Monthly Archives

March 2018

Story behind Raid (Day 1306)

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Now, this is from a reliable source. Raid released last week is inspired by a true story of an honest and a brave heart team of Income Tax Officials who carried this search action in UP. This search was done by Kanpur Investigation Unit.  In those days, the Kanpur Investigation Unit was under the CIT, Kanpur. There used to be only one Unit at Mayur Bhawan New Delhi, which was under the then DIT (Inv), Delhi; and, it alone had all-India jurisdiction.


The two gentlemen we see in the film are modeled on A K Batabyal [(then DDIT, Kanpur, the post was called DDIT then; now it is known as Addl DIT) and S P Pande (then CIT, Kanpur). The team had searched the premises of a steel rolling mill owner and had recovered more than 1 crore in cash and some 30 gold bars (each weighing 3 seers and bearing the stamp of the year 1946 of the Indian Mint).


It was quite a sensation as it was the highest cash seizure in the history of the Department at that time. The team members were prominently featured in all the newspapers and became household names in all of Kanpur. In those days, there were no reward schemes as such so each one of the team received an appreciation letter signed by the chairman and it was placed in their ACR.


Mr. A K Batabyal retired from the Board as a member and now lives in Kolkata. SP Pande went on to become the first DIT(Inv) in Mumbai. A few years after his retirement, he passed away due to cancer.


The idea of the movie was to project IRS, Income Tax Department, and its officials in best light which is really unlike the prevailing perceptions today. The reason the film evokes so much curiosity is that it projects the boldness and fearlessness of upright officers, a diminishing quality among professionals today. Yes cinematic liberties have been taken and there are deviations from the actual plot but these are necessary for a film to be engaging and hold the attention of the audience.



Movie Review: Raid Day 1305

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Raid is effective 

Film: Raid

Date: 16.03.2018

Director: Raj Kumar Gupta

Writer: Raj Kumar Gupta Ritesh Shah

Cast: Ajay Devgn, Ileana D’cruz, Saurabh Shukla

Ratings: 3 stars
Amay Patnaik is stopped from entering the club because he is wearing sandals not shoes. The host runs after him apologizing on behalf of his staff but the conscientious IT officer is against breaking rules. His host resolves the problem by ordering shoes from his shop but Amay will not accept a gift so pays for the shoes,  he will not accept a drink either and therefore carries his own bottle with him.

Set in the 80s and inspired from real stories the raid made sensational headlines as it lasted for several days recovering assets worth 420 crores and featured high profile personalities. In a gripping narrative devoid of fuss and frills Raid enlightens you how an IT department operates, their network to enable inside information of tax defaulters, the detailed preparation and the secret strike early in the morning.

Rameshwar/ Saurabh Shukla addressed by everyone as Tauji is relishing his morning cup of tea at his Lucknow mansion when he has a surprise guest, IT Officer Amay Patnaik and his team with a search warrant. Tauji tries all the tricks of the trade to dissuade Patnaik from carrying out his duty but Patnaik and his team camp four nights and days at the mansion breaking walls, ceilings, digging gardens and even searching the toilet to unearth the hidden treasure.

What works about the film is definitely the subject, the pace and the treatment. Detailed, complex and intriguing Raj Kumar Gupta’s screenplay and Ritesh Shah’s dialogues make all the difference. For a plot restricted to a mansion the film weaves an engaging narrative and offers refreshing insights into both the IT Department, politicians and their respective families.

The negatives are some over the top scenes in the climax where the mob turns up in defense of the villain carrying deadly weapons. The romantic song between the lead pair is forced and unrequired but the most disturbing is the IT officer breaking the rule and allowing Rameshwar to travel while the raid is on at his home. How come his seniors don’t pull him up for that or is this cinematic liberty to thicken the plot?

All the supporting actors  are convincing, Saurabh Shukla is first rate and Ileana Dcruz as IT Officer’s courageous wife is both sensitive and beautiful. But the actor who finally carries the film on his hefty shoulders is Ajay Devgan as always dependable, dignified and effective. Yes, he is more or less the same in all his films but he is wise in choosing characters and always makes an impact.

There’s one more actor, who very briefly steals the show from Devgan and she is 85 years old Pushpa Joshi who plays Rameshwar’s Ammaji.

Raid should be watched by those who have endured a search and seizure warrant and also by those who haven’t and in all probabilities never will because Raid is not a film, it is an experience.

I rate Raid with 3.5 stars.

Music by Amit Trivedi, Tanishk Bagchi(Background Score and Songs)

Cinematography  by Alphonse Roy

Edited by Bodhaditya Banerjee



Sonakshi gets Dabangg (Day 1304)

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Nobody can forget ‘Thapad se darr nahi lagta saab pyaar se darr lagta hai’ the dialogue that made a star. Sonakshi Sinha, laadli beti of Shatrughan Sinha was an overnight star after the release of the film and as time went by, Sinha grew from strength to strength.

But the film industry is a cruel place and the more success it gives you the more controversies surround the actor. The same happened with Sinha.  There were stories of a rift between Sinha and Khan but the stories died a natural death when the two appeared together again for Dabangg 2.

The franchise is now ready for a third round and soon Khan Sinha will begin shooting for Dabangg 3 like they say the magic begins…


Karisma Kapoor looks back (Day 1303)

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Cinema is in her genes. Daughter of Babita-Randhir Kapoor,grand-daughter of Raj Kapoor and Hari Shivdasani and great grand-daughter of Prithvi Raj Kapoor was launched by South filmmaker Drama Naidu in Prem Qaidi when Karisma was only 16 years old.

Watching her last night on India Today Conclave on television I was pleasantly surprised that Karisma was not dismissive of her films and proud to take ownership of her roles and songs including ‘Sexy sexy mujhe log bole’. It was a conversation with two Kapoor sisters (Karisma and Kareena) on films, family, and feminism in cinema.

Karisma explained that she celebrated her 17th birthday on the sets of her first film and that she was very scared initially when the critics attacked her for performing songs like ‘Sarkaile khatiya…’ from Raja Babu a but as she got older and had a better understanding of what was expected of her she chose her films and songs more carefully like Dharmesh Darshan’s Raja Hindustani or Yash Chopra’s Dil To Pagal Hain which even got her a National Award for the supporting actress.

But her best award she said to the interviewer is her children because there is no greater joy than watching your children grow and she is a proud mother of her two wonderful children.



Maati (Day 1302)

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A Hindi adaptation of Yerma by Federico Gracia Lorca director Mahesh Dattani presents a new play Maati conceived or the DSM students. Maati tells the story of a girl heralding from a family of landless shepherds, she is married to Jatinder a farmer with a very fertile land and Maati’s only desire is to beget a male child who will then make her as complete as the bountiful earth.  It does not happen for a long time and she seeks answers from everyone including the Goddess.

Director Mahesh Dattani explains that he was drawn to Yerma for many reasons: the overt theme of fecundity and its extreme polarity, barrenness, then the mystery of the complete and the incomplete and also the woman and the man. The climax is the surprise and that too only as conjecture. “What goes on in Yerma’s mind affects her in ways she does not fully comprehend; her desire for a male offspring is not social conditioning, but a need to get the maleness out of her own body. She is afraid of becoming more like a man and voices her fears to strangers”.

13.3.18 2Dattani is one of the most successful playwrights of Indian theatre and a prolific director. He is the only Indian-English playwright to be awarded the Sahitya Akademi Award for his work and his notable plays include Final Solutions, Dance Like a Man, Night Queen, Tara to name a few. He has also ventured in film direction and has won the award for Best Artistic Contribution at the Cairo Film Festival for his work. He was one of the 21 playwrights chosen by the BBC to write plays to commemorate Chaucer’s 600th anniversary. Currently, Mahesh is working on an original script of writer Shanta Gokhale’s Menghaobi – the fair one based on activist Irom Sharmila produced and directed by Mahesh.


Evening Shadows celebrates women (Day 1301)

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Evening Shadows, a feature film directed by award-winning filmmaker and gay rights activist Sridhar Rangayan has been creating waves at its screenings, first in Sydney and then in Bengaluru with houseful shows.


While the main story is of a mother-son bond that has to stand the test of hidden truths, it is more about traditional families in small-town India. More than a coming out gay film, Evening Shadows places women at its center; oppressed women caught up in a patriarchal system.

The five women who weave the story together try to smile through their tears to touch your heart and raise important questions about the status of women in small-town India. A subject like this granted a UA certificate for the first time, empowers both women and LGBTQ communities.

Mona Ambegaonkar who plays the main protagonist says women are the fountainhead of civilization. Yamini Singh says she accepted film because it is about choices. Written by Saagar Gupta and directed by Sridhar, Veena Nair, another character in the film plays Lata, a woman married to a gay man hiding in the closet. Disha Thakur, the fourth protagonist to raise her voice who plays Neela, the bride-to-be and finally the oldest of them all Kala Ramanathan who plays the matriarch of the family.

Premiered at the Bengaluru International Film Festival, Evening Shadows was screened in Amsterdam at the Roze Filmdagen film festival and also at Outfest Fusion in Los Angeles last week. Director Sridhar Rangayan will be attending the European Premiere of the film in Amsterdam along with producer Karim Ladak.



Different mediums (Day 1299)

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Nominated by his school to participate in the Inter-School Photography Exhibition ‘Vana Mahotsavam’ in 2015 Dev not just won the first prize the first prize but also invited to paint live at the ‘Art Mela’ organized by his school in 2016. His Paintings, Digital Art and photographs are an inspiration.

08.3.18 iiIt is unusual for an artiste to also excel in sports but Dev Mehta is an exception. He has participated in inter-school football tournament for boys under age 10, got recognition for participating in Handwriting contest n national level. He is the youngest activist associated with Nina Foundation, an NGO for friends with spinal cord injury and has over the years designed and painted their annual calendars.

08.3.18 iii@bhawanasomaaya

Ready to display (Day 1298)

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This was evident when he exhibited 40 of his paintings at Bal Disha Children’s Day a special exhibition organized by the Maharashtra Government for young child artists. For the Kala Ghoda Art Festival 2013 Dev he painted a Suzuki Baleno car and another masterpiece called ‘Chalti Ka Naam Mumbai.’

07.3.18 iiLike all youngsters he was consumed by the gadgets and drawn to the digital medium. The first time he downloaded an App called SketchBook Pro on his iPad and voila – colourful faces and forms were created with just a few strokes of his fingers. It was a matter of time that he got attracted to the camera, both with his iPhone as well as a DSLR camera and he shoots effortlessly. He has a cinematographer’s vision and his every frame is lyrical.

07.3.18 iii


Exploring canvas (Day 1297)

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In the coming years, little Dev graduated to a bigger canvas and explored different mediums. He was as comfortable with watercolors and the pastels as with the crayons and the acrylic. The more he discovered the more he wanted to know. He befriended the oils and the charcoals and when that tired him he flirted with the sketch pens and the digital and all this without any coaching or any tutor.

06.3.18 i

He is probably the only artiste in India to hold his first solo exhibition when he was under 10 Rhapsody in 2009 and Trancestroke in 2012. Dev received special recognition for this and was awarded the Robin Age (Weekly Children’s Newspaper) Bright Sparks Certificate for Spatial Intelligence as well.

06.3.18 iiThe editor of Cambridge University Hindu Cultural Society’s – Sanskaar Magazine, London, UK invited Dev to participate in their contest because she believed there is a spiritual connection in all his creativity and is able to interpret the reason why he paints the way he does.