Multiplexes: Cinema halls feel the heat 
Vibhor Mohan
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, October 12
The story of cinema halls is headed for its climax, with multiplexes threatening to take away whatever little business they are left with. Finding themselves in a do-or-die situation, the cinema owners have pressed the panic button, going in for complete overhauls and beginning negotiations with financers to set up multiplexes in the joint venture.

Manager of Sangam cinema hall Pramod Mehra says, “Talks are on with a couple of companies and a massive mall, which would also have multiplexes, would soon replace the cinema hall.”

“The metropolitan culture has caught on with people of the holy city as well. They don’t want to spend their weekend watching movies only. Shopping, eating out and meeting friends over coffee are all fitted into a single evening. We have an area of 800 yards and the proposed mall would also have a McDonald’s or a Café Coffee Day,” he said.

Until this happens, believes Mehra, even blockbusters would fail to pull crowds to his cinema hall. “We have screened hits like ‘Namaste London’ but we have never run full house and the booking has never exceeded 700 of the total 1,200 seats,” he says.

“Till the time multiplex deals materialise, most other cinema halls are being given a complete new look, with state-of-the-art facilities. Rialto cinema, for instance, audience going to watch Shahrukh Khan-starrer ‘Om Shanti Om’ would get a pleasant surprise on November 9 as the cinema has been uploaded with digital UFO system, the size of the screen has been increased for better viewing from the comfort of brand new quality furniture,” says manager Amrit Pal Singh Bhatia.

Manager of Chanda cinema Harjinder Singh says that the hall has been airconditioned and a host of new features have been introduced so that people enjoy every moment of their favourite movies, something even their home theatre systems cannot offer.

But with revenue being decreased drastically over the recent years, for some cinema hall owners it is a question of survival. Manager of Chitra cinema Ashok Kumar says the business has been reduced to 25 per cent and only multiplexes have the attraction to bring audience back to theatres.

“Our last big hit was ‘Chakar Pe Chakar’, starring Shashi Kapoor, which was released in 1982. After that we have never had a major money spinner. The same goes with many other cinemas in the city,” he says.

A couple of cinema halls have started screening only Bhojpuri or Punjabi films and have developed a clientele of their own, which does not mind the dilapidated interiors and shabby seats. Lack of proper parking lots is another disadvantage with most cinemas housed in old buildings.



Tourism Boost
Majithia for Auckland-Amritsar bonding 
Ashok Sethi

Amritsar, October 12
Bikram Singh Majithia, minister for information and public relations, released a comprehensive 10-page concept paper for mooting a joint collaborative effort between New Zealand and Punjab to explore various possibilities including tourist promotion, education, infrastructure and sharing of skills.

Backing the efforts put up by the heritage and tourist foundation, which had strongly favoured a tourist linkage with Auckland, the capital of New Zealand and Amritsar, the minister said it will be an excellent opportunity to open up this unique partnership which would benefit the two cities in the coming years.

Majithia, while addressing a joint meeting between the tourism delegates from New Zealand and the local group of travel agents and hoteliers at Teg Resort on Jalandhar-Amritsar GT Road, said Punjab especially Amritsar has lots to offer.

He said New Zealand known for its rich landscape and natural beauty has attracted a number of tourists from across the globe. If twin city concept was adopted, it would generate large flow of tourists between the two cities besides providing employment to the youth, he added. The minister said Punjab was emerging as a hot destination due to large population of Punjabi diaspora spread all over the world brings them back to their homeland to visit their near and dear ones and also pay obeisance at the holy shrines in the state. He said the Amritsar International Airport which had seen a complete makeover has become a major hub for the inbound and outbound passengers and would soon be a front runner for exports of goods from this region.

He urged the New Zealanders to promote Punjab as a major destination and exchange their cultural troupe with the Punjab so that they can enjoy the experience of rich Punjabi traditions, its cuisines and the warmth of the local people.

The leader of the New Zealand delegation, Harish Bajaj who along with 9 member group offered to reciprocate the suggestion of the minister for the twin city concept, said that they would work out a positive strategy to send a large number of tourists to Punjab for enjoying its rich traditions.

Earlier, a leading tourist consultant Dr Gulshan Sharma made a power point presentation about the potential to promote tourism as a major industry in the state. He offered to bring leading film makers from Bollywood to do shooting in the rustic and scenic surroundings of the state.

Meanwhile, the Tourism and Aviation Department of the BBK DAV College for Women organised a seminar on the potential of tourism bridging the gap between New Zealand and Punjab. The group leader of the delegation Harish Bajaj in his opening remarks said that he was instrumental in putting India on tourism map of New Zealand in the 70s and today thousands of residents from that country visit India annually to forge an emotional link with India which provides immense places of interest to the tourists.

Bajaj who had been the former Chairman of the New Zealand Travel and Tourism said that the international tourism offers tremendous potential for the service industry for gainful employment of young tourist professional burgeoning industry.

Sharing his four decade long experience in this industry he said that the young students can move faster up the ladder in their career as this venture have grown manifolds across the globe . He said the people prefer to beat the fatigue of daily mundane routine to escape into other countries and enjoy interaction with people and sight seeing which holds greatest business sense for this profession. He urged the youngsters to explore all avenues of this venture through their educational skills to set up a global concept of tourism.

Speaking on the occasion the Principal of the college J. Kackria said the New Zealand tourism trade was primarily been run mostly by women and urged the students to get inspired by this enterprising group. She said tourism industry holds excellent promise for career advancements and strongly favored to set up Indo-New Zealand tourism chamber of commerce for further exploring this business for the mutual benefit of the two countries.

Among those who shared their views including tourist consultants from tourism, were Moira Walker, Gina Salt, Wendy Thompson, Morgot Searle, June Westenra, Christina Wine-Jones, Andrew Philips and Nicholas Kotlarevsky.



Dhillon declares war against drugs
Vibhor Mohan
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, October 12
Actor Mangal Dhillon, who became a household name with his strong performances in serials like “Buniyad” and “Junoon”, has been on spiritual sabbatical, producing-directing films on Sikhism.His latest venture, however, is a reality-based documentary, titled “Sarvnash”, which deals with the issue of drug abuse. Tomorrow onwards, shows of the film would be organised in schools and colleges across Punjab, informing students how an adventure trial of drugs could prove deadly.

Students’ rally

Amritsar: Students of Sri Guru Harkrishan Senior Secondary Public School held a rally against drug addiction. The rally passed through the G.T. Road, Central Jail road and several bazaars of the city and culminated at Sri Guru Harkrishan Public School.Children carried placards, posters and hoardings about the effects of drug addiction. They exhorted the people specially youth to shun drugs. 

“The film is like a 90-minute class, which would have dramatised accounts of addicts, with testimonials of doctors and councillors. We want that the state government and NGOs should come forward to promote the film so that it reaches the masses, even though it is not a commercial film,” he said.

The film would be screened in the Government College for Women, Ludhiana, tomorrow and talks are on with Khalsa College, Amritsar, to hold a special show of the film on October 18.

“Initially we thought of making a commercial film with a budget of Rs 1.5 crore but the only apprehension was that the real message would get diluted. We wanted the film to hit the audience bang on, without any exaggerations,” he said.

“I am also working on a handful of other projects like ‘Western Tribute to Sikhism’, which would be completed by early next year,” he said.

“Starting with ‘Khalsa’, which was the first of its kind film of Sikh history, I have made half-a-dozen films with a religious flavour and all of these have been research-based projects,” he said.

Dhillon said he would make his comeback on the big screen with “Shahadat” which he would be producing and directing as well. The film would also be made in Hindi and English, besides Punjabi.



75 Yrs of GCW, Amritsar
A trip down memory lane
Sanjay Bumbroo &  P. K. Jaiswar

Amritsar, October 12
It was a trip down the memory lane for scores of local Government College for Women’s alumni, who had gathered on the campus to take part in the platinum jubilee celebrations of the institute.

The college boasts of luminaries like Magsaysay awardee and the first woman IPS officer Dr Kiran Bedi, Kanchan Chaudhary, DGP of Uttaranchal, fashion designer Ritu Kumar, leading theatre personality Neelam Man Singh Chaudhary, film actor Deepti Naval and current chief commissioner of income tax Divjyot Kohli among others. However, for the function only Neelam Man Singh, Divjot Kohli, and Kavita Choudhry of ‘Udaan’ fame were present. A souvenir was also released to commemorate the  occasion.

Getting nostalgic, Kavita Choudhry said she has vivid and fond memories of her student life. She asked students to set their goals in life and achieve them. Neelam Man Singh said she took her first step in the world of theatre by enacting in a college play. “ Those were the days - full of hope and promise. We believed that we could achieve anything and everything,” she said.

Earlier, welcoming the guests, principal Jasmeet Nayyar said the college believes in inculcating qualities of both head and heart among its students. “We want to empower our girls and breathe confidence into them so that they can the torch-bearers of womancipation.” She said the college has been scripting success ever since its inception  in 1932. 



Border units seek spl economic package

Amritsar, October 12
The Textile Manufacturers Association of the city has sought a special package for the small and medium enterprises in the border belt of the state. In a missive submitted to Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, the association has urged the government to make a special reference to the border-based industries while preparing a draft for the new industrial policy.

Association general secretary H.S. Makhni said, “The government must accede to the association’s request of capital subsidy and make provisions for doling out freight subsidy.” Strongly advocating the case of the local industry, Makhni said the government should also provide interest-free loans for upgrading technology and setting up of new industrial units. Seeking reduction in VAT rates, he said the government must ensure regular and cheap power supply to the industries for boosting production. — OC



Death of ex-registrar mourned
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, October 12
The Guru Nanak Dev University vice-chancellor and employees condoled the death of principal Bharpur Singh, founder registrar of the university, and described his death as an irreparable loss to the educational field. In their condolence message, vice-chancellor Jai Rup Singh said the principal, besides being an able administrator, was a noted scholar and a good teacher. During his tenure as registrar, he had made commendable contribution in the administrative and educational development of the university. They expressed their heartfelt sympathies to the bereaved family. 



The girl who impressed Sunita Williams
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, October 12
A question from DAV International School student has been selected among the best five which were put to Sunita Williams at a special function organised by Atlantic Research in Delhi on October 4.

Aditi Gupta’s question to Sunita was, “Do you think belief in God is a stumbling block in the way of scientific and technological development?”

Williams responded and appreciated the inquisitiveness of Aditi to understand the depth of science, said principal Anjana Gupta.

She would be the third representative from India after Kalpana Chawla and herself to go into space, the astronaut predicted. The organiser had arranged a competition where each student was to ask a question to Sunita and Aditi’s question was selected among the best five.

The DAVIS team included four students - Aditi, Palvi Khanna, Keshav Mehra and Ekta Jain and a teacher.



City to host Frankfinn Mr Singh International contest

Amritsar, October 12
The Frankfinn Mr Singh International contest, organised by the Akal Purukh Ki Fauj (APKF), would be held in Amritsar on December 15. The audition for the same would start from October 21 and conclude on October 30.

This was told to mediapersons by member of Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee Jaswinder Singh. He said the auditions would be conducted in 50 main cities of the country, besides abroad. The last date for the entry was October 18. Jaswinder said APKF has already received 2,000 thousand entries till now.

Jaswinder said after the audition participants securing more than 80 per cent marks would qualify for the zonal auditions which will be held in Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Gwalior and Chandigarh. — TNS



Navratras Feast
World-famous ‘Langoor mela’ begins
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, October 12
The world-famous unique “Langoor mela”, which began here with children dressed as “langoors” dancing to the tune of drums in a procession passing through different parts of the town, is a rare feast to the eyes.

What Durga puja is to West Bengal and Dandiya celebrations to Gujarat, the 10-day Langoorwala mela is to Amritsar.

In bright red outfits, with silver and golden trimmings, conical caps, faces smeared with fuller’s earth and make-up like langoors complete with long tails and silver-coloured staffs, children dressed as langoors dance for all nine days of Navratras.

Muslims and Sikhs do not believe in idol worship, yet many of them also bring their children to the Bara Hanuman Temple, which is part of the ancient Durgiana Temple. The temple reportedly has the biggest idol of Lord Hanuman in a unique posture.

The idol of Lord Hanuman is sitting in a laying posture as if he is in relaxing mood. Except Hanuman Gadi, Ayodhya, such posture could not be seen anywhere in the world.

Giving details of the “Langoor mela”, Surinder Kumar Billa, president of the All-India Hindu Shiv Sena, said that more than 10,000 “langoors” thronged the ancient temple during the Navratras.

According to legends, the temple of Bara Hanuman was built at a place where twin sons of Lord Rama - Luv and Kush (Lahore and Kasur in Pakistan were named after them, respectively) - who lived in exile with their mother Sita, captured the Ashwamedha horse let loose after Ashwamedha yajna performed by Lord Rama to stake his claim over the territories where the horse set foot. Hanuman, who came to defend the horse, was taken prisoner by the twins and tied to a banyan tree. Later, a temple was built at this place. To commemorate this, couples still tie a red thread on this ancient tree.

The “langoors” remain bare-foot all the 10 days and sleep on the floor. On the first day, they bring some sweets, coconut and flowers after seeking blessings from the head priest.

Many childless devotees, irrespective of religion, don the garb of langoor to seek Lord Hanuman’s blessings for the birth of a child, while many children can be seen wearing the langoor dress to show their gratitude towards him.

On their part, the parents or the devotees sleep on floor, observe fast, avoid footwear, eat vegetarian food uncut with knife and recite verses from the Ramayana during the entire period. The mela concludes with Dasehra when “langoors” finally take off their langoor outfits near the banyan tree. In case of illness only “vhibhuti” from the temple is used for cure.

The childless mothers gifted with a child untie the thread on the ancient tree only after the fulfilment of their wish.



Jas Arora keen to do Punjabi flicks
P.K. Jaiswar

Amritsar, October 12
After trying his hands in Bollywood, famous model-turned-actor Jas Arora is now eyeing on Punjabi film industry.

He said, “Although I have not been approached by any Punjabi film maker, I would definitely like to do Punjabi films.”

Shot to fame with a video of Punjabi pop Singer Malkit Singh, “Gur Nalo Ishq Mitha”, Jas is currently busy with his modelling assignments and small screen serials. He was in the city on the launch of a wedding couture label.

Jas Arora has been the brand ambassador of the couture Study by Janak for the past two years.

Talking to The Tribune, he said he was currently busy with English serial “Aachar,” being telecast in Singapore. Giving details of the serial, he said it was a story of an Indian man married to a Chinese girl. It’s a comedy serial and has won many accolades, besides the bronze medal in the New York television festival, 
he added. Currently busy with the shooting of serial, “Thodi Si Zameen Thoda Aasman,” he said there were two more serials with the same actor-producer in 
the pipeline.

He said doing one serial at a time made him enjoy and concentrate on his work. Seeming to be choosy about his roles, he said, “I would choose only those roles which suit my personality and age.”

Expressing pleasure on his visit to the holy city, the young heartthrob said he always enjoyed visiting Amritsar as it gave him peace and internal joy. He said the people here were very beautiful and charming like the city itself.

About the showroom, Jas said the couture showcased a collection of sherwanis, three-pieces suits, kurta, pyjamas and dhoti with short tops to classy tuxedos and mid-length Indo-Western outfits. He said the collection was a sumptuous blend of vibrant and majestic styling with exquisite craftsmanship and designs.



Youth fest trophy goes in host’s kitty

Amritsar, October 12
DAV Public School, Amritsar, won the overall trophy at the Mahatma Hans Raj Aryan zonal youth festival, while DAV School, Jalalabad, came second and RKG DAV Senior Secondary School, Guru Har Sahai, stood third in competitions that concluded on the DAV Public School, Amritsar, premises here.

As many as eight DAV schools - DAV Centenary Senior Secondary School, Jalalabad, HM DAV Public School, Ferozepore City, SKB DAV Centenary School, Fazilka, RKG DAV Senior Secondary School, Guru Har Sahai, DAV Public School, Haripura, BBK, Yaseen Road, Amritsar, DAV Public School, Amritsar, DAV Public School, Ferozepore Cantonment - participated. Schools competed in seven competitions - skit, qawwali, Ved Mantra, patriotic song, shabad/bhajan/devotional, geet/ghazal/folk songs and classical vocal (solo).

The chief guest, district transport officer Vimal Setia, distributed prizes to winners.

In the youth festival, DAV Public School, Amritsar, won 16 first positions and two second positions in a total of 18 competitions. This is the fifth time that the school bagged the overall trophy in the youth festival, principal Neera Sharma said.

Earlier, DAV Public School, Amritsar, topped in the “first segment” of the Mahatma Hansraj Aryan youth festival competitions held at Jalalabad recently in which eight schools participated. The school secured top 10 positions in 11 competitions held.— OC



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