Saturday, April 30, 2005

Telugu Journalist Balantrapu Nalinikantha Rao Dies

From The Hindu:
"VISAKHAPATNAM: Veteran journalist and litterateur Balantrapu Nalinikantha Rao died in Chennai on Friday, after a brief illness. He was 89 and leaves his wife, two sons and three daughters. Mr. Rao worked as the Assistant Editor of Khasa Subba Rao's Swatantra (Telugu) and retired as a senior journalist in The Mail of Madras in 1973. He also served as the editorial adviser to Emesco Pocket Books (Madras), and brought out the late Telugu lyricist Devulapalli Krishna Sastry's literary collection of 12 books. Apart from publishing Nivedana, a collection his poems, Mr. Rao authored a number plays broadcast over All India Radio (Madras)."

Telugu Filmmaker Lakshmi Prasanna's Entry Into Hollywood

An article on Telugu filmmaker/actress Lakshmi Prasanna (also known as Laki Manchu) from
"If you thought that Ash was our only lady in Hollywood, well think again. Even as the ex-Miss World looks for the right toehold, our own babe has beat her to it. Granted that it hasn't been on-screen and you haven't had David Letterman interview her, still not many would fault her Hollywood career.

Lakshmi Prasanna, daughter of actor and MAA president Mohan Babu, is our new face in Hollywood. She's currently involved in producing Single Thread, a movie which she says will star Penelope Cruz, Salma Hayek and Ben Kingsley. "It is going to happen sometime this year," says the lady.

Some would say that acting is in her genes, others would argue that even her stint in movie production was but obvious. But it hasn't been her genes alone. Sure, it has helped her in the Telugu film industry where she did a few films with her dad, but it hasn't been smooth sailing across the oceans.

She started her career in films in her father's backyard, even acting in some of his films. Sri Lakshmi Prasanna Pictures, named after her, has produced some 45 movies.

But Tollywood was perhaps a tad too regional for her.

Lakshmi decided to join Oklahoma City University in the US to study theatre. She'd already decided on film-making as her career. There was some initial resistance from her parents. But few things can stand in the face of true determination.

In the US, Lakshmi wasn't a star daughter. She was a student like many others. And there was struggle to gain a foothold. There were brief stints as a waitress and as salesperson in a mall.

She moved to Los Angeles soon after completing her studies, joining an acting school in the city. Later came a brief stint in an NBC show Las Vegas where she appeared as a guest star opposite macho man Sylvester Stallone. "Later they called me back again and again," she says. Her perseverance has paid off. From acting, she has now graduated to production. But, she hasn't totally let go of her roots. "Ultimately this is where I belong," she says. But it isn't stardom she's aiming for. "I'm interested in directing, not acting in Telugu films." "First and foremost we are film-makers. But it has a far deeper meaning than what people think. A movie has to inspire and move."
There's another article about Lakshmi Prasanna from There are loads of pics too.

Telugu Film News

From Sify Movies:
"The other day young hero NTR was raving about his new heroine Sameera Reddy and says that she has a bright future in Tollywood.

But Sam’s first love is Bollywood and she has no plans to settle down in Hyderabad and do more Telugu films. In an interview to a Mumbai tabloid, Sameera said that Telugu is a difficult language and it was the ‘moolah’ in Tollywood that attracted her there.

Meanwhile producers are running after Sindhura, the Miss India world participant who is a Telugu girl. Sindhura is open to idea of doing a few Telugu films but at the moment she wants to concentrate on World beauty pageant to be held at the end of the year."

Three ETV Channels Enter USA: Telugu Included

By BIJOY A K (30 April 2005)
"MUMBAI: Starting 30 April Monday, ETV channels ETV Bangla, Telugu and Gujarati will be available in the United States of America. The channels will be launched in the DirecTV platform.

The network had earlier slotted the US launch of ETV Telugu, ETV Telugu-II, ETV Kannada, ETV Gujarat and ETV Bangla in the last quarter of 2004. But the plans got delayed due to some last minute technical fine-tuning that was required.

"Now we are planning our US entry phase-wise. Our ETV-2, Kannada and Marathi channels will enter the USA in the second phase," says ETV chief producer Manvi.

ETV has eleven regional channels in its network, including ETV Telugu, ETV Bangla,ETV Kannada, ETV Urdu, ETV Marathi and ETV Gujarati."

Friday, April 29, 2005

Devi Sri Prasad Blacklisted?

From Sify Movies:

"Devi Sri Prasad, the Telugu music director is having a nightmare in Tamil films. He has done music for two films- Mayaavi and Sachein and it has been found that all his numbers (especially in Sachein) are rehashes of his Telugu hits!

Thanu, the producer of Sachein was hauled to court a day before the release of the film by Gemini Film Circuits claiming that a song in the film was lifted from their Shankar Dada MBBS. The poor producer had to drop this particular song shot on Bipasha Basu and Vijay, which was the highlight of the film.

The fans of Vijay were furious that they could not see the song and now after 12 days of release, when the ‘sexy item number’ was added with a new tune, the film has bombed badly. Now comes another thunder bolt from the blue as a Telugu producer Subba Reddy has filed case claiming that the rustic ‘gana’ number : “Gundu Maanga Thoppukkulle…” in Sachein is lifted from his Telugu film Your’s Abhi!

Reddy has approached the Madras High Court with a petition and demanded Rs 30 lakhs compensation from Thanu. So Devi Sri Prasad has to take the blame and he is now being blacklisted by producers. As a leading Tamil music director pointed out- “What he has done is unethical and he cannot getaway with it as copyright laws are becoming more strict these days”. And to rub it in, Vijay has sacked him from providing music for his latest film Sivakasi and instead signed Srikanth Deva."

Telugu Literary Info: Women Writers

Telugu...A Language Sweeter Than Honey an insightful Telugu blog, has a wonderful post about "Telugu Women Writers of the Last Millenium". Definitely worth checking out.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Indian Government Requires Native Fonts (Including Telugu) Installed in All Computers

From Graphic Exchange News:
Apr 26:The government of India has announced that it plans to make it mandatory for computer OEMs to load Indian fonts on their machines.

Communications and IT minister Dayanidhi Maran said that he anticipates that the English language will cease to be a prerequisite for the use of computers in India once the government completes the exercise of freely distributing fonts in Tamil, Telugu, Bengali, Gurmukhi and all the 22 major Indian languages in the next six months. Preparations to launch Hindi fonts are underway for next month.

“As a first step in this direction, various Tamil language fonts, e-mail client in Tamil, OCR, spell checker, dictionary (English-English-Tamil) and (Tamil-Tamil-English), Tamil typing tutor, etc, were released in public domain for use by the masses on April 15, the Tamil New Years Day,” said Maran. "All Indian languages are expected to be covered in the next one year."

Telugu Politics: "Maharadhi to float new party"

"GUNTUR: Cine writer Tripuraneni Maharadhi is planning to float a new political party to ensure empowerment of weaker sections.

Speaking to newsmen here , he said so far all the political parties had failed to ensure a equal share to the backward classes due to the dominance of the upper caste leadership in those parties.

He said he had been touring the state to discuss the nature of the new political party in which leadership will arise from the cadre ensuring internal democracy. The new party will chalk out programmes for the integrated development of the State, he said.

NT Rama Rao had succeeded in restoring Telugu pride and self-respect, he said. But, he deplored that later N Chandrababu Naidu had mortgaged Telugu pride to the World Bank."

Monday, April 25, 2005

Indian Television: Zee Telugu to relaunch on 18 May

25 April 2005
"MUMBAI: Zee Telefilms is working on a new recipe to take grip of the Telugu language market which has been traditionally under the dominance of Gemini TV and ETV Telugu.

Come 18 May Zee Telugu will adorn a a new avatar and focus on audiences that has not specifically been addressed by the other channels. The relaunch will see a shift in positioning - From the mass based general entertainment mode to an upwardly mobile and young milieu.

The new strategy will see Zee Telugu targeting the SEC ABC (15 - 34) group. Apparently, the Telugu space till date has no definite positioning from any channel, as they either offer mass based general entertainment or news based programmes. Now, Zee Telugu, with its redefinition of its TG, will try and capture a space where class programming will be offered.

"It will be a battle of "class Vs mass programming," points out a Zee official.

The vision is to have a definite positioning that can stand apart from what is currently being offered. To add momentum to its Telugu plans, Zee had appointed former ETV hand Ajay Kumar as senior vice-president and business head in February this year.

Post Zee Telugu's launch, the channel hopes to spruce up its channel share to about 8-10 per cent, four to six months hence. On the pogramming front, the channel is currently working with reputed content providers and hoping to gain a lot more channel share after the facelift.

If one looks at the current standing of the Telugu channel, it garners less that one per cent of channel share in the market. The leaders of the Telugu space are Gemini TV and ETV.

Zee's other regional channels will also be a key area of focus in the days to come considering 40 per cent of viewership comes from down South."

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Andhra newsletter gives rural women a voice

Here's a story from March of this year but still worth posting. It's from
"Andhra newsletter gives rural women a voice
Chittoor (Andhra Pradesh), March 13 : Over three years after it was launched with some trepidation and lots of hope, a small rural Telugu newsletter has caught the imagination of thousands in Andhra Pradesh. In that short period, "Navodayam" has become a shining example in rural journalism, showing how information can be a tool to empower poor women in rural areas, reports Grassroots Features. Produced by women, Navodayam covers news from 35 pockets of Chittoor district and sells 20,000 copies a month. With the mainstream media failing to reach far-flung areas, rural women depend on Navodayam to tell their stories.

"Mainstream dailies have a life span of just one day. But Navodayam lives for the entire month and gets read in all meetings of women's self help groups. It reaches the interiors where major newspapers can't," says M. Rathnaimme, the editor who runs the magazine. She added: "I used to be a non-entity in my village, but now I command great respect. I receive letters addressing me as editor." According to one estimate, about 200,000 women in Chittoor district have come to identify with the magazine. "We have highlighted problems such as poor health and transport facilities and bad roads and raised awareness among women," she says.

Navodayam was launched in August 2001 as a quarterly newsletter under a poverty alleviation scheme of the state government. Growing in popularity, it soon turned into a monthly. Navodayam reports on domestic violence, drinking among men, child marriage and entrepreneurship avenues for women. It has also made women conscious of their rights. "Earlier, when a man used to beat up his wife, there was hardly any protest. Now self help group members are not afraid to intervene," says Manjula, a Navodayam journalist. "Our reports on development issues have created substantial impact and found solutions to several problems," adds Bharti, another colleague. The newsletter is produced by 10 reporters and 20 contributors. Since its launch, about 60 rural women have worked in it as reporters, writers, editors and page designers. "The reporters are literate rural women. They have been trained in news gathering and filing copy," says B. Kiran Kumari, a consultant with Navodayam.

Community activists regularly discuss the articles carried in the newsletter.

The Navodayam model of women's empowerment is now being tried by self help groups in 10 other districts of the state. Despite its success, Navodayam faces two major challenges - sustainability and independence. Being a government project, the reporters are often unable to write about corruption in government departments. Even then, its impact has been recognised. "Each issue of Navodayam is a training module on poverty eradication efforts," says Kiran Kumari.

--Indo-Asian News Service"

Manuscripts of Telugu Poet Saint Missing

From The Times of India:
"Rare manuscripts sent to US sans clearance missing
HYDERABAD/TIRUPATI: Some 1,500 precious talapatrams (palm leaf manuscripts) containing some of the compositions of 15th century Telugu poet-saint Tallapaka Annamacharya have gone missing from the Tirumala temple since they were illegally sent to the US, apparently to have them digitised.

The manuscripts were in the custody of the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD), which administers the temple. Ostensibly to store them in a more permanent format, the TTD's central library was told to hand over a bundle of about 1,500 talapatrams to one 'Sriram of Sanfransisco' (sic) in January 2004.

Documents available with The Times of India show that the librarian handed over the bundle on Jan 17, 2004 after taking an acknowledgement, which reads: "The palm leaves bundle is being taken over as per the directions of the executive officer, TTD (Ajeya Kallam) during the national conference on digital library held at Bangalore on January 15, 2004."

The manuscripts have not been returned since, and there is no trace of them. TTD officials are now clueless about the exact number of manuscripts given to 'Sriram of Sanfransisco'.

Sources said the TTD authorities chose to send the talapatrams to the US without seeking the approval of the TTD board of trustees or the Union government. According to Section 2(A)(1) (iii) and (iv) of the Antiquities and Art Treasures Act 1972, talapatrams are antiquities. Export of such antiquities without the permission of the central government or an authorised agency is prohibited under provision 3 of the law.

The talapatrams contain some compositions by Annamacharya and his commentaries on the Puranas and the Vedas. During his lifetime, the composer penned more than 32,000 songs in praise of Lord Venkateswara, the presiding deity of the Tirumala temple. While many of them have been lost, some 12,000 have been found and preserved, some in the form of copper plate inscriptions commissioned by contemporary kings. Apart from the songs of devotion, the compositions contain rich information about contemporary society."

Sri Ramadasu

From Sify Movies:
"Nagarjuna and Raghavendra Rao are together again on a religious trip to make their magnum opus Sri Ramadasu based on Bhakta Ramadas who lived probably hundred years back. He is venerated by Telugu speaking people as one of their great saint poets devoted in the worship and praise of Lord Shri Rama.

The Pooja of the film was held on April16, Saturday at Ramalayam temple in Jubilee Hills, Hyderabad. The film is produced by Konda Krishna Raju of Aditya productions. Music is by M.M.Keeravani, who will be providing about 20 songs mainly based on the poet laureate’s works.

Last time Nag and Raghavendra Rao came together was for the devotional Annamayya, which became a blockbuster. Nag is spotting a ‘new look’ with long hair and beard for the role and the shooting will start in July."

Name That Film

From Sify Movies:
"Why is it that all big Telugu heroes refuse to name their films till the last minute? It is a new game played out by superstars, which the trade feel is working against the film.

Chiranjeevi, NTR, Nagarjuna and Balakrishna are yet to name their new films which are scheduled to release in May and June. No where in the world is a film named just a fortnight before its release!

It may sound bizarre, but Telugu superstars and their producers think that it is some kind of a state secret which they should not reveal till the last minute! In such cases the recall value associated with the films is nil as fans and trade are left confused.

And when the channels start telecasting songs from these films, people get more confused and they comment - “I have seen this dance number before”. It spoils the newness of the promo as there is no recall value.

Some of the films releasing in May with no titles are- Chiranjeevi’s film with Seenu Vytila for producer Allu Aravind, Nag’s home production directed by Poori Jaganathan, NTR’s B.Gopal directed film for producer Chegala Venkat Rao.

The basic rule of marketing is to identify a product which sells on its name and time has to be given for the title to grow on the audience. So will the superstars do something about it?"

Birthday finds Naidu in a pensive mood:

"Wednesday, April 20, 2005
[India News] Hyderabad,The cycle of life has taken a sharp turn from last year to this, leaving Telugu Desam Party (TDP) chief and former Andhra Pradesh chief minister N. Chandrababu Naidu pensive and preoccupied on his 55th birthday Wednesday.

It is nearly a year since Naidu lost power in a state he ruled from 1995 to 2004, and his followers found him in a philosophical mood when they went to wish him."
Read more here.

'Chandramukhi' tops Telugu Film Charts

"Hyderabad, April 22 (IANS) Tamil superstar Rajnikanth's charisma seems to have spilled over to Andhra Pradesh, as his "Chandramukhi" has opened to a terrific response.

1. "Chandramukhi": With Rajnikanth assuring that it would be his kind of film despite an off-beat plot, audiences are thronging theatres to watch the tricks of the veteran star. Will this prove to be his comeback film?

2. "Mumbai Xpress": Kamal Haasan's comic caper is registering good collections in A centres and is bound to catch up in other centres. Ilaiyaraja's numbers are already a big hit.

3. "Bunny": The teaming up of Allu Arjun and Vinayak has resulted in a huge opening but the stale plot could shatter Arjun's dream of a hat-trick. Good dances and action boost the film, but its similarities with "Aadi" could go against it.

4. "Avunnana Kadanna": Director Teja's overconfidence is evident since he has chosen neither a good plot nor a gripping narration and just rehashed "Jayam". Patnaik has tried to salvage the film with a few foot-tapping numbers.

5. "Sankranth": Venkatesh's family drama has crossed 50 days in more than 170 centres and is expected to survive the onslaught of two big, dubbed films. Director Siva's slow-paced screenplay seems to have worked in this case."

Andhra Pradesh Folksinger Shankar Dies

From The Hindu:
"AP folk singer dead

Warangal, April 18. (UNI): Noted folk singer Shankar died following heart attack at his residence in Kumarpally village today.

He was 42, and is survived by his wife and two children.

Shankar had sung for more than 30 Telugu feature films.

He became popular with his folk song "Bandenaka Bandi Katti".

Shankar toured the entire state as an artiste of Praja Natya Mandali, a cultural-wing of Communist Party of India(CPI) and released a number of private cassettes. Most of his songs were sung in Telangana dialect. He was a panel artiste of AIR, Vijaywada."

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

A patriotic Telugu film

From WebIndia123 via IANS:
After a long time, a patriotic Telugu film
Hyderabad, April 20 : After playing a trigger-happy cop in "Gharshana" and a noble brother in "Sankranthi", Venkatesh will play a patriot in his next, much-awaited release "Subhas Chandra Bose".

"Except for the title, it will have nothing to do with revered patriot Subhas Chandra Bose. But we will justify the usage in the due course of the film," says the lanky actor, who will sport long hair to fit into the period-film.

"After browsing through a few sketches, we approved this fascinating look," says Venky.

He describes the film as the tale of a "fictitious character" who takes on the might of the British during the days of freedom struggle.

About his teaming up with legendary director K. Raghavendra Rao, he says: "It has been long since I worked with Rao and the plot definitely has a commercial potential which the director can tap."

Shreya and Genelia play the female leads. "It's a cute role," says Genelia.

Hit filmmaker Raghavendra Rao, who had lately drifted towards devotionals like "Annamayya" and "Sri Manjunatha", is doing a regular potboiler after a long gap. But going by the publicity material released by the producers, it seems the veteran director has not lost his touch for well-mounted, glamorous song sequences.

He has again extracted delightful tunes from top composer Mani Sharma. The film's audio is already a smashing success.

Reputed producer Aswini Dutt, known for lavish productions like "Chudalani Undi" and "Indra", has left no stone unturned to come up with another memorable film in the 26th year of his production house.

Trade pundits will watch the performance of "Subhas Chandra Bose" keenly because it has been a long time since a patriotic Telugu film hit the theatres.


Saturday, April 16, 2005

The Wisdom of Poets: Studies in Tamil, Telugu, and Sanskrit

An article from The Indian Express by Jaithirth Rao:

Enter, the Hebrew sutradhar
David Shulman holds up a mirror to India’s past and present art and culture

"Between board meetings and trysts with spread-sheets, I am suddenly blessed. Sitting in the corner next to the TV, I discover a gem that I had read a while ago. It was time to revisit Yaksha’s pool and drink from its enigmatic waters — waters that hurt, heal and reveal in succession. The book in question is The Wisdom of Poets: Studies in Tamil, Telugu, and Sanskrit by David Shulman."

Read more here.

Telugu Movie Wallpapers and Trailers

Visit IndiaGlitz for your favorite Telugu film news and imagery. They have wallpaper too.

Telugu Students Deprived of Learning Telugu

Telugu students deprived of learning their language
"The Telugu community here faces a unique problem increasing alienation of the younger generation from its language and culture. Although the youngsters can speak Telugu, most of them are not capable of reading or writing the language. "If this trend continues, the time is not far when the present generation would not be able to speak the language", rues an elder member of the community.

Lack of efforts to promote education in Telugu medium is to blame for this situation. While not many years back there were at least five Telugu medium schools in the city and its vicinity, today only one of them functions properly, points out general secretary of Integrated Katak Youth Amity Telugu Association (IKYATA) G. Kailash Rao.

With the government not extending support to these schools, many of them face the problem of either staff shortage or poor infrastructure. As a result, some of them including Diwan Bazaar Telugu school, Railway Telugu school, Chowdwar Telugu school and Sutahat Telugu school have been converted into full-fledged Oriya medium schools. No wonder, Telugus have been forced to send their children to Oriya and English medium schools. In such a situation, it is not possible to expect the young generation to have an in-depth knowledge of their own language, Rao claims.

The situation has worsened to such an extent that even two prominent libraries, the Telugu Karuna Samajam library at Oriya Bazaar and UMSS library at Diwan Bazaar have closed down. The two libraries, which housed many books on Telugu literature were in a dilapidated state for a long time before closure. Concerned over these disturbing trends, members of the Telugu community have now geared up to ensure that future generations will not be ignorant about their language and culture. In fact, they are running the only Telugu medium school in the city, Pat-apol school, at their own expenses. The school now known as Kalinga Telugu Medium School imparts education to over 400 students between classes one and seven. The students then opt for private tuition and appear for matriculation examination in Andhra Pradesh, IKYATA president K Bhaskar Rao said."

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

"Still a Devi"

The Deccan Herald has a story on famous Telugu film star Sridevi.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Respecting Telugu Sentiments: Naming an Airport

This is a news item from last month (March 15th) but is still worth reading. (Source: PTI News)
Naidu asks Cong to respect Telugu sentiments
New Delhi, Mar 15 : Joining issue with the Congress over the naming of the new greenfield airport at Hyderabad after former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, former BJP President M Venkaiah Naidu today asked the Centre to reconsider the decision and "not hurt Telugu sentiments."
New Delhi, Mar 15 : Joining issue with the Congress over the naming of the new greenfield airport at Hyderabad after former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, former BJP President M Venkaiah Naidu today asked the Centre to reconsider the decision and "not hurt Telugu sentiments."

"BJP strongly protests against this decision and urges the Government to reconsider the entire issue and respect the sentiments of the Telugus", he told reporters here.

Recalling the incident involving then Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister T Anjaiah and late Rajiv Gandhi, he said, "in such a situation, the Telugu Atma Gaurava (pride) should not be invoked again. The UPA should not complicate matters. If they do too much, it would prove counterproductive".

Naidu, who was flanked by former Civil Aviation Minister Ananth Kumar, said both the state and Union cabinets had in 1999 decided to name the domestic airport after late N T Rama Rao and the international terminal after Rajiv Gandhi.

Demanding that both names should be retained in the new airport coming up at Shamshabad, he charged the Congress with "wanting to change everything with a vengeance".

Claiming that several watershed, housing and even tsunami rehabilitation schemes have been named after "one family", he said the NDA Government had named airports after local heroes such as Birsa Munda and Gopinath Bordoloi.

Taking exception to Congress President Sonia Gandhi being invited to lay the airport's foundation, he said, "it is a question of propriety. They want to politicise and take advantage. The Prime Minister is the leader of the nation and he should have been invited."

Ugadi Wishes

Hope everyone had fun celebrating Ugadi (Telugu New Year) on Saturday, April 9th!!

Lucknow Newsline has an article on the holiday.

Happy Ugadi everyone!!

Update: More links pertaining to Ugadi celebrations.
The Hindu
Gulf Daily News
The Times of India

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Telugu Desam Party Condemns BJP

(Source) NewindPress:
"In a development which signals a possible realignment of political forces, the Telugu Desam Party on Thursday expressed serious displeasure over the BJP, its ally, retracting to the Hindutva agenda."
Read more here.

Mother and Daughter Consume Poison After Argument Over Telugu Soap Opera

A mother and daughter from Hyderabad tragically consumed poison after having an argument; the conflict was triggered by a Telugu soap opera. The two later died at Osmania General Hospital. Read more at the Times of India.

Ugadi Discussed in Telugu Amid Tamilnadu Assembly

(Source) NewsToday:
"Chennai, Apr 6: Most members of the Tamilnadu Assembly had a bewildered look on their faces in the House today when Congress member Gopinath raised an issue in Telugu leaving them wondering as to what he was saying. Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, who replied to the Congress member in Telugu later translated the same for the other members when Gnanasekaran (Congress) said that no one (except Gopinath and the Chief Minister) understood what was said.

The Chief Minister said that the Congress MLA (Gopinath) had said that Ugadi (Telugu new year) fell on 9 April and wanted it to be declared a holiday as lot of Telugu people were residing in the State. Jayalalithaa told Gopinath that she would check if there was a provision of restricted holiday for Ugadi and if it was not the case she would make the necessary arrangements. The Chief Minister also conveyed her Ugadi wishes to all Telugu and Kannada-speaking people in the State."

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Indian Catholics Mourn Pope John Paul II

India is in a three-day mourning period for Pope John Paul II. Two percent (about 20 million) of India's population is Catholic and are grieving the loss of their religious leader who died on Saturday. The Catholic Bishop's Conference of India has a tribute on their website for the Pontiff. The website also enables you to locate the Dioceses of the nation, including those in Andhra Pradesh for Telugu speaking Catholics.

The Deccan Chronicle has a report on the Pope's death:
"Mumbai, April 3: Cardinal Ivan Dias of Mumbai is one of the three Indian cardinals who will be winging their way to Rome to participate in the election of the next Pope. Cardinal Dias, according to several sources, is among the 10 cardinals worldwide who are frontrunners to become Vicar of Rome, or global head of the world’s one billion Catholics.

The three cardinals going to Rome are Ivan Dias, Varkey Vithayathil from Kochi and Telesphore Toppo from Ranchi. Of the five cardinals in India, two — including Mumbai’s Cardinal Simon Pimenta — are not eligible because they have crossed the age of 80. President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, meanwhile, led the nation in paying homage to the Pope. Dr Singh visited the embassy of the Holy See (Vatican) in New Delhi and signed the condolence register.

President Kalam said: “I am deeply saddened on the passing away of Pope John Paul II. The world has lost a church leader and a statesman who throughout his life worked for human dignity and freedom and for the needy and oppressed. He tirelessly worked for peace on this planet and to establish an international order based on equality and justice.”

Later, in a condolence message to the Vatican, Dr Kalam said: “The demise of His Holiness Pope John Paul II was received with deep shock and profound sorrow by the people of India, who considered him a champion of world peace and harmony... His unending encouragement of human values endeared him to Indians of all faiths.”

In his message, Dr Manmohan Singh said: “He was a people’s Pope, who led the Catholic Church through a period of historic changes. He was an iconic figure for three decades, in particular as a beacon of unflinching moral values.” In Kolkata, Sister Nirmala, the superior-general of the Missionaries of Charity, told reporters that the Pontiff’s death would not affect the process of sainthood for Mother Teresa. Sister Nirmala said that she would be going to Rome to attend the funeral."

"Telugu Movie Makes Waves in Johannesburg"

From IANS via NewKerala:
"[India News] Johannesburg, April 3 : The Andhra community of South Africa has been thrilled by the efforts of an Indian filmmaker who has brought the first Telugu language movie to cinemas here. Shyam Kumar of Chennai decided to bring "Balu ABCDEFG" to South Africa after he started a business here and found that while local cinemas made provision for Bollywood films, nobody catered to the needs of the south Indian community, which makes up about two thirds of the 1.2 million Indian South Africans. In the KwaZulu-Natal province, where a majority of these Indians live, "Balu ABCDEFG" attracted huge interest when it was first screened. The "ABCDEFG" part of the tile stands for "A Boy Can Do Everything For Girls".

A Telugu film had never been shown anywhere in the country since Indians first arrived in 1860 as indentured labourers for sugarcane plantations. The screening in Johannesburg was a first for not only Gauteng but all four former provinces which make up the old Transvaal Province, according to the president of the Transvaal Andhra Sabha, Sam Naidoo. The Transvaal was divided into four separate provinces after the advent of democracy in 1994. But due to the low number of Andhra-speaking people in the region, the representative body decided to retain its old name.

The Telugu movie industry is the second most prolific in India after Bollywood. A local MP, Sisa Njikelana, the chief guest at the screening, guffawed loudly with everyone else at the comic scenes in the film. Njikelana, of Zulu stock, explained his appreciation of Indian films: "From the first time I saw a Hindi film in Durban in 1984, I was very touched by the values in these films. "It struck me that today I was encountering a new Indian language, but to me what is exciting, enjoyable, inspiring and enriching is again the richness of the Indian culture; the values that get expressed, such as good over evil. Even though the dancing is in Western style, the Indians have developed their own unique style." Kumar said he planned to bring a second Telugu movie and some Tamil films to South Africa soon."

(Source: Indo-Asian News Service)