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International Women’s Day 2021: Celebrating women who chose to challenge

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New Delhi [India], March 7 (ANI): From being an efficient homemaker to running a campaign, launching an initiative, reporting an achievement, and many more, women have proven their mettle in every sphere across the world.
International Women’s Day is observed to celebrate the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. Every year, the day is observed on March 8 with the purpose to support a platform that helps forge positive change for women.
Be it any field, ladies have never left any stone unturned to prove themselves. To commemorate the occasion, let’s celebrate womanhood by taking a look back at those ladies who ‘chose to challenge’ and crossed all the hurdles with flying colours.

1. Priyanka Chopra: Also known as the golden girl, shining worldwide, Priyanka has built a name for herself thanks to her astonishing acting skills and leadership potential. Her dialogue, “I want to create a legacy”, cannot be ignored when she leaves everyone spellbound with her performances and projects.
She rose to fame when she won the Miss World 2000 pageant, despite being bullied several times for her appearance. Making her way to Hollywood, Priyanka has several accolades under her belt which includes Padma Shri, one of India’s highest civilian awards. She was also named one of the world’s most influential people by TIME magazine and listed as one of the most powerful women by Forbes.
Alongside her acting, the global star is also an author, a producer, and a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador where she has worked on causes including child rights, environment, health, education, and gender equalities.

2. Sushmita Sen: The first Miss Universe of India, Sushmita Sen is no less than a wonder woman. Facing all the scandals and societal pressures alone, she is a single parent to two adorable daughters whom she adopted at the time when her career was at its peak.
Fighting the societal pressures when adopting two daughters was against the law, she held her ground with such grace. After her comeback to the silver screen with more than ten years, she enthralled audiences with her magical onscreen appearance and bagged many accolades such as the Filmfare award, Dadasaheb Phalke award, and more. Her famous quote, “I don’t need a man to buy me diamonds, I can own them by myself” is still one of the most inspirational quotes by any celebrity.

3. Avani Chaturvedi: The youngest Indian Air Force flying officer, Avani Chaturvedi became the first Indian woman fighter pilot to fly MiG-21 Bison, solo. MiG-21 Bison is known as a fighter plane that has the highest take-off and landing speed in the world with a speed of 340kph. She truly is an inspiration to many young women out there.

4. Shakuntala Devi: Proclaimed as the ‘Human Computer’, was an Indian woman who holds the 1982 ‘Guinness Book of World Record’ for being able to solve insanely large mental mathematical calculations. The most surprising fact is that Shankutala did this without any formal education.
Belonging to a family where her father was a circus master, she demonstrated her skills and talent to the whole world. This amazing woman also joined politics where she dared to stand against the then Prime Minister of India, Smt Indira Gandhi.
In addition to her work as a mental calculator, Shakuntala was a notable astrologer and an author of several books, including cookbooks and novels. She started with writing short stories and murder mysteries and had a keen interest in music.

5. Mary Kom: Who can forget ‘Magnificient Mary’ when it comes to listing inspirational women. The five-time World Amateur Boxing Champion hailed from a small family of North East India. She is the only woman boxer to have bagged a medal in all six world championships, becoming the first Indian woman boxer to win a Gold medal in the Asian Games.
The 2014 biopic titled ‘Mary Kom’, in which Priyanka Chopra portrayed the lead role, efficiently showed the boxer’s struggles where she chose to challenge and stand against all the odds for her country.

6. Neerja Bhanot: Who says that bravery can only be defined with somebody with good knowledge of weapons. Neerja Bhanot, the 22-year-old flight attendant, who sacrificed her life while saving passengers from terrorists on board a hijacked plane is no less than an example of a ‘woman who chose to challenge’.
The 2016 biopic titled ‘Neerja’, in which Bollywood actor Sonam Kapoor essayed the lead role, shows all the odds that the martyr stood against to engrave her name in the golden book of history.

7. Laxmi Agarwal: An acid survivor, who is an inspiration for many women to fight for their dreams, is also the founder of an NGO named ‘Chhanv Foundation’, which helps victims of acid attacks.
Laxmi has motivated women time and again by showing them that their hard work can do wonders. The acid attack survivor has proved that there is no limit to what women can achieve in this world.
‘Chhapaak’, which released in 2020, saw Deepika Padukone play the role of the acid attack survivor. The movie showcased Laxmi’s struggles and achievements beautifully.

8. Michelle Obama: The first African-American First Lady of the United States, who is an inspiration to many, is also a lawyer and author. During the Barack Obama presidency, she was the organiser of many notable campaigns and initiatives that were meant to fight social evils and hence led to spreading awareness in the country.

9. Malala Yousafzai: The fearless woman, who is a human rights activist, is also a Nobel Prize winner. She received the award at the young age of 17. Malala was shot at the age of 15 by a Taliban gunman because she wanted to study. Standing against all the odds, she chose to challenge the societal laws and lived up to her heroic story, and became a proponent of female education.

10. Oprah Winfrey: Dubbed the ‘Queen of All Media’, Oprah Winfrey is an exceptional woman who survived as a rape victim in her childhood. She is a fearless lady who is a benevolent billionaire, giving gazillions to charity.
She is also an author who has been inspiring millions of people around the globe with her leadership rules. Her famous quote, “Turn your wounds into wisdom,” inspires many and motivates younger ladies to live up to the ground and become a person who can ‘choose to challenge’ the world.
This was just a quick look back at the ladies who are a living example of women empowerment. There are many women who have challenged the world and stood against all the odds to prove their potential. This International Women’s Day, may the glorified womanhood flourish to set more examples for the world to follow.
The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day is ‘choose to challenge’. (ANI)

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Lifestyle & Entertainment

‘THE MAURITANIAN’ IS FAR REMOVED FROM THE RUN-OF-THE-MILL FILMS ABOUT TERRORISM

Murtaza Ali Khan

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When the noted French-Algerian actor Tahar Rahim received the script for “The Mauritanian” he was expecting another run-of-the-mill Hollywood script propagating a familiar sense of Islamophobia. For the last decade ever since his breakthrough performance in the celebrated French filmmaker Jacques Audiard’s prison drama “A Prophet”, Hollywood had been offering the same kind of roles over and over again. One opening the script when he came across the word “Guantanamo” his apprehensions were more or less confirmed. But to his great surprise, he discovered something very different. The character offered to him, Mohamedou Ould Slahi is a real person who isn’t a terrorist but was simply accused of being one. 

Mohamedou, a Mauritanian man on whose memoir the film is based, was deemed guilty by the US authorities through some vague association. As a result, he was imprisoned for over 14 years without any trial in Guantanamo Bay where he was constantly subjected to torture and abuse by US soldiers. He was finally released in October 2016. In Rahim’s words, “It’s the first time I see a Hollywood movie with a sympathetic Muslim at the centre.” And Rahim, to his credit, plays Mohamedou as a gentle soul who somehow keeps his sanity intact despite years of horrific treatment. The Mauritanian, directed by Kevin Macdonald, stars the legendary Jodie Foster in the role of the no-nonsense defence lawyer who fights for his release with Benedict Cumberbatch essaying the part of the military prosecutor Lt. Colonel Stuart Couch. 

There is no denying that a lot changed after 9/11 as the world became far more paranoid than it had ever been. Soon after the tragic events of September 11, the western world started witnessing a dramatic rise in Islamophobia. Now, according to Wikipedia, “Islamophobia is the fear of, hatred of, or prejudice against the religion of Islam or Muslims in general, especially when seen as a geopolitical force or the source of terrorism.” The increase in Islamophobia could be attributed to Osama bin Laden’s Al-Qaeda. Hollywood, of course, played its part through its stereotypical portrayal of Muslims and Islam in countless films. And it was until Mira Nair’s 2012 film “The Reluctant Fundamentalist” that the issue got properly addressed by Hollywood.  

On the other hand, Bollywood filmmaker Kabir Khan highlighted the issue in his 2009 film “New York” through the character of Sameer Sheikh, essayed by John Abraham, who Sam gets arrested and detained for nine months as a suspected terrorist. Though he is eventually released due to lack of evidence, the impact of being detained and tortured permanently changes him in ways that are difficult to comprehend for those surrounding him. A couple of years before the Kabir Khan film, the noted Pakistani director Shoaib Mansoor made “Khuda Kay Liye” which presents a graphic account of a man getting detained and tortured for a year at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp due to his Islamic background after the US authorities receive a false complaint from his neighbour.

But, in many ways, The Mauritanian stands out in its depiction of the atrocities that prisoners at Guantanamo Bay have undergone over the years. For, Mohamedou’s 2015 memoir titled “Guantanamo Diary” is a testament to what he had to experience for 14 years of his life. He wrote the book in 2005 in Guantanamo Bay but each page had to be submitted to military censors. A total of 2,500 redactions were made before releasing the manuscript to his attorneys seven years later. So, the 2015 edition which went on to become an international bestseller was heavily redacted. He was even prohibited from receiving a copy of his published book while imprisoned. It was only in 2017 that it was republished with redactions fully removed. While the Biden administration has declared its intention to shut down the Guantanamo Bay detention camp there is no certainty that it is going to happen any time soon. But, Mohamedou’s story of redemption certainly gives one hope.

The Mauritanian is far removed from the run-of-the-mill Hollywood films we have become accustomed to watching with the theme of global terrorism at its core. Kevin Macdonald and his team of writers offer something refreshingly different. Here is a deeply humanistic film that isn’t afraid to question the dubious role played by the US authorities in destroying the lives of innocent people like Mohamedou. It exposes how both the Bush as well as the Obama administrations kept prolonging Mohamedou’s ordeal at Guantanamo Bay. Perhaps, it’s for this reason the film didn’t find much traction with the members of The Academy despite receiving multiple Golden Globe and BAFTA nominations. The performance by Tahar Rahim (who interestingly stars as the con artist and serial killer Charles Sobhraj in the Netflix series “The Serpent”) certainly deserved an Oscar nomination for portraying the part of Mohamedou Ould Slahi with such great conviction. Also, the deeply nuanced performances by Jodie Foster and Benedict Cumberbatch deserved more attention.

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PARINEETION BETTER PORTRAYAL OF WOMEN ON-SCREEN

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NEW DELHI: Parineeti Chopra, who is on a roll, recently opened up about female representation on screen and shared that she wants to do her “bit to portray women better”. Parineeti said, “I strongly feel that actresses have to change the narrative of how women are portrayed on screen. Right from my debut, I have tried to do this. I have always taken it on myself to do something out of the ordinary, not portray the quintessential heroine that Bollywood has tried to depict for ages. My last three films – ‘The Girl On The Train’, ‘Sandeep Aur Pinky Faraar’ and ‘Saina’ – were also an attempt to give varied, bold, confident, ambitious heroines to audiences. My next film choices will resonate this thought process too as I want to do my bit to portray women better.” She wishes that all the actors in Bollywood should be conscious about how they represent women on screen. Parineeti said, “If all of us are able to change the way women are presented on screen, it will go a long way in changing the perception of girls in our society. Cinema can impact the minds of audiences and so, let us use this medium to affect positive changes in our society.”

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SHAMA SIKANDER’S MUSIC VIDEO ‘HAWA KARDA’ TO BE OUT ON 15 APRIL

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Shama Sikander shot for a song called Hawa Karda, the song is by Afsana Khan and Sahil Sharma also known as Sahil Syndicate. It features Shama and Gaurav Bajaj. The music is by Geet and the lyrics have been done by Raas. Shama spoke to The Sunday Guardian and exclaimed, “It was a fun, peppy and trendy song. I am sure the youngsters are going to love it. We shot it with the utmost respect to all protocols and wrapped up pretty quick. I am excited for the song to come out and the audience’s reaction to it. The song will be out on Koinage Records. I am happy to be able to work during such times where people have no work and are seeing some really difficult days. It’s a blessing and I am grateful to be still entertaining people.”

Shama also opened up about her equation with her co-star, “The moment I heard the song, I decided to do it. I have worked with Gaurav for the first time, it was great and everything was at ease.”

On asking about which medium she enjoys the most, she said, “I enjoy doing everything be it television, movies, or music videos, it depends on the script. The character I play is of a girl who is bold, beautiful and overpowering.” The song, marking a comeback for Shama, will release on 15 April.

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MANDIRA’S STRONG REPLY TO ‘SICKOS’ TROLLING DAUGHTER

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MUMBAI: Mandira Bedi is not among the celebrities who ignore social media bullies, especially when they try to troll her daughter. She recently called out a bunch of haters in her Instagram stories for posting distasteful comments about Tara. Mandira and her husband Raj Kaushal adopted her in July last year. She is just four years old.

In her recent Instagram stories, Mandira revealed she’s been at the receiving end of nasty remarks, crudely suggesting her daughter is a misfit in the family, particularly because she’s adopted. A “prop daughter”, she was told. A furious Mandira singled out one such user and the comment and wrote: “People like this need to be given a special mention. Kudos, you got my attention, you piece of s**t.”

Addressing another troll, who questioned her parenting skills and intentions behind including Tara in the family, she wrote: “Sickos like this, are the biggest cowards too, who only know how to wag their tongues behind the shield of anonymity.”

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WHY ABHISHEK FELT HE WASN’T MADE FOR BOLLYWOOD

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NEW DELHI : Do you know Abhishek Bachchan, who deals with social media trolls in a witty way, wasn’t always okay with handling criticism? His journey in the film industry and words of wisdom from his father Amitabh Bachchan helped him a great deal. In a recent interview with RJ Siddharth Kannan, Abhishek admitted that stepping into Bollywood seemed like a “mistake.” At one point, he even said that he wasn’t “made for this industry.” In the interview, Abhishek said, “To fail on a public platform is very difficult. There was no social media back then but I read via media that some were abusing me while some said that I do not know acting. At one point in time, I felt it was my mistake that I came into the industry as whatsoever I was trying, it was not working. I went to my dad and said maybe I am not made for this industry.”

When the actor started questioning himself, his father helped him to cope up with all the criticism coming his way. Big B told him, “’I never brought you up to be a quitter. Every morning you have to wake up and fight for your place under the sun. As an actor, you are improving with every film.’” Abhishek’s career trajectory has been full of ups and downs. However, post-Manmarziyaan he seems to be on the right track. The actor left an impact on OTT with Breathe: Into the Shadows and  Ludo. He ecently starred in The Big Bull and will next be seen in a film based on Bob Biswas.

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GEAR UP FOR AKSHAYE KHANNA & RAVEENA TANDON AS RIVALS IN ‘LEGACY’

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NEW DELHI: Viewers could be in for a visual treat when Akshaye Khanna and Raveena Tandon will clash as rivals in Vijay Gutte’s ‘Legacy’. Being mounted on a big scale for a global audience, the drama series would be shot across multiple countries. 

Akshaye shares, “It is refreshing to work on the content that challenges our boundaries as an industry as a whole. Given the massive scale of the show, we are cognizant of the immense responsibility to deliver our bests to create a content piece the audience looks forward to. I’m glad ‘Legacy’ is going to be my first web series.”

“‘Legacy’ presents an interesting tale of power struggle with an entertaining amount of drama, which grasped my attention. It is a fine work of content articulated interestingly to resonate with a global audience. I am excited to be associated with the show and looking forward to beginning this journey,” exclaims Raveena .‘Legacy’ marks Vijay’s maiden outing on the OTT space.  He informs, “It is an aspirational project mounted on a large scale reflecting upon the dark realities of the professional world. I am thrilled to be reuniting with Akshaye for this and exhilarated to have Raveena on board. This talent powerhouse is set for an epic rivalry.” 

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