Sunday, July 26, 2015

Moview Review: Masaan

The Story Frame:

Image Courtesy:
Masaan is the story of four lovers and their challenges they face in materializing their love in the so called conservative society. The modern days's gadgets and technology plays a vital role in expressing their love but it fails to help them sail through the challenges posed by the very society who created these technologies and new conveniences to bond with each other.  Masaan has already earned its accolades in Cannes by winning awards and is on the journey to earn more on its own land India. It has already wooed Bollywood and its veterans by its sheer beautiful portrayal. It has a fabulous and talented star cast and new comers who has given power packed performances. It has raised the bar of cinema one notch higher.

Cast: Richa Chadda (Devi), Vicky Kaushal (Deepak), Sanjay Mishra (Vidyadhar Pathak), Nikhil Sahni, Shweta Tripathi (Shalu), Pankaj Tripathi, Bhagwan Tiwari, Bhupesh Singh, Satyakam Anand

Genre: Romance & Drama

Direction: Neeraj Ghaywan

Produced by: Vikas Bahl, Melita Toscan du Plantier, Anurag Kashyap, Guneet Monga, Vikramaditya Motwane, Manish Mundra, Marie-Jeanne Pascal, Shaan Vyas

Production Company: Drishyam Films, Macassar Productions, Phantom Films, Sikhya Entertainment

Written by: Neeraj Ghaywan & Varun Grover

Cinematographer: Avinash Arun Dhaware

Production Designer: Ranjit Singh

Costume Designer: Shruti Kapoor

Music: Indian Ocean

Lyrics: Varun Grover

Film Editing by: Nitin Baid

Theatre Release: 24th July, 2015 (Screened at Cannes 19th May 2015)

Language: Hindi

Duration:  109 minutes

Reviewer's Thumb Mark

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 Masaan (crematorium) - Life... Death... everything in between is what Neeraj Ghaywan depicts through the film Masaan. From the blazing pyre to the heavenly abode when the soul free itself from the shackles of human vices of caste discrimination, religious customs, good & bad, rights and wrongs ... maybe it might be hoping to come back to see a world sans all these complexities it has experienced.  Masaan  is a story of two tragic love stories that runs parallel entwining four characters Devi & Piyush, and  Shalu & Deepak.

The film begins with Devi watching a porn clip on her computer and later being caught in a hotel raid red hand with her boyfriend in her quest to quench her curiosity. The raid's after effects haunts Devi and her father, Vidhyadhar Pathak, as a nightmare because of a local police officer who tries to extort money from them to not to drag them into legal complications.   

Richa Chadda as Devi has given a compelling performance in a deglamourized role. She brings in a kind of originality in the depiction of the character by her body language and dialogue, which shows her tremendous caliber as an actress. Richa Chadda's Masaan shall definitely be remembered and referred as one of her milestones in her acting career. Devi is unapologetic, rebellious, freedom loving, calm and shows immense resilience and courage to sail through the storm in her life to make her mark in this conservative and moralistic society. Devi symbolizes all girls across the country who struggles for freedom and for their silent but bold fight against the so called watchdogs of the society and religion.

Sanjay Misra, as Vidhyadhar Pathak  touches your heart by playing the role of a helpless father who succumbs to the exploitation of a shrewd police officer. His vulnerability and susceptibility as a protective and loving father is so well portrayed that the audience is full of awe for this remarkable actor. A man who once was a Sanskrit professor lives with his daughter and makes a living in his old age as a pundit selling materials for religious rituals and engaging himself as a translator of books for some local publishers. His bonding with his protege 'Jonta' (Nikhil Sahni) a small boy on the ghats who helps him to bring customers to his shop is fabulous. Vidhyadhar and Jonta has some beautiful laughable moments as well as  scenes where you watch them with moist eyes. I would restrain myself to reveal those moments for you to watch on screen.

Sanjay Misra is on a high and draws a large number of fan following. I remember meeting him at Delhi in the 6th Jagran Film Festival during the screening of Masaan, where while answering to a query on what is the secret of his power packed performances?, he said that he is 'alive' (Main Zinda Hun) and that makes him perform. After seeing Masaan, I feel it is so true what he said, he can bring life to any character he portrays to the extent that the character stays with you even after the movie ends. Vidhyadhar Pathak is one such character. Sanjay Misra is on the path of being revered and adored as one of the finest actors the world cinema is experiencing.

Vicky Kaushal as Deepak in the second story wins your heart by his charm. He is the new find of Bollywood who is going to make many hearts beat for him. His debut promises that he is an actor who is here to stay for long. Deepak's innocence and at the same time his identity as a lower caste Dom boy make you smile, laugh and cry with him. There are certain moments of innocence depicted so effortlessly by Vicky like : when he tells his lady love, Shaalu, " Abh tho hum friend hi na" and when he says " Abh yeh Nida Fasli kaun hi?"  It is beautiful to see Deepak drawing courage and support from his bunch of friends who are partners in all his love adventures and creativity he does to express his love to Shaalu but it is also quite evident that they too are caught up with the reality of their society and fear it; they tell him that Shaalu is an upper caste girl, therefore, "Jyaada Senti venti nahi hona" (Beware, do not be too sentimental). Deepak's effort to break free from the shackles of his traditional family profession of burning dead bodies on the ghats of Benaras and become an engineer is inspiring and at the same time his getting haunted by the reality of being a lower caste which is a barrier to his love is heartrending to watch.

Shaalu Gupta's role is donned by the lovely and beautiful Swetha Tripathi. Her love for poetries of Dushyant Kumar, Ghalib, Nida Fazli, Bashir Badr, Akbar Allahabadi and her pristine love for Deepak makes you fall in love with her. Swetha brings in a kind of freshness to the lovebirds portrayed in Bollywood these days. There are some awesome scenes where you simply admire her for her acting like when she tells Deepak' "Tum Bahuth Buddoo Ho" and when she looks up to see the red balloon float above the market fair. When you want more of these two lovers you go through a jolt which leaves you speechless. Swetha Tripathi as Shaalu stays with you even when you leave the theater with her beautiful lines on screen - " Tu Kisi Rail Si Guzarti Hi, Main Kisi Pool Sa Thartaratha Hun..."  

What happens to Masaan's two love stories that are run parallely in the end, is something you need to find in a nearby theatre. Neeraj Ghaywan deserves all the accolades he is receiving for his fantastic movie. Masaan has already added a few feather on its cap at 68th Cannes International Film Festival 2015 - International Federation of Film Critics Award (FIPRESCI) and Prix de I'Avenir 'Most Promising Newcomer' Award for Neeraj Ghaywan in the Un Certain Regard section.

Varun Grover's lyrics clubbed with Indian Ocean's music soothes and touches your heart. It works as the soul of the movie. Avinash Arun Dhaware's cinematography is fabulous and eye catching. It is commendable, impressive and gives us a new feel of the ghats.

In the end, for me Masaan's Cannes' edition was more appealing because there were certain scenes that added more value to the whole plot which is missing in the Indian edition, well Neeraj may have his own reasons and compulsions to edit them. But still it is definitely a must watch.

How I wish that Masaan could have also explored with the possibility of  materializing one of the love story so that it could have directly challenged the so called conservative society.

Watch Masaan and I am sure you will carry a balloon way back to your home and shall set it free before you enter it to watch your love to see it.

Life Connoisseur Movie Rating: 3.5/5

Monday, July 20, 2015

A Rendezvous With Praveen Morchhale (Filmmaker- 'Barefoot To Goa)

I along with Praveen Morchhale & Bindu Cherungath at Essex Farms, Delhi
I got a message late night day before yesterday (19th July, 2015) on facebook Messenger 'We will meet tomorrow'; I had to really push and shoo away the darkness out of my bedroom for the first sun rays to hit my window pane so as to catch-up with Praveen Morchhale the talented filmmaker who offered us a beautiful movie 'Barefoot To Goa" which was released on 10th April, 2015. It is the first ever commercially released movie by 238 'Proud Funders' (Praveen Morchhale love to address the contributors as Proud Funders) from fifteen countries.

A similar message and call was received by my friend and colleague Bindu Cherungath (a film critic, blogger and my business partner in Insignia Solutions Private Limited)  and catching up with her yesterday in office and waiting impatiently to fix a time and place with Praveen Morchhale was something which both of us wanted to happen as quickly as possible.

And finally we had our rendezvous with Praveen Morchhale at Essex Farms, Aurobindo Marg, Delhi. Praveen is unpretentious in real life like his movies. An unofficial meeting with a cup of coffee which I assumed to end with an hour, beautifully extended to more than five hours with coffee, tea, spring rolls and chilli potatoes served in regular intervals while we savored on his film making experience, his view on world cinema, kind of film makers, different genres of movies, the industry...

As his film 'Barefoot To Goa' is a reminder for us that it is relationships and its values that make our life happy, so is Praveen Morchhale who believes in what he depicts on screen. Praveen believes in conveying positive messages in life. He says why we are obsessed and stuck up with the negativities of life, there is so much positivity in life and why not portray them. Barefoot was a humble attempt in this regard and he is immensely happy to get a wonderful response for his movie and the kind of positive buzz it generated among cinema lovers.

Hearing about some of his plots which are yet to be made into movies and some in the pipeline were quite insightful and inspiring for the kind of message he intend to convey which are so realistic and relevant to the contemporary society. I wish may his craft, passion and astuteness in making socially relevant films be a trendsetter for the industry and the world of cinemas.

His days in IRMA (Institute of Rural Management Anand) as a student, his adventures and misadventures with his gang of friends, how they scored marks and the kind of relations he had with his professors and the late night Hindi poem rendition in the hostel room by one of his professor were all part of this rendezvous. The positive influence of his father 
( a medical practitioner) in his life added a very personal touch to our talks.

Time to bid adieu

Some days of our life are very special, beautiful, full of new learning and an opportunity for unlearning. It also seems to be specially customized for us only. And yesterday was one of them for me with Praveen Morchhale and my friend Bindu Cherungath. Though, we also missed our good friend Prashanth Sehgal (another excellent filmmaker).

As Paulo Coelho the Brazilian writer says, "When you want something , all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it. Be brave. Take risks. Nothing can substitute experience"; listening to Praveen Morchhale's life and experience was a reiteration and reaffirmation of what Paulo Coelho says.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Movie Review of Bajrangi Bhaijaan

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The Story Frame:

Bajrangi Bhaijaan is a story of a mute girl who is accompanied by her mother to the wish fulfillment Hazrat Nizamuddin dargah in Delhi hoping for a miracle to happen that would make her able to speak. The story takes a turn when the mute girl is stranded in India alone and how she comes in contact with a villager who is an ardent devout of Bajrangbali. The film holds you in suspense whether the girl will ever be united with her parents who leaves in a not-so-friendly country called Pakistan.

Cast: Salman Khan (Pawan Kumar Chaturvedi), Kareena Kapoor Khan (Rasika), Nawazuddin Siddiqui (Chand Nawab), Harshaali Malhotra (Shahida), Sharat Saxena (Dayanand), Om Puri (Maulana), Rajesh Sharma (Police Officer)

Genre: Drama

Direction: Kabir Khan

Produced by: Salman Khan, Rockline Venkatesh

Production Company: Salman Khan Films, Kabir Khan Films

Story by: V Vijayendra Prasad

Cinematographer: Aseem Mishra

Music: Pritam Chakraborty, Komail Shayan, Julius Packiam

Film Editing by: Rameshwar S. Bhagat

Distributors : Eros International

Theatre Release: 17th July, 2015

Language: Hindi

Duration: 159 minutes

Reviewer's Thumb Mark

Bajrangi Baijaan stands apart from the rest of the recent past releases of Salman Khan. One may not find Salman Khan's six abs being flaunted and the shirt-ripping biceps, and Sallu appearing on a customized expensive sport bike from the blues in this movie. The credit goes to Kabir Khan for his craft and astuteness in keeping away the usual Salman Khan histrionics and often repeated super-hero acts from this movie. It seems it has worked in favour of the movie in drawing in people outside the hard-core Sallu fan club into the theatres. Kabir Khan once again strikes the right chord with cinema lovers after Kabul Express, New York and Ek Tha Tiger.

Bajrangi Bhaijaan is the story of a speech-impaired girl Munni (Harshaali Malhotra) from a nondescript village in Pakistan, who finds herself lost on other side of her country's border. Pawan Kumar Chaturvedi aka Bajrangi Bhaijaan turns guardian angel for this six-year old girl who clings on to him for he is the only one, whom she can trust. Pawan, a devout Hanuman bakht, relies completely on 'Bajrangbali' for whatever he thinks, speaks and acts. Bajrangi Bhaijaan's act of bowing before every monkey with folded hands everytime he come across one and addressing it as Bajrangbali is real fun. The bus ride of Pawan from his village Pratapgarh in Haryana narrating his reason to visit Delhi is quite hillarious; especially his life with his father. According to Pawan, his father a school master always wanted him to be an all-rounder. And Pawan repeatedly disappointed him in all those fields he was made to enrol by his father - Wrestling, attending Shakha (Hindu Outfit), Education etc., and when he finally qualifies in his school exam his father fails him by being contained in  a garlanded photo frame hung on the wall.

When the newspaper headlines speaks of cross-border tensions and visa rows in our day-to-day life, here in this movie Bajrangi Bhaijaan dares to cross the border to reunite a hapless mute girl with her family, brazing all odds - religious, familial and societal constraints. This film is worth mentioning because it is distinct in its portrayal by staying away from the usual jingoism and  being rhetorical against the neighboring country. And Salman Khan blends very well in his act as Bajrangi Bhaijaan, who struggles with his religious and ritualistic beliefs to stay committed to his vow to make Munni reach her country by 'Being Human'.

Kareena Kapoor as Pawan Chaturvedi's father's friend's daughter has nothing much to offer in this film but she is the source of strength to Bajrangi to go ahead with his determination to safe-guard Munni. She has a near cameo appearance in Bajrangi Bhaijaan. The film generates quite many laughable moments when the duo (Rasika & Pawan) tries to decode the identity of Munni.  For instance, there are some scenes where Pawan says that Munni could be a Brahmin because she is too fair and in another scene where he finds Munni having fried chicken at his neighbour's home, a shell-shocked Pawan tells Rasika that she might be a Kshatriya because they eat meat and also have fair skin. The film depicts the religious prejudices we hold in our daily life beautifully by walking on a tight rope of not hurting religious sentiments. It's interesting to watch Rasika's (Kareena Kapoor) and Pawan's love blossoming under the watchful eyes of Dayanandji (Sharat Saxena) Rasika's father. There is no 'fevicol' item songs and it is definitely a well thought decision to keep such distractions away at least in this movie.

When the movie is about to drag the entry of Chand Nawab (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) as a small time TV reporter brings in fresh energy by his amazing performances in the second half. Chand Nawab is funny at the same time a trusted companion who is impressed by the selfless act of Pawan whom he christens as 'Bajrangi Bhaijaan'. The duo's dialogues are thought provoking, like in one of the scene Chand Nawab asks Pawan that who will help him in a foreign land like Pakistan? As expected from an ardent devout like Pawan, he tells Chand Nawab  that his Bajrangbali will help him (Bajrangi hummari madad karenga). Chand Nawab unable to resist from laughing asks Pawan - "Yahan Pakistan mai bhi" (Even in Pakistan?). Chand Nawab who was never taken seriously by his employers catches both the countries' attention by his video clip that goes viral. Chand Nawab and Bajrangi Bhaijaan in the safe hands of an ace director like Kabir Khan manages to make the viewers overlook huge loop holes in the plot. In the second half, logic takes a back seat but I think the viewers may not mind it because they know it's Bhai's film.

The real star of the movie is Harshaali Malhotra who plays the role of Munni aka Shahida from Pakistan. Harshalli's innocence and her angelic expressions catch the viewers attention. She is the soul of the movie and the real showstopper.
There are some characters who are worth mentioning and they are - Meher Vij who plays the role of the mother of Munni. She moves you by her act. Her grief of losing her daughter and she being so inconsolable makes you struggle to hide your tears that appears at the corner of your eyes; Om Puri as the Maulana, exudes positivity by being open to appreciate the culture and pleasantries of his neighboring country.

'Bhar Do Jholi Meri" qawalli by Adnan Sami is good.

The most significant twist is the climax of the movie and I would suggest you to savor it in a nearby theatre because I have no intentions to spill the beans. A word of caution - "Please keep your thinking hats home to enjoy the message conveyed through Bajrangi Bhaijaan".

In short, Bajrangi Bhaijaan is definitely an entertainer with a strong socially relevant message for the brethren - Indians and the Pakistanis. Watch this movie because this year Sallu's Eidi is too tempting. It dares to bridge the gap between religions, food preferences, castes and nationalities. How I wish and pray that let it be so in reel and real life too.

Life Connoisseur Movie Rating: 3.5/5

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

The Curtain Falls with 'Kaun Kitney Panee Mein': 6th Jagran Film Festival, 1st to 5th July, 2015

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Closing Film of 6th Jagran Film Festival
All good things come to an end, though temporarily; when it ends a void is created - you start missing the best movies, meetings and interactions with film personalities and movie buffs like you. The 6th Jagran Film Festival ended with the screening of film 'Kaun Kitney Panee Mein' by Director Nila Madhab Panda. It was well attended by the delegates and its star casts along with the rest of the team of 'Kaun Kitney Panee Mein'.

Prashant, the DGM Jagran Brand
Prashant, the DGM Jagran Brand, welcomed everyone and said that he was very happy with Delhi this year, particularly in comparison to his last five years of experience. He said he was personally overwhelmed by the tremendous response and attendance Jagran Film Festival received this year. He said more than 18000 cinema lovers attended the five-day film festival with 80-90% occupancy. He also added that the response received has motivated the team to showcase more regional films next July, 2016 during the 7th film festival. The announcement received cheers from the delegates assembled.

Manoj Srivastav, the Strategic Consultant of Jagran took over from him and shared that the film festival screened 105 films during this five-day fest and their next destination is Lucknow and Kanpur. He said the journey of this film festival shall culminate in Mumbai, where the Board of Jury will declare the awards under 16 categories. The Jury Members are renowned film editor Sreekar Prasad, ad-director and cinematographer Mahesh Aney, music sensation Udit Narayan, Bollywood filmmaker Pooja Bhatt and the Malayalam film icon and the chairman of the Jury Hariharan.

Manoj Srivastav, the Strategic Consultant of Jagran
Manoj in his address also said that he was very happy to screen 'Kaun Kitney Panee Mein' as the closing film of 6th Jagran Film Festival because last year they chose the film 'Water' and the group has taken the social cause of water scarcity in our country seriously. And 'Kaun Kitney Panee Mein' is the natural choice that comes to one's mind to generate awareness about how valuable 'water' as a resource is to survive on this planet.

Vinod Srivastav, General Manager Jagran Prakashan
Vinod Srivastav, General Manager Jagran Prakashan, felicitated the the team of 'Kaun Kitney Panee Mein' on stage. Veteran actors like Saurabh Shukla, Gulshan Grower, the film Director Nila Madhab Panda, the lead actor Kunal Kapoor were felicitated. The lead actress Radhika Apte was missed by the delegates and it was also raised by one of them. The Director shared that Radhika wanted to come but then she had a play in Mumbai. The film is scheduled to be released across the country on 21st August, 2015.

Nila Madhab Panda, the Director of 'Kaun Kitney Panee Mein'
Nila Madhab Panda, the Director of 'Kaun Kitney Panee Mein', said that the film is the story of a village in western Odisha, where the villagers had almost lived for three decades struggling with water scarcity. He said that he has dealt this story in a satirical manner and hoped that the audience will love the film.

Gulshan Grover
Gulshan Grover, popularly known as the  bad man was applauded  the moment he took the podium to interact with the delegates. One could hear one of the audience say loudly 'The Bad Man'. Gulshan appreciated Jagran Film Festival for being one of the most unusual kind of film fest that has the courage to take films to those cities where big shows are not held so often. The group has dared to promote and help reach good movies to people. He shared that the film 'Kaun Kitney Panee Mein' is very important for him because it has a social cause. He also shared his experience of working with Nila Madhab Panda for 'I am Kalam'. According to him, Nila Madhab Panda as a director has always tried to come up with socially relevant films.

Gulshan Grover
Gulshan Grover told the delegates that he was in LA last day and he was fortunate enough to be here to attend the fest because his shoot was wrapped up on time. He expressed his excitement to watch the film with all the delegates because he hasn't seen a single frame of the movie and therefore, it is too special for him to be here.

Saurabh Shukla
Saurabh Shukla, in his comical style asked to once again applaud for him on stage which generated laughter and people cheered for him. He said he is going to see the film for the first time after the shoot and therefore, it is like meeting your girlfriend for the first time and he is curious to know whether the girl likes him or not. Saurabh said he was busy shooting for Pk, Badlapur and for some other movies as well, eating, drinking, enjoying with co-actors and filmmakers- though all the experiences were good but 'Kaun Kitney Panee Mein' is the cherry on the cake for him. He said it is because Nila Madhab Panda has picturized a true story of Orissa and he said that he believes the movie will catch the attention of the people.

Kunal Kapoor
Kunal Kapoor, the lead actor in this film, while interacting with the delegates hhared that 'Kaun Kitne Paani Mei' has been a really unique film for him too. He said it comes from a world Nila Madhab Panda has experienced and a world he has never seen before. So it is very special for him.

Divya Dutta
Divya Dutta, who was there with Sreeram Raghavan at Jagran Film Festival for the screening of her film Badlapur, was asked by Vinod Srivastav to say a few words in regard to her experience with Jagran Film Festival. Divya Dutta told that she had travelled city to city taking films with Jagran. And she also said that she was happy personally to be associated with this kind of initiative. She ended her interaction with a beautiful shayari - "Jis raah mei kadam rakhe hi....'

Piyush Misra
Piyush Misra was also requested to say few words about his experience about the film festival. Piyush Misra was there to be part of his film's screening 'Playback Singer'. He in his activist and theatrical style said - "What can I say about being here, rather I am thoroughly enjoying(Bahut Mazaa aaraha hi). Inquilab Zindabad!" People urged him to sing but he humbly declined because he said he just sang in another hall for the audience after his film's (Playback Singer) screening.
Manoj, Gulshan, Nila, Saurabh, Kunal & Vinod
Vinod Srivastav in his thank you note reminisced the journey of Jagran Film Festival from the days of writing its happening on a white board to the present day. He was proud to be associated with this group since its beginning. He thanked all the delegates for promoting the the film festival and also wished them to have a very happy viewing of the 6th Jagran film Festival's closing film 'Kaun Kitney Panee Mein' with its star casts.
'Kaun Kitney Panee Mein' is the story of two villages which were divided based on caste and its customs. Both the villages has a common story for their motive behind each act they do against each other and that is the merciless killing of two lovers - Lakshmi and Dora by the then ruthless king. It beautifully and satirically depicts the haves and have-nots fight for supremacy culturally and economically. Will history rpeat and if will there be any twist this time is something to be watched and relished in a nearby theatre when the film soon hits the theatres by next month.

Post Screening and Q & A Session

Prashant, Nila Madhab Panda (Director of Kaun Kitne Panne Mein), Me & Bindu
The entire star cast was there on the stage to answer questions raised by the delegates. There were less questions and more appreciation for the way Nila Madhab Panda and team handled the story.

The team also expressed wonderful bonhomie on stage, which was actually seen on screen and in the final outcome of the movie.

Screening: Badlapur

Image Courtesy:
There was100% occupancy in the auditorium to watch Badlapur. Most of them were repeat viewers.Sreeram Raghavan, the Director and Divya Dutta added more enthusiasm to the delegates.

Sreeram Raghavan & Divya Dutta
Sreeram Raghavan  said that he would like to watch the movie with the delegates first and then engage in Q & A session after the screening. Delegates seated in the balcony wanted him and Divya to meet them there, which was humbly declined and promised them that he shall do so after the screening.

Divya Dutta the ever smiling diva shared her happiness with the audience for loving her film Badlapur and thanked for all the appreciation received for the film. She also expressed her desire to watch the movie along with the audience.

Watching Badlapur with Sreeram Raghavan, Divya & Prashant
The film 'Badlapur' has powerful performances by Varun Dhawan and Nawazuddin Siddiqui as Raghu and Laik, respectively. Badlapur, which is reportedly based on a true story, see ace director Sreeram Raghavan's breathtaking depiction of the story. Divaya Dutta essays an NGO activist's role in the movie. In short, Badlapur offers the viewers cinematic excellence.

Screening: Play Back Singer
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Piyush Mishra, a singer and a song writer in real life as well does 1005 justice to the character he plays in the movie 'Playback singer' directed by Suju Vijayan. He plays the character of Ashok, a Bollywood movie playback singer and also the father-in-law of a jungle-gym architect, Ray (Ross Partridge) who is married to his daughter Priya (Navi Rawat) settled in US. Ashok had sacrificed his personal life for his career but when his success didn't match his dreams, he was devastated. Why Ashok visits US? What happens when he starts staying with his daughter and son-in-law? Is he there to salvage the relationship with his daughter? Are some of the questions one would like to find answers when the movie releases in theatres soon. Watch Piyush Mishra's first Hollywood Movie and that too so powerfully and spectacularly performed.

Q & A Session and  Piyush even sang a song 'Yeh Duniya Agar Mil Jaye Tho Kya Hi"

Me, Piyush Mishra, Bindu & Prashant

Screening: Lajwanti

Image Courtesy: (Sanghamitra & Pushpender) 

Q & A Session : Pushpender Singh (Director of  Film Lajwanti)
Lajwanti is a film based on a folk tale by the legendary Rajasthani writer Vijaydan Detha. It is the story of a beautiful young married woman  Lajwanti (Sanghamitra Hitaishi) whose face is hidden behind her veil who falls in love with a stranger (an eccentric person in white robes and a turban, played by the director, Pushpender Singh, himself) with whom everyday her path crosses. The film is produced by Pushpender Singh and Sanjay Gulati. It was also screened in Berlin Film Festival (Forum).

Bindu, Sanjay Gulati (Producer of Lajwanti), Pushpender Singh (Director), Me & Prashant Sehgal (a filmmaker)
Meeting both of them after the screening and listening to their passion in making this film was quite inspiring. This movie is for those people who admires and love folk stories and also can enjoy an unusual kind of story telling which Pushpender Singh has developed as a story teller in this industry. I loved the movie thoroughly because it captures an unusual love story in the backdrop of Rajasthan's desert.

My experience

The 6th Jagran Film Festival was an amazing experience and journey for me. For me it was not just watching a couple of movies, it was experiencing the experience of people who had made such wonderful and thought provoking inspiring movies. It was having a varied genre of movies to watch, talk, debate and explore further with the very own makers and actors of the movies. The initiative to bring and promote meaningful movies should stay and grow more in the coming days. Moreover, the film festival also gave me a wonderful platform to find new friends who has common interests. Thank you Jagran. 

Thursday, July 2, 2015

6th Jagran Film Festival, 1st to 5th July, 2015

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6th Jagran Film Festival

The 6th Jagran Film Festival opened with the screening of film 'Masaan' by Director Neeraj Ghaywan. I feel that 'Masaan' being the 'The Opening Film' of the fest has set the right tone and mood for the whole event. The event is scheduled till 5th July, 2015. The festival is showcased based on the theme 'Happiness' and the organizers intend to take it to 17 cities over three months. So, it is time for cinema lovers to share and spread their happiness along with all the star cast and crews of various movies of all genre showcased during the fest. After a bagful of accolades for this film, when the star cast along with its makers and architects appeared on stage the jam packed theatre cheered making them know how proud they have made Indian Cinema and its audience in Cannes.

Inaugural Session


Ajay Brahmatmaj introduced the star cast of Masaan one by one amidst thunderous applause from the audience. He said in his 20 years of journalistic life he had seen many come and go but only a few stay to tell their version emphatically. And among those few are Neeraj Ghaywan. He also said in his welcome speech that Anurag Kashyap, Neeraj Ghaywan, Sanjay Misra, and Richa Chaddha are among those few who are bringing in a kind of newness to Indian cinemas.

Sanjay, the strategic consultant of the event, on stage conveyed that internet has changed the world and cinemas. He said that the fest theme is 'Happiness' because cinema is about life and life is about happiness. Every film in one or the other way is in pursuit of happiness. He added that the fest with its unique and interesting bouquet of films is going to enthral the cinema lovers for sure.

Hariharan, Pooja, Sreekar

Udit Narayan

Ajay Brahmatmaj welcomed and felicitated the jury members - renowned film editor Shreekar Prasad, ad-director and cinematographer Mahesh Aney, music sensation Udit Narayan, Bollywood filmmaker Pooja Bhatt and the Malayalam film icon and the chairman of the Jury Hariharan.

John Degory, deputy spokesperson of US embassy, said that Indians  like Americans believe that cinemas are not just to entertain but are also meant to inform and create awareness on various socially relevant issues. He said his country is going to celebrate its birthday and he thanked Jagran Group for giving him and the cinema lovers such a wonderful gift of organizing a film fest like this. John Degory, picked the popular line from Bollywood movie Sholay- "Yeh Dosti Hum Nahin Thodenge"!

Basant Rathore, the VP Brand Jagran, in his address shared with the audience that his group is going to reach more than 100 million audience through this Jagran Film Festival and asked the guests assembled to enjoy the 6th Jagran Film Festival.


Neeraj Ghaywan with great humility told the guests that Ajay has seen his journey in this industry from the sets of Gangs of Wasseypur to Masaan. He said that though we are moving ahead but are still locked by our traditions. Masaan speaks about this.

Rahul Ram & Nikhil

Indian Oceans' Rahul Ram and Nikhil brought loud cheers from the audience and Rahul Ram said that he is missing his other two friends of Indian Ocean who were not present. The audience were in splits when he said that his two colleagues (bechaare) were working and he and Nikhil were here to have fun.

Varun Grover

When the film's writer Varun Grover was welcomed by Ajay on stage, he said that Varun is the ' majbhoot neev' (strong foundation) of the movie Masaan. Varun was quick to share his sense of humour when he replied - "abhi thodi hi der mai pata chalenga ki neev kitni majbhoot hi'' (people will soon come to know how strong the foundation is).

The assembled guests gave a standing ovation to the makers and actors of 'Masaan' just before the screening and their applause was an indication of their belief that they are going to have a thumping good time watching Masaan.

Post Screening and Q & A Session

Q & A Session

Masaan truly enthralled the audience. What was promised was delivered, there was an upbeat to meet the stars and the makers of the movie. Richa Chaddha, Vicky Kaushal, Sanjay Misra, Shweta Tripathi, Writer Varun Grover, Director Neeraj Ghaywan, Rahul Ram, Nikhil and the Marketing-in-charge Ranjan (introduced as the Marketing Champion) were there on the stage to answer the queries of the guests.

Neeraj was asked how did he decide to cast Vicky Kaushal. Vicky said he was initially doubtful about he being part of the movie. Neeraj answered that Vicky was one of the ADs for Gangs of Wasseypur and he found him to fit the character 'Deepak' in Masaan. Neeraj also shared with the audience that the movie screened here in the Jagran Film fest is a Cannes cut film and the movie that shall release the Indian theatre on July 24th, 2015 shall have 9 more minutes of the story.

Neeraj also thanked his mentors by saying that what he has done till now, he has learnt from Anurag Kashyap and Vikram Motwane.

Vicky Kaushal

On being asked how challenging it was doing the role of 'Deepak', Vicky Kaushal said he belongs to a Punjabi family and is also a Mumbaiwala, and therefore, he had to understand the nuances and the minute details of the culture, customs and rituals of Banaras. He stayed there to learn the dialect because he knew that the film makers especially Neeraj was very particular about these things. He also said that as the story, character, and the whole course of the movie was so crystal clear, he didn't face challenge in getting into the skin of the character 'Deepak'.

Ajay, Richa & Sanjay Misra

Richa Chaddha was asked how much did she prepare to enact 'Devi'? Richa told the guest that Neeraj gave her dozen foreign films to see and observe how to express the pain, humiliation and boldness without being loud. Adding to that, she also said that she was in safe hands and therefore, it was easy for her to play the role of 'Devi'.

Sanjay Misra

Sanjay Misra witnessed tremendous love and adulations from the viewers. He was asked by a guest that how he deftly enacts varied characters like Vidhyadhar in every movie. He was also told that he was appreciated well for the role he played in Ankhon Dekhi. Sanjay Misra, said he was humbled by the love of the viewers. He said - "Main Zinda hun" (I am alive) that makes me perform and he looks into the eyes of his director and performs. He is indeed a man of less words but a powerhouse performer.

I asked Varun Grower, the writer, that what would have happened with the story if one of the love story depicted would have materialized in a caste, custom and tradition driven society like Benaras? I told him, may be that could have questioned and challenged the traditions head-on.

Varun's answer generated laughter and big applause when he said "Hum sequel ke zamane mai rehete hi" (we are living in the era of sequels, so wait and watch").  Varun was appreciated by the audience for his story. He told the audience that the original story started outside Benaras and then reaches the ghats and actually flowed and ends in Allahabad's sangam based on the natural course of river Ganga. But then there were some constraints and therefore, in the movie they opted to begin with Benaras and end in Allahabad's sangam. 

He was asked how he decided the title of the movie . He said 'Masaan' means crematorium and he chose this because the plot revolves around Benaras and its Ghat where corpse are burnt. Varun adding more fun to the Q & A session said that actually he had some other names which he was sure that the censor board would have never approved and that would have drawn unnecessary attention to other scenes and invited trouble. The audience cheered him when he quickly added - "you know that the Indian Censor Board is still a child even though everything and everyone around it has become adult (Grown up).

In short, the 6th Jagran Film Festival had an apt and thumping opening with a standing ovation before and after the screening of 'Masaan'. The edition of Jagran Film Festival will traverse from Delhi to cities like kanpur, Lucknow, Allahabad, Varanasi, Agra, Meerut, Dehradun, Hisar, Ludhiana, Patna, Ranchi, Janshedpur, Raipur, Indore, Bhopal and shall culminate in Mumbai.

With my blogger friends Murtaza & Bindu

With the Music Sensation Udit Narayan

And for me as a blogger and a film buff the opening day of the fest reminded me the popular number of the movie 'Shamitabh' - "Ishq fillum, junnoone fillum, hai darde fillum, davaa hi fillum, duvaa hi fillum... juma juma jahhazse fillum, hassi kushi ka hi raaz fillum, hi naaze fillum".

Interacting with Richa. She was fabulous as Devi in Masaan

With Vicky Kaushal

I had a great time interacting with Neeraj, Richa, Vicky, Sanjay Misra and the rest of the star cast of Masaan. Masaan is surely going to have jam packed theatres across the country, so go and book your tickets in advance. Share your 'Happiness' by taking someone dear to you to the nearest cinema hall.

Neeraj, Shweta Tripathi, Richa, Vicky, Pooja