India Insight

Markets this week: M&M, GAIL top Sensex losers

By Sankalp Phartiyal and Ankush Arora

India’s benchmark indexes ended lower this week after scaling fresh peaks on Tuesday. The Sensex ended the week down 0.26 percent in its second consecutive week of falls. Indian markets were shut on Monday for a public holiday.

While strong buying by foreign investors bolstered blue chips, profit-booking and worries U.S. interest rates would rise sooner than expected kept shares under pressure.

On Tuesday, Goldman Sachs upgraded Indian shares to “overweight” from “marketweight” and raised its target on the Nifty to 7,600, citing lower external vulnerabilities, and chances of gains ahead of general elections.

Here are the top five Sensex losers and gainers this week:

LOSERS

M&M: Shares in India’s biggest utility vehicle maker ended the week with losses of 5.4 percent.

“We believe M&M’s market share loss in the UV/SUV segment is likely to stem while tractor volume growth will remain sedate (at 8-10% yoy in FY2015),” Kotak Institutional Equities wrote in a March 18 research note. The brokerage has a ‘neutral’ rating on the stock with a target price of 1,200 rupees.

Movie Review: Ankhon Dekhi

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

The protagonist in Rajat Kapoor’s “Ankhon Dekhi” will remind you of some relative that you may have encountered at numerous family gatherings — the talkative, eccentric but loveable uncle who arouses mixed emotions.

The rest of the film’s characters, including Bauji’s lovelorn daughter; the babbling, hot-tempered mother; and his brooding brother are all sketched by Kapoor with such affection, that in spite of their quirks and idiosyncrasies, they are recognizable as people in our daily lives.

Bauji, played by Sanjay Mishra, is a travel-agency employee who has an epiphany. He decides to believe only what he experiences and not rely on what other people tell him to make crucial decisions. This causes much upheaval in the lower-middle-class family that he heads. Bauji quits his job, his brother’s family leaves the house, and he is accused of disrespecting religion.

Movie Review: Lakshmi

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

Nagesh Kukunoor’s “Lakshmi” is supposed to be a no-holds-barred, searing look at the world of human trafficking and prostitution. The protagonist, a wide-eyed, innocent girl of 14 is sold to a pimp, raped several times, and forced into the flesh trade.

When Lakshmi finally gets the courage to fight back, she finds that the law is not necessarily on her side and the rot is deep inside the system. Kukunoor, who in the past has made films that demonstrated ample sensitivity and emotions, seems to have let go and concentrate merely on shocking and titillating the viewer.

Under the guise of portraying the plight of these women, Kukunoor focuses on blood, gore and stomach-churning violence. He plays a pimp in the film, one who assaults women at will with his weapon of choice — a wooden plank with nails attached.

A Minute With: Rajat Kapoor on ‘Ankhon Dekhi’

Over the past decade, film-maker Rajat Kapoor has found a niche for himself in Bollywood, writing and directing movies that rely more on unusual plots than glamorous movie stars.

His latest film, “Ankhon Dekhi”, has actor Sanjay Mishra playing a man who refuses to believe anything that he hasn’t experienced himself. The film opens in Indian cinemas on Friday.

Kapoor, 53, spoke to Reuters about “Ankhon Dekhi” and why he doesn’t work with Bollywood movie stars.

Photo gallery: The body as an art form in India

Bodhisattva Head, 1st-2nd century AD (Lucknow State Museum)

Bodhisattva Head, 1st-2nd century AD (Lucknow State Museum)

‘The Body in Indian Art’, on exhibit at the National Museum in New Delhi, is a pan-India project showcasing over 300 artworks from 44 institutions. The show is an exhaustive study of the body’s myriad representations in Indian art, roughly covering a period of 4,000 years across regions, religion and culture.

The exhibition has been put up in eight adjoining galleries, each with a specific theme such as death, birth, divinity or rapture.

Chances are you may get lost during the tour as the show is cyclical in its set-up, representing the circle of life the body stands for.

Writer Khushwant Singh dies at 99

Khushwant Singh, one of India’s best-known writers and columnists, died of a heart attack on Thursday. He was 99.

Singh was the founder-editor of Yojana and served as the editor of the Illustrated Weekly of India, the National Herald and the Hindustan Times. He practised as a lawyer before moving to journalism and writing, eventually authoring as many as 85 books.

In his last days, Singh had been interested in political developments ahead of the general election in April, his son Rahul told reporters in New Delhi on Thursday.

Blind foodie seeks Braille menus in Delhi restaurants

Baldev Gulati loves to eat out. Friends and family often join him, but sometimes he likes to go on a date with himself. There’s one problem — Gulati is blind.

The 43-year-old businessman, sightless since birth, was tired of asking waiters and fellow diners to read restaurant menus out loud. Gulati’s food choices were restricted and he couldn’t experiment with cuisines. That’s when the thought struck him — why not get restaurants in Delhi to introduce menus in Braille?

“[Eating out] was always a pain to me. When I am paying equally to the restaurants, why restaurants are not taking care of my needs?” said Gulati, the owner of a department store in west Delhi that employs the visually impaired.

Markets this week: Infosys, Sesa Sterlite top Sensex losers

The BSE Sensex closed in the red twice this week, eventually ending with losses of 0.5 percent. The week began with the benchmark index touching an all-time high of 22,023.98 points in trade on Monday, aided by strong foreign buying.

Shares retreated from record highs as investors booked profits and by Friday, some caution was setting in about the pace of recent gains.

Key economic data released this week showed prices cooling as wholesale and consumer inflation eased and industrial output rose slightly, raising hopes that the Reserve Bank of India would leave its key interest rate unchanged at its policy meet in April.

Movie Review: Bewakoofiyaan

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

Nupur Asthana’s “Bewakoofiyaan” deals with money, its effects on modern-day relationships, and how couples deal with societal pressures.

But the treatment of the film is quite outdated. There are autocratic fathers who don’t trust their daughters, and grown men who are out of a job but splurge on vacations and designer clothes.

None of the lead characters invite your sympathy or attention — whether it is Mayera (Sonam Kapoor), a spoilt, petulant girl who thinks her boyfriend’s credit card limit is a sign of growth; Mayera’s loud, blustering father (Rishi Kapoor) who doesn’t think twice before spying on the boyfriend; or Mohit Chaddha (Ayushmann Khurrana), the boyfriend in question.

A Minute With: Ayushmann Khurrana

It’s been two years since Ayushmann Khurrana made an unconventional Bollywood debut with “Vicky Donor”, playing a sought-after sperm donor at a fertility clinic.

Despite its bold theme, the romantic comedy was a hit in conservative India and helped Khurrana, a known face on Indian television, gain a foothold in a competitive Hindi film industry.

The 29-year-old actor and singer has three films lined up for release in 2014. “Bewakoofiyaan” opened in cinemas on Friday, starring Khurrana as an ambitious man who loses his job but has to impress his fiancee’s (Sonam Kapoor) cranky father.

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