Saturday, May 12, 2018

Raazi (Movie Review)

Raazi: Patriotism sans Jingoism!
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Reviewer’s Thumb Mark

Meghna Gulzar and Bhavani Iyer crafted this film ‘Raazi’ so deftly that its commendable and worth mentioning that the film stands apart from all those commercial Bollywood spy thrillers that had been made with a lot of noise, venom and jingoism. Raazi is least interested to portray any country as an enemy, rather it is all about the importance of safeguarding one’s own country’s security in situations of crisis and war. Raazi, rightly depicts at the end in its credit lines that it is dedicated to all those unsung heroes who are unknown in the history written.

 The film is based on the book ‘Calling Sehmat” written by Harinder Sikka. His debut novel is about an Indian Kashmiri Muslim undercover agent operating in Pakistan during the 1971 Indo-Pak War. To keep the main character in anonymity he named her Sehmat Khan in his novel. She married a Pakistani Army officer to provide India with classified information during the 1971 war.
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Sometimes what we have planned for ourselves may not be what we are destined to do. Every person has a purpose to fulfil and when one chooses and realizes the purpose of his/ her own will, then the consequences are also owned by the person for a greater cause. Sehmat Khan, played by Alia Bhatt, may not have ever dreamt in her wildest dream that she will end up as a spy, wife, and daughter-in-law in one of the most influential family who holds key positions in Pakistan’s Military. Called back from her college in Delhi suddenly by her father Hidayat, a businessman with strong connections with the who’s who in Pakistan, she is told that he has a tumour in his lungs and his days are numbered. Saddened by her father’s illness she gets another jolt from him when he says that he is a spy for the Indian intelligence bureau and he is worried about the current state of affairs of his country’s security. Hidayat is a double agent and has gained the confidence of the elite in Pakistan. Hidayat wants his only daughter to take up his role as he did what his father asked him to do. Inspired and proud of her father and grandfather for serving the country’s interest always, she agrees (Raazi) to take up the challenge of becoming a spy and cross the border legally as the wife of Iqbal Syed (Vicky Kaushal) a military officer in Pakistan.
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Alia Bhatt as Sehmat Khan needs to be applauded for her constant attempt to try different and challenging roles, be it in Highway, Udta Punjab, and now Raazi. From the sassy stylish teenager, Shahnaya Singhania in ‘Student of the Year’ to Sehmat Khan in ‘Raazi’ she has stated boldly that she is a promising actor and has much in store for the audience.  She very well portrays the challenge of being a daughter in law fitting into the daily domestic chores as well as handling the challenges of transferring the classified information to her handlers in India living amidst a family of high army officials. She believes that "No one comes before the country. Not even yourself”.

Vicky Kaushal as Iqbal Syed is fantastic as a self-restrained, understanding husband yet a staunch Pakistani Military officer. His Deepak in Massan and Iqbal Syed in Raazi shows his mettle as an actor. Unfortunately, his Zubaan and Raman Raghav didn’t fetch him the required attention of the audience but Vicky seems to have a host of films coming up for him that can reiterate that he is indeed a  powerful performer.
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Rajit Kapur, Soni Razdan, Shishir Sharma, Asif Zakaria, Ashwath Bhatt are well etched in their roles and leave a lingering impact on the viewers. It is a treat to see both Soni Razdaan and Alia Bhatt together as mother-daughter on reel too. Jaideep Ahlawat is the talk of the town for his role of Khalid Mir, the intelligence trainer for Sehmat Khan. He caught the audience attention for his role in Gangs of Wasseypur and he got noted as Nawab in Raes.

Raazi, as a film is watchable though there are some instances where one feels that the life of a spy has been portrayed too smoothly to execute her plans in a high profile military officer’s family as a wife and daughter-in-law.  Meghana Gulzar’s attempt to portray the human side on either side of the border is commendable. What makes Raazi a delight to watch is the temporary relief it delivers you to escape from the jingoism flooding on social media these days. So go for it.

Life Connoisseur Movie Rating: 3.25/5

Cast: Alia Bhat (Sehmat Khan), Vicky Kaushal (Iqbal Syed), Rajit Kapur (Hidayat Khan), Soni Razdan (Teji Khan), Shishir Sharma (Brigadier Syed), Jaideep Ahlawat (Khalid Mir), Ashwath Bhatt (Mehboob Syed), Amruta Khanvilkar (Munira),Sanjay Suri (Guest appearance), Kanwaljit Singh (Guest Appearance)

Genre: Spy Thriller

Director: Meghna Gulzar

Producers: Vineet Jain, Karan Johar, Hiroo Yash Johar, Apoorva Mehta

Based on the novel: ‘Calling Sehmat’ by Harinder Sikka

Screenplay: Bhavani Iyer, Meghna Gulzar

Music by: Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy

Cinematography: Jay I Patel

Edited by: Nitin Baid

Production Company: Junglee Pictures, Dharma Productions

Distributor: AA Films

Release Date: 11 May 2018

Duration: 140 Minutes

Language: Hindi

Friday, April 13, 2018

October (Movie Review)

October Takes You Through Seasons of Life!
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Reviewer’s Thumb Mark

As there are different seasons of nature, so are there different seasons of life and love. The film October attempts to take you through these seasons leaving you disturbed and moist-eyed on many occasions. Shoojit Sircar’s film ‘October’ tries to tell an unconventional love story. He dares to take the risk of telling a story which plays with your innate feelings towards unexpected tragedies in life without much melodrama and heroism.

The first half of the film is lighthearted and feverishly slow and the second half all of a sudden keeps you watch the vitals’ status updates on the hospital room’s monitor. The characters played by Banita Sandhu and Varun Dhawan as Shiuli Iyer and Danish Walia aka Dan respectively don’t hold you or move you. You watch them as a third person and feel bad and when you are out of the cinema hall, you leave their story behind like any other sad incident. The pre-interval part of the film keeps you puzzled in figuring out what the filmmaker wants to convey and the post-interval part keeps you feel bad for what has happened.
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It is not the story but the situation and the uncertainties of life that make you relate to what Shoojit is trying to tell you. The rest of the characters are just caricatures to make the unpleasant happening in the protagonist’s life look realistic. Dan, a hotel management trainee is employed with a five-star hotel in Delhi and he is undergoing the in-house job training with a bunch of other young boys and girls. It’s quite evident from the very first shot that Dan is different from the rest of his batch members. He is talkative, opinionated, and impulsive, uses his brain more than anyone else and therefore, finds himself in trouble often with his seniors and manager.  On the contrary, Shiuli Iyer is more adaptive, ready to learn and calm.

A freak accident on the eve of New Year turns the life of Shiuli and the people in her life upside down. And what Shiuli said before she slipped into a comatose draws him closer to her. What follows is the unfolding of a subtle and a melancholic feeling of love between them that keeps you feeling good as well as uncertain of its outcome. Geetanjali Rao as the grief-stricken mother plays her part convincingly and makes her presence felt but the siblings of Shiuli are less convincing. Shiuli’s sister keeps calling her ‘Akka’ and her brother barely emotes and utter anything.
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Juhi Chaturvedi and Shoojit Sircar’s collaboration this time emits a soothing fragrance of love through ‘Shiuli’ the night Jasmine which is used symbolically to convey the blossoming and withering away of life. October reminds us gently that ‘Impermanence’ is the basic nature of life. What you have will leave you one day but remember what leaves you physically doesn’t actually leave you because it stays within you; you just need to close your eyes and see it, feel it and smell the ‘Shiuli’ within you.

Go and watch ‘October’ because we need to appreciate such attempts that infuses a kind of freshness in storytelling and its depiction.

Life Connoisseur Movie Rating: 3/5

Cast: Varun Dhawan (Danish Walia), Banita Sandhu (Shiuli Iyer), Getanjali Rao (Prof. Vidhya Iyer)

Genre: Drama/Romance

Director: Shoojit Sircar

Producers: Ronnie Lahiri, Sheel Kumar

Written by: Juhi Chaturvedi

Dialogues/Screenplay/Story: Juhi Chaturvedi

Music by: Shantanu Moitra

Cinematography: Avik Mukhopadhayay

Edited by: Chandrasheker Prajapati

Production Company: Rising Sun Films

Distributors: Rising Sun Films, Kino Works

Release Date: 13 April 2018

Duration: 115 Minutes

Language: Hindi

Monday, February 12, 2018

PadMan (Movie Review)

Madman to PadMan
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Reviewer’s Thumb Mark

“We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope” – Martin Luther King Jr.

R Balki’s film PadMan is about Arunachalam Muraganantham, a man from Coimbatore who out of sheer love for his wife and to deal with her period problems, used his creative bend of mind to produce affordable sanitary pads. This initiative of his, made him a social crusader for menstrual hygiene and a reason for many to be part of community businesses which produce pads by his patented machines. Muraganantham’s path breaking initiative in making affordable sanitary napkins for a larger section in the society who are poor resonates the old adage – ‘Necessity is the mother of invention”.

Films like PadMan, which creates social awareness plays a pivotal role in influencing the minds of people on taboo topics positively to bring in the necessary change in life and their life styles. Such creative ventures are hard to ignore and even challenging to doubt its intentions.
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Lakshmikant Chauhan (Akshay Kumar), the film’s main protagonist is a mechanic by profession who got recently married and brings his wife Gayatri (Radhika Apte) home, where his family comprises of his aging mother and two young sisters who are still in school. Lakshmikant, fondly called as Lakshmi, is disturbed to find his newly wed wife leave the family dinner half done in a jiffy because she sensed that her menstrual cycle has begun for the month. He was more horrified to find a repeatedly used, washed and not so clean stained cloth being dried discretely on a cloth line under her sari. What disturbs him further is that his wife Gayatri segregates herself for the next five days from him and the rest of the family.
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What follows is a curious and emotionally disturbed Lakshmi venturing into activities that shall help him address the menstrual related problems of his wife. His efforts in this regard leads him to come up with different kind of hand-made pads after his visits to medical store to buy expensive pads that cost a bomb for a person like him. His repeated failures make him visit a clinic which leads to some instant gyan on menstrual hygiene and its health hazards if not followed along with a wholly of data to vouch what the doctor lectured to him.
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 Radhika Apte as Lakshmi’s wife and Sonam Kapoor as Pari Walia who plays the role of a benefactor to the not so educated Lakshmi make their presence felt in the film. Rakesh Chaturvedi in his short role as a professor makes a commendable impact; it would have been great to see him perform if he could have got some more screen space.
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R Balki’s film PadMan does a ‘Toilet Ek Prem Katha’ again for Akshay Kumar who by now has mastered to sustain his nationalist hero image by copying and not acknowledging creative projects and films done on the same theme and topic in the past by other fellow industry people who unfortunately didn’t have big names to back them like Balki or Viacom. Akshay Kumar then, during his Toilet Ek Prem Katha outing claimed that his was the first one to talk about sanitation in India whereas the topic was dealt by a documentary filmmaker first and later by a filmmaker Pratik Sharma and Producer-Actor Asmita Sharma who made the first feature film in Bollywood titled as “Gutrun Gutargun’ on the same topic.
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And now once again, as being claimed, PadMan is not the first film made on the subject in the country. Before R Balki and Mrs Funnybones, three films have been already made on the same taboo subject – 1. Menstrual Man in 2013 a one-hour long documentary directed by Amit Virmani; 2. Phullu a feature film made in 2017 directed by Abhishek Saxena starring Sharib Hashmi; and 3. I-Pad an unreleased feature film actually the first made on the importance of sanitary pads written and directed by Amit Rai. Abhishek Saxena in one of his recent press statement cried foul against the CBFC because his film Phullu which dealt with the same topic of menstrual hygiene like PadMan was issued an ‘A’ certificate and PadMan a U/A certificate.
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A film like PadMan that claims to be a biopic on Arunachalam Muruganantham we find more of Akshay Kumar the hero and less of what Arunchalam Muruganantham was and is in real life. Murugunantham’s humility, mission and struggle to become what he is for the society today is missing in real sense and is superimposed with scenes and dialogues which appears to be too superficial and made up to suit the hero in Akshay Kumar. The film before interval is more situational and therefore one can relate with what is happening but unfortunately the film post interval turns out to be more heroic. The way PadMan procures raw materials from abroad by just a phone call is too childish and the long UN speech doesn’t appear real at all. PadMan from the start to the end is prescriptive and therefore loses its charm of a biopic.

In short, PadMan is a onetime watch. Go and watch Balki’s PadMan if you haven’t seen the other movies made on the same topic before; if you are not keen to know how different and real is Arunachalam Murugunantham than it is shown in this film; and if you give a damn to the growing trend in the industry of claiming to be the first/pioneers and not having the courtesy to acknowledge fellow filmmakers and artist if they have made something similar in terms of theme and concept.

Life Connoisseur Movie Rating: 3.25/5

Cast: Akshay Kumar (Lakshmikant Chauhan), Radhika Apte (Gayatri), Sonam Kapoor (Pari Walia), Rakesh Chaturvedi (Professor), Amitabh Bachchan (Cameo)

Genre: Biopic Drama

Directed: R Balki

Producers: Twinkle Khanna, SPE films India, KriArj Entertainment, Cape of Good Films, Hope Productions

Written by: R Balki, Swanand Kirkire (Co-writer)

Based on: The legend of Lakshmi Prasad by Twinkle Khanna

Narrated by: Amitabh Bachchan

Music by: Amit Trivedi

Cinematography: PC Sreeram

Edited by: Chandan Arora

Production Company: Columbia Pictures, Hope Productions, KriArj Entertainment, Mrs. Funnybones Movies

Distributor: Sony Pictures

Release Date: 9th February 2018

Duration: 140 Minutes

Language: Hindi

Monday, January 29, 2018

Padmaavat (Movie Review)

Padmaavat: Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Epic Blunder!
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Reviewer’s Thumb Mark

Padmaavat, the much awaited and the much controversial film after its long battle in the court, with the Censor board and also on the streets, finally hit the cinema theatres on 25th January 2018. The Padman (Akshay Kumar) was wise enough to use his safety pads and escape the possible collateral damage due to the ire of the so-called fundamentalist forces in our country by not sharing a common date of release of his film along with Padmaavat. Sanjay Leela Bhansali publicly thanked Akshay Kumar for his generosity and camaraderie.

The social media is rife with comments, reviews, views ‘For’ and ‘Against’ Sanjay Leela Bhansali and his film ‘Padmaavat’. Swara Bhaskar’s open letter to SLB expressing her predicament after watching Padmaavat is debated whether she is right or wrong and to what extent she is biased and unbiased. Moreover, she is also receiving open letters in reply and I guess this will continue for some more time.

Like any other movies Sanjay Leela Bhansali has made, Padmaavat too fits into his set template very conveniently with larger than life sets, magnificent visuals and able actors who leave their impact on screen. Therefore, the film is undoubtedly a visual treat and has ample entertainment for the audience for the audience if they are not bothered about history and politics.The film portrays Alauddin Khilji, the ambitious and overzealous nephew of Jalaluddin Khilji, who kills his uncle Jalaluddin Khilji to wrest the power of Delhi Sultanate. The film also depicts the beautiful princess of a faraway Kingdom Singhal who falls for a Rajput King Maharawal Ratan Singh aka Rawal Ratan Sen of Chittor who happens to visit her kingdom in search of their unique pearls to gift his wife because he broke her much-treasured pearl necklace. Along with the pearls, he brings with him to Chittor his newlywed second wife Padmaavati, much to his first wife’s surprise and displeasure. Not focusing much on the marital discord SLB shifts his camera on the Raj Guru of Maharawal Ratan Singh because there lay the source of his trouble.
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The ousted and exiled Raj Guru brews vengeance, meets the new sultan of Delhi and spews venom in him by saying that without Rani Pamaavati he is still nothing and his growth and fame lies in Rani Padmaavati’s companionship. What follows is a series of encounters between Maharawal Ratan Singh and the Sultan. In the end, the Rajput King and his Rani fail to resist the mighty force of Alauddin Khilji. In the last scene, you find the screen ablaze and hundreds of women - young, old, pregnant and even a little girl take part in the traditional Jauhar (Mass Suicide jumping into burning pyres) to save their honour.

What needs to be noted about Padmaavat is that if you forget history and is least bothered about the truth, then the film appears to be good. It becomes a story about an ethical Rajput king and a barbarian invader who set his eyes on the Rajput king’s wife and unleashed terror to get his prized catch. But, that’s not the truth. As always, the ruling class has tried to distort and misinterpret history for vested interests and for that they have used scholars, historians and people from art and cultural field as a propagandist to push their agenda.

Sanjay Leela Bhansali has flawed terribly in terms of understanding and depicting the Khilji dynasty ruler who otherwise is referred as an able King who with his formidable military generalship and able statesmanship, turned the small kingdom of Delhi into a vast empire in the 14th century. He was considered as a unifying force at a time when the territories were vast and fractured. Sanjay Leela Bhansali also errs disastrously in portraying Malik Kafur as an object of lust and a eunuch who only massaged Khilji’s feet and danced. Whereas, Malik Kafur rose to the highest rank as an Army General and led a series of expeditions across India. Amir Khhusro, the iconic cultural figure in the cultural history of Indian sub-continent is depicted as a sidekick. He was a revered Sufi musician, poet and a scholar.
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The review of the film Padmaavat has become less of a review and more of a debate and discussion about where our creative people are heading to? Are they slowly succumbing to the political agenda of some outfits/parties/fringe groups/fundamentalist forces in our country? Are they trying to play safe and trying to be in the good books of people in power? What makes a filmmaker of SLB’s stature not do his homework before embarking on making a film on historical figures who have played important roles in carving a unified India, developing culture and political systems? We need to find answers to such pertinent questions so that creativity and talents are not sold for thirty silver coins.

Ranveer Singh as Alauddin Khilji is basking under the sun of success. But he is too loud and should have at least studied about the historical character he is playing. Had he done that, he would have been a bit more realistic as Alauddin Khilji. Shahid Kapoor is more composed and looks fully decked up as a Rajput king and less prepared for a battle. Deepika Padukone is gracious but simply got in a domestic with her husband the moment she leaves the Singhal Kingdom for no reasons. She even needs a permission to commit Jauhar. I think as an actor she could have at least questioned Bansali’s creative excesses in this regard. Aditi Rao Hydari is left with nothing much to do but is beautiful on screen as Alaudin’s begum who understands Padmaavati’s plight. Raza Murad as Jalaluddin Khilji looks like a huge piece of meat hung in a butcher’s shop that has a baritone voice and he painfully drags himself on the floor when he walks. Jim Sarbh as Malik Kafur could have done better if he had been asked to play the role as an Army General too under Alauddin Khilji, unfortunately, Bansali’s history book doesn’t have that chapter.
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In short, go and watch Padmavat if you give a damn about history. Enjoy and get entertained and forget all the social media crap being circulated. Or, if you really value history and is critical towards people who have a specific agenda to distort history to break the sanctity of our social equilibrium, then question the filmmakers, the people, and parties behind such propaganda.

.Life Connoisseur Movie Rating: 2.5/5

Cast: Deepika Padukone (Rani Padmaavati), Shahid Kapoor (Maharawal Ratan Singh), Ranveer Singh (Alauddin Khilji), Raza Mura (Jalaluddin Khilji), Aditi Rao Hydari (Mehrunissa), Jim Sarbh (Malik Kafur), Anupriya Goenka

Genre: Drama/Action

Director: Sanjay Leela Bhansali

Producers: Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Sudhanshu Vats, Ajit Andhare

Based on: Padmaavat (Epic Poem) by Malik Muhammed Jayasi

Written by: Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Prakash Kapadia

Music by: Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Sanchit Balhara (Score)

Edited by: Jayant Jadhar, Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Akiv Ali

Cinematography: Sudeep Chatterjee

Production Company:  Bhansali Productions, Viacom 18 Motion Pictures

Distributed by: Viacom 18 Motion Pictures (India), Paramount Pictures (International)

Release Date: 25 January, 2018

Language: Hindi

Duration: 163 Minutes

Sunday, November 26, 2017

A Rendezvous With Filmmaker Dedipya Joshii

Dedipya Joshii: “Filmmaking is like Lovemaking For Me”!
Filmmaker Dedipya Joshi
(An Interview with the Filmmaker of the Much Acclaimed Film ‘Saankal’)

Q&A: Mr Joshii I am sure you are much excited about your first feature film Saankal’s release on 28th November 2017. Before we talk about your movie, please let us know how films influenced you as a child?

I belong to a family which is traditionally inclined towards literature. I grew up listening to poetries and discussions and expressions around it. I would like to say for the first time… mm... I have never said this in public… but would like to say that for me poetry is like masturbation and filmmaking is lovemaking. I wanted to have the bliss of lovemaking and took to filmmaking because it gave me a bigger canvas and a wide reach than poetry writing. You might agree with me that commercial films had always been impactful and during my formative years Shri Amitabh Bachchan had already become a superstar and his aura had a tremendous impact on the kids at that time. Anurag Kashyap and many others were drawn to films due to his stardom and I am one among them.

I still remember when I was around 12 to 13 year old, kids of my age use to watch films of Amitabh Bachchan, Vinod Khanna and Dharmendra and use to believe that the films were made by these actors. But even at that age, I had developed a kind of understanding that the films were not made by them but by a person who is known as a director. Since then I was always keen to become the man behind films i.e. the Director.
Courtesy Facebook Saankal
Q&A: Let us talk about how you took interest in filmmaking?

I did my studies in Jaipur and during my first year of my graduation my parents moved to Mumbai which I knew was the cultural hub and many had moved ahead in their life landing there. As I was pursuing my studies I stayed back in Jaipur but often used to frequent Mumbai to be with my parents. During my visits, I also got in touch with many people in the industry and fortunately got to work as an apprentice in a film which was shot in Jaipur in which Pran Sahab was the actor in it. That experience of mine on the sets changed the way I watched movies. After that whenever I used to see a film I used to think about how a particular scene would have been shot. I imagined the sets and the lights, camera angle etc. to be honest, I lost the joy of watching films and was actually sad because of this as I was unable to watch films like any other viewer who reached the theatre. So first of all, I worked upon this particular habit of mine and I once again started watching and enjoying films as a viewer. Since then, I ensure that I watch a film like an audience and not as a filmmaker. There are many who accompany me who while watching movie observes very minutely and picks up the shortcomings in it, but I never go into it. I find myself more focused on the content of the film. I watch both parallel and commercial film with equal interest and also do go through varied emotions while I watch these movies.

I feel I am more comfortable making realistic films than a commercial film because I find commercial films are larger than life. I as a person doesn’t know to hide my emotions and whatever emotions I go through is easily evident on my face (Laughs).

Q&A: Share us about your initial years in this industry. We also know that you had made some interesting serials as well?

Let me share with you something Thomas, when I came into the industry at that time Assistant Directors were not paid properly, rather they were not paid at all. People at my level were asked to sign a contract for eight to nine months for an X amount and at the end, we were not paid. This is something around 1995 and now it’s almost more than 20 years. During that phase of my life, ZEE TV and Sony were launched. So those who wanted to survive in this field they joined TV. There were many directors who were talented but were having a tough time here tried their hand on TV. For many TV and these channels were a golden opportunity. I joined Ajay Kartik, he is an NSD pass out. He made some very good serials. People switched from Doordarshan to these channels and during this period ZEE and Sony came out with good serials. I worked for two and half years and at that time a serial used to have around 52 episodes and each one used to come once in a week. But then the concept of daily soaps came in and then onwards serial making became more commercialized and TRP driven. I did ‘Faasle’ (a family drama), ‘Biji Ke Peeji’ (it was a comedy serial), ‘Tejaswani’ and some more with Ajayji as an assistant to him. After doing these work, I started feeling that I should do something of my own. Though I worked as assistant director for movies like Pyaar Pyaar, Attal Irada, Hinsa in which Jeetendra and Raj Babbar were the star cast, I still felt I didn’t know much about making films because there was a gap of many years. As my first initiative, I made a comedy serial titled as ‘Chakkar Hi Chakkar’ and the project got the approval of DD. Then I made a serial ‘Yeh Rishta Na Tutte’ for ZEE’s Urdu channel. Yeh Rishta Na Tutte was a family drama comprising of two families – One Muslim and the other Hindu family. This serial was a hit and particularly this serial had a large audience in Pakistan. We used to get a lot of appreciation letters from the viewers in Pakistan. And after that, we made a serial ‘Yeh Preet Na Jaane Reet’ for ETV. This was about relationships in a family in Rajasthan.

Q&A: So why did you stop making serials after ‘Yeh Preet Na Jaane Reet ?

 Actually, after that serial, I kept myself aloof from all these things for almost one and half years. And during this period I didn’t do anything. My family was also a bit concerned and worried about me at this period because they felt that I must do something and establish myself. I actually wanted to do films and I was looking for opportunities. I didn’t get opportunities to work in commercial films because it was too difficult to get in as there were directors and producers who had their own lobby and groups. And there was no point in working with small time producers and directors because they too were strugglers. In 2004, I came in touch with Raj Kumar Bann, an FTII pass out who went to France and settled there. He wanted to make a film in India. I came to know that people use to get grants for their first film in France. O at that time I used to spent my time with people in FTII then and got involved in this film which was ‘Darpan Ke Peeche’ (Behind the Mirror). This film got released in 2005. And during my association with him, I came to know about world cinema which was meaningful and relevant. I liked the environment and the association a lot. Films of Satyajit Ray had inspired me a lot. I felt that there is so much to explore and do. At that time commercial films were about fights, item songs etc and as far as parallel films we used to see slow movies and people were not able to savour them easily. I liked Darpan Ke Peeche's script because it had everything - depth, speed and a message. I felt I should do something like that. I was with Raj Kumar Bann for almost one and half years till 2005.  He was the director and I worked as the associate director. This film went to various film festivals including Cannes.

With Abeera (Tanima) and Kesar (Chetan) of Saankal
Q&A: What happened after ‘Darpan Ke Peeche’ in your life as a filmmaker?

After this lovely experience I was fully motivated to make a film called ‘Kanchli’ and therefore, I got the rights of one of the stories written by a very known writer of our country Shri. Vijaydan Dettha, also known as Bijji. He was a noted writer from Rajasthan. Shyam Benegal’s ‘Charan Das Chor’ and the film ‘Paheli’ which Shahrukh Khan did were based on Vijaydan Detha’s stories. So, in short, I met many actors for this film like Vidya Balan, Radhika Apte and many more. But unfortunately, that film didn’t happen because of funding issues. Meanwhile, as I didn’t want to do TV again and I wanted to do something, I got a chance to do Info Commercial Ad Films (Long Duration Ad Films). I did this for Telemart Company of Sudanshu Sharma.  He asked me to make an advertisement for him and since then from 2005 to 2017 I had made more than three hundred and fifty Ad films. Actually, the earnings from these projects ensured my bread and butter.  I saved some money, had some good friends who contributed, Telemart also offered some amount and a film lover I know in Rajasthan Mr Anand Rathore also invested a large amount and joined as a co-producer for the film Saankal I had made in 2015.  

Q&A: How did the idea of ‘Saankal’ germinate in your mind?

Saankal came to my mind in 2005 when I came upon an article in India Today magazine. As you know I am from Rajasthan and I find many social vices in the name of traditions in our state. To name a few - we used to have Sati, then there was another tradition where women were sold publically, and many more, where directly or indirectly women were subdued and exploited. So I felt the article was good and it provided me ample inputs for a story, therefore, I scanned the article and saved it. But as I mentioned earlier, I got busy with developing ‘Kanchli’ which didn’t happen. Meanwhile, many good and talented people joined my team like Tanima Bhattacharya whom I met during an Ad shoot joined as an actor as she wanted to work in a production house, then Harishji who is there with me since long. Both of us pitch in together to get projects and get it sanctioned and funded, then I met Chetan Sharma who was in ‘Sabhash India’ as a child actor. Chetan’s father stayed with me in constant touch and used to give me information about Chetan’s growth as an actor. I saw Chetan acting in the much-acclaimed movie “Aankhon Dekhi’ and decided to cast him in Saankal. The young boys (Music directors Nishant Kamal Vyas and Shriram Upadhyay, Lyrics by Anshul Vyas) who gave music to Saankal are from my family. 

With Harishji 
Actually, we as a team before Saankal thought of making a musical film called ‘Jaipur Kites’ on some young boys who have their music band and for the world they are grey but actually, they can go to any extent to help anyone. But then again, it didn’t happen due to lack of funds. And then I searched for the article that I saved and reached Jaisalmer saw the place mentioned in the article. Later, we as a team went there to understand more about the tradition and how women fell prey to that particular tradition followed by a particular community there. Gradually, many pitched in. Milind Gunaji was generous enough not to charge for his role, and Mr Anand Rathore invested a major amount in Saankal as a co-producer and finally, Saankal happened. I still believe that there is a superior power that plays a big role in my life that makes things easier for me and guides me through ruffled times. After Saankal, I have started telling people that take things easily, give your 100% and the rest will be taken care off by the Almighty.

Q&A: Mr Joshii finally Saankal hits the theatre on 28th November 2017. How do you feel and what would you like to tell your audience?

I would like my audience to watch the film and give me their valuable feedbacks so that I continue making good films. I am sure that Saankal, after being selected in 32 International Film Festivals and winning 13 awards, will certainly be received wholeheartedly by the audience and Kesar and Abeera (the lead protagonist are Chetan (Kesar) and Tanima Bhattacharya (Abeera)) shall find a place in their hearts.

Life Connoisseur Movie Rating of Saankal: 3.5 /5