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Pahari short-film Pashi wins best Cinematography award at Marietta Film Festival in Georgia

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Siddharth Chauhan’s Himachali short-film Pashi has won the best Cinematography award at Marietta International Film Festival in Georgia,  Europe in the short-film category.

Earlier, Pashi had also made it to an Oscar qualifying ‘Rhode Island International Film Festival’held in USA in August 2017. It was the first international premiere for the film. Like Rhode Island, at Marietta too, Pashi was the only entry from India, said Sidharth.

Siddharth was the Director of photography while Yashwant Kumar Sharma was his cameraman.

Watch Trailer

The film is inspired from Siddharth’s childhood memories in his village Dhanoti, Rohru of Shimla district and produced under the Secret Corridor Picture.

In the regional Pahari spoken in Rohru, Pashi means a trap – an ancient concept used by villagers & children for hunting birds and animals.

pashi film shooting locationThe film was primarily shot in Sunta Lodge, a beautiful wooden mansion of village Khalwan. Some of the parts were also filmed in Village Dhanoti neat Tikker (Rohru).

Pashi will be showcased at Shanghai International Film Festival in Shanghai on the September 17. On February 2, 2018, the film will be showcased at the World Music and Independent Film Festival in Washington where it already has five nominations – Best Director, Best Screenplay Writer, Best Cinematography, Best Actor, and Best Supporting Actor.

Siddharth has emerged as a talented filmmaker from the Hill state where the film industry is still in infancy. Luckily, the parents of Siddharth, Mr. Balwan Singh Chauhan and Mrs. Bimla Chauhan offered a thorough support to him in his endevour.

Lead actors of the film include Chetan Kanwar, a Class XII student at the Chapslee School, Shimla, John Negi, a model/actor from Rampur, Kamayani Bisht, an English Professor at the Government College Theog, Savitri Devi Sunta, the oldest family member of the Sunta family in Khawalan.

Supporting case includes Dewansh Kanwar (Chapslee School), Aditi Sunta ( Rohru), and Dev Ranta (Rohru).

Other crew members are as followed.

  • Assistant Directors: Mridul Surbhi, Shefali Chauhan & Ankit Rathore
  • Music: Prabir Sekhri from Canada
  • Sound: Tanmaya Das from Mumbai
  • Visual Effects: Himanshu Hirwani from Pune
  • Story/Direction: Siddharth Chauhan from Shimla
  • Associate Producers: Swati Chauhan & Ankit Rathore (from Delhi)

 

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Art & Culture

Artists in Himachal allege serious irregularities in distribution of top Academy awards

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HP Academy of Language, Art and Culture Awards 2017

How the Academy can distribute prizes four months prior to completion of the year. Moreover, without procuring the copy of published works, how would it assess the artists?

Shimla: The Himachal Pradesh Academy of Language, Art, and Culture was alleged of irregularities in the distribution of the annual top three awards to best artists in various fields.

The Academy is preparing to distribute the top Academy awards for the year 2017 in advance without following proper procedures and even rules of the Academy.

The awards for the year 2016 were presented in March 2017. Just five months after it, now, the Academy is preparing to distribute prizes in haste before the end of the year. Artists cite the upcoming Assembly Election as the main reason behind this unjustified act.

For the 2017 awards, the Academy has invited artists to submit their entries with details by August 26, 2017. Surprisingly, the Academy has not asked the candidates to submit any books or other published works for the assessment.

The artists and social organizations are questioning how the Academy can distribute prizes four months prior to completion of the year. Moreover, without procuring the copy of published works, how would it assess the artists?

Several artists would publish or reveal their works of art during the next four months. But if the prizes for the year were already distributed before completion of the year, these artists will face injustice. All artists deserve equal opportunity to represent their works.

The 2016 awards were distributed without actually assessing the art works or the artists, said the allegations. A few members of the Academy distributed the prizes to some pre-selected candidates without properly inviting other artists to submit entries. There was no in-depth assessment of works of art and literature before giving away prizes worth lakhs of rupees.

These allegations were labeled by Guru Dutt Sharma, an artist and the President of the “HP Sarvahitkari Sangh”. He said the Academy distributed the last year’s awards just five months ago, and now, the Academy is trying to distribute top three awards for the year 2017 in advance.

Sharma also alleged that every such institute or organization is bound to properly advertise the invitation for entries along with details regarding the eligibility criteria, rules, and norms. However, the Academy issued only a press note that did not contain any of the aforesaid details, he alleged.

He further alleged that the constitution of the Academy was hijacked by a few members. These members were taking undue advantage of their positions and working arbitrarily.

As per the Academy rules, the position of the President in the Academy always belongs to the Secretary of the HP Department of Language and Culture. However, the Academy has defied this rule and even the post of the Secretary was not filled as per rules.

Guru Dutt Sharma has also written to the President of the Academy and the Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh asking them to publish proper details regarding the eligibility and rules before inviting entries.

He also asked the Chief Minister to ensure that the awards for the year 2017 should be given in 2018 after appropriate assessment.

The artists are pleading the government to spare the Academy of corruption for the sake of the art.

Sharma has requested all artist community to join hands and fight against the irregularities in the Academy to ensure justice with deserving artists.

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Art & Culture

Book Review: Teashop at Narkanda by Sumit Raj Vashisht

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tea-shop-at-narkanda

Shimla-based travel writer and a tourist guide, Sumit Raj Vashisht, had released his new novel ‘Teashop at Narkanda’ very recently. Himachal Watcher received a copy of the novel from the writer for reading. After reading it we thought of sharing a review with our readers. For avid readers, the novel is a four to five hours read. Two types of characters are, more or less, idealized. People are either pure evil or are overwhelmingly kind. Writer yearned to create a balance between agonies of human life and elements of hope. Role of destiny is emphasized irrespective of writer’s intentions.

However, the writer did succeed in creating a high-tension melodrama. Behavioral attributes of some characters agreed with reality. Description of routine life in Shimla or Narkanda and accounts of socio-cultural aspects are accurate. The writer is acquainted with religious rituals, ceremonies and beliefs of native culture. Depiction of geography is convincing as well.

Plot

Those who have been to Narkanda, can match the description of this bus stop at a small market in upper region of district Shimla, Himachal Pradesh. The plot is based on one of India’s dreariest natural disasters -Kedarnath flash flood in 2013 that had killed over 5,000 people and had rendered thousands homeless. Dreams and hopes of not only families but each individual were shattered in just one moment. Birju, the protagonist in the story, is one such teenager, who had lost everything including his parents and siblings. He is left with nothing back at home, so he moves to Shimla in a hope to find means to livelihood. He should have been to school at that age when empty pocketed he struggled for shelter and food. Carrying the trauma of his loss, he wanders like an orphan only to find trivial jobs at small dhabas. At night, he sleeps under a canopy behind the church on the Shimla Ridge. The narrator often saw him sitting on a bench in front of the Christ church. The narrator, who is also struggling in his own ways, hears the traumatic story of the boy. But the narrator finds himself helpless to offer any help to the boy owing to his own turmoil.

The story of Birju is narrated by the writer.

The usual, unhealthy work-environment and poor treatment of helpers at dhabas add to the agony of the protagonist. But that wasn’t all. The circumstances take a dramatic twist when the boy discovers a news about his family. Not all of his family members were dead. This discovery was followed by a long struggle for survival by protagonist and his family. The house, land, and all possessions were lost in the natural calamity. Evil relatives add to the misery of his family.

The academic ambitions of a teenager now conflicted with desperate need to earn a living. With little education, working at a tea shop at Narkanda was all he could find on the name of employment. He is stuck there for over a decade, living a miserable life.

New characters continue to emerge as story progressed. The writer used them to introduce twists in circumstances. The protagonist is more an outcome of circumstance than his karma or hard-work. But what was the ultimate fate of the protagonist and his family?

The perfect circle of helplessness that surrounds the protagonist throughout the entire story contradicts with attributed positive personality traits. It’s towards the end of the novel when Birju punches his owner and leave him unconscious. Otherwise, Birju is always a victim. This helplessness would appeal to emotionally sensitive readers, of course.

The writer tried hard to introduce characters with detailed description, which is admirable. To conclude the review, we would say, the novel is worth a read and readers will find it motivational.

About the Writer

Sumit Raj Vashisht was born at Shimla in 1967. His father, a railway engineer by profession also a well known Urdu poet under the pen name of Talat Irfani, was never interested in leaving Shimla. Hills are Sumit’s first love, he belong to them. Here, he tells stories, conducts educational camps for school children, writes books on his travels, works as a Heritage Guide and a Tour Companion on Himalayan Valleys outings and helps those British who return to India looking for their family history. His innovative ideas of providing experiences to his traveler clients have made Shimla Walks, his company famous.

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Himachal’s researcher proves traditional Mandiyali dham a satvik & complete food, contains all 6 rasa defined in Ayurveda

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dr. om sharma

SHIMLA– Delicious Mandiyali dham – a traditional feast of Mandi district in Himachal Pradesh has been assessed by a Himachal researcher as a complete food from Ayurvedic perspective. A team headed by Dr. Om Sharam at the Regional Ayurveda Research Institute for Nutritional Disorders, Mandi spent about six years to study Mandiyali dham. Dr.Sharma, who is also Assistant Director-cum-in charge at the institute, assessed everything from methods of cooking, nutritional values, medical properties of ingredients, serving style, season, geographical and climatic characteristics to Ayurvedic benefits.  He also published a research article in the February edition of the International Journal of Advance Research under title “Dham (Traditional Feast of Mandi in Himachal Pradesh) a Complete Food with Ayurveda Perspective.”

Dr.Sharma, a native of Banrotu, Mandi, said he will file a patent for the dham in order to preserve its importance in times when traditional values are vanishing into urbanization. The patent of Himachal’s traditional dham will include every step followed from preparation, exact quantity used to properties of each individual ingredient.

Regional Ayurveda Research Institute for Nutritional Disorders

Recently, Dr. Sharma, was joined by a botanist, Deepshika Arya, and four research officers, namely Vineeta Negi (Kinnaur), Vikas Nariyal (Kangra), Prashant Shinde (Maharashtra),Deepshika Arya (Haldwani), and Sumeet Goel( Haldwani). 

What Makes Mandi Dham a Complete Food?

Other than carefully going through the research article, Himachal Watcher talked to Dr. Sharma to know more about their motivation behind carrying out this extensive study to establish correlation between ancient knowledge of Ayurveda and tradition of dham.

He told HW that while onion and garlic are central to contemporary food, Mandi’s dham doesn’t use either of them, at all. That makes the dham a ‘satvik bhojan’.

Botis-cooking-Dham

Dr. explained that Ahar (food) holds an immense importance in Ayurveda.

As per Ayurveda, a good diet consist of six rasa when taken in a proper sequence starting from Madhura (food sweet), followed by Amla, Lavana, Katu, Tiktaand Kashaya. As per the study, traditional dham of Mandi is an example of food with all six rasa or complete food (shadrasaahara) when served in sequence.

As per the study, diet in Mandi dham also considers influences of Mana (psychological factors) on digestion. As per Ayurveda, negative emotions can influence digestion of food. An individual afflicted with grief, fear, anger, sorrow, excessive sleep and vigil would not be able to digest even a complete diet properly. That is why the dham is served on festive occasions where people gather, sit on ground, and eat in uniform plates made of leaves.

Sequence of Serving

Mandiyali meetha
The food is served in bio-degradable plates made from leaves. The starters begins with madhur rasa (sweet dish), Boondi ka Meeta (chickpera floor dipped in sweet syrup along with dry fruits).

Sepu Badi Mandi Dham

Sepu Badi, prepared from fresh spinach leaves and badi, comes next. In this dish badi is made from Masha (black lentil) and Chana (Bengal gram) that are deep fried with the gravy of coriander and spinach leaves. It provides a Madhura-Amla rasa (Sweet-Sour).

kaddu ka khatta

Sepu Badi is followed by Kadu ka Khatta that makes Amla-lavana Rasa (sour-salty). The dish is prepared from pumpkin and taste like a blend of sweet and sour.

Kol ka Khata (makushtabheda-Vigna aconitifolia) that is prepared from pulse called kol follows khatta. It’s sour and brings a grimace on face.

himachali-Mandyali-Dham-maa-ki-dal

Photo: Koyna Singh.Blogspot

After Khatta comes Mah ki Daal (black tentrils). It is prepared with Fennel seeds, two three bay leaves, green Cardamoms, Black Cardamoms, small stick of Cinnamon, Clovers, Coriander seeds, Bay leaves, Curd, Spinach, pinch of Asafetida, red chili powder, coriander powder and turmeric powder. The dish makes tiktapradran (bitter dominant) dish.

jholJhol comes last in this sequence. It is prepared from curd and water in mud pot. Jhol is believed to help in digestion of food that is taken in dham. As per Ayurveda, itsrukhsaguna also help in cleansing of esophagus and gut from Ghrita rich food. 

Eaten With only Hands

People eat with hands in traditional dham. A person eating with his hands knows the exact temperature of food before the morsel hits his mouth. It prevents blisters in mouth due to consumption of hot food, says the research article.

Medicinal Benefits
The dham is believed to be useful in throat problems, blood disorders, bronchitis, skin disease and liver or gall bladder related problems. Other than that, the diet boosts blood enrichment, help in treatment of ear infections and liver and spleen disorders. The diet also offers vitamins such as riboflavin, niacin, thiamine, folate and the Vitamin A precursor, β-carotene. Pumpkin contains potassium that is good for heart.

Natural Preservation

Traditional Himachal dham
People use natural methods for preservation of main food including rice by drying in sun. Instead of chemical preservatives like sodium benzoate, people use rai as natural preservative. To preserve the pulses, people rub them with mustard oil. It protects them from pests and fungus. Smoke of red chilli is used to treat the vessels in which the pulses are stored.

Favorable Season

Winters are considered favorable season for serving dham as it is believed that digestive powers are higher during this time due to low temperatures. 

Social Equality

Mandiyali Dham Patent

Unlike modern methods of serving food and eating at marriages, all people sit on ground and eat in one type of plate. It promotes message of equality and uniformity in the society, said the research article.

Eco-friendly and employment to traditional plate (pattal) makers

plate made of leaves

Dr. Sharma told Himachal Watcher that the traditional alternative to plastic plates used in dham is clean Taur –bauhinia vahli leaves. The leaves posses anti-microbial effect and antioxidant properties. Moreover, the leaves are 100 percent bio-degradable so no waste left behind.

Dr. Sharma and his team claims that the ingredients of traditional dham are not chosen haphazardly. Rather, its a proof that Himachal’s culture is also rich in terms of ancient wisdom. He stressed upon the need of conservation of this traditional feast as well as other traditions that are unique to pahari culture. He wants the dham to gain popularity so the people may understand the importance of traditional food, and the method of traditional preservation. He said he will continue to work on the research and will refine it. 

He also expressed concern over adulteration of original tradition as some new dishes or ingredients are being included into dham by new generation. Changes or additions would prove detrimental to the benefits which traditionally made and served dham provides. 

As popularly said in Ayurveda,

If one eats pathya(Proper food) then there is no need of medicine and if one don‟t eat pathya(takes improper diet) still there will be no need of medicine.

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