Monday 22 August 2016

Queen of Katwe - Day:882

It has been a long time Mira Nair has made a film so one is happy to read that Nair’s next is produced by Lydia Dean Pilcher and John Carl David Oyelowo and starring Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o and newcomer Madina Nalwanga Disney’s Queen of Katwe tells the vibrant true story of a young girl Phiona Mutesi (Nalwanga) from the streets of rural Uganda, whose world changes when she is introduced to the game of chess. With the support she receives from her family and community, she is instilled with confidence and determination into becoming an international chess champion.

Mira has always chosen unusual subjects to make films and this on will open in Indian theaters in September, 2016.


Friday 19 August 2016

Happy is quite sad actually - DAY 880

Film Review: Happy Bhaag Jayegi                       
Date: August 19 2016
Director: Muddassar Aziz                                                

Cast: Diana Penty, Abhay Deol, Jimmy Shergill, Ali Fazal, Momal Sheikh
Rating: 2 stars **

Color Yellow& Krishika Lulla’s Happy Bhaag Jayegi is a prime example of the saying that never judge a book by its cover and a film by its trailer.
Here is a film that had all the ingredients of an entertainer- adventure, humor, romance, ambition and envy but somehow the chef fails to cook up an exotic dish.
On the night of her sangit Happy Singh/ Diana Penty escapes from her bathroom window to jump into a waiting truck sent by her boyfriend/ Ali Fazal except she jumps into the wrong truck and is transported with a pile of fruits to Lahore’s politician Bilal Ahmed/ Abhay Deol’s home.
Bilal has to protect his father from a scandal and struggles to find a solution. In the meantime Happy’s bauji/ Kanwaljeet Singh and boyfriend Guddu/ Ali Fazal are confused where Happy has disappeared.
Muddassar Aziz’s screenplay is yet another story on the cross border relationship (Veer Zaara, Filmistaan, Bajrangi Bhaijaan) and how an Indian in Lahore and Pakistani in Amritsar feel same to same in their neighboring countries.
The problem with the film is that end of two hours the writer acquaints you with every character except the protagonist.
Granted that Happy is attractive, spontaneous and loves a loser but there’s nothing extra-ordinary about her to intimidate abductors, Pakistan police and overwhelm a powerful politician. The director takes it for granted that his protagonist is special and forgets to share the reasons with his audience.
Of the cast Jimmy Shergill as Daman Singh Bagga and Momal Sheikh as Zoya are engaging and Abhay Deol as Bilal Ahmed is praise worthy. Diana Penty looks the part and delivers her lines but her internal machinery does not work.
Watch Happy Bhaag Jayegi only if you are an Abhay Deol fan.

Bhawana Somaaya


Thursday 18 August 2016

Special date for many - DAY 879

Wishing Parsi New Year to all my friends
Happy Birthday to Gulzar saab: he is a poet, painter, writer, lyricist dabbles with theatre/ cinema and many other mediums. He is 80 and productive every single day. He is a rock star!

Happy Birthday to Aruna Irani: She started on the Rangbhoomi as a little girl and was nine when she starred as a child star in Ganga Jamuna, so many decades and so many films/ serials later Aruna Irani is not out.

Wednesday 17 August 2016

Raksha Bandhan is no more about commitments - DAY 878

There was a time no Hindi film was complete without a bhaiya behna song but over the years the raksha bandhan festival has disappeared from our films. Is it because our society has changed or does this reflect on the image of our superstars and concerns of filmmakers? Today, the woman on the screen and in real life has broken all shackles, today raksha bandhan is a festival to make merry, the sister does not expect protection from her brother and the brother is happy not to make any commitments.
More in my column in The Quint


Friday 12 August 2016

MohenjoDarro :Hrithik Roshan all the way - DAY 877 (1)

Film Review: MohenjoDarro
Date: July 12 2016                                                              

Director: AshutoshGowariker
Cast: HrithikRoshan, PoojaHegde
Rating: 2.5 stars **1/2

Set amid the ancient Indus Valley civilization circa 2016 B.C.E, an indigo farmer from Amri, Sindh named Sarman (HrithikRoshan) has a dream to travels upriver to the largest city, Mohenjo-daro and one day, his dream comes true.
In the new land Samran makes new friends and enemies and is attracted to the head priest’s daughter Chaani (Pooja Hegde), he is unwittingly drawn into the problems of the villagersand battles to bring them justice.
To give credit to Ashutosh Gowariker and his creative team they conjure a new world and introduce us to an imaginary lifestyle, costume and language. The unfortunate bit is that this dramatic world is not engaging. Something is missing and you are unable to connect to the narrative and the characters. The pace is slow, the scenes too long and the action never ending. Romance is a high point in all Ashutosh Gowariker films but debutant PoojaHegde makes certain to leave you untouched.
Hero Hrithik Roshan gives his best in every shot, looks like a prince and fights like a warrior (crocodile or monster), he is gallant with the horses, kind to the helpless and punishes the cruel king and saves an entire civilization but his victory leaves you somehow unaffected.
The film has many flaws but considering the scale and the magnitude efforts, the intention has to be applauded. Watch MohenjoDarro for the courageous climax and for HrithikRoshan who sparkles every time he is on the screen.

BhawanaSomaaya/ @bhawanasomaaya

Rustom :Akshay Kumar all the way - DAY 877

Film Review: Rustom           

Date: July 12 2016
Director: Tinnu Suresh Desai
Cast: Akshay Kumar, Ileana Dcruz, Esha Gupta, ArjanBajwa
Rating: 2.5 stars**1/2

Producer NeerajPandey and director Tinnu Suresh Desai travel you into time when Mumbai city was Bombay in 1959, when the skyline was clear, the streets not crowded and the cars distinctly different. The policemen wore ink blue uniforms and people madelightening trunk calls. Life was simpler then but love and relationships were as tempting and fatal.
Inspired from the notorious case of KM Nanavati v/s State of Maharashtra that challenged and defied the judicial system, Rustom tells the story of decorated naval officer RustomPavriwho murdered his wife’s lover point blank and then surrendered himself to the police.The legal question was, did he plan the murder or was it an emotional reaction? Was RustomPavri guilty of murdering his friend PremAhuja or was he not guilty?
What works about the film is the art design and the deliberations in the courtroom. What doesn’t is the slow pace, the background score and some unconvincing traits of characters. Why is Rutom in his uniform all the time?  He says he does not want any special treatment but is given a solitary cell where he plays chess. He is not a professional lawyer so how does he accumulate witnesses sitting inside the jail? What happens to the 5crore transfer?
While some props and locations are applause worthy like the Bombay streets and the vehicles, some are embarrassingly fake like the old airport and currency; still it will not be fair to dismissRustom as just a crime/ courtroom drama. This is a story of love and deceit, of complex relationships and principles.
The film would have been more impactful if the women characters were more convincing but all IleanaDcruzdoes is cry and Esha Gupta wears red lipstick and raise eyebrows. Akshay Kumar is the only one who delivers a sterling performance.
The controversial case has inspired two films in the past- RK Nayyar’s Ye RaasteHaiPyaarKe/1963 more on adultery and Gulzar’s Achanak/1973 on medical profession.
Rustom should be watched because the case challenged not just the state but changed the direction of police, media, law and judicial system. It was the first time the public outrage forced the jury to change verdict.

BhawanaSomaaya/ @bhawanasomaaya

Tuesday 9 August 2016

Animal-Human-Nature Continuum International Festival of Film- DAY 876

Osianama’s Masterclass in Acting is part of the 1st Animal-Human-Nature Continuum International Festival of Film, Arts & Animal Welfare. This week will feature Naseeruddin Shah, arguably one of India's greatest film and theatre actors in conversation with Neville Tuli. 

The actor will discuss his journey from the New Wave cinema NishantMirch MasalaAlbert Pinto Ko Gussa Kyun Aata HaiBhavni BhavaiSparsh and Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron to mainstream masala films from Masoom to Tridev to Karma.


Monday 8 August 2016

Animal-Human-Nature Continuum International Festival of Film- DAY 875

Osianama’s Masterclass in Acting is part of the 1st Animal-Human-Nature Continuum International Festival of Film, Arts & Animal Welfare. This week will feature Naseeruddin Shah, arguably one of India's greatest film and theatre actors in conversation with Neville Tuli. 
The actor will discuss his journey from the New Wave cinema NishantMirch MasalaAlbert Pinto Ko Gussa Kyun Aata HaiBhavni BhavaiSparsh and Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron to mainstream masala films from Masoom to Tridev to Karma.


Friday 5 August 2016

Saluting Budhia - DAY 874

Film Review: Budhia Born To Run                           

Date: July 05 2016
Director: Soumendra Padhi
Cast: Manoj Bajpayee, Mayur Patole
Rating: 4 stars****

Based on a true story of Odisha’s miracle runner Budhia Awooga Singh, the little boy was sold to a bangle seller by his impoverished widow mother. Biranchi Das, a local judo coach and orphanage operator brings him to live with the other kids under his care.
One day, Biranchi notices him harassing other kids and punishes him to run around the campus till he is asked to stop. Five hours later when Biranchi returns from his work, he discovers that the boy is still running. A medical checkup reveals he is fit and normal and that’s when Biranchi Das decides to train Budhia to run marathons.
By the age of 4, Budhia accomplished 48 marathons which includes Bhubaneshwar to Puri covering a distance of 65 kms in just 7 hours and 2 minutes and is listed as the youngest marathon runner in the Limca Book of World Records in 2006.
This is a film about Budhiya’s will and skill and more important. about his submission to his coach. It is a story about the courage and the vision of his coach Biranchi Das, a story of their families and most important, a story of concerns - those raised by child welfare, the sports council, advertisers, lawyers, doctors, journalists, politicians and society at large.
When you come out of the theatre you are thinking about the 5 year old. It is fair to make him go through what he did at a tender age? Will all this not affect his health and future?  Today Budhia is 13 and he is already burnt out, is one of the 150-odd children at the Kalinga Stadium hostel, Bhubaneswar. He doesn’t run anymore and his hours of rigorous session have reduced too.
He is still a legend for the state of Odissha but even Budhia knows it will never be the same. Maybe things would have been different if his coach was alive or he had found another deserving coach in these years, but that did not happen!
Watch National Award for Best Children Film 2016 Budhiya Born to Run for the outstanding cinematography by Manoj Kumar Khatoi and sharp editing by Shivkumar Panicer. Manoj Bajpayee delivers yet another sensitive performance and little Mayur Patole is a revelation but finally the film belongs to the wit, grit and vision of writer director Soumendra Padhi.
What a film, Soumendra, take a bow!

Bhawana Somaaya/ @bhawanasomaaya

Thursday 4 August 2016



Tuesday 2 August 2016

Remembering Meena Kumari - DAY 872

Meena Kumari is no more but continues to live in our memories through her films and her  poetry, reproducing some passages….
The Empty Shop
Why has Time spread out its wares before me?     
Where are the things
I used to buy?
These spurious toys of pleasure
Paper of fame
These wax dolls of wealth
Locked in glass cases
(That can melt at anyone’s touch)
These are not the things I wish to buy

A handsome dream of love
That can sooth my eyes
A moment of perfect intimacy
That can soothe my restless soul
I came looking for nothing but these
And the shop of Time Supplies none of these things.

Unseen Footsteps
I wonder
How long ago
The moon was born
The young moonlight
Has made a pathway
On the ocean
On which
I see no traveler
Hear the sounds of footsteps
The sound of unseen footsteps…


Friday 29 July 2016

Dishoom is hot and happening - DAY 871

Film: Dishoom                                 Producer: Sajid Nadiadwala & Sunil Lulla
Director: Rohit Dhawan
Music: Pritam
Cast|: John Abraham, Varun Dhawan,  Akshaye Khanna ,Jacqueline Fernandez and Saqib Saleem
Ratings: 3.5 stars***1/2

The film opens with India’s top batsman, Vijay Sharma/ Saqeeb Saleem hitting sixes on the cricket pavilion and a few scenes later, you discover that the sportsman is missing. The finals are two days later and the chase begins to hunt the missing star.
Kabir Shergill/John Abraham is the super cop assigned on the mission and assisting him is the young and cheerful Junaid Ansari /Varun Dhawan.
On the surface it is a regular action thriller but there is a difference, this one has substance and a 36 hour deadline. What works about the film are the virgin locations, Ayananka Bose’s seductive cinematography, Tushar Hiranandani’s script, Hussain Dalal’s dialogues and the dare devil action.
Mention must be made of a refreshing supporting cast and the delightful surprises (Nargis Fakhri, Parineeti Chopra, a hilarious Satish Kaushik and an unstoppable Akshay Kumar in cameos).
Saqib Saleem as the abducted cricketer is reserved and reassured, Akshaye Khanna effective in negative role and John Abraham–Varun Dhawan reminiscent of Amitabh Bachchan -Shashi Kapoor pairing of yester years.
What does not, are some exaggerations, some unending thrills, a cacophonic background score but  all diffused by Ritesh- Rokade’s razor sharp editing that keeps you engrossed till the end.
Dishoom is fast, furious, energetic, stylish and entertaining. Watch it for the delicious Varun Dhawan, the handsome John Abraham and most important, for the new director on the block, Rohit Dhawan take a bow.


Thursday 28 July 2016

Sarika Sanjeev Take 2 - DAY 870

Sarika and Sachin as child stars did a couple of films with Sanjeev Kumar and considered him as their guru so after Sarika had grown up and become a leading lady, Sarika was too excited when she was offered a film opposite Sanjeev Kumar by her favorite director Basu Bhattacharya. Basu Bhattacharya in his last years made four films on the subject of marriage –Anubhav about stagnation in marriage, Aavishkar – about disappearance of romance in marriage, Griha Pravesh – about the other woman and Aastha about the other man or men in marriage.
In Griha Pravesh Sanjeev Kumar is married to Sharmila Tagore for many years and finds himself attracted to a much younger office colleague in the office. One day, on the young girl’s insistence, Sanjeev Kumar brings her home to meet his wife and many masks are lifted.
Sarika rates the shooting of Griha Pravesh released today in 1979 as a memorable experience in her life to work with her idol Sanjeev Kumar and to stare at the diva, Sharmilaji unabashedly.


Wednesday 27 July 2016

Fragrance of Abhimaan - DAY 869

It is 43 years since the release of Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s Abhimaan/July 1973 but the film is still fresh in our memories. We still listen to the music of the filmin our car and become nostalgic. Everytime the film is shown on television I stop to watch one more scene and end up watching the entire film again. It is called the power of the medium. The digital media is full of annecdotes on the film and the cast but we are always hungry for more details. The film was ghost produced by Amitabh Bachchan and Jaya Bhaduri that is why it was called Amiya Productions. Jaya wore her personal saris in the film. The film was originally titled Raag Ragini but Hrishida changed it at the last minute to Abhimaan because he felt it better suited the story. Amitabh and Jaya got married during the film and shot the climax after they returned from their honeymoon.


Tuesday 26 July 2016

Hema Malini is the lucky charm - DAY 868

Two films released today, Gehri Chaal in 1973 and Amir Gareeb in 1974 both starring Hema Malini and there are interesting stories involving both. The original end of Gehri Chaal engaged Jeetendra and Amitabh Bachchan in a fight but by the time the director began shooting the climax Seeta aur Geeta was released and the distributor laid a condition that he will buy the film only if the climax depicted Hema Malini fighting the goons and the director had to oblige much to the displeasure of both the heroes. Dev Anand’s Ishq Ishq Ishq released in 1974 the same year as Amir Gareeb and while the former was a disaster at the box-office what saved Dev Anand was lucky charm Hema Malini.

Today is Jugal Hansraj’s birthday and I was the first journalist to interview the beautiful child star of Masoom sitting in the lawns of Mehboob Studio in Bandra.


Monday 25 July 2016

Creative Writing Workshop - DAY 867

Fiction Writing…is it magic or logic…art or craft…inspiration or perspiration…gift or prize!
Demystify the process of story writing with practical techniques. Unleash the writer within you and explore the world of stories with confidence!
This Is An Era Where Creativity Rules!
This is a Writers’ Workshop that has…Innovative exercises for story building.
Radical techniques for plot development
Practical solutions to writers’ block. Dynamic methods for characterization
A bold new approach to the imaginative side of the mind.
A chance to get published in a forthcoming anthology.
Duration: 2 days
Age Group: 14 years and upwards
Dates: July 30 – 31 (Sat – Sun), 2016
Time: 10.00 am to 5.00 pm                              
Venue: Living Bridge Training Centre, Aundh,
Fees: Rs. 4600/- only (Including Lunch & Tea)
18, Omkar, Runanubandh Colony, Kotbagi Hospital Lane, Next to Delhi Kitchen, Aundh, Pune 411007
Ph: 020 - 41220478  
Mobile No: +91 9890000587/7620023495


Friday 22 July 2016

Strictly for Rajni fans - DAY 866(1)

Film Review: Kabali                                                         
Date: July 22 2016
Director: Pa Ranjith
Cast: Rajnikanth, Winston Chow, Radhika Aapte
Rating: whatever box-office determines

Time has stopped still for Rajnikanth since he started acting in films because in Kabali he is still the dreaded gangster serving a long imprisonment in Malaysian jail. When he is finally set free, Kabali has to look for his estranged family but before that he has to settle scores with old enemies who turned his life upside down.
In the next hour and half, bullets fire in the air and blood flows like a valley like it did in his films of the70s, the 80s, the 90s and the 2000 in that sense time has stood still for the superstar. He still wears sqeaky shinning shoes and walks erect with his collars up. He still flops on the sofa his arms stretched and one leg resting on the other and he still throws his goggles in the air and whistles.
Some things have changed undoubtedly, this time he wears salt pepper hair and does not gyrate with his beloved but gets emotioal with his wife Radhika Aapte.
Traveling three locations Malaysia – Thailand and TamilNadu and sprinkled in three dialects Kabali is strictly for Rajni sir fans only.
No point of rating the film because the superstar lives by his own rules.


Common man is special - DAY 866

Film Review: Madaari
Date: July 22 2016
Director: Nishikant Kamath
Cast: Irrfan Khan, Vishesh Bansal, Jimmy Shergill
Rating: 3 stars***

The film opens with a voice over questionning that presuming there’s a fight between an eagle and a mouse, who would win? If the eagle wins, the story becomes predictible. If the mouse wins, the story is unrealistic, so the third end is the story of Madaari.
An ordinary man/Irrfan Khan kidnaps the son of a powerful man, Home Minister/Tushar Dalvi and throws him a challenge.
This is not a regular cop and culprit chase. The issue is not ‘who’ but ‘why’. Shot on varied and fast changing locations within the interiors of India, the characters walk the sands, tan in the sun, sleep on chugging trains, ride in rickety buses and walk hungry for days.
What works about the film is the premise, the message and the intention. Director Nishikant Kamath has always displaced radical choice subjects beginning with his award winning Dombivali Fast, later Mumbai Meri Jaan on bomblasts and recently debate on right and wrong in Drishyam. This time Kamath knocks on your concience and exposes those in power.
The problem with Madaari is we have been throug similar journeys of the common man in A Wednesday and Traffic and the plot is devoid of surprises. The narrative is slow paced and the story unfairly hero centric. One misses the involvement of Rohan’s school, classmates and parents, particularly mothers of other students.
The main problem is the exaggerated climax. Would any minister under any dire circumstances ever visit a common man to resolve a crisis?
Jimmy Shergill as the investigating cop Nachiket is effective but almost invisible. Child star Vishesh Bansal is bright and cheeky but the film belongs solely to Irrfan Khan. As the dishevelled, unkempt kidnapper always on the move, Irrfan is merculrial and sparkling.
There is just one song in the film composed by Vishal Bharadwaj and another from Urdu poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz in the endcrdits and both add to the story telling.
Moral of the story: it is not necesaary for either the eagel or the mouse to conquer each other if both are accountable and ethical.


Wednesday 20 July 2016

Film: Nazar /1991 - DAY 864

Based on Fyodor Dostoevsky's short story The Meek One Nazar was produced by NFDC and directed by Mani Kaul starring his daughter Shambhavi Kaul with Shekhar Kapur and Surekha Sikri. The film travelled to almost all the international festivals but was not released in India. About an antique dealer who lives in a luxurious apartment in a fancy apartment in Mumbai with his aunt, the hero surprises everybody when he marries an orphan girl half his age and brings her home. 

The film begins with the young wife committing suicide and the hero recollecting his conversations with her trying to comprehend the mystery that must have motivated her to take the final decision.

For more check India’s finest films on Zee Classic Saturday 10 pm.


Tuesday 19 July 2016

Film: Kamla Ki Maut /1989 - DAY 863

Directed by Basu Chatterjee the film is set in a lower middle class chawl examining the sudden death of a
20-year-old unmarried Kamla, who commits suicide unable to handle the news of her pregnancy. Raising issues related to pre-marital sex and relationships in modern India Basu Chatterjee master of middle class cinema travels the neighborhood and examines other relationships in the Gopal Bhawan chawl at Mangalwadi in Girgaum.

This is the first time Pankaj Kapoor and Suprriya Pathak came together as a pair and many years later got married. Other actors in the film were Roopa Ganguly, Asha Lata, Irfaan Khan and
believe it or not Lagaan director Ashutosh Gowariker.

For more check India’s finest films on Zee Classic Saturday 10 pm.


Monday 18 July 2016

Film: 27Down / 1974 - DAY 862

Directed by Awtar Krishna Kaul, starring Raakhee and M K Raina is based on a Hindi novel Athara Sooraj Ke Paudhe by Ramesh Bakshi about a railways employee who meets a girl on the train. The music of this film was composed by Hariprasad Chaurasia and Bhubaneshwar Mishra and production design by Bansi Chandragupta. 27 Down won National Award for Best Feature Film in Hindi as well as Best Cinematography for Apurba Kishore Bir. 

Shot on real location on Mumbai trains, platforms, and at Mumbai's Victoria Terminus station, the film was mostly shot at night to avoid crowds and the cinematographer of the film, Apurba Kishore Bir was just 22 years old and shot almost 70 percent of the film using a hand-held camera using a widelenses rather than the zooms which was the practice that time. Another interesting facet was Bir chose to shoot the film in black and white with stark contrasts rather than color. 

For more check India’s finest films on Zee Classic Saturday 10 pm.