Thursday, October 25, 2012

प्रेम से यश जी को प्रेम था- अमिताभ बच्चन

गुरुवार को यश चोपड़ा के चौथा में अमिताभ बच्चन ने इन शब्दों में अपने भाव प्रकट किए.

44 वर्षों का साथ, जो कि 1968 में शुरू हुआ, 2012 में अचानक और समय से पहले समाप्त हो गया.
इन 44 वर्षों में, कला के क्षेत्र में यश जी का जो योगदान रहा, देश-विदेश में, जग जाहिर है. परन्तु मैंने उन्हें हमेशा एक घनिष्ठ मित्र और एक अद्भुत इंसान के रुप में पाया.
नाम और शोहरत के साथ-साथ मित्रता और इंसानियत को लेकर, अपना जीवन व्यतीत करना, ये कोई सरल काम नहीं है. लेकिन यश जी में ऐसे ही गुण थे.
मैंने उनके साथ इस लंबे सफर में, बहुत कुछ सीखा और जाना, बहुत से सुखद और दुखद पल बिताए. काम के प्रति जो उनकी लगन, निष्ठा और उत्साह था, उससे उन्होंने मुझे भिगोया, इसके लिए मैं सदा उनका आभारी रहूंगा.
इतने वर्ष उनकी संगत में रहकर, जो उनमें एक महत्वपूर्ण बात देखी, वो ये कि मैंने उन्हें कभी भी किसी के साथ अपना क्रोध व्यक्त करते नहीं देखा. कभी भी किसी के साथ ऊंचे स्वर में बात करते नहीं देखा. ऊंचा स्वर उनका था, लेकिन अपने काम के प्रति उल्लास व्यक्त करने के लिए होता था, क्रोध नहीं. परिस्थिति चाहे कुछ भी रही हो, उनका स्वभाव हमेशा शांत रहा.
मिलनसार व्यक्ति थे वे.
जितना प्रेम वो अपनी फिल्मों को देते थे, उतना ही प्रेम वो उन्हें भी देते थे, जिनके साथ उनका संपर्क होता था.
प्रेम से उन्हें प्रेम था...
दुख की इन अंधेरी घडिय़ों में हम उनके निकट परिवार के सभी सदस्यों को अपना शोक प्रकट करते हैं और केवल इतना कहना चाहेंगे कि... ‘है अंधेरी रात पर दीवा जलाना कब मना है’. ये पंक्तियां मेरे पूज्य पिताजी की लिखी एक कविता से हैं... ‘है अंधेरी रात पर दीवा जलाना कब मना है’.
इसलिए... भविष्य में, आने वाले दिनों में, आशा और उम्मीद के लाखों, करोड़ों दीपों को प्रज्जवलित करने के लिए, प्रोत्साहन के रुप में, बाबूजी की ही लिखी पंक्तियों से अपनी बात समाप्त करना चाहूंगा... कि... जो बीत गई सो बात गई.

जो बीत गई सो बात गई
जीवन में एक सितारा था
माना वो बेहद प्यारा था
वह डूब गया तो डूब गया
अंबर के आनन को देखो
कितने इसके तारे टूटे
कितने इसके प्यारे छूटे
जो छूट गए फिर कहां मिले
पर बोलो टूटे तारों पर
कब अंबर शोक मनाता है
जो बीत गई सो बात गई.


Friday, October 12, 2012

Movie Review: Aiyyaa

Director: Sachin Kundalkar

Cast: Rani Mukerji, Prithviraj Sukumaran, Anita Date, Subodh Bhave and Amey Wagh

Funny, quirky and delightfully twisted entertainment
By: Raghuvendra Singh
It takes courage to present something never-done-before on the larger-than-life canvas of the big screen. And surprisingly debut director (at least in Hindi films) Sachin Kundalkar shows this trait with great effect in his film Aiyyaa. Hats off to an established star, Rani Mukerji, for showing such conviction in Kundalkar’s experimental vision. This truly is a good time for Hindi cinema. Only recently Gauri Shinde displayed fantastic finesse and subliminal storytelling skills in English Vinglish and Kundalkar has emulated the same skill in Aiyyaa. To simplify things you can safely sum up Aiyyaa as a wakda (twisted) film.

Rani Mukerji’s Meenakshi is a naughty, free-spirited and expressive girl who effortlessly juggles between reality and dream land at the drop of a hat. Her dreams are a quirky, imaginative and beautiful place but her reality is full of wakda characters too. Her father smokes four cigarettes at a time, her grandmother is blind but has 32 teeth of solid gold, her brother is the messiah of stray dogs and her mother is straight out of a Saas Bahu serial hell-bent on getting Meenakshi married. It is this over-the-top reality that Meenakshi escapes from into her dreams of being Sridevi, Madhuri Dixit and Juhi Chawla. Kundalkar uses hit songs of these actresses (Kaate nahi kat te (Mr India), Oh piya piya (Dil) and Ghazab ka hai din (QSQT)) to express Meenakshi’s suppressed feelings.

Meenakshi’s family coax her into getting married to Madhav who by definition is ideal husband material. But Meenakshi finds herself attracted to the scents of a South Indian hunk called Surya (Prithviraj Sukumaran). When Meenakshi digs for facts about her mysterious stranger she comes across inconvenient truths like his habit of alcoholism and drug abuse. But Kundalkar uses this as a plot twist and finally when the truth is revealed you make sense of Meenakshi’s odd attraction to this strange man.

Aiyyaa is based on a previous short film by Kundalkar called Gandh (Roughly described as smell or odour). But translating this short story into a generous runtime of 2.5 hours proves to be his biggest challenge. Even though his film is peppered with captivating characters and slice of life situations their charm doesn’t quite last throughout the film. Certain scenes like the time when Rani and her brother approach a drug peddler and the song What to do seem out of context and bog the narrative down.

Having said that, Aiyyaa’s strength lies in its dramatic segments driven by the characters. Again, Kundalkar deserves praise for the fact that he does not try to make his characters real. Instead, the film captures them at their colourful and gaudy best. Even arbitrary props like stray dogs and trash cans have instrumental parts in his narrative. Perhaps because Kundalkar is a Maharashtrian himself, he is able to capture and utilise Marathi culture and attire to good effect in his film.
Rani lives the character of Meenakshi in every sense of the word. Her dancing especially in songs Dreamum wakeupam and Aga bai is simply out of this world. Meenakshi comes across as a vivid character with surreal dreams and touching real issues only because of Rani’s superlative and no-holds-barred performance. Her expressions are simply priceless. She is the hero of the film and mind you Prithviraj is the subject of the female gaze, all sexy and hot. That he’s playing a South Indian character works in his favour is a given. But Prithiviraj does so much more, at times holding his own especially in romantic sequences. Mynaa played by Anita Date (and her unique prosthetic teeth) is the breakout character of the film. She’s as wild and wacky as the film itself.

The sights are all there, but Aiyyaa excels in its sounds too. Amit  Trivedi delivers fantastic music and background score. But it’s the sounds of barking dogs, ruffling trash, clinking bangles that add a layer to the film. To top that, Amitabh Bhattacharya’s lyrics are as mad as the hatter. They are as much the USP of this film as Rani Mukerji. Cinematographer Amalendu Chaudhary captures the millions of Aiyyaa colours with beauty too. If you like entertainment with a twist, Aiyyaa is perfectly wakda.


"There’s no one quite like Pa"- Abhishek Bachchan

On Amitabh Bachchan’s 70th birthday Abhishek Bachchan looks back with awe and affection. Filmfare records the moments 
By Raghuvendra Singh

An ideal son, Abhishek keeps telling Pa that he should work less now and rest, “I am his son; I want him to rest and take care of his health. He has three grandchildren—Navya Naveli, Agastya and Aaradhya— he should play with them and teach them all the great morals and principles that he taught my sister Shweta and me. But I am his fan as well, so I also want to see him more and more on the big screen and TV.” He goes on to complain, “Pa doesn’t take care of his health. I want him to be careful but I also know that he is not going to listen to me.”

Amitabh Bachchan’s reel and social life is definitely large and colourful. But he has maintained a simple and straightforward personal life. This can be sensed by the way he has brought up his kids, Abhishek and Shweta. Recalling his childhood, Abhishek remembers “When I was small, he was Pa for me. He never brought his stardom home. At home he was never treated like, ’Oh, he is The Amitabh Bachchan.’ At home, he was only Pa. As a kid, I thought all fathers must be like him. We were never given specials treatment because we were Amitabh Bachchan’s children.”

On entering adolescence, Abhishek realised his Pa is somewhat different, but he was still not aware of Pa’s stardom. According to Abhishek, “When I went with him in front of the public for the first time, I saw people’s love for him. But I felt everyone’s dad must be received that way. It is difficult for people to understand that I have always seen people surrounding him and respecting him.” When Abhishek finally became aware of his Pa’s stature, he felt very proud. He smiles with pride, “There is no one quite like Pa and there never will be.”

Amitabh Bachchan’s birthday has always been a special occasion for Abhishek Bachchan. He may be in any corner of the world, but he always tries to be with Pa on his birthday. Walking down memory lane, Abhishek says, “The most beautiful birthdays were when our entire family used to be at home together. Dadaji and Dadima were there. Dadaji used to write a poem for everyone’s birthday. He never gave greeting cards, he used to gift poems. I remember, during our childhood, we used to wait for Dadaji to come out of his room and recite a poem to us.” After a brief pause, Abhishek returns to the present, “The best thing on a birthday is to spend time with the family. Everyone sits together and chats; what else do you want? I think Pa is also the happiest spending his birthday this way.”

Big B was already a grandfather (nanaji), to his daughter’s children, and now he has become a grandpa (dadaji) once again with Aaradhya. But Abhishek refuses to see him in any other image. “For me, he will always be Pa. I cannot see him as anyone else. When my daughter, Aaradhya, grows up, she will see him as a grandfather, but I cannot see him as a grandfather.”


‘‘Amit is a complete Actor’’ - Dilip Kumar

Dilip Kumar on the mutual admiriation club he shares with Amitabh Bachchan 
By Raghuvendra Singh

I vividly remember the shot of Shakti taken at Juhu with a chopper whirring loudly in the backdrop where I am in a helicopter and I land on the sands of Juhu beach where Amit is waiting for me. He walks towards me slowly. It was the mahurat shot and our first contact in front of the camera. Neither he nor I had lines to speak. It was a play of intense emotional expression without dialogue.  There were spectators and the entire unit was agog and keen to flag off the start of the film’s shooting.  I could see before me an actor of deep commitment to the work he was doing and a fine sense of restrained acting which was visible in the measured steps he was taking and the eloquence in his facial expression.

Later on, when we were chatting informally, he told me how nervous he was as it was his first scene with me. It was sweet and unassuming on his part to say so because he came across as a confident actor capable of conveying an uncommon intensity and authority through his screen presence. It is always a stimulating experience when the actor with you in a scene has as much desire as you have to raise the scene to the marked level or play it down to the level demanded by the script and screenplay. All through the making of Shakti it was a pleasure working with Amit who I feel is a complete actor.
What I also remember about him during the making of Shakti is his undivided attention to details of the character he was playing and the histrionic demands of the script.
As a result, director Ramesh Sippy was able to steer our scenes with ease and clarity.

Over the years we have developed, quite unintentionally, our own exclusive mutual admiration club. We keep in touch and it is always a pleasure to meet him and talk to him when I run into him at industry gatherings. Always a man of fine manners and well spoken, respectful towards seniors in the profession, humble about his exceptional achievements, unflinchingly dedicated and disciplined at work, he should be an example to aspirants and rising actors.
I am equally fond of Jaya and always remember her with a deep sense of affection when I think of her respectful unaffected ways and the high calibre of her work.