Archive for the ‘Music, Films, Television’ Category

Bhavana, Bhavya, Radhika, Ragini, Shruthi, Tara…

16 April 2014

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The 2014 election campaign saw Karnataka taking some giant steps towards emulating the cinema-obsessed politics of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh, with film actors (and actresses) of varying waist (and goggle) sizes turning up to campaign for political parties and candidates; some officially, many not.

Sadly, reality just kicked in.

The stars were only for the “road shows”, to provide some box-office glamour to the beauty parade of the not-so-beautiful, which is what realpolitik is. The real hard-bones electoral work at the booths tomorrow will be done by these folk, some of whose names, if you are lucky, could match those whom they leer and cheer.

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

A private zoo owner climbs up Forbes celeb pole

14 December 2013

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Celebrities live in a strange and nearly unbelievable age of make-believe, where often times bad news is good news.

For all their cinematic talent and box-office success (and, on top of it, demonstrated decency in public life) neither Dr Raj Kumar nor Vishnuvardhan ever figured like or towered over their peers and compatriots in the national consciousness.

But Darshan Tugudeep (in picture, left) is a different kettle of fish.

The “challenging star” of dozens of execrable films which strangely seem to have a magnetic hold on moviegoers; the “challenged star” who beat up his wife, stubbed a burning cigarette, tore her dress, bit her ear, threatened their son, and pulled out his revolver sparking homas and processions from his equally challenged followers, has made it to Forbes India magazine’s list of the top 100 celebrities in the country.

In fact, the Mysore-born star debuts healthily at No. 65, three places lower than Sudeep at No. 62.

The accompanying text for Darshan reads:

65. Darshan

Earnings: Rs 24 crore

Fame rank: 98

“The Kannadiga actor [who has a private zoo] is among the highest paid stars from the South Indian film industry…. Darshan won the best actor award at the south Filmfare awards for his role in 2012 historical biopic Krantiveera Sangolli Rayanna. Like many of his other peers, Darshan too is attempting to build a business that is independent of his acting skills. His family currently owns a a shooting unit…. Apart from a production house, Darshan has started a film distribution business, giving a boost to his earnings.”

In contrast, the text for Sudeep, who earns less and is apparently less famous, is positively bland.

62. Sudeep

Earnings: Rs 13.50 crore

Fame rank: 61

One of the few Kannada actors to have successfully transitioned across language barriers, Kichcha Sudeep had a pretty varied and fulfilling year. He won a slew of awards for his role as the villain in the Telugu-Tamil fantasy movie Eega.

The only other Kannadiga celebs on the list are Deepika Padukone who is at No. 11 with earnings of Rs 39.50 crore, Rahul Dravid who is at No. 30 (Rs 7.66 crore), Aishwarya Rai who is at No. 51 (Rs 13.50 crore), Prabhu Deva who is at No. 90 (Rs 8.50 crore).

Also read: What Darshan‘s brutality says about Sandalwood

Darshan scandal reveals Kannada bias, bigotry’

CHURUMURI POLL: Should Darshan be banned?

When wife-beater Darshan campaigns for Congress

Is South Indian cinema better than Bollywood’s?

4 October 2013

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In the fourth week of August, Madras played host to a three-day jamboree to mark 100 years of South Indian cinema.

Song and dance delegations from each of the four states got a chance to show their wares. By all accounts, it was an event hogged and monopolised by the Mysore-born actress-turned-Tamil Nadu chief minister Jayalalitha Jayaram, to the exclusion of all else in the film fraternity, in an election year.

But does South Indian cinema really have much to celebrate, regardless of the snooty South Indian belief that south cinema is better than Bollywood cinema? Regardless of the talented stars, the macho mustachioed actors, the sexy actresses, the villians, the vamps, the directors, music composers and technicians?

The long-time film critic Randor Guy alias Madabhushi Rangadurai, offers a blistering critique of Kollywood and Mollywood and Sandalwood, in The Pioneer:

“We are where we started in 1913. Indian movies in general and south Indian movies in particular have not moved an inch forward. It is all the same. Personalities have been changed to accommodate youth. That’s the only notable change.

“South Indian language films continue to be the extension of the old theatre. There is no semblance of reality to the real life. There should be logic, reasoning and art in the product.

“Do you think hard hitting dialogues, songs shot with hundreds of co-stars in exotic locations, the hero single-handedly bashing up the goons and walking away with the heroine makes a good movie? I am aghast.. Most of the directors have not seen classical movies and they have not read good books too.

“The movie Nenjil Oru Aalayam (A temple inside the heart) was sent as an entry for the Oscar Award. The man in charge of the category for which the movie was sent laughed at us and asked weren’t there any divorce laws in India. He told us that the story could have been cut short had the protagonists approached the court of law instead of singing songs and mouthing tough dialogues.

“If films represent only glamour and nothing else, well, there is no need to elaborate. If even third grade movies could throw up global leaders from the fraternity, imagine, what could have been the scenario had we produced movies matching the ones made in Hollywood?”

Photograph: courtesy Cinema News Today

Also read: Poll: Is Hindi cinema Indian cinema?

‘Bollywood: India’s most moronic cultural export’

Has Bollywood wrecked our cinema sensibilities?

Do only Bollywood beauties possess glamour?

The greatest actor in the history of Indian cinema?

The sexiest South Indian south Asian actress is…

Why national media ignores the national awards

The spotlight is now on ‘Make Up’ Naani’s son

31 August 2013

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In Lounge, the weekend section of the business paper Mint, the columnist Aakar Patel doffs his hat to Prakash Belawadi.

The engineer-son of ‘Make Up’ Naani and Bhargavi Nagaraj who became an Indian Express reporter, who became a magazine correspondent, who became a television chat show host, who launched a journalism school, who launched a weekly newspaper…

And who made a national-award winning English film, who made a hit Kannada TV serial—and who is winning accolades for his role as a Research & Analysis Wing (RAW) agent in the just-released Hindi film, Madras Cafe:

“Prakash Belawadi started and edited a weekly newspaper, Bangalore Bias (it shut down). He has begun so many enterprises, a media school among them, that I have lost count just of those he has been involved in since 2000, and would not be surprised if he has too.

“Belawadi began his career as a journalist and worked for Vir Sanghvi’s Sunday. He remains a columnist and a first rate one. He has the best quality a columnist can have and that, according to Graham Greene, is never to be boring.

“Belawadi has a dangerous lack of ideology that makes him an aggressive and unpredictable debater. He can casually assume a position, often contrary to one he held a couple of days ago, and unpack a ferocious argument. Like all good men, he likes a fight, and like all good men it is promptly forgotten. He has a quality that is admirable among men.

“He is restless and tireless, and totally uncaring for the middle-class ambitions that most of us cannot let go of, and few of us ever achieve.”

Read the full article: A restless Renaissance man

“prabel” in churumuri: Everybody loves his own Jnanpith winner

Also read: For some journalists, acting is second string in bow

Finally, Karnataka gets an acting chief minister

‘The simple pleasures of villainy have been lost’

15 July 2013

The adman cum columnist Santosh Desai pens a nostalgic tribute to Pran, in The Times of India:

“Today, villainy has for all practical purposes moved into the dimensions of the hyperreal. To be considered a villain, one has to maim, savage and disembowel a large number of people, preferably in slow motion.

“The simple pleasures of villainy—getting someone to sign a will, marrying the girl at gunpoint, succumbing to the hero’s blows after a climactic showdown involving jeep chases, cliff edges and construction sites with dynamite going off every now and then- have all been lost.

“Even the notion of the bad-turned-good has lost the power it once had, for the line between the two is irredeemably blurred today.”

Read the full article: The power of bad turned good

Does a State of the Union also need an anthem?

31 May 2013

For non-Kannadigas who snigger when when they see the red-and-yellow Kannada “flag”, there’s another red rag on the way, a Kannada “anthem”.

Like Mile sur mera tumhara, Kannada Jeevaswara, an “anthem” dedicated to the state of Karnataka and its people, has just been released. Its aim: creating a sense of belonging to this enchanting land and appreciation of the cultural heritage of Karnataka.

Credits: Concept Maya Chandra, lyrics Jayanth Kaikini, music Abhijith Shylanath, editor Rahul Dev Rajan, cinematography V.K.Subash, director Ajay Kumar.

Also read: Be the change you want to see

But to hear him, you need 3D Surround Sound

27 May 2013

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The Carnatic saxophonist Kadri Gopalnath (second from left) is all ears (and eyes) as photographer Shruthi A.N. explains the intricacies of 3D photography at the launch of a website of a 3D photo club, in Bangalore on Monday. The actor Shivaram is to his left.

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

Also read: Rudresh Mahanthappa, the Kannadiga jazzo virtuoso

Behind every stanza, a deep crease of learning

At 8th Cross, even Ganesha wants a good concert

How did Dharwad become the ground zero of music?

Where the soil, air and peda help the vocal chords

From Dharwad, India’s best shehnai player today, S. Balesh

When a wife-beater campaigns for the Congress

24 April 2013

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ARVIND SWAMINATHAN writes from San Francisco: A week is a long time in politics; it’s even longer in the film industry, where reputations are made and marred over a weekend. But in Boxoffice Bharat, the fortunes of politicians and filmstars happily and conveniently comingle and collide at the turnstile, come election time.

And so it is in Karnataka, in the year of the bhagwantha, 2013.

Twenty months ago, when “challenging star” turned challenged star Darshan Toogudeep alias Darshan, beat up his wife, stubbed a burning cigarette, tore her dress, bit her ear, threatened their son, and pulled out his revolver and landed up in hospital like a wimp feigning asthma and jaudice, an obnoxious face of the Kannada film industry was revealed.

Homas were conducted, buses were stoned, processions were taken out for his release from police detention. The angels of the industry (including ‘DuniyaVijay, whose own extraordinary marital life recently played out on live TV) put pressure on his wife to withdraw her damning complaint.

The scandal took on a visibly casteist tone, as Vokkaligas jumped into the picture. The “other woman”, Nikita Thukral, was “banned” from acting in Kannada films.

Compromise ensued after “rebel star” Ambarish intervened.

It’s payback time.

As Ambarish, the Vokkaliga leader, contests the elections in Mandya on a Congress ticket, Darshan, his supposed “successor”, is at hand, lending his voice to Sumalatha‘s. And this one picture conveys all there is to be said of the “forgiving nature” of our largely illiterate, star-struck electorate, which can barely make out the difference between art and life and probably doesn’t care.

Meanwhile, Nikita Thukral provides the opium to the unwashed masses on “Bigg Boss“.

Howdu, swami!

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

Also read: What Darshan‘s brutality says about Sandalwood

CHURUMURI POLL: Should Darshan be banned?

Darshan scandal reveals’s Kannada bias, bigotry’

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2013 election coverage

Rahul Gandhi fails five tests in Karnataka poll

They cry before the polls, so we can cry after

‘Diminishing returns from aggressive Hindutva’

Why is corruption not an issue in Karnataka?

POLL 2013: Can the Karnataka opinion polls go awry?

POLL 2013: Has A. Ramdas not supplied ‘henda‘?

It’s unofficial: our democracy has a bribe future

POLL: Should ‘item songs’ be shown on TV?

8 February 2013

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The Delhi gangrape has already seen a multiplicity of effects. A government-appointed committee has presented a report in record time. The government has moved an ordinance just two weeks ahead of a Parliament session. There is a gag order on the media reporting the court case. The I&B ministry has issued an advisory to TV stations. Etcetera.

Now, there is another unintended victim: item songs.

The central board of film certification has reportedly decreed that “item songs” will in future be graded as “A” (adult) content, which means they can no longer be shown on TV whose content otherwise is supposed to be U/A (universal/adult).

“Item songs are essentially adult content. We ourselves do not define what an item song is, but what we mean is that all those songs which are meant for adult consumption, either because of their lyrics or because of visuals, should be given adult certification,” Pankaja Thakur of CBFC is quoted as saying.

There is, of course, no direct correlation between the Delhi gangrape and item songs, but there is much to be read into the timing of the CBFC move, which otherwise was turning the blind eye for so long. The underlying belief seems to be that item songs, most of which showcase severely underdressed women in orgiastic settings, fashion the minds of youngsters and could have a deleterious effect in the long run.

Question: should item songs be shown on TV or not? Should they be shown at a specific hour, like advertisements for condoms? Or are we reading too much into its impact on young minds?

Seven things Amartya Sen told Sharmila Tagore

4 February 2013

Why do more young people read stories titled “Seven things Amartya Sen told Sharmila Tagore“?

For the same reason that more young people are interested in knowing the pet name of Hrithik Roshan than in politics or policy. Which is, because “the stupidity and the villainy of human beings is overemphasised and the ignorance is underemphasised.”

Amarya Sen, the Nobel laureate, was in conversation with Sharmila Tagore, Rabindranath Tagore‘s descendant, at the Calcutta literary meet on Saturday.

He also said, among other things:

1. One-third of Indians don’t have an electricity connection. When the newspapers hollered last year that 600 million Indians were “plunged” into darkness, what they didn’t mention was that 200 million out of those 600 million never had any power. So they were not specifically “plunged” that night, they are plunged into darkness every night.

2.  India is the only country in the world that is trying to have a health transition on the basis of a private health care that doesn’t exist. It doesn’t happen anywhere else in the world. We have an out-of-pocket system, occasionally supplemented by government hospitals but the whole trend in the world has moved towards public health systems. Even the United States has come partly under the so-called Obama Care.

3. India is a country where there is more open defecation than any other country for which data exists. Forty-eight per cent of households in India do not have toilets. That’s larger than any other country. Chad comes slightly close but no other country. The percentage of homes without toilets is 1 per cent in China, it’s only 9 or 10 per cent even in Bangladesh.

4. There is so much to be learnt from China in terms of economic growth. But not in terms of democracy… China spends 2.7 per cent of its GDP on public health care — governmental expenditure. We spend 1.2 per cent. When Jamshedji Tata was setting up Jamshedpur, he felt it’s not only an industry, it’s a municipality. He felt I have to provide free education, free health care for everyone, not only my employees but anyone in the neighbourhood.

5. China wouldn’t be a country to learn about democracy from but Brazil could be, Mexico could be. Good efficient public services with cooperation of the unions is very important for any country and since 1989 Brazil has transformed itself with that. In the same period, India has risen in per capita income but its position in living standards has declined. In South Asia, we were the second best, after Sri Lanka, and now we are the second worst, only ahead of Pakistan. I think Bangladesh has overtaken India in most of these categories, except per capita income.

6. In the 2011 February budget, the government had put in a very modest import tax on gold and diamond imports. And there was such a lot of protest that they had to withdraw that. Because that’s an organised group; a group of underfed kids is not.

7. When people say that this (rape) happens in India, it doesn’t happen in Bharat, they completely overlook the fact that Dalit girls have been violated, molested and raped over the years and there still isn’t adequate protection against that.

By the way, Hrithik Roshan’s pet name, which used to be Duggu, is H-Ro.

Read the full story: The Telegraph, Calcutta

Photograph: courtesy The Times of India

The hubby on one TV channel, biwi on the other

18 January 2013

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It’s Friday, box-office day, and there’s not a dull moment on Kannada news TV channels at the 2.30 pm matinee show.

The marital life of the Kannada film actor DuniyaVijay, who has modelled himself on the lines of Salman Khan, six-pack abs and all, is playing out on the two major news channels, TV9 and Suvarna News 24×7.

The actor’s version on the latter, his wife’s on the former.

Live, simultaneous, exclusive.

Everybody is a child to somebody or the other

9 January 2013

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At the inauguration of the 8th international children’’s film festival, the veteran actor, B. Saroja Devi, proceeds to give Puneet Rajkumar a nice little hug, in Bangalore on Wednesday.

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

Also read: An old flame ignites the media’s insensitivity

Corruption OK. Massacres OK. Romance, not OK?

Hard on the outside; soft & tender on the inside

19 December 2012

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It’s a strange world you inhabit after you step out of the limelight.

The Kannada actress Leelavathiwho rubbed shoulders with all the stellar names of the south Indian film industry—Rajkumar, MGR, NTR, Sivaji Ganesan, Kamal Haasan, Rajnikanth, Chiranjeevi—unloads the coconut crop from her farm, with son Vinod Raj in tow, at the agriculture produce market in Tumkur, near Bangalore, on Wednesday.

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

Also read: Just who are these blithering buffoons?

What Rajni missed when he went out to smoke

12 December 2012

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On his 60th birthday, school children in Bangalore hold up notebooks of the City’s most famous cinematic export: Shivaji Rao Gaekwad also known as Rajnikanth.

The books were supplied by the Rajniji Seva Samithi (RSS).

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The website First Post has published excerpts from a new biography of Rajnikanth by the film scholar Naman Ramachandran, with this passage of his relationship with Kamal Haasan.

“In the beginning, in 1975, just how big a star Kamal Haasan was, today’s generation does not know,’ says Rajinikanth. ‘He was an even bigger star in 1975 than he is now. Old or young, a new artiste had never shaken all of India like he did. I had just entered the cinema industry then.

Apoorva Raagangal, Moondru Mudichu, Avargal, these were all my guru K. Balachander’s films—I became a hero with these three films. After that the films that came, big films like 16 Vayathinile, Ilamai Oonjal Aadukirathu, Aadu Puli Attam, Aval Appadithan—these were all hit films.

“For those films, if Kamal had said, ‘Don’t cast Rajini,’ nobody would have taken me. I got Ilamai Oonjal Aadukirathu solely on Kamal’s recommendation.

“So I acted in all these films and then, after I became a big actor, one day Kamal called me and said, ‘Rajini, only if you act alone will you get your own space. If you say no, the cinema world will use us, and you won’t be able to grow.’

“I listened to all that he said. After that I worked on my own.

“Then, after I became a big man, Kamal called me again one day and said, ‘Rajini, you have to be cautious in Tamil cinema. I have seen from a young age—MGR and Sivaji, though they had no rivalry between them, the cinema industry separated them. And because the industry separated them, their fans also separated. That shouldn’t happen with us. The producers and directors I work with, you should work with them too.’

“I don’t know how to thank him.”

Rajinikanth adds, ‘In other industries, people like Mammootty, Mohan Lal, Venkatesh, Chiranjeevi, Amitabh Bachchan and even Dilip Kumar look at me and are amazed how I managed to make a name for myself as an actor in an industry where Kamal Haasan exists. The reason is simple. I grew as an actor just by watching Kamal Haasan acting. I had the good fortune of being able to observe Kamal Haasan from close quarters.

During the shooting of Avargal I was sitting outside when K. Balachander noticed this and got angry. He sent word for me to return to the set and asked me, ‘Did you go outside to smoke? Kamal is acting; observe him. Only then will your acting get even better.’

“From that time, when Kamal acted I wouldn’t go anywhere; I would just sit there and watch. This is the honest truth.”

Buy the book here: Infi Beam

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

Also read: A stylish lesson in humility from namma Rajni

11 similarities between Rajni and the iPod

A hit, yes, but why does Rajni have such a hold?

The most testing day in the life of Rajnikanth

Don’t tell us you didn’t know this one about Rajni

How Rajnikanth caught the lion

The Ravi Shankar tune India once woke up to

12 December 2012

It seems so long ago that television stations began their day at a particular hour in the morning and ended it at a particular hour in the evening allowing us to go to sleep peacefully.

Back in the days before satellite TV, Doordarshan began its proceedings at 6 am with this signature tune, a variation of  Iqbal‘s Saare jahaan se achcha, composed by Pandit Ravi Shankar with Ustad Ali Ahmed Hussain Khan.

Rest in peace.

Also read: How a TV station was launched with Rs 4 lakh

The Indian sitarist & drummer behind Take Five

7 December 2012

Dave Brubeck, the pianist in the quartet that gave Take Five to the world and “made jazz music popular again” is gone. On his outstanding website, Taj Mahal Fox Trot, the jazz aficionado and journalist Naresh Fernandes writes of how India may have played a hand in one of the world’s most identified jazz numbers.

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By NARESH FERNANDES

Ever since the tune was released in 1959, Indian jazz musicians have maintained that Take Five was the direct result of a lesson Indian jazz drummer Leslie Godinho gave Brubeck’s percussionist Joe Morello in a hotel room in Delhi in 1958.

Godinho, the story goes, taught Morello how to play the 5/4 time signature that is the foundation of Take Five….

Last year, I had the opportunity to interview Brubeck, thanks to the good offices of the excellent Nalini Jones. We spoke on the weekend of his ninetieth birthday and, most understandably, the pianist was a little hazy about the specific details of his subcontinental tour more than five decades earlier.

But he did recall that Morello was a big hit with the crowds.

Between their concerts, Brubeck and his musicians sat in with Indian jazzmen who played regularly in the restaurants that lined Churchgate Street (now Veer Nariman Road).

One evening, they jammed with the sitar Ustad Abdul Halim Jaffer Khan in the Malabar Hill home of the industrialist Pralhad Mehta, whose saxophone-playing son Nakul generously gave me this photo.

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Brubeck later described the encounter in the liner notes of one of his albums:

“The Indian musical tradition is far different from ours. It emphasises intricate rhythms and pure melody without harmony. We jazz musicians do have one element in common with the Indian musician – and that is improvisation. We were extremely fortunate to have the opportunity to ‘sit in’ with some of India’s best musicians. Of notable success was our attempt ‘to jam’ with Abdul Jaffer Khan on sitar and various Indian tabla players. We all left that given a few more days, we would either be playing Indian music or they would be playing jazz.”

In an interview with Jazz Journal International years later, Brubeck acknowledged again that his encounter with Abdul Halim Jaffer Khan had significantly changed the way he approached his music.

“His influence made me play in a different way,” the pianist said. “Although Hindu scales, melodies and harmonies are different, we understood each other…The folk origins of music aren’t far apart anywhere in the world.”

Also read: The Kannadiga jazz virtuoso creating waves

From Dharwad, India’s next best shehnai player

Can Carnatic music change the cheri pasangal?

The best Indian theme music of all time. Period.

What it takes to alert people about snake bites

30 September 2012

It’s a Hindi movie called Jan Leva 555. It’s a “romantic musical mystery thriller spanning 555 years”—and 15 songs.  It’s due for release on October 19. And it stars our very own Kalpana Pandit of  1st main road, Yadavagiri, Mysore 570020.

Produced by Kalpana Pandit, MD, a former “Miss India USA” who belongs to the Nanjangud B.V. Pandit family, the movie aims to sensitise audiences to cobra bites; proceeds from the film will apparently go to buy ventilators for cobra-bitten patients and anti-vinen research.

Kalpana’s previous Kannada flick Jo Jo Laali dwelt on HIV.

News reports say Jan Leva 555 also stars Anant Nag in a Hindi film after two decades and Vyjayanthimala Bali (who was herself married to a doctor) after 42 years.

The Marimallappa’s college and Mysore medical college alum, who is a emergency doctor in Arizona, had previously acted in M.F. Husain‘s Gajagamini.

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Visit the Facebook page: Jan Leva 555

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Photograph: courtesy Indian Masala

Also read: Namma Nafisa owes it all to Nanjungud hallu pudi

All that namma hudugi has to do khuda ke liye

The best actor in the history of Hindi cinema is…

27 July 2012

Indian film fans and critics and “writers” can barely think beyond Dilip Kumar, Amitabh Bachchan, Kamal Hassan, Rajesh Khanna, et al when talking of the “greatest actor” produced by Bombay’s film “industry”.

The writer and academic Mukul Kesavan undertakes the necessary course-correction in The Telegraph, Calcutta:

Waheeda Rehman is, by some distance, the best actor produced by Bombay’s film industry in the 1950s and 1960s, and arguably the best actor in the history of Hindi cinema….

“While Guru Dutt is crucial to Waheeda Rehman’s stardom, her roles in his films are circumscribed by his narcissism. Her main task is to look ravishingly beautiful and this she does. It is to Guru Dutt’s credit that he frames her in ways that highlight her loveliness. But that is her role in his films; she’s a lovely prop.

“She is there so that the Guru Dutt character can be reliably loved by someone beautiful while he works his way through several sorts of male angst. It is a tribute to her abilities as an actor that within these constraints she comes across as a believable character.

“Waheeda Rehman is Hindi cinema’s greatest actor but it is a mistake to make that claim, as often happens, on the basis of her work in Guru Dutt’s films. Guru Dutt sprinkled her with stardust; as an actor, she made herself.”

Read the full article: An actor of genius

Also read: Conceited, egotistical, narcissistic, the greatest?

The sexiest South Indian actress is…

Satanic Curse if you ogle at this maami

Will an Ilayaraja song open London Olympics?

26 June 2012

Naanthaan ungappanda (Tamil for I am your father), a song composed by Ilayaraja for the 1981 Kamal Haasan film Ram Laxman, and sung by S.P. Balasubramanyam, is reported to be part of the playlist for the opening ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics, being directed by Slumdog Millionaire director Danny Boyle.

Boyle has recreated a London countryside for the opening ceremony and Ilayaraja’s number is said to be based on a folk number. Boyle had gone with A.R. Rahman for the Oscar-sweeeping film Slumdog, whose signature track Jai Ho was sung by the Mysorean, Vijay Prakash.

Read the full article: Ilayaraja opening for London 2012
Also read: And oh! we forgot the actress from the Punjab

Can Veena Malik get as ‘dirty’ as Vidya Balan?

25 May 2012

The Pakistani “actress” Veena Malik, who has arguably done more for people-to-people contact with Pakistan than all the mavens of the ministry of external affairs put together, arrives for a press conference to announce the launch of her debut Kannada film Dirty, in Bangalore on Friday (top). Below, Malik is welcomed with a bagina.

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

Also read: They gave us Veena Malik, we gave them Dhanush

An open letter to Aamir Khan from a Kannadiga

11 May 2012

VASANT SHETTY pens a letter to Aamir Khan on the undemocratic ban on the dubbed version of his Sunday morning TV show  Satyamev Jayate programme from being shown on Kannada television channels.

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To
Aamir Khan
5 Marina Apartments
Pali hill, Bandra West
Mumbai 400050

Dear Aamir Khan,

Congratulations on your successful TV debut with Satyamev Jayate and a huge round of applause for touching upon a topic as sensitive and heart rendering as female foeticide in the very first episode.

You even went a step further by meeting the Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot and requesting him for a fast track court to bring the killer doctors to justice at the earliest.

To me, you seem to be a man committed to bring social change in India and I truly appreciate your efforts.

You may have 12 different issues to highlight in the weeks to come, but today I am writing this letter to you to highlight the highly undemocratic ban on dubbing content to Kannada that is affecting millions of Kannadigas living in Karnataka and elsewhere.

Let me explain this.

As you know, there is an unconstitutional and undemocratic ban imposed on dubbing content to Kannada by a few trade organisations in the name of protecting culture. Due to this ban, the dubbed version of the first episode of your programme was not telecast on Suvarna TV.

Earlier, thousands of people like me wrote to you on Twitter and Facebook requesting you to get this ban on dubbing your Satyamev Jayate to Kannada removed. As a result of that, you wrote a letter to Karnataka Film Chamber of Commerce (KFCC) requesting them to let your programme in Kannada on Suvarna TV but we have not heard about the response of KFCC to your letter.

Suvarna TV uploaded the Kannada webcast of the first episode of your programme on Youtube three days ago.

The video received 30,000 views in just three days busting all myths around lack of demand for dubbed content in Kannada and even sealing the mouth of all those naysayers in Kannada film / TV industry who ridiculed demand for dubbed content in Kannada as fringe.

But yesterday, even this video on Youtube was taken off by Suvarna TV.

From the circumstances, Kannadigas feel that this might have been done because of the pressure put by the same anti-dubbing associations, who were scared after seeing the popularity of the video. With that, even Internet is under seige in Karnataka, where a few private people decide what people should watch and in which language.

A lot of people who believe in democracy, the Constitution, and the freedom to choose are again writing to you to know how on earth a content creating social awareness be banned even on Internet just because it was dubbed from Hindi to Kannada?

Aamir, if you truly believe in transforming a society, bringing a social change, it’s time for you to talk and act.

Please raise your voice supporting the legitimate demand of Kannadigas demanding knowledge and entertainment in their mother tongue.

Please stand  up and say that in this free country, every individual has freedom to watch any cinema, any TV program in any language of their choice and no vested interest should dictate terms to voiceless citizens in the name of guarding culture.

For four decades Kannadigas have been deprived of knowledge and entertainment in their language of choice due to this illegal ban on dubbing and now will Satyamev Jayate change that?

After all, truth alone should prevail.

Thank you
A Kannadiga

Also read: Talibanisation of Kannada cinema, television

Talibanisation of Kannada cinema and television

26 April 2012

VASANT SHETTY writes from Bangalore: Aamir Khan announced his entry into the small screen with “Satya Meva Jayate” a few days ago. The program was planned to be aired in several Indian languages including Kannada on Star India’s network channels.

In Kannada, Suvarna, the general entertainment channel owned by Rajeev Chandrasekhar, was supposed to air this program from May 6.

Now, this program will be telecasted in Hindi, Telugu and Tamil while Kannada gets dropped from the list, thanks to the ban on dubbing imposed by a few sundry private organisations in the name of protecting Kannada language and culture.

The same associations which ransacked the office of Zee Kannada last year protesting its move to air a voice-dubbed program on Jhansi Rani Laxmibai are at it again. Fortunately, this time Suvarna backed off before the associations took law into their hands.

This brings us to the question: Who are these organisations to ban anything in a constitutional democracy?

In a civilised democratic society, there is no place for bans of any kind even if it is imposed by an elected government. In a democracy, I, as a consumer, have every right to demand all sources of knowledge and entertainment in a language of my choice as long as my demands are within the limits of law.

Like me, there are lakhs of Kannadigas who may want to watch a Disney character speaking in Kannada, or a Discovery, Animal Planet program on Amazon forests being aired in Kannada, or watching Avatar 3D in Kannada. Why am I being denied my rightful access to all these in a language of my choice?

Has Karnataka ceased to be a democratic State any more?

Has it become a banana republic where unelected feudal people rule the roost?

Have you seen something similar in any other cinema industry?

Like any other trade, the trade of cinema runs on supply and demand. Where there is a demand for certain products and services, there will be suppliers willing to supply them for profit.

Plain and simple?

Sadly, it isn’t the case with Kannada cinema and television industry.

It runs on Taliban-like fatwas to TV channels to not air the dubbed content than going by the merits/demerits of demand for dubbed content in the market. It runs by sucking tax payers money in the form of subsidies offered to almost 60% of films made every year than going through the test of markets. And it also runs on blaming government for its failures day in and day out.

The Kannada cinema and television industry has failed to internalise the fact that it is a for-profit industry run by private individuals and not some government-funded public goods with a charitable motive.

The Kannada film industry, though small in size has bigger social impact when it comes to cinema as a linguistic register. Kannada films have a decisive role in keeping the language on the tongues of young Kannadigas.

The undemocratic and unconstitutional ban on dubbing has made sure that in a fast globalising world, Kannadigas are left with very little choice of knowledge and entertainment shows offered in Kannada. Except for the boring soap operas, fighting news channels, and macchu-kocchu movies, I do not have anything in Kannada that tickles my senses.

The Telugu, Tamil and Hindi cinema industries where no such dubbing ban exists, have way bigger market size in both cinema and television sector and are offering clear lessons on the importance of doing away with such undemocratic bans.

The media in Karnataka have a bigger role in building a narrative of how this ban on dubbing is turning out to be detrimental for the future of Kannada by engaging in debates, discussions involving everyone,most importantly the consumer who holds the purse strings deciding the future of everyone involved.

One rule for ordinary Indians, another for SRK?

19 April 2012

The temporary detention of questioning of the actor Shah Rukh Khan by immigration authorities in the United States has, as is usual, created a small tsunami in the media tea cup. Everybody went into a frenzy and the external affairs minister S.M. Krishna adjusted his wig and demanded an apology.

Shashi Baliga has some searching questions in The Hindu Business Line:

“Why should US Immigration treat Shah Rukh or any other star or celebrity differently from you and me? And why should the MEA demand an apology in this case and not on behalf of thousands of other Indians who are similarly singled out?

“News is that Shah Rukh is seething at the “humiliation”, especially since the others travelling with him — among them industrialist Mukesh Ambani‘s wife Nita Ambani, who was accompanying him to Yale — were cleared without a problem.

“Would it help him to know that thousands of other Indians have undergone a similar experience?

“Actor Irrfan Khan, who is actually more widely recognised in the US because of his many roles in Hollywood movies, has been detained more than once because of his surname. Irrfan has taken it in his stride, Shah Rukh decided to talk about it.

“Because that is Shah Rukh’s I-take-things-head-on style.

“And because superstars don’t take kindly to obstructions in their path.

“Film stars are our new royalty; they are used to sweeping grandly through doors held open for them, protected by their mobile entourage, much like the maharajas of old. They are accustomed to people fawning over them, fighting to offer them gifts, begging for an audience in the manner maharajahs’ subjects used to. Many of their nicknames are telling — King Khan and Badshah of Bollywood for Shah Rukh, Shahenshah for Amitabh Bachchan.

“They live life king-like, if not king-size. Many of us travelling on an Indian passport have been asked to undergo a body scan or an extra search at airports abroad. Problem is, here in apna Bharat, there is so much bowing and scraping before ‘big names’ who get so accustomed to rules being bent or at least disregarded for them that they expect the same everywhere else.”

Read the full article: Mujhe pehachano, mein hoon Don

If only Girish Kasaravalli was a Bengali auteur

2 April 2012

He doesn’t crow about his feats, appear on magazine covers, or give loud interviews. Why, even in the 21st century, he has the utter indecency to make films with a total budget of Rs 35 lakh (Aamir Khan‘s Lagaan had a marketing budget of Rs 1 crore; Rajnikanth‘s Robot cost over Rs 100 crore).

Yet, staggeringly, the Kannada film maker Girish Kasavaralli has quietly accumulated six national awards for his portrayal of the social landscape, winning  a Swarna Kamal in each of the last four decades—for Tabarana Kathe (1986), Thaayi Saheba (1997), Dweepa (2001), Kurmavatara (2012).

The 61-year-old auteur in an Q&A in The Hindu:

What according to you is a political film?

Political films are not necessarily those that are made about politics, but anything that subverts our perception. No one can make a politically free statement, which is naive or contradictory in nature. The movie “Bairi” is a classic example where institutionalisation of religion is portrayed. What forms our perception by viewing it makes it a political or a non-political film.

Photograph: courtesy The Tribune

Also read: Why national media avoids national awards

When last did both “Bests” hail from the same State?

‘If we are fated to die, no one can stop it…’

Has Bollywood wrecked our film sensibilities?

5 reasons why South India is better than North?

30 March 2012

The columnist Aakar Patel has recently moved to Bangalore from Bombay. He writes in Mint on why he prefers south India to north India, and south Indians to north Indians. And lists five reasons for this: music, religion, tolerance, intellectualism and language.

1) South Indians have a written classical music. This has enormous implications. It separates them from north Indians who have no canon of music. The average southerner can assess a performance of his classical music better than the average northerner can…. To appreciate Hindustani music other than instinctively, a northerner must study the deep form of his music, which few can.

2) South India’s high culture has little influence of Islam. It is Hindu culture, not a mix. There is not as much secular music in Carnatic as there is in Hindustani. There’s no equivalent of “Ganga Jamuni”, as the northerner refers to his high culture, a mix of Hindu tradition and the aristocratic Perso-Arabic tradition produced during Muslim rule. This might be seen as a bad thing. But the south Indian is actually quite tolerant.

3) The third thing is southern tolerance. Unlike the Baniya’s, the southern Brahmin’s vegetarianism isn’t oppressive. The intolerant and insular Gujaratis and Marwaris of Malabar Hill have banished all meat from their neighbourhoods. There is little sign of such horror of pork and beef eaters around where I live. This may be because the area is not a traditional Brahmin neighbourhood. But generally speaking, the Gujarati’s fanaticism against meat is absent.

4) South’s urban culture is more intellectual. My hypothesis is that this is so because its culture is dominated by the Brahmin. I like keeping the company of Brahmins, I must admit. When I listen to intelligent conversation in Bangalore and look around the table, they dominate. People like U.R. Ananthamurthy would not be treasured in another culture as they are in Bangalore. It seems to me that civic life here is more intellectual, and certainly it strives to be more intellectual than in Gujarat or Maharashtra.

5) The commonly found ability of south Indians to speak another (southern) state’s language. This comes from proximity more than from any pressing desire to be multicultural. But it shows the southerner’s openness, and even his canon of sacred music includes songs from another state, in another’s language.

Read the full article: Why it is better to live in the South

Also by Aakar Patel: Indian journalism is uniformly second-rate

Advani offers nothing creative, only resentment


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