Thursday, 31 January 2013

Cutting Chai with Bhawana Somaaya - Day 31

8 films 7 days
31.1.2013, Mumbai

1 February promises to be an exciting Friday with eight releases and all have some or the other reason to be watched.

On top of my list is Bejoy Nambiar’s David. If Shaitan and the rendition of Khoya khoya chand…is anything to go by here is a director to watch out for.

Mai for the mighty talented Asha Bhosle! There is nothing that Asha tai has not or cannot do be it cabaret, classical, rock, rap or remix. At 80 she appears on a reality show and sparkles and now proves that she can sing note perfect and also act and dance.

Listen Aamaya to check if Faroque Shaikh and Deepti Naval can still retain the chemistry.  Tell me O Khuda was only a cameo to arrive at any decision.

Viswaroopam to find out what the fuss was all about and to record if the hype lives up to the expectations of the box-office.

Deewana Main Deewana to document the journey of the glorious Priyanka Chopra.

Two regional films make it to theatres this week. Marathi film and festival traveled Premachi Gosht and Mani Ratnam AR Rahman Tamil film with English subtitles Kadal.  Kadal stars Mani fav heo Arvind Swamy.

Last but not the least, Salman Rushdie and Deepa Mehta combine Midnight’s Children which is not just the most controversial film but also the flavour of the season.

Watch out this space how I rate each of them on Friday ka Faisla.

Bhawana Somaaya/

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Cutting Chai with Bhawana Somaaya - Day 30

Scenes from Books…Scene 3: Year: 2013
30.1.2013, Mumbai

It is 7pm at Hotel Novotel in Juhu and Bachchan arrives on the dot of time to inaugurate my last of the trilogy on him Amitabh Lexicon. We are a bit flustered as we are still giving final touches to the venue and the set.

We have the presence of mind to immediately whisk him into another room where the media is waiting for him on the red carpet. They are requested to restrict questions to the event but as usual they ask what they want to.

Bachchan has come directly from another event and is looking very glamarous seated between glam divas Priyanka Chopra and Anushka Sharma.

I chat with him on the Making of an Icon and ask him to elaborate on specific words that combine the ingredients of stardom.

He is amused by the process and enjoys it but restriction of time prevents us to complete the entire journey.

When the conversation ends he is surrounded by people clamoring for autographs and photographs. He is exhausted but polite and pleasant. Some things never change I guess.

When I see him off at the gate I notice that his car has changed. It is a smart tall car, impressive but I apologise I can’t recognize the brand.

Bhawana Somaaya/

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Cutting Chai with Bhawana Somaaya - Day 29

Scenes from Books…Scene 2: Year: 2009
29.1.2013, Mumbai

It is the launch of my ninth book and second with him - Bachchanalia. This time all roads lead to NCPA and Bachchan who is back to limelight is shooting round the clock.

He arrives at the venue on the dot of time in his Lexus and is keen to walk the gallery decoratively displayed in the foyer but the highest security cannot control the stampede created by the photographers.

He is impressed with the book and attends the event accompanied by his full family Jaya, Shweta, Abhishek, Aishwarya and good friend Amar Singh.

The book is released by Aamir Khan who narrates interesting episodes about his memories of the senior actor.

He still wears the French beard and is still extremely punctual.

Bhawana Somaaya/

Monday, 28 January 2013

Cutting Chai with Bhawana Somaaya - Day 28

Scenes from Books…Scene 1: Year: 1999
28.1.2013, Mumbai

It is launch of my debut book on Amitabh - The Legend at Cross Word in Tardeo. Books on film personalities are not as common in India and therefore a novelty. This is the phase when electronic media has sprung into prominence and the still photographers are suddenly feeling displaced.

All roads lead to Crossword on October 10 and Bachchan much against his wishes gets held up in traffic.
Fortunately, this is also the time of the newly launched mobile phones and he requests me to apologise to the guests.
The media has heard that Bachchan then in his sabbatical is sporting a French beard and curious to capture him in their cameras.

Bachchan arrives in the famous Manmohan Desai gifted Bus and creates a stampede at the entrance.

The event is attended by all his prominent filmmakers Yash Chopra, Ramesh Sippy, Prakash Mehra and some of his leading ladies featured in the book.

This is the first time Bachchan speaks about his ban on the media and Shobhaa De, then editor Stardust present at the launch confirms his side of the story.

Bhawana Somaaya/

Cutting Chai with Bhawana Somaaya - Day 27

B for Bachchan V for Vocabulary
27. 1. 2013, Mumbai

People often ask me why three books on Bachchan? The answer is his body of work is too vast to encompass just one book. I have another funny answer which is if Satyajit Ray is allowed to do a trilogy on Bachchan then I should be forgiven to do three books on Bachchan!

Jokes aside the idea for Amitabh Lexicon came to me almost 11 years ago when I was heading the creative team for a portal to be launched on the actor, probably among the first of its kind in the web world. One day, I was amidst friends and everybody suddenly started conversing in dialogues from famous Amitabh Bachchan scenes. It was interesting that everybody connected with each other through what seemed like an alternate language. The book is a compilation of selective words from the alphabets of the English language associated with different scenes from the actor’s body of work: fans will, I’m sure, want to take it to another level or create their own variations.

Aamir Khan on Lexicon: Amitabh Bachchan films are a textbook for every actor and symbolize popular culture for his fans. Over the years, lines spoken by him have generated an alternative language for film buffs. Lexicon captures the actor’s iconic scenes into a fun dictionary that celebrates the magic of Bachchan cinema. "A spectacular book and a fitting tribute to the superstar’s majestic career."

Vidya Balan on Bachchan : Rishte mein toh hum tumhare baap lagte hain…Amitabh Bachchan is the baap of Indian cinema.  

Abhishek Bachchan on Lexicon and dad: What an Idea Sirji!!

Bhawana Somaaya/ 
Amitabh Lexicon link

Cutting Chai with Bhawana Somaaya - Day 26

A for Amitabh L for Lexicon
26. 1. 2013, Mumbai

It feels nice to learn that my book Amitabh Lexicon has sold 4000 copies in 20 months and we have ordered a big reprint order of the same.

It feels better when Tarun Katiyal CEO of RBNL offers me a platform to showcase the glorious paintings from the book at Lexicon Gallery an initiative of Big CBS Prime.

And it feels superb to release Lexicon as part of a proceeding to honour Bachchan as India’s Prime Icon by Big CBS Prime.

Now a little about the book:  Amitabh Lexicon is a colorful joyride into Bachchan’s films and memorabilia. The book compiles alphabets of the English language associated with different scenes from the actor’s body of work.

Lexicon captures 2,833 head words of the English dictionary into films of the actor spread over 43 years of his magnificent career. The book quite literally is ‘Amitabh A to Z’ – it is a celebration of Hindi Cinema’s biggest success story, which continues to remain a national obsession. There are quotes on every alphabet by the megastar himself.

The foreword of this unique concept book is written by Lord Meghnad Desai and contains 23 colour illustrations of different props from A to Z used by Amitabh Bachchan in his films. Published by Pustak Mahal it is a 335 pages – art colour paper and hard bound.

Lexicon features ace cameraman late Gautam Rajadhyaksha’s fondly shot pictures of the actor.

Bhawana Somaaya/

Lexicon link

Friday, 25 January 2013

Cutting Chai with Bhawana Somaaya - Day 25

Everything but Soul
25.1.2013, Mumbai

Iss hafte teen releases hain:

Main Krishna Hoon sirf aur sirf Krishna premiyon ke liye hain varna nahi.

Akash Vaani time pass film hain – agar aap ke paas faltu samay hain to zaaya kar sakte ho warna paisa aur samay bacha ke rakhiye.

Race 2 mein sab kuch hain – agar A to Z baat karein to Aeroplane-Action, Beaches-Bombs, Cars-Casino, Dance -Derby, Enemy-Energy, Fruits-Fights, Gags-Gambling, Helicopter-Hugs, Intrigue-Item numbers, Jaccuzi-Jackpot, Key-Karate, Love-Lust, Million-Meredes, Noise-Nostalgia, Outrage-Outcry, Plans-Parties, Quarrels-Quadrangles, Race-Revenge, Sex-Swimsuits, Tub- Tycoon, Uunderworld, Vulgarity, Wine-Witches, X-rays,Yacht that Zap you.

In short Race 2 mein logic aur dil ke sivay sab kuch hain- hasane ke liye anil kapoor aur kahani aage badhane ke liye Saif Ali Khan.

Race 2 ko BIG ENTERTAINMENT RATINGS milte hai 2.5 stars.

Bhawana Somaaya/

Cutting Chai with Bhawana Somaaya - Day 24

Bachchan & the Babes
24.1.2013, Mumbai

After chronicling the inspirational lives of some of India’s most illustrious names in a quest to give India its true role-model, BIG CBS PRIME’s definitive show India’s prime Icon viewers ended the debate by choosing Amitabh Bachchan as the first ever winner.

The grand finale event of the show was held at Novotel Hotel in Juhu and the titles were conferred on him by two dazzling Divas Priyanka Chopra and Anushka Sharma.

On the same platform I released the Reprint of my 2012 book Amitabh Lexicon. Bachchan first inaugurated Lexicon Gallery where Indranil Maitra’s paintings in the book were displayed and later released the book on stage.

Formalities over the guests were privy to an In Conversation conducted with Bachchan on the Making of an Icon by me where celebrities and students invited from prime colleges in the city participated.

It was a dazzling evening and by the time Bachchan said goodbye he had as usual won over the hearts of all the people.

Bhawana Somaaya/

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Cutting Chai with Bhawana Somaaya - Day 23

Mother & I
23.1.2013, Mumbai

There is joy in a routine and a routine tells more about a character than we realise. My mother as long as she lived started her morning by feeding grains to the sparrows and the pigeons. While she brewed tea for the rest of the family she opened her kitchen window and invited her friends to be a part of her domesticity. She placed a bowl of water on the window sill for the thirsty birds and the birds came every day to give her company.

After bath, mother showered water to the rising sun, then the Tulsi plant and finally a plate of prasad with a lamp to her Gods in the temple.

When it was lunch hour the first Chappati was reserved for the crow and strangely he always knew when she was ready because he arrived on the window sill as soon as she put his bread on the window sill. The second Chappati rolled in ghee and jaggery was for the cow. When she had finished cooking she went barefoot on the street waiting for a cow to pass by and when she did, mother fed her with her hands and touched her back to seek blessings.

In the olden days the entire family assembled on the floor for meals but even later when we began eating on dining tables, she always commenced her meal with the first morsel of everything in her plate offered to the ancestors on the side. Next she sprinkled water around the plate this was to ward off the evil eye and is a ritual followed in many traditional homes even today.

When she was no more for a long time I followed her practice and started my day by offering grains to the pigeon and the sparrow, when father was no more she believed that he visited the family in the form of the crow and cooked his favourite dishes for me. When she was no more, I was visited by two crows and I remembered to serve them my parents’ favorite dishes.

I did that for a long time but in the fancy apartment I live currently, the society rules prohibit us to put grains and bread on the window sill and soil the building. These are times of hygiene not tradition and I understand without cynicism. So do the sparrows, the pigeons and the crows that have gradually learned to stay away from us humans? They no more visit our homes to announce a guest, the sparrows and the pigeons are harshly evacuated from the windows before they can build a nest or lay an egg.

I don’t anymore feed the cows because they never pass by the lane I live. If I have to feed them I have to visit the temple and there too I cannot feed the cow unless I first feed her with the ladoos I purchase from the cowherd caretaker.

I long to offer the first morsel of my meal to my ancestor exactly the way my mother did but the few times I did I was subjected to scornful looks and since then did not attempt to commence and conclude a meal by sprinkling water around my plate.
At home I do.

My mother was fortunate, she followed her instincts. In the changing times I have to change to not attract attention.

Bhawana Somaaya/

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Cutting Chai with Bhawana Somaaya - Day 22

22.1. 2013, Mumbai

When Rahul Gandhi made his speech he must be aware that every word he speaks will be  dissected, debated and analysed by his detractors and the nation. Every newspaper, every columnist, editorial has commented on the newly elected Vice President and as I write this blog I watch Times Now hosting a panel discussion on whether Rahul’s speech was high on emotion and low on substance, more on personal and less on political agenda?

Kumar Ketkar Group Editor of Divya Bhaskar disagreed. Nirmala Seetharam, BJP spokesperson agreed. Congress party members said that Rahul’s outpouring in Jaipur was his love for the country. The opposition said that the nomination was an extension of the ruling party’s dynasty rule.

Since I’m not a political journalist and lack the expertise to unravel the intrigue I rely on my instinct to make impressions of people and I narrate my encounter with Rahul Gandhi just a few months ago at Saif Kareena wedding reception hosted by Sharmila Tagore in Delhi. I was appreciating the beautifully done up lawn with swaying palm trees dressed in fairy lights and ventured into the deserted dinning area to discover to my surprise, Rahul Gandhi and his three friends checking out what was on the banquet.

On an impulse I walked up to him and called ‘Rahul’. He turned, clearly surprised. I said I had no agenda but many years ago, at a similar function I had met his dad Rajiv Gandhi and couldn’t resist talking to him because he was devastatingly handsome. He smiled.  ‘And today it’s a feeling of déjà vu…’ He smiled again. I touched him lightly on the arm, said ‘God bless’ and parted without introducing myself.

I went back to find my friends and bumped into a high and happy Randhir Kapoor. I complimented him that his daughter’s reception was attended by political bigwigs including Rahul Gandhi and Randhir appeared surprised. ‘Is Rahul here, I didn’t know.’ I offered to introduce him to Rahul and led him to the dinning area where Rahul and his friends were relishing a quiet dinner. He was bending over his plate whenI stood once again behind him and softly called ‘Rahul’. He turned surprised to find me again and stood up instantly.

‘This is the father of the bride’ I said pointing to Kapoor. Rahul offered a firm handshake and said ‘Congratulations’ to Randhir and then we went back to our friends and Rahul to complete his dinner.

As a film critic writing on showbiz for over 30 years, connecting with celebrities is not a novelty.  It is how they behave in public that makes a complex study of human behaviour and Rahul Gandhi on that day, passed the test in flying colours!!

Bhawana Somaaya/www.

Cutting Chai with Vhawana Somaaya - Day 21

Mahadev questions, Kartike answers
21.1.2013, Mumbai

Mahadev’s older son Kartike is a tormented soul and there is a reason for it.  He has killed the fondest devotee of his father and he will be anguished till he makes penance. Lord Vasudev explains to Kartike that the oly way to conquer his karma is to create Shivling and lay the foundation of a new shrine with his own hands.

Ganesha has made a promise to his mother Parvati that he will not return to Kailash without his brother so accompanies Kartike on his mission.The brothers walk miles and finally find  an appropriate rock that Kartike transforms it into a perfect Shivling.

Ganesha is happy because they can return home but their father Mahadev will not make it easy for his children. Mahadev says that he will test everybody who woorships him and his son Kartike is no exception. He  encounters Kartike in the disguise of an ageing man eager to possess a Shivling for his Lord and distressed that he is  incapable of accomplishing this.

Kartike feels sad for him and offers him his Shivling so he can pay to his lord.

Ganesha is supportive of his brother’s noble decision and keeps up his spirit as  they go searching for another rock. They are challanged by the emperror of a mountain who will not allow Kartike to touch a stone  unless he proves himself a warrior. Kartike declines him for violence is not his goal. The emperror offers another option. Kartike must answer his questions and if he fails he will be cursed to transform into a stone himself. Kartike agrees.

Mahadev in the avtaar of emperror asks: Who is your best companion in journey of life? 
Kartike: Patience. If I’m patient I’m able to endure everything. 
Mahadev: What is that color that cannot be robbed but can be lost? 
Kartike: Knowledge, nobody can rob my wisdom but if I’m not careful arrogance can cloud it. 
Mahadev : What is that you sacrifice and feel peaceful? Kartike: Pride, dropping it makes me lighter.
Mahadev : What is in your possesion that you lose and rejoice? 
Kartike: Anger is a destructive emotion and we are better without it. 
Mahadev: What defines you as a superior existence – genes or genius? 
Kartike: Compassion because without empathy all is futile. 
Mahadev: Final question, of all the virtues which is the most superior? 
Kartike: For me it is my bonding with my family.

The emperror is impressed and invites Kartike to borrow a rock from his mountain but Kartike’s struggle is far from over.

Bhawana Somaaya/

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Cutting Chai with Bhawana Somaaya - Day 20

Woman: Product or endangered Part II
20.1.2013, Mumbai

She had done it in the past too but she was more educated now, more aware and more experienced. A free India had given her an identity, a confidence to be herself and this inadvertently made her more attractive to herself and to others. For the first time probably men and society started viewing her as an individual rather than as the role she played and she was not complaining!

It has been proved that when circumstances change so do relationships and 80s was the decade of shifting equations between man and woman and family and society. Everybody talked about the emerging new woman but nobody was able to clearly define her. Was she the working woman contributing to the income? Was she the centre stage image in all the print/ TV advertisements or was she the bold and the beautiful gyrating heroine/ vamp/ dancer in films? The answer was none and probably all.

As the intellectuals and the activists furiously debated over the rapidly shifting gender equations among Indians an entire decade passed by! In the 90s the intrusive camera traveled all over the woman’s anatomy depriving her of any autonomy of her own body. Both cinema and the various ad campaigns were unabashed and unapologetic about treating woman as a product and strangely, she was not complaining.

In 2000 the exploitation continued except that the ads were more aesthetic and combined with sometimes a social message and the films were 100 crores ventures and top heroines willingly offered to do sizzling numbers which were now coined as item numbers. The item numbers not only got them instant success but became a passport to hike their fees. They danced to the same item number again and again at various shows throughout the year.

The thinking woman protested against the objectification of woman but the man had stopped caring. The item girl on the big screen and the product on the small screen had turned him into a legitimate voyeuristic and now he was not going to be apologetic!! He relished and cherished every opportunity and his fantasy took on wings. The more sensible of the breed stayed within limits, the more uncontrollable took to the streets.

The woman they once revered and fiercely protected as a mother, sister, beloved and wife was openly eve teased, assaulted and molested and in worse cases raped and murdered. Most crimes were operated by the youth and when interrogated they confessed that the temptations were too many and it was difficult to exercise restraint.

So who is responsible for all this? The woman, must she say no to gyrate to Sheila, Munni and Chikni Chameli and be more responsible to the message she is giving to society and men at large? Women working in the advertisements have to say no to the camera caressing her slender waist and inviting cleavage. They must ask how come the camera never wants to travel over the man’s body it is because it does not view the man as a product!

What about the men, all those filmmakers, investors and copy writers of campaigns who conceive these images and songs? Do they have any social responsibility of not misleading the audience? The argument does not end at show business – is that a guarantee that all crime will end when women stop being portrayed as products.

The answer is no again. Crime against women will end only when we change our mind set. Women don’t attack men at isolated places and physically abuse them then why do men turn into beasts and attack women?  Surely there are other ways and places to find sexual gratification so why attack minors and unsuspecting victims?

Until men change their perspective about women, until they stop objectifying her, she will continue to be in danger at home, work place and street or anywhere irrespective of her age, class, colour or status.

Bhawana Somaaya/

Cutting Chai with Bhawana Somaaya - Day 19

Woman: Product or Endangered
19.1.2013, Mumbai

In the olden days woman was never a product and never in danger. She was the conscience of the family, the backbone of society and the pride of the nation. Nature defined her as the procreator and religion as a deity.

For a long time she was reverential and fiercely protected both by the family and society. This did not any way mean that she was either weak or inferior. She participated in the national movement and marched shoulder to shoulder with her man.

When the country was free she was as much a support to her man at home as outside. It was because she carried food for her spouse to the fields in the villages that the farmer was able to raise a healthy crop. She minded the shops in between her house work while her small town husband took a break and she was an asset contributing ideas to her city born business spouse who knew how to earn crores but was clueless in how to save rupees.

Life was fairly uncomplicated in the 60s as well when the country was celebrating independence. India so far ruled by outsiders had never known to fend for itself and therefore this was a slippery phase of trial and errors in every possible way. The country was in a happy confused state and this was reflecting in all the performing mediums. There were alarming highs and startling lows in every sphere combined with an amazing confidence that one would be able to turn the wheel when one desired.

The nation was going through shifting equations and this reflected in society and consequently family systems as well. This was the decade when the joint family began crumbling. Having tasted freedom everybody desired a carefree lifestyle, free of responsibility and accountability. Most of them did manage to break free and those who didn’t felt oppressed.

The 70s was a turbulent time. The country had achieved freedom but without adequate preparation. The common man was frustrated without opportunities and society at large was repressed. It has been noticed that when circumstances downslide relationships change drastically. Unemployment was a growing problem and the youth was anti establishment and angry. It was time for the woman to get out of the house and share into the family kitty. She did.

(Feature for Kolkata’s Bengali magazine Samayer Kolaj. To be continued tomorrow)
Bhawana Somaaya/

Friday, 18 January 2013

Cutting Chai with Bhawana Somaaya - Day 18

Bandook surprises Inkaar introspects
18. 1.2013, Mumbai

Aditya Om ki Bandook ye sabit karti hain ki kissi bhi film ko poster se nahi parkha ja sakta.

Bandook Uttar Pradesh ke police, panchayat aur raajneeti ke atyachar ki kahani hain.

Gaon ka ek sadharan ladke Bhola ka sabne apne fayde ke liye istimaal kiya. Inn saare atyacharon ke bawajood Bhola victim nahi hain.

Bhola taqatwar logon se daav pech samajhkar khud taqatwar banta hain. Kehta hai jab kalam pakadne ka samay tha tab kalam pakdi nahi isliye ab bandook uthata hai.

Film ki likhawat – dialogues – action aur khas taurpe Nikhil Kamath ka sangit bahtareen hai.

Aditya Om film ke producer director aur writer ke saath saath film ke hero bhi hain aur ye saari bhumikayein bakhubi se nibhate hain.

Film ki heroine Manish Kalekar ka role chotta magar prabhavshali hain. Kalekar sundar hai aur achi adakara bhi.

Aditya Om teen filmmakers’ se prabhavit hain – Ram Gopal Verma- Anurag Kashyap aur Prakash Jha aur Bandook ye teenon ki style of filmmaking ka mishran hai.

Aditya ki ye pehli parakrami peshgi ke liye Bandook ko Big Entertainment Ratings milte hai 3 stars.


Sudhir Mishra ki Inkaar ek rishta ki kahani hai. Kaise rishta banta hai – palta hai – badalta hai aur tootta hai.

Aur kyon ki zyadatar rishte hamare sirf kaam ke dauran bante hain hume ye bhi sochna hai kya hamara rishta vyavsay ka hai…? Zimmedari ka…? Dosti ka…ya phir fayde ka…?

Aaj hum jis samaj mein jeete hai wahan dus mese ek vyakti apne kaam ke dauran atyachar ka shikar hai. 

Iske bawajood sexual harassment ke vishay par ab tak sirf ek film bani hai – Aitraaz.

Aitraaz mein female boss Priyanka Chopra apne male colleague Akshay Kumar se zyati taurpe bohat kuch chahti hai aur use sabak sikhane ke liye Akshay ki biwi Kareena Kapoor uspar muqadama chalati hai.

Inkaar mein Arjun Rampal aur Chitrangda Singh equals hain. Rampal Ad Agency ka Ceo hai aur Chitrangda Singh group ki National Creative Director.

Singh Rampal par sexual harassment ka dava karti hai aur ad agency ko majbooran Complain Committee bithani padti hain.

Dhai din ke lagatar sawal jawab ke baad- Committee Officer Deepti Naval koi nateeje par nahi pohachti.
Audience ka haal bhi kuch aisa hi hai – hum aakhir tak ye tayy nahi kar paate ki kaun sacha aur kaun jootha hai.

2012 mein lagoo kiya gaya Section 14 aise mamlo mein ek eklauta Gender Neutral law hai – jo aurat mard ka bhed bhav na karte hue sachai ko parakhta hai. Inkaar ka issi saal release hona ek nayi soch aur badlav ka pratik hai.

Director Sudhir Mishra ki zyadatar filmein samajik samasyaon par hot hai aur Inkaar inmein se ek hai.

Ek campaign ke peeche kitne sapne palte aur bikharte hain…ek promotion ke peeche kitne dil jalte aur tootte hain…

Inkaar ko sirf achi ya burri kehkar kharij karna film ke saath zyaati hogi kyon bohat saari khamiyon ke bawajood film Cinema ke itihaas ka ek naya panna palatti hai.

Aur sirf iss baat ke liye Inkaar ko Big Entertainment Ratings milte hai 3.5 stars.

Bhawana Somaaya/

Cutting Chai with Bhawana Somaaya - Day 17

Writer & an Actor
17 .1.2013, Mumbai

Writing a book is in many ways like working on a film. When an author works on his manuscript he/ she are engrossed in it and write from morning to night.

She lives the characters and is consumed with the content. Every day, every page and every chapter is a challenge to rise to the occasion and deliver the best just like every shot and every scene in a film is a challenge is for the actor.

The film takes approximately a year to complete and most of the time the actor is disconnected from the post production except for his dubbing and time allotted for the promotion of the film.  The author is in a similar situation. If he is a journalist he edits his own copy but there are many writers who hire professionals to over view their manuscripts for them.

The editing of the manuscript - like the dubbing for an actor is a time for the creator to review and reflect on what is created. Professional journalists don't need that much editing and most films are shot in sync sound these days as a result the next step for both is the post production.

The actor, unless he is also the producer of the film gets periodic feedback on the progress of the film. Technicians involved at different phases, share, opine and contribute their insights on the product and thus begin a quiet, gradual process of the film going public.

By the time the author completes her manuscript and gets the first feedback - usually a line mail from the editor 12 months have gone by and much against her wishes the author has disconnected and moved on to another book. The adrenaline rushes when she is sent the cover design of the book by the publisher and asked to proof read the final corrections.

This is the moment for excitement and self doubt. The moment of truth when the author wonders if the manuscript lives up to the promises of the seductive cover? Will the reader be interested in the content? Is the book engaging enough to be printed, published and put on the stands? Is the author not over estimating her creativity?

Perhaps the actor goes through similar emotions when shown the first promotion or poster of their film but I wonder if he is ever filled with self doubt. The producer may have invested the crores but the actor is expected to make or break the film. He has to sell the tickets and please the critics with his performance.  In the same way the publisher hopes that the author/book will generate good sales and good reviews.

Both go through the grind of aggressive promotions. Just like a premier attended with superstars generates awareness, authors invite celebrities to read passages to lure the crowd.

Finally, it is a battle of nerves but there is another important lesson to learn and that is no matter what the pressures an artiste must always put her best foot forward and take accountability for what he does - in my case - what I write!!

Bhawana Somaaya/

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Cutting Chai with Bhawana Somaaya - Day 16

All about preview shows
16-01-2013, Mumbai

Have you ever wondered what happens at a film screening for film
reviewers? Well, the production house whose film is closer to release
usually appoints a PR company who gets in touch with citics and
invites them for a preview show which is usually held on Wednesday or
Thursday and incase of YRFilms on Friday morning.

The shows begin usually 20 minutes to half hour later than the time
given and the interval is long enough for everybody to visit the
washroom and collect their popcorn packets.

Some media members take notes in their diaries with their mobile phone
lights. Most of them prefer to just enjoy the film.

In the olden days till the late 70s all press screenings were held in
South Bombay closer to media offices at a  preview theatre in Colaba
called Blaze. The theatre had lights attached to the handle of the
seats to facilitate critics incase they wished to make notes.
Only a few preview shows has this facility today and they are usually
booked for the censor committees.

Back to Blaze , a handful of senior critics from leading English and
regional papers were invited for the press show and the reviews those
days appeared not on Friday but Sunday.

This was a boon for the producers who enjoyed three full days to
recover investment before the media panned their film on Sunday. Still
thye filmmaker was always tense because the reviews affected the
advance booking of the following week.

In the 80s the venue for the preview shifted to midtown Famous at
Worli. This was a bigger theatre than Blaze and now bigger crowd
comprising budding newpapers and film magazines who devoted a special
section to cinema also attended the press shows.

The 90s brought the itelevision, the intenet and the 200 the
multimedia as a result the press shows became as big as a premier and
shifted to multiplexes. Producers with small budgets preferred the
cosy theatres and invited only a small crowd iseriously nclined to

This week there are 3 releases of different genres and budgets and
preview shows held in different surroundings. We saw Bandook at a cosy
theatre in a bylane of suburbs. Inkaar in a multiplex and Mumbai
Mirror has done away with the press show to  directly invite all to a
premier in a cheerful multiplex.

Bhawana Somaaya/