Nancy Ajram to perform at Yas Mall

Also, stars sign on for Hindi dub of Jungle Book, celebs call for gender equality, conductor Harnoncourt dies at 86, Hrithik movie set to shoot, and Malayalam actor Kalabhavan dead at 45.

Lebanese singer Nancy Ajram will perform at Yas Mall in Abu Dhabi this month, in one of three high-profile events coming to the shopping venue this year. Her concert, on March 31, will kick off the Yas Mall Spring Festival, which runs until April 8. The event will also include three days of runway fashion shows, at which children will ­showcase the upcoming Spring/­Summer collections. The young models will be chosen during a three-week competition on the mall's social media pages, followed by a final casting event in the mall. The festival will also feature parades, arts, ­entertainment and workshops for the whole family. In October, Yas Mall will host its second fashion week, and a special New Year's Eve celebration is being planned towards the end of the year. In addition to these three celebrations, Yas Mall will also host new events each month on themes including sports, fashion, arts and culture. – The National Staff

Stars sign on for Hindi dub of Jungle Book

Priyanka Chopra, Irrfan Khan, Nana Patekar, Shefali Shah and Om Puri have signed up to provided the voices of the key animal characters in the Hindi-language version of Disney's upcoming live-­action adaptation of Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book. Quantico star Chopra will voice the hypnotic python Kaa, played by Scarlett Johannson in the English-­language version. Irrfan Khan will replace Bill Murray as Baloo the bear, Nana Patekar will take over from Idris Elba as evil tiger Shere Khan, Shefali Shah will replace Lupita Nyong'o as Raksha the wolf, and Om Puri will replace Ben Kingsley as Bagheera the panther. The Hindi dub of the film is due for release on April 8. – Sonali Kokra

Celebs call for gender equality

Today is International Women's Day and Oprah Winfrey, Mary J Blige, Charlize Theron and Meryl Streep are just a few of the influential celebrities who have signed an open letter calling on world leaders to fight for gender equality around the globe. The letter states that worldwide 62 million girls are denied the right to education, 500 million women can't read and 155 countries have laws that discriminate against women. It calls on leaders to help girls and women fight HIV and malnutrition and support female economic empowerment. Zimbabwean-American actress Danai Gurira, who plays sword-wielding Michonne in hit zombie drama The Walking Dead, said: "We are still living in a time period where the most impoverished and disadvantaged people in the world are, without question, women and girls. The light and the potential of women and girls in the world today is being blocked." Gurira, a long-time advocate for women, will be on Capitol Hill in Washington DC today to meet members of the United States Congress. – AP

Conductor Harnoncourt dies at 86

Austrian conductor Nikolaus Harnoncourt, whose career first focused on a search for authenticity in Baroque and other old music and later expanded into interpretations across the classical spectrum, has died at the age of 86. His wife, Alice, said he "passed away peacefully, surrounded by his family". No cause of death was given. One of the great postwar Austrian conductors, Harnoncourt's concern for historical detail was legendary. He thought of his conducting as alive and romantic, not a relic of history. His recording of Bach's St Matthew Passion won a Grammy Award in 2001, one of many honours that put him on the level of other postwar Austrian conductors including Herbert von Karajan, Karl Böhm and Carlos Kleiber. – AP

Hrithik movie set to shoot

Actors Hrithik Roshan and Yami Gautam will start shooting Kaabil by the end of this month. Director Sanjay Gupta tweeted: "My last long weekend with my family, because Kaabil shoot starts in three weeks and then it is non-stop work till July. So making the most of it. Thanks to my assistant director Nadeem Shah, there are no free weekends once we roll Kaabil at the end of this month." The film, produced by Roshan's father, filmmaker Rakesh Roshan, will introduce a new on screen couple, but the plot has yet to be revealed. – IANS

Malayalam actor Kalabhavan dead at 45

Malayalam actor Kalabhavan Mani has died at a private hospital at the age of 45. Mani got his start in the film industry in 1993 by impersonating film stars as part of the mimicry troupe Kalabhavan, and his first notable role was in the film Sallapam in 1996. He secured his status in the film Vasantiyum Lakshmiyum Pinne Njanum, in which he played the title role of a blind man. It earned him the special jury award at the national and state level in 2000. Mani acted in about 200 films and was also a gifted singer and dancer. For the past few years, he was regularly cast as a villain in Tamil films and took on character roles in the Malayalam movie industry. Mani was reported to be receiving treatments on and off for liver and kidney-related illnesses before. He is survived by his wife and daughter. – IANS