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'I inspired Protima to set up Nrityagram'

You are known to be a ladies' man, the host of Star Plus's Janata ki Adalat said to Pandit Jasraj, and proceeded to ask him about Protima's Gauri's declaration that she had shared intimate moments with him.

Jasraj didn't deny it, although he said he wouldn't like to say anything about the relationship, now that Protima is no more. "But it is true that I inspired her to set up Nrityagram," he remarked. That is the name of a dance village Protima founded at Hesaraghatta, near Bangalore.

In Timepass, her posthumously published autobiography, Protima says she had a torrid fling with Jasraj.

Jasraj refused to be drawn into any comment about what he described as "last century's controversy" which had erupted when he alleged that Pandit Ravi Shankar had lobbied for the Bharat Ratna and threatened to leave the country if he wasn't decorated with that high government honour. He said Pandit Chatur Lal had deserved to get it too, and earlier than Ravi Shankar.

Jasraj didn't agree with the opinion that there was a "music mafia" operating from Delhi and comprising star musicians like Ustad Zakir Hussain and Ustad Amjad Ali Khan. He advised people with such a view to live in Delhi. "It is true that people who are sent abroad and who perform at government ceremonies are easily accessible in Delhi. What catches one's attention is picked up," he said.

The programme was telecast on February 27.

Dr Rajkumar gets a website

Rajkumar, the biggest Kannada film star, now has an official website. It was launched on Friday, 3 February.

Two brothers, Prithvi and Prakruthi Banavasi, have designed the site and put together details about the star's life, and his films.

Rajkumar, now in his seventies, is still the most popular Kannada film star. He comes from the era of company drama, when actors also had to be singers. His grasp of Indian classical music makes him the only real singing star in Indian cinema today.

Rajkumar began his career with Bedara Kannappa, a film about the simple faith of a hunter. His latest film Shabdavedhi, where he plays an upright police inspector, was released in January 2000.

The site, which is in both Kannada and English, offers a collection of pictures chronicling the actor's life.

Visit Rajkumar's site

Finance Minister spares audio products

Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha presented India's first budget of the millennium on February 29.

The audio industry is relieved taxes have been retained at the old rates. There were some fears that the budget would be harsh on products like music systems and television sets.

The prices of computers may fall marginally, with the minister reducing customs duties. That's good news for the dotcom community, booming in cities like Bangalore and Mumbai.

The biggest hike in the budget has been the allocation for defence.

Sonu Nigam wants more movie songs

Sonu Nigam says he would like to concentrate on film songs, and has stopped doing television shows.

He told Filmfare recently that the last he had shot for TVS Saregama, the popular TV programme, was in March last year. He wants to sing more film songs.

Sonu sang an Arabian-style number for Rahman in Dil se, and recently released Jaan, a private album.

Read review of Jaan

Lennon's piano for sale

John Lennon's piano will be auctioned online later this year. The sale is expected to fetch more than a million dollars, making it the most expensive piece of pop memorabilia ever.

Imagine, Lennon's peace anthem, was composed on this piano. It was recorded in 1971 after the breakup of the Beatles and was a hit when it was re-released in 1980 following Lennon's death. An obsessed fan gunned down Lennon outside his New York home.

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