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10th SIIMA Awards witness the best of South Indian cinema

Murtaza Ali Khan

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10th SIIMA Awards witness the best of South Indian cinema

I was recently invited to attend the 2022 South Indian International Movie Awards (SIIMA) in Bangalore. Celebrating a decade of SIIMA, the 10th edition of the festival was held on 10 – 11 September, 2022. The ambiance remained electrifying throughout the two days as the biggest names in Indian showbiz made their presence felt at the awards. SIIMA was launched in 2012 by Vishnu Vardhan Induri and Brinda Prasad Adusimilli to appreciate film makers from across the South Indian film industries. Over the last decade or so, SIIMA has only gone from the position of strength to strength to become one of the most sought after awards events in India that holds such a special place in everyone’s hearts.
Oozing with cinephilia and glamour, the star-studded extravaganza has been curated by Brinda Prasad Adusumilli and Vishnu Induri, for a span of two days in Bengaluru. Earlier, Brinda Prasad Adusumilli, who is also the chairperson of SIIMA, had announced the nominations for the films and music released in the 4 South Indian Languages viz. Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam and Tamil in 2021. Other than the regular awards, SIMMA also features some special honors for lifetime contributions and few special awards. Now, the first day of the two day event focused on Telugu and Kannada cinema and the second day of the awards function was dedicated to celebrating the best of Tamil and Malayalam cinema.
Adding to the glitter and glamour of the 10th edition of SIIMA, Bollywood actor Ranveer Singh marked his scintillating presence at the event alongside some of biggest names of Telugu, Kannada, Tamil, and Malayalam cinema including the likes of Allu Arjun, Yash, Vijay Deverakonda, Pooja Hegde, Darshan Thoogudeepa, Arvind Swamy, Silambarasan TR, and Kamal Haasan, Anees Bazmee, Vivek Agnihotri, Arvind Swamy, Hansika Motwani, Siva Karthikeyan, Silambarasan TR, Nidhhi Agerwal, and Tovino Thomas, among others.
The winners for Telugu and Kannada cinema were also announced on the first day of SIIMA. The Best Film (Telugu) went to ‘Pushpa: The Rise,’ and the Best Film (Kannada) went to ‘Garuda Gamana Vrishabha Vahana.’ As far as the top acting honors are concerned, the winners announced on the first day included Punneth Rajkumar, who was awarded Best Actor (Kannada) posthumously for ‘Yuvarathnaa,’ Ashika Ranganath, who won the Best Actress (Kannada) for ‘Madhagaja,’ Pooja Hegde, who won the Best Actress award (Telugu) for ‘Most Eligible Bachelor,’ Allu Arjun, who won the Best Actor award (Telugu) for ‘Pushpa – The Rise,’ Pramod, who bagged the Best Actor in a Supporting Role Award (Kannada) for ‘Rathnan Prapancha,’ Aarohi Narayan, who won the Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Kannada) for ‘Drishya 2,’ Jagadeesh Prathap Bandari, who bagged the Best Actor in a Supporting Role Award (Telugu) for the film ‘Pushpa – The Rise,’ and Varalaxmi Sarathkumar, who won the Best Actress in a Supporting Role Award (Telugu) for the film ‘Krack.’
The winners for Malayalam and Tamil cinema were announced on the second day of the festival. While ‘Minnal Murali’ bagged the Best Film (Malayalam), ‘Sarpatta Parambarai’ won the Best Film (Tamil). The top acting honors went to Kangana Ranaut, who won Best Actress (Tamil) for ‘Thalaivii,’ Arvind Swamy, who won Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Tamil) for ‘Thalaivii,’ Silambarasan TR, who won Best Actor (Tamil) for ‘Maanaadu,’ Tovino Thomas, who bagged Best Actor (Tamil) for ‘Minnal Murali’ and ‘Kala,’ and Unnimaya Prasad, who bagged Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Malayalam) for ‘Joji’. The winners were chosen by an online voting system.
The passion, zeal, and unconditional love that the fans of Telugu, Tamil, Kannada, and Malayalam cinema have is what makes these regional film industries tick. Often the stars are hailed as demigods. Attending the 10th edition of SIIMA in Bangalore has to be one of the top experiences for me—going to ground zero and attending a physical event happening in the real world after a long hiatus— since the pandemic hit us. Credit goes to Vishnu Vardhan Induri and Brinda Prasad Adusimilli for their passion and commitment towards SIIMA and for extending their hospitality to all those attending the event.
As curtains have come down on the 10th edition of SIIMA, my eyes are already set on the next edition which promises to be even bigger and grander.

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PM Modi arrives at International Kullu Dussehra festival

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Narendra Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi received a warm welcome as he arrived for the international Kullu Dussehra Festival today. He will be participating in the Dusshera festival here for the first time.

Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi extended greetings to citizens on the occasion of Dussehra and expressed his happiness to be a part of the International Kullu Dussehra Festival that is to be celebrated here from October 5 to 11 at the Dhalpur Ground in Kullu.

The festival is unique in the sense that it is the congregation of more than 300 deities of the valley. On the first day of the festival, obeisance will be paid to the deities in their well-decorated palanquins at the temple of the Chief Deity Bhagwan Raghunath Ji, and then it proceeds to the Dhalpur Ground.

“I am elated to provide the citizens of Himachal Pradesh with the gifts of projects in education, health, and infrastructure worth thousands of crores,” PM Modi said, adding that he will seek the blessings of the country by joining the Raghunath Ji Yatra. 
“I am very fortunate to participate in the Kullu festival after so many years,” he added. 
The Prime Minister will witness this divine Rath Yatra and the grand assembly of the Deities in the historic Kullu Dussehra celebrations.

PM Modi’s remarks came after he inaugurated AIIMS Bilaspur and laid the foundation stone of multiple development projects here.
On Independence Day, referring to the Amrit Kaal—the next 25 years till 2047, when India will be marking 100 years of Independence—the Prime Minister urged people to focus on “Panch Pran’ (five vows).

He said the country has met various challenges in the past 75 years and there were certain unfulfilled dreams, “the next 25 years are very significant for our country.” He explained the five vows. 
The  first vow is for the people to move ahead with a strong resolve for a “developed India”. “We should not settle for anything less than that,” 
The second resolve is that “in no part of our existence, not even in the deepest corners of our minds or habits, should there be any ounce of slavery”. 
The third resolution urged Indians to be proud of their country’s heritage and legacy. 
He said the fourth resolution, which is equally important, is unity and solidarity. 
“Amongst 130 million countrymen, when there is harmony and bonhomie, unity becomes its strongest virtue. “On August 15, Prime Minister Modi stated. 
PM Modi said the fifth vow is the “duty of the citizens,” in which even the Prime Minister, Chief Minister cannot be excluded as they are also responsible citizens and have a duty towards the nation”. 

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I decided to create a mass appeal for revival of natural indigo: Sangeeta Gupta

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With the objective to revive natural indigo painting renowned artist Sangeeta Gupta decided to create a painting that is abstract, conceptual, minimalist on natural sustainable khaddar fabric with organic indigo colour and dye. Handmade fabric is environment friendly, natural colour and dye are handmade too and also they are chemical free. To promote sustainable living and natural indigo Prithvi fine art and cultural centre is set to organise a solo exhibition named ‘Adiyogi Shiv- A journey in cosmic indigo’ of textile paintings by Sangeeta Gupta from 6th to 12th October at Bikaner House Delhi.
Sangeeta Gupta has created the longest indigo painting on sustainable handspun khaddar textile titled, ‘Aadiyogi Shiv – A journey in cosmic indigo.’
In a candid conversation artist Sangeeta Gupta says, “I was in Jaipur to receive a lifetime achievement award for my contribution in the field of fine art in an art festival organised by Art Fiesta. During the festival I met Ashok Aatreya, a writer, an old acquaintance. We had some meaningful conversation about the indigo natural colour and dye. On the last day of my trip Ashok took me to a work centre in Ratelia, Sanganer to give me hands-on experience with indigo. I started to paint on the fabric with dabu. I was excited to experiment and could really paint well. Then I decided to create a mass appeal for revival of natural indigo by making a 100 metre long painting using the natural colour and dye on hand spun fabric.”
Artist Sangeeta Gupta had been conceptualising this painting since the end of December 2019.
After purchasing handspun khaddar cloth, natural indigo colour and dye, she started the actual painting and worked for nine days in Ratalia village, Sanganer at Shilpi Sansthan.
She further added, “I first painted with dabu, a muddy paste with brush and then put sawdust on it and then sun dried the painting. After that it was soaked in drums of indigo dye and then washed and dried again. The second method applied for painting is that I dyed the khaddar cloth first in light shades of indigo, dried it and then painted on the cloth again with a paint brush in dark shades of indigo colour. I have used both these methods to paint on the fabric. I completed 185 metres in nine days. Then I returned to Delhi as coronavirus infection had started spreading in nearby city Jaipur. Later I painted on the dyed cloth with dark indigo. The rest of the 15 metres painting I completed in my studio at Delhi. These works are born out of infinite, formless energy of Aadiyogi Shiv, Ardhnarishwar, the ultimate feminist. There is no beginning, no end, all encompassing, omnipresent Shiv is present in all of us.”

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‘Ponniyin Selvan: I’ is a sprawling period piece that also serves as a lesson in history

Murtaza Ali Khan

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Mani Ratnam’s latest directorial ‘Ponniyin Selvan: I’ is the first part of the Ponniyin Selvan saga based on Kalki Krishnamurthy’s 1955 novel ‘Ponniyin Selvan,’ which is regarded as the greatest novel ever written in Tamil literature. The film which has suddenly stirred deep interest in the Cholas basically tells the story of Arulmozhivarman aka Ponniyin Selvan who later became the great Chola emperor Rajaraja Chola I. The film stars an ensemble cast featuring the likes of Vikram, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Jayam Ravi, Karthi, Trisha, Aishwarya Lekshmi, Nassar, R. Sarathkumar, and Prakash Raj, among others.
Centuries before the Europeans (Britain, Spain, France, Portuguese, etc.), the Cholas had succeeded in becoming an imperial superpower, imposing their colonial influence on Sri Lanka, Maldives, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Cambodia under Rajaraja Chola (Reign: 985-1014 AD) and his son Rajendra Chola (Reign: 1014-1044 AD). It’s a testament to their naval dominance in the Indian Ocean that was unheard of at the time.
Their conquests beyond the Indian mainland were instrumental in the spread of Indian culture far and wide. Interestingly, the Cholas even had envoys in China. That’s how influential they were as rulers and understood well the importance of trade and diplomacy. Rajaraja Chola’s empire included the erstwhile Pandya territory in southern Tamil Nadu, the erstwhile Chera country in central Kerala and western Tamil Nadu as well as northern Sri Lanka. He also captured the Lakshadweep and Maldive Islands in the Indian Ocean.
Rajaraja’s successful military campaigns against Karnataka’s ancient dynasty of Western Gangas as well as Chalukyas extended the Chola influence as far as the Tungabhadra River. On the eastern coast he battled with the Chalukyas for the possession of the Godavari districts.
The Chola Empire was greatly expanded during the reign of Rajaraja’s son Rajendra Chola. Other than his conquests in the Indian Ocean, he even succeeded in defeating the Palas (who ruled over the present-day Bengal and Bihar) and took the title of Gangaikondachola (as he became the first Chola king to conquer the kingdoms around the Ganges). It was such an unprecedented feat for a South Indian ruler to extend his influence beyond the Ganges that he even built a new capital city called Gangaikonda Cholapuram to commemorate his momentous achievement. The Cholas built great temples and cities as art, artists, and artisans flourished. India’s merchant navy training ship TS Rajendra has been named in Rajendra Chola’s honour.
But, Kalki’s novel merely focuses on the early days of Arulmozhivarman, long before he became Rajaraja Chola I. Mani Ratnam’s two-part film adaptation is completely faithful to the novel. In ‘Ponniyin Selvan: I,’ the story’s main focus is on the early days of the battle for succession to the Chola throne during the later years of the reign of the aging king Sundara Chola (Reign: 962 – 980 AD) whose two sons, Aditha Karikalan (played by Vikram) and Arulmozhi Varman, are mighty successful in their conquests for the Chola empire in Kanchi and Sri Lanka, respectively. Aditha Karikalan is the crown prince.
Unbeknownst to Sundara Chola (essayed by Prakash Raj), the Chola treasurer and minister of finance, Periya Pazhuvettaraiyar (portrayed by R. Sarathkumar), is conspiring with a group of royal chieftains to usurp the throne from Aditha for Aditha’s uncle Madurantakan. Sensing something fishy, Aditha sends his Vanthiyathevan (essayed by Karthi), a brave and adventurous warrior prince of Vaanar Clan, to alarm his farther about the impending danger.
On the other hand, a group of devoted Pandya soldiers scheme to avenge the Pandya King Veerapandiyan (played by Nassar) killed in a battle by Aditha Karikalan. What complicates the matter is Periya’s beautiful enigmatic wife Nandini (essayed by Aishwarya Rai Bachchan) who actually happens to be Aditha’s first and only love. Nandini also shares a strange bond with Veerapandiyan. No one really knows with whom her truly loyalties lie. Battling deceit and deception while simultaneously coming to terms with the dangerous game of palace intrigue, the Chola princes have their task cut out. They must win the battle against the vengeful Pandyas while thwarting the betrayal of Pazhuvettaraiyar.
‘Ponniyin Selvan: I’ is replete with spectacular moments and wonderful performances with Aishwarya Rai Bachchan leading from the front. Evidently, the de-aging technology seems to have done wonders as we get to see the former Miss World in her element. Vikram, Karthi, Trisha, Prakash Raj and the rest are also brilliant in their respectively roles. However, if you are looking for a Baahubali type of film then you will be greatly disappointed. Here is a very different kind of a period piece that also serves as a lesson in history.

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100 artists unite to raise awareness on autism

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100 artists unite to raise awareness on autism

To demonstrate the values of inclusion and spread autism awareness, this year in association with AuTypical.in, Dhoomimal Gallery has created a section to showcase works of young autistic artists in the professional grade. 100 young artists and sculptors are showcasing their artworks which will continue till 15th October at the 31st Ravi Jain Memorial Foundation Exhibition 2022 presented by Dhoomimal Gallery. Nearly 220 artworks and sculptors have been displayed in the gallery by artists from all over the country.
Established in 2020, AuTypical.in is a public purpose platform for showcasing the abilities of autistic children and young adults in the field of art. Autistic artists from all over India, from district towns to mega cities have exhibited their creations on this online platform. This year, participation of autistic artists will be a new flavor that will be introduced in professional art for the first time amongst the Art Galleries in New Delhi and will be unique in its treatment.
Speaking about the event, Uday Jain, Proprietor, Dhoomimal Gallery said, “In its 31st year the Ravi Jain annual exhibition has provided a budding platform to over 100 artists and sculptors. Late Ravi Jain always believed that if the art movement is to be perpetuated in the country, we cannot rely on the seniors alone and new talent should constantly be nurtured and promoted. The participation is from all over India across all medium painting, sculpture, installation, digital and judging is done by an eminent panel of senior artists, sculptors, critics and collectors. Hence the standard of the artists selected is quite high.”
Established in 1936, Dhoomimal Gallery is the oldest contemporary art gallery in India. In the previous years, DMG has felicitated several young artists who went on to become known names and established themselves in the art fraternity. Every year, they award four scholarships to young artists decided by a panel of esteemed judges. In previous years, the jury has included renowned artists such as K.S. Kulkarni, Krishen Khanna, Bimal Dasgupta, GR Iranna, Pooja Iranna, Jagannath Panda etc. Awardees from the past include renowned names such as Sonia Khurana, G.R. Iranna, Nidhi Aggarwal, Hemraj and many more.

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‘Vibrant Rajasthan’ gives a glimpse of the opulent state

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The beautiful lines from Alfred Lord Tennyson’s Ulysses inspire the artist to venture out on adventure and seek a new world full of mirth and harmony. The princely state of Rajasthan is eternally known for its rich cultural heritage left behind by our forefathers. Through her exhibition ‘Vibrant Rajasthan’ artist and curator Priyanka Banerjee makes an endeavour to give a glimpse of the opulent state through her artworks. She draws inspiration from the rich art and culture of the state left behind by our ancestors.
The art exhibition “Vibrant Rajasthan” is being organised from 3rd to 6th October at open Palm Court, India Habitat Centre, Lodhi Road, New Delhi.
Rajasthan is famous for its artistic and cultural traditions which reflect ancient way of life. The architecture of the majestic forts and palaces of the vibrant state is unique and is based on the Rajput school of architecture which was an impeccable blend of Hindu and Mughal structural design. The Rajputs were prolific builders. Some of the imposing and magnificent forts and palaces in the world dot the arid Aravalli landscapes and tell the tales of their glorious legacy.
The interplay of light and shadows on the architectural marvels have always captivated the artist and have compelled her to transform this magic in her paintings. The havelis and jharokhas have found a special place in her paintings. In the ancient times, the women in purdah could see the events outside without being spotted themselves. The golden hued jharokhas of Jaisalmer have been depicted in one of her paintings.
Camels, also known as the ship of desert are also subjects of her paintings. This animal has been used by princes since time immemorial to highlight royalty and regality. Camels are embellished by the camel owners to attract the youth to travel across the arid Thar desert of Jaisalmer. Embellished camels along with their owners are a subject of her paintings.
Since time immemorial Rajasthan has been known for its famous traditional and colourful art. The same thing finds a reflection in the artist’s artworks where she paints Rajasthani women in their traditional attires doing different domestic chores. Rajasthan is also noted for its national parks and wild life sanctuaries. All of these find a sincere mention in her artworks. The forests are replete with flora and fauna and are extremely important for ecological balance.
The serpentine lanes and by lanes of Jaisalmer, lanes and manganiars of western Rajasthan playing the kamaicha the bowed lute, the colorful by lanes of Jaisalmer abundant with colourful handicraft items, the tired shepherd leading the herd of sheep through meandering fields, the eternal glory of majestic Mehrangarh fort, ruins of Chittorgarh reminding of the jauhar of queen Padmini, the conversing camel owners of Pushkar fair are the subjects of her paintings.

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Italian Embassy to screen 6 contemporary Italian films in October

Murtaza Ali Khan

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Italian Embassy to screen 6 contemporary Italian films in October

In its continuing effort to boost the cultural ties between India and Italy, the Embassy of Italy is hosting the first ever Italian Film Festival in collaboration with ANICA (Italian Film Commission). The screenings will take place simultaneously in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, and Bengaluru from October 13-15, 2022. The festival comprises 6 films that have been previously presented at the prestigious Davide di Donatello Awards, which were established in 1955 with the aim to honour the best of each year’s Italian and foreign films. The film awards are given out each year by the Accademia del Cinema Italiano (The Academy of Italian Cinema). One of the major highlights of the festival will be noted Italian filmmaker Giuseppe Tornatore’s riveting documentary on the legendary film composer Ennio Morricone. The winner of the Cecilia Mangini Award at the 2022 David di Donatello Awards, ‘The Glance of Music – Ennio’ retraces the life and works of the legendary Italian composer Ennio Morricone: from his debut with Sergio Leone to the Oscar-winning `The Hateful Eight.’ Interestingly, Tornatore and Morricone also collaborated on the 1988 Oscar-winning classic ‘Cinema Paradiso,’ which remains a very popular film among film lovers in India. India’s pick for the Oscars this year, the Gujarati film ‘Chello Show’ has been compared to ‘Cinema Paradiso’ by several film critics the world over. ‘Ennio’ also sets out to reveal the less well-known side of Morricone, such as his passion for the game of chess or the origin in real life of some of his musical intuitions. Michelangelo Frammartino’s ‘Il Buco’ (English title: ‘The Hole’) follows the extraordinary adventure of the young members of the Piedmont Speleological Group who, having already explored all the caves of Northern Italy, changed course in August 1961 and went South to explore other caves unknown to man— Europe’s deepest cave in the untouched Calabrian hinterland as the bottom of the Bifurto Abyss, 700 meters below Earth, is reached for the first time. ‘Sulla giostra,’ co-written and directed by Giorgia Cecere, tells the story of an intense but ironic female duel over the fate of a family home, starring Lucia Sardo and Claudia Gerini. The film makes us ask a very basic question. What importance do the places hold in a person’s life where he/she has lived? Mario Martone’s ‘The King of Laughter’ is essentially a biographical film about the Neapolitan comic theater legend Eduardo Scarpetta, essayed by none other than the legendary Toni Servillo. At the beginning of the twentieth century, in the Naples of the Belle Époque, theaters and cinemas are on the rise. The great comedian Eduardo Scarpetta is the box-office king. Success has made him a very rich man. At the height of his success, Scarpetta allows himself what will prove to be a dangerous gamble. He decides to parody the play ‘The Daughter of Iorio,’ a tragedy by the greatest Italian poet of the time, Gabriele D’Annunzio. Will the gamble pay off or will it prove to be a disaster? ‘A Girl Returned,’ directed by Giuseppe Bonito, is set in the summer of 1975. A thirteen-year-old girl returns to the family she didn’t know she belonged to. Suddenly she loses everything from her previous life: a comfortable home and the exclusive affection reserved for an only child, and finds herself in a strange world barely reached by progress, forced to share a small, dark house with her natural parents and five other brothers she had never met before. Also starring the celebrated Italian actor Toni Servillo, Leonardo Di Costanzo’s ‘The Inner Cage’ is set in an old nineteenth-century jail, which is in the process of being vacated, when bureaucracy comes in the way. Together with a handful of officers, a dozen prisoners are left behind in a suspended bubble where rules get hazy, and new relationships form. In the month of November, the Italian Embassy Cultural Centre will be hosting a week-long retrospective on Pier Paolo Pasonlini, marking his centenary year, at the India Habitat Centre. The retrospective will be followed by a balet performance which will pay homage to Pasolini as a director, writer, and a poet, combining dance, music, words, and images. The Embassy of Italy in New Delhi as well as the Italian Cultural Centre, which celebrated its 50th Anniversary in October last year, has been playing in instrumental role in bringing the best of Italian cinema to India. Last year in March, the Embassy organized “Notti Stellate – Italian Cinema Under The Sky”. The three-day event, which was hosted with strict COVID-19 guidelines in place, screened films such as Pasolini’s short documentary film “Notes for a Film on India”, Marco Bellocchio’s 2019 critically acclaimed crime drama film “The Traitor”, Matteo Garrone’s 2015 fantasy film “Tale of Tales”, and a segment of the legendary Italian filmmaker Roberto Rossellini’s 10-part documentary miniseries on India titled “India Through Rossellini’s Eyes” made back in 1959. The visitors were served with pizza and gelato, once again reminding that food and cinema are a perfect pairing, especially when it comes to India and Italy. 

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