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My Guru, My Father: Amjad Ali Khan

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Ustad Haafiz Ali Khan was born in a house responsible for giving the Sarod its present shape and structure. The traditional style of music which today has become somewhat rare is called Dhrupad, where the use of embellishments does not exist. The usage was more of long glides both for vocalists and instrumentalists. He added to it the melodic possibilities of instrumental music in its complete dhrupad form. A rabab-oriented Sarod style, more staccato, more right hand than left, more mechanical than melodic was converted by Ustad Haafiz Ali Khan to a brilliant amalgam of feeling and cleanliness, heard only in the Rudra-Been and the Sursingaar of the descendants of Mian Tansen. Ustad Haafiz Ali Khan could make his sarod sing. This he did by a very advanced technique of the left-hand fingernails and a thorough understanding of the Raga pattern filtered through feeling and Aesthetic awareness. He could flower with tonal accuracy even when the string pitch went down by a quarter note or more. He was himself a great dhrupad singer and discovered a brilliantly coordinated and synchronized stroke sustainability in his sarod. With this, he could translate his vocal dhrupad lines in the otherwise metallic instrument of his ancestors, to a stream of aesthetic melody patterns.

Haafiz Ali Khan lived for Music. For my father, though, there was no question of a life outside music. Life itself was Music and Music was Life. And so I came to inherit from him the legacy of five generations of musicians as naturally as a bird taking to the air. His exquisite music was not just an artistic performance but a form of prayer. He was initiated in the tradition of the Senia Gharana by direct descendants of the line of Swami Haridas, Mian Tansen, and leaned at the feet of Ustad Wazir Khan of Rampur. Ustad Wazir Khan broke the convention of teaching only family members and accepted him as his disciple. Now a direct disciple of the Tansen School, Haafiz Ali Khan Saheb started flowering under the Ustad’s undiluted teaching. More knowledge enriched the already exposed brilliance of Haafiz Ali Khan Saheb and his strict adherence to vocal dhrupad made the veterans of his time looking at him with admiration. His performance together with his tonal richness and accuracy from instrumental music a status equivalent to vocal music; The melody-rich Sarod got an unthinkable status.

Ustad Haafiz Ali Khan receiving the Sangeet Natak Academy Fellowship from Dr. Rajendra Prasad. Maulana Abdul Kalam looks on. (1952) FriedEye
Ustad Haafiz Ali Khan receiving the Sangeet Natak Academy Fellowship from Dr. Rajendra Prasad. Maulana Abdul Kalam looks on. (1952)

Ustad Haafiz Ali Khan was honoured with the title of Aftab-e-Sarod by the All Bengal Music Conference in Calcutta, the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award, and also received a fellowship of the Akademi. The Universities of Vishva Bharti and Khairagharh conferred doctorates on him. The Government of India conferred the award of Padma Bhushan in 1960. The true Godfather of Instrumental music of his times! Far ahead of his time, Ustad Haafiz Ali Khan realized the coming of the industrial age, its rapidity and its lack of leisure and want of time. He believed that rag music in its purity can only be preserved by precision. Stretching the raga too long will lead to irrelevant phrases, raga dilution, and deviation. Rabindra Nath Tagore also believed in this. Ustad Haafiz Ali Khan was the last musician who stuck to his dhrupad roots. He created the correct raga environment by playing dhrupad lines verbatim and then elaborated and expanded them. He will also be remembered as the last of the Senia dhrupad greats. Apart from his formidable command over traditional sarod compositions, dhrupad, and thumri, he was particularly appreciated in the Viceregal firmament of colonial India for his unique, stylized renditions of “God Save The King” on his sarod.

The Sarod Ghar-Museum of Musical Heritage in Gwalior, is a unique institution devoted to promoting Indian classical music, heritage and culture. Under the aegis of Haafiz Ali Khan Memorial Trust, through this ‘window’ to the past, music lovers can gain a better understanding of the evolution and history of Indian Classical Music and can get a deeper perspective and insight into the context of the art as it exists today. The aim of setting up this institution is to create awareness and respect for classical music, musicians and the variety of instruments of India. The road on which the museum stands has been named Haafiz Ali Khan Marg by the Govt. of Madhya Pradesh. The first instruments exhibited were the instruments belonging to his forefathers. Madhya Pradesh has had a whole history of great musical legends down memory lane . The great vocalist Ustad Amir Khan Saheb, Ustad Jahangir Khan Saheb, Ustad Abdul Haleem Jaffar Khan Saheb, Bharat Ratna Lata Mageshkar-ji are among the prominent aristes who belonged to the city of Indore. The city of Dewas gave birth to another two prominent personalities. Ustad Rajab Ali Khan and Pandit Kumar Gandharva. The legendary Hindi film playback Singer Kishore Kumar-ji and his brother the famous Ashok Kumar-ji also belonged to Khandawa .

A road in the name Ustad Haafiz Ali Khan Saheb was inaugurated by the Honourable Chief Minister, Smt. Sheila Dikshit few years ago at PWD Road. This is the 2nd entry road to Nizamuddin Railway Station. This is the only road named after an artist after Tansen and Thyagaraja in the capital city in 2011. The Kolkata Municipal Corporation also renamed New Park Street as Ustad Hafiz Ali Khan Sarani by chief minister Mamata Banerjee in 2013.

 

Having spanned over 90 years, my fathers was a life that connected the high points of the colonial era to the turbulence of our own times. Born sometimes in the 1880s at Gwalior where his father Nanneh Khan was court musician, Haafiz Ali Khan Saheb took great pride in the fact that it was his great grandfather, Ghulam Bandegi Khan Bangash, who turned his native Afghan rabab into what we know today as the sarod. Yet his thirst for knowledge took him to Pandits Chukha and Ganeshi Lai of Vrindaban, who were stern practitioners of the Dhrupad and then he went on to Rampur, where he became a disciple of the great Ustad Wazir Khan, the descendant of Tansen. My father left his impression not only in that provincial court but, more importantly, also in Calcutta, then the Imperial Capital. It was here that he received the love and adulation that was to endow him with the legendary status. Raichand Boral, who later rose to fame as the music Director of the New Theatres and the discoverer of K.L. Saigal, was more intimate and colorful in his reminiscences always told me that the first time my father came to his house in 1918, the Great war had just ended and a complacence was beginning to set in the music world of Bengal. ‘With his coming, we were suddenly confronted with a genius who almost rudely banished smugness, lethargy and tidy housekeeping.’ He discovered the link between dhrupad and thumri long before it was commented upon by others. To be able to see Haafiz Ali Khan in proper perspective in the words of Dr Narayana Menon was that Haafiz Ali Khan was the poet. Abba Saheb, as I called him, was a born extrovert, held his head high, brooked no nonsense from any quarter and walked the earth like a renaissance prince.

On the occasion of Ustad Haafiz Ali Khan Saheb’s 48th death anniversary, I pray to my father and guru, like every day. May his soul rest in peace! As I have written in my memoir about Ustad Haafiz Ali Khan (1877- December 28, 1972) that for me, the seven notes of music were him. He was the epitome of music. He was my inspiration, my reason of perspiration and he was my idea of representation.

10 things you must know about Assam startup – The Nest

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Among several issues plaguing Assam, unemployment stands as one major constraint. The fact that the state has a dismal number of literate and semi-literate unemployed youths strikes a sorry picture. Keeping this in mind, the Government of Assam decided to give shape to an initiative that will support and encourage the youths of Assam to convert from being job seekers to job creators.

The Department of Industries and Commerce, Government of Assam, took it upon itself to formulate the Assam Startup Policy in 2017. The core objective of the Policy is to promote a culture of entrepreneurship in the state that would help develop self-sustenance in Assam and largely address the problem of unemployment in the state. The IIM Calcutta Innovation Park has been roped in as the implementing partner to execute the initiative by the Government of Assam.

Given that the average state population has traditionally been service-inclined, merely motivating the youth towards entrepreneurship isn’t enough. They need a certain amount of grooming and hand-holding until they are confident and skilled enough to drive their business independently. Hence, the need for a world-class startup incubator that can provide complete entrepreneurial grooming and practical coaching to the startups.

Keeping this mind, a state-of-art marquee incubator was inaugurated, as part of the Assam Startup Policy 2017, on 20 January 2019 by the honourable Chief Minister, Shri Sarbananda Sonowal. Assam Startup – The Nest is Assam’s first state-owned startup incubator located at Ambari, Guwahati and is dedicatedly working to help the startups grow into master entrepreneurs.

Months into the initiative, there has been a lot of curiosity among people about Assam Startup – The Nest. A feeling of wonder engrosses the mind about what goes on inside the swaggering building! Here’s an attempt to clear the clouds and pull out answers to everything one wants to know about the Assam Startup initiative.

 

  1. What does Assam Startup – The Nest do?

As a startup incubator, Assam Startup – The Nest helps the startup entities to tailor their entrepreneurial mindset in order to align it with the market. Selected startups are incubated at The Nest for a period of 6 months, wherein they go through intense mentoring, capacity building training and get access to co-working space, support services, and crucial network connects to help them get cracking and take the next big leap.

 

 

  1. How can Assam Startup – The Nest help fulfill the entrepreneurial aspirations of a startup?

Entrepreneurship is a tough call involving several highs and lows. Being an entrepreneur requires a strong frame of mind, problem-solving mindset, and a never-say-die attitude. Through its rigorous capacity building programs and mentoring sessions, Assam Startup – The Nest tries to train the startups to align their thoughts with the tough demands of entrepreneurship so that they are skill-equipped to turn a startup idea into a scalable business venture.

The startups are also introduced to formidable figures from the industry that include national and international entrepreneurs, investors and startup mentors. They get the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to interact with those industry gurus, indulge in knowledge sessions with them and turn those sessions into fruitful networking opportunities.

What more, in the final phase of the incubation, The Nest organizes a Demo Day, wherein top investors are invited to consider investing in the ventures pitched by the incubated startups.

 

  1. What kind of mentoring is provided at The Nest?

The incubated startups are assigned mentors based on their sector, startup stage and specific needs. The pool of mentors at The Nest consists of industry experts from across the country with elaborate experience in entrepreneurship. Most of these mentors are already mentoring startups incubated at IIM Calcutta Innovation Park (Kolkata).

The assigned mentors do a review of the startups and offer them insightful suggestions as well as give them monthly targets or action plans to work on so that by the end of the 6-month incubation, the startups could have a thorough business model in hand.

 

  1. Does Assam Startup provide technological support to the incubatees?

Assam Startup – The Nest is essentially a business incubation hub and does not provide direct technological support. But it helps the startups to connect with institutions offering suitable tech training and support.

 

  1. Is there a fee for incubation?

No fee is charged for incubation.

Startup Assam

  1. Does Assam Startup provide fund?

Assam Startup – The Nest connects the incubated startups with investors. Apart from this, the startups can apply for Startup Recognition on the website www.startup.assam.gov.in to become eligible for a number of fiscal and non-fiscal benefits provided by the Government of Assam. Startups deemed eligible for Startup Recognition following a rigorous process of evaluation are granted a unique My Assam Startup ID (MASI), which the startups must use to apply for the various benefits enumerated on the website.

One may go to the website and click on “Resources” to read the Assam Startup Policy 2017 and learn about the benefits under MASI in details.

Please note that startups who aren’t incubated at The Nest are also eligible to apply for MASI.

 

  1. Apart from the MASI benefits, what does Assam Startup – The Nest do for startups who aren’t incubated at The Nest?

The Nest conducts a special Startup Adda every month, especially for the non-incubated startups, wherein they get the opportunity to interact with industry experts and ask them for suggestions regarding the various challenges of entrepreneurship with special focus on their own ventures. Besides, The Nest also conducts topic-based workshops for the non-incubated startups to acquaint them with the motley nuances of business and management.

 

  1. Does Assam Startup give startup ideas?

Assam Startup – The Nest does not offer startup ideas. It offers the right direction to execute startup ideas.

However, the startup incubator organizes Hackathons and Ideathons, inviting youths to come together and brainstorm over a popular local problem in order to come up with interesting startup ideas and solutions.

 

  1. Are all activities of Assam Startup confined to The Nest alone?

It’s understood that none of the facilities under the Assam Startup Policy would bear fruits unless and until there’s far-reaching dissemination of knowledge about startups, the challenges and scope of startups in the state, and comprehensive familiarity with the provisions enumerated under the Assam Startup Policy 2017. As such, it’s been made sure that The Nest holds awareness sessions and workshops at different academic and training institutions across the state from time to time. In fact, within 2 months of its launch, The Nest had connected with around 2500 students and aspirant entrepreneurs across the state.

 

  1. Is there any sector specification or preference in order to be considered eligible for incubation?

Startups from any sector, except for liquor and tobacco, can apply for incubation at Assam Startup – The Nest. The startups are evaluated on the basis of Innovativeness, Market Potential, Revenue Model, Traction and Team Capabilities.

 

  1. How to apply for incubation?

Incubation at The Nest is run on a Cohort mode. The contest for the second Cohort is currently let open. In order to apply, one must go to the website www.startup.assam.gov.in  and “Apply for Cohort 2.0”. The applicants need to fill-up the form and submit. The applications are rigorously evaluated by industry experts from across the country after which the top list of startups are invited to pitch their venture in front of jury members at The Nest. The final list of startups from the pitching process is selected to be a part of the Cohort.

The love-affair of Bollywood and North America

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    In the course of the last few years, we’ve seen how the ‘Bollywood Masala’ has soared its popularity across the globe. It shouldn’t be a surprise though — considering a whopping 22 million Non-Resident Indians around the world! Bollywood is no longer constrained to the beaches of Indian Ocean — it has come into whacking limelight over these years and the song ‘London Thumakda’ has now a literal meaning in it.  Today, the fandom of Indian Movies transcends all the borders and Bollywood movies make a mammoth revenue with the love of their fans abroad and they’re too good to ignore for the creators in the industry. Stars fancy meeting their global fans by hosting tours and award functions, and the warmth the fans reciprocate is priceless. If you’re from North America and scepticism clouds your judgement about getting into the Bollywood movies, but they’re not as uncertain to try as the game of roulette—they’re easy to grasp and are loaded with fun songs that you can surely enjoy. In a nutshell, Bollywood movies are fun and if you’re in North America, you’d get the best out of Bollywood there—here are some of the best movies Bollywood movies from the last year that you could start with.

    Let’s take a glance at the dynamics of Bollywood and its influence on fans all over the world.

    The revolutionary 21st century for Bollywood:

    The inception of this century encountered some of the blockbusters by the mighty Bollywood giants who established their names during the beginning of the 21st century itself – Yes, we’re talking about Karan Johar and Aditya Chopra. If the iconic guitar tune just echoed in your head, you know where this is going. With likes of Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayengay, Kal Ho Na Ho and Kuch Kuch Hota hai creating massive traction all across the globe, filmmakers started giving more attention their global crowd by adding elements of Indo-American culture in their movies. The popular TV host and film trade analyst Komal Nahta also gave her opinion on this shift in Bollywood saying, “These directors gave NRI viewers the perfect mix of traditional Indian values with a modern Westernised treatment.”

    Over these years non-resident Indians weren’t the only ones who hopped on the global fan brigade of Bollywood, the diverse culture and the dramatic magnetism of Bollywood lured a lot of a lot of Hollywood celebs too. Be it Kristen Stewart’s desire to work with the ‘Greek God of Bollywood’, Hrithik Roshan, or the queen of reality Tv in Hollywood, Kim Kardashian who admitted her ardent fascination in appearing in popular Indian telly reality show, Big Boss.

    If Bollywood has influenced any part of the world the most, it would most certainly be the Western one — especially the fans of North America.

    Bollywood’s overwhelming love story with North America:

    Did you know that out of the 13 million population of, Ontario has 600,000 Indian diasporas? You can only imagine the levels to which the Indian culture penetrates there. Even the business giants in North America have started to pay serious attention to the possible synergies of having the hold of Bollywood aficionados.

    Indian-Language movies have found a strong grip on the North American cineplexes.

    Some of the Bollywood blockbusters have hit the skyrocketing stats in North America only, in the past decade —like Rajkumar Hirani’s 3 Idiots that grossed $6.5 million in 2009. Though it was a long time back and nowadays movies are even exceeding the $10 million grosses. The latest release of the movie Bahubali (Bahubali 2: The Conclusion), broke all the records in North America in 2017 by grossing more than $13 million in North America. Its total box-office collection turned out to be around $20m in the United States — the movie gained popularity like wildfire in North America and left a long-lasting impact of Bollywood on the people. Although the population of Indians in North American only comprises of 1-3% of the Global Indian diaspora, a Bollywood hit in North America can still earn more than 10% of its worldwide gross — that explains how a lot of Bollywood award functions and movie tours took place in North America in recent years. One of the most iconic ones among them was last year’s IIFA Awards which is also known as the ‘The Oscars of Bollywood’. The star-studded night took place in MetLife Stadium in New York. The event had the likes of some of the biggest stars in Bollywood like Salman Khan, Varun Dhawan and Alia Bhatt, who were dancing to the popular Bollywood numbers and were revered by their fans.

    Farhan Akhtar wins Best Actor award for Bhaag Milkha Bhaag at 15th IIFA Awards, Tampa, USA

     

    Sooner or later, Bollywood movies can rival Hollywood movies in a staggering duel for movie screens in North America. Currently, an average week in the US encounters 900 movie screens decorated with Bollywood movies, across 35 states of it. However, one thing is quite certain, fans of Bollywood in North America are only going to get more of their beloved stars in the coming time.

    Celeb blogs: Masumeh Makhija Tells Us Her Story

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      Having grown up amidst the world of films, I had always wondered what it would be like to one day perhaps be a part of it.

      I would hear stories of my Grandfather’s travel, trying to further the overseas market for Indian films. First-hand exciting stories of how he set up movie screens in places like the middle of Africa, South America etc. Stories he narrated of how all these people who didn’t even understand our language, would laugh, cry and enjoy our films.

      I’d see my uncle and mother work away producing films, today most of them regarded as the iconic ones that they are. From Chashme Badoor to Hiro Hiralal to Khatta Meetha to Jalwa etc. As a child as you can imagine, it was all too exciting and I wanted every part of it.

      Albeit I came from ‘film family’ in that sense, it was always the side of the business of films that I was introduced to, then growing up I saw my sister take to direction and that really fascinated me further. My mother used to always tell me; we are bits and pieces of the environment we are around.

      However, more than everything behind the camera, what fascinated me were those in front of them, pretending at first and then believing to make others believe this character that was a figment of someone’s imagination and many truths.

      It was this thought that led me to want to be in front of the camera in the first place. I started my journey at a very young age. I worked on some great films and equally terrible ones too. But that never bothered me. I wanted to learn and be and believe in these people that I was essaying. At every step, I was discovering something new. I was like a child in a candy store, I wanted it all. A lot many times it didn’t go as planned, but my mother would say, “dust it off and move ahead”. So I did that.

      There came a point where the ideals of why I began and the reality of being typecast in terms of the offers I was getting did not see eye to eye. That’s when again the words that “we are bits and pieces of the environment we are around” hit me.

      So I travelled extensively, met new people, learnt new things, from dancing to martial arts to gourmet cuisine to learning to be a sommelier to studying languages. In the process, I even completed a couple of European Films. In this process, I learnt so much from the people I met and even today have some of my closest friends who I had met at various places and all these film festivals I had been to. That was the second thing my mother always told me, Travel, because there’s nothing called ‘travelled enough’. So I did that.

      In this process, in hindsight, I think this in a way this gave me a deeper understanding of the craft of performance, of wearing new skins and of understanding people at large.

      It was in this process that I also realized that the mere prospect of being involved in creating something excited me, be it a character or content as I do now with my digital content creation agency, Short Circuit.

      While the search for finding truly exciting characters that I wanted to essay was on, I clearly did not want to slow down being able to create them too. I began writing with my sister and in the meanwhile was consumed in setting my own content creation agency along with my business partner. Short circuit was born and since then there has been no looking back. We worked tirelessly and I am so happy with everything that we have been a part of, over a 100 unique content pieces and digital ads. So many crazy, fun, honest, real and heart full characters. Imagine my excitement.

      My excitement to be in front of the camera after now having been so engrossed also behind it, working towards creating all these pieces of stories and characters for the content we were producing, was sparked when I heard the character of Varsha. My character from my upcoming film 3 Storeys.

      Upon receiving the script, the connection to the character was instant and electric. I deeply felt the angst and layers of contradiction that the character of Varsha required. It was clear that I had to go in for it.

      Clad in a borrowed, torn saree, with no make-up, I walked into the Excel office, where no one had seen me for years, and waited patiently to be called in. The reaction was unforgettable. The child in me was so very happy; the child that had decided that this is what she wanted to do. I loved the  “Oh you poor thing, what has become of you!” look I got. It was priceless.

      Arjun Mukerjee, my director of 3 Storeys took time out to take the audition himself. In the middle of complete chaos, he very sweetly sat with me and explained what he was looking for, and how he saw the film and Varsha. Funnily enough, it was also how I saw her. The energy and understanding were just perfect. I think the last time I felt this excited was with Maqbool, with Vishal Bhardwaj.

      I began my audition; remember I had not done this in years now. By the end of the scene, I couldn’t stop crying. Uncontrollably at that. People in that room did not know what to do, pacify me, ask me to leave, hand me a tissue… it was very amusing. Arjun’s eyes were moist, and said that it was the best audition he had seen. I still remember I was elated, not only because I had the role I wanted, but because the travel and the learning allowed me to channel the environments I had been around and from bits and pieces of people I had met. ‘you are the sum of your experiences’

      3 Storeys was undoubtedly one of my most challenging of roles and films, purely for the phenomenal talent that is also a part of it. From Richa to Pulkit to Renuka to Sharman to a younger new generation of actors in Aisha and Ankit et al. On set, I remember, I’d have these thought pangs thinking to myself ‘This is what contentment feels like.”

      I like it this way, being able to create content with short circuit and then when there’s a role or character that awakens the Kid in me, who always wanted to be an actor, jump in front of the camera and let her be.

      In hindsight, I am fortunate to have the three best advice given to me, “we are bits and pieces of the environment we are around, so don’t stagnate”, “There’s nothing called travelled enough” and most importantly, something I have learned to believe in “At the end of it all, have an interesting story to tell”. Your story.

      Decoding Depression – What Next?

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      In my last post, I mentioned about how I discovered depression. I have consulted a couple of my psychiatric friends after that but nothing helped. While some of them hinted about a possible anxiety disorder, some just shrugged off as simple “mood swings”. However, all of them asked me why I believe that I might have depression. This has lead me to go through self evaluation. I asked myself questions that I was ignoring for a long time. I was living my life in self-destructing mode. A suicidal feeling does not mean that you feel like you jump off the cliff or hang yourself from the ceiling fan. It may be a feeling of lack of aim in life. It may be a feeling of not taking care of yourself. It’s different from the feeling of frustration out of daily stress in life. It’s just the feeling of letting yourself die.

      I also realised that though I don’t panic in tough situations but I do get angry in minor situations. When I am angry, I hurt myself and sometimes I hurt others who believe I am angry on them.  There was a time, I believed I had great control over my anger. However, I was terrible when I was tested. It’s normal to get angry but with age, you generally learn how to handle situations. With me, it was going the reverse way.

      Now that I had identified depression, I had problem gaining trust from doctors. This proved to be a hurdle bigger than most of us can imagine. It’s not easy to share the details of your life to someone however close they may be. We lead different lives with different people. Very little part of our personality intersects together in all the lives we lead. Sometimes, we also have dark secrets. How can you share those with a complete stranger.

      After trying hard to deal with the issue of trust with doctors, I decided to make personal research before consulting a professional. I know, it’s not the right thing to do but that is the way I am able to deal with it. With the little research I have done, I have come to the conclusion that there is little clarity about depression in the medical fraternity itself. Depression is grossly misdiagnosed and mistreated condition. Most of the doctors tend to prescribe anti-depressants as soon as someone mildly shows symptoms of depression. There is however a new school of doctors who avoid anti-depressants as much as they can. They also believe that, depression has other physiological causes far from the brain. Knowing about the new school of professionals, I started feeling better. I no more felt depression to be a conspiracy of the medical fraternity.

      Being from a small town, it was difficult for me to find someone from this school. So, I decided to continue my research. While I am still continuing my research, I have started feeling better. Maybe it is because I have decided to confront the issue. I have also started having certain foods like dark chocolate more often. I don’t know if it really helps but I found several articles in web mentioning it.

      I will keep trying it myself until I meet someone I can trust for my life.

      (*Disclaimer: This is just a first person account and not a medical advice. This blog is written keeping in mind the level of unawareness we have regarding mental health. Depression is a symptom, a sign that something is ill in the body that needs to be remedied. There is no catch all treatment for it. Each case is different and needs individual case analysis by a professional.)

      Decoding Depression

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      For the last 7 years, I have been struggling with depression and I have been trying to relate various causes to it. Sometimes it is joblessness, sometimes it is lack of money, sometimes feeling the pressure of my loved ones when I am needlessly trying to make everyone happy at the same time, sometimes it is my love life or rather the lack of it, sometimes it is my job pressure, sometimes it is my disagreements with my boss. I have always tried to get over my depression by trying to get out of the situation sometimes by solving the problems and sometimes by running away from the problem. You may think my behaviour as cowardly but I have no choice. I have learnt to live with the idea that it is more important to survive than winning over every problem. Sometimes it is alright to lose. It is only important you don’t lose yourself.

      When I first noticed it, I was feeling a little low and it was different from sadness. I was not exactly feeling sad or frustrated. It was rather lack of happiness. I was simply feeling low, had difficulty in motivating myself or finding happiness in things that I loved to do and all these happened absolutely for no reason. I was trying to relate this to various events in my life but this feeling only increased with time. When it all started, I was trying my luck in an entrepreneurial venture and everything was working out well. Everything was so exciting and life was supposed to be good. For some reasons, I was not feeling good.

      Around that time, I got a new job which I had applied a few years ago. I was of the hope that a change in environment will help me. Well, things changed but I still felt depressed. I related this to loneliness and made friends there and tried to have fun as much as I can.  However, I was still feeling depressed and this time I associated this with work pressure. I was feeling helpless and I had difficulty concentrating in anything. 

      After 2 years of my job, I got a transfer to a place of my liking. I was feeling better because of my friends. Well, they were not aware of my situation but they somehow managed to keep me happy. One of them was also a great listener and listened carefully to everything I said. I feel sorry  for her as I could not be half as good a listener as her. She listened to me without judging.

      It was while talking to her that I started realising that I might have depression. I could see that I felt low absolutely for no reason and when people asked me the reason, I look around and blame someone. I feel sorry for them and what they had to go through because of me. It might sound like a cliché but I wish I could go back in time and unhurt the people around me.

      While I have been told by many of my loved ones that I will get over it if I start thinking positive and my life is not as bad as many of the people I know.  Some say that meditation helps but it helps in surviving those phases but not in preventing it. I find it difficult to make them understand that it is my mind that I am unable to control and it is not much about stress. Stress is just coincidental. It’s a hard truth of life and we all live with it.

      I have been often told that it’s nowadays trendy to be in depression. You come across so many people talking about depression that it really needs a careful analysis to identify depression. In light of the many people sharing similar stories, maybe it’s time that we step back and ask questions until we are sure that we have this problem. I am not suggesting that we should not discuss it or take help. Instead, I am saying that we should speak out and discuss it more often. Most of the depression cases can be treated by counselling and only the extreme ones need medication.

      For me, it is only one person whom I can tell it openly and telling her helped me speak out my problems to many different people. Some people understand it and some don’t. It really doesn’t matter anymore. The fact that I am able to speak out has helped me feeling better. The frequency of depression attacks has increased over time. I am still trying to figure out the reason but I am learning to cope with it now. 

      Hope is a good thing and hope only makes me survive depression attacks.

      You can read the next post here.

      (*Disclaimer: This is just a first person account and not a medical advice. This blog is written keeping in mind the level of unawareness we have regarding mental health. Depression is a symptom and there is no catch all treatment for it. Each case is different and needs individual case analysis by a professional.)

      Getting to the real issue: Supreme Court Judges Press Conference

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        Judges: Jasti Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Madan Lokur and Kurian Joseph

        In an unprecedented move, four sitting judges in the Supreme Court have addressed the media on 12th of January. The judges addressing the press included Justice J Chelameswar, Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Justice Madan B Lokur and Justice Kurien Joseph who are seniormost judges of the country, just below Chief Justice of India in the hierarchy. On being enquired repeatedly, Justice Gogoi told the media that the press conference was prompted on the issue of appointment of judges in the case of death of special CBI Judge B.H. Loya.

        The main topic of discussion during the press conference was about the issue of judicial appointments. This move seems like a protest against the recommendations of collegium regarding the judicial appointments, ignoring senior judges of the court. The press conference is the first of its kind, and it was done at the residence of Justice Chelameswar, reports the Indian Express.

        Judges: Jasti Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Madan Lokur and Kurian Joseph in Press Conference
        Judges: Jasti Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Madan Lokur and Kurian Joseph

         

        While we will not go into whether we support it or not but what led to this kind of situation. India is going through a tough phase with lots of extreme ideas without understanding the depth of it being floated by both traditional media and social media. 4 Supreme Court judges going public over their discontent with the system is serious issue. The judiciary in India does not have a good record when it comes to credibility, so there’s not much they have to lose. In such a time, this comes. It must have been an issue that must have been long discussed. The authorities took it for granted when the four judges must have approached them.

        The letter released to the press was well drafted with great amount of thought put into it without revealing any details of the contention. It is clear that the press conference was organised as a last option and the authorities were made aware of it. However, the authorities took it for granted and chose to ignore it. The press conference by the four senior judges of Supreme Court made every one take notice of it and it grabbed more eyeballs as the judge command great respect.

        The government has decided to show some restraint and not say much about the situation. Some have criticised them for brushing it as an internal matter. However, it might be their strategy to push for getting some control over the institution. While I hope that I am proved wrong but we cannot deny the probability. If the judges of Supreme Court themselves admit that everything is not right internally than it becomes easier for the government to step in.

        The rift among the Supreme Court Judges has been long known to the insiders. What happened yesterday was uncalled for. The situation could have been easily avoided if handled sensibly internally.

        The media also acted amateurishly in this issue. Instead of breaking down the consequences of the press conference and what lead to the desperation that the Judges were left with no choices they were busy diverting us from the issue.

        We also have to understand that though the press conference was unfortunate, it did not mention about any political interference. It simply pointed out at corruption. The social media is however full of political comments which is more unfortunate but not at all surprising.

        Let us hope that those in power handle the situation sensibly and take steps to get the credibility the Indian Judiciary deserves.

        Of Dangerous Recces And Filmmaking: The Making of the First Tiwa Language Feature Film

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          Choloma, the first ever film made in Tiwa language is scheduled to release soon. And the director Sumir Dewri recalls his journey of making the film. And if his essay is anything to go by, this is probably by far one of the most arduous filmmaking initiatives ever in Assam, or anywhere else. Read on.

           

          Choloma Tiwa film

           

          The inspiration to make a film in Tiwa language came to me after I joined the Regional Government Film and Television Institute. There have not been much to talk about in terms of features or documentaries that showcased the culture of the Tiwa tribe. And that’s precisely where the journey of ‘The Wild Lalungs’ began.

          When we decided to make our film the first thing we did was to start studying the surroundings of the Tiwa villages, understanding their lifestyle and daily lifestyle. The people in these villages are polite, loyal and most importantly have an absolute respect for nature. What we found lacking was anything in the semblance of decent connectivity with the rest of the state, and country. The roads were bad, telecommunication – which is right now seeing a massive boost across the country – is yet to make a presence felt here, electricity was out of question and worse still, medical facilities were abysmal. Yet these people never complain. Their respect for god and nature and their culture of respecting each other inspired us no end.

          On day one of our recce, we started off on our bike from west Karbi Anglong and tried covering as much distance as we can before leaving our vehicle in the jungle to start our trek. We trekked for around 7 kilometres, passing through a few streams to reach the village called Balikhunji. Suddenly around afternoon, it started pouring, resulting in the streams turning almost into rivers! Sensing it would get difficult, we moved back as quickly as possible through the slippery hill to reach our bikes only to realise that our bike was nearly covered by leeches. On way back, we had to stop multiple times thanks to the water making its way into the engine of the bike. By 8pm, after pushing our punctured bike for quite some time, we realised we were actually stuck at an elephant corridor in the middle of the jungle!

          Not losing courage, we moved on and managed to reach the Amcholong river. The connecting road was five-feet under water – something we could not have take our bike through. So we decided to leave behind and crossed over, soaked in water in October cold! That day we walked for over 25 kilometres before finally making it to a zone where telephones work! And that helped us get rescued.

          And if you think that was the end of the adventure, it was only the start. The first day of our production schedule had a lot in store. After wading through the consistent rain we landed in Langardang at 5.15pm, still 12 kilometres away from our shoot locations. Considering the roads were slippery, we left our bikes and walked in the rain. After plenty falls and wounds, the severe damage to some our equipment – whiteboards, reflectors etc – we managed to reach our location. It took all sort of help from helmets to harnesses to head torch for us to not get killed in some accident.

          The journey for the second schedule in Guwahati on another rainy day. It took around 6 hours to reach from Beltola to Jorabaat (something that should not take more than an hour) thanks to the rains and huge water flow downhill from Meghalaya. At 10.30 pm, for the safety of our only female member, we decided that half of the team should head to Jagiroad while the rest should stay back to fix the bike. We got lucky when rains subsided a bit and we managed to fix the bike by 2 am, to reach Jagiroad by 3 am!

          If people ever talk about difficult shoots, I guess we should make it to the discussion. Each of our members walked at least 15 km every day; at times the distance went up to 35 km! That did not scare us from going where no one else has ever shot – locations that are almost scary. I guess it is being a team that kept us going, and the delight that all these hardships would result in our story making it to the silver screen…

          We are a team that mostly consist of Assamese speaking people, and we do not know the Tiwa language. And the Tiwa people where we shot do not speak much of Assamese. We have endeavoured to show something beautiful and make a good ‘Tiwa’ film and I really hope we do justice to that.

          Best Sectors to invest in Indian Stock Market

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            Investing could be a tricky thing when you find yourself in the middle of a strong bull market. BSE Sensex is at its record high and seems to move higher. We expect BSE Sensex to hit 40,000 or higher by March 2018. India is growing and it’s the best time to invest in India. Indian stock markets also are growing as more and more people are investing in equities and mutual funds.

            The sectors that will grow the most in the near and medium term future are:

            Infrastructure: Building a business friendly framework

            Government is looking seriously for developing infrastructure and several long term projects have been undertaken by the government in last 3 years. Governments ambitious plans to develop smart cities and industrial corridors or the achievable goals of doing infrastructural developments in existing hospitals, highways, schools, airports, etc. will be surely helpful for Infrastructure compainies.

            Companies like Larsen & Tourbo, Punj Loyd, Reliance Infrastructure, BHEL, etc. are good bets.

            Financial Services: Mobile is here to stay

            India’s mobile payment system is among the world’s most advanced. The internet penetration in India is also among the highest. While many were sceptical to use modern banking techniques and still are but after demonetisation many people started using mobile banking. The government has failed to hold all the users but gradually people are getting comfortable to using mobile banking. PSU banks are on a growth path and its a good time to invest.

            Non Banking Financial Companies (NBFC) : There is lot of scope to grow

            Apart from a multitude of banks, both PSU and private ones, there are a number of Non-Banking Financial Companies (NBFCs) as well. NBFCs are companies that provide some banking-like services in lending and wealth advisory, but they do not offer such products as credit and debit cards and they do not have a banking license.

            One of the top sub-sectors in this Automative Finance and Housing Finance. Top stocks are HDFC Ltd., Aditya Birla Finance Ltd., DHFL, LIC Housing Finance Ltd., Bajaj Finserve and Indiabulls Housing Finance Ltd.

            Another NBFC sector that is seeing growth are Share Trading Companies. More and more people are investing in share markets since 2014. These companies have seen a steady growth since 2014 and more so after demonetisation.

            Technology: Supporting the New India

            Technology is still a good bet and continue its run in the next few years. The government is aiming complete transparency and effective governance through Digital India. The present government simply loves technology and has very ambitious plans to spread the network of IT infrastructure to the remotest corners of the country.

            The mobile internet, cloud tech and digital payments would be major sub-sectors to look for. Companies like TVS Electronis, RS Software, Tata Communiations are good bet.

            Automotive: A lucrative sector

            As India develops, more and more people are buying cars. Most of the world’s largest automakers are ramping up production in India.

            Top bets are Mahindra & Mahindra and Tata Motors are a good bet. If you can afford, Eicher Motors is a good stock.

            Auto ancillary stocks also grow with the overall growth of Automotive sectors. Stocks like  Exide Industries, Bosch and Amara Raja Batteries are safer bets.

             

            Disclaimer: The views and investment tips expressed here are author’s personal opinion. Stock markets may be volatile and subject to market risks. FriedEye.com advises users to check with certified experts before taking any investment decisions.

            Locally Marketing your Books

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              Locally Marketing Your Books

              Think global, act local.An age old phrase but it’s always relevant. In this age of internet where social media is part of daily life, the phrase becomes even more relevant. Book marketing in national media has increasingly become competitive. There has been a dramatic increase among indie authors where they leverage their communities and local media for marketing their books.

              It’s easier to get carried away with the way successful authors market their books. As an indie author, a major part of your focus should be local. Building a local audience is easier and a one-on-one relationship can be built with your readers. In my last article on marketing tips, I mentioned about how you can talk to local colleges and universities for book reading events. Moreover, teenagers nowadays share everything in social media and it will boost your marketing.

              You must establish yourself as a must follow local indie author in your part of the world. You must develop a consistent interaction with your readers as part of your marketing plan.

              Knowing your reader

              It’s very important to know your reader. Try to understand their behaviours. Knowing the behaviour of your reader, you can pitch your book in the way they will accept it.

              Jot down the list of activities your reader is interested. Where does your target reader hang out locally? Do they shop at particular types of stores? What activities or groups might they be apart of?

              Answering these questions will help in understand how to reach your reader. Look for unique places to hold author events.

              Marketing in Events and Activities

              Look for events in your locality. Facebook can be a great tool for finding events and activities in your local area.

              Go to events and interact with new people. Take part in activities and immerse yourself together with your book in your community. People in your locality should know about your latest works. You should be known as a very accessible person. This will help in the long run.

               Competitor Analysis

              Look out for other identically placed indie authors. Everyone is doing something uniquely to promote his/her book locally. Together with your ideas, you should try some of their ideas but with a better execution. While marketing your books, it is equally important to beat your competition.

              Over the years, I have stressed on the importance of social media. Still, I would say that the RoI in social media is surprisingly low compared to the number of follows.

              It’s your personal connection that will give you a strong foothold in the market.

              To summarise, I strongly urge you to start local marketing and grow a strong fanbase locally. Correspondingly, getting a national fanbase won’t be difficult to achieve.

              Marketing Tips to Sell More Books

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                Marketing Tips to Sell More Books:

                I was talking with a friend of mine when he said, “Writing a book is only a small part of the job, the bigger job is selling the book. I always thought that it’s the publisher’s job to sell the book but they only work in the background. You are the face of marketing.”

                If you are planning to write a book, you have to plan your marketing strategy in advance. While you have to be disciplined as a writer, you also need to have a disciplined approach to your marketing strategy that reflects your personality and the kind of book you are going to write.

                Book-marketing is not an exact science but it is nothing less than that. It’s a combination of a wide variety of efforts that each play a role in an indie author’s success.

                I am jotting down a few points that will help you sell more books.

                Be consistent

                First and foremost, it’s important that whatever you do, you do consistently. So often indie authors try to do more book marketing than their time can allow. Focus on what you can do the best and be consistent. Trust me, you will make greater strides and sell more books if you remain consistent in your efforts.

                Have a clear social media strategy

                Figure out what’s working for you and what’s not. It’s good if you can manage to be everywhere but it’s absolutely not important for you to be everywhere. Be only where you are comfortable and express yourself naturally.

                Do Videos

                Making quality short videos is very easy nowadays because mobile phones have great cameras. It is also for sure that videos are here to stay and the algorithms of Facebook, Twitter or Google are so deigned to show the videos to maximum people. You can also do live videos as it sends a notification to your fans and they are most likely to view it.

                Create a VIP reader group on Facebook:

                One of the best ways to grow fans is to make them feel special. Creating an exclusive invitation-only group is a great way to accomplish this. Fans love these groups, especially when you give them early access to books, gift card promos, contests, and exclusive content.

                Network with other authors:

                This is always, always a great idea. Join online groups, go to writer events, or join local author groups. Networking with other, similar authors is not just good business, but can help you brainstorm new ideas. Plus, you’ll get a chance to see what others are doing that’s working (and what’s not working), and most likely expand your knowledge! You can also ask a few authors to tweet about your book at the time of book release.

                Be a contributory author in online magazines, blogs, websites

                Solidifying your position as a thought leader or an insightful person should be a top goal for your book marketing plan. Contributing content via guest blogging or guest posts helps you give a visibility and ultimately helps in selling your book. If you want to write for friedeye you can mail us at letters@friedeye.com

                Give interviews

                This sounds more simple than actually it is as you cannot approach someone for taking your interview. So, where do you start. Add people who write about books and interview people to your facebook friend list and sooner or later they will approach you.

                Smart Pricing of the book

                It is a difficult ta sisk to do as an author. You can never be satisfied with the price of the book. It’s a fact that you cannot put a price to the effort to write a book but the market works very differently. You have to price the book at a price which works. Researching the price of similar books in sites like Amazon or Flipkart will give you a proper idea.

                Have a website

                It’s very important to have a website if you are going to make a career as an author. The press and agencies will look at your website to know about you. I have written an article on what to include in a website and you can read it here.

                Email marketing

                Don’t have an email group. Create one and start sending emails to them. Don’t be bland and simply push for selling your book otherwise your mails will end up in spam. You should try to make it personal and make the recipients feel special to be part of the email group. You can talk about the book occasionally in a smart way.

                Book excerpts

                Excerpting a chapter at a time is a great way to bring readers into your story. I have already mentioned about contributory articles and VIP groups. You can post the excerpts as a contributory author and in your VIP groups with some extra content.

                Book events

                We often talk about bookstore events and literature festivals while those are great but as an indie author it’s not easy. Talk to local colleges and universities and try to see if a book-reading is possible. Teenagers nowadays share everything in social media and it will give you a free publicity.

                eBook Promotion

                Most authors don’t do enough of these. I don’t mean that you need to do freebies all the time, you can also just discount a book.

                Look over these ideas and create a road map and possibly even a book marketing calendar to plan which strategies you wish to take advantage of to sell more books, what you’ll need to do to accomplish each task, and when each step should happen. Since, you are a creative person you can use these tips to execute it in an innovative way. I hope the article will help you and sell more books. If you still need any help you can contact us.

                Nepotism: the word of year, and why Kangana Ranaut’s grief is misplaced

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                  Nepotism has got to be the word of the year. Thanks to Kangana Ranaut. It has never been a secret, nepotism in Bollywood. The Kapoor family is into the fourth generation, and will probably go into many more… The filmy kids get a break. Even Mimoh Chakraborty did. And though I have nothing against the boy (he is a rather sweet chap), he too would probably understand that he does not quite have what it takes to be an actor.

                  Yet, I find Kangana’s rants against nepotism rather misplaced. It would have made far more sense if the rants came from someone else… for example an Arjan Bajwa. The good-looking actor had romanced Priyanka Chopra in a film a few years back [The same film had got Kangana a National Award for Best Supporting Actress]. And yet, despite his looks and acting credentials, Arjan has had quite a tough time finding roles in the Hindi film industry. Kangana, on the other hand, has had a trajectory like most of her female counterparts. She was introduced by Vishesh Films, went on to work in movies produced by Dharma Productions, Excel Entertainment, Phantom, and Balaji – some of the biggest names in the industry. That she has not worked with actors the three Khans is entirely her call. She was, in fact, offered Sultan with Salman Khan, which she chose to turn down. Likewise, she has also chosen to do films like Rajjo and the Chirag Paswan starrer Miley Naa Miley Hum, evidently solely for the money that was on offer – thereby exploiting her star status. That is something probably actors like Deepika, Anushka and Vidya Balan would stay away from. These actresses, like Kangana, have come from outside the industry and made it big. One look at the ‘A-list’ and you will see that Alia Bhatt is probably the only actress in the top bracket who got a launch because of her surname. Interestingly she is probably the best talent we have in the industry today.

                  In the meantime, I remember Arjan Bajwa once candidly telling me how disappointed he feels because he is almost always offered the second guy in the film. Case in point – Son of Sardaar, Rustom and Bobby Jasoos. He is not alone. Despite the fact that we have a Ranveer Singh and a Siddharth Malhotra doing well today, a majority of the new generation of male actors were born into the industry. Ranbir Kapoor, Varun Dhawan, Tiger Shroff, Arjun Kapoor… even Harshvardhan Kapoor. Things were probably better till a couple of decades back when actors like Shah Rukh Khan, Akshay Kumar managed to make it big.

                  Having said that, it would be fallacy to believe that Bollywood believes in giving breaks to only star kids. For every Ranbir Kapoor there are multiple Arjan Bajwas. Every year there are at least a dozen debutants in various movies made in Bollywood. Of course, these are all small budget films, most of which sink without a trace. The common moviegoer might not even get to know of these films as the media does not write about them and neither do they get proper releases. And you cannot blame the media for not writing about these newcomers. Why should a journalist after all waste time and news space on a story that will in all probability be skipped by the reader? And neither does the regular moviegoer buy a ticket for movies which toplined by new actors, unless the new actor is a star kid. Saawariya, despite its bad reviews, had managed a Rs 11 crore first-weekend collection of Rs 11 crore – a figure a Rajkummar Rao films still struggles to reach (Behen Hogi Teri did a lifetime collection of little over Rs 2 crore).

                  The fact of the matter is that filmmaking is a business. A business which is huge rides on the male lead in Bollywood as well as Hollywood. Movies are not made from money collected from government taxes. They are made by a producer, entirely at his/her own risk. There have been instances when producers have sold properties to make films and ended up losing everything they have. And when a producer is risking his own money he has the right to decide who he wants to cast in his film. And he if chooses to give a break to a star kid, that’s more because the star kid would at least generate some amount of pre-release buzz – enough to tell people that a film is releasing. How many of you guys know of a film called Fuddu that released in October 2016? The film introduced two promising newcomers – Shubham and Swati Kapoor – none of who have been seen ever since. And this despite the fact that it was a decent film. The film obviously did not recover any of the investment.

                  And yet, getting a launchpad has never really meant stardom. If surnames were enough, Uday Chopra and Tusshar Kapoor would not have been restricted to films under their own banner. If surnames were enough, Abhishek Bachchan would not have needed to deal up with comparisons with his father despite impressive performances in films like Yuva, Guru and Dostana.

                  If numbers are anything to go by, talent evidently plays a large part in success. Rajkummar Rao is a fantastic example of the same. The actor just delivered a Newton, which has not pocketed more than Rs 20 crore at the box office. If reports are true, Nawazuddin Siddiqui charges anything between Rs 3.5 crore to Rs 4 crore for a film today – that’s probably equal to what Abhishek Bachchan can afford to ask for, if not more, for a film. The success stories are few and far between, but they are inspirational enough for more talents from across the country to try their luck. Maybe in time, we will have more of such stories than stars from inside the industry.

                  Coming back to nepotism – I really believe it is a rather misused term in context to Bollywood. A wasted tirade. I would have focussed my energy more on ensuring the right people find jobs that help run the country. Because it is the wrong leaders that you are stuck with. It is the undeserving doctor and the dishonest public servant who got his job because his relative is a big shot that is costing the country; you may refer to this as corruption. As for the movies, you have the power to decide against watching a film that acts a star vehicle. Just don’t buy the ticket!

                  If performing in front of the camera is your calling, it is a choice you have to make. You could be an actor without being a hero or heroine too. Maybe that’s the change!

                  How to experience the best of Manipur, Assam, and Meghalaya in 2 weeks and a bit (Part I)

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                    MANIPUR  

                    Manipur is not for the faint-hearted, we were told, before we flew to Imphal on March 20.

                    Yes, we were aware of the economic blockade and we knew the state had been wracked by years of unrest, so we were pragmatic about what awaited us on the first leg of our Northeast trip.

                    But, for some time, we had been following closely all the news from Manipur. Elections for a new state government had been held on March 4 and 8. The results were declared on March 11. Three days later, after much political drama, the BJP was invited to form the government, toppling the Congress, which had been in power for 15 years.

                    With the BJP taking charge, the first thing to happen was the lifting of the economic blockade on March 19, one day before we arrived. How fortuitous was that?

                    The blockade had crippled life in Manipur for more than four months. Now citizens who had been sorely affected by the shortage of essential items could begin thinking of normality again.

                    We saw the new developments as a sign. With the god of vacations clearly having given us the thumbs-up, we boarded our Indigo flight in Bangalore in high spirits, confident we were going to have a fabulous holiday not only in Manipur, but also in Assam and Meghalaya. How right we were to be optimistic!

                    FIRST STOP: IMPHAL

                    IF IT’S MONDAY, IT MUST BE MANIPUR… AND MONIKA

                    Commits alumna Monika Khangembam (Class of 2012) came to Imphal airport to pick us up and accompanied us to the Classic Grande hotel (above), our home for four nights. Monika, who runs an NGO in Imphal and who was still jet-lagged having just returned to Imphal after spending a week in New York, went out of her way to ensure we enjoyed our stay in Manipur and we are grateful to her.

                    WOMEN RULE, OK!

                    As soon as we were done checking into our hotel, off we went sightseeing with Monika. First, a short walk from Classic Grande brought us to a popular roadside cafe for a little replenishment, after which we headed off in a “share-auto” to Ema Keithel, or Mothers’ Market. Among the few hundred women manning (pardon the expression) the stalls was this lady who had a good laugh when she spotted tourists looking goggle-eyed at her wares.

                    PINPOINT FOCUS

                    At nightfall, mini-lamps are switched on at the Mothers’ Market and outside as the vendors put the spotlight on their goods in an effort to maximise sales before it is time to pack up.

                     

                    OUT FOR A RIDE…

                    …with our friend, philosopher, and guide. (On our second day in Imphal, through a friend of Monika’s, we got ourselves a Toyota Innova and driver for Rs.3,500 a day. Yes, private transport, unlike the “share-autos”, is expensive, considering we were paying about Rs.2,500 per night for our room at Classic Grande, one of the top hotels in Imphal.)

                    FLOATING ISLANDS OF LOKTAK LAKE

                    Covering the distance from Imphal to the Northeast’s largest freshwater lake in Moirang, about 50 km away to the south, took us an hour-and-a-half. On the way we were joined by Ashok Sapamcha, Monika’s good friend (more about him below), who guided us to a spot rarely visited by tourists. From here, we got a panoramic view of Loktak and the phumdis, as the floating islands are known. What am I pointing to? That cluster of dwellings in the distance, also seen in the photograph at top right, is Karang, India’s first cashless island.

                    MAKING MOIRANG MEMORABLE

                    Ashok Sapamcha, who runs a tourism operation based out of Moirang, is a young man who cares deeply about his hometown of Moirang and his home state of Manipur. He seems to know every inch of the land intimately and he ensured that our trip on March 21 — from an amazing view of Loktak Lake from the top of a peak to an unforgettable experience of a visit to a phumdi hut for tea and smoked shrimp (pictures below) — was something that can only be described as out-of-this-world. I recommend his services highly. Thank you again, Ashok.

                    HEY-HO! PHUMDI-PROSPECTING WE’LL GO!

                    At Keibul Lamjao National Park, the only floating park in the world, we were hoping to catch a glimpse of Manipur’s state animal, the sangai. But we were not lucky enough. Never mind, a friendly member of the park’s staff consented to give us a canoe ride through a phumdi, pictures above and below. Watch a brief video clip here: NAVIGATING A PHUMDI.

                    WILL IT BEAR MY WEIGHT?

                    The “ground” felt a bit wobbly, but the phumdi here at Keibul Lamjao National Park was, if I may use the phrase, rock solid.

                    AS THE DAY WORE ON, MORE EXCITEMENT

                    Among the lifetime’s memories that were created… lunch at a local dhaba in Moirang followed by pan, above, followed by a boat-ride to a phumdi hut on Loktak Lake for tea and smoked shrimp, below. All arranged by Ashok Sapamcha.

                     

                    BACK AT THE HOTEL…

                    An inner lobby of the Classic Grande gussies up for the night.

                    A TRIBUTE TO THE FALLEN

                    At the Imphal War Cemetery, gravestones mark the sacrifice of soldiers from India (see below), Great Britain, Canada, Australia, and even China who died in in 1944 during the battles against the invading Japanese army. The cemetery is located at a walkable distance from the Classic Grande.

                    WHAT’S THE LATEST?

                    The day would begin with reading the newspapers… naturally. Every morning the hotel staff would arrange all the English dailies neatly on coffee tables in the lobby.

                    AT KANGLA FORT, HISTORY BECKONS

                    A pair of mythical dragons, known as Kangla Sha, stand alert at the entrance to the “Uttra”, the coronation hall of the kings who used to rule Manipur. Kangla was the ancient capital of Manipur, and the fort is situated at the heart of Imphal city. BELOW: The Ibudhou Pakhangba temple, which was consecrated in February 2010. The seven flags on the roof, by the side of the pagoda, represent the seven Meitei clans and Ibudhou Pakhangba is one of the main deities of the Meiteis.

                    LIVE IN CONCERT, IMPHAL TALKIES

                    It was such a pleasure — and a privilege — to be able to watch Akhu Chingangbam, Manipur’s most famous folk singer, and his band, Imphal Talkies, perform at Ougri 2017, the tech and cultural fest organised by NIT Manipur. In the video above, recorded at the venue, Akhu sings one of his best-known English songs, Lullaby, written “for all the children around the world in conflict zones”.

                    When I first met Akhu that evening, I had told him I was a fan of Lullaby. To my surprise, he remembered that and towards the middle of his set before he launched into the song, he dedicated it to “Professor Ramesh Prabhu, who has come here all the way from Bangalore”. To say I was touched would be an understatement. BELOW: The official music video, with lyrics, for Lullaby, published on YouTube in September 2013.

                     

                     

                    A VERY SPECIAL GROUP PICTURE…

                    …followed a very special feast at Monika Khangembam’s home on our last night in Imphal. As award-winning filmmaker Oinam Doren(third from left) put it, “Awesome dinner after a long time. 11 Manipuri cuisines in one night. I know how much meticulous planning, effort and patience it takes to cook because I am also a cook. A bow to Monika’s mom.” The man I have got an affectionate arm around is singer Akhu Chingangbam, whose live concert we had attended earlier in the evening.

                     

                    NEXT STOP: GUWAHATI

                    On March 24, after four standout days in Manipur, it was time to take the Jet Airways flight to Guwahati from Imphal airport. On the agenda: Kaziranga National Park, home of the one-horned rhino, and Majuli, the world’s biggest river island.

                    POSTSCRIPT

                    MANIPUR MEMORIES: Ashok Sapamcha introduced us to Mangka first when he showed us this video (see above) on his phone during our car ride to Loktak Lake.

                    Monika Khangembam, who accompanied us on this trip and who had persuaded Ashok to join us, later introduced us to filmmaker Oinam Doren, who has produced and shot this video.

                    On April 15 I learnt from Oinam’s Facebook post that Mangka was performing in Imphal that evening. We missed out!

                    COMING UP: ASSAM

                    First published on – Trip Meter (Blog)

                    About the author – Ramesh Prabhu is a professor of journalism at Commits, one of India’s premier institutes for media studies. Before turning teacher, he worked with some well-known media organisations such as Mid Day, Mumbai, and Khaleej Times, Dubai. His blog, The Reading Room, is quite popular with media professionals across India.

                    Why should you contribute to an indie project like Local Kung Fu 2?

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                      A lot of people ask me as why should they contribute to an indie-project, that also a movie. At first glance, it looks like a senseless proposition to most of us. Well, the answer is different for different projects but since, a lot of my friends specifically asked for Local Kung Fu 2, I will try to generalise my answers based on LKF2. Unlike European countries, India is in it’s nascent stages of crowd funding and indie film making. Despite that, it’s doing so good. There are so many indie film makers who are not just making good films but also winning us prestigious awards by staying true to their craft. So, coming to the point let me jot down a few reasons.

                      1. Most of us have watched Local Kung Fu although a majority of us are guilty of watching the pirated version of it. Not giving any saintly advice, we all know the cult movie it was. It is difficult to say if Local Kung Fu 2 will recreate the cult but a little financial backing will take the movie to a larger audience. Kenny and his team is not asking for donations but want you to be part of it. They are not emotionally blackmailing and we can assure you that he will deliver of what he promises.
                      2. There are a lot of film-makers in Assam looking for crowd-sourcing. I don’t say that Kenny and his team is the best. Support him or support anyone you believe is capable. We just want that more and more good film-makers come to Assam and make good films. Just support indie-films in some way, shape or form.
                      3. Jobs: Jobs are another benefit. Kenny as I know him is a shrewd businessman. He will utilise the money generated from the funding and use it wisely. Unlike LKF1, which was made in mere 1 lakh, LKF2 is made a in higher budget. They are looking for crowd-funding the post-production process only. We don’t have the exact figures but it is no less than 50 people including actors, crew members and technicians.
                      4. It’s your chance to create something. Although, not directly but helping someone realise their dreams. Your karma will help you someday when you are trying to chase your dreams. While we don’t guarantee that it will be the best movie of the year, we can assure you that it’s a very good team of awesomely talented people.
                      5. Last but not the least, Kenny has assisted industry greats and knows the mundane but minute details of the movie-making skills.

                      If my reasons were enough for convincing you, go support an indie-movie today. Particularly, Local Kung fu 2 as only 7 days are left and 2 lakhs are still needed to achieve their target. Go visit this link and contribute. If you cannot contribute financially, do contribute by sharing it with your friends.

                      https://www.wishberry.in/campaign/local-kung-fu-2/#/fried-eye-entertainment

                      P.S. – This article was scheduled to be published in cinearts.in blog but due to unavoidable reasons we are unable to give it time.

                      Bob Dylan wins 2016 Nobel prize in literature

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                        The singer and songwriter Bob Dylan was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature on Thursday for “having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition,” in the words of the Swedish Academy. With this, Bob Dylan becomes the first musician to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.

                        Since yesterday, the name of Bob Dylan was taken as a possible recipient of Nobel Prize in Literature. Of course, very few actually believed it could be true as he was a songwriter. Being a songwriter, the poetic expressions of Bob Dylan needed the support of other artists, like good singer, good music composer and good musicians for the best effect. However, the Swedish Academy has been more flexible in the last few years and playwrights and non-fiction writers are also awarded the Nobel Prize.

                        He is the first American to win since the novelist Toni Morrison, in 1993. The announcement, in Stockholm, came as something of a surprise.

                        dylan_postcardMr. Dylan was born on May 24, 1941, in Duluth, Minn., and grew up in Hibbing. He played in bands as a teenager, influenced by the folk musician Woody Guthrie, the authors of the Beat Generation and modernist poets.

                        He moved to New York in 1961 and began to perform in clubs and cafes in Greenwich Village. The following year, he signed a contract with the record producer John Hammond for his debut album, “Bob Dylan” (1962). His many other albums, which the Swedish Academy described as having “a tremendous impact on popular music,” include “Bringing It All Back Home” and “Highway 61 Revisited” (1965), “Blonde On Blonde” (1966) and “Blood on the Tracks” (1975), “Oh Mercy” (1989), “Time Out Of Mind” (1997) and “Modern Times” (2006).

                        “Dylan has recorded a large number of albums revolving around topics like the social conditions of man, religion, politics and love,” the Swedish Academy said in a biographical note accompanying the announcement. “The lyrics have continuously been published in new editions, under the title ‘Lyrics.’ As an artist, he is strikingly versatile; he has been active as painter, actor and scriptwriter.”

                        The academy added: “Since the late 1980s, Bob Dylan has toured persistently, an undertaking called the ‘Never-Ending Tour.’ Dylan has the status of an icon. His influence on contemporary music is profound, and he is the object of a steady stream of secondary literature.”

                        In the weeks before the announcement, speculation about potential winners swirled in the literary world and even in betting markets. Some familiar names were bandied about, including the American novelist Don DeLillo, the Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami, the Kenyan playwright Ngugi wa Thiong’o, and the Syrian poet known as Adonis. Very few observers, including bookmakers, had given Mr. Dylan much of a shot.

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