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Archive for the ‘In Your Face’ Category

Wear Your Heart on World AIDS Day 2009

In In Your Face on December 1, 2009 at 2:48 PM

On November 10, 2009 a half-dozen film luminaries filtered through a subterranean room at Pranna Restaurant to voice a heartfelt video message for listeners around the globe on World AIDS Day.

FilmKaravan presents Mira Nair, Shabana Azmi, Rahul Bose, Sanjay Suri & Tannishtha Chatterjee in a video directed by Shruti Riya Ganguly.  We urge you to give a moment of your day today to the fight against HIV/AIDS.

The chain must keep growing. Its really simple. Pass this video on to your friends, families, co-workers via email or Facebook and help grow a viral movement to raise awareness.

Be the light!

Find this video and others on our Youtube channel

Bijli Tempted to Grow Inorganically

In In Your Face on October 12, 2009 at 6:00 PM

ajay-bijli

Courtesy of Livemint.com

by Shuchi Bansal

New Delhi: He is uncomfortable being called the pioneer of the multiplex revolution in India, although, he kicked off the trend with the relaunch of Anupam cinema in the Capital as a four-screen film complex in 1997. “It happened by default,” says Ajay Bijli, chairman and managing director of PVR Ltd, the Rs350 crore film exhibitions company that builds and operates movie screens—108 at last count—in the country. Last year, PVR’s film distribution subsidiary PVR Pictures entered the production business when it made two decidedly successful films—Taare Zameen Par and Jaane Tu…Ya Jaane Na—with Aamir Khan.

Ajay Bijli, chairman and managing director, PVR Ltd. Madhu Kapparath / Mint

Ajay Bijli, chairman and managing director, PVR Ltd. Madhu Kapparath / Mint

A few months ago, the 42-year-old half-marathon enthusiast (he’s currently training for the one coming up in Delhi) also launched Blu-O PVR, its retail entertainment wing that is setting up bowling alleys and skating rinks at select malls. The former rock band player, fitness freak and film buff spoke about his plans and passions. Edited excerpts:There’s been no film from PVR Pictures for close to a year even though it got significant investment after the success of ‘Taare Zameen Par’ and ‘Jaane Tu…’

Yes, JPMorgan and ICICI Venture invested Rs120 crore in the subsidiary about eight months ago. We haven’t spent the money yet. We’ve been evaluating projects and waiting for creativity and commerce to fall in place. We have now done a two-picture deal with Abhay Deol. Abhay’s films are unique and he comes with Navdeep Singh, the director who made Manorama Six Feet Under. There’s also a two-film deal with Neeraj Pandey, the guy who did A Wednesday!

The plan is to do six-eight films in the financial year 2010-11. The truth is, it is very easy to get excited about a script or a project that comes your way. But we need to evaluate a project from both the budget and the creative point of view. At the end of the day, I have to make JPMorgan and ICICI Ventures, who own 40% in PVR Pictures, happy. For me to say yes, rather for us (my brother Sanjeev and the team) to say yes to something, a lot of things have to fall in place. We are new to the film production business. Exhibition is the backbone of the company.

But it is the exhibition business that showed losses in the first quarter this year.

The Rs10 crore loss is completely attributable to the strike (caused by a spat between multiplex operators and film producers). Out of the 90 days, we shut down the theatres for 44. Our occupancy level fell below 15%. It was quite a disaster.

So PVR Ltd will post a loss at the end of this financial year.

No. The last three quarters will be like any other year. There was a huge pent-up appetite. From New York onwards, the industry hasn’t looked back. Love Aaj Kal, Kambakkht Ishq and now Wake Up Sid have done well. It’s been an incredible run. Occupancy is back to over 45%. Last year we had 18 million people visiting PVR. This year we will have 22 million. It should be a cracker of a Diwali with releases like All The Best and Main aurr Mrs Khanna.

You’ve said that at 23 when you relaunched the family-owned Priya theatre in Delhi, you had no strategy. What’s your strategy today?

My dad gave me the opportunity and the money—Rs40 lakh or so—to redo Priya. When that became successful, I realized the world had moved to multiplexes. But what strategy could I have in that environment? The entertainment tax was very high, ticket prices were controlled and there were no malls. So it was one step at a time. When the first multiplex opened in Delhi in 1997, I sold 20% of my tickets for Rs5.

Today, the company has three verticals—exhibition, film production and distribution, and retail entertainment. The exhibition business is still untapped. We have only covered 14 cities, we could go to another 10. We are opening 44 new screens this financial year including in new cities like Allahabad and Vijayawada.

Do you earn more from popcorn than films at your cinemas?

No. Sixty-six per cent of the revenue comes from ticket sales while food and beverage contributes 23%. Whatever is left is generated from marketing such as on-screen and show window advertising tie-ups.

Are you acquiring DT Cinemas from DLF?

Nothing has happened yet. But the due diligence is done. Inorganic growth is something I get excited about sometimes, but sometimes I worry. In organic growth, you are controlling your destiny. There are so many companies out there… DT is one of them. It has 30 screens or so.

If it happens, it isn’t a bad acquisition.

On the face of it, it looks attractive but the pricing, valuation…everything has to be right. That’s all I can tell you right now. I am always tempted to grow inorganically.

Does the entry of international multiplex chains such as Cinepolis bother you?

No. I have been in this business far too long to panic. We know how hard the terrain is.

Where does your father’s trucking business, Amritsar Transport Co. (ATC), stand in your scheme of things?

My brother and I still own 90% of the business. The remaining 10% is with my cousins who run it. We meet every month. I feel guilty of not growing the business. It is a time management issue. Logistics is big today. But ATC hasn’t gone into the express logistics space like, say, Gati. It is a Rs150 crore business but servicing a different segment.

What kinds of films do you enjoy and where do you like to watch them?

Where I watch a film is a matter of convenience. Increasingly, I find I have less time to go to the theatre. But I saw The Hangover recently and it was embarrassing how much I was laughing. It is hilarious. I watch anything and everything unless the film gets really bad reviews or the theatres are empty.

How about the seriously heavy stuff?

I don’t go that deep. Though I picked up a DVD set of Kurosawa. I watched two movies—Seven Samurai and Rashomon. I didn’t know I had it in me to appreciate these films.

I must mention that I did a course in script-reading in January. I went to LA (Los Angeles) to learn from (screenwriter) Syd Field who customized a course for me—it was a one-on-one as I did not have time to go to college. I used to get homework. I watched two films and read a couple of scripts every day. We discussed these the next day. I have not been able to watch a film in the same way again. I look for “plot points” and I have bored the hell out of everybody else with my analysis.

Are your children interested in the film business.

Yes. My daughter Niharika is 17 and she is ready to go to a film school in the US. We are deciding on which one. My other two children are still young but surprisingly very enthusiastic about the business.

Any tips for aspiring entrepreneurs?

All I can say is that sincerity and integrity are a prerequisite in any business. Also, remember there are no short cuts. You will see my motto in my office. It says: “Be modest. A lot was accomplished before you were born.”

Meet Tim McHenry

In In Your Face on October 9, 2009 at 11:20 AM

Courtesy of Gothamist

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Vital Stats:
– Tim McHenry
– “I am in the bardo of middle age.”
– Grew-up abroad; now lives in “Dry-Cleaning City aka Kips Bay aka the nowhere land between Murray Hill and Gramercy Park.”
– Director of Programming, Rubin Museum of Art
Tim’s World:
Where’d you grow up and get your plummy accent?
Some say I never have, but ostensibly atop a snow-capped country called Switzerland. Plums in the language of the country of my birth are called Zwetschge. Try that with an accent.

As program director at the Rubin Museum, how much coordination do you have with other departments — from the curators to the education program?
The way you put it sounds like I should be organizing rousing games of quoits on deck. There is a little of that in what I do, which is essential to devise and coordinate most of the live happenings in the Museum. We have had 311 of them since we opened.

The RMA’s space went from Barneys to Buddha. Did you need to conduct any special ceremonies to banish any ghosts? Since the original building was entirely refashioned into something much more serene, why choose to retain the steely glass staircase?
Well, as Andy [Warhol] is reputed to have said, “Sooner or later every department store becomes a museum and every museum a department store.” There is no discomfort in straddling both. The staircase is central to the structure of the building but also to the concept of the way the art is perceived.

One of the startling discoveries for me, as I am in charge of the film programs here, was to come across the old discarded footage from Frank Capra’s Lost Horizon some months after we opened. The cut scene is the funeral procession after the High Lama’s death. Torch bearers enter the great Frank Lloyd Wright-style lamasery. The lights from the faggots flicker reflected in the mirrored floor of the great hall. The great procession, including long-horn blowers, monks and other officials of Shangri-La, crosses the hall and continues up a staircase. Giant shadows are thrown up against the wall as they proceed, single file up step after step. The camera then closes in and angles up and you realize that the caravan of mourning is climbing a spiral staircase. Only the tips of the torches can be seen curling up higher and higher around the ever-ascending banister. Not only is the procession mounting the staircase in a clockwise direction – the Buddhist circumambulation of sacred sites does the same — but that the spiral staircase is not circular but elliptical, almost exactly the shape of that of the former Barneys women’s store designed by Richard Blinder and Andree Putman in 1985. There is no way that they would have known of this abandoned footage, but clearly, some sort of karma was at work here.

As a new venue, how challenging has it been drumming up awareness? You’re not in Chelsea’s gallery district, nor on Museum Mile — has your location been a help or a hindrance?
Maybe not Museum Mile, but an extension of Ladies Mile. The creed of real estate is location, location, location. As our position on the corner of Seventh Avenue and 17th Street is so resolutely Chelsea, we have taken advantage of that in the programs by instituting a series called “The Chelsea Connection.” I wanted to show that we could be a museum of Himalayan art as well as a place where the neighborhood could be celebrated. So I invited some of our neighbors to come to the museum to do something special that they hadn’t done elsewhere.

The first to agree was philosopher Peter Singer who engaged writer Lance Morrow on the issue of evil; next were the photographers Robert Polidori who unveiled his never-before published portfolio of the Buddha caves of Sri Lanka; nighttime photographer Patrick McMullan who conducted a public workshop for the first time in his life; Todd Eberle was also slated to come and talk about the North Indian city of Chandigarh and capturing modernism in photographs; Stephen Sebring gave us a sneak preview of his documentary on Patti Smith; Jazz legend Roswell Rudd came and jammed with some Buryat throat-singers; Andrew Sterman premiered some new jazz pieces; Rosanne Cash became the museum’s resident female Buddha by doing six tailor-made acoustic performances in as many months, and the list goes on. It is an artistically rich community. It has been a jamboree

Does the museum become harder to sell to the public because it houses such a specific collection of art — not just Asian, but Himalayan?
There are pros and cons. If we could be described rather generically as an Asian art museum, it would be hard to claim special attention from existing institutions that already have a sizeable and active exhibition policy, such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art or The Asia Society. The advantage of showing art from the Himalayas is that nobody else does to the extent and range that we do. I suppose you could call it a niche market. But it is a big niche. Himalayan art is not to be equated with Tibetan art. Nor is it exclusively Buddhist. The Himalayan style is evident as far north as Tuva in Siberia and magnificent examples can be found on the Pacific coast of China. So RMA does cover a large portion of east and south Asia.

This museum has appealed to people who like to discover something new and has proven to be a bit of an eye-opener to most. And then in come the populists like me who look at the current exhibition of “Handprints and Footprints in Buddhist Art” and say, why don’t we have our own DIY version on the street outside? So on Thursdays thru Sundays in the afternoons you will pass by the museum and be invited to place your own handprints and footprints in “the sands of time” — in a sort of Grauman’s Chinese Theater wet-sand pavement. The impressions are photographed and mounted on the rmanyc.org calendar page [click on any program link titled “Footprints in the Sands of Time — be part of a Digital Museum exhibit] as an eternal vs ephemeral visitors page. This art, and the concepts inherent in them lend themselves so wonderfully to interaction.

Not being familiar with the art, we were delighted by the friendly tone of the display cards, “let your eyes wander and catch the twinkle of mica chips.” Is this some conscious effort to be more embracing and instructing?
Just note the Sherlock Holmes touch with the supply of magnifying glasses on each gallery floor. That should answer that one.

What was your own previous knowledge of Himalayan art before joining the staff?
Well, let’s put it this way: I read Heinrich Harrer’s “Seven Years in Tibet” in a single sitting when I was 13. That was it until I got the call to join the Museum in 2003.

One of the RMA’s assets is the flexible theater. Was it the constraints of square footage that required it to be a multi-function space?
The theater has a flat auditorium floor, not a raked one. One of the great drawbacks to construction in Chelsea is the fact that this very flat part of Manhattan was, originally, marshland. There are hundreds of little rivers running underground. It proved too costly to dig down to create a raked theater and divert all these courses. But I took advantage of the flat floor by instituting a cabaret-style approach to talks and films, which we wouldn’t have been able to do if the floor were raked and the theater seating anchored in place. We can arrange the seating any which way. As a result one of the most agreeable programs is the “Cabaret Cinema.” It always seemed so uncivilized to go to movies and find that all one could eat and drink was unpalatably bad for you. So every Saturday night at 7 you can come to RMA and for just $12 base charge for your food and drink (and I mean real drinks like lychee martinis and the like) you can see a film for free AND gain admission to the Museum’s galleries for free. It is a great deal, actually.

The museum is open until 9 on Thursdays and Fridays. What advantage do those late hours provide?
We always have programs in the theater on Thursdays and Fridays, but there are also thematic tours of the galleries that visitors can take advantage of. Oh, and there is a 2-for-1 cocktail deal at the bar on Fridays. And you don’t have to visit the galleries to take advantage of that.

There’s an incredible amount of film programming — next month ranges from Jurassic Park to Princess Mononoke in conjunction with the “Eternal Presence” exhibit. How out of the box do you get when select the schedule?
I think more than a few eyebrows were raised when we showed Caddyshack as part of our “Hollywood in the Himalayas” film series. But it was “Cabaret Cinema,” and we certainly got a drinking crowd.

Buddhism is all about thinking out of the box. My job is primarily to allow people to draw contemporary associations from the art and recognize its relevance to who we are now. “Cabaret Cinema” has already got its hardcore of regulars. There is a cinema quiz every time, and the winners get to come back the next week without having to pay the bar minimum of $12. But because the films are deliberately diverse – Abbott and Costello one week; Le Retour de Martin Guerre the next — the attendance varies quite considerably. Sometimes I will pair a feature film with a documentary like we did [Tara’s Daughters] with The Inn of the Sixth Happiness and that combination sold out.

The slogan of the series is “where movies and martinis mix.” We usually have a guest to introduce the film: Lowell Dingus, the renowned paleontologist is bringing in some velociraptor fossils by means of introduction to Jurassic Park on July 2; New Yorker dance critic and Chelsea resident Joan Acocella is introducing The Red Shoes on July 16; and Jane Lahr, Bert “Cowardly Lion” Lahr’s daughter is coming to talk about The Wizard of Oz on August 13, which happens to be Bert Lahr’s birthday.

The RMA launched last fall with an ambitious 100 programs in 100 days that included outreach to local schools as well as the participation of guests like Rosanne Cash. Has it been difficult to get people to come onboard and participate in the programming?
Persuading an artist like Rosanne Cash to perform acoustically, without any amplification whatsoever took some wooing, but she is so open to experiment and such a consummate professional that once she bought into the idea I could not have found a stronger advocate for the pure bliss of not having to do four-hour sound checks! Most artists have embraced the concept of this Museum so readily that it has not been too difficult. The enemy is really scheduling more than anything else.

Last spring, protesters gathered at opening of the traveling exhibit “Tibet, Treasures from the Roof of the World.” What stance (if any) does the museum take on the current situation between China and Tibet?
It may sound a little facile to say that “art knows no boundaries.” It is only true in the sense that most art can be appreciated on some level without recourse to language and background culture. But the one thing art can do as a medium is foster dialogue, and talking keeps the door ajar for improvement of relations. Maybe the museum can serve as a cultural meeting ground at that level. On principle I strongly believe in independence of choice of content. It was ironic that while the Students for Free Tibet were outside protesting an exhibition that exemplified for them the Chinese government’s appropriation of Tibetan culture, one of the leaders of that organization was inside the Museum introducing that evening’s Cabaret Cinema presentation of Paul Wagner’s contentious film Windhorse.

Given your proximity to the art, do you feel more serenity?
Being creative and active is what makes me happy.
Ten things to know about Tim:

What’s the best thing you’ve ever purchased/salvaged off the street?
The perfect sized Starbucks coffee cup within arm’s reach when I had forgotten to bring a plastic bag with me to pick up my Collie’s gutter offerings.

Which city establishment sees more of your paycheck than you do?
I try not to think about that.

Gotham Mad Lib: When the ______ (noun) make me feel like ______ (adverb), I like to ______ (verb). (Strict adherence to “Madlib” rules is not required.)
When the ubiquitous summer “streetfairs” make me feel like overturning the tables of tube socks like Christ with the moneylenders, I like to take the subway instead.

Personality Problem Solving: Would you consider your personality more hysterical or more obsessive, and have you changed since living in New York; has “New York” become a part of you?
Since living in New York I have also formed a relationship, and that has provided a few solutions. So yes, you can say that a New Yorker is part of me.

NYC Confessional : Do you have a local guilty pleasure?
The number of reflexology parlors I indulge in.

When you just need to get away from it all, where is your favorite place in NYC to be alone, relish in solitude and find your earthly happiness? (We promise not to intrude.)
I don’t need NYC for that.

Assuming that you’re generally respectful of your fellow citizens, was there ever a time when you had to absolutely unleash your inner asshole to get satisfaction?
Yes, when accused by a plainclothes police officer of jumping the turnstiles. It didn’t do me any good.

Describe that low-low moment when you thought you just might have to leave NYC for good.
When I thought I would never get a green card. But I did, and now I am deemed an “extraordinary alien.”

Besides more square footage, what luxury would you most like to have in your apartment?
A balcony. The European touch.

There are 8 Million stories in The Naked City. Tell us one, but try to keep it to a New York Minute.
This one’s about synchronicity. In New York you see what you think you see. Vanessa Williams had opened in a revival of Sondheim’s Into the Woods on Broadway. While her transformation from gnarled witch into bodacious black beauty was convincing, she unfortunately didn’t command the vocal range for the part, so this witch didn’t quite fly.

The next morning I was making for the subway and passing through Curry Hill. Streetwalkers make a seasonal appearance here. It was the tall “blonde” but otherwise black temptress in white latex boots mounted on platform heels that attracted my attention. While her boots were cut off at the knee, her jeans were cut off high up on the thigh. Scrutinizing a New York prostitute while striding past cannot take a New York minute, and in the fleeting seconds that I had, I noticed delicately filigreed stenciling poke out from between the frayed strands of her jean shorts. It was a purple tattoo made maroon against her dark smooth skin. In gothic lettering it read, “Witch.” Ding dong.
The Rubin Museum of Art is located at 150 W. 17th Street at 7th Avenue. The museum is closed on Mondays, but otherwise opens daily at 11 AM with different closing times throughout the week. Admission is $7 for adults, $5 for seniors, students and artists (with ID), and $5 for residents of 10011 and 10001 zip codes (with ID). Children under 12 get in for free. For more information, call 212/620-5000 or visit the website at www.rmanyc.org. And don’t forget to go to “Cabaret Cinema” every Saturday at 7 PM ($12), “Where movies and martinis meet!”

— Interview by Lily Oei and Aaron Dobbs

— Photograph by Liz Brown

Bombay Summer will remain my film’s title

In In Your Face on October 5, 2009 at 11:08 PM

PRIYANKA DASGUPTA , TNN 5 October 2009, 12:01am IST

Karan Johar’s eagerness to kowtow before Raj Thackeray on the eve of the release of Wake Up Sid has generated a national debate.

b-summersynopsisWhile some think it’s judicious of Johar to have not risked his crores by getting into an argument over the use of the word ‘Bombay’, there is a section that would liken the move to a smart publicity gimmick. But New York-based director Joseph Mathew-Varghese, whose Hindi film titled Bombay Summer starring Tannishtha Chatterjee, Samrat Chakrabarti and Jatin Goswami is doing the festival rounds now, isn’t willing to follow in Johar’s footsteps.

Speaking from the US, the director says, “I’ll never change the English title of my film. One of the main goals for making my first narrative film is that I want to show India in transition. The city of Bombay forms the backdrop of my film. There are images of an abandoned textile mill and a chawl. They stand for all that Bombay was. Ten years down the line, one might not even get to see all these.”

bombay-summerBS has been screened at the Hamburg Film Festival and is in competition this week at the Middle East International Film Festival. Prior to that, it had a screening at the Indian Film Festival in Los Angeles. “Most Indian films who make it to the international film festivals are there in the gala section. It feels good to have my film accepted in competition. Claire Denis’ White Material and Dilip Mehta’s Cooking with Stella are also in competition here. After Abu Dhabi, my film travels to the San Diego Asian Film Festival before being screened at the Hawai International Film Festival,” Joseph goes on with a long list of international festivals before informing that the Indian premiere of the film will be held in Goa at the Indian Film Festival.

b-summerscreeningsWhile BS is produced in America, Joseph insists that it is a purely Indian film that focusses on modern India. “My film doesn’t fit into the category that Westerners have slotted most Indian films in. Most Indian films to have reached out to the West have explored social issues. I am not saying that such points of view about India are invalid. But India also has millions of different stories to narrate. BS takes a peek at urban India in a state of flux.” And in many ways, it isn’t the India that one will see in Julia Roberts starrer Eat, Pray, Love. “I understand that there is a vision of India embraced in the West that highlights the ashrams. But that’s not the only India. When I grew up in Trivandrum in the 80s, all my women friends were very self-confident and assertive. However, the films I watched didn’t feature these kind of Indian women. When I decided to make my first narrative feature, I wanted my protagonist to have a strong personality. Yet, her character isn’t larger than life. She, like all the other characters in the movie, has her own failings.” The protagonist deftly balances work, family, and an affair with a struggling writer till she interviews a painter. Soon the trio discovers shared interests and becomes fast friends. The film takes a turn when the girl gets drawn to the artist, who has a passion that is somewhat lacking in the writer.

samrat-bsummerSince accolades in India is as important for Joseph as those from the foreign shores, how would be react to requests of changing the name of the film to ‘Mumbai Summer’ when the film releases in Mumbai? “BS has been touring the festivals with this title. ‘Mumbai Summer’ does not ring a bell. Every artiste should have the freedom to make his or her own social commentary. There is no point shutting up people. I might not even use the name Bombay or Mumbai in the Hindi title but I’ll certainly not change the English title of my film,” Joseph signs off.

For more information about the film visit Bombay Summer

WSJ: Wal-Mart Scales Back DVD Displays

In In Your Face on October 5, 2009 at 2:50 PM

Courtesy of Indiewire
by Matt Dentler

dentlerThanks to new applications such as VOD and Redbox, the world of DVD sales has been sliding for a while. Rentals are up 8.3 %, but sales are down 13.5% with no real sign of a shift. The latest blow to this trend, and side effect of, will come in the form of fewer DVD displays in the nation’s leading home video retailer: Wal-Mart. The Wall Street Journal is reporting that the store chain is doing away with big display cases, which can only lead to even more diminished sales. From the article:

“We think the new strategy implies Wal-Mart no longer sees DVDs and Blu-ray discs as traffic drivers,” J.P. Morgan analyst Imran Khan said.

Studio chiefs dispute that conclusion, noting the importance of DVDs as a sales category for Wal-Mart, but none would speak publicly for this story.

Wal-Mart, which accounts for nearly a third of DVD retail sales in the U.S., didn’t respond to inquiries for comment.

The change to its DVD selling strategy is part of a larger merchandising overhaul the company calls “Project Impact,” in which it has been devoting more shelf space to top-selling products and cutting back on items that linger. The discount giant also is trying to spruce up its image and cut back on clutter in its aisles, like corrugated displays for DVDs, in hopes that it can attract a more upscale shopper.

Shop 34 is an institution

In In Your Face on October 5, 2009 at 12:38 PM
Courtesy of DevBenegal.com

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Published 2 years, 4 months ago by Dev Benegal

Shop 34 is an institution.

My friend the filmmaker & Professor who holds the Zakir Hussain Chair at Jamia Milia University, Shohini Ghosh (Tales of the Night Fairies) took me to Shop 34.

She’d been meaning to do this for a while. It’s in Delhi’s underground shopping complex. You descend into a world of bustling with activity and head straight for the first shop on the right. I followed Shohini.

Straight past the few people in the shop and headed purposefully to the narrow spiral staircase at the end. That’s what one does. Don’t look around. Don’t ask questions. Just climb up. They’ll immediately know you mean business.

And so I did and entered a small mezzanine with a low roof. A man was asleep across two chairs. There was nothing but upturned, rotting furniture in sight and the smell of leather coated with years of perspiration.

Another man followed us up and responded to Shohini’s query, what’s new?

Out came a stack of DVD’s. I rifled through them quite amazed at the range of titles available. All of Ozu, the entire Marx Brothers, John Wayne, Early Kurosawa, it seemed endless. Just when I thought I had seen enough the unnamed man thumped another lot and then another and another.

Hollywood musical’s from the 30’s and 40’s. Some silent films, Fassbinder, Classics of Soviet cinema, the entire Pudovkin some Eisenstein…

NO, this was not some specialist video store. This was Pirate Central. The headquarters of the real thing.
I selected about 150 titles and then began the another tale.

Me: How much?
The sleeping man awoke from his slumber.
Sleeping Man: 200
Me: (horrified) 200! But I’m planning to buy so many.
Sleeping Man: Well you tell me?
Me: I have no clue. Why don’t you suggest a price?
Sleeping Man: Listen, all the big time Bollywood directors come and shop here. They pay 200.
Me: Like who? Give me some names.
Sleeping Man: (rattles some names)
I know some of them so can take a risk with my next response.
Me: They are not directors. Name some real directors.
Sleeping Man is thrown by this comment.
Sleeping Man: Ok I’ll do this for 175 not a penny less.
Me: That’s still too high.
Sleeping Man: So give me a figure.
Me: Look in Bangalore they do it for less.
Sleeping Man: The Bangalore guys buy from me, make copies and sell for less. Name your price. I don’t have all day.
Me: (tentatively) How about 75?

Now Sleeping Man rises from his slumber. His face turns red. His eyes begin to water. His voice shakes when he speaks.

Sleeping Man Now Wide Awake: 75? Are you out of your mind? This is an insult. I’m hurt. You think these films are worth 75?
Me: What do you mean insult? Have YOU made these films? If they were yours and I was bargaining I could understand the hurt. But… sir… you’re just copying them. This is just business.

Wide Awake Man now took a deep breath. He paused and then walked me through the most amazing story of how the operation works.

WAM: Sir ji… this is not business. Do you know what I have to go through to get these titles. Eisenstein scholars come here to get their titles. I have to search for films all over the world. I then buy them and make sure they are of high quality. The DVD’s, the printing… and then there’s bringing them here. I have to deal with laws of all the countries I visit. There are the police at the airport, the precinct where I live, the one by this shop, the customs people in both countries…

He paused to wipe an imaginary tear as his story continued.

WAM: Sir ji… it’s not just business.

I paused and said I would think this over and get back the next day. Outside, Shohini thought I was mad having gone through all this. I must confess seeing all those Ozu’s and the Marx Brother’s and the profusion of titles did make me think.

But more than that I thought of the man.
He was imploring me to see the work he was doing. The passion he had. His taste in selecting the films I would want in my collection. This was not just business. He was an artist.

Even piracy is an art form.

Of Mice & Young Men: Konkona Sen

In In Your Face on September 30, 2009 at 5:46 PM

Courtesy of Wake Up Sid blog

September 26, 2009

The grass is always greener on the other side, isn’t it? While we were shooting for Wake Up Sid, I couldn’t wait for the movie to be done so I could sit on a cushy chair and watch it on the big screen. And now that it’s almost over, I wish we could delay it a bit, just to stay in this same atmosphere for just a little longer. Because once a film is over, the air just changes, and you can never get that feeling back again. Ok, I think it’s time I stopped being so sentimental. Mostly because Wake Up Sid wasn’t exactly the easiest film to have done! There were lots and lots of days when I was tortured and exploited too!

Seriously, everyday started with Ayan coming into my van and asking me to lose weight, and be healthy and eat right and work out, etc etc. Then, what seemed like hours and hours, were spent in picking out my outfit and accessories for the day’s scene. Of course, then there was another hour attributed to doing my hair and makeup. By the time we actually began shoot everyday, I would be exhausted already! Ayan isn’t shallow in the least, which will be clear to anyone who watches Wake Up Sid, but he is obsessed with being healthy. He’s the fittest out of all the crewmembers, and works out more than any of us do, including Ranbir. Eventually, though, I’m glad he pushed me. I’m very happy with my look in the film, and surprised by my own transformation.

Of course, there were far worse horrors that lay in my path during Wake Up Sid, and my look was the least of them. The shoot wasn’t a very easygoing shoot. We shot at all kinds of hours, everywhere around Mumbai, in all types of conditions that I had never shot in before. The worst day I had on this film could go to either one of two days. One – the day I had to do a really emotional scene while being drenched by a mixture of real and fake rain. And two – the day when I had to have a mouse run over my body! Ugggh. Ok the mouse day wins hands down, because Ayan might be able to convince me to shoot in the rain again, but I’m NEVER letting a mouse near myself again! I have no idea how he convinced me to do it the first time. I was almost in tears and scared to death!

Speaking of scared, nobody is a bigger scaredy-cat than Ranbir! That boy is afraid of everything. We had to shoot a song cut with a pigeon, and as soon as the pigeon was let loose he just ran! And he slipped and fell down in the middle of the shot! The whole unit cracked up and we had to stop shoot just to pull ourselves together again. He refused to do another take, but Ayan sweet-talked him into it and I promised to protect him if he were attacked. When we did do the shot, he ran and hid behind me and wouldn’t even look up till we got hold of the bird! We’ve kept both those shots in the film, and they work because that’s how our characters are too. He isn’t a ‘brave hero’ and I’m not a ‘damsel in distress’. We’re both regular people, who laugh and scream and get scared and run away like everyone does. Ayan loves capturing these organic moments and knows how to put them in context. I just wish these real moments involved fewer animals!

Ok if I give away all my memories like this, I won’t have much left for next time!

Until then,

Konkona

Playing the Field

In In Your Face on September 30, 2009 at 1:30 PM

Courtesy of Intent Blog

by Rahul Khanna

rahul-khanna

While I have great regard for commitment and monogamy, I must admit that I, myself, have been rather promiscuous.

New York’s dating scene is notoriously cut-throat but it pales in comparison to the city’s housing market. A few lucky people find their perfect match right off the bat but the majority of us go through several real estate partners before finally settling down.

I have gone from rookie renter to serial subletter and someday I hope to settle down into a long-term lease but for now I continue my wanton wanderings. Below is a lease-and-tell chronicle of some of my more memorable affairs of the real estate variety…

THE FIRST LOVE

The first apartment I ever had of my own was listed as a “cozy” studio in Manhattan’s pierced and mohawked East Village neighbourhood. In New York realty-speak, “cozy” means the size of a small walk-in wardrobe. But, for a wide-eyed, twenty year-old film student, it was a palace. There’s no feeling that comes close to the sense of accomplishment and pure exhilaration of moving into your first apartment.

With this rite of passage one also ends up learning important life lessons. One of the more amusing ones (in retrospect only) was a wild evening with two Norwegian girls whose Basic Instinct style flashes
from the futon were, I later discovered upon getting my phone bill, just to distract me and my friends from the fact that they were using my phone to call every relative they had in Norway.

When I moved back to NYC after a 3-year stint in Singapore, the first apartment my realtor happened to show me was this very same one. It was like reconnecting with an old friend but it looked so tiny I
couldn’t believe I actually lived there. I ended up going with…

THE ONE NIGHT STAND

This brief dalliance with a ground floor studio in a townhouse on the Upper West Side was doomed from the start. The very evening I got the keys, I discovered the apartment came with room-mates. Furry,
four-legged ones. The relationship was over less than 24 hours after it had begun. This led to my first (and hopefully last) legal battle (which I subsequently lost thanks to the fine print on the paperwork
I’d signed) and, although I didn’t get the opportunity to shout, “I’m out of order? You’re out of order! This whole trial is out of order!”, the up side is I now have some experience to draw on if I ever do a courtroom drama.

Although the whole affair was less than pleasant, I was in for a soft landing because I ended up in the vermin-free arms of…

THE FEMME FATALE

This slick little apartment in a modern high-rise with the most unbelievable views of Manhattan and the river was the real-estate equivalent of being in a relationship with a sophisticated, sexy and successful young woman… who, I discovered, had a sordid background.

A few years earlier, the building was the site of one of Manhattan’s most sensational and grisly murders. Often, as I strapped on my rollerblades in the lobby, one of the doormen, shaking his head, would recount how he’d helped two residents load a trunk into a cab, later finding out it contained the dismembered remains of a local bookie.

Apart from that, the building was rumoured to be home to some of the city’s most high priced and exclusive escorts. Although I never was able to confirm this information (that’s my story and I’m sticking to
it), I got to know some of my other neighbours and we are still close friends. My apartment was sandwiched between one of New York’s premier concert pianists and an auctioneer couple with a talent for mixing exquisitely lethal margaritas, which they’d pass me over our balconies every evening. Between the Gershwin from one side and the tequila from the other, it’s no wonder I look back on those years with such great fondness but not too much lucidity.

When I began taking on more work in India, it made sense to sub-let rather than maintain an apartment of my own, so my promiscuity escalated. Next up was an involvement with…

THE OLDER ONE

I’d always been a fan of New York’s indigenous pre-war architecture but had only lived in modern structures until I ended up in this charming one bedroom on the Upper West Side. Full of antiques (and
dust!) the apartment was owned by a flamboyant and uproariously witty 90 year-old. She lived across the hall and would often trick me into taking her out for drinks. Always catching me off guard, her modus
operandi was brilliant and would involve lines like “I’m 90, would you just walk me to the corner so I can pick up some dinner?” When we got there, she’d follow it with “Let’s just have a quick drink while they
pack my food.” An hour later, through a 3 martini haze, I would realise I’d been had – again. In spite of this regular trickery and the delight she took in scandalising me with play-by-play details about her
sex-life, requests to please “knock-up” her daughter and answering the door in nothing but her underwear, we got along famously and I ended up being a frequent guest at parties with her friends that included New York’s most celebrated tycoons, politicians, writers and artists.

When she found out I was an actor, she started showing a picture of me to every Indian taxi driver she came in contact with. She would then excitedly call me wherever I happened to be in the world to inform me that they knew who I was. When I expressed my mortification and asked her to stop, she was clearly offended. The next voicemail from her was a curt, “I showed your picture to a cab driver today and he had no idea who the hell you were.”

I sublet the apartment for a few years before she eventually sold it but she remains one of my favourite people in New York and I still get invited to the parties.

THE TAKEN ONE

In between apartments, a friend offered me his roommate’s section in their large Chelsea 2-bedroom. She was away on a long assignment in South America and I fell madly in love with the unbelievable water
pressure. Every time I turned on the shower, I had to hold onto the hand rail for fear of being knocked to the ground or pinned to the wall with its force. Every shower was an adventure – like whitewater rafting
in the comfort of one’s own bathroom. But this was not my space and I was always aware that it belonged to someone else. And, like when you mess with a committed woman, there’s a good chance you’ll eventually get caught. That happened late one October morning when I emerged from the shower and found a middle-aged Argentinean woman sitting on the bed. Her assignment had ended ahead of schedule and she was home early. That was the end of that tryst. The room went back to its true owner
and I went back to standard water-pressure.

THE THREESOME

I recently found myself in the top floor apartment of a brownstone off Central Park West. It belonged to a feminist writer who was spending time in Europe and the apartment, newly renovated, with great
light and views, seemed perfect. There was one catch, though… the owner clearly thought very highly of her boyfriend’s charms and had a framed photograph of him above the bed. Nothing wrong with that – except that it was a nude. It took some adjusting to (and an amendment to my “One Penis Limit in the Bedroom” rule) but, after a while, I hardly noticed the pale, hairy man hanging (literally) on the wall. It was, after all, a very small price to pay for a great New York sublet.

THE (possibly) DANGEROUS LIAISON

I’m currently in a quirky and Spartan walk-up in the West Village that belongs to an Italian photographer. Thankfully, there are no naked men on the wall but it’s possible I’m living above a serial killer. He has a pallid, gothic look to him and, as I passed him coming into the building, he fixed me with a steely, disdainful gaze and hissed in an eerily Hannibal Lechter-esque tone, “Ah, new meat.” (The friend I was
with claims he said, new “face” but I know what I heard.) I’m going to try my best not to make eye-contact or do anything that might even vaguely annoy him but, if I go missing, check the freezer of apartment
#2R.

Oct 3 – Sita on Thirteen at 11pm!

In In Your Face on September 30, 2009 at 12:16 PM

sita-ninaThis just in from Richard Siegmeister of WNET:

Sita is airing this Saturday at 11pm on New York’s Channel 13!

Roger Ebert’s Review of Sita Sings the Blues
I am enchanted. I am swept away. I am smiling from one end of the film to another. It hardly ever happens this way. I get a DVD in the mail. I’m told it’s an animated film directed by a girl from Urbana. That’s my home town. It is titled Sita Sings the Blues. I know nothing about it, and the plot description on IMDb is not exactly a barn-burner: An animated version of the epic Indian tale of Ramayana set to the 1920’s jazz vocals of Annette Hanshaw. Uh, huh. I carefully file it with other movies I will watch when they introduce the 8-day week. I get an e-mail from Betsy, my old pal who worked with me on The News-Gazette. Did you see the film by the mayor’s daughter? This intrigues me. The daughter is named Nina Paley. I do a Google run and discover that Hiram Paley was mayor from 1973-1977. I am relieved. This means the girl probably didn’t make the film as a high school class project. In fact, by my rapid mathematical calculations, she may have been conceived in City Hall. I used to cover City Hall. Worse things have happened there. By this point, I’m hooked. I can’t stop now. I put on the DVD and start watching. I am enchanted. I am swept away. I am smiling from one end of the film to the other. It is astonishingly original. It brings together four entirely separate elements and combines them into a great whimsical chord. You might think my attention would flag while watching An animated version of the epic Indian tale of Ramayana set to the 1920’s jazz vocals of Annette Hanshaw. Quite the opposite. It quickens. I obtain Nina Paley’s e-mail address and invite the film to my film festival in April 2009 at the University of Illinois, which by perfect synchronicity is in our home town. To get any film made is a miracle. To conceive of a film like this is a greater miracle. How did Paley’s mind work?

sita-hanumanShe begins with the story of Ramayana, which is known to every school child in India but not to me. It tells the story of a brave, noble woman who was made to suffer because of the perfidy of a spineless husband and his mother. This is a story known to every school child in America. They learn it at their mother’s knee. Paley depicts the story with exuberant drawings in bright colors. It is about a prince named Rama who treated Sita shamefully, although she loved him and was faithful to him. Of course there is a lot more to it than that, involving a monkey army, a lustful king who occasionally grows 10 heads, synchronized birds, a chorus line of gurus, and a tap-dancing moon. It coils around and around, as Indian epic tales are known to do. Even the Indians can’t always figure them out. In addition to her characters talking, Paley adds another level of dialogue: Three voice-over modern Indians, ad-libbing as they try to get the story straight. Was Sita wearing jewelry or not? How long was she a prisoner in exile? How did the rescue monkey come into the picture? These voices are as funny as an SNL skit, and the Indian accent gives them charm: What a challenge, these stories! Sita, the heroine, reminds me a little of the immortal Betty Boop. But her singing voice is sexier. Paley synchs her life story and singing and dancing with recordings of the American jazz singer Annette Hanshaw (1901-1985), a big star in the 1920s and 1930s who was known as The Personality Girl. Sita lived around 1000 BCE, a date which inspires lively debate among the three Indians discussing her. But when her husband outrageously accuses her of adultery and kicks her on top of a flaming pyre, we know exactly how she feels when Annette Hanshaw sings her big hit, Mean to Me.

Read more here at blogs.suntimes.com

–Rogert Ebert

Mumbai police make arrests in piracy crackdown

In In Your Face on September 28, 2009 at 10:55 PM

Courtesy of Screen International

whatsyourrashee_02

25 September, 2009 | By Udita Jhunjhunwala

Mumbai police have arrested employees of UFO Moviez, Reliance Big Cinemas, Adlabs and Shemaroo Entertainment in connection with a plot to pirate UTV Motion Pictures’ What’s Your Rashee?, which is being released today.

UTV has since demanded compensation of $10m (Rs500m) each from UFO Moviez and Adlabs for “abetting piracy and infringement of copyright”, to be paid up within seven days.

The persons arrested included UFO Moviez associate vice president, digital mastering, Rajesh Chowdhry (who has since been sacked), Big Cinemas manager of overseas distribution Neerav Shah, Adlabs Processing manager Durgadas Bhakta and Kalapi Nagda, who heads overseas distribution for Shemaroo Entertainment.

The master print of What’s Your Rashee?, directed by Ashutosh Gowariker, was allegedly stolen from Adlabs processing lab on Monday. This week’s other release, Fast Forward, was also stolen.

Reliance Big Pictures issued an official statement saying: “Anybody found guilty of any wrong-doing as far as the law of the country is concerned, will be strictly dealt with.”

The piracy racket is believed to cross borders between India and Pakistan. A meeting of producers, distributors and lab owners is scheduled for early next week.

Khushwant Singh on Nandita Das

In In Your Face on September 28, 2009 at 12:57 PM
Courtesy of Outlook India
NanditaDas.JoshSiegelShe is the best example of an Indian’s perception of a beautiful woman: brown complexion, chiselled features, fawn-like eyes and a gentle smile on her lips. She uses no make-up like eye shadow, powder, rouge or lipstick to enhance her beauty. Even so, her face leaves an indelible stamp on one’s mind which can be brought alive anytime you think of her. She is Nandita Das—actress, director and producer of films which carry a message. She is the daughter of the eminent Oriya painter Jatin Das and Gujarati Hindu-Jain mother Varsha. She was born, brought up and educated in Delhi and may rightly be described as Nai Dilli ki beti. She did her schooling in Sardar Patel Vidyalaya, took a degree in geography from Miranda House and MA in social work from Delhi University—getting firsts in all of them. With her academic achievements she could have made it to one of the central services. She toyed with the idea of becoming an Odissi dancer but her stunningly photogenic looks and talent for acting drew her into the film world.

I have not been inside a cinema hall for over thirty years and rarely switch on my TV except to catch up with the latest news. I am not qualified to write on a film personality. However, I had a couple of sessions with Nandita Das in my home. The first was after the success of Firaq, based on the anti-Muslim riots in Gujarat in 2002, directed by her. It won her nation-wide acclaim and drew huge crowds when shown in Pakistan. It also brought her a lot of hate mail from Hindu fundoos. The second and longer session was soon after the release of Before The Rains, about an illicit love affair between a married English coffee-planter and his maidservant, also married. It got some good as well as some critical reviews. I gathered whatever material I could find on her on the net—acted in 30 films, directed four and details of her life. I asked everyone who had seen her films how they rated her—and felt compelled to put my conclusions on paper.

I went through the biodata she had sent me after our first meeting. I noticed something strange: she had lots of nice things to say about her father whom she calls Baba, but there was nothing about her mother. I knew her parents had a messy divorce when she was barely eight years old. I also heard her father had a roving eye and remarried more than once after divorcing Varsha. I told her what I had noticed and asked if her parents’ divorce had left any scars on her mind and if she had been forced to take sides. She was on the defensive. “No,” she assured me, if there were any scars, they had healed and she loved both her mother and father equally. She admitted her father was a bit of an eccentric and much misunderstood. It was her duty to set the record straight. She is very protective about her father’s reputation. I came to the conclusion it was a case of father-fixation. For her, Baba can do no wrong.

Nandita’s own forays into matrimony were also of brief duration. The first lasted a bare three years, ending in divorce by mutual consent. “We remain the best of friends,” she assured me. I changed the subject. “What do you think of marriage as an institution?”
She relaxed. “Not much. People fall in love and get married. Then they get bored with each other. They hang together for family considerations or for the sake of children. But the fun is gone. Few have the guts to get divorced.”

“And religion?”

“I don’t have any. I don’t even know what caste I belong to. In our home we had no pooja room or idols of deities. We lit diyas on Diwali, squirted coloured water or gulal on people if any came visiting. When my aunt wanted me to go with her to the Jagannath temple in Puri, I went along to keep her company. No one in the family bothered whether a person was Hindu or Muslim—or whatever.”

“And God. Do you believe in a divinity?”

“If you don’t believe in any religion, there is no place for God or divinity in your mind. No, I don’t believe in God.”

“Do you plan on spending the rest of your life making films?”

“No, if I was I would not be living in Delhi, I’d be in Bombay. I’ll make films when I have something to say. I want to make a difference in people’s way of thinking.”

“Many people say you make only art films meant for the educated elite?”

She protested. Firaq had made an impact on the common people. She quoted what her driver had to say about it. He was very moved.

So why has Nandita not made it to the top in Indian films? I answer the question myself. She is not willing to compromise on her themes. She is not willing to take part in films which have a set number of songs, acrobatic dances and mock fights which the gullible gobble up with relish and are rated by what they rake in at the box office. It is not manoranjan (amusement) she is after but chintan (thinking). She wants to make an impact on the minds of people.

Nandita lives in Gulmohar Park with her younger brother who is a creative designer. She does not go to parties. She has a busy schedule of work. She gets up at 6.30 am and gets down to it. She does not waste time reading newspapers: at one time she subscribed to three, now she only reads The Indian Express. She has no time to watch TV or indulge in idle gupshup. She loves travelling and is on the hop most of the time to distant places in the country and abroad. She reads a little and retires around 11 pm. I asked if she slept soundly. “I used to,” she replied. “Not so soundly these days.”

She is a teetotaller. In the two sessions she had with me when I was sipping Scotch with soda and ice, she kept sipping uncooled mineral water.

– Khushwant Singh

Tan C Won’t Have Coffee With You

In In Your Face, Press Play on September 24, 2009 at 12:18 PM

tannishtha-chatterjee-01

Its a pleasant fall afternoon in New York. We’re sitting down with Tannishtha Chatterjee, just days before the premiere of her new film in Toronto. Conversation flows, humor brimmeth over, but the coffee stays untouched. Amongst other things, we learn that this leading lady was once a Chemistry major. And with four incredible indie films out this year she’s also an MBA in what it takes to make it on your own terms in this filmi industry! So listen up…

FK: When you look in the mirror, what do you see?
TC:
It follows Heisenberg’s uncertainty priciple. At the rate at which I am travelling these days the images are a little blurry.

FK: Your greatest asset is…
TC:
What asset…Dude, there’s a recession

FK: London or Mumbai?
TC:
Both. London for its awesome weather, Mumbai for its cleanliness…

FK: In how many languages can you say ‘Get Lost’?
TC:
Get lost……

FK: Performance or Trance?
TC:
My personal preference is peek sports performance with deep trance hypnosis. Did you hear about that?

FK: What do we not know about you?
TC:
What you shall never know!!

FK: Who is more funny – Dev B or D?
TC: Are you kidding…. obviously Dev B… I mean D Actually Tan C

FK: What’s playing on your ipod right now?
TC:
Nobodys fault but mine…

Interviewing Naseeruddin: The Lion Roars

In In Your Face on September 23, 2009 at 10:53 AM

Courtesy of Sepia Mutiny

naseeruddin-shahAP

Well, he was really incredibly nice…but he certainly had little patience for stupid people asking stupid questions, so the possibility that he would lose his temper lent a certain charge to the proceedings.

I’m talking about Naseeruddin Shah, of course. The yin to Big B’s yang, the iconoclast, the evergreen, the lion of Indian cinema with over 150 films to his credit. From Umrao Jaan to Monsoon Wedding to Omkara, he disappears into a role so thoroughly, I usually have to check IMDB frequently to make sure it’s really him.

It’s just so refreshing when famous people turn out to be intelligent and really engage in a conversation. All too often it’s just rote PR fluff. Many mutineers seemed to like the Vik Sahay interview for that reason, so I thought I’d bring over these two Naseerudin Shah interview clips:

http://www.mtviggy.com/desi/innerview-naseeruddin_shah_Bollywood

Anurag Kashyap’s got “testicular strength” and first time directors make for the best experiences:

Breakout Gal Pooja Kumar

In In Your Face on September 14, 2009 at 2:38 PM

pooja-kumar

She won the Miss India USA pageant and she won our hearts. From the sultry posters of Bombay Dreams she landed on yellow cabs and metro buses as the no-nonsense film producer who steals Chris Kattan’s heart in the brand-new IFC mini-series, Bollywood Hero. Keep your eyes on Pooja Kumar in the upcoming films Drawing with Chalk, Bollywood Beats and more, and get personal here as she opens up to FK…

FK: Life turned out to be…

PK: …much better than I expected – a roller coaster ride!

FK: Love at first sight…

PK: …is a myth.

FK: Rum or coke?

PK: Depends on the occasion and the company

FK: Bollywood Hero is..

PK:…a three part TV mini-series in which I play the main lead opposite the witty and charming famous comedian, Chris Kattan (Saturday Night Live, A Night at the Roxbury).

FK: Breakfast is…

PK: …always underrated

FK: Mantra for staying cool

PK: say thank you 25 times a day and be grateful for what you have – breathe in and breathe out.

FK: Today is …

PK: …a Gift, that’s why its called a Present. Yesterday is History and tomorrow is a Mystery

FK: My first memory of watching a movie

PK: was at the age of 5 – I was invited to perform an Indian dance at a Chicago TV Station, Chitrahaar. I watched Silsila and emulated all of Rekha’s dance moves!

FK: What is your coping mechanism?

PK: Doing Yoga and exercise.

FK: Wouldn’t be caught…

PK: …without my clothes off!

FK: Watch out for…

PK: …my upcoming projects: “Bollywood Hero”, “Drawing with Chalk”, “Hiding Divya”, “Bollywood Beats”, and a romantic comedy currently being shot in New York.

FK: I love …

PK: …being an artist!

Loveleen Tandan’s Lucky Charms

In In Your Face on September 11, 2009 at 1:05 AM

Loveleen_Tandon

We just caught up with the lovely Ms. Tandan, co-director of Slumdog Millionaire, over the cyber waves. She’s already had her say with the Wall Street Journal, Times UK, Times of India and KhabarBollywood, who have variously coined her the ‘co-pilot’, ‘unsung hero’ and ‘pretty cast-master’ of Slumdog. We now bring you an exclusive peek at the lighter side of the lady behind the tramp.

FK: How many steps to the Oscar stage?

LT: Non-existent. Took us a split second to get there as soon as we heard the name of the film we were dying to hear.

FK: Person you enjoyed meeting most at the Oscars?

LT: Little Pinki Sonkar from Mirzapur on whom the documentary “Smile Pinki” is based.

FK: What you had for dinner the very first night after you wrapped Slumdog?

LT: Butter Chicken and Butter Naan.

FK: Which side of the bed do you sleep on?

LT: Centre.

FK: Standard set outfit?

LT: Kurta and Jeans.

FK: Lucky charm?

LT: My hair after a shampoo.

FK: Bombay or Delhi?

LT: Bombay for work and Delhi for sleep.

FK: Earliest film memory?

LT: Gabbar Singh in Sholay.

FK: PC or Mac?

LT: Mac hee Mac.

Anuvab Pal on Elevators and Fame

In In Your Face, Payal Sethi on September 9, 2009 at 10:57 AM

1-888Yes, India is more than its outsourcing, but laughter is still the best medicine, so take a look at the new play from funny-man Anuvab Pal, 1-888-DIAL-INDIA

FK: Describe Manish Acharya
AP: Manish Acharya, is, as Churchill said of Russia, a puzzle wrapped in an enigma, surrounded by a mystery. Except funnier.

FK: New York or Mumbai?
AP: New York filled with people who know everything about India or Mumbai, filed with people who know everything about New York.

FK: Who do you look like?
AP: One person told me the love child of Muamar Quaddafi (President of Libya) and Jhumpa Lahiri.

FK: Fast Cars, Movies or Women?
AP: I don’t know how to drive and I’m married so I’d go with movies.

FK: The President is…
AP: …only 87 minutes.  And pirated I hear.

FK: Spiritual belief?
AP: I believe in spirits. Especially Jack Daniels and Coke.

FK: Wonder why…
AP: …some slum kids in Slumdog Millionaire had crisp British accents.

FK: Sex is…
AP: …not invented by Indians.

FK: Pal is to Soda as
AP: Woody Allen is to Scarlett Johanssen.  Consumed.

FK: What next?
AP: A film about some Indians in Calcutta taking a French Class.  Called French Class.

FK: Any past life experiences?
AP: If one believes in rebirth, I assume I committed some crime to be punished in this life as a playwright.

FK: Plays vs. Films
AP: I’d like to see an actual fight between playwrights and screenwriters and I’d support whoever won.

FK: Favourite person to be stuck in an elevator with?
AP: An elevator repair man.

FK: Fame is?
AP: The name of the distributor in India of both my movies and I am very grateful to the