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October 2017


Bhai Dooj celebrates siblings

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The fourth day is referred to as Yama Dvitiya (also called Bhai Dooj) and on this day sisters invite their brothers to their homes. It is a day of celebrating sibling relationship when the brother visits his married sister with his family and shares a meal with her  extended family.




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NewYear defines new beginnings

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The day after Diwali is celebrated as the New Year and also as Giovardhan puja in the villages and in the small towns where they worship the cows with a special offering.  It is a day of good conquering over evil and rising from darkness unto light — the light that empowers us to commit ourselves to good deeds which brings us closer to divinity.


During these four days, lights illuminate every corner of India and the scent of incense sticks hangs in the air, mingled with the sounds of fire-crackers, joy, togetherness and hope. The illumination of our courtyards and our homes is an expression of obeisance to the heavens for the attainment of health, wealth, knowledge, peace and prosperity.



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Deepawali celebrates victory

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Historically, the origin of Diwali can be traced back to ancient India, when it was probably an important harvest festival. However, there are various legends pointing to the origin of Diwali or ‘Deepawali.’ Some believe it to be the celebration of the marriage of Lakshmi with Lord Vishnu.


In Bengal, the festival is dedicated to the worship of Mother Kali, the dark goddess of strength. Lord Ganesha, the elephant-headed God, the symbol of auspiciousness and wisdom, is also worshiped in most Hindu homes on this day. In Jainism, Deepawali has an added significance to the great event of Lord Mahavira attaining the eternal bliss of nirvana.

19.10.17 iiDiwali also commemorates the return of Lord Rama along with Sitaand Lakshman from his long exile and vanquishing the demon-kingRavana. In joyous celebration of the return of their king, the people of Ayodhya, the Capital of Rama, illuminated the kingdom with earthen diyas (oil lamps) and burst crackers.


It is on the third day of Deepawali — Kartika Shudda Padyami that Bali steps out of hell and rules the earth according to the boon granted to him by Lord Vishnu.




Movie Review: Secret Superstar creates Dangal

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Film: Secret SuperstarRelease: 18.10.2017

Producer: Aamir Khan

Director: Advait Chandan

Cast: Zaira Wasim, Meher Vij, Aamir Khan

Music: Amit Trivedi

Insiya/ Zaira Wasim lives in a lower middle class colony in Baroda with her parents, younger brother and grand aunt. She studies in a co-ed school and also attends a coaching class even though her parents cannot afford the additional expense.

When home, Insiya is either surfing music channels on television or playing guitar composing new melodies.

Insiya’s mother/ Meher Vij sells her jewelry to gift her daughter a laptop and a whole new world opens up for the 15 year old. Insiya uploads her album on the YouTube and becomes an overnight sensation praised by superstars on social media and contacted by top music director Shakti Kumar/ Aamir Khan inviting her for a recording to Mumbai.

Secret Superstar is a story of Insiya’s singing aspirations but also her rage towards a patriarchal society discriminating between men and women. In some ways the film is reminiscent of Hrishikesh Mukherjee and Basu Chatterjee’s middle of the road cinema during the 70s and 80s that focused on everyday happenings and awakened our conscience.

Insiya’s story begins with abuse and oppression at home and travels the by-lanes of religion, custom and law to question our dormant society.

What works in favor of the film is essentially the story, the emotional narrative, natural dialogues and remarkable characters. All the performances are effective. Mona Ambekar as a lawyer stands out in a cameo, Aaamir Khan as the obnoxious music director is a riot, Zaira Wasim of Dangal proves yet again that she is special and the surprise packet of the film Meher Vij cast as Insiya’s adorable Ammi.

There are sparkling moments in the film, sparkling lines, a lot of heart and pathos. Amit Trivedi’s music is refreshing and new voice Meghana Mishra excels as alter ego.

On the downslide, Insiya’s success is over simplified; the climax over exaggerated and the journey a forgone conclusion but all this can be overlooked because the narrative is emotionally powerful and addresses multiple issues ranging from marital abuse, gender discrimination, minority and show business!

 Secret Superstar is devoid of big budget, big stars, lavish sets, entertaining choreography and glamorous costumes but it has a soul, it has the flight of a courageous daughter and even a more courageous mother and their precious dreams.

In the closing of the film Aamir Khan looks into the camera and states: If you approve of the film like it and if you don’t, change your taste.

 I like the film and rate Secret Superstar with 4 stars.




Chaudas marks destruction of evil

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Kali Chaudas or Amavasya or Pehli Diwali as is popularly called is the day before the festival of lights. Actually all the four days of the festival has a legendary story and myth asociated with it. The first day of the festival Naraka Chaturdasi marks the vanquishing of the demon Naraka by Lord Krishna and his wife Satyabhama.

Amavasya, the second day of Deepawali, marks the worship of Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth in her most benevolent mood, fulfilling the wishes of her devotees. Amavasya also tells the story of Lord Vishnu, who in his incarnation of a dwarf vanquished the tyrant Bali, and banished him to hell. Bali was allowed to return to earth once a year, to light millions of lamps to dispel the darkness and ignorance, and spread the radiance of love and wisdom.



Dhanteras is worship of Money

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Dhanteras is the first of the five-day Diwali Festival celebrated all over India. The festival is also known as Dhanatrayodashi or Dhanvantari Trayodashi. The word ‘Dhana’ means wealth and Trayodashi means 13th day as per Hindu calendar. It is celebrated on the thirteenth lunar day of Krishna Paksha (dark fortnight) in the Hindu calendar month of Ashwayuja.


On Dhanteras, Goddess Lakshmi is worshiped to provide prosperity and wellbeing. Dhanteras holds special significance for the business community due to the customary purchases of precious metals on this day. Lord Kubera, the God of assets and wealth is also worshiped on this day.


The tradition of gambling on Diwali also has a legend. It is said that Goddess Parvati played dice with her husband Lord Shiva, and she decreed that whosoever gambled on Diwali night would prosper throughout the ensuing year. Diwali is associated with wealth and prosperity and the Dhanteras is derived from dhan/ wealth won on the teras/13th two days prior to the festival of lights.



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Book launch at NGMA 

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It was artist Prafulla Dahanukar Art Foundation’s idea to launch a book titled Global Art of Modern Indian Painters and release it at the hands of Shri Adwaita Gadanayak Director General of NGMA Delhi at Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya, (Prince of Wales Museum) Auditorium, Mumbai. Attended by top artists Prabhakar Kolte, R.B. Bhaskaran, Jatin Das, RavindraSalve, and Vishwanath Sable the Dean of J.J. School of Art, Architect I.M. Kadri, industrialists Shekhar Bajaj and Vishwajit Dahanukar, theatre guru Vijaya Mehta and many dignitaries, art patrons and connoisseurs, it was an evening to relish and remember.

16.10.17 iThe book is a landmark in the history of art movement in India and includes the work of top 30 artists which include Akbar Padamsee, Anjoli Ela Menon, Jehangir Sabawala , Krishen Khanna, M.F.Hussain, Prabhakar  Kolte, Prafulla Dahanukar, F.N.Souza, Ram Kumar, Sakti Barman, S.H. Raza, Tyeb Mehta, V.S. Gaitonde, Yusuf Arakkal and many more.

It was an unusual book release at the most appropriate venue amidst the most appropriate crowd. Cheers to the idea.



Ajji at Busan Film Fest

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Devashish Makhija’s dark twist on the fairy-tale Little Red Riding Hood – Ajji seems to have turned into Festival favorite. The film will have a world premiere at the prestigious Busan International Film Festival (BIFF) today in the New Currents competition and to be judged by a jury headed by eminent filmmaker Oliver Stone.

Director Devashish MakhijaThe film is also competing at the India Gold section for Indian feature films, at MAMI. The story of a grandmother seeking revenge for the rape of her 9 year old granddaughter has touched a chord with the audience because it is also invited to Black Nights Film Festival at Tallinn, Estonia.

SUSHMA DESHPANDE who plays AJJI and SAHRVANI SURYAVANSHI who plays Manda in the film AJJIDirector Devashish shares that fairy tales are written metaphorically and Ajji is relevant with present times.  Saregama set up Yoodlle Films to support independent filmmakers who want to tell stories that others shy away from and the idea seems to have caught on. Says Vikram Mehra,  Yoodlee Films is guided by their belief and the fact that it is making a  mark at all the festivals is a proof that they are on the right track.


Bachchan Trilogy

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I have often been asked why I have done three books on Amitabh Bachchan, what is it about him that could not be sufficed in one book. My answer to all my detractors and his fans is of them is that the three books encompass different aspects of Bachchan’s life besides nobody has ever asked Satyajit Ray why he did a trilogy on Appu. He did three films because the story was not complete. I may do a fourth/ fifth even a sixth book on the superstar in the future if I feel like. It is my privilege as a writer.

 On his 75th birthday, I recap synopsis of the three books.  The first was translated in Hindi and there are plans of it going digital. The second is a masterpiece production and can be purchased from Osians and the third, my favorite, one of its kind can be purchased from Pustak Mahal.


Published by Macmillan India Pvt Ltd

Released in the year 1998

Priced at Rs.. 450/-

(Also available in Hindi- Amitabh: EK JIVIT KINVADANTI published by Macmillan India Ltd Rs. 385)

1. Amitabh The LegendAmitabh Bachchan has played varied roles on screen, but off-screen the actor remains an enigma.  Admired, envied, hated, hounded, his celebrity status transcends national boundaries.

Published by Macmillan, the author captures the roller-coaster life of a superstar through incisive, introspective interviews.  And the protagonist, Amitabh Bachchan, takes it all head-on, emotional choices, professional commitments, candid confrontation with controversies, allegations et al.

Surviving both, the near-fatal accident on the sets, and political cesspool in real-life, his reflective personal accounts are beautifully blended with intimate analysis rendered by his actress-spouse Jaya Bhaduri, leading ladies and colleagues, a documentation of a legendary success and a collector’s proud possession.


BACHCHANALI: The Films and Memorabilia of Amitabh Bachchan

Published by Osians – Connoisseurs of Art Pvt. Ltd

Released in the year 2009

Priced at Rs.3500/-

9.BachchanaliaA collector’s item of Bachchan’s 135 films over 40 years with film posters and stories behind the scenes. In his four-decade-long career, Amitabh Bachchan has been a witness to all the turning points in show business both on and off screen. He symbolizes the evolution of Indian cinema in creativity and technology. His growing stature from an actor to a superstar is evident from his altering body language reflected in the film posters over the decades. He stands testimony to the changing trends in cinema as well as the socio-political scenario in the country. Amitabh Bachchan will always remain the touchstone of the entertainment business.



Published by Pustak Mahal

Released in the year 2011

Priced at Rs.1000/-

11. Amitabh LexiconAmitabh Lexicon captures 2,833 headwords of the English dictionary into films of the actor spread over 41 years his magnificent career. It is a colourful joyride into Bachchan’s memorabilia.

Forty one years and 174 films (and counting)… Amitabh Bachchan has long since sublimated the language of cinema that is peculiar to Hindi films. He has worked its verbs, overwhelmed its adjectives, brought to life its nouns, subjugated its predicates and predicated its subjects. This does render it easy for a writer to describe his phenomenon but then, makes it equally difficult to, when one seeks to summarize it.

Nearly every word in the English language could find its place in the cinematic vocabulary of Amitabh Bachchan.

Therefore, this attempt, to take you through a Lexicon of his various personas on screen – scenes where he made you cry, laugh, and all shook up. Like he says in his film Namak Halaal “Lo karlo baat…aree English to aisi ave hain ke that I can leave angrez behind… I can talk English, I can walk English, and I can laugh English…”

Those interested in purchasing Amitabh Lexicon can contact Rohit Gupta




BS Rkha 2015

Happy Birthday Rekha

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I met her in the late 70s when she was shooting at Dadar’s Ranjeet Studio. Those were days you could just walk into a studio and meet the actors without an appointment. Filmmakers had no objection to journalist hopping on their sets and they willingly shared pictures of the shooting to be published in our magazines.

1Rekha 1979It was a terribly hot day and when Rekha discovered that I had come to meet her she quickly let me inside her makeup room because she did not want me standing in the sun. My first interview with her was what Karan Johar today describes as a rapid-fire round where she gave candid answers to questions asked.

2016Pam R n meOver the decades I did several interviews with her probably the maximum any journalist has done with her, some of them reproduced in my several books.

My last interview with her was for my radio channel and unlike other recordings mostly conducted at our studio, Rekha recorded her interview at a Dubbing Studio because she did not trust the sound quality elsewhere.