Archive for February, 2012

One of my favourite albums of all time is Gulzar-Pancham. I bought the cassettes first and then the CDs. The 2-CD pack is compilation of songs written by Gulzar and composed by R D Burman. But what makes the album special is the introduction to every song by Gulzar. We all know that he can weave magic with words. But the way he narrates it, the way he pours out every bit of nostalgia in his narration, it creates an intoxicating mood. Years later he did another similar album – Amrita Pritam recited by Gulzar. The magic was still the same. And now, there’s a new album – Tera Bayaan Ghalib. Here’s Rohit‘s recco post on the same.

Anything, be it a new song or a poem recitation or a book release or a film by Gulzar sahab guarantees that it will have an aroma of freshness and nostalgia in it. This music album quietly made it’s way into the mind space and thanks to Pavan and Sa Re Ga Ma’s online store I could get a hold of the original tracks.

First up, please know that this is not a ‘tribute to Jagjit Singh’ sort of an album by Gulzar sahab. It goes a step further. Gulzar sahab has convinced Jagjit Singh to sit and recite/sing some lines for all of us and what tribute do we want anyway? Jagjit Singh is still there. Very much there. Gulzar sahab has read/recited Ghalib’s letters enacting as Ghalib and it is NOT a commentary on him. It’s a fact that we can’t get enough of Gulzar sahab‘s voice and when you hear him modulating his voice and enacting Ghalib, you will feel the words with him.

Since the album is aimed at giving a peek to all us in the life and times of ‘Ghalib’, Gulzar sahab has plucked many a gems from his TV Serial on Ghalib in the voice of Ghazaljit Singh.

The album starts with a track that was featured in the TV serial (but wasn’t available in music cassettes or CDs). After this, Gulzar sahab recites some couplets from Mirza Ghalib. The mithaas in his voice will remind you of the times when you were dipping your senses into your favorite food and talking about your favorite person. The album then turns to GhazalJit Singh’s rendition of ‘Har ek baat pey’. The difference (nitpickers like me will notice) is a faint note on the keyboard in the background which is unlike the versions already available with us all. This version ends where GhazalJit Singh ends the recitation in the original.

It won’t be fair to give out the flow of what Gulzar sahab discusses in the album because it will spoil the mood of anyone who listens it. So I won’t go into much detail. All I will say that there is a difference between telling and narrating. Gulzar sahab narrates. Beautifully. Many a times you won’t be able to realize that the ghazal has started and the narration has stopped. It’s all in the same fabric. Like for example, there is a part where Gulzar sahab is talking about the ‘patang baazi’ of Ghalib and the melodious flute makes an entry and GhazalJit Singh recites a line of ‘woh firaq aur wo visaal kahan’.  Listen how dearly and affectionately Gulzar sahab goes about telling us why Ghalib chose Ghalib and not ‘Asad’ as his pen name. GhazalJit Singh comes again to recite the beautiful couplet ‘Dost gham’ (which wasn’t available earlier in Music cassettes or CDs of the serial).

Using Ghalib’s lines to create the atmosphere of the old times is a great idea and GhazalJit Singh’s voice comes as a compliment. You can’t help but feel that it’s completely unnatural to live in a world where GhazalJit Singh is no more. The album is full of those unreleased nazms/couplets in the voice of GhazalJeet Singh.

The narrative spans across life and times of Ghalib including the 1857 and how Ghalib shut himself out during that period. And how Delhi was never the same, more or less like Ghalib. There is a lot of pain, especially when Gulzar sahab touches the ‘7 deaths’ in Ghalib family…of all his kids.

Towards the end of the album when Gulzar sahab speaks about old age, the depth of his narration will move you, and on top of it Jagjit Singh’s (unreleased) nazm might move you to tears. You will get goosebumps when you will come across the famous Ghalib composition ‘sab kahan kuch’ because Gulzar sahab accompanies Jagjit (Ghazaljit Singh) in the same. This is Gold. Probably purest form of Gold.

This is not a music album. It’s a melodious session with Gulzar sahab and GhazalJit Singh full of conversations, nazms and ghazals. Anyone with a mild inclination towards Gulzar sahab/Ghalib or GhazalJit Singh will find this album a treasure. A treasure which you will hold on to forever.

You are likely to come across a lot of familiar ghazals in this album but the difference is – this time you live the ghazal rather than just listening to it.

Buy it.

Album : Tera Bayaan Ghalib

Label : Saregama (2-CD pack)

Price : Rs 300 ( Available at Flipkart for Rs 255)

(Rohit blogs at http://almostareview.wordpress.com/)

Sometime back we had a put a post on Kabir Chowdhary’s indie film Good Morning. The entire film is online now. Click on the play button and enjoy!

Synopsis: Good morning is a psychological drama that explores the obsessions and insecurities of a married man who is completely dedicated to his wife.
His world is shattered one day when he discovers his wife in Bed with another man.
What happens next is diabolical, cold and shocking.

Starring: Manish Kumar, Sukhmani, Emannuel Singh, Dolly Ahluwalia, Happy Vij, Gick Grewal, Payal, Daanish Singh, Raagini Ghai.

Director:  Kabir Singh Chowdhry
Cinematography: Rahat Mahajan
Editor/Costumes/Art: Sakshi Bhatia
Music: Hari Singh
Screenplay : Kabir Chowdhry and Sakshi Bhatia
Story: Can Themba
Producer : Pate Picture Company(2011)

Awarded The Grand Jury Prize for Best Narrative short at South Asian International Film Festival, New York 2011.
Genre: Psychological Drama
Studio: PATE Picture Company 2011 in association with Mahamudra Film Company
Description :  Good Morning
Fiction(Short)
Running time: 42 Mins
Budget: Rs.30,000 ($600)
Location: Chandigarh
Camera: Canon 5d

The Oscar buzz is in full swing now. And it’s not surprising that with The Artist, Carnage, Moneyball and My Week With Marilyn in the theatres, it’s one of the best weekends at the movies. Here’s Fatema Kagalwala‘s recco for one more charming film – Woody Allen’s Midnight In Paris. Read On. And don’t miss it.

Perhaps the most beautiful emotion to feel and soak in, besides love, is nostalgia, humankind’s singular tool to change the past, otherwise believed to be unchangeable. It is our very own time-travel device that takes us to places that never were but have become because of the way we choose to remember them. Present is drudgery but over time, after events have collected a dust of distance, they get shrouded in a mist of romance that becomes our haven, a cocoon which protects us from the unbearable banality of the present. A dreamworld we can escape to at will, and stay there for as long as the common concerns of the present do not summon us back with brutal force. With no control over the future and saddled permanently with a present we can never be content in, we are left with only this. This ability of re-writing our history to have something to be proud of. This gift, as it maybe perceived as, is the backbone of the much-loved Midnight in Paris. Above and beyond the travels of Gil into the depths of Time, it harks us back into the territory of rosy nostalgia, the blindfold behind which everything is safe.

This love for the past is almost lyrical. As poetic as Woody Allen presents in his dreamy albeit slightly woolly-headed Gil. And as precise as science, he makes him a writer, dwelling in the poetry of yesteryears, seeking the mirage of a gold-dusted past. Allen makes him choose Paris, the most fabled (at least in the Western world) romantic city full of the mystique and exoticism of art and expression. As we watch Gil engage with the city, we begin to crave the opiate of escape and begin to wear his shroud of nostalgia with pride and a certain willingness beyond the power of Gil’s experiences to arouse. We give up to the visions of our own Golden Age, whatever it might be, and revel in the feeling of the enigmatic ‘if only’. We thirst to find our own Parisian street we could roam at midnight and enter our perfect world, a world that never was but that which always lives within us.

It is this thirst, accompanied with Allen’s intuitive writing that steers us through fundamental truths of our relationship with time. None of the wonder that consumes Gil in his nightly sojourns is part of the lives of Adriana, Hemmingway or the Fitzgeralds. But the cyclical obsession for yore shows up in Adriana’s climactic choice when a somewhat misplaced wisdom shakes Gil back into the present. Misplaced because it seems out-of-character and sync with the young, idealist we see seeking truth and beauty with the innocence of a child. As a climactic turning point his revelation appears without notice and motivation, almost like a screen-writer-induced epiphany, diluting the entire premise of Gil’s character, thirst and search.

But it is with his ‘epiphany’ that the strong undercurrent of post-modern ennui, resonating in every single of Allen’s work, suddenly comes into play. It is logical and it makes the most sense. And as unpoetic as it is, it draws that familiar blanket of dejection around the theme, particularly in the way we now perceive Adriana and her delusion in contrast.

In that sense, Midnight in Paris, in the true tradition of Allen’s films, isn’t a hopeful picture even if Gil’s ultimate ‘escape’ may seem victorious. There is that unmistakable, underlying thread of pessimism that is a founding trope of all of Allen’s films. This juxtapositioning of reality and delusion is subtler than the film would have us believe and almost missable. But it is this juxtapositioning that brings home the universal truth of what we may not hurry to see, that this too shall pass. Apply it to the living present or the living in the past as it were.

However smart this juxtapositioning may be, its smartness becomes the undoing of the deeper and more significant sub-text. Were Gil’s realisation a result of a character growth or an outcome of an event, the smartness would have suddenly transformed into a more studied expose. We, in our terrific rush of having limply succumbed into the arms of yesterday, accept it because the act of breaking his suffocating engagement becomes our direct point-of-reference for his character growth. But it is merely a diversion that we mistake as the destination.

At first glance, Owen Wilson seems an unlikely actor to play the part of wide-eyed Gil. His demeanour and biography is hardly striking enough to carry off a character that sparks off dreamworlds in the most magical manner. But as Gil, he is transformed in front of our eyes into the part-naïve, part-grounded, part-dreamy idealist charming us into his utopia compelling us to love his journey as much as we would love our own. Marion Cotilard, on the other hand, does not have to ‘do’ anything for us to love her. She is undoubtedly the perfect choice to play the pixie-like, porcelain Adriana whom we can’t help but want to protect, even if it is from her own self-destructiveness. The wispy, ethereal beauty of Marion does half the work and the rest is superbly accomplished by the stunning actress herself. Coming away, we are forced to admit, no one could have played the parts better than these two.

Allen chooses his Golden Age with art and its main protagonists with a tongue-firmly-in-cheek. The Fitzgeralds were almost as mythical in their own time as they are now, and so was the Jazz Age. He picks the best representatives of the time but presents them as trophy heroes. We are left star-struck, as much as Gil is and hunger for more. But the legends, as we know them to be today, seem bound by a necessity to shock and entertain. And it is here that Midnight in Paris falters. As legends after legends flood Gil’s dream, ours is disrupted. A certain dishonesty of intent creeps in and the onus veers towards gimmick, taking away the artfulness it has carefully built so far.

But by now they have created a beautiful world, a world neither we nor Gil would like to ever be taken from, a dream we would never like to be awakened from. Probably for this, Midnight in Paris will forever remain a very dear piece of cinema to us. Because despite the choices the film makes, it brings us close to a world we all yearn for. But more importantly, it brings to us very vividly, the joys of attaining the perfection that is humanly impossible. It is this affirmation we cherish which is far, far beyond the artistry of the film. Yet, it is a gift, an ascertained gift the film gives us so that we can continue to look for our time in the rain, at midnight, when we can escape into our Golden Age, even if momentarily. Meanwhile, we can turn to Gil’s. Even if it is for less than two hours, and which even though smaller than our own love for the past, will suffice.

Click on the play button to enjoy the opening scene of the film.

Katha Centre for Film Studies : Curatorial Project Film Festival (Weekend Screenings from 18th Feb to 17th March)

Curatorial Project Film Festival is a part of the workshops on Film Curatorial Practices organized by Katha Centre for Film Studies and supported by India Foundation for the Arts.

– All film screenings are followed by discussions around films and the curatorial idea. The film screenings and discussions are open to all. No registration, no tickets required – just reach the venue and join us!

Schedule:

1. A bit of I, A bit of Me –  Curated by Afrah Shafiq.

Date : 24th and 25th Feb, 2012

Location : Edward Theatre, Kalbadevi and Whistling Woods International, Film City, Goregaon East, respectively

The programme includes a collection of documentary work that is in one way or the other a cinematic rendition of the self. These subjective truths with generous doses of reality, explore the practice where the filmmaker chooses to face the camera and implicate themselves in their own work and the teller becomes inseparable from what is being told.

Desperately Seeking Helen (Eisha Marjara, 81min, Canada)-  3:15pm, 24 Feb, Edward Theatre| 3:45pm, 25 Feb, Whistling Woods International

The Beaches of Agnes (Agnes Vards, 110min, France) – 5:00pm, 24 Feb, Edward Theatre| 10:15am, 25 Feb, Whistling Woods International

Summer in my veins (Nish Saran, 41min, India) 7pm, 24 Feb, Edward Theatre| 5:30pm, 25 Feb, Whistling Woods International

Unlimited Girls (Paromita Vohra, 94min, India) – 12:15pm, 25 Feb, Whistling Woods International

2. Emerging Voices of Indian Cinema – Curated by Manjeet Singh.

Unreleased Independent Feature films / Short films / Animation films. An attempt to probe into the challenges and delights of filmmaking

Date – 3rd March, 2012

Venue – Whistling Woods International, Film City, Goregaon East

Alms of a blind horse (Gurvinder Singh, 90min, India) – 10:15am

VideoKaran (Jagannathan Krishnan, 73min, India) – 12:00 noon

Hawa Anne De (Partho Sen Gupta, 93min, India) – 3:00pm

Carnival (Madhuja Mukherjee, 61min, India) – 4:45pm

3. Sonic Silences, Soundscape and Cinema – Curated by Geetha B.

The programme explores varied ways in which silence is used in films and the complexity of silence both in a philosophical and acoustic sense.

Date : 10th Mar, 2012

Venue : Whistling Woods International, Film City, Goregaon East

2001 A Space Odyssey (Stanley Kubrick, 142min, USA ) – 10:30am

In the Mood for Love (Wong Kar Wai, 98min, Hong Kong) – 1:45pm

Satantango  (Bela Tarr, 60min, Hungary) – Selections from the film – 3:30pm

Siddheshwari (Mani Kaul, 123min, India) – 5:15pm

4. Food and Cinema –  Curated by Atika Chohan.

The programme looks at the centrality of food as  recurrent film theme and how imperative a tool it is to explore society, culture, tradition, race, displacement, immigration, current socio-economic concerns and politics; and further, since food-films marry cinematics and rhetoric so engagingly that it finds an instant  receptivity amongst both the lay and initiated audience.

Date : 17th March, 2012

Venue : Whistling Woods International, Film City, Goregaon East

The Cook the Thief his Wife her lover  (Peter Greenaway, 95min, France-UK)  –  10:15am

Silence of the Lambs (Jonathan Demme, 118min, USA) – 12:00 noon

My Dinner with Andre (Louis Malle, 110min, USA) – 3:15pm

Eat Drink Man Woman (Ang Lee, 124min, Taiwan) – 5:15pm

– In case of any query, tweet to @kathaCFS or @svetlana25 or you can write to  katha.film@gmail.com

– **Please note that screening times are subject to change in case of certain unavoidable situations.

Gulzar Pays tribute to legendary singer, Jagjit Singh, with a nazm that is included in the new album, Tera Bayaan Ghalib. The album features letters of Mirza Ghalib recited/enacted by Gulzar and Ghalib nazms in the voice of Jagjit Singh.

एक बौछार था वो शख्स
बिना बरसे
किसी अब्र की सहमी सी नमी से
जो भिगो देता था

एक बौछार ही था वो
जो कभी धूप की अफ़शां भर के दूर तक
सुनते हुए चेहरों पे छिड़क देता था…
नीम तारीक से हॉल में आँखें चमक उठती थीं

सिर हिलाता था कभी झूम के टहनी की तरह
लगता था झोंका हवा का है
कोई छेड़ गया है..

गुनगुनाता था तो खुलते हुए बादल की तरह
मुस्कुराहट में कई तर्बों की झनकार छुपी थी

गली क़ासिम से चली एक ग़ज़ल की झनाकर था वो
एक अवाज़ की बौछार था वो

And here’s a look at the booklet that comes with the album.

Tip – Pavan Jha

Early reviews in bollywood are unlike anything in the rest of the world – you can never trust them. And at a time of social networking, everything spreads like wild fire. So when i heard good things about Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu, the first person who was skeptical about it was film buff and screenwriter Navjot Gulati and rightly so. Big banner, big stars, screening for friends and family and early review by so called trade analysts – why would anyone trust it? And then he saw the film and ran in other direction. Why and how? Read on. Has SPOILER.

The heading is a popular line from a popular tv campaign. However, the Pappu in question here is director Shakun Batra, who did an Aamir Khan impersonation in the song Pappu can’t dance saala (from 2:46 ).

Now, before I start talking about the film, let me tell you that this post is about the film and also about the director. How a rank outsider was able to make such a big debut?  And to top it all, he was able to make a “perfectly average” film with the same banner that made great films (NOT) like Agneepath, Kurbaan, We are Family ( I call it We all Act Hammily) and I Hate Luv Stories. You may wonder what is so common between all these five films including Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu. Interestingly, all of them have been directed by debutant directors.

What sets Shakun Batra apart is the fact that he made a big budget romcom with an indie feel, and, with a banner which is known for making candyfloss films set in unreal world. Shakun is also the one who started the Assistant Director’s community on Facebook which has helped thousands of people since its inception around five years back. One would think it has to be good karma as he was able to make his debut after assisting in just four films. I know people who have been working with top production houses and have assisted in more than eight films and still can’t even write a story, forget about making a film. The point being if you are talented and smart, you will always be able to make a film. Shakun’s smartness was in striking friendship with Imran Khan, who, let’s face it, may not be a great actor but he certainly has an eye for “good” scripts. Yes, if you are an outsider wanting to make big films, this is one way which can work.

Now coming to the film.

EMAET is a film which almost 80 percent of the population of Indian will be able to connect to because every character in the film is relatable. The Goofball dad Philip, sexed up Boolani,  demanding Kapoors, not-in-a-zone-to-get-in-a-relationship Riana, highly-under-the-influence-of-family Rahul and my favorite, the Granny. We all have seen such people around us and that is what makes you believe that this is “your” story.

It starts off as little over the top but it was refreshing to see the detailing in the film and the body language of Imran Khan, an actor known for NOT knowing what acting is. Imran’s family was bit over the top too but then came Kareena, almost like a breath of fresh air and the film was never the same again. She reminded me of Summer Fin from 500 days of Summer – a girl every boy wants to fall in love with. As the film progresses, you know that this is going to end up in only one way but you still want the guy to get the girl and so the movie works.

The movie does not go over the top even in any of the dramatic sequences, like the dinner table chopstick scene and the one in the school corridor. Kareena is so good that I fell in love with her all over again. Last time it was in 2007 with Jab We Met. The character she plays is the girl every guy wants to end up with for the rest of his life. Sweet, sexy, adventurous and caring.

But the one who steals the show is Imran Khan. Finally, the boy becomes man and learns to act and changes his hairstyle too. Watch him in the scene where he goes on a date with Anusha. He is damn funny! This is the first romcom to not have a kiss in the end, or the Indian equivalent to kiss – “hug” or better “marriage”. The film breaks all the clichés of Hindi romcoms and does it in style by having an ambiguous end. Although it is very clear that she does not love him but what the director leaves us with is that lil’ hope, that she may come back to him sometime in the future.

The photography along with the background music sets the mood perfectly and lets you flow with the story smoothly. Just listen to the way Clinton Cerejo jazzes up aaja aaja main hoon pyaar tera. Music by Amit Trivedi is of timeless variety – a rarity in today’s times when music is forgotten a week after the film releases. To sum it up, this is one of those rare films where I could not find a single thing that would put me off, everything was “Perfectly Average”, just like the 90 percent of the world’s population.

(P.S – I know the film has been inspired from various romcoms like What Happens in Vegas, 500 days of Summer, and desi flicks like Jab We Met and Wake Up Sid. But i did not mind the inspiration because the writers made something of their own from the inspired material.)

Jameson Empire had announced a contest for shorts – remake any cult film in just 1 minute. It’s called DISS (Done In Sixty Seconds) and Anurag Kashyap was on the jury.  They have just announced the two films which will compete with films from across the world at the the Jameson Empire Award in London.

The two winners are Mayank Shethiya’s Fight Club and Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind by the team of Zain Matcheswalla, Vidyut Singh Jaiswal, Arati Kadav and Zenish Mehta. Click on the play button and have a look.