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Sunday, August 23, 2009

Angshumaner Chhobi

Every time a new director arrives on the scene, there is always a lot of excitement among the cine-viewing public, especially among the enthusiasts. It is even more palpable in the Bangla film scenario, more so in the so-called new wave Bangla cinema. And here comes the debut of director Atanu Ghosh, with his offering "Angshumaner Chhobi" released on Friday across Kolkata. He has arrived in style, his debut film is nothing less than impressive. And I am delighted to feature this review of mine on the same.

"Angshumaner Chhobi" is an impressive directorial debut largely because of the competence with which the director has engaged his viewers in an intriguing, and somewhat complex narrative. In spite of all the complex layers that the film offers, it is not at all a pseudo-cerebral film. Rather it makes us go through a multi-layered ride in explorations in the hues of filmmaking. It is not so much of the much-used film-within-a-film device, than it is a depiction of the filming rigours experienced by a young filmmaker protagonist named Angshuman, and the complex struggles undergone by the leading characters in his film (called Anandi Katha). And there is a crime angle too.

The director has already delivered multiple acclaimed tele-films, and hence he has been able to avoid the indulgences common in first-time directors. He has been able to use a terrific ensemble cast that blends perfectly into the narrative. The screenplay is shorn of excesses. The cinematography has been made use of in the right manner to help us rightly focus on the emotional curves of the characters. The music (by Rocket Mandal) is apt, and so is the editing.

The stellar performances, that happen to be the essential hallmark of "Angshumaner Chhobi", feature the nuanced portrayal of the veteran egoist actor Pradyut Mukherjee by none other than Soumitra Chatterjee; Indrani Halder as Madhura Sen - the one time National award winning actress who has had an unsatisfactory career and even acts in jatra for a living. Indraneil Sengupta, from Mumbai, has been cast as Angshuman, the director who has come from Italy only to make his dream feature film debut in his mother-tongue. While Indraneil's voice has been dubbed by Aabir Chatterjee, I must say that the model-turned-actor does look convincing in the role. Tota Roy Choudhury is the surprise package among the actors, donning the role of a gigolo with aplomb. Others in the cast include: Rudranil Ghosh, Ananya Chatterjee, Bhaskar Banerjee, Shoma Chakraborty, Pijush Ganguly, Anjana Basu & Sabyasachi Chakraborty.

The cast makes us so much involved that we cannot escape being drenched by the climaxing of the powerful feelings. That is a rarity in many a parallel film or one that treads the middle path, trying to yield a sensible treatise. Personally, I applaud the efforts of the makers of such films which offer entertainment as well as food for thought. It is so tough to achieve! And Atanu Ghosh succeeds; mostly. The psychological probings are not diluted by the dramatic elements. Yet, there isn't an overburdening of the narrative with a 'more intelligent than thou' execution.

At the core, there is a simple tale, or rather there are simple tales, of vulnerability, insecurity, camouflaging, clinging, longing & transgressing. There is even death - which acts like a hook, and which gets probed almost like it happens in a whodunit. The characters in the film made by Angshuman & the protagonists playing the leads in Angshuman's film, viz. Pradyut and Madhura, merge beautifully towards the end.

I wish Atanu Ghosh all the success. May he get all the success that he deserves, and more importantly, may we get more such sensible & sensitive films.
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Sunday, August 16, 2009

Happy Birthday Saif!

Saif Ali Khan has been one of my favorite stars from Bollywood,
for reasons which are not even known to me!
He had received quite a flak from all quarters when he embarked on his acting career
in the Nineties. But since then, he has come a long way.
He has proved himself to be the proverbial dark horse
and has surprised us again and again with his amazing performances
in many a film lately.
He has been often described as a mercurial performer,
and I cannot agree more.
Saif is known for his apt comic timing in
films like 'Main Khiladi Tu Anari' & 'Hum Tum' has been appreciated.
His dramatic performances in films like 'Ek Hasina Thi' & 'Omkara'
have made us take note of his acting prowess.
His natural, affable charm in films like 'Dil Chahta Hai',
'Salaam Namaste', 'Kal Ho Na Ho', and in
the very recent 'Love Aaj Kal' has endeared him all the more.
His sharp, layered portrayals in films like 'Eklavya' and
'Parineeta' have won him the much deserved laurels.

Brief Biography:
Saif was born on August 16, 1970 in New Delhi, India.
He is the son of Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi, a renowned cricketer, and is the grandson of Iftikhar Ali Khan Pataudi, who was the Nawab of Pataudi as well as an accomplished cricketer - having played for England and then for India as the captain of the team. Saif's paternal grandmother was Sajida Sultan, Begum of Bhopal, and his great-uncle was Pakistani general Nawabzada Sher Ali Khan Pataudi. Saif's mother is the famous actress Sharmila Tagore. He has two sisters: Saba & Soha Ali Khan. Saif is privileged to be the heir apparent to the headships of both the royal houses of Bhopal and Pataudi.
Initially, Saif had studied at the Lawrence School Sanawar, but he later attended Lockers Park Prep School. He then followed in his father's footsteps by attending Winchester College, a famous independent school for boys in the U.K.
Saif made his screen debut in 1992. He had his first major successes with the 1994 films 'Main Khiladi Tu Anari' and 'Yeh Dillagi'. He won the National Film Award for Best Actor for his performance in 'Hum Tum' (2004). After 'Parineeta', 'Omkara', and 'Being Cyrus', Saif is counted among the topmost Indian actors at present.
Ver recently, he has branched out into film production. He is the founder-owner of his production company Illuminati Films which has had its first release in 'Love Aaj Kal' that has been already declared a hit.

Saif has always courted controversies. From his liaison with Kamal Sadanah to his getting married to Amrita Singh, and then from his break-up with the latter, after thirteen years of marriage and two kids, to his romancing the Italian model-actress Rosa, Saif has been in the news often for the wrong reasons. Earlier, he was continually dismissed by his critics for being insincere and arrogant. He has recently been given a lot of focus by the film glossies and even by the mainstream media just because of his declaration of love for his present girlfriend Kareena Kapoor. Saif has her name tattooed on his arm and he is known to be earnest about marrying her soon. The gossip mills keep churning the juicy reports and he gets featured amply in this way too.

Select filmography:
[The films of Saif that I've seen.]
Parampara (1992)
Yeh Dillagi (1994)
Main Khiladi Tu Anari (1994)
Imtihaan (1995)
Dil Tera Deewana (1996)
Hamesha (1997)
Keemat (1998)
Kachche Dhaage (1999)
Yeh Hai Mumbai Meri Jaan (1999)
Hum Saath Saath Hain (1999)
Biwi No. 1 (1999)
Kya Kehna (2000)
Love Ke Liye Kuchh Bhi Karega (2001)
Dil Chahta Hai (2001)
Rehna Hai Tere Dil Mein (2001)
Na Tum Jaano Na Hum (2002)
Darna Mana Hai (2003)
Kal Ho Na Ho (2003)
L.o.C.-Kargil (2003)
Ek Hasina Thi (2004)
Hum Tum (2004)
Parineeta (2005)
Salaam Namaste (2005)
Being Cyrus (2006)
Omkara (2006)
Eklavya (2007)
Nehle Pe Dehla (2007)
Ta Ra Rum Pum (2007)
Race (2008)
Tashan (2008)
Thoda Pyar Thoda Magic (2008)
Roadside Romeo (2008)
Love Aaj Kal (2009)

Friday, August 14, 2009


With 'Kaminey', Vishal Bharadwaj has once again proved that he can deliver a movie that is stylish, intelligent, insane, entertaining, and stimulating, all at once!

Watching the movie last night at a nearby multiplex, I felt that I can count on Vishal Bharadwaj as one of my favorite directors who does exactly what he chooses to do, without compromising (well mostly so, if I can discount the happy ending)!

The basic plot itself is nothing unusual, but the quirky characters, the multiple layers, the ensemble cast, the fast-paced scenario that keeps one glued to the screen, the amazing soundtrack (tracks like Dhan-te-naan, Fataak, Pehli baar, Raat ke... and the background score, are true assets) and the action-packed visuals make 'Kaminey' a total package that one cannot choose to be indifferent to. One must sit up and take note of this brilliant product and acknowledge the sheer potential of its maker.

Even after having given us such wonderful films like 'Maqbool', 'Omkara', 'Makdee' and 'The Blue Umbrella', Vishal Bharadwaj, has not been able to cut ice with a wide section of viewers in country, 'Kaminey' has the promise to change that.

The story is of two brothers, identical twins, who live their own lives but their paths cross in a bizarre manner and it leads to some hard-core action, with a frenzied climax that centres around a drug-stashed guitar. There are gangsters galore, the police, the foreigners (from Angola), double-crossing & wheeling-dealings, and then there is beautiful Priyanka Chopra (in her best performance till date) as Sweety, a role that will not only get her noticed but also remembered for, even in an action-flick like this!

Long after the Bollywood classic 'Sholay', I experienced shivers down my spine yet again in a Hindi film sequence of vicious villainy thanks to the remarkable performance of Amol Gupte as Bhope, a Marathi gangster. The said sequence features Amol Gupte & Chandan Roy Sanyal (as Mikhail). I will not divulge the details here as I am sure many of my readers haven't seen the movie as yet. For the same reason, I am not giving away much of the plot details. The film and its sequences would surely be much talked about in the days to come. I would absolutely recommend 'Kaminey'; it is meant to be watched on the big screen, and make sure that the screening facility includes stereophonic sound, two of R. D. Burman's compositions have become character-like as they have been included in the rich tapestry of sight & sound. Last, but not the least, mention must be made of Shahid Kapoor who has essayed the dual roles of Guddu (who stammers) and Charlie (who lisps) brilliantly, he has tried to give his no-holds-barred best portrayal for both the characters, kudos for the effort.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Clever Scrabble

Recently, I received a forwarded e-mail,
which offers an interesting collection of ANAGRAMS, and I liked it so much that I am making it a part of my blog. My kudos to the original creator (a genius or a bunch of geniuses; origin unknown). I am calling this post CLEVER SCRABBLE as someone out there either has too much spare time or is deadly at Scrabble, with definitive re-arrangements of the letters for each word/expression/name.
Here it is, enjoy:

When you rearrange the letters:

When you rearrange the letters:

When you rearrange the letters:

When you rearrange the letters:

When you rearrange the letters:

When you rearrange the letters:

When you rearrange the letters:

When you rearrange the letters:

When you rearrange the letters:

When you rearrange the letters:

When you rearrange the letters:

When you rearrange the letters:

When you rearrange the letters:

When you rearrange the letters:

When you rearrange the letters:

When you rearrange the letters:

When you rearrange the letters:

When you rearrange the letters:

When you rearrange the letters:

When you rearrange the letters:

And here comes the final one,
the grandest.......!!!!!!!

when you rearrange the letters:


Tuesday, August 11, 2009


Ruslaan Mumtaz is one of the new entrants among the Bollywood heroes. He is young, he is good-looking, and he is also naturally talented (he happens to be the son of yesteryear actress Anjana Mumtaz). He is yet to make it big, though he is waiting to do so, having played the lead hero in just two films.

His first big break as the romantic hero was in the teenage love story called "Mera Pehla Pehla Pyaar", or in short "MP3". The film, directed by Robby Grewal, flopped, but thankfully Ruslaan did not sink without a trace. He became the cynosure of all eyes, with his charming screen presence. The peppy songs scaled up the charts too. Young girls had instantly recognized him as the sweet swinger in the music video 'Aap jaisa koi' which had been widely shown on all music channels some months before his big screen outing! And after "MP3" released on home videos, Ruslaan's fan following grew substantially.

I missed seeing "MP3" on the big screen as the movie had just come & gone, but thanks to the coaxing from many of my e-friends who had egged me to see the movie, I did catch it on video a year later. I was impressed by Ruslaan. At the same time, I got to know that he was personally known to one of my friends who had so many good things to say about the young lad. Needless to say, I was intrigued.

Ruslaan has had his grooming in dance, under the tutelage of Shiamak Davar, and for three years in theatre. His mother had been initially hesitant about him joining the world of films, but later he successfully convinced her to give it a shot. Even as the shooting started, the ride was not so smooth for him. Just on the second day of the shoot, he had to jump off the ramp from a cycle and accidentally the cycle's tyre snapped out; he fell straight on his face and the shooting got delayed by 2 months.

Then as the cast & crew of "MP3" got ready for the next schedule, just one week before the shoot Ruslaan fell off a bike! Again he had hurt his face which was so bruised and scarred that the shoot had to be delayed once again! Finally, the film having been liked by the young girls & boys Ruslaan, must have felt compensated for all the agony. He soon signed his second big film "Teree Sang" with director Satish Kaushik. For this one too Ruslaan had a motorbike shot, it was a very simple shot and he had to take a turn. Ruslaan tried it out a little faster than usual, and the bike skidded with him being thrown off! Luckily, Ruslaan did not hurt his face this time though he had hurt his entire body. He completed the film being on painkillers all the while!

Even being called 'accident prone', and having had nasty brushes with falls, getting his face smashed or having torn ligaments, Ruslaan remains ever-energetic & spirited. He has a very modest approach towards his career, although he has a dogged determination to excel.

Ruslaan just thanks his stars for a good threshold and hopes to live up to the expectations the ticket-buying public. With the release of "Teree Sang" in theatres all-over, and having bagged yet another cool project called "Jaane Kahaan Se Aayi Hai" with Nikhil Advani, he leaves no stone unturned to give his very best. Ruslaan has had to work rather hard for the film. Even though Ruslaan has a well-maintained physique, he has pulled up his socks to sweat it out in the gym for no less than two hours each day, to be able to beef up adequately. And after the workouts, he has to often spend as many as six hours in dance class, getting training from the renowned choreographers Bosco and Caesar. Hope his efforts pay him rich dividends. All the best, Ruslaan!

Friday, August 07, 2009

Romancing in the rain....

Romancing in the rain has its own special appeal.

I have memories,
sweet & sour,
of getting drenched in the rain with a special someone....
Cosying up under the shade of a tree on a secluded open space....
That's a unique feeling that is so hard to be expressed....
I have had such moments suppressed & hidden from scrutiny
....for long.
But somehow they seek a fresh lease of life,
when I voice about my dislike for the monsoon,
for the rains......!
Something keeps goading me to let go,
to enjoy the pitter-patter of the raindrops,
to look at the things around me
in a greener glance,
a patient stance,
recalling an old romance...

as I hope for the promise
of regeneration.
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Thursday, August 06, 2009

Kolkata Monsoon

In Kolkata, monsoon has its unique place, in terms of the familiar images.
Though the city has changed much over the years, from its changing skyline to its streets and thoroughfares, there are lots of things that haven't changed.

And such an eternal look of Kolkata is very much visible during the monsoons.

From the water-logged streets to the ferrying of passengers in the hand-pulled rickshaws, it is the same-old-story for us Kolkatans.

For some, it opens the floodgates of memory; for some, it has a romantic appeal; for many, it is just the period of the same soaked-and-leaky sufferings.

From documentaries and feature films, to still photographs & paintings, the rainy season in Kolkata offers rich, visual motifs and inspiring compositions.

Kolkata is always supposed to make one nostalgic if one has had the pleasure or the trauma of getting soggy in the thundershower or wading through streets, lanes & bylanes choked with rainwater merging with the filthy overflowing drains.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Top Ten Comic Strips

These are favorite comic strips!
The Top Ten
in order of preference:

2)Calvin & Hobbes

3)Beetle Bailey




7)Mother Goose & Grimm

8)Dennis the Menace

9)The Phantom

10)Moose Miller

The lure of comic strips have remained as strong as it was when I first took a liking to the same. One of the prime reasons of getting used to opening the newspaper every morning, and especially on Sundays, was my love of comic strips. It evolved into the love for comic books of all sorts, be it the capers of Tintin, or Asterix, or the fondness for the Archie comic books (which was always looked down upon by the puritanical adults) or the desi treasure-house of colorful narratives - the Amar Chira Katha (an eclectic collection of tales from history, mythology, folk-lore and more) & the Indrajal Comics (where action-adventures of the Phantom, Rip Kirby, Mandrake, Flash Gordon, and Bahadur were featured). My comic book heroes were aplenty: from the superheroes like Spiderman and Batman to Tarzan & Korak.
Among the magazines, The Illustrated Weekly of India was a favorite of mine - as it had a rich offering of The Adventures of Phantom. The love for comics never dissuaded me to take up reading of the serious nature, rather it opened the floodgates of my imagination. I rue the fact that in our country we have never had exclusive outlets for comic books as rampant for a century or so in America. However, the comic strips still survive, they still have their place of pride in the daily newspapers, despite cost-cutting through curtailing of the quantity on offer. Television has morphed many of the print-age comics into their dynamic animation versions, yet for a thoroughbred comics-lover like me, the preference for comic strips cannot be subdued by any such replacements.