In 1865, the world’s tallest peak, known as Chomolungma in Tibet, was named Everest after a cranky British colonel who had led the empire’s 40-year endeavour to map the subcontinent but had never set eyes on the massive mountain. It got a name the British could pronounce but it would be over 50 years before the peak was actually “found” and mapped, and the first efforts to summit were made. In 1921, the first British reconnaissance expedition managed not only to “walk off the map” and physically locate the mountain but also scale a part of Everest’s North Col, a tale we revisit in our pages this week. To mark the centenary of the first attempt on Everest between June and September 1921, we have a story on the team that made those early forays. They spent days in the miserable weather, determinedly measuring, sketching, photographing and climbing to create maps that still aid the thousands of tourists who make their way to the summit every year.
A fair number of stories in this issue hark back to an older, gentler era of quiet determination, the most significant being our cover story, which is a tribute to actor Dilip Kumar, who died earlier this week. A gentle and soft-spoken star of Hindi cinema, he belonged to a time when the macho hero wasn’t the norm, though he definitely had flair. The quiet grace and dignity, often described as studied understatement that reflected realism, extended beyond the screen, even when one saw him in television news interviews long after he had retired from the screen. Our cover story pays tribute to an actor who defined an era and achieved success.
As always, we have suggestions for what to read, watch and listen to this weekend. During the course of the week, red carpet appearances at Cannes—back after a break due to the pandemic—made news but there’s more to the ongoing film festival than the glamour. Of the dozens of films in the official selection across categories, we have made a list of the 10 that should not be missed.
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