Archive for April, 2013

She went to watch Aashiqui-2. She came back with pyaar, ishq aur mohabbat in her heart head. So over to Fatema Kagalwala who ponders over matters of the heart.

kagaz ke phool2

Insights don’t owe the source anything. Neither is observation obligated to its genesis. So while watching Aashiqui-2, when my mind began wandering with a momentum that had nothing to do with the emotional quotient of the film, it was time to set pen to paper. Or well, keyboard to MSWord. Why rein in a capricious mind that revels in intellectual masturbation?

There was a dulcet time in our movie-watching nostalgia when grand passions on screen were our personal emotional crescendos. Unattainable, intense romances that scarred us so bad, it was unbearable to live after that, yet a life like that was worth many without it. We could happily become the lovers on-screen and do everything they did with a resounding passion. We’d devour their legendary pain feverishly as though somehow it would redeem us of the pedestrian-ness of our lives and bring us instant immortality. The choices of the lovers were unquestionable, all was fair in love and war, and the world was at the feet of the two touched by Cupid. Nothing else mattered except that undying longing for the other. It wasn’t cute, it was disturbing in that lovely, intense way that morning dreams are sometimes, where you walk in deep darkness, with a red halo descending on you, towards the end of a tunnel that is showing the glimpse of dawn. You are alone in your anxiety yet clutching at hope, not knowing what the next moment brings but yearning to have it all. And then you wake up with a start and there is a weight on your chest like it is sometimes in morning dreams. You snuggle back but continue to savour that strange mix of dread and anticipation, having been there and not quite but longing to go back… That was love for us and what passion was always meant to be. Like Salim’s delirious love for Anarkali, Heer’s utter devotion to Ranjha, Vasu and Sapna’s inseparability or the sheer innocence of Raj and Rashmi’s bond. It wasn’t about how well the films were made as much as how deeply we aspired to that kind of love. And more importantly how we understood it. “Haif us chaar girah kapde ki kismet ghalib, jiski kismet mein hain aashiq ka gareban hona”. That is the kind of yearning love was made of…

Mughal-e-azam 1

Somehow, love was absolute for us. ‘Chhup na sakega ishq hamaara, chaaron taraf hai unka nazaara’. A non-negotiable reality. One for which anything, any action wasn’t too dramatic or no cost too much to pay. Letters written in blood drew painful sighs from us and parental opposition was villainy of the highest kind. The lover’s friends were Gods own angels and daresay if the lovers were to die, it was an irrevocable loss for us, as an audience. It was a scar that would refuse to heal, making the hero-heroines saints in our eyes. We’d love them for loving like that and more importantly having a love like that. Through them we’d have our bit of history-making and feel soul-satisfied for having ‘lived’ true to ourselves, even if it was for mere 3 hours, a dot on the terrain of our unbearably long drawn out lives.

But like a disheartening inevitability, love changed with time and so did love stories. It changed from love letters to running to catch truant trains to get together with your loved one. It changed from passion-drenched poetry to Geet-like non-stop chatter. From inner landscapes of Laila dying to know how her Majnu is doing out in the unforgiving desert to stunning locales where the yuppy boy helped the timid girl open up and ‘live-a little’. From longing to sex – that defining ache replaced by the inevitable first kiss that today is more ‘being-in-the-moment’ than drenched in the desire of true love. Compare the tender moment of Raj and Rashmi’s first kiss to any of our must-have liplocks today. Or the lovely, pubescent tension between Raja and Bobby. Or even Prem and Suman’s first sexually charged encounter in ‘Mere Rang Mein’ which seems corny to us today but speaks volumes of the philosophy that was sublime love back then. Back, when we devoured it with fatal sighs ourselves. But now love has ‘moved on’- as is the new-age term for growth and overcoming pain while leaving behind love’s scars – something we yearned to acquire in the past… it has gone from commitment that is default to questions that are endless. From a dream to a reality, that’s more often than not, a pain to suffer rather than an ideal to cherish. Imtiaz Ali made an entire ‘Love Aaj Kal’ defining more than just our attitude with one sweep. Jaane kyon log pyaar karte hain, the question Jai spent an entire movie finding an answer to

maine pyar kiya

And try as we might to resist it, love has got urbanized too. And it doesn’t matter if our romantic films aren’t telling the story of the small-towner because today even he aspires to be as cool as the big city-guy except maybe in a spare Ishaqzaade which tries to reverse this but gets it all wrong.  And maybe that is why there is no Mohnish-Bahl type villain anymore to fight, nor well-meaning but opposing parents – there is nothing to rebel against because the enemy is the mindset itself. The self that doesn’t believe in love and hence lets everything else come in the way, itself included. And the more modern our love-stories get the more we love them. But the modern they get, less they are about love. Today, it’s got to be fun, we don’t wanna hurt, it isn’t cool, it’s boring and so regressive. Emotions are cheesy and poetry is melodrama. Tears are meaningless and only thought has value. Self-debilitating passions like Jordan’s are addictions to us because our new-age mindsets cannot comprehend living and dying for that one, inviolable love anymore. “Aah ko chahye ik umar asar honay tak, kaun jeeta hai teri zulf ke sar honay tak.

So today, when we watch Rahul sacrificing himself for his girl we cringe because it looks so passe. Sacrifice is now self-pity and I wanted to slap him and tell him, ‘You idiot, stop playing the helpless victim. If you really love her do what needs to be done instead. Change yourself!”.  Like Jackie did for his Radha in Hero. But had I seen Rahul do that, I’d have screamed so old school! Who changes themselves for their lovers these days? Easier to change partners no? When Arohi, deep in the throes of her grand passion, throws away a stunning career we raise eyebrows. I wanted to shake her up and tell her, ‘Girl, this guy is hopeless, don’t bother throwing everything away for him. This is not love, this self-sabotage. THINK.” Something I never felt like telling Gulabo when I first saw Pyaasa, or Shanti in Kaagaz ke Phool. I wept with them and for them. But with Arohi it is different and the difference isn’t Guru Dutt and Mohit Suri. We see her as ‘today’s’ girl and hence her actions are confounding because if we are no longer like Gulabo or Shanti how can she be? We see her yearning to be with her man but we don’t see any reason in her choice. We don’t see that she had no choice, and so we do what we did with Cocktail’s Meera – define her in hundred ways that have nothing to do with her.

DevdasOver the ages and with all the progress we pat our backs about, love has taken the biggest beating; the only bloodless casualty of our hard-bought modernity. Today, we seek reason, labeling passion as desperation and self-sacrifice as moping, whereas at one point it signified devotion, a concept synonymous to ‘bhakti’. Take for example Zaara’s choice to live almost nun-like in the memory of her long-lost Veer, now assumed dead. Or Samar Anand’s decision to court death if he couldn’t unite with his lover in this lifetime. We shift uncomfortably in our seats when we encounter characters like these not because these films are less than perfect, but because the emotion they espouse sound alien to us and we overlook the fabric of love that compels them to do what they do. That fabric is tattered beyond recognition today as we weave other weaves to drape our souls in. We don’t accept the old, more enduring weaves anymore even if we see them. Rockstar’s simmering emotions, which spoke right through all its flaws, refusing to be contained despite a choppy flow exposed our vulnerabilities with a rare emotional intelligence but we couldn’t understand it. We won’t be getting a more honest or more intense love story for a long time after this but maybe that’s inevitable. We see what we are and we are no longer what we used to be when Salim declared his ardour with flourishing poetry to a trembling Anarkali dying to fall into his arms. That, may also have been part of the difference between Dilip Kumar’s Devdas and Shahrukh Khan’s.

But the makers are draped in the same cloth, one that is cut out of an unwieldy carpet cloth, so we don’t make love stories anymore either. We simply don’t know how to. We are bored of Shahrukh’s outstretched arms in which we wished to die 20 yrs back and we see red when we see women singularly committed to their loves. We yawn when we see love-at-first sight sort of chemistry and go blank should any character even speak of laying down their lives for the other. Our makers are the same as us, they don’t get it either and so we have half-baked stuff like Aashiqui-2. It isn’t anything to write home about but I still wonder, if it (or JTHJ or even Ishaqzaade for that matter) was made 20 yrs back would it be more watchable just because we, as an audience and as people were more in love with love then, than we are today?

Fatema Kagalwala

P.S.: At the end of this I caught myself telling myself ‘Guzra hua zamana aata nahi dobara’… and I suddenly remember this beauty is from “Shirin Farhad”. What irony… Sigh…

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I first saw this short film by Chinmay Nagesh Dalvi at Mumbai Film Festival’s 2011 edition. It was in the “Dimension Mumbai” section, a competitive segment for U-25 filmmakers where films have to be about the city and duration should be less than 5 minutes.

I loved it, and thought that it will easily win the top spot. But Bombay Snow went on to receive the Special Jury mention. Later on it bagged the award for Best Short Fiction at International Documentary and Short Film Festival of Kerala. Since then i have been recommending it to everyone looking for good shorts. But the film wasn’t online. So for all those who have been asking for the film, finally the short film is online. Enjoy.

The version that was submitted at MFF was slightly shorter than this one. It didn’t have the scene of the boy stopping near the park. Compared to other shorts in the segment, this was brilliant as it didn’t try to force the “Mumbai” factor in it. Also, it beautifully touches upon so many subjects without shouting or saying anything – displacement issue, rural versus urban, the equation between husband, wife and hooker, and that epic “bombay snow”.

@CilemaSnob

Tip – Kuldip Patel

Last week i watched Kannan Iyer’s Ek Thi Daayan. It’s co-produced and co-written by Vishal Bhardwaj. And last night i watched Aparna Sen’s Goynar Baksho. And i could not stop myself from comparing the two. Apart from Konkona Sensharma’s spectacular acting, there are few more common factors between the two. Both the films are based on literary work. Ek Thi Daayan is based on a short story written by Konkona’s father Mukul Sharma. (You can read the story here) Goynar Baksho is based on Shirshendu Mukhopadhyay’s story titled “Rashmonir Sonadana”. So in a way one is Mommy’s film and the other one is Daddy’s. Though both are in supernatural space, in terms of what they deliver, the difference is huge.

Ek Thi Daayan is a strange film. Because it’s two films in one. Though it plays around with all the common elements of horror films in first half, it sets up a great mood, is deliciously ambiguous, and keeps you totally hooked. Konkona and the kids keep you engaged in their mouse and cat game. The 2nd half is drastically different – almost a Vikram Bhatt film. Everything is on the face, new rules are set, it’s silly, becomes unintentionally hilarious and has a strange closure. What is Kalki’s character doing in the film? She is just to misguide us? Is it all about who is the witch out of the two? It all boils down to one spoiler? There have been many rumours floating around about the film’s climax being changed by its producer, and once you watch the film you realise that all those rumours must have been true. There can’t be no other reason for the second half to be so disappointing.

Now, about the end. A wise man once said that you must ask yourself 3 Questions – 1. what’s the film about? 2. What’s the film *really* about? 3. What’s the film *really, really* about? If you know the answers, you are on right track. And the answers to these three questions tells you the difference between these two films – Ek Thi Daayan and Goynar Baksho – why one works and why the other doesn’t. Let’s see.

(SPOILER ALERT)

Magician Bobo can hear voices. Because he has a back story. Because his sister was mysteriously killed by his step-mom/witch. Interval. Bobo has a GF/wife. He also has a kid. A new stranger who might be a witch. BOOM! She is not the witch. The GF/wife is the witch. But why is Konkona suddenly back, and from where? What’s the sudden funda of pisach? And all that choti-wali ladayee? Why kill all ambiguity? Was there a way out in the same set-up? i think so. It was all there, just needed to be perfectly tied up like Konkona’s hair braid.

For me, the answer would have been Bobo’s adopted kid, Zubin. Going by the trend of orphan kids who get superpowers, he perfectly fits the demography too. We don’t know about his real parents. Aha, that’s where the magic and mystic happens. If you see the second trailer here (at 01:05), you will know that there was more to Zubin for sure. See the screenshot – Zubin talking to a doll (or Misha?) when Bobo spots him. This scene was not there in the film.

The film just used him for the choti-kaato act. Given a choice, i would have gone with Zubin getting some of the supernatural powers to hear/see daayans, something that connect Bobo and Zubin, and then a closure for Bobo’s story with him coming to terms with Misha’s (his sister) death in some way. I believe it was also there in the script – if the lift is going down, it’s going to hell. Can Bobo take the lift up to heaven for Misha? As for Lisa (Kalki’s character), isn’t she going to be step-mother for Zubin? When it plays around on the funda of sauteli maa acchi ho toh sakti hai par hoti nahi, isn’t Zubin in same scenario as Bobo? Aha, the loop.

(SPOILER OVER)

ETD2

And if there’s something more funnier than Vikram Bhatt style kaat-choti-kaat act, it was the disclaimer in the beginning of the film. Easy to understand that neither the makers nor the Censor Board is guilty of that. It’s because of the times we live in, where the fringe groups are always looking for such occasions to raise their voice and get attention. This is where Aparna Sen’s Goynar Baksho hits the ball straight out of the boundary.

On the surface it’s a story about three generations of women and their relationship with Goynar baksho (jewellery box). But Aparna manages to pack in so much, that it’s unbelievable. And treated it in a humourous tone, this one should work for all. In a memorable and heart breaking sequence in the film, Pishima (aunt in bengali, father’s sister), a child widow who has died and become ghost, asks Konkona Sen (new daughter-in-law) what sex feels like? Does she enjoy cuddling? In today’s times of offending sensibilities, this might be counted as quite sacrilegious. But this is where the bravery and the brilliance of the film lies – it packs everything with humour.

Pishima got married at 12 and was widow at 13. Forget love, relationship, or any such pleasure, widows were not even allowed to have good food. All she got was boiled veggies, all she wore was white sarees. It reminded me of someone i know closely. Married at young age, she had a son just after marriage, and then her husband died soon. She returned back to her parents and brothers. Since then it was been a life of white sarees, religious stuff and only vegetarian food. It’s actually quite a common sight in bengali families, mostly in rural areas – the eldest daughter who is married at young age and if she becomes widow, she comes back to her parents and stays with them for the rest of her life.

Moushumi Chatterjee plays the role of Pishima, an authoritative voice in the house. Because she owns those expensive jewels, nobody wants to be in her bad books. But the fun begins once she dies and becomes a ghost. Interestingly, only Konkona’s character of Somlata (new daughter-in-law) can see her. She is new in the house, she is scared and to make things worse, she even stammers. With a hookah in her hand and more abuses that you can count, initially Pishima starts bullying Konkona to protect her jewellery box, and then slowly they develop a bond. Pishima is bitter, sarcastic and is always cursing everyone around, but all done with dollops of humour in her Faridpur accent. Her dead character is the life of the film.

Goynar Baksho

In another sequence she gets emotional as she talks about how the men in the house always had all the pleasures, and all she got was this jewellary box. The (pishima) ghost played brilliantly by Moushmi Chatterjee, instigates Konkona’s character to go out, fight for her rights, to pursue her passion and enjoy everything that’s forbidden. Who talks about heaven and hell? As a ghost she knows it better than everyone. Enjoy till you can and then your body will perish one day.

Konkona’s character of Somlata represents the second generation. She is on the other extreme compared to her Ek Thi Daayan role. Set in a completely rural background, instead of scaring others, in this film she is always scared. And like in almost every other film of hers, she is so convincing that you would think she has a twin sister who acted in ETD. She is undoubtedly the best actress of our generation. The last 15mins of the film feels bit odd but you get what the filmmaker is trying to do – the third generation. You can also see the limitation of budget and resources, but this one is a must watch.

The film has released with subtitles in Mumbai and other cities. Though the subtitles might not be able to translate the fun of Faridpur accent but do watch it. Bollywood desperately needs some funny ghosts. And Vikram Bhatt needs to put his tacky ghosts in his closet for sometime.

So in two weeks we had two supernatural stories – one with mysterious witches and the other with loveable ghost. Both with three leading ladies. For whatever reason, one remains a half-baked affair, the other manages to pack a punch. One doesn’t say anything new, the other takes a strong stand on so many issues without making a big fuss about it. And it all comes from the same family. I guess in the end it’s all about the *choices* – we are the stories we tell.

@CilemaSnob

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A poster of Anurag Kashyap’s new film Ugly was floating on the net. But Kashyap confirmed on twitter that it’s indeed the official first poster. Have a look.

Ugly

It’s like a minimal poster – a kid and a bunch of men. All in dark. Looks impressive.

The film will have its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival in Directors’ Fortnight section. It stars Rahul Bhatt, Tejaswini Kolhapure, Ronit Roy, Girish Kulkarni and Siddhant Kapoor.

So what’s Ugly about?

It seems Kashyap is not willing to divulge any details yet. But in this interview to DearCinema he says that it’s a thriller, a simple kidnap drama but it actually deals with lots of things. It deals with relationships, our patriarchal system, how men look at women, domestic violence. It’s a very personal drama in the shape of a thriller.

Tip – Shyam Joseph

The first part of the “Satya” series was posted here. And now the second one. Written by its editor Apurva Asrani.

Satya

–> Disclaimer: There is a term called ‘The Rashomon Effect’; in which observers of an event produce substantially different but equally plausible accounts of ‘the truth’.

So it is possible, that my truth, may differ from yours…

1997.

Sequences from Satya were getting a fabulous response from those that previewed it. We were editing alongside the filming. Ramu was a very instinctive director and was confident enough to alter characters & screenplay as he went along. His vision was broadening before our eyes. Saurabh Shukla was on set playing Kallu Mama as well as collaborating as a writer. Anurag Kashyap too was writing on location, other times he wrote in the evenings at Ramu’s large but modest Four Bungalows apartment.

It was a vodka/whisky darbar and young non-drinkers (or beer-drinkers like me) spent evenings like this without a glass. I can be corny and say that we were intoxicated in the air of a brilliant collaboration! The fit and pretty Urmila Matondkar hung out with us too, she was warm and charming, a complete departure from her cold & reserved self on set.

Along with the other assistants like Barnali Ray (now Shukla), Pradnya Lokhande (now Sharma), Feroze and Dev, I too pondered about the plausibility of the Ramu-Urmila affair as was reported. We looked for clues in those casual evenings, and convened later on to exchange notes. My close friends would often ask for gossip and I would try to look for evidence. If you’re eager to know, I never did find it; nothing conclusive at least.

First day of shooting. 12th of August 1997.

The location was a stinky stable in the suburb of Jogeshwari where Manoj Pahwa’s character introduces Satya to his new home. I wasn’t sure about Chakri’s dialogue delivery, but there was comfort in the talk that it might be dubbed later. A few hours into the shoot, Ramu received a phone-call. I saw before my eyes the blood drain from his face. His friend, media baron Gulshan Kumar had been murdered, riddled indiscriminately with bullets.

Ramu became very disturbed. We stopped work and followed him around for more news, he was among the few with a mobile-phone. It dawned upon me for the first time, how close to the truth our film was. Ramu was taking a great risk by making a film on the extortion enterprise while gangsters still ruled Bombay. I didn’t know then, that much of the film’s story-flow would be altered post this incident.

Satya2

Chakri & Manjo

I liked Chakri (Chakravarti). He came from an acting background that I was familiar with. My mother is a Telugu girl and I had seen many Telugu film’s while growing up. I empathized with Chakri’s discomfort with Hindi and we spent a lot of time together, discussing his plans for the character. I was also privy to Chakri’s soft-spot for another crew member and I often dispensed to him the wisdom of a 19 yr old.

Manoj Bajpai also became a close friend. I called him ‘Manjo’. Manoj often hitched a ride with me on my rickety-old Kinetic Honda, came out clubbing with me and my friends, and even had a few drinks with my father. Manoj had the utmost awe for the work I was doing, and encouraged me to follow my style. One day Manoj signed an agreement with me stating that he would act in my 1st film for 2 rupees. Even though it was written on a paper napkin, I was sure that it would stand the test of time. Manoj was a talent like we had never seen before, and I remember feeling like I had hit the jackpot.

I learned much later that ‘editors are an actors best friend’. So when I bonded recently with the talented Rajkumar Yadav during the making of Shahid, we added a line to this pearl of wisdom…‘till the film is complete.’ 😉

Chakri and Manoj were another ‘hit-duo’ from Satya, who’s celluloid chemistry didn’t exactly come from admiration for the other. Their rivalry was less subdued than the other’s, and it worked wonders for the film. It was the battle of the North Indian vs the South Indian, of the NSD actor vs the commercial actor. I thought that both vied to be Ramu’s pet actor. But then everyone was in awe of Mr Varma, he commanded it effortlessly.

I had mentioned in my previous blog, the tension between Anurag & Saurabh, and I think from Anurag’s reactions to my blog, that he took my claim very seriously. I didn’t mean to say that their friction over credit on the promo caused any bad blood. It seemed quite innocent, and was obviously channeled correctly, which is why they wrote a cracker of a film. Besides the ones mentioned above, there were a couple of other ‘teams’ that struggled for their inpidual place in the sun.

Two’s company

Let me pose a few questions, and see if there is a one-word/one name answer that comes to mind.

‘To whom would you attribute the cinematography of Satya?’ Would you say it was the American veteran DP Gerhard Hooper or the realistic documentary cameraman, Mazhar Kamran? Both were eventually credited.

‘Whose words were Satya really based on?’ Were they Saurabh Shukla’s–who was basking from his association with the semantic Bandit Queen & Is Raat Ki Subah Nahi or were they Anurag Kashyap’s–who was this wonder-kid that everyone was talking about and had just written Jayate (Hansal Mehta’s first tryst with the courtroom). Both were credited.

‘Who’s music will Satya be remembered for?‘ Vishal Bharadwaj’s?–The man who infused emotion into the film with songs like the dreamy Badalon se kaat kaat ke or Sandeep Chowta–who’s stark and intense themes reverberated in a shattering new system called DTS. Both were credited.

‘Who actually edited Satya?’ Apurva Asrani, the urban kid who had made promos for Sanjay Bhansali’s Khamoshi and Ramu’s Daud or was it Bhanodaya-the Telugu editor who had earlier edited Ramu’s Ana Ganaga Oku Roju & Daud? Both were credited.

While Manoj-Chakri, Saurabh-Anurag, Gerry-Mazhar, Vishal-Sandeep will be best suited to answer how they felt about sharing credit at the time, they will also be able to tell you why why none of them ever teamed up again. I can only tell you how I felt. I got asked for years, ‘who edited Satya?’ and that question used to make me angry. I guess, the simplest thing for me would have been to say ‘we both did’. But to me, that would have been a diplomatic answer, not necessarily an honest one.

Jump Cut to: Bhanodaya

If I remember right, Satya was the first Hindi film to be cut on avid. We were choosing a work-flow that required us to make a print from the negative, transfer the print to tape, digitize the tapes onto the hard disk and then start editing. The process was fascinating and I think we used Avid to its fullest potential to maintain a fresh & compelling rhythm, now synonymous with the film. But it is when the film was edited, and the technical process had to be reversed, that Ramu began to get angsty. He was nervous about matching the negative to an Avid produced cut-list. He was worried that something may go wrong with the negative. He began to feel that his judgment would work best if he saw a print before locking the film. So Ramu brought in his Daud editor Bhanodaya, specifically to match the print to the list.

What I didn’t see coming, was that I would have to share credit with Bhanodaya. This came as a bolt from the blue. I first heard about it from Ramu’s cousin, Satya’s Executive Producer, Som Shekhar. I felt somewhat cheated by Ramu and began to find it impossible make-up lies about how Bhanodaya had co-edited the film. Jitesh Pillai, then the bright kid at Filmfare had interviewed me for his magazine, and had asked me about Bhano. I remember saying, ‘I don’t know Bhano, I never met him during the editing of the film’. It was the truth, but my lack of diplomacy and patience brought out the arrogance in me.

What made things worse were the rumors going around. I would hear that Ramu had gone about telling people that I had only cut the promos of the film, and that Bhano was the editor. Now whether the rumors were true or whether people were fanning my anger, I was too naïve to know.

Filmfare Awards, February 1998

I remember the night of the Filmfare awards when the award for ‘Best Editing’ was announced. I was sitting among my loved ones who became very emotional and pushed me towards the stage to collect the award. As I walked, from the corner of my eye, I looked at a familiar man, wearing a black shirt, who also began walking towards the podium. I remember thinking ‘I hardly know that man, have not had a single creative exchange with him, but he is sharing my award.’ Bhanodaya was being celebrated for my work, and it just didn’t make sense.

There was only one award statuette. So I buckled my speed. Bhanodaya also walked faster. He had the advantage of being two rows ahead – with Ramu. I was like an energizer bunny, high from the industry’s acknowledgment of my skills, but somewhat wounded by the sudden U-turn of my mentor. I somehow got to Jeetendra and Poonam Dhillon first, and they handed me the statuette. Bhanodaya followed behind me and shook hands with them after I did. As I held up the coveted statuette in the air, a much shorter Bhanoday reached for it, touched it, and smiled.

If only I had known then, that I would get opportunities to prove myself again; to be part of some meaningful cinematic attempts. If I had know then that I would see other awards and some rewards that are far greater than trophies, I would have shared that award gracefully with Bhanodaya. After all, his efforts touched the final product too.

So my dear colleague Bhanodaya, I guess it isn’t too late to say ‘Congratulations….! for our Filmfare award for Satya!’

– Apurva Asrani

( You can follow Apurva Asrani on Twitter here and his blog is here)

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For those who have been curious about Ritesh Batra’s Dabba, we have got the first look of the film. Here are some of the stills from the film which look really impressive. We do also have all the cast, credit and official synopsis details.

The film will have its international premiere at Cannes Festival in International Critics Week section.

(Click on any image to start the slide show in hi-res)

Though Nawaz was also in Paan Singh Tomar, but it looks like this film finally brings together two of the finest actors of our generation in full fledged roles. And is Irrfan Khan in Namesake avatar again? Bring it on!

Official Synopsis

A mistaken delivery in Mumbai’s famously efficient lunchbox delivery system connects a young housewife to an old man in the dusk of his life as they build a fantasy world together through notes in the lunchbox. Gradually, this fantasy threatens to overwhelm their reality.

Mumbai, a city of miracles.

One of Mumbai’s miracles is Mumbai’s Dabbawallahs – a community of 5000 dabba (lunchbox) deliverymen. It is a hereditary profession. Every morning the Dabbawallahs deliver hot meals from the kitchens of housewives to the offices of their husbands, and then return the empty lunchboxes back to the homes in the afternoon. For 120 years they have provided Mumbaikars with a taste of home in the office. They navigate through the overcrowded local trains and chaotic streets – that often have a namesake or more than one name. The Dabbahwallahs are illiterate, and instead rely on a complex coding system of colors and symbols to deliver dabbas in the labyrinth that is Mumbai. Harvard University analyzed their delivery system, concluding that just 1 in 8 million lunchboxes is ever delivered to the wrong address. Dabba is the story of that one lunchbox.

A mistakenly delivered lunchbox connects a housewife, Ila Singh, to Saajan Thomas, a lonely man in the dusk of his life. Ila lives in Dadar, the conservative middle class Hindu enclave. And Saajan lives in Ranwar village, Bandra, an old Christian neighborhood that is threatened by the new high rises in Mumbai. Very soon Saajan will retire and bid goodbye to a Mumbai that has crushed his dreams, took away his loved ones one by one, and turned his hair white. Just then Ila comes into his life. In the big city, that crushes dreams and recycles them every day, both find a dream to hold on to. Ila begins a fantastical affair with a mystery suitor, pouring her heart into cooking meals for him. And Saajan looks forward to lunch box deliveries from a mystery woman every day. They exchange notes via the lunchbox and create a fantasy life. As the lunchbox goes back and forth, this fantasy becomes so elaborate that it threatens to overwhelm their reality. The characters of The Lunchbox exist on the line between the Mumbai of reality and the Mumbai of fantasy.

The Lunchbox is the story of the life we dream of versus the life we live in, and of the courage it takes to turn out fantasies into reality.

Credits

director: Ritesh Batra
screenplay: Ritesh Batra
cinematography: Michael Simmonds
editing: John Lyons
sound: Michael Kaczmarek
production design: Shruti Gupte
music: Max Richter

Cast:
Irrfan Khan
Nimrat Kaur
Nawazuddin Siddiqui
Denzil Smith
Bharati Achrekar
Nakul Vaid
Yashvi Puneet Nagar
Lillete Dubey
Sada (Dabbawala)

The film is produced by Sikhya Entertainment (India), Dar Motion Pictures (India), and co-produced by National Film Development Corporation (India), ASAP Films (France) and Roh Films (Germany).

Btw, Michael Simmonds? The DoP of Ramin Bahrani’s films? Chop Shop, Man Push Cart, Goodbye Solo and Plastic Bag. That’s a great talent to have on board.

To know more about the film and the filmmaker, click here to read his interview on DearCinema.

Director

Ritesh Batra is a writer/director based in Mumbai and New York. In 2009, Batra was selected for the Sundance Writers and Directors labs for his feature project “The Story of Ram”. He was also named the Sundance Time Warner Storytelling Fellow and an Annenburg Fellow. He was part of the Graduate Film Program at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, from which he dropped out in 2010. His short films have been presented in many international film festivals and fine arts venues. His recent short “Café Regular, Cairo” was featured in the 2012 Inter- national Film Festival of Rotterdam and 2012 Tribeca Film Festival. His upcoming short ‘The State of Siege’ is currently in post-production.

His feature screenplay THE LUNCHBOX was part of the 2011 Binger-NFDC Screenwriting Lab, it won an Honorable Mention from the Jury at the 2012 edition of the Cinemart at the International Film Festival of Rotterdam and was part of the Berlinale Talent Project Market.

(Cast/credit/synopsis/Director’s bio taken from various co-producers’ site)

The Cannes Directors’ Fortnight section unveiled its official selection list today. And there’s one Indian film in the list – Anurag Kashyap’s Ugly. His two-parter Gangs Of Wasseypur was also screened in the same section last year.

An edge of the seat thriller, Ugly stars Rahul Bhatt, Tejaswini Kolhapure, Ronit Roy, Girish Kulkarni and Siddhant Kapoor.

Interestingly, five films which are going to Cannes this year has some kind of connect with Kashyap or his company, AKFPL. Ari Folman’s The Congress, Amit Kumar’s Monsoon Shootout and Ritesh Batra’s The Lunchbox – these three films have been co-produced by AKFPL. And Kashyap has directed one of the shorts in Bombay Talkies which is going to have its Gala premiere at Cannes.

Click here to know more about The Directors’ Fortnight section.