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How The West ‘Performed’ In India!

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Actors, singers, models, DJs — 2011 saw a barrage of international celebrities like Tom Cruise, Lady Gaga, Shakira and Paris Hilton making inroads into India, reaffirming the blurring lines between the Hollywood and Bollywood worlds.

Shutterbugs kept clicking throughout the year, as celebrities kept trickling in one after the other, either for business or mere leisure.

The actors footfall started with “X-Men” star Hugh Jackman’s visit in March 2011, and Tom Cruise rounded up the year with his “Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol” co-star Paula Patton in tow, here. Jackman attended the FICCI-FRAMES 2011 and Cruise became one of the first international A-listers to attend his movie premiere in the country.

Among other actors, names like Judi Dench, Rowan Atkinson, Kiefer Sutherland, Liev Schreiber, Naomi Watts, Josh Hartnett, Elizabeth Hurley, Heather Graham and Michelle Yeoh, and Patton came cruising down to India for work commitments.

In March, Hartnett came down on a 30-day schedule for “Singularity”, which happens to be Indian actress Bipasha Basu’s debut Hollywood project. They shot around Bhopal. 

”Inception” director Nolan was here in May to shoot at Jodhpur’s Mehrangarh Fort for his movie “The Dark Knight Rises”.

Veteran actress Dench, who now plays M in the James Bond franchise, too was among the international entourage that came and shot in the country. She shot in Jaipur with Maggie Smith, Tom Wilkinson and Bill Nighy for “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”.

Commenting upon her India visit Dench told an international magazine: “I’d never been to India before, but, my God. I want to go back. I’d read E.M. Forster saying once you go to India and your life is never the same and I wrote it in the back of my diary. I didn`t know how much that would apply.”

British actress-model Elizabeth Hurley accompanied her latest beau, cricketer Shane Warne to support him at the Indian Premier League (IPL) matches. While American actress Camilla Belle was here to promote her film, Indo-Canadian venture “Speedy Singhs”, produced by Bollywood actor Akshay Kumar. 

”Mr.Bean” Atkinson was spotted at the Formula 1 event, and was even seen in the Pink City. In November, Schreiber and Sutherland couldn’t escape shutterbugs despite a hush-hush shooting schedule in old Delhi, for filmmaker Mira Nair’s movie based on Mohsin Hamid’s novel “The Reluctant Fundamentalist”. Schreiber’s partner, actress Naomi Watts, visited Jaipur with her mother Miv, her two kids and friend Georgia.

Yeoh came to India with director Luc Besson for the screening of her film “The Lady” at the International Film Festival of India (IFFI), and Graham was also seen at the film extravaganza. Yeoh later attended the inaugural F1 Indian Grand Prix.

While many see the cultural exchange as a promising trend, actor-filmmaker Rajat Kapoor feels the visits of foreign stars is a wee bit over hyped in India.

”Oh My God Tom Cruise is coming to India, OMG Gerard Butler loves Priyanka Chopra, OMG Imogen Heap thinks Hindi is a melodic language…….Oh my God white people love us. White people love Bollywood! We are blessed! We have arrived!! Oh please.. ,” Kapoor once tweeted.

But actor Kanwaljeet Singh said: “People have watched their films since childhood, and some people watch more of foreign cinema..so for them, they are stars. What’s the problem in that? Now if someone like Robert De Niro comes to India, of course we will try to go and meet him and try to shake hands with him. What’s so bad about it? We admire them.”

Socialite heiress Paris Hilton too came down to launch her line of handbags in the country, and said: “I had been wanting to come to India for a very long time because it is an incredible market. But I just didn’t get time before.”

Singers and musicians were not far behind either.

In March, Senegalese-American singer Akon regaled his desi fans. Akon, who joined hands with superstar Shah Rukh Khan for the Hindi chartbuster “Chhammak challo”, brought in his birthday at a huge “party” full of fans in Gurgaon, and later performed in Bangalore.

American rapper and singer, Flo Rida, best known for the chartbuster single “Right round” from the movie “The Hangover” was here for a quick visit, and performed for fans in Pune and Bangalore, in September.

In October, several other musicians thronged the nation. If international DJs Roger Sanchez, Edward Maya and Tom Navy performed at the after-parties of the Formula One after-party of the Airtel Grand Prix of India, the cherry on the top was Grammy award-winner Lady Gaga’s performance on the day of the finale. 

Gaga also promoted her album “Born This Way” in the capital, and made her first appearance before the media in a tricolour hairdo, and sported Indian designer Naeem Khan’s outfit.

What also created buzz was the first-ever performance by heavy metal band Metallica. For most fans, the event in Gurgaon turned out to be a dampener after the concert was cancelled last minute due to “technical issues”. However, for those who caught the show in Bangalore, had no reason to complain.

In the following month, “Hips don’t lie” singer Shakira flew all the way to perform at a private birthday bash of a real estate tycoon K.P. Singh in Udaipur. British musician Imogen Heap was also here to perform for fans in New Delhi and Pune.

American rapper Pitbull came down on his maiden tour, a three-city affair, in December, and others who added jazz to the nation was Bob Sinclar.

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Pakistani Anti-graft body wants travel ban on Nawaz Sharif, kin

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Pakistan’s anti-corruption watchdog has asked authorities to place ousted premier Nawaz Sharif, his daughter and son-in-law on the Exit Control List to prevent them from leaving the country.

The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) sent a formal request to the ministry of interior. The interior ministry officials confirmed that the NAB wrote that names of Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law Capt (retd) Muhammad Safdar should be put on the Exit Control List (ECL), which listed individuals not allowed to leave Pakistan.

The NAB argued that as the trial of the three nears its conclusion, it is feared that they would leave the country.

Earlier, a similar request to place name of finance minister Ishaq Dar on ECL was not accepted, allowing him to go to London and never return.

Sharif, 68, and his family this week filed an application with the accountability court seeking a fortnight’s exemption from personal appearance from February 19 onwards to let them go to London to see Sharif’s ailing wife. Three cases were filed against Sharif and his family last year, including Avenfield properties, Azizia & Hill Metal Establishment, and Flagship Investments.

Maryam and Safdar are accused only in Avenfield properties case. The NAB had filed two supplementary references against Sharif, his sons Hasan and Hussain regarding Al-Azizia Steel Mills & Hill Metal Establishment and Flagship Investment cases.

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Pakistan “breaches obligations’ on nuclear arms reduction, UN court told

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The Hague: Pakistan is violating its “obligations” to the international community by failing to reduce its nuclear arsenal, the Marshall Islands told the UN’s highest court on Tuesday.

The small Pacific Island nation is this week launching three unusual cases against India, Pakistan and Britain before the International Court of Justice.

Majuro wants to put a new spotlight on the global nuclear threat, its lawyers said yesterday, by using its own experience with massive US-led nuclear tests in the 1940s and 1950s.

“Pakistan is in breach of its obligations owed to the international community as a whole,” when it comes to reducing its nuclear stockpile, said Nicholas Grief, one of the island nation’s lawyers.

Islamabad and its nuclear-armed neighbour India “continue to engage in a quantitative build-up and a qualitative improvement” of their atomic stockpiles, added Tony deBrum, a Marshallese government minister.

DeBrum warned that even a “limited nuclear war” involving the two countries would “threaten the existence” of his island nation people.

Pakistan and India have fought three wars since independence from Britain in 1947, two of them over the disputed Himalayan territory of Kashmir.

In 1998, the rival neighbours both demonstrated nuclear weapons capability.

The ICJ’s judges are holding hearings for the next week and a half to decide whether it is competent to hear the lawsuits brought against India and Pakistan — neither of which have signed the 1968 nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

A third hearing against Britain — which has signed the NPT — scheduled to start on Wednesday will be devoted to “preliminary objections” raised by London.

The Marshalls initially sought to bring a case against nine countries it said possessed nuclear arms: Britain, China, France, India, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia and the United States.
Israel has never admitted to having nuclear weapons.

But the Hague-based ICJ, set up in 1945 to rule in disputes between states, has only admitted three cases against Britain, India and Pakistan, because they have accepted the ICJ’s compulsory jurisdiction.

Pakistan’s lawyers did not attend Tuesday’s hearings.

It did however file a counter-claim against Majuro’s allegations saying “the court has no jurisdiction to deal with the application” and insisting that the case is “not admissible”, said ICJ President Ronny Abraham.

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Bangladesh to drop Islam as official religion following attacks on Hindus

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Bangladesh to drop Islam as official religion following attacks on Hindus

New Delhi: Bangladesh is likely to drop Islam as its official religion following a series of attacks on people from other faiths in the country. The country’s Supreme Court is hearing a plea challenging the status of the official religion of the country to Islam.

Bangladesh, which was declared a secular country after its formation in 1971, was declared an Islamic country following a constitutional amendment in 1988.

According to a report in the Daily Mail, the plea has challenged the declaration of Islam as the national religion of the country.

The move is being supported by leaders from the minority communities like Hindus, Christians and Muslim minority Shiites.

Bangladesh has 90 per cent of Muslims, 8 per cent Hindus and remaining constitutes Christians and Muslim minority Shiites.

In last month, a Hindu priest was hacked to death following an attack on a temple in Panchgarh district. Two others were seriously injured in the attack. There have been several lethal attacks on writers and bloggers.

According to a report in the Independent, Islamist groups Jumatul Mujahedeen Bangladesh and Ansarullah Bangla Team are believed to have carried out at least seven attacks on foreign and minority people in Bangladesh in the past year.

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