Monday 25 March 2013

Cutting Chai with Bhawana Somaaya - Day: 74

Sweet 60
25.3.2013, Mumbai

As you turn 60 Sheeya, your gang of friends presents you a bouquet of sweet sour memories...

Cynthia remembers you in a flap skirt and T shirt sipping tea in SIES canteen…
Tabi in a crisp sari draped over a sleeveless blouse squatted on the marble steps of KC College…
Sarita recalls your romance with Johnny and marriage at a local church…
Bharati cracks up imitating your mother’s attempt to converse with her in Hindi at the Big Boy shop…Once on a winter morning in Atlanta Bharti went shopping with your mom and another friend and all three got lost in separate directions.

I have memories of you mistaking dhoklas served at my Kings Circle home for fried fish and shocking her mother…I remember you driving all the way to New York to take me home with you to Atlanta.

I remember a crazy dinner at a seaside restaurant when we saw the sun dipping into the water…Next morning; you took me to church and asked her not to follow you to the priest. But I did foolishly and unknowingly received Communion...

Then Urmila was Baby…Sarita was Sarrta…Bhakti was Tabi…Cynthia was Cynthu…Bharati was BP… and you were Sheeya…!! Those were days of 8 Ltd buses, 8.40am and 1.40 pm local trains, 25 paisa tea glass and Rs 3.50 for non veg samosas. Then we were forever hungry and forever broke, forever anxious and forever joyous…!.

They say memories were frozen into time but as I write this I discover that the fragrance of our friendship over the decades is intact. Milestone birthdays are reminders of our weak and strong moments, happy/ sad images of sepia days…

We remember how you loved painting your toe nails and relished your monthly facials at the beautician. You loved idlis and generously soaked them into a plate full of sambbar and savored every bite. You had favourite expressions and they were so characteristic you.

Whenever any of us purchased or wore something attractive, you gave an appraising look and whispered ‘Giving…?’ When you wished to tease us about our indulgences you said ‘Rich people…’ and when you were disappointed with outcome of events you merely sighed and said ‘Sad yaar…’

At an age when it was easy to follow the herd you had the moral courage to stand apart.

You were the first to protest our idling time at Hotel Ritz and set an example by staying away. You were against splurging on taxis and mastered the art of expertly traveling by public transport by hopping into buses that brought you closer to destination.

Then, we thought you were crazy. Today I feel it is an innovative technique to not just travel but lead life.
If we take one step at a time there is always a solution to every problem. We don’t need taxis for short cuts when we can hop into innumerable buses and reflect on our journey of life…
Love from the gang.

Bhawana Somaaya/

Cutting Chai with Bhawana Somaaya - Day 73

Good performances but no fear or color
22.3.2013, Mumbai

Iss hafte 2 badi releases hain – Pehli horror – Aatmaa – doosri social –Rangrez.

Pehle baat karte hain Aatma ki - horror Genre mein - pariwarik aur samajik kahani hain jahan oppressor - ghar ke bahar nahi - ghar ke andar hain.

Film ki premise - casting – performances aur sandesh -abtak ki Ram Gopal Varma aur Vikram Bhatt ki horror filmon se bilkul alag hain.

Aatmaa darana ke saath - kuch aham muddein - jaise marital rape -child possession aur excessive violence uthati hain...

Film ka plus film ke supporting performances aur lead cast -Bipasha Basu aur khas taurpe – Nawauzzudin Siddiqui!!

Film ka minus – story ka restricted plot - locations aur sabse badi baat - no surprises at all!

Aatmaa ko Big Entertainment Ratings milte hain 3 stars !


Priyadarshan ki Rangrezz peechle dus salon ki filmon ki tarha - ek aur teen doston ki kahani hain.

Rangrezz - Rishi -Pakkya aur Vinod ke sapne- aur unki zindagi ke uttar chadhav ki kahani hain.

Concept purana hain – magar kuch naya bhi – film mein ek enthusiasm, energy aur saath hi mein samaj ko badalne ki chetan hain.

Film ka plus - Jacki Bhagnani aur saare naye kalakar. – film ka minus film ka abrupt aur clumsy climax.

Director Priyardarshan ki khasiyat unke characters hote hain – iss baar bhi – aur hamesha ki tarha sb kuch inconsistent hota hain –woh bhi iss baar hain.

Rangrezz ko Big Entertainment Ratings milte hain 3 stars.

Bhawana Somaaya/

Friday 22 March 2013

Cutting Chai with Bhawana Somaaya - Day 72

Children & Parents
21.3.2013, Mumbai

I had just got back from work when a very young voice on the inter comp said 'Aunty we are holding a creative exhibition and we will appreciate if you come down right away and buy some stuff'.

I grabbed my house keys and rushed down to show my solidarity to the building kids. The cards personally designed by a bunch of kids were artistically spread in the lobby for sale. As I walked around appreciating their talent, they added colorful stickers to the cards and believe it or not even pasted a price tag on each and these kids are all under 10 and did what they did without adult intervention.

I picked up five envelopes designed by five kids – Ruhee, Mehak, Reshma and Anika. When I asked the oldest kid how much I should pay for the cards, Ruhee took a moment to reply 'It is Rs 30 per card but there is a discount of rupees 10 for all the aunties in the building.’ Then after a brief pause she added ‘Aunty, the proceeds of all the sales will be contributed to charity.'

And how and where will you find this charity, I asked the kids? 'That we don’t know but we will buy creamy biscuits and distribute them to children who don't have biscuits every day and if there is more money we will buy the poor children ice creams as well.'

Children learn from watching adults and if these children have their hearts in place, it is because their parents are imparting the right values to them.

Bhawana Somaaya/

Cutting Chai with Bhawana Somaaya - Day 71

Unreasonable Enteratainment!
20.3. 2013, Mumbai

At the recently held conference organized by the Film Writers Association was a panel discussion on the changing role of entertainment on television where Gajara Kottary writer of Balika Vadhu said that their show had addressed all the social evils like child marriage, marital rape, education, remarriage, dowry and more. Other writers on the panel endorsed that writing in television was no more regressive.

Yesterday, while surfing channels on television I happened to spend time watching some of these episodes and found them far from progressive, in fact all of them appalling.

Sample the following

Iccha in Uttaran on Colors walks on thorns and fills water from the village well to bathe the Shivling from dawn to dusk because the family priest has advised that it is the only way to save her husband from pending danger.

Parvati in Devon ka Dev asks husband Mahadev to gift her garland comprising flowers of every season and if he cannot during the stipulated time, she will erase all memories from her heart. Mahadev fails for justified reasons and Parvati seeks voluntary amnesia!

Is this what the panelists call progressive, I feel it unreasonable entertainment!

Bhawana Somaaya/

Wednesday 20 March 2013

Cutting Chai with Bhawana Somaaya - Day 70

Moral stories learnt in school...
19.3.2013, Mumbai

In our building we celebrate one day of the month together over chai and samosas while a great part of the evening is taken up discussing newspaper headlines, this time, for some strange reason the conversation drifted to moral stories learnt in school. I recalled a memorable poem recited for elocution competition and this poem is as relevant today and an answer to many Mental Health issues. I reproduce the poem to the best of my memory and if there are some altercations blame it to my fertile imagination.

Magic Shirt by J Hay

The king was sick, his cheek was red. His eyes were clear and bright. But he said he was sick and a king should know for the doctors came by score.

They did not cure him. He cut off their heads and sent to the school for more.

At last, two famous doctors came. One was as poor as a rat that had passed his life in studios toil and never found time to grow fat.

The other was just the opposite. His patients gave him no trouble. If they recover3ed they paid him well. If they died their heirs paid double.

Together they looked at the royal tongue while the king on his couch reclined. In succession they thumped his august chest but no trace of disease was found.

‘You are as sound as a nut’ said the first. ‘Hang him up’ roared the king in his royal rage.

The other leech grew a shade pale but soon he rubbed his sagacious nose and thus his prescription ran: The king will be well if he sleeps one night in the shirt of a happy man!

Wide Ore the couriers rode and fast their horses ran, to the many they saw and to the many they spoke, they found no happy man.

They saw two men by the roadside sit and both bemoaned their loss. For one had buried his wife he said and the other one had not.

At last they came to a village gate and they saw a beggar there. He laughed and roamed without a care in the soft June air.

‘This is our man’ the courier said ‘Our luck has led us right…Heaven save you friend, you seem to be happy today?’ ‘O Yes fair sirs’ the beggar smiled. ‘A poor man has so much to do that he never finds time to be sad.’

‘We will give you a 100dollars for the loan of your shirt tonight’. The beggar laughed till his face was black and then said he in the softest voice ‘I would give what not but I haven’t a shirt on my back.’

Every day to the king the reports came in of his unsuccessful spies and the sad panorama of human woes passed daily under his eyes. He got up and walked and toiled in his own appointed way.

The people blessed him and the king was well and gay!

Bhawana Somaaya/

Friday 15 March 2013

Cutting Chai with Bhawana Somaaya - Day 69

Mere Dad ki Maruti engages, Jolly LLB makes you think!
15.3.2013, Mumbai

Iss hafte 3 releases hain : Do Social comedies - Jolly LLB aur Mere Dad ki Maruti.

Baat karte hain Subhash Kapoor ki Jolly LLB ki. Jolly yaane Arshad Warsi un hazaron lakhon wakilon mein hain jo apni shiksha toh sampurna kar lete hain magar apne sapne sampurna nahi kar paate.

Jolly apni kismet azmane Merrut se Delhi aata hain magar yahan bhi woh court ke bahar chakkar lagata hain. Jolly ka manna hain ki sabka time aata hain - Jolly ki mulakat India ke top lawyer Rajpal yaane Boman Irani se court mein hoti hain aur wahi se badalti hain Jolly ki kismet!

Jolly LLB humare Law system aur Judiciary ka aina hain - Jiss tarha se samaj mein har prakar ke log hote hain- ussi tarha se kanoon ke rakhwale bewafa aur imandar hote hain.

Isse corruption ki kahani kaha jaa sakta hain – isse insaaf ki kahani bhi kaha jaa sakta hain! Arshad aur Boman toh lajawab hain hi magar judge ki bhumika mein Saurabh Shukla aap ko stabdh kar denge.

Film mein sirf do khamiyaan hain – Pehli film ki marketing – ye comedy nahi –director ki peechli film Phas Gaye Obama ki tarha satire hain. Doosra - end credits mein zabardasti dala gaya item number.

Aisi sachhi aur jagrut film ko kissi banavti sahare ki zaroorat nahi hain.

Socially awakening aur engaging Jolly LLB ko Big Entertainment Ratings milte hain 3.5 stars.


Y Films ki Mere Dad ki Maruti - shaadi ki taiyaariyon mein lage Chandigarh ke pariwar ki kahani hain...

Jaise ki aisi kahaniyon mein akssar hota hain –aut YRFilms mein hamesha hota hain- ek hero-heroine ke saath – film mein hero ki behan - heroine ka bhai aur sab ke jigri dost bhi hain.

Inn sabki maujudgi ke bawajood - kahani romance ke baare mein nahi hain – kahani bachon ki nadaniyaan aur maa baap ke vishwas ki hain.

Ashima Chibber directed aur Shreyansh/Neeraj likhit Mere Dad ki Maruti kuch hassi mazak – aur kuch seeti bajakar – bohat saare pariwaik aur samajik aham mudde uthati hain. Kahani bhale hi suni sunayi lage magar film ka dil sahi jagah par hain.

Ram Kapoor toh bade ache lagte hi hain hain aur film ki star hain Maruti gaddi – petrol khatam hi nahi hoinda.

Mere Dad ki Maruti ko Big Entertsainment Ratings milte hain 3 stars.

Bhawana Somaaya /

Thursday 14 March 2013

Cutting Chai with Bhawana Somaaya - Day 68

Save the forests
14.3.2013, Mumbai

When all the trees have been cut down, when all the animals have been hunted, when all the waters are polluted, when all the air is unsafe to breathe, only then you will discover you cannot eat money….

The Central Indian Highlands Wildlife Film Festival (CIHWFF) has successfully completed its second consecutive year. It is the only film festival in the entire world that provides opportunity to participants to showcase talent and creativity and offers a platform to learn the craft of filmmaking.

The endeavor is to create a green economy that does not worsen climate change or destroy the planet in order to generate profits. One of the ways to do this is to plant more trees. Green economy is possible only when people practice eco-friendly policies of governments.

Madhya Pradesh has a total area of 308000 square kilometers out of which about 95211 square kilometers area is forest land. In terms of forest cover, the real picture is different. According to State of Forest Report released by the Forest Survey of India the estimated forest cover, including “trees outside forest”, is only about 77000 square kilometers in Madhya Pradesh.

Whatever remains of the forest is further threatened through the growth of forest in geometric progression. Sadly the villages set in the interiors of the forest are the nodal points that provide vital information to poachers and illicit loggers. And since both these operations are highly rewarding, there are pressures to connect the nodal points with the main roads.

Once this is accomplished, there is access to a tractor, trolley and lorries and once that happens, disappearance of the forest cover in a particular area is just a matter of time!

Bhawana Somaaya/

Cutting Chai with Bhawana Somaaya - Day 67

Big budgets, bigger marketing
13.3.2013, Mumbai

If Jason Statham-Jennifer Lopez starrer 'Parker' is having a limited release it is time to understand the dynamics of the distribution trade. There has been a sea-change in the trend of exhibition with the advent of the multiplexes in the last 5 to 10 years.

Mr Liaquat Gola of Dimension Pictures that purchased the Mumbai rights of 'Parker' from TOP Entertainment explains that the high cost of uploading a film in the 2K digital format -- inescapable since traditional 35 mm projection capability is no longer available in the larger multiplex chains -- was a limiting factor which made it difficult for the non-corporatised foreign film distributor to survive in the business.

Only a few 35mm prints of the original film are screened while the main revenue source in such cases comes from the dubbed Hindi/regional language versions at single-screens frequented by audiences receptive to routine action films like 'Parker' -- or 'Snitch', which is releasing as 'Lootere' in Hindi this Friday.

The smaller distributor is not the only one in trouble as the larger distribution companies face different kinds of problems like repeatedly shuffling release dates and the Censor Board has a role to play in all this: You may remember Sony forced to screen a mutilated version of 'The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo' sometime back, Multivision's 'Texas Chainsaw 3D' was initially refused a certificate but has now been passed by the Revising Committee without cuts. Such delays results in poor releases and poor box-office collections -- since only those Hollywood films opening in India within a short span after their US release get a higher cut from the multiplexes. So it is as tough a game for Disney’s 'Oz The Great' & 'Poweful' as it is for Jon Lucas-Scott Moore’s '21 & over'.

Bhawana Somaaya/

Tuesday 12 March 2013

Cutting Chai with Bhawana Somaaya - Day 66

The 99 Club
12.3.2013, Mumbai

A friend sent me this story by mail. I have tweaked it to make it all the more interesting. Read it and share it with your friends…

Once upon a time, there lived a King who, despite all the luxuries was neither happy nor content.

One day, the King spotted his slave who smiled and sang while he toiled in his fields. The King was curious. He said to himself I’m the ruler but so sad, my slave has nothing then why is he so joyous.

The King stopped his chariot and summoned the slave, 'What makes you so happy?'

'You’re Majesty, my family and I don't need too much to feel good. All we need is a roof above our heads and warm food to fill our tummies.'

The king was not convinced. He summoned his trusted advisor and told him the story of his slave.

His advisor said, 'Your Majesty, it is evident that your slave is not yet a part of The 99 Club.'

'And pray what is that?’ inquired the king.

'Just fill a bag with 99 gold coins and leave it outside your slave’s doorstep and you will find your answers.’

The king did what he was told.

When the slave saw the bag, he took it into his home and could not believe his fortune. He counted the coins over and over again and was curious about the missing one coin. He searched high and low and when he didn’t find it he decided to complete his centenary collection.

That day, the life of the carefree slave changed…!

Now the slave toiled day and night, he was always tired, grumpy and unhappy. He complained that his family did not help him earn money. He became so obsessed with gold coin that he stopped smiling… singing...

The King noticed the transformation. His advisor was right. His slave had now officially joined The 99 Club.

All of you reading this must remember that 99 Club is a name given to those who have everything to feel happy but are always yearning for more. The story of the slave is a lesson that we must not lose what we have in search of a coin…

Bhawana Somaaya/

Cutting Chai with Bhawana Somaaya - Day 65

A 'Hospital' fraud!
11.3.2013, Mumbai

I opened my mail and found this anguished letter which I need to share with all so that what happened to my friend should not happen to any one of us.

Hi Bhawana...

Pl read and forward/share with your social circle. This is a fraud that I personally experienced when my Mom was admitted to Bombay Hospital last week. Please alert people about FRAUD committed by BOMBAY HOSPITAL PHARMACY in nexus with the hospital staff.

Medicines that might not have even been prescribed by attending doctors & other non-necessary frivolous items (tissue boxes, thermometers, eau de cologne bottles, soap bars, gloves) are REPEATEDLY indented by the nurses -- IN EXCESS QUANTITY. And many times, even if the indented item (ordered multiple times by different nurses so difficult to keep track of) is not supplied, THE PATIENT IS STILL CHARGED FOR IT!!

My Mom's case (who's now recovering at home after a four-day stint at B.H.), PAN 40 (an antacid, to be taken only if necessary) has been INDENTED by the nurses 4 TIMES IN 27 HOURS! Each strip has 10 tablets; at the end of four days, my Mom had taken ONLY ONE TABLET. Of the remaining three unused strips, only two were traceable and returned to the pharmacy (for due credit).

The fourth strip was, most probably, not even delivered by the B.H. Pharmacy -- but it has been charged in the bill. And this is not just one stray instance but a REGULAR PATTERN that emerges in the billing. Another medicine (IMDUR 60) -- which was not available in the pharmacy and I was told to get from outside -- was nevertheless indented & charged TWICE. In this case, the Pharmacy definitely did not provide even one strip, yet credit was given only once.

The eau de cologne bottle (again something that was not really required for my Mom but arbitrarily ordered) supplied was of 100 ml but the charge was for a 250 ml bottle. To make it worse, the pharmacy initially refused to accept the (unopened) 100 ml bottle back claiming the supplied bottle was of 250 ml! Although they relented when I threatened to approach a higher- up, I couldn't get credit for the other fraudulently-charged items -- which I discovered only after paying the final bill.

I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one being scammed in this manner. One of the nurses admitted that over-ordering and over-charging was a common complaint. There is, in all likelihood, an unholy nexus between the nursing staff (who order the medicines through indents), the pharmacy staff (who fulfill the orders & charge the medicines to the respective patients) and the ward boys (who carry the medicines from the pharmacy to the patient's bed/room).

Before leaving the hospital premises, I went to the medical director Dr D P Vyas's office and made a complaint about the same -- but it seemed entirely in vain. His two assistants, who heard me out, appeared to be completely oblivious (!) of such goings-on.

While it is hoped B.H carries out an internal investigation and takes necessary action, I request all those who read this post to alert friends, relatives regarding this sickening fraud whose victims are the harried families and relatives of patients.

Also, I strongly feel that the relevant government authority that licenses and regulates private hospitals needs to be alerted.

Deepak Sadarangani

Bhawana Somaaya / www,

Friday 8 March 2013

Cutting Chai with Bhawana Somaaya - Day 64

Saheb Biwi aur Gangster Returns - more shameless but ineffective
8.3. 2013, Mumbai

Iss hafte sirf ek release hain – Tigmanshu Dhulia ki Saheb Biwi aur Gangster Returns jo 2011 ki Saheb Biwi aur Gangster ka sequel hain.

Plot hume maloom hain – rajmahal ki rajneeti – aur iss baar kahani mein judte hain – corrupt politicians, ambitious businessmen, revengeful police, bebas royalty aur besharam biwiyaan.

Kuch kirdaar naye hain aur kuch purane…

Jaise saheb bane hain - ek baar phir – Jimmy Shergill. Peechli baar wo cimax mein ghayal hue thhe - isliye iss baar Shergill wheel chair par hain.

Biwi hain ek baar phir se - Mahie Gill – Peechli baar Chotti Rani nashe mein choor thi – iss baar wo raat dhalle sharab ke saath -uddas gaane sunti hain.

Peechli baar Gangster bane the Randeep Hooda – jo apni harkaton ki wajah se end mein mare gaye the. Iss baar nawabi thhat mein Gangster bane hain Irfaan khan yaane - Raja Bhaiyya.

Awara mijaaz ke Raja Bhaiyya ki premika bani hain Rajkumari Ranjana - yaane Soha Ali Khan.

Film ke poster par likha hain ke sequel prequel se zyada khatarnakh aur besharam hain ! Ye sach hain !!

Story intriguing hain – screenplay twists aur turns se bhar poor hain – dialogues powerful hain – iske bawajood film ki pace bohat dheemi hain aur aap ka man bhatak ne lagta hain.

Jimmy Shergill aur Mahie Gill apni bhumikayein imandari se nibhate hain – Jimmy sach much ke raja lagte hain magar film ka best performance comes from Irfaan Khan –jo kuch shayari aur kuch gundagiri se humara dil jeet lete hain.

Do saal pehle Saheb Biwi aur Gangster ko humne original Saheb Biwi aur Ghulam se compare kiya thha.

Iss saal hum -Saheb Biwi aur Gangster Returns ko hum Saheb Biwi aur Gangster se compare karte hain.

Saheb Biwi aur Gangster Returns contemporary setting mein vintage kahani hain – anokhi hain - magar kuch ineffective bhi!!

Saheb Biwi aur Gangster Returns ko kuch khatti kaddvi yaadein taza karne ke liye Big Entertainment Ratings milte hain 3 (***) stars.

Bhawana Somaaya/

Thursday 7 March 2013

Cutting Chai with Bhawana Somaaya - Day 63

We are the world
7.3.2013, Mumbai

It was the annual celebrations at Shelter Don Bosco, only this time being the silver jubilee celebrations the mood was peppy. The evening began with an unplugged section with Manasi Scott and Chrisann Misquitta on the grand piano with a note perfect rendition of Fever and an improvised Imagine. Then came the Monsorate Brothers with Effie and they simply had the audience rooted to their seats with their mesmerizing brand of music from 1920 to the 80s peaking with R D Burman classics. Next was Manasi Scott and her Band and she awed the audience like a true rock star performer. Manasi had the audience grooving to Skyfall, Titanium, Iktara and finally Mama Mia!

It was truly a night to remember for the Shelter Don Bosco, an institution that looks after street children when actor Boman Irani, supporter of Shelter Don Bosco for almost a decade arrived at the Shanmukhanand Hall to give inspirational talk and surprised them when he sang and danced on the stage and engaged all of them in ‘We are the world…’ Everybody knows that Boman is a terrific singer but few are aware that he can mimic all the voices from Lionel Richie to Willie Nelson to Tina Turner to Michael Jackson and do a great job. The audience was exhilarated and giving Boman company on the track was Manasi Scott.

His good deed did not end there, The following morning Boman made sure that he extensively tweeted about it to create awareness. The effort was worth it because by the end of the day, a lot of people were contacting the institution to donate generous amount for the shelter school.

Bhawana Somaaya/

Cutting Chai with Bhawana Somaaya - Day 62

Whistling Woods Jai ho
6.3.2013, Mumbai

It is indeed a co-incidence that three Whistling Woods Alumni are the part of Oscar winning film Life of Pii and Subhash Ghai is a proud man. Six years ago when his daughter Meghna and he launched Whistling Woods they had a dream and today, the dream has come close to Oscars.

Says Ghai “A few weeks ago while my family and I was watching the 85th Academy Awards we were elated that director Ang Lee had 11 nominations and won four trophies (Best Picture, Best Cinematography Best Music and Best VFX). There were so many spectacular films this year but it was the story of India that caught the imagination of all.

That the special effects of Life of Pii were prominently done in Chennai is a moment of pride for the entire country. For us at Whistling Woods even more so because Murali Krishna/ part of Claudio Miranda's cinematography team and Kavan Ahalpara and Supreet Singh/part of Rhythmn & Hues VFX team for Life of Pii are WW students.

Interestingly out of the 800 graduates who passed out of various courses at Whistling Woods International, majority of them have been associated with prominent films made in recent times for instance Gangs of Wasseypur 1 & 2, No One Killed Jessica, Ra One, Shanghai, Aarakshan, Agneepath, Ferrari ki Sawari, Chillar Party, Yuvvraaj, Dum Maro Dum, Mausam, Peepli Live, Desi Boyz, Don 2, Rowdy Rathore, ABCD, Special 26 and recently Kai Po Che has a WW student engaged in some department of filmmaking.

A few months ago it was Abhishek Jain award winning director of Gujarati film Kevi Rite Jaish thanking Ghai for his training at WWI and now it is Kavan Alphara, another WWI alumni thanking the animation school for harnessing his skills to become what he is today.

Like they say it all begins in the Gurukul…

Bhawana Somaaya/

Tuesday 5 March 2013

Cutting Chai with Bhawana Somaaya - Day 61

Rethink your mindset
5.3.2013, Mumbai

Have you realised how the most appropriate messages come to you at absolutely the right time. This morning I found this in my mail and it comes from Dadi Janki of Bhramha Kumaris.

She says those who make spiritual awareness a focus of their lives conduct in a benevolent way. It is as though there is a natural draw towards good deeds, towards meditation and towards offering of service from the heart. In all her lectures Dadi Janki elaborates on the virtue of detachment.

Says Dadi “Attachment and greed distract us from performing elevated actions. Unless you detach and renounce you will continue to desire and accumulate, you will continue to get upset and disturbed. The only way to free you from the cycle is to become like a flower. A flower radiates fragrance and happiness and so must you. Don’t waste time and energy getting upset and hurt. Spread happiness, let everyone you meet benefit from your fragrance.”

Bhramha Kumari philosophy emphasizes on the virtue of Rethinking the Mindset. Dadi advices her followers to set their mind with a determined thought – can be significant in your life at that moment. Once you do that - forget the thought and don’t delve on it. All you have to do is to say to yourself once ‘I have set my mind and this is what I am going to do.’ That’s it! Now all you have to do is to have faith in yourself, in others and in God. If you trust then the universe will work to make your wish happen…

Dadi reveals that what she is sharing is deep and real. “I have benefited from the exercise and want you to benefit too. If you think too much – about anything or anyone - you waste a lot of time. There is no need to ask too many questions, get agitated, confused, just submit to the moment. When your mind is clear, you find the answers and move in the right direction, at the right time to do the right things. What is important is to stay pure. Do whatever you need to do now and submit to the universe…Om Shanti! ”

Bhawana Somaaya/

Monday 4 March 2013

Cutting Chai with Bhawana Somaaya - Day 60

Samma hain suhana 

4.3.2013, Mumbai

Over the weekend I was in Bhopal to attend a Wild Life Film Festival. It is the only festival in the world which provides opportunity to participants to showcase talent and also grants a platform to learn the craft. Initiated by CREW Crusade for Revival of Environment & Wildlife I was invited to speak on the relevance of nature in cinema.

Excerpts of my presentation at the seminar….

Nature has been used in cinema to present myriad moods.  The sunrise is for awakening as Raj Kapoor portrayed in Jagte Raho and the sunset for introspection as presented by Mani Ratnam in Dalpatti or Hrishikesh Mukherjee in his haunting number ‘Kahi door jab din dhal jaaye…’portrayed by Rajesh Khanna in Anand. The nightfall aroused hope and desire as Bimal Roy’s Kalyani sang ‘Mora gora aang lay le…’ in Bandini and sometimes sorrow and anguish as in Gulzar’s ‘Khali raat aayi hain…’ in Ijaazat.

The summer is for always for conflict and exasperation –a perfect example is of this is Amitabh Bachchan suffering a sun stroke in the middle of the street in Majboor. The autumn for gratification ‘Aaaj mausam bada beimaan hain…’ in Loafer, the winter for confessions ‘Mujhe thand lag rahi hain mujh se door tu na jaa…’ and the rain for romance and erotica – there are innumerable examples of this: ‘Kali ghat chayye …’ in Sujata and the uninhibited road dance between smita patil and Amitabh Bachchan ‘Aaj rapat jaiyye…’in Namak Halaal.
From the black and white ‘Khoya khoya chand…’ of Kala Bazaar to ‘Neela aasman so gaya…’ there was always an effort from the poets and the cinematographers to include the clouds and the stars, the woods and the lakes in every song in every film.

One song in particular that epitomizes nature and which cannot be missed out in a feature describing nature is noted lyricist Kaifi Azmi’s unforgettable ‘Kuch dil ne kaha kuch bhi nahi …’ picturised in Anupama where an exceedingly shy and inward looking Sharmila Tagore who will not open up with anybody is comfortable to share her feelings amidst  nature.

Bhawana Somaaya/

Cutting Chai with Bhawana Somaaya - Day 59

Bollywood Baddies
3.3.2013, Mumbai

In the satyug kaal there were the asurs and the devtas. Gradually

human beings took the form of the monster – sometimes for greed,
sometimes for power. In the olden days the villain was an extension of
Ravana and Kans but gradually as our films turned more realistic the
baddies evolved from the dacoit, don to a comedian.

Bollywood Baddies is the first-of-its-kind book-length narrative of villainy in Hindi films. It discusses villains, vamps, and henchmen of Hindi cinema, and also the actors who essayed such characters over the decades. Author Tapan K Ghosh, who is the former head, Department of English of Rabindra Bharati University, Kolkata discusses not just
villains but also the evaluation of villainous characters vis-à-vis
socio political conditions in the country.

The narrative begins with Ashok Kumar’s negative role in Kismet as early as 1943, and travels to  Agneepath remake (2012), where Sanjay Dutt plays Kancha Cheena, earlier essayed by Danny Denzongpa in the original portrays the character in a more evil form. Featuring all the major villains of cinema post partition from Lala Sukhiram (Mother India) to Gabbar (Sholay) to Loin Ajit (Kalicharan) and Mogambo (Mr. India), the book introduces changing face of negative hero over the decades.

The villain in Indian films is largely powerful because of his
henchmen as a result the writer makes startling observations about the
henchmen and the vamps that play a prominent role in the journey of
the baddie. So there are insights on M B Shetty, Sharat Saxena,
Nadira, Bindu, Helen, their distant relatives who form a coterie of
the villains’ empire. There is no denying his power and passion and it
is because he is so evil that the hero becomes virtuous and without
the villain the lead star would not have the opportunity to become

Published by Sage with a Foreword from ace villain Prem Chopra is an
engrossing read and a must for every film buff because it addresses
all the questions we are seeking answers for. It is interesting how
the baddie has evolved himself from the zamindar/ baniya to
daku/dacoit to the smuggler and the terrorist.  The book arrives at a
time when we are attempting to look at the human face behind the
terrorists in Ram Gopal Varma’s The Attack of 26/11.

The question is should one empathise with the oppressor who is a mere
tool in the hands of the bigger game as in the case of 20 year old
Qasaab who was made to believe that Islam forgives killing if it is
for the country.

Bollywood Baddies is an insightful book on why baddies are the way
they are and do what they do.

Bhawana Somaaya/www.

Friday 1 March 2013

Cutting Chai with Bhawana Somaaya - Day 58

Documenting a tragedy
1.3.2013, Mumbai

Iss hafte ki release hain The Attacks of 26/11.

Iss vishay par bohat charcha ki gayi – bohat lekh likhe gaye hain – bohat saari chotti badi documentaries banayi gayi hain – aur haal hi mein TV par ek serial bhi chal raha hain -magar The Attacks of 26/11 pehli feature, theatrical release hain.

Pehle film ke plus points:

2008 ka ye aitihasik aur bhayanak haadsa document karna zaroori tha – aur Ram Gopal Varma ki iss himmat ke liye main unki data deti hoon.

Aam taurpar - aise vishayon par banayi filmein unintentionally exploitative ban jaati hain - Attacks of 26/11 realistic ke saath saath sensitive bhi hain.

Director RGVarma consciously har wo clichéd image – jaise jalta hua Taj Mahal Hotel ya line mein mare gaye honhaar police officers ko alag tarha se pesh karte hain...

Kaise sarhad paar kar ke terrorists ka Mumbai aate hain… Leopard Café/ CST Station par tabahi machate hain – jisse dekh kar aap ke raungte khade ho jate hain...!

Film ki kuch segments irritate karti hain – jaise Amar Mohile ka background score film ke first half mein bohat hi loud aur invasive hain.

Film ka narrative aur Nana Patekar ke lambe pauses artificial lagte hain.

Qasaab ki giraftari – interrogation - confession bohat swift aur simplistic hain.

Bohat saari baton ka jawab nahi milta - Qasaab ki lambi jail yatra – uske naqab ke peeche ka insaan -uska
gussa- badalna aur tootna – afsos ke Qasaab ko hum sirf dialogues ke dwara jaan paate hain!

Film single mindedly attacks par focus karti hain – haadse ke dauraan vakye - victims - police officers -unke
pariwar -shehar ke wasiyon –deshwasiyon -unki mansik stithi -political leaders aur unke tanav ko sideline kiya gaya hain .

Ye saari khamiyon ke bawajood The Attacks of 26/11 Ram Gopal Varma ki ek lambe arse ke baad bahtareen peshgi hain.

Film behad violent hain – aur beshumaar khoon kharaba bhi hain – magar ye sab hua hain- isliye dikhana bhi zaroori hain!

Aitiyaad rahe ki film disturbing hain – humare purane zakhmon ko ek baar phir taaza karti hain....

Iske bawajood saare Bharat vasiyon ko The Attacks of 26/11 dekhni chhiye. Ithihaas ko dohrana isliye zaroori hain - ke aise haadse phir kabhi na ho!!

The Attacks of 26/11 ko Big Entertainment Ratings milte hain 3.5 stars.

Bhawana Somaaya/

You can tune into the complete review on radio 92.7 Big FM over the week end.

Cutting Chai with Bhawana Somaaya - Day 57

Sheila O Sheila…Dil tune cheena…
28.2. 2013, Mumbai

The first time I saw Sheila Patel I was sitting in a double decked BEST bus heading from Chembur to South Bombay. My niece sitting next to me beside the window suddenly spotted Sheila at the traffic signal and yelled out to her. I was curious and leaned forward to catch a glimpse. Draped in a pink chiffon saree with a deep neck blouse, sunglasses parked on her head my niece and Sheila conducted an unabashed conversation across the road. When the traffic lights turned green, Sheila changed gears, waved at us flamboyantly and drove off.

The image froze in my memory…

In the 70s it was not common for women to drive. Sheila drove like a man and headed Mercury Travels at Mumbai’s Oberoi Towers! Soon Sheila was married and relegated us with stories of new found domesticity. They were simple stories of her making a pile of rotlis in her saural kitchen, her adjustments with Sindhi cuisine and in-laws but we were riveted like she was narrating a pot boiler.

As friends of her younger sibling, we looked up to Sheila for guidance and wisdom. She was our window for lessons of life and no matter how preoccupied she was, she always indulged us and answered our most irrelevant questions. We participated in all her milestone moments. We rejoiced when she moved into her new home at Breach Candy…We applauded when she became pregnant and celebrated when Kunal was born. Since none of us were married as yet, we asked her foolish questions like how did she know that the baby was on his way…?

She giggled lying on the hospital bed and said that we will know when the time came...

A few years later, when the twins arrived and she couldn’t cope with two, her mother took charge of one baby in Chembur while the second baby stayed with parents in Breach Candy and we played truant masis and formed camps and pitched Chembur baby v/s Breach Candy baby.

Years rolled into decades. Today the kids have grown up and moved out of the nest. The family lives in a bigger home and Vashu and Sheila are grandparents of bonny children. Vashu spends most of his time tinkering into gadgets, Sheila, always a good cook experiments with her culinary skills for her kitty friends.

On the surface Sheila is older and wiser, tell her a secret and watch her roll her eyes! Present her a gift and she is almost childlike. Years ago I gifted her with a Ganesha idol. When I visited her again, she opened her wardrobe and said “Your Ganpati is here with me forever looking after my family.”

I have preserved the dining mats you presented me Sheila and every time I display them for my guests, I remember you.

It is watching you that all of us imbibed commitment to career, adjustment to life, you gave us lessons on marriage, child birth, menopause and now retirement.

Thank you Sheila for being you aur isiliye dil tune cheena…

Bhawana Somaaya/

Cutting Chai with Bhawana Somaaya - Day 56

Mahakumbh of Writers
27.2. 2013, Mumbai

As the FWA organised three day scriptwriters conference draws to an end at St Andrews Auditorium in Mumbai, it is a happy and sad moment for the members. They are happy that the event progressed without glitches and sad because the stimulating debates are over. It is more than an hour since the last lecture is over but nobody is in a hurry to go home and linger in the foyer outside and below near the parking ground sharing a cigarette and ideas. It is evident that everybody has enjoyed the conference and view the sessions as an enriching experience.

Day 1 had writer Javed Akhtar, filmmaker Rakesh Omprakash Mehra and television writer Gajara Kottary discussing if film writers have a social responsibility. Akhtar opined that just in the way a religious man never blamed God for his misfortunes, filmmakers never blamed the audience for wrong choices but the fact is that there would be no wrong choices if the audience backed right projects.

FWA Award to writer who made path breaking contribution to cinema was presented to Salim Javed.

Day 2 had Urmi Juvekar, Bejoy Nambiar, Abbas Tyrewala discuss new ways of storytelling. All of them
had interesting unusual personal anecdotes to share which resulted in special scripts. The second session
concentrated on the changing content and the new brigade of television which proved to be a sparkling debate.

FWA Award to writer who made significant contribution to cinema for decades was presented to Gulzar.

Day 3 had Gulzar and others discuss why such few films are made for children. A long session was devoted to the implications of the amended Copyright Act for film and TV writers and this proved to be the most insightful session of the conference. Special invitees to the conference Rebecca Kessinger and Tom Schulz made a presentation on the Writers Guild of America. The conference ended with FWA revealing their plans in the months to come.

FWA Award to writer who transformed television writing and ushered social change was presented to Manohar Joshi.

Bhawana Somaaya/