Joined: 20 October 2005
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Indian actress to pair opposite Pak superstar Shaan
Indian actress to pair opposite Pak superstar Shaan Apart from contributing to the India-Pakistan cultural thaw, Indian actress Sheeba Bhakri has more reasons to feel happy and proud, reports IANS. Happy because her first India-Pakistan multi-star film in Punjabi - "Pind Di Kudi" (village girl) - is complete and ready for release. Proud because she has now been chosen to act opposite Pakistan film industry's superstar Shaan in a Pakistani Punjabi film. Being the first actress from India to be signed for a film in Pakistan, Sheeba has her plans worked out. "The shooting starts after Nov 14 and the schedule would be over in one month flat," she said here Monday. Sheeba understands the responsibility on her shoulders for the Pakistani film has been titled "Bade Chaudhary". "I want to do well and be recognised as a good actor on both sides of the border. Pakistani actors have a solid theatre background and are quite talented. It would be nice to work with them. Shaan enjoys the status in Pakistani film industry that Amitabh Bachchan has in Bollywood," she pointed out. Besides "Pind Di Kudi" that she has just completed, Sheeba has acted in a few Bollywood films as well. One of these was "Yeh Kaisi Mohabbat" opposite Abhishek. Though living in Mumbai, Sheeba has a strong Punjab connection as her father and other relatives were associated with the Punjabi film industry here. "We belong to Jalandhar district," she said. Sheeba said it was great to work in a India-Pakistan joint production with actors from across the border. She particularly praised Veena Malik, the Punjabi heroine from Pakistan who co-starred with her and hero Sarbjeet Cheema in "Pind Di Kudi". The Pakistani actress incidentally had an Indian name - Veena (a musical instrument). "Pind Di Kudi" was also the first foray in films by Sarbjeet Cheema - an accomplished Punjabi singer. Sarbjeet has sung three songs in the film. He said it was great to work with two heroines at the same time - one from Pakistan (Veena) and one from India (Sheeba). Producer Iqbal Dhillon said that "Pind Di Kudi" was complete in most aspects. "Only a few shots would be taken in Pakistan to give it a cross-border touch," he added. The film was directed by Sukhwant Dhadda. The music of the film was released early October. "Pind Di Kudi" cost nearly Rs.25 million and was completed within five months after being launched as the first India-Pakistan joint production. Indian government liberally gave visas for Pakistani actors and other artistes when they came over several times for shooting. The film was shot in and around Chandigarh and some parts of Indian Punjab.
An American Teenager's Book on Pakistan Women Launches in U.S.
It's probably not all that remarkable that a young American went to Pakistan and found fascinating the traditions that define daily life there, from the calls to prayer to the garishly decorated transport trucks.
Not all that remarkable, except that somewhere along the trip the young girl turned from tourist to commentator, conducting formal interviews with 10 Pakistani women she met.
This was the experience of Chiara Angela Kovarik, a Mendota Heights teenager who with her parents spent a month in Pakistan in summer 2001. Now, at 17, she has published her work in a 174-page book titled "Interviews with Muslim Women of Pakistan."
The book offers a fresh take on the nation that has become a complicated partner in the war on terror. The interviews, conducted when Kovarik was just 13, are intimate and friendly. The women are opinionated and bold, and perhaps because of Kovarik's age at the time, come off as unguarded.
A translator bridged the gap between the women's Urdu and Kovarik's English. Establishing each interview was itself a dance of cultural differences and gender roles.
Kovarik first asked permission to speak to the women. Many said no. The ones who agreed spoke with husbands or brothers present, and sometimes spoke only after the men tried to answer Kovarik's questions. "Surprisingly the women were very open about everything," said Kovarik.
The book started as something of a dare from her father, Tom Kovarik, who noticed his daughter's curiosity and casually threw out a suggestion: "Why not write a book?"
"At first I thought, 'What are you talking about?' " Kovarik recalled, laughing. "But then I thought, 'Well, that's a really good idea because these women have thoughts and ideas and they're not going to be heard.' "
Her book, published by Syren Book Company of Minneapolis, came out last month in a first printing of 800. A second printing of 400 books has been ordered. It's available at Amazon, Itasca Books, Borders, and Barnes and Noble.
So how does an American teenager who plays varsity tennis and track find time to write? "It took a lot of time," she said.
It may help with things yet to come: Kovarik, a senior at Visitation school in Mendota Heights, hopes to attend Stanford or Georgetown next year to study international relations.
She's been to 22 countries. She speaks the native language of her Italian mother, Maria Teresa Olivari, a cardiologist. Her family went to Pakistan at the invitation of a colleague of her father, who works as a database administrator for the Minnesota Supreme Court.
Her conclusion about Pakistani women: They want more opportunities for jobs and education but they don't see themselves as oppressed. She said, "It seems to me like these women are struggling, especially in the modern era, to get their voices out."
Ali Azmat to Work with Alanis Morissette as Junoon
From being heralded as Asia's biggest rock act that redefined Sufi rock, Junoon has come a long way. The band that was applauded by U2's Bono for their efforts at propagating world peace, is finally taking a break, what with all its members concentrating on their solo careers.
"The band has not split, but yes, we are concentrating on our solo careers," is how Ali Azmat, the radical vocalist of Junoon, sums up the situation. "Brian left the band last year and is back in the US of A now. We were continuously on the road and he was missing his family like crazy. He was always talking about his kids and how he missed being with them. He went into depression and we would often find him crying inconsolably. There was no other option but to let him go," he adds.
Salman Ahmed shifted base to USA as well, but for his own reasons. "I have known Salman for the last 18 years. But now the dynamics have changed. Priorities have changed. He wanted to give his children the best education and environment for growing up. That was Salman's priority and he responded to it by shifting base. Today we are giving each other the room for personal growth. The respect for each other, however, is intact," says Azmat.
As for himself, Azmat has been signed up by the Alanis Morisette Music Company. "I have been signed up as a solo artiste by them. Both Alanis and me are going to work on a song together which will be out soon," Ali says with a hint of pride.
But back to the times when the band members were together, what was it that made Junoon such a vocal supporter of world peace and Indo-Pak friendship? "It wasn't a conscious thing we did. Any intelligent, educated human being who has morals and ideology would want peace to work at any given point of time, considering the amount of strife in the world over diverse issues," avers Azmat. But surely thing have changed: six years ago it was difficult for Junoon to even come to India to perform. And like Ali Azmat puts it, "Today, we have to be smart and harness our resources and make the best of it. We have to increase trade and bilateral ties so that both the countries can prosper," said Ali.
Azmat asserts that Junoon's music reiterated the band members' belief in the Indo-Pak peace process. "As independent nations, India and Pakistan have a history of a little over 50 years. But collectively, they have a history of more than a thousand years. Naturally then, there are more similarities than dissimilarities between the two countries and we have to understand that. That is what we have tried to portray through our music. A song like 'Saiyonee...' dealt with issues like lack of education, abject poverty and other social issues, common to both the countries," said Ali. And like they say, music is the universal language.
Pakistani designer's top wins Paris contest
LAHORE: A promising Pakistani fashion designer, Hassan Ashraf Butt studying at the Pakistan School of Fashion Design (PSFD), won the 'Country Prize' at a fashion designers' competition in France.
Fashion designers studying at various fashion institutes around the world participate in the competition each year. The 23rd such competition was held in Paris and Louvre on December 15 last year.
"I am happy and feeling great at this achievement," Hassan, a final year student at the PSFD, told Daily Times. He said that he had designed a top with digital printing, which caught the jury's eye at the competition. The theme of the competition was 'Art, Fashion and Industry'. He said that he had chosen pop art and jazz music as the inspiration for the top.
The young designer said that he was impressed by a foreign fashion designer, Andy Walhor, who rebelled in the 1960s and 70s against conventional art shows and introduced wild ideas at art exhibitions. He said that Andy used ordinary things as a medium to express art and culture. Hassan won 450 euros at the competition, but he said that he had not received the cash yet.
A Slovakian female model set the ramp ablaze as she cat walked wearing the top, he said and added that he had designed the top in three months. He said that 10 students from the PSDF participated in the competition, but he was the lucky one because of his unconventional approach towards fashion.
KARACHI: The multi-platinum artist Bryan Adams will tour Pakistan for three days during which he will perform at the Arabian Sea Golf Country Club on January 29 to help raise funds for Shehzad Roy's charity Zindagi Trust.
This was announced at a press conference on Wednesday. Roy, who has made more of a name for himself off stage for his charity work, will be performing alongside Adams. Tickets will be sold for a minimum of Rs 2,500 and Roy said that the maximum price has yet to be decided.
Roy said he expected a turnover of Rs 15 million from the one-night concert, all of which will be donated to his organisation's cause. When pressed to say exactly how much Adams was charging for the concert, Roy simply said the Canadian singer had lowered his regular amount quite a bit.
Adams' manager Richard Corum flew in from Dubai for the press conference. Coram said that the event was made possible after an acquaintance of Roy's saw Adams taking fashion photos for a magazine. It was then that the woman approached Adams and made him an offer, to play for the charity. As a social worker and a philanthropist of sorts, Adams accepted the offer. The woman, whose name was not disclosed, then contacted Roy.
Coram said Adams has always been excited about playing overseas and was particularly moved by his experience in Vietnam. Roy said that the maximum security would be arranged to deter gatecrashers. People would soon see advertising boards displaying where the tickets will be sold.
Sonu Nigam sings for Pakistani Devdas
Devdas is being remade again — this time, in Pakistan, by producer Nadeem Sha and veteran Pakistani director, Iqbal Kashmiri. Music is by Vajahat Atrye and is arranged by Uttam Singh.
The songs for the film will be sung by Indian singers, including Asha Bhosle, Sonu Nigam, Shreya Ghoshal, Kavita Krishnamurthy and Alka Yagnik. The film will star Nadeem as Devdas and Reema as Chandramukhi. The role of Paro is yet to be finalised.
Says Sonu, who was about to start riyaaz for the song recording when we called him; "Uttamji asked me to sing a song.
This is not the first time I will be singing for a Pakistani film. I have sung before for many others when India and Pakistan were not on good terms with each other.
In those days, my name would not appear on the credits; instead, the name Sunny Amjad would be used."
Did he sing for Sanjay Leela Bhansali's Devdas (2002), starring Shah Rukh, Jackie Shroff, Aishwarya and Madhuri Dixit? "I had sung Sheeshe se sheesha takraye, but I don't think Sanjay Leela Bhansali liked my voice, because he dubbed it with someone else without telling me.
At least with Pakistan's Devdas, I know for sure they will never dub my voice with someone else's without informing me," says the singer.
Says producer-actor Nadeem Sha, "Initially I was only to produce the film, but Iqbalji wanted me to play the role (he bears an uncanny resemblance to Shah Rukh Khan).
He didn't have the time to hunt around for a new actor, nor did he want an established face." For Paro's role, he says, "If we don't get an actress from Pakistan, we will take someone from Hindustan."
The film will not be a total remake of Bhansali's Devdas.
"It will be different from Bhansali's Devdas. There are certain songs and scenes which we will remove. There will be a Meera bhajan in the film, sung by Shreya Ghoshal. Certain scenes too have been changed," informs Nadeem.
The budget for Devdas is whopping by Pakistani standards — Rs 10 to 15 crore. The music took a year-and-a-half to compose. "The total cost of recording has taken what would have been the budget of a Pakistani film.
So one can understand at what level we are making it. It will have the grandeur and lavishness of Sajay Leela Bhansali's Devdas. Pakistan has lots of beautiful havelis in Bhagalpur and Lahore, where we will shoot." A majority of the shooting will be done in Pakistan and the remaining in Kathmandu, Nepal.
Devdas is about a man who becomes an alcoholic. Isn't that against the religion of Pakistan, which forbids alcohol? "No, because Devdas was a Hindu character and not a Muslim. Also, he was from a different country.
Jis mulk ka hai ussi ki kahani hai. And he is just a character, so why should people mind? In films, one can play any character," says Kashmiri.
Bollywood's latest import from Lollywood
A conference call from Indian music company Universal Music has artiste Ali Zafar reeling in a state of shock. His popular track Rangeen has been plagiarized and used in a popular Indian song Aashiq Banaya Aapne — for which Indian Music director Himesh Reshammiya is grabbing the credits — without his consent.
Released in June 2005, Rangeen was the first music video from his debut album in India called Huqa Pani. Rangeen made Zafar very popular and the Indian music industry can't seem to have enough of him.
Ad film-maker Prahlad Kakkar calls him the Shah Rukh Khan of Pakistan — he has directed him for a Pepsi commercial and rumors are rife that Mahesh Bhatt is keen to cast him in one of his films.
Born in Lahore, this 25-year-old has also done modeling assignments that helped him make some pocket money. But his heart was in music and Zafar continued with his classical training. Huqa Pani that was released in 2003. The album sold a whopping five million copies and Zafar toured 11 different countries. Now, with the international release of the same album by Universal Music, Ali Zafar is clearly here to stay.
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