Posts Tagged ‘Shonali Bose’

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SPOILER  ALERT

If you are into cocktails, you know Margarita is hardly ever served with a straw, but who is to say you can’t have it with a straw? Who sets these standards of normality? What is normality? When life throws a lemon out at you, make lemonade? That might be the “normal adage” but don’t doubt that you might as well slice wedges of that lemon to spunk up your cocktail – have it with a straw, if you may. The magic, after all, is in the concoction – not the goblet, glass or straw.

I don’t think the highlight of “Margarita With A Straw” is that it is the story of a patient of cerebral palsy. Neither is it her unusual journey of discovering her sexuality.. I think the biggest achievement is how “normal” the story is.

Sex and handicap have so far both been terribly misunderstood and/or misrepresented in our movies (and perhaps our society). Let’s recall what Bollywood has us believe mostly:

  • Handicap in bollywood – a good human being, who is tragically handicapped and the big bad word is mean to this person for no fault of his/her. Poor he/she lives a life of suffering and sympathy is the least you can give him/her.
  • Sexuality in bollywood – (usually means homosexuality) and is the butt of all jokes (pun intended). So a gay angle in mainstream Bollywood is usually intended to provide comic relief (?) and almost always is physical comedy – to evoke laughter over dressing or mannerism. At best, it titillates homophobia (remember kantaben!).

“Margarita with a straw” is a slap-on-your-face impolite departure from both these stereotypes. It is in the end a story of a girl with her unique flaws (and I don’t mean her physical flaws), and how she handles her life on her terms. Yes, her disability is a factor, but who in this world is perfect. And then again, who is perfectly happy. Aren’t we all but a group of mutually exclusive and collectively exhaustive list of flaws?

But then who are we to call anything a flaw. Perhaps there are no flaws, simply facts – which we all accept and get on with life. So what would a mother do, if she found her child was challenged physically? Brood? Perhaps momentarily. But, Brood forever? Nope. She will take it in her stride and do what she must to make sure the child does not feel the pinch.

So welcome to Laila’s (essayed remarkably by Kalki) life – different, but raised normal –  A girl whose dreams do not show any signs of the struggle that her mortar skills do. A musician, composer and writer, in her late teens, who Skypes and messengers with her boycrush, even writes him a song in his languages, only to get her heart broken. But she is a today’s educated girl – who can dabble between software, men and even porn, at her will and has no shame asking a desi dukaandar for a vibrator.

With crushes and sexcapades behind her, her story takes a defining turn when she is accepted in New York University. A lot changes for her and for her Aai (the ravishing, refreshing, rare, Revathi) in the Big Apple. For starters, Aai no longer needs to carry a manual ramp in her non-cosy van, for the developed country is equipped to give her daughter the wings she never imagined. But old habits die hard – in her brief stay in New York she still shadows her daughter without her knowledge only to make sure she is fine. As a confident, yet worried mother returns to India, the brave, yet newly independent daughter stays on to pursue her dreams and live her life.

While academic flight is underplayed, it is the unfurling of Laila’s inner self, that forms the crux of MWAS. When she meets Khanum from Pakistan (Sayani Gupta) in New York, you can sense sparks flying. Make way for Hindi cinema’s most unconventional coupling  – one a patient of cerebral palsy and other with no eyesight. Both women. Chemistry crackles and couple starts to live together. But is Laila sure of herself? Is she as committed as her partner?

In the last leg of the story, the couple of New York arrive in Delhi to make a few announcements. Attempts are made, and Aai, misunderstands bi for baai – and can only empathise that all women are but baais at home – dealing with chores day in and day out. A determined Laila makes it but obvious in the next attempt but has little chance to converse. For beneath the fighter exterior, Aai is losing her battle against cancer.

The protagonists real battles are finally not about her physicality or her sexuality, they are about her family, her infidelity, her personal choices. Does she tell her partner the truth? Does she choose convenience over companionship? Career over family?

Margarita with a straw is more than a film, it is a perspective. Sexuality is not a situation, it is a fact. If you accept that your child has cerebral palsy, why not accept a child who discovers he/she is gay/bisexual? Cerebral palsy can not be cured, but as a parent (and society) you can try and make the environment more conducive to help the person lead a normal life. Is it a lot to expect the same for a person with uncommon sexuality? For everything that is uncommon is not unnatural.

To say so much about this film is to mean without saying that it excels in all departments, and superlatively so in performances. Revathi’s portrayal of Aai is as real as it can get – angry, loving, caring,  sometimes doting and nosey, she is the typical Indian mother, an epitome of affection. Both Sayani Gupta and Kuljeet Singh (as Laila’s father) deliver memorable characters for what they bring to the screen.

But the movie belongs to Kalki Kochlin – who makes Laila very three dimensional, very believable. She works effectively to nail the body language and voice without ever making Laila a caricature. You can see her inner struggle flash on her face and can feel for her everytime she struggles to move or to communicate or make a decision. This is definitely a performance of an international standard.

Kudos to director & writer Shonali Bose, who not only breaks stereotypes but sets a new benchmark of sorts. She has more than pushed the envelope in Bollywood. MWAS is a bold, daring, refreshing and very important film. It breaks conventions and asks you accept what you mustn’t question, and love without conditions.

Do not have fixations of what is right, what is acceptable or what is normal. And the next time you have a Margarita, (or even a filter coffee for that matter), remember you can also have it with a straw 😉

Kartik K J

(Based in Pune, a marketing professional in daytime and a movie buff during night, Kartik K J is currently working on something which he hopes will be a novel someday)

The first trailer of Shonali Bose’s film Margarita With A Straw is out. The film will have its premiere in Contemporary World Cinema section at Toronto International Film Festival. Have a look.

From fest site – In this inspirational love story, a Delhi university student and aspiring writer afflicted with cerebral palsy (Kalki Koechlin, Dev.D, That Girl in Yellow Boots) leaves India for New York University, where she falls for a fiery young activist.

Unusual only because it’s so rarely seen on screen, Margarita, with a Straw is an exceptional portrait of a woman discovering what she wants, and how to get it.

Laila (Kalki Koechlin) is a student and aspiring writer, crafting lyrics and electronic sounds for an indie band at her Delhi university. Her cerebral palsy doesn’t much get in the way of her life, although it sometimes does for others. When Laila’s band wins a local contest, the condescending host says to her, “It must have been so hard for you. Can you share something with us?” Laila shares her middle finger.

Always seeking more freedom and new experience, Laila wins a place at New York University and leaves India with her mother (Revathy) for Manhattan. There she meets a fiery activist, Khanum (Sayani Gupta), who challenges her beliefs, sparks her creativity, and, eventually, takes her to bed. For these two women, it’s the beginning of a remarkable love story.

The programme presents the latest works of some of the most provocative and important voices in cinema from around the globe. Bose’s debut film Amu had also been screened at Toronto in 2005.

For cast, credits and other details, click here. Though we noticed a strange thing in the credit roll of the trailer, even the casting director gets a credit (because he is producer, writer and director too? That too three credits in one plate!) but the (Hindi) dialogue writer doesn’t have a credit. How strange? We have never been to able to understand why people become so insecure and chindi when it comes to credits?

– Posted by @Shubhodeep

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The 2014 edition of Toronto International Film Festival has added 2 more Indian films in its schedule.

Margarita, with a Straw directed by Shonali Bose will have its world premiere Contemporary World Cinema section.

From fest site – In this inspirational love story, a Delhi university student and aspiring writer afflicted with cerebral palsy (Kalki Koechlin, Dev.D, That Girl in Yellow Boots) leaves India for New York University, where she falls for a fiery young activist.The programme presents the latest works of some of the most provocative and important voices in cinema from around the globe. Bose’s debut film Amu had also been screened at Toronto in 2005.

Cast, Credit and other details

Country: India
Year: 2014
Language: Hindi/English
Premiere Status: World Premiere
Runtime: 100 minutes
Rating: 14A
Producer: Shonali Bose, Nilesh Maniyar
Production Company: Ishan Talkies, Viacom18 Motion Pictures, Jakhotia Group
Principal Cast: Kalki Koechlin, Revathy, Sayani Gupta, William Moseley, Hussain Dalal
Screenplay: Shonali Bose, Nilesh Maniyar
Cinematographer: Anne Misawa
Editor: Monisha Baldawa
Sound: Resul Pookutty, Amrit Pritam
Music: Mikey McCleary, Prasoon Joshi
Production Designer: Somenath Pakre, Prasun Chakraborty

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The second film is Megha Ramaswamy’s Newborns. It’s part of the inaugural Short Cuts International programme.

From fest site – A hauntingly beautiful documentary that follows female survivors of acid attacks, who bravely defy the trauma and fear that will always accompany them.

Cast, Crew and Other Details

Country: India
Year: 2014
Language: Hindi
Premiere Status: World Premiere
Runtime: 8 minutes
Rating: STC

Producer: Anand Gandhi, Sohum Shah, Ruchi Bhimani
Production Company: Recyclewala Labs
Principal Cast: Laxmi, Nasreen, Sapna, Daya Kishan, Usha, Rupesh Tillu, Heena Agrawal
Screenplay: Megha Ramaswamy
Cinematographer: Satya Rai Nagpaul
Editor: Anand Gandhi, Rohit Pandey
Sound: Ajit Rathore, Aditya Jadav
Production Designer: Megha Ramaswamy

Trailer

The Festival will run from September 4 to 14, 2014.

Bedabrata Pain’s directorial debut Chittagong is finally ready for release. The film will have its world premier at IFFLA fest. The makers have just released a new poster of the film. And it looks good.

And here’s the synopsis according to the official release…

To say that 14-year-old Jhunka Roy’s life was about to change would be an understatement. Set against the beautiful forests and villages of Chittagong, a youth movement was underway, leading up to a drastic revolution. Based on true events in British occupied India of the 1930s, a group of untrained school youth handed the British their first military defeat. Led by a schoolteacher, local villagers and school children showed the power of mass resistance over colonial oppression.

Bedabrata Pain’s directorial debut is a coming-of-age tale of triumph, sacrifice and love, as a young boy’s determination sets the course for an entire nation’s freedom. This progression is what would later spark the first mass peasant movement in India, with the help of Jhunka Roy.

Credits include –

Director: Bedabrata Pain. Producer: Bedabrata Pain
Screenwriter: Bedabrata Pain, Shonali Bose
Cinematographer: Eric Zimmerman
Editor: Aldo Velasco
Music Composer: Shankar Mahadevan, Eshaan Noorani, Loy Mendoza
Cast: Manoj Bajpai, Vega Tamotia, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Barry John and Dibyendu Bhattacharya.

Bedabrata Pain’s Chittagong has been in the making for quite sometime. And now, the first poster of the film has been released. We are guessing the film should be releasing soon.

The poster is simple and effective, reminds you of Raavan’s first look. Two issues – too much text in such small space. And who uses so many exclamation marks!!!

Written by Bedabrata Pain & Shonali Bose, it  stars Manoj Bajpayee, Raj Kumar Yadav, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Barry John and Dibyendu Bhattacharya. To read the official synopsis and see the trailer of the film, click here.

The Dirty Picture is still going strong on buzz-o-meter. And here’s the latest trailer, the animated version. Best animated bit – 00:25 – 00:32.

Tip – Jahan Bakshi

There was Ashutosh Gowariker’s dud Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Sey, and now there’s Chhitagong by Bedabrata Pain. Both the films are based on the same incident. Written by Bedabrata Pain & Shonali Bose, it  stars Manoj Bajpayee, Raj Kumar Yadav, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Barry John and Dibyendu Bhattacharya.

Here’s the first look. It doesn’t look like official trailer though. Too long to be a trailer, must be showreel for distributors or something like that.

And here’s the official synopsis…

Set against the backdrop of a little known saga in 1930s British-occupied India – where a group of schoolboys and young women, led by a schoolteacher, Masterda Surya Sen (Manoj Bajpai) dared to take on the Empire – CHITTAGONG is the story of a diffident 14 year old boy, Jhunku (Delzad Hiwale). Swept up into this seemingly impossible mission, the reluctant teenager battles with his own self-doubts to achieve an improbable triumph.

The film is a riveting action-drama, made more so by the fact that it is true.

If only Ashutosh Gowariker stops taking himself so seriously, the world would have been a better place to live. Ok, thats called exaggeration. But yes, he might get his mojo back. Last night Ashutosh Gowariker was online, through the twitter account of Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Sey. One of us tweeted and asked him for Refund. And this is what he replied…

You are asking for a refund?? It is like asking for a refund from the revolutionaries who gave their lives for you!!

Woohoo! As if Gowariker is going to donate all the collections from the film to the families of freedom fighters. And dear Gowariker, if you think there is nothing wrong with KHJJS, then all the best.

On his Facebook wall, Anurag posted this message yesterday –

See Chittagong, a far superior film made on the same subject as KHJJS.. At 1/8 th the cost, far superior actors and immense passion.. Producers decided to sit on it, because of a phone call from someone, Because that someone was trying desperately to save his son’s career..welcome to bollywood, where whose son you are… outshines all the hardwork and passion and potential and talent. KHJJS came and went, now what.

And if its true, then its not the first time. Remember how AB Sr. put out all the congratulatory smses that people smsed him for Abhishek, in full page advertisements after the release of Guru. And for Raavan, he put the blame on editing.

Mumbai Mirror picked the info from Anurag’s FB wall and carried this news today. And according to Mirror, Amitabh Bachchan reacted to it saying its incorrect and baseless.  Click here to read the report that The Telegraph carried in 2007 about Shonali Bose’s film. It seems Naseeruddin Shah and Jaya Bachchan were interested in it. One more Bachchan ? Wah, what an irony!

Shonali’s film Chittagong is directed by her husband Bedabrata Pain. It stars Manoj Bajapayee and Raj Kumar Yadav ( LSD).