Posts Tagged ‘shyam benegal’

Cinema paradiso

Are you tired of Sanskari James Bond and Deadpool? Wanted to show the finger to the censor board but was afraid that the visual would be blurred out and your rants against it muted? Well then, lets do something about it.

The Shyam Benegal committee that has been setup to recommend changes to the censor board is asking for public comments at rajani@nfdcindia.com according to the guidelines given here.

We made our voices heard on net neutrality and showed that the common man can influence public policy. Let’s do the same for our right to watch what we want as adults. Go to this website http://saveourcinema.in/ and send an email to the committee. Please try and read the guidelines and send your own answers if you can. Otherwise, you can send the pre-drafted one on the site and edit it as required.

Thanks to the Save Our Cinema team, who came together yesterday and rolled this out in a day: /u/that_70_show_fan -our resident expert on censorship who drafted our response as well, and /u/avinassh who coded this website in time. Please let us know if you have any suggestions or feedback.

Save Our Cinema

he ‘Save Our Cinema’ coalition was set up to help the Indian movie watching public participate in the policy building process around censorship in the country. The Shyam Benegal committee is finalizing recommendations for a censor board revamp and is asking for public comments. We have created an easy to use tool that helps you send your responses quickly.

Why send an email?

Have you recently gone to a movie in India and scratched your head trying to understand what was going on because of all the muted dialogues? For example, in a recently released Hollywood movie which was given ‘Adult’ rating, all double meaning dialogues were ordered to be replaced with ‘Man and Woman’, and all instances of the words ‘asshole’ were ordered to be muted.

If you are tired of this ridiculous curtailment of the freedom of expression guaranteed in our constitution, there is a ray of hope. The Union Government has constituted a committee headed by Shyam Benegal, one of the most respected film makers in the country to recommend how to revamp the censor board. The committee is asking for views of film viewers on the certification process being followed by the CBFC and suggestions if any within the ambit of the existing Cinematograph Act, 1952, rules and guidelines which have withstood the scrutiny of various courts to help them finalize their recommendations. Submissions should be restricted to two pages and covering important aspects detailed here: NFDC Guidelines.

We encourage you to read the guidelines and then scroll down and click ‘Send Email’. You can edit the email before sending. You can also copy the email content to your clipboard to manually compose your email. Please keep us in BCC so that we can keep a track of emails sent. We will not use your email addresses for any other purpose. However, you can remove us from BCC if you would like.

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(content via Reddit India and Save Our Cinema)

(click on any pic to start the slide show)

(Disclaimer – This is an expression of an individual student and in no way is representation of FTII’s official position)

Dear Mr Chauhan,

I am choosing to address you personally after listening to you respond on several TV news debates about the recent opposition against your appointment as Chairman at FTII. I am a student of FTII and part of the protest.

When we first heard about your appointment we knew little about you except those of us who had grown up on ‘Mahabharata’ the B.R. Chopra serial. We then began to look for more information to get to know your background and work profile. When we did, we saw a huge anomaly in your body of work and the very principles and aesthetic, FTII stands for. We began to smell a rat. Given your political affiliations and given the fact that the ruling party is becoming notorious for making completely irrational and high-handed appointments since it has come to power, it was clear to us you were meant to be a puppet of the Government and chosen despite your capabilities and inspite of your body of work. The protest wasn’t against you personally, coz we never knew you or about you. You, as we saw, are unfit for the job (reasons below) but more important than that this is a strike against the increasing interference of the ruling party to drive their agenda throughout the country without considering the principles of democracies and those of the said institutions. I think, this may satisfy the ‘surprise’ you felt when you heard about the protest before even you joining. This protest was not about you, Mr Chauhan as an individual. This may also satisfy a certain insecurity you may have, going by your own admission of you being a ‘chhota aadmi’, of depriving you of your chance to shine and become ‘big’. (Given your political affiliations I am sure you will receive a much better post, as you again by your admission iterated, that, ‘If you had to use your political power than why FTII, why not a big and more important post?’ I hope you see the contradictions here, Mr Chauhan. First you say give me a chance to progress, then you imply FTII isn’t that important a place to progress with. Strange.)

Now it is comments like these that compel me to write this letter. Because, now that we have heard you speak, we know you better and now that we know you we are dead sure you are wrong for this post. Before I tell you why you are wrong, let me educate you a bit about FTII and what this institution means to cinema as well. On the way you may learn something about cinema too, because as you may not be aware, ‘Khuli Khidki’ isn’t exactly cinema.

What FTII stands for –

  • Freedom of thought – We are allowed, encouraged and groomed to think independently to understand the world around us and our own art without any agendas, something I don’t see many institutions that can boast of. We are also taught to respect each other’s opinions as artists. Do you see yourself being able to encourage that?
  • Freedom of speech – We are allowed, encouraged and groomed to express our independent opinions without fear of repercussions, disturbing the status quo or upsetting power equations. This, you may not know, is a very important constitutional right of every citizen of India and the cornerstone of democracy which the ruling party you are associated with is trying to systematically euthanize.
  • Individuality and unbridled self-expression – FTII grooms students as individual artists above their technical domain, constantly keeping in mind that it is the person who creates and not technology. We are pushed to develop and express ourselves through our art for constant evolution irrespective of our specialisations. Having said that, FTII produces the best technical experts the industry has, on a yearly basis too.
  • Justice and fairness in all areas to all sections of society based on the philosophical principles of the Socialist Democracy we are. FTII has always stood for equality and justice for all irrespective of class, creed or gender and this has shown in the films it produces. Cinema, you see, is a wonderful tool of mass communication and if it can be used for propagating ideas of equality and justice, then why not?! These ideas don’t go down very well with your political party unfortunately and that is worrisome for us.
  • Only film institute in India to have a global perspective on cinema as a pure aesthetic medium without any mercenary considerations. It is an art form and it is upheld as one here, without compromises. Cinema here is taught from the lessons and learnings of world greats by people who understand it as an art-form, to students who want to become artists not assembly line film-makers. This requires a certain bent of mind and commitment to cinematic arts. Do you think you have it?
  • The only film institute in India that considers cinema as a vehicle as much of self-expression as much as a mirror to the society we live in. Cinema, for us, cannot be divorced from a personal voice and the socio-political context within which we live. Cinema, for us is about comment and expression not distribution and titillation. Do you understand this distinction?

Now you may say, you will uphold all these principles. Fine, we may consider your earnestness to get your ‘chance’ but what about the fact that one must understand these principles to execute them? Your body of work and now more importantly, your responses, clearly show you don’t. If you still don’t get it, let me tell you why you are wrong for this post –

  • You have no connection whatsoever with FTII to understand this space. You are not an alumnus nor have you worked or associated professionally with students or artists from here. I doubt you have even visited this place ever. You may say you will learn on the job, but Sir we aren’t talking about hiring an intern. YOU are supposed to be guiding US, deciding our future. Without knowing what this place is all about, how will you?
  • You have nothing in your body of work that shows any kind of affiliation to the philosophy or aesthetics of cinema we practice here. If you haven’t studied or practiced then you don’t understand, you see. Then how will you show us the way ahead? How will you approve, disapprove and draft policies, make decisions, appoint people to take our learning forward in the way it should be done?
  • You have nothing else in your body of work to show any kind of inclination to arts and aesthetics, or an intellectual or questioning bent of mind. This especially, is disastrous for both of us. You may not know, but the key ingredient in learning and teaching, especially of arts and aesthetics is a constantly questioning mind.
  • And because of these three points above, your political affiliation troubles us a lot. Because a fourth standard student can see why you are not fit for this post but the Government of India has handed it to you on a platter. Hence, even if you are sincere this very lack of understanding can easily make you a pawn in the hands of the Govt to push their decisions on to the institution. In that case, for your own peace of mind and job security with your bosses I think this could be unhealthy for you. Why would you want a job where you can’t prove your own mettle as you so badly seem to want to do? Please seriously re-consider and withdraw.
  • If we talk of pure heritage, the post of the Chairman has been held by the following – (Please google them if you don’t know of them and you will know more about why you are wrong for this place.)

Adoor Gopalkrishnan – Director, writer and producer, FTII alumnus and 16 National Awards, Padma Shri, Padma Vibhushan and Dadasaheb Phalke awardee. (The last, you may not know, is the highest honour conferred in the field of cinema.) If awards don’t cut it for you, it doesn’t for some of us either, then maybe the fact that he started the ‘New Cinema’ movement in Kerala that synthesized the mainstream and so-called art cinema for a wider appreciation of cinema as an artform.

Shyam Benegal – Director, writer, faculty at FTII before he became the Chairman twice. 12 National Awards, Padma Shri, Padma Vibhushan and the Dadasaheb Phalke Lifetime Achievement Award recipient. His films have been nominated at Cannes, Berlin and Moscow in competition sections. But more importantly he was a huge influence and constituent of the parallel cinema movement in India which changed the shape of cinema forever.

Girish Karnad – Actor, director, writer, playwright, recipient of 9 National Awards, Padma Shri, Padma Vibhushan, Sahitya Akademi and Janpeeth Award (highest literary honour of India). He marked the blooming and maturing of Kannada literature in the sixties.

U.R.Ananthamurthy – Novelist, playwright, poet and literary critic, Padma Bhushan, Sahitya Akademi, Jnanpeeth awardee. Finalist of the Man Booker prize. He had no association with cinema and we protested his appointment too despite holding his body of work and the power of his intellect in high regard.

Saeed Mirza – Director, writer, novelist, producer, FTII alumnus, 3 National Awards winner and a very important film-maker whose films gave impetus and shape to the parallel cinema movement of the 70’s.

And now some GK about FTII in the last decade, actually just last two years is enough. I wouldn’t have taken the pain but I read you mention somewhere that Rajkumar Hirani was the last film-maker of reckoning FTII produced. Not so long ago, in 2009, ‘Vihir‘, a terrific Marathi film was chosen at Berlin in the competition section and it was made by an FTII alumnus. Last year, in 2014,‘Killa’, a Marathi film has won the Crystal Bear at Berlin. And you know, the director was a cinematography student here, by the way. He also shot ‘Masaan’ which won two awards at Cannes this year. Yes, two. And to talk mainstream, he has also shot the soon-to-release Ajay Devgan starrer ‘Drishyam’, and this guy is hardly in his early thirties. Another film in competition this year at Cannes was ‘Chauthi Kooth’, made by another FTII alumnus. For God’s sake our diploma films have been selected in competition at Berlin this year, ‘Kamakshi’ being a case in point. Oh by the way, ‘Chitrashala’, another short film selected at Berlin this year is made by Amit Dutta, an FTII alumnus again, and an avant-garde and important film-maker of our times.

(If you can, please note how your reference points are so mainstream that you are not even aware of the wonderful and important work FTII alumni have been doing and which have even made recent headlines.)

I can go on, Sir. But I think I have explained myself in so much detail that you must have got the point. And in case you didn’t, it proves once again why you just aren’t right for this post. Apologies but we can do little about that except protest until you step down.

Thank you

Most Sincerely

An FTII student

Ladakh International Film Festival (LIFF) at 13,500 ft above the sea level is being pitched as “the highest altitude film festival of the world”.

DATE : The first edition of the fest will happen between 15th June – 17th June, 2012.

LIFF is chaired by Shyam Benegal and Melwyn William Chirayath is the festival director of LIFF. And here are some more details about this new fest –

FILMS : LIFF is divided into following segments of film sections to be screened:

  • Indian Section – Best of Indian Cinema Open to Indian films only
  •  International Section (Best of World Cinema) Open to non-Indian films only
  •  Competition Section – Short films, Animation films, Documentaries & Feature Films for a period of 2 calendar years
  •  Ladakh Section – Open only to citizens of Ladakh and films made on Ladakh(All formats from mobile phone to 35mm are accepted)

– Film Bazaar, Exhibition, Workshop and Green Carpet are other highlights of the festival

ENTRIES – Submissions of entries for the LIFF are now open from January 01, 2012 and the last date of submission is April 01, 2012.

ENTRY FEES – Ladakh International Film Festival will not be charging any entry fee.

WEBSITE : For further information please visit the website  www.liff.in

or Email – info@liff.in, monasse@gmail.com.

– Eminent personalities who are now on board as patrons of the festival include Christian Jeune – Deputy Director General, Festival De Cannes, Derek Malcom – President of British Federation of Film Societies & The International Film Critics Circle and distinguished Film Critic & Historian, Jacob Neiiendam – Director, Copenhagen film festival, Govind Nihalani – hEminent Film maker, Shekhar Kapoor ( Eminent Film maker), Mike H Pandey – Chairman (Steering Committee, IFFI) & Film maker, Vishal Bhardwaj – Eminent Film Director/Producer/Music Director, Ketan Mehta – Eminent Film maker, Shaji N Karun (Eminent Film maker), Madhur Bhandarkar – Eminent Film maker, Deepti Naval (Eminent actor/film maker/author) and Nitin Desai ( Eminent Art Director)

– The mascot of Ladakh International Film Festival is ‘Schan’- The Snow Leopard. Through its association with the Snow Leopard Conservancy India Trust, the Festival’s aim will be to raise awareness amongst people from all over the world on protecting the rare and endangered Snow Leopard.

–  There will be an auditorium screening with 35mm dual projection and 5.1 sound facilities. Besides this, there will be two open air screenings.

– Films will be screened in three venues simultaneously and venues will have transportation facilities like buses and bicycles.

– Film Shoppé, planting fish and fish eggs in the river bodies of Ladakh, exhibitions, workshops and Green Carpet Premieré are other highlights of the festival.

– There is an adjacent ground which could be utilized by local Ladakhi businessmen to promote the local business.

– Snow Leopard trophies, citations, certificates etc. would be given. There would also be a special Snow Leopard award to the best film made on any endangered species in the world. Cash prizes would also be given in the feature film competitive category.

– Film Shoppe would be attended by invited representatives of International Studios/Film Producers/Film Buyers, satellite channel etc. One could bring in their film and explore business opportunities with them. The focus is on the improvement of marketing opportunities of completed film projects.

– The fest is organised by Monassé, an event management company established in 1994 and is involved with the pre-production, production, post-production, permissions and liasioning of many cinematic ventures and provides services for documentary production to TV commercial productions. It facilitates in Hollywood/ Bollywood or any other Indian language (regional) films, talent casting, location scouting. Monassé operates from New Delhi and Mumbai. It has representations at all major metro cities of India and affiliations in Canada, Europe including UK, New Zealand, Australia and South Asia.

This weekend there are two releases. Shyam Benegal’s Well Done Abba and Kabir Kaushik’s Hum Tum Aur Ghost. At 76, Benegal is still in no mood to rest. Well Done Abba stars Boman Irani, Minissha Lamba and Samir Dattani and like many of Benegal’s films, its a social satire.

Anupama Chopra (NDTV) – The end result is that Well Done Abba is heart-felt and intermittently funny but not flat-out delightful like Benegal’s last film Welcome to Sajjanpur. You need oodles of patience to enjoy this one. I recommend that you wait for the DVD so you can speed up things yourself – 2.5/5

Rajeev Masand (CNN IBN) – Despite some genuinely comic portions in which Benegal exposes the extent of double dealing and bribery involved in Indian rural politics, the film as a whole is hard to enjoy because of its sluggish pace, and because of your inability to empathize with Armaan Ali – 2.5/5 

Mayank Shekhar (HT) – Benegal’s certainly locked in a lyrical, layered screenplay here. The subject’s grim. The optimism is unique. Armaan realises along the way the power of an election coming up, the RTI Act, the mike, and the media. The state legislature debates a stolen well. The film remains a fine black comedy, which could only disappoint in parts for its weakened pace, or the director’s discomfort with a soundtrack to help with the movie’s commerce – 3/5

Shubhra Gupta (Indian Express) – But the downside of `Well Done Abba’ is that it is too lax, and, after a point, too stuffed. The pace picks up so slowly that you nearly tune out, and when post-interval, everything seems to be settling down nicely, Benegal starts throwing about long winded acronyms : spelling out the Right To Information Act can stop a movie dead – 2/5

Gaurav Malani (Indiatimes) – Despite being a trail and tribulation journey, Benegal’s direction has a feel-good charm to it. The simplicity in his storytelling is so charming that even when the film extends beyond its climax into a celebratory song, you don’t mind much. The authenticity of a rural setting is something that can never go wrong in a Shyam Benegal film – 3/5

Kaveree Bamzai (India Today) – It’s not the work of a helicoptering writer. It is the work of someone who has watched this life closely and carefully, so well done Ashok Mishra for the screenplay. It’s a place where there are ever more creative terms for bribes–from Diwali to Dussehra to peele Gandhiji. Where dowry is asked for three-door fridges and deewar-wala TV. Where police stations spend time registering thefts of hens, breaking the bakri’s leg, or stealing a door. Watch it and laugh. And wonder at what we have all come to. Pity about the songs though. We could have done without them – 3.5/5

Minty Tejpal (Mumbai Mirror)Well Done Abba is a sweet, whimsical political satire, quite a rare breed in Bollywood. Veteran director Shyam Benegal explores the familiar theme of corruption and inefficiency in small town India in his wry, deliberate manner, a refreshing change in these hypercharged days – 3/5

Nikhat Kazmi (TOI) – The film is a sheer delight, with the events unfolding in a breezy, comic vein which keeps the ribs relentlessly tickling. But what’s more alluring are the colourful characters and the multi-layered approach to the problems of a village which becomes a microcosm of the entire nation – 4/5

Kabir Kaushik made a brillant debut with Sehar. But nobody knows what happened to Chamku. And now its Hum Tum Aur Ghost, which looks similar to GhostTown. Arshad Warsi turns producer & writer with this one and stars alongwith Boman Irani & Dia Mirza. So, is it really Ghost Town or just another coincidence in B-town ?

Anupama Chopra (NDTV) – At the end of Hum Tum aur Ghost, a character declares: kisi ne sahi kaha hai, love conquers all. Not quite. For one, love cannot conquer this muddled script, which veers between rom-com, drama and high emotion, in the most meandering way possible – 2/5

Rajeev Masand (CNN IBN) – Ultimately the film is predictable and tiring because it’s an interesting idea that’s been stretched way beyond its potential. The usually dependable Arshad Warsi delivers a few light moments, and Boman Irani as a friendly ghost helps muster up a couple of laughs. But director Kabeer Kaushik, who gave us the gripping cop drama Sehar, doesn’t seem to have the light-handed touch required to turn this flimsy concept into a fun-filled ride – 2/5

Mayank Shekhar (HT) – Body dies, soul remains, and we all seek ‘mukti’ (salvation), is a very Hindu belief. It appears a natural subject for a Hindi film. The lead actor, also the producer, credits himself for the film’s story. He could’ve acknowledged the little help from David Koepp and the makers of Ghost Town (2008). The protagonist there has his dead buddy, a ghost, follow him around for a purpose. Here he makes contact with an entire town full of ghosts – 1.5/5

Shubhra Gupta (Indian Express) – The pow-wows between the ghosts and the sole human who can see them range from the funny and the lachrymose ( cue, close-up of Warsi, eyes brimming over), but the former are few and far. The interactions between the humans are equally contrived : Armaan’s girlfriend, the glamorous editor of a fashion magazine, is always dressed to the hilt ; his assistant exists solely to declare that she’s lesbian. Gosh. All of these are actors who can make a film thoroughly enjoyable . But `Hum Tum Aur Ghost’ is not that film – 1/5

Gaurav Malani (Indiatimes) – Arshad Warsi’s debut as a writer is so ‘lifeless’ in Hum Tum aur Ghost that even his ‘spirited’ performance isn’t able to save the dead slow film from dying a slow death – 2/5 

Kaveree Bamzai (India Today) – I couldn’t decide what was more grating. Dia’s mile wide smile? Warsi’s scruffy drunkenness? Irani’s desperate attempt to breathe life into a leaden script? Or Shernaz Patel’s faux seriousness as Warsi’s psychiatrist (by the way, why do Bollywood psychiatrists wear spectacles and speak in an accent like Shefali Shah in Karthik Calling Karthik?) And why has Bollywood suddenly discovered diseases? It doesn’t matter. The film is so boring that it threatens to put you to sleep. Hum Tum Aur Ghost is guaranteed to make you wish someone dead – 1/5

Minty Tejpal (Mumbai Mirror) – Whenever the screenplay sags, which is quite often, Arshad starts clicking babes in bikinis or the lovebirds start singing a song, both of which merely titillate to deceive. Arshad tries his best but seems lost through the film, Dia is ditzy but decent, Boman is quite wasted while Sandhya stays spunky – 1.5/5

Nikhat Kazmi (TOI) – When it comes to performances, it’s the Arshad-Boman chemistry that crackles and invests the film with sparkle and wit. Dia Mirza too has her moments as the feisty girlfriend while Sandhya Mridul ends up mostly wasted as a sidekick. What’s even more disappointing is Shankar-Ehsan-Loy’s audio track which fails to throw up a single hummable tune – 2.5/5

Well Done Abba seems to be clear winner this week but the reviews are not as glowing as it was for Welcome To Sajjanpur.

At 75, he is still going strong! After his last delightful small film Welcome To Sajjanpur, Shyam Benegal is ready with his new film titled Well Done Abba.

The film is produced by Reliance Big Picturs and stars Boman Irani in double role along with Minissha Lamba and Sammir Dattani.  Its written by Ashok Mishra and is based on two short stories – ‘Narsaiyyan Ki Bavdi’ by Jeelani Bano and ‘Phulwa Ka Pul’ by Sanjeev. The first trailer of the film is out. Have a look. Seems like its in the same space as Sajjanpur.

 And here is the official synopsis of the film…

Armaan Ali, played by comic hero Boman Irani, is a middle aged driver for a city executive. He takes a month’s leave and, when he arrives back at work three months later, his boss, understandably, threatens to sack him. To save his job, charming Armaan spins a fabulous story of why he was delayed in getting his daughter married.

Fable or truth, the boss isn’t quite sure, but the story revolves around a central question – how a well, once dug, can be stolen? Unearthed in Benegal’s part comedy, part political satire, is a hilarious and poignant depiction of the double dealing and corrupt middle men intrinsic to Indian rural politics. Meanwhile, at the heart of the story is a delightful romance between Armaan’s daughter and a young, honest mechanic who saves the day.

The first look of Shyam Benegal’s new film Well Done Abba is out. The film stars Boman Irani, Minissha Lamba and Samir Dattani. The film was recently screened at Montreal Film Festival and will have its next screening at London film festival. Its written by Ashok Mishra and is based on two short stories – ‘Narsaiyyan Ki Bavdi’ by Jeelani Bano and ‘Phulwa Ka Pul’ by Sanjeev.

And here is the synopsis of the film….

Armaan Ali, played by comic hero Boman Irani, is a middle aged driver for a city executive. He takes a month’s leave and, when he arrives back at work three months later, his boss, understandably, threatens to sack him. To save his job, charming Armaan spins a fabulous story of why he was delayed in getting his daughter married.

Fable or truth, the boss isn’t quite sure, but the story revolves around a central question – how a well, once dug, can be stolen? Unearthed in Benegal’s part comedy, part political satire, is a hilarious and poignant depiction of the double dealing and corrupt middle men intrinsic to Indian rural politics. Meanwhile, at the heart of the story is a delightful romance between Armaan’s daughter and a young, honest mechanic who saves the day.

Its not actually a new composition by A R Rahman. But its based on the music of Aazaadi song from Bose, the film directed by Shyam Benegal. BSF is Border Security Force (Seema Suraksha Bal) incase you GQ is really low.  They could have surely done a better job with the video. Enjoy!