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Posts Tagged ‘Naseeruddin Shah’

Back on November 3, 2010, I had the pleasure of watching Anurag Kashyap’s new film written with, and starring Kalki Koechlin at the Minneapolis-St. Paul Asian Film Festival.

That Girl in Yellow Boots is an upcoming Indian Thriller film by critically acclaimed director Anurag Kashyap. Starring Kalki Koechlin and Naseeruddin Shah, the film will premiere at the Venice Film Festival. It will also be screened at the Toronto International Film Festival.  Ruth (Kalki Koechlin) comes to Mumbai to find her long-lost father, but when she takes a job as a massage therapist to make ends meet she becomes involved in the seedier side of the city. Although the money is welcome, and she does enjoy the adventure that comes with her new job, she soon faces an important moral decision. (source)

That Girl in Yellow Boots was the opening film in the festival, and as an added bonus, the director attended the film and answered questions before and after the screening. I had no idea this festival was going on and thanks to a tweet from Nicki, the Hmong Chick Who Loves Indian Cinema, I was able to learn about the event just 2  hours before it happened!  I’ve seen Kashyap’s  Black Friday (2004) and Dev. D (2009) and was already a big fan of his work, so I was delighted for the opportunity to see his new film. What was even more exciting was that Kashyap appeared at the event!

That Girl in Yellow Boots also was shown in September of 2010 as part of the Toronto International Film Festival, which you can read about here in a review by Marissa Bronfman

Look how fancy THAT event was! And get a load of Kalki’s gorgeous saree.   Kashyap’s outfits at the different events indicates The Minneapolis/St. Paul Film festival was quite a bit less formal that the Toronto festival.

Q & A before and after screening of That Girl in Yellow Boots

During the pre and post question and answer sessions, Kashyap graciously answered questions about his new film as well as previous works.  He spoke about the censor board in India and the difficulties to passing films through that process.  He also spoke about some missing (lost or destroyed, I can’t recall) footage from Black Friday (2004), and how it was merely pieced together with much of  its full/original content gone.  Having enjoyed Black Friday very much, I can’t imagine how more footage would have improved on an already great film.  A lot of the comments were basically, “Your films are so dark” and at one point Kashyap responded in good humor, something like, “With 800  happy films made in India in a year, it’s OK if 200 can not be happy.”  I bet there’s some recording of these before and after film comments by Kashyap and if I come across it, I’ll link it in.  I can only rely on my memory of the event, and I was so thrilled to be there that a lot of what I heard  has receded in to a vague happy memory.  I should have jotted down some notes or written this down right after it happened, but alas I did not.   There is a very nice interview with Kashyap done by MTN, and while the interviewer does not seem to understand quite how big of a deal Kashyap is, and doesn’t ever manage to say his name correctly, she makes up for this with her earnest curiosity, so I forgive her. 🙂  If you watch the interview, which I recommended, note how polite Kashyap is with his interviewer too, meeting her at her level of understanding and moving her along quickly to learn a lot in a short time.

The full interview with Kashyap on MTN can be found HERE.  There’s also  a very nice review of the film, by local writer, Will Wright, HERE.

Upon completing the question and answer session after the film, several audience members stopped Shree Kashyap for photos, autographs, and conversation while he was exiting the theater.  I caught him and said something like, “Do you want to know my FAVORITE scene from  Dev. D ?” I didn’t give him a chance to say no, and told him it was the scene when Mahi Gill’s Paro is dancing, knowing the Dev (Abhay Deol)  is finally on his way back home to the Punjab from London, but not back yet, and suddenly she glances up and sees him photographing her.

And then she meets him privately in the house, and he puts his arm up against the wall, to make sure she stays:

The scene described can be found here starting at 2:20:

That is one of my favorite movie sequences EVER for it completely captures the passionate anticipation the characters have for each other.  Though I told Kashyap how  much I loved that scene,  I’m not sure if he heard what I exactly said, since I said it so quickly and he was trying to attend to his other fans, but I loved having the opportunity to tell him that in person.

The After Party

If that wasn’t good enough, here’s the even better part: I actually got to sit and chat with Mr. Kashyap after the film! There was a gathering after the film viewing at a nearby bar,  Honey.  Now I know Honey sponsored the event, and they serve Asian fusion food, and this was an Asian film festival, BUT just across the street, within a stone’s throw of the Ganga Mississippi River,  is Nye’s Polonaise Room, voted best bar in America, which would have been my choice.

Nye’s has a lot more filmi charm and the character that a director of Kashyap’s reputation deserves, but I digress. Along with some of the audience, I made my way over to Honey and watched Anurag Kashyap speak with viewers.  I had a wonderful time talking about films with some NRIs and after about an hour we worked up our courage to approach that table where the director was sitting and eventually we sat down and talked to him.  As time passed I was able to sit right next to him and tell him another favorite scene I had from Dev. D. It’s the one where Kalki Koechlin’s character is asked to decide on a name to use in the brothel by Chunni (Dibyendu Bhattacharya)

and while watching Madhuri Dixit’s Chandramuki in Devdas (2002) on TV, she replies:

I also love the steaming momos sequence in Dev. D. but forgot to tell him that.

I asked Kashyap if he liked how Emosanal Attaychar was worked into  the background soundtrack of Peepli Live (2010). He asked what I thought of the new film. I told him it was fabulous.  Though the subject was dark, the humor and suspense worked in throughout relieved the intensity at just the right times.  I especially loved the scene where the goonda breaks into Ruth’s home and stubbornly struggles to work the various remote controls for her entertainment system.  I overheard one of the Tamilian NRI‘s at the table talk to Kashyap about Rajinikanth.  These Madrasis can’t help but talk about their superstar, I understand.  While Kashyap did not mention that he’d be working with Rajinikanth, he did say he was working on a film with Prithviraj and Rani Mukeji, if I heard correctly.  I’m not sure if he meant on the same film, if he was currently working on this project, or if they were separate projects not yet started.  My internet research does confirm the Prithviraj project.   Another thing discussed were the film’s yellow boots. Kashyap said in the store it was a choice between yellow or red Doc  Martens, and the yellow boots won.  I told him I thought the work boots were to represent that Ruth was there in Mumbai to do the heavy labor of finding out the mystery of her past;  she was there to take care of some dirty business, thus the work boots.  He said, no, but that this is the beauty of film, one can think what they’d like, make a variety of their own interpretations regardless of the director’s intentions.  I also told him that his films are in our Minneapolis library system, and he seemed to like that.  I did exercise great restraint by NOT saying some of these things I was thinking:  “Where’s Kalki?  I wanted to see Kalki too! How much does Nasruddin Shah charge  to be in a film? What about Abhay Deol?! He’s SO cute, what’s he like?!” I did though try to touch Mr. Kashyap’s feet for fun, something I like to do to Indians because I love when they say, “no, no, no,”   just like in the movies and it’s how I indulge my fantasies of being a gori extra in film.

He did the usual, when I tried to touch his feet and Anuragji said, “No, you must not do this.”  Kashyap left the table to go out to smoke and left his iPad, and I thought if I were the stealing type, a goonda, a dacoit, that would be a great iPad to steal, maybe get a few movie ideas out of it to sell.  While I did not steal his iPad, I confess, I stole on sip of whiskey from his unattended glass, only just a small part of the peg.  I felt fancy and daring doing this, and I’m almost positive that it was Johnnie Walker, and I would presume it was black label, hai na?  Wouldn’t you have done the same given the opportunity?

I was delighted to have the opportunity to see Kashyap’s new film and get a chance to share a few  moments chatting with him.  Read more about The Girl in Yellow Boots HERE, and in Katherine Matthew’s insightful Bollyspice review HERE, and be sure to see it when it’s released next year.

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She was known as one of the most beautiful women in the world:anuradha.leela.5

anuradha.leela.9 Last month while checking my blog dashboard, I noticed skyrocketing hits searching a post I’d done a while back on The Householder (1963). Closer inspection revealed to me that the  search engine term that referred people to the blog was Leela Naidu.  It was then I read the news that she had died on July 28, 2009. Since I posted a few pictures of Naidu in The Householder post, people were coming to look at her.  Then I went ahead to look for more images of Naidu online and  I noticed that there weren’t too many, though Pitu Sultan has a few great ones HERE.   So as a public service, I went ahead to take some screen caps of this lovely woman from two more of her films.  I saw Anuradha (1960) from the beginning of her career and Trikaal (1985) from the end of her career.  In each of these films she played the suffering wife and looked and acted equally beautiful in both.

Here are a few images of Leela Naidu from Anuradha.  She begins the film as a famous singer:

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1960-f-AnuradhaAnuradha Roy (Leela Naidu), a noted radio singer and daughter of a rich man, falls in love with an idealistic doctor, Dr. Nirmal Chowdhary (Balraj Sahni), who serves the poor in the distant village Nanda gaon. After the marriage and a daughter, she realizes the gravity of the choice of living in a village, it is then she has to decide between her love and her love for city life. (source)

After marriage to a doctor (Balraj Sahni) assigned to work in a rural village, Anuradha (Naidu) loses here fame and stands around looking gorgeous, waiting for her husband to pay some attention to her:

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Extra credit in Anuradha:

There’s  a brief apperance by David, who is looking very young here.anuradha.david

Twenty five years after making Arunadha (1960), Leela Naidu starred in Trikaal (1985) , where she continued to look glamorous.

1462_17_TrikaalTrikaal (1985) (Past, Present and Future) is an Indian movie written and directed by Shyam Benegal, setin Goa during the early 1960’s (pre liberation) Period. The film starred yester years actress, Leela Naidu, in a comeback role after many decades. Set in 1961 Goa, when colonial rule of Portuguese was on its last gasp,  the movie revolves around the life and tribulations of a fictional Goan Christian family called “Souza Soares”. (source)

trikalExtra credit in Trikaal: You get to see Naseeruddin Shahas well as Kunal Kapoor. No not that Kunal Kapoor, but the Kunal Kapoor who is Shashi Kapoor’s son, playing Captain Rebeiro.  Can you see a resemblance? I believe I can.

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There were also some great subtitles.  I like seeing the use of “paining”:

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Anti European comments are always a pleasure:

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And, best of all, the use of the term spinster always makes me smile, since I am a spinster myself! Jai spinsters!

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Naidu is pictured here above with Neena Gupta and Anita Kanwar.  There was also an appearance by playback singer Alisha Chinai, who played a singer of all things.  trikal.alishaChinoy

The song performed was a nice love ballad in what I thought might be Portuguese, but is more likely in Konkani, but I couldn’t find it online, so allow me to substitute a completely unrelated Alisha Chinai song since I admit I love it, and I know you probably will too. So here’s the interval to this post:

~ INTERVAL ~

Teekay, the interval is finished, back to Trikaal. Naidu’s Dona Maria Souza-Soares  raises Milagrenia as her own child, even though she’s the child her husband fathers in one of his many affairs.  Kuta! The classy Dona Maria shares both her grief and wisdom over the loss of her husband with Milagrenia.

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The two women share seances and finally have a mystic vision leaving them at peace with their grief and confusion:

I was able to find some prophetic images from both films where we can imagine Naidu is speaking on the end of her own life on this earth:

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And perhaps talking about what’s going on with her now:

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And if you’d still like to see more of Leela Naidu…

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Rest in peace Leela Naidu.

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For a more in depth look into Naidu’s life, read Leela: A Patchwork Life, by Naidu along with Jerry Pinto, reviewed here by G Sampath in his article The importance of being Leela Naidu for  DNA.

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Heat and Dust (1983) is a Merchant Ivory Productions award winning film, with a screenplay by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala based upon her novel, Heat and Dust. It was directed by James Ivory and produced by Ismail Merchant. Ivory performed tanpura for score music with Zakir Hussein‘s sitar. According to the Museum of Broadcast Communications there was “a cycle of film and television productions which emerged during the first half of the 1980s, which seemed to indicate Britain’s growing preoccupation with India, Empire and a particular aspect of British cultural history”. In addition to Heat and Dust, this cycle also included The Jewel in the Crown (1984) and A Passage to India (1984). (wikipedia)

Heat and Dust (1983), could I call that Bollywood?

OK Shashi is right, it isn’t Bollywood, but it’s set in India and stars Shashi Kapoor, so that’s good enough for me. I got it from my local library and it’s as part of The Criterion Collection, which never disappoints. I had read the book by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala and then realized that there was a movie, which apparently was a huge hit in Europe, and other parts of the world but wasn’t widely distributed in the US, which is why I wasn’t familiar with it. Here’s a case where I enjoyed the book and movie equally. If you get a chance to see it, be sure and listen to the commentary version to hear interesting things the producer, director and actors recall about the shooting of the film. The DVD booklet described the film as follows:

Heat and Dust was adapted for the screen by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala from her Booker Prize-winning novel, and tells two stories in parallel through the use of splicing and juxtaposing of scenes. Flashbacks, and flash-forwards, which connect the Indian past (in the romantic 19203) and present (the 1970s). In the first story, Olivia (Greta Scacchi), a junior administrator’s wife, has an affair with a local Nawab (Shashi Kapoor) that shocks the British community, and at the end she goes to live alone in a mountain retreat. The second involves her great niece Anne (Julie Christie), who comes to India to research Olivia’s life and on a different level repeats her experience, becoming pregnant by her Indian lover Inder Lal (Zakir Hussain) and traveling finally to the retreat in the mountains where Olivia had ended her days and where she herself hopes to bear a child.

I enjoyed seeing Shashi starring in a movie with his real life wife, Jennifer Kendal. Kendal died in 1984, and this movie was made in 1983, so this was one of her last films.

Kendal had a very Bollywood-esque character who got to say some racist dialogue. She warns the young Olivia to be careful, since she knew a British woman who had been molested by and Indian, “since he’d been ironing her underwear, after all. And they eat all that spicy food,” said Mrs. Saunders. She goes on to say:

Now that’s very Bollywood, isn’t it? To have a racist Britisher saying outlandish and offensive things. Another Bollywood moment was when I saw this actress, and knew I’d seen her before but couldn’t place it. She was marvelous and really captured my attention, even though her part was small. Do you recognize this woman? Not Julie Christie, but the woman with the bindi?

It’s a young Ratna Pathak, (wife of Naseeruddin Shah) who I last saw in Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na, playing Jai’s (Imran Khan) mother. And the final Bollywood ingredient to Heat and Dust was the inclusion of hijra.

Well Shashi,

I’ll tell you what a hijra is,

“In the culture of the Indian subcontinent, a hijra (Hindi: हिजड़ा, Urdu: حجڑا) is usually considered a member of “the third sex” — neither man nor woman. Most are physically male or intersex, but some are female. Hijras usually refer to themselves linguistically as female, and usually dress as women. Although they are usually referred to in English as “eunuchs”, relatively few have any genital modifications.” (wikipedia)

Watch the trailer and look at what Siskel & Ebert had to say here.

Read Ashmita‘s review of the book here.

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