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 Whether #MeToo stays or fizzles out, people will be wary: Neena Gupta

Whether #MeToo stays or fizzles out, people will be wary: Neena Gupta

By Durga Chakravarty
New Delhi, Oct 19 (IANS) The most substantial impact of the #MeToo movement, which took off in India following actress Tanushree Dutta's sexual harassment allegations against actor Nana Patekar, is that people now will be wary of engaging in misconduct -- whether or not the movement continues -- says veteran actress Neena Gupta.


Asked if she feels the #MeToo wave will stay in India or whether it will die down, Neena told IANS here: "See, proving (an experience) is very difficult here. Right now, girls have got the strength to speak up, but those girls will say (take names) who have nothing to lose.

"Girls who have still something to lose, will not be able to say. But I think whether (the movement) stays or fizzles out, people will be wary of doing anything of this sort now."

The #MeToo movement in India started after Tanushree in September recalled an unpleasant episode with veteran actor Nana Patekar from the sets of "Horn OK Pleassss" in 2008.

After that, a slew of controversies surrounding Vikas Bahl, Chetan Bhagat, Gursimran Khamba, Kailash Kher, Rajat Kapoor and Alok Nath have emerged. Why did naming and shaming come so late in Bollywood?

"That's how it is. That's how it works here. I say in conferences 'I think it's a curse to be born a woman in India, especially a poor woman'. Being a poor woman is a curse... It gives me so much pain when I see them," she said.

Neena has been in the industry for over three decades and has featured in films like "Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron", "Utsav", "Trikaal", "Khalnayak", "Mulk", "Veere Di Wedding" and "The Last Colour".

Asked if age is now detrimental for an actress' career in Bollywood, Neena agreed and said that after a certain age, they don't receive good offers.

"There are not many roles. I always say that, 'After a certain age, what is a woman's role? Taking care of the family and home. After that there is no role'. When the society will change, I think we would have more roles on-screen."

Last year, Neena was in the spotlight after she took to social media to ask for "good roles". She has now been frequently seen in films.

Apart from "Mulk" and "Veere Di Wedding" this year, she has been seen in the latest release "Badhaai Ho" and will next be seen in commercial drama "Sandeep Aur Pinky Faraar".

"Earlier in these subjects, there were no big roles. We used to get small character roles. Now films are being made on solid and substantial roles," said Neena, who essays a 50-year-old pregnant woman in "Badhaai Ho".

The film is about a couple that has a grown up son already, but they get set to become parents again.

She said the film is not only about breaking taboos, but about ageless love.

"It is an important thing and I don't think anyone has ever spoken about this. The more I worked in the film, the more I realised that it is very important and is more than just 'hasi, mazaak (humour)'," added Neena, who is the mother of popular designer Masaba Gupta, whom she had with legendary cricketer Vivian Richards.

She describes her own journey as a mother "very tough".

"My journey was very tough. I had no money. Money is the most important thing, I have realised in this world. I didn't have a husband and relatives. So it was really tough, but the joy Masaba gave me... The joy of motherhood... She was a very good child she did not trouble me much. The joy she gave me was enough to go through anything," said Neena, who raised Masaba as a single mother.

(Durga Chakravarty can be contacted at durga.c@ians.in)

--IANS
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10:12 AM
 UNHCR evacuates 135 migrants from Libyan capital to Niger

UNHCR evacuates 135 migrants from Libyan capital to Niger

Geneva, Oct 19 (IANS/AKI) Amid a deteriorating security situation in Tripoli, the United Nations refugee agency successfully evacuated 135 migrants from Libya to Niger earlier this week - the first airlift since June, the UNHCR said on Thursday.

UNHCR staff endured "significant security challenges and restrictions" while completing the evacuation late on Tuesday as rising tensions between rival militias resulted in sporadic exchanges of fire and rockets falling on Tripoli airport, the agency said. Many of the people evacuated late on Tuesday had been held in detention centres for several months and were suffering from the effects of malnutrition and poor health, UNHCR stated. "These evacuations are a life-changing and life-saving escape for refugees trapped in detention in Libya," said UNHCR Chief of Mission in Libya Roberto Mignone. "Refugees and migrants in detention centres often suffer squalid conditions and are at risk of being sold to traffickers and smugglers. This shows what a lifeline resettlement can be." The evacuees are currently being hosted in UNHCR's Emergency Transit Mechanism (ETM) until further solutions for them are found. Also on Tuesday, 85 refugees from Syria, Sudan and Eritrea departed on two flights from Tripoli to Timisoara, Romania, with the assistance of IOM, the UN Migration Agency. They will spend a few days at UNHCR's Emergency Transit Facility before flying onwards to Norway. UNHCR thanked resettlement countries for coming forward with offers of places for migrants trapped in Libya, but urged them to accelerate their procedures to enable further evacuations. "People are being intercepted off the Libyan coast faster than we can evacuate them," said Mignone. "We are deeply grateful for all those who have come forward with resettlement places but the simple truth is we need more evacuations, more often." Evacuations from Libya to Niger been paused since June amidst concerns that arrivals to Niger were outpacing the speed at which people were being resettled to other countries, UNHCR noted. A total of 1,997 people have been evacuated from Libya by UNHCR since operations began in December last year, the agency said, thanking Libyan authorities and Niger's government for their cooperation. --IANS/AKI nir

04:06 AM
 ISL: NorthEast beat Chennaiyin in seven-goal thriller

ISL: NorthEast beat Chennaiyin in seven-goal thriller

Chennai, Oct 18 (IANS) NorthEast United FC upstaged reigning Indian Super League (ISL) champions Chennaiyin FC in a seven-goal spectacle at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium here on Thursday.

A hat-trick from star striker Bartholomew Ogbeche (29th, 37th, 39th minutes), the second-fastest in the ISL, had pulled the visitors level in the first-half after a Rowllin Borges own goal (4th) and a Thoi Singh brace (15th, 32nd) had propped Chennaiyin FC up.

Borges made amends for his mistake by netting the match-winner early in the second half.

Without a win in two games, the hosts started the match with urgency and were rewarded with an early goal after they forced a corner in the fourth minute. Issac Vanmalsawma whipped a devilish delivery in and Borges inadvertently headed it into his own net from inside the six-yard box.

Though NorthEast started dominating possession, it was Chennaiyin who struck again. In the 15th minute, Jerry Lalrinzuala spotted Issac's run down the left and sent in a wonderful through-ball for the winger to latch on to. Issac surged forward and squared the ball for Thoi who finished the move.

The visitors pulled a goal back minutes before the half an hour mark after the energetic Federico Gallego managed to get a shot on target. Goalkeeper Karanjit Singh, however, could not hold on to it and Ogbeche capitalised on the offering before slotting a finish into the far corner.

Chennaiyin, though, restored their two-goal advantage almost immediately. Raphael Augusto wriggled free of his markers down the left wing and got to the touchline. His square-ball was bundled in by Thoi at the near post.

The see-saw nature of the game continued but it was NorthEast who would take the game by the scruff of its neck. Ogbeche came into his own and struck twice to pull NorthEast level.

First, he outjumped Francisco Fernandes to meet Borges' cross and steered it home. Minutes later, he met Gallego's wonderful through ball and rounded the keeper before rolling the ball into the net.

NorthEast continued their ascendancy after the break and soon went into the lead. Gallego found Reagan Singh down the right wing. His cross was blocked and Borges latched on to the loose ball on the edge of the area and swept a brilliant finish into the bottom corner.

Chennaiyin pressed hard for a way back into the game but NorthEast showed composure to hold on to their advantage.

Chennaiyin coach John Gregory threw in Jeje Lalpekhlua in a bid to conjure up an equaliser. He almost got on the end of a header from Andrea Orlandi in added time but just could not steer it in as Eelco Schattorie's team held on to register a famous victory.

--IANS
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10:02 PM
 UN seeks immediate action to avoid another war in Gaza

UN seeks immediate action to avoid another war in Gaza

United Nations, Oct 19 (IANS) The United Nations envoy for the Middle East, Nickolay Mladenov, has demanded that Palestine and Israel take immediate action to reduce current tensions in the area and avoid another armed conflict in Gaza.

"We remain on the brink of another potentially devastating conflict, a conflict that nobody claims to want, but a conflict that needs much more than just words to prevent," said Mladenov in a videoconference speech to the Council on Thursday. "Barring substantial steps to reverse the current course, this precarious sense of calm is doomed to give way under the mounting pressure. It is already beginning to fray," he said, reports Efe. The diplomat called on Hamas and other groups to "immediately" halt all "provocations and attacks" and to stop all violence along the border, while adding that Israel must facilitate access of goods and people to Gaza and ensure that its security forces are acting with maximum restraint. Mladenov addressed the Security Council to review the new escalation of violence in the Gaza Strip, where on Wednesday Israel staged about 20 airstrikes in reprisal for the launching of rockets from the Palestinian enclave. Mladenov, who is working with Egypt in negotiations to try and stabilize the situation in Gaza and facilitate reconciliation among the Palestinian factions, said that the arrangements that have maintained a certain calm in recent years are breaking down under growing pressure. The UN official said he was afraid that there is no more time for mere words and that the international community and the local parties must act now. The upsurge in violence is taking place as Israeli society and members of the country's Cabinet debate whether to launch a broad new military operation against Gaza to guarantee calm, after six months of mobilizations in the Strip, the launching of hundreds of incendiary balloons and dozens of attempts to damage the border fence and infiltrate into Israel, some by armed militias. These actions come amid the so-called Great March of Return, which began on March 30 resulting in the deaths of more than 200 Palestinians in demonstrations and in violent incidents or Israeli bombings against militias. Mladenov emphasized that the situation in Gaza is absolutely not sustainable: "Gaza is collapsing. This is not hyperbole. It is not alarmism. It is a reality." He said that the economy of the Strip is in free fall, with unemployment of 53 percent, and 70 percent unemployment among young people. All the key indicators - humanitarian, economic, security and political - continue to deteriorate, he said. Mladenov emphasized that there is a clear and growing international consensus about the need to act to respond to the situation, above all with humanitarian initiatives, adding that reducing the humanitarian pressure on the ground will directly reduce the threat of escalation and provide space for efforts led by Egypt to return the legitimate Palestinian government to Gaza, which is currently under the control of the Islamist Hamas movement. --IANS nir/

02:36 AM

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