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Mumbai Film Fest Opens amid Protests Over banning Pakistani Artists

The Pakistani classic "Jago Hua Savera," or "Awake, It's Dawn," got dropped from the Mumbai Film Festival schedule

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Bollywood film maker Karan Johar, seen in this June 2016 photo, released a video message asking Hindu nationalist protesters to not disrupt the Oct. 28 release of his big-budget romantic drama 'Ae Dil Hai Mushkil,' or 'Difficulties of the Heart,' which features Pakistani actor Fawad Khan in a small role. (Representational image) VOA

India’s glitziest film festival opened this week to fanfare and fury, as Indians protested the inclusion of Pakistani artists.

With a ceremony in Mumbai’s iconic and newly refurbished Royal Opera House, the celebration of Bollywood and international film kicked off Thursday amid the sober announcement that at least one screening was cancelled.

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The Pakistani classic “Jago Hua Savera,” or “Awake, It’s Dawn,” was dropped from the Mumbai Film Festival schedule after a local organisation claimed it would cause public outrage.

Even a public plea from Bollywood filmmaker Karan Johar could not stem the calm. Johar released a video message asking Hindu nationalist protesters to not disrupt the Oct. 28 release of his big-budget romantic drama “Ae Dil Hai Mushkil,” or “Difficulties of the Heart,” which features Pakistani actor Fawad Khan in a small role.

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“I beseech you to know one thing, that over 300 Indian people in my crew have put their blood, sweat and tears into my film,” he said. “I don’t think it’s fair to them to face any kind of turbulence.” Johar pledged to avoid using Pakistani actors or crewmen in future movies.

Tensions between Pakistan and India escalated last month after a deadly rebel attack on an Indian military base. India blamed Islamabad for backing the separatist rebels and providing them with training and arms. Pakistan denied the allegation, saying it offers only moral support to the rebels fighting for Kashmir’s independence or merger with Pakistan.

As the two governments trade increasingly acrimonious barbs, people in both film-crazy countries have moved to boycott each other’s films.

Pakistani cinema’s stopped showing Bollywood fare in their theatres weeks ago. And a blanket ban against showing Indian content on Pakistani television networks and radio stations took effect Friday. India’s government has not issued a blanket ban but said it would make such decisions on a case-by-case basis.

The Mumbai festival organisers this week said they dropped the Pakistani black-and-white classic “Awake” due to “the current situation.” Meanwhile, the regional political party Maharashtra Navnirman Samiti threatened to disturb any attempts to screen any film involving Pakistani talent.

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Many of the Bollywood glitterati attending the festival criticized the outrage and said protests were not the solution.

“Of course you have to stand by the nation, but when it comes to a movie … there are so many Indian actors who have already put their blood and sweat into it, I think they ( protesters ) should think about it,” Bollywood actor Riteish Deshmukh said.

Film director Zoya Akhtar called out the hypocrisy of protesters shutting down films while ignoring the ongoing cricket matches involving teams from both countries.

Bollywood superstar Aamir Khan also said the ruckus was “unnecessary,” and that film audiences should be free to decide what they want to see.

“People will see the film and decide for themselves, thank you very much,” Khan told reporters.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s political party along with state authorities in Maharashtra, of which Mumbai is the capital, have issued statements assuring that violent protests would not be tolerated.

Meanwhile, the weeklong film fest was screening some 175 films, documentaries and short films from more than 50 countries at venues across west-coast city.

The lineup included Cannes’ prize winner, the British drama “I, Daniel Blake,” as well as other international films including Oliver Assayas’ “Personal Shopper,” Romanian filmmaker Cristian Mungiu’s family drama “Graduation,” and Pablo Larraín’s “Neruda” about the life of the Chilean poet. (VOA)

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Indo-Pak Peace Talks Futile Unless Islamabad Sheds Links with Terrorism, says Study

A Study by a U.S. think tank calls India and Pakistan talks futile, until Pakistan changes its approach.

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India and Pakistan
India and Pakistan. Wikimedia.

A Top United States of America (U.S.) think tank, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace called the relations between India and Pakistan futile, unless Islamabad changes its approach and sheds its links with Jihadi terrorism.

A report “Are India and Pakistan Peace Talks Worth a Damn”, authored by Ashley J Tellis stated that such a move supported by foreign countries would be counterproductive and misguided.

The report suggests that International community’s call for the India and Pakistan talks don’t recognize that the tension between the two countries is not actually due to the sharp differences between them, but due to the long rooted ideological, territorial and power-political hatred. The report states that these antagonisms are fueled by Pakistani army’s desire to subvert India’s powerful global position.

Tellis writes that Pakistan’s hatred is driven by its aim to be considered and treated equal to India, despite the vast differences in their achievements and capabilities.

Also ReadMilitant Groups in Pakistan Emerge as Political Parties : Can Violent Extremism and Politics Co-exist? 

New Delhi, however, has kept their stance clear and mentioned that India and Pakistan talks cannot be conducted, until, the latter stops supporting terrorism, and the people conducting destructive activities in India.

The report further suggests that Pakistan sees India as a genuine threat and continuously uses Jihadi terrorism as a source to weaken India. The report extends its support to India’s position and asks other international powers, including the U.S., to extend their support to New Delhi.

Earlier in September, Union External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj in the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) slammed Pakistan for its continuous terror activities. She attacked the country by saying that India has produced engineers, doctors, and scholars; Pakistan has produced terrorists.

Sushma Swaraj further said that when India is being recognised in the world for its IT and achievements in the space, Pakistan is producing Terrorist Organisations like Lashkar-e-Taiba. She said that Pakistan is the world’s greatest exporter of havoc, death and inhumanity.

-by Megha Acharya  of NewsGram. Megha can be reached at @ImMeghaacharya. 

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Monica Bellucci Visiting India For Mami fest | Mumbai Film Festival

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Monica Bellucci visits india for Mami Fest
Image: Wikimedia

Monical Bellucci Visiting India:

Mumbai, Sep 15 (IANS) Globally known Italian actress Monica Bellucci will head to Mumbai in October to be a part of the ‘Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival with Star‘. She is very excited to make her first visit to the country.

Known for movies like “The Matrix Reloaded”, “The Matrix Revolutions”, “The Passion of the Christ” and for being the oldest Bond girl at 50 in “Spectre”, Bellucci will also be honoured with a special award at the gala.

Monica Belluci says: “I am very touched and honoured to receive an award by the Mumbai Film Festival as well as presenting some of my films there. It is very exciting to come to India for the first time.

Monica Belluci visiting india
IANS Image

She also thanked the organisers for extending the invitation to her.

Anupama Chopra, the festival director, told IANS: “Monica Bellucci is an incredible actor, and to my mind, the most beautiful woman in the world. I’m so thrilled that she can come and be with us at the festival.”

Among Bellucci’s films that will be screened are “On The Milky Road” and “Irreversible”.

According to a source in the know of developments, filmmaker Anurag Kashyap will be in conversation with Bellucci at a session during the gala.

Also, Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan is likely to host a party for the actress.

The 19th edition of the movie jamboree, run by Mumbai Academy of Moving Image (MAMI) will get underway here on October 12 and will run till October 18 across seven venues here.

Over 220 films from 49 countries and filmed in 51 languages are part of the line-up, which will begin with Kashyap’s “Mukkabaaz (The Brawler)”.

Popular director John Madden, whose “Shakespeare In Love” had won an Oscar, and who helmed “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” series — widely shot in India — will serve as head of the international jury at the festival. (source:IANS)

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Raja Chari: Indian American Astronaut chosen by NASA

Raja Chari, an American of Indian descent, has been chosen by NASA as one of the 12 astronauts for a new space mission.

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Raja Chari. Twitter.
  • Raja Chari is an American of Indian descent chosen by NASA for the new batch of astronauts
  • Currently, he is a Lieutenant Colonel in the US Air Force
  • Chari will have to go through two years of astronaut training which begins in August

June 06, 2017: NASA has chosen 12 astronauts out of a record-breaking 18,300 applications for upcoming space missions. An American of Indian descent, Raja Chari, has successfully earned his spot in the top 12.

The astronauts were selected on the basis of expertise, education, and physical tests. This batch of 12 astronauts is the largest group selected by NASA since two decades. The group consisting of 7 men and 5 women surpassed the minimum requirements of NASA.

Born in Waterloo, Iowa, Chari graduated from Air Force Academy in 1999 with a bachelor’s degree in Astronautical Engineering and Engineering Science. He went on to complete his master’s in Aeronautics and Astronautics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The astronaut is also a graduate of US Naval Test Pilot School.

Currently, Raja Chari is a Lieutenant Colonel in the US Air Force. He is the commander of 461st Flight Test Squadron and director of the F-35 Integrated Test Force at Edwards Air Force Base in California.

After Late Kalpana Chawla, Lt. Col. Raja Chari is the second Indian American astronaut chosen by NASA.

The 12 astronauts will have to go through two years of training. Upon completion, they will be assigned their missions ranging from research at the International Space Station, launching from American soil on spacecraft by private companies, to flying on deep space missions on NASA’s Orion Spacecraft.

The US Vice-President Mike Pence visited the Johnson Space Centre in Houston to announce and congratulate the new batch. Pence also said that President Trump is “fully committed” to NASA’s missions in space.

by Saksham Narula of NewsGram. Twitter: @Saksham2393