which go unnoticed but are unique to their surroundings and strangely elegant.

Sanjay captures the moment while life and color are at play!

Still Life (Click on Image for More)

Sanjay shoots a variety of subjects. He looks for scenes that he can compose in a thought provoking way and colour combinations that somehow stir him without attempting to edit the work or discriminate when in the field. When he gets back to his studio, he sorts through his images, and then chooses the ones that have a staying power for him. He is not interested in merely reproducing a particular scene or image photographically; he is more interested in collecting the raw visual materials that allow him to explore the inherent dynamics and tensions of the picture plane.

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Mahatma Gandhi rarely spoke in English. He would address crowds in Hindi, Gujarati and even other Indian languages but never in English. There have been only two instances when he addressed people in English.

A rare recording of his speech in English made 7-8 months before his assassination has been found in Washington DC. This speech was made to a conference of Asian leaders convened by Jawaharlal Nehru.

Hear it.

Journalist Alfred Wagg recorded the speech in New Delhi on April 2, 1947 and produced four 78-rpm LPs that included both Gandhi’s voice as well as Wagg’s own commentary about the man revered as Father of the Indian Nation.

It had been lovingly preserved for 60 years by John Cosgrove, a former president of the National Press Club in the US capital, who discovered the significance of the recording during a chance encounter with Rajmohan Gandhi, Mahatma’s grandson and biographer.

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Antilla as seen in artists sketchTo everyone’s surprise, price tagged at $ 2 Billion, Antilla (named after the mythical island) is in India and is World’s First Billion Dollar Home. Indeed, like its name, it houses stuff that surrounds myth!

Owner is India’s richest, Mukesh Ambani of Reliance fame whose net worth was 43 Billion in March of this year and was the 5th richest in the world.

The only remotely comparable high-rise property currently on the market is the 70 million dollar triplex penthouse at the Pierre Hotel in New York, designed to resemble a French chateau, and climbing 525 feet in the air.

When the Ambani residence is finished in January, completing four years of design and construction, it will be 27 story and 550 feet high (height which normally houses 60 floors) with 400,000 square feet of interior space. Click on the picture to see the video.

However, all of this has not been without its share of controversies. Antilla is being built on land sold to Ambanis’ to be used as orphanage by Waqf Board.The land measuring 11793 sq yards was sold in 2004 by the trust for a charitable purpose of looking after the destitutes and orphan children belonging to the Khoja Mohammedan community. The land was given to the Maharashtra State Board of Waqf by Jivagi Raje Scindia in 1957. The MoU was signed with four companies namely Antillia Commercials, Saphire Realtors, Rockline Constructions and Baun Foundation trust.Balroom at Antilla

The Waqf Board has told the Supreme Court that it sold the property thinking it was to be used for an orphanage and that commercial buildings are not allowed on Waqf land. Property having a market value of Rs 400 crore was sold only for Rs 21.05 cr to M/s Antillia Commercial, a company of Reliance group of Industries. Rs 16 crores were also paid to Waqf Board for No Objection Certificate.

The Supreme Court on Friday decided not to intervene in the construction of the building on Waqf board land in Mumbai and has directed the matter back to the Bombay high court.

Critics have also said that showing off such extravagant wealth in a country rife with poverty is insensitive and ethically questionable. This is excessive and ostentatious given that more than 65 percent of Mumbai’s 18 million residents live in tenements.

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NS Harsha is a gifted story teller who captures everyday life from India as seen through the lens of news and world events on his canvas through the medium of paints and color.

NS Harsha\'s \'The School Within\'

Miniature art form is not unknown in India. In fact, it has been used through the ages to depict life from courts of kings to humble settings of huts or villages. However, Harsha has picked up this technique to bring to the world his observations of Indian society which at times are whimsical and at times absurd, or even tragic or significant on the world scene.NS Harsha\'s Mass Marriage

Perhaps painting is just a medium to express the philosopher and the thinker in him. Perhaps brush is Harsha’s tool in an attempt to bring a social change, and awareness and curiosity that surrounds humanity.

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Arunadhati Roy\'s \'The Shape Of The Beast\'Eleven years after she won the Booker Prize for The God of Small Things, 14 conversations (2001-2008 ) with Roy on her social and political activism appear in a new book The Shape of the Beast.

Even before The God of Small Things hit the world of fame, this female Rushdie of India attracted lot of media attention when she criticised Shekhar Kapur’s film Bandit Queen, based on the life of Phoolan Devi, charging Kapur with exploiting Devi and misrepresenting both her life and its meaning. For sometime Roy was involved as film script writer as well. She even tried her hands at acting in films. Not many remember but Arundhati Roy played a village girl in the award-winning movie Massey Sahib.

(Click on the Image for a Video of an Interview with Arundhati Roy on The Shape of the Beast).

The Shape of the Beast finds Roy fulminating against the 2002 Godhra genocide, empathising with the adivasis of Dantewada in Chhattisgarh and venting against the military operations in Nagaland, Kashmir and Manipur.Through this book Roy has revealed both a personal and social journey.

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Mahatma Gandhi never got an opportunity to visit USA and carry out a Peace Walk on its streets. But now he will.

Mahatma Gandhi has influenced leaders and people of America as much he did every where else. He kept special contact with people in USA through his letters to them. Gandhi was aware of his fan following amongst Americans. As he admitted in one of his letters to President Roosevelt in August of 1942-

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Richest man of the world in 1940s.Nizam of Hyderabad, is Fifth on Forbes ‘All Time Wealthiest’ list of 2008 with Net Worth: 210.8 Billion USD. Bill Gates is twentieth, Net Worth: 101.0 Billion USD. This is a list of historical figures who lived during the Industrial age, Information Age, Middle Ages, Ancient world and is solely based on net worth accumulated by inheritance or personal earnings. The estimated net worth of these people is calculated into inflation-adjusted 2007 dollars, from when historical figures were at the peak of their net worth

Last Nizam of Princely State of Hyderabad and Berar, Fath Jang Nawab Mir Osman Ali Khan Asaf Jah VII, was The Richest Man in the 1940s, having a fortune estimated at $2 billion. He ruled Hyderabad between 1911 and 1948 until it was made part of India as a result of Operation Polo launched by the Indian Government.

Nizam of Hyderabad even featured on the cover of TIME magazine. While rulers of other big states like Kashmir, Jodhpur Bikaner, Indore, and Bhopal were given the title of “His Excellency” (H.E.), the Nizam of Hyderabad alone had the title of “His Exalted Highness” (H.E.H.)

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