Monthly Archives: November 2012

Quote of the Day

We wouldn’t enjoy our peaks without hitting our lows


“Talaash is a suspense drama but the core of the film is very emotional” : Reema Kagti


Sanam Arora

26 November 2012

With a successful career spanning almost two decades, Reema Kagti has carved a unique space for herself in Hindi Cinema. As Assistant Director, Kagti has worked in tremendously successful films such as Lagaan: Once upon a time in India (2001), Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (2011), Vanity Fair (2004) and Dil Chahta Hai (2001). As  Writer she has penned Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara as well as her critically acclaimed directorial debut Honeymoon Travels Pvt Ltd (2007). Reema is now back with a bang – having managed to pull together the striking starcast of Aamir Khan, Rani Mukerji and Kareena Kapoor for what is set to be a gripping thriller, ‘Talaash’.

‘It was a pretty tough film to make’ admits Kagti. Amongst some tough shooting sequences, it is interesting to note that the film had been in the pipeline for nearly a decade before appearing on screen! ‘Aamir was the first choice, and although it took a while for the film to be brought to life, it was meant to be Aamir’s only, and here it is’. On being asked what the experience of working with the perfectionist of Hindi Cinema, Aamir Khan was like; Kagti commented ‘Aamir has a lot of creative input into the filmmaking process, both as an actor as well as producer. It is very inspiring. At no point did I feel like he was stepping on my toes. He was extremely respectful of my vision and the fact that I was director. Today when I look back I am very thankful to him and Farhan for the support they have given to me’.

Being one of a handful of female directors in Bollywood, we asked Reema if she encountered any particular difficulties whilst in the industry. ‘No, none at all. In fact it’s been a major plus if anything. Female directors get given a lot of attention! It is in anyway a more generic problem across the work force, females are typically less than males’. I haven’t encountered any prejudice in the Hindi film industry, it’s very democratic and secular. It is a great place to work’.

Marketing of any product plays a crucial role in it’s success and when the Producer/Actor is widely known as the ‘Marketing Guru’ of Bollywood, one would expect to see a lot of innovative marketing strategies involved in the film’s promotion. Kagti however commented ‘We want to remain true to the essence of the film. It isn’t your regular slapstick Masala film’. We think this mysterious marketing strategy is doing its job – after all Talaash is a suspense thriller.

‘Despite its suspense thriller feel, Talaash is at its heart, a very emotional film’ remarks Kagti. It’s a new thing – not Bollywood, not Hollywood. ‘It’s in a place of its own’. A curiously ‘different’ score by Ram Sampath further adds to the mysterious wind surrounding the film. We feel Talaash will strike the fine chord between a mainstream commercial Bollywood film and darker emotions typical of Parallel Cinema. Whether audiences accept the ‘hatke’ content and treatment of the film remains to be seen. I for one, belonging to the ‘Forever Aamir’ brigade can’t wait to see what Talaash brings to the table.

Talaash releases in cinemas on 30th December 2012.

Lessons from the Experts – the Indian Economy @ LSE India Week 2012

Panel Discussion: ‘The Indian Economy’


Lord Karan Bilimoria (CBE, DL), Founder & Chairman, Cobra Beer
Mr Virad Kaul, Territory Head UK & Europe, Zee TV Network
Mr Rahul Sharma, Co-Founder and Executive Director, Micromax Informatics India
Ms Madhur Jha, Global Economist, HSBC
Dr Danny Quah, Professor of Economics and Kuwait Professor, LSE
Dr Tirthankar Roy, Reader, Department of Economic History, LSE

India Week at London School of Economics – Inauguration Ceremony

Hindi Cinema’s legendary Rishi Kapoor inaugurated the London School of Economics‘ India Week 2012, organised by the LSE’s India Society, SPICE. India Week is the society’s flagship event which celebrated all facets of India, from Economics to Politics to Cinema. The official coverage from the event features snippets from the Press Conference, coverage of the Inauguration Ceremony with the charmer mesmerizing the audience with his rendition of ‘Main Shayar Toh Nahin’ whilst discussing Hindi Cinema through the lens of his career in the industry. Mr Kapoor is introduced by Miss Sanam Arora, the President of the National Indian Students Union and CEO of India Week 2012.

Asian Achievers Awards 2012

Sanam Arora in conversation with Mr C.B. Patel, Chairman, ABPL Group, for the Asian Achievers Awards 2012.

The Rising Voice

We interview the absolutely stunning Indian singer, Akriti Kakkar, after a mesmerizing performance at the Shankar, Ehsan and Loy concert in London!

Her solo album “Akriti” was awarded at “GIMA 2011” for the best Non-Film album.

Rishi Kapoor at the London School of Economics

Legendary Indian actor Mr Rishi Kapoor inaugurated the world renowned London School of Economics’ India Week 2012. Here, Mr Kapoor speaks to the chief organiser of India Week, Sanam Arora, on India Week, Agneepath, and more.

One on One with Ajay Jadeja

Sanam Arora interviews Indian cricketer Mr Ajay Jadeja. Ajay talks on the Economics of the Indian Premier League and on celebrating the LSE India vs LSE Pakistan match held by students of the London School of Economics at the iconic Lords.

Exclusive Interview with Ranbir Kapoor

Ranbir Kapoor on ‘Barfi’, What makes an actor a star & Hindi Cinema. Ranbir also gives a special message to all Indian students in the UK.

Romcoms in Bollywood


London, Paris, New York

Sanam Arora

August 2011
On shoot in London, the team of ‘London, Paris, New York’ share what makes this latest Bollywood romcom so unique.

Ranging from the hugely successful Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na to the anything but substance Ugly Aur Pagli,Bollywood has recently seen the rise of the Romantic Comedy genre, or Romcom as the genre is popularly referred to. Very often, however, the comedy gets lost somewhere in the background and the end product is your standard Bollywood love story – hero meets heroine and together they fight the villain whilst dancing away to a beautiful number, set in some romantic foreign location. Only a very few Hindi romcoms have actually managed to deliver what they promise i.e. a romantic comedy! There is Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge, which continues to be screened in cinemas, 15 years on from its release. And then there is a long forgotten Kismet Konnection, which despite starring big names Shahid Kapoor and Vidya Balan, failed to make any impact.

The key to a successful movie and particularly for a romantic comedy is its script and underlying concept. We hear the currently under production flick London, Paris, New York fits the bill. The movie produced by brother-sister duo Goldie Behl and Shrishti Arya stars Pakistani pop star Ali Zafar and debutant Aditi Rao in the lead roles. For Zafar, LPNY follows on from critically and commercially acclaimed Tere Bin Laden and the soon to be released Mere Brother Ki Dulhan. ‘When everyone goes to sleep, I go to the music studio’ commented Zafar, who has also composed the music and penned the lyrics for the film. Aditi Rao, previously seen in Delhi 6 and Rockstar is an interesting choice against Ali Zafar and one to look out for especially given her acclaimed performance in Delhi 6.

This coming of age story is directed by Anu Menon and comes with the message of enjoying every moment of life and feeling every emotion completely. Aimed at the youth and the emotional changes they go through as they pass their twenties, LPNY promises to put the wit back into Bollywood’s romantic comedies. In line with its name, LPNY has been completely shot internationally, which means that a number of us NRIs will be able to identify with various facets in the script.

In an age when on the one hand love stories are being churned out every Friday and we have path breaking comedies such as Delhi Belly on the other, we quizzed the makers on what makes London, Paris, New York unique. ‘LPNY brings with it freshness of thought, script and energy’, commented Vijay Singh, CEO, Fox Star Studios India. The film follows the journey of Nikhil and Lalitha, two very different individuals who meet each other in three different countries, and mirrors three states of love.

While the narrative does promise to be a commercially successful venture, it remains to be seen how well it fares with the critics. Ali Zafar, cashing on from the success of Tere Bin Laden has gambled a lot with his multi tasking hat well and truly in place. London, Paris, New York does look like one to watch out for.

The music launch is later this year while the flick is set for an early 2012 release.

Film Review: That Girl In Yellow Boots

Film Review: That Girl In Yellow Boots

Sanam Arora

July 2011
UK Premiere of That Girl In Yellow Boots followed by Q&A session with director Anurag Kashyap.

Writer and Director Anurag Kashyap once again brings a dynamic and highly controversial topic to mainstream Bollywood – That Girl In Yellow BootsMeet Ruth, our lead protagonist, beautifully essayed by Kalki KoechlinA British citizen, Ruth moves to India in the search of ‘unconditional love’ that she believes only her father can provide her with. A father, who left his family a long time ago after he was unable to realize his elder daughter’s death. The story leads on as we follow Ruth on her journey as she juggles between a drug addict for a boyfriend and giving ‘happy endings’ to sleazy old men at the massage parlour she works for.

A thriller on the surface, That Girl in Yellow Boots tackles sensitive issues in a very realistic manner and leaves the audience with an awareness of such psychopathic behaviour in society. While Ruth’s desperate journey does emit a doomed feeling throughout, some thankful moments of genuine comedy are provided by Divya Jagdale, the ‘chatterbox’ lady in charge of the parlour and Gulshan Devaiah, the goon who beats up Ruth so her boyfriend repays his debt.

Excellent performances by Kalki Koechlin as Ruth, Naseeruddin Shah as one of her clientele and Prashanth Prakash as her boyfriend make for a delightful watch. Naseeruddin Shah plays Diwakar, an ageing man who is the closest Ruth gets to a father figure. He is protective of her but finds himself helpless against the strong headed Ruth. Prashanth Prakash as Prashanth, Ruth’s addict boyfriend who gets into trouble with the underworld due to his drug problems also delivers brilliantly on all fronts.

Guest appearances by Ronit Roy and Rajat Kapoor add a touch of familiarity. Clever editing successfully tricks the audience into temporarily believing that Kapoor is Ruth’s father, but this rapidly transforms into disappointment. The movie stretches for a while but this is where the anti-climax of this movie comes in as Ruth discovers the identity of the man she now knows as her father and the shattering truth that comes along with this revelation.

Despite some weaknesses, the script works flawlessly by providing constant unpredictability and unanticipated twists. Excellent cinematography and editing ensure the audience is gripped right through to the end, making the movie a stunning success in content and delivery.

Kashyap proves his mantle once again with ground breaking cinema that seeks to impress none but ends up blowing away all. The success of similar movies such as Dev D and Delhi Belly amongst others shows that there is a market for the new Bollywood; Bollywood that brings real life to the screen. Kashyap’s apt comment “The generation today don’t owe anything to anyone…they are not suppressed anymore… (This taboo in society) is a result of years of suppression” reveals why this market for honest Hind-ies is growing at such an accelerating speed and show the hunger for good cinema that is no longer satisfied by a beautiful couple singing and dancing against the backdrop of a picturesque location.

There is still however quite a while to go before Indian society feels fully confident in both the production and consumption of such radical cinema and this is quite evident when Kashyap comments “My parents don’t watch my movies”. As was also revealed during the session, Kashyap found it quite hard to obtain funding for the movie and was told the movie was “career suicide”, further highlighting the difficulties of showcasing such pioneering cinema.

All in all, a must-watch for anyone wanting to watch some real stuff out there. Prepare to go home feeling slightly overwhelmed by the emotional difficulties and choices a young girl of 20 has to make.

Image courtesy of Benaisha Mehta.