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November 2017

Festival Diary 3 (Day 1237)

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Goa, Kalamandir

The opening film this year is Majid Majidi’s Beyond the Clouds it is a film made in India with Indian producer, cast and technicians.  There is a standing ovation and as filmmakers wait to find their cars there are discussions about the film.

There is a Chief Ministers dinner post the screening but most of us are not in a mood and decide to party on our own. Goa has that effect on people where strangers become friends and all conflicts are resolved over Fenny and fish.

Iffi 3.b. wed

The night is young and all conversations during dinner is restricted to the cinema, e everyone at the table feels passionate about the medium and the mood is contagious.

Post dinner we walk back to the hotel and it is beautiful to watch the street decorated with fairy lights all over. There are art installations, massive posters and a mood of gaiety all around.

Granted that Goa is a tourist destination but in the month of November Goa comes alive with festival fever and all of us feel soaked in the excitement.





Festival Diary 2 (Day 1236)

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Goa, Stadium

Smriti Irani and the other minister arrive at the venue before time and mingle with the guests. There are regular faces in the audience and some new faces as well. Vani Tripathi and Ashwini Iyer are part of the IFFI organizing team and all excited about the show.

At the dot of 4pm the show begins with first some audiovisuals and later a dance performance reflecting the colours and cultures of India. The Kathakali performers come down from the stage all the way to the ground and enchant the viewers.

Iffi 2.b tuePost the performances are the regular speeches and felicitations. Shah Rukh Khan introduces the opening film and Sridevi introduces the Panorama Section.

Fortunately, the program is short and to the point and everyone is happy to disperse at the end of an hour.




Festival Diary 1 (Day 1235)

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Goa, Hotel Vivanta

Arrived in Goa for the opening of the International Film Festival, after a brief lunch rushed up to the room to change and leave for the venue.

The lobby is chaotic with everybody waiting for their car and in all the frenzy I somehow manage to arrive at the stadium on time.

IFFI 1.b. monGovernment events always begin on time but there is always a moment for memories, as I stand by the poster of IFFI my friends join me and we say cheese, sorry ‘cinema’ to the camera.

Inside there are perfect arrangements for the invitees. Names of guests are labelled on the back of the chairs and volunteers are there to help you find your seat.


Grand finale (Day 1234)

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As the chaos in the green room subsides and most of the bags/ costumes miraculously disappear from backstage it is apparent that all the children have finished with their performances and returned to the auditorium to watch the finale of the show with their parents. The closing item is an emotional Bollywood number from Taare Zameen Par performed by Madhuparna Kumar and her senior students. Once again I have been provided with an opportunity to be on stage with my guru this time playing her mother.

24.11.17 ii c (1)As the last item draws to an end and Madhuparna calls all her students to come on stage for a group picture. Her father Kalyan Sen Bharat, a well-known composer associated with many performing arts including cinema, has flown all the way from Kolkatta only to be with his daughter on her special day and to bless all her students.

24.11.17 ii c (4)As more and children rush to the stage and gather for a group picture my mind wanders back to a lazy evening when I accompanied a friend to her class. It was a test class for the senior students and watching me sit aloof in a corner, Kumar suggested I get on to the floor as well. I did for a lark and even though I had no plans to join the group committed to a 4pm class unsure how I was going to be able to make time from my busy and crazy schedule.

24.11.17 ii c (5)Two days a week for six months Kumar worked on our steps, monitored our mudras, corrected our expressions, she watched over our postures, our bends and twirls. Every week, she systematically revised old lessons and never let us free without teaching something new. How to beat the foot on the floor, how to raise the arms, there was so much to absorb and remember. Every time she taught a new step I was sure I would not get it right but she made me do it again and again till  I had mastered it and so that I never forget it she  taught us how to document step by step in a notebook.


The first time she put us to test in front of the home camera was on the Guru Purnima Day, two months later she made me appear for my debut exam and few weeks later put me on the stage for a debut performance. This is a miracle for sure and only Madhu Maam can do it.









Bollywood is fun (Day 1233)

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The purists are always looking down on the Bollywood numbers but not Madhuparna Kumar who believes there is a lot of talent in the film world and their numbers should not be isolated. Kumar believes that it is important to incorporate Bollywood music to introduce young artistes to the dance world because it is only after identifying with cinema that young children are inspired to learn dance which is why MadhuParna Kumar is probably the only classical trainer who excels in training other dance forms as well.

23.11.17 ii aKumar runs alternate classes teaching Bharatnatyam and Bollywood and though there are many teachers in the vicinity, she happens to be the address children want to visit.  The third section is a tribute to Bollywood hits and young and older students perform to a medley of vintage and new film numbers.

23.11.17 ii b

As time goes by the green room gets more crowded, there are so many artistes, so many bags and so many costume changes. The wall to wall mirror is simultaneously used by a dozen people and everyone is helping everyone to undress and change into another costume.



Variety is the spice of life (Day 1232)

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Backstage there is a flow of uncontainable energy as children who have just completed a performance rush back stage and more children queue up in a dark corner excited to make their entry. The parents are aware of the schedule and excitedly line up close to the stage to record their children’s performance.

22.11.17 iThere is a lot of clapping and cheering in the audience and it is evident that everyone present in the auditorium is emotionally involved in the program. There is respect, admiration for the academy and for the event. The annual day is a much awaited event both for the students and for the parents and the teachers put their best foot forward to make it a memorable evening.

Like every year there is a variety of dances today, folk, fusion, hip-hop and of course classical.  The best performances predictably comes from Madhupara Kumar, she moves like a dream on the stage, her every step, mudra and expression in harmony.  Today’s guest dancer is Kolkatta’s renowned performer Tuheen who plays the quintessential Lord Krishna in a solo dance and later in a joint combined performance with Madhuparna.

The audience is overwhelmed but there is much more to come…




The Stage is set (Day 1231)

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All roads lead to Mayors Hall in Andheri on the concert day and the guests arrive before time because those familiar with Madhuparna Academy know that the show will begin on time and it does.

Outside the gateman is more than helpful and guides the children and the parents to appropriate floors. Madhuparna Kumar (Madhu Maam) for her students has instructed the children to come fully dressed up to avoid confusion and waste of time in the auditorium.  Those participating in more than one dance have been given clear instructions about where they have to change and how they will be assisted by their family person.

As children run helter-skelter backstage, some looking for some help to tie their dupattas and some touch up their makeup, the teachers get ready to perform a brief puja and the comperes arrive on stage to welcome the guests. The opening item is by the teachers followed by a prayer dance Aangikam Bhuvanam Yasya requesting the lord to forgive in case of any mistake via step/ mudra/ expression performed by three seniors Mona, Madhu maam and me. The third is the vibrant number from film and the following a pure classical on Tatta Natta Aadavu by junior batch students.


Madhuparna Kummar Dance Academy completes 12 (Day 1230)

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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.

10500331_1687099804855794_4518233468121107659_nPost 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…”

Considered among the top Bharatnatyam artistes, Madhuparna Kumar is revered for 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.

Kumar has done her masters in Bharatnatyam as her subject and is currently preparing for her doctorate under the tutelage of Dr Malti Agniswaram.

On 17 November Madhuparna Dance Academy celebrated their 12th anniversary. It was a glittering evening event packed with an enthusiastic audience and I was privileged to perform the prayer dance with my guru.

Glimpses from the concert will follow over the week…


Movie Review: Tumhari Sullu is delicious (Day 1229)

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Film: Tumhari Sullu

Release: 17 November 2017

Producer: T Series

Writer/Director: Suresh Trivveni

Cast: Vidya BalanNeha DhupiaManav Kaul 


Sulochana has participated in every contest you can think of – Lemon &Spoon, Best Mummy, singing, compering, even embroidery and more often than not won the contest.  She is always at home but is far from the bored housewife because Sulochana (Sullu for the family) has a knack for keeping herself entertained.

If it is not her favourite channel on the radio, it is her daily visitor, a pigeon she chats with resting on the swing overlooking the window. She is always ready to chat up her airhostess neighbours and when they don’t pay heed she engages herself playing a prank on the local grocer.

Sulochana’s husband Ashok/ Manav Kaul is a supervisor in a tailoring factory and even though money is not in excess the couple is well adjusted in their modest life with their eight-year-old son in Mumbai’s faraway suburb.  If Manav is harassed by his boss at work Sulochana feels oppressed by her maiden family –her father, sisters and brothers-in-law who make her feel unworthy because she is not working and her husband is not in a flourishing job either.

One day, Sulochana wins a contest on the radio and has to visit the studio to collect her prize, a pressure cooker and auditions for an RJ job. She is inexperienced but is confident and has a great voice and the program head Maria/ Neha Dhupia chooses to gamble on her. The late-night show Tumhari Sullu is a super hit and Sulochana, an overnight star.

The best thing about the film is the detailed writing- all the characters, their interpersonal relationships, conflicts and insecurities. Woven in fragile moments and tentative moods, the script travels a tumultuous journey bringing the characters closer to your heart. They make you laugh, cry, sing and dance with them.

To define Tumhari Sullu as a film on gender gaze and aspirations will be unfair because it is much more than that, it is about changing perceptions, altering mindsets. Director Suresh Triveni takes up for often neglected homemakers and raises concerns.

  1. Right to expression – Sulochana desires a platform to express herself, a responsibility that makes her feel worthy and therefore turns down a mundane job even though the family can do with some extra money.
  2. Right to independence – Independence is not just economical but also mental and emotional. It changes your mindset and your worldview and which is what happens with Sulochana when she joins Wow channel.
  3. Right to sexuality – If men can celebrate their sexuality so can women and when Sulochana becomes RJ Sullu she is awakened to her sensuality and relishes it.
  4. Right to choice – It is for Sulochana to determine if she wants to continue or quit her career for the sake of the family and she is at liberty to choose whatever she desires.

Vidya Balan as Sulochana is par excellence and has you riveted to the screen and to her twinkling eyes. As her husband, Manav Kaul matches her in every scene, ably supported by Maria ma’am/ Neha Dhupia.

Rush to the nearest theatre to watch Tumhari Sullu with your entire family because I rate it with 4 stars out of which 1 star is reserved only for Vidya Balan.



PT Diary/ Day 09/ Ramlila (Day 1228)

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Shraddha Ramlila has achieved the recognition of best Ramlila in Faridabad. The script owes its origin to the ancestors of the Shri Shraddha Ramlila Group, who migrated from what is now Pakistan to India and brought along with them the warmth and simplicity of Urdu couplets.

The USP of the timeless epic is to generate interest in the new generation crossing boundaries of religion and faith /3-6-9 PM/ Prithvi Theatre.

16.ii. novBaroque meets the Beatles is a concert featuring songs re-composed in the style of these baroque masters and features Members of Symphony Orchestra of India at Prithvi Theatre on 13 November and Girish Karnad features in Stage Talk on 15 November the last day of the festival.


The opening and the closing ceremony have always been special at the festival and this year will be no different. Shashi Kapoor is always present at the venue and so is Sanjana Kapoor who flies down from Delhi to be a part of the family.


The sad thing about the best of things is that it has to come to an end, Prithvi Festival ends in a few days and now we have to wait a long year to celebrate again.