Monday December 18, 2017

Time for Bollywood to bugle your personal film festival

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By Atul Mishra

Hello Cinephiles! NewsGram is back with its Weekend Personal Downloadable Film Festival. Let us celebrate three recent Indian films that have left indelible impression on celluloid and are a must watch. Download them and stir your cinematic cerebrum over the weekend. Mitigate your monotony and forget yourself while dwelling in these silvery showpieces.

Miss Lovely

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Specifying the genre of this psychedelic silver masterpiece will be a blot on its brilliant script. And that’s what makes it so unique; it’s a part film noir, a part love story, a part melodrama and a part documentary. Miss Lovely reminds and straightly takes us to celluloid portals of prodigies like Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Wong Kar Wai and Nagisa Oshima.

Directed by Ashim Ahluwalia and starring Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Miss Lovely narrates the story of two brothers, younger played by Nawaz himself and elder by Anil George. Vicky (Anil George) makes sleazy horror-porn films in 1980s Bombay and his brother Sonu Duggal (Nawaz) helps him. But Sonu falls for an actress Pinky (Niharika Singh) which eventually leads to his downfall with various turns of events.

Dark noir settings, scintillatingly visual, the feel of 1980s and regular juxtapositions of both ‘reel’ and ‘real’ in the same timeline, give the viewers a nail biting experience. You would not want to munch on your popcorn while watching this. Reminiscent of 90s Chinese cinema with flamboyant costumes supplied with 80s Bollywood soundtrack, you’re glued to the film throughout. Winner of two National Awards, screened for ‘Uncertain Regard’ at Cannes 2012, this film is a rare art Indian cinema which is a must watch.

The World Before Her

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A documentary portraying two India for women, one– the capitalist western modern woman who goes out to win the Miss World title (seen as degradation of Hindu culture by the other world) and the other who fights to preserve the Hindu culture.

Written and directed by Nisha Pahuja, ‘The World Before Her’ narrates the conflicting Indian thinking of young girls in India by highlighting the lives of two young women participating in two very different types of training camps— Ruhi Singh, who aspires to become Miss India, and Prachi Trivedi, a Hindu nationalist with the Durga Vahini who is being trained with Trishuls and guns in Hindu extremist camp to protect the degrading Hindu culture because of the overt portrayal of sexuality as business in various beauty pageants. “We have learned to use guns and we’ll use them if we have to. We will kill people if we need to,” says a young woman trainer who trains school girls to protect the Hindu culture.

The reality that this film portrays with real clips from the beauty pageants and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad training camp leaves you flabbergasted and astonished with the unfolding of the reality of women in India.

I am Kalam

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After two heavily-loaded films, one part documentary and one full, you need a refreshingly innocent simple yet moving film. I am Kalam is the perfect detour from this. A story of a kid who aspires to meet and become APJ Abdul Kalam, is starkly simple and yet moves your heart to the core.

TOI after its release wrote, “It is inspirational, intelligent, topical and entertaining too. More importantly, it brims over with heart and soul, leaving no one untouched with its simple message of providing an equal opportunity.”

Directed by Nila Madhab Panda and starring Harsh Mayar (Chottu) as the young aspirant, and Gulshan Grover as owner of a food stall outside a regal palace in Rajsathan, I am Kalam explores the young boy’s friendship with the Prince’s son who gives his books to Chottu and his eventual coming to terms with his dreams.

It’s a must watch. It’s a small film with simple message, smooth narrative and yet leaves room to critique the society.

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The Invisible Coolie Shines in ‘The Cutlass’ (Comment: Special to Newsgram)

The Cutlass
Dr. Kumar Mahabir

Aug 21, 2017: “Coolie” is the name of the character played by Narad Mahabir in the play directed by Errol Hill titled Man Better Man.

The local play was performed at NAPA in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago in June and an excerpt was staged in August during the premiere of the CARIFESTA festival. Mahabir was given a minor role as the lone Indo-Trinidadian (Indian) villager in the musical which was laced with humorous dialogue, Kalinda dances and calypso songs.

Except for recent plays written and directed by Indians like Victor Edwards, Seeta Persad and Walid Baksh, Indian actors and actresses have been given minor roles or none at all (“invisible”) in “national” theatre and cinema. In this context, The Cutlass is a movie with a difference. And indeed, the tagline of the movie on the cinema poster is “A breakthrough in Caribbean Cinema.”

Surprisingly, Arnold Goindhan is given the lead role (by the non-Indian TeneilleNewallo) as of the kidnapper named “Al” in The Cutlass. Paradoxically, he is given only a fleeting presence in the film’s trailerHe is the only Indian actor and the only character who is Indian, in a movie that is based on crime, race and class.

As a villain, Al is portrayed as an evil Indian Hindu. A calendar painting of the anthropomorphic Hindu god, Lord Hanuman (The Remover of Obstacles) is captured fleetingly on the wall of Al’s forest camp. In the film world of poetic justice The Cutlass, light must overcome darkness, whiteness must overwhelm blackness, and Christianity must conquer Hinduism. The pendant of Virgin Mary in the hands of the white kidnapped victim must overpower Hanuman.

Goindhan is a full-time Indian actor from Malick in Barataria who also sings and plays music. The “Island Movie Blog” on August 11 noted that when Goindhan “keeps his portrayal subtle, he really shines.” The July/August edition of the Caribbean Beat magazine stated that The Cutlass has delivered “compelling performances” to audiences.

The kidnap movie premiered to a sold-out audience at the T&T Film Festival in 2016 received rave reviews. It copped the T&T Film Festival’s Best Trinidad and Tobago Feature Film and People’s Choice awards. The Cutlass was also screened at international film festivals such as the Cannes Film Mart at the Cannes Film Festival in France.

The last time an Indian was chosen for a major role in a local feature film was 43 years ago in 1974. That film was titled Bim which featured Ralph (Anglicised from Rabindranath) Maraj playing the role of Bim/Bheem Sing. Bim was based on the composite life of a notorious assassin, Boysie Singh, and aggressive trade unionist and Hindu leader, Bhadase Sagan Maraj.

As an actor, Ralph Maraj was preceded by Basdeo Panday who became the first Indian in the Caribbean to appear on a big screen in Nine Hours to Rama (1963). The movie was about the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi. Panday also acted in two other British cinematic movies: Man in the Middle (1964) and The Brigand of Kandahar (1965).

But the Indo-Caribbean actor who has earned the honour of starring in the most movies – Hollywood included – is Errol Sitahal. He acted in Tommy Boy (1995), A Little Princess (1995) and Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle (2004).

Valmike Rampersadand Dinesh (“Dino”) Maharaj is rising stars to watch. Originally from Cedros, Dinesh is the lead actor in Moko Jumbie, a new feature film by Indo-Trinidadian-American Vashti Anderson. Moko Jumbie was selected for screening at the 2017 LA Film Festival.

Dinesh acted in the local television series, Westwood Park (1997–2004). His cinematic film credits include portrayals in Klash (1996), The Mystic Masseur (2001) and Jeffrey’s Calypso (2005).

Nadia Nisha Kandhai is the lead actress in the upcoming screen adaptation of the novel, Green Days by the River.

There is a real danger in marginalising Indians in theatre and film when they are in fact the largest ethnic group in T&T according to the 2011 CSO census data. Cultivation theory states that images in the media strongly influence perceptions of the real-world. This theory was developed by communication researchers George Gerbner and Larry Gross of the University of Pennsylvania in 1976.

The Cutlass can transmit the following wrong perceptions of reality: (1) Hinduism is evil, (2) Indians are one percent of the population, (3) there are few Indian actors, (4) Indians constitute the majority of kidnappers, and (5) the majority of kidnapped victims are white.

I presented a research paper in 2005 based on 40 cases of kidnapping in T&T. My findings revealed that 78% of the victims were Indians, and according to the survivors, the overwhelming majority of the kidnappers were Afro ex-police and army strongmen.

Watch Trailer: The Cutlass


The Writer is an anthropologist who has published 11 books

NewsGram is a Chicago-based non-profit media organization. We depend upon support from our readers to maintain our objective reporting. Show your support by Donating to NewsGram. Donations to NewsGram are tax-exempt. 

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Indian American Animator Wins the Prestigious Award from Accolade Global Film Competition

The animator had also won ILDA 2007 Artistic Award in Laser Photography

Indian American
Accolade Global Film Festival is a prestigious award for filmmakers and animators. Wikimedia
  • Manick Sorcar is an Indian American living in Denver
  • The exceptional laserist and animator has won the Accolade Global Film Competition Award
  • Manick is the son of the popular and legendary magician P.C Sorcar

Denver. August 2, 2017: Denver-based, Indian-American laserist and animator Manick Sorcar has won the prestigious Award of Merit from The Accolade Global Film Competition for his animation “Beautiful Mess”.

Also Read: Indian American Lawyer Neomi Rao to lead White House Regulatory Affairs Office

The Accolade recognizes film, television, videography and new media professionals who demonstrate exceptional achievement in craft and creativity, and those who produce standout entertainment or contribute to profound social change.

This is not the first laser animation of Sorcar that got international recognition. He won the ILDA 2015 Artistic Award for ‘Light Art in Shower Ocean’ in Innovative Application of Laser category from the International Laser Display Association.


Sorcar had also won the ILDA 2007 Artistic Award in Laser Photography category for his laser art “Reflection” and the ILDA Artistic Award for Best Use of Lasers in Live Stage Performance for his “Enlightenment of Buddha”.

According to the Accolade, in winning this award, Sorcar joins the ranks of other high-profile winners of this internationally respected award, including the Oscar winning production of “The Lady in Number Six” by Malcolm Clarke, the talented Dave Bossert of Disney for his short documentary, and “The Tunes Behind The Toons”.


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Second Bengal International Short Film Festival (BISFF) kicks-off with a rich roster of Regional, Foreign and Silent Films

The second Bengal International Short Film Festival (BISFF) got underway here on Monday with a rich roster of regional, foreign and silent films. Wikimedia

Kolkata, June 5, 2017: The second Bengal International Short Film Festival (BISFF) got underway here on Monday with a rich roster of regional, foreign and silent films, organisers said.

Films in Bengali, Tamil, Telugu, Marathi, Hindi, Urdu and silent films in addition to projects from the US, France, Italy, Britain, Bangladesh, and New Zealand are being screened till June 11 in the festival organised by Bengal Film & Television Chamber of Commerce (BFTCC).

“We are trying our very best to create a favourable climate for movie making in the state and that is the motto of BFTCC. The film festival is to inspire amateurs, budding and professional film makers to come up with more original and inspiring material,” said Firdausul Hasan, President of Film Federation of India. (IANS)