Friday, 24 February 2012

Radisson Hotels head sued by own father

One of wealthiest British Asian businessmen in the UK has become the centre of a £100 million law suit brought by his own father.
Jasminder Singh, the 60-year-old Chief Executive of the Radisson Edwardian Hotels group, is being taken to  court by his father Bal Mohinder Singh.
The elder Singh accuses his son of forgetting the Hindu and Sikh tradition of sharing familial wealth by excluding him from the business and his home.
If he succeeds in court proceedings, which are likely to be prolonged, he could win a third of the family fortune.
Jasminder Singh is worth an estimated £415 million and ranks 193 in the Sunday Times Rich List.
His chain, which owns the May Fair, has recently acquired the Odeon cinema in Leicester Square intending to turn the site into a hotel.
In a witness statement submitted to the court, Bal Mohinder Singh says: 'Both I and his mother are deeply ashamed that Jasminder should publicly renounce his cultural heritage and the mutual rights and obligations in which he was brought up.
'That family system based on custom and religious teaching is widely practised and universally understood by Hindus and Sikhs in India today just as it was in British India where I was brought up.
'It is also widely practised and universally understood in the Sikh and Hindu communities overseas including East Africa and the UK.
'My life has been devoted to winning respect for myself and family in those communities and the respect which we have earned as a family has been the basis for the success of our business in this country.
'For Jasminder to deny that and claim all the credit and ownership for himself will be shocking to wide sections of those communities particularly our family friends — that is why his mother and I are so ashamed.'
However, Jasminder Singh claims that he did not have a particularly religious upbringing, that neither of his parents regarded the family to be living under an agreement to share property nor was there any such agreement.
The father also accuses his son of trying to force him and his wife Satwant Kaur Singh out of the £10 million family home, Tetworth Hall near Ascot racecourse in Berkshire.
The father said his son has called in the builders for substantial redecorating work “with no regard for our comfort or convenience”.
He said that his son had refused to provide a chairlift for Mrs Kaur Singh who can no longer get up the stairs and has withdrawn the use of her driver and other staff to “provide us with the services to which we have become accustomed”.
The trial will get underway later this year.
-    UKAsian Staff

Indian Government declares homosexuality ‘immoral’

India's government has told the Supreme Court that homosexuality is immoral, "against nature and spreads HIV".

The home ministry urged the court to reverse a 2009 landmark decision by the Delhi High Court which decriminalised gay sex.

The ruling overturned a 148-year-old colonial law which described a same-sex relationship as an "unnatural offence".

The Supreme Court had earlier asked groups challenging the judgement to define "unnatural sex".

Many people in India still regard same-sex relationships as illegitimate, but rights groups have long argued that the law contravened human rights.

Section 377 of the colonial Indian Penal Code defined homosexual acts as "carnal intercourse against the order of nature" and made them illegal.

In July 2009 the Delhi High Court described the colonial-era law as discriminatory and said gay sex between consenting adults should not be treated as a crime.

Until the high court ruling, homosexual acts were punishable by a 10-year prison term.
The ruling was widely and visibly welcomed by India's gay community, which said the judgement would help protect them from harassment and persecution.

But it was challenged by political, social and religious groups who wanted to have the colonial-era law reinstated.

Last week, the Supreme Court begun a debate on the legality of decriminalising gay sex in private between consenting adults.

"So who is the expert to say what is 'unnatural sex'? The meaning of the word has never been constant," Justices GS Singhvi and SJ Mukhopadhyaya asked a petitioner who challenged the judgement.

"We have travelled a distance of 60 years. Now it is test-tube babies, surrogate mothers. They are called discoveries. Is it in the order of nature? Is there carnal intercourse?" the judges said.

- BBC News

Pak film fans gear up for ‘Waar’

It claims to not only be the most anticipated film in the history of Pakistan, but to be based on true events. And, for once, the Hollywood-style hyperbole can be excused. The feature-length action thriller called Waar ("to strike" in Urdu) is eagerly awaited, despite being out of tune with the trend for movies packed with singing and dancing.

Waar is coming to cinemas in Islamabad, Lahore, Karachi and even the restive frontier city of Peshawar later this year. The trailer was viewed more than 500,000 times in the first month when posted on YouTube in January, entering the website's top five videos.
Inspired by real events such as a Muslim extremist assault on a Pakistani police academy in 2009, the film follows a team of anti-terrorist police officers who, with time running out, try to stop a new attack. But the subject matter is not the only attraction, say local critics. With its slick production and use of digital technology, the film, reportedly the country's most expensive ever, is a long way from the staples of local cinema.
"Waar is very, very new," says Sher Ali Khan, film reporter for the Express Tribune newspaper.
In recent years, there has been a series of films dealing with edgy subjects in Pakistan but these were made by, and watched by, the westernised middle classes. "So far the masses haven't accepted these new kind of films. They have catered to the westernised upper middle class. Popular tastes have stayed with the standard styles of plot and production," says Khan. "Waar can be considered the first new wave film to go mainstream."
One major difference with the traditional fare is the lack of song and dance routines. Director Bilal Lashari, who studied film-making in California, says: "There was just no question, even if people were telling me: 'How can you do without them?' For audiences here, it is going to be a complete 180 degree shift. From cinematography to style of acting, it is different from what has gone before."
The Pakistani film industry, which flourished after the country's independence in 1947, has languished for decades.
Cinema owner and distributor Zorraiz Lashari says a combination of booming cable television outlets and competition from India's Bollywood film industry almost finished off the local studios, concentrated in the western city of Lahore and known collectively, if somewhat unoriginally, as Lollywood.
"It costs 20m rupees [£140,000] minimum to make a decent movie and it's very difficult to get your money back. You can buy a Hindi-language film from India for half or a quarter of that price," Lashari says.
From 700 cinemas in 1977, there are now only 175 and the only films to turn a profit have been in languages such as Pashtu or Sindhi, spoken in particular regions of the country, where Indian productions are incomprehensible.
Weak regulation leading to endemic pirating is one major problem. There are even occasional efforts to temporarily ban Indian movies.
"Even if a couple of multiplexes have opened, cinema is still very niche," says Sarah Tareen, a Lahore-based producer. "The main medium is television. Only a fraction of the population go out to watch films."
However, along with Waar, a whole series of similar films is being readied for release in coming months.
One is Kaptaan, a cinematic rendering of the recent life of Imran Khan, the cricketer turned politician who currently tops popularity polls in Pakistan. The film will cover Khan's life since retiring from sport 20 years ago and will dramatise his entry into politics as well as his failed marriage to Jemima Goldsmith, who is played by a Pakistan-American actress.
Tareen is producing Tamanna (Desire), a drama exploring class, adultery and, through flashbacks, the heyday of Lollywood. "It is neither action-based nor Bollywood-style. It is much more a pure drama with a narrative telling the story of three individuals," she says.
Sanaa Ahmed, a film journalist in Pakistan, sees the new developments in Pakistan as part of a broader global trend. "There are a lot of new young people with stories to tell who are figuring out ways to tell it," she says. "It's a new wave.
Lashari says Pakistan needs to "recreate" its cinema. "Everyone here has been following Bollywood but the best we can ever come up with is going to be a B grade knock off. We need to create our own identity," he says.

- Jason Burke, The Guardian