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Bollywood making a dozen films on Indian sports stars

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BY S VENKAT NARAYAN,

Our Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI:

Encouraged by the success of biopics made on sports personalities/events during the past three decades, Bollywood is now planning to make at least a dozen films on popular Indian sports stars.

Since 1992, Bollywood has produced 15 sports-based films in Hindi. Together, they earned INR 40 billion at the box office. And as many as eight of them had made over a billion Indian rupees each.

Waiting to hit theatres soon is a film simply titled ’83. It about India winning the Cricket World Cup in 1983 under Kapil Dev’s captaincy. Directed by Kabir Khan, actor Ranveer Singh plays Kapil Dev’s role.

Hockey legend Dhyan Chand is the subject of a biopic filmmaker Abhishek Chaubey is working on.

The other sports-based projects include Maidan, in which Ajay Devgn plays football coach Syed Abdul Rahim; Ashutosh Gowariker’s Toolsidas Junior; Tiger Shroff’s Ghanpat; Farhan Akhtar-starrer Toofan; and Shahid Kapoor’s Jersey.

While these films are about male characters, several biopics are in the pipeline about female sports stars, too. Cricketer Virat Kohli’s film star-wife Anushka Sharma will reportedly play cricketer Jhulan Goswami. Taapsee Pannu will star in a sports drama called Rashmi Rocket. She will portray Jhulan Goswami’s teammate Mithali Raj, who has led the Indian cricket team.

Actress Parineeti Chopra is busy with her next, a biopic of badminton star Saina Nehwal. Biopics on tennis player Sania Mirza and badminton player PV Sindhu have also been announced.

The enormous success of earlier films made on sports stars and events is clearly what has encouraged filmmakers to undertake so many new sports-based projects in the hope of raking in the moolah.

Dangal, made in 2016 about a wrestler training his daughters into medal-winning wrestlers for the country, was the most popular of them all. Starring Aamir Khan, it earned INR 20 billion at home and abroad. The film made more money in China than in India itself.

The other top-grossing sports-based films include Lagaan. Made in 2001 about a bunch of village cricketers who defeat a team of Englishmen during the British Raj, it also starred Aamir Khan, and collected INR 5.56 billion.

The other super hits are Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikander, starring Aamir Khan as a cyclist out to win a race (INR 5.2 billion, made in 1992); Sultan, starring Salman Khan as a wrestler (INR4.16 billion, 2016); MS Dhoni, starring Sushant Singh Rajput playing Dhoni (INR2.16 billion, 2016); Bhaag Milkha Bhag, starring Farhan Akhtar as Olympic medal-winning runner Milkha Singh (INR2.1 billion, 2013); Chak De! India, starring Shah Rukh Khan as a hockey coach (INR1.9 billion); Gold, starring Akshay Kumar as manager of the Indian cricket team Tapan Das (INR1.58 billion); and Mary Kom, starring Priyanka Chopra as female boxer Mary Kom (INR1.04 billion, 2014.

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Covid-19 vaccination programme: MPs not in priority group; President, armed forces chiefs in ‘third category’ 

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By Shamindra Ferdinando

State Minister for Primary Health Care, Epidemics and COVID Disease Control, Dr. Sudarshini Fernandopulle yesterday (25) said that members of Parliament were not among those categorised as priority groups expected to be vaccinated against the Covid-19 pandemic.

Dr. Fernandopulle said so in response to The Island query whether parliamentarians would receive the vaccine scheduled to be delivered by India this week. Asked to explain, Dr. Fernandopulle said that health workers, armed forces and law enforcement personnel engaged in Covid-19 prevention operations would be given priority.

“Lawmakers haven’t been listed under priority groups. However, some members may get the vaccine if they are accommodated in the over 60 years category and those suffering from diabetes, heart disease, cancer et al,” the State minister said.

In addition to State Minister Dayasiri Jayasekera, several lawmakers, representing both the government and the Opposition had been afflicted over the past several weeks. SLPP lawmaker Wasantha Yapa Bandara (Kandy district) is the latest victim. Health minister Pavitradevi Wanniarachchi was among over half a dozen lawmakers tested positive.

Army Commander General Shavendra Silva told Derana yesterday morning Sri Lanka would receive approximately 500,000 to 600,000 doses from India. Responding to a spate of questions from Derana anchor Sanka Amarjith, Gen. Silva explained the measures taken by the government to ensure a smooth vaccination programme. The Army Chief who also functions as the Chief of Defence Staff revealed India had paid for the consignment obtained from the UK.

Later in the day, The Island sought an explanation from the Army Chief regarding the President, Service Commanders, Secretary Defence given the vaccination along with frontline health workers et al, the celebrated battlefield commander said: “Will be in third priority group.”

Asked whether the student population would be accommodated at an early stage of the vaccination programme, Dr. Fernandopulle said that those under 18 years of age, pregnant and lactating mothers wouldn’t be included at all as such groups hadn’t been subjected to trials. Education Secretary Prof. Kapila Perera wasn’t available for comment.

Dr. Fernandopulle emphasized the pivotal importance of following health guidelines strictly in spite of the launch of the vaccination programme. “We shouldn’t lower our guard under any circumstances,” Dr. Fernandopulle said, urging the population to be mindful of those unable to receive the vaccination due to no fault of theirs. As those under 18 years of age had been left out of the vaccination programme, a substantial section of the population would be denied the protection, the State Minister said.

Sri Lanka is also expected to procure vaccines from China and Russia in addition to the doses from India. Health Secretary Maj. Gen. Sanjeewa Munasinghe wasn’t available for comment.

Sri Lanka launches the vaccination programme with the total number of positive cases nearing 60,000 with nearly 50,000 recoveries. The government recently re-opened the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) following a pilot programme that brought over 1,200 Ukrainians in dozen flights through the Mattala International Airport.

Dr. Fernandopulle said that the government was ready to launch the vaccination programme as soon as the first consignment arrived from India.

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Tennis balls filled with drugs thrown into Kandakadu Covid-19 treatment centre

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By Norman Palihawadane

Two tennis balls filled with drugs had been thrown into the Covid-19 treatment centre at Kandakadu, Police Spokesperson DIG Ajith Rohana said.

The contraband was found on Saturday by the Army officers attached to the facility.

DIG Rohana said the two tennis balls containing cannabis, heroin and tobacco, had been handed over to the Welikanda Police.

A special investigation has been launched into the incident, the Police Spokesperson said. Such incidents had been previously reported from Welikada, Negombo and other prisons, but it was the first time contraband containing narcotics had been thrown into a Covid-19 treatment centre, he added.

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All cargo clearances at Colombo port now through electronic payments

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The Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) has introduced a system where payment for imports could be made via the Internet. This allows port users to make payments from their homes or offices to clear goods from the Port of Colombo.

The SLPA has said in a media statement that the new special facility will enable port users to make their port payments easily without hassle.

At present, all terminals of the Port of Colombo are run according to a strategic crisis management plan.

 

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