NAACHGAANA

  • Shah Rukh Khan at heart is still simple-Juhi Chawla
    fenil_seta | February 13, 2014, 4:06 PM | no comments | 0 views


    Priya Gupta (BOMBAY TIMES; February 13, 2014)

    Juhi Chawla, in real life, is quite like we know her on screen — simple, emotional, sensitive and spontaneous. As she says, “I think more from my heart. My brains don’t work as much.” After losing her mother to an accident, her father to illness and not still having come to terms with her brother Bobby Chawla’s coma, she has become more quiet and thinks a little more. Ahead of her upcoming release, Gulaab Gang, which makes her both excited and anxious, she talks to Bombay Times about the super bright and simple Shah Rukh Khan, her emotional anchor and husband Jai Mehta and her past vulnerability versus Madhuri Dixit. Excerpts:
     
    Tell us about your journey into films?
    As we are sitting here, in this very Sun-n-Sand Hotel, I am reminded of the pool scene we shot in Darr. The yellow chiffon sari I wore, Yash Chopraji and Shah Rukh and me. How time flies. I still remember how I was so excited to work with Yashji and be his heroine. It was beyond my dreams that I could have one day become a Yash Chopra heroine. I had never thought so big and wondered if I could have lived up to his expectations. I was born in Ambala, after which we briefly lived in Delhi where my mum worked in the housekeeping department of Oberois. My dad worked for the Income Tax department and they decided to move to Mumbai when I was four as my mum had got a job with the Taj. My dad too took a transfer. My mom worked so that she could add to the family income. We had a comfortable life thanks to both of them putting their efforts but there was nothing like excess. Then I went to school and college here and then coincidentally slipped into films. Youth really has its flight, takes chances, doesn’t think too much and that is the beauty of it. Now when I look back, my friends were taking part in the Femina Miss India contest. And there were these forms going around in HR college. So I too decided to fill up a form. I had always been a studious and conscientious daughter, who wanted good grades for my parents. I knew I was good, but also knew that there were prettier girls in my class and that always kept me grounded. I still remember my dad’s reaction when I told him that I wanted him to sign my form. I didn’t know what I was wearing, a friend of mine did my make-up and I went for an interview to the Femina office at the Times of India building and the next thing I knew was that I had been shortlisted for the finals at the Shanmukhananda Hall. There were prettier girls than me, but I know I nailed it because of one smartass answer I gave. I got lucky and that is where my journey began in films. Just soon after winning Miss India, my first film literally walked to me.
     
    Your favourite directors?
    Yash Chopra, for his dream-like films and the way he presented his heroines. Only he would take care of what they are wearing and how they are looking. He was very sweet and there was always khanna peena with him. He would never shout, but knew how to get his work done. Working with him was a big experience in my life. Azizji (Aziz Mirza) for his warmth that shows even in his films. He is very well read and jovial. Be it his lyrics, his music, his sense of poetry or sense of humour, his warmth shows. And Mahesh Bhatt. Maheshji was one director I would just laugh listening to. He would not only tell you what you are supposed to do, but would also tell you what should be going on in your mind while shooting. A director normally tells his main characters about what to do, but he was one director who for instance in a police chowki scene would also tell the hawaldar standing behind what he must imagine in his head while the scene is being shot. For example he would tell him ‘imagine that you have fought with your wife and come.’ In his films, everyone was alive.
     
    Your favourite actors?
    Each actor has been a character. But the two obvious ones are Shah Rukh and Aamir. Aamir was the one who taught me my dialogues and acting in my screentest for Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak, post which I went to shoot South films. By the time I came back to shoot QSQT, I felt mujhko toh kaam aata hai. So he would fumble more than me in QSQT. But in reality we had both started together and there was no awe as we were both just as bad or good. He had assisted Nasir Hussain and knew the technical side. He would always think his scenes while I would be spontaneous. He was always intelligent and would get into details and would get into the length and breadth of every thing. We got on very well. Of course, he has become more serious now and is doing great work. He was not completely happy with all the films he was doing then. I, of course, was learning anything and everything from everyone and didn’t know he would become the phenomenon he is today or that Shah Rukh would have become what he is. Hum log ko toh koi credit hi nahi deta. They should be grateful to me as because of me they became huge stars :) Shah Rukh has always worked 20 hours a day. He told me once, ‘I have six tracks going on in my head and I can think clearly through each one of them.’ I was baffled then only as I felt yeh kaise ho sakta hai, mera toh ek bhi nahi chalta. He would help the director in writing and staging the scenes and would rehearse with you even 20 times. When he came to the set, I knew that the director would be at ease as he would make it all work. He would make us laugh and keep us entertained. That time, even though he was just three years into Bollywood, while a star’s water would usually be served in silver glasses, Shah Rukh in his initial years would have his tea from the same glass that the crew would have and have dal chawal with the unit. He was very simple. Now, things may have changed a little, but I think at heart he is still simple. He is very intelligent and he reads a lot. I wish though he could stop smoking and just care about his health and rest a little more.
     
    Madhuri Dixit and you were always pitted against each other in your peak days. Did that bother you then?
    Yes, at that time there was Madhuri and me, as we had come into the industry at the same time. Her Dil and my QSQT were released three months apart. There were comparisons. Now, I read in her interviews and realise that she was not even bothered and was actually just doing her own thing at that time. She was really mature. But I think I was not so wise so I would get affected as people would always keep telling me, ‘See what you are doing and see what Madhuri is doing.’ I was vulnerable. I had not come in knowing this is where I was going to go and was not sure of myself. I was living and learning and experiencing and getting scared of where I was myself. There were many times when I would feel, ‘Shit, what if I my next film bombed?’ I was insecure, inexperienced and young.
     
    Who was your emotional anchor at that time?
    My emotional anchor was my mom. But I lost her in a car accident a year after my marriage. A few years later, my dad became sick and I lost him too. My brother Bobby is eight years older than me. As kids, he and I would fight like cats and dogs. He would often push me and I would go flying and would hate him for it. He initially moved to Delhi to work, but then returned to Mumbai to build a career and we lost our mother. After losing her, my brother became my anchor and I thought he would be there with me through thick and thin, but he has been in coma for a few years now. My husband Jai is today my anchor in every way and I am most attached to my children, Jai and my in-laws. What Jai cannot solve for me, I leave it to time to sort itself. I was broken when I lost my mum and then again when my brother fell ill. I became spiritual. I questioned many things and am still questioning. Sometimes I feel scared that there is no one sitting up there. Of course, I also hold on more to my family and value them even more now.
     
    How did you meet your husband?
    We got married 15 years ago. I had known him vaguely when I was in college. Then I lost touch with him as I started working. Much later, I met him again in a restaurant when I had gone with my friends for dinner. We started keeping in touch. I was an actress by this time. He started wooing me for a year and then we got married.
     
    What is he like?
    He is very generous and for him friendships mean a lot. He is very large-hearted and he has a more forward looking vision than mine. At times I am not able to look at things and maybe, I am looking at the smaller picture, but he will help me stand above it and look beyond.
     
    In Gulaab Gang, were you comfortable playing a villain given that you have always been loved for your innocent, sweet onscreen image?
    First I was appalled and wondered why they wanted me to play a villain. But then I realised that I don’t have to become Prem Chopra or Gulshan Grover. I have to just be me with a little play with it and it will happen.

    LINK




  • Sometimes my mother sends me an email saying, ‘Don’t say penis on stage’-Vir Das
    fenil_seta | February 12, 2014, 1:48 PM | no comments | 0 views


    Priya Gupta (BOMBAY TIMES; February 12, 2014)

    Vir Das, 34, is pretty much to himself when he is not working. He likes being alone with his girlfriend Shivani Mathur and his bulldog, Doctor Watson. He is ambitious, hardworking, socially awkward and dons four hats, of being a standup comedian to an actor to producing events to now, becoming a musician. He is a restless person who, on any given day, wakes up with a lot of ideas and then needs to execute them in a manic fashion. He is a diehard romantic and extremely sensitive to the few people close to him in his life, but is emotionally detached from the larger world. Ahead of his ‘senseless appearance’ as he calls it in his upcoming film Shaadi Ke Side Effects, he talks to Bombay Times about his childhood in insecure Africa, the poised Aamir Khan and why The Newshour is his favourite show on television. Excerpts:

    Let’s talk about your childhood? 
    Due to my surname being Das, people think I am from Kolkata. But while I may fill up a lot of theatres there, I am actually from UP. I was born in Dehradun and raised in Africa, where I moved with my parents when I was one year old. My dad worked as a manager for a poultry farm in UP from where he joined a big food processing company in Lagos, Nigeria. From the age of nine, I studied in a boarding school as the schools were not very good there. I first went to Sanawar boarding school, then Delhi Public School in Class XI then to Sri Venkateswara College for a year-and-a-half after which I went abroad to a school called Knox in Illinois to do Bachelors in Theatre. I would go back to Nigeria only during my holidays and my only memories are of eating good food and watching movies from the video library. There were many Indians there with a rich Indian cultural association. But the law and order was bad, so you had to stay indoors with a lot of armed guards at the gate and a lot of drivers. We lived in a compound of seven houses, which were very well-guarded. That meant that you couldn’t ride a bike outside, so it was a bit of a closed living. It meant that you don’t drive fancy cars or wear jewels in Africa as you could be robbed. When we first went there in 1981, a naira was a dollar-and-a-half, but by the time we left Nigeria, a dollar was probably equal to 120 nairas. That was the journey where it just got worse and worse. Years later, my parents finally moved back to Delhi when there was an emergency in Nigeria and president No. 5 got assassinated and everybody decided, okay it’s time to leave.
     
    Were your parents comfortable with your stand-up sex comedy act?
    Sometimes I get a nice email from my mother saying, ‘Don’t say penis on stage’. And that will always be point No. 3. First two points will be, ‘Son, you are working too hard. Son, eat well.’ I never make my parents sit on the front row as they get very shy. They will always be in row five or six and will always watch the audience, hoping as hell that they are not embarrassed. They will never look at me. My mom prefers watching my films versus stand-up comedy. In a film, it is dark and I am not on stage. They also complain that I work too hard and don’t sleep enough.
     
    How did you become a stand-up comedian?
    From the time I was in Sanawar, I was good at anything to do with the stage, be it debating or drama or athletics, but sucked in my studies. So I joined this hardcore acting course in Knox. My fees there were $26,000 a year, out of which I got $20,000 in scholarships. My dad made a deal with me that he would sponsor the balance 6000$, if I did a double major there. So I double majored in economics and theatre, but with crap grades. It was a tough acting programme and, by the fourth year, I was not enjoying it and wanted to do something more organic and free. I had been watching stand-up for years, as my dad had a Bill Cosby album that I used to watch. So I landed up writing a 60-minute show, as my thesis performance called ‘Brown men can’t hump’, as a rebellion towards acting and the drama faculty. It went well and I graduated a year post 9/11 in the shittiest job market. I did four jobs — security guard, building painter, dish washer and banquet bartender in Chicago, trying to get acting jobs and starting doing the amateur circuit in stand-up comedy there. I started getting assignments and came back to India to do a show for the Times of India at the India Habitat Centre in New Delhi in 2003. That one show changed it all. For many years, I hosted the Times Food Guide awards and was a VJ at Zoom when it was launched. I then hosted a show at night, targeted at the corporate world on a business channel. I became a corporate comedian and started earning decent money. I then quit my job in 2007 and wrote and performed a stand-up comedy called ‘Walking on Broken Das.’ I made a DVD titled ‘Viagra’ with my performance and decided to distribute six copies to different video libraries with the hope to get exposed to people. Can you imagine two of those DVD’s landed up at the desk of Aditya Chopra and Aamir Khan productions due to two assistant directors who had rented it out. I was called in for the two auditions. Within six weeks, both Badmaash Company and Delhi Belly happened.

    Are you in love?
    I have a live-in girlfriend Shivani for the past three years. She too is an event manager and she too travels as much as I do. We are very happy together and we live with our British bulldog called Doctor Watson. this is an interesting time for the both of us in our respective careers. We will be married within a year or a year-and-a-half.
     
    Who are you most attached to in your life?
    Shivani. She is my reality. She is the one person who will tell me if my joke sucks, though, of course, she proudly finds me hilarious. I am very conscious when I see myself on screen. But her eyes will light up even more than mine when she sees a good performance of mine. She is fiercely intelligent and loyal and one of those people who can make me laugh.
     
    Who else can make you laugh?
    Kunaal Roy Kapoor can make me laugh. Politics makes me laugh. I am a news junkie. People watch a movie with their dinner. I watch The Newshour. I think coming from the industry where you know you are funny, it’s hugely entertaining to watch a group of people who are unaware of how funny they are. The panel of The Newshour is extremely entertaining. It’s my favourite show on television. Because a) it’s funny and everybody on the panel knows its funny and b) it’s an uncensored, flustered version of people, which is the best version of people where they are slightly uncomfortable, but they have to say what is on their mind.
     
    How was it playing Farhan Akhtar’s friend in Shaadi Ke Side Effects?
    The director Saket Chaudhary came to me and said, ‘We want you in the film.’ We struck a deal where I said, ‘I will write it and create the character with you. It will be extremely stupid. The deal is you have to credit it as the ‘senseless appearance by Vir Das’.’ So that is my credit in the opening sequence and is pretty much the most stupid thing I have ever done on cinema. I went to work and made up things everyday on the spot. I am the most irritating thing in Farhan’s life in the film. So I am not his friend at all. In fact I am anything but his friend.
     
    Who do you credit for your being in films?
    Aamir Khan. There were a lot of people considered for the role in Delhi Belly, but I know that he fought for me. And that film changed everything for me. He is something to aspire towards, where there is a tremendous amount of work with a tremendous amount of success dealt with a lot of poise and planning. That appeals to me as well. In this phase of my life, where I am shooting six days a week and do three gigs a week and I have to write a new song and produce and tour, I kind of wish I had his poise where he has figured out the balance of it all. I am a restless person and I am right now in a position where there is a lot of opportunity, more opportunity than I have ever had, so I am trying to figure out what to take and what not to take. (more…)




  • I have not done any kind of ‘plastic surgery’-Anushka Sharma
    fenil_seta | February 11, 2014, 5:17 PM | no comments | 0 views

    Anushka Sharma
    Hellooooo everyone !! Today I am here to talk about my lips !! Yes ! There ! I said it .. My lips ! As a person I find it difficult to talk about my personal life and hence have always maintained a low profile choosing to interact with you all on twitter with my random -mostly illogical thoughts seeming like the only thing I feel ok about ..that’s just who I am .. But in today’s time where PR stories and feeding people with information constantly or making appearances is a fad somewhere people like me get lost in translation or in this case translations!

    Lately there has been a LOT of talk about me in this particular episode of KOffee with Karan. Mainly regarding my lips . I am here to just convey what I have to say regarding the same . I am talking about it only because this story has taken a scary direction and things have been ‘blown out of proportion’ ( pun intended ;) ) …

    For a short while now I have been using a temporary lip enhancing tool and that along with make up techniques ( I have learnt over the years) is the reason why there might be a change in the appearance of my lips. Having stated this fact let me very vehemently assure everyone that I have by no means gone ‘under the knife ‘ or done any kind of ‘plastic surgery’ or undergone any intrusive procedure . This was my decision and was done for the sake of my look in my upcoming film Bombay velvet, a period drama where I play a jazz singer in the 1960′s – 70′s . And it was taken from the referencing of that time.

    The drastic change in my appearance on KWK is due to lot of factors put together and not just my lips . Everyone goes through good and bad days. Did I think I looked good on the KWK episode ? NO . I do feel I could have done things differently. (more…)




  • Kareena should ask what is the film and not who is in the film-Anurag Kashyap
    fenil_seta | February 7, 2014, 4:25 PM | no comments | 0 views

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    DNA (February 7, 2014)

    Anurag Kashyap makes his debut on Koffee With Karan this week. Known to be honest to a fault, the director shocks and surprises host Karan Johar with candid answers! We are delighted with his responses. The film industry and it’s people might not take it in the right spirit. But then Kashyup has never cared about that. Read on…

    K: A film you saw recently that you thought was over-rated?
    A: Shuddh Desi Romance.

    K: Complete the sentence. Ram Gopal Varma is…
    A: Ram Gopal Varma was… not is. (more…)




  • My way of telling an actor when he or she does a good shot is kiss them-Anurag Kashyap
    fenil_seta | February 6, 2014, 3:37 PM | no comments | 0 views


    Priya Gupta (BOMBAY TIMES; February 6, 2014)

    Karan Johar and Anurag Kashyap may look from different planets to an outsider, but they feel they could have been conjoined twins, who would make even more successful filmmakers together. Ahead of their joint production Hasee Toh Phasee, in a first-of-its-kind interview, they spoke to Bombay Times together. While we carried the conversation with Karan Johar yesterday, we bring you the conversation with the other brilliant man in the jodi, Anurag Kashyap. Excerpts:
     
    Karan Johar and you are extremely different people. What brings you together?
    A lot of things bring us together. I used to be a very opinionated person and used to always resent Karan for the fact that he was privileged and the fact that he comes from a big filmi family. How he just gets away with anything and we slog our asses off and don’t even get our releases. I felt that this industry doesn’t support me and was very anti-industry, and just thought of making good cinema. But after meeting Karan, I realised that I am more opinionated about the industry than the industry is about me. I understood that everything I had in my head about people was in my head only. It was not my attitude that I did not want to work with stars. It was me not knowing them and having the fear whether I would be able to retain my own identity if I worked with them. All the fear was unfounded and I found that actors actually want to experiment with themselves. Whenever I have angst, Karan teaches me how to throw it away and laugh at it. I have understood why you need these blockbusters as money circulates. Those 200 crores is what comes to us so that we can make these kind of films. He was the first man I met who was laughing at himself and I learnt the ability to be able to laugh at yourself from him. It was always my own complexes as an outsider that got enhanced. I realised later that everything that happened with me was for the good. But, at that time, I blamed the industry for all the consequences.
     
    Why do you have so much angst in you?
    I am a mush bag but have this incredible struggle with myself. I have angst, but it is transformed. Earlier, my angst was with the industry, now it is with the media. I feel there is such a desperation for news bytes that everything and anything is becoming news and, sometimes, I find myself at the receiving end of it. For instance, for a long time, I kept ignoring stories about my personal life but when you start writing it, you land up creating it. First, it was Huma and Kalki and they laughed about it thinking it would die down. And when we are having other kinds of issues, Huma was dragged into it to the extent that she being a friend of the both of us, she one day actually broke down. Kalki tweeted, I gave a statement but, of course, it didn’t help. Huma and I went to Kalki’s birthday party from where we went to a screening. Kalki could not come as she was the host at her party. Media asked Huma and me to pose together and we posed as it hardly matters, but they created a story around it. It affects her. Why create stories when we have given a statement that Kalki and I have separated? I deal with my angst by calling Karan now.  

    Talk about your friendship with Karan?
    I am unfortunate that I did not discover Karan earlier as I would have got rid of a lot of things. I have a serious communication issue. I also understood a sense of responsibility from him as a filmmaker as someone is paying for your love of making films. I used to earlier shrug that responsibility in the name of making good cinema. Being cost-conscious, when you have no money to begin with, is no virtue. It’s about being conscious when you have been given the money. Karan is a generous human being and is generous about everything in his life. The amount of opportunities he gives people, the way he treats people, the way he gives. He mentors you. My most favourite image is Karan Johar doing the hair of my daughter at Cannes Film Festival. My daughter was very worried, but he made her look good. For the next two months, she was telling her friends, ‘You know Karan Johar dressed me up and did my hair.’ No father can be given a bigger gift than that. He does these things impulsively without even thinking. He makes me emotional. I have a gush of love for him and need to hug him. I like to listen to him and watch him with wonder on how he makes you laugh. He has done so much good to me emotionally, internally. I can ask him things and am not afraid to admit things I don’t know. I have no sense of dressing. I can call him and he will help me. He will sit honestly and give me feedback about my films. He is so straightforward and honest. We know how he is so self-deprecating. You see him not feeling bad about a lot of things. He is also a human being and may feel hurt, but the way he puts it out, it makes the person hurting him feel bad as he just laughs out at it. All these qualities are rare and that is why he is the common person loved by everyone, despite all camps, and is evolving at a pace in his life that none of us are.
     
    Your advice to Karan?
    He is now spending less time on his creativity and needs to do that now as he is doing so much for everyone. Why does he do these TV shows? He is constantly worried, arey Gori Tere Pyaar Mein has not worked, I need to make money for my company so that the other projects he has started with new boys don’t get interrupted. That is what is incredible. He should spend more time on himself. In many ways, what Dibakar said, about his short film in Bombay Talkies being his debut, is correct. He can make a commercially successful film at the back of his hand, but he has not put himself up on screen. There is so much world-view inside him. He has it but the expectations from him are so different, the fact that he is running a company that is giving a chance to so many people that he takes that responsibility so much that it affects his personal, emotional and professional life.

    Karan told me, ‘I have made a lot of movies to know where a camera is positioned, but I just couldn’t see it on Anurag’s Bombay Velvet. I asked Ranbir, and he said, ‘It’s there.’ Anurag, actors like Karan who have worked with you talk about your brilliance as a director in allowing your actors to be. While you are a large-hearted director, why are you not like that as a person?
    I love actors. My way of telling an actor when he or she does a good shot is kiss them. I actually dance on the set when I get a good shot. I have done theatre when I was 21. I actually dabbled with acting and hated myself on screen as I realised that I hated myself, as I was so conscious even though I was a fearless actor on stage. I realised that directors restrict and that is why I developed this style that for actors to breathe I need to not lock the camera.
     
    Are you missing being on Twitter?
    The good thing about going off Twitter is I have discovered diving and a lot of time that I can spend on creativity. In the last three months, I have found myself a boat in the Andaman islands. I stay there myself and dive. I have gone there multiple times. I read and write there. I disappear to different parts of the world. A year back, I too felt that I could not get out as I was doing these multiple cottage industry movies, but I paid a big price for it. One of the key issues between Kalki and me was that we did not just spend enough time with each other. She felt that it is better to have you as a neighbour than living in the same house with you and that is why we have actually become neighbours now. (more…)




  • I lost my virginity before Arjun Kapoor-Ranveer Singh
    fenil_seta | February 6, 2014, 3:36 PM | no comments | 59 views

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    Arjun Kapoor and Ranveer Singh, who declared themselves virgins on national TV, now talk about lust, sex and threesomes!
    Upala KBR (DNA; February 6, 2014)

    Foreword
    As I sit down to pen this article, I get a call from the studio Yash Raj Films’ rep, ‘instructing’ me gently ‘tone down’ my interview. I am told politely that Gunday is not a sex comedy like Grand Masti (errrm… didn’t need that pointed out but whatever…) and I shouldn’t project it in the wrong light. I am tempted to tell them that I don’t belong to the media moron brigade and don’t like to be told how to do my job. I am further informed that the production house doesn’t like to project such ‘overt sexuality’ in their films as their mindset is slightly ‘conservative.’ (Clearly they have got amnesia. Don’t all YRF films have the mandatory bikini babes and French kisses in practically all their films?) I am told all this after I step out of the YRF premises as they were ‘too embarrassed’ to tell me when I was doing the interview. Throwing their instructions to the wind I decide to write the article as I had envisioned it. Leaving it to you dear reader to judge the ‘sexual’ overtones — or lack of it!

    The Gunday boys…
    Ranveer Singh (boisterous, motormouth and over-enthusthiastic) and Arjun Kapoor (shy, man of few words and reserved) are as similar as chalk and cheese. But when they are together, there is no clash. They compliment each other. They finish each other’s sentences, poke fun at each other, and have genuine fondness for each other. I hate to be a sceptic but such filmi friendships come with an expiry date, which rarely lasts past the release date.

    But today they are friends, and that is all that matters. They appear to have swapped their personalities too. During the course of the interview, at times Arjun gets more talkative and Ranveer takes a backseat. Then again, Ranveer’s racy humour and candid revelations come pouring out, leaving Arjun squirming and grumbling. Over to the Gunday boys: (more…)




  • Me & Anurag hugged like yeh bandhan toh pyaar ka bandhan hai-Karan Johar
    fenil_seta | February 5, 2014, 1:19 PM | no comments | 0 views


    Priya Gupta (BOMBAY TIMES; February 5, 2014)

    While Karan Johar and Anurag Kashyap may come from different worlds of cinema, they have a lot in common as human beings. They may have so far collaborated three times, but have become friends for life. They first came together in directing short films for Bombay Talkies, then co-produced The Lunchbox and now are co-producing their upcoming romantic comedy, Hasee Toh Phasee. As Karan said, “The film has a bit of both. It’s quirky, so it has Anurag Kashyap and it has a song like Zehnaseeb, so it has me.” Vinil Mathew, the director of the film, told us that to his surprise, even though Karan and Anurag watched the film separately, they cried and laughed at the same places. For the first time, Bombay Times brings both the filmmakers to talk about each other. Before starting the interview, Karan said, “See, he has come wearing a jacket today as he knows that Karan Johar jacket pehenke aayega.” Due to the length of the interview, we will carry it over two days, starting with the conversation with Karan Johar today. Excerpts:
     
    From not talking to each other, how did you become friends?
    Anurag wrote a blog saying nasty things about me, post which we had a verbal spat in Mumbai Mirror. I wondered why he was being nasty when he didn’t even know me. I had seen his Black Friday and absolutely loved it. But I saw him venting to death about me thinking I am this rich, glamorous, glorious person without any struggle and I frankly hadn’t struggled even though I’d pretend to. Once in an interview, I actually said I grew up in a really small two-bedroom flat in Malabar Hill and used to travel to Goregaon in a taxi. Farah Khan called me and said, ‘Is this your idea of struggle?’ I came from simple parenting, but my parents always made me believe that I was Mukesh Ambani’s son. Even though my father had made a series of unsuccessful films and didn’t have the money, I still had the habits. They may not have gone on holidays, but they sent me. But I still could not match up to Anurag Kashyap’s angst story na? High level of decadence because of high level of depression. I didn’t have those problems, so what to do? To me, Anurag represented the Ram Gopal Varma school of filmmaking. RGV’s problem with me was that Satya did not win an award. What can I do if I won? Maybe Satya deserved every award versus Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, but he didn’t win it. Too bad. Maybe, I was just better looking than him. So when Anurag took off on me, I decided that he needs a hug and decided to do that when I met him at a restaurant in Bandra. Hundred heads turned at me when I moved towards him as if rich studio was entering the Hindi space. Anurag, who is the poster boy of that movement, said, ‘Baat kar leni chahiye.’ I said, ‘Hug kar lena chahiye.’ So we hugged like yeh bandhan toh pyaar ka bandhan hai and imagined a round trolley going around us and that was it. And from there, the friendship of two people began, whom I believe are the same people.
     
    What was your reason for making Bombay Talkies?
    I am dying to be that intense director, who is above media and the trappings of the industry. Imtiaz Ali and Anurag Kashyap look like directors. I have become a mockery of myself, dancing in a reality show, judging, hosting. Barring reaching the opening of an envelope, I have reached everywhere else. And I am unapologetically this. My perception by the director community is very flawed. Rajkumar Hirani looks distant, quiet, intelligent, Anurag looks like a mad genius, Imtiaz looks like he is sorted with a sufiist vibe. I look like a third row dancer. I reacted to movies as an audience. To me, The Lunchbox was a love story that would make money. I did Bombay Talkies as I wanted my name along with Anurag, Zoya and Dibakar. I felt that critics, who otherwise think I am murdering cinema, may still have an opinion, but at least they will come and see it. That’s why I insisted they put my film first so that no one walks out after seeing the other three films. Dibakar told me after the film, ‘This is your debut film.’ I have admired his work and earlier walked up to him and said, ‘I am your big fan.’ He said, ‘Thank you’ and walked off. I felt that even if he did not want to say nice things about my films, at least he could have complimented me on my shoes or looks. Directors just don’t compliment me. Lagaan is amongst my top five favourite films. Ashutosh Gowariker saw Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham and called me after the trial. I thought he must be calling to say nice things, but he said, ‘Just saw your movie. I didn’t like it at all.’ I said, ‘Oh!’ But it was wonderfully gracious of him a month later to call and compliment me as it had commercially worked. I am obsessed with directors even though they are not obsessed by me. Anurag, please tell her how much I begged you for the role in Bombay Velvet. Naseeruddin Shah criticised Farhan Akhtar’s performance in Bhaag Milkha Bhaag. Imagine what he will do to me? I love Naseer sahab and have the highest regard for his work, but I want to ask him, how can he have a problem with commercial films? Nobody put a gun on his head and asked him to do Tirchi Topiwale. In some way, his bungalow must be the result of commercial films. I am sure Tirchi Topiwale must be responsible for many things in his life. He was a part of an item song. My input to the most talented filmmakers has been fashion and I am proud of it. Instead of giving creative tips, during Bombay Talkies, I was teaching Zoya, Dibakar and Anurag how to walk the ramp. My big input to Dibakar and Anurag was hair gel and shine spray. Zoya was telling me, ‘What are you making us do?’ And I said, ‘You are walking the ramp, so do it properly. While in Rome do what the Romans do.’
     
    You make us laugh in person, but your films make us cry.
    I love crying and to me, cinema crying is very cathartic. I remember when I watched The Namesake with Mr Bachchan. All my pent-up emotions of losing my dad came out, even though, thematically, it had nothing to do with losing a parent. But something triggered an emotion and I just remember weeping. The second time I cried was while watching Taare Zameen Par as I was in boarding school for four days, that too, in the same one shown in the film. I remember my parents leaving me behind there. Seeing the film, I think Niagara Falls had begun and I wept and wept and I called Aamir after the show. The first film I cried was in Ankhiyon Ke Jharokhon Se. I was eight years old and was bawling at the end of it. My mother kept explaining to me how that was not real, but that didn’t stop me from crying.
     
    What do you like about Anurag?
    At heart, we are the same people. Both of us have a certain sense of acknowledging other people’s brilliance. We have an inherent mentor in us and want to create and nurture resources and put them out in the creative world. We have a sense of impulse and take decisions more from the heart and I identify with him as a human being. I have to eternally be grateful to him for giving me a part in his film, as I got to see how he works and felt so enriched technically.
     
    How different are you as directors?
    He is raw, I am not. I love his projection of women, mine are more stereotypical, based on value systems that I believe in. He has led the life. I have led a very sheltered life till the age of 25 and became a man only at 32, when my dad died. My people observation is still on the surface, but he has been on the road, drunk at times, and taken home, he has seen failure and rejections, seen heartbreaks and failed relationships. He has lived the life. I am still living it. Nothing fails like success. And nothing succeeds like failure. My biggest failing has been my success. I have not been in a long-term relationship, but have been in unrequited love, so whenever I show that, I get it correct. But when I try and show something I have not experienced, I am caught. You put actors together, they don’t know how to have fun, but you put directors together, they feed off each others’ energies.
     
    Your advice to Anurag?
    You have to not only control your film, but also the environment without getting sucked into it. Somewhere, the director in me has taken a beating because of the producer in me. Never go there, but understand your business. He represents a certain brand of brilliance, which can be platformed at another level if he does that.
     
    Were you always this secure as a person?
    A conversation with my father changed my view of the world. I was the blue-eyed boy after Kuch Kuch Hota Hai in 1998. Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam came in 1999, which I loved, but it bothered me to no end. I was getting jealous and I was tracking its box office. My father saw it. My father asked me, ‘How did you like the film?’ I said, ‘I loved it.’ He said, ‘What is bothering you?’ I said, ‘It is making me feel inferior.’ He said, ‘You will never grow. Go and call Sanjay Leela Bhansali and tell him how mad you are about the film and see how good you feel.’ I did that and felt relieved. He said, ‘How will you grow if you don’t acknowledge?’

    Conversation with Anurag Kashyap to appear tomorrow.

    LINK




  • Naseeruddin Shah is a bully-Coffin Maker director
    fenil_seta | February 4, 2014, 2:10 PM | no comments | 0 views


    Vickey Lalwani (MUMBAI MIRROR; February 1, 2014)

    The director of The Coffin Maker, Veena Bakshi, is spitting fire. The film has won quite a few awards at the festival circuit, including the Best Actor award for Naseeruddin Shah. Yet, on Friday, Bakshi woke up to the actor describing her as “totally incompetent” in a film glossy. He went on to add that the film was “abandoned incomplete” and he regrets doing it.

    Talking to Mirror an enraged Bakshi said, “Naseer was the one who abandoned the film. We had financial issues and shooting came to a halt. When we were ready to roll again, he was unwilling to shoot. After a few meetings he said he’d report back on the sets only if he was paid an additional Rs 1.5 crore. Imagine his audacity!”

    So, what went wrong between Naseer and her? “I wish I knew. There was no reason that I can fathom,” Bakshi replied. (more…)




  • Armaan is loyal, real and played the game with his heart-Tanishaa Mukerji
    fenil_seta | January 31, 2014, 10:21 AM | no comments | 0 views


    Priya Gupta (BOMBAY TIMES; January 30, 2014)

    Tanishaa is a simple person who likes simple things. She is stubborn and strong and may talk too much at times, but is loyal to a fault. She has an OCD for being clean, healthy and organised. Being on a disciplined vegetarian diet in the Bigg Boss house for 105 days, she has lost weight and is looking truly stunning at 48 kilos. She has enjoyed doing all the different things she got to do, be it the production of Son Of Sardaar, a play, Bigg Boss and now a Marathi film. In her first interview post coming out of the Bigg Boss house, she talks to Bombay Times about her strong mother, the loyal Armaan Kohli and why Ajay Devgn is the perfect husband for her sister. Excerpts:

    What made you be on a show like Bigg Boss 7?
    The challenge. People asked me, ‘Why I would do it?’ And I would say, ‘Why not?’ I am not defining myself, so don’t define me. Expect the unexpected from me.

    Reportedly, your family was not happy when you were going in. Did it affect your relationship with them?
    My family supports me 100%. That is what it is. Before I went in, they were very protective and who would want their precious, pampered daughter to go into a place like Bigg Boss, where even normal people may not be able to cope. My mother was like, ‘What are you doing?’ But I know that the greater the risk, the greater the reward. In this case, it was all reward. It didn’t only affect me. I don’t need to spell it out, but there were games being played even outside. More than everything else, I have come out with so much love and am so proud of having an insanely strong family that I have. They proved it outside the house and I proved it inside. No matter what you do, you can’t break us. You can skim the surface, but you can’t touch us.

    Talk about your experience inside the house? 
    I stayed there for 105 days. I was the first person to enter and the last person to exit. I knew there would be no access to the outside world and that there was no TV, phone or help. You do all your work, be it ironing, dish-washing, sweeping, mopping, everything. Luckily, we girls decided that all the boys would do the sweeping and mopping. And while some guys objected to it, the other chauvinistic ones said, ‘How can you ask the girls to do it? They are doing enough work in the kitchen.’ I was washing the dishes and loved it. I was earlier living with a friend in LA where she would do the cooking and I, the washing. I find it very soothing to clean. I have a little OCD. They give you a supply of fresh vegetables once in two days but it is never enough, so you divide the ration that is given. According to me, they are playing a psychological game where they are trying to play with your head and, therefore, limiting your necessities. They are trying to put you under stress and strain and their format is engineered to push you out of your comfort zone. You can only sleep when they tell you to sleep. They decide when you can go to sleep and you are not allowed to sleep till the lights go off. I am a boarding school kid and would wake up before the alarm rang. They will have dogs bark at you, but will not allow you to sleep for more than seven hours. They will purposely start a task at lunchtime when you are hungry, as at that time you will be irritable. I never tried to dominate anybody or manipulate anybody. I never bitched. Nobody affected me in that house. I am a student of Psychology and within two weeks, I knew each one’s real personality, but didn’t know what levels they could go to. They did not affect me as, for me, they were predictable once you understood them, so I managed to keep my cool even though in the outside world, I am not so cool. In an extreme danger, your true personality comes out. There, you are constantly under attack, be it mental, verbal or by the negative energy around you. Whatever you are deep down inside has to come out. I was never playing the game with anyone in the house like the others were. I was only playing with Bigg Boss. For me, winning the game was keeping my cool. The true test of a man’s character is when he is put under a stressful situation not under his control. Bigg Boss was one such. It taught you that you can choose what you will allow to affect you.

    Talk about Salman Khan as the host?
    Salman is a phenomenal host as he cares about the people in the house and cares about your impression that is going out. He is a caring person. He is not allowed to come inside and talks to us only through television. But over the four months, he is the only person you see from the outside world and you feel you have formed a connection with him, even though he may not feel that way. Not just me, but all the inmates felt a connection with him. Of course, I once told Bigg Boss, ‘We are human beings. You might have driven everyone insane, but we are not in a mental asylum that you call us inmates.’ I came out quite sober and sane. I never wanted to get out and I think I am mentally very strong and that probably frustrated Bigg Boss a lot. If I felt something, I got out of it without drowning myself in that emotion. They want you to get bored as an idle mind is a devil’s workshop. They starve you and put you in weird situations. I missed my books the most and watching movies. I would actually sit and birdwatch with Andy and saw beautiful birds in Lonavla that I would have otherwise not seen. I had no clue what was going on outside, as they kept me specifically away from that. And I think everyone knows why.

    Did you miss anybody outside?
    No, as I realised that my family is not normal. I never expected my family to come into the house. Even though everyone inside would empathise with me and say, ‘We know that you are missing them’ but I would say, ‘Sorry dude, I am not like you.’ I know my situation and know who my family is and would never ask them to come to the house. Of course, I would miss them. Sometimes I did feel that I wanted their perspective, especially that of my mother and sister as that grounds me. They protect you, hold you close and bring you back to reality and I did miss that. They are my world.

    What are you dependent on your mom and sister emotionally for? 
    I realised in the house how strong I am. You always self doubt. I am more sensitive and my sister is more emotional. After going in the house, I realised how many things I admired about my sister and how similar I was to her. About her not caring a damn about what people think and knowing exactly who she is. I realised that I knew exactly who I am and didn’t give a damn about what people thought. My mum has instilled that in us. She doesn’t care a shit about what people think. She is a gentle soul that allows beauty to grow all around her. None of us are dominating. I missed my mom for all the positive reinforcement she gives me. And my sister for the objectivity she brings to my life. We are a very tight family and my mum has always taught me to believe in myself. We have this amazing bond, where I know no matter what I do, they are always behind me. And they know that about me. I am very stubborn, but there has been a lot of change in me emotionally. Physically, you can see that I have lost a lot of weight and I love it.

    What is Ajay Devgn like?
    He is amazing. He is the epitome of being a man. He is strong, silent and secure and is the perfect husband for my sister. J (Ajay) loves me as much as he does as he loves my sister as much as he does. J is less protective about me than my sister. He will encourage me to do things that she may feel over-protective about.

    Talk about your sister Kajol?
    The one word that defines my sister is pure. Everything she does is pure. She has no negative thoughts and has a pure soul. Her every action is pure and she has always been true to herself.

    Talk about your mother Tanuja?
    My mother is my guru. She is my teacher, who has taught me all through my life. She has taught me to always tell the truth. She always said, ‘If you stand by the truth, nobody can push you down.’ She was missing me like crazy and I am most attached to her. I love my mom due to the way she loves me. Same for my sister. The way they talk to you and love you, you want to be loved by them.

    What is the role of Armaan in your life after coming out of the house?
    Armaan is my best friend. And I look at friendship as a relationship. People have seen everything that there was to see and can define it the way they want to, but the fact is that he has supported me 100%. The best thing that the house did was that no matter what happened we stood together.

    What qualities of his do you like?
    You bond with people you identify with and see your own qualities in. That was with Andy too. Andy and I were very similar. Andy would react and I understand why he was reacting. People tried to tell me that he was bitching about me or putting me down, but I would always say, ‘I know where he is coming from.’ And that’s exactly what I will say for Armaan. He comes from the right place. With me as well, I am a very loyal person. Armaan had that loyalty. Andy has a British sense of humour and so do I. We would sing Mary Poppins songs and would perform Phantom Of The Opera. Armaan is loyal, real and played the game with his heart. I am loyal to a fault and very proud of it. I may agree with somebody else, but will stand with the person I am loyal to.

    As a first runner-up, did you win money?
    No. I won other things. I won hearts. I won positivity. I won India.

    LINK




  • No misunderstanding can change Shah Rukh being our family member-Shekhar Ravjiani
    fenil_seta | January 28, 2014, 2:20 PM | no comments | 0 views


    Priya Gupta (BOMBAY TIMES; January 28, 2014)

    Shekhar Ravjiani, 38, is a Kutchi, born and brought up in South Mumbai. He is emotional, sensitive and simple. Emotionally, he depends only on himself and is vulnerable only in front of God. While he is usually calm, there are times when he has a bad temper. He loves his daughter Bipasha the most, considers himself blunt and travels to different places when he is not working. His biggest critics are his daughter and wife Chhaya, who are currently hooked on to his latest song Zehnaseeb from the upcoming film Hasee Toh Phasee. Over an hour-long conversation with Bombay Times in his studio, he talks about the mad Sujoy Ghosh, the extremely talented Sukhwinder Singh and why he needs to go to London every two months. Excerpts:
     
    How was the duo of Vishal-Shekhar formed?
    Music was a hobby for me. It was also in the family as my dad played the accordion. My dad was a share trader, but it was therapeutic for him to play his favourite songs on the accordion in the evening. Mum also had a beautiful voice and would sing. Their friends would come home and they would have music sessions. We lived very close to Jagjit Singh sahab, who was a close family friend. He would come home and I would go to his house when he was doing riyaz and would attend his concerts. I started learning classical music at eight and then the piano. At 17, my father got me a big keyboard and I started making music just for fun. A friend of mine once came home and said, ‘Why don’t you create jingles?’ I didn’t even know what a jingle was, but was happy to do it. He took me to Mad Films to meet Mukul Anand, who coincidentally was making Dus at that time. He liked my stuff and asked me to make a title track for Dus. While the track could finally not be used in the film, it was a great experience just being with Mukul and learning from him. I also started doing a lot of ad jingles for him. At 20, my friend pushed me to audition for Sa Re Ga Ma where I got selected. I was 23 when Raj Kaushal, who had been Mukul’s assistant, gave me two songs to compose for his film Pyaar Mein Kabhi Kabhi. One day, I was leaving the studio and bumped into Vishal Dadlani. As it happens, Vishal and I had met years back, when a common friend had got us together in a band, to perform for the Nofra Navy Ball, since both of us belonged to South Mumbai. He played the guitar and I, the keyboard, and that was like one of the worst bands in the world. Coincidentally, he had also been asked by Raj to compose two songs for the same film. We exchanged our stuff and decided to make the title track together. We felt our collaboration had worked and Vishal-Shekhar was formed. We set up out first studio in 2002 inside a marble factory in Worli, next to a graveyard. While we have now moved to a better place in Bandra, that first studio will always remain special to us.

    What is Vishal like?
    He is a kind-hearted soul and a good man. Despite not having formal training in music, he is extremely talented and a fantastic singer, composer and writer. We are very different as people, but there is something about our friendship, that is the strong bond between us. Our combination is the force. I believe that everyone who comes into your life is destined.
     
    You were obviously upset with Shah Rukh asking Honey Singh to make Lungi Dance for Chennai Express. What went wrong?
    Shah Rukh is and will always remain a family member. No misunderstanding can change that. Every family has that and we are now creating this mad album for Happy New Year. Shah Rukh is a really nice human being and a lot of fun. He also has a great sense of music and is a super guy. I bumped into Yo Yo Honey Singh and he is a very sweet guy. I enjoy collaboration and whenever the opportunity comes to work together, it will be fun. His music is doing well and at the end of the day, the audience decides what it likes.
     
    We earlier saw music directors singing their own songs and now see music directors singing each other’s songs.
    Every single song chooses its own singer. Music directors like Shankar Mahadevan can sing anything. I am also a big fan of his music and we are really good friends and play each other’s music to each other, when we hang out together. I also like Amit Trivedi and Pritam’s music. We have heard stories of how Panchamda and Laxmikant Pyarelal would sit and drink together and jam and sometimes even help each other if they got stuck somewhere.
     
    Your favourite singers?
    I love Sukhwinder Singh. He is unbelievable and becomes a part of the song he sings. I also like Shankar Mahadevan, Sunidhi Chauhan and Shreya Ghoshal.
     
    Most promising new singers?
    Arijit Singh, Sanam Puri, Neeti Mohan, Nitesh Kadam, and Nandini Srikar.
     
    Other music directors you really like?
    There were three people whose music I always bought when I started. AR Rahman, Ismail Darbar and Vishal Bhardwaj. They are fantastic.
     
    Which directors have you enjoyed working the most with?
    We had a lot of fun working with Sujoy Ghosh, Milan Luthria (Taxi No. 9211, The Dirty Picture) and Anubhav Sinha (RA.One). Sujoy is a dear friend with a big heart and is totally mad. Milan and Anubhav are very musically inclined. Also, Farah Khan, who is extremely clear about what she wants and for her, it’s always a clear yes or no. If she doesn’t like a song, she will say, ‘Yeh Sujoy (Ghosh) ko de do.’
     
    Your song Zehnaseeb from Hasee Toh Phasee, sung by you, is beautiful. Talk about it?
    I asked Amitabh Bhattacharya, the lyricist of the song, if he knew of a new word and he said ‘betehaasha’ meaning ‘bahut’. He said, ‘I have another word also and the word is ‘zehnaseeb’ meaning ‘fortunate’. It sounded beautiful, but since I had liked ‘betehaasha’ also, he put both in that song, Tujhe chahoon betehaasha zehnaseeb. We recorded the song and Karan Johar, who is extremely musical, loved it. We kept it on the backburner, till Karan met me two months later and asked for it to be put in the film.
     
    Talk about yourself?
    I sometimes get up at 2 in the morning and start playing the piano in my living room if I’ve got a song in my head, without realising that there are other people sleeping at home. Sometimes, I just go off on a long drive in the evening to clear my head. Or I will just take off for two days to London all by myself. I take walks around to disconnect. There is a place called Serpentine in Hyde Park, where I just like to sit with my cup of coffee and be totally blank. I try and do it once every two months. In a creative process, there is a lot of usage of your brain cells and you start feeling claustrophobic and exhausted after a while and want to disconnect. But, come to think of it, I feel really blessed to be the chosen one, to be able to create music, be able to sing a little, have a beautiful family and be happy at work. From a time, years back, when I had visited Film Centre to see a recording with 180 musicians, it was destiny to have got to work with the same number of musicians myself in Om Shanti Om. I have no regrets in life.

    (more…)



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