India Insight

Markets this week: Sensex gains 3.5 percent, ICICI surges 19 percent

The BSE Sensex rose 3.5 percent for the week ending September 6, as sentiment on Dalal Street was boosted after Raghuram Rajan took charge as the new governor of the Reserve Bank of India.

Rajan kicked off his term with a bang on Wednesday, announcing several measures to support the rupee and unveiling steps to liberalise financial markets and the banking sector. Hopes that the government might announce a one-time hike in diesel prices to cut its steep import bill also helped the stock market.

The rupee rose to its strongest against the dollar in nearly two weeks on Friday, rallying on growing expectations the unit has been badly oversold. A Reuters poll shows that the Indian unit has likely bottomed out.

Here are the top five gainers and losers:

GAINERS

ICICI BANK: India’s top private sector lender was the star performer of the week with its shares surging more than 19 percent, outperforming the 10 percent rise in the BSE banking sub-index. Banking stocks jumped a day after Raghuram Rajan unveiled steps to help the rupee and the banking sector.

Despite the sharp rise this week, the stock is still down 20 percent this year. Analysts are are optimistic about its future performance. Of the 49 analysts covering the stock, 46 have a ‘buy’ or equivalent rating while three have a ‘hold’, according to Thomson Reuters data.

Duniyadari trumps Bollywood star power for Marathi magic

While Bollywood film Chennai Express was steamrolling its way to success, another movie was on the fast train too, but not many people noticed.

Duniyadari (Worldliness), a Marathi-language film based on a novel by Suhas Shirwalkar and released in July, has gone on to become the highest grossing Marathi movie of all time.

The film, a light-hearted and somewhat clunky take on a group of friends in 1970′s Pune, opened to full houses, and sustained its winning run even in the face of a near monopoly of cinemas by Chennai Express and later by other Bollywood films Once Upon Ay Time In Mumbai Dobaara! and Satyagraha in cinemas. A local right-wing party, the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, threatened the makers of Chennai Express if they forced Duniyadari out of cinemas.

Bollywood screenwriters are finally getting their due, sort of

Jaideep Sahni, the writer of blockbusters such as Bunty Aur Babli and Chak De! India, is getting top billing in promotions for his new project Shuddh Desi Romance, a rare honour for a screenwriter in Bollywood.

Sahni spoke to Reuters about the curse of film intermissions and the reason his movies have so many layers. Here are edited excerpts from the interview:

Q: You and director Maneesh Sharma share top billing in the promotions for Shuddh Desi Romance. How did you pull that off?
A: Maneesh and I were quite embarrassed by it. Because we are not used to it, I guess. But our marketing colleagues felt it might do its little two bits in attracting people. I guess it is a bit of body of work and largely the producers and directors I have worked with. They are the kind of people who respect writing.

Bollywood movie review: Zanjeer

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

Everything is distorted in Apoorva Lakhia’s Zanjeer (Shackles), a modern-day version of the iconic 1973 action-thriller of the same name that gave Amitabh Bachchan his aura of Bollywood’s angry young man.

Inspector Vijay Khanna (played by Ram Charan) is not the brooding, intense young man of the original. The protagonist is now a sculpted statue that twists its face while expressing emotion.

Mala (played by Priyanka Chopra) is no longer the effervescent chakku chhuriyan street performer. She’s an irritating woman with too much make-up who gyrates to songs with offensive lyrics.

Outlook weak for India economic growth: analysts

India’s economy grew at 4.4 percent in the June quarter, its slowest rate since the first three months of 2009 and weaker than analysts’ consensus of 4.7 percent in a Reuters poll.

With the rupee still trading near record lows and a ballooning current account deficit alarming investors and policymakers, several investment banks are worried about the road ahead.

Here are some comments on India’s economic growth released by investment banks after the recent GDP data:

from The Human Impact:

How old is old enough to be jailed for gang rape and murder?

The crime was horrific, the case shocking, and the trial long. Yet when the much anticipated first verdict in the high-profile Delhi gang rape case was pronounced in India over the weekend, there was no jubilation, just outrage.

Found guilty of the gang rape and murder of a student on a bus in December, the teenager - one of six accused - was sentenced to three years in a juvenile home, sparking anger and debate over whether India is too soft on its young offenders. Four adult defendants are on trial in a separate fast-track court. One of the accused committed suicide in jail.

The first reaction came from the parents of the dead 23-year-old student, who was beaten, tortured with an iron rod and raped on the night of Dec. 16 before being dumped on a roadside in the capital.

Kids rule the roost as Bollywood woos audiences

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

Mumbai resident Gopal Das doesn’t usually go to the movies. It’s the children who drag him and his wife to the cinema to watch the latest Bollywood film.

Das’s 8-year-old son Shubham insisted on watching Shah Rukh Khan’s “Chennai Express” on his birthday this week. His teenage sister had recommended it.

“They both said they don’t want a cake or dinner out,” Das told India Insight as he waited with his children at a city multiplex. “We usually don’t watch movies, only the ones they want to watch.”

Sensex loses 3.75 percent in action-packed month

The BSE Sensex lost 3.75 percent in August, its worst monthly performance since February, as worries over foreign outflows were exacerbated by the rupee that fell to record lows.

India’s current account deficit and a struggling economy still worry market participants.  Data showed on Aug. 31 that June quarter GDP grew at 4.4 percent, below analysts’ estimates.

The rupee recovered in the last few trading sessions of the month, closing around 65.75 per dollar after falling to a life low below 68. Still, the unit lost 8.1 percent in August, its biggest monthly fall since at least 1995.

A safe city no more: what went wrong in Mumbai

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

An increasingly globalized city that has grown indiscriminately, a metropolis where inequality festers, and an urban sprawl blind to the needs of the poor. Mumbai is where a twentysomething photojournalist was gang-raped by five men this month, shattering perceptions that it is India’s safest city for women.

Sociologists and historians say this was not an isolated incident, and warn of more attacks. They cite a growing class divide and pockets of uneven growth as factors linked to crimes against women, who are often victims of socially sanctioned oppression.

“When you see huge gleaming towers coming up in your neighbourhood and you are left with absolutely nothing, you are bound to feel resentment that will manifest itself,” said author and historian Gyan Prakash.

Need good roles but need money too: Manoj Bajpayee

In a career spanning nearly 20 years, actor Manoj Bajpayee has oscillated between brilliant and mediocre performances, winning acting honours while also getting brickbats for his poor choice of movie roles.

Bajpayee, whose performance in “Gangs of Wasseypur” (2012) and “Special 26” this year won him critical acclaim, plays the villain in Prakash Jha’s “Satyagraha”. The Bollywood film opened in cinemas on Friday.

The 44-year-old actor spoke to Reuters about how he nearly wrecked his movie career, the time when he had no work and why he is no longer content with just good roles.

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