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BY AMIT KHANNA
There’s no denying that cinema, especially Hindi cinema, has tremendous influence on contemporary Indian culture. Bollywood is arguably one of India’s most well-known brands globally. Having spent five decades in showbiz, I am often asked some common questions at various forums — international conferences, social media and familial get-togethers. Let me try and answer a few of these questions. This is the latest bollywood news.
Why do Bollywood films not win Oscars? First, we must understand Academy Award, the official name of Oscar is an award given by a few thousand (7,000-odd) members of American Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences. Only recently, a couple of non-American artistes and a few technicians have been included in the voters’ list of the academy. We must remember until China emerged for a select number of Hollywood films, 70 per cent of the revenue of a Hollywood film came from their domestic market. Hence, all awards and promotions were largely US centric.
Academy members, bulk of whom were retired artistes and technicians, were largely ignorant of global cinema. Condescendingly they gave out one award for best foreign film every year. A lot of canvassing and trade marketing and PR happens before nominations and winners are announced. Indian filmmakers don’t have either adequate skill or money for this promotion.
Besides, there is no substantive financial fallout by winning this award. For some it’s a mere ego massage. At the end of the day, I don’t see much difference between a Filmfare award and an Oscar. As neither impact the box office returns of a film and both involve a lot of lobbying and PR. Oscars and similar awards cannot even ensure the people involved get work because of these awards. Of late, our media has gone on a hyperdrive every award season, egged on by an equally ignorant bunch of social media ninjas.
Today, almost every organization from your neighborhood club to leading media houses run dozens of award shows where the only criterion for such awards is either to attract TV audiences or sell advertising. In most cases, strange categories of awards are created to “honour” every and anyone who attracts eyeballs. Many get paid to receive awards in person or at least some assured media coverage in lieu of being honoured. Our insecure creative fraternity collects these poorly designed trophies by the bagful, some TV media coverage and indulge in some mutual back slapping at these made-for TV shows and the accompanying red carpet and after parties, often in borrowed outfits.
Some organizations like IIFA and IFA are actually running a thriving business on the basis of these shows and awards. Similarly, while dozens of Indian films are screened in film festivals regularly, few win prizes at major festivals like Cannes or Berlin. The reasons are again akin to the Indian performance at the Oscars. Since there is hardly any economic payback (except an occasional Lunchbox or two) not enough time and effort are invested in the festival circuit. There is very little government support in this regard. If some younger filmmakers are carving a niche for themselves, it is only their talent and spunk which is responsible for their success. Media and audiences confuse red carpet appearances with a festival presence. The same set of half a dozen critics keep writing their obscure columns read only by few filmmakers and cineastes.
Another question I am often asked is why don’t ‘good’ films get screen time or are not even released in many cases? Again, the answer is simple. One cinema theater is a part of a business and not some film society promoting good cinema. When they have an oversupply of films every week, they obviously select those films which will have maximum footfalls. Why should they be responsible for either safeguarding ‘art’ or give opportunity to new talent at the cost of a haemorrhaging bottom-line.? For true cinephiles, there are enough film festivals where such films can be viewed. Besides, several film clubs and institutions hold regular screenings of award winning and off-beat cinema in dozens of towns and cities. I watch almost 30/40 such films at such screenings.
We must remember India is a hugely under screened country. With a population of over 1,300 million cinema lovers and production of 2,000 films and just 9,000 screens, it becomes obvious that half the films will never get released as the cinemas can’t accommodate them. Since there is no embargo or qualification on producing films, all and sundry jump into film making, many with no talent and others with no resources. The result is several disgruntled filmmakers, writers, artistes and technicians and, of course, a small section of the audience. Leading the chorus of how unfair multiplex chains are is a group of film critics, cineastes and some cultural interlopers. Let’s not forget, since the beginning of cinema in India over a century ago, many a talented and brave people have fought against odds and not only succeeded but even made landmark films in spite of lesser cinemas.
A third question one is often asked is about the personal life of stars. Fueled by a surfeit of gossip, slander in media (traditional and social) and ‘insider information’, most people believe that all of us in showbiz are on some 24×7 party. The assumption is most of us are debauched, amoral, irresponsible and uneducated purveyors of lust, lucre and lubricity. I am often accosted by strangers and friends alike wanting to know about some young star’s purported love affair.
For many film folks specially, stars have nothing to do apart from sleeping around. Much to the disdain of my inquisitors, I have to disappoint them by my plain-speaking denial of existence of any such El Dorado in showbiz and the many modern myths that are nothing but fertile imagination hard at work. Less than .1 per cent of film professionals can even afford a luxurious lifestyle. Even the very few who do make millions do it at a considerable cost of losing their privacy, family life and even simple pleasures like eating out or going for a walk. A lot of the time is spent working in trying conditions for hours in grime and greasepaint. Even looking good all the time is a painful task. Stars today are under a severe fitness regime and often are under strict dietary restrictions. Filming long hours, sometimes in remote locations, is not an easy life.
It is assumed, largely based on hearsay and stray misdemeanors, that all film people are promiscuous. There is great exploitation and gender inequality. Of course, there is but perhaps far less than in other occupations. Nowadays, most production houses and all studios practice a healthy work environment and discrimination on caste, creed, language, religion and sex is discouraged. Today, there is a greater awareness and observance of copyright and seldom are writers, technicians, artistes, musicians and other creative professionals denied their credit. A $ three billion industry, employing over half a million people, is definitely not what people imagine. Behind tinsel and glamour, and neon lights, there is struggle, ignominy and loneliness. (IANS)
"In India, to be born as a man is a crime, to question a woman is an atrocious crime, and this all because of those women who keep suppressing men in the name of feminism."
Feminism, a worldwide movement that started to establish, define and defend equal rights for women in all sections- economically, politically, and socially. India, being a patriarchal society gives a gender advantage to the men in the society thus, Indian feminists sought to fight against the culture-specific issue for women in India. Feminism itself is nothing but a simple movement that pursues equal rights for women (including transwomen) and against misogyny both external and internal. It states nowhere that women should get more wages than men, that women deserve more respect than men, that's pseudo-feminism.
Pseudo feminists state that women deserve more respect and rights, any other gender deserves no respect. They feel that women should be the ones ruling the world and at higher positions. When feminism takes a turn for extremities it becomes pseudo-feminism and people who label themselves as feminists will bash anyone who speaks against even the wrongdoings of a woman. They'll bash women who're wife and sisters for not speaking up and support any women criticizing political leaders even if it's completely irrational. This is where hypocrisy and pseudo-feminism merge with each other.
They take advantage of the rights given to women to protect themselves to threaten other genders. The rights given to women are supposed to make them feel reassured that they can reach out to the judiciary if their rights are being hampered not to threaten to make the victim sound like the culprit.
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Indian Feminist Movement has made significant progress however, even in the modern world women are still unsafe and are discriminated against when it comes to getting a job, land ownership, and access to education. While filling the official papers it is still asked "Wife of /Daughter of:….."
People in India still continue the practice of sex-selective abortion, abandoning the girl child, not letting girl child study instead they should learn household chores, they are seen as a burden to the family. Such injustices make feminism such an important movement, gender equality is worth fighting for to create a safe environment for women. Feminists over the years have been criticized for focusing on the rights of privileged women and not giving equal representation to poorer and lower caste women, which has led to separate caste-specific feminist organizations and movements.
Some notable milestones in the Feminist Movement
- Raja Ram Mohan Roy campaigned against Sati Pratha (practice in which a widow sacrificed herself by sitting atop her deceased husband's funeral pyre) and child marriage
- Savitribai Phule started the first school for girls at Bhidewada in Pune city in 1848.
- In 1972, SEWA, the biggest trade union for women was set up by Ela Bhatt for women working in the informal sector.
- The Chipko Movement was launched and led by women in 1973.
- #MeToo movement against sexual harassment and abuse was started in 2006 and revived in the year 2015.
People in India still continue the practice of sex-selective abortion, abandoning the girl child, not letting girl child study instead they should learn household chores, they are seen as a burden to the family.Unsplash
Feminism is often misunderstood as pseudo-feminism and hence, becomes the target for public hatred and is accused of wronging other genders under the façade of feminism. It is misunderstood by Indians as female domination instead of gender equality. Indian society and Indian feminists believe that only men are perpetrators of a heinous crime like rape and they refuse to even recognize the men who say they were raped and it's the toxic masculinity in the society that believes how can a woman rape a man? Reality is different from what we believe, women can be the perpetrator too, women threaten to file a case of domestic violence, or sexual assault against innocent people just to fulfill their ego.
Thankfully feminism and pseudo feminism are two separate concepts and feminism is just about equality and not judgment. Indian society and feminists actually need to understand the difference between the two and stop tarnishing the Feminist Movement as a whole.
Keywords: Feminism, World, India, Pseudo-Feminism, Gender
Kerala is a land of many good things. It has an abundance of nature, culture, art, and food. It is also a place of legend and myth, and is known for its popular folklore, the legend of Yakshi. This is not a popular tale outside the state, but it is common knowledge for travellers, especially those who fare through forests at night.
The legend of the yakshi is believed to be India's equivalent of the Romanian Dracula, except of course, the Yakshi is a female. Many Malayalis believe that the Yakshi wears a white saree and had long hair. She has a particular fragrance, which is believed to be the fragrance of the Indian devil-tree flowers. She seduces travellers with her beauty, and kills them brutally.
Yakshi idol in Veroor, Sri Dharamashastha temple Image source: wikimedia commons
The Yakshi is believed to live in a palm tree which can appear like a palace. Victims are taken here before they are killed. Travellers on highways are often advised not to stop near heavily forested areas, or speak to anyone who closely resembles a Yakshi. Some believe she can change form, while other hold to the belief that she doesn't. after securing her victim, the only trace left behind is body parts like hair, nails, and teeth.
They say, like other ghosts, a Yakshi's feet will not touch the ground. This is something to look out for. Mysterious deaths have been reported across the rural areas in Kerala, and all these have been attributed to the legend.
Keywords: Legends, Yakshi, Urban legend, Ghost, Kerala, Myth, Vampire
The LGBTQ+ acronym stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and others. In India LGBTQ+ community also include a specific social group, part religious cult, and part caste: the Hijras. They are culturally defined either as "neither men nor women" or as men who become women by adopting women's dress and behavior. Section 377 of the India Penal code that criminalized all sexual acts "against the order of nature" i.e. engaging in oral sex or anal sex along with other homosexual activities were against the law, ripping homosexual people off of their basic human rights. Thus, the Indian Supreme Court ruled a portion of Section 377 unconstitutional on 6th September 2018.
But the question is, "was India always against homosexuality"? Has the concept of homosexuality being unnatural existed forever? No, in Indian history and Hinduism homosexuality has never been an offense, in fact in several instances it has been depicted how people embraced their identity, be it sexual identity or gender identity. Section 377 was brought to India by the British in 1862, while India was colonized. Even after the Independence, it was only in 2018 that the Supreme Court ruled it as irrational and illogical.
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Homosexuality in Ancient India
When Supreme Court decriminalized homosexuality in India, there was an uproar about it being a western ideology and liberalism. But in reality, homosexuality has existed since the time of the Vedas. The Gay and Lesbian Vaishnava Association (GALVA) researched and discovered that it was around 3102 B.C. (during the Vedic Age) that homosexuality or non-normative sexual identity was recognized as "Tritiya Prakriti", or the third nature. Ancient India not only made mentions of homosexuality but accepted it as well.
Hinduism is the most vastly followed religion in India. Hinduism does not explicitly mention homosexuality however it does contain a homosexual theme and characters in its text. There have been various instances in our scriptures and texts that have introduced us to LGBT+ characters such as the androgynous form of Shiva and Parvati Ardhanariswara meaning "the half-female lord". One of the most popular and ancient texts on sexuality, eroticism, and emotional fulfillment of life, "Kamasutra" has a complete chapter dedicated to homosexuality and homosexual sex. Numerous Hindu sculptures and temples have statues depicting homosexual activities.
Numerous Hindu sculptures and temples have statues depicting homosexual activities. Facebook
Our Mughals were Queer
Mughals are often seen under the light of cruelty, rigid ethics, nobility, and polygamy. Simultaneously, Mughals are also the ones credited for the emergence of Sufism, abolished jizya tax, love beyond religion, classes, and gender.
In the Baburnama written in memoirs of our very first Mughal ruler Muhammad Babur, several instances documented Babur's infatuation and affection towards a teenage boy named Baburi. We also have multiple Persian couplets as evidence of Babur's affection for Baburi. Mughals engaged in homosexuality and pederasty, and they believed that later was a form of "pure love".
But as time passed homosexuality was suppressed more and more though people practiced it in secret if revealed they were punished. According to the Fatwa-e-Alamgiri Sharia-based text of the Mughal Empire, there is a common set of punishments for homosexuality, which could include 50 lashes for a slave, 100 for a free infidel, or death by stoning for a Muslim.
British Raj and Independence of India
In 1862, Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code that criminalized homosexual sex came into force. Even after Independence in 1947, the section remained a part of the Indian Constitution. There were protests all over the country to give people of the LGBT+ community basic human rights but it was not until 2018 that The Supreme Court of India ruled the portion of Section 377 has unconstitutional and struck it off. One judge said the landmark decision would "pave the way for a better future.". With Section 377 gone are LGBT+ people allowed to fall in love freely? No, people are still afraid to love because of the stigma in our society when it comes to homosexuality; they are seen as lesser humans.
ALSO READ: Significant Support for Rights for LGBTQ+
Although the Supreme Court has decriminalized homosexual activities, same-sex marriage remains illegal in the country. Homophobia is still prevalent in India, and homosexual children would rather commit suicide than come out to society with their true identity, that's how harsh of a world we live in. Lacking support from family, society, or police, many gay rape victims do not report the crimes. In 1977, writer and Indian mathematician Shakuntla Devi published "The World of Homosexuals". It was the first study in the Indian context; the book contains interviews with homosexual men set in the years of Emergency. She wrote, "rather than pretending that homosexuals don't exist it is time we face the facts squarely in the eye and find room for homosexual people." We've had small victories in our fight against homophobia and getting LGBT+ community the rights they deserve as humans, but we still have a long and exhausting fight ahead of us.