Thursday, January 29, 2009

Hurry-Hurry Bolo!

I remember my mom loved to keep pet parrots and one of them used to repeat – Hari Hari Bolo!
I must be around 4 and for a 4 year old, the beautiful green tail and red beaks of the parrots were far more fascinating than their ability to mimic. After getting bitten several times, I learnt never to play with their beaks, but the soft green feathers on their tails were totally harmless. Once I realized that I started pulling their tails mercilessly.

That way I killed a couple of parrots. My mom never tried to keep any other pet after that, to save me from the sin of Jeev Hatya.

She sometimes tells me about my first school entrance exam. She says I was much much faster than all other kids but my handwriting was too bad as compared to most of them.

She repeats the story whenever I am trying to do something very fast.

Well I always laughed when she told me this story.

“Being in IP business I need my handwriting to be as unreadable as possible, and whenever I need to express my thoughts I can type them.” I used to tell her until last weekend.

I was shooting another 48 Hour Film last weekend. The Genre I got was Horror.

Horror is one of my least favorite genres.

I never see, read or write anything that has got anything to do with horror. I don’t get scared or anything but feel uncomfortable and disgusted seeing/reading stories on – Horror, extra marital affairs (Silsila etc.), stories with prostitutes as central characters (films like Umrao Jaan or Memoirs of a Geisha are the films which disturb me a lot, no matter how much they romanticize it).

I wash my hands several times while reading horror stories/comics or watching a horror movie. I really find them very unhygienic.

I panicked as soon as I got this genre and I decided I’ll mix horror with some other genre to make the film. A horror spoof was the first thing that came in mind, and I was able to use all other elements that the competition needed in this funny story, but my team wasn’t sure about it. (I was working for the first time with most of them).

A brainstorming session went on for hours and I decided I’ll mix a thriller appeal to a horror story.

This time I wanted to go the bollywood way. My game plan was - I wont write a screenplay but decide the scenes and start shooting. I can always stitch them together to make a film on the Editing Table.

As we were already running out of time, I started doing what I am really good at – Hurry!

We started shooting the film, I mean the scenes. Thanks to Neeshank, our very talented Cinematographer, we managed to shoot some real cool scenes.

Sharib Bhai also joined the gang as an actor and said the only dialogue I had in the film.

Rest of us played the Zombies…

We shot for almost 24 Hours.

I reached the editing suite around midnight the next day. My editor was just going to start editing, when his stomach rumbled and before I could realize the poor guy was hospitalized for food poisoning. Getting an unpaid second editor at 2:00 am was impossible. (Besides the way we shot the whole film, we needed an editor who could understand what we wanna show in the film and edit the 3 hours footage into a 4 minute film.)

Next morning we started hunting for another Editor. I called up Devang, an editor friend and hijacked him while he was coming out of his studio after finishing his night long editing shift. Devang (who worked the whole previous night) edited our film the whole day, while our in-house musical jodi Dhirendra and Rishabh worked on the music.

After 48 Hours of complete madness, we were able to submit the film on time.

But as the screenplay/story boards were not done in the beginning, many things I feel went wrong with the film. The outcome of a hurried process can never be satisfactory. I am sure this version of the film looks exactly the way my handwriting would’ve looked like in that school entrance exam.

I am really unhappy with this cut of the film and going to re-edit the whole thing and redo the sound for some of the scenes soon. If I can try and make my handwriting better than what it used to be, I can improve the film and my habit of hurrying everything too.

“Slowdown Speedracer!” – SP always says, when I hurry things. Bro, wish you were there to say those magical words!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Slums Ka Saya : Aaskars Mein ‘Jai Ho’

(This post was written yesterday (22nd Jan) evening, just before I left to see Slumdog Millionaire.)Oscar Nominations are out

And by now it's an old news that Rahman has got three nominations for Slumdog Millionaire
(Hans Zimmer has no nomination for TDK and is out of competition).

Rahman's Nominations-

One nomination for Best Music (Score) for which he is competing with - The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button, Defiance, Milk (haven't heard scores of any of these films so can't comment) & Wall - E. I feel he is going to face a tough competition in eight times Oscar Nominee Thomas Newman (Shawshank Redemption, Little Woman, American Beauty, Road To Perdition, Finding Nemo, Lemony Snicket's A Series Of Unfortunate Events & Good German).

Two Nominations for - Best Music (Song) - 'Jai Ho' & 'O Saya' here he is competing with Peter Gabriel (& Thomas Newman's) song Down To Earth (for which Peter has already won World Soundtrack Award for Best Original Song Written Directly for Film).
IMHO looking at all the probabilities Rahman's songs have a much-much stronger chance to win in this category.
(The only thing that can work against Rahman is the lyrics of the SM songs. Gulzar's lyrics are too poetic and can't be translated/dubbed on the other hand Peter's Lyrics which are in english will be easy for the Jury to understand).

Let's hope Rahman brings back the first Individual Oscar to India.

I saw Slumdog Millionaire and strongly felt - the film is over hyped. I feel its an okay okay film, with brilliant cinematography by Anthony Dod Mantle (who was the DOP for wonderfully shot - The Last King Of Scottland as well), great performances by the slum kids and brilliant soundtrack by Rahman.

In many ways the film reminded me of Bombay Talkie (1970).

Wanna write more about SM but there will be lots of spoilers, I think I should wait atleast for a week before I post my SM Review here.

Oscar Se Aaskar Tak

India is celebrating on Rahman getting 3 Oscar Nominations, forgetting the great sacrifices made by Mr.Oscar(pronounced Aaskar) Ravichandran, who recieved a legal notice from Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in the spring of 2008 to change his company's name from Oscar Films to something else. The creative genius came up with a new name- "Aaskar Films Private Ltd" and also replaced the logo he had been using (which was similar...identical to the one used for the Academy Awards)

So much for
Oscars Aaskars!

PS. Do read this hilarious post on AaskarAwards on Son of Bosey.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Child Is The father of a (Great) Film Maker"

After a long long time last Sunday I spent the whole day at home. Saw four films back to back. All were great but two of them – A.I. & Oliver! touched my heart. My intention behind seeing these two films was something more than just seeing another film on a lazy Sunday afternoon. I wanted to see and learn how the character of a kid is being portrayed or explored as protagonists in such films. But once the movies started playing on my DVD Player, I forgot what I wanted to see or make a note of it and was completely lost in the fairytale-ish story telling. One was a period based story and other a Sci-fi fairy tale but both of them had the soul and innocence in place. Stories with heart I must say.

The minute detailing of the sets, the music, and wonderful cinematography, everything takes a backseat and compliment the wonderful performances of the teenage protagonists. The kids perform so well that you totally forget about the efforts of the directors, which actually propelled the performances to another level. Directing kids is fun but it takes very little to turn all the fun into a nightmarish experience.

Meri Kahani

I was fortunate enough to have an opportunity to work with a Kid’s TV Channel Network, where I got many chances to direct children. Its sheer pleasure to work with kids who are experienced, but it’s a real pain when some non-actor kid surprises you with a brilliant take and then spoils everything by looking at you within a fraction of a mili-second (which spoils the whole take) after completing his/her lines for your approval. You can’t even shout at a 5 year old looking at you with those curious eyes. Don’t even try telling them s/he has spoilt the whole thing because of that, just tell them what s/he shouldn’t repeat in the next take and get ready for a next take.

Re-takes again is a pain, most of the time they are shaken when you tell them you going to need another take, some of them get so nervous that the following takes will become a series of disasters. Keep them interested, keep them motivated, keep them cheerful and never make them realize their last take was pathetic. Long shooting hours are again a pain while working with kids, there were a couple of late night shoots, which were painful for both, us as well as the kids.

But at the end of the day its real fun and trust me the kids will teach you a lot of things which they never teach you in Film Schools. Then there are fringe benefits- listening to their (nonsense) stories, (horribly boring) jokes and have lots of fun playing with them to keep them occupied and interested.

Confession - I distinctly remember this Sardar ji kid from Delhi who was all of 5 but gave me a lecture on SMS driven contests and how we channel-wallahs rob the viewers with such contests (he himself was a contest winner). I asked him who taught him all that, my guess was right; it was his father the Senior Surd, who was also present on the sets. I made sure the production guys kept him away, while I was shooting with his son.(the excuse I made was- kids get conscious with their parents around, the actual reason- I wanted to settle scores with the guy who is bhadkaao-ing his innocent son to not to send SMSes, come on Channel Kamayega Nahin Toh…Meri Salary Kahaan Se Aayegi…huh).

Anyway I wanted to talk about something else (rather than sharing my silly stories).

While seeing all these films I realized not every director can direct kids, but the ones who have done it and done it tastefully are actually the best of the lot. It’s not about the abilities of the director but his/her sensibilities and understanding which are put on a test while doing such films. Think about the best films with kids and their directors-

Steven Spielberg and the way he directs kids is simply brilliant, E.T., Close Encounters of The Third Kind, Jurassic Park Trilogy, A.I. and many other films where even if kids are not the central character Spielberg captures them so wonderfully that his films simply become study material.

Gulzar Sahab and his films like Parichay and Kitaab. He is the man who can write Chaddi Pehen Ke Phool Khila Hai and Dil Dhoondhta Hai Phir Wahi Fursat Ke Raat Din with the same ease.

Majid Majidi - Children of heaven, Color Of Paradise and many others.

Shekhar Kapur – The way he directed kids in Maasoom, Mr.India & Bandit Queen.

Vishal Bharadwaj - Makdee and Blue Umbrella.

Nagesh Kukunoor - Rockford.

Last but not the least Aamir - Taare Zameen Par.

I strongly feel, the way these film makers have depicted a child’s story in an adult world and have achieved it so wonderfully that it is worth studying and learning. Their understanding of kids psyche is marvelous, which proves their mastery when it comes to understand and picturise human psyche. These are the things, which make them better and greater film makers even when they are not working with kids or working on a subject which sometimes can be inappropriate for kids…

I saw glimpses of Slumdog Millionaire and was amazed to see the way Danny Boyle has used the kids in his film. The stunts, the chase, the acting...everything is just superb...waiting eagerly for it's release in India...

(Wanna write more will continue some other time...may be)

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Moody Slums & Gotham : The Music of Rahman and Hans Zimmer

Viplav, a very young and talented friend visited me last week and we had long discussions on films, and that's when this debate started on what he calls - 'A.R.Rahman Vs. Hans Zimmer & James Newton Howard'. I strongly felt Hans(with Howard)'s score for The Dark Knight is a better contender for any Award this year than the fabulous score created by Rahman for Slumdog.

I have been listening to all the tracks of both the films for a longtime (TDK's score for more than 5-6 months and Slumdog's OST for more than a month by now).

Slumdog's OST is something I really find truly amazing, one of the bestest A.R.Rahman Album in a longtime. Instrumental Themes - esp. Riots, Latika's Theme, Paper Planes, Liquid Dance (which reminds me of the Spirit of Rangeela in a way) are really good. I am yet to see the film so there are chances I will start liking the tracks even more after I have seen them in the film.

Dark Knight OST is something which I have been playing in rotation for past 6 months (almost) and I am hooked to it. I don't forget to play it whenever I am reading something (currently Angels and Demons, a co-incidence- Hans is also composing the background score for the movie based on the novel) and the moody tracks gel with anything se well, that it feels like a universal background score which can set up the mood for almost anything.

Currently as I said it's The Dan Brown Novel and with TDK tracks, the story plays smoothly like a film in my imagination with words and music flowing together in harmony and create some amazing visuals in this otherwise idle mind of mine. I listen to the tracks otherwise too and find them truly compelling, it was a great learning experience going through the documentary - The Sound of Anarchy which shows Hans working on the OST of TDK, which makes one understand what does it take to create a music which can set the mood and make the visuals even more compelling.

We had a long debate on Sunday whether Rehman should win this years Golden Globe or not. Monday morning I was shocked to see a delighted Viplav up early in the morning (which was a rare sight) -


"Woww..." I said and felt proud being an Indian, but somewhere deep inside I felt bad for The Dark Knight Team. What a score, but its ok as long as Ghar Ka Ladka Rahman wins.

Viplav's Facebook status reads - 'It's A.R.Rahman Vs. Hans Zimmer' for past one week.

Well my opinion differs here again...there is no 'Versus' here. Both the maestroes are so humble that it looks like they aren't even bothered about it.

I was going thru a recent Rahman interview where he tells about his meeting with this big composer from Hollywood - Hans Zimmer and I find another news where Zimmer says Rahman's tracks are really beautiful. I feel both of them share something more than music and awards, both are too talented and humble.
Personally speaking, I am a bigger fan of Hans's music and its well justified looking at the range of his music - from Epic Films like Gladiator, King Arthur, to fantasy classics like- The Dark Knight, Batman Begins, Pirates Of The Carribean trilogy, The Last Samurai and animated classics like - Lion King, Prince Of Egypt, Madagascar 1 & 2, The Simpson's Movie and Kung Fu Panda et al. (his scores for Thelma and Louise and The Da Vinci Code are my personal fav. too).

IMHO I find Mr.Zimmer's music unparalleled and truly fascinating so it came as a surprize to me when Viplav forwarded me the link with the news - Academy decides Dark Knight Score not eligible for Oscars, and I was like - "WHATT??Are You Serious??"

The news reads - The Academy committee has decided that the score for The Dark Knight will not be eligible for an Oscar. The committee plans to tell composers Hans Zimmer and James Newton that their score for the movie will be disqualified because too many other people were also listed as composers (three other composers are also credited). The Academy only allows scores where over 70% can be credited to the main two principles. The Academy was given a signed letter by everyone involved with the score that Zimmer and Newton were responsible for over 70% of the score, but the Academy decided not to allow it anyway.

This isn't the first time Hans & Howards are disqualified by the Academy. It happened to them in 2005 also, when they were disqualified on the same grounds for their previous collaboration on Batman Begins.

By the time I wrote these lines thankfully The Academy reversed itself on The Dark Knight Score - here is the News -

After banning The Dark Knight’s musical score from the Oscars, the Academy of Motion Picture’s music branch committee reversed its ruling today, now making the film eligible to win an Oscar for best original score. It was originally said that the cue sheets had five composers, but after reviewing the paperwork they were informed that only two composers, Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard, were being credited for the work.

The Academy stated that the nomination ballots have not been mailed out to its members yet, so the addition of The Dark Knight will not have an affect on the voting.

The Indian in me will celebrate if Rahman wins and the Fanboy in me will rejoice if Hans & team wins. All I can say now is (lines from a Rahman song) - Sach Aur Saahas Hai Jiske Mann Mein Ant Mein Jeet Usi Ki Rahey.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Quick Update: 9th January

First of all A BIG THANK YOU to all of you who went thru my Photolog - The 1st Day Of New Year (Show Off as one of my friend called it) and commented there...
I am feeling more energectic and looking forward to jamao my DVD Collection soon (hopefully before the 1st Day of 2010) and if my sis is kind enough to click some pics will post them here for sure (Sadistic Pleasure of showing off)...

But before doing all that there are too many other things I wanted to write about here...sadly time schedule isn't allowing me to do so and following my own self-discipline resolution I am keeping away from internet. There was this post which I wanted to post right after the Books Arrangement Post (It was a brief account of what year 2008 was to me) has become total obsolete...It is still incomplete...

One more quick update - I have turned my Bollywoodland Blog into a 100% Hindi Blog- यायावर की फिल्मी बातें , this new year and though I was away from the internet I managed to update it twice this week (older posts are still in English but all the latest posts will be in Hindi now on) I am enjoying writing in Hindi after a longtime...एंड आई लव राइटिंग ऑन...I mean...and I love writing on (and about) Bollywood, so when you wanna read my bollywood bakwaas you know where to find it...The blog will have regular entries on regional films and music too...

Links I am loving and visiting these days are :

Creative Screenwriting Magazine and it's Podcasts which can be downloaded for free and you can listen to some in depth conversation with script writers like Andrew Stanton (Finding Nemo/Wall-E), Jonathan Nolan (Dark Knight, Batman Begins etc) there. (Vidooshak was complaining about The Dark Knight DVD, which doesn't have Director's Commentary, dude go through the J.Nolan Podcast, its really awesome (approx.40 mins long) though it wont make up for the director's commentary we all were looking forward to but still...its not bad at all...

Baba Jain's Blog which has some brilliant advices for everybody who wants to start Financial Planning (like me).

Indian Temples and Iconography
a wonderful blog with some brilliant info on Indian Temples and Iconography (one of my most fav. subjects).

And then there are too many wonderful blogs...literally too many to list here...

Keep visiting...keep commenting...I'll catch up with you all soon...


Monday, January 5, 2009

Random Thoughts: on The 2nd day of 2009

It was really great to see most of you guys responding to my last post which was in Devbhasha. I just wanted to write something on the last day of 2008... there were some vague thoughts..I wanted to say a lot but was unable to express myself properly so I decided to express myself in Hindi. (I always find it really comfortable talking/writing in Hindi, which is my mother tongue and was a 100% Vishuddha Hindi Reader/Writer till I moved to Bangalore in 2004.)

Learning correct English was (and still is) a difficult task for me, I had to push (and am still pushing) myself a lot to learn to express myself in correct English (I still make stupid grammatical mistakes in my posts, most of you must be aware of it) and this blog was actually started as an attempt to write more in English and learn from the silly mistakes I make while writing (some of my friends not only read almost all the blog posts but also tell me whenever and wherever my English goes awfully awry).

Anyway learning from past mistakes and move on – Jeena Isi Kaa Naam Hai! I don’t know if I am actually learning anything or not but I am trying to learn- new things, new words, new usages everyday. Some of you blog-buddies are also instrumental in my learning as I read and try to learn a lot from your beautiful posts – Thanks Guys!!

Wish to learn more this new year...

असतो मा सद्गमय,

तमसो मा ज्योतिर्गमय

मृत्योर्मा अमृतंगमय .

PS. This post was written on 3rd day of January, wasn't able to post it till now, two more posts are yet to be completed, will post them soon.

Next: A photo blogpost on how I spent 1st of January 2009। Keep visiting, keep commenting.

Edit: The Photo Blog was started on 2nd of Jan. so it's showing just below this post...dated 2nd Jan. :) wish we could do such things in life..start something on a date and after completion it would show getting completed on the same day it was started...

Friday, January 2, 2009

The 1st Day of New Year

Being a compulsive procrastinator, I love to postpone things till deadlines are breathing down my neck. But if the work isn’t a professional obligation then it can wait till eternity. I had been dillydallying a lot of things like arranging and cataloging my books for past 6 months and there was this story (of many other stories) I had been thinking for more than a year, but the idea was yet to be written down. I am an old believer of - Better late then never. In other words I love to be late.

I was so late this time that the year ended by the time I could start some of the pending work.

So as soon as they started showing a countdown clock on TV and fireworks started making sky look beautiful and atmosphere polluted, I locked myself in my room and started writing the story idea on my note pad...I wrote till late night and when I stopped I had a basic story and the concept note ready (I am yet to work on the event flow and a proper script, though some events and story moments are crystal clear in my mind but I am yet to write them and work on various ways of approaching them).

Finally I was able to see a lot more happening in the story which was a vague idea till few hours ago. I could sleep now...

The next morning I don't know how or why but I was up early in the morning. Mom had a pleasant shock when she entered my room with her diya-batti and found me awake. (Even I was surprized!)

"U you have a meeting in the office..." she asked. (She usually wakes me up whenever I have an early morning meeting in office).

"Well..we have an off today.." I smiled..."..Magar Kaafi Kaam Poora Karna woke up early..."

(I really enjoyed her reactions)

Had a quick breakfast and decided to arrange my books. Neha (my sis) not only helped me in doing this but also was kind enough to click some pics of the whole mission.

Have a look :

When Parsaai ji Met Pran and Shailendra Met Doga

Prized Possession - Batman: Black & White - Single Issues...

My Preciousss

The Tower

Yeh Toh Two Much Ho Gaya...Need a break!!

Back after a break

Aayi Cataloging Ki Baari

Help Me Help Me Help Me Ohh God!

Cataloging done...!!

The Arranged Bookshelf

PS. I felt really good and wasted 3-4 days in this 'feel good' mood. I am yet to write down couple of story ideas which I have been discussing with many friends but procrastinating for more than a year by now...will start working on them soon...very soon...

Do let me know how was your 1st day of 2009?

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