Monthly Archives

January 2021

Movie Review: Tribhanga – Day 1937

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Must for mothers and daughters

Film: Tribhanga

Date: 15.01.2021

Writer-director: Renuka Shahane

Cast: Kajol, Kunal Roy Kapoor, Tanvi Azmi, Mithila Palkar

Stars: 3.5 stars

Legendary writer Nayantara Aapte/ Tanvi Azmi is in a video conversation with her biographer Kunal Roy Kapoor, when she suddenly collapses and is rushed to the hospital where she is declared brain dead. Her daughter Anu/ Kajol is about to make her entry on stage for a dance performance exits the green room and rushes to the hospital wearing her dance costume described as fancy dress by the media.

Tribhang is the story of a family, specifically about a mother and daughter who share a bitter, strained relationship and it is the manner in which the narrative is unfolded that makes the film an engaging watch.

Anu is a classical dancer and views life and relationships through dance positions and in her opinion, her mother, the legendary writer, lived her entire life in the Abhang Position, where the body shifts balance from one side to another, as a result, when Nayantara faced problems with her husband, she walks out on him with her children. When her second marriage fails, she discovers a new relationship and when that fails, she finds solace in alcohol.

Anu describes her daughter Maasha/ Mithila Palkar’s practical choices of marriage and child as the Sabhang Position of Oddisi dance – where the body is equally balanced on both the legs. Maasha maintains a steady balance between her grandparents, uncle, aunt and her large joint family of in-laws with dignity and truth.

And finally, the Tribhang Position where the upper part and the lower part of the body are rhythmically tilted in opposite directions. As a celebrity and a single mother, Anu’s life has been tumultuous loaded with controversies. As a child, she was uprooted from her father, as an adolescent, she disconnected with her mother and post pregnancy, she lost faith in men and marriage.

Detailed writing, engaging narrative, pace and performances are the positives of the film. The What the characters feel and how they express themselves, their costumes, locations, art, cinematography is all real and believable.

The negatives are some exaggerations, a working woman or a single mother in 1986 was not an issue. Some queries are unexplained like Anu’s father Joshi was reluctant to keep the children after their divorce? The frequent flashbacks and flash forwards make a tedious watch, the climax is predictable and the foul language forced!

The take away from the film is that no matter how deeply you care, devote time and love your dear one, there is always a festering wound lurking somewhere and therefore before we judge, it is important to self-examine.

What makes the film special are the three women- the utterly natural Kajol and the dependable Tanvi Azmi on screen and writer/ director Renuka Shahane behind the camera. Tribhang is a must for all mothers and daughters and can be watched on the Netflix.

Bhawana Somaaya

Connected online, disconnected otherwise – day 1936

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A 15-minute short film, Shameless was a finalist at the Best of India Short Film Festival 2020 and also premiered at the New York Indian Film Festival. Hussian Dalal won best actor at the Filmfare Short Film Awards (2019) is now shortlisted for Oscar entry. The film talks about the life of a work-from-home professional, accustomed to ordering consumables from various apps, and who wakes up one day to find himself trapped by an exasperated pizza delivery girl. The film reflects on the lack of empathy after the emergence of technology and raises relevant issues of humanity toward the disadvantaged. We are living in times where we are increasingly online but disconnected with humanity, a fake sense of invincibility where everyone is frail, insecure and pretending to disguise their anxiety. Directed by Keith Gomes the sound of Shameless is by Oscar-winner Resul Pookutty of Slumdog Millionaire fame.

Every Role is special – Day 1935

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With stardom came expectations and inadvertently many adventures, he underwent special training for skate boarding, snowboarding and sand surfing to play the attractive thief in Dhoom 3 and the ease reflected in his performance. For Jodha Akbar he hired three different masters to train him in sword fighting, Urdu dialect and Sufi dancing and for Bhansali’s Guzaarish he spent days with paraplegic patients to understand what goes on in their minds and hearts which again showed in his expressions. To play magician Ethan Mascherenas, he trained under an expert and this reflected in his portrayal. Sometimes, however, his extreme adventures resulted in dangerous accidents. 

During Krrish he went to China to train for action and suffered serious leg injury but did not return till the training was complete. During the shooting of Bang Bang in Thailand he fell from a height and suffered head injury and had to undergo instant brain surgery that kept him out of action for a while but once recovered, Hrithik Roshan was back to spreading his charm on screen.  I have told this story so that next time you see him on screen you don’t think he is just fortunate, but somebody who has fought every battle of life with a smile. Belated Happy Birthday Hrithik, you are an inspiration.


Childhood challenges-Day 1934

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This is true of Hrithik’s life as he has faced various challenges right from childhood and overcame many tragedies with inner conviction.  At age four he was made to feel different from his classmates because he was born with two thumbs on his right hand. As he grew older and went to higher classes, the jokes turned nastier. The isolation affected him to an extent that Hrithik began to stammer and this was a cause of concern for the family.

When he was twelve, his grandfather J Om Prakash cast him in a cameo in Bhagwan Dada where Hrithik had a talking scene and performed flawlessly to everyone’s surprise. The incident made him realize two things: That with determination he can override all his shortcomings and more important, when he grows up, he will become an actor like his father. 

In his early twenties Hrithik was diagnosed with a rare ailment Scoliosis that restricts movement in the body so for almost a year Hrithik observed all precautions but slowly took stock of self and resumed his normal routine that included a run on the beach. One day, while he was running it started raining, so Hrithik slowed down to make sure there were no health complications and then slowly picked up pace. Nothing happened to him, no pains, no cramps and Hrithik knew he was ready for his debut Kaho Na Pyaar Hai. To be continued…

Hrithik is Special – Day 1933

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The OTT platform may be obsessed with realism but there are filmmakers who remain married to escapist cinema and one of them is David Dhawan who recently remade his Coolie No 1 with Varun Dhawan and Saara Ali Khan. “I make entertainers because I enjoy them”. So does director Rohit Shetty who remains obsessed with the police force in his films. On screen it may all appear dramatic but behind the scenes, Shetty is deeply concerned for their welfare. During the lockdown he booked eight hotels to ensure their safety and medical treatment. The same for the daily wagers of the film fraternity.

The pandemic has turned everyone human and also extremely creative. The most innovative idea was designed by Arfeen, who created a Virtual Experience in a 30-foot-high ceilings studio fixed with 12-feet-high projection screens stretching 60-feet wide, thus structuring a 360-degree circle filled with people on the screens. 

This was accomplished with more than hundred computers/ laptops/ countless wires/ ultra-high-speed internet supervised by a relentless team of experts that worked 24X7 to make the system work. Thousands of people across globe joined in at the same time and this magical experience was possible because the best brands came together, mainly Hrithik Roshan, who says, “If you believe in yourself, you are able to overcome every obstacle”.

To be continued…

Movie Review – Kaagaz – Day 1932

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Truth is in the documents

Film: Kaagaz

Date: 07.01.2021

Producer: Salman Khan Films with Satish Kaushik Entertainment

Director: Satish Kaushik

Writers: Satish Kaushik, Imtiyaz Hussain, Ankur Suman, Shashank Khandelwal 

Cast: Pankaj Tripathi, Monal Gajjar

That India lives in multiple centuries simultaneously is proved yet again in Kaagaz set far

beyond the cruising metro and blazing neon lights of cosmopolitan. A satirical comedy based in Azamgarh, UP, tells the story of a man declared dead on official papers and his journey to prove himself alive, a comment on the flawed system of land resources in India and the struggle of a common man for his self-respect. 

Can a living man be dead and the answer is yes, on paper everything is possible and once a document becomes official it is an uphill task to reverse facts. Bharat Lal/ Pankaj Tripathi is a musician who plays band at village weddings and is content in his ordinary life but his wife Rukhmini/ Monal Gajjar wants him to expand his business and so a reluctant Lal seeks a bank loan and in the process of obtaining guarantee discovers that his relatives have robbed his land declaring him dead on document.

From here on begins Bharat Lal’s struggle to prove himself alive. He provokes his relatives, cries to the villagers, pleads with the sarpanch and with the help of an able lawyer/ Satish Kaushik fights a never-ending battle against the system. He files affidavit after affidavit to Tahsildar- Talukdar- Corporator- Governor- Chief Minister including the Prime Minister of the country but there is no response.

When the legal route fails, Lal resorts to illegal plans, kidnaps the child of his oppressors, sits on a protest in the middle of a campaign trail, forms a union of the ‘dead alive’, fights election with a skeleton as the party symbol and in the climax resorts to contempt of the court but nobody arrests him because filing an FIR against a dead man will prove him alive and no authority – police or judge can risk that.

Years pass by, Bharat Lal has a second child now and even though his home is barren, his business shut and pockets empty, his fight for justice continues. The positives of the film are the writing, music, humour, casting and most important, the issue. The negatives are the inconsistencies, as the issue progresses the humour diminishes and so does the detailing. The powerful climax compensates for the lapses and so do the performances. Monal Gajjar is a natural and Pankaj Tripathi once gain makes a place in our hearts.

With more actors like Salman Khan endorsing issue -based films, we can transform our villages forever. Satish Kaushik, director of Roop ki Rani proves that he is a Kaagaz ka Raja.

Kaagaz is for everyone who is concerned about society and self-respect. You can catch the film on Zee5 Premium.

Bhawana Somaaya

Assisted Guillerman – Day 1933

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There is a possibility that Sanjay khan made up his mind to become an actor that early in his life but a s the elder brother who was forced to give up studies, Feroze Khan insisted that Sanjay complete their education and so Sanjay was prohibited of thinking of acting till he had completed his Cambridge School.

After coming to Bombay, Sanjay assisted John Guillerman, Hollywood film director for the MGM Production of Tarzan Goes to India and within a year he was spotted by director Chetan Anand casting India’s first war film. Haqeeqat. The year was 1964 and soon Sanjay was signed by Rajshri Productions for Dosti, another super hit film.

Sanjay Khan has always said that his career was shaped by the directors he worked with and in those days, actors were not as image conscious as long as they played lead parts and producers producer paid them money.  Dus LakhEk Phool Do Mali  were family dramas while Intaqam and Shart were thrillers of the sixties. In the seventies Khan did a variety of roles –Mela, Upaasna, Dhund and Nagin and soon Sanjay was restless to launch himself as a filmmaker. Sanjay Khan’s debut production Chandi Sona in 1977 was a failure and three years later Abdullah, a moderate success brought him into news for all the wrong reasons.

To be continued

Sanjay Khan: Forgotten Hero – Day 1932

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Last week wasSanjay Khan’s birthday and it baffles me that for an actor who has worked so many decades, Khan is seldom celebrated in public memory. He is the most successful of the Khan brothers but for the longest time, it was always elder brother Feroze Khan who made the headlines.  These are mysteries of showbusiness that are difficult to explain. A few months before Feroze Khan died, he told me the story of their family.

Their father Sadiq Ali Khan was a robust man and mother Bibi Fatima Begum showered them with love, they lived a comfortable life and the seven children -Feroze, Sanjay, Sameer, Shah Rukh and Akbar and their two sisters, Dilshad and Khurshi were happy. Life changed when suddenly Sadiq Ali Khan fell ill and died.  As the eldest son, Feroz Khan had to give up studies and start working, so he did odd jobs until he was advised by a well-wisher to go to Bombay and try his luck in films.

It was not a smooth sailing, he was offered brief roles in B grade films but with time, he had a roof above his head and called the rest of the family to live with him. There is a story that  Sanjay Khan was 12 years old when he watched Raj Kapoor‘s Awaara and was mesmerised by the film.

To be continued

Letters to Mother at Raj Bhavan Part 2 – Day 1931

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Saakshi Bhaav released in the year 2014 at a glittering event in Mumbai. At that moment Modi was Chief Minister, Gujrat and there was an excitement in the auditorium with his sheer presence. Sitting in the auditorium, listening to his passionate speech on stage, I had not in my wildest imagination dreamed that I would one day, translate his book into English but come 2018 and a writer friend called to ask what I was translating these days. He suggested I consider working on Narendra Modi’s writing and I reluctantly agreed to think about it. I began reading Saakshi Bhaav and slowly and gradually, I was overwhelmed by his intense outpouring.

The diary passages are not restricted to himself, in fact he reacts to everything around him – humanity, life, time, gadgets, technology, shibir, nature, universe and more. There is anxiety, there is meditation, there is optimism, there is sorrow, there are disappointments. There are challenges, turbulence and there is victory and gratitude. He admits he is not a professional writer, does not understand structures, formats, prose or poetry but he understands emotions and has a strong, unbroken, unflinching faith that the mother Goddess will lead him through the darkest tunnel and therefore expresses himself unafraid and uninhibited. These are pages he had written decades ago and could have withdrawn from making his expressions public but he isn’t worried about judgments, instead he writes, ‘I will express today, what I feel today and tomorrow what I feel tomorrow. I was not seeking endorsements then and I am not seeking validation now’.

Letters to Mother is not about the present Prime Minister, it is not about the once Chief Minister. It is about a common man who needs to communicate with the common man.


Letters to Mother launched at Raj Bhavan Part 1 – Day 1930

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 End of the year 2020 I was fortunate to launch my book Letters to Mother published by Harepr Collins at the hands of honourable Governor, Shri Bhagat Singh Koshiyari.

For many of the p guests present in the auditorium, it was a first time at the Raj Bhavan. For me it is a special moment because it was here, in the winter of 2018 that I met Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi and confirmed the idea oftranslating his Gujarati book. The Prime Minister surprisingly had only one question, ‘Why this book?’  to which my answer was ‘Because it is emotional, unusually structured and connects with the mother Goddess. He smiled and elaborated on how the book was conceived.

In the 80s when Narendra Modi was just an ordinary party worker, feeling weighed down with the daily pressures, he got into the habit of writing a diary wherein he shared his innermost thoughts and feelings communicated with the mother Goddess whom he addressed as Jagat Janani. Every few months however, he would systematically tear up the pages and light a bon fire and he did this time and again for years.

One day, while he was in the process, a friend visited Modi and was surprised by what he witnessed. He snatched the remaining diary from his friend’s hand and admonished him for not revering his creativity. When he went home, the friend carried the remaining diary with him because he feared that Modi would destroy them at the first opportunity available. Somehow, the story of the surviving diary of 1986 reached Image Publishers, pioneer in printing business and the publisher persuaded Shri Modi to let them publish his writings into a book.

To be continued