|ARTS TRIBUNE||Friday, February 2, 2001, Chandigarh, India|
Asha Bhonsle attends Dubai Media City
by Amita Malik
NOTHING is as sad for a media professional as to see a once efficient and responsible institution failing the nation in its hour of crisis. I was in Delhi during the post-Partition riots and the arrival of lakhs of homeless refugees.
by Suparna Saraswati
MIME is another aspect of theatre. Throughout the world it has enthralled audiences and spectators from a spectrum of cultures and traditions. Chandigarh got an opportunity to view a well-known artiste from the realm of mime namely, Frederic Herrera (small-built with a youthful face), a disciple of the world famous mime master, Marcel Marceau.
vet with a musical bent
BEING a veterinary doctor and a singer at one time and doing justice to both may be impossible for most people, but not as much for this sturdy Sikh who is enjoying a smooth sail in both boats even as he is a comparatively new face on the firmament of Punjabi music.
Sukhnain is well known in the musical and social circuit of Jalandhar as a ghazal and folk singer, especially as he has been singing for All-India Radio and Doordarshan and has bagged an array of prizes at various stages of life. But now he has made a debut as a serious singer with HMV’s recent audio and video cassette Gora Chitta Mukh, Chunni Lal Rang Di, a balanced combination of Punjabi folk and pop. The lyrics of Babu Singh Maan, Sanmukh Azad, Sukhwinder Amrit and Balbir Ahiyapuri have all hues of life and the music has been composed by Jaidev. In addition to the title song, Gora chitta mukh... the cassette has dance numbers in Til Balliye... Taar tumba tumba... and Ishqe da signal.... One song is attuned to the Sufiana way of singing and another is carrying the perennial theme of betrayal in love.
It is not for the first time that Sukhnain, working as a veterinary doctor in a government hospital near Jalandhar, has come out with a cassette. Earlier his cassette, Pyala Ishq Daa, based on the lyrics of Prof Mohan Singh, was released by the Musical Voice of India (MVI) and another on the topic of the green revolution was produced by Punjab Agricultural University, the alma mater of Sukhnain. "It is a dream come true for me. I had always been yearning to be a good singer, and wanted to be launched by a good and professional company. Now it has happened though some of my acquaintances have been sceptical about the success of a doctor in the role of a singer," says Sukhnain, a disciple of Ustad Chaman Lal, Ranjit Rana and Ustad Mohan Malsyani in the field of classical vocal music.
Sukhnain has been an active youth welfare volunteer. He was one of the 10-member Indian team which participated in the 18th Japanese Youth Goodwill Cruise held in 1985 in Japan, aimed at increasing goodwill and friendship among the youth. He has also been to the USA, South Korea and Singapore for presenting Punjabi programmes. "I have high hopes from Gora Chitta mukh.... and, God willing, I will be able to establish myself in the music world as a good singer. I would not like to stand among those, who just treat music as a lucrative profession," says Sukhnain. Asked as to how he can do justice to both professions, Sukhnain retorts, "it depends upon your will power and the urge to do something. Nothing more, nothing less".
Asha Bhonsle attends Dubai Media City
INDIAN singer Asha Bhonsle was among a host of international personalities invited to attend the opening of the Dubai Media City, which has just thrown open its doors.
United Arab Emirates (UAE) Defence Minister and Dubai Crown Prince Gen Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum stressed the importance of freedom of the press at the opening adding, "My expectation is that the people who will work in this city are ready for this challenge."
Set on 200 hectares, the Dubai Media City has a waiting list of 65 companies planning to move in it. Work on the construction of the second phase started last month and will be completed in a year. The city is the third major enterprise announced as part of the Dubai Technology, e-commerce and Media Free Zone Authority and will work closely with the Dubai Internet City and Dubai Ideas Oasis.
UAE Minister of Information and Culture Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahayan said a new press law would come into effect soon to regulate the work of media institutions in the country. "The new press law will draw the line of freedom of speech for institutions in the city and will put regulations that prevent maligning of personalities or establishments and safeguard beliefs and social norms," Sheikh Abdullah said.
Sheikh Abdullah also announced the creation of a new media institute at the media city.
The Dubai government had invested 3 billion in its first phase, adding 82 per cent of the space in the city had already been booked by local, regional and multi-national companies, among them TV producers, record companies, post-production studios and free-lance service providers. Among incentives offered by the city are 100 per cent foreign ownership, a 50-year tax exemption and no personal taxation.
Speaking at the opening, Asha said she would be in Dubai next month to shoot her new video. "I will be coming back here to film my new music video for the song Salamat salamat salamat... which will be released on my next album," she was quoted as saying in local media.
The singer said she first came to Dubai in 1970 and has been visiting the city frequently ever since. "When I first visited, the city was totally different to the way it is now. There were no high rise buildings," she said.
Quake: The decline & fall of DD
NOTHING is as sad for a media professional as to see a once efficient and responsible institution failing the nation in its hour of crisis. I was in Delhi during the post-Partition riots and the arrival of lakhs of homeless refugees. During this crisis, the DG of AIR, Mr Lakshmanan (and he was by no means an outstanding DG) spent 24 hours at Broadcasting House, overseeing broadcasts, as were Mehra Masani and other senior officials. I had a relative going around the worst areas covering the crisis for AIR and missing. I rang up the DG in panic at midnight. He said not to worry, he would find him, and he did. AIR was everywhere, from Gandhiji’s prayer meetings to refugee camps. Everyone worked non-stop, from junior reporters to the DG.
In contrast, on one of the worst days of the Gujarat crisis, the top brass of Prasar Bharati and DD News were at Siri Fort for a special screening of Zubeida. And it was like that from the start. While the private satellite networks and the BBC were constantly flashing news about the earthquake as soon as it came in at 9 a.m., DD like the boy who stood on the burning deck, went right ahead with the Republic Day Parade from 9 a.m. to 12 noon, as if nothing had happened. Then it rushed to interview ministers and government officials rather than victims or professionals. For the next few days, it carried on with its scheduled programmes, with the earthquake as an item in the news. Aaj Tak cancelled all other news and both Zee and Star News devoted their earthquake news to 24-hour detailed coverage. Star Plus did something else. It promised that it would match the money won by the contestants with an equal amount for Earthquake Relief. Some channels started relief funds and installed helplines, both telephonic and captioned, for victims to contact anxious relatives all over the world.
What is most ironic of all is that while the top Prasar Bharati brass were sleeping, DD’s professional staff were doing a splendid job on their own..DD’s own roving cameramen, without production colleagues on hand, were the ones who got that spectacular shot of a tall tower swaying like a bamboo in a storm. They also got chilling shots of the earth cracking (those cameramen should get awards). But DD did not use them as often and as dramatically as the private channels, courtesy DD. Similarly, all too few of DD’s experienced staff reporters were rushed to different spots so Sanjeev Thomas in Bhuj and an overworked reporter, Dhiraj Kakaria in Ahmedabad worked overtime while the private channels sent in their best reporters to every spot and acted more like public service broadcasters than DD.
The fleeting IAS and Information Service amateurs who now head this once-best talent through ignorance and arrogance. Only one head has rolled so far.
I will not attempt a ranking list for the I watched most and am sorry that Aaj Tak started a "Me first"race. I think all top channels did their splendid best. But from their coverage registered heart-warming stories of births amidst deaths, Muslim blood donations being gratefully accepted by Hindu victims (straight out of "Sujata"), Ahmedabad’s top architects, Doshi and Patel telling us how the unscrupulous members of their own tribe had let down Ahmedabad and the thousands who died. The heroic jawans who saved a mother and her newborn and proudly named it "Fauji, those international saviours in their luminous red, speaking the common language of compassion. Doctors working against dreadful odds.
There is little space for detailed reviews of Govinda’s JCPK, besides it is early days. He is lovable, popular and young. Sony has been wise to schedule the programme so as not to clash with KBC. I found the rules and regulations confusing, too many ads and the long introductory song and dance every time holding up the action. Govinda also shouts the title in the same monotonous tones, as against the clean lines, the straightforward procedure of KCB. This is for a different low-brow audience, with its consumer baits..I would not go as far as a neighbour who sniffed: "For jhuggi dwellers." But obviously for a less sophisticated audience than KBC’s.
TAILPIECE: My brightest moment amidst the media gloom was to find Ustad Bismillah Khan, coming out of namaz to be told of his Bharat Ratna, breaking into a jolly song. But after hearing of Lata’s award saying "This makes me even more happy, because Allah gave Lata such a beautiful voice."
Art that needs no voice
MIME is another aspect of theatre. Throughout the world it has enthralled audiences and spectators from a spectrum of cultures and traditions. Chandigarh got an opportunity to view a well-known artiste from the realm of mime namely, Frederic Herrera (small-built with a youthful face), a disciple of the world famous mime master, Marcel Marceau. On a French Government scholarship and having graduated from Marceau International Mime School in 1989, Herrera has travelled rather extensively conducting workshops, performing as well as learning newer skills in the art of mime.
Alliance Francaise "Le Corbusier" de Chandigarh presented Herrera and his accompanist Christopher Traineau from January 22 to 24 . Besides conducting a three-hour workshop on pantomime and the development of major mime techniques, the artiste also performed two well-crafted mime shows, "The Thieves of the Pearl" and The Burrow". The latter was based on Kafka’s short novel. What made these pieces fascinating for the viewers was the amazing degree of agility shown by the performers. The intricate body convolutions made several in the audience wonder whether it was a human doing the movements or a rubber puppet. Each body muscle could be seen twisting and turning in the entwines of the mime artiste.
The theme for the mimes was interestingly depicted with a combination of the abstract as well as the existing. Where "The Thieves of the Pearl" provided a fairytale scenario and transported the spectator into the wild fields of the human imagination, "The Burrow" was an introspection of a psyche that unravelled a path of self discovery and expression from and by the self. The very idea of a shadow playing with its new found identity and existence due to the light of a candle was in fact the crux of the mime.
Herrera’s mastery of mime was reflected in the theatrical depictions. It was indeed an unusual experience of a performing art where the need to express through voice was rendered unnecessary. He conveyed all that needed to be communicated through agile body gestures. He reflected about his art by saying: I believe once the mechanisation has reached saturation point, society will look for something more human to keep them ‘entertained’, and revert to traditional art forms".