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Exclusive: Success and Failure are nothing but an illusion for actor Pankaj Jha 

Pankaj Jha is also an accomplished painter, who has had two solo painting exhibitions to his credit so far, and will soon come out with a compilation of his poems.

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Pankaj Jha, actor, painter, poet, photographer, singer and composer
NewsGram presents an exclusive tête-à-tête with the cast and crew of this year’s National Award winning Maithili film, Mithila Makhaan. In the third part of the series, actor Pankaj Jha gets into a freewheeling chat with Shillpi A Singh and successfully manages to clear all the confusion regarding his other creative pursuits — painting, poetry, singing, composing and photography. He takes his dalliance a notch higher with every character that he essays on screen, and in his upcoming films, he is bound to spring another surprise.       
 “I know where I’m going, and I know the truth, and I don’t have to be what you want me to be. I’m free to be what I want.” This quote by late boxing legend Mohammad Ali sums up the free-spirited, outspoken, multi-faceted and versatile actor Pankaj Jha. He has scorched the big screen with his performances in Mira Nair’s Monsoon Wedding, Anurag Kashyap’s Black Friday and Gulaal, Sudhir Mishra’s Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi and A Thousand Desires Like These, and Manish Jha’s Matrubhoomi: A Nation Without Women. He also starred in two of Ram Gopal Varma’s gangster trilogy, Company and D.  His other noteworthy performances include Chameli, Teen Patti, Lahore, and Anwar, among many others.
For the uninitiated, Jha is also an accomplished painter, who has had two solo painting exhibitions to his credit so far, and will soon come out with a compilation of his poems. Is that all? No, there is more than meets the eye. Jha sings and composes as well and deftly handles the camera to capture the verdant beauty of nature.
A still from film ‘Bankey Ki Crazy Baraat’
For the naysayers, Pankaj has in a way managed to “clear all the confusion” in his last big screen outing, in 2015’s laugh riot Bankey Ki Crazy Baraat and may take it a notch higher in his upcoming Udanchhoo. Mithila Makhan, his next in the regional language cinema, has already created ripples by winning the National Award for the Best Film in Maithili this year. Directed by Nitin Neera Chandra, it is expected to hit the theatres after the monsoon. “But the best is yet to come. My today is better than yesterday and tomorrow will surely be much better than today,” he said.
The Fine Arts of Acting
Jha hails from a nondescript village in Saharsa, Bihar, and is the youngest of four siblings. “Our parents were simpletons, and they were always encouraging but never pushy when it came to education and career. I was fond of acting and mimicry from early years. In the village, I formed a small theatre group and used to stage and act in street plays.” After completing his schooling, he moved to Patna for his undergrad degree in fine arts.
He continued to dabble in theatre and went on to join the premier theatre training institute in the country, the National School of Drama in New Delhi, to perfect the art and craft of theatrics. At NSD, he was part of the Repertory. “The exposure and experience were quite enriching,” he extolled. They came in handy when he decided to enter the tinsel town with Monsoon Wedding in 2001. And the rest, as they say, is history.
A Portrait of the Artist 
Having spent his early years in the company of nature, he yearns to be out there with it whenever he can. This longing is also reflected in his other creative pursuits — paintings, poems and photography; and the common thread in all three is nature that serves as the perfect muse. The actor has an art studio in Pune, Maharashtra, and he escapes from the humdrum of Mumbai to be in the company of colour, canvas and loads of creativity.
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A still from his forthcoming film, Udanchhoo
With two solo exhibitions to his credit, Jha often lets his paintings do the talking. He has also done on the spot paintings at various places and left the audience amazed with the nature of the artwork that he happened to produce in a jiffy. “It shows his mastery over the paint and brush,” said Nitin Neera Chandra, director of Mithila Makhaan.
In the past, Jha had contributed his illustrations for leading publications such as Navbharat Times, Hans and India Today.
The Word Smith
The stroke of creativity extends to poetry as well. A poem is the product of his everlasting love affair with words which dance to his thoughts to soothe the senses. The actor said that writing was his habit, and it soon turned into a hobby. His poems are mostly about nature and its beauty, myriad human emotions and, of course, the mortal being.
The thought springs from his minute and detailed observation of people and their behaviour, the good, bad and ugly, all three find a place of pride in his verses. “I ask questions that a poem won’t answer. But maybe they illuminate the question.” A recitation of his compositions titled Qudrat was held to a packed house in Pune in September last year.
He has an excellent collection of photographs that again show his closeness to nature — the blue sky, flight of birds, bright dawn, emerald green forests, water gushing down the rocks — beautiful moments beautifully captured on camera.
The Role Call
In Mithila Makhaan, he has essayed the role of Brahma Singh, an unscrupulous and ruthless fox nut trader in the village, who believes in “doing things silently and not violently.” About his portrayal, Jha said, “Brahma Singh is just a character in the larger picture. He happens to behave in a particular fashion because he feels threatened. There is nothing good or bad about a character to be called a hero or villain. And calling someone hero or heroine is highly misplaced.
Film poster. Image source: Champaran Studio
A still from his forthcoming film, Udanchhoo
An actor merely portrays a character onscreen.” He added, “I have come across people like him in real life so being one like them on the big screen wasn’t difficult. His mannerisms, body language, dressing, dialogue delivery, all of it happened effortlessly.” The select few who have watched the screening of the film in Pune, Patna, New Delhi and Toronto have appreciated his role in the film. “Brahma Singh’s character stands out because of Pankaj Jha. He has done full justice to the role,” said Amrita Jha, who watched the screening at the National Film Archives of India, Pune.
Cinematic Limits
He is a mainstream actor and his outings in the regional language cinema have been limited to Mithila Makhaan in Maithili and Deswa in Bhojpuri, both produced by actor Neetu Chandra’s production house, Champaran Talkies. Jha told that he agreed to do these films for Neetu Chandra and her brother Nitin, who has directed Mithila Makhaan and Deswa. “I got this opportunity to do something in Maithili and Bhojpuri, and I lapped it up.
Award
Film Poster of Mithila Makhaan
Today, I feel proud to be part of an Award-winning film in regional language.” He quickly added that language does not bind good cinema. “Sairat in Marathi is a beautiful movie. It is realistic and not a make-believe portrayal of an idealist world. Language becomes a second fiddle to creativity.” And not just Mithila Makhaan, Jha has been part of many award-winning films — Monsoon Wedding, Matrubhoomi, Very Very Silent Movie, etc. — in the past as well. “Awards give instant recognition, and they have a greater recall value,” he said.
What Next?
In his next — Vipin Parasher’s Udanchhoo — Jha will be seen as a Haryanvi policeman Chatur Singh Sherawat. A con-caper, it also stars Ashutosh Rana, Rajneesh Duggall and Saisha Sehgal. Another two upcoming projects include Gun Pe Done that stars Sanjay Mishra among many others and Running Shaadi.com that will be directed by Amit Rai and will be produced by Shoojit Sarkar.
The actor, painter and poet may get into production and direction. “If things work out as planned, it may happen sometime soon,” he said.
He signed off on a beautiful note about success and failure. “Success and failure are nothing but an illusion. He who succeeds today had tasted failure yesterday and he who has failed today will surely succeed tomorrow.”
(In the next part, we will get up, close and personal with the male and female lead of the award-winning film. So watch out for this space!)
-by Shillpi A Singh, a freelance contributer at NewsGram and can be contacted at  shilpi.devsingh@gmail.com 
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  • ~Punit

    Very first memory i have of Pankaj was during very early ’90’s.

    “BATA” was a famous footwear brand in India with more penetration in rural areas and a symbol to showcase – you have moved from lower middle class to middle class status (BSC to Bata).

    Bata had a famous model known as “Jubilee” – a typical red colored sandal. I use to have one (kid’s version) and somehow i broke the straps. I was visiting Pankaj’s house (Nariyaar Road, Saharsa). He saw it and brought his tool box, i was amazed how this man having all these tools (I was very young in age). In his tool box i found his very first art work in which he colored the passport size black and white photograph. I was in total confusion, whats going on, how this man is doing this all.

    …………………….to be continued.

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  • ~Punit

    Very first memory i have of Pankaj was during very early ’90’s.

    “BATA” was a famous footwear brand in India with more penetration in rural areas and a symbol to showcase – you have moved from lower middle class to middle class status (BSC to Bata).

    Bata had a famous model known as “Jubilee” – a typical red colored sandal. I use to have one (kid’s version) and somehow i broke the straps. I was visiting Pankaj’s house (Nariyaar Road, Saharsa). He saw it and brought his tool box, i was amazed how this man having all these tools (I was very young in age). In his tool box i found his very first art work in which he colored the passport size black and white photograph. I was in total confusion, whats going on, how this man is doing this all.

    …………………….to be continued.

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80% Maharashtra School Students Don’t Report Cybercrimes: Survey

It is also reportes that 33% students deleted content due to which they were targeted for cybercrimes

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cybercrimes
37 per cent of the students revealed that they were affected by some sorts of cybercrimes. Pixabay

At least 80 per cent of school students in Maharashtra aged between 10-17 do not report cybercrimes they face online to their parents, teachers and the police, a new survey revealed on Thursday.

The study done with 1,148 children studying in the 6th-9th standard across 18 schools in Maharashtra, found that 33 per cent students deleted content due to which they were targeted for cybercrimes, while 31 per cent informed their friends about it.

The survey by a non-profit startup Responsible Netism and Cyber Peace Foundation, Maharashtra State Council of Educational Research and Training (MSCERT) was conducted between October 2019 to February 2020 to understand internet usage trends of children across Maharashtra.

The research found that 37 per cent of the students revealed that they were affected by some sort of cybercrime including their accounts being hacked, cyberbullying, being threatened online, harassment by strangers and even receiving pornographic content.

“Millions of kids in Maharastra today are being exposed to cybercrimes owing to the ease of access and anonymity that internet offers,” Sonali Patankar, Founder President, Responsible Netism, said in a statement.

Cybercrimes
60 per cent of students faced other Cybercrimes such as cyberstalking, online gambling, etc. Pixabay

“Our research points to the fact that technology companies are not stringently safeguarding the interests of children towards ensuring their cyber wellbeing,” Patankar added.

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The findings showed that at least 60 per cent of students faced other crimes such as cyberstalking, online gambling, body shaming, added to inappropriate groups online, threatened online, etc.

According to the study, 46 per cent of the students revealed that they were dependent addicted to their devices (phones, tablets, computers) and it affected their studies. The report also revealed that Whatsapp and Tiktok are the two most-used apps by children in the state while PUBG and GTA are the most popular online games amongst children. (IANS)

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Responsible Human Behaviour has Helped Animals: WWF

Images from across the world have presented a very interesting picture of animals being sighted due to responsible.

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Animals
More and more animals are sighted outside as humans stay inside. Pixabay

Venice, the beautiful Italian city where nature meets culture, was recently in news, when calm returned to its overtourism-affected waters with aquatic life shining through clear canals.

Closer home, monkeys, buffalos, cows, and dogs have all come to be increasingly sighted on Indian streets, as human life remained under a tight lockdown from March-end. In Udaipur, one could spot fish swimming in the lake after decades.

Images from across the world have presented a very interesting picture – with people indoors, wild animals can be seen roaming the streets, birds sing on balconies, the dolphins have made a comeback in the rivers and the skies are blue and the air is clean, says WWF India on a campaign film ‘Our Planet, Our Home’, that visually illustrates this human-animal contrast.

The short film, that puts together visuals from across the world, is a clever satire on the idea of freedom, and how reduced human activity has led to the animal kingdom spreading its wings to territory it is kept out of.

“Any kind of development and industrial activity will have some impact on nature. What we have seen in the last few weeks, is that when human activity is decreased, and when we start behaving responsibly, we see the difference. Most of us are locked in our homes, not just because someone advised, but because we are also afraid of infection. If this responsible behavior was demonstrated against climate change, against use of plastics, today we’d live in a different space,” Dipankar Ghose, Director of the Wildlife and Habitats, WWF India told IANSlife.

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Nature meets culture as animals are sighted more now say WWF. Pixabay

Adding, Himanshu Pandey, Marketing Communication Director at WWF India says that he cannot imagine life, without wildlife. “When we talk about wildlife, it’s about their habitats, their ecosystem. Without nature, no human activity – whether economic or otherwise – is possible. This contrast of us being locked up in our houses and wildlife moving about freely in urban spaces, this is a reminder of the cruciality of conservation,” he said over phone.

According to WWF’s Living Planet Report, we have lost 60 percent of wildlife populations in the last 44 years, globally. So when we step out of our houses after the lockdown, let’s ensure we protect this biodiversity and build a sustainable world where nature and people coexist. This is a film that aims to inspire individuals, businesses and governments to strengthen positive action to help build a better world for our future generations, he added.

The campaign film, which puts forth a question of coexistence as compared to human-animal competition – “what remains to be seen is whether this will continue once life returns to normal” – has been developed by McCann Bangalore and Native Films.

“In advertising, we believe that all good ideas come from simple observations or insights. This insight came from the site of animals, who were on the streets while humans were caged inside their houses. This was like a role reversal of sorts. This irony was unmistakable in a sense. It was a big lesson for humanity because we truly understood the value of freedom, and not just ours, but that of other species too. It was a timely reminder that this place we call home, is theirs too. This is the film’s message: Coexistence is the key to our survival,” Sambit Mohanty, Creative Head (South), McCann told IANSlife.

Also Read: Some Simple Tips For A Fine Bikini Line

Coexistence, as per Ghose, is more of a perception that something which is practically happening. “Animals are reclaiming, I would say, urban biodiversity has always been there, we started observing them, hearing different sounds, and appreciating them. If you want to hear these koyel sounds, we have to change certain things in our behavior,” he concludes. (IANS)

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Migrant Workers Push Up Corona Infections in Jharkhand

Out of 50 positive cases, 38 are migrant labourers

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In Jharkhand COVID-19 tally reached 174 consisting of mostly Migrant labourers. Pixabay

The return of the migrant workers from the highly coronavirus infected states of Maharashtra and Gujarat is pushing up the number of Covid-19 patients in Jharkhand where the tally reached 174 on Wednesday.

According to the health officials, of the recent 50 positive cases 38 are migrant labourers.

The highest numbers during the day were reported from Hazaribagh district where six people, who hail from Barra village of Bishnugarh block and had returned from Maharashtra a couple of days ago, have been confirmed to be infected with coronavirus.

In the state capital Ranchi, a 20-year-old migrant woman tested positive for coronavirus while a migrant worker, who had returned from Surat, also tested positive in the Gandey block of Giridih district.

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In 14 districts out of the 24 districts in Jharkhand, Coronavirus patients have been detected. Pixabay

Coronavirus patients have been detected so far in 14 districts out of the 24 districts in Jharkhand.

Read More: Don’t Let Lockdown Diminish The Spirit of World Cocktail day

A total of 1,061 samples were tested out of which 1,053 turned out to be negative while eight were positive. The samples are currently being tested at four places in the state, including MGM Jamshedpur, RIMS Ranchi, PMCH Dhanbad and Itki Arogyashala Ranchi.

District wise Ranchi has so far recorded 95 confirmed coronavirus cases which included two foreigners, Bokaro 10, Hazaribagh 10, Koderma three, Giridih six, Simdega two, Dhanbad four, Deoghar four, Garhwa 23, Palamu eight, Jamtara two, Godda one, Dumka two and East Singhbhum two. Out of these 174 cases, three have died. (IANS)