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In 1999, as part of a British Council showcase programme, I travelled to the Edinburgh Festival and that set in motion the idea of creating platforms for Indian contemporary and classical art forms across the world.
Working closely with the Festival Fringe, the International Film Festival, the Edinburgh Tattoo and the Edinburgh International Festival, we created an annual offering of work, enlarging our presence from six productions to 16 in a short period. Many thought we were mad, but our long-term objectives paid off in more ways than one. We presented an array of artists: Aditi Mangaldas, Daksha Sheth, Birju Maharaj and Malavika Sarukkai. Mrigaya, the world music group which went on to win the Herald Angel Award at Edinburgh in 2002 and a 5-star review from The Scotsman, Indian Ocean, Lillette Dubey and the Primetime Theatre Group, Adi Shakti, Lushin Dubey, Dadi Pudumjee and the Ishara Theatre Company, are some more names I recollect who were on our entourage. Shah Rukh Khan made his way to Edinburgh in a celebration of the best of Indian arts.
It took some convincing to get the Edinburgh International Film Festival to agree to move Shah Rukh’s “In Conversation” with Nasreen Munni Kabir to a larger venue. They cited examples of having presented the biggest stars, including Sean Connery, in a 300-seat venue. Tickets went on sale and sold out minutes after the box office opened, only to be resold at £100 a ticket! The news made it to The Times front page and the festival organisers, somewhat embarrassed, moved the venue to a 1,000-seat auditorium. Huge crowds gathered at the festival venue. At the after-party, we had to barricade Shah Rukh in a corner, with tables and bouncers guarding him. The Edinburgh festivals hadn’t quite seen something like this before! They were ignorant of work from India as very few shows had ever travelled out.
The year we presented Ishara Puppet Theatre’s “Transposition”, the infamous liquid bomb incident took place at Heathrow as we landed. Having being evacuated from the airport and shipped to Gatwick, we finally arrived in Edinburgh after a 16-hour delay, only to find that 24 of our 30 outsized puppet boxes and bags had been lost! Each day was spent at the airport warehouse searching for luggage. Five days and three cancelled shows later, the BBC ran a story on our predicament. Hours later, a passenger telephoned Dana Macleod, our coordinator in Edinburgh, to say strange-shaped bags were going around the carousel with stickers bearing her name. The show was back on the road!
Investments in shows and festivals in those early days meant that year-on-year, our balance sheets were red. Co-presenting with existing festivals led to some degree of success, with annual presentations in Singapore, Wellington, Perth and Melbourne. Much of this was a result of networking at the Edinburgh festivals and setting out a plan for collaborations, a strategy we adopted for the next few years. As our footprint grew through Asia to include Hong Kong, Korea and Indonesia, we began to look westwards.
Prompted by our then Consul General, Navdeep Suri, we set up the Shared History Festival in South Africa, to bring about an awareness of a new India and the many opportunities it offered, amongst the one-million strong Indian diaspora. We collaborated with the city of Johannesburg’s annual festival, Arts Alive, to bring about resurgence in the crime-infested Central Business District (CBD) area of New Town. The city planned to use the arts to re-populate the CBD and reduce crime and bring back the local populace. With audiences returning to theatres, New Town has now seen a rise in property prices, new businesses opening and residential blocks being re-built. In Durban and Johannesburg, the arts community and the diaspora who had earlier rejected everything Indian began rediscovering and celebrating their roots. Driven by their need to trace their history many have, since then, travelled back to India.
We sought new opportunities in Austria, Germany, Italy and Spain, working through agents and driving box office sales to make projects economically viable.
We produced “Bollywood Love Story”, a musical, to reach new audiences. We were amazed to discover how small towns like Einbeck, Stuttgart, Eindhoven and larger ones like Florence, Barcelona and Stockholm had a huge appetite to celebrate and embrace Indian culture. Local arts-attending audiences came to our celebration dressed in Indian attire, belting out words of songs they didn’t understand and eating their versions of Indian food. Exporting Bollywood should be the mainstay of our foreign missions in order to capture hearts and minds of people across the world. From Russia to Egypt and China through Canada I have seen an increasing appetite to present and understand the best of Indian culture.
In today’s polarised world, it is imperative that we use the arts as a window into other cultures, traditions, history and a way of working. The arts know no language and have a universality that allows the viewer to seamlessly absorb and appreciate new experiences. A few years ago, the Globe Theatre, as part of the Cultural Olympiad, commissioned an array of exciting productions played out from Afghanistan and India to Romania and Belarus. Each was distinct and brought to the fore, cultural differences and yet was bound together by the universal language of theatre and performance. Audiences who attended may not have understood the nuances of the languages, but this did not detract them from enjoying what they were witnessing. Pia Behrupiya by Company Theatre was a brilliant piece of original stagecraft. Based on Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night”, the ensemble cast sang, danced and created magic at the Globe. Last year as part of “India70@UK” we were able to present some of the finest of contemporary theatre, dance and music at premium arts venues including the Royal Festival Hall, Barbican Theatre and the Globe.
As the Indian economy continues to grow, the world is curious about India and everything Indian. From exotic locations: Ladhak to Hampi and Ajanta & Ellora to Murshidabad and Varanasi, to a diverse, dynamic and an extremely alive cultural matrix, we have a lot to offer. India needs to create a counter-narrative to that of rapes, murders and religious extremism, absconding businessmen and less then scrupulous business practices that make headlines the world over. The arts can be an anchor for this emerging narrative; not only do they create jobs but also educate and enlighten.
As the third industrial revolution fades away and we look to the fourth, which will be the coming together of creativity and technology, India is well-placed to be a world leader. Unfortunately, our policies and government are yet to seize the moment and set in place incentives and a route map to the future.
(In our “Shifting Sands of Culture” series, Sanjoy K. Roy, the third of five noted personalities addresses the challenge of taking Indian arts abroad in this article written exclusively for IANS. Sanjoy K. Roy, an entrepreneur of the arts, is the Managing Director of Teamwork Arts, which produces over 25 highly acclaimed festivals across 40 cities worldwide and includes the world’s largest free literary gathering — the annual ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival) (IANS)
India opener Rohit Sharma, wicket-keeper Rishabh Pant and off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin have been included in the ICC Men's Test team of the year for 2021. New Zealand captain Kane Williamson has been given the charge of captaining the eleven which also has his countryman and Player of the Match in the inaugural World Test Championship final, Kyle Jamieson, as well. Apart from three Indians and two New Zealanders, England captain Joe Root, Australia's Marnus Labuschagne, Sri Lanka's Dimuth Karunaratne, and Pakistani trio of Fawad Alam, Hasan Ali and Shaheen Afridi are in the eleven as well.
Both of the centuries were memorable knocks in contrasting conditions against England. AaDil / Unsplash
It is Ashwin's fifth appearance and Pant's second time in the Test team of the year honors while it is the first time Sharma is in the coveted eleven of Test cricket. 2021 was the year when Sharma came into his own as an opener in the longest format of the game for India. He cracked 906 runs in the calendar year at an average of 47.68 with two centuries and four half-centuries. Both of the centuries were memorable knocks in contrasting conditions against England -- one at home in Chennai and the other in overcast conditions away from home at the Oval. Though Sharma missed out on the recent Test tour to South Africa, he will have a key role to play for India in 2022.
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Pant, in 2021, further established himself as India's first-choice wicketkeeper-batter in all three formats, with his continuous development especially coming to the fore in the Test arena. He scored 748 runs in 12 matches at an average of 39.36 with a memorable ton against England at Ahmedabad, a 97 against Australia, and an unbeaten 89 against the same opposition at The Gabba in leading India to a memorable Border-Gavaskar Trophy victory by 2-1. He also accounted for 39 dismissals in 23 innings, with his glovework continuing to improve. Recently, in Cape Town, Pant scored a high-quality hundred despite India losing the series to South Africa 2-1.
Rohit cracked 906 runs in the calendar year at an average of 47.68.Wikipedia
Ashwin, the off-spinner bamboozled many batters with his sheer wizardry to be the leading wicket-taker in Test cricket in 2021. Ashwin scalped up 54 wickets in nine matches at an average of 16.64, making a big impact in the home series against England and New Zealand. He also chipped in with 355 runs at an average of 25.35, which included a vital century against England at his home ground in Chennai. ICC Men's Test Team of the Year: Dimuth Karunaratne, Rohit Sharma, Marnus Labuschagne, Joe Root, Kane Williamson (captain), Fawad Alam, Rishabh Pant (wicket-keeper), Ravichandran Ashwin, Kyle Jamieson, Hasan Ali, and Shaheen Afridi. (IANS/SP)
(Keywords : cricket, Test, India, mans, Rohit Sharma, Rishabh Pant, Ravichandran Ashwin, batter, bowler, wicket-keeper, ICC, honor, century, wickets, team, spinner, opener, dismissals.)
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BY DEVIKANANDA JI
ॐ पितृदेवार्चितभूम्यै नमः
(Piṫa: Father; Archiṫa: One who is honored or worshipped)
In Sanskrit, the word pita means- one who protects. The Taiṫṫirīya Upanishad declares that the father is only next to the mother and should be honored like a god; without the father, you don't exist. This is proper since he gives birth, education and culture to his offspring. According to the smrutis, it is the father who performs the upanayana sacrament and imparts the sacred Gāyatrī mantra to his sons. According to some dharma śhāstra works, the following are pitās or fathers:- anna dāta (one who gives food); bhayatrāta (one who protects from dangers); śvaśura (father-in-law); janita (father) upaneta (one who performs upanayana).
Only in the Vedic tradition do we equate the father with god and honor and respect him. He is responsible for your birth and without his dhāṫu (sperm) you don't exist. He also provides food, shelter, and a roof over your head. He provides worldly knowledge for you to survive in the world. Without a father, you don't have a wife or mother because without him, they also don't exist. Every human being according to Hinduism, is said to be born under three ruṇas or debts. Among these is pitruruṇam. This ruṇa can be paid by marrying according to dharma and having a son who will perform śrāddhas to the pitrus or departed ancestors, thereby appeasing them. For Hindus, the father is honored and worshipped as a god and his children serve him in his old age.
From Vedic times to the beginning of Kaliyuga, and even today there are children who follow the father's occupation and keep the family business or tradition. From the father we inherit some traits, gotram, and family name. A father also has the burden and responsibility to maintain his life style according to dharmaśhāstrās because his children are going to look up to him and imitate him. In the great epic Mahābhārata, Yakṣha (a semi-divine being) asks Yudhishṭara, the eldest of the Pāndavās what the ātman (soul) is for the father. Yudhishṭara replies that 'putra ātmā manushyaśya' meaning- the son is the ātman for the father. He adds that -father is higher than the sky.
Our mother land has the culture of honoring and worshiping the father and is 'Pitrudevārchita Bhūmi'.
(Key Words: Father, God, Family, Vedas, Vedic, Tradition, Hinduism)
Bollywood actor Arjun Kapoor was never really keen on exploring horror comedy but the story of 'Bhoot Police' pushed him to try his hand at the genre. The actor said, "It's not a genre that I was looking for, script-wise. When I heard it, when I read it, what worked for me was the camaraderie between the brothers, the friction and the banter between them. So I quite liked the friction, the brotherhood and at the same time the love-hate relationship and the witty tone."
The film is set for its world TV premiere on Star Gold.Unsplash
He further said, "There was a certain canvas and a certain color created in the script itself, so my decision to say yes to the film came from the director's vision, and thankfully it came at a point where I knew the passion Saif had, also because everybody knew in the industry he is so bullish on the script." On his camaraderie with Arjun in the film, Saif mentioned, "Arjun and I have a relationship off-camera too; he is a family friend and we have known each other for ages! On camera, we don't take each other for granted and bring out the best we can. We had a good time working together and that shows in the movie."
The film is set for its world TV premiere on Star Gold, sharing his excitement for the premiere, Arjun said, "I cannot wait for the audiences to enjoy the World TV Premiere of our movie, 'Bhoot Police' on 23 January, Sunday at 8 PM on Star Gold." The 'Ishaqzaade' actor added, "'Bhoot Police' is an ideal family watch. Usually, horror-comedies are not children-friendly. But Bhoot Police is the kind of film the whole family can watch together over dinner. It is not often that you get a film that is mildly frightening and can be watched with the whole family. The kids will definitely enjoy watching the movie with their family!"
The actor said, "It's not a genre that I was looking for, script-wise."Unsplash
Speaking about her role in 'Bhoot Police', Yami Gautam said, "The character Maya that I play in 'Bhoot Police' was physically challenging. We had to shoot under tough weather conditions because the cold was bitter. There were a lot of outdoor sequences and keeping the light and weather in mind, we had to pack a lot within a day, every day." She continued, "Whenever I am in Himachal, I feel a sense of belonging; when I see the sunrise, those snow-capped mountains despite long tiring night shoots. It is my birthplace and shall always have a special place in my heart." (IANS/SP)
(Keywords : Arjun Kapoor, Yami Gautam, Saif Ali Khan, Bhoot Police, horror comedy, challenging, weather, mountains, genre, script, director, camera, movie.)
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