Monthly Archives

October 2019

How do I write…Why do I write…? – Day 1668

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Growing up in a small home I was used to sharing my writing desk with my other siblings and the desk was large enough to preserve all our notebooks without coming in the way of each other. One day, I had scribbled my essay for college and gone out without settling the books in the drawer as our parents had trained us to and when I came home, my eldest brother who happened to have  read the essay remarked, ‘Do you know you can write, I mean you have the making of a writer’.

 

I was too young to understand the implications but a few months later, my college professor asked me to join the magazine team. My story published in the college magazine caught the attention of a budding publisher who operated from the building adjoining to my college and hired me as an intern. Post my daily lectures I  walked across to his office and spent  two hours writing disjointed paragraphs of various stories he asked me to for which I was paid a monthly fee of rupees 100.

 

Then one day, I read an advertisement in the paper inviting college students for a walk-in interview at the ball room, Taj Mahal Hotel. The room was house-full and I was surprised when I got confirmed for the job on the very same day.  I rejected the offer because I was suspicious but they kept chasing me as if I was the last talent in the country and I relented because they offered me a salary of rupees 500 a month.

 

This must be in the year 1977…Ever since I am writing….

To be continued

@bhawanasomaaya

Unstoppable Bachchan – Day 1667

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I am often asked how was the experience of doing three books on the millennium star Amitabh Bachchan and I am always flustered how to respond to this question. The fact is that all the three books were unplanned and they happened I guess because they had to happen.

 

The first Amitabh Bachchan : The Legend  released in 1999 is a chronicle on the superstar. It was the first biography in the form of conversation and followed the life and career of the superstar looking at all the highs, the lows and all the milestones that shaped his career. A candid, compassionate story of a sensitive man and a brilliant actor…

 

The second Bachchanalia released in 2009 is a documentation of all his film posters decorated with filmography and trivia featuring his costars and filmmakers. It was an impressively produced book and a collector’s item for all Bachchan fans.

 

The third, Amitabh Lexicon released in 2011 is a book I am extremely proud of, a compilation of selective words from the alphabets of the English  language associated with different scenes from the actor’s body of work – scenes where he made you cry, laugh and all shook up. The book is a celebration of Bachchan’s magnificent and extensive body of work.

 

There is one more book that rests within my heart but I don’t know when I will write it, my observations of Bachchan the man behind the actor.

 

@bhawanasomaaya

 

 

Movie Review: The Sky Is Pink – DAY 1666

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50 shades of Marriage

 

Film: The Sky is Pink

Date: 11 October 2019

Director: Shonali Bose

Writers: Shonali Bose, Juhi Chaturvedi

Cast:  Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Farhan Akhtar, Zaira Wasim, Rohit Suresh Saraf

Ratings: 2. 5 stars

 

Shonali Bose made her debut film Ammu in 2005. Almost a decade later she made her second film Margarita with a Straw about a cerebral palsy affected heroine and her third film, The Sky is Pink tells about another genetic infirmity SCID ( Severe Combined Immunodeficiency Disorder).

The difference being that while Margarita with a Straw sidestepped all sentimentality, The Sky is Pink wallows in it. This is the story of a marriage; rather a family, spanning 25 years and told through the lens of their sassy, sardonic, teenage daughter Aishu now in her graveyard!

Niren/ Farhan Akhtar and Aditi Choudhary/ Priyanka Chopra Jonas carry a rare gene that produced a disorder in their firstborn Tanya who they eventually lost. Their second child Ishaan/ Suresh Saraf is normal and the third Aishu/ Zaira Wasim is born with the same disorder but this time the parents put up a brave fight before they give up.

An expensive treatment of bone marrow transplant in London leads to pulmonary fibrosis and as the medical complications multiply the couple is forced to live apart – Niren with Ishaan in Delhi and Aditi with Aishu in London but as the waiting gets longer the family lives under one roof but it is not easy.

There are ample moments that touch your heart…Niren pleading for aid at the radio station amazingly performed by Farhan Akhtar…Aditi capturing her daughter suddenly walking or consoling her disturbed son on a long-distance call…The climax though predictable is restrained and has deeper insights.

The main problem for me is the structure – there are too many flashbacks and flash-forwards spanning almost three decades where locations/ climate/ hairstyle/ wardrobe/ lifestyle alter but the couple never looks weary, old or out of shape. The narrative after a point becomes invasive and prevents you from absorbing the tragedy. There’s too much of chatter and the heart yearns for silences.

It is unconvincing that the normal sibling/ Ishaan never feels deprived of his parents’ attention and does not nurse mixed emotions towards his ailing sibling. It is unconvincing that the parents never fantasize about escape from their situation.  At some point one expects super mom Aditi to break down but not to land up in a mental hospital!

The Sky Pink is based on the life of a real family depicted in the end credits and true stories are usually heart-rending but sometimes the characters get over-involved in the adaptation and then the screenplay gets lost in the projection. Probably that is what has happened with writer/ director Shonali Bose. She appears too involved with the star parents and the real parents and missed out on the raw pain that should have pierced the heart.

It is a long and extremely slow-paced film, so watch it for the explosive Priyanka Chopra and the understated Farhan Akhtar portray 50 shades of marriage.

@bhawanasomaaya

 

Farewell Devis – Day 1665

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The most well-known amongst the mother Goddesses is Goddess Lakshmi, who originated from the sagar manthan. According to the legend when the devtaa and the asura began churning the ocean, 14 objects emerged from the sea and the last was Lakshmi, seated on a lotus holding precious jewels in her hand. Lord Vishnu immediately chose her as his consort.

 

Goddess Durga /Amba are manifestations of Shakti created to nurture good and vanquish evil. The fable has it that when demon Mahishasura was unconquerable, Lord Bhrma, Vishnu and Shiva concentrated energy to create Durga, the Goddess extraordinaire to combat the evil! Sculpted from the essence of the Trinity, she was bestowed with exclusive armor that would revoke her invincible.

 

According to poet Bana in the seventh Century, demons Shumbha and Nishumbha, two megalomaniacs, dreamt of ruling the universe. One day, Shumbha sent his aides with his marriage proposal to the beautiful Goddess Kali. She was outraged by Shumbha’s audacity and perished Chanda, Munda the demon’s messengers, then the brothers Shumbha, Nishumbha and finally the demon, Raktabeeja too.

Goddess Vaishno Devi was created in order to control evil forces. It is believed that Goddess Lakshmi, Saraswati and Kali combined their powers to produce a Goddess who would free humanity from suffering and this would be possible after severe penance and timeless devotion.

 

To be continued

@bhawanasomaaya

Uneven – Day 1664

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All art is about perception and an eclectic artist of Indian origin Aditya pursued his education in Fine Arts. His technical expertise manifests gaiety exuding from his canvases, transporting the viewer into his bold yet dynamic dream-like World.  Says Aditya, “I approach my canvas with a free mind …I descend on it with an open heart, captivated by my intuition and follow the brush where ever it takes me… My journey as an artist started with free and unfettered expressions. It was freedom born out of freedom…”

His lines and brushstrokes denote frantic energy and simmering passions. There are emotive distortions, an effort to achieve maximum effects with minimum lines. Some find him a revolutionary, some a desolate dreamer. His art has been showcased at several exhibitions, participated in several festivals.

He works with Acrylic, Ink, Watercolor and Mixed Media combining the conventional and the unconventional techniques to create his artwork often spilling over to music and sculpting. Aditiya is the great-grandson of the legendary Ashok Kumar and the son of actors, Anooradha Patel and Kanwaljit Singh.

Uneven is going to be inaugurated by Amitabh Bachcan and Javed Akhtar  and will be showing at the Jehangir Art Gllery from 16 October onwards.

 

@bhawanasomaaya

Remembering the Princess – Day 1663

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Vasutra strives to revive and preserve the traditional crafted weave and designs that ensure the status handmade as a catalyst towards socio-economic empowerment. The collection is a culmination of extensive research and design intervention to produce the best of Indian textiles through a consortium of artisans with their artistry

 

Vasutra is a platform for artisans who are Karigaars, national awardees, state awardees, unsung weavers with Karigari par excellence.  The idea is to aid artists, weaves and craftsmen to become self-sustaining custodians of their crafts.

The event showcased the pride weaves, crafts and wares of India that range from the creations of five Royal families working on reviving textiles native to their region, to exquisite Asian vintage furniture handcrafted by artisans using old fashioned techniques.

It will bring together artisans and karigars, many of whom are National and State Award Winners at “Remembering the Princess,” a tribute to the aura of Rajmata Gayatri Devi – her personification of royalty, elegance, style with panache, unapologetic boldness, compassion and an unconventional love story; on her birth centenary, showcasing her inimitable style.

 

 

@bhawanasomaaya

 

Movie Review: War Day 1662

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Watch War for Hrithik Roshan, Tiger Shroff, and their sizzling chemistry

 

Film: War

Date: 02.10.2019

Producer: Aditya Chopra

Director: Siddharth Anand

Writers: Abbas Tyrewala, Shridhar Raghavan, Siddharth Anand

Music: Vishal- Shekhar

Cast: Hrithik Roshan, Vani Kapoor, Tiger Shroff

 

Ratings:  4 stars

 

Whether he hops out of the chopper bruised and muddy or walks to attack his oppressor in a public café, there is a determined gaze about Kabir. His mind is ticking all the time and he is cautious even when he is not looking. There is restraint in his responses, he takes time to react, to befriend and time to share secrets as well. He is surgical but sincere, tough on his team but thoughtful too.

There are some audiences like me who don’t enjoy watching war films and make up their minds about on the basis of the film posters or trailers. So let me clarify that Aditya Chopra’s War is not about fighting on the battleground but fighting against terrorism and the original title of the film was Fighters which got changed to War when it was time for the trailers.

So this war is fought from lavish rooftops of big cities, machine guns fired from choppers and fancy cars blown into the sea. The negative characters travel all over the world on fake passports and fake identities and never get caught. It is a patriotic film yes but with all the magic and masala of a mainstream movie. There is color, music, glamour, and promise of permanence but you soon realize it is a mirage and like the characters in the film you are guessing till the very end.

The most attractive thing about Aditya Chopra produced War is the treatment and the packaging. It has super cinematography and outstanding action! A gripping screenplay combined with razor-sharp editing evolved writing, terrific dialogues, intriguing locations, and characters. Thriller movies are usually not high on emotion quotient but this one is an exception. The characters go through a roller coaster ride and the audience through so many twists and turn that they are guessing till the end!

Vaani Kapoor has a brief but an effective presence.  This undoubtedly Tiger Shroff’s best so far. Hrithik Roshan proves yet again that he is a master of all genres and all roles. After playing Anand Kumar in Super 30 he lends new energy and attitude to the ever cautious Kabir who in a way determines the tone of the film!!

The credit for this goes to director Siddharth Anand who serves us a well-meaning thriller without compromising on message or entertainment. There is no gender discrimination, in fact, all important decisions are taken by the women – Soni Razdan, Vaani Kapoor and Hrithik’s Kerala colleague and there is no talking down either, relieved to finally watch a child on screen who is normal and individualistic.

Does it mean I have no objection to the film, of course, I do? The background score in the action sequence broke my eardrums and the gory violence in the climax where Hrithik pulls out a nail from his palm and a bullet from his chest is too much to bear.

War is a modern, stylishly mounted; the contemporary film that celebrates the nation but also technology and the effort needs to be lauded.

Watch War for Hrithik Roshan, Tiger Shroff, and their sizzling chemistry.

Bhawana Somaaya

 

Navratri Day 4 – Day 1661

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Almost a decade later it needed another Gujarati director to convert the household folklore ‘Hey rang lo…’ into ‘Hey ram re…’ featuring Rekha and Amitabh clicking to dandiyaas in Manmohan K Desai’s Suhaag.

 

Ketan Mehta revealed glimpses of the authentic art form in Bhavni Bhavai and a few years later in Mirch Masala where garba was portrayed in its purest form with magical visuals of the village belles bending and twirling in mirror work skirts, clapping and racing in circles.

 

In the 80s Aamir Khan and Juhi Chawla comfortably converted the folk dance in to the universally accepted disco dandiya for Love Love Love and in the 90s filmmaker Vinay Shukla celebrated Shabana Azmi’s victory as a political leader with a robust all female dace ‘Raja ki kahani..’ in Godmother.

 

@bhawanasomaaya

 

Navratri Day 3 – Day 1660

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Sanjay Leela Bhansali who portrayed vibrant garbas in Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam is a much in demand director during the festival and it is because he makes it a point  to travel all over Gujarat during these nine days to study and appreciate new dance forms of India. Bhansali believes that if we can travel across continents to attend film festivals why not our states to gaze the culture. The filmmaker says the masti, the magic and the sound of dhol is enough to get the adrenaline flowing.

 

As the city gears up for nine musical nights, I list my memorable navratri moments on the big screen…

 

The first time the audience was introduced to Gujarat’s traditional garba was in Govind Saraiya’s Saraswati Chandra in 1968 and even though ‘Main to bhool chali babool ka desh…’ was not exactly an ode to the Goddess it was a musical moment to present a turning point in the film.

 

@bhawanasomaaya