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Archive for November, 2009|Monthly archive page

The 2009 MIAAC Award Winners are:

In Uncategorized on November 18, 2009 at 3:32 PM

Best Short Film Award: Good Night directed by Geetika Narang. Award presented by Manisha Koirala and Rajit Kapur. The other two nominees were Medicine Man directed by Himkar Tak and It Rises from the East directed by Sudeep Kanwal.

Best Documentary Film Award: The Salt Stories directed by Lalit Vachani. Award presented by Madhur Jaffrey and Sanjay Suri. The other two nominees were Air India by Sturla Gunnarsson and Lucky Ducks by Tracey Jackson.

Best Actor Award: Aasif Mandvi for Today’s Special. Award presented by Sarita Choudhury and Shyam Benegal. The other two nominees were Naseeruddin Shah (Shortchanged) and Rahul Bose (Endless Wait).

Best Actress Award: Tannishtha Chatterjee for Bombay Summer. Award presented by Shabana Azmi and Rahul Bose. The other two nominees were Sarita Choudhury (For Real) and Manisha Koirala (Two Paise for Sunshine).

Best Screenplay Award: Two Paise for Sunshine, Four Annas for Rain by Deepti Naval. Award presented by Javed Ahktar and Amitav Ghosh. The other two nominees were Endless Wait by Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury and Shortchanged by Raja Menon.

Best Director Award: Joseph Mathew-Varghese for Bombay Summer. Award presented by Mira Nair and Anurag Kashyap. The other two nominees were Raja Menon (Shortchanged) and Deepti Naval (Two Paise).

Best Film Award: Bombay Summer directed by Joseph Mathew-Varghese. Award presented by Tracey Jackson and Aasif Mandvi. The other two nominees were Shortchanged and Two Paise.

For more information on the MIAAC Film Festival, please visit www.miaacfilmfest.org.

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Finding the Good in the Bad

In Uncategorized on November 18, 2009 at 3:06 PM

Courtesy of Popculture Divas

By E. Nina Rothe

Because of the colder weather, shorter days and gloomier light in NYC these days, I’ve been thinking more and more about serious issues. It often happens to me in the fall, I retreat inside and therefore inward too. Apart from experiencing a mild case of SAD each winter — I recently wrote a post about this year’s more serious bout with it on my blog — lots of heavy world causes and lofty ideas begin inhabiting my
mind, distracted only by the upcoming holidays and some miscellaneous winter events.
Most of you are certainly aware that World AIDS Day is on the 1st of December of every year

and takes place around the globe, with various ‘celebrations’ and observances which vary from open-air gatherings, to marches and parties thrown by the best and brightest celebrities of films, music and sports. While I always knew the day was there, I never fully participated, other than perhaps wearing my red ribbon for 24 hours, or buying a (RED) t-shirt at the Gap… This year, a project close to my heart brought new meaning and passion to this incredibly important world health cause and gave me the push necessary to begin understanding this crisis from a very personal viewpoint.

The first case of HIV was detected in India in 1986 and at last count, in 2008, it was estimated that around 2.3 million people are living with the disease there. Of those numbers, 39% are women and 3.9% are children. Although it seems that the disease is no longer progressing as quickly as it once was, it is still a widespread plague and education is the only way to fight it. Education in a country which is mostly rural based with a population that relies on word-of-mouth and pop culture – such as movies and TV – for information. OK, so far so good, right?! Well it would be if it were not for all those pesky morality laws and censor boards, which regulate who and how people can kiss on screen and what can be spoken about on the air. Hence, loads of misconceptions and myths persist about AIDS and HIV, causing the disease to continue spreading, with a slight slowdown in recent times, but at an alarming rate nonetheless. When we figure that the country of India holds ONE FOURTH of the world’s population, the idea of a monstrous disease like AIDS spreading at all is very scary.
Enter Mira Nair and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. In 2007 Ms. Nair introduced the audience of the Indo-American Arts Council film festival in NYC to the film ‘AIDS JaaGO’ – meaning AIDS Awake – a collection of four short films by four of the most beloved filmmakers in modern Indian cinema. The shorts were meant to be played in multiplexes throughout India before the main films, to illuminate and educate the common folks about the disease. While the film received a lot of media attention and the individual shorts played constantly on Indian TV, it is with the very recent release of the DVD – a fabulous release party was organized at a downtown Indian eatery NYC by distributing company FilmKaravan, just this past week – that the film finally has found an international voice. BTW, it’s now available through Amazon and for rent on Netflix. If you have not seen it, I highly recommend it. It’s informative, but more than that, it’s a wonderful piece (pieces!) of filmmaking.
Briefly, the four stories are ‘Positive’ by Farhan Akhtar – he is well respected as both a director and an actor, and is even on the verge of becoming a rockstar in India! – a film dealing with the effects of AIDS on the adult son of a man who appears to have brought the disease on himself… ‘Blood Brothers’ by Vishal Bhardwaj – he is best known as the Indian filmmaker who reworked the Shakespeare tragedies of ‘Macbeth’ and ‘Othello’ to great audience and critical success – which deals with medical mistakes and how horrible the results can be. Then there is ‘Prarambha’ (The Beginning) by South Indian director and cinematographer Santosh Sivan, which is a touching insight into just who the youngest victims of the disease are; and finally Nair’s own ‘Migration’ a film that touches on infidelity and how far and wide the disease is able to travel, truly, in its migration…
The films are all individually poignant but collectively momentous, with the wonderful actors featured – all read like a who’s-who of Indian superstars and supertalents – and great format. Though short in time, each one is a complete and indepth story about relationships and human mistakes. Those kinds of mistakes that I can imagine having made in college or could have happened to my own best friend.
I highly recommend watching the films and now that I own a copy, I find it great to be able to refer to it from time to time. Just in time for World AIDS Day!

Buddhadeb Dasgupta’s Janala (Window): Almodovar-esque!

In Uncategorized on November 17, 2009 at 2:12 PM

Courtesy of Passion for Cinema

By Girimohan Coneti

Buddhadev Dasgupta has been making films (mostly in Bengali) for a little over four decades now. When I noticed that the Mahindra Indo American Arts Council had Buddhadev’s latest offering Janala (Window) in the line up, I instantly jogged my memory back to watching his Bagh Bahadur/ Tiger Man (1989) in the mid 90s. I also happened to see his Charachar (1993) and Swapner Din (2004). However, I have to confess his Bagh Bahadur left me astounded. He uses a technique of narration wherein the emphasis is not on thick plots, but on the simplicity of general human actions and their mild idiosyncrasies. Bagh Bahadur, for instance, was about a central character that does street dance theater by painting his body as a tiger. He hopes to win the affection of a girl with his dance only to be challenged by a real circus with a real leopard. I remember the lazy tracking shots in the climax scenes that exposed the rage and obsession of a man preparing to fight a leopard. When I watched Janala this past Sunday, I saw the same style of narration and the lazy tracking shots. The reason I find this interesting is because, I heard Shyam Benegal (delivering a speech at MIAAC), who has been making movies for over three decades talk about redefining popular cinema and changing his brand of cinema to keep up with this redefinition. Buddhadev definitely didn’t seem to think so given his unchanged style and approach to story telling.

Janala starts with a young couple’s discovery that they are pregnant. They decide to legitimize their relationship with a registered marriage. Bimal (Indraneil Sengupta) and Meera (Swastika Mukerjee) are just about starting their lives. Bimal works in a home for elders as a caregiver and Meera works in a call center. A few days before their marriage, Bimal decides to take a trip to Jhumurpur, where he went to high school. The school caretaker gives him a tour, even as Bimal reminisces his high school days, his lazy teachers and his mischievous classmates. He then notices a dilapidated window in the classroom where he spent his last few years of school. Buddhadev cleverly juxtaposes the metaphors of portals to dreams and destinations (of the window) with Bimal’s future. Bimal, as a student stared outside the window as if it was his portal to the outside world, of places that his geography teacher teaches him, of distant fantasies.

Bimal decides to gift a new window to replace the dilapidated, broken window. He promises the school caretaker that he would be back with the new window. Amidst his financial challenges, Bimal somehow manages to get a new window made that looks exactly like the one that is crumbling. When he delivers the window, he runs into the bureaucracies of the school board who decide not to accept the gift stating that a financial donation would have been more appropriate.

The story thereafter is the journey that Bimal takes with a few of his well wishers, including a truck driver who delivers the window, and a couple (both trapeze artists) who are also pregnant, who are running away from a circus to escape the contract shackles of the circus owner. The trapeze artists story is a clever parallel for Bimal to reflect upon his own impending marriage and the grave challenges people face to establish equilibrium in a world that is laden with selfishness and abject disrespect to noble values.

The pacing of the story is not rushed and Buddhadev does not fall for flashy fast cuts or intrusive music. It begs to ask the obvious question – does a veteran filmmaker really have to keep up with the new methods of story telling or is story telling so universal and ageless that one could use the techniques that they familiar with? Whatever the case, I enjoyed watching Janala. It was previously shown this year at the Toronto Film Festival (where it premiered) and the Telluride Film Festival.

FilmKaravan’s pic for a Thanksgiving opening – The Private Lives of Pippa Lee

In Uncategorized on November 16, 2009 at 4:54 PM

theprivatelivesofpippal

Courtesy of Telegraph.co.uk

By David Gritten

This new tale from writer-director Rebecca Miller is impeccably acted and manages to be sharp satire, dark comedy and wrenching drama.

Until now, the gifted writer-director Rebecca Miller has always conveyed her spiky intelligence more effectively in print rather than on screen; her films Personal Velocity and The Ballad of Jack and Rose felt sketchy and hesitant.

But her latest effort, The Private Lives of Pippa Lee, is of a different order. In the title role, the splendid Robin Wright Penn gets to tackle work worthy of her talents. She plays the fiftyish wife of Herb, a veteran New York publisher (Alan Arkin), who now shares his twilight years in a Connecticut retirement community.

Penn’s Pippa is unknowable: beautiful, charming, a perfect hostess, and faintly bland. Yet inside she’s unravelling: tired of being an enigma, she wants to break free of her constraints.

The film propels us via flashbacks to her earlier life. As a child she was dominated by her speed-freak, pill-popping mother (Maria Bello, fabulously over the top). As a teenager (the promising Blake Lively) she became involved in explicit photo shoots directed by her gay aunt’s partner (Julianne Moore). As a restless, aimless young woman, she met the charismatic Herb.

Pippa’s soul-searching reveals her alarming sleep-walking habit and her attraction for danger (in the shape of a neighbour’s emotionally damaged son, played by Keanu Reeves.) Clearly she’s more complex than the face she presents to the world.

Buttressed by a formidable cast (including Winona Ryder as Pippa’s neurotic friend and Monica Bellucci as Herb’s first wife), Miller navigates her story between sharp satire, dark comedy and wrenching drama.

Pippa feels like a character from films of an earlier vintage, including Diary of a Mad Housewife and The Graduate. Hints and traces of a playful, late 1960s mood abound.

Yet Miller’s film is a triumph. Uniformly well acted, it boasts a psychologically knowing script, clearly written by a smart, assertive human being rather than a software programme. As for the luminous Wright Penn, awards season beckons.

Aasif Mandvi Savors the Biryani of Life

In Uncategorized on November 14, 2009 at 9:53 PM

Aasif-Mandvi-in-Todays-Special

Courtesy of Lassi with Lavina

By Lavina Melwani

One thing you must not do is go to ‘Today’s Special’ on an empty stomach. Popcorn won’t satisfy you once you see all the delicacies in a film where people seem to be constantly cooking, grocery shopping or eating. Although it’s co-written by Aasif Mandvi who also wrote the Obie award-winning one man play ‘Sakina’s Restaurant’, he says the two are very different, and the film is only loosely inspired by a couple of characters from the play.

“It’s much more of a food film, much more of a romantic comedy. It’s a very New York story about Jackson Heights, about a family, about an Indian restaurant but it’s much more of a contemporary story than ‘Sakina’s Restaurant’,” says Mandvi who plays the lead in the film.

‘Today’s Special’, the opening night film of the MIAAC Film Festival in New York, is a fun and funny movie which gets you involved in the travails of Samir, a sous cook in New York, who has to find himself and his culinary soul. He is helped in the journey of self discovery by a mystical taxi driver who treats cooking like a beautiful, complex raga.  (Naseeruddin Shah digs into this meaty role with relish – he’s utterly believable as the charismatic cabbie, a part of the magic of New York).

Along the way, for Samir the reluctant chef there is the business of living, difficult parents, attempts to resurrect Tandoori Palace – his dad’s dumpy failing Indian restaurant, finding true love, not to mention finding himself. And of course, there are all the eats in Jackson Heights.

Mandvi’s co-writer Jonathan Bines is a food critic and comedy writer, so food and comedy were definitely on the menu. Says Mandvi:   “We had this idea – why don’t we write a romantic comedy, a very accessible film about an Indian Muslim family and Indian food, about the alchemy of Indian cuisine. We worked on it for many years – and ultimately here we are!”

With all the great food in the film, especially that mouth-watering biryani, Mandvi surely got to eat well? Not really – they had hired a gaggle of chefs and food stylists and the kitchen you see in the film was serviced by yet another kitchen off camera. The food was all touched up, an art form in itself,  and looked good enough to eat – but wasn’t.

Asked if he helped produce the film, Mandvi grins, “I’m a producer only in the sense that I call the producers every day and bug them! All our money was raised through private equity and we were very fortunate to get financing.” This small film, which is produced by Lillian LaSalle and Nimitt Mankad, was shot in 23 days in Jackson Heights, but still managed to assemble a great crew and cast. ( The executive producer of the film is Rengan Rajaratnam, and according to various media sources, his brother Raj Rajaratnam of Galleon Group, recently charged in the insider trading drama on Wall Street, was also an investor in the film.)

Mandvi is known to fans for his recurring role as the correspondent on ‘The Daily Show with Jon Stewart’ and is hoping that that audience will check out ‘Today’s Special’ as well. He admits that in real life his own personality is closer to that of Samir: “The character on ‘The Daily Show’ is much smarter than me and much better looking than I am!”

What does he hope the audiences take away from the film? “On one level it’s a feel-good romantic comedy about food and love and family and culture. On a deeper level, however, it’s also about the idea that you can’t go forward in life unless you’ve gone back and reconciled with the demons of the past – so there’s a slightly more philosophical component to it.”

Aasif Mandvi makes an appealing Samir – you certainly root for him to discover his inner chef.  The inimitable Madhur Jaffrey and Harish Patel’s histrionics also bring the spice of curry and home into  ‘Today’s Special’ which is a tasty bite of Jackson Heights life that you get to savor without putting on any calories. Bon appetit!

Out of the box

In Aseem Chhabra on November 14, 2009 at 9:45 PM

shabana

Courtesy of Pune Mirror

By Aseem Chhabra

Last week Shabana Azmi and Javed Akhtar walked in the Pranna Restaurant in New York City and cameras and all eyes turned towards them.

The intellectual couple of Bollywood was there to mark the DVD release of AIDS JaaGO — four short films, produced by Mira Nair and funded by Avahan and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The party was hosted by a New York-based film company FilmKaravan, which is managing the DVD rights of the film.

The 2007 AIDS JaaGO collection, featured works by four filmmakers — Nair (Migration), Vishal Bhardwaj (Blood Brothers), Santosh Sivan (Parambha) and Farhan Akhtar (Positive).  Azmi played a supporting role in Akhtar’s Positive, along with Boman Irani and Arjun Mathur.

Walking into mezzanine section of the restaurant, Azmi and Akhtar posed for photographers, spoke briefly with TV reporters, mingled with friends and admirers, and then settled down with appetizers and drinks in one section of the restaurant.

Nair was already there, as was her Mississippi Masala star Sarita Choudhury.  And both were stopping to meet admirers.  Also present were a few other Bollywood celebrities — Sanjay Suri, Rahul Bose and Tannishtha Chatterjee.

FilmKaravan was started by two New Yorkers —Pooja Kohli Taneja and Payal Sethi around the time of the 2008 Tribeca Film Festival.  It was a unique and a groundbreaking effort by two young friends who were bringing together years of film experience.

Taneja had worked as the managing director at Independent Film Project and was also the previous director of the Mahindra Indo-American Arts Council Film Festival.  Sethi had worked with Nair on films ranging from Monsoon Wedding, Vanity Fair and The Namesake and also managed industry relations at the Tribeca and Hamptons Film Festivals.

It was only a matter of time that they would merge their collective talents to connect South Asian filmmakers and also to provide platform for films from the subcontinent, that despite critical acclaim and film festival successes, never make it to theaters.

Speaking about the DVD release of AIDS JaaGO, Nair said,  “Since our launch on World AIDS Day 2007, these four films have been seen by millions of people all over the world — in film festivals, on television, and online.  I am thrilled to partner with FilmKaravan so that the films can reach more new audiences. Infection rates in India are still climbing and it is imperative that we continue this dialogue.”

AIDS JaaGO is FilmKaravan’s second DVD release.  Earlier this year they also held a similar party to mark the DVD release of Sita Sings the Blues – a full length animated film combing a feminist take on the Ramayana with jazz music from the 1920s.

The filmmaker Nina Paley – a big supporter of free culture had already given access to viewers to download the film at no cost from her site.  But FilmKaravan facilitated the DVD distribution of Sita Sings the Blues through Amazon.com and Netflix – the online film rental store, which has seen a phenomenal success in the US.

And FilmKaravan’s work does not end there.  There are plans to bring other films through digital channels of distribution, under the umbrella of Karavan Kollective.  And early next year the group plans to arrange the theatrical distribution of Faiza Ahmed Khan’s documentary Supermen of Malegaon.

The film was shown at the Museum of Modern Art’s The New India festival this summer and recently played at the 3rd I South Asian Film Festival in San Francisco.  But the critically acclaimed film could have easily been lost in the competitive world of art house distribution.

As Taneja explained, the plan is to build audience  “Most people don’t have the access or stamina to watch 50 films a week at film festivals,” she said, adding that FilmKaravan would sift through the lot and provide limited, but critical and artistically successful films to its supporters.

A couple of hours later the AIDS JaaGO launch party was in full swing.  Nair took a break from meeting people and sat down to eat in a private room at Pranna.  And she was joined there by Chatterjee and her Bombay Summer director Joseph Mathew Varghese.

Tariq Tapa’s Zero Bridge in NYC Nov 20, 22

In Uncategorized on November 13, 2009 at 1:39 PM

zerobridge518

Courtesy of MoMa

Zero Bridge

2008. USA. Written and directed by Tariq Tapa. With Mohamad Imran Tapa, Taniya Khan, Ali Mohammad Dar. A discovery of the 2009 Venice and Karlovy Vary Film Festivals,Zero Bridge was filmed entirely in the war-torn city of Srinagar, Kashmir, with an astonishing cast of first-time actors and a crew of one—Tapa himself. The filmmaker’s debut feature, which bears the neorealist traces of Roberto Rossellini and Ermanno Olmi, is a beautifully observed portrait of daily life in Kashmir—its quotidian pleasures and dangers—as well as a gripping drama of a teenage pickpocket who longs to reunite with his adoptive mother in Delhi, but who finds himself morally and emotionally attached to a young woman whose passport he has stolen. Tapa, who was born in New York City to a Kashmiri Muslim father and an American Jewish mother, notes that “I thought that a film introducing the lives of a few Kashmiri citizens and their common hopes and fears would show their humanity more intimately than the usual Western documentaries on the Kashmir Situation or the Bollywood products that treat it purely as an exotic backdrop.” In Kashmiri, Urdu; English subtitles. 96 min.

Movie Review: Kanchivaram

In Uncategorized on November 13, 2009 at 1:05 PM

kanchivaram-poster

Courtesy of MTViggy

By Samantha

Review by Girimohan Coneti for MTV Iggy.

This Friday, November 13, an unapologetic, unpretentious filmmaker called Priyadarshan will release a slapstick comedy called De Dana Dan. It will have the tried and true formulaic shenanigans of a Bollywood film: a guy, a girl, a chase, and a boat-load of double-entendres. That three-hour drama will deliver what’s commonly referred to as “wholesome” entertainment — as though film could be fresh, organic and gluten-free.

That very same Friday, that very same filmmaker will screen a film called Kanchivaram at the Mahindra Indo-American Film Festival. The screening is at an ungodly hour (noon), and I pray that that film doesn’t open to rows of empty seats that may as well have placards reading “still at work,” “at lunch,” and “try a prime time for a marquee film.”

Kanchivaram won two National Film Awards —  India’s equivalent of the Oscars – for best picture and best actor award (Prakash Raj). And with good reason:

Set in late ‘40s, Kanchivaram depicts an India that has just won independence from British colonial rule. The fledgling democracy faces Marxist ideologies that are gaining ground as alternative forms of governance, while India’s archaic, feudalistic system is beginning to reassert itself.

This is all background, however, to the central story of Vengadam (Prakash Raj), a sari weaver who vows to gift a Kanchivaram silk sari (considered the status symbol for a woman at that time) to his daughter as dowry for her wedding. These eponymous saris are renowned throughout India for their beauty, and created originally in the city of Kancheepuram, Tamil Nadu, in South India.

What seems like a plausible mission for Vengadam soon turns out to be herculean. So herculean that it sucks you into rooting for Vengadam despite his helplessness and the paucity of his failing, fragile resources. Pretty soon, the political backdrop pushes to the fore, and Vengadam is torn between being the torch bearer of social reforms and his own personal mission.

Sabu Cyril’s art design seamlessly recreates 1940s rural India. Prakash Raj is an extraordinary talent that the Hollywood agents need to sign, quickly.. His versatility is on display in every role, and he’s morphed from a loquacious Tamil literary intellect in the highly acclaimed Iruvar (1997), to a thuggish cinema villain alongside the ever-shirtless Salman Khan in this year’s commercial blockbuster, Wanted.

I only wish that MIAAC had provided a more convenient slot for this film. But if playing hooky during lunch hours on Friday is your thing, you should absolutely put this on your schedule.

Kanchivaram
Directed by Priyadarshan
In Tamil with English subtitles

Friday, November 13 at 12:00 PM
The Quad Cinema
34 West 13th Street
(between 5th and 6th Avenues)

Hot Off the Press!

In Uncategorized on November 12, 2009 at 1:35 PM

payalpooja-150x150

FilmKaravan celebrates the launch of Aids JaaGo on DVD in NYC!

Courtesy of AVSTV.com

By E. Nina Rothe

You may think from reading this blog that month after month, week after week, day after day it’s just one big party for me… You’re not far from the truth, but the only problem with this kind of lifestyle is that, after a while, every great cause, every wonderful event begins to blend in with the next. One party may be where I meet so and so and end up getting my picture taken with him and her, but in the end, I can hardly keep tabs.

That is definitely NOT the case with any event organized by the wonderful ladies of FilmKaravan! Pooja Kohli and Payal Sethi are the dynamic duo behind the distributing powerhouse that has been responsible for bringing to US audiences — through their Karavan Kollective membership program — such gems as ‘Via Darjeeling’, ‘Ocean of Pearls’ and ‘The Bong Connection’. Not to mention, they set Nina Paley’s ‘jailed’ animated — and music copyrights plagued — film ‘Sita Sings the Blues’ free, by helping to distribute the DVD through Amazon and Netflix.

On Tuesday night, FilmKaravan threw a lavish, celebrity-packed, fun-filled party at Pranna Restaurant in NYC to celebrate the DVD release of the momentous quartet of films ‘AIDS JaaGO’ produced by Mira Nair. The film consists of four stories being told by four of the top filmmakers in Indian cinema today. ‘Positive’ by Farhan Akhtar, stars Shabana Azmi, Boman Irani and Arjun Mathur and deals with a son’s inability to forgive a father’s mistake, albeit one that changes the family dynamic forever; ‘Blood Brothers’ by Vishal Bhardwaj stars the talented and handsome Siddharth and deals with the power of suggestion and what feelings a medical mistake can generate in a man; ‘Prarambha’ — the Beginning — stars South Indian superstar Prabhudeva as a truck driver with a heart of gold who finds a child that has been treated heartlessly; and finally ‘Migration’ directed by Nair herself and starring Shiney Ahuja, Irrfan Khan, Sameera Reddy and Raima Sen deals with the unfortunate victims of HIV, who sometimes have done nothing more than trust those they loved.

At the event, Mira Nair looked elegant as ever in her beautiful embroidered maroon and orange jacket, filmi power-couple Shabana Azmi sparkled in her Chinoiserie shirt with sheer sleeves while the charming Javed Akhtar inspired awe in a wonderful indigo silk kurta and charcoal shawl. Sanjay Suri shined in all black and his signature truthfully warm smile and Rahul Bose looked right off the runway of the recent Mai Mumbai fashion show in a charcoal, Nehru collar suit with matching turtleneck. Needless to say, I was impressed with both Suri and Bose and their never-tiring ability for mingling with the attending public, who all wanted their picture taken with them or desired to share their own personal favorite films starring the two superstars. As the upstairs VIP room at Pranna was packed to the max, this was no easy task, but both maintained their cool and class under fire.

Fab IT film girl of the moment Tannishtha Chatterjee — who BTW will never ever go out of style with her open smile and wonderfully down-to-earth attitude — wore a fabulous blue chiffon dress with black roses details down the front and these fabulously fun shoes with red lips appliques which her beautiful sister, also at the party, had lent her. Chatterjee stars with Samrat Chakrabarti in the film ‘Bombay Summer’ which will be playing in the MIAAC festival on Friday evening, November 13 and which I highly recommend adding to your list of must-see. Of course, it does help when the director of a film I truly like is also such a wonderfully warm man. Joseph Mathew-Varghese has the aura of a filmmaker who is going to go far, yet the demeanor of a man ever ready to share a good word or spread around a familiar feeling.

FilmKaravan divas — in name of course, never in attitude — Pooja and Payal wore, respectively, a feminine little black dress with peep-toe gold sandals and a red satin short number with pearls. Their welcoming grace set the tone for a very successful party. Of course, I cannot forget one of the highlights of my evening, meeting one of my favorite actresses Sarita Choudhury. From the moment I first saw her powerful performance on the screen in ‘Mississippi Masala’ I have followed her career. She continues to be one of the most striking women in the room, anywhere. I photographed her with ‘For Real’ film producer and director Sona Jain. Their film will be showing at MIAAC this coming Sunday, November 12th, at noon.

OK, before you start thinking the wrong thoughts, the one person I wanted to have my picture taken with at the party was Rahul Bose, NOT the ladies… He’s my type of hunk, just to be clear! But a woman is still allowed to comment on the beauty of other women, as in fact it’s common knowledge that we ladies dress for other women to notice. Men typically won’t get past a few obvious clues, like the shine in our hair, the fold of our shirt, etc.

Speaking of beautiful women, also at the party media powerhouse and successful entrepreneur Geetanjali Dhillon in a stunning animal print sleeveless silk blouse and Bollywood-Hollywood producer and films facilitator Anadil Hossain, in elegant all black. Respected freelance journalist Aseem Chhabra, our own wonderful crew of Jitin Hingorani and Frank the cameraman — get their exclusive interviews this weekend on AVS TV — were part of the fun, as was filmmaker Eliyas Qureshi who has a 12-minute short titled ‘From Within’ — a haunting piece about a man witnessing a neighbor’s desperate final step — in the festival. And countless other celebrities and wonderful personalities, too many to name.

So, bottom line is rent your ‘AIDS JaaGO’ DVD on Netflix, buy it on Amazon or better yet directly from the Filmkaravan website. And the next time you are in NYC at the same time as one of this exciting initiative’s parties, don’t miss it!

TONIGHT! TONIGHT! TONIGHT!

In Uncategorized on November 10, 2009 at 9:56 AM

YOU CAN STILL GET YOUR ADVANCED (and cheaper…) TICKET for the Aids JaaGo Reception TONIGHT!!!!!!!!!!

8 PM

Pranna, 79 Madison Ave (b/w 28th and 29th), New York, NY

CAN’T WAIT TO SEE YOU!

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‘Paa,’ ‘Paa,’ ‘Paa’ everywhere

In Uncategorized on November 10, 2009 at 1:02 AM

amitabh-big-b-in-pa

Courtesy of Bollywood Hungama

By Taran Adarsh

Amitabh Bachchan is an incredible actor. His body of work proves it. The actor continues to surprise you to this date. Yes, we’re talking about his new film PAA. It wouldn’t be erroneous to state that PAA is the first film, after GHAJINI, which has aroused such reactions from all quarters – the industrywalas as well as the paying public. The veteran actor’s look is being widely discussed [and praised] by one and all.

PAA has become a hot proposition overnight, soon after its very first promo was unveiled. The distributors are super-excited, the exhibitors are waiting to lay their hands on the film and the moviegoers are waiting with bated breath to watch the superstar transform into a kid.

Not many are aware that the production reins of PAA have been handled by Abhishek Bachchan himself. “It was a great learning experience,” he tells me. Abhishek seems to have learnt the ropes pretty fast, since the first thing he did, before the film went on floors, was to keep the economics of PAA in check.

“Making an economically viable project is most important in today’s times,” Abhishek says. The film hasn’t cost its makers a fancy amount, despite the presence of A-listers such as the Big B, Abhishek himself, Vidya Balan and Paresh Rawal. PAA is produced by AB Corp and Sunil Manchanda and directed by R. Balki.

Noone is too cool for school…

In Uncategorized on November 9, 2009 at 11:50 PM

harvard-logo

Courtesy of Express India

By Natasha Sahgal

New Delhi Preity Zinta is leaving Bollywood for B-school.

“Yes, I’m going to the Harvard Business School to study a short executive course in negotiating and deal-making,” she says. “I thought that since I spend so much time in the US, I might as well use the experience better. I applied to Harvard and got accepted, so I’m quite kicked about going there next month.”

So does this keen interest in business mean we won’t be seeing her much on the big screen? “Not at all,” she says, “I want to make sure that I can balance acting and business. In fact, I’m currently buried under a pile of scripts and am reading each one to make sure that I don’t miss out on anything good. I want to do a role that I’ve never done before.”

She’s also busy with the television show Behind the Seams which she is hosting and producing. But Zinta admits that she hasn’t watched television for the past two months. “TV soaps have these close-ups of people in dark black kohl and it really scares me,” she says. “Reality shows are also staged, so there’s nothing real in them. So what’s there to watch?” Behind the Seams too is a kind of reality show as it takes you through the journey of the Kings XI Punjab team. “It’s a reality show but there’s no acting involved. It’s about cricketers and you really can’t expect cricketers to start acting,” she laughs.

Will you tweet with me?

In Uncategorized on November 4, 2009 at 9:57 PM

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Here’s a fun contest from the folks at Karadi Tales…as a regular tweeter, I might participate too! Good luck to everyone!

Karadi Tales is all set to give away exciting prizes to 10 winners in the next 10 days!

Do you have a story to tell? Can you tell your story in 6 words and under 140 characters? Intrigued?  Read on!
Everyday, from November 4 to 13, Karadi Tales will post a new theme on Twitter, inviting everyone to contribute with their 6 word stories based on it. We will declare the best entry the very next day and the winner will win himself/herself a gift hamper containing an assortment of Amar Chitra Katha collections and Charkha audio-books.

Inspired by www.sixwordstories.net, we tried this idea within our organization.
We gave ourselves the theme: Karadi Tales tagline
Our winning entry: Surrogate Grandmother. Stories on compact disc.
Our winner: Shobha Viswanath! 🙂

Get the idea? Geared up for 2 weeks of fun? Here’s what you need to do:
Step one: Follow us on Twitter (twitter.com/karaditales)
Step two: Check out the theme of the day
Step three: Reply to the tweet with your 6 word story

It’s going to be a whole lot of fun! We promise we’ll be completely fair in judging the best entry.

Will You Tweet With Us?

Warm regards,

Team Karadi

www.karaditales.com
PS Spread the word! Get your friends and family to participate!

PS Is anyone wondering why we are running this contest? It shall be revealed on November 14!