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Before her triumphant performance in Meghna Gulzar’s “Raazi” is out for all to see, Alia Bhatt says she prefers to show the vulnerable and unpolished side of the characters she essays rather than shining like a perfect diamond on the big screen.
In an interview, Alia spoke about “Raazi”, her film journey and what’s on the plate next.
- You had a private screening of “Raazi”. What were the responses like?
I can’t be objective about my own work. This film is different from my others in that it has certain suspense element. All of us associated with the film knew what the surprise element was. So I was looking at the responses of my guests to see how they reacted to the surprise element. And it was all very heartening, very encouraging.
- Does people’s approval matter to you?
Of course it does. There are some people in my life whose opinion is really valuable to me. That apart, I make all my decisions myself. The scripts I read and decide to do are chosen by me. Of course, I sound off the scripts to some people close to me. But for better or worse, the final decision to do or not do a film is mine.
- You got to work with your mother (actress Soni Razdan) for the first time. What was that like?
- It was as though she had come visiting me on the sets and decided to join me in front of the camera. We were very professional in front of the camera. And like any mother and daughter when it was off. Sadly, it was mostly work work work. We hardly got any time to hang around together.
- “Raazi” is your first political film. And you play a selfless woman ready to die for her country. Do such people really exist anymore?
I am sure they do. That’s how civilisation moves forward. It is true that self-preservation is the first instinct of every human being. Would anyone put the country before one’s own life the way Sehmat does in “Raazi”? Yes, of course! What about the jawaans who put their lives in danger to protect the country? So yeah, I think it isn’t impossible to have that level of selflessness even in today’s day and age, provided there is the right impetus to look beyond yourself. And Sehmat finds that impetus.
- I believe “Raazi” required more preparation than all your other roles so far?
- I’d agree with that, yes. The closest I came to preparing this much was when I did “Udta Punjab”. For “Raazi”, I set aside a month before shooting. I cleaned up my Urdu language. I learnt how to drive a jonga (a jeep used by the Indian Army). I learnt some self-defence moves plus some techniques that spies have to learn before they are on their job. It was a lot of hard work and fun. But I think no amount of preparation can really prepare you for that moment when you finally face the camera.
- Do you prefer going into a character unrehearsed?
I prefer going into my character without polishing her flaws and imperfections. I don’t want to be this shining diamond on-screen. I like to show the vulnerable, unpolished side of my character.
- Speaking of brushing up your Urdu, was that hard for you to do?
- It was a new way of working. Normally we don’t pay that much attention to the way we speak our lines. But let me tell you, Ranveer Singh, my co-star in my next release ‘Gully Boys’, is very much into linguistic fine-tuning. He actually works on the voice, the tone, the way the dialogues are spoken for his characters. I like that.
- You have done some really entertaining ads with Ranveer Singh?
- Yeah, I enjoyed doing those with him. Even in those ads you can see how much he works on his voice and accent. But shooting ‘Gully Boys’ with Ranveer is a different experience altogether. Zoya Akhtar (the director), Ranveer and I had loads of fun.
- Do you also play a rap singer in ‘Gully Boys’ like Ranveer does. Are you a Muslim character again?
- No I am not a musician in ‘Gully Boys’. As for the way I look, I leave it to Zoya to explain all that when they are ready.
- Zoya would be your third female director, fourth if we count “Sangharsh” which you did as a child with Tanuja Chandra. How different is working with Gauri Shinde, Meghna Gulzar and Zoya as compared with your other directors?
No different at all. There is absolutely no difference between working with male and female directors. I don’t think we should evaluate talent according to the individual’s gender. If you are referring to women as more sensitive directors, then let me remind you, my father Mahesh Bhatt made some very sensitive films like “Arth”, “Saaransh” and “Zakhm”. So I won’t go with a gender division of directorial abilities.
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- Six years as a leading lady. How do you look back at the frenetic rush of projects and the stardom that you’ve obtained? Are you exhausted? Do you need a break?
- Not at all. In fact, I am more enthused now than ever before. I love that rush of adrenaline that I feel when I start a film. I also love promoting my films.
- Would you miss the limelight when you are no longer in it?
- Of course I know a day would come when it won’t be there anymore. It is therefore important to not take it too seriously, to enjoy it while it lasts. I am having a blast.
- Have you signed anything new?
Actually, I have. But I leave the announcement to the producers. At the moment I have ‘Gully Boys’, which is complete. Now one year would be taken up with ‘Bramhastra’ and ‘Kalank’, both Karan Johar’s productions which is like home to me. (BollywoodCountry)
High drama was witnessed in Kanpur Dehat for over an hour when a man, upset over his wife's alleged affair with a local man, climbed the tower with his children and threatened to commit suicide. The incident took place on Monday near Gandhi Nagar in Akbarpur, when the man threatened to commit suicide after throwing his kids down from a height of nearly 40-feet. Chaos prevailed around the area and the locals informed the police that rushed to the spot.
After about half-an-hour of convincing, the police managed to bring him and his children down. The man told the police that his wife's affair was going on with his neighbor. He had complained to the police, but no action was taken. Police said that as per the man, his wife had developed an illicit relationship with a man, living nearby their house. "As per the man, in his absence, his neighbor visited his house often. He said that he had reprimanded his neighbor many times, but to no avail," said the police.
The man had complained to the police, but no action was taken. | Pixabay
The man had also lodged a complaint with the police but no action was taken. On the other hand, Akbarpur police said that on the basis of the complaint, action for breach of peace has been taken against the neighbor accused of luring his wife. Circle officer (CO) Akbarpur Arun Kumar said that the police are trying to sort out the issue. "Whatever action is appropriate will be taken," the official added. (IANS/SP)
(Keywords : Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh, man, wife, alleged, affair, children, India, police, neighbor, complaint, suicide, accuse, drama.)
The US forces continued their bombardment of buildings and institutions in Syria's northeastern Hasakah province, as part of their alleged manhunt of Islamic State (IS) fugitives, state news agency SANA reported. The US forces are shelling buildings and public institutions on Tuesday in the vicinity of the Sina'a prison in the Gweiran neighborhood in Hasakah "on the pretext of hunting down IS militants who fled the prison," said SANA.
The Syrian Foreign Ministry has slammed the US airstrikes as civilian casualties have been reported. | Wikimedia Commons
The shelling came in tandem with waves of raids by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) to homes in the surrounding areas, rounding up many civilians and taking them to unknown locations, the state news agency added. On January 20, IS inmates inside the Sina'a prison, which is controlled by the SDF, started a riot that was coordinated with IS militants from outside, who detonated the prison's gates with two booby-trapped vehicles, succeeding to free some prisoners.
The incident triggered clashes between IS and the SDF as well as US airstrikes on the areas, where the IS fugitives could have sought shelter in, Xinhua news agency reported. The clashes and airstrikes are still ongoing as the SDF has so far failed to contain the situation and storm the prison. The Syrian Foreign Ministry has slammed the US airstrikes as civilian casualties have been reported. Hasakah province is largely controlled by the US-backed SDF, while certain areas, particularly in the city of Qamishli, are still under the control of the Syrian government. (IANS/ MBI)
(Keywords: US forces, shelling, bombarding, syria, islamic state, civilian casualties, qamishli, tandem, syrian democratic forces)
The circulating avian influenza outbreaks, including in India, do not seem to pose the 'high' risk but surveillance and biosecurity measures are necessary to reduce spillover risk between poultry and wild birds, a UN-backed scientific task force said. Throughout the past autumn and current winter in the northern hemisphere, multiple avian influenza outbreaks, caused predominantly by the H5N1 HPAI virus, plus other subtypes, including H5N8, have occurred in India, the UK, the Netherlands and Israel with the ever recorded mortality of the Svalbard barnacle geese in Solway Coast.
The Scientific Task Force on Avian Influenza and Wild Birds, co-convened by the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) and the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), on Monday recommended that surveillance and biosecurity measures are reinforced to reduce spillover risk between poultry and wild birds. The Task Force has convened and produced recommendations and guidance for authorities and managers of countries affected or at risk. Wild birds, including globally threatened species, are victims of HPAI viruses causing avian influenza. Affected sites also include areas of international relevance for conservation such as protected wetlands.
More than 2,400 migratory water birds died in the Pong wetlands in Himachal last year because of avian influenza. | Unsplash
It is essential that authorities with responsibility for animal health apply the One Health approach for communicating and addressing avian influenza. That means recognising the health of humans, domestic and wild animals, plants, and the wider environment and acting with a coordinated and unified approach. The Task Force reminds authorities of their international obligations to ensure their response to the pathogenic virus does not include the culling of wild birds, nor actions that would cause damage to natural ecosystems, especially wetlands.
Ruth Cromie, who coordinated the work of the Task Force and the production of the statement, said: "Avian influenza represents a One Health issue threatening health across the board. The highly pathogenic viruses are still relatively new in wild birds and this winter's high levels of mortality remind us of their vulnerability and that working to promote healthy wildlife benefits us all." H5N1 is currently the avian influenza lineage most found in Africa and Eurasia in both poultry and wild birds. The wide range of wild birds affected include wildfowl, waders, gulls, cranes, grebes, herons, pelicans, gamebirds, corvids and raptors (diurnal and nocturnal), in addition to sporadic cases in mammals such as red fox (Vulpes vulpes), Eurasian otter (Lutra lutra) and harbor Phoca vitulina and grey seal Halichoerus grypus.
Consider occupational exposure, e.g. those working on poultry culling operations. | Unsplash
In terms of human health, the currently circulating H5N1 HPAI viruses do not seem to pose the same zoonotic risk as the 'original' Asian lineage H5N1 (clade 2.2 and their derivatives plus clade 188.8.131.52b H5N6 viruses currently in China). In general, the risk can be considered low, recognising that some agencies now consider occupational exposure, e.g. those working on poultry culling operations, as low or moderate. In India, several instances of bird flu were reported in 2021. More than 2,400 migratory water birds, and almost half of them being endangered bar-headed goose, died in the Pong wetlands in Himachal Pradesh last year and that avian influenza (H5N1) was the cause.
Besides the bar-headed goose, the other species that died were the shoveler, the river tern, the pochard and the common teal. An 11-year-old boy died at All India Institute of Medical Sciences in Delhi last year due to avian influenza, country's first fatality. India reported the first outbreak of avian influenza in 2006. RSPB Scotland is calling for an emergency local moratorium restricting shooting on the Solway for the rest of the wildfowling season. It calls for urgent action to reduce the devastating impacts of avian influenza. New statistics from the most recent counts show that the UK is this winter experiencing the worst outbreak of this deadly disease on record, with migratory geese which 'over winter' on the Solway being the hardest hit.
According to RSPB Scotland, the latest population counts of the Svalbard barnacle goose show a drop in numbers from 43,703 in November last year to 27,133 in this month's count. This represents a decline of 38 per cent in the Svalbard breeding population of this species from winter 2020-21. CMS Executive Secretary Amy Fraenkel said: "Through late 2021 and early 2022 there have been numerous outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N1, with severe impacts on migratory birds. "The CMS Secretariat responded by convening the Scientific Task Force on Avian Influenza and Wild Birds together with the FAO. We are pleased to share its advice and key recommendations for countries affected or at risk, and look forward to continuing our collaborative work to minimize risks to humans, poultry and wild populations of migratory birds." (IANS/SP)
(Keywords : avian, influenza, surveillance, United Nation, scientists, breeding, population, birds, affected, countries, poultry, migratory, health, issue, virus, responsibility, international, ecosystem.)