Monday, March 2, 2015

The rising sun on the horizon of success....

Nothing seems to faze this young star. In fact it seems he's hardly even noticed his own versatility as he has made a seamless transition from his mute Bolo Raam character to doing more versatile roles not only in Bollywood or in films down South, but also for a French production. When Soham pointed out that he's  doing variety and in different genres, he says, “With actors, the only time we talk about genres is when we're promoting a film and debating it with journalists,” smiles Rishi Bhutani who started his career with Bolo Raam that was his own home production. Here he tells Soham Siddharth how he does it in a brief chat.

Soham Siddharth Tell us something about Rishi Bhutani - the person / the actor
Rishi Bhutani: As me - the person, I change myself according to circumstances. I've learned how to control situations better now. You keep learning all the time that's what life is all about. As Rishi Bhutani - the actor, well should say, it's a bit tricky question. But yes, before I act, I really like to get to know everything possible about the character that I'm playing. I can't perform just for the sake of it. But I have heard (though I did not have to face it yet) that sometimes with many big banners, it happens that you don't know the whole story. You know only 'your' scene and what you are doing and I feel it's a great exercise for an actor to play things for face value. But said so, I would love to have a tight bound script as opposed to “this is the scene where I'm supposed to do this that way” as it works with television serials.

Tell us about your family background and your qualifications.
I come from a business background and my qualifications don't match at all that goes to be an actor. Well, I did my Bachelors in Computers and then did my M.Sc. in Computer Science. However, my mind keeps shifting from one thing to another. Once I completed my studies in IT, I thought of doing something else, which would be more interesting to me, and bestowed naturally with good looks, I thought of a career in acting. This in a way, you can say, I found my calling in acting.

To debut with my own home production was not exactly a choice. My elder brother wanted to start a production company and having someone back home who is keen for acting, we thought why not? That laid the foundation of our own home production - Bolo Raam - which was my debut film. Currently we are working on another project with Shyam Benegal and making a serial for Doordarshan, for which I'm handling the production.

You also did a Kannada (Maarichaa) and a Tamil (PulippuInippu). How do you choose a film?
PulippuInippu released in December and the response was very good. I am getting good offers from down South. Many speak about the differences in South Film industry vis a vis Bollywood in terms of working styles. However, I didn't find any difference. The only thing that I was a bit wary earlier was of the communication language. But after doing a Kannada and a Tamil, I don't mind trying other regional languages of the South which is the hub today of real good films.

As for doing a Bollywood or a South film, it certainly doesn't factor in my thought process. I don't go thinking - I want to do a romantic comedy, so only show me romcoms from now on. What I really look for is a good role with impact when I'm picking a role. I just look for a good script and that is what really matters to me.

You were shooting in Reunion Islands for a French film. How did this happen?
We always talk about French connection and now I have one. 3 months back I went to France. My short film was selected there and I got the best actor award all thanks to Mr. Mukesh Kaneri (NIFF) and Miss Marianne Borgo. It's a thriller film. I am playing an Indian guy who comes from India for an assignment, then things start to go wrong. Can't say anymore about it right now as I am bound by a contract.

So going from the big budget films to Shorts. What made you try them out?
I would say, Short films are the new age cinema of today's times. LOC and Office are the two short films that I have acted in and these are still making its round at various film festivals and bringing in accolades. It's another fact totally that I put in my everything irrespective it was a short or a feature. I totally believe it's a new age of cinema and many short films are also clubbed together and are released these days - be it Bombay Talkies or Dus Kahaaniyaan. What is needed most is the honesty in designing a project and if that translates onto screen, you have a winning entry. Let me also tell you that I received this French film (that I was doing) through Nashik International Film Festival. So, in a way, every good work pays.

What projects are you working on now?
I would love to tell you as much as I can but I can't tell you much! There's one big project that I can't talk about because I'm not allowed to. Meanwhile, I have already finished shooting for my French film and right now I'm headed straight to Delhi for the shooting for my next film with Manoj Nautiyal.  I'm missing Mumbai terribly.

Your favourite films / actors, people who have inspired you.
I love reincarnation films and I'm a big fan of Rakesh Roshan, he is the best. My family inspires me a lot, they are my greatest supporters. Right in my debut film, I had the opportunity to work with stalwarts like Naseeruddin Shah, Om Puri and Padmini Kolhapure. They are institutions in acting. However, it's my dream to be working with Govinda - he's one of the best in my opinion and my favorite.

What challenges one has to face in this profession?
It's as good as any other profession; it does however require a lot of focus and patience. You need to be passionate about what you want to achieve. Our film industry accepts anyone that is sincere about their work. Just give your 100% you will achieve what you want in life.

What advice might you have for any young actors trying to make their way into movies?
I think the main thing is that you really have to study and train. Because I think what happens is that if you've really got a good look or if you've got natural talent, talent is not enough, particularly in this day and age. So you may have a particular look but that look may go out of style at some point. Training and skills are the things that will sustain you over time or else it may get more competitive later on. So just try and train and do as many things as you can. Try and have as many experiences as possible, because at the end of the day that's the kind of thing that will keep you in the game. You can be given an opportunity but if you can't capitalize on it that's where the difficult part comes in.

Your Motto in life and what you believe in?
Life is full of surprises; accept whatever may come your way. There is a deep logic behind everything that happens, which we cannot understand at the moment because it's written by God.

That's Rishi for you - eager to please and happy to be working, with not a trace of the ego that could come with working not only in our industry but also for the French film industry.  Meanwhile, one of his films “Jai Jawan Jai Kisaan” released this month where he shared screen space again with Om Puri who’s playing Dr. Rajendra Prasad while he is playing Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru.

Right now, as Rishi prepares for another spin with ‘Zindagi Jhinga La La Re” this time in Delhi with Manoj Mautiyal, he admits that he is not going after volume of jobs: “I'm going after quality. There are a couple of movies I did in the past, but right now my focus is only on quality.” And we wish him all the best and hope he shines like a star in one of the biggest movie franchise of all time.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Manish Mundra's Drishyam / Sundance Institute Screenwriters Lab, 2015 Calls for Submissions for Their First Edition

Manish Mundra’s film production company, Drishyam, in partnership with Sundance Institute, is organising Dhrishyam – Sundance Institute Screenwriters Lab 2015 to be held in Goa April 12-16. The Lab is inviting applications as a part of its Open Submission Process. The deadline for submission of scripts is March 5, 2015.

The Lab is for filmmakers making their first or second narrative feature; we will consider co-writers, writer/directors, or writer/director teams, and the scripts should be independent in terms of story and spirit and also in terms of budget.

The Drishyam Sundance Screenwriters Lab will provide an opportunity for writers to develop their work under the guidance of accomplished international advisors in an environment that encourages storytelling at the highest level.

In order to apply, filmmakers must submit a complete draft of a screenplay as well as supporting materials (cover letter, artistic statement, bio, synopsis, and directing sample if applicable).  Interest and inquires should be directed to drishyamsundancelab@sundance.org

Srinivasan Narayanan, the former Festival Director of Mumbai Film Festival, MAMI who will be heading this initiative says, “With our rich tradition of storytelling, the effort is to hone the skills, open new perspectives in narration and usher in the international idiom in film making to our own tales. To goal is to help Indian films and film makers to find their rightful place in the global space.”

Manish Mundra, the chairman of Drishyam says, “The idea behind Drishyam’s collaboration with the Sundance Screenwriters Lab in India, is to promote and nurture the new breed of young and talented writers and directors and give them an opportunity to be mentored by the finest International filmmakers. “

“The lab will be very beneficial for Indian Cinema in the long run. It goes well with our idea of promoting content driven cinema. Films like Margarita with a Straw, Umreeka and Masaan have come out of Sundance Screenwriters Lab.”

Internationally recognized for its annual Sundance Film Festival, Sundance Institute is a global nonprofit organization founded by Robert Redford in 1981.Through its artistic development programs for directors, screenwriters, producers, composers and playwrights, the Institute seeks to discover and support independent film and theatre artists from the United States and around the world, and to introduce audiences to their new work. The Institute promotes independent storytelling to inform, inspire, and unite diverse populations around the globe. Sundance Institute has nurtured such projects as Born into Brothels, Trouble the Water, Son of Babylon, Umreeka, An Inconvenient Truth, Spring Awakening, I Am My Own Wife, Light in the Piazza and Angels in America.

Drishyam is a company established by Manish Mundra, which is focused on actively working towards contributing to the development of Indian independent cinema. The company has already invested in films that are being recognised internationally, and is in the process of finalizing more projects for the upcoming year. The journey started with the film Ankhon Dekhi directed by Rajat Kapoor. The film was one of the best-reviewed films in India in 2014 and was critically acclaimed for its simplicity, philosophy, ensemble cast and acting. The two projects that followed Ankhon Dekhi won great accolades as well - Umrika, directed by Prasant Nair won the Audience Choice Award at Sundance Film Festival 2015 and Dhanak directed by Nagesh Kuknoor won the Grand Prix award and Crystal Bear Special Mention at Berlinale 2015 – Generation Kplus. Committed to its cause of developing and nurturing film talent in India, the company has also partnered with the Sundance Institute to set up a Screenwriters' Lab in India.

Mumbai Film Festival collaborates with Toronto International Film Festival

It’s get-set-go for the recently appointed Mumbai Film Festival leadership team that is busy gearing up for the 17th Mumbai Film Festival scheduled to be held from 29th October - 5th November 2015.

The MAMI team is happy to announce a collaboration between the Mumbai Academy of Moving Image  (MAMI) and Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) that will include a series of workshops led by Cameron Bailey, Artistic Director, TIFF and Natalie Lue, Vice-President, Production and Visitor Experience, TIFF. They will visit Mumbai this week to share their experience, learnings and insights over the years from TIFF with the MAMI team. TIFF is recognised as one of the most successful Film Festivals around the world. Traditionally, many Best Picture Oscar winners come out of the Toronto Film Festival.

The workshops have been enabled by the generous support of the Canadian General Counsel of Mumbai.  Welcoming the TIFF team to Mumbai, Mr. Richard Bale, Consul General of Canada in Mumbai said, “TIFF is one of the world’s premier film events and the Consulate is very pleased to support the visit of its Artistic Director Cameron Bailey. We look forward to ongoing collaboration between TIFF and MAMI in the coming years. The Consulate’s support is part of our ongoing promotion of the Canada-India Audiovisual Coproduction Treaty, which came into force on July 1, 2014. The Treaty facilitates and provides incentives to Canadian and Indian producers and filmmakers to combine their creative, technical and financial resources to create joint work.”

Cameron Bailey, Artistic Director of the Toronto International Film Festival, said: "Mumbai is one of the world's great film cities and deserves a great film festival. I was impressed by how the city's film community rallied to support MAMI last year.    The Toronto International Film Festival is glad to help our colleagues in Mumbai build a strong, sustainable celebration of cinema”.

Kiran Rao, Chairperson, MAMI, said: “The Toronto International Film Festival is one of the leading festivals of the world, and we're really excited to have the Artistic Director Mr Cameron Bailey here in Mumbai to do a workshop with us as we create a new blueprint for the Mumbai Film Festival. My film "Dhobi Ghat" premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival, and as a filmmaker I couldn't have asked for a better platform as it is truly one of the most well attended, audience-friendly festivals in the world. We are really grateful that he is taking the time out to do this with us and we look forward to gaining many insights from his experience.”

The recently appointed MAMI team members who will put together their expertise and experience to bring Mumbai and India a bigger, better and even more exciting 17th edition of the Mumbai Film Festival that include Chairperson, Kiran Rao and Festival Director, Anupama Chopra. The members of the new Board of Trustees are Filmmakers Anurag Kashyap, Farhan Akhtar, Karan Johar, Vikramaditya Motwane, Actor Riteish Deshmukh, Actress Deepika Padukone, Mr. Anand Mahindra, Chairman & MD, Mahindra Group, Mr. Ajay Bijli, Chairman and MD, PVR Pvt. and Mr. Siddharth Roy Kapur, MD, Disney. 

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Pati, Patni aur Love Test on Bal Gopal Kare Dhamaal

Love knows no boundaries. Living up to this quote this week on Bal Gopal, Sharma Ji’s wife Sadhna will put Gopal Sharma on love test. Sharma Ji who lives a mundane life, gets into another mess created by his wife. Catch the entertaining episode coated with love today at 8:30 PM on Big Magic.  

During a gossip session, Sadhna and her friends decide to test their husband’s love for them. Sadhna asks Sharma Ji if he still loves her to which he gets surprised. Sadhna further asks him to write seven sacred marriage vows to prove his profound love for her which he refuses to do. Sadhna is annoyed with him and decides to leave the house. On the other hand Sharma ji’s son Ravi is also angry with him and thinks that his father doesn’t love him anymore. Just when everything seems upside down in Sharma Ji’s life, Bal Gopal comes to his rescue and does the trick. What trick will Bal Gopal play to rescue Sharma Ji?

Will Sharma Family learn its lesson? Catch Sharma Ji proving his love to Sadhna in the love test on Bal Gopal today at 8:30 PM on Big Magic.

FOODFOOD bags four awards at the 7th Golden Star Awards

FOODFOOD, India’s premier 24x7 food lifestyle channel, bagged four awards at the prestigious 7th Golden Star Awards 2015. The award ceremony which recognises the best in the travel, food, hotel & hospitality industry, awarded FoodFood with the titles of ‘Most Admired Food Brand for the Year’, ‘Best Celebrity Host – Chef Amrita Rai Chand’, ‘Best On Ground Food Brand Promotion Event. “Maa Ki Daal” and ‘Best Event Manager – “Suman Chandra”.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr. SK Barua (CEO - Turmeric Vision Pvt. Ltd.) says, “We are elated that FoodFood has been recognised by the Golden Star Awards for our work in the Hospitality sector and our efforts in bringing people closer to food. Ever since we have changed our stance towards laying greater emphasis on the element of food lifestyle, we have been able to broaden our horizons and create a greater reach with our audience. Gaining recognition from Golden Star helps us validate our work of going in the right direction.”

Going forward, FoodFood aims to create more such content that provides viewers with thought-provoking and insightful looks into how eating habits and traditions are inextricably linked to personal identity, lifestyle and history.

Shekhar Suman launches Author Zaarra’s "The Forbidden One"

Leadstart Publishing along with Crossword Bookstores hosted a book launch today. The afternoon saw the launch of Zaara Khader’s book The Forbidden One. Veteran actor and TV personality, Shekhar Suman launched the book.

Author Zaara Khader said," The Forbidden One is a compilation of short stories - the chronicle of characters who, in some way or the other, are either excluded or restrained or tattooed ‘promiscuous’ by the society. The emotions are very well described so one can relate to it. One will relate to the book very well as it makes you feel your forbidden experiences and thats the essence of it.

Shekhar Suman, Veteran Actor and TV personality, expressed himself by saying," I like reading books. The book is very well written and the short stories are wonderfully presented. I wish Zaarra good luck and hope everyone enjoys reading it."

Mr. Swarup Nanda, CEO of Leadstart Publishing said, “Leadstart Publishing is extremely happy to have associated with the event. The topic gains relevance and am sure a lot will relate to it. We sincerely thank Shekhar Suman for gracing us at the event.”

The Forbidden One is a compilation of short stories - the chronicle of characters who, in some way or the other, are either excluded or restrained or tattooed ‘promiscuous’ by the society. Malicious and primitive in its ways, pushing such people on the periphery is bourgeois. Yet such people have a life of their own and as we go delve deeper into the lives of these characters we discover strengths, self-belief and even a sense of ease with which these characters go about their daily chores. Each of the ten tales here is set in the deep ocean of human emotions. Except that some of these emotions find their expressions in forms that are supposed to be suppressed as per the norms and inherited wisdom of the society.

Zaarra is a media professional who got enticed into the profession of expressions at an early age even though she studied to be an engineer. From hosting radio shows, producing TV shows and conceptualizing events and engagement platforms she has been in the business of entertainment, communication and sponsorships for almost a decade now. Crafty with words and sensitive to emotions to the core she discovered an urge to reach out to the world and cage their imagination with a few characters and tales which seemed familiar yet unknown. Writing comes to her naturally as does creating characters that are so real that you can almost touch and feel them. Having written some impressive jingles for the advertising world followed her lyrical venture on contemporary Sufism, her compilation of stories here is more about characters who display exemplary resilience in their pursuits to follow their heart without a bother of what the society thinks of them or defines them as.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Actress Jaya Prada conferred Doctorate in Arts & Culture, by Desh Bhagat University

Actress and politician Jaya Prada added another feather to her cap, in the form of a Doctorate in Arts & Culture. The gorgeous and talented actress has to her credit block-buster Hindi movies like Sharaabi, Sargam, Sanjog, and Kaamchor among others. Jaya Prada has acted in over 300 films in Hindi, Telagu, Tamil, Malayalam, Marathi, Kannada, Bengali and English languages.

The beautiful actor who started acting in films from the young age of 13 years received the Honoris Causa Degree of Doctorate in Arts and Culture from Desh Bhagat University, Punjab. Dr. Jaya Prada is a commerce graduate and has been actively involved in the field of education through her charitable Trust. She is the founder of Jaya Prada Charitable Trust, Jaya Prada Educational Society and Nishtha Foundation. It is her firm belief in the power of education that spurred her to setup the Neelaveni Krishna School of Nursing, Rampur in 2009. Her charitable trust has also provided skill based education to the youth of this country, in the form of computer education to over 15,000 students, Basic Teachers Training Courses, and Jaya Prada College of Law in year 2010.

Speaking about the doctorate, Jaya Prada says: “Today is a very happy and proud day for me that my contribution to the field of arts and culture has been recognised. The people of Punjab have loved me unconditionally over the years, and this is yet another instance of their love for me. People of Punjab have loved me as an actress, supported me as a politician, encouraged me as an artist and now honoured me for my contributions. I was conferred the Doctorate in the presence of over 1200 students, who are the future of this country. Through this recognition, I would like to tell the youth of this country, that education is the tool to strengthen us as individuals, and to take our country forward. Education provides us the stepping stone to take up careers of our choices as politicians, doctors, engineers and such. Education is the single levelling tool which makes no discrimination between girl or boy, and gives everyone the same opportunity to move ahead in life.”

Along with Dr. Jaya Prada, Sudhir Giri, Chancellor of Sri Venkateshwara University was also conferred the Doctorate in Education at the function. Inspired by the movement of Late Shri. N.T. Rama Rao, Dr. Jaya Prada had joined politics in 1994 at his invitation for the upliftment of poor, downtrodden, destitute and for the larger welfare of society. She became the Member of Parliament, Rajya Sabha (1995-2002). In 2004, this daughter of Andhra Pradesh moved to Uttar Pradesh, contested and won Lok Sabha elections from Rampur constituency. She again won General Elections in 2009 from Rampur constituency and has worked tirelessly for the welfare of the masses.

Dr. Jaya Prada has been the Member, Committee of Industry, Committee on External Affairs, Committee on the Welfare of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes and Consultative Committee, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting during her tenure as Member of Rajya Sabha (1996-2002). During 2004-09 she has been Member, Committee on Information Technology, Committee on Empowerment of Women and Member, Parliamentary Forum on Water Conservation & Management. Since 2009, she was elected for second term as Member of Lok Sabha again from Rampur, and she is actively working as Member, Committee on Finance and Committee on Information and Broadcasting.

The actress has received four Filmfare Awards as Best Actress for her roles in Sargam(1979), Sharabi (1984), Sanjog(1985) and Sagar Sangaman. She has also been conferred Rajiv Gandhi award for her contribution to the field of cinema and Kala Saraswathi Award for her contribution to the field of art. After her hiatus from the movie industry, Dr. Jaya Prada will be shortly making her comeback to the silver screen though a Malayalam movie.