Friday 28 November 2014

Cutting Chai with Bhawana Somaaya - Day 490

Ungli is time waste!

Dharma Productions produced aur Rensil D’souza directed Ungli kahani hain paanch doston ki jo bhrashtachar ko apne tarike se khatam karte hain.

70 aur 80 ke dashakon ki filmon mein hero Robin Hood ki tarha villan se ladkar aam aadmi ko nyay dilata tha.

Ungli mein bahdur doston ki toil Sarkar aur system ke khilaaf jaakar aam aadmi ko nyay dilate hain.

Idea acha hain magar execution disappointing, sab kuch bohat hi zyaada simplistic hain...

Screenplay predictable hain, characterizations illogical...Na music engaging hain aur na hi ek bhi performance!

Haan writer Milap Zaveri ke kuch dialogues mein dum hain magar film bilkul entertaining nahi hain!
Ungli ko Big Entertainment Ratings milte hain 1.5 stars.

Bhawana Somaaya/ @bhawanasomaaya

Thursday 27 November 2014

Cutting Chai with Bhawana Somaaya - Day 488

Set designer Chhel Vayeda no more

There’s nobody in the theatre world whose not familiar with Chhel Vayeda, 79, veteran Art-director (of 'Chhel-Paresh' duo), father of writer director Sanjay Chel, Vayeda expired on 12 November 2014 but his is a fragrance that continues to linger.

 Vayedya started his career as a set designer in 1963-64 and has over the decades designed more than 700 plays in almost all languages that span from the mainstream Khubsurat (1999) to international Train to Pakistan(1996), from the middle of the road Sagar Sarhadi's Lorie (1984) to Amol Palekar's artistic Ankahi (1986). He worked with the best talent on stage and cinema be it AK  Bir's Udiya film Aadi  Mimansa or Ashwini Chaudhary's National award winning film Laado.

For Vaeda no production, no play and no serial was small or big, He extended himself to five generations starting with stalwarts like Kanti Madia, Praveen Joshi, Honey Chhaya, Adi Marzban, Shailesh Dave, Arvind Joshi, Arvind Thakkar, Barjor Patel, Satyadev Dube, Nadira Babbar, Dinesh Thakur, Purushottam Darhvekar , Prabhakar Panshikar  and worked harmoniously with competitive banners be it INT, Natya Sampada, IPTA, Ank and Ekjut.

Chhel was an expert in providing multiple sets with 'Revolving Stage'. He excelled in the Jack Knife Technique where a bungalow turns in to airport, a village house in to Wagha border! Vayedya is the only art designer to put up his sets in all theatres be it Prithvi or NCPA and also the only one whose sets created as much of a stir in foreign countries during their shows abroad.

To be continued...

Bhawana Somaaya/ @bhawanasomaaya

Wednesday 26 November 2014

Cutting Chai with Bhawana Somaaya - Day 487

Ashok Da Ranade Memorial Lecture

This annual memorial lecture series in memory of late Dr. Ashok Ranade started in 2012 and the idea was to pay tribute to his vision, scholarship and interests. Every year experts are invited to speak on subjects for instance Dr. Sandeep Bhagwati on theatre, music and theatre and media aptly titled Softwares and Songs, then Dr. Ganesh Devy renowned cultural activist and literary critic who spoke on Towards Indian Aesthetic.

This year, Naresh Fernandes, editor of, digital news publication and author of City Adrift: A Short Biography of Bombay and Taj Mahal Foxtrot: The Story of Bombay's Jazz Age will explain the journey of Jazz.

From the 1940s, a passionate group of Indian jazz musicians had been attempting to find an Indian way to play jazz, both in art music and in popular music. Many of these musicians had learnt their craft listening to and playing alongside African-American jazz performers who had started performing in India from the early 1930s.

As Independence approached, jazz became one of the forms used by artists to project an Indian internationalism. Some, like the Goan trumpet player Frank Fernand, had embarked on the project because of their admiration for Gandhi. Others had more commercial compulsions: they were trying to add a contemporary edge to Hindi film music.

The next significant push came from John Mayer and the guitar player Amancio D’Silva. The project was lent a great deal of momentum by Niranjan Jhaveri, the impresario who spearheaded the Jazz Yatra biannual festivals that brought some of the most accomplished jazz performers to India between 1978 and 2003.

November 25, 2014 7pm Tuesday Venue: Hall of Harmony, Nehru Centre, Dr. A. B. Road Worli Mumbai – 400018 Entry free

Bhawana Somaaya / Tweets- @bhawanasomaaya

Tuesday 25 November 2014

Cutting Chai with Bhawana Somaaya - Day 486

Nritya Smragini quits kingdom

As long as she lived Kathak queen Sitara Devi made every admirer of her feel special. It was the way she moved on the stage and her spell lasted for a lifetime. Born in 1920 Sitara Devi was just 12 years old when a dance director cum filmmaker saw her perform pheras on stage and met up her parents and signed her for a dance sequence in Usha Haran released in the thirties. Success came early to dancer Sitara Devi.

She was just 16 and performing on stage when Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore was in the audience and was so mesmerized by her performance that he bestowed a title on her as India’s Nritya Samragini. Sitara Devi got married to KAsif director of Mughal-e-Azam and continued performing Kathak shows all over the world. She continued to work in films whenever there was an opportunity for a great dance and her last recital on screen was a holi dance where she appears in the role of a boy in 1957 release Mother India.

For a long time Sitara Devi was confined to bed and for the past many weeks she was on a ventilator. On Tuesday 25 November the talented dancer breathed her last. The country has lost the queen of dancers.

Bhawana Somaaya/ Tweets - @bhawanasomaaya

Cutting Chai with Bhawana Somaaya - Day 485

Remembering Adi Marzban

Adi Marzban was the heart beat of Gujarati and Parsi Theatre. He was the voice on radio and the face everybody paid tickets to watch. As long as he lived Adi Marzban or Adi bhai as he was popularly called entertained his listeners and fans.

Years went by and it seemed like the theatre world had forgotten the genius apparently not because in a fresh leap to recall the genius Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan has dedicated an entire event to the theatre maverick.

That is what is admirable about Bhavans, one it is an apolitical institute that promotes cultural events where offerings for development and propagation of performing arts are a priority. This year, Bhavan’s Kala Kendra, The Art & Cultural wing of Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Radhey Group & Shubham Production have jointly come up with a show titled Bhavan’s Adi Marzban - Gujarati Open One Act Drama Competition. This will be a tribute to a veteran artiste and also a tradition following for the school that has for more than six decades worked towards raising theatre awareness.

Schedule:  December 1-6 2014. There will be two rounds of competition for the participants, the elimination and the final round. 

Bhawana Somaaya/ Tweets - @bhawanasomaaya

Friday 21 November 2014

Cutting Chai with Bhawana Somaaya - Day 484

Happy Ending is Happy Entertainment

Saif Ali Khan- Eros produced aur DK Raj directed Happy Ending kahani hain ek successful writer ki, jo kuch naya likhna chahta hain, magar likh nahi paata.

Signing amount ke saade paanch saal baad bhi, jab Yuddi apni doosri kitab nahi likh paata, tab Yuddi ke publisher unki gaadi unse wapas le lete hain.

Iske pehle ki Yuddi ka ghar bhi publisher wapas le le, Yuddi ko apni doosre kamyaab kitab jald likhni hain.

Superstar Armaan Yuddi se apni nayi film likhwana chahte hain aur romantic film likhne ke liye, Yuddi ko zaroorat hain pyaar ke anubhav ki.

Pyaar mein kuch naya nahi hota, isliye Happy Ending mein bhi kuch naya nahi hain...
Pyaar karne wale bhi repetitive hote hain, isliye hero Saif Ali Khan wohi karte hain jo unhone Hum Tum, Love Aaj Kal aur Cocktail kiya – yaane confusion!

Film ka minus purana plot… Film ka plus film ke performances.

Hero ke dost ki bhumika mein Ranvir Shorey superb hain aur superstar ki bhumika mein Govinda lajawab!

Saif Ali Khan double role mein hain aur mota wala Saif hero se behtar hain.

Happy Ending kuch khaas nahi phir bhi khush mizaaj manoranjan hain!

Happy Ending ko Big Entertainment Ratings milte hain 3 stars – 1 Ranvir Shorey ke liye, ek Govinda ke liye aur ek Saif Ali Khan ke liye!

Bhawana Somaaya/ @bhawanasomaaya

Wednesday 19 November 2014

Cutting Chai with Bhawana Somaaya - Day 483

Kekoo, Kali & Jehangir Framing a Collection

Kamini Sawhney presents her second event in the series of programmes conceived around the current exhibition “Kekoo, Kali & Jehangir Framing a Collection”. 
Three leading gallerists of the city Dadiba Pundole, Shirin Gandhy and Sree Goswami will discuss the transformation of gallery practice over the years, with cultural theorist and curator Ranjit Hoskote.

Date:  Wednesday 19 November Venue: Jehangir Nicholson Gallery, CSMVS . 
Tea will be served at 5 pm and the programme will begin at 5.30 pm.

Bhawana Somaaya / @bhawanasomaaya

Cutting Chai with Bhawana Somaaya - Day 482

Tanishaa Mukerji Launches TM Style

Actress and producer Tanishaa Mukerji will soon be launching a website called where audiences internationally can buy some of the outfits which Tanishaa has worn at media events and public outings for a fraction of the price.  The proceeds will go towards charity from all the sales made on 

Tanishaa is recognized as a fashionable actor and has had a unique sense of style.  She’s never followed fashion blindly and rather has made an effort to create her own fashion trends.  With TM Style, Tanishaa will be auctioning outfits which have a story, an emotional attachment. 

Chief Guest at a fund raiser for CHIP Tanishaa auctioned today her lucky costume she wore at her first outing as a co-producer.  There has been no looking back ever since. The peach and pink flowing chiffon dress started with a bid of 7000 and was purchased at 12,000 by a lady excited to own the dress.

TMStyle will be officially launching on January 30 and this is the first effort of  this kind by a young actor.

Bhawana Somaaya / @bhawanasomaaya

Monday 17 November 2014

Cutting Chai with Bhawana Somaaya - Day 481

Humming Bird

I am Thy tiny humming bird, whirring with Thy power and ever searching for Thee.

I am Thy tiny humming bird, darting afar to discover Thy rarest blooms; and to revel on high mountain crags in Thy colour symphonies.

I am Thy tiny humming bird, creating by my swiftness the hum that is praise of Thy name.

I am thy tiny humming bird, dipping my beak into the hearts of life’s multicolored flowers. May Thy grace prevent my tasting any evil poison plant.

I am Thy tiny humming bird, sipping nectar from blossoms in humble wayside plots of human sweetness and in Thy secret gardens of glory.

Bhawana Somaaya/ @bhawanasomaaya

Friday 14 November 2014

Cutting Chai with Bhawana Somaaya - Day 480

Garam Hawa relevant after 40 years. Kill/ Dil disappoints.

Ishan Arya produced aur M S Sathyu directed Garam Hawa ab tak ki partition filmon mein sab se bahtareen film hain.

Wo isliye ki azaadi ki kahani hote hue bhi ismein koi hinsa nahi dikhayi gayi hain.

Batwaare ke 26 saal baad, jab ye film saal 1973 mein release hone ko thi, tab sab se pehle, Censor Board ne subject ke khilaaf objection uthaya.

Baad mein Bombay ki ruling party ne virodh kiya aur aur phir Opposition ne isse Pakistan funded film bataya.

Jab Revising Committee ne aakhir mein film ko pass kiya, tab protestors ne film ko uttejit batakar ban  kar diya!

Ye alag baat hain ki Garam Hawa ko sabhi rashtriya aur antarashtriya puraskaron se sammanit kiya gaya.

Balraj Sahni ko iss film ke liye Best Actor National Award samarpit kiya gaya magar iss khabbar ke ek din pehle hi, Balraj Sahani ka intekal ho gaya.

Writer Ismat Chugtai ki kahani par adharit, Shama Zaidi- Kaifi Azmi likhi Garam Hawa Balraj Sahni ki aakhri aur Farooque Shaikh ki pehli film hain. Director M S Sathyu aur cmeraman  Ishaan Arya ki bhi pehli film hain.

Ye gaurav ki baat hain ki 40 saal purani film saal 2014 mein restore hokar theatre mein release hui hain.

Ye dukh ki baat hain ki 70 saal baad bhi, communal riots se jude muddein aaj bhi utne hi relevant hain jitne saal 1947 mein thhee, balki usse kai zyaada!

Garam Hawa ko Big Star entertainment ratings dainay ki meri kya aukaad – aap ne agar isse nahi dekha toh apne desh ko nahi samjha!


Yash Raj Films produced aur Shaad Ali directed Kill/Dil do dost aur unke Bhaiyaaji ki kahani hain.

Bhaiyaaji yaane Govinda ne Dev/ Ranveer Singh aur Tutu/ Ali Zafar ko kachre se uthakar paal poss kar bada kiya hain.

Dev aur Tutu Bhaiyaaji ke liye, kabhi/ kahin aur kissi ka bhi murder kar sakte hain.

Kahani mein twist aata hain jab Dev ko Parineeti Chopra se pyaar ho jaata hain aur wo shareef banna chahta hain.

Film ka first half, unrealistic hone ke bawajood, racy, funny, witty aur engaging hain, problem, film ka second half hain jisme na surprises, na naveenta aur na hi conviction!!

Aakhir tak samajh mein nahi aata, ki kaun, kahan, kaunse shehar ya galli mein rehta hain? Kyon villain ka ghar mahal nazar hain aur hero ka ghar tabela? Kyon Gulzar saab har gaane ke pehle sher sunate hain?

Film ka minus film ka screenplay, film ka plus, film ka music khaas taurpe ShankarMahadevan- SonuNigam ka title song aur saare performances:

Parineeti Chopra, Ali Zafar, Ranveer Singh, Govinda energetic hain magar dil mein ghar nahi karte Jhoom Barabar Jhoom ke saat saal ke baad, director Shaad Ali se bohat umeed thi, magar baat nahi bani.

Kill /Dil ko Big EntertainmentRatings milte hain 2.5 stars.

Bhawana Somaaya/ @bhawanasomaaya

Thursday 13 November 2014

Cutting Chai with Bhawana Somaaya - Day 479

Gratitude & Forgiveness

Devotees who, with closed eyes, repeat over and over the affirmations in this book, trying to feel their deep truths, will spiritualize them; that is, rouse their inspiration slumbering beneath the thick silken quilt of words.  

Invocations to the Lord are like ever-living plants that ceaselessly put forth new blossoms. The prayer plants in Whispers from Eternity retain the same branches of words; yet, if watered by the divine dew of meditation, each plant will daily yield fresh soul flowers of inexhaustibly varied insights.

I easily excuse my own faults; let me therefore quickly forgive the failings of others. Bless me, O Father that I not inflict on my companions unwelcome criticism. If they ask my advice in trying to correct them, may I offer suggestions inspired by Thee.

Through the strength of kindness and love, free from the thought of compulsion, teach me to lead all stumbling and stubborn ones to Thee. Guide my understanding and powers, that I turn dark-natured beings into sparkling seers who fully reflect Thy wisdom rays.

May I sympathetically help others to help their selves. Teach me not to condemn their ingratitude if they turn against me and no longer permit me to serve them.

May I forgive (first inwardly, then outwardly) those who have most deeply injured me. I would return love for hatred, sweet praise for sour complaints, and good for evil.

Bhawana Somaaya / @bhawanasomaaya

Tuesday 11 November 2014

Cutting Chai with Bhawana Somaaya - Day 478

Drama of life

Those who imagine that the Impersonal cannot manifest itself in a personal form are in effect denying its omnipotence and the possibility that man can commune with his Maker. The Lord has often appeared in living tangibility before true devotees. Down the ages He has materialized Himself before the gaze of his devotees in whatever forms they hold most dear. 

The Lord yearns to behold each man playing perfectly his given role on earth. It is by misuse of free will that human beings thwart the divine plan. Absence of the clamor of the egotistical desires enables us to hear and heed the guiding voice within. Free from self-will, men of wisdom carry on their activities in effortless accordance with God’s design.

“Not as I will, but as Thou wilt,” Jesus prayed. No Karma* accrues to the man who rightfully enacts his part in the drama of earthly life.

Divine recollection is the simplest way to achieve God-communion. Our inner assertion of spiritual identity is sufficient to operate the law for fulfillment of prayers. This law has been utilized by saints of all lands. From the depths of his own experience, Christ was able to give us this glorious assurance:

“If ye have faith, and doubt not . . . if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into sea, it shall be done. And all things whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.”

Bhawana Somaaya / Tweets: @bhawanasomaaya

Cutting Chai with Bhawana Somaaya - Day 477

Book as a messenger

Sometimes you search a book you want to read and sometimes a book searches you because universe wants you to benefit from the message hidden in the pages. The latter happened to me when I found an abandoned book at my doctor’s clinic waiting for my turn and like a good reader brought the book home.

The prayers in Whispers from Eternity serve to bring God closer to us, by describing the liberating feelings that arise from actual communion with him. The Lord is here portrayed in His immanent aspect: the Cosmic Mother – a grand conception of the Infinite and Invisible become, in Nature, finite and visible. Followers of all religions may drink from this fountain of universal prayers.

Paramahansa Yogananda’s writings give profound answers to questions of the modern scientific mind, seeking God intelligently. The book offers a great variety of invocations, enabling the truth seeker to choose daily the thought most helpful to his particular need.

Says author Amelita Galli-Curci in the Foreword “Pass not by, with hurried intellectual reading, the precious mines of truth hidden in the soil of words in this sacred book. Instead, dig deep in the mines with the pickax of attentive, reverent and meditative study; and finally find the priceless gem of self-realization.”

Bhawana Somaaya / @bhawanasomaaya

Monday 10 November 2014

Friday 7 November 2014

Cutting Chai with Bhawana Somaaya - Day 475

Leave your brains for Shaukeen carry your heart for Rang Rassiya.

Jayantilal Gada presented aur Ketan Mehta directed Rang Rassiya kahani hain Hindustan ke pehle mashoor painter Raja Ravi Verma ki.

Ek chotta balak mandir ki deewar par haathi ka chitra banata hain aur Keral  ke raaja ki nazar mein aata hain.

Kalimanor se shuru hui ye kahani, Madras men palti hain. Travancore ke raaja ki chatrachaya mein chitrakaar Ravi desh bhar ghumte hain aur Banaras, Rajasthan, Khajuraho ki kahaniyaan apne chitra mein pesh karte hain.

Rang Rassiya ek chitrakar ki jeevan gaatha toh hain hi, saath hi mein, us daur ka saamajik aaina bhi! 
Kya ek kalakar ko rajneeti aur dharam ke bandhan mein bandh na sahi hain..? Kya kissi prerna ka, kalaakar ki kalpana ke bahar koi astitva hota hain..?

Sau saal pehle jisse hum ashleelta kehte thhe, wo aaj naitikta hain... Sau saa pehle jisse hum acchoot pukarte thhe, aaj aisa sochna bhi gunah hain!

Film ka minus film ka screenplay hain. Ravi Verma ki zindagi jis raftaar se bhaagti hain koi bhi jasbaad dil mein nahi theharta.

Film ka plus film ki cinematography, Sandesh Shandaliya ka sangit, Nitin Chandrakant Desai ka production design. Aasmaan mein udti patange…raaste mein bhaagti buggiyaan …parbaton se jhumte jharne aur diye talle magnna do premee…

Randeep Hooda ke performance mein Ravi Verma ki sachai hain aur Nandana Sen mein unki prerna Sugandha ki sundarta.

Ketan Mehta ki Rang Rassiya rang aur rass se bharpur hain… Kala ke rang aur vicharon ke rass…

Rang Rassiya ko Big Entertainment Ratings milte hain 3.5 stars.

Murad -Ashwin Varde produced, Abhishek Sharma directed The Shaukeens Dilli ke teen buzurg doston ki kahani hain, jo wo sab kuch karna chahte hain, jo unhone ab tak nahi kiya.

Wo har subah, varrdish ke bahane, jawan ladkiyon ko ghurrte hain aur apne kaam ke dauran iss se bhi burri harkate karte hain.

Teeno dost Mauritius jaane ka plan banate hain, jahan unki mulakate hoti hain khubsoorat Aahana, yaane Lisa Haydon se.

Aaahana ko filmstar Akshay Kumar mein dilchaspi hain aur buddhon ko Aahana mein. Film ka idea Basu Chaterjee ki saal 1982 ki Shaukeen se prerit hain magar film adaptation nahi hain.

Basu Chaterjee ki Shaukeen adventure ke baare mein thi, Abhishek Sharma ki The Shaukeens hawas ke baare mein hain.

Writer Tigmanshu Dhulia ne samay ke anusar kahani ko badla hain isliye isme bikini, beaches, chamapne, clubs, facebook, fanmail toh hain hi, magar saath mein, ek film star ki kahani ko bhi joda hain.

Film ka plus Anupam Kher, Annu Kapoor aur dil kholkar apna mazak udaate hue, Akshay Kumar. Film ka minus aap film dekhkar samajh jaayoge. 

Saal 1982 mein teen buddhon ka shaukh farmane Goa jaana samajh mein aata hain, magar saal 2014 mein, unka  ek hi baat ke liye itna pagal hona hazam nahi hota!

The Shaukeens behad silly hain magar foolishly funny bhi!! Bas khayal rahein ki dimaag ko apne saath theatre na le jaiyeein.

The Shaukeens ko Big Entertainment Ratings milte hain 3 stars.

Bhawana Somaaya/ @bhawanasomaaya

Wednesday 5 November 2014

Cutting Chai with Bhawana Somaaya - Day 474

A must for parents shopping bride

Produced and directed by Sarovar Banka A Decent Arrangement is a contemporary comedic drama that explores the complexities of ethnic identity and the choices brought about by the shrinking globe. Ashok Khosla/ Adam Laupus is an aimless Indian-American copywriter, who travels to India seeking an arranged marriage and with it an opportunity for emotional simplicity.

What works in favour of the film are the location/Chandigarh and the refreshing characters. Ashok’s cousin Preeti/ Shabana Azmi, his parents Gita and Arun/ Navneet Nisshan and Vikram Kapadia, the prospective brides and their parents. What does not is that we have seen too many films on the subject of the cultural divide and India used as a metaphor to soul search.

Ashok feels connected with Amita, an Indian woman burdened by a sense of tradition. Ninety seven minute long A Decent Agreement is a film about arranged marriages, the fears and the formalities associated with the custom. As an impending engagement to Amita approaches, Ashok’s parents arrive to cement the deal, setting off events that force Ashok to finally seek his own resolution. 

Shabana Azmi as the overbearing cousin Preeti Mehta is refreshing and drives the story. Navneet Nissan as Ashok’s anxious mother touches a chord. Writer/ director Sarovar Banka raises relevant issues packs in witty dialogues but shoots the film like a tourist.

A Decent Arrangement is slow paced but a decent watch with family.

Bhawana Somaaya/ @bhawanasomaaya

Cutting Chai with Bhawana Somaaya - Day 473

Magic masti @ Prithvi Festival

The month of November is synonymous with the Prithvi Theatre Festival. Starting on 5 November the festival is scheduled for 12 days and will showcase 13 productions from new groups. There will be 25 sparkling performances, two Circus Acts from France and one from Rambo Circus featuring clowns, acrobats designed by Prithvi. Along with these there are two Acoustic Jam Sessions (Classical Indian and Latin Jazz).

The teaching of Indian Classical Music is based on Guru Shishya Parampara. The 9 November Sunday concert features Fazal Qureshi on Tabla accompanied by 11 Tabla Students of Ustad Allarakha Institute of Music, a Harmonium Player and Rupak Kulkarni on Flute along with one of his students. 16 November Acoustic performance by the Students and the Faculty of the True School of Music, Mumbai.

A Western Classical concert by SOI (The Symphony Orchestra of India), housed at the National Centre for the Performing Arts, Mumbai, is India’s first and only professional symphony orchestra. Founded in 2006, the SOI has performed with some of the world’s leading conductors and soloists. The members of the quartet performing are resident members of the Orchestra and will perform works of Mozart, Beethoven, and our very own music genius Pyarelal Bhai.

Stage Talk at Prithvi will feature interactions with eminent theatre actors talking about their journey. Another new initiative this year to include a platform for Theatre wallahs, to perform/ introduce/ discuss their works in progress, experiments in theatre. And finally, The Prithvi Carnival Finale which will showcase assortment of favorite scenes performed by some of Prithvi’s regular actors.

Bhawana Somaaya/ @bhawanasomaaya

Cutting Chai with Bhawana Somaaya - Day 472

Literature Live Again

The Mumbai LitFest kicks off its fifth edition on Thursday 30th October. The festival features over 100 writers and opinion leaders from across the globe and will be spread over four days across the city. For the first time, Tata Lit Live will take place at two venues— the NCPA at Nariman Point and the Prithvi Theatre complex and the Easel Art Hub in Juhu.

Check out website or ​​ for our packed schedule of author talks and conversations, panel discussions, cutting-edge plays, performances and the Tata Literature Live Awards.

From Booker and Pulitzer Prize winners to living legends, thought leaders and analysts to award-winning actors and performances, will be available at the festival. Entry to the festival is free and enjoyment on the house! Arrive at the venue well before the session timings every day and collect your entry passes for that day sessions and performances.

Bhawana Somaaya/ Tweets@bhawanasomaaya

Sunday 2 November 2014

Cutting Chai with Bhawana Somaaya - Day 471

MY INTERVIEW: by Manju Latha Kalanidhi,

Bhawana Somaaya: Film Expert, Star Critic

If you love Hindi cinema, fondly known as Bollywood, and have followed the evolution of the industry even just a bit, there is one person who's impossible to miss—Bhawana Somaaya. She is a professional movie buff—a hardcore musical lover, star interviewer, celebrity biographer, and prolific film critic.
Having studied psychology and journalism in Mumbai, she began her career as a film reporter in the 1970s and has been writing about cinema in numerous outlets since—so far she's churned out a whopping 12 bestselling books.
And she doesn't just write, either. She's also a film expert with Radio Channel 92.7 Big FM, making her one of the few senior journalists who is visible across all media—from print to radio to web. In fact, few film award functions take place without Somaaya’s expert guidance, few movie directors forget to call her up on a movie's release day, and few movie lovers go a day without reading her incisive interviews or columns.
We heard from the famed critic herself, who let us in on the film journalism industry, Bollywood, and her thoughts on celebrities.
You have 35,000 followers on Twitter, and yet I've read that you love completely shutting down your electronic devices to relax. How do you manage this dichotomy of staying connected to technology without becoming addicted to it?
I work on the computer in the first half of the day, after which I refrain from it unless it is an emergency. I’m against addiction of any kind. I firmly believe that those who follow me on Twitter are here for quality content that's credible. You cannot win people with mischief or manipulation.
What do you think makes you one of the most followed film journalists in India?
I just do my job; I write my columns and books as sincerely as I can. People say they like my writing and identify with my thought process. I hope I can continue to live up to their expectations. What works for me is credibility and consistency, I think.
You have watched the Bollywood industry through the years, starting in 1979 as a reporter. How has the industry evolved since you started?
A lot has changed and a lot remains the same; the 1970s were days of multi-starrer films, the 1980s was a rough time for the industry, while the 1990s paved the way for young filmmakers like Aditya Chopra. And 2000 of course changed cinema after Dil Chahta Hai. From single screens to multiplexes, from Dolby cinema to Sync sound, from makeup rooms to vanity vans, technology has advanced but the content, emotions and people are the same—well, almost.
You've written books and authorized biographies on the biggest stars of the Hindi film industry, constantly rubbing shoulders with the all the main actors and actresses on the scene. What are three important lessons you've learned about the industry?
That times change, circumstances change, status changes but you have to be sincere to your job. There are also no shortcuts to lasting success. Finally, that there are no permanent friends and no permanent enemies in showbiz!
What kind of effort goes into, say, writing the biography of Amitabh Bachchan, one of Bollywood's legendary actors?
Writing a book is more about discipline than craft. It is about time management with a regular job and regular life. Writing about celebrities is a little more difficult because you are dealing with vulnerable, artistic, sensitive people. That they are all the time in the limelight makes it more difficult. I would like to believe that top Hindi movie stars such as Hema Malini or an Amitabh Bachchan agreed to my penning their memoirs because they have faith that I will not abuse their trust. My intention is to explore rather than sensationalize.
Tell us about an average day in your life.
I like to wake up early and go for a walk but I never manage to rise before 7:30. I make my own tea and putter around the apartment, opening the windows for fresh air. At 8:20, I walk to the 92.7 Big FM studio for my daily morning link on the breakfast show. I return at 9 and relish another cup of tea with my pile of newspapers. At 9:30 I eat breakfast, after which I disappear to my study for a quick check on emails and social media updates. Then I focus on my daily column and a chapter of a new book. I take a lunch break at 3 after which I check my messages, shower and return to the Big FM studio where I work as an entertainment editor. In the evening I usually have a meeting, screening, or event, depending on the day. I generally avoid parties and eating out, instead watching a bit of TV or reading before bed. I lead a very productive, constructive day; Wednesdays and Thursdays are for new screenings, Fridays for reviews and recordings, Saturdays for friends and Sundays strictly for family.   
How do you find nirvana with so many responsibilities? How often do you go on holiday and how do you unwind?
Spirituality is in the mind, it is a way of life. I pray every morning that I must think, act and speak positively about others and myself. I fly to see my sister every alternate month and stay with her for three days. Just being home and listening to her humming domesticity, talking about our deceased parents unwinds me. I very seldom take holidays because the life of a critic revolves around new releases. But when I sense some weeks are uneventful I do take off with friends—and always without a laptop. I travel a lot for work both in India and abroad and that always refreshes me.
Many aspiring journalists imagine being a film journalist is the most fun media job. Do you have any advice for them?
It is a lot of hard work. Film journalism is perhaps the most difficult of all journalism because you are dealing with eccentric people. Today, though, it is easier because journos don’t have to make any inroads with people for a story—everything is organized at the appropriate time by the PR machinery, so it's not surprising that many film stories have lost their sting and the bite. All stories now sound the same, just in the way all actors look the same in designer costumes—like assembly line products.
Having seen stars in their more real moments, what's your take on celebrities? Do you think they're overly hyped?
I think we need to look at them as human beings, they are as real or fake as us, and they have their moments of strength and weaknesses just as we do. They are very likeable, actually, and good judges of people. You can never fool actors because they are traders of emotions and expressions.
In India, fans often become obsessed with the lives of their favorite actors and actresses. Do you think the media should report on the personal lives of stars?
I have never done it. I have never written an article that I have not believed in, never asked questions that I was not convinced of. Today, unfortunately, journalists are hired on the qualification that they can break stories. Journalism is less about writing and more about accessibility. But I would never abuse my contacts for the sake of a story. The day editors and reporters start writing about what interests them—rather than what they perceive their readers' interests to be—we will have more productive journalism.
When you are friends with stars, what happens when you need to ask them tough questions?
I believe that you can ask anybody anything. It just depends on how you ask it and what your intention is. Are you just asking a question because your editor has asked you to, but are frightened that you will get a defensive answer? The star respects you when you are on side of the truth, and if there is a controversy that is waiting to be addressed you have to raise questions irrespective of your relationship. It is called work ethics and there cannot be any compromises on that.
You can follow Somaaya's work on Twitter @bhawanasomaaya or on her website.