Indian Women Rising, Educate Girls USA to raise funds for education of Oscar-contending 'Bittu's' cast - The Daily Guardian
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Indian Women Rising, Educate Girls USA to raise funds for education of Oscar-contending ‘Bittu’s’ cast

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New Delhi [India], March 5 (ANI): Indian Women Rising, a cinema collective founded by Ekta Kapoor, Guneet Monga, Tahira Kashyap Khurrana, and Ruchikaa Kapoor Sheikh is collaborating with ‘Educate Girls USA’, an NGO founded by Safeena Husain to raise funds for the two young leads Rani and Renu Kumari from the Oscar-contending short film ‘Bittu’.
The collaboration also received the support of Global icon Priyanka Chopra Jonas who gave a shout-out to the fundraiser event, standing in solidarity with the right to education for the young girls.
Priyanka said, “Bittu is moving, raw and real. It takes a devasting incident and presents it from a unique perspective. As soon as I saw it, I knew I wanted to help give it the attention it deserves. It’s a great example of how women supporting women can make anything possible and the Indian Women Rising Collective is proof of that and I can’t wait to see what they do next.”
She added, “Cinema the world over needs more women to bring their voices, stories, and perspectives to the fore and this is one step in that direction. This fundraiser will help these 2 amazing young girls, Rani and Renu Kumari continue their education and pursue all the dreams and ambitions they have for themselves and I hope that many will come forward to help make this a reality.”
The fundraiser is scheduled for today and will be moderated by digital sensation and content creator Prajakta Koli, who was seen in the recently-released Netflix show ‘Mismatched’.
Commenting on it, Prajakta said, “It is my absolute pleasure that I get to be associated with a beautiful piece of art like Bittu at whatever capacity. I have so much love for Guneet, Tahira, and Ekta for always telling stories that touch your heart in ways unknown. Also, getting shortlisted for the academy is a tremendous feat and I am so proud of how content is evolving in our country.”
While the fundraiser will prominently emphasise the importance of girls’ education, it also aims to raise awareness about its related advantages on the overall development of the girl child, including confidence, health, and hygiene, her agency to decision making and empowerment.
Directed by Karishma Dev Dube, ‘Bittu’ is based on a true story and tells the tale of a close friendship between two girls, eclipsed by an accidental poisoning at school. From casting real children amongst the valleys of the Himalayas to shooting against the backdrop of the mountains, the film offers a visually aesthetic as well as an authentic experience to its viewers.
The film has garnered critical acclaim and recognition for its distinct cinematography and poignant storytelling. The movie’s strength also lies in its unconventional casting. The central characters of Bittu and Chand are played by first-time performers, who were cast from the local community in Uttarakhand where the film was shot.
Elaborating more on this Karishma, said, “This film exists because of the unforgettable performances of Rani Kumari and Renu Kumari. Without our two young leads, Bittu would never have the life span it currently does, representing India on global platforms such as the Academy and the Director’s Guild Of America.”
She added, “Regardless of their challenging circumstances, these little girls were consummate professionals, keeping up with the rigor of film production. When you watch this film, you will not be able to deny the fact that Rani and Renu deserve everything, or at the very least, a shot at life that provides opportunities that can help sharpen the irrefutable talent that already exists in them.”
Speaking on the fundraiser event to support the education of the lead actors of the film, Karishma said, “Today, Rani and Renu like many other children, struggle to stay in class. They are coming from a migrant laborer community who are especially hard hit during the pandemic.”
She further said, “I am so grateful for Educate Girls and Indian Women Rising, who have come together to help us change the lives of these two incredible children and their families. If we can give them the life they deserve, then it would be the best thing we have achieved with this film.”
Indian Women Rising in a joint statement shared, “Bittu is a special film and the two girls are its very soul. The performances of Rani and Renu in the film proved that each child is gifted and just needs an opportunity to flourish. We are thrilled to collaborate with Educate Girls USA and raise funds to secure the education and overall development of Rani and Renu. Education is the basic right of every child and it is our humble effort to bring a tangible change in the lives of these two talented girls.”
Safeena Husain, Founder of Educate Girls USA, said, “Children need to get equal opportunities to access quality education. With this collaboration, we are trying to bring the vital importance of investing in girls’ education to the forefront.”
Husain added, “It is the best investment the world can make as it positively impacts 9 sustainable development goals, including health, nutrition, employment, even climate change. This investment also helps break the intergenerational cycle of poverty, patriarchy, and illiteracy as an educated girl is more than twice as likely to educate her children.”
The 93rd Academy Awards announced the shortlists in nine categories nearly a month back and ‘Bittu’ made it to the Live Action Short Film shortlist.
Competing amongst 174 films from across the globe, ‘Bittu’ qualified for the top 10 after the first round of voting and will now be subjected to the votes of members of the short films and animation branch to determine the nominees. (ANI)

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‘THE STARLING’ IS A DEEPLY PHILOSOPHICAL FILM ABOUT OVERCOMING GRIEF

Murtaza Ali Khan

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Toronto International Film Festival 2021 offered a very interesting lineup of films. On one hand we had crowd pullers like Denis Villeneuve’s ‘Dune’ and Edgar Wright’s ‘Last Night in Soho,’ on the other we had gritty dramas like Antoine Fuqua’s ‘The Guilty’ and Michael McGowan’s ‘All My Puny Seasons’. The festival also screened riveting documentaries like Mohammed Abugeth and Daniel Carsenty’s ‘The Devil’s Drivers’ and Gian Cassini’s ‘Comala’. But, perhaps, the most unique film to screen at the 2021 TIFF was Theodore Melfi’s dramedy ‘The Starling,’ based on a screenplay by Matt Harris. The film stars Melissa McCarthy, Kevin Kline, Chris O’Dowd, and Timothy Olyphant.

After Lilly (McCarthy) and Jack (Chris O’Dowd) lose their infant daughter, grief gets the better of Jack and he enrolls in a psychiatric clinic. But Lilly decides to deal with her guilt while going about her day to day affairs. She keeps her job at the grocery store, continues to look after the family’s expansive rural property, and dutifully visits her husband at the clinic every week. Even as she is trying to come to terms with the reality of her existence a combative bird takes nest beside her quiet home and repeatedly taunts and attacks the grief-stricken Lilly.

During one of the sessions at the psychiatric clinic where Jack is staying, a counselor suggests that Lilly should see a local therapist, Larry (Kevin Kline), after she suspects that Lilly isn’t tending to her own grieving process. But the counselor fails to mention that Larry gave up psychology long ago to become a veterinarian. Things come full circle when Lilly meets Larry as the latter’s veterinarian skills prove quite handy to the former in dealing with the territorial bird wreaking havoc in her garden.

The idea for the unique story stemmed from Matt’s personal experience of working in a mental health hospital to earn a living while attending graduate school for his Master’s. It evolved into a story of an inexplicable tragedy that befalls a couple as they are forced to reconcile their grief and seek a way forward if they are to share a future together. Matt wrote the script with the prize money he won from the prestigious Academy Nicholl Fellowship in Screenwriting. It made the rounds until director Ted Melfi fell in love with it. After years of near-misses, the film finally got made with its post-production getting completed during the pandemic.

Now, The Starling doesn’t offer a regular story. The ideas and themes that it deals with make it a very complex film. And perhaps that’s why it’s been in the waiting for so long. And if it wouldn’t have been for Ted Melfi it would have remained a screenplay for at least some more years to come. Melfi is known for films such as ‘Winding Roads,’ ‘St. Vincent,’ and ‘Hidden Figures,’ which was nominated for three academy awards including Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay. The Brooklyn-born filmmaker has a rare gift to deal with subjects that puts strong women characters in the mix of things. While ‘Winding Roads’ is about three women navigating their respective love lives, ‘Hidden Figures’ tells the story of a team of female African-American mathematicians who served a vital role in NASA during the early years of the U.S. space program.

In ‘The Starling,’ Melfi has his job cut out to make the rather peculiar character of Lilly look believable. And he does succeed in the task. Of course, the casting choice of his ‘St. Vincent’ star Melissa McCarthy in the role of Lilly proves to be an inspired one. McCarthy is one of the few actors around who are capable of making the audiences laugh and cry at the drop of a hat. I remember recently watching her in the Hulu show ‘Nine Perfect Strangers’ wherein during one of the funny scenes she chokes on a grape. McCarthy is so good in the scene that I just couldn’t hold back my laughter in spite of the precarious nature of her situation. From that point onwards in the show whenever she appears on the screen she is able to punctuate the tension. But few minutes into ‘The Starling,’ I totally forgot about the character in ‘Nine Perfect Strangers’ and all I really cared about was Lilly. That’s how good an actor McCarthy really is.

‘The Starling’ is a deeply philosophical film that is not easy to watch if you are looking for your regular escapist entertainment. It’s a movie that demands patience. But, patience does have its rewards. McCarthy’s layered performance alone makes it worth a watch. The chemistry between McCarthy and Kline is what holds the movie together. Melfi proves that what’s good on paper can also be successfully translated on the screen as long as a director is willing to back it up and he/she has access to good actors.

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AJAY’S ‘DEFINING MOMENT’ FROM HIS MALDIVES TRIP

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MUMBAI: Actor Ajay Devgn, on Friday, treated his fans with an adorable picture of him sharing smiles with his little son Yug. In the image, the father-son duo can be seen enjoying the sea waves on the boat in the Maldives. The two can also be seen wearing life jackets as the ‘Singham’ actor holds his son close. Ajay has beautifully described the click.

Sharing the photograph on Instagram, he wrote, “Yug wearing his safety jacket, that’s me, when we hit the waters at Maldives…A few of the many defining moments that we had during our short September break.”

Ajay recently went to the ocean paradise for the shoot of “Into The Wild With Bear Grylls” show.

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STARS DEMAND ACTION ON CLIMATE CHANGE

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WASHINGTON: From Leonardo DiCaprio, Lady Gaga to Camila Cabello, over 60 musicians, actors and artists have urged entertainment industry executives to ask US Congress to pass climate change legislation.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, several artists teamed up with the NRDC Action Fund to pen a letter to Warner Music Group CEO Lincoln Benet, Apple CEO Tim Cook, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, and others to lend their support to US President Joe Biden’s infrastructure bills. “Congress has a once-in-a-generation opportunity to invest in a clean, just, and equitable future for all by passing the robust climate action that President Biden called for in his Build Back Better agenda. As the top leaders of the entertainment industry you are needed to lead our community’s call for action and embrace this vision for a better world,” the letter read.

Biden’s Build Back Better agenda is contained in two bills, one a $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure proposal and the other a $3.5 trillion package that includes creating industrial policy to tackle climate change, reported The Hollywood Reporter.

“The entertainment community has a long, proud tradition of driving societal change. Our industry is already leading the charge toward more sustainable practices within our own businesses and productions. Now is the time to use your influence to shape our future,” the statement added.

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KRITI SHARES GLIMPSE OF HER CHARACTER ‘MYRA’

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Kriti Sanon

MUMBAI: Bollywood star Kriti Sanon piqued the interest of her fans by sharing a glimpse of her character Myra from her upcoming action-comedy film ‘Bachchan Pandey’. Kriti on her Instagram Story, posted a picture while dubbing for the film. In the photo, Kriti gave a glimpse of her character Myra from a scene of the film, with her hair casually tied up, as she smiled beautifully. Along with this, Kriti wrote, “Bachchan Pandey!! this one’s special… Our third together #SajidSir @wardakhannadiadwala @nadiadwalagrandson @farhadsamji.”

The upcoming film, which stars Akshay Kumar in the lead, is being helmed by Farhad Samji and bankrolled by Sajid Nadiadwala. Apart from Akshay and Kriti, the film also features actors Jacqueline Fernandez and Arshad Warsi in pivotal roles. Akshay’s character in the film is a gangster who aspires to be an actor, while Kriti essays the role of a journalist, who harbours dreams of becoming a film director. The film is slated for theatrical release on January 26, 2022.

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‘TUM AAOGEY’ WILL BE MY MOST SPECIAL CREATION: AMAAL

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Music composer Amaal Malik spoke to The Daily Guardian about his new song ‘Tum Aaogey’ from Bell Bottom and much more.

Q. ‘Tum Aaogey’ has crossed millions of views, how overwhelmed are you with this?

A. It is truly an emotional moment for me as well as my audience. Although it is the 90th song of my career, it feels like my first release. Bell bottom is a very special film and composing for it was truly an honour. There is a certain honesty and purity in this melody that will remain with the listeners and I’m glad that just within a day of its release people are celebrating it.

Q. What was the process of the song, making of it, and your reaction after the final song was made?

A. Tum Aaogey is going to be one of my most special songs and it’s one of the best works I have done for film music so far. I don’t think a song like this has been a part of a film for a long long time. It’s a beautiful tribute to the armed forces. Armaan has done an amazing job with the vocals, it’s great to be part of a film that manages to stand tall and be released in theaters.

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KATRINA’S LIME-YELLOW JUMPER IS WHAT YOU NEED TO UPDATE YOUR WARDROBE WITH

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It’s almost ‘sweater weather’ and Bollywood diva Katrina Kaif who is known for acing her sartorial looks, has just shown us what we might have been missing out on to add to our wardrobe!

Katrina, who is currently shooting in Austria with superstar Salman Khan for the next schedule of their upcoming movie Tiger 3, took to Instagram and shared two snaps of herself enjoying the European ‘sweater weather’. While the pictures are proof that the ‘Bharat’ actor is spending a happy Tuesday in Europe, not to miss is the autumn fashion that she has totally nailed.

In the pictures, the actor could be seen snuggled up in a lime yellow coloured jumper. The diva looked magnificent even without makeup on her face.

The lime colour is the new black currently in the books of fashion. The colour of happiness and optimism is trending and looks super modish and classy at the same time. With or without accessories, this colour will help you look stylish all the time.

Meanwhile, speaking of Katrina’s work front, the actor has recently flown to Austria with the Tiger 3 team to shoot for the international leg of their upcoming movie.

Salman and Katrina will perform some spectacular action sequences in places like Upper Austria, Salzkammergut, Dachstein Salzkammergut and finally in Vienna.The team was earlier shooting in Turkey, where Salman and Katrina also met the Turkish tourism minister Mehmet Nuri Ersoy. They were spotted at lunch together after finishing shoot day for the film.

Tiger 3 is the third film in the successful Ek Tha Tiger franchise, which will also feature actor Emraan Hashmi as an antagonist.

The upcoming film will mark Emraan’s maiden collaboration with YRF, which is producing the flick. Tiger 3 will have Salman reprise his role of R&AW (Research & Analysis Wing) agent Avinash Singh Rathore aka Tiger, while Katrina will be seen playing the female lead.

The first film of the popular franchise called Ek Tha Tiger came out in 2012 and was directed by Kabir Khan. The film received an overwhelming response and was a massive success at the box office.

The second movie, Tiger Zinda Hai, had released in 2017 and was directed by Ali Abbas Zafar. Salman and Katrina have featured in both movies.

Apart from Tiger 3, Katrina is awaiting the release of Rohit Shetty’s upcoming film Sooryavanshi starring Akshay Kumar in the lead role. She will also be seen playing the lead in the horror-comedy Phone Bhoot with Ishaan Khatter and Siddhant Chaturvedi.

She recently announced her next big project Jee Le Zara with Priyanka Chopra and Alia Bhatt.

With ANI inputs

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