Posts Tagged ‘Nawazuddin Siddiqui’


(Photo by Aditya Varma. You’ll want to keep an eye on this talented fella.)

After touring film festivals the world over, Nandita Das’ eponymous film on Saadat Hasan Manto releases in theatres today. While we are excited to watch it, and hear from others about how they like it, here’s something from someone who has worked on the film.

Anubhav Dasgupta had posted this on his Facebook page initially, and we thought it’d be a fit here at MFC. Anubhav has worked on Manto’s post-production.

Over to Anubhav:

In the summer of 2017, I was doing nothing. I’d practically severed ties with everyone I knew and I wasn’t close enough with my Whistling Woods friends to really hang out with them. Consumed by ennui and the buzzing background noise of clinical depression, I barely acted or reacted to anything that was happening around me. The fact that I had topped my batch earlier in the year did nothing to stir my spirits. I was just pretty fucking down, man, and I recognised that as a problem. I got an email about a senior student asking for an additional editor and one of my professors had recommended me, impressed as he was by my work throughout the first quarter of the editing course. Having little else to do, I jumped on it.

Shashwat Gandhi and Yugshrestha Karpatne had adapted Saadat Hasan Manto’s sweet and quietly devastating tale of child prostitution, Dus Rupay, as Five Hundred Rupees for their final year diploma film. Their original editor had begun working with Subhash Ghai but their lovely film remained unfinished so I stepped in to help them complete it. I didn’t think much of Manto back then. I was exposed to his work by a few adaptations fellow colleagues had done and I was quite turned off by the use of schlock and horror. Male perspectives presented his stories as nothing but lust and violence and relied less on the depth and empathy Manto brought to his characters than the violent twists and lurid storytelling. Having avoided Manto because of these misrepresentations, Manto’s stories remained unread. I thought that Five Hundred Rupees would be the end of my sojourn with Manto but I was wrong. I don’t know what forces were in play, but Manto found his way into my life once again.

The work I did on Five Hundred Rupees would lead me to a chance meeting and that chance meeting would lead to a WhatsApp message asking whether I would like to assist on a feature film. It was being directed by a reputed woman filmmaker and starred one of my favourite actors, so I replied, “Yeah sure, why not?” and didn’t hear back from them.

A few weeks later, I was at a crosswords store, browsing their Indian fiction section, shifting aside the usual Durjoy Dutta and Chetan Bhagat schlock to find a copy of Vikram Seth’s A Suitable Boy. I took it in my hands, leafed through it and balked at the price point. As I carefully slid it back into its spot, I noticed a book with an orange cover right next to it. I pulled it out, Bitter Fruit — A Collection of Short Stories by Saadat Hasan Manto, and just looked at it for a bit. At that same instant, my phone rang and someone asked me if I could make it to Bandra in a few hours. School was out, so I answered in the affirmative. Then I had lunch and set off to Bandra on a Sunday. And that’s how my Manto journey began.

I joined in as an edit intern, late in the film’s post-production stage. It was pretty much complete but Nandita Das wanted to cut it down a little more and needed someone who could carry out the necessary exports as the film neared completion. Manto had a small in-house team — initially just me and her assistant Riya — and I found myself taking up more responsibility than I’d anticipated. And through the film Manto, Manto the man and the writer was revealed to me. The film peeled away the layers of grime and violence and revealed the true core of Manto’s stories: empathy, even for the cruellest and the worst, and a terrible sadness at the things that men do. His works and writings became a prism through which I processed my own feelings about the state of the world, the division and the cruelty that men have succumbed to, the blatant permission to commit cruelty that the current rulers seem to have signed off on. The film, too, is in part Nandita’s response to our times. I’ve seen it nearly a hundred times now as a result of my work and each viewing reveals a new detail, a new perspective, evident of the fact that the film was made with a lot of love and passion. Some days I’m moved by it, some days I’m ambivalent. I’ve been moved to tears by it just the one time, but maybe the first time will do it for you. It’s a good film with great scenes, two of which remain my favourite scenes from any film this year.

In some way, because of the coincidences, and especially of Manto leading me to Manto, I believe I was meant to work on this, for my own selfish self-improvement if nothing else. I’ve come in contact with some of the most talented and eminent people in the course of this journey, Sneha Khanwalker, Avani Rai, Tahir Bhasin, Resul Pookutty, Nawazuddin, Rasika Dugal, Kartik Vijay, Manto’s daughters Nuzhat and Nusrat, Nasreen Munni Kabir, Ashok Kumar’s daughter Bharti, Cameron Bailey, just to name a few. This has been one of the more fulfilling experiences of my life so far and I think I’m not the only person who has been changed by working on Manto. It was a special experience for everyone involved.

In becoming an inextricable part of my life Saadat Hasan Manto has achieved his ultimate revenge on me, someone who was militantly ignorant of his works, who went out of his way to avoid Manto. I cannot escape him now, and I’m glad to join the ranks as a Manto fan.

All I’ll say is, I’m proud to have worked on this film, to have worked on a film that I quite like, featuring some of my favourite actors, Neeraj Kabi, Rajshree Deshpande, Nawazuddin, and more, and a film that couldn’t be any more relevant, when the people in power have decided that they do not like what we say and want to rule through paranoia and phantom enemies. Please watch it tomorrow, I can’t assure you that you’ll like it, but I’m sure you will feel the passion and love that has gone into every frame of the film. I would like to thank everyone who was instrumental in making this happen, the people I know, the people I don’t and the people who I have come to know through this film.

Here’s to many more.

Please watch Manto. Out in theaters in this Friday. It’s been made with a lot of love, reverence and passion.

Anubhav Dasgupta

The 2nd edition of Singapore South Asian International Film Festival 2018 (Sg.SAIFF) will open with actor-director Nandita Das’ Manto which stars Nawazuddin Siddiqui in the titular role as Sadat Hassan Manto and follows the most tumultuous years and times in the life of the famed writer and of the two countries he inhabits — India and Pakistan.

The 2nd edition of the festival held from 5th to 14th October 2018 in Singapore will commence with an opening ceremony on 5th October at Carnival Cinema and close on 13th October at Resorts World Sentosa will also include the awards ceremony.

The film was chosen for the prestigious Un Certain Regard section at Cannes 2018 and features an impressive ensemble of actors including Rasika Duggal, Rajshri Deshpande, Rishi Kapoor and Paresh Rawal. The screening at SGSAIFF 2018 marks the film’s South East Asian premiere and will be attended by Nandita Das.

Das who will be presenting the film at the festival says, “We are delighted to screen Manto as the opening film at SGSAIFF. Manto was very much a South Asian writer. But unlike the Europeans, we South Asians do not own this identity, despite many cultural and social similarities amongst the countries in the region. Therefore, it is important to support such festivals that celebrate cinema from the Subcontinent. Last year, SGSAIFF screened a film I acted in, Albert Pinto Ko Gussa Kyun Aata Hai as the opening film, which is yet to be released. I was unfortunately unable to make it. So, I very much look forward to attending it this year.”

Abhayanand Singh, Chairperson of SGSAIFF, whose association with Nandita Das started with Albert Pinto Ko Gussa Kyun Aata Hai, the film co-produced by his production company, Muvizz says, “It’s a great honour to open the 2nd edition of SGSAIFF with one of the most important Indian films of this year, MANTO. We are happy that Nandita Das accepted our invitation to come and present the film at the festival.”

The SGSAIFF 2018 lineup which will be announced shortly includes an interesting mix of features, documentaries and shorts which includes titles from India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Nepal and Afghanistan.

About The South Asian Singapore Film Festival

Singapore South Asian International Film Festival (Sg.SAIFF) is devoted to a greater appreciation of South Asian cinema and culture. The festival seeks to support emerging filmmakers, open a fertile space for dialogue and collaborations within the industry, and most significantly share with the audience of Singapore the diverse and complex experiences of South Asia through the intimate storytelling medium of cinema.

With the impetus to effectively channel the expansion of South Asian cinema beyond the subcontinent and engage with a wider spectrum of audience. Singapore with its sizable population of South Asian descent, is a natural choice for this purpose. Supported by the Singapore Indian High Commission(IHC), the festival is a landmark initiative to serve as a cultural gateway between the global city of Singapore and the developing nations of South Asia.

Singapore, being the gateway of Asia, only enhances the potential of the festival to emerge as the melting pot of diverse cultures using cinema as a medium.

The first look of Anurag Kashyap’s new film, Raman Raghav 2.0, is out. The film stars Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Vicky Kaushal and Sobhita Dhulipala in the lead.

The film will have its world premiere at the Cannes Directors’ Fortnight.

Do check out the poster and the stills.

(click on any image to enlarge and start slide show)

sniffer-002

Two new teasers of Buddhadeb Dasgupta’s new film Anwar Ka Ajab Kissa (Sniffer) has released online. Both the teasers don’t say much about the film but there’s a great mood there. The film stars Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Pankaj Tripathi, Niharika Singh and Ananya Chatterjee. Have a look.

Official synopsis

Master Bengali filmmaker Buddhadeb Dasgupta teams up with India’s hottest indie actor Nawazuddin Siddiqui in this richly textured black comedy, set against a magical, surreal tableaux of the Bengali city and countryside that’s typical of Dasgupta’s eye. Anwar (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) is a well meaning if clumsy private detective, or ‘sniffer’, who can’t help getting personally embroiled with the clients he is spying on. His only true companion is an old dog. His pet and his regular drunkenness put him at odds with the local orthodox Muslim housing block, who want him out. At the same time, Anwar increasingly struggles to cope with his small-time sleuth work that shows him that, in the modern world, even love is for sale. When a case takes Anwar back to his rural homeland, he’s forced to confront his own love tragedy. Siddiqui lights up the screen, displaying a talent for deft comic timing that makes Sniffer a joy to watch.

Duration :132 mins

The film premiered at London Film Festival last year and will be shown at New York Indian Film Festival this year.

Aseem Chandaver, or Baba Jogeshwari or Gina Kholkar on Twitter or Neelouli on youtube, or by whatever name you might know him, he is hands down the baap of all B-C Grade movie buffs that we know of. Working in Mumbai as a copywriter, the man is responsible for sifting through tons and tons of campy movies, selecting clips, uploading and sharing them in his spare time, purely for the joy and love of B-C Grade cinema. We thought it would be fitting to post what he thought of Miss Lovely and requested him for a review. So here it goes, Aseem on Ashim’s film –

Miss Lovely1

Since the global connection of interconnected computer networks is presently imploding with acute interest, unanticipated awe and limitless curiosity for the once shadowy genre of B, C & D-grade films, I thought since the past one and a half years that director Ashim Ahluwalia’s film Miss Lovely will uphold a sense of equilibrium by retaining the novelty, cleansing the category of all its amassed gloss and prolonging fandom through unseen and unheard tales of cinematic obscurity.

Well, I was wrong. Miss Lovely is definitely a new brand and flavor of soda pop, but without any strong hallmark fizz. An incredibly well-researched and chronicled film that leans on its experiential past without ever paying attention to the evidently weak screenplay and character extinguishes. A stalwart and his coerced unenthusiastic brother who falls in love with the struggling actress, asphyxiated in a subterranean world is not only captivating, but a ticking calm bomb set to explode when you least expect it. Instead of a pensive postmortem or even seeing the world through seedy filmmaking eyes, it does a staccato job of introducing you to half-baked and sometimes clichéd characters with anticlimax dialogues that literally deflate moments of visual narrative and accomplished story.

The film starts with a brilliant spook sequence, which even incorporates cleverly reconstructed POV shots from Director Baby’s B-Grade magnum opus House No. 13, a slight Desi rendition of the movie ‘The Poltergeist’. Ahluwalia’s profound knowledge of what the audience wanted and what psychoactive levels the filmmakers went to entertain those fantasies can be unmistakably seen here.

House No. 13 scene. Watch from 1:00:55 –

In the House No. 13 intro scene, just as the audience gets bored with the ghost being charred to flesh and dust, Ahluwalia reveals years old secret that made some of these films a runaway success. As the House No. 13 reel ends, there begins a Double X rated film which were in the 80s and intermittently in the 90s cut pasted all throughout the film. These double X films were either shot separately with a completely different cast or with the film’s cast continuing a lovemaking scene in the same film but with topless or semi-naked shots. Some insider moments like these keep springing in the first half of the film; two of the most memorable ones being the scenes from Wohin Bhayaanak Raat and a motleyed recreation of Khooni Panja & Hatyarin, where Ahluwalia unveils yet another fascinating tale of fetish based cinematic excellence – Spectrophilia/Necrophilia.

Wohin Bhayanak Raat – From 3.27 –

I think Ashim has been a lot around the sets of B-Auteur Vinod Talwar – The Dulhan Scene particularly motif from these two movies –

Khooni Panja – From 1:02:28

Hatyarin – From 11:23

In one scene, a newlywed bride is being ravished by a monstrous aberration in a sexually charged hypnotic trance which is depicted by Ahluwalia with a hysterical and precise recreation of the shooting style of Camp filmmakers; while in the other we have Kiran Kumar’s deep-fried chicken pakora avatar who ferociously sucks the blood out of female victims is superbly incorporated in the film as if it is made by the film’s lead pair The Duggal Bros (assuming it is made to sound like The Dhillon Bros, a famous B-movie duo).

There are several triumphs like these where the Director outshines and puts a wide smile on enthusiasts and novices alike. The entire movie is laced with a ‘Green Room-esque’ motif, and when you combine the moody direction with ace cinematographer Mohanan’s virtuosity, you are inadvertently left with a princely smack of Cuticura, the mentally depressing lights of the backstage and the impending doom of a wrathful breakdown from the funding Underworld Dons and unpredictably sinister Distributors. The music of the film is absolutely mind-blowing. Instead of lackadaisical 80s guitars and off-tune keyboard sonatas by less known music directors, the music has been perceptively compiled containing the best of post-disco pop such as Nazia Hassan & Biddu and even contains psychedelic compositions by Maestro Ilaiyaraja and Italian exploitation composers Egisto Macchi and Piero Umiliani of Manha Manha fame.

Dum Dum Dede – Miss Lovely Official Song

The musketeers of Miss Lovely are its stylized treatment, costumes, production design and lastly, Da Man Nawazuddin Siddiqui, an actor who rises like a phoenix from a deadpan screenplay and heightens his character even when he stands still, traumatized and sickeningly numb after a prison term, watching his heartless brother’s wife beseeching him not to enter her newly started life. An unforgettable scene where Nawazuddin lifelessly stands still and simply gives a smile, flummoxed at the heartlessness of the world. What masquerades as a dense narrative is actually an intensive lack of scenario. The story is about a forlorn and discontented bloke Sonu (Nawaz) who joins his slightly established B-movie filmmaker Vicky (Anil George) in the Camp movie-making business. After initial shocks and frustrations, he meets Pinky (Niharika Singh), an innocent struggler who hails from a strict family. Sonu pretends to be a filmmaker who promises her a lead role in his upcoming film titled Miss Lovely. After a brutal clash from the underworld and sundry financiers, Vicky lures Sonu into a last resort plan that forever exiles him to oblivion.

Even with the leading characters’ galling complexities, insecurities and their escapades, the film battles between two worlds whether to tell the story of the B, C & D-Grade World through the eccentric mentation of Vicky and Sonu or try to salvage the maladroit storyline impediments of all three characters, leading to an inevitable Bhandarkar-esque situation. And yet the movie is sandwiched by some of the most painstakingly showcased cultural phenomena and developments of the late 80s and early 90s.

With all its narrative faults, Miss Lovely proved to be a commendable watch due to its spectacularly rich recreation of the first ever D-Grade Era, its uncompromisingly Pulp and Psychedelic 80s settings, the Behind-The-Scenes of extremely paltry budget films, dark humor of its characters and of course for the glory for Camp/Cult fanaticism.

P.S – I’m extremely angry as someone flagged my Qatil Chudail video as inappropriate and pulled it out from youtube.

(Editorial Team note – You can check out Aseem’s videos collection here, here and here. And click here for our 2012 rewind post in which we’d written about Miss Lovely)

Ashim Ahluwalia’s film Miss Lovely premiered at Cannes Film Festival in 2012 and has been doing the fest rounds since then. Finally, it’s all set to release this friday.

The official synopsis describes the film as follows – Set in the lower depths of Bombay’s “C” grade film industry, MISS LOVELY follows the devastating story of two brothers who produce sex horror films in the mid-1980s. Some of us saw the film at Mumbai Film Festival and loved it. A great atmospheric film which makes you feel claustrophobic and displays great filmmaking craft which is so rare in Indian cinema.

In this post, Ashim takes us behind the scenes of the film and tells the story of making of the film through these 8 images. Do click on any of the pic to start the slide show and do watch the images in full size because even these stills capture the mood of the film so well.

PIC 1 – Nawaz (top left)

I was very lucky to cast Nawaz in his first leading role – he had struggled for ages and nobody would give him a lead, only character parts. I didn’t know who he was, but when he did the screen test he appeared so broken by the industry, so frustrated, with a lot of pent up anger, I was amazed. I realized that he was, in real life, just like my character Sonu Duggal – who is also very unfulfilled, working like a donkey for his dominating elder brother.

PIC 2 –  DoP, Horror film set (top right)

My DoP is Mohanan. He shot my first film, John & Jane. We are like brothers separated at birth. He gets me – we discuss stock, processing, colour temperature, texture, framing  – and we are almost always on the same page. Miss Lovely is in some ways about the end of celluloid, the end of cinema as we know it – so I didn’t want to shoot digital – it needed to be on film. I wanted Miss Lovely to look like it was shot on the (now unavailable) Indu stock of the 1980s. F**ked up, warm, grainy, with a very particular desi look. He thought I would ruin his career with all the Ramsay Brothers gels that we were using, but I think that he now feels very proud, like this is one of the more beautiful films he has shot.

PIC 3 – Cat fight. Crowd (2nd from top right)

We don’t have enough cat fights in our films anymore and I kind of miss that. This is a scene where two actresses – Poonam and Nadia – get rough with each other. Poonam is from a previous generation, she’s had her time, and Nadia is young and all set to replace her. Nadia is wearing an outfit straight out of a silk smitha film. Unfortunately, they actually started fighting and it got out of hand. Nawaz tried to separate them and got slammed into the mattebox of the camera. He was bleeding – it was stressful to shoot this scene.

PIC 4 – Movie on screen

Everything was shot on location. We were trying to recreate a Bombay of the mid-1980s that is also the Bombay of mid-1980s cinema. You will get it if you’re from a certain kind of background. I wanted quintessential Hindi cinema—the villains by the pool, the cabaret. Miss Lovely is an architectural film—it’s my kind of Bombay film, in a way.

It’s virtually impossible to recreate 1980s Bombay since there’s almost nothing left. Forty per cent of our locations have been knocked down.

The times were flash but also faded. We spent a lot of time dipping costumes into tea and deteriorating them. I wouldn’t let anybody take a shower or wash off make-up. I wanted things to look lived in.

 PIC – 5, 6, 7 (Nawaz on bed, Anil George with crowd, Legs on top)

Shooting a fake porn scene at the Darukhana ship breaking yard was not easy. We didn’t have permission and while we were shooting the police raid where Sonu gets arrested, all the dock workers showed up to watch the shoot. They saw cops (who were actors in costume) chasing a woman covered only in a bedsheet and a guy in his underwear and thought that there was something serious going on. They thought we were TV crews covering the real event. I decided to include the actual crowd in the scene without them realizing it – it was total madness, an almost riot-like situation, but I am most happy with this scene.

PIC – 8 (Niharika on the sets)

Both Nawaz and Niharika were frustrated with the industry when I met them. I didn’t know either – I just screen tested them. Niharika had shot two Himesh Reshimmiya films that had been shelved. She was fed up waiting to be a heroine and was ready for something new. Her character Pinky is a struggling actor, who is also very exhausted trying to make it – so like Nawaz her real life overlapped a lot with her character in the film.

 – To know more about the film, cast and crew, click here.

Ashim Ahluwalia’s film Miss Lovely is finally all set to release on 17th January, 2014. For its domestic run, the makers have released a new trailer of the film.

The film premiered at Cannes Film Festival in the Un Certain regard section and it stars Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Niharika Singh and Anil George.

Official Synopis

Set in the lower depths of Bombay’s “C” grade film industry, MISS LOVELY follows the devastating story of two brothers who produce sex horror films in the mid-1980s.

A sordid tale of betrayal and doomed love, the film dives into the lower depths of the Bollywood underground, an audacious cinema with baroque cinemascope compositions, lurid art direction, wild background soundtracks, and gut-wrenching melodrama.

To know more about the cast and crew, check out this embedded pdf file to read their profile.