Monthly Archives

January 2020

Shabana Azmi is stable – Day 1731

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After a four day celebration of Javed Akhtar’s 75th birthday Shabana Azmi’s car met with an accident on 18 January on Mumbai- Pune Express Highway but she was moved to Kokilaben Ambani Hospital and is on her way to recovery. This post is to inform all her fans and well-wishers that she is under the supervision of the best doctors and will be fine soon.


Footprints – Day 1730

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Artiste Mahesh Karambele’s latest painting is titled Footprints and there’s a story behind the making of the picture. Before he embarked on this painting Karambele first uncluttered his mind and later his studio. He discarded everything he did not need and was happy to be in open space in his tiny 10ft x 8ft studio. He noticed that the sky was pink and his new painting needed to reflect that and more.

Karambele says that even before he lifted the brush he knew something special was about to happen, he could sense it and followed his instinct. He was going through troubled times and wanted to heal himself and he did expressing himself on the canvass through varied colors. “For the first time, I stepped on to the canvass and recreated my own footprints, it was a strange feeling as I dabbled in vibrant colours expressing my joy and anger, anxiety and passion, smiling and crying all at the same time


DocuBay – Day 1729

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We are living in a world of technology and it is growing every day. DocuBay is the global membership video-on-demand streaming service by IN10 Media Network, announces a partnership with the International Film Festival of Shimla (IFFS) that will bring IFFS documentaries featured in last year’s film festival.

Select titles will be featured under their own category or “Bay” called IFFSBay and is now available for global streaming on the platform. DocuBay was also the official streaming partner of the IFFS, which took place in the historic and scenic town of Shimla in the Himalayan foothills.

Notable titles to be featured on DocuBay include Authenticity, about how Ayurvedic treatments might be the key to great health and lasting wellness. No Woman’s Land, about women in a Himalayan village defying the laws that keep them from inheriting property; Behind The Bars, about how learning homemaking skills like stitching and baking help to rehabilitate prisoners; and Dan the Himalayan Ibex, about a community of women determined to fight threats to the Ibex and help keep them alive despite hunters, poachers, and a declining habitat.

Akul Tripathi (CEO, DocuBay) stated: “Working with independent filmmakers and film festivals like the IFFS reinforces our commitment to providing a platform for storytellers to showcase their work worldwide. We’re very proud to highlight these features on DocuBay and look forward to further building relationships with independent filmmakers and other international film festivals to become a global voice for the factual film community.”


Speaking Tiger – Day 1728

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For over three decades, Upamanyu Chatterjee has been an utterly distinctive and daring literary voice, with few equals among contemporary writers of fiction. In the twelve long stories that comprise this volume, he investigates, as only he can, the absurd comedy and the grand horrors of the human condition. The book opens with his most recent story, written in 2018, which follows Thomas Roe, the much-feted English Ambassador to the court of Jahangir, as he bumbles through a subcontinent far larger than his imagination can accommodate; and it concludes with the title story, written in 1985, in which a young Sikh sequestered in his parents’ home in Mussoorie, and debilitated by jaundice and ennui, listens disinterestedly to news of Indira Gandhi’s assassination and the massacre of Sikhs in Delhi.

A magisterial collection of stories—each as rich as a novel—The Assassination of Indira Gandhi is destined to become a classic of Indian literature has been shortlisted for The Hindu Prize 2019 – Fiction category.

The acclaimed author of the novels English, August: An Indian Story (1988), The Last Burden (1993), The Mammaries of the Welfare State (2000), which won the Sahitya Akademi Award for writing in English, Weight Loss (2006), Way to Go (2011), which was shortlisted for the Hindu Best Fiction Award, and Fairy Tales at Fifty (2014); and the novella The Revenge of the Non-vegetarian (2018), which was shortlisted for the Crossword Jury Award.

In 2008, he was awarded the Order of Officier des Arts et des Lettres by the French Government for his contribution to literature.


Remembering Akbar Padamse – Day 1727

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This exhibition talks about the landmark 1954 court case, a seminal moment in the life of Akbar Padamsee, in which he was acquitted, in the Lower Court and once again in the Higher Court. 

On his older brother Nicky’s advice, Akbar returned from Paris for his debut solo show. Akbar, then 25, was charged under section 292 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) for two paintings – Lovers 1 and Lovers 2 – that were exhibited at the Jehangir Art Gallery. Both paintings – currently in the possession of two established art collectors – showed a man’s hand on a woman’s breast. The instinctive expression of love on canvas was labeled obscene and seized by the police. 

But a defiant Akbar wouldn’t take this lying down and was keen to fight the battle for artistic freedom. This story is retold by arts journalist Reema Gehi Desai using a meticulously handcrafted scrapbook of newspaper clippings by Akbar’s sister-in-law, Shahbibi Padamsee.

One of the highlights of the show is a short theatrical performance – directed by Quasar Thakore Padamsee – told through the voice of Shahbibi, sharing important vignettes of the year-long trial. Diary notes, court judgments, police correspondence, letters and additional newspaper clippings from the archives of Bhanu Padamsee, this is an exhibition you cannot miss!


Movie Review: Tanhaji – Day 1726

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Value for money

Film: Tanhaji: The Unsung Warrior

Date: 10.01.20120

Director: Om Raut

Cast: Ajay DevgnSaif Ali KhanKajolJagapathi Babu and Sharad Kelkar 

In the 17th century Mughal emperor Auurangzeb decided to conquer the Southern state of India, Kondhana. When King Chattrapati Shivaji/ Sharad Kelkar learned of Aurngzeb’s devious plans he sent his faithful Subedar Tanaji Malusare/ Ajay Devgn to prepare for war in Kondhana while Aurangzeb dispatched his best commander Uday Bhan/ Saif Ali Khan to conquer the Marathas.

Tanhaji like Panipat is a story about the preparation of a battle and the mind games involved in the attack of an enemy. The difference being that while director Ashutosh Gowariker borrowed from history, director Om Raut portrays it as fiction a la Baahubali. The film excels in all the technical departments that include a variety of amazing action sequences, skillful VFX, ace cinematography and sharp editing all comprised within 134 minutes which is commendable.

Prakash Kapadia who wrote Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Devdas once again serves us dramatic dialogues aided by a haunting score from the extremely popular composers Ajay-Atul.

The demerits are that the action sequences are too long and too many and the women characters hardly get any screen time even then Padmavati Rao as Shivaji’s mother Jijabai makes an impact in two scenes and Kajol looks radiant as the proud Savitribai. It is while watching her you realize that you have missed her on the screen. Sharad Kelkar makes an impressive Chattrapati Shivaji and is a delight to watch him even though he does not fight the battle.

It is amazing how Saif Ali Khan always manages to lend that something special to his characters and this time he sparkles as the dangerously obsessive Uday Bhan. A leaner and fitter Ajay Devgn makes a courageous Tanhaji jumping from mountains performing spine chilling action and this time the macho actor spares time to smile, dance and romance as well.

Made on a budget of 150 crores Tanhaji releases in two languages/ Hindi, Marathi in both 2D and3D over 3800 screens in India alone. If you don’t look for authenticity and just enjoy the scale and the opulence the experience is more than value for money.

I rate Tanhaji: The Unsung Hero with 3.5 stars.

Bhawana Somaaya/ @bhawanaasomaaya

Movie Review: Chhapaak – DAY 1725

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Sensitive, Positive, Upbeat

Film: Chhapaak

Date: 10.01.2020

Director: Meghna Gulzar

Writer: Atika Chohan- Meghna Gulzar

Cast: Deepika Padukone, Vikrant Massey and Madhurjeet Sarghi

Ratings: 3.5 stars

All it takes is a minute to splash acid on another person and the damage is irreparable.

Inspired from the life of Lakshmi Agarwal director Meghna Gulzar with co-writer Atika Chohan chronicles the story of an acid victim and the repercussions thereafter. The film opens in Delhi’s Mayur Market where the accident occurs in broad daylight in the presence of many. A good man summons an ambulance and also informs the victim’s parents about her hospitalization but while life moves on for others it comes to a standstill for Malati/ Deepika Padukone and her family.

Chapaak addresses IPC Section 307/ Attempt to murder and IPC 326/ Punishment for acid attacks. In a somber moment Malati reflects how nice it would be if acid wasn’t freely available because then nobody would purchase it nor fling it. The thought translates into a PIL to stop sale of acid filed by Malati’s thoughtful lawyer/ Madhurjeet Sarghi.

If the acid victim feels isolated in public spaces/ bus stop or coffee shop we are to be blamed. A little child on the street looks up at Malati walking on the street and he is terrified! Another older boy bullies Malati’s adolescent brother to flee saying ‘Go the ghost waits for you at home’, vicious!! The disabled in our society are subjected to discrimination every day, be it neighborhood or job interview like the employer interviewing Malati asks why her accident is not mentioned in her bio-data.

What works about the film are the crisp dialogues, the music, the casting, and the inspiring lyrics. The downside is the slow pace, surprisingly low emotion quotient, and an unenergetic screenplay.

A heart-wrenching story of a woman fighting the Session Court/ High Court/ Supreme Court and undergoing frequent police investigations and multiple painful surgeries should have torn us apart, it does not! Probably because Malati herself never breaks down or maybe because the director deliberately ducks any display of indulgence is it self-pity or self-praise. It is a character-centric film but the camera does linger on to the protagonist, she is always part of the frame that is inclusive of other characters in the narrative.

There is a quiet about Malati’s persona, a restraint that binds her to her parents/ employer/ lawyer and later her attractive colleague Amol/ fabulous Vikrant Massey who shares special chemistry with his co-star. For an actor, her face is her weapon and when Malati has no residue of eyes-ears-nose left on the face, she connects with her breath and voice. Chhapak is Deepika’s most subdued and also the most difficult performance to date.

It is Meghna Gulzar’s most courageous film and powerful message that the poison brews in the head and the heart before it is flung through the bottle. Every day, when all of us leave home for work our mothers say ‘Take care’ to which we don’t pay attention. It is time we do so that no more Lakshmis and Malatis are subjected to heinous violence.

I rate the sensitive, positive and upbeat Chhappak with 3.5 stars.


Iconic Films iii – Day 1724

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2000/Chandni Bar: Chandni Bar marked the arrival of the bar girl in films. A stomach churning script based on interviews with real life bar girls. Tabu played the small town girl cheated into becoming a bar dancer and the journey her life takes henceforth.. Hard hitting and shot in real locations, the film became a signature for director Madhur Bhandarkar to take up social causes in his future films like Page 3, Traffic Signal and Fashion.

2015/ Drishyam:  Ajay Devgan Tabu film told the story of what a man can do to save his family. A remake of Malyalam film the film raised a moral issue if it was alright to lie and strategise in case of an emergency and Ajay Devgan professed that he will do anything to help his family under the circumstances. As a critic I did not agree with the message but the audience did which is why it proved a super hit.


Iconic Films 2 – Day 1723

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90s/Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge : If Bobby was the hope of lovers in the 70s and Qayamat se Qayamat Tak of the 80s, Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge was the love story for the 90s. DDLJ is a refreshing gaze of the second NRI generation who rebel against authority but at the same time desire parental approval. The film launched two superstars/ Shah Rukh Khan, Kajol one super director/ Aditya Chopra) and a legacy. It is the only film in the world to run consecutively for 2 decades in one theatre – Maratha Mandir.

90s/Hyderabad Blues: The film ushered a new audience so far unaccustomed to watching films in theatre. What was remarkable was that it was in English and came before the era of multiplexes. Shot in 35mm the film starred amateur actors comprising mostly the director’s friends and family. What appealed to the audience was the naughty, witty, insightful script with delicious dialogues. Director Nagesh Kukunoor became an overnight phenomenon.

To be continued


Iconic Films – Day 1722

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As we step into a new decade it is time to look at iconic films of decades gone by. I pick my favorites:

78/ Ghar: The NN Sippy produced and Manik Chatterjee directed Ghar is one amongst the first films to depict a heroine as a rape victim. In Hindi movies, the attempt to rape the heroine is usually unsuccessful as the hero arrives at the exact moment and saves her. In Ghar, for the first time, a wife is gang raped in the presence of her husband who is helpless to save her. It is a story of how the couple comes to terms with the tragedy. With lilting music by RD Burman and immortal lyrics from Gulzar, the film established Rekha as a serious actress.

80s/ Arth: When director Mahesh Bhatt narrated the story idea of Arth to his heroine Shabana Azmi, he predicted that the film would change the course of her career. He was right, post the release Shabana became the voice of the oppressed woman. What makes Arth special is the climax when the wife refuses to take back her wayward husband. The distributor pleaded with the director to change the end and let the heroine go with her Raj Kiran but Mahesh Bhatt was adamant that his protagonist didn’t need an appendage.

To be continued