Faridoon Shahryar's Blog

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Madhuri, Parineeti To Receive Rajiv Gandhi Award

Madhuri Dixit and Parineeti Chopra will be receiving Rashtriya Rajiv Gandhi Award in Bombay tomorrow June 1, 2012. Ranbir Kapoor, Shahid Kapoor and Priyanka Chopra will address the media tomorrow with regards to performances at IIFA Singapore.

Monday, May 28, 2012

SRK-Ajay Devgn In Rohit Shetty's Film With Karan Johar?

Rohit Shetty is unfazed by the superb response of Bol Bachchan promo. In an interview today, he spoke about the film in detail. He spoke about his team, his writers Sajid-Farhad and Yunus Sajawala, Himesh Reshammiya and Ajay Atul's music (there are four songs in the album, three in the film) etc. Rohit is excited about the title track of the film where Mr Bachchan has both sung and performed despite illness. Rohit glowingly spoke about Neeraj Vohra (he wrote the dialogues in Shetty's Golmaal) whom he rates very highly as an actor. He also had good things to say about Govinda's nephew Krishna who is playing an important role in Bol Bachchan.

Rohit said that the shooting of Chennai Express will start in October 2012. Does it star Deepika Padukone opposite Shahrukh? The script of Chennai Express has been locked. There will be several actors from the Tamil film industry in the film. What about Angoor Remake? "Not now, maybe after four five years."

Rohit will be making an action film with Ajay Devgn which may be the sequel of Singham. As for the film with Karan Johar, there's no story in place yet and the rumours of casting Shahrukh and Ajay are false.

Sent from my iPad

"My Job Is To Make Superhit Films": Rohit Shetty

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Feedback on Talking Films With Ram Gopal Varma

I get a lot of feedback for my work but this email from Lisa Sunkara is special. Thanks Lisa. 

Subject: Talking films with RGV feedback

Hi Faridoon:   Every time I watch u interview celebrities, I notice 2 things, 1. you are the most unbiased interviewer in the Indian journo space. 2. why do you waste your time on celebrities and why not work for a cause. But, guess what, I live far away here in the states, I try to catch up with politics in India and boy it's a mess. so, may be you feel the same too and stay away from it. One more thing, no matter how unbiased you are u sure have a teaser smile while asking Qs and it's a killer. Love to watch u as much as I love to watch ur guests.   OK, coming to u guests,  Ramu(RGV) is my favorite. The 2 of you makeup a good screen:-). I am a mother of 2 caught up in a busy life and some times when my brain cells jamup (which happens very often) I go online and pull up a video of Ramu's interviews. I am an Analyst by profession and unknowingly and deeply analyse anything that comes my way, especially Ramu. I feel like He is made of a very different material than all the rest of us. He truly really answers the Question being asked. Thing is we are soo used to celebrates running around the bush and not answering the asked question, we misunderstand his straight answers. Every time I watch him speak, I feel a sense of comfort and confidence in myself. Live life to live life the way u want to live, is the scense I get from him.   Keep talking to him...:-))   Thanks:-) LSunkara

Saturday, May 26, 2012

What Was Waheeda Rahman's First Reaction To Guru Dutt's Suicide?

Waheeda Rahman makes a candid admission in an interview in the original screenplay of Abrar Alvi's Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam where she says that Guru Dutt was miscast in the role of Bhoothnath. Wonder if Shashi Kapoor regrets not playing Bhoothnath in one of the iconic films of the Indian film industry...

The screenplay has been neatly compiled by Dinesh Raheja and Jitendra Kothari in Devnagri script with their English translations but what is more commendable are the interviews with 88 year old Dada Sahab Phalke award winning cinematographer V K Murthy, Waheeda Rahman, Saqiya aaj mujhe neend nahin ayegi dancer Minoo Mumtaz, and Guru Dutt's trusted aide Shyam Kapoor.

In a deleted scene of the film one can see Meena Kumari resting her head in Guru Dutt's lap thus dispelling speculation that Chhoti Bahu and Bhoothnath must have shared aspirations of more than a platonic friendship.

V K Murthy and Waheeda Rahman had pre-empted Guru Dutt's death as he had attempted suicide twice before. Shyam Kapoor feels that Dutt's death could also have been due to a heart attack. Guru Dutt gave freedom to writer director Abrar Alvi but Bhanwra bada nadaan hai was picturised by Dutt himself.

If reading about the making of old classic fascinates you, then the screenplay of sahib Biwi aur ghulam will intrigue you immensely. There's a DVD of the film as an added bonus. Star rating 4 stars.

Sent from my iPad

Thursday, May 24, 2012

RGV Blasts Sanjay Dutt And Critics Who Innovatively Screw A Film

Faridoon Shahryar (FS): "If 'Ram Gopal Varma Ki Aag' was an X-Ray of RGV's brain, 'Department' is an MRI scan of all his soft tissues — brain, heart and other vital parts. We can clearly see which ones are functioning and which ones have atrophied!" This review then ends with "Yet, Department is important because it is the story from a genius in decay." We have with us Ram Gopal Varma once again. Pleasure having you back! How do you react to this particularly review and also the other reviews, most of them which are not been very positive for the film?

Ram Gopal Varma (RGV): Everyone has a right to an opinion. Not only for my films, but reviewers are more creative than actual filmmakers because they'll find the most innovative ways of scr*wing your film, in terms of what is bad or what they feel about it. Reviewing is a different art form. We are in a democratic country and everyone has a right and means, especially in times of Twitter and also the media network which is so popular. Now if you are asking me for a reaction about the review, then I could say that it is an opinion that someone has expressed. And I gave the reasons during the course of discussion post the release of the film. Then it's the question of whether the people chose to believe it or not. I said what I had to say. So, I don't think there's anything more to say as far as why the film is the way it is.

FS: But Mr Varma, at the same time, you understand box office and you have had big hits as well. Hence, there will be expectations from you. The general opinion is that why is Mr Varma not realizing that there are certain things that he's not doing right. For instance, the 'Rogue Methodology' that you devised has failed. It has not been appreciated and one critic has said that 'film mein ek bhi single frame still nahi tha'!

RGV: Just became I came up with 'rogue methodology', people started seeing it in that point of view. Rogue methodology is eventually using of multiple camera setups, which is in vogue worldwide. I didn't invent it. Now there are certain things where there are certain rapid panning and even jerky movements and effects from a perspective which have not been seen before and it was deliberately done to use it in a certain way. I don't think there are more than 8 to 10 such shots in the film. But people are not looking beyond a couple of montages in the beginning and these 8 to 10 shots in a 2 hour 20 minutes film. Also, I don't think if anyone understood what 'rogue methodology' is all about. In addition to using multiple cameras, there's a change in tone which I could have done even with a conventional camera. Yes, people didn't receive it well and I said in my earlier interview as well that when 'Natural Born Killers' was made, people reacted very well and it's reviews were as bad as of 'Department'. But later on, it was called a 'cult film'! However, at this point of time I can't say whether 'Department' will be termed as 'cult'. But it's the content being liked or not liked is different from response to 'rogue methodology'. And the manner in which 'Department' review are written, it should be the first film in the history of Indian Cinema where the technique was criticized the most!

FS: Many a times, critics have a group of their own and they write for 50-60 people. However, even the common man has rejected the film. Somwhere at the level of story and concept, the film didn't work. Your films have worked tremendously in the past, be it 'Rangeela', 'Satya', 'Company' or 'Bhoot'. Even 'Department' has punches and there are interesting moments in the first half, as far as Mr Amitabh Bachchan is concerned which really brings in the audience. I saw it with the audience and I could relate to it. So in that context, the film has its plusses but otherwise, the story is not working…

RGV: Absolutely! It's not about blaming someone but as a director, I need to put out as to what behind the scenes. It's not the first time that my film has not been liked. In the 22 years of my career, I have never ever blamed anyone outside, except myself, for any film that I have done. And this includes 'Aag'.

FS: So you accept the blame for this movie?

RGV: No!

FS: Why?

RGV: Halfway through, I was made to change the script and using various coercive forces, because of which I lost objectivity. Anybody who saw 'Department', their first criticism is that 'it doesn't look like a RGV film'. Even my bad film will have my stamp. Nothing in 'Department' looks like I have made it, in terms of sensibility and dealing with cops and gangsters. So I had a terrible experience and the mistake I made was basically to take Sanjay Dutt into the film. From then onwards, once the film started, things went haywire halfway through and I lost interest in the film.

FS: Sanjay Dutt meanwhile says that doesn't want to even shake hands with you.

RGV: Fine! I'll be very very happy and I don't want to see his face. Not only me but anybody will be mad to do anything with Sanjay Dutt. My point is that there are many films that have not worked at the box office. But nobody would have ever heard me blaming someone for the film. This is the first time I have done.

FS: You have said that Kangna Ranaut was removed at the behest of Sanjay Dutt and his manager Dharam Uberoi had a lot of role to play as well. There were rumours prior to the film's release that all is not well between you and Sanjay Dutt. But at that time, you had refuted the rumours…

RGV: If I am the helm of affairs being in the position of the so-called director, I think it's not ethical on my side or those involved with the picture like the investors, distributors and Viacom since they are my responsibility. So I can't speak negatively about the film as to what is happening behind the scenes.

FS: You're also not happy with Abhishek Bachchan because he asked you to sign Sanjay Dutt…

RGV: I said that just for fun. It's not news that Sanjay Dutt is like this. A lot of people are aware and a lot of films have suffered as a result. But against better judgement, when Abhishek suggested that we should take Sanjay Dutt for that particular role, I could get carried away. And after that Abhishek couldn't do the film and I was left with Sanjay Dutt.

FS: Dharam Uberoi has had issues with the 5D Cameras. In fact, there's a joke going around that Dutt is upset with RGV because he showed him angles and angles showed him his paunch as well, something which is not flattering for any actor!

RGV: Why would a camera cover what is there in a person? It will eventually record what is in front of it. The camera cannot change. What you can do is use CG to change it, probably to tone down the body down and all that. Also, this is not a film that will highlight the glamour of a person. I can understand that anybody will be concerned with the use of new technology. Even Rana and Mr Bachchan had their concerns. At the end of the day, I am not the first guy to use such type of cameras with such type of a resolution. The cameras are in use since 2 to 3 years and have been widely used even in Slumdog Millionaire which is an Oscar winning film. So cinematography is different from the use of rapid movements that I have done. The reviews have mentioned that it created dizziness!

FS: You have a complete disregard for the convention…

RGV: No, that is the wrong word to use!

FS: I'll give you one more example. As far as dubbing of the film is concerned, in the second half, when Mr Bachchan and Rana are having conversation among themselves, the dubbing is in sync sound. Now it looks a bit odd as compared to what it was in the earlier scene…

RGV: This happened because Mr Bachchan was not well at that point of time. And yet, with great difficulty, he managed to dub. In that particular scene, there was lot of spontaneous laughter which would have been difficult for him to recreate during the dubbing. It would have led to a lot of stress on what he was feeling at that point of time. That's why we took the decision to let it go as it is.

FS: People are also asking that what was the need to focus on the swaying hips of Madhu Shalini? People were in fact laughing on that scene. Her character has received quite criticism, especially the way she says 'Baby' and her interaction with Abhimanyu Singh…

RGV: All the characters were created with a certain graphic comic book tone which is also an asset. And it's not like the other filmmakers are not showing a woman. It's her sensuality and her relationship with DK which has a certain sexual undertone which of course the camera will highlight at that point.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Abhay Deol Blasts 'Irresponsible' Journalism

Faridoon Shahryar (FS): We have with us, once again, one of the finest actors that we have – Abhay Deol – whose next film 'Shanghai' is releasing shortly. The theatrical trailer has been released and it has got a superb response on Bollywood Hungama. Pleasure having you back on Bollywood Hungama!

Abhay Deol (AD): Thank you!

FS: You have experimented with your look once again. Is it a risk donning this kind of a look in a film like 'Shanghai' especially after 'Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara' which is a big hit?

AD: 'Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara' had me as a very young, urban and the kind of guy who has a good time and has girls after him. He's handsome; he's charming blah blah blah. And then I had 'Shanghai', where my character is 10-12 years older than the character I played in 'Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara'. He's an IAS officer, Tamil, religious, married, egoistical…not the kind of guy you would like and definitely not the guy you would imagine who has a good time and have women running after him. I was happy I got to go so drastically different from my look in 'Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara' and background simply because it then enabled me to keep the audience guessing as to what my next film would be about and what kind of a character I would portray. So I never had any doubt in my mind. In fact, I was thankful that I got it.

FS: Does your character, TA Krishnan, have an ambition that India should take over China one day?

AD: He's an IAS office and very patriotic. He believes that the day our GDP matches that of China and goes beyond it is the day we would progress as a nation.

FS: Tell us about the experience of shooting in the grueling heat in the middle of India, especially after Spain?

AD: My shoot days were the easiest compared to what Emraan (Hashmi) and Kalki (Koechlin) had to do simply because all my scenes are with my boss played by Farooq Sheikh and it was lot of interior work. Whereas what Emraan and Kalki had to do was to be out there. In parts of the movie where there's a curfew or there's episodes of violence were the tougher days for the unit. Whenever my portions were to be done, everybody in the crew would behave as if they were on a vacation and would be like 'We've got the Krishnan portions to do'!

FS: As far as Dibakar Banerjee is concerned, all his 3 films be it 'Khosla Ka Ghosla', 'Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye' and 'Love Sex Aur Dhokha' were unconventional and what some would say that it supports parallel movement but at the same time have been commercially successful as well. Even in 'Shanghai' he has incorporated the music smartly and also has an item song. In that context, how important do you think is merging the commercial aspects into a movie which has a certain statement to make?

AD: A commercial film isn't good just because it sticks to a formula. An offbeat film isn't good just because it's not stuck to the formula. It could very well be a very bad film. Dibakar has the ability to merge content and entertainment together and then make a movie.

FS: In hindsight, do you feel that the entire controversy of you having differences with Emraan and Dibakar was needless or was there any truth to it?

AD: The controversies happened because there was a journalist who chose to make them up. When I spoke to the paper, I said that 'the PR of the film is doing it (creating controversies)'. The journalist then called up Dibakar and said 'No no no! It was not the PR. It was me because I thought the film would get some publicity'! So unfortunately we live in times where people don't have any creativity. And it's so easy to get eyeballs because you're scandalous. It takes a little effort to be creative and to get people interested. And in this case particularly, there was this one journalist who's known to be that way and because I have never replied to his mails and been friendly to him, he chose to take it out in the papers. I've actually been told by journalists if I say anything against an actor, director or producer, they'll publish it but if I speak against a journalist, they would not print that! So it's a bit hypocritical and in fact, PVR even came up with a statement saying that it was the PR but a journalist, who's trying to make needless controversies. And the papers said that 'we agree with you and we know that this journalist makes up stuff. But we printed those articles and hence we can't put this in our papers'!

FS: Dibakar stated that he sensed tension between you and Emraan…

AD: Dibakar never said that!

FS: Maybe it was misquoted…

AD: Might be but he never said so. Sense tension as in personally?

FS: I can show you the story in fact!

AD: Well I have read stories where Dibakar has said that Abhay wants to dub because he's a perfectionist and it was written that I want to dub because I am insecure of Emraan! So he was quoted correctly and then he was interpreted by the writer. When you put a quote of a director, it gives the article legitimacy which is why the paper prints it. Now if the writer chooses to make his own interpretation out of it, we can just hope that the reader read it and realizes that it's the writer's interpretation where the director is not saying what the article is saying. So something as simple as saying 'Abhay is a perfectionist. I don't think he needs to dub but he wants to and so I am let him', the writer chooses to write it as 'It is heard that Abhay is insecure of Emraan and hence wants to dub'! So that's not what the director is saying. That is what the writer has written.

FS: Fair enough!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Big B On Dilip Kumar, Bofors, Remakes, Health Rumours And Undying Tenacity

Faridoon Shahryar (FS): Zubaani daave to bahut log karte rahte hain. Junoon ke kaam ko karke dikhaana hota hai. Well, when it comes to Amitabh Bachchan, junoon ke kaam ko woh karte hai aur karte rahenge inshallah because there’s only one Amitabh Bachchan and there can be no one like him. Huge honour to have you back on Bollywood Hungama, sir!

Amitabh Bachchan (AB): Thank you so much for having me.

FS: Department is your film that is coming up after a long time. How does it feel? There’s a lot of buzz around the film and your character is getting extreme sort of response because you’re playing an unusual and comical sort of a character and at the same time you are a gangster-turned-politician

AB: I don’t think it’s comical at all. It’s a role which is very valid for this story. Yes, it is a gangster who has gone clean; an ex-gangster who has now joined politics. Deapartment as it has been publicized is a special department that was forced by the police force to get rid of the mafia. The mastermind is Sarjerao Gaikwad which is role that I play who masterminds the entire thing and in a sense controls the operations.

FS: You’ve tweeted sometime back that in ‘Sarkar’, you had 10 days role and in ‘Department’, you are having a 15 days role. But still, there’s a sort of perception that you are having a cameo in the film. So could you just give your views on this?

AB: That’s how Ramu works. He can do 6 days work with you and yet make you feel that you are all over in the film. Of course, the lead characters are Sanjay Dutt and Rana (Daggubati). I am somewhere there in the background who guides them and designs operations for them. He’s almost like a Chanakya who has motivated everyone and is keeping tabs on everything. But it is pretty well spread out in the entire film.

FS: When it comes to the film that you’ve done with Ram Gopal Varma, you’ve experimented a lot with your characterization be it Nishabd, Sarkar, Sarkar Raj and even RGV Ki Aag. You’ve come out of, what some would call it, as your comfort zone. So is it a fair assessment?

AB: These are things that are a part of the story and the character that Ramu designs. Before we go on sets, we discuss how the character should look, how he should behave, what his language should be and once that is justified, we go ahead and do it. Ramu has always given me the freedom to make my own interpretations but never something independent of his contribution. All credit to him because he thinks up these characters, designs them and then throws them across to me. Then we sit and wonder how we are going to do it. When we went on set, I said that ‘let’s wear a dhoti’ and he was fine. All the other props that went along with it are a part of the story. The nature, the glasses etc were pre-determined before we go on the sets. So yes, we do get an opportunity to do something different and it’s always very exciting for an actor to be able to do that.

FS: In ‘Department’, there’s Sanjay Dutt, who says that he’s the biggest fan of you and also Rana Daggubati. A very different sort of star cast for you?

AB: Yes, I am working with Rana for the first time. I have worked with Sanju before in several films. It’s very gracious of them to have said so because I don’t get that kind of an exotic feeling when I am in their presence. I am part of them and would like to be a part of their group or gang. We are all colleagues and co-artists. We’re working basically for the film and its betterment and for its execution to be done according to the script that has been given to us. We may have admiration for several artists but I think once the camera starts, we need to forget that.

FS: You weren’t comfortable initially with the entire concept of these 5-6 cameras in Department, were you?

AB: For 42 years of your life, you are used to a camera in front of you, lights and everything. You get acclimatized to that. And you know who you are playing for. And suddenly, it’s not there and it feels a bit odd! But I think eventually what really matters is that in a sense, it gives you a lot of space to be a lot more freer provided you are not what aware of where the camera is placed! Ramu has about 7-8 cameras and they are in all kinds of different places. None of them can be seen and you can’t even see the operator, lights etc. So you actually don’t know which camera you are working for. So I think it gives me a lot more freedom as opposed to working for a particular set of cameras where there will be markings. Like ‘you can’t go beyond a point or else your focus will go’, ‘you can’t go there or else you’ll go out of the frame’, ‘please look here; otherwise we are getting your back’ etc are some of the things you are told once you are enacting a scene. All that has now disappeared! We’re just free to do what we like no matter where we go or what we do, some camera is going to catch that.

When I started acting in the late 60s, we had the Mitchell which was a very large camera and it had these huge magazines on top of it. One of the challenges the professional actors would throw at the juniors and newcomers was ‘ek 75 ke lens ke Mitchell pe close up dikha ke dikhao’! This is because on a 75 lens on a Mitchell, it used to come very close to your face. And you have this huge camera which you know is going to catch you for posterity. And to give expressions of either romance, anger etc is the most difficult close-up to give. And it was the great actor, late Raj Kumar, from whom I had heard for the first that time ‘75 ke lens ke Mitchell pe close up dikha ke dikhao’! So that used to be like a challenge or the test of a caliber of an artist because there’s a camera, there is lights all around you and people and to enact something which is emotional becomes very tough. And it happens with me even know, with the Arriflex, which is much smaller. And now we have these 5D cameras. In ‘Department’, I have actually moved around with the camera myself. And Ramu told me, ‘Sir, I have to tell you for the first time that you are going to be the cameraman of your own shot’! So you hold the camera and move around while you are talking. But when you have all these physical contraptions close to you, they can be very offsetting for an actor at times. Sometimes, if they are at a distance, you feel a lot freer. That’s how I felt.

I remember doing a scene in ‘Black’ which had the same sort of effect. It was an Arriflex and was very close and there were lights and huge cutters. And it was an emotional breakdown scene. We did the take and Sanjay (Leela Bhansali) said its fine. Then I said that ‘I feel that I didn’t do it correctly. Can you just push all these things away from me’?! And to his credit, he did. And that’s the take that was kept in the film! So sometimes, these equipments that are all around you can be very frightening. One of the challenges that most actors feel is that they’re being watched and they became conscious of it. To be able to come out of that is a quality of a great actor. But (in Department), it was nice to know that nobody was watching you. And in that respect, I felt that it was quite comfortable.

FS: I believe you are not having a full-fledged release after ‘Department’. In that context, what is it that fans can look forward to from Amitabh Bachchan in ‘Department’?

AB: My character is almost Machiavellian in nature. As I said, he designs and monitors what the movements and operations are that are going to be. I liked what Ramu asked me to do. I’ll now wait for audience verdict.

FS: Ram Gopal Varma totally liked your performance in ‘Bduddah Hoga…Terra Baap’. Many say that they would like to see a sequel of the film. So is it in the pipeline by any chance?

AB: We’ve never thought about that and I don’t think it’s going to happen. Puri Jagannadh is the brain behind ‘Bbuddah’ and if he wants to do something he’ll have to design something. But I haven’t heard anything from him.

FS: I saw ‘Bduddah Hoga…Terra Baap’ with my father and he loved the film because he has loved your films in the 70s and 80s. Many people enjoyed the stunts because it looked very convincing and it was an entertaining performance as well. So I personally feel that there’s a franchise over there.

AB: If Puri Jagannadh wants to do it and if there’s a credible story behind it, then we can have a look at it.

FS: You recently shot for ‘Bol Bachchan’ and you seem excited for it. The scene from ‘Amar Akbar Anthony’ wherein you are coming out of the Easter egg has been re-created. That must have been something! Could you tell us something about it?

AB: Ajay (Devgn) is like family and I’ve known Rohit (Shetty) for quite a while. His father and I worked together in so many films. Abhishek (Bachchan) was working in ‘Bol Bachchan’ as well. One day, they came and said that they want to do a title song which has been put together by Himesh Reshammiya. They wanted me to sing and act in it and I just said ‘Okay, fine’. It is in a sense a song that encapsulates the entire story or gives an idea of what the story is going to be, what the characters are, how it’s going to shape up etc through my voice. It was a lot of fun. A lot of things that we did were reminiscence of ‘Amar Akbar Anthony’ but it’s all done in good humour. We had a great time performing and I just finished shooting yesterday. We were very happy about (the song).

FS: You’ve also sung ‘Ekla Cholo Re’ in ‘Kahaani’ that has become a huge hit. You are now being associated with this famous poem of Rabindranath Tagore. How did you feel?

AB: I thought Sujoy (Ghosh) was making the biggest mistake of his life by asking me to sing that song (laughs). My Bengali is not that good. I am not a professional singer and ‘Ekla Cholo Re’ is something that is designed by a genius like Rabindranath Tagore and is almost close to divinity. ‘Rabindrasangeet’ is in the veins of not just Bengal but into the psyche of the entire nation. And to sing something that have been sung already well by so many greats was very daunting. And Sujoy in many respects is slightly mad and he does all these crazy things. But he’s a very lovable person. Since he requested, I just went along and did the song. I am happy that the film has done well. The movie is really quite exceptional. I am so happy for Sujoy because he’s been struggling to find his mark in the film industry. Some of his past works did not work well, especially the one with me (Aladin). Hence, I am very happy for him and also for Vidya (Balan) and the entire cast of ‘Kahaani’. The way Sujoy made this film was really quite exceptional.

FS: Last year, you tried to have a different sort of connect with the aam junta with KBC. Now Aamir Khan’s show ‘Satyamev Jayate’ and they are also trying to connect with the general populace of the country. In that context, will you be coming up with new concepts or connect more with people or taking KBC 6 to another level altogether?

AB: I don’t know since the conceptualization takes place with the creative team which they haven’t shared with me. The last season was very revealing as far as the people of our country are concerned. There was a large portion of our countrymen whom we didn’t know about as to where they came from and what their circumstances were. It was very saddening to see their plight and to hear their stories was heart-wrenching. I am happy that they got an opportunity at least to come to KBC and perhaps make a life-changing experience. But the valid point in KBC was that, given an opportunity, even the common man whom we tend to ignore at times or people that come from the rural areas or smaller towns and who are assumed that they’ll not be capable do have the capacity to excel. After all all the large winners were people that came from smaller towns or nondescript places from very poor backgrounds. But because they were given an opportunity, they excelled.

FS: I saw all the episodes with my family and the way the contestants relate to you, aisa lagta hai ki aap unki zindagi ka hissa hai barson se. When you interact with such people on a one-to-one basis, how do you react or what is your innermost feeling?

AB: Meeting people from different walks of life is always going to be an experience to cherish because they have their own stories to tell. Because we’ve spent our lifetime cocooned virtually in metro cities and acclimatized to the lifestyles that cities propagate, we sometimes are unaware of what the other India is all about. But that is the real India. I cannot say that this has been my first experience because when I was in politics for a very short time and I was fighting my elections from Allahbad, I did get an opportunity throughout those 2 ½ - 3 years that I was there in Parliament to actually go to the towns and villages and see the plight of the people. And it was most distressing. So I knew they were there. So for them, to come out and take part in a game show and make such a name for themselves was very exciting for me. I felt just good that somebody who had never ever stepped out of their town visited Mumbai for the first time in their lives, sat in a plane for the very first time, lived in a hotel for the very first time and then to come to this grand stage and make this kind of money is just unbelievable. And for me, their joy of achieving something is like I have achieved something!

FS: A lot of remakes are being made. ‘Don’ and ‘Agneepath’ have been made and then there’s ‘Satte Pe Satta’ coming up. Remake of ‘Muqaddar Ka Sikandar’, ‘Laawaris’, ‘Namak Halaal’, ‘Sharaabi’ and ‘Amar Akbar Anthony’ are in the pipeline as well. Since all these are your films, does it flatter you? You have said in that past that remakes are something you are not comfortable with…

AB: An original is an original and one would hope that it would be maintained. But if the producer has the rights of that product and he wants to remake it with the present generation, there’s nothing you could do about it and there’s no harm in that. Hence, a lot of remakes are being made. But I do feel that an original should be left as an original. Some of the classics have always been remade like, for example, ‘Devdas’. And then you find that each generation identifies with that particular ‘Devdas’. My generation would identify with Dilipsaab’s ‘Devdas’. Generation much before me would identify with K L Saigal’s ‘Devdas’. Perhaps, the modern generation would identify with Shahrukh’s ‘Devdas’. So I think it’s something that works generationally.

FS: There have been a lot of speculations around your health. Are you going to Los Angeles by any chance?

AB: This is incorrect. I am just going to take a break with the family. Health issues are something that takes time to repair and I am recuperating well. I have already started working. There are some films in the pipeline which will start in a few months. KBC is starting. Preparations have already started and we are, today, on the sets of the promotions of KBC. We just did a song for ‘Bol Bachchan’ which was rather hectic. God willing, all will be well!

FS: KBC has been one of your finest performances. A recent movie, ‘Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu’, starring Imran Khan and Kareena Kapoor, has a scene where Imran is changing his clothes while the television is on and KBC is being aired. Kareena’s grandmother enters and says that ‘Shameless boy! TV on hai! Amitabh tum ko dekh lega’! So you see you’ve become synonymous with the households of the country. That has been phenomenal.

AB: I think the program itself has a lot of credibility. It’s something that the whole family watches together. Otherwise the men are watching sporting events or news, the women are watching the serials while the kids are watching cartoons. But I think what KBC has done is that it has brought the whole family together. So I am happy that we hear incidents like these. It’s very flattering!

FS: Your humility is very famous and you tweeted sometime back, ‘When that brilliant football player from Brazil, Romario was asked who the best in world was he said - "Romario". When asked why he thought he was the best, he gave a classic reply... he said - “because I am Romario!!"’. Similarly, when asked that who the best actor in the country is, many in the industry says that it has to be Amitabh Bachchan. Yet you contribute to be self effacing. Where does that come from?

AB: I don’t believe that it is correct. There are several artists who are extremely good and certainly much better than me and they deserve all the recognition and credit. I genuinely think that there are many areas that I need to work on and improve. I am very grateful that people like that but I am afraid that’s not correct!

FS: Who do you think is the best actor ever in the Indian film industry?

AB: Well to me, Dilipsaab. I’ve never really looked beyond that because he’s been my idol and I’ve watched every one of his works. I always feel that whenever the history of Indian Cinema will be written, it will always have a ‘before Dilip Kumar’ and ‘after Dilip Kumar’! That’s almost like a yardstick. He has been phenomenal. My greatest regret, though, was that Ganga Jamuna, which I feel is his best work, and he never got an award for that. Sometimes you also feel that you deserved an award but you didn’t get it. And then you console yourself by the fact that if Dilip Kumar couldn’t get it for Ganga Jamuna, who are you?!

FS: You worked together him in ‘Shakti’ and it’s said that both of you have wonderful moments. It was difficult to decide who was better. How do you remember ‘Shakti’ now?

AB: With a lot of disbelief because you have grown up watching someone and suddenly you find yourself in the same profession, same film and same frame is frightening. For a very long time, it was not believable that I was actually working with Dilip saab. When you start evaluating the performance of an actor in a film, I feel it’s very important to evaluate the person standing in front of you because if they are performing well, their good performance will reflect on you. I could be giving the most fantastic performance ever but if my colleague or my co-artist is not responding to it, my performance will look weak. That is the greatness of Dilipsaab. Irrespective of whether he has to do something in the frame or not, if he’s responding, then your performance comes out looking good. And that in a sense is good for the film because the entire scene works. He’s a very considerate co-actor and always conscious of the fact that the other artists require space and time. And I particularly remember when I was doing the death scene in the film. I was preparing for it and he just came up individually and said that he’ll prepare with me. I said that ‘No Dilipsaab. Let me do it on my own’ but he said that ‘main bhi prepare karoonga tumhare saath mein’. These are things that encourage the young artists at that point of time. For him, to come and just assist you in your rehearsing is a great gesture. While we were rehearsing, there was some noise going on as unit people were talking. And he just snapped at them and said ‘Can’t you see that he’s rehearsing. So please be quiet’. Now this is something that should have come out from me! But coming out from him meant a lot because he realized that there’s an importance that every actor requires that little space and quietness for rehearsal. It shows his consideration for other artists. And that’s why he’s such a legend.

FS: A book has recently come out ‘Bollywood Top 20’ and obviously you are featuring in that. And the book says that during the 1970s, on an average and for 10 years, you had 5 films in a year. That has never been done by any actor ever in the Hindi film industry. Can we call you a ‘karmayogi’ or who’s relentlessly kept on doing one thing or the other?

AB: I’ve never looked at this statistics and they have never meant that important to me. We were all very keen to get work. And I still feel that if I don’t have work, I am insecure. So yes, I would like to keep working and if my body responds well, I would like to carry on. I never realized of these statistics you talk of. At that time, the situation as far as industry is concerned was different. We worked in almost 15-20 films almost at the same time. So it was natural that 4 or 5 of them would come out every year. And that was due to the disproportionate way of finances that went with the film. Producers borrowed money from distributors and financers at very heavy cost. They made 4 or 5 reels, shot all the exciting portions, went back to them, showed the reels, and proved their credibility before they got their next installment! This used to take a lot of time and artists used to be sitting vacantly. So what do you do? You take up another film. This practice went on for quite a while till it became so bad that all of us were working 2-3 shifts everyday on 3 different films. And there was a period when the associations of the film industry put a ceiling on artists that they cannot do more than six films at a time. That brought some kind of system or discipline within the industry. Now because of the opening up of the economy, corporatization, the assurance and not being dependent on where the next lot of your financing will come from, artists are able to go according to a script and regulation. Producers also want to make a film within a given schedule. So within 2-3 months, one has to start and finish the film. Even then, there were exceptions like Hrishikesh Mukherjee who didn’t have long shooting spells and they finished their work very fast because they were well prepared and worked economically. So with 1 ½ months, he would finish his film. But other than that, most of the producers or directors, because of the working conditions, and the fact that most of us were working in so many films, used to take a lot of time. I am happy that now there’s some kind of regulation that has come in and actors want to work on one film at a time. That’s why you see fewer releases of actors today.

FS: Recently, the entire Bofors’ scam was cleared and you were very happy. Do you feel vindicated or make you feel happy from within?

AB: The matter is over. We went to court and won all the cases and hence were cleared long time ago. It’s just that the perception in people’s mind was different. What is disturbing really is that the Swedish’s investigated the police chief saying that our names were planted deliberately there. But now it’s all over and done with. It’s best to let it lie that way!

FS: Tell us about working with Sridevi and doing a cameo in ‘English Vinglish’.

AB: It’s actually a small little scene. Balki insisted me on doing it and it was great fun.

FS: Balki gets the best out of you in the last few years, be it ‘Paa’ or ‘Cheeni Kum’.

AB: He’s very innovative. He comes from the ad world and has the advantage of thinking more than out of his hat. I hope he keeps doing that because some of his ideas are very unique and they give a lot of opportunity for artists to come out and perform differently. We are working together on our next project. It’s too early to say anything but I am sure it’ll be something quite novel.

FS: I believe you’re doing one film with Abhishek Bachchan as well, directed by Amit Sharma.

AB: Yes. We want to work together. We are sitting on it and working around the story.

FS: That was Mr Amitabh Bachchan talking about his next film ‘Department’ and his entire experience of doing this film with new technology with 5D Cameras. He has also spoken about Mr Dilip Kumar, why he thinks he’s the greatest actor and the entire experience of shooting ‘Shakti’ with him. And he has also spoken about shooting song for ‘Bol Bachchan’ and few of his forthcoming films. Huge honour to have you on Bollywood and all the best wishes for ‘Department’ and all your future ventures!

AB: Thanks very much!

FS: That’s all we have on Bollywood Hungama. Keep on watching!

"If Cocktail Doesn't Work...": Deepika Padukone

Check out an excerpt from an interview with Deepika Padukone (conducted before the release of Desi Boys) where she talks about 'Cocktail'. Why did this film drain her and what if the film doesn't work?

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Deepika Padukone Flaunts Red Bikini In Cocktail

Deepika Padukone flaunts a two piece red bikini in Cocktail. The theatrical trailer of the film is fun. It is a total departure (thematically) for director Homi Adjania whose last directorial venture Being Cyrus also starred Saif. Story-screenplay is by Imtiaz Ali who has also written the dialogues along with his brother Sajid Ali (first film). Apart from Saif and Deepika, there's a new girl Diana who is being introduced in Coctail. Interestingly Deepika is called Veronica in the film. It seems like a tug-of-war between Betty and Vernoica for Archie Saif. Pritam has composed eight songs (hopefully all are original) while Irshad Kamil has penned the lyrics. The theatrical trailer of Cocktail is being launched on May 21.
Sent on my BlackBerry® from Vodafone

YRF Entertainment announces its next film starring Nicole Kidman

YRF Entertainment CEO Uday Chopra has announced he is joining forces with Pierre-Ange Le Pogam of Stone Angels to produce and finance the upcoming Nicole Kidman vehicle, "Grace of Monaco".


The film, to be directed by Olivier Dahan ("La Vie En Rose"), starts production this fall in South of France. YRF Entertainment's development head, Jonathan Reiman, will serve as executive producer, along with the film's writer, Arash Amel. Inferno is currently selling foreign rights to the film at the Cannes Film Festival.


The movie tells the story of efforts by the late Princess Grace of Monaco (the former Grace Kelly, played by Nicole Kidman) to make peace between her adopted country and France. Grace, just 33 years old and having just given up an acting career to become Monaco's First Lady, maneuvered through a political minefield to resolve the situation, as detailed in the film.


The project is the latest move by YRF Entertainment, a Beverly Hills-based production and financing company that is a subsidiary of Indian studio Yash Raj Films, to develop, finance, and produce English language films for the U.S. and global market. Both Uday Chopra and Pierre-Ange Le Pogam are particularly pleased to be teaming up to bring "Grace of Monaco" to the big-screen.


Chopra says, "'Grace of Monaco' is the kind of movie that has a perfect blend of talent and sensibility that YRF Entertainment is proud to be a part of. We look forward to a great partnership with Olivier and Pierre-Ange."


Le Pogam says, "When I first read the script written by Arash Amel, I thought it was a great story to tell, with a lot of artistic, historical and emotional potential. This is why I invited Olivier Dahan to become the director because he has this artistic vision. When Olivier and I met with Nicole Kidman for the first time, we felt immediately she was the right artist to portray Princess Grace. When I then met with Uday, I had the same feeling after our conversation. He was obviously the right partner because of his beautiful vision of the movie. We are very proud and enthusiastic to be sharing the experience of working together with YRF."


YRF Entertainment is currently also overseeing post-production on Peter Glanz's upcoming comedic feature, "The Longest Week", starring Jason Bateman and Olivia Wilde, and has a slate of films in development.


Thursday, May 17, 2012

Farewell Shahryar...The Best Tribute To Abba

Here is a wonderful tribute by Mehr Afshaan Farooqi to my father Professor Shahryar published in EPW which has a 2 million circulation. I would rate it as the best tribute that has been bestowed upon Abba.


Azmi did not offer much by the way of corrections, according to Shahryar, per-haps because he had already worked on them so hard, or having stepped on the path of creativity, the poems flowed easily from his pen.

The passing of Urdu poet Shahryar is a monumental loss to Indian literature. Awarded the 2008 Bharatiya Jnanpith, Shahryar’s greatest contribution lay in his felicity with ghazals, in crafting new tropes to express modernity’s dilemmas and adding new meanings to familiar tropes. This is a tribute to his life and work and his special niche in Indian poetry.

Mehr Afshan Farooqi (maf5y@virginia.edu) is at the University of Virginia.

dilchaspi jo duniya ko hai mujh mein rahe qaim ek mor naya aaye ab meri kahani mein1

[May the world’s interest my work endure May a new turn emerge in my story.]

Shahryar’s passing is a monumental loss to modern Urdu poetry and to the world of Indian literature. Although he had been ailing for the past year and had not been writing much for several years, he consistently remained Urdu’s most recognisable poet. Indeed, the award of the 2008 Jnanpith (announced in 2010) reinforced his stature as contemporary Urdu’s pre-eminent poet.

Born in Aonla in Uttar Pradesh’s Bareilly district in 1936, Shahryar’s given name was Akhlaq Muhammad Khan. Shahryar was not one of those early geniuses who start writing poetry at a young age. There were no poets in his family. In high school, he was drawn to sports, especially hockey. But as he noted in an interview, there was an abiding, deep, inexplicable sadness inside of him. His father worked for the police department and wanted him to be a police officer – a prospect quite daunting for the sensitive young man. He decided to leave home rather than serve in the police department.

Shahryar’s life took a different turn when he met Khalilur Rahman Azmi, a noted poet and Urdu critic who was several years his senior. They became good friends. It was Azmi who directed Shahryar’s energy and melancholy towards poetry. As Shahryar admitted many times, Azmi’s influence drew him to write; it was Azmi who suggested the pen name Shahryar and who even went to the extent of publishing his own poems under Shahryar’s name.

Eventually, as an undergraduate student, Shahryar began to compose his own poems. The anxiety of measuring up to Azmi’s standards compelled him to polish and perfect his ghazals over and again before showing them to his ustad.

In the 1950s, the Progressive Writer’s Movement was a strong ideological force in the literary milieu. Azmi was not a Progressive in a narrow sense of the term. He was in fact branching out from the agenda-driven philosophy of the Progressives and exploring the angst of human existence in a world baffled by relentless change. It is obvious that Shahryar looked up to Azmi as an ustad but he was not overly influenced by Azmi’s poetic style. Shahryar’s early work introduced a poet who was ambivalent, searching for something but not knowing what he wanted, wanting to dream but eluded by sleep. After completing his BA, Shahryar toyed with the idea of getting an MA in Psychology.

However, he dropped the idea and instead­ earned a Masters in Urdu from Aligarh Muslim University in 1961. After a short period of struggle during his search for permanent employment, Shahryar was appointed lecturer in the Urdu department in Aligarh in 1966. An interesting feature of his teaching career was that he never taught poetry. He preferred to teach fiction. He was well-liked by his colleagues. In fact, a remarkable quality of his personality was his anti-bohemian attitude. He did not have any hang-ups about his image as a recognised poet but was as “normal” as anyone else, and enjoyed watching films, cooking, playing with children and spending time with friends.

Among his younger contemporaries at Aligarh was Muzaffar Ali, who later became a noted film-maker. Ali was an admirer of Shahryar’s poetry in college and when he made his first feature film Gaman (1978), he got Shahryar’s permis-sion to include two of his ghazals in the film as they appropriately described the emotional state of the film’s protagonist. The ghazals, siney mein jalan, ankhon mein toofan sa kyun hai, and ajeeb saneha mujh par guzar gaya yaro, sung in the rich, deeply resonant voice of Hariharan became quite popular.

But it was Shahryar’s lyrics for Ali’s beautiful cinematic retelling of Umrao Jan Ada (1981) that brought ghazals written for cinema to an entirely new level. The success of Umrao Jan Ada’s lyrics brought a lot of offers from Mumbai cinema for Shahryar. But he did not allow the dazzle of a career as film lyricist to blind him. Although his film lyrics brought him an-other level of popularity and recognition, he knew that that kind of fame was not what he wanted. In an interview for a documentary film on his life, made under the aegis of the Sahitya Akademi, he said that no serious poet could write film lyrics.


Shahryar made his mark on Urdu’s literary scene in 1965 with a collection of poems ambitiously titled Ism-e-Azam or The Great Name.The book was well received and ac-claimed by both critics and the wider audience. Its appeal lay in the ravani, the flow and accessibility, of his language and the ease with which ideas crossed ideological boundaries. His poetry was not burdened with rigid philosophical posturing, and instead, attempted to share experiences. The publication of his first collection seemed to have opened the door to a flood of creativity. Ism-e-Azam was followed by Satvan Dar or Seventh Door (Shabkhoon Kitab Ghar, Allahabad, 1969). By the time his third collection, Hijr ke Mausam or Seasons of Separation was published in 1978, Shahryar was estab-lished as one of the leading poets in Urdu.

Azmi’s death (of cancer) in 1978 must have been a big emotional setback for Shahryar. His friendship with Azmi had literally been the cause and force behind his poetic efflorescence. The poems in Khwab ka dar Band Hai (The Doorway of Dreams is Closed, 1985) show him resisting loneliness, haunted with sleeplessness, grappling with night’s relentless darkness:

Voh jo asman pe sitara hai use apni ankhon se dekh lo,

use apne honton se chum lo, use apne hathon se tor lo,

ke usi peh hamla hai raat ka.

[That star in the sky Gaze at it with your eyes
Kiss it with your lips Pluck it with your hands
For it is the target of night.]

This short poignant nazm (poem) is emblematic of Shahryar’s existential angst and the struggle to capture the evanescent moments of joy. Plucking the twinkling star from the sky to protect it from the attack of the forces of darkness is a bittersweet victory. The star is safe but it does not twinkle anymore. Khwab ka dar band hai won Shahryar the prestigious Sahitya Akademi Award in 1987. His poetic outpouring continued through the 1980s and 1990s: Qafiley Yadon ke, Suraj ka Intizar, Neend ki Kirchen, Mere Hissey ki Zamin.

The last book of poems Shaam Hone Wali Hai was published in 2004. This is an outstandingly consistent engagement with his muse. Shahryar’s greatest contribution to modern Urdu poetry was his felicity in composing ghazals, a style of poetry that demands technical perfection and is packed with emotions at once personal and universal so that it can transcend time. Such poetry becomes synchronic with our day-to-day life. The history of the ghazal, its popularity, decline, and the story of its triumphal survival are inter-twined with the history of Urdu itself. The predictable melancholy of the clas-sical ghazal had to be infused with mod-ern themes and moods in order to adapt with the times. Change, chaos, bewil-derment – experiences of modernity’s dilemmas had to become part and parcel of the modern ghazal. Shahryar’s ghazal engaged with change with a piercing directness. Yet his poetic style is so re-laxed and effortless that it makes com-plicated themes appear simple:

ye chal chalao ke lamhein hain ab to sach bolo jahan ne tum ko ke tum ne jahan ko badla hai

[In these moments of separation/departure Speak the truth; has the world changed you Or you have changed the world.]

tamam shahr mein jis ajnabi ka charcha hai sabhi ki rai hai voh shakhs mere jaisa hai
[The stranger who is the talk of the town Everyone thinks I am like him.]

The modernist ghazal in the hands of masters like Shahryar acquired awareness, a particularity of the individual’s experiences in a complex world that is mostly unsympathetic. In a bold departure from the beaten path his poems also ex-plored the sensuousness of the experi-ence of love:

labon se dhum barish asman tak jati maujein badan kishti musafir ke liye girdab tha voh
[tumultuous kisses rain waves rising sky high my body’s boat traversing a whirlpool.]

Above all, Shahryar was able to access a wide gamut of complex emotional states that form the existence of the indi-vidual in the modern world: fear, stress, restlessness, boredom, anger, passion, loyalty, disloyalty, apathy, coldness, love and forgetfulness. Many of these emo-tional states were not dissimilar to the themes of the classical ghazal, and re-flected a continuity that was important, but Shahryar’s pen crafted new tropes and added new meanings to familiar tropes. For example, words such as barish, mauj, kishti, darya, bhanwar, musafir (wave, boat, river, whirlpool, traveller, rain) used in the she’r quoted above were often deployed by Shahryar to ex-plore both the sensuous and the onto-logical meaning of existence.

dil mein tufan hai aur ankhon mein tughyani hai
zindagi ham ne magar har nahin mani hai
[storm filled heart and eyes in flood life I am still not defeated.]

There is always hope in his poetry surprising us in twists and turns:

Dur tak ret ka tapta hua sahra tha jahan Pyas ka kiski karishma hai vahan pani hai
[where there was an endless, burning desert whose miraculous thirst brought water?]

Shahryar occasionally produces an unsettling she’r suggestive of the great classicist Mir Taqi Mir’s searing poetic style; one favourite evokes emotions beyond translation:

tujh ko kho kar kyun ye lagta hai ke kuchch khoya nahin
khwab mein ayega tu is vaste soya nahin
[I had lost you but I felt I had lost nothing
I didn’t sleep for you would be in my dreams.]


Shahryar now will be in the company of his fellow poet-friends with whom he embarked on his poetic journey, Khalil ur Rahman Azmi, Kumar Pashi and Irfan Siddiqi. His closest friend, poet-litterateur Mughni Tabassum to whom he dedicated his last book of poems Shaam Hone Wali Hai (Evening is Upon Us, 2005) died soon after.

Predictably, the focus of the perfunc-tory obituaries in the Indian press was on his contribution of lyrics to Bombay cinema; some cared to mention that he had been the chair of the Urdu depart-ment at Aligarh University (though he had retired in 1996) and was the editor of a well-known literary journal She’r-o Hikmat. More serious assessments of his contribution to Urdu letters will follow in Urdu journals, but we must pause at the moment of his departure and reflect on his special niche in Urdu poetry and the void that has been created by his death. It is very important to reach out to a general, educated audience of Urdu lovers that must be craving to learn more about Shahryar at this time.

To close this tribute, here is a she’r from one of his later ghazals which he loved to recite and which also represents the essence of his poetic thought and style:

Zindagi jaisi tawaqqo’ thi nahin kuch kam hai Har ghari hota hai ihsas kahin kuch kam hai
[life is not what I/we expected it to be, something is missing
Every moment there is this feeling, some-thing is missing.]

I am grateful to Shahryar’s son, Faridoon Shahryar, for sharing some special memories of his father with me. His father told him that Azmi had written some of the early poems published under his name. Also, the children’s names, Humayun and Faridoon, were suggested by Azmi.

This is interesting because it shows that he did not consider an MA in Urdu necessary for his trajectory as an Urdu poet.

These two ghazals are from the first 1965 col-lection, Ism-e-Azam (Aligarh: Indian Book House), pp 81 and 99 respectively. They are also included in the 1978 Hijr ke Mausam (New Delhi: Anjuman Taraqqi-e Urdu), pp 10 and 30.

The documentary titled Khwab se Khwab Tak was directed by Obaid Siddiqui and released in 2000. It is 27 minutes in length.

Ism-e Azam is also the key to the magical world of illusions.

Shahryar wrote a short but poignant poem in memory of Azmi, “Khalilur Rahman Azmi ki Yaad mein”, I could not verify the date when it was written but it is included in the last 2004 collection Shaam Hone Wali Hai.

Hijr ke Mausam, p 58

Qafiley Yadon ke, 1986, Delhi; Suraj ka Intizar, 1988, (Lahore, Naya Pakistan Publications); Neend ki Kirchen, 1995 (Aligarh: Educational Book House); Mere Hissey ki Zamin, 1999 (Aligarh: Educational Book Depot).

Shaam Hone Wali Hai, p 19.

Ibid: 19.
Ibid: 39.
Ibid, p16
Ibid: 16
Ibid: 36 
Ibid: 15. This is the very first poem in the col-lection.

He recited this ghazal in his acceptance speech for the Jnanpith Award.


1 Shahryar (2004), Shaam Hone Wali Hai (Aligarh: Litho Press), 41.
2 Shahryar and his father were reconciled later.

Big B, SRK, Ash, Hrithik, Kareena At Madame Tussauds, Hong Kong

Madame Tussauds Hong Kong unveiled the superstar collection of Bollywood A-Listers including Aishawarya Rai Bachchan, Kareena Kapoor, Hrithik Roshan, and Shah Rukh Khan. They will reside alongside Amitabh Bachchan in the World Premiere zone from now until July 19, 2012.

Designed to allow fans across the globe to meet the Bollywood idols, the wax figures are now on a world tour as they travel from Blackpool to other Madame Tussauds attractions including Hong Kong, Bangkok, London and other sites in Europe and the US.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Why Farooq Shaikh Finds Sarika Irresistibly Good Looking?

Faridoon Shahryar: We have two of the finest actors in Bollywood. And both of them are National Award winners – Farooq Sheikh and Sarika. Huge honour to have you on Bollywood Hungama, first of all!


Farooq Sheikh: Pleasure, pleasure!


Faridoon Shahryar: They are a part of a film called 'Club 60' which is coming up. Please tell us something about the film because from what I've read about the film, it's not a usual take on senior citizens. It's like you guys are having a lot of fun! Please tell us something about the film.


Farooq Sheikh: Me or the lady?


Faridoon Shahryar: Whoever wants to talk first!


Farooq Sheikh: The lady first


Sarika: Actually you should be talking first because he's more part of the club. He goes there, you see. So I think that's his track.


Farooq Sheikh: Essentially, it's about what you do at whatever age you are. That's the theme of the film. Numerical quantity of the age has very little to do with your lifestyle. If you are physically mobile and mentally active, then you can be whatever you want to be. And that is really what the film is trying to say. Also in today's time and age, the 60 of 2012 is probably the 40 of maybe 20 years ago. So you don't really 'retire' because you've reached 60 or because you've crossed 60. So whatever kind of, what we popularly call joie de vivre continues to exist inside you, regardless of what your date of birth says. And that's really what the film is about.


Faridoon Shahryar: Apparently, you guys are indulging in lot of abuses as well and you guys talk about sex and bitching and all that stuff happen as well…


Farooq Sheikh: I don't! Neither does she! Some other character might!


Faridoon Shahryar: Sharat Saxena, Tinnu Anand, Raghuveer Yadav and Satish Shah are the other actors who are a part of the film. What exactly are you doing in the film?


Sarika: I am a doctor, so is he (Farooq). We are a couple and we've just shifted cities. And we've come to a new city and there's something in the film. Something happens and how we are dealing with it or trying to learn a new way of living life. I can't go more into this because I would be telling you the story. But it's basically sort of how they are trying to, sort of, live life in a new way.


Farooq Sheikh: Another aspect of it is that how Sarikaji's character is really the hub of the relationship. How she holds the relationship and their life together – that is also an important aspect. Because whatever happens in the film is affecting the man more than it is affecting the lady because she's stronger, more mature, more sensible of the two.


Faridoon Shahryar: Script has become and there are movies like Vicky Donor and Kahaani – good films and good scripts which necessarily may not be having big stars. They are doing well at the box office; they are appreciated by all and sundry. In that context, do you think people are primarily looking for good films, good cinema and good scripts rather than big stars?


Sarika: I think so. They are looking for good scripts. I think they are looking for good scripts for a very long time. We are the ones who were not giving it to them. They are ready for a long time but somewhere we were stuck in that kind of an understanding that 'O! They want entertainment. Let's not get serious with them.' The minute some of the directors and filmmakers decided to do that – if you see the reaction – be it Paan Singh Tomar or Vicky Donor; look at how varied the films are; how ready they have been! It's not that they have just been ready about. I think for about 2-3 years, they are ready. So fortunately, never mind it's late, but it's happening.


Faridoon Shahryar: You had a 'Parzania' and you won a National Award for that. Do you at times wonder that films like that could have been presented differently in terms of a release and…


Sarika: But it's not in our control. We wanted it to release differently but the point is that it's not what we want. There was a very huge film (Salaam-E-Ishq) which released with Parzania which they had booked five shows in a day. Like there are six screens out of which five shows are gone in all six screens. So we had one 9:30 show in the morning and at 10:45 in the night! So we didn't want that. We wanted at least one show where people could actually come and see the film. But that didn't happen. So those things, I think, are not in your control. I think personally you should have a theatre dedicated to only these kinds of films. A theatre where if a big film comes, you say that we don't want you because we need more exposure!


Faridoon Shahryar: Do you feel at times that maybe movies like 'Parzania' could have had a proper online release maybe because these days, it has happened in fact?


Sarika: No, it's not that. Online release is a different situation. The first thing a filmmaker wants is to release his film in a theatre. Films basically should be seen in the theatre. For some reason, if you can't screen them in a theatre is when you start looking at alternatives.


Faridoon Shahryar: How about the re-release of 'Parzania'?


Sarika: I wish they would do that. That would be brilliant because so many people have not seen it. And this time we can make sure that when there's no big film coming, we can come in that weekend and take all the five shows!


Faridoon Shahryar: Same with 'Lahore' and a very fine performance. You got a National Award for that. Maybe it could had been promoted differently…


Farooq Sheikh: Essentially, what is happening is that nobody wants to bell the cat. Cinema – from day one, from the time it was first shown – is essentially about engrossing narrative. It does not matter what the age factor of your main protagonist is or isn't. You can make a film on a little child and it can be very engrossing. You can make a film on a very old man and it can be very engrossing. The best portions of 'Mother India' are after Nargisji is past her prime in the film. Similarly, so many other films that we can point out. It is essentially about an engrossing narrative. And it is not a day too early that filmmakers are being made to realize that if you have something good to say and you know how to say it well enough, the audience is only too ready and too happy to accept it. But if you don't give them the opportunity, like Sarikaji was saying – you have 6 screens in which you give the most remote and the most unreachable slot to a film that deserves much better – so you're making sure that that film doesn't get seen. I have at least attended at least two shows of Parzania and the audience comes out overwhelmed, as indeed did I. You can't forget the film. And it's a great pity that we are not seeing any chance of 'Parzania' being released in a regular manner in the near future because we like to such films and we want to see such films. But you've to give the audience the opportunity. Agar aap dukaan mein woh saamaan hi nahi rakhenge, to kharidne waala kharide kya? Jo aapne rakha hai usko kharidega. Phir kharidne ke baad chaahe usse kose ya chaahe usse saraahe, kharidega wohi jo aapne rakha hai dukaan mein


Faridoon Shahryar: At times, do you wonder that in the prime of your youth, you had roles like 'Satte Pe Satta' or anglicized roles like someone who is physically desirable woman…


Sarika: Why should I be apologetic about it?


Faridoon Shahryar: In the sense that in the last 10 years for that matter, the kind of cinema that you're doing, suddenly people have discovered an altogether different side of you.


Sarika: No no, you are unnecessarily giving me importance. It's not about me. Cinema has changed. The way they are looking at women has changed. What women used to do then and what women do now are two different things. So it is not one person. It is the whole industry, the way they are making films, has changed. Earlier you had women doing only 4 roles – the lover, the mother, the sister and the item girl. Today, one woman does everything or does none of them. So you see the times have changed. Why women, even men for that matter, you know, people doing light scenes and then you had the bad guy and then you had the hero.


Faridoon Shahryar: 'Chashme Buddoor' is being remade. David Dhawan is remaking it. Your role is done by Ali Zafar. Does it flatter you that a movie that you did 25 years back and it's still remembered and people remember it so fondly – Miss Chamko and aapke jo saare dialogues the – the interaction between you and Ravi Baswani?


Farooq Sheikh: Let me tell you without being unduly modest. Whatever merit exists in that film, exist because how Sai (Paranjpe) wrote and how Sai made it. Had it been somebody other than Farooq Sheikh and Ravi Baswani and Rakesh Bedi doing it, or even Deeptiji doing it, the film would still have done as well. Because what Sai had to say and the manner in which she could manage to say was completely different than what was on display at that time. And if Davidsaab can manage to get that kind of a spirit – I don't know what the script is like. Whether he has kept the exact same script or whether he has changed it or whether he has updated it in the same mould, I don't what it is like. But if he can manage to do that, I think he has got a winner in his hand.


Faridoon Shahryar: Farooquesaab, even then, when you were doing cinema, you films were entertaining like Katha was a very very entertaining film in fact. And same with Chashme Buddoor and so many others. You did many films which were entertaining and at the same time, thought provoking. Agar dekha jaaye to aaj bhi aap shayad wohi keh rahe hai ki you're still trying to do similar sort of stuffs in terms of script. Do you wonder that ye jo demarcations bana diye jaate hai ki art cinema and commercial cinema, ye sab figments of imagination hai?


Farooq Sheikh: These are actually labels of convenience. And labels of convenience invented by the media for their own convenience! Is anybody going to stand up and say that there was no art in Manmohan Desai's films? There were several kinds of arts in every department. Or that there is no commerce in late Satyajit Ray's films? Raysaab was not admitting anybody free into the auditorium. He was charging for a ticket which Mr Manmohan Desai was doing too. And then there was the art of cinematography, the art of storytelling, editing, makeup, histrionics in both the films. This was completely a convenient label invented by the media. It's just that what is it that you want to offer in lieu of the ticket that the spectator buys. I may offer something that is completely different from what somebody else might offer. What I offer depends on my own sensibilities and my own resource. And the same would prevail for somebody else.


Faridoon Shahryar: You are having actors like Satish Shah and Raghuveer Yadav who's really a fantastic actor. So please tell us something about the star cast.


Farooq Sheikh: Work really has started only yesterday. And today is the second day. So it's difficult to say on her face but I've been a huge admirer of Sarikaji's work for some time now. And while I knew her very casually earlier and we were like 'How are you Sarikaji?' and 'How are you Farooqsaab?', but I've been wanting to work with her for quite some time.


Faridoon Shahryar: She's quite good looking as well. She's very good looking!


Farooq Sheikh: O God! What more do you want me to say to her on her face?


Faridoon Shahryar: What was the better incentive – the work that she has done or the looks?


Farooq Sheikh: I'll have to think really hard on that because both are very tempting aspects of her personality! But when we read the role and everybody suggested that we should have Sarikaji for this. But the producer-director was little reticent about whether she would accept it or not because she's selective about the kind of work she does and she doesn't need to grab everything that's offered to her. So we were little apprehensive about ki haan kahegi ya naa kahegi ya ghar se baahar nikaal degi, pata nahi kya hoga! But when they met her, she liked it and we are all thrilled that she did.