Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Frozen annexes Special Jury Prize at Osian’s

irst-time filmmaker Shivajee Chandrabhushan’s 110-minute, starkly beautiful black- and-white film, Frozen, set in remote, snow-lined Ladakh, won the Special Jury Prize at Delhi’s recent Osian’s-CineFan. The film is the journey of a father and his son and teenaged daughter, seen through the daughter’s eyes. 35-year-old producer-director Chandrabhushan talks about his own journey in the making of his award-winning debut film.
Upbringing: I am Delhi born and a graduate in Sociology from Delhi University. I did some theatre in Delhi as an actor and dabbled in painting, woodcraft, poetry. My wanting to be a professional cricketer did not happen. I think I always was a good storyteller. In class when there was a free period, I told stories to keep the kids entertained. Being a sort of a rebel shows in my creative pursuits, be it cinema or photography.

Work experience: I moved South to Chennai and Bangalore, working as a consultant on setting up internet cafes - and I owned an event management company. I also was a regular voice-over artiste for Hindi programmes, advertisements and TV. I came to Mumbai eight years ago, giving voice-overs to Hindi Discovery Channel and NGC. I then took up photography, and opened my own production house, Seagull Media Productions, to make serials and music videos. I think subconsciously I was working on film scripts.

Filmmaking: I started a feature called Palak on the psychological condition called Rapid Eye Movement Behaviour Disorder, which got stalled when I met cinematographer Shanker Raman. We switched to making Frozen when I told him its storyline.

The script: My childhood experiences of having imaginary friends and my own perceptions helped me develop the film. I wanted to remove the romantic view people have of Ladakh, giving its real local flavour. The black-and-white makes its visual experience more graphic. It was shot in colour, then digitally intermediated to black and white, and finally printed on black and white stock to get the tonality we needed. The film was processed at Deluxe Lab in Los Angeles.

The funding: I put in my own money, taking loans, and family and friends pitching in. Due to money delays there were sudden vacancies in our unit, which were filled by sound designer Vivek Sachidanandan introduced by our editor Shan, and music director John P Varkey. Being from FTII they jelled well, prepared for financial constraints. Last-minute, everything came to a halt, as money ran out. I had completed the shoot and was looking to finish the post production. When Berlin and Cannes showed interest, we couldn’t deliver the finished print. Phat Phish Motion Pictures saw the rough cut and offered completion funds. They are my associates now.

The shoot: We are the first to shoot a complete feature film in the Ladakh winter, logistically a very tough shoot (my website describes it). I love mountain climbing and trekking, so am attuned to high landscapes. We shot the film in February 2006 over 32 days at 15,000 feet above sea-level. There was no green anywhere. We wanted that look since it goes with the film’s name, symbolic of the mind of the people who are running under threat of being displaced. The army is very visible in Ladakh because of its strategic location. I wanted to touch on their psychological conflicts. The film was shot in Stakmo, an hour’s drive from Leh.

Actors: Danny Denzongpa fitted well with the character of Karma. He is a Buddhist and the son of a monastery head-priest. This is his 150th film. He loved the script and when I showed him pictures of the locales, he was on. Mumbai’s Gauri, an untrained artiste with a sharp, intelligent mind, was cast as Lasya from the start. The boy Angchuk, a brilliant actor, as Chomo, was chosen in Ladakh. Yashpal Sharma and Raj Zutshi’s high calibre registers in the scenes they play.

Osians: The festival, my first, was a tremendous experience. I could talk to media although Frozen has no stars and Danny could not be present. The film has been asked for by festivals around the world. In India, festivals in Kolkata, Kerala, Hyderabad, and Goa also want the film.

Sunday, August 05, 2007


A circular rainbow suddenly appeared in the skies as the mortal remains late Kazi Lhendup Dorjee Khangsarpa was consigned to flames at the Old Rumtek Monastery today with full State honours.

Well wishers and mourners started to gather at the Old Rumtek Gonpa from the wee hours of the morning today carrying khadas and incense sticks to pay their last respect to the first Chief Minister of Sikkim.

The casket with mortal remains of late Kazi Sahib was earlier kept inside the monastery, where the Lamas recited the Buddhist scriptures performing the final rituals.

Later, the casket was taken out of the monastery for the people to offer khadas to late LD Kazi. The Sikkim Armed Police then honoured the late CM with a 21 gun salute.

The casket covered in the national flag then headed for the crematorium located at a distance of about 10 minutes from the Old Monastery. As per the custom, a beautifully decorated horse led the funeral procession followed by the monks.

Cutting across party lines, a large number of leaders from both the ruling as well as Opposition parties were present at the funeral today. At the crematorium, the Chief Minister Pawan Chamling, Speaker, DN Thakarpa, Director General of Police C Ravindran, Major General (GOC) 17th Mountain Division KVS Lalhotra offered flowers tributes to the casket.

Cabinet Ministers including DD Bhutia, Somnath Poudyal, Menlom Lepcha, Kalawati Subba, DT Lepcha, GM Gurung and MLAs also offered their tributes to the late CM. Also present today were Sangha MLA Acharya Tshering Lama, Sikkim Progressive Party President Sher Hang Subba, State Bharatiya Janata Party President HR Pradhan, officials, businessmen, members of late Kazi’s family and people from all over the State.

The national flag was then unwrapped from the casket by the Police personnel at the crematorium.

Moments after the pyre was lit, a circular rainbow appeared in the skies. “Kazi Sahib was really a great figure and the circular rainbow in the sky is a testimony of that”, said Karma Samten of Rumtek.

“Although Kazi passed away but the fire of democracy that he lit in this State will always keep burning bright,” said Ram Chandra Poudyal, a merger veteran and once a close associate of late LD Kazi.

Friday, August 03, 2007

North-east hunger strikers warned

North-east hunger strikers warned
By Subir Bhaumik
BBC News, Calcutta

Sikkim hunger strike
The tribes people are protesting against the construction of a dam
The government in India's Himalayan state of Sikkim has threatened to move against tribes people who have been on a hunger strike for 40 days.

The tribes people have been protesting against the proposed construction of a dam for a hydro-electric project.

It is proposed to be located at Dzongu, which is designated as special reserve for indigenous Lepcha tribes people in the state, close to the Chinese border.

The dam will be one of the many to be constructed on the Teesta river.

Large dams have recently become a subject of controversy in India.

A Sikkimese organisation, Affected Citizens of Teesta (ACT), has been sponsoring the hunger strike to oppose the proposed construction of 280mw Panan hydro-electric project at Dzongu in northern Sikkim.

"Either they should withdraw the fast or we will be compelled to move against them," Sikkim Chief Secretary N Chingapa told local journalists.


The Lepchas and the Bhutias are the indigenous tribes of the erstwhile princely state of Sikkim that was merged into India under controversial circumstances in 1975.

But ethnic Nepalis now constitute the majority in the state.

Doctors say the condition of two of those on fast, Dawa Lepcha and Tenzing Lepcha, has worsened and they have been admitted to a hospital.

Teesta river
The dam is proposed on the Teesta river

The ACT has written to Sikkim Chief Minister Pawan Chamling asking for an independent quasi-judicial committee to review all hydro-electric projects including those proposed in the Lepcha reserve of Dzongu.

It has also demanded that all activities related to the Panan project in Dzongu, including land acquisition, be kept in abeyance.

But the Sikkim government says it will go ahead with the implementation of the mega hydroelectric power projects in North Sikkim, including those proposed in the Lepcha reserve.

"We will not compromise with the development process in North Sikkim. Once the projects are operational, they will meet the power needs of the state and generate a revenue of two billion rupees per annum," Mr Chamling told journalists.

He also claimed that the majority of people from the Dzongu area is in favour of the power projects.

"The good of the community would not be held hostage by a few disgruntled persons," the chief minister said, alleging that opposition parties were using the innocent Lepchas to further their vested interests.

Mr Chamling asked the ACT members to withdraw their hunger strike and accept the government's offer for a dialogue on the issue.

But the ACT has filed an application before the supreme court appointed Central Empowered Committee (CEC), asking for an immediate stay on the environmental clearance granted to the Panan project.

The CEC has asked for the Sikkim government's comments on allegations made by the ACT that the project will destroy the ecology of the Khangchendzonga National Park.


Special Report, Subash Gobine/B. P. Bajgain (Mauritius/Sikkim), July 31: A minister's family of Mauritius has opened a branch of the Sikkim branch of Eastern Institute for Integrated Learning in Management University in Mauritius and they have tried to sell it as a full-blown private University, with big billboards supporting the sales pitch.
The Opposition of Mauritius is crying foul, alleging that the Sikkim branch itself has not yet started its courses. Further, the degrees granted would be recognized only in Sikkim, not in other parts or India, let alone other foreign countries. Furthermore, the Opposition is contending that the University Grants Commission (UGC) of India has not approved the setting up of a branch abroad. Now the famous 'private' University in Mauritius is under controversy.
According to the TEC regulations, there must be a period of one year between the granting of an authorisation to a university to operate and its effective opening. But the EIILM has opened six months after receiving the authorisation. Opposition says that the EIILM should have obtained the authorisation of the University Grants Commission (UGC) - the national regulating body in India - before the Eastern University - recognised only in Sikkim - opened a branch in Mauritius.
As per the source, Eastern Institute for Integrated Learning in Management University is only a branch of Kolkata (Calcutta) based private Institute in Jorethang, South Sikkim. Because the Institute got approval in Sikkim in 2006 by 'The Eastern Institute For Integrated Learning In Management University Sikkim Act 2006' Act No. 4 of 2006 as defined by section 2F of the UGC Act passed by Sikkim Legislative Assembly whereas the institute already produced ten batches of MBA/PGDBM who have passed out of the institute till date from Eastern Institute for Integrated Learning in Management, 6, Waterloo Street, Kolkata - 700069, INDIA. This is not possible from Sikkim which got approval on 2006. So, the real institute is not based in Sikkim, it is based in Kolkata.
Note: Subash Gobine is a journalist in Mauritius. He works for the Defi Media Group which publishes several newspapers and runs a radio station in Mauritius.


Taj Mahal
Great Wall
Chichen Itza
Christ Redeemer
Machu Picchu
HKD, July 8: The Great Wall of China, Rome's Colosseum, India's Taj Mahal and three architectural marvels from Latin America were among the new seven wonders of the world chosen in a global poll released on Saturday.
Jordan's Petra was the seventh winner. Peru's Machu Picchu, Brazil's Statue of Christ Redeemer and Mexico's Chichen Itza pyramid also made the cut.
About 100 million votes were cast by the Internet and cellphone text messages, said New7Wonders, the nonprofit organization that conducted the poll.
The seven beat out 14 other nominated landmarks, including the Eiffel Tower, Easter Island in the Pacific, the Statue of Liberty, the Acropolis, Russia's Kremlin and Australia's Sydney Opera House.
The pyramids of Giza, the only surviving structures from the original seven wonders of the ancient world, were assured of retaining their status in addition to the new seven after indignant Egyptian officials said it was a disgrace they had to compete.
The campaign to name new wonders was launched in 1999 by the Swiss adventurer Bernard Weber. Almost 200 nominations came in, and the list was narrowed to the 21 most-voted by the start of 2006. Organizers admit there was no foolproof way to prevent people from voting more than once for their favorite.
A Peruvian in national costume held up Macchu Picchu's award to the sky and bowed to the crowd with his hands clasped, eliciting one of the biggest cheers from the audience of 50,000 people at a soccer stadium in Portugal's capital, Lisbon.
Many jeered when the Statue of Liberty was announced as one of the candidates. Portugal was widely opposed to the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.
Another Swiss adventurer, Bertrand Piccard, pilot of the first hot-air balloon to fly nonstop around the world, announced one of the winners - then launched into an appeal for people to combat climate change and stand up for human rights before being ushered off the stage.
The Colosseum, the Great Wall, Machu Picchu, the Taj Mahal and Petra had been among the leading candidates since January, while the Statue of Christ Redeemer received a surge in votes more recently.
The Statue of Liberty and Australia's Sydney Opera House were near the bottom of the list from the start.
Also among the losing candidates were Cambodia's Angkor, Spain's Alhambra, Turkey's Hagia Sophia, Japan's Kiyomizu Temple, Russia's Kremlin and St. Basil's Cathedral, Germany's Neuschwanstein Castle, Britain's Stonehenge and Mali's Timbuktu.
Weber's Switzerland-based foundation aims to promote cultural diversity by supporting, preserving and restoring monuments. It relies on private donations and revenue from selling broadcasting rights.
The U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, or UNESCO, keeps a list of World Heritage Sites, which now totals 851 monuments. But the agency was not involved in Weber's project.
The traditional seven wonders were concentrated in the Mediterranean and Middle East. That list was derived from lists of marvels compiled by ancient Greek observers, the best known being Antipater of Sidon, a writer in the 2nd century B.C.
The Hanging Gardens of Babylon, the Statue of Zeus at Olympia, the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus, the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus, the Colossus of Rhodes and the Pharos lighthouse off Alexandria have all vanished.


HKD, August 3: After border differences over Arunachal Pradesh with India, China is again talking tough with India. This time over Indian bunkers along the Sikkim border.
The bone of contention are two bunkers in Dokala area of Sikkim, which intelligence sources say Beijing has now demanded that they be removed. The two bunkers are said to be the Sino-Indian border close to the tri-junction of Sikkim, West Bengal and Bhutan.
But as per the defence sources, the confusion over whether Indian bunkers are on Chinese territory has arisen due to a 'difference in perception' about the Actual Line of Control'. The bunkers are located in Dokala, on the Sikkim Bhutan border. The Chinese Premier's visit in 2005, had the then Premier Wen Jiabao, accepting that Sikkim was an intergral part of India. In fact the Premier had gone on to say that "This is no longer an Indo-China relations issue," in reference to the Sikkim border issue.
The new dispute in Sikkim comes in the wake of exchange of words between Beijing and New Delhi over the presence of Chinese troops in the Tawang area, which India claims is an intergral part of Arunachal Pradesh.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Kazi Saab passes away

The mortal of the first former Chief Minister of Sikkim, Shri Kazi Lhendup Dorjee Khangsarpa brought to Sikkim from his Chakhung residence, Kalimlpong who had passed away on July 28 evening at 8.35 pm at his Kalimpong's residence. He was 103 years old and was under treatment since a long time and his condition was stated critical since a week ago. The State Government has taken all the necessary arrangement for his funeral and last rites. His body will be received at Rangpoo by Government officials and representatives and a procession with guard of honour will be taken to old Rumtek Monastery with the body of deceased and the same kept at Old Rumtek Monastery for public darshan. 
The funeral will be contemplated on August 3 with State honour and 21 gun salute there. The State Government has taken all the necessary steps to prepare for the last funeral of the grand old man and father of democracy in Sikkim in a befitting manner and in this regard, a high level committee has been formed consisting of the head of the different departments. The Government of Sikkim has decided to institute award in his memory and construct a life size statue. Earlier, Chief Minister Dr. Pawan Chamling soon after hearing the demise of first Chief of Sikkim rushed to Kalimpong to pay last tribute to the former CM. He reached Kalimpong at 12.44 P.M. on July 29 and paid tribute to late Shri Kazi. 
The Former Chief Minister and political advisor to CM Shri B.B. Gooroong,Minister Shri K.N. Rai, former minister Shri R.C. Poudyel, Shri C.D. Rai, N.B. Khatiwada and many dignitaries from Sikkim offered khadas and garlands paying tribute to former Chief Minister Kazi.Chief Minister Chamling conveyed his condolence to the bereaved family and wrote down his condolence in the book. While speaking to the people and the media persons there, Chief Minister Chamling said that there will be state mourning for a week and the funeral will be organized by State Government with full state honours. He said that the demise of the first former Chief Minister is a great loss not only to the State but to the nation as well who is the architect of the merger of Sikkim. The Governor of Sikkim, Shri V. Rama Rao too visited Kalimpong on July 29 and met the bereaved family of Kazi Lhendup Dorji offered prayer for the peace of departed soul.Meanwhile, the condolence messages on the death of former Chief Minister are widely receiving by State Government. 
President of India, Mrs. Pratibha Patel and Prime Minister Dr. Man Mohan Sigh sent condolence message on the passing away of former Chief Minister LD Kazi. The Government offices and all the educational institution will remain closed on the day of funeral on August 3 in his honour. Shri Kazi was the first Chief Minister soon after the merger of Sikkim in 1975 and he is considered the architect of the merger of Sikkim into Indian Union. He was born in 1904 at Pakyong and he became Chief Minister of Sikkim during 1975 to 1978.With his passing away, an era is ended.