Monthly Archives

August 2018

Movie Review: Stree (Day 1414)

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Film: Stree

Date: 31 August 2018

Producer: Dinesh Vijan

Director: Amar Kaushik

Cast: Rajkumar Rao, Shraddha Kapoor, Pankaj Tripathi, Aparshakti Khurana

Music: Ketan Sidha

In 1961 legendary filmmaker V Shantaram told us the story of an empowered woman in his popular film titled Stree.

In 2018 Amar Kaushik tells us the story of a possessed woman inspired from a folk legend in Andhra Pradesh about a bridal ghost who roams every night in search of her husband.

Set in a small town Chanderi known for celebrating the annual puja over four nights, the residents paint ‘O Stree kal aana’ outside their homes to ward off the evil spirit.

Vickey/ Rajkumar Rao is a gifted tailor who encounters a  beautiful mystery girl/ Shradha Kapoor who appears/disappears at her will and asks for strange gifts ( tail of a lizard, hair of a cat) and drives him to remote locations for a date.

The good news is that the film is not as scary as one had anticipated; in fact, the trailer is more terrifying than the film. The screenplay combines fear with humor to present a new genre called Horror Comedy.

There are hilarious moments in the film: When a wife leaves for the temple at night, the fearful husband pleads for her to come back soon and locks himself in the house. Another moment when men move around streets draped in saris because they fear being airlifted by the ghost…

The best moment is where the four friends sit down to analyze the ghost and her characteristics and sum her up as literate but low IQ, obedient but tormented soul.

The narrative breaks many stereotypes: One, those young boys don’t pursue their father’s profession, Vicky does and excels!  Two, that small town dads don’t discuss the birds and the bees with their sons. Vicky’s dad does and elaborately. Three, men are fearless and court dangers, not in Chanderi definitely!

The main problem with the film is that a lot is left unexplained. Till the end of the film Rajkumar Rao is unable to figure out Shraddha Kapoor’s name/ number/ address. He does not ask her why she deserted him on a remote location in the middle of the night and most importantly, the climax is too simplistic. The hero and his friends are like Enid Blyton’s characters we read in childhood who join the dots and resolve the mystery.

Must you watch Stree? Yes, for the engaging characters, the crackling dialogues and the supporting performances particularly Pankaj Tripathi and Aparshakti Khurana. Shradh Kapoor as the mystery girl is intriguing – she is the new age Wo Kaun Thi.

And most important for Rajkumar Rao – whether he is speedily churning out skirt on a sewing machine, assuming measurements of his female customers or interacting with his boisterous friends Rao is as always first rate!

I rate the not so scary Stree with 3 stars.

Bhawana Somaaya

Kalpana Lajmi pens a memoir on Dr. Bhupen Hazarika (Day 1413)

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Filmmaker Kalpana Lajmi is all set to release a memoir, “Bhupen Hazarika – As I knew him” on 8 September, Hazarika’s 91st birthday. The book comprises 12 of  Hazarika’s songs translated into English by writer Muni Kabir and illustrated by the well know artist Lalitha Lajmi. With this book, Kalpana aims to take his work of 75 years to a global platform, befitting the chair that already exists in his name at Harvard University.

 

Lajmi who took one year to complete the book, says “I want the world to know what a great ma and artist he was. He was a painter, sculptor, poet all bundled in one and which is why I felt this book had to be done. This would not have been possible without the support of Ranjit Barthakur, Balipara Foundation & IndusInd Bank. I am also grateful to Shyam Benegal, Prasoon Joshi, Mahesh Bhatt, Adil Hussain and Huma Qureshi, who have agreed to read passages from the book at the book launch.”

Bhupen Hazarika’s crusade to unite people through his music is admirable and which is why he is looked upon as the messiah of Asam. On the day of the launch will be performances from renowned artists like violinist Sunita Bhuyan, singer Pankhi Dutta, and a dance recital by Tagore School of Music.

@bhawanasomaaya

Kajol returns to college (Day 1412)

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Helicopter Eela has been delayed by a few weeks because its filmmaker Pradeep Sarkar is down with dengue, however, the film actors Kajol and Riddhi Sen are continuing to promote the film. Recently they participated in a local college festival held at the university campus and were excited to be amidst so many students.

Since the movie is based on a mother studying at the same college as his son, they decided it was best to launch the new track of music amidst enthusiastic students. Amit Trivedi has composed the music for this interesting number, while Swanand Kirkire has penned the lyrics. Singer-actor Palomi Ghosh has sung Yaadon Ki Almari and reveals that she had  a ball recording the audio, she says “ Pradeep dada said I was Eela’s voice, so I could approach the songs as an actor, I am grateful that he thought that I could do this.”

Palomi reveals that she had to go back into her own memories for this special song. She says, “ some meethi, some khaari memories but all worthwhile in the end ”.

@bhawanasomaaya

My new book Keshava: A Magnificent Obsession is now listed on Amazon. For order click here: https://amzn.to/2vogOtk

Movie Review: Happy Phirr Bhag Jayegi (Day 1411)

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Film: Happy Phirr Bhaag Jayegi
Date: 24.08.2018

Producer: Krishika Lulla, Anand .L.Rai
Writer-Director: Mudassar Aziz
Cast: Jimmy Shergill, Sonakshi Sinha, Diana Penty, Denzil Smith, Jassi Gill, Bijou Thaangjam, Jason Tham
Music: Sohail Sen

In 2016 filmmaker Anand Rai introduced us to Happy/ Diana Penty who eloped on her wedding night to marry Guddu/ Ali Fazal and mistakenly landed across the border.

In 2018 Anand Rai introduces us to another Happy, Harpreet Kaur/ Sonakshi Sinha, a budding professor of horticulture.

Both land at the Shanghai Airport by the same flight and predictably get into the wrong car, as a result, Happy No: 1/ Diana accompanying singer husband Guddu is driven to the university campus while happy No: 2 /Sonakshi is kidnapped by Chinese villain Chang and his team.

Chang also kidnaps Daman Singh Bagha/ Jimmy Shergill from India and Usman Afrida/ Piyush Mishra from Pakistan who was an integral part of the prequel and therefore essential to the sequel.

Happy Phir Bhaag Jayegi is a simple story about simple people, all fascinating characters absorbed in their unique eccentricities.

Deliciously written and packed with witty, saucy dialogues commenting on Indo-Pak and Indo-China equations, here is an intelligent, socially relevant screenplay that nobody can object to.

The first half of the film rolls faster than anticipated. The second half is a tad lengthy but the editor grips you with her sharp cuts and even though the music is not exactly thrilling, the title track is energetic and the background score just perfect for the location.

Writer-director Muddasar Aziz expertly balances emotion with humor ably supported by ensemble performances from a sparkling team of actors be it Aparshakti Khurana or Jeeveshi Ahluwalia highly effective in cameos.

Piyush Mehra is as always effortless, Denzil Smith hilariously dramatic and Jessie Gill, the surprise packet of the film, his monologues particularly are applause-worthy!
Jimmy Shergill like old wine, gets better with every new film and character, and as Bagha delivers his most spirited and uninhibited performance, watch him break into a jig wearing the Superman costume and you will start clapping.

Sonakshi Sinha as the vibrant Harpreet Kaur from Amritsar is spontaneous and makes certain that there’s not a dull moment when she is on screen and is as endearing in her action scenes as in the emotional moments.

Does this mean that there is nothing wrong with the film? Of course not, there are many things unexplained for instance:

Bagga, Usman and Happy have no passports but travel all over Shanghai without obstacles. They have no luggage but change costumes every day and with just one man spending all the money, they dine at the fanciest bars and restaurants.

Doors open for them at China jail and strangest co-incidences work in their favor like they bump into Happy No: 1 just walking on the street and discover Happy 2’s father believe it or not, over an escalator.

These absurdities don’t matter because the bottom line is that Happy Phir Bhaag Jayegi is a fun filled, frothy, refreshing entertainer. Besides, some films are not to be analyzed and judged but relished in their pure essence and Happy Phir Bhaag Jayegi falls into the latter.

Watch Happy Phir Bhaag Jayegi with your friends and family and brighten your weekend.

I rate Happy Phir Bhaag Jayegi with 3.5 stars.

@Bhawana Somaaya

Joining the Dots (Day 1410)

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At the end of the last exercise Priya Kumar made us analyze our progress in a manner that we were able to join the dots of why we do what we do. At the end of the day everybody was emotional; some of us made new friends and kissed each other goodbyes.

That night I could not sleep because I kept thinking of Priya Kumar. What a wonderful woman and what a terrific workshop. She assembled strangers from all around and made them a part of a family in just two days. She participated in all our lives and allowed us to participate in her life. She had her team around her, alert and sensitive to any demand of the candidates. Priya Kumar had touched our hearts and after the workshop I am certain I fear nothing and nobody.

If you are looking to confront your fears and inhibitions, don’t think twice, contact www.priyakumar.in and register if you need more convincing follow her @kumarpriya. Until you do a workshop with #PriyaKumar you will think of her as a magician and when you do the workshop you will discover that her work is sheer magic.

@bhawanasomaaya

Bending the Rod (Day 1409)

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Day 2 had more surprises than I had imagined there were many experiments lined up and nothing appeared remotely easy. In the first half we had to bend an iron rod holding one end at out throat and the other at our partner’s throat. When one walks towards the other the rod bends if you grasp it at the throat at a right angle, if you don’t then you fail in the exercise. I don’t know if it is a miracle but I was able to do it.

Post lunch we had to all swallow a flame. Priya offered a flame made out of cotton that you promptly put it in your mouth. The trick of doing this successfully is to swallow it fast without thinking. Almost everybody was able to do this with the exception of me and a few others. I failed because I wasn’t able to follow the instructions and I wasted time in thinking and time lost cannot be gained.

The last exercise was the scariest – of walking on glass pieces and there was nothing pretentious about it because bottles were broken in front of us and the scattered pieces fitted into the carpet of glass.

Again I offered to walk first and gave it a clear thought of how many steps I would need to take to come out clean and fast. I said my prayers and sailed through the path without bruises. In the action world they say that if you think you can do it you will and if you feel you will bungle it you will a hundred percent get injured. I knew I would be able to walk through the glass pieces unburied and I did.

@bhawanasomaaya

Walking on Fire (Day 1408)

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and then we would go ahead with our outdoor exercise of Walking on the Fire. She wanted all of us to be a part of building the fire and we saw how the flames were ignited. When the flames were loud and fuming, she asked us to get ready and stand in a line to walk on the fire. I initiated the process, stood close to the starting point and calculated my steps. I decided that if I walked fast I would cross the path in four/ five steps and did just that and wonder of wonders I didn’t get burnt.

Many were excited by the process and did it again and again and some were visibly scared but did it all the same. That night I came home a brave heart. Who would have imagined that I would be able to walk on fire? The process had taken away my fear of fire and more important, my perception of fear. Next time I would not be scared of anything, or let me put it this way that next time I would not the imagination of fear come in the way of my adventure.

I had a good night sleep and next morning I was happy to return to the workshop.

@bhawanasomaaya

Breaking the Board (Day 1407)

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So next morning I arrived at the venue full of trepidation. There were brief introductions of the candidates, all from various regions and backgrounds. Priya has a way with words and with people and she has the knack of keeping you engaged, so there we were listening to her pep talk and before we knew it there was the lunch break. Considering we were all meeting for the first time, I sensed no discomfort and everybody was happy to share the table with each other about themselves and about life.

Post lunch we experienced our first exercise –Of breaking the board – where you have to forcefully hit upon the Karate board and break it with your lower portion of the palm. There is a technique involved in the process and those who understood the technique were able to break it. Some of them like me failed to act forcefully and failed. Priya emphasized that being able to break/ not break the board was not important, what was important was to participate in the process.

@bhawanasomaaya

Madhuparna Kummar (Day 1406)

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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.

Post marriage Kumar moved from Kolkatta to Mumbai and was exposed to a variety of dance forms, some she experimented with for adventure 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.

Workshop Invite (Day 1405)

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When something is going to change for you the universe gives you signals. One afternoon as I opened my phone I found a message from motivation speaker Priya Kumar informing me about her much talked about workshop Igniting the Fire Within. I have heard about Priya and her super workshops from a common friend and have always been curious to experience the same.

Everybody knows that Priya Kumar is one of the finest Motivational Speakers in India and overseas with experience of over two decades and has been acknowledged with dozens of awards. Priya’s rather offbeat experiential methods are reflective of self-conquering and shedding inhibitions.

Kumar is not just a speaker but also the fastest writing author in the universe. She has to her credit 10 bestsellers and much more growing in her mind. My instinctive reaction to the message was to enroll in the workshop, however, the night before the big day I could not sleep a wink because I kept wondering if I had made a mistake and will I be able to live up to the expectations? What if I get bored? Just the thought of being cocooned inside a room with complete strangers for two long days was scary but it was too late to backtrack.

@bhawanasomaaya