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Bollywood Latest News

Kangana to play Indira Gandhi in political period drama

Kangana Ranaut will essay the role of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in an upcoming political drama. The actress says the yet-untitled film is not a biopic and has also revealed that many prominent actors will be a part of the upcoming project.

“Yes, we are working on the project and the script is in final stages. It is not the biopic of Indira Gandhi, it is a grand period film, to be precise a political drama that will help my generation to understand (the) socio-political landscape of current India,” said Kangana, in a statement released by her office.

“Many prominent actors will be part of this film and of course I am looking forward to playing the most iconic leader that we have had in the history of Indian politics,” said the actress.

Kangana added that “the film is based on a book”, although she did not elaborate on which written work.

The actress will produce the film that will feature Emergency and Operation Blue Star.

Director Sai Kabir, who worked with Kangana earlier in “Revolver Rani” will write the story and screenplay, and also direct the project.

The period film will be mounted on a very big scale, and have actors portraying Sanjay Gandhi, Rajeev Gandhi, Morarji Desai, and Lal Bahadur Shashtri among other prominent figures.

Kabir flew to Bhopal where the actress is currently shooting for “Dhaakad” and has already done a few sittings with the actress.

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Latest News USA

Enacte Arts presents virtual adaptation of ‘Letters to a daughter from prison’

San Francisco: Bay Area-based EnActe Arts has announced a virtual adaptation of Letters to a Daughter from Prison, a play by Lavonne Mueller based on the letters between Jawaharlal Nehru and his adolescent daughter Indira, written between 1930 and 1942, before he became India’s first Prime Minister. The original play made its debut in 1988 during the first International Festival of the Arts in New York City before going on to tour India. It has been adapted for this production by Deesh Mariwala (Director), Denzil Smith and Vinita Sud Belani (Founder and Artistic Director of EnActe Arts). 

Set against the backdrop of the freedom struggle and Gandhi’s non-violent protests, the play reveals the richness of the father daughter relationship in the formative years, before her eventual emergence on the world stage, as Indira Gandhi, the daughter of Jawaharlal Nehru, told through the exchange of letters between them during his numerous imprisonments for his role as a leader of the Indian independence movement while she was growing up. One of which included the prophetic line, ‘Little one, may you grow up into a brave soldier in India’s service!’

The playwright was inspired to write the story because Nehru the statesman was being continually separated from his shy, intellectual daughter Indira due to the turmoil that came with the freeing and building of the world’s largest democracy. “They forged the bonds of a loving, nurturing and formative relationship through their detailed, prolific letters to each other. I felt compelled to write this story because I could not find a parallel in the Western world of a statesman father who nurtured his daughter in such a way.” 

Notes the play’s director Deesh Mariwala: “Funnily enough what started as a delving into the lives of two Prime Ministers who shaped the land I grew up in, has become a warm, companionable relationship with two people I have never met, but now feel I know almost intimately.”

Letters to a Daughter from Prison is a co-production of EnActe Arts and Stagesmith Productions.

It is partially sponsored by indiaspora.org and is being co-presented by Indiaspora, ICC (India Community Centre, Silicon Valley) and DIAC (Dallas Indian Arts Collective, Texas).

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Latest News New York

Nixon’s racist, sexist remarks against Indians decried by diplomats

By The SATimes News Service

New York: Richard M, Nixon, the late 37th president who left the White House in disgrace, used racist and sexist language to vent his frustration with India over the 1971 War, especially Indian women, possibly triggered by his well-known antipathy towards then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, according to recently declassified White House tapes.

The comments have come under severe condemnation from the Indian American community and former diplomats who have described the statements as “appalling”,  and which reflect Nixon’s ‘vulgarity’  and ‘racism’.

“Undoubtedly the most unattractive women in the world are the Indian women,” Nixon said in June 1971 to Henry Kissinger. He continued: “The most sexless, nothing, these people. I mean, people say, what about the Black Africans? Well, you can see something, the vitality there, I mean they have a little animal-like charm, but God, those Indians, ack, pathetic. Uch.”

These remarks are from the new White House recordings obtained by Gary Bass, writer of “The Blood Telegram”, the seminal book about the liberation of Bangladesh, and contained in his article for The New York Times last Thursday.

“As Americans grapple with problems of racism and power, a newly declassified trove of White House tapes provides startling evidence of the bigotry voiced by President Richard M. Nixon and Henry Kissinger, his national security adviser,” Gary Bass, professor at Princeton, wrote in the NYT op-ed titled ‘The Terrible Cost of Presidential Racism’, adding that the US policy toward South Asia under Mr. Nixon was influenced by his hatred of, and sexual repulsion toward, Indians.

Indira Gandhi had met Nixon ahead of the 1971 war that broke out in December with India liberating Bangladesh — then East Pakistan — from Pakistan defying USA. Nixon confessed what influenced his foreign policy: “They (Indians) turn me off. They are repulsive and it’s just easy to be tough with them.”

Kissinger was no less, according to Bass. On June 3, 1971, he was indignant at the Indians, while the country was sheltering millions of traumatized Bengali refugees who had fled the Pakistan army. He blamed the Indians for causing the refugee flow, apparently by their covert sponsorship of the Bengali insurgency. He then condemned Indians as a whole, his voice oozing with contempt, “They are a scavenging people.”
He also called Indians as “masters at subtle flattery. That’s how they survived 600 years. They suck up – their great skill is to suck up to people in key positions.” He did not spare India’s neighbor either: “the Pakistanis are fine people, but they are primitive in their mental structure.”

In a scathing response to Nixon’s remarks, former foreign minister K. Natwar Singh, and former diplomat Mani Shankar Aiyar spoke of him being outwitted and out-maneuvered by Indira Gandhi. Natwar Singh said Nixon’s language reflected “his vulgarity and racism”. “He was a third-rate human being and his entire record shows that and also the manner in which he was dismissed,” Singh said referring to the Watergate scandal. According to Aiyar, Nixon was infuriated with Mrs Gandhi because she did not behave like other world leaders when the “American boss wags his finger at them”. “She just went away disgusted and did her thing…she put them in their place and that is why they hated her,” he said of the Bangladesh war episode.

Said Sanjeev Joshipura, the executive director of Indiaspora, “We already knew about Nixon’s and Kissinger’s bigoted views, but the visceral nature of these comments does not behove American government leaders, and is extremely offensive to so many around the world! Moreover, it is disgustingly unprofessional to conduct foreign policy and global diplomacy hinging upon the base instincts of humankind.”

“Thankfully,” he added, “the tone and trajectory of US-India relations today is the polar opposite of the attitudes expressed by Nixon and Kissinger.”

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India International

Modi salutes those who fought for democracy

New Delhi: On the occasion of the 45th anniversary of Emergency, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday paid tribute to the people who fought for the protection of democracy in India, saying the country will never forget their sacrifices.

In a tweet in Hindi, Modi said, “Emergency was imposed on the country exactly 45 years ago. At the time, people who fought for the protection of India’s democracy, suffered torture, I salute them all! The country will never forget their sacrifices.”

He also attached one of the episodes from his monthly program ‘Mann ki Baat’ held last year, where he spoke at length about the Emergency.

The announcement of Emergency was made on June 25, 1975, days after the Allahabad High Court found former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi guilty of electoral malpractices and disbarred her as a parliamentarian for six years.

For much of the Emergency period, most of Indira Gandhi’s political opponents were jailed and the press was muzzled.

Modi’s remarks came after Union Home Minister Amit Shah took a swipe at Indira Gandhi, saying one family’s “greed for power” led to the imposition of Emergency 45 years ago when the country was turned into a prison.

In a series of tweets, Shah said, “On this day 45 years ago, one family’s greed for power led to the imposition of Emergency. Overnight the nation was turned into a prison. The press, courts, free speech… all were trampled over. Atrocities were committed on the poor and downtrodden.”

He said that due to the efforts of lakhs of people, the Emergency was lifted. “Democracy was restored in India, but it remained absent in the Congress. The interests of one family prevailed over party interests and national interests. This sorry state of affairs thrives in today’s Congress too,” Shah said in another tweet.

The Home Minister also asked the Congress why even after 45 years, the Emergency mindset still remains.

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New York

Salman Rushdie warns America of a despotic leader

New York: In the wake of massive protests across the United States over George Floyd’s killing by the Minneapolis police, Indian-origin British novelist Salman Rushdie remembered in a Washington Post op-ed how revolutions in the past have changed the world’s dynamics, and eventually led to the fall of tyrant leaders.

He wrote: In my life, I have seen several dictators rise and fall. Today, I’m remembering those earlier incarnations of this unlovely breed.

Citing examples of India and Pakistan, he wrote: “In India in 1975, Indira Gandhi, found guilty of electoral malpractice, declared a state of emergency that granted her despotic powers. The “emergency,” as it became known, ended only when she called an election, believing she would win, and was annihilated at the polls. Her arrogance was her downfall. This cautionary tale formed a part of my novel Midnight’s Children.

“In Pakistan in 1977, Gen. Mohammed Zia ul-Haq staged a coup against Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and executed him in 1979. This dark story was the inspiration for my novel Shame. The circumstances of my life have given me some understanding of the dictatorial cast of mind,” he added.

The writer also quoted events unravelling in the present that could bring far-fetched changes in the future. He wrote: “Extreme narcissism, detachment from reality, a fondness for sycophants and a distrust of truth-tellers, an obsession with how one is publicly portrayed, a hatred of journalists and the temperament of an out-of-control bulldozer: These are some of the characteristics.”

Rushdie also came down heavily on President Trump and minced no words in his criticism. He added: Trump is, temperamentally, a tinpot despot of this type. But he finds himself in charge of a country that has historically thought of itself – by no means always correctly – as being on the side of liberty. So far, with the collusion of the Republican Party, he has ruled more or less unchecked.

Rushdie further mentioned the systemic racism still entrenched in the US and said: “If he (Trump) is allowed to use the actions of a tiny minority of criminals and white extremist infiltrators to invalidate the honorable protest of the vast majority against the murder of Floyd, the violence of the police toward the black community and the entrenched power of American racism, he will be on his way to despotism. He has threatened to use the Army against American citizens, a threat one might have expected from a leader of the former Soviet Union, but not of the United States.”

“In my most recent novel, Quichotte, I characterized the present moment as the ‘Age of Anything-Can-Happen.’ Today I say, beware, America. Don’t believe that it can’t happen here,” he concluded.

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