First Person (Day 1477)

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Indian writer- director Rituparno Ghosh from Bengal is a larger than life cultural icon whose influence spread far beyond his films and Sangeeta Datta pegs her film on the director’s own voice compiled via his interviews and memoirs entitled First Person from the archives.

 

There are also conversations with Ghosh’s cast and crew featuring Soumitra Chatterjee, Sharmila Tagore, Aparna Sen, Prosenjit Chatterjee, Nandita Das, Arjun Rampal, Konkona Sen and Mir. His cinematographer; Aveek Mukhopadhyay, editor Arghyakamal Mitra and music composer; Debajyoti Mishra discuss Ghosh’s craft of filmmaking and international festival curators (Berlin/London/Spain) endorse the filmmaker’s position in the world cinema-scape.

 

A man is known from his roots and Rituparno lived and worked in the city of Kolkata which he loved dearly and his life and work is a product of his city and its culture. The story of Rituparno is interrelated to the changing cityscape of Kolkata as the film is shot over the course of a year. A lot has changed in India too and Section 377 would have been celebrated by Ghosh if he were alive today.

 

To be continued…

 

@bhawanasomaaya

Remembering Rituda (Day 1476)

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There was something special about Bengali filmmaker Rituparno Ghosh. Every Hindi film heroine wanted to work with him and when they did, they invariably won the national award be it Kirron Kher for Baadiwaali or Aishwarya Rai for Chokher Bali.

He was well versed with cinema, history, music and art and fashion. A writer, filmmaker, actor, fashion icon and a gay activist who fought for sexual identity and took the debate beyond gender to a larger humanist spirit.

He openly admitted that he was a woman trapped in a man’s body and broke free from the shackles when he played the heroine in his own films. It is Karmic justice that in the wake of Section 377 colleague and filmmaker Sangeeta Datt pays tribute to her mentor in a documentary titled Bird of Dusk.

To be continued…

@bhawaanasomaaya

Movie Review: Pihu (Day 1475)

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Film: Pihu

Date: 16.11.2018

Director: Vinod Kapri

Cast: Myra Vishwakarma, Prerna Vishwakarma

Editor: Archit Rastogi

 

The opening credits have a voice over of a birthday party. It is Pihu’s second birthday and friends have assembled for the celebration.

In the morning Pihu wakes up lolling on the bed, she shakes up her mother sleeping beside her but her mother is unresponsive

Based on a true incident Pihu is the story of a two-year-old having to fend for herself in a duplex apartment for more than 24 hours without anybody around her.

The camera follows Pihu as she climbs and descends the marble steps of the house, struggles to untangle her pyjamas and sit on the potty unescorted. She is confused about how she is to wash her soiled finger and runs for assistance to her sleeping mother.

When she is bored she juggles with the TV remote and entertains herself. When she is hungry she navigates through the kitchen and locates leftovers from the previous night party.

The 90-minute film is a terrifying journey into a child’s misadventures as she fidgets with the gas burners, touches hot iron and gets trapped inside the refrigerator. The worst is when she is in the balcony and her doll drops down and Pihu climbs over the railing to get it back, it is a superbly shot scene!

Myra Vishwakarma is the only actor in the film supported by external sounds like television, telephone conversations and passing neighbour chatter. Crisply edited and sensitively unfolded Pihu works for the treatment and the message of the film.

The story is a sad reflection of urban lonely lives in multi-storied buildings of the metropolis where nuclear families are isolated from neighbours and hopelessly dependent on the building security guard in times of a crisis!

It is a reflection of how technology has facilitated our lives but fractured our relationships. Devoid of intimacy and communication, we have no time and compassion for each other’s heartbreaks!

The film fails miserably in the art department.  The apartment is exaggeratedly messy and looks like an overemphasized set. It is impractical how the family survives without any house help. The disorder depicted on the morning after the party resembles is more like the after effect of a drinking night than a child’s birthday celebration.

You overlook the flaws because your attention is focused on little Myra. Filmmakers will tell you that it is most difficult to shoot with children and if Myra is so utterly unselfconscious before the camera the credit goes to director Vinod Kapri.

Years ago, Chetan Anand directed a film about a child lost on the streets searching for his mother called Aakhri Khat which brought a lump to your throat.

After watching Pihu you emerge from the theatre with a hollow feeling in the stomach.

Pihu is a must watch for all parents so that they never make the same mistakes. I rate Pihu with 3.5 stars.

Bhawana Somaaya

 

 

Guild has the power to expel (Day 1474)

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In case of a failure to submit the declaration to the Guild by the end of 30 days from its receipt would result in expulsion from the Guild.

 

Two, affirm that if any nominated representative of a Guild member is adjudged to have engaged in sexual harassment by the Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) constituted by the concerned Guild member and/ or by way of any other legal process available in law, the Guild has the right to immediately expel the concerned nominated representative.

 

The committee will enable all Guild members to institute and implement robust processes in their workplaces to ensure the highest standards of safety for employees and crew members, whether in offices or on the sets of productions. The Guild is committed to working on a sustained and continuing basis to make industry workplaces safe spaces for everyone who works here.

 

(To be continued)

 

@bhawanasomaaya

Sexual harassment at work (Day 1473)

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The #MeToo is a wakeup call for all the TV and film production houses that have overnight set up an in house special committee on sexual harassment. The Producers Guild of India has called for an Extraordinary General Meeting to amend its by-laws and which are as follows:

One, make it mandatory for all existing and new members to sign a declaration that affirms that ‘The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act 2013’ and any amendment/ successor act thereof has been instituted and implemented in their workplaces, as prescribed by the law.

The above has to be signed and submitted by every Guild member within 30 days of receipt of the declaration from the Guild. Within these 30 days, the Guild will schedule a series of workshops to be conducted by specialized external agencies, which will enable its members to institute and implement these robust processes at their workplaces, if they have not already done so.

(To be continued)

 @bhawanasomaaya

#MeToo raises questions (Day 1472)

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This Diwali there was less celebration and more concern in the film fraternity. A volcano in the form of #MeToo has burst in show business and every headline is damaging relationships, reputations and public images of many celebrities.

 

This week’s blog is not about digging more skeletons, it is not about pointing fingers, not about who is right or wrong and most certainly not about whom I support or condemn but about what precautions being taken to ensure that what happened will not happen again!

 

So far, every organization, every institution, every production house has exhibited solidarity for the movement and filmmakers/ artistes accused of abuse have been dropped from projects and reality shows.

 

The MAMI festival which is an annual event at this time of the year in Mumbai had a tough call to take when it dropped films where filmmakers have been accused by harassment victims. A tough call because the decision affects the rest of the crew/ actors and technicians who will be affected for no fault of theirs.

 

(To be continued)

 

@bhawanasomaaya

Bhai Dooj (Day 1471)

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This is a custom widely practised in Maharashtra, this is the biggest day for the Mahrashtrians and it is diagonally opposite of Raksha Bandhan. As far as I know, the brother visits the married sister at her home and it is the sister who gifts the brother a gift.

Down South women bathe their husbands with oil on this day and get them to crush a fruit which is symbolic for asur king Naraka.

It is said in Goa effigies of Naraka are burnt just as we burn effigies of Ravana during Dasserra.

It is interesting how the same festival is celebrated in a different way just a few kilometres away. We have a rich heritage and culture of over 5000 years and which is why India is so attractive for everyone.

 

@bhawanasomaaaya

Film Review: Thugs of Hindostan (Day 1470)

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Film: Thugs of Hindostan

Date: 08.11.2018

Producer: Aditya Chopra

Writer-Director: Vijay Krishna Acharya

Cast: Amitabh Bachchan, Aamir Khan, Katrina Kaif, Fatima Sana Shaikh

 

The little princess decorates her sand castle with the royal flag while waiting for her mentor.

The king and the queen are anxious too as this is the first time the prince accompanies him.

Set in 1795 Vijay Krishna Acharya tells the story of old India, the royalties and their palaces and also about the British East India Company threatening our freedom.

Eleven years later John Clive/Lloyd Owen continues to be the antagonist while Khudabaksh Azaad/ Amitabh Bachchan is the loyal warrior who dreams to free Hindostan.

The other protagonists include Firangi Mallah/ Aamir Khan, a small-time thug from Avadh who will sell his soul for money. He rides a donkey that he addresses as ‘Nawab’ and plays the flute to signal his folks of an opportunity.

The beautiful Suraiya/ Katrina Kaif, is a court dancer now engaged to entertain the foreigners and Zafira/ Fatima Sana Shaikh, the only survivor of the royal family sworn to vengeance.

It is important to emphasize that the scale and the grandeur of the film is extraordinary. The production and art design is diligent and flawless.

The film excels in every technical department, costume, choreography, cinematography and most important action.

Precisely written and passionately directed Vijay Krishna Acharya grips you with a screenplay combining diverse characters and thought-provoking dialogues.

This is a film more about star presence than performances. Katrina Kaif adds spice with her beauty and dances. Fatima Sana Shaikh the Dangal girl is convincing in both, action and emotional sequences.

As Firangi Mallah Aamir Khan is deliciously wicked and has you hooked on to him as long as he is on the screen.

Hats off to Amitabh Bachchan and his super timing as an actor. As a warrior, he rides a horse, shoots arrows, jumps off the cliff and dives under water. As a father, he sings a lullaby. In his abode, he is the messiah, locked in chains he resembles Jesus Christ.

Thugs of Hindostan is long, slow, takes many liberties and has continuity problems. The texture and the pace take a while to grow on you and the audience has to be patient.

The film is different and not of everyone’s taste. It is worth a watch for the message, intention, effort and the combination of Khan and Bachchan.

I rate Thugs of Hindostan with 3 stars.

Bhawana Somaaya