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A tribute to Maithili cinema’s 50th anniversary: Mithila Makhaan is crude but real ​

Mithila Makhaan gets National Award, focuses on the regional traditions and presenting it in a way which wins people's hearts

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Stills from Mithila Makhaan. Image source

The widespread havoc caused by the changing course of river Kosi across 14 districts of Mithilanchal region in 2008 plays a crucial role in director Nitin Neera Chandra’s National Award winning Maithili film Mithila Makhaan’s plot. The protagonist Kranti played by Kranti Prakash Jha stays in Toronto but returns to his village after more than two decades for a family function, and to meet a prospective bride, of course, at his mother’s behest.

The four days that he spends in his village serves as an eye-opener for him. During his short stay, he unravels his family’s best kept secret and is a witness of all that is wrong with his village. He is appalled to see how some people are hampering development and progress of the village by exploiting the vulnerable and poor hapless villagers.
He tries to look for his childhood friend but is told that there’s no information about his whereabouts. The news of his family being swept away in the floods comes as a rude shock. Standing amid the ruins of the ravaged village, he gets to know that lakhs bore the brunt of river’s fury and were either submerged or left homeless. The village wears a deserted look as its once-fertile land had been rendered barren by the overflowing sand, forcing people to migrate to other cities and states in search of livelihood.
Mithila Makhaan. Image credits Shilpi Singh
Mithila Makhaan. Image credits: Champaran Talkies
Kranti meets the prospective bride and her “crazy family” and also the female protagonist Maithili played by Anuritta K Jha. She lives true to her name by doing her bit for the region. Armed with a fine arts degree, Maithili has chosen to return to her village and runs an NGO for the promotion of Mithila paintings and in the process uplift rural women by giving them an opportunity to earn their livelihood. She shows her strength and attitude when she tells Kranti that “it takes a lot of courage to leave behind a life of luxury in foreign shores and settle in the village”. She makes a beautiful painting depicting the plight of those affected by the Kosi deluge as a parting gift for Kranti that forces the lead actor to take a call and return to his motherland for “if he doesn’t, then who will work to make it a better place for others”.
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The protagonist returns to his village for good to become an entrepreneur and revives his age-old family business of fox nut cultivation under the banner of Mithila Makhaan Private Limited with renewed vigour. He has the state-of-the-art knowledge about processing, storage, and marketing and by efficiently using new social media tools such as Facebook, he manages to publicise its benefits among the people and create a viable market for his produce. It is an endeavour to push the Make in India theme. With this novel initiative, he promises a fresh start, gives livelihood to hundreds of unemployed rural youths and heralds the promise of a better and brighter future with his grit and determination.
But the odds are stacked against him in the form of opposition from local businessman Brahma Singh played by actor Pankaj Jha, who hides his evil intentions behind the gold-rimmed aviator sunglasses, and wears khadi kurtas and “prefers to do things silently and not violently” and moves around with a dozen gun-toting security personnel.
Kranti takes the thought of “being the change that one wants to see around” a notch higher with his entrepreneurial spirit and manages to do so.
Stills from the movie. Image credits Shilpi Singh
Stills from the movie. Image credits: Champaran Talkies

The film successfully brings the best of Mithilanchal to the fore by capturing the small nitty-gritty of the culture, enlightens, educates and informs about the best of Maithili culture in particular and Bihar in general. It doesn’t shy away in highlighting all that is wrong with the state — casteism, dowry system, poverty, unemployment, rampant lawlessness and rising crime rate — that is taking Bihar many steps backwards. The romantic angle between the lead pair is subdued in the background, and expressed subtly and that through a song that serves as a breather from the heavy doses of issues that Mithila Makhaan has dealt with in its 130 minutes presentation.

The film like the truth is sharp-tongued, crude and authentic. The stellar performances by the lead actors and supporting cast are commendable; all of them have played their part with honesty and sincerity. The surprise is a cameo by film’s co-producer Rajiv Nayan as Kranti’s Toronto-based boss. The music and background score by Ashutosh Singh and Aashish Rego, song renditions by Udit Narayan, Vandana Bharadwaj, among many others, add to the film’s regional flavour. Editing by Archit D Rastogi, cinematography by Sanjay Khanzode, story, dialogues and screenplay, direction by Nitin Neera Chandra… all of it make it a perfect package. A medium budget film, it has managed to make the cut with its realistic portrayal, making the most of its limitations and constraints.

The film stands out because it is not dolled up in any which way for the cinematic outing but served as it is, in a de-glam avatar. You may like it or hate it, but you can’t certainly ignore it. Perhaps that will help the film connect with the masses in India as well as abroad. The end is a predictable climax where the good emerges victorious by slaying the evil and the fox nut business flourishes and changes the face of the village.
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The idea that Mithila Makhaan serves as food for thought is the reverse migration of the educated class to their native states and their entrepreneurial contribution for promoting Make in India to make our villages, cities and towns a better place to live. It may be a small step but will surely go a long way in promoting and keeping our identity alive. It will also bring a plethora of job opportunities for the unemployed youths and help reduce migration and poverty in the state. The underlying thought is to invoke that sense of belonging to one’s language, culture, and tradition and stay rooted to them, no matter how high one tends to fly.
Produced by Champaran Talkies, Asthwatha Tree and Illuminant Films, it is slated to hit the theatres after the monsoon.
The film was screened at the National Film Archives of India, Pune, on Sunday, May 29, 2016.

-by Shillpi A Singh

Shillpi is a freelance contributor at NewsGram and can be contacted at shilpi.devsingh@gmail.com 

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‘In our industry, it becomes difficult to remain headstrong’, Says actress Kangana Ranaut

Kangana again speaks her heart openly. Watch out What she has to say this time.

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Actress Kangana Ranaut
Actress Kangana Ranaut . Wikimedia Commons
  • Actress Kangana Ranaut is known to speak her mind despite the reactions her words elicit

Kangana Ranaut says, ‘it is difficult to remain “headstrong” in Bollywood as there are always people who try to make one “feel insignificant”. But she continues to fight it.

“Being an outsider in the business, I have fought to carve a niche for myself. I have also been opinionated and I choose to express my views openly,” Kangana Ranaut told.

“In our industry, it becomes difficult to remain headstrong as you are often judged for not following the status quo. There will always be a segment that will try to make you feel insignificant, but it is important to channel your strength and confidence and work hard to triumph. It’s important to grow a distinct voice to break the clutter,” added the National Award winner.

Kangana, a Reebok brand ambassador, is a part of the second edition of the brand’s #FitToFight campaign, which fights looming gender demons of eve-teasing and pays disparity.

The actress has been actively talking about her struggle in the industry as well as her relationships with actors like Aditya Pancholi and Hrithik Roshan. She tagged filmmaker Karan Johar as a “flagbearer of nepotism” during his chat show.

Does she consider herself “mentally tough and fit to fight”?
“Absolutely,” she said.
“My experiences in life, on the personal and professional fronts, have helped shape the individual I am today. There have been moments in my life when it was very difficult to continue working in unfavorable conditions. But I fought my way, to make a mark for myself.

“I realized the importance of being tough, both mentally and physically, which encouraged me to deliver my best regardless of the odds. In my journey, I learned that challenges may always beset you, but if one is strong-willed and determined, you can overcome them,” added Kangana Ranaut, often tagged the “Queen” of Bollywood.

In her last released film “Simran”, she played an imperfectly perfect girl who wants to lead life on her own terms. Does she think such characters hardly exist in real life where girls are always following the norm?
“My career trajectory is full of characters and films where I am trying to redefine the conventional heroine tag. I think it is important to reinvent oneself continuously and diversify your craft.

“I have been fortunate that I have worked in path-breaking films such as ‘Fashion’, ‘Tanu Weds Manu’, ‘Queen’ and ‘Simran’ where I play individualistic characters. I do know ‘Queen’ had a strong impact on viewers. I always choose to do roles where there is a message being delivered that makes the viewer think differently and shapes their choices,” said the actress, who will next be seen in “Manikarnika”.

She also feels “there are many women who aspire to dream bigger and better” and she is one of them. Kangana, who comes from a small town in Himachal Pradesh, says her circumstances never discouraged her from chasing her dreams.

“I encourage women to believe in their strength and value their hard work. My motto has always been to follow my own path and not succumb to norms. I believe it’s important to celebrate yourself and grow with each experience,” she said.
This is what she is trying to promote with the #FitToFight campaign.

“I hope to inspire other girls through my stories of courage, faith and conviction. I truly believe in the limitless potential that every woman possesses to be physical, mentally and socially fit. I do hope my story and journey of facing adversities, fighting obstacles and emerging stronger and fitter, will inspire other women to be Fit to Fight,” she said.(IANS)

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10 Customs of the Hindu Dharma Explained by Science

Have you ever wondered the rationale behind the customs and traditions of the Hindu dharma?

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Hindu dharma
A deeper look into the practices of Hindu dharma reveal that they are based on scientific knowledge. We tell you how! Pixabay

New Delhi, October 4, 2017 : You might have been moved by the way followers of the Hindu dharma bow down and welcome you inside their homes. Or by the way Hindu women dress, with jewellery adorning their hands and legs. Who doesn’t like the crinkling of their bangles, after all? But have you ever wondered the rationale behind their customs and traditions?

According to popular notions, the traditions and practices of the Hindu dharma have been equated with superstitions. However, a deeper look into the practices reveal that they are based on scientific knowledge and have been observed over generations , keeping in mind a more holistic approach.

Hinduism can hence, be called a dharmic scientific religion rather than just scientific religion. We prove you how!

 1. Worshiping the Peepal tree

Hindu dharma entails a myriad gods and goddesses and there exist a variety of reasons that propagate worship of Peepal tree. According to Brahma Purana, demons Ashvattha and Peepala hid inside and lured people to touch the Peepal tree and consecutively killed them. They were killed by lord Shani and hence the tree has been worshiped ever since. Another legend believed Goddess Lakshmi resides under the Peepal tree every Saturday which lends it a divinely touch. Another school of thought believes lord Hanuman sat on top of the Peepal tree in Lanka to witness the hardships faced by Sita.

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Leaves of the ‘holy’ Peepal tree. Pixabay

The Peepal tree does not have a succulent fruit, lacks strong wood and does no good other than provide shade. However, it continues to enjoy increasing devotion from people practicing the Hindu dharma. Science confirms that Peepal is the only tree which produces oxygen even during the night. Hence, in order to preserve this unique property, ancestors of the Hindu dharma related it to God. Additionally, the tree is of utmost significance in Ayurveda and its bark and leaves are used to treat diseases and illnesses.

 2. Do not chew leaves of Tulsi plant

The Tulsi plant is revered in the Hindu dharma. Apart from its medicinal qualities, the plant is also known for its symbolic presence in Hindu mythology.

According to popular belief, Tulsi is the wife of Lord Vishnu. Hence, biting and chewing it is considered disrespectful.

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According to popular belief, Tulsi is the wife of Lord Vishnu. Pixabay

However, according to botanists, Tulsi has high quantities of mercury. If raw mercury comes in contact with teeth (calcium), it can possibly result in inundation, making the teeth fall. Hence, leaves of the Tulsi plant are suggested to be swallowed and not chewed.

 3. Applying tilak on your forehead

Application of tilak is a religious ac. According to the Hindu dharma, the forehead signifies spirituality. Hence, application of a tilak on the forehead denotes an individual’s thoughts and conviction towards spirituality.  Various Vedic scriptures and Upanishads maintain that energy, potency and divinity comes to those who apply a tilak.

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A flute player from India with a tilak on his forehead. Wikimedia Commons.

However, science asserts that during the application of a tilak, the central point in the forehead and the Adnya-chakra automatically pressed which encourages blood supply to the facial muscles.  According to body anatomy, a major nerve point is located in the middle of the eye brows on the forehead. Application of the red tilak is believed to maintain vitality in the body and prevent the loss of energy. The Tilak is also believed to control and enhance concentration.

 4. Obsessive cleaning during Diwali

Diwali, the festival of lights honors the goddess Lakshmi, the deity of wealth. The festival also commemorates the return of lord Ram after an exile of 14 years to his kingdom in Ayodhya. According to Hindu mythology, the night of his return was a new moon night. To illuminate his path in the pitch dark night, the villagers of Ayodhya cleaned the entire village and lit it with lamps.

Hence, Diwali is preceded by extensive cleaning of the entire house in honor of both the deities of Hindu mythology. Legend also believed goddess Lakshmi comes home on Diwali and thereby, the entire place should be cleaned and decorated to welcome the goddess.

However, science backs the concept and explains that Diwali essentially falls in October and November, and mark beginning of winters and end of monsoon season.

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People indulge in cleaning, repari and beautification of their homes ahead of Diwali to welcome goddess Lakshmi. Pixabay

In older times, the monsoons were not a good period as they were characteristic of excessive rains that often resulted in floods and damaged homes, which then needed repair. This is why people indulged in repair, cleaning and beautification of their homes.

 5. Folding your hands for ‘Namaskar’

You will often find people practicing Hindu dharma greeting people by joining their palms together. The ‘Namaskar’ is believed to signify respect for people.

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People practicing Hindu dharma greeting people by joining their palms together. Pixabay

This pose requires an individual to join all finger tips together that carry the pressure points of ears, eyes and mind. Science says pressing them together activates these pressure points, making our mind attentive.  This aids us to remember people for a longer duration.

The Namaskar can also be backed up by an act to maintain hygiene and cleanliness since it does not involve any physical contact.

 6. Wearing toe rings

Traditionally, toe rings are worn by married woman on the second toe and are treated as a sign of holy matrimony. However, they are believed to be a part of the Indian culture since the times of Ramayana when Sita threw her toe ring for her husband lord Ram, upon being abducted by Ravana.

Science says that a nerve on this toe connect the uterus to the heart.  Wearing a ring on this finger helps regulate blood flow, thereby, strengthening the uterus and regulating menstrual cycle. It is also believed to have an erotic effect.

 7. Applying henna on hands and feet

Mehendi or henna is usually applied during weddings and festivals to enhance the beauty of the women-folk. According to popular beliefs, the color of the henna denotes the affection a girl will enjoy from her husband and mother-in-law.

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Mehendi or henna is usually applied during weddings and festivals to enhance the beauty of the women-folk. Pixabay

However, science provides rationale of applying henna during the stressful times of festivals and weddings. Festivity stress can bring fevers and migraines, which when mixed with excitement and nervous anticipation can prove to be harmful for an individual.

Thus, besides lending color, henna also possesses medicinal qualities that relieve stress and keeps the hands and feet cool thereby shielding the nerves from getting tense.

 8. Fasting during Navratri

There are four major Navratris throughout the year, however only two are celebrated on a grand scale. Throughout the nine day festival, devotees observe ritualistic fasts, perform several pujas and offer bhog (holy food) to Goddess Durga in an attempt to gratify her.

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Durga, the Goddess of strength. Wikimedia

But according to science, these navratris are celebrated when the seasons are transitioning. As the seasons and the temperatures change, our eating habits also do.

Fasting during Navratri allows our bodies to adjust to the changing temperature. Individuals get a chance to detox their bodies by quitting excessive salt, sugar and oil. Additionally, Navratris allow them to meditate and gain positive energy. This helps them prepare for the upcoming change in seasons.

 9. Applying sindoor

In traditional Hindu societies, the Sindoor denotes a woman’s desire for their spouse’s longetivity. The red powder is believed to be the color of power, symbolizing the female energy of Parvati and Sati. The Hindu dharma holds a woman is ‘complete’ or ideal only when she wears Sindoor.

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Sindoor a cultural identity of every Hindu women. Wikimedia

Science explains that sindoor is made out of Vermilion, which is the decontaminated and powdered type of cinnabar (mercury sulfide). Because of its characteristic properties, mercury is known to reduce anxiety, control blood pressure and also initiate sexual desire, the primary reason why married women are advised to wear the ‘holy’ red powder. This is also the reason why widows are prohibited from wearing sindoor.

10. Wearing bangles on wrists

Bangles have been worn in the Hindu dharma since times immemorial- goddesses are also pictured to adorn these beautiful rings in their wrists. Bangles are believed to enhance feminine grace and beauty. The Hindu dharma almost makes it mandatory for newly-wed brides and to-be brides to wear bangles as they are believed to symbolize the well-being of the husbands and the sons.

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Bangles are believed to accentuate the beauty of the Indian woman. Pixabay

Science suggests the constant friction caused by wearing bangles in the wrists expands the blood flow level. Besides this, the energy passing through the external skin is once again returned to one’s own body due to the round-molded bangles which has no ends to pass the energy out.

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Rituals Exist in All Cultures and they are Important

Rituals play a prominent role in every culture

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Religion
Ancient Indian Religion.

Hinduism is a practice, which is known for its rich rituals. From the Vedic ages, Hindus perform certain activities right from the time they wake up in the morning until the time they sleep. These activities may include, Pooja (worshipping lord) and Karya (Working), which integrate their culture. The events manifest a certain beauty, without which Hinduism is incomplete.

Different sects of Hindus worship different deities. Various Poojas are held for different festivities and occasions called the ‘Utsavas’. People during different festivals not just gather to worship the god, but also come together to celebrate life, with beautiful colours, clothes and delicious food. This itself proves that rituals manifest the beauty and celebration of life in Hinduism.

Meaning Of Rituals:

However, certain sections of the society have a preconceived notion about the rituals Hindus perform, which leads to them being called ‘superstitious’ or ‘overtly religious’. But is it fair to tag them? What is the meaning of the ritual? Ritual can be any activity which you perform. It is a way of communication. A teacher teaching his or her students can be a ritual. A mother feeding her baby is a ritual. Ritual is a generic term, which must not be linked with traditions, religion and beliefs? And, even if it is associated with these customs, then Hinduism should not be the only target. Every religion follows some beliefs. For example, a Muslim reading Namaz is a ritual; Christians visiting church on every Sunday is a ritual or Thanksgivings, when people have dinners with their friends and families. Hindus may have more rituals to act on than Muslims or Christians, but this gives no one the right to invalidate their belief. The rituals which Hindus perform don’t just have a connection with God, but also scientific reasons behind them. For example, Surya Namaskar is good for health as facing the light at that time of the day is good for your eyes, and makes you a morning person.

Also Read: Navratri 5th Day, The Tales That Speaks About Mother-Son Relationship

The reason why people not like rituals is due to their stifling and obligatory nature. Since our childhood, we have been asked to adhere to certain activities, and never taught the reason behind them. This develops disconnection towards them.

Benefits Of Rituals:

Rituals should be seen as art. We must not do it for the sake of doing it. We must sense its meaning like we sense the meaning of art. There is a side of these customs which we don’t want as well, but at the end of the day, they generate a sense of unity and belongingness. They bind you as a community. As long as we live as humans, these practices will have an integral role to play in our life, which can not be neglected.

by Megha Acharya of NewsGram.      Megha can be reached at Twitter @ImMeghaacharya.