Sunday, 4 March 2012

Bigelow film on Osama attacked by Hindu hardliners in Chandigarh

Hindu radicals in the city protested on Friday against the shooting of a film by Oscar-winning director Kathryn Bigelow on the hunt for Osama bin Laden, on the grounds that the film-makers were portraying Pakistan on Indian soil.
Bin Laden, the mastermind behind the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States was killed by U.S. special forces in Pakistan in May last year.
The film-makers, denied permission to film in Pakistan, converted parts of Chandigarh to look like the Pakistani city of Lahore.
But for right-wing Hindus, the use of India to portray sworn enemy Pakistan was too much.
"They have made Chandigarh like Pakistan, as if it is Pakistan," said Vijay Bhardwaj, a leader of the radical Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) Hindu group.
"We strongly oppose this and we will not let them put Pakistani flags here and we will not let them shoot for the film."
Billboards with Urdu signs were put up on shops in a market in the north Indian city and auto-rickshaws were running with Lahore number plates. Burqa-clad women and men dressed in traditional Pakistani clothes roamed the streets.
The protesters said the government should have denied permission to make the film on Indian soil.
Bigelow, who won an Oscar for her Iraq war movie "The Hurt Locker", was developing a film on the hunt for bin Laden before the al Qaeda leader was killed in the Pakistani garrison town of Abbottabad.
The film, "Zero Dark Thirty", is due for release in late 2012.
Hindu-majority India and Muslim Pakistan have fought three wars since winning their independence from Britain in 1947. Suspicion between the nuclear-armed rivals lingers.

Shabana Azmi cast in Bigelow’s Osama film

Veteran actress Shabana Azmi has been cast in Kathryn Bigelow’s controversial film about the killing of Osama bin Laden, according to the Mumbai Mirror.
Azmi is the first major Indian actor to be case in the picture which is currently filming in the north Indian city of Chandigarh.  The Mirror reported the actress did not deny the news but simply said, “It’s too early to talk about it.”
Apparently, efforts to cast some prominent actors of Pakistani origin failed, once it was decided that Bigelow would not be able to shoot in Pakistan.
Now, she will be casting Indian actors to play Pakistani characters.
A source close to the project told the Times of India, "While Kathryn has zeroed in on her American cast members, she is yet to take a final call on the actors who would be playing Pakistani characters in her Osama film."
Azmi has just concluded work on two other international projects - Mira Nair's The Reluctant Fundamentalist and Deepa Mehta's Midnight's Children, which touch on the issue of Islamic identity.
-    UKAsian Staff

Mumbai slum sells for GBP 100,000

Slums in Mumbai, scene of the Oscar winning film Slumdog Millionaire, are selling for over £100,000 in a sign of the booming prosperity in India's financial capital.
The 250 dilapidated slums in the shadow of glass and steel office blocks housing multinational companies are being bought up by property companies as part of a swathe of redevelopment.
However, the huge increase in property prices means some slum-dwellers feel short-changed – even when corrugated iron shacks next to open sewers and the incessant rumble of Mumbai's trains from the nearby station are selling for 8,000,000 rupees (£102,000).
Abdul Rashid, 58, lived in Bandra Kurla Complex, next to where the rags-to-riches Danny Boyle film was shot. He accepted a developer's offer and was able to buy a proper flat in a building in a nearby suburb.
"It wasn't enough money though," he insists. "Mumbai is growing at such a rate that I regret selling when I did. I should've waited and demanded more money and then I could've got a bigger flat."
Sarah Pravin, 43, from the same slum has stuck her heels in the ground and stayed. She and her husband and two sons have been one of the few residents in her area who have refused developer's money.
"I don't want money, I want a new home," she says. "How am I going to afford a new flat for my family with the money these developers are offering? I know it sounds a lot of money, but realistically, in a city like Mumbai, £100,000 isn't."
A huge 496 families lived in the slum in 2008, but today over 350 have been paid an average of £100,000 and left.
But Ms Pravin is among a small minority still waiting and insisting on a home exchange.
"Many of us have watched as bulldozers have moved in to demolish the surrounding buildings. It's like living on a building site now, and it's become quite terrifying when the drug dealers move into crumbling buildings and hide," she said.
"But I will stand my ground. I love this neighbourhood. I've lived here 16 years. If I have to move to make way for developers and new buildings then I want a good deal that will help my family's future and security."
 For other former slum-dwellers who have sold up, the payout has offered them a new life away from the squalor of the railway shacks.
 Lubna Mamin, 23, and her husband Imran, along with his parents and sister, accepted a new apartment for their filthy slum in Bandra East.
Now life could not be better in Bazar Road, Bandra West, in a flat with a private shower and lavatory and a separate kitchen.
 She says: "It's so nice to have our own private lavatory and shower. The security is lovely. We never felt so safe in our old place but now when we close our door at night we are home, our own home."
Ms Mamin and her husband’s family were set up in rented accommodation by their developers while the new apartment block was being built. Once it was completed they exchanged paper work, and the new apartment was theirs.
 For the developers handing over ten or 15 apartments to slum families is nothing compared to the profits they made from selling the remaining 70 apartments at around £200,000 per flat.
Hele Roberts, The Daily Telegraph

48 hours in Singapore…

Got 48 hours to explore Singapore? The Asian financial and business centre has undergone a makeover in recent years and it is now also a playground for Asia's rich where sleek skyscrapers meet quaint shops.
Reuters correspondents with local knowledge help visitors get the most out of a visit to this multicultural Southeast Asian city-state.
5 p.m. - Hop on the Singapore River Cruise to trace the island's journey from a sleepy fishing village to a bustling metropolis. The boats come at a roughly 15 minute interval and pass through Marina Bay, Boat Quay, Clarke Quay and Robertson Quay.
6 p.m. - Try your luck at the Marina Bay Sands casino, or get a good view of the business district from the SkyPark. You can also check out the exhibitions at the lotus-inspired ArtScience Museum.
Enjoy fine dining at restaurants with names such as Wolfgang Puck and Mario Batali. For a taste of East-meets-West, try Sky on 57 by local French-trained chef Justin Quek And feast while enjoying a panoramic view of Singapore's bay from level 57.
Alternatively, take a 20 minute walk around Marina Bay to One Fullerton, where you can see the Merlion, with the head of a lion and the body of a fish, and hit the bars.
You can also take a short walk to Esplanade, Singapore's durian-shaped performing arts venue, and pig out at Gluttons Bay, an outdoor hawker area next to Esplanade.
11 p.m. - Take a cab to Zouk and party the night away. Zouk houses four different clubs: Velvet Underground, Phuture, The Wine Bar and the main Zouk room.
9 a.m. - Tuck into prata, a fried pancake often served with curry, at Little India. Get a glimpse into the Hindu religion at the temples, and shop at the giant Mustafa Centre, which is popular with visitors from India and Pakistan as well as Singapore's own Indian community because of its wide range of goods and spices from South Asia.
12 p.m. - Ride the MRT (subway) to Bugis, then take a 10-15 minute walk to Haji Lane, where you can check out indie shops, cafes and restaurants offering a shisha pipe for smoking. Also visit the gold-domed Sultan Mosque, which was built in 1824.
You can buy arts and crafts hand-made from recycled fabric and other materials by local artists at Doinky Doodles! on the second floor of 33 Bali Lane.
Seek to jostle with the locals? Then dive into the crowd at Bugis Street, which has dozens of shops selling snacks, accessories, clothes and other goods -- like Bangkok's Chatuchak Weekend Market, but smaller. Then head to the Fu Lu Shou area, where the Buddhist Kwan Im Thong Hood Cho Temple and the Hindu Sri Krishnan Temple stand side by side.
4 p.m. - Hop on a bus to Chinatown and enter the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum, which houses the sacred Buddha tooth in a stupa composed of 320 kg of gold donated by devotees. Stroll on the streets and soak in the colourful atmosphere.
7 p.m. - Sample local food such as char kway teow (fried noodles with cockles), carrot cake (fried radish flour with egg and preserved vegetables) and satay (grilled meat on a skewer) at Chinatown Food Street. You can watch while your friendly hawker cooks your dinner right in front of you.
9 p.m. - For the adventurous, take a cab to Geylang for the durians, the "king of fruits," which some say looks like a hedgehog and smells of the sewer.
9 a.m. - Take a walk through the sprawling Botanic Gardens and smell the flowers at the National Orchid Garden, with about 600 species and hybrids on display.
12 p.m. - Have brunch at the all-day breakfast restaurant, Wild Honey, at Mandarin Gallery. The menu ranges from Swiss and Japanese to Yemen and European. Alternatively, try the risotto and the sinful butterscotch apple and mixed berries crumble at Food for Thought at 8 Queen Street.
2 p.m. - Revel in contemporary art from Singapore and other Southeast Asian nations at the Singapore Art Museum.
4 p.m. - Finish the trip by hitting the stores at Orchard Road, Singapore's shopping mecca.
- Reuters

48 hours in Singapore…