Posts tagged culture
Slumdog actress joins tennis couple in Grand Slam charity event
Prithwish Ganguly | TNN (September 30, 2010)
Freida Pinto is ready to date. Well, not literally! The Slumdog Millionaire actress has joined hands with Andre Agassi and his wife Steffi Graf to support their philanthropic organisation Agassi Foundation. Freida is the only Indian actress to have been roped in by the star tennis couple to participate in their annual fund raiser titled The 15th Grand Slam for Children that aims at raising funds for education of underprivileged children. A source reveals, “What’s interesting is that Freida is up for grabs for a meal date for a lucky bidder who will also get the chance to experience the heritage and culture of India, also the home of the country’s best export to the West — Freida. The actress is also hosting the meal and has donated for the India Experience for Two — a package that will have the winners see the best of Bollywood, a sevenday trip to India to experience the jungles, the royal palaces, elephant rides, safaris and much more.” This year, the event has some high profile names including international stars who have agreed to champion the cause of Aggasi and Steffi’s foundation. It has got bigger this year with Sir Elton John agreeing to perform at the October 9, event in Las Vegas. The funds generated from each year’s auction supports their Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy. Since 1995, the Grand Slam has raised nearly $83 million. Other international celebs who have tied up with them include Hollywood comedian Robin Williams, who is hosting a private dinner for six, and swimming superstar and Olympic winner Michael Phelps, who has agreed to swim alongside a lucky bidder.
MM.com speaks to Natha’s mother, Farrukh ‘Ammaji’ Jaffer, only to bring out the intellectual and lighter side of a lady from the rustic lands of Uttar Pradesh
|Farrukh Jaffer, a far cry from Ammaji of Peepli Live|
“I am too busy and too free, depending on my priorities. But if there is someone to listen to me, I can talk 24 hours. Jaise ham abhi aapse baat kar rahe hain,” 72-year-old Farrukh Jaffer bursts out laughing. “Ammaji” is bound to slip out of your mouth when you are talking to her. One of the most memorable characters of Peepli Live, Ammaji, is what she is better known as now.
A graduate and a student of National School of Drama (NSD), Delhi, Farrukh started her career in All India Radio as an announcer in Lucknow. At NSD, she learnt a lot from one of the most influential theatre directors Ebrahim Alkazi. She performed in a few of his plays and thoroughly loved the experience. But somehow, she felt closer to radio and films. It was Muzzaffar Ali, director of Rekha-starrer Umrao Jaan, who gave her her big break in the film where she played Rekha’s mother. Farrukh, who has her base in Lucknow for years now, feels deep gratitude towards Muzzaffar Ali, “I am thankful to Muzzaffar saab from the bottom of my heart. He gave me my first break. And it was his serial Damyanti where Ashutosh Gowariker spotted me and offered me Swades. He always gave me the freedom an artiste like me craves for.”
Farrukh believes an artist is the best creation of God, who should be treated with care and given desired freedom. She received such a treatment from Aamir Khan while working on Peepli Live, she says, “Aamir Khan trusted and gave me this opportunity. I am best known for my voice over and in Peepli that is what worked for me as an actor. He let me extend my dialogue as I wanted. He understood the culture and knew the essence of the language. I got immense respect from him as a person and in terms of work too. I admire him for that.”
Farrukh is, no doubt, a nawab from Lucknow. She loves her comfort and feels uncomfortable when restricted. Her experience while working in Swades with Ashutosh Gowariker was not as pleasant though. She says, “It was a great experience. But I felt slightly restricted with him, creatively. As a radio artist, I have a habit of elongating my dialogue with voice modulation to make it more effective. I wasn’t allowed to do that. But then, Ashutosh did give me one of my best lines of my career.”
Swades also gave Farrukh an opportunity to interact with the superstar of Bollywood, Shah Rukh Khan, that too on the same level. She reminicences and laughs aloud at the interaction she had with him, “Shah Rukh ko main bandar bulati thi. He would put his head on my feet and ask me, ’Aap mujhe bandar kyu bulati hai?’ Then I would promptly reply, “Kyuki tum poora din bandar ki tarah uchaltey koodtey rehtey ho.” Admiring the father in King Khan, she says, “Woh apne bacchon ke bagair nahi reh sakta. He is a great father. I have just seen him interact with his kids.”
Despite belonging to a conservative family, she had all the support from her husband Sayyed Mohammed Jaffar, also a renowned journalist. He encouraged her in every step she took towards her passion for cinema. Mother of two grown up daughters says, “What should I say about him? He is the most amazing husband one can have. He supported me and allowed me to aspire big, which is very unlikely of a family with a conservative background like we have. But he trusted me and so did the family.”
In 30 years of her career, Farrukh had to shift base from a small village called Chakesar in Jaunpur district in Uttar Pradesh to Lucknow for a major period in between and then to Delhi. And now when she is doing films more often, she has to come down to Mumbai too. Totally in awe of the city, Farrukh says, “Mumbai sheher jaandaar hai. Yahaan kaam aapko dhoondhta hai. Mujhe behad pasand hai yeh sheher.” On the contrary, recalling her experience of living in another metro like Delhi almost 30 years ago, Farrukh didn’t really enjoy her time in the city. She says, “Dilli rehne wali jagah nahi hai. I felt very insecure while I came back from work. That time I was working with Akashvani. Even the transport facilities weren’t impressive. I used to regret leaving my job in All India Radio, Lucknow.”
Having seen the village life from close quarters, she agrees with how the subject is dealt in Peepli Live. Farrukh is against reservations given by the government to rural people. She believes, “Why can’t government give better facilities like better roads, light and houses to the rural people and inspire them to grow so that they don’t have to leave their house and family behind to go to a metro city to earn better?”
Ammaji she will remain for us until she is next seen in Aanand Rai’s Tanu Weds Manu, playing dadima to Kangna Ranaut who stars opposite R Madhvan in the film.
Prithwish Ganguly | TNN (BOMBAY TIMES; September 26, 2010)
The Delhi High Court’s judgement in favour of homosexuals last year hasn’t had much impact on the family of actor Yuvraaj Parasher, the lead of Dunno Y… Na Jaane Kyun that has India’s first gay kissing scene in it and also shows love-making and several intimate moments between two men. Yuvraaj, BT has learned, has been disowned by his family for playing a homosexual on screen and has been thrown out of his home in Agra. Worse, his father is ready to go to court and officially cut off ties with his son.
Seen as India’s answer to Ang Lee’s sensitive drama Brokeback Mountain that boasts of remarkable acting from Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal, Dunno Y … Na Jaane Kyun sees Yuvraaj partner with actor Kapil Sharma to breathe life into their bold characters. Yuvraaj’s father Satish Parasher told BT, “I feel what he has done is against the culture and tradition of our country and it challenges the purity of the relationship between a man and a woman. He kept us in the dark right from when he signed the film and told us that he is acting with a girl. When we heard about the poster and the things he has done in the film, we were shocked, hurt and humiliated. People will make fun of us and we won’t be able to live peacefully ever again.”
Satish believes Yuvraaj will never get a girl to marry him. “His mother is totally devastated,” said the aggrieved father. “We are a respected family and I’m appalled that he is playing a gay man’s role. We’re finished. All the dreams and hopes we had built around him are over. For just a film role, he has lost out on his blood ties. We don’t want to see his face ever… not even when we are dying.” Interestingly, Yuvraaj’s act with Kapil fetched them an award from Deputy Chief Minister Chhagan Bhujbal for their sensitive portrayal of gay men. For the actor’s family, however, such accolades mean nothing.
Filmmakers are looking up North for inspiration
Deepali Dhingra | TNN (BOMBAY TIMES; September 21, 2010)
When Shilpa Shetty swung her hip and shook that patli kamar to Main Aayi Hoon UP-Bihar Lootne, she could well have been singing about Bollywood’s latest craze. That’s right! Hindi cinema suddenly seems to have woken up to the fact that there are interesting stories beyond Mumbai’s underworld, Kashmir’s conflicts and Europe’s breathtaking locales. From looking at the issue of groom kidnapping in Antardwand to Udaan that was set in Jamshedpur to Aakrosh that is based on honour killings in Haryana, filmmakers are exploring regions up-North to provide food for thought to the audience.
Director Abhinav Kashyap, whose debut film Dabangg is set in Uttar Pradesh, calls this emerging trend a sheer co-incidence. “But if it’s happening, it’s good because films should be pan India and I think places like UP-Bihar were falling off the map somehow. It’s important to have stories from everywhere.” While Abhinav’s film is about the unlawful practices in UP, his brother Anurag Kashyap is getting ready to dissect the rise of Bihar mafia in his next film.
Sushil Rajpal who directed Antardwand, believes that filmmakers making these movies are usually those who belong to these areas and are familiar with the culture. “Also, they are now in a position to experiment with stories and give the audience something they haven’t seen before,” he says. But is the audience ready to accept these films? “I think it would be naive for filmmakers to assume that the audience is immature,” is Abhinav’s reply.
But film critic Komal Nahta warns that even such films might not work if they are treated in a documentary style. “If the issues are identifiable like corruption in Dabangg or has star value like that in Aakrosh, then there is no resistance from the audience. By setting these films in places like UP-Bihar, the filmmakers are giving the audience, lingo/culture/milieu that they haven’t seen before, thus giving it a fresh approach,” he says.
Karan Johar’s surprised sparks didn’t fly between Kajol and Kareena on the sets of his new film
Mark Manuel | TNN (BOMBAY TIMES; September 3, 2010)
This is Karan Johar’s big day. His film, We Are Family — the third Dharma Productions release this year after My Name Is Khan and I Hate Luv Storys — opens to an audience whose appetite and curiosity has already been whetted and stirred respectively by its endearing promos. Bollywood hasn’t had a quintessential family film in a long while. And, to my mind, the anticipation of what might happen at the boxoffice to this film directed by Siddharth Malhotra ought to have reduced Karan to a nervous state. Not so. I found him sipping, well, coffee in his Khar office, relaxed and happy one evening earlier this week. “The final marketing of a film is the film itself — word of mouth,” he said, “and I believe in this product, I think it has legs, though few films last beyond their opening weekend nowadays, they don’t have staying power, they lack longevity.”
His confidence is based on his super star cast, led by that great actress Kajol and supported by the lovely Kareena Kapoor and hunky Arjun Rampal. “If Kajol had not done We Are Family, I wouldn’t have made it,” Karan declared. “The mother’s role is the fulcrum in the film — the pillar, she’s got shades of white and grey, there is an undertone of jealousy and envy in her. Only an actress with a high emotional quotient could have played the role without alienating the audience. And I knew, a takkar ka actress like Kareena would be required to combat Kajol. Two powerhouse actresses make great celluloid conflict. Though I feel terrible to say, on the sets they got on like a house on fire, there was no fight between them, they had such fun. They became one big A- Team. I’ve never seen two women get on so well. I think they took the title too seriously!”
He gives Arjun full marks as well. “Full credit,” admitted Karan, “he not only found his bearings on the set, he held his own. Arjun has that body language of a parent. Kajol and he are so good with kids, it comes organically to them, this is not acting… it’s not artificial or synthetic, it’s in their DNA.” He didn’t say it, but it struck me that even Kareena was playing a role that she is not unaccustomed to in real life as, umnn, stepmom to Saif Ali Khan’s children Sarah and Ibrahim. Karan shrugged at the coincidence, “Kareena’s given perhaps the most dignified performance of her career. The film is open to the audience’s opinions and thoughts, of course, but there is no question about any of the performances.”
Having said that, the filmmaker in him couldn’t resist sharing thoughts on We Are Family with me. “It’s a progressive film that needed to be handled with a lot of care,” explained Karan. “There’s an ex-wife, the current girlfriend, and kids… I have friends in the same situation, and I know how awkward it is for them, in fact they suggested I hold a show specially for them! But, yes, it was tough making this film because we are in denial of infidelity — it happens but we don’t want to see it, and I had to maintain the traditional ethos of our culture. However, there isn’t one squirmy moment. My friends said, ‘Wish we could do this in our lives’.” He himself, wept like a baby when he first saw the film. I asked why he made it, then! And Karan Johar replied, “Because I don’t know what else to do. Where else can you cry, sing and dance and yet be at work!”
Ekta Kapoor’s new film, co-starring brother Tusshar, goes global
Sharin Wader Butani | TNN (BOMBAY TIMES; August 25, 2010)
Tusshar Kapoor’s latest film Shor, is making a lot of ‘noise’ internationally. A Balaji project, co-starring Sendhil Ramamurthy (of Heroes fame), Preeti Desai and Nikhil Dwivedi, Shor has been invited to a World Premier screening as part of the Window on Asian Cinema section at the prestigious 15th Pusan International Film Festival. This festival is Asia’s largest film festival and attracts participants from 55 countries around the world. It will be held between October 7th and October 15th in Pusan, South Korea.
The one person who is excited with the news of international recognition is Ekta Kapoor. And why not, she has just tasted super success with Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai. “Shor is an entertaining black comedy that connects with audiences transcending boundaries of nations, languages and cultures. While the film is created as an allends entertainer for the Indian audiences, it is really heartening to know that our films are being appreciated at such prominent international forums,” she said.
Tusshar, who plays one of the lead protagonists in the film, believes that this is his career’s most unique performance till date. “Tilak, the character I play in the film, has such a terrific graph in Shor. This small-time, lovable goon goes from doing petty thefts, to living on the edge, to undergoing a major transformation in life and all this happens in such an easy, comical and fast-paced environment. I have thoroughly enjoyed playing the part!’’.
The film is directed by Raj Nidimoru and Krishna DK, who have to their credit films like 99 and Flavours. The director duo is equally thrilled and at the same time are confident that this is just the start of the journey. Shor is all set for a worldwide release in December 2010!
By Subhash K. Jha, July 19, 2010 – 12:05 IST
“Keep politics out of art and culture,” says Pakistan pop singer Ali Zafar who arrived in Mumbai this month. He would like nothing better than to move to Mumbai and become a singing actor like Kishore Kumar. But would the current milieu of hostility allow him to make that move?
“Things have to get better between the two countries,” Ali says optimistically. “The sooner the better. Because the present hostility is unbearable. We from the entertainment industry in Pakistan are hard hit by the suspicion between the two countries.”
Ali Zafar is honest enough to admit there’s more scope for him to function in India than in Pakistan. “I’ll be honest. There are more avenues and prospects here. So if the God above and the politicians down below permit, I’d love to move to Mumbai. An artiste knows no bounds and boundaries. My first home is Lahore. But I’d like to make Mumbai my second home.”
Ali has a wife and a 3-month baby boy back home. “When I left home I kept looking back at my home and loved ones. I wish they could come with me.” Ali expects his wife to join him in Mumbai later during his current trip to the city, his first after 26/11.
In the last 6-7 years, he has been to Mumbai at least 20 times.
However, he was unable to return recently because of the current political scenario. “Things have changed. My last visit was before 26/11 and I remember how pleasant the mood was in Mumbai. I was free to move around and roam freely on the streets of Mumbai. I cannot deny there’s tension between the two countries. Earlier aana jaana laga rehta tha. Initially, we artistes from Pakistan used to get multiple visas quite easily. Yes now it’s different, and sadly so. However, I feel singers and other artistes should be exempt from politics.”
Ali thinks it’s easy for him to incorporate singing into his acting because he uses a lot of acting expression on stage. “I wanted to do something different from what my colleagues from Pakistan do in India. I always thought my first acting experience would be something different and special. I’ve no leading lady in my first film Tere Bin Laden. I was determined that when I act for the first time, I’d sing for myself and not sing for others on screen. When I met the director Abhishek Sharma for Tere Bin Laden in Mumbai, I knew this was the project that I wanted to start my big-screen acting career with. I laughed so much when I heard the script. I was sure audiences would love it too.”Being married doesn’t diminish Ali’s popularity. “On the contrary female fans trust married men more than unmarried men. Married men are considered stable.”
About being inspired by Kishore Kumar, Ali Zafar shoots off, “He’s my definite inspiration, just as Kishore Kumar Saab was inspired by K.L Saigal.”
Ali is on the verge of signing new films in Mumbai…and moving in Mumbai. “I love the city. I want it to love me back as much as I do.”
Famed Iranian filmmaker Majid Majidi talks to Vishwas Kulkarni about making movies about ordinary folks, being Muslim in a hostile world, his disappointment with Priyadarshan’s Bum Bum Bole and Indian cinema in general
MUMBAI MIRROR; June 18, 2010
His film Children of Heaven was nominated for the Academy Awards for Best Foreign Picture in 1998. Majid Majidi is one of the key filmmakers who has put Iran on the World Cinema map. Whilst in town last week, Majidi spoke to Mumbai Mirror exclusively.
• You started out as an actor, then moved on to directing.
I was part of an experimental film and theatre group that Mohsen Makhmalbaf also belonged to. But I was never into acting. I had a world vision of my own, I was aware of this even when acting. I was making shorts. These shorts were a crucial part of my cinematic consciousness.
• Iranian cinema captivates with its use of rustic, rural settings, the way the ordinary sublimates to universal truths or crises even. Comment.
There are two ways in which my films function. One is the depiction of the external world, the world of mundane, daily chores. Through the external, we enter the internal. I always knew that I will focus on the most ordinary of individuals so that it may be digested by the world. I choose the simplest of persons because if you pick up an engineer or a doctor, only a handful of people will connect. My endeavour has been to amplify the voices of the suppressed.
• Being Iranian is always fraught with politics. From the global furore over Iran’s controversial nuclear programme to the protests against Ahmadinejad, how do you negotiate your Iranian identity with the outside world?
Politics is very malleable. What is permanent is art. Art captures our hearts, politics is a balloon – if you inflate it too much it explodes. Politics paints a vague picture of Iran. There are, and will always be, vested Western interests in Iran that will never want to see Iran as a peaceful and settled nation.
|A still from Bum Bum Bole|
• But Iran is an equally vociferous anti-Semitic machinery.
Israel has a huge superiority complex. It wants to impose its superiority, its might to the ultimate. To maintain this, it will retain Palestine to the bitter end. Things are not going to settle down with a nation like Israel, something that has the full support of the Western world.
• Don’t you blame the lack of Arab unity and political will for the mess in the Middle East?
Absolutely. The Arab world was never committed to its people, let alone the concept of an Arab unity. It is a culture that has sold out to gain economic gains from the West. It suffers from a low self-esteem. It is a culture that has been debased by its own people. Yes, the Arab world has disappointed us sizeably.
• What is your take on the decision to ban the burqa in some European nations? They see it as offensive to women.
The decision is totally contrary to the freedom of movement. On one side, it blows the trumpet of free speech; on the other, people wearing burqas are going to be barred from public places. Don’t you see the irony and the hypocrisy in this?
• You’re deeply embarrassed by the Indian remake of one of your films, Bum Bum Bole?
I put all my trust in these people. They were after me for a while to sell the rights. I even offered to give my creative inputs. The makers of the film wanted to make a proper and worthy film or so they promised me. So it is rather sad that I’ve heard very negative things about this remake.
• Why can’t Indians make films of international stature?
Indian cinema is in a very sad situation. They haven’t been able to come up with the standards to be accepted by the world. They are not using their faculties, economic or cultural. There are potentially good actors here. Indians have a wide viewer base. Indian cinema has access to lots of money. I am therefore saddened that the outcome of quality cinema from such an industry is zero. An industry producing 600 films should produce at least 40-50 films of international standards at least. But clearly this isn’t the case.
• You’re working on a film that is being produced by UTV.
Yes, that is a gigantic project based on the prophet’s life as a child. A set of Mecca is being recreated. A good sum of money is being put into this.
Nikhil Deshmukh | TNN (THE TIMES OF INDIA; February 13, 2010)
Pune: With theatre owners shying away from screening My Name Is Khan, movie buffs were left dejected on Friday. Theatre and multiplex owners, too, were disappointed as they were banking on attracting huge crowds in view of the long weekend, with Mahashivratri falling on Friday.
The situation at single screen theatres was worse as they had reserved prime slots for MNIK and had no alternative to fall back on. Many such theatres ran the morning show of the scheduled movie and had to close for the day.
Authorities at a theatre acted promptly and screened a Friday release for all shows.
Sonal Gawand, a post-graduate student, said, “I am a fan of SRK and was eagerly awaiting MNIK’s release. The ongoing protests have nothing to do with the content of the movie. If the protesters have an issue with an actor, why should movie-goers suffer for it? Political parties have no business interfering in art and culture.”
Rukmini Surve, a home-maker, said, “I feel that producers and distributors should boycott places like Maharashtra if there is repeat of such protests. Once the government starts losing revenue, agitations based on a non-issues will be curbed in time.”
Asif Pathan and Kamlakar Dubey, bank employees from Dehu Road, said, “Today being a holiday, we wanted to watch the much-discussed MNIK. We will now watch the Marathi film Harishchandrachi Factory instead.” A college student from Akurdi, Saurabh Gadgil, said he was disappointed that MNIK was not being screened in Pune.
In Pimpri-Chinchwad, movie-goers opted for other movies. Policemen were deployed at all theatres to prevent any untoward incident.