off the record

Controversy never seems to leave the National Award, and more often than not, lobbying, favouritism and pliable jury members are things that are spoken louder than a whisper. What Pachauri has said is one more pointer to it. Though I&B Minister Ambika Soni would like to wash her hands off it, Pachauri’s comments were enough to shame those who made the calls, filmmakers who believe that only their work should talk are of the opinion that the government must attend to the disease aggressively.
One filmmaker who makes films in a regional language with small budgets says that the process should be made transparent to avoid any abuse.
His prescription: publicise the names and qualifications of members as soon as a jury is constituted so that people can judge how many of them are worthy of being there, ask all jury members to report in writing any such soliciting calls, and blacklist all such callers from entering their films in the National Awards.
His argument: The government keeps the jury list secret, which seems to imply that it is not confident about their integrity in the face of such lobbying calls. And in these days of cellphone tracking, it should not be difficult for the I&B ministry to trace who makes such calls, and once that is done and names made public, nobody would dare to call up again.
Utpal Borpujari, New Delhi

‘Duronto’ for Republic Day
For this Republic Day parade, the railway ministry initially proposed a replica of the 1974 steam engine model ‘Shahanshah’ for the tableau. It was approved by an expert panel of the defence ministry also.
Suddenly, with little time left for preparations, the railways decided to modify its tableau and wanted to add a Duronto Express — a pet train launched by Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee last year — coach. But the defence ministry opposed it, saying it cleared the tableau three months back and any last minute changes would not be allowed. The railway ministry stood its ground, saying it wanted to showcase Duronto at any cost.
Finally, after much deliberation, the defence ministry relented and agreed to modify, exclusively for the railway ministry. ‘Didi’ would be beaming when her pet train passes on Rajpath on Republic Day.Ajith Athrady, New DelhiShotgun fires fresh salvo
“Shatrughan Sinha ko gussa kyon aata hai?” Days after Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar said that the Bihari Babu was behaving like a rank opportunist, Shotgun has hit back at the JD(U) strongman. “What does he mean? Have I asked for a ration shop?”
Actually, the war of words began between the two NDA stalwarts when Shatrughan lamented recently that his multi-crore Film City project in Bihar had been gathering dust since 2006, “yet the Nitish regime claims that proposals worth thousands of crores had been approved for investment in the state.”

Nitish, who had helped the actor-turned-politician win the Patna Saheb Lok Sabha election against Congress’ Shekhar Suman in 2009, mocked at Shatrughan’s latest outburst. “Now that his purpose has been served, he does not recognise me,” Nitish remarked.

Not prepared to take things lying down, Shotgun shot back, “Mere jugglery of figures about GDP growth rate won’t bring prosperity to Bihar. We have to be careful about ‘Bihar shining’ propaganda. Or else, our fate will be doomed in a similar fashion as it happened in 2004 when ‘India Shining’ slogan took the wind out of our sails.”

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