#Yash Chopra: Such legends come Kabhi Kabhie #RIP


, TNN | Oct 22, 2012,

Yash Chopra: Such legends come Kabhi Kabhie
Yash Chopra‘s grand theme was love and it was seldom a simple affair. But his films were popular because they could be watched across generations.

Till 1973, Yash Chopra had been working under the banner of his brother, the great B R Chopra. In that year, he set up his own production house, Yash Raj Films, Daag (1973) being its first venture. 

The film was among the biggest hits of the year but Chopra dumped superstar Rajesh Khanna because of his starry tantrums. From then onwards, he forged a durable and profitable partnership with Amitabh Bachchan.

His later works, especially those he made under his own banner, had two distinct strands – mature romance (Kabhi Kabhie, Silsila, Chandni, Lamhe, Veer Zara) and action-oriented human conflicts (Deewar, Trishul). But he also occasionally surprised you with a smart thriller like Darr.

Cover of "Kabhi Kabhie [Blu-ray] (Classic...

Cover via Amazon

Chopra’s grand theme was love and it was seldom a simple affair. In his films, it was usually a high-hanging fruit that could be attained only after navigating through a maze of complications and snuffles. Complex love triangles (Daag and Chandni), convoluted love quadrangle (Silsila), love defying category (Kabhi Kabhie), age-gap amour (Lamhe), fake young serious romance (Dil To Paagal Hai), love as sacrifice (Veer Zara), he tried to capture love in every hue.Nonetheless, his love had its share of class bias; Chopra’s lovers were invariably wellheeled. The deprived never really fell in love in his films – though the great Urdu poet and lyricist Sahir Ludhianvi was a part of his musical team.Yet the beauty and the balance of it all was that you could watch these movies as much with your lover as with your grandmother. No surprise, a majority of moviegoers found them engaging and appealing as the box-office records suggest.

Music was always a hallmark of his romantic movies. He took pride in the fact that his films had some of the most beautiful lyrics ever written in Hindi cinema — and the picturisation did full justice to the lines. Amitabh Bachchan’s sonorous rendition of poetry in Silsila can still induce goosebumps. And he helped revive the career of Khayyam by giving the out-of-job composer an opportunity to give music in Kabhi Kabhie. Khayyam repaid the trust by providing an unforgettable score. Chopra also worked with two classical musicians, Hari Prasad Chaurasia and Shiv Kumar Sharma. It is said Yash briefly worked for the comic genius I S Johar before beginning his career officially assisting his elder brother, B R Chopra in socially conscious movies such as Ek Hi Raasta, Naya Daur and Sadhna.

Veer-Zaara

Veer-Zaara (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

His own later work does not have the same social commitment that he first displayed in works like Dharmputra (1961) but to Chopra’s credit he never compromised on his idea of creating entertaining cinema even when he fell on hard times in the mindless 1980s and delivered a succession of box-office turkeys (Faasle, Vijay). Patience has its reward. The director rode on an inspirational second wind; his last three films were all box-office biggies – Darr (1993), Dil To Paagal Hai (1997) and Veer Zaara (2004).

With advancing age, one could see a growing gap between each of his directorial ventures . The Shah Rukh Khan starrer releasing in November was meant to be a fitting swansong to his illustrious career. May be it will. But sadly, its creator won’t be there to see it.

Memorable lamhe 

Born | 27 September, 1932

Birthplace | Lahore

Early life 

The youngest of eight children born to a Punjabi accountant in the PWD of the British administration in Punjab.

Was brought up mostly in the Lahore house of his second brother, B R Chopra (Baldev Raj), who was first a film scribe and later in life a movie baron.

Went to Jullunder in 1945 to continue his education Baldev migrated to Bombay weeks before the Partition.

First steps 

Baldev gave Yash his first directorial opportunity in ‘Dhool Ka Phool’ in 1959, which became a big box-office hit.

Made another four films for Baldev, notably 1965’s ‘Waqt’.

Married Pamela Singh in 1970. Their two sons, Aditya and Uday, were born in 1971 and 1973.

Rise & rise 

Founded Yash Raj Films in ’71 From 1973 produced many of his films but also made movies for Gulshan Rai’s Trimurti Films Made a number of Amitabh Bachchan-starrer films, notably ‘Deewaar’ (1975) and ‘Trishul’ (1978) In the late ’80s, as the romantic genre rose in popularity, a highly successful period began in his career Made the blockbuster ‘Chandni’ (1989), followed by ‘Lamhe’ in 1991, which found favour in metropolitan cities In 1993, directed ‘Darr’ that marked the beginning of the celluloid journey with Shah Rukh Khan Was filming ‘Jab Tak Hai Jaan’ when he took ill. SOURCE: yashrajfilms.com 

Awards and recognition 

Filmfare Awards 

1965, Best Director (Waqt) 1969, Best Director (Ittefaq) 1973, Best Director (Daag) 1975, Best Director (Deewaar) 1991, Best Movie (Lamhe) 1995, Best Movie (Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge) 1997, Best Movie (Dil To Pagal Hai) 2004, Best Movie (Veer-Zaara ).

Others 

2001, Dadasaheb Phalke Award 2005, Padma Bhushan 2008, Officier de la Legion d’Honneur.

National Film Award (Producer).

1998, Best Popular Film Providing Wholesome Entertainment (Dil To Pagal Hai) 2005, Best Popular Film Providing Wholesome Entertainment (Veer-Zaara ).

One of India’s most prominent  filmmakers, Yash Chopra, spoke to his favourite hero Shahrukh Khan couple of weeks before he was diagnosed with Dengue

Yash Chopra, 80, passed away this evening after battling dengue for over a week. The veteran filmmaker was admitted to Lilavati Hospital, Mumbai, after being diagnosed with the disease few days ago. His last public appearance was at Amitabh Bachchan’s 70th birthday celebrations.

Chopra has made a huge contribution to Indian cinema in a career spanning over five decades. Known as the King of romance, Chopra has to his credit path-breaking love stories like DaagSilsilaLamheand Chandni. His production house Yash Raj Films is one of the most reputed and respected companies in Bollywood today.

The director, who was all set to release his last film, the Shahrukh Khan, Katrina Kaif and Anushka Sharma starrer Jab Tak Hai Jaan, did a media interview with SRK recently, where he spoke about the making of the film, and his journey as a filmmaker. But the director passed away before he could see his last film hit the screens. His son Aditya Chopra will now have to shoot the last portion of the film in Switzerland to complete the movie, which is set to release on November 13, 2012.

Watch the video of Yash Chopra in conversation with Shahrukh Khan – the veteran filmmaker’s last interview.

 

#India #Bollywood –Creatively challenged #sundayreading


Anvar Alikhan | October , 2012, Times Crest Edition

Frankly, I blame Sanjay Leela Bhansali. He’s the one who started it all, with his Black and its themes of sensory disability and Alzheimer’s. Then came Aamir Khan with his Taare Zameen Par and dyslexia. And thanks to its success, the ‘disability’ genre seems to have become a bandwagon that everybody in Bollywood who’s anybody must climb upon briefly, to prove their talent and sensitivity, before they can move on to other things. Amitabh gave us progeria in Paa;Shahrukh gave us Asperger’s Syndrome in My Name is Khan;Hrithik had, of course, already paid his dues with arrested development in Koi Mil Gaya. Even Shahid Kapoor felt he had to do speech impediments in Kaminey. And now we have Ranbir doing mutism in Barfi. The question now is, oh God, what next?

What distressing condition is Saif Ali Khan thinking up for his next film, for example? Parkinson’s disease? Muscular dystrophy? Prostate problems, perhaps? And then there’s the female of the species. After Rani Mukherji’s sensory disability and Priyanka Chopra’s autism, who’s next? Kareena, with her famous size zero, could probably give anorexia a shot. Preity Zinta, meanwhile, might want to try bulimia.

But let’s get serious. The thing is, Barfi, for all its hype and slick marketing, is a tiresome film, with a phony ‘smile-with-a-lump-in-your-throat ‘ quality about it (at least in the first half, which I saw before walking out). The larger point, however, is that I believe – at the risk of being called politically incorrect – that this whole new genre of disability films that Bollywood has been churning out is in bad taste. It’s exploitative, self-serving and cynical. For one thing it becomes a great vehicle for the star to show off how far he can stretch his talent in mimicking the affliction in question (something like advertising agencies cynically doing public-service ads because they’re an easy way to win awards for creativity). But, that apart, these films are often one part emotional manipulation;one part an insidious attempt to make us feel guilty for our own wellbeing;and one part an opportunity to affect an air of sanctimoniousness for supposedly “supporting the cause”. Just compare today’s new genre of sacharine-y disability films with the simple, shining honesty of Sai Paranjpe‘s classic Sparsh, or even Gulzar’s Koshish, and you’ll know what I mean.

The formula, nevertheless, is a powerful one. In fact, it’s a formula that Hollywood has long exploited, in its own way, beginning perhaps with Ronald Reagan’s transcendentally awful King’s Row, where he plays the wealthy young man who comes out of anaesthesia after an operation, looks down and asks, “Hey, doc, wh-wh-where’s the rest of me?” Hollywood has gone on to inflict various disability movies on us over the years, very effectively and profitably. In the 1980s alone we had three major productions: Elephant Man (John Hurt and gross deformity), Rain Man (Dustin Hoffman and autism) and My Left Foot (Daniel Day Lewis and cerebral palsy) – which managed to reap various Oscars between them, including two for Best Actor and one for Best Picture.

The high point (or low point) of Hollywood’s disability trip, however, was in 1969, when there was actually a neck-and-neck race for the Best Actor award between two disability roles: Alan Arkin in The Heart is a Lonely Hunter and Cliff Robertson in Charly. Arkin played the role of a mute, but despite his masterly performance, he was beaten by Robertson, playing the intellectually challenged Charlie, who undergoes experimental brain surgery to cure his problem – a procedure that goes tragically wrong.

If audiences are emotionally vulnerable to disability movies, juries are probably even more so, because of the moral halo these films sport. And when juries tip in favour of a rival offering, controversies are often not far behind – as when, in 2002, Russell Crowe’s clunky performance as a schizophrenic mathematician in A Beautiful Mind, lost outto Denzel Washington’s bad cop in Training Day. Maybe this is the reason why Barfi won out over the savagely brilliant Gangs of Wasseypur as India’s official entry to the Oscars;I really can’t think of any other conceivable reason.

Some disability groups have begun to see through the phoniness of this genre of cinema. They ask, for example, why we must have abled actors to play disabled roles, and present the analogy of black roles in the movies. Like Othello, for example, where the most recent remake had an actual black actor, Laurence Fishburne, playing the role, instead of merely Laurence Olivier, wearing blackface, as in one famous earlier version. And before we offer any excuses, let’s not forget the hearing-impaired Marlee Maitlin’s Oscar award-winning performance in Children of a Lesser God, and the double amputee, Harold Russell’s Best Supporting Actor award-winning performance in The Best Years of Our Lives.

The question is how much longer will Bollywood’s phony new disability trip continue? And how many more awful afflictions will we be subjected to, which will manipulate our emotions and our sense of guilt, in equal measure? Be aware: even as you read this, Salman Khan might be at work, practicing on some rare and disturbing syndrome – physical, mental or emotional – for our supposed moral improvement.

The author is a Hyderabad-based advertising professional and columnist.

Shall we film the President ? #FOE #Censorship


 

Why doesn’t India make prez movies?

Priyanka Dasgupta, TNN

(Still from Politics of Love )

India doesn’t have a Presidential form of government. Censor Board of Film Certification will not clear a film about our President that’s even remotely controversial.

Indian Presidents have largely led uneventful lives that haven’t interested our directors enough to make movies on that.

The above are just three of the many reasons often put forward when asked about the conspicuous absence of any movies made on the President of our country. The only cinematic indulgence with a rashtrapati has been in the form of Kunaal Roy Kapoor’s The President is Coming starring Konkona Sen Sharma and Shernaz Patel and Subhash Kapoor’s “Phas Gaye Re Obama” starring Rajat Kapoor, Neha Dhupia and Amole Gupte. Unless, of course, one includes Mallika Sherawat’s “Politics of Love” on the unexpected romance that develops between an Indian-American, Democratic campaign worker Aretha Gupta ( Mallika Sherawat) who falls for an African-American Republican Kyle Franklin ( Brian White) before the 2008 US Presidential Election.

While Indian cinema finecombs reality to find drama in real life, those surrounding the President’s life, scandals and controversies have never been a fodder for celluloid. Forget biographical movies, we haven’t even seen any attempts like “Wag The Dog” (about how a spin-doctor and a Hollywood producer join to “fabricate” a war in order to cover-up a presidential sex scandal), “In The Line of Fire” (about a disillusioned and obsessed former CIA agent who attempts to assassinate the President of the United States and the Secret Service agent who tracks him) or “Vantage Point” (about how the attempted assassination of the American President is told and re-told from several different perspectives). Speculations are rife that Hollywood is making Reagan on the man who once co-starred with a chimp and went on to become the head of the country.

Though it’s not completely incorrect to say that Indian Presidents have largely led uneventful lives, Pranab Mukherjee nomination has been quite engaging. The will-she-won’t-she tension over Mamata Banerjee’s support, her facebook campaign for APJ Abdul Kalam and EC rejecting Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav’s vote in the presidential election — all that ensured that this year’s presidential poll vaults have entered drawing room conversations. Once in drawing room conversations, has the plot of making of India’s 13th President lent itself to cinema?

Says Anuvab Pal, the script writer of “The President is Coming”, “I don’t think there is anything more to add in fiction that hasn’t already been done in the press about Pranab Mukherjee’s presidential candidature. I would be interested in penning a script on Pranab Mukherjee’s difficulty as a finance minister. I generally like political stories. My new play, “The Bureaucrat”, is getting packed houses because we love to make fun of politics. People stay away from it because they feel if a politician, or party, thinks it’s a mockery of them, they might get into trouble. So, people self-censor.” Pal thinks it would be interesting to write a film on the Indira Gandhi and Giani Zail Singh relationship. “The difficulty would be to make it engaging for the youth today,” he says.

Shyam Benegal, who made a biopic on Netaji, sees no point in India aspiring to make movies on presidents simply because the West has been doing them. “We have a different form of government. Why should we ape the West? We are a nation with work in progress. If I were to make any film, it would be about the political system. If the President gets featured, it would be incidental.”

But for Goutam Ghose, who has made a documentary on Jyoti Basu, a feature film on Pranab Mukherjee is an exciting proposition. “Saying that the Censor Board will create problems or that we don’t have a Presidential form of government is just an alibi. In India Win’s Freedom, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad has argued that India wouldn’t have been divided had our country adhered to a truly federal structure. Lord Mountbatten’s mission messed up the whole thing and partition became a reality. We keep on saying that our President doesn’t have much power. But the Constitution does guarantee our President a lot of power. I’d be interested in making a movie that examines how Pranab babu, rises above the problems between the Centre and state, to truly use his power and ensure that India becomes a federal nation. A plot on how a person, who has served so many portfolios, handles power to address issues of the subaltern classes in India interests me as a director,” Ghose says.

 

‘The Last War Crime’ Debuts at Cannes–but Censored in US.


Date: 13 July 2012

By Jeanine Molloff

 

During this summer of Occupy and subsequent police brutality, the subject of torture is hotly denounced by protesters and conveniently ignored by candidates. Like that ostrich diving head first into the sand of political expediency–Americans want to focus on the alleged debt crisis or gay marriage–anything that absolves us from the messy subject of tortures committed in our names by the Bush/Cheney administration and which continue under Obama to the present day. The entire Bradley Manning debacle speaks volumes to this accusation.

 

In spite of strong evidence identifying Dick Cheney as the mastermind behind this torture regime–the subject remains taboo, both in the ‘news’ business and in Hollywood–that is until Hollywood executives watched trailers for the anti-war documentary–The Last War Crime.

Written, produced and directed by a new talent known only as ‘The Pen,’ this film documents the torture protocol ordained by the Bush-Cheney administration. Since it first circulated a trailer on the web; it has been heavily censored and cyber attacked. You Tube has removed it at intermittent intervals and MTV (which is owned by Viacom) has refused to sell air time for a commercial.

Apparently, there are some things that Viacom won’t accept money for—namely any film or story which exposes the regular torture ordered by Vice-President Cheney. Curious about this documentary and the blatant censorship–(I couldn’t download it)–I contacted the artist aka The Pen. Here is the interview.

JM : What are you hoping this film will accomplish in terms of genuine political change?

The Pen:” The Last War Crime Movie is about indicting Cheney for torture. And isn’t that something billions of people want to see? They say sometimes life can imitate art. But first we felt it was important that we retrace our country’s steps as to how torture was used to get the false intelligence to sell us on a war with Iraq. The real story of how this happened has been buried under an avalanche of pseudo history. They want people to forget the Downing Street minutes and the foreknowledge that the British had that Cheney and Bush were determined to invade Iraq, even if they had to “fix the facts around the policy” to do so. They want to obliterate the memory of the flimsy legal arguments in the torture memos. So we dig out all the true facts, and put them on the big screen, together with an entertaining narrative story about what it would have been like if justice had already prevailed.

The people who committed these war crimes believe they can escape accountability by changing the way people think, by selling the American people on the idea that torture was a great thing that got us wonderful intelligence to protect us. But the only people making these arguments are the torturers themselves and their propaganda advocates. All other percipient witnesses confirm the opposite, which we knew already, that torture does not even work, and that any actionable intelligence they got was obtained before they started torturing people. So part of the mission of this movie is to counter their ongoing lies initiative, to change the way people think back to the truth, and then we can have good policy change, which is political change.

JM : Do you expect more interference, and if so–in what form?

The Pen: Based on what we have run into already, the attempted YouTube censorship (which we forced them to reverse after more than 7,000 direct protests), the rejection of the ad submitted to MTV (Viacom Inc.), it is clear that we are encountering serious censorship interference from the very beginning. Obviously we are telling a story that certain people don’t want heard. The American people believe that we have free speech. It was on that justification that the Supreme Court said in the Citizens United decision that the gloves were off, and that corporations with unlimited war chests should be permitted to flood our political process with money favoring their point of view. But now we see that the other side of that bargain was a fraud, that these same corporations believe they can discriminate against points of view they disagree with. So for the actual people, we find that even if we have the money, we cannot even BUY “free” speech.

This is not a tolerable situation. Must we generate thousands of protests every time we want to run an ad when it is rejected for political reasons?

Already Viacom has received over 12,000 protest messages in response to our call to action there, and in that situation apparently they think “we the people” can just be ignored. We are seriously considering a federal lawsuit, the argument has to be made, that if they accept political advertising of any kind, at least in that case, it must be some kind of 14th Amendment equal protection violation to practice what we would call “speech discrimination”. Only by bringing such a case can we determine if we actually have free speech or not.

JM: Has there been any direct retaliation or threats connected with the release of this film aimed at you? Any suspected retaliation?

The Pen : Gandhi is reputed to have said, “First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, and then you win”. At this point we are still mostly at the attempted “ignore you” stage.

JM: What has Hollywood’s reaction been to this film’s coming debut? Are you encountering the same kind of cowardice that Michael Moore experienced after his Oscar night comments about the war?

The Pen: We are just starting to get the word out about this film. The censorship attempts are doomed to fail, but we still don’t have enough visibility to where the rest of the Hollywood film community would be called on to react. It would not surprise me if some of the censorship we’ve been talking about was based in part on cowardice. Of course we all remember when Michael Moore called out the fiction of the basis for the war in Iraq at the Oscars. But in that case another reasonable possible explanation is that those who booed him then would object to any attempt to politicize the Academy Awards ceremony. The problem is that when you say you don’t want to hear about this political issue here, and you don’t want to hear about it there, you may end up with the dynamic we are confronting now with The Last War Crime movie, that the corporations that dominate our media really don’t want these issues talked about anywhere.

JM: Anything else you would want to add?

The Pen: “The soul of America is on trial right now. We have thrown not just international law overboard, we have repudiated our own long established law. We have always considered waterboarding to be torture. We have always prosecuted waterboarding in the past as torture. So what’s the difference now, that the war criminals have a big “R” after their names? We are called by history, the real history, to stand up and speak out about this, to bring America back to its highest calling. So if your readers are interested in participating in the Viacom action they can go to , where you can also see the ad that MTV

rejected. And there is a Facebook page  where we are posting video clips, still shots from the movie, including behind the scenes shots, and more on a daily basis, so you can follow our progress and help get this movie out in real theaters where it belongs and deserves to be.”

It should be noted that as of May 22nd, 2012, The Last War Crime was presented at the Cannes Film Festival. There was no refusal to air the film, no censorship–corporate or otherwise. Apparently the independent artistic community in Cannes and similar venues knows something that evades the vapid corporate offices of Hollywood.

This article was published at NationofChange at: http://www.nationofchange.org/last-war-crime-debuts-cannes-censored-us-1342021227

Avengers’ slum scenes trigger anger in India


Actors in India have been voicing their disappointment at the portrayal of Kolkata in the film

Hulk in The Avengers played by Mark Ruffalo

Bad taste … scenes set in India of Bruce Banner – AKA Hulk – in The Avengers have been criticised. Photograph: Planet Photos/Marvel

The Avengers might be carrying all before it at the global box office, but inIndia, its healthy reported opening of INR110m (£1.3m) has been marred byhigh profile complaints over its portrayal of urban living conditions.

  1. The Avengers [also known as Avengers Assemble]
  2. Production year: 2012
  3. Country: USA
  4. Cert (UK): 12A
  5. Runtime: 142 mins
  6. Directors: Joss Whedon
  7. Cast: Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Cobie Smulders, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jeremy Renner, Mark Ruffalo, Robert Downey Jr., Samuel L Jackson, Scarlett Johansson, Stellan Skarsgard, Tom Hiddleston
  8. More on this film

Exception has been taken in regard to two brief scenes showing Bruce Banner – AKA Hulk – (played by Mark Ruffalo) working as a doctor in Kolkata in an attempt to avoid the rage triggers that transform him.

 

Actor Rituparna Sengupta, best known for the Bengali-language films Alo and Dahan, told the Hindustan Times: “Kolkata has a rich culture and heritage, and a film-maker should respect that. There are two scenes about India and they only show slums. It could have been done in better taste.”

 

Neha Dupia, an actor in Bollywood films such as Singh Is Kinng and Dasvidaniya, said: “It is disturbing to see the murky underbelly of India in Hollywood films … we need to make efforts to change [the west's] perception about us.”

 

However, the film-makers cannot be accused of “slumdog tourism” a laSlumdog Millionaire: according to the Hollywood Reporter, the Kolkata slums were filmed in New Mexico.

 

Meanwhile, Disney has reported that The Avengers’ box office figures for its US opening were even higher than estimated. On Sunday, the studio entered a figure of $200.3m (£124m) for its first three days on release. But better than expected figures for the Sunday’s takings mean the figure is now $207.4m.

Even with the lower estimate, The Avengers – renamed Avengers Assemble for the UK and Irish market – had comfortably eclipsed the previous opening weekend best, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2‘s $169.2m. The Avengers has also become the first film to break the $200m mark for its opening figures.