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Priyanka Chopra is proud of Indian judiciary on 2012 Delhi gangrape case verdict

Mumbai: Priyanka Chopra has penned an emotionally touching note after the Supreme Court confirmed the death sentences of all four convicts in the 2012 Delhi gang-rape case. The Indian actress says she is “proud” of the justice system.

Priyanka on Friday shared a note, where she said that she refuses to accept the brutality of such heinous crimes.

“Yes, it has taken five long years, but today justice finally prevailed. The flame of this verdict should singe not just the dastardly four (of the other two, one is dead and one accused is a juvenile) but such perpetrators in India as well,” Priyanka wrote.

“‘The brutal, barbaric and demonical conducts of the convicts shook the conscience of humanity and they don’t deserve leniency’ — said the Supreme Court while reading out the death sentence to the four accused in the Nirbhaya rape cum murder case. “I’m so proud of the justice system for hearing her voice.. in her dying declaration she appealed that her perpetrators not be spared,” she added.

priyanka chopra

The 34-year-old actress said that it was “justice” that the entire country demanded

“Each voice that joined the battle was strident and clear – the six must be punished. Finally, they will pay. The brutality of such crimes is something I refuse to accept,” she said.

The former beauty queen also voiced her concerns over the fact that even in 21st century, how can a society allow such heinous crimes taking place against women and expressed that it “never ceases to trouble” her.

“Unfortunately, the past can never be undone. So, we move on and make a promise to ourselves. That when an entire country is unified in wanting something, action is taken. This awakening, this unified voice to stop such brutal and demonical crimes, as our Supreme Court said, is what we must never let go onto mute mode,

The Ghazi Attack: The Indian war film has changed, even if the enemy has stayed the same

The war film is a genre with obvious attractions since it allows for spectacle, action and suspense, and Sankalp Reddy’s bilingual film The Ghazi Attack (Telugu and Hindi) must be counted among the few Indian war films to harness these advantages to the full.

The war film is nominally a historical genre but few national cinemas have been able to turn the merciless gaze of history upon their own nations’ doings/experiences in war. Indian cinema is no exception and the war film in India has, generally speaking, only been an occasion for patriotic fervour; the wars with Pakistan have been especially pictured since India accredited itself well in them.

But the Indian war film dealing with Pakistan has gone through several avatars — although the historical circumstances examined remain the same — and this is due to war patriotism meaning different things at different times. The Ghazi Attack for instance, is notably different from JP Dutta’s Border (1997), which must still count as the best Indian war film hitherto.

JP Dutta's Border

The first Indian film to deal with war against Pakistan was Manoj Kumar’s Upkar (1967) although war only took up part of the film. Upkar came two years after the 1965 war and allegorised the relationship between India and Pakistan as that between two brothers, the younger one (played by Prem Chopra) significantly wanting partitioning of the ancestral land. Upkar had a long and convoluted story which included other elements — like agriculture and the progressive farmer, and the conflict between the farmer and the trader. Only Russian war films — like Mikhail Kalatozov’s The Cranes are Flying (1957) — habitually bring in family drama alongside the battles but I interpret this as an acknowledgement that war affects everyone — even those not fighting at the front.

American World War II films like Steven Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan (1998), by sticking only to combat, also suggest that war is too far away for the average citizen, that the experiences of fighting men are not emotionally shared at home. This distant view could hardly have been held during WWII but, with the US increasingly involved in wars with no participation from its citizens, warfare has become of consequence only for a few.

It would seem that the war film faded from Indian screens after the 1960s though Dev Anand’s Prem Pujari (1970) made a half-hearted attempt to revive it in 1970. The resounding victory in 1971 left virtually no mark and this can be attributed to Pakistan having been so weakened by it that it ceased to be threatening to India for over two decades for its activities to ruffle the feathers of Indian patriots. But by the 1990s, Pakistan had regained much of its lost strength and became a threat once again. But fervent patriotism in cinema was also made possible in 1990s by an indirect development. This was the economic liberalisation and the end of Nehruvian socialism in 1991, which ended the representation of social conflict in Hindi cinema. If films like Hum Aaapke Hain Koun…! (1994) denied conflict altogether by placing all classes, castes and religions within a mythical, harmonious ‘Ramrajya’, other films like 1942: A Love Story (1994) and Border responded by pushing conflict to the boundaries — i.e. with external foes. Where Vidhu Vindod Chopra turned the British into primary adversaries, JP Dutta did the same with Pakistan.

Kay Kay Menon and Rana Daggubati in The Ghazi Attack

Border was made in the same format as traditionally adopted by Hindi cinema, i.e. as family drama, and this contrasted with some of its action sequences — like the killing of spies near the border — being more cinematic than anything witnessed in Hindi popular cinema.  The epic structure of the film — using the families of the soldiers as well as both the army and the air force to enlarge its canvas — was also in keeping with Hindi cinema of the times, still engaged in the project of helping an undifferentiated Indian public imagine a unified nation in which different social segments played their parts. The fact that The Ghazi Attack abandons this format has been seen as an achievement by reviewers, but what this means politically is worth investigating.

The first thing about The Ghazi Attack that one notices is its conspicuous use of the English language. The extensive use of English in Hindi cinema can be traced to the segmentation of audiences in the new millennium by the multiplex revolution — when admission differentials increased considerably. It became viable for Hindi films to confine their address to Anglophone Indians, whose spending power had also increased due to the new economy boom. Many Hindi films which use English conspicuously, and may be taken to largely address Anglophone audiences, are ‘patriotic’ — like Rang De Basanti (2006) — but their attitudes cast doubt on the inclusivity of the Nation they are imagining, on whether their patriotism is directed towards an undifferentiated India – or one dominated by the upwardly mobile classes. RDB’s antipathy towards politicians is, for instance, the attitude of a middle-class which has a small use for electoral politics, since it hardly has a say in the outcome of elections.

The Ghazi Attack is about an incident just before the 1971 war when the Pakistani submarine Ghazi was prowling in the Bay of Bengal with the intention of sinking the INS Vikranth, India’s only aircraft carrier, which might have tilted the military balance since it was expected to present an obstacle to the Pakistani navy in the country’s efforts to quell the rebellion in East Pakistan. In actual fact, the PNS Ghazi was destroyed mysteriously – either from the mines it was laying or by an Indian frigate – but the film fictionalises the episode by having an Indian submarine S21 track the better-equipped Ghazi down against all odds and destroy it. Kay Kay Mennon plays Captain Ranvijay Singh while Rana Daggubati the officer who takes over when the captain is killed. The film is tightly made and technically proficient. Rarely have Indian films generated so much suspense and excitement. My interest in the film is, however, elsewhere.

War films are normally adventure films and The Ghazi Attack is no exception. But what is ultimately a problem is that, rather than be content with this, it emphasises its patriotic side by having demonstrations of fervour from its protagonists, the most obvious scene being the sailors singing ‘Saare Jahan Se Accha…’ and  the National Anthem before they destroy the PNS Ghazi.

This brings us to a contentious issue in the present day around the singing of the National Anthem. Traditionally, the National Anthem was sung to remind us of the Independent Nation in the midst of our everyday preoccupations since it was instituted by our founding fathers. It was natural that it should be sung only at chosen moments (like a flag hosting) and the understanding was that Indians would, while singing it, be reminded that they were part of an inclusive national community. Singing the National Anthem was not a demonstration of patriotism – perhaps not needed since we were Indians as a matter of fact – but a reminder that we were together. If this view is allowed, the National Anthem sung by the sailors on S21 emerges as people remindingthemselves that they are part of a national community, i.e. that their act is in itself not ‘for the nation’ — when the fact that they are risking much to attack an enemy vessel should have been reminder enough that they are acting for it. Military men in combat perhaps do not need to be reminded of the Nation just as a fish does not need to be reminded of water.

Where Upkar and Border, by extending their canvases to epic proportions, implied that every citizen is wittingly or unwittingly involved in the Nation at war, The Ghazi Attack deliberately confines its scope to military men. This, I suggest, should be regarded as a significant development by Indians. In order to see its true implications, one should compare it to sports patriotism (as in Dangal). In the sports film one sees the sportsperson only from a distance, i.e. one knows that one can never truly be affected, personally, by the sportsperson’s success or failure. When The Ghazi Attack follows the same strategy the question is whether it is not placing war at the same distance from the audience as sport. Is it not implying that war (to the audience) is as distant as sport and not something which might actually affect them?

Given the nature of their appeal it can be argued that both Dangal and The Ghazi Attack target/address the same Anglophone segment as their primary constituency. Both films are patriotic and demonstrate their patriotism through fervent singing of the National Anthem at moments of victory. Apart from standing at attention at the commencement of any film, the singing of the National Anthem, when it is made part of the fiction has the audience standing up again, and this response is sought by both Dangal and The Ghazi Attack when the Anthem is deliberately sung (in its entirety) in their narratives. In The Ghazi Attack the National Anthem is sung once and played by an orchestra the second time and it may be anticipated that audiences will stand up three times in all. The Supreme Court has made only the first time mandatory but with anthem-vigilantes at large, one must be prudent if one wishes to get home without injury.

To conclude, it would appear from today’s patriotic cinema that we are beset by a deeply paradoxical situation. On the one hand, we (of the  educated classes) have little faith in the inclusive Nation in which everyone plays a part and have replaced it with an Anglophone nation, which claims, falsely, to include everyone. Secondly, we are not confident of the durability of the imagined Nation since we wish to be reminded of it as frequently as possible through the singing of the National Anthem. The central irony is perhaps that it is when the national spirit is weakest and least inclusive that we are most strident in our demand for nationalist fervour.

Kung Fu Yoga: Why Indian film industry can’t forget Jackie Chan-starrer in a hurry

Early reports indicate Kung Fu Yoga is not doing well commercially, in spite of Jackie Chan’s popularity. A newspaper article states that just 14 viewers watched the film on its release day (3 February) in a Mumbai multiplex. According to a film industry representative, it is expected to do better in south India than the rest of the country. However, its overall performance is unlikely to be impressive. The impact of Kung Fu Yoga on India’s film trade is going to be limited. At worst, the importer and his distributors stand to lose money. Small change, for an industry that routinely fails to recover production costs from the box office. Nevertheless, Kung Fu Yoga is not a film which the Indian film industry can afford to forget in a hurry. Because it was a part of an ambitious — and potentially game changing — plan by the Chinese and Indian governments.

Jackie Chan and Sonu Sood in 'Kung Fu Yoga'

The film has been panned by Indian critics too. Kung Fu Yoga’s failure on critical and commercial fronts in India is a pointer to a larger problem that Indian and Chinese film industries face all the time. Ironically, this film was meant to address the very problem that it now stands as the latest example of. A majority of Indian and Chinese films earn their revenues from viewers who are of Indian or Chinese origin, as the case may be. Both industries struggle to realise value from markets beyond the overseas markets where there is a significant presence of expatriates. Of course, we need to expand our understanding of the expat to include the South Asian diaspora and “Three Chinas” (Mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong) plus Singapore, with reference to Indian and Chinese cinemas respectively.

Kung Fu Yoga’s poor showing in India is not for the want for effort. Apparently, Aamir Khan and Katrina Kaif were approached, but were unavailable. As a result, the final lineup of Indian actors, which includes Sonu Sood, Disha Patani and Amyra Dastur, is not exactly stellar. Undaunted, Jackie Chan charmed his Indian fans and local media representatives alike during his much publicised promotional tour in the run up to the film’s release. I do not wish to go into why it didn’t work — several reviewers have done that already. Instead, I would like to draw attention to two points. First, the film worked for Chinese audiences and critics alike. Second, this is a failed Indo-Chinese co-production.

Kung Fu Yoga earned US $ 138.8 million (around Rs 940 crore) at the box office in China alone during the first week of its release. That is double the estimated cost of the film. Notably, the film’s takings are already way higher than the worldwide collections of India’s most successful film, Dangal. More importantly, it reminds us of the size of the Chinese market and the drawing power of Jackie Chan.

Released during the Chinese New Year (CNY) weekend, which usually witnesses the highest footfalls in theatres during the entire year, Kung Fu Yoga emerged as the second highest grosser of the season, after Journey to the West. The success of this year’s CNY releases is said to have cheered up the Chinese film industry, which had a dull year in 2016. Incidentally, Journey to the West is directed by Tsui Hark and produced by Stephen Chow (of Kung Fu Hustle fame), both of whom are Hong Kong industry stalwarts.

China’s quota system ensures that access of foreign companies to its enormous film market is severely restricted. At present, only two Indian films can be released in China annually, according to the website China Film Insider. This number is unlikely to increase in a hurry. In 2016 the quota for foreign films, a bulk of which are Hollywood productions, stood at 34. The only other way Indian production companies can enter this market is by making co-production deals with Chinese companies. Everyone in the film business knows this but, as always, the devil is in the detail: whom to work with, with what stories, and so on.

Watch: Deepika Padukone, Indian sportswomen feature in inspiring #JustDoIt campaign

Deepika Padukone stars in an inspiring new video with Indian female athletes for a Nike campaign. Taking off from the brand’s tag line: “Just Do It”, the video sees Deepika training hard in the gym and on the badminton court as other athletes  like hockey player Rani Rampal, footballer Jyoti Ann Burrett and cricketers Harmanpreet Kaur, Smriti Mandana and Shubhlakshmi Sharma are also visualised pulling off their jaw-dropping feats.

Deepika in a still from the Nike #JustDoIt campaign video. Screengrab from Facebook

Sharing the video on her Facebook page, Deepika accompanied it with a post on how sports has helped her through difficult phases in her life:

“When I was growing up my father said to me, ‘To be the best, always remember the three D’s — Discipline, Dedication and Determination. Follow your heart. Do what you are passionate about.’ Sport has taught me how to handle failure. It has also taught me how to handle success. It has kept me grounded. It has taught me humility,” Deepika wrote on Facebook.

She also referred to her (now commonly known) battle with depression, and her efforts to overcome it.

“Two years ago I struggled with depression,” wrote Deepika. “I was sinking. I almost gave up. But it was the athlete in me that gave me the strength to fight and never ever give up!”

She goes on to exhort everyone to open their eyes to the power of sport, and its ability to make a positive impact on individual lives, and society.

“I want to say to every girl and every boy and every woman and every man…play a sport…because it changed my life…and it will change yours too! Sport has taught me how to survive! It has taught me how to fight! It has made me unstoppable!” Deepika added, before signing off with “‪#‎JustDoIt”.

The video by Deepika for Nike comes in the run-up to the 2016 Olympics at Rio, and is sure to generate even greater support for the Indian contingent as they head for the Games. It had 895,286 views within just seven hours of being uploaded by Deepika.

Why I admire Kangana Ranaut: She’s an example of new Indian womanhood

She is a three times National Award winner after all and she is not even 30 as yet. But I wouldn’t know. Fed on a diet of Satyajit Ray and Rittwik Ghatak from our childhood we were taught to sneer at Bollywood very early on. And Kangana Ranaut’s mega box-office triumphs with such cringe-worthy names as Tanu Weds Manu are, from all accounts, brazen money-making missions achieving their goal hand over fist.

Kangana Ranaut. Image from IBNlive

Yet, I am her fan, a zealous, devoted fan at that. For what she stands for in her person rather than what she enacts on screen. As was revealed in her spell-binding double act on television on 3 May, the day she was awarded her third National Award. I was glued to the idiot box all through, enthralled till the very last minute of her two interviews on two channels. She looked stunning of course and being the actress she is, making her presence felt must be second nature to her. But it was what she said that was so exhilarating, so electrifying.

Admittedly, told not very well. Without scripted lines, her words didn’t quite flow, without someone hollering “cut” she didn’t know when to stop. She kept repeating herself, going on and on saying the same thing in the same words over and over again. Yet, nothing could detract from the substance of what she said, so prettily, with such ease and with such quiet confidence.

To be able to declare so openly, knowing that the interviews were being beamed straight into people’s living rooms and bedrooms across the country, that there is “Nothing gross about our period blood, Why do we need to tell women that period blood is gross?”; to talk so freely about “bodily fluids” of men and women; to admit publicly about being “sexually active” without a hair or hide of a husband in sight; to be so unapologetic about her many flings (“It’s very hard for me to find any sort of shame or blame in my life); to dismiss the name-calling she’s been subjected to (‘whore’ and ‘witch’ being the more innocent ones) as “very old-fashioned, it won’t work” — who was this woman, Kangana or Madonna?

Precisely. If it was Madonna and Shakira in the West some years ago, it is Kangana and Sunny Leone in India in 2016. Sunny Leone, who burst onto our consciousness at the beginning of this year, refusing to beg mercy for her stint as a “porn star”, maintaining her poise and dignity despite the interviewer’s desperate efforts to name and shame her. Together they are busy breaking moulds, shattering images, sending out of court the cherished fantasy that the “ideal bharatiya nari” is one who values her chastity belt more than her life. A proud Sunny Leone not only acts in a film named One Night Stand but also unabashedly admits to such one-nighters during her days as a single woman.

What’s your favourite beverage? an interviewer had once asked Kangana. “Coffee!” she had promptly replied. “I can drink it any time. And red wine. Over the years, I have bought a whole load of fine red wines from Paris.” Even a few years ago, our most successful heroines would romp about half-naked on screen but when it came to their off-screen personas they wouldn’t be caught dead in any such attire or with a drink in their hands or a cigarette dangling from their fingers. Kangana received her third National Award from President Pranab Mukherjee on Tuesday dressed not in the regulation Kanjeevaram but in an off-shoulder dress, very Western but very Indian too.

Evidently a new Indian womanhood is being scripted and Kangana and Sunny are the prime but not the only examples of this phenomenon. Just look at the enormous outpouring of support for both these women on the social media where the new India lives and plays. It is clear as daylight: More and more urban Indian woman are refusing to subscribe to the belief that you can’t be a true Indian woman unless you live by certain age-old norms. The sexual revolution is here to stay and for women too.

Ironically, the women are racing ahead but Indian men are unable to keep pace. In the Kangana-Hrittik Roshan kerfuffle it is Roshan who has gone out of his way to project a sati-saddhvi holier-than- thou image, not Kangana. As for one of her other exes, Adhyayan Suman, the mind boggles.Someone who by his own admission has studied in London and New York and got his dream car BMW7Series for one of this birthdays, turns to mummy’s pundit-ji with his girlfriend woes.

“My mother was very worried,” Suman told an interviewer, “and she called the family’s Panditji to come home and meet me. The first thing he asked me was: ‘Khana banati hai tumhare liye?’ When I said yes, he said, ‘Apna impure blood milati hai khaane mein black magic ke liye’… The same Pandit later on came on Salman Khan’s Dus Ka Dum also and he looked at Kangana in the middle of the show and said ‘Aap pisachini hai.’ She treated it as if it was a joke. It’s there on national TV.” In what century is he living in, I ask you.

Come on Indian men, grow up. Or be prepared to be left behind while women not only enter heretofore forbidden temples and mosques but dance on your foreheads too.