Archaeologist & Hindi cinema – Day 1983

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The first time a hero played a tourist guide was in the 1965 released Guide, and at that time the distributors were worried that the film will not run for a day. How can a handsome hero be reduced to playing a guide, a financier asked director Vijay Anand? Vijay Anand not only deglamourized but introduced him like a guide not a superstar in his entry. The same with Waheeda Rehmnan, this was probably the first time that a heroine in the sixties film was introduced as a wife where she is not married to the hero.

As the film unfolded there were many surprises, bonding between a guide and his guest, we were introduced to an archaeologist, a profession so far unexposed on the Hindi screen.

Waheeda Rehman’s husband, Marco, played by Kishore Sahu is researching the Ajanta- Ellora caves and is therefore in the big city and delegates a guide to keep his beautiful, young wife engaged.

 Now almost 40 years later, writer-director Abhishek Sharma has cast Akshay Kumar in the role of an archaeologist and that for me that is the bigger attraction. 

Bhawana Somaaya

Ram Setu in Ayodhya – Day 1982

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A year ago, on Diwali, Akshay Kumar announced his new film Ram Setu sharing a poster of the film on social media. A month ago, Kumar flew down to Ayodhya for the mahurat. A true story based on the life of an archaeologist; the director is gearing to shoot across multiple locations. He shares this is the best time to narrate a story entrenched in the cultural fabric of the country because, “Today, the youth own responsibility to preserve our heritage and Ram Setu is the bridge between our past, the present and future”.

Sharma who has earlier directed Tere Bin Laden reveals that he was first struck by the idea when he first read about the court case on the shipping canal between India and Sri Lanka. “I was struck by the magnitude of the project and the courage and felt an urge to tell the story. I wrote the screenplay during the lockdown and pitched the idea to Akshay Kumar. Once Akshay Sir agreed I roped in Chandraprakash Dwivedi as creative producer to guide us on the research and narrative because his perspective on history and religion is unmatched”.

(To be concluded)

Meghna Malik as Usha Rani – Day 1981

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Saina Mirza’s family has not stopped smiling ever since they’ve watched Amol Gupte’s film Saina (released in cinema halls and soon to stream on amazon prime). It is unusual for a subject to ever be completely satisfied with his/ her biopic but Saina is that exception. The Nehwals phoned Meghna Malik, who plays Saina’s mother to express her appreciation for her performance, said, “Your every emotion, expression, gesticulation, made her feel that I was watching myself on screen, how could you get it so right?”

And to think that Meghna almost did not do the film. She appeared for the audition when she was down with malaria and when she did not receive a call from Gupte’s office after weeks, she feared she had lost the role. She had spent a lot of time researching the character, watching Nehwal videos and felt depressed that she will not play Usha Rani and so on an impulse, dressed in salwar kurta, tied her hair in chotti and landed at the director’s office unannounced. When she was led into his cabin, she took off in Haryanvi dialect just as Usha Rani had done on the badminton court. The director was initially zapped but recovered instantly and confirmed Meghan for the part. 

(To be concluded)

Cinema halls shut again – Day 1980

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It has been a stressful week for everyone with covid cases rising all over India. In Maharashtra, just when the cinema halls were all set to get the ball rolling, the fear of lockdown has spread a pall of gloom again. Theatre owners collectively worked to pressurize producers not to release movies on OTT platforms.  Some of them supported, Rajkumar Rao- Jahanvi Kapoor starrer Roohi for instance and surprised all with its box-office collection, Sandeep Aur Pinky Farrar though appreciated by the media, unfortunately, opened to empty cinema halls.

Not surprising therefore, that Haathi Mere Saathi and a few Hollywood biggies have postponed releases. Not Anand Gupta, producer of Chhehre scheduled for April end release. Director Rumi Jaffery feels privileged that he had the opportunity of working with Amitabh Bachchan both as a writer/ Bade Miyan Chotte Miyan and as a director/ God Tussi Great Ho. Jaffery shares that Bachchan is the easiest actor to work with and makes everyone around him comfortable. This is the first time Bachchan and Emran Hashmi are coming together and the first film where music composers / Vishal-Shekhar have collaborated 107 musicians, across globe united in Prague to record live symphony exactly like the olden times.

(To be concluded)

Meet the Masters – Day 1979

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The classical dance fraternity strives for excellence and preservation of rich heritage, even in uncertain times like the pandemic. In order to sustain our ecosystem which includes the regular upkeep of practice centers, cost of music recordings, stage production costs, technical costs, among many others, the organization needs a steady inflow of funds

Nupur Zankar popular as an Art for Cause is a non-profit organization, utilizing a creative platform to deliver social message, the organization is this time looking to raise funds to support Autism. In collaboration with the Swindon South Asian Performing Arts Centre (SAPAC-UK) they have previously explored rhythm through the lens of autism in a project through the Arts Council England.

Sanskriti Mahotsav: is an effort to introduce and make you ‘Meet the Masters’ of classical dance.  Over the decades, like everything else, Kathak dance has evolved and Nupur Zankar in its new show will be presenting the ‘Legacy or Gharana’, the four primary Gharanas recognized on state of origin namely Lucknow, Jaipur, Banaras and Raigarh. The Mahotsav will feature the senior Gurus, along with the second-generation disciples, and also youngest disciples to share the art form through talks, performances and interactive Q&As.

Rumy Jafry’s Face-off – Day 1978

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The countdown has begun for Amitabh Bachchan and Emraan Hashmi starrer Chehre that features besides Amitabh Bachchan as a lawyer and Emraan Hashmi as an Advertising Agency Chief and powerful performers like Annu Kapoor, Krystle D’Souza, Dhritiman Chatterjee, Raghubir Yadav, Siddhanth Kapoor and Rhea Chakraborty. Jafry is super excited that he got the opportunity to work with Bachchan both as a writer in his early days and later as a director in God Tussi Great Ho in 2008 and now again in Chehre. He reveals that Bachchan is the easiest actor to work with and goes out of his way to make everyone around him comfortable. He is happy that Anand Pandit is bringing back the golden era of musical live-orchestra for the title track of Chehra composed by none other than the dynamic duo Vishal-Shekhar collaborating 107 musicians from across the globe who united in Prague to record the live symphony orchestra!