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Saturday, February 17, 2024

Star-Studded Extravaganza: Reliving 15 Years of Majestic Pride's Spectacular Journey"




Capturing Moments of Glitz and Glamour: A Glimpse into 15 Years of Majestic Pride, Goa!


In January, the majestic aura of Majestic Pride illuminated the Goan skies as it celebrated a remarkable milestone of 15 years. Each week, the stage shimmered with the presence of luminaries from diverse fields, infusing the atmosphere with unparalleled charm. From the enchanting Mouni Roy setting the tone with her mesmerizing presence to the dynamic performances of Malaika Arora, Neha Kakkar, and Shikhar Dhawan, every moment was a testament to the vibrancy of the occasion.





The fourth week dazzled with a star-studded lineup featuring Neil Nitin Mukesh, Badshah, Anasuya Bharadwaj, and Mangli, leaving the audience enthralled with their magnetic performances. Alongside, Gaurav Gupta and Sahil Horane brought laughter to the forefront with their rib-tickling comedy acts.


Beyond the glitz, the celebration embraced all with delightful food festivals, captivating aerial acts, and engaging activities for every age group. These glimpses capture the essence of a month-long extravaganza that will linger in memories for years to come.
















Wednesday, December 27, 2023

Safe Sets, Bold Stories: Nandini Sengupta Leads the Way in Tollywood's Intimacy Coordination Evolution"



Bollywood has long been a trendsetter, and the inclusion of intimacy coordinators exemplifies its commitment to fostering a safe and respectful working environment. This practice sets a noteworthy standard for the film industry as a whole. In a groundbreaking move for the Indian film industry, especially in Bengal, the role of an intimacy coordinator takes center stage for the first time. Bengal's Tollywood embraces change with the introduction of Nandini Sengupta, the first-ever intimacy coordinator in the industry who shares her experience with Sreeja Ghosh.





That's fascinating! Could you share your initial thoughts when you were offered the role of an intimacy coordinator for "Raja Rani Romeo"?


Nandini: Absolutely, it was an unexpected but exciting opportunity. I feel honoured that Joydip da trusted me with such a crucial role in the movie.


What is the role of an intimacy coordinator in the film industry, and how do they contribute to the overall production process?


Nandini: Certainly! An intimacy coordinator is a professional hired on film and television sets to ensure that intimate scenes are handled respectfully, safely, and professionally. Their role includes facilitating communication between actors, directors, and crew, establishing boundaries, and choreographing intimate scenes to make the actors feel comfortable and secure. Intimacy coordinators contribute to a positive and respectful work environment, help prevent misconduct, and prioritize the well-being of the performers involved in such scenes.



As an intimacy coordinator, what do you believe is the most crucial aspect of choreographing intimate scenes in a film?


Nandini : The key is to create a safe and comfortable environment for the actors. Communication and trust play a significant role in ensuring that the scenes are tastefully choreographed and respectful.


Given that this is a first for Bengal cinema, do you think this trend will continue, and why is it important?


Nandini: I believe it's a positive step forward for the industry. With increased awareness about the importance of consent and professionalism, having an intimacy coordinator can become a standard practice, ensuring a respectful and supportive work environment for everyone involved.


Could you elaborate on your research process regarding intimacy coordinators?


Nandini: At the start, there was some nervousness stepping into the intimacy coordinator role for 'Raja Rani Romeo.' Thankfully, director Joydeep Banerjee's continuous sharing of articles eased my apprehension. Taking cues from Bollywood's 'Gehraiyaan' and Hollywood's common practices, I've adapted my approach to ensure a smooth process.


Are there challenges in implementing this role, especially with senior actors, or do most actors in Bengal co-operate well with the concept?


Nandini : I've come across the role of an intimacy coordinator, which seems quite prevalent in Hollywood. Interestingly, here in Bengal, not everyone is well-informed about this position. Even when people are aware, there's often concern about how fellow actors may perceive it. Some seniors might not readily agree. However, on our sets, the actors are incredibly cooperative, fostering a positive and collaborative environment.

In my role, I had the responsibility of choosing and coordinating the outfits for the actors. Additionally, I focused on choreographing scenes in a way that aligned with the director's vision, conducting a week of research to ensure aesthetic appeal. It was crucial to communicate and help the actors understand the desired look and atmosphere for each set.


Why has there been a recent surge in the demand for intimacy directors in Bengali movies, despite previous instances of intimate scenes?


Nandini : See we strongly prefer intimate scenes that maintain a sense of elegance and avoid any vulgarity in their portrayal. In my work, I prioritize portraying intimate scenes as a delicate, mutual exchange, focusing on the aesthetics of love-making to offer viewers a profound and sensuous experience. In my opinion, while we've experienced aesthetic sensuous scenes, especially in Rituparno Ghosh's films, there's a need for someone to approach it with a distinct touch, adding a unique perspective to take charge of such moments.


Do you think there will be opportunities  to pursue a career as an intimacy coordinator in upcoming Bengali films?


Nandini : I'm optimistic that people will gradually embrace these updates, and I believe this evolution could lead to a promising career path.


Director Joydip Banerjee of 'Raja Rani Romeo' (which is soon going to release on OTT platform on 29th December) while talking about this said that while working we understand that Barati help is needed. Especially in the case of female actresses, sometimes there is some barrier. Sometimes there is a problem in communication. I have seen these problems in past work. When I came to know about intimacy coordinators in Bollywood and Hollywood, I thought why not here too. And it is much more professional.


At The Trailer launch of Raja Rani Romeo

Incidentally, Arpan Ghoshal played the lead role in this Raja Rani Romeo series.Swikriti Majumdar, Jayjit Banerjee, Ratashree Dutta, Kaushani Mukherjee, Jeet Das etc. 'Raja Rani Romeo 'is a love story as well as a story of betrayal and revenge.Here all the characters are gray.



























 

Thursday, December 7, 2023

Pandemic-stricken villagers revive bamboo art with NGO help in Madhya Pradesh



Khandwa, Madhya Pradesh: Living in the remote forest village of Gulaimal in Khandwa district of Madhya Pradesh, Prakash Barole (41) crafts decorative items from bamboo to earn a living. He acquired this relatively new skill after making up his mind to stop working as a migrant sugarcane cutter and find employment in his own village.




Prakash and his wife Sangeeta Barole (34) used to migrate to Beed district of Maharashtra for four months annually to work as farm labourers. Despite working for over 18 hours a day, they could barely make ends meet. During the COVID-19 outbreak and the subsequent lockdown of 2020, they found themselves stranded in Maharashtra with their employer denying them full wages. They were forced to return to Khandwa on foot — a journey of over 100 km — along with 10 others from their village. They had no money, not even to buy food.


“We both used to get Rs 10,000 per month, but we did not even have a day off. Most of what we earned was spent on lodging and food,” he recalls. “Just 10 days into the lockdown, our employer told us that he could not pay us anymore.”



Prakash then decided to fend for himself in his own village, even if it meant learning a new skill in his late 30s. His determination paid off as both earn around the same amount every month by making bamboo items for Gulaimal-based non-government organisation (NGO) Manmohan Kala Samiti (MKS). “We work for eight hours daily and get a good price for our work,” says Prakash, who saves a large part of his income and manages to send his children to school.


Seeds of change

The NGO was established under the National Rural Livelihood Mission (NRLM) and operates under SFURTI (Scheme of Fund for Regeneration of Traditional Industries) of the Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, which assists traditional industries such as khadi, coir, handloom and handicrafts by providing grants of up to Rs 5 crore. The NGO set up operations in the district in 2020 under the nodal agency Council for Handicrafts Development Corporations. A Bamboo Craft Centre was established, with a 90% Central grant under SFURTI and the remaining investment from MKS.


Of the 150 families employed by the NGO in Gulaimal, about 60 work directly at the bamboo centre. The rest make the products at their homes. Most of them are Korku tribals. The centre purchases the bamboo planted by village farmers at a price equal to the minimum support price. Until the establishment of the centre, around 40% (1,100 people) of the village population used to migrate for work.

Pradeep Awase (27), a resident managing the bamboo art work under MKS, used to go to Pune. “I worked at a local furniture firm. Most of what I earned was spent there and despite having worked with the employer for a long time, I was deserted when the pandemic struck. I was forced to walk back home. The employer did not even bother to arrange a transport facility for me,” he says.  

Pradeep joined MKS and honed his management skills in the last three years. He now imparts training to new artisans and organises local craft exhibitions with the help of MKS.

According to a survey conducted by the NGO, migration has reduced by half since its inception, as the locals earn a monthly salary of Rs 6,000 to 8,000 at the centre. However, not all villagers are into bamboo crafts. Due to the surge in bamboo-related work, other trades and businesses have  increased in the village, thereby providing a source of employment to many .


To increase their income further, locals have started planting native bamboo varieties such as Katanga (Bambusa Arundinacea) and Deshi (Dendrocalamus Strictus) on the margins of their fields under the guidance of MKS. This will reduce the need to get bamboo from other villages. When needed, the MKS also provides them with bamboo seedlings.


Furniture, toys, home decor, reception, office and coffee house items are produced at the centre and sent to NRLM sales centres. They are also exported. MKS director Mohan Rokade tells 101Reporters that the NGO expanded to accommodate more artisans in 2021 and that its annual income has soared to above Rs 50 lakh.


“Bamboo craft has been a part of the village culture for generations. But people were making only specific items such as mats and baskets that were useful to the village community. When the availability of bamboo reduced, people migrated in search of employment. After the NGO formation, we distributed bamboo seedlings to the locals at a minimal cost, leading to a surge in bamboo production,” Rokade says.


Earlier, farmers sold their bamboo to the forest department or in the market. Raju Vaskale, a farmer from Dhimaria, located four km from Gulaimal, says he now gets money immediately after selling bamboo unlike in the case of the forest department. "We do not have to bear transportation costs as the centre collects bamboo from our fields. Katanga bamboo is priced at Rs 80 in the market, Deshi at Rs 100 and Assamese bamboo at Rs 220. We get the same price from the centre," he says.


Prakash has also planted bamboo saplings on his two-and-a-half acre plot. He plans to sell it to MKS. Apart from Gulaimal, bamboo clusters are functional under SFURTI at Hoshangabad, Betul, Chhindwara, Balaghat, Seoni, Ratlam and Burhanpur. Last year, Harda district was included in the cluster.




Life gets better

When she migrated to Beed, Sangeeta used to leave her five children in the custody of their grandmother Lalitabai. This affected their studies as the older children would often be occupied with taking care of their younger siblings and miss out on school.


“I at least had my mother-in-law to help out, but the mothers with newborns and those with children under five years of age had to take them along when they migrated. Life as a farm labourer is difficult. Sometimes, we have to survive on just one meal. So, even the babies could not be fed since the lactating mothers barely ate,” highlights Sangeeta.


New mothers who were forced to quit work due to these challenges are now joining the NGO as it has a secure campus for children with proper facilities and caretakers. The centre is spread over five acres of land, where a factory has been built on an acre.


“Since new and expectant mothers can stay in the village and make bamboo crafts, they have also registered at local anganwadis, thus bringing them under the government's nutritional programmes. They get fortified milk powder and nutrition-rich food from anganwadis,” she adds.  

Young women who used to be either married off right after school or were forced to join their parents as farm labourers are now enrolling in colleges to find well-paying jobs. “Working on the field with my parents was tiresome. We did not even have enough to fulfil our basic needs, so college was a distant dream. But now I work with the NGO, while pursuing my post graduation in commerce from an open university,” says Usha Barole.

Madhuri Awase and Aarti Barme earn Rs 7,000 each and are able to keep some money aside for their children’s education. Even specially-abled people have got a chance to earn through the NGO.

The products such as table lamps, clocks and showpieces produced by the company were showcased in the Parliament House, New Delhi, and exhibited at the Dubai Expo alongside products from 190 countries last year. Artisans add that they were not skilled at anything and were looked down upon, but they enjoy a newfound respect in their communities and feel proud of the work they do when their handcrafted products are admired at both local markets and international exhibitions.


"Once awareness about the sustainability of bamboo products versus plastic pollution increases, and the new electricity grid comes into operation, I think we will be able to expand operations and hire more people," says Rokade.


(Mohammad Asif Siddiqui is a Madhya Pradesh-based freelance journalist and a member of 101Reporters, a pan-India network of grassroots reporters.)


Article Source : 101Reporters



Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Narrative Magic Unleashed: Sen Sharma's 'Chase' Dominates Discussions at Kolkata Film Fest

 


Kolkata, a city steeped in history and culture, has found its essence artfully woven into the narratives of filmmaker Debasish Sen Sharma. His latest creation, "Chase," showcased at an International Short Film Festival in the heart of the city, has emerged as a captivating puzzle, enthralling audiences and sparking discussions.


The festival, spanning three days, provided a platform for both local and foreign filmmakers to showcase their creations. Among the diverse array of films, "Chase" stood out, with its exceptional storytelling leaving viewers glued to their seats. 


As the Director said "I unveil the essence of Kolkata—the tale of a city where magic still exists. Kolkata, where people continue to extend a helping hand, creating a narrative of unity and kindness." Sen Sharma's narrative prowess, skillfully intertwining tales of Kolkata and its inhabitants, contributed to a rich tapestry of both the city and its people.


Mir Asraf Ali and Sayan Ghosh deliver impeccable performances in the film, elevating it to new heights with their outstanding acting skills. Their on-screen chemistry and dedication contribute significantly to the overall success of the movie.


He added "We made a movie during the tough times of the coronavirus. It was hard to manage time and deal with restrictions. The film was shot in the USA and Kolkata. I was in charge of shooting in the USA part as well"





Sen Sharma, reflecting on the success of the festival, emphasized the challenges faced in the realm of short films—struggles for funding and a constant uphill battle. Despite these obstacles, the event witnessed an impressive turnout, attracting not only film enthusiasts but also filmmakers, prominent personalities, and students. It transformed into a vibrant hub for those passionate about the art of short filmmaking.


In a poignant gesture, the festival paid tribute to the legendary filmmaker Mrinal Sen, underscoring the importance of recognising and honouring the pioneers in the field. Sen Sharma, optimistic about the future, expressed a collective sentiment: the need for collaboration to propel the world of short films forward.


The overall resonance of the festival underscore the potential and significance of short films. Sen Sharma's call to action, urging collaboration and an expansion of the scope for short films, resonates as a rallying cry for a community dedicated to navigating the intricate landscape of storytelling in its most concise form.

Wednesday, November 8, 2023

Tarun Tahiliani's TASVA: Redefining Indian Men's Fashion in Patna


Aditya Birla Fashion and Retail Ltd, in partnership with designer Tarun Tahiliani, has introduced Tasva, a men's Indian wear brand, in Patna. The store, inaugurated by Harshvardhan Rane and Tarun Tahiliani, offers a diverse collection of sophisticated ethnic and wedding wear. The 7500 sq. ft. store features Tarun Tahiliani's signature style, blending traditional and contemporary design with comfortable fabrics like silk blends and cotton-viscose. The range includes kurta sets, sherwanis, Indo-western ensembles, and various accessories, making it a one-stop destination for the modern Indian man's festive and wedding attire needs.



Commenting on the launch of the Patna store, Tarun Tahiliani, Chief Design Officer, TASVA, expressed, “It’s an honour to bring our vision to life with the grand opening of our store in Patna's Boring Road. Patna is a city steeped in tradition, and yet has gracefully kept pace with modernity. The city's rich cultural tapestry and its growing affinity for modern fashion are a dynamic blend that resonates with our design philosophy. I'm thrilled to offer the city a taste of our timeless elegance. Tasva is here to redefine groom's fashion and be a part of Patna's evolving story.”



Tarun Tahiliani's store is a captivating embodiment of his 'Modern Indian' design philosophy, seamlessly blending tradition with contemporary flair. The exquisite design and decor cater to the evolved tastes of Indian consumers, who now yearn for depth and expression in their fashion choices. Luxurious materials like wood and brass, alongside designs drawing inspiration from India's cultural legacy, infuse the space with a distinct ambiance. It becomes a gateway to a reimagined realm of Indian apparel, perfectly harmonizing with TASVA's brand ethos. With every element carefully curated, the store is a testament to the fusion of heritage and innovation in the world of fashion.




Harshvardhan expressed his thoughts saying, "This city holds a special place in my heart. Patna is known for its discerning audience and to have earned a place in hearts of Patna’s people is truly an honour. Today it’s a privilege to witness the fusion of traditional elegance and contemporary style right here in Patna. Tasva's commitment to redefining the groom's fashion experience is commendable, and I'm excited to celebrate this significant milestone with them.”




Saturday, November 4, 2023

From emulsified fuel to protein bars, her innovations ride high on sustainability


Dr Jyotsna Waghmare’s fuel promises to reduce carbon dioxide and particulate matter emissions from vehicles, whereas the protein bars from oil cakes and artificial production of Medium-Chain Triglycerides help boost nutrition levels

By Shailaja Tiwale





No one in our family knew anything about science, and Jyotsna had no access to the internet or other sources of information. She did everything on her own,” says Anil Waghmare, the elder brother of Dr Jyotsna Waghmare, while recalling her student days at the Institute of Chemical Technology (ICT), Mumbai. Their father was a mill worker and an active member of the Ambedkar movement, and their financial condition was precarious.


Now an associate professor in the Department of Oils, Oleochemicals and Surfactants Technology at the ICT, Jyotsna (48) has been a spirited innovator. She developed an emulsified fuel in 2017, which significantly reduced carbon dioxide and particulate matter emissions. Five to 10% water is added in diesel to prepare the fuel using a high-energy method.


“We have developed an emulsion with stability of one year and a transparent appearance,” Jyotsna says. Both these qualities were obtained using blends of non-ionic surfactants and co-surfactants. Techniques and instruments such as high static rotor, high-pressure homogeniser and ultrasonicator were used to prepare micro and nanoemulsions. It can be used in any vehicle with a diesel engine.


“We started working on this project in 2015 and got a patent in 2018,” says  Jyotsna. Successful trials were conducted on two-wheelers and four-wheelers, and now she plans to approach the industry for large-scale manufacturing of the fuel.


The work on emulsion fuels was carried forward to overcome biodiesel’s drawbacks. Extensive engine design modification was not needed as in the case of biodiesel. At the same time, a considerable reduction in emissions was observed. Though this process requires investments, it will cost nearly 10 % less than diesel.


In 2021, Dr Jyotsna received a grant from the Department of Science and Technology under the Promotion of University Research and Scientific Excellence (PURSE) scheme for artificially producing Medium-Chain Triglycerides (MCT). “It is a nutrient that provides immediate energy and is found in mother’s milk and natural products such as coconut and palm oil,” she says.


“We synthesised it to develop products that can also benefit HIV/AIDS patients with compromised digestive systems. MCT is predominantly imported from China, so increasing production in India will minimise reliance on other countries,” she explains. The new product developed is in the process of research publishing and presentation. The next step will be to approach the market. “This artificial MCT will definitely cost 30 % less than the imported products,” she details.


The reuse of oil cakes is yet another sustainable innovation by Jyotsna and her team. The oil cakes discarded after extracting oil are high in nutrients. So, Jyotsna developed a high-protein nutrition bar from it in 2019. “As the population increases, we will need artificial protein to fulfill the requirement. To solve this problem, our team developed a protein-rich bar from oil cakes,” she says.


It can be used as food supplements for the malnourished. She is now conducting research on the required storage conditions, packaging and distribution periods for the protein bar. After completing the research presentation process, it will soon be available in the market. “The nutrition bars available in the market are mainly made from food products such as peanuts and cashews, so they are costlier. However, our product should cost less as it is made from an easily available residue,” Jyotsna says.


Her indefatigable drive for sustainable practices pushed her into seeking new solutions for reducing pollution. There are many temples in Mumbai where tonnes of flowers are offered to the deities in a single day.


She successfully repurposed these flowers, usually discarded in waterbodies, to extract aromatic oils in 2019. “Sustainable fragrance oil is expensive and in high demand. Mogra (jasmine) oil costs Rs 10 lakh per litre. These discarded flowers can be used to make large volumes of aromatic oils used in cosmetics and perfumes among others. This will also reduce water pollution,” Jyotsna shares.


Jyotsna also developed a method to extract Lutein, a part of the Carotenoid family of antioxidants, from a natural source — used marigold flowers. Currently, Lutein synthesised from chemicals is primarily used in pharma products for eye-related treatment. “We are in the process of filing the patent and commercialising this product,” says Dr Jyotsna.


Converting adversity into triumph


Jyotsna’s entry into ICT was serendipitous. After graduating in 1995, she came across an advertisement for the chemistry courses at Veermata Jijabai Technological Institute (VJTI), Matunga. However, she mistakenly went to the ICT premises, adjacent to VJTI. There, she saw a pamphlet about the courses at ICT and applied by getting money from friends. “A few days later, I had been accepted for the BSc course in technology [chemistry], synonymous with today’s BTech,” Jyotsna recounts.


Her assertive attitude bruised the ego of one of her teachers, who chastised her for not showing “proper manners” when dealing with seniors. He then failed her in one of her subjects in the second year. Jyotsna applied for revaluation and received a first-class grade. “I learned that with determination, I could convert adversity into triumph,” Jyotsna shares. 


During the placement interviews after the course, Jyotsna discovered that male candidates were preferred for industry-level positions in the chemical sector, mostly due to the “unsafe environment”. So, in 1998, Jyotsna accepted a position in the Research and Development Department at Godrej Foods in Mumbai. In 2000, she returned to her alma mater and enrolled for MTech. “I was shocked to find out that I was the only girl in seven branches of MTech at ICT,” Jyotsna recalls. However, the situation is changing now as ICT has 30% reservations for women.


“Girls tackle challenges in different and better ways than boys. I encourage them to take on leadership roles as it helps in the growth of society. Jyotsna was a bright student. She has good science intuition,” points out Professor Dr DN Bhowmik, former department head and Jyotsna’s mentor.


Testing times


Jyotsna gradually developed an interest in research. After completing her MTech, she joined ICT as a lecturer and enrolled for a PhD at the same institution in 2003. During her PhD, in 2006, Jyotsna was selected for a visiting scientist scholarship at the University of Arkansas.




After three years of hard work, her PhD was nearing completion. Around the same time, her marriage was fixed. As her future spouse was working in the US, she informed her guide about her plans to move there after completing her PhD. But in 2008, her guide shockingly denied her approval for thesis submission, alleging that Jyotsna had not completed any PhD work. “When I showed her the work I had done in the past three years, she refused to guide me further,” she says.


Though she considered abandoning PhD, her husband encouraged her to lodge a complaint. The institute then appointed a committee, which found that Jyotsna had completed three times the amount of work allotted by her guide, so her PhD completion process could not be stalled.


In 2010, Dr Jyotsna was selected as a postdoctoral fellow at Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis. However, Jyotsna and her husband decided to return to India. She joined ICT as a professor in 2011 and has continued her research since then. She has published over 80 research papers in journals and three book chapters.



This piece was originally published by  Rukhmabai Initiatives, an endeavour by 101Reporters to make Indian STEM more inclusive.  

Regards,


photo       

101Reporters Desk




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