Lord Ganesha’s Milk Miracle

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Milk Miracle

Today begins the 11-days festival that will culminate in ganeshvisrajan.
I have been a follower of Lord Ganesha from the day the world saw the miracle of Lord Ganesha, the day every Ganesha Idol drank milk!
On September 21st 1995.
My first thought when I heard about this was that BJP or VHP or some right wing Hindu groups have unloaded thousands of statues with suction pumps or some other gimmick to politically capitalize on the sentiments. Or perhaps it was a new show-piece we would be able to buy after this publicity gimmick.
I didn’t even bother to check it by standing in the long queues. I wasn’t a temple-goer and loathed queues.
I shrugged off the story again when the lady I was interviewing received a call from Solan about Ganpati drinking milk. “It has been organized very well but then BJP has a powerful presence all over,” I said and returned to questioning the lady.
My next stop was Santacruz Police Station where I was investigating a story. I had to get some documents photo-copied. This got me the opportunity to witness the miracle, without even standing in the queue. I found a general store which also had a photo-copier. Even as the documents were being copies, I noticed a couple of persons were offering milk to an idol of Ganesha. I was mildly curious.
My first question to the shopkeeper was, “Where did you buy the idol? Who sold it to you?”
“Sir, this idol has been with us since decades!” said the shopkeeper.
Amazed, I picked up a spoon and offered milk to the stone idol. As the spoon touched the lips of the idol it disappeared. I offered one more spoon of milk. Again, it disappeared!
The unworldly happening brought worldly cities and towns to a standstill, and its vast stocks of milk – more than a million liters – sold out within hours. Just as suddenly as it started, it stopped in just 24 hours.
Television stations (among them CNN and BBC, radio and newspapers (among them Washington Post, New York Times, The Guardian and Daily Express) eagerly covered this unique phenomenon, and even cynical journalists held their milk-filled spoons to the statues of gods – and watched as the milk disappeared.
The scientists from India’s Ministry of Science and Technology offered capillary action as an explanation; insisted that the surface tension of the milk was pulling the liquid up and out of the spoon, before gravity caused it to run down the front of the statue. Skeptics called it mass hysteria.
And whether you call it a miracle or ‘capillary action’, every statue of Lord Ganesh drank milk at the hands of lesser mortals – even the disbelievers and half-believers.

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A Hollywood Indie shot in India gets Manhattan Film Festival Award

Casting Director Vidya Iyengar flanked by Production Head Srivinay salian on her right and director Michael Keller on her left.

Casting Director Vidya Iyengar flanked by Production Head Srivinay salian on her right and director Michael Keller on her left.

Red Gold got the award for the best thriller – at Manhattan Film Festival – and I found one of my FB friends Vidya Iyengar thrilled. She turned out to be the casting director for this Hollywood film that was shot in India, in fact Dharavi; the largest slum in Asia.

Read Vidya Iyengar’s first person account.
Excerpts:

..And the award for the best thriller in international film category goes to RED GOLD … I heard this from one of my cast and I could visualize Michael Keller the director holding the coveted trophy with a lot of people.
I wanted to scream and hug my husband who has stood by me and held the fort at home when I was away managing a circus like scenario of casting and production. But I didn’t.
I went to my balcony, stretched out and went through slides of my life as it was for nearly a decade being in this caravan. I smiled and smiled as the word ACHIEVED echoes in my mind again and again. I am from an Iyengar family where a cinema means to plan a week in advance book the tickets, deliberate whether stall and balcony and dress to kill and watch the movie in a nearby movie hall which means taking no cab. This journey has been at my terms and on my calling in this challenging creative world of cinema.
The morning of November 2012 found me reading a Facebook post about an international film to be shot in Mumbai. A Hollywood Director was looking for someone to assist in production as a Casting Director. After meeting Srivinay, the Production Head and the Director Michael Keller I was lucky enough to be there to go along for that ride.
The synergy worked. We went around the lanes and by Lanes of Dharavi (Mumbai) because of the subject matter to familiarize with the script and the way of life and to relate with the characters of the casts.
Casting for Red Gold was a real challenge, as this was the slum based Indian story made to be in English. More than 200 artists came for Audition. Choosing the cast was a tough task.
The film was shot in a Vasai village, 90 km from Mumbai. Due to severe budgetary restrictions; I almost worked for free but got paid when the movie won the Manhattan award.
Last but not the least, I would like to thank Srivinay Salian , Michael Keller and my entire cast including Shivam Sharma, Richa Meena, Mayur Bansal, Major.Bikramjeet Kunwarpal, Sundeep Hemnaoni, Akul Raje, rest of the team members and my family and friends to be part and allowed me to enjoy the award. I am confident and believe my team winning this recognition has opened the doors for all of us in their respective art work to walk through and make their caravan a colourful journey.
It’s also given me the opportunity to realize my potential as a human being and make positive changes.

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Three wars of YUDH

amitabhbachchanYUDH

Amitabh Bachchan has often changed the rules of the game, and Bollywood history of the last 40 years has witnessed it. He did the same to TV with Kaun Banega Karodpati too. He is always a treat to watch. I have expectations from Yudh.
I thought his entry would be dramatic, worked out brilliantly and we may have to wait for the buildup. Known for his legendary punctuality, Amitabh playing Yudhishtir Sikarwar or Yudh, didn’t waste a single frame before making his appearance.
The theme has exciting possibilities. Yudh is a successful builder with integrity and principles. He seems to have antagonized a powerful group including a politician played by Tigmanshu Dhulia, a Police Commissioner (Kay Kay Menon) and some others. Yudh seems to suffer from some strange neuro-psychological ailment. He is delusional – seeing a clown instead of a normal person – and is unable to control his left arm. This conflict is difficult to understand though it gives an unusual dimension to the story. He has two wives (Sarika is the ex and Ayesha Raza is the second wife) and has a daughter and a son from both, respectively.
So we have three wars – 1. Amitabh V/S Business rivals. 2. Amitabh V/S his wives (this has yet to become clear.) and 3. Amitabh V/S Amitabh because of his strange ailment. The third conflict may be more interesting.
But seeing that this is supposed to be an ‘expensive’ mini-series I was disappointed to see a rather unimpressive office of Amitabh, the construction magnate. I’d advise the set designer to take a look at the offices of Hiranandanis, Oberoi Reality, Lokhandwala and other builders. But how much of the production values you see on the screen and how much is gobbled up by the big names would be confidential information with Anurag Kashyap, Shoojit Sircar and Ribhu Dasgupta.
I’ve talked of possibilities but it all depends on how the story shapes up. Unlike most of the soaps, this seems an intelligently told story. The second episode will tell.

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