Episode Archives

Ep 9- Kal Ho Naa Ho- Khandaan Podcast

Welcome to Episode 9 of the Khandaan Podcast, where we turn our eagle eyes toward Kal Ho Na Ho (2003), starring Shah Rukh Khan at the height of his stardom. Commonly believed to be a remake of Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s weepie Anand (1971), starring Rajesh Khanna at the height of his stardom, KHNH is a souped-up melodrama best remembered nostalgically than rewatched in the present according to podcast consensus.

This week we are joined by guest host and writer/journalist Anisha Jhaveri as Sujoy continues to chase success as influencer to the sundar, susheel, and thodi special. Asim, Amrita and Anisha initially approached KHNH with eagerness, especially since it beat out Tere Naam, an excruciating Salman Khan remake of an excruciating South Indian film, but their joy soon turned to ashes as they were forced to confront that their nostalgia was misplaced and this movie was basically a sporadically funny, racist, homophobic mess with extremely unfortunate costume design.

We recommend you read Molly Ringwald’s excellent essay on dealing with problematic faves in retrospect after listening to this episode.

Episode 9 also includes a short discussion of the short-lived Salman Khan sentencing saga and Asim’s inability to properly understand the visual appeal of SRK walking around aimlessly while dressed in white linen.

Note: The Khandaan podcast is an interactive experience! Please click below to vote for the next movie you think we should feature.

Our awesome theme song was created by mash up king Dj Shai Guy!

Follow him on Bombay Funkadelic Facebook page or twitter so you can attend his unforgettable Bollywood parties all around the UK as well as his awesome mash up mixes that are regularly featured on BBC Asia.

Ep 8- Chandramukhi – Khandaan Podcast

Episode 8 of the Khandaan Podcast features Chandramukhi (1993), starring Sridevi as a celestial being and Salman Khan as her child lover. An uncomfortable mish-mash of Tom Hanks’ Big by way of Telugu blockbuster Jagadeka Veerudu Athiloka Sundari, starring Chiranjeevi and Sridevi, this little viewed film was a disaster at the box office – surprising none of us.

This week we are joined by guest host Tanvi from the MovieWalaPod in the absence of Sujoy, who is off launching a new career as Instagram model. Asim, Amrita and Tanvi all agreed that this was hands down the worst movie they have had to watch for a podcast, featuring: graphic child abuse, a pedophiliac alien, ALL the bad guys, and incredibly shoddy production values. We also discuss other movies that released the same year, notably Darr, and Asim requested an anthropology lesson regarding the finer techniques of dancing for Shiva, thereby exposing Tanvi and Amrita as Bad Indians. Thanks, Asim.

For a more appreciative review of Chandramukhi’s nonexistent charms, we recommend Beth Watkins’ much more patient article. In the meantime, Asim would like you to know this is not Chand ka Tukda, the other Sridevi-Salman starrer with much better music.

You can listen/stream/download the episode below.

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Note: The Khandaan podcast is an interactive experience! Please click below to vote for the next movie you think we should feature.

Our awesome theme song was created by mash up king Dj Shai Guy!

Follow him on Bombay Funkadelic Facebook page or twitter so you can attend his unforgettable Bollywood parties all around the UK as well as his awesome mash up mixes that are regularly featured on BBC Asia.

 

Ep 235: “Making Bollywood replica’s won’t get us anywhere!” Asim Abbasi talks Cake

We catch up with Asim Abassi director of the Pakistani film Cake releasing in UK theaters on the 29th of March.
Asim talks to Asim if there is an actual revival of Pakistani cinema, claiming a cinematic identity and “gola-ganda” cinematography.

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Here is the trailer for Cake:


Our awesome theme song was created by mash up king Dj Shai Guy!

Follow him on Bombay Funkadelic Facebook page or twitter so you can attend his unforgettable Bollywood parties all around the UK as well as his awesome mash up mixes that are regularly featured on BBC Asia.

Ep 7- Paheli – Khandaan Podcast

Episode 7 of the Khandaan Podcast finds co-hosts Asim, Sujoy and Amrita reunited to discuss Paheli (2005), starring Shahrukh Khan in a double role, Rani Mukherjee and a whole host of cameos from Juhi Chawla to Amitabh Bachchan.

This Red Chillies Entertainment film was directed by Amol Palekar, the everyman of yesteryears’ parallel Hindi cinema, and was even India’s official entry to the Oscars for its year. Based on a short story about a bride and the ghost who loves her, Paheli made a lot of right noises about women’s empowerment and the right to choose. More than a decade on, we examine how those messages hold up.

Sujoy declares Paheli the best film we have watched on this podcast thus far, while many of our listeners call it their favorite film, but Asim and Amrita play spoilsport.

We also take a moment to discuss the passing of cinema legend Sridevi and the recent Bollywood release, the rather controversial hit Sonu ke Titu ki Sweety.

Note: The Khandaan podcast is an interactive experience! Please click below to vote for the next movie you think we should feature.

Our awesome theme song was created by mash up king Dj Shai Guy!

Follow him on Bombay Funkadelic Facebook page or twitter so you can attend his unforgettable Bollywood parties all around the UK as well as his awesome mash up mixes that are regularly featured on BBC Asia.

You can listen/stream/download the episode below.

Or you can subscribe to our iTunes page and never miss a show

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Ep 6 – Talaash – Khandaan Podcast

Episode 6 of the Khandaan Podcast finds co-hosts Sujoy and Amrita missing Asim, who is off doing other things just as we’re handed an opportunity to discuss Talaash (2012), starring Asim’s fave (or so he says) Aamir Khan. However, to make up for the disappointment, we’re joined by our special guest star Beth from BethLovesBollywood!

Although we’d all seen this film upon its release, this was our first rewatch and there were a lot of things here to surprise us. None of us remembered Rajkumar Rao also starred in this film, Amrita was taken aback by how beautiful Rani Mukherjee looks (watch out for Sujoy listing a looong list of movies in which Rani looked amazing), and Beth agreed that Shahrukh Khan (who was also approached for the role played by Aamir) wouldn’t have worked nearly so well for very particular reasons. We disagreed a bit on Kareena Kapoor’s performance, discussed the male-female dynamics, and loved hard on the soundtrack. We also took a quick minute to appreciate director Reema Kagti’s work – of which you can see more in the Akshay Kumar starrer, Gold, to be released this year.

2012 was a really great year for Hindi cinema but rather hit-and-miss for the Khans with Jab Tak Hai Jaan, Dabangg 2, and Ek Tha Tiger joining Talaash at the cinema. Sujoy, Beth and Amrita all agree that Talaash was the clear frontrunner in that pack, and a movie for everyone, irrespective of their fan loyalties.

Note: The Khandaan podcast is an interactive experience! Please click below to vote for the next movie you think we should feature.

Our awesome theme song was created by mash up king Dj Shai Guy!

Follow him on Bombay Funkadelic Facebook page or twitter so you can attend his unforgettable Bollywood parties all around the UK as well as his awesome mash up mixes that are regularly featured on BBC Asia.

You can listen/stream/download the episode below.

Or you can subscribe to our iTunes page and never miss a show

We would love it if you can rate or write us a small review on iTunes! Just click here.

Ep 5- Chori Chori Chupke Chupke Review and Padmaavat Discussion

Episode 5 of the Khandaan Podcast finds co-hosts Asim, Sujoy, and Amrita discussing the first film voted to screen by their audience – 2001’s Salman Khan-starrer, Chori Chori Chupke Chupke (CCCC).

First, however, we make a short foray into current cinema with Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s extremely controversial Padmaavat, starring Deepika Padukone, Shahid Kapoor, and Ranveer Singh. We discuss the fan politics surrounding the film as well as the merits of the film itself. (Please excuse the sound of the occasional firework in between – Amrita’s neighbors were very excited about India becoming a republic.)

Going back to our Khandaan business, however, 2001 was a significant year for Hindi cinema. It saw the release of Farhan Akhtar’s debut directorial Dil Chahta Hai, featuring Aamir Khan, a seminal road trip movie that is often credited with changing the very language of modern Bollywood by employing an everyday conversational style. Karan Johar, whose multi-starrer behemoth Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham (K3G), featuring Shahrukh Khan, released to massive box office success later that year, has famously said that he knew his movie was outdated the moment DCH released.

This was also the year Aamir guided Lagaan to the Oscars, India’s first nomination in the Best Foreign Film category in decades, laying the foundation for his reputation as the great savior of good Hindi cinema. A nearly four-hour period drama about weather conditions, taxes, and cricket, Lagaan was a sensation when it released but isn’t much referenced today within the modern Hindi cinematic ethos unlike DCH and K3G, which each left an enduring impact on desi pop culture for very different reasons.

Shahrukh also had two other releases that year – Asoka, the directorial debut of ace cinematographer Santosh Sivan, was a gorgeous-looking period drama about the eponymous emperor that tanked at the box office before becoming appointment TV in its serialized form; and the washout One 2 ka 4, a rare movie that features SRK as a cop.

The fact that CCCC, a subpar family drama about a rich couple who hire a hooker to carry their baby, was able to win the vote against such a stellar field of choices is a testament to Salman’s star power – and we discuss the issues that arise when a celebrity wields such power. Made at the height of Salman’s personal problems, which would shortly include a murder charge, CCCC was also a troubled production, allegedly made with mafia money.

Belying the nostalgia of several friends of this podcast, CCCC is also deeply problematic, dealing with supposedly progressive ideas in the most regressive way possible. Rani Mukherjee is horrendously dressed and is the catalyst for the main plot of the film, which is bizarre and offensive. Preity Zinta is effervescent and charming – and completely wasted as a hooker with a heart of gold and a fertile uterus. The supporting cast includes an OTT Amrish Puri as a (male) baby-obsessed grandfather, Farida Jalal as a (male) baby-obsessed mother-in-law, Dalip Tahil as a dad who just wants to get his son out of the country for some reason, Johnny Lever as Random Family-Adjacent Dude who sticks his nose where it doesn’t belong, and Prem Chopra as a doctor willing to break every single professional ethic for the sake of friendship. Salman appears medicated.

We did not enjoy this movie but please do listen and laugh at our pain.

Note: The Khandaan podcast is an interactive experience! Please click below to vote for the next movie you think we should feature.

Podcast notes:

We refer to Sal Salam‘s excellent essay on BollyBrit which you can find here

Our awesome theme song was created by mash up king Dj Shai Guy!

Follow him on Bombay Funkadelic Facebook page or twitter so you can attend his unforgettable Bollywood parties all around the UK as well as his awesome mash up mixes that are regularly featured on BBC Asia.

You can listen/stream/download the episode below.

Or you can subscribe to our iTunes page and never miss a show

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Ep 4- Deewana – Khandaan Podcast

Asim, Sujoy, and Amrita, co-hosts of the Khandaan podcast, wrap up their re-watch of the Khan-debuts with Deewana. This 1992 blockbuster is the movie we chose as Shahrukh Khan’s debut feature despite his earlier appearance as a supporting character in the artsy In Which Annie Gives It To Those Ones (1989) and his official debut as a lead in Hema Malini’s Dil Aashna Hai, which released later in 1992.

Shahrukh is an electrifying presence in this movie, waking up the audience from its Rishi Kapoor-induced stupor when he makes his appearance in the second half, riding a motorcycle through the streets of Bombay, singing “Koi na koi chahiye…” 1992 was a banner year for SRK – in the history of Hindi cinema, nobody has ever had a debut like him. Signed on to five films (Dil Aashna Hai, Deewana, Raju Ban Gaya Gentleman, Chamatkar, and Idiot) on the strength of his popular TV presence, SRK cartwheeled on to the scene with a brash energy and a willingness to upend everything in sight, immediately rendering everything and everyone before him slightly dated and old-fashioned. This is particularly evident in his scenes with Rishi Kapoor where the two of them appear to be acting in two different movies.

Asim, Sujoy and Amrita agree that Deewana is quite the worst film out of the three Khan debuts. If the second half of the movie features SRK laying the foundations of his obsessed creep/lover persona, the first half of the movie is interminable and stars Rishi Kapoor as a schlubby pop star who gets faux-murdered for his inheritance after successfully wooing the leading lady who looks young enough to be his child. Said lead is Divya Bharati, whose remarkable career in Hindi cinema spanned roughly 18 months during which time she starred in 14 films – an unbroken record to this date. Her tragic death under suspicious circumstances a year after the release of this movie is perhaps one of the only reasons to re-watch this film unless you’re a SRK completist.

Deewana also has the weakest soundtrack of the three debuts but it scores highly on nostalgia. Sujoy was the only one with strong opinions – he’s a big fan of the Rishi Kapoor number, “Sochenge tumhe pyaar“.

Have a listen and let us know if you agree that when it comes to Bollywood, nothing matters but the Khandaan.

Note: The Khandaan podcast is an interactive experience! Please click below to vote for the movie you think we should feature in our first official episode.

Final Week to make a vote!

Deadline is 17th January!

Our awesome theme song was created by mash up king Dj Shai Guy!

Follow him on Bombay Funkadelic Facebook page or twitter so you can attend his unforgettable Bollywood parties all around the UK as well as his awesome mash up mixes that are regularly featured on BBC Asia.

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Ep 3- Maine Pyaar Kiya – Khandaan Podcast

Asim, Sujoy, and Amrita, co-hosts of the Khandaan podcast, continue their Khan-journey with Maine Pyaar Kiya (MPK). This 1989 blockbuster romance is the movie we chose as Salman Khan’s debut feature despite his earlier ill-starred appearance as a supporting character in the Rekha-starrer Biwi Ho To Aisi (1988). (To read more about that experience as well as other fascinating bits of Salman’s history, we recommend this in-depth profile by Anna Vetticad.)

Directed by Sooraj Barjatya, one of the men who helped invent Bollywood as we know it today by inspiring seminal Bollywood filmmakers Aditya Chopra and Karan Johar, MPK is an all-out effort at portraying a young, modern love. In an ironic twist, the themes Barjatya establishes in this movie would soon be transformed into a template for conservative, even regressive, family-oriented “clean romance” in the popular imagination by the time it was remade as Hum Aapke Hain Kaun…! or the execrable Hum Saath Saath Hain.

The co-hosts agree that despite its dated appearance and quaint 1980s-ness, MPK is the best made film out of the three Khan debuts. Fueled by his determination to succeed, the Salman we meet in this film is a bundle of energy albeit with the same trademark mannerisms and sly charm we associate with him today. Bhagyashree, whose cinematic career ended with her marriage to a possessive husband, has a raw charm to her that vibes very well with Salman’s Dennis the Menace persona. Also evident in this film are the characters we know from all the subsequent Barjatya films – the understanding mother, the busy father, the father’s best friend, the servants who are as good as family members, the outsiders masquerading as friends but who only exist to destroy the family’s happiness…

MPK’s soundtrack was a sensation when it released with funky sounds, a modern feel, and soaring ballads that are still popular today. Few in the audience at the time realized just how “inspired” it was, however; in 2017, while re-watching the film, Asim’s wife wanted to know why he was listening to so much Stevie Wonder out of the blue.

Have a listen and let us know if you agree that when it comes to Bollywood, nothing matters but the Khandaan.

Our awesome theme song was created by mash up king Dj Shai Guy!

Follow him on Bombay Funkadelic Facebook page or twitter so you can attend his unforgettable Bollywood parties all around the UK as well as his awesome mash up mixes that are regularly featured on BBC Asia.

Note: We did have some audio issues in this episode for the first ten minutes but it’s smooth sailing after that.

You can listen/stream/download the episode below.

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Ep 2- Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak – Khandaan Podcast

Asim, Sujoy, and Amrita, co-hosts of the Khandaan podcast, begin their foray into all things Khan-related with Qayamat se Qayamat Tak (QSQT). Almost a relic of another era, this 1988 romance is the movie we chose as Aamir Khan’s debut feature despite his earlier appearances as a child star as well as his lead performance in the faux-art film Holi (1984).

Very little of Aamir as we know him today is seen in the fresh-faced hero of QSQT with his impish grin and shy glances at a delightfully effervescent Juhi Chawla (also making her debut). Directed by his cousin, Mansoor Khan, QSQT shows the youth of all those involved in the making of this film – in its tenderness, earnestness, conviction, and behind-the-scenes effort they put into crafting this the biggest success they could possibly imagine.

While neither Asim, Sujoy nor Amrita were old enough to be the target audience of this film (ahem! We are mere babies), we do have some memories of what a cultural phenomenon this movie became. It’s Romeo and Juliet undertones, the weird emphasis on caste, and the fact that the adults in this movie appear to be acting in a world far removed from the one inhabited by the sweet young love of its leads should make it a difficult watch but good filmmaking survives the years even when the material appears dated. QSQT remains a testament to Mansoor Khan’s talent.

It is also buoyed by one of the best soundtracks in Hindi cinema history, with beautiful hummable tunes by ace duo Anand Milind, one of the last of its kind. Maine Pyaar Kiya would soon replace it and surpass it in audience affection, but of all three debuts, QSQT’s is the soundtrack that has survived the test of time.

Have a listen and let us know if you agree that when it comes to Bollywood, nothing matters but the Khandaan.

Note: The Khandaan podcast is an interactive experience! Please click here to vote for our first official episode.

Our awesome theme song was created by mash up king Dj Shai Guy!

Follow him on Bombay Funkadelic Facebook page or twitter so you can attend his unforgettable Bollywood parties all around the UK as well as his awesome mash up mixes that are regularly featured on BBC Asia.

You can listen/stream/download the episode below.

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Ep 1- What is the Khandaan Podcast?

Can one really overstate the Khan effect on Bollywood these past 25 years? Asim, Sujoy, and Amrita, co-hosts of the Khandaan podcast, don’t think so. The movies of Aamir, Salman, and Shahrukh are significant threads forming the rich cinematic tapestry that adorns the background of the lives of generations of South Asians – we sang their songs, mimicked their dance moves, and copied their wardrobe; we meme their blockbusters, obsess over their private lives, and giggle helplessly just remembering bits of their dialogue. There have been other hugely influential Khans in the industry but over the past quarter century, there’s been nobody like these three.

In their own ways, each of these men have changed the course of their industry. Aamir has evolved over the years into the Bollywood patriarch who invests in wholesome movies with a message; Salman is the boisterous life of the party who promises his audience as good a time as he can manage every single time; and Shahrukh is the risk-taking middle class boy whose reach extends beyond cinema and the desi diaspora. As we launch this project in late 2017, however, it remains to be seen how far their momentum can carry them.

Born in the same year, the Khan trio are now in their 50s even if they don’t always act like it. They are the first generation of Hindi cinema stars to have achieved such longevity as leading actors. After nearly 30 years on top, with younger actors jostling for space in this new iteration of the Hindi film industry that the Khans built with their favorite collaborators, one wonders if the Age of the Bollywood Khan is slowly coming to a close.

Thus, the Khandaan podcast – a timely retrospective of Khan work through the years.

We begin with episodes focused on the debut features of the three Khans – Qayamat se Qayamat Tak (1988) for Aamir Khan; Maine Pyaar Kiya (1989) for Salman Khan; and Deewana (1992) for Shahrukh Khan. Technically, of course, Aamir can be seen as a child actor in the films of his uncle, ace director Nasir Hussain, as well as his father and made his adult debut in Holi (1984) opposite Madhuri Dixit, ironically playing the type of obsessive creep that would be made iconic by Shahrukh a few years later. Similarly, Salman’s first foray into Hindi cinema was in the Rekha-starrer Biwi Ho To Aisi (1988) where the director hated his work (and specifically him) so much he had his voice dubbed. Meanwhile, Shahrukh was an extremely popular television actor who’d made his debut in the cult made-for-TV art film In Which Annie Gives it to Those Ones (1989) and his intended Hindi cinema launch was Hema Malini’s Dil Aashna Hai (1992) where he played the solo lead. However, we chose the movies that we considered as having officially launched the three into the arms of their adoring public.

Have a listen and let us know if you agree that when it comes to Bollywood, nothing matters but the Khandaan.

Note: The Khandaan podcast is an interactive experience! Please click here to vote for our first official episode.

Our awesome theme song was created by mash up king Dj Shai Guy!

Follow him on Bombay Funkadelic Facebook page or twitter so you can attend his unforgettable Bollywood parties all around the UK as well as his awesome mash up mixes that are regularly featured on BBC Asia.

You can listen/stream/download the episode below.

Or you can subscribe to our iTunes page and never miss a show

We would love it if you can rate or write us a small review on iTunes! Just click here.

Ep 234: “Parts like these aren’t written for women in India” – Richa Chadha talks Fukrey Returns

This week’s episode is filled with tons of goodies!

We speak to the amazingly talented Richa Chadha about Fukrey Returns which is the Hindi theater release from last Friday.

I do keep mistakenly calling the movie “Fukrey two” which is not the name of the movie- my bad!

We talk about:

  • Shooting and fun on set
  • Lady Gaga
  • Leveraging Indie success to the mainstream
  • Why Bholi Punjaban is angry?
  • When to speak against social injustice

We also have a sneak peak of our new podcast series “The Khandaan Podcast” before the show, have a listen so you know what the fuss is all about.

Keep an eye out on our social media feeds so you are all caught up on when the new show drops.

Of course if you subscribe below in our iTunes feed, you definitely wont miss it.

We also have an amazing new theme song, created by mash up king Dj Shai Guy!

Follow him on Bombay Funkadelic Facebook page or twitter so you can attend his unforgettable Bollywood parties all around the UK as well as his awesome mash up mixes that are regularly featured on BBC Asia.

Fukrey Returns is currently playing in theaters!

You can listen/stream/download the episode below.

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We would love it if you can rate or write us a small review on iTunes! Just click here.

Ep 233: “Insomnia is my obsessed lover” – Mahira Khan Talks Verna

This episode we speak to the luminescent Mahira Khan about her movie releasing in theaters today, Verna.

We recorded the interview last week, before the controversy surrounding the release became big news, but glad to hear everything seems to be sorted out and people can go out and watch the movie everywhere.

Mahira talks about:

  • International fame and fandom
  • How to promote a movie with impactful themes
  • Adapting a global message to a local audience
  • A rumor she doesn’t mind spreading…

Verna is playing in theaters from today!

You can listen/stream/download the episode below.

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Ep 232 Blade Runner 2049 Review

Denis Villeneuve has made enough better than decent films for Upod to give him his own episode, but what better opportunity than Blade Runner 2049 to get the ball rolling?!

Much has been made of the original and its many iterations and influence, so with 2017’s extension, we weigh in on:

Ryan Gosling and his acting
Harrison Ford’s presence
Oh my God this movie looks immense!
What’s with the run time?
What’s happening when critics can’t get enough of this movie but it’s lagging at the box office?!

You can find Shah Shahid‘s Blade Runner review on his blog by going here.

If you want to hear Asim talk more Bollywood, you can check out the Judwaa 2 Review on Bollywood is for Lovers by going here.

You can listen/stream/download the episode below.

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Ep 231 My Pure Land Review

British-Pakistani director Sarmad Masud’s t MY PURE LAND is this week’s Upodcast Review and it was also announced as Britain’s selection for submission to the Academy Award® in the category of Foreign Language Film .

Based on true events, My Pure Land has been described as a Pakistani western, to break it down for our lovely listener we are joined by Omar Ahmed (@Bressonian) who is a film teacher, PHD Researcher and currently curating the film festival Not Just Bollywood in Manchester

With quite a lot going on with the film, Upod will break down for you:
The photography / cinematography
The patriarchal society & corruption
Some fine performances
Hopes for the debut director
Its narrative structure & how the story plays out

We talk about the previous short movie 2 Dosas in the show which you can find here.

You can listen/stream/download the episode below.

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We would love it if you can rate or write us a small review on iTunes! Just click here.

 

Dennis Skinner: nature of the beast // A portrait of one of the UK’s most respected (and feared) MPs

Poster Portrait_Dennis Skinner Nature of the BeastAt a time when trust in politicians, in pretty much all countries is eroding to the point it may never return in a meaningful sense, it is refreshing to say the least, to be made aware of how politicians can and still serve the public good. What a fascinating life Dennis Skinner has led. And we are shown this life, through library footage of and interviews with not just the man himself, but his younger brothers (there are 5 in total) and those who’ve had the chance to meet him as constituents.

Unashamedly socialist, the “Beast of Bolsover” was raised in a political household – politics morning, noon and night – and in a typically working class environ; outside toilet, no hot running water, barely two pennies to rub together. Such was the extent of the poverty when growing up, he knew by age 4 or 5 that Santa didn’t exist; and not because he was told, but because he knew there wasn’t any money to buy the presents for Father Christmas to deliver.

The first part of the film is pretty much run of the mill, but really hits its stride in the last hour, where we leave his childhood behind and get to learn about his rise through politics to being elected MP for Bolsover. A fierce reputation gained at local council level, Denis Skinner then made the inevitable move to Westminster, representing the Labour Party in the constituency of Bolsover, where’s he’s been incumbent since 1971. Notable in a long list of achievements, his defeat of a ruinous Housing Bill, using the parliamentary tricks of the trade and confounding those who sought to push the bill through.

However what I took most away from this was more his steadfast belief in the good that socialism can bring to a postmodern, post-industrial world and doggedly sticking to his guns. One look at either series of House of Cards tells us that one’s own ideals are easily and readily compromised in the political sphere – neatly summed-up with the word of “patronage”. Consequently, he never took a ministerial position in a Labour government, despite being offered, and preferred to serve his constituents.  As much as I love his refusal to back down and his frankly hilarious “trolling” of the Queen, it’s his pride in representing the working class that will remain with me most.

I think, in conclusion, that there are two ways we can appreciate such a man and such a documentary. We can despair at how someone’s motivations, persona and ideals in fact don’t earn them the higher profile roles and in fact, only serve to reduce their public profile, in the case of TV appearances. Or, we can admire someone’s stand and gumption, their fighting a cause they believe in and being incorruptible in this pursuit.

Nature of the Beast is released September 8th and the trailer is below – do check it out!

https://www.dennisskinnerfilm.co.uk

EP 230: “Woman Need to be their Own Heroes” Taapsee Pannu Talks Naam Shabana

This is one from the secret Upodcast vault!

We spoke with the wonderful Taapsee Pannu during the release of Naam Shabana but never managed to post the episode.

Since we talk a little about Judwaa 2 and the release is around the corner, what better time to than now to put our conversation up!

In this episode we talk about:

  • How many other Taapsee’s Taapsee knows?
  • Her career after Baby and Pink
  • How Hindi Cinema has changed for actresses
  • and what her favorite songs from Judwaa is

Naam Shabana is available for home viewing now!

Judwaa 2 releases 29th of September in UK theaters.

You can listen/stream/download the episode below.

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The Vault: a missing John Carpenter

14004_JACKPOT_QUAD_AW.inddWhat a great little (under 90 minutes) movie this is! Is it one of these movies that will herald the rebirth of the long lost & last seen in the 90s, genre movie? I’m not so sure, but it fits the category indeed.

The loose story is a bank job gone wrong, set against the backstory of another bank job, from the same bank, also gone-wrong 30 odd years prior. Support comes from James Branco and Clifton Collins Jr, with the main goings-on and tension between Taryn Manning and Francesca Eastwood. So, without spoilers, what can you expect? Plenty of tension, scares, chills down the spine and a more thoughtful approach to the genre. Things aren’t as simple as a simple horror-heist movie – there are mysterious goings-on and clues along the way, if you can spot them. In hindsight once the reveal has been played-out, I realised what I’d missed and I’d love to watch The Vault again knowing what I now know. I think I’d like it even more.

Things I really liked about this movie are numerous – from its run-time (listeners will be familiar with my rants against 2.5 hour “epics” from the likes of Marvel Studios) through to James Franco’s shy bank manager, keen to get the bank robbers into the basement where the safe containing the most money is and the really creepy ghost-like ghouls with bags over their faces. I also love the fact that despite the short run-time, the audience still gets a good ending, right to the very bitter end and that you’re not asked to be frightened with obvious jump-scares that in time, wear off. It’s a well thought-out and put together movie offering something a bit more thoughtful than a lot of the wider horror genre offers.

If I were being harsh I’d say they could have upped the gore a bit, but there’s enough to go round come the end of an hour and a half, that’s for sure. Will it please die-hard horror fans? Possibly not, but nor will it please out and out heist movie fans either. It is however a great mash of the two genres and pretty original in that regard. Perhaps more than anything, The Vault reminded me of a movie that John Carpenter didn’t make in his hey-day. Praise indeed and worth 4/5.

 

Hotel Salvation (Mukti Bhavan) Upodcast Review

This week’s Upodcast review is for Hotel Salvation (Mukti Bhavan) which came out last year in India, has been cleaning up awards at film festival and now is getting a UK release through the BFI.

We are joined by the always-entertaining Shah Shahid from the Splitscreen Podcast and Blankpage Beatdown.

This episode we talk about:

  • Splitscreen Podcast and some underrated remade gems
  • Thoughtful movies and the struggle to watch them
  • When the talent can be daunting
  • The brilliance of Adil Hussain
  • And more

To check out more of Shah’s work, head over to his site or his podcast.

We also did an interview with Shubashish Bhutiani, the director of Hotel Salvation, which you can find here.

Hotel Salvation is out in selected UK theaters this week.

You can listen/stream/download the episode below.

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Ep 228: “We are all living stories”- Shubhashish Bhutiani Talks Hotel Salvation (Mukti Bhavan)

We spoke to Shubhashish Bhutiani, director of Hotel Salvation (Mukti Bhavan), at the London Indian Film Festival just before his UK festival premier. The movie is releasing this week through the BFI in the UK so it was the perfect time to post this interview.

We talk about:

  • Opening night at LIFF
  • How to get a movie made
  • Traveling the world and the difference in audiences
  • Dealing with envy and privilege

“Hotel Salvation has already won ten Indian and international film awards including Best Film at the 2017 New York Indian Film Festival, and the Prix Enrico Fulchignoni at last year’s Venice Film Festival (an award given by the International Council of Film and Television at UNESCO to the Venice film that best represents the values of peace and human rights.) It is now a strong contender to be India’s Academy Award entry in 2018.

There will be a full review Upodcast of Hotel Salvation later this week, Shah Shahid from The Split Screen Podcast will be joining us!

Until then,

You can listen/stream/download the episode below.

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Ep 227 Bhumi Pednekar talks Toilet Ek Prem Katha with Upodcast

On this week’s episode of Upodcast, we are talking to Bhumi Pednekar who is starring in Toilet Ek Prem Katha with Akshay Kumar, which is releasing in theatres this FRIDAY.

We talk about to Bhumi about:

  • Game of Thrones and her love of the show
  • The issues that Toilet deals with
  • Melding a romantic story with a movie dealing with social issues

Toilet: Ek Prem Katha releases internationally in cinemas on 11th August.

TOILET Ek Prem Katha - PosterYou can listen/stream/download the episode below.

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Ep 226: Neeti Mohan talks AR Rahman’s concert to Upodcast

This week’s episode of Upodcast we talk to the amazingly talented singer Neeti Mohan who is joining AR Rahman on his “Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow” concert at SSE Arena Wembley on Saturday 8th July 2017.

 Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow” marks the first in a global series, celebrating 25 years of the timeless music of AR Rahman and his team, who have crafted and perfected performances that are enriched with high-scale technology and

production. Leading engineers from around the world have been brought on board to present spectacular lighting and visuals as a backdrop to the live sounds of the musical genius, creating a multi-media extravaganza that will provide a once-in-a-lifetime experience for fans and audiences.

AR will be joined onstage by Neeti Mohan as well as other special guests including Benny Dayal, Javed Ali, Haricharan, Jonita Gandhi, Ranjit Barot and many more.

Screen Shot 2017-07-07 at 17.26.35

 

“Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow” Saturday 8th July, SSE Arena, Wembley

Ticket Purchases:

www.ssearena.co.uk/events/detail/ar-rahman

We talk with Neeti Mohan about:

  • Working with a genius
  • How the internet has effected playback singing
  • Surprise at the name of her dog (who provides some back ground vocals to this chat)
  • How she feels about the recent trend of actors/actresses singing
  • The idea of a playback singer being the “voice” of an actor
  • We also follow up on the effects of the Film Companion Roundtable of female singers
  • The songs she doesn’t understand why people keep asking her to sing

For our review of AR Rahman’s previous concert at the O2, head over here.

You can listen/stream/download the episode below.

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We would love it if you can rate or write us a small review on iTunes! Just click here.

 

Bridge: review

The debut feature from Amit Ranjan Biswas, Bridge, draws together a lot of big questions, into a relatively small setting.

Bridge

In summary, a simple story; two strangers, both at the end of their tether, encounter each other on a bridge while attempting to commit suicide.  We have no idea why and this is slowly revealed as the film unfolds.  Little by little, like layers of an onion being peeled back, we understand more about the two main characters, played by Soumitra Chatterjee and Sandhya Mridul.  Bridge is a very still film, shot in a very patient and tranquil way, with a lovely eye to photography.  And this establishes the platform for things such as: love, loss, mental illness, and more importantly, hope, love, happiness.  Forgetting his own suicide attempt, Soumitra’s widower, prevents a young woman from taking her own life and, upon taking her home with him, discovers there is far more to her story than simply wanting to kill herself.  Clearly traumatised, to the point she cannot walk properly, communicate or even eat, Soumitra repots the incident at the bridge to authorities, who show a very establishment reaction – log the incident, take names, locations, add it to the catalogue they’re already investigating and then send the woman to a hostel.

The reality of mental illness is such that there is no procedure that will magically make the problem go away – and this is reflected in Soumitra’s character, who it transpires is battling his own demons and depression, following the death of his wife and the loss of his daughter.  As we discover more about both of the stories, it’s the little things that make the big impacts – be that the starting to eat again, going to have a shave and a haircut, or simply changing the clothes worn.  Whilst not at all a difficult or depressing film to watch, I did fear for Mridul’s character when the clumsy attempts by the authorities nearly send her back over the edge again, undoing all of the hard work and perseverance of Soumitra and his staff.  I am sure this is all too common in cases of mental illness but thankfully in his instance we see common sense, love and patience rule the day.  However at this point we finally understand the true horror of her past and it is quite sobering indeed.

A lovely sense of serenity came over me at the end of Bridge and it was not at all saccharine, fitting in perfectly with the tone the film had already established.  There are a few minor things i had an issue with – the story of his daughter I never quite understood, for example – but throughout there are lovely touches such as the flute player, or the shots of birds in the city.  I think a western production would have zeroed in one one or two of the biggest themes and tried to explain them somehow, with a conclusion of sorts, but this is the joy of watching foreign films and seeing a different take on a universal theme.  Quite possibly not the film you think it is or could be, I recommend this for anyone looking to Asian cinema and wanting something outside the traditional Bollywood offering.

Ep 225: Okja Review Upodcast

This week’s episode the gang is talking about the new Netflix exclusive by Bong Joon Ho: Okja.  Notable for many reasons, we talk about:

Being vegetarian (or not)
Factory farming
Is a movie a movie if it doesn’t play in theaters?
Authority figures being figures of fun
The Cannes Palme d’Or
Bong Joon Ho’s other movies

And of course, give our thoughts overall on Okja, including Okja the uber-pig herself and the brilliant ensemble cast.

Okja is available on Netflix globally from today.

You can listen/stream/download the episode below.

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Newton Review LIFF 2017

In director Amit Masurkar’s second feature, we land into the ever so old tussle between idealism and reality. Set in the backdrop of the world’s largest democratic election in India, with an extremely volatile political air, we see our protagonist Newton Kumar (Rajkummar Rao) trying to make sense of the senselessness, find peace in the chaos, resisting the oppression, and eventually submitting to it. Or did he? I don’t remember having met a person like Newton, the idealist who believes in doing things by the book, no matter what the circumstances be. In fact, Newton is an abberation in the times we live in. Newton is honest, to the point of being proud about it and showing it off, as his senior states.

Masurkar’s second feature couldn’t have been more different to his urban comedy debut (Sulemaani Keeda) about struggling filmmakers in the land of Bollywood. With Newton, Masurkar doesn’t limit his narrative to telling the obvious right from the obvious wrong. We see the world of Newton in the span of the very few days leading to election day. And then as he experiences through the people he meets – the army officer (Pankaj Tripathi), the tribal subordinate female chief (Anjali Patil), his associate clerk (Raghubir Yadav) and juniors, the junior Army officer, his own parents, and the burnt world of the tribals. Newton is embodied by Rao in a performance that doesn’t have dramatic lines to express, but you can smell the frustration of the straitjacketed administration that handicaps what would seem like his obvious dutiful behaviour.

There is a particular scene in Newton which beautifully captures the theme of Newton to me. When Newton is lessoned about the harsh reality of how insignificant an election is to the daily lives of the tribals in the village by his junior clerk, an aspiring writer who has submitted to the routine of a cozy government job, he asks Malko – are you also as Niraashavaadi (pessimistic) as them? She simply replies – No, I am Aadivaasi (tribal). Newton maybe idealistic and wants to carry out his duty, but he is also ignorant of the bigger picture. His willingness to go through any means to achieve his duty goal is short sighted. There is hardly anyone of the 76 tribal people eligible to vote who has a clue of the elections – the candidates representing them, or what they promise to be on their agenda. People are busy making ends meet, worrying about basic necessities of life. And when they are not doing that, they are worried about their homes not being burned down by either the army, or the Naxals. Where does the round idea of democracy fit in this irregularly shaped hole?

As Newton fast descends into a more insane and far fetched tale, we do not lose the sense of realism however. And it is Rajkummar Rao’s grounded performance that makes it so. Now here is a movie that is not simply about an obnoxious idealist that you might not completely agree or identify with. It is also a tale of the far from perfect world we live in – a world fragmented by political interests and corruption, where Newton is not an ideal employee, but almost an absurd lunatic. He is one who needs to be kept silenced and consoled by trophies of punctuation awards. The movie however is not mean spirited about any of its characters. Masurkar narrates the film in a tone balanced between drama and suspense, often juggling it with absolute ease, and there are some humorous moments as well. But the laughs often come at the cost of how harsh the truth is.

@9e3k

Director: Amit Masurkar
Starring: Rajkummar Rao, Pankaj Tripathy, Anjali Patil
Run time: 106 mins | Recommended Certificate: 12A
Language: Hindi with English Subtitles | Year: 2017 | Country: India

An award-winner at the Berlin International Film Festival in 2017, this delightful black comedy stars one of India’s top young character actors, Rajkummar Rao, as Newton, an everyday clerk who is selected for election duty in the conflict-ridden Indian state of Chhattisgarh. As local police and Maoists harass the locals and the voting process spirals out of control, the morally driven Newton becomes a reluctant hero in his zest to save the day.
24 JUNE | 18.10 | BFI SOUTHBANK
25 JUNE | 17.00 | CINEWORLD WEMBLEY

Check out more of Sujoy‘s work at OneKnighStand and Bollypop!

For more about the London Indian Film Festival head over to their website or twitter feed!

Let us know what you thought of the review in the comment section below and do continue to check out Upodcast for more coverage of the LIFF!

Ep 224: LIFF 2017 Preview – What To Watch?

The London Indian Film Festival (LIFF), regarded as Europe’s largest Indian film festival returns for its 8th edition to London and Birmingham and we are joined by Josh Hurtado from Screen Anarchy to help us navigate through broad choice of movies.

On this episode, we pick out the movies that excite us or intrigue us.

For the entire program, dates and tickets head over to www.londonindianfilmfestival.co.uk

 

You can listen/stream/download the episode below.

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EP 223: Baahubali 2 The Conclusion Review

This week we review Baahubali 2 The Conclusion also known as the most successful Indian movie every to be released. And for this mammoth task we have brought in the most knowledgeable and best online voices to dissect this breaker of records.

On ep 223 we are joined by Sujoy (aka @9e3k), Amrita Rajan (@amritaIQ) and Josh Hurtado (@HatefulJosh) and we discuss the following topics:

  • Confessions of a Hindi film watcher
  • A taste of things to come post- Baahubali
  • Is Baabubali a commercial blockbuster or a vindication for South Indian movie makers and audiences against the Hindi domination?
  • Does Baahubali sound the end of the Khan era?
  • Who owns the succes of a movie?
  • We discuss the music, performances and the most insane scenes in the movie…

Check out our interview with director SS Rajamouli by going here.

You can listen/stream/download the episode below.

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Ep 222: “Baahubali is not pro Hindu or anti Hindu…” SS Rajamouli Interview Upodcast

We were lucky enough to attend the UK press junket for what was supposed to be the UK premiere of Baahubali The Conclusion with director SS Rajamouli in attendance.

Since the movie had already released and is a massive success we had the opportunity to dig in a little deeper about the movie and it’s reception.

We spoke about:

  • Terrible experience of seeing his movie completed the first time
  • How he sees the value of film criticism
  • Rajamouli gives his secret formula to Bollywood film makers
  • If South India feel vindicated by the success of Baahubali
  • Making a movie like Baahubali as an atheist

Pardon the obvious fanboyism in my voice and the bad acoustics in the room but I think this might be one of the best interviews we have ever had.

Baahubali The Conclusion is currently running successfully in theaters.

You can listen/stream/download the episode below.

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Marvel’s Iron Fist Review Upodcast

On this week’s episode we review the first 6 episodes of Marvel’s Iron Fist, the final Marvel Netflix series before The Defenders kick in to gear.

We’re joined by our friend and comic book connoisseur Akin Aworan to breakdown the story of this billionaire turned martial artist (or is the other way around)

We try to keep it spoiler free for the most part and give a pretty clear spoiler warning before we go into details.

We talk about:

  • Our ranking of Marvel Netflix shows and how Iron Fist fits within them
  • Is the critical reception of the show justified?
  • What works?
  • What really doesn’t!
  • Spoiler section
  • We form the Rosario Dawson appreciation society
  • What we hope for the final 7 episodes of the show

Marvel’s Iron Fist is now available on Netflix globally.


You can listen/stream/download the episode below.

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Mubarakan Press Conference kicks off London schedule

The cast and crew of the upcoming comedy movie “Mubarakan” are in London for the 50 day schedule of their comedy set to release in cinemas in July 2017.

The cast includes Anil Kapoor, Arjun Kapoor, Ileana D’Cruz and Athiya Shetty and they will be shooting in and around the England for around 50 days. As an exclusive first, the cast and director met with media at a fun-filled interaction on location amid the grandiose of Sheraton Park Lane, Mayfair.

In attendance were real life “chacha” and “bhateeja” Anil Kapoor and Arjun Kapoor, who plays a double role in the movie, and Athiya Shetty and Ileana D’Cruz who are Karan (Arjun Kapoor) and Charan’s (Arjun Kapoor) love interests in the movie and of course the comedy producer, Anees Bazmee.

Here are some excerpts of the Q&A session with the UK press;

Q: How is it different working with local British talent and actors and actresses back in Mumbai, India?

Athiya Shetty: This is my second film so I still have a lot to learn, but I think everybody has a great energy and everybody is working together really well. They are adapting to the way we work and we are adapting to the way they work as well. But I feel it is a happy family even on set and everyone’s having lots of fun. So it’s not very different.

“We’re a happy family on set” @theathiyashetty talks about differences between shooting in India and UK

A post shared by asimburney (@asimburney) on

Q: You were shooting a scene in the Gurdwara in Gravesend. How’s the reaction been to shooting outside central London?

Ileana d’Cruz: I actually was really surprised when I saw the Gurdwara in Gravesend. It’s massive and I think I have explored every room there, it’s huge. It’s my first time inside a Gurdwara as well, but it was beautiful. It’s been fun, it’s been nice. I thought it was going to be really far off but it’s actually a really nice drive, about an hour and ten minutes way from where we are staying.

.@ileana_official tries to answer @ameetchana but @arjunkapoor got jokes #Mubarakan

A post shared by asimburney (@asimburney) on

Q: How is it for you to work a) with family and b) with new generation actors?

Anil Kapoor: I think when I am on set I just forget I am a professional. I remember one of the first shots I had was with the senior most actor in our country, which is Dilip Kumar, so for me I know that on every set I feel the same way with every actor. For me, when on set, I am in character and give my younger or senior the same kind of love and respect and I enjoy being on the set with everybody around me.

When we are on set we are all in the characters of what we are playing, it’s not that Arjun is my nephew but for me he is Charan and Karan in front of the camera.

Q: It’s been said in Bollywood it’s easy to make people sad, make them cry, make them sing and dance, but it’s very hard to get your comic right. Do you also feel that way?

Anees Bazmee: I feel I have written a lot of movies, romantic films, emotional ones but genuinely the most difficult ones to write are comedies. In comedy if you go slightly off, it can become a very poor movie and I feel as a writer if you haven’t written a good scene it becomes a big pain for actors because they have to try very hard to make it funny.

Whenever I have written good comedy I have mostly written them when I was in a bad mood, so for me it doesn’t necessarily mean that if you are writing a comedy you have to be in a very funny, laughing mood.

“This movie is about you” @arjunkapoor answers a question about UK Asian representation in #Mubarakan

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Q: You are playing a double role in Mubarakan, what’s that been like?

Arjun Kapoor: I have played a double role before, I did “Aurangzeb”. It gives me a certain calmness because I have played it once before so I know what you have to do as an actor to prepare and to be on set and the time that it’s taken to pull it off. It’s a gift for an actor to get to do two characters in a film. You’re lucky to get one good character in a film, but I am getting to play two and I’m getting to do it despite doing it once before. So the faith that the director has in me that I can pull off playing two characters gives me a lot of confidence and excitement. It’s about having fun with the role.


Big Thanks to Iram and Imran for covering this event for Upodcast!

Mubarakan is produced by Sony Pictures Networks Productions and Ashwin Varde & Murad Khetani’s Cine1 Studios.

The film has been written by Balli Januja and Rupinder Chahal.

Mubarakan is slated for a worldwide release on 28th July 2017 release.

Karan Johar : “I don’t discriminate”- LSE India Forum Event Full report

Two people who pride themselves on being punctual, Karan Johar and Anupama Chopra, are running late for their discussion panel at the London School of Economics SU India Forum. It’s not a starry late entrance though – they simply didn’t know that one never makes plans in London without checking the number of obstacles the city will inevitably throw your way when you’re in a rush. On this lovely, sunny Saturday, an entire section of the London Tube has been closed for repairs and two separate, giant protests (one against the Trump state visit and the other against the systematic gutting of the NHS) have blocked traffic in all sorts of interesting ways. Johar finally makes it in about 15 minutes late, having taken a cab from Mayfair like a total noob; Chopra got as far as Trafalgar Square before the massive crowds persuaded her to just hoof it. Johar, mindful of the plane he needs to catch later in the evening, uses the 20 minutes before she arrives to field questions from the room.

The LIF is a yearly event but this is the first time they’ve held a pre-LIF discussion and one suspects it was because they had to accommodate Johar’s packed schedule. He is clearly a speaker that draws a crowd – 200 students bought out the tickets in nine minutes flat and quite a few older guests have inveigled an invite as well. In person, he is exactly as you have seen him on TV: average build, medium height, familiar smirk. I’m struck by his shoes because a) I’m so used to seeing him midshot on TV, I don’t remember having seen his feet before; and b) they’re a violent shade of neon silver sneakers that I’m sure are the pinnacle of some mysterious men’s fashion that is more attractive to men than women.

The crowd is entirely desi (I spied one white photographer) and the young women in the audience are all dolled up and ready for their shot: perfect makeup and long, straight hair, chic dresses that are entirely too flimsy for the weather. The young men are no less, clean cut and leaning intently forward as Johar speaks, nodding along to his bon mots and catty zingers alike, some sporting those high collared Nehru vests that are the last word in rising-Indian-politician chic. He says hello to someone’s mom, professes his love for La La Land and Ranbir Kapoor, announces that Bombay Talkies 2 is in the works (Zoya Akhtar has already finished filming her segment while he is yet to begin scripting his) and speaks of Dharma’s evolving digital plans. One of the first questions is from a Pakistani fan who wants to know if Johar will ever take a chance on a Pakistani actor again; he is witty and diplomatic as he deflects her with protestations of his own helpless progressivism and effusive praise of Fawad Khan’s talent. Another young woman wants to know his take on Saif Ali Khan’s homophobic witticisms on this season’s Koffee with Karan; a nervous Nehru-vest-clad student organizer pipes up thinly that personal questions are discouraged. “Was that personal?” Johar winks broadly at the roaring audience before choosing to answer by affirming Khan’s liberalism in his personal life.

Once Anupama Chopra arrives, they’re immediately off; the comfort of long familiarity evident by how easily they’re able to launch straight into deeply personal subjects. The talk is as wide ranging as any Karan Johar event based on the always fascinating subject of himself that you might have witnessed before, with Chopra referencing a chapter in Johar’s recent memoir, An Unsuitable Boy, where his mother ticks him off for being mediocre in every respect and how that went on to fuel his discovery of himself as the celebrity we recognize today. He is candid about only attending award shows that pay him to emcee, his fear of eventual and inevitable irrelevance, his love of Hindi film music, that entire scenes of Ae Dil Hai Mushkil have been adapted straight from his failed romances, and his desire to make a film that Chopra will love.

Things then took a turn: Chopra introduced a segment on pay parity in Hindi cinema, pointing out that while she understands the pay scale being pegged to a star’s ability to attract an audience, even newcomers are paid different rates according to gender. Johar immediately distances himself from such practices.

“When it comes to newcomers, I don’t discriminate. When I launched Varun (Dhawan), Sid (Malhotra) and Alia (Bhatt), they all got the same number. Why should there be any kind of disparity in remuneration?” he said to loud applause. “You guys make the men bigger stars. When the audience empowers the women more, I would love to pay Deepika Padukone more than I pay Ranbir Kapoor but the truth of the matter is he opens to a number solo and she opens to a number solo. We have six movie stars in India who’re all men and then we have a few women who are doing really well but they can’t match the numbers or get that opening. They can’t get the economics right – satellite, music, overseas, digital, theatrical. They can’t pull in the same numbers on any of them so there is this disparity.”

Chopra reminds him of Sonam Kapoor’s recent statement that her upcoming project with Kareena Kapoor, Veere di Wedding, was unable to generate a fraction of the funding given to a Varun Dhawan and John Abraham project.

“Because Varun Dhawan is a bigger movie star,” Johar said, flatly matter-of-fact.

Really?” Chopra said.

“Yes,” he said. “Seriously! He has an ABCD that opened to 14 crores. Neerja opened to 4 crores. Dhishoom opened to 11 crores. Sonam is an amazing beauty and a humongously talented girl but she cannot compare on the economics.”

Next came the controversial segment where Johar defended himself from Kangana Ranawat’s accusation on a recent episode of Koffee with Karan that he is the “flag bearer of nepotism” and part of the “movie mafia” that made her early years in the Mumbai film industry a nightmare.

“I just want to say, I’m glad she knows what it all means,” he began, a perfect (and perhaps unintended) callback to Ranawat’s point that Johar was one of those who mocked her relentlessly for her poor English when she first arrived in Mumbai. The crowd erupted in raucous cheers that turned variously into gasps and applause as he went on to list the number of directors with no prior industry links who have been employed by Dharma. Even if Ranawat was talking about actors, he said, the only two industry kids he has given a break to are Alia and Varun, neither of whom are related to him. As for being a member of the so-called movie mafia that excluded her, he said he couldn’t understand the charge – although he considers her to be an outstanding artist who is fully deserving of praise, when it comes to making his films, he felt entitled to his choice of cast.

“I am done with Kangana playing the woman card and the victim card,” he said, to noticeably louder cheers than his statement identifying her as a serious talent. “You cannot always be a victim who has this sad story to tell about being terrorized by this bad industry. Leave it. Who is forcing you to be here? Do something else.”

Later, as the evening came to a close, I overheard a couple seated behind me discussing how much they’d enjoyed the evening and Johar’s frankness. I came home and began to write this article, Googling to see if anyone had uploaded video of the event – and the very first link was the surprise announcement of Johar’s brand new fatherhood via surrogacy. The man had sat five feet from me at an event to discuss himself, interviewed by a woman who plainly felt no qualms asking him sensitive questions, and there hadn’t been so much as a hint of any such thing in the offing. In fact, it apparently came as a surprise to most of his acquaintance who’d attended a well-publicized singles party for Valentine’s Day at his home a mere seven days after his children were born. In hindsight, therefore, the entire event became a whole other exercise in studying how celebrities hide in plain sight and retain the ability to practice discretion when warranted, even in the media-saturated environment of 2017. Celebrity events are a dime a dozen but it is always a pleasure to attend a master class.

by Amrita Rajan.

You can find more of her work on her blog or follow her on twitter!

 

LIF is the first of its kind forum in the UK involving keynote speeches and panel discussions on major economic, political and cultural issues facing contemporary India. The conference serves as a platform for students and young professionals alike to engage with some of India’s leading industrialists, politicians, economists and popular culture icons.

This year, the forum has been segmented into two unique events – the next even will be

LIF – Saturday, 11th March: India – A Superpower in the Making?

 

Certain Women- an Interview with director Kelly Reichardt

It’s been a long day for Kelly Reichardt, whose latest film Certain Women is due out in the UK this Friday, 3 March. When she listens to you, she folds into herself, her chin tucked in, almost disappearing into the enormous wing chair she’s seated in. And then she looks up to answer you, keen eyes direct.

It’s the morning after the Oscars and I want to know if she stayed up to watch the now notorious telecast that ended in a confused jumble with Moonlight eventually beating out La La Land for Best Picture.

“No, I didn’t. It was in the middle of the night,” she says, smiling a little wearily. She’s been working and gearing up for this grueling press junket, with more meaningful human contact in a day than most of us experience in a week. “I do know my fellow Miami filmmaker Barry Jenkins won for Moonlight, which was one for the home team. I liked the movie very much; it was nice to see parts of Miami portrayed that you normally don’t. It was a nice little shelter from a year of cruelty – when that film came out in such harsh times, to see it celebrated.”

Often described as the new master of the American experience, Reichardt’s own film, Certain Women, is also a triptych, a look at the lives of four ordinary women in an America that refuses to be safely pigeonholed into one familiar category or the other. There is an innate loneliness to the lives these women lead, bubbling under the surface where they have carefully hidden it away. It stems from their gender, their independence, their jobs, the people they love, the lives they have chosen for themselves. When the rancher played by Lily Gladstone finally makes a push and turns herself fully visible for an instant, it is a crystallized moment of uncertainty because this entire world is built on women who disappear in plain sight.

The stories of Certain Women are based on two collections of short stories by bestselling novelist Maile Meloy, Both Ways Is the Only Way I Want It (2009) and Half in Love (2002). I ask Reichardt why she was so drawn to Meloy’s work and she says, “They were just great character pieces; the characters were really sort of hunkered down in this particular environment.”

The film is set in Montana, home to Meloy, and it’s an interesting juxtaposition of landscape and lives: the visuals are of the vast sky and cold beauty that are a familiar staple of the great American Western but the characters are unlike any in those kinds of movies. There’s a lawyer (Laura Dern) whose client won’t take her professional advice seriously but needs her to be his emotional sounding board; there’s an unhappy wife (Michelle Williams) who chooses to focus on the perfect home in the midst of the shambles of her marriage; there’s a young lawyer (Kristen Stewart) who is so wrapped up in the mere act of being herself that she can’t see beyond that struggle; and there’s a rancher (Lily Gladstone) who is so desperate to make a connection, she will do it any way she can.

“[Meloy] is from Montana, so she set the stories there and I went there,” Reichardt says. “It’s super intertwined… sometimes you’ve got to come to a place to figure out the people and they go hand in hand.”

Most reviewers have singled out the story between the lonely rancher and the young lawyer she falls for; in the original collection, the rancher is male, which turns that story into a more traditional, familiar one of a lonely cowhand and a city slicker. But the story in Certain Women is not that story, it is instead an unfamiliar one of female friendship and companionship and love. I ask Reichardt about the gender switching.

“It’s not a sexual romance in that story,” she says. “It’s a crush of sorts and someone projecting a lot onto another person. It just might be an attraction to someone that has access to a world that the rancher doesn’t. Someone isolated romanticizing someone else’s life.”

It strikes me that the thing I found most interesting about Certain Women is its refusal to romanticize these lives. Unlike the characters who populate it, the film remains clear eyed to the end, taking its time to capture the complex reality of these lives.
Add Certain Women to the list of interesting movies that 2016 sent us.

Winner of Best Film at the 60th BFI London Film Festival 2016

Michelle Williams winner: Best Supporting Actress at the New York Film Critics Circle Awards

Lily Gladstone winner: Best Supporting Actress at the LA Film Critics’ Awards

Kelly Reichardt nominated: Best Director at the Independent Spirit Awards

Lily Gladstone nominated: Best Supporting Actress at the Independent Spirit Awards

Certain Women is in UK theaters this week

Kelly Reichardt was interviewed by Amrita Rajan.

You can find more of her work on her blog or follow her on twitter!

Ep 220 John Wick Chapter 2 Review Upodcast

Legendary hitman John Wick is forced back out of retirement by a former associate plotting to seize control of a shadowy international assassins guild. Bound by a blood oath to help him, John travels to Rome where he squares off against some of the world’s deadliest killers.

John Wick hits the theaters and Upodcast is ready to break the movie down. This week we are joined by Paresh from The Currysmugglers (check out their latest Chill episode out NOW).

We talk about:

  • Our expectations after the first John Wick
  • How John Wick stand up in the pantheon of action movies
  • What our favorite action set pieces were
  • Where we hope the franchise will go now.

You can listen/download/stream the episode below.

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Ep 219 Don’t Knock Twice Review Upodcast

A new Brit horror brings the creepy back to Upod, along with discussion about some new TV shows

  • Powerless
  • 24: Legacy
  • Santa Clara’s Diet
  • RiverdaleWe move on to our main review of indie horror Don’t Knock Twice
    – where it sits in the range of horror genres
    – the setting, production design, look and feel
    – director, cast & performances, including Nick Moran; where have you been for 20 years?
    – jump scares, all round creepiness
    – the plot, story, confusion and holes we found
    – Asim is a horror-film weakling, but surprises co-hosts with his opinion
    – conclusions & thoughts in general
    – go and see this film if you can, it is great!

 

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Ep 218: Raees Review Upodcast

We’ve got a jam-packed show today and not only because of the amazing roundtable of guests we’ve put together. After all a Shahrukh Khan movies needs the best of the best of bollybloggers to come together (of course we’re not including Asim to that list)

This week we are joined by Amrita, Beth and Sujoy and we talk about:

  • Quick thoughts on Rishi Kapoor’s biography called Khullam Khulla and a deeper dive into Ranbir’s breakfast habits
  • Sujoy talks about why he hated Kaabil and why the rest of the guest opted out of watching it
  • We delve deeper into what similarities there are between SRK and Hritik as performers and if Bang Bang is a better movie than Chennai Express?
  • Then it’s time for our main review of Raees:

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A close friend of ours, Rajee, is battling blood cancer and is in urgent need for a stem cell match for a bone marrow transplant. All it takes is a cheek swab (saliva) to get registered in your respective country’s registry. You can find more details about it at 

fb.me/HealRajee

Please help spread this message to your family and friends. And since ethnicity matters to get a match for Rajee please circulate this as best as possible among your South Asian friends and family.  However, all ethnicities are welcome to register.

Time is of essence – we need as many registrations as possible by the first week of February in order to find a match.

How to register?

India: http://datri.org/donor-registration/

UK:

Age Above 30

Registration: https://www.dkms.org.uk/en/register-now

FAQ: https://www.dkms.org.uk/en/frequently-asked-questions

Age Below 30 

Register: https://www.anthonynolan.org/apply-join-bone-marrow-register

FAQ: https://www.anthonynolan.org/frequently-asked-questions

US: http://www.aadp.org/learn/how-to-register/

If you qualify as a donor, all it takes is a bit of discomfort…

Stem cell donation in Rajee’s case would most likely be donation of bone marrow and this involves the removal of stem cells from your hip bones. This is done using a needle and syringe under a general anaesthetic in a hospital. Although this is not a surgical operation, there will be marks on the skin made by the needle. As there may be some discomfort where the needle has been inserted, you will need to stay in hospital for up to 48 hours and have a period of recovery at home of up to five days.

Stem cell donation is very safe. However, as we all know no medical procedure is entirely without risk. The procedure may involve some temporary discomfort in your bones and any small risks involved will be fully explained before you donate.

You can find more information on this here:

http://www.nhsbt.nhs.uk/bonemarrow/qa/index.asp#whatare

Thank you ever so much 

 

 

Ep 217: Sherlock- The Final Problem and La La Land Review

The guys, joined by Sujoy aka @9e3k , get stuck into the season finale of the BBC’s Sherlock and there is much afoot!
Firstly a quick intro talking about Ben Affleck and his new film, Live by Night.  And then a battle between La La Land and all of Bollywood.

Sherlock, the final problem.  Upod travels down these roads:

– Are the writers taking the piss at the viewers’ expense?
– Why is Moriarty so prominent, after his death?
– Eurus…generally speaking, wtf?
– Concerns with believability

– A slight excursion sideways into Art Malik and his appearance in Mirzya, a recent Bollywood movie!

– And then the “The tasks of Sherlock”
– Horror themes throughout the episode
– The confusing, convoluted ending
– Where next for our intrepid detectives, Holmes & Watson

Check out more of Sujoy‘s work at OneKnighStand and Bollypop!

You can listen/download/stream the episode below.

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Ep 216: Spectral Upodcast Review

We recorded this episode during the holidays but never got a chance to post it, so with this UPOD brings you a belated festive cheer!  Returning with a Santa’s sack of new TV to consider Ahmed talks about Hulu Original Shut Eye, Shooter on Netflix and the pilot of the McGyver reboot.( As usual Martin and Asim are generally ignorant about these shows).

Bringing this back to cinema Martin talks about John Carpenter and also the upcoming season of Martin Scorcese films at London’s BFI. (for more information about the Martin Scorcese season head over to the BFI website)

The main event however belongs to a Netflix original: Spectral, which we discuss at length and alsodebate the merits of providing original content via the “new” disruptive players in the marketplace.

Spectral is available on Netflix globally, and here’s the trailer if you have missed out:


Happy 2017!

You can listen/download/stream the episode below.

 

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Ep 215: Sherlock – The Lying Detective Upodcast Review

The game is well and truly afoot!  As Sherlock dives further into series 4, so Upodcasting dives further into Sherlock.  Coming up in this latest episode, we continue our own investigations, talking through all of the key issues and talking points of episode 2 – The Lying Detective.  In many ways, this could be considered the sexy episode and Asim and Martin will reveal why.  The stage is well and truly set for a grandstand finish in episode 3 and we shall return next week to conclude matters!

You can listen/download/stream the episode below.

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Sherlock – The Six Thatchers Review Upodcast

Hot on the trail of the BBC’s series (no seasons please, we’re British) four opener, Upodcast takes a deep dive into the first episode.  Will Watson and Holmes get it on?  What the hell happened during the one-off Christmas special and how will Holmes talk his way out of murdering someone in cold blood?  Three small questions, among the many others that we’ve pondered since the last episode and they all get answered thankfully.  For this and more, plus our looking forward to the next two episodes, take a listen; we’ll see you again after episodes 2 and 3!

You can listen/download/stream the episode below.

 

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Ae Dil Hai Mushkil Review Upodcast

After many troubles Ae Dil Hai Mushkil finally released this weekend and we’re joined by Anisha Jhaveri (@Jhavanis) writer for Indiewire, to talk about Karan Johar’s new movie starring the all star cast of Ranbir Kapoor, Anushka Sharma, Fawad Khan and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan.

We talk about:

  • Our expectations walking into a Karan Johar movie
  • Some alternative theories on how to view the ADHM
  • Deal with some of the major criticism the movies has faced
  • Is Ranbir Kapoor’s shtick getting old?
  • Is Anushka Sharma a new version of Geet from Jab We Met?
  • The wardrobe of ADHM: sneakers and red pocket liners on a pea coat
  • Was Aishwarya’s role over sold in the promos?
  • Aishwarya and Anushka straight out a magazine cover
  • Cameo’s of ADHM

Anisha’s review of Ae Dil Hai Mushkil can be found on Indiewire or you can follow her on twitter.

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We would love it if you can rate or write us a small review on iTunes! Just click here.

Doctor Strange Review Upodcast

This week we review Marvel’s Doctor Strange starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Rachel McAdams and Tilda Swinton directed by Scott Derickson.

From IMDB: A former neurosurgeon embarks on a journey of healing only to be drawn into the world of the mystic arts.

Is the movie able to bring our hosts out of their superhero fatigue? Does Doctor Strange try something different to the origin story template?

You can listen/download/stream the episode and find out below:

Or subscribe to us in iTunes and never miss a show!

Queen Of Katwe Review Upodcast

This episode of Upodcast we discuss Mira Nair’s uplifting Disney produced story Queen of Katwe, starring Lupita Nyong’o and David Oyelowo based on the true story of Phiona Mutesi who came from the streets of rural Uganda to becoming an international chess champion.

We’re joined by our friend Akin Aworan to talk about how Mira Nair avoids the usual trappings of ” based on real life stories” how it compares to movies like Slumdog Millionaire and Million Dollar Arm, how awesome Lupita Nyong’o is and our usual tangents (a very lengthy Deadpool one).

Queen of Katwe is currently have a 93% on Rotten Tomatoes but only released in limited release.

You can check out more of Akin’s work on his website.

You can download/stream/listen to the episode below.

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Tu Mera Sunday LFF Review

Milind Dhaimade’s Tu Hai Mera Sunday is a charming little surprise of a movie. This story of five amiable friends in Mumbai trying to navigate a little football time for themselves isn’t really attempting to re-invent the wheel – and this allows the film to relax long enough to breathe some life into the characters that inhabit it, such as the rather mysterious figure of the old man suffering from dementia (Shiv Subramaniam, perfect) who becomes the catalyst for most of the events that drive the narrative.

None of these people are strangers to those familiar with the classic Hindi film “Bombay milieu” – there’s Jayesh (Jay Upadhyay, funny), the well-to-do Gujarati who wants to get away from his noisy, religious family that bores him well-nigh to madness; “Bawa” (Nakul Bhalla, affecting), the Parsi who is surrounded by the slowly crumbling ruins of his cultural past as he tries to comprehend his present; Domi (Vishal Malhotra, competent as ever), the Catholic mummy’s boy who could have been a musical success; Arjun (Barun Sobti, charming), the upper class, clean cut, “hero” type whom everybody loves but acknowledges is a slacker. However, this is a movie whose camera chooses to linger just that extra moment to capture the fly in one’s favorite sweetshop, so the last friend is Rashid (Avinash Tiwary, stellar), who wonders whether any of the girls who’re happy to go home with him at the end of a date would be equally happy to accept a proposal of marriage from a Muslim.

Tu Hai Mera Sunday is a movie that carries its liberality lightly and therefore feels more relatable and true in a way that the holier-than-thou lectures unleashed by hypocritical mainstream Bollywood stars are not. When one of the friends argues that the girl he likes is “not like the girls” Rashid takes home with him, he very matter-of-factly points out that there is nothing wrong with the girls he dates either. At another point, a man confesses that he chickened out of confessing his feelings because he wasn’t sure if he could provide the girl he loves with all the luxuries she wants out of life – only to have her retort that she is well able to get those material luxuries for herself and is simply looking for someone who cares for her (Shahana Goswami, total package as always). In fact, for a movie that’s all about five boys in need of a playground, this is a movie that embraces its women – from the happily married upper class woman obsessed with the perfection of her child to the middle class deserted wife striving to raise her deaf boys to the best of her ability to the woman navigating an inter-religious relationship.

Billed as a movie about creating space for oneself in the great urban sprawl that is Mumbai, Tu Hai Mera Sunday is equally a movie about living one’s life in a city where it is easier to live a routine. Dhaimade is a talent to watch.

Tu Hai Mera Sunday (You Are My Sunday) had it’s World Premiere at the  60th BFI London Film Festival, as part of the festival’s Love Gala on 15th- -16th October.

Review by Amrita Rajan. You can find more of her work on her blog or follow her on twitter!

Queen of Katwe LFF Review

Mira Nair’s Queen of Katwe tells a traditional tale of the underdog who triumphs against insurmountable odds over the space of three acts but tells it so well and in such fresh context that it must be a hard heart indeed that can withstand its charm.

The true story of Phiona Mutesi (Madina Nalwanga, a revelation), a young girl born in Katwe, the slum area of Kampala, Uganda, Queen of Katwe is based on the eponymous biography authored by ESPN writer Tim Crothers. Over the course of her journey, Phiona must battle illiteracy, gender bias, the grind and uncaring cycle of institutionalized poverty, self-doubt, class snobbery, and Mother Nature herself in order to realize her dream of becoming a chess master and lifting her family into prosperity. She does so further burdened by the urgency of her knowledge of her mother’s many sacrifices, the precarious state of her family’s existence, the bleakness of her future in the slum, and the rising expectations that Katwe (and, indeed, all of Uganda) itself begins to repose in her, their unlikely knight.

Supported by a cast of amazing child actors, who are each a delight as they embody the lives of real children who once struggled to understand the unfamiliar, elite world into which chess had thrust them, Queen of Katwe manages to steer clear of the many clichés that could have pulled it under. Nair’s eye doesn’t shy away from the ugly side of Katwe – be it the economic struggle for survival or the appalling living conditions – but it never descends into exoticization or poverty porn. The people in this movie confront their poverty in multiple ways in every frame but they are so well etched that they are not defined by their poverty. They fight and love and worry and struggle in a celebration of their humanity.

In fact, what struck me the most about these people is how good they are. Not in a saintly fashion but in an everyday way. The daughter who runs away from home and unashamedly becomes a prostitute to her mother’s scorn, comes to help her family in their time of need; the coach (David Oyellowo, what a charmer!) who accepts the death of his ambitions because he cannot abandon “his” children has a wife who would not allow him to choose financial safety over his heart’s calling; the illiterate mother (Lupita N’yongo, astonishing) who scraps her way through life will sacrifice her dearest possessions in order for her child to be able to read; the small son with a grievous wound will uncomplainingly face unimaginable pain because he understands this is the best his mother can do.

“A challenge is not a curse,” it says on the back of the beat-up minivan that takes the children to their chess tournaments, and it is that spirit that these people try to embody.

Queen of Katwe opens in the UK on the 21st October 2016.

Review by Amrita Rajan. You can find more of her work on her blog or follow her on twitter!

Mirzya Review Upodcast

Our best episodes are the ones where we see things completely differently. Rakesh Omprakash Mehra’s adaptation of the Mirza Sahiban folktale is one such movie. Mirzya stars Harshvardhan Kapoor, Saiyami Kher (Check out our interview with her by clicking here), Art Malik and Om Puri and hits theaters today after it’s European premier at the London Film Festival.

We’re joined by the talented and always charming Shai Hussain to break down how this adaptation translates to the big screen, how both debutante actors perform  and if the overall world created is matches the legends of the folk tale.

Mirzya hits theaters this weekend and is having it’s European Premier at the London Film Festival.

You can listen/download/stream our episode below.

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Saiyami Kher Mirzya Interview Upodcast

“This experience has been life changing…”

We speak to Saiyami Kher who is making her big screen debut this Friday in Rakesh Omprakash Mehra’s Mirzya, a re-imagining of Mirza Sahibaan’s legendary folk tale.

We talk about her preparation for her role, her background as a marathon runner and how the experience was for an outsider to the industry to collaborate with the Harshvardhan Kapoor, son of living legend Anil Kapoor.

Mirzya hits theatres this weekend and is having it’s European Premier at the London Film Festival.

You can listen/download/stream our episode below.

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M.S. Dhoni: The Untold Story Review

The big question going into Neeraj Pandey’s M.S. Dhoni: An Untold Story was – why? Why does it exist? Given the sheer number of articles, think pieces and news reports that come out annually on the Indian cricket captain, who found his feet just as India became a nation addicted to social media shenanigans and hysterical yellow journalism, what exactly had its creators found that compelled them to make this movie?

The movie opened on a hopeful note for this reviewer as Pandey brought in several threads from Dhoni’s life – not all of them untold, but perhaps not previously narrated in a cohesive whole. There was the tension of being an Indian child with unconventional tastes (he’d rather play football than cricket!); the burden of meeting parental expectations, particularly that of the strict but loving, hardworking, lower-middle class father who carries the unspecified weight of the world on his shoulders; that now-famous rewriting of conventional wisdom that allowed Indian cricket to shift focus to the untapped talent languishing in “B-tier towns”; the tragicomedy of dealing with Indian bureaucracy; falling in love at inconvenient times and dealing with loss; the politicking that comes with power and position, etc. Every item on a checklist had been ticked off.

In fact, there were so many possible narrative threads set up in the first half of the movie, it was quite a puzzle how they would all come together in the second. And the sad answer was that all this rich texture simply existed to bring our attention to different parts of Dhoni’s flawless character. He is benevolent to the bureaucrats who nearly destroyed his career! He remembers his old friends even though he has learned better grooming and improved his English! He even has a friend whose possible alcoholism only exists to underline the fact that Dhoni himself would never touch terrible, soul-destroying things like beer because his body is a temple dedicated to sport. The much-touted story of the woman he loved and lost fades into a larger theme of his being a man beholden to second chances from life.

Part of the problem lies in the performance turned in by Sushant Singh Rajput in the eponymous role. Singh is a fine actor whom we have seen perform to better advantage elsewhere – here, he plays Dhoni as next to catatonic when trying to portray him as a reserved man with a rich interior life and terrifying focus. Most of the blame, however, rests on the shoulders of Pandey as the man who wrote and directed this movie, for trying to shoehorn a living, breathing man into a template more familiar to him.

For M.S. Dhoni: An Untold Story ends up telling you a lot more about the man who made it than the man it seeks to portray. Pandey is clearly a man who wants to write thrillers that incorporate the tiny details of everyday life in the less shiny bits of India. The problem with this movie, however, is that it is a thriller in search of a thrill. It can’t be found in the first half of the movie where Dhoni casually bats his way to the top until a mincing/swaggering Yuvraj Singh introduces a bit of tension by outclassing not just him but his entire team of rustics while armed with a pair of headphones. The movie keeps telling the viewer that this is an unconventionally cerebral man who has felt the pain of struggle and loss, but from the very first frame where an intensely focused Dhoni walks out to the gladiator’s ring that Indians like to call a cricket field, there is no doubt in anybody’s mind that this man is going to excel. His friends believe so strongly in him, they don’t think twice about bugging acquaintances to sponsor him; amazing opportunities continuously come his way without his ever having applied for them; when he’s stuck at a dead-end job, his boss encourages him to play truant and concentrate on his game. How is one supposed to feel sorry for this guy?

As for the emotional loss of his girlfriend, by trying to check that off the list, all Pandey manages to do is to turn her death into a teachable moment for Dhoni, shadowing his relationship with his future wife Sakshi. Both women exist without much context or personality, unlike the rest of Pandey’s dependable troupe of character actors who show up in this film to enact various roles such as cricket commentators and early mentors without making the kind of impact they did in earlier Pandey movies.

Finally, however, one does receive an answer as to why this movie was made – so that Indians may celebrate their 2011 World Cup once again. If you’re in the mood for a hagiography of India’s arguably most successful cricket captain, this movie is definitely for you. If you are looking for a competently made movie from a director whose movies have dependably entertained you in the past, like yours truly, you may walk out disappointed.

M.S. Dhoni: The Untold Story is in theaters now!

Review by Amrita Rajan. You can find more of her work on her blog or follow her on twitter!

Rahat Ali Khan at the O2 Concert Review

Dressed in a golden embroidered jacket, sitting center stage on a bar stool and accompanied by a simple back up band, the heir of Pakistan’s qawwali legacy, Rahat Ali Khan performed before a sold out crowd at the London O2 arena for a special concert marking the celebration of Pakistan’s independence. The entire day was filled with cultural events, food buskers and Bollywood dance lessons just outside the concert venue where a diverse crowd of South Asian fans (and quit a few celebrities) enthusiastically took to their seats.

The concert commenced with what Rahat dubbed his “Love Songs”. But in the tradition of qawwali the “Love” can’t be distinguished between the love for a person or the love for God. There were many instances during the almost 3-hour concert, where devotion and emotion were indistinguishable for the performer as well as for the audience.From the first notes onward, the concert was an unending high consisting of goose bumps, musical elation, uncontrollable smiles and utter joy.The O2 - Rahat-145

Between the sets, Rahat had a surprisingly jovial back and forth with his audience, his respect for them and his art shining through every eloquently worded syllable, illustrating the fact that the singer’s poetic nature is not confined to his songs but also how he treats the people around him.

Although his recent popularity is partly due to his numerous Hindi movie soundtrack collaborations, his unmistakable talent and skill honed through decades of training is always accompanied by the clarity of Rahat’s voice and the Sufi tradition that power his songs.

The crowd erupts in roars as soon as they recognize the initial notes of hits like “Aas Paas hai Khuda” (Anjaani Anjaana) or the mere mention of Bollywood actress Madhuri Dixit, on who the song as “O Re Piya” (Aaja Nachle) was picturized. Both songs transcending the forgettable movies that they were in, becoming crowd favorites (as well as a personal favorites) and making us realize that whichever country we hail from, we share an on going obsession with Madhuri Dixit.

Closing the love block with the word “I have too many love songs” and the ever present smile, the musical maestro immediately kicks off his “Punjabi section” of the concert, or as Rahat told the crowd, the language in which you can call anyone, anything and they won’t mind it.

After a few more crowd pleasers like “Samjhawan” (Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhanya), Surili Ankhyon Wale (Veer), we head into the qawalli portion of the concert, which was essentially the Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan tribute section, Rahat’s mentor and legendary uncle.

During the intermission  all the performers even changed in more traditional qawalli gear like purple kurta’s and elegant sherwaani’s taking their place in the classic formation behind tabla’s and harmoniums.

The Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan songs have decades old connect with the audience and it is the closest the London Arena got to the rapture and hypnotism of a true qawalli performance in the streets of Lahore or Delhi.

The lazy argument critics always make about Rahat is that he can’t be compared to Nusrat’s talent. (Try it out, go to any Indian restaurant, and start a conversation about Rahat Ali Khan when a song comes on the radio and you will hear “Nusrat wali bhaat nahi hai usme“)

To Rahat’s own admission, he understood early in his career and made the conscious decision to not only focus on classical qawalli but foray into more popular tunes, usually adapted and re-performed for the larger audience whereas his uncle had the popularity hoisted upon him, and he never really felt comfortable in this new modern medium of “music videos”. It is a decision to be applauded as it shows reverence for what has been but a determination to reach people through today’s medium.

But it is also in these songs that the comparison between the Rahat Ali Khan being in the shadow of his uncle becomes clear.  If you have heard the original recordings of Nusrat you realize how incomparable his talent and command of qawalli truly was. And although Rahat comes close, like listening to a great cover band, there is a silent agreement between audience and performer that this is the closest we are able to get to the original, and for most of us, that is already better than any other musical performance we have attended in our life times.

After the qawalli high, we return to some more Bollywood songs of recent years and somewhere, suddenly they seem much simpler and almost child like to the previous compositions. The energy drops a little but the audience is very happy to see their personal favorites ticked of the list and performed live.

Rahat’s commitment and sincerity never fails though, as he croons his personal favorite “Ae Khuda” from Rocky Handsome, a song I have gone back and revisited after the concert and have truly started appreciating for how it stands out compared to more the paint by number hits like Bodyguard’s “Teri Meri” or “Tere Mast Mast do Nain” from Dabangg.

The concert closes with Jiya Dhalak, his big introduction to the Bollywood audience and Mast Qalander, his uncle’s greatest hit.

Rahat Ali Khan sang for us with only a small intermission for 3 hours straight with power, sincerity, keeping in mind what the audience asked from him but giving them much more than they needed. He gave them the memory of an unforgettable experience with a true musical master of the likes that appears only once in a lifetime.

Win a DVD of the Stunning Sci- Fi Identicals!

For chance to win a copye of the DVD of Identicals: Like our Facebook page/ Follow us on Twitter and drop us a mail with subject line: “I want to win!” on Upodcasting@gmail.com

UK entries only and competition deadline is 22 august!

Here’s the trailer and synopsis:


The film follows an organization Brand New-U which identifies networks of IDENTICALS – people who walk like you, talk like you, but are walking through different, better lives. Slater (Lachlan Nieboer) seems to have the perfect life, the perfect job and the perfect girlfriend. But when Slater’s girlfriend is abducted by Brand New-U, he is forced to become an Identical. As he moves through a series of parallel lives, he becomes more and more obsessed with finding his girlfriend, but what he must find in the end is himself.

IDENTICALS is available on Digital/VoD 15th August and DVD 22nd August

Dishoom Review Upodcast

New Podcast for your Ear holes! This week we take to task the Buddy Action revival directed by Rohit Shetty starring younger brother Varun Dhawan, John Abraham and Jacqueline Fernandez.

We are joined by Hani from wonderful podcast The Bollywood Project and Sujoy aka @9e3k.

(Here is a link to our appearance on their show)

Will Dishoom enter into the pantheon of other classic buddy cop movies?

Does pack enough punch to Dishoom?

Listen/stream/download to the episode below and find out.

Or Subscribe to our iTunes feed and never miss a show!

Win 2 tickets to the Ustad Rahat Ali Khan Concert at the O2, London

Pakistan’s most famous Qawwali singer Ustad Rahat Fateh Khan, the nephew of the late, world-renowned singer Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, will perform his greatest hits live for the first time at The O2 on Sunday 14 August 2016.

Tickets go on sale at 9am on Friday 22 April and are available at AXS.com or by calling 0844 856 0202 or from www.theo2.co.uk.www.theo2.co.uk.

But we have a pair of tickets to give away for Free! and it couldn’t be easier.

Just click on the banner below and sign up with your email adress, and the lucky winner will be randomly drawn. Deadline for the the competition is 8th of August! So sign up ASAP!

Click on the image to enter the competition!

The performance will coincide with Pakistan and India’s independence weekend celebrations and will be Ustad Rahat Fateh Khan’s only London show this year. Discussing his forthcoming show Ustad Rahat Fateh Khan said; ”I’m very excited to be performing at The O2, London, for the second time, following my sold out tour in 2013.

“Coming to the UK is always a thrill for me and my performance is timed to fit the Independence Day celebrations for both Pakistan and India. I have a fantastic team of musicians joining me and will be performing my greatest film hits and new material, as well as my esteemed Uncle, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s popular Qawwali numbers, to rock the arena.”

Ustad Rahat Fateh Ali Khan was chosen at birth by his uncle Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan for tutoring in the traditions of qawwali music, a form of Sufi devotional popular in South Asia. Six weeks after his uncle’s death in 1997, Rahat Fateh Ali Khan took his position as leader of the group and has since become one of the most talked about Pakistani artists in the world.

Ustad Rahat Fateh Ali Khan has performed on a variety of recordings, and his songs and vocals have featured in numerous hit Hollywood and Bollywood films including Bodyguard, My Name is Khan, Dabangg, Bajrangi Bhaijaan, Drishyam, the Hollywood film Apocalypto and many more.

The maestro has released over 50 albums with over 100 hits in Bollywood and has been presented with numerous awards including Star Screen Awards for Best Male Playback 2010 and the IIFA award for best male vocalist 2011. He has also been a judge on top TV shows in India such a Chhote Ustad and Junoon, Kuch Kar Dikhaane Ka. He was the headline performer at the Nobel Peace Prize Concert in 2014 and recently performed at the United Nations General Assembly Hall in March 2016.

In 2014, Ustad Rahat Fateh Ali Khan released his latest album ‘Back 2 Love’ which sold millions of copies worldwide.

The ticket will also include access to a variety of free live events and activities including Bollywood dance workshops, DJs, specially selected street food stalls and more.

SHEKHAR KAPUR: A LIFE WITH ELIZABETH LIFF 2016 at the BFI

Although Shekhar Kapur was at the BFI Southbank to talk about making Elizabeth (surely this would have sat better at the London Film Festival than the London Indian Film Festival? #justsaying), I was not so secretly hoping that he would talk about Mr India, one of my all-time favourite films; pleasingly, he did. In fact, I could have listened to a whole talk on the film, such is my devotion to it and the gems he gave did not disappoint – that there was no bound script for the film, many insiders tried to dissuade him from making the film and explained to presenter Nick James (editor of Sight + Sound) how Sridevi’s Seema was based upon Lois Lane from Superman.

He also spoke of how producers felt Sridevi could not be presented as “sexy” (which was immediately disproved by a 10 second clip of that iconic song) or how Amrish Puri stated that he would never escape the shadow of being Mogambo. The most interesting insight was Shekhar talking about metaphorically narrating the film to his 14 year old self and basing his narrative on those reactions – which perhaps explains why it resonated with so many young children (including myself) at the time of release.

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The other film that was discussed at length was Bandit Queen which Shekhar called his most instinctive film to date. With no commercial pressure or investors to satisfy, he was able to make his interpretation of the events that led to Phoolan Devi’s incarceration. Surmising the essence as the film of being about gender inequality, he also spoke how he wanted to show “the difference between nakedness and nudity” when filming the graphic sexual violence depicted on screen that survived being cut by the ever snip happy censor board of India.

Then it was time to talk all things Elizabeth. After Bandit Queen brought Shekhar to Cannes, the initial offer of a “frock film” did not appeal. Confessing to Working Title producer Tim Bevan that he was bored of British period dramas, he stipulated he wanted to make the Trainspotting equivalent of a period piece – and to his surprise, Tim agreed. Interestingly, Shekhar also insisted on casting the then relatively unknown Australia actress Cate Blanchett despite every top British actress vying for the role and after threatening to leave the project, he was able to get his way. Drawing parallels between Elizabeth I and Indira Gandhi, he also revealed that Elizabeth was actually a trilogy and was waiting for Cate to age before making the third and final instalment, teasing the theme: “if you think you are divine, how do you face your own mortality?”

Finally, the floor was opened for questions which ranged from what it was like to work with Amrish Puri (a great deal of fun -Mogambo was based on a Shakespearian villain and Amrish was directed to perform as if he were scaring 12 year old children from a rural village) to whether Paani (Water) was still going to be made (it is – has not been shelved but Yashraj Films are no longer producing due to creative differences) to using women editors so that he can redress the gender balance in his cinema and ensure a male viewpoint does not dominate.

Wrapping up the talk, Shekhar elaborated on how films allow one to discover oneself in ways an individual is previously unaware of and the struggle of how to make something relevant to the self is where his source of creativity and inspiration lies. With a candid demeanour and lots of wisdom, Shekhar Kapur not only made for a fascinating speaker but also one of the highlights of LIFF 2016.

Bhushan Kumar is a film obsessed amateur fashionista who lives in London.You can read more from him at www.bogeyno2.wordpress.com or follow him on Twitter: @bogeyno2

For more about the London Indian Film Festival head over to their website or twitter feed!

Let us know what you thought of the review in the comment section below and do continue to check out Upodcast for more coverage of the LIFF!

For The Love of a Man Review LIFF 2016

The devotion some fans have towards their favourite superstars can be witnessed on a daily basis on many a Twitter thread but as this insightful film shows, the dedication some Rajnikanth fans have for him not only dictates the course of their lives but also has the potential to influence the world’s largest democracy, commanding a loyalty and devotion that an average public figure can only dream of.

Divided into three chapters with an introduction and epilogue, we see three different perspectives – one of a businessman/aspiring politician, a lookalike (who cheekily confesses he is actually a Kamal Hassan fan) and a family man who thinks nothing of mortgaging his wife’s jewellery to pay for a fan event whilst his wife struggles to make ends meet and care for her family. All are united by Rajnikanth who plays a central part in their lives; whilst the superfans seek to emulate and do what they think their idol would want them to do, the lookalike finds Rajnikanth may hold the key to his own dreams being realised.

The authorial voice is objective throughout, ensuring it never judges and tries to present a balanced viewpoint; explaining how Rajnikanth reinvented the hero for Tamil cinema from aristocratic model citizens to the working class man who had empathy and charisma, the creation of the superstar stemmed from a political movement that wanted to move people away from religion as their primary source of inspiration and in the process created a behemoth.

At the same time, Rajnikanth fans form an impressive community that look out for one another and pay back to society; organising food for underprivileged children, raising money and installing water tanks in villages as well as regularly convening to think up marketing for upcoming Rajnikanth films and ensuring the films always make their money back, showing a philanthropic side to the world.

For The Love Of A Man reminded me a lot of Being Salman Khan, a documentary which looks at Salman fans who are similarly obsessed with their idol. Both are sympathetic and try hard to show how these fandoms are an outlet for groups of men who feel this is a platform to express their masculinity on and truly is a fascinating world that is not what it appears to be on first glance. Moving and compelling in turn, For The Love Of A Man is worth a watch, whether you are a fan of Rajnikanth or not.


Bhushan Kumar is a film obsessed amateur fashionista who lives in London.

You can read more from him at www.bogeyno2.wordpress.com or follow him on Twitter: @bogeyno2

For more about the London Indian Film Festival head over to their website or twitter feed!

Let us know what you thought of the review in the comment section below and do continue to check out Upodcast for more coverage of the LIFF!

Song of Lahore Review LIFF 2016

Before we even start talking about Song of Lahore, do yourself a favour. Go and watch the following video.

This was the video that started it all. Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy and Andy Schocken’s Song of Lahore is a documentary that chronicles the surprising journey of an ensemble of classically trained Pakistani musicians – from the troubled streets of Lahore, to the their moving performance at Jazz at Lincoln Center, New York. It is moving, touching, and even educational as we the audience join the musicians of Sachal Studios as they embark on their quest for excellence.

For the first 20 odd minutes, I admittedly found myself struggling to find a focus in the material. Too many individuals were introduced into the narrative, without any context to explain to me why I should care about them. But before I could even begin to prematurely dismiss any story, I was hooked in by the sincerity in their music. It is by means of these different individual tales coming together cohesively in a flourishing moving music piece that the “Song of Lahore” blossoms into its own melody. Like the jazz music the documentary is centered on, Song of Lahore is about the unwavering spirit of these Lahore musicians coming together against all odds of oppression, religious fascism, and even tyranny that almost killed their existence.

Lahore has been one of the cultural landmarks of Pakistan, housing great musicians, artists, writers, poets and painters for thousands of years, until the late 70’s when Pakistan’s political atmosphere drastically shifted to become one of an Islamic republic. Since then, most art, particularly music, has been considered sinful. As a result, Pakistan’s once rich culture of art has diminished, as artists struggle to even make ends meet, and have resorted to doing other jobs. And yet, as Song of Lahore reminds us, the art hasn’t completely died – it has simply changed from being people’s careers to becoming a passionate hobby among those who are still trying hard to pass on their knowledge to the new generation, and even attracting new audiences by fusing traditional sounds with modern ones. Sachal Studios decides to drum up attention by posting a Youtube video playing Dave Brubeck’s Take Five with Pakistani instrumentation. The clip goes viral, and gives them the chance to perform in New York alongside Wynton Marsalis. Thus, the Sachal Jazz Ensemble is born.

Originally content to remain obscure bearers of the Pakistani musical heritage, this opportunity brings the Sachal Jazz Ensemble to gain worldwide attention and truly hit its stride. It is Sachal’s chance to finally find the recognition they’ve missed out on, and also shows how a love of music transcends any barrier. It is heart-warming to see these men who are clearly past their prime, with their withered faces and grey hair, and still smiling wide with a passion so infectiously inspiring. And at the same time it is heartbreaking to think of how they have been deprived of what could have been. Born into a family of musical geniuses, and in a broken nation that looks down upon art, it has not just deprived these musicians from their future; it has deprived their nation of endless possibilities and the world of music greats. As neighbouring India almost takes cultural freedom for granted and takes pride in its geniuses – be it Ustad Amjad Ali Khan, Ustad Zakir Hussain, Pt. Ravi Shankar, Pt. Shiv Kumar Sharma, or even A.R. Rahman, Pakistan has only lost this opportunity to nurture its talented sons and daughters. As the Sachal gang walk down Times Square and enjoys street performers, one of them comments – “They are poor musicians, just like us”. It hit me hard.

And then we see them singing “Country Roads, Take Me Home” with New York’s infamous Naked Cowboy. And it instantly brought a smile on my face, and surprised me how musical unity can come through in the most unpredictable of places.

The final performance at the Lincoln Center acts as the culmination of all their struggles and their pure and unadulterated love for music. Even with all the tension of rehearsals and adapting a new genre of music, the performance is sensationally tremendous, impactful, and echoes with applause. But I found it a little too short, as I was left wanting for more (I was quite relieved to find out that some of the performances are available online on Youtube). The performance provokes tears of both pride and relief. I was left dazzled by these courageous seniors, and the melody stuck in my head. I felt spiritually refreshed and joyous, and with eyes full of tears. The optimism is consistent in Song of Lahore‘s overall tone and interest in perseverance. I cannot recommend this enough.

Song of Lahore will stir you to the core.

A Song of Lahore is part a double bill by South Asia’s only double Oscar winning director Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy. Based in Karachi, her documentaries capture key social issues and great moments of contemporary Pakistani culture.

18 JULY | 18:30 | PICTUREHOUSE CENTRAL

Check out more of Sujoy‘s work at OneKnighStand and Bollypop!

For more about the London Indian Film Festival head over to their website or twitter feed!

Let us know what you thought of the review in the comment section below and do continue to check out Upodcast for more coverage of the LIFF!

AN EVENING WITH SHARMILA TAGORE LIFF 2016 Q+A

“Are my answers too long?” Sharmila Tagore asks halfway through her answer to the first question about her esteemed lineage (her great grandfather was responsible for bringing Cubism to India whilst her grandfather was the poet laureate Rabindranath Tagore). The truth is one could listen to Sharmila talking all night; eloquent, polished and engaging, whether it was recounting her time in regional cinema or as one of the reigning superstars at a time when art house and commercial cinema were two different worlds, this Q&A was full of amazing anecdotes and stories that as director Sangeeta Datta put it “evoked lost worlds“.

A large portion of the Q&A centred on Sharmila’s work with Satyajit Ray; after a clip from Apun Sansar (The World Of Apu) was shown (which also saw Sharmila rightly questioning why a subtitled version was not shown for all the non-Bengali speakers), she described in detail the direction she had been given and also quoted key dialogues, commenting how economical the words used were but their impact was devastating when delivered under Ray’s direction. A clip from her next film Devi was equally fascinating, especially when Sharmila pointed out they had been shown out of order and presented the context herself. Sharmila

However, it was her work in Hindi cinema in the 70’s that seemed to really get the audience interested – what it was like to work with Rajesh Khanna (did you know Roop Tera Mastana was shot in one take as they only had a few hours to shoot it in), Shammi Kapoor (unpredictable; he would do one thing in rehearsal and then improvise in the actual take) and how Deewana Hua Badal from Kashmir Ki Kali was the first song Sharmila lip synched to and found it challenging as Hindi was not her first language but living in Bombay helped her learn fast.

Then came questions from the audience which Sharmila took on with aplomb – praising Priyanka Chopra, Deepika Padukone, Kangana Ranaut and Vidya Balan when asked about current heroines whilst also reiterating she herself had taken roles where her characters had “agency till the end“. She also spoke about her recent visit to the Lahore Literary Festival as well as her time on the Censor Board, telling how she tried and failed to rebrand it as the CFBC rather than just the “censor board” as well as (in what was the line of the night) “politics divide but Hindi films unite“.

Finishing on the notion that “films are a wonderful profession” and how she had managed to juggle motherhood and work at a time when it was not the norm, one audience member commented how Sharmila was like a representative for women now as much as she was at the height of her star power. With an incredible body of work behind her, felicitated with Festival Icon Award as well as being invited to be a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, it will be interesting to see what Sharmila does next.

 

Bhushan Kumar is a film obsessed amateur fashionista who lives in London.

You can read more from him at www.bogeyno2.wordpress.com or follow him on Twitter: @bogeyno2

For more about the London Indian Film Festival head over to their website or twitter feed!

Cinemawala Review LIFF 2016

It does sound ironic that the film industry across the world has chosen digital media over film as its preferred future, even though it’s named after it. Much has been already said about this deviation, and only a select few filmmakers in the world continue their struggle to keep the torch burning. Digital media makes it easier for films to be released in more screens simultaneously, with a cleaner print and an almost flawless archiving process. It also has single-handedly spelt the doom for the art of film projection and the traditional single screen cinema which takes pride in that “larger than life” quality of the big screen. It is the struggle of letting go of this attachment to the glorious past that Kaushik Ganguly’s Cinemawala tries to explore. It brilliantly juxtaposes this struggle with the strained relationship between a father and his son. The parallel drawn between the two – the older generation set in their own ways and strict moral code, and the successor who just wants validation and success by all means, is brought to life by some brilliant performances.

 

The father of the Das family – Pranabendu Das, played exceptionally well by veteran Bengali actor Paran Banerjee, runs his family fish whole seller business with his only son Prokash (Parambrata Chatterjee, Kahaani). He also owns a failed single screen cinema, Kamalini, named after his separated wife. His cinema has seen better days, and along with his old confidante Hari, he dwells in the glorious days of the past – the days of Uttam Kumar, the days of CINEMA as it was meant to be. Prokash on the other hand, is the opportunist son, who reluctantly helps his father with the family business, but is more keen on making a quick buck by selling pirated DVDs. While Das senior’s life revolves around movies of the past, he realises that his son has a similar obsession, albeit an illegal way to be a “Cinema wala”.


There is a certain quality of ache and loneliness in Ganguly’s framing of the character of Pranabendu. And Paran Bandopadhyay just slips into this character effortlessly. His eyes and droopy face portray a defeated old man, who is struggling to give up what he holds so dear. His embarrassment from his own blood is painful to watch, and his love for cinema is inspiring. Parambrata plays the greedy son Prokash quite well, and at times can be quite slimy. Prokash’s wife played by Sohini Sarkar supports the two leads seamlessly. And there is even some comic relief. But my favourite character, surprisingly is Hori – played by Arun Guhathakurta. His loyal demeanour towards Pranab from the start reel makes one feel very attached to him. I won’t go into spoilers – but there is a scene where Pranab has sell of his big projection machines. Hori is cleaning it before the new owners come to pick it up, and he asks Pranab if he can spend some time with it alone. He has been in that projection room since he was 23, and to me it felt like Hori considered these machines to be his daughters, and now it’s time for their ‘bidaai’. It is a heartbreaking scene and I am sure there won’t be a single dry eye at the cinema when you watch it.

 

With the cinema industry finding newer ways to distribute movies, battling piracy and illegal downloads, and single screens becoming a thing of the past, what choice does the older generation have than to let go. The swan song of the single screens has not yet been sung, but people continue to be besotted by the swanky new multiplexes. Nostalgia is a dangerous thing. CinemaWala, in a not so subtle way, tries to pose this age old problem of accepting or resisting change. Go watch it, and give this piece of cinema a big hug. Cheers to the Golden Jubilee years!

Starring : Paran Bandopadhyay, Parambrata Chatterjee, Sohini Sarkar & Others
Presented by : Shrikant Mohta & Mahendra Soni.
Produced by : Shree Venkatesh Films
D.O.P : Soumik Halder
Art Direction: Dhananjoy Mondal.
Music & Background Score : Indraadip Dasgupta.
Edit : Subhajit Singha
Story, Screenplay & Direction : Kaushik Ganguly.

CinemaWala, directed by Kaushik Ganguly is playing at the London Indian Film Festival this weekend.

16 JULY | 18:00 | ICA

17 JULY | 18:00 | CINEWORLD WEMBLEY

Check out more of Sujoy‘s work at OneKnighStand and Bollypop!

For more about the London Indian Film Festival head over to their website or twitter feed!

Let us know what you thought of the review in the comment section below and do continue to check out Upodcast for more coverage of the LIFF!

Sultan Review: Bhaicot, Feminism and Muslim Superheroes Upodcast

For this week’s major Bollywood release Sultan, directed by Ali Abbas Zafar and starring Salman Khan and Anushka Sharma, we are joined by Sujoy (@9e3k)  and Anisha (@jhavanis) to  break down a myriad of topics:

We gingerly discuss the topic of “Bhaicot”
The stand out supporting characters
Diversity and inclusion in Bollywood
We discuss Pradeep Menon’s article about Anushka’s feminism which you can find here
Ali Abbas Zafar and the stable of YRF directors
Sultan’s soundtrack
Spoiler section
What are hopes are for Dangal

You can listen/stream/download the episode below.

Or subscribe to our feed in iTunes and never miss a show.

 

Te3n Review Upodcast

The team of Sujoy Ghosh (this time as producer) , Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Vidya Balan (switching roles as lead vs guest appearance)  that brought us one of the best Indian movies, Kahaani, of the last few years comes together again for Te3n.

The movie is set in Kolkatta and is a the remake of the Korean thriller Montage, but this time added with an amazing central performance by the living legend that is Amitabh Bachchan and directed by Rubhu Dasgupta.

Josh Hurtado from TwitchFilm joins us to break down if Te3n delivers on it’s promise, where it ranks in terms of recent Indian trillers as well as child abduction movies like Talaash and Ugly.

We keep the review spoiler free until the midway point, so if you haven’t seen the movie yet, we warn you in advance where to stop listening.

Do also check out our interview with the talented and wonderful Vidya Balan by clicking here.

Or some of our other interviews by going to the interviews tab.

You can listen/stream/download the episode below.

Or subscribe to our iTunes feed and never miss a show

 

Vidya Balan Talks Te3n Upodcast

We had the opportunity to speak with the amazingly talented Vidya Balan about Te3n which hits theaters today in the UK.

As usual on Upodcast we talk about the most random things:

Greed as an actor
Our theory that Vidya might be a superhero ninja
How hard it was for Sujoy ghosh to not direct the movie
Vidya reveals a little about Kahaani 2 and we pitch our ideas for Kahaani 3
How the ending of Te3n was kept secret from the cast

You can listen/stream/download the episode below.

Or you can subscribe to our iTunes feed and never miss a show.

If you enjoyed the chat, do take a moment to leave us a review on iTunes.

The Flash Season 2 Review Upodcast

The consistently amazing season of CW’s The Flash comes to an end and what a season it has been. In the episode the Upodcast team breaks down some of their favorite moments, why they are still surprised how much they ended up loving the show as a whole and what to hope/expect for Season 3 (which can’t come soon enough)

You can listen/download/stream our Upodcast below.

Or subscribe in iTunes and never miss a show again!

The Nice Guys Review Upodcast

Releasing this week in the UK, The Nice Guys stars Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe in a retro 70’s buddy action comedy like they used to make when Shai Hussain, our guest of this week, and I used to be a young men. Does Shane Black capture some of the magic of movies like Another 48 hours and Lethal Weapon?  Will the movie be able to find an audience squeezed between superhero franchises?

All that and more (like the guys that would make Shai question his sexuality) in this week’s episode of Upodcast.

Here’s the trailer and synopsis:

“The Nice Guys” takes place in 1970s Los Angeles, when down-on-his-luck private eye Holland March (Gosling) and hired enforcer Jackson Healy (Crowe) must work together to solve the case of a missing girl and the seemingly unrelated death of a porn star. During their investigation, they uncover a shocking conspiracy that reaches up to the highest circles of power.”

In UK Cinemas June 3, 2016

You can find more of Shai’s awesome work on http://www.shaihussain.com/

You can listen/download/stream the episode below.

Or subscribe to iTunes and never miss a show!

 

7th Bagri Foundation London Indian Film Festival and BFI Reveal 2016 Programme

Europe’s Largest South Asian Film Event, the Bagri Foundation London Indian Film Festival, now into year seven, returns to London, from 14 – 24 July, today announces the first raft of its programming with key festival partners BFI.

The full line up of the festival, which will be announced in June promises a schedule of some of the most prestigious and audacious new independent films from South Asia, and if the BFI Southbank schedule is anything to go by, this year, the Bagri Foundation London Indian Film Festival will certainly live up to its reputation of showcasing the most cutting edge films from across the Indian subcontinent.

The meticulously curated sessions with BFI Southbank include some spectacular talks by top talent including South Indian and Bollywood superstar Kamal Haasan, who gives a rare Screen Talk, and Director Shekhar Kapur, most famous for his multiple top tier award winning “Elizabeth” films, starring Cate Blanchett, as well as films that cover the linguistic nuances and cultural diversity of the Indian subcontinent.

A special “Women with a Movie Camera” debate supported by Sun Mark Ltd, will bring together some of South Asia’s greatest female filmmakers, including double Oscar®-winner Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, and Leena Yadav, whose critically acclaimed film “Parched” stole the show at TIFF. Audiences will have the opportunity to listen to trailblazers in their field, and also see their work first hand, with special screenings of their films at the BFI Southbank.

Never a festival to shy away from controversy, Indian sexual diversity is highlighted in the empowering transgender movie “I Am Not He… She”, about a teenage boy who comes to Bangalore with dreams of becoming a woman. Continuing to build on its reputation as the ‘punk-rock’ of Indian film festivals, the UK cinematic premiere of the irreverent Sundance hit, the Netflix original ‘In-Betweeners’ style, coming of age comedy “Brahman Naman” screens.

Commenting on the BFI Southbank sessions, director of the Bagri Foundation London Indian Film Festival, Cary Rajinder Sawhney states:

“We’re delighted that the festival gets such a great platform at the BFI Southbank, giving the broadest of audiences an opportunity to see world class Indian independent cinema and hear rare talks by top Indian stars and filmmakers in the UK’s cathedral of cinema. This is just a taster of what we have lined up in our seventh year, and we guarantee to not only show you entertaining films, but make you think and maybe even shock you”.


BFI Southbank Events & Screenings

FRI 15 JUL 20:30Brahman Naman (Directed by Qaushiq Mukherjee, 2016) / Onstage: Talent from the film

SAT 16 JUL, 18:20 – SPECIAL EVENT: Shekhar Kapur: A Life With Elizabeth / Onstage: Director Shekhar Kapur

SAT 16 JUL, 20:30 – SCREENING + Q&A: I Am Not He… She (BS Lingadevaru, 2015) / Onstage: Director BS Lingadevaru

SUN 17 JUL, 14:00 – SPECIAL EVENT: Kamal Haasan Screen Talk / Onstage: Actor Kamal Haasan

SUN 17 JUL, 15:00Women With A Movie Camera: A Life Less Ordinary: South Asian Filmmakers’ Debate / Onstage: a selection of female filmmakers

SUN 17 JUL, 17:30Arshinagar (Mirrorville) (Directed by Aparna Sen, 2015)

TUE 19 JUL 20:30Ramsingh Charlie (Directed by Nitin Kakkar, 2015)

 

– For more information on the festival please visit:

www.londonindianfilmfestival.co.uk

Captain America Civil War Review Upodcast

The third installment in Marvel’s Captain America franchise, Civil War, pits our superheroes against each other. Will our host be on different teams when reviewing this movie?

We keep it spoiler free until our spoiler warning towards the end of the show. We also talk about the new Dr. Strange trailer and make some comparisions with Batman V Superman Dawn Of Justice which seems to have dealt with some similar topics.

Captain America: Civil War hits UK theaters tomorrow, Friday April 29!

Listen/Download/Stream the episode below.

Or subscribe to our iTunes feed and never miss a show!

Ustad Rahat Fateh Ali Khan – The Greatest Hits Live at the O2

We’ve been having quite a few amazing acts lately at the O2 AR Rahman, Atif Aslam but we got very excited to hear that Pakistan’s most famous Qawwali singer Ustad Rahat Fateh Khan, the nephew of the late, world-renowned singer Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, will perform his greatest hits live for the first time at The O2 on Sunday 14 August 2016.

Tickets go on sale at 9am on Friday 22 April and are available at AXS.com or by calling 0844 856 0202 or from www.theo2.co.uk.www.theo2.co.uk.

The performance will coincide with Pakistan and India’s independence weekend celebrations and will be Ustad Rahat Fateh Khan’s only London show this year. Discussing his forthcoming show Ustad Rahat Fateh Khan said; ”I’m very excited to be performing at The O2, London, for the second time, following my sold out tour in 2013.

“Coming to the UK is always a thrill for me and my performance is timed to fit the Independence Day celebrations for both Pakistan and India. I have a fantastic team of musicians joining me and will be performing my greatest film hits and new material, as well as my esteemed Uncle, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s popular Qawwali numbers, to rock the arena.”

Ustad Rahat Fateh Ali Khan was chosen at birth by his uncle Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan for tutoring in the traditions of qawwali music, a form of Sufi devotional popular in South Asia. Six weeks after his uncle’s death in 1997, Rahat Fateh Ali Khan took his position as leader of the group and has since become one of the most talked about Pakistani artists in the world.

Ustad Rahat Fateh Ali Khan has performed on a variety of recordings, and his songs and vocals have featured in numerous hit Hollywood and Bollywood films including Bodyguard, My Name is Khan, Dabangg, Bajrangi Bhaijaan, Drishyam, the Hollywood film Apocalypto and many more.

The maestro has released over 50 albums with over 100 hits in Bollywood and has been presented with numerous awards including Star Screen Awards for Best Male Playback 2010 and the IIFA award for best male vocalist 2011. He has also been a judge on top TV shows in India such a Chhote Ustad and Junoon, Kuch Kar Dikhaane Ka. He was the headline performer at the Nobel Peace Prize Concert in 2014 and recently performed at the United Nations General Assembly Hall in March 2016.

In 2014, Ustad Rahat Fateh Ali Khan released his latest album ‘Back 2 Love’ which sold millions of copies worldwide.

The ticket will also include access to a variety of free live events and activities including Bollywood dance workshops, DJs, specially selected street food stalls and more.

The Jungle Book Review Upodcast

This week’s we join Jon Favreau on his re-imaginging of Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book in an updated CGI jungle bonanza.

Our guest this week is the overall awesome dude Dj Shai Hussain ( you can check out more of his work on www.shaihussain.com), who grew up watching the 60’s Disney version on repeat and Asim who has never seen it or read the book.

THE JUNGLE BOOK SWINGS INTO UK CINEMAS ON 15TH APRIL

As always you can download/stream/ listen to the podcast below

Or you can subscribe to our iTunes feed and never miss a show!

 

 

Batman V Superman Dawn Of Justice Review

We bring out the big guns for this one. Critically derided but a massive box office hit, where does the Upodcast team stand on Zack Snyder’s Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice which sorta a sequel to Man Of Steel but also a set up for the forthcoming DC Justice League Universe.

Joined by @Bollybrit and @9e3k we keep it low on spoilers (until minute 45) but high on profanity.

During the episode we talk about a deleted scene, if you haven’t seen it yet, here it is:

You can listen/download/ stream to the episode below.

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The Hateful Eight and X-Files Upodcast

A Tarantino way to start the new year and an obvious choice for UPOD.  The boys are back in the hotseat and talk about 2 highly anticipated events: the return of the X-files (are you under the age of 30?  Does the X-files mean anything to you?) after a seriously long lay-off and Quentin Tarantino’s snowbound epic The Hateful 8.

If you’re Martin you’ve now seen all of Tarantino’s movies in the cinema in January and are begging to see the full roadshow version on the biggest screen possible.  We talk about the merits of the 70mm Panavision screening whilst Ahmed is made to feel inferior for having to get by with such a small screen – thank you Belgian distributors…

From the wintry evil of The Hateful 8, UPOD turns its attention to the X-files.  Throwing you straight back into the action, the writers clearly didn’t fancy hanging around and throw the viewer back in to the action at a pace, using the world’s events in the past 15 years to enhance the paranoia of Mulder and Scully and take us in a slightly new direction with a 6 part mini-series.

You can listen/stream/download the episode below.

Or subscribe to us in iTunes and never miss an episode.

 

 

Kapoor & Sons Trailer Thoughts: Dysfunction is the new black!

The trailer for Kapoor & Sons just dropped and here are some free flowing thoughts whilst watching it:

  • Hey, at least Bollywood now accredits the internet when they steal a joke (looking at you Shahrukh)
  • Is this a Badshaah song? I don’t think i like Badshaah too much..
  • Glad someone switched Siddhart Malhotra’s setting from “brooding” to “happy”
  • Fawad Khan should grow his beard back…this chikna look isn’t working
  • The joys of watching fighting parents, Dil Dhadakne Do really started something in Bollywood…so deep….
  • Did Rathna Pathak just come back from a clown rave?
  • I know the make up in Kapoor & Sons is going to get lauded, but Rishi Kapoor looks like a burn victim
  • Are those the same eyes as the White Walker’s in Game of thrones?
  • ALIA BHATT in a DHARMA PRODUCTION??? WHHHHAAAT?
  • So is this Saajan mixed with Dil Dhadakne Do then?
  • Masturbation dance moves are always a laugh!
  • Do you even lift bro?
  • Spin the bottle always leads to tension and brooding…well it did back in the 70’s…
  • Isn’t there a Spin the Bottle app now? If not then must invent…
  • Sid is still not a good screamer unfortunately
  • Alia got some good cry face!
  • “Since 1921” makes it sounds like the movie has a weird tie up with Heinz’ Ketchup

Kapoor & Sons is in Theatres 18th March, 2016!

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Review: Airlift’s screenplay never takes off!

In one of the only emotional scenes of this movie, a very old Punjabi grandfather character (played wonderfully by the veteran Indian TV actor Arun Bali) speaks of the horrors of getting uprooted from what you once considered home, and being forced to leave everything behind. This scene is crucial in establishing why a certain Mr. Kohli (Kumud Mishra), a paper-pusher in the External Affairs Ministry Office, turns into one of the key figures in enabling the success of an impossible rescue mission. It is sad then, that Airlift, a movie based on true events of world’s largest civil evacuation could not evoke any further emotional hooks for me as a movie audience to remain invested or engaged. And yes, it even has a mini segment where we see the tricolour being hoisted and K.K. singing Vande Mataram. And even then, I did not participate in that moment of triumph. THAT is the biggest failure of the movie.

I am not for a single bit, attempting to undermine the real heroism of the true heroes who were involved in this rescue mission of 170,000+ Indians from war-torn Kuwait. I am in fact saying that a story as incredible as this deserves a much better movie than what it got in Airlift. It is a classic case of an ambitious director meeting an “out-of-their-league” story and getting overwhelmed by it. Writer-Director Raja Krishna Menon along with his team of writers have put up a screenplay which can be the equivalent of a college play on opening rehearsal day, with a very rough first draft of a scribble on a tissue paper acting as a script.

Airlift_Poster - INTERNATIONAL

 

The narrative tries to introduce several characters into the plot – from the ever so grouchy George Kutty (Prakash Belawadi – Madras Cafe, Talvar), the unnecessary Mr. Poonawala, and the somewhat simmering and confusing love story of Ibrahim (Purab Kohli – Rock On). But none of them ever have a sub plot as such. There is no distinct payback that we as audience get from these plot threads. The trunk of the story tree is the man who is front and centre in the poster – Akshay Kumar as Ranjit Katiyal. He is the Ship Captain who is reluctantly put in charge of the fate of 170,000+ Indians. And Akshay handles it as best as he can. But the screenplay again fails him.

In one of the scenes, Akshay’s wife played by Nimrat Kaur convinces him to go to the docks – because he is a negotiator. And there is hardly anything following that scene which highlights this very characteristic of Mr. Katiyal. On the other hand, there is a scene where Akshay goes gung-ho and attacks a bunch of check-point gunned security guards, and even manages to threaten them. It seemed like Katiyal was playing Akshay for that moment, and not the other way around. We are told of Rajiv Katiyal being a businessman through and through. But in the face of such hardships, there is hardly any conversation in the movie that is scripted as one that demanded special skills. The Iraqi General played by Inaamulhaq (Filmistan), is layered in poor and generic Middle Eastern accent, and is a character written as a caricature. And hence, there is no sense of threat or perhaps, we have all seen this done way better in many other movies and TV shows.

The female lead in the movie, Nimrat Kaur seemed like one of the stereotypical naggy Indian housewife for most of the movie. She’s pretty glammed up for a woman stuck in war-torn Kuwait. But I assume, the writers felt compelled to give her something more than just that. And by virtue of that, she gets one scene which showcases glimpses of the actor we liked so much in The Lunch Box.

But my biggest complaint from this movie, is that being titled Airlift, the movie spends a total of only 2 minutes speedily narrating about the mega-operation taken up by Air India who managed to “airlift” the 170,000+ Indians from Jordan. Perhaps, that wasn’t as exciting on paper as Akshay punching dudes in sandy desert. And let’s not even get started on that cringe-worthy remix of Khaled’s Didi .

This one is not even for a lazy matinee.

 

Airlift is directed by Raja Krishna Menon and stars Akshay Kumar and Nimrat Kaur (Homeland, The Lunchbox).

The film releases internationally on on the 22nd of January in the UK.

You can find more of Sujoy’s work on BollyPop or OneKnightStands or Follow him on twitter on @9e3K.

 

 

 

Wazir Review Upodcast

Wazir tells the tale of two unlikely friends – a wheelchair-bound chess grandmaster (Amitabh Bachchan) and an ATS officer (Farhan Akhtar). Both are brought together by grief and a strange twist of fate as part of wider conspiracy that has cast a dark shadow over their lives. Wazir is a pulsating thriller, a moving character study and a gripping revenge story.

This episode we are joined by Sujoy Singha, also known as @9e3k on twitter, where we try to be as careful as possible and not reveal anything that isn’t in the trailer or promo’s.

There is a spoiler warning from the 43 min mark, so if you haven’t seen the movie yet, you can still listen up that point.

For those have seen it, let us know what you thought of uPodcast in the comment section below.

You can listen/stream/download the episode below.

Or subscribe to us in iTunes and never miss an episode.

 

 

In the heart of the sea: review

Coming to get you

Coming to get you

Revealing the true story and inspiration behind Herman Melville’s Moby Dick, the new film from Ron Howard recounts the tale of the Essex, a whaling ship from New England. Based on a book by Nathaniel Philbrick, (in the heart of the sea: the tragedy of the whaleship Essex) the real-life maritime disaster is brought to life with a brilliant cast and a genuine attention to historical detail about life at sea on a whaler. I think it’s fair to say that there’s a cinematic elephant in the December room and that most other films will be in its shade. So what are you going to get from In The heart of the sea?

This is or ought to be, primarily about the dynamic between experienced first mate, Owen Chase (Chris Hemsworth) and the privileged but ingenue captain George Pollard (Benjamin Walker). Not much time is devoted to this which is a shame, however the depiction of life and conditions on board ship and the action shots – as much as can be deceived that way – more than compensate for this.

Once the tragedy to come becomes apparent, our attention is shifted towards the horrors of being lost at sea and tremendous physical, emotional and spiritual stresses the remaining crew are subjected to. Linking the pieces at sea, are scenes between Herman Melville (Ben Whishaw) and Tom Nickserson (Brendan Gleeson). This provides the link between the book Moby Dick and the actual gruesome events: Nickerson is 30 years older, having survived the ordeal at sea, but has become an alcoholic in his efforts to cope with the utter trauma he has been put through: recounting (reluctantly) the events to Melville, is a catharsis and long overdue.

Ultimately strongest when the camera captures the bursts of action and when close to the sea, In the heart of the sea provides a great antidote to the previously mentioned sci-fi elephant in the room and although not Ron Howard’s best movie, has more than enough to keep viewers’ interest and moves forward with sufficient pace that I was never bored.

Varun Dhawan and Kriti Sanon talk Dilwale with Upodcast

Rohit Shetty’s big release, Dilwale,  is just over a week away so ShahRukh Khan, Kajol, Kriti Sanon and Varun Dhawan were in town for a press conference.

Upodcast had the change to sit down with Varun Dhawan and Kriti Sanon and ask the questions that only a nerdy podcast like ours dares ask. (Like debating which Star Wars character Kriti Sanon is Chewbacca or R2D2)

The video of our interview is below but the podcast gives you a bit more behind the scenes gossip as well as the 5 things we learnt segment which quite a few of you like listening to.

Do give us a shout or RT or like if you’re enjoying the interview!

Dilwale is a family entertainer with a perfect blend of action, romance and comedy. The film is produced by Red Chillies Entertainments in association with Rohit Shetty Productions. The film will release on December18th 2015.

You can find our Student of the Year interview by clicking here!

After the press conference the stars headed over to Feltham for a meet and greet and here is some of the craziness that ensued:

BIG BIG BIG thanks to our awesome Twitter Friend @JessicaSisk for all the help on the video editing, we were lost without her! Give her a shout on twitter if you liked the video

You can Download/Stream/Listen to the Podcast episode below.

Spectre Review Upodcast

Bond is back business with the hotly anticipated SPECTRE, the latest in a long line of blockbusters in 2015.  Upodcasting casts its critical eye over the ghostly goings on of Daniel Craig, acting outside the control of British Secret Service for the first time since Timmy Dalton’s License to Kill way back when in 1989.

Sam Mendes and Daniel Craig reunite for the 4th instalment of the recent canon but have set themselves such a tough task to follow given the awesomeness of Skyfall.  Roles are recast and characters grow, but are we necessarily looking backwards or forwards in James Bond time-zone?  The various nods to Bonds gone-by lend a different feel to SPECTRE but do not detract from what is a fantastic film.  Naturally, at Upod, we don’t really agree on anything, so there is at least one dissenting voice in this podcast.

So, Daniel, if this really is your last outing as Britain’s most famous spy (that is terrible for undercover work of course), we salute you.  Bond has come a long way since Casino Royale (the noughties one) and in a short space of time and for that we thank you.  Perhaps the next most pressing question should indeed be, if it’s not be Daniel Craig next time, then who?

If you want to listen back to our entire Bond Retrospective, you can click here

You can listen/ stream/download the Spectre Review below

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Prem Ratan Dhan Payo London Press Conference

Last week Fox arranged a video conference with Salman Khan and Sonam Kapoor in London for the release of Prem Ratan Dhan Payo. Here are some excerpts of the Q&A session with the UK press.

 

Q/ WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT PRDP?

 Salman: I like the film’s nice, sweet, cute, ticklish moments. I like the film overall and how this really nice, happy, sweet film turns into this really emotional, beautiful, romantic love story which involves the family, brothers, sisters.

I think PRDP is Sooraj’s best work to date. What I see in the character of Prem is what every guy should be like with a girl, which is very difficult as you need to have a lot of patience to be “Prem” in real life. Prem is so endearing that every girl would want to marry someone like Prem. He’s somebody like … he’s actually Sooraj Barjatya! Trust me, Prem is Sooraj. In fact Sooraj likes to see that side in me but the problem is that I only don’t see that side in me in my real life. So Sooraj puts that on film.

Sonam

Q/ YOU HAVE WORKED WITH SOORAJ B. THREE TIMES BEFORE – HOW WAS THE EXPERIENCE WORKING WITH HIM THIS TIME?

Salman: Yes, it is. I just wish I could do another 4 or 5 films with Sooraj! I’m here in this industry only because of Sooraj Barjatya. A 19 year-old boy took a stand when he was directing his first movie, at a point in time when Rajshri Productions weren’t doing that well, to take on an actor who had already done a film that’s releasing before his film.

Sooraj had seen Biwi Ho To Aisi, and we all knew that I sucked in the movie, but despite that he took me on because he thought I was good in the screen test for the film. He went by his instincts and the gut feel of his sister Chanda and cousin Charu.

Sonam: you see Salman was always gorgeous looking…it’s because they had a crush on him!

Salman: well, they thought they saw something in me to suggest I would make it. I still don’t see what, how… I don’t even question it…let it go!

Sonam & Salman 4

 

Q/ THE MUSIC IS ABSOLUTELY AMAZING. WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE TRACKS FROM THE MOVIE?

Salman:  Mine is the title track – Prem Ratan Dhan Payo, and I like Jalte Diye, Jab Tum Chaho, Prem Leela and Aaj Unse Milna Hai

Sonam: Jalte Diye and Prem Leela are my favourite songs from the movie. I also like Aaj Unse Milna Hai as well – it’s a very beautiful, romantic song.

Q/ ANY FUNNY STORIES FROM THE FILMING? 

Salman:  We were working! It wasn’t supposed to be fun. You cannot make such a beautiful film whilst having fun; you need to be focused.

 Sonam:  It was a happy time – I think that’s the best way to describe it, we were very happy and content.

 

Q/ WHAT WAS YOUR MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT FILMING? WHAT’S THE BEST SCENE?

Salman: I think every single day was beautiful. Actually walking to the set was a really beautiful feeling. The set were so lovely that we didn’t mind shooting long hours. Sooraj actually is very particular about shooting long hours – he doesn’t like to shoot that many hours, even if the scene was not complete he used to say, let’s leave it now and we’ll continue tomorrow, even if we were like no let’s do it now.  You see, it’s a very large-scale film; in every frame there were like hundreds of people, there was a regal theme, which also made it a very expensive film. Each day costs the production 45, 50 lakhs so when Sooraj said let’s pack up and continue the scene tomorrow, it seriously took a lot of courage.

 Q/ YOU HAVE ALWAYS HAD A VISION FOR THE TYPE OF ROLES YOU WANT TO PLAY. IS PREM RATAN DHAN PAYO THE BIGGEST PAYOFF OF THAT SORT OF CONVICTION?

 Sonam: Yes, I think that’s what it is. I think you are absolutely right. After I did Mausam, I gave my heart and soul to that and after it didn’t do very well, I didn’t sign a movie for a year and a half. Then I decided to sign Raanjhanaa – everyone around me said I was stupid but I decided to stick to my conviction. But I stuck to my guns. You’re absolutely right that this is the payoff for being patient and handling my life with dignity.

Q/ WHAT YOU ARE DOING ON YOUR INSTAGRAM PAGE IS A GREAT WAY OF MARKETING PREM RATAN DHAN PAYO. WAS THAT YOUR IDEA OR WAS IT SOMETHING YOU DISCUSSED WITH THE MARKETING TEAM? 

Sonam: Okay, I’m going to tell you a secret, when I spoke with the marketing team at Fox, they mentioned that people were finding the title Prem Ratan Dhan Payo a bit of a mouthful. They told me we needed to come up with a really fun and genius way to talk about the film a lot. So, there was this really cute guy who did this dubsmash on Prem Ratan Dhan Payo and I thought let’s put this up on instagram and maybe people would be excited about doing dubsmash. I thought it would be cool so I put it up and people really liked it a lot. And then a friend from New York told me to call a competition and to get the 5 best dubsmashes on Instagram – I did just that. There were lots and lots of people who did the dubsmash. It was easy to do and people loved doing the dubsmash as it has a great rhythm. Salman did one too, but he didn’t do it for long.

My aunt Sridevi also did one with Shilpa Shetty.  She loves me so much! I remember when I was just becoming an actress, she sat down with me and showed me how to do make-up really patiently for like hours and hours really patiently. I think she was extremely kind to have promoted me and the film. I’ve known Shilpa for a very long time and they had done the dubsmash at my home whilst I was away on promotions for the film. Once they did it they put it up on Instagram and I got a message from Shilpa saying to go on Instagram to see what we’ve done!Sonam & Salman 3

Q/ HOW DIFFERENT IS THIS PREM COMPARED TO ALL THE OTHER PREMs THAT YOU HAVE PLAYED? 

Salman: Prem is my favorite character too. I think this Prem is lovelier; he’s a grown man but a very childlike. Sooraj has written this character. He has always been a mature man and romance has also grown in his life ten folds. He was always a mature filmmaker starting his career at the age of 19. He wrote Hum Apke Hain Kaun at the age of just 22 and made the film when he was 24, and there is no man as mature as Sooraj Bharjatya.

The way he has written this character, he basically wants men and boys to be like Prem; he wants to change the way they are and to change this for women in the world. He wants men to be funny and charming but to also be respectful to women.

Q.YOU HAVE A GREAT SENSE OF STYLE. HOW SIMILAR ARE YOU FROM YOUR CHARACTERS IN REAL LIFE. 

Sonam: I don’t think I’m similar to any of the characters that I played, I mean I’m definitely not a princess.

 Salman: Yes she is a princess because her father spoilt her.

Sonam:  I’m not spoilt! (she laughs). No, answering your question…I don’t know, I hope I’m inspired to be someone with that much conviction and I try and do whenever I can to be like that. Perhaps there’s a little bit of me in every character.

Salman: I think she’s got it in Prem Ratan Dhan Paya … I remember when Sooraj was showing me pictures of a lot of leading actresses and each and every picture that Sooraj showed me of Sonam were absolutely stunning. He showed me all the picture when she was at her worst test, and she looked like the way she looks now, so that is one quality that he saw in her, and he said this is the lady for my film. This is something that I want.


Q/ SONAM, HOW DID YOU FEEL WHEN YOU FIND OUT YOU WERE GOING TO WORK WITH SALMAN? WHAT IS IT YOU MOST LIKE ABOUT EACH OTHER PROFESSIONALLY AND EACH OTHER’S PERSONALITY? 

Sonam: I was very nervous, like really nervous. It’s not easy working with someone who you’ve been a huge fan of. Also it’s not easy because before Salman, I had never worked with a big star like him before. It’s usually been contemporaries. I was nervous but he really made me feel comfortable.

The best thing about him professionally is that he is the most hardworking actor that I worked with, he pushes himself and he is extremely talented. He’s also very modest. Also, professionally it’s easier to work with someone who doesn’t judge you in anyway. I remember when I was messing up he’d come and tell me really nicely, he has a lot of patience.

Salman: That is true, when you need to get some good work out of a bad actor you need to be patient JJ

Q/ WE HEAR THAT YOU ARE PLAYING A DOUBLE ROLE IN THE FILM?  

Salman: Yes I am playing the roles of Vijay Singh and Prem – but if I open up too much about the characters I will spoil the suspense. But what I can say is that both the characters are phenomenal.

PREM RATAN DHAN PAYO releases this Diwali on 12 November 2015

Anupama Chopra Talks Jio Mami Upodcast

We got the chance to speak with Anupama Chopra, Festival Director, 17th Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival With Star India about why these movies and the festival is important, which movies you should watch out for and how they dealt with some of the issues that happened during last year’s festival.

Listen/download/stream the episode below

JIO MAMI VISION 2015

The Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival is an inclusive movie feast. We showcase the latest cutting-edge, independent cinema – art house fare alongside genre movies from Bollywood and Hollywood and cult international movies. We offer the best of world cinema to the people of Mumbai and we offer the best of Indian cinema to the world. The festival is run by the Mumbai Academy of Moving Image popularly known as MAMI. This is a space where we revel in the sheer pleasure of cinema, the joy it gives us and how much it enhances our lives. The goal is to nurture and ignite a passion for movies. We want Jio MAMI to be shorthand for excellence in cinema.

 

ABOUT JIO MAMI

Mumbai – the financial capital of India is also the epicentre of the Indian film industry. The city plays such a major role in production and dissemination of Indian films and television programmes that it is widely known by its acronym ‘Bollywood’. In 1997, a group of film industry stalwarts headed by late Hrishikesh Mukherjee founded the Mumbai Academy of Moving Image (MAMI) as a not-for-profit Trust. Their main objective was to organise an annual International Film Festival which the film industry and the country could be proud of. MAMI has been organising the festival for the last 16 years and aims to foster a climate of good cinema. MAMI engages people from all walks of life across the city and country who enjoy and love good cinema. It is Mumbai’s only film festival that is entirely created and run by film professionals and a group of members from corporate India. Appreciation of good cinema, stripped off all the limiting labels of art and commercial, can only come about through exposure to the best of films the world has to offer. The Festival is the first step in that direction.

 

In their Mission Statement in 1997, the MAMI Board of Trustees said, “We feel it is the need of the hour to disseminate and inculcate good cinema among Indian audiences. The only way to achieve this is to celebrate cinema by hosting an International Film Festival in Mumbai, India ‘s film and entertainment capital. MAMI (Mumbai Academy of Moving Image) is committed to start Mumbai’s first independent international film festival organized by practicing film makers.”

 

For more information on MAMI and the upcoming 17th Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival scheduled to be held from 29th October- 5th November 2015, do visit our MAMI Website, Twitter handle, Facebook Page, Instagram and YouTube as follows:

 

Website: www.mumbaifilmfestival.com #MAMI2015Twitter:/mumbaifilmfestFacebook: /mumbaifilmfestival Instagram: /mumbaifilmfestival YouTube: Mumbai Film Festival

The Martian Book Vs Movie Upodcast

This episode we visit Mars with Matt Damon and stick around longer than intented. Together with Paresh (from the CurrySmugglers)  and Anandini (from Bollystalgia) both card carrying space geeks, we talk about Ridley Scott’s latest offering and especially how it compares to Andy Weir’s best seller, from which the movie is adapted.

We discuss the emergence of space movies, rank them and even come up with plans to re-ignite Nasa’s space program.

You can download/stream or listen to the episode below.

Or subscribe in iTunes and never miss a show!

 

Quantico Ep 1 & 2 Upodcast Review

Priyanka Chopra US TV debut Quantico is a big deal! So much so that we needed to dedicate an hour just to dissect the first 2 episodes.

We’re joined by Jay also known as @Bollybrit (Nominated as a finalist in the Best Blog Category at this year’s Asian Media Awards!) who is a pretty big Priyanka Chopra fan and of course Martin who saw her in our first ever Upodcast episode of Kaminey but had lost any recollection of seeing the movie.

We talk about why Quantico is important from a diversity perspective as well as stepping stone for Bollywood. We review the first 2 episode in more detail, speak about the general intrigue, the action set pieces and how it stacks up to contemporary shows like Scandal and How to Get Away from Murder.

We wrap up the podcast by talking about which level of Bingeability the show has and which other actors could possibly make the jump to Hollywood too.

Check out more of Jay’s work on his blog on www.BollyBrit.com

You can listen/stream or download the episode below.

Or subscribe to our iTunes feed and never miss a show.

Narcos and Irrational Man Upodcast Review

This episode we talk about the new Woody Allen movie, an Irrational Man and the  Netflix Original Series, Narcos.

Of course, Woody isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but Asim has a strange relationship with the director (OK, it’s not THAT strange) – preferring the films that don’t win critical approval to those that do.  Case in point:  Blue Jasmine = yes from Martin but no from Asim, Magic in the Moonlight = yes from Asim, but no from Martin.  We will set the record straight however

Narcos on the other hand, is an entirely different beast.  Drawing on the life and times of perhaps the world’s most infamous drug dealer – Pablo Escobar – of all time (he was so good, dealer just doesn’t do him justice) Narcos gives a pretty unsensationalist depiction of the rise and ultimately fall of the modern drug lord archetype.  Great use of library footage, mixed with original script and solid performances all round really gives the three of us something to talk about.

You can download/stream the episode below.

Or subscribe to iTunes and never miss a show!

 

On a completely seperate note:  check out our friend’s at Wandererz and their awesome Frenchtravel blog!

 

Brothers Review Upodcast

This week’s episode FilmiGirl and Asim square off in the octagon to break down Karan Malhotra’s Akshay Kumar- Siddarth Malhotra starrer Brothers.

Although a massive success at the Box Office, Akshay Kumar movies tend to be critically derided, together we try to analyse why that is?

We compare how this Bollywood remake of Gavin ‘O Connor’s Warrior stacks up, if the trend of remaking Hollywood properties to Indian sensibilities is a reliable formula?

We also delve into if the movie is a successful follow up to Karan’s previous release, Agneepath that was one of our personal favourite movies of 2012.

Taking many tangents we wrap up the show by talking about the movies that Filmigirl missed this year and should catch up on as well as what else is coming out in Bolly-theaters this year.

You can listen/stream/ download the episode below. Or subscribe to our iTunes feed and never miss an episode!

AR Rahman Greatest Hits at the O2 Review

NickyKelvin-0112For India’s Independence Day AR Rahman, held a concert at the O2 Arena to a sold out crowd, accompanied by an orchestra of musicians, singers, table players and qawwalli’s.

The concert was dubbed as « The Greatest Hits of AR Rahman » and whilst driving to the venue, it made me ponder: how can one compound Rahman’s oeuvre into a single sitting?

His musical portfolio is ginormous! In the 23 years of his career, he’s composed over 100 soundtracks for the various regions of Indian cinema, as well as performed stage shows, private albums and dabbled in Hollywood, (If winning an Bafta, a golden Globe,2 Grammies and 2 Academy Award can be called dabbling) whilst never compromising on the quality of his music. (Take that Dr Dre!)

And all this whilst jumping from one genre to the other and mastering pretty much all of them. (I’m a hip hop head and his mastery of rap has been weak since Patti Rap)

When Rahman debuted on the Bollywood scene in the 90’s, Hindi audiences had heard murmurings of some of his offerings down South with Roja and Kadalan (Hum Se Hai Muqabla) dominating video charts.

The music scene was much more fractured and isolated in the 90’s and there wasn’t ever a need to importing talent from another region. If movie producer or music director liked a tune, they just copy pasted wholesale and had the son resung by another local singer and no question was asked. This even happened to some of AR Rahman’s early songs, there were at least 4 Hindi versions of Muqabla floating on the airwaves at the same time.

But Rahman’s talent was such that his unique voice could not be denied. His music has always felt very personal, making the audience feel a sense of misplaced ownership. But sitting in a jam packed arena, I understood, I wasn’t the only one that felt this ownership over « my» AR Rahman. AR, like any musician, understands that his music is not his anymore once it is released to the airwaves but belongs to a collective that needs to be fed.

He tried to deliver on the expectations his audience has with him, he managed to partly on the promise despite some production mistakes.

Javed Ali started things off with a very soulful rendition of Delhi 6’s Arziyan, which seemed to be a prayer to kick off the concert as well as salutation to the audience.

Arziyan was followed up with a selection of classic hits like Chinna Chinna Aasai /Choti si Aasha (Roja), which was in 2 different languages sung by the wonderful and ever present Jonita Ghandi, the seemingly demure Shashaa Kiran Tirupati and the vastly under-used vocal powerhouse that is Neeti Mohan.

NickyKelvin-0181

Tu Hi Re was the sole pick from the Bombay soundtrack (I was hoping for so many more like Satrangi Re of Jiya Jale but alas) by Haricharan who managed to command the song in 2 different languages versions – whilst doing a pretty good Hariharan impression. Then came Dil Se’s title track sung by AR himself as he duelled Natalie Klouda, his wonderful violinist on the piano, which was an amazing spectacle.

The next half hour block was mostly from AR Rahman’s South Indian and private albums, which unfortunately for most of the Hindi audience in attendance felt like watching other people have lots of fun whilst they had a glazed expression over their eyes. Some audience members even started grumbling quite vocally and this might have been the only dip in the otherwise amazing set.

Some of the production choices were very odd, the first half ended abruptly and there was confusion if there was going to be an interval or not, the audience was left to their own devices, which is never a great choice with a South Asian audience. This happened again at the end of the show, there was a definite lack of cues and the band just disappeared without an encore.

The confusing interval ended up lasting only a couple of minutes, the curtain suddenly went up and AR and Jaaved Ali had donned their qawalli hats and tablas for the double whammy of the hypnotizing Kun Faya Kun (Rockstar) and soulful Khwaja Mere Khwaja (Jodha Akbar). Unfortunately some the magic of the Sufi segment was broken by the part of the audience hurriedly running back to their seats with still very wet hands from their bathroom visits.

  Kun Faya Kun Kun (Rockstar): The Qawalli interlude at #ARRahmanAtTheO2   A video posted by asimburney (@asimburney) on

Khwaja Mere Khwaja (Jodha Akbar): Qawalli interlude #ARRahmanAtTheO2 @TheO2 #TheO2

A video posted by asimburney (@asimburney) on

Always being a trailblazer, AR wanted to showcase a movement based instrument but technology failed the crew twice, forcing AR to climb back behind his piano and nervously entertain the audience with impromptu tunes. When they managed to get the tech to work, you realized it was supposed to be background vocalist IsshrathQuadhre time into the limelight but unfortunately for her and the audience the moment had passed.

From then on there was a clear course correction and the hits and performances were non stop, Neeti Mohan brought energy with her RE RE segment (Rangeela Re and Jiya Re) but overall she felt a bit underused compared to Jonita who pretty much dominated the pre-interval as well as jiggy-ing in group songs and some Hindi too. Jonita is a wonderful stage presence and very versatile, definitely one to look out for. Same for Karthik who was an absolute crowd favourite amongst the South Indian and clearly a born showman but only made a fleeting appearance and didn’t sing any Hindi songs. NickyKelvin-8667

During the different sets, AR Rahman would change get ups, some with hilarious combinations like a sparkly hat paired with a biker jacket or in the case of the bluesy Jaane Tu Ya Jaane na, he wore sunglasses like he was Ray Charles from Chennai, luckily the music always delivered and the powerful voice and jazz scatting of background vocalist Annette Philip’s really stepped up to the plate.

The show provided every member of AR Rahman’s band to shine too. The ones that really stuck out were Naveen Kumar’s flute during the Roja interlude, Mohini Dey’s bass (a 19 year old prodigy part of AR Rahman’s band NAFS who is also rumoured to be collaborating with Quincy Jones), Ranjit Barot’s drum and Keba Jeremiah Arul’s guitar solo’s during a very rocky rendition of Nadaan Parindey.

Ultimately the show couldn’t possibly have delivered on every song that a demanding fan might want of AR Rahman’s as we are a spoiled bunch now and even if combining sets from all languages didn’t always works as well as one would hope. What the show does give you is an evening with an artist of the likes only comes around once in a century, and as an audience member, that seems like the highest privilege.

Photo Credit: Nicky Kelvin

For more badly shot videos you can head over to my Instagram here

 

 

 

 

Marvel Phase 2 Review Upodcast

This time we’re attempting to unpick and unravel the ever expanding Marvel universe of superheroes and shine a light on what was previously a sub-genre restricted to Superman and Batman and therefore DC.

All levels of geekdom are catered for, ranging from the casual viewer / person best representing his parents’ generation through to the fully formed, limited edition boxset-buying expert and whatever lies in between!

On the show we are joined by Paresh from the CurrySmuggler and Sujoy AKA @9e3k from Bollypop.in and OneKnightStands.

With phase 2 completed for Marvel, what else remains? Certainly a bit of a fight back from DC, whose Batman v Superman hits screens next year

    • Could it be possible that we have (at least for the moment) hit saturation point with Marvel?
    • Have we indeed hit “peak Marvel”?
    • It’s worth consideration and not without some pitfalls along the way: where are the female led characters such as Black Widow and Wasp going to end up, how are they being portrayed?
    • What becomes of Hulk, Spiderman and the re-booted Fantastic Four- how the hell do they fit in?

We preview Marvel’s phase 3 and tell you what’s coming, what’s hot and what’s possibly not!

You can also join the game of best scene from the various phase 2s and tell us where we all went wrong…there’s NO WAY that’s the best scene, they cannot be serious!

Listen/Subscribe/ Stream the episode below.

Or Subscribe in iTunes and never miss a show!

Me and Earl and The Dying Girl featurette: ‘This is Where We Explain The Story’

Winner of the Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Award at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, ME AND EARL AND THE DYING GIRL is a uniquely funny and moving story about Greg, a high school senior who avoids deep human relationships as a way to safely navigate the social mine field that is teenage life. In fact he describes his best friend Earl, with whom he makes short-film parodies of classic movies, as being ‘more like a co-worker’. But when Greg’s mum insists he spends time with Rachel – a girl in his class who has just been diagnosed with cancer- Greg discovers just how powerful and important true friendship can be.

Me And Earl And The Dying Girl Poster

Director: Alfonso Gomez-Rejon
Cast: Thomas Mann, Olivia Cooke, R.J. Cyler with Nick Offerman, Molly Shannon, Jon Bernthal and Connie Britton

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl releases into UK cinemas 4 September 2015.

 

Akshay Kumar Brothers Press Q&A

Why is this film important to you?

This movie is very close to my heart, it means a lot to me, especially because it is a movie about Martial Arts, which makes it even more important for me. The movie is releasing in August this year, which also co-incides with me completing 25 years in the film industry and it means so much to me that this happens to be a movie about Martial Arts commemorating the accomplishment of my 25 years, when it’s because of my martial arts background that got me into the film industry in the first place. We’re mliterally going full circles.

 

Could you please tell me more about the character you’re playing in “Brothers”?

My character is a school teacher who teaches Physics and Chemistry. He used to be Mixed Martial Artist who would fight on the streets for money. Mixed Martial Arts is a very dangerous profession and due to issues monetary issues, my character faces he has no choice but to go back to the streets to flight in a professional tournament.

How was your experience working with Karan Johar?

Karan is mainly in the production side for this movie so I don’t really get to work with him much. But he really knows how to make big and brilliant movies; he knows how to do it right and I’m just here to make him happy 🙂

 

Mixed Martial Arts sounds dangerous!

Yes, Mixed Martial Arts is a dangerous practice that could result in injuries and loss of life. Even during filming we would end up with abdominal injuries and smacks on our face but overall it was important for the role to look realistic and conditioning for us actors to make the movie as real as possible.

Desipte being a professional martial artists, I underwent vigorous training for six months to be fit for the role. But besides all the fighting, there’s also a poignant love story at the heart of the film which we find out later is the main reason why my character goes on to become a street MMA fighter.

What all was involved in the training for the role?

The main part of the training was a 6 month intense and gruelling work-out followed by practicing different fighting styles like Judo, Karate, Kyudo, Aikido and other Mixed Martial Arts.

What was the most challenging part of your role?

The most challenging part was fighting like a professional MMA fighter, learning from the best and then trying to catch up with their fighting techniques! But I thoroughly enjoyed it as my teachers are from everywhere around the world – from Brazil, LA, Bangkok and Japan – they are true MMA fighters. It was an honour to learn fromt the best.

As part of our training programme I had to lose upto 16 Kg’s and Sidharth Malhotra had to gain 13 Kg’s in weight!

Whilst fighting was a major physical challenge, we also had to face a lot of mental challenge. A very high level of mental attention is required to remember your punches and every move.

Wow that must have been a challenge! Do you ever take a break?

Hah, its been 25 years and I haven’t had a break J Jokes a part my international filming schedulre becomes a break for me. Its the best thing if your work is your passion in life. It makes me feel like I’m always on break.

How was it working with Sidharth Malhotra?

Sidharth is a very talented young man; he is very professional when it comes to work. Although he had no experience with MMA he did really well. He also went through 8 months of training.

Sidharth has a great future ahead of him. In Brothers he plays the character of a “man” unlike his ealier movies, where he’s mostly played young characters.

We had a great time on set. He’s a Punjabi, I am Punjabi and even our director Karan Malhotra is Punjabi! We spoke in Punjabi all the time to the degree the film should have been called Prah (Brothers in Punjabi). Haha.

Do you have some MMA tips or warnings for your fans out there?

Mixed Martial Arts is wonderful to watch, it is very parctical but dangerous at the same time. You have to be very careful when doing something like that. Watch and enjoy MMA, and if some people are thinking about doing it, they must be very careful and think about enrolling in training first, they must make a thoughtful decision before actually doing it.

There are lots of talks going on about the movie everywhere, you must’ve done an amazing job. Infact I was researching about the movie right before this interview and I found out that the movie is a remake of the movie “Warrior” by Gavin ‘O Connor and Cliff Dorfman, I believe you will put forward an amzaing performance, maybe better than the original?

Well that’s news to me but very humbling to hear. We have tried our level best to give the best performance we can. I wouldn’t really compare the two movies to be honest as we probably can’t make it better than the original but we gave it all we could. Let’s see what the audience says.

The movie has a wonderful cast, we also have an “item-number” performance by Kareena Kapoor. Sidarth Malhotra and Jackie Shroff also play lead roles.. Is there a love story somewhere in the story line?

Absolutely, there is a love story in the movie. I mean the movie is about street fighting, but there’s a reason to why the fighting happens in the first place which emenates from love. You will get to know that there’s a love story between Jacqueline Fernandez and I, there’s also a family related love story between Jackie Shroff and Sidharth and also between Shefali and I. The fighting comes later on in the movie, the film’s main emphasis is on it’s relationships.

Akshay, what’s your favourite genre of movies? I mean you’ve done many different types of roles in different movies, which one is your favourite? Is it comedy, drama or action?

I like comedy when its mixed with action, its just so much fun to do comedy with a bit of action, its fun to watch and also so much fun to do.

So the movie is releasing on the 14th of August this year, which is just one day prior to the Indian independence day, does the movie have a hidden message of patriotism or any message relating independence of India?

No, no, there’s no patriotic messages, the movie is not related to the independence day and it does not end with me waving a flag J

How has it been working with so many Karan’s in the movie? The director is Karan Malhotra and Karan Johar is producing the movie? Is there more Karan’s you’ll work with in the future?

Ha, no that’s just a co-incidence, it was not planned to be like that.

What are your next projects?

My focus is on the release of Brothers. After that I have Singh is Blinng coming out on the 2nd October and then Airlift in January 2016. In Singh is Blinng i play a larger than life character, something I haven’t done in a couple of years since Rowdy Rathore. My films have been pretty serious with Gabbar, Baby, Special 24. I’m really excited about Airlift as it is a story about Saddam Hussein’s attack on Kuwait.

What is your hope for Brothers?

I hope it brings in the mullah and gets the box office ringing whilst also gaining critical acclaim.

Your final message to your fans please!

I would just like to tell my fans how much it means to me to make a movie that they like. I really hope all my fans like Brothers. I would also like to tell them that the movie took about one whole year to make, we literally put our blood, sweat and tears into the making. The climax of the movie took about 52 days to shoot, just to get it perfect for the audience. All the fans across the globe should watch this movie on the big screen, watch it with your family and loved ones, do not watch pirated versions of it, we poured out our sweat and blood into this movie.

 

***

Synopsis:

Gary Fernandes (Jackie Shroff), a former alcoholic and street-fighter, returns home after serving a prison sentence of 10 long years to find that the wounds of the past still haunt his family. His two sons, David (Akshay Kumar) and Monty (Siddharth Malhotra), who had parted ways as kids, are grown men now, but are still bitterly estranged. Gary himself carries the burden of his guilt. His elder son, David is an ex-fighter turned school teacher.  He and his wife Jenny work hard to make ends meet and to provide the best they can for their ailing daughter Poopoo.

 

Troubled financial circumstances drive a desperate David to return to the world of street fighting. While, Monty struggles with his lonely complex existence. An alcoholic, he is active in the world of street fighting, but lacks focus and determination. He strongly yearns for the acceptance, love and respect of his family. As the story unfolds, we see the journey of these three men, as they seek to find redemption and healing.

 

Meanwhile, the arrival of ‘Right to Fight’ is announced in India — the biggest international event in mixed martial arts history. Both brothers, at the crossroads of their lives, end up enlisting to fight in this ‘Winner-takes-all’ event. And it is here after an age of estrangement, unknown to the two siblings, they finally stand to face off with each other and against their personal demons, in the ultimate final battle.

 

It is said, that when a deep injury is done to us, we can never recover until we forgive. With twists and turns, pouring emotions and edge-of-the-seat action, will this final battle between the two brothers repair old wounds?

Brothers releases internationally on 14th August 2015 through Fox Star StudiosIndia.

Win Jaanisaar’s soundtrack on CD!

People have been raving about the music of Muzaffar Ali’s Jaanisaar for a while now and here is your chance to win 1 of 3 CD’s of the soundtrack with Upodcast.

 

To win a copy:

1. Like us on Facebook and Follow us on Twitter:

2. Send us an email on upodcasting@gmail.com with the answer to the following (dead easy!) question:

Which 1981 Bollywood film did the ‘Jaanisar’ director Muzaffar Ali direct?

A. Muqaddar Ka Sikandar

B. Umrao Jaan

C. Silsila

(Winners will be announced Tuesday 12/8)

(Only UK entries apply -but if you’re nice and I like you, I might make an exception!)

Jaanisar stars Pakistani actor Imran Abbas and one of India’s leading style icons and fashion entrepreneurs Pernia Qureshi.

Playback singers for the soundtrack of the film have some of the most celebrated singers of the music industry like Abida Parveen, Shreya Ghoshal and Sukhwinder Singh. Music is by Muzaffar Ali as well as Ustad Shafqat Ali Khan. It truly has some great music.

It’s pretty much the type of music you should be listening to instead of whatever guitly pleasure is looping on your playlist now!

Jaanisaar is in theaters this Friday!

Win 2 VIP tickets for AR Rahman’s London O2 Show!

The double Grammy and double Oscar, BAFTA and Golden Globe winner, AR Rahman returns to The O2 after five years, with a one off greatest hits show on Saturday 15 August 2015. AR Rahman will be joined by very special guests including; Haricharan, Neeti Mohan, Javed Ali, Jonita Gandhi, and many more.

You have the chance to win 2 exclusive VIP tickets* including:

•    Access to The prestigious O2 VIP lounge
•    Access to the After Party at Brooklyn Bowl

For a chance to win, follow us on our FB page or Twitter and us a mail on Upodcasting@gmail.com  with the answer to:

What was the name of the first soundtrack composed in Hindi  by AR Rahman for a Bollywood movie?

Final Entry dates are 10th of August.

*(food, drink, parking & travel are not covered)

Tickets and limited VIP Packages go on general sale at 9am on Friday 12 June and are available at AXS.com or by calling 08448 24 48 24. Tickets are also available via www.chillitickets.comwww.seetickets.com and www.biggreencoach.co.uk

Discussing his forthcoming UK show of the year AR Rahman said; “The UK always brings back fond memories of working on landmark projects in my career and it’s good to be back again after five years.”

The announcement follows a hugely successful intimate American tour and saw AR Rahman, performs in multiple concert halls. Throughout the US, the tour received standing ovations and critical acclaim.

Working in India’s various film industries, international cinema and theatre with the hit show Bombay Dreams, produced by Andrew Lloyd Webber, Rahman, has sold more than 100 million records of his film scores and soundtracks worldwide, and sold over 200 million albums. He is one of the world’s all-time top selling recording artists, with consistent chart-toppers across multiple continents.

In 2009 TIME magazine listed him as one of the world’s most influential people and cited his first album, Roja among the ”10 Best Soundtracks” of all time. Best known for his score and songs in Slumdog Millionaire, Rahman has worked on more than 100 films, among them the Oscar nominated Lagaan, Bombay, Dil Se, Rang De Basanti, Rockstar, Jab Tak Hai Jaan, Raanjhanaa, O Kadhal Kanmani, Enthiran (Robot), Fox’s 127 Hours by Danny Boyle, Disney’s Million Dollar Arm and The Hundred-Foot Journey.

He is working on a composition for the film Pelé, a biopic on the Brazilian football legend, as well as the score for Disney’s Mohenjo Daro. His album Vande Mataram, released for India’s 50th anniversary of its independence in 1997 remains a firm favourite with patriotic Indians both at home and abroad.

Show: http://www.axs.com/uk/events/279464/a-r-rahman-the-greatest-hits-live-tickets?skin=arrahman

 

Haraamkhor (The Wretched) Review LIFF 2015

Haraamkhor is exactly the kind of film one hopes to see at a film festival – a film that pushes the envelope, has been made with care and attention and has lots of soul. Keeping a packed audience engaged throughout, the cosmos built by Haraamkhor instantly felt very real and three dimensional.

The story focuses on a love affair between a married teacher Shyam (Siddiqui) and his student Sandhya (Tripathi) as viewed by two of her mischevious male classmates Mintu and Kamal. Kamal is also madly in love with Sandhya and seeks Mintu’s advice on how to woo her. As the story takes an inevitable turn, the fall-out from it has varying consequences for all the characters.

Sharma guides the story with a steady hand so that the focus of the story remains on the relationship between the teacher and the student. What makes this seemingly familiar story so unique is the absence of any judgement so that the audience can make their own minds up – we see for ourselves how Shyam manipulates Sandhya as well as his wife and how his world falls apart when those around him don’t subscribe to his patriarchal thinking. I also loved the way in which the script manages to empathise with the anatagonists as well as the protagonist – we feel for Sandhya who is abandoned by her mother and is clearly in need of companionship but then we also find we cannot entirely hate Shyam (who on paper is incredibly unlikeable) and I also liked how the viewer mirrors Sandhya’s journey and learn to trust Sandhya’s future step mother (who turns out to be her saviour and friend she has needed all along).

It should be no surprise that Siddiqui turns in a stellar performance as Shyam – to play a paedophile sympathetically really demonstrates his strength as an actor and the way he can summon emotions almost at will and heighten or downplay any scene is simply amazing. Shweta Tripathi is excellent as Sandhya, giving her a vulnerability and innocence that immediately endears the viewer and makes one root for her throughout. The chemistry between Siddiqui and Tripathi is electric and really does elevate the script further. I absolutely loved Mohd Samad and Irfan Khan (not that one!) as Mintu and Kamal – both are refreshingly natural and play their roles with panache and gumption that entertains the audience but also gives the film some much needed balance from the darker moments of Haraamkhor (of which there are many). I also loved Shyam’s wife and Sandhya’s step mother who underplay their roles with skill and compassion.

Haraamkhor was without doubt my favourite film at the London Indian Film Festival 2015 – it is a film that manages to encapsulate a vast canvas without losing any of its quality or vision. I loved how it kept my attention throughout and I also have to praise the cinematography which really comes into its own in key scenes. Like all good independent Indian cinema, Haraam Khor has a universality to it so that it can be watched the world over and resonate across the board but also have local meaning too. I really hope this film gets a worldwide release as it will be loved not only by lovers of World Cinema but fans of great cinema too. Recommended.

Haraam Khor (The Wretched)

Directed by: Shlok Sharma

Starring: Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Shweta Tripathi, Mohd Samad, Irfan Khan

 

Bhushan Kumar is a Hindi film and fashion obsessed being living and working in London.

Follow Bhushan on Twitter: @bogeyno2

Blog: http://bogeyno2.wordpress.com/

Nirbashito Review LIFF 2015

Debutante director and lead actress Churni Ganguly’s semi-biographical take on controversial writer Taslima Nasrin is absolutely soul stirring. In Nirbashito (Banished), even though the protagonist has no name, and is always referred to as Lady, or Madam, the resemblance to Nasrin is unmistakable. The story circles around this controversial figure – a female writer who has caused a stir amongst the powers to be with her literary works that question the patriarchal society that is deeply rooted in religion. As a result, she has been deported from her residence in Kolkata, to the cold and dreary interiors of Sweden. Her exile away from home, and her struggle against the loneliness that comes to haunt her is what Nirbashito is all about.

On paper, that does sound like a very uncomfortable and miserable watch. But Churni Ganguly’s portrayal of “the Lady” turns it into an unforgettable and personal journey that makes for compelling drama. She conveys the complex layers of this real person effortlessly. The dark circles under her smokey eyes show the lethargy in her – the sort that you perhaps get after a strenuous long flight. In this case, she is tired of being dragged from port to port, of having no home to call her own, and with no clear sign of where it all ends. And the constant irritation of not being able to speak with someone in one’s own language or eat the food that one likes in a foreign land – her banishment punishes her every day in a new way. And yet, against all odds, she continues to channel her struggle and turn it into the most lyrical prose. Ganguly’s portrayal is absolutely note perfect.

And on the other side of the spectrum, are the ones who are handling “The Lady”s cat – Baaghini. Saswata Chatterjee (Kahaani, Bhooter Bhabishyat) plays the compassionate friend who is looking after the cat, and is also juggling his own daily drama – a pregnant wife who feels deprived, and the circus of bureaucracy. This parallel story line provides the much needed comedic relief in this otherwise bleak tale. Supported excellently by the ensemble cast that includes Kaushik Ganguly (Churni Ganguly’s husband in real life), Raima Sen, and Martin Wallstorm (Mr. Robot), Nirbashito received the National Award for the Best Bengali Film, and much deservingly so.

Nirbashito’s empty wide shots of nothingness conveys the deafening silence of loneliness, and leaves you feeling the pain that one goes through when freedom of choice, and speech are snatched away from you. Amongst all the human drama, it highlights one of the most burning topics of today. The Lady says to her friend, “It is a fight between the pen and the sword. And the sword always wins”. Truer words were never spoken.

Check out more of Sujoy’s work at OneKnighStand and Bollypop!

Follow Sujoy on Twitter: @9e3k

Nirbashito still has a screening on the 22nd of July at the London Indian Film Festival.

Head over to http://londonindianfilmfestival.co.uk/programme.htm for more info and tickets.

 

Screen Talk: Mani Ratnam – London Indian Film Festival 2015, BFI Southbank

Mani Ratnam is pretty much how I expected him to be – unpretentious, likeable and a man who doesn’t waste words. When he does speak, there was much to inspire and after the hour and bit talk, I am sure I was not the only who felt charged up to go out and make a film of my own.

With an audience that included Ratnam’s wife Suhasini (an accomplished actress in MalayalamTamilTelugu and Kannada language films) and ace cinematographer Rajiv Menon (who was sat next to me with his wife and Suhasini next to her), the talk was guided by Peter Webber (director of Girl With A Pearl Earring and all set to make his next venture in India) and held at the BFI Southbank which was the perfect place to host this afternoon event as part of the London Indian Film Festival 2015.

When asked about how he became a filmmaker, Ratnam described himself as a “disillusioned management consultant” who was passionate about cinema and wanted to see if he could make a career out of filmmaking. When Webber asked him if anyone had influenced his work, Ratnam mentioned Akira Kurosawa as a favourite but admitted he was generally inspired by anything he had read or seen (as indeed all creatives are).

There was also some good natured ribbing about songs in Indian cinema with Webber saying he admired Ratnam and Indian filmmakers for directing songs in their films. Ratnam explained how directing a song was a “liberating process” and was like making a mini film, with a story arc, choreography and sensibility all of its own. “Songs let you travel emotions in an abstract fashion” said Ratnam before joking that he felt sorry for Western cinema that does not have songs as part of its narrative.

Ratnam also spoke about his working relationship with A R Rehman who has scored the music for many of Ratnam’s films. Naming Bombay as his favourite Rehman soundtrack, Ratnam noted that Rehman was a very special composer who had a unique ability to find his own level in his music as well as achieving what had been asked of him when composing music and that the experience of working with him was a great one.

I was not surprised but interested by Ratnam’s revelation that he doesn’t really understand Hindi in the way he does Tamil. Ratnam went on to explain how he wrote in Tamil, then worked with a Hindi writer to translate the dialogue and then trusted his actors to enact their character properly as Ratnam felt he is unable to control nuances of word in Hindi as well as he would want to and for this reason preferred to work in Tamil.

Webber then took questions from the audience which ranged from what Ratnam does to make a set come alive (“have a good team and work with people better than you”), his inspiration for the strong female roles in his films (all based on the women he has met and his admiration for their amazing strength in character), his favourite director (“Guru Dutt”) and how he offered his first film to his wife but she refused it (“so I married her!” which delighted the audience). All too soon, time was up and Ratnam was presented the London Indian Film Festival icon of cinema award, the first ever recipient of the award to mark the conclusion of the talk.

My favourite anecdote came near the start, where Ratnam talked about how he saw his approach to film as “reinventing what is written on paper”. A simple sentiment that could easily be lost in the process of filmmaking, it struck me that this was exactly what Ratnam has done in each of his films and perhaps is instrumental in making him one of Indian cinema’s greatest filmmakers and a very worthy candidate for a truly fascinating screen talk.

Bhushan Kumar is a Hindi film and fashion obsessed being living and working in London.

Follow Bhushan on Twitter: @bogeyno2

Blog: http://bogeyno2.wordpress.com/

Review The Master: Shyam Benegal LIFF 2015

Most fans of popular Hindi cinema will be familiar with films like Zubeidaa (2001) and Welcome To Saajanpur (2008) but as The Master: Shyam Benegal shows, Bengal has a formidable body of work before mainstream success; films that won many National Awards, defied convention and were very much ahead of their time – so much so, that today’s cinema will be forever indebted to Benegal’s contribution.

Unfortunately then, The Master has quite a jarring rhythm to it so that the viewer never really gets settled in and feels quite clumsy at times. I also found my attention wandering at one point and at one point, was not sure why we had certain contributors on screen who didn’t offer anything different from what Benegal has already told us. Although the affection Mohammed has for Benegal and his films comes across quite well, I do wish the editing had been more stringent and there was a greater organisation to the material rather than a brisk chronological stroll through Benegal’s filmography.

Thankfully, the subject matter here is fascinating and just about overshadows the flaws- Benegal is a very likeable person who comes across really well as a passionate creative who has conviction in his vision and one gets the sense that his pursuit in making his films really was instrumental in forming independent Indian cinema as we know it today. I felt all of his films could easily fill documentaries of their own, not only because they are rooted in various social causes but also the amazing roster of talent such as Shabana Azmi, Smita Patil, Naseerudin Shah that his films boast.

Out of all the contributors interviewed for The Master, I thought Shabana Azmi’s anecdotes were quite candid and offered a real insight into what it is like to work with Benegal whilst Manoj Bajpayee’s recounting of how Karisma Kapoor asked him not to kiss her on the lips in Zubeidaa is an awkward encounter, especially when Karisma manages to avoid elaborating on the subject. As Neena Gupta points out, most actresses are quite possessive of Benegal after working with him and it is not hard to see why – his films truly offer actresses a wonderful showcase for their talents.

If you have never heard of Shyam Benegal or are unfamiliar with his early work, The Master offers a a guide of sorts of which ones to watch (I had seen Ankur (1974) prior to this and cannot wait to watch Mandi, Nishant and Bhumika as well as a rewatch of Zubeidaa). Hopefully this won’t be the only documentary made on Benegal but it certainly is a starting point to learn more about one of India’s most prolific independent filmmakers.

Directed by: Khalid Mohammed

Narrated by: Naseerudin Shah

The Master: Shyam Benegal played at the London Indian Film Festival.

For more information about the festival and it’s programme, head over to: http://londonindianfilmfestival.co.uk/programme.htm

Bhushan Kumar is a Hindi film and fashion obsessed being living and working in London.

Follow Bhushan on Twitter: @bogeyno2

Blog: http://bogeyno2.wordpress.com/

 

 

Ant Man Review

AntMan oh AntMan! Upodcasting has been looking forward to this one for so long now that the sense of anticlimax was a real and present danger.  It proved to be unfounded in the final analysis but the possible overexposure through trailer had me a bit rattled.
But first a bit of background. AntMan is seemingly an odd choice given the range of characters within the Marvel Charcater Universe (MCU) and a typical reaction from friends has been: AntMan, why? Can’t they pick a better superhero? Or even, AntMan, who’s he? The latter certainly being my reaction upon learning it would be the latest addition.  AntMan has also had a colourful and somewhat long lead in with initial director and writer Edgar Wright denying all involvement for ages only to come clean and then write what has been described as the best superhero script ever (Joss Whedon) before finally he and cowriter Joe Cornish fell foul of presumably internal politics and studio machinations. We can only ponder.
So what remains? Peyton Reed with a strong history of RomComs behind him wasn’t an obvious choice as replacement director, but nonetheless has delivered on the promise shown by the Brits. Is this due to the somewhat standardised look of Marvel films these days? Quite possibly – and maybe whomever could have stood in would benefit from this.  Minor quibbles over the director aside, the casting is inspired: Michael Douglas a perfect Hank Pim and showing some real thirst for a left field role given his prior – it just seems to fit, rolling an air of a once successful superhero, scientist and businessman all into one. Corey Stoll (House of Cards) likewise is a great baddie, although I would have preferred to know more about what has made him so obsessed and ever so slightly deranged.
This raises another point regarding Marvel at the moment, namely their seeming insistence on the non-aware audience members simply accepting, without explanation a few key things.  In this instance, the Pim particle, in others, the Infinity Stones or Vibranium. Are they genuinely important or should we just let them wash over us, McGuffin style, in the expectation that there will be some kind of explanation or that the story will outweigh the “whaaaat is this?”.
Back to the strong suits though and up there with some of the best casting ever, is Paul Rudd as the eponymous hero. Taking all the humour, charm and pathos from and number of roles he is on top, top form here. Indiana Jones can only ever be played by Harrison Ford and likewise AntMan MUST now only ever be played by Paul Rudd. End of.
What he is able to do is take a pretty weak superhero (what? You’re an ant?!) and make it rock. Whilst the movie does take a while to warm up, once it hits its stride it becomes unstoppable. It is certainly on the lighter side of the MCU but this is something I welcome wholeheartedly. The trick they’ve pulled off here is to reverse the trend to the big – big explosions, big CGI, big super heroes and turn it on its head. Small truly is beautiful and it’s a delight after Age of Ultron or even Mad Max for example, to see how powerful in the figurative and literal sense, the impact of tiny beings can be.
For those who aren’t into the comics or struggle to keep pace with the wider MCU AntMan is perfect – light along the lines of Guardians of the Galaxy but also pretty much standalone as you do not need to know about Hydra, or Thanos or numerous other properties. In fact those other properties are more or less mocked: Hank Pim’s disdain for “Iron Man” and his broken relationship with Howard Stark.
Whilst not my absolute favourite of the Marvels so far, this is however a superb addition and once you have this origins story under your belt, you will be wanting more. At Upod we have surprisingly declared this unanimously our 4th favourite Marvel but we do differ on the order of the first three. Put it this way, I will recommend my parents watch this, but I’d not have said the same about any others apart from perhaps Guardians of the Galaxy.
Watch it, get stuck in, enjoy the tiny little ride for all its powerful punches and try to tell me you don’t want more. A cracking way to kickoff the summer season of blockbusters…a thrilling antiblockbuster bar none.
Ant Man is currently in UK theaters.

Katti Batti Images and Promos

I really hope for Imran Khan’s career that things turn around a little. We’ve always liked the guy, and have even spoken to him quite a few time snow but his last few movies really haven’t worked at the box office and attaching the faith of your comeback to anunreliable director like Nikhil Advani is a bit troublesome.

But the ace in the sleeve is of course Kangana Ranaut, a lady who seems to do no wrong (or if she does, we as an audience just keep moving like nothing happened).

Katti Batti seems to be a straight forward rom com and our friend @bollybrit pointed out that it does have some shades of 500 days of summer.

Here are some promos and images:

Katti Batti 1 Katti Batti 2 Katti Batti 3 Katti Batti 4 Katti Batti Poster

 

Synopsis:

Katti Batti is a modern day romance that traces young architect Madhav Kabra’s (Imran Khan) love for the free-spirited Payal (Kangana Ranaut). They make for a perfect couple until a sudden turn of events creates an unanswered distance between them. What follows is a series a events that tests the fate of their relationship.

Katti Batti starring Imran Khan and Kangana Ranaut, directed by Nikhil Advani, the film releases on September 18.

Raees Teaser and posters!

After the Fan Teaser which was released last week, we now have the first look and teaser trailer of Raees. Shahrukh Khan’s collaboration with Rahul Dholakia whose not worked with any big canvas movies until now.Although the next movie SRK will be releasing is Rohit Shetty’s Dilwale, but like any Rohit Shetty starrer, it’s pretty much money in the bank, both Fan and Raees seem to be riskier propositions. (even if you wonder if having a movie star SRK is ever a risky proposition box office wise anymore)

I do wonder how great of an idea it is to release a trailer of an blackmarket alchohol selling muslim gangster on the most holiest days for Muslims especially when the portrayal of that community is so very skewed already.

But at least SRK makes a Shalwar Kameez and uncle glasses look good!

 

Raees Poster2 Raees Poster

Raees Teaser | Shah Rukh Khan I Nawazuddin Siddiqui I Mahira Khan

Release: EID 2016

Directed by: Rahul Dholakia
Produced by: Ritesh Sidhwani, Gauri Khan and Farhan Akhtar
Written by: Rahul Dholakia, Harit Mehta, Ashish Vashi and Niraj Shukla
Director Of Photography: K.U. Mohanan
Lyrics: Javed Akhtar
Music: Ram Sampath

Umrika Review: Opening Night LIFF 2015

The yearly London Indian Film Festival started with the usual festivities and since we don’t take half measures here at Upodcast. We decided to give you 2 different perspectives by our good buddies Bhushan Kumar (@bogeyno2) and Sujoy Singa (@9e3k) on how the screening of Umrika went down.

Umrika

Bhushan:

Directed by: Prashant Nair

Starring:, Suraj Sharma, Tony Revolori, Smita Tambe, Adil Hussain, Pramod Pathak, Rajesh Tailang, Amit Sial, Sauraseni Maitra, Prateik Babbar.

In the Q+A following the screening of Umrika at the London Indian Film Festival (LIFF), director Prashant Nair explained how he wanted Umrika to reflect the character of rural India – as Nair rightly pointed out, when it comes to depicting village life on the silver screen, poverty and hardship are often the facets we see presented in Indian cinema by both mainstream and independent films. So Umrika is definitely unique in consciously trying to explore a rather sombre tale with a touch of lightness and humour.

Set in the 80’s, Ramakant (Sharma) idolises his older brother Udai (Babbar) who has left the village and is living in America (or ‘Umrica’ as it is often pronounced in the sub-continent). At first, Udai does not make contact with his family and the village but when he does start sending letters, Rama is fascinated by the ‘exotic’ American culture that his brother is living in. But as time goes on, it emerges that the postman of the village has been forging the letters to pacify Udai and Rama’s anxious mother. As Rama takes over the letter writing duty, he decides to track down his brother and find out the truth for his own peace of mind.

Umrika touches on so many issues at the same time that it could easily collapse under the weight of its own ambition but Nair multitasks with efficiency, managing the different strands of the story with care and clarity. Whether it is a timeless issue (sibling rivalry) or topical (immigration), Umrika is a film about both these things and a lot more all at once. The emotional core of the film is Udai and Rama’s mother who may not have much screen time but looms large in every frame, driving the story forward and representing a strange paradigm – even though she cannot bear to live without Udai, she seems content to send him miles away to a foreign land by himself and live vicariously through his letters, not realising the effect her behaviour has on Rama.

Performance wise, Sharma shines as Rama, depicting the character’s journey of self-discovery with a confidence and poise that carries the film well. Hussein is suitably menacing as the smuggler whilst Pathak and Tailang play their supporting roles of the father and postman respectively with conviction. The two biggest surprises for me were Revolori, an American actor who plays Rama’s best friend Lalu – whether it was his body language or expressions or dialogue delivery, I had no idea it was an American was playing a rural Indian village boy. The other standout is Tambe as the mother who effortlessly manages to show a gamut of emotions from grief to joy and whose actions and expressions remain in the mind long after the film ends.

Umrika is exactly the kind of film a festival like LIFF should be championing and deserves a thump on the back for bringing such great cinema to the world stage. Thematically, Umrika reminded me of another film festival hit done good, The Lunchbox which also had universal themes and forged an instant and intelligent connection to its audience. Having said that, Umrika marks out Nair as a director to look out for and the film is certainly worth watching a few times to enjoy all the nuances and quirks weaved into the story. Highly recommended.

 

Sujoy:

Director Prashant Nair’s “Umrika” seems to borrow from the many Bollywood movies of the 80’s – of lost brothers, of rural family values, of naive ambitions, the stark darkness of city life, and the yearning for loved ones. Rama (Suraj Sharma) is a young man who lives under the shadow of the elder son of the family, Udai (Prateik Babbar). Udai has gone off to Umrika for work, in search of a more prosperous life. It is Udai’s letters that tell the tale of a land so exotic and mystical. After a period, when the letters stop coming, Rama’s mother becomes depressed, and distances herself from her family. The letters pick up again, but when Rama discovers the secret behind these letters, he has to leave his family behind to unravel the mystery behind the American dream. Revealing anything more than this basic description would mean to delve into spoiler territory. But in my humble opinion, Umrika is not about the build up, or the culmination of its protagonist. It is perhaps about the many journeys that its array of characters take.
It does seem like a very conscious choice on the part of the director to choose name-dropping familiar historical names and events and references to songs and sights of that era. And it did help in making one believe in the world that surrounds these characters.  From Amitabh Bachchan’s infamous accident on the sets of Coolie to national events such as the  Emergency, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s assasination, and even the Challenger space shuttle crash, Umrika weaves these historic events seamlessly into the story, hinting at the era and its eccentricities. These were simpler times, and also times when the only image of America are ones that are coloured in shades of brightness and prosperity.
It is however interesting to see how American culture and lifestyle, which is so much taken for granted, is presented from the eyes of a complete outsider – a young villager from India, who has only read about it from newspaper cuttings. What irks me a little however, is that how our protagonist Rama, in an era of no Google or Wikipedia, and with limited education, has been able to dig out so much information about America – from food, to festivals, to even the Cold War.
The cinematography by Petra Koner is absolutely on the money. The bright hues of Jitvapur’s scorching summer have been presented in stark contrast to the decayed blue indoors of the city. Because in the city, the Sun of hope never seems to rise. There’s despair in every move, with everyone filled with greed and deceit. Koner’s camera narrates a tale of its own.
The acting talent here is in top form – Be it Suraj Sharma, who gets to show off his acting chops a bit more after Life of Pi, and does not disappoint at all. He does look like MTV VJ Rannvijay Singh, which made me wonder what if Rannvijay would have played Udai’s role, instead of the mostly forgettable Prateik Babbar. Rama’s friend Lalu, played by Tony Revolori (The Grand Budapest Hotel) is an unconventional casting choice. And yet, it works. Even though the dubbing can seem a bit jarring at times, Revolori’s relentless loyalty to his chidhood mate is reminiscent of the many onscreen Bollywood bromances.
And like most loved Bollywood movies, this one also has a Maa. And thank God for that. Because, it is the Maa who provides the emotional hook to the story. Smita Tambe has one of the most expressive eyes that you will see onscreen all year (perhaps, second to Ramya Krishnan in Baahubali). Her love for her son, anguish, and sorrow makes up for all the pacing flaws and almost left me gasping for a breath.
With Umrika, Nair attempts to bring in a lot of elements and promises under one roof – the horror tales of illegal immigration, the struggle of life in the rat race of the city, and yet, a beacon of hope that shines bright to keep things moving on. Umrika shines.
Rating: 3 Hot dogs out of 5.

 

Bhushan Kumar is a Hindi film and fashion obsessed being living and working in London.

Follow Bhushan on Twitter: @bogeyno2

Blog: http://bogeyno2.wordpress.com/

Check out more of Sujoy’s work at OneKnighStand and Bollypop!

Follow Sujoy on Twitter: @9e3k

Pan Official Poster

Peter Pan’s isn’t one of those characters that is near and dear to our hearts although we did enjoy Hook when it came out (BANGERANG) but it seems to be a real gold mine for film makers to keep going back to.

Pan, the upcoming live-action family adventure set for release on 16 October 2015 directed by Joe Wright (Atonement) starring Hugh Jackman, Garrett Hedlund, Rooney Mara, Amanda Seyfried, Cara Delevingne and newcomer Levi Miller seems to be a pre-quel of sorts.

From the Synopsis:


Offering a new take on the origin of the classic characters created by J.M. Barrie, the action adventure follows the story of an orphan who is spirited away to the magical Neverland. There, he finds both fun and dangers, and ultimately discovers his destiny—to become the hero who will be forever known as Peter Pan.

Pan First Poster

PAN is released in UK cinemas 16 October 2015.

Discover more at warnerbros.co.uk/Pan, or find PanOfficialUK on Facebook and Twitter. #PanMovie

Brooklyn Trailer: So very Irish!

Brooklyn, is the critically acclaimed, heart-breaking, movie starring Saoirse Ronan (The Grand Budapest Hotel), Domhnall Gleeson (About Time), Emory Cohen (The Place Beyond The Pines), Jim Broadbent (Iris), Julie Walters (Billy Elliot) and directed by John Crowley (Intermission) and is released in cinemas this November. 

Set in the early 1950s, BROOKLYN is the story of a young woman, Eilis (Saoirse Ronan) who moves from small town Ireland to Brooklyn, NY where, unlike home, she has the opportunity for work and for a future – and love, in the shape of Italian-American Tony (Emory Cohen).  When a family tragedy brings her back to Ireland, she finds herself absorbed into her old community, but now with eligible Jim (Domhnall Gleeson) courting her.  As she repeatedly postpones her return to America, Eilis finds herself confronting a terrible dilemma – a heart-breaking choice between two men and two countries.
BROOK_QUAD
Synopsis 

Set in the early 1950s, BROOKLYN is the story of a young woman, Eilis (Saoirse Ronan) who moves from small town Ireland to Brooklyn, NY where, unlike home, she has the opportunity for work and for a future – and love, in the shape of Italian-American Tony (Emory Cohen).  When a family tragedy brings her back to Ireland, she finds herself absorbed into her old community, but now with eligible Jim (Domhnall Gleeson) courting her.  As she repeatedly postpones her return to America, Eilis finds herself confronting a terrible dilemma – a heart-breaking choice between two men and two countries.

The film stars Saoirse Ronan (‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’ and Oscar® nominee for ‘Atonement’), Domhnall Gleeson (‘About Time’, ‘Anna Karenina’), Emory Cohen (‘The Place Beyond The Pines’), Jim Broadbent (Oscar® winner for ‘Iris’) and Julie Walters (Oscar® nominee for ‘Billy Elliot’ and ‘Educating Rita’).

 

Star Wars Comic Con Sizzle Reel

Every year  Comic Con bring’s tons of goodies and even though Marvel didn’t make an appearance, Disney managed to rock the house with a very interesting sneak peak at the next Star Wars movie.

Fans at San Diego Comic-Con’s Hall H were treated to a special look behind the scenes of Star Wars:The Force Awakens by director J.J. Abrams, producer and Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy and writer Lawrence Kasdan. The filmmakers were joined on stage by cast members Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, Domhnall Gleeson, Gwendoline Christie, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford to the surprise and delight of fans.

At the end of the Hall H presentation, the entire Hall H audience of more than 6,000 fans were all invited to continue the celebration and join cast and filmmakers at a surprise Star Wars Fan Concert. The San Diego Symphony performed the classic Star Wars music from John Williams at the Embarcadero Marina Park South.

STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS IS IN UK CINEMAS FROM DECEMBER 18TH, 2015

Terminator Genisys Review Upodcast

Is Terminator the movie franchise that just won’t die? Martin and Asim discuss the re-imagined cast, the legacy of Skynet and if Time Travel can actually make sense in any movie.

 

To listen and download, click on the link below.

Or subscribe to us in iTunes and never miss an Episode:

Sultan’s teaser doesn’t reveal much….

A very short teaser released for Sultan, Salman Khan’s 2nd collaboration with YRF after the massive success of Ek Tha Tiger. Although we’re no fans of such short teasers or motion posters but we’re always willing to make an exception for Sallu Bhai.

What is interesting is how Sultan’s been announced to release at a date that was already booked for Raees starring YRF (former) blue eyed man-boy SRK. YRF has moved away from the grand romantic movies that made SRK the star he is today so it’s quite surprising they would pull such a move. Although YRF is known for being quite aggressive with when it comes to locking in cinema screens as they did when Jab Tak Hai Jaan released and completely destroyed any chances of Ajay Devgn’s Son of Sardaar working.

Both films are still in the near future so things might change but at the moment, we seem to be heading for a clash.

Produced by Aditya Chopra and written-directed by Ali Abbas Zafar, the film will commence shooting in November and will release in Eid 2016.

 

Kung Fu Panda 3 Trailer and Images

We were pleasantly surprised with the 2nd Kung Fu Panda, it might not be on the level of a How To Train Your Dragon that we anxiously anticipate but whenever we sit down to watch it, it’s always a fun ride.

Most of the actors are back with a few new surprises. Check out the trailer and some promo images.

 

 

 

In 2016, one of the most successful animated franchises in the world returns with its biggest comedy adventure yet, KUNG FU PANDA 3. When Po’s long-lost panda father suddenly reappears, the reunited duo travels to a secret panda paradise to meet scores of hilarious new panda characters.  But when the supernatural villain Kai begins to sweep across China defeating all the kung fu masters, Po must do the impossible—learn to train a village full of his fun-loving, clumsy brethren to become the ultimate band of Kung Fu Pandas!

Kung Fu Panda 3 is set to land in UK cinemas March 2016.

Kung Fu Panda 3features the voice talents of Jack Black as Po, Bryan Cranston as Po’s long-lost panda Father Li plus Angelina Jolie, Dustin Hoffman, Jackie Chan, Seth Rogen, Lucy Liu and more.

New Poster Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation

Everything related to the lastest Mission: Impossible looks so awesome, the new poster that just released has a slight retro feel and makes pretty much everyone in the movie look cool.

The movie definetly looks like a big summer box office winner, hopefully unlike Edge Of Tomorrow which was praised by critics but underperformed at the box office.

Directed by Christopher McQuarrie, MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – ROGUE NATION reunites star Tom Cruise with Simon Pegg, Jeremy Renner and Ving Rhames, and adds to the cast Rebecca Ferguson and Alec Baldwin.

Synopsis
With the IMF disbanded, and Ethan (Tom Cruise) out in the cold, the team now faces off against a network of highly skilled special agents, the Syndicate. These highly trained operatives are hellbent on creating a new world order through an escalating series of terrorist attacks. Ethan gathers his team and joins forces with disavowed British agent Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson), who may or may not be a member of this rogue nation, as the group faces their most impossible mission yet.

MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – ROGUE NATION is released in cinemas 30 July 2015.

Mission Impossible Rogue Nation Poster

The Overnight: review

MV5BMTQ0MjQ3MTY3OF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMjg2MjQ5NTE@._V1_SX214_AL_This is the latest film by director Patrick Brice and executive produced by Jay and Mark Duplass and Adam Scott.  Alex (Adam Scott) and Emily (Taylor Schilling) have recently moved to LA with their son RJ.  Looking to make new friends, they bump into Kurt (Jason Schwartzman) at the local playground, who invites them over for dinner with his wife Charlotte (Judith Godreche).  The overnight of the film’s title is then what ensues.

There is a lot of comedy in this film!  Kicking-off with an early morning bedroom scene the laughs keep coming consistently, only slowing down near the middle when things get a bit more serious and dark for a short while.  The jokes and humour in The Overnight help join up some adult themes and in a good way.  Making light of marital crises that can befall couples and what they will do to try and find a way out, the L.A. / California lifestyle and Europeans with relaxed liberal values are all targets for fun among many others.

Aside from the out and out humour in the film, what else is there on offer?  Well, both male and female insecurities are addressed – boobs, penises, pride and envy – and this, after a bit of round the houses (almost literally) culminates in quite possibly one of the most awkward 4-somes / more-somes you’re likely to see.  It is always good to see Jason Schwartzman in anything and I think he steals the show here, in addition to Taylor Schilling who is perfect as the slightly reserved / prudish wife not knowing what to do when things get a bit steamy.

The Overnight is really lead by Kurt and Alex with both Emily and Charlotte as willing and unwilling accomplices.  Certainly the men’s problems are most prominent, although this is not to say that the women don’t make any contributions as they most certainly do, especially Charlotte and her boobs.  There were times during the film I thought it would fall into the obvious, but I’m happy to report my attempts to second-guess things failed.  It is also a very short film by contemporary norms, hitting a very trim 79 minutes, something I think really works to its advantage.  Given the story takes place over around 8 hours or so in real life, the story is moved along at a great pace and this keeps things tight.

Genuinely one of the funniest films I’ve seen in a long long time, The Overnight is in cinemas this Friday, June 26th.   Check out the trailer below!

London Indian Film Festival (16 – 23 July 2015)

Rama (Suraj Sharma) & Lalu (Tony Revolori) UrmikaThe Bagri Foundation London Indian Film Festival kicks off with Sundance winner Umrika with hard-hitting cricket documentary Death of a Gentleman to close the festival.

Prashant Nair’s Umrika, winner of the Audience Award at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, starring Suraj Sharma (Life of Pi) and Tony Revolori (The Grand Budapest Hotel), will be the opening night gala of The Bagri Foundation London Indian Film Festival (July 16-23). The festival is now in its 6th edition and firmly established as Europe’s largest showcase for South Asian cinema. Nair’s debut film Delhi in a Day was a great success at the festival’s 2012 edition. Prashant Nair, writer/director of Umrika, said:

“I’m so excited to hear that Umrika will open the London Indian Film Festival this year. We’ve heard such great things about the audiences at LIFF and can’t wait to share our film with them. We’re hoping the film’s nostalgic portrayal of 1980s India, its themes and the many cross-cultural references will resonate with LIFF’s audiences.”

The festival is pleased to announce that the Bagri Foundation, a charity whose aims include the advancement of literacy, education and the arts, with an emphasis on those of India, and the appreciation and understanding of Asian cultures, is on board as the Title Sponsor. Alka Bagri of the Bagri Foundation said:

“Cinema has a vital role to play in exploring lives, sharing emotions, investigating social issues, and expanding horizons. Given the explanatory power of this medium, we are absolutely delighted to be supporting the London Indian Film Festival as title sponsors. The Bagri Foundation is committed to promoting rich cultural endeavours, fostering dialogues and providing platforms for creativity to blossom. In line with this, the Bagri Foundation London Indian Film Festival offers a fantastic opportunity for art lovers to embark on an exciting journey and to immerse themselves in South Asian culture.”

This year, the dynamic festival is also expanding to UK’s second largest city Birmingham with a selection of highlight screenings at Midlands Arts Centre and Cineworld Broad Street.

Sachin fans at Chennai 110320 Photo by Philip BrownThe festival will close with hard-hitting cricket documentary Death of a Gentleman, featuring Ravi Shastri, Kevin Pietersen, Lalit Modi, N Srinivasan and Giles Clarke. Director Sam Collins said:

“Death of a Gentleman has been four years in the making, and we are hugely excited to be chosen as the closing film at the 2015 LIFF. This is a very human story about passion, money and power, and we hope to make a persuasive case to cricket fans and non cricket fans alike that the greatest game in the world needs to change its ways.”

Other programme highlights include: a rare Screen Talk by one of India’s most acclaimed mainstream filmmakers Tamilian giant Mani Ratnam, Berlinale winner Dhanak, Venice winner Court, Toronto doc. Monsoon and also Bengali art-house hit Labour of Love. UK premieres continue with Slumdog-like The Crows Egg and 31st October starring Soha Ali Khan. Nepalese Bollywood actress Manisha Koirala attends to support a charity event for the Nepal Earthquake Appeal. Actress Konkona Sen Sharma will present her films Saari Raat and Gour Hari Dastaan: The Freedom File, with the latter’s director Ananth Mahadevan also in attendance.

The festival includes the coveted Satyajit Ray Short Film Competition & Award, supported by the Bagri Foundation.

Major Partner Sun Mark Ltd returns with its Pure Heaven brand. Other returning partners include Grange Hotels, British Film Institute, Asian Single Solution and Technicolor. Cinema venues include Cineworld Cinemas, BFI Southbank, Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA), Picturehouse Central and Midlands Arts Centre.

The full programme will be announced 18th June.

LIFF’s Executive & Programming Director Cary Rajinder Sawhney said:

“It is wonderful that the festival is expanding so rapidly in stature and reach, proving there is an un-tapped market for Indian independent cinema with UK audiences.”

For more information on the festival please visit: www.londonindianfilmfestival.co.uk

Join us on social media: www.facebook.com/LondonIndianFilmFestival & www.twitter.com/LoveLIFF

 

UMRIKA | UK PREMIERE
Hindi with English subtitles | 98 min | India 2015 | Dir. Prashant Nair | with: Suraj Sharma, Tony Revolori, Adil Hussain, Smita Tambe, Prateik Babbar.
This year’s Sundance Audience Award winner is an uplifting, rights of passage tale about two brothers from a small village who have dreams of making it big in Umrika (America). Udai (Pratiek Babbar) is the eldest and adored by his hard-working mum. He leaves their hamlet on a bullock cart to pursue his dream after he says he has received an invitation to work in the US.

Torn between pride and grief his mum waves him off. Months go by but there is no word from Udai, family pride turns to concern. Younger son Rama (Suraj Sharma, Life of Pi), shares the family’s increasing grief and then suddenly letters start to arrive. His parents cheer up again as amazing pictures of the USA fill their lives. All seems well until Rama discovers that the kindly local postman has forged the letters. Rama runs away from home to discover his brother’s true fate.
Q&A with Dir. Prashant Nair and other special guests.
OPENING NIGHT | 16 JULY | 18:00 | CINEWORLD HAYMARKET

DEATH OF A GENTLEMAN | CLOSING NIGHT | LONDON PREMIERE
English | 90 min | Australia, UK | Dir. Sam Collins | with: Kevin Pietersen, Ravi Shastri, N. Srinivasan, Lalit Modi, Giles Clarke.

A hard-hitting documentary of interest to cricket and non-cricket fans alike. Cricketing journalists Jarrod Kimber and Sam Collins set off on a journey to report on the current state of health of Test cricket and to investigate the impact of 20:20 cricket on the five-day game. They end up in something more sinister than they could ever have imagined. During their thrilling three-year journey they criss-cross the globe from London to Australia, from India to Dubai and back again, during which they meet players, the game’s administrators, fans and controversial cricket financiers, resulting in a film that is about much more than cricket. This is a film about passion, about money, about power and it’s a film about standing up for what you care about before it is too late.

Q&A with Dir. Sam Collins and other special guests.
The Bagri Foundation supports documentary films as a powerful medium to raise social awareness.
CLOSING NIGHT | 23 JULY | 18:00 | BFI SOUTHBANK

AR Rahman announces UK concert dates at the O2

The double Grammy and double Oscar, BAFTA and Golden Globe winner, AR Rahman returns to The O2 after five years, with a one off greatest hits show on Saturday 15 August 2015. AR Rahman will be joined by very special guests including; Srinivas, Karthik, Shweta Mohan, Neeti Mohan, Javed Ali, and many more.

Tickets and limited VIP Packages go on general sale at 9am on Friday 12 June and are available at AXS.com or by calling 08448 24 48 24. Tickets are also available via www.chillitickets.comwww.seetickets.com and www.biggreencoach.co.uk

Discussing his forthcoming UK show of the year AR Rahman said; “The UK always brings back fond memories of working on landmark projects in my career and it’s good to be back again after five years.”

The announcement follows a hugely successful intimate American tour and saw AR Rahman, performs in multiple concert halls. Throughout the US, the tour received standing ovations and critical acclaim.

Working in India’s various film industries, international cinema and theatre with the hit show Bombay Dreams, produced by Andrew Lloyd Webber, Rahman, has sold more than 100 million records of his film scores and soundtracks worldwide, and sold over 200 million albums. He is one of the world’s all-time top selling recording artists, with consistent chart-toppers across multiple continents.

In 2009 TIME magazine listed him as one of the world’s most influential people and cited his first album, Roja among the ”10 Best Soundtracks” of all time. Best known for his score and songs in Slumdog Millionaire, Rahman has worked on more than 100 films, among them the Oscar nominated Lagaan, Bombay, Dil Se, Rang De Basanti, Rockstar, Jab Tak Hai Jaan, Raanjhanaa, O Kadhal Kanmani, Enthiran (Robot), Fox film’s 127 Hours by Danny Boyle, Disney’s Million Dollar Arm and The Hundred-Foot Journey.

He is working on a composition for the film Pelé, a biopic on the Brazilian football legend, as well as the score for Disney’s Mohenjo Daro. His album Vande Mataram, released for India’s 50th anniversary of its independence in 1997 remains a firm favourite with patriotic Indians both at home and abroad.

Tickets On-sale: Fri, 12 Jun 201509:00 BST: http://www.axs.com/uk/events/279464/a-r-rahman-the-greatest-hits-live-tickets?skin=arrahman

Dil Dhadakne Do Review Upodcast

The cruise liner of Bollywood Podcasts is back, this time joined by our friend Anisha Jhaveri, to break down the ups and downs of Zoya Akhtar’s dysfunctional family drama Dil Dhadakne Do.

Now that she’s 3 movies in, we can discuss:

  • What the characteristics of a Zoya Akhtar joint are
  • How succesful she is in combining content with entertainment and her place in the gaggle of nouveau Manmohan Desai film makers
  • What the movie would have felt like with the initial cast
  • The baggage of narrative devices

Beside the ins and outs of one of the most hyped movies of the year.

You can find Anisha’s review by clicking here!

You can listen/stream/download the episode below. Or you can subscribe to our iTunes feed and never miss a show!

Survivor: The Watchmaker clip, sneak preview

Survivor Quad Final -4

We’re really up for the new film with Pierce Brosnan – Survivor – and this is a great preview clip showing why Pierce can still mix it with both good and bad characters.  And given there isn’t really a terrible movie with Milla Jovovich (OK, I’ll argue about The 5th Element with whomever wants to argue) in either, this really ought to be a winner!

“Survivor” is a thriller about a State Department employee newly posted to the American embassy in London, where she is charged with stopping terrorists from getting into the U.S. And that puts her in the line of fire: targeted for death, framed for crimes she didn’t commit, discredited and on the run. Now she must find a way to clear her name and stop a large-scale terrorist attack set for New Year’s Eve in New York’s Times Square. Pierce Brosnan stars as the Assassin hunting her down – The Watchmaker.

Starring Milla Jovovich (The Resident Evil franchise), Pierce Brosnan (James Bond), Dylan McDermott (Olympus Has Fallen, Automata), Angela Bassett (Olympus has Fallen), James D’Arcy (Jupiter Ascending, Cloud Atlas), Robert Forster (Jackie Brown) and Frances De La Tour (The Harry Potter Franchise). Directed by James McTeigue (V for Vendetta) and from the Producers of Olympus has Fallen

Survivor is out in UK cinemas today (Friday 5th June) Check out the preview clip here, with Pierce Brosnan playing a charming menace.

Mission Impossible Rogue Nation: New Character Posters

The 5th instalment of the Mission Impossible franchise’s release is just around the corner and personally I couldn’t be more psyched. It might be an unpopular opinion but the movies haven’t had a misstep at least in my book (yes I am including the John Woo one). That plane scene that closed the first trailer was insane, although it is hard to top the Burj Khalifa scene from the 4th.

Rebecca Ferguson

Rebecca Ferguson

Alec Baldwin

Alec Baldwin

Jeremy Renner

Jeremy Renner

Tom Cruise

Tom Cruise

With the IMF disbanded, and Ethan (Tom Cruise) out in the cold, the team now faces off against a network of highly skilled special agents, the Syndicate. These highly trained operatives are hellbent on creating a new world order through an escalating series of terrorist attacks. Ethan gathers his team and joins forces with disavowed British agent Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson), who may or may not be a member of this rogue nation, as the group faces their most impossible mission yet.

Directed by Christopher McQuarrie, MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE ROGUE NATION reunites star Tom Cruise with Simon Pegg, Jeremy Renner and Ving Rhames, and adds to the cast Rebecca Ferguson and Alec Baldwin.

MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE ROGUE NATION is released in cinemas 30 July 2015.

 

San Andreas: review

Don't worry, he's on his way

Don’t worry, he’s on his way

San Andreas is the new film starring Dwayne Johnson and imagines what would happen if the biggest earthquake ever recorded struck in California, devastating Los Angeles, before travelling along the San Andreas faultline to wreak destruction on San Francisco.  It is one of many disaster movies that we’ve all watched over the years, so it’s quite a crowded space that San Andreas is joining.  So how does this movie stack-up and what can you expect?  Playing Ray, a helicopter pilot and search and rescue worker, Dwayne Johnson has to make his way from LA to San Francisco with his estranged wife (played by Carla Gugino) in order to rescue their daughter Blake.

I’ll kick things off by saying how much I liked this movie!  With there being a lot of choice in the disaster-film niche, it’s important that there is something to grab the viewer and for it to become more than just two hours of CGI.  Personally, I need more than action set-pieces; I need to get behind the lead characters and for their story to be what keeps my interest.  Happily in San Andreas, this is delivered.  In fact the film almost operates three distinct stories: Paul Giamatti as the seismologist who discovers the true nature of the quakes, Blake and her own journey to find a safe place for Ray to save her and finally, her parents’ journey to find their daughter.  these are interwoven quite nicely indeed and in Dwayne Johnson, there is someone that we hang on to as the film progresses.  There is also an appearance by Iaon Gruffudd as the step-father to Blake, but as amusing as it is, we can count this role as that of the pantomime villain.

After the opening which I thought was a weak spot in the movie, things really get going with a scene at the Hoover dam – which doesn’t last long!  It is amazing to see the Hoover dam busting and breaking and this sets the scene for greater things to come.  As Los Angeles is levelled there are some genuinely tense moments with Ray rescuing Emma from the top of a collapsing building.  We then switch between Blake and Lawrence (Paul Giamatti) as the action slows down for a breather.  But this in no way slows the feel of movie which marches forward at a great pace, never letting the viewer get bored at all.  In particular and as much as I like Paul Giamatti in anything, it is good that his character is pretty much sidelined.  Not because he’s terrible but because his character isn’t meant to be the hero and possesses no qualifications to be the man who saves the day.  This is a frequent problem in movies of this kind – like asking a teacher to grab a gun, shoot some terrorists and rescue the hostages – and San Andreas is much the better for not doing this.

That is not to say there aren’t things I don’t like: some lines are clunky and some events are almost too crazy or not quite that believable.  I am also not sure what the point of a blink and you miss it cameo appearance from Kylie Minogue is, but hey-ho, always good to Charlene Ramsey from Neighbours in something other than a music video.  That said, if you place your faith in the story and characters, then you will be rewarded with a great movie.  It’s very easy to make these things over-long so a running time of 114 minutes feels like a breeze and adds to the pacy feel.  There are some jaw-dropping scenes of destruction and they’re all highly watchable with a tremendous perspective given to the viewer; nothing complicated and you can always understand what is happening and for why.  Sit back, eat the popcorn, guzzle the soda and enjoy a great movie which doesn’t seek to do anything other than entertain.  Highly watchable but on the proviso that you may not want to see another building collapse on-screen for quite a while!

San Andreas opens in cinemas today and you can get a taste of the awesome from the trailer below.

 

 

Tomorrowland Upodcast Review

The latest smash from Disney studios hits screens in the UK this Friday 22nd May.  But what can we expect from such a potentially stunning combination of actors, writers and directors?  George Clooney is the main lead on stage, with directing contributions from Brad Bird (The Incredibles, Ratatouille and MI:3 – aka the best one of the series so far, with Philip Seymour Hoffman) and writing credits from Damon BahBlahLof, courtesy of Lost and numerous others.

This might well be a one-off in terms of UPOD, but we do delve deeply into the land of make-believe and Disney’s latest sci-fi / futuristic imaginarium.  The spoilers kick-in at around the 19 minute mark, but other than that, no need to worry!

You can listen/download/stream the episode below.

Or subscribe to iTunes and never miss an episode!

Gabbar Is Back Press Interview

I haven’t been bowled over by anything related to Gabbar yet (how terrible is that Chitriganda- Honey Singh Promotional song?) , apparently it is a remake of a South Indian movie (alarm bells ringing already) with the big difference that the movie now references the famous Sholay villain for reasons that elude me.

But it is always great to see Akshay do his thing on the big screen although I am not quite sure how the pairing with Shruti Hassan is landing on the Icky Meter. (He looks so good with Kareena, why not just cast her as the main lead?)

 

If you haven’t seen the trailer yet- here it is together with a Q&A they did with I assume the marketing team.

 

Q1  Tell us something about Gabbar is Back?

Gabbar Is Back is directed by Krish and produced by Sanjay Leela Bhansali and Viacom18 Motion Pictures. It’s the Hindi remake of Tamil film Ramana and based on the story of corruption. I am playing the character of ACP Gabbar, who turns leader for a vigilante group and is en-route to end corruption in the city. It’s releasing on 1st May 2015 and also stars Shruti Hassan and Prakash Jha.

Q2  Is it inspired by the character of Gabbar in the famous movie Sholay?

No. Gabbar is the hero in the film and a vigilante, who takes it in his own hands to put an end to crime and injustice. Both the characters are very different.

Q3  What motivates you to do a movie like Gabbar?

I did Gabbar is Back because of corruption. I am alarmed by the crime rates in India and even calculated the amount of money gathered due to scams, to add up to 12 trillion dollars. I compared the crime rates between India and other countries and the numbers in India are astonishing. Crime rates are low in countries such as the UAE due to strict law enforcement which isn’t the case in India. So you need a name like Gabbar, who may behave like a villain but his actions are of a hero.

Q4 You are famous as the King of Action in Bollywood. Are you going to take action sequences to the next level in this movie?

Gabbar is centered more around delivering a message, rather than action sequences. Most of the instances in the movie are inspired by real life events.

Q5   Are you doing any special song for Gabbar?

Yes, I am doing one special soulful song called “Teri Meri Kahani” with Kareena Kapoor Khan, which happens to be the first song to be launched for this film. The song will take viewers through the emotional journey of the couple making itself indispensable to the overall narrative of the film.

Q6  How’s your chemistry with Kareena Kapoor Khan?

Bebo has been an integral part of my career. We’ve done many movies together and one can only hope we have many more to come. She is everything one could ever ask in a Bollywood actress. She will always know how deeply I appreciate her effort and expertise. I’m sure viewers are going to love her in this song. She has brought a kindness to our film like no other. We love working with each other.We had a great time while shooting for the song.

Q7 How is your experience in working with co-star Shruti Hassan?

I am working with her for the first time. She is playing my love interest in this movie. She is a beautiful, professional and talented actress.

Q8 Baby was the highest box office grosser of 2015. Do you think “Gabbar is Back” will surpass the record?

I always give 100 percent to any film that I do, and pray that it will do well. God has been very kind to me, and I owe him everything and my loyal fans so much for their continuous support and love.

Q9 Tell us about your new film projects?

My upcoming films include Brothers, which sees me star alongside Sidharth Malhotra and Jacqueline Fernandez. It’s the official remake of 2011 Hollywood movie Warrior and based on the story of two estranged brothers, whose entrance into the mixed martial arts tournament forces them to come to terms with their past and each other.

After this, I will have Singh is Bliing, a fantastic action comedy directed by Prabhu Deva and produced under my production company Grazing Goat Pictures. I am joined on screen by the very talented actresses Lara Dutta and Amy Jackson. We will shoot in Patiala, Punjab for this movie.

 

In Jan 2016 I have Airlift releasing which is is based on the invasion of Kuwait. I am playing the role of Ranjit Katiyal, anIndian-Arab billionaire who plans an ambitious evacuation mission to rescue 170,000 Indians in Kuwait during the Iraq invasion.

Q10  What kind of movies do you like to do?

I like to do films that are different and challenging, but which don’t preach any social message as such. I like exploring various film subjects, for example: OMG: Oh My God is about religion, ‘Baby’ is on terrorism, and ‘Gabbar Is Back‘ is on corruption. My films have a message, but with a commercial angle to it. With Gabbar is Back I got the opportunity to talk about corruption in a commercial manner.

Q11 Action and comedy films have been your forte so far. Do you have any unusual projects coming up?

I do films that I want to do, because they appeal to me in some way. I wouldn’t say that I only do action and/or comedy films, and if I do make these type of films, it is because I want to. I have worked in other genres, and really enjoyed it. I like to surprise my audience, so that they can never guess what to expect! Ultimately, I just love making films with people I admire and respect. A good film is about characters and feelings.

Q12 Do self-made actors like yourself have more motivation?

Yes, I think so! But this isn’t the case for everyone, each case is different. It is only natural to protect and work hard for something when you have been through hell to get it in the first place. I myself had no Godfather in the industry; I worked hard and wanted to constantly improve myself. My goal was to strive to be better, and so it was this drive that got me to where I am today. The only reason I am still here in this industry today is because of God’s grace, my parents blessings and my fans’ love.

Q13  Who do you admire in the industry? And why?

I admire everyone because it is hard to make it in the acting industry. Whether you are self-made or a star kid, the journey is still tough and not glamorous as it looks. Everyone in this industry deserves my admiration and that of the fans too. We all have the same vision and goal: to take Indian cinema to the next level. It is not a competition, it is a challenge and we’re all fighting for the same thing— our film industry, because without it, we’d all be nothing.

Q14 How do you protect your privacy when you encounter negative publicity? Does your discipline in martial arts help?

Yes, Martial Arts is a great source of strength, discipline and relaxation for me, in fact exercise is a great way for me to unwind and forget about my troubles. But the thing that really keeps me grounded is my family. I won’t be famous forever; I won’t be successful at work every day; and I won’t have fans who love me forever, but the one thing that I will have is my family, who will love me always, unconditionally.

 

Gabbar Is Back is scheduled for release internationally on 1st May 2015.

Far from the madding crowd

TEASER-1SHT_FFTMC_100723_fBased on the literary classic by Thomas Hardy, FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD is the story of independent, beautiful and headstrong Bathsheba Everdene (Carey Mulligan), who attracts three very different suitors:  Gabriel Oak (Matthias Schoenaerts), a sheep farmer, captivated by her fetching wilfulness; Frank Troy (Tom Sturridge), a handsome and reckless Sergeant; and William Boldwood (Michael Sheen), a prosperous and mature bachelor.  This timeless story of Bathsheba’s choices and passions explores the nature of relationships and love – as well as the human ability to overcome hardships through resilience and perseverance.

Typical to Thomas Hardy, he’s created a female character with a dilemma – see Tess of the d’Urbervilles – only this time it is ever so slightly more complicated.  Ignoring the classic “love triangle” in Far from the Madding Crowd, we have effectively a “love square” with Bathsheba falling for no fewer than 3 men and getting herself in a right pickle.  Who will she choose and for why?  Whilst the constraints of the time – the etiquette, decorum & scandal if certain ways weren’t adhered to, this is in fact quite a modern tale for a story first written 200 odd years ago: how money can change everything and how peoples perception of others can change because of money and status.

Opening in the UK on May 1st, this is just about the only period / costume drama I’d actually like to see.  The beautiful trailer is below.  

Daredevil – suit close-ups

MARVEL'S DAREDEVILAs long as you’ve not been living under a rock recently, you’ll know Daredevil has started on Netflix. Or quite possibly you’ll know exactly that and also have watched all of the first series by now!

Whilst the show builds up a genuine pace and the body count rises inexorably, one thing we as viewers are deprived of, is a proper good look at the suit. But as we can see from these lovely close-ups, it’s quite a beauty.

 

This really is a gritty, grounded, authentic, suspenseful and edgy action drama featuring a great cast that includes:

  • Charlie Cox as Matt Murdock / Daredevil
  • Vincent D’Onofrio as Wilson Fisk
  • Rosario Dawson as Claire Temple
  • Deborah Ann Woll as Karen Page
  • Elden Henson as Foggy Nelson
Vondie Curtis Hall as Ben Ulrich
  • 
Scott Glenn as Stick
  • Ayelet Zurer as Vanessa Marianna
  • Bob Gunton and Leland Owlsey
  • Toby Leonard Moore as Wesley

MARVEL'S DAREDEVIL

For those needing bit of background, this is a great kick-off point:

Blinded as a young boy but imbued with extraordinary senses, Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox) fights against injustice by day as a lawyer, and by night as the Super Hero “Daredevil” in modern day Hell’s Kitchen, New York City.

Daredevil is one of the best known characters among the street level heroes and is in fact – fingers crossed we hit the same levels of production budget, script etc – the first of four epic live-action adventure series (A.K.A. Jessica Jones, Iron Fist, and Luke Cage, all leading up to the teaming of the main characters in Marvel’s The Defenders) that delves into the backstory of how Matt Murdock evolves into Daredevil.

Marvel’s first original series on Netflix has quite some serious pedigree behind the scenes: Executive Produced by series Showrunner Steven S. DeKnight (“Spartacus”, “Buffy: The Vampire Slayer“, “Angel” ) and Drew Goddard ( “Cabin in the Woods ,” “Lost,” “Buffy The Vampire Slayer”, in addition to writing the first two episodes of Daredevil), along with Jeph Loeb ( “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” “Smallville,” “Heroes”), who also serves as Marvel’s Head of Television.

The longest ride, preview clip

The_Longest_Ride_posterComing to UK cinemas from 19th June, THE LONGEST RIDE centres on the star-crossed love affair between Luke, a former champion bull rider looking to make a comeback, and Sophia, a college student who is about to embark upon her dream job in New York City’s art world. As conflicting paths and ideals test their relationship, Sophia and Luke make an unexpected and life altering connection with Ira, whose memories of his own decades-long romance with his beloved wife deeply inspire the young couple. Spanning generations and two intertwining love stories, THE LONGEST RIDE explores the challenges – and infinite rewards – of enduring love.

The film stars Britt Robertson (Tomorrowland) and Scott Eastwood (Fury) in the lead roles as Luke and Sophia. Robertson and Eastwood are joined by Jack Huston (American Hustle), Oona Chaplin (Game of Thrones, The Hour) and Alan Alda (The Aviator, M*A*S*H*). Directed by George Tillman Jr. (Men of Honour), produced by Marty Bowen (Fault in Our Stars), Wyck Godfrey (Twilight series), Theresa Park (Best of Me), Nicholas Sparks (Safe Haven). The screenplay is written by Craig Bolotin (Light It Up).

Hollywood Boulevard was closed off on Monday evening (April 6)  as real life bull riders entertained the fans, and the stars of The Longest Ride walked the red carpet at the world famous Chinese Theatre. In attendance from the film were Scott Eastwood, Britt Robertson, Oona Chaplin, Lolita Davidovich, Melissa Benoist, director George Tillman Jr., author Nicholas Sparks and producers Marty Bowen and Wyck Godfrey.

Adapted from Nicholas Sparks’ (The Notebook) best selling novel, THE LONGEST RIDE is released this summer on Friday 19th June.

Take a peak at this clip below!

Vidhu Vinod Chopra Interview- Broken Horses

Sometimes a man can be so talented that facing him for a short chat can be intimidating. Writer- Producer- Director Vidhu Vinod Chopra is one of those men. He’s been involved with ground breaking cinema for a few decades and today he sat down with us to talk about his English venture Broken Horses.

Our Review of Broken Horses can be found here.

Broken Horses cast features – Vincent D’Onofrio (The Judge, FULL METAL JACKET, MEN IN BLACK), Anton Yelchin (LIKE CRAZY, STAR TREK, ALPHA DOG) and Chris Marquette (ALPHA DOG, THE GIRL NEXT DOOR). The cast includes popular Spanish actress, Maria Valverde (Exodus), Thomas Jane, and Sean Patrick Flanery.

 

MV5BMTEyODkzODExMzReQTJeQWpwZ15BbWU4MDU0NjM2NzQx._V1_SY317_CR12,0,214,317_AL_

From the Press Release:

The legendary film-maker, who has always set a new benchmark for the Indian film fraternity and has made some of the most memorable movies that India has cherished like the Munnabhai series, 3 Idiots, Mission Kashmir, Parinda, among several others, has once again decided to reinvent the wheel. He has stepped out of his comfort zone and with Broken Horses he becomes the first Indian filmmaker to make a Hollywood Production – it is the first Hollywood film produced, directed and written by an Indian!

Set in the shadows of the US-Mexico border gang wars, Broken Horses is an epic thriller about the bonds of brotherhood, the laws of loyalty, and the futility of violence. The film has been co-written by Vidhu Vinod Chopra and Abhijat Joshi (PK, 3 Idiots, Lage Raho Munnabhai, Mission Kashmir) and it based on an original story by Vidhu Vinod Chopra.

Broken Horses is in currently playing in selected theaters.

 

John Wick and Focus Review Upodcast

The latest Upod is a busy one and we are back in familiar territory to start with!  2015 is a pretty impressive year with its line-up of films, so with the newest James Bond trailer released, we had no choice but to SPECTRE-ulate about what we can ex-SPECTRE from Daniel Craig’s latest collaboration with Sam Mendes.  You can find more of our Bond musings here!
Another franchise movie showcasing its wares recently, but only a baby relatively speaking – with a lowly 5 outings to Bond’s 20 or so – Mission Impossible 5 looks like it should be an absolute winner.  We talk about what MI5 can bring to a now 20 year old series.  Just don’t ask Martin to re-watch MI2 or MI4…
Next up for review we talk about Netflix original, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and we focus on Focus, Will Smith and Margot Robbie’s new con-artist flick.  The con movie is another sub-genre we’ve previously visited as it happens and we’re certainly fans.
Last up and something that we know Ahmed likes, martial arts-revenge-assasination romp John Wick, starring Keanu Reeves and whole heap of others stars.
Stop by next time where we’ll be chatting all things Dare Devil and Fast and Furious among others…

Broken Horses: review

MV5BMTEyODkzODExMzReQTJeQWpwZ15BbWU4MDU0NjM2NzQx._V1_SY317_CR12,0,214,317_AL_In cinemas today, Broken Horses is Vinod Chopra‘s debut Hollywood feature and makes him the first Indian filmmaker to write, produce and direct a Hollywood film  Set in the shadows of the US-Mexico border gang wars, Broken Horses is an epic thriller about the bonds of brotherhood, the laws of loyalty, and the futility of violence.

Having left town as a child after the death of his father, young music prodigy, Jacob “Jakey” Heckum (Anton Yelchin), returns to his desolate hometown after years only to discover that Buddy (Chris Marquette), the child-like elder brother he left behind, now works for a notorious drug gang. The gang’s ruthless boss Julius Hench (Vincent D’Onofrio) has twisted Buddy’s simple mind and manipulated him into a killer…a surrogate son who blindly does as he is told.  Jacob is unable to convince Buddy to leave his new fraternity. Drowned in guilt for having abandoned him, Jacob realises the only way to save Buddy is from the inside out.

After a somewhat brutal opening that caught me by surprise, the movie quickly settles down into the present day and we see really how different the brothers lives have become.  With this established, the rest of Broken Horses is really about the local gangster and how, despite how he has manipulated Buddy, he is in fact scared of him, knowing he is weaker without him onside and that he cannot allow him to leave the gang.  The three main characters are really well played and it is always a pleasure to see Vincent D’Onofrio in anything.  It could have been very tempting and easy to get all of them chewing-up the scenery and bringing far too much to the film so I enjoyed the restraint.  The only thing I’d pick at here is using a Spanish actress (Maria Valverde, playing Jakey’s finance) with an obviously Spanish accent, to play an Italian.

Broken HorsesAs the story unfolds, we get to see some familiar Western tropes such as the matches, the desolate churches in the middle of the desert and some stunning vistas.  It really is a beautifully shot movie and looks and feels like a mix of the kind of emotional stories I’ve watched from Indian cinema and a modern-day Western.  Presciently, it also incorporates the unfortunate situation Mexico finds itself in at the moment regarding corruption, drug and gang violence.  At a modest 100 minutes, strangely for me, I felt I could have done with more movie.  Not that I was confused or couldn’t follow the plot, but a bit more about Julius Hench wouldn’t have gone amiss – elaborating on his fear of fire, his dead family and his relationship with a corrupt Mexican arms dealer all would have added to an already sterling film.

As someone who doesn’t know much at all about films coming out of India, I was so glad to see my first Vinod Chopra movie.  And it has made me really want to see his first and Oscar nominated film (made for $400 apparently) and of course his most recent blockbuster, PK.  Broken Horses is a beautiful film that is visually superb.  Equally, it will be something that boyfriend and girlfriend can enjoy together…it’s got some violence, but not blood-spatter and not with a huge body-count.  Definitely recommended and by the looks of things, better than anything else that’s showing my local cinema this weekend.

Enjoy the trailer below, or better still, don’t watch the trailer…I think it’s better seen without knowing the trailer…

 

 

American Sniper Review and Oscar Predictions

’tis the season to be Oscar.  Asim and Martin take aim and set their sights on Clint Eastwood’s latest target, American Sniper.  The most successful war movie of all time has taken America by storm, smashing box office records left, right and centre.  And of course yet more potential Oscar glory for its esteemed director.  Released this week in the UK, it remains to be seen if it can repeat its performance overseas.

Starring Bradley Cooper – looking super-manly with beard and huge muscles – and a barely recognisable Sienna Miller, American Sniper is based on the autobiography of Chris Kyle a US Navy SEAL who served multiple tours of duty in Iraq.  Taking to life in the armed forces like a duck to water, it’s the hum drum of everyday family life that asks the most difficult questions of our leading man.

This movie probably works best if you’re completely out of the picture as to our sniper’s life, both in and out of the SEALs, but we shall let you know if it hits the bulls eye or if it’s wide of the mark.  OK, That’s enough shooting related jokes for now.  Check out the trailer below!

Listen/download/ Stream the episode below or subscribe to our feed in iTunes and never miss all the goodies.

Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) Review

“How did we end up here? This place smells of balls.” says the disembodied voice of Birdman; the alter-ego of Michael Keaton’s Riggan Thomson in Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s ‘Birdman or (The Virtue of Ignorance)’. What’s Riggan doing whilst his inner demon and career-shading superhero delivers this opening line? Why, he’s meditating in the middle of his shabby, run down dressing room – hovering some four feet off the floor.
And so begins Riggan’s unhinged story; a man made super famous by his superhero role 25 years ago, now trying to resurrect his career by directing, producing and starring in a broadway play. The role was not written for Keaton, but the similarities are obvious.
Inarritu takes a single camera, cleverly making the whole thing look like its shot in one take – although obviously not, and practically shoves it in the faces of Riggan, and his nerve-wracking entourage including manager (Zach Galifianakis – a man on the edge of financial ruin), daughter (Emma Stone – just out of rehab) and cast (Ed Norton playing what I imagine is a cartoon version of Ed Norton and a twitchy Naomi Watts) as they all sink under the weight of their own self doubts and self importance at what feels like break-neck speed. No sooner have we dealt with one conflicting philosophical theory about art, acting, truth, or relationships then we are thrown into another – all set to a backdrop of clever set-ups like a play within a play which is actually a film although it feels like a play – see what I’m getting at?
The characters make fun of themselves, of each other, of roles they have actually played and eventually of things you as an audience member have watched and all of this should be too much and too clever for its own good were it not for just how wonderfully silly, bonkers and downright funny it is. You get the feeling that at any moment – and very much aided by the scatty drum score that accompanies every scene, that the whole thing will just end abruptly and derail, but it doesn’t, it very much goes the distance. This is because it’s brilliantly directed and every performance is outstanding; most notable of all being Keaton’s.
I’ve missed Michael Keaton. As a child of the 80s, I had two movie uncles; Bill. Murray and Michael Keaton. And whilst Bill Murray is your prickish, laid back movie uncle, gatecrashing your house party to serve tequila, Michael Keaton is the relative most likely to arrive at said party by driving a car through the wall with a goofy smile on his face – just me?
And although he hasn’t been completely missing from our screens for the past twenty years, he’s definitely been less prolific and apart from his TLC-loving captain spot in ‘The Other Guys’, has steered clear of the kind of insane-character stuff that gave him his fame in the 80s. But Keaton is best with the straight jacket off. Even as ‘Batman’ up against Nicholson’s scene-chewing Joker, with little to do in the way of impact except for wearing the costume, he nearly steals the show with his “Come on, let’s get nuts!” line. That’s because he means it!
Here, Keaton gets to pull out every trick he has and some we haven’t seen before as he lurches from one pre-show disaster to another. Comedy like this has missed his talents, and so have I.
Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) is in UK theaters from today.
Paul Mcghie is an Award-Winning Screenwriter, Director, London Lift-Off Film Festival Judge and git. You can check out his feature project here. His work is on Vimeo or you can follow him on twitter @DirPaulMcGhie

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Lingaa Upodcast Review

Superstar Rajinikanth returns to the big screen in a live action role after 4 years with KS Ravikumar’s Lingaa. As every release of the megastar there is quite a bit of excitement and looking at the initial box office numbers, it seems to be another killer at the box office.

Although we South Indian cinema has a special place in our hearts, we are not the experts we would like to be so we called our friend Josh Hurtado, who covers a lot of Indian cinema for TwitchFilm.com.

We speak about the Rajini Effect, the expectations attached to Lingaa, Sonakshi Sinha’s South Indian debut and how Lingaa compares to Rajnikanth’s massive hits with Shankar (Sivaji- The Boss, Enthiran).

If you haven’t seen the trailer for Lingaa yet, here is it.


You can check out more of Josh. work on TwitchFilm.

Or follow him on twitter on @HatefulJosh

Listen/Stream/Download the episode below. You can also subscribe to the Upodcast on iTunes so you never miss an episode!

Black Sea: review

blacksea

Black everything

Warning, review contains mild spoilers

Black Sea, is the latest from director Kevin MacDonald (Last King of Scotland). It features Jude Law (Sleuth, Dom Hemmingway) as    submarine captain Robinson, on the hunt for a submarine, lost somewhere in the Black sea and rumoured to be laden with gold.  There is a wide cast and it also features Michael Smiley (Luther, A Field in England). Firstly, if it’s got Michael Smiley, I’m always  interested and secondly, if it’s got Jude Law, I’m sometimes interested. This film therefore has good odds on it being excellent, given the director’s previous films.

We see Robinson being made redundant by a marine salvage company whom he’ served loyally for years. With a meagre payout, we can see his guilt about not raising his son, who lives with his mum and a wealthy step-father. Presented with the chance to lift gold from a lost Nazi submarine, from a decidedly shady operation, the crew gets assembled: half British, half Russian.

Once the mission is underway, tension mounts very quickly and before long the Aussie (previously described as a liability) has gone rogue, killing a Russian. One by one, the crew is whittled down – murdered, or killed by the sheer danger of what they’re doing.

This is one helluva tense movie! Most other submarine-based films don’t come close to this. I’ll put this down to a story that doesn’t quite go the way the trailer might lead you to believe and perhaps more importantly, a genuinely realistic re-creation of a knackered, Soviet-era submarine, complete with rusty machinery and filthy living conditions.

As the lure of the gold gradually overtakes the minds of the crew onboard, human rationale disappears, along with a few bodies and inevitably the ability to actually sail the submarine. By the time we reach the end, Robinson reminded me very much of Harry Caul, in The Converation: forlorn and hoist by his own petard.

A super-tense thriller that doesn’t disappoint; if you like your films to be realistic, dirty and grimy then this is for you. I’m not sure the girlfriend would enjoy this one, so you have been warned 😉

 

Happy New Year Review Upodcast

Farah and Shah Rukh Khan come together again after a long hiatus to give us Happy New Year which is shattering records left and right. Part Heist movie, part dance movie are they able to recreate the magic of their previous collaborationsMain Hoon Na and Om Shanti Om?

We are joined by Anisha Jhaveri and Danny Bowes to answer some of the most important questions in the history of Hindi Film Cinema:

Can a 6 pack actually be terrifying?

Is there something like a merry go round bar dancer?

Did Amir actually go “Full Retard” in the PK trailer?

Is it fair to have expectations from a movie like Happy New Year?

And does it deserve to make as much money as it did? Or do movies like Kick, Bang Bang and Dhoom 3 deserve it more?

As always you can listen/stream or download the podcast in the links below

Or subscribe in iTunes and never miss a beat!

@asimburney

Gotham/How To Get Away With Murder and Frank Review Upodcast

Sometimes in life, they say less is more, but we beg to differ.  For this episode of Upodcasting, more is more!  We squeeze in a load of TV shows and 2 movies.  Well, 3 movies if you include Asim coming very late to the X-men Days of Future Past party.  It could even have been 4, but Ahmed is further behind as he hasn’t even watched Guardians of the Galaxy (sheesh, come on Ahmed, get with the programme already!).

With the three un-wise men back on form, Upodcasting gears up for the autumn with Ahmed first up talking about TV shows Legends and Forever (both showing in the UK on Sky).  Martin doesn’t really count as he’s been “catching-up on” the A-Team (yes, really), but we still manage to cover Gotham, which debuted this week on Channel 5 in the UK, and How To Get Away With Murder.  Gotham has the most potential arguably, even with a known and in theory limited universe.

Back to movie-world and we talk about Woody Allen’s latest, Magic in the Moonlight, starring Emma Stone and Colin Firth.  Perhaps harsh to compare it to Blue Jasmine (yes, Martin did call the best actress Oscar first) but then what choice do we have?  It seems like with Woody Allen you have to apply some kind of logic as to hit or miss: it’s been 2 years, there’s been a lunar eclipse and he hasn’t been to court, therefore it’s a winner.  Thankfully it’s a good one and a lot easier to discuss than Frank, our final movie.  Starring Michael Fassbender, Domnall Gleeson and Maggie Gyllenhal but sort of not starring Michael Fassbender…this is certainly in the mould of an art-house movie and raises the question of artistic integrity and the motivations for artistic expression.  And that’s about as succinctly as we can express it without giving to much away.

Here’s the trailer for Frank:

As always you can stream/download or subscribe to our Podcast episode below:

The Imitation Game Review and London Film Festival Preview

As the London Film Festival rolls onwards, we are joined by writer, producer, DJ Shai Hussain and talk about the movies we are most looking forward to as well as give short thoughts on the ones we have already caught like Jason Reitman’s Men, Women and Children and Justin Simien’s Dear White People.

Our main review is the opening night’s The Imitation Game starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley and Matthey Goode based on the life of mathemetican Alan Turing and how he worked on cracking the Enigma machine and helping the allies defeat the Nazi regime during WWII.

Here are some of trailers of the movies we covered during our chat if you haven’t seen them yet:

As always download and subscribe to our Podcast in the links below.

You can find more of Shai’s work on http://about.me/ShaiHussain

Happy New Year / Slam Tour Report + New Charlie Promo

Farah Khan is suddenly a little tearful – “I’ve realised the journey is coming to an end“.

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Watching the star studded line up at the European press conference for the upcoming Happy New Year in a Central London hotel on a crisp Sunday morning, the camaraderie and strong bond between the cast was clearly evident. And if that is in the final product, then we really do have an amazing film to look forward to. Sonu Sood claimed it was “the biggest film ever made in India” and how it had been a “life changing experience working with Farah“. For Deepika Padukone, working with Shah Rukh in a lead role for the third time came very easily to her – not only did she know his processes but also revealed how she never questions anything that Shah Rukh tells her to do.

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Indeed, there was plenty of SRK mania evident at the conference and being in the same room with him, it was not hard to see why. Shy and unassuming, his poise and modesty came across with sincerity, gently encouraging to the Nepali journalist who had recently learnt Hindi when she asked a question and he seemed genuinely embarrassed when a French journalist offered him a book about him written in French as a gift. It was also touching to see how he made sure all his cast members got a chance to speak.

Things took quite an interesting turn when a press member suggested that the SLAM tour had allowed HNY to make all its money back before release and the rest was a money making exercise. The journalist also asked SRK what he had felt he had yet to achieve, cheekily adding on a request for SRK to reply in Hindi rather than English. SRK certainly gave a fitting reply in Hindi – explaining how a film could not guarantee it would do well at the box office and this was more a project of passion. As for his achievements, he said he wanted to give back to the audiences. It was interesting to see the superstar put on the spot and emerge with his dignity intact whilst shutting down the journalist.

Indeed, the SLAM tour has proved a blessing for HNY – as SRK explained: “We used the coincidence of the live concerts and film release as promo strategy” – certainly a savvy business idea which has been well received by the fans and by the rest of the cast too; apparently, we have not heard the last of the SLAM tour which may return once more in a different form in the future.

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All too soon, it was time to wrap up – it seemed the cast had more fun than anyone else, encouraging and teasing one another but with the feeling that the gathered audience were also in on the joke. How the film is received on release remains to be seen but it was Farah Khan who had the last word – explaining “HNY is a festival film – it is releasing on Diwali!” – let the festivities commence!

Happy New Year releases on 23rd October 2014

Here is a new poster and promo introducing the character of Charlie, played by SRK:


 

 

HNY_Poster Hindi

 

Bhushan Kumar is a film obsessed amateur fashionista who lives in London.

You can read more from him at www.bogeyno2.wordpress.com 

Or follow him on Twitter: @bogeyno2

 

Haider Review: Hamlet in Kashmir

Let’s get rid of the obvious to begin with. If you are here to know if you should consider watching Haider, releasing in cinemas on the 2nd October 2014, then here’s my comment. Vishal Bhardwaj’s Haider might possibly be his best work yet, and is a must watch, not just for cinema enthusiasts or Bard-purists. It is also an essential watch for anyone who appreciates art, in any form – be it visual, aural, and I am sure if smell-sense tech was advanced enough, Bhardwaj would have made that available as well. He does come very close.

Haider, based on Shakespeare’s longest and most-adapted play Hamlet, is possibly the most tragic tale out of the Bard’s body of work. Romeo lost Juliet and vice-versa, Othello lost his wife, but poor Hamlet – that poor fellow lost his entire family, his loved one, and even his would-be in-laws. This potent tale of the Prince of Denmark set in the late 16th century finds a seamless transition into the 1995 world of Kashmir – a land amidst militancy and martial rule, torn between power heads exercising control. This Kashmir does not look familiar to Shammi Kapoor, or colourful Shikaras, or one where Kishore and Lata would sing – Kitni Khubsoorat Ye Tasveer Hai. Kashmir here has the gloom of loss, of half-widows and their dried tears, of frozen waters, dead cold snow, of curfews keeping life indoors, and of angry fires burning – literally and metaphorically.

Hamlet, here called Haider (Shahid Kapoor), has been summoned by the “disappearance” of his father, Dr. Hilal Meer, a respected Doctor of the community who on humanitarian grounds, operates on the leader of a militant group in his own house. The opening scene shows an elaborate miltary operation that ends up in the destruction of the Meer’s family home. Haider’s return to Kashmir is greeted by his burnt down house, and he then finds his mother Ghazala (Tabu), laughing at his uncle Khurram’s silly dance and song routine. Haider, still deep in mourning, is disgusted and torn between grief for his father, anger for his uncle, and longing for his mother.

Thus begins Haider’s quest to find his father, unravel the mystery behind the disappearance, and also answer the many questions that face him. It being a Shakespeare tale, there is enough scope of theatricality, but there is also the risk of alienating audiences by setting up a story that is politically relevant, and yet having the characters to be out-of-place by making them speak lyrical monologues. Bhardwaj strikes the perfect balance between the two. Haider was brought up in a “shaayraana” household, where both the father and mother sing Urdu ghazals and recite poetry. The many paralles between the source play and this adaptation are clearly present. And yet, Bharadwaj’s Haider is a beast of its own that comes alive not just in its deviations from the source, but also in the striking eyes of its stellar cast. And what a cast it has.

The leads – Shahid Kapoor is brilliant. There is no other way to put it. You can see how thirsty he has been for roles such as this. And perhaps, only Bhardwaj can tap his talent. Until now, Kaminey remains the peak of his acting career. Haider is undoubtedly a few planes above that in terms of performance. Through the span of the movie, Haider’s sorrow, misery, anger, frustration and rage of vengeance all come alive in the eyes of Shahid Kapoor. It is hard to believe that the same guy was seen prancing with Sonakshi Sinha on Gandi Baat. More of this please.

Kay Kay Menon’s Khurram is the Claudius of the tale. And no one knows how to play a slime-ball or an “aasteen ka saap” better than this polished actor. Menon’s perfect thick-Kashmiri accent and his treachery are just textbook performances. And it looks textbook, because the dude knows what needs to be done with what is arguably the meatiest role in the tale. And Menon runs with it, even at times convincing me to feel sympathetic for his sins.

I’ll save the best for the last – Tabu as Ghazala, mother Meer or Mauji of Haider, proves again why she is often referred to as the best talent we have in the Indian film industry. Her sensuousness defies her age, her tears cry out to you, and her sorrow aches your heart. Her last act brought me memories of seeing her in Gulzar’s Maachis, a similar story of a woman caught in desperate circumstances, striving to reconcile with life and finding release in the unspeakable.

The supporting acts – Familiar TV actos Narendra Jha as Dr.Hilal Meer, and Lalit Parimoo are both striking, even in their short appearances. Shraddha Kapoor’s portrayal of Ophelia is note-perfect. In her Arshia, we see the the love that Haider longs for. Veteran actor Kulbhushan Kharbanda’s two lines are enough to echo in your head throughout the movie. And then there is Bhardwaj alumnus Irrfan. His appearance just before the interval is possibly the “show-stealing” entry scene that even lead heroes would envy and die for. Coupled with a electric bass guitar riff, a burnt eye, an evil walk, and a name called Roohdaar, Irrfan scorches the screen, even when Kashmir is drowned in snow. Not to forget, the comic relief provided by the two Salmans who cannot resist dropping a nod to “Salman of the 90’s” is pure chuckle-nectar. It sort of reminded me of Key and Peele’s appearance in the Fargo TV Series.10385367_10152668413883278_1398774271011645796_n

Speaking of snow and Kashmir, this review is not complete without singing praise of the DOP – Pankaj Kumar, who has painted this tale with a gloomy blue hue. Teamed with the action choreography scenes in snow, there is something poetic about seeing violence being unleashed on a white snow floor with crimson red blood splattered all over. Kumar sweeps through the Kashmir landscape, unveiling the chill in the wind, the warmth over a cup of Kahwah, and even capturing authentic visuals through his un-touristy lens.

Bhardwaj has also composed the music for the movie, and it is gorgeously woven into the narrative. As previously mentioned, the electric bass riff that announces Roohdar’s entry spreads its wings as the gravedigger’s song – and I believe that it will continue to haunt me and the audience long after the end credits have rolled. Then there is Sukhwinder’s Bismil – the musical play within Hamlet that has a life in itself. Perfectly choreographed, and some amazing rhymes written by the one and only Gulzar. It leaves me awestruck, and in some sort of a dilemma, whether I love Bhardwaj the director more than Bhardwaj the composer, or vice versa. Fortunately, I don’t have to choose.

Haider is an accomplishment. It is perhaps the most ambitious and lavish piece of work that has emerged from Indian cinema. Lavish not in terms of production value, or how many crores were spent on a certain costume. I mean lavish in terms of power packed performances commanding your attention. I mean lavish in terms of giving your gut a kick with every single frame that wraps a gamut of emotions. Bow down Mister! Bow down to the might of powerful cinema. Ab toh Aaao… Jaan Meri…

5 #Chutzpahs Out of 5

Haider plays in UK theaters from today.

Sujoy is a bonafide Bollywood fanatic, and loves good food, cinema, and sleep, in that order.

Follow him on twitter: @9e3k

Blog: http://OneKnightStands.Net

Tumblr: http://Bollypop.in

Magic In The Moonlight Review

Wei Ling Soo, (real name Stanley Crawford) renowned magician and exposer of fake mediums and scam artists, is summoned to the south of France by an old school friend and fellow magician to reveal and expose Sophie Baker who is conning a wealthy American family.

An eccentric misanthrope who believes firmly in science and not spirituality, Colin Firth’s resolve is tested when he encounters a talented medium, played by Emma Stone. If there is a trick being played, will he find out and if not, how will that affect his own beliefs and existence?

There’s never any trepidation when it comes to a new Woody Allen and always a pleasure to see what he’ll give you next. Sure, some work better than others, but as I said to my friend, I’m pretty sure the scores for his films range _DSF0273.RAFbetween 62% and 89% so it’s all pretty decent.

There is much to like about this film, including British actors and the lead Colin Firth, playing a role that reminded me of myself. However, the main acting action is between Firth and Emma Stone. It is also a pleasure to watch a film that is not laced with cut after cut and so allows the viewer to enjoy the scenes, setting and photography.

The south of France is made to look lovely, without being the outright focus (see Midnight in Paris for a love letter to a location). It’s a wonderful journey that our magician goes on. The stuffy, cynical, sceptical expert is full of pithy put-downs and is firm in his beliefs that there is no meta-physical, there is no spiritual side. But once Sophie has him convinced otherwise his outlook changes permanently – opening-up to the beauty of the natural world and Sophie’s own beauty. In many ways this is familiar story – e.g. Along Came Polly – with a pretty woman making the man see the error of his unromantic, awkward ways and open his eyes to something new.

I had a lot of time for Colin Firth and it felt at times it was almost only his movie, as there was very little from the supporting cast. But what of Emma Stone and her lovely red hair? Her appearance was a surprise I’ll be honest, but a good one I have to say! I thought she was well cast in the role of the clairvoyant and love interest; a bright, romantic and keen foil to Colin Firth’s miserable Englishman.

Overall I like this film, nowhere near as much as I like Blue Jasmine, but I do really like it. And that’s despite knowing how all of the trickery was being done for most of the movie. Sit back, take some time away from exploding robots and enjoy a romantic journey through the south of France.

Magic in the Moonlight is currently in UK theaters.

Here is the trailer:


@martincawley

Finding Fanny Upodcast Review

This Episode of Upodcast we are joined by the always wonderful Anisha Jhaveri in our search for Fanny. Before we get into our review of Homi Adijani’s follow of Cocktail starring the lumiscent Deepika Padukone, Arjun Kapoor, Pankaj Kapur, Dimple Kapadia and Nasseeruddin Shah, we veer of topic as we always do.

We give our thoughts briefly about Deepika’s cleavage-gate with Times Of India, Asim goes on a rant about being disappointed by highly praised “Hindies” and Anisha talks about how watching Kick almost broke her as a human being.

You can catch more of Anisha’s work at:

http://jhavanis.blogspot.co.uk/

http://www.popxo.com/author/anishajhaveri/

http://www.india.com/author/anishaj/

Or check out her previous appearances on Upodcast where we reviewed Gulaab Gang and Jiro Dreams Of Sushi (links below)

You can download/stream our episode below.

Or subscribe to our feed in iTunes:

 

 

Haider Press Conference

It might have been a rainy Tuesday morning after a bank holiday weekend but nothing was going to dampen spirits at the swanky London hotel where visionary director Vishal Bhardwaj and the dynamic Shahid Kapoor were in attendance to talk about their much anticipated next release Haider.

After showing those in attendance a sneak peek of the film (sorry, no spoilers here!), it was time to speak to Vishal and Shahid and find out what went into making one of Shakespeare’s most well-known and difficult plays into a Hindi film for a commercial audience.

Haider Press Conference

Excerpts below:

Why did you choose to adapt Hamlet for Hindi cinema?

Vishal Bhardwaj: Shakespeare has been my favourite because his dramas are so “juicy” – they have this conflict that is so universal that you can find those conflicts in any society because they are basic human conflicts.

So is Haider a faithful adaptation of Hamlet or a complete rewrite of the premise?

Vishal Bhardwaj: I always try to remain true to the spirit of the play rather than the text itself – that is what I also did in Omkara and I have also taken those liberties in Maqbool. In Haider, my ghost comes late, [whereas] in Hamlet, the play starts with the ghost so I have taken these kind of structural liberties but all those milestones which Hamlet is known for are there. But of course, it is a rewrite for me and I see it as completely my own work. It is very difficult to take Shakespeare’s burden off your head, especially when you are making a trilogy.

Shahid, the role of Haider is one of the most complex to play…Haider2

Shahid Kapoor: Especially when you are given contact lenses to wear and you are told you can only act with your eyes!

…so what were some of the challenges you faced in enacting this role?

Shahid Kapoor: One is usually used to doing movies which are largely single layered – it is very rare that you come across situations as an actor that are complex and I guess that’s where performance can actually come from. I just try to understand the character, his background, his mental state and just try and be honest with how that character would be feeling in that situation and I’ve pretty much played the whole role like that, I never tried to think of is this too many expressions, is this loud or is this not loud, I think those things are largely governed by the director.

This is your second film with Vishal – what is your working relationship like two films on?

Shahid Kapoor: I have a fantastic relationship with Vishal Sir – I think we had a really good relationship when we did Kaminey but now I think it has grown a lot, especially after this film, I felt very dependent on him, pretty much through the film, I would be very unconfident if I couldn’t see what his expression was after I had finished a shot, I felt the need for him and so, I depended a lot on him and if he seemed happy, I would feel like pretty much achieved what I needed to and we’re good.

 

It sounds like Vishal is quite the taskmaster!

Shahid Kapoor: He is very encouraging on set though and I’ve always felt that, a lot of people might feel because of the content that you view, that you must be feeling maybe he is really difficult, he pushes actors and does stuff but actually he provides you with a really good set of actors, really interesting new background and fresh content in terms of script, and all he does is encourage you on set. Actually, he has never been angry or upset with an actor – I’ve never seen him do that, which, you know, I guess is an amazing, amazing quality.

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Vishal, why did you choose to set the film in Kashmir?

Vishal Bhardwaj: I sincerely think that Bollywood has not been very sensitive towards Kashmir as [Kashmir] is the biggest human tragedy of modern Indian history. I had been reading about it a lot, I had been thinking about it a lot, that why have we not seen Kashmir from inside, why do we always have to go from outside. My eyes opened about what this region has gone through, this conflict and is still going through – that’s where I thought it would make the best backdrop for my film.

Haider completes a trilogy of Shakespeare’s tragedies that you have adapted for Hindi cinema (Omkara and Maqbool being the other two). What is next on the anvil?

Vishal Bhardwaj: Truly I want to make three comedies – a lot of serious stuff has happened for me so now I really want to get into comedies – there are so many. We [Shahid and Vishal] were talking about Comedy Of Errors

And Shahid, what will you take away from the experience of Haider?

Shahid Kapoor: What has lingered on is this feeling of why didn’t I do more films like this after Kaminey – that’s the one feeling I felt the most whilst shooting Haider. It was very enriching experience as an actor and when you do films like this, it reminds you of why you wanted to become an actor actually and then a lot of other things take over and I guess that holds true for any profession – we all get into something because at a certain age, there are certain things that attract you to a particular profession and then when you do it, there are rare opportunities where the things that you did it for are the things that you actually do it for. I really felt I should have done more films like this after Kaminey and I’m very clear that I want to do one such film every year for my journey as an actor.

Haider is set for a worldwide release on 2nd October 2014.

 

Bhushan Kumar is a film obsessed amateur fashionista who lives in London.

You can read more from him at www.bogeyno2.wordpress.com or follow him on Twitter: @bogeyno2

Kick Review and Bollywood Catch Up Upodcast

Our good friend FilmiGirl was nice enough to join us this episode and we had a VERY long but long overdue chat about tons of topics any Bollywood afficionado would be interested in.

We start with a rundown of this year’s releases and we give Filmigirl a ton of homework to catch up on since she is back from hiatus. Then we look towards the rest of the 2014 release calendar and the movies that are looking interesting and 3 that we agree on look terrible (funily for different reasons)- Can you guess which ones they are?

We wrap things up with a main review of Salman Khan’s Eid release Kick which is probably going to be one of the biggest BO earners every *until that records get shattered as Asim‘s predicts maybe even this year.

As usual we go off on many a tangent, but I guess that’s the reason you guys listen to us!

Let us know what you thought of this Upodcast Episode by streaming/downloading it below.

Or you can subscribe to us in iTunes in the links below and never miss a beat!

Kick Cast Interviews

A Copy/Paste job of some PR Media interviews we received from the Kick Cast (Sajid Nadiadwala, Nargis Fakhri, Chetan Bhagat, Mithun)

Usual Questions and quite bland answers but in a weird way, i’m having a very sanitized feeling about Kick in general. Maybe I don’t want to get my hopes up but the marketing of the movie has just made me feel a bit iffy about it.

Sajid Nadiadwala (Director)

Q: Kick marks your directorial debut, what made you step into your director shoes?

A: I think it was fate really; it happened so fast! It’s funny how things turn out in life. I was in a meeting with Salman, narrating the script to him, when all of a sudden he said, ‘Why don’t you direct it!’ I didn’t even have time to consider the offer, before I had even nodded he was jumping and hugging me and shouted across the room ‘Grandson is turning director.’  Before I even had time to share the news he had already written in his planner that a new director was coming. It’s been a wonderful experience and I felt right at home doing it.

Q:   Did your experience as a producer help you in your debut?Sajid Nadiadwala - Kick

A:  Absolutely! As a producer I have worked with extremely talented directors and have gained knowledge and experience from working side by side with them. One becomes seasoned after so many films.

Q: What was your most memorable day on the set of Kick?

A: My first day on the set, definitely. I was calm and ready to don my director’s hat. I felt completely at ease on set and was lucky to have a very professional foreign crew. I decided to start with an action scene, as I feel most comfortable with it. Everything went down smoothly, and as we were wrapping up I thought to myself I am a director now!

Q: What makes Kick unique?

A: I had a clear and unique vision for Kick and thanks to my amazing team it has come together far beyond my expectations. The script is great, the high-octane stunts are gripping and the locations where we shot are stunning. Salman and I were set on creating something new. It’s very different to his earlier films.
Q: We’ve heard you spent more than 72 hours at a stretch buried in the editing room

A: I can’t help it I’m a perfectionist. When you are dedicated to make a project succeed you forget everything else around you, including the time!

Q: Has Salman been a help to you on this adventure?

A: Absolutely. It was great fun discussing our ideas, brainstorming and working out the scenes together. He’s been very helpful and completely supportive of my vision. All in all, it has been a great experience.

Q: How do you feel about the release of Kick?

A: I am very excited. It has been a wonderful ride and now we have to enjoy the result of all our hard work. The trailer received five million views in 59 hours, so I expect great things for this film.

 

 

 Chetan Bhagat (Screenwriter)

Q:  Did you enjoy writing the screenplay for ‘Kick’? Does it mean that you are becoming more and more involved in the film-making process?

A: I did enjoy it. It was fun, plus Salman Khan was in it, so it was an honour too. But it doesn’t mean that I will become a screen writer. Occasionally, I might get into all this again, but I am more than happy with just being an author. I am comfortable with my books, giving motivational talks and writing columns. Those are the areas I want to dedicate my time to.

Q: When you’re writing a book do you automatically think of how it would pan into a film?

A: No, not really. I can’t think of it that way. Writing books was, is and will be my passion; it doesn’t really matter if it will be made into a movie or not. Moreover, if my book is good, then the filmmakers would approach me anyway. I wouldn’t have to do anything extra to get my books made into a movie.

Q:  What inspired you to start writing?

A:To be honest, I just wanted to do something different. I always liked writing and I thought it could be a great hobby. The only thing I did not know is that there would be so many people who would like my writing.

Q:  When is your next book coming out? What is it about?

A: It will be coming out in October this year (2014). I don’t want to spoil the book for you, so I won’t say a lot about the plot, except that it is a rural Indian love story. It is slightly different from the other books I’ve written so far, but I hope that my readers will enjoy it.

Q: Why did you agree to write the screen-play for ‘Kick’?

A: I’ve known Salman from the time of Hello, the movie version of my novel One Night At The Call Centre. But I never had a chance to work with him. So this was a perfect opportunity. Also, when I saw the original version of Kick, I loved it, but I felt like there is potential to take the content deeper. Sajid [Director] is debuting with Kick too and he has a huge vision for it – hopefully I will be able to make it come true.

Q:  What is ‘Kick’ about?

A: Kick is about a guy who lives life only for his kicks, a powerful concept and a perfect recipe for a Salman-Nadiadwala blockbuster.

 

Nargis Fakhri (Actress) Q&A

Q:  Were you excited to work with Salman Khan?

A: I was nervous! He’s such a big Bollywood star, I was afraid I’d mess something up. When I went to the set and met him, all my fears faded away. Salman is a very positive person and his sense of humour is amazing! I had such a great time working with him and the whole team.

Q:  You had some problems with your knee whilst shooting the song ‘Yaar Na Mile’. Did it affect your performance in any way?

A: Yes, I suffered from a ruptured knee and it was extremely painful, but I pulled myself together because I know that opportunities like this don’t appear very often. I have no idea how, but I managed to complete it in just four days.

Q:  It’s your second item number. Do you think there will be more?Nargis Fakhri & Salman Khan - Kick

A: I really enjoy dancing, but I don’t want to be seen as just an item dancer. Acting is my passion and I want to do some good meaty roles. I am currently talking to different directors, but nothing has been finalised just yet.

Q:  You will be making your Hollywood debut quite soon. What do you prefer Bollywood or Hollywood?

A: I think it has to be Bollywood. I am feeling more comfortable in Bollywood because I have spent more time here and I do have a much better understanding about it. Besides dancing and music is my passion, this is why I prefer to spend more time here [Bollywood].

 Q: Tell us a bit more about your dance number?

A: It is a very urban, edgy yet sexy dance number. There was a lot to learn. At first I thought I might miss some steps, but everything went brilliantly well. Salman has a great energy and I think that is what made me so comfortable around him.

 

Mithun Chakraborthy (Actor) Q&A

 Q:  You are known for being very particular about the roles you accept, what was so special about Kick that made you sign?

 A:  After 375 films, I would say I’m fortunate to be able to consider carefully which roles I take on. I don’t accept a role for the sake of it, there has to be something special about the character that draws me to the film.  When I read the Kick script I thought my character was hilarious, so I said yes. I thought it was a great project to be a part of.

Q: Your success as an actor and disco dancer has made you an icon of Hindi cinema, did you ever think you would make it this far?

A:  When I started out I was hopeful and determined, and took my career one step at a time. When you are an actor there is no point in predicting your success, I always say that luck plays a very big role in an actor’s life. It’s not easy being discovered, you have to be at the right place, at the right time.

Q: As Bollywood’s disco king, how important is dance in your daily life?

A:  Dance has and will always be a part of me. Whenever I’m sad the dance floor is my escape. I get positive energy through dancing. I am so lucky to be able to make my hobby an important part of my career and I don’t hesitate to accept projects that allow me to dance.

‘KICK’

Releasing worldwide through UTV Motion Pictures on 25th July 2014

Hemalkasa Review Liff 2014

In true tradition, the closing night of the 5th London Indian Film Festival featured one of the biggest and highly anticipated movie premieres of the festival – Samruddhi Porey’s biopic Hemalkasa. Based on the life of renowned social worker and Magsaysay award winner Dr. Prakash Baba Amte, the highlight of this feature was not just its subject matter, but also its top notch star cast – Nana Patekar and Sonali Kulkarni in the title roles of Prakash and Mandakini Amte. And there’s veteran actor Mohan Agashe as well, portraying the role of Prakash’s father, Baba Amte. With such big names, and a big story to tell, one would expect nothing less than a spectacular closing to the festival. Unfortunately, all of that expectation comes crumbling down pretty soon, right after the movie begins.

It was quite unfortunate, that the screening began with a short – Director Shubhashish Bhutiani’s Kush selected by the Satyajit Ray foundation as this year’s Best Short Feature). I say unfortunate, because as soon as that short concluded, and the opening titles of Hemalkasa rolled onscreen, I could tell that it wasn’t going to be at par with any of the movies I had seen in the festival, including the short that preceded it. Blame it on the extremely disturbing choice of font styling for the titles (which made me think if the director had got her young nephew to do it, who had just learnt about WordArt on PowerPoint). Or perhaps it was the unnecessary addition of laughably awful CG explosions. But wait, there is more.

The intro scene of Nana Patekar features him doing a sheersasan, with his upper half submerged. The director chooses this scene to be the best moment to let us know that Prakash Amte is perhaps a cross between Singham and Doctor Dolittle. So, just next to Patekar, there is a tiger washing himself. I love tigers. Onscreen ones to be precise (read my review of Ulidavaru Kandante). But this tiger, my friends, is the worst CG copy-pasted tiger to have ever existed. Patekar rises from underwater and walks out like a Bond girl. And accompanying him, is CG-Tiger. And in that moment, I knew that Hemalkasa is not going to be a movie that I’d like. And this was just the first 10 minutes of the movie.

In the course of its unbearable 117 minutes, Porey depicts the tale of this relentlessly generous man, and his many struggles and how he overcomes them. The narration is mediocre at its best, and extremely irritating at its worst as it jumps through the different stages in Amte’s life. I can see Porey trying hard to squeeze in as much detail as she can, as if she is begging for the audience to applaud at how unreal Amte’s sacrifices are in comparison with the cynical world we live in. But she hardly leaves any breathing space on a specific event for the audience to feel connected. The editing could be the culprit here. There are way too many events jam-packed into this, and yet, each one feels stretched out, or sometimes repetitive. I felt like I was compelled to watch an episodic TV series, albeit a boring one.

I can understand the underlying sentiment of the filmmaker might have been to genuinely show her reverence for Prakash Baba Amte. And nothing that I say here will take away from what Baba Amte’s influence is on people in India and all across the world. Neither does it undermine his efforts in any shape or form. But there is a clear distinction between the story and the story-telling. When asked in the Q&A section, what the real Prakash Amte’s reactions were on watching his own biopic, director Porey responded that Amte’s reply was – “I felt as if a camera was left on from my childhood to my present day, and I was watching it all on the big screen”. As a cinema lover, I cannot translate that to be a compliment.

This is a classic case of a filmmaker falling too much in love with the source, and failing to say “Cut”. There are numerous attempts by its stellar lead pair – Patekar and Kulkarni, who give earnest performances, and try to save this sinking ship. But it is too late by then. There are “Gods must be crazy” inspired scenes featuring the local tribes of Hemalkasa. You know the kind where they discover modern medicine, radio etc. But even these scenes failed to charm me. And the amount of bad-acting provided by its extras could put Farah Khan’s extras to shame. By the time the director decides to make Sonali Kulkarni and Nana Patekar give one-last-push with a breakdown scene when their domestic pet Leopard passes away, I was rolling my eyes. Looking at the audience around, I could see most attendees staring at their watches, or fast asleep. It is hence ironic to see that this feature won the runner up Audience Award.

 

This journey to Hemalkasa had the entertainers on the list, but was boring all the way.

 

For more info head on over to http://www.londonindianfilmfestival.co.uk/

@9e3k

OneKnightStands Bollypop | 9E3K | @9E3K

Santosh Sivan MasterClass BFI LIFF 2014

London Indian Film Festival brought with it the golden opportunity to spend an evening with ace Indian cinematographer/director – Santosh Sivan. As a fan of his work, this was something not to be missed, and I went in with high expectations. Held at the BFI Southbank, the Santosh Sivan Masterclass was being conducted by BBC Radio Presenter Nihal.

It started off as a QnA session on Sivan’s early inspirations that drew him towards the visual medium. Sivan’s stories clearly depict his childlike enthusiasm at nature’s offerings. And unsurprisingly enough, that enthusiasm is still alive, and is quite obvious in the way he narrated his stories, and also from the fondness that is conveyed. Most of his quirky experiences have somehow translated into his cinema.

Later on, we moved to the milestones of his career. To name a few, Mani Ratnam’s Roja, Iruvar, Thalapathi, and Dil Se, and his own directed features – Asoka, Terrorist, and Before the Rains. Sivan’s passion for storytelling, whether in feature film format, or documentaries was also one of the discussions in this masterclass.

His latest work – Ceylon, was met with a few controversies, and was pulled from the cinemas. Hopefully, we should get to see Ceylon in the near future. Here are 15 quotes from his masterclass.

On his early inspiration: My grandma always use to narrate me stories in a very cinematic way. The moon rose, then the night lit. So that has been my visual inspiration.

On why he chose cinematography: I used to love taking black and white pictures. If I wasn’t a cinematographer, I would be a farmer. Because I’d be very close to nature.

On how he deals with child actors: You don’t try to change child actors, but adapt yourself to them. Otherwise  you’d be changing the reason why you took them in the first place.

On Chhaiya Chhaiya: Sharukh Khan was the fastest thing on that train.

On his favourite scene: The complexity and lighting of the scene in Iruvar when Mohanlal wave shis hand and there is a crowd cheering loudly, that reminds me of the hard work we put in to achieve that. So that scene is special to me.

On actors and their insecurities: I often tell actors to act as if the camera is their best friend. And put as less makeup as possible.

On whether it is possible to be a director without being a cinematographer:
I disagree with that. Because it is not good too much of everything. A director can have a visual sense, and an idea of his end product, without knowing cinematography.

On his favourite international film: Bicycle Thief is one of my favourite films. Because it is a very little, and very real film.

On perceiving beauty visually: I wake up in the morning at 5 am, and see the world in monochrome. Then the first rays of sunlight appear, and you see the world in soft light. Then the bright light starts to appear. It is like the universe is putting on a show for you.

On how he handles his sensory overload when he sees beauty all around you: Smoke some cigarettes and a drink.

On Asoka: Even now I feel very proud of that film. It was inspired by my school teacher, who wanted to be a theatrical actor. And he used to teach us of Asoka.

On his collaboration with Mani Ratnam: He is an old friend, and a creative ally. We do have differences on set, and even fights. But at the end of the day, we just want to make the best film we can.

On why he chooses to make documentaries: It is like telling a real tale of how it was set in time somewhere. That excites me.

On his most embarrassing work : I don’t have any such list of work that I should be ashamed of. In the same way, I do not have a favourite project. I cannot sit on my past achievements. My best is always coming next.

On the controversy surrounding his next feature Ceylon: It got pulled because I did not want any tension around the election period. I am releasing it again, after getting an approval from those who objected to it without even seeing the film. I will be showing it to them.

For more info head on over to http://www.londonindianfilmfestival.co.uk/

@9e3k

OneKnightStands Bollypop | 9E3K | @9E3K

Daawat-e-Ishq Title Song and Trailer

Yash Raj has just released the first song promo from Daawat E Ishq starring Parineeti Chopra and Aaditya Roy Kapur, releasing in theaters september 5th.

Here is the synopsis of the movie from the YRF website and to be honest I have read it several times and I still can’t make head nor tails of what the story is about:

Meet Hyderabad ki tez Gulrez (Parineeti Chopra) and Lucknowka aashiq Tariq (Aditya Roy Kapur) in a love story from Yash Raj Films’ kitchen, where Love gets Spicy, Love gets Sweet, Love gets Bitter!

A shoe-sales girl, disillusioned with love because of her encounters with dowry-seeking men and a cook, who can charm anybody with the aroma and flavours of his biryani and kebabs, come face to face in the clash of diametrically opposite but equally spicy cultures of Hyderabad and Lucknow.

In her quest to find her Mr. Universe, she comes up against “Big Boss Hyderi Kebab” and in the process of arriving at a “tuning-setting”, Gullu and Taru rewrite traditional recipes of love, crush old-fashioned world-views and make their own masaledaar albeli pichchar… a deliciously romantic Daawat-e-Ishq!

YRF continue it’s streak where the city is the 3rd character yo! so  there seems to be a lot of Lucknow and Hyderabad flavors. (somewhere I blame Vicky Donor for this trend but it might have started earlier, I just hated Vicky Donor).  I’ve had trouble telling  their movies apart for the last decade or so, for my money this looks the same as Dil Bode Hadippa but with interchangeable actors or backdrops (Now he’s a cook, now she’s a crook!).

This must be the way YRF conceives their properties now:  Put in random ideas in a cookie box, pull 3-4 cards out, put them on a white board, lock some writing interns in until Habib Faisal is happy to sign off on the result and Adi Chopra approves the budget. Pour over standard YRF Art design and marketing, top it of with a shitty poster.

It almost makes me miss the mountains of Switzerland!

Since I was unaware that Aashiqui 2 was an actual movie and not just a super addictive music album, I still haven’t gotten round to watching it. So I was quite unaware that Afro Dork from London Dreams and Guzaarish has grown into a full on hearthrob. Ironic, when the character he played was an abusive alcholic in that movie, maybe some of people feel they can “save” him. I think there is a psychological term for that which I’m too lazy to google.

Parineeti Chopra is the main reason I would want to catch this on Netflix. She has been consistency the light of any project she has been in, and honestly I feel she deserves top billing now. There is a bit of criticism that she plays the same role over and over again but she’s quite a young actress still finding her feet and excelling whilst doing so. And might I say those are some very fancy hair extensions she has on.

Here is the full trailer again if you missed it, gives you a chance to see more Parineeti.


DEI_Poster3

Daawat-e-Ishq celebrates its worldwide release on 5th September 2014

@asimburney

HERCULES – NEW ‘ARMED FOR BATTLE’ FEATURETTE : The Rock throws a horse!

I’m trying to rack my brain when I was last excited for a Brett Ratner movie, it might have been Kites, how young and innocent were we back in those days? But Hercules has me totally psyched, The Rock can do no wrong and he has been preppring this movie and pushing it on Social Media for what seems ages.

Here they are both talking about some of the weapon and action choices:

 

1401801723-HerculesIntlTeaserOnline

 

Synopsis:
Paramount and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures’ film HERCULES, starring Dwayne Johnson, bows on July 25. Based on Radical Comics’ ‘Hercules,’ this ensemble-action film, featuring an international cast, is a revisionist take on the classic myth set in a grounded world where the supernatural does not exist. HERCULES also stars Ian McShane, Rufus Sewell, Joseph Fiennes, Peter Mullan and John Hurt.

HERCULES muscles into cinemas in the UK and Ireland on JULY 25th 2014

Farhan Akhtar LIFF Screen Talk at the BFI

That Farhan Akhtar is a multi-talented being is beyond doubt – just look to his amazing body…of work as an actor, director, writer, singer, lyricist, producer and general Mr Congeniality of Hindi cinema. But damn it, he is rather likeable too – at least I felt I wanted to hang out with him a bit more after a screen talk at the BFI Southbank. As part of the London Indian Film Festival 2014, (which is fast going from strength to strength and now a major event on the South Asian cultural calendar in London) and hosted by editor of Sight + Sound, Nick James, the evening quickly felt like spending time with a friend of a friend who you want to be friends with.

In front of a packed audience which also included filmmaker Vidhu Vinod Chopra (whose presence was the surprise of the evening; when Farhan named the Munnabhai series as having a great social impact on society, the audience were alerted to Chopra’s presence and broke into spontaneous applause), his wife Anupama Chopra, who is perhaps the most sanguine film reviewer in India today, Bollywood casting powerhouse Mukesh Chabbra  and director of recent superhit Queen, Vikas Bahl, Farhan charmed with tales of how he started as an assistant director to avoid being thrown out of home and how he would cut class at college to watch films.

Photo Credit: London Indian Film Festival 2014
But there was also lots of unexpected fun – Farhan managed to make Nick James lose his calm composure and corpse into uncontrollable laughter a few times as well as delighting the audience with an impromptu snake dance (an interest he shares with Shah Rukh Khan) as well as singing the title song from Rock On! It was also interesting to hear Farhan talk about Dil Chahta Hai and Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (including being unable to look at a tomato for a good six months post the Ik Junoon song filmed at the Tomatina festival in Spain). One did miss the inclusion of Lakshya which was a significant film in his career but with time of the essence, there was lots to get through.

When finally it was time for the audience Q&A, there was lots of enthusiasm and whilst a request for a hug from a determined fan was not quite appropriate, only the stoniest heart would have denied a two year old girl a hug and kiss from her favourite actor (though Farhan didn’t take a selfie with a fan who had come from New Zealand which felt unfair, especially as her question regarding how he worked with Zoya was one that seemed to pique his interest). All too soon, it was time to wrap the session up but not before a clip showing Farhan in his career defining role as Milkha Singh in Bhaag Milkha Bhaag. What added to this was how Farhan shared how he embraced the grueling process to achieve that amazing athletic look.

As I left the Southbank feeling inspired and pleased, fans had thronged all the possible exits hoping to get a photo with Farhan as he made his way to the after party. Inspiring that kind of affection and keeping it is not easy but then this is the very talented Mr Akhtar we are talking about here – and there is no doubt that as he forges ahead with anything he chooses to do, it will be with a degree of class, dedication and a disarming and endearing sense of humour.

Bhushan Kumar is a Hindi film and fashion obsessed being living and working in London.

Follow Bhushan on Twitter: @bogeyno2

Blog: http://bogeyno2.wordpress.com/

Anima State Review LIFF 2014

AnimaState_01The moment I was walking out of the screening of Anima State I was accosted by an elderly Pakistani gentleman. He asked me if I was from a TV channel (I said no) then he started a 15 min diatribe about how a movie like Anima State is an embarrassment to Pakistan, it is un-Islamic and why do “our” film makers feel the need to “make themselves look good” in front of the whole world by making “our motherland” look bad. Although I was trying hard to contain my laughter at the absurdity of the situation, I did truly feel bad for this poor uncle. He had walked into the movie theater hoping to see a Pakistani movie (an Industry which has never reached it’s true potential and doesn’t get the distribution to reach its audiences) in his local Cineworld, he had no notion of what Anima State was about before swiping his Unlimited card and was ready to walk out as soon as the main lead started to masturbate in front of a cricket match.

So just as a disclaimer for any other uncles possibly walking in, Anima state directed by Hammad Khan is not a Pakistani movie but a movie made by a Pakistani Londoner set in Pakistan, it is more of an art installation than a movie for general audiences and the frustrations it speaks about could honestly be set in any country but here the film makers deals with some personal issues he has with Pakistan. This is quite a big difference and something that wasn’t clear to many of the people attending screening and the Q&A after the screening (or even to the moderator leading the Q&A).

Anima State isn’t linear or plot driven and might have may interpretations but here is what I could understand (with minor spoilers).

The first ¾ of the movie we follow, The Stranger, a traveller whose face is covered in bandages, as he goes on a killing spree of the people he feels are morally corrupted: the urban youth, the corrupt police and media as well as the people that choose to be happy even when there is misery around, culminating in a Network styled- “I am mad as hell and I won’t take it anymore” monologue after shooting his way into a news studio.

The moments of introspection during this killing spree are when he is faced with Pakistani womanhood in 4 different forms: the wife, the beggar, the teacher, the whore (all played by actress Malika Mufti). It is also the last of these encounters that allows him to wake up from his nightmare and realize that he is not this Stanger but (SPOILER START) a filmmaker who has returned to Pakistan after many years. (It was all a dream people!)

A film maker who gets ridiculed and beaten up by twitterati hipster for that last movie he made and when questioned by the police at a random street corner, escapes the country, leaving his camera to a local boatman so that he can make movies ” of his wife and children” which might be of better use than being a film maker in Pakistan and trying to make an actual change when the ones in power are holding all the cards in their hands.

Anima State is a movie isn’t entertaining and can’t be measured in words as good or bad. It’s not a fun time and it requires the audiences to engage with it, as the movie of David Lynch or even Indian director Qaushiq Mukherjee (AKA Q) but lacking the hypnotism or visual flair of those film makers. The movie serves the director Hammad Khan more than by being his catharsis more than audience’s as there are no answers, and some of the questions raised might be pointless.

Quite a few of the metaphors are very much on the nose ie the dancing monkey, the masturbation scene, and the cell phone story. It also want to have it’s cake and eat it where it wants the Pakistani audience to wake up but refuses to fight with or for them, where it pre-emptively mocks the potential online reviews and backlash he gets for this or his previous movie.

But Anima State is still commendable as a sophomore effort and what I imagine must have been a tight budget that required quite a bit of guerilla filmmaking.

A very interesting movie and one of which visuals; themes and even the music create a lasting impact if and only if you aren’t turned off by the visual thought dump Hammad Khan projects on screen. His previous movie Slackistan was banned in Pakistan and Anima State is probably going to go down the same route.

And that is a shame as a lot of frustration on screen is what day to day Pakistani’s feel and unlike the bandaged protagonist of the movie, do not have the luxury to run away the moment they realize that they have been living a nightmare.

@asimburney

Ulidavaru Kandante Review LIFF 2014

Ulidavaru Kandante_01[Disclaimer: Due to messed up scheduling at the screening venue (for London Indian Film Festival), I missed the first 30 minutes of Ulidavaru Kandante, as I was still watching Goopi Gawaiya Bagha Bajaiya (review link here). This post is hence, more of a rant on the remaining 4/5th of the Ulidavaru Kandante experience.]

So, as I walked in straight into the world of Ulidavaru Kandante (UK, As Seen By The Rest) at 00:30:00, I was met with the end of Chapter 1, and a journalist called Regina (Sheetal Shetty) talking about something that went wrong, referred to as “the Incident”. I was left confused, and yet curious about what this incident was, and if I had missed it in the first 30 minutes. But at the same time, I was glad I that I came in just in time for the beginning of Chapter 2 – the story of Richi. Cue smoke machines, theatrical spotlights on, and through the smoky mist, enters our hero – director Rakshit Shetty as Richi, the cocky cop who oozes testosterone in every frame. This is one of those alpha male leads that’s part Tony Montana, part Vijay Dinanath Chauhan, and part Chulbul Pandey, sans the Sonakshi pyar-thappar angle, or the drunk sillyness. At first glance, Shetty looks like a long lost brother of Mahakshay ‘Mimoh’ Chakraborty, but one who can actually act, and commands attention, and minus 20-30 kilos (to be confirmed). Richi is not a do-gooder or a Robin Hood. He has a reputation to take care of, and even in a lungi, gulping down on local desi-daaru, with an unkempt moustache, that reputation brings broken noses for the unlucky ones. And that tiger dance, oh yes, I get that Singham metaphor. Richi does not walk, he has the gait of a lion, make up or not.

Coming back to the story, or stories rather, the trailer is quite spoilerific in my opinion. There is an incident, which we don’t know of, until the climax i.e. There are multiple witnesses, and their multiple/conflicting point-of-views, a Pulp-Fiction-esque MacGuffin red bag with shiny contents, and many bullet shots. There’s tiger-painted people dancing(I like tigers). If that sounds like UK borrows a lot from cinema pop-culture, yes it does. Does it look like a copy? No, it does not. Shetty’s influence is visible, but UK is a beast of its own. You can smell the authenticity in the environment, and it is quite obvious how comfortable it is in its own skin, and yet does not shy away to flash its influences – from Kurosawa’s Rashomon, to Scarface, to even Frank Miller’s Sin City. The director expertly hides the details, and patiently peels off each layer. With cliffhangers at the end of each chapter, and each chapter serving as a teaser for the final reveal, UK works because of its sharp editing, its crisp script, and the believability of the world that surrounds these characters.

Kudos to the DOP Karm Chawla to have presented Malpe in its most stunning onscreen version – from the warm views of the washed clean sea and sandy beaches, to the amber nights lit with fire. Painted tiger faces never looked this great. The hustle and bustle of Janmashtami festival in temple city Udupi errupts with its vibrance and is a colour overload of sorts. And that entry scene of Richi through the smoke (mentioned above), as he says “Phata Poster Nikla Hero” is a wolf-whistle worthy one. Coupled with a loud drum-heavy background score, UK does not go easy on your senses.

Donning the acting jobs, the supporting cast do pretty well. Worth mentioning are Tara as Ratnakka – that scene when she sees her son after 15 years, and bursts into tears, gave me goosebumps. Little Sohan Shetty as street-smart kiddo Democracy steals the show in many scenes. And Kishore as Munna, is the missing piece in the whole puzzle. He provides the much needed gravitas, the heart that glues the tale. His wide-eyed dreamy stoner romance makes you chuckle, and also leaves you sad. But of course, above all, this movie belongs to Rakshit Shetty. Not only as the onscreen lead dude, but also as the offscreen one.

On the surface,it looks like yet another South-Indian alpha male hero rescuing damsels-in-distress. But UK is not content with that template, and breaks the norms. It is a tall rebel, heck it’s the “Rebel Alliance” on its own, which even though has a vernacular language, its speech is loud and global in all respects. Shetty’s attempt at marrying the two, often looks effortless, but only shows the confidence in his craft. It is nothing short of groundbreaking. I am highly curious of what is coming up next on his filmography. If this is what the new wave of Kannada cinema has to offer, count me in. I will drive that hype train.

This has been the best of the London Indian Film Festival’s offering this year.

5 Tigers Out of 5. ROAR!!!

[Footnote: I have deliberatley tried not to tell you much about this movie, and would rather have you check it out for yourself. Ulidavaru Kandante is available as PPV on ReelBoxTV.com. However, it does not have any subtitles, but they are working on it. Follow them on twitter @ReelBoxTV to find out when this would be done.
 
 The subtitles at my screening were quite funny. The swear words such as bastard and the like, had the vowels replaced with corresponding Greek symbols. That probably is because Director Rohit Shetty has not been able to completely get over his Engineering past!
 
Contact the director @rakshitshetty on twitter, make some noise, and probably he will bring this to a screen near you. It is definitely one to be experienced on the bigger screen, with booming sound. Or for you influential people out there, make Netlfix pick this gem up.]

The London Indian Film Festival has screenings all over London until the 17th of July.

For more info head on over to http://www.londonindianfilmfestival.co.uk/

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OneKnightStands Bollypop | 9E3K | @9E3K

Goopi Gawaiya Bagha Bajaiya Review LIFF 2014

Goopi_01Before I say anything about the movie, can I just applaud director Shilpa Ranade first, to have thought of remaking a Satyajit Ray classic that has been loved by generations. The classic short story by Upendra Kishore Rowchowdhury has already been immortalised onscreen by the inimitable pair of Tapen Chatterjee and Rabi Ghosh as the crazy duo – Goopi and Bagha. And such a mammoth task of re-doing it for the current generation – why would one do that? The only answer to that is immense love for the source. And that love shows in Ranade’s adaptation of Goopi and Bagha’s tale, titled Goopi Gawaiya Bagha Bajaiya.

The world of Goopi and Bagha have now been translated from the black and white images of Ray’s version to a world filled with shimmering colours. The style of animation here is nothing like the 3D cell animation that we are accustomed to from the likes of Pixar, Disney, and Dreamworks. The word I am looking for here is quirky. I know use that word a lot. It sort of reminds me of a few PS3 games such as Media Molecule’s Little Big Planet, or Sony’s own – Puppeteer. Produced by the Children’s Film Society of India, it brought back memories of the many indie short animation features that used to be screened on Doordarshan on Sunday mornings in the 80s and the 90s. And having watched Ranade’s adaptation, I am compelled to say that perhaps, there couldn’t have been a better remake for this tale.

Of course, with the target age-group of this feature being the little ones, there are plenty of fart jokes and a few slapstick pranks thrown in. But it being an animated movie, I was instantly transported into that world of innocence, and I couldn’t stop myself from laughing at those silly fart jokes. I did miss the original voice of Bhuter Raja which has now been replaced by an ultra autotune processed monster voice. But those are minor complaints. The music, which was one of the highlights of the original, in this version of the tale, has been composed by the band “Three Brothers And a Violin”. And to say the least, the music brings this whole movie together.  There was a French family watching this movie at the same screening that I was in. And as the end credits rolled, the little kid, in his most French accent, was humming “Shundi ke Raja ko Salaam”.

I think that says a lot. Some stories never age. Some stories never get lost in translation.

The London Indian Film Festival has screenings all over London until the 17th of July.

For more info head on over to http://www.londonindianfilmfestival.co.uk/

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OneKnightStands Bollypop | 9E3K | @9E3K

Sulemaani Keeda Review LIFF 2014

Sulemani Keeda_01Director Amit Masurkar’s slacker bromance ‘Sulemaani Keedha’ (SK) on the surface is pretty much what one of its characters wants a movie to be like. That character is Gonzo, a producer’s son, a big fan of out-of-the-box ideas and who plans to make a paradoxical movie with a story that has no story. This is a movie, which on the surface has no real story to it, and speaks to Gonzo’s sensibilities of having no real hero, heroine, villain in its tale. And yet, by the end of its run, you cannot help rooting for its struggling protagonists and their fight against their own banal lives, and to rise from the crowd. I feel Sulemaani Keedha (Hindi street slang for pain in the ass), does not necessarily translate to the negative meaning that it may imply. In my opinion, it may be the royal itch to prove something – to yourself, and to the world.

We are introduced to these two slackers – Mainak and Dulal (debutantes Mayank Tewari and Naveen Kasturia), who are drowned in their own torn scripts and unpaid rents, and are dejected from every corner of Bollywood. But even with such amount of rejection, they refuse to give in to the temptation of a comfortable paycheck by writing for daily soaps. In their free time, which they seem to have a lot, they aimlessly and unsuccessfully attempt at hitting on girls, in the bookstore, in the clubs, and everywhere else. SK is about these perennially hungry and horny struggling writers, who juggle their struggles, opportunities and love.

Shot exceptionally well by Surjodeep Ghosh, SK captivates the spirit and the sparkle of Mumbai. The guerilla style shooting used to shoot this movie to keep costs low, actually works in its favour to make it look real and authentic, and often as silly as real life can be. The dialogue is spunky, and emotes the angst and the ferocity of all creative strugglers who come to this mad city looking for that one shot to make it in the big bad world of Bollywood. There are plenty of nudge nudge wink winf references to the Rohit Shetty’s 100 Cr Club formula, there’s a chuckle-worthy animated sequence involving Gonzo and his cat, and the music by Arfaaz and Anurag needs to be released on iTunes pronto.

For its warm hearted spirit, and its giggly jokes, SK left me feeling happy. You shouldn’t be surprised if this lands up on your Netflix queue soon. Until then, it is worth travelling that distance if it is playing at a festival near you.

3.5 snorts out of 5.

The London Indian Film Festival has screenings all over London until the 17th of July.

For more info head on over to http://www.londonindianfilmfestival.co.uk/

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OneKnightStands Bollypop | 9E3K | @9E3K

Sold Review Liff 2014

Sold_01The London Indian Film Festival started with the UK premier of Sold, directed by Jeffrey D. Brown, Oscar winning director for best short film (Molly’s Pilgrim -1985) and starring Niyar Saikia, a 13 year old girl Lakshmi who under the guise of a job in the city gets sold to a brothel where she is forced into prostitution. The movie is produces by Emma Thompson and based on a Patricia McCormick novel.

Sold isn’t just a movie but is tied up with a few charities and a social media campaign hoping to make an actual change to the problem of child trafficking globally.

The message of the movie is something we can’t turn a blind eye to so before I dig into the movie, do check out www.soldthemovie.com or search #TaughtNotTrafficked on twitter if you want to contribute.

The movie is a tough watch, but it needs to be, the topic of the movie is so bleak that although the full horror is never shown, the implications are enough to make you want to avert your gaze many times from the screen, even more so for the Niyar Saika’s expressive eyes and naturalistic performance and so much pain to what we’re watching.

She is aided by some wonderful supporting Indian actors, Tillotama Shome, Sushmita Mukherjee who plays the main madame’s at the brothel. Tillotama has really been knocking it out of the park in term of performances this year in both Sold and Qissa which both played at the LIFF. There are a host of actors of all ages who were wonderful, I especially liked Priyanka Bose who I had noticed earlier this year in Gulaab Gang and who in some ways is playing a similarly street savvy woman again.

 

The movie also has some fleeting appearances by Seema Biswas, Gillian Anderson and David Arquette who have pretty much have non-consequential roles to support the cause of the movie by appearing in random scenes that probably didn’t take a long shooting schedule but when working in indie’s having these names attached to a property, does help attract audience.

 

One of the aid workers who tries to get these girl out of these horrific situations is played by Parambrata Chatterjee pretty much reprising his role from Kahaani, charming out of town ladies with his smoothness but this time with added facial hair.

Sold is shot beautifully both in the open skies of Nepal to the seedy streets of Kolkata. The movie has heart and great intentions but unfortunately it might have worked better and had a greater impact if Jeffrey Dean had made this as a short film instead of a feature.

The editing in quite a few scenes is jarring and even the pacing seems off. There are fleeting moments that would need to be delved into a bit more like the men that visit these brothels or the people that manage or traffic girls and although I can understand that these are evil people, there were moments where there was doubt or regret on their faces that could have been explored.

As a topic it’s something that has been explored many times in Hindi cinema, in more (Baaghi, Sadak) and less glamorous (Chandni Bar) ways, it is interesting to see a western point of view and although the movie ends with a positive note, (and even a Great Escape style climax) any straight thinking person would understand that is the point in the movie where fantasy takes over and just how sad the reality of so many Laxmi’s really is.

 

For more information about Sold’s release date, go to www.soldthemovie.com

#TaughtNotTrafficked
http://www.childreach.org.uk/TaughtNotTrafficked/

Million Dollar Arm Review Liff 2014

Million Dollar Arm_01I’ll let the product speak for itself” declares actor Madhur Mitthal enthusiastically when introducing the screening of Disney’s crossover offering Million Dollar Arm at the London Indian Film Festival. And that is precisely what Million Dollar Arm is – a product, neatly wrapped in cellophane, slotting obediently into an awkward space between mainstream Hollywood and what Hollywood thinks will sell to its own domestic market as well as to a primarily Indian audience.

Based on a true story, US sports agent JB Bernstein (Jon Hamm) travels to India to find a cricket player to turn into a major sports star and secure his own business/career in the process. Of course, the process is not as simple as JB thinks and as he brings his two finds back to LA, he finds his life changes in an unexpected but Hollywood kind of pleasing way.

There are some fun moments in Million Dollar Arm – throwaway lines (bribing in India is described as “bypassing the system“), small set pieces which wryly observe culture clashes (when the boys tease JB about his walk of shame the night before) and of course every scene the wonderful Alan Arkin is in as a retired and grumpy talent scout. The cast also share a nice chemistry which the script doesn’t necessarily cater for and it almost feels like these moments take everyone by surprise (in a good way) before reverting back to auto pilot as the film veers towards its inevitable destination.

But overall, Million Dollar Arm feels clinical and felt like any other sports film where the underdog comes out on top against all the odds, only this time, the twist is the Indian influence is conveniently moulded from inspirational to comical to alien to familiar as per the needs of the story. This is a shame as if the script had gotten its hands dirty or dared to explore the more uncomfortable questions it manages to avoid, it may have been closer to that pan market hit it seems determined to be.

Thankfully, the cast are all rather good – Madhur Mitthal and Suraj Sharma portray Dinesh and Rinku’s journey well from overwhelmed young boys to finding themselves as sportsmen. Pitobash gives a good account of himself as Amit as does Lake Bell whose Brenda is like a breath of fresh air each time she appears on screen. Jon Hamm makes for a suitably rugged lead with a charm and ease that endears the audience towards him.

Whilst Million Dollar Arm does not really push the so called “crossover” canon forward in any way, the fact that it has some likeable and truthful moments shows the potential that this film has and if it had been allowed to find a space of its own, it may well have reached a wider audience that it seems to be aiming for. For now though, Million Dollar Arm entertains but ultimately does not fulfill. This is a Eat, Pitch, Love for a family audience.

Million Dollar Arm is on general release in the UK from 29th August 2014.

Million Dollar Arm

Directed by: Craig Gillespie

Starring: Jon Hamm, Suraj Sharma, Madhur Mitthal, Lake Bell, Pitobash

Bhushan Kumar is a Hindi film and fashion obsessed being living and working in London.

Follow Bhushan on Twitter: @bogeyno2

Blog: http://bogeyno2.wordpress.com/

Qissa: The Tale Of The Lonely Ghost Review LIFF 2014

Qissa_01There are some films that remain with the viewer long after the fade to black – Qissa: The Tale Of The Lonely Ghost one of them. This haunting tale tells of Umber Singh (Khan) who is uprooted by the Partition of 1947 along with his wife and three daughters. Displaced from the newly created Pakistan to the Punjab in India, Singh believes having a son will bring the stability he has lost. So when his wife gives birth to another daughter, Singh creates an elaborate delusion that has far reaching and tragic consequences for all.

There is so much to talk about in Qissa that it is impossible to know where to start. Whether is the debate of nature versus nuture, the unforgiving nature of patriarchy or the search for one’s true self, all these issues are neatly referenced without feeling laboured or clumsy. Anup Singh (the writer and director) manages to weave a very complex story that insists on keeping its characters at the heart of the action and even has the audience colluding with Umber’s vision (no spoilers here).

Mention must also go to the cinematography and original score; there are some stunning visuals here, with the lighting and composition giving an eerie feel – at times, one feels they are looking at a magnificent oil painting in a deserted haveli (mansion). Similarly, the score is subtle and underplayed, yet the way it heightens the dramatic impact is at once impressive and moving.

Performance wise, Khan does the impossible again; playing an unpopular character with a sympathy and dignity which leaves the viewer conflicted but with a grudging understanding of the circumstances that lead to the character’s motivations. Chopra is very restrained as the mother who suffers for her children whilst Raskia Dugal is a revelation as Neeli, fully embracing the journey that Neeli goes on and pitching it with conviction.

However, it is Bengali actress Tillotame Shome who astonishes here as Kanwar, the girl brought up as a boy – it is rare to see someone imbibe a role so fully and make something that could easily go wrong with one nuance seem so effortless and natural. Everything from her expression to her body language is faultless and she is the true nucleus of Qissa which is no mean feat.

Qissa is the perfect film to watch as part of a festival but it is also heartening to know it will have a general release in India. Not only are the LGBT themes handled with sensitivity and tact but also with a timely relevance for today’s audiences. In fact, though this is a period piece, there is no doubt Qissa has a modern sensibility to it and deserves to be seen and appreciated by diverse audiences across the world. Quite simply, hauntingly beautiful.

Qissa: The Tale Of The Lonely Ghost is now playing at the LIFF,  will have a limited release in Germany in July 2014 and a general release in India from September 2014 (TBC).

Qissa: The Tale Of The Lonely Ghost

Directed by: Anup Singh

Cast: Irrfan Khan, Tisca Chopra, Tillotame Shome, Raskia Dugal

Bhushan Kumar is a Hindi film and fashion obsessed being living and working in London.

Follow Bhushan on Twitter: @bogeyno2

Blog: http://bogeyno2.wordpress.com/

London Indian Film Festival 2014 starts with Dhol Dhamaka!

It was the opening night of London Indian Film Festival 2014. Now in its 5th year, the festival has become a major platform to showcase the best of what the Indian indie cinema scene has to offer. Running from the 10th to the 17th of July this year, this year’s programme not only features entries from India, but also other countries of South Asia viz. Pakistan and Bangladesh.

It being the opening night at London’s Cineworld Haymarket, the venue was star studded to the brim with familiar celebrities walking the short but shiny red carpet. The celeb list is long, but I have to mention two big names.
Firstly, Gillian Anderson, promoting and supporting her movie – SOLD, which opened the festival this evening.
And secondly, veteran Indian actress Kamini Kaushal.
Gillian looks exactly like she does in The Fall / Hannibal. I know, that’s an obvious statement. But she does. I was lucky enough to be seated just a few rows behind her. Unfortunately selfies weren’t even a remote possibility because she was surrounded by black suit wearing, bald and stout guards. Quite the stereotype for a Hollywood biggie, but there you go. I wonder what kind of guards J-Law has.


Kamini Kaushal on the other hand, was seated not so far from us. She looks like she hasn’t aged a single day from the last time I saw her in a movie – perhaps in a Dadijee role in Har Dil Jo Pyar Karega.

The opening night movie of the festival was Academy Award winner, director Jeffrey Brown’s SOLD – based on a real stories, is about a girl called Lakshmi who falls prey to a child-trafficking gang, and is smuggled into Kolkata. It is expected that with a subject matter like this, the movie is going to be a hard watch. It did make me feel very uncomfortable in a few portions. And it made me wonder whether this was a good choice as the opening movie for the festival. Previous years have seen such movies such as Gangs of Wasseypur and Monsoon Shootout as the one’s opening LIFF. Having said that, it is a compelling movie which tells it tale with little dashes of humour, and yet doesn’t shy away from punching you in the gut with its harsh imagery. More on the movie will be discussed on the Upodcast review.
10526065_10152132078792191_766652475416624002_n(1)
And as the lights came up after the end credits, the hall errupted with a loud applause for the makers of this movie. There was a Q&A session held after the movie. And to say the least, it was the most awkward public situations I have ever witnessed. Not because of the topic of child trafficking being discussed. But because of the level of stupidity and banality of the questions that were being thrown at Jeffrey Brown and Gillian Anderson. The usual keywords of “vision”, “preparation”, “feel” were thrown around. Let’s just say, the Q&A pretty much drowned any impact the movie had.

And as we walked out of the auditorium, a good friend of mine introduced me to ace cinematographer and director – Santosh Sivan. And yes, I have been making plenty of noises about that on social networks. And on my way out, I did catch a glimpse of Amy Jackson looking very yellow (because she was wearing a yellow dress), and (if you remember) popstar Raageshwari (of Duniya fame), looking very white (because she was very pale, and wearing white and shimmery). There was some noise about an afterparty being held, but in the words of the great Sweet Brown, “Ain’t nobody got time for that”.

That wraps up opening day of London Indian Film Festival for me. I am looking forward to a feast of good cinema, and you should be looking forward to a barrage of coverage of LIFF from us.

The London Indian Film Festival has screenings all over London until the 17th of July.

For more info head on over to http://www.londonindianfilmfestival.co.uk/

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OneKnightStands Bollypop | 9E3K | @9E3K

New Clip Tammy: I Do like Apples

We’re quite looking forward to Tammy, Melissa McCarthy is going balls out and here she is having a bagged conversation with Sarah Barker, who was great in the unfortunatley cancelled Go On and also had a very memorable monologue in Louie.

After losing her job and learning that her husband has been unfaithful, a woman (Melissa McCarthy) hits the road with her profane, hard-drinking grandmother (Susan Sarandon).”

Starring Melissa McCarthy, Susan Sarandon, Dan Aykroyd, Allison Janney, Kathy Bates, Toni Collette and directed by Ben Falcone.

TAMMY is released in UK cinemas on July 4th 2014

Samar Shaikh Director of Bobby Jasoos’ Press Interview

Bobby Jasoos is directed by Samar Shaikh, whose impressive cache of work includes being the assistant director on the worldwide hit franchise Dhoom. The film is co-produced by Bollywood actress Dia Mirza and Sahil Sangha under their production banner Born Free Entertainment and Reliance Entertainment and releasing on the 11th of July.

Here is Samar Shaikh interacting with the Press:

Q:  What was it like working with Vidya Balan?

A:It was my first time working with her, so I wasn’t sure what to expect but I absolutely enjoyed the experience. Vidya is an extremely talented actress. We got on really well and the atmosphere was great. She is a very creative actress, who knows how to bring any character to life on the screen.

 

Q:  How would you describe the movie?

A:Bobby Jasoos is a gripping film that sets a new benchmark for the thriller genre in Indian cinema and examines in a clever, witty and fresh way the dynamics of the gender struggle between women and men. The film centres around the main female character ‘Bobby’, played by Vidya [Balan],who wants to become the number one detective in the old city area of Hyderabad. The movie combines comedy with a classic thriller story, full of intriguing twists. The cast are superb, and I am very proud of the outcome of this film

 

Q:  What attracted you to ‘Bobby Jasoos’?

A:I thought it was a fantastic story to bring to life. Also, the story deals with myriad issues beneath the surface. It tackles such issues as a strong woman operating in a traditionally man’s profession. The film tries to balance hard-hitting issues with the more usual romance, comedy and suspense. I feel it is a story that hasn’t really been told before in Indian cinema.

 

Q:  Your favourite scene from ‘Bobby Jasoos’?

A:I don’t think I could pick out just one scene. Every single bit was so entertaining and I believe its part of having to work with a wonderful team.

 

Q:  What will audiences enjoy most about ‘Bobby Jasoos’?

A:I think the most enjoyable thing is that one can actually relate to the story very easily – it is not just a detective story, it’s really also a human story about a girl from a small village in Hyderabad with big dreams and aspirations. It shows that you can actually reach your goal no matter where you come from or who you are.

 

Q:  Do you think ‘Bobby Jasoos’ is destined for success?

A:I think it has a great story line and a superb cast, but it is up to the audience to decide whether it is going to be successful.  Sometimes it is not about box office figures – I really believe in this story and I did put my heart and soul into it. If people will be able to see and appreciate it – I will be very grateful.

Karan Johar Press Interview Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania

Karan Johar, brought in fresh faces for his latest rom-com (I think we can all be grateful he took a break from the Imran Khan – Kareena Kapoor combo).

Here is some of the press release:

Bollywood heartthrob Varun Dhawan (Student Of The Year, Main Tera Hero) plays hopeless romantic ‘Humpty Sharma’, an eternally optimistic young man, who is amiably searching for his ‘Dulhania’ (bride). Enter strong-willed, no nonsense Delhi girl ‘Kavya Pratap Singh’ (Alia Bhatt, Student Of The Year, Highway, 2 States). What ensues is a sweet and amusing story, as the ever simple loser in love ‘Humpty’ deploys every means at his disposal to convince ‘Kavya’ that he is her soul mate.

Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania stars Bollywood’s new-kid-on-the-block Varun Dhawan, who made his successful debut with the breakthrough Dharma Productions film Student Of The Year along.Famed for playing the sentimentalist and also renowned for doing his own stunts, Varun is set yet again to show why he is one of Indian cinema’s rising stars in Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania. With charisma and acting talent in abundance, the young actor has already won awards, including the Star Gold and Lions Gold awards, and has been nominated for several ‘newcomer’ accolades.

Bollywood sweetheart, Alia Bhatt, who also made her big-screen debut in the Karan Johar production Student of the Year and received widespread critical acclaim for her role in Highway and 2 States, convincingly plays the main female protagonist, sealing her position as one of Bollywood’s most sought after leading ladies.

Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania is directed by debutant director Shashank Khaitan and is produced by award-winning film-maker Karan Johar.

Here is our favorite Koffee host answering some questions from the “press”.

Q:  Is ‘Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania’ in any way related to the super hit ‘Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge’?

A:Our film (‘Humpty Sharma..) is an ode to ‘DDLJ’. One will see glimpses of ‘DDLJ’ but the love story is different from ‘DDLJ’. We have made this film with honesty, integrity (and) with an intention to entertain people.

Q: As a person you seem to be very happy & make a lot of people laugh, but most of your movies make people cry. Why is that?

A: 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.

 

Q: What attracted you to ‘Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania’?Karan Johar

A:I really liked the script and I found it very funny. I also loved the fact that the classic ‘boy-meets-girl’ tale has been made into a unique and quirky youth drama for the modern generation.

 

Q: Alia Bhatt is often being compared to Kareena Kapoor. What is your opinion on the two Bollywood divas?

A:There is only one Kareena Kapoor – I am not only a huge fan of her work but I value her as a friend too. Kareena and Alia are two different people. Kareena has been in the Bollywood industry for a long time now; she has created a tremendous niche for herself and set a bar so high that it’s unfair to compare her with Alia. Alia is charming in her own way and I am sure she will make her own space. You just have to give her some time.

 

Q: You have launched quite a few newcomers to Bollywood – do you think it is much easier being launched rather that doing everything on your own?

A: It is definitely difficult for them. Even though they are very young they have seen pretty much everything now – they have seen success, failure, insecurity and anxiety up, close and personal. They have seen too much that can eat into them. The basic perception is that it is easy, but it is really not. They have a point to prove… there are so many expectations from them. I think film fraternity and star kids have it tougher.

Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania, releases on 11th July 2014

Bobby Jasoos Press Interview Ali Fazal

Ali Fazal has been grinding in Bollywood since quite a few years now. Most probably most people noticed him in 3 Idiiots as the engineer who committed suicide. But now he’s  looking forward to his biggest release yet paired opposite Vidya Balan in Bobby Jasoos.

He did some Q&A interaction with the press and here it is:

Q: What attracted you to ‘Bobby Jasoos’?

A:It’s a beautiful script. I thought it was a great concept and I loved the story. I was also trying to break the mould. Even though I’m just starting out I think it’s important to push myself and take up as many challenges that come my way. Bobby Jasoos offered me the opportunity to play a character that’s an integral part of the story. Also playing the lead role with Vidya and having Dia as a producer was also a major factor in my decision. I think signing this film has been one of my best decisions in my career so far.

 

Q:  How did you get into acting?

A:  When I was in boarding school I loved taking part in cultural activities like dance and theatre. But I did it for fun I never thought It could turn into something more. I was still a student when I got my first acting offer and having that experience made me realise if I worked hard I could actually turn my hobby into a career.

 

Q: Did you find the romantic element of the film challenging?

A:I was looking forward to playing a romantic role. Vidya is a fantastic actor and it was very comfortable and easy working with her. Even though she is a senior actress I wasn’t scared of romancing her, it was both fun and challenging. There was no awkwardness in the sense that she is a married woman, probably thanks to the workshops we did together before we started shooting. Hopefully our chemistry translates on screen.

 

Q: What’s unique about this film and why should we watch it?

A: The entire concept of this film is unique. I read many Indian detective stories and I can’t recollect  any story where the detective is a woman. I think it’s such an original angle. As well as being colourful and entertaining it has a really human story behind it. It’s a ‘hatke’ love story.

 

Q: What did you find most challenging about this role?

A: Sharing the screen with a powerhouse like Vidya Balan is challenging and very satisfying. My first worry was, can I do justice to it? But actually when you are presented with a challenge you know you have to give your best. It was great fun working with Vidya, we felt really comfortable on set. In terms of specific challenges we worked quite hard to get the Hyderabadi dialect and body language right, but we did some intense workshops which helped a lot.

 

Q: The songs are an important element of the film. How did you enjoy shooting these scenes?

A:It was an amazing experience. All of the songs are beautiful. They’ve got a classic touch that takes you back to the Bollywood of the 80’s.The film is packed with great numbers. They are a key element of the film’s romance.

 

Q: What can we expect from the film?

A: A powerful story and a colourful and entertaining film, full of music, jasoosi and excitement.

Bobby Jasoos releases on 4th July 2014 by Reliance Entertainment.

What Have We been Watching? And Robocop (2014) Upodcast

This is a busy episode so comes with a “wide load” sticker on the back.  Martin walks down the more arty path, talking about a classic Bernardo Bertolucci, The Conformist, before keeping up the Italian end by frankly, gushing about The Great Beauty, the Oscar winner for Best Foreign Film this year.  Surely the contemporary equivalent of Fellini’s La Dolce Vita.  Rounding off things is The Time Being, starring Wes Bentley and his very serious eyes and a star turn from Frank Langella.

 

Asim and Ahmed bring things bang up to date with talk of TV and blockbusters.  Dancing around the podcast they talk about Cuban Fury (Nick Frost and Rashida Jones) before moving on to Graceland and Gang Related.  Tom Cruise’s latest action blockbuster Edge of Tomorrow is reviewed by Asim, before we round things off with a battle royale: Paul Verhoeven’s 1987 sci-fi (ish) satire and all round cult classic, Robocop versus the 2014 version by Jose Padilha.

You can Download/Stream or Listen to the latest episode below.

Or Subscribe to us on iTunes and never miss one!

The Expendables 3 UK Trailer

Being huge Stallone fans, we were quite excited for his career resurrection from the past years but it seems that he wasnt able to maintain that fire in his last few releases.

The Expendables 2 was quite the dissapointed as it seems like an Adam Sandler movie minus the holiday destination, where actors are just “bro-ing” out where the first one put in quite a bit of effort in giving every actor a chance to shine as well as at least having a coherent screenplay (kinda).

The 3 (and what seems to be the final part) of the Expendables franchises adds more actors from a bygone era ( WEsley Snipes, Kelsey Grammar, Mel Gibson) with a new director Patrick Hughes (who is also slated to direct The Raid remake).

Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Terry Crews, Randy Couture, Harrison Ford, Wesley Snipes, Mel Gibson, Dolph Lundgren, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Kellan Lutz, Antonio Banderas and Kelsey Grammer

In THE EXPENDABLES 3, Barney (Stallone), Christmas (Statham) and the rest of the team comes face-to-face with Conrad Stonebanks (Gibson), who years ago co-founded The Expendables with Barney. Stonebanks subsequently became a ruthless arms trader and someone who Barney was forced to kill… or so he thought. Stonebanks, who eluded death once before, now is making it his mission to end The Expendables — but Barney has other plans. Barney decides that he has to fight old blood with new blood, and brings in a new era of Expendables team members, recruiting individuals who are younger, faster and more tech-savvy. The latest mission becomes a clash of classic old-school style versus high-tech expertise in the Expendables’ most personal battle yet.

THE EXPENDABLES 3, out in cinemas on August 14th 2014

 

Jersey Boys Infographic

To celebrate last week’s release of Clint Eastwood’s JERSEY BOYS, Warner Bros. Pictures is pleased to make available an exclusive JERSEY BOYS infographic. JERSEY BOYS stars Christopher Walken, John Lloyd Young, Erich Bergen, Michael Lomenda and Vincent Piazza and is in cinemas now.

Jersey Boys infographic

From director Clint Eastwood comes the big-screen version of the Tony Award-winning musical “Jersey Boys.”

The film tells the story of four young men from the wrong side of the tracks in New Jersey who came together to form the iconic 1960s rock group The Four Seasons.  The story of their trials and triumphs are accompanied by the songs that influenced a generation, including “Sherry,” “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “Walk Like a Man,” “Dawn,” “Rag Doll,” “Bye Bye Baby,” “Who Loves You,” and many more.

These classic hits are now being embraced by a new generation of fans through the stage musical, which has been running on Broadway for more than eight years and has also enjoyed successful tours around the globe.

Starring in the film, John Lloyd Young reprises his Tony Award-winning portrayal of the legendary lead singer of The Four Seasons, Frankie Valli.  Erich Bergen stars as Bob Gaudio, who wrote or co-wrote all of the group’s biggest hits.  Michael Lomenda and Vincent Piazza star respectively as Nick Massi and Tommy DeVito, two original members of The Four Seasons.  Oscar® winner Christopher Walken (“The Deer Hunter”) stars as mobster Gyp DeCarlo.

Oscar® winner Eastwood (“Million Dollar Baby,” “Unforgiven”) directed “Jersey Boys” from a screenplay and musical book by Marshall Brickman & Rick Elice, song music by Bob Gaudio and lyrics by Bob Crewe.  The film is produced by Eastwood, Graham King and Robert Lorenz, with Frankie Valli, Bob Gaudio, Tim Moore, Tim Headington, Brett Ratner, James Packer and Steven Mnuchin serving as executive producers.

The behind-the-scenes creative team was led by Academy Award®-nominated director of photography Tom Stern (“Changeling”); Academy Award®-nominated production designer James J. Murakami, (“Changeling”); Oscar®-winning editor Joel Cox (“Unforgiven”) and editor Gary D. Roach; and costume designer Deborah Hopper.

Mardaani Trailer Breakdown: Rani is a bad ass!

Mardaani has been under the radar for a while now but I had assumed wrongly that it was going to be a female version of a Southploitation movie along the lines of a Rowdy Rathore but with Rani Mukherjee instead of any cash hungry male actor. Which didn’t really excite me as they tried doing that with Gulaab Gang to a certain extent and failed miserably.

The first look poster released back in May was pretty terrrible (as with most YRF releases)  and made me think they had roped in Ram Gopal Varma to direct a female Sarkar.

But boy, does this first trailer prove me wrong on all accounts (a feeling i love when a movie manages to do so)

Mardaani’s trailer is a tough watch which makes me wonder if the audience will be clamoring to watch a movie about such a horific subject as Child Trafficking but when making a movie like this, that might be besides the point especially as YRF has been doing a lot of brand diversification with collaborating with more Indie film directors.

Pradeep Sarkar had previously made Laga Chunariya Me Daag which dealt with prostitution and also starred Rani but that movie failed and was part of the old YRF glossy cinema where as Mardaani seems much grittier.

I love seeing Rani be a bad ass again after No One Killed Jessica and they again manage to put in a few scenes of Rani cussing out men, and then even elbowing their faces in which is all kinds of awesome. It’s really good to see a female actor do some push ups and quite realistic action instead of the kung fu wire crap they pulled off in Gulaab Gang, Dus and Chandni Chowk To China.

We love Rani here at Upodcast (As you can hear us gush when speaking to her for Talaash) and hope the movie is hardhitting but made sensitively enough, maybe softening up the next trailer might help in not scaring away some of audience members as some of the shots of girls being stripped are truly gruesome to watch.

Release Date: 22 August 2014
Starring: Rani Mukerji
Directed by: Pradeep Sarkar
Produced by: Aditya Chopra

LIFF 2014 Top Picks The Upodcast team

One of the best UK Indian Film Festivals is upon us again from the 10th to 17th of July.

And since there are a ton of films on offer we roped in some old friends and new to help cover some of the exciting movies showcased.

Here are some of the ones we are really looking forward to and hope to watch/review for you.

Sujoy – @9e3k

SOLD

Opening a film festival has its own pros and cons. Doing the honours this year is SOLD. Directed by Jeffrey Brown, it stars Gillian Anderson amongst other known names from the Indian film industry. The synopsis leads us to believe that it is going to be a powerful movie with a heart-breaking story. It remains to be seen if it can deliver on its promise.L014_NUN_PR

HEMALKASA

Closing the festival is Samruddhi Porey’s Hemalkasa. Starring Marathi cinema’s finest – Nana Patekar, Sonali Kulkarni, Mohan Agashe – the cast itself should be reason enough to lure the audience into the cinema. Revolving around the story of rural development in Maharashtra, I hope Hemalkasa is able to pull the heartstrings of its audience.

Hank And Asha – As the title suggests, Hank And Asha is about the two of them. Judging by its recent Slamdance Audience Award could well be the indie romance movie that you should check out this year.

Barefoot to Goa – Director Praveen Morchhale’s festival darling finally finds its way to LIFF. Set between Mumbai and Goa, the story is a very conventional one that speaks of the bond between grandchildren and grandparents. It is quite inexplicable why this is one of the highlights of LIFF for me. Soon, I’ll let you know why.

Barefoot to Goa – Film Trailer with english Subtitle. from Praveen Morchhale on Vimeo.

Sulemaani Keeda

Everything about this movie screams PRETENTIOUS. When you throw in keywords such as suburban Mumbai underbelly, Tarkovsky, Bollywood – it just comes with a baggage of its own. That is also one of the key reasons why I look forward to this movie. And I wish to be completely corrected on my assumption.

Goopi Gawaiya Bagha Bajaiya – The characters of Goopi and Bagha is not unknown to anyone who has grown up on Satyajit Ray’s cinema. The story of this mischievious duo, previously immortalised by the fantastic Tapen Chatterjee and Robi Ghosh, is now being adapted into a Hindi animated feature. I have great expectations from this version of the magical world of Goopi and Baagha’s adventure.

Sulemani Keeda_01

Ulidavaru Kandante

This movie’s promotional image has men with painted tigers on their face. And the synopsis speaks of the film’s homages to Sin City, Pulp Fiction, Agneepath, Rashomon. Two words – Must Watch, or could be one word – Oversell.

 

Qissa

Festival favourite Irrfan Khan stars in this period piece set during the Partition period. And Tilottama Shome stars too. The story could be a cross between Dil Bole Hadippa and Boys Don’t Cry. And I could be horribly wrong.

Apur Panchali: Not just Ray references, but a whole movie about the actor who acted as protagonist Apu in Pather Panchali. This stars Parambrata Chatterjee, and is directed by Kaushik Ganguly (Arekti Premer Golpo, Shabdo). Sounds like nectar for Ray lovers.

Qissa_01

 

Bhushan- @Bogeyno2

Qissa
Irfan Khan in anything is worth watching (Paan Singh Tomar,The Lunchbox) and Qissa should be no exception. With a flair for making even the most unpleasant of characters seem human (Saat Khoon Maaf anyone?) Khan looks certain to bring another dimension to Umber Singh in a complex role. Much like Khamosh Paani, films on partition tend to make for challenging yet compelling viewing and Qissa looks set to deliver the same.

QISSA – The Tale of a lonely Ghost – Trailer from Heimatfilm on Vimeo.

Million Dollar Arm
As Bollywood and Hollywood look for that elusive pan market breakout film, Million Dollar Arm strikes one as a film that will appeal to a universal audience without trying too hard (a key feature of all the films featured in the London Indian Film Festival). With an interesting cast headed by Jon Hamm and based on a true story, Million Dollar Arm on paper has all the trademarks of a sleeper hit in the making.

 

Asim- @asimburney 

Sold

I am expecting heartbreak from the opening movie of this year’s LIFF produced by Emma Thompson and starring Gillian Anderson, the movie is about “A girl risks everything for freedom after being trafficked from her mountain village in Nepal to a brothel in India.” Director Jeffrey Brown hasn’t directed many feature length movies and is mostly known for his work as a writer and TV director but the names attached and the sincerity to make a movie that has something important to say can not be denied. I will be bringing a box of tissues with me but do hope that we wont be starting the festival by exiting the theater bummed out.

But since there is a live Q&A with actress Gillian Anderson attending maybe I can sneak in some questions about Hannibal season 3 or what profound influence she had on a generation of men growing up and tuning into the X files every week.

Qissa:

Another female issue based film about “Umber Singh, a rural Sikh, dispossessed from his homeland by the Partition. He obsessively focuses on the ‘ideal’ of having a son and heir, but as his fourth daughter is born he hides the child’s true identity, she becomes the son of his dreams, but at a terrible cost.”

Irrfan Khan introduced last year’s Monsoon Shootout and seems to be a name that goes hand in hand with Indian Indie movies, always a thoughtful actor that brings quite a bit to the movies he chooses. A lot of times you don’t know the movies showing in festivals so you end up veering towards the names that are familiar to you even though they might not be the ones you would line up to watch on a regular Friday night.

Hank and Asha

A lighthearted breath of air after those first 2 issue based movies, Hank And Asha seems delightful. I saw the trailer for for the first time when it showed at TIFF last year and I knew I wanted to watch it but didn’t know how to. I’m really glad that this little modern day “You’ve Got Mail” is showing at LIFF. Here is the trailer that made me take notice.

Million Dollar Arm: 

Probably this years “biggest” movie with Disney producing, AR Rahman composing and Jon Hamm starring in this based on real life story, which feels like MoneyBall meets City Of Joy. The movie will be releasing in UK theaters august 29th so it’s quite cool to be able to catch this one before general audiences.

Anima State: 

The only Pakistani movie at the LIFF this year and it looks like quite a kinetic experience: A man with a bandage mask across his face goes on a shooting spree across a Pakistani city, gunning down random people. He soon realises that his actions have no consequences and nobody appears to be interested in his murderous deeds, and so he decides to go on live television with a view to committing suicide on air. And that’s when there is a huge twist in the plot.

Sounds a bit like The Man without a Past meets Network mixed in with a little bit of Falling Down. I missed last year’s Josh at the LIFF which got great reviews, and there seems to be a renaissance in Pakistani cinema which again being in the UK we don’t always get a chance to be a part of.

Anima State from Anima State on Vimeo.

 

These are some of our picks, for the full schedule and more trailers you can hear over to: http://www.londonindianfilmfestival.co.uk/programme.htm

Let us know if you have seen any of the movies above or if you are looking forward to them in the comment sections below!

New Tammy Trailer: Melissa McCarthy fights a deer

The new UK trailer for Melissa McCarthy’s Tammy just hit the site and it looks pretty hilarious! Not only has McCarthy been an MVP as a supporting actor but now she is branching out and becoming the main reason audiences are flocking to her movies.

Not only was she recently declared one of the most bankable actors of the past years but she also seems like a pretty cool cat, according to this Washington Post article about her starting her own clothes line.

In Tammy she plays the titular character who after losing her job and learning that her husband has been unfaithful, a woman (Melissa McCarthy) hits the road with her profane, hard-drinking grandmother (Susan Sarandon).

Starring Melissa McCarthy, Susan Sarandon, Dan Aykroyd, Allison Janney, Kathy Bates, Toni Collette and directed by Ben Falcone, TAMMY is released in UK cinemas on 4th July 2014.

 

The Class of ’92: extended collector’s edition – review

Teacher's pets

Teacher’s pets

As the resident Upodcasting sport fan and thankfully for this release, long time Manchester United fan it was an absolute pleasure to see this for review.

This is the story of how six 14 year-old working class boys (David Beckham, Nicky Butt, Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Phil and Gary Neville) came together to play for the same club, becoming the spine of the most lauded team in world football and who throughout their period of unparalleled success remained best mates. The film offers unprecedented access to all six players and includes numerous high profile interviewees including Sir Alex Ferguson, Zinedine Zidane, Tony Blair, Mani from the Stone Roses, Eric Cantona and Danny Boyle.

Man United fan or not, if you’re of a certain age you probably know all about the success of the Treble winning team from 1999 and the core of it being a group of players who came through the youth system at the same time. The great thing about this movie is the splicing of archive footage featuring the young players, but also the wider context given to the rise of the Manchester United team throughout the 1990s as Britain picked itself up out of the doldrums and began to feel like a happy place once more. In some ways it is also fortunate that Manchester has such a strong cultural identity of its own; giving rise to such bands as the Happy Monday, Smiths, Oasis, The Stone Roses and being a true centre for the birth of British dance music culture in the ’90s. It makes adding a superb soundtrack somewhat easier and if like me you’re in your mid-30s then you know all of the music. It would be so easy for me to get all misty eyed because this was my music and my team!

But the film comes into its own for not dwelling entirely on the stars of the side. Also featured are the lesser known lights – Ben Thornley – or those who went on to have great careers away from Manchester United such as Robbie Savage. There’s some great stuff involving them all having a kick-about…some players now more, ahem, portly than others. Ryan Giggs was still playing when this was made to put it in context!

As the story unfolds, you really do get to know more about what made the players tick, be so successful and what sets elite sportsmen apart from those who don’t quite make it. The power of your own mind, the will to succeed and make sacrifices, but also the personality of the manager – in this case Alex Ferguson – who was able to drive on his own teams to new heights. There are some wonderful comments from Eric Cantona who played with all of the class of ’92 and from Eric Harrison the youth team coach who brought all of the players through the set-up.

For any fan of Manchester United this is a great movie. It’s also the perfect gift for fathers’ day! The Class of ’92 is released this week.  Check out the trailer below:

LIFF 2014: Europe’s Largest South Asian Film Event is Back!

Emma Thompson’s Sold, Million Dollar Arm & Bollywood Stars at London INDIAN Film Festival

Executive produced by actor Emma Thompson, Sold will be the red carpet European Premiere opening night film of the Fifth annual London INDIAN Film Festival (July 10-17). This film is a powerful, survival against the odds tale about a young Nepali girl who is trafficked to Kolkata, India. Gillian Anderson stars with a great Indian and Nepali ensemble cast including Seema Biswas (Bandit Queen). Central highlights of the festival will be the UK Premiere of the true story Million Dollar Arm, from The Walt Disney Company, starring Jon Hamm (Mad Men) and Suraj Sharma (Life of Pi). Bollywood’s hottest actor Farhan Akhtar and South Indian cinematography supremo Santosh Sivan will be giving rare screen talks at the BFI Southbank. Closing the festival will be the World Premiere of Hemalkasa, an homage to the revolutionary human rights leader Prakash Baba Amte, starring Bollywood hero Nana Patekar. Many other special guests are expected to a packed week of UK first screenings.

Now Europe’s largest platform for Indian cinema, the London Indian Film Festival returns to the Capital, in association with Pure Heaven, the British Film Institute, and official Hotel Partner Grange Hotels, celebrating the exploding movement of Indian Independent cinema and bringing to UK audiences a rare selection of cutting-edge films from some of the Indian subcontinent’s hottest independent talents. Going way beyond Bollywood, the festival presents a kaleidoscope of new films that challenge, shock, generate debate and present a more realistic view of India and the subcontinent today, in all its diversity. The festival will stretch citywide, opening in the West End at the historic Cineworld Haymarket, and continuing at BFI Southbank, Cineworld cinemas Wembley, Wood Green, Wandsworth and O2 in Royal Greenwich and ICA near the Pall Mall, so there is a screening near you.

The first weekend of this high-impact festival launches with Sold, on 10th July which explores the controversial theme of child trafficking; one school girl’s battle against the odds and the dangerous journey to liberate her from the Kolkata mafia; expect a glamorous line up of celebs to follow X Files and The Fall actress Gillian Anderson down the red carpet.

On 12th July Rotterdam Film Festival headliner Qissa: Tale of a Lonely Ghost, has its UK Premiere, Irrfan Khan (Slumdog Millionaire, Life of Pi) plays a rural Punjabi father hell bent on having a son and heir, no matter what the consequences. Apur Panchali, based on a true-life story, is an emotionally charged homage to Satyajit Ray’s impoverished child character Apu and the real-life person who played one of the most famous child roles in world cinema. It screens on 13th July. By contrast Slamdance audience winner Hank and Asha explores a new generation of trans-global online romance, at ICA and Cineworlds across London. The festival’s Central Gala is the inspirational true story Million Dollar Arm that follows the uplifting journey of two Indian boys whose lives are transformed by a national TV contest and against the odds end up going to the US to train to become major sports stars.

As well as films in the Hindi, Punjabi, Tamil, Kannada and Malayalam languages, and UK/Pakistani film Anima State, in Urdu, the festival previews its first Bangladesh based film Shongram (Struggle) directed by Munsur Ali. In terms of special talks, India’s most celebrated cinematographer and acclaimed director Santosh Sivan gives a unique Masterclass at BFI Southba