Friday December 15, 2017

How National Film Awards reflect India’s diversity in cinema

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By Shreya Upadhyaya

If there’s anything that has been constant for Hindi film actress Kangana Ranaut since 2013, apart from rumours, it is the appreciation for her performance in the critically acclaimed and commercially successful ‘Queen’. And this year’s National Film Award for the Best Actress was another feather to her hat. The Vikas Bahl-directed flick went on to win the Best Hindi Film as well.

Vishal Bharadwaj’s ‘Haider’, an adaptation of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, won the most awards – Best Music Direction, Best Dialogue, Best Male Playback Singer, Best Choreography and Best Costumes.

National Film Awards 2015 are a mix of popular cinema as well as films with a niche audience. Most of the narratives explore different genres and weave stories that reflect the changing Indian society.

Court’, a little known quadrilingual film, was adjudged the Best Feature Film. Directed by Chaitanya Tamhane, the movie depicts the “mundaneness of judicial procedure” and the “heart-wrenching insensitivity of institutional structures.” It was released in Hindi, English, Marathi and Gujarati last year and narrates the story of the trial of an ageing folk singer charged with abetting the suicide of a sewage worker, through his music.

While ‘Naanu Avanalla Avalu’ (Kannada) is a film on transgenders, ‘Ain’ (Malyalam) is a story set in a Muslim household, how one of its members happens to witness a murder and his escape thereafter. Kannada actor Vijay won the Best Actor Award for “his subtle and non-stereotypical” portrayal of a woman trapped in a man’s body for ‘Nanu Avanalla Avalu’.

Thriller ‘Chotushkone’ (Bengali) directed by Srijit Mukherji is a film about four directors coming together for a film with four different stories, all thematically connected by a common thread — death.

‘Kuttram Kadithal’ (Tamil) revolves around how one unexpected incident influences people from diverse lifestyles.  Bengali filmmaker Aditya Vikram Sengupta’s debut ‘Asha Jaoar Majhe’ is a story that unfolds two lives suspended amid the threat of an escalating recession.

Animation film ‘Sound of Joy’ tells the story of today’s kids, struggling with their aspirations and expectations and how they get inspired by stories of Biley (childhood name of Swami Vivekananda).

Shot in Orissa’s Rayagada district, ‘I cannot give you my forest’ is a film that explores and tries to spread the importance of forest food in the tribal culture. Its focus on such an integral and crucial environment issue has made it bag several prestigious awards globally.

‘Nachom-ia Kumpasar’ (Konkani) is based on the lives of two musicians and is narrated through over 20 popular Konkani songs from the 1960s and 1970s that have been re-recorded for this film. ‘Killa’ (Marathi) portrays the life of a young boy who has a hard time settling in his new countryside home after his father’s death in their previous city home. Several other films were awarded in different categories.

With filmmakers across the country daring to unveil, explore and narrate untold stories, forgotten accounts and ignored events, the National Film Awards always come in as confirmation of what India takes pride in – Unity in Diversity.

  • More than diversity, I think the award shows an underlying discontent and urgent need for change in the society. All the movies in some way or the other portrayal of breaking free from the stifling society.

    Our decadent government touting development and progress like some door to door salesman of substandard products, needs to learn something from this.

  • That’s a relevant point and another interesting perspective through which these films can be seen.

  • More than diversity, I think the award shows an underlying discontent and urgent need for change in the society. All the movies in some way or the other portrayal of breaking free from the stifling society.

    Our decadent government touting development and progress like some door to door salesman of substandard products, needs to learn something from this.

  • That’s a relevant point and another interesting perspective through which these films can be seen.

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Karma Yoga: The concept of work and duty, as defined by Swami Vivekananda

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Karma Yoga

Swami Vivekananda, the patriot saint, the torch bearer of Hinduism, had passed away but his teachings to humanity still lives on. One such teaching which he repeatedly spoke through out his life is about “Karma Yoga” – the concept of work and duty- the Karma Yoga. Before understanding what constitutes duty, we must first understand what constitutes Karma.

What Is Karma Yoga?

Swami Vivekananda Says:The word Karma is derived from the Sanskrit Kri, to do; all action is Karma.

Technically, this word also means the effects of actions. In connection with metaphysics, it sometimes means the effects, of which our past actions were the causes. But in Karma-Yoga we simply have to do with the word Karma as meaning work.” Therefore, all actions are Karma, from the most trivial actions like brushing the teeth to the highest elevating actions like meditation.

KARMA YOGA refers to all human activities performed with concentration, skill and finesse. The way to liberation is to perform your duties without attachment. In Bhagavad Gita Sri Krishna instructs Arjuna (all of mankind) to do their work most sincerely & with expertise and skill they have masterd, and without any attachment or expectation of rewards.

Types Of Karma Yoga:

  • Niskama Karma– work without attachment, which produces no bondage.
  • Sakama Karma-all work done for some end result, which leads to bondage for the doer.

More on “Karma Yoga” By Swami Vivekananda:

“Thus we are all doing Karma all the time. I am talking to you: that is Karma. You are listening: that is Karma. We breathe: that is Karma. We walk: Karma. Everything we do, physical or mental, is Karma, and it leaves its marks on us.”

What Is YOGA?

This is a much more confusing word. Yoga is generally understood as the activity of breath control or taking different body postures, or the activities mentioned by Pathanjali. But in Gita this word has a much wider and somewhat different meaning.

The word Yoga originated from the root ”YUJ” meaning Joining,tieing together etc. This word is used at innumerable places in the Gita with meanings like appropriateness, joining, expertise, attainment etc. The essential meaning of Yoga is explained by Sri Krishna himself as “Yogah Karmasu Kausalam” (Gita 2.50). Kausalam means a special talent, expertise or skill in doing something. So doing things with expertise is Yoga. A Yogi is one who does something with expert knowledge or skill. (according to speakingtree)

The goal of mankind is knowledge

Therefore, Karma is simple exertion of effort. Naturally the question arises, what is the ultimate goal of such efforts? Why should we perform actions?

Swami Vivekananda answers-

“The goal of mankind is knowledge. That is the one ideal placed before us by Eastern philosophy.Pleasure is not the goal of man, but knowledge. Pleasure and happiness come to an end. It is a mistake to suppose that pleasure is the goal. The cause of all the miseries we have in the world is that men foolishly think pleasure to be the ideal to strive for.”

Therefore, the ultimate goal is not pleasure, not temporary happiness but Knowledge (Atma-Jnana) that liberates one from the limited bondage of the universe.

In another place, he states- “I have already tried to point out that goal. It is freedom as I understand it. Everything that we perceive around us is struggling towards that freedom, from the atom to the man, from the insentient, lifeless particle of matter to the highest existence on earth, the human soul. The whole universe is in fact the result of this struggle for freedom.”

Means are as important as the goal

A question may arise- If the goal of all actions is Liberation, then does it mean there is no importance to the actions that are employed as means to attain the goal? Can any one indulge indiscriminately in any kind of actions?

As if to answer, Swami Vivekananda declared-“One of the greatest lessons I have learnt in my life is to pay as much attention to the means of work as to its end” in one of his lectures delivered at Los Angeles, California in 1900.

Hence, while doing one’s actions, and while performing one’s duties, one should first and foremost concentrate on the immediate job that is in front of a person. It often happens that one tends to ignore the immediate task at hand, by indulging too much in the goal to be attained.

This will result in a person being shabby at his work. Further, over-indulgence with the idea of attaining the goal will make a person blind towards righteousness or unrighteousness of the means. Such, a person will often end up having results that are quite unfavorable and sometimes opposite of what was intended.

That is why Swami Vivekananda cautions-

“Our great defect in life is that we are so much drawn to the ideal, the goal is so much more enchanting, so much more alluring, so much bigger in our mental horizon, that we lose sight of the details altogether.”

Any action that makes us go Godward is duty

As means are very vital to reach the goal, it is necessary to understand, what actions can serve as a means to attain liberation. Swami Vivekananda calls these actions “Duty”.

He says-

“Any action that makes us go Godward is a good action, and is our duty; any action that makes us go downward is evil, and is not our duty. From the subjective standpoint we may see that certain acts have a tendency to exalt and ennoble us, while certain other acts have a tendency to degrade and to brutalize us.”

Therefore, only those actions that constitute duty and lead us to exaltation can be considered as the means to Liberation. These are the duties that Hindu scriptures call “svadharma”. What is right and good for one may not be so for another person. Every person should understand his own inherent nature, his position and stage in life and perform those duties that take him towards Liberation.

Swami Vivekananda himself clarifies this-

“The Bhagavad-Gita frequently alludes to duties dependent upon birth and position in life. Birth and position in life and in society largely determine the mental and moral attitude of individuals towards the various activities of life. It is therefore our duty to do that work which will exalt and ennoble us in accordance with the ideals and activities of the society in which we are born. But it must be particularly remembered that the same ideals and activities do not prevail in all societies and countries”

But this does not mean that people perform any actions according to their fancies and call it dharma. Though svadharma is different for every person, there are universal principles that are common to everyone.

Swami Vivekananda says-

“There is, however, only one idea of duty which has been universally accepted by all mankind, of all ages and sects and countries, and that has been summed up in a Sanskrit aphorism thus: “Do not injure any being; not injuring any being is virtue, injuring any being is sin.” Therefore, people must decide their own svadharma, not on the basis of their fancies but on the basis of these universal principles and how their application will take them towards liberation.”

Work performed without attachment leads to highest realization. The next question is, how should one perform one’s duty?

Swami Vivekananda says-

“When you are doing any work, do not think of anything beyond. Do it as worship, as the highest worship, and devote your whole life to it for the time being. Thus, in the story, the Vyadha (hunter) and the woman did their duty with cheerfulness and wholeheartedness; and the result was that they became illuminated, clearly showing that the right performance of the duties of any station in life, without attachment to results, leads us to the highest realization of the perfection of the soul.”

Therefore, if the performance of duties in an unselfish manner, as an act of worship wherein the actions and its fruits are surrendered to God that leads to liberation. Hence, detached action is the key to liberation.

Swami Vivekananda summarizes this path of Karma-Yoga as-

“Karma-Yoga is the attaining through unselfish work of that freedom which is the goal of all human nature. Every selfish action, therefore, retards our reaching the goal, and every unselfish action takes us towards the goal; that is why the only definition that can be given of morality is this: That which is selfish is immoral, and that which is unselfish is moral.”

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Child Can not be Thrown Out of a Class on the “Whims and Fancies”: Delhi Court

A Delhi court has said that keeping students out of the classroom can put 'immense' pressure on their young, impressionist minds.

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A delhi court released an order saying schools can throw kids out of class
Following judgement on a 2012 case, a Delhi court says school authorities cannot keep students out of the class as it is mentally challenging for the kids.(representational image). Wikimedia
  • Delhi court says a child cannot be thrown out of class
  • Convicts face jail-term and fine for willfully neglecting student
  • The offense entails a maximum of six months in jail under the old law

New Delhi, July 27, 2017: The Director and Principal of a school were sentenced a two-month jail term by a Delhi court on July 26 for causing mental trauma to a seven-year-old student by keeping her out of the class.

The court has said that a child cannot be thrown out of class as per the “whims and fancies” of school authorities because this can cause “immense” trauma to the child. It also directed OPG World School director Kavitha Chandra and principal Rajwant Kaur to pay a compensation of Rs. 2.5 lakh each to the child, mentioned PTI report.

ALSO READ: How Children With Special Needs Found Place in Mumbai Classrooms

Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Ankur Jain held the accused guilty of deliberately neglecting the child, who was in class 3 at the time of the incident in 2012, causing her mental distress under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) Act.

However, the court has accepted the convicts’ plea to suspend their sentence for a month, granting them bail to enable them to file an appeal against the judgment before a superior court.

The offense entails a maximum of six months in jail under the old law, which after the amendment has been increased to three years.

[sociallocker][/sociallocker]

A FIR had been lodged in 2012 following a complaint by the father and an NGO claiming ill-treatment of the child by school management on April 4, 2012, after he had questioned it over an increase in fees and accessory charges. The complaint alleged that the child was incorrectly kept away from her classmates, and confined at places in the school devoid of any children, or activity.

The school authorities, however, claimed that the parents had requested for a transfer certificate (TC), which had been issued on April 23, 2012, and instead of collecting it, the child had been sent to school to attend classes. On claims of not feeling “comfortable”, and knowing her history of asthma, the child was sent to an infirmary to rest.

The court refused to accept this version of the school authorities. “The theory of the child being not well also cannot be believed as the attendant/nurse from the infirmary was never examined to prove the factum of the child not being well”, the court said, further adding that the child bared unnecessary mental suffering by not being allowed to sit in class.

Advocate Chandra Suman, who represented the child, believes this is a first of its kind judgment against school authorities for “mentally harassing a child.

– prepared by Soha Kala for NewsGram. Twitter @SohaKala


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Hindi Literature Festival in Delhi all set to give essence of pleasures through artistic culture of Language

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Books, Pixabay

New Delhi, March 18, 2017: A festival celebrating Hindi literature is all set to give youthful groups of onlookers an essence of the many pleasures contained inside the artistic culture of the language.

The festival titled, “Oxford Bookstore Hindi Sahitya Utsav” will be held at Oxford Bookstore here on March 19.

This event will serve as a platform for the people who are looking forward to explore this language through various discussions and intellectual sessions with the experts of hindi language.

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The day-long festival of Hindi writings and Hindi verses will be composed collaboratively with Rajkamal Prakashan samuh and upheld by Vani Prakashan, Hindi Yugum Prakashan, Westland Books, Rajpal and sons, Virtuous publications, and Kunwar Viyogi Remembrance trust.

According to the organisers, Hindi is a very expressive language. “In poetry and songs, it can convey emotions using simple and gentle words. It can also be used for exact and rational reasoning,” they said.

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“The occasion has been conceptualized as a tester’s menu, a sampler, a buffet of the many flavors contained in hindi language & writings, voices, subjects, tones and themes in Hindi,” they added.

The festival will start with an introductory note by Mrinaal Pandey on the topic “Bhasha aur samaj”. That will be followed by interactive sessions by Manisha pandey, Piyush Mishra, Divya Prakash Dubey, Urvashi Butalia many more literary personalities associated with Hindi literature.

It has been divided into sessions comprising readings and recitations on themes as diverse as wit, humour and satire, dissent, modernism, etc. (IANS)