India Insight

Uncompromising Kejriwal won’t support any party if Delhi gets hung assembly

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The Aam Aadmi Party has up-ended the calculations of the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party in the race for control of New Delhi in one of five state assembly elections later this year.

Party leader Arvind Kejriwal is an uncompromising anti-corruption crusader who has tapped into a vein of urban anger after a string of breathtaking graft scandals.

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Reuters spoke to Kejriwal at his New Delhi office about the state assembly election in December and his plans to root out corruption. Here are edited excerpts from the interview.

Are you confident of winning?

You see we were always fighting for winning. But (in) between we weren’t sure, frankly. Just like when Anna (Hazare’s anti-corruption) movement started, at that time before the movement, we had absolutely no clue that it will become so big … sense that I am getting now, is exactly the same sense, the same pulse of the people. The excitement in the people is much more than what it was during Anna’s movement.

People ask how can you remove corruption? You don’t have a magic wand.

Many things need to be done. Four immediate steps I can enumerate.

On corruption?

On corruption. First is, obviously Jan Lokpal Bill, which will create a very strong deterrence. That if you indulge in corruption, you will be punished. Swiftness and certainty of punishment will be ensured.

Documentary captures Indian cricket’s lesser-known faces

Prithvi Shaw is 14 and looks like any other schoolboy at first glance. But those who have seen him wield a cricket bat call him India’s next Sachin Tendulkar. They say he’s as natural and as powerful in his stroke play as the world’s most famous batsman was at that age. Shaw started playing when he was three, going up against people more than twice his age.

“He was shorter than the stumps he used to bat in front of,” Shaw’s father said.

The teenager plays cricket for one of Mumbai’s best school teams, trains with Tendulkar’s son Arjun at the city’s famed MIG cricket club, and is considered the next big thing in Indian cricket.

Singer Manna Dey dies at 94

Singer Manna Dey, whose versatile voice charmed fans of Bollywood cinema for more than 60 years, died in Bangalore on Thursday, a hospital spokesman said. He was 94.

He had been suffering from a lung ailment for several months.

Dey was part of the golden era of Bollywood, when Mohammed Rafi and Kishore Kumar reigned supreme, and carved a niche for himself with his lilting, husky voice.

(Twitter reactions to Manna Dey’s death)

Manna Dey, whose real name was Prabodh Chandra Dey, was born in 1919 and grew up in Kolkata. Dey accompanied his musician uncle to Mumbai in 1942 and started assisting him and other composers.

Costa-Gavras prefers Bollywood fantasy to American action

Filmmaker Costa-Gavras, best known for the 1969 political thriller “Z“, has documented prickly themes such as dictatorship, dissent and oppression over the past half-century.

“Z”, which won the Oscar for best foreign film, was a fictionalized account of the assassination of Greek politician Grigoris Lambrakis and inspired the 2012 Bollywood film “Shanghai“.

The French director of Greek descent made several critically acclaimed films, including the 1982 American drama “Missing” which won him an Oscar for best adapted screenplay.

Documentary ‘Katiyabaaz’ shines spotlight on India’s power shortage

A documentary about a power thief, the government official who tries to stop him, and the larger story about the lack of power and infrastructure in India’s small towns is making news at the Mumbai Film Festival.

“Katiyabaaz” (Powerless) chronicles the clash between Loha Singh, a Robin Hood-style power thief who claims to be the best in the business, and Ritu Maheshwari, a government official who is determined to stop power theft in the industrial town of Kanpur in Uttar Pradesh.

The film will screen at the Mumbai Film Festival, which begins Friday.

Directed by documentary filmmakers Fahad Mustafa and Deepti Kakkar, the 84-minute movie screened at the Berlin and Tribeca film festivals before appearing in Mumbai.

Movie Review: Shahid

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

The best thing about Hansal Mehta’s “Shahid” is that the filmmaker tries to tell a fascinating story. In a way, it is the story of the city of Mumbai — beginning with the riots that followed the 1992 demolition of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya, and leading up to the attack on Mumbai that killed 166 people in 2008.

These events are depicted through the real-life story of Shahid Azmi, a teenager who gets caught up in the Mumbai riots, and a few months later, finds himself in Pakistan at a training camp for militants. A disillusioned Azmi returns to India but is tortured and imprisoned under the country’s anti-terror laws.

Azmi completes his schooling in jail, and after his release, studies law to help defend those he believes were wrongly accused and jailed on charges of terrorism.

Liquor retailers toast online model in India

When Dhruv Khandelwal started working as an equity research analyst after finishing his MBA in the United States, he wanted to start an Indian financial services website. That changed when Khandelwal and his friends ran out of beer on a Sunday afternoon.

Letsbuydrink.com, a website launched by Khandelwal six months ago, offers imported alcoholic beverages for sale in India. The website has 2,000 registered members and averages monthly sales of 150,000 rupees ($2,460).

“It’s just a point of convenience for (customers) and that’s the target market,” said 29-year-old Khandelwal. “This is an industry where you need to build a brand image and you have to build confidence.”

Movie Review: Boss

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

There are some movies that are worth your time and money and the effort of writing about them. And then there are movies like “Boss.”

Anthony D’Souza and his team have obviously put in minimal effort in making this film and they don’t expect audiences to exercise their brains either. Juvenile jokes abound and slow-motion shots of Akshay Kumar running and slamming the villain’s head into the ground make up about half the film.

Kumar is the “Boss” in this hare-brained film, a gangster who only beats up people to the beats of loud music and with nubile dancers dancing. He’s estranged from his upright father (Mithun Chakraborty) who thinks his eldest son is guilty of a horrendous crime. This doesn’t stop the father from using muscle power when a powerful politician and police officer threaten his other son. Talk about double standards.

Interview: Modi’s bubble will burst before 2014 elections – Kapil Sibal

By John Chalmers and Devidutta Tripathy

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Telecommunications and Law Minister Kapil Sibal, a senior Congress party leader, spoke to Reuters in an interview at his office in New Delhi. Here are edited excerpts:

What do you think of the impressive rise of Narendra Modi?
I don’t know about both the qualitative expression ‘impressive’ and the word ‘rise’. Because normally, the law of nature is that he who rises falls. And the quicker he rises, the quicker he falls. So, I don’t know how the laws of nature are going to work as far as Narendra Modi is concerned. I do believe that a lot of this, a lot of this, is hype and it’s based on a private army being employed by Narendra Modi to disturb the cyberspace in his favour. And we’ll see if he moves forward at all or not. Because at some time or the other, as you know all bubbles burst, that’s again the law of nature. This bubble too will burst.

Do you think it would burst before the elections?
Oh, I’m sure it will. Because bubbles can’t last this long.

Photo gallery: A walk through Mayawati’s Dalit park

On a hot Tuesday afternoon, I walked into the recently reopened Dalit park in Noida, outside New Delhi. This is the park built by Mayawati, the 57-year-old former chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, as a memorial to the class of people long known in India as “untouchables.” A Dalit herself, Mayawati is a symbol of what traditionally oppressed classes and castes in India can do with their lives.

Of course, Mayawati has been accused by her political opponents of wasting money — lots of it. She seems like an easy target, especially when she has commissioned statues of herself. For a senior Congress politician, erecting one’s own statue was an act of ‘megalomania’. But the symbolism that this structure seeks to attach itself with — asserting Dalit identity and acknowledging “sacrifices” made by people of backward classes — is hard to miss.

The high central chamber of the Dalit park, which is a short drive into Uttar Pradesh from Delhi, draws heavily on Buddhist architecture. It houses statues of B. R. Ambedkar, who helped draft India’s Constitution; Kanshi Ram, founder of the Bahujan Samaj Party that Mayawati now heads; and the former chief minister herself with her ubiquitous handbag, an uncommon thing for a living politician to do.

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