Will not beg Bharat Ratna for my father: Dhyan Chand’s son

Indian sports legend and three times Olympic Champion Major Dhyan Chand”s Olympian son Ashok Kumar said that political considerations in selection of nominees for the Bharat Ratna has evaded his father and he has missed being decorated with the country”s highest civilian award.

Ashok Kumar, former Indian Hockey captain, World Champion and Olympic medalist, said: “Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had signed on the files and subsequently we were informed by the then Sports Minister that Dada (Dhyan Chand) would be conferred with Bharat Ratna.

“However, the decision was later deferred. By doing so, the government did not humiliate us … it humiliated a national icon.”

Speaking to the , on the National Sports Day, celebrated on Dhyan Chand”s birth anniversary on August 29, the ace hockey forward said: “Awards are not sought. Awards are not desired. Awards are not begged….Awards are conferred by the government to those who deserve them.

“It is now for the government to decide and judge, whether they feel that Dhyan Chand deserves a Bharat Ratna.”

Ashok Kumar, regarded as world”s best dribbler in hockey, post independence, and son of an unbeatable athlete in modern sports history, said that the country should not forget Dhyan Chand”s ultra-nationalistic character.

“Despite the British rule, he (Dhyan Chand) had the courage to take a tri-colour flag in his suitcase to Berlin Oympics, held in 1936.

“When India beat Germany in the finals, in front of Hitler, Dada unfurled the tricolour flag (consisting of a charkha instead of Chakra, and three stripes) at the Olympic games village in Berlin.

“He was the first Indian to unfurl the tricolour abroad. Fortunately enough, the date was August 15, when India won the gold medal. Besides my father, my uncle Roop Singh, a member of the team was witness to this historic event,” said Ashok Kumar.

Speaking about the simplicity of Dhyan Chand, his son recalled an event. “It was in the mid seventies when Dada was invited as a chief guest in a function held at Jhansi (Uttar Pradesh). When organisers delayed in sending a vehicle to pick him up, Dada requested his neighbour to drop him to the venue.

“The neighbour had an old bicycle and Dada as a pillion rider reached the venue on time. The organisers felt guilty to see my father arriving as a chief guest on a bicycle. But there was more shock in store for them.

“Dada requested the organisers that as he arrived with his friend on a bicycle, he will return home on the same vehicle. This incident explains how simple and undemanding he was,” Ashok Kumar said.

Reminiscing the fond memories of his father, the former hockey captain said that Dhyan Chand”s game was closely followed by the Bollywood stars of the time which includes Hindi film industry”s first superstar K.L. Saigal, Prithvi Raj Kapoor, Ashok Kumar and several others.

“In late 1930s, may be in 1937, my father, then considered the second best known Indian in Europe after Gandhi, was participating in Bombay Gold Cup tournament. He represented his famous club Jhansi Heroes. In one of the matches, Prithviraj Kapoor (the great-grandfather of Ranbir Kapoor) and K.L. Saigal were seated in the stadium.

“During half time, Saigal asked my father that his team Jhansi Heroes was not playing up to the mark and had been trailing by 1-2 in the game. Saigal then asked Dada that he would sing one song for every goal scored by him. In the next 35 minutes, Dada scored 9 goals.

“Next day Saigal sent his car to the place where Dada was staying and invited the entire team for a dinner party. After the dinner, Saigal gifted a precious wristwatch to Dada, as token of his love. The watch was sported by my father on his wrist for his entire life,” said Ashok Kumar.

Ashok Kumar, 69, who scored the lone goal against Pakistan to win the World Cup for India in 1975, now teaches his classic skills to youngsters.

He said that after retiring from Indian airlines, he frequently tours different part of the country and continue to interact with young hockey players of the future. On 114th birth anniversary of his father, Kumar was attending a sports function in Betul, a district in southern Madhya Pradesh.


Railways await PMO nod for Delhi-Katra Vande Bharat Express

The Indian Railways is hopeful of getting the approval of the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) to run another Vande Bharat Express, this one between New Delhi and Katra in Jammu and Kashmir, senior railway officials said on Thursday.

An official told IANS on the condition of anonymity: “The proposal to run a second Vande Bharat Express between New Delhi and Katra is with the PMO. We are hopeful of getting a nod in the coming week.”

The official said the plan to run the second Vande Bharat Express, earlier known as Train 18, between Delhi and Katra was sent for clearance a few weeks ago.

The Railway Board decided to run the indigenously built high speed train between Delhi and Katra, the base for the Vaishno Devi shrine, after the success of the train now plying between New Delhi and Varanasi which has completed over 1.5 lakh running km in five months.

The train, capable of attaining a speed of 200 kmph, will cut down the travelling time between Delhi and Katra by over five hours.

Currently, a Superfast train takes about 12 hours to reach Katra from Delhi, covering a distance of about 655 km. The Vande Bharat Express will consume only eight hours.

The official said the route was identified by the Railway Board in order to capitalize on the high traffic volume, which sees a lot of footfall due to the Vaishno Devi temple.

The Railway Board proposes to run the train three days — Monday, Thursday and Saturday. But it can be extended to five days a week depending on the demand.

The Vande Bharat Express will leave from Delhi at 6 a.m. and reach Katra at 2 p.m. The same day, it will depart from Katra at 3 p.m. and reach the national capital at 11 p.m.

The official pointed out that the train would be run at a maximum speed of 130 kmph on the Delhi-Katra route with three stops: Ambala, Ludhiana and Jammu Tawi before reaching Katra.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had flagged off the first Vande Bharat Express on February 15 this year.

The Integral Coach Factory, which manufactured Train 18, has made changes in the existing design of the train.

“To avoid damage due to stray cattle, the train has been equipped with a sturdy aluminium-clad nose cover. And to guard the window shields against stone pelting, a special film on windows has been provided,” the official said.

More space has been provided to store meals for passengers.

Besides the changes in the exterior and interior designs, the ICF has added a slew of modern features like adjustable seats, improved wash basins, automatic doors, WiFi and infotainment system among others.



Sanskrit unifies Bharat, promote it: RSS leaders to Modi

Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) backed organisation Samskrita Bharati has said that Sanskrit was the unifying language of India which must be promoted by the Narendra Modi-led government at all levels across the country.

Samskrita Bharti also honoured 47 newly elected members of Lok Sabha, including Union Ministers Harsh Vardhan, Pratap Sarangi, Ashwini Chaubey and Shripad Yesso Naik. All these MPs had taken the oath of secrecy in Sanskrit.

Samskrita Bharti’s national General Secretary and prominent RSS leader Dinesh Kamat said that the Speaker of the Lok Sabha has been approached to hold training sessions for MPs in the Parliament to get acquainted with the ancient language.

Kamat, who’s part of the RSS think-tank, further said, “Ambedkar had stated that Sanskrit should be made the national language of India. When doctor sahab (Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar) was asked that Sanskrit was a language identified with the Brahmins and that he should not endorse it, Ambedkar told his followers that Vyas, Valmilki and even Kalidas, the great poets of Sanskrit, were not Brahmins. Sanskrit elevates a human being, it unifies Bharat.”

Samskrita Bharti at present has 585 centres spread across the country. Reminding the importance of India’s ancient language, Kamat said that after the last Lok Sabha polls in 2014, 37 MPs had taken oath in Sanskrit and this time (2019) the number has gone up to 47.

“Not only the MPs are showing their interest in Sanskrit, the language is also being researched and taught in 40 countries and 254 universities across the world, including China. It is the mother of all Indian languages and even influences languages through out South East Asia. There are 45 lakh manuscripts in Sanskrit, but unfortunately only 25,000 have been published,” Kamat added.

Besides MPs and Union Ministers, several senior leaders of the RSS graced the event held at the Constitution Club here.

One of the top Sangh leaders Indresh Kumar said that Sanskrit identified Indian culture. The language should be promoted in all institutions across states, he said.

Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan, who took oath in Sanskrit in 2014 and 2019, was a special guest at the function, as according to the organisers, he was not only an admirer of Sanskrit shlokas (verses of wisdom), but also seemed determined to promote the language across platforms.

West Bengal BJP chief and MP Dilip Ghosh, who also took oath in Sanskrit, was the star of the event and was honoured by the RSS leadership.



Indian cricket team enjoys Salman Khan starrer ‘Bharat’ in England

Despite having a busy schedule for the 2019 World Cup in England, the Indian cricket team took out time to watch superstar Salman Khan starrer “Bharat”.

Cricketer Kedar Jadhav shared a photograph of the “Bharat team” — M.S. Dhoni, Hardik Pandya, Shikhar Dhawan and K.L. Rahul.

Jadhav captioned the image: “‘Bharat ki team. ‘Bharat’ movie ke baad.”

Following the thumbs up from the Indian cricket team, an overwhelmed Salman took to Twitter and thanked them for watching the movie.

“Thank you ‘Bharat’ team for liking ‘Bharat’… shukriya bhaiyon for watching ‘Bharat’ in England… Best wishes for the upcoming matches. Pura ‘Bharat’ apke sath hai (The entire country is with you),” Salman tweeted.

“Bharat” is an adaptation of the Korean film “An Ode To My Father”. Directed by Ali Abbas Zafar, it also features actresses Katrina Kaif and Disha Patani. The film surpassed the Rs 100 crore mark at the Indian box office on the fourth day of release itself.



Salman Khan’s ‘Bharat’ is a flawed but monumental achievement

Film: Bharat; Starring: Salman Khan, Katrina Kaif, Sunil Grover, Disha Patani, Jackie shroff; Director: Ali Abbas Zafar; Rating: ****(4 stars)

It’s easy to be dismissive of a film that has no formal structure, one which doesn’t compartmentalize life’s flow but chooses to go with it. The flow, I mean.

But then again, it takes almost three hours of playing time for us to realize that “Bharat” is no small achievement. Like Sultan before this, Director Ali Abbas Zafar doesn’t hesitate in blowing open Salman Khan’s image of the Superstar who always plays variations of himself.

In some of the sequences in this episodic endearing oddball off a film Salman invests genuine emotions. Watch him closely in the sequence where he is reunited with his sister whom he has lost in the tumult of India’s Partition in two badly divided halves. Salman achieves great heights of emotionalism in that beautifully written chunk of cinema.

Of course it helps that Tabu plays his sister in that highly emotional sequence. Tabu can bring out the best in anyone.

The rest of this interesting often brilliant but uneven film is not as articulate as one would like it to be. Much of the adventures that Bharat and his faithful sidekick Vilayati (Sunil Grover, funny and engaging) go through seem strangely incongruous: shrill notes of a symphony that never quite reaches a crescendo. The journey seems to have plenty of genuine emotions. But the sleeping dogs are aplenty. That entire oil-rigging episode seems rigged and thoroughly undercooked.

Why take the protagonist’s journey into such a distance where it becomes difficult to tell what he was looking for in the first place? Some moments meant to be the acme of hilarity just fall flat writhing on the ground. For example the way Bharat pacifies Somalian pirates on board a ship (don’t ask what he’s doing there) with Amitabh Bachchan songs is embarrassing in its out-of-tune humour.

It’s commendable that this one-man show (with some surprising room made for two other characters played by Sunil Grover and Katrina Kaif) actually takes a pause to honour men from Indian history like Jawaharlal Nehru, Sachin Tendulkar, Amitabh Bachchan, Shah Rukh Khan and, ahem, Manmohan Singh who at time when the Congress I is rendered nulled, is praised for his economic reforms.

Zafar and his co-writer Varun Sharma never hesitate in craning their necks out into the dark stretches of narration where the protagonist Bharat’s life goes willy-nilly. It would be erroneous Ato say Salman Khan holds the film together. He should have, as the narrative relies entirely on his ability to carry the narrative from one historic period to another.

Tragically the changeovers in era lack a mood modulation. One minute we are looking at the savagery and brutality of the Partition violence. The next minute we are at a circus where Salman and the monstrously underused Disha Patani (what is she doing here?) behave as if they just watched Raj Kapoor in Mera Naam Joker.

The problem with “Bharat” is one of concentration. It lacks focus and builds its universe of mutating socio-historic events with a lack of dispassionate distance. Where Salman is unconvincing as an aging man, he nails it when trying to express his feelings to his ‘Madame Sirjee’. In his scenes with Katrina Kaif, Salman is as respectful and shy as he is known to be in real life.

Watching “Bharat” I felt a strange stirring of hope and joy. The film spreads a sunshine across its tapestried universe. But it fails to provide an even narrative soundboard for its protagonist whose life hardly seems as illustrative of India’s chequered history as he would like us to believe. Not always credible, “Bharat” nevertheless manages to never loose its composure. It is an achievement of epic proportion which losses some of its greatness in trying to say too many things at the same time.


Salman took over two hours to look old in ‘Bharat’

Superstar Salman Khan’s transformation to looking old in the forthcoming film “Bharat” took almost two-and-a-half hours.

Talking about the “Dabangg” star’s transformation, the film’s director Ali Abbas Zafar said: “This was a difficult task and one has to be very patient with the procedure. It took almost two-and-a-half hours to transform Salman into an older avatar. He had to try over 20 different moustaches and beards for this look.”

Zafar said that Salman did an amazing job when he was told that this particular character is very important in the film.

The film, which is set to release on Eid, also stars Tabu, Jackie Shroff, Disha Patani, Nora Fatehi and Sunil Grover.

The film is an official adaptation of the 2014 South Korean film “Ode To My Father”. It is produced by Atul Agnihotri’s Reel Life Production Pvt Ltd and Bhushan Kumar’s T-Series.



Bollywood, Hollywood to woo movie buffs during World Cup

India’s love for cricket may not eclipse its love for films after all in the forthcoming World Cup season. While Bollywood’s slate includes Salman Khan’s “Bharat”, Shahid Kapoor’s “Kabir Singh” and Sonam Kapoor’s “The Zoya Factor”, Hollywood buffs have a heady mix of franchise entertainers to look forward to.

The World Cup begins on May 30, and will end on July 14 in England.

Bollywood has lined up supernatural horror film “Khamoshi”, starring Tamannaah Bhatia, for May 31, which is also when “Godzilla II: King Of The Monsters” will release.

The much-awaited “Bharat” is Salman’s Eid treat for his fans. Directed by Ali Abbas Zafar and co-starring Katrina Kaif, the movie will release on June 5.

Salman knows India’s heart beats for cricket, and he ensured he made use of the finale of the T20 cricket league Indian Premier League (IPL) fever to be on a show with Katrina and Sunil Grover to promote his film, which will release in the midst of the World Cup.

“It is important to be part of all the major shows and events to ensure a wide reach for the film. ‘Bharat’ being one of the biggest films of this year, promoting our film on India’s biggest cricket league is essential. Salman hopes to get maximum eyeballs with the show,” producers Atul Agnihotri and Bhushan Kumar said in a joint statement.

“Bharat” will pull the audience to theatres, according to Mohan Umrotkar, CEO, Carnival Cinemas.

“The World Cup will not have any adverse impact on business. India is a cricket loving nation, but it also loves Bollywood. Cricket is still not a (source of) family entertainment, but films are the only source of family entertainment. Considering it’s the holiday season, we see films will do better business than last year.

“With Salman back in his action mood, we believe ‘Bharat’ will do record business. Recent past trends suggest that if content is good, people come out in numbers to watch their favourite stars. With a line-up like ‘Bharat’, ‘Kabir Singh’ and ‘Toy Story 4’, we don’t see the World Cup having any impact on business,” Umrotkar told IANS.

In distributor Rajesh Thadani’s opinion, some impact may be seen on the movie business.

“But if the content of these films is good, they will not have any issue, except a slight dip on the days when India is playing,” Thadani told IANS.

An interesting Bollywood release would be “The Zoya Factor”, as its plot hinges on a girl who turns out to be a lucky charm for the Indian team during a World Cup. The movie, featuring Sonam and Dulquer Salmaan, will hit the screens on June 14.

After that, the Bollywood box office awaits: “99 Songs” (June 21), Shahid’s rugged avatar in “Kabir Singh” (June 21), Ayushmann Khurrana-starrer and Anubhav Sinha-directed “Article 15” (June 28), Karan Johar’s production “Drive” (June 28), starring Sushant Singh Rajput and Jacqueline Fernandez, and “Jabariya Jodi” (July 12) featuring Sidharth Malhotra and Parineeti Chopra once again.

The Hollywood calendar is enticing with franchise films.

There’s “X-Men: Dark Phoenix” on June 7, “Men in Black: International” on June 14, “Toy Story 4” on June 21 and “Spider-Man: Far from Home” on July 5.



Rs 46 cr collected under Bharat Ke Veer; Government

The Government on Monday said that a sum of Rs 46 crore has been collected and dispersed as part of the “Bharat Ke Veer” initiative for CRPF troopers who lost their lives in the February 14 Pulwama attack.

Over 80,000 people came forward in the last few days since Thursday to contribute over Rs 20 crore, a statement said.