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Archives for : Cinema

National Commission for Protection of Child Rights issues notice to Papon

Bollywood celebrities including Raveena Tandon, Gauahar Khan, Farah Khan, Shaan and Sona Mohapatra have reacted to the Papon controversy.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi | Updated: February 24, 2018 2:40 pm

papon controversy Papon also apologised in a statement which he published on his Facebook account on Friday.

After a video emerged of singer Papon kissing a minor girl inappropriately, National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) on Friday issued a notice to both singer Papon and the TV channel. “We have seen the video and have gone through the written complaint which came to us from Supreme Court lawyer Runa Bhuyan. We felt this is a provocative case. Necessary legal action will be taken,” the NCPCR official said.

“We are following the legal procedure. We will ask for their version as well and accordingly further action will be taken. We have guidelines on our website which clearly mentions rules for channels using children in their show,” added the official.

Meanwhile, Bollywood celebrities like Raveena Tandon, Gauahar Khan, Farah Khan, Shaan and Sona Mohapatra have reacted to the controversy. Filmmaker and reality TV show judge, Farah said, “I know Papon, he is a good guy. But there is no doubt that when I saw the video, it made me uncomfortable. I don’t think he meant to do it, but if it was my daughter I wouldn’t like it. I think people should not touch other people’s children and should just show affection to their own children.”

Adding to it, the Mai Hoon Na director said, “I think, if you see the girl’s face after it happened, you’ll realise how uncomfortable she was. But like I said, he is not a mad person to do it while the camera was rolling. He must have genuinely not meant it, but it didn’t give me a good feeling.”

Actor Raveena Tandon, last seen in Maatr also expressed her displeasure at the incident. Raveena herself has been a judge of a popular kids reality show. She tweeted, “Disgusting! Shameful!Perverse! This man Papon should be arrested! The girls parents succumbing to pressure! The explanations given are ridiculous! Haven’t felt such anger and shame to see this happen and some on tv debates actually defending the act!”

Disgusting! Shameful!Perverse! This man Papon should be arrested ! The girls parents succumbing to pressure ! The explanations given are ridiculous! Haven’t felt such anger and shame to see this happen and some on tv debates actually defending the act !

Echoing Raveena’s thought came Gauahar Khan’s tweet which read, “Wasn’t smothering a child’s face with your palm rubbing colour all over it for 4 secs enough as fatherly love, that u had to pull the child’s face then to strategically peck her on the lip??? There was no wrong camera angle or the child moving her face mistakenly BTW 🙄😡#papon👎”

Wasn’t smothering a child’s face with your palm rubbing color all over it for 4 secs enough as fatherly love, that u had to pull the child’s face then to strategically peck her on the lip??? There was no wrong camera angle or the child moving her face mistakenly BTW 🙄😡👎

Singer Shaan tweeted in favour of Papon but later deleted his tweet. He wrote, “My stand is on assumption that it was actually a wrong angle and the kiss was not on the lips…” Sona Mohapatra, said she believes Papon was innocent in his intent but the video is not in good taste. “Papon possibly should have been more aware of how this looks to a layman,” she said. “A formality and distance in such a space would have been better…maybe boundaries should be maintained. Still, I think the man is innocent — he just needs to be wiser.”

However, the girl’s father said that Papon is a mentor and a father-figure to his daughter. “What you saw in the video is not intentional. It was just a moment of affection that is being portrayed otherwise. I would request and urge the media to not pursue this further,” he said.

Singer Papon also apologised in a statement which he published on his Facebook account. “I am very painfully conscious of the accusations that have been made against me in the last few days. Anyone who knows me would be aware that I am an extremely affectionate and expressive person. That is the way I have been brought up and that’s how I have always been with people close to me or people I care for. To show affection for an 11-year-old child whom I have been mentoring for a while now is not an alien concept for me,” he wrote.

(with inputs from IANS)

National Commission for Protection of Child Rights issues notice to Papon, Bollywood reacts

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Diljit Dosanjh’s ‘Pant Mein Gun’ gets into legal trouble


Multiple complaints have been registered against the actor and ‘Welcome to New York‘ makers for the song.

Diljit Dosanjh in a still from 'Pant Mein Gun.'

 Diljit Dosanjh in a still from ‘Pant Mein Gun.’

Mumbai: A 59-year-old Mumbai resident has filed a complaint before a court here against the makers of upcoming Bollywood film ‘Welcome to New York’, alleging that a song in it was “vulgar” and that it hurt the sentiments of a particular community.


The complainant, Harjeet Singh, has moved an application before the court, seeking an order to register a case under section 294 (obscene acts and songs), 295A (deliberate and malicious acts) of the IPC as well as relevant sections of the IT Act against the film’s actor and singer (Diljit Dosanjh), lyricist (Danish Sabri) and music director (Sajid and Wajid). Singh has moved similar applications in courts of Punjab and Delhi as well.

The complainant alleged that the song, ‘Pant Mein Gun hai’, of the film was “indecent, had patently offensive content and was unfit for public viewing”. Singh also alleged that the song promoted lust, greed, pride and anger.

“The video of the song, showing the lead actor (Diljit) dressed as a Sikh and mouthing obscene lyrics and dancing in an obscene manner, hurts the religious sentiments of Sikhs,” he said.

Not just that, a Sikh petitioner has also registered a complaint against Diljit and the song for the inappropriate lyrics and an FIR has been filed, according to a report in Mid-day.


A source close to the development said Singh is furious because “Sikhs keep katar (daggers)” not guns.


“The petitioner has alleged that the lyrics go against the principles of Sikhism. He suggests Diljit Dosanjh should have respected the teachings of the community before singing the song. Diljit has never faced a situation like this one before,” the source added.


“Our client, Pooja Films, as the film’s producer, has been receiving numerous telephone calls and many police complaints and pleas in court have been filed, objecting to the lyrics of the song. All these allegations are false and baseless,” Vibhav Krishna, the lawyer representing the film’s producer, said.

The producer of the movie, Vashu Bhagnani, said, “Our intention was not to hurt the sentiments of anyone, least of all religious sentiments of anybody. It’s deeply unfortunate that a fun song has been taken out of context. Welcome To New York is supposed to be a light funny film and the song ‘Pant Mein Gun Hai’ is along the same lines. It’s supposed to make people laugh and not upset them. We are really sorry if anyone’s religious sentiments have been hurt, but that was not our intention at all.”

‘Welcome to New York’ has also sparked a row for having Pakistani singer Rahat Fateh Ali Khan’s voice in one of the songs.

Wajid, one-half of the composing duo Sajid-Wajid sounds genuinely stunned by the allegations. “Mera tashan…Pant Mein Gun…this was my brother Sajid’s catchphrase and we used it to create a climactic song sequence for Diljit Dosanjh who plays a guy with a do-or-die chance to perform on stage. Vulgarity ka toh koi sawaal hi nahin hai. During all these years that my brother and I have been composing songs for films we’ve never ever resorted to double meanings or suggestive lyrics. We would not be able to look into the mirror if we did something obscene. Yes, there was some accusation of vulgarity in that item song Fevicol in Dabangg 2. But we never intended that song to be vulgar. And we never intended this song (Pant Mein Gun) to be vulgar.”

As for a section of the Sikh community being offended, Wajid is appalled by the suggestion of causing offence. “We would never ever dream of causing offence to any community. Look, Diljit Dosanjh is a fine and responsible member of the Sikh community. He heard the song and he loved it. Would he do anything to hurt the sentiments of his community? He is actually on the stage in the film with a gun on his hand. So where is the question of a double-meaning?”

Wajid feels artistes and musicians must be very careful today. “And we are very careful to not indulge in any kind offensive behaviour. If nonetheless some choose to get offended what can we do? I seriously think protesters should stop barking up the wrong tree. They should look at the songs and the music videos that deliberately objectify women and portray them in a crude and offensive manner. They are all over the internet and on television. You can’t watch them with your family. Ours is a fun song. We saw no double meaning in it until people pointed it out. It’s all in the mind, I guess.”

The film is slated to be released this Friday.

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Of sati, lore of queens confined to palaces, and the modern-day Rajasthani girls who dance

The sati hands riveted my attention wherever I went. It was the guide at the Mehrangarh Fort in Jodhpur who drew my attention to them first.

“Look at these hands,” he said, pointing to some vermilion-coloured palm prints to the left of Loha Pol, also known as the ‘Iron Gate’. There were 15 of them. All quite small and engraved in stone. “They are known as sati hands. They were made by queens and other women who committed sati in this fort.”

Sati hands at Junagarh fort, Bikaner by Gita Aravamudan

Sati hands at Junagarh fort, Bikaner by Gita Aravamudan

I was transfixed as I imagined the women dressed in all their wedding finery, carrying diyas, and pressing their vermilion-covered hands against the wall before they walked towards their fiery death.

Who were these women? What was going on in their minds? Were they wives? Concubines? Slaves? Did they go willingly or were they pushed? Was it mass hysteria?

The set of hand prints the guide had pointed out was made by the wives of Maharaja Man Singh who died in 1853. But there were more. The palms were small. Were women smaller in those days? Were they child brides? Or were the hands just symbolic reminders of the women who committed sati, akin to tombstones?

The many hand prints on the wall bore testimony to the number of women who jumped into funeral pyres from each fort.

The sati hands began to haunt me. I looked for them at every fort we visited over the next couple of days. And they were always there, silent witnesses and reminders of the women who had been burnt to death. They also brought alive to me, each time, the sheer irony of their lives. The insides of the forts and palaces were opulent with intricately decorated walls, gilded beds and zenanas with swimming pools and fountains. But, ultimately, the women were the raja’s possessions, kept cloistered away from male gaze and made available only for his use whenever he so desired.

rani was usually just one of the maharaja’s many wives. He could have a dozen wives or hundreds. Or a woman could even be a concubine with no official position. What connect would such a woman have with her man? Why would a woman who had barely seen him a couple of times in her life want to end her life on his funeral pyre?

In 1987,18-year-old Roop Kanwar committed sati. She had been married for less than a year. Sati was banned in India in 1829, more than 150 years before this happened. But after this incident, the Sati Prevention Act was passed, further criminalising any type of aiding, abetting, and glorifying of this practice.

Our taxi driver was a smooth-talking tourist-savvy man. He told me that sati was a “purana zamana” custom, and women voluntarily walked into the pyres to protect themselves from enemies. We got to talking about the ban on Padmaavat. Why were there protests, I asked him; after all, the film showed the Rajputs in a good light.

“Because Queen Padmavati was shown dancing,” he replied, impassively.

“That’s all?” I asked startled. “Nothing more?”

“Our queens didn’t dance,” he retorted. “They had dasis who would dance. Our queen Padmavati whom we all worship was shown in a bad light, dancing.”

“You mean they would not dance even in the privacy of the zenana?” I asked.

He shook his head firmly.

I was still pondering over this when I came across some girls and women who did dance. In the middle of the sand dunes near Jaisalmer, our jeep stopped for a few minutes, and out of nowhere emerged a group of young girls. The smallest was around eight years old and the oldest in her late teens. They were all plastered with makeup and lipstick, wore plastic jewelry and were dressed in dusty, everyday clothes.

Didi, didi,” the youngest one called out, trying to pull my young niece’s hand, “Come dance with us.”

Even as we still sat in the jeep, they started swirling and singing with the adult women standing around them clapping their hands to keep the rhythm. This performance by the graceful little dancers in the middle of the sand dunes lasted all of two minutes. Then they got down to business.

Didi, didi, paisa. Chocolates, please didi. Lipstick?”

They grabbed the money we offered them and ran off to catch the next set of tourists. The sun was setting when we returned and we found the girls still working the tourists. This time when they saw us, they asked for a lift.

The kids were bubbling with laughter and music. No, they didn’t know how old they were. They had never been to school. In fact, they had not been out of their patch of desert. Ironically, as we spoke to them, the country’s largest literary festival was taking place in Jaipur, the capital city of Rajasthan. Men and women of letters had come from all over the world to discuss esoteric subjects far away from this little patch of Rajasthani desert where there was no school.

We dropped the girls off near a camp of motley tents made of rags and plastic sheets. “This is home,” the girls said cheerfully, and waved goodbye. They had told us their parents earned a living by dancing and singing in the many tented tourist camps which dotted the dunes. They too, knew no other life.

“Oh, they earn good money from their dancing now,” said the manager of the tented camp which was less than a kilometre away. “There are so many resorts and camps now, and all of them employ these people. Just wait a while and you will see them come dressed in all their finery.”

Rajasthan, which is the second largest state in India, is full of such complexities. Tourism has given it a kind of sheen which hides the darker side. The opulent, well-preserved forts, palaces and havelis have been turned into luxury hotels. The old cities which form the heart of the various tourist destinations remain cluttered and uncared for.

The largest number of child marriages still take place in this state, and at the other end of the spectrum, the palaces turned into hotels are the most sought after locations for high-end destination weddings. And it was also here in Rajasthan that Bhanwari Devi, a social worker from Bhateri, was allegedly gang raped in 1992 by upper caste men when she tried to prevent a child marriage in their family. Arguing that it was her work which earned the ire of the rapists, lawyers and activists filed a public interest litigation in the Supreme Court, under the collective platform of Vishakha. This resulted in the Vishakha Guidelines which provide the basic definitions of sexual harassment at the workplace.

After returning home, I went to see Padmaavat. Everything was quiet and the theatre was half empty. There were no protests in this part of the country. To the audiences here, Padmaavatwas just another opulent, semi-mythological drama which provided them with a couple of hours of time-pass.

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#SundayReading- 3 Seconds Divorce – Compelling insight into triple talaq and Muslim women


My job was to amplify their voice, give them a platform: Shazia Javed on 3 Seconds Divorce

Speaking at the world premiere of her documentary, the filmmaker spoke about why she was compelled to focus on subject of triple talaq and the importance of letting the women’s voices speak for themselves.

Photo: Shazia Javed


The 54-minute documentary 3 Seconds Divorce began its festival journey at the 15th Mumbai International Film Festival in the International Competition section. It was important for filmmaker Shazia Javed for the film to get its start here in the presence of women who gave their voices to the film. 3 Seconds Divorce speaks out on the issue of triple talaq (obtaining divorce by saying ‘talaq’ thrice) in the Muslim community.

Javed and her co-producer and cinematographer, Babita Ashiwal, beamed after the film’s world premiere on 1 February 2018. The housefull screening was attended by many of the women who are featured in the documentary.


The filmmaker, who lives in Canada, spoke with about how she wanted to address the issue of triple talaq and give those affected a chance to raise their voice.

Triple talaq was a subject that I wanted to explore ever since I was a young girl going to school, growing up in Delhi. It used to bother me that something like this existed and it had so much power to just make a woman homeless in seconds. As a Muslim woman growing up, I questioned it even more,” Javed said.

She recalled reading an article in a newspaper by Asghar Ali Engineer. “He gave these arguments about alternate interpretations and how you can do a general interpretation of the text,” she read and found an alternate way of looking at the issue.

As a student, there wasn’t much she could do then, but she wrote a letter to the editor.

By 2014, as a filmmaker, she had made a few films including the short documentary, Namrata (2009), which was produced by the National Film Board of Canada. Namrata was the story of an Indian woman who migrated to Canada from India and found herself in an abusive marriage. She gained the courage to leave the wedlock and became a police officer.


Javed decided to make her next documentary on triple talaq and began shooting in 2014. The Supreme Court declared triple talaq unconstitutional in August 2017. “Interestingly, at that time, there wasn’t much information out there and as we kept shooting, it kept picking up steam. (3 Seconds Divorce) is able to capture that movement,” she said.

Initially, Javed and her team, talked to academics and scholars to understand the subject and later began speaking with women divorced through triple talaq. She found that triple talaq “was far more common, or the threat of it, was far more common.”

“Every time I heard someone talk about halala, I would cringe. This is something I just couldn’t process. But one thing I knew for sure, as I spoke to these women, they were all articulate, courageous and willing to come in front of the camera. They all wanted justice,” Javed added.

She didn’t want to portray them as victims or pitiable and stressed she didn’t come in with a saviour complex mostly associated with filmmakers. “My job was to amplify their voice, give them a platform and deal with it within that framework. My own background as an Indian Muslim woman did help with that. I’m not a stranger,” she said.


3 Seconds Divorce highlights one brave woman, Lubna, who is a survivor in the truest sense for Javed. Speaking about Lubna’s fascinating transformation, Javed said, “She juggles motherhood, a job and activism. Some days she’s happy and she’s confident. The other days she’s bogged down. To me, that’s a very human story. We all need to know that activism doesn’t come easy. People who actually fight these battles pay a price in their personal lives.”

The documentary also features several members of the Bhartiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (BMMA) who did the groundwork — doing research and undertaking surveys as well as drafting alternate laws. Javed said BMMA were able to articulate what the need was.

She called the nationwide rallying against triple talaq as “one of the biggest revolutions led by Muslim women in the history of India”. The movement had several allies (women from all religions and walks of life) who volunteered to help them out. Javed feels proud that her documentary was able to capture a slice of this history.

“I want young women to look back and see this is how it was done. And you don’t take it for granted,” she stressed. I think, even now, I derive a lot of inspiration from women who have come before me and who have fought for basic rights, (like) the right to vote and simple things. I feel like I need to continue the fight and not let it go waste.”

She added the Supreme Court ruling validated the long fight for justice for women like Lubna and the other activists. “It gives you the strength that what I did was worth it. There’s a lot of validation that they’re feeling at this moment,” Javed said.

For now, 3 Seconds Divorce begins its festival rounds and has already secured a television broadcaster. Javed also hopes, like her earlier films, the film will lead to a broader discussion at community screenings.

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Actor Jeetendra Accused Of Sexual Assault By His Cousin #Vaw

Jeetendra, whose real name is Ravi Kapoor, is the complainant’s maternal cousin.

The alleged incident took place in January 1971, when the victim was 18 and Jeetendra was 28

SHIMLA:  Veteran Bollywood actor Jeetendra has been accused of sexually harassing his cousin 47 years ago. The survivor filed a complaint against the actor on Wednesday.

Jeetendra, whose real name is Ravi Kapoor, is the complainant’s maternal cousin.

A complaint has been filed with the Himachal Pradesh’s Director General of Police.

As per the complaint, the alleged incident took place in January 1971, when the victim was 18 and Jeetendra was 28 and the actor “arranged” for the survivor to join him from New Delhi to Shimla on the set of his movie without her “awareness”.

The complainant has claimed that on the night they reached Shimla, Jeetendra returned to the room in an inebriated state, joined the two separate beds and sexually assaulted her.

The allegation comes amid the #MeToo campaign as part of which women have come out about facing sexual abuse at the hands of powerful men. While several ladies have accused Hollywood’s powerful men, the Hindi film industry — while admitting the prevalence of abuse — have not named and shamed as openly.

A statement issued by his lawyer said Jeetendra categorically denies any such incident took place. “..Such baseless, ridiculous and fabricated claims cannot be entertained by any Court of law or the law enforcement agencies after a span of almost 50 years. The Statute has provided a justice delivery system through the Courts, and the Limitation Act 1963 was specifically enacted to ensure that all genuine complaints are made within a maximum time limit of three years, so that a proper investigation is carried out and timely justice is delivered,” the statement issued by advocate Rizwan Siddiquee said.

“..the timing of this baseless complaint seems to be nothing but a miserable effort made by a jealous competitor to disrupt the business activities of my client and his esteemed company,” the statement said.

Jeetendra, now 75, is a well-known name in the Hindi film industry. He is also a film producer, and has daughter Ekta and son Tusshar with wife Shobhaa.

Jeetendra, 75, is a well-known name in the Hindi film industry.


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MIFF: Selection jury protests exclusion of Film on Kashmir #Censorship

Namrata Joshi MUMBAI,

Directors request Information and Broadcasting Ministry to reconsider decision to deny exemption certificate
At the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) 2017, the members of the Indian Panorama selection jury took on the Information and Broadcasting Ministry for the exclusion of two films, Nude and S Durga , from the final line-up.

Now it is the turn of the selection committee members of the national competition section at the Mumbai International Film Festival (MIFF 2018) for documentaries, shorts and animation to register their protest against the exclusion of In the Shade of the Fallen Chinar directed by Fazil N.C. and Shawn Sebastian.

The film features in the festival’s brochure and was scheduled for public screening on January 29, 2018, but wasn’t eventually shown.

A joint statement signed by nine of the 12 members stated: “We stand in solidarity with the filmmakers and strongly condemn this act of censorship.” The signatories include filmmakers Anupama Srinivasan, Priyanka Chhabra, Gautam Sonti, Amudhan R.P., Sudarshan Juyal, Rani Day Burra, Sandhya Kumar, Yapangnaro Longkumer and film writer and critic Shoma Chatterjee.

No public screening

When contacted, festival director Manish Desai said the 16-minute short documentary continues to officially be a part of the competition but cannot be screened publicly under the provisions stipulated in the Cinematograph Act.

For a public screening it has to have either a censor certificate or an exemption from the Ministry. “If certified we are open to screening it any time till the closing ceremony,” said Mr. Desai.

The film has been denied exemption for MIFF by the Ministry but reportedly without giving any clear reason.

The documentary was also denied exemption for International Documentary and Short Film Festival of Kerala (IDSFFK) last year. The film has since been uploaded on YouTube and has over 1 lakh views.

On Friday, a protest was held outside the Films Division building. The MIFF director has forwarded three appeals — from the selection committee, the film directors and the delegates — to the Ministry requesting reconsideration, along with his own letter of appeal.

Soothing touch

According to selection committee member, Anupama Srinivasan, the film is all about a space for arts for the young people of the Valley. It pitches the soothing touch of art against the turmoil. “On what basis are they stopping its screening?” wondered Ms. Srinivasan, conjecturing that it could be because of the “Azaadi” chants at the beginning of the film.

The biennial festival, organised by the Films Division of the I&B Ministry, kicked off on January 28 and will come to a close on Saturday.

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Happy birthday Waheeda Rehman: A look back at yesteryear diva’s beautiful journey


She is considered as one of the most beautiful and graceful actors ever to set foot in the industry. Veteran actor Waheeda Rehman turns 80 today (February 3) and what better way to pay a tribute to the actor by taking a look back at her beautiful journey.

Waheeda was born on February 3, 1938, in Chengalpattu, Tamil Nadu. From an early age, the actor was passionate about dancing and went on to learn Bharatnatyam with her sister in Chennai.

Being dance as a passion doesn’t always mean that someone wants to make a living in the showbiz. Waheeda’s dream was to become a doctor but due to her father’s death and mother’s illness, she abandoned her dreams in order to support her family.

Waheeda Rehman

After many struggling years in the industry, the actor landed her first role as an actor in Telugu film Jayasimha and followed it with other memorable films like Rojulu Marayi and Kaalam Maari Pochu.

The actor made a significant mark in the film industry with her acting skills and got the attention of Hindi filmmakers, who were eager to cast her in Hindi films. Her first appearance in a Hindi film was in CID (1955), which was not so impressive. But her breakthrough performance came two years later in Guru Dutt’s Pyaasa.

The film fetched her rave reviews and solidified her status as one of the most beautiful leading ladies of the time in the Hindi film industry. Waheeda followed the success of Pyaasa with films like Kaagaz Ke Phool, Solva Saal, Kohra, Guide, Mujhe Jeene Do, Neel Kamal and Khamoshi.

After making it to big league of finest actors of Bollywood, the actor married Shashi Rekhi in 1974 and the relationship continued till 2000.

The beautiful actress is also known for her working relationship with actors Dev Anand and Rajesh Khanna, with whom she delivered some of the biggest hits of her career.

Waheeda Rehman

With a shift in the industry and many promising newcomers making a significant mark, Waheeda’s glorious reign never stopped and she turned her attention to more serious and dramatic roles. In the 70s and 80s, Waheeda gave some of her finest performances ever in films like Rashmi Aur SheraKabhie Kabhie and Coolie.

Waheeda took a break from acting in 1994 and returned to the silver screen almost after a decade in 2002 with Om Jai Jagadish. Although the film didn’t do well at the box office, Waheeda’s comeback was well received by fans and critics alike.

Waheeda Rehman

In a journey of more than six decades, the actor has won numerous awards and honours. Waheeda has won multiple FilmFare awards and was also awarded with Padma Bhushan in 2011.

Waheeda’s journey has been indeed beautiful with an inspiring story to tell. We wish the graceful actor a happy birthday.

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Once Upon a time with Deepti Naval’s Miss Chamko #HappyBirthday

 Veteran actress Deepti Naval turns another year older today but still she looks gorgeous as ever because of her simple looks and beautiful face. She was born on February 3, 1952 in Amritsar, Punjab but was bought up in New York City, as her father got a teaching job at City University of New York.

This Week That Year: Once upon a time with Deepti Naval's Miss Chamko
Deepti Naval and Farooq Shaikh (inset) in Chashme Buddoor

There is something about her that makes you want to stroll down sun-dappled lanes towards a cinema that mirrored everyday life in a way that was engaging, enriching and entertaining. Perhaps it’s her girl-next-door charm or maybe it’s that Miss Chamko smile that scrubs away all that’s wrong with the world, leaving it sparkling. And even if that’s a delusion because the towel to test the detergent was freshly laundered, you still buy it, like Farooq Shaikh aka Siddharth Parashar in Chashme Buddoor, never mind if it left him fighting a rash the next day because he left his face lathered with shaving cream way too long.

Three decades later, point Deepti Naval towards Sai Paranjape’s iconic 1981 romcom and breaking into peals of laughter she admits Sai was perhaps the only director who could reprimand her without so much as a peep from her. “Knowing it was my fault, I’d stare at the floor, silently listening to her. I had so much affection and regard for her,” she reminisces.

She listened to Sai when the director told her that for the Chamko scene when she comes into the bachelors’ pad selling her detergent, she should smile only as much was absolutely necessary. “Having grown up in Amritsar, I understood her middle-class morality remembering my mother telling me to look straight ahead when walking on the street and not make eye contact with anyone. With these values ingrained in me, I understood that smiling too much at a strange man could be misconstrued so the Chamko smile was bright, professional and rationed,” Deepti chuckles.

This small town wisdom came from a girl who’d just graduated from the City University in New York and was the first Indian-American actress to migrate to Mumbai and Bollywood. “I had no knowledge of the craft and went about choosing my films based primarily on instinct. Naseer (Naseeruddin Shah) told me during Katha that the best thing about me was that I wasn’t trained in acting,” she says.

Farooq was equally encouraging, telling her, “Dipps, you are capable of so much more, don’t get distracted, stay focused.” One of the best loved jodis of the ’80s, the duo went on to pair in many more films, including Ek Baar Chale Aao, Kissi Se Na Kehna, Rang Birangi and the TV serial, Hasrat Mohani. “But it was only during Listen… Amaya that released in 2013, that we actually chatted about life, writing, cinema and how it had changed since Chasme Buddoor and Katha when we made these classics without realising it. In the early days, he’d only tease me,” she recalls, adding that the one subject on which they could never come to an agreement was food. “I enjoy my salad, while he relished his wholesome meals. That’s why even though I invited him often to my place, he never visited me socially, grousing he’d only get ghaas phus.”

On February 3, Deepti will bring in her 66th birthday quietly. “I was hoping to spend it in Himachal but I have to be in Delhi for a retrospective at the Daulat Ram College but there’s nothing better than talking films with young people,” she smiles, adding Listen… Amaya, Saath Saath will be screened there.

Saath Saath… Farooq wooing Deepti with Jagjit Singh’s first Hindi film song penned by Javed Akhtar. “Tum Ko Dekha To Yeh Khayal Aaya…” The smile flashes… Brighter and unhibited.

Farooq was no longer a stranger and nor was movie town. As his equal in the film she could remind him of the integrity and values he was fast losing in the struggle to make a better living, bring him back on track… Ah if only we could hold on to that world, those ideals too… “Hum Jisse Gungunaa Nahi Sakte, Waqt Ne Aisa Geet Kyun Gaaya…”

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Swara Bhasker faced veiled rape threats and slut-shaming over her views on Padmaavat #WTFnews

It’s sad and disgusting Swara Bhasker faced veiled rape threats and slut-shaming over her views on Padmaavat

Those trolling her response to Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s magnum opus have proved her right.


“Your act of thoughtlessly glorifying this misogynistic criminal practice (read: Sati/ Jauhar) is something you ought to answer for, Sir.”

So said actor Swara Bhasker, in her fairly coherent piece, as she penned a bold and scathing letter to Sanjay Leela Bhansali, whose directorial — the magnum opus — Padmaavat(i) finally saw the light of day after months of being embroiled in controversy. And the point that she was making was as simple as this: How can a film that’s engulfed in the flames of a regressive mindset and violence at the hands of fringe groups go on to hail the very regression that it’s battling!

Swara, in her open letter, not only explained how lionising the idea of jauhar is deeply patriarchal and misogynistic, but also lamented the glorification of the outdated convention that denies women the right to live; equating it with the narrative of victim shaming, where women’s bodies are perceived as vehicles of “honour” — and dare I say “merely”.

But the logic was clearly lost on many of those who read this viral piece, as it was just one word that they chose to underline in bold. Before we can accuse their perverted mindset, let’s direct our attention to how this open letter was headlined: “At The End of Your Magnum Opus… I Felt Reduced to a Vagina – Only”So Swara Bhasker, calling out Bhansali for the glorification of sati and jauhar in his film, said that she felt reduced to a vagina by the end of it. And that was where she slipped, as per the all-opinionated Twitter! The Anarkali of Aarah actor was left fielding internet outrage, and even her own kind weren’t willing to spare her that little leeway — from “language”, going on to teach her manners for non-conformist portrayals, on film too!

Singer Suchitra Krishnamoorthi took offence to the way Swara voiced her opinion: “Funny that an actress who can play an erotic dancer/ prostitute with such elan should feel like a vagina after watching a story of a pious queen. What standards are these …tch tch,” she wrote.

But Bhasker was quick to hit back at Suchitra for her comment. She said that what’s actually funny is that “people cannot get over the fact that a woman said vagina” and added that in an article of more than 2,440 words, people only remember the part that mentioned the vagina.

“Funny that people cannot get over the fact that a woman said Vagina! Funny that in a 2,440-word article making fairly comprehensible arguments they only remember the word Vagina!!! So… Vagina vagina vagina vagina vagina vagina……………vagina vagina VAGINA!!!!!” (sic)

The film’s writers Siddharth and Garema — who have previously worked with Bhansali in Goliyon Ki Rasleela Ram Leela — also came out in support of the director and criticised Bhasker’s letter. In a blog titled “An open letter to all Vaginas”, the two hit back at Swara for “misusing the word feminism”.


jauhar-690_013118045040.jpgSwara Bhasker stirred up a storm after Padmaavat’s release.

The duo also said that Padmavati committed suicide by self-immolation by choice and not by force. And the concluding remark was penned: “So people who feel like a ‘vagina’ after watching Padmaavat,should continue to feel like a ‘vagina’ for they would never understand the power it has.”

While the writer duo have put some thought in conveying their point, a majority of the reactions are flippant, hateful, misogynistic comments that further prove Bhasker’s main point of women being constantly subjected to systemic oppression. More so if they choose to speak out.

And although Swara has been reacting to the vile tweets that have come her way ever since the letter was published, she wasn’t quite expecting this low blow by filmmaker and member of Central Board of Film Certification, Vivek Agnihotri.

Vivek tweeted, “We have interviewed many ‘ex-naxal’ women in Bastar. Each has gut-wrenching stories to tell, full of abuse, rape and misogyny If they marry, they aren’t allowed to have children. I think fake feminist @ReallySwara must make a trip to understand how the Real Vagina feels like.”

“What women need to understand that it’s because of the fake feminists like @ReallySwara that the feminist movement gets jeopardised. You just can’t piss off people and win the most critical war of modern times – the gender empathy,” he added.

Yes! This happened! Swara, who writes about how the film Padmaavatunwittingly bolsters the prevalent rape-condoning mindset in the country, was actually proven right with these tweets. Reacting to them, Swara wrote, “I’m sorry did u just suggest that i go get myself raped?????????? Like seriously? You typed out this tweet Vivek… ????? I’d say pretty low and sick even by your own abysmal standards of conduct & civility.”

And to this I say, don’t we all know where Agnihotri’s loyalties lie! Speaking of which, here’s another example of the right-wing trolls, when they realised the “veiled” attacks weren’t doing them much good, and decided to come out point blank! There’s a thin line between “misquoting someone” and “twisting and blatantly turning around” someone’s statement — this post by ShankhNaad, which Swara refuted, is a classic example of that. But can you expect anything else from this communal rabble-rousing website?


This is a BLATANT LIE. @ShankhNaad pls publish an official apology or we can take this to court.. 

So Swara Bhasker stirred up a storm after Padmaavat’s release — her getting trolled for exactly what she’s calling out only proves her point better than she herself did!

She got veiled rape threats, slut-shaming and abuse — yes, this is where we stand with our misogyny, which we thrust in the faces of women in the name of free speech. So dare you woman, if you speak out!

In the end, I feel the argument that Swara made with her letter is a pertinent one. And here’s where I’m one with it: Padmaavat was released after a gruelling battle with members of fringe groups who were protesting the depiction of Rajputs in the film, and it ended up as a tribute to Rajput pride, perhaps even to a fault.

Jauhar and sati are a part of India’s social history, but that certainly doesn’t mean that one should make a film about them with no perspective, or without a comment on such a misogynistic practice.

As far as hitting a home run with this fact is concerned, I would rather skip the reiteration — and no, I don’t mean the “blasphemous” V word.

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Karni Sena and Sanjay Leela Bhansali – Both United in misogyny #Vaw

For both Karni Sena and Sanjay Leela Bhansali, it seems the woman is either to be protected or possessed

padmaavat, karni sena, sanjay leela bhansali, deepika padukone, misogyny, rajput protest, swara bhaskar, bjp, jauhar, indian expressFor both Karni Sena and Sanjay Leela Bhansali, it seems the woman is either to be protected or possessed

I have just watched Padmaavat and cannot stop myself from penning some thoughts on the film. Let me begin with a strong rider that I am deeply disgusted and appalled by the vandalism and opposition of the Karni Sena to the film, and the complicity of BJP-ruled state governments. This is, indeed, a new low in the attack on the freedom of expression. But I want to steer the discussion to another aspect of the film, which has received relatively less attention. The film profoundly troubled me in terms of the gender, caste and religious identities that it upholds and celebrates.

By the end of it, I was squirming in my seat, and was also angry. I felt that there appears to be a deep affinity between the perspectives of the Karni Sena and Sanjay Leela Bhansali in terms of their representations of Rajput honour and women’s chastity. So the opposition to the film has nothing to do with hurt sentiments or “objectionable” portrayal of Padmavati, as per dominant Rajput understandings, and everything to do with political alignments. But let me come to a discussion of the film itself, which I think needs to be critiqued for completely different reasons, without imposing any censorship on it.


The film is, first and foremost, a valorisation of jauhar, a deeply retrogressive and barbaric custom, which needs to be trenchantly critiqued. It depicts a grotesque act through markers of beauty and aesthetics, eulogising jauhar as a site of Rajput glorification. The burning alive of hundreds of women, including pregnant women, all dressed in red, and thus frontally declaring their married status — the climax of the film on which Bhansali spends more than 15 minutes — far from representing a tragedy, a barbaric act and deep violence carried over women’s bodies, acquires an exalted stature, a celebration of Rajput rulers’ tradition and heritage. Before jauhar, Padmavati/Deepika Padukone is seen as taking permission from her husband Ratan Sen/Shahid Kapoor to commit it, stating that she cannot take her life without her husband’s endorsement, who in turn willingly agrees to it. Though the film carries a rider in the beginning that it does not support sati, there is a clear validation of jauhar, a deification of women, and a privileging of Brahmanical scriptures. Jauhar here is not only allowable, but positively laudable.

 The ideological and emotional coercion of women through a series of social, cultural and religious sanctions and ideals that glorify immolation as “voluntary”, carried out in the name of devotion, chastity and sacrifice, is actually an act of profound violence against women. The “true” wives, it is underlined in the film, have a moral right to end their lives in this fashion, and it signifies not “victimhood” but their “agency”. The woman’s worth is subsumed into that of her husband and her community. Jauhar is not the only marker of violence against women in the film. Padmavati is categorically told that she cannot interfere in political matters of the state by her husband.

Second, the film upholds the “pativrata dharma” as the ultimate expression of a “true” Rajput woman, personified in the figure of Padmavati. She is the perfect model of Hindu upper-caste Kshatriya womanhood. A Rajput coded Mewar admires Padmavati for her fidelity and femininity, which is represented as emblematic of their tradition. Padmavati is also repeatedly shown as hiding herself from “outside” men through purdah, as lajja is the biggest adornment of the Rajput woman.


Third, Padmavati’s moral disciplining is critically justified in the film through a language of protection. Rajput muscular pride rests on a gendered binary where Padmavati is metamorphosed into a symbol of sacredness. In a scene in the film, Alauddin Khilji/Ranveer Singh expresses a desire in front of Rana Ratan Sen (and other Rajput men) to meet other members of his family, including Padmavati. All Rajput swords are immediately out. Padmavati thus symbolises the exclusive preserve of Ratan Sen, and safeguarding her virtue is the sole prerogative of Rajput men. She is to be protected or possessed. She is inherently constructed as a marker of Rajput cultural identity and honour. She is the harbinger and spiritual essence of Mewar, cherished as most private and “purest”. In the name of “protecting” her, power is mapped over her body by denying her movement. There actually functions a grim coercive and disciplinary power behind avowals of love and protection.

Fourth, Padmavati is staged as a symbol of honour and prestige of all Rajput men of Mewar. Misplaced invocations of Rajput masculinity and pride underline a conservative mindset that privileges hegemonic Rajput patriarchies. This can aid the reassertion of a previously dominant Rajput elite whose political and social authority has been steadily undermined by the new political groupings and structures of power in independent India. The repeated calls for a masculinised Rajput male prowess in the film, and the luminous honour of the Rajputs, is predicated on the organisation of the darker social forces of Alauddin Khilji.


This brings me to my final point. The film strengthens the stereotypical constructions of the evil, licentious and sexually ferocious Muslim male, epitomised in Alauddin Khilji, lusting after the “pure” body of an upper-caste Hindu woman. There are no nuances or shades here. It is a stark black and white portrayal of the evil Muslim male and the ideal Hindu woman, underwriting an exclusivist grammar of difference. As a dangerously masculine and bestial barbarian, with long hair, kohl-marked eyes and deep cuts on his face, Alauddin Khilji/Ranveer Singh symbolises a spectacle of high sexual appetite and lecherous behaviour. The Hindutva politics of food is also implicitly played out in a scene in which Alauddin is depicted as devouring a huge meal filled with non-vegetarian food and hordes of red meat. The lust of Alauddin for Padmavati’s body symbolically intersects here with “grotesque” food, which contributes in the making of this “predatory” and “libidinous beast”, who is filled with dark thoughts, violence and hyper-sexuality.


It may be argued that the film is a representation of Jayasi’s Padmaavat, and remains true to it. But Bhansali takes many creative liberties in the film. Many other period, mythical and historical films — from Mughal-e-Azam to Jodhaa Akbar — have given space to multiple voices and perspectives. There can be many lives of the queen and diverse narratives. However, Bhansali has chosen to adopt a singular, unilinear narrative, with no complexities or nuances.

To conclude, the film upholds an upper caste, exclusivist and hegemonic Rajput perspective and nurtures a Hindu nationalist historiography that can provide fodder to the politicised Hindu nationalism of present-day India. It defines its cultural ethos largely in terms of patriarchal norms and Rajput identities, which is an impediment to values of autonomy and freedom, and the quest for gender justice.

United in misogyny

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