Fenil and Bollywood

Posts Tagged ‘Oscar

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

…after ten years with a woman-centric film that stars Vidya Balan in the lead

By Subhash K Jha (MUMBAI MIRROR; December 30, 2009)

Noted lyricist-filmmaker Gulzar’s last offering as a director was Hu Tu Tu (1999), starring Tabu and Sunil Shetty. Since then, friends and family, especially his daughter Meghna have been urging him to return to direction. However, no idea seemed to inspire him enough to make that effort.

Vidya Balan

That is until now. Gulzar is set to direct a film in 2010. The film’s subject will be women-centric like his earlier films and will star Vidya Balan.

Without divulging details, Gulzar says, “My next film will star Vidya for sure. I saw portions of Ishqiya and she is truly an outstanding actress.

The fact that Gulzar’s daughter Meghna and Vidya are close friends only enhances the director’s fondness for the actress. “I have known Vidya from the time she used to drop in with Pradeep Sarkar during Parineeta. She is a lovely girl. Do you know, when an Oscar was announced for Jai Ho, Vidya came home and gave me a trophy? Yes, an actual trophy! I am happy to see her friendship with my daughter.

In Vidya, my daughter has found a soul mate. It’s very rare to see two people in the film industry reaching out to one another without ulterior motives. Vidya visits Meghna more than me. In fact, my daughter’s next also stars her. So both father and daughter are working with her,” adds the filmmaker. Apparently, Meghna’s next is a hard-hitting, marital drama.

From (L): Meghna Gulzar, Gulzar

As for Gulzar, Vidya has made a promise to herself. “I will keep sending him notes to start his film with me. I still remember that one shot in Parichay where the song Beeti na beetayi raina is going on and Jaya Bhaduriji is pleating her hair. That moment has stayed with me. No one captures everyday moments with such tenderness. I will do anything to work with Gulzarsaab. To me there are three people who are the epitome of culture and grace – M S Subbalaxmiji, Waheeda Rehmanji and Gulzarsaab.”

Oscar award winner Resul Pookutty’s office was destroyed by a fire yesterday afternoon

By Mumbai Mirror Bureau (December 25, 2009)

An inferno destroyed Resul Pookutty’s office, which is on the fifth floor of Dilkap Chambers at Veera Desai road in Andheri. Although there weren’t any casualties or injuries, the fire charred almost all equipment and property.

According to the staff members, who were on the premises, the fire broke out at around 2 pm on the second floor. Deputy Chief Fire officer Atmaram Shinde, said, “The blaze started from Oval Village Film Private Ltd.’s office which is on the second floor of the ground plus seven storied building.” There weren’t any injuries as the office was shut for the day. The fire then spread through the building and charred Resul’s office, which is on the fifth floor.

The fire was so intense that four fire engines and three water tankers had to be called in. The workers said that the fire brigade reached the location two hours after the fire broke out. Deputy Chief Fire officer, Ramesh Kholkhumbe denied this and said, “We received a message at around three in the afternoon at Andheri fire station. There were around 70 to 80 people on the second floor. They were evacuated without any injuries. We are still investigating the reason for the fire.”

According to fire officers, some problems were encountered in putting out the blaze due to the ventilation system.

Resul Pookutty
(Pics: Nilesh Wairkar)
Media screening of Marathi film Harishchandrachi Factory goes haywire at the NCPA yesterday evening

By Abhijit Sathe (MUMBAI MIRROR; November 17, 2009)


Harishchandrachi Factory



Vijaya Mehta

The screening of the much-talked about Oscar-nominated Harishchandrachi Factory at the Marathi Film Festival went for a toss at the National Centre for Performing Arts (NCPA) yesterday evening.

A huge crowd had gathered outside NCPA as a media interaction was scheduled for 6pm, followed by the screening of the film at 6.30pm. But the event did not happen as scheduled. There was a lot of unexplained chaos and confusion about the event. Finally, when the film started at 7pm, half the people from the media were not allowed inside the auditorium to watch the film.

Although it was noticed that at least two rows were empty and reserved, no one was seated there. When the media persons asked about why the seats were empty, filmmaker and director, NCPA, Vijaya Mehta had no answer.

Finally, they had to arrange for another screening to accommodate the crowd waiting outside NCPA. However, the second screening took two hours to begin and by then the chaos and confusion had already dimmed their spirits.

By Minty Tejpal (MUMBAI MIRROR; October 24, 2009)

Harishchandrachi Factory, the Marathi feature film that is India’s nomination for the next Oscar awards, is a delightful little gem of a movie, which seems to have emerged against all odds. The period film is directed by a new writer-director, it has no stars, an obviously tight budget with zero frills, but it does have a powerful story told with a spirit, exuberant enough to make it a winner, regardless of whether the foreign experts judge it so or not. The only bad news, if that is, the film is only going to release in India next year, so that’s a pity. However, as my mummy said, good things in life are worth waiting for.

As you may be aware, Harishchandrachi Factory is the inspired story of the pioneering Dadasaheb Phalke, who made India’s first ever motion picture, and is thus considered the father of Indian cinema- Bollywood ka baap. The story starts in the year 1911, a distant time when another Raj was still ruling India, and Mumbai was yet called Bombay, whether the new Raj likes it or not. We meet the quirky Dundiraj Govind Phalke, a middle aged father of two boys, who is jobless after abruptly stopping his printing press business following a quarrel with his partner. He has since dabbled in various failed jobs, and right now he is playing a corny magician to a bunch of school kids, using his elder son as part of the act. A magician with a stage name of Kelpha, the reverse of Phalke! Absolutely delightful.

One day, Phalke stumbles onto a roadside tent displaying a new attraction. Curious, he goes inside to check – and ends up seeing a moving picture being transmitted on a white curtain. Like the rest of the small audience, he is absolutely transfixed by the seeming magic. Remember, it’s an era when cinema was yet unheard of, while common people were scared to even pose for a still photograph, since a camera was rumored to steal one’s very soul. Undeterred, Phalke decides to make his very own movie. Doubted by his friends and brother, but ably supported by his strong wife, Phalke proceeds on his quixotic journey to make India’s first motion picture. In the bargain he sells his belongings, recruits his friends and family as cast and crew, even travels to London to learn the craft and finally returns to direct his movie titled, Harishchandra.

The film is full of unique special moments and each of the ensemble cast, specially the wife (Vibhavari) and two kids do an absolutely stellar job. Paresh Mokashi follows the Bicycle Thief style of minimal storytelling and uses simple elements to create a period feel. This is no lavish costume period drama, but instead a story smartly told with minimal props, like a tramcar, horse buggy along with superb music (Anand Modak) which really sets the early 1900s mood. Harishchandrachi Factory also has a very strong touch of Chaplinesque humor, specially the dialogueless montage sequences. But where the director triumphs, is in keeping the tone of the film light and breezy, from dialogue to performances. There is no moralising or great vision to be seen, and instead the film is treated like a mad journey.

The very character of Phalke, superbly played by actor Nandu Madhav, has a charming, child like curiosity, and doesn’t even seem to take himself seriously. Purists may disagree with this oddball depiction of Phalke, but it sure makes for great cinema. After a few years of controversial Oscar nominations from India, finally, here is a film that no one should argue with. Hopefully.

Loveleen Tandan makes it to the prestigious Women’s Impact Report of Variety magazine; invited to meet Queen Elizabeth at the Buckingham Palace on October 13

By Subhash K Jha (MUMBAI MIRROR; October 01, 2009)

Loveleen Tandan, co-director of Oscar-winning film Slumdog Millionaire has made it to the super-prestigious Women’s Impact Report 2009 of Variety magazine. The report lists 50 women, who, in the words of Variety, “experienced an extraordinary year”.

Loveleen didn’t even know about the honour until she got a midnight call from Anil Kapoor in Los Angeles. Loveleen says, “Anil asked me if I had seen it. I asked, seen what? He then told me I’m on the cover of Variety magazine as an achiever of the year. He said he had bought two copies and was mailing me one. That was sweet of him.”

Interestingly, this achiever’s name occurs in the ‘Below The Liners’ section of Variety’s achievers where she features with fashion designers Catherine Marie Thomas and Janie Bryant. “I think it’s a category that celebrates women who have crossed over from one field to another, like I did from casting director to co-director in Slumdog Millionaire,” adds Loveleen.

While Loveleen will not attend the Variety awards ceremony in LA today due to personal reasons, she will not miss the chance to go to the Buckingham Palace where she has been invited. “I’ve been invited by Queen Elizabeth and the Duke to the Buckingham Palace on October 13. I wouldn’t miss that appointment for the world, but there’s a problem. My younger sister Amita is getting married on October 14 so I didn’t want to go to London on October 13. But, my sister didn’t want me to give it a miss as she feels it’s an once-in-a-lifetime honour. So I will be going to Buckingham Palace on October 13 and rushing back to Delhi just in time for her wedding on October 14,” she says.

Meanwhile, Loveleen has almost finished the script for her first directorial venture. “Of course, it has strong women characters but my film also has a lot of powerful men,” says Loveleen.

By Joginder Tuteja, September 30, 2009 – 12:26 IST

Rubina Ali ‘Slumgirl Dreaming’ is a very well written book. And for a celebrity, who is just a 9 year old, this book could perhaps be the first to come out in India. The girl in question is Rubina Ali, one of the many stars in Slumdog Millionaire who hasn’t quite enjoyed a fairy tale outing. From a poor life in slum to international adulation to charges being put against her father for selling her off to being back in a shanty and barely surviving, Rubina has lived a life which doesn’t quite justify a Cindrella reference.

Yes, she has enjoyed her months of glory but before and after that, this star has lived a slumgirl life that has seen dreams coming her way, though momentarily. ‘Slumgirl Dreaming’ gives a blow by blow account of this spirited girl who narrates her journey over the years, especially her experience of shooting for the film, the film’s Oscar run and life post that.

What actually works a masterstroke for this autobiographical tale is the coming together of writers Anne Berthod and Divya Dugar who interact with Rubina to translate her thought and statements into the printed words. They do well in sticking to Rubina’s innocence and childish antics and tell the world from her point of view rather than bringing to fore what they thought of her as a kid who became a star. So the entire narration of this 175 page book happens with Rubina telling her story and writers merely presenting it to the readers by refining it and smoothening the rough edges.

Anne and Divya do add their bit while keeping the essence of Rubina’s world intact. So while bringing to fore the kid’s point of view, they also get into finer details about the slums, the inhabitants there, the shooting experience, the coming together of an international crew, the wide eyed reactions of all the slum kids who were a part of the shoot, the five star hospitality, the return to India, the adulation, media pressure, a change in outlook of people and finally a regular day in the life of Rubina after coming face to face with the world pre-Slumdog Millionaire.

The thoughts remain intact; it’s just that the emotions are projected clearly to make a connection with the reader.

It is this connection factor that makes ‘Slumgirl Dreaming’a difficult book to keep down. 10 pages into this really handy and comfortable book and you want it finish it in two hours flat. One of the major reasons for this is the simplistic writing which would make even a 10 year old connect with the chapters that follow. In fact the book’s target audience is, as the cliché goes, from 6 to 60, as the story moves ahead in a highly engaging manner with just about everything for everyone.

The book aims (and pretty much succeeds) in ‘not’ romanticizing the episodes in Rubina’s life, whether good, bad or ecstatic. Picture this: When the pages take viewer into the filthy surroundings of a slum, you cringe in your seat, get a bad taste in the mouth but still do not get turned away from checking what is in store next. Credit must go to Rubina here who doesn’t paint a sorry picture of herself and plain and simple explains what this world means to her ever since she was born.

On the other hand, the moments of ecstasy too are kept under the control. Whether it is Rubina’s shooting experience or the Oscar celebrations or the luxurious life that she enjoyed for those few days after the ceremony, you know that it is all going to end soon. Even Rubina is shown to be pretty much in check without allowing her emotions go overboard. It is this fair balance that ‘Slumgirl Dreaming’ maintains throughout its journey which helps in the entire ‘connection’ factor, as highlighted earlier.

Some of the many highlights in the book are:

– What had actually transpired when stories about Rubina’s father willing to sell her off to a Sheikh were making the rounds
– Rubina’s love-hate relationship with another slumkid Azhar
– A middle man cheating her of the money that she was promised for Slumdog Millionaire
– The first audition that just required her to run around the room along with other children
– Her fear for the much famous train scene that actually got canned in a single take
– The actual story behind her real mother coming back to take her custody post Slumdog Millionaire fame

One time and again complains that there are no books worthy enough being written for children today. Well, ‘Slumgirl Dreaming’ could pretty much be a gift for your young ones. And for the elderly who want to explore deeper into the past of Rubina and how she has managed to keep a stable head in spite of a roller coaster ride in the couple of years gone by, ‘Slumgirl Dreaming’ has enough meat in it to grab your attention.

Price: Rs. 195/=