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Mumbai Diary page: Friday Frolics

Liberty is the only true law
THE Kashish film festival opened on Wednesday night, with a grand ceremony at teh city’s Liberty theatre, near Bombay Hospital. The venue played a huge part in making the occasion a historical one. Liberty’s owner Nazir Hoosein had stated that he was delighted to do things differently and said he felt overwhelmed by the standing ovation he received from the audience.

SPOT ON: Pallav Patankar. Pic/Sameer Markande
SPOT ON: Pallav Patankar. Pic/Sameer Markande

Yet it was up to activist Pallav Patankar to tell it like it is: “It seems like poetic justice that after the Supreme Court effectively reinstated Section 377 (criminalising homosexuality) we are having a Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender (LGBT) film festival at a cinema called Liberty.” Oratory? Never in short supply at Kashish. The festival’s film director Sridhar Rangayan had said, pre-fest at a press conference, that he always dreamt of the festival going mainstream, where audiences would watch LGBT films in theatres just like they do at other cinema venues, with popcorn and coffee. Well, there was popcorn and coffee on Wednesday night. Popcorn went at Rs 30 a packet, while the coffee was Rs 25. Much, much less than what you pay at multiplexes these days.

One more reason for supporting single-screen theatres, perhaps.

Roar and score
INDIAN Premier League (IPL) Mumbai Indians bowler Pragyan Ojha has become the latest brand ambassador for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).

CAGE RAGE: Pragyan Ojha is all made up and ready to roar
CAGE RAGE: Pragyan Ojha is all made up and ready to roar

The left arm spinner spoke out for animals who suffer in zoos, says PETA, In a campaign, Ojha appears locked in a glass zoo enclosure with parts of his face and arms painted with tiger stripes. The caption reads, “Save the Tiger: Say No to Zoos”, and the ad goes on to proclaim, “Save animals by protecting their natural habitats, not by imprisoning them in zoos.” He added, “Animals are like prisoners in the zoo. They have limited place to move around. They are not comfortable. They are just cramped up, which is not natural, I feel animals belong to a natural habitat. They don’t belong to a closed environment. If we stop going to zoos and stop encouraging people from going to the zoo, it will help in that cause.” Aiga! Listen to this tiger.

A piece of history
OUR in-house scavenger of old books and magazines found himself another treasure — a February 1966 issue of Life international magazine covering the death of India’s second Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri.

Life printed a touching colour photograph of Shastri’s widow mourning her loss with the late PM draped in the India flag. The eight-page coverage of Shastri’s death includes a huge photograph of his eldest son beside the funeral pyre. It is well documented that Shastri’s January 11, 1966 death was a mystery that occurred just after the Tashkent agreement was signed with Pakistan, a country that’s in the news today with Narendra Modi inviting its Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for his swearing-in ceremony.

The Life report said: “ ‘After the signing, the mood that night in Tashkent,’ cabled Life Moscow Correspondent Peter Young, ‘was one of joyous triumph. Indian, Pakistani and Soviet delegations crowded banquet tables top-heavy with shashlik, plov, chebureki, cognac and Uzbekistan wines. Noisy toasts competed with the wail of singers and gijak players as Uzbek girls danced in glittering native dress.’ Then, only hours after that celebration, Shastri (61) had a heart attack.”

Say (ca)shew to nuts!
RAIN. That word is sure to get ears perked up, as we swelter in the city. While we long for a breath of monsoon breeze, apparently our neighbours to the south are having a little too much in the way of wet weather. We had mentioned recently that Mumbaikars holidaying in Goa could visit the state’s first coconut and cashew festival from May 21 to 25.

Well, it seems heavy rain and stormy weather have put paid to those plans, and the festival has been called off until further notice. Goa Tourism says they will hold it later, but considering that it is cashew season right now, we don’t fancy it happening later in the year. Next time, scheduling it not so close to the start of the monsoon may help, eh?

And if they could send some of that weather this way....

Biting punishment
APART from the civic health department, it is also the duty of developers or builders to restrict mosquito breeding on their construction site. Mosquitoes are the cause for the spread of malaria and dengue, and stagnant water is an ideal breeding ground for them. Currently there are about 2,588 construction sites in the city, and the BMC has issued notices to 474 developers while FIRs have been filed against 145 developers who have not taken the step of spraying anti-mosquito oil. In a few cases the civic body charges them for spraying done by its own staff, to prevent mosquito breeding. The crackdown pays off in one way at least — in the past month the BMC has recovered Rs 3 lakh from developers by way of fines. We wonder if that hurts as much as do the bites from the Culicidae family members.

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