India Insight

Bollywood fashion at Cannes

By Arnika Thakur and Shashank Chouhan

(Any opinions expressed here are those of the authors and not necessarily of Reuters)

The image of Aishwarya Rai in a striking yellow sari with lots of gold jewellery walking the red carpet at Cannes 2002 is one that a generation of Indian movie fans may not forget.

Few Indians were familiar with Cannes until the actress made an appearance on the French Riviera. Not only did Rai introduce fans back home to the world’s leading cinema showcase, she also made global audiences take note of Bollywood. This year, the 66th Cannes festival is showcasing India as a guest country to mark the centenary of its film industry.

Celebrities such as Sonam Kapoor, Mallika Sherawat, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Frieda Pinto and Amitabh Bachchan made an appearance – and had to step up their fashion game.

Glamour is key at the annual film festival and the trek down the red carpet is fraught with risk for the glitterati.

Counting the cost of India’s blackouts

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

Is it better to pay more money for more electricity, or keep prices low and look forward to blackouts that will conk out offices, factories and homes in India? That is the question that lies at the heart of an ongoing debate about whether authorities should allow utilities Adani Power Ltd and Tata Power Co Ltd to raise their tariffs on existing contracts to clients, to compensate the companies for the domestic coal supply shortages and the rising cost of buying coal from overseas.

Much of it a relic from before the 1991 economic reforms that kick-started the India growth story, the country’s infrastructure is screaming out for more investment to fix pot-holed roads, modernise the railway network and build more power plants. But unable to match the spending power that the likes of China have, the Indian government has turned to the private sector to fund much of the new infrastructure it needs. Indian politicians must therefore strike a balance between allowing the private sector to make money, while at the same time protecting the interests of customers (and voters) in a country where hundreds of millions live below the poverty line.

The way ahead for India’s “caged parrot”

When India’s top court berated the government this month for interfering in a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) report, it put the spotlight on a long-standing opposition gripe that the federal law enforcement agency was being politically influenced.

“The CBI has become the state’s parrot. Only screaming, repeating the master’s voice,” Justice R.M. Lodha said on May 8, urging the government to strengthen the agency’s independence.

The CBI denied the accusations and emphasized its impartiality.

Reuters India Online spoke to various experts for their views on whether the CBI was indeed a “caged parrot” and if yes, how best to ensure it could withstand political pressure. Excerpts:

Tracking Sensex: Top five gainers, losers this week

The BSE Sensex ended above the 20,000 mark on Friday after gaining 2.6 percent in the last five trading sessions. The index has now risen for four straight weeks. Here are the top five Sensex gainers and losers of the week:

GAINERS

Tata Motors: The automaker’s stock surged 8.15 percent in the week ending May 10, making it the best Sensex performer. Though the stock is still flat in 2013, it has gained nearly 15 percent since April. However, Ambareesh Baliga of Edelweiss Financial Services advises caution: “Tata Motors’ overdependence on Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) to negate the Indian underperformance makes it a risky investment at this juncture especially in view of lower margins at JLR”

Hindalco: Shares of India’s largest aluminium producer surged 8 percent this week. The stock extended gains throughout the week after rising 3.5 percent on Monday, on expectations of better realizations after copper prices rose more than 6 percent last Friday.

Mike Pandey hits bureaucratic hurdle for film on tigers

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

For more than 30 years, Mike Pandey has been a man with a mission. In its special issue on Heroes of the Environment in 2009, Time magazine credited the maker of wildlife documentaries with efforts to protect “everything from whale sharks to elephants, vultures to medicinal plants.”

In 1994, Pandey became the first Asian film-maker to win the Wildscreen Panda Award, better known as the Green Oscar, for his film on the capture of wild elephants. He also won the award twice in the next decade.

from Photographers' Blog:

India’s missing daughters

New Delhi, India

By Mansi Thapliyal

Atika, 10, woke up early one morning in August 2008 and was sent by her mother to buy a few items from a nearby shop. She returned and told her mother she would prepare tea for her father before quickly going to use a communal toilet close to her house. She never returned.

Ambika was a feisty 15-year-old high school student who took wrestling classes. Her mother returned home from work late in the night on October 10, 2010. She woke up the next morning and found her daughter missing.

Atika and Ambika are among the thousands of children who go missing from India's streets, schools and homes every year.

I’m an Indian politician… on TV

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

Are they parliamentarians, or do they just play ones on TV? After pushing through proposals on foreign investment in the retail and the aviation sector late last year, India’s elected representatives apparently have decided to get as little done as possible during the current session.

On television, it’s another matter. Newsroom studios appear to be the preferred forum for debating problems and legislation that normally would be the province of parliament. Those include recent demands by the coalition government’s prime opponent, the Bharatiya Janata Party, for the resignations of the prime minister, law minister and the railway minister over accusations that the government interfered with an investigation of improper allocation of coal mine licenses and certain other bribery allegations.

Karnataka Assembly elections: Bangalore goes to the polls

(Pictures by Gokul Chandrasekhar, Rahul Singh and Raktim Hazarika) Elections to 224 constituencies of the Legislative Assembly of Karnataka were held on Sunday, May 5, 2013 across the state. The state capital Bangalore has 28 seats in the legislative assembly. Despite muted campaigning in the city, voters came out in large numbers to vote. Security was tight, given that the city had witnessed a bomb attack barely a few weeks ago.  Voter turnout was brisk during the early hours but slowed towards the afternoon. Here are a few snapshots of the polling booths across the city, where the elections by and large were peaceful.

Celebrities and their favourite Indian films

As India celebrates 100 years of cinema, we asked celebrities to name their favourite Indian film. It was a tough choice. After all, there are tens of thousands of films to choose from. How could they select only one? In the end, all our respondents sent in several choices, unable to pinpoint the one Indian film they thought was the best.

Fashion designer Ritu Kumar was closest to the brief, naming just two personal favourites. Her choices: “Umrao Jaan” and “Mughal-E-Azam“. Both films were in her words “classical for music, costumes and ethos.”

For writer Amish Tripathi, “Mughal-E-Azam“, “Guide” and “Sholay” reigned supreme in Bollywood. Pressed to reveal his all-time favourite, the author of the Shiva trilogy reluctantly chose the Dev Anand film based on R.K. Narayan’s novel.

from Photographers' Blog:

Bollywood dreams

Mumbai, India

By Danish Siddiqui

The Hindi film industry or Bollywood can make a star, a household name out of anyone overnight. It can bring instant money, fame and the fan-following of millions from across continents.

Bollywood is an addiction for many that attracts thousands of aspirants to the breeding grounds, the city of Mumbai, everyday. I was keen to look at this other side of the glamour world. The side that entails the struggle to enter the world of aspiring dreamers and their struggles to become a star.

There is no time limit to becoming a nationwide sensation, a star in Bollywood. As one of the aspirants told me it's a gamble you take, forgetting all your worries about the results.

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