Acclaimed actress and filmmaker Nandita Das says making “Manto” was a most challenging yet interesting journey.
“It has been the most challenging journey for me, but probably the most interesting one too. This by far has been the biggest learning curve for me. There were challenges I faced at almost every step of the process,” Nandita told IANS in an email interview.
“It took me four years to research and write the script and two years to get funding, cast, crew, locations and all the preparation to shoot and get the film out. The genesis of the idea of the film was in 2012, Manto’s centenary celebration, and now it finally premiered in Cannes.”
After having helmed “Firaaq” in 2008, Nandita went behind the camera to trace the life of writer Saadat Hasan Manto, to be portrayed by Nawazuddin Siddiqui in the film, expected to release in India in September.
Manto, who died in 1955 at the age of 43, penned an impressive body of work touching various genres.
He churned out about 22 collections of stories comprising a novel, essays, personal sketches and movie scripts. Out of his literary gems was a story on Mirza Ghalib, a poet who is often compared with the stature of Shakespeare. His work also gained attention for weaving stories around the ordeal of partition as well as sexuality. The film provides a window into his life during the tumultuous partitioning of British colonial India into two new nations — India and Pakistan.
“Manto”, co-produced by HP Studios, Filmstoc and Viacom 18 Motion Pictures, was the only Indian film in Un Certain Regard category at the 71st Cannes Film Festival. It will also be screened at Sydney Film Festival, which started on June 6 and will go on till June 17.
Nandita says she was “deeply involved with every department and have learnt so much in the process”.
“After all I never went to a film school or assisted any director so everything was being learnt on the job and I was relying mostly on my creative instinct and life experiences.”
On her experience at the fest, she said: “I have been attending Cannes since I was invited in the main jury in 2005. Then again in 2013 in the short film jury. Including more recently, to raise funds for ‘Manto’.
“Other than these two opportunities, I have been there several times as a film lover. Apart from it being the most celebrated festival, it truly manages to combine great cinema and a thriving platform for filmmakers and film lovers from all over the world. While you of course wish your film to be premiered in Cannes, one is aware that every filmmaker wishes that too. The competition is extremely fierce. And ‘Manto’ is not a typical “festival film”.
“The references and context is not always easy for foreigners to understand. I di’n’t know till the day they officially announced the list. It was the only Indian film in the main official sections and so it is a huge honour. I am most delighted that ‘Manto’ has started its journey in Cannes.” (IANS)
The beauty of the Hindi film industry lies not only in it’s stories but also in the songs that get in tune with the mood of the narratives. These songs remain eternal in the minds of the audience for generations to come, but unfortunately the ones who give their melodious voice in these songs are not always remembered. Jaspal Singh is one of them.
Today we have brought in light one of those gem singers of bollywood~ Jaspal Singh, who has by and large made a significant contribution in Bollywood through some of the most popular and melodious songs he sang.
Who is Jaspal Singh?
Jaspal Singh is an Indian singer who lent his voice to various Bollywood actors in the era 1970’s and 1980’s. He was born in Amritsar and during his school and college days, he realised his passion for singing. He used to participate in various music competitions throughout his school and college life. To further pursue his passion for singing he went to Mumbai where his sister used to stay.
Jaspal’s talent was first and foremost recognised by well known female singer Usha Khanna during the year 1968.
Jaspal’s Early Life Struggle
Jaspal Singh was provided a chance to sing at a professional level, however he did not get the recognition which he deserved in his life. He struggled to make a career in singing and would often visit Amritsar, Delhi and Mumbai time and again.
Jaspal was always an ardent fan of Mohammed Rafi and grew up listening to his songs and singing Rafi’s songs whenever he got the opportunity. As he was attracted to only film songs he did not undergo any training in classical music.
Due to peer pressure, he started practicing law and started living in Mumbai. In spite of the hardships he was facing, he never gave up and then, a well known Music Composer, Ravindra Jain gave him the big break for a song in the movie called ‘Geet Gata Chal’ of 1975. After this song, he became a prominent name. His voice was unique and was unlike any other and he sang for some hit bollywood movies like‘Nadiya ke paar’, ‘Ankhiyon ke jharokhon se’,’Sawan ko aane do’, etc.
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Jaspal’s Singing Career in Bollywood Industry
In 1975 as the opening credits of the newly released film “Geet Gaata Chal” rolled out and the cinema hall resonated with the fresh, melodious, energetic and high-pitched vocals of Jaspal Singh singing the title song- ‘Geet gaata chal o saathi gungunata chal…’
Every viewer was mesmerized by this totally new, original, youthful and brilliant voice which was both pleasing and heart-warming. This was the magic his voice had.
For the audience who did not see the film at that time, hearing the song was enough to transport them to the villages and immediately entreating up images of the person dancing amidst the lush green fields, flowing rivers, chirping birds and pleasant winds. Such was the effect the song had on the listeners of that time that it became one of the most iconic songs of the decade.
The film “Nadiya Ke Paar” produced by Tarachand Bharjatya under his banner “Rajshri Productions” was to be the launch vehicle for introducing child artists Sachin and Sarika as adult stars in a romantic story. As the existing singers of the time were all associated with different popular heroes, the new male singer Jaspal Singh was chosen to do a playback for Sachin.Not only did the film became a big hit, all the songs of the film also became super-hits and music lovers wholeheartedly accepted Jaspal Singh as the new sensational voice.
According to an interview, Ravindra Jain was apprehensive about giving Jaspal the title song which according to him was his best composition for the film but associate producer Rajkumar Bharjatya was in favour of taking the risk.Whatever the concerns may have been, still the fact remains that finally Jaspal Singh did get the green signal to record all the songs and the rest as they say is history.
Jaspal Singh was very thrilled to get such a golden opportunity. Those days it was not very easy for a new singer to make inroads into the industry especially without any father figure to launch him!
Luckily for him the film established him in a big way. He proved his versatility in the film by singing fun songs, romantic song and even ‘bhajans’.
Though, popular perception is that Geet Gaata Chal was Jaspal Singh’s debut film, technically he had made his debut earlier in 1968 in the film Bandish. It was music director Usha Khanna who decided to give him a break. She gave him a solo number which was picturized on a comedian in the film. As the film did not create any ripples, the song also did not get much attention and Jaspal Singh’s debut song went virtually unnoticed.
After this he also sang a duet with Mahendra Kapoor for the film Anjaan Hai Koi, 1969, but again that song also did not receive any great response. Once again Usha Khanna was the music director and the song was picturized on character artistes. In the coming years, he started singing for many other films in Bollywood.
How did Jaspal “Lost in Transition?”
Slowly it was becoming evident that as Jaspal Singh’s voice had become the voice of actor Sachin, he was not going to be used for any of the top actors of that period. Also keeping in consideration the type of films he was singing for, he did not get an opportunity to sing a variety of songs in his career. Eventually, actor Sachin’s career also did not take off in a very big way as a hero and in the absence of any top music director willing to try his voice, Jaspal’s career went towards a downward trend.
But today, he has no complaints whatsoever with his career. He feels that whatever he accomplished was due to divine blessing and his good fortune. He is thankful to the Bharjatyas of Rajshri Productions and music director Ravindra Jain who placed so much faith in him and gave him a break in the industry.His stint in Bollywood got him many stage shows all over India and abroad as well which gave him an opportunity to outshine him.
Indeed this winsome vocalist’s career was short-lived but whatever he sang was melodious and from the heart. Today not many people may pause to recall this underrated singer but for those who grew up in the seventies, his songs remain etched in their memories and listening to them still gives them inexplicable pleasure.
Bollywood celebrities continue to express concern about the trying conditions of migrant workers stranded in different amid the COVID-19 lockdown.
Taking to Twitter on Monday, Shraddha Kapoor urged: “A request to whoever comes across the migrants who have been allowed to walk home on humanitarian grounds in Maharashtra, please give them food and water along the way.”
Criticising Indian Railways’ decision to avail online booking for select train services that have started, Pooja Bhatt posted a sarcastic message. “So migrant workers log onto their smartphones and book tickets online? Great move #IndianRailways,” she tweeted.
Actor Chandan Roy Sanyal wrote: “This migrant issue is getting out of hand. its been so long they are all helter skelter – people are just walking on the highway everywhere. Few trains, most of them dont have money and now online booking. Crazy.”
Shekhar Kapur tweeted: “Which one of us did not know that the Indian economy is built on migrant workers? That household help was migrant workers? That 5000 kids everyday die of malnutrition in India? And all this since Independence? Or is it just convenient ignorance?”
The decision by state governments of Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat to suspend labour laws, in a bid to restart economic activity, was also criticised by many.
“Not only migrants workers are left to fend for themselves, now the govt is disempowering them of their rights to minimum wage / safety / living conditions . The govt cares only for the Rich,” wrote filmmaker Onir.
Bollywood actor Sonu Sood, who has organised buses to transport stranded migrant labourers, tweeted: “Time to help the migrants.” (IANS)
I For India, the mega fundraiser concerts, which was live-streamed on Facebook on Sunday, saw a massive Hollywood and Bollywood participation.
Amitabh Bachchan, Akshay Kumar, Shah Rukh Khan, Aamir Khan, Ayushmann Khurrana, Hrithik Roshan, Ranveer Singh, Tiger Shroff, Vicky Kaushal, Vidya Balan, Katrina Kaif, Rani Mukerji, Arjun Kapoor and Diljit Dosanjh were among 85 artistes who participated in the virtual concert to raise funds for those affected by the novel coronavirus.
Also joining in were Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonas, Anushka Sharma and Virat Kohli, Kareena Kapoor Khan and Saif Ali Khan, and Aishwarya Rai and Abhishek Bachchan.
International stars including Jack Black, Will Smith, Russel Peters, Mick Jagger, Nick Jonas, Joe Jonas and Sophie Turner were also part of the concert.
Everyone did their bit to entertain the audience while performing at the noble show, which was organised by filmmakers Karan Johar and Zoya Akhtar.
Over Rs 3 crore was raised by the end of the four-hour digital concert. All the proceedings will go to India COVID Response Fund.
Amitabh Bachchan gave a tribute to the late actor and his close friend Rishi Kapoor during the concert. SRK and Hrithik turned singers.
Shah Rukh sang, “Sab sahi ho jayega”, assuring people that things will be alright soon. His son AbRam too made a special appearance in his song, composed by rapper Badshah.
Hrithik played piano and crooned to “Tera jaisa yaar kahaan”, which was composed by his uncle Rajesh Roshan for the 1981 Amitabh Bachchan-starrer “Yaarana”. Reportedly, Hrithik spent over seven hours honing his musical skills.
Ayushmann Khurrana, who is also an established singer, sang “Ik vaari” and “Mitti di khushboo”.
Akshay Kumar recited a poem, titled “Tumse Ho Nahi Paega”.
Aamir Khan and his wife, filmmaker Kiran Rao, spoke about how important it is to extend support to the needy. They also sang “Jeena isi ka naam hai”.
Alia Bhatt, along with sister Shaheen and composer Ankur Tewari, sang ‘Ik kudi’ from her film “Udta Punjab” while Priyanka Chopra Jonas too recited a poem on the current situation.
Madhuri Dixit Nene performed her rendition of popstar Ed Sheeran’s Perfect with son Arin on the piano and Anil Kapoor urged everyone to become “Mr India” by staying at home.
Farhan Akhtar along with his band performed the songs of “Rock On”, while the film’s composer trio, Shankar Ehsaan Loy, belted out some of their blockbuster hits.
Abhishek Bachchan spoke of about how memes are lightening up the mood of people during the ongoing serious health crisis, while Aishwarya Rai Bachchan conducted a meaningful session as she talked to an expert on COVID-19. (IANS)