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Somebody recently said Bollywood is a soft target! Is it? In what stalwarts prefer to call the Hindi Film Industry, there exists a fast swinging revolving door. Some stay for a while after entering, while others are thrown out immediately. Whoever said that the industry is a soft target knows nothing about the film industry here. What is more, thanks to social media, just about everybody voices an opinion? Especially those who are out of action for years and are not aware of how things have changed.
Mumbai played host to the film industry when it was called that as identification, as to where one belonged as well as in the hope that it will be recognized someday. Then the industry finally got due recognition. Film insurance, institutional finance, and other such benefits became available.
Sadly, few knew how to avail and fewer qualified! The industry was always at the mercy of the Shylock film financiers who charged anything between 3 to 3.5 percent PM interest, with the loan renewable every quarter. The interest was deducted at the time of borrowing, not to mention the brokerage payable to the middleman who brought a producer and financier together.
Luckily for the filmmakers, they were spared the embarrassment of approaching financial institutions like banks to back their films; they had too many preconditions. Except for a few production houses — and those few were limited to two or three — others neither knew how to go about it nor had clean bookkeeping to go for it.
I say luckily because a lot many foreign production and distribution houses based in the US of A or the other country entered the film industry in India. They had all the money to invest in the film industry here.
The strategy these foreign investors worked on was to back names, rather than content. They had all the departments under one roof — like legal, finance, accounting, promotion, communication, and so on. But, none could understand and whet a script. They did not need one either, since they financed names that had some standing in the industry, the ones who could bring in big stars. Yes, one other thing they did not know was budgeting.
These companies granted budgets in crores for projects, for films they did not even know how they would be assembled and shaped. With their arrival, films that were made in lakhs were now being made in crores!
In the process, many filmmakers became rich in a short time and, as things stand today, all these money bank corporate houses have been forced to withdraw from either financing or acquiring films for distribution. But, while their business model lasted, it made millionaires out of many undeserving film people. That easy inflow is what has brought in evil like drugs. Earlier, a filmmaker toiled to complete just one film and had no time or inclination to cultivate an evil mind.
Some corporate houses, in fact, have gone in the totally opposite direction. They now do not back filmmaking or marketing. They have taken to adding to the OTT repertoire. And the corona lockdown, when the film production and the exhibition was totally closed down, seem to have stolen the edge.
These corporate entities were the soft targets, not the film industry. They were thoroughly exploited.
One thinks that those who make such comments calling the industry a soft target, which the media amplifies, regardless of what such a person making the comment has in the film industry. Here, anybody can get up and pose as the saviors of the industry. The latest to do that in the media was one-time actor Supriya Pathak. She is not alone, many others over the last few weeks have made similar statements. The media is to blame. Why does it think that any and everybody’s opinion matters and is worth airing?
The film industry was never a soft target except during the Emergency phase. Again, even at that time, the film industry was not the only one. From the individuals to artistes and the media to the rich and poor, all were at the receiving end.
In the industry, the soft target is the one whose new film releases on a Friday, be it a star, a director, or a producer. If his/her film flops, the rest of the industry gleefully celebrates the failure. But the same producer, when someone else’s film releases, joins with the rest who celebrate! That was not as bad as what has been going on over the last few years. A kind of vindictiveness has taken over many mindsets. A coterie is created and those who don’t belong are held in contempt to the extent that attempts are made to finish their careers.
Are the people like the ones who are on the CBI’s watchlist as well as the suspect list make the Film Industry? Sushant Singh Rajput and Disha Salian were outsiders, so much so that they deserved to die?
Karan Johar has been much in the news recently. A couple of weeks back, a nominated Parliamentarian belonging to a film family, wanting to pose as Mother Bollywood, sought protection for the film industry. Well, that is what will happen once the three agencies are done with their investigations. The industry will be protected from the evils of drugs and also from enticing young stars into drug nets.
If anybody is a soft target at all hours of the day, it is a select group of politicians and, similarly, some of the top industrialists. The film industry does not figure anywhere on the target list.
(Vinod Mirani is a veteran film writer and box, office analyst. The views expressed are personal) (IANS)
NEW DELHI - India Navy sending four ships for exercises and port visits with the Philippines, Vietnam, Singapore, Indonesia and Australia to strengthen cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region, its navy said Wednesday, as China's maritime power grows in the area.
The Indian ships will spend more than two months in the region, the navy said in a statement.
Commander Vivek Madhwal, the Indian navy spokesman, said four ships will take part.
The ships will also participate in a multilateral exercise, MALABAR-21, along with the Japanese, Australian and U.S. navies, the statement said.
It said the exercises will enhance coordination with friendly countries, based on common maritime interests and a commitment to freedom of navigation.
"Besides regular port calls, the task group will operate in conjunction with friendly navies to build military relations and develop interoperability in the conduct of maritime operations," the statement said.
The U.S., India, Japan and Australia are part of the Quad regional alliance created in response to China's growing economic and military strength. Washington has long viewed New Delhi as a key partner in efforts to blunt increasing Chinese assertiveness in the Indo-Pacific region.
India is also in a continuing standoff with China over their disputed border in the eastern Ladakh region. The countries have stationed tens of thousands of soldiers backed by artillery, tanks and fighter jets along their de facto border, called the Line of Actual Control.
Last year, 20 Indian troops died in a clash with Chinese soldiers involving clubs, stones and fists in a portion of the disputed border. China said it lost four soldiers.(VOA/HP)
The UK government on Thursday announced that it will move India from the red to the amber list on Sunday, in the country's latest update to the 'Red-Amber-Green' traffic light ratings for arrivals into England amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
This means the visit visas for the UK from India are open, in addition to other long-term visas that have remained open. But travellers from India arriving in England can complete a 10-day quarantine at home or in the place they are staying (not mandatorily quarantine in a managed hotel).
The UK government also announced that arrivals from France to England will no longer need to quarantine if they are fully vaccinated. The step aligns France with the rest of the amber list now that the proportion of beta variant cases has fallen, where those who are fully vaccinated with a vaccine authorised and administered in the UK, the US or Europe do not need to quarantine when arriving in England.
This move also simplifies the system to three categories, as well as the green watch list to give travellers notice where green status is at risk.
To continue cautiously reopening international travel, Austria, Germany, Slovenia, Slovakia, Latvia, Romania and Norway will be added to the government's green list, having demonstrated they posed a low risk to UK public health.
Besides India, Bahrain, Qatar and the UAE will also be moved from the red to the amber list, as the situation in these countries has improved.
The data for all countries will be kept under review and the government will not hesitate to take action where a country's epidemiological picture changes, a statement by the UK government said.
Following an assessment of the latest data, Georgia, La Reunion, Mayotte and Mexico will be added to the red list as they present a high public health risk to the UK from known variants of concern, known high-risk variants under investigation or as a result of very high in-country or territory prevalence of Covid-19.
Arrivals from Spain and all its islands are advised to use a PCR test as their pre-departure test wherever possible, as a precaution against the increased prevalence of the virus and variants in the country.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: "We are committed to opening up international travel safely, taking advantage of the gains we've made through our successful vaccination programme, helping connect families, friends and businesses around the world.
"While we must continue to be cautious, today's changes reopen a range of different holiday destinations across the globe, which is good news for both the sector and travelling public."
Since February, anyone who arrives in the UK from a red list country has been required by law to book a stay in a managed quarantine facility for 10 days.
In order to ensure taxpayers are not subsidising the costs of staying in these facilities, which have gone up, the cost will increase from August 12. Alternative payment arrangements remain available to those who genuinely cannot afford to pay and rates remain the same for children up to 12.(IANS/HP)
A Hindu temple in Pakistan's Punjab province was reportedly vandalized by hundreds of people after a nine-year-old Hindu boy, who allegedly urinated at a local seminary, received bail, a media report said on Thursday.
According to the Dawn news report, the incident took place on Wednesday in Bhong town, about 60 km from Rahim Yar Khan city.
Besides the vandalization, the mob also blocked the Sukkur-Multan Motorway (M-5), the report added.
Citing sources, Dawn news said that a case was registered against the minor on July 24 based on a complaint filed by a cleric, Hafiz Muhammad Ibrahim, of the Darul Uloom Arabia Taleemul Quran.
The sources said that "some Hindu elders did tender an apology to the seminary administration saying the accused was a minor and mentally challenged".
But, when a lower court granted him bail a few days ago, some people incited the public in the town on Wednesday and got all shops there closed in protest, the report quoted the sources as further saying.
A video clip showing people wielding clubs and rods storming the temple and smashing its glass doors, windows, lights, and damaging the ceiling fans went viral on social media.
In response, one Twitter user said: "Ganesh Temple, village Bhong in Rahim Yar Khan, Punjab has been ravaged. Another day, another attack on Hindus in Pakistan."
Another said: "Yesterday, the mob ran amok at Temple over minor boy issue who allegedly urinated, the boy said to be mentally handicapped. Hindu community made an apology for the boy — a case registered against the nine-year-old boy. Those vandalized temples, no FIR registered against them."
District police spokesman Ahmed Nawaz Cheema said Rangers had been deployed in the troubled area and the situation was under control.
A small town close to the River Indus and Sindh-Punjab border, Bhong houses a number of gold traders who originally hail from Ghotki and Dehrki (Sindh), according to the Dawn news report.
A ruling PTI member representing the minority said he had been in touch with the local Hindu community and influential Rais family of Bhong since the issue surfaced.