Saturday, 11 May 2013

An afternoon with Salim Khan

That girl in a white dress, who by now, must have been disowned by half of the world for asking stupid questions,went close to him and managed to take his autograph. .A strange voice within me was screaming  at me since the time the workshop had ended to gather guts and walk up to him;certainly this girl inspired my move. I, someone who would never ever ask anyone for an autograph was actually overwhelmed by a man's honesty,intelligence and wit, that drove me to go running behind him, get blocked by the security, then find some other sneaky route to reach him and get the autograph.

I handed him over my flexible long book and a blue ball pen, he took it and found it difficult to hold the book without any support , struggling with the book and the pen he looked at me and said,"Beta ab ye aise mujhse likha nahi jata".

Yes I got it!!Salim Khan's Autograph.

He won't obviously remember this incident,considering the amount of experiences, encounters and episodes he's had in his life. I would be mad to expect that from the writer of 'SHOLAY'.

Let me tell you what prompted this star-struck encounter of mine.

I was at 'Whistling Woods', a renowned film school in Mumbai, to attend a 2 day free workshop festival celebrating 100 years of Indian Cinema. All I was concerned about was this screenplay workshop, I had no clue about Mr. Salim Khan coming for the workshop. I had seen him on T.V. I never knew his story, his thoughts or his idea of films. I just knew that he was the famous SALIM of the famous writer duo SALIM-JAVED, who had written blockbuster movies like Sholay and Zanjeer and is Salman Khan's father.

He began with the words- "Bachpan Main, main Cricketer banna chahta tha"
Salim Khan wanted to be a cricketer. His family had its origins in Afghanistan, they had moved to India to provide  a better educational atmosphere to the younger generation of which Salim Khan was a part of. They used to stay in Indore . Education was of high importance in the Khan family. Every Sunday when  the magazine supplement used to come home from the city,young Salim was always encouraged to read it and this is how and when, Salim Khan Sahab's interest in reading was nurtured. He soon became a voracious reader, he used to read the papers which were used to wrap food items/clothing/gifts etc that deep lay his curiosity.

He also tried his hand at flying. He says,"Bohot kam log jaante hain ki main trained pilot hun, I have 100 hours of flying experience".

He then decided on becoming an actor. He was spotted at a wedding and was told to come to Mumbai for screen tests. Khan appeared in such films as Teesri Manzil (1966), Sarhaadi Lootera (1966) and Diwaana(1967), in total he has acted in 25 films.

He says," Self assessment is very important to achieve success. What you think about yourself is not important, what others think about you is important. If your self assessment is right then it will surely take you on the right path. You must recognize what you are good at and then give it a shot". He soon recognized his forte;which was writing.

When he wrote down  his first script, he chased Ashok Kumar to lend him 15 mins of his busy life and listen to the script. He said,"Maine ashok ji se kahan ki ek baar 15 min ke liye sun li jiye , phir aap khud kahenge ki aage sunao". Ashok Kumar did listen to his script and the film was made. In those days writers had no respect. They were paid very very less. In Salim Khan Sahab's words,"ek writer bhik mangta tha, kehta tha.... please paise de do mujhe.... ghar main bachhe hain ... parivaar hain.".

 He met Javed Akhtar on the sets of Sarhaadi Lootera. Salim Khan used to assist writer/director Abrar Alvi at first and Javed Akhtar used to assist Kaifi Azmi.Abrar Alvi and Kaifi Azmi were neighbours,from there on Salim Khan and Javed Akhtar became friends and both of them ventured into script writing. Salim-Javed were the ones who carved a place of recognition and respect for the writers. They were the first ones to develop the concept of complete script; complete script is the one which contains a perfect *screenplay; that which tells the exact number of scenes the film will contain-50scenes, 75 scenes. Their first big success was the script for Seeta Aur Geeta (1972). They also had hits in Yaadon Ki Baaraat (1973), Zanjeer (1973), Deewaar (1975), Sholay (1975), Trishul (1978), Kranti (1981), Zamaana (1985) and Mr. India (1987). Salim-Javed, many a times described as "the most successful scripwriters of all-time", are also noted to be the first scriptwriters in Indian cinema to achieve star status.Never did a *screenplay mention the two words - 'The End', as the writer always assumed certain additions or modifications to occur time and again. Deewar was written in 18 days and Sholay was written in 32 days. Because Salim- Javed visualized the film clearly and then wrote down the scenes,they were very confident of what they wrote and insisted on having no changes done.

 According to them many of their contemporaries as well as their seniors had written great scripts, which were modified by the then directors and producers, as a result of which the film failed at the box office destroying a great writing piece. When Salim- Javed handed over the script of Zanjeer to Yash Chopra they had told him to not to change a full stop or a comma. He says,"If we won't protect our work ,who would?''. They were so confident about their screenplay that they knew, the transference of their visualization on screen would work wonders.

He recollected a very funny incident;when Zanjeer was released, its poster contained everyone's names but Salim-Javed's. They hired a painter to imprint their names in the empty spaces on all the posters in Mumbai city. However they didn't know that this painter was a drunkard; at night the painter imprinted their names on hero/heroine's/villian's faces. This embarrassment was a blessing in disguise. The producers who approached them later said,"Salim Sahab, app logon ko posters kharab karne ki  jarurat nahi padegi ... hum aapka naam bhi print karvaenge posters par."

He says,"Nothing is original. Originality is the art of conceding the source."
He quoted a very famous thinker saying,"Only a fool is original".
Every work is inspired from some source, either from our personal experiences or the kind of books and movies we come across. It depends on us how we interpret the source.
A classic example of the same is ;a film named 'Falak' was written by Salim Sahab which broke all records of failure. Mr. Subhash Ghai, told him,"Main isi script ko phirse banaunga... aur woh hit hogi" - this film was 'Ram Lakhan'(a super hit).

He describes his love for the art of writing through an incident. Salim sahab was very fond of reading, he had a collection of the best screenplays in the world and claims to have no intentions of giving it to anyone. He once stumbled upon a book named-"20 best screenplays'' at Mirza Sahab's place. He borrowed the book from Mirza Sahab with clear intentions of never returning it ; he knew it was the best screenplay book  and wasn't available in any bookshop. He says," Mirza Sahab ne mujhe kuch dino baad pucha toh maine kahan main padh raha hun, phir unhone aur kuch dino baad pucha tabhihi maine kaha ki main padh raha hun.... phir kuch dinon baad woh mujhe ek film ke set par mile tab unhone daat kar kaha ki, agar tumne mujhe woh kitaab nahi di toh main police main complain karunga. Tab maine turant jakarr woh kitab unhe wapas kar di. Hali main unka dehanth hua hain aur unke funeral main mujhe pata chala ki unhone unke bachon se kahan tha ki woh kitaab Salim ko de dena. Aur aaj woh kitaab mere paas hain".

He ended the afternoon on a beautiful thought which he had read in some book - "Art is nurtured in loneliness and exhibited in public".

screenplay- The movement of actors, their expressions, the throw of dialogue, the background set up is all described in a screenplay. For eg. Lets consider the first scene of sholay. It's screenplay would be something like this (roughly) Veeru and Jai are sitting down hand cuffed in a moving train.Jay is sleeping and the inspector is sitting on the seat.. Veeru looks at inspector and questions him.

Friday, 3 May 2013

Bombay Talkies Review.

Review of  'Bombay Talkies', an Indian Film.

I got an opportunity to watch 'Bombay talkies' on the day of its release, celebrating the end of my Literature exams. I have loved the film so much that I am dedicating a space in my blog for it.

Bombay Talkies is a combination of 4 short films, 30 minutes each, directed by 4 directors of different genres. It celebrates the 100 years of Indian Cinema which began its journey on the 3rd of May, also the film release date of Bombay Talkies.

This film claims to celebrate 100 years of cinema, however it shows the least signs of the same. These are 4 short films, brainchild of the respective directors. However, you can say that these 4 short films mark the beginning of  a new age Indian cinema where directors would experiment with different topics, just as these 4 have, in Bombay Talkies.

The movie begins with the end credits and unlike most other movies, sufficient time has been given to read the name in each department, thus stating the importance of the crew in the making of a film.

'Bombay Talkies' opens with Karan Johar's movie which revolves around the challenges a homosexual man encounters, in India, today. The plot is too dramatic and becomes predictable after 10 mins.The movie begins with a dream sequence where the protagonist hits his father in rage, for not understanding him, telling him that he is a homosexual and not a eunuch.This boy is  disowned by his family after he voices his sexual orientation; he lives by himself.On the other hand Rani Mukherjee and Randip Hooda (couple) are shown sleeping on the either sides of the same bed. Rani Mukherjee is the entertainment head of a Newspaper and the gay protagonist is an intern in her office. Randip Hooda is a newsreader in a prominent news channel. No intern in his right frame of mind would initiate a conversation with his boss the way this protagonist does. Rani Mukherjee and the protagonist become great friends in due course of time, such that Rani Mukherjee invites him over for dinner at her place,when the protagonist falls for Rani Mukherjee's husband and also initiates intimacy.The protagonist pays a couple of private surprise visits to Randip Hooda, thus making him feel special. Randip Hooda refuses this attention in the beginning to such an extent that he hits the male protagonist brutally, when he expresses his feeling towards Randip Hooda.However, later on Randip Hooda realizes his mistake and visits the protagonists place where his self control breaks down and he ends up kissing the protagonist. (In this scene you hear a 'WHY?' sound from the audiences) Rani Mukherjee leaves her husband after knowing the bitter truth of her husband's sexual orientation. She now feels relieved, when she knows, that the reason for the distance in their relationship wasn't her (she had always thought) but her husband, who had lied to her for so many years. This entire plot moves with the old Hindi song- "Lagja Gale"  in the background which makes Karan Johar's movie even more dramatic. Karan Johar has stepped outside his comfort zone and changed the existing views about him in the audiences mind with this film.  From school students who drove super bikes ,speedy cars and wore bikinis to something as realistic as this, Karan Johar has leaped light years and proven that he too can make experimental and realistic cinema.The dialogues of this movie are gripping. Karan Johar is a trend setter. I wouldn't be surprized if people go around asking, "Are you a Sridevi or a Madhuri fan?''

The second movie is Dibakar Banerjee's. His plot revolves around a lower class Maharashtrian man, portrayed by Nawazuddin Siddiqui who only accentuates the plot. Right from the beginning of this film one keeps guessing the plot, because Dibakar Banerjee provides extreme finer details be it the surrounding locality of Nawaaz's house, the relationship with his daughter or the presence of a giant pet bird. Banerjee has worked on finer details with remarkable precision and yet at the same time maintained naturalness. Nawaz was a part of theatre at the age of 23-24 until his father became unemployed after the shutting down of mills in Mumbai. He is not a risk taker, hence quits his passion  to secure a job and lead a stress free life.His daughter is shown to suffer from some physical condition.The highlight of this movie is the silent scene where Nawaaz makes faces to get a smile on his daughter's face. His daughter doesn't smile then and complains of him telling her no new stories. On the day of his job interview, for a watchman's post he gets late and heads back home congratulating the man who had been appointed in his place.On his way back home, he gets an opportunity to act in a minor scene of a big budget Bollywood film. Nawaaz puts his heart into preparing himself for the role, until he opens the paper and reads the dialogue he was supposed to say;just one word -"Aye" and becomes disappointed  when his illusions overpower his consciousness and he sees his Theatre mentor who tells him- it is because he always wanted to play safe that he is nowhere today. He tells him to understand the context of the dialogue and the different ways in which it can be said. If you have a dream and a strong desire to fulfill it then you should be ready to do the smallest work that would take you there.. The dialogues and setting of this particular scene are extremely detailed, be it an extreme long shot of Nawaaz practicing on one end and the dress-man sleeping on the other or his mentor standing in a dustbin.When the crew member asks him to wait and collect his per day amount, Nawaaz runs home to his daughter, to tell her the happenings of the entire day in the eye of a new story, which eventually makes his daughter smile. A detailed movie is often quite boring however Banerjee demonstrates the statement- 'God lies in details'. One focuses on several details at the same time and is hence, totally engrossed in the movie.One would watch Bombay talkies again for this movie.

After the interval we see Zoya Akhtar's movie. Zoya has redifined simplicity and innocence. Her story revolves around a school boy who has no interest in a mans play, i.e playing football or any such masculinity. He is shown to have female traits. He likes to dress up like girls. He is shown to have been lost in meeting his father's ambitions for him, until he watches Katrina Kaif dancing to the tunes of 'Sheila ki Jawaani', when he recognizes his area of interest i.e Dancing. His father opposes his passion for dancing and asks him to play football; which defines strength and masculinity. Brother-sister relationship scenes lift the screenplay . On seeing him dressed up in a girls attire and wearing his mothers makeup, the agitated father slaps him hard and tells him to behave like a boy. The same night the boy watches Katrina Kaif's interview where she says, ''To follow your dreams you first have to protect them from people who oppose them , hence hiding your true passions from those who oppose them is one mantra to live your dreams". He imagines Katrina Kaif as a fairy who comes out of the television screen to convey this message. This entire scene has been shot from the point of view of a 5 year old's psyche and works wonders. The boy, then begins worshiping Katrina. Several scenes make you laugh. On a whole, one feels a part of the movie and lives that innocence for 30 minutes. It's only after the movie gets over that you realize, smile didn't skip a nano second in the past 30 minutes.

All the chaos was saved for the last. I leave it up to you to decide if it was the best saved for the last.Yes, the word chaos is closely knit with Anurag Kashyap's cinematic intelligence. His movie is not about an Amitabh Bachan fan. In the beginning you might not like the plot and wonder as to where it is going? Everthing is all over the place and a lot of questions arise in your mind. The story is about a father who claims to be on the death bed (which he clearly isn't) and expresses his last wish to eat Muramba, half eaten by Amitabh Bachan. He also claims to have fulfilled a similar wish of his dying father who epitomized Dilip Kumar, who had lived long after eating the pickle half eaten by Dilip Kumar. Just to fulfill this wish  the protagonist comes all the way to Mumbai from Allahabad with a Glass container containing Muramba. The movie depicts his persistence and drive to meet Amitabh Bachan to fulfill the wish of his not-so-dying father. He stands through all the thick and thins to finally pave his way towards Amitabh Bachan. Overjoyed seeing Amitabh eating the Muramba, he describes this encounter to everyone whom he meets in the train, when a cruel fellow passenger drops the glass container containing the remaining Muramba on the floor and someone steps on it to destroy the reminiscent. On reaching Allahabad, he however manages to get a similar looking muramba and a glass container. His father, however recognizes the mishap and tells him that Dilip Kumar had denied tasting the pickle so he himself had tasted it and lied to his father. The last line of the movie says, ''Kaach ki bottle main muramba kabhi nahi rakhna chahiye" , when all the loose ends come together that now instill completeness in the plot.

You have to watch the movie for Dibakar Banerjee's and Zoya Akhtar 's work. Yes you will love Nawaaz like never before.

Make sure you leave the theatre before the,"Bombay Talkies song'' appears as that would diminish the 2 hour experience to trash.