BABA AZMI’S UPLIFTING FILM ‘MEE RAQSAM’ ENCOURAGES US TO PURSUE OUR DREAMS - The Daily Guardian
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BABA AZMI’S UPLIFTING FILM ‘MEE RAQSAM’ ENCOURAGES US TO PURSUE OUR DREAMS

Murtaza Ali Khan

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Baba Azmi’s ‘Mee Raqsam’ was recently screened at the 3rd Azamgarh International Film Festival. The film, which was released last year on ZEE5, shares a special relationship with Azamgarh. Baba Azmi’s legendary poet father Kaifi Azmi had a deep desire to make a film in his native village, Mijwaan, situated in Azamgarh, Uttar Pradesh. But he couldn’t realise it during his lifetime. So Baba Azmi took it upon himself to fulfil his father’s dream. And he finally realised it by making ‘Mee Raqsam’. Now, the film is not just made in Mijwaan but it also has the bragging rights of discovering its lead actor from there. Young Aditi Subedi who plays the central role of Maryam in the film was handpicked by Baba Azmi for his film during a visit to Mizwaan. For four months, Aditi was trained in Mumbai while staying with Baba and family. The training also included learning Bharatanatyam.

Aditi Subedi responds to a question from … s her father (extreme right) looks on (Photo Credit: Twenty4 Frames)

‘Mee Raqsam’, which also stars Danish Husain, Shraddha Kaul, Rakesh Chaturvedi Om, and Naseeruddin Shah in pivotal roles, revolves around a young Muslim girl who aspires to become a dancer. But hailing from a small village like Mijwaan, Maryam faces great resistance as everyone questions her dreams and choices including her aunt and grandmother. After her mother passes away, she finds great support in her father (played by Danish Husain) who backs her in this journey, only to face a great backlash from the community. A poor tailor dependent on the community for work is suddenly ostracised on the commands of a powerful religious leader named Hashim Seth (essayed by Naseeruddin Shah) who strongly disapproves of a Muslim girl’s affinity towards Bharatanatyam—a dance form he considers alien to Islam and hence unworthy to practice.

But it’s not just Maryam’s community that’s against her learning Bharatanatyam. For, there are also people on the other side of the fence who find it difficult to digest the idea of a Muslim girl getting so involved with a dance form that’s so deeply rooted in spiritual practices closely associated with Hinduism. A rich and powerful patron named Jai Prakash (portrayed by Rakesh Chaturvedi Om) is hell-bent on derailing Maryam’s journey. So on one side, there are bigots like Hashim Seth and on the other side, there are hypocrites like Jai Prakash desperately trying to snuff out her penchant for Bharatanatyam. Will Maryam succeed in overcoming these insurmountable odds? Or will she too lose this battle against bigots like all those other girls whose dreams are ruthlessly crushed by patriarchy?

Written by Safdar Mir and Husain Mir, ‘Mee Raqsam’ may not be a film that can boast a big budget but it is definitely a film with a big heart. The various performances on offer are really the film’s USP. Naseeruddin Shah as Hashim Seth is in many ways the antithesis of his progressive ‘Maulana’ character from Shoaib Mansoor’s ‘Khuda Kay Liye’. Seth is a relic of a bygone era desperate to perpetually keep his community caged in the dingy recesses of bigotry for his petty political benefits. Interestingly, Rakesh Chaturvedi Om as Jai Prakash is not unlike Mullah Saidullah, the character he essayed in Anurag Singh’s ‘Kesari’. Although the two characters are separated by their religions, their minds are united by bigotry and hate. Kudos to Rakesh Chaturvedi Om for yet again succeeding in making a highly unlikeable character look so believable. Danish Husain is also superb as Maryam’s hapless but determined father. Those who saw him play the part of Taliban’s supreme commander Mullah Khalid in the Netflix series ‘Bard of Blood’ may find it a little difficult to recognise him here. Shraddha Kaul is menacing as Maryam’s regressive aunt who believes that women are incapable of stepping out of their households. When she forces Maryam to take up stitching classes to stop her from learning Bharatanatyam, she actually feels as if she is doing a huge favour to her dead sister by preventing her daughter from going astray.

‘Mee Raqsam’ is a powerful reminder of the patriarchy-driven prejudice propagated in the name of religion which tries to prevent women from pursuing their dreams. It is also a testament to a son’s commitment to the fulfilment of his great poet father’s dream. But there is another dream that the film fulfils. That of Aditi Subedi’s father to watch his daughter on the big screen in his hometown of Azamgarh and in front of his own people. When Aditi was invited by Shobha Akshar, Assistant Editor, Pakhi on the stage as part of the film festival’s post-screening discussion, everyone present there was on their feet. Aditi couldn’t hold back her tears anymore. Her father was equally emotional seeing her daughter cast a spell on all those present with her spellbinding performance. Who says dreams can’t be fulfilled? All that’s required is a desire, and a will to fulfil that desire.

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Lifestyle & Entertainment

HEMA SARDESAI SINGS FOR MARGAOTHECLOSEDFILE

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PANAJI : Renowned playback singer Hema Sardesai on Tuesday said that she is back to work with Music Director Nikhil Kamath of Nikhil-Vinay fame and well known bollywood film director Kapil Kaustubh Sharma . In a post on Facebook, she said, ‘’Back to working with Nikhil Kamath of Nikhil-Vinay fame..and Kapil Kaustubh Sharma well known bollywood film director. God’s Will. Thank you for your kind support. God bless you.’’

Nikhil Kamath said,’’Proud to compose a new song for Kapil Kaustubh Sharma sung and lyrics by Hema Sardesai. It was great working with Hema Sardesai.’’ Director Kapil Kaustubh Sharma said, ‘’Who can forget mesmerizing voice of Hema Sardesai in Awara Bhawre Jo Hole Hole Gaye or Badal Pe Paon Hai from Chak De India or San Sana San or Gupt and many more…Glad to share she sings a fun filled song for MargaoTheClosedFile. She also pens it and the fabulous composition is by Nikhil Kamath. It stars Kittu Gidwani, Pallavi Joshi.”

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SWARA BHASKER’S NEXT WILL BE A MURDER MYSTERY

Uday Pratap Singh

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NEW DELHI: Murder mystery as a genre has always been something that grabs a lot of attention, and well, donning the role of an investigating officer once again is Swara Bhasker.

Produced by Moffy Production and co-produced by K.P production the film titled Mimamsa promises to keep you on the edge and will be directed by Gagan Puri. After receiving rave reviews for Flesh, this will be the second time Swara will be seen as a cop. She will take on the role of Adhira Dixit in the movie that is based in Bhopal.

Talking about the same, Swara said, ‘’The experience of shooting for the movie was one of its kind as it kept me invested throughout the shoot and I am sure that the viewers will be too when they get to watch it. This was also the first film I shot for after lockdown last year, and that makes the movie extremely special to me, and it helped me have a sense of gratitude for the work I do. Without revealing much, I am just going to say that the movie will take you on a journey that is layered, is mysterious, and thought-provoking.’’

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AYUSHMANN SHARES HIS EXPERIENCE ON DOCTOR G

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NEW DELHI: Bollywood actor Ayushmann Khurrana said that he is lucky that he chose acting as his profession because it has not only enabled him to live so many remarkable characters but has also taken him to so many incredible destinations.

The actor added that this is the first time in his career that he has shot in Bhopal. He said: “For Doctor G, I’m fortunate to be visiting the heart of India and seeing it in its full glory. I’m shooting in Bhopal for the first time in my career and the city of lakes is a beautiful place. I’m bowled over by the warmth of the people and they have won my heart forever.”

Ayushmann feels he is blessed to be born in a beautiful country like India.

“Earlier this year, I was in the North East for Anek and experienced the spectacular Kaziranga National Park. India is the most beautiful place on the planet. I’m blessed to be born in this country which gives me the opportunity to cherish so much in my lifetime,” he added.

Ayushmann has a big lineup of films including “Chandigarh Kare Aashiqui” directed by Abhishek Kapoor, “Anek” by Anubhav Sinha and “Doctor G” helmed by Anubhuti Kashyap.

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ENTER UNIQUE BESPOKE FURNITURE MADE IN INDIA

Noor Anand Chawla

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An innate appreciation for one’s abode has been a welcome effect of the pandemic. Finding themselves spending more time at home than ever before, people have begun to re-do their interiors, making their dwellings comfortable yet stylish reflections of themselves. Homegrown furniture brands are doing particularly well due to their ease of access, affordable prices and unique designs. One such brand is Mangrove Collective, co-founded by Suman Sharma in 2015, that witnessed tremendous growth over the last year.

This award-winning collaborative design and build studio, which crafts customised furniture and millwork, is an offshoot of the multidisciplinary architecture and design practice called Studio Lotus. When the studio found it challenging to translate design concepts into reality, they decided to begin making their own pieces. “It’s easy to find people who specialize in a particular material like wood, metal, etc., but to strike a balance between different materials and assimilate regional craft into the work, was a difficult task,” shares Sharma, the Principal and Head of Business at the firm. Mangrove Collective was launched with a vision to use indigenous and largely forgotten crafts, by combining traditional know-how with aspects of engineering.

Born and raised in Lutyen’s-era Delhi, Sharma was greatly inspired by its colonial architecture of bungalows adorned with tall ceilings, fireplaces, and verandahs. She also took inspiration from her father who was a photographer. Pursuing a Master’s degree in Furniture Design from the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, cemented this love further. Over the years, she has worked with leading lifestyle brands such as Good Earth, Samir Wheaton Design, and Krea, and has also dabbled in her own entrepreneurial ventures such as Viva Design through which she exported furniture, and Sotomoto, where she retailed a range of furniture and lifestyle accessories for children. Sharma also taught at Pearl Academy, New Delhi.

Its identity as a collective sets Mangrove apart from other brands. The team follows a conscious process of celebrating local resources and traditional craftsmanship, by ensuring that designers, craftsmen and clients are equal partners. Sharma explains, “for us, design, art, craft and technology go hand in hand. When we say our work is craft-based it doesn’t mean that our products look ‘hand-crafted’. Depending on the nature of the commission, the requirements, and the function, either handiwork or technology can take precedence over the design of the products. We are constantly challenging ourselves to look at products and processes in a unique manner by combining traditional craftsmanship with state-of-the-art technology.”

Designing high-quality furniture requires a balance between ergonomics, joinery details, functionality and aesthetics. The natural synergy between their furniture designers and artisans enables them to create one-of-a-kind products. “Each product for us is a journey where all stakeholders – the craftsmen, the designers, the technicians, and the consumers have a takeaway – a memory that lasts a lifetime. With every product and commission, we try to feed into the vision and aspirations of the user. We aim to breathe life into spaces and narrate stories by reinterpreting indigenous and largely-forgotten crafts, uniting traditional know-how with engineering to develop exceptional products,” shares Sharma with a smile.

The pandemic induced lockdown and subsequent supply chain disruptions compelled homeowners to look at local brands that are capable of producing furniture at par with international standards. And a homegrown furniture brand can offer a high level of customisation – representative of and suited to the client’s personality and lifestyle. Quite interestingly, the pandemic has resulted in a renewed appreciation for local artisanal skills that allowed furniture brands to incorporate age-old craft forms into furniture, giving them a new meaning in this era.

“Space optimisation has been a top priority during the lockdown, and homeowners have spent a considerable amount of time sprucing up nooks and corners, creating spaces for rest, rejuvenation and recreation. Specifically, when it comes to living areas, we have observed a massive demand for sofas and lounge chairs that strike a fine balance between ergonomics and durability,” shares Sharma.

As a bespoke furniture studio, Mangrove makes pieces mainly on order. However, their experience centre setup in their design studio allows clients to visit and feel the products as they would in real-life. International shipping is available and they have clients in countries like Mauritius, Dubai and London. Each piece is unique and the process of making it depends on the complexity of the product—roughly between twelve to sixteen weeks. Their most popular products are the ones integrated with crafted elements or those whose design reflects the context of the space, in turn resonating with the clients on a deeper level.

At Mangrove, the team attempts to develop pieces that are inspired by traditional crafts interpreted in a unique manner, making this brand one to watch for.

The writer is a lawyer who pens lifestyle articles for various publications and her blog www.nooranandchawla.com. She can be reached on nooranand@gmail.com.

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THE GREAT INDIAN SALAD FEST

We bring to you some binge worthy, guilt free salads that are bound to cheer you up, especially amid the ongoing coronavirus crisis.

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With monsoon in its full bloom and the dreadful pandemic threatening to make a comeback with its third wave, our focus on health and nutrition has doubled. Fresh foods, greens, and a wholesome diet is important for building our immunity and at the same time giving us the energy and zing to cope with stressful work from home routines, which can make us lethargic after a heavy afternoon meal. The pandemic has also been a little heavy on families in terms of both cooking and eating because it is natural for a lot of us to consume more when families are around all the time. It is important to get hooked on to salads at this point for people of all ages to get those essential nutrients, micronutrients and minerals, which our regular meals cannot fulfill.

The need of the hour is to add in freshness and seasonal produce and that can help in many ways and o add in that dollop of health so as to keep other issues at bay. Immunity has been the operative word since 2020 and it is showing even more heavily today with so many Covid related diseases cropping up, making I even more important to focus on our health. Here are some binge worthy, guilt free salads that are bound to cheer you up!

Let’s start with a Mango and Grilled Tofu Salad, which is perfect for the summers. I’m not a tofu fan, so I prefer to replace that with either chicken or paneer.

MANGO AND GRILLED TOFU SALAD BY TARUN SIBAL OF TITLIE

Ingredients (salad) 

• Mangoes (ripe) – 2 

• Carrots – 2  

• Cucumbers -2 

• Mixed Greens – 1 bowl (arugula, mixed lettuce, mint, sweet basil, fresh coriander)

• Tofu – 80 gm (or chicken/paneer)

• Sweet Paprika powder – 1 tsp

• Fresh ground pepper – 1 tsp 

• Salt – ½ tsp 

Ingredients (dressing) 

• Zest of 1 lime

• 1/4 cup lime juice freshly squeezed (about 2 limes)

• Sweet Paprika Powder – 1 tsp 

• 1 tsp salt

• 2 tbsp olive oil 

• Freshly ground pepper

• 1 tsp honey 

Method

• Cut the mangoes into wedges

• Cut the tofu into wedges, season it with salt and paprika

• Grill the tofu on both sides with some olive oil on medium heat and keep it aside 

• Take out carrot and cucumber ribbons and add them to cold water so that they remain crisp 

• Add the mixed greens to the ice-cold water 

• Mix all the ingredients of the dressing in a jar and shake well  

• Pat dry the leaves, carrots and cucumber ribbons and mix together

• Add salt, pepper, paprika, mangoes and tofu. Add 3/4th dressing to the mix 

• Arrange it on a plate with tofu and mangoes on top 

• Garnish with mint leaves and paprika powder 

• Drizzle some of the remaining dressing on top

Voila! Your Gourmet Casual Summer Salad is good to go! The best part about this salad is that it is a full meal in itself. There are no cravings after a portion of this. It also rids me of the guilt about the ice cream and mango shake binges that are on at this time of the year!

KOSAMBARI BY CHEF AROKIYADOSS AT THE APPUMM HOUSE

Kosambari is a simple moong dal salad popular in Karnataka. It is a delicious, protein-packed lentil salad that is an integral part of Kannada cuisine. It is my go-to recipe during these sultry months because it is easy to make and uses the bare minimum ingredients. Chef Arokiyadoss adds, “It is also popular as kosumalli or hesarubele kosambari and is part of every festive meal or wedding feast. In Andhra, it goes by the name vadapappu. Vadapappu is nothing but soaked moong dal while Kosambari is a salad comprising of soaked moong dal, cucumber, fresh coconut and coriander leaves. Undoubtedly festive, yet simple. It is a light yet filling salad that can be eaten as a meal by itself along with a glass of neer mor or South Indian buttermilk. It is quick to make and very versatile in terms of the ingredients used. Basic moong dal salad recipe calls for soaked moong dal and cucumber. You can add grated carrot and raw mango too for variation. Soaking of moong dal makes it easily digestible and more nutritious. A perfect protein rich salad for those looking to lose weight!”

Ingredients

• 1 cup yellow moong dal

• 2 teaspoon lemon juice

• 2 tablespoon coriander leaves

• 2 medium cucumber

• 1 teaspoon ginger

• 4 medium carrot

• Salt as required

For Tempering

• 1 pinch asafoetida

• 2 teaspoon vegetable oil

• 4 green chilli

• 1 teaspoon mustard seeds

Method

• Soak the moong dal in water for 2 hours and then, drain the water and keep the dal aside. Now, peel and chop the cucumber, carrots, ginger and keep them in different bowls.

• In a large mixing bowl, add the chopped veggies along with salt, lemon juice, coriander leaves and soaked moong dal. Mix the ingredients well.

• Now, heat oil in a pan over medium flame and add mustard seeds in it and after a minute, add asafoetida and green chillies. Fry them for another minute and turn off the flame.

• Pour the tempering on the salad dish and wait for few minutes before you put it in the refrigerator. Serve chilled!

DUO OF MELON SALAD RECIPE BY CHEF PAWAN BISHT AT THE ONE8 COMMUNE

This is my ultimate favourite, since the melon salad recipe is the simple, delicious, and healthy with a burst of flavours.

Ingredients

• 1 cup scooped watermelon

• 1 cup scooped cantaloupe melon (I use musk melon)

• 2 cups washed and dried aragula (rocket) leaves

• 4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

• 2 tablespoons organic honey

• 2 tablespoons olive oil

• 1 cup balsamic vinegar

• 4 tablespoons of roasted pumpkin seeds

• Salt to taste

• Pepper to taste

Method

• Take a bowl and blend olive oil, honey, lemon juice, salt and pepper thoroughly.

• Add balsamic vinegar to it and put it on a low flame.

• Reduce the mixture till it comes to a glaze consistency.

• Scoop watermelon and cantaloupe melon, keep in the fridge to chill.

• Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl, add the balsamic glaze and the aragula.

WATERMELON-E-FETA SALAD RECIPE BY CHEF SAHIL SINGH

Even though this recipe needs a slightly elaborate preparation with the different kinds of lettuce and the feta, it is totally worth it. I of course substitute a few ingredients with what is available at the moment, but it turns out best this way. Of course, I do not worry about not finding one variety of lettuce. I use a little more of the ones I have or add spinach or rocket leaves.

Ingredients

• Romaine lettuce – 50 gm                          

• Lolorosso lettuce – 50 gm

• Iceberg lettuce – 50 gm

• Balsamic (Reduction) – 10 gm

• Watermelon cubed

• Greek feta – 15 gm

• Salt as per taste

• Pepper  

• Walnuts – around 15 gm (I add some raisins and roasted almonds, too)

Method:

• Cut the watermelon into cubes and roughly pluck the lettuce.

• Chill watermelon cubes for a few hours. 

• Once ready, marinate the watermelon and lettuce in balsamic dressing separately

• Add salt and pepper.

• Take a fresh bowl and spread lettuce first. Add watermelon on top of salad and sprinkle

The Greek feta cheese and walnut/nuts.

• Serve immediately.

These are simple recipes using seasonal fruits, vegetables and ingredients that are mostly available in our kitchen or the fridge. Eating five portions of fruit each day, greens for the vitamins and to fulfill all the protein requirements per day is all very tedious, and most of us fail at getting the right nutrition, which is the need of the hour. Salads can be boring but with some of these brilliant recipes, it can be a fabulous add on to our meals, as well as something that can be snacked on for those mid-day and evening hunger pangs. Keep safe, keep healthy and keep eating the right stuff this summer!

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THE INCREDIBLE JOURNEY OF HARSHVARDHAN RANE

Uday Pratap Singh

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Actor Harshvardhan Rane has garnered a huge fan base over the years, thanks to his performances in films like Taish and Sanam Teri Kasam. Besides his acting ventures, Rane is also loved for being an adventure enthusiast. While he loves riding motorbikes, he also owns an off-roader, which he’s named Jango. Interestingly, he’s owned the 4×4 for eight years and now he’s become the face of the brand! 

His friends and fans call him ‘the mountain boy’ and they are well aware that Harshvardhan holds Jango very close to his heart. He’s done various adventure trails with it and he’s spent days eating, sleeping and literally staying in it at deserted locations. Now, becoming a face for the brand Mahindra is like life coming a full circle for him.

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