Monthly Archives

April 2018

Jai Sri Krishna (Day 1329)

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It all began with me reading an announcement of a new ballet on Lord Krishna to be performed by a group never heard of before. There are already so many ballets on the deity and they become all the more visible during Janmashtami so I was curious how different this one was going to be and put the cutting on my social media asking the producer to get in touch with me.

A few days later I got a call from Sachin from Globus who was the caretaker of this mammoth project. He spoke extensively to me on the telephone and to ensure me that his show was different from anything I had watched so far mailed me pictures of the ballet. I was attracted to the images and when I read the concept I became all the more curious to watch the concert.

Come Sunday I drove to Rang Sharda Auditorium in Bandra and came home strangely rejuvenated.

Details on the coming days…


Movie Review: October (Slow, silent and sensitive) Day 1328

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Slow, silent and sensitive

Film: October

Date: 13 April 2018

 Director: Shoojit Sircar

Writer/Screenplay/Dialogues: Juhi Chaturvedi

Cast: Varun Dhawan, Banita Sandhu, Gitanjali Rao

The film opens to the grandeur of a Seven Star Hotel as guests walk into the lobby and inquire about their rooms.

Behind the dazzling lobby and the sparkling wine glasses on the dressed up dinner tables are the overstressed, overworked trainees going through the daily grind of cleaning, swabbing, cutting, chopping, laundering and making beds for the guests.

They work late and long hours and return exhausted to a poky rented apartment shared by many, eat boiled rice with pickle and fall asleep.

On duty, they are forever watched by the cameras and told time and again by the boss that if they are expelled from training for misconduct or poor performance they would have to pay a penalty of rupees 3 lakhs.

This keeps most of them on their toes except the forever distracted Dan/Varun Dhawan who is characteristically negligent and suffers from unexplained misplaced aggression.

A tragedy occurs in the hotel which affects all the trainees and transforms Dan forever.

Director Shoojit Sircar has claimed in all his interviews that October is not a love story but a story about love. This is true…

One can describe October as a story about relationships where strangers bond over a crisis or as a story of changing seasons where fragrant flowers blossom after the dry leaves wither away in autumn.

Or better still, as a story of everyday struggle.  Dan works by day at the hotel and spends the night watching over Shiuli/ Banita Sandhu at nights and you discover that there is a lot in common between the two surroundings – the sound making machines, the systems, and people.

The merits of the film are the characters, the writing, the humor, music and lyrical cinematography. The demerits are the slow pace, a deliberately delayed narrative and a predictable end.

In his 13-year-old career, director Shoojit Sircar has addressed rare issues and broken many rules. His Yahaan 2005 was about Kashmir, Vicky Donor / 2012 about infertility, Madraas Café / 2013 about Sri Lanka, Piku / 2015 about a hypochondriac single father and Pink / 2017 about rape!

In October Sircar treads a comparatively simplistic terrain devoid of intrigue or complexity and like always extracts strong performances from the team, Banita Sandhu and Gitanjali Rao as Shiuli’s Amma.

Varun Dhawan emerges as a dependable actor be it Badlapur or Judwaa 2 and embraces Dan with a rare curiosity and an innocence that touches our hearts.

October is not everyone’s idea of entertainment, but for those seeking quietude and the fragrance of flowers, this is a soothing experience.

I rate October with 3.5 stars.

Bhawana Somaaya

Abraham v/s Arora (Day 1327)

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John Abraham, Director of M/s JA Entertainment has filed three criminal complaints against Prernaa Arora and her company, KriArj Entertainment for cheating, breach of trust, defamation and offenses committed under the Information Technology Act.


These complaints were filed last week at Khar Police Station, Mumbai. Actor John Abraham, through his production house JA Entertainment Pvt. Ltd. had signed a Co-production agreement with Prernaa Arora’s company Kriarj Entertainment Pvt. Ltd. wherein Kriarj had agreed to pay Rs 35 crores to John’s company to cover the cost of production, fees of all actors and other production-related expenses and bear the Print and Advertisement expenses (P&A) for the film Parmanu- The Story of Pokhran against which John had agreed to assign the exploitation rights and 50% IPR of the film to Prernaa’s company.


However, after Prernaa’s repeated delays in making payments by stopping cheque payments and giving wrong bank transfer details (UTR numbers) at every stage and refusal to pay the last tranches of payment, which were critical for completing the post-production work of the film, John followed the due process as laid down by law.


He first served her a legal notice but when Prerrna failed to cure the breaches, John terminated his agreement with her in order to save his film after which Prernaa filed a criminal complaint against John and made defamatory statements against him in the media. When John learned that Prerna had started blocking the online publicity materials launched by him for the promotion of his film and had, without his knowledge recovered monies in excess of what she had to pay him from various third parties without paying his dues John decided enough was enough.



The story of In between (Day 1326)

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Shikhandi is perhaps one of the earliest transgender characters known in history/mythology. She appears in the Mahabharata and plays a crucial part in winning the battle of Kurukshetra for the Pandavas. Shikhandi was meant to be born male to avenge an insult in her past life as Amba b ut the bigger karmic game unfolds when she is reborn female, raised male, has a sex change on her wedding night when she runs away to the forest (thanks to a Yaksha), and finally fulfills her destiny – to be the cause of Bhishma’s death.

A comic, tongue-in-cheek, retelling of the story of Shikhandi, mixing traditional Indian storytelling and contemporary English verse, and questioning gender, sexuality, maleness, femaleness and everything in between, the play was runner-up at the Sultan Padamsee Playwriting Awards 2016.

Written and directed by Faezeh Jalali the play stars MeherAcharia-Dar, Mahnaz Damania, Vikrant Dhote, Karan Desai, Nikhil Murali, Srishti Srivastava, Nakul Bhalla/Tushar Pandey and Kartavya Anthwaal Sharma/ Abhishek Chauhan and  is restricted to  adult audience.



Waiting for October (Day 1325)

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All of us know about how Varun Dhawan met Shoojit Sircar in his tracksuit and landed the role of role of Dan in October.  What attracted Shoojit was his ruffled hair and clumsy ways of dropping a tea glass and trying in vain to pick up the pieces. Shoojit clicked a video of the same and sent it to his writer Juhi and producer with a text that he had found his Dan.

Those who work with Shoojit know that he believes in extensive preparation and Varun Dhawan was not spared of the rehearsals. Dhawan plays a Hotel Management Student in the film and endured a vigorous workshop entailing all the chores of a trainee which includes washing toilets, cleaning dishes, vacuuming and cooking so that he picked the right mannerisms required for the character.

11.04.2018 aSince most of the shooting took place in a real 5-star hotel lodging foreign guests Varun was often mistaken for a  staff and asked to run errands for the guest and he did often unaware that Shoojit Sircar was hiding somewhere with his camera and shooting these authentic moments.


102 Not Out (Day 1324)

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Amitabh Bachchan and Rishi Kapoor have been paired several times together but never have they played father and son. In 102 Not Out based on playwright Saumya Joshi’s well known Gujarati play by the same name and directed by Umesh Shukla Bachchan has encountered the most unusual experiences one of which includes riding a rickshaw.

The unit was worried how they would be able to control the crowd but the shoot was completed without any obstruction. 102 Not Out is being touted as the most unusual love story between a father and his son and will release in the theatres in May.


Dada turns author (Day 1323)

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It was an evening to remember because everyone interested in cricket and Saurav Ganguly former India captain, brilliant batsman and entertainer par excellence was present for the book release and Dada as he is fondly addressed by all did not let them down.

The bonus was the presence of Sachin Tendulkar who did the honors of launching the book and to make the evening all the more interesting Sachin Tendulkar combined with Rohit Sharma engaged Sourav Ganguly in an engaging conversation.

Poolside Lawns of Taj Lands End, Bandra has seen many book launches but this one was truly special.



Movie Review: Blackmail is a bitter tale of life Day 1322

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Film: Blackmail

Date: April 06.04.2018

Producer: T series & RD Productions

Director: Abhinay Deo

Writer: Parveez Sheikh/ Screenplay, Pradhuman Singh Mall/ Dialogues

Cast: Irrfan Khan, Kirti Kulhari, Divya Dutta, Arunoday Singh, Omi Vaidya


Dev/ Irrfan Khan on the surface appears a normal man at a normal job of a sales executive with a toilet brand paper. He leaves his home at the allotted time and spends 12 hours by the clock at his work station. He returns home late every night, microwaves his dinner and falls asleep.

As the story progresses you discover that Dev is not as uncomplicated as he seems. He has strange toilet and bedroom habits and is forever lost in his thoughts. He is visibly unhappy and on the advice of his colleague Dev decides to add spice to his life and surprise his wife but is in for a big surprise himself!

The positives of the film are the plot, treatment, humor, music and refreshing writing. This is the first time a subject like blackmail is treated as a black comedy and the result is both hilarious and disturbing.

The negatives are the slow pace and the lose editing. All the characters are weird and self-centered including Kirti Kulhari’s old and ailing parents.  We all know that the universe is made up of strange characters and we meet the oddest bunch – Kirti Kulhari, Arunodaya Singh, Divya Dutta, Omi Vaidya in Blackmail.

The weirdest of them all is the middle age/middle class Irrfan Khan dragging feet in a loveless marriage and a mundane job only so that he can pay off his EMI loans.

In the 2 hour 29 minute film, you travel a web of lies, deceit, ambition and extreme greed. As the complex characters grope with self-created calamities, you are a witness to their shallow world devoid of emotional intimacy and self-worth.

The supporting cast is spectacular and Irrfan Khan as always embraces his character and makes him relatable. The real hero of the film is director Abhinay Deo who repeatedly thinks out of the box be it the cult Delhi Belly 2011  or the sensational  TV series 24. This time Deo exposes  middle-class aspirations in a metropolis where everyone is in the rat race for money!

Blackmail is filled with laughter but like all bitter truths of life it is dark and disturbing.

I rate Blackmail with 3.5 stars.

Bhawana Somaaya/ @bhawanasomaaya


Padman v/s Akshay Kumar (Day 1321)

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Padman was due for release and Akshay Kumar was in the news, while many were looking forward to the taboo subject on the big screen there were many who revealed that they would not be comfortable watching the subject with the family in the theatres. Many friends asked me why Akshay Kumar chose the subjects he did.

Starting as an action hero and peaking as a Khiladi star Akshay Kumar has consciously transformed his image into a socially conscious actor thereby choosing films as a weapon to make a difference. What’s important is that given his stardom all these films have done well at the box-office and got him under the social spotlight.



Republic Day (Day 1320)

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Two subjects I hate writing a column are the Republic Day and the Independence Day, I just hate to recount all the patriotic moments in our cinema because I truly believe patriotism is in my heart and not for display but a newspaper has its demands and I was asked to write something close to the topic.

I suggested to my editor that I will present it from a fresh perspective and Unadkat sporting as always agreed. There are kinds and kinds of columnists, those who write in close coordination with the editor and those who like to surprise him. Having been in the business for too many decades I prefer to be in harmony with my editor, I like to tell him what I am writing rather and he appreciates my interaction.

For the special issue, I looked at Hindi cinema over the years and how much we had progressed since independence.