North East »» As Tripura goes to polls, spotlight on ’poorest CM’•••’Unfair on Sonia’s part to compare DAN’s rule•••Demand to file PIL•••State »» KSYC demands removal of Forest EM•••ABMSU stages demonstration demanding complete rehabilitation•••ABSU slams State government for Rabha Hasong carnage•••National »» Love improves health, longevity, say experts•••Will impound Yasin Malik’s passport if requested, says MEA•••Probe 2G prosecutor’s ’collusion’ with accused, says BJP•••International »» North Korea conducts third n–test, angers US•••US commando shot Osama thrice•••’Bullied kids may consider suicide’•••    
  National News
 Love improves health, longevity, say experts

New Delhi, Feb 12: With Valentine’s Day around the corner, doctors in the national capital say love is not just good for one’s social life but also has a positive effect on a person’s health.

According to doctors, love can keep you healthy mentally, physically, socially and spiritually.

“Spending time with those you love has an extremely positive effect on health and can cut the risk of an early death to half,” says Sunil Mittal, psychiatrist and director of Cosmos Institute of Mental Health and Behavioral Sciences.

“Research shows that people in loving relationships have a lower death rate than single people, even people who have unhealthy lifestyles tend to live longer than those who lack social and community support. The study attributes a person’s longer lifespan to high self–esteem due to his or her partner’s positive feedback, which lowers the chances of depression,” he said.

According to Mittal, studies also showed that people will often adopt safer behaviours when they are coupled up.

“For example, a person is less likely to risk his or her life with smoking, binge drinking, reckless driving or dangerous eating habits if a loved one is depending on him or her,” he said.

Sameer Kalani, psychiatrist and psychotherapist and coordinator of child and adolescent mental health services, Cosmos Hospitals, said love helps to “vaccinate” one against anxiety.

“Loving and being loved helps to vaccinate you against anxiety. When you are in love the brain produces a chemical called dopamine, a feel–good stimulant that is responsible for feelings of bliss, optimism and patience,” Kalani said. “Infatuated people also produce a surplus of a chemical called oxytocin, the bonding hormone. This endorphin spreads a warm, internal flutter throughout the body when it is released during touch or physical intimacy,” he added.

Mittal added that people in healthy relationships tend to be more confident in all areas of their life. It has been proven that getting married and staying married reduces depression in both men and women. (IANS)


 Will impound Yasin Malik’s passport if requested, says MEA

New Delhi, Feb 12: Amid concerns over Kashmiri separatist leader Yasin Malik sharing the dais with 26/11 mastermind Hafiz Saeed in Pakistan and demands for revoking his passport, the external affairs ministry on Tuesday said if it receives a request for impounding Malik’s passport it would “act on it”.

The external affairs ministry said: “If we receive a request to impound his (Malik) passport, we will act on it.”

Ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said the passport was given to Malik, chief of the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF), after getting a “no objection” from other Indian ministries and agencies.

“When violation (of provisions of passport) is indicated... when it is brought to our notice, we will act,” he said, adding that the government would act with Malik “as fit of a citizen of India”.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has demanded that Malik’s passport be revoked for sharing the dais with Lashkar–e–Taiba founder Hafiz Saeed at a rally held to protest the execution of parliament attack convict Afzal Guru in Islamabad, Pakistan, on Sunday.

Akbaruddin said India has raised with Pakistan the issue of bringing to justice Saeed, “the evil mastermind of the Mumbai attacks”.

“Hafiz Saeed continues to pour vitriol on India...he is a fit case to bring to justice and we will do so,” he added.

Earlier, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid said the matter of Malik pertains to the home ministry and “I’m sure they will take appropriate steps. When they do, they will inform us”.

BJP president Rajnath Singh said the government should “seriously” take cognizance of Malik sharing the public dais with Saeed.

“The government should seriously take cognizance of this. It’s not a small issue. I expect this much from the government,” he told reporters here.

BJP leader M Venkaiah Naidu also criticized the government, saying Malik’s passport should be revoked immediately.

BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar said it was the home ministry’s mistake to allow Malik to go to Pakistan and the party would raise the issue on all forums.

Malik has said that Saeed was on the stage for 10 minutes and they did not exchange any words. (IANS)


 Probe 2G prosecutor’s ’collusion’ with accused, says BJP

New Delhi, Feb 12: The BJP on Tuesday attacked the UPA government over the revelations that the chief prosecutor of tne CBI in the 2G spectrum case had allegedly discussed prosecution strategy with one of the accused. The party demanded a probe.

The CBI on Monday removed AK Singh, its chief prosecutor in the 2G spectrum case, after he was allegedly found to have discussed the prosecution strategy with one of the accused. The CBI possesses an audio recording with the suspected voices of Singh and one of the accused.

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) spokesperson Prakash Javadekar said that the revelations were “absolutely atrocious” and accused the Congress–led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government of misusing the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

“It is yet another proof of how CBI was abused, misused by the Congress–led government,” Javadekar said. He said the government uses prosecution wing “when it cannot manipulate investigation”.

The 2G case is currently under trial before a special CBI court here.

He said the BJP had demanded that the appointment of advocate on panel of the CBI’s prosecution wing should be cleared by Lokpal but the government “wants to retain power to manipulate”.

“Why is the Congress so silent now? The government should tell what it was doing. There should be an investigation,” Javadekar said.

The investigating agency decided to remove Singh after it found an audio recording allegedly carrying a conversation between Singh and one of the accused in the case.

The agency has also registered a preliminary inquiry.

The main accused, former union minister A Raja, Unitech managing director (MD) Sanjay Chandra and 12 others, including DMK leader Kanimozhi, have been examined by the prosecution. Cross–examination of the accused and witnesses is now on. (IANS)


 Nalanda University to get special funds in budget: Khurshid

New Delhi, Feb 12: A new and different set of security and economic challenges facing India in the wake of tumultuous events like the “Arab Spring” in West Asia and the intra–Islamic divide in the region will be under the lens at an international conference beginning here on Wednesday.

Interestingly, all this is taking place at a time when Asia is in the process of displacing the West as the fulcrum of the global economy, and India and China are its leading locomotives. The net result is that stronger strategic synergies in the fields of energy, economic and people–to–people relations among the South and EAst Asian countries and the Arab/Gulf nations are making the latter an integral part of the unfolding Asian growth story.

All these broad trends and developments are creating new opportunities and challenges for India, its foreign policy. How should India respond? How should the country maintain a diverse alliance that is beneficial to its energy security and strategic interests as West Asia constitutes an integral part of its “extended neighbourhood”.

India imports over half its oil from Arab countries and Saudi oil dominates those flows. Also, Iran’s nuclear ambition has pushed Saudi Arabia and Pakistan closer.

To understand and analyse these developments and their possible impact on bilateral relations, the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA) is organizing an international conference –– “Emerging Trends in West Asia: Regional and Global Implications”–– in the capital from February 13–15.

The conclave is part of the think tank’s 15th annual Asian Security Conference (ASC) and will deliberate on the major economic, socio–political and strategic trends which are unfolding in the West Asian region in general, and its Gulf region in particular, in the context of their security and economic implications both for the region and for Asian countries.

Defence minister AK Antony will open the conference on Wednesday. National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon will also address the meet on Friday. (IANS)


 Cop shot dead in Kolkata students’ clash

Kolkata, Feb 12: A police sub–inspector was shot dead and another man injured in firing by miscreants during a clash between student activists of the Trinamool Congress and the Congress at a college here on Tuesday, police said. Two accused were arrested. Tapas Chowdhury, a sub–inspector attached to the city police’s Special Branch, was shot at from close range while trying to control the clashing students in Harimohan Ghose College in the Garden Reach area of west Kolkata, police said. The violence erupted over the issue of picking up nomination forms for the students’ union election, police said. Suddenly, crude bombs were hurled and there was also gun fire, VS Nesakumar, deputy commissioner of police, port division, told reporters. “Chowdhury was hit by a bullet while trying to control the situation. He died in a hospital,” he said. A man, who was also injured in the firing, was in hospital, he said. Asked about the groups which perpetrated the violence, Nesakumar said the clash took place between Trinamool Congress Chhatra Parishad, the student wing of the ruling Trinamool Congress) and Chhatra Parishad, the student wing of the Congress, who are rivals in the college election. West Bengal Urban Development Minister Firhad Hakim, who rushed to the spot, claimed that the Congress and the Communist Party of India–Marxist (CPI–M) fomented the trouble. Two persons were arrested, said Hakim. Terming the allegation as baseless, state Congress chief Pradip Bhattacharya said the incident showed how law and order had deteriorated in the State and demanded that the central government intervene. CPI–M central committee member Md. Selim said the area had been a political flashpoint over the last few days. He alleged that some Trinamool Congress activists were injured while making bombs on Monday. Magsaysay award–winning writer Mahasweta Devi expressed sadness over the incident and said it should be ensured that there was no political tension in education. (IANS)


 India takes up rape incident with Maldives

New Delhi, Feb 12: India has taken up “quite strongly” with Maldives the rape of an Indian woman and has been assured of action by its government, an official said on Tuesday. A 24–year–old Indian teacher was raped on an atoll in Maldives on Sunday.  “The Indian mission in Male is in touch with the victim... (Maldives’) Ministry of Gender is overseeing the case,” external affairs ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said on Tuesday. The young woman, a teacher in a private computer school, was “badly injured” and has been given blood transfusion, he said. The Indian high commission has sent two officials to the Dhangethi atoll, where the incident took place. “We will provide whatever support we can... We have taken it up quite strongly with Maldives, and have been assured of action,” he added. According to Haveeru daily, a group of people had broken into the rented home of the woman and raped her late on Sunday. “The woman had suffered psychological trauma and has been transferred to the Atoll hospital to be treated for physical injuries sustained during the ordeal,” it said quoting an official. Police are yet to make any arrest in the case. (IANS)


 ED allowed to question Koda on money laundering

Ranchi, Feb 12: A Ranchi court on Tuesday allowed the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to question jailed former Jharkhand chief minister Madhu Koda in a money laundering case allegedly involving businessman Anil Bastawade, a lawyer said. “The ED sought permission from court to question Koda, Vinod Sinha and Vijay Joshi which was granted. They will be queried in inside jail,” ED counsel SR Das told reporters.on  The ED sought the permission after interrogating Koda’s close aide Bastawade, arrested on January 21 on an Interpol notice from Jakarta. According to ED sources, Bastawade revealed many things about money laundering scam.  The multi million money laundering scam involving Madhu Koda surfaced in 2009. Koda is in jail for more than three years in different graft cases including money laundering. Koda’s another associate Sanjay Chaudhary is absconding and reportedly living in Dubai. (IANS)


 Action will be taken for Allahabad stampede’

Allahabad, Feb 12: Action will be taken against officials if found guilty of lapses for the February 10 stampede due to the Kumbh Mela rush at the Allahabad railway station here, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav said on Tuesday.

Yadav asked political parties not to play politics on the issue and wait for the probe report. A total fo 36 people were killed and scores were injured in the stampede on Sunday night.

“I would not like to jump the gun as of now and would wait for the inquiry report to come to me,” he said and added that strict action would follow if some officials were found guilty.

Talking to reporters after visiting those injured at the SRN Hospital, Yadav said he would not like to blame anyone for now and would wait for the probe committee report.

“It is a very sad moment for all those involved in the arrangements for Kumbh and we are trying our best to ensure that the remaining days of Kumbh Mela pass off peacefully, and the safety and security of the people coming here is guaranteed by the state government,” Yadav said.

Till the fateful Sunday, he pointed out, the Kumbh Mela was going on well and visitors, media and foreign tourists were appreciating the arrangements done by the state administration.

“Roads, power, food distribution, security, transport – everything was looked after well...Such an incident should not have happened,” he said. He recalled that he himself had visited the city twice to oversee the arrangements for the Kumbh, the biggest religious congregation on earth.

Yadav also appreciated the work done by the medical staff and doctors and announced that all treatment to the injured would be free of cost.

Yadav noted that the injured from Maharashtra, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal, among others, have appreciated the treatment and care given by the doctors in the State.

“I have personally met every injured and I am satisfied that they had kind words to say about the treatment administered to them,” the chief minister added.

He handed over Rs 5,000 in cash and cheques of Rs 1 lakh to those injured in the stampede. Rs.1 lakh more would be given to the injured later, officials said.

Uttar Pradesh has already enhanced to Rs 7 lakh the ex–gratia payment announced for the families of the dead.

Yadav earlier visited the railway station for an on–the–spot inspection of the stampede site and heard out the railway and district officials on the chain of events that led to the incident. stampede.

He urged all political parties not to “play politics” on the tragedy.

Governor BL Joshi earlier paid a visit to the city and met those injured in the stampede. Meanwhile, 16 of the 36 dead remain unidentified. “We are trying our best to get them identified through photographs,” said a local official. District officials and the police are now busy making arrangements for the February 15 bathing on Basant Panchami. (IANS)


 Akbar Owaisi’s voice recorded in hate speech case

Hyderabad, Feb 12: Forensic experts on Tuesday recorded the voice of MIM leader Akbaruddin Owaisi in another case of hate speech. The Majlis–e–Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) legislator was presented before a court in Nizamabad town, where the experts recorded his voice as he has reportedly claimed during the interrogation that the voice in the video footage of his speech was not his. The court also extended his judicial custody till February 26. The hearing on his bail petition was also adjourned to February 14. Owaisi was brought to the court amid tight security.  A curfew–like situation prevailed around the court complex with police forcing the closure of shops, eye–witnesses said. The young leader was brought from a jail in Adilabad district, where he is lodged since his arrest last month in case of hate speech booked against him in Nirmal town of the same district. Akbar Owaisi, the younger brother of MIM chief and Lok Sabha member Asaduddin Owaisi, had made the controversial speeches at Nirmal on December 8 and at Nizamabad on December 22 last year. The MIM legislator’s voice was recorded in a court in Nirmal town on February 5. The court same day extended his judicial custody till February 19. (IANS)


 North Korea nuclear test matter of deep concern: India

New Delhi, Feb 12: India on Tuesday said the nuclear test conducted by North Korea was a “matter of deep concern” and called upon Pyongyang to “refrain” from actions that would adversely affect peace and security in the region. “It is a matter of deep concern” that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea carried out the nuclear test in violation of UN Security Council resolutions, Indian external affairs ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin told reporters. “We call upon DPRK to refrain from such actions that can have an adverse effect on the peace and stability of the region,” he said. North Korea on Tuesday said it had conducted a “successful” third underground nuclear test in the North Hamgyeong province. The state–run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said a “miniaturized” nuclear device had been detonated successfully at the test site. The UN and North Korea’s neighbours have condemned the nuclear test. UN Secretary–General Ban Ki–moon has condemned the test as “a clear and grave violation of the relevant Security Council resolutions”. (IANS)


 Achuthanandan hints he won’t surrender to CPI–M

Thiruvananthapuram, Feb 12: Former Kerala chief minister VS Achuthanandan, facing the heat from his CPI–M, indicated on Tuesday that he was not ready to go down without a fight. At a meeting here on Monday of the Communist Party of India–Marxist’s State committee, 43 of 53 members sought “tough action” against him for his frequent outbursts against state party secretary P Vijayan.  According to some reports, critics of the 89–year–old Achuthanandan wanted him axed as the leader of the opposition. On Tuesday, when he reached the media room in the Kerala assembly, he told the media not to ask questions about the party.  When asked if he is going to be removed as leader of the opposition, Achuthanandan, who by then had got up, stopped and shot back: “Don’t worry, I certainly have an answer to this.” He went on: “If needed, I can answer this question now itself.” But other leaders of the Left Democratic Front who were with him requested the veteran not to speak on the subject. He agreed, but said: “I can tell you tomorrow.”  (IANS)


 Chavan’s chopper develops technical snag

Mumbai, Feb 12: Tense moments were witnessed here on Tuesday morning when a helicopter carrying Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan suddenly developed a technical snag and was forced to land soon after take–off, an official said. Chavan was scheduled to go on a tour of the drought–hit Marathwada region on Tuesday by the chopper belonging to the State government. “Shortly after it took off, there was a signal warning of some technical snag after which the pilot aborted the flight. The chopper was landed at the Raj Bhavan helipad,” an official from the Chief Minister’s Office, requesting anonymity, said. All the occupants in the chopper, including Chavan, are safe. But the cause of the snag is not yet clear, he said. Arrangements will be made for another chopper to fly Chavan out on his tour later in the day, the official added. (IANS)


 SC notice to centre on Zee News plea

New Delhi, Feb 12: The Supreme Court on Tuesday issued notice to the Central Government on a petition by Zee News TV channel alleging an “unholy conspiracy” and seeking the quashing of three FIRs lodged against it by Delhi Police. The apex court bench of Chief Justice Altamas Kabir, Justice Anil R Dave and Justice Vikramajit Sen issued notice as senior counsel Harish Salve, appearing for the channel, told the court that three FIRs were filed against the news channel, on its report on coal blocks allocation, at the instance of industrialist and Congress Lok Sabha member Naveen Jindal. Salve told the court that “it is obvious that Naveen Jindal and Delhi Police are acting in an unholy conspiracy in the matter”. The channel also questioned some clauses of the policy guidelines providing for content code of the broadcasts and its adherence for uninterrupted uplinking and downlinking facilities of the television channels. The policy guidelines regulating the content of the TV broadcasts impinged upon the freedom of speech, Salve said. Describing the filing of the three FIRs as a “brazen attempt by somebody pushing the police to act in a particular way”, Salve urged the court to either quash them or transfer their investigation to some other agency. Salve told the court that if there was anything defamatory in the channel reports then there were legal remedies but the government could not control the content of the broadcasts. The guidelines under challenge clearly “abrogate the right to free speech and fell outside the ambit of permissible limits on the right to free speech under Article 19(2) of the constitution”, Salve said. The constitutional rights could only be restricted by the parliamentary statute and not by the government orders, the court was told. (IANS)


 ’Enact law against gender–based violence’

New Delhi, Feb 12: Legislators in India should substantially amend or replace the new law on violence against women in the coming parliament session, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch said on Tuesday.

On February 3, President Pranab Mukherjee signed the Criminal Law (Amendment) Ordinance 2013, amending criminal laws, following protests from rights and women’s groups across the country.

Legislation addressing sexual violence should reflect international human rights law and standards, and incorporate key recommendations of the recently appointed Verma Committee, the rights groups said.

“The new ordinance at long last reforms India’s colonial–era laws on sexual violence, but fails to provide crucial human rights protections and redress for victims,” said Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director at Human Rights Watch.  “Indian MPs should insist on a law that deals with these critical issues,” she added.

Criminal law reform to address sexual violence has been the subject of national debate in India since the gang–rape and death of a 23–year–old woman in New Delhi in December.

The Indian government set up a three–member committee, headed by former Supreme Court chief justice JS Verma, to consider reforms to strengthen laws against sexual violence.

“The new ordinance ignores the committee’s key recommendations, especially on police accountability and framing sexual violence as a violation of women’s rights to bodily integrity,” Amnesty and Human Rights Watch said.

“There should be a robust discussion in parliament before any law is enacted, and amendments should not ignore key recommendations of the Verma Committee or the views of women’s rights groups in the country,” said G Ananthapadmanabhan, chief executive of Amnesty International India.

The ordinance falls short of international human rights standards in several ways, the groups said.

It fails to criminalize the full range of sexual violence with appropriate punishments in accordance with international human rights law.

It includes vague and discriminatory provisions, and introduces capital punishment in some cases of sexual assault.

The ordinance also retains effective legal immunity for members of state security forces accused of sexual violence, harms rather than helps teenagers by increasing the age of consent to sex, and defines “trafficking” in a way that might conflate it with adult consensual sex work. (IANS)


 V–Day weekend set for debutant directors’ films – Murder 3, Jayantabhai?

New Delhi, Feb 12: The Valentine’s Day weekend will see two directors Vishesh Bhatt and Vinnil Markan making their debut at the box office with emotional thriller Murder 3 and romantic comedy Jayantabhai Ki Luv Story (JKLS), which will see Vivek Oberoi in his popular bhaigiri avatar, respectively.

Both the films are releasing on Friday, a day after Valentine’s Day, and both have romance as the underline theme.

Murder 3, coming from the stable of Vishesh Films, co–owned by Mahesh and Mukesh Bhatt, is part of the production house’s successful Murder franchise. It also marks Vishesh, son of Mahesh Bhatt, entry into filmdom as a first–time director.

On the other hand, Jayantabhai Ki Luv Story is Tips Industries offering and it is also helmed by debutant Vinnil Markan. Vishesh Films has reportedly spent Rs 9 crore on Murder 3 that is hitting more than 1,400 screens worldwide, while JKLS, said to be a Rs 6 crore movie, will be unveiled on about 1,000 screens globally.

Randeep Hooda, known for his intense roles, has teamed up with Aditi Rao Hydari and Pakistani actress Sara Loren in Murder 3, which revolves around hotshot fashion and wildlife photographer Vikram (Randeep), who is dealing with the mysterious disappearance of his former girlfriend Roshni (Aditi).

The story takes an interesting turn when Vikram gets into a relationship with Nisha (Sara), a waitress from a lounge. She moves in with him in his palatial house outside the city. The house holds many secrets, which Nisha is soon to unearth.

The film has intimate scenes, however, Mahesh Bhatt, an acclaimed director himself, claims that they are making a new beginning with Murder 3. “It will have the emotional depth of films like Arth and Saaransh had. It will have the connection to the human heart of today,” he added.

The makers have openly admitted that Murder 3 is inspired by Spanish film La Cara Oculta. Interestingly, the film, which has bold and intimate scenes shot on Randeep and Aditi, has become the first in the franchise to get an U/A certification by the censor board.

Another tale hitting the big screen is Jayantabhai Ki... a romantic–comedy focusing on a gangster life.

Vivek, who wowed as an underworld gangster in Company and Shootout at Lokhandwala, has donned the same avatar for the film. The narrative shows how people fall in love unknowingly with someone they least expect to. (IANS)


 Unique V–Day gifts: Cupcakes evoking amorous feelings, Taj–shaped chocolate

Chennai, Feb 12: A cupcake that can induce amorous feelings, chocolates in the shape of lips and the Taj Mahal, and a heart–shaped sandwich are what bakers and chocolatiers are lining up for their customers for Valentine’s Day on February 14. “Couples who want to spend their time in private on the Valentine’s Day can have customised cupcakes with ingredients that make a simple cup cake into a love food,” Kavita Chesetty, owner and baker, Cupcakes Amore, said. “In addition to our regular classic eight flavours, we will have other varieties to go with the theme of love. Strawberries, rich chocolate and champagne are regarded as love foods and loved by one all,” she added. The outlet in the upmarket Adyar area will offer different varieties of cupcakes like Strawberry Lava Fudge (chocolate cupcake with rich chocolate centre and real strawberry frosting), Strawberry Champagne (vanilla cupcake with real strawberries and champagne infused frosting) and Real Red Velvet (red velvet with red fondant hearts).

There are also Chocolate Knockout (chocolate cupcake with chocolate centre and chocolate glaze with gold–dusted heart) and Valentine chocolate (chocolate cupcake with pretty pink frosting and three pastel fondant hearts) on offer. “We will customise the cupcakes with the special messages that a customer would like to add. Our cupcakes are priced between Rs 80 to Rs 120,” Chesetty said. Chocolate retail outlet Le Chocolatier offers the unique Kiss Chocolates – a box of nine specially crafted lip–shaped white and milk chocolates with delectable ganache fillings of choco–orange, coconut and butterscotch. The other unique offering is the special white chocolate, ‘Taj Mahal’, costing Rs 599. On the other hand, The French Loaf, a bakery and pastry chain part of Oriental Cuisines Pvt Ltd, offers heart–shaped richly flavoured ‘Valentine’s Strawberry’ and ‘Valentine’s Chocolate’ cakes at Rs 300. (IANS)


 ’I’d love to play a villain’

Mumbai, Feb 12: He has done action, comedy and thriller and now actor–producer Akshay Kumar is interested in exploring roles with shades of grey, something that he has done in the past. “I will keep on doing scripts that I like. When I did Khakee, it was earlier given to Paresh Rawal. When Rajkumar Santoshi approached me, I really liked the role. I really liked the character. So if I like the role, I would like to do it. I admire villain roles. I would love to play a villain,” Akshay told reporters here on Tuesday. He was celebrating the success of his recent release Special 26, which sees him as a conman. When asked whether negative roles would affect his image, he said: “It’s just a film and I have played villain three times earlier.” The actor had played a negative role in Ajnabee and even got nominated for Filmfare in the negative role. The 45–year–old is one of the blockbuster stars who is churning out big hits like Rowdy Rathore and Housefull 2. Another thing on his wish list is regional cinema. “Regional films are doing well and I am producing a Marathi and a Punjabi film as well. If I get some good subject, then I will work in it as well,” said Akshay who produces films under Hari Om Productions as well as Grazing Goat Productions, which he co–owns with Ashvini Yardi. (IANS)


 Salman Khan to host Guild Awards 2013

Mumbai, Feb 12: Superstar Salman Khan will host the 8th edition of Renault Star Guild Awards in perhaps his first stint at hosting an award ceremony. The 47–year–old will take the stage on February 16 at the Yash Raj Studios to host the event, which commemorates extraordinary achievements in cinema and television. Some of the famous names from showbiz are expected to attend the event. It is a joint initiative by the Film and Television Producers Guild and the Wizcraft International Entertainment. It will be aired on Star Plus. (IANS)


 Sonu Nigam sings for first–ever music album for a book

Mumbai, Feb 12: Singer Sonu Nigam has launched Vayuputras, a music album for the forthcoming book Oath of the Vayuputras, a part of the Shiva trilogy by author Amish Tripathi. Nigam is glad to be a part of the first–ever musical soundtrack of a book series.  “I have recorded a lot of albums and have sung for many films, but this is the first time I have sung for a book!,” the 39–year–old said here on Monday at the launch. “I am glad to be a part of this trilogy. The music for the book has a lot of fusion and has been composed by some really talented people,” he added. Oath of the Vayuputras is the third and the final instalment of the Shiva trilogy by Tripathi and is set to come out in March this year. The cover page of the book was launched last year by filmmaker Karan Johar. (IANS)


 My son better now: Shilpa

Mumbai, Feb 12: Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty says her son, who was taken ill last week, is fine now and that “the worst is over”. “I have been in the hospital since Sunday evening, my son Viaan has been very ill. He is better now. A distressing time for us all. The worst is over,” the 37–year–old tweeted. Shilpa, who married London–based Raj Kundra in 2009, gave birth to her first child in May last year. Currently seen as one of the judges on the fifth season of Nach Baliye, the actress “skipped” shooting for the dance reality show. “Had to skip Nach Baliye shoot on Tuesday, just couldn’t do it. Grateful to Star Plus for understanding my predicament. Thank you all for your good wishes,” she further tweeted. (IANS)


 Grand Masti crazier, wilder than Masti: Aftab

Mumbai, Feb 12: After the success of sex comedy Masti, its second part is coming out soon and actor Aftab Shivdasani insists the franchise is “a bundle of entertainment” and there is nothing “common” between the two. “The only thing which is common is the filmmaker and the three actors. The rest of the story, setting and even the wives are different. It is a franchise and not a sequel. It’s funnier, crazier wilder... it’s a bundle of entertainment,” Aftab said. Indra Kumar, who directed the 2004 Masti, has helmed Grand Masti too and teamed up with Vivek Oberoi, Aftab and Riteish Deshmukh, who were there in the original. While Amrita Rao, Tara Sharma and Genelia D’Souza played the female leads in the original, Maryam Zakaria, Kainaat Arora, Bruna Abdullah, Manjari Phadnis, Karishma Tanna and Sonali Kulkarni will feature in Grand Masti. Talking about the status of the film, Aftab said: “The shooting should finish soon. It is almost over. We will be shooting 15–20 days in April. It’s different. It may not appeal to some people’s sensibilities but the masses will enjoy it. It is comedy of errors, which is something people always enjoy watching.” (IANS)


 Eros, Endemol tie up for three movies

Mumbai, Feb 12: Eros International Media Ltd and Endemol India have announced a strategic alliance to co–produce three feature films and the collaboration has earmarked Rs 100 crore to fund these three productions. They will also make original content for television. The three–film deal includes an action comedy, which will be a remake of a southern blockbuster, an original romantic comedy and a comic caper. Of them, the first one to hit the floors will be the romantic comedy and its shooting will start later this year.  Television formats and original programming for television is another area that Eros and Endemol will collaborate on.  Many of Eros–owned film Intellectual Property Rights will be considered for adaptation for the television format and vice versa.  “We are really excited to be partnering with Endemol India... The alliance is founded on the coming together of our respective core competencies in film and television,” Jyoti Deshpande, executive director, Eros International Media Ltd, said in a statement. Deepak Dhar, CEO Endemol India said with the association they are planning to “make a mark on the big screen as well”. “After successfully producing content for some of the biggest format shows in the country, we are expanding our portfolio to films and are delighted to partner with leaders in this space,” he said. (IANS)


 Nude studies central to Indian art history: New book

New Delhi, Feb 12: The study of the nude has been central to the history of Indian art in its journey from prehistoric cave art, the temples of Khajuraho, Vatsayan’s Kamasutra to modern portraitures by masters across genres and mediums despite the growing protests by right–wing groups.

What role can carnal play in high art?

“At a more popular level, in folk and tribal art, erotic motifs and symbols are a recurring theme. In both forms, erotica again plays a dual role: it is seen as cultic, religious practices and in the recreational activities of communities,” says critic–curator Alka Pande in her book, Indian Erotica.

Pande says the human body can be used in art to portray social realities as well.

In 1954, artist Akbar Padamsee found himself in court defending a painting, “The Lovers”.

Controversy had broken out that the naked couple on Padamsee’s canvas represented modern decadent values, says a new book on art, “The Naked and the Nude: The Body in Modern Indian Art (Delhi Art Gallery)”.

Recalling Indian art’s early encounters with nudity, the book says Mumbai artists, bred on Parisian Bohemianism, led the “still largely imagined lifestyle of Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse, known for their sensuous iconography, beautiful models and equally famous dalliances”.

According to the book, in Calcutta too, artists used live models, but it was Mumbai that had been the hub of portrait painters.

“What provided offence was not the subject of the nude as much as its distortion,” the book says.

In one of the galleries of the National Gallery of Modern Art are two paintings “Sleep” and “Woman at Bath” by Amrita Sher–Gil, which show her matured approach to painting the human body.

In “Sleep” – painted in 1933 – Sher–Gil used sister Indira as the model to paint a sensuous woman in bed. The “Woman at Bath”, painted in 1940, distorts the nude form to create something more vital and basic, showing her artistic mastery over the human body.

In a 1934 work, the artist used her own self as a model “with full breasts and a mere wrap around her waist in a nod to the Tahitian nudes that had been painted by Paul Gaugin”, the book says.

The human body became an experimental muse for members of the Progressive Artists’ Group in 1948. Founder–member of the group Francis Newton Souza extolled the human body throughout his career, the book says.

Souza’s “The Blue Nude” is among his earliest known works, which he painted when he was expelled from the JJ School of Art in Mumbai in 1948. It opened his career as a master of the human form with thousands of nude studies.

Souza’s mother “Lily Mary was a seamstress and the teenager Souza would spy on her customers as she measured them for clothes,” the book recalls. He cut a peephole in the bathroom door through which he watched his mother bathe.

In comparison, M.F. Husain’s figures were “almost classical perhaps because the artist moulded his bodies to an Indian tradition”. KH Ara was not shy of displaying the “full body”. His nudes were contemplative and weighty but there was no perfection in line.

Among the Kolkata artists, Jogen Chowdhury had created a huge body of nude that were corpulent and intimate.

The artist says the body has often returned to his paintings as “realistically formed with supernatural eyes from traditional Bengali sculptures”.

“It is a pity but I feel that we still have not acquired an attitude of ease and responsibility in our man–woman relationship. So we conjure myths – good or bad – about women and their sexuality,” artist Bikash Bhattacharjee, known for his nude studies, had said in an interview.

Artist Anjolie Ela Menon, who had attempted to paint women in red light areas of Mumbai, retained a “contemplative sensuousness and even strength” in her nude studies. (IANS)


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