Mrunal Admits Some Filmmakers give equality

Actress Mrunal Thakur feels that very few filmmakers give equal footing to women characters in their movies.

According to her, Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra is one of those filmmakers who treats female characters in fheir films well.

“There are very few filmmakers who envision a story that gives its women characters an equal footing. In the best of Rakeysh’s works, one can see how beautifully he layers his women. Be it Soha Ali Khan’s Sonia in ‘Rang De Basanti’ or the female characters in ‘Delhi 6’ or ‘Bhaag Milkha Bhaag’, his women are memorable,” said Mrunal.

She will be seen in Mehra’s next film “Toofan” alongside Farhan Akhtar.

“In ‘Toofan’ my character is an anchor to the narrative despite not being the driving force of the plot. It was a beautiful experience working with Farhan and Rakeysh. They subconsciously help you push yourself to explore things you haven’t tried. The little nuances they bring to their work teaches you so much,” she said.

“I have learnt so much from ‘Toofan’, most importantly (the fact) that women in new-age narratives aren’t ornamental. They have a solid ground to stand on and the male actors like Farhan facilitate that,” said Mrunal.

About Mehra, she felt he is a filmmaker who tells “stories of interest and his characters are well fleshed out and nuanced, who stay in your heart even after the film is long over.”


Canada witnessing sharp rise of Covid cases

Canada added 5,000 news cases on Saturday, setting a new daily record….reports Asian Lite News

Canada continued to see a sharp rise of Covid-19 cases, with the country’s total caseload surpassing 330,000.

Canada reported a total of 330,503 cases of the Covid-19 and 11,455 deaths as of Sunday evening, according to CTV.

Canada added 5,000 news cases on Saturday, setting a new daily record.

Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam urged Canadians to make a plan for safer holidays on Sunday amid record spikes of Covid-19 across the country, Xinhua news agency reported.

In a statement, Tam said for Canadians near the holiday season, it’s imperative to take into account public health measures when planning for celebrations.

“Our best protection, now and into the holiday season, is to limit errands and outings to the essentials, keep in-person social activities to our existing household and strictly and consistently maintain public health practices,” Tam said.

“That doesn’t mean we can’t continue to find safe ways to have the meaningful celebrations that are so important for maintaining our traditions and social connections,” she added.

“We have seen how creative Canadians can be, from online game nights and sharing special meals together virtually with people outside our household, to warmly dressed, physically distanced walkabouts and cheering our neighbours with decorated balconies, windows and lawns.”

Tam’s statement comes after Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario and New Brunswick reported a single-day record increase of new cases of the Covid-19.

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‘I’m proud to be a dancer’

Choreographer Rajit Dev, known for his work on the songs “Pachtaoge” and “Tehas nehas”, says that dancers deserve to be valued more.

“I became a choreographer because I worked as a dancer for a good 10 years and assisted for 5 years. I’m proud to be a dancer,” he said.

Since the age 18, he has travelled to many countries due to his profession.

“There are a lot of good things that you get by being a dancer in Bollywood,” he said.

But there are a few things that should change for dancers.

“Starting from the hygiene on the sets, dressing room. This is in a very bad condition during stage events. I believe dancers are as talented as any actor so they should not be looked down upon. In fact, the next time, after an award show, you should thank the dancers on the podium. They are the ones running the show. From rehearsals, technicals and no sleep, back-to-back work, they put in so much effort. They deserve better recognition and a better pay scale,” he said.

Being a dancer is not easy, emphasises Rajit.

“The most amount of hard work put in in an award show is by the dancers. The number of acts they have to remember is a lot. These dancers have to perform with actors, do quick costume changes and manage the props,” he said.

Talking about the trend of having international dancers here, he said: “These dancers are very well-trained dancers from all parts of the world. So, there’s always a cultural exchange of arts, which is great.”

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Sanjay Feels Grateful To The Love

Actor Sanjay Dutt says he is grateful for the love and support he has received over the past few months, adding that he is excited to be back on screen.

Back in August, it was revealed that the actor has been diagnosed with cancer and was undergoing treatment. In October, Dutt shared a health update saying he has come out victorious in his battle with the disease.

Now, he is looking forward to the digital release of his film, “Torbaaz”.

“The story of ‘Torbaaz’ is closely aligned with the reality of Afghanistan, and the beautiful depiction of cricket as a means of deliverance is as true for the children as it is for my character, Nasser Khan, who bounces back from personal tragedy,” Dutt said.

“I am truly grateful for all the love and support that I have received over the past few months, and I am glad to be returning to the screen with this powerful film. I am glad that the film will reach discerning audiences around the world, where the story can resonate across boundaries,” he added.

“Torbaaz” is the story of one man who rises above his personal tragedy and decides to transform the lives of refugee camp kids who are on the path of destruction, through the game of cricket. The film will release on Netflix on December 11. Directed by Girish Malik, it also features Nargis Fakhri and Rahul Dev.

Earlier this year, Dutt was seen in Mahesh Bhatt’s digitally-released film “Sadak 2”, co-starring Alia Bhatt and Aditya roy Kapur. The sequel to the 1991 hit “Sadak”, however, did not find much favour among the viewers.

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‘Theatre has taught me a lot’

 ‘Mirzapur’ actor Anangsha Biswas, who has featured in quite an impressive list of OTT shows, has a background in theatre, which, in her own words, has taught her a lot.

“Theatre has a different infectious energy. Once I am on stage, it’s only me and my higher self, everything else is immaterial. For me, it’s like connecting to god.

“Theatre is immensely exciting for me because there aren’t any retakes. It emulates life. It’s like once a moment passes you can’t get it back, you can create another new moment, just like plays. Once you are on stage good, bad, ugly you perform no retakes. There will be another show but no retakes.

Secondly, you don’t really have to wait for the audience reaction. Just after the show, you have the audience review and their observations help you as an actor learn a lot,” Biswas, 30, told IANSlife in an interview.

Sharing more her background in theatre and your performances with industry veterans, Biswas shares that she is from the creatively fertile land of Kolkata, and “generally the majority of kids in Kolkata while growing up have two schools: Monday to Friday, the academic school, and weekend art school where we are taught classical music, classical dance, drawing, poetry recitation”.

“Everything arts-related we learned over the weekend. Kolkata kids are encouraged to read books (and) take interest in literature.”

Biswas shares that her paths crossed with theatre in school with Shakespeare plays. Then, in Mumbai, she says she was fortunate enough to be a part of Akvarious Theatre.

“I got the opportunities to work with acting stalwarts like Naseeruddin Shah, Akash Khurana, Benjamin Gilani. Then I did a French Production where I worked with Farid Currim. I did a Vipul Shah production where I worked with Shefali Shah, A Salim Arif production where I worked with Harsh Chaya. First few years in Mumbai I was involved only with theatre and soaking as much craft that I could.”

Her first play in Mumbai was in Prithvi Theatre – “Women in waiting, Men on the line”, where she acted alongside stalwarts. “Performing in Prithvi is every theatre actor’s dream … And I had achieved it with my first play. I felt supremely blessed.”

Speaking about her engagement with the medium, she said: “Theatre has taught me a lot. I was a shy child, theatre has given me confidence. Akarsh Khurana taught me to be on time, he taught me the importance of time and discipline. Time once has gone can’t be brought back, hence even today I reach my sets 10 minutes before my call time. Benjamin Gilani taught me the art of being articulate and clarity of speech.

Naseeruddin Shah taught me to be natural. Acting is not pretending or being fake it’s rather about finding the honesty within to relate to the role that one is portraying. Discipline is a must for an artist. In my humble opinion without discipline art cannot flourish.

Biswas’s last play was “Kusum Manohar Lele”, a cineplay on Zee5 and last theatre production “Under The Influence”.

When can one her next on stage?

“I am open to all kinds of mediums, though theatre is my first love. I am very passionate about the stage but I need a good script, performance-based role. Whatever little I have achieved I owe it to my theatre training, it not only gives you discipline but teaches you to be grounded, never gets ahead of yourself. Theatre also teaches you to keep learning, because of it I went to Sydney Australia and did a diploma in acting from TAFTA,” she signed off.

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Rural Demand Grew Over Urban during Pandemic: Nestle

During the July-September period, the company witnessed 12 per cent growth in the rural areas while urban demand rose by 6 per cent…reports Asian Lite

Nestle India witnessed a change in consumption trend amid the Covid-19 pandemic as demand growth in small towns and rural areas outperformed those in the Tier-I cities, said the company’s Chairman and MD, Suresh Narayanan.

“Smaller towns have become the heroes in this pandemic,” Narayanan said in an interaction with IANS.

He noted that currently the ratio of demand in urban and rural areas is 75-80 per cent: 20-25 per cent.

During the July-September period, the company witnessed 12 per cent growth in the rural areas while urban demand rose by 6 per cent.

Narayanan said the company has also tweaked its product portfolio in terms of price-value equation and packaging, among others, to cater to the demand of smaller towns.

The company has also enhanced its distribution network for villages in the last one year, he said.

The essential nature of its products helped the company withstand the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, compared to other sectors which were severely hit due to a sudden halt in demand.

He noted that the consumer goods sector has witnessed “very little” pent-up demand and the growth has been largely steady.

On the growth in the urban centres, Narayanan said: “If all goes well, we should start to see urban growth coming back from next year.”

He said that it will be visible once the economy witnesses growth. “We have to wait for the next couple of months to see how the pandemic behaves, and see its economic impact,” Narayanan added.

Speaking on online business, he said the company was already in the process of digitisation, which got accelerated with the aggravating pandemic situation.

“Digitisation was on before the pandemic. Earlier it was 10-15 per cent of total business. Then we accelearated… it became imperative during the pandemic,” Narayanan said.

On the shopping trends, he said that in organised trade, footfalls and shopping activitises may have fallen, but the average ticket size has been increasing.

On the proposed investment of Rs 2,600 crore in its plant in Sanand, Gujarat, over the next three to four years, the CMD said that around the existing facility, a new factory would be built with the fresh investment, adding to its capacity across products.

Regarding the recently announced Production-Linked Incentive (PLI) scheme announced for 10 sectors, including food products, he said the company would wait for the details and the regulations of the scheme before making any decision on applying for the scheme.

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‘Extremely Lucky To Play With Chhetri’

Midfielder Suresh Singh Wangjam, who has risen through the ranks to become an integral member of the Bengaluru FC squad, feels any time spent with national team skipper Suni Chhetri is “invaluable”.

Adil Khan, Abdul Sahal, Anirudh Thapa, Pritam Kotal and others have always reiterated how much Chhetri has mentored them about diet, fitness regime and other aspects of life.

“Any time spent with Chhetri-bhai is invaluable. I consider myself extremely lucky to have the chance to share a dressing room and a training pitch with him. He personally speaks with me, advises me, encourages me and talks to me about things beyond football,” Wangjam told

“I’ve picked up reading books, am focusing on a better diet, sharpening my general knowledge. He has even affected my viewing choices on television. It has only been a gain for me and I am extremely fortunate,” he added.

The midfielder further said he owes “a lot to the foundation” provided by the All India Football Federation Elite Academy in his formative years. After representing the country in the first-ever FIFA World Cup hosted by India, he gathered invaluable experience during his stint with the Indian Arrows which is being immensely useful during his time at Bengaluru FC.

“I owe a lot to the foundation that I have started building my career on. The whole World Cup phase was so memorable and helpful, given the kind of exposure we received, the teams we played, the platform we got,” the midfielder said.

“Once the FIFA U-17 World Cup was done, we got the big opportunity to play in the I-League through the Indian Arrows and that again was a fantastic chance for me to gain experience that I am now using during my time at Bengaluru FC,” he added.

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Ukrainian Prez Admitted To Hospital

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and the head of the President’s Office Andriy Yermak, who on Monday were diagnosed with the coronavirus, are currently in isolated wards at the hospital, the media reported on Thursday.

“Everything is quite strict, regulated by protocol. They are in Feofania hospital. There is a special office where the president can hold meetings.” Mykhailo Podoliak, an advisor to the president’s office, told media.

According to Podoliak, a communication channel has been set up in Zelensky’s ward, allowing him to keep to his regular work schedule while under isolation, the Xinhua news agency reported.

A total of 5,00,865 Covid-19 cases, with 9,145 deaths, have been registered in Ukraine as of Thursday, while 2,27,694 patients have recovered, according to the country’s health ministry.

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Asian Lite Daily Digital – November 13, 2020 – Energy Sector Goes Eco Way

Energy Sector Goes Eco Way; Biden Begins Team Building; The Second Gentleman; Japan’s Covid Spike Calls For Tougher Laws – all in Asian Lite Daily Digital – please click here to read the edition.

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INDIA: G20 Summit To Boost Global Economy

INDIAN ENVOY AUSAF SAEED:  “The G20 provides an important platform for both India and Saudi Arabia to work even more closely on various issues, with particular focus on those that concern developing countries the most.”

Senior diplomats from India laud Saudi Arabia’s decision to go ahead with G20 Summit despite Covid pandemic and discussing solutions to revive global economy.

 “Saudi Arabia being the largest economy in one of the most important geopolitical regions of the world, it is only fitting that the G20 Summit is being hosted by the Kingdom at this critical moment,” said Indian Ambassador to the Kingdom Ausaf Sayeed, the Arab News reported.

Saudi Arabia is hosting the G20 Summit in Riyadh on November 21— the first time by an Arab country. Apart from being one of the world’s foremost producers and exporters of energy, Saudi Arabia is transforming rapidly under the Vision 2030 through diversification of its economy and development of a vibrant society under the wise and able leadership of King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

 “The G20 presidency during these challenging times is yet another testimony to the significant leadership role that the Kingdom has played and will continue to play in dealing with the most pressing issues that matter to the entire world,” the envoy told Arab News.

He went on to say that India shares an excellent history of relations with Saudi Arabia, and the two countries have seen many high-level visits in recent years that have progressively transformed the bilateral relationship into a strategic partnership.

On the economic front, Saudi Arabia is India’s fourth-largest trading partner and supplies around 18 percent of India’s crude oil requirement and 30 percent of its LPG needs, he said.

There is even greater scope to increase trade and investments between the two countries, he added. There are several sectors in which India and Saudi Arabia can work closely in the post-pandemic world.

In the virtual summit in March, Prime Minister Narendra Modi elaborated on India’s role in forging a collaborated response against COVID-19, he added.

Indian Ambassador to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Ausaf Sayeed

Thanks to its leadership in medical research and pharmaceuticals, India is playing its part in the global fight against the pandemic, as a “pharmacy to the world,” delivering medicines and equipment to countries that need them the most. It is also at the forefront of vaccine development, he told Arab News.

As an important member of the G20 and as a developing country with one-sixth of the global population, India’s focus is on ensuring growth through the development of fair and equitable systems and frameworks.

“This is particularly significant as India is set to assume the G20 presidency in 2022, the 75th year of its independence, and continue to take forward the agenda of global cooperation,” he added.

Meanwhile, former ambassador Mahesh Sachdeva said the growing synergy between India and Saudi Arabia sets an example of cooperation for other countries in the G20, the Arab News reported.

“The Kingdom and India are important members of the G20 group,” Sachdeva, who has spent over a decade of his diplomatic career dealing with the Middle East.

 “The mutual bond between Riyadh and New Delhi also underpins peace, stability and security in the Southwest Asian region, which has often been buffeted with turbulence,” said Sachdeva, who is currently the president of Economic Diplomacy and Strategies, a New Delhi-based consultancy.

On March 26, Riyadh organized an emergency summit to discuss this global pandemic which Sachdeva said demonstrates “the Kingdom’s impressive maturity to lead a global economic organization.”

New Delhi is hosting the 2022 G20 summit and “India would naturally leverage the Saudi experience,” he added.

He said that the event this year will be dominated by “pandemic related issues” and stressed the importance of collaboration between Riyadh and New Delhi in fighting the virus.

“Given extensive people-to-people connections between the Kingdom and India, a strong collaboration to combat COVID-19 pandemic is both necessary and desirable,” he said. “As the world’s largest producer of vaccines, India will be an important source of this vital supply to Saudi Arabia in future.”

Bilateral trade between India and Saudi Arabia is worth about $33 billion, with the Kingdom being the largest source of crude for India. In turn, Saudi Arabia relies on India for important items such as rice, vehicles, refined petroleum products, meat, electrical machinery and equipment.

“There has been growth in mutual investments: As of March 2020, there are 476 Indian companies in the Kingdom worth $1.5 billion. While Saudi investments in India stood at $315 million in April 2020,” he said.

With the G20 2020 presidency Saudi Arabia has demonstrated that the health and welfare of the people is a top priority, and has undertaken all necessary steps to control the spread of the coronavirus, according to Indian Ambassador to the Kingdom Ausaf Sayeed.

In an interview with Arab News the envoy said: “The conduct of a very successful Hajj under extraordinary circumstances, bearing in mind all the health protocols, was a shining example of this.”

On managing the G20 amid the pandemic, he said: “The swift decision to organise a virtual summit in March 2020, when the dangers of the pandemic were just beginning to emerge globally, is evidence of the fact that the Kingdom handled the situation admirably.

“While the world would have hoped for a summit which would have brought all the leaders together in one place and experience the generous hospitality of the Kingdom, the decision to hold the summit virtually, bearing in mind the dangers of the pandemic that continue to linger, is well appreciated,” Sayeed added.

On shouldering the responsibility to help the world move forward and the importance of the summit in Riyadh, the Indian envoy said: “Given the uncertainty caused by the pandemic, the role of the G20 has increased manifold.

File photo of Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud (Xinhua/Ahmed Gomaa/IANS)

The health, economic and social impact globally of COVID-19 needs coordinated efforts towards solutions that a platform like the G20, which includes two-thirds of the world’s population and 85 percent of the global economy, is well suited to deliver.”

The economic impact of the pandemic on all affected countries has exposed the challenges that we continue to face in terms of poverty and inequality, he said. As we have seen, the pandemic knows no national boundaries, and has affected the poorest the most. Apart from the tragic loss of lives, there has been an economic slowdown that has severely affected the livelihoods of the most vulnerable.

The expectation from the Riyadh G20 presidency, held under the theme “Realizing Opportunities of the 21st Century for All,” is that a consensus will be built around the steps that the world, led by the G20 countries, will take to transition towards economic recovery that will help people regain lost livelihoods and provide the healing touch to those most severely affected by the pandemic, he explained.

It can also build systems and strategies that will better prepare the world for the challenges of the future.

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