Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Niilesh A Raje with Vaishali Samant

Some coincidences are beautiful and my meeting with the famous playback singer Vaishali Samant has been one amongst them . Her debut song "Aika Dajiba" made sensation all over India . . 

A vibrant evening in the company of well known Director, Actor, Writer and Producer Mr. Mahesh Manjrekar and Mr. Agnelorajesh Athaide Chairman and Managing Director St Angelo's Professional Education and now also an Author

Niilesh A Raje with Mr. Anant Mahadevan an eminent Screenwriter, Actor and Director

Defining Moment 2014 - In the company of Mr. Anant Mahadevan an eminent Screenwriter, Actor and Director of Hindi, Marathi Films and Television Serials. His Marathi Film "Mee Sindhutai Sapkal" fetched him the Special Jury Award at the National Film Awards 2010 . . .

Niilesh A Raje with Anupam Kher and Naseeruddin Shah

Super Sunday - Freewheeling chat over cup of tea with two eminent actors from the Indian Film Industry namely Mr. Anupam Kher and Mr. Naseeruddin Shah. Indeed an eventful Sunday . . .

Niilesh A Raje with Naseeruddin Shah

Super Sunday - Creative discussions with the actor Mr. Naseeruddin Shah regards to his recently launched book "Naseeruddin Shah - And Then One Day , A Memoir

Niilesh A Raje ~ 2014

Year 2014 - Close interactions with actor Om Puri, lyrics writer Gulzar and India's highest paid lawyer Mr. Ram Jethmalani and former India cricket captain Dilip Vengsarkar

Niilesh A Raje ~ 2014

Defining Moments 2014 - Met some of the eminent journalist from the country Mr. Rajdeep Sardesai, Mr. Kumar Ketkar, Ms. Anupama Chopra and Directors Mr. Shekar Kapur and Mr. Dibakar Banerjee . . .

Niilesh A Raje ~ October 2014

Defining Moment 2014 - Had the privilege to meet the Superstar of the Millennium Mr. Amitabh Bachchan on his Birthday. Won the Best Article Award for my piece on Lata Mangeshkar and freewheeling chat with Dream Girl actress Hema Malini . . .

Niilesh A Raje ~ 2014

Defining Moment 2014 - Had opportunity to meet some powerful women which included singer Asha Bhosle, prolific writer Shobhaa De, Forbes List Powerful Women Arianna Huffington and actress Pooja Bhatt . 

Niilesh A Raje ~ 2014

Niilesh A Raje ( January 2014 )

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Rajdeep Sardesai (Breaking Views) ~ by : Niilesh A Raje

If we were asked to name some prominent news anchor who presented to us with “News @ 9” there are quite few names that would come in our mind and Mr. Rajdeep Sardesai (Currently: Consulting Editor, India Today Group) obviously would be one amongst them.
Be it covering the breaking news that covers an attack to the nation or having strong political debate in the newsroom or speaking to an IIT Topper one must admire the passion and pride with Mr. Rajdeep Sardesai has been doing it brimming with confidence. What I have appreciated in this individual is not only the way he would present us with the news but also create an equal interest over the subject in the minds and hearts of the viewers. One of his biggest strengths I would say is intonation - the rise and fall in the pitch of his voice and his ability to probe questions and then later getting into the heart of the story.

Today, Mr. Rajdeep Sardesai is not only India’s Top Journalists but also an author of his recently released book titled, “2014 - The Election That Changed India”. In the recent past I had the opportunity to meet this prolific news anchor over freewheeling chat.

For this week I would like to share short piece on Mr. Rajdeep Sardesai a well-known name in Indian electronic media.

Early Aspirations

They say, “Life is what happens to you while you are busy making other plans”. While young Rajdeep was very much found of playing cricket. His father Late Dilip Sardesai was a prominent Indian Test Cricketer in the 1960’s. His Mother Nandini Sardesai worked as a Professor of Sociology at St. Xavier's College in Mumbai.

Rajdeep always loved playing cricket and represented while playing at University level. It’s here he had close interaction with well-known right handed middle order batsman Mr. Sanjay Manjrekar. While Mr. Manjrekar went ahead in life with International Cricket whereas Rajdeep created his own identity in the field of Journalism.

Education / Career

Before getting into journalism Rajdeep aspired to become a lawyer. He first completed his Bachelor's Degree Course in Economics from St. Xavier's College. Post which he went to England to study in Oxford University and acquired the following degrees namely Master of Arts (M.A.) and Bachelor of Laws (L.L.B.).

On his return from England in the year 1988 he decided to start his career as a lawyer by practicing law in India. But destiny had its own plans for Rajdeep. It was around the same time while Rajdeep was contemplating “Lawyer” as his profession he had the opportunity to meet the eminent journalist and the current editor then of “The Times of India” (TOI) Mr. Dileep Padgaonkar.

Rajdeep, being a compulsive reader and writer the thought of joining TOI appealed to him. Initially he started writing for TOI and later worked there for brief period of six years and was the city editor of its Mumbai Edition.

I was fortunate to enter into the field of journalism at a time when there were many events and happenings taking place within our country. Had there not been any major upheavals taking place in the country however any journalist may aspire to write the fact remains what is that topic the journalist would choose and amplify their thoughts that shall appeal to the voice of the readers. Rajdeep admits destiny was kind enough which allowed him come into the field of journalism at an opportune time which gave him immense opportunities to amplify on his strengths and competencies.

Parents Influence

Rajdeep’s, parents especially his Mother who was Professor was cognizant that their son was always a good student who loved to take part in debates and dramas. He had a flair for General Knowledge and always searched for answers beyond what the textbooks could offer and that too at a very young age. One thing evident was his thirst for knowledge was always growing as he was keen to know more about the world and surroundings.

What would be the future of his chosen craft namely “Television Journalism” was something even his parents were not much aware about. All they could do at that point of time was to believe in his strengths and motivate him on his voyage of discovery.

Rajdeep Sardesai is a successful name today but there were risks he took and dare to achieve it. The point of time when he decided to leave NDTV and start his own venture “CNN IBN” his parents were apprehensive as he was already doing well in his career path. However, as Rajdeep wanted to follow his dreams his parents allowed him to take the risk and go that extra mile.

Rajdeep has also been the President of the Editors Guild of India the only Television Journalist to hold the post and was also chosen as a Global leader for tomorrow by the World Economic Forum in 2000.

Commitment towards Craft

Rajdeep Sardesai's commitment towards his chosen craft is commendable. He is workaholic and works round-the-clock to achieve prominence and excellence. Reading relates to his mind as much as exercise relates to his body. Never complacent despite his near stardom status. He firmly believes when there is work it must be completed and there are times when Rajdeep doesn't take his weekly offs.

He believes in precision to details and in his farewell letter written to IBN 18 staff he says, "Am sorry if I would occasionally call at 3 am in the morning. Blame it on being a news junkie. And remember, every time there is a spelling mistake on the ticker, my ghost will haunt you”. 

I would love to sum up my piece in his words, “I guess certain things in life are written in the stars. Editorial independence and Integrity have been articles of faith in 26 years in journalism and maybe I am too old now to change!

For all the book lover’s reading the first book “2014 - The Election That Changed India” from one of the country’s most recognized and respected journalists Mr. Rajdeep Sardesai would be indeed enlightening.

Happy Reading!!!

More in the “New Year”. More in the morrow . . .

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Pooja Bhatt and Niilesh A Raje

Happy to be in the company of the vivacious Pooja Bhatt a very creative person and also a compulsive reader . . . Creative Discussions 

Actress Pooja Bhatt and Niilesh A Raje

Jab We Met . . . An evening in the company of vivacious actress Pooja Bhatt . . .

Actress Pooja Bhatt with Niilesh A Raje

Happiness shared and an evening well spent in the company of actress Pooja Bhatt and the whole crew . . .

Monday, December 15, 2014

Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (1000 Week Celebrations) ~ by : Niilesh A Raje

Last week Friday (12th December 2014) the movie "Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge" completed 1000 weeks of successful running at Mumbai's Maratha Mandir theatre. The single screen that came into the limelight after it ran 'Mughal-e-Azam' for eight years and today it has broken its own record by running “Dilwale” for nineteen years continuously. A story that redefined love.

To commemorate 1000 weeks of romance a book was released on this occasion titled, “Aditya Chopra Relives . . . Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge” published by Yash Raj Films Pvt. Ltd. Director Aditya Chopra was just 24 years of age when “Dilwale” was released on Diwali 20th October 1995. One can only realize the creativity exhibited by this young boy then.

There are many interesting anecdotes that are given in his book and I take this opportunity to share some of them in my piece.

“Dilwale” or “DDLJ”

Well, whenever Director Aditya Chopra speaks of the movie he calls it as “Dilwale” and not “DDLJ”. Title being too long with passage of time “Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge” became “DDLJ” amongst the masses. Not that Aditya has any objection or gets offended with this but for him it’s like a nickname someone else has given to your child. It’s just that he has always referred to the film as “Dilwale” and continues to do so. It was Kirron Kher who suggested the movie’s title.

Come Fall In Love

Love is a singular experience being plurally felt witnessing delicate merger of two souls. Love is something one always aspires for and for some these aspirations do come true while for other’s they end up coming out of the woods of a broken heart.

It could be possible that in real life your love is forbidden to you or one may not be able to express it openly in the public or otherwise to that someone special. But on the silver screen one can experience it all. Romance in Cinema provides that dream space.

With “Dilwale” Director Aditya Chopra wanted Raj and Simran to be seen as lovers that many people would always aspire to be. Hey, I want to be like this man Shahrukh in my love or otherwise. Post watching the movie that thought has to be registered that every guy would love to have Simran in his life while every girl would aspire to have her Raj in her life. Aditya Chopra admired Raj Kapoor for his work so much that Shahrukh (Raj Malhotra) was called as Raj throughout the movie.

If we observe this romantic movie not even once did Raj or Simran said “I Love You” to each other. On the contrary it was pretty evident they both have fallen in love with each other. In the scene where Simran invites Raj for her wedding Shahrukh says, “Main Nahin Aaunga” (I won’t come for your wedding). When a girl invites you for her wedding it’s very unlikely a guy would refuse the invitation. It was in fact Raj’s style to convey it to Simran “I Love You” hence I won’t come to be part of your vibrant wedding celebration.

Palat Palat Palat

The dialogue where we see Shahrukh saying Palat Palat Palat was something Director Aditya admits to have copied the same from Clint Eastwood 1993 thriller titled In the Line of Fire. There is a scene where in Eastwood sees his love walk away and then says to himself “turn”. The idea was there in Aditya’s mind for long and while writing the scene it came back to him. He liked the idea and decided to use it in his script.

The shooting for this was scheduled at King’s Cross Station in the evening and weather was cold in there in London. So Aditya Chopra who was wearing the brown jacket lent the same to Shahrukh which can be seen in this movie in the “Palat” scene.

The Facts Remain  

The entire screenplay was written in twelve days. The filming of DDLJ took place over sixty-seven non consecutive days. The whole movie was made in a budget of three crore rupees. For many years Dilwale was the most successful Indian film abroad. With the profits earned with Dilwale it allowed the Chopra’s to buy land in Andheri West where the Yash Raj Films studios stand today.

For the Director of Photography (DOP) the choice decided was Manmohan Singh (Manji). He shared close association with Yash Ji and had shot most of his films. Not even once he made Aditya Chopra the young boy of 24 years feel that he was inexperienced. Today, Manji has stopped photographing films in Mumbai and is now a leading film director in Punjabi Cinema.

The musical hit “Dilwale” was the good work from the duo Jatin Lalit who gave most unforgettable scores. The mahurat shot in this movie was Simran’s introduction. While for Amrish Puri (Baldev Singh’s) shop they wanted to do the shoot at Southhall. However, on the day of the shooting there was massive crowd gathered who had come to see the shooting making it impossible to complete the shoot. The scene was later filmed in a petrol pump station shop on some motorway. And I still remember while I first saw the movie in theatre with my dear friend people screaming Shahrukh with his entry in Dilwale.

The song "Tujhe Dekha To" fetched lyrics writer Anand Bakshi his Filmfare Award. The movie “Dilwale” set the record at its time for the most Filmfare awards won by a single film with ten in all. Aditya knew that Bakshi Saab’s words have power and was very important person out here. However, post ten days had passed and at least fifty of Bakshi Saab’s mukhdas were already rejected.

Bakshi Saab said, “Adi, I’m not able to meet your expectations. I’m not sure if I would be the right person for you. You better replace me with someone else. However, Aditya knew it was Bakshi Saab only who could get the work done here and to the final projections. There was nothing wrong with the mukhdas but they were just not apt for the girl Simran is what Aditya felt. The day Bakshi Saab came up with this line, “Ussse Kaho Jaaye Chaand Leke Aaye, Mere Khwabon Mein Jo Aaye” the things took a different turn for both Bakshi Saab as well as Aditya.

Not that I have covered all the anecdotes in my piece but I am positive for all the fans of “Dilwale” reading this Aditya Chopra’s book full of interesting anecdotes would be indeed enlightening. Reading the anecdote and then watching the movie again would be a different experience all together. Come Fall In Love. When Raj(e) met Simran Love Was Never The Same . . .

Monday, December 8, 2014

Arianna Huffington (Forbes List Most Influential Women) by: Niilesh A Raje

When you wake up in the morning, don't start your day by looking at your smartphone. Take one minute - trust me, you do have one minute - to breathe deeply, or be grateful or set your intention for the day. ~ Arianna Huffington

One day while I was reading some of the motivational quotes over the internet I happened to read the above quote by Arianna Huffington which not only made a favorable impression on my mind but also set me thinking.

Technically speaking what Arianna quotes does makes sense in today’s world of malls, multiplexes and social media. Not checking your smartphone for longer hours for many of us is like a feeling of a fish with no water. Smartphones today have become an absolute addiction for many.

Before I pen down my short piece and excerpts of my chat I had with Arianna let me first give short introduction on the personality under consideration.

Arianna Huffington is the Co-founder and Editor-In-Chief of The Huffington Post, a nationally syndicated Columnist, and Author of fourteen books. In 2009, Huffington was named as number 12 in Forbes first-ever list of the Most Influential Women in Media and as of 2014 she is still listed as the most powerful Woman in the world by Forbes. She is best known for her news website The Huffington Post. In 2003, she ran as an Independent Candidate for Governor in the California recall election.

With Arianna Huffington currently being in India I took this opportunity to meet her over freewheeling chat. It was only yesterday that AOL owned news website Huffington Post launched its India edition in partnership with The Times of India Group.

Here is the excerpt of my chat with the lady in the position of prominence none other than Arianna Huffington.

Question: Arianna, Welcome to India!!!. Well, my question to you being it’s an observation that even when a family goes out for dinner in a good restaurant instead of spending some quality time with your loved one’s over dinner table one can see that each member of the family is deeply engrossed in checking their emails, their facebook accounts or chatting with friends over WhatsApp till the time the dinner arrives and at times checking emails still continues. Why this addiction to social media?

Response: Thanks. Well, when we founded The Huffington Post in 2005 within two years we were growing at an incredible pace. I was on the cover of magazines and had been chosen by Time Magazine's as one of the world’s Most Influential Women. I was working hard eighteen hours a day for seven days a week trying to build a business and expand our reach. It was on 6th April 2007 while on my way down my head hit the corner of the desk cutting my eye and breaking my cheekbone. After my fall I asked myself, “Was this what success looks like?”

We as individuals keep on following the latest trends technology offers us. Today, Smartphones are getting cheaper so also the number of Facebook users seems to be growing exponentially. The Desktop’s have been replaced by Mobiles giving us instant connection and responses from every one spread across the globe. Those days of delayed response getting back home switching ON your computer are all over in today’s age of social media. We all love instant responses.

Also, when we see that only 13% of battery life is remaining on our smartphone we get anxious and stop all our work only to go, hunt or borrow smartphone chargers. We are petrified of being left alone without our smartphone. Renowned Greek Mathematician had said, "Give me a place to stand on, and I will move the earth.”

In the hustle and bustle of our daily routine the cycles of life keep moving on. It’s one’s very own experience that enriches our life. Well, one must enjoy that quality time with your loved one’s rather than being glued to your smartphone. A good sleep is an absolute must for every individual and for us to be creative. One must understand that we as human being are not meant to be up 99.9% all the time and the world does not come to an end if we keep our smartphone away or switched off for couple of hours.

Yes, social media is an addiction but it’s we who are the Chief of our life. We must be matured enough to get the pulse of what’s more important to us. Good Sleep or being glued to your smartphone all day long.

Arianna, Thank you so much for the time you gave to me on your visit here in India. Here’s wishing you and the whole crew of The Huffington Post All The Very Best for the launch of your India edition. We are positive it would indeed be a voyage of discovery.

Before I call halt for now I would like to sum it up by another beautiful quote from Arianna, "If we charge our phones by our beds we are going to be tempted if we wake up in the middle of the night for whatever reason to look at our data. And when we look at incoming emails and texts we are allowing our day life to intrude into our night life, the time when we are recharging and our sleep is not as deep and recharging as it needs to be."  

Happy Reading!!!