Interviews – BollySpice.com http://bollyspice.com The latest movies, interviews in Bollywood Fri, 29 Jul 2016 08:00:26 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.5.3 Natalie Perera: “Bazodee is extraordinary and unique” http://bollyspice.com/natalie-perera-bazodee-extraordinary-unique/ Wed, 27 Jul 2016 01:00:58 +0000 http://bollyspice.com/?p=126402 Releasing on August 5th is a new take on a Bollywood movie. Bazodee mixes elements of a Bollywood musical with a distinctly Caribbean island flavor. Set on the vivid, colorful islands of Trinidad & Tobago, the film pulses with the sensuous dance rhythms of Soca music. Directed by Todd Kessler, the film stars Kabir Bedi, Natalie Perera, Machel Montano, Kriss Dosanjh, Valmike Rampersad, and Staz Nair. Bazodee, which means a state of confusion, a state of love, tells the story of Anita Ponchouri (Natalie Perera), the dutiful Indian daughter of a deep-in-debt businessman (Kabir Bedi). Anita is about to marry

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Releasing on August 5th is a new take on a Bollywood movie. Bazodee mixes elements of a Bollywood musical with a distinctly Caribbean island flavor. Set on the vivid, colorful islands of Trinidad & Tobago, the film pulses with the sensuous dance rhythms of Soca music. Directed by Todd Kessler, the film stars Kabir Bedi, Natalie Perera, Machel Montano, Kriss Dosanjh, Valmike Rampersad, and Staz Nair.

Bazodee, which means a state of confusion, a state of love, tells the story of Anita Ponchouri (Natalie Perera), the dutiful Indian daughter of a deep-in-debt businessman (Kabir Bedi). Anita is about to marry a wealthy Londoner (Staz Nair) when a chance encounter with local Trinidadian singer, Lee de Leon (Soca music star Machel Montano) sets things askew. In search of a muse, de Leon agrees to perform at the engagement party. Unable to deny their mutual attraction, and with the excitement of Carnival approaching, Anita must now choose between the answer to her family’s financial prayers and the possibility of real love. It is about being true to yourself and honest in love at all costs!

In this exclusive interview, star Natalie Perera talks about Bazodee, which she calls an unique musical love story and why she loved being a part of this cool film.

Natalie Perera BazodeeWas acting something that you always wanted to do?
Yes. I’ve always been an actor. In my opinion actors are grown-ups who never stopped playing and as an adult I am constantly acquiring and refining my skills in order to play well. My addiction to acting began at church playing famous missionaries in the Sunday Schools plays, and later in my life after I graduated from university where I studied Classics, I went on to study Text and Performance at RADA and Acting at Royal Central School of Speech and Drama.

What were your first thoughts when you heard the idea of Bazodee?
I thought Claire Ince had written an absolute gem of a script that immediately had major feel good factor. In addition to that I was super excited that the lead role is a woman, Asian and from the Caribbean. My ethnic heritage is Sri Lankan and I was hyped up to represent an Island Indian. Then I saw it was shooting in Trinidad. What’s there not to like?! With all that’s happening in the world today it’s a great thing to be transported to something positive.

How would you describe this film?
Bazodee is completely unique, like nothing you’ve ever seen. I would describe it as a musical dramedy and a love story. For me, it’s like Mamma Mia dipped in Indian culture and Trinidad and Tobago.

The film has such an intriguing and interesting concept, what do you makes it so special and why did you want to play a part in it?
Bazodee is such a pleasurable film on the senses. Firstly, it’s of course set in gorgeous Trinidad and Tobago one of the most spectacular places on planet earth, with it’s vibrant culture and colour. Then there’s the pulsing, infectious and energetic glimpse of carnival and the music of Machel Montano that will make anyone want to get out of their seats and move. Lastly, it’s a love story set in this heaven and I was super excited to work with EMMY-nominated director Todd Kessler and jumped on this unique project wholeheartedly.

Bazodee still 1Tell us about Anita and how you became the character?
Anita is a young woman, who lost her mother at a very young age, is very close to her father and takes care of him and everyone around her. She thinks she’s got it all figured out until she meets Lee and is knocked sideways. I studied the script, asked a lot of questions from Todd Kessler about my backstory, accent and ethnicity. I worked hard finding an accent that would fit with Anita’s Indian heritage, her international schooling/ fiancé from London and a slight Trinidad flavour. I also got the opportunity to hang out with the wonderful local actors and crew and learned more about Anita’s cultural surroundings. The process felt very organic for me.

If you were in her shoes what would you do?
In everything I do, I always follow my heart.

Tell us about working with esteemed actor Kabir Bedi?
Working with Kabir Bedi was an absolute blessing. What a fabulous voice! Even though he’s such a big name he was so obliging and humble in his dealings with me, giving me helpful tips and tricks that only a pro would know. I remember seeing him in Octopussy as a child and thinking ‘if an Asian can be a Bond villain maybe I too can be a Bond villain one day.’ He is an inspiration and just the loveliest man and apparently everyone who has played his daughter has gone on to do very well so I hope that luck rubs off on me too.

Also what about working with Machel Montano?
Working with Machel was amazing. He is the life and soul of the party and people adore him. He has an abundance of energy and brought it to set. It was great to play alongside him because he is so relaxed and at easy around cameras and I feel we worked really well together. I really had to up my game to work alongside fully-fledged stars, but that’s all part and parcel of the excitement. He has spent his life performing on stage and in front of cameras and it was no surprise that he is a natural.

Natalie Perera Bazodee 4Tell us about the music of the film?
Machel’s music and Soca is the most energetic, infectious and colourful kind of party music that manages to have heart. I think that is because it seems to have a rich history.

Are you a Soca fan now?
I’m definitely a fan. I can’t work out at the gym without Soca and in my opinion it’s the best party music “it gets the people going!” There is nothing quite like it. In the film Anita says, “He makes happy music, the world needs that.” I completely agree with that! Soca gets me going.

Why do you think it’s important to make films like this?
The script is so positive and has major feel good factor. It’s not often you see a female, Asian lead from the Caribbean as the lead in a film and I think that alone is an important and exciting feature about Bazodee. My ethnic heritage is Sri Lankan and I am hyped up to represent Island Indians. It was the first time I came across such a different role and I became really excited about it. The director Todd Kessler cast local Trinidadian actors in this film, which in my opinion is amazing because it’s a country bursting at the seams with talent. Bazodee is so wonderful because it showcases people and cultures that don’t often get exposure. Bazodee is unique. It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen before. Once you see it, you’ll know what I mean.

Your thoughts on Hindi films today?
I think it’s great how the variation, scale and scope of Hindi films are growing today. The Bollywood film industry is one of the biggest in the world and is catering for diverse audiences and tastes and I think that’s brilliant. I am a fan of all genres of film. They each offer entertainment and storytelling that have unique qualities and fill a particular niche.

Natalie Perera Bazodee 2If you could star with one actor of actress who would that be?
There are so many actors I’d love to work with; it’s really hard to choose. I think I’d love to work with Joanna Lumley because she is just utterly fabulous and Sophie Okonedo because I love the work she does and I find I’m 100% engaged whenever I watch her in anything! As for male actor, it would be Steve Carell because I think he’s so damn funny, has a spectacular range and he’s my favourite male actor right now.

Would you like to be part of a Hindi film?
Absolutely! I’m interested in becoming as accomplished as possible and performing in a variety of genres is a great way to do that. Do you know of anyone casting?

What do you think audiences are going to love about this film?
Bazodee is a universal story about two people who fall in love and have to combat other conflicting aspects of their life to choose to follow their heart or not. It’s unique and a pleasurable feel good film. The audience is transported to heavenly Trinidad and Tobago, where they get a burst of the Carnival experience and colour accompanied by the music of Machel Montano, that will make anyone need to get out of their seats and dance! The audience will fall in love with Trinidad and Tobago leaving cinemas smiling and happy.

What do you love about Bazodee?
I enjoyed working with Todd Kessler very much. He was the captain of the crazy party ship that was Bazodee and I felt he was a wonderful leader. He made me feel confident and enthusiastic about the process throughout the shoot. I loved my time in Trinidad and Tobago and the family of talented friends I made there. It was an unforgettable experience for me, and a privilege to be part of something so extraordinary and unique to anything I’ve even seen.

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Director Shefali Bhusan On The Magic and the Music of Jugni http://bollyspice.com/director-shefali-bhusan-magic-music-jugni/ Fri, 15 Jul 2016 09:00:38 +0000 http://bollyspice.com/?p=125917 Making its premiere tonight at the London Indian Film Festival is Shefali Bhusan’s magical musical tale Jugni. The film, set to the rustic beats and full of sound and feeling music by Clinton Cerejo, stars Sugandha Garg, Siddhant Behl, Sadhana Singh, Anuritta K Jha, Samir Sharma, and Chandan S Gill. Set in the beauty of Punjab, Jugni tells the tale of Vibhavari (Vibs) a young composer from Mumbai. She is in search of Bibi Saroop, the voice that she believes will be the saviour of her new score. She bumps into Bibi’s dashing son Mastana who also has an incredible

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Jugni posterMaking its premiere tonight at the London Indian Film Festival is Shefali Bhusan’s magical musical tale Jugni. The film, set to the rustic beats and full of sound and feeling music by Clinton Cerejo, stars Sugandha Garg, Siddhant Behl, Sadhana Singh, Anuritta K Jha, Samir Sharma, and Chandan S Gill.

Set in the beauty of Punjab, Jugni tells the tale of Vibhavari (Vibs) a young composer from Mumbai. She is in search of Bibi Saroop, the voice that she believes will be the saviour of her new score. She bumps into Bibi’s dashing son Mastana who also has an incredible voice. Vibs records Mastana’s renditions of Punjabi folk songs as well as Bibi Saroop’s song. What happens next? Is it a bittersweet tale or happily ever musically after? You have to watch the film to see! The film is all about dealing with the hardships in life and the search of a place which one can call home; where the firefly is at her brightest.

I was lucky enough to be able to see a screener of the film and I absolutely loved it. Each note was in perfect pitch. But that is for another article.

I was happily able to catch up with the director right before her flight to London to talk about the story, the actors, the incredible music and much more. See what Shefali had to say in this exclusive and in depth conversation on all things Jugni!

What was the spark that began your journey to making Jugni?
I have been close to music all my life. Ever since I was a child I was always close to folk music and it was played a lot in my family. I sang a lot with my mother and cousins. In the year 2000, along with a group of people, I started a project called Beat of India. For that project, we traveled to different parts of the country, to the interiors, to the villages and small towns etc, looking for unexplored folk musicians and talent. We made recordings of them; something like what Vibs does in the film except she was working towards a film – here we were just working towards putting it up on a website. Basically trying to fill the gap between the availability and the love for that kind of music. People might want to hear it, but there is no way that they can get to hear it. We recorded with about 70 to 75 musicians all across north India. We found some very rustic music. On our journeys we came across some very interesting characters. In fact, two of the characters in the film are very loosely based on some of the Punjabi singers that I have met. Mainly a lady called Swarn Nooran and her son called Dilbahar. Interestingly, Swarn Nooran’s granddaughters have become very, very popular in the music industry today – the Nooran sisters. Swarn’s mother was actually a legendary singer called Bibi Nooran. So Swarn Nooran and her son were the inspiration for Bibi Saroop and Mastana.

How long did it take to go from page to screen?
I think I started writing it in 2011 and it finally released in 2016, so maybe 4 years of writing, but not to say I was working on it continuously. It was actually in 2013, me and my 2 partners Manas Malhotra and Karan Grover joined together and that is when it really started to fall into place. By then I had more or less finished writing – you know how it is with writing a script… it never ends. It will continue to go on and on until you actually do say: ‘Okay, fine, finished, closed. I am just going to shoot this script. I am going to finalize the dates and lock it.’ That is the only way you can close a script or else it will just keep going on and on. There is never any end to it. (Laughs) It took a long time in that sense, but the shoot was actually very, very short. We had a schedule of about 35 days; but we had a very quick DOP and a nice cohesive team so we managed to wrap up the schedule in 28 days actually. Which is almost unheard of, especially with a first film. It was very, very good. I was very lucky in my first film to have found a dream team. I mean starting from Clinton Cerejo [music director] to my DOP to my editor to my co producers, it really has just been a dream team absolutely. I have been very lucky.

I loved how Sugandha Garg played Vibhavari and how her character was not what was expected. What was it like working with her to create Vibs?
It was absolutely wonderful. As an actress she brings a lot of nuance, her eyes talk and she brings a lot of layers to her character. The interaction with her was very, very exciting because she already brings it to level seven. Then as a director you want to add more layers because you can already see the possibilities and you try to take it even higher.

It was difficult to convince her initially. In fact, she was rather reluctant in the initial talks that we had. Her concern was why is the audience going to root for her character. My answer to her was that it is not necessary for the audience to root for that character because it is not necessary to be a protagonist that everyone roots for. Even so, because that character is so real if she is true to whatever she is thinking and true to what she is doing, people are going to root for her or at least enough people are going to root for her (laughs) as a protagonist. She asked me to give her an example of a character that is the protagonist of a film who is so grey. I gave her an example of film called Bhumika, starring one of my favorites Smita Patil. It is a film in the 80s and she is playing an actor who is wonderfully grey and wonderfully complex. I love her in the film, everybody loves her and the film is fantastic. I gave Sugandha that example and that is when something clicked into place in her head and that is when she really became enthusiastic. For me, she has done a fabulous job. There is a lot of subtext in her performance and that is the way I wanted it to be.

Jugni still

Mastana played by Siddhant Behl was also amazing. What was it like to work with him and bring this character to life?
He is somebody I have known for a very long time. We came from the same theater group though we were actors in that theater group at different times. I knew him for a long time and we had a comfort level. He is also an associate writer on the film. He brought a lot of stuff to table. However, he was more difficult to work with as a director because he has his own ideas and he wanted to continuously argue about those ideas. To my mind, film is very much a director’s medium. At some point you need to submit to the director otherwise there’s going to be 35 different visions going on. Sometimes I had to be very, very hard (laughs) to kind of get my way with him. He finally did. Because he is an actor who is very, very spontaneous and loves to improvise, which is very good in the theater space but in cinema sometimes you cannot do that because from one angle to another you cannot be doing something different, I think all of that used to restrict him a lot, which I understand. He is a fabulous actor. He has got that X factor, if you know what I mean. There is something about him that when he smiles the screen lights up. He is very, very charming. And audiences by large have just loved him. It has been fabulous.

Sadhana Singh played Bibi Saroop brilliantly; she brought so much strength and depth to the film. I think I read she had acted before in films…
Yes, she had debuted in the film called Nadiya Ke Paar in the 80s I think, which became a big hit. It was her first film and she has known by the name of that character in the film ever since. Then there was a long gap in between. She is a fantastic actor. She is very, very precise, like for example for the dubbing of the film, which is one of the portions I actually hated because I wish I had done sync sound; I didn’t so I had to dub the film. But getting back, at the dubbing she looks at her own take once and she delivers it too the tee, perfectly, absolutely. She is just amazing in terms of precision. And like you rightfully said she brings a lot of depth, there is a lot of subtlety and gentleness and a lot of depth in everything that she does. It was lovely.

Of course we have to talk about the incredible music. I absolutely loved it. How did you and Clinton Cerejo create the sounds of Jugni?
Clinton was sort of an unlikely choice. He comes from a very, very different school of music. When he heard the narration of the film just the excitement in his body language was enough for me to know that this is the right person, he is the person we need for this film. I have had a very, very, very good interaction with him. It has been very, very creative. You know when you just kind of hit it off – things just grow from there. You just build on each other’s ideas and this just leads into something, which creates magic. Music is so close to my own heart and it has been a magical experience working with Clinton. He doesn’t have an ego at all – he is completely open to ideas and suggestions. You know like the ‘Hatt Mullah’ song, the first version that he did of that did not work for me at all. The great thing about the interaction was that he leaves space for you to fight and argue, and talk and discuss and he will keep on trying it until both of us are happy. I think with two creative people that’s the only way it works is that if only one person on the team is happy – it is not quite right. If both people say, yes this is it, that is when it is really all there. So if he isn’t happy with something than I am not happy with it either yet because I know something is still missing. We worked on the ‘Hatt Mullah’ song until we’re both really happy. He’s somebody who really loves challenges. He’s someone who completely gives himself to whatever it is that he has on hand. He loves to immerse himself to the extent that he listened to a lot of music of that genre while he was composing the music for the film. In fact, when he was composing the Qawwali, he listened to a lot of Qawwalis. It is not his genre, it is not music he has grown up listening to, unlike me who has heard a lot more of it so I gave him tons of references. He completely immersed himself into those tracks until he is internalized it completely.

Clinton came up with songs that are not exactly in the zone that it always is in in traditional music and yet it is not so far away that it is still believable. That is what I like the most about it. That it is a different sound and yet it is true to its milieu and true to its context.

Then of course you had some incredible singers on the tracks including Rekha Bhardwaj, Vishal Bhardwaj, AR Rahman, Javed Bashir, Rahat Fateh Ali Khan. What was it like to hear them bring this music to life and how did this happen?
We knew that the music was going to be the USP of the film. We were hoping that since we didn’t have a “star cast”, the music was going to be the way to bring audiences in. So we needed to make the canvas of the music as large as possible. We got the opportunity to work with some of the fantastic musicians and singers and it was unbelievable to me. I think Vishalji has worked so closely with Clinton that he agreed to sing with him and he was so lovely through the recording. I think that when it is about their art and it is about the creative arena it isn’t difficult. You realize that things just flow. Everybody’s on the same page by virtue of the fact that they connect to the art. They just become so much easier. Similarly with Rekhaji. AR Rahman has composed his own track, so Clinton has not done that. I have interacted with Rahman a lot but basically this track was made possible because my partner Karan is someone who has worked closely with AR Rahman. He was very gracious and he kind of gave it as a blessing. That was a different kind of blessing for the film.

15dec_jugni

You earlier mentioned the ‘Hatt Mullah’ song. I loved the joining of the modern and traditional in that song.
For me, that was the crux of the whole story. That is actually the summation of the story. That was very important for me to get this song right in every way. I had a certain vision for it and the brief to Clinton was that this was really them making love to that song and the end of it should be like an orgasm in music. So in a sense we are not going to show them making love, this is it, they connect musically and that is what we want to see. That was my brief to the actors as well. That song holds a very special place for me. I think it is the film. Now Clinton did the scratch and though it is in Punjabi there was just so much emotion that he brought to it that we did not want to go with another voice. At one point of time he said oh no, no, no I think, you should get somebody who can enunciate better to sing it. I said oh no, no, no I don’t care about the pronunciation I just want that feeling that you’re bringing to this. It has to be you. You have to sing it. People who know Clinton can’t believe that he has done a Punjabi song he can’t speak a word of Punjabi to save his life. (Laughs)

Would you say that that is your favorite song or do you have another favorite song?
‘Hatt Mullah’ was my favorite song all along until he did ‘Bolladiyaan’, the one that Rekhaji has done. In fact, one version of the song was only there in little bits of the film and that has been sung by Neha Kakkar, who did Bibi Saroop’s voice in the film. He wanted to keep it as a song on the album and get Rekhaji to sing it. I said yes, fine go ahead and do whatever you want for that song. One day he called me and said, ‘Hey Shef, I’ve done something with it come and hear it.’ I was just absolutely mesmerized. It’s just so haunting to me. So that has become my favorite one for a while now. Then I had to figure out how I was going to use it in the film so I decided to use it in the background score. You know, everything has its own journey on how it comes together.

Looking back from that first thought about this script to the finished film what are your thoughts?
At the script level it changed a lot, it evolved a lot. I think that the film that I went out to shoot and the film that it has shaped up to be are quite close and that gives me a lot of strength. Now that I’m writing the next script I know that whatever I am visualizing in my head I can translate it and I know the way that is going to happen. That for a writer – for a director is the most empowering feeling. The other thing that it has done is that I know audiences, a lot of them or most of them, relate to it in the way that I intended them to. That again is very empowering. Then you know, well you don’t know because each film is its own monster, but it just does make you feel that yes I know I can take this from paper to a different medium and it will look the certain way that I have in my head or pretty close to that.

Why is it important to bring artists like Mastana and rural music to the forefront of music?
I think it is just so dynamic. As I said earlier there are no avenues to finding this type of music, to hearing it. You know to bring it to people in the form like Coke Studio does or Coke Studio Pakistan especially is doing is wonderful. There are so many artists that if you bring them in their raw form, like we did in the Beat of India project, there are only going to be an X number of listeners. It is very, very niche. If you take it into a form that is accessible and enjoyable by a larger number, I think, that just helps to keep it alive – to keep those artist who are practicing that alive even after they may be gone. I just think it is so important because there is such gorgeous music that is scattered all across India and the world I’m sure. A lot of it is dying. I mean most of the artists that we recorded with the Beat of India project were over 70 and their children were not doing the same thing so a lot of their music is dying with them.

How exciting is it to be screening in London at the London Indian Film Festival?
It is very special because it is the first time I’m taking the film to an audience outside of India. It is even more special because I’m going to be there and I’m going to see the responses and interact with the audience. I think London is a great and I think the London Indian Film festival is a great forum. I am extremely excited! I am really looking forward to it. I have some butterflies in my stomach as well but I think that’s all good.

What are you working on next?
I am working on sort of a biopic of another musician. There is also another script that a colleague is writing for me. If you are going to be in this business you need to have as many scripts as possible in the bank because you don’t know what’s going to get made and how it will see the light of day. Music is something that I will continue to be working on one way or another. Getting back to this biopic, it’s going to be fictionalized so it’s loosely based on a real person – a very, very inspiring musician. So yes, let’s see how that shapes up.

What do you hope audiences will take away with them after seeing Jugni?
I think that they should relate to one of the characters, some of the characters or all of the characters at some moments. It should feel real to them. If it feels like they felt even a certain moment was true and real and it touched their hearts that is enough for me as filmmaker.

If you are not lucky enough to be in London to see this great film at the festival you can also experience it on Netflix! Then be sure to download the album, I know you are going to want to… I did!

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Writer Naman Ramachandran: “Brahman Naman pushes boundaries and tells a story that has never been told before in the Indian context” http://bollyspice.com/naman-ramachandran-brahman-naman-pushes-boundaries-and-tells-a-story-that-has-never-been-told-before-in-the-indian-context/ Fri, 15 Jul 2016 07:00:36 +0000 http://bollyspice.com/?p=125903 What do you get when you mix together 4 losers, quiz competitions, girls and a lot of hormones? You get the indie comedy film Brahman Naman! Written by Naman Ramachandran, Brahman Naman is directed by Indian indie director Q (Gandu, Tasher Desh and Ludo). This In-Betweeners style coming-of-age comedy backed by a rock anthem score is set in 1980s Bangalore. Know-it all teenager Naman (Shashank Arora), and his fellow nerdy mates Ajay and Ramu win every local quiz competition and get hammered on the prize money. Then their big chance comes as the All-India Quiz Final in Calcutta is announced.

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Brahman_keyart_UK (1)What do you get when you mix together 4 losers, quiz competitions, girls and a lot of hormones? You get the indie comedy film Brahman Naman! Written by Naman Ramachandran, Brahman Naman is directed by Indian indie director Q (Gandu, Tasher Desh and Ludo).

This In-Betweeners style coming-of-age comedy backed by a rock anthem score is set in 1980s Bangalore. Know-it all teenager Naman (Shashank Arora), and his fellow nerdy mates Ajay and Ramu win every local quiz competition and get hammered on the prize money. Then their big chance comes as the All-India Quiz Final in Calcutta is announced. The three quiz musketeers set out on a chaotic train ride north, but on the journey Naman has a mighty crush on the super-quiz heroine Naina. Naman and his mate’s quest for glory by outsmarting their rivals gets confused with exploding testosterone levels and the trio slide into a mad-cap adventure with hilarious consequences.

After screening at the prestigious Sundance Film Festival, the film made its debut on Netflix, garnering great reviews and views. The offbeat comedy is getting ready for its premiere at the London Indian Film Festival tonight. I got the chance to talk with writer Naman Ramachandran about creating the world 80s Bangalore, the quizzes, the characters and more! Check out what he had to say about Brahman Naman.

What was the first spark for this story?
The spark for the story was when Steve Barron and I were in India working on Prakash and we were in Bangalore for close to four months. Every evening, I would take him to my club and there we would meet all of these old quizzers from like 25 years ago – all my mates. He would sit in the corner and he would listen to all of our stories of the good old days. When we got back to London, he said why don’t you write this up as a script. It can be really funny. So I did and here we are!

Then how did it develop from there, taking those stories and putting them all together in a full-length feature film?
The initial stage of every script is that the first thing that you do is that whatever is in your head you just vomit everything out on the page. Then you shape it slowly. I had Steven in the development process and I also had a lady named Rose Garnett, who is now the head of development for Film4. I had them as bouncing boards and they would tell me what was working and what was not working. The script took about 2 years to develop fully and then it took us a further 4 years to find the money. So this process began in 2008. This one took particularly long – 8 years from page to screen. Hopefully the next one will go quicker. (Laughs)

Tell us about working with Q.
We sent Q the script and he absolutely loved it. He came onboard immediately. We had seen his earlier work – Gandu and Tasher Desh, and I thought and Steve thought that Q’s intensity and energy would work for the script. It was a very interesting experience working with him. I was there on set as well. We shot the whole film in 22 days. There was calm, there was storm and there was everything else in between as well.

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So, you were very involved then in the development of these characters from the page to who these kids became on screen…
Yes, I was involved in all the casting and on set I was mainly the script supervisor. I also was the diction coach because the boys and girls had to speak in a certain way – that certain English speaking slow drawl. That was how people spoke in Bangalore in the 80s. Both Q and I wanted to recreate that slowness. You know, it was a time without mobile phones or multichannel television or all of that. Because these kids are millennials, we workshopped with them for about five weeks to get them into that space. In general, the whole idea was to keep it slow and deadpan as possible to reflect the 80s.

What did you think of Shashank Arora as Naman?
I thought he has done a great job. In fact everybody, even the most minor character, I think, has done an amazing job. That is what really makes the film work.

That’s true, because you felt like you were in that world, no character was a wrong note.
Q had a lot to do with that. See we had the cameras rolling even during the workshops. He told the boys and girls to imagine that someone is making a documentary on your life and this thing is going to be in your face and there all the time – so get used to it. And they got used to it and that is why they are not self-conscious in front of the camera. Because that camera was in their face for five weeks before the shoot began.

For me, Shashank Arora as Naman had somewhat the look of a young Shah Rukh Khan, was that something that was intentional or just happenstance?
No, it was not intentional at all. You know we were only looking at him as Naman, it was only during the shoot that we noticed, and ‘Oh there is a resemblance’. It was completely coincidental.

One of the things I noticed was the boys all had a very interesting body language. Was that something that was just them or was that something that developed, as they became the characters?
We wanted them to have the body language of losers, which is what they ultimately are in the film. For Shashank, we just told him to observe me since I was there and observe all the physical tics that I have and incorporate that into his character, which I think he has done brilliantly. Then Ramu, well he broke his foot three days before the shoot so we had to write that into the script rather than find a new actor. We also showed them footage of quizzers and told them to observe the body language of those people and become chameleons.

Did you base your characters on real life?
They are formed by some real life characters but mostly they are composites. You will find a little bit of X in Naman and a little bit of Y and obviously what they brought themselves to the character and what they had inferred from the script.

It was very interesting how much stronger and wiser the girls in the movie were than the boys.
That was completely intentional from the script stage because we knew that the boys were epic losers and we wanted every single one of the girls beginning with Naman’s mother to the other 4 girls – we wanted them to be really strong people. You know the boys actually treat them with a fair bit of contempt. We wanted the girls to win because you can’t lose to losers. (Laughs)

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What do you think is the most important thing about making a film like this?
It is basically to push boundaries and to tell a story that has never been told before in the Indian context so to speak. There has been one documentary about quizzing, but apart from that there has been nothing committed to film about these English speaking elite. Whether it was the boys or the girls they were all a part of that upper middle class urban English speaking elite. You don’t see that in Bollywood or in the regional films speaking our native languages so that is something that we wanted to bring out. Basically creating a world that no one has seen before. Q and I and a few others were of that time, the rest were all millennials so we wanted to imbue them with our spirit.

The film was showcased at the famous Sundance Film Festival.
When we were selected for Sundance that was something really exciting, we really were not expecting it. Then we found out we were in competition at Sundance so that was like the cherry on the cake.

So then how exciting was it to find out that Netflix had picked it up?
Once the whole Netflix thing happened everything became surreal. We were ecstatic because rather going through the usual process here we were getting distribution in 192 territories in 22 languages. We really could not have asked for more.

You are getting ready to premiere at the London Indian Film Festival, what makes that so special?
There is a lot of interconnectivity because Steve Barron, the producer, he saw Q’s film at the London Indian Film Festival and that is when we decided to request Q to direct the film. And as you know I program the festival, so it is kind of like a homecoming for me. Also the film is being played at the British Film Institute Southbank and that is like a cathedral of cinema in the UK. It is the best movie theater in the country. To play at that particular venue is a huge honor.

What are your thoughts on the increase in popularity of Indian independent films the world over?
Two things. One is that films are getting better and better. The second thing is that especially in the last 2-3 years the world is sitting up and taking notice and it not just Sundance it is also Venice, Rome, Toronto, Rotterdam, Tokyo, Busan. I mean last year Busan opened with Zubaan, it was the first time that Busan had opened with an Indian film. It is the combination of the two, I think, the filmmaking is getting better and the world is recognizing it and showcasing it. Things can only get better from here.

What do you think of Hindi films today?
Well, there will always be a market for the big commercial films and people want their entertainment and they get it. But if you look at the new age and not necessarily independent films like Vikas Bahl’s Queen, these are films for the mainstream audience but telling different stories.

Are you working on anything else?
I am looking at a number of things including a couple of projects with Q but we haven’t finalized anything yet. Q is coming to London for the London Indian Film Festival so I will sit down with him there and decide. Apart from that there has been a lot interest in a script that I have already written so I am just going to take some time to see which ones are good and which ones are shit and then send the good ones out and see what happens

How would you describe the tale of Brahman Naman and if asked why someone should see this what would you say?
It is a coming of age comedy directed by India’s leading independent filmmaker. You should see it because you have never seen anything like it before.

Brahman Naman, which you can see on Netflix now if you’re not in London to see it at the festival, stars Shashank Arora as Naman, Tanmay Dhanania and Chaitanya Varad as his sidekicks, and features Biswa Kalyan Rath, Vaiswath Shankar, Sindhu Sreenivasa Murthy and Sid Mallya.

 

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Mohenjo Daro – “I don’t think I would have made this film without the romance.” – Ashutosh Gowariker http://bollyspice.com/mohenjo-daro-dont-think-made-film-without-romance-ashutsh-gowariker/ Sat, 09 Jul 2016 06:09:39 +0000 http://bollyspice.com/?p=125777 BollySpice attended a press conference with the Mohenjo Daro director Ashutosh Gowariker, where we got a sneak peek at his upcoming release starring Hrithik Roshan and Pooja. Here is what he had to say on the film in his own words… Why Mohenjo Daro… It is a civilisation that has fascinated me for many many years. I came face to face with it many times throughout my life, at very undecided, unplanned quarters; like museums, I would get enamoured by artifacts, or when I was doing Lagaan, I was travelling in Bhuj looking for locations I stumbled upon Dholavira, a

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mohenjodaro-hrithikposterBollySpice attended a press conference with the Mohenjo Daro director Ashutosh Gowariker, where we got a sneak peek at his upcoming release starring Hrithik Roshan and Pooja. Here is what he had to say on the film in his own words…

Why Mohenjo Daro…
It is a civilisation that has fascinated me for many many years. I came face to face with it many times throughout my life, at very undecided, unplanned quarters; like museums, I would get enamoured by artifacts, or when I was doing Lagaan, I was travelling in Bhuj looking for locations I stumbled upon Dholavira, a city which is an excavation site. For some time I kept on feeling that I must make a movie on this. I was hoping that I get the opportunity to do that and that opportunity came to me in the form of Hrithik as well as UTV.

What fascinated me was – what is this civilisation? Who are these people? What was their society? What kind of politics did they have? What kind of religion did they have? What did they believe in? What are the manners and morals of society? If I focus only on these aspects and not have a story then it could easily have become a documentary. So a story was a must. That is what I have weaved in based on all the excavation facts that have been found.

I took the help of a lot of archaeologists especially Dr Jonathan Mark Kenoyer (Department of Anthropology – University of Wisconsin). He has spent 35 in Mohenjo Daro. Ajit Prasad, Krishnan, Vasant Shinde, Prabakhar, these are the archologists who have worked in India on the Indian sites. I essentially needed all the information you could give me to build my story.

On ‘Tu Hai’…
There are six animals that represented every city at that time, could be, let me not say emphatically, let me say could be. So these animals are the bull, the elephant, the rhino, the deer, and the unicorn, or the one horned animal which is something very mythical. And Tu Hai focuses on that and the reverse Sindhu.

The reverse Sindhu in my learning, in my study, I realised that they believed in the elements. They believed in water, they believed in the sun, they believed in the land which gives them food, so the river became a very big lifeline.’ Tu Hai’ is in praise of the river.

On doing period films…
Actually these are different eras. When I made Lagaan it was the British era – it is categorised as modern India. When I did Jodha Akbar it was Mugal. I was planning to make a film on Buddha which would have categorised as ancient India but Mohenjo Daro is going way back. It is pre – history. There is nothing written about this. All facts that are being revealed to us are only by excavation, by artifacts that have been found. I found that most fascinating. I think I will stop there and come back to contemporary cinema.

On using his imagination in the making of Mohenjo Daro
I did it in two phases. My phase one was just chatting with the archaeologists, going over all the discoveries that have been made to date. So all the information you find in the scenes all the figurines are there. Even the figurines have a lot of evidence of the type of head dresses that they had, the kind of wardrobe that they had. 80% of the figurines, the women are naked. Obviously I didn’t want to go that way because you can’t have a film based on that type of look. I had to fill in the blanks somewhere, keep what was in the figurines and to build from imagination from there.

They use a lot of precious stone, stones which they call precious but are actually from the river bed. They use a lot of feathers of animals to adorn themselves, they use rose petals for their lips, that kind of information I tried to piece in.

As far as the romance and the politics of the film is concerned, that I have built it by studying other civilisations that were present at this time. The Indus Valley had a lot of trade happening with the Egyptian and Sumerian civilisation, so there was a cultural exchange. There was a lot of exchange that happened so there could be some common things that went to and fro.

As far as the river (Sindhu) is concerned, there are certain idols, figurines that the archaeologists have determined are symbols of a river goddess. I have used those aspects. History is such that you have so many different chains of thoughts, so many different lines that it is difficult to incorporate them all. I had to make a choice, so I decided to go with Dr Jonathan Mark Kenoyer and the other archaeologists I mentioned earlier and build my story from there. There will be a lot of reservations on certain things. I cannot say they are wrong in their reservations, but neither can they say I am wrong because nobody knows. I have created a make believe world, so it is probably my make believe world. I have tried to stay as honest as possible to what could have been.

On the characters…
They are not based on fact. We know Indigo farming was done. Farming was their main occupation. Evidence like that has been used. Sarman (Hrithik) is an Indigofarmer.

The unicorn is a mythical animal so trying to see how that myth can be incorporated. Stuff like that, there has been an amalgamation of fact and fiction.

Hrithik was my first choice, and I am very glad that it materialised. Hirthik has the ability to make any world believable. It is what I feel when I observe him as an actor. He has the ability to create certain convictions within the created world. What I am saying, it’s not a Jodha Akbar, he can even be the role created in Guzzarish, he can even be the role he is going to be in Mohenjo Daro because he tends to do very different things and he tries to do them with a lot of conviction. So for me, for Mohenjo Daro, he was the first choice and I hope he makes the world believable for the audience.

Sunita (Gowarikar) spotted Pooja in an advert and said this is the girl to play the female lead. For quite some time we were looking for the right choice. Someone who can have dignity and grace, hold a shot without saying anything, without saying a single word, a dialogue. That was becoming a task, till Sunita spotted Pooja in an advert.

We called her in an we did a couple of scenes with her. She is extremely sharp on the uptake. Essentially what does a director want, an actor that understands what he is trying to convey, adapt it, internalise it, and give it body, which I think she (Pooja) does very well. It came very naturally to her. Of course we went through the grind of making her do a song where she performed a number; we wanted to see how good was her grace, which helped. So after a series of auditions, we talked to her.

On the Language…
The script of Sindhu is still undeciphered. People are still making several attempts. There are 50 different theories about what the Sindhu script could have been. It is probably the only language that has not been deciphered. It was tricky for me, what to do and how to use that in the movie. Some theories say that it is Prakrit and Brauhi that it goes back to. I decided to use Hindi as the language medium, but I tried to use a Hindi which is not very Sanskritised, but at the same time a little modern. Certain words that are probably used in the Sindhi language, some words are used on the border that we share right now with Pakistan. So it is a mesh of languages to give it a different feel, otherwise it becomes very contemporary and close to our day to day life today. Certain words are pre-historic, possibly at the cost of alienating the audience a bit but I think it is necessary, to allow the audience to enter that world.

On the Location/Sets…
I feel this was our first civilisation in this part of the world. We only have facts, we only have information. We have not created anything make believe from the information that is out there. So for me creation was twofold. One was architecture, so if you see the great bath in ‘Tu Hai’, it is exactly the same size that is in present day Mohenjo Daro excavation site. If you see the pillars and columns, the size of the houses, it’s all probably what could have been. So it’s certain things that allowed me to stay within the boundaries of storytelling. And of course the romance I had to create something that is believable within that space.

On the pressures of including a love story…
I couldn’t have made a film on the Mohenjo Daro civilisation without weaving a love story into it. When you pick a culture like this civilisation, there are certain common elements that come into play. There has to be a hero, there has to be a villain, and there has to be a heroine. They are the three necessary ingredients. Within that the romance becomes very important; otherwise it is difficult to convince an audience of a civilisation. There are many instances of other movies that have been made even in Hollywood where they have done it without these ingredients and these films have not worked because somewhere I think we, when we go to see a movie we want to be entertained. Of course we want to see great sets and property and lush colours, but only after we see the hero and heroine, so the romance becomes important. I don’t think I would have made this film without the romance.

Mohenjo Daro release’s on 12th August

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Powerhouse actress Vidya Balan talks about her new film ‘TE3N’ http://bollyspice.com/powerhouse-actress-vidya-balan-talks-new-film-te3n/ Wed, 08 Jun 2016 03:00:34 +0000 http://bollyspice.com/?p=124556 Vidya Balan is the champion of the female-centric genre in Bollywood and broke the trend that only movies with male actors can set the cash registers jingling at the Box Office with her movies The Dirty Picture and Kahaani. Having won numerous awards worldwide for her acting skills, the 38-year-old actress also completed the duties of a jury member at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival. TE3N (Three) centers around John Biswas (Amitabh Bachchan) who lost his granddaughter, Angela, in a tragic kidnapping incident that scarred him and his wife Nancy forever. But eight years later, while the world has moved

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Vidya Balan is the champion of the female-centric genre in Bollywood and broke the trend that only movies with male actors can set the cash registers jingling at the Box Office with her movies The Dirty Picture and Kahaani.

Having won numerous awards worldwide for her acting skills, the 38-year-old actress also completed the duties of a jury member at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival.

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TE3N (Three) centers around John Biswas (Amitabh Bachchan) who lost his granddaughter, Angela, in a tragic kidnapping incident that scarred him and his wife Nancy forever. But eight years later, while the world has moved on, John hasn’t given up his relentless quest for justice. He continues to visit the police station where he’s shunned and ignored daily. He continues to revisit the spot where Angela breathed her last, hopelessly looking for clues. The only person whose help he seeks is Martin Das (Nawazuddin Siddiqui), an ex-cop turned priest, who has one thing in common with John – the death of Angela had a life altering impact on him.

When John stumbles upon a clue in a busy market, his hopes of justice and revenge are rekindled and he turns to a reluctant Father Martin. But the clue leads them nowhere, leaving John heartbroken and Martin disillusioned. Herein lies a case that might never be solved and the culprit never caught. Then one day, eight years after the tragic incident, another kidnapping echoes that of Angela’s and Father Martin is once again dragged into the investigation by police officer, Sarita Sarkar (Vidya Balan).

While the priest and the police officer tackle the new kidnapping, John doggedly pieces together the identity of Angela’s kidnapper from little pieces of information he collects through his own investigations. The new kidnapping that brings Father Martin and Sarita Sarkar together as a team also threatens to drive a wedge between them when the kidnapper is caught and they find themselves with conflicting views about the case. But little do they know that John is also closing in on Angela’s kidnapper.

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T3EN is a gripping thriller that unites these two, parallel investigations into the two kidnappings, culminating in an explosive, emotionally-charged climax.

Sunny Malik sat down with Vidya in an exclusive interview, to talk about TE3N and what’s next for her. Read her answers below!

How are you feeling that you’ll be seen on the silver screen again now after a bit of a gap?

It’s a special feeling as my last film released a year ago. This is a special film, although just a special appearance on my part, and it releases on the day I am completing eleven years in the Indian Film industry. Parineeta, my first Hindi film, also released on the 10th June in 2005.

You mentioned you only have a special appearance in TE3N, yet you feature extensively in the trailer.

(Laughs) Everyone has been asking me this. There are three pivotal characters in the film played by Mr. Bachchan, Nawaz and myself. All of these characters have different approaches to solving this case, which is why the trailer needed to show different perspectives from different characters about the unsolved case. That’s why you see quite a lot of me in the trailer and perhaps you won’t see so much of me in the film. I would say it’s an extended special appearance and not one with just a scene.

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Even though it’s just a special appearance, what was it about the character or the story that made you want to be a part of it?

I read the story and really liked it. As an actor sometimes you just want to enjoy playing a role without any of the added pressures. I am not carrying the film on my shoulders. I have two giants (Amitabh Bachchan & Nawazuddin Siddiqui) carrying it anyway (laughs). I liked the idea of playing a no-nonsense, tough, investigative cop. There is a backstory to the character, which is revealed in the film. So, I’ll leave that for you to watch later. Thriller is my favourite genre and I am always looking forward to a film, where the director is trying to tell a story differently within that space.

Last time you shared screen-space with Amitabh Bachchan in Paa, where you portrayed his on-screen mother. How was it like working with him this time?

In Paa, I didn’t feel like I was working with Mr. Bachchan. It’s interesting because he played my 13-year-old son, for God’s sake, and here in TE3N he plays his age. It’s just amazing what kind of range he can portray. Although, we shared little screen-time for this movie, it was exciting to do so after such a long gap. He is forever inspiring.

The genre of thriller movies does well in India usually based on word-mouth. Can this theory be applied to TE3N too, that it will most likely do well at the Box Office, based on good word of mouth?

I don’t really worry about the perception and expectations of the film. I feel that we have tried our best to tell the story in a way that it should be told. One always hopes that audiences will flock to the theatres to watch their movies, if not on the first day then through word of mouth. However, I don’t think about it beyond that, else it becomes the primary focus of why the film is being made. As an actor, it takes away your joy.

What else can we expect from you on the big screen?

I have another special appearance in a Marathi film (Regional Indian film) called Ek Albela, where I play the role of yesteryear actress Geeta Bali. The film releases later this month. Later in the year, Kahaani 2, the sequel of my movie will release, which is very exciting. I will start filming for Begum Jaan soon, which is a partition tale focusing on a brothel which gets split into two – half belonging to Pakistan and half belonging to India.

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Song of Lahore – Interview with Co-Directors Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy and Andy Schocken http://bollyspice.com/song-lahore-interview-co-directors-sharmeen-obaid-chinoy-andy-schocken/ Thu, 19 May 2016 04:00:54 +0000 http://bollyspice.com/?p=124010 Two-time Academy Award® winner Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy and Andy Schocken bring their acclaimed documentary Song of Lahore to U.S. audiences this Friday, May 20 with a release that includes theaters in New York and Los Angeles plus national availability on DVD, VOD and Digital HD at the same time. The co-directors sat down for this exclusive interview to discuss their new film which features the music of The Sachal Ensemble of Pakistan and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis and examines the lives and the cultural heritage of Pakistan’s classical musicians as they prepare for a concert in

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Two-time Academy Award® winner Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy and Andy Schocken bring their acclaimed documentary Song of Lahore to U.S. audiences this Friday, May 20 with a release that includes theaters in New York and Los Angeles plus national availability on DVD, VOD and Digital HD at the same time.

The co-directors sat down for this exclusive interview to discuss their new film which features the music of The Sachal Ensemble of Pakistan and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis and examines the lives and the cultural heritage of Pakistan’s classical musicians as they prepare for a concert in New York City.

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Interview with SONG OF LAHORE co-directors Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy and Andy Schocken:

Q: Was music ever banned in Pakistan?

A: Music was never banned outright, but when General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq took power in 1977 he put in place restrictions on broadcasting non-religious music and dancing. Nightclubs and alcohol were banned, and Zia took steps to shut down the Pakistani film industry, a source of employment for many musicians. At the same time, a more hardline interpretation of Islam became ascendant. As a result, non-religious classical music declined dramatically and musicians lost their former standing culturally, economically and socially. However, even in this oppressive environment, a nascent pop industry grew as a form of protest against Zia’s conservative policies.

Q: After Zia’s reign ended, why did traditional musicians like the members of the Sachal Ensemble still struggle to find work?

A: After Benazir Bhutto took power in 1988, official opposition to non-religious music was overturned. And starting in 1999, under Pervez Musharraf, steps were taken to rebuild the music and film industries. Music grew in popularity, concerts were once again common, and shows on television and radio flourished. However, much of the music that became popular at this time was Western-oriented rock and pop. Opportunities for classical musicians were rare, so many traditional artists had to leave the profession and find work elsewhere.

Q: What are the threats faced by musicians in Pakistan today?

A: After the rise of the Taliban in Afghanistan, and the U.S. military engagement in the region, the situation changed again. The Taliban banned instrumental music and dancing in Afghanistan, and as their influence later crossed into Pakistan, similar efforts were made in areas under their control or sympathetic to their strain of Islam. When fundamentalist religious parties came to power in the Khyber-Paktunkhwa region of Pakistan, they banned public concerts, hundreds of music shops were burned, and a number of musicians and dancers were killed. Many musicians fled the region.

Q: What is the situation like for musicians in Lahore?

A: The situation in Pakistan differs widely from region to region. Lahore experiences limited influence from the Taliban, though hundreds have been killed in terrorist attacks there in recent years. There have been some efforts by outsiders to spread anti-music messages in the city, and there have been some personal attacks on musicians. There are fundamentalist agitators who rally opposition to musicians, claiming that music is sinful. As described in the film, the son of guitarist Asad Ali was attacked and had his keyboard smashed. In 2008 bombs were set off at Lahore’s Alhamra Cultural Center during a musical performance by folk musician Arieb Azhar. Because of security concerns it is rare for concerts to be held publicly. Instead, performances are typically held in private hotels or venues with security guards.

Q: Why does flutist Baqir Abbas speak of having to hide the fact that he and his brother are musicians?

A: In many strata of Pakistani society, instrumental musicians are not seen as respectable. Despite the long tradition of music in Islamic society, conservative Muslims consider instrumental music to be obscene. Musicians are often referred to in derogatory terms, and musical families often hide the fact that they’re musicians, so as not to invite opposition or dishonor. Hence, in the film, we see Baqir Abbas playing the flute with his brother in a soundproof room, so as to not bring dishonor to the family.

SONG OF LAHORE
Release date: May 20 (select theaters, DVD, VOD, Digital HD)
Directors: Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy & Andy Schocken
Music: The Sachal Jazz Ensemble and The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis
Rating: PG
Runtime: 82 minutes

Trailer:

Official Site: www.songoflahoremovie.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/songoflahore
Twitter: https://twitter.com/songoflahore

SYNOPSIS:

Song of Lahore, the latest feature-length documentary from filmmakers Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy (A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness – 2015 Academy Award winner for Best Short Documentary) and Andy Schocken (The Last Campaign of Governor Booth Gardner), follows the members of Pakistan’s Sachal Jazz Ensemble, a group of master musicians who find international recognition after decades of opposition from dictators and religious extremists. The ancient city of Lahore was once the center of Pakistan’s thriving film-music recording industry, but that came to an end in the late 1970s under the Islamist rule of General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq. Under the conservative regime, instrumental music was repressed, and entire families of musicians lost their livelihood. Music came to be seen as a dishonorable profession, and they found themselves quietly continuing the centuries-old practice of passing down ancient musical traditions from one generation to the next behind closed doors.

As government opposition to music eased in the 1990s and 2000s, businessman Izzat Majeed founded the Sachal Studios Orchestra. He encouraged the group to combine classical Pakistani instruments and techniques with the American jazz he had fallen in love with in the 1950s. Their innovative versions of jazz standards, most notably Dave Brubeck’s iconic “Take Five,” made the orchestra a surprise Internet phenomenon, earning international acclaim and an invitation to perform at Lincoln Center with jazz great Wynton Marsalis and his band. Obaid-Chinoy and Schocken follow the ensemble on an inspiring journey as they struggle to adapt to the unfamiliar strictures of Western music and restore Pakistan’s venerable musical traditions.

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Tiger Shroff: “Baaghi has a strong romantic element” http://bollyspice.com/123179-2/ Sun, 24 Apr 2016 02:00:17 +0000 http://bollyspice.com/?p=123179 Directed by Sabbir Khan, the action romance Baaghi features Tiger Shroff in an intense avatar with some incredible martial arts moves along with the lovely Shraddha Kapoor who doesn’t play the usual damsel in distress but a rebel who can pack a punch or two against the bad guys. The film, which hits theaters on April 29th, tells the story of story of Ronny, a rebellious 23-year-old from Delhi. Fearing his unruly and angry temperament, his father sends him to a disciplinary academy set in a sleepy town in Kerala. While traveling to the academy he meets Siya, who also carries a rebellious streak but nonetheless

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Directed by Sabbir Khan, the action romance Baaghi features Tiger Shroff in an intense avatar with some incredible martial arts moves along with the lovely Shraddha Kapoor who doesn’t play the usual damsel in distress but a rebel who can pack a punch or two against the bad guys.

The film, which hits theaters on April 29th, tells the story of story of Ronny, a rebellious 23-year-old from Delhi. Fearing his unruly and angry temperament, his father sends him to a disciplinary academy set in a sleepy town in Kerala. While traveling to the academy he meets Siya, who also carries a rebellious streak but nonetheless sparks fly between them. After his enrollment, Ronny encounters the star student Raghav and things get awry between them when Raghav falls for Siya as well. Years later Ronny is informed that Siya is abducted and is called upon for help to rescue her from the gritty underbelly of Thailand. Lost in the midst of a new city, Ronny comes face to face with his nemesis, Raghav. They both still love Siya unconditionally and are in a battle to win her heart. Who will it be, the rebellious Ronny or the furious Raghav?

We have a special and exclusive Q and A interview with Tiger Shroff as he talks all things Baaghi!
 
Have you been a real life been a Baaghi? Who would you turn Baaghi for in real life?
I am totally opposite and never hit anyone. I used to get bullied a lot. I think I will turn Baaghi for my mum.

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How’s it been romancing Shraddha Kapoor?
It has been very easy because we have known each other since childhood. I was very comfortable from day one. Romance is quite a strong element in our film and she never felt uncomfortable nor did she make me feel the same. We’ve been friends since childhood. We had great fun during workshops and in between the shots.
 
Can we say that action is your genre?
I think it’s too early to categorize me in some genre. I try doing everything. This film has a bit of everything.
 
You believe action is art. What do you think of Kalaraipayattu as an art form?
I underwent extensive training in Kalaripayattu before we started shooting. It was an enriching experience. I got to learn something new. Master Sifu showed us the roots of the art form. The authenticity of the martial arts will be seen in the film.

They say an actor’s second film is more important than his first. So, will Baaghi be the decider? And if it is, how does that make you feel?
I think the audience is quite lenient with newcomers and are sometimes kind. They were kind to me at least. I got lucky in my first film. In the second film, I want to prove to people that I’m not a fluke or a one-hit wonder. We’ve worked very hard and I want to show people my growth as an actor and dancer and an action star or whatever you call me. I want to make my family happy and proud and I’m not overconfident, but I am quite confident with our products.
 

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“Teraa Surroor has been a rollercoaster ride,” says director Shawn Arranha http://bollyspice.com/teraa-surroor-has-been-a-rollercoaster-ride-says-director-shawn-arranha/ Wed, 09 Mar 2016 10:00:04 +0000 http://bollyspice.com/?p=120634 The forthcoming film ‘Teraa Surroor’ releases on 11th March. The film has received a stupendous response across social media for its trailer and music, and has already recovered its costs before its release! The film has been directed by Shawn Arranha and stars Himesh Reshammiya and Farah Karimaee in the lead roles. We recently caught up with the film’s director Shawn, who shared with us details of his journey so far in Bollywood, as well as his experience of making ‘Teraa Surroor’. Read on to find out more! Tell us about your journey so far within the Bollywood industry. I

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11sep_shawn-tukkafitintrvw01The forthcoming film ‘Teraa Surroor’ releases on 11th March. The film has received a stupendous response across social media for its trailer and music, and has already recovered its costs before its release! The film has been directed by Shawn Arranha and stars Himesh Reshammiya and Farah Karimaee in the lead roles. We recently caught up with the film’s director Shawn, who shared with us details of his journey so far in Bollywood, as well as his experience of making ‘Teraa Surroor’. Read on to find out more!

Tell us about your journey so far within the Bollywood industry.

I have been in this industry for a long time. I have worked with the best directors and producers like Farhan Akthar, Apoorva Lakhia etc. I wanted to master all genres as a film director, in order to become a versatile director. It’s also very important to know the economics of making a film nowadays, in order to ensure that you make a successful film.

You have been an associate to director Apoorva Lakhia. How has this experience been?

Working with Apoorva Lakhia made me learn so many things in the film industry. I can do action films without a blink. He has been a mentor and has always guided me to do the right thing.  

Tera Suroor PosterCongratulations for the amazing response of ‘Teraa Surroor’ and its music. How did your current project ‘Teraa Surroor’ come about? 

Thank You. ‘Teraa Surroor’ has been a rollercoaster ride. I had so much fun shooting this film and putting it together. I am very lucky to have producers like Himesh Reshammiya and Bhushan Kumar, who backed me so much and let me make a superb film. We did intense workshops with all the cast. Himesh is the surprise package in the film. He went through vigorous change to get into the skin of the character of Raghu. We both met a couple of times to shape the script and look of the film. The ‘Teraa Surroor’ trailer and music has received very favourable response from people all over and the music is already a hit. I am proud of the response that the trailer has generated. We couldn’t have achieved this result without correct economics, detailed pre-production planning, right content in terms of writing combined with production designing and shooting in Dublin in the right weather.

‘Teraa Surroor’ has been shot in the beautiful picturesque locales of Dublin. How did you find the experience of shooting and working with the team there?

The country Ireland is so beautiful and picturesque and the city Dublin is amazing. The people there are so warm and great fun. They kept the unit happy and in smiles. It was so easy to shoot there. The technicians were amazing.  

How was your experience of working with Himesh Reshammiya?

Himesh Reshammiya is an amazing person; it was so good to work with him. He understands the business of Bollywood so well, that I learnt so much from him by just his conversations with me.  As a producer, he gave me everything I needed to make this film look good and nothing was compromised. He is a fantastic music composer. His music is so melodious, that I fell in love with all the songs he created. He is a wonderful person.

Himesh Tera Suroor 3How was the experience of working with newcomer Farah Karimaee? 

Farah Karimaee well, she was such a sport and a hard working girl. We were shooting in minus degrees in Dublin. She was freezing, and she still did the shots. She is a very soft spoken girl, but understood all the things that I told her to do. The Surroor franchise first had Deepika Padukone and then Hansika Motwani. Farah is the next Surroor Girl. She is very focused and will do well in the future.

Teraa Surroor has an amazing supporting cast (Shekhar Kapur, Naseeruddin Shah, Kabir Bedi & more) how does it feel to be working with such an international and stellar line up? 

I am honoured to work with the finest actors in our industry like Shekhar Kapur, Naseeruddin Shah, Kabir Bedi and Monica Dogra. It’s a cast never seen before in Bollywood.  Shekhar Kapur and Naseeruddin Shah are coming together in a movie so many years after ‘Masoom’. Himesh and I were very clear from the beginning that the cast of this film is going to be very unique and different. That’s why it’s so fresh and cool.

16jan_TeraaSurroor-1stLookWhat is your favourite song from Teraa Surroor?

When you make a musical action love story, the music has to be very strong. I cannot say if there is any one song, because I like all of them! Himesh’s songs are all superb and melodious and I love them all. Shooting them too was amazing. He has made hit music with lots of big names like Salman Khan, Akshay Kumar, etc. and the response of our film Teraa Surroor also is fantastic. The whole album has been accepted so well and loved by all.

How has your experience been working with HR Musik (Himesh’s own music publishing company) and TSeries?

HR Musik and TSeries are fantastic producers. They understand the story and gave me whatever I needed to make the film look great. I had such a good time working for them and making Teraa Surroor. 

Please tell us about your future projects.

As of now I am in talks with few producers and locking a film soon. I am concentrating on good stories in the right Budget which is very important. Will let you know as soon as things get signed.

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“I really believe in the film. I also really believe in what Neerja stood for.” – Sonam Kapoor http://bollyspice.com/120033-2/ Sun, 21 Feb 2016 03:12:47 +0000 http://bollyspice.com/?p=120033 The gorgeous Sonam Kapoor can be seen in the much-awaited and already critically acclaimed Neerja in UK cinemas now. Neerja is a biopic and a cinematic representation of the dramatic events that unfolded on September 5th, 1986 when Pan Am Flight 73 from Bombay to New York was hijacked in transit at Jinnah International Airport in Karachi by Palestinian extremists from Abu Nidal’s terrorist outfit. This is the story of Neerja Bhanot, a 22-year-old part time model, who was the head purser on the flight. Neerja had escaped an abusive marriage and, as a life change, decided to become an

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16feb_sonaminterview-02The gorgeous Sonam Kapoor can be seen in the much-awaited and already critically acclaimed Neerja in UK cinemas now.

Neerja is a biopic and a cinematic representation of the dramatic events that unfolded on September 5th, 1986 when Pan Am Flight 73 from Bombay to New York was hijacked in transit at Jinnah International Airport in Karachi by Palestinian extremists from Abu Nidal’s terrorist outfit. This is the story of Neerja Bhanot, a 22-year-old part time model, who was the head purser on the flight. Neerja had escaped an abusive marriage and, as a life change, decided to become an airhostess, subsequently impressing everyone so much that they made her a purser.

Throughout the horrifying ordeal, Neerja didn’t succumb to her fears and instead fought her personal demons from the past and, from the minute the plane was hijacked through the terrifying 17 hours to the grueling end, used her courage, wits and compassion to make sure the passengers were protected, going so far as to hide the passports of the American passengers. Through her swift thinking and brave actions, she managed to save the lives of 359 passengers and crew on board out of 379, all at the cost of her own life.

Neerja was hailed internationally as ‘the heroine of the hijack’ and posthumously became the youngest recipient of India’s highest civilian honour for bravery, the Ashoka Chakra. She was also bestowed the Flight Safety Foundation Heroism award by USA, the Tamgha-e-Insaaniyat (awarded for showing incredible human kindness) by Pakistan, the Justice for Crimes Award by United States Attorney’s Office for the district of Columbia, the Special Courage Award by the US government and the Indian Civil Aviation Ministry’s Award.

Speaking to BollySpice, Sonam Kapoor spoke about playing the title character in the film and much more.

You’ve had a great last year and are starting off 2016 with Neerja. How are you feeling?
I am super kicked about Neerja. I really believe in the film. I also really believe in what Neerja stood for. I am really excited for people to now watch the movie and take something away from it.

Audiences would not expect to see you in a film like Neerja. How did it come about?
I don’t like to give audiences what they expect. I like to mix it up. I like to do something different with every film. My agent was working on making this film. Everything just fell into place organically as it’s such a beautiful story and very well-written script. We just wanted to make it badly. We wanted everyone to know her story since it’s so inspiring and everything became really easy because everyone has the same mind-set about it. Neerja is an unsung hero and we wanted her to become heroic again.

Bling!, who manage your career, are producing the film. Was that a comfortable aspect of being a part of such a sensitive film?
It wasn’t just Bling! but also Fox Star and the creative producer, Rucha Pathak. I have worked with her on many occasions previously. She was the one who put Khoobsurat together with my sister Rhea at Disney. She moved to Fox Star after Khoobsurat. I have worked with the people at Fox Star before too and I just knew that I was in good hands with all these people. Everyone just really believed in the film. I am really grateful to all these people who have shown immense commitment to the film.

20th Century Fox is releasing the film in UK cinemas. Do you feel the subject and the wide reach of the international studio can make the film go mainstream in the UK?
We are releasing the film in UK cinemas with English subtitles. I am not aware of how wide the release is. It can definitely attract a mainstream audience and I hope it does well abroad. I’m sure if it catches on, Fox will increase the cinema screens.

Composer Shekhar Ravjiani is part of the film as well, which is surprising. How did that happen?
Shekhar plays a cameo in the film. You need to watch the film to explore what he is doing in the film. Honestly, all credit goes to Atul Kasbekar and my director Ram Madhvani to get him on board. He is a musician but he is a lovely human being and I have known him for many years. It’s great to have him a part of Neerja.

How much has the story of Neerja been changed for cinematic adaptation?
We have not amended anything of the original story. We have to be really sensitive as there are survivors who are alive and we did not want to change anything just for the sake of it. It’s best for people to watch the film and judge for themselves.

What’s next for you after Neerja?
I don’t want to reveal it because all my energy is dedicated towards Neerja at the moment. A week after the release, there will an announcement.

Neerja is produced by Fox Star Studios and co-produced by Bling Unplugged and has been directed by celebrated ad film director, Ram Madhvani. Actress Sonam Kapoor is playing the role of the young brave heart and adding to the cast is veteran and internationally renowned actress, Shabana Azmi, playing the role of Neerja’s mother.

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Lyricists Siddharth-Garima on Russian pair figure skating to ‘Nagada Sang Dhol’: “Just like them, we are twirling and skating on joy” http://bollyspice.com/lyricists-siddharth-garima-on-russian-pair-figure-skating-to-nagada-sang-dhol-just-like-them-we-are-twirling-and-skating-on-joy-exclusive/ Mon, 08 Feb 2016 07:12:03 +0000 http://bollyspice.com/?p=119516 By Chandni Brunamonti and Stacey Yount Russian Olympic pair figure skating champions Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov wowed audiences at the recent 2016 European Figure Skating Championships in Slovakia with their gorgeous short program performance to Bollywood number ‘Nagada Sang Dhol’ from the 2013 film Goliyon Ki Rasleela Ram-Leela. The pair was dressed in Indian-inspired attire and clearly infused Bollywood influence into their choreography. The best part? This routine helped the couple win the championship! It is their fourth gold medal at this particular competition! Not only were the judges wowed by the fantastic performance, the lyricists of ‘Nagada Sang

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By Chandni Brunamonti and Stacey Yount

Russian Olympic pair figure skating champions Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov wowed audiences at the recent 2016 European Figure Skating Championships in Slovakia with their gorgeous short program performance to Bollywood number ‘Nagada Sang Dhol’ from the 2013 film Goliyon Ki Rasleela Ram-Leela.

The pair was dressed in Indian-inspired attire and clearly infused Bollywood influence into their choreography. The best part? This routine helped the couple win the championship! It is their fourth gold medal at this particular competition!

Not only were the judges wowed by the fantastic performance, the lyricists of ‘Nagada Sang Dhol’, Siddharth-Garima, were nothing less than mesmerized. They told Stacey exclusively, “It was jaw dropping. Apart from the high that this is our song (and the fact that we are so emotionally connected to this particular one), the talent with which the couple performed was overwhelming.

“It felt as if they knew the meaning of every written word… This, more than any other recognition or award, is the sole reason to create. We feel it’s the music (by Sanjay sir) that cuts across as it does not conform to the boundaries of religion, class or language…To say the least, just like them, we are twirling, swirling and skating on joy!” the writing duo gushed.

Check out the full performance below! It’s safe to say, we’re obsessed!

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