Saturday, March 3, 2012

A lyrical rebellion on celluloid : Paan Singh Tomar

- Vimal C. Pandey

Simply, you can take it as a film that portrays a person’s journey from sports field to valley of Chambal but internally this films runs on sundry stratums. You have to read between the lines and understand the under tone of the movie when you see his critical transformation. This is the tale of a common man who has given his life for this country and when he needs a basic favor from the system, it completely exhausts him with its nature and taradiddle.
Written by Sanjay Chauhan, this film runs as a poem on celluloid. The one and only Irfan Khan makes it so intense that you can’t take your eyes off him even for a while. Paan Singh is a fourth standard failed military man who runs like a deer in the forest and roars like a tiger out of the cave. He wants to go to the front but stopped by the senior officials because ‘We can’t risk our sportspersons as they are the treasure of the country’. When this treasure trapped in his family dispute and runs from pillar to post, this system doesn’t help him.
When you chose a story of a real incident of person, it comes as a great responsibility to maintain the charm of the film. Whether it’s Jessica Lal, Silk Smita or Paan Singh Tomar, it is very tough to carry the film in a good pace and this time Tigmanshu has done this job tremendously. This film has been written and researched over the span of two years and this hard work comes on the screen as a breeze of soothing air. We see a young and candid Paan in initial scenes where he goes to the sports to get enough food as he is a glutton and represents India in Asian games. His transformation has been portrayed on screen splendidly and the trio of Irfan, Tigmansu and Sanjay emerge as winners.
Paan Singh tries his best to not pick the gun but when he does this, his motto is clear. When he gets advices to surrender, he affirms, “This is a race and when you start once, you have to finish it and there is no come back.” He is a sportsperson and his sportsman spirit sprayed in all frames. When he kills his enemy, i. e. his first brother, the charm of the movie could have been finished but Irfan has saved it by his justification. Moreover, Tigmanshu has justified the justification of the dacoit who forces to be called him as ‘rebellion’.
The film carries a lot of satirical value and scenes remain in memory when one leaves the hall. Whether the scene of Irfan and Mahi where Paan Singh talking to his wife through a mirror, or the scene where Paan gives money to his son to go to buy some chocolate or the scene when Paan follow his first cousin. Film, in a satirical way, shows the mirror to the system that doesn’t provide even basic facilities to its sportsmen and expects for medals. Film completely belongs to Irfan Khan and he has given an unimpeachable performance throughout the film. Hats off to the entire crew and team for a rare tale.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Throwing down the Gauntlets - our documentary

We shot a documentary in Allahabad on a unique tradition known as the tradition of Maharajin Bua last month in Manaiya village, a village about 25 kms from district headquarter. Two girls are here working as a female cremator...I also made a news which was published in several newspapers and attracted a lot of curiousity.. are some pics during the shoot. Pre-production work is over and the editing would be completed in last of the June in Delhi. After the post-production work, the doc would be ready by the mid of July..thx to Vivek, Rajesh ji, Kailash ji, Praveen and people of Manaiya for all the support.

Maharajin Bua's tradition gets two successors
Allahabad, May 15. The tradition of Maharajin Bua, probably the
first female cremator of India, who defied the orthodox values of
the tradition, has got two successors in her city.
Gulab Tiwari, popularly know as Maharajin Bua, who took up the
profession of cremator about 50 years ago on the bank of river
Ganga, invited several criticism as in Hindu tradition, it is
not regarded as an auspicious step for women to go to the cremation
ground 'ghat'.
Throwing down the gauntlets to society, Maharajin Bua accepted
her traditional work as her way of earning bread and butter for her
family and not only accepted but also glorified this work with her
presence and attracted media and researchers from all over the world
to the Rasoolabad ghat (cremation ground) of the Sangam city.
Several news agencies, news papers and news channels covered the
story of Maharajin Bua and published/ telecasted it as a tale of
victory of struggle over the hurdles.
After her demise few years back, it was believed that her
tradition was ended with her demise but two girls have belied the
Manaiya, 50 kilometers away from district headquarters, is the
village of Reshma (17) and Kaushalya (18), who have opted their
professional business of cremator as their profession and feel proud
in this work.
Kaushalya told that she started this work due to the dismal
financial condition of the home.
''When my brother went out of the home for earning and father
fell ill, I had to take the responsibility of the house as a male
child and I decided to take cremation as my profession,'' Kaushalya
''I do not think there is any problem, I do this work as my
father did. If males can do this why can't we,'' she asks indicating
Reshma also started the work due to the adverse financial
condition of her home.
''When we started this work our friends would made our fun but
soon they realised that this is our way to earn our bread and
butter,'' Reshma adds.
Reshma and Kaushlya completed their studies till standard sixth
and eight respectively but compelled to leave the school as their
families were not able to teach them.
Central and state government has initiated several schemes for
poor, girls and backwards but the advantage of such schemes seldom
reach to the right candidate. These girls never heard the name of
Mahatma Gandhi National Rural employment guarantee Act (MNREGA) and
Kaushlya's father Radhe Shyam Verma does not understand what a job
card stands for.
Kaushalya's father told that he once worked on a pond digging but
did not get the full payment by 'pradhan' so far.
''When we started this work, this was a new experience for the
people. Several people, came with the body, used to deny to get the
last rites performed by the girls but now situation is not so
difficult,'' Reshma adds.
When asked about the income, they says it depends upon the type
of the dead body.
''If any oldies has died, we ask Rs 50 but if there is a death of
any young person, we are paid Rs 11 or Rs 21 and we do not force to
pay them more,'' the girls say.
These girls are not aware of Maharajin Bua, though Kaushalya says
she has heard the name.
''Some people take this name when see us performing the last
rites. She might be a cremator like us,'' says Kaushalya.
These girls are doing this work merely for their bread and butter
but they do not know that they are changing an orthodox tradition
and carrying the flame of the tradition which Maharajin Bua burnt.
A famous quote says 'big changes occur slowly' which seems
completely being implemented here.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Terrorism and Bollywood today

Mumbai film industry is no more the follower of Western cinema. Today our film makers are also making trend setting films, films with contemporary concerns and above all with all qualities of a good cinema. Today you can see a good and meaningful movie with eye catching sequences and heart throbbing scenes. In short, today meaningful cinema ( which was called art cinema earlier and only bound to see for a viewer of great patience) is changing it's face. Terrorism is the core issue of bollywood today. Mr. Nachiketa Narayan, Bureau chief of PTI, Allahabad is a addict of good cinema and has written an article on the issue.......

We are grateful to Nishikant Kamath and Neeraj Pandey for giving us "Mumbai Meri Jaan" and "A Wednesday" respectively, two gems churned out by Bollywood this year. The two movies may not have sent the cash registers ringing, though these are very powerful representations of an angst-ridden society, struggling to find its feet after being shattered by terrorist attacks, a milieu all of us today will relate to. It must be appreciated that an otherwise divorced-from-reality film industry has come forward to address our concern at a time when our so-called leaders are angaged in a callous game of one-upmanship. We have had films based on the theme of terrorism earlier also, most of the jingoistic and some of them displaying sensitivity which tended to lean towards sentimentalism. However, these two movies, which hit the screens within a month of each other, have been simple yet profound in their depiction of the menace. Let us take "Mumbai Meri Jaan" first. Its title is a misnomer. The movie may have the country's commercial capital as its backdrop, but make no mistake, it is not a mere tribute to the never-say-die spirit of the city. It captures an important fact - terrorism is not just about loss of lives. It is also about the life-long fear that the people who have not been victims but only witnesses, become condemned to lie with. And for every single teror vicim, there at least a score of witnesses The part played by Madhavan is a beautiful example. Don't we become suspicious, even alarmed, whenever somebody abandons his scooter or motorcycle on the road. We almost inevitably take the guy to be a terrorist though the poor chap may have gone out looking for a mechanic to fix his vehicle. Or take Irrfan's case. The guy succeeds in bringing big businesses to a grinding halt by making hoax calls. He is working on the agenda of avenging his insult at a swanky mall. And undoubtedly, hoax callers in real life must be having their own agenda for the inconveniencing pranks they play. But in both reel and real life, it is the fear psychosis that forces socieities to lose sleep over even bad jokes played by perverse minds. And it is this fear psychosis that has been so effectively captured in "A Wednesday" It is a warning signal to the powers that be who appear to be playing hide and seek with the public and snake and ladder amonst themselves. Naseeruddin Shah's outburst where he says "koi m......c...d yeh faisla nahin karega ki mujhe kaise marna hai" brings out the cry of a people driven against the wall. The dialogue where he says that a terrorist is not more intelligent than a clerk reflects the outrage of law-abiding citizens of the country whose goodness seems to have been taken for granted. It also rightly puts forward an important truth - in the age of information explosion, making a bomb has become ridiculously easy. Only good sense has prevented the majority of people from going astray. Both the movies also have very important messages for the most powerful communication medium of our TV channels. In "Mumbai Meri Jaan", the depraved competititve streak that gets manifested in Soha Ali Khan, grieving over the death of her boyfriend, being asked by her boss to enact her trauma on camera is spine-chilling. The moronic approach of the TV reporter in "A Wednesday", who gets shocked upon being addressed to as beta "daughter" by Naseeruddin Shah, whom she had taken to be a heartless militant shows the way our journalists are being groomed. Hope our friends in the media industry are taking note of that. The year 2008 also had two other mentionable releases based on the same topic - "Khuda Kay Liye" and "Black and White" Though the former appears above average only when we take into account the brilliant cameo by Naseeruddin Shah and that its makers hail from repressive Pakistan and the latter is more about Anil Kapoor's histrionics than a good screenplay. We wish all the best to Kamath and Pandey and hope more filmmakers will follow their example and raise contemporary cinema to a new level.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Oscar is not a parameter of good cinema - Om Puri

Veteran actor Om Puri seems busier than ever nowadays। An NSDian of 1973 batch, a graduate from FTII and two time national award winner for best actor। Puri identified himself with meaningful cinema but today you can see him also in a film like Victoria No। 203, Budhha Mar Gaya, Mere Baap Pehle Aap etc……but stop, he is also spurring viewers with ardent performances in Mukhhbir and many other films, so for Om Puri there is no chasm between this or that cinema and he does not have any antipathy with popular cinema like Singh is Kking. Mr. Puri came Allahabad some time ago for a personal purpose. We caught him in hotel Kanha Shyam early morning. Here is the piece of conversation with him. Mr. Vimal Pandey talked him on parallel cinema, NFDC policies, ban on screen smoking and many more…

Vimal Pandey– first of all I congratulate you for getting the chairmanship of NFDC.
Om Puri – thanks a lot.

V.P.- There was a time NFDC produced several meaningful movies but today this institution is not in the full wave. As a chairman, what are your priorities for getting back the prestige of NFDC?
O.P.- After getting the charge I have not spent much time with my office so right now it’s a very tough to say anything about the strategies but one thing I would like to say that NFDC continuously have been producing good cinema, maybe some hurdles came in the way and affect it but NFDC is viable institution and it has the capacity to bring better cinema to the audience. These days’ five films are in the pipeline produced by NFDC. Via Darjeeling, a film by Arindam Nandy is released and receiving acclaimed and for more in pipeline.

V.P. – What about your forthcoming movies?
O.P.- I have taken a break these days after completing a lot of films (laughs), now these would be released one by one, first Singh is Kking then Maharathi, Mukhhbir, Shoot on Sight, Kishti in next two months.

V.P. – You looked very young in Mere Baap Pehle Aap.
O.P.- I played the role of a middle-aged man desperate to marry so I had to look younger. I wore black wig in the movie.

V.P. – Do you relate with the statement of union health minister Mr. A. Ramadoss that film stars should not smoke on screen?
O.P.- I don’t think it affects anyone if any actor smokes on screen because every viewer knows that this characters is smoking not the person who is acting. Yes I would like to emphasize that big stars, by taking their responsibility, should not smoke on public places like cricket match stadium or restaurants. This is also a matter of deep thinking that hero or villain should not smoke just for style on the screen also. If it’s the demand of the character then ok but for style only spreads a negative a message. Health minister should also announce for common citizens that they don’t smoke in the presence of children or teenagers, this affects them more. Home is the first school of any child (meanwhile Mr. Puri lights his third consecutive B. & H. cigarette when his attention was drawn towards, he laughs and added…) this is my only weakness. My son always hides packets of cigarettes. I promise him every time that I would not smoke from tomorrow but I am not succeeded yet. I know this is bad so I say my son that this is very bad habit and once caged by it, very tough to leave it.

V.P. – The form of parallel cinema is changed today. Any comment?
O.P. – The form of art cinema has been changed for better. Today movies like Halla Bol, Tare Zameen Par, Sarkar Raj are being released that are not hardcore commercial movies. These are bridging the gap between art and commercial cinema and it is very necessary to use some commercial elements to sell a meaningful cinema. After all distribution is one of the most important parts of the film. These films are somewhat like the cinema of Bimol Ray, Guru Dutt and V. Shantha Ram that have a message with good cinematic approach.

V. P. – Why we only get nomination in Oscars? Here one more question arises, is Oscar any parameter for good cinema?
O.P.- I don’t think so. Oscar is not a parameter for good cinema. This is also a fact that process of lobbying for films is a tough process that our filmmakers fail in. Oscar has a monopoly in the world cinema but more important than grabbing an Oscar is reaching to international market successfully. We should make cinema on international themes so that the whole world could relate it. Our market is so big that we don’t try to reach outer.

V.P. – But our films are popular in overseas too?
O.P.- This is wrong that native viewers from overseas watch our movies. They are also our viewers, they are NRIs. We should not make films only for them but for native viewers of those countries with universal and touching themes. In Europe, Canada and Japan, they don’t watch our movies.

V.P.- Why NSD is loosing it’s charm? In the quality it is lagging behind and indulged in many disputes. Why it is not producing today actors like Om Puri, Om Shivpuri and Naseeruddin Shah?
O.P.- It is not true, even today NSDians are doing good in Mumbai. If there is any truth in your point, I don’t know much about current scenario of NSD, as I didn’t go there for a long time. There might be a reason behind it that perhaps teachers like Alkaji are not there today. Actually in 80’s, offbeat cinema was on peak and it discovered many good actors from NSD but today also some brilliant actors on coming from the institution.

V.P. – Some of your very good movies like Sadgati, Dharavi are not easily available in DVD form in market. Where viewers can get it from?
O.P.- This is due to producers didn’t show concern to launch DVDs of these films but for your information, DVD of Bharat Ek Khoj is being launched. At least you can get a good thing to watch.

V.P.- Thanks for your valuable time.
O.P.- you’re most welcome