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A subculture of serious filmmaking

28 Feb

“As an independent filmmaker, I have to depend on a lot of other people to market the film.” Sudhish Kamath, director of Good Night Good Morning

On the top: Sudhish Kamath’s Good Night Good Morning was shown at the Transylvania and Noordelijk festivals as well as MAMI 2010

Without a Khan or an item number, indie films find it hard to survive. Undeterred, indie films today are well on their way to creating their own space

Bollywood films are known world over for their eye-candy dance numbers, catchy songs and distinct run times. What makes this industry uniquely distinctive is the number of movies it churns out every year. India as a country has no singular identity, yet it is commonly mistaken that we have a singular cinema. The audiences are made to assume that any Indian director producing a film has the backing of the fraternity. But most Indian films are non-commercial, about 90-120 minutes in duration, and grapple with ground realities existing in India.

Welcome to the world of indie cinema where directors face a Sisyphean struggle to find distribution for their work, not to mention an audience. Indie film director and one of Bollywood’s finest yester year actors, Amol Palekar in one of his interviews had once said that independent movies in Indian cinema fail to garner enough support from the audience and that there was no platform to showcase smaller films. We agree.

Sudhish Kamath, director of The F Word Twice and Good Night Good Morning, says independent cinema is ironical. “As an independent filmmaker, I have to depend on a lot of other people to market the film,” he says.

With many a mainstream film crowding and bombarding multiplexes, there is no visibility for different films as they get just two shows compared to the 19 shows that bigger films enjoy. I AM director Onir, suggests that the pricing at multiplexes for indie films should be less in order to allow more people to watch the film. “Ticket pricing is killing independent cinema. As we are making independent films, what we need to recover is much less so having them priced at Rs.150 to Rs.400 doesn’t fit the bill.”

Indie filmmakers eventually resort to film festivals but their films are not just meant for a niche audience and movie-goers need to be made aware of it. “Another way to accumulate a bigger audience for indie films is if Doordarshan bought them at a decent price, three months after its release. It has such a huge reach and I think it’s an excellent medium,” opines Onir.

Kamath’s film Good Night Good Morning wowed the crowds in Transylvania and Noordeljik festivals and was premiered at MAMI, 2010 but did not garner enough publicity in Hyderabad when it premiered last month. It ran for only six days and not many knew about it. “Anurag Kashyap who has made six films so far has an audience of 50,000 people. I started out with a zero audience and for this film elsewhere, I had about 500-1,000 people who had come down to watch it. So it’s definitely a start,” says Kamath. “But to say that channels like Doordarshan should buy the film, what we as filmmakers also need to understand is whether it is sustainable for the channel. Do they have the kind of audience you are aiming for? GNGM is for a niche audience as it is made in English,” he says.

The films and filmmakers discussed above represent a new age in Indian cinema, one that stays away from rose-coloured fiction. And this new kind of auteur-ship is not to be underestimated. Youngsters today, film students or otherwise, are taking their own cameras, shooting their stories and are expressing their concerns. This is gathering to be one huge oppositional form of art to the bigger, Bollywood narrative that has been developing for decades now.

Indie movies

  1. Amu
  2. That Girl in Yellow Boots
  3. Manorama Six Feet Under
  4. Dev D
  5. Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi

13 positive habits that I picked up along the way

15 Oct

Everyone goes through ups and downs in life and it is rather normal. But once you are done moping, crying your heart out, and stopped thinking about the negativities that bring you down, you will slowly realize that you can fight the sadness. This isn’t something that happens overnight. It takes time. It takes patience and a lot of strength.

Of course, you want to be happy too but when we are at our weakest, we feel the need to rely on others to make us happy. Sometimes it helps, sometimes it doesn’t. There will be lots of people telling you lots of different things but there is only so much that people will and can do. The rest is up to you. Trust me, there will be only so many times that your friends or family will hear your heartbreak story. Beyond that, no one really cares. It’s not to say that they don’t want to be there for you in your hour of need but then everyone has a lot going on too. Each one of us is fighting a battle, silently.

Some people rely on friends and family to get through hard times. Some just need time by themselves to feel better. I chose the latter. I took time off from everything. Friends, work and social media since it practically runs our days. It took me 3 months but I am here, writing this. Sharing my journey that I am not ashamed of.

When I first started out, I was super weak and I had no strength in me to see this through. I didn’t think I would ever be ok. To be honest, I still am not but at least I am in control of my emotions now and that’s progress, however small it may be in the larger scheme of things.

The following habits take a while to get a hang of but make an effort and tell yourself that you can do this. Don’t let your emotions control you but learn to control them.

1. Empathise. Empathise. Empathise

I cannot stress on this habit enough. The importance of being empathetic cannot be overstated. We always talk about being human, but we also need to be humane. Just because it’s not happening to you right now does not mean that you will not go through the same situation a couple days, weeks, months or years later. Try and empathize with what the other person might be feeling at that particular moment by putting yourself in their shoes. It’s a remarkably eye-opening and liberating experience. It’s helped me understand myself a lot better.

2. Karma works

When you are at your lowest low, you may feel that life’s being unfair to you. No, not really. Sometimes we do things without realizing like we may have hurt someone or said something to somebody without really having an intention to. When life throws a hard situation at you, it’s only trying to correct what you must have done wrong in the past. Live through that and be good to others and genuine in your actions.

Like my grandmum always says, “Do good and then just forget about it. Stop expecting anything in return.”

3. Talk to people and see if they need your help

A lot of people are going through a lot worse than you are. Now, I am not saying that your problems are not important; they are. But, there is also someone out there who is going through an unimaginable loss and someone who could feel better if you spent a couple of minutes talking to them or just listening to their problems. Find that one person who you haven’t been able to keep in touch with and just talk. Share the pain. Without realizing you may (or just might) change the course of their lives, not instantly, but maybe over time. It honestly is a good feeling.

4. Make lists

Lists always help. Whether it is grocery shopping, or just an appointment at the spa, PUT IT ON THE LIST! There is nothing more satisfying than crossing things off! An uncanny sort of adrenaline rush.

5. Work on that hobby that you put on the back-burner

There is no better way to keep yourself occupied than learning something new. This could be anything. With our full-time jobs, some of the things that bring us comfort are locked up in boxes and shoved under the cupboard. Take those boxes out, dust them and find yourself working on that hobby that you love.

I love food so I will watch anything that deals with the subject. I love to cook and its therapy for me. So, I took my time off and decided to focus on those two things – food and writing. That’s how I finally got to set up my food blog. It has about 66 likes but it’s a start!

It will take time to build and reach your goal but you will get there. Just keep at it.

 6Listen to yourself

There will be lots of people saying lots of different things. But, you need to be strong enough to understand what’s good for you and what’s not. Listen to what everyone has to say but at the end of the day, filter it out and do what is good for you. You are important and only you can heal yourself.

7. Laugh out Loud

Remember LOL? Well, most people just say it without really meaning it. Practise laughing out loud. Watch something that cracks you up and has happy tears running down your eyes. Tell a joke, read a comic. Whatever it is that is going to have you in splits. I started watching Saturday Night Live to liven up my spirits when thoughts of despair clogged my overworked brain.

8. Cut off from everything that may be bringing you down

You are going to come across different types of people in life and you do not need to be everyone’s friend. The hardest of times show the truest of friends. When I was at my dullest, I decided to cut off from everything and everyone that was bringing me down. I deactivated my Facebook account, I stopped checking Instagram, deleted Snapchat. I also stepped away from friends for a little while, quit going out when it was not needed. It was nice to be surrounded by people but then when you are going through a rough patch in life, you will know who your friends are. Hang on to the ones who were there for you and show the respectable finger to the rest of them.

You are not a machine. You feel and you have a heart. Do this because it’s good for you and do not put yourself in a situation where you come out upset and a lot more depressed. You do not need that right now. You need to heal so step away for a while. Those who really care for you, be it friends or family, will find a way to keep in touch.

9. Encourage others to do good

Do not be preachy but encourage others to do something good. If you notice that someone at work or school or among your friends is doing something that is worthy of appreciation, let them know. You never know. Encouraging someone to follow their heart makes them believe in themselves and this, I feel, is important. We need a lot more people to truly believe in themselves and have faith in what they do. Be it two words, they need that tug of good-willingness.

10. Embrace your emotions

Do not be ashamed of letting go. Do not be afraid to break down every once in a while to empty yourself of feelings that may destroy you if bottled up. Find an outlet for these emotions. For me, it’s usually writing or just watching something till I know I have cleansed myself and driven past that negative feeling.

11. Judge less, accept more

I have always been quite judgmental before but I have learnt that it doesn’t do me any good. No one is perfect including me. Everyone is the way they are for a reason. There is probably a lot more to them than meets the eye. Step back a little and do not judge anyone for who they might have been in their weakest moment. They, too, may be fighting a battle that we know nothing of. If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.

12. Follow your heart

I believe that each one of us has a story to tell, and a purpose to serve. I have always followed my heart and did things that made me happy. I still continue to do so. Use your head too because it’s within your mind where everything starts and it’s what lets you feel those deep-ended emotions.

13. Choose Happiness

In the end, choose to be happy. It’s a choice that varies in substance for people, so you need to create your own bubble of happy thoughts and run to it when you are on the down-low. It’s your choice to be happy. Let go of the worries and the things you do not have the power to change. Believe that it will come to you when it has to. For now, focus on yourself and the good things that you can give, create, inspire and choose to experience. Right here. Right now.

 

I do not mean to be preachy or sound like one of those articles on the internet where people just list out things. But this is me. This is my experience and this is what I have done in the past couple of months to help myself become a better person.

Whoever is reading this, know that it’s going to be ok in the end. Don’t change or stop for anyone or anything. Be true to yourself!

August Positive Affirmations Wallpaper2

 

23 Sep

Finding-an-Oasis-of-Stillness-in-a-Fast-Moving-World

Find stillness.
The noise of the world is a dull roar that pervades every second of our lives ~Babauta

Celebration of Food

31 Aug

A brilliant treat for ardent foodies, Khan Saab does more than just impress. It leaves a lasting impression even after you have long left its carpeted floors

Before this, I firmly believed that money can’t buy happiness. But my visit to Khan Saab had me re-thinking about that statement. It’s true! Nothing works better on your mood than a plate of the most delectable delicacies.

Now, there is some food that cannot be recreated in any other form except its original and the menu at Khan Saab reads Indian ethnic food, page after page. With the menu quite in place, the ambiance of the restaurant speaks grandness in and around the massive space. Well lit up with candle chandeliers, the expansive dining room is beautifully set up with rich brown teak wood furniture with silver crockery ornamenting each table. A carpeted stairwell (much like the one you have seen in the dining hall in Titanic) takes you to the first floor which is reserved for a large party or get-together.

While sipping on some Badam Thandai which was a concoction of dry fruits and aromatic spices with a spicy after taste, we glanced at the extensive, bookish menu. What stands out at Khan Saab is that it seems to have achieved the right balance in recreating dishes served in the durbars of the emperors of the North-west frontier. The best part about it is that it has an elaborate spread of both vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes.

To start with, we were served Palak chaat which was fresh spinach leaves dipped in batter and fried to the crisp with a topping of refrigerated yoghurt and flavoured with tamarind chutney and sprinkled with sev. Restrain from filling yourself up with it. The Cheez Subz Di Kurkure was crunchy wheat warq rolls filled with cheese, mushroom and potato.

As we lay back, letting some of the starters settle in, sipping on some more of the Badam Thandai, the crunchy Gosht ke Gappe arrived. Filled with cooked, tender mutton stuffed in a poori, they were quite interesting. Now, Khan Saab is popular for their juiciest kebabs and we didn’t forget to order that. We tried every dish that had kebab at the end. So whether it was the Tunde Kebab which was a mix of exotic spices in patties of meat grounded to perfection or the Malai Chandi Kebab which was char-grilled morsels of flavourful chicken served with lemon juice and melted butter. They were all just simply mouth-watering!

As much as we were stuffed and ready to pass out, the main course looked delectable and definitely worth a try. The Rajwada Raj Gosht, a delicacy from Rajasthan had succulent pieces of lamb soaked in a flavourful, thick gravy served with a condiment of butter naan.

Satisfied and much rounder at the end of our gluttonous ordeal, it’s guaranteed that you need an unlimited appetite if you choose to dine at Khan Saab. Bon apetit!

THE JEWEL OF THE RED SEA

31 Aug

Pillar of Faith: The powerful silhouette of this mosque, one of three set as pavilions along the corniche of Jeddah, facing the Red Sea

The undisputed commercial capital of Saudi Arabia, Jeddah is not only known for food and shopping but also for its warm hospitality

Being brought up in Jeddah and living there for 18 years has made me understand the culture and norms of an Islamic city which is clouded in constant doubt. So this post is an account of my personal experiences over the years and is more of a travelogue for tourists who wish to the jewel of the Red Sea.

Not only the oldest but the second largest city in the Kingdom, Jeddah, when literally translated means “grandmother”. Spread along the coast of the Red Sea and connected by the Corniche which is nearly 30kms long, Jeddah is one of the country’s most liberal and cosmopolitan of destinations. Whether you are taking a stroll down by the seaside or smoking shisha in one of the many cafes, you will find that Jeddah has a very laid-back and relaxed feel. With a major foreign influence, it comes as no surprise that Jeddah offers a wealth of lavish shopping and dining opportunities.

WHAT YOU CAN DO IN JEDDAH

There are a whole bunch of activities to do while you are in Jeddah, whether you are visiting the city with family or friends. Children can never get bored as Jeddah has a variety of theme parks like At­allah Happy Land Park or Al-Sha­llal, which has everything from a double looped roller coaster to an Olympic-sized ice rink. Apart from theme parks, scuba diving is a favourite activity not just for Saudis but for expats as well. Desert Sea Divers in Obhur which is about 40km north of Je­ddah is the oldest and largest diving spot. If you are interested to spend the holidays on the coast, then there are a whole lot of private beaches at Durrat-ul-Arous, Desert Sea Divers, Al-Nakil, Salhia etc.

SHOPPING

A bit of both: The old city of Al-Balad is situated to the south of the Corniche. It is famous for fantastic gold souks, perfumes, latest gadgets and clothes

This one’s for the ladies exclusively! You might think but Jeddah has something for men too. One of the biggest and most famous marketplaces in Jeddah is Al-Balad (Old Town) within which you will find an array of ancient buildings which house tiny markets offering the latest gadgets, clothes and shoes. If you are looking for a more modern shopping experience, it wouldn’t be too hard to find. The city is packed to the brim with extravagant malls like Aziz Mall,Tahliya Mall, Mall of Arabia, Andalus mall etc.

NIGHTLIFE

If you are looking for a nightlife that revolves around alcohol, then you would be highly disappointed. What Jeddah really offers is shisha cafes, lounges and internationally recognised, coffee houses like Starbucks, Costa Coffee and Barnies.

RESTAURANTS

Jeddah boasts of some of the world’s best cuisines and also has most of the American Fast Food franchises like Subway, Applebees, Chillies,Tony Roma’s and Burger King. The most popular of them all, however, is Al-Baik which serves the best crispy-fried chicken in the world! Shawarma is also quite popular. It is chicken/lamb/beef with garlic sauce wrapped in pita bread.

BEST MONTHS TO TRAVEL – December to April

THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND

  1. The Religious Police, or muttawas, do not allow for public displays of religion by non-Muslims. Do not wear any religious symbols or icons, this may find you behind bars.
  2. Foreign men do not have to conform to special attire, but those visitors with long hair should expect to attract unwanted attention.
  3. Insulting the royal family or the king can result in a death penalty. Severe restrictions apply to women including being prohibited from driving, and foreign females are expected to abide by the same rules.
  4. All women (foreign or national) are required to wear an abaya (a long black robe) or a headscarf. The wearing of these items will minimise the amount of harassment you get from the muttawas (religious police).
  5. All businesses close for prayer for about half an hour at noon and at sunset.

HOW TO OBTAIN A VISA TO JEDDAH

Hajj visas are only available during the month of Hajj but Umrah visas are available all year round. Tourists may need to check the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website at http://www.mofa.gov.sa for guidelines when applying for a visa and the form needs to be filled out in Arabic. However, non-muslims are not allowed in the cities of Makkah and Madinah which are considered as the holy cities by Muslims.