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August 2017

2.gauri

Gauri Visarjan (Day 1165)

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It is a special day for the family and they begin preparations for her arrival days in advance. They cook her favorite food and buy her favorite clothes. The home is dressed like a bride because the daughter is special and will stay with her parents only for a day.

Gauri has visitors all day because everyone is curious to know how she is and whether she is happy at her in-laws home.

Today, Gauri will leave for her home and everyone will be very sad.

Her parents will be desolate because they will have to wait another year for their daughter to pay them a visit and son Ganpati will be heartbroken to part with his mother.

It is said that if you watch a Gauri idol closely you will find her weeping on her way home. In the villages, all the women gather and cry together when they bid farewell to Gauri mata.

IMG_0337There is another story why Gauri has to depart before Ganesha. She will be waiting in the sea her arms outstretched for her son.

We think we immerse Ganesha into the sea, but that is far from true. Ganesha’s mother collects her baby in her arms before he can drown and carries him to their abode in the heaven.

What a delightful story and quite believable that too.

Jaya Bachchan arrives

Film fraternity pay respect to Ganpati (Day 1164)

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There are many in the film fraternity who are loyal fans of the elephant God. Nana Patekar and Jeetendra have brought the deity home for decades, so does Anil Kapoor, Rani Mukherjee, and many others.  Manish Paul does the Ganesh puja at his home with a lot of fanfare, so does Sonu Nigam and many more.

Jaya aartiLata Mangeshkar has housed the deity for as long as one can remember. The Bachchcans don’t bring the deity home but believe in Ganpati which is why when of AB Corp CFO Rajesh Yadav requested Jaya Bachchan to visit his pandal at Shree Mankeshwar Mandir, Byculla Jaya Bachchan could not refuse. There was much excitement in the atmosphere to welcome Bachchan and a moment of joy for the family when Rajesh Yadav and she performed the aarti together and offered prayers to the Mankeshwar Mandir Deity.

More on the Lord and his family in the coming days….

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Elephant God in films in 90s

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In Mukul Anand’s Agneepath/1990, the underworld don hails from a small village Mandva and it has been a family tradition to bring the idol home. When the hero grows up and becomes successful he continues with the practice of bringing the deity home. The film featured Amitabh Bachchan in a dramatic climax where he is stabbed by his enemies amidst excited crowds bidding farewell to the deity at the seashore. In Satya 1998, the hero is exposed amidst the festival, dragged on a noisy street.

 

While the ten-day celebration exudes boundless energy in our lives, on screen it has portrayed myriad moods – pathos, triumph, drama and in some instances, courage. In Dil toh Pagal Hai /1997 Aroona Irani gifts identical silver idols to both Shah Rukh Khan and Madhuri Dixit who are attracted to each other but unable to express their feelings. In My Friend Ganesha a little child discovers the deity and keeps him a secret from his parents. It was a film about innocence and faith.

 

In the following decade in the remake of Don Shah Rukh Khan jives to a robust number on the street. In the remake of Agneepath Hrithik Roshan and Priyanka Chopra dabble in colour to celebrate the elephant lord.

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Elephant God in films in 80s

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For all the attention we shower on the Elephant God, Lord Ganesha has limited presence in our films. It is difficult to list even ten memorable scenes projecting the God of wisdom.

Humse Badhkar Kaun/ 1980 told the story of families living in a colony and collectively celebrating the festival. The haunting number ‘Devaa ho devaa…’ singing paeans to the Lord proved a chartbuster and is even today chanted at all theGanpati  pandals. In Takkar, the villains hide the temple treasures inside the idol and hope to escape with the loot, but heroes Jeetendra, Sanjeev Kumar and Vinod Mehra follow them till the end sing ‘Murti Ganesh ki, andar daulat desh ki…’ and mange to expose the villains.

In 1981, Filmwala’s Kalyug was the first film to portray the immersion procession in all its glory. The film’s hero Shashi Kapoor is driving home and gets caught in the festival traffic. The chaos on the street reflects his inner turbulence.  A desolate Shashi Kapoor helplessly watching the traffic was an effective shot in the narrative.

Ajanta Arts’ Dard Ka Rishta 1983, supposedly inspired from Sunil Dutt’s personal life, delved on a young girl’s obsession with the elephant God. Baby Khushboo is in coma but hears echoes of the Lord coming home and begins chanting his name. To fulfil his daughter’s last wish, father Sunil Dutt seeks permission from the hospital to bring the idol to her hospital bed. The hospital allows him and baby Khushboo dies in peace.

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Sniff is appealing

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Film Review: Sniff

Date:  25 August 2017

Producer: Trinity Pictures

Writer/ Director: Amole Gupte

Cast: Surekha Sikri, Kushmeet Gill

Rating: 3.5 stars

 

The opening credits travel you through a variety of colorful and aromatic dishes being prepared in an elaborate process. The visuals are strong and evocative and appeal to your senses. The Gill family of Bima Nagar Society are manufacturers of pickles and look forward to the season’s output when Biji/ Surekha Sikri, her son/ Manmeet Singh and grandchildren sit around the dining table excited to relish the delicious mixture. They have done this for years except eight year old Sunny/ Kushmeet Gill who has a permanent nose block and has never known any  smell, either fragrance or stench.

Sunny’s grandmother continues to be optimistic and takes him to the best doctors in town but nobody can cure his blocked nose, until one day an accident leads to a miracle and Sunny’s perennially blocked nose begins to sniff. For the first time in his life, Sunny senses smells, the sweet fragrance of the rose, the tangy aroma of the pickle and the distinguished aroma of ghee soaked parathas. Soon Sunny discovers that he can sniff not just food and fragrance but also fear, pain and deception.

The positive of the film is the novel subject, the treatment and the message. There are delightful moments in the film, for instance when Sunny walks into the classroom with soiled shoes and has everyone sniffing…When the kids excitedly open their Tiffin boxes during lunch break… The sequence in the laboratory is magical. Shot in real locations with mostly non actors, the film is vibrant, energetic and colorful.

The negative is that the second half gets predictable and the climax is a little exaggerated but Sunny /Kushmeet Gill and his colony friends make sure to keep you engaged and entertained.

One thing is for certain, nobody understands children as well as Amole Gupte. In 2007 he introduced us to dyslexia in Taare Zameen Par, in 2011 to students harassed by teachers in Stanley ka Dabba, in 2014 he gave wings to street children in the deeply sensitive Hawa Hawaii and now he turns his eight year old hero into a spy.

I rate Amol Gupte’s colourful and fragrant Sniff with 3.5 stars.

@bhawanasomaaya

 

Introduction

Saregama’s Shakti App (Day 1161)

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The festive time has begun, adding fervor to our mundane lives. Tomorrow is Ganesh Chaturthi and the Elephant God will be welcomed in many households with a lot of fanfare. Delicious, aromatic food, aarti and rituals bring together friends, relatives and neighbors.

While festivals are an occasion for families, have you ever given a thought to those living far away from home? This is a lonely time for them, reminding them of their native place and the memories associated with the festival. For the first time Saregama brings a unique App that connects you to the festival without the help of a mediator like a pandit. This App tells you not only how a puja is to be performed but draws a list of the samagris required for the occasion.

Saregama India, introduces an unconventional way to stay connected with traditions through Saregama Shakti App which is a high-quality audio-video guide on the rituals and explains the significance of mythology.

Available worldwide on Apple and Android app stores Shakti is a free to download app with a one day trial period.  The world is changing and so is Ganpati Bappa.

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The Father (1160)

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The Father is Motley’s most ambitious project to date and will have a month long run at the NCPA experimental and it’s a first where theatre in India is concerned. Written by Florian Zeller, translated by Cristopher Hampton it is an English adaptation of a French play, described by the writer as “a tragic farce” jolts us into the awareness that a very thin line separates the ludicrous from the pathetic. Hilarious and disturbing at the same time The Father is a family drama involving the victim and the caretaker.

Commissioned by the Ustinov Studio, Theatre Royal Bath, and first presented on 16 October 2014 will have on stage Naseeruddin Shah, Ratna Pathak Shah / Heeba Shah and others. Directed by Naseeruddin Shah, the set design is by Anuradha Parekh Benegal & Ratna Pathak Shah who also serves as co-director with her husband.

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Dance like a Goddess

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Madhuparna Kumar started training in Bharatnatyam at the tender age of four. Her initial dance guru Shri Kohinoor Sen Bharat in Kolkatta is her maternal uncle and also her inspiration who introduced Kumar to the world of dance and expressions.

Post marriage Kumar moved from Kolkatta to Mumbai and was exposed to a variety of dance forms, some she experimented with for adventures like fusion and folk and excelled at but her heart belongs to classical dance, specifically Bharatnatyam.

Says Kumar,“I have been dancing since I was a child and for me dancing is like breathing, my daily riyaz is a prayer to the Almighty and an offering to my gurus”.

rituparna 1Considered among the Bharatnatyam artistes Madhuparna Kumar is appreciated for her her flawless footwork combined with matchless abhinaya. She has performed on every significant platform in India and abroad and singlehandedly runs a dance academy comprising 500 students of all age groups.

Forever motivated and far from complacent, Kumar continues to explore her passion for Bharatnatyam under the able guidance of her present guru Dr Malti Agniswaran.

Kumar has done her masters in Bharatnatyam and is currently doing her doctorate under Dr Ayan Ghosh.

@bhawanasomaaya

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Movie Review: Partition: 1947 is magnificent

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Film Review: Partition: 1947

Date: 118 August 2017

Producer: Paul Berges Gurinder Chadha, Deepak Nayar

Writers:  Paul, Maria, Gurinder

Director: Gurinder Chadha

Cast: Hugh Bonneville, Gillian Anderson, Manish Dayal, Huma Qureshi, Michael Gambon

Rating: 3.5 stars

 The film opens to the Indian staff cleaning the Viceroy Palace and a British official supervising the process. In a later scene, Edwina Mountbatten comments that the palace is more magnificent than the Buckingham Palace in England.

As Lord Mountbatten trains his personal staff to dress him with his various medals in less than 10 minutes, Lady Mountbatten ventures into the kitchen to congratulate her staff for a super meal.

The couple is compassionate towards India and there are many scenes to establish that. Partition: 1947 is not like any film you have watched on the subject. It is not about the riots, the bloodshed or the religious war rather it is a peep into the private life of the final Viceroy of India during the Partition.

He has to oversee the transition of British India to independence and the monumental change is not without heart breaks; as the country divides into India and Pakistani, people are anguished and the servants quarters, for the first time rebellious to a point of violence.

Diligently written and lovingly shot Gurinder Chadha and her team engages you in a narrative where there are no villains, this is a story about turbulent times, a film about a decision that altered history!

The technical team excels in every department and the production design is magnificent. Splendidly performed by all the actors, AR Rehman’s music breathes life into the storytelling and gets you choked in the end credits.

Selected at the 67th Berlin International Film Festival this year Partition: 1947 is a must watch for every proud Indian who cares for his country’s history.

 

@bhawanasomaaya

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Movie Review: Barreily ki Barfi is delicious

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Film: Bareilly ki Barfi

Date: 18 August 2017

Producer: Junglee Pictures, BR Studio

Director: Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari

Writers: Nitesh Tiwari, Shreyas Jain, Rajat Nonia

Cast: Rajkumar Rao, Ayushman Khurana, Krriti Sanon, Pankaj Tripathi, Seema Bhargava

The man of the house is awake and is getting late to work but there is a problem, he needs a cigarette to relieve himself and he has finished his last one, so his daughter walks on the street and borrows an incomplete cigarette from a passerby to push it inside the toilet door to her anxious father.

This is just one of the many crazy things the family is capable of. On a bad morning, the daughter walks out of her home bag and baggage to board a train to nowhere but before that she purchases a book and is so engrossed in the story that she returns home instantly to share the details with her best friend.

Director Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari has a unique way of introducing her protagonists the Mishra family to the viewers. Father Pankaj Tripathi is the liberal and laid back owner of a sweet shop, mother Seema Bhargava is in government service.

Daughter Bitti / Kriti Sanon holds an impressive profile that includes break dance, foreign films, in short, living life to the brim so it’s of little consequence that she holds a boring job of listing complaints of failing electricity in the city.

Bitti identifies with the heroine of the book and is curious to meet up the writer so lands up at the printing press owned by Chirag Dubey/Ayushman Khurana, a lover in mourning who initially forwards her messages to the author and finally packs Vidrohi from Lucknow to Barreily to meet her.

In the meantime, Mr & Mrs. Mishra who were initially attracted to Chirag as the potential groom for their daughter, now shift affection to Pritam while Pritam shifts affection to Rama and if all this is confusing then that’s the intention!

It is a love story with a message for life: that you will reap what you will sow and more important, appearances are deceptive as a result, Bitti’s mother whose hyper ventilating all day about her daughter’s delayed wedding, come night and she snores away to sleep.

Bitti’s father on the other hand, who is supportive of his daughter’s freedom, lies awake night after night on his bed talking to the ceiling fan.

The spirited Bitti who lives life on her terms has a repartee for every question including a candidate asking her if she’s a virgin, has no answers for her own fears.

Nor does Chirag the big bully who is self-absorbed to a point of destruction! It is a foregone conclusion that Pritam Vidyarthi is a loser but is that really true?

What’s in favor of the film is the extra-ordinary writing sprinkled with native humor and amazing insights. Barreily Ki Barfi is a story of mundane moments turned magical by unforgettable characters and sparkling performances from ensemble cast Pankaj/ Seema/ Krriti/ Ayushman,and the best of all Rajkumar Rao.

The minus is that the romance brings back memories of Saajan, Chitchor and Katha. The film has a slow start and the climax is predictable but you can overlook these minor flaws for the bigger picture.

Barreily ki Barfi is entertaining and when you emerge from the theatre, you carry home with you the entire Mishra family, their friends, and relatives.

Congratulations to the entire Barreily team for a film as delicious as Barfi. I rate Barreily ki Barfi with 3.5 stars.

Bhawana Somaaya/ @bhawanasomaaya