Airtel & Lionsgate strike strategic alliance, launch Lionsgate play in India

Partnership Gives Airtel Customers access to Premium Content including Blockbuster Film Franchises, New and Recent Theatrical Releases and Deep Library

Bharti Airtel (“Airtel”), India’s largest integrated telecommunications company, global content leader Lionsgate (NYSE: LGF.A, LGF.B) and Starzplay, the international premium subscription platform from Starz, have joined hands to bring premium content from Lionsgate Play to customers in India.

The partnership will give Airtel customers access to a deep portfolio of critically acclaimed and beloved Lionsgate feature film content, which will be available on Airtel Xstream app and web platforms. Airtel Xstream app has a catalogue of over 10,000 movies and shows along with 400 TV channels.

By expanding the Indian market’s access to premium quality content on a leading digital platform, the collaboration is expected to be a compelling value proposition for the Indian cinephile audience. The content will be available in multiple Indian languages and spread across the horror, comedy, drama, action, thriller, documentary and other genres.

Lionsgate Play’s initial offering includes the blockbuster Hunger Games and Twilight Saga franchises, multiple Academy Award® winner La La Land, and the critically-acclaimed international breakout hit Wonder among its deep slate of box office successes.

In addition Airtel customers will have access to recent hits like American Assassin, Robin Hood, The Spy Who Dumped Me, A Simple Favor, Saban’s Power Rangers as well as marquee library titles such as Divergent, Now You See Me 2, Gods of Egypt, Letters To Juliet and Reservoir Dogs.

Commenting on the partnership, Adarsh Nair – Chief Product Officer, Bharti Airtel said: “We are thrilled to partner with Lionsgate to bring exciting content from their library to our customers as part of Airtel Thanks program. Our mission is to make Airtel Xstream the most loved digital entertainment platform in India and enable best-in-class experience across a range of connected devices and applications. We will continue to forge long-term strategic partnerships with the top content producers from around the world as part of our mission and look forward to collaborating with Lionsgate to delight customers in India.”

“The partnership with Airtel is a great opportunity to expand the Lionsgate Play premium offering with a best-in-class partner, a vast feature film library and a compelling user experience for our customers. Telcos play a huge role in increasing the availability of premium content on digital platforms, and we’re proud to join forces with a partner like Airtel that combines enormous reach, a powerful brand and unparalleled distribution expertise. This is another major step forward in bringing an exciting and unique content experience to our Indian audience,” said Rohit Jain, Managing Director Lionsgate Play South Asia.



Jammu and Kashmir schools open but students play shy

The Jammu and Kashmir administration”s big push for restoring normalcy in Kashmir by opening schools has received a major jolt as students have stayed away.

Last week the government announced opening of primary and middle schools in the valley but here in the capital city hardly any students have turned up for their classes.

visited some prominent Srinagar schools like Tyndale Biscoe, Mallinson, DPS and National School but couldn”t find students in any of them.

“Admission for LKG scheduled for August 19 and 20, stand postponed. New dates will be announced later,” read a notice on the gate of the DPS while at Mallision, school has put up a notice issuing interview dates for fresh admissions.

“Teachers are coming to the school but not the students,” said one official from the Delhi Public School (DPS).

Though the government has lifted restrictions on the movement of traffic in most parts of Srinagar and restored landlines in few pockets of the capital city, yet a looming fear of violence erupting any time has kept most parents jittery and they have not mustered the courage to send children back to schools.

“Sending my children to school is just not the priority right now, it is very risky, let the situation stabilize, then only I can think of sending them to school,” said Abdul Rasheed in old city area of Khanyar.

However, the government says it is working out the step by step plan of opening of the schools notwithstanding thin attendance of students.

“A total of 1,500 primary schools and 1,000 middle schools were opened although attendance continues to be very thin in so far as students are concerned. The Education Department will try to operationalise primary and middle schools in areas where there are no restrictions,” said Rohit Kansal, government spokesperson.

The real challenge though for the government will be opening the higher secondary schools and colleges which have witnessed student protests in the past.



HC to RBI, Google Play; Reply on plea over Google Pay

The Delhi High Court on Wednesday asked the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and Google India Digital Services Private Limited to file a reply on the plea alleging Google Pay not being listed as an authorised operator as per list of the ‘Payment System Operators’.

A division bench of Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice Anup Jairam Bhambhani issued notice to the RBI and Google India Digital Services Private Limited on a Public interest Litigation (PIL) filed by Abhijit Mishra.

The petitioner has sought direction to the RBI to stop Google Pay operation in India.

He has requested the court to impose penalties on the Google India Digital Services Private Limited for doing unauthorized operation in India.

The petitioner in his plea said that he is concerned with the welfare of Indian economic and banking system in the view of the privacy of Indian citizens.

He said that Google Pay is doing unauthorized operation in India as per the Payment and Settlement Systems in defiance of the Section 4 sub section 1 of the Payment and Settlement Systems Act, 2007, published by the Reserve Bank of India on March 20, 2019.

The said section clearly mentions that no person, other than the RBI, system not shall commence or operate a payment system except to operate under and in accordance with an authorization issued without by the RBI.

“The Google India Digital Services Private Limited doing business as Google Pay though its unauthorized operation in India as Payment and Settlement Systems has unmonitored and unauthorized access to the personal information such as Aadhar, PAN, Transaction etc. of the public by acting as a Payment and Settlement Systems,” read the plea.



Rasikh Salam becomes 2nd J&K cricketer to play in IPL

Rasikh Salam Dar, the 17-year-old son of a schoolteacher, on Sunday become the second cricketer from Jammu and Kashmir to play in the Indian Premier League (IPL) after Parvez Rasool.

Salam, a right arm fast bowler, was included by Mumbai Indians in the playing XI against Delhi Capitals in their opening IPL match at Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium on Sunday.

He conceded 42 runs in the four overs he bowled, but could not pick up a wicket.

Salam is the third cricketer from J&K to be picked by an IPL franchise. Manzoor Dar was roped in by the Kings XI Punjab in 2018 but he didn’t play any match.

Rasool has played 11 IPL matches for three different franchises — Royal Challengers Bangalore, Sunrisers Hyderabad and the now defunct Pune Warriors India.

Belonging to Ashmuji village in Kashmir’s Kulgam district, Salam made his Ranji Trophy debut for J&K in December last year.




India won’t play on backfoot against terror says Jaitley

Finance Minister Arun Jaitly on Friday attacked Congress President Rahul Gandhi over his chief advisor Sam Pitroda’s remarks on the Pulwama attack and said if the ‘guru’ (teacher) has such thinking, then one can imagine how his student would be.

He said the fight against terror cannot be won by playing on the backfoot and India’s security doctrine had evolved to a point where it does not just defend itself, but can also go to the origin of terror and make a pre-emptive strike.

Jaitley’s remarks came in response to Pitroda’s comments that incidents like the February 14 Pulwama suicide bombing “happen all the time” and that the UPA government also could have sent planes to Pakistan after the 2008 Mumbai terror attack but “that is not the right approach”.

“Agar guru aisa ho aur uske vichar aise ho, to shishya kitna nikamma niklega (If the teacher has such views, then how worthless the student would be),” the Finance Minister said at a press conference.

“It is unfortunate for India that somebody who is an ideologue of the Congress has said so. I think such people have no connect with India’s security requirement, the sentiment of India and Indian forces, and the pain and loss that we have suffered in last three decades due to terrorism,” he said.



Whether to play Pakistan or not, ball is in government’s court

So much is happening in cricket, both on and off the field. Its exciting on the park and so much politicking in the board rooms.

West Indies won a Test series against England at home and Sri Lanka handed out South Africa a similar 2-0 drubbing in their own backyard. Both West Indies and Sri Lanka had been going through a horrendous period before this unexpected reversal of form.

In off-field politics, India is divided whether to play Pakistan in the World Cup 2019 in the wake of a terror attack in Pulwama, inspired by organisations from across the border. Mercifully, the debate took a back seat with Australia in India to play two Twenty20 and five One-Day International (ODI) matches series.

The voices that matter in Indian cricket have spoken using the cricket sense, while some others sounded sanctimonious in trying to be more loyal than the king. Or is it they just want to be in the news at a time when words should be measured and tempered with logic, instead of looking for headlines or looking politically correct.

Surprisingly, a couple of active players thought it fit to express their feelings. Twitterati has its role in gauzing public mood, but decisions are not taken on emotional expressions or the language of trolls.

When the twitter is not abuzz about India-Pakistan World Cup game, it has another favourtie whipping boy, Mahendra Singh Dhoni. Fans expect him to win a match for India every time he goes out to bat, whether he is batting with Virat Kohli or Yuzvender Chahal as partner. They expect him to score at a run rate of over 100.

How quickly the fans forget that barely a month ago he was the man-of-the-series in Australia. Even for a last-ball defeat in the first Twenty20 game in Visakhapatnam on Sunday, Dhoni has to be blamed for refusing singles in the last two overs, just like Dinesh Karthik was crucified for the Twenty20 defeat in New Zealand. Yes, in both the cases, a couple of singles could have made the difference.

As for the India-Pakistan clash, the match is still some four months away and a lot can happen during the period, most importantly a new government will have taken office after the general elections, possibly in May. Things can get better for the teams to play their Old Trafford game on June 16.

Sunil Gavaskar and Sachin Tendulkar, two of India’s greatest batsmen, were on the same page. Both want India to play Pakistan and beat them. Both see forfeiting the match does not amount to punishing Pakistan and for that they should beat them and deny them the two points.

The point of discussion is whether sport can be used to settle political conflicts. This is not going to be the first time that the countries have been dogged by politics and it won’t be the last. The international sports administrators have been tough in dealing with political considerations, saying it goes against the spirit of Olympic charter.

Only last week the International Olympic Committee (IOC) suspended all talks with India on its applications to host international events and asked its member federations not to hold any event in India unless the authorities promise that every participant is assured of visa.

The IOC came down hard on India after two Pakistani shooters, participants in the 25-metre rapid fire event in the ongoing International Shooting Federation World Cup, were denied visa by the Indian government.

India and Pakistan have had off-again and on-again cricketing ties, the two countries played bilateral series in between their strained relations. They even met in the world Cup when the Kargil conflict was on.

A decision on 2019 World Cup will be a cricket decision and not a political one as the top three men, who have anything to do with running the government and the ruling party, have been connected with cricket.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi was president of the Gujarat Cricket Association (GCA) till he handed over the reins to his trusted associate Amit Shah. Shah is now the chief of the state association. The two may not take a decision on matters of cricket without consulting Arun Jaitley, who had been the cricket board vice-president for long.

The easy way out is to say India will only be conceding two points to Pakistan by forfeiting their round-robin match and it should not affect their chances of entering the knockout semi-finals as one of the four top finishers. What people seem to ignore is the two points Pakistan get may take them into the semi-finals, or even the final where India can still run into them.

There are precedents of teams boycotting teams in the World Cup when their governments took political decisions. It all started with Australia and West Indies refusing to go and play Sri Lanka in 1996 on grounds of security and as luck would have it the island nation went on to win the World Cup, beating Australia.

Then in 2003, New Zealand refused to play Kenya in Nairobi, citing fears of security, and England did not want to go to Zimbabwe as their government was opposed to the Robert Mugabe regime. The result was that both failed to get to the next stage.

Let’s not forget the chairman of the ICC is Shashank Manohar, an Indian, and he has already assured the Indian board of full security to the Indian team during the World Cup.

At the end of it, it will still be a government decision.



Manoj Joshi to play Amit Shah in ‘PM Narendra Modi’

Manoj Joshi will be playing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) national President Amit Shah in upcoming biopic “PM Narendra Modi”. The veteran actor is elated at the great opportunity coming his way.

“I think this is great opportunity for me to play the role of Amit Shah. When Sandip Ssingh called me for the role I immediately said yes. This is one of the most important roles in the film and I will give my best,” Manoj said in a statement.

The film’s producer Sandip Ssingh said: “This was one of the important roles in the film and nobody better than Manoj Joshi could have done it. He is one of the most talented and hardworking actors. It is a great experience working with him.”

The film also stars Zarina Wahab, Prashant Narayanan, Boman Irani, Barkha Bisht Sengupta, Darshan Kumar, Akshat R. Saluja, Anjan Shrivastav, Rajendra Gupta and Yatin Karyekar.

Actor Vivek Anand Oberoi will be playing the title role of Modi.

“PM Narendra Modi” the biopic will discover the journey of Narendra Damodardas Modi from his humble beginning to his years as Gujarat Chief Minister onto his landmark win at the 2014 general election, finally becoming the 14th Prime Minister of India.

The biopic, directed by National Award-winner Omung Kumar, will be shot extensively in Gujarat and across locations within the country.



Don’t play cricket with nation’s future; Shivraj tells Rahul

  1. Former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Chouhan on Monday took a jibe at Rahul Gandhi for his “back foot-front foot” comment at a Patna rally, and said that the nation was not a cricket field and the Congress President should not play with its future.

Chouhan’s jibe at Gandhi came a day after the Congress leader was at his aggressive best and said his party would henceforth “play politics on the front foot and not the back foot” while addressing its Jan Akanksha rally on Sunday.

“Rahulji bringing in new rhetoric into play. He is promising left, right and centre. Suddenly he is promises galore.

“Now he is talking about playing politics on front foot. The country is not a 22-yard cricket pitch that he will play on front foot and hit the ball out of the stadium,” the Bharatiya Janata Party leader said.

Taking a swipe at the opposition who have been trying to align ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, Chouhan added that the nation’s best option remains Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

“It is people like Modiji who is the need of the hour; who will work hard tirelessly for the nation,” Chouhan said here at the BJP office while launching 29 digital raths from here for each state.

Slamming the Congress for its farm loan waiver tactics in the three states of Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, where it snatched away power from the BJP, Chouhan who was ousted after 15 years in power, said: “Congress government in the state is just fooling farmers with loan waivers.

“All they have done till now, is get the poor lot to sign a number of colourful papers. No money has been credited to their accounts yet.”

The Congress’ Jan Akanksha rally was a show of unity of “like-minded parties” that was a must to defeat the Modi government in the Lok Sabha election, Gandhi said at the rally that was also attended by its allies including the Rashtriya Janata Dal.

It was the first time in many years that the Congress organised a rally in Bihar on its own.