Monthly Archives

February 2018

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Mesmerizing in chiffon (Day 1283)

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I was on the sets with Shekhar Kapur when he was briefing her just before shooting the ‘I love you’ song in Mr. India. Shekhar explained the scene and what he expected from her in the dance. She listened to him blankly and repeated the same to her sister Srilatha who stood beside her.  Later I asked Shekhar what was her motive for explaining the scene to her sister and Shekhar reflected for a moment and said, “I don’t know but maybe that is her way of processing.” When the camera turned on, Sridevi was magical, an absolute joy to watch her sway without abandon, her Blue chiffon flying in the air.

 

The 80s introduced two heroines from down South, Sridevi, and Jaya Prada and for a while, it seemed that Jaya Prada would become the bigger star because of her conventional beauty but Sridevi surpassed all her rivals to the number one position. The Tamil and the Telegu film industry never really forgave Mumbai for stealing their brightest star and for a long time they were in serious mourning but they were happy that Sridevi made a place for herself in Hindi films and did it on her merit.

 

To be continued…

@bhawanasomaaya 

Photo courtesy: Hindustan Times

Fare well Sridevi (Day 1282)

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The first time I heard of Sridevi was in the early 1980s. Actor Jeetendra mentioned her in his interview to me and later took to me watch some songs of Himmatwala in which Sridevi was being launched. “Look at the way she dances and the way she performs and let me tell you she does not know a word of Hind. Mark my words this girl is going to be a sensation”.

Over the decades I interviewed Sridevi a number of times, but she was always a fortress you could not fathom. She spoke very little and mostly answered the questions you put to her in mono-syllables. When you asked her controversial questions she rolled her eyes and said “Ask Mummy”.

She was not bothered that the media made fun of her and labeled her ‘thunder thighs’ because her endorsement came from her filmmakers. Most of the time the filmmakers were never sure if she understood what they explained before a shot because she was usually blank in her expressions with them. But once the camera was turned on, she transformed into a livewire, she was like an apsara from the heaven who danced into the hearts of her audiences…

To be continued…

@bhawanasomaaya

4.b. market 2

Soaking in Ambience (Day 1281)

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Nostalgia is a heady emotion and a Deja Vu trip cannot be planned, it just happens. Circumstances lead you to it and you go with the flow.  The family is in a mellow mood and we have jointly agreed to do everything that we have done earlier. Visit the same places, eat the same food and walk the same streets. It is a cold day but it is refreshing to be out of the house. Sometimes to resolve conflict it’s important to get away from the premise.

4.c. market 3We do that, we stroll on the streets aimlessly as if completing all that was left incomplete and in the process find tentative solace.  Sometimes, just being amidst crowds, amidst strangers, just watching them go about their lives is therapeutic. We have walked long miles and are exhausted.  It is still freezing and from the skyline, it appears as if there will be snow.

 

@bhawanasomaaya

3. train

Discovering city (Day 1280)

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To discover a new city you have to experience the public transport. I did not travel by the train or by the bus on my last trip to Berlin but this time I wanted to experience the journey. We boarded the train from a station close to our home.  A small walk, a small bridge and we were on a deserted station. The train arrived empty as per schedule and as I found a window seat to watch the city go by I wondered where the people of Berlin were hiding.

Within ten minutes we had arrived at our destination and I was happy to discover a few passengers on the train and a few more at the station.  As I climbed the over the bridge to make it to the city I thought of Farhan Akhtar’s Dil Chahta Hain where Preity Zinta is deserted on the station harassed by a vagabond until Farhan arrives in time to save her from the scare. I asked my companion if such incidents are common in Berlin and he clarifies that as such there are no beggars in the city “And if in case they are found the police is alerted and they are taken away at once”.

 

@bhawanasomaaya

2. a. mall 1

Malls are identical

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In the good old days for most Indians traveling abroad meant spending all your time in the malls. The hostess dropped her guests at a mall before she went to work and when she met them up during her lunch break we dumped the shopping bags into her car.

Post lunch usually made up of fast food, the hostess went back to her office and we, back to serious shopping. The adventure lasted till the hostess was ready to pick us again and we drove for a special sit down dinner, which was incidentally the only time we chatted and bonded.

2.b. mall 2Back home and back to our rooms, we reopened our shopping bags and evaluated our expedition. We counted our notes – dollars/ pounds/ euros and made a note to slow down the following day. We didn’t that time but we have now. Shopping is no more an attraction because all malls are identical and one gets almost the same things everywhere.

Before I leave the mall I make sure to take a picture against the festival backdrop. I have attended so many international film festivals over the decades, this time I am not in a mood for cinema.

@bhawanasomaaya

1. berlin

Hello Berlin (Day 1279)

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The last time I visited Berlin was in 1987. I was in London for work and decided to take a halt for a few days. My brother-in-law is settled in Germany since 1969 and is well acquainted with the history of the nation.  In the forthcoming days he gave me a tour of the city and explained the significance of the wall in the lives of the Germans.

 

We carried a camera with us on that day but did not take many pictures because it was difficult requesting a stranger to click a picture for us because very few spoke English in those days. Visiting the city after almost 37 years I discover that English has become a second language and strangers are far more cooperative in   clicking pictures for you.

 

@bhawanasomaaya

16.02.18

Constitution for all (Day 1278)

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Is it possible to frame a constitution that will be fair to all, how can we accomplish that? I believe that the only way we can accomplish it is by being personally responsible. As a woman and as a journalist I have led a secure life and feel fortunate about it.

The world is changing every day and to make our present and our future secure everyone, the media, the government, the police, the law enforcement agencies will have to be sensitized to the victim. We have to all jointly ensure that horrific crimes against women are penalized.

In my opinion cinema in present times has become a major influencer be it Toilet Ek Prem Kath talking about hygiene or Pad Man about menstrual hygiene.

@bhawanasomaaya

15.02.18b

Eliminating Discrimination (Day 1277)

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Discrimination is personal and unless you have faced discrimination you will never exercise it on others. Eminent speakers like Justice Darius Khambata, Sudheen Kulkarni, Divya Alexander, Harish Iyer discussed discrimination against women, media, disabled and most important, against LBGT community. Moderated by Harish M Jagtiani the sparkling discussion was a prelude to the 19th Moot Court Competition 2018.

15.02.18It was a long evening but the audience was patient and the questions kept pouring in so one had to wait and answer all the queries.

 

@bhawanasomaaya

14.02.18

Embracing Diversity (Day 1276)

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D M Harish Memorial Government College has for years celebrated Moot Court which is very popular and actively supported by leading law firms. Prior to the Moot Court, they host a panel discussion at Mumbai University’s Convocation Hall and I was privileged to be a part of that discussion this year.

The event started on time with lamp lighting and all the panelists took the position on stage. I was happy to be seated amidst my fellow journalist Siddharth Bhatia and young politician Milind Deora. The moderator began by asking all the panelists what was their definition of Diversity and it was interesting how all the speakers perceived the topic and connected it to personal anecdotes. The GLC students guarded the floor and the audience comprised distinguished lawyers.

 

@bhawanasomaaya

13.02.18

Decades in cinema (Day 1275)

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So many years later it was interesting to be invited by another group of young girls and briefed for something similar to be addressed to a group of brand heads in Mumbai. I had to speak on Hindi cinema once again and the audience comprised of mainly foreigners. I was surprised at how interested they were in knowing about our icons and listened to me attentively as I traveled

from Silent to Talkies, Black &White to color, neo-realistic to multi-starrers and middle of the road cinema to cinema of age.

Fashion and beauty changed in every decade, while some things changed drastically every few years, many things remained the same. So what is beauty really? Is it conventional, traditional, or modern?  Does it change like fashion or is it all about perception? I feel beauty lies in the eye of the beholder and for me and for cinema beauty has always been more than physical.

 @bhawanasomaaya