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Flesh depicts the stark reality of sex trade

Murtaza Ali Khan

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Flesh

EROS NOW

Swara Bhaskar, Akshay Oberoi, Vidya Malvade

After the controversial Amazon Prime series Rasbhari, Swara Bhaskar is back in the news with her new series Flesh which deals with the diabolical world of flesh trade. She essays the pivotal character of ACP Radha Nautiyal, an insomniac and a hard-drinking police officer with a troubled past, who is pitted against the basest criminals as she tries to unravel a web of immorality, cruelty and corruption. A lone woman fighting shifty pimps, malevolent criminals, and corrupt bureaucracy, Nautiyal is always unfazed. She is not averse to killing and torturing men or putting herself at risk. She is always willing to go the extra mile in order to get to the truth. Bhaskar is well supported by an ensemble cast that includes the likes of Akshay Oberoi, Vidya Malvade, Mahima Makwana, Yudhisthir Urs, and Natasa Stankovic.

Interestingly, the Siddharth Anand-created series, which recently premiered on Eros Now, has opened to some very strong reactions. A critic has accused it of “lacking nuance or sensitivity”. Another critic has described the series as a “flinch-fest”. Yet another critic has accused it of “sensationalism”. These extreme reactions to a series that explores the dark world of human trafficking immediately brought to my mind Brian De Palma’s 1983 crime drama Scarface, starring Al Pacino in the role of a Cuban refugee Tony Montana who arrives in 1980s Miami with nothing and rises to become a powerful drug lord. De Palma’s classic, based on a hard-hitting screenplay by Oliver Stone, unflinchingly depicts the naked reality of the drug mafia. But, De Palma’s dogged determination to portray the reality didn’t go too well with the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), which rated even a highly censored third cut of the film as ‘X’.

De Palma and the producer Martin Bergman were hell-bent on proving that the film was merely depicting the reality. So, they arranged a hearing with the MPAA and roped in a panel of experts including some narcotics officers who testified that Scarface accurately portrays the actual conditions prevalent in the drug underworld. Their testimonies greatly convinced the members of the rating board and decided to give an “R” rating to the aforementioned third cut of Scarface which ensured that the film could be released without any reduction in ticket prices. Also, it allowed them to run the ads as most newspapers, TV, and radio stations didn’t run ads for an X-rated film.

Flesh, written by the veteran writer Pooja Ladha Surti, too seems to suffer from a misperception that what it portrays is an exaggerated account of what actually goes on in the world of human trafficking. But, if we read the actual reports capturing the ground reality, then the depiction of sex and violence in Flesh wouldn’t really come across as over the top.

Now, in order to understand this better, it is important to understand the lack of livelihood opportunities outside of major Indian towns and cities. This often drives children and families out in search of work which makes them vulnerable to agents and traffickers waiting to exploit their situation. Also, ease of transportation and urbanisation has made it easier to traffic victims across India. According to a report by the National Crime Bureau, Murshidabad in West Bengal has the highest number of cases of human trafficking and illegal migration. Children are regularly trafficked from Murshidabad to Mumbai, Pune and other large cities of India. Murshidabad (like many other places in the country) is extremely vulnerable owing to poverty, lack of education and work opportunities in the region. The border areas are particularly prone to cross-border trafficking. Most victims of sex trafficking are young girls who are lured under false pretenses of marriage or employment. Girls of age 13-16 think that marriage is the only way to get away from poverty and so they often get caught up in the sex trafficking rackets. Those coming from backward castes and communities are most susceptible.

 While it is certainly not easy to watch for the faint-hearted, there is no denying that Flesh is an earnest attempt to portray the stark reality of human trafficking. Living in big cities with all the facilities at our disposal, we often tend to overlook the harsh realities associated with a poverty-stricken life. Flesh dares to jab us in the small of our backs, reminding us of the dichotomy that exists between the civilised world, which we think we have built for ourselves and real world, hiding behind the veneer of civilisation, where anarchy and barbarism still reign supreme.

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US talk show legend Larry King passes away at 87

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Washington [US], January 23 (ANI): American award-winning TV and radio host Larry King, who became a household name after hosting CNN’s insanely popular show ‘Larry King Live’, passed away on Saturday at the age of 87 after enduring a battle with the COVID-19 for weeks.
The beloved host died on Saturday morning at Cedars-Sinai Medical Centre in Los Angeles, reported Fox News. The news of Larry’s demise was confirmed by a statement posted online by his company, Ora Media on the late star’s official Twitter handle.
The statement read, “With profound sadness, Ora Media announces the death of our co-founder, host, and friend Larry King, who passed away this morning at age 87 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.”
Along with details about Larry’s life and condolences for his family, the statement further revealed that the funeral and memorial services will be announced later in co-ordination with the King family, who for now have asked for privacy at this time of grief.

Larry had reportedly been admitted to a hospital earlier this month after he was diagnosed with the novel coronavirus. His death comes after years of health problems that plagued the late star including his battles with lung and prostate cancer.
In a career spanning over six decades, Larry interviewed a staggering number of celebrities, political leaders, and public figures, including every US president from Richard Nixon to Donald Trump.
Over the years, Larry fathered five children and welcomed nine grandchildren, along with four great-grandchildren. The legendary host suffered a terrible tragedy last year when two of his children, daughter Chaia King and son Andy King, both died within three weeks of each other unexpectedly over the summer. (ANI)

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Siddhant Chaturvedi joins Bernie Sanders meme fest

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Mumbai (Maharashtra) [India], January 23 (ANI): US Senator Bernie Sanders has taken social media by storm with his look at the US presidential inauguration ceremony, which has triggered a hilarious meme fest.
Taking a cue from several celebrities, who have been sharing Sanders memes on their Instagram stories, the ‘Gully Boy’ actor Siddhant Chaturvedi shared his own version of the meme. The actor shared a fun mirror selfie of him on Instagram on Saturday, which also features the US Senator.
In the picture, the 27-year-old actor can be seen sporting a mustard-coloured shirt with a DSLR in hand. He captioned the post as, “It’s no poetry till you’re found.” The actor can be seen posing in front of a mirror while clicking the photo, and Sanders can be seen sitting in the cupboard behind him.

Since being shared on the photo-sharing application, the post has garnered more than sixty-seven thousand likes. For the unversed, at the US presidential inauguration, Sanders arrived wearing a heavy winter jacket and patterned mittens, triggering a meme fest on the social media.
A picture featuring Sanders sitting cross-legged on a chair in his cozy and comfortable outfit among the guests, who were dressed to the nines, has now taken over the internet. Not only netizens but many celebrities have also shared their photoshopped pictures with the US Senator.
Meanwhile, on the work front, Siddhant will be next seen in the horror-comedy ‘Phone Bhoot’ along with Katrina Kaif and Ishaan Khatter. The actor will also be seen in ‘Bunty Aur Babli 2’ with Saif Ali Khan and Rani Mukerji. He also has an untitled Shakun Batra film in the pipeline, co-starring Deepika Padukone. (ANI)

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IFFI celebrates Netaji’s 125th birth anniversary with screening of ‘The Forgotten Hero’

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Mumbai (Maharashtra) [India], January 23 (ANI): Joining the national and international celebrations of the 125th birth anniversary year of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, the 51st International Film Festival of India on Saturday organised a special screening of the Shyam Benegal directorial ‘Netaji Subas Chandra Bose: The Forgotten Hero.’
The screening was organised at the venue of the festival which is being organised at Panjim, Goa.
According to a release by Press Information Bureau (PIB), the festival delegates will get to relive and get inspired afresh from Benegal’s gripping portrayal of the valour and fortitude shown by Netaji in the national freedom struggle.
India’s formidable freedom fighter, who said, “Tum mujhe khoon do, mai tumhe azadi dunga” (Give me blood and I will give you freedom), was a man of action. In the fight against the British rule, he called upon the youth of the country to come together and fight for Independence.
The 220-minute Hindi epic war biographical war film depicts Netaji’s life in Nazi Germany during 1941-1943, in Japanese-occupied Asia during 1943-1945, and the events leading to the formation of Azad Hind Fauj. It also includes his life’s story in flashback sequences.
Screening of The Forgotten Hero at IFFI comes at a very apposite moment, on a day when the Government of India begins the celebration of Netaji’s 125th Birth Anniversary Year.
In order to honour and remember Netaji’s indomitable spirit and selfless service to the nation, the Government has also decided to celebrate Netaji’s birthday on the 23rd day of January every year as “PARAKRAM DIWAS.”
The celebration of Parakram Diwas seeks to inspire our citizens, especially the youth, to act, as Netaji did, with fortitude in the face of adversity, and to infuse in them a spirit of patriotic fervour.
“Netaji remains one of the most beloved national heroes and a towering icon of India’s freedom struggle. The screening of The Forgotten Hero has been scheduled to honour and remember Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s indomitable personality and selfless service to the nation. On the 125th birth anniversary of the great freedom fighter, we fondly remember Netaji’s unparalleled contribution to the country,” festival director Chaitanya Prasad says:
‘Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose: The Forgotten Hero,’ has actor and director Sachin Khedekar in the lead role, playing Netaji. The film has received the National Film Award for Best Feature Film on National Integration for the year 2005. (ANI)

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Shahid Kapoor treats fans to steaming shirtless picture from Goa trip

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New Delhi [India], January 23 (ANI): Bollywood powerhouse Shahid Kapoor, who was last seen in the 2019 hit film ‘Kabir Singh’, recently treated his fans to a steaming picture of himself from his Goa trip.
The picture, shared on Instagram on Saturday, features the actor lying shirtless and soaking in the sun. He is also seen flaunting his well-built physique donning black coloured wayfarer sunglasses.
“Sunny side up,” he wrote in the caption.

Shahid’s wife Mira Kapoor gushed over his stunning picture and dropped a fire emoji in the comments section. The ‘Jab We Met’ actor had headed to Goa for a vacation with his family earlier this week.
Shahid, who had started his acting career with romantic movies, has been taking up intense roles in the past years. Lately, he has starred in movies like ‘Haider’, ‘Udta Punjab’, ‘Rangoon’, and others, which highlighted his versatility as an actor.
Meanwhile, on the professional front, Shahid will be next seen in the remake of the sports film ‘Jersey’. The 39-year-old star will be seen essaying the role of a cricket player in the movie. He had recently wrapped up shooting for it. It also features actors Mrunal Thakur and Pankaj Kapur, among others. (ANI)

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Deepika Padukone has her own Bernie Sanders meme

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New Delhi [India], January 23 (ANI): Unless you have been living under a rock, you might be familiar with the viral memes surrounding US Senator Bernie Sanders’ look at the US presidential inauguration ceremony, which has taken the social media by storm.
A number of celebrities have shared the memes on their Instagram stories, and now Bollywood actor Deepika Padukone has happily joined the bandwagon. The ‘Cocktail’ actor shared the meme on the photo-sharing application and asked her Instafam to suggest a caption for the rib-tickling post.
The picture sees her seated on the counter of a kitchen preparing something, where she is joined by Bernie. While Sanders is seen seated in the regular viral avatar, Deepika is dressed in a striped pullover and has a little tensed expression on her face.
The post prompted hilarious responses from the ‘Om Shant Om’ actor’s followers with her actor husband suggesting a caption that says, “Namak zara kam daalna beti.”

Bollywood actor Siddhant Chaturvedi, who will be sharing screen space with Deepika in ace director Shakun Batra’s next film, took the famous ‘Rasode mei kaun tha (who was in the kitched)’ reference for suggesting a caption for the picture.
“When you realise Rasode mein ye the,” the ‘Gully Boy’ actor commented. The picture of Sanders with his cozy mittens and grandpa jacket went viral after he appeared at the inauguration ceremony of the 46th US President Joe Biden.
Meanwhile, on the work front, Deepika has an impressive line-up of projects in the pipeline including ’83’, ‘Baiju Bawra’, ‘Sanki’, ‘Pathan’, and Indian adaptation of Nancy Meyers’s 2015 hit Hollywood film ‘The Intern’. (ANI)

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Anupam Kher recalls working with cast of ‘Hum’ as film clocks 30 years

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New Delhi [India], January 23 (ANI): As his superhit film ‘Hum’ clocked in 30 years on Saturday, veteran actor Anupam Kher shared a few stills, reminiscing working with the cast and crew of the movie.
The 65-year-old actor shared the pictures on his Twitter handle and termed ‘Hum’ as one of his “most favourite” movies.
“#HUM will always remain one of my most favourite movies. Late #MukulAnand as the director was spectacular,” he wrote.
“And dear friend #RomeshSharma was a very magnanimous producer. Cast and crew were first rate. I had a very joyous time with my partner @annukapoor_#30YearsOfHUM,” he added.

Directed by Mukul S Anand, ‘Hum’ is an action-thriller that released in 1991. Besides, Anupam, the film also features megastars Amitabh Bachchan, Rajinikanth, Govinda, among others.
Meanwhile, on the work front, Anupam, who last appeared in the biographical film ‘The Accidental Prime Minister’, has several projects in the pipeline including ‘The Last Show’, ‘Mungilal Rocks’, and ‘The Kashmir Files’. (ANI)

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