Monthly Archives

January 2017

Take 12: Talking Cinema (Day 1013)

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 Talking Cinema (2013) my twelfth book features passionate conversations with actors and filmmakers on their craft. Have you ever wondered what actors think about just before a shot, have you wondered how they prepare for a crucial scene? Behind the greasepaint and glycerin, and into the heart of what gives the audience goose bumps, Talking Cinema goes behind the scenes with several of film fraternity’s best known stars and filmmakers to unravel what goes on in the mind of an artist. It has conversations with the actors about how they get acquainted with their characters and absorb them as part of their psyche. How they live with these characters and bid them farewell when the film is completed. The book is about the skill, effort and resources that go into the making of a scene stealer or a classic.? Have you ever wondered what the director feels when his set has to be demolished after the film is completed.

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Take 13: Once Upon A Time in India – A century of Indian cinema

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If you are a Hindi-movie buff, karva chauth immediately brings to mind DDLJ, and Easter probably reminds you of Anthony Gonsalves. The book is a celebration of Indian cinema and contains its century-long history in a fun capsule, and includes fascinating facts and milestones. Once Upon a Time in India is conceived as a companion for the year 2017 with its attractive diary pages featuring iconic dialogues and fun trivia…Like the timelessness of Indian cinema, the fifty-three full-page original illustrations in Bollywood poster art style—depicting some of the most memorable scenes from your favorite films— make this a volume to treasure even when the year is over.

The book is for the younger generation to quickly update on the history of Indian cinema.

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Ok Jaanu: 50 Shades of Love – Day 1012

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Director: Shaad Ali

Music: AR Rahman

Lyrics/Dialogue:  Gulzar

Cast: Aditya Roy Kapur, Shraddha Kapoor, Naseeruddin Shah

Stars: 3***

Director Shaad Ali has assisted Mani Ratnam for many years now and remade his Tamil hit as Saathiyaan. Shaad absorbs Mani Ratnam’s sensibility and lends it his own madness which was apparent in Saathiyaan and now even more strongly in Ok Jaanu.

On the surface OK Jaanu is a frothy romance but beneath the cheer and the banter, the recklessness and the madness, is a serious issue that the lovers need to confront.

Unlike other romances on screen which usually blossom in scenic gardens or in the Alps, Adi and Tara glance at each other for the first time at Mumbai Railway Station but before they can blink they are lost in the crowd. They meet again at a friend’s church wedding and exchange numbers. A few days later, they meet again for a coffee date and we all know that a lot happens over coffee, so Tara moves into Adi’s room.

Both are professionals and have a career plan. Tara is an architect and has to leave for Paris and Adi is a game designer scheduled to leave for the apple city to become a millionaire. They are committed to each other but not for marriage.

While it is true that there is nothing new about romance it is also true that Mani Ratnam films have always portrayed a  new shade of love so if Roja was about patriotism, Bombay about religion, Dil Se about terrorism, Yuva about awareness and Saathiyaan about commitment, OK Jaanu confronts the young generation to choose between love and career.

It is not what you express in love; it is how you express that makes the love story palatable and Mani Ratnam’s O Kadhal Kanmani and Shaad Ali’s Ok Jaanu travels you to common spaces like markets, temples, offices and cafeterias via public transport- sometimes buses, trains and taxis which is interesting.

The minus: is the romance becomes repetitive after a point and there are no surprises in the second half.

The plus: is Gulzar’s refreshing dialogues, AR Rahman’s music, Naseeruddin Shah- Leela Samson pairing and Aditya -Shraddha Kapoor chemistry.

There are 50 shades of love and Ok Jaanu is one of them, it is sensitive, realistic and relevant. If you are  in love and unable to resolve your conflict between marriage and career, this film is for you.

 

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Film Heritage Foundation – Day 1011

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As 2016 draws to a close, Film Heritage Foundation (FHF) looks back with satisfaction at a year of growth and accomplishment, building on our efforts and initiatives to save our cinematic heritage. But the year has been tinged with sadness with the passing away of our mentor P.K. Nair, the custodian of India’s film heritage, on March 4, 2016. He will be sorely missed.

Film Preservation & Restoration Workshop India 2016 (FPRWI 2016)

FPRWI 2016 grew out of the success of the first ever Film Preservation & Restoration School India that FHF conducted in Mumbai in 2015. FPRWI 2016 was a 10-day workshop from February 26 – March 6, 2016 that we conducted in partnership with the National Film Archive of India (NFAI) and the International Federation of Film Archives (FIAF) in association with George Eastman Museum, L’Immagine Ritrovata and The Film Foundation’s World Cinema Project. The course was certified by FIAF.

This time we were more ambitious. We took the workshop to the NFAI in Pune – the only major film archive in the country. The workshop was longer, more advanced and intensive with a wider scope that covered the preservation of both filmic and non-filmic material with a greater focus on hands-on training.

The goal of the programme was not only to support the government by improving the infrastructure of the NFAI and the skills of their personnel by giving them access to world-class trainers, but also to continue our commitment to building an indigenous resource of archivists and restorers. Clearly our efforts have borne fruit as the NFAI has started on the National Film Heritage Mission with a clear idea of international best practices with inputs from world experts in the field and the awareness of the need to ameliorate their skills and knowledge to complete the mammoth task.

We were fortunate to have a superb faculty that included David Walsh, Head of the FIAF Technical Commission, Paolo Cherchi Usai, Senior Curator of the George Eastman Museum along with a team of personnel from the L. Jeffrey Selznick School of Film Preservation, Thelma Ross, Head of FIAF’s Cataloguing and Documentation, Davide Pozzi, Director of L’Immagine Ritrovata and his team.

Eminent actor Naseeruddin Shah was the Chief Guest at the opening ceremony and presented FHF’s Award for Outstanding Achievement in Film Preservation and Archiving to Paolo Cherchi Usai and David Walsh. We were fortunate to have legendary thespian Kamal Hassan as the Chief Guest at the closing ceremony and presentation of the FIAF certificates to the participants.

This edition of the workshop had 61 participants from India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. FHF is proud to declare that we have now introduced over 100 individuals to the world of film preservation in a span of just two years. FHF at its first FIAF Congress in Bologna FHF was delighted to participate in its first FIAF Congress in Bologna in June 2016. It was a great learning experience to hear about the challenges and new approaches to film preservation and restoration and to interact and exchange views with fellow archivists from the world over. FHF was invited to participate on a panel titled “Challenges Worldwide: New Projects” along with representatives from archives from Egypt, Africa, Philippines and China where we could share the challenges that we faced as the only private not-for-profit film archive in a country where film preservation has been sorely neglected.

 

Do You Speak Cinema?

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FHF has developed a unique programme of workshops called “Do You Speak Cinema?” aimed at immersing children in the magic of cinema, transforming the experience from mere passive viewing to actively engaging with this art form and teaching them the language of the visual image.

This project created a buzz right away. We kicked off this initiative with a one-hour module with 4-year-olds in the pre-primary class at the Cathedral & John Connon School in Mumbai. Children were introduced to hand-tinted films, early animation and Chaplin. Over a century later, it was clear that the magic of Chaplin remains undiminished.

In May, FHF conducted a two-day workshop for children from the ages of 8-12 at the CSMVS Museum as part of their children’s summer programme. The children were taught about the pioneers of early cinema from Muybridge to Georges Méliès and were shown Lumière films on a 16 mm projector.

In December, FHF was invited to conduct the Do You Speak Cinema workshop at the India International Centre, Delhi on December 17 and 18, 2016. This workshop had a wider age group of children who were shown different formats of celluloid, asked to draw a scene in five frames and taught why we need to preserve films. FHF has already received several queries from across the country to conduct the workshops at film festivals, schools and cultural institutions.

Filmic and Non-filmic Additions to the FHF Archive

It’s been a great year in terms of new additions to our filmic and non-filmic archive. FHF was fortunate to receive all P.K. Nair’s books, film catalogues, correspondence, writings and his famous film diaries from his family.

Our first deposit of the year was the non-filmic material of JBH Wadia, pioneering filmmaker and producer and co-founder of the historic Wadia Movietone. The collection, deposited by his daughter-in-law Nargis Wadia and grandson Roy Wadia is a treasure trove that includes his personal diaries and correspondence, lobby cards, scripts, glass negatives, song booklets, posters, etc. right from the days of the silent era. The Wadias have also deposited the archive of Riyad Wadia, independent filmmaker and the grandson of JBH Wadia with FHF that includes films, photographs, screenplays.

We would also like to thank the Sikand family for donating the personal effects, trophies, paintings and documentation of the award-winning iconic actor of the Hindi film industry, Pran, the “Gentleman Villain” to our archive. negatives, books and Shilpi Bose, daughter of well-known actor Tarun Bose, has generously donated a wonderful collection of her father’s personal effects and film memorabilia that include photographs from his film and theatre days, his costume from the 1969 film “Satyakam”, his Cine Association Card and the original telegram from Bimal Roy Productions to the actor offering him his first acting job.

We were delighted to receive from Kundan Shah, director of the cult film “Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron” (1983), film scripts with notes, photographs, clapboards, film publicity material as well as U-matic tapes and VHS tapes of his classic television series “Nukkad”.

Our film collection has also seen some very valuable additions. The last donation was received from a Mrs. Nirmala Karayi, whose late husband was Wing Commander P.K. Karayi of the Indian Air Force. The Wing Commander served as the Equerry-in-Waiting to Queen Elizabeth and accompanied the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh on their Royal Tour of India in 1961.Warner Bros. had filmed the Royal Tour and Mrs. Karayi has presented two 16 mm reels of this film to FHF for safekeeping.

Our other notable 35 mm film deposits include Govind Nihalani’s acclaimed films “Drishti”, “Deham” and Drohkaal”; Vishal Bhardwaj’s landmark films “Maqbool” and “Omkara” amongst others; Onir’s film “I Am”; Chitra Palekar’s film “Maati Maay” and Amol Palekar’s Marathi film “Aakriet”. We discovered that the original camera negative of “Drishti” was in a very poor condition and have placed it in a dehydration jar as the first step towards its conservation.

Future Plans

FHF will be publishing a book on the writings of P.K. Nair titled “Yesterday’s Films For Tomorrow” that we aim to release at a function on his birth anniversary on April 6, 2017.

We will be conducting the next edition of the Film Preservation and Restoration workshop India in September 2017 in association with FIAF and other partners. This time we will take the workshop to South India – home to the Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam film industries that are responsible for over 50% of the films produced in India.

We have moved forward with our vision of building a world-class film centre in India. Our architects have drawn up the plans and we will soon launch a fund- raising campaign to make this vision a reality. FHF renews its commitment to saving India’s precious film legacy and requests your support and patronage in the year ahead.

The Master & The Maestro – Day 1010

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So what can master blaster Sachin Tendulkar and Tabla maestro Ustad Zakir Hussain have in common? Well, brilliance is the only answer and of course respect for each other is mutual.

The geniuses came together for the first time to be in conversation on cricket, music, passion and life and it had to be in Mumbai’s largest auditorium the Shanmukhhanand Hall. If the photographs are anything to go by you can imagine how inspiring the evening was in reality.

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Magical Makrand – Day 1009

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Maverick Makarand Deshpande is yet again blurring the definitions of art collaborations. His latest project – Patni will deliver a monologue with situational music lent by Niladri Kumar. Deshpande describes the play as a celebration of love and the crisis of letting go. He says, “When I wrote the concept of my new play, I could only think of one name for music, Niladri and I’m fortunate that for me he is always just a phone call away. Niladri adds that while many creative artists make magic on the big screen Makarand was a maverick on stage.

It is interesting how Makarand is using the platform to perhaps complete his own karmic cycles. His another hugely successful play Mother In Transit is a tribute to his mother.

Both plays can be watched this week at Prithvi Theatre

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Bhawana Somaaya at Junoon by Mumbai local

Memories of Mumbai Local – Day 1008

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On Sunday I had a talk session organized by Junoon Theatre and it was my first experience of addressing an audience at the Dr Bhau Daji Lad Mumbai City Museum. I shared insights into the life and work of a film critic and author and the impact and the influences of people I met during my career.

Excerpts of the conversation:

My career has been a series of unplanned victories. As the youngest in the family, I had no ambitions of a career leave aside becoming a working woman. I didn’t want to do a job because it would entail making mistakes and getting fired and I didn’t want to be in any uncomfortable situation. But destiny has its own plans and one day, while my parents were traveling abroad I read an ad in the paper inviting college students with a flair for writing, I went for the interview, one thing led to another and rest is history.

I was unsure at every turning point but took the plunge and embraced the challenge. When I was offered editorship way back in 1985 I felt I was inadequate for the post and discussed it with my mother. She said take the challenge, if you deliver you have a career, if you don’t they will sack you and by the time they do this, you will have some bank balance.

From reporter to editor to columnist to author to critic has been a long and fascinating journey, a journey that has enriched and evolved me. The books I wrote have evolved me as a writer and a person. Writing is a lonely process but also fulfilling. My books are like my children and it is difficult for me to choose my favorite. Parents never have a favorite child so how can an author have a favorite book? Yes, there are special memories and that is acceptable but more about this in a separate blog soon…

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Om Puri bids farewell – Day 1007

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It was a normal day for film actor Om Puri on 06 January. He had his lunch at his regular time followed by a short nap and his favorite cup of tea in the evening. He finished his pending work early because in the evening he was committed to attend his long lasting theatre friend SeemaPahwa’s son’s engagement with wife Nandita and son Ishaan.

Seema lives in Versova and the celebrations lasted till approximately 11 pm after which Om Puri dropped Nandita and Ishaan home and returned to his flat a few buildings away.

In the morning, Om Puri’s driver reported for duty at his regular time and when his master did not answer the door bell after a long time,used the spare key given to him to unlock the door. Nothing in his wildest imagination could have prepared him for what he saw inside!

Om Puri was on the kitchen floor and not responding. The driver panicked and phoned Nandita. She arrived within minutes and together they drove him to the Cooper Hospital for a post mortem.

Within moments the news flashed like wild fire and friends and well -wishers gathered at the hospital. When I reached Cooper Hospital a devastated Nandita was surrounded by friends and supporters. She was trying to be brave but it was not easy as tears filled her eyes.

Everyone had the same question to ask: What happened and when? And nobody had the answer because nobody was with him when it happened!

It is common knowledge thatNandita and Om Puri have been separated for a while now and while Nandita lives with their son Ishaan in Om Puri’s three bedroom apartment Trishul, Om lived in a smaller flat in Oakland Park nearby.

What could have happened in the night? Had Om Purigot up to get something from the kitchen  and missed a step and collapsed on the floor ?

It could be a massive heart attack or it could even be an internal head injury one does not know till the post mortem reports arrive.

Nandita wiping her tears said, “I asked my son to come to the hospital, he refused, he said I don’t want to see him like that… His manager called me just now to say Saab is not picking up the phone, what do I tell him? What do I tell everyone when I don’t believe the news myself?”

66 is no age to go especially for an actor who internalized every character he played whether it was the cop of ArdhSatya…the rickshaw puller in City of Joy…the weaver of Susman…the customer in Mandi…the journalist in In Custody

How do you say farewell to a man who celebrated love, life and food…He was forever looking for new places to relish different cuisines so he had discovered  a favorite spot to enjoy a vegetarian thali and another to relish South Indian authentic food served on a banana leaf.

The last time I spoke to him a few months ago, he sounded disoriented; I thought he was probably unwell.

A few weeks later, a junior colleague attending a promotion of his new film told me he was awkward at the press meet and they had to cancel the conference because Om Puri was not comfortable and wanted to go home. Probably something was going on in his mind and heart that nobody knew because he had not shared it with anybody.

We don’t know if Om Puri died of heart attack or maybe heart break!

Deepika Padukone’s Staggering Success Is Only Half Her Real Story – Day 1006

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As the nation gears to watch our Bangalore beauty Deepika Padukone in her first international film to be released in India in Hindi, I pen my observations on the dazzling superstar.

The first time I heard about Deepika Padukone was from fashion designer Prasad Biddappa. This was sometime in 2006, when Padukone was signed by Shah Rukh Khan to play the lead in Om Shanti Om, and Biddappa couldn’t stop raving about her. He said there was something arresting about Deepika, and he knew she would make it big the first time she walked into their studio.

“It’s difficult to describe it, but you can always tell who has the makings of a star, and all of us in Bangalore knew that both Anushka Sharma and Deepika Padukone were meant for arc lights. “Prasad Biddappa, Fashion Designer

In the initial years, Deepika kind of skip-hopped success to failures like Bachna Ae Haseeno and Chandni Chowk To China, and was not exactly popular with the media.

The glossies were only interested in her love angle with Ranbir Kapoor, and the critics weren’t willing to indulge her till she did something significant. They appreciated her in Love Aaj Kal and encouraged her for experimenting with Karthik Calling Karthik. But Deepika still had a long way to go to earn their respect.

I met Deepika for the first time at Rishi Kapoor’s home, when Rajee Singh, Neetu Kapoor’s mother, passed away. We were all assembled in the living room waiting for the pandit to complete the formalities. In the adjoining room were Deepika and Ranbir’s other friends. When it was time for the body to be carried out, Ranbir had to lead the way, and his friends followed. I noticed that Deepika stayed back. She was conscious of being watched by everyone in the room and made sure that she did not attract any attention.

A few months later one read that Ranbir and Deepika had parted ways. Co-incidentally Ashutosh Gowariker invited me to visit his shooting of Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Sey in Goa around this time, and I spent long hours on location, chatting with the unit. During lunch break and later, I searched for tell tale clues of a break up, but Deepika appeared unusually composed. Clad in a Bengali sari riding a bicycle for a scene, she was the character without any baggage.

There was a small difference now though; Deepika did not smile that often. She was courteous but not cheerful, and the only time I spotted that famous dimple was when Ashutosh dragged her for an impromptu badminton game.

Ashutosh joked that that he had signed Deepika so that he could play badminton with her. Deepika was amused and for the first time that day, she laughed heartily. Producer Sunita Gowariker told me that day that Deepika Padukone will emerge as the new Aishwarya Rai in a few years.

“I can sense the same reserve and steely determination. She is so focused and professional that there is nothing to stop her” Sunita Gowariker, Film Producer

In 2010, Deepika’s performance at the box-office was far from promising. A crazy House Full, an insipid Lafangey Parindey, a dismissive Break Ke Baad and a disappointing Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Sey. But yes, Deepika made sure she was noticed.

Praksh Jha signed her for Aarakshan as Amitabh Bachchan’s daughter and Jaya Bachchan remarked that it was perfect casting, since Deepika looked like her husband’s daughter. Deepika was thrilled to be sharing screen space with Mr Bachchan and also to be working on buddy Rohit Dhawan’s Desi Boyz in the same year.

By now rumours of her association with Ranbir Kapoor had died a natural death and the glossies had begun paying attention to her career. In the winter of 2011 her director Rohit Dhawan was getting married in Goa and he was very keen that Deepika makes it for his special day. She looked ethereal at the wedding and mostly stayed away from the cameras. There were many people from the film fraternity including Rishi and Neetu Kapoor, and of course, Ranbir. But I did not sense any tension between them.

Cocktail (2012) was a turning point in Deepika’s career, followed by Ayan Mukerji’s Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani and Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Goliyon Ki Raasleela (2013). This was the first time she was discussed as a sex symbol, the first time critics got up and took notice, and also the first time she featured on the ‘Best Actress’ list at all the award events of the season. She looked radiant in public and became the first choice of all directors.

Deepika had everything that a young girl desired: love, money, movies. But clearly something was missing that nobody had noticed, and everyone discovered one morning.

Deepika spoke about going through severe depression, and about taking therapy. Everyone was astounded. Her rivals called it a publicity stunt. I don’t think it was a publicity stunt, and even if she was paid to create awareness about mental health, it is a courageous gesture that needed to be applauded. Success numbs all perceptions and Deepika was at a point in her career when she could do no wrong. Then came Finding Fanny (2014) and the path breaking Piku (2015).

Suddenly, not just her fans and the media, but the entire film fraternity was reacting to Deepika Padukone. I remember meeting Rakesh Roshan at a party and he couldn’t stop talking about her in Piku. The overwhelming reactions from all over had kind of numbed her and a breakdown was inevitable.

It happened in my recording studio when director Shoojit Sircar and Deepika were discussing the making of Piku. Deepika was elaborating on her role and how Shoojit helped her sculpt her character. As she was talking, tears trickled down her cheek. It was the first time I saw the emotional side of the usually reserved Deepika Padukone. She became self-conscious and tried to control of herself, but the mood prevailed.

I saw the grown up side of her during the promotion of Bajirao Mastani. Her co-star Ranveer Singh was being un-cooperative and she was trying to indulge him, cover it up for him. She was proud of Bajirao Mastani, but just as excited about Tamasha. She owned the film despite it being rejected by the box-office. In my opinion, it is one of her most complex performances till date.

These days she appears happy promoting her new film xXx: Return Of Xander Cage and her cheer is real because it reaches her eyes. Prasad Biddappa was right. There is something special about Deepika Padukone and you sense her radiance before she enters the room. Sunita Gowariker is right too. Deepika has understood show business and in less than a decade mastered it too.

Mumbai Local – Day 1005

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Sun Jan 8 | 5pm
Bhawana Somaaya
A BOOK IS BORN – INTO THE MIND OF A FILM CRITIC
English & Hindi
Critic, Columnist & Author

@DrBhauDaji Lad Mumbai City Museum ~ 2nd Sun, 5 pm
91 A, Rani Baug, Veer Mata Jijbai Bhonsle Udyan, Dr Baba Saheb Ambedkar Marg, Byculla (E)
Save your seat! Click the link and save your seat.

Synopsis:

The role of the critic, the reviewer, is often a fraught one. Many would say that film reviewers are very harsh with film-makers in their critique of a new release. Certainly the film reviewer has the power to affect public opinion on the film, and perhaps even influence the response.
So how do film reviewers do what they do?
What does a film critic go through watching films week after week and commenting on them? Can they be fair? Are they partial? Is their job easy or are they daunted by second or third thoughts often?
What happens when reviewer turns author? Is the craft of writing a book different from writing a review/column? What is she thinking about when she begins writing her new book? Are there doubts?
We are delighted to have Bhawana Somaaya – celebrated critic, columnist and author – with us at Mumbai Local. Her story is the story of an unplanned career, of accepting challenges and giving her best shot. Now, 30 years and 13 books down the road, she is easily one of India’s best recognised film experts.

In this Mumbai Local, Bhawana Somaaya will give us an insight into the life and work of a critic and writer. She will reflect on the relationship a critic has with artists, producers and audiences, and the writer with publishers and readers. We can expect an evening peppered with anecdotes, insights and excerpts from her latest book: Once Upon a Time in India: A Century of Indian Cinema. And we can perhaps begin to understand how these roles of critic and documenter balanced precariously and lovingly at the edges of arts practices, are so important to the life of the arts.

Join us this Mumbai Local for a fascinating journey into film through the eyes and experience of a closely-watching, deeply-engaged long-time witness.
Bio:

Bhawana Somaaya has been a film critic for over 30 years and has contributed columns to several significant publications including The Hindu, The Hindustan Times, The Indian Express and others. She is the former editor of Screen and has authored 13 books on cinema that includes biographies of Hema Malini and Amitabh Bachchan. Once Upon A Time In India-A century of Indian cinema is her latest release. Her books are a point of reference for students studying cinema at Whistling Woods, Manipal University and now JNU, Delhi.

She has served on Advisory Panel of Censor Board of Film Certificate in India, is Chair Person of TIFF (Tigerland India Film Festival), Madhya Pradesh and on the Governing Council for FTII. She is currently the Entertainment Editor at 92.7 BigFM radio channel and writes a weekly column for The Quint.

You can read more on Bhawana Somaaya on her website and blog

Save your seat! Click the link and save your seat. To register for the events or for more information, do ask readers to log on to www.junoontheatre.org

What is MUMBAI LOCAL?

Regular monthly programming, of unique engagements with the arts and creativity for you in your neighborhood. Where artists and scientists will come and share their junoon through engaging, delightful, interactive sessions.

Free and open to all on a first-come-first basis. To pre-register, email mumbailocal@junoontheatre.org and For more info visit: www.junoontheatre.org

To connect to the artist for interviews call: Media Consultant Kajal Gadhia 98202 96123 / kajal@mindworkz.in