Archive for the 'Movies' Category

Soongava: Dance of the Orchids

Soongava – Dance of the Orchids is a Nepali movie by Kathmandu-born, France-based writer/director Subarna Thapa about same-sex love. The movie stars Nisha Adhikari and Diya Maskey in the lead roles of two lovers.

Mallika Sherawat talks “Dirty Politics”

Being Bin Laden

Ricky S. Sekhon (he plays Osama bin Laden in the Kathryn Bigelow film Zero Dark Thirty) in NYT. Sekhon was born in Southall, West London in 1983 to Indian parents

My journey to becoming Bin Laden started in March of last year, when I got a call from a casting director in London, who said she had been trying to get hold of me for a week — apparently the phone number I had registered on the Spotlight database, an online resource used to contact actors, was an old one. I apologized. She asked if I could come in the next day. I said yes, what for? She said she couldn’t tell me.

The next week, I was offered the part of the world’s most notorious terrorist. My first reaction was an expletive that cannot be printed here. I am a 29-year-old native Londoner, a moderate Sikh with a drama degree from Royal Holloway, University of London — a pretty far cry from a 54-year-old Saudi multimillionaire-turned-terrorist who had been on the lam for nearly a decade after murdering some 3,000 people. I guess I do look a bit like Bin Laden — I am 6 feet 4 inches tall, about what he was. I have brown skin and a prominent nose, but it’s not as though anyone has ever stopped me in the street and shouted, “Hey, aren’t you Bin Laden?” (And I think I have a better smile — not as creepy. At least my girlfriend says so.)

It’s not that easy to be an actor of Asian ancestry in Britain or America. There are fewer leading roles for us, but then again, there are also probably fewer of us going up for those roles. More:

“… I got so comfortable in the (body) bag that, by the end of the shoot, I was known as Osama bin Loungin’,” Read here

The stuntwoman

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In Mint Lounge, Nandini Ramnath on Nadia Wadia, aka The Hunterwali, the legend with many feisty avatars:

Born Mary Ann Evans in Perth, Australia, in 1908; died Nadia Wadia in Mumbai, India, in 1996; variously known as Fearless Nadia, Hunterwali, Miss Frontier Mail, Diamond Queen, Circus Queen or Jungle Queen, depending on whose bottom she was kicking.

The blonde, blue-eyed stunt-film actor made her best-known films for Wadia Movietone in the 1930s and 1940s, usually playing a brave, adventurous, highly athletic and unusually mobile woman who scaled buildings, rode horses, ran on top of moving trains and whipped, punched, slapped and booted her adversaries into submission. The ongoing Oz Fest (till 5 February), which has been organized by the Australian government to showcase the country’s culture in India, will pay tribute to the actor through the musical production Fearless Nadia. Musician Ben Walsh and the 13-member Orkestra of the Underground, comprising musicians from India and Australia, including tabla player Aneesh Pradhan, will pay tribute to her films. The cine-concert will mainly celebrate one of her best-known releases, the 1940 actioner Diamond Queen, directed by Homi Wadia, whom Nadia later married. More:

Midnight’s Children the movie: “the story of modern India movingly told”

Amit Roy reviews the movie in The Telegraph:

In the West, there have been a few reviews that are a trifle lukewarm but they are to be ignored for far too often reviewers have allowed their personal hostility to Rushdie, the person, to colour their assessment of the film.

 Also, the film is almost a private dialogue between Deepa Mehta and Salman Rushdie, the director and screenplay writer, respectively, and Indians across the world.

 When Mumtaz (who is to be Saleem Sinai’s mother) is falling in love with Nadir Khan, she tells him the food she has prepared for him is getting cold.

 “Eat, nah?” Mumtaz urges Nadir, who is to be her first husband.

 Foreigners may be puzzled by this exchange but Indians will understand the emotion conveyed in Mumtaz’s words.

 There is an amusing exchange between Dr Aadam Aziz and his wife, Naseem Ghani, on their wedding night. She had been his patient, first spotted through the perforated sheet (he was done for after he had a good feel of her breast).

 On their marital bed, he would like his bride to be, well, a bit more responsive.

When he encourages Naseem to “move, like a woman”, she retorts angrily that he must have met foreign women with dubious ways when he was abroad training to be a doctor: “Listen Dr Saab, husband or no husband, I’m not the moving type….” More:

In which a man is reincarnated as a housefly

In Open, a review of the Bollywood movie Makkhi:

The villain enjoys firing his rifle to loud screechy guitar riffs instead of attending business conferences. Sometimes, to challenge himself, he spins himself while shooting at projectiles, and sometimes he holds the rifle with just a single hand. Occasionally, he uses the shooting range for another kind of target practice— seducing women. The heroine, a social worker with an NGO (what else), likes to create miniature artworks at night. Her hobby suffers power failures. So the hero brings the moon for her—he harnesses its light by using a dish antenna and some silver foil of a cereal packet.

What follows is familiar. Hero and heroine fall in love. Villain kills hero. And the hero, to avenge his death, takes rebirth. Another Southern action flick in this season of South-inspired cinema.

Except that the hero is reborn as a fly.

Thefilm in question is Makkhi, the Hindi version of a film released earlier in Telugu as Eega, in Tamil as Naa Eee and in Malayalam as Eecha. It was one of the biggest crowdpullers of the south this year, having grossed over Rs 130 crore since hitting theatres in July. It was also a contender for India’s entry to the Oscars (that is, before Big Brother Bollywood flexed its muscle). Billed as one of the most ‘inventive’ and ‘entertaining’ films of the year, at least one interpretation suggests that it is an allegory on the superstar cult of South Indian cinema. More

 

‘Saifeena’ wedding follows a trend

Rupa Subramanya in India RealtimeWSJ:

The gossip pages of Indian newspapers and magazines are predictably focusing on the glitz and glamour of the event, but it is noteworthy that there’s a 10-year age gap between the new bride and groom. Mr. Khan will join the club of successful older men marrying attractive and accomplished younger women, rather like Hollywood icon Humphrey Bogart marrying the much younger Lauren Bacall (they had a quarter century age difference.)

Ironically enough, Mr. Khan has also been on the other side of the aisle, as it were, in his previous marriage. His partner then was Amrita Singh, a former Bollywood actor, who was 12 years his senior (he was only 21 at that time.) In popular parlance, Mr. Khan has gone from being “cradle robbed” to becoming the proverbial “sugar daddy.” A less kind interpretation would deem Ms. Singh to have been a “cougar,” along the lines of Hollywood actor Demi Moore who popularized in the Western imagination the trend of older women marrying younger men, when she got together with actor Ashton Kutcher.

Seriously though, the nuptials of Mr. Khan and Ms. Kapoor represent a well established and accepted cultural fact in India and indeed in most other societies: men tend to marry women younger than themselves. According to data collected by the United Nations the largest gap for first marriages in the Middle East and Asia is Bangladesh at 7.2 years, with Pakistan at 5.1 and India at 4.7. In the U.S., the majority of women have husbands who are no more than three years older than them, according to census data.

When you parse the Indian data more closely, a striking picture emerges. In India, according to the 2006 National Family Health Survey, the most recent survey from which data are available, the percentage of women married to men 10-years or more their elder is 16.4%, against 17.9% in NFHS-2 (1998-1999) and also 17.9% in NFHS-1 (1992-93). More:

 

I Want Fakht You

“I Want Fakht You” is a musical number in the new Hindi comedy/fantasy film “Joker”:

Salman Rushdie gets back to his day job

Rick Groen in The Globe and Mail:

“Fuck ’em. To hell with them. Actually, my life has been pretty much your average writer’s life for over a decade now. But I remember Martin Amis had this phrase back when it happened; he said that I had ‘vanished onto the front page.’ So I feel happy to have re-emerged onto the book pages and now the film pages.”

Yes, the voice is Rushdie’s. He has arrived – light grey suit, unbuttoned dress shirt, black boots, thinning hair, stumpy hands, a garrulous imp – to break, no shatter, the strange office silence. Some writers, certainly not all, are born talkers and, for over two hours, his conversation flows in tributaries, surging forth into passionate pronouncements, branching off into witty anecdotes, generous in its depth and ease. I can’t speak to his reputation as a party animal, or to that parade of four ex-wives on the domestic scene, yet this much is evident: The public Salman Rushdie is a gracious, charming and, apparently, unscarred fellow.

The river of talk opens with two “splashes,” a pair of his creative efforts come to fruition almost simultaneously. The first, set to unspool as a gala at the Toronto International Film Festival on Sept. 9, is the adaptation of Midnight’s Children, his most critically lauded novel, directed by Deepa Mehta and written for the screen by Rushdie himself. The second, slated for release a mere 9 days later, is Joseph Anton, his memoir of the fatwa period. The title refers to the pseudonym he employed then (think Conrad and Chekhov), and the contents, sight unseen, promise to be a publishing sensation. Indeed, the sight had damned well better stay unseen – the book is being treated like a state secret.

“I’ll get killed if I talk about it now. Commandos will come through the door.” Big hearty laugh. No doubt, in the memoir, words like “kill” and “commando” will be loaded. Here, they’re happily playful again, returned to their healthy place in the land of self-effacing humour. More:

 

The Reluctant Fundamentalist – review

In The Guardian:

The awful inevitability of Kipling’s non-meeting of east and west is the subject of this movie by Mira Nair, which begins the 2012 Venice film festival, adapted from the 2007 novel by Mohsen Hamid. It’s a sweeping and heartfelt tale of divided loyalties and reversion to type, in a world where the complacent ideas of globalised capitalism were shattered by 9/11.

This is bold and muscular storytelling with a plausible performance from Riz Ahmed in the lead role – though there is something flabby and evasive in the inevitable equivalence it winds up proposing between Islamic fundamentalism and aggressive American capitalism. More

Life & death in Kashmir

In The Asian Age, Suparna Sharma reviews Harud (Autumn) by Aamir Bashir:

Harud is a deeply political film that gently, but brilliantly, captures and conveys the experience of living in a land that’s caught in the middle of an interminable ego clash between two nations. In this land, life and limbs move at a cautious pace and the film’s climatic scene explains why.

The stunning ordinariness of a dead, bleeding young boy at the entrance to his house is so deeply traumatic that fear stalks everyone, all the time, because here even a slightly odd gesture or sound doesn’t attract curious looks but a hail of bullets. The only way anyone can live with this sort of constant fear is by checking out of life, either physically or mentally.

Aamir Bashir, who has written, produced and directed this feature film along with a talented team of men and women, is a Kashmiri himself. Harud is his impressive and significant debut film dedicated to Kashmir and its people. The only other film I can recall that did justice to telling Kashmir’s story is Onir’s I Am.

Harud’s cinematographer Shankar Raman (who also shot Peepli [Live] and has co-written Harud’s script) uses his camera as a sensitive, sentient observer which follows the film’s protagonist, Rafiq (Shanawaz Bhat), and others connected with him going about their daily business of living and dying.

Harud, shot in 2009, completed in 2010 and being released this week in limited cinema halls in a few cities, tells many stories.

First there’s the story of living in Kashmir. This is the story of a land tied up in barbed wire and being held hostage at gunpoint, literally. It’s the story of families whose young, unemployed, angry sons either cross over to Pakistan for arms training or travel around the country selling shawls; it’s the story of a city where insurgency/terrorism has spurred happy little retail businesses that sell tragedy for $250 a piece; it’s the story of mothers and sisters who sit in peaceful but serrated demonstration with laminated photographs of their missing sons, husbands and fathers, demanding either information or bodies. This story is told through Rafiq, who constantly feels the presence of his missing brother Touqeer, his traffic constable father Yusuf (Reza Naji), and his stoic mother Fatima (Shamim Basharat). More:

 

How do you solve a problem like Sunny Leone?

Nandini Ramnath in Mint:

Do you, as a director, get coy about the fact that you have cast a pornstar who has featured in lad mags such as Hustler and Penthouse, and who has won awards for such things as “Favorite Breasts” and “Best All-Girl Group Sex Scene”? Or do you flaunt her credentials, which may work nicely for Internet trawlers, but might just harm the box-office chances of a film that will release across single screens and multiplexes in the country?

Pooja Bhatt, who has directed Leone in the forthcoming Jism 2, says she has found a middle path that aligns Leone’s pornographic past with her Bollywood present. Jism 2 is about “emotionally damaged characters” in search of sexual fulfilment, said Bhatt. Leone plays Izna, an adult movie actor who is used as a honey trap to draw out an assassin, Kabir (played by Randeep Hooda). The film’s pre-release campaign, accordingly, mimics various stages of erotic pleasure, from intense arousal to extended foreplay, toa climactic release of emotions—timed with the actual theatrical release on 3 August.

Jism 2 has a small window to win its box-office battle before Salman Khan carpet-bombs every screen in sight with Ek Tha Tiger on 15 August. The main weapon in its armoury is Leone, the Canadian adult film actor and director of Sikh origin who first grabbed eyeballs across India as a contestant on last year’s season of the reality television show Bigg Boss. Jism 2’s writer and Pooja’s father, Mahesh Bhatt, signed up Leone in a well-publicized gesture—he dropped into the venue of the Bigg Boss show to offer Leone the lead in the sequel to the 2003 movie Jism. More:

Mira Nair’s ‘The Reluctant Fundamentalist’ to open Venice Film Festival

Mira Nair‘s The Reluctant Fundamentalist will open the 69th edition of the Venice International Film Festival in the movie’s world premiere. Riz Ahmed, Kate Hudson, Kiefer Sutherland, Liev Schreiber, Martin Donovan, Om Puri and Shabana Azmi star in the out-of-competition adaptation of the bestselling novel about a young Pakistani working on Wall Street when 9/11 shatters his bright future and plunges him into doubts about all he thought he know. Movie was adapted by William Wheeler from the 2007 novel by Mohsin Hamid. [Deadline Hollywood]

Zindagi aur maut

Suparna Sharma on Rajesh Khanna in The Asian Age:

It’s strange how films speak to you when you are young. I didn’t watch Anand, I grew up with it. When my mother didn’t understand me, when my heart broke for the first time, when someone died, when I felt unloved, when I was low for no real reason, he was there. Always. If I have to die young, I would often think, it should be to lymphosarcoma of the intestine. I knew how to play that part. He had taught me.

For two years, 2005 and 2006, my husband lived on Mumbai’s Carter Road, very close to where Rajesh Khanna’s bungalow, Ashirwad, is. I never could walk past it. I would, almost unconsciously, cross the road and walk on the other side every time I knew I was close. I must have done so a 100 times, and I think I looked at the house maybe twice. In my head the house is white, the gate is always open and there are gulmohar trees. I couldn’t just walk past it, that open gate. Because it wasn’t Rajesh Khanna’s house. It was Anand’s house and he was dying.

I don’t know whether it was deference, or some irrational fear of what I’ll do if I see Anand. I had seen him in his loneliest moments, and he’d been with me in my darkest hours. We knew each other, Anand and I. But we couldn’t say hello. We couldn’t acknowledge each other in any other space except where he’s supposed to be, and where I’m supposed to be. That’s our bond; that’s our relationship.

I remember once having coffee early Sunday morning at the Barista past his house and thinking, what happens to an actor who finds glory in suffering. Does he recreate tragedy in real life, too? Does he think of the applause when he finally signs off? The loudest, last applause? So does he script it, then — his life and the climax? More:

Rajesh Khanna: The man you could take home to your mother

The BBC made a film on him, titled Bombay Superstar, in 1974. Above, part 1, and below part 2.The other seven parts are on YouTube.

Sidharth Bhatia in Mint:

To anyone younger than 35, it would be very difficult to explain that the gaunt, bearded figure appearing in an advertisement had once captivated the entire nation. The ad, somewhat tackily, puns on the word “fans” to evoke memories of a time when Rajesh Khanna was the darling of film goers. That is actually an understatement—he had a fanatic fan following, the likes of which has never been seen before or since.

Khanna, who died in Mumbai on Wednesday after a prolonged illness, was the undisputed king of Hindi cinema through the early to mid-1970s. It was not just the kind of fandom that follows a film star but something over and beyond. He was mobbed wherever he went, women wrote letters to him in blood and then “married” his picture and every gesture and outfit he wore was copied. Rumours routinely floated about that he was suffering from a life-threatening disease, mainly because of his on-screen roles in several films (Andaz, Safar, Anand, Namak Haraam), where he died in the end.

Khanna (real name Jatin) was the son of a middle-class business family. He won a Filmfare contest in 1965, which got him a role in a G.P. Sippy film, Raaz (though Aakhri Khat was released earlier, in 1966). The film was not a hit, though he got noticed enough to be offered some more films like Baharon ke Sapne and Khamoshi.

In 1969, his film Aradhana, in which he had a double role, opened to an ecstatic reception. It had a story replete with emotion and drama, lovely locations and great music. The songs became huge hits and a new screen pair—Khanna and Sharmila Tagore—was born. More:

‘Rustam-e-Hind’ Dara Singh dead: Watch him in action

Legendary wrestler-turned-actor Dara Singh has died in Mumbai after a long illness. He was 83. Click here for the Wiki profile.

King Kong

[If anyone can find a clip of the famous Dara Singh - King Kong wrestling match in Bombay, please do share it with us.]

Watch him in Tarzan Comes to Delhi

And in an action scene in Trip to Moon (here’s the link to the full Hindi sci-fi movie circa 1965)

Kumaré – The True Story of A False Prophet

Sri Kumaré is an enlightened guru from the East who has come to America to spread his teachings. After three months in Phoenix, Kumaré has found a group of devoted students who embrace him as a true spiritual teacher. But beneath his long beard, deep penetrating eyes, and his endless smile, Kumaré has a secret he is about to unveil to his disciples: he is not real. Kumaré is really Vikram Gandhi, an American filmmaker from New Jersey who wanted to see if he could transform himself into a guru and build a following of real people. Now, he is conflicted — can he unveil the truth to these disciples with whom he has spent so much time, and who now look to him for guidance? More

Vikram Gandhi: Directing ‘Kumaré’ – From Illusion Comes Truth from Piers Fawkes on Vimeo.

Saeed Mirza: a seeker, storyteller and friend

Aakar Patel in Mint-Lounge:

Saeed is one of those rare intellectuals who is as interesting as his work. Forget Bollywood’s directors, even writers tend to be boring people, with little to say. Saeed is one of the three most interesting men I have met in my life.

 He is a teller of stories, and he is first-rate at doing this with whatever medium is at hand, film, television or print. I have spent sessions with him doing a “reading” of his next script, acting out every single part in the thing. The last session was 3 hours long, punctuated by breaks for smoking and mixing drinks. It is wonderfully entertaining (though Saeed himself once said the person who does this sort of script narration best is Sudhir Mishra).

I have seen both his books as ideas, as works-in-progress and as drafts, the child-like enthusiasm ringing throughout. I have listened to freshly-written chapters of his books read out by Saeed in his great, booming voice, one hand held out in gesticulation where the text contains speech. He is leonine, a big shaggy lion, full of certitude when he is holding forth.

Saeed is suspicious of state authority and of religion. He tolerates religion, of course, but just about.

Above Saeed’s desk in his Goa flat is a painting by his friend Mickey Patel, a menacing silhouette of a pope.

One visiting pastor saw Saeed’s pope painting and simpered, thinking it was the act of a believer, Saeed told me between great howls of laughter. More:

In troubled Pakistan, still time for high society

Declan Walsh from Karachi in NYT:

Can celebrity and fashion save Pakistan from its dark image? That’s the proposition of Hello! Pakistan, a glossy new magazine that has opened a new window into the lives of the country’s gilded elite, and rekindled an old debate about their role in a troubled society.

Hello! Pakistan is the local edition of the British celebrity magazine Hello!, famous for its soft-focus interviews with movie stars and lavish photo spreads of aristocrats and minor royalty. But the Pakistani publishers promise something different: an emphasis on their country’s “soft side” that cuts across the relentless Western focus on burqas, bombs and the Taliban.

“We’re not out to save the world,” said Zahraa Saifullah Khan, 29, the magazine’s Pakistan-born, England-educated publisher. “But this is a starting point, to show that we’re not all a bunch of terrorists with beards.”

Many young Pakistani professionals, tired of their country’s portrayal as a caldron of chaos, would applaud that idea. But not all agree that airbrushed images of the moneyed upper-crust is the way to achieve it.

“It’s life within the bubble,” said Shakir Husain, a software entrepreneur who set up Fashionistas Against the Taliban, a satirical Facebook group that has acquired cult status in Pakistani social media. “And that bubble is filled with self-congratulatory nonsense.” More:

Jaipur via The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

At The Smithsonian:

Did anybody else see The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel over the Memorial Day weekend? Somebody must have because the film, which opened on May 4, continues to do well at the box office, and that’s compared with a slew of big-budget blockbusters—Men in Black 3, Battleship, The Avengers—that have come along since then. Marigold’s popularity has been credited to John Madden, who also directed Shakespeare in Love, and to its 24-karat gold cast, including Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Tom Wilkinson and Bill Nighy, all of them over 60. (The film is based on These Foolish Things, a novel by Deborah Moggach about a group of English oldsters who move to a retirement hotel in India.) But the movie’s reception is also seen as proof that there’s a market for movies about people who aren’t young and beautiful, just interesting—as are the characters in Marigold, coping with end-of-life transitions in a drastically foreign place.

And let’s not forget another major factor in Marigold’s success: India, specifically the western state of Rajasthan, long a favorite with travelers for its mighty hill forts, bedizened palaces, teeming markets and lost desert villages. The hotel in the book—Moggach called it the Dunroamin—is located in the dreamy lake city of Udaipur, though the movie was filmed in Jaipur to the north. I recognized the setting immediately because I began a tour of Rajasthan there ten years ago. More:

Mumbai in the bad old days

Miss Lovely, a fictional film with the feel of a documentary, explores the porn industry of the eighties in Mumbai, reports Joan Dupont in New York Times. 

Niharika Singh in and as Miss Lovely / Cannes Film Festival 2012

Ashim Ahluwalia’s filmMiss Lovely” is set in in the seedy and violent back streets of Mumbai, where he grew up.

The film, in Hindi, stars Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Anil George as brothers in the pornography business. The exquisite Niharika Singh plays Pinky, a girl fresh, or perhaps not so fresh, from the provinces.

Mr. Ahluwalia, 39, is best known for “John & Jane,” a documentary from 2005 that looks like a feature and that won the National Film Award in India.

“Miss Lovely” is the opposite: a fictional film with the feel of a documentary. It was inspired by science fiction from the ’70s, movies like “Demon Seed,” Mr. Ahluwalia said, as he and Ms. Singh sat for an interview. more

Amitabh Bachchan in The Great Gatsby remake — trailer video

Bollywood star jokes about his tine Gatsby role

Soumitra Chatterjee, a master of his craft

Salil Tripathi in Mint:

The astonishing part about Soumitra Chatterjee’s long career is not that he won the Dadasaheb Phalke Award this year, but that it took four decades of exceptional performances before national juries began honouring him: a special jury prize in 2001, and a national award in 2007, (besides the Padma Bhushan in 2004). He spurned the first such award, pointing out how popular, mainstream cinema was crowding out the cinema that made you think, and he was right.

If quantity equated quality, Hindi cinema would be India’s best. For provocative cinema that stays with you beyond the three hours at a theatre, we turn to films made in other Indian languages, Bengali being the most prominent. These films bear a closer relationship with life as it is, and not as it is fantasized, although the so-called regional languages too produce escapist fare, and not all Hindi films are mediocre.

And yet, it took 42 years after Chatterjee’s unforgettable debut in Satyajit Ray’s Apur Sansar (The World of Apu, 1959) before he won his first national award. In the last of Ray’s Apu Trilogy, Chatterjee played Apu, now a young man, who joins his friend to attend a family wedding. more

The Protagonist: Irrfan Khan interview

His portrayal of the army man-turned-steeplechase runner-turned-bandit in Paan Singh Tomar has achieved both critical appreciation and commercial success. In July, he plays Spiderman’s nemesis, the villainous Proto Goblin in The Amazing Spiderman. Come Christmas, he’ll slip into the shoes of the Older Pi in Ang Lee’s Life of Pi. Between all these, he manages to squeeze in a film like Thank You. Harneet Singh interviews actor Irrfan Khan:

Irrfan Khan

What has been your toughest role till date?

It would be HBO’s In Treatment and Life of Pi. I felt claustrophobic while acting in the In Treatment segment. The show required me to be naked emotionally, I felt as if I was being squeezed and strangulated and pushed in one corner, and I had to keep feeling that way for quite a while.

And why do you say Life of Pi?

Because it’s such a difficult, intelligent and clever book. To be on top of that and to be directed by Ang Lee has been an experience unlike anything else. The film opened a new world for me. The themes the film deals with required me to absorb everything. It can be a small thing, the character can be speaking about “karma”, but when I say the line I should come across as someone who understands the vastness of karma. Life of Pi required me to constantly understand, so that I don’t become disconnected. More:

Joy Mukherjee (1939 – 2012)

Pakistan’s first Oscar

Read story in NYT here, and in Dawn here

Here on Planet Tollywood

From Vanity Fair: For years, Bollywood, India’s Mumbai-based film industry, has been pumping out twice as many movies as Hollywood. But its southern rival, Tollywood (named for the local language, Telugu), is home to the largest studio complex on the planet—Ramoji Film City, a 1,666-acre, 47-soundstage, one-stop production facility in Hyderabad that is one of the country’s top tourist attractions. Meeting its chairman, Ramoji Rao, Pico Iyer explores India’s enduring fascination with epic scale, and Robert Polidori captures the splendor of this vast mythmaking machine.

A picture-perfect replica of the Hollywood sign shines in the clear, cool sunlight, a helicopter beside it and, down below, a city of fake fronts with signs advertising “Greg’s Pistol Ship,” “Bala’s Inn Bed and Breakfast,” and “Yogi Bear Bounty Hunters.” Not far away, in a square that’s closed to the public, a mob of children dressed in school uniforms is dancing and lip-synching furiously behind a pair of pouting lovers as cameras roll.

I’m surrounded by 11 Indian men in matching white baseball caps, five young women in saris, and a screeching child. We’re seated in a minivan with whirring fans above every row, offering the “air-conditioning” that is part of the $25 V.I.P. “Ramoji Star Experience” tour. In the past few minutes we’ve seen a “Sun Fountain” that would fit in at Versailles, a Japanese “Sayonara Garden,” and an intricate hedge maze; at this moment we’re passing an “Arizona Cactus Garden” across from a town that could sit in the shadow of the Himalayas. Now, in the bright late-monsoon-season morning, I watch young women in shalwar kameezes—and black cowboy hats—sauntering toward the “Wild Western Days Shooting Gallery.” An Islamic woman clad from head to toe in a burka is approaching the Gunsmoke restaurant. more

Susheela Raman – Yeh Mera Divanapan Hai (Live)

‘Girl With the Dragon Tattoo’ India release cancelled

From The Hollywood Reporter

The much-awaited Daniel Craig starrer The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo won’t be seeing an India release as the film’s director David Fincher has refused to cut some scenes as specified by India’s Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC).

The scenes in question include two lovemaking scenes between the film’s principal female lead Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara) and Mikael Blomkvist (Craig) ; a lesbian scene featuring Lisbeth and a woman she meets at a bar; a scene where Lisbeth is raped and tortured. In a follow-up scene, she tortures her tormentor as a video of her being assaulted plays in the background. More:

Remembering Anthony Gonsalves

By Naresh Fernandes

Midway through Manmohan Desai’s classic 1977 film about three brothers separated at birth, a man in a top hat and a Saturday Night Fever suit leaps out of a giant Easter egg to inform the assemblage, ‘My name is Anthony Gonsalves.’

The significance of the announcement was lost under the impact of Amitabh Bachchan’s sartorial exuberance. But decades later, the memory of that moment still sends shivers down the spines of scores of ageing men scattered across Bombay and Goa. By invoking the name of his violin teacher in that tune in Amar Akbar Anthony, the composer Pyarelal had finally validated the lives of scores of Goan Catholic musicians whose working years had been illuminated by the flicker of images dancing across white screens in airless sound studios, even as acknowledgement of their talent whizzed by in the flash of small-type credit titles.

The arc of their stories – determined by the intersection of passion and pragmatism, of empire and exigency – originated in church-run schools in Portuguese Goa and darted through royal courts in Rajasthan, jazz clubs in Calcutta and army cantonments in Muree. Those lines eventually converged on Bombay’s film studios, where the Goan Catholic arrangers worked with Hindu music composers and Muslim lyricists in an era of intense creativity that would soon come to be recognised as the golden age of Hindi film song. More: