Tuesday, 25 January 2022

Behind the rise of the Hindi dub of Telugu crime drama ‘Pushpa’, a long journey of hits and misses

 The Hindi version of film, starring Allu Arjun, has been an unexpected success.

What’s behind the success of the Hindi version of the Telugu movie Pushpa: The Rise? Sukumar’s crime drama was a slow starter in Telugu but an unexpected hit in Hindi. It has so far earned an estimated Rs 84.44 crore at the box office.

The Pushpa dub has connected with Hindi audiences in a way that even Kabir Khan’s cricket-themed 83 couldn’t. The December 17 release, the first in a two-part film, is now out on Amazon Prime Video.

The hero of the film, Allu Arjun, who at 39 is already a veteran of Telugu cinema, is being hailed as the latest crossover star. Prompted by this success, his 2020 movie Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo is being dubbed and hastily prepared for a January 26 release in Hindi markets. This despite the fact that an official remake, titled Shehzada and starring Kartik Aaryan, is underway.

There are several theories about Pushpa’s commercial triumph. The most persistent explanation is that the Telugu production has the elements that Hindi cinema has been missing of late – stylishly filmed big-screen entertainment, thrilling action scenes, and an ultramacho hero who, despite jigging with a bar dancer, is faithful to his beloved.

Pushpa’s titular hero is certainly an unreconstructed male riposte to Hindi cinema’s frequently metrosexual and plasticky leading men. My name might mean flower but I am fire, Pushpa growls during his battles with various gangsters and a police officer.

In the success of Pushpa and the Hindi dub of the Kannada crime drama KGF: Chapter 1 in 2018, there appears to be a nostalgia for Hindi films as they were perceived to be: a grand 70-mm package, simplistically plotted and morally uncomplicated, with heroes, heroines, villains and vamps who stick to their moulds rather than breaking out of them.

Is Pushpa’s success a passing fancy? A hunger for exotic fruit at a time when local produce isn’t as readily available? The fallout of at least three years of sustained propaganda against the Hindi film industry by Hindutva forces, which has led to what some observers describe as an “anti-Bollywood wave”? Or a significant shift in audience tastes that will further the cause of the pan-Indian movie?

The perils of film trade punditry were summarised by American humorist Will Rogers in an essay as early as 1928: “It’s the only business in the world that nobody knows anything about. Being in them don’t give any more of an inkling about them than being out of them.”

Whether or not Pushpa’s rise will have lasting effects, what is certain is that the film has benefitted from years of assiduous groundwork. For decades, filmmakers from India’s various movie industries have been mixing and matching ideas and talent in their eternal quest for the box-office hit.

Since the 1930s, movies in Telugu, Tamil and Bengali have been remade in Hindi. At the same time, Hindi hits were retooled in other languages. With a few changes in the setting and a fresh cast and music, a movie could appear as good as new.

The traffic between Mumbai, Chennai and Hyderabad has been the busiest and produced one of the earliest crossover stars. Vyjayanthimala’s Tamil films in the 1940s and 1950s were remade in Telugu and later in Hindi. She spoke her own lines in the Hindi versions, rather than relying on a dubbing artist. Several Tamil and Telugu actresses followed her to the Hindi film world, from Waheeda Rehman and Padmini to Sridevi and Jaya Prada.

The journey is typically easier for actresses. They play a relatively diminished role in the average Hindi film universe. Their energies are focused on looking beautiful and executing song-and-dance sequences, leading to an enduring showbiz legend that Southern actresses have Bharatanatyam in their blood.

The burden of shouldering a film’s narrative journey is nearly always borne by men who must look and sound the part. As a result, heroes from other language cinemas have found it more challenging to surmount the average Hindi filmgoer’s preference for clean-cut men with generic North Indian features and names.

The exceptions include Kamal Haasan and Rajinikanth in the 1980s. Ek Duuje Ke Liye (1981), K Balachander’s moneyspinning remake of his Telugu film Maro Charitra, briefly made Haasan a star in Mumbai.

Despite a few hits in the Hindi film world, though, Haasan remained a “Madrasi” – the pejorative term for just about anybody from the southern states. In Rajinikanth’s Hindi films, he was often a comic element with an undefinable accent and wondrous mannerisms.

The preference for women over men has been challenged by recent films. SS Rajamouli’s two-part blockbuster Baahubali (2015 and 2017), which was led by the Telugu actor Prabhas, the success of the Hindi dubbed version of the Kannada crime drama KFG, starring Yash, and Pushpa: The Rise indicate that an untested hero is no obstacle when a film is seen as compelling entertainment. If anything, the foreignness of the leads is part of the overall experience.

The true test of the Hindi filmgoer’s acceptance of non-normative heroes will be seen in the coming months with such films as Rajamouli’s RRR, led by Telugu stars Jr NTR and Ram Charan, and Puri Jagannadh’s Liger, made in both Telugu and Hindi and starring Vijay Devarakonda.

RRR and Liger have hedged their bets by casting Hindi talent – Alia Bhatt and Ajay Devgn in RRR and Ananya Panday in Liger. Not every film can be a Baahubali, which had only two actors familiar to Hindi audiences (Ramya Krishnan and Rana Daggubati). RRR and Liger also have universal themes – patriotism in the first, sports in the second.

The exercise can be pointless even when producers play it safe. Writer Ashokamitran, who worked in the publicity department of SS Vasan’s legendary Gemini Studios in Chennai, wrote about one such experiment in his memoir Fourteen Years with Boss.

“For the first time a Gemini film sported a real film star whom people in the north would readily recognise with a sigh or a gasp,” Ashokamitran writes with characteristic drollery about the Madhubala-starrer Bahut Din Huwe in 1954. (It didn’t work – the movie flopped.)

Two of the simplest ways to make South meet the Rest of India is dubbing or remaking a Southern hit in Hindi. When they work – Kabir Singh, the 2019 monster hit remake of Arjun Reddy, for example – they have been held up as further proof of Bollywood’s declining ability to come up with winnable material.

Dubbed movies have playing the role of introducing seasoned talent to new audiences. The success of Mani Ratnam’s Roja and Bombay in Hindi in the early 1990s are instances of how dubbing can break through barriers despite unknown faces and the visible mismatch between lip movements and dialogue.

Would Roja had worked if it didn’t have a nationalistic theme, didn’t explore Kashmiri militancy and didn’t have a score by AR Rahman? Similarly, if Bombay took Ratnam out of his comfort zone of Tamil Nadu,the movie’s setting was surely one of the reasons it clicked beyond the state.

Bombay’s exploration of the city’s worst communal riots following the destruction of the Babri mosque in Ayodhya by Hindutva mobs in 1992 – a national-level event – gave the movie a wider appeal. So did the casting of Hindi actress Manisha Koirala and yet another winning score by AR Rahman.

Dubbed films have also had a fruitful afterlife on television and YouTube. In the absence of quantifiable research, we have only anecdotal evidence and fan comments on YouTube videos to remind us that audiences can be more adventurous than filmmakers and trade pundits.

None of these efforts guarantee success for the remake or, that matter, the production simultaneously filmed in more than one language. Spurred on by Roja and Bombay, Mani Ratnam ambitiously filmed Aayuthu Ezuthu (2004) in Hindi as Yuva and Raavanan (2010) as Raavan. Despite casting Hindi actors, the remakes didn’t land with the same smoothness as Ratnam’s previous dubbed productions.

The joys of the culture-specific production, which defies the standardising compulsions of the all-India movie, can be preserved only through subtitling. But subtitling across the country’s many languages is even harder to pull off than dubbing.

The cult status accorded to such dubbed films as the Chiranjeevi-starrer Indra – The Tiger notwithstanding, there is no guarantee that a film made for a specific language culture will survive the journey to Hindi. There are several obstacles – the loss of specific cultural references, the quality of the Hindi dialogue and the dubbing, the lack of awareness about directors and actors who are stars in their own right. But when intent matches content, a blockbuster seems inevitable.

With so many remakes, dubbed films and subtitled films on streaming platforms and YouTube, it sometimes appears that the Hindi film industry is the one running low on ideas and imagination. The Bollywood obituary, which has been written over the years and is revised whenever there is a new controversy, ignores the fact that the traffic is two-way. If Hindi producers keep a close eye on Southern productions, Hindi films too are remade in southern languages.

Filmmakers yearn for a pan-Indian film to improve their earnings and increase their cultural footprint. Until that happens, they can best rely on the dubbed movie, which often provides a deceptively fresh look at dated material.

Apart from its filmmaking pizazz, little is actually new about Pushpa: The Rise and that’s possibly why it has worked. We’ve seen it before and we can’t remember where, but we go along because sometimes, familiarity breeds comfort.

(Source: Scroll)

Monday, 24 January 2022

Har Gobind Khorana is ours too

 A DAWN article on Har Gobind Khorana (1922-2011) threw me back 50 years when I, along with 600 other students had packed 26-100 (MIT’s largest lecture hall) to hear him speak. Being clueless of the basics of molecular biology, I understood little and left halfway through. Curiosity had driven me there because this famous MIT professor had won the 1968 Nobel Prize and started a brand new field — protein synthesis via nucleotides. More interestingly, he was a Lahori with bachelor and master’s degrees from Punjab University.

Alas! Lahore, to its misfortune, does not know — nor cares to know — who this man was. The same holds true for another of its sons, Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar (1910-1995), who became a Nobel Laureate in recognition of his definitive work on the death of stars. Today a Nasa satellite named Chandra scours the skies for neutron stars, black holes and other unusual astronomical objects.

The story of Abdus Salam (1926-1996) is too well known to repeat here. Winner of the 1979 physics Nobel, he studied at Government College (GC) Lahore and later taught at Punjab University. However, no road or landmark in Lahore bears Salam’s name — or that of Khorana and Chandrasekhar. While a GC affiliated institution called the Abdus Salam School for Mathematical Studies nominally exists, to display his name on its signboard could be dangerous in a city often gripped by religious fervour.

Less well known is the story of Chowla and Chawla. At GC there have been two mathematicians in number theory. One was Sarvadaman Chowla, an accomplished mathematician who headed the mathematics department from 1937 to 1947. Being Hindu, he left Lahore after the rioting began and went to Princeton University, then the University of Colorado at Boulder, and eventually became professor at the University of Pennsylvania. He died in 1995 and was celebrated as a famous number theorist by the American Mathematical Society with several important theorems to his name.

Unless Pakistanis learn to value the works of non-Muslims, science in Pakistan shall remain dead.

The other was Lal Muhammad Chawla who graduated from Oxford in 1955 and then taught at GC for many years. With rather modest professional achievements, he had only one well cited paper. As a Google search of his publications reveals, Chawla was more interested in writing religious books than advancing mathematics. However, the GC math society is named after Lal Muhammad Chawla and not the more famous and much more accomplished Sarvadaman Chowla. No Hindu scientist is celebrated in Pakistan.

Rejecting non-Muslims of high professional merit has come at devastating cost to Pakistan. For one, it lost those who could have helped the newborn country establish a scientific base. For another, it became difficult to create institutional meritocracies. After Partition, many clever ones played the religious or ethnic card and undeservedly rose to positions of high authority. In time they became institutional gatekeepers with catastrophic consequences.

The weakness of science education in Pakistan is too evident to belabour here. Unsurprisingly, our best and brightest young people usually go for soft stuff like medicine, law, and business. Unlike in China or India, hardly any opt for tough, demanding, scientifically oriented careers. So, how can we persuade our children towards them? What stories to tell them about science and scientists? Most importantly, who should be their role models?

This brings up a civilisational problem. Over the last 300 years — which is how old modern science is — there are no Muslim subcontinental names associated with first tier (Nobel calibre) scientific accomplishments (after 1974 Salam must be excluded). Notwithstanding the valiant efforts of Sir Syed Ahmad Khan (1817-1898), Indian Muslims shunned science and the English language. Thus, even at the distant second or third tier level, one finds barely a dozen names.

Since one cannot find Muslim science heroes who belong to the soil, books for Pakistani children inevitably valorise Arabs from the Golden Age such as Al-Battani, Ibn-e-Shatir, Ibn-e-Haytham, etc. While these luminaries of Muslim science were genuine path-breakers, they do not serve well as role models. For one, persons from centuries ago cannot inspire today’s children. For another, excitement is inspired by those ‘of your own kind’. Arabs, however, are visibly different from people around here.

Ancient Hindu scientists could have found some place in Pakistani books. However, they are excluded on ideological grounds because ‘woh hum main say nahin hain’ (they are not us). Instead, many Pakistanis anxiously seek ancestral roots in Arabia, Afghanistan and Central Asia. But modern laboratory tools are ripping apart dearly held myths of racial origins. Now several genetic marker studies are suggesting that the subcontinent’s Muslims have descended primarily from local Hindu converts with only a few per cent admixture of Arab or Central Asian genes. Excluding Hindu scientists from our books is absurd.

Ideology and science are like oil and water — they refuse to mix. Science cares only about facts and logic, not personal likes and dislikes. History is replete with examples of failed attempts to fuse science with cherished beliefs. When Stalin sought to impose his Marxist views upon Soviet biology through his chosen tout, Trofim Lysenko, he nearly destroyed agriculture and forestry.

Soviet Russia’s good fortune was that it had a scientific community robust enough to counter Lysenko’s meddling. Pakistan has not been so lucky. It has an abundance of charlatans pretending to be scientists but just a few who deserve to be called such. While there is a science ministry, several scientific bodies, and hundreds of institutions that purport to teach or do research in science, no community of genuine scientists exists. High-sounding scientific bodies — such as the Pakistan Academy of Sciences — are a joke. They command no respect internationally and should be dissolved.

Every kind of intellectual endeavour, science included, needs an enabling cultural and social environment to flourish. Science suffocates when scientists are judged by their religion, race, ethnicity or any criterion other than scientific achievement. Before Pakistan can produce any science worth the name, it will need to overcome its deeply held prejudices. It must learn to value all who share the common heritage of humankind. The day we count Khorana, Salam, and Chandrasekhar as our very own, Pakistan will have begun breaking the shackles of scientific under-development.

Pervez Hoodbhoy, is an Islamabad-based physicist and writer.

Published in Dawn, January 15th, 2022

(Source: Dawn)

Sunday, 23 January 2022

‘Bard Al Azariq’ - coldest days of the year - in Qatar

The ‘Bard Al Azariq’ days, which are the coldest days in Qatar, will begin on Monday, Qatar Calendar House (QCH) announced.

QCH said that the days will start from tomorrow, Monday, January 24, and will last until next Monday, January 31, and these eight days are considered the coldest days of the year.

Qatar has been experiencing relatively cold weather during the last few days with temperatures dipping below 10 degrees Celsius in some places early in the morning.  

As per Qatar Meteorology Department report temperatures were ranging between 9-14°C today morning and the lowest temperature recorded this morning was 6°C in Sawda Natheel.

Apparent temperatures ranging between 0 and 13 degrees Celsius was felt around Qatar early in the morning on January 22, 2022, with the lowest apparent temperature of -2.4 degree Celsius felt in Abusamra.

Difference between the actual temperatures and the apparent temperatures: Actual temperatures are those recorded by thermometers, while apparent temperatures are those felt by humans and are related to several factors, including atmospheric humidity and wind speed. The higher the wind speed in the winter, the greater the feeling of coldness.

(Source: The Peninsula)

Daughters to inherit fathers’ self acquired, inherited properties, to get preference over others: SC

 In a significant verdict, the Supreme Court on Thursday said the daughters of a male Hindu, dying intestate, would be entitled to inherit the self-acquired and other properties obtained in the partition by the father and get preference over other collateral members of the family.

In a significant verdict, the Supreme Court on Thursday said the daughters of a male Hindu, dying intestate, would be entitled to inherit the self-acquired and other properties obtained in the partition by the father and get preference over other collateral members of the family.

The judgement, which came on an appeal against the Madras High Court verdict, dealt with the property rights of Hindu women and widows under the Hindu Succession Act.

“If a property of a male Hindu dying intestate (without a will) is a self-acquired property or obtained in the partition of a coparcenary or a family property, the same would devolve by inheritance and not by survivorship, and a daughter of such a male Hindu would be entitled to inherit such property in preference to other collaterals (such as sons/daughters of brothers of deceased father),” a bench of justices S Abdul Nazeer and Krishna Murari said.

The bench was dealing with the legal issue concerning the right of the daughter to inherit the self-acquired property of her father, in the absence of any other legal heir.

Justice Murari, writing the 51-page judgment for the bench, also dealt with the question of whether such property will devolve on to the daughter upon the death of her father, who died without a will, by inheritance or shall devolve on to “father’s brother’s son by survivorship”.

“Right of a widow or daughter to inherit the self-acquired property or share received in the partition of a coparcenary property of a Hindu male dying intestate is well recognized not only under the old customary Hindu Law but also by various judicial pronouncements...,” the verdict said.

Referring to the legal provision, it said the legislative intent was to remedy the limitation of a Hindu woman who could not claim an absolute interest in the properties inherited by her but only had a life interest in the estate so inherited.

“Section 14 (I) converted all limited estates owned by women into absolute estates and the succession of these properties in the absence of a will or testament would take place in consonance with Section 15 of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956...,” it said.

If a female Hindu dies intestate without leaving any issue, then the property inherited by her from her father or mother would go to the heirs of her father whereas the property inherited from her husband or father-in-law would go to the heirs of the husband, it said.

“The basic aim of the legislature in enacting Section 15(2) (of the Hindu Succession Act) is to ensure that inherited property of a female Hindu dying issueless and intestate, goes back to the source,” it said.

Dealing with the facts of the case, the bench set aside the trial court and the high court’s findings dismissing the partition suit of the daughters.

The apex court said, “...since the property in question was admittedly the self-acquired property of a father despite the family being in a state of jointness upon his death intestate, his sole surviving daughter will inherit the same by inheritance and the property shall not devolve by survivorship.

“Thus, the impugned judgement and decree dated March 01, 1994, passed by the Trial Court and confirmed by the High Court vide judgment and order dated January 21, 2009, are not liable to be sustained and are hereby set aside,” it said. 

(Source: Republic World)

Saturday, 22 January 2022

Here's everything you need to know about red sandalwood featured in Allu Arjun's 'Pushpa'

Here's some trivia about Red Sandalwood or Blood Sandalwood and why it is in demand

Pushpa: The Rise starring Allu Arjun and Rashmika Mandanna in the lead roles and Fahad Faasil as the antagonist has become a gigantic success after its release. The movie was released in multiple languages on OTT platforms and created quite a stir. 

The story of the film revolves around Allu Arjun who is a smuggler of red sandalwood or rakta chandan and becomes a rich man. But what is about this red sandalwood that changed the guy's life in no time? Here's some trivia about Red Sandalwood or Blood Sandalwood and why it is in demand: 

What Is It? 

Red Sandalwood or red sanders, saunders wood and ruby red — is highly regulated wood that is red in colour and has medicinal properties. There’s a high demand for wood in the national and international markets. However, the rare plant species are listed as ‘near threatened by the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature), due to its overexploitation.

Where Are They Grown? 

The species is extremely rare for a reason which is that it isn't easily available everywhere. These trees grow only in the Seshachalam hills spread over four districts of Andhra Pradesh- Nellore, Kurnool, Chittoor, Cuddapah bordering Tamil Nadu. Basically, they are only grown in Eastern Ghatsthe soil in the area — its water content, acidity, aeration and the availability of nutrients. 

What Are The Medicinal Properties?

It has a lot of medicinal properties. It is recommended for treating digestive tract problems such as diarrhoea and loose motions, fluid retention, and breaks up mucus to make it easier to cough up. It is also known for its blood purification properties. Apart from these, wood is also used as a flavouring agent in alcohol especially wine. 

It Is Unlike Other Sandalwood

Sandalwood in general is used for several purposes. In India, it is used during prayer rituals or in temples due to the calming fragrance of the wood. The fragrance is also popularly sold in the form of beauty products and perfumes. However, the red sandalwood has no fragrance whatsoever so when it is burnt, it would seem like the regular sandalwood. 

Special Task Force Protects These Trees

According to The News Minute, this sandalwood is sold for millions in the international market. So, naturally, the smuggling of this rare species is in full swing just like it was shown in the movie. Thus, Special Task Force s deployed to protect these trees. There are strict laws in India to stop its smuggling. There is a demand for these woods in many countries including China, Japan, Singapore, UAE, and Australia. It is most smuggled in China. Here the demand for this sandalwood is high because China makes furniture, decorative items, traditional instruments from it.

(Source: India Times)