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It is comedy doyen David Dhawan’s 45th film. It also marks 25 years of heritage production house Pooja Entertainment that began its journey in 1995 with, yes, ‘Coolie No. 1’ starring Govinda and Karisma Kapoor.

New Delhi: The trailer of Varun Dhawan and Sara Ali Khan starrer ‘Coolie No. I’ is still trending on the top spot on social media and has garnered over 50 million views in just two days across all platforms including YouTube, IGTV and Twitter.

Fans are thrilled to see a rebooted version of the classic comedy of errors with a coolie assuming the identity of a millionaire to woo his girl-friend and impress her obsessively status-conscious father.

Fans have particularly liked the nostalgic references to the hit tunes of the original cult-classic that was also directed by David Dhawan and produced by Pooja entertainment.

The comic timing of Varun has been hugely appreciated and the quirks of Johnny Lever, Javed Jaffrey, Paresh Rawal, and Rajpal Yadav have inspired countless tweets, memes, and hilarious comments.

The film is expected to stream on Amazon Prime on December 25 but with partial relaxations in place, exhibitors are keen to break the long silence in their theatres with a triumphant premiere.

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Lopez and Affleck wed in Las Vegas – 17 years on

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Hollywood stars Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck have got married in Las Vegas, Lopez has confirmed.

“We did it. Love is beautiful. Love is kind. And it turns out love is patient. Twenty years patient,” she wrote on her website.

The nuptials come 17 years after they called off their first engagement.

News of the couple getting back together last year sent fans into a spin, as they publicly displayed their rekindled love on social media.

The Clark County Clerk’s Office in Nevada – where Las Vegas is located – shows on its record system that Jennifer Lopez will change her name to Jennifer Affleck.

Writing on her OntheJLo website, she said the couple had flown to Las Vegas on Saturday and queued for a marriage licence alongside four other couples.

“They were right when they said, ‘all you need is love’,” she wrote.

“We are so grateful to have that in abundance, a new wonderful family of five amazing children and a life that we have never had more reason to look forward to.”

The pair met on the set of the movie Gigli in 2002, and got engaged in 2003, but broke it off the following year, blaming “excessive media attention”.

However since getting back together, they have regularly posted photos and videos online of romantic holidays and moments with their families – prompting fans to nickname the couple Bennifer.

During their time apart, Lopez was engaged several times and also married to singer Marc Anthony from 2004 to 2014. They have two children together. This will be her fourth marriage.

Meanwhile Affleck was married to actor Jennifer Garner from 2005 to 2018, and they have three children together.

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Indian classical music legend Shivkumar Sharma dies

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Indian classical music legend Shivkumar Sharma has died at the age of 84.

Sharma was an exponent of santoor, a dulcimer-like instrument. He suffered a heart attack at his residence in Mumbai on Tuesday morning.

Sharma is credited with converting the santoor, which was mainly played in Kashmir, into a major instrument of Indian classical music.

Sharma was also part of a duo – along with flautist Hariprasad Chaurasia – who worked on classical and film music.

Shiv-Hari, as they were called, composed music for at least eight Bollywood films, including Silsila, Chandni, Darr and Lamhe.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi led the tributes to Sharma.

“Our cultural world is poorer with the demise of Pandit Shivkumar Sharma Ji. He popularised the Santoor at a global level. His music will continue to enthral the coming generations,” Modi wrote on Twitter.

Sharma was born and raised in Jammu in a house by a river where, in his words, “from dawn till dusk, someone or the other was singing or playing an instrument”.

His father, Uma Dutt Sharma, came from a family of priests, and was himself a classical vocalist and played the tabla, the traditional Indian drum.

In the early 1950s, when he was handling music programmes for a state-run radio station, Uma Dutt began researching the santoor, a traditional instrument of Kashmir used in local Sufi music.

He bought home a 100-string santoor and encouraged his young son to try playing it.

Years later, Sharma recounted that he had initially resisted playing the instrument.

“My father told me, ‘You have no idea what is going to happen with your name and the santoor. They are going to become synonymous. So you have to play this’, Sharma told interviewer Ina Puri.

By 17, Sharma was playing both the santoor and the tabla for the local radio station. He flowered into a versatile musician, later playing the tabla for maestros such as Ravi Shankar (sitar) and Ustad Ali Akbar Khan (sarod).

Singer Vijay Kichlu once said Sharma made the santoor a major component of Indian classical music.

“Unlike the santoor, the sarod, the shehnai and the violin were considered major instruments, with the sarangi being used as an accompanying instrument to vocalists,” Kichlu said.

Also, playing the santoor was not easy: the instrument is not played with the fingers. Instead, its strings have to be struck with a mallet held in each hand.

Sharma once said he had modified the instrument to “suit the requirements of Indian classical music – specifically to enhance its tonal quality”. Interestingly, he was also the first musician to play the instrument, weighing eight kilograms, on his lap for hours at a time – traditionally the santoor was kept on a wooden stand when played.

Some critics were “harsh”, saying the santoor would never be accepted as a classical instrument, and told his father that his son had chosen the “wrong instrument”, Sharma recounted in his autobiography, Journey with a Hundred Strings.

But Sharma persevered.

In 1955, when he was 17, he had turned down an offer from V Shantaram, a Bollywood director, to compose a song in his film – saying his calling lay elsewhere.

But five years later, he arrived in Mumbai looking for music-based jobs in the film industry – by then, he had also acquired a master’s degree in economics.

“His work, for much of the sixties and some of the seventies, kept running like a train on two tracks – his work in cinema, and his opus on the [classical] concert stage,” said Manek Premchand, a historian of film music.

Over the years, he played to packed audiences at classical shows, where he would never play his popular music. Ravi Shankar once called Sharma a “superstar” who would be always “mentioned as a pioneer in elevating santoor to the height of classical refinement”.

A rare musician who effortlessly straddled both classical and popular music, Sharma played the santoor for least 40 popular Hindi film songs sung by greats such as Lata Mangeshkar, Mohammed Rafi, Kishore Kumar and Mukesh.

In the eighties, his collaboration with Chaurasia spawned many hits, beginning with Silsila, starring superstar Amitabh Bachchan.

Bachchan once remembered a New Year’s eve during the shooting of Silsila when the duo played well past midnight at the hotel they were staying in Delhi.

“When it was all over, we could see not just a physical exhaustion on the part of Sharma but as though his very soul had got exhausted,” Bachchan recalled.

In 1998, Kumar and Chaurasia became the first Indian musicians to play at a Nobel prize ceremony in Oslo alongside Alanis Morissette, Elton John and Phil Collins. The duo also performed in the central hall of India’s parliament.

Sharma received some of India’s greatest honours: the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1986, the Padma Shri in 1991, and the Padma Vibhushan in 2001.

He is survived by his wife and two sons. One of his sons, Rahul, is also a santoor player of repute who has recorded with Richard Clayderman and Kenny G.

(RNZ)

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China intensifies censorship of Hollywood movies

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Amid a rising trend of curbs on rights in China, the country is intensifying its censorship of Hollywood movies to make them ‘conform’ to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) ideals, a media report said.
The practice, which is almost 25-years old, has expanded in recent times even as producers make movies with an eye toward pleasing Beijing yet without isolating the global audience, Voice of America reported citing industry insiders.
“Now it’s kind of escalated in the sense that they’re much more direct in banning films outright rather than just tampering or asking for scenes to be removed,” Stanley Rosen, a University of Southern California political science professor who follows China’s film industry was quoted as saying.
As per the report, industry observers say censors are also asking that versions of movies for audiences outside China follow Beijing’s script.
It is unlikely that censors will allow the 2022 Marvel Studios movie “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” to be shown in China, the report said, citing a recent op-ed in the Chinese state-affiliated Global Times which said that the movie contains nods to Falun Gong, a spiritual movement Beijing has banned and labelled as a cult.
“As a country under the rule of law, China regulates the film industry in accordance with the Film Administration regulations,” Liu Pengyu, spokesperson of the Chinese embassy in Washington was quoted as saying.
The China Film Administration, an oversight body for the USD 7.4 billion Chinese film industry market, banned Marvel Studios’ 2021 superhero films “Eternals” and “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings,” which were released last year, the report said.

The 2021 superhero film “Spider-Man: No Way Home” missed Chinese approval because authorities wanted Sony Pictures to remove images of the Statue of Liberty from the film, the report further said.
“As the dragon gets bigger, its leverage gets bigger, and no one’s pushed back yet,” Chris Fenton, Hollywood executive and a lifetime member of the Council on Foreign Relations think tank was quoted as saying.
According to James Tager, research director at the free-speech advocacy group PEN America, an increase in Sino-U.S. tensions since the administration of former US President Donald Trump may have exacerbated China’s treatment of American movies.
Refusal of a Chinese order to cut a scene would risk the studio’s future business in China, such as the next Disney or Marvel film or other assets, Tager said.
“You may get a reputation as someone who doesn’t play ball, which could have even further knock-on effects, possibly for other films or possibly for other business relationships that large studios have in China,” Tager said.
Recently, the Philippines pushed back against Marvel Studio’s attempt to woo China in the case of the 2022 American action movie “Uncharted.” The Southeast Asian country’s cinemas banned the movie at the request of the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs, the report said.
The department objected to a scene that showed Beijing’s nine-dash line claim to the South China Sea, which Manila vigorously disputes. The nine dashes demarcate China’s claim to about 90 per cent of the sea.
Manila moved earlier to block the showing of “Abominable,” a 2019 animated collaboration between the U.S. and a Chinese production company because the same nine-dash line was shown in the cartoon.
Hollywood is slowly factoring in the “arbitrary” demands from China, Stanley Rosen said. One thing it has learned, he said, is to avoid making Chinese-themed films such as “Shang-Chi” because those can be better done in China, the report said. (ANI)

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