India Insight

Movie Review: The Lunchbox

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

Even if Ritesh Batra’s “The Lunchbox” had been a film with a weak script, wayward direction and too long to hold your attention, there would be still be a reason to watch the film — Irrfan Khan.

Here is an actor who will mesmerize and transfix you while playing the most unassuming of characters.

Saajan Fernandes (Khan) is one of the millions of government employees crouched over a desk and surrounded by dusty files and other equally inconspicuous people.

Yet, Khan manages to tell us much more about this seemingly colourless man with an evocative performance.

Movie Review: Phata Poster Nikhla Hero

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

Rajkumar Santoshi‘s “Phata Poster Nikhla Hero” unapologetically harks back to Bollywood of the 80s. The characters include the upright mother, the loyal son and the air-headed but charming leading lady. Don’t forget the goofy humour, and the good vs evil fight.

As the protagonist Vishwas Rao (Shahid Kapur) tells a character at the end of the film: I have done everything by now – romanced the heroine, danced with the item girl, fought the villain, and helped the police. Santoshi certainly ticked all the boxes, and if he only knew where to stop, he might have ended up with a better-than-average film.

Shahid Kapur plays a small-town boy who harbours dreams of becoming a Bollywood hero. His mother Savitri (Padmini Kolhapure) has different plans. She wants him to become an honest police officer to atone for the sins of her husband, who was everything a police officer shouldn’t be. She sends him to Mumbai to fulfil her dream, but Vishwas is hell-bent on making a career as a Hindi film hero.

Markets this week: Sensex gains 2.7 percent, Maruti surges 11 percent

By Ankush Arora and Sankalp Phartiyal

The BSE Sensex rose 2.7 percent in the week ending September 20, as foreign inflows and the U.S. Federal Reserve’s surprise decision to continue with its bond-buying programme boosted market sentiment.

The benchmark index, which is now up 9 percent in September and has gained for four consecutive weeks, touched its highest level since November 2010 on Thursday after the Fed’s surprising move. Analysts said the U.S. central bank’s decision could lead to a resurgence of portfolio flows into emerging markets such as India.

On Friday, the Reserve Bank of India stunned markets by raising the repo rate by 25 basis points (bps), but some of the recent rupee support measures were trimmed. The Indian currency gained 2 percent in the last five sessions and ended the week at 62.23/24 per dollar.

Delhi shaped South Asia’s Muslim identity, Pakistani author says

Raza Rumi is based in Lahore, but the public policy specialist and Friday Times editor’s new book is based in another milieu entirely. “Delhi by heart” is a kind of travelogue about a city that is the source of a shared heritage that spans hundreds of years.

By his own admission, it is a “heartfelt account” of how a Pakistani comes to India, an “enemy country”, and discovers that its capital has, in fact, so many things common with Lahore.

“I wanted to write the biography of Darah Shikoh, the great Indian Mughal prince,” Rumi said. “While researching for that, and while visiting Delhi all the time, I felt really it merits a Pakistani version as well because for these five years we have been so much cut off and we have misunderstood each other so much that it is time to sort of build bridges. Hence the book.”

Banking stocks surge in September; analysts cautious

After falling for four consecutive months, India’s banking stocks have surged in September on value buying and recent measures announced by the new Reserve Bank of India chief, but analysts remain cautious.

On his first day in office, RBI chief Raghuram Rajan announced measures to prop up the rupee and liberalise the banking system, including higher overseas borrowing limits for lenders and simpler branch opening processes.

The BSE banking index has gained more than 14 percent this month after losing nearly 30 percent during the April-August period, with stocks such as ICICI jumping 20 percent and YES Bank climbing more than 27 percent. The benchmark Sensex has gained around 6.5 percent in September. However, analysts believe the rally could lose steam.

Interview: India has a lot to offer in terms of Twitter stories – Twittamentary director

Two Indian social media consultants, Avinash Kalla and Bhaskar Pant, plan to release “Twittamentary India”, a film made in collaboration with Singapore-based documentary filmmaker Tan Siok Siok. Like Siok’s 2012 original “Twittamentary”, the new film will take a look at the Twitter community with the help of people on the social media website. “Twittamentary India” will explore the interactions that politicians, journalists and ordinary people have on Twitter in the country.

(Also read: Twitter in India to come alive in new documentary)

Arnika Thakur spoke to Siok about social media, “Twittamentary” and how India became the first country chapter. Edited excerpts from the interview.

Q: How did “Twittamentary” happen?
A: The motivation for making the film came about from my own experience on Twitter. I was kind of an early adopter and I came on Twitter in 2007, before it became mainstream … When I first started using it I thought it was quite inane. I couldn’t understand why anyone would want to be doing this … But when I started using it, I was amazed by the connections I was able to make, and by the amount of relationships and friendships I was able to form. At the same time I found that those who are really into Twitter had a really hard time trying to convey their experience to people who don’t get it. So I thought that it would actually be a very good topic for a film as film or video can be more visceral and you can convey emotion and experience that will be in logical terms.

Markets this week: Sensex gains 2.4 percent; L&T, Tata Power surge

September is turning out to be a good month for Indian shares, as key stock indexes extended gains in the last four sessions. Monday was a market holiday.

The BSE Sensex gained 2.4 percent, while the broader Nifty rose nearly 3 percent as foreign institutional investors (FIIs) extended buying into Indian equities. A recovery in the rupee, which posted its best week in 15 months, also boosted sentiment.

Profit-taking dented markets mid-week as caution also prevailed ahead of a series of macroeconomic events scheduled next week, including August inflation data due on Monday and the likelihood of U.S. Fed’s decision to announce a reduction in its monetary policy stimulus. RBI will review its policy on September 20.

Twitter in India to come alive in new documentary

Four years ago, Singapore-based documentary filmmaker Tan Siok Siok asked her Twitter friends to contribute ideas for a Twitter documentary. That was the beginning of her crowd-sourced film ‘Twittamentary’. She spent three years travelling across the United States, meeting strangers and documenting experiences on Twitter as she made the film.

Later this year, two Indian social media consultants, Avinash Kalla and Bhaskar Pant, in collaboration with Siok, plan to release a new film for India. “Twittamentary India” will look at the interactions that politicians, journalists and ordinary people have on Twitter in the country.

The essence remains the same as the original “Twittamentary”, a film about the Twitter community with the help of people on the social media website, but exploring different themes.

Delhi gang rape sentencing: reactions from people on the street

By Aditya Kalra and Arnika Thakur

All four men convicted of raping and murdering a 23-year-old woman in New Delhi were sentenced to death on Friday.

The India Insight team spoke to people outside the Saket court complex in New Delhi. Here are edited excerpts from conversations:

Ashok Gupta, 48, street vendor

We are so happy. We have been protesting at Jantar Mantar, at India Gate, and we have waited for so long. This should have happened long ago. I think this will instil fear in people. And they will think before they commit any crime against women.

Reactions on Twitter to the Delhi gang rape sentencing

All four men convicted of raping and murdering a 23-year-old woman in New Delhi were sentenced to death on Friday. Here is a compilation of politicians and other celebrities reacting on Twitter:

Sushma Swaraj, BJP MP
I welcome the judgement in Delhi gang rape case. This will serve as a deterrent for such offences.

Naveen Jindal, Congress MP
Justice has been served. Nirbhaya, we all hope you rest in peace. You have changed India, you are everyones daughter.

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