Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Cutting Chai with Bhawana Somaaya - Day 55

Oscar Awards disappointing
26. 2. 2013, Mumbai

I could not rise early in the morning to watch the Oscar ceremony so kept awake late last night to watch the Academy Awards.

It was a no show this year with very poor script, uncharismatic anchors, mediocre performances, boring gags and predictable speeches. Infact this is the first time I felt that our award ceremonies – even vastly influenced by them are in many ways far more entertaining than the Oscars.

Before I start to compare the two I have to say that it’s amusing the way we have started to blindly ape Hollywood in content, style and behaviour! You will seldom find the men in a Kurta or a Sherwani. They are all attired in Black suits and the women have discarded the vibrant saris
for autumn color gowns and what’s more they unabashedly discuss what they are wearing on the red carpet.

Gone are the days of Namaskar now all of them hug each other and blow air kisses. All of them walk hand in hand because the women wear deadly heels and can barely balance without support.

Until recently all our shows are hosted in English, it is only because of the demand on the channel that the hosts are now speaking in Hindi or in a combination of English and Hindi though majority of our winners still make Thank You speeches in English which they must not because these are awards given for their contribution to Hindi films.

The Academy has short/ animation/ documentary/ foreign film categories. We have popular and more popular categories to divide all genres of cinema.

They begin with the Supporting Actor Awards and leave the distinguished Technical Awards towards the end! We begin with Technical Awards because there is no face value to them and leave the Supporting Awards as a runner to the main awards.

They attend the event with a single companion and if there are more guests they join in the gallery with other guests. We attend the event with friend/ family/ manager/ spouse and all of them sit together irrespective of the embarrassment caused to the host.

Bhawana Somaaya/ www.bhawanasomaaya.com

Cutting Chai with Bhawana Somaaya - Day 54

Untold Stories
23.2.2013, Mumbai

The recent heinous gang-rape in Delhi has set off a national debate, one question of
which is: How does popular culture portray women? What is the gender equation in
cinema and TV? What impact does this have on the audience? The screenwriting
community meets every two years at a national conference to debate issues important
to society. The stalwarts collectively reflect and enlighten an engaging audience.



Two years ago the workshop was held in Pune. Last year at the Whistling Woods, Mumbai and this year they have moved to a more convenient address and a bigger auditorium St Andrews, Mumbai. Next week on February 25, 26 , 27 all roads will lead to Bandra where around 800 screenwriters and writer-directors from across the country are expected to participate in the conference and this includes Javed Akhtar, Gulzar, Ashutosh Gowariker, Govind Nihalani, Anurag Basu, Rakeysh Mehra joined by the young turks of Indian screenwriting like Juhi Chaturvedi (Vicky Donor), Abbas
Tyrewala (Jaane Tu..), Habib Faisal (Ishaqzaade) and others.

The established and new luminaries will discuss and debate the burning questions
dogging the community, including the social responsibilities of screenwriters. Also
present on the occasion will be renowned writers from Hollywood, Tom Schulman
Oscar winner for Dead Poets Society. New forms of writing in both TV and cinema
are challenging established imperatives of storytelling. The conference will discuss
that.

The Film Writers Association fights for the rights of the writer. The Copyright Act
has been amended, and the Minimum Basic Contract between writers and producers is
almost finalized. Writers are the architects of narratives that films and TV shows are
based on. The conference seeks to strengthen their position in the filmmaking process.

Says Anjum Rajabali, the convener for the conference that while it is wonderful
that the mainstream cinema is taking large leaps at the box office and television
viewership has setting new benchmarks, it is unfortunate that we have disconnected
from social realities. Themes which were the backbone of our narratives like the
struggle of the common man, rural exploitation; social injustice, caste oppression,
economic polarization and distress don’t seem to inspire our filmmakers any longer.

I have attended all the FWA workshops and found them enlightening. I will be parked
at St Andrews for all three days, will you?

Bhawana Somaaya/ www.bhawanasomaaya.com

Friday, 22 February 2013

Cutting Chai with Bhawana Somaaya - Day 53


Film scores over book
22.02.2013, Mumbai

UTV ki Kai Po Che prasidh lekhak Chetan Bhagat ki kitab The 3 Mistakes of My
Life par adharit hain.

Upanyaason par adharit zyadatar filmein hume isliye nirash karti hain kyon ki 300
panno ka nichod keval 2.5 ghante ki film mein darshana bohat hi kathin prayas
hain.

Kai Po Che ek anokha udharan hain jahan film kitab se zyaada dilchasp hain aur iska shrey jaata hain Pubali Chaudhari aur
Supratik Sen, ke bohat precise aur effective screenplay ko.

Film ke dher saare plus points hain: Sabse pehle teenon ladke – Sushant Singh
Rajput, Raj Kumar aur Amit Sad ke extra-ordinary performances.

Phir film ki sound – cinematographt - art design – music aur film ka part fiction
part reality plot.

Ye kahani hain teen doston ke junoon aur jasbaad ki. Unke hausle aur sunghursh
ki.

Ishaan, Omi aur Govind apne sapnon se bas kuch kadam door hain jab achchanak
sab kuch bikhar jaata hain!

Director Abhishek Kapoor Rock On ke baad ek aur jawaan aur dilchasp film lekar
aaye hain - is baar set in Ahmedabad.

Abhishek Amdabad shehar ko ek kirdaar ki tarha pesh karte hain –
phir wo tang galiyon ke chottee ghar ho ya scootor o se bhari shorrogol sadkein..

Amdabad Sankrant ke utsav mein uchalta hain – Navratri ke jalse mein jhoomta
hain aur jab Bhookamp aata hain toh tootta hain…!!

Film ki pace thodi dheemi hain – emotion/ drama quotient understated hain- magar
ye director ki khasiyat hain.

Kai Po Che mein ek saadgi aur thehraav hain jo Abhishek Kapoor ki khasiyaat
hain.

Film ki jaan – Swanand Kirkire ke gaane hain khas taurpe ‘ Ruthe khwabon ko
mana lenge…’

Kai Po Che ko ko Big Entertainment Ratings milte hain 3.5 stars.

***

Issi hafte ek angrezi release Silver Linings Playbook ka mention karna isliye
zaroori hain kyon ki kyon ismein Bhartiya actor Anupam Kher ne bada role kiya
hain.

David O Russel ki Silver Lining Playbook Angrezi zaban mein Hindi film hain –
jahan Karan Johar k ki filmon ki tarha pariwar ke baare mein hain.

Har pariwar mein kuch na kuch problems hote hain. Ismein bhi hain.

Chotta beta mansik tanav ki wajah se lambe arse aspatal mein raha hain. Ab jab
who ghar laut aaya hain toh sab kuch pehle jaisi nahi ho sakta.

Kahani complexities ke baare mein hain magar bohat hi humorously pesh li gayi
hain.

Hindi filmon ki tarha plot predictable hain aur solution bhi hume pehle se pata
hain.

Phir bhi film dekhni chahiye film ki khupsurat likhawat, saucy dialogues aur
lajawab performances ke liye.

Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, Robert De Niro aur apne Anupam Kher ko Dr
Patel ki bhumika mein dekhne ke liye.

Silver Lining Playbook ko Big Entertainment Ratings milte hain 3 stars.

Bhawana Somaaya/ www.bhawanasomaaya.com

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Cutting Chai with Bhawana Somaaya - Day 52

It is about anguish not stunts
21.2.2013, Mumbai

Over the years the controversies have multiplied and filmmakers now more exposed are better equipped to face challenges. Having a big banner behind them in such troubled times is certainly an asset. 

Mani Ratnam was fortunate to have AB Corp fighting for the release of Bombay based on communal riots and Yash Raj Films ironing out political differences against their hero Aamir Khan during Fanaa in Gujarat and resolving an objection to a line in a song in Madhuri Dixit’s Aaja Nachle.

Not all were as fortunate. Some had to fight lonely battles and they did with courage and conviction. Shekhar Kapoor spoke extensively to garner support for the release of Bandit Queen.

Anurag Kashyap motivated the media to create hype for Black Friday based on the bomb blasts which in a way silenced his detractors.

Rahul Dholakia and Nandita Das mobilised support from activists, NGOs and evolved individuals to create awareness for Parzania on communal riots in Mumbai and Firaaq on what happened in Godhra.

When Karan Johar’s My Name is Khan was under fire the filmmaker was accused of deliberately courting controversy to gain attention! This is absolutely ridiculous! Why would any sane person indulge in negative publicity, also it isn’t as if Johar has never been in the spotlight that he needs to resort to gimmicks.

It is unfortunate that every time a film is opposed, the first accusation always hurled at the artiste/filmmaker in question is that he is doing it to grab publicity. Let me put this on record for the ignorant that a producer who invests Rs 50 crore in his film can easily spend another few lakhs to buy publicity for him and does not need such stunts!

Bhawana Somaaya/ www.bhawanasomaaya.com

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Cutting Chai with Bhawana Somaaya - Day 51


Creative freedom
20.2. 2013, Mumbai

In Andhra Pradesh Pawan Kalyan’s Cameraman Ganago tho Rambabu runs into trouble over Telangana issue…Denikaina Ready irks Brahmins for depicting a Hindu priest gorging over non-vegetarian food…

In Tamil Nadu Kamal Haasan is prevented from releasing his multi language Viswaroopam because Muslims are upset over the portrayal of the terrorist…

In Kolkata Teen Kanya based on the three rape incidents in the city is prohibited from exhibition in anticipation of protests from the audience…

In Maharashtra a film on the life story of Bal Thackeray Jenda is strongly opposed and crushed by Shiv Sena party…

In Gujarat Amar Solanki’s Namo Sav Ne Gammo a bio pic on Chief Minister Modi scheduled for release during elections is disrupted in the last schedule with a stay order until the producer fights and wins the battle in the court…

Sensitive subjects and controversial releases are not new phenomena.

Some months ago when Prakash Jha made Aarakshan, Madhya Pradesh government accused the filmmaker of misrepresenting Reservation Quota...

Some years ago when Ashutosh Gowariker made Jodha Akbar Rajput Karnik Sena accused him of distorting history…

Some decades ago when Deepa Mehta made Fire the moral custodians lashed out at her for soiling the image of India...

There is more…

In the 70s Gulzar’s Aandhi faced serious censor problems because the story of the heroine vaguely resembled the life of Indira Gandhi, India’s then Prime Minister.

In the 80s Tinnu Anand’s Shahenshah release became a law and order situation because the hero of the film Amitabh Bachchan was Congress party then and therefore a target of the opposition.

(To be continued)
Bhawana Somaaya/ www.bhawanasomaaya.com

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Cutting Chai with Bhawana Somaaya - Day 50


Masoom Days
19.2. 2013, Mumbai

This morning I received a surprise letter from veteran producer Devi Dutt, younger brother of legendary filmmaker Guru Dutt. Devi Dutt has produced many significant films including Shekhar Kapoor’s debut project Masoom

On 8 February Dutt turned 75 and announced to his friends and well wishers that he is penning his memoirs and will be ready to release his book sometime next year.  Devi Dutt recalls that when they were shooting Mr & Mrs 55 the story of the film demanded a display of many cartoons. 

RK Laxman was committed to submit the cartoons but was out of town when the shooting was scheduled. Somebody from the unit recommended Bal Thackeray and got his permission to display his art. Bal Thackeray, a relatively unknown name then gave his cartoons and did not charge any money because he was an admirer of Guru Dutt. 

Thackeray said “It is my fortune that the world will watch my cartoons through this film.”

I did costumes for Shabana Azmi in Massom and remember her telling me that Naseer would read and re-read his script constantly which is why his was such a finely calibrated performance in the film. She said, “I learned from him the value of doing that and today if you see my scripts, they are full of my scribbled notes .I may not necessarily refer to them before every scene I perform but I know that I have processed them and these notes work as a good starting point while shooting rather than arrive on the sets without doing any homework....”

I guess methods of working like everything else alters with time be it acting or writing. What worked for me 30 years ago may not work for me today but but the basic guidelines remain the same.

Bhawana Somaaya/ www.bhawanasomaaya.com

Cutting Chai with Bhawana Somaaya - Day 49


Premiers are bores!
18. 2.2013, Mumbai

It is 9pm at Cinemax Theatre, Andheri and I’m invited to watch the screening of Abhishek Kapoor’s Kai Po Che. It is the premier night and the outside of the theatre is laid up with a red carpet for celebrity guests. 

They have decorated the ambience with colorful kites and as you walk upstairs you discover fairy lit trees strung with bigger and better kites.

Writer Anjum Rajabali seldom spotted at such events is confused why any producer would invite guests and not begin screening on time. Director Sujoy Ghosh standing around looked up at the sky and blinked. It was evident he was in the seventh heaven having won almost all the awards for Kahani this season.

Filmmakers Abbas Mastan more experienced with premiers were more patient. They explained that no matter how restless everybody got the film will begin when it has to and till then all they can do is wait and watch.

Finally at 9:30 we were allowed inside the theatres and the screening began at 10pm. My simple question is if the show is at 10pm why does the invite say 8pm? Unless the producer is insecure that we will not come on time and miss the beginning!

Can this decision be left to us please?

Bhawana Somaaya/www.bhawanasomaaya.com

Cutting Chai with Bhawana Somaaya - Day 48

Reading Time 
17.2.2013, Mumbai

Sometimes, it is important to do nothing. Sometimes it is necessary to not write at all in order to be able to complete all the books that you are reading. Today is reserved for completing all the reading material parked beside the bed and that includes Ascension by Diana Cooper. A friend sent me this book and insists that reading it has changed his life. Sri Isopanisad from Bhaktivedanta Book Trust that introduces teachings of Vedas – slightly heavy but relevant for those inclined towards Krsna consciousness...

In the cinema section are two books. Sage Publications have sent Bollywood Baddies that profiles the villains, the vamps and the henchmen in Hindi cinema, have read the foreword and seems like an interesting book by Tapan K Ghosh.

And ShobhaaDe debut imprint Kareena Kapoor: Style Diary of Diva where Kareena shares fashion, beauty and make-up tricks. She is the style guru who tells you what to wear when and shine and also how to eat right and make this into a way of life.

I’m trying very hard to absorb the light of Ascension and also to become stylish after reading tips from Bollywood’s Bebo.

Bhawana Somaaya/ www.bhawanasomaaya.com

Cutting Chai with Bhawana Somaaya - Day 47

Parents trapped
16.2.2013, Mumbai

I write this blog in great concern and anguish. It is for all the parents who think their children leave home early morning to attend college.

As a radio journalist I have to reach the studio every morning at 8.15 and have to walk past the Cinemax Theatre, Versova to take entry into the Big FM Studio.

Every morning there are young students with college bags strung on their shoulders assembled on the steps of the Box-office ticket window snuggled next to their lovers.

They come day after day and are parked on the steps from morning till evening when I walk down the same path for my evening link to the studio again.

It is evident that these young boys and girls are not attending college and are not in the least bit ashamed of their behaviour. 

My worry is for the anxious mothers who wake up early in the morning to make breakfast for their kids thinking they are studying so hard at college. Maybe they should pay a surprise visit to Fun Republic and Cinemax Theatre in Versova and give them a dose of parental guidance.

Bhawana Somaaya/ www.bhawanasomaaya.com

Friday, 15 February 2013

Cutting Chai with Bhawana Somaaya - Day 46

Jayanabhai dull,  Murder 3 surprises!
15.2.2013, Mumbai

Iss hafte do releases hain: Kumar Taurani ki Jayantibhai ki Love Story aur Vishesh Films ki Murder 3.

Pehle baat karte hain Jayantbhai Ki Love Story ki.  Ye kahani hai ek gangster aur uske neighbour ki pehle noke jhok - aur phir prem kahani ki.

Film ka problem ye hain - ki nahi toh ye underworld ki kahani hain aur naihi koi khas romantic film hain.

Writer Kiran Kotrial ne sivay hero Vivek Oberoi ke kissi characterization par dhyan nahi diya hain. Aisa lagta hain jaise screenplay forced gaane aur action scenes ke beech bikhra hua hain.

Jayanatibhai ki Love Story na aap ko hasati hain na rulati hain aur na hi aapko engage karti hain.

Film ki saving grace hain – sirf aur sirf - Vivek Oberoi magar afsos film unka saath nahi deti.

Jayantbhai ki Love Story ko Big Entertainment Ratings milte hain 2** stars.

**
 
Vishesh Bhatt ki Murder 3 Vishesh banner ki baaki suspense films ki tarha new faces, super music, exotic locations aur steamy scenes ka mishran hain.

Kahani bohat simple hain. Ek ladka ladki ke beech pyaar hain aur phir ladki ladke se khafa ho jaati hain. 

Phir ek aur ladki aati hain aur wo bhi kuch naach gaane aur romance ke baad pareshan ho jati hain.

Interval ke pehle film thodi si dull lagti hain aur characters illogical. Interval ke baad darane ke liye aapko wohi kadakti bijli – khadakte darwazein aur saanson ka ahsaas…

In sab ke bawajood film mein ek navinta hain – director ka victim ko pesh karne ka nazariya alag hai.

Film ki structuring aur dialogues engaging hain aur sab se badi baat film thriller hote hue kissi bhi superstition ko badhawa nahi deti.

Haan end kuch abrupt hai aur performances bhi kuch khaas nahi hain. Naya chehra Sara Loren khupsurat hain – Randeep Hooda competent aur Aditi Hyder khupsurat hai aur achi adakara bhi.

Murder 3 ko Big Entertainment Ratings milte hain 3*** stars.

Bhawana Somaaya/ www.bhawanasomaaya.com

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Cutting Chai with Bhawana Somaaya - Day 45


Love is in the air
14.2.2013, Mumbai

Once again it is the day to remember love. Listed below are my few favourite romantic moments in Hindi films.

I remember the magnetic Meena Kumari expressing her woes in ‘Ajeeb dastaan hain yeh...’ in Dil Apna Aur Preet Parayee. On a moonlit night and in the middle of the sea, the heroine and her friends are celebrating the marriage of a colleague (Raaj Kumar with Nadira). It’s a tragic moment for the heroine who has all along silently loved the hero. Her conflicting emotions are effectively portrayed through her brilliant close-ups.

There is mischief in Shakeel Badayuni’s ‘Tere husn ki kya taarif karoon’ in Leader wherein the writer encourages the lovers to flirt with each other before admitting to attraction. Adding to the magic is the emotional rendering by Mohammad Rafi and Lata Mangeshkar and later, the palpable chemistry between Dilip Kumar and Vyjayanti Mala.

In Saraswati Chandra Nutan plucks the flower from her braid and attaches it to her letter addressed to her fiancĂ© ‘Phool tumhe bheja hai khat mein...’ is more impressive than any of the red roses or heart-shaped bouquets available at the florists. In the same film, the hero singing ‘Chandan sa badan...’ in praise of her beauty and her unabashed response to his praise is erotic.

On a slightly regressive note but deeply effective is a blushing Mala Sinha confessing to contentment in marriage to Dharmendra in Raja Mehdi Ali Khan’s lyrics ‘Aap ki nazaro ne samjha...’ in Mohan Kumar’s Anpadh. The line, ‘ji hame manzoor hain aapka ye faisla...’ is about total surrender in love rendered by Lata Mangeshkar in music composed by Madan Mohan.

It is interesting how love transforms in every decade. In the 50s love was often unrequited; in the 60s love was about commitment and had to end in marriage. In the 70s it was about self esteem, in the 80s about parental opposition, in the 90s about parental approval, in 2000 about friendship and 2010 about entertainment.

The feeling has been consistent just the way of expression has changed and that is why Mani Ratnam’s Guru is different from Viddhu Vinod Chopra’s Parineeta and Farhan Akhtar’s Dil Chahta Hai is different from Imtiaaz Ali’s Jab We Met.

Raj Kapoor’s Barsaat was different from Kamal Amrohi’s Pakeezah and Yash Chopra’s Lamhe from Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Devdaas or Ashutosh Gowariker’s Jodha Akbar

That is the beauty about love. It means different things to different people at different times!

Bhawana Somaaya/ www.bhawanasomaaya.com