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Sunday, July 29, 2007

Untold tales of the MAHATMA

An unruly mop of hair covers his face. His clothes are torn. He lies abandoned in a hospital bed. When prodded, he utters his famous father’s name—Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi—in a voice heavy with agony.

This promo of Feroz Abbas Khan’s forthcoming film, Gandhi, My Father, is a pointer to a fresh attempt to humanise the Father of the Nation, who struggled to rescue his son from the vortex of alcoholism and bring him back home. The film, inspired by Chandulal Bhagubhai Dalal’s book Harilal Gandhi: A Life, talks about Gandhiji’s relationship with his troubled son, and, in the process, reintroduces Bapu as a father and a family man.

“It is very comfortable to place him on a pedestal and forget him,” says Khan, who also directed the critically-acclaimed play Mahatma Vs Gandhi, based on the same theme. “Gandhiji’s values had a deep impact on his family life. My film portrays the clash between the aspirations and expectations of a son and the principles of a father,” he adds.

Over the years, intermittent attempts have been made through films, plays and books to give Gandhiji’s demi-god persona a human touch. Yet, the preacher of non-violence has never been seen as an ordinary father or husband. There have been noticeable references to Gandhiji in Hindi films like Hey Ram, The Legend of Bhagat Singh and Maine Gandhi Ko Nahi Mara and most significantly in Lage Raho Munnabhai.

The Sanjay Dutt-starrer simplified Bapu’s principle of non-violence and truth and made Gandhigiri fashionable. The mass response that this popular film garnered was similar to what Richard Attenborough’s multiple Oscar-winning Gandhi (1982) had received decades ago. But these movies have presented Mahatma as one of the greatest leaders of the world, without providing much insight into the tangible human being behind the undeniably great soul.

Ace director Shyam Benegal points to a plausible reason for this failing. “Gandhiji was a man of such a complex personality that it’s not possible to feature everything about his life in one single film. It’s logical for filmmakers therefore to focus on only selected aspects of his life in each film,” he says.

Benegal’s The Making of the Mahatma (released in the mid-’90s), set in his early days in South Africa, touched upon Gandhiji’s personal relationships, particularly with his wife Kasturba, to trace his evolution into the ‘Mahatma’. “Gandhiji’s relationships don’t form the central theme of my film. But it’s true that he had a somewhat functional relationship with his children,” adds Benegal.

Indian theatre, too, has seen some stray but significant efforts to ‘demystify’ Gandhiji in the recent past. Sammy, a hugely popular play by Lilette Dubey, shows how ‘Mohan’, an ordinary man with his flaws and weakness, comes to terms with his ideology and emerges as the Mahatma. Mahadevbhai, a play based on Gandhiji’s letters to his long-time secretary Mahadevbhai, and the Marathi play Gandhi Virudh Gandhi,too, deserve mention in this context.

“In the case of Gandhiji, it is very difficult to separate the real person from the historical figure. That’s one of the reasons why most films or plays prefer to deal with his political life,” says Jaimini Pathak, actor-producer of Mahadevbhai.

Recently, Rajmohan Gandhi’s book, Mohandas: A True Story of a Man, had its first few pages dedicated to his great grandfather’s “spiritual relationship” with Tagore’s niece Saraladevi. It triggered a series of discussions on unexplored aspects of Bapu’s character.

These efforts haven’t raised the hackles of Mahatma’s countless admirers. Instead, they have been hailed by Gandhiji’s relatives and Gandhian scholars. “Any responsible attempt to demystify the Mahatma is welcome. Gandhiji was a transparent person and welcomed scrutiny of his actions during his lifetime. Such initiatives will encourage people to respect him more and follow his ideals,” says his great grandson Tushar Gandhi.

Agrees Pratap Sharma, who researched on Gandhiji for 20 years before coming up with the script of Sammy. “Much of Gandhiji’s efforts were dedicated to improving his soul and spirit, which at times were not practical in terms of leading a normal family life. It deserves to be stated that Gandhiji was a difficult person to live with,” he adds.

Researchers also point to those aspects of his life that can lend themselves to fascinating screen adaptation, but these have so far been overlooked by filmmakers. “His relationship with women has been intriguing. He encouraged women to come to the forefront in public life though he was known to be quite tough with Kasturba,” adds Sharma.

“From his childhood days to his youth, his days as a student in London to his relationship with Kasturba, his famous march in Noakhali to the mystery of his murder—there are so many untold stories about him,” adds Gandhi’s great grandson. It’s time for a long-overdue revisionist thrust.

News from :


Sunday, July 22, 2007

Shilpa's S2 rises to No 3 in UK Fragrance charts

Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty's Fragrance, S2, has risen to the Number 3 spot in the UK Fragrance charts, within a fortnight after it was launched in London.

Shilpa has beaten off stiff competition from the likes of other international stars such as Kylie Minogue, Sarah Jessica Parker, Jennifer Lopez and Paris Hilton, as her inimitable S2 perfume has proved itself to be a cut above the rest, amid the sea of other celebrity fragrances to have been launched on the lucrative perfume market, sources said on Sunday.

Describing the popular fragrance that has been created by the oldest French perfumer, Robertet, Shilpa said: "The perfume is truly unique because of the whole edge we have with the ethnic aroma. We have an amalgam of jasmine and citrus and it's a very strong aroma."

Shilpa made a guest appearance at the UK Daytime television's biggest ever show 'Loose Women' on Friday. She joined the panel of fema and has gained a cult following among viewers.

source : dna india


Sunday, July 15, 2007

REVIEIW : Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Ever since his encounter with Voldermort in the last film, The Goblet of Fire , life has never been the same for the boy wizard.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (drama)
Cast : Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson
Direction : David Yates

What's happening to me? yells Potter, sending the avuncular Dumbledore and his faithful friends, Ron and Hermione into a tizzy. Why am I always angry? I feel I'm turning BAD!, he exclaims, setting the undertone for his fifth year at Hogwarts. Ever since his encounter with Voldermort in the last film, The Goblet of Fire , life has never been the same for the boy wizard. He not only lost his friend in the last episode, but also his boyishness. Welcome to Harry, the harried teen, who knows it's not going to be easy any more. No more quidditch, no more carefree wanderings with Hagrid, no bindaas buddy business with Ron and Hermione and no private concerns of problems at Privet Drive. Family problems are hardly the concern now when the entire wizard world is threatened by You Know Who and his horrid army. Harry knows his destiny: it's either him or Voldermort in the epic battle of good against evil, and he doesn't need the prophecy to tell him so...

So what do we have here? A darker, more grim, quite bleak vision of the world we have come to know so well. There is no fun left in the corridors of Hogwarts as the young wizards and witches try to empower themselves for the grand battle that lies ahead. And the fact that the friendly Professor Dumbledore has been ousted by the venal new head, Dolores Umbridge (Imelda Staunton) only adds to the young students' woes. Professor Umbridge is the stuff nightmares are made of. Despite her powder pink attire and her room full of kitties, she is a regular terror who tortures the students with painful tasks and a rigid discipline. More importantly, she fails to tutor them in the defense against the dark arts, leaving the students to form a covert student's body, the Dumbledore Army, which holds secret classes under the tutelage of who else, but Harry.

It's virtually a divide between the believers and the non-believers: those who believe Harry when he tells them that Voldermort is back and those who brand him a liar. The film has its usual fare of charms, spells and special effects, but the tenor is menacing throughout, with the evil Voldermort (Ralph Fiennes) making intermittent appearances (too short) to thrill and scare. Harry, plagued by chilling nightmares, is allowed just one fun moment, a momentary kiss with Cho Cheung. But the romance is short-lived too, as death steals away another of his loved ones.

The film may not be as enticing as the Goblet of Fire, but nevertheless, it sets the tone for the Final Encounter. Ironically, most of the favourite Potter characters have little to do here, including the rumbustious Ron and the affable Hagrid. The scene-stealer in this film is undoubtedly Dolores, the devilish new teacher who puts up a scintillating show of meanness. Get ready for the Deathly Hallows and the Harry Howdunnit!



Ticket to Bollywood...

One could have easily mistaken this Friday night (very late) bash to have been a film awards show, or some other filmi function, what with the stream of Bollywood biggies strolling in (almost at the midnight hour) at an extremely relaxed pace. The occasion was the 're-launch ' of this Juhu restaurant and lounge bar, and a decadent mood prevailed as the guests ate, drank and made very merry amidst candles

and silken drapes. But while Bollywood faces were predominant, the do had an eclectic mix of crowd, with some from society and the worlds of fashion and television also walking in after another bash that was taking place just around the corner. Karan Johar might not have party-hopped but at this party he certainly group-hopped , first talking to Yash Birla, and then catching up with Kunal Kohli. Zayed Khan and Sunny Dewan had obviously found something extremely entertaining; the two simply couldn't stop laughing! Ness Wadia and Preity Zinta caught up with Shah Rukh and Gauri Khan. The siblings who made the most of the evening were Amrita Arora and Malaika Arora-Khan , who enjoyed the evening with Sohail Khan and Kim Sharma. Dino Morea was in a jolly mood, as he caught up with Gauhar Khan and VJ Gaurav. Vandana Sajnani and beau Rajesh Khattar seemed to be in their own romantic world, enjoying each other's company. They spoke excitedly about their upcoming vacation to Thailand and Singapore. Very late comers included Mandira Bedi and Raj Kaushal, who, even at that hour were having trouble finding parking. After patiently waiting for Raj to park and come, Mandy decided to walk in by herself. Kanchi Kaul bonded with "best friend" Arzoo Govitrikar. Shonali Nagrani came along with boyfriend Ashish Raheja and her brother, who she was introducing to one and all. Sikander Kher, Sanjay Suri and a host of others also partied the night away.


Early (by Mumbai Standard Time at least!) to arrive were mom-to-be Suchitra Pillai and Lars Kjeldsen with Suchitra's best friend Sandhya Mridul. When Suchi was asked whether she wanted a girl or a boy, she replied that it was a girl she was looking forward to because, "In the recent past, all my friends have had boys. There is a dearth of girls and I wish to fill that void."


Even as news of the Lara Dutta-Kelly Dorji split is still topmost on everybody's minds, Kelly seemed unfazed by it all as he made his first solo appearance post the break-up . What's more, he seemed to be enjoying himself in the company of the many glamour dolls present.


It was quite a surprise to see Prashant Raj and Mohit Ahlawat, both from the Ram Gopal Varma camp, (one his present find, the other his former muse) bond sans their mentor.



Monday, July 9, 2007

Mallika gets thumbs up from Sushmita

The intrepid Mallika Sherawat has an unlikely supporter in Sushmita Sen who is quite impressed with her "spirit and spunk".

"I really think she has a lot of spirit and spunk and tremendous audacity," Sushmita said.

"To have come from where she has and to establish her own identity, and to have that kind of spirit couldn't be easy. But she has done it," she added.

Tell her Mallika speaks of Sushmita as some kind of a role model, and the actress smiles.

"Really? I haven't met Mallika but the little that I know of her, I like her."

Mallika, who is transcending borders with Bill Bannerman's "Unveiled", seems to subscribe to Sushmita's school of thought.

"I don't know what Mallika's thoughts are. But I feel every role I've played so far has been a stepping stone towards the goal that I've set for myself. To get to a summit you need to climb step by step. I think I've been climbing the stairs very steadily."

Talking about her journey in Bollywood, Sushmita said that she knew she would have to work hard to reach the top since the beginning. She never expected instant success.

"Not for a minute did I believe I had to be Madhuri Dixit just because I came into the film industry as Miss Universe. I knew I had to work hard to get there. Some people get there more easily than others. But that's life. Maybe I've made some major mistakes in my career. And I continue to make them even today. But that's part of the growing experience."

So what keeps Sushmita going and growing?

"The one thing that nourishes me constantly is my self identity. I'm very comfortable with who and what I am. I am an actress only when the camera is switched on. The minute it's over I go back to being myself.

"I don't make an effort to make other people comfortable. I feel I can't be an image for people. I have to be a real person. I have to be absolutely me."

Ask her what 'absolutely me' is, and she said: "Absolutely me is tonnes of contradictions. It's being an enigma even to myself at times. It's someone only I knew, and that too once in a while."

New From : The Times of India


Sunday, July 8, 2007

Review : Bombay to Goa

MONUMENTAL WASTE : Imagine having all the stars of the Great Indian Laughter shows at your disposal and yet not managing to elicit one full-throated guffaw ( Agency photo )

Bombay to Goa (comedy)
Cast : Raju Srivastava, Ehsaan Qureshi, Surendra Pal
Direction : Raj Pendharkar

What a monumental waste! Imagine having all the stars of the Great Indian Laughter shows at your disposal and yet not managing to elicit one full-throated guffaw. May be, if our stand-up comedians had been left to themselves, minus a bungling director, they would have delivered the gags better.

All the funsters are bunched together in a crumbling bus that is heading towards Goa. And the bus keeps getting its intermittent load of hitch-hikers, which include the Indian cricket team (all lookalikes) that is currently doing some military training under coach Chappel’s expertise. The passengers get their chance to avenge the World Cup debacle, but the humour is completely flat. This is one jolty ride we would not recommend.

Source : the times of india


Sunday, July 1, 2007

Rani stuck in 'morality' debate

RANI PLAYS SEX WORKER AGAIN!: Aditya Chopra and director Pradeep Sarkar are hesitant about Rani Mukherji's portrayal of a sex worker in Lagaa Chunari Mein Daag (TOI Photo)
If sources are to be believed, thinking heads at Yashraj Films are facing 'a moral question'. Aditya Chopra and director Pradeep Sarkar are hesitant about Rani Mukerji's portrayal of a sex worker in Lagaa Chunari Mein Daag .
Going by the plot, Rani hails from a respectable middle-class family living in a small town. City life lures her and eventually, falling on bad times, she turns to flesh trade for a living . The makers feel that Rani's journey, from a middle-class woman to a sex worker (in the film), may not go down well with the audiences. In fact, a middle-class woman being portrayed as a sex-worker has always been a strict no-no.
Also, recent box-office letdowns (read Tara Rum Pum and Jhoom Barabar Jhoom ) has prompted Aditya to mull over the script yet again before the film makes its way to the editing table. Says our source from the production house, "We don't know how kindly the viewers are going to take to the fact that a woman from a middle-class family becomes a sex worker in times of crisis. Surely, we are giving it a thought. After the Jhoom Barabar Jhoom debacle we want to play it safe."
Although a good measure of mother-daughter relationship has been thrown into the film, it doesn't solve the problem. The plot essentially focuses on Rani's predicament in a big bad city. Adds another source, "The basic premise highlights Rani's plight after she leaves her home town in hope of a better life." The creative team behind the film already has had a few meetings.
Says a crew member on condition of anonymity, "Yashraj films are always meant for family viewing. We don't want to outrage our viewers' sensibilities. Saying so, we can't have any last minute changes as the film has been mostly shot. We intend to release the film in September." Incidentally Rani Mukerji plays a sex worker in Sanjay Leela Bhansali's Saawariya too. So, there is also that question of repetition, which Yashraj Films is not too happy about.
The team may or may not make changes in Rani's character, but, they are definitely trying to change the look of the film. As Yashraj production has always come up with different concept in each of their films, they plan to do it this time too



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