Fenil and Bollywood

Posts Tagged ‘mira nair

Rani Mukerji to work with filmmaker Deepa Mehta in the screen adaptation of Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children

By Subhash K Jha (MUMBAI MIRROR; January 04, 2010)


Last month, Rani Mukerji had a secret, productive and extremely encouraging meeting with author Salman Rushdie and director Deepa Mehta in Toronto. Rushdie and Mehta are coming together for a screen adaptation of the former’s celebrated Booker-winning novel Midnight’s Children. According to reliable sources, Rani met the author and the filmmaker for a good two hours and is now part of the screen adaptation. The buzz is Rushdie took a great fancy to her.

Rani Mukerji

Deepa is evasive about confirming Rani’s presence in Midnight’s Children. She says, “Yes, Salman Rushdie and I met her informally in Toronto, but nothing has been finalised.”

However, reliable sources insist Rani is part of the coveted project which already has Shabana Azmi, Seema Biswas and Nandita Das in its cast.

Hinting at the possibility of working with Rani, Deepa says, “I don’t know about Rani’s current box-office status but I have always wanted to work with her. I saw her work in Hey Ram, Black, Bunty Aur Babli and Veer-Zaara and loved it. She is among the best talent in India today. Whether it is Preity Zinta (Heaven On Earth), Shabana Azmi (Fire) or Seema Biswas (Water), I have always enjoyed working with strong, female actors.”

Rani too is on the lookout for a challenge that will take her beyond the roles she has done in Hindi cinema so far. Interestingly, she has never worked with a female director in her entire career. She came close to working with Mira Nair in The Namesake. She lost the prized role to Tabu because she didn’t want to play Abhishek Bachchan’s mother. Later, Abhishek too opted out of the project.

Deepa Mehta Salman Rushdie

HARD TALK: Mira Nair

SUBHASH K JHA Times News Network (BOMBAY TIMES; November 27, 2009)

After the mixed response to her latest Hollywood bigbudget film Amelia, Mira Nair is all set to plunge into a far more contemporary and headline-screaming work. It’s going to be a thriller called The Reluctant Fundamentalist and will be set in Lahore, Chile and New York.

Mira had been angling for the filming rights of Pakistani author Mohsin Hamid’s novel by this name for some time now. The deal has finally come through. The Reluctant Fundamentalist is about the impact 9/11 had on the life of a young Pakistani Muslim in New York and requires an intense Muslim actor to play the protagonist, Changez, who can express bitterness, rage and acceptance within the same scriptzone.

The buzz is that Mira has decided on her old favourite Irrfan Khan with whom she did The Namesake and Kosher Vegetarian. However, there is pressure from the American studios to cast a Hollywood actor in the main role so that the international bestselling novel would get the audience it demands and deserves. Global terrorism is not just a theme that fascinates the international film fraternity. Bollywood has produced at least three talked-about films on it this year. Mira is keen to watch her good friend Karan Johar’s Kurbaan and Kabir Khan’s New York to get a look at another filmmaker’s perspective on how 9/11 changed the world-view for Muslims.

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.”

BAAP RE BAAP: Amartya Sen and daughter Nandana

Nobel Laureate Prof. Amartya Sen discusses cinema exclusively for BT with actress daughter Nandana Sen in Mumbai

MARK MANUEL Times News Network (BOMBAY TIMES; October 25, 2009)


It’s funny, with a daughter like the lovely international actress Nandana Sen, you would have thought Nobel Prize economist Prof. Amartya Sen would be well informed about cinema. But he’s not. He knows just about five people connected with filmmaking. And these he counted for me with much difficulty and some prompting from Nandana. “I knew Satyajit Ray extremely well,” he began, “he and I studied at Santiniketan. I had huge admiration for him. And I know Mira Nair, Shyam Benegal, and, and… what’s his name, Mrinal Sen! I do know Nandita Das and like her films, also. And I met… what’s the name of the guy who acted with you in Rang Rasiya… I shook his hand? Randeep Hooda? Yes, I met him. I also met Amitabh Bachchan, whom I don’t know, and Shabana Azmi, who’s an old friend. I used to like her father’s poetry and now, I like her husband’s. And Salman Khan…”


He was in Mumbai to deliver a keynote lecture for the Indian Philosophy Congress yesterday and I was meeting the distinguished father and sexy daughter at his suite in the Taj. I was drinking coffee. The professor ordered a pot of Darjeeling tea. When it came, he was appalled. “This tea is too strong for Darjeeling,” he grumbled, “it’s got the strength of Assam.” Then to
Nandana, who was busy eating pistachios noisily, he said, “Chuck it in the sink!” He is unintentionally humorous, he speaks in a deep, rumbling voice, and he chooses his words carefully — as if aware that when Prof. Amartya Sen speaks, people hang onto his words even if he isn’t talking welfare economics. That’s his hobby horse. And he travels around the world at 76 on his Nobel Prize ticket, astonishing scientists and academicians with his philosophy on poverty, gender inequality and political liberalism. But I had got him onto cinema. And Prof. Sen was struggling.


“You’re wasting your time, I’m not knowledgeable about
films,” he said trying to discourage me. “You asking me who I like is like asking me a cooking recipe. I’m happy to tell you. But my recipe won’t alleviate the culinary world much!” Nandana, fortunately, was not having any of it. “Baba, you like Sharmila Tagore, isn’t she one of your favourites,” she chided him. “Yes,” Prof. Sen admitted. “And Katherine Hepburn… what a fantastic actress, so sharp and intelligent.” Then he surprised me by saying, “Jane Fonda, I know. I’ve had a couple of dinners with her. Her husband, Ted Turner, started the UN Foundation and was a trustee. So is my wife, Emma Rothschild. And the dinners where spouses gather, are quite impressive. There’s also Nelson Mandela.” But to come back to cinema, he doesn’t see too many films, though he thinks he’s seen all of Nandana’s. Rang Rasiya, in which she plays Raja Ravi Varma’s muse and appears topless in one breathtaking scene, Prof. Amartya saw at the London Film Festival and actually liked. “It’s not been released and nobody seems to know why,” he said querulously. “Has it been made for the archives? It would have been a great success in Europe and the US after receiving favourable notice in London.”


He hardly visits Mumbai. His work brings him to Delhi. And his
heart takes him to Kolkata. Now Prof. Amartya Sen looked out of the window at the Gateway and said, “I’ve not been here since the November disaster, but I have various memories here. The best one is of defeating the Australian cricket team! I was in the health club, exercising on the bike and watching a news channel, when they came in. They wanted the bike and to change the channel. I objected. They were a little assertive and gave me the democratic argument that there were more of them. But I was here first, I told them. Then their captain, Steve Waugh, came. He conceded that I had a point. I thought, no matter how poorly India did in cricket against Australia, I had done reasonably well!”

Shekhar Kapur and Mira Nair compete for praise for the 10-part film tribute to NYC, New York, I Love You

By Subhash K Jha (MUMBAI MIRROR; October 21, 2009)

Of the celebrated coterie of internationally-acclaimed Indian filmmakers, two were pitted against each other in the recent homage to New York, titled New York, I Love You. In this 10-story tribute to the city, one film is by Shekhar Kapur, and one by Mira Nair.

Shekhar’s is a film that was originally meant to be directed by the legendary Anthony Minghella. After his sudden death in March 2008, Shekhar was roped in to direct the film written by Anthony. While Shekhar’s film is an episode featuring the veteran Julie Christie as an ageing opera singer and her interactions with a cocky bellboy (played by Shia LaBeouf) at a posh hotel, Mira’s story has Irrfan Khan playing a staunch vegetarian Gujarati who meets a pure non-vegetarian Jewish girl, played by Natalie Portman.

While critics have praised both Shekhar and Mira’s films, the tension between the two has begun to show. Mira claims she got the best reviews. “My film has been superbly received,” she says. “My film was referred to as the one that stood out.” But ask her to comment on Shekhar’s film and she goes mum. Shekhar is equally silent on Mira’s film.

However, since the New York series is dedicated to Anthony, Shekhar’s film does have a sentimental edge over Mira’s. Whatever the acclaim for both, one thing is for sure. Do not expect a joint celebration by the two Indian directors of New York, I Love You.

Shekhar Kapur

Mira Nair

THE PERFECT BRIDE: Natalie Portman, Mira Nair and Irrfan Khan

The Bolly-Holly combo had a blast on the sets of Mira Nair’s film

SUBHASH K JHA Times News Network (BOMBAY TIMES; September 30, 2009)

There was something definitely not very ‘kosher’ between our Irrfan Khan and Hollywood’s Natalie Portman on the sets of Mira Nair’s Kosher Vegetarian in New York.

The film, that opens on October 16, has Irrfan playing a conservative and sexually repressed Gujarati diamond merchant and the nifty Natalie, a Jew who becomes a sanyasin. Apparently, the chemistry between the two actors had such a vibe that they’ve agreed to do another film together… with or without Mira!

Irrfan found his role a challenge. “My character’s dilemma is that the woman who was once my wife, has
now become a sanyasin, and he has to worship her.”

That they had a blast while shooting, can be seen from this still of the film that has Irrfan dressed up as a Jew and Natalie as a typical Hindu bride — the best-looking bride that Irrfan claimed he had ever seen! “She looks very young,” the Bollywood actor said, “but Natalie has been acting from the time she was a child. She’s truly a wonderful actress. We shot the film at one stretch.” Of their synergy, he added, “Actors all over the world are linked by a common craving for excellence. We’re all looking for challenges and glory. But with Natalie, it was very different. We constantly chatted, discussed one another’s culture and shared very warm vibes.”
Vishal Bharadwaj is as much of an enigma as his films. He goes incommunicado when he is shooting a film but is wonderfully articulate and expressive once the pressure is off. Perhaps because he started his career as a music director, his films are appealingly lyrical and poetic even as they explore the dark side of human behaviour
By Indu Mirani (MUMBAI MIRROR; July 22, 2009)
All your films explore the dark side of the human psyche…

Yes, I have been doing that right from Makdee, in which I tried to show life from the point of view of a child. As a child, I remember, one of my relatives was supposedly possessed by a ghost and we would take him to a Maulvi to get rid of the ghost. I was only 14 – 15 years of age and I was traumatised. Then as I grew up, I realised that I had to get this out of my system and so I made Makdee. I tried to do the exorcising with Maqbool and Omkara too but I think we can never get rid of our dark side. We get dark images everyday. But Kaminey, I would say, has the lightest side of that darkness presented in a humorous manner with some seriousness.Where did Kaminey originate? Was it an incident or a film or a book that inspired you?

Four years ago, Mira Nair assembled writers from America, India and Canada to mentor ten students from Asia and Africa. This scriptwriting workshop was held in Kampala, Yuganda. A young writer from Nairobi showed me a script which was a story about twin brothers and what happens in their life in a span of 24 hours. It was like parallel cutting and I really liked that approach. Mira and I spoke about it at length and both of us felt that it was a typical Bollywood masala movie. I was in touch with that writer for the next six months. He also sent me another draft. Then two-three years later I asked him to sell me the idea. He was in need of money so I sent him some 4000 dollars and bought the script to make any time. I picked up that idea and added Bollywood masala and my dark and serious side to it. So now, one brother stammers and the other has a lisp.

I thought that it would be exciting to make. But it wasn’t that easy. It was very tough and I had to work really hard. I would never like to make such a film again.

Evidently you took this film to several actors before you signed Shahid. How far is this true?

When I was working with Aamir Khan on Mr Mehta and Mrs Singh and we would sit together for drinks, Aamir would narrate two ideas to me and then I would narrate six to him. He would get excited about them and we would say we would work together. When I narrated this idea to him he expressed his desire to do this double role. It’s the same with Shahid and me. I must have narrated six other ideas to Shahid too but it’s not necessary that I will cast Shahid in each one of them.

If we are to be so guarded when we are working together, it will not be possible to work. When Saif and I were working, I would do the same thing with him too. He too got really excited about this movie. But when I actually decided to make the movie, I genuinely found that Saif was a little over age according to the character and I wanted someone younger. So it was my choice, I never offered it to anyone.

Today I might tell a story to Shahid but I might make the film with Emran Hashmi. That doesn’t mean I had offered it to Shahid. Shahid has offered me umpteen number of things. Kareena had said that she wouldn’t work with anyone apart from me. If we were to go by that she would only have one release every three years and not be able to work in even three films during her career.

There is a huge difference between discussing and narrating and offering someone a film and I would like to clear up the rumour by saying that Kaminey was never offered to anyone else and so no one rejected it. This film wasn’t ever offered to Saif. Saif and Aamir are very fine actors but ultimately it’s about my choice.

Does the title Kaminey reflect young people’s fascination for things negative?

I think today’s youth is more open to face their mean side. There is less hypocrisy and in time, that too will decrease. And something negative always attracts attention. I was at the airport and a couple with their little boy recognised me and started talking to me. The boy asked me “Uncle, what is the name of your movie?” and the father immediately said, “I will tell you later. Not now.” I said, “Why will you tell him later? It’s not a maa-behan ki gaali.” And I told the boy that the name was Kaminey. That kid laughed aloud.

During Omkara, I met an MP, who was upset with me because of the abusive language in the film. I asked him, when there is a clash going on in the streets with a lot of abusive language used by people, do you really go and stop them? So why do you want us to portray what is not true? We are giving you an option to avoid watching the film by giving it an A certificate. I have the right to portray reality. But I feel we become very uncomfortable with our own language. It’s easy for us to say f**k but in our language we can’t say it at all, only because that is our conditioning. We feel really offended in our language. But the youth don’t care.

Your films have been critically acclaimed but have never been a big success. Do you think Kaminey will break that pattern?

I have thought this for all my films till now. I don’t know. This time I have gone a few steps ahead in terms of the kind of audience I want to cater to. Inshallah, it should do that. But, god forbid, it may also not do that well. I only want Ronnie (Screwvala) to make money.

When you get stuck in your writing, who or what inspires you?

When I get stuck, I go to my friends, my co-writers. Most of the time, I get my solution. And it has also happened that I get such solutions that I have to ultimately stop writing. It has happened that we had written 70 percent of a film and suddenly a problem came up. We took it to a friend who told me that I would never be able to overcome this problem. So, it’s better to move on.

What is your stress buster?

Tennis. It’s my best time of the day. I play from 6.30am to 9am and it’s on my return that I compose most of my songs. I composed Naina thag lenge, when returning from tennis.

Does it bother you that your film is so much in news for your actors and their activities and not for the film itself?

I don’t think so because ultimately it’s my film. I feel happy that it is promoting my film. (laughs)

Most people consider Maqbool your most perfect film…

I don’t agree or disagree because it is based on one of the best works of Shakespeare. The basic texture and the content of the story are well structured and I also had the best actors of the century: Pankaj Kapoor, Naseeruddin Shah and Om Puri.

Will you ever make a candy floss romance?

I will make such films one day. It’s part of my agenda that I have to go back to the time when I was 17-years-old and had fallen in love for the first time in my small town. I want to capture that. Right now I am too busy dealing with the structural part of the film, how to shock people with the structures, the curves and characters. Slowly, I will move to the texture of the film and when that happens I will be more close to reality in the real sense.

What are you planning to make next?

I had started planning much before Kaminey was released. I want to do one film a year. I am young right now. I have the energy and I want to translate that on screen. Right now I have three four projects on hand, but the Hrithik film is closest to start.

What is it called?

We haven’t named it yet.

Is it going to be Harami, Kutta or something like that?

No no no..(laughs) its not going to be like that.

Is it a romantic film?

Yes, it is a romantic film.