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Arijit Bhattacharya (Aishzone)
Username: Aishzone

Registered: 2-2004
Posted From:
Posted on Monday, March 22, 2004 - 10:03 am:   

Aishu's speech at India Today Conclave

Source: India Today magazine March 29 edition

Topic: Exploiting India's Soft Power

Aishu during her speech
One of the eminent speakers at this conclave, Sunil Khilnani, has written a book about the idea of India. I am trying to talk about the India of ideas. The global entertainment and media industry saw growth in 2001 rising by 1.5 per cent. According to PricewaterhouseCoopers, the global entertainment and media spending will reach $1.4 trillion in 2006. Films will play a major role in the entertainment and media sectors in India. Indian films now reach multi-cultural audiences the world over. The Indian film entertainment business is poised to grow to approximately 1.1 billion dollars by 2006. Besides films, television is booming big time, broadcasting, music despite Napster, the electronic media and even the print media, are all contributing to the growth of the sector in a big way in India. Films have been generating software for all these areas, and dare I say, even on news channels these days.

The flip side of this trend, however, which we need to check now, is of quantity leading to a decline in quality though corporatisation is definitely a positive trend. Indian films are making a global impact. Lagaan, Devdas or even Chokher Bali-the last two are films I have been part of, so I got to see the reactions overseas in person-have been enormous successes. We must appreciate how America, or rather Hollywood, has elevated film marketing to an art form. They created a culture, a whole way of life and sold it brilliantly, telling the world at large what to believe, what to love, what to fear, what to dream about, and what to
(4 letter word that starts with h and ends with e and which means, “dislike greatly”. This word is not allowed in this message board) . But we should also look closer home at the potential of our truly rich culture which is just waiting to be rediscovered.

For me that was what being Miss World presented. Representing India on the Cannes Film Festival jury, and being on the cover of Time magazine, only after india today, definitely for me have been steps in that direction. I would like to make all the efforts I can to contribute to this movement of us acquiring recognition on the international platform. While on entertainment, we couldn't possibly leave the media out. The role it plays is critical in shaping perceptions at home and abroad. With that comes responsibility. I know this seems personal but coming back to my experience at the Cannes Film Festival, I will cherish it for a long time. But sadly, a large bracket of the media went ahead and documented it more for the supposed goof-ups by the designer.

From where I stand and see it, there could not be a more opportune moment to promote India's industry globally. And this can only be done with support from within our soft powers. Yes, we know historically, our films have been appreciated globally. They probably empathise with our ethos, our emotions, our family values. The great western myth has been created by films but what we have are not myths. Our culture and spirituality are for real. Our need is to market our dreams and aspirations more effectively. The right incentives from the Government are essential.

On an end note, simply to redefine soft power, we can also look at it as woman power. We lament the exploitation of the female that exists within the entertainment medium. The sad trend seems to be that the women entering this arena are inclined to believe that shedding inhibitions is a short cut to instant recall, not recognising that it has a short shelf life. I have stuck to my conviction over the years. To be actually demanding scripts or talking contracts even up until recently was a constant cause for uproar. When it came to being part of regional films like Chokher Bali, soon after the commercial success of Devdas, it raised a lot of eyebrows here. People wondered now why would she do this? I was lending my commercial value to what was dubbed as art cinema. And yes, we did see the returns. As a creative person, I got to be part of a fabulous film and enjoyed my role. It has evoked a wonderful response the world over and today there are lot many people actually willing to invest in the Bengal film industry. I feel secretly thrilled to have catalysed it.

So for women, I would just like the message to reach them that just recognise your potential to the fullest. Make your choice yourself, exploit it with a farsighted approach, do not allow yourself to be exploited. When I was preparing my speech I felt I was back in school doing homework. Today, I hope the audience saw a woman in contemporary, competitive and blossoming India. Not just the sari.


Q. How do you think we can maintain integrity in all the films we make? And how do you think we can combat piracy in an effective way?
Rai: To be very honest, as I said before, I am really not an authority on the workings of my industry to know how they go about the copyright area. As for se(the letter that comes after w) in the movies, well, I think we cannot be prudish and say that we simply cannot have it. We have to be realistic. We have to change with the times. However, what you can have is grading of films. In the past, and call me old-fashioned, movies used to be graded. Today that division seems to have surely blurred and that bothers me simply because of the kind of influence it has.

Q. Would you take the role of a James Bond girl and do whatever is necessary if it was offered to you?
Rai: It all depends on the script. Just as that rule applies to any and every film irrespective of where it comes from.

Aishu as she questions the President
even Musharraf turned mushy when quizzed by Aishwarya Rai, who stole the show with her ethereal presence and composure despite being virtually mobbed by male admirers, many of them celebrities in their own right. Apparently, she was such a hit with Musharraf that Pakistan is reportedly trying to convince her to visit the country in April as part of a cii delegation. Rai, who was a guest speaker at the concluding session of the Conclave, worked hard on her speech, staying up till 4 a.m. the day before preparing for it.

At the Conclave, Rai shared the dais with Sonny Mehta, president of the New York-based publishing giant, Alfred A. Knopf. Mehta and his wife, author Gita Mehta.

Aishu asked the President Mr President, as we hug each other today, what I would like to ask you, are we truly feeling the warm vibes of love between us or are we still sceptical and looking over our shoulders?
First of all I am very glad to be asked a question by one of the most popular filmstars of India. How deep is the desire for peace between India and Pakistan. I am very sure of Pakistan. I think all sections of society in Pakistan want peace and harmony with India. When we signed a joint statement there was a surge in the stock exchange. We must go for peace in a bold manner.
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Arijit Bhattacharya (Aishzone)
Username: Aishzone

Registered: 2-2004
Posted From:
Posted on Sunday, March 14, 2004 - 8:25 am:   

In a special interview for Aaj Tak (a news channel of TV Today network), Aishu was expressing her concerns about too much exposing done by the new entrants in the film industry. Even in the conclave Aishu spoke on this issue as she was commenting on the role of media and cinema.

In the interview Aishu said that the girls shouldn't think that exposing is the shortcut ticket for instant fame. She observed that too much of exposing is done now a days. She said that she feels sad. She also said, " I am speaking from an audience perspective" a person may get the impression that they get identified instantly because they connect instantly, they are instantly recalled with the imagery. Being a women I want to give them a "warning" "from experience and well meaningly so", that exposing "doesn't necessarily assures you a long shelf life or a long span career" because in a way an artist or a women gets bracketed.

Responding to a question that there was a speculation of her joining Samajwadi party, Aishu said that if that was the case then her face would have adorned on the front page of every newspaper by now. She chuckled, "There is no such thing. I am just sticking to what I do".

On asking about her stand she took in the conclave on double standards prevalent in Bollywood vis-à-vis remuneration, Aishu replied, in a way I was trying to share my experiences. Right from the beginning, since the time I joined films, "I have worked towards strengthening the female position in our industry"

Finally Aishu was asked whether she has read Pride & Prejudice. Aishu grinned, "Yes, I am glad that I got to play and essay her character or the equivalent of her character (Lalita) in the film".

Before signing off the jurno thanked Aishu for the interview

Aishu : "Thank You"
Jurno: I hope you enjoyed the conclave
Aishu: "Yes I did"
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Arijit Bhattacharya (Aishzone)
Username: Aishzone

Registered: 2-2004
Posted From:
Posted on Sunday, March 14, 2004 - 8:05 am:   

Aishu asked the president, "Are we truly feeling the warm vibes of love between us or are we still skeptical and looking over our shoulders ? Thank you"

President smiled and replied, "I am very glad to be asked a question from one of the most popular film stars of India whom one knows here in Pakistan also. Let me say I am very sure about Pakistan, it is extremely deep. I think all section of the society in Pakistan want peace, want interaction, want harmonious relation between India & Pakistan.

Source: Aaj Tak dated March 13, 2004
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Arijit Bhattacharya (Aishzone)
Username: Aishzone

Registered: 2-2004
Posted From:
Posted on Saturday, March 13, 2004 - 9:56 am:   

President Musharraf lightheartedly urged Aishu not to act in war movies. He said, “I would request Aishwarya Rai who is sitting in the audience not to act in such movies. I think they are quite ridiculous because they are most unrealistic. They are absolutely unrealistic and I wouldn’t like an artist of your stature Aishwarya to be acting in such movies. I think there should be some balance in portrayal."

Aishu laughed in response

The moderator asked, “Mr. President, does it mean you would allow love stories to be distributed in Pakistan barring war films?”

President replied, “War films are absolutely all right as long as they are little realistic. They shouldn’t be one sided that you are dealing with pigmies on the other side and there are heroes going around on the other side. I mean let’s be a little realistic.”

Aishu grinned in response

Source: Aaj Tak (TV Channel)
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Arijit Bhattacharya (Aishzone)
Username: Aishzone

Registered: 2-2004
Posted From:
Posted on Saturday, March 13, 2004 - 7:40 am:   

Aishu was in New Delhi today i.e. March 13, 2004 to participate in the India Today Conclave

1610 - 1725:
Session: Cinema and Literature: Exploiting India's softpower

Sonny Mehta, Editor and President, Alfred E.Knopf
Aishwarya Rai, Hindi film actor

MODERATOR: Suhel Seth, CEO, Equus/ Red Cell

Excerpts: -

Aishu lashed out at media for irresponsible journalism.
"Instead of focusing on the fact that I was representing India in such a big, prestigious event, the media chose to concentrate on designer goof-ups"
"This sort of publicity is very negative and discouraging to someone who is trying to represent her country in an international forum."

She expressed her concerns about the misconceptions of Indian modern women in the western world.
"It is shocking that (people in Britain) were surprised I was educated in my country.
"They also found it highly questionable that females should discuss contracts or negotiate about money or take a stand on an issue."

Aishu’s concluding statement was very impressive and effective as well
She urged fellow women to "recognise the power and potential to the fullest and not allow themselves to be exploited."
Concluding her speech, she could not resist a final jab at the media. "I am a woman in today's blossoming and competitive India, I hope you can see much more here than the sari I am wearing!" html

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