Archive for July, 2013

UPDATE – Since there was some confusion about what we really wanted to say in the post, well, i just changed the header and made it clear. That’s how we talk in Versova. (Earlier it had the header “Bereft Of Colours is weirdly similar to 1/3 Ship Of Theseus”)

We came across this short film called “Bereft Of Colours” and it looks suspiciously similar to one of the three stories of Ship Of Theseus. At least on the concept level. Have a look and let us know what you think. Do post your views in the comments section.

We are not exactly sure when the film was made. If anyone knows more about it, please do inform us in the comments section.

Sonali Cable was on our radar because it was selected for Mahindra Sundance Screenwriters Lab in 2012. It’s the debut film of Charudutt Acharya who has been writing for the small screen for a long time.

His bio from Mahindra site – Charudutt Acharya is an award winning writer of Indian TV drama shows like Haqeeqat, Kagaar, Jassi Jaise koi Nahin, Siddhanth, Rajuben &Crime Patrol. He has also co-written Hindi feature films Dum Maro Dum & Vaastushastra. Charudutt is a graduate of FTII, Pune and Royal Holloway, London.



About the film (from release) –

SCIL (Super Cassettes Industries Limited), Ramesh Sippy Entertainment and NextGen Entertainment announces the release of their film ‘Sonali Cable’ on 3rd January 2014.

Sonali Cable is a ‘David versus Goliath’ story, in the thick of the cable internet turf war in Mumbai. An ordinary girl puts her love, life and survival at stake, when she and her ragtag team come in the way of the expansion plans of India’s largest corporation. The film wants to establish the growing corporate crushing small businesses without any scope for co existence.

The film is written and directed by debutant Charudutt Acharya with an ensemble cast that includes Rhea Chakraborty, Ali Fazal, Swanand Kirkire and Raghav Juyal (aka Crockroaxz), supported by accomplished veterans Smita Jayakar and Anupam Kher.

The film features a varied soundtrack showcasing the talents of Devi Shri Prasad, Ankit Tiwari, Mikey McCleary and Falak, with lyrics by Kausar Munir.

RIP Jagdish Raj – the man in khakee

Posted: July 28, 2013 by moifightclub in bollywood, RIP
Tags: ,

Jagdish Raj

Back in the 1960s, a big Hollywood casting director called Harvey Wood came and selected me for a police inspector’s role. Although I had done many films before as hero and villain, I don’t know why I found popularity only as police inspector. I got a lot of acting assignments, but all as police inspector. Twenty years later, I bumped into Harvey Wood again. He looked at me and said, “Bloody hell! You’re still in the same uniform.” He asked me to mail him the details of all my films as I was onto a world record for the most occupational role. Later the Guinness book people sent a team to Bombay to verify facts before they entered my name in their book.

Jagdish Raj, actor, born Sargodha, Pakistan, 1928

Text/pic from here.

TOI report on his death is here. He played cop in 144 films. Yes, 144.

We hardly cover box office related news on the blog. But this is really becoming ridiculous, and in epic proportions. If you don’t track the box office numbers closely, let us explain what we mean.

Nikhil Advani’s D-Day released last friday. After its one week run, here are some of the box office number floating around. First one is by Taran Adarsh, who is a well respected trade analyst if you go by the tweets of B-townies. Also, well endorsed by most Bollywood people. Here’s what he tweeted about D-Day’s 1st week collection

TaranSo the figure given by Taran is 26 crore net.

Now, check out the figure given by others who also track box office. Amul Mohan edits another well known and respected trade magazine called Super Cinema. Here’s what Amul tweeted

AmulBy Amul’s report, the total box office collection of first seven days is 16.5 crores net. As you can see in the tweet, he has given the daily break up too.

So that means a difference of about 10crores (9.5 crores to be exact). A difference of 10crores! Is this a joke? Such a big industry and there’s no accountability of box office figures. Let’s check out the figures given by other sources too.

BoxOfficeIndia has given the same figure of 16.5 crores net.

BOIGirish Johar, who is with Balaji’s distribution wing and tracks box office on daily basis, has also tweeted the figure of 16.5 crores net. Komal Nahata, Editor of trade magazine Film Information, has pitched it far less at Rs 15.75 crores.

UPDATE – Box Office India magazine, which is another reliable source for numbers, they have also finally released the 1st week total of D-Day and it’s Rs 14.6 crores. Ooh la la.

This difference in the figure actually started from its opening weekend. Going by Taran’s tweet, D-Day opened with a collection of Rs 13.69 crs net. For the same three days, Amul tweeted the figure of Rs 9.65 crores net. And strangely, the figure given by DAR Motion Picture (Producer of D-Day) is something else – Rs 12 crores as quoted in this report. If you compare Taran and Amul’s numbers, the opening day collection is still close (Rs 2.94/2.50), but looks like Taran’s figures suddenly got wings from saturday.

Everyone in the industry knows that many trade analysts inflate/deflate box office figures based on various other factors – the kind of reviews they have given to show that they were correct in assessing the film’s potential, relationship with the star/maker, and other ulterior motives. A difference of 1 to 5 crore is almost the accepted norm every week. With no central body that does the job of tracking box office numbers, it’s left to the whims and fancies of trade analysts who play around with them the way they want. Strangely, when they endorse a film and it doesn’t manage to get good numbers, they sometimes don’t even reflect the numbers in their box office report. More generic terms like “not up to to the mark”, “above average” (when you don’t even know what average is), “good not great”, are used to cover up the numbers. Well, all this is for a bigger post some other day.


– Posted by @cilemasnob

Through this blog we have always tried to spread the good word about various crowd-funded (Kickstarter, wishberry and such) projects. Here’s one more film which looks interesting and you can contribute to its making.

Have a look at this trailer –

And here’s one more clip –

If you find the trailer and the clip interesting, you can help the filmmakers complete the film. Click here to go their IndieGoGo page and fund the film.

If you want to know more the film and the filmmakers, over to the team for all the other details.

  1. design_final Who are we

Adam Dow (Co-Director, born and raised in Seattle, and is currently settled in Mumbai) has been making films since the age of twelve with his father’s old VHS camera. He has written and directed several short films that have been circulated in the US festival circuit. He received the Mary Gates Scholarship for leadership in 2001 and started the University of Washington’s first improvisational theatre troupe. Upon his move to Mumbai in 2007 he founded India’s first Improv Group known as Improv Comedy Mumbai and in 2011 was nominated as one of the people to watch in Mumbai by CNN.

Ruchika Muchhala, (Co-Director, is of Indian roots, born and raised in Indonesia and Singapore, and is currently settled in New York). She has worked on several documentary projects as an editor and television series as a writer and director. Her directorial debut was “The Great Indian Marriage Bazaar”, a documentary in which she navigates through the complex system of arranged marriages in modern-day India. The film aired internationally on various television channels, including BBC World, and at women’s and international film festivals in 2012.

 2. Story behind Beyond Bollywood

Both of us were complete “outsiders” to the world of Bollywood, when we came in 2007 to Mumbai to work on a web series about the different facets of Bollywood. During the making of the web-series, we came across 4 very interesting characters – Pooja Kasekar (dancer), Harry Key (Australian “white” extra), Ojas Rajani (make up artist) and Prem Singh Thakur (Union Leader) – and when we approached them with the idea of making a film on them/their lives, they readily agreed.

So, the Beyond Bollywood journey began in 2008 and we decided to finish shoot after 4 years of filming, in 2012, which is when we decided that it was time to now start putting the film together. We realized, while filming, that in order to capture their journey’s in the industry (and of their lives), we would need to spend time with them. Only then the audience will be able to see some character growth and development – but more than that, their real stories. Both of us truly believe in storytelling and wanted the audience to feel that they were watching a film, and not snippets of their lives, being narrated by a voice over.

3. Why should you support “Beyond Bollywood”?

 We decided to follow these characters because we felt a certain connect with them and found them to be extremely passionate about what they were doing – Pooja Kasekar, whose idol is Madhuri Dixit, came to Mumbai to become a dancer and through sheer hard work, moved on from being a background dancer to a lead dancer and also got a role in a film as the lead actress.

Prem Singh Thakur, who a lot of our filmmaker friends would know, is meant to be one of the most honest men in this profession and has been elected Vice Chairman of the Union over and over again.

Ojas Rajani has been in the film industry for more than 20 years now (is considered one of the top make up artists in the industry) and has done make up for some of the biggest names in the business.

Harry Key, a complete outsider, came to India to travel and possibly find some work, landed up on a film set the day he arrived in India. Initially it was tough for him to find work here, but again, through sheer hard work and perseverance, he decided to stick around, kept trying, and managed to do TV Commercials and Films (as an extra). He also got a major role in a small hindi film, which unfortunately didn’t release.

They all came from outside the film industry (most from outside of Mumbai), had a dream of making it BIG (a subjective term), were extremely passionate about what they were doing, and each one through sheer hard work and determination was able to do something that they (and everyone around them) would certainly be proud of. They did something BIG in their own right!

We want to tell their stories, which are similar to the stories of most people that come to Mumbai (from across India and the world) to try their luck in Bollywood! We also feel that this film will help a lot of people that are not part of the industry, understand the space better (especially our very own family members, who are asking us all the time – Beta, aap karte kya ho? / Child, what do you really do?)

 4. What do we need the money for?

So far, we have funded the production and post production on our own and now we have run out of funds (and our parents have stopped supporting us too!). We need US$ 12,000 to complete the film – sound, picture and some licensing fees for the film/music clips we are using in our documentary. We are running a crowd funding campaign on Indiegogo (link here) to raise the funds to be able to complete the film. Please watch the trailer and visit our Facebook site and help us by contributing and/or passing on the trailer/fb link to your friends and family who might be able to contribute.


Producer:                Manas Malhotra

Co-Producers:         Adam Dow & Ruchika Muchhala

Co-Directors:          Adam Dow & Ruchika Muchhala

Cinematographer:   Adam Dow

Editor:                    Monisha Baldawa

Sound:                    Kamood Kharade

Additional Editors:   Darren Lund & Atanu Mukherjee

Music Composers:  Tarun Shahani & Vinayak Manohar

The Act of Killing

This was long before Tehelka had done any expose. I think the year was 2006. A junior from college had gone on to become a yogi of sorts – a spiritual guru who over the next few years would gather a bunch of powerful politicos as his disciples and put an Orkut profile photo showing Narendra Modi reading Time Magazine with him, in his Yogi costume, on the cover.

I had shifted to Bombay to become a writer and his phone call started with respect for this ‘brave’ decision of mine. Over the next few phone calls during the week he told me about his vision for India and his love for cows, both quite reasonable, and I listened out of curiosity and courtesy. Then, after his self-praise ran dry after multiple ejaculations over 4-5 days, he came to the asli mudda.  He wanted me to head the national cultural wing of some organization/movement he was launching soon, in association with Bajrang Dal or VHP (my memory fails). I asked him what are his views on allegations on these organizations being responsible for Gujarat riots, and pat came his monologue which came back to me right after I started watching Joshua Oppenheimer’s The Act of Killing.

He said of course it’s a matter of pride and an act whose time had come. It’s a happy situation that we still have youth who can put their lives on line for their nation. He said he is in fact sitting with two bhai jis who murdered a few people, including a pregnant lady and her child, with their own hands. Sensing my shock he said he and bhai jis can explain everything if I meet them in person just once. And then he handed the phone to one bhai ji when I cut the call in horror. College junior/Yogi called back saying he can understand the fear of rationals over such acts but he is sure that once I know the full story, I will not just accept but hug and applaud these people who murdered muslim women and children on the streets. A more heroic me would have gone to the cops or some TV channel, but I just cut the phone and never took his call again. (He called a number of times over the next month or so.)

This nonchalance puzzled me, kept me awake for many days. I rationalized that he might have been bluffing only, or trying to test me on something. It was too difficult to believe that people could boast about their crimes so easily, that too to almost strangers.

While watching The Act of Killing, in which gangsters hired by Indonesian military regime to kill more than 15 Lakh alleged ‘communists’ in the country revisit their acts with pride and glossy rationalization, I kept swinging between the two extreme emotions. One was the feeling of shock at this bizarre scenario – gangsters were told to re-enact the murders in whatever cinematic genre they want to and they obliged by enthusiastically recounting the methods, madness (sitting on a table placed on victim’s neck and jumping while singing), and ‘reasons’ (“God hates communists”) behind via many genres including musical, war film, crime drama, and comedy. The other was the feeling of familiarity – the feeling of having lived among such people, known them (and we all have known them in India who say ‘Sahi kiya Modi ne!’), and hence feeling no shock at this kind of behavior. It was like looking into the future if we have a Hindu-Military regime someday. The same guys I spoke to on the phone might be calling me   again to write songs for the film they would be making to celebrate their own acts of 2002.

So yes, there was a third feeling too. Feeling of ‘Is it okay if I laugh at this scenario?’ Very few films can put you in that space, that uncomfortable space between humaneness and detachment. I did laugh in a few scenes, in spite of being brain-shocked by it.  It was farce performing cunnilingus on reality.

The story unfolds through Anwar Congo and his sidekick Herman Koto. Anwar was a gangster (he says gangster means a ‘free man’) in 1965 and killed more than 1000 people in his ‘office’ by his own admission. He loved watching movies, looked like Sidney Potier, and ran the ticket business of cinema halls, and hence appears most earnest about this project presented to him by Oppenheimer. His sidekick, a present day gangster, clearly has acting ambitions as he puts his soul and direction skills in this fractured, b-grade production they are making. The film keeps switching between extremely violent and surreal recreations of 1965 killings, present day life of these gangsters (sometimes watching and critiquing their day’s work like big stars would), and moments of serene silence. And the silences are the most uncomfortable, as they should be.

Is there some moral redemption at the end of this “high-fever dream”? I don’t think there is much. Though director in an interview said of Anwar and his friends’ casual justifications for killing while recreating the scenes as their “desperate attempt to justify what they have done,” and thus, we see their ultimate humanity. If they have to cover it, they must know they have something to cover. In the recognition is the humanity. But redemption is not what the film seeks to achieve. Its attempt, in my opinion, is a much simpler one. It just wants to push these bad men into doing something decent (making cinema), and us into doing something bad (watching murder in a lighter vein, almost like they watched when they committed them). A two-way documentary, in a sense.

Not for the faint-hearted, but this is as explosive a mix of documentary, cinema, human condition, and horrors of prejudice as you will ever see. GUT-WRENCHING is an understatement.

– by Varun Grover

VOTD : Ask a Filmmaker – Adoor Gopalakrishnan

Posted: July 24, 2013 by moifightclub in cinema, VOTD
Tags: ,

Thanks to BFI for making this possible because we hardly get to see and hear Adoor Gopalakrishnan.

Info from BFI account – Only two filmmakers from India have won the BFI’s Sutherland Trophy for most original and imaginative film — Satyajit Ray and Adoor Gopalakrishnan. Adoor has won the International Film Critics Prize six times, and in 2002 the Smithsonian Institution honoured him with a complete retrospective of his work.

Adoor pioneered the film society movement in Kerala and formed India’s first film co-operative for production, distribution and exhibition. Here he answers questions from Twitter, Facebook and email, as part of our Ask an Expert series.

The first look of Richie Mehta’s new film, Siddharth, is out. The film will have its premiere at the 10th edition of Venice Days Program of the Biennale.

Venice Days is a separate festival within the Venice Fest and it runs during the entire duration of the main fest (August 28-Sept. 7). Its lineup includes 12 feature films, two shorts, three special events and two special screenings.

Here’s the trailer and synopsis of the film

SiddharthSIDDHARTH by Richie Mehta

With Rajesh Tailang, Tannishtha Chatterjee, Anurag Arora, Shobha Sharma Jassi, Geeta Agarwal Sharma, Naseeruddin Shah

India/Canada, World Premiere

Production: Poor Man’s Productions Ltd.

Mahendra works on street corners as a chain-wallah (a zipper-fixer), while his wife Suman stays at home with their two young children, twelve-year-old Siddharth and his sister. To contribute to the family budget, the boy is sent far away from home, from New Dehli to Ludhiana, where a relative has a job for him and a place to sleep. It seems like a dream come true to his father, until he realises that his son has vanished into thin air: kidnapped, perhaps, or dead. Mahendra learns how confusing the world beyond his front door really is, but that doesn´t stop him from stubbornly seeking Siddharth all over India, its cities and countryside combined. Co-written by its star and the director (who now lives in Canada), the film builds on the emotions of one man´s painful awakening, and shows a different, almost neorealist India, described with that ingredient of universal humanity that is Italian film´s gift to the world.


Here’s the good news about one of the best films of the year, The Lunchbox. Producer-director Karan Johar has come on board to present the film and it will be released by UTV on September 20th. This is exactly what we need – big faces should attach themselves with brilliant indies and make them reach the theatres. Otherwise distribution is a pain in the current scenario. After Kiran Rao came on board to help Ship Of Theseus’ release, this is another step in right direction.

Some of us have seen the film and let us assure that it’s a simple and solid film. Directed by Ritesh Batra, it’s not only one of the best debuts of the year, it also has two of the best performances of the year – Irrfan Khan and Nimrat Kaur.

– You can read more about “The Lunchbox” here (on Sony Classics deal) and here (all the Cannes buzz)

And now another bit of news – The Toronto International Film Festival has announced its first list of films selected for the 2013 edition of the festival. And two desi films feature in the list – Ritesh Batra’s The Lunchbox and Maneesh Sharma’s Shuddh Desi Romance. Here’s more on both the films (from the official release) :

The Lunchbox Ritesh Batra, India/France/Germany North American Premiere

– Middle class housewife Ila is trying once again to add some spice to her marriage, this time through her cooking. She desperately hopes this new recipe will finally arouse some kind of reaction from her neglectful husband. Unbeknownst to her, the special lunchbox she prepared is mistakenly delivered to miserable office worker Saajan, a lonely man on the verge of retirement. Curious about the lack of reaction from her husband, Ila puts a little note in the following day’s lunchbox which sparks a series of exchanged notes between Saajan and Ila. Evolving into an unexpected friendship between anonymous strangers, they become lost in a virtual relationship that could jeopardize both of their realities.

Shuddh Desi Romance Maneesh Sharma, India Canadian Premiere

– Shuddh Desi Romance follows a fresh and very real love story about the hair-raising minefield between love, attraction and commitment. A romantic comedy that tells it like it is, providing a candid look at the affairs of the heart in today’s desi heartland. Starring Rishi Kapoor, Sushant Singh Rajput, Parineeti Chopra and Vaani Kapoor.

With the release of Ship Of Theseus, we are not only debating its merit (here and here) but another conversation has started on social media – about ticket prices. Why is it so expensive? Should indie tickets be less expensive? Is it even possible? Well, we do believe that if a film is great, it’s worth the ticket price. But if you are still bothered about the price, here’s Shiladitya Bora on why it isn’t so easy to control ticket prices.


To be brutally honest, no one (and that includes me as well) genuinely knows what is the best way to distribute an Indian Indie in India. The revival of Indian Independent film industry has just started and it is currently in a very nascent stage. We all are experimenting and trying to identify the best case scenario factoring all the constraints (read quality of the film, limited appeal, limited marketing budget and resources etc). There is no one single formula applicable for all Indies and each film requires a customized plan. While owning theatres/ screens (like in case of PVR) helps a bit to screen indie content; other distributor(non cinema owners) mostly rely on relationships built over years with programmers and cinema chains to be able to screen indies.

Whenever an indie releases we see people starting endless debates on the social media platforms with respect to shows, show-timings, ticket prices etc. In order to make the most out of these debates it is of pivotal importance to first have our basics right.

1. So who actually decides how many shows to be allocated to an indie and in which theatres?

For an indie releasing on a Friday, on the preceding Monday the distributor send show requests (wish list in terms of cities, theatres, number of shows, show timings) to the programming teams of various cinema chains. The concerned programming teams then works out a tentative showcasing plan based on factors like the number of films releasing on that particular Friday, performance of last week releases, expected target audience of the film, past performance of similar indies etc. This tentative schedule is then shared with Cinema Operations Team for final approval.

Cinema Operations – Each theatre is managed by a cinema manager who has a target to achieve in terms of number of admits, ATP (average ticket price), SPH (sales per head) – a daily target, weekly target, monthly target, quarterly target and annual target. The career of a cinema manager is directly proportional to these targets and hence all his/her efforts are focused on optimizing the same.

Statistics show that the performance of Indian Indies is abysmally poor in all the three parameters – admits, ATP and SPH and hence not many cinema managers are keen on showcasing Indies at his/her property. So if we want Indies to be released in as many theatres as possible, we need to make the people who run the cinemas confident about the product and this is possible only when a few Indies start performing.

So we come to the next big question on ticket pricing.

2. How is ticket pricing decided?

Every cinema has to operate within price bands pre-approved by the government and no theatre can sell tickets below the lowest price band. The best thing an indie distributor can do is to request the respective cinemas to run the film on the lowest price band and it’s at the discretion of the individual cinemas/ Operations to agree to the request or not.

In addition to the above there is a regular pricing and a blockbuster pricing. Blockbuster pricing is applicable during weeks of tentpole/ big releases and in case an indie is releasing in a week with a tentpole film, blockbuster pricing is applicable to the indie as well in most cases.

We are trying to work out a special discounted price band for Indies released through Director’s Rare.

Another solution can be government waiving off the E.Tax for Indies but for that we need clear cut guidelines to define a film as an independent film.

 3. At PVR Director’s Cut, Vasant Kunj, Delhi, the ticket price of an Indie is above Rs. 1000. Why?

First of all I would like to clarify that PVR Director’s Cut and PVR Director’s Rare are 2 different things. PVR Director’s Cut is a super luxury premium theatre located at Vasant Kunj, New Delhi where as PVR Director’s Rare is a banner for theatrical distribution/ showcasing of niche content.

Director’s Cut being a premium theatre, not only Indies but every film is at a premium price. This is like the Business class of an airline and we have a dedicated clientele for this property.

Now the question is if Director’s Cut is a premium property, what is the point of releasing an Indie there?

There are a few reasons for the same.

First it has always been a struggle to get screens for an Indie in Delhi as most of the multiplexes in Delhi have 3-5 screens which is not enough when compared to the number of films releasing in a particular week unlike that in Mumbai, Bangalore, Pune etc.

In PVR Director’s Cut, there is one dedicated auditorium for showing alternate content and hence we always get a show there. And I have always believed that it is better to release the film in Director’s Cut rather than not releasing the film in Delhi at all. In most of the cases we release the film simultaneously in PVR MGF Mall/ PVR Ambience Mall etc, which are regular priced cinemas.

Also if we analyze the total box office earnings of an indie in most cases (not all), a major percentage of the collections is from PVR Director’s Cut. This is because the producer’s earnings on a ticket of Director’s Cut after tax are almost 3-4 times as compared to a regular cinema.

4. In Delhi, the spread of theatres for Indies are mostly limited to South Delhi. Why is this so?

We have to understand one thing that when a film is released, there is a cost attached to it.  For releasing a film in one show in one theatre, the total expense on content comes to around INR 18000 per property per week ( INR 14000 Virtual print fee + 12.3% tax + INR 2000 for cloning and cargo). For a producer to recover this cost on content, we need net box office sale of close to INR 40-45000 for that particular property. So as of now it is really not a very good decision to release such niche content in theatres other than in South Delhi. May be in future once the market matures, we will be able to spread the reach all over Delhi NCR.

All said and done we must rejoice on the fact that this is perhaps one of the best phases to  be in for an Indian Indie filmmaker and the future will be better.

A few observations/ suggestions which may be useful for aspiring Independent filmmakers.

Make a kickass Indie. There is no substitute to that. No amount of support, gyaan, strategy, patronizing, social media buzz can save a bad/mediocre indie. Do not compare with Rowdy Rathores of the world because that industry works on a completely different dynamics.

When you are planning an indie, in case you do not have access to marketing and distribution budget of around INR 1.5-2 crores, the production cost of your indie should not exceed a few lakhs at any cost. But is it possible to make a good film with such minimal amount? Read about Karan Gour’s KSHAY, which I consider as a classic case study of a successful Indian Indie.

Do not try to do everything yourself. Not every one of us is a Robert Rodriguez. I know we have budget constraints but it is always better to rope in professionals wherever possible and do pay them a fee (whatever best you can afford). Know your weak spots. For e.g if you are not very good at writing, it is always advisable to hire a screen writer to write the screenplay for you. You will find many talented screenwriters willing to help you out. Roping in professionals will definitely help in raising the quality of the final output.

Once you have made a good film, invest some money in hiring a good intelligent publicist who will help with creating the much required aura around the film. Rope in a good designer and get some good artwork ready. Invest in a professional promo editor. These are few small things but if done properly will go a long way in packaging the film well which in turn may yield better results during distribution phase.

(Shiladitaya Bora manages PVR Director’s Rare and has been actively involved with the theatrical distribution of more than 30 independent films)

Pic Courtesy 1 / 2