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Hollywood can learn from Bollywood how to embrace its Culture “naturally”

According to famous Hollywood production designer Jess Gonchor, Hollywood can learn a thing or two from Bollywood's natural larger-than-life grandeur

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Indian movie posters, Flickr
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New Delhi, Jan 12, 2017: Apart from the dance and drama of Bollywood, Jess Gonchor is captivated by how the Indian film industry puts pieces of Indian culture into its storylines. The American production designer (“The Devil Wears Prada”, et al) feels Hollywood can learn from the glitzy Hindi filmdom how to embrace its culture “naturally”.

It is the larger-than-life canvas, splashed with music and dance sequences, that defines Bollywood for many. But for Gonchor, Indian cinema is a reflection of its diverse culture.

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“The movies have bold moves… They embrace what is out there and is inevitable… And also about embracing the culture and representing India as it is. We can do something on the same lines… Maybe we can get the US to learn to take what is out there, what is naturally beautiful in itself, without changing anything,” Gonchor told IANS over the phone from Los Angeles.

Since he speaks so fondly of the industry, how much does he really know of Bollywood?

Gonchor said he finds it very colourful. And even though he admits he’s no expert on it, he feels it is “very saturated and bold”.

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Gonchor infuses life into different stories with his production designs. He entered the industry with “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III” in 1993. But he came into the limelight with his work on Bennett Miller’s “Capote”, “The Devil Wears Prada”, “No Country for Old Men”, “Burn After Reading”, “Foxcatcher” and “Hail, Caesar!”.

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He also went back in time to recreate the 1920 era for Ben Affleck’s “Live By Night”. The gangster drama, backed by Warner Bros, is slated to release in India on Friday.

“Live by Night”, based on the award-winning best-seller by Dennis Lehane, narrates the story of a son of an honest Boston-Irish policeman who works his way up in the world of organised crime. It is a tale about family, friendship, fate, luck and loyalty.

Along with starring in “Live By Night”, Affleck has written, directed and produced the gangster film. It also stars Elle Fanning, Brendan Gleeson, Chris Messina, Zoe Saldana and Chris Cooper.

Gonchor says creating a contrasting world of Boston and Florida in 1920 was fun, but challenging too.

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“It was a wonderful experience to get to recreate the contrasting world that they are… It was challenging too. Most of the film is creating Florida and Boston in Los Angeles, and LA has changed. It is all modern and it is not even like what it was 10 years ago,” said the Academy Award-nominated production designer.

Gonchor had one point clear when he picked the clean slate to draw upon — and that was his desire to highlight harsh times as well as the goodness among people.

“We tried to create a sort of colder monochromatic vibe of what that time was,” said Gonchor, who was born in New York in 1962.

Affleck has time and again emphasised that “Live By Night” is his homage to classics. Gonchor said he worked on Affleck’s vision of the history, but with some customisation.

The film is creating a lot of Oscar buzz. What are his hopes?

“You certainly don’t work for all these things, but you hope for some recognition in some way because you worked really hard on these things. But I try not to get caught up in all these things. It is nice if it happens… It is true that it is the journey not the destination that matters.” (IANS)

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Mahalaya: Beginning of “Devipaksha” in Bengali Celebration of ‘Durga Puja’

“Mahalaya” is the auspicious occasion that marks the beginning of “Devipaksha” and the ending of “Pitripaksha” and heralds the celebration of Durga Puja

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Mahalaya morning in Kolkata. Flickr
  • Mahalaya 2017 Date: 19th september.
  • On Mahalaya, people throng to the holy river Ganges in order to pay homage to their ancestors and forefathers; which is called ‘Torpon’
  • Mahalaya remains incomplete without the magical chanting of the scriptural verses from the ‘Chandi Kavya’ that is broadcasted in All India Radio
  • The magic is induced by the popular Birendra Krishna Bhadra whose voice makes the recitation of the “Chandi Kavya” even more magnificent

Sept 19, 2017: Autumn is the season of the year that sees the Hindus, all geared up to celebrate some of the biggest festivals of India. The festive spirit in the Bengalis all enthused to prepare for the greatest of the festivals, the ‘Durga Puja’.

About Mahalaya:

Mahalaya is the auspicious occasion that marks the beginning of “Devipaksha” and the ending of “Pitripaksha,” and this year it is celebrated on September 19.

Observed exactly a week before the ‘Durga Puja’, Mahalaya is the harbinger of the arrival of Goddess Durga. It is celebrated to invoke the goddess possessing supreme power! The goddess is invited to descend on earth and she is welcomed with devotional songs and holy chants of mantras. On this day, the eye is drawn in the idols of the Goddess by the artisans marking the initiation of “Devipaksha”. Mahalaya arrives and the countdown to the Durga Puja begins!

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The day of Mahalaya bears supreme significance to the Bengalis. The day is immensely important because on this day people throng to the holy river Ganges in order to pay homage to their ancestors and forefathers. Clad in white dhotis, people offer prayers and take dips in the river while praying for their demised dear ones. The ritual is popular as “Torpon”.

Mahalaya
An idol-maker in progress of drawing the eye in the idol of the Goddess. Wikipedia

As per Hindu myth, on “Devipaksha”, the Gods and the Goddesses began their preparations to celebrate “Mahamaya” or Goddess Durga, who was brought upon by the trinity- Brahma, Vishnu, and Maheshwara; to annihilate the fierce demon king named Mahishasura. The captivating story of the Goddess defeating the demon got popularized with the goddess being revered as “Durgatinashini” or the one who banishes all the evils and miseries of the world. The victory of the Goddess is celebrated as ‘Durga Puja’.

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Mahalaya remains incomplete without the magical chanting of the scriptural verses from the ‘Chandi Kavya’ that is broadcasted at dawn in All India Radio in the form of a marvelous audio montage enthralling the souls of the Bengalis. Presented with wonderful devotional music, acoustic drama, and classical songs- the program is also translated to Hindi and played for the whole pan-Indian listeners.

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Mahalaya
Birendra Krishna Bhadra (1905-1991). Wikipedia

The program is inseparable from Mahalaya and has been going on for over six decades till date. The magic is induced by the popular Birendra Krishna Bhadra whose voice makes the recitation of the “Chandi Kavya” even more magnificent! He has been a legend and the dawn of Mahalaya turns insipid without the reverberating and enchanting voice of the legendary man.

Mahalaya will keep spreading the magic and setting the vigor of the greatest festival of the Bengalis- the Durga Puja, to worship the supreme Goddess, eternally.

                 “Yaa Devi Sarbabhuteshu, Shakti Rupena Sanhsthita,

                     Namastaswai Namastaswai Namastaswai Namo Namaha.”

– by Antara Kumar of NewsGram. Twitter: @ElaanaC