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The recent announcement of a film starring Ranbir Kapoor, Anil Kapoor, Neetu Singh and Boney Kapoor would have been hailed as a casting coup a few years ago, grabbing headlines all-over print and electronic media. As such, the announcement does not excite one. If it works and is justified in the film, then that is when it will make splashes in the media.
There are casting coups and then there are casting disasters. It is strange, but casting coup often goes unnoticed while a bad casting never does. What is more, it also spells a disaster for the film and there are quite a few examples to prove that.
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I don’t remember a few casting coups as such. Yes, there were many films with perfect casting and, more often, those were possible when one considered the casting of a whole film. I would site BR Chopra’s film “Waqt” (1965) as one such example and the Yash Chopra-directed “Trishul” for another. Shashi Kapoor’s Shyam Benegal-directed “Kalyug” was another.
In such films casting is important because they have a lot of characters playing pivotal roles and together make the film engrossing. Films that can be added to the list are “Kohinoor”, “Humjoli”, “Sholay”, “Silsila”, “Tridev”, “Tezaab”, “Mother India”, “Padosan”, “Angoor”, “Deewana”, and “Darr”.
One banner that took the risk and succeeded most of the time was the Rajshri Productions. My memory of this banner’s films starts with “Dosti”. Two newcomers in the cast and a new pair of music composers. The production house continued this trend of casting new faces successfully in many films. Many films followed, with one to stay in mind being “Ankhiyon Ke Jharokhon Se”, “Maine Pyar Kiya” and “Hum Aapke Hain Koun…!”
Manmohan Desai’s “Amar Akbar Anthony” made the grade of a super casting because each character fitted the bill. Amitabh Bachchan carried his image forward despite playing a light comic role instead of the angry young man, Vinod Khanna played the tough cop while Rishi Kapoor played the loverboy. The rest of the cast of Pran, Jeevan, along with Parveen Babi, Neetu Singh, and Shabana Azmi, completed the film’s apt casting.
Thereafter, Manmohan Desai started taking his audience for granted and counted only on his ace, Amitabh Bachchan, as he filled the rest of the cast that did not quite make a perfect foil to Bachchan. After watching him with the likes of Zeenat Aman, Parveen Babi, Rekha, and Rakhi, actors like Amrita Singh, Rati Agnihotri, and Meenakshi Seshadri as his love interests, and Goga Kapoor or Puneet Issar as the villain, were not quite anywhere near what the audience preferred. Not included “Zanjeer”, which established Amitabh Bachchan strongly because he was not the first choice for the role he played. Many top stars were approached for the film, with no takers.
Other makers followed the same line as Manmohan Desai and almost caused the downfall of Bachchan, were it not for the famous accident on the sets of “Coolie”, the film that helped sustain his acting career.
The one director who excelled in the casting of his films was Hrishikesh Mukerji. Who would think of the reigning romantic superstar, Rajesh Khanna, as a cook-cum-domestic help in “Bawarchi”, or as a poor mill worker in “Namak Haraam”! Or, for that matter, Dharmendra and Amitabh Bachchan in his subtle comedy, “Chupke Chupke”, which went on to become an evergreen hit. He has more such films to his credit.
Manoj Kumar was yet another filmmaker who would even go against a set image of an actor to cast him. The best example was the casting of actor Pran in “Shaheed”, based on the life and sacrifice of freedom fighter, Bhagat Singh. Pran carried such a negative image that nobody could imagine him playing a positive role and subscribe to patriotism. It was a cameo but Manoj Kumar is said to have insisted that he would not make “Shaheed” if Pran did not agree to the role conceived for him.
It was a masterstroke that Manoj Kumar repeated in his home production, “Upkar” (1967). It worked wonders on both occasions. Later, for his film “Kranti”, Manoj Kumar roped in Dilip Kumar to portray a role loosely based on the life of the Maratha navy chief, Kanhoji Angre.
The casting coup is evident after a film hits the cinema halls. A maker does his best when he decides to go against actors with a set of images and takes a risk. That is why few makers go against the tide. Like, Pran, Jeevan, KN Singh, Prem Nath, Kanhaiyalal, Ajit, Prem Chopra, Danny, Amrish Puri, Ranjeet, Shakti Kapoor, Gulshan Grover, and others kept playing villain till someone thought to cast them against their image. But, that was rare, and in most cases happened when they had aged and cast in character roles.
Makers who did not want to take chances and stick to the norm were accountable for actors like Iftekhar, Jeevan, Jagdish Raj, Keshto Mukherjee, Manek Davar, Deven Verma, Asrani, Mohan Choti, and so many others. Iftekhar who was a versatile actor with an impressive screen presence played a top cop many times, but the one to set a record of playing a cop was Jagdish Raj, who is said to have played a cop for a record 144 times! As for Jeevan, when it came to mythological films, he was Narad Muni. And, who else but Dara Singh as Lord Hanuman.
It was because most filmmakers preferred to play safe and cast stars according to their image, thinking that is how best they were accepted by the audience, were also why some actors got branded. Dilip Kumar as tragedy kind and Meena Kumari as the tragedy queen, for example.
Amitabh Bachchan was branded the Angry Young Man because that was the era of anti-establishment sentiments in the people and he was seen as the crusader fighting their cause. But, those sentiments changed. Some makers did try to mistake his angry young man image for an action hero and he was cast in films like “Kaalia”, “Heera”, and “Kasauti” but, luckily for him, he had also been appreciated in “Anand”, “Abhimaan”, “Dost”, “Majboor”, which helped him transit easily to playing other roles, while Yash Chopra and Hrishikesh Mukherjee made him act in films like “Kabhi Kabhie”, “Chupke Chupke”, and “Mili”. He proved he had the range not to be shackled in an image.
Dharmendra had been slotted as the He-Man after baring his bust very early in his career with “Phool Aur Patthar”. Yet, almost all his success came from not being projected as He-Man!
Earlier, the star cast for a film was decided according to the storyline. But, then came a time when the financers, or even the corporate houses that had emerged, opted for the saleable stars first. They funded proposals, not content. Not surprising that we have few scriptwriters who can be approached before the star. The list of successful writers abounded with names like Gulshan Nanda, Sachin Bhowmick, Javed Siddiqui, Basu Chatterjee, Robin Bhatt, KA Abbas, Mahesh Bhatt, Prayag Raj, KK Shukla, Kader Khan, Akash Khurana, Rahi Masoom Reza, Salim-Javed, and KA Narayan.
Which are the films that can be called examples of casting coup in recent times? Not many. But, the ones that make the list mostly star not-yet established actors. Probably, that is why they made it. “Kai Po Che!” for one. It initiated the trend of casting newcomers with off-the-beaten-track themes, especially since established stars had turned to produce their own films and were not available to aspiring filmmakers.
Other recent casting successes that readily come to mind are “Ready”, “Dangal”, “War”, “Ek Tha Tiger”, the “Housefull” series, “Uri: The Surgical Strike”, “Fukrey”, the “Golmaal” series, “Kahaani”, “The Dirty Picture”, “Bajrangi Bhaijaan”, “Hindi Medium”, “MS Dhoni: The Untold Story”, and “Piku”.
In fact, OTT serials seem to be scoring better on this front if you look at the ones like “Special Ops”, “Aarya” and, the recent success “Scam 1992: The Harshad Mehta Story”. Here, there is no hassle of face value that a feature film needs, to draw the initial audience. (IANS)
-By Vinod Mirani
(Vinod Mirani is a veteran film writer and box office analyst. The views expressed are personal)
Every child who grew up in the 90s and the early 00s has certainly grown up around Tom and Jerry, the adorable, infamous cat-chases-mouse cartoon. The idea of naughtiness and playing mischief had the standards that this particular series set for children and defined how much wreckage was funny enough.
The show's creators, William Hanna and Joseph Barbera initially named their characters Jasper and Jinx. They did not plan for the fame that Tom and Jerry brought them when they released a movie by the name of "Puss Gets the Boot". This movie featured a certain cat and mouse who were a notorious pair, named Jasper and Jinx. When the movie became a hit, the names of the characters were changed and the show shot to fame.
Tom and Jerry became a go-to cartoon for children in the early 00s, and it was one of those shows with a firm foundation, that had already been in the running for decades. The original template had been planned nearly 80 years ago, and the makers did not change it. The music that was played in the many episodes, made a breakthrough in its own way. It is the most easily recognizable melody with utterly nostalgic associations.
Today, Tom and Jerry is still a household name in homes where children love cartoons Image credit: wikimedia commons
A set of supporting characters were defined for the show, to occasionally take the focus off the original pair. There was a large, black woman named Mammy Two Shoes and a bulldog who took Jerry's side. Mammy Two Shoes was discontinued because her character portrayed racist tendencies. A tall white woman replaced her, who was kinder and loved mice. Either of the women's faces was never revealed.
Today, Tom and Jerry is still a household name in homes where children love cartoons. There are a host of other shows besides this that aim to replicate the same aspects of the cartoon but do not come close at all. Despite the immense amount of violence in the show, it is a beloved pastime of parents and children alike.
Keywords: Tom and Jerry, Cartoon, Hanna and Barbera, Television
One of India's leading private museums, the Museum of Art & Photography (MAP) Bengaluru, has released new primary research conducted by the ReReeti Foundation, on audience behaviour in India's cultural sector. While more than half of the respondents thought the arts and culture are essential, they rarely manage to make time for it. The majority (60.6 per cent), mostly young people under 30, felt Indian museums could present more engaging content, and most perceived culture as anthropological/ sociological. Of the diverse categories included, music emerged as the most popular cultural activity.
The report is based on a survey of 500 people, which included school and college students, professionals across sectors, homemakers and senior citizens. The first initiative of its kind in the cultural space, the report shares valuable insights into the behaviour and expectations of Indian audiences engaging with a broad range of cultural activities. As part of MAP's mission to foster meaningful connections between communities and the cultural sector globally, which includes its innovative digital programme Museums Without Borders, the report shares a wealth of insights that can help museums across the country understand their audiences better. As much as 60.6 per cent said Indian museums are not experimental enough, and can do more to create engaging content that is also relevant to surrounding communities.As much as 60.6 per cent said Indian museums are not experimental enough, and can do more to create engaging content that is also relevant to surrounding communities.
As much as 60.6 per cent said Indian museums are not experimental enough, and can do more to create engaging content that is also relevant to surrounding communities. | Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash
Speaking on the recent report, Kamini Sawhney, Director, Museum of Art & Photography (MAP), said, "MAP is focused on changing the notion of a museum in India, by enabling more relevant and inclusive programming, both online and in our space in Bengaluru. The audience research commissioned by MAP, and conducted by the ReReeti Foundation, provides valuable, and actionable insights which we hope will help museums across the country better understand their consumer base, improve decision making and deepen social impact." As much as 62.3 per cent college students and 47.6 per cent professionals/homemakers perceive culture as anthropological and sociological. Music was the most popular cultural event likely to be attended, followed by heritage tours and plays/comedy shows for Indian audiences.
Over 70 per cent of college students visit museums with family and friends; working professionals, homemakers and senior citizens also predominantly visit with groups/ spouses (indicating a need to focus on increased group programming/facilitation). As much as 68 per cent of people were optimistic about going outdoors for activities and events in 2021. As much as 60.6 per cent said Indian museums are not experimental enough, and can do more to create engaging content that is also relevant to surrounding communities.(IANS/MBI)
Keywords: Art, Culture, India, Museum, Music
What is the best way to save Goa from deforestation?
Drinking feni, may well be the answer, says the secretary of the Goa Cashew Feni Distillers and Bottlers Association Hansel Vaz, who on Thursday said, that sipping the state's unique alcoholic drink and making it popular would directly aid the greening of Goa's hills and other barren landscapes.
"To get more cashews, we need to plant more trees. I always say, by drinking feni you will save Goa, because we will be planting more cashew trees and we will have greener hills. The beauty of cashew is you do not need fertile land. You can grow it on a hill which can provide no nutrition. We will be able to grow more trees, if we can sell feni properly," Vaz said. Vaz's comments come at a time when the hillsides of the coastal state have witnessed significant deforestation for real estate development and for infrastructure projects. Feni is manufactured by fermenting and double distilling juice from the cashew apple.
Best way to keep Goa green is to grab yourself a glass of feni. | IANS
Addressing a press conference in Panaji, Vaz also said that the promotion of feni was also in sync with the Prime Minister's vision for India to go "vocal for local". "There is no conglomerate, multinational company owning the drink. So every time we sell feni, it is a direct cash injection into Goa. If you sell a feni cocktail in Calangute (a popular beach village), it makes a direct impact in Valpoi and Bicholim, because this money is going down there," the Association official said at a press conference in Panaji.
The Association held the media briefing to announce a road map ahead for the feni industry, especially vis a vis streamlining aspects related to production, standardisation and marketing of the brew to make it popular in other Indian states and abroad.
The efforts to streamline the state "heritage drink" comes a month after the Goa government notified a formal policy, 'Goa Feni Policy 2021', which covers 26 different varieties of feni distilled in the state. "There were many barriers related to feni, which the policy has now addressed," treasurer of the Association Tukaram Haldankar said. One such hurdle was the previous government classification, which described feni as "country liquor", which would deter tourists from purchasing the drink. The reclassification of feni as a state "heritage drink" has lent dignity to the brew which has been manufactured locally in Goa since the 16th century.
But there is more the government can do, along with the state's traditional distillers and manufacturers to promote feni, Haldankar said. | Photo by Ishvani Hans on Unsplash
But there is more the government can do, along with the state's traditional distillers and manufacturers to promote feni, Haldankar said. "We request the government to allow the sale of feni in duty free stores in airports and cruise liner terminals. The government should also support us through the department of Tourism, so that feni can be promoted in its programmes. iIf you go to Scotland, they promote Scotch. Goa should promote its feni to Goa," Haldankar said, adding that traditional distillers should also be given subsidies and other measures should be taken to standardise feni, which he said, "would require further subsidies and financial assistance from the government".
"It should be a standard product like scotch, champagne," Haldankar said. "Like Mexico's tequila, Russian vodka and Japan's sake, we need to export our feni across the country and the world and the local distillers should also benefit economically," president of the Association Gurudutt Bhakta also said. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: deforestation,cashew,distillers,association,government, goa, feni, India