With caste as underlining factor, Article 15 makes noises in an uneven world

The idea of Anubhav Sinha’s Article 15 is loosely based on the infamous Badaun gangrape and the various twists and turns the case sees over the course of the investigation. The film opens with a song—“Kahab to lagi jaaye dhak se” being rendered in a group where talk of disparities is foremost.

It speaks of how the Dalit community is having to bear the brunt of a deep wedge on castelines. The film is also about how the police are playing in the hands of highly placed people who would go to any extent to harm humankind, especially girls and stoke passions.

Murders, violence, lynching in West UP often referred to as the Wild Wild West has become the order of the day.

Entering the story with Bob Dylan’s iconic Blowing in the Wind, the film is a strong comment on how media and the police both crawl when asked to bend by the high and mighty. A murder most foul where it is suspected a gangrape has occurred, is causing terror in the minds of the people of Lalgaon.

People are tightlipped, meanwhile the cops are trying to hush up things so that the minister is away from harm’s way.

Even as the rape case starts to develop as a ghastly and heinous crime, newspapers and media are turning a blind eye.

 GDP news makes it to Page 1 but this story from a non descript village does not. Parallels are drawn between Nirbhaya and Lalgaon.

Question here is why does only the national capital make up a part of news agenda. FIRs take ages to lodge. The cops are lackadaissical. Concocted FIRs, half baked truth, false post mortems give the viewer reason to believe that a dangerous game is at play here.

The film makes a fleeting reference to Bhim Sena chief Chandrashekhar Azad and how the Hindutva card has often been a poll time rhetoric especially to garner votes.

The film also shows how the tension is kept simmering so that Brahmins and Dalits do not combine forces, since they are considered a lethal combine.

Dialogues like – We are Harijan, bahujan but not jan. Power ki alag hi jaat hoti hai and Us kitaab ki hi ye nahi chalne dete jiski shapath lete hain are indirect but important references to the Constitution of India which was shaped by the Father of the Constitution, Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar.

As a tough cop, Ayuhsmann Khurana is charged of being prejudiced towards caste, who notably raises the point of how a Dalit is not given a 3 rupee wage hike in daily wages for their caste affiliations.

As a CBI officer who takes over the case tries to act smart with the cop, pat comes the dialogue from Ayushmann – Delhi mein yes sir yes sir ki jagah no bolna chahiye zyada se zyada maar hi diye jayenge

 A film tailor made for Ayushmann after the actor wanted something on the lines of Mulk, the actor does justice with a not so run of the mill performance proving his class, beyond his chocolate hero image.

Ayushmann has an impact which is measured and natural cutting through the usual star-struck film culture with not many popular faces

The film revolves around the main character Ayan played by Ayushmann Khurana. Supporting character Nishad is equally captivating. Ayan as a character is also in some ways symbolic of the clear disconnect between the urban and rural milieu.

Isha Talwar as Aditi is good in parts. The writer Gaurav Solanki and filmmaker Anubhav Sinha address those who can dismiss caste talk. The core point in the discourse is – Sab barabar ho gaye to raja kaun banega?

The film stars Ayushmann Khurrana, Kumud Mishra, Manoj Pahwa, Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub, Isha Talwar, Sayani Gupta, Ronjini Chakraborty, Nasser and Ashish Verma

A 130 minutes film it captures well the Una floggings and the Badaun gangrape.

Ayan’s friend Satyendra’s character remains vague and undetermined.

The tagline of the film states —“Farq bahut kar liya, ab farq laayenge.

With this film after outings like Mulk, Anubhav Sinha is finally back. Unlike Sairat and Dhadak, Article 15 drills the point hard.

Article 15 falls under Part III of the Constitution of India, dealing with fundamental rights of each citizen. It secures them from discrimination by the State on the basis of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth or any other.

In Badaun, two minors from Dalit Maurya community were kidnapped, gangraped and hanged from a tree in Badaun in May 2014. Something condemned strongly by even the United Nations.

All five key accused, including two cops are arrested. Politicians then called for a thorough probe, meanwhile a Special Investigation Team is formed to investigate the brutal killings. even as contradicting statements come in,

CBI drops charges against five accused – Pappu, Awadhesh and Urvesh Yadav (brothers) and constables Chhatrapal Yadav and Sarvesh Yadav. Later in October 2015, POCSO court rejects CBI closure report.

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Shweta Basu Prasad in Tashkent Files is a reveting tribute to journalism

Each journalist must watch The Tashkent Files because following your conviction and sticking to your stand is not easy today

Tashkent Files is a clever attempt at paying homage to the legendary Lal Bahadur Shastri. It not just attempts decoding, even if flatly the historical facts behind the death of Shastri, but it also talks about how a journalist in today’s times stands for a certain conviction which is hard to demolish.

Shweta Basu Prasad as a journalist is frustrated. She has her job at stake with her boss giving her an ultimatum of performing or perishing. She has to prove herself at all costs. With a job to save she is in search of that perfect scoop. One fine day she receives a call which changes all that. It is all planned. She has got all the leads of a story which will change the course of her career. A mystery that has for generations been a part of public discourse. The death of Shastri and the mystery around it.

Written and directed by Vivek Agnihotri, it stars Shweta Basu Prasad, Naseeruddin Shah and Mithun Chakraborty in lead roles. Released on 12 April 2019 it has been deemed politically motivated in light of the 2019 general elections.

Considered India’s first crowd sourced thriller, the film reflects research as well as attention to detail promising to be an apolitical film about a political leader.

While critics argue that the film might be inspired by Hollywood cult-classic 12 Angry Men, Mithun Chakraborty and actress Shweta Basu Prasad garnered rave reviews for their acting.

While some compliment the storyline, there are those who criticize the lack of content.

The film starts dedicating it to all honest journalists of India. In clear cut terms it blasts various establishments saying NGOs are “social terrorists”, Supreme Court judges are “judicial terrorists”, writers and historians are “intellectual terrorists” and the media, of course, are “TRP terrorists”.

While the film could make a captivating thriller with many conspiracy theories but the filmmaker uses the film to take down left, secular and socialist ideologies and institutions, in a fashion that is unintentionally comical.

The film  appropriates terms like “anti-national”, “presstitutes” and “fake news”, which are famously the armour of the current regime and its followers.

There are also facile and tokenistic “balanced” arguments, as a historian character, Aiysha (Pallavi Joshi) puts it, which are bound to throw off right-wing ideologues completely.

The film refers to the Emergency in multiple ways. The filmmaker does not take names and censors them in “official documents” but not in a very subtle manner. The characters do not shy away from being shrill and loud. Agnihotri’s disdain for a person like that is evident as is his distrust in NGO head, Indira Joseph Roy. She explains Russian words like dacha (bungalow) during closed room discussions.

Pankaj Tripathi’s character, a scientist, makes a significant contribution when he stokes communal discourse against Muslims. He is soon shut down. Raagini Phule plaed by Sweta Basu Prasad is a pleasure to watch who is shown as the only voice of reason. Driven by truth to such an extent that when strangled in Tashkent and asked who does she work for, her response is, wait for it.

Agnihotri hammers the message hard backed by strong research. The film is more drama than reality. But here is one of possibility: this was a well-crafted propaganda film that released a day after India went to polls, slipping under the Election Commission radar? says a reputed media house in its review.

Let’s admit we all called Zaira Wasim un – Islamic

Two things happened in life side by side for me. One side there were reports that Zaira Wasim was quitting Bollywood because there was a clear contradiction between her career and her religion. Back home there were reports that next time you go to Bada Imambara you will have to dress up well so that you do not look or seem to violate the set regressive thought that pervades a certain section of people. In a country where we all have equal right to speak, if a Mohua Mitra has the right to speak up with immense force, so does Zaira who has achieved something if not a lot in the industry.

There are reports that the there were Fatwas issued against the actress but I guess the problem starts when we start dictating a woman’s choices. Who decides what a 20 plus girl should do with her life. Why should people call her ungrateful. At 20 something maybe she is not good enough a chooser of words but I guess the intent is not to harm.

Does it behove of the senior tribe in the industry and the illuminati to give her lectures on how she is a product of Bollywood and her whole soul identity is nothing but that. The fact that an actress was handpicked by perfectionist Aamir Khan and she rose the ladder should be a great thing.

The fact that a girl from the valley dares to chase dreams out of a strife torn region. The fact that she comes to Mumbai, she rules and conquers hearts that is the biggest thing in life. Whether Bollywood is unIslamic is not the debate, whether she does wrong by writing online a message is not the debate, the debate should be on why we shamelessly amplify the Islamic credentials of the actress taking a cue from the letter.

How many of those giving her lectures and certificates have actually reached out and helped the girl when she needed a moral boost when she needed it the most. The comparisons with Nusrat Jahan do not hold water. One is a politician, the other a star. And more importantly Zaira Wasim is one independent individual.

Does not sound nice to compare two diametrically opposite individuals. Just because yesteryears stars Saira Banu, Waheeda Rehman, Dilip Kumar, Nargis, Shahrukh or an AR Rahman did not feel threatened does not mean that Saira cannot. More than a generation gap, the industry and its working has seen a seachange and society at large too has increased pressure on what is ok and what is not. And today threats fly thick and fast.

The Tarek Fatah’s, the Swami Chakrapani’s and those issuing Fatwas can hence find something better to do. As a citizen of this great nation I think it is much more than religion or politics. It is about someone’s personal choices and aspirations. Let her have the last laugh in the loudest way possible.

Heated TV debates and twitter gyanbaazi needs to stop because it is a 23 year old’s life and why dissect her choices and decisions in public domain.

In a crystal clear letter that Zaira Wasim putout  justifying her decision, she mentions, “For a very long time now it has felt like I have struggled to become someone else. As I had just started to explore and make sense of the things to which I dedicated my time, efforts and emotions and tried to grab hold of a new lifestyle, it was only for me to realise that though I may fit here perfectly, I do not belong here.”

Very simply, she says, “I am not truly happy with this identity i.e the line of work”.

It is even more important for us to respect Zaira because eight out of 10 employees in the country are not happy with their work as per surveys.

Its common. A dislike stems from long hours, low pay, an unsupportive boss, lack of recognition, no scope for promotions, work-life balance, sheer boredom says a report.

Such people crib, complain, evade work and make mistakes.

Flexibility and choice are two most important things says a Gallup report.

It would not be wrong to say that we as a nation and the Bollywood industry failed her because in 2016 after photos of Zaira Wasim surfaced with trimmed hair for Dangal she faced a massive online backlash. She was repeatedly branded un – Islamic. Her meeting with Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti too attracted the ire of the common folk with her receiving death threats. Her apologies too saw controversial twists and turns courtesy the media.

She had also  been harassed mid-air on an Air Vistara flight UK981 between Delhi and Mumbai. The accused, Vikas Sachdeva of Chandivli in Mumbai was subsequently arrested and charged under Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO), given Wasim was a legal minor.

Zaira will always be remembered as a recipient of numerous accolades, including a Filmfare Award and a National Film Award. She also has the distinction of winning the National Child Award for Exceptional Achievement by Ram Nath Kovind, the President of India in 2017.

Her debut was in Dangal, where she portrayed the role of Geeta Phogat.

The highest grossing Indian film it grossed more than ₹2,000 crore (US$290 million) worldwide. She got a lot of appreciation for the musical drama Secret Superstar ranked among the highest-grossing Indian films. Awards like the National Film Award for Best Supporting Actress and Filmfare Critics Award for Best Actress kept her in good spirits as a professional.

In June 2019, she announced she would be leaving the industry

Her last film will be the Sky is Pink helmed by Shonali Bose.

AIB: Subtle Art of Fucking up in true blue Bakchod Style

AIB from the pinnacle of glory fell into the deep pit of oblivion with them getting trapped in a sexual misconduct case which did not just damage livelihoods but even wiped out one of the most promising standup collectives from the comedy scene in India

Comedian Tanmay Bhat recently shared a message on his social media handle where he spoke of suffering from clinical depression. He in the video claims that he has been feeling a little mentally checked out.  Bhat has been out of the comedy scene, eversince the axe fell on him for alleged inaction on his longstanding team member Utsav Chakraborty for being involved in a sexual misconduct case.

Having risen to fame with comedy group AIB, he says – I feel almost paralysed and unable to participate socially, online or even offline. For most of my adult life I worked at a company that I was trying to build. And having to watch the letting the office go, all the people who worked with us, having to say good bye to that took a toll on me mentally and physically which finally came to a headway around the end of the last year and doctors told me that I am suffering from clinical depression and told me to consider doing something about it.”

Not long back AIB made it public that Bhat would no longer be their CEO.

Artists of all hues have come out in support of the standup act. Singer-composer Vishal Dadlani wrote – ” No rush, no pressure, take time you need to figure it out, but know that there is a world of love for you out there.”

Comedian Kenny Sebastian wrote: “Gone through so much and come out wiser and stronger, this will be no different.”

All this love has come at a time when Tanmay Bhat and Gursimran Khamba have been dropped from Prime Originals Comicstaan 2 and Gormint.

While action on AIB has been prompt, comedian Kanan Gill still has figured in Comicstaan 2.

Not long back even Hotstar cancelled On Air with AIB in the midst of third season. Even the Mumbai Film Festival shelved AIB’s Chintu Ka Birthday from the lineup.

Even Gursimran Khamba has been accused of sexual misconduct and was sent on indefinite leave.

In a statement issued from the team, they were clear All India Bakchod (AIB) is broke and the YouTube channel is dead. This was attributed to “business going to zero,” with them not being able to “sustain outgoing costs.”

Having started as a small podcast by Bhat and Khamba in Mumbai in 2012, the name conjured up humorous appeal and a satirical take on politics and beyond.

The team saw the entry of Rohan Joshi and Ashish Shakya as co-founders after its conception, and the four turned the gamble into a full-fledged creative company with uniquely original stand-up shows and often branded content.

The team sailed into rough weather when they did a first of it’s kind roast in india. In 2015, AIB’s controversial roast show ‘AIB Knockout’ had ruffled quite a few feathers with activist Santosh Daundkar filing an FIR against 14 people appearing in it. Featuring the likes of Karan Johar, Deepika Padukone, Ranveer Singh and Alia Bhatt, among others the country was taking note wth them having entered the big league.

In a year these stars were featured in a ‘India’s top 10 YouTube superstars’ list that termed them role models. Featuring alongside Shah Rukh Khan in Forbes India’s 2015 list as top earners the country was seeing their rise.

Venturing into an advertising arm Vigyapanti and then a stand alone writing programme First Draft turned them into a unique communication agency.

With each controversy that came their way, AIB grew stronger. The ability to take on the Prime Minister, speaking up on free speech, or the Snapchat dog filter fiasco, captioned #wanderlust”.

But there moment of retrospection came when the #MeToo movement turned AIB into those who themselves had scant regard for women. This completely shattered their image creating deep divisions.

Utsav Chakraboty on 4 October 2018 was charged of misconduct by writer-comedian Mahima Kukreja.

After a string of apologies, AIB finally succumbed saying they had messed up consequently spelling doom for AIB.

But the broader point is that AIB had been consistent in putting out content speaking of feminism, critiquing oppressive structures, and speaking truth to power.

Despite his suspension being lifted, Bhat is no longer CEO, Khamba now plans to have his own venture called Light@27.

As of date AIB remains broke, no CEO, no office and barely any employees. Co-founders Rohan Joshi and Ashish Shakya have been holding fort all this while. The loss though is for those 3.5 million YouTube subscribers.

How an injured shoulder conspired against destiny to churn out Brand SRK

From just Rs 1500 in his pocket when he reached Bombay to being Bollywood’s undisputed Badshah: Delhi boy SRK has never looked back

As youngsters we have always been fascinated by the aura of King Khan, Badshah Khan better known as SRK or by his maiden name Shahrukh Khan. While the Badshah has been a runaway hit among his fans, his rise is no less a rags to riches story.

While its common to say that some were born to be a star, Khan who has his roots in Delhi  and Afghanistan grew up fighting his way out to rise the social ladder. An actor, producer cum television personality, Khan has the distinction of appearing in over 80 films. He has won multiple accolades, including 14 Filmfare Awards. He has been conferred the Padma Shri, the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres and the Légion d’honneur.

He moved from Delhi to Mumbai to pursue a full-time career in Bollywood, and was quickly signed up for four films.

When Khan came to Mumbai, he had just Rs 1500 with him and wanted to earn a lakh at least.

Fortunately he claims even though he has had to take up roles rejected by others, he never seld his soul for stardom.

Today SRK owns a Rolls Royce Coupe costing Rs 4.1 crore. SRK also boasts of a Bugatti Veyron parked in his garage. Apart from that he has a Mercedes Benz S600 Guard worth Rs 2.8 crore. A fan of BMW cars, he has BMW 6 Series, 7 Series and BMW i8 parked at home.

Widely popular his homes are ‘Mannat’, Dubai’s Palm Jumeriah worth 24 crore and a villa in London’s Park Lane neighbourhood worth Rs 172 crore.

His dream vanity van is worth Rs 3.8 crore.

Born to a Muslim family in New Delhi his initial years were spent in Mangalore. He is grandson to Ifthikar Ahmed, a chief engineer of the port in the 1960s. His paternal grandfather, Jan Muhammad was an ethnic Pashtun from Afghanistan. His dad Meer Taj Mohammed Khan played the role of an Indian independence activist in Peshawar.  Khan’s mother, Lateef Fatima, was the daughter of a senior government engineer.

Brought up in Rajendra Nagar neighbourhood of Delhi his father was a businessman who had a restaurant, and they lived a middle-class life in rented apartments. A product of a school in Central Delhi, he excelled in studies and sports receiving the Sword of Honour. Inclined to enter the sporting arena he failed to make the cut with a shoulder injury coming in its way.

Then is when he took active part in stage plays and received praise for his imitations of Bollywood actors. He has always admired greats like Dilip Kumar, Amitabh Bachchan, and Mumtaz.

An Economics student, he spent most of his time at Delhi’s Theatre Action Group (TAG)under Barry John. He has been part of National School of Drama during his early career in Bollywood. When his parents passed away, he took full responsibility of his sister.

He started off as an actor in the 1980 appearing in TV shows, his cinema debut  was in 1992 with Deewana . Khan’s first starring role was in Lekh Tandon’s television series Dil Dariya, that started rolling in 1988, but production delays led to 1989 series Fauji becoming his TV debut.

He carved a niche for himself with performances in Darr, Baazigar and Anjaam  each a stellar portrayl of a villian. He showed his romantic flair with Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge, Dil To Pagal Hai, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, Mohabbatein  and Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham.

As a star his versatility came out as he donned the role of an alcoholic in Devdas, a hockey player in Chak De India, a NASA scientist in Swades  and a man with Asperger syndrome in My Name Is Khan. He raked in the moolah with ventures like Chennai Express, Happy New Year , Dilwale and Raees. Not to forget the very popular Don franchise.

Part of several reputed collaborations and cricket leagues, he is also much sought after on TV as a presenter lauded by World Economic Forum and UNESCO for his philanthropic work.

In SRK’s own account a lot of people helped him to be who he is today

He has in an interview said that the biggest names including Hema Malini imparted wisdom to him so that he would be able to make better choices. For the younger generation the message is loud and clear – It’s like that Survivor song – The thrill of the fight is to stand up and fight the challenge of the rival and always aim the eye of the Tiger.

बेपनाह मोहब्बत के बादशाह राज कपूर भी कभी अकेलेपन के शिकार थे

सारी दुनिया पर राज करने वाला शोमेन जब नरगिस से बिच्छरा तो यून लगा मानो तन्हाई उसकी सहेली बन गयी हो| उसके टूटे दिल को कोई तब संभाल ना पाया……

हम लोग ऐसे समय में जीते हैं जब लिंक अप और ब्रेक अप  आम बात है, पर कुछ किस्से  ऐसे भी हैं बॉलीवुड में जो इन सब के बहुत ऊपर है| क्या ग़ज़ब संयोग है की राज कपूर  की पुण्यतिथि के एक दिन पहले ही नरगिस दत्त  की साल गिरह मनाई जाती है| और ऐसे में उनकी मोहब्बत का ज़िक्र ना हो तो कुछ अधूरा सा महसूस होता है|

हाल फिलहाल में RK स्टूडियोस के बंद होने के बाद काफ़ी कुछ लिखा जा चुका है, पर बहुत कम ही लोग जानते हैं की राज और नरगिस की ही मोहब्बत पर आधारित था RK स्टूडियोस का लोगो जिसमे नरगिस और राज कपूर को पोज़ देते हुए देखा जा सकता है|

गौर से देखिए तो उस लोगो में राज के बिखरे बाल, सुडौल बदन और एक वाइयोलिन पकड़े नरगिस के साथ देखा जा सकता है| शायद ही कोई बॉलीवुड की प्रेम कहानी होगी जो इतनी प्रचलित हो| कपूर जो की इस साल 95 होते अगर वो जीवित होते, उन्होने एक बार कहा था की उनके बच्चों की मा उनकी पत्नी थी, परंतु उनके फिल्मों की मा नरगिस थी|

राज और नरगिस की पहली मुलाकात तब हुई जब नरगिस के आठ फिल्मों ने चार चाँद लगा दिया था, 1945 में, और राज नये नये कलाकार थे|

दोनो की जुगलबंदी जो 1948 के आग फिल्म से शुरू हुई वो श्रोताओं के सर चढ़ कर बोलने लगी और बरसात फिल्म आते आते हर एक के ज़ुबान पर था| नरगिस को राज इतने पसंद थे की उन्होनें मन ही मन राज को अपना हमदम मान लिया था|

 उन्होने समय, मन और धन सब उनके फिल्मों पर क़ुरबान कर दिया जिससे राज को फायेदा हो| जब पैसों का संकट RK स्टूडियोस पर आया तो उन्होने अपने सोने के कंगन बेच दिए| बहुत सारे चर्चित प्रोड्यूसर्स के साथ उन्होने उस दौर में इस लिए काम किया की कुछ धन राशि जुटा सकें|

राज, जिनके लिए माना जाता है की उन्होने मोहब्बत के बारीकियों को हिन्दी सिनिमा को सिखाया, उनके लिए नरगिस एक प्रेमी, अभिनेत्री, दोस्त और प्रोत्साहन के स्रोत के अलावा एक जीवन संगिनी थी| 

नरगिस का प्यार इतने ऊफान पे था की राज को नरगिस से फिल्मों में जुदा करना मुश्किल था|

इतनी शिद्दत से मोहब्बत के बाद जब, नरगिस ने सुनील दत्त से शादी करने का मॅन बनाया तो राज टूट चुके थे|

उनको इतना ज़ोर का धक्का लगा था की वो शराब पीने लगे गम भूलने के लिए और अक्सर रोते थे| नरगिस और राज की दूरी तब बढ़ने लगी जब उन्हे ये महसूस हुआ की उन्हे मन पसंद क़िरदार जीने को नही मिल रहे थे|

चाहे वो श्री 420 हो या फिर और फिल्में, एक ऐसी टीस दिल में नरगिस के घर कर गयी की उन्होने मदर इंडिया के लिए अपनी हाँहि भर दी. जब पिक्चर रिलीस हुई तो राज के लिए बुरी खबर आई की सुनील और नरगिस एक दूसरे के हो गये थे|

राज के लिए सुनील की ये सबसे बड़ी गद्दारी थी और इस सब के चलते राज कपूर के करियर पे गहरा असर पड़ा|

यहाँ तक की जब कॅन्सर पीड़ित नरगिस ने आखरी साँस ली तो राज आए पर दूर से ही आखरी अलविदा बोल के चले गये| उन्होने तब कहा था मेरे सब दोस्त चले जा रहे हैं| काले चश्मे के पीछे उस दिन की उदासीनता को बहुत कम ही लोग भाप पाए थे |

राज कपूर जिनको भारत का चार्ली चॅप्लिन भी कहा जाता था वो ना केवल आक्टर थे, उन्होने आचे फिल्मों की लंबी लड़ी लगा दी थी देश में. पेशावॉर में जन्मे राज  ने फिल्मों को हर पल जिया|

राज कपूर ने 1987 में दादासाहेब फाल्के पुरस्कार जीता. उन्हें 1971 में पद्मा भूषण से नवाज़ा गया|

फिल्मों के युगपुरुष और महानायक के रूप में आज भी राज कपूर को देखा जाता है|

उनके कलात्मकता की छाप आग, बरसात, श्री 420  और आवारा में बखूबी झलकती है|

भारत से लेकर रशिया तक “आवारा हूँ, या गर्दिश में हू आसमान का तारा हूँ,” “बरसात मैं हमसे मिले तुम साजन तुमसे मिले हम,” “मेरा जूता है जापानी, यह पतलून हिन्दुस्तानी,” “घर आया मेरा परदेसी,” “दम भर जो उधर मुँह फेरे ओ चंदा,” और “प्यार हुआ इकरार हुआ है प्यार से फिर क्यों डरता है दिल,” जैसे गाने आज भी हूमें उनकी याद दिलाती रहती है|

उनको सुरीला पहचान देने वाले मुकेश जब गुज़रे तब राज ने कहा था की आज मेरा आवाज़ चला गया|

राज की फिल्म संगम ने फिल्मों की दुनिया में नये कीर्तिमान स्थापित किए थे|

राज और राजेंद्र की फिल्मों को ख़ासा पसंद किया गया|

अच्छी सब्जेक्ट पे फिल्म बनाने वालों में से एक, राज ने गंगा पर आधारित राम तेरी गंगा मैली हो गयी बनाया तो लोग वाह वाही करते थक नही रहे थे|

हिना, मेरा नाम जोकर और काग़ज़ के फूल ने भी राज को ये दिखाने का मौका दिया की वो अपने समय के कलाकारों से बहुत आगे सोचते थे|

राज जिन्हे शोमन का खिताब मिला था उन्हे 3 राष्ट्रीय सम्मान, 11 फ़िल्मफेर पुरस्कार और उनके आवारा  को टाइम ने सर्वश्रेस्थ 10 अभिनायों में जगह  दी| विदेशी मूल के क्लार्क गेबल से उनकी तुलना कई बार की गयी है|

उनके करियर का सबसे पहला फिल्म था 1935 का इंक़लाब |

आखरी सफल फिल्म उनकी थी 1964 का संगम|

राज ने 1946 में आख़िरकार कृष्णा मल्होत्रा से शादी कर ली|

राज और कृष्णा के तीन बच्चे थे – रणधीर, ऋषि और राजीव. उनके दो बच्चियाँ थी ऋतु नंदा और रीमा जैन|

कहा जाता है की राज का व्यजयंतीमाला और दक्षिण भारत की पद्‍मिनी से भी प्रेम प्रसंग था|

उनके कई फिल्मों में देश प्रेम का भी संदेश था| आज के युग में जब बॉलीवुड में 250 से 350 फिल्में बनती हैं, एक और राज और नरगिस की ज़रूरत है जो कला और फिल्मों की पाकीज़गी को बरकरार रखे|

From the gullies of Nalasopara to US reality TV, ‘The Kings’ take the world by storm

Talent comes in all shapes and sizes and it is found in the remotest and poorest of colonies, one such place is Nalasopara from where The Kings have risen

It is nothing short of a fairytale how The Kings rose from the gullies of Nalasopara and then made a mark in the World of Dance

Once a subject of the popular Any Body Can Dance Franchise in Bollywood, the Kings have bucked all trends to become world beaters in the global dancing arena.

They were recently crowned as winners of the third season of the popular US based reality TV show.

Judged by singer cum actor Jennifer Lopez, rapper Ne – Yo and dancer Derek Hough these youngsters from an Indian suburb have taken the world by storm.

The feat saw fulsome praise coming from filmstars and celebrities from across the spectrum of Bollywood.

Farah Khan, Vishal Dadlani, Renuka Shahane, Rannvijay Singha, and Varun Dhawan among others are nothing but praise for them.

They nailed it with a performance dressed as gladiators and presented a powerful act filled with death defying stunts coupled with good choreography.

Scoring a perfect 100 they won the competition which comes with a prize money of $1 million.

The director/ choreographer of the 14 member crew has said that the experience has been the best.

The Kings have not just made a mark in India’s Got Talent 2011 but they were also bronze medal winners at the World Hip Hop Championship 2015, San Diego.

They were also part of the iconic Boogie Woogie and Entertainment ke Liye Kuch Bhi Karega. They also headlined at the Indian Premier League opening ceremony in 2016.

The Kings beat Canadian contemporary dancer Briar Nolet, sisters Ellie and Ava, VPeepz, a hip-hop group from the Philippines, and Unity LA from Southern California in the competition.

In February, The Kings showed their intense dance routine on ‘Dhakka Laga Bhukka’ from the 2004 Bollywood movie Yuva.

Unity LA was adjudged the first runner up with a score of 95.7, the second Ellie and Ava with a score of 95, and the third VPeepz with a score of 93.7.

World of Dance started as a dance event  at US in 2008. Over the years it has become a reality TV series on NBC.

As an international reality TV show it is hosted in 25 countries.

The show has also been hosted in India.

Both Chennai and Mumbai have played host to the World of Dance.

Among the 14 memebers of The Kings are —Ritesh Vishwakarma, Karthik Priyadarshan, Shijin Ramesh, Chandan Acharya, Sunny Chatterjee, Mohan Pandey, Charles Edward, Pratik Gojare, Prem Bhawar, Pavan Rao, Raja Das, Hardik Rawat, Akshay Varavdekar, Hritik Gupta, and Naidu Vishwakarma.

While the guys from Nalasopara do not plan to do anymore shows for now, foremost on their itinerary is a world tour for three months where they will hold dance workshops in the US and Australia.

Sipping juice and cursing the Media, doesn’t work Mrs Sen

I have grown up in a family that has always believed in the power of the media, arts and our ever so vibrant culture. In that sense, we have grown up listening to stories of the legendary stars of yesteryears and how they had their class, yet a tinge of idiosyncracies was hard to miss in few.

I like Moon Moon Sen, she comes from a family that is well recorded for its contribution to cinema. If not in a film shooting, she takes out time to do cookery shows and has tastes that are associated to the privileged class. Her English is great, the fashion and pomp and fair predictable, but her attitude towards the man with the mike is quite apparent.

As someone who has been part of the elite club, it is no surprise that when as a member of the TMC, she is tossed a question, her rebuttal is – Oh I got my bed tea very late I know nothing about violence in Asansol. To add salt to injury, she later adds, “A little violence always happens.”

As per an NDTV report – Half a dozen people were injured and over 100 people were arrested following clashes during polling. It is this elitist approach that does many of us more harm than good.

I did not like the way, Moon Moon threatened a reasonably senior journalist saying I will sue you, when she was questioned about some problems during voting. At times when politicians are expected to have a vision for their constituency, she told the journalist I think the TMC high command should answer why I was chosen for Asansol.

The hard truth is that when we as journalists report or review a film and give a five star rating, we are cool. When we ask ethically correct questions, we are branded. Well, life can be downright mean for us in the fraternity.

It is even more shocking when this yesteryear’s star sipping juice from a glass with a straw, tells a journalist – “This has not happened before. These guys don’t know I speak to journalists from as far as London. If they want, tell them to go and lick ass of the BJP.”

Well I reckon, despite you not knowing Hindi, even if a stringer from Bahraich or Bareilly shoots tough questions, let alone an editor, you are liable to answer. Because even journalists from the Hindi Heartland, the cow belt for many are worth a dime.

And let’s not tell journalists – you were not even born then referring to communist rule. I am sure a zillion scribes in India believe in homework more than you do. Politically Moon Moon Sen may have her reasons for this kind of behaviour given she was once dubbed the giant killer beating CPI –Ms nine-time lawmaker in Bankura hollow.

This time her prospective future Karmabhoomi has shifted to Asansol. As someone who is credited with films across languages like Bengali, Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Marathi and Kannada. With a repertoire of 60 films and 40 television series, a recipient of the Andhra Pradesh state Nandi Award for Best Supporting Actress in 1987 she needs to be careful.

Daughter to Suchitra Sen and Dibanath Sen, she is a product of Loreto, Somerville College, Oxford and Jadavpur University, Kolkata. A protege of the great Jamini Roy she has had a keen eye on art and collecting antiques. She continued in the education sector till she married. She made her debut in Andar Baahar (1984).

Soban Ahmad Khan’s ‘Wi – Fi Connection’ is a glimmer of hope in depressing times

Speaking up takes courage, but once spoken, some words may communicate way better than your inherent silence

We have all faced that sinking feeling sometime or the other. We have felt depressed. We have also been addicted to the social media and internet thanks to smartphones, tablets and laptops. But have we bothered to approach someone and talk when we actually needed some help.

We want to be a popular blogger, Youtuber and online star but have we understood what impact such things do when things do not go as per plan. Do we understand that one wi – fi connection if turned into a be all and end all of our life, it virtually kills us.

And yes it actually leaves us mentally wrecked more often than not. From old times when we would be religiously going out with our friends to play cricket or cycle. Sometimes even hooking up our video game and playing Contra or Mario, life is fast turning into I, me and mine for many of us.

Today in the digital age, the countless hours spent on the world wide web gives us a window of experiences and visions, but what it has done tragically is to have cut us out socially.

 Glued to our small and big screens, we have actually forgotten the art of real communication and problem solving through opening up with our loved ones.

Wi – Fi connection a film by young filmmaker Soban Ahmad Khan tries to send out a message that it is very essential that we value relations and conversation with peers and elders more than time spent online.

It tells you about how a superficial existence online which is not your real self does one more harm than good. It damages you in terms of career, family, relations and your image in the outside world. Unless offcourse you make use of the internet and online media sparingly.

With us socially misfits, we our either lost in our own sweet world or are forever throwing tantrums on people who actually mean business. By the time we know of where we are heading due to this it is actually too late.

It is this very aspect that the short film picks up and tries to deal with, where a father and son are poles apart but one interruption in the wi – fi network brings out the hidden feelings of the boy poignantly. Only to reinforce the bonding between father and son, leading to his reformation.

Wi – Fi Connection has already been lapped up for its content. It is the Official selection for the 6th Noida International Film Festival 2019, 2nd Ahmednagar Short Film Festival 2019, 3rd Indapur National Short Film Festival 2019, Recon Short Film Contest 2019 and 2nd South Asian Short Film Festival 2019.

The makers call the film a story about the unconscious differences between two persons. Conceptualized around rough patches or gaps between two people and how they bridge it in their journey. The film stars Harshvardhan Singh as Saad,  Rohit Yadav as Saad’s Father  and Som Ganguly as Karan Malhotra. It has been written, directed and produced by : Soban Ahmad Khan. Cinematography and Editing is by Soban Ahmad Khan. The background score for the film is by local Bilingual band Escape Artist. As creative pursuits take up the topic and deal with it sincerely, there is tremendous hope that the young will start to get back to the real world and try living a life really, rather than virtually.

Why are Mental Hai Kya critics, conveniently forgetting 1970s hit Khilona?

Mental health problems drain you out. It makes you feel insecure. It makes you secluded. It forces you to live in isolation. One’s mental health problems are not something that needs to be taken for granted or joked about. But somewhere down the line we must remember, certain things that the Hindi film industry does is to entertain more than inform and educate.

At times when there is a raging debate on how right or wrong is the title Mental Hai Kya, the over reactions and the calls for censorship are funny, if not foolish.

Bollywood and its depiction of mentally deranged characters and physically handicapped characters, dates back a long way. If we were so touchy about such subjects then how is it that 1970s classic Khilona featuring Sanjeev Kumar was a raging hit. Khilona according to TheHindu was nothing less than a glorious victory of the Underdog. The film starred popular faces of that time like Mumtaaz and Shatrughan Sinha as well. We should have felt irked even then when a mentally challenged person was compared to a toy. Isn’t it?

Kumar notably played VijayKamal, younger scion of a rich Thakur family, a jinxed poet who lost his sanity on seeing the death of his beloved.

Written by Gulshan Nanda and directed by Chander Vohra it was a critically acclaimed film.

Khilona a remake of Telugu movie Punarjanma (1963) was made in Tamil and later on in Malayalam.

The film at the 18th Filmfare Awards in 1971, won the Filmfare Best Movie Award and Filmfare Best Actress Award for Mumtaz. It had got nominated for Best Actor (Sanjeev Kumar), Best Comic (Jagdeep), Best Story (Gulshan Nanda) and Best Male Playback Singer (Mohd. Rafi).

The success story of Khilona was interesting given that back then it took on Dev Anand’s “Johny Mera Naam” and Rajesh Khanna, who featured in as many as five films at that very time. “Khilona” was rated as a hit.

Naysayers who have been questioning the title of Mental Hai Kya should be reminded that this is not the first time that a subject of this nature is being dealt with.

Films like Kalki Koechlin starrer Maragarita with a Straw, Hrithik Roshan starrer Guzaarish, October, Aamir Khan’s Taare Zameen Par, struggles of a deaf and dumb couple in Koshish, Black, SRK starrer My Name is Khan, Priyanka Chopra starrer Barfi, Paa, Sadmaa, Iqbal, Zubaan, Angel all have tried to discuss and map the mind of disabled or mentally challenged people in the course of the creative process.

Both Hollywood and Bollywood has done films that have tried to capture the pathos of a mentally challenged person.

Be it a young orthopaedically challenged boy in “Dream Girl” or Rajesh Khanna’s handicapped sister in “Saccha Jhoota,” films have never shied away from portraying disability.

Even Dilip Kumar played a blind man in “Deedar”.

Coming to Mental Hai Kya, it ran into trouble when the Rajkumar Rao and Kangana Ranaut starrer faced objections from the Indian Psychiatric Society (IPS) objecting to the title. The objections have been made plain and simple to Prasoon Joshi, chief of the Censor Board, calling for strong action.

Having irked mental health experts , the film has been called ‘ignorant’ and has been blamed for adding to stigma regarding mental health conditions.

Critics believe the film has been derogatory and unpleasant , further hinting at sarcastic, unwelcome comments.

A still released shows the two leads trying to balance a razor blade between their tongues.

There are growing calls for changes where it is felt that the title is derogatory and offensive. There are also requests to the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) to censor portions violating rights of the people with mental health concerns.

The film has been directed by Prakash Kovelamudi and produced by Ekta Kapoor under the Balaji Telefilms banner. The movie is written by Kanika Dhillon.

The makers claim that the film will encourage people to embrace their individuality and distinctiveness. The film has been termed a fictional thriller genre feature film. That wants to entertain audiences and it does not offend, discriminate or disregard any person.

Mental Hai Kya is scheduled to release on June 21.

As consumers of a product of Bollywood, it is expected that the public will be given the choice and chance to decide whether a film is actually one that lacks merit. After all what is the Box Office and people’s verdict for.

Clown Prince of Crime : A Method in the Madness

The character of the Joker evokes diverse feelings especially fear and hate, but it has stood the tests of time as a Gotham character in popular culture.

The Joker over the years has come to be hated and loved in equal measure. Loved for the connect the character has with the Gotham universe and hated for the sheer madness that the character comes to exemplify.

The Joker considered an arch nemesis of the Dark Knight from a comic strip to celluloid has come of age with some of the finest talents portraying the character with great elan. The latest being Joaquin Phoenix who plays the Clown Prince of Crime as he is being called.

The Joker has been referred to as the Clown Prince of Crime, the Harlequin of Hate, and the Ace of Knaves.

Keen watchers of the Gotham saga are calling Joaquin the creepiest of the lot. Joaquin joins a rich league of stars to have played the character over past decades.

Be it TV, comics, cartoons and cinema the Joker has perhaps been one of the most revered villains of all time.

The uniqueness of Joaquin’s character is that it is set outside Warner Bros and the DC Films’.

Directed by Todd Phillips, the film talks of the origins of the infamous Joker. The portrayal is already creating waves in fandom.

Joaquin as Joker is being called the creepiest based on makeup, laugh, smile and a never accessed before backstory.

International reviewers who have delved deep into the Joker legacy write –  while Caeser Ramero’s portrayal in the ’60s is campy, Jack Nicholson’s is a mix of goofy and madness. Mark Hamill’s performance in animated shows is highly regarded, and Cameron Monaghan has impressed Gotham viewers with his own spin on the character. Jared Leto’s take from Suicide Squad divided audiences, but it is Heath Ledger’s portrayal from The Dark Knight that was an award winning turn often considered the best.

While reports suggest that Jared Leto is potentially working on a second Joker film, Warner Bros is yet to confirm any rumours.

It was the sheer brilliance of the actor that fetched Heath Ledger the Oscar for best actor posthumously.

Ledger died on January 22, 2008 after a toxicology report revealed a fatal mix of prescription drugs in his system.

Historically the person to have filled the shoes of the Joker for the longest time is Mark Hamill.

Academy Award winner Jack Nicholson, 81, played the Joker in Tim Burton’s 1989 adaptation of the comic book.

The original Joker, Cesar Romero, was known for his acting and singing skills well before playing the Joker in Batman: The Movie (1966).

Batman as a character was first introduced in Detective Comics#27 in 1939.

From a man who is a violent sociopath who murders people for amusement to a goofy trickster-thief, the Joker has many shades to him.. The Joker has been involved in the paralysis of the Batgirl and the murders of Jason Todd (the second Robin) and Jim Gordon’s second wife Sarah Essen.

Once rejected by studio writer Bill Finger as being “too clownish,” it was Bob Kane who did justice to the character of the Joker.

The iconic Bob Kane character was reportedly inspired by Conrad Veidt’s Gwynplaine in the 1928 silent movie The Man Who Laughs 

Most of the Joker’s crimes involved killing people. With the introduction of the Comics Code Authority over the years the character of the Joker mellowed down. Post mid-60’s, the Joker and his visibility went down.

The Joker sprang back to life only when the 1966 Batman TV series happened, and the consequent spinoff Batman: The Movie.

In the Comics world, the Joker returned after a 4 year hiatus in 1973.

The Joker got his own series in 1975, the first DC Comic to feature a villain as the protagonist but it did not live beyond 9 issues.

Inner turbulence and violence got a different dimension in the late 80s.

1989 saw another first for the character when the Joker appeared in the second ever Batman video game, Batman: The Caped Crusader.

Following the success of Batman Begins, its sequel, The Dark Knight, introduced the Joker, portrayed by Heath Ledger.

With both Gotham and now Suicide Squad introducing new incarnations of the Joker in live action, the next few years will exciting for the Clown Prince of Crime inside and outside comics.

Revenge looks best when served warmly in Amitabh Bachchan starrer Badla

Revenge is best served cold, but in Sujoy Ghosh’s Badla, revenge comes with its fair share of warmth. If you have seen Tapsee Pannu and Amitabh Bachchan in Pink, you will definitely connect with them in Badla. A revenge drama it revolves around a conversation in a room regarding a case with ample instances of flashbacks.

Its racy, gripping, full of moments that will keep you hooked to your seat egging you to want to know what happens next. A film full of twists and turns its one of those films where the thrill of the theatre goes beyond just cola and popcorn.

An extramarital affair, a murder most foul, an attack from an invisible foe and a clear design to coverup things lead to a plot which shows of Sujoy Ghosh’s penchant for thrillers. A director whose last outing was Vidya Balan starrer Kahaani it is one of those rare films where each one of the characters add equal weightage to the script.

Bachchan and Tapsee light up the film with good acting and clever chatter, even though the film is mostly shot inside a room. For those into detective films and especially the Sherlock Holmes lovers will see strains of that influence in the film.

Naina Sethi is a hardened businesswoman who would do anything to have her way. Badal Gupta is a legal eagle who has never lost a case in life. Gupta will not let his client down, but there is something amiss in the narration of events by Naina. An accidental death of a son turns a boy Sunny’s mother Rani ( Amrita Singh) against Naina and we follow the tete a tate only to realize finally that this exchange of words completely exposes the shrewd Naina Sethi. Even Manav Kaul who plays Jimmy Punjabi, a lawyer is a great experience even though brief. One who plays the bridge between Badal Gupta and Naina Sethi.

Misleading details and cross questioning unravel a third dimension to the crime in hand, which gets murkier as we proceed. There are ample references to the Mahabharata and true meaning of revenge in mythology that keeps the plot brewing.

The Bachchan starrer has frames filled with tension, with both Bachchan and Pannu talking, trading barbs and sometimes even sharing ugly glances. Both the actors are terrific at their wordplay. Take two instances where Bachchan says – Woh murkh hota hai jo sirf sach ko hi janta hai par sach aur jhooth ke fark ko nahin janta. Or where he refers to Mahabharata’s Drapaudi episode saying – Badla lena har baar sahi nahin hota, lekin maaf kar dena bhi har baar sahi nahin hota

Badla reportedly is an official remake of Spanish film The Invisible Guest. Sujoy Ghosh and co writer Raj Vasant have adapted the story by swapping the genders. It is shot in exotic locations in Scotland and UK.

Cinematographer Avik Mukhopadhyay adds tremendous gravitas to the film by way of those critical shots.

Badla is presented by Shahrukh Khan’s Red Chillies Entertainment in association with Azure Entertainment. It is produced by Gauri Khan, Sunir Kheterpal and Akshai Puri. A Sujoy Ghosh Directorial it released on 8th March 2019.

Presently Bachchan is shooting for a bilingual project titled – Tera Yaar Hoon Main. Bachchan senor is also working on Ayan Mukerji’s “Brahmastra”, featuring Ranbir Kapoor and Alia Bhatt as leads.

Meanwhile Taapsee Pannu is working on projects like “Saand Ki Aankh”,  a film on world’s oldest sharpshooters Chandro and Prakashi Tomar. The other notable project she is associated with is Mission Mangal with Akshay Kumar and Vidya Balan. In south Game Over keeps her busy.