December 3, 2011

To inform Parliament which states backed FDI in retail:Sharma

New Delhi: Accusing BJP of U-turn over its stand on FDI in retail, Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma said on Saturday the government will place before Parliament records showing which of the states have supported opening of the sector to foreign investment.

“Let Parliament start the debate. When MPs ask this question we will set the record straight… BJP has made a 360 degree turn on this particular issue,” he told reporters after meeting a farmers’ delegation from Haryana.

Sharma said, “We have letters (from states). There are letters which the Ministry of Consumer Affairs has; there are letters which the Standing Committee of Parliament has. Parliament will get to know and whatever documents we have… we will place it before MPs.”

BJP Vice-President Shanta Kumar has since rebutted the charges that Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh were in favour of foreign direct investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail, which is dominated by small kirana shops.

“Yesterday, an attempt was made to spread the wrong impression that Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh gave their support to FDI in multi-brand retail. I have talked to the Chief Ministers of both the states and they said this is not true,” Kumar said yesterday.

Sharma said while the Centre respects the right of the states which do not want the FDI in retail, but those “states who do not want it, cannot deprive those states who want it”.

He said it was “unprecedented” that executive decisions are being questioned. “We are a Constitutional democracy and this should not have happened… We have done it after consultations… trying to generate an understanding a consensus,” he said.

The minister said farmers have welcomed it and they want the government to stand firm, “because they feel it is in their interest”. He said they also raised problems relating to high-cost of diesel and fertiliser and the Prime Minister would be apprised of these issues.

December 3, 2011

Six months on, 12 chargesheeted for Dey’s murder

Mumbai: The Mumbai Police on Saturday filed a chargesheet against 12 accused in the murder case of journalist Jyotirmoy Dey. The name of woman journalist Jigna Vora, the latest arrest in the six-month-old case, does not figure in the chargesheet.

The chargesheet, filed in the special Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) court, runs into 3,055 pages and has described in detail the role of 10 men involved in Dey’s murder.

Underworld don Chhota Rajan, who lives abroad in self exile, has also been named in the chargesheet. However, police have mentioned that Rajan and another accused, Nayan Singh, are “absconding”.

Police sources say that journalist Vora’s name and role will be described in detail later in a supplementary chargesheet.

On Friday, a man approached a Mumbai special court here, saying he wanted to surrender SIM cards and mobile phones given to him by Vora — the latest accused in the case.

A deputy bureau chief with a Mumbai daily, Vora was held on November 25 in connection with the June 11 killing of Dey, the editor (Special Investigations) at Mid-Day.

He was shot dead near his home in Powai in Central Mumbai while he was riding home on his motorcycle.


September 7, 2011

Blast outside Delhi High Court

New Delhi: A blast was heard, Wednesday morning, outside the Delhi High Court, located in the heart of the capital.

Atleast 2-3 people are said to be injured. Amid pandemonium, they are being moved to nearby hospital.

Although it would be premature to term it as a bomb blast but eyewitnesses said that the blast was very loud.

The blast occurred near gate number 5 of the High Court. Police officials and forensics teams have rushed to the spot and are taking stock of the situation.

Blast outside Delhi High Court More details are awaited.


September 2, 2011

Bodyguard Salman wows box-office home and abroad

He is Bollywood’s biggest paisa vasool star today. That’s what theatre-owner Rachit Malhotra thinks of Salman Khan. Malhotra owns Agra’s Jwala cinema, a giant single-screen theatre with an abundant 1,139 seats. Yet on Wednesday (Eid) and Thursday, they weren’t enough to accommodate the frenzied fans who queued outside for a ticket. Every show of Bodyguard, Salman’s latest release, was houseful.”For the audience, Salman is the film. Everything else is secondary. They aren’t just whistling when he bares his chest. They are even dancing outside the hall. They know a Sallu bhai movie is always tension-free, with entertainment guaranteed,” says Malhotra.

It’s a similar tale in each of the four single-screen theatres and the three multiplexes in the city of the Taj. “Combined, there are about 60 shows of Bodyguard every day in Agra. Most are houseful. That’s staggering,” he says.

The success story is being replicated across India, even abroad. Trade expert Komal Nahta says the film raked in a record-breaking 11 lakh dirham (about Rs 1.36 crore) on Tuesday, the opening day in Dubai. Even in UK, the first-day collection of 60,000 pounds (about Rs 44 lakh) was equally impressive.
“The movie could cross Rs 85 crore in the first nine days. Overall, it could end up netting around Rs 125 crore,” says Nahta, editor, Film Information.Bodyguard’s box-office figures — his third major recent hit along with Dabangg (2010) and Ready (2011) — might bring a smile on the lips of India’s most famous bachelor. Smiling won’t be easy though. Salman has trigeminal neuralgia, a condition that causes acute pain in the jaw. He is currently undergoing treatment in the US.

Like Bodyguard, Dabangg and Wanted (2009) were also released during Eid. “He has a huge following among the Muslim youth. With an Eid release he is able to capitalize on it,” says Nahta. That’s correct but not the full truth. The 45-year-old actor is equally popular among urban lower-middle class youth and the underclass across communities.

Social scientist Shiv Viswanathan believes the secret of Salman’s popularity lies in his ability to combine machismo and irreverence, innocence and mischievousness. “He combines opposites effortlessly,” he says.

Distributor Sanjay Mehta puts the second surge in the star’s popularity in perspective. In the past 10 years, Bollywood was dominated by feel-good family dramas, love stories and naughty comedies. “Salman was the first to spot the shortage of action films and its possible demand. With Wanted and Dabangg, he reinvented himself as an all-action hero who also delivers one-liners, makes people laugh. With a few changes, Bodyguard continues in the same vein,” he says.

Salman’s bulging biceps in Veergati (1995) spurred the ‘bodybuilding’ craze in small town India. Almost two decades later, he continues to be every neighbourhood gym’s No 1 poster boy. Yet, his major early hits were either romantic comedies or emotional dramas: Maine Pyaar Kiya (1989), Hum Aapke Hain Kaun (1994), Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam (1999).

The actor’s reinvention as an action star became possible after the regular men of muscle — Sunny Deol, Sanjay Dutt, Ajay Devgun and Akshay Kumar — recast themselves as funny-face comics and uneasy romantics. The new Salman filled that gap. True, he was always at home in action flicks (Garv, 2003). But with Wanted and Dabangg, he repositioned himself as Bollywood’s top action man.

Viswanathan says that part of Salman’s charm lies in the fact that he makes no claims of being an intellectual. “He is just normal and healthy, a child of nature, the boy next door. And he is sheer entertainment. He is non-problematic intellectually. And that works in an age where everybody seems to be into problem solving,” he says. Mehta says that Salman’s rebellious streak has also endeared him to the masses. “They find him more human,” he says.

In recent years, the actor has matured in real life. Salman doesn’t make headlines any more for allegedly shooting black bucks or breaking glass panes of his girlfriend’s home or reportedly driving over people sleeping on the pavement.

Now he makes news primarily for breaking box-office records, for being able to figure out the people’s pulse unerringly. Time and again. There is something about Salman Khan.

September 1, 2011

Salman Khan’s Surgery in US Successful

Surgery on Bollywood actor Salman Khan in the US for a painful nerve condition has been “successful” and he is advised a complete rest for the next fifteen days, sources close to the actor said today.

Salman who is suffering from Trigeminal Neuralgia, a nerve disorder that causes intense pain in the face, had left for the US on August 29.

“The surgery was done last night and lasted for five hours. It will take at least fifteen days for the actor to resume work and he is advised complete rest till then. Fresh tests will be conducted further to check the progress of recovery. The actor will then go to South Africa to shoot for Ek Tha Tiger,” sources close to the actor told.

The Dabangg actor has been suffering from the pain in his jaw since 2007 while shooting for ‘Partner’. It got worse last year following which he decided to undergo a surgery.


September 1, 2011

Salman’s Bodyguard First Day Collections 20 Cr

Actor Salman Khan has scored a hat-trick at the box-office with his latest release, Bodyguard, which net Rs 20 crore on the first day of its release. His two other recent films, Dabanng and Ready, raked in the moolah

While Dabanng collected Rs 14 crore on the first day, Ready garnered Rs 12.5 crore. Till then, these Khan capers hit the silver screen, actor Aamir Khan’s 3 Idiots had been the highest first-day grosser with Rs 13 crore.

The massive opening for Bodyguard, which also stars Khan along with Kareena Kapoor, could not have come at a better juncture for Salman Khan, who is battling ill-health. He is in the United States for two surgeries to tackle his neurological problems-trigeminal neuralgia and a form of brain aneurysm. The neuralgia results in painful spasms across the actor’s jaw.
He is scheduled to undergo the procedures within a couple of days. Regarding Bodyguard’s opening, Fun Cinemas’ head of operations Vishal Anand, said, “This has to be the highest-ever opening in Bollywood, beating Dabbang by nearly 15% or so.

” He feels Bodyguard should be able to net Rs 70 crore because of the present five-day weekend due to the Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations. “It is on the verge of making a record in Bollywood,” he said. Bodyguard could have gained from the fact that there was “30-day lull at the box office”. However, the impending release of Mere Brother Ki Dulhan and Mausam may change things.

Trade analyst Taran Adarsh said, “Salman has become a phenomenon if one goes by the first day collection alone.” He credits the first-day rush to the “Salman phenomenon”. He said, “I feel after Salman has started doing charity he has found a special connect with the audience and they make his films work.”

However, many other industry watchers have panned the film. “In terms of content, ‘Bodyguard’ is an average film as compared to Dabanng and Ready.

One will have to wait and watch to see how it fares beyond the first day,” said a film analyst. Adarsh feels otherwise: “Salman and Eid are a lethal combination. I think this film will break the first weekend record as well.”


August 30, 2011

Bodyguard – Movie Review Wanted and Dabangg, Salman Khan is back with yet another release this Eid festive season. His latest movie Bodyguard is his usual masala entertainer film, but director Siddique seems to have grown beyond Salman’s limits. The film is sure to rock the family audience with its simple and captivating story.

Bodyguard is remake of Malayalam movie with the same name, which is a romantic-action film. Salman Khan’s rocking performance is the main attraction of the movie. Rajat Rawail’s comedy timings, Himesh Reshammiya and Pritam’s music, Sejal Shah’s cinematography, Vijayan’s action sequences and beautiful costumes and act direction are the other highlights of the film.

he movie Bodyguard has simple and engaging story that is relatable. Nothing much happens in the first half of the film and it runs with a routine Bollywood masala. But the movie turns serious with a twist at the end of the first half. Siddique has shown the best part of the film in the second half. The film has an unexpected twist in the pre-climax, which is completely shocking.

Lovely Singh [Salman Khan] is very punctual and perfect guy in his duties. He is becomes a bodyguard for Divya [Kareena Kapoor], who is the daughter of a business tycoon named Sartaj Rana [Raj Babbar]. He follows her to her college campus, but soon he becomes a menace for her with his over-protective nature. In bid to avoid him, Divya makes up a fake lover, who falls in love with ‘private number’. Who is that girl? Is she really in love with him? Will he gets his true love in her? All these questions are answered in the climax.

With Bodyguard, Salman Khan has returned to a genre he started out with love story. He emotes well in sentimental sequences and he surely rocks the viewers in action, music and comedy sequences. Kareena Kapoor has a tailor-made role and she has really used it to show her acting skills. Rajat Rawail provides perfect comedy timings. Aditya Pancholi, Raj Babbar, Mahesh Manjrekar, Hazel Keech, Asrani and Vidya Sinha have delivered their best to suit their respective roles.

Himesh Reshammiya and Pritam’s soundtracks are major highlights in the technical front and they fit well with the genre. The title track and ‘Teri Meri…’ are sure to rock the audience. Sandeep Shirodkar’s background score is also good. Sejal Shah’s camera work is the other attraction in the technical stuff. Vijayan’s stunts are stylish and Sanjay Sankla’s editing is also commendable.

Overall, Bodyguard is a good masala entertainer and it can be a perfect time-passer for this Eid and Ganesh festive seasons. Salman’s fans should not miss to watch this movie.

Producer: Atul Agnihotri, Alvira Agnihotri, Reliance Entertainment


Cast: Salman Khan, Kareena Kapoor, Raj Babbar, Hazel Keech, Mahesh Manjrekar, Asrani and Vidya Sinha

Music: Himesh Reshammiya, Pritam and Sandeep Shirodkar


August 23, 2011

I’d rather not be Anna

If what we’re watching on TV is indeed a revolution, then it has to be one of the more embarrassing and unintelligible ones of recent times. For now, whatever questions you may have about the Jan Lokpal Bill, here are the answers you’re likely to get: tick the box — (a) Vande Mataram (b) Bharat Mata ki Jai (c) India is Anna, Anna is India (d) Jai Hind.

For completely different reasons, and in completely different ways, you could say that the Maoists and the Jan Lokpal Bill have one thing in common — they both seek the overthrow of the Indian State. One working from the bottom up, by means of an armed struggle, waged by a largely adivasi army, made up of the poorest of the poor. The other, from the top down, by means of a bloodless Gandhian coup, led by a freshly minted saint, and an army of largely urban, and certainly better off people. (In this one, the Government collaborates by doing everything it possibly can to overthrow itself.)

In April 2011, a few days into Anna Hazare’s first “fast unto death,” searching for some way of distracting attention from the massive corruption scams which had battered its credibility, the Government invited Team Anna, the brand name chosen by this “civil society” group, to be part of a joint drafting committee for a new anti-corruption law. A few months down the line it abandoned that effort and tabled its own bill in Parliament, a bill so flawed that it was impossible to take seriously.

Then, on August 16th, the morning of his second “fast unto death,” before he had begun his fast or committed any legal offence, Anna Hazare was arrested and jailed. The struggle for the implementation of the Jan Lokpal Bill now coalesced into a struggle for the right to protest, the struggle for democracy itself. Within hours of this ‘Second Freedom Struggle,’ Anna was released. Cannily, he refused to leave prison, but remained in Tihar jail as an honoured guest, where he began a fast, demanding the right to fast in a public place. For three days, while crowds and television vans gathered outside, members of Team Anna whizzed in and out of the high security prison, carrying out his video messages, to be broadcast on national TV on all channels. (Which other person would be granted this luxury?) Meanwhile 250 employees of the Municipal Commission of Delhi, 15 trucks, and six earth movers worked around the clock to ready the slushy Ramlila grounds for the grand weekend spectacle. Now, waited upon hand and foot, watched over by chanting crowds and crane-mounted cameras, attended to by India’s most expensive doctors, the third phase of Anna’s fast to the death has begun. “From Kashmir to Kanyakumari, India is One,” the TV anchors tell us.

While his means may be Gandhian, Anna Hazare’s demands are certainly not. Contrary to Gandhiji’s ideas about the decentralisation of power, the Jan Lokpal Bill is a draconian, anti-corruption law, in which a panel of carefully chosen people will administer a giant bureaucracy, with thousands of employees, with the power to police everybody from the Prime Minister, the judiciary, members of Parliament, and all of the bureaucracy, down to the lowest government official. The Lokpal will have the powers of investigation, surveillance, and prosecution. Except for the fact that it won’t have its own prisons, it will function as an independent administration, meant to counter the bloated, unaccountable, corrupt one that we already have. Two oligarchies, instead of just one.

Whether it works or not depends on how we view corruption. Is corruption just a matter of legality, of financial irregularity and bribery, or is it the currency of a social transaction in an egregiously unequal society, in which power continues to be concentrated in the hands of a smaller and smaller minority? Imagine, for example, a city of shopping malls, on whose streets hawking has been banned. A hawker pays the local beat cop and the man from the municipality a small bribe to break the law and sell her wares to those who cannot afford the prices in the malls. Is that such a terrible thing? In future will she have to pay the Lokpal representative too? Does the solution to the problems faced by ordinary people lie in addressing the structural inequality, or in creating yet another power structure that people will have to defer to?

Meanwhile the props and the choreography, the aggressive nationalism and flag waving of Anna’s Revolution are all borrowed, from the anti-reservation protests, the world-cup victory parade, and the celebration of the nuclear tests. They signal to us that if we do not support The Fast, we are not ‘true Indians.’ The 24-hour channels have decided that there is no other news in the country worth reporting.

‘The Fast’ of course doesn’t mean Irom Sharmila’s fast that has lasted for more than ten years (she’s being force fed now) against the AFSPA, which allows soldiers in Manipur to kill merely on suspicion. It does not mean the relay hunger fast that is going on right now by ten thousand villagers in Koodankulam protesting against the nuclear power plant. ‘The People’ does not mean the Manipuris who support Irom Sharmila’s fast. Nor does it mean the thousands who are facing down armed policemen and mining mafias in Jagatsinghpur, or Kalinganagar, or Niyamgiri, or Bastar, or Jaitapur. Nor do we mean the victims of the Bhopal gas leak, or the people displaced by dams in the Narmada Valley. Nor do we mean the farmers in NOIDA, or Pune or Haryana or elsewhere in the country, resisting the takeover of the land.

‘The People’ only means the audience that has gathered to watch the spectacle of a 74-year-old man threatening to starve himself to death if his Jan Lokpal Bill is not tabled and passed by Parliament. ‘The People’ are the tens of thousands who have been miraculously multiplied into millions by our TV channels, like Christ multiplied the fishes and loaves to feed the hungry. “A billion voices have spoken,” we’re told. “India is Anna.”

Who is he really, this new saint, this Voice of the People? Oddly enough we’ve heard him say nothing about things of urgent concern. Nothing about the farmer’s suicides in his neighbourhood, or about Operation Green Hunt further away. Nothing about Singur, Nandigram, Lalgarh, nothing about Posco, about farmer’s agitations or the blight of SEZs. He doesn’t seem to have a view about the Government’s plans to deploy the Indian Army in the forests of Central India.

He does however support Raj Thackeray’s Marathi Manoos xenophobia and has praised the ‘development model’ of Gujarat’s Chief Minister who oversaw the 2002 pogrom against Muslims. (Anna withdrew that statement after a public outcry, but presumably not his admiration.)

Despite the din, sober journalists have gone about doing what journalists do. We now have the back-story about Anna’s old relationship with the RSS. We have heard from Mukul Sharma who has studied Anna’s village community in Ralegan Siddhi, where there have been no Gram Panchayat or Co-operative society elections in the last 25 years. We know about Anna’s attitude to ‘harijans’: “It was Mahatma Gandhi’s vision that every village should have one chamar, one sunar, one kumhar and so on. They should all do their work according to their role and occupation, and in this way, a village will be self-dependant. This is what we are practicing in Ralegan Siddhi.” Is it surprising that members of Team Anna have also been associated with Youth for Equality, the anti-reservation (pro-“merit”) movement? The campaign is being handled by people who run a clutch of generously funded NGOs whose donors include Coca-Cola and the Lehman Brothers. Kabir, run by Arvind Kejriwal and Manish Sisodia, key figures in Team Anna, has received $400,000 from the Ford Foundation in the last three years. Among contributors to the India Against Corruption campaign there are Indian companies and foundations that own aluminum plants, build ports and SEZs, and run Real Estate businesses and are closely connected to politicians who run financial empires that run into thousands of crores of rupees. Some of them are currently being investigated for corruption and other crimes. Why are they all so enthusiastic?

Remember the campaign for the Jan Lokpal Bill gathered steam around the same time as embarrassing revelations by Wikileaks and a series of scams, including the 2G spectrum scam, broke, in which major corporations, senior journalists, and government ministers and politicians from the Congress as well as the BJP seem to have colluded in various ways as hundreds of thousands of crores of rupees were being siphoned off from the public exchequer. For the first time in years, journalist-lobbyists were disgraced and it seemed as if some major Captains of Corporate India could actually end up in prison. Perfect timing for a people’s anti-corruption agitation. Or was it?

At a time when the State is withdrawing from its traditional duties and Corporations and NGOs are taking over government functions (water supply, electricity, transport, telecommunication, mining, health, education); at a time when the terrifying power and reach of the corporate owned media is trying to control the public imagination, one would think that these institutions — the corporations, the media, and NGOs — would be included in the jurisdiction of a Lokpal bill. Instead, the proposed bill leaves them out completely.

Now, by shouting louder than everyone else, by pushing a campaign that is hammering away at the theme of evil politicians and government corruption, they have very cleverly let themselves off the hook. Worse, by demonising only the Government they have built themselves a pulpit from which to call for the further withdrawal of the State from the public sphere and for a second round of reforms — more privatisation, more access to public infrastructure and India’s natural resources. It may not be long before Corporate Corruption is made legal and renamed a Lobbying Fee.

Will the 830 million people living on Rs.20 a day really benefit from the strengthening of a set of policies that is impoverishing them and driving this country to civil war?

This awful crisis has been forged out of the utter failure of India’s representative democracy, in which the legislatures are made up of criminals and millionaire politicians who have ceased to represent its people. In which not a single democratic institution is accessible to ordinary people. Do not be fooled by the flag waving. We’re watching India being carved up in war for suzerainty that is as deadly as any battle being waged by the warlords of Afghanistan, only with much, much more at stake.


August 20, 2011

Govt blinks, ready to talk to Anna

New Delhi: At a time when the UPA is on backfoot over Gandhian Anna Hazare’s indefinite fast, pressing for a stronger Lokpal Bill, government has hinted that it was ready to talk to Team Anna to find a midway, if approached formally.

The indications came after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh chaired an hour-long meeting of Congress core group late last night, to take stock of the situation arising out of Anna’s fast at Ramlila Ground.

The meeting was attended by senior Union Ministers Pranab Mukherjee, P Chidambaram and AK Antony. Sonia Gandhi’s political secretary Ahmed Patel was also present in the meeting.

“The government has no problem in holding talks with the civil society group led by Hazare if they express readiness,” highly placed sources in the Congress party informed.

A number of Congress leaders, speaking on condition of anonymity said the government should re-engage Team Anna in talks.

Govt blinks, ready to talk to Anna The meeting came against the backdrop of Hazare setting a deadline of August 30 for the government to get the Janlokpal Bill passed in Parliament, failing which he decided to continue his fast “till his last breath”.

Meanwhile, Congress launched damage control exercise over handling of Anna issue with East Delhi MP Sandeep Dikshit stating that the Gandhian should not have been arrested and adverse comments made against him could have been avoided.

The civil society led by Anna Hazare have been demanding inclusion of Prime Minister, higher judiciary and conduct of MPs inside Parliament under the ambit of Lokpal.

The Hazare team is also demanding a strong public grievance redressal mechanism, lokayuktas at state-level and independent selection, funding and removal mechanism to ensure autonomy of function.

The Lokpal Bill cleared by the cabinet seeks to keep the office of the Prime Minister outside the purview of the ombudsman during his term in office and also exclude higher judiciary and conduct of MPs inside Parliament.

The Lokpal, consisting of chairperson and eight members, half of them judicial, will have its own prosecution and investigation wing with officers and staff necessary to carry out its functions.


August 20, 2011

West Bengal is now Paschim Banga

Kolkata: The West Bengal government and the opposition parties on Friday unanimously decided to rename the state Paschim Banga, state Industries Minister Partha Chatterjee announced.

“It has been unanimously decided by all the parties under the leadership of our Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee that from now onwards West Bengal will be called Paschim Banga. From now onwards, in English also, the name of our state will be written as Paschim Banga,” Chatterjee said while addressing a media conference here.

“We have agreed with the state government regarding the renaming of West Bengal into Paschim Banga,” opposition leader Surya Kanta Mishra of the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPi-M) said after the meeting.

“While considering the name, we considered all the aspects including administrative, historical and social aspects,” said Chatterjee.

A committee on Friday proposed the “shortlisted new names” for West Bengal at an all-party meeting.

The committee comprised of Parliamentary Affairs Minister Partha Chatterjee and opposition leader Surjya Kanta Mishra. On Thursday, the Left Front shortlisted four names – Bangla, Paschim Banga, Banga Pradesh and Bangabhumi.

“The new name will now be passed in the state assembly then it will be sent to the union ministry of home affairs. From there, it will go to the parliament and then to the president for assent,” Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP) leader Manoj Bhattacharjee who was present in the meeting, said.

West Bengal is now Paschim Banga “We felt that due to historical and administrative reasons, all of us wanted to rename the state. After lot of discussion we found that it is better to have a name which is closer to the alphabet ‘A’. We may not be very closer to ‘A’ but we have upgraded ourselves from ‘W’ to ‘P’ which is much closer to ‘A’,” Industries Minister Partha Chatterjee said at a media conference here.