Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Asin’s secrecy to tick with the Khans

Actor Asin had a dream debut in Bollywood with AR Murugadoss's remake of a Tamil superhit film, Ghajini, where she was paired opposite Aamir Khan. It went on to become one of the highest grossing films of the year. Just when she had become hot property, Asin followed it up with another big banner film, London Dreams opposite Salman Khan. Her next release is also again with Salman.

The latest Khan, apparently, to co-star with her now is actor Shah Rukh Khan in a yet-to-be announced Chetan Bhagat's adaptation of his novel, Two States. While a lot of actresses spend years in this industry trying to get films opposite the three Khans, Asin seems to have done it within three years of her debut.

Though Asin is yet to make a mark for her acting abilities, she's still one of the names to reckon with today. Explaining why Asin is the preferred choice over other young actresses around today, Amod Mehra, trade analyst says, "Her biggest plus point is the fact that she looks Indian. The innocence clubbed with Indian looks is the perfect ingredient for a Hindi film actress. Besides, she's also one of the top names in the South which gives her a certain credibility. Katrina Kaif is a top heroine today, but she never looked Indian."

Harish Bijoor, brand specialist says Asin's bubbly image is what works best for her. "Most brand personifications of actors are not just about their roles. Asin has done young, bubbly, vivacious roles till date and so her ads too see her play similar characters. Her vibrant, irreverent image helps her. She is much more than just a beautiful face, and it also helps to be an established star in the South."

Friday, May 20, 2011

Dabangg bags best popular film at 58th National Film Awards

Chulbul Pandey and his belt grabbing moves that went on to become the most popular last year has now got an official recognition. Salman Khan-starrer Dabangg has got a National Film Award for being the year's most popular film. Vishal Bharadwaj's Ishqiya's music too were rated among the best for the 58th National Film Awards that were announced on Thursday.

Dabangg got the Best Popular Film providing Wholesome Entertainment. The film was seen as answering the need of cinegoers for entertainment rooted in Indian soil. However, it was Malyalam film Adaminte Makan Abu (Abu, son of Adam) which bagged the Best Film Award for the year 2010 indicated the awards trend shifting back from the popular to art-house cinema.

Known for playing comical roles Adaminte Makan Abu's actor Salim was impressive with his stunning serious role which established him as the best actor this year. Salim had a deep, restrained performance of a simple man with an unshakable belief in his quest for salvation. He shared the Best Actor award with Dhanush (Aadukalam), son-in-law of Rajinikanth, for his raw, nuanced portrayal of a cocky young man who learns lessons about life the hard way.

The best actress award too had two winners – Tamil actress Saranya Ponvannan (Thenmerkku Paruvakkatru) and Marathi heroine Mitalee Jagtap Varadkar (Baboo Band Baaja). Both women portrayeddd picture of two mothers whose concern for bettering the lives of their children in the face of untold hardship – Mitalee for her role as a mother who strives to realise through her son her dreams of a better future, and Saranya for performing as a fiercely combative single mother who shields her son to the point of sacrifice.

Three Marathi films were selected for awards in different categories. Marathi film Baboo Band Baaja bagged the Indira Gandhi Award for the best debut film of a director. Among other Marathi films, Champions was the best film on social issues, while Mee Sindhutai Sapkal got a special jury award for a powerful cinematic presentation of an epic journey of an abandoned woman who refused to become a victim and in the process not only transformed her own life but also the lives of many others.

The best music direction awards was shared between Vishal Bharadwaj (Ishqiya) and Issak Thomas Kottakapally (Adaminte Makan Abu). Ishqiya also won awards for best female playback singer (Rekha Bhardwaj) and for best audiography. Rishi Kapoor's Do Dooni Char was the best film in the Hindi language category.

The Feature Films jury was headed by J.P. Dutta, Non-Feature Films jury was headed by A.K. Bir and Best Writing on Cinema jury was headed by Ashok Vajpeyi. According to J.P. Dutta, 161 eligible entries were received in the feature film category, which was the highest received so far.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Indian film gains international distributor

TVF International has taken the worldwide distribution rights of Shrenik Rao’s 54-minute documentary Mugabe’s Zimbabwe, a path-breaking film on Robert Mugabe’s rule in Zimbabwe. The film has been featured as a hot pick of the year in the Factual Entertainment Section of the Cannes Film Festival.

Mugabe’s Zimbabwe narrates a terrifying story, plotting Robert Mugabe’s three decades of bloodshed, terror and corruption and documents and how he turned hope into desolation. The documentary, made in English, will now be adapted in various languages across the world and be featured on multiple media platforms.

The film is thoroughly researched, with unprecedented access to Zimbabwe’s deputy prime minister, vice presidents, governor of Reserve Bank, former Archbishop of Bulawayo and UK’s former secretary of state for international development etc. Commenting on taking up the film for worldwide distribution, TVF International Director Leila Monks said, "TVF International is really pleased to be working with Dolsun Media distributing their film Mugabe's Zimbabwe."

Shot on location in Zimbabwe, England, Scotland and India, the film is an enquiry into how Zimbabwe collapsed dramatically after it gained independence 30 years ago.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

More meta than ever in Scream 4 which is almost as much as fun

Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox and Ghostface are back in a dizzyingly self-aware fourth entry to the horror franchise

Wes Craven totally gave at the office, when it comes to reinventing the horror genre. He's done it three times -- with the drive-in classics "The Hills Have Eyes" and "Last House on the Left" in the '70s, with the original "Nightmare on Elm Street" franchise in the '80s (and wasn't he smart to avoid the abysmal 2010 reboot?) and with the "Scream" trilogy in the '90s. Asking him to do it all over again, at age 71, in a movie that's a sequel to a sequel to a sequel and that's an exercise in not just postmodern nostalgia but nostalgia for postmodernism, well, that's just asking too much. I mean, isn't it?

The fact that Craven almost pulls it off in "Scream 4," a movie that's somewhat entertaining, occasionally scary and only sporadically migraine-inducing in its level of Jesuitical, self-referential cleverness is -- OK, no, not miraculous. That's a cliché. It's almost really cool, without quite being really cool. If you viewed the laffs and thrills of the original "Scream" series through a delighted scrim of adolescent self-awareness, then "Scream 4" will probably provide an enjoyable return visit to Woodsboro High, whose student body metastatically feeds on horror movies (thereby justifying all the clueless culture-trolls' concerns about their pernicious effects).

If, like me, you were not merely old enough to shave during the first round of "Scream" but old enough to date divorced people, then "Scream 4" is pretty much a minor diversion. Thing is, you can't push postmodern horror any further than Craven has pushed it already; the characters in "Scream 2" and "Scream 3" were as conscious of horror-movie conventions (and their reverses, twists and turns) as you can get, and Craven's 1994 "New Nightmare" capped the Freddy series triumphantly by melting the boundaries between fiction and reality and having Craven, Robert Englund, Heather Langenkamp, studio head Bob Shaye appear as "themselves."

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Afridi – the diehard fan of Shah Rukh Khan

While the Indian team was playing against the Pakistan team on Wednesday at the World Cup semi – final, Pak captain Shahid Afridi's younger brother Javed Afridi was commentating live on a radio station in India.

As the two teams battled to reach the finals, Javed revealed some lesser known facts about brother Shahid. He said, "Shahid is a huge fan of Shah Rukh Khan. He never misses out on his films and has seen My Name Is Khan at least a dozen times."

Javed also revealed that Shahid's mood dropped when he learnt that SRK won't be making it to the stadium in Mohali. "Shahid was upset that he missed a chance of meeting SRK. They have met a couple of times before though and he becomes like a star-struck kid every time."

The two hot Pathans - Shahid Afridi and Shah Rukh have interacted at an event in Mumbai back in 2009. Back then, SRK had said, "No matter how big a star I become, all the girls keep telling me 'You are not like Shahid Afridi'."

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Prasoon Joshi - National creative director

Five years back, this name would ring few bells. But as the Aamir Khan-starrer “Thanda matlab Coca Cola” ad campaign made the almost universal rural word for soft drinks a hot catchphrase, it brought the low-profile Prasoon Joshi, national creative director, McCann Erickson India, into the spotlight, a fact the the advertising awards for 2002 just reaffirmed. Yet for Joshi, advertising is just one passion. He is also a poet, lyricist, composer and a trained vocalist.

Predictably perhaps, the highly competitive ad industry was not charitable in its praise. Some believed that it was the Aamir Khan and film maker Ashutosh Gowariker connection that made the Thanda campaign work. Joshi himself hints that the magnitude of the brand Coke could also have made the campaign a huge success.

However, ad film maker Prahlad Kakkar asserts, “Prasoon is far beyond any singular campaign success. His writing and poetry will immortalise him in the years to come.” Says Shripad Nadkarni, vice-president, marketing, Coca Cola India, “What sets Prasoon apart in the make-believe world of advertising is his ability to connect to the masses through his understanding of the Indian psyche — he thinks Indian.”

This ability to think in Hindi has endeared him to the masses much like the other small-town admen — the Pandey brothers. Born in Lucknow, Joshi went on to earn his management degree from IMT Ghaziabad. His entree into advertising began when he worked, first, as a summer trainee and then as a client servicing executive at the ad agency Grey (then Trikaya Grey).

But copy-writing obviously suited his talents better so in 1992, he moved to Ogilvy & Mather (O&M), for what was to be a decade-long stint that saw him shift to Mumbai and rise up the ranks to become a creative director. However, in his own words, Joshi “had grown to reach a glass ceiling”. In 2002, Joshi shifted to McCann Erickson as the national creative director.

Joshi believes that creativity is an intangible energy that keeps reinventing itself in different forms. His career reflects that. A published poet at the age of 17, he has three collections of poems to his credit till date, and a fourth is in the pipeline. While Joshi the writer was creating copy at O&M, the narrator in him was also lending his voice to the commercials.

What followed were soulful voiceovers in the Nokia radio spots, the much-acclaimed cricket commentary in the “A day in a government office” campaign for the Times Of India, the erstwhile rain commercial for Asian Paints — “Chalak chalak jaaye mausam” — or the more recent campaign for Chlormint — “Dubaara mat poonchna”.

His identity as a lyricist won acclaim with his soul-stirring, feminist lyrics in Shubha Mudgal’s Mann ke Manjeere. Till then, he had penned lyrics for music albums like Silk Route’s debut album Boondein, Shubha Mudgal’s earthy Ab ke sawan. Inevitably, writing for Bollywood had to follow.

Joshi has penned lyrics for films like Lajja, Aankhen and Walt Disney’s Hindi Jungle Book III, which is in the making, among some others. And now he’s writing scripts for two forthcoming Bollywood films. “My interaction with the film industry helps me understand the masses better,” he quips.

Apart from films, Joshi is deeply involved in social awareness campaigns for foundations like the Cancer Patients Association and Amitasha (a foundation for the underprivileged girl child) and causes like polio awareness.

The print ad for awareness of child abuse for Amitasha, which shows a young, underprivileged girl and a possible victim with her mouth stitched, won industry acclaim. “Emotions cannot only build brands in India but can also awaken mass conscience,” he explains.

However, his advertising copy has shifted from its deep emotional tone to irreverent humour (Nokia, Asian Paints, Cadbury’s) to which the light-hearted “Thanda” Coke commercials, Alpenliebe and Chlormint commercials are testimony. “I think am travelling a full circle. In the end, advertising has to be entertaining and real to be liked,” he says.

Joshi seems to be irked by rumours of personal differences with mentor Piyush Pandey and is more wary of controversies. “According to the ancient Indian academic tradition, after the disciple grows, the teacher allows the disciple to go ahead and conduct his own concert,” he says. “That’s the best way to describe our equation. I am performing in my own concert now.”

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

PEEPLI LIVE receives the best music score trophy at Asian Film Awards

Indian Ocean, the well-known Indian band, won the Best Music Score trophy at the highly prestigious Asian Film Awards at Hong Kong for its score in PEEPLI LIVE, a film directed by Anusha Rizvi and produced by Aamir Khan and Kiran Rao. It was India's official Oscar entry. The film came into limelight after it was selected in the world cinema section of Sundance 2010.

Though largely ignored by the celebrity driven domestic awards, the film was nominated in four categories of the most important awards in the Asian region. It was nominated in the best film, the best newcomer (Omkar Das Manikpuri), the best music score (Indian Ocean), and the best editing (Hemanti Sarkar), and it competed with the best of Asian films of last year.

Apichatpong Weerasethakul's internationally acclaimed fairy tale UNCLE BOONMEE WHO CAN RECALL HIS PAST LIVES got the best film award. An exotic tale of death and reincarnation, the film was the toast of 2010 Cannes Film Festival, and was a hot favorite among international critics. It beat the two Chinese box office blockbusters of last year AFTERSHOCK and LET THE BULLETS FLY in the race. The South Korean film POETRY, another festival favorite, directed by Lee Chang-dong, won the best director and screenplay awards. It had also won the best screenplay award at Cannes last year. Ha Jung-Woo won the best acting award for his role as a contract killer in THE YELLOW SEA while AFTERSHOCK, a film based on 1976 Tangshan earthquake in China and its aftermath, brought its lead actress Xu Fan the best actress award. The long time producer of globally popular films like ENTER THE DRAGON, FISTS OF FURY, HAND OF DEATH and THE TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES, RAYMOND CHOW, was given away the Lifetime Achievement Award this year.

The effects of the events in Japan were clearly felt during the ceremony as winners kept their speeches short. The absence of nominees and winners from Japan was acutely felt. The event's hosts and many award recipients expressed sympathy and condolences to the people of Japan and some even made donations to the charities involved in rescue and rehabilitation mission. Tatsumi 'Tom' Yoda, the chairman of the Tokyo International Film Festival, was present and he thanked the Asian Film Industry for its support and sympathy.