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Valentine’s Day: The history, significance surrounding the day of love

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New Delhi [India], February 12 (ANI): Love is in the air as the much-awaited Valentine’s Day will be celebrated by couples of all ages on February 14. While this day is now known for gifts, fancy dinner dates, and an overall celebration of love, the origins of Valentine’s Day are far less romantic.
Valentine’s Day is named after Saint Valentine, a Catholic clergyman who lived in Rome during the 3rd century B.C. This day contains vestiges of both Christian and ancient Roman traditions, but the history of this day and the story of its patron saint are both shrouded in mystery. There are many stories about Saint Valentine and over time these stories evolved into the legend that we know of today.
The early history of the date February 14
Back in the day, the Romans used to celebrate the feast of Lupercalia from February 13 to February 15, in which men sacrificed a dog and a goat. After this, the hides of the slain animals were used by men to whip women. In fact, young women even lined up to be whipped by men due to their belief that this made them more fertile.
During the celebrations, a matchmaking lottery was also held and men picked out names of women from a box and proceeded to profess their love to these women during the festival. This sometimes also culminated in a marriage.
However, Lupercalia was replaced by St Valentine’s Day by the end of the 5th century by Pope Gelasius, and this was part of the reason that led to Valentine’s Day being associated with romance as well as the beginning of love.
Valentine’s Day: History of its name
Valentine’s Day has been named after Saint Valentine, a priest who was believed to have secretly helped Christian couples get married. This was a move against the Roman Emperor Claudius II because the emperor did not allow men to get married.
Saint Valentine was of the view that single men were better and more dedicated soldiers. Saint Valentine did not agree with this ideology and facilitated the weddings of couples in love. Due to this, he was beheaded by the Emperor.
Before the beheading was done, while imprisoned, Valentine’s used to care for his fellow prisoners and also his jailor’s blind daughter. Legend has it that Valentine cured the girl’s blindness and that his final act before being executed was to write her a love message signed ‘from your Valentine’. He was then executed on February 14 in the year 270 AD.
It wasn’t until more than 200 years later, that February 14 was proclaimed as St Valentine’s Day. By this time Rome had become Christian and the Catholic Church was determined to stamp out any remaining paganism. A pagan fertility ritual was held in February each year and the Pope abolished this festival and proclaimed 14 February Saint Valentine’s Day, thus establishing this feast day on the Catholic Calendar of Saints.
How Valentine’s Day got linked with love?
The poet Geoffrey Chaucer, author of ‘The Canterbury Tales’, who lived during the Middle Ages was the first to link St Valentine with romantic love. This was the beginning of the tradition of courtly love, a ritual of expressing love and admiration, usually in secret.
This custom spread throughout Europe and stories grew about a High Court of Love where female judges would rule on issues related to love on 14 February each year. Historians believe that these meetings were in fact gatherings where people read love poetry and played games of flirtation.
The older practice of sending love messages gradually developed into people sending special cards expressing their affection. These cards were beautiful creations handmade by the sender and individually designed to show how much they loved the recipient. Cards would usually contain sentimental verse, proclaiming the beauty of the receiver and how much they were loved.
Initially, it was about having one valentine throughout the year. But it later evolved in the 19th century and sparked questions about the sincerity of exchanging pre-printed cards and the sanity of spending exorbitant amounts of money on them.
Valentine’s Day and the exchange of valentines were a way that people in the emerging middle class in the 19th century negotiated that complicated relationship between romantic love and the economic reality of marriage.
The significance of this day in contemporary times
Valentine’s Day today is celebrated in a variety of ways. While it is celebrated in most countries, different cultures have developed their own traditions around this day.
In some parts of the world, Valentine’s Day is observed as a day for expressing love between family members and friends, rather than that of romantic couples. Some traditions include leaving lollies and gifts for children and others include acts of appreciation between friends.
It is likely that in today’s time’s social media has made Valentine’s Day more viral and more toxic, though the framework was already there. It’s not so much that social media really changed the scrutiny that was already at the core of this day, it just created a whole new possibility for performing the act of Valentine’s Day.
Because, social media sites are all about performing your imagined best self, the level of scrutiny on how one celebrates Valentine’s Day or what they get from their Valentine is ratcheted up exponentially.
For those who are trying to figure out what to do on Valentine’s Day, it is important to know that there are no rules. This is a new era that we live in, and people can celebrate this day of love however they deem fit, even if it is just through self-love.
A nice dinner outing, going to the movies, cooking a fancy meal at home, or hosting Valentine’s Day party are all great ways to celebrate this day of love. Whatever you might do, if you have a romantic partner, just make sure that both of you are on the same page to avoid any disappointments. (ANI)

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Vidya Balan and Raj Arjun starrer ‘Natkhat’ exposes deep-rooted patriarchy in Indian society

Murtaza Ali Khan

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Short films offer a great platform for young and upcoming filmmakers to showcase their talents. But, making a short film is always a tricky proposition. For, the financial prospects are quite uncertain. However, the one thing that drives such productions is passion as the constant threats and fears often serve as fuel that end up stirring the deepest artistic urges of the filmmaker. One thing, however, is more or less certain. What these films lack in scope they more than make up for it in terms of vision. Of late, the short films are becoming more and more mainstream with big names from the Hindi film industry joining the bandwagon. Also, the pandemic has given a further fillip to this emerging trend of making short films with established stars. Natkhat, co-written and directed by Shaan Vyas, is a fine example of what storytellers can achieve using the shot film format.

Natkhat stars Vidya Balan in the role of a mother who takes it upon herself to teach her young son an important lesson about gender equality that he will never forget. The short, co-produced by Vidya Balan and Ronnie Screwvala, has already traveled to many international film festivals. Ever since its premiere at the ‘We Are One: A Global Film Festival’ last year, Natkhat has found a spot on many most-anticipated short films lists. The short film is now being streamed by Voot Select as part of Voot Select Film Festival—a direct to OTT Film Festival that will showcase more than 15 critically acclaimed movies across genres over an eight day period.

The Shaan Vyas directorial succeeds in singularly pointing why despite so many reforms and new laws patriarchy has still managed to endure in our society. Let’s try and examine the story of Natkhat to understand this better. The short follows Sonu (portrayed by Sanika Patel) who one day along with his friends at school decides to teach a girl a lesson she would never forget. At dinner time when the grown-ups discuss a female politician who is causing them some trouble, Sonu offers them a suggestion with the ghastly admission of the sinister act he committed at school. The bunch of boys had taught the girl who had dared to hit one of them a lesson by dragging her to the woods and threatening her to cut off her pigtail. When he offers the same advice to the grown-ups at the dinner table in order to teach the female politician a lesson, the father (essayed by Raj Arjun) gets up in a fit of rage to scold his young son but he is stopped by the grandfather (played by Atul Tiwari). The old patriarch consoles his enraged son by reminding him about the boy’s gender privilege: “Boys will be boys. What do you expect? Will you crucify him for this?”

Now, the servile mother (essayed by Vidya Balan) in a ghunghat is listening to the conversation from a distance. She is not even allowed to sit and eat with the men of the family even as she serves them hot food and rotis. She can only eat inside her room after they are finished. But even from within the ghunghat we can sense her dread and uneasiness on hearing her son’s ghastly admission of an act he committed at school. She is deeply disturbed by the toxic machismo her young son with an impressionable mind is in the process of inheriting from those around him. So she takes matters into her own hands and decides to teach her son the principles of equality using the age-old art of bedtime stories.

Natkhat is a powerful reminder that the root cause of all oppression that women are subjected to in our society is a direct result of patriarchy. What children see while growing up has a lasting impression on their impressionable minds. Their conditioning already begins long before they even realize it. By the time they grow up into adults the damage is already done. If, however, the parents can make conscious efforts to educate their children about the importance of gender equality then the dark influences of patriarchy can be greatly mitigated.

There is so much that remains unsaid in Natkhat and so the onus is on the actors to convey the same non-verbally and they are up to the mark. In particular, Vidya Balan, Raj Arjun and young Sanika Patel need to be commended for their brilliant performances in the short film. It’s really heartening to see a leading Bollywood actress like Balan taking such keen interest in a project like Natkhat and not just as an actor but also as a producer. While there still there is still a long way to go before the short films start enjoying the same reverence and recognition that’s generally associated with feature films, Natkhat proves that short film format is more than capable of delivering a strong message in a most effective manner possible.

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TAHIRA KASHYAP UNVEILS HER LATEST SHORT FILM ‘QUARANTEEN CRUSH’

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MUMBAI: After the success of ‘Toffee’ and ‘Pinni’, author-filmmaker Tahira Kashyap Khurrana unveiled her third short film titled ‘Quaranteen Crush’ as a part of Netflix’s anthology series ‘Feels Like Ishq’.

Tahira penned a heartwarming post to express her gratitude to the entire team. She captioned the post, “My happy place! Dekhna zaroor aaj #feelslikeishq @netflix_in par! Had the most amazing time making #quaranteencrush big thank you to the entire team.”

Having shot for the short film in just four days in Chandigarh between the first and second lockdown, ‘Quaranteen Crush’ depicts an innocent love story between two teenagers with the innate quirky zing of Tahira. Utilising her quarantine to the fullest, Tahira has been working on different things through the lockdown, including her book ‘12 Commandments of Being A Woman’, that released last year, ‘Quaranteen Crush’ and her upcoming book ‘7 Sins of Being A Mother’.

Tahira is also gearing up for her upcoming project, for the same the author-filmmaker was seen doing a recce in Chandigarh.

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AJAY DEVGN GETS NOSTALGIC AS ‘SINGHAM’ CLOCKS 10 YEARS

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MUMBAI: Reminiscing the movie that saluted the spirit of today’s frontline warriors – the cops – actor Ajay Devgn on Thursday got nostalgic as his action-thriller ‘Singham’ clocked ten years.

Taking to his Twitter handle, the actor shared a video that featured different shots of the film. Along with the video, he tweeted,”Jismein hai dum, toh fakt Bajirao Singham. Singham sirf ek film nahin hai, Singham ek jasba hai, emotion hai, ek salaam hai uss police force ke naam jo apni parwah kiye bina, imandaari aur sachhi nishtha se apna kaam iss desh ki seva mein kar rahe hain,” (Singham is not just a film, it is a passion, an emotion, A salute to the police force who are doing their work in the service of this country with honesty and true devotion, regardless of their concern)

“I want to thank the team and all the fans for the super successful 10 years of Singham. And dedicate it to all the frontline workers out there,” the actor added.

The video shared by the ‘Golmaal’ actor features different shots from the film, featuring the actor in the uniform of a cop. It showcases Ajay with Kajal Aggarwal who essayed the role of his love interest in the movie.

Directed by Rohit Shetty, ‘Singham’ is the first installment of the ‘Cop Universe’ and a remake of the 2010 Tamil film ‘Singam’. The film features Devgn in the lead role as Inspector of Police (S.H.O.), Bajirao Singham, and Prakash Raj as the antagonist. The sequel to the action-thriller, ‘Singham Returns’ was also released in the year 2014.

Inspired from the flick, a spin-off, titled ‘Simmba’, starring Ranveer Singh as the titular officer, ACP Sangram Bhalerao hit theatres in 2018. A second spin-off, ‘Sooryavanshi’, too, is slated for release in the near future, featuring Akshay Kumar reprise the role in the lead, with both Devgn and Singh reprising their respective characters Singham and Simmba in a climactic sequence.

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JACQUELINE FERNANDEZ SHARES SULTRY PICTURES FROM LATEST PHOTOSHOOT

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NEW DELHI: Setting the temperatures soaring on social media, Bollywood diva Jacqueline Fernandez shared stunning pictures from her latest photoshoot, accompanied with a powerful message for society.

Taking to her Instagram handle, Jacqueline shared a couple of pictures where she could be seen posing effortlessly in a bathroom while wrapping her body with a bright reddish-orange blanket. In the pictures, Jacqueline is seen sporting a high glossy make-up look while flaunting her flawless skin. With her luscious locks open, the actor showcased her toned body on Instagram.

She captioned her photoshoot pictures with a strong message about self-love. “You.. you’re not ugly.. society is #liveyourlifenow,” she wrote. With the post hitting the photo-sharing platform, it garnered more than one million likes. Scores of fans chimed into the comments section and left multiple hearts and raising hands emoticons in awe of the post.

“Damn right,” one user wrote. “The moment we remove context, we find our own process,” wrote another. Meanwhile, on the work front, Jacqueline has her kitty full with some interesting projects like, ‘Cirkus’, ‘Bhoot Police’, ‘Kick 2’, ‘Ram Setu’, ‘Attack’ and ‘Bachchan Pandey’.

She will also be a part of South star Kichcha Sudeep’s multilingual film ‘Vikrant Rona’, for which she recently shot a dance number. Additional details regarding her character in the film have been kept under wraps. 

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KARTIK AARYAN TO PLAY A PILOT IN HANSAL MEHTA’S ‘CAPTAIN INDIA’

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MUMBAI: Bollywood actor Kartik Aaryan is all set to headline RSVP and Baweja Studios’ ‘Captain India’, which will be directed by ace filmmaker Hansal Mehta. The upcoming film is inspired by one of India’s successful rescue missions from a war-torn country. Kartik took to his Instagram account to unveil the first look poster of ‘Captain India’ which features him in a never-before-seen avatar. The actor captioned the post, “When a man goes beyond the call of duty. With great pride and honour, we bring to you #CaptainIndia @hansalmehta sir @rsvpmovies @bawejastudios #RonnieScrewvala #HarmanBaweja.”

Produced by Ronnie Screwvala and Harman Baweja, the inspiring action-drama will star Kartik as he steps into the shoes of a pilot who spearheaded the operation and displayed exemplary bravery and courage in the process.

Speaking about the upcoming film, Kartik said, “Captain India is inspiring and thrilling in equal measure and it gives me great pride and honour to be a part of such a historic chapter of our country.”

“I have immense respect for Hansal Sir’s body of work and this was the perfect opportunity to collaborate with him,” Kartik further said about the filmmaker who is best known for projects like ‘Aligarh’, ‘Shahid’ and ‘Scam 1992: The Harshad Mehta Story’.

National-award winning filmmaker Mehta said the film will revisit a moment where a man goes beyond his own pain. He said, “Captain India which is inspired by true events will revisit a moment in time where a man goes beyond his own pain and suffering to save thousands. I’m happy to collaborate with Ronnie Screwvala and Harman Baweja on the film and I look forward to working with Kartik.”

Talking about the film, producer Ronnie Screwvala said that ‘Captain India’ is “not just a story of one of the biggest humanitarian operations ever but also about the indomitable human spirit, one that rises above failure despite the odds.” He added, “Hansal Mehta is one of the finest filmmakers of our time and has always beautifully captured the true essence of humane stories. Kartik Aaryan’s fans are surely in for a treat as he steps into all-new territory with ‘Captain India’.” 

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A musician is never alone

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As I sat for my online concert last month, I was compelled to deliberate on how Covid isolation has changed the tapestry of the classical music concert scene. From the grand stage with fancy acoustics and live instruments, we have now moved to the Zoom or Facebook interface with our electronic sur peti, the itabla pro app and our electronic tabla box. In some cases, artists call some accompanists home to accompany them on the tabla and the harmonium for the live relay. But still it is a very different scene from the feel of a live concert with applause and cheer of live audiences.

Even so, I noticed some things still remain the same. Artists still have found a way around to reach their audiences and collaborate with other artists albeit virtually. Which means the instinct for music and artistry to be innately collaborative and social still remains. This made me ponder about the life of a musician and how it is shaped from childhood till late adulthood as a senior artist.

As a child one is always brought into the fold of music by a parent and a guru. The child remains under the aegis of the guru when she learns to grow her musical practice through training and influence of peers. There is an unsaid rule that overrides competitiveness and rivalry. The love for music itself and the desire to experience the grandeur and divinity of ragas is supreme.

As the artist grows as a musician, she learns to sing with the support of the accompanying artists on the tabla and the harmonium or in the case of Carnatic music, the violinist and the mrindangist. The three artists on stage learn to blend their music into a wholly fulfilling experience. Music is always taught and performed in social and collaborative settings.

Even as the student grows into a mature artist, he or she attracts more people to the process of making his music. Organisers, audiences, students, instrumentalists, artists from other genres, etc. The artist while on the one hand grows in his individual artistry, also grows in a community of art lovers and fellow artists. This testifies to the unifying powers of music. It testifies to the power that has kept music alive and growing in this lockdown.

Never before has music been so easily accessible. Never before have artists had the access to audiences all over the word so easily and so quickly. Never before has music been so omnipresent.

The musician is, was and will never be alone because she is engaged in something which is intrinsically all encompassing and divine. The nature of music is to connect people through the experience of collective emotions. Of joy, of sorrow, of happiness, of longing, and of grief and love. The musician is bound viscerally to humanity through his audiences, through his fellow artists, and through the music itself.

In this fact lies the beauty of music. A gift that music offers to those who choose to engage with it.

A musician will always remain from beginning to end in a bubble of positive energies of people around. A musician is never alone.

The writer is a vocalist of both Hindustani and Carnatic Classical music, with over three decades’ experience. She is also the founder of Music Vruksh, a venture to make classical accessible for its aesthetic and wellness benefits.

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