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