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French movie 'The Artist' bags top Oscars

HOLLYWOOD, Feb 27: The French film "The Artist", which had its first India screening at the French Ambassador's Residence in New Delhi, won five Oscars including the coveted Best Picture prize at the 84th Academy Awards on Sunday. The French-directed black-and-white movie earned Oscars for best director for Michel Hazanavicius and best actor for Jean Dujardin, who played a silent movie era star whose career was torpedoed by the arrival of the "talkies."

Martin Scorsese's 3D adventure "Hugo" -- which had the most nominations, with 11 compared to 10 for "The Artist" also ended the evening with five prizes, but all of them came in technical categories.

Meryl Streep won best actress for her powerful turn in "The Iron Lady." It was the third Oscar for the 62-year-old Streep and her first in three decades, underscoring her status as the pre-eminent actress of her generation.

"I love your country," Dujardin told the audience as he accepted his Oscar, the first for a Frenchman in an acting category.

Octavia Spencer took home the prize for best supporting actress for her role as a black maid in the civil rights drama "The Help," receiving a standing ovation for her powerhouse performance.

Veteran Canadian actor Christopher Plummer crowned a six-decade acting career with a long-overdue Oscar, a best supporting actor trophy for his role in "Beginners" as an ailing widower who embraces his homosexuality.

Hollywood's biggest and most glittering night had long been expected to be a battle between "Hugo" and " The Artist," two odes to film-making.

Other winners included the Johnny-Depp voiced "Rango," which won the best animated feature prize, and Woody Allen, who was honored for best original screenplay for "Midnight in Paris."

In the foreign language category, Iran's "A Separation" beat films from Belgium, Canada, Israel and Poland as expected.

Its director Asghar Farhadi dedicated the award to Iranians "who despise hostility and resentment," and referred to current tension between Tehran and the West over the Islamic republic's suspect nuclear program.

Scorsese was not the only legendary director in the mix -- Allen was in the running for best picture honors for his comeback hit "Midnight in Paris," and Steven Spielberg gunned for the top prize with "War Horse."

Buddies George Clooney and Brad Pitt both lost out to Dujardin, who had already won a slew of awards for his turn as suave George Valentin.

Clooney had downplayed his hopes of winning best actor before the show, saying on the red carpet: "I have a feeling in the best actor race you're going to hear someone speaking French."

Streep, who was honored for her powerful portrayal of former British premier Margaret Thatcher, said "Oh, come on!" as she was given a standing ovation by the star-studded Hollywood audience.

She said that when her name was called out, "I had this feeling I could hear half of America going, 'Oh no ... her, again.' But whatever!"

The show was presented by a galaxy of stars, including last year's best actress and actor Natalie Portman and Colin Firth, Tom Cruise, Penelope Cruz, Tom Hanks and Angelina Jolie.

Highlights included a breathtaking cinema-themed performance by Canadian dance troupe Cirque du Soleil, including rapid-fire acrobatics and tumbling across the stage and ceiling of the auditorium.

"Wow," said veteran host Billy Crystal, presenting the show for the ninth time. "I pulled a hamstring just watching that."

The spectacle had begun even before the curtain went up, with the usual procession of glamour gowns on the red carpet leading into the Oscars, the climax of Hollywood's annual awards season.

British comic Sacha Baron Cohen also pulled a colorful stunt, coming dressed as the star of his latest movie, "The Dictator" -- and pouring the faux ashes of late North Korean leader Jim Kong-Il onto the red carpet.

Articulate: A Conversation with Art

By Deepak Arora

GURGAON, Feb 24: Mr. Michael Pelletier, Minister-Counselor for Public Affairs, US Embassy, inaugurated the exhibition “Articulate—A Conversation with Art” organized by Habiart Foundation here at The Westin Gurgaon on Friday.

Curated by Aditi Mody (Trustee) and Isha Patodia (Director) of the Habiart Foundation, the exhibition included a diversity of contemporary Indian artists.

Aptly named Articulate, each artwork displayed speaks a thousand words compelling you to pause and listen.

Speaking on the occasion, Michael Pelletier said “India is blessed with a wealth of amazing contemporary artists, who make us all question underlying assumptions and imagine new possibilities. Works such as these have helped me and many diplomatic colleagues recognize the amazing creativity and potential in India today”.

Speaking about Articulate, Sanjay Sharma, Complex General Manager, The Westin Gurgaon, New Delhi and The Westin Sohna Resort and Spa said “Gurgaon is a preeminent art destination and Articulate is a perfect platform for the prolific talent of artists."

Sanjay Sharma said "the exhibition will reflect some of the best art works from the eminent artists in the arts arena and with this collaboration with Habiart Foundation we reiterate our strong ongoing commitment to Gurgaon’s growing arts and cultural aspect.”

Kiran Shetty, Managing Director, India Western Union, said “Over the years the Indian art landscape has gained significance around the globe. Articulate is one such platform which will showcase the best Indian talent from across arenas and help further enhance the diversity and potential of the contemporary Indian Artiste."

Kiran Shetty said "it’s a pleasure to partner with a profound initiative such as Articulate, as it mirrors what we do well at Western Union - that is connecting Indians across the globe through our world-wide network.”

Several eminent persons, including David Mees, Cultural Attache of the US embassy; Stephanie Veit, Director, International Alumni Relations of the University of Chicago; Abhishek Som, Managing Director, Finnacle Capital Advisors; Payal Chawla, a leading advocate; and Zachary Jones, Associate Director, Copal Partners, attended the soiree.

A walk through the exhibition transports you through different environments and time zones, captivating and enthralling as you peep into the soul of each painting.

You move from the rural Tellangana images of Thota Vaikuntham to Bengal via the mastery of tempera artist Bratin Khan, veteran artist Subroto Gangopadhyay and brush against the artistic intellect of Kolkata maestro Shuvaprasanna.

Along the way admire the bold and bright running cows by HR Das and savour the rural flavour of Laxman Aelay's work. Then move on to a different world with Maya Burman's style that is reminiscent of the French Art nouveau tradition.

Appreciate Prokash Karmakar, Nagesh Goud, Arvind Kolapkar, Sunil Padwal and Nishant Dange, smile with Shyamal Mukherjee’s “Baba & Bibi”, and romance the poetic work by Sukanta Das.

The exhibition has been generously supported by The Westin Gurgaon, New Delhi, The Western Union Group and Four Seasons, in association with the University of Chicago Alumni & Development Office.


Habiart Foundation has been involved in the promotion of contemporary Indian art since 1989. The Foundation prides itself on a comprehensive exhibitions program, drawing upon local and international sources to secure the finest collections available for public viewing.

The exhibition will be on display till March 4, 2012.

French Ambassador showcases ‘The Artist’ in India

By Deepak Arora

NEW DELHI, Feb 22: French Ambassador François Richier showcased much-acclaimed film “The Artist” at his residence here on Wednesday.

In the era of 3D and HD movies, this black-and-white silent film is a declaration of love to the cinema of yesteryears. This amazing, simple and heart-warming love story has already bagged top international awards is expected to win top Oscars later this week.

The film bagged the Best Actor Award (Jean Dujardin) at the Cannes Film Festival, walked away with three Golden Globes, was the biggest BAFTA winner with seven awards, including Best Film, and has obtained ten Oscar nominations and as many for the Césars, the French national film awards.

French Ambassador François RichierDirected by Michel Hazanavicius, the French film is released in India on Friday by Top Entertainment.

The film dates back to Hollywood 1927. As silent movie star George Valentin wonders if the arrival of talking pictures will cause him to fade into oblivion, he meets Peppy Miller, a young dancer set for a big break. This film narrates the story of their overlapping destinies, or how fame, pride and money can be obstacles to their love story.

The film sees magical performances by actors Jean Dujardin and Bérénice Bejo and not to forget George’s faithful hound, played by the extraordinary Jack Russell terrier Uggie. From being a heartthrob of the ladies to being a no-body with no standing in the 'talkies', The Artist is the story of rise and doom of a movie star.

Ambassador François Richier said “The Artist” proves “Silence indeed speaks louder than words”.

"The film is truly a celebration of French cinema but tells a universal story. We’re so happy to take this film closer to its origin via our association with the French Embassy in New Delhi. We’re hoping for the film to do brilliantly at the Oscars and are hoping to spread the story of George, Peppy and Uggie far and wide," said Rajiv Sangri, MD of Top Entertainment, the official distributors of the film in India.

The film opens with George's cinema running to packed houses. Used to people's adulation, the good hearted celebrated hero poses for the press at his movie premiere.

Aspiring actress Peppy Miller (Berenice Bejo) gathers outside the theatre to see George. She accidentally drops her autograph book as the crowd gets hysterical. As Peppy gets down to pick it up, she skips the security barricade thus stumbling into George. Love happens at first sight and only gets stronger as fate brings them together again and again. Years pass, tables are turned. Peppy's the rising star and George the fading one, what happens next?

The Artist is what it is because of its stupendous lead actors. Jean Dujardin plays his role with aplomb. Without uttering a single word, he shows the pain, angst, depression, and pride in the best way possible.

Berenice Bejo compliments Jean with her earnest portrayal of Peppy. From being a wide-eyed ambitious aspiring actress to becoming a diva, Berenice is a natural.

The movie was apparently shot in colour but converted to black & white. The classic b&w cinematography helps one immerse yourselves into the golden age of silent cinema.

The film is a perfect amalgamation of comedy, romance and drama which widens it appeal for every moviegoer. Michel Hazanavicius's splendid writing and direction is flawless.

The film is must watch for its innocence and perfect acting. It makes one laugh and cry. The music which is the only thing you hear throughout the movie is perfectly melodramatic.

TERI-Deakin ‘Nanobiotechnology Research Centre’ inaugurated

GURGAON, Feb 22: Louise Asher, MP and Minister for Innovation, Services & Small business, Minister for Tourism and Major Events, Australia along with Professor Jane den Hollander, Vice Chancellor, Deakin University and Dr RK Pachauri, Director General TERI today inaugurated the State-of-the-art TERI-Deakin ‘Nanobiotechnology Research Centre’, a new research lab facility set up to provide solutions towards a greener and more advanced use of nanotechnology for resolving challenging agricultural, biomedical and sustainability issues.

Speaking at the inauguration of the new lab facilities, Louise Asher said “This outstanding facility is the result of a dynamic partnership between The Energy and Resources Institute of India (TERI) and Victoria’s own Deakin University.

Highlighting the importance of TERI-DEAKIN partnership, Dr RK Pachauri, Director-General, TERI said, “Research at TERI seeks to find solutions to problems related to attaining sustainability and environmental degradation and has made a difference to the lives of many people. The organization’s commitment to these areas is a continuous process, and setting up the TERI-Deakin Nano Biotechnology Research Centre is one of the means through which, TERI plans to create capacity and expertise for technological solutions to problems of inefficient use of natural resources.”

Professor Jane den Hollander, Vice Chancellor, Deakin University said that the centre provided a hub for up to 50 PhD students who are undertaking research under the Deakin India Research Initiative (DIRI).

“What is particularly pleasing about this centre is that it is tackling research into global issues such as food security for a growing world population, sustainable agricultural practices and environmental sustainability,” she said.

“These are vital issues for humanity and it is extremely satisfying to think of the hugely positive implications of this research,” she added.

Dr. Alok Adholeya, Director, Biotechnology and Management of Bioresource Division, TERI said, “The relationship of TERI and Deakin University at this juncture is immensely timely, since the Nano-biotech sphere has to play a pivotal role in application research and ultimately to deliver products and processes those are highly environmental benign and efficient for mankind, specifically, in the health and food sector. The commitment and expertise of TERI and equally important contribution committed by Deakin University would pave the way to achieve the desired goals.”

The new laboratory will be used to bring together Deakin University’s expertise in the design and characterisation of novel nanomaterials and TERI’s experience in biotech applications in food, agriculture, environment and pharmacology.

In 2010, TERI and Deakin University, Australia signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) announcing the setting up of the Nano Biotechnology Research Centre in the field of Nano Biotechnology in India. The centre’s development was an outcome of TERI’s core capability of knowledge creation and development of efficient, environment friendly technologies and Deakin’s India Research Initiative (DIRI) which is committed towards establishing a lasting association with industry partners in India to chart a vibrant culture of research and scholastic excellence.

TERI-DEAKIN Nanobiotechnology Research Centre aims towards a greener and more advanced use of nanotechnology for resolving challenging agricultural and biomedical issues. The Centre aims to contribute to a deeper understanding of Nanobiotechnology in academia and research. Located at TERI Gram, the Centre which has been built on reclaimed land, is not only an architectural delight, but is also planned to provide a setting that enhances learning, and simultaneously showcases the concept of modern green buildings.

The TERI-DEAKIN Nanobiotechnology Research Centre aims to address the physico-chemical interactions of various molecular materials and their behavior in biological systems presents a range of exciting research problems within ‘bio-nanotechnology’ domain. This technology is viewed to go a long way in helping a country’s food security issue, provide benefits in the area of health as well as address environmental issues. There is substantial interest across India in this new field of research as well as in Australia. More prominently, the initiative intends to aim and address areas of mutual interests and envisages that within five years it will have approximately 70 researchers including 50 PhD students enrolled at Deakin and co-supervised by Deakin and TERI practitioners.

This centre aims at a greener and more advanced use of nanotechnology for resolving challenging agricultural and biomedical issues and is working to contribute to a deeper understanding of Nanobiotechnology in academia and research. It is seeking to achieve sustainability in agricultural practices by early detection of phytopathogens by sensitive nano-biosensors and nano carrier-based formulations to improve crop productivity and biotic stress tolerance. Another area of focus is nano delivery of agrochemicals and nanoparticles /nanopolymers along with nanoparticle-based nutrient delivery systems.

Scientists at the centre are currently engaged in research to generate formulations for coating seeds with nanomaterials and biological materials, synthesis of nanoparticles from waste and understand enhanced interaction and secondary metabolites production in a reactor system. The centre is currently looking to develop environment friendly ways of synthesizing nanoparticles using plants and microbes. Innovative solutions are being sought in bio-fuel production. On human health related issues, it is in the process of generating DNA-based nanocarriers or chimeric molecules for target specific gene delivery and drug therapy.

Saif arrested after hotel brawl, gets bail

MUMBAI, Feb 22: Actor Saif Ali Khan was arrested briefly on Wednesday after a guest at one of Mumbai's high profile hotels registered a case of assault against the actor, accusing him of punching him in the nose following a heated argument. Khan's girlfriend and actress Kareena Kapoor was present when the incident happened late Tuesday.

Khan, 41, and two of his friends friends Bilal Amrohi and Shakeel Ladak were granted bail on a surety of Rs 3000. The midnight brawl at the Wasabi restaurant in the Taj Hotel got ugly when Iqbal Sharma, a South African businessman of Indian origin, complained to Khan and his guests, including actor Malaika Arora Khan, her sister Amrita Arora and Amrita's husband Ladak, that they were making too much noise at their table.

Sharma, who was seated at an adjacent table at the time of the incident, claimed he did not know who Khan was.

Sharma said Saif called him an "idiot" for complaining about the actor's loud conduct and asked him to go to a library if he wanted peace and quiet before assaulting him. The police registered an FIR against Khan and his friends under sections 325 (voluntarily causing grievous hurt) and 34 (acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intent) of IPC.

Assistant Commisssioner of police Iqbal Shaikh said that the complainant went to the G T Hospital following the incident and then reported the matter to the police around 2:30 this morning.

Meanwhile, Khan said: "I hope the media is able to remain impartial while the matter is being decided. I don't think any gentleman would have behaved differently." Khan said it was he who was assaulted and that he only defended himself.

"I think they have the CCTV footage in the restaurant that will prove everything. I was hit and I defended myself. I have been to the police station to answer the requirements of law as I am a law abiding citizen. I have also filed a complaint about what happened last night and I am confident justice will be done," Khan said.

The incident, according to the complaint registered by Sharma with the Colaba police station, occurred just past midnight when Khan along with Kareena and some others were having dinner at the restaurant.

Sharma and his 68-year-old father-in-law, who was also allegedly beaten by Saif and his three male friends, said they were abused before being assaulted for their "audacity to complain to the management asking them to keep their voice down". "As we were going down the stairs, Saif was coming up, probably from the toilet. As he passed me, he called me an idiot and asked 'do you know who I am?'"

Sharma said the actor first pushed him and then assaulted his father-in-law who fell on the stairs and bruised his jaw.

He said he had discovered that one of the assailants was Ladak. "The other two gentlemen I don't know." Asked if Khan and his friends were under the influence of alcohol, his father-in-law, who identified himself only as Patel, said,"I cannot say but they were very rowdy." On whether it was a drunken brawl, Sharma said, "We can't say they were drunk or intoxicated, but sober people don't behave like that." Khan has been involved in public spats earlier too, including some photo journalists in Patiala in September 2008.

When asked whether he would consider a compromise if approached by Khan as the offence under which the actor had been charged was compoundable, Sharma said,

"We have not been approached by Saif or anybody. It is too late for a compromise or apology. He should have apologised to Daddy then. This is not how you behave with a senior citizen. Now it is too late."

Incidentally, Sharma, the man at the receiving end of Khan's wrath at The Taj, is the former Deputy Director General of South Africa's department of Trade and Industry. He is also the CEO of Trade and Investment South Africa (TISA). Currently, Sharma is working as a non-executive director on the board of Transnet.

He has worked closely with the South African government and has played a part in South Africa's bilateral trade relations and negotiations. Iqbal Sharma's CV features the names of companies such as PepsiCo and the Bank of America.



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