Monthly Archives

January 2018

Notes on Chai (Day 1263)

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Jyoti Dogra’s Notes on Chai is devised as a solo experimental that explores urban isolation and struggle for meaning in everyday life. The play has travelled all of Europe and returns to India on public demand after a gap of two years.

In these two years, the play has evolved organically through its interactions with all kinds of audiences.  The writing comprises echoes of everyday conversations interwoven with abstract sound explorations inspired by Tibetan chanting and also ancient Christian singing. The thought process initiated on the stage travel the inner and outer landscape of urban life and becomes a personal experience for all in the audience.

We are all familiar with Chai Pe Charcha now it is time to make notes on Chai.




Remembering Kaifi Azmi (Day 1262)

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14 Januuary is poet, activist, lyricist Kaifi Azmi’s birthday and the family celebrates the date at his home in Janki Kutir amidst friends and litterateur. In the garden of Janki Kutir festooned with trees and fairy lights unfold a mushaira where poets from Mumbai and outside gather to recite their poetry. Organized by Kaifi Azmi’s son Baba Azmi it is an enlightening evening of music and poetry. This time there was a classical dance rendition performed on Azmi’s nazm Aurat as a finale followed by chai and batatawadas.Mon kaifi azmi 2

It is perhaps the only day when there are no protocols and enthusiastic audience from all walks of life brush shoulders to enjoy poetry and celebrate their hero.



Feedback Corner (Day 1261)

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I have travelled to many literature festivals all around the world but have never encountered a Feedback Corner as in the case of Gujarat Literature Festival. One, the Feedback Corner does not look like a reaction corner; on the contrary, it resembles a Magic Corner. On the surface, the large banyan tree reserved for feedback appears like a wish-fulfilling tree. We have seen such trees in Hindi movies where the heroine circulates the tree with a red thread and prays for her husband’s long life. Except this one is not regressive and promotes a bigger message. Every guest writes her suggestions/ reactions on a small card and ties it up to a branch. When I stopped to write my observations I discovered that more than 5000 people had pinned up their expressions.

Sat 3How I love this idea, the junior assistant told me that when the festival ends all these suggestions will be collected and given to the authority so that next year Gujarat Literature Festival will aspire to be even better than 2018. I think it is a terrific idea.

Sat 1 



Movie Review: What’s going on Kaalaakandi? Day 1161

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Film: Kaalakandi
Date: 12 January 2017
Writer/Director: Akshat Verma
Producer: Rohit Khattar, Ashi Dua Sara
Story: Devesh Kapoor
Cast: Saif Ali Khan, Akshay Oberoi, Deepak Dobriyal, Vijay Raaz

In 2011 Akshat Verma wrote a film for Aamir Khan Productions that became a trendsetter, Delhi Belly.

This time, Akshat turns director and tells you the story of many characters travelling one night.

There is a young couple in the midst of their wedding celebrations and sort of confused, another couple, and visibly distraught because the girl is flying out to pursue further studies.

In another corner of the same city, two small-time criminals are dreaming of millions. In another dark alley somewhere, their boss is charting a bigger game.

Older brother Saif Ali Khan receives fatal news and goes over the top. Younger brother Akshay Oberoi gets a call from his ex flame and goes over the top too.

Over the years we’ve watched many gripping one night stories and Kaalaakandi is easily the most forgettable of all.

Should you watch Kaalaakandi? Well, it’s your precious time and money so your call.

I rate Kaalaakandi with 1.5 stars.

Author’s Lounge (Day 1260)

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The Author’s Lounge at every literary festival is an exciting place to spend time because as sessions begin and end, different authors stop by for a cup of coffee or snack and you bump into old friends and colleagues. I was happy to meet renowned author Varsha Adalja and chat with her about her forthcoming book.  Adalja is a fascinating writer and after so many years her audience waits eagerly for her new book. Salil Tripathi has been writing on various issues for so many years and I have followed his work for a long time now, but we seldom meet except at such gatherings.

Fri 2Writer-director Abhishek Jain who dons many hats, he is a filmmaker, producer and now also an author. This is the only place one can interact with Gujarat Literature core team, the only place I have seen Jumana and Shyam Parekh drop their guards and relax. Someday, some author will write a book on the Author’s Lounge if they have not started thinking about it already and then maybe it can be launched by Shyam Parekh and Abhishek Jai at the Gujarat Literature Festival.

Fri 3 


Installations and experiments (Day 1259)

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Shyam Parekh and Jumana take me for a stroll on the Kanoria Lawns and I am fascinated by the atmosphere at Gujarat Literature Festival.  Men, women, young and old have come draped in warm shawls and hang around the place soaking in the ambience. Some have just exited from a sparkling session and are discussing the author; some are relishing bhelpuri, while some are browsing at the archives to discover precious books.

There are a lot of children attending the festival this year and Jumana informs me that they have special workshops for children this year. It was a conscious decision by Gujarat Literature Festival to emphasize on art and installations this year. I am intrigued by a tree bark and on coming closer discover it is an installation promoting environment by Priya Anand Pariyani. Pariyani shares that she is an untrained artiste who was fortunate to find a master who encouraged her to follow her heart.

Thur 2Her guru explains that from a tree comes paper and it is the thoughts jotted on blank paper that become prose, poetry and books cards so unless we respect tree, we value paper and preserve nature, we cannot preserve books. This installation is to spread the message of saving the environment, he concludes.

I am deeply moved and privileged to have such an insightful interaction with the artiste and her guru and I am certain that every time I pass a tree I will remember Pariyani’s this installation.


Celebrating literature (Day 1258)

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The gate at Senate Hall Gujarat University is cheerfully decorated with colourful umbrellas. The volunteers are all wearing red silk jackets so that people can recognize them easily and seek assistance. In a corner is the registration desk and beyond that are the session halls segregated by narrow pathways to move around the lawns.

Beyond the sessions are other activities be it the Hutheesingh Amphi Theatre, Beyond the Gallery or the Kanoria Lawns. Most of the workshops are at Gujarat University but since the venues are all close by nobody is complaining, in fact enjoying the hop-skip- and-jump process, meeting new authors and connecting.

Wed 1Today’s session at Gujarat Literature Festival is on the relevance of Film Reviews and joining me in the panel are Shishir Ramavat, Shailendra Vaghela, Jayesh Adhyaru and Jignesh Vasavda. The house is packed and the question-answer session thoroughly enjoyable.  Post the session RJ Siddharth leads us to the green room where all of us relish some green tea.



Visiting Dainik Bhaskar (Day 1257)

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It is that time of the year when Ahmedabad comes alive with various festivals and among them is Gujarat Literature Festival. In just five years’ time, GLF has gained a distinct identity and become a hot favorite with both, the authors as well as the audience. In my opinion, the festival is special is its core team and the immense enthusiasm they generate to the entire team because of which there is boundless energy in the atmosphere.

Tue 1But before I get to the venue I have an important stop at Dainik Bhaskar incidentally the print partner of GLF. I have just started a column in the widely circulated Navrang the magazine supplement of the newspaper. When Krishnakant Unadkat, editor of Magazine, Bhaskar comes to know I am coming to Ahmedabad he insists I stop by at his office for a cup of tea.

I am glad I did because I discover the mechanics of bringing out a daily supplement on varied subjects: Health, Women, Children, Cinema, Spirituality, Commerce to name a few and this can only happen when the team has super chemistry and for this credit goes to the editor.




Expectations and Reality (Day 1256)

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In 2002 when Badhai Ho Badhai was released it did not make the impact that was expected, from either the critics or the box-office. Anil Kapoor’s obese look did not go well with the audience and he was relieved that he had used padding and not gone and put on weight because that would have been really depressing.


Satish Kaushik and Anil Kapoor did not make any more films together but continue to remain good friends. Subhash Ghai withdrew partnership with Anil and Satish films but continue to remain good friends with both Satish and Anil.

sunita n shilpaShilpa Shetty who was still a struggling star at that time did not become the overnight sensation as predicted by her co-star and her director but working on the film strengthened a bond between the three that continues to this date. Shilpa is friends not just with her co-star after so many years but his entire family. Last seen she was celebrating her Karwa Chauth at Kapoor household with other star wives. This is show business, this is life and I think it is fantastic!




Suhaag Raat Scenes and more (Day 1255)

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At 5 pm, Satish Kaushik sits before the monitor and gives cue to his artistes. They are shooting a suhaag raat scene between Shilpa and Anil. Anil clad in a white kurta and jasmine flowers rolled over his wrist has to swagger into the room and frighten his bashful bride. The shot is Okayed in the first take!

Kaushik explains that Badhai Ho Badhai is a social drama, “There is a lot of emotion and as usual my story takes up for a woman’s cause.” Shilpa seated beside her director says it’s a privilege to be working with Kaushik and Anil Kapoor. Anil Kapoor pats his own back and they move on to pan the next shot.

Its 7 pm and time for a snack break. While the camera unit gets ready for the next location, Kaushik takes me on a stroll on the sets, points to a spacious terrace festooned with trees. He points to the blooming flowers and informs that all the plants are artificial “But they look so real that even I forget that the garden is not for real, that’s the magic of cinema.”

Kaushik leads me upstairs and proudly shows me the other rooms, stops to examine the balcony surrounded by bougainvillea flowers and announces with a certain sadistic pleasure announces that even the bougainvilleas are plastic. We return to the original sets and by now the lighting is done and the shot is ready. This time, it is a more serious scene. Shilpa has to render a long speech and expose the fraud Anil Kapoor. At the end of it, Anil is embarrassed and renders a long explanation.

Outside, the skyline is pitch dark and covered with fog. It is 9 pm but the unit has a long way to go. Anil Kapoor escorts me to my car, says usually it is 10-10 shift but with the long celebrations on the sets it will be a late night, not the best way to start a New Year but what to do?”

What happened when the film was released a year later? Will tell you tomorrow, stay clued in…