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MessagePosté le: Mer 10 Jan 2018 - 18:31
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Fearless Nadia: Bollywood’s stunt queen

http://gulfnews.com/life-style/celebrity/desi-news/bollywood/fearless-nadia-bollywood-s-stunt-queen-1.2155040

The blue-eyed, blonde, Australian-born actress Mary Evans was one of the earliest Indian stars

Bollywood was more of a colonial construct than we thought — even when the Indian freedom struggle was at its initial pitch. And in its early days, it could also boast of strong feminist credentials. These contradictory impulses were fully showcased in the incredible career of one of its earliest, most identifiable and popular stars — Fearless Nadia, aka Hunterwali.

Subverting the ambivalent, largely patriarchal attitude to women that has been an Indian hallmark, women marched shoulder to shoulder with men to win freedom. Meanwhile, from the 1930s to the mid-1940s the nascent national film industry had a raft of female stars dominating the scene, overshadowing their male counterparts and defining Bollywood creations.

Among these women was the tall, blue-eyed, blonde, Australian-born ‘Indian’ actress Mary Evans, whose 110th birthday was marked on January 8.

Her story is especially instructive at a time when gender inequality is still an unwelcome feature of the entertainment industry.

Evans was born in 1908 and came to India with her family in 1911 — the year iconic actor Ashok Kumar was born. The star, who came to be known as Fearless Nadia because she did her own stunts onscreen, was still around when Shah Rukh Khan was rising to the top.

“A large blonde, her movie roles involved beating up Indian men and then bursting into loud laughter,” says journalist-author Mihir Bose in Bollywood: A History.

She was also famous for brandishing a whip, carrying stuntmen on her shoulders and her exuberant shout of “hey-y-y”.

Evans was the daughter of a British Army soldier, who died in the First World War, leaving her Greek mother and Mary to fend for themselves in Bombay. She spent her childhood in Peshawar where they moved, travelling by the Frontier Mail. When there were no opportunities there as she grew out of her teens, she returned to Bombay by the same train — which would later be the name of one of her most famous films.

After stints as a salesgirl, a circus performer and dance troupe member and after changing her name to Nadia on an Armenian fortune-teller’s advice, she decided to try her luck in films. She was recommended by the directors J.B.H. and Homi Wadias and in her first meeting impressed them so much that they took her on.

While her looks and her laboured pronunciation of Hindi militated against her, she persevered — even rejecting the Wadias’ suggestion that she be known as Nanda Devi and wear a black wig with long pigtails. And then they found the perfect vehicle for her — costumed stunt dramas.

And it was in one of them she got her nickname from her sangfroid and humour. As Bose writes, Evans had to do a scene where she fights some villains on a roof and then jumps off. She asked which one and shown the particular roof, coolly said okay.

While Homi had a specialist bone-setter on the scene and others stood anxiously, she jumped onto a thin mattress.

Bose continued in his book: “The jump seemed fine, the cameraman said ‘okay’, Homi shouted ‘Cut!’ but Nadia was motionless. Everyone ran to her, fearing the worst. Then Nadia opened her eyes and let out a loud laugh. Fear turned to wonder and everyone broke into applause. At the end of the day’s shooting, Homi held a meeting in his office for the entire staff and renamed Nadia ‘Fearless Nadia’, the name by which she was to be known for the rest of her film career.”

She went to do over three dozen films, from Noor-E-Yaman (1935) to James Bond spoof Khilari (1968) and Ek Nanhi Munni Ladki Thi (1970), though she had more or less retired after marrying Homi in 1961, and the last two were just reprising of her old image.

While her films like Hurricane Hansa, Miss Frontier Mail, Lady Robinhood, and Himmatwali may now seem curiosities, they had their own significance — not only in Bollywood but in modern Indian social history as the heroine of films that were anti-British but starred a British woman.

“Her films were shunned by the Indian intellectuals but they appealed to the uneducated urban masses increasingly drawn to the cities, factory workers, tonga drivers, and they reached beyond India to Africa and the Far East, where her blonde looks and rebellious on-screen behaviour carried an enormous sex appeal,” says Bose.

And only if we could balance this with respect for her achievements — and extend this courtesy to all women, that would be the best tribute we could pay to her.

http://gulfnews.com/life-style/celebrity/desi-news/bollywood/fearless-nadia-bollywood-s-stunt-queen-1.2155040
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MessagePosté le: Mer 10 Jan 2018 - 18:31
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MessagePosté le: Mer 7 Fév 2018 - 08:57
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Chennai’s Armenian culture set in stone since 16th Century





The church on Aranmanaikaran Street

CHENNAI: The Aranmanaikaran Street, also known as the Armenian Street is a narrow lane, bustling with shops, shopkeepers, and vehicles, which has been a witness to years of changes in history and culture. But despite all the development in and around the street, what has stayed is a white arch-shaped Armenian church.




The harmonious ringing of bells inside a long, white bell tower welcomes you. This bell which usually rings every Sunday morning, rang on Tuesday to mark the service being offered after more a year. A divine liturgy brings Armenians from across the country and sometimes even from outside India, to come together, deliver their prayers, offerings and to retain the long history of the Armenians in Chennai.  
 
 
The history of the church dates back to the days of Kojah Petrus Woskan, an Armenian merchant who came to Madras from Manila at a time when the city was like a magnet, because of St Thomas of Cana. “Woskan built the steps of St Thomas Mount church and the Marmalong Bridge. Before he departed, he wrote all of his will to the people of Madras,” said Jude Johnson, the caretaker of the Armenian Church, adding, “You would have noticed the picture of Mother Mary taking Jesus to heaven inside the altar, and it is only in this Armenian Church that you would find such a photo.” 

The church, which was built as a wooden structure in 1712, was then reconstructed in stone in 1772. This year, the church had a curtain at the altar to conceal the priest from people, a tradition followed during some parts of the liturgy. Rev Movses Sargysan, pastor and priest from Kolkatta, was seen in a bright traditional cassock and a crown. Accompanying him was a deacon, who said the prayers and songs in Armenian.  
 
 
At the service was Michael Stephen, one of the last Armenians who lived in Chennai, whose great grandparents came to India in 1810. Michael was a caretaker at the Armenian Church from 1994 to 2004, after which he moved to Kolkatta and then to Bengaluru, where he is now settled with his family. “It was a blessing to have served at the church for 10 years. Attending this service was simply delightful. I’m glad that the priest has agreed to do this every year,” said Michael.  


The church was initially built on a cemetery, and has buried the souls of 350 Armenians in its space. A small building next to the bell tower, which used to be a mortuary earlier, is the parish office today. “The last burial was done in 1855. After that we were given a place near the Central Railway Station” he said.The bell tower is said to be the only church in south India to have six bells. Each bell is a different size and weighs up to 150 kg. One of them has inscriptions in Tamil.  
  
Susan Reuben, warden, Armenian church, Kolkatta, attended the service. She said, “I was here last year too and it feels good to be back. It’s important to retain our culture.” 
 
 By Thushara Ann Mathew

http://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/chennai/2018/feb/06/chennais-armenian-culture-set-in-stone-since-16th-century-1769390.html 


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MessagePosté le: Mer 7 Fév 2018 - 09:34
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The bells toll again: Chennai revives its Armenian link with annual church service



Once a flourishing community in the city, Chennai now only houses six Armenians.

BY Anjana Shekar

https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/croc-42-years-later-madras-crocodile-bank-ocean-cool-reptiles-76015


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MessagePosté le: Mar 20 Fév 2018 - 11:23
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British-Armenian era checks out

Fairlawn hotel sold to Oberois



Jennifer Ann Fowler with her son David at Fairlawn Hotel in Calcutta. Picture by Pradip Sanyal

Calcutta: Fairlawn Hotel, the 235-year-old colonial structure where the late actor Shashi Kapoor spent his honeymoon with Jennifer Kendal in July 1958, has been sold.

Elgin Hotel & Resorts, which is owned by the Oberois, has bought the hotel, and it marks the exit of the last British-Armenian hotel owner in Calcutta.

Jennifer Ann Fowler, the 70-year-old, third-generation owner of the property that was originally built in 1783 by William Ford, will leave India for good with her son David and daughter Catherine on Tuesday. She wrapped up all the legal formalities and completed the handover at the weekend.

The family was forced to contemplate a sale after Violet Smith, Jennifer's mother who stayed in the city and managed the property till 2014, died at the age of 94.

"I am settled in the UK and it is becoming increasingly difficult to manage the property from there even though I used to come three times a year. This is an old building that needs mending and for that you must have time, energy and finance," Fowler said with her son David by her side.

The hotel has played host to writers like Günter Grass, Dominique Lapierre and Tom Stoppard, actors ranging from Julie Christie to Patrick Swayze, movie producer Ismail Merchant and director James Ivory, and Sting, the musician.

Fowler wistfully recalled the time when the area around the hotel used to be filled by Armenian and Jewish families who started to leave the city over the years. Several hotels such as Kenilworth, which was also owned by overseas owners, had changed hands when the owners found it hard to cope with the stress and strain of a declining work culture and the rise in red tape.

The 18-room property on Sudder Street had changed hands many times over the past two centuries but it always remained out of bounds for an Indian owner.
Brij Raj 'Diamond' Oberoi, managing director of Elgin Hotels & Resorts, said his job would be to maintain the heritage of the property in all respects.

"This is what we have done to our properties in north Bengal and Sikkim. The idea is to improve the infrastructure to a star level without compromising on its heritage tag," said Oberoi, who plans to rename it as Fairlawn Elgin.

Neither Oberoi, who is the cousin of P.R.S. Oberoi of the eponymous Oberoi Hotels fame, nor Fowler was ready to share the financial details of the transaction.

Oberoi said that it would take at least two years to refurbish the two-storey property that stands on a nearly one-acre plot.

Fowler's grandparents Menas and Rosie Sarkies - an Armenian family that fled their country in 1917 after a Turkish invasion - settled in Calcutta where they traded in jute before taking over Fairlawn, which used to be run as a boarding house.

The Sarkies turned it into a hotel that passed on to Violet Smith who married Ted, a Briton. However, during World War II, it was relinquished for the Canadian Air Force for two years and became known as Canada House.

The big guns of Hollywood may have stayed at the hotel but it's the romance of Shashi Kapoor and Jennifer Kendal from which it draws its charm and joie de vivre.

Kapoor always stayed at the same suite, room No. 17, whenever he came to Calcutta. The love affair had blossomed when Kapoor joined the Kendal family's Shakespearana drama troupe in the fifties. The Kendal family had always stayed at Fairlawn.

Asked what he planned to do with the room, Viraj Oberoi, Brij Raj's son, said: "We will retain it as the Shashi Kapoor Suite."

Jennifer Ann Fowler nodded. "Hopefully I will come back when the refurbishment is done to see its new avatar," she added.

Sambit Saha

https://www.telegraphindia.com/india/british-armenian-era-checks-out-210010


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