CINEMA, MUSIC & ART WITH THE
OCTOBER 2010 VOL 01 ISSUE 01 ` 40
AAMIR KHAN A SNEAK PEEK AT THE MAN BEHIND THE ENIGMA
Eminem back from the dead Meet the 'Preity Zinta of the south’ Cinema, Music & Art with Brew | October 2010 | 1 RNIthe NO.: TNENG/2010/05353
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STRAIGHT FROM THE TOP
Today as I take on the mantle of Editor, I believe that the lacuna for a magazine speaking about the arts - cinema, film, fashion, food – is one that THE BREW so effortlessly fulfills. To create an umbrella of the arts that not only chronicles the great moments of our times, but also give it impetus and partner with it. For so many years I spoke to you through my columns, not once succumbing to the invitations of taking on an editor’s role. I was reluctant to be bridled, but when Sameer Bharat Ram invited me to reach you through his magazine I steped into the role with readiness! I start by bringing to you a man who has inspired me with his conviction, his journey and his belief in doing things with passion and not a desire to be ‘popular’. What makes a person an achiever? Is it just the ‘arriving’ of it all? Or the valour of the journey, the savouring of the ups and the downs and coming forth as a winner - and most of all – the spirit within that says the show must go on. And so I decieded not on the quintessential ‘Superstar’ but one who encapsulates a certain ‘joie de vivre’. Spending some days essaying his life story (nearly his biography my publisher tells me), was a learning experience. I shall attempt in every issue to bring to you at least one hero, who aside from their success, learnt from their losses, matured through tragedies, cocked a snook at the occasional failure and came out as champions! Lifestyles we want to get a peek at. People we can all look at and find commonalties with. Be inspired by those we have only known from their movies, their dances, their designs and their public image. Each story will be a window to them - up close and personal. Their refuge away from the arclights at the place that is ‘home’- THE BREW! I have enjoyed every moment of being part of THE BREW, and today am honoured to take on the role of editor. I hope you will write in with your thoughts and share what you’d like to see in our pages. The magazine strongly holds to its own identity and despite its youth (rather because of it), has braved old and new competitors to etch a place in lifestyle reporting. We desire to bring to our readers a medley of vision, style and the best of international art, film and music. Nisha JamVwal Editor-in-Chief
Nisha JamVwal is an interior architect and lifestyle columnist who also owns an eponymous Fashion Label that creates fashion for the contemporary woman and man. She has not compartmentalized life into preformatted roles but experimented with different creative media, works as a couturier, art consultant, television anchor,stage compere and model. She multitasks as a columnist where she writes on Art, Interiors & Fashion. As a Craft Activist Nisha works to save traditional Indian Crafts from becoming extinct ,has written three books on craft & orchestrated auctions to save dying crafts.
Edited and Published by Sameer Bharat Ram, and owned by SM BrandMuni Consulting Pvt. Ltd, Published from No.609, Lakshmi Bhavan, Anna salai, Mount Road, Chennai - 600 002. Tel.: +91 44 4208 9392. Printed by K. Srinivasan at Srikals Graphics pvt. Ltd, No.5, Balaji Nagar, 1st street, Ekkattuthangal, Chennai - 600 032. Editor: Sameer Bharat Ram
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CINEMA, MUSIC & ART WITH THE RNI NO.: TNENG/2010/05353
Creative Director 01 Mihir Ranganathan Art Director 02 Sibiraj Bastin
Sr. Graphic Designer 03 Namitha Thomas 04 Sakthivel Arumugam
Sub-Editor 05 Selvan Ross Marketing Manager 06 Navin Dorai
Production 07 Srinivasan
Circulation & Sales 08 Sentil Kumar 09 Shiva Ganesh
Cover Photographer: Avinash Gowariker
FOLLOW US>// http://www.facebook.com/group. php?gid=112653815423162 TO ADVERTISE: Call: +91 98409 39339 e-mail: email@example.com The Brew takes no responsibility for unsolicited photographs or material. All PHOTOGRAPHS, UNLESS OTHERWISE INDICATED ARE USED FOR ILLUSTRATIVE PURPOSE ONLY.
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VOL 01 ISSUE 01
Somersaults in NUMBERLAND
- MALLIKA SARABHAI
- Veejay Sai
THE MAN BEHIND THE ENIGMA
A look back stage
5 things you don’t know about
It’s raining Gen, hallelujah! 14
- Mona Ramavat
Ravi K Chandran
16 Recovery from the Relapse
EMINEM - Suhail Ismail
The Children’s Book - Ashwitha Jayakumar
A Kaleidoscope OF ART
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PUBLISHER’S NOTE Dear Readers, Welcome to this edition of The Brew. This edition is very special, firstly because it contains an exclusive with one of the most revered actors in the Indian industry and the world. Secondly, it is my great pleasure to welcome on board our new Editor-in-Chief, Nisha JamVwal. Nisha has been a regular contributor and supporter of The Brew and from this edition onwards she will be the centre point of this exciting journey that we have embarked upon. So, sit back and relax as this whirlwind of cinema, art and music blows your mind. Read on! Sameer Bharat Ram Publisher and Managing Editor
CONTRIBUTORS Mallika Sarabhai, Artist & Activist Educated as an economist and a business manager, Mallika Sarabhai is one of India’s best known Bharatanatyam and Kuchipudi dancers. She has taken her work and her company Darpana to not only over 90 countries around the world, but also to the farthest parts of India.
Veejay Sai An award-winning writer, editor and a culture critic. He has written and published extensively on Indian classical music, fashion, theatre, food and art, and loves traveling, researching literary and cultural history. He is an editorial consultant with over 40 brands and designers in and outside India and is on the jury for several prestigious awards in the arts across the country.
Avinash Gowariker He started his career with Aamir in 1995. It was nearly impossible to get Aamir to do a photo shoot which is not for a film or his endorsement- If at all, he prefers shooting in natural light instead of an artificial studio light set up. The cover was shot at C’est La Vie on their walk way to the swimming pool which is filled with natural light, so Aamir was happy shooting there. Avinash is one of India’s leading photographers and famed for his Bollywood repertoire of portraits and shoots. He has blazed a trail in experimental lighting.
ADVISORY BOARD Neeru Nanda A graduate from Delhi University. Passionate about writing, she freelanced as a feature writer for ten years before switching to publishing. Author of a collection of short stories titled “IF” (Rupa & Co), Neeru is now working on two novels and a series of books for children.
Pravin Mani Originally from Chennai, Pravin shuttles between Toronto, London and Chennai on his musical adventure. He has worked with a number of record companies in Australia including Virgin, E.M.I, Sony music and secured a worldwide publishing contract with Warner Chappell, Australia. He has a number of album, film and session production credits with a wide range of music directors including A.R.Rahman
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Kala Ramnath B Veejay Sai
eing born and brought up in a family of musicians has its own advantages which no one can ever discredit from any musician. While there have been several examples of how many a noted maestro have the bad luck of no one, least their own children, inheriting their art, there are artists who not only inherited their music but also break new ground in their own careers. If there is one of the best living examples of such a successful model, it is the one and only Kala Ramnath. The famous niece of violinist N.Rajam and sangeetha Kalanidhi prof. T.N.Krishnan, Kala has proved to be more than the chip of all the illustrious old blocks put together. Having born into a musical family Kala started her training very early. ‘I was introduced to the violin when I was two years old. My grandfather Vidwan Narayan iyer was my first guru. He was a very strict disciplinarian and none of us dared to disobey him at any cost,’ she says. Vidwan Narayan
Iyer was a legend in his times who not only mastered the violin but also the gotuvadyam and veena. While he was a purist when it came to classical music, he was not averse to modern music unlike many other of his contemporaries. He even scored the background music for ‘sakkubai’ a feature film made in 1935. Having her initial training under such a genius, violin came as naturally as the alphabets of any language would come to little Kala. This studentship continued under the mentoring of her aunt Dr.N.Rajam for a long time. ‘My aunt would gently remind us if we did not touch the violin for a week. Even after repeated reminders, if we did not practice one could rest assured that hell would break loose on us very soon. If my grandfather gave me the technique then it was my aunt who honed it to perfection and gave me my first introduction to audiences in India’, she adds. Under the guidance of her aunt, Kala blossomed into an independent full fledged artist. Other than these gurus, she has
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had immense musical influences in her life. Her aunt introduced her to the classical vocalist Pandit Jasraj of the mewati gharana, early in her career. Kala’s violin was so addictive that she not only accompanied the maestro in 99% of all his concerts but also became one of the flag bearers of his gharana in a very short span, considering his own children didn’t inherit his music. Senior music critics often commented how it was Kala’s violin that often upheld an entire concert which would have otherwise been boring and repetitive because Panditji had long stopped giving pure classical music concerts and stuck to singing bhajans or playing to galleries. ‘My musical influences have been my grandfather, my aunt and Pandit Jasraj ji. I also love Vidushi Kishori Amonkar’s music and the complete musicianship of Ustad Zakir Hussain. As a woman, I would like to conduct myself like my aunt, I want my music to be laden with emotions like Pandit ji and reach the almighty. I would like to show uncharted paths hitherto unknown to everyone when, I explore
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rock musician Ray Manzarek of The Doors, Latin percussionist Giovanni Hidalgo and renowned drummer Terry Bozzio have rated her to be the new generation flag bearer of world music from India. Her project ‘Raga Afrika’ won her several awards. ‘Raga Afrika’ and ‘Global Conversations’ are both wonderful projects that are very close to my heart. Raga Afrika happened when I went to SA in 2000 with my good friend Nisaar Pangarkar. We came up with the idea of fusing Indian and Afro Jazz which had never happened ever and that’s how ‘Raga Afrika’ was born. Similarly Global Conversations is a musical blend of Raga influenced by American Jazz and Jazz inflected Raga’, she says. In fact, as recent as this year, when the world music academy did a rating of the top notch Indian artists who have contributed to world music in the last century, Kala’s name stands amongst the top five after the likes of Pandit Ravi Shankar and Ustad Zakir Hussain. She has been rated as one of the 50 world’s greatest instrumentalists of this century. Now that speaks volumes for her contribution to music.
a raga like Kishori ji does and be a complete musician like Zakir bhai as far as musicality, technicality and presentation goes. And above all, be a person with goodness and a clean heart. As a renowned artist in her own field, Kala laments over the current state of Indian classical music. ‘Indian classical music’s greatest problem is how it’s becoming popular today and facing the onslaught of all the reality shows which trivialise what music really is,’ she says. ‘Music is as difficult as any other profession, like becoming
a doctor or an engineer. It needs a lot of dedication and hard work to be a professional. But this vocation is also very creative and enjoyable. So you can enjoy what you do if you take this up as a profession. Yes! Music is a wonderful profession if you are talented and hardworking’, assures Kala to the next generation of aspiring musicians. Kala’s work, unlike many other artists has taken Indian classical music to new audiences across the world. Her musical collaborations with internationally renowned artists like jazz saxophonist George Brooks,
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‘If Mozart had been transported to the South Asian subcontinent this is what he and improvised Western classical music might have sounded like. The comparison is not thrown in to befuddle or impress. Kala Ramnath is a musician of giant - like qualities’ reads a citation from the famous Jazzwise Review. Point noted. Kala’s music albums are highly wanted all over and sell out like hot cakes and there are several music companies laughing their way to the banks, after bringing out multiple editions. Having toured over fifty countries and performed at all the prestigious music festivals, her performances have acquired her several awards. Amongst them is the coveted president’s award for being the best young classical musician. With artists like Kala, one can be sure that Indian classical music is in safe hands and does not have the supposed threat of an early extinction.
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“I don’t want everything to be white. There was this rumor that I needed white flowers and white linens wherever I went: ‘Everything has to be white or she won’t go in the room!’ That’s not true.”
“I am terrible with computers.I never go near one; I don’t like them. I barely know how to log on, so I’m never online.”
5 things you don’t know about
Jennifer Lopez “I like the quiet, but I don’t like the dark. We have everything on dimmers so I kind of trick myself into the darkness. Marc always turns off the lights after he comes to bed. I’m usually sleeping—or he waits till I fall asleep and then turns them off.”
“I love to read books about relationships. I am constantly trying to figure that out. It’s the neverending question—what is the key to love?”
“Barbra Streisand is my absolute idol. I love what she does. She’s a singer, an actress, she went into directing—she does it all. I sang Streisand’s ‘My Man’ to Marc at his 40th birthday party. It was a perfect song to sing to him. I even made him a recording so he could play it in the car.”
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from the Eminem’s seventh studio album, ‘The Recovery’, released in June 2010 is for those among us who reminisce, for those who crave and still remember the emotional intensity of his earlier albums that preceded ‘The Relapse’, which was quite critically regarded by the rapper himself. In the hit single from the new album ‘Not Afraid’, we’re finally allowed to return to the introspective, dark and emotionally charged genius who is the first performer in history, with the release of ‘The Recovery’, to have four albums record over 700,000 sold in their first week. Once you get past the familiar gripping beats spurned out by Dr. Dre and the amazing lyrical content and imagination of Eminem, the album is so much more than the return to an emotionally charged front for the maverick rapper, who until the release of his previous album ‘The Relapse’, had taken a sabbatical from the music industry and was going through a troubled phase, in and out of rehab for drug use. His return album was just ‘plain rap records’, as said by the rapper himself after his new album had amassed 2.5 million copies in the US alone by September 2010.
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Unlike his previous studio albums, The Eminem Show, The Marshall Mathers LP and The Slim Shady LP, this album doesn’t have any skits and so features more singles than his previous albums and has widely acclaimed chart topers such as No Love, Not Afraid, the amazing album opener Cold Wind Blows and also the 8 week successive chart topper across the world, his runaway hit featuring Rihanna titled ‘Love The Way You Lie’. This album also features the return of his group D12 with ‘Hit Me With Your Best Shot’. Working with 50 Cent and Dr. Dre, the album features performances by stars such as Pink, Rihanna and Lil’ Wayne ‘The Recovery’, while critically acclaimed and heralding the return of one of the most incredible vocal and performing talents in our modern music stage, Eminem’s latest masterpiece can best be described by the opening day comment by the ‘Rolling Stone’ magazine which read, “Over a dark, operatic beat, Eminem delivers rhymes that are typically acrobatic – and typically heavy-handed. But the anger has a gathering quality.” Forget any relapse, Eminem is back to his lyrical best.
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apta, meaning the number ‘Seven’ in Sanskrit is an artist originating from Paris, created by Marti Bharath in 2007. The music stands on an Electronic Base & Western Sounds with an Indian/Oriental touch. The vocalist/composer, Marti Bharath, uses a wide range of sounds and effects on all his tracks. The music style varies widely from each other but the vocal patterns revolve more or less around the same Ambient vibe. Sapta, now has over a 100 songs composed and sung by Marti himself.
The path of evolution in Sapta is captivating. Computers and Synthesizers are his best friends and he tends to share all his secrets with them. Sapta is all about new Electronic Sounds and Rhythms that take you to a strange level. The Energy, Sapta provides is infectious and penetrating. Sapta’s themes have so far been based on reality experienced or witnessed by the composer himself. Inspirations are drawn out of these emotions felt by him and views are expressed through these sounds and words.
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Sapta’s first record “The 7th Chapter” was completed after a year and a half since the creation of Sapta. The record was composed & produced by Marti himself. It had 22 tracks split into 2 albums, ‘7AM’ & ‘7PM’ having eleven tracks in each. Some of the tracks in “The 7th Chapter” were purely instrumental. This record was more into ‘Experimental Indian Electronic’ music. The track “I Will Survive” broke into the Reverbnation Charts for Electronic Music in Paris, 2008. In collaborating with professionals like Loc Boyle, Schweitzer Thomas,
Samuel Hetfi, etc, Sapta was also able to spread its wings into visualizations. Sapta shot its first music video for its single “I Will Survive” directed by Samuel Hefti in the year 2009. The upcoming record “Someone’s Out There” is now in its final stage. This record is consciously different from the previous, tilting to an Electro/Rock vibe and power. The Energetic BigBeats and Electric Sounds provided in this record are fascinating. Tracks such as “If It Ain’t Loud”, “Nations”, “The Master”, “Freakin’ Rock”, provide a thunder
stormed energy. These tracks have also been used by various DJs & Clubs around Paris, Berlin, London, and even some around LA and New-York. This record is scheduled to be completed by late 2010. Sapta has also performed various Live Concerts around Paris. The venues include Le Klub, OPA, etc. Sapta collaborated with Lune Paris in the year 2009 to perform a Road Tour around Montmartre which witnessed a huge audience. Live Concerts are Sapta’s main strength as they are accompanied by two other
professionals. Yoan Segot, the Guitarist brings in powerful rocky effect to the music. Rarely used distortion and overdrive effects are well explored in addition to his tremendous skills. On the other hand, Alexi Carruba, the Drummer, coming from a Rock ‘N’ Roll background, reveals his own pure rhythms and styles that suit Sapta naturally. Marti Bharath, still sticking to the synthesizers and vocals, also adds the base to the complete output. These sounds are merged and delivered to the gallery.
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photoGRAPHER: Avinash Gowariker
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KHAN The Man Behind The Enigma NISHA JAMVWAL News channels blast bullet headlines ‘Peepli Live - India’s nomination for the Oscars’. Close at the heels of the marvelous success of ‘Three Idiots’ Aamir Khan is having another moment in cinematic history. Billboard banners, magazine covers bus livery -Aamir Khan is everywhere! The inspired artist has finished first, and left behind the contrived craftsmanship of carbon copy films. The decade that saw many a hyped Bollywood mega-movie extravaganza sink to less than luke warm audience response, witnesses the actor, dubbed India’s Mel Gibson, get showered with a profusion of accolades. Most of the few films that did see blockbuster success this decade , featured him. “Man Of The Decade” he’s been called, since the time “Lagaan– Once Upon A Time in India “ his maiden production venture went on to become the country’s official entry for the Oscars in the “Best Foreign Film” Category. A distinction achieved by only two Indian films in the last 50 years and India Today hailed him “Bollywood’s Current God”. But that was just the beginning of the makings of a cine icon...... Today unequivocally recognised as the most reliable actor who will deliver an impeccable performance,
his beginnings in films promised not much beyond the usual film-scion fondly being launched by family ‘into the business’. ‘Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak’ went on to an exceptionally ‘lucky’ success. But further on, luck became only a whimsical epithet, as hit or not, his talent ensured that Aamir Khan bloomed with each film, hit or not. ‘Beta’ onto ‘Sarfarosh’ , roles essayed with an abandonment of the awareness of self - too numerous and too well known to name, endorse the legend. If you were to ask me what distinguishes Aamir as one of the greatest performers of our time, it has to be the fact that he has not allowed himself to become entrapped in the web of self aggrandizement . It is not Aamir you see in ‘Lagaan’. You forget the man as ‘Bhuvan’ impacts you with all his nuances. ’It is ‘Daljit’ in ‘Rang De Basanti’. ‘Aatee Kya Khandala’ rocks the nation, the sensitively handled ‘Taare Zameen Par’ goes on to win the National Award and the very endearing ‘Rancchoddas Shyamaldas Chanchad’ aka ‘Phunsukh Wangdu’ in ‘3 Idiots’ endears the cine-goer worldwide in the highest-grossing Bollywood film of all time in India, breaking his own previous record set by ‘Ghajini’.
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At Home With Aamir Aamir Khan’s suburban office-fromhome, like his personality, presents no flim-flam, no opulence - the basic Aamir to you on a platter. A jeans and T-shirt apartment - beige sofas, rattan cane furniture, an underplay of colour and a profusion of books. Eclectic, as are the films he picks, Biographies (Frank Capra, Brando etc...), Cricket, Adventure and Cinema are the literary genres, he prefers. Gore Vidal, William Goldman, Sergei Eisenstein and especially, Harry Cruz are some of his favoured authors. “Try ‘Childhood’” recommends Aamir, relaxed in cool cargo trousers, shirt in earth colours reminiscent of the desert color palette of Lagaan, hair gelled and spiked – the youthful look he has carried allows him to play a cross a section of roles. The intelligent actor is at his stimulating best this morning, ‘neath the studiously courteous restraint he is pleased as punch. His eyes crinkle in merriment that endears in a moment and under the sway of charm. This Khan does not need a scimitar like the historical Ghengis Khan to conquer, earnest eyes deliver a view, with under tones of joy in what he’s doing- total conquer. I’d say from interacting with many ‘stars’ that he could safely win the vote of one of the only successful actors who has not been a casualty to stardoms erratic and whimsical behavior. Unarguably one of the most talented. Not tall, but terribly attractive. His cleft chin and shy smile. Combination of cerebral and celebrity aspects are lethal, as co-stars and millions of admiring fans discover. Of course I do too! Macho appeal is not the operative factor. Its the “Thinking Khan”, and the content of his act. His is not a face that is mobile. The play comes to a large extent from clear, brown, intense, penetrating eyes. They can glint in merriment, in intelligent
scrutiny or in icy impatience - he is known not to suffer fools gladly and the infectious appeal is not on screen alone!. Miracle at Piazza-‘Jahanpanah Tussi Great Ho- Tofaah Kabool Karo’ At the Locarno festival in Switzerland, the huge outdoor Piazza a Grande, brimful to capacity, eight thousand people gave his film a standing ovation, winning him the “Prix De Public” (the audience award) for Lagaan. “Longer than the Ganges” said a newspaper lauding the film despite the fact that the audience is unused to a six-song musical, a long movie of three hours, unfamiliar with the game of cricket - a key theme of the movie! And yet the papers called it ‘Miracle at Piazza’! And six additional screenings had to be organised!” This new age Bollywood creation managed to make that leap across audiences over the world and the box office charts declared it as one of the ten most popular films at British cinemas. Here at last was a film that put the Indian Film Industry seriously on the world cine viewer’s screen and created an awareness of Indian cinema. But what we thought was a highpoint was only just the beginning of the makings of a cine icon. One wondered back then, could this act be topped?! But one had not reckoned with Aamir’s genie lamp. Currently with ‘Peepli Live’, another contender for the Oscars and, would you belive it, again an Aamir Khan presentation! With ‘Peepli Live’, he has proven his commitment and belief that a film is about its content and the telling of it in cinematic terms. ‘Peepli Live’ is totally devoid of the usual Sho-Sha of larger than life cinema. Shorn of big names,
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big budget, big panorama, again an untried director, the film booms with real telling of the very real India. Grim but farcical black humor. The success quotient underlying, of course - Aamir Khan. But for whose belief a good film could have easily sunk unviewed into oblivion, presenting another facet of Aamir’s beliefs and views about cinema that are integral to the persona we already know. Preferring to be an actor over star - Formula Films and Aamir’s take on Bollywood India is a country of film addicts who may watch the same film two, three or even four times! The syrupy sentiment, the black and white villainy and heroism, the family melodrama, the enthusiastic song and dance, the turmoil that after all ends happily, have the audiences glued to those hours of escapist relief! And they are immensely popular in the neighboring Asian region even unto the erstwhile Soviet Union and East Europe. Not to mention the nostalgia–starved Diaspora abroad. With the plethora of fantasy and escapism that the “Bollywood factory” churns out, there has evolved a largely predictable format. A formula with a majority of the players taking the conventional tried-and-tested path. And this is where Aamir has shown a difference in his mettle. The regressive run-of-the-mill fare made him restless. He has continually experimented and digressed from strict ‘formula’ to gamble with opportunities that promised stimulus and
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photoGRAPHER: Avinash Gowariker
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challenge. To extend boundaries beyond the comfortable. A dare to go to the edge of the cliff - preferring to be an actor over a star, Aamir devoted himself to one assignment per year. – The only star to do this in India, working with directors whose talent he believes in. Even if it was the new kid on the block back then- Farhan Akhtar, Director in Aamir’s other big success Dil Chahtha Hai (2001) that completely broke the mould. In the highly competitive environment where stars work two even three shifts round the clock, of the hundreds of films that pour out, most sink without a ripple, drowning with them yesterday’s superstar. “Most of us don’t have courage, so individually insecure are we that we cushion ourselves with so many projects, but not Aamir. He is risk taking, with a huge amount of confidence”- says ’star of the millenium’ of Indian Cinema Amitabh Bachhan. “I decided to go with my heart and not my head Nisha. What has driven me has never been money. Ours is a line of Saraswati (the goddess of learning) not Laxhmi (the Goddess of Money) “ chinkle in eye , avers Aamir. Sometimes labeled arrogant -undisturbed equipoise, he is dismissive about his detractors and is transparent about his scant regard for Bollywood awards, even when conferred upon him, as being largely arbitrary. “Arbitrary awards given in India hold no interest for me, there are too many inconsistencies. I’d rather stay away as they hold no value for me.” Through the years Aamir has received many awards but has not gone to the award functions to collect them. Failure to him is in not being able to achieve his own vision. Have Bollywood films become one commercially homogenous theme park? He does not agree! “I believe in Indian cinema and am proud to be a part of it. Our cinema is part of Indian society; it has a tradition, our way of doing things. Indian audiences delight in songs and
dance - but there is more to it than that. The color, romance and magic of India unfolds with a story, often accompanied with a social message. In the UK, Bollywood films often thrash their Hollywood counterparts at the box office.” “Hollywood had various genres of films as well- musical, mystery, thrillers. But in India within all these genres what has stayed consistent is the popularity of the musical- that is the form of Indian Cinema since the early 40’s when sound came into cinema. Let us not be ‘superior’ about it as it is part of our culture, to the extent that in India until a few years ago you did not have a pop music culture. Laxmikant Pyarelal, Lata Mangeshkar, Mohamed Rafi – these were our pop singers and believe me they are world class, if not better.” The cavalcade traverses west. Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical in the making “Bombay Dreams” was along the lines of a Bollywood product and he had imported Indian song and dance choreographer Farah Khan for that panache. Indeed Lord Webber wanted Aamir for the lead part, but he says to me, “I am too involved in cinema to have given him the time commitment of a full year.” Not enamored by the attraction the west seems to hold for most he says about Hollywood “When I came here post-nominations and pre-Oscars, a number of Hollywood agencies did contact me and wanted to represent me , Endeavor was one of them. Quite honestly, I didn’t see how I would be of any use to them because I don’t intend to shift (to Hollywood); I’m really happy where I am. I have an emotional connection with my audience that is nearly two decades long. If some script excites me and the director is someone I trust completely, it would be at the most a one-off. Over these past 10 years, there have been a number of scripts that have been sent to me. Nothing really excited me, so I turned them all down.” That doesn’t change his reception in the west though- In Toronto a hoard of people thronged to see their favourite star.
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“Who is coming, Brad Pitt?” asked a passer-by as he tried to navigate his way through the growing crowd outside Elgin theatre. The huge queue across the street was not for any Hollywood actor. It was for Bollywood superstar Aamir Khan, who was here to attend the screening of ‘Dhobi Ghat’ at the ongoing 35th Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). AAMIR TASTES BLOOD - A QUICK FLASHBACK Filmdom was always home to Aamir. Born in the milieu, his father, uncle and cousins are all firmly entrenched in the line. For the cherubic child star in ‘Yaadon Ki Baarat’ (1973) absorbing know-how by osmosis was natural. Classmate and filmmaker
Aditya Bhattacharya in 1983 made a 35-minute silent film “Paranoia” with Khan. To his parents dismay he quit studies after high school - they had hoped to veer him away from the insecurities of this unpredictable line. But Aamir had tasted blood – “After Aditya’s film I became sure that I was created to act in films!” Not formally trained in acting, films were a basic instinct. He chose to watch and learn through a three-year stint as assistant to Uncle Nasir Husain through box office flop films ‘Manzil Manzil’ (‘84) and ‘Zabardast’ (‘85). Perhaps the best way to learn. “Last couple of years at school I was confused as to what I wanted to do, but after I acted in Aditya’s film I became sure of what I wanted to do
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in life. I quit studies after high school. My family was against my joining films as they had been through the unpredictability of filmworld and did not want their child to go through film insecurities. Then they saw ‘Quayamat Se Quayamat Tak’ which changed all that. Infact it changed the face of Indian cinema, and was a turning point for me. Crudity was the staple diet of the Indian filmgoer until then but this brought a new sensibility to Indian Cinema.“ DEBUTANTE RUNAWAY SUCCESS As the strapping lean ’boy-next-door hero’ of ‘Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak’ (From Climax to Climax) the débutante Khan belted out a runaway success in 1988. The 80’s saw numerous imitations, refashioning a trend for
youthful Romeo–Juliet romances and away from the excessively violent fare that had begun to pall. A second huge hit in 1990 ‘Dil’ established ‘Aamir the star’. With the winsome adolescent of ‘Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar’ in ’92, and a personal favorite ‘Hum Hain Rahi Pyar Ke’ in ‘93, the earnest nice guy won hands down. Those eyes sparkle with mischief in the slapstick ‘Andaz Apna Apna’ (94). With the loud vulgate of blackmarketeer ‘Munna’, Aamir endeared with his characters beliefs and brought out the humor and poignancy that stayed with one way beyond the experience of watching runaway hit ‘Rangeela’ (’95). But it was the role of the village Taxi Driver who falls in love with a rich heiress Karishma Kapoor in director Dharmesh Darshan’s ‘Raja Hindustani’ in 1996, that created box office history within the first week so that Aamir came up head over shoulders above his contemporaries Sanjay Dutt, Sunny Deol and Akshay Kumar. He also won the best actor award for the film. The decade started with many big films that sank into oblivion in 2000
Amitabh Bachan - “I’ve known Aamir for a very long time. One has been seeing his work always and he has impressed me as a very conscientious focused individual, with nothing frivolous about him. I got to know him personally at a stage show in London, where he performed an item along with me. The diligence with which he approached the work,
and the so called ‘No.1 heroes’ that failed to produce hits, while Aamir belted out sureshot success after success. What was his formula? “I cannot pretend there was anything profound about the way I did what I did Nisha, whatever I felt strongly about I took on. This is how I am. There are the decisions I made in my career, alternatives I choose with my heart because whenever I went with my head I was not happy nor successful” . Sitting here I just can’t help believing that it is an innate passion that guides his decisions. Very much like his character Rancho from ‘3 Idiots’ who advises his friend to give up engineering and pursue wildlife photography, his true passion; because only when you are passionate about what you do you don’t have to run after success, but can let success come after you! “It is important for me to be the most loved and respected actor and my only way to work toward that is to do only good work. I want to be remembered for my work.” I am still curious, and I persist… ..”Aamir when you choose a project, how are you able to go for the most successful films, what is the formula that when most projects sink, you the sincerity of being part of a team, the dimension he gave to the whole show by treating himself as part of the character, not independent of the theme or team, by mingling with everyone and becoming part of a joint effort, followed systems set up for a professional environment, all sets him apart as an actor of great repute. I produced a film with him and realised he is a man of his word. It was a while since we signed him since we did, but the understanding had not changed. It would have been very easy for a person of his stature to wish away the commitment. I’d say his two feet are firmly on ground. Maybe some might consider him short in stature physically but these facets make him stand very tall. I find him very clear about what he wants in life and goes about it very much like an arrow. Most of us
pinpoint and work in a success, and have more success than any actor in the industry since 1988 (Apart from the basic instinct and the fact that you are born of a film family.)?” “There is instinct which is the most important factor. But also when I am listening to a story I am like the audience. I react to the script like an audience. If it moves me I go for the movie, it has to be a combination of instinct and as an individual I go with my taste. I do not try to predict what the audience will like. Infact, somehow I don’t watch so many films, because at home on the DVD the experience is limiting as opposed to the large screen and in India it is impossible for me to go to the cinema (the price of fame!!) so I only manage to see films while travelling abroad. But I read everyday. (One of my favorite authors is Harry Cruz. Please buy his ‘Childhood’). What I picked up in my childhood about film might have helped (in the last 25/30 years environment of filmmaking) but though I am trying to think, intellectualise and answer you, it is essentially in my heart.” Endowed with considerable gray cells (he solved the Rubik’s cube in don’t have guts we are so individually insecure-we pack ourselves with so many projects, but not he, he is risk taking, with a huge amount of confidence, and he labors very extensively – I see in him a huge amount of commitment. Aamir is a man who calls a spade a spade, backed by honesty and truth, I like such people. Most of the time he is right – that’s the other great thing. Mostly he likes to keep to himself. He does not follow a beaten track, does not follow the normal routine – and his strength of belief has been proven to the world beyond doubt that he is unique success, I am very fond of him. Everything he has done has worked as per his wish. A surprise that a person so young commands so much respect. Look forward to work with him again and again.
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28 seconds when he was just ten), films were a passion and he has always been meticulous to a fault, uncompromising and impatient with his perception of mediocrity. His affinity to detail, the need to argue out his point of view, brought him his share of detractors in the fraternity labeled “interfering” “obsessed” and worse. Drawing an analogy Aamir defends himself, “If an artist has a brilliant vision and translates onto the canvas a work that is less than what he visualised in his imagination, the passionate artist will restart, but there is another who would go on to sell anyway, unperturbed in the lack, after all someone will buy it!” And since Lagaan nearly won the Oscar detractors are evanescent like dissipated odour. The Bollywood `man-of-the-decade` has proven beyond doubt that he is right!!
that “commercial” need not be crass. The humane tale of ‘Lagaan’ that eschewed the blacks and whites, eschewed concessions to titillation’s of the overtly sexual, and one hour of cricket on celluloid found film makers wary of taking chances… And then there was Aamir! To Aamir’s credit is that where a lesser mortal would have quavered
“I may not be proud to be part of Indian society the way it is as a whole, but Indian cinema I am very proud to be part of. See, the thing is that Indian cinema is not of the highest quality because Indian Society has a lot of development to go through and then cinema is not isolated, it is not from Mars or Jupiter- it is born of Indian Society – so it reflects all the pitfalls of Indian Society. There are those who are trying to swim against the current in every profession, a questioning and gradually there will be prosperity…..” GETTING INTO PRODUCTION Of course Aamir’s view explained his foray into film production – to himself make the kind of product he yearned to act in, and pour his penchant for perfection into his own creative vehicle. And starting with Ashutosh Gowariker’s ‘Lagaan’ that excited him to ‘Taare Zameen Par’ which he brilliantly produced and directed , taking him into yet another orbit of creative impetus, to ‘Jane Tu’ and now ‘Peepli Live’ which has opened to rave reviews. Aamir is excited by and part of the new generation of filmmakers who are attempting to expand the range and depth of Indian cinema with originality, finesse, art and the belief
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He is extrememly methodical;very correct; transends just hard worksomeone who puts much much more into a role. An achiever, almost schoolish which is the term I use for myself. There is a simplicity and a diligence which I associate with and first noticed when we co-starred in the Pepsi commercial . I have avidly watched him in his films, distinguishing the sincerity toward his art form, a very sincere, very passionate, very involved attitude in whatever he takes on, the kind of work he has chosen. Earlier I had thought he is very correct but later realised that he is a brat at the same time, when I did my first show with him. Rani, Twinkle, Akshay, me and he was The Amir Khan. We thought he’d be the teacher and we the students. Instead he had said in humor “If you cannot beat them join them”
over risking his standing a second time with a man who had both his previous directorial endeavours Baazi and Pehla Nasha rejected at the box office, did not allow the past to cloud his assessment. “For me the attitude of the director I work with is most important. Even when we overshot Lagaan by one and a half months and a million rupees, I took loans to support my belief that we should not compromise on the scale we envisaged.” Even before its release Lagaan fetched a hundred and eighty million rupees for overseas rights, fifty for its music and twenty million per territory. Cut to his first directorial debut , ‘Taare Zameen Par’ where Aamir proved an answer , and how, to the query that can actors be good directors. He received a Filmfare Best Director Award and it was a resounding success. This was followed by Ghajini (2008), which became the highest grossing film of that year and 3 Idiots (2009), which became the highest-grossing Bollywood film of all time, unadjusted for inflation. In 2010, the Government of India honoured him with the Padma Bhushan for his contributions towards Indian Cinema. The Thinking Khan metamorphosed with every experience “I’ve learnt a lot from each one of my films, whether it did well or not – something to carry to my next effort.” With Deepa Mehta in ‘Earth’ [’99] and earlier on “Parampara” by Yash Chopra, that went completely wrong.” “Ghulam” [‘98] where he plays the street smart Bombay ‘tapori’ (a ruffian) that endeared audiences and critics. And what of Amir Khan, the man? His private life? He works hard and plays – well chess! He married early, eloping with childhood sweetheart Reena and rivals happily looked to writing his career obituary! Married actors are not known as major daydream material in India. Two flops in 1989, coinciding with the publicity his elopement with Hindu wife Reena (Aamir is a Muslim), seemed to almost prove them right until the ‘Dil’ megahit in 1990. Today post a quiet and dignified divorce he is married to film maker Kiran Rao. But that is his private life guarded with
passion. He keeps prying media firmly at bay. Chinks in his armor? There might be speculation and guess work when his glance lingers a moment extra on anything in the opposite-sex category, but rumor mills have little fodder to chew on. “Of course, I find a lot of women attractive.But sorry, I don’t stray. Even if a section of the film industry can’t digest the fact that I am not sleeping around…” Aishwarya Rai giggles “He is a brat! To me he is both Bhuvan but also Aakash the cool brattish hero of Dil Chahtha Hai.” I sense an unfashionable idealism too. As though Bhuvan, his protagonist in “Lagaan” is speaking for him “For those whose heart is
be more off the mark.“People used to say Aamir is mad, until he proved them wrong time and again with his brilliant work. I think he’s a genius. There is a thin line between genius and madness- the line of success. If you are successful you are a genius, if not you are mad. Aamir is a genius!”
ruled by truth and strength, at the end victory is his alone”. At the other end of the spectrum is Aakash, as different from his earlier portrayals as he could wish for. A quirky contemporary urbane “hard nut to crack” kind of guy, played so naturally with a complete change over from the lovable rural Bhuvan. “Both people live inside of him. On and off the sets he can display a puckish sense of humor, even to pranks.” Those eyes would then twinkle wickedly perhaps. Not all is adulation. Mahesh Bhatt, established film director says “People like Aamir, who are in awe of their own goodness and honesty sometimes get an offensive edge to their personality!” But Pretty Zinta co-star of Dil Chahtha Hai feels he couldn’t
Aamir was never one actor, he changed color and form, morphed into different people seamlessly transcending ‘moulds’ and ‘signatures’, becoming someone who is today regarded as a great actor in his time. But he is a ‘brand’! A one person sure shot, that promises me as his audience, that I could never go wrong seeing a movie essayed by him. And so it is that I go to watch ‘Peepli Live’ today!
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It’s raining Gen,
halleluja Time to get genie out from the bottle…
od must have created Genelia D’Souza in one of His effervescent moods. Or soon after a power workout! But we do know, He created her on August 5th. We aren’t mentioning the year, not because we don’t know but because it really doesn’t matter. She looked 17 when she first breezed in with the Hindi Tujhe Meri Kasam and Boys in Tamil. And seven years later, she looks a sexy 20 somewhat, going on 23 at the most. We’ll let you in on her secret to always looking young too. They used to call her the Preity Zinta of the south and after Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na they call her the new Preity Zinta, period! To this of course, Genelia blushes, gushes and rushes to clarify (in that order) “Nobody can replace anybody. I have always admired Preity when I was growing up and it’s a huge compliment to be even compared to her. A lot of people keep telling me this, but I personally think I have not replaced anybody.” Oh but you have, haven’t you? And
nobody lesser than SRK, Shahrukh freaking Khan, folks! After she was selected as the Brand Ambassador of the Year by the CNBC Awaaz Consumer Awards, brand Genelia replaced brand SRK in the ad circuits! So now we know, it’s not all ‘talk, talk, talk.’ Here’s proof too. So if the next question on your minds is the same as that was on ours, yes Gen uses all the products she endorses. Without exception? “Yes. I wouldn’t endorse something if I am not convinced about it myself. It’s a question of credibility after all and I am very careful about what products I am endorsing. I put myself in the viewer’s and consumer’s shoes. Besides, I stand by the products I endorse. I will never go with a competing brand.” So does she pick products that go with her personality? “Yes, you could certainly say that. I wear Fastrack glares and I drink Fanta and eat Perk and use Garnier,” she offers in one go. By now we know, she doesn’t need to get excited for dancing eyes; it happens anyway, say every three
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minutes or so. It reminds us of Hasini from Bommarillu the Telugu film in which Gen was featured alongside Siddharth. Hasini, her character grew bigger than the film, went beyond the Telugu industry and became synonymous with her. This sure widens the grin. “Hasini was this adorable character I totally fell in love with even before I did the film. Bhasker who directed Bommarillu sat me down and told me all about this girl who is very straight hearted and stands up for herself. That’s where her high energy comes from. You know, from her very core. Very few directors actually describe a character beyond its scope in a film but Bhasker would talk of Hasini like she was a real person. What happened to this girl before the story actually began, where she came from, what she believes in and stuff like that. If I can be even 50 per cent of Hasini, I think I’d be extremely happy. I look up to this character, really and for a long time after Bommarillu, I was still living it. I’ve learnt a lot from her. When people would come to me saying they’ve named their daughters
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Hasini in the hope that she’ll turn out as bubbly and high energy, it was hugely overwhelming and flattering. Someone once approached me when I was waiting at the airport and told me she replaced her wedding sari in the last minute with the kind my character Sasirekha wears in Sasirekha Parinayam. Was I touched or was I touched! Now you know why I choose brands carefully. It’s also a huge responsibility.” The sort that is tiring? Fan mobs and frenzied crowds and stuff like that? “No. Being a celebrity has never been tiring or stressful for me. Knowing that I am a household name in India today gives me a huge high. Honestly, it gets painful only if you behave like a painful celebrity, only when you walk around like a star. After I’m done with my shoot, I am like any other girl who loves to shop and have a nice time. I go to a mall or a movie like anybody else. Of course, people recognise me on the airport and stuff, but that’s ok. Fan crowds have never intimidated me. Yes, it’s foolhardy to deliberately go to a place where you know you will be mobbed but otherwise, I am just my natural self in public. I pose for pictures with people and give autographs without making a fuss, when I’m not pressed for time.” Real stars don’t throw tantrums, eh? “Real people don’t throw tantrums,” says the goddess of spontaneity. “Acting is like any other profession, is it not? If you are focused on your work and totally enjoy yourself, then where is the question of tantrums?” And that in turn also eliminates a lot of stress. “Absolutely! I hardly take any stress.” That’s how she exudes positive energy all the time and also explains why she looks young and fresh and bubbly always. The way she lights up, maybe she can endorse a toothpaste brand too. “Well, I am filled with a wonderful positive energy most of the time, but I am human after all. I have my share of lows too, but I spring back rather easily.” Where does all this grounding come from, we wonder. “One, I’m quite a spiritual person, my faith in God gives me a high. And two, from my family.
My parents, by the way, are quite disciplined and expect the same kind of discipline from me. Once I am home, I am not this star who is expected to be constantly pampered and indulged. I am very much the daughter who needs to inform and go wherever I am going. I can’t just take off in the evening with my folks not knowing where I am. Yes, you heard that right!” Not many know that Genelia has a quiet and lonely side too that very few have seen and known. “That is something the media will not have access to,” she warns. Talking of which, we couldn’t help but bring up the whole Ritesh Deshmukh episode, although it has already been talked about so much. “So what is the point of talking more about it?” But we want to know how she handled her media created hype around her ‘engagement’ with Ritesh. “It was media created.” That’s all we get. But smoke without fire? “You have yourself said there’s so much already talked about it, so why talk some more?” So celebs give the media reason to talk of linkups and breakups, don’t they? “Not always. And let’s just leave it at that, please?” Ok, so who is her favourite star couple? “Oh quite a few. SRK and Gowri, Surya and Jyotika, Mahesh Babu and Namrata. Love them all.” So, man in life? “You aren’t looking for clichéd responses, I know, but can’t help it if there’s none at the moment. Let’s see what life has in store.” No time for love? Guess so, what with so much on her plate already. She’s got Orange in Telugu with Ram Charan Tej, Hook Ya Crook in Hindi with John Abraham, It’s My Life in Hindi again and two Tamil projects - Uthama Puthiran and Velayudham. She’s got totally different roles in all of them. In Orange, she plays a vulnerable young girl who doesn’t know where her career is going, an absolute college kid in It’s My Life and a grown up mature lawyer in one of her Tamil films. She is doing another interesting film by Santosh Sivan called Urumi alongside Prithviraj, which will be a trilingual most probably in Hindi, English and Malayalam. It is set in the 15th century and the story is all about a group of
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men who wanted to assassinate Vasco De Gama, the Portuguese explorer who had set foot in Calicut. Genelia might just play a Portuguese princess in this one. So which of these excites her the most? “All of them. I love all the characters I’ve played so far and find all the new ones pretty exciting. Can’t really pick one over the other. But yes, Hasini will always remain special.” So what next? Ever thought of film direction? “No. Not really. I may, sometime in the future produce a film, perhaps. Maybe a sensible film or maybe a romcom or a love story.” And who is her dream co-star? “Amitabh Bachchan!” Unpremeditated response again. “By the way, I still have the autograph I took from him during the Parker pen ad shoot. “ Cute, what? That was man of dreams. Woman of substance? “Mother Teresa. I really look up to her. And my mom, of course. She has been my strength my biggest motivator. Plus also someone who ensures I’m grounded always. Is she also looking forward to motherhood? “Oh yes. Most certainly.” What’s her take on an increasing number of women coming out in the open and admitting they don’t want children? “Well each to her own. But I wouldn’t want to miss out on the experience.” What else does she not want to miss out on? “Oh well, nothing. Life is beautiful! I believe in enjoying it to its fullest. There will always be peaks and valleys but that’s the most beautiful thing about life, right? I can’t stand people who crib and whine all the time.” One thing we don’t know about her: “I talk to God. The best thing is that He talks back…”
We asked Gen what she’s got to say about some of her most popular co-stars and she was her spontaneous best. Well, almost… Siddharth – My absolute teacher! The biggest music lover I know of. Ram Charan Tej – Truly the rightful heir to Chiranjeevi’s legacy. I think Charan rocks! Imran Khan – He is so much fun, really. Except his sense of humour is such that I usually get his jokes ten minutes too late. Actually, very few people get his jokes at all. Ritesh Deshmukh – A very special friend! Akshay Khanna – Naughty prankster! Make that naughtiest prankster. Shahid Kapoor – Hmmm, perfect chocolate boy. Very different from what you see on screen. John Abraham – Highly relatable. I look up to him for where he’s reached without any godfathers.
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23 years in films, 50 films and over 1000 commercials. Do the math and youâ€™ll know why Ravi K Chandran, better known as RKC, is one of the leading cinematographers in India today. Sridevi Sreedhar gets a wide angle shot of the man behind the lens.
C -derie! amera
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e’s much in demand, has a stellar list of names he’s worked with. And if it interests you, has a fan in Shah Rukh Khan! Hailing from Kerala, Ravi drew inspiration from close quarters. His brother, Ramachandra Babu was considered as a doyen among Malayalam cameramen and was a favourite of the late Bharathan and I V Sasi in the 70s and 80s.
The conversation steers to the best cameramen in the business today. “P C Sreeram and Balu Mahendra brought in revolutionary changes to photography. Their work and contribution to Indian cinema has been incredible. And they were willing to experiment.” Ask him about Mani Ratnam and he smiles. “Mani sir is a true genius. He shoots fast and uses a lot of natural light. He is one director who allows you to improvise, pushes you to the brim, and knows all about camera and lighting.” Talk about the other Khan and RKC
is extremely professional. She adds a special something to her character, is a team player and knows everyone on the sets by name.” And what about Ranbir? “He is a sweetheart, the next superstar. Is a combination of Naseerudin Shah and SRK! I would call him the Mohanlal of Hindi films.” RKC incidentally has just completed Anjaana Anjaani with Ranbir and Priyanka in New York On why he took a six year break from Tamil cinema, Ravi says: “My dates for next year are blocked and I do only one film at a time. Murugadoss knew my schedules and smartly blocked my dates a year ago. And I missed doing Imtiaz Ali’s Rock Star and Farhan Aktar’s Don 2 to accommodate this film. But I am happy, as it is mostly being shot in Chennai and I can be near my family”. The film titled 7 am Arivu (seventh sense) has Suriya and Shruti Haasan in the lead. Ravi is all praises for the script, sharing that he has started work on the storyboard, something that he picked up from the late director Bharathan. He has illustrated the
Black, Paheli, Yuva, Kannathil Mutthamittal, Dil Chahta Hai, Kannezhuthi Pottum Thottu, Firaaq, Virasat, Saawariya, Kandukondein Kandukondein
Later, Priyadarshan gave him the big ticket to Bollywood with Virasat. This in turn got him Farhan Akhtar’s Dil Chahta Hai. He went on to shoot Black and Paheli, which also made him a strong contender for the 2008 National Award, but hasn’t won any despite being deserving. RKC doesn’t take that lightly: “I think you need a bit of luck and heavy lobbying to get a National Award. A lot of my friends expected my work in Black to be noticed. Films like that don’t come that easily, but nevertheless, it gave me immense satisfaction as a cinematographer and it will remain one of my best works.” RKC’s filmography is awe-inspiring and today, he is one of India’s highest paid cameramen. Quiz him on this and he quips: “I take my salary in white money and
recollects, “Aamir is a genius and his house is like a library where you will find books from science fiction to cartoons and practically everything in between. Recently I met up with Ang Lee and Anurag Kashyap for dinner at Aamir’s place and I felt so out of place when they started talking about a book written by a German author. Considering that he is a school dropout, Aamir is an encyclopaedia when it comes to anything under the sun, so well-read, open to criticism and ideas and such a mystery to everyone around him.” Quiz him on his favourite among the flock of women in the acting business and he is quick to respond: “All the girls - Rani, Preity Kajol and Aishwarya - with whom I have worked are dedicated actors. But Priyanka is my current favourite. She is hard working, hassle free, does her homework and
scenes and has made montages of it. He is working with the director, editor and cast to get the look of the film. “It is a romantic action thriller with a subtle message”, he says: “It’s a delight to work with Suriya who has matured as an actor.” Ever the perfectionist, Ravi has no plans to direct a film but looks forward to doing a film as Director of Photography, in Malayalam. There’s a rider though: the script has to be exciting, and he’ll only sign it for directors like Jayaraj or Shyamaprasad. Needless to say, Ravi is excited. So are we!
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Ravi’s 10 best picks
Ravi is proud of having grown up on good cinema and had an early exposure to the works of Truffaut and Godard and works of others in international cinema. Now, his residence at K K Nagar in Chennai is filled with photographs, sketches, and tonnes of books and magazines on cinema. He got a break as an independent cameraman in Kilukkampetti followed by the super hit Ekalavyan. Ravi later moved to Chennai and played assistant to Rajiv Menon in Minsarakanavu and then as an independent cameraman in Kandukondein Kandukondein. From then on, his growth was phenomenal.
pay my taxes regularly. I have no vices, no flashy cars or lifestyle excesses. I come from a middle-class background and even today, my wife is uncomfortable dining in five star hotels. We live in our 22 year old, two-bedroom house in K K Nagar and my kids go to school by auto or cycle.” A thoughtful pause later, he concedes, “I do charge a hefty amount for a commercial film and at the same time work free for a film like Nandita Das’ Firaaq, which gives me creative satisfaction.”
MOVIEGOERS GET FIRST LOOK AT ANGELINA
JOLIE & JOHNNY DEPP IN THE TOURIST
oviegoers eager for their first look of The Tourist, the highly anticipated romantic thriller starring Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie, will be able to catch the new theatrical trailer for the film, on the internet Wednesday night, 15 September in India exclusively on Yahoo! The film will be released in theatres nationwide on 31 December, 2010. Johnny Depp stars as an American tourist whose playful dalliance with a stranger leads to a web of intrigue, romance and danger in The Tourist. During an impromptu trip to Europe to mend a broken heart, Frank (Depp) unexpectedly finds himself in a flirtatious encounter with Elise (Angelina Jolie), an extraordinary woman who deliberately crosses his path. Against the breathtaking backdrop of Paris and Venice, their whirlwind romance quickly evolves as they find themselves unwittingly thrust into a deadly game of cat and mouse. Directed by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, and written by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck and Christopher McQuarrie and Julian Fellowes, â€œThe Touristâ€? is a GK Films presentation in association with Spyglass. The film is produced by Graham King, Tim Headington, Roger Birnbaum, Gary Barber and Jonathan Glickman. Studio Canal is also a partner on the production.
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Cinema, Music & Art with the Brew | October 2010 | 37
A Kaleidoscope OF ART
Rini Her Idiom Rini’s art while textured with edifying metaphors speaks a universal language, chronicling her own fulsome journey; a life lived ‘to the lees’ very much like her protagonists. A lady of intensity, she has experienced the buoyancy of joy alongside the traumas that life entails. With ancestral roots in East Bengal, her experiences are multi-hued, enriching the works with a language that is at once sensual and cerebral, epitomizing an angst paradoxically coexisting that certain ‘liveliness’. The interplay of color and texture only enhance that instinctive relationship she shares with nature and our ecosystem, her love for textile design and clay modeling. Says Rini of her love for nature that forms the backdrop - “It has to have an instinctual relationship with the world around us. Today one speaks of negating aesthetics - but can aesthetics ever be denied? Can it be wiped out from this world, which is so varied and beautiful?” The Genesis, The Journey & Her place in India’s present art scene A painter/ printmaker Rini taught at the faculty of Fine Arts since 1984, and was strongly influenced by the ethics and ethos of the institution that was built by visionaries who had an
understanding and perception of art as a means to question and probe beyond the conventional and mundane and a desire to sustain the unique identity of the institution and strive for excellence. As a teacher and artist she felt, acutely, the significance of complete dedication and commitment to the student such that personal ambition was set aside, even while in the external world fame and success are viewed, by many, to be of paramount importance. Scholastic Sojourn Rini, in her sangfroid and nonorchestrated way, has paced herself with a composed growth graph and strong foundations built on great talent - unmindful of the escalating art prices, sometimes unrealistic in relation to experience, creative expertise, talent and age. As she confided to me recently - ‘hardly anyone sketches today, it’s all such a rush to create canvases’. But Rini is not a factory. She takes weeks, sometimes months to complete her works, painstakingly working layer over layer, creating a work where there is a mesmerizing interplay of translucent images that create a concurrence of form and shadow. A luminosity that is unique to her and colors overlap, juxtapose, intersect each other creating a tremendous
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variety of tonality and movements through lines and texture. She has not used the yardstick of present ‘production’ of art, but has taken her time, living , metamorphosing and creating from her haven, her courtyard studio in Baroda, adjacent to ‘Mani da’, KG Subramanyum, and with her husband, dean of the Baroda School of Art. And certainly her post-collegiate stint with Krishna Reddy at Hayter’s Atelier 17 Paris, where she walked the streets of this quixotic city and worked gives to her work an optimism and that strength of purpose in the characters, that “quality of Leela (play) that enlivens her imagery. As a colorist her feel for tonal values is full of rasabhavas (emotive flavor) indicated in ancient Indian aesthetics” Rini’s Symbolism What makes Rini’s work special to a wide audience is that her pictorial patois deal with illusion, dreams, and subconscious meanderings intertwined with real world images. Sometimes dreamlike, sometimes enigmatic, her works are often an expression of an inner life rather than artistic style or form. Rini’s symbolic motifs - the dragonfly, the fish, the owl, the conch, the griffin, the lion, the lotus and other flora and fauna - are instruments of evocation and ambiguity rather than a direct
transference of meaning: ‘Suggestion, that is the dream’ favor feelings over reason with a desire of the artist to use redolent subjects and images rather than explicit analogy or direct description – as an illustration, her soaring female forms are associated with sexual desires in her interpretation.
works - of cultures and traditions that she has traversed, continually observant, interacting with fellow travelers, feverishly sketching in her
However, I often feel Rini is equally keen on the content and concept of expression within the inner life of the work, transcending a mere artistic style or form. And then some of the works are imbued with the mysterious, at times nearly macabre or morbid, which has been seen as a phenomenon of the fin de siècle. The insatiable search by this artist is never ending and adds to the growth and individual philosophy of her visual idiom.
The Devi or Mother Goddess is alive in her works, pulsating with vibrancy and power, analogous to the quintessential Indian woman that embodies nearly super-human strength along with a sensuality of form. Expertly she exaggerates the chiaroscuro to imbue the female form with an unique energy that gives vitality to the forms of a varied yet concomitant pantheon of Laxmi, Durga, Saraswati, Maheshaasurani, Kali, Gayatri, Brahmacharini, the Nayika, the levitating Devi; even the seated Sethaiyan in her diaphanous sari or the Bengali housewife. The female form is not quiescent but radiates a latent power. Her works speak of victory, strength, power and divinity of the female form that triumphs in the face of challenge and trial, and emanates an inner glow, coming out triumphant, effulgent with an aura of composure and radiance. We also see the Hindu monkey god Hanuman making an entry, again epitomizing an innate strength intertwined with playfulness, in fluid water colors rendered delicately and embellished with an assiduous eye to detail.
Rini’s Imagery Rini Dhumal has used the kaleidoscopic imagery of world travel and mythology to recreate an evocative power play of divinity and mysticism, sensuousness and eroticism in her work, inhaling those similes from travels in India, China –tracing the silk route, Burma, Istanbul and other yatraas. Devoid of preconceived spiritual representations or pedagogical theories of religions, her gods and goddesses are universal, and she narrates through these sceneries and mythologies, using collaborative mediums- rendering her experiences in a modern contemporary context. These panoramic responses to her experiences are honest and sensitive, abounding in freshness and style. Like a diary of her life with richness in substance incorporating vital elements like soul and spirit and universal ingredients like emotion and joie de vivre that beget originality and being in her works. Rini’s true voice prevails with a spirituality that percolates through her work, intertwined with an innate consciousness to all events that keep her incessantly alert to her milieu. She is responsive and interested, telling stories and chronicling her existence and her times through her
icons, curios, printing blocks that reappear in her space and her works so that her home is more like an installation. And so a pastiche of these pulsating motifs that fascinatingly appear in her works as metaphors are woven in with influences of Hindu philosophy, frescoes and architectural excavations, mosques, Christian iconography, textiles , woodwork, craft, countries, moving landscapes, her travels, color and life.
Technique, Medium, Interplay of the Artist
notebooks that form the research for her final works. Rini collects literally and in spirit, antiquities, temple art,
Adroitly handling a plethora multimedia, the flexibility in manipulating each to its fullest potential comes from experience and comfort with each of them. An organic interplay of energy between figures, objects and space comes through each medium that speaks its own language and uninhibited use of technique. Her skill with print-making brings with it a distinctive quality in her treatment
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of surface textures both in acrylics and multi-media, her use of bold teals, indigos, olives and ochre. Her multi-hued imagination, the innate passion, the compelling captivating potency of technique, subject matter and talent has made Rini one of the very important artists in India’s Contemporary Art scene where the international art world has got up to take note. An artist of composure and connected closely with a personal journey beyond common worldly ambition and without overt desire for publicity and fame, that often eventually dilute the quality of work. I believe in art which speaks a universal language - which has a life of its own one with a certain degree of permanence which portrays the feel and flow of life with all its colored nuances and experience. My experiments with multi-media techniques have helped each other. Whether it is lino cuts, serigraphs, glass painting, painting or the recent ceramic works they all have the same concern for human relationship and interaction. A lyrical thread weaves through these images by use of textures and tones. I have no inhibition regarding any technique. Each medium speaks its own language, and expresses a significant expression within the frame through color and line and the transparent psyche. As I have enjoyed the potentials and challenge offered by various artistic medium, I thought of trying my hands at clay. I did not want to work in ceramics in round as I wanted to extend my pictorial images into this medium. Painting with ‘on glaze’ was the easiest way out to translate colored images onto tiles. This led me to the series titled “Earth-fired”. However, I also wanted to probe into the clay surfaces. This led me into experiences with colored slips and transparent glazes. The possibilities of incising lines and textures into the soft clay were quite exciting as I could relate graphically to this medium. The search is never ending but these experiments might lead me in to something else.
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Somersaults in MALLIKA SARABHAI I am on an adventure with Alex. That is my new acquaintance - Alex Bellos, journalist, peripatetic traveller and a wonderer in Numberland. Do I see a puzzled look come into your eyes? Well my adventure with Alex is through his fascinating book Alex’s Adventures in Numberland – Dispatches form the Wonderful World of Mathematics. Have you ever wondered why we use
the number ten as the base, as in the decimal system? All of us who are over forty remember inches and feet and dozen and gross not so long ago. And twelve as a unit makes much more sense than ten. Ten divided by anything but five and two comes up with awful figures. Like 3.33 when we need three parts or 14.285 when we need a seventh part. But think of twelve as a unit once again. It can be
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divided by many more numbers – 2, 3, 4, 6 and therefore come up with many cleaner numbers when divided. In fact there are people and societies which exist to try and re-push the agenda of the dozenal, as it is called. And one of the main proponents, the President of the Dozenal Society of America, Michael de Vlieger, argues about its usefulness in all the measurement using occupations from architecture,
to engineering to carpentry. Have you ever wondered why stocks are called stocks and the stock market the stock market? What is a stock? Well, in the 19th century the Bank of England used to use sticks to indicate a certain monetary value when they borrowed or loaned money. The sticks had a mark on them which indicated the amount, based on the distance from the base. A piece of wood used to be split down the middle giving two parts, the stock and the tally, one for the bank the other for the borrower or lender. The same marking was made on both, with the tally acting like a receipt. The lender became the stock holder or the stockbroker. Hence the current term.
the beads the only sound heard there. An even more fascinating aspect of Soroban is the aspect called Anzan. After mastering the abacus for a few years, you can visualise it without actually having it in your hands. Only the best students get the hang of this. To encourage it, Yuji Miyamoto, head of the best abacus school in Tokyo, not only holds national championships but has also developed the computer game Flash Anzan. It is an astonishingly difficult game which no calculator or computer can solve at
the speed of the mental mathematics that the visualisation allows. Experiments with brain imaging done inJapan during an Anzan competition show that an entirely different part of the brain is used for this than what is used in solving conventional maths puzzles. Alex’s book is a treasure house for the curious and those interested in connecting the dots of history and culture. More on this another time.
Many of us who today consider English as our first language, still say our times tables in our mother tongue – I do it in Gujarati. Somehow what used to be sing song fun in Indian languages seems to become drab in English. Alex’s research indicates that this quality of times tables exists in most Asian languages and gives us an innate edge on mathematical speed over westerners. Experiments have consistently shown that Asians find it easier to learn counting than Europeans. “In one study with Chinese and American four and five year olds, the two nationalities performed similarly when learning to count to 12, but the Chinese were about a year ahead with higher numbers.” Though I use my fingers to count even today, I for one never used the abacus, though I think that in the past parts of India have had them. Well in Japan, with all the modernity of computers and calculators, the abacus is still in huge demand, not necessarily to do daily maths, but as a symbol of pride in history and mental prowess. Children go to Soroban or abacus classes as they would to skating or tai chi. The system even has a belt system like in the martial arts. There are over 20,000 abacus clubs in the city of Tokyo alone. Young bright children from age five to twenty go to hone their skills of super fast calculating with the clicks of
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The Children’s Book T A review by Ashwitha Jayakumar
he first time I ever read anything by A.S Byatt was regrettably after I’d watched a sickly, truncated, heinously unravelled cinematic version of Possession. Nonetheless, something about its story made me seek out the novel at the library. Despite my general dislike for 21st century writing, Possession now triumphantly stands on my shelf of books I read over and over, simply because the thoughts in it have, at sometime or other, struck me. As a scholar, an academic, a lover of books and a passionate champion of the Victorians, I loved every wry comment, every plot twist and every piece of carefully crafted faux Victorian poetry in it. No wonder then, that when I realised a new novel was out, I mentally wrote a note to myself to buy it as soon as it became cheap enough to accommodate within my stringy student budget. And it didn’t disappoint. Over 600 pages of writing, describing the lives of a vast array of characters on the brink of both personal change and historical upheaval, sprinkled with mentions of Oscar Wilde, JM Barrie and Virginia Woolf – could I have asked for more? The Children’s Book reminded me of Middlemarch: it was complex, layered, characters’ lives mirrored other
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characters’ lives, history was invested with a relentless power, forcing itself into the narrative throughout, and for all that, I still wept at the end because I cared about the people I’d spent the last two days getting to know. As a reader, I could hardly want anything else. I often think, that in the rush to move forward, to experiment and be ever more… self-consciously conceited about the things we can do with words, we forget the power of an aesthetic reconstruction of the past as a window into seeing the world as it is today. We push and push and push boundaries of textual possibility, but when that’s done, what have you got besides unceasing chaos attempting to convey meaning (or perhaps, not even that)? I like my historical novels. I like them even better when they’re as good as The Children’s Book is, at shedding new light on the way people are swept up into history, without ever realising it, while also questioning the way we see art, artists, love, women, society, family, rules, politics, free-thinking, revolution and war. It begins during the waning of Victorian England, as the slow, simmering rebellion of the various societies against what were previously considered unshakeable codes of conduct grows and grows, until finally all of the various thoughts, beliefs, ideologies, desires and fears find themselves inextricably enmeshed in the manic explosion of World War I. If you want to understand how we got from stuffy drawing rooms, tea-parties and corsets to free love, read it. And if you want to understand how mired we still are in the beliefs of ages past (even though we might like to think we’re a freer, better, wiser generation), read it.
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