Monthly Archives

October 2017

Radio Diaries Day 2: Voice Is The Identity (Day 1214)

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Gradually I got accustomed to my weekly visits to the channel office and meeting more and more people. The program team worked out a schedule for my film reviews and very soon a new show aptly titled Big Bollywood Chaat was introduced for the Sunday listeners. One show led to another and then another and more till I was fully consumed by the magic of the broadcast. Earlier I was recognized as a byline now people associated me with my voice and style of speaking, it was all very interesting.

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Now that I have spent a couple of years before the microphone I thought it was time for me to share my observations on the medium. I discovered for instance that radio is faster than television or print medium even though it is a showcasing of the word, thought and voice. I’m granted 40 seconds to process and articulate my thoughts on a film before the RJ moves on to the next link and song.

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The medium of communication is Hindi in order to reach out to a wider audience and all conversations have to be topical and engaging. Songs by themselves can become monotonous and that’s where the RJ comes in. Every RJ has his/her unique style of connecting with their listeners. At BigFM Siddharth is our morning host, Rani comes in the afternoon and Dileep arrives in the evening.


On the surface what they do appears very simple but talking is not the only job RJs do.   Sitting inside a freezing cold studio in front of a gigantic machine the RJs juggle with multiple tracks like music, advts, endorsements, slogans and teasers. It is a tough job because the slightest mistake ruins the links and overlaps the shows. What’s further commendable is that all of them edit it on the spot.


To be continued…


Radio Diaries Day 1: RJ’s behind glass door (Day 1213)

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Sometimes when I am questioned about the other media my mind wanders back to the year 2009 when I first got exposed to a radio channel.

Eight years ago when Tarun Katial, CEO Reliance Media World asked me to review films for his radio channel 92.7 BigFM, I was not sure if I was capable for the job and what the process entailed. The first time we recorded the review of Paa I think over the telephone but the sound quality was not up to the mark and so we agreed to do future recordings in their studio.

1. b. monThe BIG Studio is situated inside the Infinity Mall, Andheri and has a separate entrance from the shopping area that takes you directly to the fourth floor. Two security guards stand outside the door and entry is only by punching of cards. If there is a visitor, the staffer has to come out personally and escort the guest inside and repeat the same exercise when the meeting has ended.

There are big banners of the channel all over the place and the office is a large circular space comprising innumerable cubicles. A narrow corridor with sparkling floor leads you to the recording studios where radio jockeys, young boys and girls in the age group of 20-25 headphones over their ears are engrossed in soliloquies. It is a treat to watch them laugh, sing, emote and chat behind the glass partitions. There is a long black sofa outside the studios overlooking the Food Colour at Infinity Mall, this is the main meeting area for the programming team and where the RJs hold impromptu meetings.

To be continued…


NewYear defines new beginnings (Day 1211)

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The day after Diwali is celebrated as the New Year and also as Giovardhan puja in the villages and in the small towns where they worship the cows with a special offering.  It is a day of good conquering over evil and rising from darkness unto light — the light that empowers us to commit ourselves to good deeds which brings us closer to divinity.


During these four days, lights illuminate every corner of India and the scent of incense sticks hangs in the air, mingled with the sounds of fire-crackers, joy, togetherness and hope. The illumination of our courtyards and our homes is an expression of obeisance to the heavens for the attainment of health, wealth, knowledge, peace and prosperity.



Deepawali celebrates victory (Day 1210)

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Historically, the origin of Diwali can be traced back to ancient India, when it was probably an important harvest festival. However, there are various legends pointing to the origin of Diwali or ‘Deepawali.’ Some believe it to be the celebration of the marriage of Lakshmi with Lord Vishnu.


In Bengal, the festival is dedicated to the worship of Mother Kali, the dark goddess of strength. Lord Ganesha, the elephant-headed God, the symbol of auspiciousness and wisdom, is also worshiped in most Hindu homes on this day. In Jainism, Deepawali has an added significance to the great event of Lord Mahavira attaining the eternal bliss of nirvana.

19.10.17 iiDiwali also commemorates the return of Lord Rama along with Sitaand Lakshman from his long exile and vanquishing the demon-kingRavana. In joyous celebration of the return of their king, the people of Ayodhya, the Capital of Rama, illuminated the kingdom with earthen diyas (oil lamps) and burst crackers.


It is on the third day of Deepawali — Kartika Shudda Padyami that Bali steps out of hell and rules the earth according to the boon granted to him by Lord Vishnu.



Movie Review: Secret Superstar creates Dangal (Day 1209)

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Film: Secret SuperstarRelease: 18.10.2017

Producer: Aamir Khan

Director: Advait Chandan

Cast: Zaira Wasim, Meher Vij, Aamir Khan

Music: Amit Trivedi

Insiya/ Zaira Wasim lives in a lower middle class colony in Baroda with her parents, younger brother and grand aunt. She studies in a co-ed school and also attends a coaching class even though her parents cannot afford the additional expense.

When home, Insiya is either surfing music channels on television or playing guitar composing new melodies.

Insiya’s mother/ Meher Vij sells her jewelry to gift her daughter a laptop and a whole new world opens up for the 15 year old. Insiya uploads her album on the YouTube and becomes an overnight sensation praised by superstars on social media and contacted by top music director Shakti Kumar/ Aamir Khan inviting her for a recording to Mumbai.

Secret Superstar is a story of Insiya’s singing aspirations but also her rage towards a patriarchal society discriminating between men and women. In some ways the film is reminiscent of Hrishikesh Mukherjee and Basu Chatterjee’s middle of the road cinema during the 70s and 80s that focused on everyday happenings and awakened our conscience.

Insiya’s story begins with abuse and oppression at home and travels the by-lanes of religion, custom and law to question our dormant society.

What works in favor of the film is essentially the story, the emotional narrative, natural dialogues and remarkable characters. All the performances are effective. Mona Ambekar as a lawyer stands out in a cameo, Aaamir Khan as the obnoxious music director is a riot, Zaira Wasim of Dangal proves yet again that she is special and the surprise packet of the film Meher Vij cast as Insiya’s adorable Ammi.

There are sparkling moments in the film, sparkling lines, a lot of heart and pathos. Amit Trivedi’s music is refreshing and new voice Meghana Mishra excels as alter ego.

On the downslide, Insiya’s success is over simplified; the climax over exaggerated and the journey a forgone conclusion but all this can be overlooked because the narrative is emotionally powerful and addresses multiple issues ranging from marital abuse, gender discrimination, minority and show business!

 Secret Superstar is devoid of big budget, big stars, lavish sets, entertaining choreography and glamorous costumes but it has a soul, it has the flight of a courageous daughter and even a more courageous mother and their precious dreams.

In the closing of the film Aamir Khan looks into the camera and states: If you approve of the film like it and if you don’t, change your taste.

 I like the film and rate Secret Superstar with 4 stars.



Chaudas marks destruction of evil (Day 1208)

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Kali Chaudas or Amavasya or Pehli Diwali as is popularly called is the day before the festival of lights. Actually all the four days of the festival has a legendary story and myth asociated with it. The first day of the festival Naraka Chaturdasi marks the vanquishing of the demon Naraka by Lord Krishna and his wife Satyabhama.

Amavasya, the second day of Deepawali, marks the worship of Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth in her most benevolent mood, fulfilling the wishes of her devotees. Amavasya also tells the story of Lord Vishnu, who in his incarnation of a dwarf vanquished the tyrant Bali, and banished him to hell. Bali was allowed to return to earth once a year, to light millions of lamps to dispel the darkness and ignorance, and spread the radiance of love and wisdom.


Dhanteras is worship of Money (Day 1207)

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Dhanteras is the first of the five-day Diwali Festival celebrated all over India. The festival is also known as Dhanatrayodashi or Dhanvantari Trayodashi. The word ‘Dhana’ means wealth and Trayodashi means 13th day as per Hindu calendar. It is celebrated on the thirteenth lunar day of Krishna Paksha (dark fortnight) in the Hindu calendar month of Ashwayuja.


On Dhanteras, Goddess Lakshmi is worshiped to provide prosperity and wellbeing. Dhanteras holds special significance for the business community due to the customary purchases of precious metals on this day. Lord Kubera, the God of assets and wealth is also worshiped on this day.


The tradition of gambling on Diwali also has a legend. It is said that Goddess Parvati played dice with her husband Lord Shiva, and she decreed that whosoever gambled on Diwali night would prosper throughout the ensuing year. Diwali is associated with wealth and prosperity and the Dhanteras is derived from dhan/ wealth won on the teras/13th two days prior to the festival of lights.



Book launch at NGMA  (Day 1206)

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It was artist Prafulla Dahanukar Art Foundation’s idea to launch a book titled Global Art of Modern Indian Painters and release it at the hands of Shri Adwaita Gadanayak Director General of NGMA Delhi at Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya, (Prince of Wales Museum) Auditorium, Mumbai. Attended by top artists Prabhakar Kolte, R.B. Bhaskaran, Jatin Das, RavindraSalve, and Vishwanath Sable the Dean of J.J. School of Art, Architect I.M. Kadri, industrialists Shekhar Bajaj and Vishwajit Dahanukar, theatre guru Vijaya Mehta and many dignitaries, art patrons and connoisseurs, it was an evening to relish and remember.

16.10.17 iThe book is a landmark in the history of art movement in India and includes the work of top 30 artists which include Akbar Padamsee, Anjoli Ela Menon, Jehangir Sabawala , Krishen Khanna, M.F.Hussain, Prabhakar  Kolte, Prafulla Dahanukar, F.N.Souza, Ram Kumar, Sakti Barman, S.H. Raza, Tyeb Mehta, V.S. Gaitonde, Yusuf Arakkal and many more.

It was an unusual book release at the most appropriate venue amidst the most appropriate crowd. Cheers to the idea.


Ajji at Busan Film Fest (Day 1205)

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Devashish Makhija’s dark twist on the fairy-tale Little Red Riding Hood – Ajji seems to have turned into Festival favorite. The film will have a world premiere at the prestigious Busan International Film Festival (BIFF) today in the New Currents competition and to be judged by a jury headed by eminent filmmaker Oliver Stone.

Director Devashish MakhijaThe film is also competing at the India Gold section for Indian feature films, at MAMI. The story of a grandmother seeking revenge for the rape of her 9 year old granddaughter has touched a chord with the audience because it is also invited to Black Nights Film Festival at Tallinn, Estonia.

SUSHMA DESHPANDE who plays AJJI and SAHRVANI SURYAVANSHI who plays Manda in the film AJJIDirector Devashish shares that fairy tales are written metaphorically and Ajji is relevant with present times.  Saregama set up Yoodlle Films to support independent filmmakers who want to tell stories that others shy away from and the idea seems to have caught on. Says Vikram Mehra,  Yoodlee Films is guided by their belief and the fact that it is making a  mark at all the festivals is a proof that they are on the right track.