Monthly Archives

January 2021

Movie Review – The White Tiger – Day 1942

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Film: The White Tiger

Date:  22.01.2021

Director:  Ramin Bahrani

Writer:  Arvind Adiga Ramin Bahrani

Cast: Adarsh Gourav, Priyanka Chopra, Rajkummar Rao

Ratings: 3 stars

This is a strange film where you are disturbed while watching it and disturbed after the film is over.  On the surface, everything is sane and logical but as Balram Halwai/Adarsh Gourav narrates his dark story of rise from poor village in India to successful entrepreneur in modern India, you are rendered speechless by his blind ambition and cold-blooded behaviour.

 Balram is a sharp mind and angry when he is removed from school to toil like his older brother. When he gets older, he is determined to leave this village and follow his dreams and recognizes first the opportunity when the landlord visits the village with his sons. Balram is hired as driver for the America returned Ashok/ Rajkummar Rao and his wife Pinky/ Priyanka Chopra-Jonas) and he makes himself indispensable to his masters.  Life appears rosy until a tragedy occurs and Balram feels betrayed and trapped by the people he served selflessly. It is the beginning of a revolt against an unequal system and a craving for a new identity.

Balram is now a successful entrepreneur writing mails to a Chinese CEO visiting Bangalore for a tech conference. Gourav is proud of his journey and unapologetic about his misdeeds, he says it was necessary to dismantle India’s ancient and crippling caste system. Director Ramin Bahrani’s film is a faithful adaptation of author Arvind Adiga’s 2008 release book by the same title. The Irani-American filmmaker is a keen observer of  society and humanity and this is evident in all his films be it his debut film Man Push Cart to his more recent effort, 99 Homes, where Bahrani through emotionally charged stories questions the economic and political systems of a country, in this case India.

The positives of the film are the writing, cinematography, music. It is not easy to juxtapose the diverse worlds of modern India without becoming judgemental but Bahrani accomplishes that without drama or indulgence. All the performances are first be it Gaurav’s grandmother in the poor village or the autocratic landlord, Mahesh Manjrekar. Rajkumar Rao and Priyanka Chopra are convincing as the America retuned couple but the film finally belongs to the writer Arvind Adiga, to protagonist Adarsh Gourav for making Balram with all his demons so palatable. And finally, to director Ramin Bahrani for serving a dark, demeaning story with a cherry dressing that keeps you wondering what’s going on in the minds of the characters.

Bhawana Somaaya

Writer, coach and finally actor Day 1940 –

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What kept Kher going was his dream that one day he will be able to make a film. He was finalizing his script one afternoon, when he received a call from casting director Mukesh Chabbria’s office asking him to urgently come for an audition. “Mukesh knew me since my NSD days and had called me for various auditions over the years but nothing had clicked so I was apprehensive. This was for Scam 1992 and I did what was expected of me at the audition and came away. I had no expectations from the audition and I was told that director Hansal Mehta had no expectations of me, in fact sir did not believe that I was Gujarati because of my surname and wasn’t confident if I would get the nuances right in my dialogues but then he saw the test and wanted to watch me improvise further. I got a call to reach Hansal Mehta’s office soon. I did and I learnt that Pratik Gandhi was playing the lead.  I calmed down because Pratik and I had worked together and knew we’d be able to connect and that’s what happened. Hansal Sir was watching us and smiling, he had confirmed the younger brother and at that moment, he knew that he had found Harshad’s older brother, Ashwin Mehta as well”.  

When dreams die hard – Day 1939

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During one of the shows, Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Lil Champs he was assigned the responsibility of coaching the kid anchors and his efforts were well appreciated.  Word spreads very fast in the film world and soon Kher was called to coach celebrities on television shows. Life was finally getting comfortable for Hemant Kher and he decided it was time to launch a novel initiative, Rolexplore that would coach actors get into characters.

Says Hemant Kher, “Coaching is an emotional experience for me because when I came to Mumbai, I didn’t have anyone to guide me in my career, therefore, I would like to help as many as I can, so that nobody is lost or sad and does not waste his time or talent”.  Soon Hemant Kher was bored of writing for television and longed to direct his film.

It was not easy to quit television that gave him security but the artiste in him was restless. Opportunities to coach actors continued however and coaching for films was different from coaching for television and Hemant Kher enjoyed exploring characters with Jacky Bhagnani, Neeraj Sood, Pratik Gandhi, and Kritika Kamra for Mitron. Infact Kher was so good at his job that most of the filmmakers wanted him to play a pivotal character in the film as well so there was a part for him in Ravanleela, in Notebook and more…

To be continued…

Meet Ashwin Mehta, older brother of Harshad Mehta – Day 1938

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Hansal Mehta’s Scam 1992 gave birth to a star called Pratik Gandhi for sure, but there was another in the film that everyone noticed and has been curious about ever since, Harshad Mehta’s older brother Ashwin Mehta played by Hemant Kher, whose life turned 360 degrees ever since the serial released on the OTT platform. In show business, it is always that one project that changes destiny and for Hemant Kher that project was Scam 1992.

For years, Hemant Kher struggled for a break in movies but nothing came his way. Grown up in Surat, Kher graduated from NSD in Delhi and arrived in Mumbai with a trunk full of dreams but nothing happened.  Time went by and Kher decided to take whatever came his way, mostly writing assignments. He did non- fiction shows such as Jhalak Dikhla Ja, Just Dance, India’s Best Dramebaaz, Sa Re Ga Ma Pa, Dance India Dance, Indian Idol, Amul Master Chef on television and was appreciated because not everyone can script shows to make them appear unscripted. And Hemant did this for more than ten years writing close to thirty shows.

To be continued…

Movie Review: Tribhanga – Day 1937

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Must for mothers and daughters

Film: Tribhanga

Date: 15.01.2021

Writer-director: Renuka Shahane

Cast: Kajol, Kunal Roy Kapoor, Tanvi Azmi, Mithila Palkar

Stars: 3.5 stars

Legendary writer Nayantara Aapte/ Tanvi Azmi is in a video conversation with her biographer Kunal Roy Kapoor, when she suddenly collapses and is rushed to the hospital where she is declared brain dead. Her daughter Anu/ Kajol is about to make her entry on stage for a dance performance exits the green room and rushes to the hospital wearing her dance costume described as fancy dress by the media.

Tribhang is the story of a family, specifically about a mother and daughter who share a bitter, strained relationship and it is the manner in which the narrative is unfolded that makes the film an engaging watch.

Anu is a classical dancer and views life and relationships through dance positions and in her opinion, her mother, the legendary writer, lived her entire life in the Abhang Position, where the body shifts balance from one side to another, as a result, when Nayantara faced problems with her husband, she walks out on him with her children. When her second marriage fails, she discovers a new relationship and when that fails, she finds solace in alcohol.

Anu describes her daughter Maasha/ Mithila Palkar’s practical choices of marriage and child as the Sabhang Position of Oddisi dance – where the body is equally balanced on both the legs. Maasha maintains a steady balance between her grandparents, uncle, aunt and her large joint family of in-laws with dignity and truth.

And finally, the Tribhang Position where the upper part and the lower part of the body are rhythmically tilted in opposite directions. As a celebrity and a single mother, Anu’s life has been tumultuous loaded with controversies. As a child, she was uprooted from her father, as an adolescent, she disconnected with her mother and post pregnancy, she lost faith in men and marriage.

Detailed writing, engaging narrative, pace and performances are the positives of the film. The What the characters feel and how they express themselves, their costumes, locations, art, cinematography is all real and believable.

The negatives are some exaggerations, a working woman or a single mother in 1986 was not an issue. Some queries are unexplained like Anu’s father Joshi was reluctant to keep the children after their divorce? The frequent flashbacks and flash forwards make a tedious watch, the climax is predictable and the foul language forced!

The take away from the film is that no matter how deeply you care, devote time and love your dear one, there is always a festering wound lurking somewhere and therefore before we judge, it is important to self-examine.

What makes the film special are the three women- the utterly natural Kajol and the dependable Tanvi Azmi on screen and writer/ director Renuka Shahane behind the camera. Tribhang is a must for all mothers and daughters and can be watched on the Netflix.

Bhawana Somaaya

Connected online, disconnected otherwise – day 1936

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A 15-minute short film, Shameless was a finalist at the Best of India Short Film Festival 2020 and also premiered at the New York Indian Film Festival. Hussian Dalal won best actor at the Filmfare Short Film Awards (2019) is now shortlisted for Oscar entry. The film talks about the life of a work-from-home professional, accustomed to ordering consumables from various apps, and who wakes up one day to find himself trapped by an exasperated pizza delivery girl. The film reflects on the lack of empathy after the emergence of technology and raises relevant issues of humanity toward the disadvantaged. We are living in times where we are increasingly online but disconnected with humanity, a fake sense of invincibility where everyone is frail, insecure and pretending to disguise their anxiety. Directed by Keith Gomes the sound of Shameless is by Oscar-winner Resul Pookutty of Slumdog Millionaire fame.

Every Role is special – Day 1935

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With stardom came expectations and inadvertently many adventures, he underwent special training for skate boarding, snowboarding and sand surfing to play the attractive thief in Dhoom 3 and the ease reflected in his performance. For Jodha Akbar he hired three different masters to train him in sword fighting, Urdu dialect and Sufi dancing and for Bhansali’s Guzaarish he spent days with paraplegic patients to understand what goes on in their minds and hearts which again showed in his expressions. To play magician Ethan Mascherenas, he trained under an expert and this reflected in his portrayal. Sometimes, however, his extreme adventures resulted in dangerous accidents. 

During Krrish he went to China to train for action and suffered serious leg injury but did not return till the training was complete. During the shooting of Bang Bang in Thailand he fell from a height and suffered head injury and had to undergo instant brain surgery that kept him out of action for a while but once recovered, Hrithik Roshan was back to spreading his charm on screen.  I have told this story so that next time you see him on screen you don’t think he is just fortunate, but somebody who has fought every battle of life with a smile. Belated Happy Birthday Hrithik, you are an inspiration.


Childhood challenges-Day 1934

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This is true of Hrithik’s life as he has faced various challenges right from childhood and overcame many tragedies with inner conviction.  At age four he was made to feel different from his classmates because he was born with two thumbs on his right hand. As he grew older and went to higher classes, the jokes turned nastier. The isolation affected him to an extent that Hrithik began to stammer and this was a cause of concern for the family.

When he was twelve, his grandfather J Om Prakash cast him in a cameo in Bhagwan Dada where Hrithik had a talking scene and performed flawlessly to everyone’s surprise. The incident made him realize two things: That with determination he can override all his shortcomings and more important, when he grows up, he will become an actor like his father. 

In his early twenties Hrithik was diagnosed with a rare ailment Scoliosis that restricts movement in the body so for almost a year Hrithik observed all precautions but slowly took stock of self and resumed his normal routine that included a run on the beach. One day, while he was running it started raining, so Hrithik slowed down to make sure there were no health complications and then slowly picked up pace. Nothing happened to him, no pains, no cramps and Hrithik knew he was ready for his debut Kaho Na Pyaar Hai. To be continued…

Hrithik is Special – Day 1933

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The OTT platform may be obsessed with realism but there are filmmakers who remain married to escapist cinema and one of them is David Dhawan who recently remade his Coolie No 1 with Varun Dhawan and Saara Ali Khan. “I make entertainers because I enjoy them”. So does director Rohit Shetty who remains obsessed with the police force in his films. On screen it may all appear dramatic but behind the scenes, Shetty is deeply concerned for their welfare. During the lockdown he booked eight hotels to ensure their safety and medical treatment. The same for the daily wagers of the film fraternity.

The pandemic has turned everyone human and also extremely creative. The most innovative idea was designed by Arfeen, who created a Virtual Experience in a 30-foot-high ceilings studio fixed with 12-feet-high projection screens stretching 60-feet wide, thus structuring a 360-degree circle filled with people on the screens. 

This was accomplished with more than hundred computers/ laptops/ countless wires/ ultra-high-speed internet supervised by a relentless team of experts that worked 24X7 to make the system work. Thousands of people across globe joined in at the same time and this magical experience was possible because the best brands came together, mainly Hrithik Roshan, who says, “If you believe in yourself, you are able to overcome every obstacle”.

To be continued…