ITANAGAR: Arunachal Pradesh became a coronavirus-free state on Sunday with the three active cases recovering from the disease, a senior health official said. The total caseload in the northeastern state remained at 16,836, while the number of recoveries stood at 16,780, State Surveillance Officer Lobsang Jampa said. No fresh Covid-19 case was reported in the past 24 hours, he said, A total of 56 people have so far died due to the contagion in the state. Arunachal Pradesh’s recovery rate and positivity rate are at 99.66 per cent and zero per cent, respectively, the official said. Altogether, 4,05,647 samples have been tested, including 312 on Saturday, Jampa said. Meanwhile, State Immunisation Officer (SIO) Dimong Padung said 32,325 health and frontline workers have received vaccine shots in the state thus far. The health department has been carrying out the inoculation drive four days a week – Monday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
Rory McIlroy and Justin Thomas are among the golfers set to don Tiger Woods‘ signature Sunday red and black during the final round of the World Golf Championships (WGC) event in Florida to honour the 15-time major winner, who had a car accident. Woods, considered one of the greatest golfers of his generation, was being treated at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles after Tuesday’s crash left him with a fractured right leg and shattered ankle. The 45-year-old is recovering and in “good spirits”. An 82-time PGA Tour winner, Woods famously wears a red shirt and black trousers on Sundays. Collin Morikawa, who leads by two shots over Brooks Koepka at the Concession Golf Club, will wear the same colour combination, along with Patrick Reed, according to Golf Channel. American Max Homa endorsed the idea but said he would be unable to participate as he did not pack the colours required. Ten-time major champion Annika Sorenstam, who is playing her first LPGA Tour tournament in 13 years, will also wear red and black in the final round of the Gainbridge LPGA event in Orlando.
NEW DELHI: Underlining the importance of collective responsibility towards water conservation, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday called for a 100-day campaign to clean up all water bodies and prepare them for rain water harvesting before the monsoon season starts. In his monthly ‘Mann Ki Baat‘ broadcast, Modi said water has been crucial for the development of humankind for centuries. “We have to understand our collective responsibility towards water conservation,” he said. The prime minister also said that when people feel proud of indigenous products then Aatmanirbhar Bharat does not just remain an economic programme but becomes a national spirit. Noting that monsoon will begin in many parts of the country by around May-June, the prime minister asked can there be a 100-day public campaign to clean up all nearby water bodies and prepare those for rain water conservation. In this regard, the Union Jal Shakti Ministry is also launching “Catch the rain” campaign and its main theme is “catch the rain, where it falls, when it falls”, he said. “This is the best time to think about water conservation in the summer months ahead,” Modi said. He also said there is a need to make science more popular across the country and asserted that science cannot be limited to physics-chemistry and labs. Modi called for expanding science with a mantra of ‘lab to land’. During the broadcast, the prime minister also rued not being able to make enough efforts to learn the world’s oldest language, Tamil. “In run up to Mann Ki Baat, I was asked if there was something I missed out on during these long years as chief minister and prime minister. I feel — it is a regret of sorts that I could not make enough efforts to learn the world’s oldest language Tamil. Tamil literature is beautiful,” Modi said.
NEW DELHI: A shotgun coach with the Indian shooting team has tested positive for COVID-19 on arrival in Cairo for the ISSF World Cup in Cairo. The coach had been immediately isolated after returning positive for the virus, an official of the National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) told PTI on Sunday. All the members of the Indian contingent were tested upon their arrival in the Egyptian capital. The coach tested positive but the other members of the Indian contingent returned negative. The coach is asymptomatic and is in quarantine at the moment. Monitored by the medical team. he is likely to undergo another test in a day or two. As per the protocol issued by the organisers, all teams have to take COVID tests every 72 hours. India have so far won the team bronze medal in both men’s and women’s skeet events but could not finish on the podium in individual events.
CHENNAI: A copy of Bhagavad Gita in the form of an SD card and a photograph of Prime Minister Narendra Modi are part of a nanosatellite that Isro’s PSLV-C51 carried to space on Sunday along with Brazilian satellite Amazonia-1 and other satellites. The names of Isro chairman K Sivan and scientific secretary R Umamaheshwaran have also been etched on the bottom panel of the Satish Dhawan SAT (SDSAT) built by Space Kidz India. Prime Minister’s photo and name appear on the top panel. The names of 25,000 individuals are etched on the panels. Space Kidz India an organisation working towards promoting space science among students. SDSAT is carrying three scientific payloads- to study space radiation, study magnetosphere and to demonstrate a low-power wide-area communication network. PSLV-C51/Amazonia-1 mission was Isro’s first launch of 2021. It carried a total of 19 satellites to space.
MUMBAI: Vice Admiral R Hari Kumar on Sunday took charge as the Flag Officer Commanding-In-Chief of Western Naval Command (WNC) from C Ajit Kumar in a ceremony at the Command Post of Headquarters, Western Naval Command, Mumbai. Vice Admiral Ajit Kumar retired after four decades of service in the Indian Navy. The outgoing and incoming Commanders-in-Chief were accorded a Guard of Honour after which the handing over of the baton to the new Commander-in-Chief took place. On assuming command, Vice Admiral Hari Kumar laid a wreath at the Gaurav Stambh monument. “Vice Admiral R Hari Kumar, an alumnus of the National Defence Academy was commissioned into the Indian Navy on January 1, 1983. He specialised in Gunnery and has commanded five ships including a Destroyer and the aircraft carrier INS Viraat,” stated an official statement from the Navy. “He has held important staff appointments both ashore and afloat and has also been Naval Advisor to the Government of Seychelles. On promotion to flag rank, he has held the appointments of Commandant of Naval War College at Goa, Flag Officer Sea Training, Flag Officer Commanding Western Fleet, Chief of Staff at Western and Chief of Personnel at Naval Headquarters,” read the official statement. Vice Admiral R Hari Kumar is a recipient of the Vishist Seva Medal, Ati Vishisht Seva Medal and Param Vishisht Seva Medal for distinguished service. “The outgoing FOC-in-C, Vice Admiral Ajit Kumar, PVSM, AVSM, VSM, ADC has seen extensive operational deployments in response to developing security situations in the post the Pulwama attack and the Galwan crisis across the Indian Ocean Region,” further read the official statement. “During the period WNC was also at the forefront of anti-piracy missions in the Gulf of Aden and in Operation Samudra Setu for the evacuation of Indian nationals from various countries during COVID-19 pandemic,” added the official statement.
NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday addressed the monthly Mann ki Baat programme. During his address, the PM underlined the importance of water conservation and said Aatmanirbhar Bharat has become a national spirit. Here is a look at the key points from his address.
Aatmanirbhar Bharat is not merely a Government efforts. It is the national spirit of India.
We must understand our responsibility towards water conservation. In a few days, the Jal Shakti Ministry will launch a campaign ‘Catch the Rain’. Its slogan is ‘Catch the Rain, where it falls, when it falls’.
As per the latest census, a total of 112 species of birds were sighted in Kaziranga National Park. The reason is water conservation and low human interference.
The contribution of science is huge in Atmanirbhar Bharat. We need to take science forward with the mantra of ‘Lab to Land’.
Today is National Science Day. It is dedicated to the discovery of the ‘Raman Effect’ by scientist Dr CV Raman. Our youth should read a lot about Indian scientists and understand the history of Indian science.
Commendable work by Temples of Assam towards environmental conservation.
In the run up to #MannKiBaat, I was asked if there was something I missed out on during these long years as CM and PM. I feel – it is a regret of sorts that I could not learn the world’s oldest language Tamil. Tamil literature is beautiful.
I have updated the #ExamWarriors book. New Mantras have been added and there are interesting activities too.
On February 15, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had invited people of the country to share their inspiring stories in the field of art, culture, and tourism. “Through inspiring examples, January’s #MannKiBaat highlighted diverse topics ranging from art, culture, tourism and agri innovation. Would love to hear more such motivating anecdotes for the programme in February, which will take place on the 28th,” PM Modi tweeted and shared a link for the people inviting ideas for the next ‘Mann Ki Baat’. Prime Minister Modi had also shared a toll-free number for people to record their message in either Hindi or English. In the last Mann Ki Baat in January, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had appealed to the countrymen to write about freedom fighters and stories of their struggle to mark the country’s 75th Independence Day this year. “Mann ki Baat” is the Prime Minister’s monthly radio programme to the nation, which is broadcasted on the last Sunday of every month. (With inputs from agencies)
MUMBAI: Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut on Sunday asked why the people, who had raised a hue and cry in the case of actor Sushant Singh Rajput’s demise, were silent over the “mysterious” death of Dadra and Nagar Haveli’s Lok Sabha member Mohan Delkar. Delkar, the 58-year-old independent MP from the Union Territory, was found hanging from a ceiling fan in his hotel room in south Mumbai on February 22. A suicide note in Gujarati was also found at the spot, according to police. In his weekly column “Rokhthok” in the Sena mouthpiece ‘Saamana‘, Raut said an actor’s suicide and demolition of unauthorised construction by an actress created sensationalism. But, how could there be silence over the “mysterious” death of the seven-term Lok Sabha member, he wondered. Delkar, who has houses in Delhi and Gujarat, must have thought that the Mumbai police will act on his suicide note and arrest the guilty, the Rajya Sabha member said.
UNITED NATIONS: Reiterating that only a two-state solution will deliver enduring peace that the people of Israel and Palestine deserve, India has said this should be achieved through direct negotiations between both sides on final status issues and any unilateral action which could prejudice these issues must be avoided. India’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador K Nagaraj Naidu said on Friday at the UN Security Council meeting on ‘The situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question’ that New Delhi reaffirms its support to the Palestinian cause and the establishment of a sovereign, viable and independent State of Palestine living side by side in peace and security with Israel. “We firmly believe that only a two-state solution will deliver enduring peace that the people of Israel and Palestine desire and deserve. This should be achieved through direct negotiations between both sides on final status issues. Both sides must avoid any unilateral action which could prejudice these final status issues,” he said. Naidu termed the recent diplomatic efforts to revive the stalled peace talks as encouraging and added that the meeting of the Quartet’s Special Envoys is timely. India urged the Quartet to initiate engagement with the Israeli and the Palestinian leadership. “India welcomes all efforts, which are aimed at strengthening the collective commitment of the international community to resume direct negotiations and facilitate the peace process,” Naidu said. Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process and Personal Representative of the Secretary-General Tor Wennesland told the Council meeting that the global community is focused on helping the parties return to the negotiating table. Earlier this month, the League of Arab States reiterated its support for the establishment of an independent and sovereign Palestinian State based on the 1967 lines, with East Jerusalem as its capital. The Envoys of the Middle East Quartet – Russia, United States, European Union and United Nations – met virtually on February 15 to discuss the political developments, with all agreeing to meet on a regular basis. Naidu also added that India is pleased to note that preparations for the Palestinian elections are moving forward. The Cairo agreement between the Palestinian parties on the conduct of parliamentary and presidential elections – to abide by the electoral timetable, accept the results of the election and on other election related arrangements – is a positive step in the right direction, he said. Noting that the commitment undertaken by all parties to release political detainees will also help build trust between them, India acknowledged Egypt’s efforts in facilitating this agreement. The high percentage of Palestinians, who have registered to vote in the elections, reflects their desire to take part in the democratic process, he said. Wennesland said the holding of free and fair elections in the Palestinian Territory will help “clear the path” for restoring a legitimate political horizon to realise a long sought two-State solution. The elections will provide a crucial step towards re-establishing Palestinian national unity – and renewing the legitimacy of national institutions, including a democratically elected Legislative Council and Government in Palestine, he said. Naidu added that the opening of Rafah border crossing is a significant development, which will ease the humanitarian and health situation in Gaza. India stressed that the pandemic’s impact on the people of Gaza has been particularly severe due to the fragile health-care infrastructure. Noting that COVID-19 vaccines are being made available to the people of Palestine, including in Gaza, Naidu said India strongly believes that “equity in access” to vaccines across the world is important for mitigating the impact of the pandemic. India has provided critical medicines and medical equipment to Palestine as COVID-19 assistance and is now in the process of sending a second batch of medicines as a grant to the Palestinian people in the coming weeks. “We will also facilitate an early supply of vaccines to Palestine,” Naidu said. On COVID vaccination prospects, Wennesland welcomed the announcement of the Palestinian vaccination strategy and the initial allocation to the Palestinian Ministry of Health of 37,440 doses of vaccines by the COVAX-AMC facility.
With one foot in Bollywood and the other in Hollywood, Ali Fazal has been having the best of both worlds. After making his debut in Rajkumar Hirani’s ‘3 Idiots’, there has been no looking back for the actor. Ahead of his next big Hollywood release, ‘Death on the Nile’ co-starring Gal Gadot, ETimes caught hold of the actor for an exclusive interview. In a freewheeling chat, Ali spilled the beans on how his mother prepped him up for the big screen unintentionally, his stint in Hollywood, and his journey in films back home in Bollywood. Excerpts…
Would it be wrong to say that the year 2020 has been bittersweet for you? You incurred a loss on the personal front, but professionally you were on a roll… I suppose that could be the go-to word. It has been introspective. I mean we all are dealing with the larger problem; the world has also hurt a lot.
How did your journey in showbiz begin? It happened purely by accident; I didn’t plan it this way. My life was normal; I was a science student and was studying in a boarding school. I wanted to be a pilot, then I wanted to be a doctor. I was in 11th or 12th grade when I broke my arm, before that I used to play a lot of basketball, hockey, and short put. That is when I experienced stage or acting of any kind. I did a Shakespearean play ‘The Tempest’. Then I came to Bombay for college. I was still studying Economics but somewhere that seed was already sown.
My mother was a painter; I had only known about it. It was only five years ago that I came to know that she was also a popular stage name at the Aligarh Muslim University. She had never told me about it. These were her little secrets that I came to know about later. That somewhere, I think, reassured me.
It has been interestingly democratic for me. I like the way it started. I did stage and then I did my first film which unfortunately never saw the light of the day. Then ‘3 Idiots’ happened, which was again during my college days. Then I did the others. Shah Rukh Khan was producing my first big film but that also bombed. Then ‘Fukrey’ came along. Slowly, sometime later, my Hollywood journey began.
Have you been a movie buff since your childhood? I have been a movie buff throughout my childhood. I was horribly addicted to movies. I used to love this world of fantasy. When those lights go off in a theatre, you are in a meditative state; you feel every emotion that the hero portrays and fall in love with them. It was almost like training for me. It was my mother who exposed me to some amazing world cinema. Now, in hindsight, I feel like she was preparing me for it without me realising it. I remember the first story that my mother told me was of an Italian family, living in New York. It was a three-generation story of a family involved in mafia. In my later years, I find out that was the story from ‘The Godfather’. I went to my mom and asked her, ‘Ye kya sunaya tha aapne mujhe? (What was this story that you had narrated to me)’ She told me that she had watched the film and liked it, and I also seemed to have liked it when she narrated. So, my beginning itself was dramatic. But I am thankful for that exposure.
Who did you idolise as an actor? There are so many! I believe Dilip Kumar sahab is brilliant. My most favourite film to date is ‘Mughal-E-Azam’. When I feel lost, I sit and watch that movie even today. Marlon Brando was a great influence on me because of his iconic contribution to cinema and to humanity. He is one of the few people who stood up for things at a time when people didn’t know what it meant to use the power of cinema of representation and help people. I am not saying that I am doing it but I am trying. Hopefully, I will make a difference.
What is the major difference that you found in working in Hollywood vs working in Bollywood? I think we have evolved a lot with time. In the last two years itself, we have catapulted a lot in Indian cinema. I remember when I was shooting for ‘Victoria and Abdul’, it was very different. ‘Fast and Furious’ was even more different. There is no comparison because their economy is different. Their budgets are huge. Every Hollywood film that I have done has catered to 250 countries automatically. And this is before going to OTT, just the box-office. ‘Death In The Nile’ is, I am sure, close to a 100 million dollar budget. ‘Victoria and Abdul itself was made on a 40 million dollar budget and we made up about 80-90 million dollars. I can’t compare that to Indian cinema. If I talk about it, I will get categorised into various clubs we have in Bollywood.
The comparisons are unfair but yes, the productions in India are getting better. I believe the more local we go, the more global we will become. The problem is that we have been aping the West for a large part of our process and that is where we lost our identities in the ’90s. This you don’t find in Tamil or Malayalam films; they remain true to their stories. When I am sitting and voting for the Oscars and I see a ‘Jallikattu’, I am proud of it. Those things are exciting and it will go even further. Hollywood started before us so it is okay to look up to it. It is okay that they are ahead.
This is one of the reasons I did ‘Mirzapur‘ despite people telling me not to do it. I had already seen that happening in Hollywood; I had seen that change. It worked there, so, I thought maybe I could bring that on the canvas here in Bollywood. I am glad it worked.
Do people in Hollywood still think Bollywood is just song-and-dance or has their perception changed in the last few years? I think many still do but it is definitely changing. Now that the canvas is big, it is hard to ignore. There is no excuse anymore. You have access to every country, region, and language on the internet. I don’t buy it if you tell me you didn’t know. That is one of the reasons I tried to collaborate with them on all the Urdu dialogues in ‘Victoria and Abdul’. Urdu is such a big essence of our culture and we cannot do a Google translate on that. Of course, in other films, I have played different characters so I can’t do much. ‘Death In The Nile’ has blind casting. I am playing a British in that film and that is fine as these are larger-than-life films; your ethnicity should not matter. Those are films you do just for versatility and fun. But when you are depicting an Indian onscreen, we Indians have to be responsible.
Have you faced any racial discrimination when you were shooting in the West? I don’t know. Maybe it happened without me knowing or realising. I am still new to the game out there. I have only been part of one Oscar campaign. I don’t know who from India has been a part of that. When you are a part of a film campaign, and if you are a lead in that film, you do it almost like a Presidential campaign. You start from September onwards and go all the way to the Oscars, which is in March. We were lucky that we got make-up and costume nominations then. I will find out and maybe then I will be able to talk about it. It would not be fair to talk about it now.
Of course, I know it happens and I have seen it happen. We all have been a part of it. There is systemic racism; it is something that we are used to. Even in our own country; forget racism, there is even gender inequality. We are in a place where we still don’t know if we have equal pay for men and women. During this pandemic, I have felt like a privileged a**hole sitting and doing my thing. People I know–technicians and others–have left the country because we don’t have an union. I don’t know if this fits in racism but this is some kind of hierarchical hypocrisy. There are a lot of problems; hopefully, we’ll be able to change that one by one. We are still dabbling with our basic problems that are poverty and unemployment. You know I always tell people that ‘Kal ko hum nahi rahe toh chalega par mera plumber nahi aaya kaam pe toh meri vaat lag jayegi (It would be fine if we don’t stay but if my plumber doesn’t come to work tomorrow, I’ll be in a soup)’.
You have received immense love and appreciation for your character Guddu in ‘Mirzapur’. How has it changed things for you? Things have changed immensely after ‘Mirzapur’; I am really grateful. People look at you for what you were last Friday; that is how people cast you. I was always this subtle English-speaking actor but it changed my image. For me, it is also the little man inside my head having fun because I like the unpredictability that people have. At the end of it, we are all actors. I like to lead and mislead people through my cinema not otherwise. It works.
You were all set to marry last year. However, the pandemic did not allow it. Can we expect you and Richa Chadha to tie the knot this year? I hope so. There have been some back-to-back hard-hitting pieces of news that affect all of us. In my personal life too, first I lost my mother, then my uncle–it has been a hard ride. We will try doing something nice and small. We will let everybody know and celebrate with them once the pandemic loosens up a little and vaccines are administered.
Tell us something about your next Hollywood film, ‘Death on the Nile’. It has been a nice experience. I look forward to the movie releasing this year. Once it releases, I will have more to talk about it.