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December 2021

Movie Review 83 – Day 2102

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83 recreates history

Film: 83

Date: 24.12.2021

Ratings: *****

By Bhawana Somaaya

Kabir Khan directed 83 is the story of the Indian cricket team and the historic win during the World Cup. Everyone is familiar with what happened during that iconic match and how India created history and now filmmaker Kabir Khan and his talented writing team recreates the magical moment on the big screen.
The narrative addresses every query, controversy related to cricket and the players, their passion, obsession, superstitions, regime, personal crisis and we are exposed to their discomforts and discriminations. Along with we travel through the country’s national/ political/ social/ cinematic and cricket milestones during that year, the highs and lows!
It was the year of the war across the border, of communal riots, of dish TVs, of Amitabh Bachchan movies and a 10-year-old Sachin getting ready for the big dream.

From the opening credits to the end credits, the manner in which the film unfolds, the pace, the treatment and the story-telling is spell binding, packed with drama, humour, emotion and excitement and even though you are aware of the outcome, you are screaming out of joy and weeping at the same time.

It does not matter whether you understand cricket or not. It does not matter whether you are a film buff or not because 83 is not about you, it is about India, our self-respect, our glory and our unity!

Whenever something spectacular occurs, something out of ordinary, no matter how earnest the efforts, something always gets left out. In that sense 83 is not an exception, the film has a failing too, the interval.  You resent that small break because you are desperate to get back to the movie, restless to watch Kapil Dev on the playground.

Ranveer Singh as Kapil Dev is the heartbeat of the film, his team, his moral support and Pankaj Tripathi as Man Sigh, the conscience of the team players. Deepika Padukone brightens the screen in a cameo. Watch out for her when she reprimands the British reporter.

Watch 83 with your entire family, all your neighbours, all your friends, even your enemy and carry with you, your cricket caps, whistles and the national flags because this theatrical experience is in no way different from the stadium experience. I am proud to say that film 83 gives viewers as much joy as the year 1983 gave to our nation! With a big salute to Kapil Dev and to Kabir Khan team, I rate, for the first time in my career as a film critic, a  film with 5 stars.
Jai Hind!

Promise not kept – Day 2101

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Govinda had begun shooting and the family made sure that he remained focused on his work. Nirmala Devi was ailing but she made it a point to sit up cheerfully when Govinda left for shooting in the morning. Govinda knew she was making an effort and appreciated her courage, but one day, the mask fell and Nirmala Devi confessed that she was tired and it was time to depart. Govinda panicked and began to cancel his shooting, that is the time Nirmala Devi changed her stance, convinced Govinda that she was going to be with him for a long, long time.

He trusted her and left on a long outdoor to New Zealand. He was restless, called his mother every evening to inquire after her health. Nirmala Devi was cheerful, ensured him all was well and then suddenly she departed in her sleep. Govinda was thunder struck. He could not believe that his mother had deceived him, not kept her promise and it was something he was unable to come to terms with”.


Govinda and TV – Day 2100

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Govinda was most of the time inaccessible and invisible but once in a while, he featured on a Reality show on TV and very rarely one bumped into him in public space and he clearly out of place. It was one such event when I found him in a corner dreading the cameras and unable to negotiate his exit. I hung around him till he was safely escorted to his car and he expressed himself rather candidly, said, “Just because I do light hearted films people expect me to entertain them. I retain my calm but I am restless inside…”

Govinda said his mother believed that fortune is a collection of our blessings and curses, he said his mother said that God is the banker who watches over everyone’s debits and credits and his balance sheet is never wrong. It was more than a decade his mother Nirmala Devi passed away but he had not stopped mourning her.

To be continued

Highs and lows of stardom – Day 2099

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He was in a mood to chat, about career, his personal life, said relationships come to us by birth, by choices and also by destiny and chemistry. “Relationships alter according to external pressures. God made human beings the most superior but also devoid of self-assurance.” Do you feel unconfident often? “Most certainly, which is why I’m able to recognize insecurity in others, it is all instinctive. I understand because I have studied astrology and numerology in depth. Different people deal with stress in different ways, youngsters hit the gym. I prefer to meditate but there are problems that cannot be resolved with meditation ike my acting career.  I accept I made many mistakes. I lacked discipline and paid a price for it. I am now in the process of rectifying those mistakes”.

Govinda was committed to his career, to a second chance to himself.  I had believed in him, so did the trade and his fans, but even after hand holding from Partner/ Salman Khan, he was not able to fit into the rat race again and after some lackluster assignments evident in all the post 2010 releases Govinda turned a recluse again!

To be continued

Govinda Gyaan – Day 2098

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Come December, actor Govinda’s birthday month and the ghosts of his career come to haunt his admirers. Described as a complete entertainer, Govinda can emote, dance, cry and do comedy. An actor par excellence and a man widely misunderstood.  It was his choice to hang up his boots and quit acting. He must have his reasons but never offered justifications. In the meantime, stories about him grew and grew. Some called him paranoid, others blamed his doctor and his family. Years passed by and then one day, Govinda returned to movies. He signed a few films and commenced shooting shortly.

Everyone was happy, the trade, his family and the media. I met him around this time, asked him, how it felt to stay away from the spotlight for so long? He took a long pause, said, “Our state of mind is determined by the positioning of our planets. When I was younger, I didn’t believe in these things but as I grew older certain incidents changed my mind. On the surface I appear calm, in fact that is what infuriates my co-stars. That I was forever to work and always smiling! Now I believe that a restlessness is necessary for creativity. The only way to excel is to be ruthless with yourself and I am trying, sincerely”.

To be continued

Four Feather and more – Day 2097

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“To be honest, I saw Elizabeth as Indira Gandhi” continued Shekhar Kapur, “The more powerful she got the more vulnerable she became. The woman unfortunately was over powered by the grandeur of the film the costumes and the sets as a result the love the love story got diminished. This happens with big scale films, it is unavoidable”.

Post Four Feathers Shekhar Kapur got accustomed to working with foreign crew and was all the time learning through observations. He said in Hollywood it was unacceptable that actors come unprepared for a shoot while Indian actors never prepared in the olden days. They relied on emotion quotient and delivered spontaneous, competent performances. Shekhar confessed that he now looked at our chaos way of making films with new respect. “There, everybody is figuring out what is in the director’s mind. Back home artistes just submit to the director because they trust he will do his best. Isn’t that amazing?”


Elizabeth: Queen or the woman – Day 2096

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I told him there are many stories about how Elizabeth his first international film finally happened but what is the real story? Shekhar Kapur was rather matter of fact, said, “The fact is that Hollywood did not chase me, I chased them. After Bandit Queen I wasn’t willing to make another Hindi film so I arrived in Los Angeles and booked myself into a hotel. I began visiting production houses and one day, one of them was convinced by my story telling and I signed on the dotted line.

“Miracles happen to those who believe in them. I did and therefore it happened to me and when it did, there was no time to celebrate because I had to begin planning my production the very next moment. Elizabeth was big scale project but for me is not a story about the queen but the story about a woman, her anxieties, her passion, her love”.

To be continued

Mr India, Bandit Queen – Day 2095

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He confessed that he never came to the sets prepared with his shot divisions. “I went with the flow and most of the time I surprised myself. Remember Hansraj’s arrival at Naseer’s home? I had not worked out the movements. So, I asked Naseer to enter. Shabana and the girls are on the staircase. The girls are introduced and come down for a handshake. Shabana stays where she is. My cameraman Parvin Bhatt was shocked that I didn’t want any close-ups. I didn’t because I wanted to convey Shabana’s discomfort through her body language and I did”.

Shekhar said he did not plan any of his films, rather, he convinced his producers with his story ideas but Bandit Queen was the most difficult film because it was a realistic experience. “The more complicated the story the more stressed are the actors. We don’t realize this but actors are a peculiar species who need reassurance all the time. While the rest of the creative teams are self-contained only actors seek validation all the time”.

To be continued

Shehar Kapur: Hollywood prepares, Bollywood submits – Day 2094

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Shekhar Kapur started his career as a Chartered Accountant in America but gave up a flourishing career to become an actor in Hindi films when uncle Dev Anand launched him as an actor in Ishk Ishk Ishk.  Kapur did a couple of films but none of them made an impact. He found his spotlight when he directed Masoom, Mr India, Bandit Queen in India and later international projects like Elizabeth, Four Feathers and more. Over the years he travels between Los Angeles and Mumbai, announces new projects but never makes them.

On 04 December Kapur turned 76. I have been interacting with him since he was a struggling actor to the time he settled in Hollywood. On his birthday I recapture some of our old conversations. He was an excited main the eighties working on his debut film Masoom and I asked him why he thought he was ready to become a director? “Because I have written the story and writing is half the job done. I understand cinema emotionally not technically for instance I don’t understand colour separation but I understand my characters and I’m ready to discover them as I go along”.

To be continued