Tag Archive: women



Diganta Guha

Veteran playback singer Kavita Krishnamurthy was in town recently to perform at a concert organised by the Saradha Group of Companies. Excerpts:

There is no dearth of item songs now in Bollywood, but you are the pioneer of such numbers…
I wouldn’t call myself a pioneer. Yes I did sing songs like Hawaa hawaai, Jumma Chumma and Tu cheez badi hai mast mast. I believe those songs had better lyrics. Today’s songs just come and go, at least I can’t recall the lyrics and the antaras. 

How do you see the playback scenario these days?
Well, it’s always important for a singer to walk with time. I am not the type that says, “Oh! The old songs of my generation were far better.” You have to accept what we have today. But I do concede that there has been deterioration in terms of lyrics. We have grown up listening to Majrooh Sultanpuri and many other fabulous writers. Now we have just Gulzar Saab and Javed Akhtar. There is too much orchestra used nowadays. 

You have sung a number of Bengali songs. You should be happy to know that songs of Bengali films are again becoming popular.
That’s very encouraging. The songs are much better and more meaningful. I recently sang for a Rabindrasangeet album called Bhalobashi. It’s doing well and I have plans to sing a lot more in Bengali. 

What keeps you busy nowadays?
I am doing a lot of projects that are ‘non-filmi’. The film offers I get are all inconsequential songs. There are lots of new music directors and lyricists who have come up, but their offers are not interesting enough. But music is an integral part of my life and I am keeping that alive by singing in concerts and  for projects like spiritual albums. 

I know it’s tough, but if you are to list three of your favourite numbers, which ones would those be?
My selection doesn’t depend on the song’s popularity. It has something to do with my sentiment. There are certain songs that changed my career graph and I am very sensitive towards them. I like       Hawaa hawaai, the songs of 1942 A Love Story and of course the numbers in Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam. I would rate the songs of HDDCS as really special because they were so different and there was so much of variety in them.  
Who are your favourite singers from the current crop?
They are all good individually. I like Shaan, Sunidhi Chauhan, Shreya Ghoshal and KK.

What is it like to perform in Kolkata?
It’s always a wonderful experience because there is a strong culture of music here. Kolkata genuinely loves good music. It is always heartwarming to perform here.


Jaya Biswas

Film: Tees Maar Khan
Director: Farah Khan
Cast: Akshay Kumar, Katrina Kaif, Akshaye Khanna, Ali Asgar, Apara Mehta, Aman Verma, Murli Sharma, Sachin Khedekar
Rating: Poor

As the title suggests, the film is about the sharpest conman of all Tabrez Mirza Khan alias Khanon mein Khan’ Tees Maar Khan (Akshay Kumar). Here Akshay is a master criminal who learns to steal even before he is born, the foetus fed on crime thrillers his pregnant mother watched.
What begins as a regular comedy gradually becomes the story of the great Indian train robbery undertaken by Tees Maar Khan for the conjoined conmen, played by MTV’s twin baldies, Raghu and Rajiv. They assign Khan to retrieve their loot which the government has seized. Khan pretends to shoot a patriotic train robbery film, Bharat Ka Khazana, while managing the act for real. He also picks a village and casts its inhabitants to act in his film; bluffs them into participating in a crime.
And in all this, Tees Maar Khan deceives the audience by claiming to be a funny movie. If you’ve seen the promos, you know the brand of humour (or the lack of it). And when it comes to the business of conning, it’s only talk and no shock! Though the first half is bearable, the second half becomes Tashan — Part 2, if you know what I mean.
The film’s story, put together by Farah’s husband Shirish Kunder, is a complete mess. But you can’t blame him either. After all, he had to take care of background score, screenplay, story, editing to refreshments on the sets and God knows what else, evident from the credits.
The dialogues written by Shirish Kunder and Ashmith Kunder desperately try to be humorous but fall flat at most instances. Sample this: Tube se nikli huyi toothpaste aur Tees Maar Khan ki di huyi zubaan kabhi wapas nahin jaati or Mere nange haath tumhare nange gaal par — you don’t expect such scary lines in a Farah Khan film.
There is a lot of screaming, grimacing and heaving. Here is an example of the level of the jokes — Khan as Hollywood director calls himself Manoj ‘Day’ Ramalan (Grrrr…)
The eponymous role is custom-made for Akshay Kumar and while he plays it effortlessly, he is clearly getting repetitive in his comic act (a concoction of Hera Pheri 1 & 2, Tashan, Khiladi series et al).
Akshaye Khanna as Aatish Kapoor, an Oscar-hungry actor, whose only mission in life is to groove on the Day-Ho number (akin to Anil Kapoor’s joyous leap on Jai-Ho when he was called to receive one of the Oscars for Slumdog Millionnaire), is brilliant. He is expected to act terribly and he does that with such perfection, that it gets on your nerves.
Farah’s fascination for Manoj Kumar (remember Om Shanti Om controversies?) continues in this one too. It’s high time the filmmaker realises that spoofs don’t work — not always!
Composer duo Vishal-Shekhar’s music has mass appeal. As Khan’s girlfriend in the film, Anya (Katrina Kaif) is categorically roped in only for her sex-appeal and she has oodles of it. Anya, a struggling actress is also cast by Khan in his fake film and her role in it is as questionable as her role in TMK. But Farah Khan’s raunchy choreography of the item number, Sheila Ki Jawani, portrays Kat at her sexiest best. Apara Mehta is a cheap imitation of Kirron Kher in Farah’s previous film Om Shanti Om.
Sachin Khedekar, Aman Verma and Murli Sharma as police officers are hardly amusing on screen. Salman Khan shows his ‘jalwa’ yet again in a cameo. TMK may take a smashing opening at the box office, courtesy Sheila and her jawani, but there is every chance of it fizzling out soon.
Though funny in bits and pieces, too much of hamming makes it a boring watch.


Fast and the Furious


Supreeta Singh

There was a time when the word ‘romance’ evoked a sense of adventure and thrill. It felt like the slow unveiling of a fantastic treasure that only you were privy to. Love was a private affair, an emotion to be cherished, built upon and guarded with jealous pride. The journey from being strangers to lovers and finally being a married couple used to be a step-by-step discovery. It was both arduous and intoxicating. Even a few decades ago, men and women had a certain charm about them – men were expected to be chivalrous while women were painstakingly coy. Many rue that today the spirit of ‘true romance’ is fading away, only to be replaced by a relationship which is more ‘convenient’. There is nothing emotional about it. While it is true that times were different then, life was simpler… yet even now whenever there is a reference of ‘love’ it can still tug at the heartstrings. Ayan Chatterjee, CEO of Futuresoft says that it makes him sad to see how the whole dynamics of courtship, communication and commitment have changed over the years. “This is the age of flings. Men and women neither have the patience nor perseverance to search for something deeper in their relationships. Much of it is on the surface with conditions applied.” Earlier, rules were stringent and young couples were kept under the scanner of the watchful eyes of parents. The young man had to muster enough courage to approach his dream girl whose best friend became the channel for communication. Debika Mukherjee, a housewife and mother of two remembers how she had to devise elaborate plans to fix a date with her then boyfriend and now husband. “I am talking about the early 70s. My husband and his parents were our tenants. I was in college. Since I knew my parents would oppose the match, we would meet at a friend’s place. We would write each other letters and fix up a time and place. My friend would deliver the message to him. When he left the city for his job, we would write long love letters. I would look at his photograph and cry copious tears!” Today, a date begins with an SMS that says, ‘Let’s have a cup of coffee’. In an age of urbanisation and liberalisation, few men and women are willing to walk the extra mile for each other. Thanks to digital revolution that has fostered online communities like Facebook or virtual communication like Skype, the world has come closer. Issues of commitment do not bother anyone. The concept of ‘one-woman man’ or ‘one-man woman’ is also under considerable pressure. Ayan observes, “With so much sharing of personal information on public platforms, the depth has gone out of people and relationships. The wait for the perfect girl or boy is no longer that intense. If you don’t like someone, you just move on to another person. I see young girls come to nightclubs with different guys every week. These women use moneyed men as their arm-candies and the men in turn enjoy other favours.” Samadrita Bhattacharya, an IT professional believes that men and women are ready to compromise with their values and are motivated by their mind and not their heart when choosing partners. “I see a lot of women around me who are not spontaneous anymore. First they think about the man’s social standing, money and future prospects before they even begin to date. If you let your mind decide for you, then what about your emotions? Relationships are therefore more cut and dry than they used to be.” The fairy tale romance is now obsolete. Or Is it?

The EX – Factor

Is it possible to stay friends with a former lover? Read on to find the answer


Supreeta Singh

This person knows all your secrets. You are comfortable together. You have shared almost everything. Unfortunately, things didn’t turn out as you expected. Once, you two were lovers. Now, your relationship is a matter of the past. But does that mean everything is over? Just because you are not lovers anymore, is the friendship that existed between you no longer important? Whether you had a tough breakup or a mutual separation, an ex-lover can become a great buddy once the initial discomfort settles down. Or perhaps not?

Priyanka Chakrabarti
| student: YES If you had a nasty break up, it becomes difficult to be friends with your ex. But as both move-on in life, I think it is possible that your ex might become your best friend because both of you know each other well. I have seen that a lot of times the best advice comes from your ex. So, try being a little more forgiving towards each other and forget all your differences. It will work wonders!

Soumya Rao | student: YES I believe that one can be friends with one’s ex, but the process is not an easy one, and will take a great deal of time and maturity on the part of both of them to settle the matter. First and foremost, you need time to be able to let go of the relationship and truly get over the person. You also have to be willing to realise that as friends, you will not have the same degree of influence or insight into the other person’s life. Most of all, if as a girlfriend /boyfriend you were used to a great deal of importance in the person’s life, you will have to have the maturity to accept that you will no longer have the same and should also be able to see your ex move on.

Riya Gupta | student: NO I don’t think it’s a good idea being friends with your ex. They are like those dark experiences that we wish to forget and if we want to move on in life, we have to erase them completely from our memory. Friendship with them will only invite a troubled state of mind. So I believe it’s not a great idea to be friends with one’s ex.

Debapriya Goswami | marketing professional: NO It’s not at all possible to be friends with your ex. This is not a real friendship. This kind of “friendship” isn’t good and will just make everyone feel awkward and uncomfortable. The worst possible situation to be in when you are friends after a break up is to still hold a grudge against each other but to be passive and aggressive about it. 

Sarvesha Karnani | public
relations professional: YES You can be friends if you give it a gap of a few years after your break up and then see each other again. It gives you adequate time to move on with your life. But immediately after the break up? I think it’s too soon to swap an intense relationship for a mere friendship. You need a transitional phase especially when deep emotions are involved!!
Souradeep Raul Dutta
| singer/songwriter: YES Cconsidering you were in a relationship you would probably know this person really well and vice versa. So I think it’s possible to take your ex as your friend. Moreover, I would consider it a precious relationship since nowadays everyone can be anonymous, thanks to social networking sites. As far as residual emotions are concerned, that depends on the realtionship and the people concerned. There can’t be a general answer to that.

Anupam More | businessman:
YES I think it is possible to be friends with your former girlfriend. Every relationship has both good and bad moments. If for any reason it doesn’t work out between two people, there’s no reason to be bitter about it. One should be realistic about life and try to accept it in a more graceful manner rather than ending it in a fight. Life is too short to bear grudges. One should remember the good times and move on with life.

Indroneel Mukherjee | fashion designer and stylist: NO To get over an ex-lover, the first step is to completely cut off all ties or else you can really never get over. There is too much familiarity between the two people and you end up making up again and again. So if it’s over, make sure it’s really over! I tell my friends all the time, to get over a man get under another man! And that can’t happen if your ex, even as a friend is around.

Youngsters and Spirituality

Supreeta Singh

When Akshay Kumar sings Hare Ram Hare Ram, Hare Krishna Hare Ram sporting a saffron bandana and branded glasses, the whole nation chants along. A jilted Justin Timberlake croons What Goes Around, Comes Right Back Around about karma. Amish Tripathi’s debut novel The Immortals of Meluha portrays an upright man deified as Shiva.
Clearly, fate and destiny are no more the concern of only the elderly or unemployed – and god-men. Kismet, or divine will, now fascinates and enthrals the youth too. Are terrorism, degradation of the environment and racial-religious fault lines plunging humanity into pre-ordained violence? And what’s the purpose of life? Do human beings really have a soul? Is soul timeless? Does it survive death?
Teenagers, besides young men and women in their 20s, are grappling with these questions as never before  – and want answers. 
Amish Tripathi is floored by the response to his book. “Readers as young as 12 are writing to me. A few of them said they were afraid of God but now they see God in a new light. Others have described my book as a wild ride, while many have changed their Facebook profile picture to the book cover.”
Moreover, the character of Shiva impressed a reader so much that he got the book cover tattoed on his arm. A 16-year-old called Shiva a cool dude. “What I find most gratifying is that the response not just from Hindus but Christians, Muslims, Parsees, Jews and foreigners who know very little about India”, adds Tripathi.
Youth is breaking free of the shackles of religion it seems. It sees God as a supreme power. Period. Riddhima Toshniwal, who has a post-graduate diploma in journalism and mass communications, says: “I am spiritual rather than religious.
True, I’m a Hindu by birth and read the Hanuman Chalisa every night. But I also visit churches often and have also been to gurudwaras. I really don’t have a name for the God I pray to. In that sense, my birth certificate doesn’t tell the full story”, says Riddhi. 
In an age of strife, God clearly is a source of strength. The distinction between good and evil is inevitably highlighted when one has to choose between right and wrong. But many don’t see it from a religious or spiritual perspective. Debak Das, a student of International Relations at Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University remarked that good and evil cannot be defined in absolute terms. “I am neither religious nor spiritual. Incidents like murders, for example are circumstantial. Caste conflict stems from socio-political
reasons. So I try to be as objective as possible. You could call it a scientific approach. We can shape our own destiny with hard work and time management.”
There are many who do not believe in God at all. They want to experience what they call the “truth” sans religion. According to them, religious belief is rooted in fear which leads to superstitions. Student Amoha Das says, “Beliefs distract people from the beauty, grandeur, splendour and divinity of existence. Priests across religions inspire people into believing in God, heaven, virtue
and sin. But spirituality is more individualistic: it’s all about communicating directly with a supreme power.”
“While religions have everything to do with the past and the future, spirituality is about the present moment.”
Abhishek Basu, an MBA student, says: “What you do today will have a bearing on your future. I cannot control everything that happens to me but I can definitely control I how react to them. To remain truthful is my mode of worship. I am not
concerned with spirituality per se. But I believe in giving my best and living as honestly as possible.”
A thoughtful Riddhima says: “There is a purpose behind whatever happens. And while you may not get what you want, you get what’s good for you at that point of time. I have seen this happen in my own life. So I see God as a protective force prodding me in the right direction.”

Fair and ghastly!


Natasha Kesh and Ananya Majumdar
Actors are all over the small screen and hoardings endorsing everything from shampoos and creams to cement. From Shah Ruhk Khan and John Abraham to Kareena Kapoor everyone is endorsing one of the fastest moving commodities in the market — fairness creams. But Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, who is the brand ambassador of an international brand, declined to promote a fairness crèam of the same brand. Thankfully here is one person who is conscious of the fact that such advertisements are demeaning as they equate fairness with beauty.
Nevertheless, business enterprises are capitalising extensively on this fascination for fair skin and flooding the markets with fairness products. Every major brand has some kind of fairness product in its kitty. Name any Indian company that makes beauty products, and you have it. Foreign brands, which are banned from launching such products in their own land, are also making inroads with such products cashing in on the Indian obsession for fairness. They tempt consumers with promises of getting rid of the high melanin content responsible for darker skin within 15 days, 14 days, 7 days and some even claim results in only 5 days. Not only soaps and creams, a talcum powder is now playing on the psyche with a promise of ‘instant glow’ that is suggestive of fairer complexion.
No matter how tall their claims are, all these products have a market which only proves the craze to be fair. Do customers actually believe it’s possible to change skintone? Dr Shobha Sehgal, head of beauty, VLCC Health Care Limited said of the clients who come to VLCC for skin care treatments, almost 60 per cent want skin lightening treatments, which also includes tan removal, skin radiance treatments or the perfect skin whitening treatment. Those coming in for pre- bridal packages, almost 80 per cent want skin lightening treatments in the package. “It’s not just girls who want to become fair. There has been an increase in the number of men who come to the center demanding skin lightening treatments. We have to counsel our clients to focus on their holistic wellness so that they don’t just look good but also feel great,” said Shobha.
The figures show many put blind faith in such creams. Paromita Nandi, a TV presenter in Kolkata swears by such products.
“I am obsessed with fairness and prefer to use anything to give my skin a lighter tint. I did turn a few heads once I started using Fair and Lovely consistently and I am happy with the results. After my programmes I get as many emails from people saying they love my skin colour.”
She is not alone. Gargi Choudhary, a 25-year-old college student says, “I’d like to have a glowing skin and therefore keep trying various products in the market. Though I don’t like to discuss it with friends. I feel shy.”
Not everybody shares the prejudice as Ria Saha, an Economics student from Goenka College says, “I don’t have a hangover for fairness, but I know some people do. I’d rather have glowing skin to having a fairer skin.”
Do we still turn a blind eye to the harmful after-effects of creams packaged in glossy tubes? As Rituparna Gupta, a microbiologist exclaims, “It is our right as consumers to know what is going into these creams. It’s time they stopped touting these creams as having no side-effects.” Dr Subrata Majumdar, a scientist who has dealt extensively with skin-related issues said most fairness creams have a high percentage of hydroquinone, which blocks melanin secretion. Mercury and a new derivative of Vitamin C, Kogic Acid are used too, which even peel the skin. The harmful after-effects, opines Dr Majumdar, are skin cancer and kidney problems.
Over the past few decade feminists have scoffed at the propaganda of ‘fair is beautiful and successful.’ A feminist activist in Delhi, Sabeira Pereira is surprised to know how much of an impact a cream can have on the psyche of people. “Brands such as Fair and Lovely are running campaigns to say they fulfill a social need. They say 90 per cent of the women use creams to lighten their skin tone because it is aspirational in a way. A fairer skin is like an educational and social step up. I suppose everybody likes to believe that success is easy to get using this commodity.”
A dark-skinned pride movement has been growing in recent years. Women across the web have been writing about their heartfelt acceptance of their skin colour, just as it were, including Ruchira Sengupta, who has written a doctoral thesis on the topic. “My mornings used to involve at least an hour of skin routines, just to see if I could look a bit fairer. But now no more,” she says.
But it’s a long way to go before the fairness bubble is busted.

Farah Khatoon
Head of the Department of Gynecologic Oncology at Chittaranjan National Cancer Institute, Dr Partha Basu talks about the fatal disease, how it effects the country and measures to combat it.
What is the scenario of cervical cancer in the city?
Our institute receives 600-700 cases a year, out of which 90 per cent are in the advanced stage. India has one-fourth of the total number of cervical cancer patients with nearly 13,2000 women being diagnosed. Nearly 75,000 women in the prime of their lives, who run households and keep the family together succumb to the disease each year.
How can we combat cervical cancer in India?
Infrastructural development is the main way to combat it. The highest percentage of women affected by cervical cancer is found in low resource settings. Countries with efficient systems of screening, detecting and treating pre-cancerous lesions have been able to prevent cervical cancer and reduce mortality rates. Rural women in India are more prone to the disease because of early marriage and lack of awareness.
How far is the government responsible?
We are having ‘preventable deaths’. The rate of death during child birth and cervical cancer is almost the same in India but cervical cancer is never prioritised. Low-cost tests are available which would help in detecting the disease at an early stage. There is no dearth of funds but it remains unutilised. Even a country like Bangladesh can adopt a National Cancer Control Programme but we seem to be lacking in that area.
What is prohibiting the urban educated class from combating this disease?
A survey among the urban educated section revealed that only 25 per cent of the couple surveyed knew about the disease, so an awareness is needed. Though the screening is cheap as it comes for Rs 250 but the vaccine comes for Rs 9000. So it acts as a deterrent. Moreover, women hesitate to address their grievances because it is related to their private parts. However, cost can come down if more private pharmaceutical companies are involved and vaccination programmes can be organised through donations.
How is it an economic burden on India?
The burden of the disease in India is enormous with nearly 1,32,000 women being diagnosed every year. This could be avoided as it is a great economical as well as social burden. These deaths affect the family and the society at large. It is estimated that if a cervical cancer prevention programme is not introduced, these figures will double by 2020, taking a toll on families, society in entirety and of course on women themselves.
Is it a genetically transferable disease?
No. It is a sexually transferable disease. Infections are common but the infections might manifest itself into cervical cancer in the later part of life.
Can it be prevented? How?
It can be prevented in two ways: firstly, by vaccines and secondly by detecting the cancer at the pre-cancer stage.

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