‘TOOFAN’ IS ABOUT ACCEPTANCE OF EACH OTHER; IT IS ABOUT NOT JUDGING PEOPLE: FARHAN AKHTAR - The Daily Guardian
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‘TOOFAN’ IS ABOUT ACCEPTANCE OF EACH OTHER; IT IS ABOUT NOT JUDGING PEOPLE: FARHAN AKHTAR

In an exclusive interview with NewsX, actors Farhan Akhtar, Mrunal Thakur, Paresh Rawal and filmmaker Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra open up about Toofan and the experience of working with each other and much more.

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Actors Farhan Akhtar, Mrunal Thakur, Paresh Rawal and filmmaker Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra joined NewsX for an exclusive conversation as part of NewsX India A-List. As part of the conversation, the team of Toofan opened up about the storyline, plot, the experience of working with each other and much more.

Speaking about what drew him to the story, Farhan said: “To start with, there is a message in the film, which will reveal itself when you watch the film. At the heart of it, it is about acceptance of each other. It is about not judging people for their labels that you may associate with them, recognising a person, loving a person or disliking them based on character. There are many different things in the film, apart from boxing. Boxing is the backdrop against which it is set. To me, the message of the film was exciting. I was like who is that person that I can speak to regarding this thought or realising the idea in a way that one would hope that it could be. I reached out to Rakeysh and said ‘Please hear this. If you are interested, let’s do it together. I am really glad that he got into it.”

Talking about what made him come on-board, Paresh Rawal said, “Before I even heard the story, I wanted to work with Rakeysh Ji. I wanted to work with Farhan Bhai and his company Excel because they are doing some great work. Later, when I heard the story, I felt that there are some stories that are created and there are some you release. This was a story of soul, heart and brain, so I felt that we should do it and it is very important for this film to exist. When you work with such people, you feel that you will not only be able to do good work but also become a better person. I think the takeaway of this film is that you should come out as a better person. This is what I feel. This is my takeaway.”

When asked about the USP of the film, Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra responded, “USP is a very product-kind of definition: What is the unique selling proposition? How can you sell emotions? Let’s re-term USP. All we want is to share love through this film and relationships. There are so many wounds in society today and all over the world. We are going through a very difficult time. Instead of scratching the wounds, if one can apply a soothing balm over it, this film heals you. All characters in the film are broken and they fix each other. That’s the beauty of it. When you see these characters and you see Farhan’s character, Paresh sir’s character, Mrunal’s character, they are all carrying very deep wounds but how they resolve that and how they resolve it for each other, how they come together and fall apart and come together again is a process of healing. For me, that was the most important thing.”

“As mentioned earlier, Farhan called me and I heard the story, the idea and the thought. I told Farhan that we must do it. It has got a voice, an expression and it has got something to say. It had potential. It was a nascent thought at that time but we thought that we can develop it and take it further. It became even more fortunate as more and more conspirators joined in,” he added.

On being quoted as saying that Toofan is the mix of Rang De Basanti and Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, Rakeysh clarified, “I think that was misquoted. I would like to correct that through your platform. I said if I were to put together Rang De Basanti and Bhaag Milkha Bhaag it would be equal to Toofan for me. I feel that I have come out much more enriched as a human being, not just as a technician, as a director in my profession but as an overall human being. It’s beautiful to keep finding that and reinventing yourself and to grow in life. You can never stop growing.”

Expressing her gratitude for being a part of Toofan and her fondness towards her character, Mrunal said, “Ananya is a very special person, very close to my heart. I think I have evolved with her, I have become more passionate. Like there is a leadership quality in her. She likes to lead people, especially those who are a little distracted and do not know what they are capable of. As Mrunal, I resonated with the character so much when I read the script and when I was on set with Farhan and Paresh Ji. I think it all elevated the performance. I was feeling the character more than I was performing or acting so to say. What was beautiful was the journey, to be able to work with Rakeysh sir—I love him, I love his work and I did manifest to work with him. Finally, I get to work with Rakeysh sir.”

Was Toofan like a school being surrounded by Farhan Akhtar, Paresh Rawal and Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra? Mrunal says, “No matter how much I learnt in school or acting school, it wasn’t enough because I actually learnt about life, how to deal with those problems. Ananya may be strong but Mrunal wasn’t. There were times when I did get confidence from Farhan or Paresh ji and the beauty about this film was that we never rehearsed those lines. What we had was conversations before we did the scene. Rakeysh sir helped me to connect those incidents and circumstances with my personal life. When I was performing, I could get flashes and memories from all those incidents that happened in the past. I am really honoured and blessed to be a part of such a brilliant film. I have never been so motivated after doing a film. I was never into fitness but when I saw Farhan perform and saw him train, he would inspire me.”

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PM MODI, MACRON DISCUSS WAYS TO PROMOTE SECURITY IN INDO-PACIFIC REGION

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NEW DELHI : Prime Minister Narendra Modi and French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday discussed the important role that the India-France partnership could play in promoting stability and security in the Indo-Pacific region.

The two leaders also reviewed the increasing bilateral collaboration between the two countries. This was discussed during a telephonic conversation between PM Modi and Macron, the French embassy said in a statement. “They reviewed the increasing bilateral collaboration in the Indo-Pacific region, and the important role that the India-France partnership plays in promoting stability and security in the region,” the statement said.

The leaders also agreed to maintain close and regular consultations, in the spirit of the India-France Strategic Partnership, which both countries cherish deeply.In addition, the two leaders also discussed regional issues including recent developments in Afghanistan.

In this context, they shared their concerns about the possible spread of terrorism, narcotics, illicit weapons and human trafficking, as well as the need to ensure human rights, rights of women and minorities, the statement added.

Macron also reiterated France’s commitment to contributing to strengthening India’s strategic autonomy, including its industrial and technological base, as part of a close relationship based on mutual trust and respect between two strategic partners. 

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‘Work on AIIMS Bilaspur progressing fast’

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With the creation of Bilaspur AIIMS, the health sector of Himachal Pradesh will get a huge boost and will be of great help to the needy. Not only Himachal Pradesh, people of entire north India will get state-of-the-art health facilities in the region:

On Tuesday, Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya, BJP national president and former Health Minister J.P. Nadda and Union Minister of Sports and Youth Affairs and Information and Broadcasting Anurag Thakur, along with other officials of AIIMS Bilaspur, Himachal Pradesh, took a review meeting regarding the construction work of AIIMS Bilaspur.

Nadda said that is it a great gift from Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the people of Himachal. The entire Himachal is thankful to him for giving this premier health institution like AIIMS to Himachal.

He said along with serving the healthcare sector, new employment opportunities will be created. Work on AIIMS Bilaspur is going on very fast. In 2022, this institute, equipped with state-of-the-art health facilities, will be given to the whole of North India as a gift of the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister has resolved that every countryman should get the best health facilities and to make this a reality, he started 15 AIIMS in his government. PM Modi has started the work of medical colleges in every district. There has been an increase in medical seats in the country. Nadda thanked Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya for continuous monitoring and appreciated Anurag Thakur and thanked Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur for providing basic facilities by the state government.

Union Minister Mansukh Mandaviya directed that the construction work of AIIMS Bilaspur should be completed within the time limit by 2022. With the start of AIIMS Bilaspur, the people of Himachal Pradesh will benefit a lot.

Those who used to go to Delhi to get their treatment done with good health facilities will now get the benefit of having better technology and specialist departments of many diseases in their home state itself.

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Himachal minister meets Shah, discusses plan to promote FPOs in cooperative sector

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CM Jai Ram Thakur.

Urban Development and Cooperation Minister Suresh Bhardwaj called on Union Home and Cooperation Minister Amit Shah in New Delhi on Tuesday. Bhardwaj discussed the possibilities of expansion up to the block level by bringing cooperative societies under the Integrated Cooperative Development Project or outside it under the Agricultural Produce Organization (FPO) scheme.

Bhardwaj said that Himachal is working on a scheme aimed at promoting FPOs in the cooperative sector. Under this, the state government has set a target of reaching at least 10,000 farmers through registration of 100 FPOs in a year. He said that the formation of FPOs in the cooperative sector would strengthen the crop harvesting management infrastructure.

He urged the Union Minister to make available funds for the training of the members of the FPO Management Committee separately from the training of Secretaries. He also discussed other issues related to the Ministry of Cooperation with the Union Minister. Suresh Bhardwaj informed that the process of computerization of cooperative societies has been started by the state government in collaboration with NABARD and a provision of Rs 5 crore has been made for computerization of 300 meetings in the state. He urged to provide assistance in the ratio of 80:20 or 90:10 through State-Centre Partnership Scheme to connect all the cooperative societies of the state with this scheme.

He urged for extending the interest subvention to primary agricultural credit societies working in the health, education, MSME and eco-tourism sectors. Till now this facility is being provided only to the meetings working in agriculture and horticulture sector. He also urged for provision of collateral free credit facility up to Rs 20 lakh to cooperative societies so that more cooperative societies can take maximum benefit of schemes like Primary Agricultural Credit Societies or Integrated Cooperative Development Project of the government.

Suresh Bhardwaj also urged the Union Minister to bring state and district cooperative banks under the Credit Guarantee Fund Trust for Micro and Small Enterprises. This move will encourage these banks to provide advance loans to cooperative societies. He also urged to make provision for establishment expenditure under Integrated Cooperative Development Project, so that proper arrangement of staff could be made for this project. The Union Minister assured to provide all possible assistance to the state.

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Punjab sees first bureaucratic rejig after Channi assuming office

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The first major bureaucratic reshuffle took place in the state on Tuesday after Charanjit Singh Channi took over as the Chief Minister. Transfer and posting orders of nine IAS and two Provincial Civil Service (PCS) officers were issued on Tuesday. While the state got new Director Information and Public Relations, three new appointments were made in the Chief Minister’s Office. DC Mohali has also been changed.

Senior IAS officers Tejveer Singh and Gurkirat Kirpal Singh, who were Principal Secretary and Special Principal Secretary to the former Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh, respectively, were also given new responsibilities. IAS Kamal Kishore Yadav has been given the responsibility of Secretary Information and Public Relations as well as Special Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister, while 2009 batch IAS officer Sumit Jarangal has been posted as Director Information and Public Relations in his place.

IAS officer Tejveer Singh has been posted as Principal Secretary, Investment Promotion, Industries and Commerce and IT. Similarly, IAS Gurkeerat Kirpal Singh has been posted as Secretary, Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs and Defense Services Welfare. Dilip Kumar, a 1995 batch IAS officer, has been given the responsibility of the mission director, Tandrust Punjab, along with the principal secretary, Science Technology and Environment.

IAS officer Mohammad Tayyab has been posted as CEO of Punjab Waqf Board. Isha, a 2009 batch IAS officer, has been posted as DC Mohali. IAS officer Harpreet Singh Sudan has been appointed as Mission Director, Punjab Skill Development Mission, along with the earlier responsibilities held by him.

At the same time, IAS officer Shaukat Ahmed Parray has been posted as Additional Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister while PCS officer Mankanwal Singh Chahal has been posted as Deputy Principal Secretary to the CM. PCS officer Anil Gupta has been posted as Deputy Secretary Personnel.

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Amid exodus, new Bengal BJP chief says ‘game is on’

Arup Kali

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Soon after becoming the new West Bengal BJP president, Sukanta Majumdar on Tuesday said, “The game must be played and the game will be played.” Majumdar said that Babul Supriyo, who joined the Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress (TMC) on Saturday, “could not play in the first XI, so he left”.

Majumdar said that the BJP will play the game and will not take the role of a spectator sitting in the gallery. On Tuesday, the newly-appointed state president was given a reception by the BJP at the state BJP’s Hastings office. After that, Sukanta Majumdar held a press conference with former state president Dilip Ghosh.

Targeting the Trinamool Congress, Sukanta Majumdar said, “There is a Taliban-style government in the state.” However, he did admit that there were some shortcomings in terms of planning and strategy in the election. At the same time, he urged the leaders and workers who left the party after the elections results to return to the party.

“We don’t want anyone to leave the team,” Majumdar said. “Those who believe in the principles and ideals of the BJP, hope they will stay with us. And those who came to the BJP for any other purpose, it is natural that they will leave. Those who have left will review; let them come back.” In fact, Majumdar made it clear at the outset that he will focus on the organization. Besides, the new state BJP president said that the biggest issue in the BJP’s campaign against Mamata Banerjee in the Bhabanipur by-election is violence.

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How insurgency in Manipur is finally fizzling out

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Driven to the wall by security forces, pushed to the brink by their own leadership and utilised as cannon fodder by the Myanmar Army, it seems days for insurgent groups operating in Manipur are numbered now. Valley-Based Insurgent Groups (VBIG) is a term used to identify all Meitei insurgent groups operating in this Northeastern state. These include PLA, PREPAK (Pro), KYKL, UNLF & KCP (all factions). A total of more than 15 sub-groups are known to exist.

These underground groups ruled the Imphal Valley and South Manipur till as late as 2010-12. At one point of time, certain areas in Manipur used to be called “Liberated Zones” and their terror and criminal activities were rampant. However, due to a number of successful operations by security forces, these groups were pushed out from India into Myanmar. Due to the depleted strength, lack of morale and loss of appetite for struggle, many of them split and broke into pieces. Some of them entered into agreements with the government of Manipur.

The VBIGs, though still active, have to a large extent lost their appeal among the Meitei population. Post the lifting of AFSPA in Imphal Valley where the majority of Meitei population resides, there is nothing much for locals to complain. The younger population is keen on learning better entrepreneurial skills, including English and Hindi and move to mainland for better opportunities. PLA and others groups are, therefore, devoid of any ideologically motivated lower rung cadres.

As of today, most of these groups are forced to live in make shift camps across the Indo Myanmar Border. The Myanmarese Army turns a blind eye on their existence as long as they are willing to pay a price in return, which was mostly in cash or in kind in terms of items required in Myanmar including food, medicine or certain other essential supplies. Sometimes, cadres are thrown away to local police/army camps to be used for menial jobs and labours, while the senior rung enjoys a life of luxury.

After a series of joint operations conducted by Indian Army and Myanmar Army, VBIGs were forced to shift their camps from East of Manipur to further North in the areas opposite South Arunachal Pradesh, where they live as tenants to NSCN (KYA). In addition, they were also forced to shift their camps to areas South of Manipur in Chin state. While the group members were safe in these locations, they were too far away from their areas of operations, leading further frustration and ideological isolation. The business community of Manipur also started challenging the writ of these groups soon after they realised their inability to cause much effect from across Myanmar into India. These operations from within India were merely by Over Ground Workers and could not actually instill a sense of fear. This started leading to a financial stress on the groups, which started impacting their relations with their bed fellows across the international boundary.

The Covid-19 pandemic hit the subcontinent in March 2020 and Manipur was one of the worst-hit states. This had a telling impact on the economy in Imphal valley and consequently the paying capacity of those big time businessmen who were still giving VBIG extortion money in return for peace. The small time businessmen no longer fear the VBIGs and only way possible for the VBIGs to extort money was by lobbing grenades at individual’s properties to only cause caution, as any casualty caused would further denigrate their name and popularity among masses. 

Meanwhile, a number of cadres started deserting and surrendering to security forces, and testified that the living conditions in camps had deteriorated severely to the extent that even proper meals had become a luxury. Ill-treatment and humiliation at the hands of their own hierarchy and because of their survival being at mercy of Myanmar Army and Myanmar Police, the cadres had no place for surrender and solace. The Myanmar Army had been grudgingly supportive whenever India had asked for any help and they have time and again destroyed few terrorist bases and camps in their territory.

The situation took a new dimension on 1 February, after the coup on 1 February 2021 when reins were taken over by the military junta. The violent protests since then have taken an unprecedented proportion, which was not anticipated by the Myanmar Army. PDF has mushroomed into an armed group with common goals to overthrow the regime, but with no fixed organisation structure. The local civilians themselves have joined the revolution with rudimentary weapons and are causing a heavy toll on the capability of Myanmar Army to respond. In such a scenario, Myanmar Army found an easy target in terms of PLA and other groups of CORCOM to build up its depleting strength. While the total strength of all Meitei groups across Indo-Myanmar border is anticipated to be only armed 300, Myanmar Army finds it convenient to demand the services of these groups in terms of providing manpower for holding their sentry posts, carrying out duties at vehicle check points and even routine patrolling. Grudgingly, the insurgent groups had to accede to the demands, failing which they would have been evicted from the host nation’s soil.

The insurgent groups have so far lost about 40 cadres in a struggle which is alien to them. The local people in Myanmar despise them. The Myanmar Army uses them like cannon fodder resulting in mounting casualties. The leaders of such insurgent groups, while living a life of luxury, are forcing poorer Manipuris into death and desolation. In the latest incident opposite Pangsau pass on 10 August in the area of Waktan village in Myanmar, six PLA cadres were killed in a case of internal feud. It is testimony to the low morale and indiscipline in the organisation which is bereft of any ideological locus standi. Given the circumstances, the militant cadres of VBIGs are in a “lose-lose” situation. The only “winners” seem to be the senior hierarchy of VBIGs and the Myanmar Army.

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