Thursday 30 June 2016

Kalat Nakalat - DAY 853

For a long time it was a given that Hindi cinema makes great movies and the most pathbreaking plays are performed on Marathi theatre. Over the years the lines of excellence have blurred. Hindi/ Udu andEnglish plays are not just pathbreaking but experimental and successful and Marathi cinema supported by government has started to make revolutionary films the best example of this is Sairrat. Last week I saw Ekk Albela based on the life of veteran Marathi and Hindi cinema actor Bhagwan Dada and loved the film.
Marathi play Kalat Nakalat is about twin brothers Vishwas and Sonu. Sonu is mentally challenged and it becomes Vishwas' responsibility to take care of his younger brother in the absence of his parents. Vishwas' life revolves around Sonu and he decides to rent out a room of his home in order to meet expenses for Sonu's medical  treatment.
It is not an easy task but finally, a young girl Rasika agrees to rent the room and in time to come becomes an emotional suppot for Vishwas. But have the problems resolved for Vishwas or multiplied is the story of Kalat Nakalat.


Wednesday 29 June 2016

Zeenat Aman’s love life - DAY 852

The most awaited Indian web series, Love Life & Screw Ups first look poster was
launched with much fanfare in New York at My True Colors Festival. It marks the digital debut of all time diva Zeenat Aman. She will be again seen in a super glamorous avatar of Joanna, a non-apologetic vain, happy go lucky owner of a cafĂ©. A story of bunch of friends and their love life, the series is written and directed by Kapil Kaustubh Sharma. Sharma a self proclaimed fan of Aman chased the actor for two long months before he got an appointment with the yesteryear star. He admits that she was unsure about going digital but was hooked when she heard the concept, even remarking that “this could have been a movie!” Zeenat has chosen the ‘70s look for the character complete with long skirts and goggles.

For the role Zeenat went on a strict diet and did a rigorous work out to look the part of Joanna.  LL&SU is first Indian series to star popular names from TV, theatre, modellingand cinema.


Tuesday 28 June 2016

Ek aur​ Begum Jaan - DAY 851

Daisy Shah started as a dancer got her break with superstar Salman Khan and is now experimenting with theatre. She says she was attracted to venture on the stage because the role of a courtesan was promising and she trained with a professional Kathak dancer to portray the character. Music being an integral part of the courtesan culture and Daisy insisted on singing on stage as well. While some of her detractors laughed at her attempt to experiment so early in her career Daisy is happy to have taken the plunge. “Theatre is more challenging than cinema as everything happens on the spot. The reactions are spontaneous and you can make out if the audience is affected by your performance. In films I have mostly done glamour roles but on stage I have the option to play a complex character like begum” 
Begum Jaan is about an innocent girl Uzma whom destiny transforms into a renowned courtesan of Lucknow appreciated as an exemplary dancer and a soulful singer. The play will be premiered on 2 July at Rang Sharda Auditorium, Bandra and is directed by Pradeep Gupta.


Monday 27 June 2016

Gushan Grover combines with Steven Spielberg - DAY 850

After the last power-packed Oscar nominated movie, Bridge of Spies -the visionary and celebrated filmmaker Steven Spielberg is back with fa antasy adventure Big Friendly Giant set to release in India on 15 July.

Bollywood’s bad man Gulshan Grover has been selected to lend his voice in the Hindi dubbed version because Grover has a strong following in the West, was apparently an obvious choice to play the main baddie Fleshlumpeater (portrayed by Jemaine Clement) in the original. 

Written by Oscar nominee Late Melissa Mathison (Ex-wife of Harrison Ford) and based on the novel of the same name by Ronald Dahl the film stars Mark Rylance (Bridge of Spies) in the title role, an elderly giant who kidnaps the orphan Sophie, played by Ruby Barnhill, to give him company and to asist him on a mission in Giant Country. Sophie initially reluctant befriends a giant as they set out on an adventure to capture the evil, man-eating giants who have been invading the human world.

The film premiered at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival and will release in India in four languages – English, Hindi, Tamil and Telugu.


Friday 24 June 2016

Ekk Albela is nostalgic - DAY 849 (2)

Film Review: EKK Albela
Date: 24 June 2016
Director: Shekhar Sartandel
Cast: Mangesh Desai, Vidya Balan
Rating: 3 stars

There are innumerable ways of presenting a biopic. Writer director Shekhar Sartandel chooses to tell it from the horse’s mouth, so we have actor Mangesh Desai playing Master Bhagwan recounting his story of struggle in show business.

Starting in British India time, Bhagwan and his friends are influenced by Mahatma Gandhi but clearly directionless. His passion for cinema dares him to jump across the studio wall to watch film shooting and unwittingly becomes a part of the cinema world.

The film traces Bhagwan’s journey from Silent cinema to Talkies, his bitter sweet encounters and evolution from a small time actor to a stunt filmmaker who has ambitions of producing a social drama with a superstar.

Writer Amol Shetge aided by cinematographer Uday Devare and art director Baban Adagale  succeed in reviving a time and  culture gone by. What works about the story are the real incidents and people because for a change, they underline that this is not a work of fiction.

The pace is languid but we are talking about the 30s and the 40s when trolleys lingered and the audience had patience. The director has cleverly focused on the making of a legend and steered clear of his decline and his tragic end.

Watch Ekk Albela for documenting history, for the melody and for the mesmerising Vidya Balan (super costumes and makeup). You cannot look at anything else when Balan is on the screen. This is a visual experience that breaks language barriers. The characters communicate in language (Hindi/ Marathi/Gujrati) they are comfortable in and everybody understands.


Raman Raghav is nerve wracking - DAY 849 (1)

Film Review: Raman Raghav 2.0
Date: 24 June 2016
Director: Anurag Kashyap
Cast: Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Vicky Kaushal
Rating: 3.5 stars

The opening credit reads:  this is NOT the story of Raman Raghav 2.0 and you think it is a clever strategy on part of the filmmaker. As the film progresses you discover that this is indeed not the story of the 60’s serial killer but somebody like him somewhere.

Shot on real locations and in available lights the story is divided in episodes to enhance the lives of different victims but finally it is a chase between criminal Raman/Nawazuddin Siddiqui and cop Raghav/Vicky Kaushal. There are no surprises in the story and yet writer-director Anurag Kashyap engages you in a riveting narrative that you are unable to move in your seat.

From Paanch, Dev D and Gangs of Wasseypur to Uddta Punjab, Anurag Kashyap has traveled us through the dark alleys of human damage, and devastation. He is probably the only director of his generation who has the art of expressing silence in cinema, there are occasions when his screen turns completely Black and there is pin drop silece in the cinema hall. His films are about his observations of human relationships and expressions - all extremely attractive but rattling too!

So the choice is whether you have the nerves to take Kashyap brand of cinema, I don’t but that does not stop me from watching him!

Raman Raghav 2.0 excels in every department particularly sound and writing. All the performances Amruta, Vickey Kaushal are extra-ordinary but the scene stealer as always is Nawazuddin Siddiqui. Siddiqui is so simple that he is magical! His molten eyes and composure haunts you long after the film has ended.

Watch Raman Raghav 2.0 it only if you are prepared for sleepless nights.


Thursday 23 June 2016

Akira coming to town - DAY 848

Stories of filmmakers postponing releases is common but once in a while, some directors are so well prepared that they are eager to release before the scheduld date.

Ghajini and Holiday director A R Murugadoss is one such example. 

Murgadoss's Akira scheduled for later release has been preponed to 2nd September 2016.
Produced by Fox Star Studios Akira is an action thriller starring Sonakshi Sinha in a never seen before action avatar.


Wednesday 22 June 2016

Pets, storks & sausages - DAY 847

For those who liked Despicable Me back in 2010 there is good news. The Secret Life of Pets is about a pet Max (Louis C.K) and how his life turns upside down when his owner brings home a new pet, Duke (Eric Stonestreet) but the feud turns into a friendship when abandoned pets form an army to take revenge on all the family owned pets.
Storks used to deliver babies, but now they are used as carriers to deliver packages all around the world via, a global Internet giant. Junior (Andy Samberg) is the top delivery stork until he accidently turns on the Baby Making Machine and produces an unauthorized child that he must deliver the baby before his boss finds out, quite possibly beginning the end of delivery packages and starting over an age-old tradition of delivering babies.
Sausage Party boasts of a voice cast that includes Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill, Kristen Wiig, and James Franco — A tray of ausagesas is on its way to grocery store aisles in time for a new sale when they discover one spiritual sausage on a journey of self-discovery, sounds ridiculous, but if nothing else, the film should offer an alternative to those squeaky-clean animated   comedies.


Tuesday 21 June 2016

Animation fever - DAY 846

Everyone knows that animation cinema is not easy and finally India is waking up to appreciate it. One of them is Disney-Pixar’s much anticipated series FindingDory, the sequel to the 2003 film Finding Nemo will release in the theatres this week.
Finding Dory focuses on the amnesiac character Dory and her journey to reunite with her family. The story is set six months post Finding Nemo and set off the coast of California. Many characters from the earlier film, including Dory, Nemo, Marlin, Mr. Ray, Crush and Squirt appear in the sequel and features an all-star voice cast.
Interestingly Finding Dory is not the only animation film scheduled this year. Moana (voice of Auli’i Cravalho) is a CG-animated feature film about an adventurous teenager who sails out on a daring mission to save her people. During her journey, Moana meets the once-mighty demigod Maui (voice of Dwayne Johnson), who guides her in her quest to become a master wayfinder. Together, they sail across the open ocean on an action-packed voyage, encountering enormous monsters and impossible odds, and along the way, Moana fulfills the ancient quest of her ancestors and discovers the one thing she’s always sought: her own identity. This film is touted to be the next ‘Frozen’ for Disney Link:
Directed by the renowned filmmaking team of Ron Clements and John Musker (The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, the Princess & the Frog) and produced by Osnat Shurer (Lifted, One Man Band).


Monday 20 June 2016

After sequels it is remakes - DAY 845

Yesterday I was invited to baba Siddiqui’s iftaar party at Taj Lands End. I t promised to be a heavy d security affair and preferred to watch the drama on TV instead. It was supposed to be in the Taj lawns and when it started rainning in the evening I was thinking about how they must have made a change of venue at the last minute. Or maybe they were clever enough to have a plan B.

Filmfolks always have a plan B so after enjoying a flourishing season of sequels they have jumped on the bandwagon of remakes.
A few days ago we heard that producer Vinay Sinha is planning to remake Andaz Apna Apna with current actors followed by a statement from Aamir Khan that he would love to combine force with Salman Khan provided the script was challenging for both of them.

Now we hear that producer Vashu Bhagnanai wants to remake two of his favorite David Dhawan films namely Hero No 1 and Bade Miya Chotte Miyan so let’s wait and watch who will step into the large shoes of Govinda and Amitahbh Bachchan.


Friday 17 June 2016

Dhanak is a fairy tale - DAY 844 (2)

Film Review: Dhanak
Date: June 17 2016
Director: Nagesh Kukunoor
Cast: Hetal Gada, Krish Chabria
Rating: 2.5 stars

A sister Pari and her younger blind brother Chottu live with their uncle and aunt in a remote village of Rajasthan. Everyday, they walk the desert holding hands on way to school and tell each other a story. Pari is a fan of Shah Rukh Khan and Chottu is a fan of Salman Khan and that is about the only conflict the siblings share.

Pari has promised Chottu that she will get his eyes operated before his ninth birthday so that he can watch the rainbow in the sky.

Dhanak can be described as a travelogue interspersed with exaggerated characters and undramatic events.  Kukunoor has always made simple stories and addressed social concers. Dhanak lacks the humour of Hyderabad Blues, the sparkle of Iqbaal and the drama of Dor but it is a delightful fairy tale about chasing your dreams.

Watch Dhanak for the message and the performances of the endearing Pari/Hetal Gada and the unstoppable Chottu/ Krish Chabria.


Udta Punjab is stomach churning - DAY 844 (1)

Film Review: Udta Punjab
Date: June 17 2016
Director: Abhishek Chaubey
Cast: Shahid Kapoor, Alia Bhatt, Kareena Kapoor, Diljit Dosanjh
Rating: 4 stars

On a dark night you can hear the trees rustle, the streets are desolate but a lot is happening in the bushes, in the corridors, in the fields and in the alleys of a buzzing city. Punjab’s pop singer Tommy Singh/Shahid Kapoor is flying on the stage at his concert and his followers, singing his songs are flying with him.
On a sunny morning a young worker/Alia Bhatt spots something suspicious in the fields and later discovers a precious packet that transforms her life.

Sartaj Singh/Diljit Dosanjh belongs to a family of cops who have surrendered to the system while Doctor Preet Sahani fights the system from outside.
Udta Punjab is not just about them, it is about the entire state – those fighting the drug menace and the addicts fighting themselves!

As the mercurial, obsessive junky singer Shahid Kapoor is magical. Ali Bhatt is haunting in every frame and Kareena Kapoor the only soothing presence in the dark, disturbing film where brutality is upclose and pathos stomach churning.

I watched three-fourth of the film through the veil of my duppatta; you will have to be brave too for the sake of your country.
Our gratitude to writer Sudeep Sharma and director Abhishek Chaubey, for awakening us to the moment of truth…!!


Wednesday 15 June 2016

Dream wedding for WaheedaRehman’s son Sohail Rekhy in Bhutan - DAY 843

Part 1

06 June 2016. I’m boarded on Bhutan Airways to attend Waheeda Rehman’s first born
Sohail Rekhy’s wedding to Dechhen Pelden in Paro, Bhutan. In the seat ahead of me is veteran star Helen Khan and beside me is actor Asha Parekh, both friends of Rehman for decades. As we take off we discover that most of the passengers on board are headed to the same destination and they include Rehman’s maternal and marital families and her children’s friends.

At Paro Airport, Kashvi, Waheeda Rehman’s daughter has come to receives us and escorts us to Hotel Le Meridian where we are given a customary welcome. Waheeda Rehman is waiting for us in the lobby and looks visibly excited. “It is the first wedding in the family and I want to enjoy every minute” she tells us. Her enthusiasm is infectious and everyone is in a mood for celebration.

At 7 pm the skyline is bright and I go fro a stroll in the hotel garden accompanied by Asha Parekh. There is a nip in the air and we are about to join other guests in the hotel terrace when it suddenly begins to rain and everyone rushes inside. We are told Bhutan climate is unredictible and never leave without a shwl and an umbrella.

Dinner is at the hotel and the staff informs us that their hotel has come alive because of the Indian wedding. As if on cue, bridegroom Sohail joins our table and is beseiged by his friends and cousins forcing him to join them for a party and Sohail pleading them to let him go to sleep. 

Waheeda Rehman watches them fondly and says “In the olden days, we fussed over the bride and the bridegroom, today they are their own wedding planners as a result they hardly enjoy their special moment.”  Rehman is all praise for her daughter-in-law and proud of her son’s choice. “She is considerate and efficient and well versed with our customs. When we realized that the wedding date coincided with Ramzan,  I told my relatives to let go  of rozas for one year and they agreed but Dechhen was particular that morning sehri and evening iftaar should be available to all those observing the fast and supervised the details personally. It is very thoughtful of her and I appreciate it.”

( to be continued)


Tuesday 14 June 2016

One Actor, One Play, 3 Languages - DAY 842

Ideas Unlimited presents Mohan’s Masala - A recipe to find the 'Hero' within you is a pathbreaking play performed in three different languages, Gujarati, Hindi and English by the same actor on the same day in the

same venue at the same time. Premiered at Prithvi Theatre, Mohan’s Masala focused on the lost shadow
of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi.
Revered as the Mahatma (The great soul) Mohandas was an ordinary man who became extraordinary because of his his convictions.
In this extra-ordinary play writer Ishan Doshi/ director Manoj Shah travels Mohaniya (as he was lovingly called by relatives) and performed by Pratik Gandhi, the play travels from Porbandar to South Africa and back home.
With music by Kanhaiya and playback by Parthiv Gohil the play originally conceived in Gujarati the play on popular demand from audiences, corporates and schools have been transcreated in Hindi and English to reach a larger audience.  Already 37 shows old Mohan’s Masala is an experimnet in minimalistic theatre production, language and medium.


Monday 13 June 2016

Juhi Chawla works on her terms - DAY 841

Juhi Chawla will be seen playing a cameo Hume Tumse Pyaar Kitna a film produced by Mahendra
Bohra, with whom Juhi Chawla has done a number of films in the past.

The hero of the film Karanvir Bohra, a follower of SRK's negative roles like Baazigar and Darr seems to follow into his idol’s footsteps and as coincidence would have it shares a rapport with SRK’s favorite heroine Juhi Chawla as they shared screen space in Aziz Mirza's Kismet Konnection! Karanvir is confident that destiny is going to work a miracle for him with all these coincidences.


Friday 10 June 2016

Te3n is celebration of performances - DAY 840

Film Review: Te3n
Date: June 10 2016
Director: Ribhu Dasgupta
Cast: Amitabh Bachchan, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Vidya Balan
Rating: 3.5 stars

Te3n is the story of what happens to the family of a child kidnapped in broad day light, a story of love and loss, of pain and pathos. What is interesting is that his is not a regular who dunnit thriller infact I would describe Te3n more as a story of concern than suspense. Director Ribhu Dasgupta and writer Suresh Nair do away with stereotypes in both the narrative and the characters so Amitabh Bachchan’s John Biswas though ageing is far from a victim. John uncle as he is called can fix his home ceiling fan, revive his rickety scooter, shop vegetables, pay electricity bills and even cook new recipees for his wheel chair bound wife.

Nawazuddin Siddiqui’s police inspector Martin and later Father Martin are characters with conscience. We have seen many cops and many priests on Hini screen but this is as real as it gets. As Sarita Sarkar you connect with Vidya Balan from the first scene she is introduced in a compassionate moment at the police station. Vidya proves that she does not have to be brutal to be taken seriously as a cop.  

Inspired from Korean film Montage Te3n unravels many secrets as the story travels the busy streets of Kolkatta in train, tram and road. The charcters keep you engaged all through and the climax is unpredictible. The subject could so easily have become violent and abusive on the contrary Te3n encompasses all generations, is sensitive, rivetting and refreshing. The pace is a bit slow and that’s probably the only negative
and combined with music it adds drama to the moment.

Watch Te3n for the message – it is not about revenge, it is about justice and the superlative performances. Nawaz shines, Vidya sparkles and Bachchan breaks your heart! It is amazing how the angry young actor of the 70s continues to redefine his characters and cinema over the last four decades.

Bhawana Somaaya/ @bhawanasomaaya

Thursday 9 June 2016

Sonam Kapoor’s first photo shoot was with me - DAY 839

Anil Kapoor and I have known each other much before he became a film star and I became a film journalist. I have watched his struggle in the 70s and his rise to stardom in the 80s. I remember his impromptu marriage, his buying a new home and him becoming a father. In the winter of the year 1990 I was the editor of the newly found g magazine and  requested Anil to do a special photo feature with his wife Sunita and  daughters Sonam and Rhea Kapoor (Harshvardhan was not born as yet).

As expected Sunita declined the offer but Anil agreed to shoot with his two girls. Sunita designed identical clothes for all three of them and we shot in their tastefully done up bungalow. My photographer Jayesh Seth seated the girls on the ornate chair while daddy Anil stood behind them, his arms holding both protectively.
It was evident on this day that Sonam at that time just five years old enjoyed every moment of the camera and the spotlight while little Rhea was claustrophobic and cried through the photo session.

Sunita Kapoor hovering in the backgground noticed Sonam and Rhea’s contradictory behaviors inspotlight and said to her husband, “Seems like our girls have made up their minds about the future, Sonam will follow in your footsteps and Rhea will take after me.”

Sunita was right. Sonam becamae an actor and Rhea chose to become a stylist.


Wednesday 8 June 2016

Timeless Dimple - DAY 838

I don’t know what isit about birthdays because memories just flood your mind. The first time I met Dimple Kapadia nee Khanna was at the funeral of Baldev Pathak, Dina Pathak’s husband. Baldev and Rajesh Khanna were close friends and few people know that Baldev was the man behind Rajesh Khanna’s famous Gurushirts. Clad in a milk white sari Dimple sat with the family till late evening. I remember traveling back home with Dimple and Shabana Azmi and I’m not sure if she knew I was a journalist at that time but Dimple was at her candid best.

Over the decades I did a number of interviews with the actor spanning her long career in films. We chatted at her parents home in Juhu, on her sets, traveled with her on location shooting, went shopping for Rajkumar Santoshi’s wedding gift together in the busy streets of Delhi and always Dimple was herself, speaking from the heart without a care for the world.

It was impossible not to like Dimple. She was beautful, accessible, engaging, sensitive, untraditional and unpredictible. The only time I think she was not herself and tried to confine to a role was when she lived as Mrs Rajesh Khanna at Aashirwad. When she left Aashirwad, she found her old self in her patent’s home this time with her two daughters, Twinkle and Rinki Khanna. Later when she turned a successful star and mustered confidence she moved out to live on her own at Vastu a few blocks away from her parent’s home.

Her home at Vastu is filled with candles and paintings all created by Dimple. In the olden days, Dimple and her sister Simple with their children dropped by at her mother Betty’s home and she fussed over the girls and all the grand children. Today, Dimple and Simple’s children and grand children drop by at her home and Dimple a la Betty fusses over all her child ren and grand children.

It is true life comes in circles.


Friday 3 June 2016

House Full 3 Migrane Full - DAY 836

Sajid Farhad likhi directed HouseFull 3 Batuk Patel yane Boman Irani aur uski teen sanskari betiyaan, Ganga, Jamuna aur Sarawati ki kahani hain.
Batuk nahi chahta ki uski teeno betiton ki shaadi ho, isliye apne dost Akhri Paasta yaane Chunky Pande ki madad se ek man ghadat kahani banata hai.
Batuk ki betiyaan bhi, apne boy-friends ki madad se ek zabardast plan banati hain jisse Batuk ko accept karna padta hain.
Film ka updesh aap ko hasana hain magar aap muskurate bhi nahi. Na film mein logic hai na humour, na content hai aur na hi sensibility.
Haan bohat saare exotic locations hai aur uss se bhi zyaada costumes.
Teenon heroines 2 ghante aur 34 minutes ke duration mein ya toh gaana gaati hain ya phir apne jism ki ki numaish karti hain…
Hero’s mein Akshay Kumar aur Ritesh Desmukh over the top hote hain aur Boman Irani behad disappointing, sirf Abhishek Bachchan aur Jackie Shroff kuch theek thaak hain…
House Full 3 ko aap apne risk pe dekhiye, maine dekhi aur mujhe ab ta migrane hain.

HouseFull 3 ko milte hai ½  star.


Thursday 2 June 2016

One step to Stardom - DAY 835

It is usually seven steps to stardom but when you have a superstar launching you it is just one stop to stardom, ask Sayyeshaa making her Bollywood debut in Ajay Devgn’s directorial venture Shivaay. It is said that a number of girls were auditioned for the role but Ajay and his team zeroed in on Sayyeshaa.
At that time neither Ajay nor his creative team was aware that that Sayyeshaa is the daughter of Saira Banu’s niece Shaheen and actor Sumeet Saigal. Studied in London Sayyeshaa has been an all rounder both in sports and studies. Like her mother Shaheen who is a trained Kathak dancer, Sayyesha is trained in several classical and non classical dance forms of Brazil, South Africa and London. She is as proficient in dance forms of Latin American, Rhumba, Samba, Jazz funk, Belly dancing as in Hip hop, Kathak and Odissi.
Sayyeshaa is in the real sense an all rounder as gifted in oratory, dance and music. She is trained in music and has been singing since the age of five.
Something tells me that after Anushka Sharma and Deepika Padukone, another sensational star is on her way.


Wednesday 1 June 2016

Seven steps to Stardom - DAY 834

It is usually believed that there are seven steps to stardom but some actors come to the showbiz world with a special destiny and Kiara Advani is one such destiny’s child. Signed by Abbas Mustan for their forthcoming thriller Machine currently being shot in Georgia  Kiara is excited to be launched by the duo directors who launched Preity Zinta in Soldier many decades ago and also to be made up by her favorite star Kareena Kapoor Khan’s hairstylist Pompy Hans and her make up artist RiteshNaik. 
Abbas Mustan wanted the best for their debutante and signed the best in the business to groom her.
One hears that the young actor was awestruck when Pommy and Rtesh explained to her how they planned to style her and thanked them profusely for agreeing to work with her.