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.

Friday 15 July 2016

Great Grand Masti is pornography - DAY 861(1)

Film Review: Great Grand Masti
Date: July 15th, 2016                           
Director: Indra kumar
Cast: Vivek Oberoi,Ritesh Deshmukh, Aftab Shivdasani n Urvarshi Rautela

Rating: -

Indra Kumar directed Great Grand Masti is a trilogy of his earlier two films Masti made in 2004 and Grand Masti in 2013.

In Masti Meet/Vivek Oberoi, Amar/ Ritesh Deshmukh, Prem/Aftab Shivdasani are married men but have no qualms of flirting with Lara Dutta.

In Grand Masti the three friends delighted to be without their wives celebrate their freedom attending their College Reunion.

In Great Grand Masti they are adventurous to visit a remote village and experience a fatal attraction with a ghost.

All three films border on pornography. The issue isn’t about whether such films should be made or watched? The issue is any film can be made on any subject, watched and enjoyed by the audience provided it is aesthetically presented.
If you have relished Indra Kumar’s vulgar brand of cinema then Great grand Masti is for you.
Word of caution: This is not a film for children or family and certainly not a film that deserves my time or star ratings.


Celebrating 10 rollicking years of Golmaal today - DAY 861

The Super Hit Team behind the greatest entertainment trilogy are glad to announce the fourth part of their blockbuster franchise

Releasing - Diwali, 2017.

Get ready to 'crack' up with laughter ... AGAIN !


Thursday 14 July 2016

Meeting up with Manjula - DAY 860

Manjula Lal has been a journalist for over three decades and been associated with Economic Times, Pioneer, Times Of India and The Indian Express. Currently the Deputy Editor with Tehelka, Manjula has found time to write her debut book the story of a newswallah appropriately titled That’s News To Me.

The back cover of her book reads- Dogs can be trained to fetch newspapers for their masters. Should a journalist be treated as a retriever of news by his masters? Lal tells the story of Manush, an idealistic journalist who tries to survive in the jungle of publishing. Manush enjoys the adrenaline rush of chasing scoops and solving mysteries but finds the office politics and demanding bosses difficult to cope. There is equal focus on the personal life of Manush at home – his marriage and his disappointments.
Divided in three sections the book travels from a magazine in Noida to a newspaper office in Delhi and finally a website in Gurgaon.

The book is earnest and frank and has a lot of spice for those chasing the same profession, I would say That’s News To Me is as much about ambitions as about relationships and balancing the two for harmony and survival. It is not the story of Manush and his wife but about all urban nuclear couples struggling to survive a job and marriage.
That’s News To Me is witty, gutsy, reflective and insightful, a must read for all who belong to journalism and particularly those who don’t to understand that getting news is not an easy job.


Wednesday 13 July 2016

Bandish with Parthiv Gohil - DAY 859

It was a magical night at NCPA for all classical and Parthiv Gohil lovers. The stage was set in an Indian style, all the musicians and the singers squatted on gaddas on the floor.  Flowers were strung in the background but only for fragrance not for show. Thye mood was subtle and the ambience nostalgic.
Parthiv Gohil does not follow the todden path and it is evident in the manner he arranges his music and structures the show. The theme of the fesatival was Bandish and how Gohil combined the ragas and nptes was extra-ordinary.
To begin with there was no moderator, no anchor; Parthiv sang and paused when required to explain the changing ragaas and the moods. Combining three legendary film composers namely Shankar Jaikishan, Roshan and SD Burman, Parthiv took the audience on a nostalgic journey singing vintage numbers and the audience joined in the chorus.

It was as much of a musician evening as the performers (Parthiv and Jhaanvi) because all of them were granted their moment to shine and sparkle. There was not a dull moment in the two hour show and when the show ended the audience was out of excitement on the stage pleading an encore.
Parthiv bowed and thanked all and said there would be encore soon if NCPA invites him again.


Monday 11 July 2016

One more Saheb and Bibi - DAY 857

After the original film on the title produced by GuruDutt Films two more films on a similar title have been released and this is the third one in Bengali, this time a thriller Shaheb Bibi Golaam. Produced by Friends Communications, the film has been written and directed by Pratim D Gupta and stars Swastika Mukherjee (Detective Byomkesh Bakshy), Anjan Dutt and Ritwick Chakraborty in the lead. The songs of the film have been composed by Anupam Roy (Piku). Drishyam Films (Masaan, Dhanak) will release the film with English subtitles across the country and abroad.


Friday 8 July 2016

Living for cinema - DAY 856

Lightcube is an acclaimed collective of writers, designers, curators, filmmakers and storytellers all bound by a limitless curiosity for the cinema and its various, rich wonders. It exists as a means of discovery: of alternative cultures, stories, mythologies and ideas.If you become member of Lightcube, you gain subscription to film screenings, their magazine and more because at Lightcube cinema is a holistic enterprise.  A Lightcube Member not just watches films, but lives them.


Wednesday 6 July 2016

Haryaanvi becomes mainstream - DAY 855

Film Review: Sultan
Date: June 06 2016                           Director: Ali Abbas Zafar
Cast: Salman Khan, Anushka Sharma, Amit Sadh
Rating: 3 stars

In a small town of Haryana Sultan, son of a farmer prefers to runs an independent business with a friend. His real passion however is to chase kites and one day while in the process, he bumps into a courageous girl and loses his heart to Aarfa, a city girl and a state level wrestler.

To become worthy of Aarfa /Anushka Sharma Sultan/Salman Khan has to become a champion, which he does and soon they are happily married and Sultan on his way to become a gold medalist.

The first half of the film concentrates on the love story, the second half on the Boxing Ring. The premise is not very different from other films made on the same subject and the narrative follows the rise and fall and rise of the hero. What makes Sultan different is that the heroine is a sportswoman too and understands the complexities of the game.

What works about the film is the refreshing milieu, the Haryanvi dialect and the emotional drama between the protagonists. What doesn’t is the length/ 2 hours and 50 minutes and the pace of the film. It is repetitive and predictible too.

Salman Khan has given extensive interviews on the physical exertion entailed during the shooting. He rolls in the mud, chases trains, leaps over walls, cycles, jogs, punches, gets punched, lifts weights, bricks and wrestlers.

The heartbeat of Sultan – literally and metaphorically is the tantalizing Anushka Sharma. Confident and restrained Anushka proves that less is more.

Bhawana Somaaya/ @bhawanasomaaya


Friday 1 July 2016

Story of Sahibjaan - DAY 854

Film: Pakeezah (1972)                                             
Producer/ Director: Kamal Amrohi
Cast: Meena Kumari ,Ashok Kumar ,Raaj Kumar

The story opens on the dance floor. In between a flickering orange flame and a red chandelier looming large into the frame, a dancer swirls in a flowing dress as the narrator in chaste Urdu recounts the story of courtesan Nargis/ Meena Kumari, who makes the tactical error of falling in love. Shahabudin/ Ashok Kumar rescues Nargis from the kotha but is unable to oppose his father who will not accept her as family. She flees to a graveyard in anguish and dies heartbroken after giving birth to a baby girl who is rescued by her aunt and groomed to become a bewitching courtesan, Sahibjaan.

It was a story of the kotha v/s kothi or rather the courtesan v/s the feudal lord. While both lived in sprawling mansions with large families, the home of the feudal lords in this case Ashok Kumar/ Raaj Kumar was a respectable kothi where as the dwelling place of the courtesan/ Meena Kumari was a kotha. The kotha women painted their faces, hands and feet, shampooed their hair in scented ponds, slept on large fragrant beds with frilled pillow covers often hiding secrets and guarded by transparent, musical curtains. In the evening, they dressed and danced on embroidered carpets, accompanied by musicians and surrounded by lanterns. The courtyard blossomed with colorful fountains every time a guest arrived inside the porch riding a horse carriage. The nautch girls had a life before dusk and Pakeezah gave us a glimpse into the bonhomie where they bonded over fun and mischief, borrowed jewels and shared dark secrets.

Unlike the kotha the women in kothis had no voice and moved freely only when the patriarch was away. The feudal lord/ Sapru and his large family spanning three generations ate together sitting in a large circle and slept in common space separated by beds and curtains. The only thing common between the two worlds is tehzeeb and director Kamal Amrohi portrays the diversity in the concluding scene where the two worlds come together in a wedding and a funeral and where Nawabjaan/ Veena breaks down in dignity Sapru full of remorse mourns in silence!

Pakeezah is associated with its poetry and melody. The haunting background score of maestro Naushad Ali and Ibrahim and poetry of Majrooh Sultanpuri, Kaifi Azmi, Kaifi Bhopali and Kamal Amrohi composed in the music of Ghulam Mohmad are songs for a lifetime. A team of choreographers came together to ensure that every dance was distinctly different so while ‘Inhi logo ne…’ and ‘Thade rahiyyo…’ by Lachu Mahrajj concentrates on abhinaya, Gauri Shankar’s ‘Chalte chalte…’ emphasizes on footwork and ‘Aaj hum apni duaaon…’ on pherras essential part of Kathak dance form. Meena Kumari even though grossly overweight and untrained in classical dance through intricate mudras and mercurial expressions added navrasas in her role as a seductress to a mehfil of admirers.

When Sahibjaan dressed in ornate costume walks with ringing anklets into Gulabi Mahal and settles majestically, your heart misses a beat.  The story travels two eras and both immortalized by love letters. The first, written by Nargis to Shahabuddin/ Ashok Kumar on her death bed and soaked in tears, reaches Ashok Kumar 17 years later. The second written by Salim/ Raj Kumar after he invades a train compartment and is enamored by the sleeping Sahebjaan and her beautiful feet. The boat ride ferrying the two on a shimmering lake with ‘Chalo dil dar chalo…’ is the most romantic moment in the film.

The whistling, chugging train is a recurrent motif piercing through dramatic moments in the film. Director Kamal Amrohi transforms every frame into a painting. The film was shot in times when real animals/ birds were used and no activists raised objections. The story made references to cities and singers like Gauhar Jaan and no court cases were registered. The heroine wore real jewellery and no brands claimed credit.  Revisiting Pakeezah you realize where Sanjay Leela Bhansali and Rekha find their muse as a filmmaker and as an actor.

Bhawana Somaaya/ Tweets @bhawanasomaaya