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Bollywood: Kangana Ranaut talks ‘Tanu Weds Manu’, claims she’s only actress after Sridevi to try comedy

BollyWood|: Actress Kangana Ranaut celebrated 10 years since the release of her romantic comedy ‘Tanu Weds Manu’ and said she’s the only Bollywood actress to do comedy movies after Sridevi. “I was stuck in edgy/neurotic roles, this film changed the trajectory of my career, was my entry in to mainstream that too with comedy, with Queen and Datto I strengthened my comic timing and became the only actress after legendary SriDevi ji to do comedy #10yearsoftanuwedsmanu,” Ranaut tweeted. Incidentally, February 24 — just a day earlier — was Sridevi’s third death anniversary. The superstar died in an accidental drowning while on vacation in Dubai in 2018. In the 2011 movie ‘Tanu Weds Manu’, Ranaut played a free-spirited woman who is meant to get married to NRI Manu (R Madhavan) — however, she is in love with another man. Read more Bollywood: Kangana Ranaut threatens to quit Twitter and join Indian app Kangana Ranaut vs Tom Cruise? Bollywood actor continues Hollywood comparison, this time with the stunt master himself Bollywood: Swara Bhasker reminds Kangana Ranaut of ‘item song’ Ranaut earlier compared herself to Hollywood stars Meryl Streep and Gal Gadot. “Massive transformation alert. The kind of range I display as a performer no other actress on this globe has that right now, I have raw talent like Meryl Streep for layered character depictions but I can also do skilled action and glamour like Gal Gadot #Thalaivi #Dhaakad,” she had tweeted earlier in February while posting about her upcoming movie ‘Dhaakad’. The action movie is being directed by Razneesh Razy Ghai and will see Ranaut play a spy named Agni. The film also stars Arjun Rampal.

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Bollywood actress Parineeti Chopra looks back on her weight loss journey

BollyWood|: Bollywood actress Parineeti Chopra, who’s gearing up for the release of her new psychological thriller ‘The Girl on the Train’ on Netflix this weekend, is keen to erase memories of her being overweight and unhealthy. In her latest role — played effectively by Emily Blunt in its 2016 Hollywood original — Chopra plays a woman suffering from amnesia and is about how she struggles to piece together the crucial pieces of her personal life. The film is based on Paula Hawkins’ best-selling novel of the same name. “I wish I could erase the time I was hugely overweight and I am talking about my college days. I was really unhealthy and really big, and I didn’t quite see it. Today, I care about life and health so much more that I wish I could erase that chapter. I wish I could erase those photos which I see and they terrify me,” said Chopra in an interview with radio host Siddharth Kannan. In an earlier interview with Gulf News in November 2019, Chopra was searingly honest about her tendency to put on weight. “I have yo yo-ed in my weight throughout my life. I have always struggled and it goes up and down. The only secret is to balance it out with exercise and food. I work out a lot and a great metabolism is not something that I have... I have to work towards it all. Nothing has come easy,” said Chopra in that interview. Priyanka Chopra’s cousin was always a foodie and had repeatedly declared working out at gyms uninteresting. But the actress, who made her debut in 2012 with ‘Ishaaqzaade’, embarked on a lifestyle change to become fitter and healthier in December 2015. She was often shamed for her body type until she began her fat-to-fit transformation. But in December 2015, Chopra posted a string of photos revealing her new ‘fit self’. “THIS IS MY BODY and I’m proud of it! Took me 9 months to look this way. But I’m still a work in progress!! Will look better with time,” posted Chopra. Read more Parineeti Chopra: 'Nothing has come easy in life' According to several reports, she began to include protein-rich foods and cut out all artificial sweeteners from her daily life. She eats her dinner as early as 7pm and believes in incorporating vegetables and healthy carbohydrates on her plate. ‘The Girl on the Train’ will premiere on Netflix on February 26.

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Khloe Kardashian hits back at claims of ‘Photoshop’ on new pictures

HollyWood|: Reality TV star Khloe Kardashian has often been called out on social media for allegedly using face changing filters and Photoshop. After being questioned about a recent photo shoot, Kardashian has responding and explained why the images look distorted. The pictures were from a photo shoot she did for her clothing brand Good American. Kardashian, 36, can be seen posing in blue jeans and a crop top, but her fingers and feet look elongated. “HA I’m cracking up! 4a few of those GA photos, we shot on a camera lens that creates a stretching effect. The closer the object is to camera they will get elongated. So in some of my photos my feet/fingers look incredibly long. Not to worry! I still have normal size hands/fingers,” Kardashian tweeted, responding to claims that it was a Photoshop fail. “It’s just the lens guys! LOL but some of these stories are really reaching.” Comments under the Instagram post featuring the pictures ranged from confused to creeped out. “Who cleared this photoshop,” one person wrote. “The stretched-out feet are just wrong,” another comment read. “I love the brand and fit of the jeans. I strongly dislike this ad,” one person wrote. “It’s unrealistic. And just make girls think they need to do this crud to their own photos. Be real. Be you. Be authentic. We like you for you, Khloe. Not for the photoshopped version.” However, Kardashian was sure to point out there was no Photoshop involved — or surgery! “Nope I didn’t get a surgery to stretch my fingers and nope it’s not a ‘photoshop fail’. Have a great day,” she wrote. “Hope the ‘concern and confusion’ is now put to rest and we can just enjoy the photos LOL this really made me laugh today. Thanks for the giggle. No lie.”

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‘Mission: Impossible 7’ will head to streaming site sooner than expected

HollyWood|: Paramount Pictures is joining other major Hollywood studios in slashing the traditional 90-day theatrical window. ViacomCBS on Wednesday announced that some of the studio’s films, including ‘Mission: Impossible 7’ and ‘A Quiet Place Part II,’ will go to its fledgling streaming service, Paramount+, after 45 days in theatres. Like all studios in the past year, Paramount has had to adapt. Paramount sold some of its films to streaming services, including ‘The Trial of the Chicago 7,’ which went to Netflix, and ‘Coming 2 America’ to Amazon, but held back its biggest titles, including ‘Mission: Impossible 7’ and ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ for more traditional theatrical releases. ‘A Quiet Place Part II’ has been delayed several times over the past year. It was originally set to come out last March, but was pulled from the schedule when theatres closed nationwide. Both it and ‘Mission: Impossible 7’ are currently scheduled to open in the fall. 'A Quiet Place'. Image Credit: Paramount Pictures The 45-day plan is yet another sign of how quickly the pandemic has changed the business of Hollywood. In the past theatre owners have been able to insist upon exclusive 90-day theatrical windows, but most have had to compromise to stay afloat during the pandemic. In the past few months, Universal Pictures reached an agreement with many theatre chains to shorten the theatrical window for its films. Warner Bros and parent company WarnerMedia followed with the more controversial decision to debut films simultaneously in theatres and on HBO Max. And there’s also the pressure to get premium content to new streaming services faster. Paramount+ launches March 4 and has some hefty competition for audience dollars and attention in Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, Apple TV+ and HBO Max. A few films are being produced to go directly to the service, including a new ‘Paranormal Activity’ and a new ‘Pet Sematary’ origin story. The company has also struck a deal with EPIX that will add thousands of other movies to Paramount+.

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Next ‘Star Wars’ series to hit Disney streaming service in May

HollyWood|: The next ‘Star Wars’ series, an animated show about an elite group of clones called ‘The Bad Batch,’ will debut on the Disney+ streaming service on May 4, the company said on Wednesday. Marvel Studios live-action series ‘Loki,’ about the villain played by Tom Hiddleston, will premiere on June 11, Disney said in a statement ahead of a presentation of upcoming programming to the Television Critics Association. ‘The Bad Batch’ will follow the experimental clones in a rapidly changing galaxy following the end of the Clone War. The debut date coincides with an unofficial holiday among ‘Star Wars’ fans who use the catchphrase “May the Fourth be with you.” Disney is adding several high-profile series from its Star Wars and Marvel franchises to help attract viewers to Disney+, which launched in November 2019. The company is refocusing its media and entertainment business around the streaming market dominated by Netflix Inc. As of January 2, Disney+ had 94.9 million subscribers, helped by the popularity of ‘Star Wars’ spin-off ‘The Mandalorian’ starring the character known as Baby Yoda and Marvel series ‘WandaVision.’ Marvel is currently filming ‘Ms Marvel’ and ‘Hawkeye’ for Disney+ and will begin shooting ‘She-Hulk’ in a few weeks followed by ‘Moon Knight’ a few weeks after that, Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige told the TV critics group. Marvel is linking the stories told in the streaming TV series to its feature films that play in movie theatres. Wanda, played by Elizabeth Olsen, will next appear in ‘Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,’ a film scheduled for release in theatres in March 2022. Some of the Marvel shows created for Disney+ will go on for more than one season, Feige said. He did not say if that would happen with ‘WandaVision,’ but he did not rule it out. “The fun of the (Marvel Cinematic Universe) is obviously all the crossover we can do between series, between films,” Feige said. “It will vary based on the story. Sometimes it will go into a season two. Sometimes it will go into a feature and back into a series.”

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Bollywood actor Ishaan Khatter shares adorable picture to wish brother Shahid Kapoor on birthday

BollyWood|: As Bollywood actor Shahid Kapoor turned a year older today, his brother and actor Ishaan Khatter shared a heartwarming birthday wish with a throwback picture to mark the special day. Khatter took to Instagram and posted a then and now picture with his big brother. The ‘Dhadak’ actor shared a collage of two pictures — one from their childhood that features a young Kapoor holding Khatter in his arms. Another picture showed the grown-up sibling duo posing together from their appearance in Karan Johar’s talk show ‘Koffee With Karan’. Shahid Kapoor and Ishaan Khatter. Image Credit: Insta/ishaankhatter Sharing the images, Khatter wrote a few lines the famous song ‘Zindagi Kaisi Hai Paheli’. He captioned the post, “Zindagiiiiii kaisi hai paheli haaye. Kabhi toh hasaaye, Kabhi yeh rulaaye. But through it all.. I’ll always love you, bade bhai [big brother]. Happy birthday.” Ace filmmaker Zoya Akhtar was among the first ones to comment on the post with a heart emoji. Bollywood actor Ayushmann Khurrana also showered love on the sibling duo with a heart emoji. On the work front, Khatter was recently seen in Mira Nair’s web series ‘A Suitable Boy’. His next project is ‘Phone Bhoot’ co-starring Katrina Kaif and Siddhant Chaturvedi. Kapoor will next be seen in ‘Jersey’, which also features Mrunal Thakur and Pankaj Kapur. The actor will be essaying the role of a cricketer in the film, which is a remake of a Telugu movie of the same name.

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Watch: Bollywood star Lisa Haydon sweats it out in the gym for baby shower

BollyWood|: Think of a baby shower and most people have the vision of a heavily pregnant women in pastel dresses, balloon arches for decor, and cupcakes galore, but that’s not how Bollywood actress Lisa Haydon rolls. The ‘Queen’ star, who is now pregnant with her third child, gave a sneak peek into her friend’s baby shower. But instead of downing pint-size desserts, the theme of her friend’s baby shower was Pilates and a super-fit Haydon is seen gracefully working the machines. On February 24, the ‘Ae Dil Hai Mushkil’ actress shared videos on her Instagram account chronicling the inventive get-together with her friends. “Pregnant Pilates baby shower, not for my baby but for my friend’s baby,” posted Haydon, along with videos of her in a fitness studio working out with her pregnant friend. The mother to Zack and Leo had recently announced that she was expecting her third child with husband and businessman Dino Lalvani. Famous for bouncing back into shape, Haydon had always posted pictures of her working out throughout her pregnancies. Recently, she even gave a shout-out to her husband for gifting her a spinning cycle. She put it in her bathroom so that she uses her new machine regularly. “It’s the spot least disruptive to the house, ok a girl’s gotta get it done somewhere. Dino got me this bike for our 6th year anniversary ... It’s the best gift ever cuz we live on a mountain, kids, other stuff always a priority, and getting anywhere for a workout was getting close to impossible. Having this in the house is so easy to squeeze in. I love cardio too and this is nice and low impact and still a super good burn thanks hub,” wrote Haydon. Bollywood has been witnessing a baby boom. Recently, Bollywood stars Anushka Sharma and Kareena Kapoor Khan gave birth and are now enjoying the new phase in their lives.

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Simon Cowell is better than ever after recovering from breaking his back

HollyWood|: Music mogul Simon Cowell says he’s feeling “much better” after breaking his back in an accident in August 2020 and is raring to get back to work. “I’ve got to be honest with you, it wasn’t that bad actually breaking your back,” he told People. “I mean it wasn’t great for 3-4 weeks but after that you get through it. I had to do so much exercise now. I actually feel better than I did before the accident.” The accident in question took place at his home in Los Angeles when he was with his girlfriend Lauren Silverman, their son Eric, and her son Adam. Cowell, a judge and creator of ‘America’s Got Talent’, was trying out an electric bike in the backyard when he fell and broke his back in multiple places. “I’ve never been in this situation in my life where you literally can’t move. The pain was off the charts,” he said. “But you’ve got to stay positive… I made a promise to myself I’d be fitter than I was before I had the accident. Sure enough, that’s what happened.” The 61-year-old executive producer underwent a five-hour surgery and had to miss season 15 of ‘America’s Got Talent’. However, he’s looking at the incident and the recovery in a positive light. “Just like the doctor said, you hit this kinda seven, eight-week mark, and it’s like it never happened. I mean, literally like that, so there were a lot of pluses,” Cowell told ET. “And I didn’t catch COVID, so I was lucky.” Cowell will be returning to judge season 16 of ‘America’s Got Talent’. In the past, he has been a judge on reality TV shows ‘Britain’s Got Talent’, ‘The X Factor’ and ‘American Idol’.

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Paul McCartney memoir due out in November

Music|: Paul McCartney is finally ready to write his memoirs, and will use music — and a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet — to help guide him. ‘The Lyrics: 1956 to the Present’ will be released November 2, according to a joint announcement Wednesday from the British publisher Allen Lane and from Liveright in the United States. McCartney, 78, will trace his life through 154 songs, from his teens and early partnership with fellow Beatle John Lennon to his solo work over the past half century. Irish poet Paul Muldoon is editing and will contribute an introduction. “More often than I can count, I’ve been asked if I would write an autobiography, but the time has never been right,” McCartney said in a statement. “The one thing I’ve always managed to do, whether at home or on the road, is to write new songs. I know that some people, when they get to a certain age, like to go to a diary to recall day-to-day events from the past, but I have no such notebooks. What I do have are my songs, hundreds of them, which I’ve learned serve much the same purpose. And these songs span my entire life.” Financial terms for ‘The Lyrics,’ which has a list price of $100, were not disclosed. Publishers have long sought a McCartney memoir, even though he has spoken often about the past and has participated in such projects as Barry Miles’ biography ‘Paul McCartney: Many Years From Now,’ and the 1990s documentary and book ‘The Beatles Anthology.’ The Rolling Stones’ Keith Richards has been equally open about himself, but his 2010 memoir ‘Life still sold millions of copies. No Beatle has written a standard, full-fledged account of his life. Lennon published two works of stories, poems and drawings and was considered the most gifted with words, but he was murdered in 1980, at age 40. Ringo Starr’s ‘Another Day In the Life’ is centred on photographs and quotes, because, the drummer has said, a traditional memoir would require multiple volumes. George Harrison, who died of cancer in 2001, issued the scrapbook/retrospective ‘I, Me, Mine’ in 1980. According to McCartney’s publishers, his songs will be arranged alphabetically, and will include McCartney’s comments on when and where they were written and what inspired them. The US edition of the book will be broken into two volumes, contained within a single box. “Presented with this is a treasure trove of material from McCartney’s personal archive — drafts, letters, photographs — never seen before, which make this also a unique visual record of one of the greatest songwriters of all time,” according to Wednesday’s announcement. McCartney has often received more acclaim for his melodies than for his lyrics, but he has written some of the most quoted songs in recent history, including ‘Let It Be,’ ‘Hey Jude’ and ‘Eleanor Rigby.’ Muldoon said in a statement that their conversations in recent years “confirm a notion at which we had but guessed — that Paul McCartney is a major literary figure who draws upon, and extends, the long tradition of poetry in English.” Muldoon is known for such poetry collections as ‘Moy Sand and Gravel’ and ‘Horse Latitudes,’ and also has a background in music. He has given spoken-word performances backed by the musical collective Rogue Oliphant; published a book of rock lyrics, ‘The Word on the Street’; and collaborated on the title track of Warren Zevon’s ‘My Ride’s Here.’ He even mentioned McCartney in a poem, ‘Sideman’: “I’ll be McCartney to your Lennon/ Lenin to your Marx/ Jerry to your Ben &/ Lewis to your Clark”.

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‘Frasier’ revival with actor Kelsey Grammer in the works

TV|: Baby I hear the blues a-calling, and they’re calling for more Dr Frasier Crane. A revival of ‘Frasier’ is officially headed to Paramount+, ViacomCBS’ soon-to-be rebranded streaming service, with the sitcom’s original star, Kelsey Grammer, set to reprise the role as the titular psychiatrist. Grammer said in a statement that he “gleefully anticipate[s] sharing the next chapter in the continuing journey of Dr Frasier Crane.” A spin-off of ‘Cheers,’ the original series aired on NBC from 1993 to 2004 and followed Frasier’s return to Seattle, where he is reunited with his brother and father while working as a radio host. The critically acclaimed show won the Emmy for comedy series for its first five seasons. In addition to starring in the revival, Grammer will executive produce the show along with writers Chris Harris and Joe Cristalli, as well as Grammnet Productions’ Tom Russo and Jordan McMahon. “‘Frasier’ is one of the most acclaimed comedies in modern television history and truly defines premium storytelling,” said CBS Studios president David Stapf in a statement. “There has long been a call from fans for its return, and that call is now answered thanks to the amazing Kelsey Grammer reprising his iconic role of Dr Frasier Crane and a brilliant creative plan from Joe, Chris and Kelsey. We can’t wait to reveal its next chapter on Paramount+.” The new ‘Frasier’ will be produced by CBS Studios in association with Grammnet Productions. CBS All Access will be rebranded to Paramount+ on March 4.

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Drunk driving charges against Bruce Springsteen dropped

Music|: Federal prosecutors dismissed charges of driving while intoxicated and reckless driving against Bruce Springsteen in a virtual hearing Wednesday, the Associated Press reported. The rocker pleaded guilty to drinking alcohol in an enclosed area, the lone charge remaining from his arrest last November in a national park in New Jersey. Springsteen was arrested on November 14 after an officer observed him drinking alcohol in Gateway National Recreation Area. His arrest was first reported by TMZ earlier this month, following Springsteen’s appearance in a Super Bowl commercial for Jeep. The ad was later pulled from YouTube and the auto company’s social media channels. (A spokesperson for Jeep did not return a request for comment on whether the commercial would be restored online.) In his court appearance Wednesday, prosecutors said the rocker’s blood alcohol level did not warrant the more serious charges, the AP reported. Springsteen told the court he had consumed “two small shots of tequila.” US Magistrate Judge Anthony Mautone ordered Springsteen to pay a fine of $540 (Dh1,983), including court fees. Read more Podcast odd couple: Obama, Springsteen in Spotify series Bruce Springsteen was arrested last year on suspicion of drunk driving Springsteen faced federal charges because he was arrested in a national park; a federal DWI charge is punishable by up to $5,000 and up to six months in federal prison. Documents from the arrest noted that Springsteen completed several field sobriety tests but refused to take a preliminary breath test. Springsteen told the officer he had consumed two shots within a 20-minute time span before getting on his motorcycle and starting the engine. The document reported that the musician “smelt strongly of alcohol coming off his person and had glassy eyes.” In an email statement Wednesday, the musician’s lawyer said Springsteen, who this week released a new Spotify podcast alongside former president Barack Obama, was “pleased with the outcome of today’s court appearance.”

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Covid-19: Punjabi singer Sardool Sikander's death, Ayushmann Khurrana, Diljit Dosanjh, Kapil Sharma mourn

BollyWood|: Chandigarh:  Noted Punjabi singer and actor Sardool Sikander died on Wednesday at a Mohali hospital where was undergoing treatment for COVID-19. He was 60. Sikander, who had undergone a renal transplant in 2016 and was admitted to hospital on January 19, passed away at 11.55 am, sources at Fortis Hospital said. They said his condition worsened in the last few days and he was put on life support systems. Sikander, regarded an icon in the Punjabi music industry, is survived by his singer-wife Amar Noorie, and music composer sons Sarang and Alaap Sikander. The untimely death of the singer led to condolences from various quarters, including fellow musicians, actors and politicians Image Credit: Insta/ayushmannk Following the news of his demise, several celebrities took to social media and mourned his death. Bollywood actor Ayushmann Khurrana shared singer Gurdas Mann tweet on his Instagram Stories and wrote, "Rest in peace Sardool sahab!" TV show host and actor Kapil Sharma also remembered the singer. "It's very sad news. Listening to his songs, even an ordinary man becomes melodious. I am fortunate that (Sardool) could attend my daughter's first Lohri. We were all happy. But who would have known that it was going to be our last meet. You will be remembered," Kapil tweeted. Oh WAHEGURU (folded hands) RIP #SardoolSikander Bhaji (folded hands) PUNJABI MUSIC DI SHAAN (Pride of Punjab)," Diljit Dosajh tweeted. Image Credit: Insta/mikasingh Mika Singh said, "When we talk about Punjabi singing or voice only one name comes to mind.. the legendary #SardoolSikander. Sadly he has left for his heavenly abode. This is the most upsetting news that I have heard, I truly wish I could have met him just once more. We learned so much from him and he leaves us with all his beautiful memories and music. May Waheguru bless his soul, Rest in eternal peace." Sikander, who acted in several Punjabi films, including "Jagga Daku", initially came into the limelight with appearances on radio and TV during the early 1980s. His album 'Roadways di Laari' was an instant hit.

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Chrissy Teigen tells US President Joe Biden to unfollow her on Twitter

HollyWood|: Model and social media sensation Chrissy Teigen had an unusual request on February 23. She asked the President of United States Joe Biden’s official Twitter account to unfollow her. “I have tweeted a handful of times since my treasured @POTUS following. In order for me to flourish as me, I must ask you to please lord unfollow me. I love you!!! It’s not you it’s me!!!!” she hilariously tweeted. Teigen, the wife of singer John Legend, has more than 13.7 million followers on Twitter and over 34.1 million on Instagram. She is known for her humorous posts about everything from food, her two children, social issues, and even difficult topics — such as miscarrying her third child. She can also be a bit edgy, which might have inspired her appeal to get Biden to stop following her — even though she asked for it in the first place. “Hello @joebiden I have been blocked by the president for four years can I get a follow plz,” Teigen wrote in January after Biden was sworn in as president. At the time, she was the only celebrity out of 13 people the POTUS Twitter account followed. “OH MY GOD !!!!!!!!!!... My heart oh my god lmao I can finally see the president’s tweets and they probably won’t be unhinged,” she tweeted. However, after her change of heart, she was glad that Biden had snipped their social media ties. “I am FREE!!!!!!!!!!!!” Teigen exclaimed.

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West Bengal elections: BJP moves in to rock Mamata’s Tollywood bastion

India|Entertainment|: Kolkata: The timing could not have been better when Prakash Javadekar, the Union Information and Broadcasting Minister, announced at a meet-and-greet session with the Who’s Who of Bengali film industry on Monday that a national level film award would be instituted in the name of the iconic director Satyajit Ray. While no further details on the award were available, it is believed that it would be somewhat in the lines of the Dada Saheb Phalke award - hitherto considered as the highest honour in Indian cinema. This being the birth centenary year of Ray, the Oscar-winning director who is considered to be Bengal’s biggest cultural icon after the Nobel laureate bard Rabindranath Tagore, there are no prizes for guessing that the mileage in bestowing this honour on him on the threshold of the West Bengal elections is too lucrative to let go. The decision of the Union ministry was welcomed by Sandip Ray, the director’s son, as coming ‘‘just at the right time.’’ While there could always be the counterpoint that it’s better late than never (Ray had passed away in 1992), but it’s more of the political nouss of Bharatiya Janata Party which has not let the opportunity of his centenary year pass without making a statement. It’s been almost a template for the BJP, against whom the state chief minister Mamata Banerjee of All India Trinammool Congress has been hitting out with the ‘outsiders’ tag, to be visible and pay their obeisance to the likes of Swami Vivekananda, Tagore or Subhas Chandra Bose. READ MORE West Bengal elections: Trinamool harp on ‘Bengal’s daughter’ theme in election slogan West Bengal elections: Dangers of subnationalism BJP is testing its own achievements in West Bengal elections What, of course, is making more interesting fodder was Javadekar’s meeting with the movers and shakers of Tollywood on that occasion - which included several A-listers who don’t have so-called political affiliations, directors and leading producers. The likes of Abir Chatterjee, Rituparana Sengupta or Paoli Dam who were present at the meeting later stressed that it was an ‘apolitical’ meeting which acted as a forum for them to put forth the problems of the regional industry on the table - like urging for a better distribution network for Bengali films, involvement of government arm National Film Development Corporation (NFDC) to produce Bengali films again as well the presence of their regional movies on OTT platforms. ‘‘I had accepted the invitation as the discussion was supposed to revolve around films. If it had been a political one, then I wouldn’t have gone. However, questions may be raised since the elections are round the corner but it’s something not in my control,’’ Rituparna Sengupta, a leading actor, told the local media. I had accepted the invitation as the discussion was supposed to revolve around films. If it had been a political one, then I wouldn’t have gone. However, questions may be raised since the elections are round the corner but it’s something not in my control Rituparna Sengupta, Actor Three of the top producers of the state: Mahendra Soni, Nispal Singh and Ashok Dhanuka who were present at the discussion said it was out of business considerations that they went there. ‘‘I have been in the business for the last 32 years, but we have never received a call-up from a Union Information and Cultural Minister.I am a businessman first and if such a move has been taken even with the elections in mind, it’s still a good move,’’ said a candid Dhanuka. However, political observers feel that the timing of Javadekar’s visit - at a time BJP has recently wooed a number of signficant names from the industry under the saffron umbrella - there will be pertinent questions raised about the BJP leadership’s sudden concern about the welfare of Bengali cinema. It was the Trinamool Congress who had fallen back heavily on the star value of celebrities of this industry, ever since coming to power in the state in 2011, to prise out key constituencies - as well as often diffuse the odd intra-party squabble by using them as neutral candidates. Prakash Javadekar's announcement of a national award in the name of Satyajit Ray and his patient hearing of the problems of Bengali film industry has given rise to speculations. Image Credit: AP It was, hence, quite a culture shock at the turn of the last decade for the people of West Bengal to accept the likes of Debashree Roy, Shatabdi Roy, veteran Sandhya Roy, MoonMoon Sen or Chiranjit assuming important roles as MLAs or MPs. The results had not always been encouraging but ‘Didi’ had continued with her preferred choices, the last occasion being the 2019 Lok Sabha elections when two absolutely political rookies - Mimi Chakraborty and Nusrat Jahan returned as winners from Jadavpur and Barasat constituencies. The local film industry, in turn, became one of the beneficiaries of Didi’s attention and largesse - though her ritual to flaunt the stars at public functions were often unneccessary and became a sort of embarrassment.  The Tollywood is clearly an area which the BJP has been trying to woo - and the results are showing. While Ms Locket Chatterjee, the BJP MP from Hooghly, had carved a niche for herself in the last few years with her increased presence in the constituency, the last month or so had seen a stream of Tollywood actors, a fair percentage of them from the TV serials though, joining the BJP bandwagon. A few notable catches for the party since January had been Yash Dasgupta, a young hero who graduated from the teleserials, and Rudranil Ghosh. The latter’s switchover from the Trinamool siders’ camp had evoked sharp criticism allround - but Ghosh is ready with an explanation. While Dasgupta was inducted in Kolkata last week, Ghosh was a part of a high profile group of ministers and leaders who formally joined the BJP at Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s residence last month. In a chat with Gulf News, Ghosh said one of the reasons behind his move was to protect the interest of the technicians of the industry. ‘‘I will have to admit that in the initial years of this regime between 2011 and 2014, they had done a lot of work for the benefit of the industry. However, the last four to five years have seen a deterioration of the scene where one has to be affiliated to TMC only to get assignments. It’s a kind of Mafia raaj, you can say,’’ said Ghosh, who has been a part of several critically acclaimed films in his career. Has the move to BJP, then, stopped with Yash and Rudranil? ‘‘It’s just the beginning,’’ he signed off. Film stars can be responsible politicians too: Rudranil Ghosh By Gautam Bhattacharyya, Senior Associate Editor Kolkata: The landscape of Indian politics is replete with larger-than-life performers from the screen making it big in their second innings. While the trend began in the southern part of the country with the likes of N.T. Rama Rao, MGR and ‘Amma’ Jayalalitha striding their respective state’s political scenario bigtime, the Eighties had seen the mega stars of Bollywood take the plunge at the national level. If Sunil Dutt, father of Sanjay Dutt, was one of the earliest names who became a Congress MP and then a Minister of State, the mighty Amitabh Bachchan, Shatrughan Sinha, Vinod Khanna, Rajesh Khanna, Jaya Prada had all tested wonders - with varying degrees of success. In the current BJP dispensation, Smriti Irani, who had tasted resounding success ion the small screen, had been a minister for long and very much a part of the BJP think tank. Does the perception of actors making bad politicians, then hold true ? ‘‘Not always, what is important for us is to be politically conscious. How would you otherwise explain the rise of Locket Chatterjee, who is now being given major responsibility by the party?’’ Ghosh told Gulf News. Fair enough, but how would be fight the tag of a ‘turncoat,’ who was initially a Left-leaning individual who went on to enjoy a government placement before moving onto BJP? ‘‘See, this is not the same party which I joined six-seven years back. I would like to play my part in ushering in a healthy working atmosphere in the studios and want to see West Bengal prosper,’’ he said. Well, he is certainly making the right noises!

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Pakistani sufi maestro Abida Parveen to join Dubai’s Malhaar in free virtual concert

Music|: Dubai-based Malhaar Centre for Performing Arts will pay tribute to one of the greatest singers of the Indian sub-continent, Abida Parveen. The legendary singer will join Malhaar Baithak, a monthly concert series, virtually from Pakistan to celebrate her birthday month. Malhaar’s online Baithak will be streamed live on its Facebook and YouTube channels — MalhaarUAE — on Friday, February 26 at 6pm. The 67-year-old mystic singer will reflect on various facets of her musical journey with the Malhaar Baithak viewers, while the Malhaar artists will perform some of her famous compositions during the concert. Jogiraj Sikidar, Founder-Director of Malhaar said: “It’s a dream come true for me and our Baithak audience. Personally, I am a big fan of Abida saheba. If you see my playlist, you will find that majority of the songs in my top-10 numbers are Abida ji’s compositions. She moves her audience to a higher plane every time.” Abida Parveen said: “Malhaar has invited and featured some of the finest artists of our sub-continent and I am delighted to be a part of Malhaar Baithak.” Malhaar Baithak Image Credit: Supplied Famous ghazal artiste Farida Khanum and Hindi film actress and daughter of renowned poet Kaifi Azmi, Shabana Azmi have been guests in previous editions of Malhaar Baithak. “I will share some stories from my journey with Malhaar Baithak’s viewers when I celebrate my birthday with them,” the Sufi queen added. Some of the timeless compositions that are part of Malhaar Baithak playlist, include ‘Jabse Tu Ne Mujhe Deewana Bana Rakha Hai’, ‘Teray Ishq Nachaya’, ‘Ji Chahe Tu Sheesha Ban Ja’, to compositions from her collaborative work with Gulzar on ‘Kabir — Man Laago Yar Fakeeri’ to compositions from Pakistan Coke Studio’s collaborative work ‘Aaqa’, to name a few. Abida Parveen Image Credit: GN Archives The Sufi queen will also sing a few lines from her famous compositions such as ‘Chaap Tilak’ and ‘Man Kunto Maula’ for the audience during the show, said Sikidar. “Abida ji is not merely a maestro of our sub-continent but also a musician’s musician. Both the current and future generations will learn from her music,” says Sikidar. The performance will consist of poetry narrations, trivia, mellifluous singing, accompanied with live instruments and a lot more. Abida Parveen is recognised as one of the greatest Sufi singers of all times. She has a wide-ranging repertoire of songs originally composed by Sufi poets and sings in multiple languages such as Urdu, Sindhi, Seraiki, Punjabi, Farsi and Arabic. Her passion for music exceeds all norms of mystical experience. The virtual gig is free to attend and can be accessed through Malhaar's Facebook page and YouTube channel.