India Insight

A Minute With: Sascha Sippy

Ramesh Sippy’s epic buddy action film “Sholay” failed to impress audiences when it came out in 1975. Almost 40 years later, the movie is an integral part of Indian pop culture. The film is now being released in 3D amid much acrimony.

Sippy went to court against his nephews who own the rights to the film. His nephew, Sascha Sippy, who runs Sippy Films, said that his uncle didn’t have any rights to the film, and did not have a say in whether the film could be released.

The Bombay High Court rejected Ramesh Sippy’s order, clearing the way for the new version. Sascha Sippy spoke to Reuters about the feud, why he decided to release the film in 3D and how he plans to take the “Sholay” franchise forward. Responses have been lightly edited.

When did you think of converting Sholay into 3D? Also, why 3D? Why not just restore it?

The original idea was to restore the film and give it a longer lease of life, but at a certain point, the relevance of the film to new generations came into question, and we felt very strongly that this film should not become irrelevant.  It’s on our heads to protect it, take care of it. It is a big part of Indian cinematic history and there’s a responsibility to make sure that goes on. 3D has become very popular. We started talking to people about it and realised it would be too expensive – around $15-$16 million. It was unaffordable.

Markets this week: Sensex falls 1.3 percent, BHEL slumps nearly 10 percent

By Ankush Arora and Aditya Kalra

The BSE Sensex fell 1.3 percent in the week ending Dec. 13 after high retail inflation raised fears of a rate hike. Eight of 10 analysts in a poll on Friday said they expected the central bank to raise the repo rate by 25 basis points to try and tame stubbornly high inflation.

Before falling for four consecutive sessions from Tuesday, markets touched life highs on Monday. The BSE Sensex touched 21483.74 after sentiment on the street was boosted by the Bharatiya Janata Party’s win in three of five state elections.

However, profit-taking and the cautious outlook of investors before Thursday’s inflation data pushed shares lower, with the Sensex registering its worst weekly performance in nearly a month.

Movie Review: What the Fish

(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters)

Gurmeet Singh’s “What the Fish” is a comedy about a cranky old woman, her beloved goldfish, and a group of reckless, irresponsible young people who play havoc with her house while she’s away on a holiday abroad.

Sudha Mishra (Dimple Kapadia) is a cantankerous, divorced woman, who is constantly suspicious of everyone and doesn’t trust her own son. She reserves all her affection for Mishti, her goldfish, and her blossoming money plant.

When she leaves India to stay with her son for a month, Mishra entrusts her precious possessions and the house to Sumit (Sumit Suri), her niece’s lackadaisical fiancé. But the minute her plane takes off, the peaceful environs of her house are shattered.

from Expert Zone:

Slow change comes to India a year after Delhi gang rape

(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters)

One year ago, a 23-year-old physiotherapy student was raped and murdered. Her story showed the world that women across India are viewed as dispensable, undeserving of full human rights.

One year later, what has changed?

It is heartening that the case of Nirbhaya, as she is known, led to the setting up of the Justice Verma commission that recommended strengthening outdated laws to protect women and their rights. Although change has been slow, more cases of sexual violence are being reported rather than silenced, scuttled or quietly settled. However, crime statistics and prosecution rates show that most of these crimes go unnoticed, unreported and absorbed into the culture of “that’s the way things are."

Looking through the National Crime Records Bureau’s report for 2012, it is evident that the number of complaints registered with the police, the first information reports on rape, has risen by nearly 3 percent. The number of cases that were charge-sheeted -- documented as a crime -- was 95 percent. But fewer than 15 percent of rape cases came to trial in 2012.

How the Bollywood numbers game works

On Nov. 23, along with its usual glut of interviews and news about Bollywood stars, the Bombay Times featured a solemn announcement: “Box Office column discontinued.”

The column, written by Priya Gupta, editor of Times of India Metro Supplements, said it was getting increasingly difficult to get good numbers for how films are doing at the box office because filmmakers and production houses “jack up their numbers.”

“While filmmakers have no hesitation in picking up the phone and trying to convince us about their false data, they will not send formal emails confirming the data as they are scared of subsequent expose,” the column said.

Reactions on Twitter to the Supreme Court judgment on gay sex

The Supreme Court on Wednesday threw out a 2009 ruling by a lower court that had decriminalised gay sex in India, in a major setback for the cause of gay rights in the world’s largest democracy. For full story, click http://reut.rs/18TsR0U

Here are some reactions from India on Twitter (lightly edited for clarity):

Shashi Tharoor, Congress minister
The Supreme Court has urged Parliament to delete Section 377 from the statute book. As an MP, I am strongly in favour of doing so.

Shruti Haasan, actress
Second 377, it’s frightening how someone else decides how, when and who you should love – basically freedom of choice isn’t legal anymore.

Business of new and worn banknotes thriving in Delhi

Rakesh Kumar is not like most of the street vendors in Old Delhi. The hand-painted sign on his wooden counter, “exchange damaged, old notes,” reveals a different story. He sells money.

For the past 40 years, Kumar has offered customers new banknotes for soiled or damaged ones for a fee that earns him about 100,000 rupees ($1,600) a year. It has also helped him pay for the marriages of his three children.

“We charge commission depending on the condition of the note,” the 58-year-old Kumar said while examining some 1,000-rupee notes nibbled by rats. “Around 30-40 people come to us daily.”

White-collar jobs for rural women needed to enhance gender equality – new book

Family planning, health and education programmes have done a lot to improve the lives of women in rural India, but getting more young rural women to work in jobs that don’t involve wage labour is the next step for gender equality and the country’s economic health, according to Dr. Carol Vlassoff, author of a new book, “Gender Equality and Inequality in Rural India: Blessed with a Son.

Vlassoff, 69, has been studying the village of Gove in Satara District of Maharashtra state since 1975. She determined through her work there that bringing rural women into the modern economy in India means making more job opportunities available to them, particularly professional, white-collar jobs.

Doing this also could lead to slowing population growth in India, one of the world’s most populous countries with an estimated 1.2 billion people. She found, according to a press statement accompanying the book, “that self-employed and professional rural women were more likely to use contraceptives and delay having their first child than unemployed women with the same amount of schooling.”

Markets this week: Sensex gains 1 percent, Tata Power surges over 10 percent

By Ankush Arora and Aditya Kalra

The BSE Sensex ended with gains of 1 percent in the week ending Dec. 6, as investor sentiment was boosted after exit polls indicated the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), seen by many as being more business-friendly, will win four of the five state elections conducted recently.

State elections are seen as a semi-final before the national polls next year. Elections are the key theme for the first half of 2014 and the recent rally in the stock market implies that a BJP government is no longer viewed as a low-probability scenario, UBS said this week. The investment bank has set a 2014 target for Nifty at 6,900.

Foreign institutional investors (FIIs) inflows for the year have crossed 1 trillion rupees, regulatory and exchange data showed. They have made net purchases of around $18 billion so far this year, Deutsche Bank figures show.

Reactions from India to the death of Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela, who emerged from 27 years in apartheid prisons to help guide South Africa to democracy, died on Thursday.

Mandela had been inspired by Mahatma Gandhi’s decades-long non-violent resistance to British rule. India’s revered independence leader had also spent some of his early political years in South Africa, where he was involved in the struggle against racial discrimination.

The Indian government, which in 1990 honoured Mandela with its highest civilian award, the Bharat Ratna, declared five days of official mourning on Friday. Both houses of parliament were adjourned for the day.

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