Pathaan and the king of cinema blast Bollywood out of the doldrums

Millions flock to see return of actor Shah Rukh Khan, despite rightwing calls for a boycott

For Ganesh Lokhande, an usher at the Regal Cinema in Mumbai’s southern tip of Colaba, it’s been a quiet few years in the job. That was, until last week.

Pathaan, a new Bollywood action thriller starring Shah Rukh Khan – an actor whose superstardom has elevated him to be known in India as “the king” – has been released in cinemas, triggering excitement across the country. Long queues formed outside theatres as millions flocked to catch a glimpse of Khan’s return to the screen after four years away, now aged 57 but still playing the ravishing muscular hero.

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Bollywood is obsessed with Pakistan. We’d be flattered if it weren’t so nasty

Try as the industry might, Modi’s quasi-fascist politics cannot be set to jaunty music and helicopter stunts

If recent Bollywood films are any indication, it is fair to say that India’s film industry is obsessed with Pakistan. Obsessed. Like standing outside your apartment and trying to peek through your windows at night with binoculars obsessed.

If the films were smarter or more daring, Pakistan might be flattered. Instead, we are beginning to be mildly confused by all the attention.

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Jo Johnson resigns as director of firm linked to Adani allegations

Former UK PM’s brother quits board of Elara Capital days after it was accused of using funds to manipulate share prices

Jo Johnson, the younger brother of the former prime minister Boris Johnson, has resigned as a director of a London-based investment bank allegedly linked to the Indian billionaire Gautam Adani’s crisis-ridden business empire.

Lord Johnson, a former Conservative minister who was given a peerage by his brother in 2020, resigned from the board of Elara Capital on Wednesday just days after Elara was accused of using Mauritius-based funds to manipulate the share price of Adani-linked companies and obscure their ultimate ownership.

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Indian journalist freed on bail after being jailed for two years without trial

Muslim reporter Siddique Kappan had been charged under draconian anti-terrorism laws

Indian journalist Siddique Kappan, who was held in jail for two years without trial, has walked free after being granted bail in a case human rights groups alleged was politically motivated.

Kappan, a Muslim journalist from the southern state of Kerala, was arrested in October 2020 as he was on his way to the northern state of Uttar Pradesh to report on the high-profile case of a Dalit girl who was gang-raped and later died.

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‘We are the village’s shining stars’: hockey is giving India’s rural women new status

Hosting the World Cup in the Indian state of Odisha has transformed playing the game into a respectable career choice

In a small mud room, Elisaba Lakra hurriedly cooks lunch for her husband. It is 11am and she only has two hours before her eight-year-old twin girls return from school. As captain and coach of Khamarimunda village hockey team in India’s Sundargarh district, she needs to fit in practice before they do.

Lakra, 27, first picked up a hockey stick aged five and by 13 was playing for the Odisha state junior team. She was selected for a place at a training academy in Rourkela, host to the recent Hockey World Cup, about 70 miles (112km) from her village.

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Adani Group abandons share offer as crisis triggered by fraud claims escalates

Relentless selling triggers questions about how Indian conglomerate – which denies allegations – will meet its loan obligations

Beleaguered Indian conglomerate Adani Group has abandoned a much-vaunted share offer in an escalating crisis triggered by fraud claims that has cut more than US$90bn in value from the power-to-ports empire and raised the prospect of forced asset sales.

The relentless selling has also triggered questions about how Adani, which runs Australia’s contentious Carmichael coalmine and rail project in Queensland, will meet its loan obligations as banks weigh up their exposure.

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Tory peer withdraws ‘racially charged’ comments

Exclusive: Rami Ranger criticised over comments about Pakistani journalists

A Conservative peer has apologised and withdrawn comments that were criticised for being “racially charged”, as a second referral about his conduct was made to the House of Lords standards watchdog.

Rami Ranger, a major Conservative party donor, admitted that remarks unearthed by the Guardian that he made in a letter regarding Pakistani journalists and a later TV interview about grooming and drug dealing had “caused offence”.

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Tory peer accused of ‘racially charged’ attack on BBC Modi documentary

Exclusive: Rami Ranger faces criticism over ‘deplorable’ comments about Pakistani journalists at the corporation

A Conservative peer has been accused of using “deplorable” and “racially charged language” in a scathing attack on the BBC’s recent documentary about the Indian prime minister, Narendra Modi.

Rami Ranger, who is already under investigation by the standards commissioners in the Lords, was criticised for comments made about Pakistani journalists at the corporation.

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Rahul Gandhi’s yatra: how a 2,200-mile march revitalised India’s ailing opposition

Congress has faced bruising electoral defeats, but Gandhi’s pilgrimage across the country has breathed life into historic party

On a piercingly cold Punjab morning, as a bitter frost crusted the ground, they gathered. Some were bundled up in blankets, others clutched feeble cups of chai for warmth. But not Rahul Gandhi. Wearing only a white T-shirt and cargo trousers, Gandhi began to pace forward at speed, leaving fellow marchers in his wake. “I’ve heard he doesn’t feel the cold,” said Raju, an admiring local onlooker, as he sprinted off to take a photo.

This was the 123rd day that Gandhi, the former leader of India’s once formidable Congress party, had been walking across India, beginning at its southernmost tip of Kanyakumari in Tamil Nadu and travelling 2,200 miles (3,500km) up to the Himalayas. On Monday, he will finish in Srinagar, in the embattled state of Kashmir, after 150 days of walking.

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‘Who are you to stop me?’: the hip-hop group speaking up for India’s women

Rappers Wild Wild Women use their searing lyrics to highlight the treatment of their sisters in a socially conservative country

It’s not easy being a wild woman in India – as members of what is believed to be the country’s first female rap group can testify.

The eight members of the Wild Wild Women collective have had to deal with knockbacks from the men who dominate the music industry and press. They have had to cajole and fight their parents for permission to play and travel to gigs – once they’ve convinced them that hip-hop is suitable for women to perform. And they have to juggle full-time jobs with their music.

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Adani Group firms lose $9bn in value amid short-seller claims

Hindenburg Research says world’s third-richest person, Gautam Adani, is pulling ‘largest con in corporate history’

More than $9bn (£7.3bn) was wiped off the fortune of companies partly owned by the world’s third-richest person, after an activist investor accused him of “pulling the largest con in corporate history”.

Shares in listed companies tied to Adani’s empire Adani Group lost $9.4bn in market value on Wednesday after short seller investment firm Hindenburg Research published a detailed investigation into accusations of “brazen stock manipulation”, “accounting fraud” and “money laundering.”

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Indian ban on BBC Modi film puts Musk’s Twitter ‘free speech’ vow to the test

Use of emergency laws sheds light on fragile and fractious place social media now occupy in India

The response by the Indian government was quick and draconian. Days after a BBC documentary examining the role that Narendra Modi, now prime minister, had played in 2002 communal riots in Gujarat was released, the information ministry announced that all links to the footage were to be banned on social media.

Emergency laws brought in by the Modi government just two years ago were used to enforce the ban.

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Toyah Cordingley killing: Rajwinder Singh to be extradited from India to Australia

The 38-year-old appeared in court in Delhi by video link and will now face trial over the alleged murder of the 24-year-old Queenslander

An Indian court has approved the extradition of Rajwinder Singh, the man accused of murdering Toyah Cordingley on a beach in Queensland, paving the way for him to return to Australia to face trial.

Singh, 38, who is an Australian national of Indian origin, had waived his right to challenge the request by the Australian authorities for him to be extradited to face trial for the killing of Cordingley.

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Plucky idea: the feather library providing a visual A to Z of India’s birds

Finding a trapped silverbill during lockdown inspired Esha Munshi to create an invaluable record of species in an uncertain world

  • Photographs supplied by the Feather Library

Esha Munshi, an architect based in Ahmedabad, has “breathed birds” as far back as she can remember. She has travelled all over India on birding trips and has, she says, spotted 1,060 of the 1,400 bird species in the country.

But it was at home, during the Covid-19 lockdown in 2020, that she saw an Indian silverbill caught in the protective netting on her balcony, attracting the attention of her cat. Although the bird escaped, some of its feathers were damaged. When Munshi saw the exquisite markings and patterns, she tried to identify the bird, but was struck by how little information there was online.

Feathers from a red-necked falcon

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India invokes emergency laws to ban BBC Modi documentary

Government accused of ‘censorship’ over ban on film about PM’s role in violence during 2002 Gujarat riots

The Indian government has invoked emergency laws to block a BBC documentary examining the role of the prime minister, Narendra Modi, during riots in the western state of Gujarat in 2002.

Controversy has erupted in India over the first episode of the two-part programme, India: The Modi Question, which tracked his rise through the ranks of the Bharatiya Janata party and his appointment as chief minister of Gujarat.

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