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Actor Ranveer Singh completes 10 years in Bollywood on Thursday, and looking back at his period of struggle he says the phase was not easy at all.
“My period of struggle was not easy at all. There was a recession going on at that time, the movie business was not very prolific and people were making fewer films. Therefore, opportunities for actors were far less than for actors today. We didn’t have these web platforms, we didn’t have OTT platforms. So, good opportunities were hard to come by,” said Ranveer, who made his debut with the 2010 romantic drama “Band Baajaa Baaraat”.
The actor, who is today one of Bollywood’s highest-paid stars, added: “For around three and a half years, I was just groping in the dark, attempting various avenues, trying to get a break, trying to get a foot in the door, doing the rounds of various offices with my portfolio looking for work and not knowing whether it would ever happen. It was far-fetched for someone in my position to think that I’d get a premier opportunity as a performer to act as a lead in Hindi films. It was a million to one shot but I took it.”
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Ranveer said that with the support and love of his parents, he mustered up the “fortitude to keep going”.
“I was hungry and sometimes foolish but also very persistent. I was 21 when I started trying and at 24 it happened for me in a spectacular fashion. Those tales are memoir-worthy. I almost debuted with a side role in ‘Patiala House’. I almost did some small budget films that Anurag was directly/indirectly affiliated with. Anurag (Kashyap) Sir and Nikhil (Advani) Sir are probably as astounded as I am about how things started and how they are going,” he recalled.
The date of December 10 will always be special for Ranveer.
“The biggest milestone of all is when I got selected for my first film, (it is) a moment that is simply unforgettable. I get goosebumps when I think about it even now. For somebody from my kind of background to get such a big break was beyond my wildest imagination. The stuff dreams are made of, really,” he said.
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“After that one incredible twist of fate, it has been a journey of learning, growing, and evolving as a creative person, a performer, and a public figure. With every passing year and with every film I have learned something more about the craft, more about myself, and tried to keep bettering myself and improving my set of skills.”
Ranveer says with every film and through every character, he hopes to explore his own being a little bit more.
“Hopefully somewhere along the way in the course of becoming other people, I’ll be able to understand myself better. Every experience and every film has left me enriched, so I’m extremely grateful for each and every opportunity,” he said.
In his decade long journey in Bollywood, Ranveer has given hits such as “Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-Leela”, “Dil Dhadakne Do”, “Bajirao Mastani”, “Padmaavat”, “Gully Boy” and “Simmba”.
Want to read more in Hindi? Checkout: सोनू सूद बने टॉप ग्लोबल एशियन सेलिब्रिटी 2020
Did he think he would achieve this level of success within a decade? “Not at all. Right from the Friday of my debut, the kind of things that have happened to me, the beats of my career, and my journey has been such that it is beyond my wildest imagination. I could not even dream of the things that have happened to me, with me, and around me,” Ranveer replied.
He added: “I can’t claim to have had the vision to dream up something like this. Maine socha ki kuch na kuch ho jayega, Lekin aisa hoga kabhi nahi socha tha (thought something would come my way, never imagined it would be so good). They say you should dare to dream big but I couldn’t have dreamt this big myself. So, if I stop to think and take stock of how things have transpired and where I am today, it feels absolutely unreal to me.”
Is Ranveer someone who thinks too much about legacy? “Yes, every day I am working towards leaving behind a legacy, a filmography that I can be proud of. I want to make a significant contribution to the arts and inspire other artists, the same way my senior artists have inspired me. We all wish to be remembered in history. I think it’s natural for us societal humans. I want to be remembered as a thorough entertainer, as a versatile actor, someone whose body of work constitutes some of the best cinema in our country.”
Ranveer knows these are tall ambitions but he is putting in work every single day to hopefully have a fulfilling run at the movies.
“If I distill my ambitions further, I would say that I just want to entertain people, that’s all. I would like to alleviate the agony of existence by offering people some cathartic relief. My calling is to be an entertainer and I believe that God is guiding me as I fulfill my destiny and answer my calling.” (IANS)
Tenali Ramakrishna, or Tenali Raman as he is more popularly known is Birbal's equivalent in South India. A court jester and a scholar exuding great wisdom, Tenali Raman was known as one of the greatest courtiers in King Krishnadevaraya's court.
The Vijayanagar Empire ruled a large part of South India between 1336 and 1646. In the 16th century, the kingdom rose to prominence under the eminent leadership of King Krishnadevaraya. His continuous victories against his enemies ensured a successful and peaceful reign for his subjects. As a patron of art and literature, many crafts and cultural assets thrived in the empire.
Krishnadevaraya's beloved courtier, Tenali Raman is the finest example of the splendour of the Vijayanagar empire. He was born in Tenali, a town in Andhra Pradesh. He lived here until he lost his father, after which his mother brought him to Vijayanagar. He was discovered for his excellent wit and wisdom, and appointed in the court. He was one of the king's ashtadiggajas (collective name for the eight poets and scholars).
A statue of Tenali Ramakrishna near a Municipal Office in Andhra Pradesh Image source: wikimedia commons
Tenali Raman as a scholar, published great texts of wisdom, which have now become artefacts of the Kingdom of Vijayanagara. But his fame does not lie in these achievements. He is known for the mischievous jester that mythical folklore portrays him to be. Through stories, many writers have used jokes to impart wisdom and morals to many generations of people. The stories of Tenali Raman are almost legendary in the Southern peninsula.
Textbooks have been written with his moral stories in mind, and these days, many self-help book are also incorporating his wisdom. His most popular stories are, 'Mother Tongue', 'Cursed Face', 'Saluting the Donkeys' and many more. Through these stories, Tenali Raman, in some way, brought about social justice. Perhaps this is why he is most beloved by many people even today.
Keywords: Tenali Raman, Vijayanagar empire, Krishnadevaraya, Jester, Wisdom
It must be noted that different religions and societies in Southeast Asia have alternative narratives of Ramayana, one of the greatest epic.
Here are some of the versions of Ramayana!
Dasaratha Jakarta: The Buddhist Version
Interestingly, this version of Ramayana does not mention Ravana at all and in fact, there’s no mention of Sita’s abduction, too. In this version, Dasaratha is the king of Benaras and not Ayodhya. Also, Rama and Sita leaves kingdom and go to the Himalayas and not forests. Then, after twelve years, Rama and Sita return back to Benaras and get married.
Paumachariya: The Jaina Version
In this version, Lakshamana is the killer of Ravana and not Rama. Here, Rama is an ardent follower of Jainism, and so he cannot be the killer of Ravana. Also, this version states an army of warrior and not monkeys, as stated in Valmiki’s Ramayana. Another interesting feature of this version is that Ramayana is not shown as a villain, rather a magnanimous king and follower of Jainism.
Gond Ramayani: The Gond Version
Gond is an adivasi clan belonging from Madhya Pradesh in India. Interestingly, in this version, the story begins from where Valmiki’s Ramayana ended; when Sita is rescued from captivity. Also, Bhima, one of the Pandavas from the epic of Mahabharata, is mentioned in this version. Unlike Valmiki’s Ramayana, Rama is not the protagonist in this version.
Ramakien: The Thai Version
This is considered as Thailand's national epic, and is still taught in some schools in the country. In this version, Ravana is shown as a learned scholar and a noble king in this version. Also, Ravana’s pursuit for Sita is depicted as true love. There are a lot of similarities between this version of Ramayana and Valmiki’s version, but this version lays a lot of emphasis on Hanuman.
When a baby is born in an Indian household-they invite hijra to shower the newborn with their blessings for their blessings confer fertility, prosperity, and long life on the child. But when that child grows up we teach them to avert their eyes when a group of hijras passes by, we pass on the behaviour of treating hijras as lesser humans to our children. Whenever a child raises a question related to gender identity or sexuality they are shushed down. We're taught to believe that anything "deviant" and outside of traditional cis-heteronormativity is something to be ashamed of. This mentality raises anxious, scared queer adults who're ashamed of their own identity, and adults who bully people for "queer behaviour".
Hijras are a community of people who include eunuchs, intersex, and transgender people. They worship the Hindu goddess of chastity and fertility, Bahuchara Mata. Most hijras, but not all, choose to undergo a castration ceremony known as "nirvana" in which they remove their male genitalia as an offering to their goddess. The whole community is vibrant with hundreds of people with hundreds of ways of expression, the true identity of a hijra is complex and unique to each individual. In India, hijras prefer to refer to themselves as Kinner/Kinnar as it means the mythological beings who excel at singing and dancing.
Hijras worship the Hindu goddess of chastity and fertility, Bahuchara Mata.homegrown.co.in
The hijra community works systematically, the community separates itself from the outside world and teaches lessons to the young ones in secret. Each community has a guru and the other hijras are their disciples or chela. The "hijra ways of life" are taught to the disciples in a secluded environment where they leave their families and live with other hijras in the community. More often than not hijras are thought of as nothing different from transgender and often referred to as transgender; however, scientifically these two terms denote a different class of people. Hijras are a part of the whole community of people with various identities and of spiritual and cultural values meanwhile, transgender merely refers to those people whose gender identity differs from the sex assigned to them at birth, they are a part of the community and do not represent the whole community.
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Historically and culturally the community has existed in the Indian subcontinent as long as the civilization has existed. There are mentions of hijra in The Mahabharata, a holy book of Hindus. Shikhandi who was neither male nor female is a mythological legend. In another version of Mahabharata Arjuna, one of the Pandavas was cursed to be the third gender by Urvashi, when he refused to be sexually involved with her. In a story by Padma Purana, it is seen that Arjuna transforms into a woman to take part in Krishna's mystical dance which only women can take part in. The Hijra figures are prominent in Indian Mughal History as well, referred to as Khwaja Siras and known for their loyalty to the ruler, they worked as the sexless watchdogs of the Mughal harems. They held important positions in court and various facets of administration during Mughal-era India, from the 16th to 19th century. The Hijra community is a testament to the sexual diversity that is integral yet often forgotten in Indian culture.
If the whole hijra community was looked upon with enamour and respect in our history, what happened that when we come across the community we look at them with contempt and are filled with a mixture of negative, fear, laughter, and odd emotions. It's owing to the fact that under British Raj, the Criminal tribes Act 1871 hijras were criminalized and the law was made to eradicate the whole community. However, these acts were abolished by the Indian government after independence, and by 2014, India, Nepal, and Bangladesh all had officially recognized third gender people as citizens deserving of equal rights where the third gender means individuals categorizing themselves as neither male nor female. Even though the progress is slow but in 2015 Madhu Kinnar became the first hijra mayor in India was elected in the city of Raigarh.
ALSO READ: India's first Residential Transgender
Although the hijra community was revered by society and is invited to births and weddings for religious and spiritual ceremonies, they still become victims of abuse and discrimination. Violence and hate crimes against the community have become common. They are deprived of education, job opportunities, seating in restaurants, etc. leading them to live in poor conditions barely surviving. They often have to resort to begging and prostitution to earn a daily living. The government has tried to address this issue by introducing bills for the protection of the hijra community, with prison terms and other punishments for those offending them, but there is little to no less effect on the social stigma against the community.
In India, the hijra community comes under the umbrella term LGBTQ+ and we notice that they lack voice and representation when it comes to LGBTQ+ rights. We need to understand that when we fight for LGBTQ+ rights we fight for the whole community, we fight for hijras who have been victims of violence, hate crimes, and disrespect from none other than the people of our society. And although hijras are a part of the LGBTQ+ community as a whole, they have an independent subculture of their own. It is worth every effort to know about them, to study about them, to befriend them, and to smile at them for they are every bit of human as we are and they have nothing but blessings in their heart.