Posts Tagged ‘Sudhir Mishra’

Jaideep Varma’s documentary Baavra Mann is yet to get a release in India. Karan Singh Tyagi saw it at New York Indian Film Festival earlier this year and wrote this post for us. Read on.

(We suggest you play the song in the background while reading the post)

Baavra MannWho is this long-haired Sanjay Dutt duplicate?

Duplicate nahi hai bhaiyya. Iska naam Nirmal Pandey hai. Kya acting kari thi isne ‘Is raat ki subah nahin’ me”, was my prompt reply, as my cousin and I stood in line with a dozen others, scanning movie posters outside Gaiety (Bandra) and booking our tickets for ‘Auzar’. As an 11 year old, I couldn’t contain my excitement, at having recognized Nirmal Pandey in the ‘Auzar’ poster, and went on this long rant about ‘Is raat ki subah nahin’. Much to my cousin’s chagrin, I told him everything about the movie – how it was violent and funny at the same time, how all the actors spoke a very different language, how the story finished in one night, and importantly, how Papa and I were lucky to see the movie on the big screen, as it had a single show in Bombay.

This innocuous little incident came back to me while watching Jaideep Varma’s documentary, ‘Bavra Mann and other Indian Realities’, in New York. For those who haven’t seen it yet, Jaideep’s movie traverses through the life and films of Sudhir Mishra, and somewhere in the middle of the movie, Mishra laments how ‘Is raat ki subah nahin’ was confined to a single show in Bombay and how many people didn’t get to see it. On hearing this, I silently smiled as my mind went back to watching the movie with Papa in the same show that Mishra was referring to. How I wanted to thank my father at that very instant! Not just for taking me to ‘Is raat ki subah nahin’, but for giving me the hereditary gift of love for movies and being the best companion I could have had while I nurtured  it.

There were numerous such nostalgia trips throughout Jaideep’s movie. The portions dealing with ‘Hazaron Khwaishein Aisi’ left me mesmerized. Listening to ‘Bavra mann dekhne chala ek sapna’ on the big screen again did my soul so much good; it stirred something deep within me, something in desperate need of stirring. My mind went back to when I first saw ‘Hazaaron..’ I remember crying tears of joy and sadness, laughing gleefully, feeling melancholic and empty, while ‘Bavra Mann’ played on loop and images from the movie interposed with flashes of my life didn’t leave me for days at end.  Probably, this is a uniform reaction that ‘Hazaaron..’ elicits. The movie strikes a deep chord somewhere, and makes one confront broken promises, failed dreams, and all those bittersweet memories, that we carry with ourselves. Right after watching Jaideep’s ‘Bavra Mann’, a friend who had accompanied me to the screening in New York forwarded me this by Avijit Ghosh who captures this sentiment beautifully:

There are a thousand reasons to watch Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi. But enjoy it as a last anthem for a generation who knew how to believe. Watch it holding the hand of a woman you have loved and lost. And it would be nice if you have drunk some rotten whisky before.

As must be painfully evident by now, I am easily susceptible to bouts of nostalgia. However, these glorious nostalgia-filled moments were not the only reason why I enjoyed Bavra Mann. I have often wondered what drives filmmakers to make the kind of movies that they do. For example, at the risk of doing a Baradwaj Rangan here, I have been fascinated by two particular scenes from Black Friday and Gangs of Wasseypur.

Sample these dialogues:

Black Friday – “Jiske paas kuch nahi hai karne ke liye, dharam ke naam par chutiya banta rahega”. GOW2 – “Jab tak cinema hai log chutiye bante rahenge

I have often wanted to argue that we can discern in these dialogues a kind of master narrative, a collection of meanings, and, perhaps, a powerful leitmotif that runs through all of Kashyap’s movies, a kind of slavishness and hive mentality – towards religion in Black Friday, towards cinema and everything that one acquires from it in Gangs of Wasseypur. To take the analogy further, slavishness towards power in Gulal, towards self and personal ego in DevD and No Smoking. Therefore, Kashyap’s movies are magic on celluloid, because he lets characters with such aggressive spirit and slavish devotion face their internal conflicts and external surroundings. What we see on screen is the result of a bundle of contradictory aspects and motivations, a certain kind of dualism that everyone and everything in life has. I have repeatedly asked myself, what are the questions that Kashyap is trying to answer through his work? Has he found any answers yet?

Bavra Mann poses similar questions to someone whom Vikramaditya Motwane calls the “original Anurag Kashyap”. Despite the frequent and frenzied analysis of cinematic moves of all current directors’, I feel there is a strong lack of literature that provides us with enough resources to examine and study their work. This is where Bavra Mann triumphs. It gives enough resources to the audience to interpret Sudhir Mishra and his movies in a new light. Bavra Mann is a fascinating exercise in self-revelation and film lovers will revel in the personal anecdotes and casually delivered remarks that reveal layers and layers of information about Mishra and his body of work. The movie has a series of interviews with Mishra and people close to him, covering the length of Mishra’s career, beginning with his childhood, continuing through his education, his failed marriage with his first wife, his relationship with renowned film editor, Renu Saluja, his early film work, his breakthrough success with Dharavi, and his daring work in Hazaaron.., his most autobiographical Khoya Khoya Chand, and finally his recent movies. There is a treasure trove of diamonds in the movie. After all, who wouldn’t want to eavesdrop on Mishra and Shantanu Moitra’s recounting of how they got Swanand Kirkire to sing ‘Bavra Mann.’

A criticism often peddled against movies like Bavra Mann is that the director holds back, and is reverential towards his subject. Here, Jaideep is never in awe of Sudhir Mishra. His questions are probing and the discussions on films themselves are less about why they’re great and more about how they were put together. Jaideep knows that directors are not good at explaining motives behind making particular films. Movies, like many things else, begin with something very vague and abstract. Jaideep, therefore, never tries to look for definite answers and actual motives behind Mishra’s work. His aim is to allow the viewers the freedom to interpret the scene in the way they want, and depending on how their cinematic education (and earlier experiences of Mishra’s movies) has prepared them. Bavra Mann succeeds in bringing before us the greatest number of possibilities to reinterpret Mishra’s movies. After watching Bavra Mann, I realized that Sudhir Mishra’s movies (especially the earlier ones) resonated with me because they were being truthful about life – the movies expressed some deeper emotional experiences that Sudhir Mishra recognized in his own existence. This in and of itself was a reason for me to love Bavra Mann.

However, for me, the biggest strength of Bavra Mann is that it never wavers from admitting that Sudhir Mishra continues to be plagued with what is an inconsistent body of work. It subtly engages in criticism of some of Sudhir Mishra’s recent movies (the likes of Inkar, Calcutta Mail) to reflect on the present-day infertility of thought in India. By using Sudhir Mishra’s example, Jaideep exposes the dangers inherent in adopting a conformist and consensus-driven career. According to me, it is in this context that the movie makes a brutally frank attempt to unravel the intellectual decline of India and Indian movies (using Sudhir Mishra as a metaphor).  The movie, therefore, is an elegy of intellectual life not only of Sudhir Mishra but of us all. In a way, the movie tries to jolt us (Sudhir Mishra included) out of the dark recesses that we have allowed ourselves to fall in.

I do not know if Bavra Mann is getting a theatrical release anytime soon. However, I strongly hope that everyone gets a chance to see it. Watch it to revisit old times, to go back to your personal stories intertwined with Sudhir’s films, watch it to hear “Bavra Mann” on the big screen again, watch it as a student and lover of cinema, and most importantly, watch it because it is a powerful statement on the times that we live in.

Naseerudin Shah says the single most perceptive thing in the movie: “Mishra’s best work is yet to come.” Even though, I love ‘Hazaaron…’, I wouldn’t want it to be Mishra’s best work. I earnestly wish that it turns out to be just a teaser of what he (and by association) Indian cinema goes on to achieve and that no one is ever required to come to the rescue of this long-haired maverick director, like I had to once come to the rescue of his similarly long-haired leading man outside Gaiety.

– Karan Singh Tyagi

(Karan was born in Meerut, lived and studied in Bombay and Harvard, and after a brief stop in Paris, now finds himself in New York. He strongly feels that Ramadhir Singh was directly referring to him while saying, “Sab ke dimaag me apni apni picture chal rahi hai aur sab saale hero banna chah rahe hain apni picture me..” When he is not day-dreaming about movies or Real Madrid, he also works as a lawyer. You can find him on twitter here: @karanstyagi)

(A piece on the public conversation I had with Sudhir Mishra at “Wassup Andheri” last Sunday, 3rd March, written for Lucknow Tribune).

By virtue of having made a full-length documentary film on Sudhir Mishra (entitled “Baavra Mann – a film on Sudhir Mishra and other Indian realities”, to release in 2013), I was invited to host a conversation with him at the Wassup Andheri festival on Sunday. The topic (chosen by me) was why Indian cinema is not up to the mark of world cinema (apt perhaps a week after the Oscars were awarded, and even more so for the “100 Years of Indian Cinema” celebration that is on till May.)

Having never done anything like this before, I was apprehensive about how it might go but assumed that the experience of making this film (over two years) with Sudhir Mishra would enable me to draw out the more candid, less politically correct version of him (as it did in the film). It almost happened.

Initially, he spoke freely about why a filmmaker like him (who has made films like “Hazaaron Khwaaishein Aisi” and “Khoya Khoya Chand”) has lately done films like “Yeh Saali Zindagi” and “Inkaar”, by his own admission having (relatively) slighter material. He said it is not always possible to do the more challenging films, in any case, as an artist he needs a break too. Besides, the current environment is by and large not supportive of films like the former – it is very difficult to get funding for the same, and he would rather make out-and-out commercial films than no film at all. Also, the challenge of appealing to more people (“the burden of being interesting”) is something he likes to take on periodically. However, he admitted that it does bother him that he has underachieved and that he may not fulfil his potential but he hopes to fight this and squeeze out the best from himself still; he feels there is still time for that.

About the state of Indian films, Sudhir Mishra was optimistic – boldly stating that the next 4-5 years would see a revolution in our cinema, with younger filmmakers using digital technology more innovatively and decisively. He also admitted that he has not set enough of an example as a senior filmmaker in using this new technology to do cutting edge cinema (particularly because, by virtue of not having children to worry about, he had a greater opportunity to take risks) – he hopes to rectify this in the near future.

He agreed that Indian cinema, by not having to cater to any other audience except its own, has made it complacent. This, despite the fact that younger filmmakers are being able to create films on subjects it would have well nigh impossible to do a decade ago. But he expects all of this to change for the better in the very near future.

Beyond this, Mishra went back to his default setting in public – of being politically correct and playing to the gallery. Rather than report on his pronouncements, I’d prefer to make a few comments of my own here.

1)      It is becoming increasingly grating lately to find true-blue jingoism rearing up every time the word “Oscar” is brought up these days. “We don’t need Oscar approval” seems to be the new anthem in these quarters (and the gallery responded with claps too). It is fundamentally wrong because the fact is that the Oscars absolutely do put forward some of the best films of the year. From the 5 foreign films, 5 documentary films and 10 screenplay nominations (original and adapted) – at least 80% of these every single year are at the very forefront of world cinema (many of these nominated at the premier European festivals too, which Mishra said were more worthy). Even if you very conservatively credit 50% of the Best Picture and Best Director categories with this quality, that’s a further 5 films perhaps? Another 2-3 worthwhile films from all the other categories – altogether, accounting for repetitions, at least 20 great films? How much faux bravado does it take to dismiss a time-honoured standard of excellence from which we are so far removed from today?

2)      Keeping apart the issue of not enough local rooted stories being told, I was trying to explore why established Indian directors are not even attempting international films, telling international stories (given that we have a distinct language and cultural advantage through exposure and familiarity) which films like “Babel” have done in the past and “Waiting For Sugar Man” and “War Witch” did last year (in different ways). After the session, someone actually came up to me and accused me of having an “international/Hollywood complex”. It seems as if having a complete lack of any perspective is now worn with aggressive pride amongst film industry people. To answer the scornful query of another of those (who threw names of two contemporary Hindi films at me), I even expressed my own thumb rule for judging (for myself) whether a film was of international standard or not – which is if I would want to see the same film if it was made in a foreign language. Not surprisingly, it led to further derision.

3)      But the cake has to be taken by the most aggressive objection of the evening – about why I held this conversation in English and not Hindi. This is a certain brand of reverse snobbery that is gaining ground even amongst more evolved conscientious objectors than this particular one was, and it is getting tiresome. If someone has to tell them that English is an Indian language today (every bit like Hindi, Tamil or any other) just like cricket is an Indian sport, is it even worth the effort?

People have asked me why I chose to make a film on Sudhir Mishra (as if being perhaps the only filmmaker from the last 25 years who is still relevant today is not enough). Thing is, it is really not a film on him – it is not hagiography. It does not glorify him but uses him, his worldview, his life and his work to illuminate the decline that has so comprehensively set in milieus which were once marked by the sparkle of new ideas – milieus through which Mishra passed through (or is in now). The subject himself admits he has underachieved, explains why he has, and how he hopes to change that. It is as much the story of modern India as it is of Sudhir Mishra – just like each one of our own stories are. The candour and honesty with which he allowed this examination in this film was perhaps what I had hoped for in this public conversation. It didn’t happen entirely but as an admirer of his formidable mind and one of his biggest well-wishers I just hope that he doesn’t play to the gallery in his forthcoming films at least. He deserves better from himself.

Jaideep Varma

(Jaideep Varma is a writer-filmmaker whose documentary film “Leaving Home” won the National Award in 2011. He has also published a novel called “Local”.)

After Hulla and Leaving Home (documentary on Indian Ocean), filmmaker Jaideep Varma is busy working on his latest documentary film, Baavra Mann. And here’s a trailer of the film.

Here’s more info on the trailer and the film from its youtube account – A trailer of the rough cut of the full-length documentary feature, “Baavra Mann – a film on Sudhir Mishra & other Indian realities”. A film not only on one of Mumbai cinema’s longest lasting and relevant filmmakers but through that prism on a declining cultural life in India.

Aha, finally some documentation of our cinema and some of its prominent voices. Whenever i think about Sudhir Mishra, i often wonder why is there no making of Hazaroon Khawshein Aisi. It’s such a terrific and landmark film, and has a great story behind it. That needs to be documented. Hopefully we will get to hear some bits in this docu.

This trailer surely looks interesting. Though my only concern is Sudhir Mishra is quite overexposed. If you have been tracking him or his films, you probably know everything about him. But it’s nice to see anecdotes about his personal life too. And the film seems to go beyond Sudhir Mishra and his films. So eagerly looking forward to it.

Our friends at DearCinema.com are trying something new. A dialogue series, and the first one is on November 18th, 2010 (Thursday). Read on for more details.

What : Sadak Chhaap Films presents DearCinema Dialogue Series on “Crowd-funding: Raising Money from Public for Your Film”.

Meet and interact with Onir, Sanjay Suri and Sudhir Mishra and get all your queries answered on Independent filmmaking this Thursday,

When : November 18, 2010.

Where : Screen 5, PVR, Juhu

How : Registration begins at: 9:30 AM at Level 3, PVR Cinema, Juhu

Registration Fee: Rs. 500/-

For more, you can write to: registration@dearcinema.com

The registration fee might seem bit much but if it works out well, things might change from the next event. So, do attend and spread the word. See you there!

Aha, finally its here. The trailer of Sudhir Mishra’s new film Yeh Saali Zindagi is out. It stars Irfan Khan, Chitrangada Singh, Arunoday Singh, Aditi Rao Hydari ( Woohoo – Remember the best thing about Delhi 6 ? ), Sourabh Shukla, Sushant Singh and Yashpal Sharma. It seems to be in the zone of Mishra’s earlier film Is Raat Ki Subah Nahi. The trailer looks kickass!

The news came as a big shock. Last week he gave an interview saying how he was preparing to direct a film. Infact, he was in Nainital for the recce of the same film. But seems fate had some other plans. Who would have thought! For all the laughs and for all the magic on silversceen, thanks Mr Baswani. RIP.

And for all you fans of Ravi Baswani & Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron, here is some priceless stuff – the making of the film from CNN IBN’s Bollywood Blockbusters series. The cast and crew on the cult classic of our time…the untold tales. Mann me hai vishwaas..poora hai vishwaas.

We are back! Yes, we know you guys missed us a lot. But what to do, we were busy with life. A separate post coming up soon on matters of life and more.

Sudhir Mishra is ready with his new film, starring Irrfan Khan, Chitrangada Singh and Arunoday Singh. Woohoo! Set in Delhi, its written by Manu Rishi. Though we dont know much about the story of the film yet but it seems to be on the lines of Mishra’s Iss Raat Ki Subah Nahi.

But Mishra is confused on the title front. The film was earlier titled Dil dar-ba-dar or DDBD! But it seems, by popular demand now the title might be changed to Yeh Saali Zindagi. Wondering why ? Because…

Zindagi pe tera mera kisi ka na zor hai…

hum sochte kuch aur hai….woh saali sochti kuch aur hai….

yeh saali zindagi…yeh saali zindagi…..

Yes, that’s the lyrics of the title song of the film. Its by Swanand Kirkire and music is by Shantanu Moitra. Sudhir has also released a small clip from the film to give you a feel of the film. Do watch and help him decide, whats better – Dil Dar-ba-dar or Yeh Saali Zindagi ?

Our vote goes for DDBD! Plus it seems like an ode to the cult classic Om Dar-ba-dar. If you haven’t seen it yet, you seriously have missed something. But then, Yeh Saali Zindagi seems catchy too, and if the duo Swanand-Shantanu has delivered a tkiller title track like Khoya Khoya Chand again, then YSZ would be damn good! Aha, we are also getting confused. Why blame only poor Sudhir Mishra for getting in that confused state! Plus any buzz for an indie film is always good!