Sonali Desai

Archive for May, 2011|Monthly archive page

‘I am completely happy with my direction’

In Interviews on May 24, 2011 at 11:36 am

Actor and debutant director Ganesh, despite the many ups and downs in his career, is calm about everything. He speaks to Manju Shettar about his new movie Cool and his passion for cinema.

Manju Shettar

For someone who is surprisingly relaxed despite the many controversies that plague his career, the title of Ganesh’s latest is movie couldn’t be more apt. The actor-filmmaker has a lot of hopes for Cool, his second home production despite skepticism in the industry about its box office potential. Gandhinagar believes that Ganesh’s recent movies failed at the box office because of the many controversies he got entangled in. But the actor himself strikes an optimistic note when he says, “Controversies are natural when you are a celebrity. But I believe in good scripts and I have enjoying whatever I have been doing so far.”

Excerpts from the interview:

You have a put a year’s effort into Cool. How has the response been so far?

So far the collection and the public’s opinion about the screenplay is good despite the fact that there were many IPL matches during the first week of its release. I think my movie ‘Cool’ is a refreshing break this summer and audiences are enjoying it.

Are you happy with your debut direction after watching it on screen?

Yes. I am completely happy with my direction. As everyone knows, I had decided to direct a movie only after 10 years but it just happened unexpectedly. I think I have done my job properly.

What do you have to say about the reviews, which have been mostly negative?

I have seen mixed responses and reviews about the movie but I don’t have any comment on them because it is their view. But while making the movie I had revealed that it is not centred entirely on the story. But the screenplay is prominent, and also completely entertaining.

What do you enjoy more, acting or direction?

I enjoy both because both are equally challenging jobs.

Diirector Mussanje Mahesh was supposed to direct the movie initially. Did you wish to change anything about screenplay when you decided to direct or even later, after watching it on screen?

No. I didn’t think so because it seemed to me that everything was fine including the technical work. And once a movie is released, I never think about it again.

Are you thinking of directing another movie?

I am committed to the three forthcoming movies in which I’m acting, but the script work is going on for my new direction, which will be shot next year.

According to a survey, it’s mostly young girls that like your movies. Is this true?

I don’t think so (laughs)! I have seen all kind of audiences and when I visit colleges in the city, I find that both male and female students like my movies.

Sandalwood insiders say that you are getting less offers compared to other actors because your remuneration is too high…

I don’t believe it. People in Sandalwood know very well about me and how I’m busy with my projects.

Both your home banner productions Maleyali Jotheyali and Cool had heroines from outside. Don’t you believe in encouraging local talent?

It was the choice of directors and depends on the needs of the script. Of course, I personally believe there is talent here but when we need them they are usually busy.  Being a Kannada filmmaker, I prefer Kannada actresses who can speak the language well.

Sometimes, celebrities use controversies as publicity stunts. What is your view on this?

I don’t want to identify myself through such cheap gimmicks. I always want to be far from these controversies and I don’t need them in any way. No celebrity is non-controversial, but I see it as a part of my job”.


Where there is a will, there is a lake

In News on May 24, 2011 at 11:06 am

A determined Residents Welfare Association in LB Shastri Nagar refuses to give up their fight for the Vibhutipura Lake, despite three years of bureaucratic hurdles

Sarmistha Acharya

Work has finally begun to save the Vibhutipura Lake. Uthkarsh residents welfare association of LB Shastri Nagar has been working tirelessly to make this happen, for the past three years.

The Vibhutipura lake located at LB Shastri Nagar was once a beautiful water body and home to a large number of migratory birds. The lake now resembles a sump with sewage water draining into it and weeds covering a large portion of its surface. Residents living in the surrounding areas have had to face several problems because of its neglect.

According to Manish Choudhury, coordinator of Uthkarsh Residents Welfare Association, the Vibhutipura Lake has become a dead lake with few patches of water and the rest of the surface covered with weeds. There is an inescapable stench from the lake, he says, and mosquitoes breed in it. He says that sewage water in the lake percolates into the ground and therefore borewells in this area do not have potable water. “Nitrate content in it is very high,” he says.

Members of the RWA say that some of the buildings around the lake have no sewage treatment plants and therefore, their untreated sewage water goes to the storm water drains which finally pour into the lake.

“Earlier people used to drink water directly from their taps by doing a basic filtering process. But, now due to the contamination of bore well water, everyone makes sure that they drink water from water purifiers,” says Shubha Srinivasan, one of the members of the RWA.

Shubha says that usually people living around a lake, within a radius of five kilometres, face no water shortage. “But the residents here have been dealing with severe water scarcity for the past two years. The lake has dried up.”  Today the borewells here reach deeper. “Earlier people used to get water after digging up to a certain level but at present they find water even after digging up to 600 or 1000 ft,” she says.

Nikhil Lad, another member of the RWA, says that ten percent of the lake area, which was initially about 43 acres, has been encroached. “Most of the encroachment is towards the western and southern parts. About 14 buildings, including shops and private residences have come on these encroached areas.”

The RWA says that the lake was earlier under the jurisdiction of forest department of Karnataka. To save encroachment on one side (where there are apartments) of the lake and build a park on the same bed area of the lake, the members had approached the forest department. Shubha says that the then reserve forest officer said that the department can only help the residents for the construction of a park if the residents can fund the project.

A determined RWA began work anyway. In the year 2008 December, one side of the lake area was cleaned up and saplings were planted and a park was built to protect the lake area from further encroachment by the RWA with the help of the forest department.

In the beginning of the year 2010, the fund was about to be sanctioned by the central government for developing the lake, says Shubha. Then, unfortunately, the BBMP took over the charge of Vibhutipura Lake and the work was abruptly stopped. “There was a signing campaign organised by the RWA after the BBMP took charge of the lake and about 200 people signed in the form which was later on given to Deputy Commissioner, urban, V Balasubramanian,” says Shubha. “On March 27, 2011, I met Balasubramanian in person and immediately after that he had sent a letter to the BBMP to take action by April 10 on the development work of the lake. But it’s been more than a month after that and no action has been taken yet by the authority,” she says.

According to BV Satish, chief engineer of lake, BBMP said that the identification of the government land has to be fixed by Tahsildar. Also they have to finalise the survey report after which any work on the lake can be done. “The work can’t be done until and unless the Tahsildar marks out the area of the lake,” says Satish.

Nikhil says that the MLA Nandish Reddy had already released a fund of Rs 30 lakh in 2009 for developing the lake but the fund was lapsed within one year since the boundary of the lake was not marked and therefore no work was done on it. He says that to mark the boundary a survey had been conducted by BBMP and the Tahsildar, separately, and both the reports are almost similar. “But the final survey report that has to be done by the Tahasildar is not yet complete since he doesn’t have the land records (tippani) of the areas which are adjacent to the south side of the lake. And the concerned area Tahasildar said that he can’t release the approved map for developing the lake until and unless the deputy director of land records (DDLR) endorses the survey,” says Nikhil.

But, according to the Tahasildar, a survey has already been conducted a survey last week and the DDLR has prepared the the land records. “We worked for 15 days on the survey report, we are now marking out the buildings that have encroached the lake. We have listed the encroachers and the work is in process,” says Shivakumar CL, Tahasildar LB Shastrinagar.

Issue 29

In Editions on May 24, 2011 at 11:06 am


Sensational murders by spouses and growing general mistrust have parents of would-be brides in the city engaging detectives to do background checks on future husbands, reports Chetana Belagere

Several instances of murder, involving a spouse taking the life of a partner, that have grabbed headlines recently in the city is one among many factors forcing families of young girls to engage private detective agencies to do background checks on their fiances. Several detective firms in the city revealed that they are inundated with requests asking to spy on would-be husbands before they tie the knot.

May, June and July being the marriage season in Bengaluru, it is definitely a  busy season for us, says Mahendra of Private Eye detective services. Traditionally many families would arrange marriages but now that many youngsters meet their future partners on the internet, at their workplaces, colleges and even malls, they increasingly do not want to take any chances about their spouses, he adds.

Girls take the lead

This year especially, cases like the murder of Israeli national Farha Tamara by her married yoga instructor lover and the gym instructor who murdered his rival’s wife and other similar incidents seem to have shaken up youngsters in the city, who earlier would have blindly agreed for their weddings. “Nowadays, the groom’s past is very important for a girl and her family. We receive at least five calls a week requesting us to do background checks on boys. They want the entire background of the boy and even details of their family rivals!” says Sundaresh N of Red Eye detective services.

Earlier, it was mainly boyfriends who would engage private detectives to spy on their girlfriends but agencies say the trend has now reversed, and it is mostly the girls and their parents, particularly in the upper middleclass, that are requesting such checks.

Some private investigators point to a related trend, that of the increasing number of young Indian girls chatting with Indian men who live abroad in places such as the UK. Likewise, Indian women living in the UK have also used the internet to find potential husbands back in India. It is not uncommon for either party to engage private detectives to check on the backgrounds of potential partners. The UK has a significant Indian community and even in that country, it is fairly common for Indian men and women to engage detectives to do background checks, usually under pressure from their parents.

Ridiculous requests

Meanwhile, Eagle Eye Detectives proprietor Rajesh says that some clients can take their concern over their children’s future to ridiculous extremes. “One family who contacted us recently didn’t like their daughter’s boyfriend but we looked into his background and found that he was okay and came out clean,” says Rajesh. “But that wasn’t good enough for them. They wanted us to frame him by setting him up with another girl. When we refused, they did it themselves.”

In another case, Rajesh says he found proof of a groom-to-be’s philandering. “I took it to the girl’s family and they said, ‘No, no, no, we don’t care about that. We hired you to find out if his family has as much money as they say they do,’” Rajesh says. “Even the girl wasn’t really shocked by what we found.”

Jeesha Rao, a software firm manager who is getting married this June, told City Buzz, “I do not care what he would think if he gets to know I spied on him. I want to ensure that his background and past is clean. I don’t want to mess up my life after marriage. On this, my parents are convinced too.”

‘Appearances deceptive’

Sudipta Chandrashekar, who runs her own detective agency Trust Checked which specialises in matrimonial and related investigations,  says she can catch the liars like that. After all, she has had plenty of experience followed them through the mildewed mazes of Bengaluru’s middle-class neighborhoods, and photographing them as they leave their lovers’ apartments. She has heard them exaggerate their salaries and hide their illnesses.

Sudipta has spent years honing her skills: disguise, surveillance, misdirection. She claims that with just a few minutes’ notice, she can deploy teams nearly anywhere across the country. “Today, there’s a need to check if people are telling the truth. And that is where we get involved,” Sudipta says. “Does that boy really have an education? Is he really earning that big salary? Is that boy or girl running around with someone else? Does he have any rivalry with anyone in the past? Any past flings which can be dangerous to the future wife? These are some of the questions we tackle.”

A groom-to-be might seem like a nice young man. He might come from a good family. But nearly two decades running her own agency has taught Sudipta how little that can mean. So she spells out a warning: “You don’t know what that boy is doing with his time.”

Booming business

The detectives, though, are more than ready to find out.

“Earlier, we were only a luxury for someone who had a lot of money,” says Sudipta’s secretary John James, a tough-talking 45-year-old, adding that only one-third of their business used to be about premarital investigations. “Now, every family wants to know the maximum.” According to insiders like James, especially after series of murders involving spouses many are scared to blindly believe even the person he/she has been in love with for many years.

Mahendra Mishra, father of a young techie who is preparing to get married in August, says, “We are not worried about the cost but we want to know that our daughter is in safe hands. Though ours is going to be an arranged marriage we do not want to take any risks. So, we have asked Ms Sudipta for detective services. We do not regret it as we will be happy if our son in law comes clean.”

Professional operation

The costs of basic detective services range from Rs 5000 to Rs 15000. If someone wants a detailed history of the person with pictures and other proof then it would cost them not less than Rs 50,000 to Rs 1 lakh.

Explaining their method, James says, “We start with the house: How many people live there, whether the property is owned or rented, if the subject in question is married or has been engaged before. We talk to drivers, neighbours, neighbours’ drivers, maidservants, gardeners, the people who come for the laundry, all of them.”

Insiders say that surprisingly, it’s often the parents themselves who come with the request to do checks on their future sons-in-law; the reason why of late a full-fledged industry of matrimonial investigation has sprung up across the country. Interestingly, detectives are even asked to check the psychological nature of the boy. Whether he can get aggressive at situations? Is he the suspicious types? Will he be able to handle any kind of financial crash or depression etc? These are just some of the questions parents have.

As anxious parents make a bee-line towards matrimonial investigation agencies, a profession that once lurked on the shadowy fringes of society has moved quietly into the mainstream.

The murderous spouse

2003 Shubha Shankarnarayan, a law student, in cahoots with her parmour Arun Verma, killed her fiance B V Girish near Koramangala Ring Road. She was recently convicted of the crime.

2008 Lakshmi, a newly married techie, was allegedly killed by her husband Manoj who was in love with his colleague.

2009 Honey Mary and her husband Umesh had moved into their new residence in Banaswadi. Honey, who hatched the plot to marry her lover Bipin, tried to stage it as a robbery.

2010 DPS teacher Priyanka Gupta was found murdered in her residence. Her husband Satish Gupta, a HR executive of Infosys who spun an elaborate tale for his alibi, later confessed to the crime.

2010 B Malarvalli, a former techie, was murdered by her spurned admirer T Naveen for marrying another.

2010 The recent murder of Dell employee Payal Surekha is still being investigated. The police suspect the role of her husband Anantha Narayan Mishra in the murder.

2011: 28-year-old Israeli woman Farha Tamara was murdered by her lover Lokesh Chandra Das as he was in love with her and on the other hand he was married already and had two children.

Classmates Inc.

In Features on May 24, 2011 at 10:51 am

This meeting of National College alumni was no run-of-the-mill get together  – they discussed business and even did a little charity too

Sonali Desai

‘No time,’ is usually the excuse you give when an old friend from college invites you for a get together, if only because you thought alumni meets are all about partying. Not so for former students of National College in Basavanagudi, who have come together with the intention of not only renewing friendships and update themselves on each other’s whereabouts but also exchange ideas on setting up businesses on their own and also do some charity by the side. This was the agenda at the alumni meet organised by the 2001 batch of National College on May 15, which was attended by around 45 former graduates.

The meet kickstarted with interaction sessions and introduction of former students where each one updated others on their professional and personal status. This was followed by a round of games like passing the parcel, dumb charades and musical chairs, which they played for more than an hour. At around 12 noon, the lecturers walked in and graced the meet, only to be overwhelmed by the arrangements made.

It was Harish KL who took the initiative to organise the meet, with help from six other alumni. While many of them were in touch with each other through Facebook and emails, the organising team had to trace the other classmates who they were not in touch with. “This was quite a task and we have been preparing for this meet for a month now,” said Rashmi Belligundu.

Harish explains that he did not want this meet to be just a get together. “This Alumni meet was a forum for likeminded people to start new businesses and also do some charity. Since we know each other from childhood, we can trust each other in business. We also got an opportunity to get in touch with those whom we were not that close as students. We will be soon starting a website or a group where we will have all the information of our batchmates and their projects,” he says.
One of the alumni who attended the meet, Padmashree, who works at Sonata Software, said she was deeply touched by the meet. “I had a great time here and got to know what my classmates are doing and how the college has developed. I relived my weekend memories at this alumni meet,” she said.

Speaking about the group’s charitable activities, she added, “The lecturers have inculcated good values in us, so we thought we should give back to the college in our own way, and that is what we have done by donating Rs 5000 each to the National College Education Society.”

Talking about how they had to prepare for the Alumni meet, Rashmi said, “We met after 10 long years and it was a great experience to relive the college memories. Everyone particularly enjoyed the games because it also helped us befriend many classmates whom we did not know that well.”

Some, like Hemanth Kumar K who works for iGate Patni in Mumbai came down to Bengaluru only to attend the meet. “It was a wonderful feeling coming back to college after 10 years and I think it’s one of the best days of my life. Best thing about the meet was we all went back to our college days through interesting games and activities and got to meet most of our classmates and lecturers,” he said.

Prof. HK Moulesh who teaches Sociology in National College said he was grateful to the students who arranged this get together, and remarked that the alumni have always been a great support to the College. “We do not charge any capitation fee and the question of how to run the College is always answered by such alumni, who contribute to the society in their own way. For example, Dr Sadananda who started MTR foods is a former student of National College; he has not only donated Rs 10 crores for the Jayanagar campus but also Rs 80 lakh for the multimedia auditorium. We will be using donations made by our alumni, to help educate the rural poor.”

All in all, it was a good example of how you can get work done even do a bit of good while having fun and renewing friendships; an example others would do well to emulate.

‘I guess filmmaking runs in my DNA’

In Interviews on May 23, 2011 at 11:51 am

Anand Alagappan travelled to the US from Chennai more than a decade ago to do his Masters in Computer Science. Today, he is better known as the director of the award-winning crossover film, Anything For You.

Sonali Desai

Having come from India with its tradition of joint families, relationships in the US intrigued Anand Alagappan, who was there to do his Masters in Computer Science from the University of Texas at Arlington. He decided to look deeper into the issue, and his enquiry, combined with his love of writing and cinematic narrative is what led to the film Anything For You, which was recently been given the prestigious Silver Ace Award at the Las Vegas Film Festival.

Anand’s film tells the story of an Indian-American doctor who is entangled in a love triangle between his wife and an American girl, who wants him at any cost. How the doctor gets out of this situation forms the main plot of the film that features Juliana Fine, Pooja Kumar and Sam Ghosh. Anything For You has been produced by New York Talkies (founded by Anand Alagappan, Ravi Gavva and Mahender Musuku). The film has an interesting cast and crew that comprise of both Indians and Americans. The lead actors of the film are Sam Ghosh, Juliana Fine, Pooja Kumar and Aaron Mathias. Karthik Raja, (South India music legend Ilayaraja’s son) has scored music for the film while Alphonse Roy is the Director of Photography.

Anand talked to City Buzz about his passion for writing filmmaking and politics. Excerpts from the interview:

You are from Chennai. Take us back to your school and college days; did you ever dream of becoming a filmmaker then?
My friends now tell me that they thought even though I used to keep talking about film making I would never pursue it. Now they are surprised with my perseverance and patience and are really happy for me. They were a good support always, encouraging since the days I did the TV show We Love India, then in the journey to short films and now feature films.

What do your parents say about your film making career?
Parents initially had reservations but when they saw me on TV hosting We Love India episodes for 14 weeks, they thought it’s not a hobby but he’s going fulltime and serious. They are fine now since they have seen my work.

You are an engineer by profession, how did you develop an interest for cinematic narration?
I started writing initially when I went to do my Masters in USA. America was fascinating in all aspects and it got me into writing journals and personal diaries. One of my friends who read it said that I write really well with a lot of imagination and that I should put it into a visual format and see. That’s how it all started.

Tell us more about your five minute short-film No Exit which was screened at many film festivals.
The short film No Exit was again from my personal experience of waiting for customer service forever. One such time, I thought why not write a comedy while waiting for them. It connected very well with audience, most of whom went through the nightmare every day. They laughed all through the way while watching.

When did you start working on Anything For You and how was the experience?
I had written the screenplay for Anything For You and kept writing more stuff. One of my friends who accidentally read it liked it a lot and without wasting time wanted to bring it on screen.

Your movie talks about love and relationships. Do you relate yourself to any of the characters in the movie?
Love and relationships is an aspect that every human being has experienced. How we handle it makes our lives happy and sad. Not only me, all of us can relate to it.

How did you come up with the name for the film?
I stared writing the screenplay without having a title in mind and as the story developed the characters spoke lines like “I love you and I’ll do anything for you.” That’s when I thought, why not keep the title as Anything For You.

What are the challenges you faced during the making of Anything For You?
The whole experience from writing, raising funds and finding a distributor was very challenging. But the quality of the product made these challenges and hard work worth it success and I should thank everyone involved with the film. At the end of the day, film making is a team effort.

How did you enjoy filming with the RED Camera?
RED was a great boon to independent filmmakers, putting them on par with established filmmakers. The quality is amazing given the low amounts involved in owning or renting the camera.

How has the audience responded to your film?
The audience in US, without any exaggeration, loved it. The liked the spiritual element attached to the story. We all are bound by relationships and people found how complicated and interesting relationships can be.

Who are your inspirations when it comes to filmmaking?
Akira Kurasawa, Satyajit Ray, Zhang Yimou and Ridley Scott.

Apart from writing and filmmaking, what else interests you?
I guess as an Indian filmmaking runs in my DNA. I’m a big dreamer and I put all my thoughts, dreams, and experience into writing. Other than writing I watch lot of international cinema and am interested in Indian and global politics for I believe if politics lost everything is lost. It is also a way of giving back something to society. I also watch sports; especially cricket and basketball.

What are your future plans?
My future plan is to keep making movies and may be get into active politics at some point in time.

Herbal gardens for urban homes

In Features on May 23, 2011 at 11:37 am

Amruth Home Garden is about a simple but innovative idea – to offer customised packages of medicinal plants for urban homes – that has proved to be a tremendous success

Radhika Vitla

All city-dwellers would have dreamed of having their own small home garden at least once; if they don’t have one already. But stop short of actually creating one because of the sheer effort and space constraints involved. This is exactly what the Institution of Aurveda and Integrative Medicine (I-AIM), located at Jarakabande Kaval, near Attur in the outskirts of Bengaluru, seeks to tackle.

For over five years, they have been successfully running the Amruth Home Garden programme, which offers ‘plant packages’ (mostly herbs and medicinal plants) that can be grown within the confines of apartments, and allows people to benefit from exposure to their medicinal qualities.

Amruth Herbal Garden draws its strength from our old age healing traditions, espousing the mantra ‘People’s health in people’s hand.’ For generations, Indians have been using plants around them for their day-to-day medicinal needs, a tradition that has been almost totally lost as people are forced to seek help from medical experts and hospitals for even the slightest of health problems, because of their life style and other limitations. It was to keep this tradition alive and to bring these plants into the urban household and establish a relationship between them and people that I-AIM (originally called Foundation for Revitalisation of Local Health Tradition) started the Amruth Home Garden packages.

Launched in 2005, the Amruth Home Garden is a unique garden which has been aesthetically landscaped exclusively with medicinal plants. Several theme based demonstration plots have been established in the I-AIM premises using around 950 native species ranging from grasses to trees. There are also some rare species that have been collected from distant parts of the country. The varied packages include Skin and Hair Care to Women’s Health, Child Care Package and Old Age Package, apart from Stress Reliver Package and Metabolism Package, each of them varying in price ranges and species. I-AIM has also been undertaking institutional garden setup orders too from all over India.

Ganesh Babu, Senior Research Officer at I-AIM told City Buzz, “Nearly 10,000 people in the city have adopted these packages in their homes and benefitted from its use in their daily life. In cities, even for small problems we run for the hospital to get the medicine. If we grow the plants like tTulsi, Brahmi, Ondelaga, Aloe vera, Adusoge, Shatavari, Nelanelli, Dodda pathre or Garike, we can use it for our basic health needs. We can grow them in small spaces like balconies, window sills or in spacious terraces in pots. Some are ornamental too which gives a fresh green look and lung space to our house.”

For those who desire to set up a garden at home, Amruth Home Garden first assesses the space available at their homes, and also makes inquiries about the frequent health problems in the family, if any. For example, if there is a diabetic in their house, they are advised to choose a customised Diabetes package. If the customers are techies, they suggest Stress Relievers Package, if they have kids at home they suggest the Child Care Package, and so on.

Each package has different types of plants which are useful for curing and preventing diseases, including some that can support daily usage for general healthcare. For example, the Hair Care package consists of Hibiscus, Rosa-sinesis, Eclipta Alba, Acacia Sinuta and the Phyllanthus Emblica species. Lolesara (Aloevera) is beneficial for treating cuts, wounds, burns, eye problems, scanty urination, stomach ache, menstrual disorders etc. Adusoge (Adhatoda Vasica) is recommended for cough, respiratory problems, fever, bleeding disorders. Moringa Oleifera (Nugge) is for stomach ache, worms, fungal infections, Asparagus Racemosus (Shatavari) is for scanty breast milk, acidity, burning feet, hoarse throat, menstrual disorder and general immunity, Phyllanthus amarus (Nelanelli) is for liver tonic, Gymnema syvestre (Madhunashini) is for fever, diabetes and cough, Cynodon Dactylon ( Garike hullu) is for cuts and wounds, scabies, vomiting and menstrual problems etc.

Amruth Home Garden provides a variety of 7 to 40 selected healing plants in various packages to cater to the primary health care needs. These plants have been selected very carefully keeping in view of their medicinal value, ornamental value, ease of growing, maintenance, ease of use, safety and efficacy. These do not have a large space can still benefit from the rejuvenating value, colour and flavor of these plants by efficiently utilising the available nooks and corners of the house.

According to Amruth officials, these plants can take care of more than 20 primary health care problems. They say that these plants also promote good health and help in preventing the occurrence of diseases in the long term. But they are careful to point out that these packages are not intended to cure complex and chronic ailments that need professional medical advice.

Surprisingly, these various packages of medicinal plants selected to suit the requirements of houses and public and private institutions, organizations and parks, are available at nominal costs. Their range starts from Rs 200 per package and goes up to Rs 4000, depending on the needs of the subscriber. If people want Amruth staff to set up the garden in their home, it will incur an additional charges. If the customers want their own selected plants, they are free to do so and do not have to buy the packages. Those customers who buy a package, however, will get a free special user guide that contains detailed information about the identification, maintenance and the use of the plants for various ailments.

For more details contact: 28568000/ 01/ 04

Home Garden Packages 

 Complete Package – 21 species (30 plants) – 400 Rs

Advanced Package – 14 species (20 plants) – 300 Rs

Basic Package – 7 species (10 plants) – 200 Rs

Skin Care Package – 4 species (10 plants) – 200 Rs

Hair Care Package – 4 species (10 plants) – 200 Rs

Child Care Package – 4 species (10 plants) – 200 Rs

Revitalisers – 4 species (10 plants) – 200 Rs

Stress Relievers – 4 species (10 plants) – 200 Rs

Metabolism plus (for digestion) – 4 species (10 plants) – 200 Rs

Cough and Cold – 4 species (10 plants) – 200Rs

Women Health Package – 4 Species (10 plants) – 200 Rs

Old age Package – 4 Species (10 plants) – 200 Rs

Anti-Diabetic Package – 4 Species (10 plants) – 200 Rs

Institutional Garden Packages 

Complete Package – 40 species (350 plants) – 4,000 Rs

Advanced Package – 30 species (310 plants) – 3,500 Rs

Basic Package – 25 species (250 plants) – 3,000 Rs


What’s in the packages?

Aloevera (Lolesara),  Adhatoda Vasica  (Adusoge ), Hibiscus rosa sinensis (Dasavala), Ocimum sanctum (Tulasi), Bacopa Monnieri (Jala Brahmi), Piper longum (Hippali), Tinospora Cordifolia (Amruthaballi), Centella Asiatica (Ondelaga), Murraya Koenigii (Karibevu), Punica granatum (Dalimbe), Cymbopogon citrarus (Nimbehullu), Basella alba (Basale), Coleus Aromaticus (Doddapatre), Asparagus Racemosus (Shatavari), Lawsonia inermis (Goranti), Withania Somnifera (Ashwagandha), Moringa Oleifera (Nugge), Andrographis Paniculata (Nelabevu), Phyllanthus Amarus (Nelanelli), Gymnema sylvestre (Madhunashini), Cynodon dactylon (Garike Hullu), Azadirachta Indica (Bevu), Eclipta Alba (Bringaraja), Vetiveria zizanioides (Lavancha), Phyllanthus Emblica (Bettada Nelli), Ocium Basilicum (Kama Kasturi), Vetix Negundo (Lakki), Plumbago zeylanica (Chitramula), Ruta Graveolens (Nagadali), Souropus Androgynus (Chakramuni), Holarrhena pubescens (Beppale), Calotropis Gigantia –White (Bili Ekka), Aegele mamelos (Bilva), Ricinus communis (Haralu), Butea monosperma (Muthuga), Cassica Fistula (Kakke), Alstonia scholaris (Maddale), Terminalia Bellirica (Thaare), Terminalia Chebula (Alale), Acorus calamus (Baje).

Harmony day

In Features on May 23, 2011 at 11:32 am

The Harmonium Habba is fast emerging as one of the country’s leading events dedicated to a single instrument

Radhika Vitla

An entire academy dedicated to that humble musical instrument: the harmonium. Bijapure Harmonium Foundation is perhaps the world’s only such institution, and is the brainchild of Pt Ravindra Katoti, one of the best-known contemporary harmonium accompanists. It is named after his guru Pt Rambhau Bijapure, one of the leading harmonium accompanists of all time and a revered teacher of the Gayaki style of harmonium playing in Indian classical music.

Founded on May 4, 2003, Bijapure Harmonium Foundation is a dedicated forum that promotes the cause of the harmonium as a solo instrument. The foundation maintains a low-profile existence, but makes its presence felt in the musical world with the annual Harmonium Habba festival, the fifth edition of which will be held on June 12 at Seva Sadan in Malleshwaram.

The day-long festival celebrates Indian classical music and with a special focus on the harmonium. The first such festival was held in the year 2007, and the overwhelming response it received prompted Pt. Katoti to do the Habba every year.  According to him, the harmonium is the most commonly used instrument in classical music, but it is very rarely used as solo.

“It is a relatively unexplored instrument and many people have misunderstandings about it. So, it is to promote and explore exclusively in the field of the harmonium that I came up with the idea of starting this organisation,” said Pt Kakoti. He added that he was extremely happy by the reception accorded to a unique festival like Harmonium Habba. “People find it a peculiar event, and wait eagerly every year to attend the event. In the upcoming Harmonium Habba, we will be exploring choir music,” he pointed out.

Recalling his relationship with the great harmonium player and his involvement with the Foundation, Pt Kakoti further said, “As a guru, Pt. Bijapure was everything to me, and it is only because of him that I am here. When I told him that I wanted to register the organization after him, he did not allow me to do so initially. He was such a different personality, who did not want any publicity. Later, when I insisted strongly, he agreed to the idea, and even played the harmonium in the first three editions of Harmonium Habba. He also attended a dozen different events organised by the Harmonium Foundation. Those were some of the most delightful moments of my musical life.”

Pt. Rambhau Bijapure, a proficient accompanist who developed a unique style of accompaniment stamped with his unique identity, hardly needs any introduction in music circles. A versatile teacher, an accomplished music director and a great institution builder, his contributions over the past seven decades have been widely acknowledged by music lovers all over India. In his music career, he had accompanied almost all the leading vocalists of major gharanas of Hindustani classical music ranging from Pt Sawai Gandharva to Dr Gangubai Hanagal, Pt Bhimsen Joshi to Pt  Basavaraj Rajguru, Pt Mallikarjun Mansoor to Kumara Gandharva and many more. Around 10,000 students have been trained at the musical academy he founded, Sri Rama Sangeet Mahavidyalaya. He passed away on November 19, 2010.

Pt. Katoti himself an established accompanist who has received acclaim from many of the top performing vocalists and patrons of classical music. He has performed throughout India and abroad, both as a soloist and an accompanist. Like his guru, he too has accompanied many of the top ranking vocalists like Dr Gangubai Hanagal, Pt Bhimsen Joshi, Pt Jasaraj and others. Born in a family of music lovers, Ravindra Katoti started learning Hindustani classical harmonium at the age of eight. A disciple of Pt Bijapure, he has in turn taught many budding harmonium players, and his ‘Learn to Play Harmonium’ DVD is almost considered the Bhagavadgita for harmonium learners.

The Harmonium Foundation also received acclaim for bringing out three audio CDs featuring harmonium solo performances by Pt Bijapure, titled Meru, Mahameru-1 and Mahameru-2. The foundation has also produced a documentary about the life and work of Pt Bijapure. All this, apart from the Harmonium Habba, which has emerged as one of the country’s leading events dedicated to a single instrument.

Indiranagar residents want burial ground moved

In News, Uncategorized on May 23, 2011 at 11:27 am

A decades-old burial ground bang in the middle of an Indiranagar residential colony is leading to conflict between residents and nearby villagers

Sarmistha Acharya

Residents of HAL II Stage have been facing a strange problem. In spite of repeatedly writing to the concerned governing bodies asking them to shut down or shift a burial ground in the area, the Civic Amenity and Cultural Association of the Residents’ Welfare Association of HAL II stage is yet to get any response. Meanwhile, their problems multiply.

The burial ground is located at HAL II stage, 12th main, 8th cross, Indiranagar and spreads over an area of two acres.  The residents say that it is used by one community of Doopanahalli village and the people from the same community living in different surrounding areas too come to bury their dead in this burial ground. There are more then ten buildings located at the surrounding areas of the burial ground. But except three buildings, the owners of rest of the buildings had either rented their houses or given them for commercial purposes and moved out to some other places because they didn’t want to stay near the burial ground.

A resident, who wished to remain anonymous, said that usually the villagers get dead bodies everyday or once in two days to the burial ground and while getting the dead they make so much of noise which is a problem for the residents, especially the senior citizens staying in the nearby area. She also mentioned that villagers also get the dead at late hours of night.  “A person staying in the building which is opposite to the burial ground was a heart patient. He had to vacate the building because he could not sustain the humiliation,” she added.

Moreover the resident also mentioned that slumdwellers from the nearby areas come to defecate in the burial ground. “People start coming to the ground early in the morning and we have to keep our window close always because of the foul smell that comes,” she said.

According to her, though the burial ground creates several problems for the residents and makes it difficult for them to stay in the area, none of the residents complain openly. She says three years back a member of the Residents’ Welfare Association was beaten up and threatened by more then 100 people from Doopanahalli village for complaining about the burial ground and that had spread a fear among the residents for which they are afraid to complain. She also said that the local area corporator doesn’t take any action against the villagers because they serve as a vote bank for the politicians.

Meanwhile according to Sanjay G (name changed on request) says, “It is unfortunate that even after years of complaining,  the officials are not taking any step to solve this problem. We have invested a lion’s share of savings of our entire life in purchasing house here. What’s the use of this a home where you cannot be at peace even for a single day?”

When City Buzz contacted Geetha Sreenivas Reddy, the local area corporator of ward number 112, she said that the burial ground is still known as Doopanahalli burial ground and it has been there for ages, even before the residential layout itself was formed. “The entire area of HAL II stage was earlier Doopanahalli village, but few years back the layout was developed and people started building residences,” she added.

The Residents’ Welfare Association officials say that a site (BDA site number 3784) adjacent to the burial ground was allotted to a person who could not build his house because of the obstruction created by the Doopanahalli villagers and he surrendered the allotted area to BDA again and left the place nine years back.

An official told City Buzz that three years ago, the villagers of Doopanahalli village constructed a compound wall for the burial ground and encroached on the BDA site (site number-3784) and a year ago they constructed a house on the mentioned site. According to residents, people form the village used to gather at the premises and drink and make noise, although the practice seems to have stopped of late.

Another office-holder of the Indiranagar Resident’s Welfare Association, who, while wishing to remain anonymous, said that according to law there should not be any active burial ground in the midst of the residential areas. He moreover mentioned that according to the draft Master Plan – 2015 of the Bengaluru Development Authority, the burial ground site is for greenery but the villagers are still using it as a burial ground.

When City Buzz contacted BDA officials about the issue, they said that the area may be reserved for greenery but the villagers of Doopanahalli village have been using it for past 20 to 30 years. NG Chandrappa, assistant executive engineer, BDA who is in charge of Indiranagar area said, “BDA forms rules but the public sentiment is above all rules. One of the reasons which the villagers want their burial ground in the same place is because they are sentimentally attached to the area where members of their family and community are buried.”

Further, Chandrappa said that they have not received any letters from the association for the burial ground. “The Residents’ Welfare Association might have written letters to the governing bodies earlier, but in the last few years we have not received any complaint letters,” he said. According to the residents, they have appealed to the civic authorities on this issue for the last 20 years and after receiving no response they had stopped writing letters 10 years back.

The last word perhaps belongs to Geetha Sreenivas Reddy, the very same politician accused by the residents of playing votebank politics with issue. She says the shifting of burial ground is impossible because it’s been used by the people for ages and the ancestors were buried in the ground so the shifting may hurt the emotion of the villagers. But as if offering consolation, she adds, “If the residents have a problem then let them write to me, we will take necessary steps.”

Issue 28

In Editions on May 23, 2011 at 11:09 am


Frederick Roberts says he was assaulted and abandoned by his wife and family, and then slapped with a false domestic violence charge. Here, he tells his story to Sarmistha Acharya.

“Which law of the land can help me?” asks Fredrick Roberts and bursts into tears as he begins to narrate the harassments he is still going through fighting the domestic violence case his wife has filed against him. He claims it is a false case.

At 70 years, Frederick can’t even digest food properly. He has only steamed rice and curd for lunch and breakfast. With his all his health problems, he has to visit the court twice a month for the hearing of the case.

Frederick has been living alone for more than a year now, in a three-storey building in SK Garden, Benson Town, after his two daughters and his wife abandoned him on January 27 last year. He has hired no help fearing that servants may spread rumours about him and his family.

Frederick spends all his time in a room on the second floor of the building. He does not use the other rooms. “I get a strange smell whenever I go inside our bedroom,” he says. “I keep it locked. I haven’t gone inside since my family left.”

He asks if retired judges could help him out. “If there are any retired judges who want to help, kindly contact me.”

Nightmarish ordeal

On January 25, last year, two days before his family left, he says he was assaulted by his former tenant and his elder son-in-law in the presence of his wife and two daughters and two police constables.

“The bell rang and when I opened the door, there were two police constables, they pushed me into the room. One of our tenants, named Gnanadesigan hit me on my chest, I fell down and fainted. When I regained consciousness my elder son-in-law asked me to sign on a blind bond paper, the police constable also threatened me. After half an hour, the constables left the house but the door was still locked. Gnanadesigan hit me on the head and started kicking me everywhere. I screamed and called out the names of two of our neighbourers and they came and rescued me,” says Frederick.

Frederick was immediately hospitalised and on the very next day, he filed a complaint through the hospital authority in the JC Nagar Police station. But the police had not acknowledged the intimation. “I had given a written complaint on the very same day of my discharge from the hospital and Inspector Nagaraj of JC Nagar Police station didn’t acknowledge my assault complaint,” says Frederick.

Domestic violence charge

His wife, a retired banker who was with the UCO bank, had approached an NGO, and given a written complaint on March 23, 2010 charging Frederick with domestic violence. “The application was later on forwarded by her lawyer to the VIII Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate (VIII ACMM) on May 10, 2010,” says Frederick. He says that the report his wife filed lacks necessary information. “It does not have a shred of evidence, date and time of the incidents, names and addresses of witnesses, no FIR and no police charge sheets.”

When the case was filed, Frederick was 69 and his wife 59.

Frederick married in 1969 and after ten years, left to Saudi Arabia. He was working in Saudi Arabia as a banker with the Hong Kong Shanghai Bank (HSBC) for 23 years.

He has spent lakhs on his family, he says — Rs 17 lakhs for the MBA education of his elder daughter and Rs 3.7 lakh for her marriage; Rs 35 lakhs for the medical education of his younger daughter and Rs 5 lakhs for her marriage. His wife claims that he has contributed only 30 per cent to their children’s upbringing.

Frederick blames his wife for driving both his daughters away from him. He says that she told their children that he was married to someone else in Saudi Arabia and had neglected the family for 23 years. “My younger daughter told me ‘Daddy don’t forget that you neglected the family for 23 years and had a gala time in Saudi Arabia’.” Frederick claims that his wife had even offered a ‘supari’ for his killing for which he had approached the highest police officers.

Frederick’s wife has sought, through her report, Rs 50 lakhs compensation for beating and assaulting her, Rs 25,000 maintenance per month, Rs 15,000 rental per month and Rs 1,50,000 towards rental agreement.

Public mistreatment

He says that his wife started mistreating him a while ago, by harassing him in front of visitors and denying him food. This continued till a fight broke out between them on the second week of April, 2009 when he asked his wife about the confirmation of 19 gold rings and 180 grams of gold biscuits which he had handed over to his wife for the safe keeping in bank lockers. “She burst out and said that she had not received any such thing and used filthy language,” he says.

He claims that his wife destroyed his passport, his appointment letter and bank statements to prove that he never worked in Saudi Arabia.

“When I reacted, I got attacked,” he says. “Which institution will protect my rights,” he asks, adding, “all of them are for women.”

Wife responds

On the other hand, according to his wife (who does not want to be named), she does not want the situation to be publicised. “I am already 60 and he is 70. I have lived a wonderful life. A lot of things went wrong. I don’t want to comment anything now because it will reflect on my children and grand children,” she says.

Senior citizens, harassed husbands 
Stories of young men being harassed by their wives with false charges are often heard. But in the city, even the elderly, who are above 60, have to face such harassment.

According to Kumar V Jahgirdar, president of Children’s Rights Initiative for Shared Parenting (CRISP) and counsellor of Save Indian Families Foundation (SIFF), they have come across 25 such cases of false charges. Among these, he says, four or five cases are against husbands who are above 60. Most domestic violence cases filed against the elderly are false, he says.

He believes the law to be biased towards women and therefore it does not give protection to men. He says that the law is largely being misused by women.

‘She threw me out of my own house’

In a story that is eerily similar to that of Frederick Roberts, Aruldas Ambrose, is fighting a domestic violence case filed by his wife after 25 years of married life

Ambrose, who was married in the year 1983 and worked in Saudi Arabia for nearly three decades as a Human Resource executive, says that his wife filed a domestic violence case against him in December, 2008 on the false grounds of dowry harassment and extra marital affairs.

A resident of Koramangala, 56-year-old Ambrose is at present staying on the ground floor of his two storey building whereas his wife along with his daughter is staying on the first floor of the house. He says he was thrown out of his house and made to stay in the ground floor. “I bought the land myself but the only mistake I did was to buy it in my wife’s name, and thanks to that she has now thrown me out of my own house claiming that the property belongs to her,” Ambrose told City Buzz.

He added that in order to force him to leave the house, his wife had called the police and falsely accused him of violence. Ambrose also said that other than his daughter, none of his family – which also consists of his son and daughter-in-law, apart from his wife – comes to the ground floor where he stays.

Think visual, think different

In Features on May 12, 2011 at 11:05 am

Pencil Jam doesn’t promise to make an artist out of you – but they sure can teach you how to think visually

Sonali Desai

You too drew a mountain, a tree and a house with two windows and a door just like your classmate in kindergarten. But did you ever pause to wonder why we all drew it the same way? At Pencil Jam, they take such questions seriously.

Pencil Jam – a somewhat informal academy for all things visual – was given shape some eight months ago by artists George Supreeth and Smitha Shivaswamy. The duo decided to started Pencil Jam to take forward the sketching and drawing jam sessions they organised every weekend, originally under the aegis of their illustration outfit, Pencil Sauce. The idea was to provide a space and ambience for sketching and drawing enthusiasts to let their hair down and explore and exchange ideas.

George graduated from Chitrakala Parishath in 1996 and worked as a creative director for a few firms before deciding to strike out on his own. He met Smitha who graduated in 2006, and realised that they both wanted to build something besides the regular design services firm. That was how Pencil Sauce was born.
Talking about the unusual name, George says, “We were looking for a way to see ‘illustrator’ because we were probably the first pure-play illustration studio in the country. Pencil seemed to work ok, because people automatically associate it to drawing (as opposed to pen for writing). I have no idea where sauce came from, but it was thrown up in the brainstorming session and it stuck. It seems the incongruence works because people remember it.”

George explains with an example how we all think differently and the difference between verbal and visual thinkers. “Try this experiment. Give someone the keyword ‘forest’ and ask them to list associations with it. The verbal thinkers think sequentially (trees, bushes, plants, squirrels, birds, lion, tiger etc.) and in progressions. The visual thinkers, on the other hand, may respond with random terms because they are seeing systems level picture. While verbal thinking is efficient, visual thinking tends to be richer in detail.”

Pencil Jam participants call themselves ‘drawers’ and not artistes, as they believe that art is a very serious word which denotes a person of rare mastery over technique and subject. George elaborates, “One cannot really teach art. One can however teach the skills required to draw really well. Perhaps some of our students will be great artists one day. But that will be because they persevered. We just teach them the skills, and do that really well.”

Anil Kumar, an engineer who joined the Pencil Jam Community in May 2010, is an avid jammer and has probably never missed a weekend drawing session. “I mainly did pencil sketches and dreamed of watercolours. I was a doodler for years. About a year and a half ago, I started sketching seriously every day. And soon Pencil Jammers happened and I am a far better drawer than I would have been otherwise. Thanks to PJ I have ventured into it and learnt a lot. I still have a long way to go and I look forward to it. I occasionally do pastels, ballpoint pen drawings and charcoals now. I have uploaded the largest number of pictures among all members ,” Anil shares his experience in drawing. “Though he’s not a professional artist, his drawing output per week is tremendous,” comments George.

And now, to tackle the problem we started with. Says Smitha, co-founder of Pencil Jam, explaining why we all drew the same way in school, “In schools most of us drew the same way, and over here we are trying to break people out of it. At Pencil Jam, we help people to observe and draw exactly what they see. It’s more about visual thinking. Like, some people think through words and some of them have a vision; here we develop their visual skills.”

Pencil Jam’s 100 day programme is a foundation for drawing basics and only 10 students in one batch are allowed. The third batch of the program is scheduled to start on May 3rd, 2011. The classes consist of studio work three days a week, and assignments completed from home on the remaining three days.

For more details log on to their website: