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Saturday, March 14, 2009

'Gulaal': The Revolution Continues

Anurag Kashyap is a filmmaker who loves to provoke, and is too ambitious, however his ambition stems from creativity as well as his characteristic dynamism. He might not always fully realize his ambition on screen - yet he tries, relentlessly, and it is this very effort which makes us viewers sit up, and take note. We can never afford to be indifferent, we can never fail to respond to his kind of cinema!
'Gulaal' is a revolution, not so much because it has political elements dramatically placated in the narrative, but more for the manner in which Anurag Kashyap attempts to turn the age-old cinematic conventions on their head! He makes full use of the colors, the sights, the sounds, the locales, the characters, the realistic backdrop and the surreal images, and gets us involved in the violence-induced potpourri.
In his own admission, the director has said that he had been much angry and frustrated when his film 'Paanch' got banned! It was before 'Black Friday', and he wanted to say a lot at that time. The new states of Uttaranchal and Jharkhand were formed. The 27th and 28th state. He was upset as to why these new states were being formed. At that time, he was introduced to a part time model, Raja Chaudhary, who had written a story on college politics, which Anurag found to be 'a nice story but nothing more' and that eventually, after much research & meat being worked into it, 'Gulaal' was conceived. First it was supposed to be produced by Michael Arrakal, but after a small schedule, the film got shelved. He went on to make 'Black Friday' after that. Jhamu Sughand then stepped in to produce 'Gulaal' as the release of 'Black Friday' was stalled by the Court. However, the troubles weren't over; a new set of bottlenecks cropped up. 'Gulaal' was stopped midway alongwith 'Johnny Gaddar' and 'Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na', the two other films of Jhamu. The former was picked up by Adlabs and the latter by Aamir Khan. Nobody picked up 'Gulaal' because it lacked saleable names. Kashyap made 'No Smoking', 'Return Of Hanuman' and 'Dev.D'. Finally it was Zee Motion Pictures that bought the project and decided to complete and release it. 'Gulaal' now graces the screens just as Holi - the festival of colors - has just wrapped up, and as the success and acclaim are still being showered on Kashyap's 'Dev. D' that is still enjoying a good run at the city plexes.
'Gulaal' stars Raj Singh Choudhary, Jesse Randhawa, Abhimanyu Singh, Kay Kay Menon, Aditya Srivastav, Mahie Gill, Deepak Dobriyal, Ayesha Mohan, Piyush Mishra and Pankaj Jha. The music & lyrics are by Piyush Mishra; Editing: Aarti Bajaj; Art direction: Wasiq Khan; Cinematography: Rajiv Ravi. I found it to be aptly continuing the revolution that Anurag Kashyap has started as he emblazons the screens with the powerful cinematic vehicles, and cements his position in Bollywood as a maverick scriptwriter-cum-director.

Happy 44th Birthday, Aamir!!!!

Aamir Khan, the most consummate lead actor in Hindi films today, never fails to create news and sometimes has had immense fan following all through. He has broken grounds with his films in the recent times, and some of his films have undoubtedly become trendsetters among the masses, while some of them will always remain the moot-point in the serious discussions on films. On this day, this star-actor turns a year older, and I salute his prowess & his proficiency!

Recently, Aamir Khan has been declared as the most powerful man in the Mumbai film industry, but Aamir, being Aamir, has commented:
“I am not really interested in power. I think it's important to know what one can really do with the power. According to me, power is how one uses it. I can be very powerful but if I can't use it for any good or can't contribute to the industry then I am actually powerless. I would like to use my power by working with new directors, giving new actors to the industry and making experimental films.” [Filmfare Power List, for the year gone by.]

Aamir loves to be the chameleon, playing diverse characters, in diverse get-ups, and here's doffing our hats to his latest avatar as an elderly Sardarji, for the Tata-Sky commercial.

Happy Birthday, Aamir! May all your dreams come true..... here's wishing you all the best for all your future endeavours!

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[pics courtesy: indiatimes.com, google.com, Tata Sky, Titan Watches]

Friday, March 06, 2009

Vivek: The Fresh Face of Bangla Cinema

Vivek Trivedi is one of the new kids on the Bangla mainstream cinema scene, and one thing is certain - he is here to stay! Here is a heart-to-heart chat that the young hero had with me, and - for the first time on my blog - I am reproducing a candid conversation with a celebrity!!!!

Hi Vivek, I am so glad that you have taken time out from your busy schedule to have this chat with me. First, I would like to know what keeps you busy these days. Your first film 'Prem' had released almost a couple a of years back, right?

Vivek: Ya, after 'Prem', that was released in May, 2007, I did a few more films but sadly only one more got released.

Which one was that?

It was called 'Bhalobashar Dibbi', and it was directed by Milan Bhowmik. It starred Roopa Ganguly, Mukesh Khanna in the cast too. The other films got stuck for several reasons. However, I am expecting the release of a slew of films in the months to come.

Wow! That's great news! You must be too busy with the shoots of late...

Vivek: Ya, you can say so. I am excited about the new films that I have been currently working on. Especially, 'Ronnie Aar Bonnie', 'Phire Pete Chaai'

Besides, shooting for the films, you have also been busy with shows...

Vivek: Yes, in winter - when it is supposed to be the peak season for us performers - we have to tour the rural districts. The small townships and the suburban centres are where the filmstars from Tollygunge are really adored.

The stage shows must be really hectic, aren't they?

Vivek: Yes, the travelling can be termed hectic, performing in these live shows isn't such a big problem though.

Is your eldest sister, Priyanka, who is a major draw for the audience in Bengal, also a part of the same touring troupe?

Vivek: Right. There's the Priyanka-Jeet duo, one of the bet loved pairs post-'Saathi', and I am paired with Shreya, who was my co-star in my debut film.

Okay, let me ask you something that is uppermost in my mind... what do you think of the so-called resurgence of Bangla cinema? Many of the Bangla films have had great success in the recent few years, do you feel buoyant?

Vivek: The entire scenario, thankfully, has been changing for the better. In fact, I consider 'Saathi' to be a major turnaround for Bangla commercial cinema. The general look of the films has improved by several notches. The scale of the films, their mounting and the production values are high. The films in spite of catering to the tastes of the regional audience are being given a polish and an edge that had been non-existent a few years back.

The makers, and even the stars, seem more confident when it comes to the style quotient booming up; what do you say?

Vivek: The song sequences of quite a few Bangla films are being shot overseas nowadays, be it in Singapore, Malayasia or other global scenic locales. So, I would agree that the things definitely look promising.

And what about the schism between the mainstream films and the so-called parallel or alternative cinema?

Vivek: See, I have till now been associated with only the mainstream or commercial films that has its own viewership. Largely, these films are in great demand in places like Midnapore, Birbhum and Bankura. Not that the mainstream films are viewed in the cities, they often get a bumper response in the single-screen theaters in and around Kolkata.

I am sure you are aware of the recent mainstream cult hits like 'Chirodini Tumi Je Aamar' and 'Mon Maane Na' which have opened in-roads for new makers, as well as launched several fresh faces....

Vivek: Very much so... the songs, the story-telling - even though many are remakes of cult-hits from the South- and the marketing have all been contributing factors.

After Mithun, Prosenjit & Jeet having been the crowd-pullers for a really long time, there are quite a few new heroes in Tollygunge who have been doing well, like Hiran, Dev, Soham, Rahul and even you...

Vivek: Well, I am counting a lot on the upcoming ventures of mine, Surajit Biswas's 'Tumi Jodi Aamar Hote', Tapan Banerjee's 'Rajdrohi', Mrityunjay Roy's 'Aamar Antare Tumi' are all films that are expected to augur well. Let's see if I'm lucky enough in becoming the people's favorite... a long way to go.

Luck plays a major role too in becoming successful in this tinsel world, no?

Vivek: It does, and I very much believe in luck. Film-making involves a lot of risk-taking, and the people working in films are naturally great-believers in the luck-factor!

On a different note, don't you rue the fact that still a large section of the city folks snub the Bangla mainstream films as being crass and downmarket? They do not even get released in the city's multiplexes!

Vivek: Look, you have to understand the ground reality.... the multiplexes in Kolkata, where the average price of a ticket is 150 bucks, is not where the average movie-goer, who's interested in Bangla films, goes to watch our films! The market for our films lying elsewhere, the release of our films in the city multiplexes is not yet feasible. It is all a question of realistc demands.

Finally, let me say that I love the fact that you are so amiable and down-to-earth, in spite of having had a grooming in the US.. you are the youngest in the family, right? You do seem very confident and poised..

Vivek: Thank you... I was born here in Kolkata, I am the youngest - my sisters Priyanka and Apsara, both having had their share of limelight. We had shifted to the US during my childhood. I have also been to Singapore and have stayed in Mumbai for a while too. I consider myself to be a thoroughbred Kolkatan and it is here that I have been working. So, there!

The chat does come to a close..... but let me convey my earnest good wishes to you, Vivek. I hope you make a big name for yourself and make all of us proud too.

[Pics courtesy: The Telegraph; seen from top:Vivek with Ferdous & Rituparna Sengupta, and Vivek with co-star Shreya]

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Making Cricket a Casualty!

Who had expected that even cricketers' lives would be at stake as they travelled to an international venue for playing the game for fostering goodwill & peace? Well, terrorism, or rather the politics of terror is such an anathema that it spares none!
For us, that is all the sane, rational people of the world, regardless of nationality or divisive entities that define us, it is indeed appalling that anybody should have targeted a sporting team in such a brutal manner, it is far too shameful than words can describe.
Though it is still early to talk review the incident in detail, as the reports that have already flooded the media are sketchy & brief, as expected, it can be affirmed that around a dozen heavily armed assailants attacked the Sri Lankan cricket team's bus and a police escort as they had been driving to the Gaddafi stadium in the Pakistani city of Lahore. The attackers are believed to be holed up in the area itself, that is how the media have been briefed, as I write this very post. The terror attack is also believed to have been patterned in the same way as that of the Mumbai attack on 26th November, 2008.
Six members of the Sri Lankan cricket squad were reportedly wounded in the attack wherein the gunfire seems to have lasted for about half an hour. The unidentified gunmen, two of whom were even seen in the footage shown on television, fired AK 47s and rockets and hurled grenades as the team bus was about to reach the venue for the on-going Test Match. It must be mentioned that after the dastardly attacks on Mumbai, India had cancelled the proposed five-week series in Pakistan, having been critical of the country's role in indulging terror outfits, thereafter Sri Lanka came ahead with its offer of touring Pakistan in place of India. The head of Sri Lankan cricket, Arjuna Ranatunga had himself said that they had a duty as a friendly neighbour in the region to help Pakistan when it was needed the most.
And this is how the goodwill ambassadors were rewarded!!!!!!!!!!

India has blamed the attack on Pakistan-trained militants and the incident has sharply raised the tension between the two nuclear-armed neighbours. Sri Lanka has immediately cancelled the rest of the tour.
Among the Sri Lankan cricketers who have sustained injuries, Thilan Samaraweera has reportedly been the worst hit. Mahela Jayawardena has a cut in his ankle, Kumar Sangakkara has had a shrapnel cut to shoulder, Ajantha Mendis has had a shrapnel wound to his back, Tharanga Paranavithana has suffered a shrapnel wound to his chest. Paul Farbrace - the assistant coach - has suffered a shrapnel wound in his arm. Former Pakistan Test cricketer Ahsan Raza, who was the reserve umpire for the Pakistan-Sri Lanka series, was critically injured.
It is believed that the threat perception for the Sri Lankan cricket team that had already been there, was not handled effectively by the Intelligence Agencies. However, the team-bus did take a different route today, the usual practice of going through the road along the canal, was replaced by going through the Liberty market. The attack could still not be thwarted. According to reports, the gunmen were carrying weapons in sacks and were dressed like college students. It seems that the mad rampage of the terrorists will see more such lay casualties, until & unless the politics of terror that the terror outfits worldwide keep stemming from gets uprooted. May more power prevail to the voice of sanity & reason, may the lights of hope be rekindled.

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