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Tribal influencers fight everything from Covid to child labour with cellphones

The art of showcasing talent online and influencing audiences is a common phenomenon now. But Arjun Pawara is not your typical Internet star. The 32-year-old is a founding member of Aadiwasi Janjagruti — a network of 45 tribal youths across 200 villages in the interiors of Maharashtra ’s Nandurbar district — using just their mobile phones and the power of hyperlocal news to script, enact, shoot, edit and upload sketches, short films and documentaries that enable a two-way flow of information between communities and local authorities.

Netas go on pre-poll ribbon cutting spree at jab centres

Wielding a pair of scissors, an MP from the city is in the middle of a weeklong jaunt across vaccine centres. One morning at Kurla, the next day in Vile Parle and the day after, in Chandivali congratulating the “corporator & all party karyakartas working hard to help people.” All the while, trailed by an army of aides, a photographer to capture the moments and an audience of vaccine aspirants queued up. There will be relief. But first, let there be a ribbon to cut.

How Japanese forest therapy transformed Mumbai's green cover

A canopy of kanchan, karanj, neem, jamun and palash trees casting a 20-feet high shade on the Central Railside Warehouse is barely reminiscent of the cement bags, construction debris and toxic air particles that once defined this corner of a massive cement storage facility in Jogeshwari until even a year ago. Hemmed in by concrete chaos and smoke-belching motor vehicles zooming past its busy roads, the dusty wasteland is now a foliage-rich micro forest.

In Bollywood, women get screen time but very little talk time

The year 2020 wrapped up what you might call a good decade for women in Bollywood with many steely, witty, sharp, cute, fun and badass female characters in leading roles. It felt like the narrative was changing, and women had become more than accessories. However, research tracking speaking parts in the world’s biggest movie-making industry reveals that in the biggest pan-national box-office hits from the past five years — on an average, “women have less than a third of the dialogue". In other words, men significantly out-talk the women.

Vaccine FOMO makes India’s seniors give it their best shot

Country legend Dolly Parton who recently broke into a version of Jolene that went — ‘Vaccine, vaccine , vaccine, vaccine/ I’m begging of you please don’t hesitate/ Because once you’re dead, then that’s a bit too late’ — would be proud of her contemporaries in India. Contrary to the stereotypes of elderly people — wary, slow-of-gait and particularly vulnerable to misinformation about the vaccine — what emerged was a reverse of the depressing story one might have expected.

Religion meets feminism with women qazis and pandits defying male-only tradition

The name Sheela Atta made headlines last month after a Bollywood actor invited the veteran woman purohit from south India to officiate at her wedding ceremony. Women breaking into the male bastion of priesthood and challenging patriarchy aren’t new, but a wider acceptance is. With more young adults swapping sexist rituals with forward-thinking options, an increasing number of people are actively seeking out women priests as they are known to display “a higher degree of emotional intelligence”.

Century-old Marathi-Hebrew kirtans get revived in Mumbai

At sundown this Thursday, if synagogues in the city are allowed its two-day celebrations for Purim — a festival commemorating the salvation of Jews in the Persian Empire — apart from time-honoured rituals of children and adventurous adults screaming and stomping their feet to scare away the evil Haman during readings from the ‘Megillah’, the congregation will witness a slice of Marathi Jewish history brought alive through ancient sounds of Bene Israel kirtans.

This unique collection of foreign posters tells the global story of Indian cinema

It seems, time travel to an alternate universe may in fact be possible. Only that the time machine isn’t a spinning wheel that disappears in a puff of smoke but comes in the shape of Indian film posters where a Govinda potboiler Gareebon ka Dost inhabits the world of Russian avant-garde, Raj Kapoor’s Jagte Raho finds expression in East German reductive art and Raju Ban Gaya Gentleman is a Japanese manga artist’s muse.
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