Monthly Archives

July 2019

Some Entertainment, some surprises – Day 1628

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There are two kinds of authors, the first who likes to be involved in everything the publisher plans, the second who submits to the flow. I fall into the latter. When Ronak bhai asked me if should send me the event flow. I refused to participate, said it is your city and your event, I will object to nothing and enjoy myself as a guest. So it was as much a surprise for me as for Aruna Irani that Navbharat had planned a surprise tribute for our chief guest, an audio visual spanning her life and her career after which everybody got up to offer a standing ovation.

Post the speeches and before the Question Answer session there was a surprise for all of us as as Prateik Gandhi and team of Dhunki walked on to stage to meet the esteemed speakers and to seek blessings for their  film Dhunki to be released coming Friday.


A film release in between book release, where there are so many people on stage can only happen in Ahmedabad.




Ahmedabad v/s Mumbai – Day 1627

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I discovered that there is a vast difference between book launches in English as compared to book launches in Gujarati. In Mumbai the book events are crisper and shorter as compared to book events in Gujarat where the audience comes prepared to spend an entire evening listening to their favourite authors and to others discussing the author and the new book.

It is not easy to fill up JB Auditorium at AMA in Ahemdabad on a rainy day but Ronak of Nav Bharat Sahitya Mandir apparently has a reputation of having a house-full show every time he releases a book in the city. Authors clamour to be published by him and other publishing houses look at him to green light subjects so that they can plunge into choices without apprehensions. More on Ronak bhai in the upcoming columns stay tuned for details on a refreshing launch.


Chalo Cinema – day 1626

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A year ago I started writing for Navrang edited by Krishnkant Unadkat and it has been the most delightful experience. I mentioned to him that it would be nice if I can get all my columns published into a book. He introduced me to Ronak Shah of Navbharat Sahitya Mandir and the result is before you. Chalo Cinema is ready to hit the stands and a celebration of the book release unfolded yesterday in Ahmedabad.

Actually, it was a double bonanza because Krishnkant Unadkat released his book Jaano ne Maado Doorbin at the same event and the guest of honour was Hindi cinema and television actor Aruna Irani.

Irani had a sparkling impact on the audience. More about Aruna Irani and the book launch in the coming days.


Movie Review: Judgmental Hai Kya Day 1626

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 Lost in transit

 Film: Judgmental Hai Kya

Date: 26.07.2019

Director: Prakash Kovelamudi

Writer: Kanika Dhillon

Cast: Rajkumar Rao, Kangana Ranaut, Satish Kaushik, Varnisha Kapoor

First thing first, the film is not an extension of the trailer. There are no experiments with blades on the tongue, no steamy sex scene, in fact, nothing controversial that will get you in a tizzy.

Second, after watching the film I feel that the altered title is more suited for the story than the original Mental Hai Kya.

A little girl skillfully cuts birds out of paper and dresses up her room; she is accustomed to isolation, accustomed to violence at home so every time a fight ensues between the parents, she curls inside the desk cupboard waiting for the shrieks to diffuse. Sometimes she challenges the abuse and that day the ugly fight ends forever!!

20 years pass by…

Bobby Batliwala/ Kangana Ranaut works as a voice-over artist during the day travels by rickshaws and in the evening, creates birds out of old newspapers!  Once a while she does work out to stay fit and when her manager escorts her, attends to her grocery shopping at a nearby mall. She is spunky and life is fairly uncomplicated or so it seems.

You sense the first crack when Keshav/ Rajkumar Rao and Rima/ Amyra Dastur arrive as tenants at her vintage home and the next time when they quit the place after a tragedy!

The first half is a cluster of disturbing images as cats and cockroaches crawl all around the frame. Bobby lives the characters she lends her voice to and documents these films indulging in elaborate photo shoots.

You are clueless about what is going on except that the protagonist is awake most of the night staring into the rainy street wearing her binoculars. Post interval the story shifts to London where Rajkumar Rao is now Shravan and  Varunisha Kapoor is pregnant Megha.

Bobby has been out of work for some time and Tauji has requested Megha to invite her to the city and cheer her up, so Megha has an assignment for her cousin to be an understudy of Sita in the new Ramleela staging soon.

There are some beautiful moments at the workshop when Jimmy Shergill playing director conducts trust exercise and Kangana is unable to submit to her team member, another time when she visits Megha to share a secret but is unable to.

The duration is only two hour but the film drags endlessly. It addresses Mental Health but without responsibility.  It refrains to define/ describe the ailment of the character. There is no detailed diagnosis, no line of treatment and no history of a family physician acquainted with the patient’s history.

In the quest of building suspense, the writer misses out essential back-stories and detailing. The opening credits prepare you for a compelling watch but ends in a confusing climax where the protagonist is grossly out of character.

Then must you watch Judgemental Hai Kya? I will say ‘yes’ for the unconventional experience in terms of frames and sound effects. For the understated cameo of Satish Kaushik, for Rajkumar Rao who embraces the most complex characters with amazing ease and most importantly, for Kangana Ranaut and her mastery of craft. Ranaut serves us yet another marvelous performance.

JHK had the potential to become a trendsetter but got lost in transit. I rate Judgemental Hai Kya with 2.5 stars.

Bhawana Somaaya

Kaling Literature Festival Day 02 – Day 1625

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Authors like to relax in their rooms before a session, some because they want to prepare themselves and some because this is a time to recuperate from the hectic lives they lead. I belong to the latter, I love to linger over my first cup of tea and answer the messages on my mobile phone but I look forward to the breakfast room because this is the time for bonding.

Authors you have never met up only read are all there together. There is an exchange of books, conversations, opinions on what is happening in the literary circle and in the world. It is the time to catch up on how the festival is doing, to find out if the sessions are running on time so one can rush or take it easy to reach the venue and to find out what else is there in the city to catch up.



To be continued



Kaling Literature Festival Day 01 – Day 1624

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It is two and half hour flight from Mumbai to Bhubaneshwar and what attracts me to attend the 5th Kalinga Literature Festival in Odisha is that I have never been to Bhubaneshwar earlier. When we land at the airport it is only 730 but the sun has set and the skyline is dark.

Students working as volunteers are assigned to escort us to the guest house. This is the first time Hotel May Fair is not associated with the Kalinga Literature Festival and it is a long story so nobody talks about it. After checking in we are told that the dinner is on the terrace where we get to meet other authors from different states.

It is the first day and everyone is tired having traveled after a hard day’s work so the conversation mostly borders on our nest day session after which everyone retires to their rooms.

 To be continued


Gurushishya Parampara – Day 1623

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Odissi dancer Daksha Mashruwala grew up in Ahmedabad and learned Bharatnatyam from Guru Mrinalini Sarabhai’s Darpana, post-marriage when Daksha came to Mumbai way back in the sixties she could not find an alternate school to pursue her passion for dance. Some years later her husband shifted job and they were now based in Juhu. That was the time Nalanda was just coming up and Kanak rele advised Daksha to learn Odissi. Now she was on the lookout for another guru and found one in Guru Kelucharan Mahapatra.

Difficult as it was she left her husband and children with her inlaws and went to learn Odissi from her new guru in Bhubaneshwar where she stayed with him in the true guru-shishya parampara in their home for over a month and the process continued for many years. It is an interesting story and you can catch it on my podcast

Movie Review – Lion King Day 1622

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The Lion King is animated Baahubali


Film: The Lion King

Date: 19.07.2019

Director: John Favreau

Writer: Jeff Nathanson

Voice Cast: Shah Rukh Khan, Aryan Khan, AshishVidyarthi, Asrani


In 1994 Walt Disney Pictures released their animated musical The Lion King shot in the African jungles which was Disney’s 32nd animation feature film and inspired from the Christian Bibleand Shakespear’s Hamlet. Now so many years later, Walt Disney Pictures, brings another The Lion King directed by Jon Favreauand written by Jeff Nathanson. While the 1994 The Lion Kingwas a traditional animation film the 2019 release is a photorealistic, computer animated remake of the earlier film.


Twenty-five years ago, The Lion King was made in 2D and released in one language, English. This time it is releasing in 3D and 4 languages  English, Hindi, Telegu and Tamil where superstars and singers of different languages have lent their voice to the film. While the characters are more or less the same,the new narrative is more Indian than you can imagine.


It tells the story of Mufasa/ Shah Rukh Khan who is the Jungle king, his brother Scar/Ashish Vidyarthi is envious of his popularity and plays a dirty game to oust him and his sonSimbaa out of the kingdom. In the climax of course Simbaareturns to his roots and good triumph over evil exactly the same way it happened in Bahubaali.


The characters emote and behave like any of our Indian films. There is a limping chimpanzee that plays guru to the royal family, he follows horoscopes and blesses the prince. There is a loyal parrot/ Zazu who follows the prince and the king everywhere. King Mufasa is the patriarch but also a poet, he talks about the moon and the stars. Prince Simbaa is almost vegetarian, he would rather sing in the meadows than hunt for his prey.  


What works about the film is the animation, the cinematographyand the jungle world, the robust mountains, the streams, the dense forests, the dark caves and all the creatures, the birds, the insects and the animals. It is a delight to watch them move together.  The demerits include the length and the Bahubaalistory! There are no surprises at all which a letdown!


I watched The Lion King in Hindi and enjoyed the voice oversparticularly young Simbaa/ Arush Nand and Zazu/ Asrani. Shah Rukh Khan is Mufasa is philosophic while Aryan Khan as Simbaa refreshing. I recommend you watch the animated Bahubaali in your nearest theatre.


I rate The Lion King with 3 stars.


Bhawana Somaaya



Uma Dogra’s Tribute – Dy 1621

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Every year around the monsoon, Uma Dogra invites dancers from across India to perform at her festival and they represent all forms of dance. I am told it is a tough task to select the dancers because there are so many applications and it is after a lot of deliberations that a final list is confirmed. The best thing about such a festival is the ambiance and the culture one is exposed to.

Expert dancers from different art forms make time from their busy schedule and spend time watching the new performers. It is not easy for the young performers to dance before the stalwarts but that is a challenge they have to accept. The hall is packed to the brim and dance students from all over come to watch the scintillating dances and to catch a glimpse of their gurus. The best thing about these concerts is that they begin on time and end before time.

There is detail in everything from the posters to the flower petals strewn on the stage and interestingly every day is different. Presenting two such posters….


Reflecting Gurus – Day 1620

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Out of the many dances performed on the two day festival my two favorites were an Odissi duet by dancers Sandhya Manoj and Bharatnatyam solo by Praachi Saathi.  Both the dances had you mesmerized and the performances were perfect in footwork and in abhinaya.

While Sanhya Maoj appeared clearly overwhelmed by the response in the audience, the younger dancer Praachi depicting the nava rasas on stage was so consumed by the emotion that by the end of her performance she was unable to hold back her tears.