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By Vikarm Barhat
Bollywood star Priyanka Chopra has plenty of experience of red carpets but this weekend was different. Rather than the usual gala premieres, she posed for hundreds of flashing cameras outside the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood before presenting a golden statuette to Margaret Sixel, Best Film Editing for Mad Max: Fury Road at the 2016 Oscars.
For many, her presence at this glittering event, officially announced the arrival of Indian actors in the Hollywood big leagues. But it’s been a long time coming.
Diversity was the hot topic before and at this year’s Academy Awards. Director Spike Lee and actress Jada Pinkett-Smith boycotted the ceremony over lack of diversity among nominees, sparking the #OscarsSoWhite campaign. And while Indian actors or actresses have yet to win at the Oscars, their rise in American films and Hollywood overall can’t be overlooked.
Presenting an award at the Oscars is an honor reserved for the select few. It comes hot on the heels of Chopra, 33, becoming the first Indian ever to win a People’s Choice Award for her role in US television show Quantico for which she was reportedly paid $4m. Chopra will also star alongside Hollywood heavyweight Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson in the much-anticipated Baywatch movie.
Over the last decade as Hollywood film storylines and cast have become more diverse, career opportunities are finally opening up to this wider pool of talent. As Hollywood casts its net wider India’s talent is benefiting but how well are they being paid?
Eye on the profit pie
Hollywood’s motivation for this crossover into India’s film royalty is partly a shrewd business calculation by film studios and distributors.
“It’s always about the money” said Suhel Seth, managing partner at consultancy firm Counselage India who is also an occasional actor with cameos in several Bollywood blockbusters.
“As the Indian diaspora across the world gains more economic stature, there’s an urge for Hollywood producers and foreign studios to then also cater to that market.” US film companies see incorporating popular Indian actors and actresses into their productions as a significant opportunity to reach much bigger audiences in emerging markets.
India represents a vast market of English speakers and a huge untapped opportunity, said Mumbai-based Anirban Das Blah, founder of CAA KWAN, a talent management company that represents several Bollywood stars.
India’s own movie industry produces more than 1,000 films a year, and, together with television and media industries, is projected by KPMG to be worth $28.7bn by 2019. There’s a huge appetite for films in a country with more than a billion people, which analysts expect to mean more multiplex cinemas will be built and more Indians will start regularly viewing through digital media.
“In less than a decade the market could be anything from 20 times to 50 times its current size,” Das Blah said.
A growing demand amongst Indian moviegoers for cinema with less formulaic plots and more global themes is also driving change. “Both the context and the craft have altered to suit more diverse palates, which includes the American palate, the American studio palate,” Seth said.
Crossover stars from India are muscling their way in to an industry that has come under fire for being too white — a recent BBC report citing University of Southern California research on Hollywood’s “inclusion crisis” underlined the scale of the problem.
Leading the pack is actor Irrfan Khan, 49, who has done more than 100 films during his career, the bulk in Bollywood. He has also spent a decade working in American studio and TV productions. Khan rose to prominence in the US after playing a policeman in the hit movie Slumdog Millionaire, which swept the Academy Awards in 2009 winning eight gold statuettes. His most recent outing was in the Universal Pictures- blockbuster, Jurassic World, which took in a record $511m at the box office in its opening week.
Khan and Chopra have opened the gate wider for younger Indian actors like Deepika Padukone, 30, to make their mark. Padukone has just bagged the lead in xXx: The Return of Xander Cage, where she’s paired up with action film veteran, Vin Diesel.
Indian faces have become more visible on prime time TV too. Nimrat Kaur and Suraj Sharma (Homeland), Kunal Nayyar (The Big Bang Theory), and veteran Indian actor Anil Kapoor (24) have all appeared on shows that have been global hits, partly driven by the rise of binge-watching via streaming services like Netflix and Hulu.
For many years, Hollywood seemed to hire Indian actors to portray stereotypical parts. Offensive caricatures were common as recently as the late 1990s. “Hollywood is like any other business that has to continue to grow, or be eaten up,” Khan said. “Television and films are flourishing industries in America and they keep looking for new markets.”
Before India, it was all about China, “so Hollywood was incorporating Chinese actors, location, and technicians,” said Khan.
Films like Slumdog Millionaire (2008) helped sell and showcase India to Hollywood heavyweights. “When India-centric films like The Namesake and Slumdog Millionaire came out, they became popular and changed everything,” said Khan. “The entire American entertainment industry started looking at India as a potential new market to explore, and started accepting more stories with the Indian backdrop.”
Big film houses like Fox and Paramount are attempting to offer variety and continue to look for new ground for their stories, said Khan, who stars alongside Tom Hanks in Inferno, due out later this year.
While they’re on the screen, fame and fortune in Hollywood still isn’t bringing in the millions for Indian arrivals. There’s a general consensus among film stars, agents and publicists that Indian actors are not as well paid as US or European actors for comparable work.
Khan, who earned just under $2m in 2015, according to Forbes, said leading Indian actors will make anything from $750,000 to $5m per film in Bollywood.
“For Hollywood films, I don’t get even one fourth of the fee I charge in India,” Khan said. “It’s only when you’re playing the lead in a Hollywood film and you command a wider world market [audience] that you’ll be paid big bucks.”
Seth said while the pay disparity is problematic, the exposure can pay off bigger for Bollywood stars crossing over to American film. “What Indian actors also gain is a greater brand recognition, which helps them bolster their image and allows them to appeal to a wider international market,” he said.
India’s highest paid actresses Chopra and Padukone have powerful Hollywood agents who ensure their clients get casting calls for films with big names and budgets.
That has boosted their earning power in some instances. Chopra, who charges nearly $1m for her Bollywood projects, was reportedly paid $4m for her Quantico gig.
Big Bang Theory actor Kunal Ayyar, however, takes the salary prize. Born in Britain and raised in India, Ayyar was third on the Forbes list of World’s Highest-Paid TV Actors for 2015 with earnings that topped $20 million.
(This article originally appeared in www.theindependentbd.com)
Great historic events that have shaped the world and changed the outlines of countries are often not recorded in memory, or so we think. Wars made sure to destroy evidence and heritage, and the ones who survived told the tale of what really happened. Folklore, albeit through oral tradition kept alive many such stories, hidden in verse, limericks, and rhymes.
Ringa-ringa-roses, a common playtime rhyme among children across the world, is an example of folklore that has survived for many centuries. It tells the story of the The Great Plague of London which ravaged the city between 1665-1666.
The Plague broke out from improper disposal of garbage and poor sewage conditions. Fleas from the rats that lived in the sewers spread the disease that killed more than half of London's population. Many people fled from their homes as there was no medicine available for those who were infected.
Beak-shaped masks worn during the Great Plague of London Image source: wikimedia commons
It was around this time that masks began to be invented. The first masks were shaped like beaks, and were worn not to protect the wearer from the disease, but to the prevent them from being able to smell the decay and death around them, which they called 'miasma'. The beaks were filled with floral herbs that allowed doctors and nurses to tend to the sick without being reviled from the smell.
Children are often seen forming circles by holding hands and reciting loudly,
Pockets full of posies
We all fall down"
An illustration of the Great Plague of London, 1665 Image source: wikimedia commons
When the last line is sung, they break the circle and fall down. The roses and posies are believed to be the preferred fragrances inside the masks, and a single sneeze (a-tishoo) was enough to infect the one who was exposed to the disease. Consequently, they fell down, ill, and later died.
An alternative version of this rhyme is sung about the fall of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in the aftermath of World War II. The roses and posies are interchanged with geranium and uranium, to symbolise what was used in the atomic bomb. But this version is not as famous the original.
Keywords: Rhymes, Ringa-ringa-roses, Great Plague of London, WWII, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Folklore
In modern times, many social movements aim to bring reform to the society we live in, on the basis of certain existing patterns. Patriarchy is something that many aim to cleanse our cultures of, to usher in the era of social and gender equality. Despite all these so-called movements, in southern India, certain societies that patronise matriarchy have existed since before India's independence. The Nairs and Ezhavas of Kerala, and Bunts and Billavas of Karnataka are matrilineal societies that continue to thrive in a patriarchal country.
Kerala remains separate from the rest of India in many ways. Be it literacy policy, form of government, or cultural practices, this state does not always conform to the ideal that India is known for. Even so with their social structure. Certain tribes have remained matrilineal, where the decision-making power rests with the eldest female of the family.
The Nairs and Ezhavas of Kerala, and Bunts and Billavas of Karnataka are matrilineal societies that continue to thrive in a patriarchal country. Image source: wikimedia commons
A male member, who is the close confidante of the matriarch is chosen. He plays a crucial role in representing the male members of his family, and his opinion is highly valued. He is called karavanan. The men reside in separate rooms or in separate houses, and do not interfere in the upbringing of children. Property is also passed down along the lineage of the eldest female. Among the Nairs, matriarchy is more prominently adhered to than the Ezhavas, who have some patrilocal connections.
In Karnataka, the Bunts and Billavas belong to the Tuluva ethnic group. They are also a predominantly matriarchal society, founded on the belief in a legend. Their matrilineal descent is known as Aliyasantana.
The story is told of a demon who threatened to destroy a kingdom if the king did not sacrifice his sons, but the king's sister comes forward to offer her children in sacrifice for the sake of the kingdom. The demon is touched and does not destroy the city. Since then, the kingdom, or the property is inherited through female lineage.
In Karnataka, the Bunts and Billavas belong to the Tuluva ethnic group. They are also a predominantly matriarchal society, founded on the belief in a legend. Image source: wikimedia commons
In the recent past, many of these matriarchal societies have been reduced to matrilineal societies by certain governmental laws. They fall under the patriarchal scheme of the rest of the state but have reserved the right to pass on property and heritage through the female line. In the North east of India, matriarchal dominance is far more resilient than the south.
Keywords: Bunts, Billava, Nair, Ezhava, Aliyasantana, Matrilineal, South India, Karnataka, Kerala
Apple inc. Is an American multinational tech firm specialized in consumer electronics, computer programs, and internet services founded by Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and Ronald Wayne in 1976 to manufacture Wozniak's Apple iComputer. It is the world's top tech company in turnover (totaling $274.5 billion in 2020) and its most valuable corporation. Apple is the fourth-largest PC seller by unit sales and the fourth-largest smartphone manufacturer in the world.
Apple has revealed a slew of new products at a special launch event that has been long-awaited. On the day of the live event, Apple announced the iPad mini, Apple Watch Series 7, iPhone 13 mini, and iPhone 13, as well as the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max.
Apple has revealed a slew of new products at a special launch event that has been long-awaited. | Photo by Daniel Romero on Unsplash
In the first major product announcement during the event, Apple introduced the newest edition of the iPad and a 5G-capable iPad Mini.
iPad: The 10.2-inch iPad is equipped with a solid A13 processor that delivers 20 percent quicker performance than the preceding version. According to Apple, it is now three times faster than a Chromebook. A new 12MP ultra-wide camera with Center Stage, which utilizes machine learning to optimize the front-facing camera during FaceTime video chats, as well as more incredible accessory support, including compatibility with the first-generation Apple Pencil, are among the new features. For 64GB of storage, the iPad costs $329.
iPad Mini: In addition to reduced borders and more rounded edges, the 8.3-inch iPad mini also has improved front and back cameras. A liquid retina display, USB-C compatibility, magnetic support for the Apple Pencil, an enhanced speaker system, and new hues such as pink and purple are all features of the new Apple iPad Mini. The starting price is $499.
In the first major product announcement during the event, Apple introduced the newest edition of the iPad and a 5G-capable iPad Mini. | Photo by Leone Venter on Unsplash
The other major unveiled products include:
iPhone 13 and other variants: The iPhone 13 range is almost identical to the iPhone 12 lineup, with a 5.4-inch iPhone 13 Mini, a 6.1-inch iPhone 13, a 6.1-inch iPhone 13 Pro, and a 6.7-inch iPhone 13 Pro Max. It was also revealed that the Watch Series 7 has a smaller "S7" processor, which may allow for a bigger battery or other components to be housed in a smaller footprint. The gadgets have a revolutionary design that includes a dual-camera system, placed diagonally. Apple's iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini have longer-lasting batteries than the previous generation of devices. In addition, Apple claims that the iPhone 13 will have a battery life that is 2.5 hours longer than the iPhone 12, and the iPhone 13 mini will have a battery life that is 1.5 hours longer. A more energy-efficient display, an upgraded 5G chip, and functionality called "Cinematic Mode," similar to the famous Portrait mode function but is only available for movies, are among the other enhancements. The A15 Bionic chip present in the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini is also used in the 6.1-inch iPhone 13 Pro and 6.7-inch iPhone 13 Pro Max, also 6.1-inch devices. However, it also has a five-core CPU, which promises graphics that are 50% quicker than previous models. Other notable features of the Pro devices include a brilliant Super Retna XDR display with a higher refresh rate and long-lasting battery life. Now, for the price, it will start at $699 for the iPhone 13 mini with 128 GB of storage, $799 for the iPhone 13 with 128 GB of storage, and the Pro and Pro Max have starting prices of $999 $1,099, respectively.
Apple Watch Series 7: The new Apple Watch Series 7, which is smaller and has a larger screen than its previous model, was introduced by Apple on Wednesday. There is a 20% increase in screen size over Series 6 on the new watch. A complete keyboard that you can touch or slide to write out text messages can show 50% more text. It starts at $399.
Keywords: Apple, iPad, iPad Mini, iPhone 13, iPhone 13 pro, iPhone 13 Pro Max, iPhone Mini, Apple event 2021