Ram Gopal Varma reacts to Aryan Khan's arrest, says NCB has turned Shah Rukh Khan's son into a 'super dup

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Times of India 13 October, 2021 - 11:51pm 7 views

The Duke of Cambridge’s swipe at the world’s richest men is the perfect definition of the blind leading the blind.

Prince William has shown his cool, young, hip, relatable side by standing up for the burning planet. I’m sure Greta Thunberg would be so proud.

The Duke of Cambridge blasted billionaires Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk for their Small Man Syndrome battle to travel space, saying: “We need some of the world’s greatest brains and minds fixed on trying to repair this planet, not trying to find the next place to go and live.”

He added that he wants to use his “little bit of influence” to help change the world.

And of course, Prince William is right. Bezos and Musk, and all the other billionaires that created their wealth through the exploitation of low-paid workers or daddy’s emerald mine (not because they have the world’s greatest brains) should be doing more to help solve the climate crisis.

But William’s comment comes off a tad sanctimonious. All three of these insanely rich and privileged men are guilty of greenwashing and virtuous preaching when it comes to climate action.

Last year, Bezos announced the first donation from his $10billion fund to fight climate change - an issue he described as “the biggest threat to our planet”.... well, duh.

But for Bezos, what does that money actually mean? It’s like us donating £1 at a McMillan coffee morning. It’s a good gesture, and it will help the cause. But that doesn’t give him a free pass to then wreck the planet with his phallic shaped rocket.

The same goes for Prince William: a royal who has enjoyed hunting animals, driving Range Rovers and flying private jets all while setting up his Earthshot Prize - an initiative celebrating those working to repair the planet with a series of £1million prizes over the next decade.

It all comes across a little “do as I say not what I do”. William and Bezos are partaking in the destruction of Earth, then handing out lollies to people dedicating their lives to save it.

So yes, William has a point, albeit a rather obvious one. Perhaps it’s not the best idea to build hotels on Mars when the ice caps are melting, sea levels are rising, forests are being cleared and our oceans depleted.

But Bezos and William’s efforts toward the climate are simply fluffy PR tactics. Siri, define greenwashing.

Read full article at Times of India

OP-ED: Two curious cases involving influential dads

Dhaka Tribune 14 October, 2021 - 07:50am

The world’s largest democracy may need a reminder that everyone is equal before the law

A pair of fiascos by two scions of two different mighty families has shocked and surprised Indians. One in the deep blue Arabian sea on a colourful fine evening. The other miles away from the Western coast -- on the plain arable land of Uttar Pradesh in broad daylight. 

The two cases are different, yet share one mutual thing: An influential dad. None of them are known for their deeds. One’s dad is Shah Rukh Khan, the world Bollywood tsar. The other offender’s dad is India’s junior Union Home Minister Ajay Mishra.

From a cheerful Goa-bound cruise ship, India’s Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) ,led by Sameer Wankhede, husband of a Marathi actress Kranti Redkar, detained Shah Rukh Khan’s son Aryan Khan along with several others in relating to possession, consumption, and sale of illegal substances (drugs).  

The NCB seized 13 grams of cocaine, five grams of MD, 21 grams of charas, and 22 pills of ecstasy and currency worth Rs1.33 lakh during the raid on the cruise ship. Aryan Khan was arrested, taken to Mumbai, and produced to the court immediately. Khan’s destiny is being re-written by the court.

The other case occurred in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. An SUV ploughed into agitating farmers in Uttar Pradesh state on October 3, taking lives of four men. A green arable land was outraged by raw red blood, deep grey smoke, and frenzied attacks by the furious farmer. The violence claimed eight lives, four among them were farmers. The angry mob complained that Ajay Mishra’s son Ashish Mishra was in the car and even fired a few rounds of bullets.

The Uttar Pradesh police has filed a case against 13 people, but main accused Ashish Mishra remained untouched till India’s top court’s intervention. Union Junior Minister Ajay Mishra and his son both have rejected the accusations and said that they were not present at the spot. Ashish Mishra earlier said he ran away from the spot but later denied his presence behind the wheel. His versions are varying.

The UP authority installed a retired judge to chair a probing commission on the violence. After India’s highest judiciary authority Supreme Court’s criticism of Uttar Pradesh police, a Special Investigation Team of Uttar Pradesh police interrogated minister’s son Ashish Mishra on October 9 for over nine hours. A few demonstrators are alleged to have witnessed the son in the driver’s seat of the SUV mow down the farmers. 

A few days later, Yogi Adityanath, the chief minister of UP, ordered to file an FIR against the minister’s son, met the families of the deceased farmers, and allocated Rs45 lakh to each family.

Neither Minister Mishra is going to put in his papers on moral ground, nor his party is expected to expel him from the ministerial portfolio. The prime minister of an agriculture-based state India, Modi has not paid any heed to expressing concerns on the farmers’ death.  

Inside UP, the regional parties are contemplating whom to support and plucking cards to play ahead of the election. With incumbency at the centre as well as state of UP, BJP is most likely to remain on its defiant stance. Soon after BJP-member parliamentarian Varun Gandhi condemned the Lakhimpur attack, his mother Maneka Gandhi was dropped from the party’s national executive member’s list.

The prompt action of the central agency NCB on the case of Aryan Khan drew kisses and hisses. Shah Rukh Khan’s image is maligned by people from the film industry over his 23-year-old son’s blunder. Many are of the opinion that it was done deliberately just because his title is Khan. On the other hand, the reluctance and delay of arrest of a union minister’s son speaks volumes not just about the incumbent party’s arrogance, but also questions common Indians’ rights.

The controversy formed in the deep blue Arabian sea has unleashed a tsunami of critical opprobrium. In the mainland, the spark that emerged from Lakhimpur Kheri will not be confined in the boundaries of Uttar Pradesh either. This will provoke responses among the voters of Uttarakhand and Punjab, where assembly election is also forthcoming. 

This will unite all the fragmented farmers, Sikhs, and hit their sentiments. Albeit reluctance of the state police and administration, the union minister’s son is brought to the court. Had there been no furious agitation and civic participation in the protest, Mishra, the son of the minister, would have enjoyed the greetings and receptions like a son-in-law by the state functionaries. The arrogant remarks by the BJP minister reflected that. Everyone is equal before the law, but unfortunately to remind this to the leaders -- even world’s largest democracy will have to serve a gentle reminder!   

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Ram Gopal Varma says NCB is making Aryan a Super Duper Star

Geo News 14 October, 2021 - 07:50am

The Recording Academy found itself in recognizably hot water this week when word got out that the industry group had barred Kacey Musgraves’ “Star-Crossed” from consideration in the country album category at the 64th Grammy Awards set for Jan. 31.

In a widely shared letter from Cindy Mabe, president of Musgraves’ record company Universal Music Group Nashville, to academy chief Harvey Mason Jr., Mabe argues that “Star-Crossed‘s” exclusion — ostensibly on account of its not being country enough — is unfair because the decision was made in part by people who stand to benefit from it.

The people she means? Country artists (and members of their teams) more likely to be nominated for country album without the acclaimed Musgraves as a pesky competitor.

The committee under fire now is the country screening committee, one of several small groups of unspecified experts the academy still convenes to determine whether certain albums or songs qualify for certain specialized genre awards. The idea of those groups is to ensure that the recordings vying in the traditional R&B performance category, for instance, truly represent that style.

Clearly, though, the same problems of politics apply. A Grammy nod can lead to a Grammy award or a performance on the telecast, both of which can lead to a lucrative boost in sales and streams; Musgraves, a proven Grammy fave, was sure to be seen by some in the room as an obstacle to that payday.

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Beyond whatever machinations were involved, the academy’s call regarding the pop-leaning “Star-Crossed” raises larger, more complicated questions about how genres are policed — and by whom — at a moment when many of the old lines have blurred. (An academy spokesperson didn’t respond to an email asking whether the committee’s decision was final. First-round Grammy voting is due to begin Oct. 22.)

According to the group’s rulebook, the Grammys’ country categories are open to “recordings that utilize a stylistic intention, song structure, lyrical content and/or musical presentation to create a sensibility that reflects the broad spectrum of country music style and culture.”

“THIS IS NOT ALL THAT WE ARE,” Mabe writes, referring to Wallen and the fans who pushed his music to new commercial heights even as some in the industry sought to deplatform him.

But does country music actually want Kacey Musgraves? As an institution, the genre is shaped to a large degree by country radio, which historically has shown little interest in Musgraves’ music. (Her highest-charting song on Billboard’s country airplay chart is still her debut single, “Merry Go ’Round,” which peaked at No. 10 in 2013.) Mabe says that SiriusXM’s the Highway channel is playing “Star-Crossed” and that streaming platforms classified the album as country.

Grammy committee members’ rejection of Musgraves’ new music, which chronicles the end of the brief marriage she sang about beginning on “Golden Hour,” may be a response to its rollout. With splashy performances on “Saturday Night Live” and MTV’s Video Music Awards and an arty short film à la Beyonce’s “Lemonade,” “Star-Crossed” arrived much more like a pop record — or a Taylor Swift project — than a country release, which likely led more provincial Nashville types to conclude it wasn’t meant for them.

After all, appearances matter deeply in country music: Think of the academy reportedly rejecting Beyoncé’s “Daddy Lessons” from country consideration in 2016 or of Billboard famously ruling Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road” ineligible for its country chart in 2019. Few would describe Beyoncé and Lil Nas X as country acts. Yet the stereotypical notion of what a country act looks like — which is to say, not a Black woman nor a Black gay man — made it hard for some to hear that “Daddy Lessons” and “Old Town Road” are definitely country songs.

The same is true of other genres, of course. When Tyler, the Creator submitted 2019’s “Igor” to the Grammys, he was hoping for a nomination in a general category but ended up winning the rap album prize despite “Igor’s” general lack of rapping; Justin Bieber complained last year that his “Changes” was nominated for pop vocal album instead of an R&B award. Both men were categorized according to their established identities, not the actual sound of the music in question.

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In a sense, Mabe in her letter seems to want the opposite for Musgraves, who lives in Nashville and records for a country label (though in an obvious crossover bid the label teamed with Interscope to release “Star-Crossed”). She’s suggesting that a country identity is less an aesthetic matter than one of background or philosophy — that the singer should still be recognized as a country artist even if “Star-Crossed,” which is long on synths and programmed beats and entered the Billboard 200 at No. 3, doesn’t really sound like a country album.

On Twitter on Wednesday, Musgraves posted a picture of herself as a kid wearing a cowboy hat and wrote, “You can take the girl out of the country (genre) but you can’t take the country out of the girl.”

And indeed “Star-Crossed” has its rootsy moments, including the stripped-down “Camera Roll,” which in a confusing twist reportedly passed the screeners’ test for consideration in the Grammys’ country song category. Yet Musgraves’ “musical presentation,” to use the academy’s ambiguous terminology, consistently emphasizes textures and attitudes from outside country music’s core.

Basically, this is a mushroom-eating album, not a whiskey-drinking one.

“Kacey is a beacon in a format ready to push back on the idea that there is more than one way to succeed,” Mabe writes, “that there is more than one sound and perspective for what country music is and, most importantly, who it speaks to.”

To the average listener, these fought-over distinctions are probably of no great concern; Musgraves’ music simply exists — like Tyler’s and Bieber’s and Beyoncé’s — in a boundary-less streaming ecosystem where everything is mixed up with everything else.

But what would gatekeepers do if they didn’t have gates to keep?

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Mikael Wood is pop music critic for the Los Angeles Times.

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