Why so many former pinups in the Indian parliament?

Jason Overdorf writes in his column On India in the globalpost:

Doordarshan, kept showing Jaya Bachchan’s face during the induction of fellow former Bollywood starlet Rekha. Rekha was always rumored to have a thing going with Jaya’s husband Amitabh back when they were all stars.

India has the world’s worst famous people. They want all the adulation (and perks like unmerited posts in the government), but none of the “baseless” rumors, malicious gossip and catty remarks. But this has been a particularly good spring for schadenfreude.  

First, there was a long-running bit of journalistic comedy (yes!) after the Indian Express devoted the entire front page to a non-existent coup.  (I know, I know: “We never used the C word!”… tell it to your lawyer).  

Then everybody piled on to attack a rather clever, 60-year-old political cartoon in a stunning show of solidarity with India’s otherwise-mostly-still-despised erstwhile untouchables, the Dalits. (It shows B.R. Ambedkar, the Dalit politician who wrote India’s constitution, riding on a snail labeled “Constitution” while then-Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru urges the beast onward with a whip.  The trouble is now it’s in the school textbooks, and people have decided it looks like Nehru is whipping Ambedkar, even though the Dalit leader is also holding a whip).

And, finally, today Bollywood queen bee and member of parliament Jaya Bachchan (wife of Amitabh Bachchan, mother of Abhishek Bachchan, mother-in-law of Aishwarya Rai, and an actress in her own right) reportedly blew a gasket because the state-run television channel, Doordarshan, kept showing her face during the induction of fellow former Bollywood starlet Rekha into the Rajya Sabha as well.  (The honorable members of India’s version of the House of Lords later denied that Jaya made a fuss).

….The subtext here was that Rekha was always rumored to have a thing going with Jaya’s husband back when they were all stars. In all likelihood there was nothing to it, since Bollywood’s idea of PR is to leak rumors of such “link-ups” between the stars of upcoming releases.  

Tell it to Shekhar Gupta, the once respected editor-in-chief of the Indian Express, who also seems determined to trash his own reputation. … For awhile some folks tried valiantly ….. But in the end it all turned into a big joke, which long-time Outlook magazine editor Vinod Mehta described as “the mother of all mistakes”…

Are Indians oversensitive? Was Nehru really that skinny? Why are there so many former pinups in the Indian parliament? Why are Bollywood rumors always “baseless”? ..And, of course, should newspaper editors really be fighting against free speech?

Read the full column in globalpost: Oversensitive Indians: From Jaya Bachchan to Shekhar Gupta, everybody is aggrieved

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Indian (Bofors) investigators planted the Bachchan angle

“I knew what I was doing when I leaked the documents to you. I could not count on my government or Bofors or the government of India to get to the bottom of this.” 

STEN LINDSTROM explains why he chose to turn whistleblower to CHITRA SUBRAMANIAM-DUELLA  in The Hoot (http://www.thehoot.org).Sten Lindstrom is the former head of Swedish police who led the investigations into the Bofors-India gun deal.

Q– What was your experience with the Indian investigators?
 
– The only team I met in early 1990 damaged the seriousness of my work and the media investigation. I met them on a courtesy call. They were in the process of filing a letter-rogatory (LR) in Switzerland. Without an official request from Switzerland, Sweden could not intervene. They gave me a list of names to pursue including the name of Amitabh Bachchan. They also told me they did not trust you entirely because you had refused to link the Bachchans to the kickbacks. During that trip to Sweden, the Indian investigators planted the Bachchan angle on DN. The Bachchan’s took them to court in the UK and won. DN had to apologise and they said the story had come from Indian investigators. I was disappointed with the role of many senior journalists and politicians during that period. They muddied the waters.
Q – Any final thoughts?
 
A – There cannot be final thoughts on something like this. False closures of corruption bleed the system. Every day has to matter. When something like the scale and violence of Bofors happens, you begin to question your own faith as a professional and a human being. When you start losing faith, you begin to lose hope. When hope is lost, everything is lost. We cannot afford to let that happen. Maybe we will get nowhere, but silence cannot be the answer.

IPL 5: “The gentleman’s game of cricket got murdered “

COMMENTARY: Kalyan Kar, Editor-in-Chief, Best Media Info

Minus Lalti Modi, IPL 5 gala opening was a contrived effort 

This is not to hold a brief for the much discredited Lalit Modi. But the truth is that the Gala Opening of IPL 5 was a big letdown. A sporting spectacle is not the same as a wedding ceremony or a TV channel ‘parivaar’ award show

Can’t believe Rajeev Shukla said “If the beginning is like this you can understand how the tournament will go”. God, I hope he’s wrong – Omar Abdullah, CM, Jammu & Kashmir

If the opening ceremony is any indication IPL5 is going to be disappointing – Marketing honcho Lloyd Mathias

Must say, I am enjoying the tweets on the IPL 5 opening ceremony more than the event. – Dhunji Wadia, CEO, Everest Brand Solutions

The gentleman’s game of cricket just got murdered tonight. I sleep with teary eyes and a heavy heart as I look at my old college flannels – Pratap Bose, COO, DDB Mudra

Watching the IPL opening ceremony, I know what my old man would have said. Can we please start the cricket now?! – Rajdeep Sardesai, Editor-in-Chief, CNN-IBN

If the quality of cricket on #IPL5 is anything like the opening ceremony, then god save the sponsors – Naresh Gupta, Chief Strategy Officer, iYogi

Amitabh Bachchan reciting a poem on cricket written by Prasoon Joshi during the opening ceremony.

Amitabh Bachchan reciting a poem on cricket written by Prasoon Joshi during the opening ceremony.

After weeks of sustained marketing build-up for the tournament of tournaments, it was all over in two hours on a balmy evening in Chennai, with egg on everybody’s face – everybody as in those involved in conceptualising and executing the Gala Opening for IPL Season 5. The storm on Twitter – by fans and, more importantly, those who matter in the communication space in forming opinions – says it all. It was a lame duck affair, crassly put up, lacking in finesse. Above all, unlike in previous seasons, it was held on the YMCA College of Physical Education Ground, in Nandanam, Chennai. It seems the idea of using a stadium eluded the otherwise fertile minds of the power-packed BCCI management. Somebody missed the point that this is the opening ceremony of a global level cricket competition, not a Bollywood event per se. Imagine holding an Olympic opening ceremony or an ICC Cricket World Cup or FIFA World Cup open ceremony on a college ground!

Not that I am holding a candle for the discredited former Czar of IPL Lalit Modi (I have a pathological dislike for those given to dishonesty, impropriety and self-aggrandisement, such as Suresh Kalmadi and Lalit Modi), but the choice of venue was rightly criticised by Modi on Twitter.

Coming to the show itself, viewers have witnessed much better gala events done by the likes of Star Plus and Colors with their endless list of “parivar” awards. Filmfare has invariably and successfully mounted awards nights with much greater finesse and style, with vastly more sophisticated stages and laser and psychedelic lighting. Or did BCCI plan this as a shaadi ka baraat in the first place? May be that was keeping in style with the new IPL Commissioner! And oh, he did admit that he is a politician! Was that to ensure failures and criticisms don’t matter?

The show kicked off with the best-known Indian walking. Amitabh Bachchan recited a poem written by Prasoon Joshi in very shudh Hindi. The baritone voice was very much audible, but often one struggled to figure out the last part of a sentence in a long poem. Wonder how Prasoon felt! Again, the BCCI brass missed the point: Big B is any day the best choice for a Gujarat Tourism TVC or a grand-uncle advising youngsters on the benefits of Chyavanprash. T20 is wham-bam stuff, it is all about a new genre of cricket which is raging like a storm. Let’s look at it like this: Cliff Richards is still alive, spending his late years somewhere in England. Would he be the right choice to sing at the opening of the London Olympics later this year? It is like asking Elton John, who sang the beautiful ‘Candle in the Wind’ on BBC after Princess Di met a horrific end in a Paris tunnel, to sing the opening notes at the next FIFA World Cup!

Prabhdeva. I am given to understand that he enjoys the reputation of being able to dance as though he has no bones in his plastic/elastic body, and more smoothly than the late Michael Jackson! Wow. But then, after a Google search, I discovered that he is almost 40. Little wonder then that viewers were treated to a lame, stiff, meaningless dance number. So, was he brought in to please the few thousand Chennai fans sitting at the YMCA ground and not for the millions of foolish TV viewers across this geographically huge, cricket-crazy country? Somebody got it wrong again. May be Chris Gayle would have been a better choice with a Calypso number!

Then there was the parade of the nine brilliant Captains of the IPL teams. Why were they looking so uncomfortable? Did somebody tell them to show their mettle in ramp walking? Were the two girls accompanying each of them meant to add glamour? If so, didn’t viewers deserve a better deal to indulge is some voyeurism, say, with the sexy cheerleaders that IPL is synonymous with, accompanying the Captains?

Coming to Bollywood’s stud, Salman Khan, where was the much expected ‘dabaangg’? His pink-orange trouser reminded one of a bygone era when Rajesh Khanna and, somewhat later on, Rishi Kapoor, who strutted around in colourful trousers, something that most fans would dread to wear out on the street! As for his dance gig, give us a break, haven’t we seen Salman perform much, much better at other events?

At the end, it was left to Priyanka Chopra and Katy Perry to lift the evening. Priyanka tried hard, and successfully. But then, she had a fixed time on the stage. So did singer Katy, who was brought all the way from California. She sang reasonably well, but it is her outfit that caught more eyeballs. But then, she was nowhere near the flame-haired Shakira, whose dance number ‘Waka waka’ had the world dancing after her FIFA World Cup performance.

I agree with Pratap Bose. The gentleman’s game of cricket just got murdered last night.

Kalyan.Kar@BestMediaInfo.com

Walk of Stars inaugurated with Kareena Kapoor

I don’t know why, but this makes me happy.  You wonder why it is happening only now.  It will be a major tourist attraction, actually,  a desi shrine!!  Although, they should have maybe inaugurated it with Dilip Kumar, Amitabh Bachchan, no? They will all join soon, I am sure. It will be a party every week  :-)

Randhir Kapoor with daughter Kareena

Bollywood’s ‘Walk of Stars’ unveiled in Mumbai

 Indian cinema’s ‘Walk of the Stars’ has been officially opened, in the Bandra district of Mumbai.

The new pathway will bear handprints and signatures of numerous actors, and the Kapoor family are the first to be honoured on the street.

The BBC’s Rajini Vaidyanathan had a first look at the walk, and spoke to MK Anand from UTV, the television channel that created the walk. 

(courtesy: thebollywoodaddict.wordpress.com)

Mumbai (Bollywood) Gets Its Own Walk of Fame

An artist's rendering of the soon to be launched  “UTV Stars’ Walk of the Stars,” in Mumbai, Maharashtra.

An artist’s rendering of the soon to be launched  “UTV Stars’ Walk of the Stars,” in Mumbai, Maharashtra.

If staring at Bollywood stars’ houses, waiting patiently for them to go grocery shopping, or living vicariously through gossip columns is not enough for you, there’s India’s brand-new, star-studded walk of fame.

Inspired by the Hollywood original, UTV Stars, a new Bollywood channel, is introducing its own “Walk of the Stars.” Slated to open on Wednesday, the walk spans a 2-kilometer, or 1.2-mile, stretch along the Bandra Bandstand Promenade in Mumbai.

The sea-facing promenade will feature the handprints and signatures of Bollywood stars embossed on brass plates on tiles along the path. Kareena Kapoor, Sonam Kapoor, Ranbir Kapoor, Sharmila Tagore, Meena Kumari, Shammi Kapoor, Shabana Azmi and Sridevi are among the stars featured.

The UTV television group, which calls its new UTV Stars channel “the official channel of Bollywood,” has been working on the project for two years, collecting all the necessary permissions and hand impressions. “We wanted to do something as a tribute to the big stars of Bollywood who have contributed so much,” said Nikhil Gandhi, the business head at UTV Stars. “It’s a one-of its-kind attraction in India to bring fans a little closer to their favorite movie stars.”

The new Walk of the Stars will also feature several statues of Bollywood legends, including Raj Kapoor, Shammi Kapoor, Dev Anand, Dilip Kumar, Rajesh Khanna and Amitabh Bachchan. The statues are life-size brass representations of each star, sitting on benches.

A mock-up of the "UTV Stars" bench in Mumbai, Maharashtra.
Courtesy of UTVA mock-up of the “UTV Stars” bench in Mumbai, Maharashtra.

“You’ll have a whole horde of people who would like to sit on a bench beside Raj Kapoor and get themselves photographed,” predicts Robin Nath, honorary secretary and trustee at the Bandra Bandstand Residents Trust, which developed and maintains the promenade. “You and me might not be infatuated by Bollywood stars but the rest of the public hero-worships them. I’m sure it’ll be a great hit.”

While unwilling to disclose the cost of the entire project, Mr. Gandhi said each brass statue will cost 35 lakh, or 3.5 million rupees , the equivalent of $68,000. There will be 6 to 8 such statues, and about 100 handprints.

Unlike the Hollywood Walk of Fame, which is administered by the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce and maintained by the self-financing Hollywood Historic Trust, this project will be promoted, funded and privately managed by UTV. “We have the support of the entire industry,” said Mr. Gandhi. “Bollywood, per se, is not a registered term, so there is not an administration we have to go through,” he said.

The name “Walk of the Stars” is a nod to the multiplicity of movie stars generated by the industry in recent years, Mr. Gandhi said. “Earlier it was one superstar per decade,” he said. “Now we have 10 or 15 stars per era delivering one super hit after the other.”

Mr. Gandhi said, “The project will not only be a monument to the industry but add to the beautification of the Bandra Bandstand promenade. People will visit especially to see it.”

Because the walk is being built in a public space, it required the permission of multiple government departments, including a no-objection certificate from the Maharashtra Maritime Board – a process that the company said was simple. “The process of getting approvals from the government was quite easy because of the credibility and value it adds to the promenade – it is a non-commercial project, free of cost to access to the public,” said Mr. Gandhi.

“It’s a very nice thing for the Bandra area, where there are already so many stars residing that people come from all over to stare at Salman Khan’s house or Shah Rukh Khan’s bungalow,” said Mr. Nath. “It is about time that people recognized the fame of these actors living in our neighbourhood and gave them their due honor.”

(courtesy: By NEHA THIRANI & India Ink  & Courtesy of UTV)