India Corner 

IITs and IIMs ranked among the world’s best

Hollywood casts Indian actor as Pakistani leader

The Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) are among the world’s best 100 institutes, according to a latest global ranking by The Times of London. The premier Indian institutes are ranked 57th and 68th respectively, according to the exhaustive university ranking complied by the Times Higher Education Supplement (THES).

The top slot has been bagged by Harvard University flowed by Oxford and Cambridge universities while the highest-ranking Asian university was Beijing University, taking the 15th spot.
The rankings were based on a survey for the THES of 3,703 academicians worldwide.

A veteran Indian actor has been chosen to play Pakistan’s former military ruler, Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq, in a Hollywood production about the CIA’s role in arming Mujahideen rebels in Afghanistan. 

Bollywood actor Om Puri, known for playing strong, serious characters, said he had been cast in Universal Pictures’ “Charlie Wilson’s War” alongside Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts. The film, based on a book of the same name, revolves around Charlie Wilson, a charismatic, wheeler-dealer Texas Congressman, played by Hanks.

Wilson teams up with a rogue CIA agent to manipulate U.S. Congress, the CIA and a host of foreign governments in a covert operation. “The film discusses the entire political scenario of the time,” says 56-year-old Puri. “I appear as a well-settled Pakistani President who strikes a deal with the Americans that money and arms to the Afghans must flow through his country,” said Puri, adding that he loved the character of Zia.

Zia ruled Pakistan from 1977, when he took power in a bloodless military coup, until 1988 when he died in a still unexplained plane crash.


Neha Dhupia shoots TV ad in Hollywood

5-star makeover for Palace on Wheels

Hollywood director Tim Mewton has completed production on a major new TV commercial starring India’s Neha Dhupia. The commercial was shot over several days in Beverly Hills and features glamorous shots of Indian beauty Neha to promote a new line of luxury skin care products.

Mewton was chosen to direct the high-profile commercial thanks to the success of his numerous TV shows and commercials, which have aired in over 120 countries around the world. Tim’s award-winning TV projects have seen him work with many A-List Hollywood stars, including Tom Cruise, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Russell Crowe and Clint Eastwood.

His latest shoot was relocated from Mumbai, India to Los Angeles, in order to accommodate his busy schedule. Speaking about the project Mewton said, “I’m excited to be directing a Bollywood star for the first time. This is the best example yet of the huge cross-over movement taking place between Hollywood and Bollywood.”
The second Palace on Wheels train service, to be launched soon in Rajasthan, will offer more luxuries and facilities such as a dance floor, a massage centre, a conference hall and bars.

Likely to be launched early in 2007 it will be the third tourist train after Palace on Wheels and the recently introduced Heritage on Wheels. The second edition of Palace on Wheels is estimated to cost about Rs 300 million.

“We are planning to offer tourists more luxuries in the new train. We are considering a dance floor, a massage centre and conference halls. These plans are in the preliminary stage,” by the Rajasthan Tourism Development Corp MD Rakesh Saini said. RTDC officials said the 21-coach train would have special suites, foreign exchange counters, exclusive kitchens, mini bars, gym and steam bath facilities.

“It will be a special train equipped with all state-of-the-art facilities that a tourist can think of. It will be a glitzier product with exclusive facilities,” Saini said.