Lootera, enchanted.


Get ready for some arresting, beautifully filmed images and songs that will melt your heart away.

Sonakshi Sinha has never been more charming and Ranveer Singh makes us fall in love with him all over again in Lootera.

Not only does the movie take place in 1953, it gives you the feeling  you are watching a movie of that era. It flows easy and gently through the first half, a romantic lullaby. It picks up drama and temporarily pace, only to level out again. The last quarter is quiet and introspective. No great Dabanggs here. Inner turmoils. A tale of redemption, of love conquers all and makes wrongs right.

The movie is set in West Bengal and captures the essence of Bengali films. It reminded my of the quietness of deep mountain lakes. You jolt a stone and it will create gentle ripples on the surface whilst it cuts through the deep waters, never to touch bottom.

Sonakshi Sinha graces each frame with her quintessentially Indian beauty. She conjures images of goddesses. As if somebody rubbed an oil-lamp, releasing a genie. She is greeting you from old paintings of a bygone era.  Sonaskhi is so beautiful you want to freeze time to keep her that way forever. I will always want to see her draped in colorful saris, not in skimpy Kareena outfits. The role of Pakhi was written for her.  I was glad to hear that she quit her agent over the refusal to take part in “Welcome.”  She is a character actress like Vidya Balan, a powerhouse, wasted on dumbed down movies. She should be weighing carefully her roles and remain true to herself.

Ranveer Singh plays his character Varun with depth and complexity.  Not to say I was surprised. I loved his nonchalance, energy and charisma  in Band Baaja Barat. This role as Varun,brings out a new side to him, the turmoiled, torn, emotionally charged.  Ranveer reminded me of Ralph Fiennes in The English patient, when he opened the door of his room to Pakhi. Or Ruldolfo Valentino in The Sheik. I bet every woman’s heart stood still for a moment.  This movie is heartbreakingly beautiful. I savored each minutet. Maybe it’s also the nostalgia of going back in time, before computers, before cell phones. A movie without the gadgets of our time felt so good all for sudden. Life seemed so different then.

If you want to spoil it for yourself, read all the reviews and storyline upfront. Or don’t ready anything about it and let the movie do its magic.

In a nutshell, a young archeologist, Varun Shrivastav (Ranveer Singh), comes with a friend  to excavate a temple site situated on grounds of a local Zamindar. He gains his trust and confidence of the kind Zamindar’s , whose most valuable asset is his daughter Pakhi (Sonakshi Sinha). Her feeble health is of great concern to him. From the first encounter  Pakhi feels increasingly drawn to  Varun and falls under his spell.  He is not what he seems to be though and things take an ugly turn.

If you are a guy, who loves action movies, don’t watch this movie. If you suffer from attention deficit disorder, don’t watch this movie. If you haven’t slept in days, bring a comfort pillow.

It’s a good date movie, if you want to reach out to the woman of your dreams. You might get lucky.

Writer/director Vikramaditya Motwane is a filmmaker after my heart. He has shown his talent with Udaan and DevD. He has worked on Devdas (2002) as associate director, as the choreographer in Water (2005)  and it must have inspired him. This movie is ripe with the tone and color of those two films, but Lootera is his masterwork.

I hope the movie makes it to the Oscar’s.

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)

2013 NY Indian Film Festival from April 30- May 4th


New York Indian Film Festival 2012
13th Annual NEW YORK INDIAN FILM FESTIVAL
April 30 – May 4, 2013

SCREENING SCHEDULE

DEKH TAMASHA DEKH

DEKH TAMASHA DEKH

Tuesday, April 30, 2013, 6:00 pm, Skirball Center for Performing Arts.
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Dekh Tamasha Dekh
Directed by Feroze Abbas Khan.
India 2012, 108 Minutes, Hindi with English Subtitles.
World Premiere
Cast: Satish Kaushik, Tanvi Azmi, Vinay Jain, Sharad Ponkshe, Ganesh Yadav, Apoorva Arora, Alok Rajwade
.

The story revolves around the search for the religious identity of a poor man crushed under the weight of a politican’s hoarding. A social and political satire, the film explores the impossible India, where bizarre is normal.

Feroz Abbas Khan Director’s Bio: At the forefront of Indian theatre today, Feroz Abbas Khan is recognized as much for exploring new forms, as for bringing Hindi theatre, mainstream recognition. In a career spanning more than two decades, he has directed some of India’s finest acting talent, both from stage and cinema. In line with a belief, that any pursuit of excellence, must go parallel to continued relevant social contribution; Feroz Abbas Khan’s theatre company has been silently but significantly associated with various committed social organizations; supporting and helping them raise funds and awareness. As the first Festival Director of the prestigious Prithvi Theatre in Mumbai, the throbbing hub of the young, the talented and the restless; Feroz, along with the late Jennifer Kapoor spearheaded the International Prithvi Theatre Festival.


Pune 52 Wednesday, May 1, 2013, 6:00 pm, Theatre 1 at Tribeca Cinemas.
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Pune 52
Directed by Nikhil Mahajan.
India, 2012, Feature Film, 121 Minutes, Hindi with English subtitles.
United States Premiere
Cast- Girish Kulkarni, Kiran Karmarkar, Sai Tamhankar, Sonali Kulkarni
.

The life of a private detective undergoes a dramatic change when he takes up a case that is deeply personal and highly complex. Set in the year 1992, against the backdrop of the finance reform policy that spiraled the Indian Middle Class in a tizzy of consumerism, reforming everything, including their relationships, PUNE 52 is an heartbreaking love story blended in a edge of the seat thriller.

Nikhil Mahajan Director’s Bio: Nikhil Mahajan is a graduate in film direction from The International Film School Sydney, Australia, and comes from an academically inclined Middle class family. Growing up on Bollywood cinema, making films was possibly the only thing that Nikhil could imagine himself doing. Pune 52 is Nikhil’s first film.


the_only_real_game Thursday, May 1, 2013, 4:00 pm, Theatre 2 at Tribeca Cinemas.
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The Only Real Game
Directed by Mirra Bank.
India, 2012, Documentary, 82 Minutes, English and Manipuri with Subtitles.
World Premiere.

The movie explores the power of baseball for people in a troubled, distant place. The small, once princely state of Manipur in embattled northeast India, counters gun violence, poverty, corruption, drug traffic, and HIV/AIDS with its surprising passion for our National Pastime. Manipur, which shares a porous border with Burma, joined the Indian Union under pressure in 1949, triggering a corrosive separatist conflict that continues to this day. For decades baseball has delivered release from daily struggles and a dream for healing this wounded society, as well as a way to connect to the wider world.This dream moves toward reality when First Pitch, a small group of baseball-loving New Yorkers, and two Major League Baseball Envoy coaches, join Manipuri men, women and children to “Play Ball.”

Mirra Bank Director’s Bio: Mirra Bank directs film and theater. Her previous feature documentary, “Last Dance”, was short-listed for an Academy Award. Her innovative nonfiction feature, “Nobody’s Girls”, was a PBS primetime special; and her groundbreaking indie feature enormous changes premiered at Sundance, followed by a critically praised theatrical release. Bank has been honored with awards and production support from, among others: Corporation for Public Broadcasting, PBS, National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for the Humanities, NY State Council on the Arts, NY Foundation for the Arts, American Film Institute. Her films have premiered at festivals worldwide, including Edinburgh, NY Film Festival, Chicago, Seattle, Hawaii, AFI, Silverdocs, Final Frame, London, and Palm Springs.


B. A. Pass Wednesday, May 1, 2013, 9:00 pm, Theatre 2 at Tribeca Cinemas.
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B.A. PASS
Directed by Ajay Bahl.
India, 2012, 100 Minutes, Feature Film, Hindi with English subtitles.
New York Premiere.
Cast- Shilpa Shukla, Rajesh Sharma, Dibyendu Bhattacharya, Geeta Sharma, Shadab Kamal
.

A young small town boy moves to Delhi to stay with his aunt and finish his college. Soon a mysterious married woman seduces him known to him as Sarika ‘Aunty’. Set amidst the neon-lit by lanes of Delhi’s Paharganj unfolds an erotic human drama between the two. A relationship based on lust, lies and deceit is forged. As the young boy gets more and more entrenched into his surroundings he discovers a city that thrives on corrupting even the most naive and innocent.

Ajay Bahl Director’s Bio: Ajay Bahl grew up in the city of Delhi and was a state level cricketer in his teen years, disillusioned by the corruption in sport he meandered into many different vocations before chancing upon a book on filmmaking at a friend’s house. He is a high school drop-out and a self-taught filmmaker, he began his career in the advertising industry in the year 2005, always more interested in narrative fiction he started his film production company Tonga Talkies in the year 2010 and after reading Mohan Sikka’s short story titled “The Railway Aunty” in the anthology “Delhi Noir”- HarperCollins 2010, Ajay acquired rights to make it into a feature which is now titled “B.A Pass”. It is his first narrative feature.


Much Ado About Knotting Thursday, May 2, 2013, 4:00 pm, Theatre 1 at Tribeca Cinemas.
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Much Ado About Knotting
Directed by Geetika Narang Abbasi and Anandana Kapur.
India, 2012, Short Film, 55 Minutes, English and Hindi.
World Premiere.

Born into a society obsessed with marriages, a young girl, a not-so-young man and an NRI (Non-Resident Indian) couple are compelled by tradition to look for matches via classifieds, matchmaking bureaus and websites. Confronted with innumerable criteria that determine who is acceptable and who isn’t, they question themselves and their choices. As they introspect, the melee of the matchmaking industry continues. At every turn, there are service providers who are ready to snoop, style and solicit potentials on their behalf. People are searching for the ideal one endlessly and the oft-heard question is – When are you getting married? Much Ado About Knotting is a lighthearted chronicle of this very predicament that almost every Indian faces.

Geetika Narang Abbasi Director’s Bio: Born and brought up in Delhi, India, Geetika Narang Abbasi pursued advertising after completing her graduation in English Literature from Delhi University. Soon, her love for films led her to the field of filmmaking. Having worked on various genres of filmmaking, from documentaries to TV commercials, she ventured into independent filmmaking with her first short fiction, the multiple award-winning Good Night (2008). Subsequently, she has edited and directed several documentaries that have been recognized and showcased nationally as well as internationally. Her next venture is a film about cross-border marriages between Indians and Pakistanis.

Anandana Kapur Anandana Kapur is an independent filmmaker and social scientist based out of New Delhi, India. She has previously worked in broadcast television and is a published author on Media, Art and Gender. As part of a cultural diversity initiative she holds lectures on Cinema and Culture for exchange students from US, Canada and Europe. Anandana is also a wiki-educator and her latest works include a group exhibition on Re-envisioning in Nicosia, Cyprus and the critically acclaimed and award-winning documentary The Great Indian Jugaad (2009). Anandana likes to travel, photograph and collect folklore. She is currently working on a film on grass roots innovation in India.


Much Ado About Knotting Center Piece Movie, Thursday, May 2, 2013, Tribeca Cinemas.
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Shahid
Directed by Hansal Mehta.
India, 2012, Feature Film, 123 Minutes, Hindi with English Subtitles.
New York Premiere.
Cast- Raj Kumar Yadav, PrabhleenSandhu, BaljinderKaur, Tigmanshu Dhulia, KK Menon.

“Shahid” traces the true story of slain human rights activist and lawyer ShahidAzmi. In the backdrop of communal violence that was unleashed on the city of Mumbai since 1993 we see a remarkable tale unfold. From attempting to become a terrorist to being wrongly imprisoned under a draconian anti-terrorism law to becoming a criminal lawyer Shahid traces the inspiring personal journey of a boy who became an unlikely messiah for human rights while following the rise of communal violence in India. The story of an impoverished Muslim struggling to come to terms with injustice, inequality and rising above his circumstances is an inspiring testament to the human spirit.

Hansal Director’s Bio: Hansal made his debut with Jayate (Victory, 1998), a languid tale on the Indian judiciary, medical malpractice and ordinary human lives in the city of Bombay. This was followed by the dark, tragic and funny DilPe Mat Le Yaar (Don’t Take It To Heart, 2000), a film that reflected Hansal’s concern for the increasingly marginalized immigrants in the city of Bombay. This film (and Hansal) ran into trouble with intolerant political parties in Bombay because of an innocuous section of dialog. Shahid (2012) is the result of this soul-searching mission and a return to roots for Hansal. Shahid is a deeply personal story that reflects Hansal’s anger and concern towards religious/class based/racial intolerance around the world.


Hansa Thursday, May 2, 2013, 4:00 pm, Theatre 2 at Tribeca Cinemas.
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Hansa
Directed by Manav Kaul.
India, 2012, Short Film, 88 Minutes, Hindi with English subtitles.
United States Premiere.
Cast- Kumud Mishra, Abhay Joshi, Trimala Adhikari, Bhushan Borgaonkar, Ghanshyam Lalsa, Ashish Pathode, Suraj Negi, Yogesh Kabadwal and Saurabh Nayyar.

The movie revolves around a little boy, Hansa and his sister, Cheeku. Their father has mysteriously disappeared while the mother is pregnant and about to deliver. Their father disappeared with outstanding loans and now it is left to young Cheeku has to prevent her house from getting sold and is at the receiving end of a powerful villager’s lecherous advances while little Hansa is too restless and distracted to pay attention to all the trouble his sister is facing. For Hansa his troubles revolve around a small red tennis ball which has got entangled in a huge inaccessible tree, a five rupee coin stolen from a local bully and all the travails of a boy and his closest friend Raku playing hokey from school and asking the time.

Manav Kaul Director’s Bio: Manav Kaul started his theatre career in Bhopal in the year 1994. He came to Mumbai in the year 2002 & along with a few friends formed “ARANYA Theatre Group” in 2004. The promise he showed as a young playwright with his first play ‘ShakkarKePaanchDaane’ in 2004 wasn’t misplaced.Manav is 37 years old & has written & directed 10 critically acclaimed plays in the last 8 years. His plays have been invited to most of the prestigious festivals in India & have been translated into English, Marathi & Bengali. Four of his plays have won awards at META (Mahindra excellence in theatre awards).


Jadoo Friday, May 3, 2013, 4:00 pm, Theatre 2 at Tribeca Cinemas.
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Jadoo
Directed by Amit Gupta.
India 2012, Feature Film, English and Hindi.
United States Premiere.
Cast- Amara Karan, Harish Patel, Kulvinder Ghir, Tom Mison, Madhur Jaffrey.

Two brothers, both wonderful chefs, fall out catastrophically. At the climax of their dispute they rip the family recipe book in half – one brother gets the starters and the other gets the main courses. They set up rival restaurants, across the road from each other, and spend the next twenty years trying to out-do each other. Neither brother will admit it but they both know they are not entirely successful in the ‘other half’ of the menu. It takes a daughter to reunite them. She is planning her marriage and is determined that they will both cook together. But can the men bury the hatchet?

Amit Gupta Director’s Bio: Amit directed Resistance starring Andrea Riseborough and Michael Sheen it was his debut feature film. Sharon Morgan won the BAFTA Cymru award for Best Actress and Amit has been nominated for the Best First Film award by the Writer’s Guild of Great Britain. Amit’s last play, Campaign, was part of the epic Great Game at the Tricycle Theatre and was nominated for a 2010 Olivier Award. After the acclaimed run in London, The Great Game toured some of the most prestigious theatres in the US including: The Shakespeare in Washington, The Guthrie in Minneapolis, Berkeley Repertory Theatre and The Public in New York. In February 2010 the play was performed for The Pentagon.


Investment Friday, May 3, 2013, 9:00 pm, Theatre 2 at Tribeca Cinemas.
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Investment
Directed by Ratnakar Matkari.
India 2012, Feature Film, 122 Minutes, Marathi with English Subtitles.
United States Premiere.
Cast- Praharsh Naik, Sanjay Mone, Sulabha Deshpande, Supriya Vinod, Tushar Dalvi.

Investment is a realistic, socially relevant and hard hitting film for the urban audience that can identify with its characters and the nature of the issues dealt within. The protagonists are a couple striving for greater ambitions, eager to move into a higher class of society, but at the cost of their social values. Their 12 year old son is being nurtured to become a politician, as the couple believes politics offers lucrative opportunities of growth, power and finance. The bratty son believes in always getting what he wants and his shocking involvement in a crime brings forth the changing face of today’s society and its uncertain future. It won The National Award for best Marathi Film in 2012.

Ratnakar Ramkrushna Matkari Director’s Bio: Ratnakar Ramkrushna Matkari is a Marathi writer, a movie and play producer/director, and a self-taught artist from Maharashtra, India.


When Hari Got Married Friday, May 4, 2013, 12:00 pm, Theatre 1 at Tribeca Cinemas.
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When Hari Got Married
Directed by Tenzing Sonam, RituSarin.
United Kingdom, India, Norway, Documentary, 2012, 75 Minutes, English with Foreign Subtitles.
United States Premiere.

When Hari, a small-town taxi driver, has an arranged marriage to a girl he has never met, the result is an intimate and humorous look at the changes taking place in India as modernity and globalization meet age-old traditions and customs.

Ritu Sarin and Tenzing Sonam Director’s Bio: Ritu Sarin and Tenzing Sonam have been making films on Tibetan subjects for more than 20 years. Through their work they have attempted to document, question, and reflect on, the issues of exile, cultural identity and political aspiration that confront the Tibetan diaspora.Working through their film company, White Crane Films, they have produced and directed several documentaries, including: The Reincarnation of Khensur Rinpoche (1991); The Trials of Telo Rinpoche (1993); A Stranger in My Native Land (1997); and The Shadow Circus: The CIA in Tibet (1998). In 2005, they completed a dramatic feature film, Dreaming Lhasa, executive produced by Jeremy Thomas and Richard Gere.


LISTEN AMAYA Friday, May 4, 2013, 12:00 pm, Theatre 2 at Tribeca Cinemas.
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Listen Amaya
Directed by Avinash Kumar Singh.
India, 2012, Feature Film, 108 Minutes, Hindi with English Subtitles.
New York Premiere.
Cast- Farouque Shaikh, Deepti Naval, Swara Bhaskar, Amala Akkineni, Siddhant Karnick, Vidya Bhushan, Viren Basoya

Listen Amaya is a modern, young, contemporary film about relationships, family dynamics, about pre-conceptions and about priorities. Book a coffee, is an offbeat library cum coffee shop. It is owned and run by LeelaKrishnamoorthy, a middle aged widow. She herself is as interesting and free spirited as the café she runs! Amaya, Leela’s only child is a firebrand 22 year-old writer; quick witted, confident and open-minded. They adore each other as only mother daughter can. Into this mix, is thrown JayantSinha. A 60 year old retired photographer, who continues his chosen profession as a hobby today. He is passionate about people and the memories they create; he is also a great friend to Amaya Krishnamoorthy, with whom he decides to co-author a coffee table book, titled Memories…of The Busy Bazaar. The Busy Bazaar as a title has its own story and adds a subtle but intriguing undercurrent to the narrative woven around it.

Ritu Sarin and Tenzing Sonam Director’s Bio: Avinash started in Television in 1998, as a researcher. Albeit a very keen researcher! With a natural flair for writing, it led to many opportunities behind the camera(s) and then in front of the same. Being an anchor on channels such as the BBC and Star, whet his appetite, but also showed Avinash where his heart truly lay.Having seen both sides of the coin, Avinash then began to write and direct. Setting up a production house with his wife, along with a small but extremely talented group of individuals, Turtle on a Hammock Films grew in stature and capabilities with the work that came out of their stables, across channels such as Discovery and numerous other clients. Avinash’s directorial debut, a fantastic drama, set in urban Delhi with a stellar cast is now released theatrically across India, to great critical and public acclaim.


Filmistan Closing Night Movie, Friday, May 4, 2013, 6:00 pm at Skirball Center for Performing Arts.
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Filmistan
Directed by Nitin Kakkar.
India 2012, 117 Minutes, Hindi with English Subtitles.
United States Premiere.
Cast- Sharib Hashmi, Kumud Mishra, Gopal Datt, Inaamulhaq

This National Award winning movie is set in Mumbai where, affable Bollywood buff and wanna-be-actor Sunny, who works as an assistant director, fantasizes on becoming a heart-throb star. However, at every audition he is summarily thrown out. Undeterred, he goes with an American crew to remote areas in Rajasthan to work on a documentary. One day an Islamic terrorist group kidnaps him for the American crew-member. Sunny finds himself on enemy border amidst guns and pathani-clad guards, who decide to keep him hostage until they locate their original target. The house in which he is confined belongs to a Pakistani, whose trade stems from pirated Hindi films, which he brings back every time he crosses the border. Soon, the two factions realize that they share a human and cultural bond. The film shows how cinema can be the universal panacea for co-existence.

Nitin Kakkar Director’s Bio: Born in Mumbai to a photographer father in 1975, NitinKakkar grew up on a staple diet of Bollywood. After gaining experience as an assistant director for Hindi movies, NitinKakkar made his directorial debut with the award-winning short film BLACK FREEDOM (2004). Since then, he has worked on a number of television projects including. ‘FILMISTAAN’ is his debut Feature film. It received a Special Jury Mention during its World Premiere at the Busan International Film Festival and embarking on its international tour, the film won him Best Debut Director at the International Film Festival of Kerala and Jaipur International Film Festival.

The Indo-American Arts Council is a 501 ©3 not-for-profit secular arts organization passionately dedicated to promoting, showcasing and building an awareness of artists of Indian origin in the performing arts, visual arts, literary arts and folk arts. For information please visit www.iaac.us. All contributions to the IAAC are tax-deductible to the fullest extent allowable by law.

Indo-American Arts Council Inc. 517 East 87th St, Suite 1B, New York, NY 10128. Phone: 212 594 3685. Web: www.iaac.us

Satyagraha and Prakash Jha: Bollywood’s voice of conscience


satyagraha-movie-wallpaper-2013
For his new film Satyagraha (which means literally zeal for truth and refers to a non-violent, gandhi-esque type of resistence), Prakash Jha isn’t only constructing a whole filmi city in Bhopal, where he has rented a couple of acres for the whole duration of the shoot, he also gives extensive workshops to locals, who will be acting in his film. The use of local actors always conveys the feel of authenticity to his movies, a raw energy that permeates every facet of his films.
He has roped in some mega stars as his protagonists in Satyagraha: Amitabh Bachchan (who had starred in Jha’s Aarakshan) , Ajay Devgan (Apaharan, Rajneeti) , Kareena Kapoor,  and Arjun Rampal (Rajneeti, Chakravyuh)

Zeal for truth, this could be Prakash Jha’s red thread common to all his socio-politically charged movies. Sometimes I wonder why men like him aren’t in government positions, then again, not everyone wants to swim with sharks).

 

Find out more about him on Wikipedia:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prakash_Jha

 

 

 

Ram Gopal Varma’s film based on “The Attacks of 26/11”


a date that will live on in infamy in India, remembered for its senseless bloodshed.  At least 164 died that day in a hail of AK gunfire, and close to 300 were injured. The terrorist attacks were minutely orchestrated and executed by members of the Pakistan-based militant organization Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), showing no mercy on men, women, children, the sick, the old, the innocent,  Hindu, Christians and even Muslims. Not even street dogs are spared.. The message is to spread terror and instill fear.

Ram Gopal Varma conveys that brutality in his movie 26/11 convincingly. The movie opens at the trial with the testimony of the Joint Police Commissioner played by Nana Patekar before it cuts to the action that we all await with pounding hearts in memory of those painful days in Mumbai in the fall of 2008.

A fishermen’s boat being is captured by a group of men with blood on their mind. Hat off to Ram Gopal Varma. The early scenes on open sea and as the determined and blood-thirsty jihadists make it to shore are foreboding, bone-chilling. Numbing. Evil taking over. That moment right there, the fishermen chatting on about their lives, simple men working hard to eke out a living. A boat approaches from far with someone waving a white flag signaling distress. A short and brutal take-over. Knowing what is to come, the audience is shrouded in helplessness. Ram Gopal Varma has us in his hands.

We get a first glimpse at Sanjeev Jaiswal as Kasab, the lone gunman brought to justice later on. Jaiswal dominates the second half of the movie with his unbelievably powerful performance.

Meanwhile the dangerous, cold blooded fire in the eyes of the jihadists is grabbing us by our throats. As we watch the first wave of slaughter taking place offshore in deep waters and almost feel in flesh the fear and helplessness of the fishing crew, all of whom will perish, it fills you with disgust and rage seeing the perpetrators change into outfits of regular tourists, who could be easily mistaken for a group of high-school friends coming to town for an innocuous sightseeing tour. Only instead of notebooks and travel guides they carry AK47s which they now start to unleash in unprecedented fashion on innocent Mumbaites, targeting at least six different locations.

The city is under siege for the next three days. But RGV is not guiding us through the whole process and exact events. He gives us an idea about the first hours and what they looked like. The Leopold Cafe, the Taj Mahal Grand Hotel, the Chhatrapati Shivaji train station, the Cama Hospital, the taxi, who is picking up the group with Mohammed the driver who gets later on blown up into pieces. No one is spared in the bloodbath that unfolds..

This is Ram Gopal Varma’s most powerful film to date. Even though I felt it stopped in its path by dedicating too little time on the whole event, which encompassed a couple of days. It would have been probably too grand of a task to film a Taj Mahal Hotel engulfed in flames, how the terrorists went from room to room through the whole building lining up hostages. So many stories of heroism and victimization untold…voices who would have had merit to be heard. Instead Varma takes a different route. He cuts short to the capture of Kasab and the second half it becomes Kasab’s story.  Sanjeev Saiswal’s intensity  reminded me of some of the most epic moments in film, the greatness of actors like Toshiro Mifune. Makeup and cinematography and his acting it all comes together in a torrent that washes you away like a tsunami. The one weakness the film has, it can’t hold the bundled up tension together, it becomes preachy and verbose as the Police Commisisoner starts philosophizing over the true meaning of the Quran and Jihad. Even though the message is well taken, and Nana Patekar delivers a fine performance here, the movie would have been much stronger without a sermon at the end. Do we need to rehabilitate jihadists on death-row? show them there are no virgins no baths in milk and honey, only scores of victims cursing them out in the afterlife? Any wannabe Jihadist will walk out of the movie or turn off the TV. Sometimes messages clouded in silence speak actually louder. The scene where Kasab is seen thrown on the corpses of his comrades was powerful enough in itself. It didn’t need any dialogue.

So I would have preferred more time dedicated to actual facts and events, which were kind of hushed over and lingered in question marks in my head as I was walking out of the movie. I felt that one third of the entire film was MIA, due to perhaps budgetary restraints or were left behind on the cutting board. Despite some of its weaknesses, this film is incredible and the most powerful moments have etched themselves already into my memory files.

and one question at the end I want to ask RGV: did he bring a vet to the set who knocked out the dog temporarily? or more permanently? I’d like to know. Usually you will see a “no animal was hurt” – maybe I missed it?

“Shootout at Wadala” already making waves


I love Indian crime stories. They are gritty, messy, wild, passionate. In the US they are polished, predictable and boring. Bharat mein, pre-release there are always some little scandals surfacing, pushing much awaited release dates back. Personally I believe that monies might get shoved under some tables to make more people happy.This is India, afterall, where honey cakes get divided, or else!!

Shootout at Wadala is no exception. but it’s not about release dates but rather it might step on some sensitive toes in the underworld.  specifically, we hear,  Dawood Ibrahim Kaskar is not happy with his depiction by Sonu Sood :-) so there, let’s quickly change the character’s name..we don’t want Ibrahim to be sulking.

I just ordered the book the movie is based on. Dongri to Dubai  by Hussain Zaidi at amazon. I hope it’s not written in Hindi :-) i did it a bit in a hurry.

Directed by Sanjay Gupta, close friend of Sanjay Dutt, who was proofreading the script and exclaiming here and there,” no it wasn’t like that at all!” I am making fun of course, Sanjay Dutt has no connections to the underworld whatsoever.

What I am looking forward to is John Abraham and not because of his muscles displays. He is just getting better and better with every film. more forceful, more powerful, more convincing. He can play the phonebook, he’s good at comedy at action at drama at romance.  John Abraham is maturing like a good bottle of Bordeaux. And boy, I wish I had him in my wine cellar. I want to add, I very much enjoyed his first gig at producer, Vicky Donor, it was a hilarious movie. (btw, i think Hollywood might have stolen the idea, just saw a trailer yesterday which reminded me very much of Vicky Donor, a bit too much! )

Most of all,  I love John’s naughty little smirk. but that’s just an afterthought….

 

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Anurag Kashyap part of Sundance jury


This is fantastic news indeed.   Finally somebody here in the US paid attention.  Showing   Gangs of Wasseypur in Cannes earlier this year and then in Toronto opened new doors. To have him part of the jury will make me follow the festival with even greater interest.  Kashy could be very instrumental in regard to exporting Indian film to the US..  I hope he makes great connections at Sundance because there is a lot to be said about the under-representation of Indian film here, starting with distribution, advertisement…
it always aggravates me that Indian films are ignored on a lot of sites and even listed in the category of Foreign Film. eg Netflix, moviefone IMDb upcoming releases. Nada. Zilch.. Poorly reviewed and misunderstood.  People wrongly associate Indian film with just romance and song and dance. Yes, music might be an integral part, but young filmmakers have found innovative ways using music as part of the narrative, something the West can actually learn from.
But that’s besides the point. India has a large pool of creative young talent just waiting to rise and get some recognition abroad. The time has come.  Proud of Kashyap, his work, his intellect and happy to see him being recognized as the innovative filmmaker he is and trailblazer in this native country.
Here is the article I found on ndtv.
Anurag Kashyap part of Sundance film festival jury
Press Trust of India | Thursday, December 20, 2012 (Mumbai)
He is currently working on his next venture titled Ugly.
Filmmaker Anurag Kashyap is part of the prestigious jury for the 2013 edition of Sundance film festival.

The director’s epic crime saga Gangs of Wasseypur is also screening at the festival in the Spotlight section of the festival.

Anurag Kashyap is part of the 19 members of five juries awarding prizes at the festival, which runs from January 17-27 in Park City, Salt Lake City, Ogden and Sundance, Utah.

Anurag Kashyap, who has directed films like Black Friday, Dev D, Gulaal and Gangs of Wasseypur I&II, will take part in the festival as the jury member for the World Cinema Dramatic section alongside director Nadine Labaki and producer Joana Vincent.

It has been a good year for the director with Wasseypur doing well at the home box office besides travelling to festivals like Cannes and Toronto. Set in Bihar’s Dhanbad district, it was also honoured at Asia-Pacific Screen Awards (APSA) in Brisbane and Asia-Pacific Film Festival (APFF) in Macau, held recently.

“It is a truly special film for me and I’m overwhelmed with the audience reception and happy to know that the team’s efforts have been honoured at such large platforms,” Anurag Kashyap said in a statement.