National Cultural Audiovisual Archives becomes world’s first Trusted Digital Repository

The National Cultural Audiovisual Archives (NCAA) project, implemented by Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA,) has been certified as the world’s first Trusted Digital Repository.
The certificate is granted by the Primary Trustworthy Digital Repository Authorisation Body Ltd. (PTAB), United Kingdom. Leveraging this historic achievement, the plan for the next phase is to integrate about 300,000 hours of audiovisual materials, a corpus estimate based on a scoping survey conducted in 25 cities across the country, on this platform over the next five years.
“I congratulate IGNCA for this remarkable achievement. The Digital India initiative of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, launched on July 1, 2015, is aimed at connecting rural India with high-speed internet networks and improving digital literacy. This will boost the accessibility of the NCAA up to the remotest corner of the country and help preserve India’s rich culture throughout its length and breadth,” Minister of State for Culture Mahesh Sharma said.
The primary objective of the NCAA is to identify and preserve the cultural heritage of India available in audio-visual form through a process of digitization and making it accessible to the people. By March 2018, a corpus of 30,000 hours of unpublished, non-commercial audio & video recordings will be made online at, out of which approximately 15,000 hours are already hosted online along with contextual metadata, representing the cultural diversity of India in the broadest sense.
Over 23,000 hours of unpublished audio-visual recordings have already been digitized. NCAA pilot digital repository was developed in collaboration with the Centre of Excellence for Digital Preservation by C-DAC, Pune.
At present, NCAA has a total of 21 Partnering Institutions from across the country, covering 11 governmental and 10 non-governmental cultural organisations. The digitization and metadata standards followed by the Project are in parity with international standards within the overall framework of the OAIS model.
The digitization standards are in concordance with those prescribed by the International Association of Sound & Audiovisual Archives (IASA) and the metadata schema is extended Dublin Core, followed by galleries, libraries, archives and museums worldwide.
The Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts has been set up by the Union Government, as a premier research institute dedicated to holistic understanding and expression of Indian arts in their inter and multi-disciplinary nature. One of the principal aims of the centre is to serve as a major national resource centre for the arts.
The IGNCA has been designated as the nodal agency for a data bank on art, humanities and cultural heritage. The Centre has also been identified by UNESCO as the nodal agency for the development of regional databases for South and South East Asian countries on art, cultural heritage and lifestyles through the application of state-of-the-art technologies for standardization, exchange and dissemination of data.
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43 lakh manuscripts documented, 2.85 lakh digitized by NMM so far: Sharma

The National Mission for Manuscripts (NMM) has till date documented 43 lakh manuscripts (including rare ones) and digitized 2.85 lakh manuscripts containing 2.95 crore pages which are stored in DVDs and hard disks, the Lok Sabha was informed today.
In a written answer during Question Hour, Minister of State for Culture Mahesh Sharma said the NMM, engaged in documentation of Indian manuscripts, carries out the task without any distinction between rare and common manuscripts. The manuscripts remain with the owner. The data is obtained in soft copy from the Manuscripts Resource Centres (MRCs) in State Archives, Universities and Institutions having large deposits of such documents.
Regarding stolen manuscripts, during the last decade, only one case was reported. All cases of stolen manuscripts are dealt with as per the provisions of Antiquities and Art Treasures Act, 1972 administered by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), he added.
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Kala Ghoda Arts Festival Reloaded hosted in western suburbs of Mumbai

Percussionist and drummer Sivamani, performing at the Kala Ghoda Festival Reloaded in Mumbai on February 23, 2018.
Percussionist and drummer Sivamani, performing at the Kala Ghoda Festival Reloaded in Mumbai on February 23, 2018.
The evening was abuzz on Friday with activities on the lawns of Runwal Elegante which was playing host to the popular Kala Ghoda Arts Festival – Reloaded in one of the premium addresses in the western suburbs.
Art lovers and families were seen all over the place, queuing up for the various art workshops which were being hosted in its premise.   With a band playing in the backdrop it was indeed a festive atmosphere.   
The sundowner performance began with a live band and performance by Sanyaas, which was met with happy cheers by the public. By sunset, the people had settled in, looking forward to the performance of world class percussionist and drummer,  Sivamani, which was to be the highlight of the evening.
Sivamani started his performance with his signature style, playing the drums and moving to experimental music. 
“I have always found the act of performing at Kala Ghoda Arts festival very special, considering the festival is predominantly all about leveraging art in all format,” said Sivamani.  “It is a special feeling to be part of shaping and inspiring young talent which I always find in abundance at this festival.”  
Sandeep Runwal, MD of Runwal Group, which owns the landmark building and host to the festival, felicitated Sivamani who was present with his family.   It was heartening to hear the melodious voice of Sivamani’s wife Runa Rizvi, an Indian classical and playback singer.  With her newborn in the arm, Runa sang a beautiful rendition of Ganesh Vandana, offering her best wishes for the art festival coming to the western suburbs.
Actress Urvashi Rautela present seemed mesmerized with the ambiance, taking in the awe-striking art installations, the performance, and soaking in the beauty of the surrounding.  “Kala Ghoda is all about arts and its artist, which is what we members of the popular Bollywood industry have been striving to display to the world.  I couldn’t have been more pleased to be here as I am equally excited about my career in this field” said Urvashi. “For several of my films and the roles I essay, I have been grooming myself with various dance forms and also research on the art and culture to be better equipped to handle the characters I play”.
Runwal went on to say, “Every architect-builder strives to make his buildings a unique landmark just like an artist strives to make his work unique.  Developing a project is a form of art in itself. Creating every aspect of the building from interior to amenities provided makes for an artistic living.
"The festival extending to the suburbs is the biggest highlight and makes for a great association.  We are proud of having the opportunity to host the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival at Runwal Elegante," he said.
The event will conclude on Sunday with some more popular artists from the various background in arts, film, and television performing at the venue.
The festival is organized by the Kala Ghoda Association (a non-profit organization which aims to promote arts and culture in Mumbai). The festival sections are visual arts, dance, music, literature including children's literature as a subsection, workshops, urban design and architecture, food, a dedicated section for children, and a vibrant street section including stalls selling eco-friendly, handmade arts and crafts wares.
Some of the popular artists and their work on display at the Art Installations and Art Gallery include names as M F Hussain, Raza, Vaikunth, Suhas Roy, Laxma Goud, Achyut Palav, Shreehari Bhosale, Jaya Lamba, Prerna Kewalramani, Shola Carletti, S K Tayde, Shreekant Patil and other popular artists
The  highlights of today's events include a live performance by India’s Got Talent - 2016 winner, flutist Suleiman.
On Sunday, Divya Dutta will read from Me and Ma. That will be followed by a live band and a finale performance by a popular artiste.
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Reliance Industries Limited to acquire stake in Eros International PLC

Energy and petrochemicals major Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) and film entertainment company Eros International PLC announced today that RIL, through a subsidiary, has agreed to subscribe to a 5%  equity stake in NYSE listed Eros at a price of US$ 15 per share, which represents an 18% premium to last closing price. 
The transaction is subject to customary regulatory and other approval, a press release from Reliance said.
Furthermore, RIL and Eros International Media Limited (Eros India) announced that they have agreed to partner in India to jointly produce and consolidate content from across India. The parties will equally invest up to Rs. 1,000 crore in aggregate (approximately $ 150 million) to produce and acquire Indian films and digital originals across all languages.
In addition, it was announced that Ms. Jyoti Deshpande, Group CEO and MD of Eros will be stepping down from her executive role after more than 17 years in Eros and move on to head the Media and Entertainment business at RIL as President of the Chairman’s Office. 
Ms. Deshpande will start her role at RIL from April 2018, but will continue to remain as a Non-Executive Director on the Board of Eros. Mr. Kishore Lulla will resume his position of Group Chairman and CEO of Eros.
In her new role at RIL, Ms. Deshpande will lead the company’s initiatives in Media and Entertainment to organically build and grow businesses around the content ecosystem such as Broadcasting, Films, Sports, Music, Digital, Gaming, Animation etc., as well as integrate RIL’s existing media investments such as Viacom and Balaji Telefilms with a view to build, scale and consolidate the fragmented US$ 20 billion Indian M&E sector.
Mr. Mukesh Ambani, Chairman & Managing Director, RIL, said, “We are pleased to join hands with Eros, as it will bring further synergies into our plans, making for a win-win partnership. We are delighted to welcome Ms. Jyoti Deshpande into the Reliance family and believe that she will not only give wings to our plans but also play a pivotal role in transforming the sector.”
Mr. Lulla said, “I am very pleased that Eros is partnering with RIL in its entertainment journey with several synergies across technology, content and digital with Eros Now. We look forward to collaborating and growing as we continue to make new strides on the digital and content forefronts. I am confident that together, we can make a meaningful difference. Jyoti Deshpande has been an invaluable part of the incredible Eros growth journey and I am confident that she will make a positive impact on the industry in her new role at RIL. I wish her the very best of luck.”
Ms. Deshpande said, “Having worked and associated with Eros group since 1998, it has been an integral part of my professional career and I extend my heartfelt thanks to Kishore Lulla and the Eros family for the opportunity to build an amazing company together. I am delighted that RIL has strategically aligned with Eros, so the association continues. My new assignment at RIL will allow me to push boundaries, set new standards of excellence, assemble a world-class young leadership team and adopt a collaborative approach to architect and execute this ambition in true RIL tradition. I am genuinely honored and humbled to have been granted this opportunity but more than anything I cannot wait to roll up my sleeves”.
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Dara Shukoh’s writings a refreshing source for infusing peace and harmony, says Naidu

Vice-President M Venkaiah Naidu today said Prince Dara Shukoh’s writings could be a refreshing source for infusing peace and harmony.
Addressing a gathering after visiting an exhibition on the forgotten Mughal prince, Mr. Naidu said Dara Shukoh, one of the sons of Emperor Shah Jehan, grew up under the unmistakable influence of the teachings of the Sufi saint, Shaik Muin-uddin Chisti.
He studied all prominent religions of the world especially Islam and Hinduism and wrote the remarkable work called “Majma-ul-Bahrain” or the “Mingling of the two Oceans” in which he said that he did not find “any difference except verbal, in the way they sought to comprehend the truth”, and both "represent spiritual effort of man to realize Truth and God”. His message is relevant for all times, Mr Naidu said.
The exhibition is organized by French political writer and journalist Francois Gautier, at the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA).
The Vice President said the principles of Sufism are highly relevant to break down narrow prejudices and bring people together, especially in today’s world of materialism, consumerism and growing religious fundamentalism.
All religions seek to unite people and the common strand in each of them, including Sufism, is spiritualism, tolerance and respect for others. There is a greater need today to put into practice some of the meaningful teachings of Sufi saints to bring harmony between all groups of society and break down divisive walls between communities, he added.
The quest for the spirit of oneness has ironically both unified as well as divided humanity because of the difference in the external forms, rituals, texts, names and symbols. “Human history has many lessons for us. We have periods of long bitter wars fought in the name of religion. We have peaks of peaceful co-existence and depths of strident intolerance. Every era has examples of this ceaseless battle between various religious groups and also of the refreshing soothing voices of, balanced, path breaking visionaries,” he said.
"This is a constant struggle of letting the voices of harmony, mutual respect and understanding rise up. Today’s symposium is a step in that direction. We are examining the relevance of Sufism today and also recalling a forgotten prince of yesteryears. One is a philosophical strand that has through the ages has been one of the unifying influences binding people throughout its long and rich history. The second is Dara Shukoh, the Prince who exemplified an extraordinarily broad vision of cultural synthesis," he said.
“Like many religions of the world that have found in India a hospitable home, Sufism has also been a part of India’s cultural landscape since medieval times. The Indian ethos and the cultural, philosophic tradition has always recognized and celebrated diversity and plurality. Ours is a country that recognized thousands of years ago that - “Ekam sat vipra bahudha vadanti” (Truth is one, sages call it by various names),” Mr Naidu said.
"Early mystics of Sufism like Rabia and Mansoor remain symbols of divine love. The 10th century Sufi mystic Rabia represents the ideal of selfless love preached by Sufi mystics.
"The preaching of divine love by the saints permeated Sufi philosophy and made them popular everywhere including most parts of the Middle East, Iraq, Iran, Turkey Central Asia, Afghanistan and the subcontinent. Rumi, inspired by Shams Tabrezi, wrote some of the greatest Sufi poetry which is popular all over the world today, including his celebrated Masnavi.
"Similarly, Hafez of Shiraz wrote some of the greatest poems which celebrate divine love. Hafez’s poetry is an elegant expression of the experience of divine love, a recurring motif in his work. Hafez has been a great source of inspiration for generations of poets, thinkers and people across all segments of society. No wonder his mausoleum in Shiraz in Iran, attracts millions of visitors to this day," the Vice-President said.
“Sufi saints attracted followers from all faiths and to this day we find this spirit of togetherness when it comes to spiritualism in practice. For example, Khaja Mohiuddin Chisti’s shrine in Ajmer, Hazrath Nizammuddin Auliya’s dargah in New Delhi and Ameen Peer Dargah near Kadapa in my own state of Andhra Pradesh—these are among thousands of such shrines venerated by people across the country.
“All these great saints like Rishis and Munis deeply loved humanity and could see the vital connection between humanity and divinity,” he added.
“No wonder the impact of Sufi philosophy on Indian culture and social reform has been enormous. As Narada in his Bhakti Sutra’s defines ‘devotion’, it is selfless love in its highest form. This selfless love is underpinned by qualities that are fundamental for peaceful coexistence – empathy and enlarged vision, a willingness to listen and understand, and an ability to tolerate differences and recognize the commonalities,” he said.
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Cabinet approves agreement between India and Israel on film co-production

The Union Cabinet today gave its ex-post facto approval to an agreement on film co-production between India and Israel signed during the visit of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to India on January 15.
Co-production of an Indian film with an international party means that Indian producer can access international funds and can collaborate on the script, talent and distribution at international level, an official press release said.
The release said co-production of a film under this treaty would qualify it to be national production both in India and Israel. This will also enable a common pool of creative, artistic, technical, financial and marketing resources of the two countries.
The co-produced films will also be eligible for their participation as domestic productions in film festivals of both the countries and any other incentives which are available for carrying out production and post-production work in any of the countries.
The agreement will lead to mutual exchange of art and culture, create goodwill and better understanding among the people of both the countries as well as various aspects of film making, the release said.
The agreement will also help in generation of employment among artistic, technical as well as non-technical personnel, it added.
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'Cheerleader' singer Omi to tour India in February

Jamaican singer Omi
Jamaican singer Omi
Jamaican singer-songwriter Omi, best known for his worldwide hit "Cheerleader", will visit India on a debut tour in February when he will perform in three cities -- Mumbai, Delhi and Hyderabad.
The tour is being organised by White Fox India, the New Delhi-based event management outfit that brought Canadian megastar Justin Bieber to India for the very first time last year.
Omi, 31, is the first Jamaican singer after Bob Marley to grab global attention. His chartbuster single “Cheerleader” was officially hailed as “Song Of The Summer” by Billboard after a lengthy six week reign at the #1 spot on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart.
The song snagged an incredible 800 million combined video views and was streamed over 400 million times on Spotify. The hit notched platinum-plus sales in the UK, Sweden, Italy, Germany, and Australia, 3X platinum certification in Spain and Diamond certification in France.
After that, Omi delivered Hula Hoop in his debut album “Me 4 U” which garnered  over 100 million views and a platinum certification.  The album also features tracks like “Stir It”, “Drop In The Ocean”, “These Are The Days”, “Hitchiker” and “Babylon”.
The affable singer/songwriter, who hails from the rural Jamaican parish of Clarendon -- ‘a stone’s throw from Kingston’ -- pursued his interest in music from the age of 14 years. He has worked with A-list artistes like Felix Jaehn, Shaggy, The Vamps, Kid Ink, Taylor Swift and Avril Lavigne and is a frequent caller of major music award ceremonies all around the world.
A press release from White Fox said Omi would perform at Kitty Su, Mumbai on February 23, at Privee, New Delhi on February  24 and at Artistrey in Hyderabad on February 25.
Omi said, " Hey Namaste India, I just want to say thanks for the invite to share your culture. I am really looking forward to the experience of the food, the music, the people and the awesome sights to see. Big ups to White Fox India for finally making this happen, looking forward to seeing you all really soon."
Arjun Jain, Founder, White Fox India states, "Omi has a huge fan following in India and after a lot of fan requests we decided to bring him to the sub-continent for the very first time for a three-city showcase. In addition this year we plan to host a bouquet of commercial acts who haven't performed in the country before."
Tickets for the shows will be available on, with prices starting at Rs. 1000, the release added.
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Airtel and Hotstar announce strategic partnership

Telecom services provider Bharti Airtel and streaming platform Hotstar today announced a strategic partnership to bring digital content from the latter's portfolio to Airtel customers. 
"This will further expand Airtel TV app’s wide range of offerings and expand the footprint for Hotstar’s content across Airtel’s large mobile customer base," a press release from Airtel said.
With the new partnership, Airtel TV now has access to one of the largest digital content portfolios in India, with 350 plus live TV channels and close to 10,000 movies and shows from India and abroad. 
"Airtel has forged partnerships with all leading broadcasters and production houses to bring the best of content on a single platform and offer a compelling experience to customers," it said.
"Hotstar’s rich content library comprising over 100,000 hours of content, in 9 languages comprising live sports and the best of Indian cinema and TV shows from channels across the Star network will now be available to all Airtel customers for free through the Airtel TV app. This will include shows from 22 channels and over 3000 hit movies and shows.   
"All content on Airtel TV app is free for Airtel Prepaid and Postpaid customers on a promotional basis till June 2018, offering them a great experience on India’s best smartphone network. To get started, customers can download the latest version of the Airtel TV app to enjoy the upgraded content," it said.
Mr. Sameer Batra, CEO – Wynk said, “We are delighted to have Hotstar onboard as a long term partner in our endeavour to build a world-class digital content ecosystem. Their rich content library will add immense value to our content play and add to the user experience. Airtel TV’s new version has received an extremely positive response from users and we will continue to bring exciting content and in-app innovations to delight them.”            
Mr. Ajit Mohan, CEO – Hotstar, said, "Airtel has among the widest consumer footprints in India and with our expansive content library, comprising rich programming that can cater across age groups, geographies and interests, there are natural synergies and we are very excited about this partnership."
The Hotstar catalogue available to Airtel TV users includes shows from channels across multiple genres, popular movies and shows in Hindi and regional languages like Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi, Tamil and Telugu. In addition, customers get access to an exciting library of sports content and live matches, the release added.
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International conference on Greek Indologist Demetrios Galanos begins in New Delhi

An International Conference on Demetrios Galanos (1760–1833), wh was the earliest recorded Greek Indologist, was inaugurated at the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA) here today.
Ambassador of Greece Panas Kalogoripoulos, noted Sanskrit scholar Satyavrat Shastri, IGNCA Trustee Bharat Gupt and Member Secretary Sachchidanand Joshi were present at the inaugural session of the conference.
Several senior scholars and young researchers from Greece as well as from India are attending the conference titled "Demetrios Galanos and His Legacy".
The eight-day conference has been organised by IGNCA in New Delhi and Varanasi. An exhibition and a programme on folk music of Greece will also be held, an official press release said.
Mr Gupt said Galanos has a special place among the foreign scholars who came to India to study in the 19th century. He was the only one who stayed in India for 47 years, and except for the first seven years when he lived in Calcutta, he lived in the city of Varanasi for 40 years.
He translated the Bhagavad Gita into Greek among many other Sanskrit texts. His major contribution was the compilation of a Sanskrit-English-Greek lexicon of about 9000 words.
Mr Joshi said, “India and Greece share great traditions of philosophy, architecture and music. In fact, all the arts are regarded as civilizations that have enormously impacted the East and the West.
“Galanos can be seen as a symbol of coming together of these two great civilizations, as he embraced and enriched both these cultures by his immense knowledge and deep insight. For the last one and a half year, we have started a new project called ‘Bharat Vidya Prayojana’ and we are trying to reconceive Indology from Bharat perspective. Bharat Vidya Prayojana is the principal host of this conference,” he added.
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India Heritage Walk Festival 2018 : Online film fest opens with Ray's Rabindranath Tagore

A scene from Satyajit Ray's documentary on Rabindranath Tagore.
A scene from Satyajit Ray's documentary on Rabindranath Tagore.
Biographies of timeless legends, the stories of forgotten men and women, vanishing traditions, and unseen vignettes of India captured through the lens of the wandering filmmaker feature in the line-up of documentaries that will be screened throughout February during the month-long Online Heritage Film Festival.
The film screenings are part of the India Heritage Walk Festival 2018, a multi-city event organized by Sahapedia, the online encyclopedia of Indian arts and culture, and Yes Culture, the cultural division of Yes Global Institute, a practising think tank of Yes Bank, to encourage people to explore the tangible and intangible heritage of their cities and towns.
A total of 25 films, including well-known classics as well as entries selected by a panel of eminent arts and culture practitioners, including renowned dancer and former Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) head Leela Samson, are in the line-up for the festival which opened on Thursday (February 1) with Satyajit Ray's award-winning 1961 Films Division documentary on Rabindranath Tagore.
Sahapedia will release one film nearly every day throughout the month on its YouTube page  at 10:00 am, and each is an exploration of a remarkable facet of the sub-continent’s heritage in the form of people, arts, traditions or architecture.
Weavers of Maheswar (2016) by Keya Vaswani and Nidhi Kamath tells the story of people who’ve worked hard to revive a vanishing handloom craft; The Sarangi- Story of a museum (2015) by Manoj Bhandare and Raju Hittalamani is a journey through Kathmandu's museum of music and musical instruments from Nepal and The Battle of Bhima Koregaon (2017) by Somnath Waghamare celebrates the valour of the forgotten Mahar (untouchable) soldiers who overthrew the Peshwa rule in Maharashtra.
The lives of legends like Kalamandalam Gopi (1999), the Dhrupad maestros of the Dagar family (Dagarvaani - 1993), and Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra (Bhavantarana – 1991) are documented in some of the classics, while other films introduce viewers to lesser-known gems like The Shillong Chamber Choir (2008) ; Mystique of Murshidabad (2014); Little Magazines of Voices (2014)and Hyderabadi tryst with Ittar (2017).
The screened films will be available for online viewing throughout the month.
The film festival is one among the many events scheduled for IHWF 2018 in February, 2018. The month-long, multi-city event features nearly 70 public engagement events, including heritage walks (themed, curated and guided tours conducted by experts), baithaks (talks), workshops and instameets in nearly 20 cities, focusing on diverse aspects such as architecture, food, heritage, crafts, nature, and art that make up the cultural fabric of our country. Details of IHWF 2018 are available here.
Vaibhav Chauhan, Festival Director (IHWF) and Secretary, Sahapedia, said, “When we made a film festival a part of India Heritage Walk Festival, it was an attempt to resonate with Sahapedia's vision of providing varied forms of content on our rich heritage and culture. While there is tremendous amount of multimedia content on Heritage, that deserves and requires promotion, there is much still to be documented in an authentic and comprehensive fashion. We hope to encourage this through the film festival, and highlight Sahapedia's role in providing a platform for creative work in this domain.”
Rana Kapoor, MD & CEO, Yes Bank and Chairman, Yes Global Institute, said, “India is blessed with a rich heritage and cultural history, which is abundantly manifested in monuments and architectural sites across our country. Civil society participation in our nation’s heritage, aided by activities such as heritage walks, is integral to the preservation and conservation of these sites. Such heritage tourism initiatives, with the whole hearted participation and involvement of local communities and citizens, has the potential to instill immense national pride and further the agenda of heritage development.”
Preeti Sinha, Glocal Convenor, Yes Global Institute and Senior President, Yes Bank, said, "As we move towards a ‘Digital India’, our vast and rich cultural heritage needs to leverage technology for the new digital age. Digital audio guides for heritage walks, videos and info-graphics for social media platforms and high quality images of arts and monuments on app based platforms are changing the way we consume and absorb India’s heritage. The online heritage film festival of India Heritage Walk Festival is one such initiative to document and promote the various facets of Indian civilization from some of the most enterprising film-makers. The IHWF is a free festival for the people of India. We hope our citizens use this opportunity to reconnect with their past and its rich creative history to build a new digital future."

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Venkaiah Naidu to inaugurate 1st International Kala Mela tomorrow

Vice-President M Venkaiah Naidu will inaugurate the 1st International Kala Mela here tomorrow.
Lalit Kala Akademi, the premier institution for the promotion of art and culture, is organizing the event in  which artists and groups can showcase their artworks from February 4-18 daily from 12:00 pm to 8:00 pm at Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA).
The inauguration will be followed by folk dance by Karunadasa Olaboduwa Dance Troupe, Srilanka and ‘Sargam’ Kathak Recital by Pandit Harish Gangani’s Team, India.
During the Kala Mela, different art workshops and activities like Visual Art Film Festival, Pottery/Pattachitra/Papier Mache workshops will be held.
Other events include the best from the waste workshop, musical performances, dance dramas, Violin making workshop by Sveceny, Czechia, Artist Gup Shup Point, Nukkad Natak, and Live performance.
International performances like Violin by Nuno Flores, Portugal; The Troth – Usne Kaha Tha A Story of Love and sacrifice in World War I, by Akademi South Asian Dance, UK; Violin by Jaroslav Sveceny Czechia; Yakshangana by Devika Rao, UK; Paino by Nobert Kale, Hungary and Yaa Devi by Devika Dance Theatre, UK will be taking place for the artists and art lovers.
This is for the first time that the Akademi has planned the International Kala Mela at such a large scale. It is going to prove a boon to especially those artists who cannot afford to exhibit their works of art in the Art Galleries.
With a firm commitment to the art fraternity, the Kala Mela will be a great delight to observe the paradigms of the contemporary nuances of the modernistic trends in art. All in all, it is intended to be first of its kind and a great milestone event, an official press release said.
More than 800 artists from all across the country are participating in the event. Many Embassies and Cultural Centres are participating in making this festival an International success.
Some of the countries taking part in the Mela are China, Venezuela, Peru, Portugal, Srilanka, Poland, Tunisia, Mexico, Bangladesh, Trinidad, Tobago, Fiji, France, Papua New Guinea, Czechia, UK, Spain and Brazil. There are around 325 stalls for Indian artists and organizations including International representations.
The International Kala Mela is coming at a time when there is a perceptible requirement in the art market for a wide-ranging, global platform for Indian art. The central objective of Kala Mela is to focus on the direct interaction between the artist and the connoisseur and also educating and raising awareness about art, which has been the mandate of Lalit Kala Akademi.
This comprehensive outreach will include the participation of National, International level Artists/ Art Critics of repute from all over the globe, the release added.
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Google honours poet and writer Kamala Suraiyya with a doodle

Google has come out with a doodle to celebrate poet and author Kamala Das on the publication date of her autobiography, “My Story,” released in 1976.
Das’ life and work had a boldness and shapeshifting quality, whether it was the many genres she wrote in or the various languages in which she expressed herself. She was determined to live life on her own terms, resisting labels such as “feminist” and choosing different names for herself over the course of her life, Google said in its doodle blog.
She was born in Punnayurkulam, Thrissur District in Kerala, on March 31, 1934. Her father was V M Nair, who rose to become the managing editor of the widely circulated Malayalam daily Mathrubhumi and mother, renowned Malayalam poet Balamani Amma.
Born at Nalapatt, her mother’s maternal home, Kamala grew up in a joint family that followed the matrilineal system. The atmosphere was suffused with the glow of the freedom movement, with the elders in the family wearing khadi and lending support to Mahatma Gandhi.
She was encouraged to read books, including western classical literature by her uncle, Malayalam literary icon, Nalapatt Narayana Menon.
However, soon she had to leave the serene rural surroundings of Punnayurkulam to the bustling metropolis of Calcutta, where her father was a senior officer in the Walford Transport Company that sold Bentley and Rolls Royce automobiles.
She was married off at the age of 15 to Madhava Das. The couple settled down in Calcutta. With active encouragement from her husband, Kamala started penning poems in English.
She also began writing short stories in Malayalam under the pen name Madhavikutty. Her open and honest treatment of female sexuality marked her as an iconoclast.
Kamala originally wrote her autobiography in English but translated it to Malayalam along the way. The story captures her life from childhood to marriage and beyond, describing the rich inner world of a creative soul.
While some found the book to be controversial, including relatives who tried to block it from being published, many readers were enchanted by the lyricism and honesty of her writing.
Through all her transitions and personal reinventions, she continued to write poetry and prose that was unflinching and passionate. Today’s Doodle by artist Manjit Thapp celebrates the work she left behind, which provides a window into the world of an engrossing woman.
Towards the end of her life, she converted to Islam and adopted the name Kamala Suraiyya.
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India Heritage Walk Festival 2018 to be held in 20 cities and towns in February

The Jami Mosque in Ahmedabad
The Jami Mosque in Ahmedabad
Celebration of India’s diverse heritage and making it accessible to varied audiences are the focal points of the month-long India Heritage Walk Festival (IHWF) that will be held in February 2018 in 20 cities and towns across India.
Citizens will be encouraged to explore the tangible and intangible cultural legacies of their cities and towns, said a press release from the organisers, Sahapedia, an online encyclopedia of Indian arts and culture, and Yes Culture, the cultural division of Yes Global Institute, a practising think tank of Yes Bank.
The festival will feature walks to historical monuments and shrines, well-known landscapes, places known for art and culture, cuisine and, flourishing trade. There will be an online film festival of documentaries based on cultural themes and lecture series curated as 'baithaks' and Instameets as part of nearly 70 events scheduled throughout the month.
Besides the four metros, IHWF 2018 will cover cities including those well-established on the cultural map such as Jaipur, Udaipur and Agra, as well as the relatively less explored locations such as Srinagar in Jamu and Kashmir, Itanagar in Arunachal Pradesh and Tripunithura in Kerala. 
Curated thematically, walks will be led by subject experts through museums, historically significant monuments, markets, interesting natural landscapes and areas known for their rich cuisine. The themes range from built architectural heritage to intangibles such as textile, literature and food. Walks have been curated for the differently-abled in cities like Mumbai and Jaipur to make the festival inclusive and accessible to all user-groups.
"Our walk leaders are dedicated researchers and enthusiasts who have made special efforts to bring heritage to their audiences in interesting and novel ways," says Vaibhav Chauhan, Director, IHWF 2018.
The launch on February 3 will be marked by four walks - two in Delhi and one each in Ahmedabad and Hyderabad.  The online Heritage Film Festival will showcase a gamut of films on the myriad social and cultural traditions of the subcontinent. The festival will run all through February, with curated screenings of documentaries on the YouTube channel of Sahapedia.
The films include those made by young, upcoming filmmakers and scholars, alongside accomplished classics by eminent filmmakers such as Adoor Gopalakrishnan, Anjali Monteiro and K.P. Jayasankar. Together, these will provide a view of the spectrum of documentary practice in the country, as well as a creative and sophisticated view of the country's shared cultural heritage.
The first event in Ahmedabad on February 3, styled "Walking the Sacred Route @ World Heritage City of Ahmedabad", will be through a one-sq km area of the walled city which stands as a symbol of the peaceful co-existence of the shrines of Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Parsis, Jews and Jains.
The walk will explore the unique symbolism, art, architecture and associated history of some of these sacred places and their respective communities. It will be a peek into the basic ideologies and belief systems of these faiths, the release said.
Among the other themed walks are –‘Of Rich Textiles & Historic Lineages: A Textile Trail in Ahmedabad’, ‘Meandering through HauzKhas: From Tughluq to Tahiliani’, and ‘Sufi Safar Hazrat Nizamuddin Basti’ (both in Delhi), ‘Walking Amidst Nature in Hyderabad's Gachibowli’,‘Exploring Basavangudi: Old Bangalore's Sights and Sounds’, ‘Stories of the Throne: Exploring Tripunithura’, ‘Food and History through the Old City of Pune’, ‘Miniature and Fresco Paintings of Bikaner’, ‘Exploring the Mahakali Caves of Mumbai’, ‘The Talkies Walk: Tracing the Historical Single Screen Theatres in Mumbai’, ‘Oval Maidan Heritage Walk’, The Jains & the Mughals: A Symphony that Continue’ (Ahmedabad); and ‘A Food Walk in a Charming Market - Gandhi Bazaar’ (Bangalore).
Arunachal Pradesh is known for the fallen fighter planes located at Indira Gandhi Park and outside Jawaharlal Nehru State Museum in Itanagar. The participants in the walk, named ‘A Heritage Trail to the Fallen Warbirds of Itanagar’, will get a glimpse of aviation history while exploring two fallen fighter aircrafts manufactured by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and local folklore associated with the fallen warbirds.
"Heritage walks are ways to enter the past from the present. The best walks go beyond being purely physical or aesthetic experiences of encountering monuments or historic sites, they stoke our imagination and help us understand the lives and worldviews of those who came before us. My hope is that the India Heritage Walk Festival opens up these possibilities for those who take part in it," says Sudha Gopalakrishnan, Executive Director of Sahapedia.
Mr Rana Kapoor, MD & CEO of Yes Bank and Chairman, Yes Global Institute, says: “India is blessed with a rich heritage and cultural history, which is abundantly manifested in monuments and architectural sites across our country. Civil society participation in our Nation’s heritage, aided by activities such as heritage walks, is integral to the preservation and conservation of these sites. Such heritage tourism initiatives, with the whole hearted participation and involvement of local communities and citizens, has the potential to in still immense national pride and further the agenda of heritage development.”
Registrations for the events are open here.
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Prakash Jha to host Saare Jahan Se Achha web show

Well-known filmmaker Prakash Jha is all set to host a web show titled Saare Jahan Se Achha, which will showcase the lives of ordinary individuals who try to create a change in the lives of many through their efforts.
“I am full of gratitude after interacting with the common people who went out of their way to make a change in the lives of other people around them without any expectations in return. Sometimes small contributions make a big impact and it is essential that the story of these people is told; so that the positivity spreads,” Jha said.
Debutant director Prakash Bhardwaj said; “In an atmosphere when there is so much negativity floating around us in social media and news, we were in dire need of something that will make us proud of our fellow citizens and their efforts that help us lead a better life. When the concept was narrated, Prakash sir readily agreed to host it.”
Mzee Singh, who was the CEO of the production house which last produced Sanjay Dutt’s comeback film Bhoomi, is producing the web show. “It’s a pleasure and honor to work with a veteran like Prakash Prakash Jha. Digital is the medium of the future. We are looking at creating a series of 52 such inspiring  films, once this is released.”
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Malayalam actress Bhavana gets married to Kannada film producer Naveen

Malayalam film actress Bhavana and Kannada film producer Naveen at their wedding in Thrissur, on January 22, 2018.Photo:Bhavana's Facebook page.
Malayalam film actress Bhavana and Kannada film producer Naveen at their wedding in Thrissur, on January 22, 2018.Photo:Bhavana's Facebook page.
Popular Malayalam actress Bhavana got married to Kannada film producer Naveen at the Thiruvambady Temple in Thrissur near here this morning in the presence of close relatives and friends.
The couple later met people close to them at a get-together at the Jawaharlal Convention Centre in Thrissur and were slated to host a reception at the Lulu Convention Centre in that city this evening, sources said.
Bhavana and Naveen had got engaged in March 2017 after courting each other for about four years.
Born on June 6, 1986, as Karthika Menon, Bhavana, which is her screen name, has also acted in Tamil, Kannada and Telugu films. She made her debut in the Malayalam film Nammal in 2002 for which she got a Special Mention at the Kerala State Film Awards that year. She has appeared in more than 75 films and has won two Kerala State Film Awards.
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Kovind presents Sangeet Natak Akademi's Fellowships, Awards for 2016

Well-known sitarist Arvind Parikh receiving the Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowship for the year 2016 from President Ram Nath Kovind at a ceremony at Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi on January 17, 2018.
Well-known sitarist Arvind Parikh receiving the Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowship for the year 2016 from President Ram Nath Kovind at a ceremony at Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi on January 17, 2018.
President Ram Nath Kovind presented the Sangeet Natak Akademi's Fellowships (Akademi Ratna) and Sangeet Natak Akademi Awards (Akademi Puraskar) for the year 2016 to eminent personalities from the world of performing arts at a function at Rashtrapati Bhavan here today.
Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Kovind said that art connects people with culture. It also links people. While singing or listening to the national anthem, every citizen rises above his or her personal aspirations. Artistes should use this power of art in the interest of the society and the country, he said.
He appreciated the Sangeet Natak Akademi, the apex body in the country for the promotion and preservation of the performing arts, for honouring artistes who have excelled in the field of tribal music, dance, theatre and traditional folk arts. He said these folk arts had kept the traditions of the country alive.
One of the important activities of the Akademi, established by the Government in 1953 as the National Academy of Music, Dance and Drama, is to give recognition and honour to artistes through the Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowships and Awards, which are recognised as among the most coveted national honours bestowed on performing artistes as well as teachers and scholars of performing arts.
For 2016, four eminent artistes and scholars in the performing arts received fellowships and 43 artistes received the Akademi's awards.
The recipients are selected by the Akademi’s General Council, consisting of musicians, dancers, theatre artists and scholars in these disciplines, and nominees of the Government of India and of the States and Union Territories of the India Union.
The four Fellowships (Akademi Ratna) this year were conferred on will be conferred on sitarist Arvind Parikh, Carnatic vocalist R. Vedavalli, theatre director and actor Ram Gopal Bajaj and well-known dance critic and writer Sunil Kothari. The Fellows received a purse of Rs. 3 lakh, an angavastram, and a tamrapatra. 
The recipients of the Sangeet Natak Akademi Awards for 2016 received Rs. 1 lakh, an angavastram, and a tamrapatra.
In the field of Music, 11 eminent artistes received the Awards: Padma Talwalkar and Prabhakar Karekar, Hindustani Vocal Music; Arvind Mulgaonkar, Hindustani Instrumental Music -Tabla; Kala Ramnath, Hindustani Instrumental Music –Violin; Neela Ramgopal and K Omanakutty, Carnatic Vocal Music; J Vaidhyanathan, Carnatic Instrumental Music – Mridangam; Mysore M Manjunath, Carnatic Instrumental Music – Violin; Ningthoujam Shyamchand Singh, Other Major Traditions Of Music – Nata Sankirtana, Manipur; Ratnamala Prakash, Other Major Traditions Of Music – Sugam Sangeet; Ahmed Hussain and Mohammad Hussain, Other Major Traditions of Music – Sugam Sangeet (Hussain Brothers) (Joint Award).
In the field of Dance, nine eminent artistes received the Awards: Geeta Chandran for Bharatanatyam, Jitendra Maharaj for Kathak, Kalamandalam Ramachandran Unnithan for Kathakali, Maisnam Kaminikumar Singh for Manipuri, A B Bala Kondala Rao for Kuchipudi, Ratikant Mohapatra for Odissi, Haricharan Bhuyan Borbayan for Sattriya, Gopal Prasad Dubey for Chhau and Anita R Ratnam for Contemporary Dance.  
In the field of Theatre, nine eminent artistes received the Akademi Awards this year: Kusum Kumar for Playwriting, Satyabrata Rout for Direction, Bipin Kumar for Direction, Rajkamal Nayak for Direction, Gireesan V for Acting, Oinam Biramangol Singh for Acting, Mohan Joshi for Acting, Anjana Puri for Allied Theatre Arts – Music for Theatre, and K Govind Bhat for Other Major Traditions Of Theatre – Yakshgana.
In the field of Traditional/Folk/Tribal Music/Dance/Theatre and Puppetry,  ten artistes received the Akademi Awards: Annabattula Lakshmi Mangatayaru and Leela Sai (Joint Award), Traditional Theatre (Kalavantulu),Andhra Pradesh; Yogesh Gadhavi, Folk Music, Gujarat;  Vidyanand Saraik, Folk Music, Himachal Pradesh; Somnath D Chari, Traditional Music, Goa; Laxmidhar Raut, Pala, Odisha; Chiranji Lal Tanwar, Mand, Rajasthan; Gulzar Ahmad Ganie, Folk Music (Chakri), Jammu & Kashmir; Braj Kishor Dubey, Folk Music, Bihar; Prabhitangsu Das and Dattatreya Aralikatte for Puppetry.
Pappu Venugopal Rao and Avinash Pasricha received the Akademi’s Award for their overall contribution in the performing arts.
Today's ceremony will be followed by a festival of music, dance and drama from tomorrow to January 21, featuring Fellows and Award-winners of the year. The festival will be held at the Meghdoot Theatre Complex, Copernicus Marg and Mavalankar Hall, Rafi Marg.
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Make public artwork a component of developmental & architectural designs: Puri

Union Minister of State for Housing & Urban Affairs Hardeep S Puri has called for making creative public art as an essential component of developmental and architectural designs. 
Addressing a round table here yesterday on the theme of Public Art in Delhi, Mr Puri stated that the time had come to plan for public artwork on a large scale by making it a component of all developmental plans and architectural designs. 
The objective of the round table organized at the initiative of Ministry of Housing & Urban Affairs by the Delhi Urban Art Commission is to bring together on the same platform artists, urban designers, city planners, architects and Government representatives to provide their inputs on the subject. 
Durga Shankar Mishra, Secretary, Housing & Urban Affairs, Manoj Kumar, Additional Secretary, Professor PSN Rao from DUAC, besides leading architects and artists were also present on the occasion.
“The intention today is to have an interactive session.  This is not intended as a one-off meeting but one designed to commence an interactive process. Besides celebrating the nation’s cultural diversity, public art should aesthetically celebrate the country’s rich cultural heritage with national, regional and local themes,” Mr Puri said. 
“In many national capitals of the world, public spaces are seen as an opportunity for displaying creative art work.  Such creative and artistic works not only beautify the city but also capture its soul. 
“They not only enhance the aesthetics of public spaces but also raise the stature of the city in the eyes of the visitors and have great potential to boost tourism.  Such public art also strengthens the affinity a resident of the city feels for the city,” he added.
DUAC has come up with guidelines on public art which would help in encouraging the integration of art work with public projects. “When we have resolved to further develop Delhi as a world-class city with the state-of-the-art infrastructure and facilities to boost its potential for tourism as well as for holding world level conferences and seminars, there is no reason why we should not make creative public art as an essential component for all our works,” he said. 
“We have a vast reservoir of talent in the form of creative artists, sculptors, painters and designers who have made their name the world over by designing such public art, whenever they have been offered an opportunity to do so.  We need to tap this vast potential to beautify Delhi in the first instance and thereafter carry the movement forward to other cities and towns of the country,” he added.
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‘Rashtriya Sanskriti Mahotsav-2018’ inaugurated in Karnataka

The 7th edition of ‘Rashtriya Sanskriti Mahotsav-2018’ was inaugurated here on January 14 by Union Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Ananth Kumar and Union Minister of State for Culture Mahesh Sharma.
Mr Ananth Kumar said organizing such a unique cultural event gave people from different regions a chance to showcase their talent, artworks and delicacies on one platform. “The Ministry of Culture plays a very important role in preserving our rich cultural heritage and in uniting our country,” he added.
Dr Mahesh Sharma said, “We are delighted to bring to you our beloved Prime Minister Narendra Modi's vision of a strong and united India with respect and appreciation of multicultural and respect for each other's rich cultural heritage exemplified by ‘Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat’ programme through Rashtriya Sanskriti Mahotsav 2018, a cultural festival that will powerfully revive India’s heritage, like never before.
“The event brings together the art, artisans, dance, handicrafts, flavours and music from different regions, making itself the largest ensemble of Indian culture. While this event introduced and connected country’s youth to the various facets of our rich and vibrant culture, it also gives people from different regions a chance to showcase their talent, artworks and delicacies at a larger-than-life podium,” he added.
The inaugural day of the 7-day festival witnessed soulful performances including  Pandvani by Teejan Bai and Vedic chants and Bhajans by Krishna Kant Shukla and fusion performances of more than 350 folk artists, highlighting different dance forms, including folk and tribal.
As a part of Rashtriya Sanskriti Mahotsav Dr Sharma also inaugurated an exhibition at National Gallery of Modern Art on Nicholas Roerich, a Russian artist, writer, theosophist and archaeologist who lived and died in the Himalayas.
The Mahotsav will be spread across the following cities in Karnataka beginning with Bengaluru from January 14 to 16, Hubli-Dharwad, on January 17-18 and Mangaluru, on  January 19-20.
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7th ‘Rashtriya Sanskriti Mahotsav-2018’ from January 14-20 in Karnataka

To celebrate the idea of unity in diversity, the Ministry of Culture is organising the 7th edition of the Rashtriya Sanskriti Mahotsav (National Cultural Festival) under the Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat matrix in Karnataka beginning tomorrow.
Union Minister for Chemicals and Fertilisers and Parliamentary Affairs Ananth Kumar and Union Minister of State for Culture Mahesh Sharma will inaugurate the Mahotsav at the Jnana Jyothi Auditorium, Palace Road, Gandhi Nagar, Bengaluru.
The ‘Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat’ programme was launched by the Prime Minister on  October 31, 2016, to promote engagement among the people of different States/UTs so as to enhance mutual understanding and bonding between people of diverse cultures, thereby securing stronger unity and integrity of India.
The State paired with Karnataka is Uttarakhand. The Mahotsav will cover a profusion of art forms from classical and folk, music and dance, theatre to literature and the visual arts and would offer the chance to experience the best in established and emerging virtuosity. A Handloom and Handicrafts Utsav is part of the event. The gastronomic culture of several partnering states will be showcased through a food festival.
The Mahotsav will be spread across venues in Bengaluru from January 14–16, Hubli–Dharwad on January 17–18 and Mangaluru on January 19–20.
Cultural Utsavs will be held at all the venues in Karnataka. In addition to the cultural fiesta, a gamut of events have been planned for the Mahotsava in Bengaluru.
At the Manikyavelu Mansion (National Gallery of Modern Art), an exhibition will be held on Nicholas Roerich, a Russian artist, writer, theosophist and archaeologist who lived and died in the Himalayas.  
A slide–talk presentation on artists from Uttarakhand will be held on January 15 between 5.00 pm – 6.00 pm.
At the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, (Southern Regional Centre), an exhibition on Uttarakhand will be held, curated by IGNCA, New Delhi.
Screening of films on Almora Ramleela and Pandavleela  will be held at the Jnana Jyothi Auditorium (main venue) between 3.00pm – 5.00pm. ‘Celebrating our plural traditions, Ek Bharat Shrestha Bharat’ will be held from  7 p.m. – 10 p.m.
A Handloom and Handicraft Utsav will be organised by the Zonal Cultural Centres in partnership with state governments. Live demonstration of different crafts from Uttarakhand will be held at the main venue.
A Food Festival with 6 traditional cuisines from different states with a special focus on Uttarakhand will be held from 4 p.m. – 10 p.m.
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Airtel, Amazon join hands to offer one year of Amazon Prime membership with Airtel Infinity post-paid plans

Telecom services provider Bharti Airtel and Amazon India today said they had come together to offer Airtel's post-paid customers with an Infinity plan of Rs. 499 or above a one-year Amazon Prime membership.
The membership, worth Rs. 999, includes unlimited access to Amazon Prime Video, as part of their plan benefits (at no additional cost), a press release from Airtel said.
Customers can watch and enjoy Amazon Prime Video and have access to over 11 million Prime eligible products, early and exclusive deals, special discounts and more, while shopping on as part of the Prime membership provided with their post-paid plan. 
The offer for one year of Amazon Prime is activated exclusively through the Airtel TV app.  Access to Prime Video is available after downloading the Prime Video app on supported devices to begin streaming a broad selection of the latest and exclusive movies, TV shows, stand-up comedies, kids’ programming and Amazon Prime Originals. 
“We are thrilled to come together with Airtel to make Amazon Prime benefits directly available to more customers,” said Akshay Sahi, Director and Head of Amazon Prime India. “This move enables seamless access to Amazon Prime for Airtel Postpaid customers, providing a world of new video streaming content and more. We think subscribers will love the many benefits of Prime, including the latest binge-worthy Amazon Prime Video content, unlimited free fast delivery on millions of items, exclusive deals on top products, and more.”
Sameer Batra, CEO - Wynk said, “This partnership is a major milestone in Airtel’s endeavour to build a world-class content platform. With Airtel TV, we are stepping up the value proposition and offering a complete digital entertainment experience to our Postpaid and Home Broadband users. By making Prime Video available to our customers for a year at no additional cost, Airtel TV is now able to offer one of the largest and most exciting entertainment experiences. We look forward to working with Amazon to delight customers with great benefits backed by a seamless experience.”  
Vijay Subramaniam, Director, Content, Amazon Prime Video India, said, “We are delighted to associate with Airtel to bring Prime membership to Airtel’s consumers.  At Amazon Prime Video, we are focused on bringing the latest and exclusive content to India.  This exclusive offer enables us to reach Airtel’s significant customer base across the country, providing entertainment - anytime, anywhere on a reliable service, with great playback quality and low data usage.”
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KKR-backed Emerald Media acquires controlling stake in Cosmos-Maya

Ketan Mehta
Ketan Mehta
Emerald Media, the pan-Asia company backed by leading global investment firm KKR, today announced that it had acquired a controlling stake in Cosmos-Maya, the India-based market leader in IP-led Indian kids' animation content, through a combination of primary and secondary stake acquisition.
The capital from this investment will help the company with strategic growth initiatives and creating global IPs to further increase its footprint across the world, a press release from Emerald Media said.
Promoted by internationally acclaimed Indian filmmakers Ketan Mehta and Deepa Sahi, Cosmos-Maya pioneered the art and technology of animation and visual effects in India.  Over the last five years, the company has produced a record 1000+ half-hour segments of animated content. Today, it has multiple ongoing productions with major television and digital platforms, including Viacom18, Disney Networks, Turner International, Sony Pictures Network, Discovery Networks, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and ALT Balaji, the release said.
The creators of the Motu Patlu animation series, a popular Indian kids’ show, Cosmos-Maya has an impressive line-up of nine TV shows on air including Shiva, Eena Meena Deeka, Kisna, ViR - The Robot Boy, Guru Aur Bhole, Chacha Bhatija, Tik Tak Tail and Selfie with Bajrangi. 
The company is also working on three international co-productions — Captain Cactus, Atchoo! and Help Me Ganesha — in different stages of production and development. 
The release said Cosmos-Maya targets audiences globally through its own YouTube channel, WowKidz, which has already become one of the fastest-growing channels for kids’ content with over 2 million active subscribers and over 2 billion cumulative views since its launch in 2016.
Mehta, Founder and Managing Director, Cosmos-Maya said, “The vision for Cosmos-Maya has always been to become a cutting-edge media technology company creating quality Indian content for the global market. The company will benefit greatly with a partner like Emerald Media which has a strong understanding of the entertainment, broadcast and OTT space. Through the capital infused, the company intends to develop international projects while leveraging the media relationships of Emerald to expand its global footprint.”
Rajesh Kamat
Rajesh Kamat
Rajesh Kamat, Managing Director of Emerald Media, said, “Cosmos-Maya has created and owns the content for some of the most popular kids’ shows and hence has its finger on the pulse of a very captive and influential audience. With the company now focused on the development of content, that crosses geographies, it is poised for growth on a global stage — not to mention the added opportunity of brand expansion and merchandising for its properties. This investment is a great addition to Emerald Media’s growing portfolio as it aligns with our vision of creating an ecosystem that caters to audiences of all age groups.”
Paul Aiello, Managing Director of Emerald Media, added, “Cosmos-Maya has made great strides in the animation space in the past few years. Their original shows have been huge successes and have paved the way for original Indian content to compete on a global platform. This investment will help Cosmos-Maya achieve its exciting growth potential.”
 Anish Mehta, the CEO of Cosmos-Maya said, "With its successful and sizeable IP bank, strong business associations, a passionate team and the constant quest for quality — combined with the capital, domain knowledge and management bandwidth that Emerald Media brings on board — Cosmos-Maya is now poised for a global 360-degree approach to grow and monetize its brands through content, media, marketing, distribution, licensing and retail to markets, for kids across the world.”
KPMG advised the company on the transaction, the release added.

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Bharti Airtel rolls out new version of Airtel TV app

Telecom services provider Bharti Airtel today said it had launched a new version of its Airtel TV app with a wider content bouquet and a new user interface. 
"The OTT app is designed to deliver the best-in-class entertainment experience to customers in India’s fast growing smartphone market," a press release from the company said.
The release said Airtel TV app now had one of the widest content portfolios with over 300 LIVE TV channels, including 29 HD channels, to go with 6000 plus movies and popular shows. A large catalogue of regional content has also been incorporated to cater to the preferences of regional customers, it said.
Airtel also announced that the entire content catalogue on Airtel TV is available to its Postpaid and Prepaid users on a free subscription basis till June 2018. Airtel customers simply need to download and install the Airtel TV app on their smartphones and enjoy the experience. Airtel TV app is available on iOS and Android platforms, it said.
Mr. Sameer Barta, CEO, Wynk said, “We are thrilled to introduce the latest version of Airtel TV with great content and an improved, intuitive User Interface. The improvements to the app are a result of constantly listening to our customers and taking their feedback to the design table. We believe that we have built an app for India’s needs and backed it with a large and exciting content catalogue to serve the fastest growing screen – the smartphone.”
The release said Airtel TV app continued to expand its content catalogue to bring great content from India and across the world to its users. Airtel TV is building a world-class partner ecosystem to curate and offer digital content from all leading platforms at one place. Currently, Airtel TV has partnerships with Eros Now, SonyLIV and HOOQ, with several more on the anvil.
Airtel TV’s portfolio of 300 plus live TV channels includes offerings across GEC, Movies, News and Infotainment genres from the stables of Zee, Sony, NDTV, Gemini, Sun TV and others.
Further, users can choose from over 6000 Hollywood and Bollywood blockbusters, Indian regional films plus a host of Indian and international TV shows.
The app now offers content in 15 languages – English, Hindi, Punjabi, Bengali, Gujarati, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi, Bhojpuri, Assamese, Odia, French and Urdu.
"Airtel TV app ensures its users never miss out on their favourite TV shows and live telecasts, wherever they are. With its Time Shift feature for live TV, Airtel TV allows users to simply scroll back live feeds and catch their favourite telecast even if they have logged in late. Just like on TV, the app allows users to check what’s available on other channels or search for more programmes, without pausing what they are watching. Users can also catch-up on content aired over the past seven days for select shows.
"Airtel TV app comes with product upgrades to deliver an even better user experience. Customers can search for the content of their choice on the Airtel TV app with smart search filters across languages, genres, rating and content partners. This makes content discovery a truly delightful experience on the app," the release added.
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Karnataka only state to provide facilities for regional branch of National School of Drama

Karnataka is the only state to provide space for setting up a regional centre of the National School of Drama (NSD), the Lok Sabha was informed yesterday.
Minister of State for Culture Dr Mahesh Sharma said in a written reply during Question Hour that the Broad-Based Committee (Vision Committee) set up by the National School of Drama (NSD) Society in February 2005, inter-alia, had recommended opening of five regional centres of the NSD across the country.
On the basis of these recommendations, a decision was taken to establish Five Regional Centres during the 11th Five Year Plan period (2007-2012), one each at Kolkata, Mumbai/Goa, Jammu & Kashmir, and North-East besides upgrading the existing Regional Resource cum Research Centre, Bengaluru to a full-fledged regional centre.
These regional centres were to be established in consultation with concerned State Governments, who were required to provide land and accommodation for the purpose.
Karnataka had provided space in 2013 at Bengaluru for the purpose where a training course is being organized by NSD. Currently, the Bengaluru centre is running a one-year course on dramatic arts, he said.
Jammu & Kashmir and Assam governments have been reminded about providing the accommodation for the purpose of opening of NSD’s regional centre but there has been no response from them so far, he added.
As far as the opening of NSD’s centre at Mumbai is concerned, the requisite space has yet not been located in spite of an advertisement issued in 2016 in the leading newspapers. An effort is also being made with Maharashtra’s Department of Culture to provide the requisite space.
In so far as the opening of a new centre of NSD at Kolkata is concerned, as per the observations made by the Department Related Parliamentary Standing Committee on Transport, Tourism and Culture, the Ministry of Culture had taken up the matter with various organizations under its control at Kolkata for providing accommodation for a new centre.
NSD had also requested them to intimate if they could provide a suitable accommodation to the NSD for the purpose. However, the organizations have shown their inability to provide any accommodation, the Minister said.

Exhibition on Ramayana tradition ‘Leela’ in Delhi extended till December 28

An exhibition on the Ramayana tradition titled “Leela” being held here, has been extended till December 28.
The exhibition at the Twin Art Gallery, Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA) presents the Ramayana with a difference. It is not merely a retelling of the story of Dasharathi Rama but explores some fundamental categories of Indian thoughts such as Brahman, Shabda, Dhwani, Nama, Rupa and so on.
It then moves on to explore the multiplicity of Katha traditions and the Ram Lila leading into bhakti and finally merging with the great silent cosmic void, the Maha Mauna.
More than 21 museums all across the country are participating in the exhibition by loaning precious and rare exhibits from their collections. The exhibition has specifically designed installations to explain abstract philosophical concepts.
One of the highlights of the exhibition is the items from the collection of Kashi Naresh of Banaras and original Ram Leela paraphernalia from the world acclaimed Ramnagar Ram Leela.
Private collectors, individual artists and scholars have also loaned their objects and art creations for the exhibition.
Rare handwritten manuscripts, stone and bronze sculptures, terracotta panels, rare miniature paintings, folk and tribal traditions, textiles, audio-visual projections and multi-media presentations are on display.
More than 50 versions of Ram Katha and Ram Leela can be viewed in the audio-visual projection room. Manuscripts can be flipped through in the form of E-books.
Audio-visual projections of ‘Nakkataiya’ of Banaras, ‘Agra Barat’, ‘Nati Imli Bharat Milap’ are other highlights of the exhibition.
South East Asian traditions are explored through masks and puppets. Rare Chitrakathi paintings, wooden and clay dolls of Mysore and Andhra Pradesh, Kalamkaris, Patachitra of Odisha, Patua scrolls of West Bengal, Kavad, the wooden storytelling boxes of Rajasthan to explore the multiplicity of Ramayana traditions.
Folk and tribal musical instruments fill the dhwani section. In the Shabda section, you can listen to hymns of Rig Veda in the enchanting voice of Subhadra Desai.
Miniature paintings, oleographs and rare stone sculptures, terracotta panels explore the aesthetic form, Rupa.
Ramnama data bank copies, calligraphy, Mandalas, Mantras, Yantras, Ramnamavatis are on display in the Akara and Nama section. Specifically created music, sound and light make the exhibition an experiential journey.

Malayalam actress Lissy resumes acting career after 25 years

Lissy, a popular Malayalam actress of yesteryears, has announced her return to an acting career after a gap of 25 years, saying that she regretted quitting movies at the age of 22.
"Many of my friends and well wishers have been asking me for quite some time whether I will come back to movies. Well!!! I can now confirm that after over 25 years of absence I am acting in a Telugu movie. 
"The movie, yet to be titled, is produced by Telugu star Pavan Kalyan, ace director Thrivikram Srinivas and Sudhakar Reddy, directed by Krishna Chaitanya and has Nithiin and Megha in the lead," Lissy said on her Facebook page. She said she was playing a significant character in the movie.
She said that, after so many years of absence, she had faced the camera for the first time in New York.
"It was a nervous yet thrilling moment. I must say I had missed it!!! We just finished the first schedule in America and second in Conoor. The movie is scheduled to be released early next year. 
"Before I quit acting I had a short but very successful tenure in Telugu. I did 8 movies in Telugu and out of that 6 went on to be super hits which included Magaadu and 20va Satabdham, the remakes of Malayalam movies Moonnam Mura and Irupatham Noottandu, respectively. To be honest I was sad to leave Telugu industry at that time but I had no choice. So when it came to acting I always felt kind of an 'unfinished business' with Telugu cinema," she said.
Lissy said she had, in the last three years, heard several subjects in Malayalam, Tamil and Telugu and finally chose this as her comeback movie.
"I had a wonderful experience during both the schedules. The entire crew was very supportive and shooting was lots of fun! The entire crew welcomed me back with both arms and made me feel like I was never away. Most of the offers I had was from Malayalam and I certainly hope to do a Malayalam movie soon. Likewise, having lived more than half of my life in Chennai I consider myself as half Tamilian and it will be an honour to do a Tamil movie at some point. In fact Gautham Menon has mentioned a subject, which we will discuss once he finishes his current projects.
"Managing my studios and preview theaters remains my priority but I may do one or two movies per year if the roles are interesting. Quitting acting at the age of 22 when I had my bag full of movies was a decision I always regretted. Obviously I cannot get back my lost years or the roles I may have had but I certainly hope to do my best in this second innings. Thanks for all your support," she added.
Lissy had quit acting after her marriage to well-known film director Priyadarshan in December 1990 and adopted the name Lakshmi. The couple divorced in September 2016.
She had made her debut in films in the  early 1980s and very soon became on of the top young actresses of that time. Some of her popular films include Chithram, Thalavattom, Odaruthammava Alariyam, Muthaaramkunnu P.O and Boeing Boeing. 
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