Archive | March, 2017

Anushka Sharma talks about her brother: We are living our dream

Posted on 23 March 2017 by admin

When younger, Anushka Sharma would find her brother Karnesh irritating. Today, they have teamed up to create magic on screen.

Our conversation begins with some guy talk. Anushka Sharma’s brother, Karnesh, enquires about the mid-day mate. “I remember it used to be popular,” he says. A shocked Anushka is clueless about what her brother is talking about. When told it is a photograph of a sexy girl in a bikini, she quickly says, “Why isn’t there a picture of a man too?” It’s a hot afternoon and we are at Anushka’s home in Versova. In a tete-a-tete with the siblings, who are ready with their second production Phillauri, we talk about filmmaking and bonding.

Your first production venture NH10 (2015) was a thriller which was critically-acclaimed. Did people approach you with scripts of the same genre?
Karnesh: Yes. It was not only newcomers, but established directors and writers as well who pitched womencentric thrillers or about a woman avenging her husband’s death.
Anushka: It’s funny because people should understand we will not make a film on the same subject again. Even as an actor, I do not. NH10 and Phillauri are such diverse films. We’re trying to create different and new content.

What comes to your mind when people say womencentric film? Do you identify with the term?
Anushka: I don’t identify with it because stories are about people. It can be a male or female protagonist. Phillauri is about a ghost; it is her love story. A woman-centric film is not always about strength, substance or fighting society.
Karnesh: It is only here that we talk about woman-centric films. It doesn’t happen in Hollywood or European cinema. People are aware of telling stories with women as the protagonist; that’s why there is a debate about women-centric films.

Phillauri deals with mangliks who are considered unfavourable for marriage? Do you believe in it?
Anushka: Karnesh is a manglik and I told him to get married to a tree for the film’s promotions and he refused [laughs].
Karnesh: Not for film promotions [laughs]! On a serious note, I don’t believe in it.

Anushka, do you find your brother annoying?
Anushka: There was a time when I would get irritated, but it was when I was younger. We would complain to our parents , but today we respect and accept each other .
Karnesh: I like how we are today, and not when we were younger. I am enjoying what we are doing. I wish it had came a little earlier in life, but probably we wouldn’t have had the same understanding of each other. So, I guess everything has the right time.

How were you as kids? Anushka, being younger, would you always get away with tantrums?
Karnesh: I had more tantrums than her.
Anushka: I remember when I was seven, he coaxed me to ask my parents for a video game as a birthday gift. I was least interested in it. He told me, “Bahut mazza aayega saath main khelenge.” I never saw the joystick of the game even once.
Karnesh: I have been manipulative, but now I am making up for it.

Karnesh, you were in the merchant navy. What made you get into film production?
Karnesh: I got bored of sailing. People think it’s a cool job and you get to travel the world, but that’s not the case. There were times when I was working for almost 20 hours a day. I thought if I continue, I will remain alone all my life. Maneesh Sharma was directing Shudh Desi Romance (2013) and he suggested I should try it out with him.
Anushka: Maneesh directed me in Band Baaja Baraat (2010). Whenever I make friends, I make sure they meet my brother because I don’t know how to carry on friendships [laughs]. I am socially inept. Whenever Maneesh would write a script, he would call Karnesh as he has good judgement and gives an honest opinion. In fact, Adi [Aditya Chopra] has called him on several occasions too.

Anushka, you have starred in both your productions. Would you plan a film without starring in it?
Anushka: Of course. By God’s grace, I am doing well in my career, so I don’t need my production house to make films for myself. If I don’t fit into the scheme of things, I will not.
Karnesh: Scripts are not written keeping Anushka in mind. We don’t write scripts keeping any particular actor in mind.

What are your plans for the future?
Anushka: To be able to make the kind of films we want to. We have great ideas and plans. We don’t look for other people’s mistakes and what our action should be.
Karnesh: We are pursuing our dreams and we aren’t going to change our plans according to others.

 

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Taapsee Pannu is eager to teach Kudo to women after training for Naam Shabana

Posted on 23 March 2017 by admin

Taapsee Pannu who is all set for her upcoming release Naam Shabana is keen on teaching Kudo to women. The actress feels that the biggest weapon every female has for her safety is herself and hence, wants to spread awareness about the same. She has taken her first step towards it by giving women self-defence training.

Taapsee Pannu, who is playing a role of an undercover agent, wants to highlight the importance of self-defence for women. The actress is looking forward to teach the basics of kudo, which consists of kicks, punches and submission techniques on the ground.

Taapsee says, “I’ve learned the basics of Kudo and Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), which will help me in my self-defence. With the rising violence against women, it is important for every woman to know the basics of self defense, and I would like to take a step to teach them.”

Taapsee plays the titular role in Naam Shabana, India’s first spin-off, based on her character in Neeraj Pandey’s Baby. She is essaying the role of an undercover agent and has undergone intense training sessions in Mixed Martial Arts to perform action stunts in the film. Gulshan Kumar and Cape of Good Films presents A Plan C Studios production, Neeraj Pandey’s Naam Shabana which is directed by Shivam Nair and is slated to release on 31 March 2017 .

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Rani Mukerji’s first interview post-motherhood & she talks about EVERYTHING

Posted on 23 March 2017 by admin

It’s been two years since I last met Rani Mukerji. She took a break from the life she knew to concentrate on the life she made — Adira. She was immersed in motherhood, and movies were nowhere in the picture (excuse the pun). Now that the queen has committed to a film, she is coming out of her self-imposed exile.

Today, March 21, is her birthday, and she will be working today. A day before her big day, I met the luminous Rani sitting on her throne (okay, chair) in her cabin in YRF studio. The vibe of her office space is warm and friendly, an extension of her own personality. From the colours of the furnishing to the posters of her films on the wall, it’s her domain, alright. And there’s an extra-special place in her world — a photograph of husband Aditya Chopra and her baby girl.

As she talks about her husband, I can’t help but marvel at her fairytale marriage. It’s a coming together of two very different people and they make it work, without making it seem like work. As she returns to the set to shoot her next film Hichki, she talks about what drove her back to work (her hubby), what drives her to act (the love of her fans) and what she dreads (not giving her best to her work). Read on for excerpts….

Let’s talk about your comeback.

Again, that word! Comeback! It’s nothing. It’s just like any another professional taking a maternity leave/break and then coming back to work. That’s exactly what I am doing.

Excited about being back on a film set?

I still don’t know if I am ready to get back to work. I have said yes to working again. But I don’t feel the the way about work now, like I used to, before I had Adira. Right now, though work is something which gives me happiness, the joy that Adira gives me is just too special. I keep telling my husband that’s because he actually forced me to get back to work. He was after me for about three months from the time Adira was born, because he saw me getting obsessed with her. He said, ‘If I don’t push her now, I think she is going to go into that full-on obsession zone.’ And I am still there. Since I gave birth to Adira, he has been like, ‘Come on! You have to reclaim your life and get back. You have to do your work and you can’t completely immerse yourself’, but I wasn’t ready. I don’t think I am ready even now.

So what brings you back?

I have a lot of people who love me and my work, I think it’s my responsibility to keep doing films, so that they get to see a part of me that I am known and loved for. I think working is very important for every woman. It’s a special feeling for a woman when she is independent. It’s a different kind of satisfaction, a different kind of respect she gets, a different feeling of well-being that she feels. There are a lot of mothers who dedicate their lives to their children, and that’s absolutely great and I respect their chosen path. At the same time, I feel, somewhere down the line when the kids grow up and have no time for their parents, that’s the time when few parents or mothers

get a bit…

Feel lost?

Yes, when the kids grow up and they have their own lives, schedules and friends. They don’t want their parents around that much. It’s important to understand early on that while your child is important, it is equally important that you make yourself happy and share that happiness with your child. The way our world is now, a child adapts to both parents working. They know that parents will come back and spend quality time with them. Because I have help. I can leave my child at home. It is easier because I have people I can trust. In other cases, there are family members, but I live in a nuclear setup. And it’s taken me long to kind of identify people and to be able to have that confidence of leaving my baby for those many hours and leave the house. For the first six months, I was completely immersed. I would not move out for a minute.

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Tamil Canadian Makes Strides In the Pageant World

Posted on 16 March 2017 by admin

I hope to be a source of pride to a nation that celebrates it’s 150th year of being at the forefront of all that is progressive.

ANNE KASTHURY SAVERIMUTHU

Anne Kasthuri Saverimuthu, reigning Miss York Region and a Top Ten Finalist for Miss Canada Globe, is flying to Florida this May to represent Canada at an international pageant. Here is her story:

Born and raised in Markham, I grew up in a home consumed by second-generation ideologies and an immense pressure to succeed in every aspect of my life. Pageants, however, were not on my parents’ checklist of milestones and achievements.

The pageant world, for the most part, is known to be a Caucasian dominated playground. In my experience, most individuals are quick to label pageants as superficial contests of physical appearances and false smiles. However, I have discovered that it takes an overwhelming amount of hard work and dedication to compete in these competitions.

I was quite hesitant at first, since I am clearly a minority and have no prior experience in pageantry. Despite this, I set aside my insecurities and applied to become a contestant. I passed the regional assessments and then moved on to the national pageant competition. The pageant itself lasted a full ten days, with practice starting from as early as 6am and ending at 2am the next day.

 Right from the beginning of my first pageant it was evident that I definitely stood out, not only in appearance but also in terms of how I chose to approach the pageant. Choosing to embrace my differences instead of hiding them, I incorporated my Tamil background in all aspects of the competition. For my costume component (which was designed to express Canadian heritage in an attire format) I handmade a design that showcased my roots, as seen in the picture below.

 For the ten days that I was competing, I strived to recognize both of my cultures. I also created a platform based on Covenant House – a charitable organization advocating to diminish the present issue of homeless youth in Toronto. This is a cause I am quite passionate about. What may have seemed like a superficial endeavour to others, quickly transformed into a pursuit of purpose. I came out within the Top Ten of my category from an original pool of a 1000 applicants.

 Competing in the Miss Canada Globe competition allowed for several things to happen in my life. Firstly, I am able to proudly represent Canada, a nation filled to the brim with diversity and culture. Secondly, it has given me the opportunity to represent and bring awareness to a cause I feel strongly about on a large pageantry platform. Lastly, I have been given the chance to break down barriers of the preconceived pageant world.

 I hope to continue to break barriers as I head to Florida this May. I will be representing Canada in an international pageant, not only as a Canadian but as an individual of Tamil heritage. I will do my best to represent all that I value; my character, nation, culture, and pursuit of social change. I hope to be a source of pride to a nation that celebrates it’s 150th year of being at the forefront of all that is progressive.

 

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Stop assaults against nurses and other health-care workers

Posted on 16 March 2017 by admin

Attacks as severe as these ones are, thankfully, rare. But the incidence of assaults on nurses and other health-care workers – everything from spitting to hitting – are far too common. In fact, according to new research from the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions, violence against health-care workers is a “daily” occurrence.

And, apparently, few are immune from the threat of it. The unions found that all but one of 54 workers interviewed for the study had directly experienced violence at work.

These numbers are disturbing, but not surprising. They are backed up by years of research into violence directed at health-care workers. What is surprising is that the unions say the attacks are “unacknowledged, dismissed, or tolerated by administrators and regulators.”

Such an attitude is unacceptable. For too long managers of health-care facilities have known about the threats against their employees, but little has been done to protect them. Precautions must be taken immediately, or sooner or later someone is going to get killed on the job by a patient or visitor.

Indeed, health-care workers already have the second highest number of reported injuries in the province, according to statistics from the province’s workers’ compensation board.

Other studies underscore the increasing risk of a violent attack on workers at Toronto’s health-care facilities. For example, violent incidents in the University Health Network doubled to 331 from 166 between 2012 and 2014. Reports of abuse against staff by patients and visitors jumped to 320 in 2013 from 140 in 2012 at Sunnybrook Hospital. And there were 453 physical assaults or abuse of health care workers at CAMH in one recent year.

“In no other occupation or walk of life would such abuse be tolerated,” notes union leader Michael Hurley.

Why are things getting worse? Workers surveyed for the new research said underfunding and understaffing are “significant contributors” to workplace violence.

As a result, the unions recommend that the ministry of labour audit all of Ontario’s health-care facilities to make sure effective protections are in place; ensure that workplaces have safeguards such as personal monitors, alarms and identification of violent patients; and ensure adequate staffing levels and the presence of trained security personnel where needed.

Labour Minister Kevin Flynn should act quickly on these recommendations. Then he should work on changing attitudes among managers so that violence against health-care workers is never considered acceptable.

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Even judges shouldn’t know names of Ontario’s top-billing doctors, lawyer argues

Posted on 16 March 2017 by admin

Not only should the general public be prevented from learning the identities of Ontario’s top-billing doctors, but so should a three-judge panel that has been asked to overturn an order for the names to be publicly disclosed, a lawyer representing some of the physicians has argued.

“I’m not opposed to having the court have a sealed envelope with the identities of the clients,” lawyer Chris Dockrill told Ontario Divisional Court Justice Ian Nordheimer on Friday.

“If we are successful in the applications, the document presumably gets destroyed or gets returned or forever stays in that morass out there where the court stores and loses things,” he continued.

Dockrill, who is acting for “several affected physicians,” and lawyers for two other groups of doctors are seeking a judicial review of an order made last June by the office of the Ontario privacy commissioner to release the names of Ontario’s 160 top-billing doctors.

The privacy commissioner’s office ruled in favour of an appeal by the Toronto Star in ordering the release of names.

The Star requested physician-identified billing data from Ontario’s Health Ministry in April 2014. For most of the doctors in question, data were provided on annual fee-for-service payments from the Ontario Health Insurance Plan and medical specialties. But names were withheld because the ministry deemed their release would be an unjustified invasion of privacy.

John Higgins, an adjudicator with the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario, wrote in his decision that public disclosure is in the best interest of transparency and accountability.

Departing from previous rulings, Higgins said physician-identified billings are not “personal information” and, therefore, not exempt from disclosure under the province’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

Such data is made public in other provinces such as Manitoba and B.C. Physician-identified billing data is also publicly disclosed in the U.S.

The judicial review will be argued before a panel of three judges on June 19 and 20.

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Trump Lawsuit Can Go Forward After Supreme Court Of Canada Ruling

Posted on 16 March 2017 by admin

OTTAWA — Canada’s highest court is upholding a lower court ruling in favour of investors who have launched a lawsuit alleging they were misled by U.S. President Donald Trump and a real estate development firm.

The Supreme Court of Canada has decided it will not hear an appeal by the defendants, which includes the brash billionaire, Talon International Development and its former executives, in relation to the Trump International Hotel and Tower in downtown Toronto.

The plaintiffs — Sarbjit Singh and Se Na Lee — allege they were sold units in the hotel under false pretenses and misled to believe their investments would result in returns ranging from 7.74 per cent to 20.90 per cent.

Instead, the two investors lost a combined $1.2 million, according to a decision by the Ontario Court of Appeal last year.

The 65-storey tower in Toronto’s financial district is comprised of hotel rooms and private residences and is managed by the Trump Organization.

Last October, the Ontario Court of Appeal ruled in favour of the investors, ordering that the sale of the unit must be rescinded for Singh and damages must be paid to Lee for “negligent misrepresentation.”

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Province Releases Three Year Anti-Racism Strategic Plan

Posted on 16 March 2017 by admin

Ontario is combatting systemic racism by releasing a new three year strategic plan in order to break down barriers for racialized people across the province, including Black, Indigenous and other racialized communities.

The government has heard from people that despite efforts to promote inclusion and equity, histories of slavery, colonization and institutions of our past continue to shape the present and create a further gap between racialized people and others.

Following community meetings held across the province in 2016, Michael Coteau, Minister Responsible for Anti-Racism, today released A Better Way Forward: Ontario’s 3-Year Anti-Racism Strategic Plan. The plan is part of government’s commitment to fight systemic racism and create fair and equitable outcomes for Black, Indigenous and other racialized people.

The plan includes measures to help identify and eliminate systemic racism. It is also an acknowledgement that systemic racism — including anti-Black racism, anti-Indigenous racism, Islamophobia and racism experienced by other communities, including the Jewish community — is real, and can act as a barrier to achieving opportunity.

The strategy includes:

  • Developing a framework for the collection of race-based data in various institutions, including the child welfare system and the justice, education and health sectors. Collecting race-based data is a valuable way to better understand where racial inequalities exist, which will help government work toward solutions to address it.
  • A new Ontario Black Youth Action Plan targeted at increasing access to supports and opportunities for Black children, youth and their families to address outcomes disparities.
  • Implementing an anti-racism impact assessment framework to help anticipate and remove unconscious bias in proposed policies, programs and decisions.
  • New legislation that would, if passed, ensure the sustainability and accountability of the province’s anti-racism work by providing a framework for government and organizations to identify and combat systemic racism.
  • Public education and awareness initiatives targeting racism, including Islamophobia and antisemitism

Eliminating systemic racism and advancing racial equity is part of Ontario’s plan to create jobs, grow our economy and help people in their everyday lives.

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WHY DO PAKISTANI PARLIAMENTARIANS FIGHT?

Posted on 16 March 2017 by admin

  Dr. Hasan Askari

 Two deplorable incidents involving the members of the National Assembly took place on January 26 and March 9. In both cases the members of the ruling PMLN and its arch rival PTI were involved. In the first incident, the members of these parties exchanged punches on the floor of the National Assembly. In the second incident, the two members belonging to PMLN and the PTI made controversial remarks about each other’s leader on the floor of the house. As they came out of the house into the lobby they exchanged hot words and the PTI member attempted to punch the PMLN member. Other members intervened to stop them. Later, the PMLN member held a press conference and made obnoxious remarks about the PTI member and the PTI chief.

 In Pakistan, political leaders and parliamentarians often use non-democratic and un-parliamentary language to address their political adversaries. It is quite common for them to talk about their political opponents in a contemptuous manner. Others who may not make rude and ill-mannered remarks are unable or unwilling to stop their party colleagues from adopting such a negative disposition that brings bad name to democratic institutions and processes.

 Several factors explain the decline in the quality of political discourse and the use of outrageous remarks by parliamentarians. First, parliamentary elections have become such an expensive exercise that only sufficiently wealthy people can take part in it. Certain professions in Pakistan have thrown up a large number of wealthy people during the last two decades, who are convinced that their economic clout gives them a license to pursue their agendas any way they wish. These people hardly care about democratic values and norms except when these serve their political agendas.

 Second, political partisanship has intensified so much that most leaders equate their party interest with the national interest and do not hesitate a moment in rejecting the viewpoint of their rival political party. There is very little, if any, regard for consensus-building, merit and professionalism. The partisan interest rides supreme.

 Third, major political parties encourage their activists to adopt a tough and insulting disposition towards the activists of the rival political parties. The major confrontation is between the PMLN and the PTI as the latter is attempting to challenge the former’s monopoly of power in Punjab. Their members are often engaged in mud-slinging against each other which has lowered the quality of political discourse.

 Fourth, political talk shows on the private sector TV have also contributed to degrading political interaction among the competing political parties. Many anchors and producers invite the political leaders to their programmes who have the reputation of engaging in verbal fights with their rival party leaders. A leader is likely to get more invitations for TV talk shows if he/she develops the reputation of making controversial remarks or heckles the political rivals. Most political parties have “loose and rude” talkers who are praised by the party top leaders for neutralizing the arguments of the political rival. The PMLN has excelled in preparing a team of party activists whose only task is to “praise Nawaz Sharif and condemn Imran Khan” on the media. Such TV shows have contributed to diminishing decency in political exchanges

 Fifth, the party top leaders do not reprimand their parliamentarians or other activists for their indecent and un-parliamentary disposition. The top leaders like Nawaz Sharif and Imran Khan do not regularly attend the parliamentary session that gives an opportunity their respective party members to engage in free-for-all speecesh in the house. The absence of top leader from the house also causes the quorum problem. A good number of members do not turn up for the session or stay there briefly.

 The overall governance pattern negates the principles and spirit of democracy. Instead of creating viable democratic institutions and processes the focus is on building personalized political fiefdom. Professionalism, administrative nonpartisanship and judicious handling of state resources and socio-economic development are replaced with unconditional loyalty to the chief. All development work for the people is projected as personal favours of the ruler. As all favours and distribution of state resources is done by the ruler at the personalized level, there is a race in the political party for showing allegiance to the chief. One way of achieving this goal is to praise the chief all the time and adopt a derogatory disposition towards political adversaries. Such a political culture is the major obstacle to democratic consolidation. Democratic structure and rituals may survive but their substance and spirt is missing.

 The above statement on the poverty of democracy in Pakistan is not meant to make a case for discarding it. The deficiency in Pakistani democracy is correctable provided the top political leaders of the major political parties agree to mend their ways. They need to turn political parties into autonomous political machines with internal democracy. The culture of sycophancy needs to be replaced with professionalism and experience. The top leaders must attend the assembly sessions with greater frequency. They must make sure that the members attend the sessions regularly, take part in the proceedings and maintain the decorum inside and outside the house. This will improve the quality in Pakistan.

 

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Housing report suggests surtax on expensive homes could help Toronto market

Posted on 16 March 2017 by admin

A new report suggests a foreign buyer tax alone can’t solve Toronto’s soaring housing prices.

The report, titled “In High Demand” and released Monday by Ryerson University’s City Building Institute, favours a tax on foreign buyers — similar to the one introduced in Vancouver last summer — but suggests it should be implemented in addition to a “progressive surtax” on expensive homes owned by people who aren’t paying income tax, including people with foreign capital.

“The surtax essentially gets wiped out if you’re earning money locally and paying taxes locally or in Canada,” said report author Josh Gordon, an assistant professor at Simon Fraser University.

It’s a system that hasn’t been implemented elsewhere, Gordon said, though it was first proposed several months ago by his colleague Rhys Kesselman.

The surtax would target foreign buyers who don’t contribute to the local labour market, as well as wealthy Canadian citizens who have “aggressively evaded taxes,” the report said.

And it would also be progressive, like income tax. The surtax would only apply to the value of a home over a certain threshold, the report said. The further you get from that threshold, the more the property is taxed.

“Most importantly, the tax would alter expectations,” Gordon wrote in the report. “Torontonians would come to recognize that subsequent demand for housing would be primarily local, not foreign, and thus that prices were likely to fall.”

Gordon noted that both the policies are related to demand in the housing market, as opposed to supply.

He noted while the number of active real estate listings in Toronto has declined in recent years, the number of new listings has stayed the same. In other words, the same number of houses are going on the market, they’re just getting snapped up quickly.

“This isn’t normal. A lack of supply isn’t causing this. It’s a surge in demand, and demand that’s beyond the normal growth of population, construction and new listings of homes,” said Cherise Burda, executive director at the Ryerson City Building Institute.

“I think often demand is overlooked by this cry for more supply,” she added. “We can’t build our way to affordability.”

But she said supply shouldn’t be ignored altogether.

“When you look at supply, it’s what type of supply you need to build.”

She said developers are largely building high rises downtown, and detached houses in the “suburban periphery,” far from transit, schools and services.

She said Toronto needs to build “missing middle housing”: townhouses, midrises and stacked flats.

Figures from the B.C. government show a drop in real estate transactions in the Vancouver area after the provincial government brought in a 15 per cent tax on foreign buyers last August. However the market had been showing signs of softening prior to the tax after months of scorching sales.

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