Archive for May, 2011

Aha, the self-referencing parade just doesn’t end. Check out the video. The film is directed by Puri Jagannath and stars Amitabh Bachchan.

WHAT: Screenwriter’s Lab 2011, a 2-part workshop is designed to prepare screenwriters’ with original Indian stories for working with the international filmmaking market place. It aims at improving a completed screenplay in its final stages and to increase the international marketability of the same.

LAB : The 1st Session will be held during the Venice International Film Festival in September, 2011 where participants will get first-hand experience of the workings of the international film community and get to train with their screenplay mentors.

The 2nd session at Film Bazaar, Goa from 24–27 November, 2011 is where participants will apply their training and pitch their revised screenplays to participants at the film market.

MENTORS: The workshop will be conducted by Marten Rabarts, Artistic Director, Binger Filmlab, aided by experienced international guest mentors. It is organized in association with Binger Filmlab, Netherlands and Venice International Film Festival.

CONTACT: For further details on the Screenwriters’ Lab please write to:

DATE: Last Date for entries  is 17 June, 2011.

Rules and Regulations

i. Two Sessions Compulsory

– The sessions in 2011 will run at the Venice International Film Festival, in September and from 24 – 27 November at Film Bazaar Goa, India. Participants must attend both sessions, must have a valid passport and visa and must be able to travel to Venice.

ii. Costs of the Lab

– The lab will provide accommodation for participants in Venice and Goa, as well as accreditation to the Venice International Film Festival and the Goa Film Bazaar.

– The lab will provide economy air tickets originating from either Mumbai or Delhi for travel to the workshop.

– Participants will have to apply, secure and pay for their own visas as well as their travel insurance. The organizers will not be responsible for the above if additional charges are incurred.

 For more details and application form, click here and here.

58th National Awards have been announced. And as expected, most of the winners are from down south. The feature films jury was headed by J.P. Dutta, Non-Feature Films jury was headed by A.K. Bir and Best Writing on Cinema jury was headed by Ashok Vajpeyi.



Adaminte Makan Abu (Malayalam) –   Producer: Salim Ahamed.    Director : Salim Ahamed

(For a simple yet evocative articulation of humanist values that frees matters of faith from the constrictions of narrow parochialism. The concerns of Abu, son of Adam, are timeless and universal in their scope. )


Baboo Band Baaja  (Marathi) –   Producer: Nita Jadhav.   Director : Rajesh Pinjani

(For a riveting tale of a father reluctant to educate his son, a mother who fiercely believes in its liberatory value, and the son who is caught in the crossfire, ‘Baboo’ is an outstanding debut project by director. )


Dabangg (Hindi) – Producer: Arbaaz Khan, Malaika Arora Khan & Dhilin Mehta. Director : Abhinav Singh Kashyap

(Answers the need of cinegoers for entertainment rooted in Indian soil.)


Moner Manush (Bengali) – Producer: Gautam Kundu. Director : Goutam Ghose

(For celebrating the union of the human spirit through the life and song of Sufi poets in the Baul tradition.)


Champions (Marathi) – Producer: Aishwarya Narkar. Director : Ramesh More

(In a world of deprivation, the thirst for an education surpasses the hunger for food amongst two young brothers fending for each other and their mother)


Bettada Jeeva (Kannada) – Producer: Basantkumar Patil. Director : P. Sheshadri

(An old couple steeped in the soil of their environment yearn for the return of their son while nurturing the growth of their young plantation against all odds)


Hejjegalu (Kannada) – Producer: Basantkumar Patil. Director : P.R. Ramadas Naidu

(A little girl cheerfully takes on the challenge to preserve the fabric of her family)


Aadukalam (Tamil) – Vetrimaran

(For a gritty tale of love, jealousy and betrayal in the midst of bloodsport and violence, in the manner of realistic cinema)


Aadukalam (Tamil) – Dhanush

Adaminte Makan Abu (Malayalam) – Salim Kumar

(Two riveting performances that fuse character and actor into one: To Dhanush for the raw, nuanced portrayal of a cocky young man who learns lessons about life the hard way. To Salim for a deep, restrained performance of a simple man with an unshakeable belief in his quest for salvation )


Baboo Band Baaja (Marathi) – Mitalee Jagtap Varadkar

Thenmerkku Paruvakkatru (Tamil) – Saranya Ponvannan

(The picture of two mothers whose concern for bettering the lives of their children in the face of untold hardship: As a mother who strives to realise through her son her dreams of a better future. As a fiercely combative single mother who shields her son to the point of sacrifice.)


Mynaa (Tamil) – J. Thambi Ramaiah

(For a heart-warming performance as a policeman who discovers his humanity in the process of capturing an escaped fugitive.)


Namma Gramam (Tamil) – Sukumari

(For a sensitive portrayal of an aged widow who challenges orthodoxy when restrictions are placed upon her widowed granddaughter)


I am Kalam (Hindi) – Harsh Mayar

Champions (Marathi) – Shantanu Ranganekar & Machindra Gadkar

Baboo Band Baaja (Marathi) – Vivek Chabukswar

(Four actors for expressing with charm and heartbreak the world of the child: For performing with bright, shining eyes and an urchin smile, the razor sharp spirit of a survivor who dreams of excelling. For two brothers bonded by blood and responsibility battling for survival in the underbelly of a heartless city. For capturing the indomitable spirit of a young village boy who is hungry to learn in an environment that closes all doors on him.


Mee Sindhutai Sapkal (Marathi) – Suresh Wadkar

(For rendering soulful lyrics in a resonant voice soaked in emotion with a purity of musical expression and spiritual empathy)


Ishqiya (Hindi) – Rekha Bhardwaj

(For a sensual and evocative rendering of a heart longing for the beloved.)


Adaminte Makan Abu (Malayalam) – Madhu Ambat

(For the visual poetry that augments and reinforces the concern of the narrative and for unfolding the infinite vistas of nascent digital technology in the visual medium.)


Original : Aadukalam (Tamil) – Vetrimaran

Adapted : Mee Sindhutai Sapkal (Marathi) – Anant Mahadevan & Sanjay Pawar

Dialogues :  Mee Sindhutai Sapkal (Marathi) – Sanjay Pawar

(For its kaleidoscopic variety that uses realism, tradition and contemporaneity, soaked in local flavour on an infinite canvas.

For retaining the concerns and values of a biographical account while translating it into the cinematic medium and honouring the essence of the original.

For bringing to life the textures of various characters through articulating their emotion and thought process.)


Ishqiya (Hindi) : Location Sound Recordist : Kaamod Kharade

Chitrasutram (Malayalam)Sound Designer : Subhadeep Sengupta

Ishqiya : Re-recordist of the final mixed track : Debajit Changmai

(For capturing the soft nuances and variations of the artists’ voices and location ambience in a sensorial manner.

For the use of various sound effects along with existing ambience to impart a subliminal experience in this abstract work.

For merging voices, location ambience, background music and other sound effects to create a near-tactile experience that is both real and artistic. )


Aadukalam (Tamil) – T.E. Kishore

(For the subliminal impact created by the use of montage so as to bring to the fore thematic concerns of the narrative in a holistic manner)


Enthiran (Tamil) – Sabu Cyril

(For the style and finesse realised in the creation of a set design that is coherent with the futuristic visual style of the narrative.)


Namma Gramam (Tamil) – Indrans Jayan

(For realising effectively the texture of a period in the history of modern India through miniscule attention to detailing)


Moner Manush(Bengali) – Vikram Gaikwad

(For the admirable detailing and remarkable consistency achieved in the etching of the characters across an extensive time span.)


Ishqiya – Music Director (Songs) : Vishal Bhardwaj

Adaminte Makan Abu (Malayalam) – Music Director (Background Score) : Issak Thomas Kottakapally

(For blending rustic flavour with the Indian classical tradition.

For minimalistic use of appropriate background score to nurture the essence of the narrative.)


Thenmerkku Paruvakkatru (Tamil) – Vairamuthu

(For giving a meaningful expression to the narrative through contextual amplification of the emotion)


Mee Sindhutai Sapkal (Marathi) – Producer: Bindiya & Sachin Khanolkar. Director : Anant Narayan Mahadevan

(For a powerful cinematic presentation of an epic journey of a living character, an abandoned woman who refused to become a victim and in the process not only transformed her own life but also the lives of many others)


Enthiran (Tamil) – V. Srinivas M Mohan

(For bringing of age a spectrum of visual special effects in Indian cinema and creating a space for the practitioners of this art form on the global map.)


Aadukalam (Tamil) – Dinesh Kumar

(For the native charm and innovative design in the art of choreography that creates an effervescent energy in the spectator)


BEST ASSAMESE FILM – Jetuka Patar Dare



BEST KANNADA – Puttakkana Highway

BEST MALAYALAM FILM – Veettilekkulla Vazhi

BEST MARATHI FILM – Mala Aai Vhhaychay

BEST TAMIL FILM – Thenmerkku Paruvakkatru

BEST ENGLISH FILM – Memories in March

SPECIAL MENTION – Bettada Jeeva (Kannada), Aadukalam (Tamil)


1. BEST NON-FEATURE FILM – Germ (Hindi). Director : Snehal R. Nair

2. BEST DEBUT NON-FEATURE FILM OF A DIRECTOR – Pistulya (Marathi & Telugu). Producer: Nagraj Manjule. Director : Nagraj Manjule

3. BEST ETHNOGRAPHIC FILM – Songs of Mashangva


5. BEST ARTS and CULTURE FILM – Leaving Home (English & Hindi)

6. BEST SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY FILM – Heart to Heart (Manipuri & English)

7. BEST PROMOTIONAL FILM – Ek Ropa Dhan (Hindi)

8. BEST ENVIRONMENT FILM – Iron is Hot (English)

9. BEST FILM ON SOCIAL ISSUES – Understanding Trafficking (Bengali, Hindi & English)

10. BEST EDUCATIONAL FILM – Advaitham (Telugu)

11. BEST FILM ON SPORTS – Boxing Ladies (Hindi)

12. BEST INVESTIGATIVE FILM – A Pestering Journey (Malayalam, Punjabi, Hindi, English & Tulu)

13. SPECIAL JURY AWARD – Kabira Khada Bazaar Mein (Hindi)

14. SHORT FICTION FILM – Kal 15 August Dukan Band Rahegi (Hindi)

15. BEST FILM ON FAMILY VALUES – Love in India (Bengali & English)

16. BEST DIRECTION – Shyam Raat Seher (Hindi & Engish). Director : Arunima Sharma

17. BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY – Shyam Raat Seher (Hindi & English). Cameraman: Murali G.

18.  BEST AUDIOGRAPHY – A Pestering Journey (Malayalam, Punjabi, Hindi English & Tulu). Re-recordist (final mixed track) : Harikumar Madhavan Nair

19. BEST EDITING – Germ (Hindi). Editor : Tinni Mitra

20. BEST NARRATION (for Writing the Narration) – Johar : Welcome to Our World (Hindi & English) Nilanjan Bhattacharya

21. Special Mention : a. Ottayal (One Woman Alone) ( Malayalam) – Director: Shiny Jacob Benjamin b. The Zeliangrongs (Manipuri & English) –  Director : Ronel Haobam c. Pistulya (Marathi & Telugu) – Child Artist: Suraj Pawar



From Rajahs and Yogis to Gandhi and Beyond: Images of India in International Films of the Twentieth Century (English)

Publisher : Seagull Books Author: Vijaya Mulay


1. Cinema Bhojpuri (English)

Publisher : Penguin Books India Ltd. Author : Avijit Ghosh

2. Thiraicheelai (Tamil)

Publisher : Trisakti Sundar Raman. Author : Oviyar Jeeva


Joshy Joseph (English) and N. Manu Chakravarthy (Kannada & English)

We had no clue about this film. And we don’t know anyone associated with the film. Not even a friend’s friend. Between bouquets and brickbats, we got a mail from a stranger asking us if we can put a post on the film. Low-budget, indie and in black and white. Why not? So, here it is. The poster, trailer and official synopsis of the film. Do post your feedback in the comments section.

Kshay revolves around the personification of an obsession, fueled by nothing more than intangible desires. Chhaya is a simple housewife who has an artistic bent of mind and a seemingly happy life with her husband Arvind. Money trickles in every month and life goes on for an unassuming Chhaya, until her eyes catch hold of an unfinished sculpture of the Hindu Goddess, Lakshmi.

Her values and relationships as she knows them begin to decay day by day, surrendering to the clutches of an ugly obsession that feeds on her weaknesses and past disappointments. She must have the “Lakshmi”, as if to make up for all that she has yearned for in her life.

Kshay takes an unforgiving look at obsession; how it infects the frailty of our minds, corroding reasoning, reality and emotional fulfilment.

 The film is written and directed by Karan Gour and has Rasika Dugal (No Smoking, Agyaat, Tahaan, Hijack) and Alekh Sangal (Summer of 2007) in the lead.

To know more about the film click here. And click here for the FB page of the film.

Zoya Akhtar made an assured debut with Luck By Chance. And her next film Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara is ready for release. The film stars Hrithik Roshan, Abhay Deol, Farhan Akhtar, Katrina Kaif and Kalki Koechlin. It’s written by Zoya and Reema Kagti, dialogues by Farhan Akhtar and has music by Shankar Ehsaan Loy.

And here is the trailer….

Aha, Senorita seems fun. And here’s the official synopsis…

Kabir ( Abhay Deol) has just met Natasha. 6 months later they are engaged.

He wants to go on an extended bachelor party. A 3 week road trip with Imraan (Farhan Akhtar) and Arjun (Hrithik Roshan) – his 2 friends since school. The only problem is Arjun is too tied up with work. After much emotional blackmail and cajoling the boys set off on a journey they were meant to take 4 years ago.

A fantasy holiday they had planned to take after college but never happened. A road trip where each one gets to do the ultimate sport of his choice and other two just have to do it with him. Whether they want to or not.

Kabir, Imraan and Arjun meet up in Barcelona and set off on an adventure that will not only make them iron out their differences but also face their fears, alter their perception, unravel their fabric, force them to break out of the box and teach them to seize the day.

In other words, a holiday that will change their life forever.

Rock On was Dil Chahta Hai with mid-life crisis, and this one also seems to be DCH Redux. What do you think?

The cynic in me often wonders, “why do we need cinema with social message?” Don’t we have enough of Moral Education in the schools? Why can’t I just See The Devil? Or as a friend says, “why this NGO film-making?”  I guess the scenario is not the same always. Not with Amole Gupte at least. As far as I know, cinema is by-product for him. In his office room, where they have their editing machine, the most visible picture hanging on the wall is of Nikumbh Sir, his art teacher who inspired the character played by Aamir Khan in Taare Zameen Par. I don’t know many people who have portraits of their favourite teachers hanging on their walls. Do you? The “by-product” must really be the key factor. Nikumbh Sir, kids and then the film.

And it’s something similar with Amole’s directorial debut too. Well, you may argue that why should you bother about the filmmaker’s story and not just see the film. You surely can but then it will only be half the story. The other half is always with the filmmaker/writer if it’s something sincere and honest. For every film that I love, I make sure to figure out why a filmmaker/writer could manage to tell that specific story so well, and trust me, there’s always an interesting story there.  Watch Stanley Ka Dabba and if you are willing to scratch the surface, read on…

With a little help from my friends

After ‘Taare Zameen Par’, what? Many ideas cooked into scripts, many producer meetings and budgets discussions. Many encounters with stars, trying to convince them of scripts I felt certain would work. I guess fate’s way of saying don’t follow the rulebook! Somehow, everything that goes in making a film, actually takes you further away from making the film.

So ‘Stanley Ka Dabba’. I had a story but I wanted to explore the journey more spontaneously, with a mind open to inputs and ideas of children. I approached Mrs. Asha Kapoor, Ex-Principal of Holy Family High School (where I studied) The idea was to conduct an open door, 4 hour theatre and cinema study sessions, and extract something out of that process. But the boundary was defined. NOT MORE THAN 4 HOURS, NO MUGGING DIALOGUES, NO LIGHTS, NO HEAVY DUTY EQUIPMENT. And most important, children would be the centre of the filming process. Whatever, I do, my film, my crew and me will be second to their needs and their comforts.

The plan felt far-fetched to Deepa. To add to her stress, I wanted the option of leaving it as a workshop in the event it didn’t work! I couldn’t very well tell a producer, give me money but I don’t promise you a film. That would be mighty cheeky. So we decided not to approach a studio, or a financier. Borrowed money from a generous friend, acted in a few films and ‘Stanley Ka Dabba’ got on the road.

The family (I don’t dare call them Unit) was great. Faraz Ansari, dedicated, never-say-die executive producer, Archana Phadke, a bundle of creative energy, Nyla Masood, on costume, Sheetal Bapardekar on production design, Dwarak Warrier and Madhu Apsara on sound, Nilufer Qureshi, our media consultant, my actors and my genius cameraman, Amol Gole, as instinctive as my children! All of them were generous and giving with their time, energy and most importantly their faith. This film was not possible without the faith and I am indebted to them for helping me create an atmosphere conducive for children to do their best.

Saturday to Saturday, at 4 hours pace, we built on the story. Children grew into their parts, and teachers too. Six months into this process, Deepa started putting the material together. And slowly the film emerged. How delicately my children had performed, how carefree they were! Once the edit was locked, I mustered up the courage the show the film to Vishal Bhardwaj, a man I trust and respect immensely. Vishal’s reaction gave me strength and courage to continue.

At each stage of this ‘vada-pao’ production, a friend came and helped push the cart forward. Anil Girkar gave us sound equipment never asking for dues, Mrs. Asha Kapoor, Ex-Principal of Holy Family and Fr. Swamy S.J. Principal of Holy Family High School who opened the doors of their school for the workshop, the teachers of the school who willingly participated and played their parts, Karan Johar who literally made the entire team of Dharma Productions available to us, Apoorva Mehta, counselor, guide and friend, and finally my soul-mate Deepa Bhatia,. She’s the master weaver of this dabba…anyone can tell that it took shape on her edit table.

I am also grateful to Fox Star Studios for coming on board and bringing the film out to the nation. But my biggest, biggest hugs for the children…Partho, Abhishek, Numaan, Monty, Leo, Ganesh, Tijo, Sai Sharan Shetty and Walter…my little friends.

Three Cheers to my extended dabba family…Hip Hip Hurray!

Amole Gupte

(PS – Click here to read the post which Amole wrote during the release of Taare Zameen Par)

Bhaag, DK Bose.

The first song promo for Delhi Belly is out and it looks pretty quirky and interesting, though a little more OTT than we would have liked (and yes, the Hangover hangover remains, like in the poster). Still, the song is pretty catchy and the film looks promising; looking forward to this one.

Take a look.

(The theatrical trailer, which was launched today should be out soon too. Also, you can read the synopsis of Delhi Belly right here.)

As far as my limited cinema knowledge goes, I think there is a big difference between a trailer and a montage. And as the trailer of Bollywood – The Greatest Love Story Ever Told (Who thought about this title?) was out, it was a perfect #Facepalm (for lack of better expression) moment. It even forced Screeny to come out of his slumber and puke out this rambling post. Read on…

Respected Sir,

I’m a Big fan of Mr India, Masoom & Bandit Queen. Have been following your blog on and off. Untill today when I saw the trailer of the documentary which has been produced by you and co, and directed by the “acclaimed director” (have seen him at conferences and am sure he regards himself as one, for having gifted the people of this country THE seminal film – Rang De Basanti) Mr Rakyesh Omprakash Mehra.

Needless to say, I was thoroughly, thoroughly disappointed.

Why? Because the trailer (so is the film I’m sure) is- as usual- selling Bollywood exotica la-la land to the west. The incestous, celebratory, mutual admiration society which regards Aishwarya Rai and Katrina Kaif as ‘icons’ who will talk about Hindi Cinema to the “goras” and tell them in effect – “One billion people are enjoying this. See, this is so special. This is India! This is Indian Cinema! Come, Watch it. And fall in Love. NAMASTE. Achcha Lagta Hai.”

The first half is virtual showreel for the Bachchans, another attempt to sell Aishwarya to the west. The same song and dance routine which we are (in)famous for. The DDLJ clip, the rain, the matrix style shots, the same ghisa-pita bakwaas.

And of course, it contains generous footage from the magnum opus Rang De Basanti. After all Rakeysh (Is the spelling correct? Am a bit confused) Omprakash Mehra is the co-director & UTV is the producer. And the exact same clip when people land up at the India Gate with candles in their hands (the prophetic subtitle below is “This country will change. We will change it”). Yes sir, we will.

I wish you had produced a 2 hour documentary on Kerala or Goa Tourism instead.

Or helped produce any of the films from the “new wave” of Indian cinema, which I’m sure you must be more aware of than me.

At a time when Indian Cinema is taking baby steps towards maturity, and managing to gain a foothold in the international arena, slowly changing “their” perception of “our films” by coming up with IN COMPETITION FILMS like Udaan, Peepli Live, Dhobi Ghat, Harud, Gandu, Shor in the City, Gabhricha Paus, Aranya Kandam, Paruthiveeran, Subramanipuram, the new Wave Tamil & Marathi Cinema; this self congratulatory AV on Bollywood films actually is taking us two steps back, reinforcing the stereotypes. Forcing us to be still perceived as the audience which enjoys 3 hour long musicals embellished with the garangutan setpieces, laughable action sequences & antics, titillating item numbers and melodramatic rejoice.

I was hoping to find some echo in the comments section of this post but clearly, I’m the minority here.

I shudder to think how I would react if I would ever meet a “gora” who sees this film and recognises by my skin tone, that I’m an Indian. Will he be overjoyed at what I’m embarassed at ? Will he be like the Japanese tourists from Munnabhai who only want to shoot “dirty, hungry, poor Indians” ? Will I be asked to dance at the Visa interview if (and when) I travel to Europe ?

My nightmarish thoughts aside, I request you to read a post written by you, Sir. Your blogpost on Black Friday and why it is the film which should have gone for Oscars submission instead of Paheli.

Yours disappointed,


(PS1 –  Have you heard about a documentary film called Videokaaran? Watch it.)

(PS2 – Screeny forgot to mention that if the film turns out to be any good, he will be the first person to say it and will apologise for the post.)

(PS3 – Screeny’s previous posts can be read here, here and here. )

The first one was a straight lift, (The Dinner Game)and it turned out to be a surprise hit. Here’s the second one. Poster, official synopsis and the trailer.

Directed by Sagar Bellary, Produced by Mukul Deora, it stars Vinay Pathak, Minissha Lamba, Kay Kay Menon and Amole Gupte. Sharad Kataria and Bellary have written it. Here’s the official synopsis..

Good hearted but not worldly-wise, the rolly-polly tax inspector, Bharat Bhushan (Vinay Pathak) is back to fulfill his long cherished dream of becoming a singer. To further his media ambition he enters a game show hoping to win a cash prize with which he can make his own music album. Eventually Bhushan goes on to win the competition which also gifts him a free stay on a cruise ship. It is on this cruise that he meets Ajit Talwar (Kay Kay Menon), an acrid tongue sadistic business tycoon, who is taking sheath on the cruise to flee from the Income Tax department. Close on his heels is tax inspector M.T.Shekharan (Suresh Menon), who is trying to unearth the identity of a financial scamster who has been elusive since long.

On the cruise when Ajit Talwar learns about Bharat Bhushan’s profession, he alerts his subordinates to keep a watch on him and in due course, get rid of him. However, on being introduced to Ajit Talwar, Bhushan finds out of his media investments and is out to impress him. The cruise becomes a perfect rendezvous for Bharat with the presence of Ranjini (Minnisha Lamba), a sweet and straight- forward media executive who Bhushan met on the game show. Everything seems perfect in his life with her company and positive future prospects of developing contacts with Ajit Talwar and his clique. The presence of a disguised M.T.Shekharan further excites the plot and a string of oddball occurrences owing to a mistaken identity finally wind up Ajit Talwar and Bharat Bhushan stranded on a deserted island.

It is on the island that Ajit realises what a pain Bharat Bhushan is. His stupidity drives Ajit up the wall. And if that isn’t enough, Bhushan’s folly lands them hostage in the hands of an eccentric reclusive photographer (Amole Gupte). As fate would have it Bhushan’s colleague M.T.Shekharan comes and rescues them exposing the sly Ajit Talwar and making a shocked Bhushan realise that Ajit was trying to get rid of him all the while on the cruise.

The photographer Raghu Burman, M.T.Shekharan and Bharat Bhushan bond with each other with the thought of an idealist utopian state, free of crime and based on social justice. Their bonding is short-lived as they manage to blow off the very house they are in. In the wee hours of morning, a completely harrowed Ajit Talwar is rescued by his business associate Kapoor (Rahul Vohra) and his loyal lieutenant which puts an end to his nightmare.

The story comes a full cycle with Bharat Bhushan realizing what a great friend he has in M.T.Shekharan and a proud Ajit Talwar being punished for his arrogance and high-handedness.

Most of you might not have even heard about the film Videokaaran. We also had no clue. A video link on someone’s FB wall and it quickly spread all over. Varun Grover saw the film, loved it and strongly recommends it. Read on…

“Nahin boloonga – Mera secret hai yaar yeh” – Videokaaran

Before the film: The trailer hit like a bolt. “A film about a slightly unusual film buff” it said, and gave me the biggest blood rush that week. It looked dark, candid, grungy, and very passionate. Aur Hindustan mein film lovers pe film kaun banaata hai? It looked like a story from our own backyard, an original story. The trailer was shared, RTed, discussed, and we all were very curious. A screening at Vikalp, Alliance Francaise Mumbai came up. Not on a weekend, hence only I from among the Mumbai group could make it. And mighty glad that I did. Baaki ki kahaani…cut to.

After the film: Starting with a question. How many of us remember the title song, with antara, of Amitabh Bachhan’s 1992 film ‘Khuda Gawah’ (probably his last good act as a ‘hero’ in Hindi cinema). Think a bit. I am sure some can come close to remembering ‘Ho koi ghulaam…ya ho baadshaah…ishq ke bagair, zindagi gunaah’ lines. (Or was it ‘zindagi tabaah’?) But how many will remember, AND relish, the casually thrown in repeat-phrase ‘wai-wai’ throughout the song? Videokaaran is about a group of film-lovers who not only remember this ‘wai-wai’ bit but also sing it (over a doped out night at one point in the film) with as much respect as the rest of the song. In fact, a lone voice keeps singing ‘wai-wai’ even after the rest of the group has faded off.

Now this may sounds like a frivolous start – especially when the claim is that Videokaaran is the most definitive work you will see on the very complex cinema-fan relationship in India. But the example, much like a zen puzzle, is an answer in itself. It’s about passion for something some of us may consider unpassionworthy. It’s about people, who while living on the edge in their day to day existence, find a bond with moving images, words, tunes, stories, and to use an Arundhati Roy-esque term ‘the collective hysteria of larger-than-life’.

And it’s not a ‘look, they are so unique/ weird/ curio-pieces’ narrative the director goes for at all (the easiest way out, taken by many including the ‘B-Movie-Club’ of Mumbai which shows 80’s films to a group ‘for laughs’, or Anuvab Pal’s latest book on ‘Disco Dancer’ which reads the film as campy fun at its best). The subjects, with Sagai Raj in focus mostly, have been treated with as much respect as a serious film lover/observer deserves.

And the best part – Videokaaran (Video-waalah), doesn’t just stop at cinema. It very incidentally, mostly through the conversations, paints a picture of a world within Mumbai which seems not only time-removed from us, but plane-removed too. The characters, their pains, days, uninhibited laughter seem to hang in a surreal space-time we never cared to check. (But don’t mistake it for an ‘activist’ take on ‘two Indias’ or such. It’s as much fun as you will ever have at the movies.) A real, brass-and-nails world where Rajnikanth is God, and with a very strong reason.

And it helps that the Rajnikanth fan Sagai Raj, the central character of Jagannathan Krishnan’s debut docu-feature, has a unique, intelligent opinion on almost everything to do with cinema. Sagai used to run a Tamil video parlor in Chembur, in the shanties by the railway tracks, and is the kind of Thalaivar fan we have come to smirk at. But the smirk fades off with every passing minute, replaced by friendly warmth.

Sagai talks non-stop, loves porn and slasher flicks, has a quirky tangential mind (“I can’t fool a mad dog by pretending that I am not afraid. Dog’s sixth sense will interact with my sixth sense to let out the truth”), a weirdly original thought process (“porn films are the best indicator of a girl’s mind”), lives in a shady locality where police-raids and death by local trains is a norm, and has a life-story straight out of City of God. But above all, and in the context of Videokaaran, he is the brand ambassador of a class of people who consume cinema differently. And a brand-ambassador who not only was a regular viewer, but somebody who sourced porn to be exhibited, edited out films according to audience tastes at his own machine, marked out escape routes and strategies in case of a police raid, and indulgently, heartbreakingly filmed (on his DV cam) the bulldozer destruction of the very video-parlor he helped grow.

Interspersed with film footage (‘Subramaniapuram’, primarily) and Hindi songs sung by the group of Sagai’s friends on a trippy night in Karjat, Videokaaran is as intimate a piece of documenting a vanishing history as it comes. The astonishing thing is, Jagan had not initially planned to make the film around Sagai. Sagai was just going to be the camera-person for the documentary, and the story was supposed to be about this bunch of Chembur guys who are the standard target audience of single-screen and/or video parlor cinema. And this bunch is equally interesting – comprising of a professional juggler and clown, whom Jagan calls ‘an evolved soul’, a DJ and painter who even designed a camera rig for the shoot on his own instinct, a sadhu baba they chanced upon who loves singing sappy songs from the 90’s hindi films (and whatay voice he has!), and a couple of other friends from the locality. (“We even thought up a sequence where the juggler-clown (name: Alisha) stands outside SRK’s bungalow, wearing an SRK mask, and does the juggling act.”)

But while filming, Jagan stumbled upon Sagai’s story and the camera changed hands. (The film still retains many portions shot by Sagai too.) From then on, it’s Sagai and his worldview – filled with anecdotes that shock, regale, and in a few surprise moments pierce through the hard skins of our snobbery to treat him as an equal, if not greater film lover.

The 70-minute film, culled from 40-hrs of footage, is edited (by Jagan’s life-partner Pallavi Singhal) unconventionally too. No voice-overs, no time-stamps or location-stamps (you won’t see many documentaries this confident about their content), and no fixation with linearity – Indian docus just took a huge leap ahead with Videokaaran.

Watch it wherever you can – jaise bhi. A film this passionate deserves some passion from each and every film lover out there. Options? At a film club or festival screening, by buying the DVD straight from Jagan, or waiting for someone to rip it off and put it up online.

As a final important word – Jagan hopes the film helps Sagai get more work as a photographer and photoshop artist. He is a brilliant, natural artist, as per Jagan. He can be contacted through his FB page: And Jagan at: So if any of you have any photoshop or photography gig in Chembur or around, try Sagai.