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    Dated : Sunday, July 02, 2017

Lights, Camera, Action: Journey of Versatile Nishita

Nishita Goswami was born in a Brahmin family,
of Moloya Goswami and Pradip Goswami. Her father, Pradip Goswami retired as the Chief Engineer of Assam State Electricity Board. Her mother, Moloya Goswami was the first Assamese actress to win the National Film Award in the Best Actress’ category for her performance in the Assamese film Firingoti (1992). Having the atoms
of acting flowing in the DNA, Nishita also walked on her mother's footsteps and kick-started her acting career at the age of six, as a child artist in Sagar Sangam Sarkar's Rati Phula Phool (in 1988), followed by Mon (in 2000), which was directed by Bani Das. She has done several films including, Kadambari, Dinabandhu, Astaraag and Mon Jaai. Some of them have won the National Award for Best Regional Film category. 
Gradually, she is also ushering into the film industry as a director. Her first directorial product was Search, a  movie based on the gay rights, released in 2006. She is also a Sangeet Visharad in Classical music from Bhatkhande Music Institute. This multi-talented actress, doesn't believe in any shortcuts for instant glamour, money and fame, which dwell temporarily, making one fall prey of depression. She believes and so expresses that one should think about the family's values, prestige,
and self respect, before taking a shortcut.
Tell us about yourself.
I was born and brought up in Guwahati.  I studied in  Kendriya Vidyalaya, Jagi Road, Assam, after which, I pursued graduation in Arts from Handique Girls college, Guwahati. I also completed my bachelor's and master's degrees in Education (B.Ed & M.Ed) from Guwahati University and a diploma course in Mass Communication from Regional Institute of Journalism and Mass Communication (RIJAM), Assam. In 2011, I got married.
You got into acting at the age of 6. Was it your dream to be an actress? To what extent your acting has led you to compromise with your studies? 
Yes, that's true. Since childhood, it has been my dream to become an actress. Acting has been my passion. Having a keen acumen for it, I always took part in the plays, competitions, or any cultural activities that was held at my school. I never compromised with my studies as my mother would never support me in anything else other than my studies. So, I completed my studies, to create a balance and then started getting serious about my acting line. I have acted in over 20 Assamese films and in a Bengali film. The Bengali film was Coolie, directed by Swapan Saha with Mithun Chakraborty as the lead actor.
Was your family supportive of your decision to make a career in acting?
Yes, they have always been supportive of my decisions since the childhood, as long as I never sacrificed my studies for it. They have never refrained me from chasing my dreams, rather encouraged to do what I love. 
Is there any upcoming film venture in your basket?
We have a home production house. Sayan Chakravarty,
my husband, is the pillar of the production house. He has a script that he worked on it for almost two and a half year to complete it. Soon, we will start our pre-production work.
It is expected to be completed and released after a year.
The theme moves around a relevant social issue, which has a strong message to the society. 
Out of all roles that you have played, in Ramdhenu, Suren Suror Putek, and Monjaai,  which one did you enjoy or connect with, the most and why?
It is very difficult for me to distinguish though. I would say, in my first movie, Mon the  character ‘Radha’ was one of the memorable roles I have played. Radha is absolutely like me. She is completely like the way I act and be in real life.
I could easily connect myself with her. That is why this movie is close to my heart. I would like to thank Mr. Bani Das, the director of that film, for offering me such a wonderful role. However, one of the hallmark movies in my entire career is "Dinabandhu" till now.  
You are also a Director and have done many documentary Films. Tell us about it.
My husband has actually helped me in making a foray into the director's work. He has helped me a lot in writing scripts and creating the entire production. My first project for direction was for a documentary movie based on the gay rights, Search (2006), followed by a feature theme based on the Manas National Park namely, Manas (2007).
Other movies are Saath Jon Saki Ek Joni Rakhoshi, a children's play on behalf of Arahan (Dr BhabendraNath Saikia Welfare Trust); Xantosixto Hristopusto Mohadusto, a talent show for children; and Temples and Monuments of Assam, for Assam Tourism Department.
At times, it becomes difficult to cope up or handle both the roles as an actress and a director. The pressure becomes higher as both the roles have a different approach and deliverables. As a  director, one has to manage all the things related to making a film, holistically, starting from pre-production arrangements for recording (production) to producing the final  product (post-production work). 
How do you balance your work and private lives?
Frankly speaking, I have never faced any problems or difficulties in my marriage and I owe it, especially, to my in-laws, who are very supportive of me and my career. They are very flexible and understand the situations. Nothing has actually changed after marriage. I'm working with dedication even now as I was, before marriage.
My husband is like a friend to me and has been always there with me during my ups and downs. 
Given a chance to work with Bollywood, who would you like to work with, and in what genre of movies?
I have never thought of entering into Bollywood. Right now, I just want to concentrate on my work and projects.
I don't want to leave my hometown. I love my place and
I would like to remain a part of the Assamese Film Industry forever. Still, if you ask me who I would like to work with, then it has to be Salman Khan. He is my favorite actor and
I am his big fan.  
As far as the preferred genres are concerned, I would like to work in such movies which has an impact on the society or which can bring in a positive revolution in the society.
Of all the directors you have worked with, who is your favorite one or you would like to work with most?
It is quite difficult  for me to name just one.
As all the Directors have given me the lead roles that are also crucial to the story. I am who I am today, because of my directors. I have worked with Munin Barua in three movies (including Dinabandhu);
with Dhiraj Kashyap in two movies and with many other directors like M. Maniram, Mustaq Ahmed, Chandra Mudoi and more. I enjoyed working with all my directors, especially, with Mr. Bani Das,
with whom I have worked in two movies (including Mon). He is a very down-to-earth person, who has a good knack of adapting to the situation. But I would cherish working with each director as it is always a learning-acting-yearning (for better) kind of work.
Rapid Fire:-
. Favourite Actor/ Actress: my favourite actress would be my mother ‘Moloya Goswami’ and favourite actor would be Salman Khan and Jatin Bora
. Favourite Food: Chinese and South Indian food
. Favourite holiday destination: Paris and Switzerland
. Motto of life: "To stay positive and be happy"
Message for the readers:
I wish them good luck in their endeavours. I want them to remember that we should learn to stay positive and not allow any negativity surround us.
Be hopeful and follow your dreams. One of the important things I want to tell the younger generation, "we have a lot of responsibilities towards our society. We should come together to rinse all the dirt or immoral acts from our society and make our society a better place to live in.
Your life and achievements pose an example for many. Please share a few words for the women.
Speak out, be bold and brave. Just step out of your home and do what you love and whatever captures your heart. Never give up on your dreams. Also, women should learn to speak out for themselves, else people will take their advantage.
If somebody is trying to harm you, you have to learn to speak out without caring about what the society will think about you. Stand for yourself, when it is the right thing for you. 
When I used to be a young girl I used to come across mixed reviews or news pieces about me including the negative ones, I used to take a lot of stress then, but now I have learned my lessons; hence, work accordingly. With time,
you become more mature and gain experience in tackling such problems. The only mantra to deal with such situations is to ignore the negativity around you and shut people from your life who are harming your growth and development. 
What I feel is that there is no difference in being a girl or boy. Everything that a boy can do,
a girl can also do the same. Women of this era have gone miles to chase their dream and have achieved several milestones. The only diet of their success is to not have self-faith deficiency. 
Believe in yourself to brave the odds & add feathers to your hat.

The New Brand of Feminism

By Debika Dutta
“Look at that girl… she is yet to get married. How will her parents be at peace if she remains a spinster?”
“She always returns home late. How come her family members allow her to do that?
Some of you might be thinking whether such kind of medieval mentality still exists in our society. Sadly, it does. The lines I quoted in the beginning of the article are still heard frequently in many places of our so-called civil society. The entire mindset related to women in our civil society is yet to change. 
Things are apparently changing for women at the surface level. We organize meetings, seminars and television talk shows on the empowerment of women, we shout and voice our dissent, we prepare long research papers … and then, yes , at the end of the day, we still remain at that very point where all these began… 
Often a woman becomes a victim of violence - from domestic violence to the mischievous tactics of anti-social elements. In our society, women are treated like mere objects; they are measured by certain social norms. Unfortunately while beauty pageants are being organized to celebrate the beauty of women, while odes are written in honour of womanhood, at the same time, some women are being raped and killed, some mothers are being thrown out of their houses, some women are being burnt for dowry and all those who are raising their voice against these issues are being stigmatized.
This story of discrimination against women has been narrated since the middle ages and the saga continues even in our age today. Popular writer Khaled Hosseini narrates a passage in his novel, The Thousand Splendid Suns. In the novel, one of the main characters Rashid tells Mariam, "But I am a different breed of man, Mariam. Where I come from, one wrong look, one improper word, and blood is spilled. Where I come from, a woman's face is her husband's business only. I want you to remember that. Do you understand?"
And because of this old yet stubborn saga, I am slowly being transformed into a feminist. But let me clarify something here. I am not talking about the somewhat stereotyped concept of feminism which raises certain issues like "no use of cosmetics" or "no use of bras". For me, feminism is not about these issues. Being a woman, one may or may not use cosmetics, one may wear a bra or one may not. The choice is entirely hers. 
There are many such rules for women which are outside the ambit of the judiciary, rules which are fixed by the medieval mindset of patriarchal society. For example, the husband is the authority in the life of a married woman; he is the one who decides what she should do and what she should not do. That is why the Rashids, as highlighted in Hossein's novel, are so demanding! 
Likewise, a woman has to be respectful to her husband. But what about the respect due to her? This question often disturbs many women. Because we all know that we should be respectful, not only to the elders, but to each and every individual. Old or young, we should respect each and every one's feelings.
Then how comes that we find, on many occasions, a husband ill-treating his wife? Why is it that women are considered to be inferior to men? This type of mindset is almost nauseating! 
The most essential step for us is to raise our voice; our inner voice which can help all those voiceless women who are living in pain and misery get back their voice. As you can see, I am drifting towards feminism. The brand of feminism that I perceive will bring strength to those, from my gender, who are still deprived, exploited and neglected. According to my own dictionary, feminism refers to equality between men and women; feminism for me is not about demands for reservation for women. Feminism, for me, is not about according any special status to women. Feminism is, after all, about being confident… Feminism is the ability to question and be free and take things to its logical conclusion.
And hence, for these issues, many women like me are slowly embracing feminism; not for the sake of propaganda, not for the sake of earning name and fame as a woman crusader. Let me sum up with these highly relevant words of Maya Angelou:
“I love to see a young girl go out and grab the world by the lapels. Life's a bitch. You've got to go out and kick ass.”


Sharmila Tagore
Born on December 8, 1946 in Hyderabad, Sharmila Tagore, is one of the legendary Indian actress, who has number of hit Hindi films in her chequered acting career.   Daughter of Gitindranath Tagore, a general manager in the British India Corporation and Ira Tagore, who came from an Assamese family, Sharmila was distantly related to the Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore. Sharmila, who married Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi, made her film debut when she was a 13-year-old schoolgirl, after which her studies lost priority, and she never finished school.  Within a short while, her results in school became very bad, her attendance levels were very low, she came to be regarded as a bad influence on her classmates, and was faced with a choice of either doing films or studying further.
She  began her career as an actress in Satyajit Ray’s 1959 Bengali film Apur Sansar (The World of Apu), as the ill-fated bride of the title character but she managed to establish herself as a popular Hindi film actress with Shakti Samanta’s Kashmir Ki Kali with Shammi Kapoor in 1964. Samanta again cast her in many more hit films, notably An Evening in Paris (1967), again with Shammi, the first appearance in a bikini of an Indian actress which not only shocked conservative Indian audiences but also set off a wave of bikini-clad actresses carried forward by Parveen Babi, Zeenat Aman and Dimple Kapadia but established Tagore’s role as somewhat of a sex symbol in Bollywood Wearing a bikini put her name in the Indian press as one of Bollywood’s ten hottest actresses of all time.
She is best remembered for her 9 films opposite Rajesh Khanna that included Aradhana, Safar, Amar Prem, Chhoti Bahu, Daag , Raja Rani and Avishkaar. She starred in Gulzar’s , Mausam and won the National Film Award for Best Actress. She also played a supporting role in Mira Nair’s Mississippi Masala. She was the highest paid Bollywood actress from 1970 to 1976 along with Mumtaz. She starred opposite Dharmendra in Devar (1966), Anupama (1966), Mere Hamdam Mere Dost (1968), Satyakam (1969), Yakeen (1969), Chupke Chupke (1975) and Ek Mahal Ho Sapno Ka (1975); Amitabh Bachchan in Faraar (1975); Sanjeev Kumar in Mausam (1975), and Besharam (1978); and Naseeruddin Shah in the Bengali film Mangaldeep (1991). Tagore, who started her acting career in Bengali films, has acted in 13 Bengali movies latest one being Anataheen (2009) by Anirudha Roy Choudhury.
She has received several awards including National Film Awards and Filmfare Awards and Lifetime Achievement Awards for her performances. She served as Chairman of the Indian Film Censor Board from October 2004 till March 2011. In December 2005 she was chosen as an UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador. She was one of the International Competition’s Jury Members at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival. She got Padma Bhushan award in 2013 for her contribution to Indian cinema.

Vegetable Korma (Sabzi Karma)

Preparation time: 30 minutes, plus soaking
Cooking time: 15 minutes
Serves: 4
Each serving contains:
Kcals: 251; g fat: 13.4; g saturated fat: 2.5
300ml skimmed or semi-skimmed milk 
30g unroasted cashew nut pieces (kacche kaju)
15g sunflower seeds
225g carrots, cut diagonally into 3mm slices (Tedhe kate hue gaajar)
125g baby corn cobs (chhote makke)
2 teaspoons lemon juice (nimbu ka ras)
125g green beans, cut into 5cm pieces 
340g cauliflower, divided into 2.5cm florates (phoolgobhi)
2 tablespoons sunflower or soya oil 
½ teaspoon royal cumin or caraway seeds (jeera ya kaala jeera)
2.5cm piece of cinnamon seeds (dalchini ke beej)
4 green cardmon pods, bruised (tode hue elaichi)
1 small onion, finely chopped (bareek kate hue pyaaz)
1 teaspoon Ginger Puree (adrak ki puree)
1 teaspoon Garlic Puree (lahsun ki puree)
1 tablespoon Ground Roasted Coriander (bhune aur peese hue dhaiye ke beej)
½ teaspoon chilli powder (mirch powder)
225g Boilled Onion Puree (pyaaz ki puree)
1 teaspoon salt to taste (namak swaad anusaar)
. Bring half the milk to the boil, remove from the heat and add the cashews and sunflower seeds. Leave to soak for 15-20 minutes, then puree until smooth in a blender
. Put the carrots and corn in a saucepan and add 450ml water. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to mediun and cook, uncovered, for 5 minutes
. Add the lemon juice and beans, then pile the cauliflower on top. Cover the pan and cook for a further 5 minutes. Stir to reposition the vegetables halfway through
. Spread out the vegetables, along with their cooking liquid, in a large dish or roasting tin. This will prevent the vegetables from overcooking
. Heat the oil over low heat in a non-stick saucepan, about 30cm in diameter, and add the royal cumin seeds or caraway seeds, cinnamon stick and cardamom pods. Allow the spices to sizzle gently for 20-25 seconds, then add the onion, and ginger and garlic purees. Increase the heat slightly and fry the ingredients for 5-6 minutes or until the onions are soft
. Add the ground coriander and chilli powder, cook for 30 seconds, then stir in the onion puree and cook for 3-4 minutes
. Stir in the salt, vegetables with all their cooking liquid, the blended cashew mixture and the remaining milk. Bring to simmering point, then cook for 5 minutes, stirring once or twice. Serve with Saffron Rice and Beetroot Raita 
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What a man can be, he must be. This need we call self-actualization.
— Abraham Maslow
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