Fenil and Bollywood

Posts Tagged ‘Danny Boyle

VIR SANGHVI (Hindustan Times)

Here are two images you may remember from television. The first was the Oscar ceremony. Simon Beaufoy won the Oscar for best adapted screenplay for Slumdog Millionaire. It is no secret that Beaufoy’s script differed significantly from the book by Vikas Swarup on which Slumdog was based. But Beaufoy made it a point to thank Swarup on stage and to say that without his book there would be no screenplay, no movie, and no Oscars.

Later that same night Slumdog director Danny Boyle, while accepting his own Oscar, apologised to the choreographer Longinus, whose name had been left out of the end credits of Slumdog. When the film won the Best Picture Oscar, the entire unit went on stage including Vikas Swarup who had been flown in to Los Angeles by the makers of the film at their expense.

And here is a second image. It is a press conference in Noida on Friday. The cast and makers of 3 Idiots are answering questions from the press as part of the publicity campaign for the film. When journos keep asking about the lack of recognition accorded to author Chetan Bhagat, on whose book the film is based, producer Vidhu Vinod Chopra stands up, points a finger at an inquisitive journalist and shouts ‘Shut up’. Chopra is prevented from saying much more by his colleagues and Aamir Khan then swings into damage control mode. He tries to sound reasonable but manages to abuse Chetan Bhagat, calls him publicity hungry — a bit rich considering the stunts Aamir staged to gain publicity for 3 Idiots — and berates journos for believing Bhagat.

What is the difference between the two images?

I think one word sums it up: grace.

Danny Boyle, Simon Beaufoy and the Slumdog unit behaved with grace. Vinod Chopra and his star behaved with a complete lack of grace.

If you’ve missed the controversy, here’s what it is about. Vidhu Vinod Chopra bought the rights to Chetan Bhagat’s novel and then turned it into 3 Idiots. Nobody disputes that 3 Idiots is based on the Bhagat novel and indeed Bhagat is credited as such in the movie.

The point of discord is the placing of the credit. Bhagat suggests that it should have been at the beginning along with all the other writer credits. Instead it appears at the very end.

In his defence, Chopra says that the end is an appropriate place for the credit because his scriptwriters, including Rajkumar Hirani, the film’s director, changed so much of the story that the final film has little to do with Bhagat’s novel.

Bhagat says that this is not true. Yes of course there is a lot in the film that he did not write but it is still recognisably his story and on his blog he lists several points of similarity.

For the purposes of argument, I am quite prepared to believe Aamir and Chopra when they deny Bhagat’s version of events. I am also prepared to accept that the screenplay is significantly different from Bhagat’s novel.

But here’s the thing: it shouldn’t make a difference.

Vidhu Vinod Chopra is contractually obliged to give Bhagat credit as the writer of the source material for the movie. So, the issue is not whether the script is 95 per cent based on the book or 25 per cent derived from Bhagat’s novel. The only issue is one of placing. Should Bhagat have been part of the opening credits? And was it graceless to bury his name in the end credits?

In Hollywood, it is not uncommon for scriptwriters to significantly alter the plots of source material or to only use a part of the book. Slumdog differs significantly from Vikas Swarup’s Q&A. The Firm dispenses with John Grisham’s ending and invents a new one. In Papillon, a major character who was not even in the book was invented by the scriptwriters. David Lean’s Dr Zhivago junked the second half of the book. The recent My Sister’s Keeper differs substantially from Jodi Picoult’s bestseller of the same name.

In every single case, however, the original novel was properly credited and the author mentioned in the opening credits. Nobody believed that this detracted in any way from the screenwriter’s achievements. It just demonstrated a certain grace and honesty on the part of the movie’s maker.

So why, you may well ask, is Vidhu Vinod Chopra being so bloody-minded about denying Chetan Bhagat his opening credit?

The honest answer is I simply cannot understand Chopra’s pettiness.

I hold no brief for any of the principals in this drama. At the HT, we’ve had a bad experience with Chetan Bhagat, who we believe behaved unprofessionally when he was a columnist. On the other hand, I have met Vinod Chopra, have worked with his wife and have always thought well of him. Personally, I have the highest regard and admiration for Aamir Khan, whom I know slightly.

So, this is not about personalities. It’s not even about principle — Chopra has conceded the principle by giving Bhagat his credit even if he has buried it in the end.

It is about grace.

What does it cost the makers of 3 Idiots to give Chetan Bhagat his credit in the space where a writer’s credit is traditionally placed in the international movie business? It would make no difference to the movie’s massive box-office performance. We would not think any less of Rajkumar Hirani, a fine director with a great track record. And Aamir’s reputation as the most consistently successful star of our times would remain intact.

Finally, it comes down to how big a human being is prepared to be. Even people who did not think much of Slumdog Millionaire were overwhelmed when Danny Boyle used the Oscar platform to say sorry to Longinus for leaving his name out of the credits. That was the single-biggest night in Boyle’s life, a culmination of everything he had worked for. And he still found the time to mention an Indian dance director he would probably never meet again.

That’s what I call class.

Our own film industry, however, has not covered itself in glory by the way in which it has behaved over Bhagat’s credit. Our producers, directors and actors have come across as mean-spirited and petty and ready to get into fights over something as minor as the placing of a credit.

Just as India has the potential to become a superpower in the 21st century so Bollywood has the opportunity to become the world’s leading film industry in this century. Certainly, we are not short of talent or of audiences.

What we are short of, however, is grace. And our directors need to learn that no amount of box-office success can buy you class. Our film industry will never hit the big time if its leading lights continue to think like small-timers.

It’s time for Aamir, Chopra and Hirani to show some grace. Otherwise they risk coming across as three idiots.

The views expressed by the author are personal

By Subhash K. Jha, December 11, 2009 – 19:00 IST

Post the grand international success of Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire, Mumbai slums have become fashionable and popular visiting places for international audiences. Just how much so, Sudhir Mishra discovered when he took his long-delayed film on slum life Tera Kya Hoga Johnny (featuring Neil Nitin Mukesh, Soha Ali Khan, Shahana Goswami and Karan Nath along with a real street-child Sikandar) to New York’s South Asian Film Festival held from October 28 to November 3.

At the festival American critics reacted to Sudhir Mishra’s Tera Kya Hoga Johnny as another Slumdog Millionaire.

Now Sudhir will release the film in a dubbed English version. “After Slumdog Millionaire, the West is looking with much curiosity at the slum culture of Mumbai. I had no plans of doing an English version of Tera Kya Hoga Johnny. But everyone who saw it in New York suggested I do it. Every frame in my film has been shot in the lanes and gullies of South Mumbai in Colaba.”

With Tutu Sharma now taking over as co-producer of Tera Kya Hoga Johnny, the film is all set for an early January 2010 release.

Thus ends the blame game whereby Neil Nitin Mukesh was being accused of trying to stall the film by not dubbing for it.

Defends Sudhir Mishra, “First of all most of the film is in sync sound. There was just about a day’s dubbing to be done by Neil. He finished it long ago. Why blame the poor guy?”

BOLLYWOOD HUNGAMA.COM

Three kids who sing in Mumbai’s local trains are the singers for Aamir Khan’s next production, The Falling

By Vickey Lalwani (MUMBAI MIRROR;  November 27, 2009)

Aamir Khan has done a Danny Boyle. He has signed on three kids who sing in Mumbai local trains to earn money, to lend their voice for his production, tentatively titled The Falling. The kids, Durga (12), Nagarjuna (17), Bramendra (18) have recorded for the film which is about farmers’ suicide.

They have sung under the guidance of Mathias Duplessy, who has given the background score to the film, directed by Anusha Rizvi. A source from the film revealed, “Mathias discovered the talented kids. He learnt that they earn their daily bread and butter by singing in local trains. He found it interesting, got in touch with the kids and things quickly fell in place. Aamir was really happy with the trio’s talent and immediately agreed to record with them. In fact, Mathias is now making a film with a foreign production house where these kids will sing about six-seven songs.” Last weekend, Aamir and Vidhu Vinod Chopra, who is the producer of 3 Idiots, had a small get-together at Vidhu’s house to check out the kids’ talent. Aamir’s wife Kiran Rao, and Vidhu’s wife Anupama were also present.

Mathias accompanied the kids to Vidhu’s house. “The kids gave a zabardast performance. Aamir was very impressed. Aamir and Vidhu may do something for the kids in future,” the source added. Confirming the news, Mathias said, “I met the three kids two years ago through the director of The Fakir of Venice, Anand Surapur. They had played for me then. In fact, I have even traveled in trains to check out their talent. They have the energy and talent of gypsies. They’re great singers. Durga is the little princess of the group and Nagarjuna is the lead singer. Bramendra too has a very good voice.” “The trio has already recorded for the film and their voice blended wonderfully with the harmonium. I have used their voice for two songs in The Falling,” Mathias added.

 

Vidhu Vinod Chopra


BOLLYWOOD CALLING: Loveleen Tandon
Slumdog Millionaire’s Loveleen Tandon, who’s set to direct a film

ROSHNI K OLIVERA (BOMBAY TIMES; November 24, 2009)

It wasn’t just Anil Kapoor or the cute couple Dev Patel and Freida Pinto who catapulted to international fame with Slumdog Millionaire. It was also a pretty face that emerged from behind-the-scenes. That’s Loveleen Tandon, who co-directed the movie with Danny Boyle. But she has kept a low-profile for a while now. “Yes, I have literally been hibernating in Delhi,” smiled Loveleen, who was in Mumbai recently. “I have been busy with my film script. That’s a full time job.” The only time she took a break was when she was invited to meet the Queen and the Duke to the Buckingham Palace last month. And the Mumbai trip for Eve Ensler and Mahabanoo Mody-Kotwal’s play I am an Emotional Creature, where she read the epilogue. “It’s a great co-incidence that Eve’s play is quite similar to my script, the story of a young girl, her desires, emotions and the pressures on her,” says Loveleen, who plans to start her movie next year. Getting good actors shouldn’t be difficult, she believes because “script is the queen.” As she puts it, “People are always on the lookout for a good script. Whether it’s actors or producers, nobody says no to a good script.” All credit for Slumdog’s apt casting goes to Loveleen, but she wasn’t just the casting director for the film, as some initially thought. “That wasn’t the only thing I was doing. Casting is a part of the bigger scene, part of the larger vision,” she says.


Matching Slumdog’s heights is not going to be easy and comparisons are bound to be there, but that isn’t putting any pressure on her. “I’m someone who thrives on pressure. I thrive on tension, crisis, less time and deadlines. It brings out the best in me,” counters the pretty filmmaker. One question Loveleen’s often asked is, if her film is going to be an international venture, and this baffles her. “You just make a film. Whether it becomes a hit in a city or a country, two countries or five is beyond you. Crossover, international, mainstream, commercial, art… are just tags.”

Refer to Mira Nair, who Loveleen assisted on Monsoon Wedding, and she points out, “She lives abroad. She comes from a different space. I live in India. This is my speciality. I can’t relate to the NRI experience. May be some day in the future, but at the moment, mine is the Indian experience. It’s unique; there’s a strong element of traditional and modern ethos… perfect material for movie making.”

What about criticism regarding Slumdog highlighting only poverty in India? “Films are stories, they are not documentaries meant to highlight any aspect of society. You can only tell a story and tell it well. If it’s a boy from the slums, you have to tell it from that perspective. You can’t glamourise or glorify it.”
John Abraham joins Shah Rukh Khan and Aamir Khan in Danny Boyle and Anurag Kashyap’s Bombay Velvet
By Subhash K Jha (MUMBAI MIRROR; September 18, 2009)

John Abraham

Mumbai Mirror had reported on September 14 in the story Boyle Bells The Cats? that Shah Rukh Khan and Aamir Khan will star together in Danny Boyle and Anurag Kashyap’s forthcoming film, Bombay Velvet. Well, the film got much bigger as news is that John Abraham was actually the first actor to be signed on for the international epic.

A source says, “This was just after John and Anurag formed a mutual fan-club after working together in No Smoking. Although the film didn’t work at the box-office both John and Anurag  vowed to do another film. That’s when Bombay Velvet was born. The film has three segments and John was signed on for the second segment. He will play a real-life 1960s hero of the masses.” SRK and Aamir will star in the first and third segments respectively.

John has since then been reading up extensively to prepare for his first true-to-life character. The role requires him to completely change  his body language and to get rid of his very contemporary body language and mannerisms.

In fact, friends have been provoking John into  believing that he is no longer part of the project. But John isn’t the least bit fazed.

A friend of John says, “When he heard that Aamir was signed, John was really happy for Anurag. People told John that Aamir had replaced him but John knew the truth. Even if it was true, he’d have been happy for Anurag. However, Anurag would never ever drop John. After 10 years of struggle in the film industry, John was the first hero who took Anurag seriously. Earlier every attempt to get into the big league had failed. Anurag would rather drop the project than drop John.”

Speaking about  John starring in Bombay Velvet, Anurag Kashyap had said earlier, “John Abraham has drastically cut his price for my next film Bombay Velvet. So even when I work  with stars my project becomes economical. I don’t charge any money as a director until the  film makes money. After No Smoking, John and I want to make sure our film is  accessible to the audience. Today I realise where I had gone wrong in my earlier cinema. I’m working on my weak points. I tend to get repetitive. So I’ve got two writers for Bombay Velvet who criticised me the most for No Smoking.”

Aamir Khan & Shah Rukh Khan

Danny Boyle’s Bombay Velvet might star Shah Rukh Khan. With Aamir Khan also starring in the film, it will be nothing short of a casting coup
By Kunal M Shah (MUMBAI MIRROR; September 14, 2009)

Aamir Khan

Shah Rukh Khan

After apparently signing Aamir Khan for his forthcoming film, Bombay Velvet, buzz is that Danny Boyle is now in the process of signing Shah Rukh Khan. It will be nothing short of a casting coup if Boyle manages to get the two superstars together. Incidentally, Boyle had earlier offered Anil Kapoor’s role in Slumdog Millionaire to Shah Rukh Khan but things hadn’t worked out then.

Like his hugely successful Slumdog Millionaire, Danny Boyle’s next is also based on the city of Mumbai. It is a thriller period film set in the 1940s to be directed by Anurag Kashyap. The film, based on real incidents, is expected to go on the floors next year.

Danny Boyle

The film has three parts with a new actor playing the lead in the second part while Aamir will be the protagonist in the third part. If sources are to be believed, Boyle had been looking for a lead actor for the first part and decided to get Shah Rukh Khan on board. The filmmaker and actor are in advanced stages of discussion and if all goes well, SRK will soon sign on the dotted line.

Boyle had discussed the film with director Anurag Kashyap during the release of Slumdog Millionaire.

slumMohammed Ismail, left, holds the hand of his son, Azhar, 10 – a star of Slumdog Millionaire – and his wife Shamim in the flat bought for them by the filmmakers. The picture was taken the day before his death Photograph: Gethin Chamberlain

The father of Slumdog Millionaire child star Azhar Ismail has died of tuberculosis at the family’s home in Mumbai.

Mohammed Ismail’s premature death will inevitably fuel the controversy surrounding the fate of the slum children who appeared in the movie, which has grossed more than £86m worldwide since its release.

He died today in the new flat bought for the family by the trust set up by director Danny Boyle. Azhar, 10, was at school at the time and did not learn of the death until he returned home in the early evening.

In the movie Azhar played the part of Salim, the brother of the film’s lead character. In February he travelled to Los Angeles for the Oscars ceremony, where the film picked up eight awards, and on his return to the slum with co-star Rubina Ali he was greeted by cheering crowds.

But the failure of the children to subsequently escape the slum life has been the subject of controversy both within India and abroad.

Ismail found himself at the centre of a media storm after he was photographed slapping Azhar for refusing to talk to journalists shortly after the Oscar ceremony.

Azhar later said that the image portrayed of his father was undeserved. “I was being naughty and he slapped me like any father would. I was the one who was wrong,” he said.

Ismail refused to abandon his dependence on alcohol – something he shared with a large number of men in the slum – despite the media spotlight on his life. But he was clearly very proud of his son’s success. “The fact that a poor man’s child has made such a name for himself, that’s what makes me most happy,” he told journalists.

Until two months ago the whole family still lived in the illegal Garib Nagar slum in the Bandra area of the city. A makeshift shelter that was their home until the film propelled them into the public eye was replaced by a slightly more substantial tin sheet structure built with the help of neighbours, but that was later torn down by the city council.

Ismail had been ill for some time and had twice been admitted to a tuberculosis hospital in Mumbai after being turned away by another hospital in the city, which refused to admit him in case he infected other patients.

His wife said he had been unhappy with the treatment he received in the hospital and had discharged himself.

Tuberculosis is now rare in the UK but remains a major killer in India, where about 1,000 people die of the disease every day. Most of the £1,725 Azhar earned for appearing in the movie was spent on treating his father’s illness.

When The Guardian visited the family in the flat yesterday, it was clear that Ismail’s situation was critical. He lay on the floor of the one-bedroom flat, wrapped in a bundle of blankets, his body wasted, no longer even able to stand up. Asked what would become of him, he said it was in the hands of Allah.

Dinesh Dubey, a family friend who witnessed his death, said it was peaceful.

“He was waiting for me to arrive, I think,” he said. “When I got there his clothes were still moving and his hands were shaking and, after a couple of minutes, there was no more movement.”

Until a few days ago Ismail had still been living in the slum where Azhar was born and brought up. He had stayed on when his wife and son moved into the new flat a short distance away from the slum, because he said that he needed to be there to continue his business selling scrap wood and he was reluctant to move away from his friends.

Unable to understand why the family had not been immediately rehoused when the film became a box-office success, he had regularly criticised Celador films, which made the movie, for abandoning them to their fate.

But the company maintained that it was doing everything it could to help the families of the child stars and had set up the Jai Ho Trust to take care of their welfare and to find them new accommodation.

The new apartment will be transferred into Azhar’s name when he reaches 18 and he is expected to stay on there with his mother. They share the flat with Azhar’s older brother and his wife.

GUARDIAN.CO.UK (September 4, 2009)