Category Archives: bollywood

Dadasaheb Phalke is not the Father of Indian Cinema?

The Indian film fraternity is busy gearing up for the 100 years’ celebration of Indian cinema. Amidst all the fanfare, Pune based brothers Vijay and Anil Torne have challenged its very foundation. According to them, it wasn’t Dadasaheb Phalke but their father Dadasaheb Torne who had produced the first film of Indian cinema, ‘Shree Pundalik’, thereby becoming the rightful claimant to the ‘Father of Indian Cinema’ title. 

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Pic: Newspaper Advertisement of Pundalik of 25th May 1912

“The play was shot in Mumbai at Lamington, Tribhuvan and Vitthalbhai Patel roads. By this time, my father had exhausted all his money. He again approached Bourne and Shepherd company which agreed to process the film in exchange for the Williamson camera. The film was shipped to London where a negative and positive were developed and the positive was sent back to my father for screening,” Anil said.

Ramchandra Gopal popularly known as Dadasaheb Torne had released it on 18th May 1912 at the Coronation Cinematograph, Girgaum, Mumbai. Experts believe that Torne had missed out on the recognition he deserved, because of a few technicalities. Firstly, the movie was a shooting of a popular Marathi play and secondly, it was shot by a British cameraman, Johnson who developed and kept the negatives of the film in London giving Torne only the positive print to bring back home.

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Pic: Dadasaheb Torne

The point I want to make is that William Bolts is considered to have made the first attempt in printing a newspaper in India, but James Augustus Hicky is considered the first one to run a paper. Similarly, Torne should also be given some recognition though that might be petite as compared to that of Phalke.

Recognizing the first attempts in any field, help in dissemination of correct information as well as it makes people inspired to focus their work in those directions. I support the effort by his sons. Do you?  

The curious case of Katju!

Accept it or not. Like it or dislike it. Justice Markandey Katju will end his term as the most controversial and outspoken Press Council of India Chairman. His single comment on an issue gives a lot of food for thought and airtime to television news channels who inadvertently say, “Today India is hearing. The people of India needs an answer!” Sigh! Even Ekta Kapoor’s serials were less dramatic!

Sometimes, I wonder that is every and any kind of publicity really the best publicity? Well, the likes of Rakhi Sawant, Sherlyn Chopra, Poonam Pandey might now see a lot of people joining their bandwagon driving the media persons around them. Latest yet unnoticed entry is Mr. Katju. First of all, I respect Mr. Katju a lot. He has shown the guts to come and speak in public sphere time and again against ill-practices in states against media and the wrongdoings by media itself.

ImagePic: Retired Supreme Court of India Justice Markandey Katju

But, some of his statements have been perplexing. The latest jaw-dropping statement made by the Retired Supreme Court Judge is that, “Pakistan is a fake country, and one day it will reunite with India along with Bangladesh.” At a time when both the neighbor countries are disturbed internally and India’s foreign policy has taken a beating, such statements won’t amuse many.

He may confuse you with his words many a times. When he sees that he is in danger then he says that he has made that particular statement as a citizen of India, and when he sees that he has to take decision, he asserts his authority as a retired judge. Swapping roles fast, eh?  

He further goes on to say, “A fake country was created in the name of Pakistan. It is an artificially created entity by the British to make Hindus and Muslims keep fighting with each other, to stop India from becoming a powerful industrialized nation,” he said, answering questions after a symposium on ‘Reporting Terror: How Sensitive is the media?’ on 07 April 2013.

I am not against his statement but I do not like the timing as well as the free publicity element behind it. Without digressing from the subject, I would say that unless the politicians stop mixing their profession with religion and avoid from calling for caste based voting, there shall not be any solution or occurrence of merger between countries.

Once he said, “Ninety per cent of Indians are idiots. You people don’t have brains in your heads.” Subsequently, a PIL was filed against him and he eventually said sorry.

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If that wasn’t enough, read his one more remarkable statement! On September 3, Justice Katju had written an article in The Hindu, in which he, inter alia, went on to say:

“The level of intellect of many teachers is low, because many of them have not been appointed on merit but on extraneous considerations. To give an example, when I was a judge of Allahabad High Court I had a case relating to a service matter of a mathematics lecturer in a university in Uttar Pradesh.

Since the teacher was present in court I asked him how much one divided by zero is equal to.

He replied, Infinity.

I told him that his answer was incorrect, and it was evident that he was not even fit to be a teacher in an intermediate college. I wondered how had he become a university lecturer.”

Justice Katju claims that anything divided by zero is indeterminate. He is wrong and the lecturer was right because any non-zero number divided by zero is infinity. It is zero divided by zero that is indeterminate.

While one can understand the plight of the poor lecturer who did not have the courage to correct the judge hearing his case, I am appalled at the timidity of “some of the top senior academicians” of Jawaharlal Nehru University, to whom Justice Katju narrated the incident.

Well there a many startling statement made by him, but they cannot be put in here.By the way another one was, when he said that, “Sanjay Dutt should be pardoned because he was part of Munnabhai film, spreading Mahatma Gandhi’s ideologies…” And the list goes on.

Himmatwala!

The much awaited film ‘Himmatwala’ opens with Sonakshi Sinha dancing to the tune of a disco number: “Thank god, it’s Friday!” After seeing this flick one would surely not say so!

Holding allegiance to the 1983 original Himmatwala, this movie has all the ingredients of a moony masala film. Sajid Khan’s entertainer, ‘Himmatwala’ starring Ajay Devgn and Tamannah Bhatia will disappoint the critics but has chances to get good box office collections owing to its good promotion. Sajid Khan surely needs to be honored with an IIM Ahmedabad MBA degree for getting audiences for this movie!   

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Ajay Devgn, (Ravi) is an action master who returns to his village to find his mother (Zarina Wahab) and sister (Leena Jumani) banished by the evil sarpanch Sher Singh (Mahesh Manjrekar) and his brother in law Narayan Das (Paresh Rawal). 

How the action master along with his lover girl (Tamannah) tackles the odds with the help of divine mediation and a CG enhanced tiger is what the film is all about. Along the period, there are ample skits and scenes to compensate for the lack of a better plot and sense of logic.

Nonetheless, performances of certain characters make the film bearable. Paresh Rawal as Narayan Das is commendable. He literally reminds of the comic legend Kader Khan and his witty dialogues, something that has been missing in films these days. Rawal’s impeccable performance in the film proves that character artists are either not being used appropriately or rather being abused nowadays.

The props and the sets are in concurrence and the colors are jarring enough to remind of Doordarshan’s pre-telecast static screen days, but despite the trickery the black and white spoof on Hitchcock’s ‘Psycho’ shower scene, what lacks is the right approach to making a regressive age old story of revenge and justice. 

It is a film devoid of cinematic aesthetics. It seems that the filmmaker doesn’t really believe in winning applause from critics, for he makes films solely with the intention of entertaining the audiences.

Tamannaah Bhatia as Rekha looks promising. She is pretty, delicate and good at her job. And last but not the least, Ajay Devgn, without whom the film wouldn’t have been possible, will enthrall his fans yet again.

One is left confused when we hear lines like- ‘Main tumhe ek baar kho chuki hu, dubara nahi khona chahati,’ whether the film is a tribute to its era or is a spoof (when Ajay reminds Tamannah it’s the 80’s and she should tear her dupatta and cover his wound), or a cross breed of the both?

The film can bore you with tired cliches you thought you’d seen the last of – the hero’s ‘maa ki kasam’, his unfortunate sister who only exists to be raped by the villain’s henchmen and tortured by her in-laws, the villain’s spoilt but good-hearted daughter who falls for the hero much to her father’s disdain, and even an old foe who turns up at a crucial moment to help the hero in return for sparing his life earlier, that character, by the way, is played by a tiger!

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Sajid makes an attempt to pay homage to the cinema of yore, but what he delivers makes you sit motionless for most parts. The romance lacks fire, the drama is devoid of intensity, even the action is plain ordinary. 

Verdict: On the whole, Himmatwala fails as a film. Movie has over-the-top melodrama and number of senseless twists and turns. The film is too long to bear as the director has hardly experimented or done anything to add a path-breaking punch in the movie.

 

The ballyhoo around Sanjay Dutt

The mills of justice in the 1993 Mumbai blasts case may have taken 20 years to grind and deliver a verdict, but the mills of “grind doctors” for superstar Sanjay Dutt have gone into overtime within minutes of the verdict to secure a pardon which he arguably doesn’t deserve.

Is law not same for all, irrespective of their status and position? Then, why everyone is questioning the recent Supreme Court judgment in regard to actor Sanjay Dutt? Why nobody is saying anything about death penalty to mastermind Yakub Memon in the 1993 Mumbai blasts case? Is it because Dutt is a Bollywood actor and son of two film legends- Sunil Dutt and Nargis? If this is the case, then India should have two sets of laws- one for layman and another for the rich and powerful.

Many voices of influential persons have erupted in support of pardon to Sanjay Dutt on a myriad of grounds. Be it former Supreme Court Judge and Press Council of India Chief, Justice Markandey Katju or Bollywood actor and Rajya Sabha MP Jaya Bachchan, everyone seems to be getting carried away by the screen persona of Sanjay Dutt.

“Sanjay Dutt’s parents have done social service. He himself has done some good things like promoting Gandhian philosophy in movies. He has two small children and suffered for 20 years,” Katju said.  

But is relief from the aftermath of conviction all about being a nice guy or how kind, wonderful and successful your parents and siblings are? I have great regards for the actor, but the society should see that he needs to be tried equally as is the case with other convicts.

The Dutts have long been Congress loyalists. Sunil Dutt was a Congress MP and the party nominated his wife Nargis to the Rajya Sabha. The actor’s sister, Priya Dutt is now a Congress MP. There are also allegations against Justice Katju of favoring congress led states during his reports on misuse of media in states of India. 

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Pic: Sanjay Dutt (Left) with his father Sunil Dutt (Right)

What does the common man understand from this situation? He is always swayed by one or the other statement. Why should we bend law for the rich & famous? The questions linger on.

Due to terrorist interactions, and illegal possession of a 9mm pistol and an AK-56 assault rifle on 19 April 1993, Sanjay was arrested under the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities Act (TADA). He spent 18 months in jail until he was granted bail in October 1995 by the Supreme Court of India. He was later re-arrested in December 1995 and re-released in April 1997 once again on police bail terms. In 2006, the case opened for sentencing for all accused. The period between 2006-2007 saw Dutt spend 7 months in Arthur Road Prison and Pune prison on three occasions for arms offences. Although in 2006, Dutt was finally acquitted of any TADA-related offenses but was charged under the Illegal Possession of Arms Act.

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Pic: Sanjay Dutt leaving from the Yerwada Prison, Pune 

In his first confessional statement, that he made to his father who wanted to know why he had been stashing deadly arms, Sanjay Dutt said, “Because I have Muslim blood in my veins. I could not bear what was happening in the city.” A crestfallen Sunil Dutt had then left the police headquarters.

Summing it up, I would say that the move to secure mercy for Sanjay Dutt is an act of lubrication of the law, laden with dangerous consequences. And yet, it appears that it has enough political and social momentum to sail through.

May the rule of law prevail, with equanimity.