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Works of British-Indian sculptor featured in new British passport


London: The “inspirational works” of well-known British-Indian sculptor Anish Kapoor is featured on the new passport design of Britain, together with the likes of Shakespeare and other famous cultural figures from the past 500 years.

Mumbai-born Kapoor gained fame with the Lakshmi Mittal funded ArcelorMittal Orbit sculpture created for the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Kapoor was recently honoured with knighthood by Queen Elizabeth II for his service to visual arts. The 61-year-old took over the Royal Academy in 2009, becoming the first living British artist of Indian origin to do so. Kapoor has received many international honours including the Premio Duemilia at the Venice Biennale and the Turner Prize.

the ArcelorMittal Orbit sculpture

The new hi-tech passport design which shows iconic buildings and monuments of the country, such as the Angel of the North and the Titanic Belfast, however, includes just two women– architect Elizabeth Scott and computer programmer Ada Lovelace—alongside seven men. This has led to a sexism row in the UK government.

Apart from Kapoor and Shakespeare, the other featured stalwarts include painter John Constable; inventor of the marine timekeeper, John Harrison; architect Sir Giles Gilbert Scott; contemporary artist Antony Gormley; and Charles Babbage, popularly known as the father of the modern computer.

Passport Office Director General Mark Thomson said, “It was not something where we set out to have only two women. In trying to celebrate UK creativity over the last 500 years we tried to get a range of locations and a range of things around the country to celebrate our triumphs and icons over the years. So there you are.”

UK launches a new passport design every five years and the last one featured British birdlife and geography.

“Whenever we do these things there’s someone who wants their favourite rock band or icon in the book. We have 16 pages, a very finite space,” Thomson added.

When asked why authors like Jane Austen were left out, Thomson replied, “We like to feel we have got a good representative view celebrating some of the icons of the UK, including Shakespeare, John Constable and folks like that, and of course Elisabeth Scott. We have got a good representative sample.”

Apart from fibres embedded in the paper which fluoresce under UV light, new security features include a high security watermark design on each page, on which Shakespeare appears.

James Brokenshire, UK Immigration Minister, said that the new security features would make it very difficult to duplicate, “By using some of the most advanced technology and security measures around, this passport design is the most secure that the UK has ever issued.”

(Inputs from PTI and TOI)

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William Shakespeare to be celebrated at Kolkata’s five-day Durga Puja festival

This year citizens of Kolkata will have a dash of William Shakespeare's life added to their coming Durga Puja festivities

Maha Navmi
Nine firms of the Devi Shakti are worshiped during the Navratri. IANS
Kolkata, Sept 22 2016: Denizens of Kolkata will soak in the Durga Puja festivities in October by celebrating William Shakespeare’s life, work and legacy on the occasion of the bard’s 400th death anniversary.
The British Council has tied up with two community puja organisers — Ahiritola Sarbojanin Durgotsab in north Kolkata, and Ballygunge Cultural Durgotsab Samity in the south of the metropolis — to add a dash of Shakespeare to the biggest festival in this part of the world.
A unique audio-visual experience is in store for visitors to the two marquees, where “The Globe Theatre’s Complete Walk” — an immersive, multi-screen experience with 37 shorts of Shakespeare’s 37 plays — will be shown, British Council officials said here on Wednesday.
The 37 specially made ten-minute films have been screened along the iconic 2.5-mile stretch between Westminster Bridge and Tower Bridge in London.
Each film explores one of Shakespeare’s plays and includes scenes shot in the locations Shakespeare imagined when he wrote them — Cleopatra in front of the Pyramids, Shylock in Venice’s former Jewish Ghetto, Hamlet on the rocks of Elsinore, and so on.
“The Complete Walk is an accessible, interactive way to celebrate Shakespeare’s life, work and legacy and is part of the British Council’s global programme, Shakespeare Lives, celebrating William Shakespeare’s work on the occasion of the 400th anniversary of his death in 2016,” said Alan Gemmell, Director British Council India.
Gemmell, who will be in Kolkata during the Puja and inaugurate The Complete Walk, said: “We hope that Kolkatans, enjoying the bright lights and high spirits of the festival, will enjoy the experience of the films being shown at two very different but equally renowned festivals.”
“By partnering with these two very noted Durga Puja organizations of Kolkata, we are also connecting the cultures of North and South Kolkata through a shared appreciation of Shakespeare, who is perhaps as much an icon of Bengali literature as Rabindranath Tagore.”
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The British Council will also offer free public access to the library to everyone all of October.
The five-day Durga puja carnival, beginning on October 6, celebrates the annual descent of Goddess Durga on earth to visit her parents, according to Hindu mythology. (IANS)

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Ninasam: The melting pot of Kannada Intellect and Culture is also a source of inspiration to Heggodu village

Its finest annual event the ‘Samskrutik Shibira’ till date remains the most loved programme and centres around a socio-political theme

Theatre troupe performing in Ninasam. Image Source:
  • Established by Kannada writer in 1949, Ninasam is credited with some remarkable contributions in the field of theatres, publishing and movies
  • With a greater influx on intellectuals, a full-fledged theatre building called Shivaram Karanth (a prominent Kannada literary) was built for the troupe
  • Ninasam offers a 10-month training course to aspiring theatre practitioners

Have you ever imagined a villager engaged in a literary discourse or a cart driver conversing about the literary geniuses? Well if you haven’t, you must visit Heggodu- a quaint village in Shimoga, nestled 350 km from Bangalore, to experience the same.

The village owes this unbelievable cultural life to the ‘Nilakanteshwara Natyaseva Samgha,’ a world-renowned culture institute famously known as ‘Ninasam.’

Established by Kannada writer, Kuntagodu Vibhuthi Subbanna (KV Subbanna), in 1949, Ninasam is credited with some remarkable contributions in the field of theatres, publishing and movies. Started off as an amateur project under a thatched roof in the green village, Ninasam has evolved into a melting pot of Kannada intellect and culture.

Bridging the gap between urban and rural populace, the institute focuses on socio-cultural work. Even earlier Ninasam would organise theatre and workshops along with publishing texts related to theatres. As a result, interested groups from the nearby areas started flocking to the institute to discuss contemporary issues and other forms of art.

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With a greater influx of intellectuals, a full-fledged theatre building named Shivarama Karanth (a prominent Kannada literary) was built for the troupe that slowly started performing outside the village as well. After the construction, the theatre started administering residential training programmes as well.

Ninasam buliding. Image Source: The Quint
Ninasam building. Image Source: The Quint

To tackle the language barrier for the people who only understood Kannada, KV Subbanna would write the entire script in the dialect and would distribute them to the locals before the play. The effort taken by Subbanna is evident even today when the villagers talk at length about various classic movies being their favourite films.

Its finest annual event the ‘Samskrutik Shibira’ till date remains the most loved programme and centres around a socio-political theme. Renowned figures of Indian culture such as B V Karanth, U R Ananthmurthy, Sammik Bandhopadhyay, and Shiv Vishwanathan have delivered lectures at this renowned culture course, reports

Following the guru-shishya tradition, Ninasam is totally managed by its staff and students who take up the daily chores turn by turn. At times even the villagers drop by to give them a hand.

The institute also trains children from the nearby villages for Yakshagana performances. “Yakshagana is a folk theatre form that combines dance, music, dialogue and costumes in a unique theatre that is traditionally presented from dusk to dawn. It is predominantly seen in the coastal districts of Karnataka, especially the Malnad region,” quoted as saying.

Ninasam offers a 10-month training course to aspiring theatre practitioners. Blending traditional with contemporary makes the institute stand out.

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The insightful discussions at Ninasam are something that has developed the villagers’ fondness for the work of writers like Shakespeare, Mohan Rakesh, Bernard Shaw and Kalidasa among others.

A theatrical performance in Ninasam. Image Source:
A theatrical performance in Ninasam. Image Source:

After six decades of dedicated working, Ninasam has transformed into a multi-faceted organisation with several arms like Ninasam Theatre Institute, Ninasam Tirugata, Ninasam Foundation, and the Akshara Prakashana Publishing House.

The institute has also earned widespread recognition both at national and global level. Its founder late KV Subbanna has been awarded with the prestigious Ramon Magsaysay Award for Creative Arts, Communication and Journalism in 1991.

Continuing to set a benchmark in evolving cultural literary, Ninasam has undoubtedly made literature and theatre as the part and parcel of village life in Heggodu.

– prepared by Bulbul Sharma, a staff-writer at NewsGram. Twitter handle: iBulbul_



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William Shakespeare: contemporary even after 400 years

In the era of short films, the plays of William Shakespeare have their presence globally even after 400 years of being published.

William Shakespeare:Wikimedia Commons

By Shivangi Tripathi

It’s been around 400 hundred years since William Shakespeare wrote his last play ‘The Two Noble Kinsmen’, published in the year 1613, yet even today Romeo and Juliet are epitome of pure romance. In the age of rom-coms, what makes Romeo and Juliet alive?

William Shakespeare was born in 1564 in the town of Stratford-upon-Avon, 160 kms  from London.

But great minds are not confined by borders. His characters were embraced by people all over the world as their own. His influence was such that his works have been translated in hundreds of languages. Although he was British, his influence among Americans is eminent. ‘The Folger Shakespeare Library’ in Washington D.C. is the world’s largest collection of printed works of William Shakespeare. The exhibit at Folger has a copy of ‘First Folio’ which is one of the earliest references of Shakespeare’s work into the new world. It contains some of his most commended works like’ The twelfth night’, ‘The Hamlet’ and ‘The Tempest’.

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His carrier as a playwright is said to have started as early as 13 years of age on the London stage. The vast acceptance of his characters as real with real human emotions is said to be the reason that it even resonates with the readers today. The powerful poetic writing and phrases such ‘Et tu brute’ or ‘The most unkindest cut’ is bound to leave a permanent mark for just the depth and understanding of human emotions.

Later, after being financially stable, Shakespeare became a land owner and a major shareholder of Globe Theatre whose exact replica now stands in London.

Along with the universal appeal of his characters Academia has helped a lot in taking Shakespeare to the next generation readers by making it a compulsory reading in high schools. Whatever be the reason, definition of genres like tragedy, comedy or romance is always incomplete without the reference of his works.