Tag Archives: Bollywood

Ruminations: My Wardrobe’s Memories By Sekhar Banerjee

In this personal essay Sekhar Banerjee seeks to explore the emotional history of an individual and a country through Bollywood – the Hindi film industry in India.

Wardrobes are always a secret place, much like the hideout that you used to build with your Ma’s or aunts’ sarees below the largest table in the house. Those were the days of large joint families in India with uncles, aunts, cousins, parents and grandparents, and also of ornate, mostly black, wooden wardrobes in respective families under one roof. It was an ecosystem in itself. 

Seeking and building a hideout then, wherever that might be – in the unused attic or beneath the healthy shade of a household tree, was not a pastime for the children but a desideratum for them to be alone for some time somewhere. Much like the adults in the family. Wardrobes, too, smelt of privacy, some mystery back then.  And they enclosed a sense of calm and timelessness wrapped up in perfumes and naphthalene balls. But, wardrobes are never large enough to hide for the children or for the adults or a family. They never were. The dark insides of wardrobes can only shelter our small parts.

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Don’t give up, say filmmakers from Singapore and Mumbai through their short films on depression and suicide prevention

Sex tape film

Sushant Singh Rajput

Sushant Singh Rajput

The recent spate of suicides in the wake of the pandemic-related lockdowns, especially in the film and entertainment industry highlighted by the alleged suicide of well-known Indian film actor, Sushant Singh Rajput, has stirred many filmmakers.

“The reason I wrote this script is that, before Sushant Singh’s death, there were two other actors who had committed suicide,” says Shipra Arora, writer and producer of the short

BTS still from Sex Tapefilm, Sex Tape. “Sadly, we are in a time where people are feeling alone, out of job, unable to take care of themselves. After Sushant’s death, I couldn’t wait and I knew I had to make something on this subject. The idea was that even if one person gets inspired by this film, I will consider we achieved something. That we were able to help someone.”

Together with her brother, Shivankar Arora, the film’s director, this short was  filmed in 11 hours!

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Shivankar Arora, the film’s director

“As far as challenges are a concern, due to the lockdown, we couldn’t have a team of people working with us,” says Shipra. “The film was shot in 11 hours with only 4 people on the floor (which was the house of the actress). So, from sound recording to spot boy, The job was done by this small team of 3 people.”

“This lockdown kept us thinking how can we utilise the time creatively and what can be done remotely,” says Gibu George, the director of MND. “The idea of MND was ignited during a phone conversation and we four (actors in the film) liked the concept of making a short film remotely with the concept of four childhood friends trying to connect back during this lockdown to cherish their memories and then unveils the most painful memory of their life.”

After releasing MND on YouTube, Gibu and friends decided to launch the prequel too.

Still from the film, MND“The idea of preqel was always there in the first as the storyline had the scope of making a prequel, we just wanted to make it into 2 shorts due to the length of the film and also want to give a different treatment from part 1,” says Gibu. “I was very clear on the characteristics of Aditya Das and his mental problems. He was basically introvert, weird, kind of psychic and depressed because of obvious reasons. His friends was the lifeline during his younger days but he was late to reach out his friends when he lost control over his life. The second part(Prequel) evolved based on this thought.”

Talking about his motivation behind making this film, Gibu said: “Being a socially active person I myself had to go though a lot difficulties during this lockdown. I was not able to copup the sudden changes in day to day life of being locked inside feeling, battling the stress of working from home without understanding the timelimits, etc which has an impact on my mental well-being , makes me realize the importance of staying connected to your loved ones, spending time with your family or the kind of mental imbalance could affect your well-being and how do you try to overcome such situations. The film was so timely and relevent when the Sushant Singh incident came as a shock to the whole industry, but it was purely conindence as the scripting and shoot was completed by end of May. It was indeed painful to know SSR case while we were in the post production.”

Gibu

Gibu George, director of MND

The filmmakers were quite clear about the messaging of the film – “Never miss an opportunity to spend time with your loved ones, you never know there tomorrow may never come” and in the Prequel – Depression is real, but could be hidden behind a smile, Reach out when in need”.

Because of the lockdown regulations and the actors being in different locations, it was not easy to make this film. “The actors, including me are all very close friends and we worked together for few Malayalam theatre plays in Singapore,” says Gibu. “The main challenge we had was during the post-productions, sorting and sending out huge number of rushes, reviewing each and every footages to identify the best one and remotely coordinating with editors on those changes on each drafts were little exhausting but we are glad that we could deliver this completely remotely made 2 films in 2 months of time with a very minimal technical resources and limitations.”

The whole team, it was a satisfying journey. “In fact, a very memorable journey and yeah, these memories will never die!” says Gibu.

CAGED

“Caged was made to bring out awareness about ‘Mental Health’,” says Shalima Motial, who plays the protagonist in this short film.

Cage“Depression is an unspoken, often unfathomable turmoil people experience in their heart & head,” she adds. “It’s a small initiative of Dream Catchers to shed some light on such an important issue which has become a ‘taboo’ to talk about openly. People find it hard to accept that they are going through “Depression”, so asking for help becomes even more difficult.”

Shalima says this short film is her team’s humble initiative to highlight the issue of mental health. The director of the film is her spouse, Himanshu Motial.

The film has the support of Tree of Life as its Mental Health Partner.

While Gibu and team are not full-time filmmakers, Shipra has 15 years of experience in TV and online Industry. After working as a Creative Director for 7 years on Indian TV shows like, ‘Kahin Toh Hoga’, Kasauti Zindagi Ki and many more, she shifted to writing and co-wrote shows like Uttran and Udaan, and then progressed to write Naamkaram, Sanjivani and many more independently.
Her brother Shivankar Arora worked as a cinematographer for 10 years in the TV industry. He also did award-winning films, entitled, “Silent ties” as a cinematographer & “Love Knows No Gender” as a Director.
Wanting to tell the stories that could make a difference, the duo started their own YouTube Channel, ContentkaKeeda. Currently, they both are working together, where Shipra writes and Shivankar  directs. “We fight a lot but it’s all worth it in the end,” says Shipra with a smile.

How Ruby Gupta equates Xanadu in her new crime thriller to Ambani home

Book Review by Koi Kye Lee

No Illusions Front Cover

Title: No Illusions in Xanadu

Author: Ruby Gupta

Publisher: Bloomsbury India (2019)

No Illusions in Xanadu is a murder mystery novel by Ruby Gupta, a professor working in Dehradun Institute of Technology, India. This is her eighth book, having published seven others comprising of fiction and non-fiction books. No Illusions in Xanadu is the second book in her mystery and crime series featuring a dapper detective, Professor Shantanu Bose.

Life in Mumbai came to a standstill when the handsome, charming and legendary Bollywood superstar Rajvir Kapoor was found dead in his study room. He was shot to death on the 30th floor of his swanky new home, Xanadu, named after the hi-tech home of Mandrake the Magician, one of the first super-heroes of the early twentieth century popularised by comic strips of the same name.

Rajvir’s body was discovered by his domestic help, Rose, who then called his wife Pallavi. A popular television host, Pallavi was at a meeting discussing her new talk show with India TV channel when she was informed of her husband’s death. Masking her shock after the telephone call, Pallavi quickly excused herself and rushed home. As she regained control and composure in her luxury car, Pallavi remained skeptical as she had seen Rajvir alive a few hours ago. Both of them had hosted the grandest party in Xanadu where the country’s elite – celebrities, business associates, family and friends – were in attendance. Xanadu, compared by the author to the Ambani home, was the place to be! Read more

Short Story: When you talk about what you feel

A short story from Myanmar by San Lin Tun

Moe did not know what he could do while he sat in his chair and his mind drifted like a kite floating with the free flow of wind. Something dampened his strength and he felt frayed. He had been feeling this way for a couple of days. It started gradually till it took concrete shape in his mind, tending to block his mental processes. That is why he could not  focus on his job. He decided to try to deal with it…

Though he felt it, he could not name the sensation. He picked up the pen from the rectangular lacquer pen holder in front of him on the table, unconsciously. He did not intend to use the pen but his laptop. He sighed at his confusion and looked at his watch — fifteen past four in the afternoon. He stood up, pushed his laptop away and picked up his shoulder bag that lay in a slant against the foot of the table. Read more

Bollywood Legend Bimal Roy: How Classics Moved the Maestro

(On Bimal Roy’s 110thBirth Anniversary, Ratnottama Sengupta traces his enduring affair with books.)

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Bimal Roy (12 th July,1909 – 8th January,1966)

 

“Bimal Da and I – particularly I, being a writer – always looked to literature for story, the raw material of cinema.  People can and do write original scripts for the silver screen, but we did not prefer that because it tends to be hurried writing. We preferred to source our films from books because a writer has already worked on an idea, on the character, on the logic of their action, and its final resolution…”

–Nabendu Ghosh(1917-2007) in And They Made Classics…

He was already a recognised name in Bengali literature when Nabendu Ghosh met Bimal Roy, his film guru. Bimal Roy was a voracious reader. The reasons for this were many.

To begin with Bimal Roy, since school days, had been friends with Sudheesh Ghatak, brother of Manish Ghatak who is better known to Bengali readers as Jubanaswa, a radical writer of  the Kallol era introducing modernism, who drew litterateurs like Tarashankar Bandopadhyay (1898-1971) to his house. The entire family had the gift of story-telling — and not only the eldest brother but also his daughter Mahasweta Devi (1926-2016) and his youngest brother Ritwik Ghatak (1925-1976). Even Sudheesh Ghatak has won accolades for this art.

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Poster of Tagore’s Natir Puja from NT

Eventually, Bimal Roy’s penchant for photography took him to New Theatres (NT) which had, since its inception, transcreated the major novels and stories of writers like Rabindranath Tagore, Bankim Chandra and Sarat Chandra. In fact NT produced not only Tagore’s own Natir Puja (The Dancer’s Prayer, 1932) but also the comedy, Chirakumar Sabha (Bachelor’s Conference, 1932) and Arghya (Offerings, 1937), besides Kapal Kundala (Bankim Chandra, 1933), Dena Paona (Give and Take, 1931), Palli Samaj (Rural Society, 1932), Grihadaaha (House on Fire, 1936), Devdas (1936), Bardidi (Elder Sister, 1939), Kashinath (1943), Biraj Bou (Biraj the Wife, 1946), and Ramer Sumati (The Redemption of Ram, 1947) — all from Sarat Chandra stories. Read more

Have written a book? Here’s how to sell its film rights and make big bucks!

By Mitali Chakravarty

Three Idiots, The Reluctant Fundamentalist and  Crazy Rich Asians have made history in cinema and they started out as mere books, Five Point Someone by Chetan Bhagat, The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Ahmad and Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan.

Bhagat was cited by The New York Times as “the biggest selling English language novelist in India’s history” and was also included in the Time magazine’s list of the world’s 100 most influential people. Ahmad’s book made it big not just in its own rights, climbing up to #4 on the The New York Times Bestseller list and winning multiple awards and accolades, the film catapulted his book as one that addressed humanitarian concerns and won the German film award for peace and at least five more international awards. Kwan also made it to the Times list of the hundred most influential people and was named as “five writers to watch” on the ‘Hollywood’s Most Powerful Authors’ in The Hollywood Reporter. Their cinematic launches helped them make it huge!

But did you ever wonder how their books made it to the big screen? How did they sell their film rights? And as an author, what all should you be looking out for when you sell your book’s film rights?

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Siddharth Jain

Today, we meet the man who can help authors evade controversies and make it from books to movies… He is the man who has made it a business to help writers sell their books to film-makers. Meet Siddharth Jain, the founder of The Story Ink (TSI), India’s first story company for premium content for screen. It is also “India’s No.1 Book to Screen Adaptation Company” and has sold the adaptation rights of almost 70 books to Producers/Studios in India. It is now expanding its footprint by solving the story problem for Indian regional language content producers and international producers, who are searching for local stories for global audiences.

TSI was founded in April 2018 by Jain who had earlier worked for India’s largest OTT (over the top) — Hotstar.com (now acquired by Disney from Fox), iRock Films, Adlabs Films (Reliance Entertainment), Hyperion Studio — Los Angeles and Baazee.com (Ebay India). In a recent  interview with scroll.in , Jain said that five years from now he sees himself “reading a book a day” and curating great stories for films.  In this exclusive interview, he explains how books are made into films… through options agreements.

 

Kitaab: What do you mean by an options agreement? Read more

Writing Matters: In Conversation with Ratnottama Sengupta (Part 2)

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Ratnottama with her Lifetime Achievement Award at the Indywood Festival, December 2017

This is the second part of the interview with Ratnottama Sengupta, national award winning journalist, writer and filmmaker, an exclusive, where she talks of not only legends like Meena Kumari and Utpal Dutta but also takes us on a journey of cinematic history and discusses the impact of social media on cinema along with more about translated books of Nabendu Ghosh.

A quick recap of the earlier interview  leads us into the world of glittering Bollywood where the former Arts Editor of The Times of India, Ratnottama Sengupta, spent her formative years to emerge as a writer and filmmaker; her childhood amidst legendary stars; her observation as a curator of exhibitions which bring out the hidden voices of less known languages, art forms; her experiences as a biographer, author and translator.

Reader Ramashish Roy writes on our website: “Many thanks to ‘Kitaab’ for publishing this interview which portrays commendable work done by her( Ratnottama Sengupta) and most importantly it also depicts the nuances of the unforgettable golden era of Classical Hindi Cinema. Will eagerly wait for the next episode of this interview.”

Reader Antara Mondal writes: “Simply brilliant! Excellent and expansive interview…Loved the elaborate answers. Looking forward to Part 2 eagerly.”

Please enjoy the concluding part of Ratnottama Sengupta’s interview with Team Kitaab.

 

Part 2

Team Kitaab: Your father, Nabendu Ghosh, other than being an eminent scriptwriter, was a well-known Bengali writer.  Do you agree the he is a master storyteller with his pen on the pulse of the need for social, economic and political reforms? Can you tell us a little more about how relevant are the stories that you are translating to the current socio-political set up?

Ratnottama: In other words, the social, political and economic relevance of Nabendu Ghosh’s writings more than half a century after they were crafted.

Baba never let me do anything on his behalf, to ‘promote’ him. He’d say, “As long as I am there, you don’t worry about my writing. You concentrate on yours.” And by God’s grace, he lived to write till the ripe age of 90. But since he was in Bombay after 1951, and writing amid people who didn’t know Bengali, he came to be better known as a screen writer. Within a year of going to Bombay, Baba had taken a conscious decision to write screenplays on the stories and novels of other writers — if they had cinematic possibilities. For, celluloid lives only when it beams dreams and dramas of jubilation on a larger-than-life canvas. And since literature for him was ‘pointing fingers’ he continued to write about deprivations, injustices, inequities.

When I took to translating his stories, I was amazed at the wealth of social, historical, and economic documentation contained in them especially about the 1940s, which are the founding years of the nation. “Learn from those you admire but write from life around you,” his father had said to him when he started writing as a schoolboy. And he did just that and became the voice of 1940s. Quit India movement, riots before and post Partition, the Bengal Famine, these realities we more or less know about. But the rationing of clothes during WW2, the tribals’ fight for fishing rights in the wetlands of Chalan Beel now in Bangladesh, the thugees, the price paid by industrialisation in terms of family values, the corruption of morals in political life, the flights of science and the weakening of faith are some of the issues he addresses. Frankly I did not know so much wealth was lying to be tapped. And once I chanced upon it, I could guide a student of Banaras Hindu University who has just claimed a Doctorate for his work on “Contemporary Politics and the novels of Nabendu Ghosh”. Read more

The Lounge Chair Interview: 10 Questions with Jai Arjun Singh

DSC00174(1)Let’s get down to brass tacks. Why do you write?

Clichéd but true: because I have to. Even if things had gone very differently for me (as they might easily have) and I had ended up working in a profession unrelated to writing, I suspect I would still have made notes, just for myself, in a little pad or on a blog every time I watched a film or read a book that stimulated me.

Tell us about your most recent book or writing project. What were you trying to say or achieve with it?

Oh, there are always many writing projects on hand – I think of even a 1000-word review or an 800-word column as a project that one has to devote serious thought and effort to. But my latest book, published in September 2015, is The World of Hrishikesh Mukherjee: The Filmmaker Everyone Loves – it is a critical study of the director’s work, which is widely categorised as “middle cinema” or “middle-class cinema”. I found myself wanting to write about him because I properly discovered these gentle films relatively late in my life, and found myself unexpectedly drawn to many of them – to the ways in which they made little observations about the workings of a society, couched in simple, comforting narratives.

Describe your writing aesthetic.

Sorry? Read more

Bollywood super star Shahrukh Khan: The power of brand ‘Common Man’

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Shahrukh Khan has kept on juggling roles and pushing himself higher over the years, and in a career which spans almost two and a half decades he has finally emerged as one of the biggest entrepreneurs of the country. It is his image of that of a family man, his frank admission of his success and failures, candid confessions of fears and setbacks that make him a familiar face and household name, says Dr. Anindita Chatterjee in this review of Koral Dasgupta’s Power of A Common Man: Connecting with Consumers the SRK Way (2014).

SRK_bookPower of A Common Man: Connecting with Consumers the SRK Way.

Author: Koral Dasgupta

Publisher: Westland Books

Date of Publication: 2014

ISBN: 978-93-84030-15-5

Pages: 310 + xv

Price on cover: Rs 395

Celebrity culture consists of every possible component that is publicly available about an individual, such as images, writing, autobiography, interviews and movies. ‘Celebrity ecology’, as Pramod Nayar identifies it in his seminal work Seeing Stars: Spectacle, Society and Celebrity Culture is the apparatus of this representation, production, circulation and consumption of iconic figures, events and actions. The celebrity, today, is thus a cumulative effect of her or his achievements as well as of the media coverage of these achievements. It can now be safely asserted that celebrity is thus a socially constructed identity that consists of two basic dimensions: Read more

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