Lake City International Film Festival 2019

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Visionary, Courageous and Honest - sums up Nitin Chandra

Nitin Chandra
A revolutionary at heart and an outspoken person, Nitin Chandra - director of Deswa (bhojpuri) doesn’t mind calling spade a spade. Visionary, courageous and blatantly honest, Nitin is the brother of Bollywood actress Neetu Chandra. Not that he needs her name to be known in film circles. A path breaker, who took the Bhojpuri film “Deswa” to the International Film Festival of India, is a big follower of Italian Neo realistic Cinema and greatly influenced by work of Iranian film makers like Majid Majidi and Abbas Kiarostami. He also appreciates film makers like Ashutosh Gowariker for their art of making films on well researched scripts and not being a DVD director. In an extensive talk with Films & TV Editor Soham, Nitin Chandra bares his heart out..

Films & TV: Please tell us about yourself.
Nitin Chandra: I come from a deep rooted socio - cultural background, from a family of freedom fighters which makes me revolutionary at heart. I call spade a spade and don’t know how to keep everyone happy. I am totally into Bihar and Bihar is in me. I am made up of air and mud of that place. After passing out from University of Pune, I kept on exploring more and more of Bihar and made giant documentaries on it. Working toward the development of Bihar through Cinema as a medium is mission of my life. My friends think that I am hardliner Bihari but I know that I am Indian first. I have very radical vision about things and I often talk about absolute changes, the change we need.

Films & TV: What made you chose the one that you are doing now - direction?
Nitin Chandra: I feel any form of art, be it music, painting, cinema, etc chooses you, its not we who will chose them, the medium chooses its people who will take it forward and enrich it. So, after a lot of soul searching and struggling from engineering to MBA to designing etc, when I came near Cinema, Cinema chose me, I feel I am complete now. The void in my heart is filled and now I know that this is what I was made for. 

Films & TV: What's been your most memorable moment, as a director, so far?
Nitin Chandra: The most memorable moment was when I was shooting with flood victims in the Bagmati region of Bihar in 2008. That one moment changed my life forever and also my perspective. I saw the abject human conditions of this country vis-à-vis the fortune spent on games and cricketers in this country. Here our government spends several thousands crores on a games with so much of corruption, in the same country we have people who will soon be eating sand to survive in flood regions of Kosi in My Bihar. I realized that we living in our convenient zones in Metro City are either ignorant, or in total denial or totally insensitive about the people of our own country. Be it farmers of Vidarbha or Flood regions of Bihar, we need to look into it find solution.

Nitin with Ashish Vidyarthi during the shooting of Deswa
Films & TV: What do you think of today’s' trends in “Bhojpuri Cinema”?
Nitin Chandra: In last one year, there has been some positivity in term of quality and budget. Market has grown. But unless Bhojpuri touches its root it will not be able to add the educated and middle class audience, who can really pull the industry to a greater limit. The people, who are making Bhojpuri first need to love this language, understand and respect its culture. Bihar and Eastern UP, which is already economically and educationally backward, can not afford to lose its cultural fabric through the regressive and distasteful cinema. Cinema is a reflection of society but Bhojpuri is not reflecting the correct picture of Bhojpuriya society. As it is, the people of this region are scorned off all over the country and our cinema also puts up an ugly picture, making the image even worse. So, the portrayal of Bhojpuriya society through this kind of trend is totally unacceptable.

Films & TV: How does it feel to be the path breaker to take Deswa - A Bhojpuri Film to IFFI?
Nitin Chandra: I feel proud. I feel proud that I made my language and culture feel proud on me. I am happy that I am trying to bring change. I am glad that the first film in bhojpuri to be showcased at IFFI was Deswa, on 2nd December 2010 at 41st International Film Festival of India, Goa.

Films & TV: How was it going from a total unknown to becoming a celebrity? Has it changed the fabric of your daily life?
Nitin Chandra: My head is held high but feet are properly grounded. I know and remember where I come from. I have certain social and moral responsibilities. Fabric has not changed a bit, I am all the same. Ya, I do get a lot of calls regarding business and appreciation. Getting famous and becoming popular or a celebrity is not what I am looking forward for, all I want is to contribute to cinema and society through my films.

Films & TV: Who are your inspirations / role models?
Nitin Chandra: My mother, my sister and Environmentalist Dinesh Kumar Mishra, I call him Guruji. When it comes to cinema, I am a big follower of Italian Neo realistic Cinema and influenced by work of Iranian film makers like Majid Majidi and Abbas Kiarostami. In India I appreciate film makers like Ashutosh Gowariker, who is honest and never tries to copy stories. 

Films & TV: What is your next project? Where do you see yourself / your work in next 3 years from now?
Nitin Chandra: There are few projects in pipeline. I am researching on some stories, but which one I am going to direct is matter of finance. The one which I am keen on doing is period biopic based in Bihar which has got hindi, bhojpuri and a little bit bangla in it and I would be asking some mainstream hindi actors and some bhojpuri actors to do it. Its renaissance time in bhojpuri and would seek everyone's support to take bhojpuri to national level and then world level. But most important is to add bhojpuri speaking educated people who never watch bhojpuri films.

Films & TV: What’s in your personal DVD collection? What is your favourite movie?
Nitin Chandra: Forrest Gump, Kagaz ke Phool, Love Caution Lust by Wong kar wai, Bandit Queen, The Social Network, are some of the films in my collection. I read more of film and other literature books than watch. I like Children of Heaven By Majidi, The Bicycle Thief by Vittorio Da Sica, David Fincher's Seven, Godard's Breathless, Prakash Jha's Damul and Kundan Kumar's Ganga Maiyya Tohre Piyari Chadhaibo, a bhojpuri film and also Natrang in Marathi. There are many others too.

Films & TV: Tell us more about your typical day. What do you do when you are not shooting?
Nitin Chandra: Well, Either I am reading, writing or thinking. I am lazy kind of person when not working. But when I am working I would not sleep for 3 days at a stretch. I have recently started Yoga, so every morning it is Yoga for me. I would spend a lot of time on internet, searching things I don’t know about and would often get lost in it. I would sleep by 12 midnight. I am unmarried so things are easy for me.

Films & TV: If you didn't become a director, what everyday occupation would you have liked?
Nitin Chandra: I would have become a school teacher which I still want to do and I often go to colleges and institute to talk on cinema.

Films & TV: What are your best skills? What is your major weakness?
Nitin Chandra: I think visualisation is my best skill. I can hardly say no to people, that is my weakness.

Films & TV: One thing that you would like to change from your past.
Nitin Chandra: I wish I was born in Bihar. But unfortunately this can not be changed. May be in next life (smiles)

Films & TV: Last book you read? Last movie you have seen?
Nitin Chandra: Last book I read was "Purvi Ke dhah" by Jauhar Shafiabadi, its bhojpuri literature. Last film I saw was King's speech.

Films & TV: Tell us one thing about yourself that no one knows?
Nitin Chandra: Ha ha...I will tell you two. I hate mobile phones and I am a facebook addict.

Films & TV: Sum yourself up in three words.
Nitin Chandra: "Visionary... Courageous... Honest" - best describe me....

Friday, March 25, 2011

I thank my stars for failing to clear my MBA Entrance...

This is one person who thanks his stars for failing to clear his MBA Entrance exams as that gave him a chance to experiment and getting into what he loved pursuing – Cinematography. Not that he is one of the most sought after lens man of tinsel town, but Riju Samanta has carved his niche in a very short span of time. From doing short films to the India series of ‘LUX Lifestyles’ - a Lifestyle show for the US homes, to doing a feature film, Riju has been on a roller coaster ride. Casually sitting at a CCD outlet in Mumbai’s plush Oberoi Mall close to FilmCity, Riju Samanta talks to Films & TV Editor Soham about Strings of Passion and myriad other interesting subjects. 

Films & TV: How did you get into cinematography?
Riju Samanta: Well, I picked up amateur photography as a hobby from my father since childhood. When trying to pursue MBA as any other commerce graduate, luckily for me I did not clear the MBA entrance in the first year of its attempt. That gave me some time to try my hand at advertising with a company in Kolkata. My disinterest for Commerce and my interest to do anything but commerce started growing. The only other thing I could do well was photography and my boss who is also a dear friend now, ignited the passion and courage to take up professional photography. My family and my girlfriend supported me immensely after a wee bit of understandable apprehensions. I applied for cinematography, got accepted in my film school and here I am, far too rewarded and satisfied than an MBA would have been. Laughs...

Films & TV: How is the overall scene in Indian cinematography?
Riju Samanta: Oh it’s great, very energetic and progressive. There have been a lot of young cinematographers who have come in to the scene and have tried to experiment and contribute something new to the Indian film and television industry. This has also inspired many veteran cinematographers to rethink their style and approach to visual story telling. The end product is that there is a lot of fresh thoughts and competition. Not all of them have succeeded which is good, as then there won’t be any competition. Indian cinematography is now more exposed to world cinema which we lamely refer to as the ‘international look’

Films & TV: How do you choose your projects?
Riju Samanta: “I choose my projects based on the story, script and its sole (and the money)” – phew.... no, I am no big shot to be giving away statements like that. Honestly people like us who have just started off in their careers do not have much choice. But luckily for me I have done all kinds of projects from the smaller ones to the big ones and from the good to the bad and even the ugly ones. This has taught me to understand the industry, judge its people and the prospect of any project, something you are not taught at film school. So today I feel much more comfortable and confident in choosing something which interests me unconditionally.

Riju Samanta
Films & TV: Is there a difference between the terms - cameraman, cinematographer and director of photography? How do you prefer to be called?
Riju Samanta: Hmm.... technically a camera man is a camera operator and his responsibility ends there. A cinematographer is a term used specifically for motion picture photography. He is the person heading the camera, grips and the lighting departments and is responsible for achieving the artistic and technical decisions related to the image. Director of Photography used more commonly in India is synonymous to Cinematographer used prevalently in the American context. Well I would prefer to be called by my name which I am very proud of...laughs. But yes, Director of Photography does sound very big and important. Who doesn’t want to feel important?? ...Laughs again

Films & TV: Your film got some awards at the Nasik Film Festival. Do you think this puts pressure on you to perform the utmost?
Riju Samanta: Yes our short film, ‘Kalapaani’ won the Golden Camera Award at the NIFF 2010. It meant that our film was liked by many people. And it makes me happy to learn that my efforts to make a good film earned acknowledgements. My intentions would be the same, to make every project look and feel as interesting as possible. So honestly the award should not be a pressure on my intentions, but if ur talking of pressure on my expectations, yes like any human being, I will tend to get carried off at times. But it would be a conscious effort on my side to stick to what I can do best and not try to please everybody. 

Sanghamitra Chaudhary
Films & TV: How did you bag Sanghamitra Chaudhury’s "Strings of Passion"? This is your first feature film. Right?
Riju Samanta: I happened to know Mohan Das, my friend and a producer in Mumbai. We were lazily chatting up one day in a coffee shop when he told me about Sanghamitra Chaudhuri and her new directorial venture. Luckily for me, she was coming to Mumbai in the next few days and Mohan ji introduced me to her at Prithvi Theatre, if I remember correctly. However I do remember her saying this to me very candidly later, that she did not take me seriously at first but slowly started altering her ideas after seeing my work reel.  Thereafter we had a series of chats about the film and its requirements and grew quite comfortable with each other’s style of working. We had struck a common chord amongst the strings of passion for film making and a month later I received a call from the producers for the formalities.

Girish Nagpal with his on screen mom Zeenat Aman..
Yes, this is my first feature length film, but let me specify it is not only my film; I work with my very own team which has Magoo Neeraj as the Associate Cinematographer and Priyanka Singh as the Chief Assistant. They have been wonderful people and I owe equal credit to them. We were lucky to get an opportunity to showcase our talent so early in our career.

Films & TV: You mentioned about your own team? How important is that to you?
Riju Samanta: Ask anyone from any department and nobody would differ in saying that film making is a collective art (...and commerce as a producer would clarify...smiles) Every member in the team is equally important. Magoo and me are batch mates and Priyanka is a year junior from the same film school. Its not only about getting the best people on the job – its also about tuning yourselves into a perfect rhythm with them. We work in close proximity and share an unsaid mutual respect which gives us that edge over any other professional teamwork. We hangout together all the time and work is only a serious part of the fun for us. And it works well for us that way.

Films & TV: Did you treat the cinematography of SOP differently from the projects you are doing - especially the international travelogue series?
Riju Samanta: Yes every project is different and the boon for me was that I was not many projects old. So I have not acquired a style for myself yet. I wanted to play around with a few elements and my director happily agreed. She was youthful and unconventionally inspired which trickled down to every department in the process. SOP was a subject which needed an uncanny edge to it which I tried to contribute through my camera movements and lensing. Other than that it was deeply grounded to reality in terms of lighting and shot taking.

‘LUX Lifestyles’ on the other hand is an entirely different ball game. It is a Lifestyle show for the US homes, and I was shooting the India series. There it was a lot more of glamour and prosperity ruling the show as it was called LUX which stands for Luxury. The cinematography for this show was quite in contrast to the realistic and edgy feel of SOP. There was a huge quotient of classical frames, grand lighting schemes and poised movements throughout, but with an intention to show India’s treasure in an unconventional yet erotic manner.

Films & TV: How was it working with such a stalwart as Zeenat Aman in your debut film project?
Riju Samanta: She is a veteran actress and very cooperative with young people like us. She has been very sweet to me and my team. I will cherish the compliments that I received from her about her first close up in the film that we shot in Kolkata. SOP being my first feature film, Zeenat ji will be a very important part of my memory throughout my life. We really enjoyed working with such a stalwart of the industry.

Riju with his Mom
Films & TV: Your special Moments while filming Zeenat Aman and others in SOP?
Riju Samanta: Well there were many special moments. Our opening shot at the Shibpur Ghat in Kolkata and the near escape from the tide sweeping us away, the small talk with the wonderful and cheerful support staff behind the scenes, the black tea that we got addicted to in the course of our shoot, the nightingale voice of Mantu da, our trolley man (as he likes to be called which ripped the sets apart, thanks to him our producer saved on the loudspeaker budget) my mother visiting my sets for the first time, the differences and patch ups I have had  with Magoo & Priyanka (don’t  I dare to speak about my director...laughs) and of course the lovely wrap party with Zeenat ji. Thanks everyone to make it so memorable.

Films & TV: Who is the most beautiful actress today (through your lens)?
Riju Samanta: Well I have not shot many stars through my lens. So it would be unfair to compare on a superlative basis. But I think Zeenat Ji looks beautiful even today. Shirin who is debuting in SOP also looks graceful and I am sure I will be able to make Aishwaria or Priyanka or Katrina look nice through my lens too. ...smiles

Films & TV: You have grown up watching Tollywood and Bangla Films. Now you are debuting with a Bollywood film. Any comparisons?
Riju Samanta: Why do you need to compare? I have grown up seeing Bangla, Hindi and English films as a child. Now I am growing up seeing films in Marathi, Tamil, French, German, Arabic and all other possible languages. I like some of them; I do not like some of them, that’s the only comparison. And because we are cinematographers, language seems to be less relevant at times. In fact I remember, in my film school days we used to watch films without dialogues to help pick up the visual elements more prominently. It’s an enriching experience.

Films & TV: What will be the most challenging project for you, if you could do any of the bollywood films of today’s times in your style?
Riju Samanta: Well the most challenging task would be to shoot something like a Golmaal 3 in a Kaminey style. I wonder if that would make sense anyways. As for me, I donot have a style as of now. I am working towards it.

Zeenat Aman in "Strings of Passion"
Films & TV: Which movie had the best cinematography in recent times?
Riju Samanta: I do not know if they were the best but there were a lot of films which I have liked for its cinematography. Most recently I had seen ‘Kings Speech’ by Danny Cohen and the 1:1.85 aspect ratios looked really interesting with portrait references used in framing and art design. Then ‘Saat Khoon Maaf’ by Ranjan Palit had this uncanny feel and lensing which was interesting though I thought the real edgy camera work in ‘Kaminey’ by Tassaduq Hussain was much more to my liking. I am really looking forward to ‘Gangs of Wassipur’ by Rajiv Ravi for the interesting mix of formats and cameras they have experimented with.

Films & TV: A director you want to work with?
Riju Samanta: Directors who are already friends with me or directors who will become friends with me. ....smiles!!

Monica - The Politics of Murder : A "thrust in the face" reality movie...

Once again here comes another “Thrust in the Face”reality movie after the successful “No one Killed Jessica”. Yeah, we are talking of “Monica : The Politics of Murder”. The film is a political thriller based on the life and times of the famous journalist Shivani Bhatnagar who was found murdered in her flat in Delhi some years back.

Produced by Mr. Kush Bhargava (a Lucknow based Congress leader) under the banner of Ark Widescreen Films in association with Anup Jalota and Sitara Productions, ‘Monica - The Politics of Murder’ as the title suggests is therefore, a story of a women’s murder and how the entire set up is politicized to gain popularity and mileage. The title of the film consciously, underlines this connect where the whole world of scams, corruption, ambition, politics, power, betrayals and alliances unfolds through the much-awaited socio-political thriller movie.

Monica is directed by Sushen Bhatnagar who debuted with SOCH - the psycho thriller that starred the then ravishing Raveena Tandon, Sanjay Kapoor, Aditi Govitrikar and Arbaaz Khan in lead roles. Naturally if he could ensemble such a star cast in his debut film, he obviously got the best for such an ambitious project. The film has a stellar cast including Ashutosh Rana, Divya Dutta, Rajit Kapur, Yashpal Sharma, Kittu Gidwani and others. The surprise package of the film is the Lucknow based Congress leader Kush Bhargava who plays himself - a politician in the film.

Whether the film will be able to bring in the audiences (given that the film is being released without any media hype or publicity), Divya Dutta has done some bold moves in this film (read - almost nude). Yes, it does have a very cosy intimate lesbian scene - a la “Fire” ishtyle between Divya Dutta and Kitu Gidwani. Don’t really understand what made the director get two ageing females do almost nude scenes for this film. According to Divya Dutta, it was shot aesthetically and isn’t vulgar or titillating and goes in sync with the storyline as the film revolves around two struggling and vulnerable women who find solace in each other.

Monica is all set to release today in Mumbai, where we will get to see the versatile actor Ashutosh Rana after a really long time supposedly playing the late Pramod Mahajan and Rajit Kapur in another stellar performance as Monica’s Editor husband. While Yashpal Sharma advocates the cause of the Monica’s of the world in the role of the Public Prosecutor, Tinu Anand and Kitu Gidwani bring to light the give and takes that are operational between an Industrialist and a Journalist. Dadhi Pandey,originally a theatre actor from Lucknow, is the Power broker, while Saurabh Dubey is another crafty Politician in this Socio-Political thriller. 

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Oberhausen Short Film Festival now online…


International Short Film Festival Oberhausen has launched a new video-on-demand platform. This platform that features about 270 short films and film clips from the festival, is fully controlled by the filmmakers. The films will be available in full for streaming or download, either for free or for a charge, depending on the filmmaker.

Currently available are films by Thomas Draschan, Jeanne Faust, Robert Frank, Ken Kobland, Jan Svankmajer, Jaan Toomik and Zelimir Zilnik. The platform also has an extensive short film database to which new films will be added every year from the festival’s market catalogues.

New films will be added from the current festival programmes as well as from the festival archive, beginning with the competition nominees at the 57th International Short Film Festival Oberhausen. “Oberhausen Films Online” can be visited at www.kurzfilmtage.de/en/videotheque

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

New York Film Academy to conduct workshop in Mumbai



One of the leading film schools of the world – the New York Film Academy that conducts workshops in U.K., France, Switzerland, South Korea, Japan, China, Nigeria and Italy will be entering India for the first time in May 2011. The workshop will be conducted from 02 May to 28 May 2011 at Lilavatibai Podar School at Santacruz in Mumbai. The same faculty as in New York, USA, will conduct the workshop in Mumbai and will bring along all cameras, lights and every other equipment required for this workshop, from NYFA, USA. This ensures that the students are at par with what one learns at any NYFA location in USA or Mumbai.

This Four-Week Workshop provides students with a thorough introduction to the foundations of film craft. NYFA is perhaps the only film school that is so hands-on and intensive. The teaching methodology is as much practical learning as theory. The workshop comprises of shoots on a daily basis giving practical insights to every aspect of the theory that is taught. The academy boasts of one of the highest camera to student ratio as compared to any other film school in the world. Each student is exposed to the roles and functions of all crew members in a film shoot. A group of 4-6 students is assigned a camera. Each and every student of every group has to direct three films, which allows him or her to understand and execute the jobs of a film director. When the student is not directing his or her own film, the student is assisting his team member playing a different role each time. Thus apart from directing, each student has to perform the tasks of a DOP, a gaffer, a production asst and so on. This unique method gives a complete exposure to the various tasks that a crew needs to conduct in a film shoot.

NYFA is considered the best hands-on film school in the world by many of today's top filmmakers who have sent their family members to study there. They include Steven Spielberg, Al Pacino, Robert Downey Jr., Jamie Foxx, Jodie Foster, Kevin Kline, Pierce Brosnan, Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins, Bono(U2), directors Stephen Frears, Peter Bogdonavich, Roger Donaldson and James L. Brooks among others.

The fee for the workshop is in two parts. Registration Fee of Rs 20,000 has to be paid latest by 20th March, 2011, while the Tuition + Equipment Fee is USD 3650 which has to be wire transferred to New York Film Academy straight away. This can be done only after you register for the workshop. However, Educational Loan for the course is also being made available from HDFC Bank Ltd.

While Diplomas on completion of the course will be awarded by New York Film Academy, 25 students will receive an internship with established production houses in India. One outstanding student also gets an internship with Anurag Basu, a leading Director from Bollywood.

Monday, March 14, 2011

1st Guwahati International Short Film Festival postponed, Deadline extended


The 1st Guwahati International Short Film Festival (GISFF) by Creovaent Productions which was earlier scheduled from April 4th to April 5th, 2011 at Cinemax, Guwahati has been postponed to 2nd and 3rd of May, 2011 due to Assam Assembly Elections that is starting from April 4th, 2011. This postponement has also come as a boon to those who have not been able to submit their entries on time and have been feeling bad about it. Since the Festival has been postponed, the festival authorities have decided to extend the deadline for sending entries. The new deadline now is March 20, 2011.

All the sections and criteria however will remain the same.The Guwahati International Short Film Festival (GISFF) is now taking entries for Short Film Competition which is restricted only to filmmakers from North-East Region for the first year .Filmmakers from the rest of India can however send their entries for Indian Kaleidoscope section.For the first year there will be no entry fees for submitting the short films.

The prizes for the short film competition are as follows- Best Film ( Golden Rhino, Certificate & Cash Award + Film to be taken under the wings of Shamiana & Creovaent Shorts to be screened all over India ), Best Director ( Golden Rhino, Certificate & Cash Award ), Best Screenplay ( Silver Rhino, Certificate & Cash Award ), Best Editing ( Silver Rhino, Certificate & Cash Award ), Best Cinematography ( Silver Rhino, Certificate & Cash Award )

For rules and regulations entry form and other details please visit the festival website: www.creovaent.com or write to creovaentproduction@gmail.com

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Lookalike of Raj Babbar – This Delhi Guy also debuts with Zeenat Aman..


Last week Zeenat Aman was in Kolkata busy shooting for Sanghamitra Chaudhuri's Hindi project titled “Strings of Passion". Revolving around three post grad students, this is a story of their relationships and also the effect of bad parenting on their lives. While Zeenat plays an overprotective mother to one of the guys played by Girish Nagpal, the other guys are Shubh Mukherjee and Trishaan.

Girish Nagpal who is making his debut with Zeenatji in this film plays a soft yet loving and a timid and introvert character, but full of life and zest when he is in love with his girl. A prolific writer also, he is part of a rock band with his cousin and friends and even wins a trophy for the same. But destiny has something else stored for him. And the film takes a different turn altogether which will make the audience sit up and take notice. Speaking about his role, Girish says, “It is a good script and all the three leads play very different characters and don’t overlap each other and is crucial to how the story develops.”

But more importantly, what everyone on the sets and even a veteran actress like Zeenat Aman was talking about was the striking similarity to Raj Babbar. Zeenat says the first time she saw Girish on the sets; she was amazed by the uncanny similarity in their appearance. “He is playing my son Aman urf Mannu in the film. Though he doesn’t act or speak the way Raj did when he debuted against me in B R Chopra’s Insaaf Ka  Tarazu, I was clean bowled by his histrionics in acting. What an amazing performer Girish is,” she gushes. “In fact, Girish is a kinda perfect double. Though Raj has two sons – Arya and Prateik, none resemble him in looks the kind Girish does.”



Girish jokingly admits that his family and friends and especially his mom always commented on his resemblance to Raj Babbar. “I thought that’s how moms and friends are, especially that I had veered towards acting as a career. But it was only after Zeenatji commented that I feel it has to be, else such a veteran actor atleast would not try and pull my leg,” he chuckles. “In fact, I did jokingly tell Zeenat mam that let history repeat once again. Bhagwan kare, my debut film with her meets the same success as Raj Babbar Saab. And ya, Rajji is also from Delhi as me.”


Girish also admits that he was approached by a Kolkata director Indrasis Acharya to play the younger part of Raj Babbar for his film “The Bartender” which is being produced under the banner of Eon Films. As far to my knowledge, they are yet to approach Raj Babbar  saab for the same. “The Bartender’s story portrays the life of a bartender in three phases – young age, middle and old age. They were all set to change the young age part as it was difficult to get the same actor do all the three parts which would not be that convincing. However, Indrasisji happened to see me at the shoot when he came to meet my friend Mohan Das of Eon Films and felt I fit the bill perfectly. Though I have been given a brief, we are yet to sign on the dotted line as Raj ji has to say yes to the project first.”

The debutante is a theatre personality and has done quite a few plays with renowned names in Delhi theatre circuit and was even part of Tom Alter’s theatre group performing with him even in Lahore. He is also doing Dinkar Rao’s “The Dope Girl” as a lead which will be rolling from March end. No wonder, he is all set for a passionate start to his film career. “And ya, Passion is the word, even in the title of my debut - Strings of Passion,” signs off Girish.

Soham, Films & TV World Editor

Woh 5 Din shown to a select audience in Dubai..

After doing a stint in Mumbai showcasing his short and a bit long films on under the banner of Malani Film Fest, Director Sundeep Malani took this idea a bit ahead - albeit this time to Dubai where he not only screened his short films – Jo Jo Lali, Shayad and Hum Tum aur Loan but also his thriller film Woh 5 Din.....  The film that premiered at Dubai was the icing on the cake as this was the first ever screening of the feature. We caught up the Director Sundeep Malani where he spoke about this film and his future ventures…

Films & TV: Woh 5 Din was premiered at Dubai at Malani Film Fest. How come the lead stars and the producer of the film were missing from a premiere show? Does that mean they don’t support their own ventures?
Sundeep Malani
Sundeep Malani: The Premiere of Woh 5 Din was decided on a last minute. Besides it wasn’t supposed to be on the agenda. And moreover, it was planned to be Malani Film Festival and the organizers were Mangaloreans who are known to me. They organized this event and had sponsored my show. Hence, my films short and feature were showcased in the festival that included Moments, Hum Tum Aur Loan, Jo Jo Laali, Shaayad – being Short Films. Miss California, SMS 6260 and Woh 5 Din – being feature films. I AM a Mangalorean and my community people are all in Dubai. They do such programs of having screened films from Mangaloreans, or Tulu and Konkani stage plays and variety entertainment. It was only from the directors perspective, that Woh 5 Din got premiered in the Fest. The lead actors and the producers would be definitely a part of all the events and show that we follow henceforth. Infact, there is going to be a Film Fest with Woh 5 Din screening in Bangalore shortly and everyone from the film is going to be present at the event

Films & TV: Woh 5 Din - What is it all about? 
Sundeep: Woh 5 Din is a fun filled suspense thriller. Its about four guys who are fed up of their daily hectic routine work and take a break to go for a outing to Nainital with the intention of coming back in 3 days. But their stay extends due to unavoidable circumstances that they fall into trouble and a trap involving a murder. One by one, everyone gets hooked. How is this mystery solved forms the crux of the story. While the first half is treated with fun and masti that is more of today’s film, the second half reminds you of the 80’s suspense drama. It was done on purpose so that one gets the feel of Ramsay ventures. Woh 5 din is a horror flick. It stars newcomers Piush Anand, Akash Hora, Hunny Hora, Anant Joshi and Barkat Khan. The female counterparts being Bhagyasri Rao, Jenica Kalra, Ruby Anand and Neha Yadav.

Films & TV: Is it a kind of DVD movie or will it ever hit the screens? What is the fate of such productions that are digitally shot and has no takers on the release circuit?
Sundeep: Woh 5 Din is a small budget film shot in digital format and is meant for satellite release. Its more of a film for the small screen. It could be released in big theatres too, and we are trying to have a tie up with the UFO movies, who do release such films via satellite in certain theatres all over India. These days entertainment has a high value at your living room. People do watch films at home and enjoy them. Zoom channel has started with screening films on Sunday that is meant to be only home theatre, which haven’t released in big screens. Woh 5 Din also falls in the same category. With distributors like Moserbaer, UTV and Zoom Theatre besides Satellite Rights – the release is perfect and has limited reach too.

Films & TV: At present you are launching Jaanleva 555. How different will this be from your short films? 
Sundeep: Jaanleva 555 is a full fledged feature film that will be released all over theatrically. This is nothing to do with those of my short films and the satellite film. Jaanleva 555 is a thriller and a love story. Its musical too with 8 tracks in the film. For the first time a new music director has composed the songs and are sung by Reality Show Toppers of 3 different channels. Sa Re Ga Ma Pa, Indian Idol and Voice of India. Even, the Choreographer happens to be from Dance India Dance.

Films & TV: Is it a kind of completely bollywood masala entertainer? On what format are you shooting? 
Sundeep: As told you, yes Jaanleva 555 is a complete bollywood film. Songs, Dance, Romance, Fun, Fights, Thrills and Chills. This film is shot in the latest Canon 5 D format that many of the filmmakers are recently trying. Even Ram Gopal Varma is shooting his next in the same format. The result of this technology is awesome as two Tamil films have been shot and released theatrically with brilliant output. It’s a Hollywood technique that is coming to India now and I am sure very soon everyone is going to use this technique for the production cost is going to be cheaper and better.

Films & TV: Will it be commercially released as it has non actors and new comers.
Sundeep: The film has Kalpana Pandit playing the lead role. She has been in the industry for quite some time. And with a earlier recent production Jo Jo Laali, she has proved by delivering a award winning performance. In this film, she plays a dual role and both the roles are different from each other and performance oriented. Besides her all the others are freshers and newcomers. I believe in working with newcomers and getting the best from them. You cant call them non actors because being newcomers, they are trained well. For that matter even today’s known stars don’t deliver well and are far behind than the new talents. And that is already proved via various reality shows. Yes, with such bunch of newbies, its going to be commercially released.

Films & TV: Any message that you would like to leave for your readers.
Sundeep: Do not judge a film by its medium. It may be short or feature, musical or thriller, known actors or freshers, theatrical or homely watch. Go via the content and the subject. After all, wherever you watch – the verdict has to be – Entertainment value and/or that leaves an impact with the message. And I am happy with the way I have made my films and has reached the audience via festivals and theatrical releases.