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slumdog millionaire – a true story

AR Rahman picked up 2 Grammy awards today for Slumdog Millionaire

This is an astounding achievement. Slumdog Millionaire sweeping the Oscars, just as it had done at the GG and Baftas. Its a true story of survival, of destiny and of dreaming big.

I am not talking about Jamaal and Saleem, I am talking about Rahman and Resul and all other Indians involved with this movie. These guys, from a humble background, on the dint of their hardwork, committment and dedication to the art, grit and determination, went on to win international awards and accolades. And unlike Jamaal, who took a wild guess at the last answer to become a millionaire, they have come up the hard way.

AR Rahman – We all know of Rahman’s struggling days, how after death of his father his family had to put musical instruments on hire to make ends meet. Here’s your true story of a boy who starts playing those very instruments to make a living, who converts to another faith to make peace with himself and find solace, who starts off as a musician creating jingles, then gets a big break in Mani Ratnam movie, moves to Hindi film music, then conquers the imagination of west with his Bombay Dreams and finally wins the GG, Bafta and Oscar … there’s your movie. A man with love in his heart, music in his soul, dreams on his mind and destiny on his forehead. AR Rahman, the flagbearer of Indian film music, winning two Oscars, one for Original Score and the other for Original Song, this is a dream come true.

Resul Pookutty– an FTII product, who moved to Mumbai to work in sound-mixing and did some great work in Black, Bluffmaster, Saawariya, Gandhi My Father[his self-confessed best work until now] and finally SDM. From anonymity to stardom, but it has not changed him a wee bit. He won the Oscar for Sound Mixing, shared the honors with Ian Tapp and Richard Pryke.

Gulzar – a poet, a wordsmith, a man with some brilliant thoughts and the conviction with which he pens his thoughts, is one of the best writers that Inida has produced. He started his career way back in 1960’s, assissting Bimal Roy, writing dialogues, penning lyrics, then went onto write some fantatsic stories which he directed and brought to light with his wonderful screenplay. His volume of work speaks for itself, ranging from social issues to political battleground to soft and sensitive children’s movie to the subtle romantic moments which we remember long after time has faded all other memories. His command of urdu, phaarsi and hindi is just amazing. From winning a dozen awards back home to winning an Oscar for Original Song, he shared the honors with AR Rahman, he come a long way.

Anil Kapoor – born in a chawl in Tilak Nagar, Bombay in 1958. He was educated in Chembur. His father was a film producer and so was his brother, but they always seemed to be unlucky with their production house becasue they bandked on the wrong movies. After tasting success with Mr.India and other works like Lamhe, Tezaab etc they produced RKRCKR which was a disaster. To make-up for the financial losses he made some really crappy movies like Andaz and Mr.Azad. But he came out of that bad patch with some really good movies like 1942ALS, Virasat, Taal etc. He has seen the ups and downs of the film industry, the dust behind the stars. Though he was neither nominated nor won any award, he danced and celebrated the most whenever SDM picked an award. His enthusiasm was rubbing off on everybody and created really good vibes.

Irfan Khan, Saurabh Shukla – fantastic actors in their own rights. Irfan said in some interview that his role in SDM was chopped for the benefit of the movie, that’s how non-interfering and unselfish he is, just lets his work do the talking. A brilliant actor who has made his mark in the west as well, with movies like The Warrior and Namesake. Saurabh is a terrific writer himself, and his effortless acting is wonderful. Whether he is playing kallu mama of Satya or the chomping-glory boss in Dasvidaniya, he does it with such ease and finesse. Their contribution in the movie might have been small, but was noticeable.

Dev Patel, Freida Pinto – they have just started out and this comes as a shot in the arm for them. From hereon, they can choose their career and movies, as well as their bf’s and gf’s.

And finally, Danny Boyle, the man who made all this possible. Though I have my own issues with the movie, nevertheless, he deserves every bit of the success that has come his way. He made it possible to bring together these talents under one cinematic vision. Although I do believe that, had the movie been from an Indian production house, it would not have been noticed so much, but yet, its the content that matters too. He took his chance, shot the movie in India with total conviction, over-played a few things, but still the end-product was endearing. Its a proof that hardwork always pays off, albeit a little late. The moment his name was associated with the movie, it started going places. His credibility drove the movie, brought-in the audiences, entralled the masses and the critics and made history.

Smile Pinki was another entrant which won the Best Documentary/Short Subject award. They made it to the red carpet all the way from UP, fairytale stuff. Awesome stuff !

Its a red-letter-day for us, we should mark this day in the annals of film history and otherwise…3 oscar winners bring glory to India, make us proud. Jai Ho !!!

This post was first published on PFC

 
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Posted by on February 1, 2010 in AWARDS, bollywood, movies

 

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Jeevan Ek Sanghursh : Dede Mera Dede Tu Bees Rupaiya

 
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Posted by on November 8, 2009 in bollywood, movies

 

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The Curious Case Of Shilpa Shetty

Lady Limelight is a jealous lady. She wants all of your attention. You don’t have any time to think of anything else but Lady Limelight, because pretty soon that light will be shinning on somebody else. So you better do it while you can.
Buck Owens

https://i2.wp.com/www.bollywood-songs.net/images/shilpa-shetty13.jpgYesterday I was seeing a news bulletin about Shilpa Shetty wishing to meet Jade Goody, and she was telling the media that she is hoping for a miracle to save Jade Goody. She hadn’t completed the sentence yet and I laughed out loud. How fake was she! I have always felt that she is so superficial and yet successful at portraying the apparent shallowness.

If you see her filmography, you will observe that in the last 10 years in Bollywood, she has not given more than 3 hits. In 2000 she had just one hit in Dhadkan, then next 5 years were barren. Then, in 2005 she was part of the success of Dus. And her last hit was Life-In A Metro which released 2 years ago. So, she has only 3 movies from the past decade to boast about. But still, she continues to hog the limelight and be in the news. I am just amazed at how she manages to do it, make public appearance at all the events possible mainly because she is invited to them. What makes her a part of the guest-list?? No cinematic achievements, not a supermodel, not a sports personality, a mediocre actress, not venturing into politics and yet, you name the event and she is there.

Apart from the goodwill gesture shown towards Jade Goody, her last impactful action was buying a 11.7% stake in the IPL team of Rajasthan Royals, in partnership with her boyfriend/fiance Raj Kundra; following the footsteps of Preity Zinta.

Shilpa started her film career with a bang. Her first movie Baazigar hit the silver-screen in 1993, which starred SRK and Kajol was a superhit and her song Kitaabein Bahut Si Padhi Hongi Tumne and Aye Mere Humsafar was quite a rage. Though her acting was nothing to talk about, as the movie gained popularity due to SRK’s anti-hero portrayal, she gained a lot from it. Her next big hit was Main Khiladi Tu Anadi which released in 1994 and had Akshay Kumar and Saif Ali Khan. She played a dual role in the movie, and the song Churake Dil Mera became an instant hit.

After this she lost her track, got romantically involved with Akshay Kumar. Stardust magazine had printed a story about her alleged affair with the actor and was quite disparaging. Shilpa sued the magazine claiming that it had caused her immense loss in terms of movie offers and the ensuing finances, as well as mental strain and emotional drain-out. She won the lawsuit in 2000, successfully.

Around the same time, she did a quick belly-jig item number Dilwalo Ke Dil Ka Karaar Lootne, Mai Aayi Hoon UP Bihar Lootne in the movie Shool. This was a sort of comeback vehicle for Shilpa as she was almost forgotten by the public. She then signed on Dhadkan with Akshay Kumar and Sunil Shetty, directed by Dharmesh Darshan. This movie was a re-launch for her career and gave her a new lease of life. The songs of the movie did well, and the hype around the movie helped it at the box-office. Shilpa Shetty was back in all her designer wears and wedding collection garments, but her acting was really-really bad. All she did throughout the movie was sulk.

I don’t think this is worth mentioning, but becasue she was nominated by Filmfare for Best Supporting Actress in the movie Rishtey, I am writing about it. This forgettable movie released in 2002, and starred Anil Kapoor and Karishma Kapoor. Shilpa Shetty played a fisherwoman Vaijanti, and it was over the top acting, total ham-scam. She later went on to do a few Kannada and Telugu movies.

When she stopped mattering to Bollywood, out of the blue came a case of her familial linkage to the underworld. In brief, she had signed a 3 crore deal with Praful sarees and she was reportedly paid just 50 lakhs. So, she allegedly used underworld links for extortion of the remaining amount and threatening the owners of Praful sarees. Mumbai police even arrested her father on such accounts and that case is pending in the court.

After her brief disappearance and few more trashy movies, came Phir Milenge, in 2004. The movie had Salman Khan and Abhishek Bachchan, and was a rehash of Philadelphia. The movie wasn’t all that good, but AIDS awareness was the in-thing back then, and this movie rode on the waves and did decent business. But, as far as acting was concerned, she came a cropper. All the glycerin shown through, and it was kind of horror show because she had no make-up on; that itself made her thinner by 2kg.

In 2005 came Dus, where she played the Indian version of Lara Croft, with all those body-suits and fight stunts. When she made an appearance in Big Brother, she called herself the Angelina Jolie of India; wonder what gets into the heads of these celebrities, they just start flying. Anyways, in the same year, 2005, came Fareb, with her younger sister Shamita Shetty and Manoj Bajpai. Another painful watch, I kept wondering how Manoj must’ve handled the torture.

Then came the year of reckoning for Shilpa Shetty, 2007 was the year that entrenched her in people’s mind forever. She appeared in the celebrity edition of Big Brother and from then on, she has not stopped making headlines. I am still wondering as to who proposed her name for the show to be held in UK. Not many in UK would have known her, she was not among the best or top actresses in Bollywood and yet she was invited to Big Brother. Pure luck, fate, destiny, what else?

Anyways, she made it to Big Brother but she was unconvincing. Finally, the moment had arrived, the racial slur against her, which turned the tables in her favour. The racial abuse caused a nation-wide stir and became a part of prime-time reporting. An unknown Indian actress was suddenly occupying tv-space, web-space, space in print-media, and she gained popularity. The tv channel, Channel4, started receiving complains and protests demanding an apology, and in no time the votes in her favor kept piling on. She eventually won the reality show, and it was like a moral victory for all Indians.

Barely had she regained composure that Richard Gere took her breath away, literally. Shilpa Shetty and Richard Gere were on a AIDS awareness campaign, thanks to her involvement in Phir Milenge, and Gere was merely demonstrating that AIDS does not spread by kissing. He casually took Shilpa in his arms and planted a kiss on her cheeks. That was enough for the moral brigade to raise a furor and seek apologies from her. Shilpa may have forgotten the kiss, but she would definitely remember the protests against her. This was not her first brush with the self appointed custodians of culture. In 2006, she was summoned by a court in Chennai over a PIL filed against her for posing indecently. She and Reema Sen had posed for a photo-session in navel-revealing costumes and that irked the conservative narrow-minded culture-vultures.

Back to 2007, her movie Life-In A Metro released and it was received very well by the audience. Her demure portrayal as a housewife who is wronged by her chauvinist husband, played by Kaykay, got her some rave reviews. And in the same year she was signed up by Vijay Mallya to become the brand ambassador for Romanov.

Still riding on the success of Big Brother, she was made the host of the 2nd edition of Big Boss to be telecast on Indian screen in 2008. As usual, she looked glamorous, but was pathetic at hosting the show. She had limited Hindi diction and whatever she spoke in English too, was totally depending on the teleprompter, there was no spontaneity unlike Arshad Warsi who had hosted it so well in the previous edition.

Shilpa’s last screen appearance was in the Shut Up And Bounce song of Dostana, sandwiched between Abhishek Bachchan and John Abraham. Prior to this she featured in a Yoga video too.

https://i2.wp.com/wallpapers.oneindia.in/d/133005-2/shilpa-shetty_007.jpgIts 2009, she has just stepped into the IPL scene and I am not sure what we can expect from her. But whatever maybe the case, she will be the focus of every event she attends, she will be in spotlight and she will continue to be a media-savvy person, she will continue to appear glamorous and somehow make it to all the headlines, cover-photos of magazines and to the guest-list of all the events and parties. Tum Dil Ki Dhadkan Mei Rehto Ho Rehto Ho …

This post was first published on PFC

 
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Posted by on September 24, 2009 in bollywood, movies

 

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ajab sanju ki gajab kahani

Today is Sanjay Dutt’s 50th birthday. Wish him a very happy birthday.

The day I learnt that Sanjay Dutt is stepping into politics I was a little confused; I was wondering if it is his cup of tea or will he be just tasting it to add yet another experience in his already mired life. From what I have seen and heard about him, he is supposed to be a very emotional person who does things for friends, who takes decisions on the spur, and who can be frivolous at times. But, on the other hand he seems to be the ideal political candidate or guinea pig.

If we observe Sanju’s life and career graph and put it in a book or a movie, it will be an instant best-seller. The tough times that he has gone through and the happy days that he has seen have almost always been like a zebra-crossing, starting with his debut movie Rocky to joining Samajwadi Party.

With a successful father and a great dad-mom duo at home he was a much pampered child and he did get his dream debut in the movie industry with ‘Rocky’ which released in 1981. But he started off on wrong note, the movie bombed. His next movie Vidhata fared much better, more so because it had Dilip Kumar being directed by Subhash Ghai. After the success of ‘Vidhata’ he did a whole lot of forgettable movies like Mera Faisla, Jaan Ki Baazi, Jeeva etc.

Sanju shot to fame for his depiction of a guy who goes to Dubai to earn quick bucks and ends up becoming a drug peddler in ‘Naam’. I really loved this movie and this is one of the finest performances that he has given. It may have come naturally to him since he had been through a similar struggle in his personal life. His drug addiction and rehab stories are legendary and then his mother was fighting cancer and finally succumbed to it. All this may have added to his performance. He went on to act in a few more movies which fared in the box-office like Kabzaa, Mohabbat Ke Dushman, Imaandar, Kanoon Apna Apna etc.

Just when he was peaking in his career with hit movies like Sadak, Yodha, Krodh and Thaanedar; and just when he was in the league of Anil Kapoor, Sunny Deol and Jackie Shorff, he got arrested under TADA for illegal possession of arms and ammunitions[AK-56 was recovered from his house] and he was also charged in connection with the Bombay bomb-blasts of 1993. Soon after his arrest, Khalnayak released. The movie was about a boy Ballu who had lost his path and ends up on the wrong side of the law. The movie was surrounded with controversy, firstly because of the movie title and secondly because of the content and of course the infamous song choli ke peeche. The movie portrayed an ideal father who wants his son to come up on his own and live with honesty, whereas the son wants instant success and luxuries of life which lead him to wrong company. People equated this portrayal to his real life scenario, thereby creating a wrong perception of Sanju.

Sanju spent 1.5 yrs in Arthur Road jail. He did confess to the fact that he possessed the arms and his companionship with the other co-accused but he denied any knowledge of the bigger conspiracy. He was finally granted bail, and so started his tryst with jail visits on and off. After getting released from jail, he made a great comeback with movies like Daag, Dushman, Vaastav, Mission Kashmir. He also tried his hands in the comedy genre with movies like Haseena Maan Jayegi, Khoobsurat, Jodi No.1 etc.

Finally, he had his best-time ever in movie industry with success of movies like Kaante, Munnabhai MBBS, Parineeta, Dus, Zinda, Lage Raho Munnabhai. It took him a lot of time to change the image from Baba to Munnabhai, from a guy who had been through rehab to a guy who rediscovered Gandhi; from being careless and ruthless to being sensitive and caring; from being a vagabond to finally settling down.

Sanju’s personal life is also zig-zagged with lots of happy and sad moments. He lost his mother and first wife, Richa Sharma to cancer. His daughter Trishala, from his first marriage, lives far away in US and he does not get to meet her often. While he was in jail, his fiance Rhea Pillai stood by him and she even led quite a few movements asking fellow actors to come in support of him. Once Sanju was out of jail, he married Rhea but that marriage did not last long. They finally called it quits and she is happily married to Leander Paes, the tennis star. Now, Sanju has involved himself in another controversy – marrying Manyata Dilnawaz Sheikh. Manyata’s previous marriage has not yet been declared null and void and she has hopped onto another one, thereby attracting media attention.

He has also estranged his sister Priya Dutt in the process. Firstly he did not inform her about his marriage with Manyata and she got to know of it through a media scoop. And now he has declared that he will stand for election on a Samajwadi party ticket because of his newfound love for Amar Singh whom he calls his elder brother.

People get involved in controversy, but in Sanju’s case he has invited controversy, befriended it and thrived on it. But what is admirable about him is the fighting spirit, never-say-die, never give-up or give-in. He has been through the toughest of situations and come out unscathed; be it his drug abuse and rehab, loss of mom and first wife, jailed under TADA … he has seen it all.

Here is a short summary of events which has finally culminated into him joining politics:

    1. a bollywood superstar
    2. son of an illustrious and well respected actor-cum-politician[Sunil
    Dutt was staunch congressman and a great example of man with Gandhian
    principles and of course a brilliant actor]
    3. a drug addict who has been through rehab
    4. twin tragedies like losing his mother and wife to cancer
    5. languished in jail under TADA on charges of abetting terrorism
    6. second innings of film career as Munnabhai, thereby making a new
    place for himself in people’s heart
    7. marrying somebody else’s wife in a controversial manner
    8. estranged relationship with sisters and daughter
    9. finally taking a plunge into politics

The first 8 points don’t necessarily lead to the 9th point, but he probably is destiny’s child.

This post was first published on PFC

 
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Posted by on July 29, 2009 in bollywood, general, lifestyle, movies

 

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Subhash Ghai – A Leopard Changes Its Spots

Subhash Ghai, the showman of the industry, is now not-to-be-seen anywhere. The man who gave a string hits like Vidhata, Hero, Meri Jung, Karma, Ram Lakhan, Saudagar, Khalnayak, Pardes, Taal; and then suddenly he lost the magic touch. When you read the names of these movies, I am sure you noticed that all these were the typical masala Hindi movies which had the recurrent themes of separation, injustice, revenge and love. And most of these movies had brilliant soundtrack, good songs and nice ear for music. I am not going to write about these movies, that’s already done in a post which is a small capsule of all his potboiler movies which he made before the beginning of the new millenium. That post can be found here, and my intention was to write about his later movies.

Yaadein – 2001 : At the turn of the century, Subhash Ghai gave us this crap of a movie. This was the first time he was working with Hrithik Roshan and Kareena Kapoor, he wanted to capitalize on their popularity. The YRF banner, KJo and other makers started making movies for the NRI audience when they realised that foreign revenues coming in $$ makes a huge difference to the BO report. So, Ghai wanted to follow the trend and he set his movie in London. Since he was targetting the NRI, he based his story on a NRI disjointed family trying to retain Indian values.

The movie turned into an ‘ad fest’ with long shots of Coke in Jackie Shroff‘s hands, his daughters riding Hero cycle, Ladybird I guess; Paas-Paas flavoured gutka or whatever the hell that was. We were subjected to such paid-torture; do we buy tickets or rent dvd’s to see ads, but here we were bombarded with ads. The story-telling was no good at all, even emotional scenes had ads peeking from all sides, Jackie openly declaring that Coke is his second love. Ghai lost the plot in the screenplay stage, and the final product was embarassing. Even the music of the movie was not very good, save for a couple of songs like Jab Dil Miley and the title song. The showman failed miserably, and he still has not been able to make a comeback. His downfall started from here onwards.

Kisna – 2005 : After the disaster of Yaadein, it took Ghai 4 long years before he could come out with his next directorial venture. In between, he wrote a simple story of love blosomming between a young actress and an old judge, the movie was Jogger’s Park. He produced Jogger’s Park in 2003 and Aitraaz in 2004.

With the success of Lagaan came the new trend of having a foreign face in the movie, a white actress. Lot of movies were announced with such starcast, like Out Of Control, Mangal Pandey, Salaam-E-Ishq etc. This probably prompted Ghai to write a periodical, or a movie set in 1800′s. He signed Vivek Oberoi who was the most sought after guy, back then. The story was about Kisna, a poet, and his crusade for saving the life of a British woman who is being chased by nationalists; and how he escorts her to safety and fights everyone who tries to stop them. Ghai did not adhere to his normal formula, he ventured into unknown territories and was lost.

The movie had good music, both from Ismail Darbar and AR Rahman. The performances were a shame, no one did justice to their role. Isha Sharvani, in her debut, danced well; but that’s all she did, that’s all she was asked to do. Nothing good from the foreign actress Antonia Bernath, and Vivek Oberoi did not look the part. He was so out of place. This movie was Amrish Puri‘s last release, in fact he expired two weeks before the movie released.

Black & White – 2008 : After the debacle of Kisna, Ghai went into hibernation once again. He continued producing small budget movies which did well, like Iqbal and 36 Chinatown. After the success of Iqbal, he backed Nagesh Kukunoor‘s next project Bombay to Bangkok which flopped.

Anyways, terrorism was turning out to be the talk of the country. Lots of film-makers were writing stories about terrorists and terror plots. Ghai, not to be left behind, also started writing his own story, much inspired by the Afzal Guru episode. He called the movie B&W, because he hoped to show both sides of the coin. Having married a muslim himself, I thought Ghai would be able to bring out the dichotomy in a sensitive manner. He made a brave attempt in trying to explain the psyche of a terrorist, but he failed in nailing the issue. I felt cheated when he declared that the protagonist came from across the border. He should have had the guts to show a home-bred terrorist. The movie climax was much like Dil Se, a terrorist taking refuge in a house and is on a mission.Â

The musical score by Sukhwinder Singh was impressive. Anil Kapoor gave a very restrained performance as professor Mathur and Habeeb Tanvir as the poet was marvellous. But again, Ghai’s lack of experience in dealing with serious issues of grave consequence was exposed. An attempt in vain.

Yuvraaj – 2008 : Aamir’s TZP became a hit, Apna Asmaan received critical appreciation, Iqbal also did well. As goes the trend of the industry, follow the trend, Ghai did so. He decided to make such a movie, and he went for the easiest inspiration in the form of Rain Man. Rain Man was a story straight out of the saying where there is a will, there are relatives; and Subhash Ghai added one more relative to that list. He made it a story of 3 brothers, one of them being autistic; Anil Kapoor played the part which Dustin Hoffman had played, Salman Khan was doing what Tom Cruise had done; and Zayed Khan, I still don’t know what the hell was he doing in the movie.

The only kind of relief was the musical score. AR Rahman gave some very hummable numbers like Tu Muskura and Tu Hi To Meri Dost Hai; and the background score was really good. But the casting of the movie was horrible. Salman Khan, as usual, just slept through the role; Zayed Khan mouthed the lines without any expression/emotion/feeling and Katrina Kaif was just about tolerable. Anil Kapoor tried his best, to compensate for the non-acting of his fellow artists.

I feel really bad for Ghai who has fallen into bad times. He has been trying different things, but has not succeeded at any of them. Unlike 1990′s, where he hit a jackpot with his formula movies, he is trying to re-invent himself now. He seems to have lost the touch of making his masala movies, inserting action-emotion-tragedy-melodrama-comedy-revenge-family, he is a pale shadow of his golden past. Zindagi har kadam ek nayi jung hai …

 
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Posted by on March 25, 2009 in bollywood, movies

 

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