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The Stage is set

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All roads lead to Mayors Hall in Andheri on the concert day and the guests arrive before time because those familiar with Madhuparna Academy know that the show will begin on time and it does.

Outside the gateman is more than helpful and guides the children and the parents to appropriate floors. Madhuparna Kumar (Madhu Maam) for her students has instructed the children to come fully dressed up to avoid confusion and waste of time in the auditorium.  Those participating in more than one dance have been given clear instructions about where they have to change and how they will be assisted by their family person.

As children run helter-skelter backstage, some looking for some help to tie their dupattas and some touch up their makeup, the teachers get ready to perform a brief puja and the comperes arrive on stage to welcome the guests. The opening item is by the teachers followed by a prayer dance Aangikam Bhuvanam Yasya requesting the lord to forgive in case of any mistake via step/ mudra/ expression performed by three seniors Mona, Madhu maam and me. The third is the vibrant number from film and the following a pure classical on Tatta Natta Aadavu by junior batch students.

@bhawanasomaaya

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Madhuparna Kummar Dance Academy completes 12

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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.

10500331_1687099804855794_4518233468121107659_nPost marriage Kumar moved from Kolkatta to Mumbai and was exposed to a variety of dance forms, some she experimented with for adventures 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.

On 17 November Madhuparna Dance Academy celebrated their 12th anniversary. It was a glittering evening event packed with an enthusiastic audience and I was privileged to perform the prayer dance with my guru.

Glimpses from the concert will follow over the week…

@bhawanasomaaya

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Movie Review: Tumhari Sullu is delicious

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Film: Tumhari Sullu

Release: 17 November 2017

Producer: T Series

Writer/Director: Suresh Trivveni

Cast: Vidya BalanNeha DhupiaManav Kaul 

 

Sulochana has participated in every contest you can think of – Lemon &Spoon, Best Mummy, singing, compering, even embroidery and more often than not won the contest.  She is always at home but is far from the bored housewife because Sulochana (Sullu for the family) has a knack for keeping herself entertained.

If it is not her favourite channel on the radio, it is her daily visitor, a pigeon she chats with resting on the swing overlooking the window. She is always ready to chat up her airhostess neighbours and when they don’t pay heed she engages herself playing a prank on the local grocer.

Sulochana’s husband Ashok/ Manav Kaul is a supervisor in a tailoring factory and even though money is not in excess the couple is well adjusted in their modest life with their eight-year-old son in Mumbai’s faraway suburb.  If Manav is harassed by his boss at work Sulochana feels oppressed by her maiden family –her father, sisters and brothers-in-law who make her feel unworthy because she is not working and her husband is not in a flourishing job either.

One day, Sulochana wins a contest on the radio and has to visit the studio to collect her prize, a pressure cooker and auditions for an RJ job. She is inexperienced but is confident and has a great voice and the program head Maria/ Neha Dhupia chooses to gamble on her. The late-night show Tumhari Sullu is a super hit and Sulochana, an overnight star.

The best thing about the film is the detailed writing- all the characters, their interpersonal relationships, conflicts and insecurities. Woven in fragile moments and tentative moods, the script travels a tumultuous journey bringing the characters closer to your heart. They make you laugh, cry, sing and dance with them.

To define Tumhari Sullu as a film on gender gaze and aspirations will be unfair because it is much more than that, it is about changing perceptions, altering mindsets. Director Suresh Triveni takes up for often neglected homemakers and raises concerns.

  1. Right to expression – Sulochana desires a platform to express herself, a responsibility that makes her feel worthy and therefore turns down a mundane job even though the family can do with some extra money.
  2. Right to independence – Independence is not just economical but also mental and emotional. It changes your mindset and your worldview and which is what happens with Sulochana when she joins Wow channel.
  3. Right to sexuality – If men can celebrate their sexuality so can women and when Sulochana becomes RJ Sullu she is awakened to her sensuality and relishes it.
  4. Right to choice – It is for Sulochana to determine if she wants to continue or quit her career for the sake of the family and she is at liberty to choose whatever she desires.

Vidya Balan as Sulochana is par excellence and has you riveted to the screen and to her twinkling eyes. As her husband, Manav Kaul matches her in every scene, ably supported by Maria ma’am/ Neha Dhupia.

Rush to the nearest theatre to watch Tumhari Sullu with your entire family because I rate it with 4 stars out of which 1 star is reserved only for Vidya Balan.

@bhawanasomaaya

 

16.i. nov

PT Diary/ Day 09/ Ramlila

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Shraddha Ramlila has achieved the recognition of best Ramlila in Faridabad. The script owes its origin to the ancestors of the Shri Shraddha Ramlila Group, who migrated from what is now Pakistan to India and brought along with them the warmth and simplicity of Urdu couplets.

The USP of the timeless epic is to generate interest in the new generation crossing boundaries of religion and faith /3-6-9 PM/ Prithvi Theatre.

16.ii. novBaroque meets the Beatles is a concert featuring songs re-composed in the style of these baroque masters and features Members of Symphony Orchestra of India at Prithvi Theatre on 13 November and Girish Karnad features in Stage Talk on 15 November the last day of the festival.

 

The opening and the closing ceremony have always been special at the festival and this year will be no different. Shashi Kapoor is always present at the venue and so is Sanjana Kapoor who flies down from Delhi to be a part of the family.

 

The sad thing about the best of things is that it has to come to an end, Prithvi Festival ends in a few days and now we have to wait a long year to celebrate again.

 

@bhawaanasomaaya

 

 

 

15.ii. nov

PT Diary/ Day 08/ Vijaya Mehta and other plays

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Kaand starring Kumud Mishra, Shubhrajyoti Bara follows two policemen through a series of nights, as they combat the monsters that roam the streets while battling the more dangerous demons within. On the same day at Stage Talk sharing her experiences is the queen of theatre, Vijaya Mehta at Prithvi House but it is not certain whether Bai will be able to make it to the workshop.

16.i. novIn Literature section author Pervin Saket recaptures the mythical journey of love and longing in contemporary India inspired by the story of Lakshman’s wife from Ramayana, Urmila traces a tale of rejection and a woman’s passionate search for love, rekindling questions of devotion and desire.

prithvi 3Pervin Saket was shortlisted for the Random House India Writers’ Bloc Award in 2013. Her fiction has appeared in Breaking the Bow: Speculative Fiction inspired by the Ramayana, The Asian Writer Collection, Earthen Lamp Journal and other works.

 

To be continued…

@bhawanasomaaya

 

14. i. nov. SANGEET MANAPMAN (1)

PT Diary/ Day 07/Sangeet Manapman

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Some of India’s finest theatre personalities talk about their work, their journey, aspirations and theatre at large, today the talk is hosted by Manav Kaul whose film Tumhari Sallu with Vidya Balan has been in the news for some time.

Raahen’s Sangeet Manapman tells the story of Dhairyadhar, a trusted lieutenant of King Prithvidhar chosen to marry Bhamini, the daughter of the affluent Babasaheb. A day before the marriage, Bhamini walks out of the marriage even without meeting Dhairyadhar just because he is poor. On her father’s insistence, Bhamini lives in disguise as a poor girl under the name of Vanamala to observe Dhairyadhar closely and discovers her folly.

14. ii. KANDStarring Rahul Deshpande, Priyanka Barve and Siddhesh Purkar Sangeet Manapman appear the traditional play but there is a difference.

 

To be continued…

@bhawanasomaaya

13. i nov

PT Diary/ Day 06/ Iron and other plays

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Today is showing Iron where Josie is visiting her mother Fay, serving life for murder for the first time in fifteen years and both are haunted by memories and frightened of what is to follow. Rage Productions cast includes Shernaz Patel, Dilnaz Irani, Meher Acharia-Dhar and Kenny Desai. Written by Rona Munro and directed by Arghya Lahiri.

13. ii. nov. IronThe winter has set in and the evenings at Prithvi Café are more than comfortable. Sitting at the black table I often overhear conversations of people discussing plays, actors, movies.  This is probably the only place in Mumbai where stature does not matter and nobody is mobbed. Superstars mix with struggling directors and discuss ideas, which is why successful actors and directors even after making big in movie business keep returning to Prithvi for the real theatre experience.

 

To be continued…

@bhawanasomaaya

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Cup of Tea

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Jitendra Rai started with theatre legend Makarand Deshpande and has over the decade built a reputation for himself in the theatre world. He has worked extensively with NGOs related to children and frequently conducts workshops with Aseema, Dhai Akshar and Blind Association Center children in Mumbai.

In the film world, some know him as a casting director, some as a writer and some as an assistant director. His favourite filmmakers rely on his acumen for and the award-winning films are a result of them. Stanley Ka Dabba , Hawaa Hawaai with Amol Gupte and Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola with Vishal Bhardwaj were cast by Rai.

Of the many hats he adorns, Rai likes to think of himself as a visualizer, the first of his written directed film Cup Of Tea releases on 121 November online.

I shared a cup of tea with Rai and watched the film and loved it. So will you

@bhawanasomaaya

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Movie Review: Qarib Qarib Single

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Qarib Qarib Single is almost enjoyable

Film: Qarib Qarib Single

Producer: Zee Studios, Jar Pictures

Director: Tanuja Chandra

Writer: Kamna Chandra

Music: Anu Malik, Rochak KohliVishal Mishra

Cast: Irrfan Khan, Parvathy 

 

In between advising her mother not to nag her father and pulling up her distracted secretary addicted to an online dating site, Jayshree/ Malyalam actress Parvathy associated with an insurance company finds time to attend the wedding of a friend who introduces her as a widow to her groom.

Though it has been a long time Jayshree lost her husband she has yet to come to terms with her life and when her younger brother defies her to get adventurous, Jayshree logs on to a marriage portal only to be bombarded with obscene responses.

One out of them comes across decent and Jayshree decides to meet Yogi/ Irrfan Khan over coffee. Yogi says he is a mechanical engineer but doesn’t seem so from his appearance, attire or conversation. He is informal, over chatty and almost annoying while Jayshree is refined, unduly reserved and visibly uptight.

They have nothing in common but they continue to meet over generous mugs of Latte coffee and on Yogi’s insistence the workaholic Jayshree actually considers going on a joint holiday with her new friend

What go in favour of the film are the music and the locations. This short journey travels from Mumbai to Dehradun, then Rishikesh and Bikaner to all the way Gangtok and through the missed flights/ trains and never-ending taxi rides, we are treated to strangers turning friends and sometimes foes.

The downside is the pace gets slow in the second half and the banter between the quarrelling strangers turn repetitive.

There is chemistry between Irrfan Khan and Parvathy and it reflects in their sparkling performances

Qarib Qarib Single has moments, moods, simplicity; it is the kind of film you will enjoy watching with your dating partner.

I rate Qarib Qarib Single with 3 stars.

@bhawanasomaaya

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Movie Review: Shaadi Mein Zaroor Aana

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There’s no way you can miss this shaadi

 

Film: Shaadi mein Zaroor Aana

Release: 09 November 2017

Director: Ratnaa Sinha

Writer: Kamal Pandey

Cast: Rajkummar RaoKriti Kharbanda

 

As the title suggests Shaadi Mein Zaroor Aana is the story of wedding, new and old relationships, age old customs in contemporary times.

Satyander Sharma/Rajkumar Rao and Aarti Shukla/Kirti Kharbanda meet for an arranged marriage and are pleasantly surprised that they like each other. Both agree for marriage and gradually fall in love as well.

The parents are overjoyed and excitedly preparing for the D Day which for pertinent reasons does not take place.

Five years later Aarti is a PCS officer and Satyander an IAS officer in coincidentally the same city.

In my opinion, there are four reasons for watching Shaadi Mein Zaroor Aana and they are as follows:

 

  1. While we have watched many films shot in Lucknow and Kanpur, we’ve never really been exposed to a love story set against the India Civil Service which makes Shaadi Mein Zaroor Aaana the first and therefore refreshing.
  1. Most of the subjects addressing women empowerment are either about her identity or dignity, Shaadi Mein Zaroor Aana puts up a case for Aarti’s capabilities and her ambitions which is rare and a reality.
  1. The family always comes first in our stories and individuals always sacrificed in the name of honor. This time everyone comes together in quest of a dream and strangely nobody thinks they’ve done wrong.
  1. In all stories of marriages, especially those relating to small towns dowry is the inevitable villain, Shaadi Mein Zaroor Aaana proposes that there is life beyond dowry…

Rajkumar Rao has time and again proved that he can shine in any role; he does it once again, ably supported by Kirti Kharbanda and writer Kamal Pandey.  The crowning glory, of course, is debut director Ratnaa Sinha.

There is no way you can miss this progressive, sensitive, responsible wedding. I rate Shaadi Mein Zaroor Aana with 3.5 stars.

 @bhawanasomaaya