Queen Bee Kangana had good helper bees


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OMG, did I love this movie!  Queen has supersized Bollywood in regard to good contemporary female roles. We watch  Rani. (Kanagana Ranaut) brilliantly evolving from a place of innocence and learned helplessness vis-a-vis men,  to resilience and newly conquered strengths. Most movies that succeed in doing so don’t dare to combine drama with comedy. Queen does. That’s why you walk out uplifted and hopeful. Which, let’s face it, is the ultimate success formula. The beast (of your fears) is conquered. Off to new lands.

Many Indian movies I have seen, do the opposite. They start out uplifting and then start sagging through the second half, with intro of unforeseen dramatic events. Queen goes the other way. We start emphasizing with sweet and innocent Rani, who gets dumped a day before her wedding.What exactly motivates her to go on her honeymoon by herself, isn’t very clear, or maybe it is that seed of rebellion against becoming a victim and after locking herself in a room reliving her relationship with fiancee Vijay (Rajkummar Rao) in her mind. She remembers all that was good, and it’s breaking our hearts.

When the wedding banner “Rani Weds Vijay” gets thrown into the garbage, unknownst to her, her will to live, despite this obvious downfall, takes the upper hand. She reemerges from her 2 day exile and soon after, with the support of her loving family, she boards the plane to Paris.

Here she gets forced out of her protected childhood shell and has to switch gear to survival mode. This never comes easy. But in this movie it’s plastered with funny episodes. You cheer for Rani, you laugh with Rani and you see the West through her eyes. But contrary to many Indian films that make all Westerners and foreigners look like devils reincarnate, there is only one mean guy who she encounters. And she triumphs. Thank you, Vikas Bahl, for your kind portrayal of all foreigners in this movie. Makes it unique.

The whole cast in this movie is OUTSTANDING!! from mom, dad, grandmother and lil bro to all the people she encounters abroad. A well-chosen cast! Kudos to Parita Mandalia and Atul Mongic, (mentioned as the casting team in the credits). They found the quintessential Indian family in , people I would like to have as my family and everybody should have in their closet.. they are kind and understanding and supportive. Don’t you just love the father, played by Yogendra Tiku, the mom, (Alka Badola Kaushal), the rocking grandma (Tripita Lakhshanpal) and the lovable brother Chintu (Chinmaya Agarwal).

From Wild Wild Paris we follow Rani to Wild Wild Amsterdam, where she courageously dorms with her new pals Taka, Tim and aka Sikander (Jeffrey Ho, Joseph Guitobh, Mish Bogko) and emulates Emraan Hashmi’s lip-to-lip with restaurateur Marcello (Canadea Lopez Marco).

What I love most about her is that she never becomes anybody else. She sticks to her Rani-ness, to her Indian-ness throughout her journey of self-realization. She doesn’t alter her standards. She stays her ground and only becomes stronger. She learns about her fears. She also now opens her mind to seeing the ‘real Vijay’, his narrow-minded self. Rani sheds embellishments, biases, fears and returns to the fuzzy womb of her family invigorated and self-assured. Ready for the challenges of independence and freedom.

Every time I watched the movie, I discovered sth else, little symbolic gestures. Like the light that goes dark momentarily during the wedding dress rehearsal. Just like Rani’s life gets darkened by a cloud that then lifts and gives rise to a beautiful new day.

When best buddy Vijaylakshmi (Lisa Haydon) enters the room and the wind tousles her hair and reaches the impatiently waiting father and son duo, who want to get a glimpse of the beautiful and carefree Vijaylakshmi. So tender.

The cinematography and direction is flawless. Vikas Bahl has made it to the top. Thank you, Vikas, Kangana, everybody.

AND not to forget, letting us indulge in the foodie waves filling the theater with the spices and aromas of India, and glimpses of Her Majesty, Paris, and  Amsterdam in her upper and underworld glory. What a fun ride this was!

Countdown to November 15th: Ram Leela


 

Unconfirmed news of Ranveer Singh and Deepika Padukone’s dating popping up at every corner. The boy keeps busy, eh? That’s good news. The better and more important thing is, after watching the trailer we are all hyped up over Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s new film “Ram Leela”, which promises to score high on every Bollywood entertainment value. A hot hero, a cool heroine, a grand masala of action and romance: YES. That’s what we Bollywood aficionados are waiting for all year long. And it’s coming to hit us November 15th.

How do we know it’s going to be a spectacular movie? Easy. Sanjay Bhansali is a seasoned director/writer and producer. Whatever this magician touches starts to glow. His sets are lavish, exuberant, his actors inspired and becoming bigger versions of themselves.

Khamoshi: The Musical 1996

Straight From the Heart 1999

Devdas 2002

Black 2005

Saawariya 2007

Guzaarish 2010

 

 

 

 

 

PS, Dear Mr. Sanjay Leela Bansali

I could never forgive you  though the tremendous faux pas in Straight From the Heart. Filming in Budapest, using famous landmarks, whatsmore, and pretending it’s Italy… where we see mostly blond people strolling around in Lederhosen!!! supposed to be Milano? sorry but yeh Italy main nahi hai….  nor do we wear Lederhosen. Try Armani.

 

 

Okay, I got it finally off my chest :-) it’s been bothering me for years

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shruti Haasan’s day in the sun


Shruti Haasan is finally back in Bollywood, and with two releases! I saw her last in the movie Luck (2009). The movies wasn’t  impressive, but Shruti had touched me. It was her first major role, and I thought to myself what a pity her debut was overshadowed by a mess of a movie, poorly written and executed. She showed promise tho, I thought,  and then I hadn’t heard about her anymore. Not that she hadn’t been active.  She is also a singer and a composer, and she appeared in a few South Indian movies, (those that hardly ever get shown here in the US).She had a small role in Bhandarkar’s movie Dil Toh Baccha Hai Ji. But nothing commensurate with her talent.

Shruti had some corrective cosmetic surgery done, more plainly: a nose-job, but surely the size of a nose doesn’t determine if one can act or not. And acting she can! She is sublime. There is an ethereal quality to her. Her eyes are magnetic. She has a wonderful screen presence. I haven’t seen Ramaiya Vastavaiya but I saw D-Day yesterday. And again, she stood out and left a mark as Suraiya, victim of abuse, turned prostitute. There is some stillness in her amongst the turmoil of the unfolding story. Again, it’s her performance that touched me. The eloquence of her eyes, her voice. I love this girl. I am almost tempted to watch Ramayia Vastavaiya, in spite of the negative reviews.  I would watch it just for her.

Born into an elite acting household, daughter of legendary South Indian actor Kamal Hassan and Sarika Thakur,actress in her own rights, she must have eaten filmi rootis for breakfast every day. She was probably immersed in all aspects of film from an early age on. As a matter of fact, I learned, she started out as a singer.

Read up more about her on her Wiki page..wiki/ Shruti Haasan

 

I hope we are going to see more of her in the future!

Srk’s bundle of joy, AbRam.


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Amidst all the noise that has been going around, the sweetest is the one made by our new-born baby, AbRam.

He was born prematurely by several months but has finally come home.

Gauri and our whole family have been dealing with his health issues for a long time now.

As a family our silence on this subject has been because of the personal nature of emotional strife that we have been going through due to his health.

We wish to make a special mention and thank Dr. Jatin Shah for his expertise and contribution. We also wish to thank all the other doctors, nurses and medical staff who have made his life possible. As trying were the times, we never lost hope that life always brings with it.

Just to put the record straight there was no sex determination for our child. The baby was born much before the speculations of ‘sex determination’ and other ‘issues’ pertaining to the same were being raised in the media by some organisations.

Suffice to say his coming home puts to rest completely false and at times insensitive claims of sex determination and alleged illegalities.

We also apologise to all those other doctors and hospitals who had to face unwanted scrutiny and questioning by some parties.

Our son is a surrogate baby and the entire process is bound by strict confidentiality. We would appeal to all, to allow us to cherish this private moment as a family.

It seems unfortunate that I have to explain/clarify so many aspects for our new-born baby. Wish it were just a simple message of happiness on behalf of the family.

They say a baby is God’s opinion that the world should go on. Post this statement, I hope we all move on too.

 

 

I have been too busy apparently watching the movies  to keep check on sensational Bollywood news, such as this. Shahrukh and Gauri welcoming a surrogate baby.

When did THAT happen? how? is the birth mother related to either of them? did they have to shop for a surrogate? is the baby half Srk’s or half Gauri’s? Where have I been, on Mars?

However that may be, I understand the longing for a baby when you start hitting middle age. Young children keep you young in spirit, mind and physically fit (running after them 24/7) Babies rock. They are symbols of hope, of future, testaments of love, sharing, giving.

Mubarak to Shahrukh and Gauri, welcoming baby joy AbRam after much worries into their home and hearts. At the end of the day all DNA questions are irrelevant. A new life emerged and a boy is going to be loved and cherished in one of India’s most illustrious families. May AbRam grow up healthy and happy! The road ahead of him is already shining in the limelight.

And the kids must be ecstatic too.

 

Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani, a Bollywood quilt


Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani or formerly known as….

Each little patch of this quilt reminded me of some other Bollywood movies. or respectively reversing situations not to get blamed for plagiarism. I got caught in some vague deja-vus, reminiscent moments of Barfi, Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, Jab We Met and a gazillion revamped Bollywood cliches.. Plus: we  were  looking for hints about the REAL relationship between Deepika and Ranbir, the actors, not actees. We are curious, of course. Or, at least, I am. To a certain degree. After what transpired on the Koffee with Karan episode…

Hey, good news, you can take Grandma and Grandpa to see Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani. They might object to the excessive alcohol consumption (they will need to complain about something, all right?) but there is no nudity nor smoking (hence no prior obligatory 10min graphic lung cancer commercial) and the screen kiss between Ranbir and Deepika won’t make anybody’s cherry pop by a mile.

In this charming coming of age saga, because charming it is, some people know what they want to do when they grow up, some don’t. Luckily for us, Ranbir, sorry, Bunny,  likes to travel. Deepika plays the studious pre-med Naina, who nobody notices because she is oh so shy. After graduating high school, the otherwise bookish Naina spontaneously decides to join a group of friends,  Aditi  (played by wild thing Kalki Koechlin) and Avi, (played by BW’s new hunk Aditya Roy Kapoor), and of course playboy Bunny (Ranbir Kapoor)  on a trek to Manali. Tip for Bunny: If you intend to hike mountains, preferably leave your 2feetx 2feet photo album behind. Bunny has his handy,  even on the peak of the highest mountain. It made me think, why not bring a sofa?

Well, guys, I don’t want to give too much away. See for yourself how high school dreams and first loves turn out eight years later. It’s an easygoing feel-good romance, with some great locations, fantastic backdrops which make you want to explore more of India’s treasures rather than travel abroad.

This movie has no great highs or great lows, other than mountain peaks and valleys, but the performances are fresh and alluring.

One thing that ticked me off and I need to get it off my chest:: We don’t get the pleasure watching Deepika practicing medicine, as the most accomplished member of the group. Eight years later she has a medical degree, but still sits at home watching TV? The camera follows Bunny’s cam through the second half of the movie..

Ayan Mukerjii, the director, who directed also Wake Up, Sid, is first and second counsin of Kajol and Rani Mukerji. And I bet even they would have liked to see a little bit more focus on the heroine’s accomplishment. But hey, I understand, you can’t drag guys into a movie where the heroine is the success story. Let’s dumb her down to manageable size.

But then calling the protagonist Bunny… ? I don’t know anymore what message this movie sends :-p nor what happened to the ghosts on the mountain and why they didn’t show up to stir a little drama for special effects

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The Future (hopefully) Toh Bright Hai Ji – for Sanjay Amar.


 

Future Toh Bright Hai Ji is a refreshing Indian slapstick comedy of the sort I would like to see more of. It’s listed as drama, inexplicably. Okay, satire maybe, but drama? I had the best time watching this movie. It was funny and uplifting.

Aamir Bashir as Ajay and Sonal Sehgal as Sonia kill it as a struggling writer and  B starlet in an Indian Soap, two Kashmir ex-pats who dream of making it in Bollywood.

Married four years and tired of living in a crappy apartment in a crappy section of Mumbai with work opportunities going nowhere, an incidental visit to an astrologer who promises them a turnaround of their lives within seven days, we follow the young couple through the maze of bureaucracy and the threat of the underworld and more. This movie becomes a rollercoast ride through urban culture and the spontaneity of Aamir Bashir’s and Sonal Sehgal’s acting just brings it home what it means to be small timers in Mumbai’s bubbling entertainment industry. “Think Big, not Small” says the agent to Ajay as she is rejecting his script. This might be a small independent film but it shines pretty bright for its size.

Future Toh Bright Hai Ji is a great ensemble effort. It’s loaded with personable characters that stay with you. Not to be missed.

I put my money on Sanjay Amar, the writer/ director of this refreshing tale. If he is dreaming big, he might very well be on his way :-) If you enjoy Indian new wave cinema, you are going to enjoy this one.

Cast & Crew

Cast

  1. Aamir Bashir
  2. Sonal Sehgal
  3. Asrani
  4. Satish Kaushik
  5. Vipin Sharma
  6. Delnaaz Irani

Directors

  1. Sanjay Amar

Producers

  1. Rama Mehrotra

Writers

  1. Sanjay Amar

New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA) inducts Mira Nair into its Hall of Fame


image found at asiasociety.org

A well deserved honor for the accomplished Orissa-born filmmaker.  Mira Nair was my introduction into Indian films in 1991, watching Mississippi Masala with a young Denzel Washington and Sarita Choudhury. I still love this movie. And I love Mira Nair, whose voice is bold, unapologetic and poetic at the same time. The Namesake is perhaps my favorite. I must have watched it 100 times over.  Mira Nair work covers two continents, the merging of cultures, ancient and new.  She weaves together the different tapestries, but her heart beats to the tabla and sings to the sitar.

Congrats, Mira Nair!!

 

 

 

 

NEW YORK FOUNDATION FOR THE ARTS INDUCTS
MICHAEL FINDLAY, ELLIOT GOLDENTHAL, MIRA NAIR AND FRED WILSON
INTO THE NYFA HALL OF FAME

NYFA Hall of Fame Benefit
The New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA) is proud to announce that author and co-director of the Acquavella Gallery Michael Findlay, composer Elliot Goldenthal, filmmaker Mira Nair and visual artist Fred Wilson will be inducted into the NYFA Hall of Fame on Tuesday, April 23rd at Espace (635 West 42nd Street). The evening begins at 6:30 with a cocktail reception featuring interactive art by past and current NYFA grantees, followed by dinner and remarks from all the honorees. Tickets start at $500 and tables at $5,000; tickets for the Young Patrons After party, which begins at 9:30, are $250. Tickets and tables at all levels can be purchased at www.nyfa.org.

The NYFA Hall of Fame was created to both honor the work of artists to whom NYFA provided critical support early in their careers and recognize philanthropists and patrons of the arts who have had an impact of the City’s cultural community. Past honorees include: Elizabeth Diller and Ricardo Scofidio; Todd Haynes; Christian Marclay; Kathleen O’Grady; Suzan-Lori Parks; Wendy Perron; Ben Rodriguez-Cubenas, and Andres Serrano. Bios of 2013 inductees:

Michael Findlay (Patron of the Arts) is the Co-Director of Acquavella Galleries, which specializes in Impressionist and Modern European works of art and post-war American painting and sculpture. In 1973 Findlay helped organize an art auction at Sotheby Parke-Bernet to benefit survivors of the Nicaraguan earthquake and since then has been involved in many such fund-raising activities. As Vice President of the Art Dealers Association of America, Findlay assisted in the recent appeal that raised over a million dollars to benefit non-profit and commercial galleries devastated by Hurricane Sandy. His book The Value of Art was published by Prestel Publishing in 2012. Mr. Findlay will be introduced by visual artist Billy Sullivan.

Elliot Goldenthal (NYFA Fellow in Music Composition, 1989) creates works for orchestra, theater, opera, ballet and film. Most recently he scored Julie Taymor’s film version of The Tempest. In 2003, he was honored with the Academy Award and a Golden Globe Award for the score to Taymor’s film Frida. In 2006, Goldenthal’s original two-act opera Grendel, directed by Taymor, premiered at the Los Angeles Opera and was a finalist for the 2006 Pulitzer Prize in music. He was commissioned by the American Ballet Theatre to compose a three-act ballet of Othello, which debuted at the Metropolitan Opera in May 1997. Additionally, Goldenthal has been nominated for three Oscars, two Golden Globe Awards, three Grammy Awards and two Tony Awards. Mr. Goldenthal will be introduced by soprano Jessye Norman.

Mira Nair (NYFA Fellow in Film, 1988) is the writer, director, and producer. At the University of Delhi she started out in the theater department acting, but turned to photography and eventually to documentary filmmaking at Harvard.

Read more >>
Mira Nair’s filmography
2013 Words with Gods (segment “God Room”) (post-production)

2009 Amelia

2009 New York, I Love You (segment “Mira Nair)

2008 8 (segment “How can it be?”)

2008/I Migration (short)

2002 September 11 (segment “India”)

2002 Hysterical Blindness (TV movie)

2001 The Laughing Club of India (TV documentary short)

1998 My Own Country (TV movie)

1987 Children of a Desired Sex (TV documentary)

1985 India Cabaret (TV documentary)

1983 So Far from India (documentary)

1979 Jama Masjid Street Journal (documentary)