Thursday, April 20, 2017

39 Years of DON ( Anecdotes of an Iconic Thriller ) : by Niilesh A Raje

With Amitabh Bachchan's movie DON completing 39 years of its release I would like to share few interesting anecdotes with respect to the following song from this movie - "Ye Mera Dil Pyaar Ka Deewana".

While there have been many hit songs that feature Amitabh Bachchan but "Ye Mera Dil Pyaar Ka Deewana" song from the movie DON is amongst the first few songs of Amitabh Bachchan which feature just him and the opposite cast (Helen) in this song and no one else. We had earlier seen him feature in the song say from Bombay to Goa but that was amongst a group of people. Hence this song sets him apart from the rest of the pack. Yes, later after the movie DON we did see Amitabh Bachchan feature in many more toe-tapping numbers who came up with his own dancing style.

The song, "Ye Mera Dil Pyaar Ka Deewana" was the first song from the movie DON which was shot in the leading studios in Mumbai, Mehboob Studios (Bandra). The look and feel gives one the impression it was shot in one of the leading hotels in the suburbs. The check style jacket and the emerald green colored shirt which Amitabh wore in this song was the same one he had purchased it from Cecil Gee - London's Leading Stylist for men's wear. Not to forget Amitabh Bachchan's graceful entry in the movie impeccably dressed with his personal Ray-Ban glasses was also bought from London during his visit.      

DON, a Spanish word which means “Gentleman” or “Nobleman” indicating the term of respect for a man usually followed by his first name. Director Chandra Barot who directed the 1978 Amitabh Bachchan starrer “DON” was right when he showcased Mumbai as the city of opportunities and success stories, a city for dream and dream merchants and a city of Gold.

The song, "Ye Mera Dil Pyaar Ka Deewana" was the first song from the movie DON which was shot in the leading studios in Mumbai, Mehboob Studios (Bandra).  Lyrics were by Indeevar Saab and melodious voice was of Asha Ji for this pulsating song. The word Dil in this song makes it sound that this song is romantic but in reality, it was never a romantic number. On the contrary, in this song, Helen tries to seek revenge with Amitabh for having killed her fiance. Helen had already performed earlier in numbers like, "O Haseena Zulfonwaali" and "Piya Tu Aab Tho Aaja". So, far Helen to perform this number "Ye Mera Dil Pyaar Ka Deewana" wasn’t too difficult. Kalyanji Anandji's music continues to soothe the ears of music lovers even today. I equally love the background music heard during thriller or action sequence in this movie. Dialogues none other than Salim-Javed.

The choreographer for the song was P L Raj (birth name Devraj Peter Lewis) who was in his early 30's while the movie DON was in the making. He was amongst the leading choreographer during 60s and 70s within Hindi Cinema. In 2001, P L Raj was honoured with the Dadasaheb Phalke Award for technical excellence. Today, his son Lesle Peter Lewis is a popular composer and a member of the duo Colonial Cousins.      

Director Chandra Barot’s DON attained the cult status in India, proved to be an iconic thriller and dialogues constantly mouthed by innumerable fans. The primary reason for the project DON being the director Chandra wanted to help his friend the producer of the movie Nariman A Irani who had suffered a big financial setback. 

Director Chandra Barot finished his Senior Cambridge Examination in 1959 and had spent most of his life in Dar es Salaam. Between his Senior Cambridge Examinations and results, he had 6 months time frame. His father mentioned him about part time vacancy at Barclays Bank. Chandra immediately took up the offer at Barclays Bank and worked with the organization, not for 6 months but full time for a brief period of nine years making it as his full-time profession. Very few can imagine a Corporate Executive from an MNC goes ahead in life to become a Creative Director. Chandra was known for dressing well and flaunting fancy accessories he possessed then.

I dedicate this piece to all the fans of the 1978 movie DON. Watching the movie (several times) I had the impression that DON means a Man in Powerful Position but now I also view it from Spanish angle meaning “Nobleman” or "Gentleman" expressing honour or respect to highly respected Mr. Amitabh Bachchan Ji and also to the whole crew of the 1978 starrer DON for giving each one of us an iconic thriller.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Book Review : Bollywood Boom ( India's Rise as a Soft Power ) : by Niilesh A Raje

Penguin Random House India are delighted to release the new title Bollywood Boom by National Award winner Roopa Swaminathan. Her last book Star Dust: Vignettes from the Fringes of the Film Industry won the coveted Swarna Kamal for Best Writing on Cinema.

Bollywood is bold, beautiful and happening. And it’s happening now. From Raj Kapoor to Amitabh Bachchan to Aamir Khan and Shah Rukh Khan, Bollywood has been India’s best cultural ambassador, be it in Russia, Africa or East Europe, and now in the UK and the US. 

In Bollywood Boom, National Award–winner Roopa Swaminathan explores the spectacular success of Bollywood in the twenty-first century and its rapidly rising power to influence the world. She argues that besides international goodwill, Indian cinema brings to the country real income through trade and tourism, and also enhances its global standing. Extensively researched and peppered with fun anecdotes, this remarkable book shows how Bollywood has the power to mold India’s fortunes by winning the hearts of people across continents.

The world is feeling the impact of Bollywood like never before. From the Oscar-nominated Lagaan to Bajrangi Bhaijaan to Ae Dil Hai Mushkil, Bollywood has come a long way since the watershed Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge and the UK Top Ten debut of Kuch Kuch Hota Hai. Where earlier it was in Russia, East Europe, and Africa that Raj Kapoor and Amitabh Bachchan enjoyed a devoted fan base, today the entire world is as entertained by the three Khans as by the international stars Irrfan, Priyanka and Deepika.

In Bollywood Boom, National Award–winner Roopa Swaminathan opens a window to the spectacular success of Bollywood in the twenty-first century and its direct contribution to India’s rising soft power and influence. Using extensive research, a compelling argument and fun anecdotes, Roopa shows how Bollywood not only brings to the country real income through trade and tourism but also enhances its global standing.

Roopa Swaminathan is a National Award–winning writer, filmmaker, and scholar. Her book Star Dust: Vignettes from the Fringes of the Film Industry won the coveted Swarna Kamal for Best Writing on Cinema in 2005. She has also written, executive-produced and directed a feature film for NFDC, Five by Four. Roopa has a doctorate in international relations from Norfolk, Virginia, USA. Presently, Roopa commutes between writing in Pune and teaching wherever there are passionate young minds is working on her upcoming books and trying to sell her screenplays.

Author               Roopa Swaminathan

Binding               Paperback

EAN                        9780143429180

ISBN                0143429183

Language         English

Language Type Published

Number Of Pages 272

Price                        Rs 399/-

Product Group Book

Publication Date 2017-04-17

Publisher                 Penguin Random House India


Sunday, April 9, 2017

The Making of Marathi Play CODE “मंत्र” : by ~ Niilesh A Raje

There has always been lots of curiosity amongst the common masses when it relates to the story of our Indian Army who are far across from their home and loved one’s protecting each one of us. The rigorous training they undergo to make it up being part of the army and the practice of discipline one needs to adhere to as part of their professional work environment is indeed notable. So when viewers get the opportunity to witness drama that unfolds the plot about the life in the Indian Army then Marathi play CODE “मंत्र” is no exception. The play CODE “मंत्र” is set up against the background of the Indian Army.

Even before I could ask any question to actress Mukta Barve about the making of the Marathi play CODE मंत्र” wherein she is seen playing the lead role alongside actor Ajay Purkar what captivated my attention being the title itself and the way it has been designed. I was intrigued which excited me to ask Mukta my first question, "Why the title of the play CODE “मंत्र” is written in two different languages where CODE is written in English and ”मंत्र” in Marathi? What was the thought process when the design was made that makes use of two different languages? It's very rare that one finds the title of the play or movie that makes use of two different languages. Perhaps the crew of CODE “मंत्र” may have the answer but I don't.  

The journey goes back to the first week of January year 2016 when producer Dinesh Pednekar was invited to watch the Gujarati version of the play CODE “मंत्र”. He was so impressed watching the play that he could not resist himself but call Mukta Barve during the interval. He suggested her to watch this Gujarati version of the play CODE “मंत्र” as he had already made up his mind to come up with the same play in Marathi. Now whether Mukta might agree or decline to work in the Marathi version of this play was totally subjective.

Without wasting time and with no knowledge of Gujarati language Mukta went ahead and watched the Gujarati version of this play not once but thrice till she got straight into the heart of the story. Having got convinced she then conveyed her decision to Mr. Dinesh Pednekar that she is ready to play the lead role in the Marathi version of the play CODE “मंत्र”.

Mukta has played the role as Military Law Expert Ahilya Deshmukh. Now came the challenge to find someone who would play the lead role (male) opposite to Mukta and the search started. Research revealed that it was Mukta’s Mother who recommended the name of actor Ajay Purkar to play the role of Colonel Prataprao Nimbalkar.

Initial days the rehearsals were on from 10 am to 5 pm but with the passage of time they spread over to twelve hours shift from 10 am to 10 pm such was the level of commitment from each one of them who were part of this vibrant Marathi play CODE मंत्रThe whole crew comprised of forty artists who were ready in a span of forty days to perform live on the center stage each one giving their own power-packed performance. And, once the courtroom drama unfolds it’s interesting to see the Military Law Expert Mukta (Ahilya Deshmukh) and her voice resonate inside the courtroom who is seen to ask blunt and pointed questions be it the petitioner or respondent appearing inside the witness box.

To achieve the milestone of completion of fifty successful shows in short span of seventy days is indeed creditable. As of 8 March, 2017 Marathi version of CODE “मंत्र” has already completed 150 shows and is still counting. CODE “मंत्र” has also been the recipient of many awards which includes Maharashtra Times Award for the Best Marathi Play and Zee Gaurav for the most captivating Marathi play for this year. To sum it up not to forget actor and writer Sneha Desai got the inspiration to pen down the Gujarati play CODE मंत्र” from the original play first produced on Broadway namely "A Few Good Men" play by Aaron Sorkin. To know more about the day in the life of Indian Army then watching Marathi version of the CODE “मंत्र” is an absolute must making your watching experience more enthralling.  

Director:  Rajesh Joshi 

Cast :  Mukta Barve, Ajay Purkar, Umesh Jagtap, Atul Mahajan, Kaustubh Diwan, Faiz Khan, Sanjay Khapre, Milind Adhikari, Vikram Gaikwad, Amit Jambekar, Swati Bovlekar, Sanjay Mahadik and Ajay Kasurde