Archive for November, 2013

Gangs Of Wasseypur – The Making Of A Modern Classic” by Jigna Kothari and Supriya Madangarli is finally out. Interestingly, the book also has the screenplay of both the parts of the film. Jigna tells us more about the book, and scroll down to read an excerpt from it. And if you find it interesting, have also given links below it from where you can order it online.

Gangs of Wasseypur cover_3The book captures director Anurag Kashyap’s organised chaos during the making of this darkly comic tale of alley gangsters and their absurdities and idiosyncrasies. As the film traverses a fine path between myths and memories, fact and fiction, the book delineates these elements and introduces the men and women who inspired their celluloid counterparts.

It also shares the director’s exploration of his roots while making the film, and looks at the components of the director and crew’s vision of the design, soundtrack and songs, and most importantly, the locations that give the film its sense of time, and at times, irony.  The final pieces of the puzzle are blended in drawing upon narratives and anecdotes from crew and cast of the film.

Beginning with Anurag Kashyap’s foreword, and ending with the screenplay of GOW Part I and II, the book is divided into seven chapters and has some on location pictures as well. The seven chapters are as follows –

  1. Three Streets and a Saga
  2. Between Fact and Fiction
  3. The Not-so Stars
  4. How Anurag shot his Movie
  5. There will be Blood
  6. Wrap up
  7. In First Person: Anurag Kashyap

(On location pic from the book)

WY0K1975

Excerpt from the book

– You can order the book from Flipkart (click here) which is giving 25% discount (Rs 299) or from Infibeam (click here) which is giving 27% (Rs 291) discount. The book is priced at Rs 399.

Fox Star Studios India has recently acquired the Hindi-language remake rights of Pawan Kumar’s Kannada film “Lucia”.  He is going to direct the Hindi version too. Vijay Shankar Murthy tells us why you should watch it and how it has become a landmark film down South.

Lucia

An inspired voice-over quotes legendary poet-musician Kanakadasa:

Nee Mayeyolago, Ninallu Maayavo

Nee Dehadolago, Ninallu Dehavo

Are you a creation of illusion or is  illusion a creation of you?

Are you inside a body or is the body inside of you?

A riveting sequence of opening credits later Pawan Kumar’s terrific psychological thriller “Lucia” opens its cards.

We learn there’s an investigation into a suspected murder attempt on Nikki aka Nikhil who is now on life support. A detective from Mumbai, Sanjay, is inserted into the investigation team much to the chagrin of the local cop. The cops and Sanjay dig deeper into Nikki’s life, stumbling upon a tale of substance abuse–involving a drug named “Lucia”.

Satish Neenasam as Nikki plays an unremarkable country bumpkin from small town Karnataka residing in a teeming metropolis that is Bangalore. He makes a modest living working as an usher (Torch Shiner) in his uncle’s old-style single screen theatre “tyaakies”. Nikki suffers from insomnia and on one fateful night comes into contact with a drug peddler who offers him a solution to his sleeping problems–the tablet “Lucia”. The peddler tells him not only will this tablet enable him to sleep well but also help him be whoever he wishes to be in his dreams.

Taking the plunge into Lucia, Nikki now ascends into his “dream” life. In this alternate reality Nikki is a hugely successful film superstar. Girls swoon over him. Directors and producers queue up to work with him. His manager is Uncle Shankaranna (same as the theater owner Uncle). Nikki’s demeanor suggests that despite the hordes around him, he is still a lonely man in search of something.  Enter model turned actress Shwetha (Sruthi Hariharan), who appears to be the cure-all. Still even in his dream he is plagued with problems and receives extortion threats.

In reality, mean time, Uncle Shankaranna is pressured by a local gangster to part with the Theatre  towards repaying his debt. Nikki realizes that one of the gangsters resembles a guy who shot him with rubber bullets in his dream. Nikki also meets Shwetha from his dreams in reality and begins a quest to win her heart.

Meanwhile in present day, we see the investigation appears to be gathering momentum as Private Detective Sanjay is convinced there is a connection between the attempt to murder Nikki and the drug “Lucia”.  Is it a drug-habit gone bad? Did Nikki stumble upon some secret plans of the drug peddler gang? Did he get lynched by the gang that threatened his uncle?

Writer-Director Pawan Kumar shifts between reality, alternate reality or dream life,  and the present day seamlessly with the lines blurring between what is real and not. The dream sequence is presented in black and white to differentiate itself. The love story between Nikki and Shwetha often acts as the theme that straddles reality and dream around which other events revolve. Kumar also peppers the narrative with other sub-plots intertwined with the goings-on.

An under-current of black humour through the film laments the state of the Kannada film industry. Superstar Nikki’s film is directed by a guy who speaks Tamil (likely that he is a Tamil industry reject) and a Rowdy-like Telugu speaking producer (Possibly not rich enough to produce Telugu movies and hence produces lower budget Kannada movies). An oily distributor tries to convince Uncle Shankaranna to screen Tamil and Telugu or even porn movies in his “Tyaakies” in order to make “Frofit” (Profit) as there are hardly any takers for Kannada movies.

In another sub-plot Shwetha tries to “refine” some of the bumpkinesque traits of Nikki, particularly his inability to speak English. She is particularly unimpressed by his pronunciation of “Theatre” (“Thetru”). This seems a reference to the divide between the English speaking “Cantonment”  Bangalore and the Kannada Speaking “old” Bangalore. The cooling glasses Superstar Nikki sports symbolize “coolth” which torch shining Nikki is not seen with.  It also seems a tool to hide the pain and the loneliness behind the glass veil .

When you look at the central theme of Lucia one can assume it is that of relationships, of love, of loss and the pain of losing love.  Looking at it from another perspective we can also proffer that it is the story of one man – Nikki. A third way of looking at it is that of a typical crime-thriller with a whodunit element.  What is particularly astonishing about Lucia is how seamlessly and organically it straddles these genres, stories and even copious quantities of philosophy but yet remains wonderfully accessible. It’s here where Lucia differentiates itself in a genre that is typically tricky. Above all, as Kumar announces at the beginning of the film—it’s a tribute to cinema—one that’s born out of love for the celluloid world.

All of the high-points of the film would have been rendered useless if it was not for the right people to have worked on this production. The actors playing the three central characters in the film—Nikki, Shwetha and Uncle Shankaranna are perfectly cast.  Satish Neenasam as Nikki does a sensational turn as the lead character. When the narrative juxtaposes reality and dream it chiefly aims to contrast the two Nikkis. In one scene Nikki is a blabbering country bumpkin while in the next he is a suave confident superstar who speaks little. Neenasam rightly plays the complex Nikki almost as if it were two different people. Whether it is getting the Mandya-dialect of Kannada right or the demeanor required of a reigning superstar, Neenasam is incredibly brilliant.  Special mention of how Neenasam’s looks are designed through the film.  It is as important as the performance itself.  This is the time of the Anti-Hero. With the emergence of the likes of Nawazuddin Siqqiqui, Vijay Setupathi etc Neenasam is a welcome addition to the club. It also proves what talent can do when provided the creative canvas. Sruthi Hariharan as Shwetha the model- filmstar/pizza-delivery girl is pitch perfect as well.  Though she doesn’t get the best of the lines she emotes superbly whether it is conveying the aura of the superstar or the pain of losing her love. Achyutha Kumar is effective and eminently likeable as Uncle Shankaranna.

Siddhartha Nuni’s cinematography wonderfully captures the director’s vision. Despite the number of scenes shot up close to the characters, the camera never feels intrusive or gimmicky. It aids us into the lives of its characters. The ecosystem of a typical Single Screen Theatre is captured  in vivid colors and with clinical precision by Nuni’s wavering lens. Poornachandra Tejaswi’s songs don’t always shine although in places it is memorable. The dry humour of the lyrics though is effective. Notice the “item” song that Nikki refuses to dance to but eventually does when the item girl, he realizes, is Shwetha. The background score sufficiently enhances the film.

Kannada movie moguls once upon a time in the distant past produced gems such as Minchina Ota, Manasa Sarovara, Bedara Kanappa, Ondanondu Kaaladalli etc. That was a golden period for Kannada cinema. It is however, highly unlikely that you will find a Kannada film in the recent past that succeeds like Lucia. The tacky 1989 thriller Idhu Saadhya (Meaning: This is possible) starring Anant Nag and Shankar Nag is perhaps a distant genre-cousin of Lucia in Kannada cinema. Additionally one cannot overlook some obvious similarities/references to Cameron Crowe’s Vanilla Sky, but the co-incidences end with the theme and maybe a doffed hat here and there.

In an industry that more often than not receives hand-me-downs of the Telugu and Tamil films and where banalities are magnified further in the remakes, Lucia comes as a true breath of fresh air. The 90s had Sunil Kumar Desai who often attempted to move away from convention with movies such as Beladingala Baale (Lady in the Moonlight) but did not completely succeed in creating a distinct voice. Also inspirational and unheard of in the South Indian film industry is the concept of crowd-funding. Investments here still remain in the purview of the parochial minded where commerce, ego, hero etc usually trump over most things creative. It is not surprising that despite the backing of senior folks like Yograj Bhat, Lucia did not find takers in the Kannada movie industry. How could they if it wasn’t a remake of a “successful” Telugu/Tamil movie? Also incredible is that this movie was made on a budget of Rs.70 Lakhs. Kumar deserves unadulterated credit for standing his ground, for having conviction in his story, but most importantly— ultimately succeeding in delivering what he promised.

Eleanor Roosevelt once said “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams”. It neatly sums up the film and the filmmaker’s journey.

All those who have loved Kannada movies of the 70s and 80s, watch Lucia RIGHT NOW. You will be proud of Kannada cinema again.  And yes, those who love cinema in general – two reasons for you to watch a Kannada movie a) It’s brilliantly subtitled (smart move by Kumar to broaden the audience base) and b) It’s a terrific movie.

(About the author – To pay his bills, Vijay Shankar Murthy works with what John Perkins calls “Evil Big Business”. In an alternate world, he would like that his bills are paid for, and all day he could watch Gangster flicks over and over again. In the middle of all this, he also aspires to be a writer some day.)

 

film bazaar2

– Early buzz on Kanu Behl’s Titli : Titli is the most stunning, daring, solid Indian film i have seen this year. Nothing like Indian cinema has seen ever…not a single wrong frame. Too depressing and suffocating at times…but man, this MUST go international. Animal kingdom ka baap hai! And all actors just at their career best roles. (via a friend who saw it). Titli is produced by Dibakar Banerjee and Aditya Chopra. To know more about the film, click here.

– Kanu Behl’s Titli also won the DI Award for the Best Work-in-Progress Lab Project. The DI Award sponsors the completion of the Digital Intermediate process at Prasad Labs.

– New York-based BGP Film has picked up the North American rights of Gyan Correa’s film The Good Road.

– Abhay Deol will star in the UK-set thriller, Bounty Hunter, to be directed by brothers Sunandan and Yugesh Walia. They will also co-produce the film rough their UK-based production company Endboard Productions.

– Q to make English-language debut with Brahman Naman, to be produced by Steve Barron’s UK-based Riley Productions.  Set in Bangalore in the 1980s, the film is a comedy about a 17-year-old who tops his class but also has whisky addiction, filthy mouth and a porn collection. Q’s Kolkata-based production company Overdose Joint will co-produce.

– France’s ASAP Films to produce Rajesh Jala’s The Spark (Chingari). It was selected for NFDC Screenwriters’ Lab and Co-production Market. The script also won the Incredible India award at Film Bazaar. The Award comes with a cash price of Rs. 1 mn for the best project in the Co-Production Market and is presented by the Ministry of Tourism.

– Ashim Ahluwalia’s film Miss Lovely is set to release in India in January 2014. This will be done through the start-up theatrical distributor Easel Films and Eagle Movies.

– Guneet Monga’s Sikhya Entertainment has announced two new films – Amit Kumar’s Give Me Blood and Vasan Bala’s Side Hero.

– Nikhil Mahajan (of Pune 52) has announced his new film Dainik which will star Rajkummar Rao (Yes, RajKumar Yadav is now Rao). DAR Motion Pictures, IME Motion Pictures and Nikhil Mahajan’s Blue Drop Films will co-produce Marathi action adventure Baji, starring Shreyas Talpade.

– Varun Grover’s film Maa Bhagwatiya IIT Coaching will be produced by Nikhil Mahajan. The script was selected for Screenwriters Lab.

– DAR Motion Pictures, IME Motion Pictures will co-produce Nikhil Mahajan’s Marathi Superhero film Baji starring Shreyas Talpade.

– After Qissa, filmmaker Anup Singh is working on adapting UK author Paul Pickering’s novel Over The Rainbow. The film will be produced by Switzerland-based Saskia Vischer Productions.

– Channel 4 has picked up four titles – The Good Road, Sulemani Keeda, Fandry and B.A. Pass.

(Via various News sources)

omdbrdvdcover

Kamal Swaroop’s Om-Dar-Ba-Dar can be called a cult film in its truest sense. And that too underground one. Because most people have heard about it but have not seen it. Finally, here’s the good news. The film has been digitally restored and PVR Directors Rare is going to release it on 17th January, 2014. So all of you who have so far only heard about it, here’s the chance to watch it on big screen. The film stars Anita Kanwar, Aditya Lakhia, Lalit Tiwari, and Gopi Desai.

The restored print was screened recently at Rome Film Festival. An avant-garde work, this is much more than a film. It’s like an installation collage art which uses various elements – from history to mythology, and politics to philosophy, to create a fascinating new world on screen. And he made brass band cool much before Anurag re-discovered it in Dev D.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences today announced that 10 live action short films will advance in the voting process for the 86th Academy Awards. 120 films  had qualified in the category.

And Shubhashish Bhutiani’s short film Kush is in the shortlist.

The film features Sonika Chopra, Shayaan Sameer and Anil Sharma in the lead. The film had also won the Orizzonti Award For The Best Short film at Venice Fest.
Kush

Synopsis
Inspired by a true story, Kush takes place in 1984, surrounding Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s assassination. Anti-Sikh riots erupt throughout the country. A teacher traveling back from a field trip with her class of 10-year-old students now struggles to protect Kush, the only Sikh student in the class, from the growing violence around him.

Trailer

– Film’s FB page is here.

– To know more about the filmmaker and its making, you can read the director’s interview here.

– The Short Films and Feature Animation Branch Reviewing Committee viewed all the eligible entries for the preliminary round of voting.  Now the Short Films and Feature Animation Branch members will select 3-5 nominees from among the 10 titles on the shortlist.

– The 86th Academy Awards nominations will be announced on Thursday, January 16, 2014.

– Here’s the complete list of Top 10 shortlisted film (in alphabetical order)

– “Aquel No Era Yo (That Wasn’t Me),” Esteban Crespo, director (Producciones Africanauan)

– “Avant Que De Tout Perdre (Just before Losing Everything),” Xavier Legrand, director, and Alexandre Gavras, producer (KG Productions)

– “Dva (Two),” Mickey Nedimovic, director, and Henner Besuch, director of photography (Filoufilm Dani Barsch)

– “Helium,” Anders Walter, director, and Kim Magnusson, producer (M & M Productions)

– “Kush,” Shubhashish Bhutiani, director (Red Carpet Moving Pictures)

– “Pitääkö Mun Kaikki Hoitaa? (Do I Have to Take Care of Everything?),” Selma Vilhunen, director, and Kirsikka Saari, screenwriter (Tuffi Films)

– “Record/Play,” Jesse Atlas, director, and Thom Fennessey, executive producer (Collaboration Factory)

– “Throat Song,” Miranda de Pencier, director (Northwood Productions)

– “Tiger Boy,” Gabriele Mainetti, director (Goon Films)

– “The Voorman Problem,” Mark Gill, director, and Baldwin Li, producer (Honlodge Productions)

ramleela

The early reactions from previews of Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s new film, Ram-Leela, clearly seems to be divisive. For any new film, i always find that exciting.  Now that i have seen the film, it’s easy to understand why. You might like it, fall in love with it too, and it’s entirely possible that you felt like gouging out your eyeballs. And every reaction can be justified. But one thing you can’t do – dismiss it completely. Because there’s just too much packed into this one – you can just pick one thing and easily indulge in it like its director.

I feel this is Bhansali’s coming out film. Coming out as a loud Gujrati masala filmmaker. Few weeks back, he even confessed that he is a “loud Gujarati” at heart. Well, that fits in perfectly with the film’s promotions too. But one can’t fake it so much. And when one fakes it, one delivers films like his last three – dead, plagiarised and bloated Guzaarish, boring and claustrophobic Saawariya, pretentious and ham-fest Black. It’s always good to be back to own’s roots. With apologies to Swades, apne hi Gujju colours me ghul jaana Bhansali ka muqaddar hota hai.

Though Khamoshi still remains his best work – the raw emotional chord strikes the perfect balance with a great soundtrack. He made his mark with his blockbuster Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam set in his home terrain. He used a similar canvas to re-paint Devdas. And now, he is back to his home turf again and has gone the whole hog. The language is not sanitised Hindi of HDDCS. Here everyone speaks in thick Gujju accent and sometimes it’s difficult to follow the dialogues. His keywords have remained the same – big and beautiful – every scene, every frame, every drape. There’s some typical Bhansali wizardry in the silent scenes – my favourite is the one when the lovers meet for the first time in the background of bright colourful gulal flying all over, and interestingly, the last time they meet, it’s in similar pose. Aha, beauty.

He has just added a new one – passion raunchiness. There was never so much lust and physical act in any of his films and it’s a refreshing change. From hyper-objectifying the hero’s body to dialogues filled with sexual innuendos, pelvic and booby thrust to passionate kisses between the lead pair. It’s all done with certain degree of aesthetics that one can expect in a SLB film, but it’s all a new colour on his old canvas. It’s fun to see that a filmmaker who has always wanted to be taken seriously and strictly positioned himself in a certain way, is going on this route. And with all his indulgences.

Like his most films, it’s also set in some strange Bhansali-land. And i have made peace with the fact now. But this time we see mobile phones, porn films, gun business, ports, and characters talk about social media too. The times they are a-changin’, in Bhansalipur too.

I also felt this film bring backs the bonafide bollywood masala genre. With every filmmaker trying a Southie remake and calling it the “masala” film, all my senses have retired hurt. Race2, Once Upon A Time In Mumbai Dobara, Besharam, Himmatwala..the list is long. Some of the films don’t even have a single scene which is well written and directed. I will better pick Ram-Leela – action hai, emotion hai, drama hai, gaane hai, ma hai, bhai hai, behen hai, suhaag raat hai, khoon kharaba hai, holi hai, diwali hai, aur (attempt to) rape bhi hai.

The two jarring aspects of the film are its duration and the screenplay. The basic story is adapted from Romeo-Juliet with elements of Ram(ayan), but the screenplay became too much of hotchpotch in the second half. The first half flows smoothly with Siddharth-Garima’s playful dialogues, and Ravi Varman’s lush photography capturing every grand set, authentic props and flashy colours meticulously used by production designer Wasiq Khan. They are in perfect sync. Add to that the combustible lead pair of Ranveer Singh and Deepika Padukone. Were they in love when they started shooting? Or Bhansal egged them on to get the best result on screen? Because it’s difficult to be so comfortable and uninhibited in intimate scenes, especially on Indian screen. And those long, passionate kisses just added to the magic. When was the last time we saw something so real in our films? Like that scene where they kept kissing each other in quick succession, that’s new on desi screen. So candid, so much at ease, and really that’s how lovers kiss. Also, has she been lit from inside? With Gulshan Devaiah, Richa Chadda,  Abhimanyu Singh and Supriya Pathak strongly supporting the second rank of characters, Sharad Kelkar and Barkha Bishit get noticed even in small roles.

And Dear Deepika, whatever are you smoking, please pass the joint to the bimbos of bollywood. It feels so good to know that finally we have an actress who can act and look hawt, is on top too. *sings ये लाल इश्क़, ये मलाल इश्क़, मेरा नाम इश्क़, तेरा नाम इश्क़, मेरा नाम तेरा नाम*.

Just another small complain – my favourite and that bhakti-bhaav-se-bharpoor composition yeh laal ishq just doesn’t get enough screen time. Even though the film felt long, i waited for the entire end credits just for the song.

@cilemasnob

(PS – If you are still googling to know who or what is Lady Popo, the one who is mentioned in the opening credits of the film, well, let me inform that Lady Popo is SLB’s pet doggy. Ooh la la! Which other filmmaker has given so much credit to his Doggy? Jejus, Agle Janam Mujhe Doggy Hi Kijeo)

poster2Festival: 18th International Children’s Film Festival India popularly known as The Golden Elephant.

Place: Hyderabad

Dates: November 14th to November 20th, 2013.

Opening and Closing venue: Lalitha Kala Thoranam

Opening Film: CFSI’s musical animation, Goopi Gawaiyya Bagha Bajaiyya.

Closing Film: Winner of Golden Elephant Trophy at 18th ICFFI.

Chief Guests at the opening ceremony: Ranbir Kapoor and Gulzar

Highlights:

– Total number of 894 films were received from 75 countries.

– 200 films from 45 countries are being screened at the 18th ICFFI.

– DCP format for screenings introduced for the first time.

– Film entrees were received online for the first time.

– ‘International Animation Feature’ introduced this year in the competition category.

– For the first time ICFFI films were sourced from Cannes Film Market, allowing ICFFI to pick a selection of the latest children’s films, awaiting their World/ Asian Premiers.

– For the first time ICFFI has received 26 films from South America, a region barely represented in the previous editions.

– For the first time ICFFI has received a formidable quantity of animation films from across the globe: 285 animation films.

– No. of entries for Little Directors Section (films made by children from India and around the world): 123.

Four Competitive Sections:

1) Competition International Live Action (15 features)

2) International Animation Competition (10 features) *

3) Competition Shorts (15 shorts)

4) Competition Little Directors (12 shorts)

* Competition Animation has been introduced for the first time keeping in mind the large no. of excellent animation features received by the festival.

Three Non-competitive Sections:

1) Children’s World (121 films approx.) will present award winning international and national films from the last decade.

2) In Focus: Czech Republic (12 films) will present the best of Czech Children’s Films, including live action and animated features and shorts. This section is made possible by collaborating with Zlin Film Festival, the oldest children’s film festival in the world.

3) Celebrating 100 years of cinema.

Awards:

First Prize: A Golden Elephant trophy plus cash prize of 2 lakh,

Second prize: A Golden Elephant plaque second prize 1 lakh

Top 15 Films at ICFFI:

1. A Horse on the Balcony (Live Action Feature, Austria)

2. Mother I love You (Live Action Feature, Latvia)

3. Kauwboy (Live action Feature, Netherlands)

4. Alfie the Little Werewolf (Live Action Feature, Netherlands)

5. Taina – an Amazon Legend (Live Action Feature, Brazil)

6. Zarafa (Animation Feature, Belgium-France)

7. Moon Man (Animation Feature, France)

8. Rodencia – The Princesse’s tooth (Animation Feature, Argentina-Peru)

9. Goopi Gawaiyya Bagha Bajaiyya (Animation Feature, India)

10. Toys in the Attic (Animation Feature, Czech Republic)

11. The Girl from Gori (Live Action Short, Georgia-Germany)

12. Under The Pillow (Animation Short, Spain)

13. My shoes (Live Action Short, Tunisia)

14. Buzkashi Boys (Live Action Short, Afghanistan)

15. The Centipede and the Toad (Animation short, France)

Registrations: Registrations will be held at FDC. There will be no online registrations.

Screenings: 3 screens at IMAX Prasad Multiplex, one screen each at Ranga, Eswar, High Tech, Sri Ramulu, Shivani, Sudha, Raghvendra, Lalitha  kala Thoranam, Public Garden, Indira Priya Darshini audi, Telugu University Audi Auditorium, Hall in Victoria Memorial Home.

Venue: Main Venue: IMAX Prasad.

Venue for November 15, 2013 to November 19, 2013:

  1. IMAX Prasad, Necklace Rd.
    Screen 1, 2 & 4(3D screen)
  2. Ranga, Jeedimetla
  3. Eswar, Attapur
  4. Sivaparvathy, Kukatpally
  5. High Tech, Madhapur
  6. Shivani, Dilsukhnagar
  7. Sudha, Shalibanda
  8. Raghavendra, Malkajgiri
  9. Indira Priyadarshani Auditorium, Public Garden
  10. Prashant, Secundarabad