Leisure, Lifestyle & Wellness
Jackie Chan to return to India to film 'Kungfu Yoga'
Asian cinematic icon Jackie Chan, whose latest actioner "Dragon Blade" hits Indian screens on Friday, says he may come down to the country to shoot his new film "Kungfu Yoga", the first project under a India-China co-production agreement signed during President Xi Jinping's visit here last September.
 
When Chan last visited India in 2013, he spoke to this IANS correspondent about the need for encouraging movie collaborations and cultural exchange between the two countries.
 
Is he pioneering something in that direction?
 
"Yes, I am planning to start a new movie called 'Kungfu Yoga'. That means I will be returning to film in India. Perhaps next time you will interview me on a set," Chan, who will turn 61 next month, told IANS in an email interview from Beijing.
 
The star of movies like "Police Story", "Rush Hour" and "The Myth", Chan will be seen in a prominent role in "Kungfu Yoga".
 
From the film's title, one believes it will be a perfect amalgamation of Chinese martial art Kungfu, and the art of Yoga, which originated in ancient India and now thrives around the world.
 
Chan's earlier India collaboration has been with Bollywood beauty Mallika Sherawat in his 2005 film "The Myth". But will his association with the Indian entertainment industry include a Bollywood film?
 
"I don't think about it in terms of doing a Bollywood movie, or even a Hollywood movie. The most important thing is the script. But, yes, I'm planning the new movie called 'Kungfu Yoga'. Hopefully, we will start filming in the autumn," he added.
 
Meanwhile, the actor, who has regaled legions of his fans across the globe with his comedic and action avatars, hopes his American-Chinese collaboration "Dragon Blade", directed by Daniel Lee, appeals to Indian audiences with its story.
 
"The myth about ancient Romans lost in China is absolutely intriguing...Also, I designed the fight sequences myself and I think the audiences will love them. Last of all, the songs and music in the movie are something I'm very proud of," he said.
 
In "Dragon Blade", releasing here in English, Hindi, Tamil and Telugu, Chan has worked with Hollywood actors John Cusack and Adrian Brody. The experience, he says, was "great".
 
"I enjoyed working with them and I look forward to working with more Hollywood stars in China. For many years, I acted in Hollywood films. It's exciting now that Hollywood stars are acting in Chinese films," said the actor, who defies age with his enthusiasm, passion and ability to perform daredevilry without a thought.
 
What keeps him going?
 
"Enjoy every moment of your life. Accept your own self. Be young at heart. I still go to the gym every day and run for an hour. But I never go on a diet. I believe in being 'Happy go Lucky'! That's my secret," said the action star, who worked with more than 800 extras, over 350 crew members and hundreds of horses for "Dragon Blade".
 
As a sexagenarian, is he choosing his roles more carefully?
 
"Of course, I am now 61. I would like audiences to think of me as a dramatic actor who happens to also do action. In my recent films, I've been trying to broaden my roles, including in "Dragon Blade"."
 

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'Steep spectrum bids will burden telecom players, test tariffs'
As e-auction of telecom spectrum concluded on Wednesday, analysts said the winners faced a piquant situation now as their steep bids will burden their financial state further with limited elbow room to pass it on to customers in the form of tariff hikes.
 
The auction concluded after 19 days and 115 rounds of rigorous bidding with total commitments at Rs.109,874 crore as per provisional figures released by the government. As many as 50 out of 69 service areas on offer went at a premium.
 
"The whole auction was designed by the government to extract maximum revenues from the operators. As a result, the industry is going to face financial needs," Rajan S. Mathews, director general of the Cellular Operators' Association of India, told IANS.
 
Pointing to a key financial indicator, analysts quoted GSM Association's research wing to point out that in India bids were at global levels, but the average revenue per user was already low for Indian operators at $2.55, against $17.65 for Germany, $29.30 for the Netherlands and $28.52 for the UK.
 
"The spectrum auction outgo will impact on the rollout and quality of telecom network. In this competitive environment, operators will find it difficult to raise data or voice tariffs in the immediate term," said Arpita P. Agarwal, head for telecom with PriceWaterhouseCoopers.
 
Former telecom minister Kapil Sibal also felt the auction process was flawed.
 
"The telecom sector is hugely in debt to the extent of Rs.3.4 lakh crore. Now, in paying for high spectrum prices, there'll be no money for investment in infrastructure," Sibal told IANS.
 
Analysts said unless the revenue stream for the operators increases sharply, there will be little scope for the players to justify the high bids they have made. But in a regulated tariff regime, they also felt the scope for tariff hikes was limited.
 
"Prices are within the ballpark region. Price is not a surprise. However, the amount of bidding in the 800 MHz for 4G was not expected. It happened most of the operators are now planning to be a 3G and 4G player," Mahesh Uppal, director of telecom consultancy firm Com First, told IANS.
 
Uppal, however, cautioned that prices at which the winners got the spectrum were very very high. "It means less money to spend on the growth of network," he added.
 
Analysts also felt the impact on basic mobile phone services, classified as second generation (2G) telephony, will be impacted the most, as bidding was most competitive in the 900 MHz band - also since some players have to vacate the spectrum in December after the expiry of the licence.
 
"We participated in the recent spectrum auction to ensure continuity of business and service to our customers. We remain committed to providing seamless connectivity and superior communication services to our customers across the country," Vodafone said in a statement.
 
But experts saw more auctions in the near future as the current round focused on eight bidders.
 
"There was strong focus on 2G spectrum in this auction by all bidders. Looking at the current low demand for 2,100 MHz band, there may be another auction for 2100 MHz band soon with more spectrum and revised reserve price," Rishi Tejpal, principal research analyst, Gartner, told IANS.
 
But is a consolidation on the cards?
 
The opinion on this is: "Let the norms be set, at least," as PwC's Agarwal said. "With this auction completion, the government should bring back focus and provide roadmap on pending issues of spectrum trading, sharing, guidelines on mergers and acquisitions."

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Rose Valley chairman Gautam Kundu arrested by ED
The Enforcement Directorate on Wednesday arrested Rose Valley Group chairman Gautam Kundu in connection with the multi billion rupee ponzi scam.
 
ED sources said Kundu was taken into custody after he failed to give proper answers during sustained questioning spread over six hours on being summoned to its office.
 
Kundu allegedly suppressed information and did not provide details about the quantum of money collected by his group companies from the market by promising huge returns.
 
The company also raised money through time-share schemes, promising the public that their deposits could be redeemed on maturity in the shape of accommodation in its hotels.
 
The group - involved in sectors like realty, hospitality, media and films - has been under the scanner of various central agencies including market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), the Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO) and the ED.
 
Kundu, who had arrived at the ED office around noon for grilling, was taken to a local hospital after his arrest. He would be produced in court Thursday.
 
Soon after Kundu's arrest, a group of Rose Valley employees shouted slogans and staged a protest demonstration before the ED office.
 
Group managing director Shibamoy Dutta said the arrest was made despite its "cooperation with all central agencies involved in the probe".
 
"I have just now spoken to Gautam Kundu. On behalf of ED, no paper has been shown to him. He told that he has been arrested. But he hasn't been told why. The Rose Valley group has cooperated with all the central agencies which are conducting he probe," Dutta said.
 
The group came into focus after the Saradha ponzi scam broke in early 2013. The same year, the corporate affairs ministry named Rose Valley as one of the 73 companies involved in ponzi schemes in West Bengal.
 
Having cast its net across the states of West Bengal, Tripura, Assam, Odisha, Jharkhand and Maharashtra among others, the company is alleged to have raised close to Rs.15,000 crore.
 
Found guilty of running "collective investment scheme" (CIS) without necessary approvals, the SEBI in June 2014 had ordered the company to refund the money to the investors and barred it barred from accessing the securities market.
 
The SEBI had also warned the company of attachment and recovery proceedings if it failed to refund the money.
 
Earlier, SEBI in 2011 had passed an interim order barring the group from raising public money through its unapproved CIS.
 
The group had then moved the Calcutta High Court challenging the order but it was dismissed. It then filed an appeal before a division bench challenging the legality of the order. However, the higher bench too dismissed the appeal in July 2013.
 
Subsequent to the appeal's dismissal, the SEBI ordered refund of investors money.
 
While the ED attached 2,631 bank accounts of the group involving Rs.295 crore in November 2014, a Calcutta High Court division bench put a stay on the search and seizure order of the central agency.
 
Its properties were confiscated in Odisha following a court order on February 25.
 
Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in December last year had told the Rajya Sabha that the Rose Valley Group of companies had collected an estimated Rs.15,000 crore from investors.
 
Minister of State for Finance Jayant Sinha, in a written reply to the Rajya Sabha last month, had said the Saradha Group and the Rose Valley raised Rs.12,740 crore illegally.
 
According to Sinha, investigation revealed that the Rose Valley Group raised as much as Rs.10,281 crore from investors while Saradha firms had mobilised Rs.2,459 crore.
 
The Rose Valley Group was one of the sponsors of Indian Premier League city franchise Kolkata Knight Riders, and were also the title sponsor of an international chess meet in Kolkata in 2012.

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