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Three Indian Movies to be a part of Cairo International Film Festival this Year in November

‘The Narrow Path’ (“Ottayaal Paatha” in Malayalam) by brothers Santosh and Satish Babusenan, has gained its position in the main International Competition

Film Festival
Cairo International Film Festival of 2015. Youtube

Chennai, November 09, 2016: Three Indian movies are scheduled to be part of the Cairo International Film Festival that will run from 15th to 24th November. The most incredible news is that one of those three films, ‘The Narrow Path’ (“Ottayaal Paatha” in Malayalam) by brothers Santosh and Satish Babusenan, has gained its position in the main International Competition. The movie will compete for the famous festival’s top honors alongside 15 other titles from multiple countries like Poland, Egypt, Spain, France, and China.

Film Festival
A still from the movie ‘Ottayaal Paatha’ (The Narrow Path). Youtube

It is shocking that, Babusenans’ project has not been chosen by the International Film Festival of India (IFFI, scheduled to be held in Panaji from 20th November) for its Indian Panorama. Praised as a segment which showcases the cream of the Indian cinema, the Panorama 2016 is conspicuous by two other huge misses. And mind you, these films have been led by the masters: Malayalam project by Adoor Gopalakrishnan, ‘Pinneyum’ (Once Again), and Bengali creation of Buddhadeb Dasgupta, ‘Tope’ (The Bait). While any of the major film festivals — like Cannes, Berlin  or Venice — will always program the creation of a master after its submission (and leave it to the critics and audience to judge and decide how good or bad it is), IFFI seems to have neglected this pivotal rule.

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‘The Narrow Path’ is a wonderful and fascinating study of sacrifice and guilt, supreme sacrifice. Narrated through dispersed frames and economy of words, the film tells the audience the tragic story of how a son, Akhil (played by Sarath Sabha), is caught between his affection for his aged father, Vikraman (K Kaladharan), and his love for his girlfriend, Nina (Krishnapriya). The old man, who is completely bed-ridden with complications arising out of diabetes severely restricting his mobility; when out of bed, he has to hop on to a wheelchair for support, and needs constant care. When Nina, hailing from an upper class family, suggests to Akhil that the two run away to Bengaluru, the invitation becomes tantalizingly tempting. For him the new city will bring a fresh breath of much-needed oxygen, but being a son to his ailing father, he gets wracked by dilemma. Could he possibly leave his helpless father behind in the hands of paid employees?

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The second Indian film, named ‘Half Ticket’ (a work in Marathi by Samit Kakkad), is a remake of the excellent Tamil project, ‘Kaaka Muttai’. Kakkad, whose first feature was ‘Aayna Ka Bayna’, informed this writer some months ago that he does not intend to touch the soul of the original work, but would merely make some cosmetic changes and modifications to comprehend certain nuances of the Marathi language. The setting would change to Mumbai, not Chennai as it was in the original, ‘Kaaka Muttai’, whose music-director, GV Prakash Kumar, had been roped in to score the Marathi edition as well.

Film Festival
A still from the Tamil project ‘Kaaka Muttai’. Twitter

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‘Kaaka Muttai’ was a delightful watch- a story about two little boys, hailing from the slums, who go to the strangest and the quirkiest of extent, trying to gain the Rs 300 required purchasing themselves a pizza from an outlet that opens right next to their shanty. It is both hilarious and novel when the two kids get a makeshift pull cart for transporting the drunken men from the roadside bar to their own homes — to earn some cash. The kids also engage in picking coal dropping from the passing steam-engines to feed their little family of a mother (played by Iyshwarya Rajesh) and a grandmother. The father is behind the bars, and the wife struggles to get him out on bail.

Film Festival
An image of the movie ‘Lipstick Under My Burkha’. Youtube

The third entry of the Indian movies, ‘Lipstick Under My Burkha’ (‘Lipstick Waale Sapne’ in Hindi) by Alankrita Shrivastava, that won an award at the very recent Tokyo International Film Festival; depicts the tragic and painful lives of four women from Bhopal bearing the brunt of the societal prejudices. Inspite of being unhappy and unfulfilled, they are gutsy enough and they dare to dream. With an fantastic star-cast includeing Konkana Sen Sharma and Ratna Shah Pathak, Shrivastava’s creation was a blast in Tokyo — and may well be a huge success in the historic city by the Nile.

– by the NewsGram team

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Mahalaya: Beginning of “Devipaksha” in Bengali Celebration of ‘Durga Puja’

“Mahalaya” is the auspicious occasion that marks the beginning of “Devipaksha” and the ending of “Pitripaksha” and heralds the celebration of Durga Puja

Mahalaya morning in Kolkata. Flickr
  • Mahalaya 2017 Date: 19th september.
  • On Mahalaya, people throng to the holy river Ganges in order to pay homage to their ancestors and forefathers; which is called ‘Torpon’
  • Mahalaya remains incomplete without the magical chanting of the scriptural verses from the ‘Chandi Kavya’ that is broadcasted in All India Radio
  • The magic is induced by the popular Birendra Krishna Bhadra whose voice makes the recitation of the “Chandi Kavya” even more magnificent

Sept 19, 2017: Autumn is the season of the year that sees the Hindus, all geared up to celebrate some of the biggest festivals of India. The festive spirit in the Bengalis all enthused to prepare for the greatest of the festivals, the ‘Durga Puja’.

About Mahalaya:

Mahalaya is the auspicious occasion that marks the beginning of “Devipaksha” and the ending of “Pitripaksha,” and this year it is celebrated on September 19.

Observed exactly a week before the ‘Durga Puja’, Mahalaya is the harbinger of the arrival of Goddess Durga. It is celebrated to invoke the goddess possessing supreme power! The goddess is invited to descend on earth and she is welcomed with devotional songs and holy chants of mantras. On this day, the eye is drawn in the idols of the Goddess by the artisans marking the initiation of “Devipaksha”. Mahalaya arrives and the countdown to the Durga Puja begins!

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The day of Mahalaya bears supreme significance to the Bengalis. The day is immensely important because on this day people throng to the holy river Ganges in order to pay homage to their ancestors and forefathers. Clad in white dhotis, people offer prayers and take dips in the river while praying for their demised dear ones. The ritual is popular as “Torpon”.

An idol-maker in progress of drawing the eye in the idol of the Goddess. Wikipedia

As per Hindu myth, on “Devipaksha”, the Gods and the Goddesses began their preparations to celebrate “Mahamaya” or Goddess Durga, who was brought upon by the trinity- Brahma, Vishnu, and Maheshwara; to annihilate the fierce demon king named Mahishasura. The captivating story of the Goddess defeating the demon got popularized with the goddess being revered as “Durgatinashini” or the one who banishes all the evils and miseries of the world. The victory of the Goddess is celebrated as ‘Durga Puja’.

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Mahalaya remains incomplete without the magical chanting of the scriptural verses from the ‘Chandi Kavya’ that is broadcasted at dawn in All India Radio in the form of a marvelous audio montage enthralling the souls of the Bengalis. Presented with wonderful devotional music, acoustic drama, and classical songs- the program is also translated to Hindi and played for the whole pan-Indian listeners.

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Birendra Krishna Bhadra (1905-1991). Wikipedia

The program is inseparable from Mahalaya and has been going on for over six decades till date. The magic is induced by the popular Birendra Krishna Bhadra whose voice makes the recitation of the “Chandi Kavya” even more magnificent! He has been a legend and the dawn of Mahalaya turns insipid without the reverberating and enchanting voice of the legendary man.

Mahalaya will keep spreading the magic and setting the vigor of the greatest festival of the Bengalis- the Durga Puja, to worship the supreme Goddess, eternally.

                 “Yaa Devi Sarbabhuteshu, Shakti Rupena Sanhsthita,

                     Namastaswai Namastaswai Namastaswai Namo Namaha.”

– by Antara Kumar of NewsGram. Twitter: @ElaanaC

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Lipstick Under My Burkha: Celebration of Girl Code and The Bond of Female Friendship

Alankrita Srivastava's heart-warming portrayal of the glory of simple female friendships touches the heartstrings of the critics and viewers alike

Lipstick under my burkha
The four small town women bond as they catch up for a smoke in Lipstick Under My Burkha. Wikimedia
  • Alankrita Shrivastava’s ‘Lipstick Under My Burkha’ is possibly the most talked about film of 2017
  • The film celebrates womanhood and all that comes with being a woman 
  • The film shines in portraying the precious female friendships we form in our day-to-day lives

July 23, 2017: Alankrita Shrivastava’s ‘Lipstick Under My Burkha’ is definitely one of the most controversial movies in the history of Indian cinema. The fearlessly feminist film not only gives a voice to the lipstick dreams of the protagonists but also successfully portrays the universal emotions, frustrations, and desires that drive the women of the film. But not just that, this critically acclaimed film also sheds some light on a topic very few Hindi movies have focused on before — the girl code, or the unconditional bond of female friendship. Hollywood has given us shows like Sex and the City or movies like Bridesmaids, but the concept still is relatively unfamiliar when it comes to Bollywood even though there have been a few mention-worthy female friendships in movies now and then.

Kudos to 'Lipstick Under My Burkha' for once again reminding us why our girl-gang is one of the… Click To Tweet

Men have this growing misconception that the mere reason for the existence of women is nothing but their omnipotent presence. Women dress for them, live for them, shape their lives around them. Here’s where they are wrong- women do all of that in equal measure for other women, too, perhaps even more so because women tend to be appreciated by other women more. Let’s be honest here, who buys a 50 dollar lipstick for a guy who won’t even be able to identify which shade of red it is! From random friends we make at the bar restrooms to the closest female friends – what matters is that nothing else can empower a woman more than the support of another, and it is sometimes our only hope. This certainly is a concept that Alankrita Shrivastava’s ‘Lipstick Under My Burkha’ understands and portrays very well.

Possibly the most talked about film of 2017, ‘Lipstick Under My Burkha’ revolves around the lives of four very different women who live in the same neighborhood in Bhopal. In no time, the viewers find themselves intertwined with Usha (Ratna Pathak Shah), Shireen (Konkona Sen Sharma), Leela (Aahana Kumra), and Rehaana (Plabita Borthakur) who live their regular lives with some extraordinary secrets. This concept is so familiar to the crores of women in India because that sums up their daily lives. While the four women deal with the men of their lives- the dads and the boyfriends and the husbands – all mostly awful yet somewhat similar, the women, just like all of us, without asking or realising, end up finding supporters and listeners in other women.

Also read: Redefining the Essence of Lost Feminism in India

This is not just an on screen story. When the film was being targeted by haters and narrow-minded men, Ekta Kapoor did not hesitate to step in as the distributor of the film,  and she promoted and supported Alankrita and her film every chance she could.


Alankrita has managed to capture to perfection how women take a stand for each other and pull each other up. The ladies help each other out through out the film, whether it’s a little girl literally holding a scared Ratna Pathak Shah’s hand while she takes her up an escalator, or a mother daring to become a nude model to raise her daughter. Women show up for other women in the film and that is beautiful to watch. We see Rehaana doing everything she can to impress her college’s most popular girl because she wants to be in her band while the boyfriend is almost an aside in this track. Shireen can be seen sharing inappropriate jokes with the housewives who are her customers. In another scene, when a mortified Usha runs out of a swimsuit store and runs into Shireen, she tries to cover it up by offering to forgive her rent, but then Shireen buys that swimsuit for her. Here’s where the beauty of the film lies. In any other movie, these scenes would easily be sidelined, nothing related to the main plot. But Alankrita lets these small yet significant moments take the center stage, just like they are in our daily insignificant lives. And just like this, ‘Lipstick Under my Burkha’ becomes as real as a movie can be.

'Lipstick Under My Burkha' celebrates womanhood and all that comes with being a woman Click To Tweet

Also, the film never underestimates the complexity of female relationships. In the film, as in life, some of the worst things that happen to women are constructed by other women. The women in the film carry out several questionable actions, whether out of spite or desperation or plain old sheer lack of a moral compass. People often have the idea that feminists praise women no matter what they do and happily ignore the wrongdoings. Needless to say, that is just an illusion. The film does not glorify the wrongs. In the world we live in, the women around us lift each other up and tear each other down constantly, ‘Lipstick Under My Burkha’ is fully aware of that and that is another reason the film is so successful in saying exactly what it wants to say.

Let’s hope more directors dare to portray the reality like Alankrita Shrivastava’s bold lipstick.

– prepared by Durba Mandal of NewsGram. Twitter @dubumerang

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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.

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