Fenil and Bollywood

Posts Tagged ‘washington

Posted on: December 18, 2009

Paresh Mokashi screened Harishchandrachi Factory at various American universities when he visited the country recently

By Subhash K Jha (MUMBAI MIRROR; December 18, 2009)

Last month, while Paresh Mokashi was in the US to check his film Harishchandrachi Factory’s prospects at the Oscars, he got a chance to screen the biopic on the father of Indian cinema, Dadasaheb Phalke, at the Smithsonian University in Washington, followed by another screening at the University Of Southern California.

“These two major screenings were followed by other smaller screenings in schools and universities. I was completely floored by the American curiosity about Dadasaheb Phalke,” says Mokashi.

Paresh Mokashi

Mokashi, who is happy with the response he is getting to his film, says, “The Americans had vaguely heard of the father of Indian cinema. But not many of them were familiar with our films. To my surprise, they responded to my Marathi film on Phalke without language barriers. They laughed at the right places, cried at the right places and held their peace when needed.”

But for the India release of Harishchandrachi Factory on January 22, Mokashi is gearing up for a dubbed Hindi version. He reveals, “I know the flavour of the dialogue will be lost in translation. But the important thing is to take the film to a wider audience. I’d rather have Phalke speak in Hindi than restrict his views to a Marathi-speaking audience.”

Mokashi refuses to see the Oscars as a reason to lobby. He denies having any interaction with the judges and says, “The process of selection for the nomination is done in utmost secrecy. I wasn’t supposed to meet any member of the Oscar committee or jury. I just submitted the film for their viewing and left.”

On the way back from Los Angeles, he stopped in London to submit Harishchandrachi Factory for the BAFTA (the British Academy Of Film & Television Arts) too. “Now I’ll go back only if I’m nominated for the Oscars or the BAFTA,” promises Mokashi.

Harishchandrachi Factory

Chidanand Rajghatta (THE TIMES OF INDIA; August 17, 2009)

Washington: Allegations that superstar Shah Rukh Khan was “detained” for two hours on account of his last name are incorrect, US customs and border protection officials said on Saturday, maintaining that the process of clearing him lasted a little more than an hour and even that delay was because his baggage had not arrived on the same flight he did.

In clarifications to the media aimed at giving their version of
the episode that has created a ruckus in India—and attracted wide coverage in the US—CBP officials gave the following sequence of events. After a preliminary check at the immigration counter, Khan was recommended for a secondary check in a separate room (for reasons the CBP would not specify). Because there were other people ahead of Khan in the room, this process took a little time and this was extended because the airline had failed to load his checked luggage on the same flight. Still, the whole process took a little more than an hour, officials said, maintaining that “CBP strives to treat all travellers with respect and in a professional manner, while maintaining the focus of our mission to protect all citizens and visitors in the US.’’ The New York Post quoted one official saying the process took 66 minutes.

Meanwhile, Khan reeled back
a little from his initial rage against the security process, telling a news agency, “I think it is a procedure that needs to be followed. But it is an unfortunate procedure.’’ In engagements in Atlantic City and Chicago over the weekend, he said he doesn’t feel like stepping on US soil, but the “love and affection of his fans’’ would keep bringing him back. The incident attracted plenty of media attention across the world. ‘’Wrath of Profiled Khan’’ the New York Post said, while the New York Times blogged on the incident under the headline ‘Questioning a Bollywood VIP’. The incident was also reported extensively in the Islamic world. ‘’Muslim name holds India Star at US airport,’’ Islam Online reported.


Chidanand Rajghatta | TNN (THE TIMES OF INDIA; August 17, 2009)

Washington: Shah Rukh (“because my name is’’) Khan might have gotten away lightly with a one-time, about 90-minute ordeal at a US airport on Friday. Imagine if his name had been Robert Johnson or Dean Nelson. Or Al Gore, or even worse, Edward Kennedy.

The former Vice-President and the iconic Senator are among scores of “VIPs’’ in the US, including entertainers and sports heroes, whose life has been made hellish by rulebound airport security and airline staff playing it strictly by the book.

Few cases illustrate the hide-bound super-empowerment of uniformed personnel in the US, before whom all are equal suspects unless determined otherwise, than Senator Kennedy, whose craggy, weather-beaten face is familiar to all Americans for half a century. Because a suspected terrorist has used his name as an alias, it was put on an airline watch-list, re
sulting in the Senator being repeatedly stopped from flying in 2004.

Washington: Senator Edward Kennedy was stopped from boarding a flight in the US five times in five weeks in 2004. Finally, he called the homeland security chief and related his ordeal at a hearing convened to discuss the subject. “He said, ‘We can’t give it to you,’’’ Kennedy said, describing an encounter with an airline agent, ‘You can’t buy a ticket to go on the airline to Boston.’ I said, ‘Well, why not?’ He said, ‘We can’t tell you.’’’

Kennedy said he then tried to get on a plane back to Washington, but the agent denied him that too. “I went up to the desk and said, ‘I’ve been getting on this plane for 42 years. Why can’t I get on the plane?’’’ he recalled, amid peals of laughter from his colleagues. After the homeland chief apologized, it happened a sixth time.

Al Gore found that nearly be
ing elected US President isn’t
enough to get him the VIP treatment at airports. Some months ago, an airline agent who helped him circumvent the security check at Nashville airport (in his home state Tennessee) was hauled up, and the former Vice-President hauled back to go through security. The only stories in the media was how Gore did so uncomplainingly.
Such incidents are routine in a country where there is very little VIP culture; if anything, VIPs are singled out for special attention to see if they are in the breach, in which case, the law enforcement guys get their 15-minutes of fame.

The same day SRK was held up, rock star Bob Dylan was stopped while loitering in a
New Jersey suburb by two young cops who had no idea who he was. When he could not produce an identity, he was taken back to his hosts to prove his bona fides. In Baltimore, Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps was involved in a road accident the same night. Although Phelps had had a beer before driving, he was within the prescribed limits; but the cops found that he was driving with an expired out-of-state licence, which has now resulted in court summons. Even worse is the plight of anyone named Robert Johnson and Dean Nelson. The two names are on a no-fly watchlist as suspected terrorists have used the names. CBS 60 Minutes once interviewed 12 men named Robert Johnson who all related their ordeal each time they flew. They may be happy to settle for Khan as their last name. TNN

Govt to take up case with US
The government said SRK’s ‘detention’ was “offensive” and unacceptable. “We will take up the issue with the US government strongly. Such incidents involving Indians due to their religion or nationality should not happen… we will not accept it,” minister Praful Patel said. In Tweeter, junior foreign minister Shashi Tharoor said, “We all found it offensive.”


Feels He Was Singled Out For His Surname

Chidanand Rajghatta & Bharati Dubey | TNN (THE TIMES OF INDIA; August 16, 2009)

Washington/Mumbai: “My name is Khan.’’ “Oh it is, is it? Step aside please.’’

The way it was related, that might well have been the opening exchange between Shah Rukh Khan and an unnamed, uniformed, superempowered US immigration official who had no idea (and didn’t care) that the man in front of him was the star of a film by the same name (My Name Is Khan), much less that he was a universal Bollywood icon.

SRK was asked to step aside for a ‘secondary inspection’ at Newark airport near New York in the early hours of Saturday (India time)—en route to an event to celebrate India’s Independence Day in Chicago—after his name “flashed on the computer screen”.

“I told them I was a movie star who had recently visited the US to shoot my film, and that I was here to attend an event,’’ Khan told TOI. “But nothing seemed to convince the immigration officer. Other officers
and the Jet Airways staff vouched for me but this particular officer did not listen to anyone.’’ Evidently, even the fans seeking Khan’s autograph made no impression on the officer.

His hand baggage was inspected and he was taken to a room “with about 20 people” where he was questioned for almost two hours—about the purpose of his visit, the names and phone numbers of the event organisers, why he was carrying “so much cash” ($1500), which films he had acted in, why his checked-in baggage had not arrived (it hadn’t been loaded in Lon
don and was to follow in six hours) and other, in his opinion, irrelevant questions.

It is not clear why Khan, who is a frequent visitor to the US and has a work permit, was subjected to a secondary inspection. The actor surmises that it was because of his last name; in other words, his Muslim identity. He was denied the use of his cell phone for an hour (which isn’t unusual; visitors cannot use mobile phones before clearing immigration) and was finally allowed to make just one phone call under the rules.

SRK, who said he felt “angry and
humiliated’’ by the experience, made a call to Congress MP Rajiv Shukla as soon as he got his phone back. Shukla, in turn, spoke to the Indian consulate and the American authorities, paving the way for Khan’s exit. “I can understand the American anxiety—this isn’t the first time I have been stopped at an American airport, but it is traumatic to not be allowed to even make a call,’’ Khan told TOI. “Thank God my kids weren’t there with me.’’

Indian and US officials rushed into damage control mode after word came in that the actor had been ‘detained’. External affairs ministry spokesman Vishnu Prakash said the matter had been taken up with the US embassy. Timothy Roemer, the new US ambassador in New Delhi, said he was trying to ascertain what exactly had happened at the airport. “Shah Rukh Khan is a global icon whose films are much loved even by
Americans and he is always welcome in the US,’’ he said. But Khan, from all accounts, doesn’t feel so welcome and says he will review his plans to visit the US again.

It is not the first time an Indian entertainer with a Muslim identity has been asked to step aside for additional scrutiny.


Following article appeared on Bombay Times on July 30, 2008 which states Paulomi’s version:

Jewellery designer Paulomi Sanghvi, who is in Washington at the moment, says she barely knows John Abraham, who she was linked with recently. “I’ve known him socially, just like I know so many others in Bollywood,” says the rather attractive designer. “However, to insinuate that John and I get along like a house on fire is ridiculous,” she clarifies. Paulomi who is best friends with Laila Khan says she has been travelling for a while now and she may have overlooked the piece of news linking her with the New York actor; had it not been for the fact that he is in a steady relationship and she thinks it is extremely frivolous and harmful to even suggest that she has anything to do with him. “I don’t even know John well enough to call and speak to him about this piece of news that appeared. John and I are barely acquainted.” she says.

TROUBLED: Paulomi Sanghvi and (inset) John Abraham
Ironically, Kabir Khan, who had just delivered a hit on terrorism, reveals that he was targeted for being a ‘Khan’ in the passport office recently
By Subhash K Jha (MUMBAI MIRROR; July 06, 2009)

Kabir Khan and Mini Mathur

Kabir Khan may have just delivered a thought-provoking hit, New York, on terrorism, but that doesn’t guarantee him from becoming the target of bigotry. The name ‘Khan’ carries much baggage with it, as he discovered recently when he went to the passport office. He had wanted to join his wife Mini Mathur in Malaysia for a holiday.

“How could a Khan be married to a Mathur?” they asked Kabir at the passport office. The director says, “It’s hard to believe that in this day and age, I am asked why my wife’s name is Mathur, when mine is Khan. Mini’s anchoring a reality show in the Malaysian jungles and I wanted to join her. But at the passport office they say, ‘How can your wife have a different name and that too from another community?’ I’m used to it. But it’s still shocking to know that such a mindset exists in supposedly cosmopolitan Mumbai.”

Though Khan managed to get his work done, it left him in an introspective mood. “On a subjective level, I don’t mind the questions. They don’t take away from my identity. Even today we get invitations for ‘Mr & Mrs Mini Mathur’. I don’t mind being known as Kabir Mathur. But the point is that I’m questioned for being a ‘Khan’, and that’s not easy to live with,” he muses.

Kabir feels the ‘Khan’ name does create travel problems for him. “But I honestly think a part of the global fear is justified. We can’t blame people for being paranoid after what has happened.”

For the first time, Kabir reveals the trauma he faced in the US after 9/11. The naked horror seen in New York of being incarcerated and tortured for being a terrorist suspect was not engendered by news reports alone.

Recalls Kabir, “I was accompanying my wife to the US with the Morani brothers. We were flying from LA to Washington just 15 days after 9/11. So the fear and paranoia was not unjustified. We were waiting for take off and talking to each other in Hindi when some passengers complained that we were talking in a ‘strange’ language. Within no time, two burly FBI agents came on board and took me and my co-passengers to the front of the plane. When they learnt my name, they questioned me for over two hours, googled my name for terrorist links and then finally allowed me to fly. They asked me if I had been to Pakistan. I said ‘no’. If I had told them I had been to Afganistan, they’d have freaked out.”

But the story didn’t end there. He says, “Two other passengers on board refused to fly with us. So they were asked to deplane, the logic being that if my name was cleared, by no means could I be prevented from traveling. So you see, post-9/11, persecution comes with its inbuilt safety measures.”