Monday, November 30, 2015

Is India’s chance of winning the ‘Oscar Award’ bright?

It seems India’s chances of winning the prestigious Oscar Award this year is quite bright and India is set to break the jinx!

From eminent national and internationally filmmaker Shekhar Kapur to International film experts to rave reviews India’s official entry to Oscar Chaitanya Tamhane’s Marathi film COURT is creating a buzz around the globe. 

In an interview Shekhar Kapur candidly said, “I have not seen a movie like COURT in over 20 years. It is a stunning film and reminds of the kind of cinema the great legendary filmmaker Satyajit Ray. He added, “Kudos to film director Chaitanya Tamhane for such a cinematic power”.

What is interesting is that besides applause from filmmaker Shekhar Kapur and a rich haul of awards the film is creating a buzz in International media too. International movie critics have written encouraging reviews in esteemed news papers like The New York Times, The New Yorker and Indiewire. 

Besides this COURT film producer Vivek Gomber is leaving no stone unturned to win the Oscar. He is following Aamir Khan’s technique of creating awareness through advertisements and engaging Oscar jury in watching the movie. Readers may be aware Aamir Khan’s LAGAAN had succeeded in reaching the top five films slot in the Best Film Foreign Category. 

Briefing media Vivek Gomber said, “I am aware I do not have the kind of budget that Mr. Aamir Khan had but nevertheless I have invested a pretty decent investment and I am lucky to hire the most reputed publicist Joshua Jason from LA to promote the film. He is so popular that almost 80% producers vie for him.” 

The US distributor of COURT, Ms Nancy Gerstman, co-president and co-founder of the New York-based distribution company Zeitgeist Films is too confident about the film creating a buzz at the Oscars! 

And last but not the least the film is getting a very good support from prominent International filmmakers, whose appreciation will gave a boost for the film to win the Oscar.

For instance eminent Filmmaker Joshua Oppenheimer of THE ACT OF KILLING FAME, impressed by the film has tweeted, “India’s Oscar entry, COURT by Chaitanya Tamhane, is a masterpiece - a work of deepest empathy, sublime in its construction”.

Amitabh Bachchan’s poignant tale of his struggling days!

Recently Star of Millennium Amitabh Bachchan praised the miraculous raise of Nawazuddin Siddiqui quoting that in Bollywood talent has always been rewarded; though late. 

True indeed because history is packed with several examples about how talented actors like Sanjeev Kumar, Shatruganj Sinha, Jeetendra, Dharmendra had to struggle tooth and nail but ultimately their talent was recognized and they achieved stardom. 

In the 70’s when new wave cinema made inroads into Bollywood actors like Naseeruddin Shah, Om Puri, Amol Palekar etc, who were not so handsome like the Chocolate Heroes of the 60’s; they all got their big ticket to stardom purely on their skill and histrionics. 

In fact our very own ‘Superstar’ Amitabh Bachchan, is one of the examples because when he landed in Mumbai in the late 60’s aspiring to be an actor he was ridiculed by film producers and made fun of his extraordinary height and lean body.

In fact in an interview when Amitabh Bachchan had gained stardom he had shared a poignant tale about his struggling days. He narrated how he was humiliated and how after stardom suddenly the same film industry that cursed him began singing glory of him. 

Recalling his depressing days in Mumbai Amitabh Bachchan said, “I read an advertisement in Screen (Popular Cinema mouth piece of Indian Express Group) about a film producer looking for new comers. Hence I went to his office but every day I was asked to come the next day.”

He added, “Like a devoted devotee I would frequent his office daily only to be sent back. But one day the receptionist felt pity on me and asked me to wait. From 10 a.m. to 6 a.m. I waited patiently, when the office was about to be closed the receptionist request the film producer to meet me hence he obliged.”

“The movement I entered the film producers cabin, he looked at me and burst into laughter. Ridiculing my height and lean body he said, ‘Have you ever seen yourself in mirror! How dare you dream of becoming a hero! Go back to Uttar Pradesh and stop day dreaming of becoming a hero!,” Bachchan reminisced. 

Amitabh Bachchan did not reveal the name of the film producer but said that after he became a star the same producer apologized to him and with folded hands urged him to work in his film, Bachchan like a humble human being obliged and worked in his film!!!

Saturday, November 28, 2015

BAAHUBALI and SRIMANTHUDU clash at the First IIFA Utsavam!

After creating box office sensations both Prabhas’s tour de force BAAHUBALI and Mahesh Babu’s super hit SRIMANTHUDU are set to shine at the much awaited First ever International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) Utsavam to be held on 4th, 5th and 6th of December, 2015 at Gachibowli Outdoor Stadium, Hyderabad.

The IIFA Utsavam, styled on the lines of Hollywood’s Academy Awards (Oscar Award) is being regarded as one of India’s Magnum Opus Cinema event honoring exclusively South Indian Cinema i.e. the gigantic South Film Industry viz. The Tamil, the Telugu, the Malayalam and the Kannada Film Industry!

It seems the jury will have a tough time as both the films have bagged numerous nominations to be precise BAAHUBALI (Telugu Version) has bagged 14 while SRIMANTHUDU has bagged 11 nominations. The Tamil version of BAAHUBALI is also in the race with 11 nominations!

What is interesting is that both BAAHUBALI and SRIMANTHUDU are having stiff competition in the top 4 popular awards that includes Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Picture and Best Director.

Among Malayalam films, Prithviraj’s ENNU NINTE MOIDEEN got 14 nominations and PREMAM getting 9 nominations. In Kannada Film Industry Krishna LEELA takes the lead with 13 nominations followed by RANGITARANGA with 11 nominations.

The award categories include best film, director, actor, actress, supporting actor, supporting actress, actor in negative role, comedian, lyricist, music director, singer- both male and female.

South Cinema’s ace star Kamal Haasan has applauded the initiative taken by the International Indian Film Academy to help build the outreach of film industries across India. In a statement he said, “It is great to see an endeavour such as IIFA Utsavam to help give our cinema maximum exposure to audiences and media around the world.”

Friday, November 27, 2015

Ranbir Kapoor’s fate in doldrums as TAMASHA opens to Mixed Response!

Ranbir Kapoor and Deepika Padukone starrer TAMASHA opened across 2100 screens across the country to a ‘mixed response’ thus raising doubts will the movie be able to break the jinx of Bollywood star Ranbir Kapoor!

Regarded as the ‘Make or Break’ movie for Ranbir Kapoor, after his three consecutive debacles BESHARAM (2013), ROY (2015) and BOMBAY VELVET (2015) the movie has taken off to a decent start with the opening day collecting modest Rs 15crore but has failed to gross Rs 20-25 crores on the opening day as per trade pundits prediction.

Nevertheless with film critics applauding the film and giving rave reviews (rating 3.5 out of 5) and with word of mouth publicity the movie is bound to pick up.

Another plus point for the movie is that it is the solo release and with the magic of Salman Khan –Sonam Kapoor starrer PREM RATAN DHAN PAYO losing its shine after two weeks of uninterrupted run at the box office, TAMASHA has the golden opportunity to cash on and set the box office ringing.

In addition the movie being Ranbir Kapoor and Deepika Padukone combination that earlier broke box office records in their previous film YEH JAWAANI HAI DEEWANI there is a curiosity among movie buffs to watch the duo on big screen. Further the Imtiaz Ali-Ranbir Kapoor combination that created box office history with ROCKSTAR is another factor for film buffs to throng cinema halls.

However on the negative side trade analyst believe mixed reviews along with poor advance bookings imply that TAMASHA despite posting decent opening day figures will witness a drop in collections as the weekend progresses.

Another drawback is that TAMASHA like earlier Imtiaz Ali films focuses on multiples crowds hence it may not be able to create a buzz at single screen and interior of India.

Thus how the movie fares on the weekend will decide the fate of Ranbir Kapoor till now his fate is in doldrums!

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Rs 1 Lakh award to ‘Slap’ Aamir Khan…Isn’t this the height of Intolerance in India?

Ever since Aamir Khan spoke his heart out on the growing intolerance in India he has become a butt of criticism. After outrageous remarks, labeling him of being Anti-Indian, protests outside his house, burning of his effigies; the latest in the series is the appalling announcement of Rs 1 lakh award to anybody who dares to slap Aamir Khan!!! 

Of course the award is announced by none other but the radical Hindu outfit Shiv Sena, an ally of ruling BJP in Maharashtra, who is known for being frontrunner in trouncing the image of any Muslim celebrity mired in any controversy. 

Interestingly not long ago renowned an ndian historian, Romila Thapar peeved at growing intolerance in India had made a sensational remark condemning extremist group and boldly targeted politicians for pampering these extremist forces to create disharmony in the country.

In her remark she bravely lambasted, “We are now a society that fears the terror of extremist groups. They are terrorists, their function is to evoke terror and spread fear in various communities by killing and threatening people, while their patrons in mainstream politics protect them.”

The statement is really daring as it openly calls the extremist forces as ‘Terrorists’ and clearly declares India as ‘society of fear’! 

But what is worth underling is that despite such an audacious statement Romila Thapar went sought free, while poor Aamir Khan, who did not even talk of intolerance nor used the word 'religion' became target of being Anti-Indian and now rewards are being announced to slap him!!! 

Further what is perplexing is that on one hand the BJP and its allies deny the existence of intolerance in India; on the other hand, daily an instance of growing instance crops up and becomes a heated debate on electronic media and print. Open any newspaper or switch any news channel and one is subjected to abysmal debates on increasing radicalism and declining secularism. 

Indeed the situation is worth pondering and with the ugly Aamir Khan’s episode and no action being taken against such extremist forces it appears all efforts of Prime Minister Narendra Modi is going in drain. 

If the fringe forces of the BJP allies keeps hijacking the secularism of the country than how can foreign nationals invest in a country that is intolerant? 

When the nation is still fighting communal rivalry and finding solace in petite matters like humiliating iconic figures like Aamir Khan than how do we expect India to compete with developed countries???

Aamir Khan’s female fan could not bear her heartthrob’s humiliation; commits suicide!!!

The nation may be condemning Bollywood superstar Aamir Khan for his remark on growing intolerance in India and his alleged statement regarding leaving the country but a female fan of Aamir Khan has proved that Aamir Khan is still their heartthrob! 

Though it may come as a stunner but it is a fact that a woman fan of Aamir Khan has sacrificed her life for the actor after being peeved by the nation’s humiliation and disgrace meted out to her favorite superstar, Aamir Khan! 

According to reports the bizarre incident happened in Jabalpur, (Madhya Pradesh), where a couple got engaged in a heated argument over Aamir Khan's stance on the growing intolerance in India. 

The husband mocked Aamir Khan for leaving the country but alas his scorn for the superstar was taken seriously by his wife, an ardent fan of Aamir Khan. She was so peeved by the contempt of her favored actor that in anger she committed suicide by consuming poison!!!

According to Kotwali police station inspector Praful Shrivastava, the deceased Sonal Pandey, 30, is a resident of Lahri Apartments in Jabalpur town. Briefing media about the tragic incident he said, “Sonal Pandey and her husband Mayank were discussing about the newspaper reports about Aamir Khan alleging to leave India due to growing intolerance.”

He added, “The discussion slowly turned into a heated exchange of verbal brawls when Mayank ridiculed Aamir Khan of being a coward and leaving the country on his wife’s advice! Sonam was infuriated at the humiliation of his dear actor and in sheer fury she ran upstairs and locked herself inside a room”

Initially Mayank did not take her wife’s action seriously but when she began screaming for help Mayank rushed to her rescue and found her vomiting vigorously. He rushed her to nearby hospital but doctors could not save her as she had consumed heavy dose of poison. 

The incident may be hard to believe but this is India where people make temples for their superstar and even lie down their life for their pride! While on the other hand they are ready to even kill their favorite stars on being incited by vested political leaders!

Friday, November 20, 2015

Shabana Azmi takes a jibe at Censor Board chief Pahlaj Nihalani

The recent remark by eminent actress Shabana Azmi alleging that the kiss scene trimmed in the recent James Bond movie SPECTRE is arbitrary has once again raised the question about the competency of censor board members. 

Shabana Azmi made this remake during the ongoing ‘Women In The World’ summit when she was asked to comment about the status of censorship in India.

Taking a jibe at the Censor Board chief Pahlaj Nihalani, Shabana Azim said, “Our very honourable chief of the board of film certification has recently ordered an arbitrary cut in the length of a kiss scene in James Bond film SPECTRE from its actual length to half its length, without consultation of the members.”

Mocking at the decision Shabana said, “Pahlaj Nihalani thinks 50 seconds is enough to watch a kissing scene. I don’t understand? What is the right length? If you have objection with a particular scene, simple delete it. What is the logic in showing the half baked scene?” 

Recalling her bold film FIRE, which portrayed lesbian love relation and had a passionate kiss between her and Nandita Das she said, “Despite a bold subject of love relation between same sexes my film FIRE was released with a single cut because censor board in those days understood the nuance of the scene and they just did not arbitrarily trimmed the movie.” 

Besides Shabana Azmi, there is a strong dissent against Censor Board chief Pahlaj Nihalani and his post seems threatened!

Music legend Ilaiyaraaja uses IFFI’s platform to urge government to make music compulsory in schools!

maestro Ilaiyaraaja, who was conferred the 'Centenary Award for Indian Personality of the Year' for his outstanding contribution to the music industry at the opening ceremony of the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) in Goa on Friday in his humble request has urged the government to make ‘Music’ as a compulsory subject both in schools and colleges. 

While receiving the award from the hands of Information and Broadcasting Minister Arun Jaitley and Bollywood actor Anil Kapoor, a simple down to earth, Ilaiyaraaja on the occasion said, “I know it is not the right place to ask something. But I still want to go ahead and ask the government to do something. I want them to make music compulsory in schools and colleges."

It may be noted that this not the first time when Ilaiyaraaja has opened his heart about making Music compulsory in schools, he has been advocating this since past many years because he believes the simple and easy solution to the growing religious intolerance and violence and terrorism is Music. 

In an interview he had once said, “Music alone has the power to bring down violence. It discourages the wandering mind and helps in focusing one’s thoughts.” 

Ilaiyaraaja plea reminds me of the great Maestro Ali Akbar Khan, who was a Master of playing Sarod and admired as ‘National Living Treasure’ in India.

In an interview he had said, “My father learned from a great teacher, and we always keep the traditional thing – from father to son, son to grandson, teacher to student – like that. What my father learned, I don’t want that to die. It must spread all over the world!" 

Like Maestro Ali Akbar Khan, Music Maestro Ilaiyaraaja, who has acquired immense knowledge does not wish his treasure of music to die with him hence he has rightly made an appeal to the government to make Music a part of the curriculum in school and colleges so that like the literary genius like William Shakespeare, Munshi Premchand etc Music also becomes immortal and musical stalwarts like Naushad, Pandith Ravi Shanker, etc and their precious musical knowledge be explored by the coming generations!

Will Sajid Nadiadwala’s ‘Midas Touch’ break Ranbir Kapoor jinx?

Ranbir Kapoor is quite nervous at the release of his forthcoming film TAMASHA. He has publicly confessed, “There's a sense of insecurity and I don't know what's happening with my career.”

Though Ranbir Kapoor may be going through a lean phase with three films BESHARAM, ROY and BOMBAY VELEVT bombing at the box office but Sajid Nadiadwala the producer of TAMASHA is going great guns with 10 movies in a row being super hit. One wonders will the golden luck of Sajid help in breaking the jinx of Ranbir Kapoor’s failure?

It may be noted that like Ranbir Kapoor, Sajid Nadiadwala too was in a tight corner because after the mega hit films JUDWAA and MUJHSE SHAADI KAROGI both staring Salman Khan, Sajid Nadiadwala was bogged down by a lean phase with two films HAR DIL JO PYAR KAREGA (2000) and JAAN-E-MANN (2006) failing at the box office.

But as the saying goes – ‘After dusk there is a dawn’ thus soon Sajid’s nightmare was over and with HEYY BABYY (2007) his career got a major boost. Since then he has been giving hit after hits HOUSEFULL , HOUSEFULL 2, ANJAANA ANJAANI, HIGHWAY, HEROPANTI, 2 STATES, KICK, PHANTOM are few examples. 

It may be remembered that his last release PHANTOM proved a saving grace for Saif Ali Khan and brought him out of the jinx that had plagued his career since 2013. Remember his string of flops GO GOA GONE, BULLETT RAJA, HUMSHAKALS, HAPPY ENDING, DOLLY KI DOLI .

In addition Sajid Nadiadwala’s ‘Midas Touch’ also brought a break to the jinx of brilliant director Siddharth Anand. After three back to back flop films SALAAM NAMASTE, TA RA RUM PUM and BACHNA AE HASEENO, Siddharth Anand was able to deliver a hit with Sajid Nadiadwala produced film ANJAANA ANJAANI. 

Let’s hope Sajid Nadiadwala’s golden luck break Ranbir Kapoor jinx as it did for Saif Ali Khan!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Ranbir Kapoor must stop making ‘Tamasha’ and take a lesson from the fighting spirit of Amitabh Bachchan!

Bollywood heartthrob Ranbir Kapoor’s latest statement claiming that after the failure of his last three films viz. BESHARAM, ROY and BOMBAY VELVET, he is under pressure and worried about the success of TAMASHA looks mechanical and a marketing gimmick to garner sympathy from his fans. 

History is packed with many examples when even great actors like Dilip Kumar, Rajesh Khanna, Amitabh Bachchan have gone through lean phases in their careers but they never begged for a hit. Instead they have slogged hard and retuned with a bang! 

Just take the example of Star of Millennium Amitabh Bachchan, who has seen not one or two lean phases in his career but witnessed three rough phases and after each downfall he came back with a vengeance.

In the late 60’s after his debut film SAAT HINDUSTANI, when he won the National Award for the ‘Outstanding Discovery of the Year’ and later with ANAND, which fetched him his first ‘Filmfare Best Supporting Actor Award’ he was flooded with film offers. 

In the mad rush to mint money he signed whichever film that came his way, without t thinking twice about its consequence. As a result he paid a heavy price for his folly as most of the films failed and a situation came when he had to pack his bag and leave Mumbai. 

But he was not the one to loss the battle so easily hence like a brave solider he continued his struggle and hit gold with ZANJEER, the movie that crowned him with the esteemed title of Superstar! 

In the 80’s when Bachchan was ruling the roost suddenly destiny played a cruel game and Amitabh suffered a near-fatal accident while shooting an action scene for Manmohan Desai's COOLIE at Bengaluru in 1982. 

The accident was so severe that in an interview Bachchan candidly disclosed that for a couple of minutes he was clinically dead but yet again he did not give up and like a phoenix he rose from the ashes.

After his voluntary retirement from Bollywood in the late 80’s after failures like GANGA JAMUNA SARASWATI, TOOFAN, JAADUGAR, MAIN AZAAD HOON etc Bachchhan made his comeback with his own company Amitabh Bachchan Corporation Ltd. (ABCL) but alas all the films like TERE MERE SAPNE, SAAT RANG KE SAPNE, MRITYUDAATA, MAJOR SAAB, AKS etc. produced were disaster. 

Amitabh Bachchan was under heavy debt but once again like a determined fighter he fought back and with Yash Chopra’s MOHABBATEIN he proved that fighters never lose battle and like his father Harivansh Rai 'Bachchan'’s poem… Koshish Karne walo ki kabhi haar nahi hoti…. he is a testimony that sincerity and hard work always succeeds. 

I think its high time Ranbir Kapoor stops making ‘Tamasha’ and takes a lesson from the fighting spirit of Amitabh Bachchan and learn to face the odds!!!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Is underworld Don Dawood Ibrahim’s son being brought up in Bengaluru?

It may come as a shock but if one is to believe former Delhi Police Commissioner Neeraj Kumar than according to his latest book ‘Dial D for Don’ notorious underworld don Dawood Ibrahim’s son born out of a Bollywood actress is secretly being brought up in Bengaluru, in India!!! 

Neeraj Kumar, who claims to have interviewed the Don three times, in his books makes mention about the clandestine affair of a Bollywood actress with Dawood and the couple had a son, who is presently being brought up by the actress’s sister in Bengaluru. While the books escapes from revealing the name of the actress yet it claims that the child born out of the wedlock of Dawood and the actress is 18 years.

Ever since the news has been leaked speculations are ripe that the actress in question must be Raj Kapoor discovery Mandakini, whom he introduced in his film RAM TERI GANGA MAILI (1985) when she was exactly 16 years.

After this she did one or two films which bombed at box office and was next seen with don in Dubai during cricket matches in Sharjah and rumor mills were abuzz about their relationship and reportedly of a son. 

But the question is - if Dawood must have married Mandakini even in 1990 and they must have had a son in 1992 / 1993 then the boy must be about 21 or 22 years and not 18. Hence the boy being brought up in Bengaluru is not of Mandakini but instead of some other unsung actress. 

Neeraj Kumar mentions in detail the lavish lifestyle of Dawood and his weakness for women in the book. He writes, “Dawood has a passion for sex and women. Every night he entertains himself partying with friends watching mujras (soirĂ©es musicales) and pays high sum for women (he prefers Asian women, usually virgins) to quench his sexual hunger.” 

Among his Mistress are many film actresses from Bollywood and Pakistan film industry the book claims.

Can Thala Ajith equal Thalaivar Rajinikanth?

The social media is abuzz with Thala Ajith’s Diwali release VEDALAM. The movie has broken all box office records and has earned a whopping Rs 50 Crore in Tamil Nadu alone in its first week!

In addition the movie is doing brisk business in International markets. What’s more with back to back hit in 2015 i.e. YENNAI ARINDHAAL and VEDALAM and a series of uninterrupted hits like ARRAMBAM (2013) and VEERAM (2014) Ajith fans on social media are so excited that many have began crowning him as the next Rajinikanth of Tamil Nadu cinema but the million dollar question is - Can any star ever come close to the charisma and allure of the great Thalaivar Rajinikanth?

True Thala Ajith is a dashing and handsome actor who during his long spell of 23 years in South Cinema has made a dint for himself and has won the hearts of millions of cinegoers but the fact remains that no matter how many hits films he may give, he can never touch the dizzy heights of popularity achieved by Thalaivar Rajinikanth

Reason is simple actors like Rajinikanth are born once in a blue moon. They are the choicest gift of Almighty to mankind hence they are ‘special’ and every action of there is backed by the Lord. Remember Rajinikanth’s hit film ARUNACHALAM dialogue "Andavan solran. Arunachalam seiran" (God commands, Arunachalam acts!) 

Like Rajinikanth history has witnessed few more exceptional actors like Sivaji Ganesan, N.T. Rama Rao, M.G.Ramachandran, Dr. Rajkumar, Kamal Haasan etc or down in Bollywood actors like Dilip Kumar, Raj Kapoor, Dev Anand, Sanjeev Kumar, Amitabh Bachchan etc. All these actors are one of their kind; who have no equals and shall never have an equal as they are all prodigies of Almighty God!

Thus whether it’s Ajith or Vijay none can ever equal the genius of Rajinikath - He is the ’King’ and shall remain the ‘King’!!!

How Saeed Jaffery’s dream of acting with legendary filmmaker Satyajit Ray was fulfilled!

LUNCHBOX actress Nimrat Kaur in her tweet has paid an excellent tribute to the gem of an actor Saeed Jaffery when she wrote - “Never met Mr Saeed Jaffrey outside of all the amazing men he brought alive on screen... a class actor. ‘Heavens’ are in great company today...”

Truly the ‘Heavens’ must have bowed down to Saeed Jaffery and spread a red carpet to welcome the legendary actor who gave ‘Asian’ actors respectability in the West and opened doors for others Asian actors to display their skill in the Western World of Art and Theatre.

Saeed Jaffrey, who began his tryst with Western Theater in the mid 50’s, is regarded as the ‘First Asian’ actors to make an impact in the West with his acting genius when he was accepted by the world renowned Shakespeare Company. Later he had the prestigious of performing at the Broadway Theatre, where he appeared in the 1958 adaptation of a PASSAGE TO INDIA.

Later the actor mesmerized the West working with celebrated Hollywood filmmakers like David Lean, Richard Attenborough, James Ivory, John Houston and brought pride to India by becoming the First Indian to receive the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for his contributions to drama, a rare feat achieved by an Indian.

In India he aspired to work with the legendary filmmaker Satyajit Ray and even communicated several times urging him to give an opportunity but Satyajit Ray was known for selecting ideal actors for his characters and when he made SHATRANJ KE KHILADI, he did gave him a chance.

Recalling the experience Saeed Jaffrey, in a candid confession once said, “I always cherished to work with Satyajit Ray, ever since I was bowled over by his Bengali classic film PATHER PANCHALI.”

He informs, “Once I happened to meet him in person at the Beirut Airport in 1972. Fortunately we shared the same Air India flight and I was delighted when he recognized me and applauded my work.”

“Seizing the golden opportunity I requested him to cast me in one of his films. He nodded but later there was no reply. I kept reminding him until four years later in 1976, one day, I was surprised to receive his call asking me to come to India. I was elated and rushed,” he recalls.

His performance of the royal Nawab opposite the great Sanjeev Kumar in the film SHATRANJ KE KHILADI won him rave reviews and even fetched him the prestigious Filmfare Best Supporting actor award.

After this it opened a flood gates of roles in Bollywood that ranged with top notch directors of Bollywood like Raj Kapoor (RAM TERI GANGA MAILI), Sai Paranjpye (CHASHME BUDDOOR), Shekhar Kapoor (MASOOM), Yash Chopra (MASHAAL), Ramesh Sippy (SAGAAR), Rakesh Roshan (KHUDGARZ) etc.

Raaga.Com pays our humble tribute to the actor par excellence and pray his soul rest in peace in Heaven!

Music video glorifying Narendra Modi by film censor chief Pahlaj Nihalani draws flaks

A music video Mera Desh Hai Mahan, Mera Desh Hai Jawan (My country is great and young) glorifying the achievements of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has drawn strong criticism from many film veterans and the society.

The video being played countrywide at cinema halls during interval of the Salman Khan’s hit FILM PREM RATAN DHAN PAYO is made by Chairperson of the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC), Pahlaj Nihalani and is looked upon by many as a mere flattery to appease Narendra Modi!

It may be noted that Pahlaj Nihalani is known to be a BJP and Narendra Modi ‘Bhakt’ (Devotee) and has been responsible for making the video Har Har Modi, Ghar Ghar Modi during the last year’s general election, which fetched Modi a thumping victory.

Hence his opponents allege due to his favor he was awarded the Chairperson post of the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) and now it is rumored that since BJP has lost shamelessly in Bihar and Delhi, hence Nihalani has yet again made a video to give a boost to Narendra Modi’s fading image and a thumps to BJP.

However the video is being dubbed as “an obscene form of flattery” by some within the film industry.

Eminent film wizard Shyam Benegal sarcastically flaking Chairperson of the CBFC, Pahlaj Nihalani said, “Isn’t the Information & Broadcasting Ministry supposed to take care of the publicity of the Prime Minister and the government? The censor board’s chairperson is doing that!” Mukesh Bhatt, filmmaker and President of the Film and Television Producers Guild of India too condemned the video. In his statement he said, “How blatant, obscene and jarring can this get? There has to be at least some sanctity of the chair a person holds.”

Amitabh Bachchan urges to take lessons from Indian cinema which has always preached communal harmony!

Tu hindu banega na musalmaan banegaa

insaan ki aulaad hai insaan banega

(You’ll become neither Hindu nor Muslim

You are the child of a human; you’ll become a human)

This song from Yash Chopra’s hit film DHOOL KA PHOOL captures the essence of Indian cinema, where religion, caste and hatred has no place and all live in harmony.

Amitabh Bachchan, who inaugurated the Kolkata International Film Festival (KIFF), in his speech, emphasized on this core value of Indian cinema, in connection to the growing intolerance in the country. He said, “Since the inception Indian cinema has preached communal harmony and brotherhood through its movies.”

He added, “Today when the nation has gone haywire and cultures are being questioned and prejudices against communities dividing the world I think it is important to take lessons of equality and cultural diversity from Indian movies.”

Recalling Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore’s poem ‘Where the Mind Is without Fear’ Bachchan called upon to remember the lines:

Where the world has not been broken up into fragments; By narrow domestic walls…. thus signifying that ‘Mother India’s love is unconditional for every citizen and holding together India’s diversity and the spirit of equality is our duty.”

Though the nation may have got carried away by the communal hatred speeches of fundamentalist leaders and politicians but Indian cinema has never lost its roots.

Be it Bollywood or regional cinema a look at Indian movies reveals that Indian filmmakers have always abided by Tagore’s vision of a united and secular India.

Hence the lead character in most films may be Hindu but he is always supported by a loyal friend, mostly a Muslim, who is ready to sacrifice his life for his Hindu friend.

Remember the devoted Pathan, Amjad Ali Khan (Played by Shah Rukh Khan) in Kamal Hassan’s HEY RAM (2000) who sacrifices his life to save Hindus on the eve of the Partition of India, 1947 or Sher Khan (Played by Pran) in ZANJEER (1973), who comes to the rescue of his friend Vijay (Amitabh Bachchan) or the emotional character of the blind Rahim Chacha (Played by A.K.Hangal), in SHOLAY (1975) who instead of shedding tears on the death of his young and only son calls upon the villagers to fight the dreaded dacoit Gabbar Singh.

In nutshell the nation really seeks to take lesson on communal harmony and brotherhood from films as suggested by Mr. Bachchan.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Open Letter to Kamal Haasan

Dear Kamal Haasan

I appreciate your anger against the gruesome Paris attack that killed 129; injured 352 and left 99 in critically serious condition. Your suggestion to adopt Gandhian policy of ‘Ahimsa’ to tackle terrorism is worth pondering.

Your tweet urging the citizens of the universe to seize the world from the archaic and bloody hands of politicians, who in their bid to fulfill their petite selfish goals seek solutions through war, is also commendable.

I am aware that you are a patriot and have great regards for the Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi and your suggestion of Ahimsa too seems right; looking at growing intolerant.

But what is amusing is that when a group of writers, filmmakers, Bollywood actors, historians and scientists adopted the Gandhian policy of protest against growing intolerance in India by surrendering their prestigious National Awards, Mr. Kamal Haasan, you criticized their mode of protest.

Condemning the 'Award Wapsi' protest you said, "Nothing will happen by returning awards as returning awards is a futile exercise."

Instead of retuning awards you emphasized to have a debate on intolerance.

But Mr. Kamal Haasan, every day we are bombarded with several debates on national TV and most of the debates that sound intellectual eventually reduce to shameful brawl and scuffle. And mind you same is the pitiable picture of debates in our ‘respected’ Lok Sabha!!!

What’s more Mr. Hassan, you talk of reviving Gandhian policy but what about people in India who are reviving Nathuram Godse, the man who shot died Mahatma Gandhi and openly claim Gandhi to be the cause behind division of India.

Munna Kumar Sharma, national general secretary, Hindu Mahasabha in a statement said, “Nathuram Godse had killed Mahatma Gandhi due to his involvement in partition of the country. Godse was worried that India would be divided into further more parts if Gandhi remains alive.”

On November 15, two Hindu Organizations viz. Akhil Bhartiya Hindu Mahasabha (ABHM) and its frontal organisation Vishwa Hindu Peeth celebrated Godse’ birthday as 'Balidan Divas' (Sacrifice Day). A havan was performed at 120 offices of Hindu Mahasabha in the entire country to glorify Godse’s killing of Mahatma Gandhi and label him as a hero.

In Addition a website titled "Nathuram Godse - The Real Forgotten Hero" was also launched on Sunday November 15, 2015.

With such an intolerant atmosphere do you think Gandhji’s Ahimsa will work???

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Ayushmann Khurrana extends support to theatre group

Sanjeev Kumar, Shabana Azmi, Nasseruddin Shah, Shah Ruk Khan… 

Wanna guess what is common in them? Well, besides being popular Bollywood actors all these stalwarts have began their careers from theatre. 

In fact besides these veterans many actors in Bollywood have their roots in theatre like Irrfan Khan, Manoj BajpaI, Om PurI, Rajpal Yadav etc. (The list is long) but the tragedy is that after success in Bollywood many of these actors in the mad rush to mint money desert theatre. This is probably the major reason why theatre, despite producing such versatile actors is still in doldrums and gasping for survival. 

Recently Bollywood actor Ayushmann Khurrana, who is riding high thanks to his hit films VICKY DONOR and DUM LAGA KE HAISHA has however come to the rescue of theatre.

In his little bit to give back to theatre he will seen supporting a theatre group in a TV reality show ‘Deal Or No Deal’ on & TV. The program is hosted by popular Bollywood and TV actor Ronit Roy. 

Briefing media about the reason why he has extended support to theatre group Thespo that organizes workshops and theatre fests across India, Ayushmann Khurrana said, “Today whatever I am I owe my success to theatre because I have developed my acting skills and nuances of an actor from theatre.”

He added, “Hence to return back to theatre I have played the game to donate all the money to the theatre group Thespo to support theatre since it is theatre that has nurtured me to grow as an actor.”

Should mainstream Bollywood films be included in film festivals?

HAPPY NEW YEAR, KICK, DHOOM 3, KRRISH 3, GABBAR IS BACK etc. are some of the typical Bollywood mainstream movies with ample does of romance, action, comedy and of course melodious music. Though these movies are the favorite of the masses and generate huge money at the box office but the fact is its makers feel a pinch when they are ignored at film festivals and the so called parallel cinema wins all the raves and laurels. 

Filmmaker Kabir Khan, who is known for making both hard hitting ‘art’ films like KABUL EXPRESS and equally powerful commercial hit films like BAJRANGI BHAIJAAN, feels that there should not be prejudice against mainstream cinema and commercially movies shouldn't be ignored at such film festivals.

Elated at the inclusion of his latest super hit commercial movie BAJRANGI BHAIJAAN both at the esteemed Busan International Film Festival in South Korea last month and now at the 46th edition of the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) in Goa, he said, “I strongly believe that when you are selecting movies for film festivals they definitely should be excellent films but I differ on the opinion that only parallel cinema should be welcomed while commercial cinema ignored.”

“I think today Bollywood is making really good cinema and the line between art cinema and commercial cinema is fast blurring. Hence I don't think there should be prejudice against mainstream cinema,” he added. 

True indeed! A look at some of the movies made in recent years like 3 IDIOTS, BHAAG MILKHA BHAAG, BARFI, VICKY DONOR, KAHAANI, ROCKSTAR, ZINDAGI NA MILEGI DOBARA, GANGS OF WASSEYPUR, QUEEN, BAAHUBALI - THE BEGINNING, PIKU etc. have prove beyond doubt that Indian cinema is fast reinventing and young filmmakers like Anurag Kashyap, Rajkumar Hirani, Kabir Khan, Anurag Basu, Imtiaz Ali, Vikas Bahl, Shoojit Sircar, Sujoy Ghosh, Zoya Akhtar, S.S.Rajamouli etc. are taking Indian cinema to dizzy heights. 

That’s the reason the Hollywood cinema, considered as the ‘Mecca of Cinema’ too is going gaga over Indian cinema. 

Recently Hollywood superstar Daniel Craig, the famous spy in James Bond series admitted that he loves the merriment, music and thrill of Bollywood. He said, “Yes! I have watched Bollywood movies and they are fabulous. The exuberance, the life, the celebration, which Bollywood movies showcase, that’s what movies are about really and that is exactly what we present in Bond movie!”

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Death threat to Girish Karnad adds fuel to growing intolerance!

With the nation burning on the topic of growing intolerance; the recent death threat to eminent actor / filmmaker and noted Jnanpith awardee Girish Karnad for his earnest admiration of Mysore ruler Tipu Sultan has yet again proved that the nation is surely growing intolerant! It has also raised questions on the ‘Freedom of Speech and Expressions’ of an individual being suffocated in a democratic country like India. 

What is interesting is that before singing glory of ‘Tiger of Mysore’, Tipu Sultan, Girish Karnad was sure that his remark would spark a row. Hence addressing at the Karnataka government’s organised function to mark the birth anniversary of Tipu Sultan, Girish Karnad said, "I'm aware what I'm saying now will be debated.”

Comparing Tipu Sultan with other legendary rulers and freedom fighters of India, Karnad in his bold speech said, “Tipu Sultan’s contribution to Karnataka is as immense as what was Shivaji Maharaj’s contribution to Maharashtra, Raja Ram Mohan Roy’s to Bengal, or Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru to Uttar Pradesh. Likewise Tipu Sultan was to Karnataka.” 

Peeved at history being distorted he added, “I feel that if Tipu Sultan was a Hindu and not Muslim he would have attained the position in Karnataka that Shivaji Maharaj enjoys in Maharashtra and just as the Mumbai airport is named after Shivaji Maharaj, then Bengaluru International Airport at Devanahalli would have been named after Tipu Sultan instead of Kempegowda as the latter was not a freedom fighter.” 

As expected his speech did go down well with BJP, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and other right wing Hindu groups. 

Two days after the ugly controversy Girish Karnad, in an interview to a national magazine, lamented that Freedom of Expression is being suffocated today.

He mourned, “Every writer must have a right to express himself, that's all. I have not done any physical harm to anyone. A person, who likes or dislikes Tipu, has the right to celebrate him or attack him, as they like.” 

Besides death threats to Girish Karnad, the Tipu Sultan Jayanti also witnessed violence in several parts of Karnataka against the celebrations. In Madikeri, two people also died in violent clashes. 

I hope Mr. Arun Jaitley and his like in the BJP would now at least not asset - "Where is intolerance? And make comments like “This country has never been and will never be intolerant."

Salman Khan’s PREM RATAN DHAN PAYO gets Thumps - Up from film buffs and critics alike

Salman Khan and Sooraj Barjatya’s Jodi is known for breaking box office records. Remember MAINE PYAR KIYA, (1989); HUM AAPKE HAIN KOUN..! (1994); HUM SAATH SAATH HAIN (1999). Hence when the Jodi came together after 16 years in PREM RATAN DHAN PAYO (2015) there was lot of expectations but as expected yet again the duo have done a great work as the movie has been declared a hit by both the film buffs and the critics alike. 

According to latest reports the opening day collection of the movie has got a bumper opening not only in India but at the overseas box office as well. 

Trade pundits claim that the movie has overshadowed Salman Khan’s previous hits films like KICK and BAJRANGI BHAIJAAN. And that not all the movie has also moved ahead of the other two Khan i.e. Shah Rukh Khan’s HAPPY NEW YEAR and Aamir Khan’s PK. The movie registered more than 90% occupancy in several theatres in India on the first day morning shows and increased to 100% percent as the day progressed.

Kamal Gianchandani, CEO, PVR Pictures Ltd, said, “The movie has done excellent business due to several factors like it has no competition as it is a solo release. Secondly it is appealing to the family audience as it is a clean film and parents are flocking cinema halls with their children and relatives on occasion of festival season. And lastly but not the least the hiked ticket rates have played a key difference in making PREM RATAN DHAN PAYO stay ahead of HAPPY NEW YEAR and PK.” 

Manoj Desai, exhibitor and executive director of Mumbai’s chain of cinema halls said, “PREM RATAN DHAN PAYO has opened to good response. All shows are houseful and even the advance booking for the weekend is very strong."

He added, “The film may prove a bigger hit than SRK HAPPY NEW YEAR because it has higher number of screen count compared to HAPPY NEW YEAR that released last year on Diwali. The movie has been released in over 4,500 screens in India and over 1,100 screens in the international market.” 

As regards film critics the movie has fetched 3.5 rating from many top notch film critics of India, who have termed it as an excellent family entertainer reviewing the good old tradition of Rajshri films.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Kajol’s stunning looks in DILWALE worked on the lines to enhance the young looks for Rajinikanth?

The DILWALE trailer staring Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol has generated a mixed response among the viewers. While some are going gaga over the spectacular eye catching locations and the incredible Jodi of SRK and Kajol, other feel the trailer is predictable like other Rohit Shetty films with pinch of romance, action, comedy and the usual cars blasting in air. 

Though opinions are divided over the trailer but there is one thigh that is unanimous and that is the stunning look of Kajol, who is looking charming and gorgeous. Though the actress is over 40 and a mother yet she looks stunningly beautiful.

One wonders is it really her grace or is it the cunning camera work and make- up tricks as employed to enhance the young looks for South Superstar Rajinikanth? 

According to make-up artiste R Sundaramurti, who styled Rajinikanth in his debut film APOORVA RAGANGAL (1975) and worked with him until CHANDRAMUKHI (2005) Rajinikanth's dusky complexion has helped an important feature in keeping him `wrinkle free' and ageless! 

In an interview he said, “I have observed that fair-skinned actors age faster. The creases and wrinkles show faster and are more pronounced. But in case of dark skin people, even if the wrinkles appear they can be carefully ironed out with a little clever costume design.” 

Now we know the secret behind the glowing look of Kajol because since she is also dark complexion like Rajinikanth hence the make-up artist could easily hide her age and made her look gorgeous and bewitching.