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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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Good News Is When An Actor Works For My Banner At A Lower Price: Karan Johar

Filmmaker Karan Johar, is readying his new multistarrer production "Good Newwz" for a Christmas release

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Filmmaker Karan Johar
Karan Johar is readying his new production "Good Newwz". Wikimedia Commons

Filmmaker Karan Johar, who is readying his new multistarrer production “Good Newwz” for a Christmas release, says he feels really happy when an actor agrees to work for his banner at a lower price. He adds that Akshay Kumar, the hero of “Good Newwz”, has not given him any good news so far on that front.

“Good news to me is when an actor agrees to do my film at a low price, but that’s a good news Akshay hasn’t given me so far,” Johar said with a laugh, while interacting with the media at the trailer launch of the film along with the lead cast, comprising Akshay, Kareena Kapoor Khan, Kiara Advani and Diljit Dosanjh, besides director Raj Mehta on Monday in Mumbai.

He added: “I feel if I hear some good news, then there is also a bad news around the corner — unless the good news is about something like the birth of a child. I still remember when I got the information of my two babies, I felt really happy. I feel, after hearing every good news you hear some bad news, and I guess there is some kind of ‘kabhi khushi kabhie gham’ situation that takes place in our lives. So, I don’t hold on to that news with a lot of joy ever. Rather, I am a bit of a cynic that way.”

“Good Newwz” is the third collaboration between Johar and Akshay after “Kesari” and “Brothers”. Next year, Akshay will be seen in “Sooryavanshi”, which is co-produced by Karan Johar’s Dharma Productions.

The film marks the directorial debut of Raj Mehta.

Karan Johar
Karan Johar says that Dharma Productions has always maintained the ethos of treating every artist equally. Wikimedia Commons

Johar admitted the weird spelling of the film’s title was an outcome of his team’s inherent superstitious streak.

“There is a certain inherent superstition in the creative world, so earlier in my career I was obsessed with the alphabet K. I released films starting with alphabet K, which also starred Kareena, but then a few of them didn’t work. I felt it (the urge to name films with K) had stayed with me for no reason, so I gave up on that superstition. After that, I encountered Raj Mehta who is paranoid about everything. He, along with Azeem Dayani — who is the curator of this film’s music — were paranoid and told me that we should name this film ‘A Good News’. I told them ‘A Good News’ is incorrect English. So, they said we would have to change the spelling. We decided to name the film ‘Good Newwz’. Personally, it’s rather ridiculous, but actually everybody has learnt to accept it and envelope it, so I would give credit for the film’s name to Raj and his team,” said Johar.

Asked how he makes sure that equal rights are given to men and women in his production company, which is headed by him, he said: “We at Dharma Productions have always maintained the ethos of making sure that everyone including men, women, artists, and technicians get paid solidly for their craft, art, ability, work and worth. All of us are here from the blend of commerce and art. It is something I endorse strongly. When it comes to female-led films, we always make sure that there never is a disparity from our end.”

Also Read- Every Child Should Have Access To Formal Education: Boman Irani

He continued: “We have given profit share to female actors. In near future, you will see producer’s credit given in a female-led film. Where they (actresses) dominate and lead the film, they must have a humongous part of the pie. You will hear announcements in the future where women-lead films produced by Dharma Productions will have strong producer’s credit and profit shares (for heroines). There is and there will not be any disparity in my company.”

“Good Newwz” is scheduled to release on December 27. (IANS)