Thursday, January 5, 2012

Amitabh Bachchan at Anupam Kher’s book launch

Amitabh Bachchan at Anupam Kher’s book launch

Amitabh Bachchan read out excerpts from Anupam Kher’s book on the power of life and highlighted Anupam’s grandfather’s quote Bheega hua aadmi baarish se nahin darta (The rain makes no difference to one who’s soaked). Kirron Kher talked about how Anupam had always been around for her  before they became life partners. Anupam himself felt that failure had taught him more about life than even his successes had. David Dhawan was around to lend his support on the actor’s first foray into publishing.

Was Amitabh flattered when he heard a Sholay ringtone playing on a cellphone in the audience? We weren’t sure as he laughed and commented, “Now that’s so old!”

Big B, Priyanka, Bipasha in Dabboo Ratnani’s 2012 Calendar: sneak peek

Big B, Priyanka, Bipasha in Dabboo Ratnani’s 2012 Calendar: sneak peek

Watch the making of photographer Dabboo Ratnani’s 2012 Calendar

Dabboo Ratnani is one of the most sought after celebrity photographers in Bollywood, and his yearly calendar is the most awaited. He has clicked rare pictures of all the top stars of B-town year after year. Right from Amitabh Bachchan,  Aamir Khan, Shahrukh Khan, Salman Khan, Abhishek Bachchan, Aishwarya Rai, Katrina Kaif, Kareena Kapoor, Bipasha Basu, Priyanka Chopra, Deepika Padukone, Hrithik Roshan, Arjun Rampal to Sushmita Sen, Sanjay Dutt, Vidya Balan, Akshay Kumar, Sonam Kapoor, Ranbir Kapoor, Farhan Akhtar, Saif Ali Khan, Shahid Kapoor, Kangna Ranaut, Kajol, Asin, Genelia and…the list is endless! BollywoodLife presents to you the making of Dabboo’s 2012 Calendar, with Amitabh Bachchan, Priyanka Chopra and Bipasha Basu.

Wonder where that fresh breath of abbreviation arose from – SHMG

Jalsa ,  Mumbai            Jan 4/5,  2012              Wed/Thu  12 : 33 AM

 Wander not in correctness, it may be false. Wander not in falsehood it may be correct. Wander in, wander out, in falsehood and correctness and ye shall behold a world more suited to the prevalent, than that which we believe to be prevailing.
Push the doors open of that which needs to be recognized irrespective of your own sensibilities, and ye shall find they open to the vastness and beauty of mediocrity. It will and shall always be so, for, those that recognize the delicate and fine, may forever be in a minority. The rule of the majority shall be recognized ever, unless and until they are subjugated by power – the ultimate conqueror !!
Our span of attention has undergone such a vast invasion of technology, that we are now dependent almost instantly on that which comes to us without effort. Solution to the most intricate of queries are resolved by the bank of stored information on super computers, generously connected to the oddest of names in modern times – Google !! Its brand presence has converted itself, through time, from a pronoun to a verb. And at times from a proper noun to one that is more ‘verb’al ! The process of thought, of discussion, of considered opinion has given way to stoppage of all else, because when Googled, there was an answer which cannot be now, beyond any further argument or reason. Add a bit of religiosity to it in expression and one can be seen debating conversation which propounds that Google is the Bible of all information. Indeed, all else as well !
The business of out sourcing, started quite innocently as a deep management exercise essential, has transferred itself to the screen I look upon now as my communicator, guide and most generous friend – one that I cannot now exist without. My hands quiver when I attempt, on that rarest of occasions, to sign a personal letter or my cheque. My spelling senses have been invaded by automated assistance. My reliance on the ‘other mode’ is complete, without any qualm. My own, has gradually given way to that which was invented perhaps to ease load. It has now, much like the carnivorous creeper that devours the very tree trunk it wraps itself around so delicately in the beginning, eaten into our psyche our systems or whatever else it may be called, that operates within us.
The brevity that now forms the messaging mania through our mobiles, may have been a great teacher on precis writing. Particularly so in matters where restrictions run into that magical 140 ! But our knowledge of ‘spelling’, such an important element in the learning of any language, has been overtaken by a lingo which only the very ‘bright’ in their sense can decipher. And I have not even touched upon the whole abbreviated world, yet. Because IMO, I shall be ROTFL or more likely ROTFLMAO were I to be put in such situation ! SHMG ..!!
Wonder where that fresh breath of abbreviation arose from – SHMG ?? Go figure !!
Significantly then and in consonance with prevailing methodology, we are bonded in a way to modernity, in a manner that shall lead us to robotic proportions within the next couple of years. Our manufacturing has already been programmed ! Today they say they have invented through great science, the human sperm. No need for any ‘contributions’ through sexual process. We’ll do it for you ! Infertile ? Not an issue. Got this tube full of ‘reproduction’ which shall be capable of manufacturing what you may desire – a pig, a worm, another human !! DNA shall take care of the desired color of eyes. Err .. could we have a blue and a green on either side and oh ! yes, no illnesses please,  a cross in the box which states cancer, aids and the like .. thank you. We’ll be waiting outside at the delivery counter to pick up our ‘manufactured’ parcel of joy !! Thank you for coming by !!! Next !!

Next …
Next would be sound sleep as rapidly as possible … there is travel tomorrow early to Delhi to the AutoExpo to unveil the first sports model car designed and manufactured in India, by that most talented and creative DC – Dilip Chabbria – innovator, inventor and reputed designer of ome of the most important luxury cars in the world .. yes .. quite unbelievable but true. Contractual obligations prevent him from naming names. But may I say that having had access to some of his work and mind, what I disclose here is not .. not manufactured !!
Love and good night … not necessarily in that order !!
Amitabh Bachchan 

Mehboob Khan took Dilip Kumar and his film ‘Aan’ to Hollywood

Jalsa , Mumbai         Jan 3,  2012           Tue  11 : 30 PM
 I was asked by Namrata Joshi of the Outlook magazine if I could pen some thoughts on the rising importance and visibility of Indian Films, not just within but outside of our country too. The original was pruned by the editorial machinery of the magazine, as is mostly the case, but here below is the way I wrote it. yes the pruned version was obviously better edited and reads well, but this was me _

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On a lazy summer afternoon as I walked past the Montmartre towards the majestic Basilica of the Sacred hearts, commonly known as the Sacre-Coeur, situated on a hill, the highest point in the heavenly city of Paris, France, I suddenly heard the strains of a Hindi film song emanating from a human voice. I wondered first if this was some delusion that I was undergoing, for I was on a sabbatical after several years of continuous work, and such environs are most conducive to the cause, but I was wrong. It was indeed someone not too distant from where I was standing, not of my color, creed or nationality, with an expectant smile on his face, willing, I was certain, for some recognizable response. 
After a few moments of staring at one another, we both moved across to each other, in a most film like manner, and with just a hint of appropriate embarrassment I asked him the obvious. 
He was not French, only spoke it and spoke no English. He was a shade more colored than I was and through some rather odd and unique gesticulations finally was able to convey to me that he was from North Africa and loved Indian movies. The song was from Sholay and even with his North-African-French-Hindiised accent it was unmistakably the famous, “ yeh dosti, hum nahin todenge “!
It was the early 90’s and almost 20 years have gone by since that incident. I must admit I was not too surprised by it. For long years had we been hearing of ‘ Awaara ‘ and the Raj Kapoor mania in the Soviet Union and the adoration with great flamboyance of Shammi Kapoor in Beirut.

But these were destinations that were closer home – North and Mid Eastern geographically. Further West, apart from the dedicated and starved for Hindi film entertainment NRI, there was little knowledge or acknowledgement of our cinema.
In 1982-83 I went on a World Concert Tour to Europe, UK and the USA with Kalyanji – Anandji for a first time venture and played to packed audiences in some of the most prestigious venues, procured, after some very obstinate denials, where previously the likes of Sinatra and Elvis had performed. The audiences were Indian of Indian origin and from neighbouring lands, but not a single local among them. No one in the West knew of us. In fact soon after my marriage in 1973, Jaya and I were asked to do a friendly appearance at a concert in London being conducted by a popular group from Mumbai. There were just 5 people in the auditorium – 2 were Jaya’s relatives and the balance, ushers !
That was then. Now within the last 15 years or so, the scenario has drastically changed. The overseas market has become one that is recognized as being one of the more lucrative. Our films are released in regular prominent distribution centres the world over, and our top stars are household names with massive fan followings. 
Mehboob Khan took Dilip Kumar and his film ‘Aan’ to Hollywood in those early years to seek Western recognition, but came back after facing embarrassing comments from the biggest of director producers. The ugliest being –“ Mr Khan, your film just goes ‘on and on and on’”, a sarcastic pun on the title of his film !
Mr Lulla and his huge entertainment empire which goes by the name of Eros International, apparently started his early years in the distribution of our films overseas from Israel, where he and his brother would hand paint titles of Hindi films and stick them up at modest enclosures, to screen our films.
In many of my interactions with the foreign media during those times, there was a chuckled cynicism and acerbic criticism of the kind of escapist fare that our films indulged in and ‘running around trees singing songs’ became a synonym for all Indian Cinema, barring of course the ones from Satyajit Ray.
How and what brought on this present change, a change where dedicated western audiences appreciate and follow our films, needs a much larger platform to debate and discuss, but to me, as an interested observer, the reason has been one that really in the true sense, has got nothing to do with creativity or the quality of our cinema.
I may be completely misguided and incorrect in thinking so, but in my opinion every time a country has been economically attractive to the West, everything about it becomes attractive. The banishing of the ‘control raj’, the opening up and the liberalization of the economy in India has provided great investment opportunity to the developed world, the first world. The commercial prospects and the value addition of consumerism has been one that the West has not been able to ignore. Once criticized for the expanse and growth of our population, the foreigner now looks upon it as the growth of the consumer and better sales. When a country improves its economic profile, when it begins to invite outside interest, every element of the country suddenly becomes valuable and popular. So, with liberalization came a deep interest in our politics, our food, our clothing, our music and … our films !
Time played an important role as well. The first generation NRI was now into his or her third generation local, who grew up in the social norms of his country by birth, developed friendships with them, and introduced them to the culture of their roots, i.e films. I seek pardon from the purists of the land when I maintain that, but films today have become our parallel culture and I am not so sure whether this has been good or bad for a country with a cultural history of over 5000 years !
Suddenly all our ‘singing and dancing around trees’ has developed cult following. The structure and expanse of our films, its exuberance and excitement in its stories and particularly in its propagation of poetic justice in 3 hours, has caught the fancy of not just the West but in every part of the world.
Rajnikant’s films do a better business than first day releases of a Japanese  film in Tokyo. In Pusan, South Korea, ‘Black’ has been one of the largest grosser’s, larger than in some of the national regions too. Spielberg seeks investment in DreamWorks from an Ambani Reliance Entertainment. Our stars get looked upon as prospective casts in Hollywood productions and we see a generous star cast of the Hollywood brigade visiting us and even though it is polite, making statements of wanting to work in our productions. On a flight in to Cairo from Europe in 1990 as an invitee for their film festival, I came across an Arabic newspaper on board that was announcing my arrival and that my film ‘Mard’ was the most popular – it had been running for a year ! On landing, the reception was so overwhelming that for the first time in my life, my Immigration was conducted in my Hotel room – the mobs making it impossible for the customs staff to function. For a country that does not permit foreign films to run for more than a week or two, it was a wonder how this film of mine was in its 52nd. They told me the truth later. Every two weeks they would change the poster outside to show that a different film was on, when inside they were projecting ManMohan Desai’s classic. They were loving it for the anti-British element in the story !
Soon after, on the turn of the year I took a concert to South Africa, with a special request from the ANC, when it was just about to get liberated from its apartheid past. A 60,000 football stadium filled to capacity awaited the start of the show, 6 hours before the official timing. For once the much maligned Indian Standard Time received thunderous applause, for starting the performance before the official time ! The ushers, white South Africans at the stadium, when asked for their reaction to the multitudes that thronged the venue stated – ‘the only time we saw something like this was when Nelson Mandela was released’!!
The stories are endless, not just for me personally, but I am certain for every Indian film star in our firmament, that has travelled abroad. The NRI population has grown and befriended the local and exposed them to our cinema – a cinema which has been different. They are attracted to the emotions, an entity which the West is often shy to depict or fall prey to. A community that once derided our cinema, now decorates Selfridges, the leading general store in London, with Indian Cinema as its theme for an entire month, when it wanted to honour our creativity and presence. Indian fusion music has mingled with the western style and has become a huge market. Indian restaurants are all over, our designs in clothing material abound in the most distinguished fashion parades. DC, our local entrepreneur in car design is sought to design the latest Jaguar sports model and shall very soon be involved in designing an Indian sports car indigenously. Talks are on for the taking over of one of the most historic film studios in Hollywood by an Indian businessman.
What else would one expect when every 6th , or every 6th and a half individual now, according to the latest census, is an Indian !!
The flavour has changed, not the cinema. We have continued to make the same escapist commercial fare and happy that we did not succumb to the many incessant demands of the West to alter our course.
The clientele for our films is not just restricted to Hindi cinema. Regional cinema – Telugu, Tamil, Marathi, Malayalam, Gujarati, Punjabi, Bengali, Kannada, Bhojpuri, Assamese and many others have all received recognition among the regional viewers outside our shores as well. Recent Telugu films have had extraordinary collections of late.
And all this because we were and are different. And yes, we are now economically liberated and of value.
Amitabh Bachchan

It may be worth the while to perhaps end here tonight .. with love and more …
Amitabh Bachchan

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