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Chandni : Eternal Moonlight

Her heart was a secret garden, and the walls were very high“.
-William Goldman, The Princess Bride

Chandni is not just a character from this movie, but she is a character who has been residing in Yashji’s thoughts for a long time. What culminated in this movie was the effect, but the cause of it can be found in his earlier works. Yashji is not a writer, I do know that. And this implies that Chandni is not a character that he has created. And yet, the character kept coming back to him, again and again. It was more like the character found him, rather then he going after the character.

The story of this movie was written by Kamna Chandra, who had earlier written Prem Rog, and her next work was 1942 A Love Story. She has been really selective about her work, and the quality of her work shows in the characterisation. She writes strong grounded characters, be it male or female. The screenplay was written by Arun Kaul and the dialogues were beautifully written by Sagar Sarhadi, another person who has a rare quality of writing mesmerising lines. Earlier, Sagar Sarhadi had written the screenplay of both Silsila and Kabhi Kabhie.

The bubbly and garrulous Chandni meets the naughty and romantic Rohit. When Rohit strikes the lighter at the staircase and the glow from Chandni’s faces brightens the screens, it almost like a storm-in-a-tea-cup moment. Even the heartbeat of the audience stops for a moment. Who wouldn’t fall in love when a smart and daring stranger compliments a beautiful small-town girl! And not just compliment, but open the heart like a bedsheet and shower all the petallic words. The fortress had been breached, someone had gained entry into Chandni’s heart. She just wanted to convince herself that its infatuation, but in fact it was love.

And that deep a love is resounded in the words of Chandni when she questions Rohit ‘Agar tum meri jagah hotey to tum kya karte?‘, when he comes back to reclaim her. Its not easy to fall in and out of love, not for people like Chandni & Rohit. What Rohit does is cruel, but sacrificial at the same time. Both Rohit and Chandni are two sides of the same coin. Chandni wants to tend to Rohit’s leg injury and even becomes his wheelchair in the act, but Rohit wants Chandni to lead her own life and not waste her time on him. She is ready to hear all abuses from his family members, and he is ready to abuse and humiliate her for her own good, so she goes away. And in the process, both of them hurt each other. But if there is more tears than smiles, how can it be called love? Suddenly, the love of Chandni pushes Rohit into going for a treatment. And after he regains his mobility, he shows up at her door. Rohit should not have come back into Chandni’s life, it was too late.

In the meanwhile, Chandni moves in with her friend in a new city and tries to gather the pieces of her broken life. She comes across Lalit, a person who owns a tourism business. Lalit is also a loner, having lost his loved one. But he has accepted life the way it is since his relationship had a closure. That’s where Chandni’s story was different, she did not have a closure. Walking out on Rohit was an impulsive decision, and not a thought out plan.

Its not everyday that you come across a character like Chandni, someone who is so full of energy and bundle of joy, someone who spreads cheer and keeps her pain to herself, someone who makes you feel good although she maybe herself be under duress, someone who nurses your pain and licks her own wounds. When someone loves you with all their devotion, least that we can do is not hurt them. But Chandni has always suffered, and not just at the hands of her loved ones but also by nature’s design. It could have been God’s way of saying ‘don’t love with all your heart’, but Chandni probably doesn’t wish to hear that. When she loves, she brings the moon to her man’s doorstep, but when she cries, there is no one to console her.

I had started out talking about Chandni, the character, rather than the movie. The above story is similar to the story of the character Chandni from Silsila. Just equate Rohit with Amit and the helicopter accident with the death of Amit’s brother. Chandni went onto marry Dr.Anand, but we don’t know under what circumstances. It was an incomplete story without any closure, and suddenly one fine day, she comes face to face with Amit. She is again pushed into making a choice.

The movie ‘Chandni’ explains what may have happened after the departure of Amit from Chandni’s life. How Dr.Anand came into Chandni’s life and the many questions that Chandni must’ve asked herself before deciding to move on. The situation in Silsila is a lot more tense, because Amit and Chandni were married, but not happily-married. Both of them were leading a life of compromise, a marriage of convenience rather than conviction. Amit should not have come back into Chandni’s life, it was too late.

But here, in this movie, both are still yearning for each other. When Chandni is in doubt, her friend tries to convicne her saying ‘Rohit tumhara guzra hua KAL tha, Lalit tumhara AAJ hai‘. But she is still not convinced. Although she agrees to marry Lalit, its more a decision of the mind than the heart. Buth when Rohit comes tumbling down the stairs on the day of the wedding, Chandni’s inner feelings come to the fore. A bride, a soon-to-be-wife of Lalit, forgets everything and runs upto Rohit; that one scene changes everything for everybody. A story that had started from a staircase and mandap ends with mandap and staircase. The same questions about love and loyalty start bogging Chandni. She is again pushed into making a choice.

Chandni was dumped by her boyfriend because she was just a toy for him and when she got pregnant, it was like a burden for him to handle; so Chandni was ditched in Daag. She had trusted him with her life, and here she was, left at crossroads. Sunil comes into her life and lends her legitimacy, while she gives him a new identity. And when things were going fine and she had started liking Sunil, from nowhere Sonia lands up to reclaim Sunil. Sonia should not have come back into Sunil’s life, it was too late.

Again, by nature’s design, Chandni is hurt. Her marital life is marred by another woman, and she doesn’t know how to handle the situation. She can either lose Sunil or share him. She is again pushed into making a choice.

That has been the bane of Chandni. She is always left to make a tough choice. In Daag, Chandni ends up sharing her object of affection with somebody else; more out of societal pressure than free will. In Silsila, Chandni chooses to make amends to her life and forget Amit for ever. She has an awakening and they both decide that it would be selfish if they didn’t honour the committment of their spouses. Amit too has a realization and agrees to let go. In both movies, the story of Chandni’s life was incomplete.

Finally, its here that Chandni has a proper closure. She gets to cry the tears of joy. All the wandering years spent in search of love, ultimately results in attaining it. And only Yashji could have made it possible by making this movie during the time when action movies ruled the box office.

Shiv-Hari were the music directors of this movie as well as Silsila. In fact, they even went on to do the music of Darr and Lamhe. Also, a signature tune in this movie went on to be used as a tune for a song in Lamhe, Kabhi Mai Kahoon. Their extensive use of tabla and santoor in both movies is a standout point. They understood the demands of the situation really well, and gave an awesome musical score. They pushed Amitabh Bachchan into lending his voice in Silsila, and they did the same with Sridevi in this movie. Wish they had continued to give music to some more movies, but we have to be content with a handful of albums from this brilliant duo, Shiv Kumar Sharma and Hari Prasad Chaurasia.

The lyrics were penned by Anand Bakshi and the songs are sung in every wedding since then. Mere haathon mei nau nau chudiyan hain & Mai sasural nahi jaoongi has risen above the status of being just a song and has become a folklore. Its the simplicity of the situational lyrics that keeps us glued to the movie, be it Tu mujhe suna mai tujhe sunao apni prem kahani or Lagi aaj sawan ki phir wo jhadi hai. The songs are memorable and they sit easy on our lips without taxing the brains. It was a phenomenal artistry with the pen.

There is a Chandni all around us, but we probably fail to see her or perceive her. Sridevi as Chandni came across as a loyal, sweet and an innocent persona. Her love was pure as gold and soft as marshmallow. Sridevi justified the character, and for once, she corrected her diction so the dialogues seemed natural and effortless. Rohit was played brilliantly by Rishi Kapoor. Its so easy to not notice him because all the attention is on Chandni. But as a frustrated lover or a romantic fool, he rises above the level of the script. And not to forget, Vinod Khanna as Lalit was immaculate. It was a while since we had seen Vinod in such an avtar, and he lent credibility to the character of Lalit. You feel for him towards the end, and for Waheedaji who plays his mother.

Chandni ushered in a new era of love and romance. In an interview Yashji had said that when he was driving down the lanes of Bombay, everywhere he saw movie posters of heroes with guns. That’s when he decided that his next movie would be a love story, and Chandni happened to him again.

This post was also published on MadAboutMoviez

 
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Posted by on November 15, 2012 in bollywood, movies

 

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Daag : First Movie Under Yashraj Banner

Only when you want to fly so badly that you give up being a caterpillar, is when you can become a butterfly. That’s exactly what must have been going on in Yashji’s mind. He had directed five movies under the shadow of his brother Balraj for BR Films, and now he was itching to start a production house of his own where he could make movies of his choice. And Daagwas the first movie of Yashraj Films.

The story of Daag was written by Gulshan Nanda, who had earlier written Kati Patang. Gulshan Nanda had adapted the novel Mayor of Casterbridge, and the story came to Yashji. Wonder what Yashji saw in the story that he was all excited and wanted to produce/direct it. If you see the movie, you will realise that this unconventional movie has no safety net. The only way he could have kept the audience hooked was by having a face that the audience loved seeing, no matter what he did. Rajesh Khanna was a superstar in the early 70′s and his stardom may have prompted Yashji to sign him on as a safe bet. So, Rajesh Khanna was just incidental to the movie, rather than integral.

Sunil Kohli, played by Rajesh Khanna, is a die-hard romantic. He loves Sonia and amidst Ab chaahe maa roothe ya baaba, yaara maine to haan karli, they get married soon after college. While on their way to honeymoon, a heavy thunderstorm blocks their path. Sunil meets a dear old friend Dheeraj who helps them out in this rough weather.

Dheeraj plays the perfect host, but only for a while. His animal instincts get the better of him, and he attacks Sonia with the intention of outraging her modesty, while Sunil is out trying to make alternate travel arrangements. Sunil returns just in time to save Sonia and in the ensuing fight, a violent strike from Sunil leaves Dheeraj dead. A criminal case is slapped on Sunil and he is decreed with death sentence.

Most movies would end with such a climax during the 70′s and 80′s. But this movie only begins to find a footing at this juncture. Sunil and Sonia get separated even before they could start their new lives together. All their dreams, hopes and aspirations get shattered. To make matters worse, the police van which was used for transporting Sunil to the jail, meets with an accident and he is the lone survivor. Sunil is caught in a situation with no option. He understands that life has given him another chance to live. If he declares himself ‘alive’, he would be sent back to serve the punishment.

As I earlier said, its an unconventional love story. Sonia lives like a widow while Sunil re-settles with a new assumed identity. And here, Chandni enters the scene. She is a woman who has inherited a lot of wealth, palatial home but her heart is a cup in which no happiness has been poured, its brimming with sorrow.

Some people look for love, but instead get trapped in lust. Such was the story of Chandni. The person she loved, gets her pregnant and leaves her, absolving himself of all responsibilities. Our society is very cruel where having a child out of wedlock would never be acceptable. The necessity to give her child a social acceptance and to save Chandni and her family of the ignominy of the situation brings the story to its first cross point between characters. The story progresses when a turn of events brings Sunil into Chandni’s life. It could be out of a selfish necessity of Sunil or the unfortunate desperation of Chandni that Sunil agrees to give Chandni’s unborn child his name and agrees to be her husband albeit just for the society. This arrangement was a symbiotic one, where it led to a new identity for Sunil and a respectable name for Chandni and her new born.

It may have been a situation of convenience for Sunil where he would be shielded from the law and would enjoy the amenities of a palatial house and luxuries he had never thought of and at the same time, to be in the company of a beautiful and attractive woman. His true love for Sonia may have prevented him from acting on it, but who is to say that he was not resisting any attraction that any man with any degree of romance in him would have for a woman as virtuous as Chandni. And who is to say that Chandni, on realising that a man who lived with her in the same house and who she at some level may have accepted as her husband had not made any advances at her, was not compressing a sense of frustration within herself.

Just when Chandni had finally managed to forget her horrible past and had got used to Sunil, Sonia comes into their life like a thunderstorm; and she shakes the foundation of their relationship. There was a volcano of emotions bottled up between of Sonia and Sunil that needed an eruption point. Something that took the situation by the scruff of its neck and shook the characters to realise their true feelings.

Sunil & Sonia find themselves in a difficult situation yet again, where inspite of being under one roof, they couldn’t be together. Mere dil mei aaj kya hai, tu kahey to mai bata doon, but there is so much to say that Sunil didn’t know where to begin from. Sunil is obligated to Chandni due to societal pressure, but his heart beats for Sonia. Chandni is unaware of Sunil’s past and in enraged by his sudden proximity with Sonia.

Love also results in jealousy. Sometimes people think they are not jealous/envious, but when they see their loved one having a good time with somebody else, the green monster appears from nowhere. Sonia is jealous of Chandni because she can’t be seen with Sunil in public, while Chandni is jealous of Sonia because although Sunil is with her, his heart is with Sonia.

This is a story that has happened in many a household, and such peculiar problems require unique solutions. This awkward situation leads to a nonconformist end, possibly the only ending that could be an acceptable solution to all three characters. Only an iconoclastic director like Yash Chopra, with his deft handling, could have made the movie palatable. Its his understanding of a man-woman relationship, that results in creating such credible characters.

This poem of love had some really good music from Laxmikant-Pyarelal and lyrics was written by Sahir Ludhianvi. Some songs are timeless pieces and are hummed to this day. Sahir captures the sense of the drama very well and pens his thoughts nicely.

This was the last superhit movie of Sharmila & Rajesh Khanna together. Sharmila Tagore, as Sonia, gave a very good controlled performance. But it was Rakhi who walked away with the Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actress, for her role as Chandni. And Yashji won the Best Director award for this movie.

This post was also published on MadAboutMoviez

 
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Posted by on November 14, 2012 in bollywood, movies

 

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Aadmi aur Insaan : Of Friendship & Betrayal

Zindagi ittefaq hai
Kal bhi ittefaq thi
Aaj bhi ittefaq hai

On first hearing, it sounds like a title track for the movie Ittefaq, which was being made around the same time as this movie. Following the super-success of Waqt, Yash Chopra soon began working on a movie which had its roots in socialism.

India was on the path of industrialization, and lot of factories were coming up. Many development projects were on the anvil, construction of dams and irrigation projects were a priority. Akhtar Ul Iman used this backdrop and scripted the movie which was a story of two friends, one rich and the other poor, Munish & JK.

Yash Chopra roped in Dharamendra to play the humble and honest Munish Mehra. Dharamendra was shooting for Satyakam with Hrishikesh Mukherjee, and that could have been one of the reasons for casting him in this movie as the character of Munish was a little similar to Satyapriya Acharya. Those were the days, when Dharamendra was not yet labelled as He-Man. In those days, he had a lover-boy image, a man of honour and integrity, brainy and brawny. While he did play a simpleton in movies like Seeta Aur Geeta, Jeevan Mrityu, Satyakam etc; in parallel he also did thrillers like Do Chor, Ankhen, Shikar etc.

Even in this movie, he did justice to the character of Munish Mehra. Siding up with Dharamendra was Feroz Khan who played JK alias Jai Kishan. JK is a rich brat industrialist who loves to party and knows his drink.

Jaam pakad badha ke haath, maang dua ghatey na raat
Jaan-e-wafa teri kasam, kehte hain dil ki baat hum
Gar koi mel ho sakey, aankhon ka khel ho sakey
Apne ko khushnaseeb jaan, waqt ko meharbaan maan
Milte hain dil kabhi kabhi, warna hai ajnabi sabhi
Mere humdum mere meharbaan
Har khushi ittefaq hai

It was a chance meeting that brought Munish and JK together. JK liked Munish’s sincerity and honesty; and he decides to alleviate Munish’s burden. JK helps Munish financially and also sponsors his education. JK comes across as a benevolent person who wants the welfare of Munish.

Munish returns to India, armed with a degree and JK soon makes him the in-charge of his construction project. While on duty, Munish chances upon Meena, played by Saira Banu, and falls in love with her. He of course doesn’t know that JK too likes Meena a lot.

While Munish is going about his duties, he accidentally finds out about JK’s financial irregularities and how he has expanded his empire by wrong means and business malpractices.

A two-hero movie invariably has a duel and here too, Munish & JK are locked in a bitter duel that involves Meena on one hand, and JK’s favours done for Munish on the other. One weighs more than the other, but which side will Munish swing?

Husn hai aur shabaab hai, zindagi kamyaab hai
Bazm yoon hi khili rahey, apni nazar mili rahey
Rang yoon hi jama rahey, waqt yoon hi thama rahey
Saaz ki lai pe jhoomle, zulf ke kham ko choomle
Mere kiye se kuchh nahi, tere kiye se kuchh nahi
Mere humdum mere meharbaan
Ye sabhi ittefaq hai

JK feels betrayed, the one person whom he had trusted, turned against him. He hoped that Munish would remain indebted to him for life. But instead, Munish dared to go against a friend who had done so much for him. Its an interesting movie about human relationships, about friendship and honoring that trust. Its never an easy task to take a stand, but Munish takes a stand and the duo split.

Munish takes up another job, trying to forget the bitterness. Yet again, just by chance, a case comes to Munish, to investigate the collapse of a bridge. It turns out that the bridge was constructed by JK’s firm. Will Munish do a fair investigation based on ground realities or will he mix emotion with his profession and use this as a vehicle to get back to JK?

The problem with honest people is that, they have very few options. They are always in a pristine white zone; rarely do they choose to stay in a gray area or live a life filled with ambiguities. On the flip side, the ones in gray area just have one objective; that objective could be anything, love, money, status symbol. Whatever be the objective, they find ways and means of getting there, by hook or by crook. That’s the basic difference between a man [aadmi]  and a civilised/moralistic man [insaan]. Feroz Khan, for the stark portrayal of JK, won the Filmfare award for Best Supporting.

Except for the song Zindagi Itteaf Hai sung by Lata mangeshkar and Dil Karda, O Yaara Dil Dara sung by Mahendra kapoor, the other songs weren’t anything to write home about. It was the same team that had worked in Waqt, Sahir Ludhianvi & Ravi. But somehow, the consistency was lacking this time around.

This movie again shows Yash Chopra’s strength as a director. Be it the tight thriller Ittefaq or this movie, he excels in both. The reason I have mentioned Ittefaq so many times is that, both these movies released in the same year. And while Yashji was shooting for this movie, Saira Banu fell ill and the shooting had to be halted for a few months. Restless person that he was, Yashji and Akhtar Ul Iman collaborated again on Ittefaq project which was shot within a month. When Saira was back in good health, he wrapped up this movie.

Some people aren’t able to give their best even while directing just one movie at a time, but Yashji did justice to both movies. The ease with which he switched from melodrama to thriller genre, and then back to the melodrama, is commendable. Basically, his understanding of movies, the spirit of the story, and comprehending the characters with all their flaws, is tremendous.

In AAI, Yahsiji has captured the milieu of the construction site very well. Be it the bridge or the government offices, he is spot on. But best of all is the way he films human emotions. Feroz Khan’s anger, arrogance and the hurt was shown very well. He is quite a spontaneous actor, so it becomes all the more important to give him enough time and space and he does wonders. Even in movies like Safar, Arzoo, Apradh etc, he comes good in scenes where has to display remorse and anguish.

Dharamendra is excellent in the movie, be it the honest officer or the good brother or the faithful friend; he plays all the parts with such ease and fantastic body language. Never does he try to overpower other characters in the movie. In fact, he gives Saira and Feroz enough space to shine in the movie.

Yashji balanced the characters very well; never showing one better than the other. He shows both sides of the story and nobody comes across as a villain; they are all trapped in a situation of their own making. Just remember that, much before Namak Haraam, there was Aadmi aur Insaan.

This post was also published on MadAboutMoviez

 
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Posted by on November 14, 2012 in bollywood, movies

 

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How Long It Takes For Investment To Double

People always want to know how long it would take them to double their investment. Its a curious question because all of us want our money to multiply as soon as possible. So, here’s a simple calculation called Rule of 72, which will help you know how long it takes to double the investment amount.

If we divide 72 by the RoI [annual rate of interest], we get the time period for doubling our money.

For example: If RoI is 9%, then 72/9 = 8. So, it will take 8 years for amount to double at 9% annual interest rate; whatever be the invested amount. Lower the rate, higher the time taken for doubling.

Suppose there is a bull run and RoI is 14%, then 72/14 = 5.14. So, it will take a little over 5 years for the invested amount to double.

 
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Posted by on November 10, 2012 in business, personal finance

 

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Kaala Patthar : Adaptation of Lord Jim

Joseph Conrad’s novel Lord Jim, first published in 1900, finds a resonance even today; so timeless was his tale. And many a movie has been based on this book, only the setup has changed with the changing times.

It’s a tale of living an ignominious life and how the protagonist redeems himself. Very recently, we saw this theme being played out in Chak De India, with SRK in the lead role. And before that, Abhishek Bachchan in Zameen got an opportunity to re-live the character of Lord Jim.

But many years ago, it was Salim-Javed who brought this fine tale to Yash Chopra, Indiansed it, added the much needed entertainment quotient by introducing new elements into it and roped in Amitabh Bachchan to breathe life into the character.

After Deewar, Kabhi Kabhie & Trishul, this was the fourth collaboration of Yash Chopra, Shashi Kapoor and BigB. But for this movie, where Amitabh & Shashi gel well and are on the same side, in the three previous encounters they have always crossed swords with each other. In this movie, we don’t get to see that. Here we see Shashi’s calm and cool attitude being the best response to Amitabh’s smouldering anger, equal and opposite in effect.

Among the star cast, Rakhi and Neetu were again regulars who had worked with Yashji earlier; but Shatrughan Sinha and Parveen Babi were new to his school of direction. Their discomfiture in the movie can be gauged by the fact that neither of the two acted in a Yash Chopra movie again. Shatrughan has always indulged in theatrics in his characterisation, as seen in Vishwanath & Kalicharan. And such characters are rarely found in Yashji’s movie. And what can one say about Parveen Babi; she always had the looks but lacked substance.

Much before Coalgate scam and mine block allocation, there was a Seth Dhanraj, played by Prem Chopra, a capitalist who believed in making money by looting the mineral resources and depriving the coal miners of a decent livelihood. And the entire story revolves around this coalmine setup.

Before getting branded as the tour guide of Switzerland, Yash Chopra was known for capturing various industries with good detailing in his movies. In Deewar, the movie begins with a trade union meeting in the rain, and how they discuss the terms and conditions of the factory owners. Later, the movie goes onto capture smugglers lifestyle and how wheeling and dealing goes on in the underworld. In Trishul, Yashji dives deep into real estate development, opening and closing of tenders, and what underhand tricks are used for winning a tender etc. In Kabhi Kabhie too, poet Amit retires into a life of an industrialist. Even in later years, the movie Vijay had the modern outlook on Mahabharat with the backdrop of competitive industrial war. That’s the mark of a good director, they work hard on the characters and the detailing. They are never afraid to try a new setup, a different storyline or unique situations.

Here too, the coalmine workers and their living conditions are captured pretty well. Their working environment, the siren that marks the start of the working hours, the tea stall and the entire setting and backdrop is done with lot of effort.

We see a brooding BigB, playing Vijay Pal Singh, who is nursing a deep pain in his heart, some guilt of the past, a hurtful truth that he cannot runaway from. In his attempt to hide from the world, he takes up a job at a nondescript location where nobody would recognise him. He goes about his job silently, without interacting with fellow workers. The only person who seems to understand him is doctor Sudha, played by Rakhi, and she is the only person with whom he ever speaks.

Sudha can see through the hollowness in his heart and the vacuum in his life, but she can do nothing to fill it as he has built a wall around himself that nobody but him can break. In such a situation, Salim-Javed drops in two characters – Ravi, an engineer who marks the mining zone and looks into the concerns of the workers, and Mangal, an escaped convict who is just looking to have some fun while he keeps the police busy.

Mangal, played by Shatrughan Sinha, annoys Vijay, challenges him to a duel and behaves cocky just to cause an imbroglio, but for no particular reason. And on the other hand, Ravi, played by Shashi Kapoor, tries to assuage the animosity between Vijay & Mangal. BigB and Shatru were pitted against each other just for some whistles and cheap thrills. But it didn’t add much value to the movie. It was just the coming together of two huge actors, UP ka bhaiyya and Bihari babu.

The movie keeps you interested as we are still unaware of the cause of Vijay’s inner turmoil. But the additional characters of Ravi’s & Mangal’s love interests weighs down the movie. It not only reduces the pace but also the intensity of the movie.

Just when the movie starts drifting, Salim-Javed pull another fast one to bring about a sudden mood swing. A mishap takes place and how the lead characters change themselves for the better, and how they all come together to help save lives of the coalminers, takes the movie forward.

Vijay’s hour of redemption finally arrives, where he faces fear dauntingly and exorcises the demons of the past. The shadow of his inglorious act finally vanishes as the sunshine of guilt floats behind the clouds of a brave act, and he is ready to face the world again, with his head held high. He had the author backed role, and Amitabh Bachchan did complete justice to the character.

But the movie didn’t do very well at the box office. Only if Shatrughan Sinha or Shashi Kapoor had been given a meatier role, the movie might have fared better. It was Bachchan’s show all the way. Although, Rakhi did well to get noticed. Rest of the characters just became a supporting cast, in this show largely driven by Vijay.

The movie had some rather mediocre music and forgettable lyrics. Rajesh Roshan was the composer and Sahir Ludhianvi was the lyricist; needless to say, they never worked together again. Ek Rasta Hai Zindagi, sung by Kishore Kumar is the only memorable number from the movie. Rest of the songs were passé and uninspired. One of the few movies of Yashji with such indifferent musical score. Later, Faasle and Vijay were added to this list.

Overall, the movie was no great shake. Salim-Javed probably missed out on that elusive x-factor, which they usually get it right in most movies, but not this time. This was the beginning of a long and listless time that Yashji had to endure for a whole decade. From 1979, when Kaala Patthar released, to 1989, when Chandni released, was a muted period for Yash Chopra. All his movies fared badly in this 10 year period, starting with this movie. Silsila flopped, Vijay and Fasle were disasters and Mashaal was average.

But the story of Lord Jim is eternal, and it shall be played out again and again, in different regions with different flavours and a different backdrop. And Kaala Patthar will always be mentioned, even as a footnote, only because of its honest effort and a good adaptation.

This post was also published on MadAboutMoviez

 
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Posted by on November 8, 2012 in bollywood, movies

 

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Waqt : Yash Chopra’s Magnum Opus

Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”
John Lennon

Lala Kedarnath was a joyous man, celebrating his success and singing to his lady love Aye Meri Zohrajabeen. He was a self-made man who never believed in astrologers or predictions; and making it on his own was one of the reasons for his pompous party. But little did he know that destiny had other plans for him.

Soon after the song and dance, a massive earthquake shook Lala Kedarnath off his feet. The entire town was in chaos, and a stampede took place. With people running helter-skelter in search of safety, his entire family was separated from each other. This was the grand premise of the movie Waqt. A premise that soon became a formula for many a lost-and-found movies. Not just that, Waqt was also one of the first multi-starrers. Manmohan Desai mastered this genre and made a name for himself, but much before him, it was Yash Chopra who provided the template for Naseeb, Amar-Akbar-Anthony, Suhaag etc.

The movie had a vast scale at the production level itself. Yashraj’s elder brother Balraj Chopra, wanted to cast Prithviraj Kapoor and his 3 sons in the movie. But Yash was quick to point out that the audience would easily recognize the three brothers and then the movie would just be a matter of ‘when’ , rather than ‘how’ the entire family comes together. After much thought, Balraj Sahni was cast as Lalaji. And only Shashi Kapoor stayed on from the original casting, owing to his previous performance in Dharamputra which was also directed by Yash Chopra. He played the role of the youngest brother Munna who grows up to become Vijay. Rajkumar entered the scene and was cast as the eldest of the 3 brothers, Raju who becomes Raja. Sunil Dutt was cast in the movie due to his previous association with BR Films, and of course his acting skills. He played the middle brother, Bablu who becomes Ravi, who is older than Vijay but younger than Raja.

Although the movie was already getting bigger in grandeur, the Chopras went ahead and signed the biggest actresses and the most beautiful faces for the female leads. There was Sharmila[as Renu] opposite Shashi, earlier she had starred opposite Shammi in An Evening In Paris; Sadhna [as Meena] was cast opposite Sunil Dutt.

Back to the story, when the 3 brothers were separated, Munna being a toddler was in his mother’s arms. So, he grew up with his mother, in abject poverty. Munna wasn’t able to pay for his education while Bablu went to vilayat to study law. Blame it on luck! Munna even takes up driving to eke out a living.

Ravi was adopted by a rich family while Raja ends up with the anti-social elements. While Vijay lives an impoverished life, his brother Ravi and Raja have a lavish lifestyle. This was one of the first movies which celebrated opulence. Chopras did not shy away from showing people from higher strata of society indulging themselves. Ravi’s family while away their time in clubs and holiday spots, they swim and play badminton. All this was being picturised when socialism was at its peak and film makers shied away from showing richness.

But Chopras were always liberal, traditional but liberal. And here in this movie, we see the prototype of Rahul/Raj’s character in Ravi. He was the kind of guy who could sweep women off their feet with his smooth talk and suave style. His ‘gul-e-gulzar, jaan-e-bahaar, toofan-e-humdum‘ was an oft repeated phrase for addressing his lady love. Ravi is a nonchalant guy with no hang-ups, and he handles life with ease. He forgets about the party that his family has hosted to celebrate his becoming a barrister and is instead found fishing in the blue waters and under the blue sky soaking some sun; there was a similar scene in DDLJ where SRK forgets about the valedictory function. Ravi also indulges in a car race with Raja to woo the woman with speed and machismo. He loses the race and still walks off with the heroine, very graciously. Ravi was the ‘cool dude Rahul’ of those times.

Interestingly, the sript-writers also managed to squeeze in a love triangle here, in an already formulaic setting. Raja’s affection for Meena is more than obvious by his overtures. And in a classic sequence, to showcase that his love will not bloom, Raja gives a buoquet to Meena at the airport, Meena gives that buoquet to Ravi as she welcomes him back home, Meena introduces Ravi to Raja and in a flash Ravi gifts that buoquet back to Raja to mark the start of their friendship.

The movie had some really romantic moments, again a first for the silver-screen was the locker room conversation after a swim, and the sweet-nothings exchanged between Ravi and Meena which were brow raising for those days. Sadhna was so sexy and comfortable in the bikini, and Sunil Dutt in his boxers was a hunk; both singing Hum Jab Simat Ke Aap Ki Baahon Mei Aa Gaye. The two get so cosy that we become uncomfortable after a point. But that’s how Yash Chopra shoots lovey-dovey scenes, he gets into the moment and captures it so well. Its never vulgar, just sensual; this is one of his trademarks.

Fantastic composition by Ravi and lovely lyrics by Sahir Ludhianvi to express the closeness of the couple. The movie had good hummable music. There was another beautiful song Din Hain Bahar Ke that was filmed on Shashi and Sharmila. Both songs were sung by the duo Asha Bhonsle and Mahendra Kapoor. The album is an Asha Bhonsle special, as she has leant her voice to 4 of the 6 songs. Kaun Aaya Ki Nigaahon Mei Chamak Jaag Uthhi sung by Asha and the title song still rings in our ears, Aage Bhi Jaane Na Tu. Manna Dey has of course, immortalised the song Aye Meri Zohrajabeen. Yashji’s keen sense of music is another notable feature. All his movies had great music and meaningful lyrics.

Great directors etch memorable characters and Raja was one of them, created so well by Yashji. He gave the character an edge and made him stand out. Rajkumar walked away with the meatiest role and all the accolades. Who can forget the ‘Chinoy Seth, jinke apne ghar sheeshe ke hon woh doosron par pathar nahi phenka karte‘ or even the line ‘yeh bachchon ke khelne ki cheez nahin, haath kat jaye to khoon nikal aata hai‘. He had a heart of gold but his hands were blackened with illegal deeds, his suit was clean but his job was dirty, his words were harsh but his mannerisms were soft, Raja was a character immersed in gray.

In a scene of passion and desperation, Raja is shown trying to murder Ravi and thereby remove the thorn and pluck the rosebud Meena. Many years later, this particular love triangle gave rise to Darr where SRK played out Raja’s character of an obsessive person wallowed in one-sided love.

In comparison, Vijay’s life was much more simpler than Ravi and Raja’s. He was poor and so he had very limited choices in life. Renu loved him, but then love is the propriety of the rich who can indulge in such luxuries. Vijay always took it that, he was born to serve and work his way up in life. His priorities were clear, his ailing mother and his incomplete education was to be taken care of.

How the trio’s life shapes-up and what kind of situations they face as they cross paths many a times, unbeknownst to themselves of their kinship, is interesting. Multi-starrer, lost-and-found, love triangle, and if all this was not enough, they even added a murder mystery and a court-room drama in this magnum-opus. In a twist of fate, Raja is prime accused in a murder and Lalaji gets him arrested while he was trying to flee from the scene of crime, Vijay became the key witness and implicated Raja and Ravi defends Raja in the court. Such was the whirlwind story and screenplay, that inspite of being long it keeps you hooked.

The court-room proceedings flouted all norms of legal procedure, but it did make for a thrilling watch. The manner in which Ravi tries to sway the jury and the strange ways that he adopts to establish Raja’s innocence was fresh and filmy. What Yashji did in Waqt, inspired Subhash Ghai to do the same in Meri Jung.

Be it the love sequences or the brotherly affection or the scene of the murder or the court-room setup, everything was perfect. The setting was great, music was good and acting was awesome. The movie won 5 Filmfare awards – Best Director, Best Story, Best Dialogue [Akhtar Ul Iman], Best Supporting Actor [Rajkumar] and Best Cinematographer [Dharam Chopra]. Only Sadhna lost out on the Best Actress award which went to Meena Kumari for Kaajal; and rightly so.

Yashi ji took the story written by Akhtar Mirza to a different level with the casting and direction. It isn’t an easy job to handle so many stars and give them all meaningful roles to play. But Yashji was excellent at that. He managed to give justified screen time to all characters, big or small. This is reflected even in his later works. And he always believed in casting mature and good actors, one of the reasons being that, with mature actors even a simple scene looks great. Actors like Sunil Dutt, Rajkumar, Balraj Sahni etc lent credibility to the character, they made it look believable. After 180 + mins of laughing, crying, romancing, singing and dancing, the entire family finally re-unites and the film ends on a happy note.

“There’s nowhere you can be that isn’t where you’re meant to be…”
John Lennon

This post was also published on MadAboutMoviez

 
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Posted by on November 5, 2012 in bollywood, movies

 

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Thanks For All The Laughs, RIP Jaspal Bhatti

Serial banaane wale, kya tere mann mei samayi
Kaahey ko comedy banaayi tuney, kaahey ko comedy banaayi

Kahan se miley tumhe nakli se actor
Kahan se laya ye flop director
Kaahey ko kiya tuney serial ka halwa
Prime time ka tuney kiya hai malwa
Gup-chup tamasha dekhe, waah re teri chaturayi
Kaahey ko comedy banaayi tuney, aahey ko comedy banaayi

These were the words of the parody song in the episode of ‘Kabristan ka chowkidar‘ which was one of the episodes of Flop Show. This one parody sums up the efforts of the motley crew, ably handled by Jaspal Bhatti, to capture the society and the ills of the bureaucracy. The above episode was on making of a tv series. Towards the end of the episode, a body equivalent to ITA, awards Jaspal Bhatti for ‘Best Comedy’ and Bhatti saheb, in his typical sarcastic tone says ‘Humne to tragedy banayi thi !’

A tragedy played on the tv screens and we laughed ourselves silly because every incident was slice of life. Our interactions with government officials, our struggle to get a telephone connection, our hassles with the builder/contractor, our long wait for a chief guest to cut a ribbon, our inability to push medical bills lying at the boss’ table, our attempt at working for a PhD, and so many such incidents depicted in the serial are straight out of our lives. We can identify with these issues even today. And that’s one of the reasons why Flop Show has stood the test of time as it still strikes a chord with the common man.

His cast was usually remained the same; the reliable Vivek Shauq and his wife Savita featured in most of the episodes. Another highlight of Flop Show was the credit rolls. Misdirection, Production Damager, Camera Jerks etc. It was like, they were making fun of themselves while still addressing serious issues. And he had the uncanny wit to call the series Flop Show.

In just 10 episodes, he tried his best to throw light on civil society and the babudom. Week after week, the satire played on as he took up one issue at a time. In one of the episodes on the difficulty of obtaining a new landline phone connection, he showed the benefits of having a lines-man as a damaad [son-in-law]. In an era where common man had to wait for 6 months to get a telephone connection, a damaad in telecom could benefit the entire family. While in another episode he showed the nexus between builder and neta; how a bad quality of construction ends up as a reward to the builder when a resident of the house was trying to drive a nail into the wall and the entire wall fell on a small time thief  and he was nabbed, is just hilarious.

His parody songs in Flop Show were just superb. ‘Jis gali mei kirayedar se jhagda na ho, uss gali mei hume ghar lena nahi‘, in the episode where tenants take ownership of house and drive out the real owners. Then ‘Bill da mamla hai‘, parodied on Gurdas Mann’s song was used in the episode where Bhatti gets his friend’s treatment done on his office expense at ‘Hit & Trial’ hospital.

His late foray into films was also a welcome move. But barring a few performances, like in Aa Ab Laut Chalen, he wasn’t utilized well. Maybe, he wasn’t used to being directed by others or probably didn’t like the limitations of doing cameo roles. That’s the reason he kept going back to making movies for his own production house. Although he did a couple of more tv shows like ‘Thank you Jijaji’ and ‘Full Tension’, but none of them could match the wit or content of ‘Flop Show’. Flop Show became his identity.

Bhatti was also known for organising events that would make fun of government policies and decisions. He would create fake political parties with hilarious names like ‘Hawala Party’ and ‘Suitcase Party’ during elections, and poke fun at the political class. His sense of humor and the deep satire was appreciable. Without trying to be over-the-top, he would convey the message in a sly manner.
The rip-roaring laughter that Bhatti generated was infectious. Bhatti was not just a satirist, but a good observer of the way things function. His work in Ulta Pulta and Flop Show are basically social commentaries. And he continued this even on his twitter account.

His sudden death has shocked one and all. It was really premature, as he was just 57. And what’s worse is that, he isn’t around to see the release of his latest movie ‘Power Cut‘ which he was busy promoting for past few months. He still had a lot of laughs left in him, but we shall never hear it.

Last year it was shagird Vivek Shauq, and this year guru Bhatti has joined him. On the brighter side, heaven will now be a funny place and he can spoof Chitragupt and Yamraj. Please don’t shed tears for him, that would only be hurting his spirit. Spread smile and cheer, and he will continue to live-on. Thanks Bhatti ji for all the laughs you provided us. R.I.P.

Also published on MadAboutMoviez

 
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Posted by on October 26, 2012 in bollywood, movies, personal, sitcom

 

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Runaway Jury & US Gun Culture

The dozens of shootings that have taken place in last few years, and the number of shootings that take place ever-so-often, begs the question “Do we need a gun rights?”. The latest shootings that took place in a place of worship, a Gurudwara in Wisconsin, and before that in a movie hall in Colorado, is a tragedy of huge proportions. But the failure to act, on the part of the Govt, speaks of a deeper sickness at the willingness to neglect and sideline it in the name of preserving gun rights.

How does a 24 year old PhD student legally buy an assault rifle, a 12 gauge shot gun and two pistols? What justification is there for a young man with no military or police academy training to access weapons whose only purpose is to fight in war? And inspite of such incidents, no one is willing to talk about gun control.

This movie, ‘Runaway Jury’ based on John Grisham’s work, addresses the issue of the gun lobbyists and how easy availability of firearms is making life altering changes to the society. A depressed and psychologically traumatized person with a gun in his hand can take away so many innocent lives. And along with those lives goes the peace and happiness of the families of the victims. How can the victims’ families ever be compensated?

The movie talks of one such shoot-out, but more importantly it was about how a jury can be manipulated to get the desired verdict, for or against. The movie begins with a failed stock trader of a brokerage firm who shows up at his workplace and suddenly opens fire at his colleagues.  The shooting leaves quite a few people dead and others injured. Celeste, the widow of Jacob Wood who died in the shooting, is one such victim; and she takes the Dicksburg Firearms to court on charges of gross negligence. Her attorney Wendell, played by Dustin Hoffman, is fighting for gun control while the defence attorney Durwood is being helped by jury consultant Fitch, played by Gene Hackman. Fitch tries his best to subvert the process so the jury can give a verdict in favor of Dicksburg.

Among the jury memebers is Nicholas[John Cusack], a man who works at an electronics store. His girlfriend Marlee [Rachel Weisz] manipulates things outside the court-room, while Nicholas plays his cards inside the court-room as part of the jury. They both collude to fight Fitch and bring him to his knees while Wendell guides them as the defence lawyer. Both Nicholas & Marlee have a hidden agenda in rigging the jury verdict and that is revealed towards the end of the movie. The wonderful thing is that, even after the movie gets over after a whole lot of action and thrill, the message is not lost; it stays with you.

All the actors did well in the movie, but Gene Hackman as the desperate jury consultant who wanted the jury to be on his side, stood out. His aggression and the recklessness of going to any length, even if it meant wiring 15 million dollars, totally justified the character sketch that Grisham had crafted out. Dustin Hoffman played the helpless lawyer pretty well. Cusack and Weisz went about their work nicely, but nothing extraordinary.

But I must say one thing here, the book was so different from the movie. Actually its the other way round, the movie was so different from the book. While the book ‘Runaway Jury’ concentrated on anti-tobacco brigade, the movie was against the gun culture. The change of theme was probably keeping in mind the prevelant gun rights issue, and it added more drama to the movie.

The number of homicide cases are staggering, and 52% of the suicides in US are executed using a gun. If a student is depressed, he takes his parents’ gun to school and starts firing randomly, if a teenager has been bullied then he picks up a gun to silence the aggressors, sometimes a kid just misfires while toying around with a gun. Gun is the cause of many major incidents and minor accidents.

Its amazing how so many of Grisham’s novels were actually about fighting the system, the corporates and plugging the loopholes in the legal system which were being exploited and how it went against the welfare of the common man.

His indictment of the system and the veiled attack on the flaws of the criminal justice and litigation process was very well highlighted in his works. Grisham continues to write, but off-late his works haven’t made it onscreen. Nevertheless, they are wonderful to read.

This post was also published on MadAboutMoviez

 
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Posted by on August 10, 2012 in books, hollywood, movies

 

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Sudden Spurt in US Centric MF’s

I am sure you have observed how most fund houses have a tendency to bring out similar sounding products and MFs with similar themes due to intense competition. So, if one AMC announces Top-200 or Top-100 Fund, then all other AMCs will sooner rather than later, come out with a similar scheme. And this trend is repeated across all funds of all sectors & all market caps.

In the same vein, off-late we have had 2-3 MF’s with US centric funds. The first AMC to start the trend was Franklin Templeton. FT India Feeder Franklin US Opportunities fund was launched in Jan’12 with a view to provide capital appreciation by investing in units of Franklin US Opportunities. So, its basically a Fund-of-Funds which taps into US-based equity and equity based securities.

The current NAV of this fund is Rs.10.72 and its 6-monthly high has been Rs.11.4. This means, currently it is giving a return of 7.2%. But how sustainable is that, in this fluctuating market? When the fund was launched, the timing was such that global markets were doing pretty well for that brief period till Apr’12, and that’s when the 6-monthly high was achieved. But as the markets settled lower, the NAV too fell to Rs.10.5.

In the Manager’s report dated 31-May-12, the overview says that “US equity prices fell in May as US investors were focused primarily on the intensifying European sovereign debt/banking crisis, lower growth in China and various U.S. indicators that have recently worsened”.

Historical Performance31 May 2012 

1 Mth

3 Mths

6 Mths

YTD

1 Yr

3 Yrs

5 Yrs

10 Yrs

Since Incept

(03.04.00)

Franklin U.S. Opportunities Fund A(acc) USD—NAV

-9.18

-7.48

0.54

3.34

-6.55

50.51

9.76

73.77

-25.80

Russell 3000 Growth Index USD

-6.47

-3.75

6.55

6.88

0.56

59.85

9.95

60.04

-17.02

Whatever be the reason for poor performance, the truth is that in this globalised world, all markets are inter-related. So, the cause-effect ripples are felt everywhere.

The world has not decoupled and equities across the globe still move in tandem although the degrees vary.

Anyhow, a few weeks ago ICICI Prudential US Bluechip Equity Fund was launched with NAV of Rs.10 and as of today its trading at Rs.10.2. Again the objectives are the same, except for the fact that ICICI would be directly investing in US securities, including ADRs/GDRs issued by foreign companies. They, of course, claim that this will give exposure to Indian investors and provide us with an opportunity to gain from US markets growth as the market capitalisation of stocks listed in NYSE is 12 times more than those listed on BSE.

And this week, DSP has launched the DSP BlackRock US Flexible Equity fund and the NFO closes on 31-Jul. This fund is similar to FT fund discussed above, in the sense that, its a fund-of-funds whereby they would be investing in Blackrock Global funds.

Although these funds may provide investors an opportunity to diversify their portfolio, but the benefit to be drawn out of this is doubtful. In the long-run, as and when the Indian rupee recovers and goes back to levels of being less than 50 rupees conversion for each dollar, it will erase the gains. Also, I believe that growth is more sustainable in Indian markets than US markets. So, if we carefully choose a few midcap and smallcap funds, we will definitely get better returns than US centric funds.

Nevertheless, for the optimistic and enthusiastic investors who believe in American growth story, this may be a good opportunity to dive-in. And since the markets have been bearish for a while now, we maybe in for a good bull run and see good upside rallies in the future.

 
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Posted by on August 1, 2012 in mutual fund, personal finance

 

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Why India Pledged $10 Billion to IMF

Earlier this week, when India announced that it would pledge $10 billion to IMF, there was a lot of hue and cry about it. All armchair activists took to Facebook and vented their anger and doubted the wisdom of India’s PM. None of these people even bothered to check what the pledge actually meant. There was the usual vitriolic statements that, India being a poor country should not indulge in such foolhardy.I too was startled by this news, but I thought that it would be prudent on my part to check for the facts first, and then harp about it. So, here’s my understanding of the issue. Sometime in April ‘2009, our PM Dr.Manmohan Singh had stated that India would consider contributing to IMF based on its quota. Every country has a quota which is based on their relative size to global economy. Also, this IMF quota decides their voting power in crucial issues. In 2009, India had a quota of 1.89% which approximated to $6.23 billion. And in 2012 that has moved up to $8.74 billion.

Here’s a quick quote from IMF statement on ths issue:
“We warmly welcome pledges by our members to increase IMF resources by over $430 billion, almost doubling our lending capacity. This signals the strong resolve of the international community to secure global financial stability and put the world economic recovery on a sounder footing. These resources are being made available for crisis prevention and resolution and to meet the potential financing needs of all IMF members. They will be drawn only if they are needed, and if drawn, will be refunded with interest”.

So, this makes it amply clear that its an interest bearing loan, and not an aid/donation/charity that has been thoughtlessly doled out. If it were an aid/donation, we wouldn’t be discussing about the amount being refunded with interest.

There is another statement which sounds the purpose of the pledged amount:
“These resources are being made available for crisis prevention and resolution and to meet the potential financing needs of all IMF members. They will be drawn only if they are needed as a second line of defense after resources already available from quota and the existing New Arrangements to Borrow are substantially used. If drawn, they will be repaid with interest. The IMF is committed to assuring our members’ interests and resources are safeguarded”.

Another important point to note is that, India is not the only country that has pledged money to IMF. Japan tops the list with a pledge of $60 billion, while India, Brazil, Russia, Mexioc have each pledged $10 billion; while UK, Saudi Arabia and Korea have pledged $15 billion.

India has been a beneficiary of the IMF donations when they needed it the most during 1991 crisis. Now that we are sitting on forex reserves of $250 billion which is acting as a cushion against the downturn in current global economy, its time we support IMF’s cause.

 
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Posted by on July 4, 2012 in business, general

 

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Poonam Pandey Celebrates KKR Win

And finally fulfils the promise made of posing in the nude if KKR win the IPL5

Image

Its now SRK’s turn to go down the Howrah Bridge and ride on the Hooghly with the trophy!

 
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Posted by on May 28, 2012 in bollywood, cricket, ipl

 

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Advantages of Term Plan over Endowment Plan

Recently I bought a Term Plan from Kotak through their online process. The SA was 30 lakh and the yearly premium worked out to be a little over 4500/- for a period of 30 years. When I told my father about this term plan, the first question he asked me was ‘What’s the return benefit on maturity?’ and I had no reply.

Insurance v/s Investment
This is one of the biggest mistakes that we make. We look for maturity benefit while going for an insurance policy. We mix insurance with investment, whereas, we should be separating the two like husk from the grain. We need to understand that investment is a long term plan for multiplying our saved up money so we can sustain our lifestyle without making compromises.

And insurance is a risk mitigation plan, wherein, if the bread winner of the family meets with some unfateful incident then the amount can help the family memebers in his/her absence.

Old Thought v/s New Thought
Our parents and other elderly members from previous generation always push for some Endowment Plan which will benefit us on maturity. But that actually comes back to bite us. Let me try to explain this using an example below.

Endowment Plan v/s Term Plan
LIC has an Endowment Plan called Jeevan Anand. In this plan, for a SA [Sum Assured] of 5 lakh, the premium is 38,000/- per year for 15 years period for a person aged 30. The maturity benefit including bonus is about 7 lakh, if the insured person survives the period.

Now, instead of going for the above plan, lets see how best we can use that amount of 38,000/- and separate investment and insurance.

If we take any Term Plan for SA of 15 lakh [3 times the SA of Endowment Plan] for a term period of 15 years, the premium works out to be only 3,000/- per year . Lets put the remaining amount of 35,000 in a PPF account which is the safest debt instrument. If we continue to pay the said premium and deposit the said amount in PPF, at the end of 15 years when the insured person survives the period, they will have accumulated 10 lakh in the PPF account. Even if we deduct the amount of 45,000 that’s paid as premium of the Term Plan [3,000 x 15 = 45,000], the effective return is about 9.5 lakhs. This is still higher than the maturity benefit of the endowment plan. In case of death, the SA of 15 lakh is given to the nominee, and this is twice the SA of the endowment plan.

Disadvantages of Endowment Plan:
a. very high premium for very low SA
b. very low gains on maturity
c. mis-selling of a bad policy which is neither good as insurance nor good as investment

Advantages of Term Plan:
a. low premium for very high SA
b. the extra money can be invested wisely in some good debt instrument like PPF or can be put in a good index fund
c. the extra money can be used to pay EMIs or can be saved for any other emergencies

Now that term plans can be done online, don’t break sweat over it. We have many options like Kotak’s E-Preferred Term, HDFC’s Click2Protect and ICICI’s iCare.

Some key things to note:
a. go for a high SA of 25-30 lakh, because the premium will not be more than 5-6 thousand. That’s a small amount to pay!
b. make all declarations truthfully, including details of previous insurance policies from other insurers
c. take a medical test if need be, do not hesitate. Its better they take a medical test, so that they don’t cause any problems later in case policy has health related riders for critical illness etc
d. pay your premiums on time, do not default on that
e. advise all near and dear ones to buy a term plan

I just have to explain the above to my father now. But I am sure, he would still not be convinced. Anyways, buy a term plan today and put your mind at ease.

This post was also published on Yahoo Network

 

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Investing in NFO

ImageNFO [New Fund Offer] is always deemed as a risk. Everyone advises you to go for an existing MF, rather than invest in a NFO. One of the reasons being that, the existing funds have performance and past results to go by. But in case of NFO, its a big risk.

But then, investment itself is a risk. Even MFs can turn non-profitable if fund managers don’t do their job well. The kind of analysis we do before buying a MF, we can do a similar analysis of the AMC before investing in the NFO.

I have invested in quite a few NFOs, based on the past performance of the AMC who have managed successful MFs. Also, the asset allocation makes a difference too. As in the case of Sundaram Equity Plus fund where 35% was allocated to gold and rest 65% to equity. That made it an interesting assortment and I leapt towards that NFO. It perfromed pretty well and even touched a high of 11.02, which was a real positive.

Another NFO which turned out well for me was SBI Bluechip Fund [D]. It oaid great dividends in its first few years before the slow down. But then I burnt my finger in SBI PSU Fund.

Another point to note is the timing of the NFO. When you invest in a NFO while the market is bearish, then you will earn profits during bull run. But when you invest in a NFO which is launched during a bull run, taking advantage of rising sensex, then its a sham. It takes away the hard earned money as soon as the bull run dies down. This happened to me with Reliance Small Cap Fund [G]. I got the timing totally wrong.

Anyways, that has not deterred me. Just a few days back I went ahead and invested in two more NFOs. One was the IDBI India Top 100 Equity Fund and the other was Taurus Banking & Financial Services Fund.

The simple reason for this step was to take advantage of the situation where banking stocks have been beaten down and with falling sensex I can look to gain during a bull run. I could have also go in for a Banking Fund from any of the AMCs, but the NAV was quite high. For each unit purchased from existing MF, I can have 5 units here. And then, the %gain would be more or less the same, if they invest in similar banking stocks.

All I can say is, do not stay away from NFOs. The NFOs give us a chance to enter the market at a lower cost and more number of units. But do check on the market status since timing is everything.

This post was also published on Yahoo Network

 
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Posted by on May 11, 2012 in lifestyle, mutual fund, nfo, personal finance

 

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Downside Of Investing In Gold

A rush of gold funds and consistent rise in the price of gold has led people to believe that gold is a great investment tool. But there is a downside to gold investment too. And this downside is with reference to physical gold purchase.

Lots of people buy physical gold in the form of ornaments. Their main purpose of buying jewellery, apart from the social need for displaying it, is that it should provide security at times of crisis. And gold loan is a new fad. But what many people don’t consider is that, not many jewellers or goldsmiths buy back jewellery. And that’s a big negative. So, that kills the liquidity factor.

Even if we have a proper certificate or even if the jewellery is purchased from a branded store or a well known jeweller, people refuse to buy it. Small time jewellers just don’t want to touch and pawn brokers downgrade it and give a very low value for it.

So now, what does one do? At times of crisis, you run from pillar to post but no one buys back the jewellery from you, then where’s the security in buying gold?

Investing in gold is a good thing, but make sure that you buy gold coins. Its much easier to sell away a coin than a jewellery piece. The reason for this is, the ornament sold may not be a design that’s in vogue. The goldsmith may have to melt the jewellery and make different ornaments out of it, so that leads to wastage. Hence, gold coin is preferred.

Gold fund is another option. Since its a fund, you can sell it anytime and get back cash. Even if you sell it within 12 months of purchasing it, you will only suffer an exit load of 1-2%, but at least the liquidity factor remains.

The last option is of course gold loan, in case you want that piece of jewellery back! But if you need that jewellery and love it so much, you would not pawn it in the first place.

Any how, gold investment should be only 10-15% of the portfolio. So, invest wisely in gold.

 
 

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Micromax A75 … Impressive !

ImageI was just looking around for Android phones, in general, and Samsung Galaxy Y in particular; that’s when I chanced upon Micromax A75. And I must tell you that I was mighty impressed by it.

It runs on Android 2.3 [Gingerbread], and gives you a whole lot of features. But that’s to the credit of the OS. The phone itself was of fine build quality. And the feel of the phone in the hands was pretty good. The capacitative touch-screen worked very smoothly with a single swipe of the finger. I did not have to repeat my thumb or index finger actions at any point of time.

Browsing through the photo albums was a nice breeze. Then I turned on the GPS and much to my surprise, it was great. The manner in which the maps loaded, and the smooth transition of moving north-south-east-west and all directions, left me wanting for more. The dual-touch zooming-in and zooming-out on the maps was very good. This also proved that the phone did not lose connectivity at any point of time. And it loaded the data and maps pretty fast.

The phone has a G-sensor too. The video quality was pretty nice. It has a limitation though, you cannot install any other media player. It only uses the default inbuilt media player.

Among other notable features is the front-facing camera which comes in handy for making video calls or video chat. And the screen size is good enough to browse the net and even to read a book.

Overall, a ‘superfone’ as they call it. I did not expect Micromax to catch-up with Samsung and HTC, in quality, this quickly. And that has left me impressed. I may never buy this phone or any other Micromax smartphones, but I do like the technical advancement they have made. They are no more a small brand which makes cheap phones. They are a small brand that is capable of making quality phones and would soon be giving the smaller players in Indian market, like Motorola & Sony Ericcson, a run for their money. Way to go guys!

 
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Posted by on March 26, 2012 in business, general, lifestyle

 

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Madhuri Dixit’s Wax Idol In Madame Tussauds London

Madhuri Dixit with her wax statue
The statue was unveiled on 7-Mar-2012
Madhuri Dixit with her wax statue
A nice gift on occasion of Holi and a big honour
Madhuri Dixit looks at her wax statue
 
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Posted by on March 7, 2012 in bollywood

 

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LIC Jeevan Vriddhi

I was just looking out for some insurance plans, Term Policies to be more specific. And then, I came across this new plan from LIC called Jeevan Vriddhi.

Term plans usually don’t come with return benefits, but this plan does. And that’s what struck me about it.

Salient features of this policy are:
a. its a single premium policy wherein the minimum amount is Rs.30,000.00 and no limit on maximum amount
b. sum assured is 5 times the premium
c. the term is fixed at 10 years
d. age of entry is between 8 & 50
e. policy can be surrendered after 1 year

Other benefits:
a. minimum return is almost 90% of the premium amount, if surrendered after a year
b. between premium amount of Rs.50,000.00 and Rs.99,000.00; there is an increase in guaranteed sum assured by 1.25%
c. beyond premium amount of Rs.1,00,000.00; there is an increase in guaranteed sum assured by 3%
d. policy ie eligible for section 80c exemptions in IT
e. you can avail loans at 10.25% against this policy

There are very few policies that give return benefit and sum assured. Its specially beneficial for someone in their late 40’s who want to take an insurance policy with minimum fuss and maximum gains. Even for people in their 30’s, this is a good enough plan where return of interest is about 7-8%. We can get the benefit of protected investment as well as life insurance. And since its single premium, there is no need to bother about tracking the due dates!

Update 1 on 22-Mar: I just called my insurance agent and have created a proposal for a single premium of Rs.60,000/-. So, the SA is about Rs.3,00,000/-. That’s when it struck me that the premium was much lesser than what I was paying for a Jeevan Saral plan [yearly premium of more than Rs.6,000/- for 10 years and SA of Rs.1,50,000.00], and the SA was twice that of Jeevan Saral.

 
 

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Changing Face Of Indie Cinema

Last weekend I watched Mod. I felt really sad for Nagesh Kukunoor, the guy seems to have lost it. He has become the RGV of indie cinema. Wonder what happened to his naughty side that we saw in Hyderabad Blues, the enthusiasm we saw in Rockford and the seriousness that was depicted in 3 Deewarein!

But this post is not about Mod or its maker, Kukunoor. Its about the changing face of indie cinema, which is independent no more. The economics of movie making has got the better of story telling, the good soul has been traded for a good body and the angst has been replaced by anxiety of seeing the movie do well in BO. Independent film makers are being lured by production houses, thereby killing the very concept of indie cinema.

I am not in favour of classifying movies as ‘movie for classes’ or ‘movie for masses’ or ‘indie cinema’ as such. But since the definitions already exists, I am merely using them. I believe that there is just two types of cinema – good and bad; and there are two types of budget for movie making – big budget and small budget. The purists have more classifications under budget types, as in micro-budget and low budget; but lets not get into that. The point is, a big budget movie is not always bad and a small budget movie is not always good.

Big budget movies rely on a tried and tested formulae, in most cases. Once in a while, we get a Lagaan. But more often than not, its the same run of the mill stuff. Since the makers are already aware of this, they get into the mode of hyper-marketing and big-bang advertising. This is just to take away our attention from the real stuff, so we can all go with the hype and hoopla. The next step for such mega budget movies is to flood the market with few thousand prints of the movie. The purpose of this is to make as many people watch the movie during the first weekend as possible. So, by the time the word gets out to people that the movie is crap, they would all have watched it already. You must have experienced it yourself. The moment you come out of a bad movie and make a few calls to your family and friends to warn them of the movie, the chances are that, they would be trying your number to warn you.

But lets not just abuse big budget movies. Small budget movies are going in the same direction. People like Kukunoor and Sagar Ballary etc, are backed by production houses and so the pressure to deliver a hit is on them too. They are forgetting that small budget movies cannot enjoy the luxury of few thousand prints and plush advertising. Marketing is important, but that needs to be backed by substance. Word of mouth publicity is the only form of good publicity that can draw the crowd. But if the movie lacks in story telling or has a bad story idea or not-good-enough writing or a combination of all these, then the movie is doomed to flop. In 2008, we had a flurry of good movies like Aamir, A Wednesday etc; but that spirit has quietly surrendered. Nishikant Kamath moved on to direct Force, and other makers too have gone their own way.

In the past, small budget movies have made money and indie cinema has done well. But in the name of small budget movies, what we get these days is nonsense. Movies that you can’t watch, songs that you can’t hum and stories that you can’t follow or relate to. A two minute ad concept being stretched into full fledged movie is not a good idea. A movie has to make money, that fact is understood. Else, the director (who in most cases happens to be the writer too), may not find another producer to finance his ideas. But in the process of finding a good financier, some compromises are made and the end result pleases nobody. The maker is not happy as he/she had to make alterations to meet the demands of the production house, the production house is not happy because they could not make money from the movie; and the audience is definitely not happy being a mute spectator to all this. The movie is soon pulled down from the theatres, and is replaced by an old movie (or a recent one) that may have done good business.

So, where does indie cinema go from here? I don’t know and I don’t have the answers, as I am not a movie maker myself, not even aspiring to be one. I am an avid movie watcher and commentator. I watch Ra.One and Mere Brother Ki Dulhan, with the same enthusiasm as Mod and Jo Dooba So Paar. And all I keep hoping for is good cinema. Looks like, that is becoming a little too much to ask!

This post was also published on MadAboutMoviez

 
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Posted by on November 24, 2011 in bollywood, movies

 

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Trade Analyst, Film Reviewer & Film Critic

So, what exactly does Taran Adarsh mean when he says that Ra.One has “blockbuster” written all over it? This is not an easy question to answer, because we are not asking how the sub-prime crisis was caused! To answer this question, we will have to go back a long way to mid-90s.
 
During the mid-90s, people like Komal Nahata and Taran Adarsh were just trade analysts. They did the number crunching month after month, and appeared in a small news slot of 10mins to discuss the trade figures. All they spoke about was the releases over the past month and their performance at BO. And probable reasons for the hits and misses.
 
But as the film market grew among the NRI audience and cable and satellite rights started gaining importance, these trade analysts also gained prominence. They started appearing more often on tv, weekly once, to dicuss the numbers. Film distribution became such a big lucrative deal for the bigger stars, that they started demanding a share in the profit. And sometimes, they would just go for the collections of an entire region. Big actors turned big businessmen. They charged a big fee and a bigger territory!
 
This gave trade analysts a fillip. Since they knew the distribution sector and the collections in a region, they started telling out the mantras of what kind of film would work in what region.
 
This situation was akin to the economical upturn in the country. As fund houses started gathering bigger AUMs, the finance analysts turned into fund reviewers overnight. They started appearing in various business channels reviewing mid-cap/large-cap/micro-cap funds, reviewing IPOs, reviewing and forecasting quarterly results. And so also, the trade analysts became film reviewers. They would watch a movie, and tell how the people might react to the movie. They started forecasting what aam-junta will like and wont like!
 
The trade analysts finally had their moment of glory. And that’s also the time when paid reviews became a regular thing. So, when Taran Adarsh says that a certain movie has blockbuster written all over it, it just means that the average IQ of the film going audience is so low that they would watch the movie, and not just once but many times. Its not entirely the reviewer’s fault! Our past record has proven that time and again. We have made hits out of movies that should have rotted in the can and not seen the daylight. We have splurged over movies that were badly cooked but nicely packaged and good looking enough but on consumption gaves us food poisoning.
 
Having said the above, I can’t recall names of any good film critic. From the 1930’s until now, no film critic has stood the test of time. They have been a handful of reviewers worth mentioning, but no film critics. And the reason for that is just not evident. Film criticism is a very important business, not everybody can become a movie critic. And especially not, if they are in the habit of siding up with a particular movie-maker or who favour certain actors.
 
If at all we want to improve the quality of movies, we need to change the mindset of the audience. And this can be done by introducing a ‘Film Appreciation’ course as an optional subject. So, at least we will have a pack of guys every year who would know what they are watching and can decipher the good from the bad. Until we don’t reject bad movies, we will never get good ones. The old practise used to be that, we eliminate the rotten apple from the rest so we reduce the chances of spoilage. But the new tactic should be to isloate the rotten apple, and insulate the good ones from them. Reason being that, its not easy to eliminate the rotten apple but much easier to isolate them.
 
Until the time that happens, people like Taran Adarsh will continue to come up on the tv screen, day after day, and say/write stuff which reflects the mindset of the audience on one hand and on the other hadn, it creates an environment where even the sane ones would feel tempted to checkout the movie at least once. And by the time you finish reading this post, Ra.One would have overtaken the collections of Bodyguard; one blotting ink mark spreads and totally eclipses another blotting ink mark!

This post was also published on MadAboutMoviez

 
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Posted by on November 1, 2011 in bollywood, movies

 

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aamir khan aur remakes ki daastaan – part 2 of 2

Click here for part 1 of 2

I thought I would assimilate the entire thing into a single post, but I was unable to do so. It has taken me 2 weeks to complete this because I was not able to dedicate myself totally to it. Anyways, here’s the next part, continuing with the number series.

Raja hindustani6. Jab Jab Phool Khile – 1965 : One of the earlier movies of Shashi Kapoor where he plays Raja, a houseboat owner-cum-guide. Rita, played by Nanda, visits Kashmir and she falls in love with the valleys. Not just the valleys, she falls in love with the charming boatman Raja too. She  promises Raja that she will convince her dad and get back to marry him. But Raja is shattered when Rita does not return for a very long time. Meanwhile Rita is being introduced to suitors as her dad presses for marriage. Rita returns to Kashmir and explains the situation to Raja, and they together hatch a plan to showcase Raja as a wellbred citizen who is prim and proper in his habit and mannerism. That is when Raja notices the difference in cultures and the superficiality of the city dwellers. What happens next and how Raja copes with this and finally gets Rita, forms the rest.

In 1996 Dharmesh Darshan along with Robin Bhat rehashed this movie and titled it Raja Hindustani. Aamir Khan played Raja, the cab driver-cum-guide and Karishma Kapoor played Arti Sehgal who visits the small town of Palankhet. The only thing that they added was the newborn child for whom Raja fights it out with Arti. The highlight of the movie, apart from the wonderful songs, was the drunk-scene of Aamir. Legend has it  hat Aamir being a method-actor actually got drunk so that it would look natural. Aamir won the Filmfare for Best Actor, but as usual he did not  turn-up and quite justifiably so, because it was a mediocre performance. Karishma looked amazingly beautiful and she walked away with Filmfare Best Actress. The movie also won the Fimlfare for Best Film, Best Music Director and Udit Narayan won the Best Singer for the Pardesi song. But this song was not as good as the original Pardesiyon Se Na Akhiyan Milana song.

7. On The Waterfront – 1954 : A story about corruption and total control of a dockyard was made starring Marlon Brando as Terry Malloy. Johnny Friendly rules the docks of Hoboken, New Jersey and Terry’s brother Charley is his lawyer who does all the cover-up job. Terry moves around as an aimless guy so johnny asks him to pry over the gathering of the dissenting voices against him and report him the events. Very innocently Terry reports Johnny about certain dock workers who want to lodge a complaint to the crime commission against him. Johnny is also involved in other illegal activities like betting on boxing matches and in one such match he wants Terry to lose the match since the odds against the opponent is high. Terry is disappointed by this but what actually turns him against Johnny is the incident where Johnny’s men throw over a dock worker into the railway track of an incoming train. But Terry lives with the guilt that he has been made use like a bait and the only way to find peace within himself is to depose against Johnny. The deceased’s younger sister Edie and Father Barry. When Terry becomes a threat to him, Johnny decides to get him eliminated. Terry and Johnny have a final confrontation where Terry testifies against Johnny and then fights him in front of all dock workers and decimates him.

This movie has been a source of inspiration for quite a few Bollywood movies. Let me start with Yash Chopra’s Deewar, which was supposedly
lifted from this. But the only thing common was the dockyard. In fact, Mukul Anand’s Hum was more of this movie than Deewar. Hum had the docks, the martinet Danny Dengzongpa as Bhaktavar, Gonsalves who dies fighting for the cause and his sister Jumma played by Kimi Katkar who wants Tiger aka Amitabh Bachchan to stand against the tyranny of Bhaktavar. So, Mukul Anand almost had the entire plot covered but he took it to a different logical conclusion with the reform of Tiger as Shekhar and how Bhaktavar returns 20 years later to haunt him.

In 1988, a lesser known movie called Kabzaa directed by Mahesh Bhat, was released. The movie starred Sanjay Dutt as Ravi and Raj Babbar as
Ranjit. Ranjit is a lawyer who works for Veljibhai[Paresh Rawal] who is a small time ‘dada’. Ravi is sent on small assignment to forcibly vacate the house of an idealist gandhain Ali Mohammaed [Alok Nath]. Ali reforms Ravi and Ravi turns against Veljibhai, and to avert a face-off between the two, Ranjit requests Ravi to flee from the scene as Veljibhai’s men are looking for him; he also hands Ravi a gun for his protection. All this was taken from OTW, but the backdrop had been changed from dockyard to Mumbai streets and from small time corruption to big time dadagiri.

Finally, 10 years later in 1998, Ghulam was made. The writer Anjum Rajabali, maintained the same setting of Mumbai and laid out the entire screenplay of OTW. He avoided the twists and turns that Kabzaa had taken, thereby remaining faithful to the original. Aamir Khan as Sidharth Marathe struck a chord with the audience. They related to him and sympathised with him in his pain and guilt of having been used as a pawn to eliminate Alisha’s [Rani Mukerjee] elder brother. Sidhu’s elder brother, played by Rajit Kapoor, advises Sidhu not to testify against Raunak  Singh[Sharat Saxena] and when he is not able to convince Sidhu he gives him a gun for protection. The same scenes were played out as in the original, and the audience cheered for Sidhu as he beat up Raunak Singh in the end. Aamir playing tapori for the 2nd time [1st being Rangeela] was amazing. He played it so differently, his mannerism and dialogue delivery and the Khandala song, which became the anthem of the nation, just added to the movie viewing experience. The 10-10 ka daud was shot brilliantly in Shanpada junction. Aamir gave it his all, the conviction in his performance was evident. He did total justice to the character and was almost there when compared to Marlon Brando’s performance.

8. Love Affair – 1939 : One of the most romantic movies to adorn the silver screen was released. It was about a French painter Michael Marnet, played by Charles Boyer, who meets Terry McKay[Irene Dunne] while they are on a cruise across Atlantic Ocean. They both are already engaged to other people but that does not prevent them from falling in love. The ship has a minor stop-over in a beautiful island where Michael’s grandmom stays; she finds Terry really charming and wishes the newfound couple all the luck. At the end of the cruise, Michael and Terry decide to meet on top of Empire State Building exactly after 6 months. While both are gearing up for the big day, Terry gets hit by a car and she is unable to make it. When she finds out that she cannot walk anymore she does not want to spoil Michael’s life and so she does not get in touch with him. But destiny brings them together again during a stage-play, where she successfully hides her handicap. After this meet, Michael wants to see her one last time and visits her apartment where he gets to know the truth. But her handicap cannot come in the way of true love and the two lovers unite.

So brilliant was the story-screenplay that this movie was remade in 1957 and titled An Affair To Remember based on the same screenplay,
without any changes. Cary Grant played the painter Nickie Ferrante and his love interest was played by Deborah Kerr who retained the same name Terry McKay. This movie did much better than its original and people remember this version and have almost forgotten the original one. Cary Grant and Deborah were perfectly cast and they did a wonderful job. The romance was so believable and so heart-warming that the American Film Institute considered this this as one of the most romantic movies of all time.

So timeless is the romance that Sleepless in Seattle, made in 1993, revolved around this movie. The character Annie Reed [Meg Ryan] and
her friend make references to AFTR and there are clips and dialogues from AFTR which appear all over the movie.

Anything as famous as AFTR had to come to Bollywood, sooner or later. So, in 1965 Ramanand Sagar re-wrote this with a role reversal of the two main leads in the movie titled Arzoo. Rajender Kumar as Gopal plays a doctor who meets Usha[Sadhna] in Kashmir during one of those yearly skiing events. They fall in love and decide to marry, but tragedy strikes as Gopal meets with an accident and loses his legs. He voluntarily walks out of Usha’s life so as to give her a better life. Finally, in the end sequence Usha sees him again, with the crutches, in a similar skiing  contest, and accepts him despite his handicap. All this happens after a whole lot of tear-jerking moments and sacrifices from Feroz Khan who plays Gopal’s friend.

Mann PosterAnyways, Inder Kumar anad Ashok Thakeria took it up to themselves to remake this movie again, retaining the original plot of a playboy painter. In 1999 they came-up with Mann, starring Aamir Khan as the painter Dev, and Manisha Koirala as his love quotient Priya. When the first few sequences were being shot in a ship a rumour spread that Titanic was being remade. But Mann was a blot in the name of AFTR. It did not retain the spirit of the original and the screenplay was tampered with the induction of unnecessary characters like Neeraj Vora[Nattu, Dev’s side-kick], Rani Mukherjee and Anil Kappor in guest appearance. The comic sequences of Dev and Nattu marred the movie, and the romance came undone due to some sleepwalk acting by Manisha. The music by Sanjeev-Darshan was the only saving grace of the movie. The grandmom sequence with Sharmila Tagore lacked sensitivity and warmth, it seemed like a gimmick. All in all, it was crass.

9. Memento – 2000 : A movie about anterograde amnesia [short-term-memory-loss] was made by Nolan brothers. The movie starred Guy Pearce who played an insurance fraud investigator. During a burglary his wife is killed and he is hit hard by severe psychological trauma where-in he is incapable of making new memory and his memory lapses every 15 minutes. He devices a method to recall things, he walks around with a polaroid camera and shoots every image and makes detailed notes about the person/place which can help him in recognizing them later. He is on a search for the killer of his wife. How he finds the killer with all the various clues forms the rest of the movie.

https://i1.wp.com/indihot.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/10/amir-khan-ghajini-photo-gallery2.jpgAR Murugadoss picked up the idea and the original plot of this movie, added the usual Indian tadka with songs, romance, violence, revenge
and came out with Ghajini in 2005, in Tamil. Surya essayed the role of the STML patient who was out there looking for a man named Ghajini, to avenge the death of his love Kalpana[Asin]. I dont think there is need to write anything else.

Inspired by the success of this movie, Murugadoss wished to remake this movie in Hindi. He roped in Aamir Khan, tweaked his screenplay to
remove some of the glitches like the double-role of Ghajini etc, asked Aamir to work-out and develop 8 packs to make the action sequences look believable. In 2008, the movie was released by the same name Ghajini. The rest is history, the movie raked in 200 crores in 2 weeks. By the way, I thought Aamir was brilliant in the movie. He brought out the angst of the character very well. The romance between him and Asin was  refreshing, and Rahman’s music gave a flair to the movie.

Let me end this by saying that Aamir Khan has made quite a few movies based on literary works. His famed debut with QSQT was straight out of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, 1947-Earth was the movie adaptation of Bapsi Sidhwa’s novel ‘Ice-candy Man’. And his next movie ‘3 Idiots’ is based on Chetan Bhagat’s ‘Five Point Someone’. I hope they expand the horizon of that movie to include the educational system machinery and expose the flaws.

Click here for part 1 of 2

This post was first published on PFC

 
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Posted by on May 24, 2010 in bollywood, hollywood, movies

 

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Akshaya Tritiya & Investment In Gold

As is customary, this Akshaya Tritiya too, I showed up at a Tanishq store to purchase the yellow metal in all its demand and glory. Very cleverly I timed my arrival at around 3pm, so I would face minimal rush. There was a huge crowd of people at the jewellery sections, but I just wanted to purchase a gold coin; no rush there.

There were just a few people, given the timing. I purchased a 10 gram gold coin of 24 karat; and it cost me 20,000+. For the past few years I have been purchasing gold coins on Akshaya Tritiya, so I went back and checked the previous bills.

In 2008, the same coin cost me 13,000+
In 2009, it cost me 16,000+ and now 20,000+

So, what does this say? Just the simple fact that gold is a great investment. Considering my 2008 purchase, the value has gone up by 50% and considering my 2009 purchase, the value has increased by 25%. So, there has been a consistent rise in prices by 25% every year.

No investment, except property and real estate, gives such high returns. If the money is locked up in FD’s or EPF’s, then too a 13,000 rupee investment would have given me 15,200 at simple interest of 8.5% and 16,000+ at compound interest of 8.5%. But 8.5% is a thing of the past, as of now 6.75% seems to be the norm for FD’s.

A friend of mine has been buying 1 gram gold every month, for the last 5 years. Instead of placing the amount in recurring deposit[RD], he buys gold. So, his 1 gram purchased in 2005 for 950/- is now worth 1950/-. Taking 1 gram for every month, in a year he bought 12 grams of gold. His investment of 11,400/- in 2005, is now worth 23,400/-. More than double!

Though gold rates too have their ups and downs, but being a precious metal its value will always be on the rise. Even if the value falls in future, the gold purchased can be used for making jewellery, all we need to pay is making charges and wastage; but not the price of gold. So, its a good investment overall. In fact, online trading has enabled trading in bullion as well. People are buying gold in their demat accounts, that seems to be the future. All that glitters is not gold, but all that is gold will always glitter.

Update 1:  Its May 2011, and this year too I purchased another 10gm coin and it cost me 24000+. A jump by 20% when compared to 2010. Gold prices just keeps appreciating.

Update 2:  Its Apr 2012, and this year too I purchased another 10gm coin and it cost me 30000+. A jump by 25% when compared to 2011.

 
 

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aamir khan aur remakes ki daastaan – part 1 of 2

Today, 14th March, is Aamir Khan’s birthday. I wish him a very Happy Birthday.

https://i0.wp.com/oorrkut.com/bollywood/wp-content/uploads/2008/08/aamir-khan.jpgI have wanted to write this article from a long time, to be precise after the release of Mann. Eventually, after the release and the super-success of Ghajini I have got down to writing it. There is something with Aamir and movie remakes, he has consistently been a part of movies which are remakes. Its definitely not his fault that he has featured in them, its the writer-director who were looking for a quick and readymade storylines  and of course the producer for easy money. And let me also say that he is not the only star to feature in remakes, as we all know, but the quality of the remakes is what differentiates him from the rest. Why I have analysed him is because, out of the 40 odd movies that he has made, nearly 10 of them have been remakes which is like 25%. Let me go ahead and write down about these movies in a chronological manner of their release wrt Aamir’s filmography.

1. It Happened One Night – 1934 : Clark Gable played the male lead Peter, he even went on to win the Oscar for the Best Actor. It was a
heart-warming movie with a smiple storyline. A small time reporter Peter is looking for a big story and he meets a high-browed lady Ellie
[Claudette Colbert] who has escaped from the clutches of her dad and is on the run to meet her beau. How they both make the journey from
Florida to NY, the small squabbles that they have and how they eventually fall in love with each other is what the movie is about.The
movie went on to win 5 Oscars; apart from Clark Gable, Claudette won the Best Actress, Frank Capra won the Best Director, it was awarded
the Best Movie and Best Writing/Adaptation.

The formula was a sure-shot success, and so in 1956 a movie named ‘Chori Chori’ starring Raj Kapoor and Nargis was released. Raj Kapoor
played the struggling reporter named Sagar while Nargis was Kammo. The highlight of this movie was the songs and especially the puppet-act of
Raj and Nargis. The movie had some brilliant compositions from Shankar-Jaikishan like ‘Panchhi Banoo Udti Phiroon’, ‘Aaja Sanam Madhur Chandni Mei Hum’, ‘Jahan Mai Jaati Hoon Wahin Chale Aate Ho’ and ‘Rasik Balma’. SJ won the Filmfare for Best Music Director.

If you watch Mehmood’s Bombay To Goa, you can see the same theme where Aruna Irani is trying to escape to meet her lover Shatrughan Sinha and is guided all the way by Amitabh Bachchan. But it was dished out in a different way, they changed the screenplay totally and added the
comedy angle to it. This occured to me just now, wonder why I did not think of it earlier.
Dil Hai Ki Manta Nahin
Anyways, the person who did not deviate from the original screenplay was the Robin Bhat-Mahesh Bhat duo. They stayed faithful to IHON and
in 1991 came Dil Hai Ki Manta Nahin starring Aamir Khan as Raghu Jaitley and Pooja Bhatt as Pooja. Aamir exuded the same kind of charm
as Clark Gable. In fact, he went a few notches up in the emotional sequences where he could neither stop Pooja from meeting her lover nor
could he tell her that he has fallen for her. Aamir played the role with gusto beginning with the telephone-booth sequence, then the
request-for-lift scene and ending it with the elopement. The entire journey was fantastic, but the magical moment has to be the one where
he starts humming ‘Hum Hain Rahi Pyar Ke’ with a cigarette between his lips and Pooja in his arms. Only after this does he realise that he
has started liking Pooja. The movie received 4 Filmfare nominations, for Best Actor, Best Director, Best Comedian [Anupam Kher playing
Pooja’s father] and Best Female Singer. Anuradha Paudwal took home the award for the title track, while the rest just remained nominated.

2. Breaking Away – 1979 : This was a really nice movie about a good-for-nothing dude Dave Stoller [Dennis Christopher] who has no aim
or ambition and leads a non-chalant life. His parents keep reminding him about his responsibilities but he just loves spending time with
his friends and riding the bicycle. He has a chance meeting with a beautiful girl Katherine [Robyn Douglass] and to make friends with her he fakes his identity to be a guitar playing Italian exchange student. While he is dating Katherine an entourage of Italian bikers happen to come to his town for a Little500 race. He loves watching them pratcise and shows his talent with the bicycle. He hopes to get close to them by showing that he can keep up to their pace, but he beats them in a friendly dash; but instead of lauding his effort they just push him into a ditch. That really breaks Dave’s herat and he loses all respect for the Italian cyclists. He decides to take part in the Little500 race wearing the ‘Cutters’ jersey; referring to the lesser privileged people who are not able to complete their education but take pride in hardwork. He ofcourse goes on to win the race and create history. The movie won the Oscar for Best Writing, Screenplay; but it lost in the 4 other categories Best Director, Best Picture, Best Actress and Best Music.

https://i0.wp.com/www.musichouseltd.co.uk/shop/images/JO%20JEETA%20WOHI%20SIKANDAR%20DVD.JPGIn 1992, Mansoor Khan took a lot of inspiration from this movie and made Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar. I have used the word ‘inspiration’ because the movie was not a scene-to-scene remake. Lots of new things were introduced, but the plot, storyline and the spirit of the original was kept intact. Mansoor wrote a brilliant screenplay and dialogues by Nasir Hussain were really good, they breathed a life into the Sanjaylal character played by Aamir Khan. They retained the sub-plot of Aamir faking his identity and calling himself a Xavier student so he can go around with Devika[Pooja Bedi] and ultimately she gets to know the truth. The friendship of Sanjaylal and Anjali[Ayesha Jhulka] was handled with maturity and utmost honesty. Mansoor Khan introduced an emotional quotient attaching a prestige to the Annual Cycle Race and added the nostalgia of Sanjaylal’s dad[Kulbhushan Kharbanda] having won the race once upon a time. And the burden of bringing home the cup rested on Ratanlal [Mamik], Sanjay’s elder brother. But when Ratanlal is severely injured from an accident inflicted upon by the Rajput College boys, Sanjaylal takes it upon himself to bring home the coveted honor and take revenge against the Rajput College boys. The movie won the Filmfare for Best Film. Aamir was excellent in the movie, to say the least.

3. Houseboat – 1958 : This movie starred Carry Grant as Tom Winters, who works in the state department of Washington and Sophia Loren as
Cinzia who is the daughter of an Italian conductor. The movie is about Tom whose estranged wife dies in a car crash and he decides to raise the 3 kids, but the kids despise him. In his effort to befriend the kids he takes them to a concert, but the youngest kids get bored and goes out to have some fresh air and play his harmonica. The kid runs into Cinzia who has runaway from home after a small squabble with her dad. Cinzia is able to strike a chord with the kids and since she has nowhere to go, she accepts Tom’s offer of being their housemaid/nanny. After some wandering around and having seen their travelling house [home on wheels] getting destroyed due to a speeding train; they finally move into a houseboat. Tom’s sister-in-law who has a crush on him tries to woo, but slowly and surely Tom finds himself falling for Cinzia. How they get married and how the kids finally accept their dad and new mom is what the rest of the movie is about.

https://i1.wp.com/s.chakpak.com/se_images/13474_-1_564_none/hum-hai-rahi-pyar-ke-wallpaper.jpgIn 1993 a movie titled after a popular Dev Anand song released, the movie was Hum Hain Rahi Pyar Ke. It was again the combination of Robin Bhat-Mahesh Bhat who systematically copied the movie scene-by-scene. The only thing that they changed was that, the kids were Aamir Khan’s nephews and nieces and not his own. And Aamir becomes the caretaker of the kids after the sad demise of his sister and brother-in-law in a car crash. They also introduced the character Mishraji [Mushtaq Khan] who had returned from Japan after getting trained in assembly-line production; and they made use of this by adding the twist of having to deliver the bulk order of 1 lakh shirts. Apart from this, rest of the movie remained faithful to the original. It was so faithful that the Cinzia character’s Italian dialogues were translated to suit Juhi Chawla’s tamil character Vyjayanthi. The concert, mouth-organ playing kid, taking the kids to visit the museum, Vyjayanthi’s advise of treating the kids with maturity were all the same as in the original. All the kids did a great job, especially Kunal Khemu who went onto become an actor. Aamir was also the Assisstant Director of this movie, in fact this was the phase when Mahesh Bhat was considered to be the most busy director, so busy that he was supposedly giving instructions over the phone; that was the reason for Aamir to step-in as Assisstant Director. This did not stop the movie from winning the Filmfare for Best Actress, Best Film and Best Lyricist[Sameer].

4. Kramer Vs Kramer – 1979 : It was a movie about a marriage gone wrong and a divorce case ending up in a courtroom. Dustin Hoffman as
Ted Kramer, a workaholic from advertising industry marries Joanna Kramer, played by Merly Streep. One day when he returns home after being given a big assignment with a new client, he finds his wife walking away. She wishes to walk-out on him, leaving behind her son Billy. Now, its upto Ted to look after Billy. He does so with some help from Margaret, his neighbour. One day, as they sit around the park while the kid is playing, Billy has a minor accident and is bleeding profusely. Ted makes a mad rush to a hospital amidst the traffic and speeding cars. A year and half later, Joanna returns to seek custody of Billy and this is where a bitter court battle ensues. There is a lot of bad blood and lot of vicious remarks being made about Ted’s carelessness in taking care of the baby. Finally, Joanna being a mom, wins the battle on emotional grounds and Ted is left alone. The movie won 5 Oscars, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Director, Best Picture and Best Writing, Screenplay.

https://i1.wp.com/www.musichouseltd.co.uk/shop/images/Akele%20Hum%20Akele%20Tum.jpgMansoor Khan could not resist this movie as well. In 1995 he remade this movie and titled it ‘Akele Hum Akele Tum’. He just changed the fields of interest, i.e., Aamir Khan as Rohit is a promising singer who sings for a club and awaiting his opportunity to sing in a movie. His love interest Kiran, played by Manisha Koirala, is learning classical music. She is a fan of Rohit and she makes it to one of his New Year shows where they meet and falling in love seems inevitable. Soon after the breezy romance they get married and realise that life is not easy. Kiran is ambitious and she is not willing to sacrifice her singing so she walks out on him, leaving Rohit with his son Sunil, played by Aadil. How Rohit and Sunil manage  together and how Kiran comes back into their lives to reclaim Sunil forms rest of the courtroom drama. Aamir gave a very well restrained performance but the same cannot be said of Manisha. The movie had some good songs but was marred by plagiarism where Anu Malik lifted the famous Last Christmas song of George Michael. Also, there was a rubbish spoofing of Nadeem-Shravan duo; Shafi Inamdar and Harish Patel played the crook music directors Amar-Kaushal, who are after Rohit’s composition. I am not sure whose idea it was, TIPS guys or Anu Malik but it was in bad taste. Anyways, the movie bombed at the box-office. Only Aamir and Adil’s performance added some value to the otherwise dull movie.

5. Godfather – 1972 : How does one even start-off talking about a movie like ‘Godfather’. I shall not go into the plot and drama because its totally unnecssary. And I will not be able to say anything that has not already been said.

In 1975 Feroz Khan paid tribute to Godfather with his version named Dharmatma. But he twisted the plot towards the second half, where instead of allying with his father and their forces Feroz plays against them. Feroz Khan repeated the same concept in Jaanbaaz and Yalgaar without much success. In 1992 a movie named Zulm Ki Hukumat was released. The movie starred Dharamendra as Pitamber Kohli and Govinda played Pratap Kohli aka Michael of Godfather. This was one of the first proper remakes of Godfather. The movie fared pretty well and I liked Govinda’s perfromance.

https://i1.wp.com/content6.flixster.com/movie/10/85/20/10852076_pro.jpgEven after all this, we still had Aamir in line to pay tribute to Godfather. So, he acted his part in Atank Hi Atank which released in 1995. He played the role of Michael, which Al Pacino had played. In fact, it was quite fascinating to see Aamir with a moustache and his wet-hair all combed back, he looked like he meant business. This movie had Rajnikanth playing Sonny, I think the only time that Aamir and Rajni have ever worked  together. But none of this could save the movie at the box-office.

to be continued …

Click here for part 2 of 2

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Posted by on March 14, 2010 in bollywood, hollywood, movies

 

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Holi And The Unholy

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Wish you all a very happy and prosperous Holi. This is one of the most important festivals for us as it marks the victory of good over evil. Yes, Dussehra/Diwali are not the only festivals celebrating the end of sin/sinners; but Holi also is celebrated for the same reason. If we go back to mythology, Prahlad sat on the lap of Holika, the evil sister of Hiranyakashyap, on the pyre and she was burnt to death while Prahlad was unharmed due to his devotion to Lord Vishnu. We still re-play this in the form of Holika Dehan.

Hiranyakashyap had been granted a wish that he would neither be killed by man nor creature, neither in the day nor night, neither inside the palace nor out, neither on sky nor on earth and neither by knowledge/debate nor by weapons. Vishnu then appeared as Narsimha, and killed Hiranyakashyap at dusk with his clawed hands, laying him on his lap with each leg on either side of the mukhya-dwar.

Ok, now that we are through with mythology lets get down to films. Although the festival is marked with wonderful colors, its usage in our cinema has always been as a dark plot or as a turning point. The cheerfulness around is lost due to some gruesome incident, its probably the air which does it. People are so high on emotions that they end-up being a part of some life-changing events.

The most disturbing Holi sequence I have seen was in Damini, where a bunch of rich-spoilt-brats rape the maid-servant of the house. And although Damini[Meenakshi Sheshadri] is a witness to this horrific incident, they try to shut her up to maintain the dignity of the family, khandan ki izzat ka sawaal. What an irony, if they did have some dignity to begin with, such an incident would not have occured. From hereon, the whole movie revolves around this event and Damini’s fight for justice. Some of the sequences in the movie are repulsive, like the court-room sequence where the opposition lawyer Chadha[Amrish Puri] asks awkward questions to Damini.

Silsila was another movie which had a brilliant Holi sequence. The song Rang Barse is legendary, and any Holi is incomplete without this song. The song is a part of the narrative and brings out beautifully the relationship that Amit[Amitabh Bachchan] and Chandni[Rekha] share, which otherwise would have been difficult to disclose. The song penned by Harivansh Rai Bachchan, is so suggestive:

Bela chameli ka sej bichhaya
Soye gori ka yaar, balam tarse, rang barse
Rang barse bheege chunar wali, rang barse

It might have taken lots of scenes and dialogues, but this one song did the trick. The body language of all the characters involved in this song is marvellous; Jaya Bhaduri and Sanjeev Kumar as the helpless spouse, Amitabh as a poet lost in their celebration of love, and Rekha caught in-between the reality of the situation and the fantasy world of endless love.

Another Amitabh Bachchan movie Baghban had a lovely Holi song holi khele raghubeera awadh mei holi khele raghubeera. The song was sung with great gusto by Amitabh himself, but what followed the celebrations was heart-breaking. Amitabh’s children decide that the aged couple must live separately with each of the brothers for a period of 6 months, thereby helping them reduce the financial burden. The happiness of the moment is marred by the heartless call taken by the very kids he brought-up with such love and affection. This culminated in him writing a book, and changing the course of their lives.

Of course nobody can forget Gabbar Singh roaring Holi Kab Hai? Kab Hai Holi? He plans an attack on the Ramgarh village on that day, spoil the festive mood, and to teach the villagers a lesson that Gabbar se tumhe ek hi admi bacha sakta hai, khud Gabbar! His plan is thwarted, but not before some action, some gunshots, some cleverness by Amitabhsome cleverness by Amitabh and some blood to add more colors to the already colorful day.

In stark contrast with the many hues of the festival is the presence of a widow in a white saree. This has been captured many-a-times in movies like Kati Patang, Mohabbatein and Sholay. Holi is the symbol of free spirit and boundless joys, and film-makers have juxtaposed this with the colorless world of a widow who is constrained by society and she has no freedom whatsoever. In Sholay, this festival is showcased twice; both with a marked difference. While the first Holi was shot with Jaya Bhaduri making merry on the occasion and sparing nobody; the second Holi was a colorless bland affair as she was a widow then. These contrasting images stay with us for a long time.

Holi marks the breaking of shackles in the song Aaj Na Chhodenge Bas Humjoli where a gushing Rajesh Khanna sings to Asha Parekh in Kati Patang. The sorrow and loneliness of a widow is brought out well in the simple words of Anand Bakshi as Lata Mangeshkar sings the following lines:

Apni apni kismat hai
koi hase koi roye
rang se koi ang bhigoye
koi Asuan se nain bhigoye

Holi brings the winds of change in Gurukul of Mohabbatein where it was never celebrated before. SRK adorns Amitabh Bachchan’s forehead with a tilak and its followed by a Holi song Soni soni aankhiyon wali. Here, the widow played by Preeti Jhanghiani is caught-up in the persuasion of playing Holi :

Jimmy Shergill:
Gam ho ya koi khushi, Purva ka jhonka hai.
Ek aaye ek jaayega, Kyon dil ko roka hai.

Preeti Jhanghiani:
Is dil ko humne nahin, Hame dil ne roka hai.
Koi bata de zara, Kya sach kya dhoka hai?

SRK:
Ye duniya saari, Badi hai pyari,
Yahi ek sach hai, Ye sab rang bade suhaane hain.

The movie Darr also has a famed sequence involving Holi where an obsessed lover is trying to get a glimpse of his  beloved, wants to share the happiness and joy of Holi with his object of affection. Rahul, played by SRK, takes up the challenge of showing himself up at Kiran’s door and smearing gulaal on her face. Juhi Chawla, playing Kiran, is totally engrossed in the festivity; while paying money to the bandwala guys, Rahul applies gulaal on Kiran’s cheeks  and wishes her in his menacing words  KKKKKiran. There begins a chase where a furious Sunil, played by Sunny Deol, is after Rahul. The scene which starts with gulaal, ends in blood with Sunil smashing a bottle on SRK’s head.

Holi ke din dil khil jaate hain, rangon mein rang mil jaate hain
Gile shikwe bhul ke doston, dushman bhi gale mil jaate hain

Although the above lyrics were from Sholay, it was totally justified in the case of Saudagar. The two friends-turned-enemies, Veer Singh played by Dilip Kumar and Rajeshwar Singh played by Rajkumar, get back together on Holi festival. Rajeshwar declares that nobody dare throw color on him, thats when Veeru takes a handful of gulaal and hurls it at him, thereby ending ages of hatred between them and brings them together once again.

The above sequence is what I wish for everybody around, heal the world. Lets take this opportunity to make love, not war; win friends and not create enemies; that’s the true spirit of Holi.

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Posted by on March 1, 2010 in bollywood, movies

 

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Discerning Few : Rafi Sings For Bachchan

Today is Rafi’s 29th death anniversary. Hope his soul is in peace.

na fankaar tujh sa tere baad aya
mohammed rafi tu bahut yaad aya

– A song from movie Kroadh

Just the other day I was watching the song and something struck me. I felt that the song was ironical in so many ways. Although its a tribute to Rafi Saab, it was sung by Md.Aziz, a so-called Rafi clone, whose voice is such a far cry from the soothing and melodious voice of Rafi. And the fact that the song was filmed on Amitabh Bachchan, whereas Rafi hardly sang a dozen songs for him.

That got me thinking of all the songs which Rafi Saab rendered for AB. Among the pearls of Kishore da songs, I really had to try hard to find the gems that Rafi had sung. And quite truly I found very few of those. I still wonder why the legendary singer was given such few songs to sing for the megastar. While I do agree that Kishore had become the defacto voice for AB, but you still had Mukesh singing for him in Kabhi Kabhie, Manhar Udhas sang a song in Abhimaan, Shabbir Kumar sang a dozen of them during the mid-1980’s in movies like Coolie and Mard, Md.Aziz sang for him in Khuda Gawah and more, Kumar Sanu gave us a nasal AB in Jaadugar and Geraftar; then why did music composers of 1970’s not give more songs to Rafi Saab? Anyways, instead of cribbing about what did-not and could-not happen, let us just enjoy whatever little that’s available of this actor-singer combination.

While I was making a quick list of the songs, much to my surprise I found that Manmohan Desai was the only director who got Rafi Saab to record for a lot of those BigB songs. And invariably, Laxmikant-Pyarelal was the music composer for the Desai flicks like Desh Premee, Naseeb and Suhaag. In fact, even outside of Manmohan Desai films, LP made use of Rafi’s tones for Dostana and Ek Nazar.

Let me start with one of the most melodious duets of Indian cinema, Teri Bindiya Re, what a composition it is! Everytime I hear it, I go into a wonderland of my own dream sequence. Lata-Rafi, at their very best, just take us back to the basics of classical training; and without straining a single chord deliver such fantastic melody. SD Burman, the music director who made this possible, should be given huge credit for this evergreen song. I only wish that Majrooh Saab had written a few more stanzas so that Lata-Rafi could cast a longer spell of magic. Why the hell is this song so short? Under 4 minutes! Ok, here I go cribbing again….forget it. Let me enjoy, thanking God for those little mercies that the song still exists in the hearts and minds of people.

Another Lata-Rafi duet, which did not get much airtime because the movie did not do well, was the song Patta Patta Boota Boota from the movie Ek Nazar. It was a LP composition, much in sync with the movie but not with the times that were. Its a forgotten song which comes up only when people talk about Mir’s poetry and/or Rafi’s voice and the effortless rendition. What a fine song, and it does not look odd on Bachchan’s persona either.

Let me stepback for a minute, one of the first songs which Rafi sang for BigB was for the movie Parwana and the song was Yu Na Sharma . Madan Mohan was the music composer and the situation was party-like where Kishore da sang the happy version of the song picturized on Navin Nischol. The same song is later sung in a sad version by Rafi for AB. The mood changes, the flavor changes, the voice changes, face changes but the melody remains. AB’s sullen expression and Rafi’s tones of dismay makes for such a beautfiul watch.

Another somber song which Rafi rendered wonderfully for AB was Mere Dost Kissa Ye Kya ho Gaya in Dostana. The strained relationship between AB and Shatru is brought out so well in this song. A restrained Rafi and a clean-shaven, boyish hair-cut and yet a grave-looking Bachchan was a treat. There is so much emotion in those words sung by Rafi and the expression on AB’s face is just unforgettable. In fact, except for this song, all other songs of Dostana were sung by Kishore da; including the title song, Dillagi Ne Di Hawa etc. And yet, for this song LP chose Rafi who did total justice to this gloomy song.

Having mentioned the above songs, let me now come to the Manmohan Desai and LP combo. Desh Premee was quite a long winded movie with so many twists and turns, typical of any Desai movie. The movie was based on patriotism, regional, caste, creed and racial differences. Kishore da sang the fun songs Khatoon Ki Khidmat Mei, Gore Nahi Hum Kaale Sahi etc. But it was Rafi’s song of unity in diversity that won hearts. The title song, Nafrat Ki Lathi Todo, was symbolic of Desai’s movies. Though this song may not count among best of Rafi songs, but its the perfect song for national integration. And keeping in tradition with all the patriotic songs that Rafi has sung.

Teri Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi song, which later gave the title to Adi Chopra’s movie, was sung by Rafi for another Desai movie Suhaag, with music by LP. BigB in the disguise of a ek tara strung sardar and Rekha behind the garb for almost the entire song could have spelt disaster. But AB and Rekha carried it off, with Rafi crooning this playful number and Shailendra Singh lyrically rebutting him.

Another song from the same movie was the dandiya number, Sabse Bada Tera Naam O Sherowali, was devotionally sung by Rafi. Much later, Mehul Kumar copied the same sequence in Krantiveer, where the hero sings for Maa Sherawali while waiting for the villain to arrive on the scene. Anyways, Suhaag was an exceptional case where Rafi sang entirely for AB. There were two other songs, Athra Baras Ki Tu Hone Ko Ayi filmed on AB and Rekha in her kotha; and Aye Yaar Sun was a silly song where AB was training a blind Shashi Kapoor to ride a bike on his instructions, basically AB literally doing a backseat driving. Nowhere in the movie do we feel that Rafi’s voice does not suit BigB, at least this movie should have opened more doors for this combo. But probably the box-office report and producer’s superstition held them back from doing so.

Betwixt Desh Premee and Suhaag came Desai’s Naseeb. And much before the Hey-Baby’s and the Om-Shanti-Oms, there was John Jaani Janardhan. A star-studded song which was opportunistically filmed during the golden jubilee celebrations of Desai’s Dharam Veer. Desai made the best of the situation by shooting the song as guests kept coming in; they swayed a little, lip-synced a little and the song created history. This was another song which is a symbol of Desai’s secular credentials and all-inclusive approach. And Rafi singing to the tunes of LP was icing on the cake. He gave the song the much required gaiety and enjoyment without missing a single beat. It was one of the more overtly commercial songs of Rafi that went very well with AB’s merriment.

I would like to mention two more songs which were not sung for AB, but nevertheless AB was the proxy of the voice. The song was filmed on unknown faces, but the thoughts and feelings were of AB. One of the song is Deewane Hain Deewano Ko Na Ghar Chahiye from Zanjeer which reflected AB’s thoughts in the movie; and the other is Ruthe Rab Ko Manana Asaan Hai from Majboor. Both songs were sung with great enthusiasm by Rafi Saab, although they were not to be shot on the main lead. That goes on to show the humility of this man who valued the song for what they were, nice compositions.

Amidst all these amusement let me not forget one of my favourite romantic songs of Rafi which also happens to be picturized on AB, which is Tumse Door Rehke. The movie was Aadalat and the music composer was Kalyanji-Anandji, perhaps the only time that the duo got Rafi to sing for AB. The song has such a nice ring to it, filled with fondness and yearning and the magic of Rafi’s voice and expression.

Although Kishore da has sung more songs of AB, memorable ones too, I cherish these Rafi tracks as well. These songs should not be lost in the vast ocean of AB songs.

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Posted by on July 31, 2009 in bollywood, movies

 

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Paan Singh Tomar – A Soldier, An Athlete, A Bandit

I had not heard of PST ever, until the day Tigmanshu Dhulia announced that he would be making a movie on him.

Initially I thought it was some fictitious character coz the name sounded quite strange. but i was in for a big surprise when i did a bit of reserach on PST and realised that Tigmanshu was getting ready to shoot a biopic on a real life character.

PST is quite an enigma, his story is definitely worth telling. a man who served the army in the ‘Rajputana Rifles’, took to the tracks and created national records in steeplechase, picked up arms and became a bandit and finally was shot dead by police in an encounter. What a fascinating tale to tell!

In 1958 National Games held in Cuttack, he timed 9mins & 12.4 sec in the steeplechase event and created a national record. Later, in 1964 Open Meet he broke his own record at the Karnail Singh stadium, Delhi with a timing of 9mins & 4 sec.

In between the two records, in 1962 during the India-Germany meet he won the gold medal.

So, what made hin take up the gun? 1960’s was a difficult phase for india. there was the impact of 2 wars and of course the widespread poverty and slow-rate of development. maybe such social issues and class barrier, impoverished demography, and a non-paying sports field and army-life may have pushed him into desperation. He became a bandit!

And he was finally put to rest in a police encounter. a sad end to a life which had seen more glories and deserved much more than he got.

It will be difficult for Tigmanshu to translate this complex story on screen because very less is known abt PST. There is not much info available, no photographs or videos of his athletic skills etc. I believe his coaches and close friends are still there to recount the tale.

What I have stated above as a disadvantage can turn into advantage because it gives Tigmanshu the freedom to mould the character any-which-way since little is known about him. And with Irfan Khan playing the lead, I am sure he will do justice to the character. All the best to the team of PST. Hope to see this character come alive on screen, pretty soon.

 
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Posted by on May 19, 2009 in bollywood, general

 

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Learning How to Learn

Whenever we get any new topic that has a test or some kind of compulsory feedback attached to it, we tend to panic. The reason for this panic reaction is that, as we age, our ability to grasp new subject or retain new thoughts reduces. Not just that, but our minds are also fatigued and attention span has drastically reduced due to the arrival and onslaught of smartphones.

In such a situation, a course like this comes as a breather and re-affirms the belief that we can still learn by using certain mental tools and techniques. The course is vast, but I shall try to elucidate a few of the topics discussed, which I sincerely believe that you would find use for it.

Topic A: Focussed and diffuse modes of thinking

Focussed mode of thinking is used when we are doing a task that requires our total attention, like solving a critical problem. We know what exactly is to be done, so we put all our energy into it, without getting distracted.
But what if the problem is of a different nature and not similar to what has been resolved earlier. Here, the diffuse mode comes into picture, whereby we relax and think about it.  We usually take a break by going for a coffee or on a long walk, take ourselves away from the problem in hand. And suddenly when we get back to our desk, we find that the solution has just occurred to us. Thats the diffuse mode of thinking.

Topic B: Visualization in learning

This is a powerful tool which helps us in recalling certain events or historical data/facts. We try to weave an imaginary chain of events which will help us remember things better. I usually forget to fill up the gas tank of the car, and this has led to terrible situations of getting stranded on express ways. So, whenever I enter the car, I just imagine a genie perched on the fuel meter , dancing around and teasing me that the fuel is “low” and I would be in problem. This immediately draws my attention to the fuel guage. As simple as that.

Topic C: Interleaving

Studying a new subject in one go and cramming ourselves isn’t the best solution for learning. By doing this, we may complete the syllabus but the understanding remains zero. So, what we ought to do is, learn a little everyday. Build up the infomration brick by brick and erect that wall of knowledge. And every few days, revisit the topics that were covered. This enables the short term memory to get converted to long term memory, by constant revision.

With these techniques, I feel much more confident of learning something new,

 
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Posted by on August 26, 2014 in general

 

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Risk & Opportunity: Managing Risk For Development

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Posted by on July 23, 2014 in general

 

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2013 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 9,100 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 3 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

 
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Posted by on January 1, 2014 in general