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Kavery Kaul on mission to explore ‘shifting sands of culture’

Kavita Kaul's documentaries tell stories that cross boundaries to explore the shifting sands of culture, race, class and belonging.

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Kavery Kaul Image: kaverykaul.com

New York: Kavery Kaul is addressing the engagement between people of different cultures and faiths via her film “Streetcar to Kolkata”. The filmmaker, who is a name to reckon with in the world of documentary-making, says she likes to pan the camera to mirror the “shifting sands of culture, race, class and belonging”.

Kaul shared that her journey from India to a different culture of the US turned out to be an inspiration for her to explore the film-making business.

“Every family has its own treasure chest of stories. I grew up with stories about India’s fight for independence from the British and the partition that followed. And then, there were stories of life at the sometimes-challenging, sometimes-comic, always-memorable intersection of the India my family came from and the America we came to. For all of us, the stories we’ve heard shape our beliefs, our practices and our perspective of the world,” span.state.gov quoted Kaul as saying.

Kaveri Kaul interview Image: Youtube
Kaveri Kaul interview. Image: Youtube

A graduate of Harvard University, Kaul has been awarded a Fulbright Fellowship, a New York Foundation for the Arts Artist’s Fellowship, multiple New York State Council on the Arts grants and two National Endowment for the Arts awards.

Also Read: Khundongbam: A young filmmaker who wants the world to know about Manipur

The Fulbright Fellowship gave her the opportunity to research and film her latest documentary “Streetcar to Kolkata”. Kaul teaches at Columbia University in New York, where her courses include works by people of different races, cultures, religions and genders.

Kaul, who picks up subjects like brain injuries, Calypso music, religion and Cuban art, added: “In my case, as a student at Harvard, I heard that a new and unusual course on the films of the Indian director Satyajit Ray was being offered by an Englishman on the faculty. How could I not be inspired by Ray’s nuanced stories of the human experience in the face of overwhelming social and economic forces?

“In those days, I also frequented New York City’s art-house theaters. There, I saw Sarah Maldoror’s ‘Sambizanga’, a film about the Angolan War of Independence against the Portuguese. It was such a strong, moving story of a struggle against colonial powers. These stories held resonance for me. These directors made me want to be a filmmaker too.”

Talking about cross-cultural themes, she said: “My documentaries tell stories that cross boundaries to explore the shifting sands of culture, race, class and belonging. Like the girls in ‘Long Way From Home’, I attended American independent schools and, later, an Ivy League college.”

As an advice to young Indians boarding flight to the US to pursue a career in the arts, Kaul says “Keep an open mind. Remember that America means Mark Twain and Toni Morrison, Junot Díaz and Jhumpa Lahiri. Take it all in. At the same time, hold on to who you are and the creativity that only you can offer as someone whose artistic vision stems from India, even as those roots mingle with your discovery of America.”(IANS)

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Divya Khosla Kumar wishes to make ‘Women Oriented Films’ now

The filmmaker has previously made films like "Yaariyan" and "Sanam Re"

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Divya Khosla Kumar. Wikimedia
Divya Khosla Kumar. Wikimedia

New Delhi, October 16, 2017 : Filmmaker Divya Khosla Kumar, who has made films like “Yaariyan” and “Sanam Re”, says she would love to make women oriented films as women are now in every field and doing wonders.

“I would love to if I get an amazing script,” said Divya. However, when it comes to actress, she feels that choice is completely dependent on character.

“I don’t have actress or actor in mind as I feel character gives you definition of whom you should cast,” said the filmmaker was set to walk the runway as a showstopper for designer Charu Parashar at Amazon India Fashion Week (AIFW) Spring- Summer 2018 on Sunday.

ALSO READ Hardly any films that celebrate Female Bonding, says Filmmaker Aparna Sen

Parashar will showcase a collection titled ‘Immortelle’ that derives inspiration from the Victorian glass house through its lush flora and fauna and the undying spirit of a woman.

Talking about the designer, Divya Khosla Kumar said: “The cloth has fitted me so beautifully I like the concept as it showcases women undying spirit. Women work so hard. I think it is time to pay homage to them as they never give up and this is what the line celebrates.”

Talking about how the role of women has changed in the film industry, she says, “Initially it was very male dominated and there were hardly any women director but now women have entered everywhere and they are making their mark. I think its more to do with talent than differentiating on gender.” (IANS)

 

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Las Vegas Massacre Begs the Question: Who Regulates Gun Selling?

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Lass Vegas massacre
Las Vegas Metro Police and medical workers stage in the intersection of Tropicana Avenue and Las Vegas Boulevard South after a mass shooting at a music festival on the Las Vegas Strip in Las Vegas, Nevada, Oct. 1, 2017. VOA
  • By Salil Gewali

Oct 08, 2017: Money can do any harmful thing. Yes, now it seems that one can buy lethal weapons as easily as he buys his bread and butter from a store and the recent las vegas massacre proves this. How many have such violent cases happened in a couple of years? They are countless. They all have instantly extinguished the lives of endless innocent people. Sometimes Mississippi, Newtown, Texas, Las Vegas, and sometimes France, Kuwait, Manchester, Landon Bridge, Lahore…! In each case, if we go deeper, the big boss America is directly or indirectly responsible.

Well, as to the rise of gun culture in the USA, I totally blame its Government. The very recent Las Vegas massacre shocked the entire the world. How can the US Government allow Tom, Dick, and Harry to purchase the weapons? The police have found a stockpile of arsenal from the possession of perpetrator Stephen Paddock who killed 59 people, leaving 527 wounded. How did he procure this all deadly stuff? And what had stopped the government from totally banning gun selling in any manners in the wake of the cruel instances of shootings at various spots? Small kids are shooting themselves, schoolboys shooting their classmates for fun, sons gunning down fathers and mothers in a rage, wives shooting their hubbies over petty issues.

Las Vegas Massacre
Assault weapons and handguns are seen for sale at Capitol City Arms Supply in Springfield. VOA

Also Read: Las Vegas Mass Shooting Reignites Gun Debate in US Congress 

This is how the most advanced country in the world is now virtually reeling from a stream of horrific tragedies. Are not the leaders and business houses insanely stupid who all have been resisting the gun control legislation? They have not realized yet the “evil” also roars from gun barrels. Bluntly speaking, can these leaders give sharp daggers to their own kids? It is exactly like that. People may have grown up but their minds are cluttered with gory thoughts and sadism. And, the results are nowhere to make the world shudder with fear and anguish.

One wonders, how much more such dangerous tragedies should strike the mankind before the leaders come to sense and then act sensibly. No one should gamble with the life of the innocent. Explosive America cannot hit the jackpot for the humanity.

Salil Gewali is a well-known writer and author of ‘Great minds on India’. Twitter @SGewali

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‘Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro’ Director Kundan Shah Passes Away at 69

The filmmaker, hailed by the Indian film fraternity as a "master storyteller", would have turned 70 on October 19.

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Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro
The celebrated filmmaker died in his sleep, after suffering a heart attack. (IANS)

Mumbai, October 9, 2017 : Filmmaker Kundan Shah, who gave Indian cinema a different brand of humor with the cult black comedy “Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro” and subsequently television shows like “Nukkad” and “Wagle Ki Duniya” with the ‘aam aadmi’ at the centrestage, died early on Saturday, a family member said. He was 69.

“He died in his sleep early in the morning,” his relative told IANS.

Satish Kaushik, who wrote dialogues for “Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro” and acted in it, said Shah suffered a cardiac arrest.

His last rites were performed at Shivaji Park crematorium by daughter Shilpa with close family members and friends from the film fraternity in attendance, including “Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro” actors Naseeruddin Shah and Satish Shah, as well as Sudhir Mishra, Anil Kapoor, Deepak Dobriyal, Ratna Pathak, Raveena Tandon and Ashoke Pandit.

The filmmaker, hailed by the Indian film fraternity as a “master storyteller”, would have turned 70 on October 19.

His tryst with learning about film direction began at the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) in Pune. Just last week, he was at the institute for an event. He had even paid a tribute to actor Tom Alter, who died on September 29, and had spoken about a tentative script that he wrote for a part two of “Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro”, his debut directorial which came out in 1983.

In an interview to IANS, Shah had said he had applied for a loan of Rs 400,000 to make the movie, but then the production cost went up and finally it was made at a budget of Rs 725,000 as the National Film Development Corporation (NFDC) came on board as producer.

“Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro” narrated a tale of two simple and honest photographers, who witness a murder and get dragged into the corrupt real estate circle where politicians and bureaucrats are involved. The film, laced with slapstick comedy, didn’t fetch good box office, but achieved cult status with time.

“When I was making the film, I never thought it would be such an acclaimed movie. Every filmmaker has some dreams and this film has given me more than I dreamt of. It surpassed my expectations,” Shah had told IANS.

He had received his first and only National Film Award – Indira Gandhi Award for Best First Film of a Director – for it. This was the same award that Shah had returned to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting during the student protests in FTII in 2015 over Gajendra Chauhan’s appointment as its chairman.

The movie featured actors like Naseeruddin Shah, Ravi Baswani, Om Puri, Pankaj Kapur, Satish Shah, Satish Kaushik, Bhakti Barve and Neena Gupta. And Shah believed it gave “a lot to the entire cast and crew and its success is beyond their imagination too”.

After making “Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro”, Shah moved to television and worked there for seven years — giving such gems as “Nukkad”, “Wagle Ki Duniya” and “Yeh Jo Hai Zindagi”, all of which gave the Indian telly audience a reason to laugh away their worries with stories of everyday struggles.

With its simple yet compelling narrative, the Doordarshan show “Nukkad”, told stories of lower income people battling issues while trying to survive in a tough social and economic climate.

“Yeh Jo Hai Zindagi” saw Satish Shah infuse laughter by essaying different characters from many professions and regions of India, in different episodes.

“Wagle Ki Duniya”, based on cartoonist R.K. Laxman’s character of the common man, dealt with the woes of the middle-class Indian. With impeccable performances by Anjan Srivastav and Bharati Achrekar, it’s still etched in the minds of Hindi TV buffs of the late 1980s.

It is for Shah’s sensitivity towards the common man that filmmaker Prakash Jha dubbed him as the “Common Man of Cinema”.

Shah returned to films with the 1993 coming-of-age romantic drama “Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa”, which saw Shah Rukh Khan romance Suchitra Krishnamoorthi.

“He was a good man and a genius filmmaker,” Suchitra, who wishes a “glorious afterlife” for Shah, told IANS.

In a long career, Shah came up with few but impactful works.

Filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt described Shah as a brave man “who added vigour to the alternate cinema stream with movies like ‘Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro'”.

Actor Satish Kaushik said Shah gave “comedy a new face”, while Sudhir Mishra, who was his friend, said Shah was “wise, crazy, academic, imaginative and mourned the impossibility of true love”.

Seven years after “Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa”, Shah came up with “Kya Kehna”. With teenage pregnancy at its core, the Preity Zinta-starrer was ahead of its time and did well. His subsequent projects “Hum To Mohabbat Karega”, “Dil Hai Tumhaara” and his last movie as a director “P Se PM Tak” failed to get commercial success. (IANS)