Tuesday October 24, 2017

Manjhi: A story of perseverance, love and exploitation

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By Priya Sankalp

Faith can move mountains and love can build bridges. These words were epitomized by a simple man of Mushar community which is notorious for eating mice in the remote parts of Bihar. Dashrath Manjhi was a laborer in the agrarian society of India which was on the verge of getting rid of its landlords and was all set to embrace the extremism of Naxalism which emerged to correct the harsh anomalies of the rural society.

nawazuddin-radhika-manjhi-7When we think about the real life of a dalit man who is struggling in the rough and dry terrains of Gehlaur, Gaya, there is not much romance in it. The melodrama of Nawazuddin Siddiqui in the reel life must be entirely missing from the real life of Dashrath Manjhi, who worked hard to meet both ends and suffered the oppressions of nature and men alike. But the love for his wife (who died due to lack of timely medical assistance) and his will to cross the ominous heights of the mountain made Dashrath different from thousands of other men.

Kudos to Ketan Mehta for choosing a subject which might be considered untouchable for the film fraternity. After all, it lacks the bollywood masala and the guarantee of reaching the elite crores club. Nawazzudin Siddiqi is setting a benchmark for the future generations through his acting. Tears look real in his eyes and the game of pillows brings the eroticism of a man.

Radhike Apte’s beauty sizzles throughout the movie. The grandeur of the mountains is well captured and the songs seem relevant. However, the movie could have been shortened in its length.

The mountain man’s story is that of grit and tenacity of a man who despite all the odds, walks to Delhi from Gaya along the railway tracks to meet the Prime minister. The hostile attitude of his fellow men and nature’s fury obstruct him, but he keeps hammering the stones. This takes him 22 years and finally, he carves out a road from the unrelenting mountains. Hearts soar high with Manjhi’s challenge to the gigantic rocks.

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The road excavated by Manjhi

This movie is a must watch despite its minor shortcomings because it does not bloat about the sweetness of saccharine, instead it gives the taste of jaggery mixed with a few grains of sand at a nondescript.

 

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Actor Nawazuddin Siddiqui charged 1 Rupee for ‘Haraamkhor’, says Films like these keeps the actor within him alive

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Actor Nawazuddin Siddhiqui, Wikimedia

Mumbai, Jan 20, 2017:  Actor Nawazuddin Siddiqui who has reportedly charged nothing but taken a token amount of one rupee for his latest release Haraamkhor, says that such films keep the actor in him alive.

It is very important for me to keep the actor alive within me. It should not go away from you. Sometimes, when you have come with the connection with acting, it gets neglected among all the glamour and glitter. With films like ‘Haraamkhor’ I keep alive the actor within me, Nawazuddin said at a press conference.

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Talking about the difference he sees between a commercial and an art film, Nawazuddin said that he sees no difference as an actor and that it does not matter to him.

As an actor there is no difference to me. When I was in NSD (National School of Drama), we used to do musical plays, farce, realistic plays and many things. It doesn’t matter whether a film is commercial or non-commercial to an actor.

It is a task which is given by the director and I have to do that. I only concentrate on that. I am not bothered about how much the film will earn at the box office or whether it will be successful. I am an actor and I focus on my acting, the Raman Raghav 2.0 actor said.

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The 42-year-old will also be seen in the Shah Rukh Khan starrer Raees, in which he is essaying a tough cop.

Directed by Rahul Dholakia, the action crime drama is releasing on January 25. (IANS)

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Makhdumpur: Road that cuts through, divides politics of caste

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Makhdumpur: It is just a road which divides the residents of Makhdumpur assembly constituency of Maoist effected Jahanabad district. On one side voters openly favour the BJP-led NDA while on the other side, the support is largely for the grand alliance.

NH-83, which comes from Patna via Masaurhi, goes directly to Gaya through Makhdumpur and runs almost parallel to the railway line. The road that divides came about because of historical settlements.

One side is dominated by Bhumihar, Manjhi and Kushwaha community while the other has a majority of Yadava Koiry, Paswan and Ravidas castes among others.

In Bihar, Makhdumpur is still a study in the caste divide that has been evident for long, despite voting on developmental lines in many places.

NDA has fielded Hindustani Awam Morcha (Secular) president and former Bihar Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi (69), who is also fighting from Imamganj assembly constituency of the adjoining Gaya district.

The grand alliance has fielded RJD’s Subedar Das (50) of Raidas community. A total of 13 candidates are in the fray including six Paswan’s from different political parties and some independents.

Makhdumpur will vote on October 16 in the second phase of the election.

In Indrapuri village, a group of people were playing cards outside a temple wearing white boat-shaped cap of HAM on their heads.

“All the villages of this side are with NDA. In fact we are supporting Modi ji and will vote for Manjhi,” Sachidanand Sharma told IANS.

“Manjhi has done not much work in the area, but when he was the chief minister at least the roads were constructed and power supply conditions improved,” he added.

Others in the group also vow their support to Modi.

“We are still facing problems in irrigation. The Surhanda dam is being constructed since last three years but still not functional. The construction work was initiated by JD-U government when Vijay Chowdhry was the irrigation minister. We would have voted Nitish Kumar but the scenario changed when he joined hands with Lalu Prasad,” says Mahesh Sharma.

“Abri bhar Manjhi ko vote dekar jitana hai (this time we will vote for Manjhi and make him the winner),” he added.

On the other side of the road, Yadavs overwhelmingly support Lalu Yadav.

Subhash Yadav of Lalabigaha, a Yadav dominated village, said: “whatever development has been done is only visible on the other side of the road. We are being neglected. So we will support Laluji.”

His contention is that “It was Lalu ji who gave voice to us. Subedar Das is a poor boy who is working hard in the area since long. Even Paswans of the area will vote for him,” he added.

Yet, in some villages such as Makarpur, Prabhatnagar and Veera people are more circumspect.

“We have not yet decided whom to support in this election. In the last assembly polls, the Koiry’s and Kushwaha’s supported Nitish Kumar. This time there will be division of votes. Let’s see what happens,” Deepak Mahato, who sells vegetables in Makhdumpur Bazar said.

Manjhi has his own supporters too.

“Manjhiji has assured us Indira Awaas, toilets and community centre. Hope when he wins we will be benefited,” Digan Manjhi, Ranjan Manjhi and Pintu Manjhi said in almost overlapping voices at Khalkochak village of 984 Manjhi voters.

Muslims in the area are also in sizeable numbers.

“If Muslims and Yadav’s vote together in favour of Das, and if he succeeds to get even 25 percent of the Koiry votes, Manjhi will be in trouble,” said a local shopkeeper Ramprasad Sah at Makhdumpur Chowk.

“Even Paswan voters are divided as there are six Paswan candidates in the fray including BSP’s Mrityunjay Paswan,” he added.

Manjhi won the last assembly election from Makhdumpur on JD-U ticket by defeating RJD’s Dharmraj Paswan with a margin of 5085 votes. Not really a decisive number.

(Brajendra Nath Singh, IANS)

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Chicago South Asian Film Festival 2015, celebrating South Asian cinema

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photo credit: archana jain

By Atul Mishra

photo credit: www.csaff.org
photo credit: www.csaff.org

Legacies are not created if they are not carried forward. A film festival is perhaps the best artistic endeavor to carry on the legacy of silver celluloid. Decades after decades, bewildering, subtle and robust masterpieces are made by visionary film makers. Few come out of the shadows, while the rest remain in obscurity. But that would be relating them to the ‘out there’ world of box office, audience and critics.

However, a film festival is beyond all these. It’s an exclusive amalgamation of reels and reals to give good films their due, it’s appreciating and celebrating them with a vision not just to watch the films one after the other but more importantly to showcase it as a learning experience while carrying forward the cinematic legacy, so that more artistic films come out of the shadows. The Chicago South Asian Film Festival which is scheduled this year for September 30 to October 5, is one such brilliant endeavor among many others that celebrate the films from South Asia.

Chicago South Asian Film Festival: An overview

The CSAFF, held in late September in downtown Chicago, screens artistic films and harbors film appreciation through panel discussions in an interactive approach; not to mention the awards in various categories and other extravaganzas like musicals.

This festival invites films from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Iran, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Tibet. Recently films from Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam have also been invited and showcased at the CSAFF.

CSAFF was founded in 2010 by the Chicago South Asian Arts Council, Inc. It’s an exclusive annual event supported by the Mayor of Chicago, Chicago Film Office, Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, the Consulate General of India, the Consulate General of Pakistan, Chicago Sister Cities: Delhi Committee, Evanston Public Library, the City of Evanston, Tribeca Flashpoint Film School, DePaul University, educational institutions and industry ambassadors. (Source: csaff.org)

The Aim

“The Festival creates an innovative cultural and cinematic experience for Chicagoans and visitors alike. Through the gift of film, the Chicago South Asian Film Festival invites all to share and enjoy the magic of cinema and true cultural exchange. The City is proud to host this extraordinary partnership between the South Asian community and the arts and entertainment industry.” Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

So the CSAFF is a unique and stark step to create a cultural niche and diversity in Chicago through tie-ups with the South Asian communities and inviting films of that diaspora. It’s a celebration for the greater cultural advancement in Chicago by making film makers, movie buffs and movie goers come together on the same board.

This year’s highlights and few films in nutshell

On the first day i.e. September 30, ‘Kite (Patang)’ directed by Prashant Bhargav will be screened at the Intuit Art Center. This film which is yet to release in India stars Nawazuddin Siddiqui whose performance was highly praised by none other than Roger Ebert, the late great film critic.

kiteThe festival catapults with excitement and aroma on October 1. This day is the official opening day of the festival, with the red carpet at Showplace ICON Theater. The Tribeca Flashpoint College on this day will host the screening of nine short films of diverse lingual background, from Malayalam to Punjabi. Winner of the Crystal Bear at 64th Berlin International Film Festival, highly praised ‘Killa’ shall be screened and then a Q/A session will follow with the director of the film Avinash Arun.

DDLJThe festival unfolds over four more days. The major highlights of these four days are- the screening of ‘Margarita With a Straw’ followed by a Q&A session on Skype with Kalki Koelchin on October 2, screening of ‘Haraamkhor (The Wretched)’ along with Q&A with Shweta Tripathi, celebration of the 20th anniversary of ‘Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge’ at Icon Theater, screening of the recently awarded at Melbourne Film Festival ‘Kaaka Muttai’ on October 4. The final day shall host the screening of Satyajit Ray’s ‘Devi’ — the closing film for the festival which would be later ornamented with a Q/A session with Sharmila Tagore.

(Credit: Archana Jain, Festival Director)