Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The self-destruction mode

You killed something within me today. Was it a spark, a flame of hope. Was it a flame of hope With just one line, you wiped the slate clean of memories. Memories that I had cherished and treasured. My only reason to survive.

You know why you meant the world to me? Because I hated the world I existed in. It was that special zone I created, that had just, you, and me, and love. Love that was meant to last a lifetime.
I am alone now. I have so much to deal with. So much of clutter to clear up. Where do I start from? Everything is in a state of shambles. So many bottled emotions. I can only hug the emptiness and cry my guts out. Someone or the other is constantly around. No privacy to shed even a tear. I feel like this miserable failure.

Why did I trust you? Why did I love you? Why did I give you my every thing...every thing! Why didn't I see this coming? Was I so blind? Was I so optimistic? I could probably see us bringing up our kids a decade later but I could not foresee a separation a few months ahead
I feel suicidal. I don't have the right to exist. I am fed up, they all make me cry. I am just like a puppet to them all. They keep me as long as I please them and later discard me. I wish I had a heart of stone. I wish I could switch of my brain. I wish for nights where I don't cry myself to sleep. For days where I don't wake up to abuses.

Thank you, for bringing me back to where I was 3 years ago. It was a lovely dream while it lasted.
I don't have the guts to swallow those pills, or grab that rope and climb up to the fan or even push myself down a building. I don't have the courage to lift that knife and slash my wrists or steal a gun and shoot myself.
But, what do I kill anyway? The soul is dead and gone. It's just the body that's left.

You killed something within me today. It was my soul you killed. My soul that loved you endlessly. 

Sunday, August 26, 2012

In Memoriam - A K Hangal

Avtaar Kishan Hangal. Some called him wine, as he got better with age. To some he was Bollywood’s quintessential man with a heart of gold. For some, a common man’s mouthpiece. An adorable father and grandpa figure on screen. And for many his death has left a void, a strange silence in the fluttering industry, a ‘sannata’.

 Introduced to films as a 50 year old, several Indians grew up by seeing A.K.Hangal playing the onscreen father or grandfather of leading actors of his time. His career spanned many superstars and many generations. He was famous for portraying either of the two polar opposites - a man of principles or someone meek and oppressed. With the news of his death, curtains were surely drawn on an era in the world of Indian cinema where an elderly man’s yearnings were sold on the Indian value system.


 Here’s remembering Hangal saab’s 10 most memorable character roles. 



As Guddi’s father in Guddi (1971)
Hangal played a doting father to Jaya Bacchhan. Their relationship created the mood for the movie and was a treat to watch.

As Ramnath Sharma in Bawarchi (1972)
Enacting a family man who is detached and drowns his sorrows in alcohol was indeed a complex role. But for Hangal, it was just another character he left his mark on.

As Sadanand in Abhimaan (1973)
Rated as one of his most poignant performances, Hangal played Jaya Bacchhan’s father, mentor and guru in Abhimaan.

As Rahim chacha in Sholay (1975)
A film where every dialogue became a style statement, even Hangal got his due. Essaying the role of Rahim Chacha, an elderly villager of Ramgadh, his line ‘Itna Sannaata Kyun Hai Bhai’ has echoed successfully over the years. Rahim Chacha also became a phrase associated later on with any helpless old man.

As Ram Shastri in Aaina (1977)
Hangal's portrayal of Ram Shastri, an upper caste Hindu, brought out the diversities of the traditional Indian society in 'Aaina'.  His realistic acting and character portrayal as a Brahmin fetched him accolades.

As Inder Sen in Shaukeen (1982)
After having carved a serious reputation for himself, Hangal redefined his image by playing an old man with young aspirations in Shaukeen. His role involved ogling at a much younger Rati Agnihotri and speaking English in an overtly hilarious accent.

As Advocate Gupta in Meri Jung (1985)
Hangal was the perfect crusader representing the ‘common man’ on screen. As a lawyer, he fought for the rights of the common man in this movie. His verbal battle against Amrish Puri was heart-rending and is still regarded as one of the best confrontations on-screen.

As Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel in Lord Mountbatten – The last Viceroy (1986)

This was a mini TV series where Hangal acted the role of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. Set in pre-independent India, Hangal’s role was found to be historically accurate. His appearance closely resembled Patel, being a perfect reconstruction of the Indian barrister and statesman. Not many know that Hangal was an active participant in the Indian freedom struggle. He moved to Bombay after the Partition of India in 1949 after 3 years in prison in Pakistan.

As Shambhu Kaka in Lagaan (2001)
Playing the role of the eldest villager, it was endearing to watch the veteran actor lip sync the lines ‘Kale Megha, Kale Megha Pani Toh Barsao’. Although a cameo, he left his mark as a character artist and did complete justice to his role in spite of being injured.

As Himself in Madhubala (2012)
His last appearance on screen set the media abuzz. He played himself, a veteran actor who christens the baby Madhubala. Hangal stepped out of his house for the first time in five months for the shooting. But he proved that he may be a bit rusty around the edges at 95, but has not forgotten his art and pulled off his part in a single-take shot. He was, of course, delighted with the applause on the set.

AK Hangal continues to live in or memories. The grand old man leaves behind a legacy that would remain young in our hearts forever. RIP Hangal Saab! 

Friday, August 24, 2012

In memoriam - Kalyanji Shah


On 24th August 2000, Padma Shri Kalyanji Shah left for his heavenly abode, leaving behind a legacy of timeless melodies. Today, after 12 years, lets recall the legendary music director and his vast contribution to shaping Bollywood’s musical journey.

In the Golden age of Indian film music, Kalyanji enriched the firmament of music with his innovative compositions. Going down the melody lane, one remembers this legendary music director as someone who lived and breathed music. For him, life was not music alone; it was God's gift to be lived in harmony with other human beings and in resonance with Nature and Destiny.

Born in 1928, Kalyanji had a flair for music right from his childhood days. A proficient been (claviolin) player, he came into limelight with Filmistan’s Nagin under the music-direction of Hemant Kumar. He commenced his career as a solo composer with Subhash Desai’s Samrat Chandragupta. He then teamed up with his brother Anandji for Satta Bazaar. But their first triumph came with Chhalia, whose songs Chhalia Mera Naam and Dum Dum Diga Diga became very famous, setting a firm foothold for the duo in the industry.

Kalyanji Anandji's arrival in the Bombay Film Industry as music composers was a turning point. When the likes of S.D Burman, Hemant Kumar, Madan Mohan, Naushad, Shankar Jaikishan and Ravi were ruling the music world in Hindi films, in the Golden Era, it was difficult for the duo to carve a niche amidst the greats. In the end, they were victorious. In their career spanning three decades, the two composed music for over 250 Hindi and 5 Gujarati films. Some of their notable films are Satta Bazaar, Zanjeer, Safar, Chhalia, Bluff Master, Saraswati Chandra, Upkaar, Hasina Maan Jayegi, Bandhan, Johny Mera Naam, Sachcha Jhootha, Sultanat, Kora Kagaz, Tridev, Muqaddar Ka Sikander, Qurbani.

Kalyanji steered clear of the influence of western music as most of his tunes were original classical Indian melodies with a hint of folk music. His traditional tunes in Saraswati Chandra were a craze and fetched him the National Award for Music in 1968. He stressed on the importance of riyaaz to reach the perfect swara in playback singing. Anandji fondly recalled the old times as he quoted in an interview years ago, "Unlike me, Kalyanjibhai had this habit of being up by 6 a.m. or so and walking down to the music room to sit and compose all by himself. He would often experiment with compositions and with raags and come out with something completely unusual. Many times, this kind of music would be so high in classical caliber that it would have been impossible to use in films, which are popular art.” It was Kalyanji who was responsible for either the debut or chiseling of a formidable list that includes Laxmikant Pyarelal, Alka Yagnik, Sunidhi Chauhan, Jaspinder Narula, Sudesh Bhosle, Kumar Sanu, Udit Narayan, Sadhana Sargam, Johny Lever, Sonali Bajpai, Aditya Narayan, Manhar Udhas, Anuradha Paudwal and lyricist Gulshan Bawra. He also founded a training school, the Kala-Vir Academy, and his show, Little Wonders, was a pioneering effort at an all-kids performing show. It showcased immense talent and was a rage all over the globe.

For Kalyanji, music was only one of the facets of life. He was a natural philosopher and was one of the closest aides of Osho. Kalyanji's belief in the philosophy of simple living and high thinking dictated the look of his home and the warm, open atmosphere it radiated. It is said that an old-world generosity graced his home. His mature nature made him handle people and problems easily. His formidable wit was a powerful aid because of his strong presence of mind. During one of his shows, a journalist asked him what according to him were the best moments of his life. And she couldn't have possibly expected the reply he gave. He said, “There are 3000 people watching me. My wife is sitting in the first row. And I have a pretty girl asking me a question. This is definitely one of the best moments of my life!”

Today Kalyanji is no longer amidst us, but his memories remain alive, as much for his phenomenal body of work, as his self-effacing genial nature and his globally-famous sense of humor. His magic endures even today as we hum those soulful melodies. 

Monday, August 13, 2012

Salman's Eid fever


A well-worn industry joke goes like this: Eid belongs to Salman Khan, Diwali to Shah Rukh Khan and Christmas to Aamir Khan. IPL, World Cup, festive occasions and Ramzan had become dreaded times for filmmakers to release their films. However this year, Yashraj Films has planned to release Ek Tha Tiger five days prior to Eid. So, for Muslims a movie after Ramzan, that too of Salman Khan, is like icing on the cake. And they don’t really have to wait till Friday. The tiger is set to roar across screens and multiplexes on Wednesday, 15th August. Strategically positioned to release on a public holiday, it will surely garner the benefits of a long weekend. 

 “Because of Ramzan the Muslim community which forms a size-able chunk of the movie audience around the world does not generally prefer to watch movies as they have to observe Roza on a daily basis. Hence they avoid going out for entertainment options. Also this period mostly coincides with the month of Shravan for the Hindu community during which they observe self restraint in terms of eating, drinking and entertainment. It is the peak of monsoon season and hence the footfalls at multiplexes and malls are low in the month of August. Eid marks the end of Ramzan for Muslims and also is the beginning of festive season for the Hindus. Sometimes it also coincides with 15th Aug which is national holiday. Thus bringing people out of their homes. Hence films are released on EID. And since Salman has a huge mass fan following he prefers to release his film on EID and is assured of audience. Obviously no small budget film maker would attempt to release his film in the same week”, says Vishal Desai, a media professional who works for World College-School of Media Studies in Mumbai and teaches film marketing at various media institutes as visiting faculty.
Ek Tha Tiger is the latest addition to Salman's collection of high pumping adrenaline masala entertainers to open on Eid, hoping to fortify his position as the king of the occasion. The trade pundits have already predicted that Ek Tha Tiger may collect above Rs. 30 Crore on the opening day - A new Box Office record! Some say that the film may even go very close to 200 Crore mark, which no one has ever achieved so far in Bollywood.

Not surprisingly, Salman has also scheduled his forthcoming movie Sher Khan for an Eid release in 2013. On the contrary, Dabangg 2 is slated to release this Christmas. It would be interesting to see what fate the non-Eid release meets with. 

Here’s a quick recap - 

Wanted (2009)
This Prabhu Deva-directed action flick had Salman playing a cop who goes undercover as a gangster. Salman tasted super success at the BO with this film after a prolonged lean spell. Wanted released during Ramzan (September 18, 2009) but collections picked up significantly on and after Eid (September 20). While the opening day’s collections were only Rs. 5.5 crore, the film completed the weekend with Rs. 16 crore. The action flick went on to net Rs. 34 crore in its first week at the box-office. It further added another Rs. 20 crore to its kitty by the end of the second week.

Dabangg (2010)
The Abhinav Kashyap-directed film proved Salman’s stance as an action hero. Salman played the cop (Chulbul Pandey) with effortless ease, and the film became the biggest hit of 2010. Released on Eid (September 10, 2010), the film took an enviable opening of Rs. 14.35 crore. The first (3-day) weekend yielded Rs. 48.70 crore. What’s more, the opening week broke all previous records, save that of 3 Idiots, and amassed an impressive Rs. 81 crore! The next week added in with Rs. 35 crore. 

‘Bodyguard’ (2011)
Even as Salman turned from cop to bodyguard, the audience still loved him. Khan’s on screen persona and action sequences were enough to help the film sail through at the BO, in spite of a poor script. Released on Eid (August 31, 2011), collected a record-breaking Rs. 20.5 crore (net) on the opening day. On the day 2, the film collected Rs. 17.50 – 18 crore. The film’s 5-day weekend’s collections crossed the Rs. 80 crore net.

Ek Tha Tiger (2012)
Wait and watch…

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Small budgets, big dreams

Bollywood seems to be in the pink of health with small budget films beating the 100 crore club.



This year non-commercial small budget films like Kahaani, Vicky Donor and Ishaqzaade turned into big successes at the ticket window and earned many-a-brownie points for film makers. The cash registers were abuzz with figures in crores in a matter of days. And all this happened alongside biggies like Agneepath, Housefull 2 and Rowdy Rathore. The moral of the story is that star presence no longer makes a difference to the audience, that their craving for entertainment surpasses star loyalty. No one needs a Khan compulsorily in their film to churn out a hit. For that matter even the IPL season this year did not mar releases, giving trade experts a reason to cheer.

"Films like Vicky Donor and Kahaani if released 2 yrs ago would have probably been average or flops. Today filmmakers can afford to dream of hits even without a Khan or a big budget. This is because the Indian audience is now much more open to meaningful cinema with a good story and script. Also due to the increasing number of multiplex and digital screens, it’s now possible to have a wider release for a film which translates into better box-office collections," says Vishal Desai, a media professional who works for World College-School of Media Studies in Mumbai and teaches film marketing at various media institutes as visiting faculty.

Today small budget films also garner returns by means of satellite rights, profiting the filmmaker. Statistically speaking, Ishaqzaade collected around Rs 40 crore, while it was made in 25 crores, Kahaani raked Rs 75 crore while the production cost was 8 crore, Vicky Donor earned Rs 45 crore and was made in 5 crore. The bigwigs like Agneepath ruled with returns worth 23 crores on the very first day and 120 crores overall, while Rowdy Rathore and Housefull 2 minted 105 crore and 110 crore respectively.
The past week the Box Office saw the release of two small budget, yet long awaited films - From Sydney with Love and Yeh Jo Mohabbat Hai.

From Sydney with Love celebrates the rebirth of Pramod Films, the creators of Love in Tokyo and Dream Girl. Veteran producer-director Pramod Chakravorty’s grandson Prateek has written, directed and acted in the film. “This project required a certain scale and I did not want to compromise. I was sure that the revival of Pramod Films could not be done with a shoddy product. Our banner has earned goodwill over the period of 50 years and I want to live on those principles and make films that have long-lasting impact and make sense. I want Pramod Films to be an active banner. Now out of sight is out of mind. The film industry has short term memory and it is necessary to remain in action. We have not cut corners and have shot in Sydney. Our budget was fifteen crores plus another five for marketing. We made the film in around 20 crore,” says Prateek. He is optimistic and has no qualms releasing his project alongside a bigger Jism 2.

Budding actor Aditya Samanta aims to revive the legacy of his family banner through a tryst with romance in his debut film ‘Yeh Jo Mohabbat hai’. The 26-year-old actor will be seen romancing Sanjay Dutt’s niece Nazia Hussain in a typical Rajasthani backdrop. Will his Amar Prem live up to Aradhana, and An Evening in Paris of Shakti Films’ fame is a big question mark. Director Ashim Samanta quoted in an earlier interview, “Love was there 5,000 years back, and love will remain even after 100 years. What changes is the way in which it is shown in each film. Our film 'Yeh Jo...' is on today's line and captures the attitude of youngsters.” The movie was shot in 12 crores.

Film Historian Yogesh Mathur reminisces, “Samanta Films and Pramod films gave genuine silver jubilees. Single screens ran 4 shows a day and tickets were cheap so people could watch the same movie over and over again. Back then films also ran because of music and songs. Now the trend is no longer the same. If Yeh Jo Mohabbat Hai and From Sydney With Love have strong storylines, they will surely work, because even today content is the King.” However, Desai adds, "In today's competitive film exhibition space which sees at least 6-7 film releases a week any film needs to have its distinct USP. The above films have not really managed to create that. Also the films are pitched against Jism2, Kya Super Kool Hai Hum (released last week) and Gangs of Wasseypur - II (releasing next week) which clearly have their USPs marked i.e Sunny Leone, adult jokes and gangster drama sequel respectively. Hence in my opinion these films might just go unnoticed.”

Will the USP of old banners reviving themselves work in their favour or will the audience compare the new with old in terms of musical scores and content? Will Yeh Jo Mohabbat Hai and From Sydney With Love revel in the same glory as Kahaani and Paan Singh Tomar? Or will the biggies outshine these small wonders this week? The fate of these two releases finally rests with the audience

Monday, August 6, 2012

The bolder, the better



Sexuality in India was treated with a culture of silence. The rules for women were more rigid. Virginity was linked to purity and ultimately to the family’s social stance. In the earlier movies, emotions heightened with a romantic song and raging desires climaxed with flowers or birds or a bonfire. Sex in Cinema, a book documenting female sexuality in Indian cinema by Fareed Kazmi, begins with the quote 'Isak ki baat to besua jaane/ hum bahu beti hain, hum ka jaanein’ (The art of making love is known only to the prostitute/ we women of the household, what do we know of it.)

The woman in Bollywood may be the ideal wife, the ideal mother, the vamp or the courtesan. The wife represents sexual purity, the mother invokes religious suggestion, the vamp does the objectionable and the courtesan fulfills physical needs. In the 60s and 70s, sexuality was restricted to lyrics and Urdu poetry. Anarkali portrayed by Madhubala was the symbol of sexuality, in spite of essaying the role of a courtesan. Late 70s and 80s delved into forbidden relationships and the concept of ‘the other woman’ emerged. Raw sex appeal was restricted to art films. One cannot forget the charms of Smita Patil in Bhumika or the crude lust seen in Ankur or Ijaazat. With globalization and entry of satellite TV in the 90s, the Indian audience was exposed to a different culture, the culture of Westeners. The 90s was replete with rape scenes and villains. Fast forward to today, an actor is tagged a ‘serial kisser’. Soon unwed mothers, extra marital affairs, live-ins, on screen lip locks, bedroom capers were no longer unacceptable. Steaminess became a claim to fame amongst audiences.  They did not have to wait for the captivating tribal dress or a wet saree. Instead of subtly wiping away smudged kajal or lipstick or arranging tousled locks, today’s heroine stares upfront into the camera with her oomph factor and moans. The very thin line between aesthetic portrayal and vulgarity is often the question raised.

Movies like Jism (2003), Aitraaz (2004), Ishqiya (2010), The Dirty Picture (2011), all showed how women not only understood their gender and sexuality but also used it to get favors. So lines like “Mujhe jo chahiye, uska mazaa sirf raat ko hi aata hai” and “Jawani taste karne ke liye hoti hai, waste karne ke liye nahin”, which would once have been assigned to a perverted male mind, are now assigned to the female protagonist.  The latest addition to the clan is Jism 2, directed by Pooja Bhatt.
Jism 2 is being touted as the real life story of Sunny Leone, who also plays the lead in the movie. The plot involves the hiring of a porn star as a bait to trap an assassin and her inter personal conflicts as the plan progresses. In a recent interview, Mahesh Bhatt quipped, that sexuality in Jism 2 has the kind of anguish that comes from fierce loneliness; from the inner turbulence that is part of the human soul. All these emotions seek escape through sexual contact in the movie; sex becomes an outlet for these deep emotions. It is not the run of the mill sexuality where the hero and heroine have a one off sex scene on the bed, consummate and that’s the end of the story. No, this is not so trivial and it is actually much more than that; it deals with sexuality at a deeper level.
Jism 2 has had its own share of obstacles already. The film had to face the Censor’s wrath with nearly 45 percent of its scenes being chopped off. Director Pooja Bhatt however managed to make the necessary corrections and acquire an ‘A’ certification. Soon thereafter a PIL was filed against actress Sunny Leone demanding a stay in the release of the film. With the hearing due on 8th of August, the fate of the movie remains uncertain.
The depiction of sexuality in Bollywood maybe masked, packaged differently and restricted, thanks to the Censors but it is in some ways far more erotic than the sexuality in western films. It is true that skin show acts as a catalyst to the success of a movie today. Sexual use and abuse is glorified. Physicality has become a legal way to express romantic love. Yes, we are talking about the same country where kissing on film was banned from 1947 to 1980. However, Bollywood is sexually evolving in thought and representation. The Indian consumer is no longer a juvenile who cannot deal with sex.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Connections

Has it ever happened that you are about to type a message to someone and you receive one from the same person the moment you pick your phone. You are thinking about someone and both your thoughts connect to form a common picture. You find the line busy because you are simultaneously calling each other. You know exactly where the person will be at a given time. You can visualize what he/she is wearing. You know which side of the road he/she will take.  You can imagine what it feels like to be in the other's shoe. You can judge their mood without interaction. And sometimes, you need not even know the person so well. And the irony is that even years of a relation may not lead to such a connection. Why does it happen so, is a question asked by many...

You don't really need sensory organs to reach out, to communicate with those you know, even with strangers. 

Telepathy is a scary thing. 

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Maya

A lovely thought to ponder upon..

The world is Maya, an illusion. You see something because it's in your mind. You carve preconceived notions into images. These images guide your opinions, your thoughts. When you let these images govern your life, the Maya becomes an obsession. So I was right 3 years ago when I said, that nothing/ no one can hurt me as long as I don't allow them to. It holds true even today. If you don't exist for me, I'll see past you even if you physically stand in front of me.

Call it finding new ways to 'Being Immune'.