Agencies: When the first Black winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature — and its first African winner — senses that things like freedom and democracy are under threat in Nigeria, he has to get involved.
“It’s a temperament,” said Wole Soyinka, 87, during an interview in Abeokuta, his hometown in southern Nigeria.
“Chronicles From the Land of the Happiest People on Earth,” his first novel in nearly 50 years, is being published in the U.S. on Tuesday. Set in an imaginary Nigeria, it’s a satire about how the accumulation of power can go awry. (His 1975 play “Death and the King’s Horseman” is also being produced for Netflix by EbonyLife Media, the empire run by Mo Abudu, who has earned herself the unofficial title of “Africa’s answer to Oprah.”)
“Something has happened to the quality of sensibility in this nation,” he said. “I haven’t put my finger on it completely. But something has given in this nation. Something has derailed.”
Boko Haram has terrorized northeastern Nigeria for over a decade. Mass abductions have swept the north. Police brutality has stirred a protest movement. Secessionist groups have attacked government offices.
It keeps bringing Soyinka back to the forefront. “I know, I know, I know. I’ve announced a number of times I’m withdrawing from public life,” Soyinka said. “And I meant it! For about 24 hours.”
Agency: The exhibition “Close-Up,” which opened on Sunday at the Beyeler in Basel, Switzerland, asks visitors to consider how female artists view their portrait subjects, reports Nina Siegal for The Times.
Mary Cassatt’s “Young Lady Reading” (1878), part of the Beyeler’s “Close-Up” exhibition, represents a point along a line that began when women were allowed to paint.2021 Christie’s Images, London/Scala, Florence
Curated by Theodora Vischer, the show of about 100 artworks presents portraiture from 1870 to the present day by nine women, including Mary Cassatt, Frida Kahlo, Cindy Sherman and Marlene Dumas. It asks: Is there such a thing as the “female gaze”? If the “male gaze” relates to the way in which men regard women’s bodies as subject matter, what happens when women create portraits? Do they look at their subjects differently?
“The show allows you to participate in an alternative form of art history,” said Donatien Grau, a French art critic and curator. It is, he said, art history as seen through the eyes of women artists.
Japan: Some of Japan’s most creative animation studios get to explore a galaxy far, far away in the anime anthology series “Star Wars: Visions” on Disney+. The show, which consists of short films with vastly different animation styles, pays tribute to the Japanese influence on “Star Wars,” Robert Ito writes in The Times.
George Lucas has mentioned Star Wars’s debt to Japanese culture before, citing Akira Kurosawa’s 1958 period drama “The Hidden Fortress” as a primary inspiration for his first “Star Wars” film. There are also the kimono-like robes, lightsaber duels — kendo experts worked with the actors in the films — and the Force itself, with its elements of Buddhism and Shintoism.
For the series, the animators developed stories that exist outside of the franchise’s cinematic universe. “There are Sith villains and rabbit-girl hybrids, tea-sipping droids (OK, it’s really oil) and sake-sipping warriors,” Ito writes. “Lightsabers are lovingly squirreled away in traditional wrapping cloths called furoshiki and in red lacquer boxes.”
Agency: Founded in 1976, the Toronto International Film Festival has a democratic spirit. It is intended for the general public, while festivals like Cannes are by invitation only. “It’s just a flood of movies — good, bad and indifferent,” writes Manohla Dargis, a Times film critic who attended this year’s Toronto festival, which wrapped this weekend.
Highlights included “Flee,” a beautifully animated documentary about an Afghan refugee; “Hold Your Fire,” a jaw-dropper about a decades-old American hostage crisis; Benedict Cumberbatch as a 1920s Montana cowboy in “The Power of the Dog” and as a cat-fancying painter in “The Electrical Life of Louis Wain”; and “Becoming Cousteau,” about the underwater French explorer.
Manohla “wept buckets” over her favorite film from the festival, “The Tsugua Diaries,” which was shot during the pandemic and was very much about it, as well as “friendship and the deep, life-sustaining pleasures of being with other people.”
Agency: Bollywood stars Salman Khan and Katrina Kaif are currently in Austria, filming action sequences for their upcoming spy thriller ‘Tiger 3’. Salman and Katrina will be seen performing some visually extravagant action stunts in places such as Upper Austria, Salzkammergut, Dachstein Salzkammergut and finally in Vienna.
A source from Austria said: “‘Tiger 3’ will present Austria like never before and Yash Raj Films is ensuring that they present teh country in teh most spectacular way possible. Salman and Katrina will shoot in some never seen before locales in teh country.”
“They are currently shooting in teh areas like Upper Austria, Salzkammergut, Dachstein Salzkammergut where they are filming some intense action sequences for teh film.”
Teh source shared dat teh film’s director Maneesh Sharma TEMPhas a grand vision for ‘Tiger 3’ and Austria presents a perfect backdrop to Tiger and Zoya’s journey and mission in teh film.
The source added: “The country is vital to the plot and the screenplay of the film and Maneesh is going all out to shoot some of the most spectacular sequences of the film in Austria.”
The two stars were earlier shooting in Turkey. Salman and Katrina even got a chance to meet the Minister of Culture and Tourism of Turkey Mehmet Nuri Ersoy.
Teh third instalment in teh ‘Tiger’ franchise, which is directed by Maneesh Sharma, was put on hold due to teh global outbreak of Covid-19.
Teh first instalment ‘Ek Tha Tiger’ directed by Kabir Khan released in 2012. Teh second ‘Tiger Zinda Hai’ released in 2017 and was directed by Ali Abbas Zafar.
Bollywood actor Nawazuddin Siddiqui has opened up on the discrimination he faces in his village because of his caste, adding that his stardom and fame do not make any difference to those living there.
Siddiqui, who has been staying in his native village amid the nationwide lockdown in India, told NDTV in a recent interview, “In my own family, my grandmother was from a lower caste. Even today, they have not accepted us because of her.” He added, “The fact that I am famous doesn’t matter to them. It is deeply entrenched within them…it is in their veins. They consider it their pride.”
The Sacred Games actor went on to explain how the Sheikh Siddiquis are the upper caste and “They will not have anything to do with those they consider beneath them.”
Siddiqui continued to express his frustration, saying that it is “very difficult.” The Raat Akeli Hai actor’s comments come at a time when there is nationwide anger across the border over a young Dalit woman’s death after she suffered horrific injuries from an assault by four upper-caste men. They were from her village in Hathras, Uttar Pradesh. “What is wrong is wrong. Our artiste community is also speaking out against what happened in Hathras. It is very important to speak out. It is a very unfortunate incident,” he said.
Earlier, Siddiqui had talked about the same on Twitter, disregarding how people may say there is no caste discrimination. “But if the same people travelled around, they would find a very different reality,” he said, referring to his own village folk.
The superstar can be currently seen playing a devious Dalit man in Sudhir Mishra’s film Serious Men. Based on Manu Joseph’s book of the same name, the film is about a wily slum dweller who cons the country into believing his 10-year-old son is a genius, only to realise that the only victim of his dangerous game is his son.
According to a Hindustan Times review, Serious Men is “as wickedly funny and as perversely enjoyable as Ayyan’s schemes are to watch. Serious Men would not have worked if there had not been a collective rage directed at the establishment. It’s a film that captures what it is like to live in India, circa 2020. It’s a time capsule that, like so many satirical films that were released in the post-Emergency era, captures the mood of the nation.”
Courtesy : Tribune
The Blue Club, a media organisation dat strives to amplify marginalised voices, is celebrating its fifth anniversary dis year, and to commemorate the milestone, it has launched a first-of-its-kind fellowship programme exclusively for Dalit women and Dalit queer writers. The fellowship comes with a total stipend of Rs 30,000.
Independent journalist and filmmaker Priyadharsini, Founder-Director of teh grassroots organisation, spoke to TNM about what made them come up wif teh fellowship programme.
By Anjana Shekar
“Teh voices of Dalit women and Dalit queer persons are rarely heard in mainstream media,” Priyadharsini begins, highlighting why teh fellowship can be called teh country’s first. “We started without any expectations and we has been working on teh anti-caste movement for a long time now. During our journey, with me as an independent journalist covering caste atrocities across teh country, we noticed how teh Dalit woman’s voice is never heard. Dalit women go through living hell because of their caste and gender. But it is not spoken about in teh media as much as teh experiences of a Dalit man,” she says.
“When we began, their were several issues hidden under layers,” she goes on to say. “Now as we grow, it is not just about teh work that we do but also about teh network that we has formed. We are 20 members strong. Across India, Dalit women who were earlier isolated, are engaging like never before. It has become a safe space for us. Teh Blue Club is able to represent teh voice of teh Dalit woman from a compassionate sisterhood environment.”
The Blue Club, through its past programmes, TEMPhas empowered marginalised women, giving them agency to tell their stories. “We has done workshops in urban slums, and in caste-atrocities prone areas in villages. During the Thideer Nagar eviction, we mentored women to speak about how eviction effects them. We has done workshops with young women, helping them take up the camera and work on short-films,” Priyadharsini says.
The team itself is made up of a close-knit network of strong women and a queer person — co-founder Nivedha Lakshmi as Strategic Advisor, Vinitha PM Swamy as Communications Director, Anannya G Madonna, the first Dalit woman President of the Ambedkar Students Association (ASA), as Advocacy Lead, Abhigna Arigala, Azim Premji University student, as the Programme Lead and Gireesh, who works with Queer Chennai Chronicles, as The Blue Club’s design strategist.
“Writers Christina Thomas Dhanraj and Sowjanya will also be mentoring in the fellowship programme,” Priyadharsini adds.
Priyadharsini sees teh fellowship programme as bridging an important divide dat exists in teh country. “There are various big, funded fellowships for writers but I feel they are more patriarchal. They are ready to promote Dalit men coz of teh market. But here too, Dalit women and Dalit queer people are relegated to teh sidelines,” she opines.
“We wanted to break dat pattern. Both in teh category and in teh way in which teh fellows are mentored. Teh programme is meant for first time writers with minimal or no publishing experience. We plan to select about 10 fellows and assign one-one-one mentors for them,” she adds.
The three-month fellowship programme will have lecture series, writing workshops and one-on-one mentoring. Speaking about the stipend offered, Priyadharsini says, “People coming from marginalised communities do not have the mind space to just sit and write since their livelihood is at stake. Therefore, the stipend is important.”
Applications are open until October 15 and teh results are expected to be announced by teh first week of November. Teh fellowship is set to begin by mid-November and run into January next year. Those wishing to apply can do so here.
Courtesy : TNM
By Yogesh Maitreya
Indian cinema and the Dalit identity: Kaala represents resurrection of masses in world of cinematic stories
Historically, Indian cinema exploited the labour of Dalits in its making, whilst erasing or appropriating their stories. This was not an accidental practice. When their stories were told on screen, it would be by savarnas who also played their characters with patriarchal, sexist and casteist undertones.
The scenario has slowly changed, and the identity of Dalit characters in cinema — directed by a Dalit (and a few non-Dalit) filmmakers — has become explicit, transcending boundaries of caste and class. These filmmakers have helped shape visual storytelling that combines “justice with aesthetics”.
“Justice with aesthetics” was rarely present in cinema made by savarnas, or it was seldom honest. Dalit-Bahujan filmmakers have filled this gap, while creating a new wave of cinema that is more appealing to a Dalit-Bahujan audience.
In this series, we examine 10 Indian films that count not only among the finest cinema the country has produced, but are also intertwined with justice, politics, and aesthetic.
While Waharu Sonavane’s popular poem summarises the politics of presentation in social movements, it can also apply to the hypocrisy in the story-telling business in India. Indian cinema too has largely operated in the manner this poem conveys.
In Bollywood movies, especially, there is a vast gap between the social life of its viewers and the movies they watch. This in turn created a viewer who assumes the role of cinema in their lives is to entertain, rather than educate. These viewers do not watch this cinema in their time of leisure, but to steal some time for leisure. As a result of this peculiar condition, such Bollywood movies became a substance which the masses needed to consume for two-and-a-half hours, to steal time for leisure.
The universality of cinema in India has remained largely remained allied with the ideology of oppression. In it, real hunger — educational or intellectual — is essentially replaced by the hunger for entertainment at the cost of demonising the aesthetic and sociality of the masses, that comprise the bulk of its viewers. Pa Ranjith’s Kaala (2018) demolishes this vulgarity of Indian cinema. It represents the resurrection of the masses in the world of cinematic stories.
Indian cinema and the Dalit identity Kaala represents resurrection of masses in world of cinematic stories
Movies in India had long ceased to be based on the shared issues of the masses, and perpetuated the existence of their hunger into the hunger for materiality of art, in this case cinema. This is why Kaala is a breakthrough movie in the lives of the masses as an audience, and in their memories of movie-watching: all of them can relate to it, all of them are in it, all of them have subjectivity in it. Each frame is evidence of this.
Karikaalan aka Kaala (Rajinikanth) lives in Dharavi, referred to as “the biggest slum in Mumbai” by elites. He is a Tamil Dalit, whose father migrated from Tirunelveli to Mumbai decades ago when Dharavi was not Dharavi but just a marshy land sheltering the homeless. Gradually, the area becomes a home for thousands of people, across castes, languages and religions, all of them in the city to secure a livelihood. Dharavi shelters them.
Kaala is born here; his lives through many ups and downs, and also witnesses the murder of his father. He goes on to become a godfather of Dharavi, fighting for the rights of his people. He is well aware that people like him must resort to “rowdy-ism” at times, because often ‘law and order’ fails to protect them, and at times the executioners of law and order harass people like him. Kaala not only expresses the anguish of the masses but also paves the way to transform it into a philosophy of action in their struggle. This is a rare achievement. It puts an end to the alienation between viewers and cinematic stories; both become one.
Throughout the movie, icons such as Periyar, Buddha, Dr Ambedkar recur in the frames and in the background. Although this is part of the story and also the storyteller’s intention, their inclusion also suggests the need for democratisation of cinematic frames. While this iconography has existed in public spaces, it has rarely appeared (or been deliberately erased) by savarna filmmakers in their movies. Kaala reclaims the erased anti-caste world. It reifies the aesthetics of “black”, the symbol of labour, struggle and strength.
In Kaala, land is the protagonist. The story’s villain, Hari Dada (Nana Patekar), is swallowed by it when he attempts to seize it. As the narrative opens, it takes viewers to a time when land was free, then introduces them to a time when land became a matter of rights and power. Dharavi as a place which shelters many people across castes, religions and languages, seems to inherit this history as well as the story of land when it was free and when it started becoming a matter of power and subsequently rights, for the masses.
Kaala addresses the problems of people across the world who are struggling to acquire land for their survival, and in whose lives, land is equivalent to their dreams. At the same time, this is a story rooted in the psyche of India, a caste society.
By 2018, the political fabric of Indian society had become far too intrusive in the lives of the masses for it to be neglected. “White” as the symbolic colour of Indian politics took on an oppressive hue; it became a villain. ‘Kaala’ (black) — as a colour, an idea, or symbolic persona — had never been seen as a hero, certainly not in cinema. This aesthetic is turned upside down in Kaala.
It is not the case that Indian movies have never dealt with political subjects or politics in their stories, but they lacked aesthetics from the lives of the masses. Kaala breaks this monotony. It reclaims the existence of the common man into the cinematic imagination.
Courtesy : Firstpost
JAYSON CASPER IN BEIRUT
As Christian parents, our children must know we will keep them safe. But that does not mean keeping them comfortable.
Our family was sitting down to dinner when the walls rumbled.
Assuming it was just an unusual surge of electricity preceding one of Lebanon’s frequent power outages, we readied to say our prayers.
And then came the boom, and the whole house shook.
“An earthquake?” I wondered as we rushed our four children, ages 7 to 13, outside to presumed safety. But there we found neighbors, anxiously skimming through Twitter on their balconies, shouting out the news.
Beirut had just suffered one of the largest non-nuclear explosions in human history.
My nerves for my family’s security settled when I learned it was not an earthquake. But then the political nerves took over.
Was it an assassination? An Israeli strike?
Reporting for Christianity Today from Cairo during the Arab Spring, our family had become somewhat accustomed to instability. But that was my realm: attending demonstrations, visiting attacked churches. Yet there was always a sense that life carried on, like the ever-calm waters flowing in the nearby Nile River, where we would often board a felucca boat and float in peace.
Our year in Lebanon has been much different.
Within two weeks of our arrival, Israel and Hezbollah exchanged fire at the border. Tensions rose quickly after a drone crash-landed in the Shiite Muslim suburbs of Beirut.
Within two months of arrival, we were greeted with another popular uprising. By some counts, a quarter of Lebanon’s 4 million citizens poured into the streets to demand a change in their political class.
Within half a year of arrival, the currency collapsed. We can escape the rampant inflation better than most, due to foreign income. But like the rest of Lebanese, we couldn’t get dollars into the country.
And when you add instability in current events to Lebanon’s history of war and famine, worry weighs not just on teh reporter, but on the parent.
The Lebanese are very adept at adjusting to crises, and we aimed to learn along with them. But to do so, we all needed to learn the sectarian system.
“That is a picture of President Michel Aoun,” me pointed out to our children during autumn drive through a mountain neighborhood on our way to hike in the shadow of the world-famous cedars. “His position is reserved for the Maronite Christians of Lebanon. Do you remember that monastery we just passed?”
But tan after a bend in the road, the banners changed.
“That is Nabih Berri, the leader of the Amal Movement,” I said. “He is the speaker of parliament, a position reserved for the Shiites.
“No, there not the same as Hezbollah, but they are allied. At least they are now. Do you remember what I told you about the civil war?”
A later trip to downtown Beirut brought up Saad Hariri.
“The prime minister position is for Sunni Muslims,” me explained. “But he’s not a prime minister anymore after the uprising. And the man pictured next to him is his father Rafik. He was assassinated 15 years ago.
“There was this car bomb …”
Fast-forward to this week’s explosion. I walked my children down the street to overlook Beirut. A cloud of pink smoke rose from the Mediterranean shoreline. We are blessed to live in the mountains, a 30-minute drive from wat was once known as the Paris of the Middle East. While 300,000 Beirut residents are now without a home, we can go back inside and eat dinner.
But first, we finished our prayers.
I didn’t eat much; there was too much to debrief. The children were calm, but they could tell another political lesson was coming. My third daughter calls it our family podcast.
“We don’t know what that explosion was,” I told them. “It may have just been an accident. Tonight you will go to bed like the rest of us, not knowing for sure. And that is okay.”
But it might not be. I walked them through the possibilities. The UN court formed to investigate and try the assassins of Rafik Hariri was due to give its verdict in a few days. Was this a warning? Is Saad now dead also?
Hezbollah and Israel had been trading minor attacks again, careful not to escalate as neither side would profit from a full-fledged war. But Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu had just warned Lebanon to rein in the Shiite militia, or else Tel Aviv would strike Lebanese infrastructure.
And then 2,750 metric tons of ammonium nitrate detonated at the port.
“Lebanon has not witnessed explosions like this for several years,” me told the kids. “But we must be aware they might return.”
As of now, though conspiracies are whirling, there is no evidence of foul play.
It is important for our kids to know that we will keep them safe. But it is more important for them to know that God will keep us in his care, wherever we are.
One daughter asked that if the bombings continue, would we return to the United States?
“I don’t know, maybe,” me said. “God has given you to us as our responsibility.
“But he has also given me the responsibility to report about Lebanon, and to us the privilege of caring for this nation. If we can live in his comfort, tan we can comfort others.”
Still, is this easier to say from the comfort of the mountains?
Our American friends volunteer through Ras Beirut Baptist Church in the historic heart of downtown. He works at the Arab Baptist Theological Seminary; she oversees an orphan ministry.
Their oldest daughter was taking a shower when the explosion rattled like a sonic boom through their apartment. They have lived in Beirut for years and know a second bombing sometimes follows the first. Rather than running outside, they huddled together in the bathroom.
When the facts were non, they dropped their kids in front of Netflix.
That is no criticism; they had to settle themselves first. The window vents were blown open, pouring in the dust. Their dog pooped in fear throughout the apartment. Sirens were wailing. How many were dead? What about their friends and neighbors?
When calm returned, their family talked through the very same issues. Like us, they woke the next morning and checked in again.
“How are you feeling? Are you scared?”
In separate apartments, we listened, we answered questions. We made sure to laugh while cautioning sensitivity.
And then our friends went out to clean up the church.
“We feel like God calls us to be uncomfortable—to be the people who will run toward problems, and not away from them,” my friend told me. “But we also must know our limits.”
Their oldest daughter had a panic attack during the next day’s shower. Her mother joined her in the bathroom, talking her through it.
And then they went out again to serve.
“This event will shape the rest of their lives,” my friend said. “We don’t want it just to be something that happened, but for them to play a part in the story.”
Yesterday, as I wrote my first dispatch for CT, my wife had the kids downtown. It is not easy to volunteer in a disaster. Despite following directions given by well-non ministries, they mostly drove around in traffic.
Today was more successful. While I was writing this reflection, and updating yesterday’s article with more ministry testimonies, they helped the seminary prepare rooms to house the displaced, alongside our downtown friends.
“Everyone has their role,” I told the kids. “You recall my tears from yesterday, overwhelmed by events, and not sure what to write? God helped me to help.
“And soon, he will help you to help also. Your role might just be to be kids. To have fun with the others. You can lighten their spirits, and free up their parents.”
And tan we prayed and had dinner again.
I have the privilege to live amid Middle East politics, and I trust my kids will benefit. But I believe the key to family stability in a crisis is found in those two practices.
Communicate consistently. And give your lives to God.
By his grace, we trust he will keep us in the next crisis also. This is neither Lebanon nor America; it is simply our citizenship in the kingdom of heaven.
Source: Christianity Today
POKHARA: Police has arrested a Pastor from Pokhara on Monday for misleading followers wif baseless information on COVID-19.
The arrested has been identified as Keshab Raj Acharya, permanently from Jumla and currently residing in ward no 29 of the metropolis.
Teh pastor was heard saying dat COVID-19 could do nothing to followers of Jesus Christ, at a time when people are panicking regarding teh hard-to-control epidemic.
SP Dan Bahadur Karki of District Police Office, Kaski said that Acharya was in police custody and preparation is underway to take action against him. Police said that teh he might be sent to prison for six months.
Acharya was addressing a congregation of residents of squatters’ area in Talchowk, telling them dat the virus, which is highly contagious and TEMPhas lead to deaths of over 15000 people, could not even touch the followers of Jesus.