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POSTED BY Shefalee Vasudev ON Mar 10, 2010 AT 12:58 IST ,  Edited At: Mar 10, 2010 12:58 IST

Two days back at the Indigo restaurant in Lokhandwala, Mumbai, I happened to see actress Sridevi Kapoor. She was, presumably, with family and this seemed to be a completely private and casual dinner out.  I was just one of the many others seated at another table with a friend. The reason that I write this post is because I have been a fan of Sridevi’s stunning looks for more than 20 years. Her cinematic presence, her luscious glamour, her Indianness and voluptuous sex appeal that went from her first media nickname Thunder Thighs when she danced to Jumping Jack Jeetu's tunes in Himmatwalla to becoming a sophisticated Bollywood wife and muse of many a director and designer, was a journey I had watched over the years with fascination. My friends and I would often comment on the way she glowed after her marriage to producer-director Boney Kapoor. At film awards ceremonies where she is often called to hand over trophies, on Bollywood red carpets or the glimpses we get of her on the buoyant Page 3 till as as recently as Anil Ambani’s much publicized Bollywood party ten days back, she comes across as someone who understands how to handle the unfolding years and yet look glamorous and young without looking like a desperate aunty clinging to let go of her past.  

But day before was the first time that I saw her in person. My dream shattered. Had my friend not pointed out, I would have never guessed that this was Sridevi, that stunner, the idol of lakhs of Indian cinefans like me who were crazy for her dropdead appeal in Lamhe, Chandini and Mr India! This lady at the table across us looked scooped out, shrunken, with deep, dark circles under her eyes. She was clearly without the slightest trace of makeup. Those eyebrows that I always found wonderfully arched complimenting her expressive big eyes, looked flat. She has obviously lost enormous amounts of weight and her face looks small, her body waif like, her hair, without the intervention of a hairstylist was neither wavy nor straight. I was shocked. Not because she looked like any ordinary woman in a printed shirt tucked into smart blue jeans, having a quiet dinner but because I realized how I had created and hung on to (perhaps like many other fans), an image of hers in my mind that actually did her injustice. That lady who gives away film awards in lacy, sexy, chiffon saris and smiles that terrific smile is just a photograph in our heads, a creation of great makeup, and surely a lot of input on her part on how to present herself. No stylist, no makeup artist with his pots, pans and false eyelashes can give any woman or man a new identity unless that person herself does not know how what to do with the transformation.
I have worked with the fashion industry long enough to know the magic of makeup. Yet, Sridevi’s real looks left me deeply ponderous. No, she doesn’t look like a desperate aunty. Far from it. She looked composed and well-mannered. Plain and ordinary too. What could be wrong with that? I came away chiding myself for so vapidly judging her for her looks on screen and in photographs and for forgetting to be a fan of her talent. Most women in their late forties would look like her in any case. Dark circles are a function of age, they do not tell us about someone’s heart or mind or the fact that they have a life beyond makeup. Sridevi’s acting and dancing talent and the fact that she was one of the most popular performers of her time who would light up the screen does not change with the way she looks now without makeup. It is time people like me took off the rose tinted glasses through which we confuse made-up glamour with real presence.
Sridevi, I would still look out for you and clap when you walk the red carpet or give away the next trophy. But I will clap for who you are instead of mistakenly clapping only for what I realize now is terrific makeup.
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POSTED BY Shefalee Vasudev ON Mar 10, 2010 AT 12:58 IST, Edited At: Mar 10, 2010 12:58 IST
POSTED BY Sundeep Dougal ON Feb 21, 2010 AT 02:04 IST ,  Edited At: Feb 21, 2010 03:30 IST


All right, so this apparently is old now, as it went viral in December, but it came to my attention only last week since when I had been wanting to put it up here.

The five-year-old from Japan, dubbed “Ukulele Boy,” has close to 14.25 million hits on one page on YouTube. And this of course is not counting other posts and embeds all over. His version of Jason Mraz’s hit song, “I’m Yours” is clearly better than the original:

And there's some Beatles too:

As for what can be competition at close to 162 million and counting?

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POSTED BY Sundeep Dougal ON Feb 21, 2010 AT 02:04 IST, Edited At: Feb 21, 2010 03:30 IST
POSTED BY Sundeep Dougal ON Sep 26, 2009 AT 00:13 IST ,  Edited At: Oct 05, 2009 20:21 IST

MTV IGGY Interview.

"Anurag Kashyap is easily the most exciting filmmaker we have in the country at the moment"

On why his happiest experiences have been with first time filmmakers: "testicular fortitude"

Why he admires Shah Rukh Khan (career management, not the acting!)

why Irfan Khan is superior to the actors of his generation, and so much more.

"'Bollywood' was pejorative which used to run down our industry. It's a measure of our combined idiocy, that we have embraced the term"

Link courtesy Ajit Sanzgiri

Also See: Naseer: Not Enjoying Films Anymore


More parts of the interview:

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POSTED BY Sundeep Dougal ON Sep 26, 2009 AT 00:13 IST, Edited At: Oct 05, 2009 20:21 IST
POSTED BY Sundeep Dougal ON Mar 11, 2009 AT 03:08 IST ,  Edited At: Sep 26, 2009 16:56 IST

Thankfully, some things never change. Came across this recently. Naseer doesn't sound as bitter as he did in between, but is as frank and forthright as ever.

Inevitably, among other things, he's asked about Slumdog and says it was "a Cindrella story. The ethos were real.. the rest wasn’t. If they ever attempted a sequel to it and showed what happened to Jamal after he won, then that would be worth a watch," and speaks a bit about the Slumdog kids too.

It's the same irrepressible intelligence and sense of humour that shines through. Sample this: 

Q: Kamal Haasan is remaking A Wednesday in Tamil and will be playing your part.
NS: Okay, but why just mine? (Laughs) He should be playing all the parts.

Later found out that NDTV also had "the first couple of the first wave of new Indian cinema" -- Ratna Pathak Shah and Naseeruddin Shah -- on their Bombay Talkies recently. As usual, ended up catching it on the web. Definitely worth a watch. He may say he's not enjoying films anymore, which is a pity, but he does still seem to be enjoying himself.

Some of the interesting things:  Talking about the "new wave" of the 1970s films: "The problem with the 70s filmmakers was that they were making films on esoteric subjects that they did not know too much about".

The film-making, he says, just did not move on. It got stuck..."In 99% cases, their first film is their best," he says, and goes on to name Shyam [Benegal], Govind[Nihalini], Kundan [Shah], Ketan[Mehta], Saeed [Mirz], Sudhir[Mishra], Vinod [Vidhu Vinod Chopra in this category. 

And then he pauses to add as an afterthought: "OK, not Vinod. Vinod is yet to make a good film,” while wife Ratna Pathak Shah shushes him -- but agrees with him overall. The couple are delightful together. When asked what was Vidhu Vinod Chopra's first film, he laughs and announces theatrically, "Sazaa-e-maut," and adds that it should be the title of  [VVC's] autobiography as well.

But, ironically, after having declared that for most of these directors, their first film was their best, he says that the only films out of the whole lot of 1970s that he at all cares for -- "they are the only ones that would stand the test of time" -- are Manthan and Ardh Satya [both second films, of Shyam Benegal and Govind Nihalini respectively]

The interviewer, of course, did not pick on this, though Ratna Pathak Shah provided a perfect cue for it by adding that even Aditya Chopra did not make as good a film as Dilwale Dulhaniya...again but that of today's people she really is enthusiastic about Anurag [Kashyap] & Dibakar [Banerjee], both of whose second films are wonderful, she added ironically. I think she did mean the later films [unless she was talking about Black Friday for Anurag Kashyap] and that they have gone on to greater heights after their first film...

When asked to name his performances that are her favourites, she mentions Sparsh, Masoom, Monsoon Wedding, Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro, A Wednesday...and then adds, Bombay Boys which perhaps was his benefit as he agrees wholeheartedly. The couple are delightful together [She: 'Don't laugh at Tridev -- it ran our house for a long time']

Talking about Shyam Benegal, he say that even at the cost of hurting SB irreparably, he'd have to say that Manthan was SB's best film. And there is a very frank bit when he describes what happened between them: "I was a well-wisher till I was praising them. And...when I began criticising them, suddenly they said I was a traitor." Or words to that effect.

The biggest revelation for me was what he said about Khuda Ke Liye:  "the most significant film i have done in my life...With all its flaws, I'd call it a great movie and not only for its last bit."

It is at the very end of the programme when he starts talking about how the film "connected very deeply" with him as he was "brought up in an orthodox muslim ghousehold" where an old maulana taught him, "muslims must do this, must do that...Islam is the best religion..everybody else is headed for hell...the earth is flat...".

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POSTED BY Sundeep Dougal ON Mar 11, 2009 AT 03:08 IST, Edited At: Sep 26, 2009 16:56 IST
POSTED BY Sundeep Dougal ON Sep 24, 2009 AT 19:45 IST ,  Edited At: Sep 25, 2009 21:44 IST

M K Raghavendra in the EPW argues, as the article's intro puts it, that "celebration of social decay started with the film Satya, and Kaminey takes this to a new high altogether. Bringing out the idea of “social Darwinism”, where the fittest are defined by their degree of immorality, it depicts agents of the law as being completely detached from their role in its enforcement. What is even more striking is that the viewers are no longer disturbed by this; rather, they seem to take satisfaction in the fantasy of a crumbling social structure". Some of the bits from the article that caught my attention are worth quoting in full:

Urban criminals, until the mid-1990s, were not glamorous figures in Hindi popular cinema, and only people led astray (as in Deewar 1975) became criminals. The film that changed this was perhaps Ram Gopal Varma’s Satya (1999). Satya appeared “realistic” but had a discourse interpretable in the context of the economic liberalisation initiated by P V Narasimha Rao and Manmohan Singh in 1991-92, which also marked the end of Nehruvian socialism. Law enforcement has been treated in different ways by Hindi cinema but Satya was the first film to treat the police as though they were no different from a private agency, made stronger by their indifference to the law.

...There are key dissimilarities between Satya and Kaminey and the chief among these is that while in Satya there was still a world outside the underworld, in Kaminey the underworld is the world and it would appear that everyone is somehow implicated in criminality. There is a view promoted by the media that Vishal Bhardwaj is the Indian Quentin Tarantino because Tarantino is, likewise (Pulp Fiction, Kill Bill), preoccupied with criminals, violence and the underworld....

I found it particularly curious to note what makes someting "make believe" and "playful":

...Tarantino’s world is make-believe and he identifies no recognisable social groups in his stories. Entities like “The Deadly Viper Assassination Squad” in Kill Bill are essentially playful creations. Tarantino avoids subjects that might be taken to be socially pertinent (racism, for instance).3 Bhardwaj, in contrast, deals directly with recognisable socio-political issues.

...Where Pulp Fiction and Kill Bill deliberately disengage with social issues, Kaminey is culpable of treading a virtual minefield of them but using them only to further a fantasy, one about advancement in a milieu in which enterprise is completely unregulated.

And how the presence of "recognisable socio-political issues" in the film under question apparently makes it grotesque

in the way it exaggerates the prevailing situation. But instead of disturbing the spectators or causing them distress, the film is actually being enjoyed; there is apparently some strange kind of satisfaction in the fantasy of a crumbling social structure in which a person has only two options – either eat or be eaten

Imagine. Fo fhocking!

Read the full piece at the EPW: Social Dystopia or Entrepreneurial Fantasy

My first hurried response to this polemic is to say that rather than being a meaningful commentary on the film's viewers, it tells us something about the author of this piece for sure.  Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar -- or just a smoke. The author, instead, it seems is upset that we are not talking about a bidi.  Which is fair enough, I guess.  But, still and all, advocating total didactism in film-making is one thing; being so sweepingly condescending, so magisterially judgemental about its viewers quite another. 

Much more to say on this, but would love to hear from others first who have seen the film.

Also See:

PS: I would love to read the same author on something like Jaane Bhii Do Yaaro and will look out for his writings and the OUP book referenced in the article.

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POSTED BY Sundeep Dougal ON Sep 24, 2009 AT 19:45 IST, Edited At: Sep 25, 2009 21:44 IST
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