India Insight

Reema Abbasi and a glimpse of Pakistan’s Hindu past

“Historic Temples in Pakistan: A Call to Conscience” is a book-length attempt to record in pictures the history of an Islamic country’s Hindu past, especially as extremist activity mounts against Pakistan’s religious and ethnic minorities, including Ahmadis, Christians, Sikhs and Shia Muslims.

Reema Abbasi, the book’s author, travelled the country to write this narrative of about 40 old religious sites, including Hindu temples in the jagged terrain of the western state of Balochistan. She also visited the Thar desert and the Indus River valley in the state of Sindh, as well as Karachi, Lahore, Punjab and dangerous stretches of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, along the border with Afghanistan.

Born a Pakistani in the Netherlands, she went to school in England, college in Karachi, and then worked as a journalist. A self-described “spiritual Muslim,” she has aspects of most religions in her home, such as an idol of Sai Baba, the cross and quranic verses.

“In the last 10 years, I have been focusing on socio-political [reporting] and then the whole hardliner issues here, and sectarianism. Not in the cities, but in upper north where there are pockets of extremists and terrorists. Given that climate, the kind of issues that were arising at the time and what I was writing about – I think that was the part towards this [book].

“[The shrines] were spellbinding. For me some of the structures were imbued with so much energy. … These places continue to bring so much together and serve multiple functions in their own capacity — their shelters, their inscriptions, their half-way houses for travelers, they provide relief to homeless. So in their very being they are doing so much. I think that’s the beauty of all ancient faith. Mosques do that, churches do that. That’s where all ancient faiths merge. It is very important to celebrate that kind of unity in diversity, rather than deny it,” Abbasi told India Insight in a telephone interview from Karachi.

Movie Review: Raja Natwarlal

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

Kunal Deshmukh, going by his filmography, loves two things – Emraan Hashmi and cricket. After “Jannat” – a movie about cricket and match fixing – and the caper film “Jannat 2″, director Deshmukh seems to have combined the storylines for his latest offering – a caper film about cricket starring Hashmi.

Raja NatwarlalRaja Natwarlal” is a flimsily written and half-heartedly directed film, which falls short of its lofty ambitions because no one associated with it seems to have any concern for detailing or authenticity on celluloid.

Hashmi plays a cocky, but good-hearted con man, who decides to rob 8 million rupees from a gangster. When his partner-in-crime Raghav (Deepak Tijori) has a change of heart and decides to return the money to Varda Yadav (Kay Kay Menon), Raghav is shot dead.

Markets this month: Tata Motors, M&M top Sensex gainers

By Ankush Arora and Sankalp Phartiyal

The BSE Sensex jumped 2.9 percent in August, the seventh consecutive monthly gain for the benchmark index in 2014. The broader Nifty closed 3 percent higher, its fourth straight month of gains.

A man looks at a screen across the road displaying the election results on the facade of the BSE building in MumbaiThe Indian stock market hit multiple record highs in August, helped by relentless foreign buying, easing of geopolitical tensions and continued optimism about the domestic economy’s revival.

On Friday, India will release GDP growth data for the April-June period. Asia’s third-largest economy likely grew at its fastest in two years in the first quarter of the current fiscal year, a Reuters poll predicted.

Sketchy Details

Something Doesn't Fit

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Interview: Rani Mukerji on playing “Mardaani” roles in Bollywood films

In 1997, when the top-grossing Bollywood films were a mix of fluffy romantic comedies and maudlin love triangles, a barely 20-year-old Rani Mukerji made her Hindi film debut playing a rape victim who is asked to marry her tormentor and faces innumerable challenges in her quest for dignity.

ranimukherjiRemembering that and the other films where she played a strong female character, a newly married Mukerji told India Insight she likes to strike a balance between what she calls substantial roles and those written only for entertaining fans. Her latest film “Mardaani,” (“Masculine”) produced by her producer husband, sees Mukerji in the role of a tough police officer out to bust a child-trafficking ring.

“I have always tried to portray strong women in all the films that I have done because I do feel that when people see movies they get very moved and they do feel inspired,” she said about the roles that she prefers.

Markets this week: Cipla, BHEL top Sensex gainers

A man looks at a screen across the road displaying the election results on the facade of the BSE building in MumbaiThe BSE Sensex closed 1.2 percent higher in a week that was marked by two successive record highs for the benchmark.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Independence Day speech and easing wholesale inflation boosted sentiment earlier in the week. Buying of Indian equities by foreign investors and a slide in Brent crude prices to near 14-months lows also helped.

Foreign portfolio investors have poured $12.2 billion in Indian shares this year on hopes the new BJP-led government and the Reserve Bank will revive flagging growth and lower deficit.

First pictures of Taj Mahal to ‘Hairy family of Burma’: subcontinent photos from 1850-1910

A new exhibition in India’s capital showcases some of the earliest photographs from South Asia, taken between 1850 and 1910 when the region was under British rule.

Around 250 images from India, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Nepal are on display at the “Drawn from Light: Early Photography and the Indian Sub-continent” exhibition in New Delhi.

Dr. John Murray’s images of the Taj Mahal are recognized as the first-ever photographs of the monument. The surgeon, who was employed with the East India Company, took the pictures between 1858 and 1862.

Movie review: ‘Katiyabaaz’ transforms banal reality into gripping tale

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

In one of the many tragicomic moments in “Katiyabaaz” (Powerless), a woman earnestly remembers her gods in the darkness, mumbling something that roughly translates to “Dear Almighty, please bring back the light”. ‘Light’ here means electricity.

katiyaaHer prayer sounds absurd but her misery is real. As a resident of Kanpur, the invocation is probably made after several hours without electricity or even clean water in the sweltering and often lethal heat of a north Indian summer.

The award-winning documentary by Fahad Mustafa and Deepti Kakkar takes a compelling look at the problem of chronic power outages that the industrial city of Kanpur has suffered for decades. The film-makers focus their lens on Loha Singh and Ritu Maheshwari, two unusual but highly engaging heroes.

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Feeding The Baby

 

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Movie review: Supercop ‘Singham Returns’ with a roar

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

He can punch legions of hired hoodlums into submission. Troublemakers on speeding bikes can’t get past him, for he grabs them by their collars without suffering so much as a sprain. His stunts are out of this world, because gravity bends to his will and friction doesn’t slow him down.

4Meet Bajirao Singham, the one-man army in director Rohit Shetty’s ‘Singham Returns’, a black-and-white world of sententious dialogue, over-the-top action, loud background music and mildly entertaining humour.

To quickly summarise the plot, Singham (Ajay Devgn) is Mumbai’s Deputy Commissioner of Police, a supercop blessed with infinite courage, phenomenal crime-fighting abilities and an unassailable character. Assigned the task of protecting upright politician Gurukant Desai (Anupam Kher), Singham comes in direct confrontation with Desai’s political ally, the unscrupulous Prakash Rao (Zakir Hussain) and his partner-in-crime — a wily, pot-bellied and all-powerful ‘godman’ called Baba (Amol Gupte). Singham must also try to clear the name of his colleague Mahesh, a low-ranked police official who was inexplicably discovered dead with a huge stash of unaccounted money.

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