Monthly Archives: October 2017

Panchlait teaser: Prem Modi’s directorial might leave you with more questions than answers

The teaser of Prem Modi’s Panchlait has been released. The film is based on a story by Phanishwar Nath Renu, one of the pioneers of modern Hindi literature. Set in a small village in Bihar, the film brings back memories of the original story by aptly recreating the characters and the setting.

A still from Panchlait. Screengrab from YouTube.

Starring Amitosh Nagpal, Anuradha Mukherjee, Rajesh Sharma, Ravi Jhankal and Brijendra Kala among others, the film brings forth several issues which are still faced by people of the lower rung of the economy. Shortage of electricity is the overarching issue which has been presented in a lighthearted manner. However, the teaser will leave you with more questions than answers.

The original story revolves around a village and its inhabitants who are so innocent and inexperienced that they do not know how to light a simple lamp. Their lack of knowledge leads to hilarious situations, something which has been projected in the teaser too. The makers have made sure to put across the conundrum of the villagers as much as possible which explains the frequent shots of villagers gathered around the lamp, examining it intently.

Secret Superstar: Aamir Khan’s character in the film inspired by Anil Kapoor, Jeetendra

Mumbai: Bollywood superstar Aamir Khan’s quirky character Shakti Kumaarr from his forthcoming movie Secret Superstar has been inspired by Jeetendra and Anil Kapoor.

Anil Kapoor (left); Aamir Khan in Secret Superstar (centre); and Jeetendra. Image courtesy: Facebook

Aamir said in a statement: “One of the secrets from Secret Superstar is that in this film, I have used some lines that film actors usually use in their personal life and whenever I meet them. I tend to remember some lines from it, and I have used those lines while playing my character in the film.

“For example, when I met Jeetuji (Jeetendra) for the very first time, I found him as a very humorous person. He had come to visit Nasir (filmmaker Nasir Hussain) sahab once and I was sitting with them that time. I was an assistant to Nasir sahab then. Jeetuji said, ‘Nasir sahab, I have been offered a film which has a double role’. Jeetuji laughed and said I can’t do one role properly and I have been offered two roles.

“Further, he said that it’s perfectly fine, I’ll do it well and said ‘Buck up India’… The way he said ‘Buck Up India’, I found it so charming that time that it remained in my mind, and now also if we meet somewhere, he says, ‘Son, you have a release now… Buck Up India! It will do very good’. The way Jeetuji uses that phrase ‘Buck up India’ is something I like and I have used that in Secret Superstar.”

What about Anil?

“One thing about Anil Kapoor I have noticed is that whenever he is done talking on call, he doesn’t say bye once, he says bye about 15-20 times on call. So while speaking with him on call when I say, ‘Anil, see you bye’, he says ‘Bye, bye, bye, bye, bye’ in series. My character uses this trait also.”

Secret Superstar is a film which brings out the inner superstar of a teenage girl who is dreaming to become a singer and how she fulfils her dreams by keeping her identity hidden.

Today in Wait, What — Yo Yo Honey Singh reportedly offered Rs 25 crore to write biography

Rapper Yo Yo Honey Singh is apparently being offered Rs 25 crore to write a tell-all novel and it better make us meet God.

Yo Yo Honey Singh in all his glory. Image from Twitter/@khina7092

As an afterthought, we don’t know what’s more surprising — the money or the possibility of him writing a book because, you know, he thinks it’s okay to rhyme ‘paani’ with ‘sunny’.

The ‘Brown Rang’ rapper, who suddenly disappeared from the music scene, has been offered this whopping amount by a publication house, which is currently pursuing him to write about

EntertainmentFP StaffOct, 17 2017 14:37:19 IST

Rapper Yo Yo Honey Singh is apparently being offered Rs 25 crore to write a tell-all novel and it better make us meet God.
Yo Yo Honey Singh in all his glory. Image from Twitter/@khina7092

Yo Yo Honey Singh in all his glory. Image from Twitter/@khina7092

As an afterthought, we don’t know what’s more surprising — the money or the possibility of him writing a book because, you know, he thinks it’s okay to rhyme ‘paani’ with ‘sunny’.

The ‘Brown Rang’ rapper, who suddenly disappeared from the music scene, has been offered this whopping amount by a publication house, which is currently pursuing him to write about his life, according to a DNA report. The report also suggests that the biopic might be turned into a film later.

The identity of the publishing house has not been revealed, obviously, otherwise we would’ve been writing a pitch instead of this piece.

Just in case the publication house is reading this — we’re willing to sell our soul to you. We will write a tell-all, draw the illustrations, design the cover, develop a marketing strategy — both for digital and on-ground and we will also arm-twist friends and family into buying the biography once it touches the stalls. Not to mention the incessant spamming on family groups.

And we are ready to do all this in just Rs 5 crore. Rs 2 crore will also work since it’s Diwali time and we love Diwali discounts irrespective or our economic well-being. You can get in touch with us if you are interested (pls get in touch pls pls pls*insert Hi5 emoji which is being used as a praying emoji for decades now*).

As for the singer, he has had his share of highs and lows. After breaking into the music scene with ‘Lak 28 Kudi Da’, which is also every Delhi-ite’s guilty pleasure, he went on to become one of the highest paid music producers of the country. However, towards the fag end of 2014, he disappeared, to announce in 2016 that he is suffering from bipolar disorder.

Our lives might not be as interesting as Singh’s but hey, we swear our biography will be read by all people of different skin colours — black, brown, yellow, white, Yami Gautam, orange — everyone!

Aamir Khan on Thugs of Hindostan co-star: Watching Amitabh Bachchan on-screen is ‘fulfilling’

Mumbai: Superstar Aamir Khan, who is working with Amitabh Bachchan in the upcoming film Thugs of Hindostan, says watching the megastar on the big screen is “a fulfilling experience”, and his superstardom can’t be re-created.

Asked if working with Big B was surreal, Aamir, an admirer of the veteran actor, told media here on Sunday: “Watching Mr Bachchan on screen in a theatre… His aura, action, every nuance of his acting was such a fulfilling experience in cinema.”

Picking his favourite from Amitabh’s filmography is a tough one for Aamir.

“I have many favourites like Natwarlal, Don and Namak Halaal. In fact, I remember after watching Namak Halaal in the theatre, I called up Mansoor (Khan) and asked him to come with me to watch the film. We went to watch its next show again.”

Talking about Big B’s stardom, he said: “I think the superstardom of Amitabh Bachchan can’t be re-created. It is so unique, the charisma he has….I mean imagine, there was a time when seven of his films were running in the theatre for months.

“Films like Don, Mukaddar ka Sikandar and Trishul in the same year! He used to date clash with his own film!”

As times are changing, and social media culture is playing an important role in building the public image of Bollywood film stars, Aamir says the definition of stardom has also changed.

“The fabric has changed. There was a time when access to a star was so limited, especially in the 1950s-60s era when there was no television, and fans used to wait for their stars to appear in cinema or a film’s premiere. They used to wait outside houses.

“Then came television when the interview started and people got the access to see how they looked and talked when not acting….That apart, of course, there were magazines and newspaper interviews. Now everything has changed, and how…,” said Aamir.

Now movie stars, he feels, are more communicative, accessible to their fans and it’s more interactive.

“It has changed from waiting outside the house to one click away….Everything about your favourite star is on the phone, and the phone is in your pocket. So you have the favourite star in your pocket,” he said.

The actor is excited about the Diwali release of his film Secret Superstar, also featuring Zaira Wasim. It will hit the screens on October 19.

Movie Munchies: Like Saif Ali Khan’s Chef, a good food film should make you hungry

When I stepped out of the theatre after watching director Raja Krishna Menon’s Chef earlier this week, I hoped that Roshan Kalra’s (Saif Ali Khan) food truck Raasta Café was parked outside. Even though I have never tasted a Rottza (a desi version of quesadillas made with rotis instead of tortillas that Roshan describes as his invention), I was craving that with a side of banana and potato crisps.

A remake of Jon Favreau’s 2014 sleeper hit, Chef has Saif Ali Khan playing a frustrated three Michelin-star chef in New York. A very public meltdown, where he ends up assaulting a customer, results in him being fired. In a bid to reconnect with his habitually disappointed son (Svar Kamble) and to get his cooking mojo back, Roshan reinvents himself with a food truck.

Saif Ali Khan in a still from Chef. Image from Twitter

Even before the father-and-son duo bond over cheese-laden (paneer, egg burfi and kheema) rottzas, Roshan takes Armaan on a culinary journey from the narrow lanes of Chandni Chowk to the world’s largest communal kitchen in the Golden Temple and dhabas of Amritsar. The film opens with the crusty surface of an aalu tikki being broken open before being slathered with the usual chaat paraphernalia of cold yogurt, tangy tamarind and fiery mint chutney and juliennes of ginger. And, every single shot of food being cut, prepared and served is a feast for the eyes.

Imagine this – the theatre is dark; the film is rolling and, you are dreaming of chugging a chilled glass of lassi in Amritsar or a mouth-water grilled cheese or marching into the nearest patisserie for glorious gateaux or charming choux pastries.

Some movies make you fall in love, some movies make you cry, and a handful of them make you very, very hungry.

Roshan Kalra is not the only desi celluloid chef returning to his roots this year. In director Pratim D Gupta’s Bengali film Maacher Jhol, Dev D (Ritwick Chakraborty), a Parisian chef comes back to Kolkata to see his ailing mother (Mamata Shankar). Her only request – maacher jhol (film curry) like how he used to make it. It’s been more than a decade after he had last made jhol for his mother so Dev struggles to get the flavors right. He tries different combinations of cauliflowers, peas and potatoes with fish in mustard broth but his mother tells him ‘it’s not ‘that’ maacher jhol’. On his last attempt, Dev dazzles his mother with Katla Komola, a jhol with orange juice and no vegetables and garnished with fried curry leaves.

Like Maacher Jhol, director Lijo Jose Pellissery’s Malayalam gangster film Angamaly Diaries also celebrates local culinary traditions. Unlike the previous two films, it seems that unlikely that food could be an integral part of a gangster film but it is. The food is always there in the background, being prepared or eaten. The main conflict between the two gangs is over pork; Pepe (Antony Varghese) describes his first love as Kappayum Muttayum (mashed tapioca with eggs) in the local thattukada; and a pivotal fight breaks out over the last plate of rabbit stew. And, all of this is washed down with abundant supply of home made arrack (toddy).

Poster of Angamaly Diaries.

Malyalam cinema has delivered some delicious food films in recent years. In Ustad Hotel, a man takes baby steps toward repairing his relationship with his grandfather by perfecting the flaky kerala porottas. The duo cement their relationship over cups of fragrant sulaimani chai on the beaches of Kozhikode. The tagline of direct Aashiq Abu’s 2011 film Salt n’ Pepper is ‘Oru Dosa Udakkiya Kadha’ (A story born out of a dosa).

In the film, the love for dosa brings together two strangers.

Internationally, there’s a food film out there for every palate. Watching Jiro Ono, the subject of the documentary, Jiro Dreams of Sushi, lovingly mold fish and rice together will make the pickiest eaters hungry. Food is an integral part of the Chinese culture and the opening sequence of Ang Lee’s Eat Drink Man Woman, features some of the most breathtaking shots of traditional Chinese cooking.

In I Am Love, a much married Emma (Tilda Swinton) falls in love with an Italian chef after he whips up a shrimp dish for her. Helen Mirren and Om Puri’s The Hundred Food Journey is all about the clash of the cuisines when an Indian restaurant opens opposite a world-famous French one.

Ready for dessert? There’s enough dessert porn in films to satisfy everyone’s sweet cravings. Watching artfully arranged plates of petit fours in Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette will definitely trigger a hankering for the pastel-coloured delicate confectionaries. Remember the satisfying crack when Amelie (Audret Tautou) hit the caramelized top of a crème brulee with the back of her spoon? In The Grand Budapest Hotel, Agatha (Saoirse Ronan) bakes courtesan au chocolat, the three-tiered chocolate-creme-filled pastry glazed with pastel colours.

When food is done well on the big screen, you can almost hear the audiences dreaming about what to eat or even cook once the credits roll. Hopefully, some day taste-o-vision will become a reality and we’d be able to taste all the food we can see on screen.

Chef movie review: Saif’s flimsy but occasionally sweet film takes the chefing out of Favreau’s Chef

It is hard to entirely dislike any film starring Saif Ali Khan. He has such a likeable personality and such natural ease before the camera, that he ends up adding charm to any project he is a part of, however flimsy or dismal it might be. Chef is not dismal, but it is flimsy.

Airlift director Raja Krishna Menon’s new film is an official remake of the Hollywood film Chef directed by and starring Jon Favreau, in which a once shining star on the American culinary scene has a meltdown when a critic skewers his restaurant. The video clip of his moment of weakness turns viral and ends up almost ruining him professionally. Instead of allowing that trough in his career to translate into a complete full stop, he uses the opportunity to find a new road and simultaneously bond with the son he had with his ex-wife.

In the Hindi Chef, Khan plays top chef Roshan Kalra who is plateauing and loses his job at a plush restaurant in New York when he hits a dissatisfied patron. At first feeling sorry for himself and angry at what he perceives as an injustice, he soon realises that he had indeed allowed his work to qualitatively decline. The customer, it dawns on him, was, in fact, right.

On the urging of his good friend and former colleague Vinnie, (the lovely Sobhita Dhulipala from Anurag Kashyap’s Raman Raghav 2.0 last year), he uses the hiatus to visit his son in Kochi, where the boy lives with his mother Radha Menon, a successful classical dancer who was once married to Roshan. Without going into the details of how it happens, it can be told that like in the original, the father and child end up on a road trip in a food truck Roshan has decided to run.

What Chef has going for it is that Saif is as seemingly effortless as always before the camera. So is Janakiraman who, as it happens, is a hottie. Seriously, she is exquisite. Janakiraman is a pan-India actress with a filmography dominated by Malayalam, Tamil and Telugu. She is not a known face in Bollywood though, which is truly Bollywood’s loss.

Both lead actors share good chemistry with debutant Svar Kamble who plays Roshan and Radha’s kid Armaan. And in a small role, Milind Soman reminds us that there are few creatures in this world sexier than a well-built man in a well-draped mundu.

The thing about Kerala is that it is so spectacular, that wherever you aim your camera you will automatically see beauty, and director of photography Priya Seth takes full advantage of the picturesque landscape at her disposal to lay out an array of stunning visuals for our consumption. That becomes particularly important because after a while, Chef transitions into a road film, taking us along from Kerala to Goa and finally Delhi. What Seth does not serve us though are food visuals, a fact that turns out to be this film’s death knell since it is – wait for it – a food movie.

So yeah, Chef is a slick production, with everything and everyone looking good from start to finish (I particularly enjoyed Anuradha Shetty’s designs of the interiors of Roshan, Radha and Soman’s character Biju’s homes – each one markedly, and interestingly, different) but when viewed as a whole, it is an extremely frustrating experience. The joy of watching any road movie is to see the changing geography and cultures of the places the protagonists pass through. We get a decent serving of the former and a teeny bit of the latter here. What is truly unforgivable though is Chef’s lack of fervour for food.

It is hard to believe that Menon is not well-acquainted with the genre. If he was not, all he needed to do for inspiration and education was to look within Kerala, where most of Chef is set, and from where, just this year,Angamaly Diaries dished out a plethora of thoroughly exhilarating food scenes on screen, set in the roadside eateries and kitchens of a small southern Indian town. Alternatively, he could have sought out reference material from the film industry in which he operates. Although Bollywood does not frequent food films, just recently in 2013 director Ritesh Batra brought home to us the enticing sights and sounds of cooking in The Lunchbox– oil bubbling in a pan, the whoosh when fresh onions meet the surface of that oil, the crackle of mustard, human hands affectionately putting it all together. Forget these two films — all he needed to do was watch the original Chef for guidance.

Favreau’s film was not earth-shatteringly brilliant, but it had clarity about what it wanted to do and no hesitation in doing it. It told a heartwarming story, and was almost meditative in the way it captured the lead character’s intense romance with cooking. To see him slice, chop and dice vegetables, select meats and veggies, fry, bake, boil and roast, and then plate up as a painter would work a canvas or a dancer would work a stage was enough to get any normal viewer’s mouth watering and heart racing. That is, after all, the primary mission of any such film.

Throughout the Hindi Chef, I wanted to shake my fist at the screen and scream at it in anger when large passages went by with no reference to food at all, interspersed with scenes where people were shown cooking, serving and eating in long and medium shots, with little to no focus on what lay on their plates, the processes that got it there or their pleasure while tasting the end product. It took almost 45 minutes for Chef to give us an entire scene devoted to the hero conceptualising and cooking a complete dish, with the camera closing in on his ingredients, his methods and his invention. I am not even a particularly obsessive foodie, but the moment that scene was over, I immediately felt the urge to rush back home to my kitchen and try out that thing Roshan christens a rotzza.

That is the effect that any good food film should have on its audience.

When Armaan tries chhole bhature for the first time and the camera gingerly watched him at arm’s length, I almost yelled, “Oh, for God’s sake, zoom in on that bloody bhatura, will you?” Somewhere, there is a mention of idiyappam, a.k.a. string hoppers, a steamed rice-noodle preparation with a coconut filling that is a popular part of Malayali cuisine but little known in the north – again, no close up. Was this the DoP’s failure, or did she take those shots and did the editor remove them, or was it the director’s call not to feature such shots at all? Whatever be the reason, Menon’s film takes the chefing out of Chef which is pretty much like taking the music out of a musical. What’s the point then? Huh?

Raghu Dixit has come up with some agreeable background music for Chef, but his songs are surprisingly bland, with the exception of an up-tempo number called Shugal laga le that revs up the mood as soon as it is played. Dixit himself makes an appearance to sing it, and his introduction is one of the film’s most awkwardly constructed scenes. The other comes in the interactions between Roshan and Biju. Both appear to be the most hurriedly written, poorly developed parts of the screenplay.

There is some sweetness to be experienced in the interactions between Roshan and Armaan and separately between Roshan and Radha, some insights that emerge from the story of Roshan’s early struggles and poignancy in his experiences in Amritsar, but it is just not enough. Besides, the lethargic pace of the narrative underlines the flimsiness of the screenplay by Ritesh Shah, Suresh Nair and Menon.

Ankur Tewari’s lyrics for Shugal laga le, “Ghoomey awaara se / Mere kadam jahaan / Bantaa gaya bas rastaa / Rahi miley jahaan bhi / Pagley manmauji jo / Badhta gaya bas kaarvaan” (Wherever I wandered, wherever my path took me, I made my own road / Wherever I encountered fellow travellers, crazy whimsical beings, the caravan got longer), capture the essence of what this film wanted to be and might have been if it had explored Roshan’s relationships – with the owner of Galli, with food, with Radha, with Armaan and with himself – in greater depth.

On the plus side, the blending of Hindi, Malayalam and English in Ritesh Shah’s dialogues is neatly done, though the writing team’s lack of research is shocking in a scene where a character informs Roshan that he knows Hindi, which he describes as “the national language”. Err, India does not have a “national language”, Team Chef. Have you not read the Constitution or the history of the country’s language movement? It is bad enough that Hindi propagandists work hard to spread this lie, but such ignorance from a screenwriting crew is grossly inexcusable.

This is not to say that Chef has nothing to offer. It is pleasant in parts, pretty almost throughout, and the cast is appealing. In the absence of heft and a commitment to its genre though, it remains an ineffectual film.

A close scrutiny of the credits reveals that there was actually a food stylist – Sandhya Kumar – on the rolls. What the heck? Why bring her on and then waste her work? It also turns out that the chefs at Galli Kitchen, Roshan’s New York eatery, were all drawn from JW Marriott, including some leading names from the world of gastronomy. Umm, why bother with such detailing in the casting if you ain’t gonna show them cook? Oh lord, I want to bang my head on my table in exasperation as I write this.

Saif Ali Khan, who I believe is one of Hindi cinema’s most underrated actors, needs to choose better.

It does not speak well of Menon’s latest screen offering, that I felt the need to compensate for the deep dissatisfaction I felt after watching it by coming home and watching an entire episode of Masterchef Australia. To see Gary rustle up a simple plate of roast chicken with pea custard and fondant potatoes was a yummilicous and sensual experience. That’s what Chef should have been but is not.