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SOS- Shivaji Park of Shimla – Plight of town’s children depicted in short-film by Vivek Mohan

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SHIMLA– Film-maker Vivek Mohan has released the trailer of his upcoming short-film “SOS – Shivaji Park of Shimla”. The film is scheduled to be released on March 28 this year. The filmmaker, who is born and brought-up in Shimla, spent about six months to shoot the documentary that intends to highlight misery of children in Shimla. In this 21-minute short-film, Mr. Vivek has taken up an issue that hardly caught anyone’s attention – lack of playground or even open space for children to play. In Shimla, children literally do not have any open space to play, which is a matter of concern. He named the documentary after the famous cricket stadium in Mumbai that has produced players like Sachin Tendulkar. The Mumbai administration had opened the stadium for children to play. In Shimla town, the historic Ridge, which is basically a water-reservoir, is compared to the Shivaji Park as it’s the only common space that children have on the name of playground.

Watch Trailer:

 

Not just this issue, but he has taken up the issue of degradation of Shimla due to urbanization in his short-film. Mr. Vivek has also won the National Award for his short-film “Malana – In Search Of” on Malana village in Kullu valley.The current production would be his third dedication to Shimla.

It’s worth mention that Mr. Vivek has been raising the issue for years now. As per administration, letting children play on the Ridge causes inconvenience to tourists and people. The administration has always expressed its helplessness to provide even a single playground for children. Once, children used to play on streets when the traffic used to be very dilute. Now, the urbanization has snatched these roads, too, from children. The Annandale Ground is under army control and children can’t go there. World’s highest cricket ground in Chile is for showcase to tourists and children aren’t allowed here either. The open space at Chaura Maidan comes under restricted road and the one in front of gate of Indian Institute of Advance Studies is occupied by cabs. 

What remained was the historic Ridge Shimla where children used to play cricket or cycle around. However, the district administration and Shimla police have chased away the children from here as well.

As a matter of fact, children are not just deprived of space to play, but also from an essential aspect behind development of a healthy, complete personality in social context. It’s no less than violating the right of children to play and repression of their playfulness. Secondly, Shimla hardly produces sportsmen because of the same reason.

In 2011, after a letter from a child regarding lack of playgrounds to play, the Himachal Pradesh High Court had asked the Shimla MC why there were no grounds for children. SMC had mentioned lack of funds as reason in reply. Administration is completely blank on the issue as it struggles with carrying out usual business like water supply and sanitation. In such times, the filmmaker has come out with another attempt to highlight the plight of the children through his short-film. In fact, Mr. Vivek has created a public group “Halla Bol and Baat” on Facebook too. 

Shimla town is on the verge of losing its beauty, serenity, and purity of air. There is hardly any ecologically harmful practice from haphazard and unscientific construction on hill slopes to burning municipal solid waste that town doesn’t follow. In such times, cinema can play a vital role in highlighting such critical issues through short-films or documentaries.

In fact, Mr. Vivek has talked about lack of encouragement to young filmmakers in Himachal from state government. The artists are still producing sub-standard video albums while some others have found a platform through social media like YouTube. However, it’s a good time for the administration to step in and think about lifting the level of cinema in Himachal, said Mr. Vivek.

Madan has studied English Literature and Journalism from HP University and lives in Shimla. He is an amateur photographer and has been writing on topics ranging from environmental, socio-economic, development programs, education, eco-tourism, eco-friendly lifestyle and to green technologies for over 7 years now. He has an inclination for all things green, wonderful and loves to live in solitude. When not writing, he can be seen wandering, trying to capture world around him in his DSLR lens.

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Himachal’s fitness enthusiast shines at Indian TV Reality Show

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Himachal's Fitness enthusiast sachin sharma of Shimla

Shimla: Sachin Sharma, a handsome man of 26, is currently a person who stands in contrast to Himachal Pradesh’s ill-famed youth struggling with drug and substance abuse – a crucial issue that has sounded an alarm in the State. Sachin is the one who joined a gym at the age of 19 – an age at which teenagers are struggling to escape from the jaws of drug/substance abuse, especially Heroin (Chitta).

Sachin, born in a middle-class family of Deha village, Theog, Shimla district, recently appeared in what could be called India’s first fitness reality show “Indian Fitness League.” It wasn’t a bodybuilding show, but the challenge was to undertake tasks designed to check who is the fittest. Sachin was the only one from Himachal to have made through the auditions. He was selected as one of the 40 fittest people of India. He earned the special attention of the hosts of the show as well as among other competitors.

The next episode of the TV show would be telecasted on October 6 on Discovery Sports at 4 PM.

To know more about him, Himachal Watcher interviewed him (Watch Video). We found that his story is inspirational in its own way:


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Far from ill and unhealthy habits, he doesn’t smoke, doesn’t drink or take anything that would toy with his physical and mental fitness. He definitely doesn’t take steroids. Since last seven years, he has followed a strict discipline in diet and habits. He didn’t compromise with his studies either. He completed his schooling from Dayanand Public School in Shimla.

In 2018 he completed his post graduation in Masters of Business (MBA) from Himachal Pradesh University and had procured a placement for himself too.

He wasn’t born with a silver spoon in his mouth so placement did matter for him. His father Mohan Lal Sharma and mother Subhadra Sharma are both serving with the Crime Investigation Department (CID), HP, as Assistant Sub-Inspector (ASI) and Head Constable respectively. It wasn’t easy to manage an additional expenditure of Rs. 15,000 – 20, 000 on his protein diet for seven years.

At this point, his decision-making ability was put to test. He had to choose one of the two: job placement and passion for fitness. He listened to himself and decided to seek a career in the fitness industry.

Though Sachin’s body is in good shape, he isn’t actually a bodybuilder. He is a fitness enthusiast, who has trained without a professional trainer or a mentor. He made ample use of YouTube to learn. He didn’t take up fitness as his passion because he was inspired by someone. He was his own inspiration.

He first received an opportunity to get on a stage at annual Mr. Himachal competition. Later he won the Maruti Suzuki Devils Circuit held in Chandigarh.

Now, after his tremendous performance at the IFL, Sachin has received sponsorships and was inducted in the TG Athlete group. Opportunities in the fitness industry have begun to appear before him. He believes that someday, he would extend support and guidance to other fitness enthusiasts of the state, which he could hardly receive for himself.

He is an idol for the youth of Himachal, especially because fitness is an antonym to drug/substance abuse and indiscipline. In the majority of cases filed under the Narcotics, Drugs & Psychoactive Substances (ND&PS) Act, the accused are reported to be between 20-25 years. A couple of days back Shimla Police arrested a 22-years-old local boy with a packet of Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) stamps. 

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A small initiative by bunch of creative people making a difference

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Healing Himalayas rainshelter art

Shimla: Shimla – a name that leaves many hearts pounding, many wandering souls want to travel to this place, is well on its way of losing its charm. Every hilltop blotted with concrete houses, every slope shrouded under littered waste, every corner of the town chocked to death by oil-guzzling machines – this is the new picture of our town that was once famous for being ‘Queen of the Hill.’

Visual pollution mostly remained unchecked, and the majority of the public properties like rain-shelters have become free advertisement boards. 

To whatever direction you throw an eye, all you see is the tainted landscape. A hazy skyline hidden behind a cloud of dust and pollution ruins the vista. If you ask who is responsible for creating this mess – the only sound that echoes in the mountains is bad governance.

However, holding the governance alone responsible would be wrong. The people of the town are equally responsible for turning our town, which once used to be a beautiful hill station covered in deodar forests, into a wretch place. The landscape turns gloomier when you discover more about how our once-a-beautiful town looks on the inside.

Rain-Shelter at the BCS in Shimla City before Revamping

No matter how gloomy the landscape of our town turns, there are always people with positive spirits who refuse to give up. This group of creative people, under the name of a Non-profit organization Healing Himalayas – in association with some local artists and volunteers, is a good example of how to work in the right direction and set things right.

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Before revamping

They are striving hard to bring back the lost glory of the hill queen by making small efforts like conducting cleaning drives across Shimla and inspiring people to not litter.

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Removing posters/pamphletsa

This doesn’t stop here. They are taking steps to beautify the town by giving bus stops or rains shelters a revamped look. Almost all bus stops are in a really bad state.

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Cleaning the rain shelter

I am not very sure if they serve the purpose of providing shelter to the public on a rainy or sunny day, but they are a free and open playground for advertisers. Every local company, business, institutions especially coaching academies come and use interior as well as exterior walls of rain shelters to advertise their services and offers.

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Painting after cleaning

In an effort to spread awareness on how to use public properties/places, the NGO takes to the streets of BSC, New Shimla on Sunday, May 20, 2018, and started peeling off posters and banners that stained the walls of the shelter beyond repair.

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The team which included about 25 artists and volunteers took over the shelter at around 7:00 am and removed all posters and banners from the wall.

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The poster removal drill that lasted for about four hours was followed by applying multiple quotes of primer and whitewash. That’s not it; to turn the once-an-ugly-looking shelter into a work of art, the enthusiasts covered the walls in beautiful artwork.

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An inspiring initiative by a bunch of creative people turned gloomy walls of the shelter into a life-size canvas where beautiful forms and figures started taking shapes. In the tireless process, the rain shelter was a changed place that looked no less than an art gallery.

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Inspiring art depicting endangered mother earth instils an element of emotion in the concrete walls. Blooming flowers, guitar, beautiful landscapes, and ‘Ardhanarishvara’ with moon arch as his head ornament turn the walls into a multicoloured art.

After cleaning and painting

From blending colours to make a perfect hue to making the right brush strokes took them about 8 hours to complete the paint job. And, the final output, which reflects their (the team) artistic approach towards a mundane life, deserves your attention. See for yourself.
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By Yash Sharma, Shimla

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Self-taught local artist to exhibit ’17 Paintings’ oil painting works at Gaiety, Shimla

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Shimla: For the art lovers and critics in Himachal Pradesh, a self-taught local artist will showcase his collection of oil paintings titled “17 Paintings” on a two-days exhibition at the historic Gaiety Theater, Shimla on December 9 and 10 from 11.00 AM to 6.00 PM.

Surya Ranjan Shandil (31), who hails from Solan district, works in Bengaluru as a computer programmer in the field of education technology. After his schooling from Shimla, he obtained a B.Tech Degree from Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur.

Himachal's cutlural paintings

Courtesy: Surya Ranjan Shandil

However, he did not ignore his love for the painting and continued it at evenings after college, work, on weekends, and Sundays.

Later, Ranjan realized he has a collection of his own. His first solo exhibition was held in November 2016 at the Gaiety Theater.

The appreciation he received at the first exhibition encouraged him to present his second collection of oil paintings that he painted during 2017.

He received his education upto Class 12 from Shimla’s St. Edwards and Dayanand Public School.

He is best known for his captivating genre paintings.

I started drawing at the age of 3-4 years. At that time, I used to sign the drawings with incorrect spellings of my name,

Ranjan told Himachal Watcher

His father, Dr R G Shandil, who is now retired, was a professor of mathematics at the H.P. University, Shimla. His mother Dr. Sandhya Shandil was a teacher at the St. Edward’s School, Shimla.

After graduating in 2010, I started with oil painting during the evenings and weekends. Gradually I built up a collection and in November 2016, I held my first solo exhibition of 29 oil paintings at gaiety,

he said.

local himachali painting artist

Ranjan’s paintings reflect people. The upcoming exhibition opens with simple themes like the joy of shopping, local festivities, celebration, dance and music. Most works painted on these themes are in the context of Himachal.

Surya Ranjan Shandil

Following these are mellow paintings ‘Seaside Nap’ and ‘Personal Sunrise’ – more subtle takes on human thought. The artist also takes a step towards satire in comically interesting works ‘Monkeys’ and ‘Chimpanzees’.

Slowly moving towards expressionism ‘Kayal’ takes the viewer to the realm of subjectless painting while in ‘Frenzy’ the artist dispenses with form.

Ending on a light hearted note, the paintings ‘Bonfire’ and ‘A Silent Conversation’ recreate the magic of Gabbar Singh and Rajesh Khanna on canvas.

About his love for painting, he said,

I believe art is a journey of constant improvisation.  

It would be his second solo exhibition. Earlier, he has participated and won prizes in several painting competitions throughout his schooling and B.Tech.

 

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