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Zeishan Quadri: Making the Write Choices

Zeishan Quadri is all set with the release of Gangs of Wasseypur's sequel

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By Shillpi A Singh
Wasseypur, the nondescript Muslim locality in the heart of Jharkhand’s coal capital Dhanbad, is all set to scorch the silver screen again. For the uninitiated, the small town is famous for the Indian School of Mines, coal mines, and mafia, perhaps not in the same order. The sleepy township in Dhanbad catapulted its way into the limelight with Anurag Kashyap’s two-part epic gangster flick Gangs of Wasseypur released in 2012. Set against the backdrop of gangland killings in the town, the film gave all those naysayers, who believed that only Mumbai could serve as the setting of gang wars, a run for their money. The man who scripted this crime thriller is a son of the soil, Zeishan Quadri.

Image source: wikimedia commons
Image source: wikimedia commons

Quadri, 33, was born and brought up in Wasseypur, which explains the passion with which he could narrate the tale of revenge between two rival families —Khans and Singhs — in the locality. The film, which was the toast of international festival circuits, won accolades for its gritty presentation of rivalries, revenge, and retributions in Wasseypur, through gripping story-telling, crazy characters, cutting-edge editing, and hundreds of actors, all of which have turned it into a cult classic.
Quadri, who had scripted the first two parts, is now busy giving final touches to the third one, which he says will be titled Gangs of Wasseypur 1.5. And mind you, he is all set to direct it as well. So get ready to watch another intense tale of vengeance, greed and ambition of the long-running feud between two families of the coal capital. But unlike the first two parts of the series that spanned over a period of 70 years, the third installment will cover 15 years at the most; it would be the period in between when the story began (1948) and ended (2009). “The other elements and setting of the film will remain the same though new characters will be introduced to add spice to the crime saga,” he said.
 
The Wordsmith
A writer by choice and actor by default is what describes Quadri in a nutshell. The man who can weave magic with his pen has won a plethora of awards for his debut film Gangs of Wasseypur 1 and 2 as a writer. “I love to write. Believe it or not, till date I have written three versions of Gangs of Wasseypur’s third part,” he said. So much and so, the other films that he has penned include his directorial venture Meeruthiya Gangsters, Anu Menon’s Oh Womaniya and Firauti for Fardeen Khan Productions.
Act Another Day

Zeishan as Definite in GoW-2
Zeishan as Definite in GoW-2

Definite, the character that Quadri essayed in his debut film, Gangs of Wasseypur 2, kick-started his acting career. He had tasted blood by playing an awe-inspiring character in the crime thriller, who mouthed witty one-liners like “ek ladka aur ladki kabhi dost nahin ho sakte”, and went on a killing spree to be the gangster that he always wanted to be. This dalliance hooked him to explore options as an actor and Tigmanshu Dhulia’s Revolver Rani starring Kangana Ranuat-Vir Das followed next where he essayed the role of Pilot. “Over the years, I have realised that acting is my passion but not my cup of tea. I would be happy to be behind the scene. I am keen to spend my creative energy on writing scripts. That’s my real calling.” But don’t write him off as an actor. As they say, picture abhi baaki hai dost, Quadri will soon be seen in upcoming film Akki, Vikki Te Nikki, and Banana. He quoted an anecdote from his Cannes visit when an impressed American actor told him that he will be a star after Gangs of Wasseypur 2 releases in India. “I quickly corrected him that I may at the best be an actor but never a star to which he retorted that in the US all good actors worth their salts are stars,” Quadri said, adding, “Unfortunately, that is not the case in India.”
Director’s Cut

Meeruthiya Gangsters
Meeruthiya Gangsters

 Quadri’s directorial venture Meeruthiya Gangsters was a story of six aimless young criminals from the badlands of Meerut, a small town in Uttar Pradesh, who take up to crime to make a quick buck. Though the film didn’t fare well at the box-office, it certainly left an indelible mark as a delightful comedy that kept the audience engaged and entertained throughout with its pace, witty dialogues, and excellent characterization, and most of all its setting in Meerut. “Though it is not the first film to be based on Meerut, it was the first film ever to be shot in Meerut,” he said. And why Meerut if you ask? No points for guessing. Quadri spent his undergrad years in this town and taking a slice out of his life and spice it with real-turned-reel characters seems the most obvious choice for this writer-director-producer-actor.
Mentor Matters
If Meerut’s scissors are known for their sharpness, Meeruthiya Gangsters set in the small town will be remembered for its crisp editing by none other than filmmaker Anurag Kashyap. “Anurag Sir had not seen the film, but he got to know about it from a common friend Vasan Bala. He asked me to show the film. He loved the idea of a gang of young men who set out to make money in the most unusual way. The humour and banter of the six protagonists in local dialect added to film’s flavour. But he found the editing a little sloppy which made him take charge of the job at the eleventh hour. I am glad that this venture of mine had the director’s cut,” said a proud protégé of the filmmaker. Impressed with his brilliant command over the subject and razor-sharp treatment of characters, Kashyap decided to hand over the reins of the Gangs of Wasseypur’s sequel to him. “It is a great honour for a newbie like me,” said an ecstatic Quadri. About his equation with the maverick filmmaker, he said, “I share a special bond with Anurag Sir. He is the best film school around. I am happy to be a student of his kind of cinema. We have a lot of similarities, even in our differences. The best thing about him is that he is passionate about the craft and open and forthcoming, which makes learning the nuances of film-making fun.”

Anurag Kashyap with Zeishan Quadri
Anurag Kashyap with Zeishan Quadri

Passionate About Production
“I am a creative businessman,” he quipped when prodded over his production house and its cinematic pursuits. Quadri forayed into production with Prague for his friend. But he continued to serenade the box-office beauty with his Friday to Friday Entertainers that has produced his directorial venture Meeruthiya Gangsters and is also co-producing Sarabjit, a biopic on late Indian death row prisoner Sarabjit. “Writer Rajesh Beri and former COO of Mukta Arts Rajesh Nair, who are now part of my team, were involved in this project right from the beginning. The story was languishing with Mukta Arts for almost four years. The story of Sarabjit Singh’s death stirred nation’s emotions and his sister’s Dalbir’s struggle to free him is a heart-wrenching. So I bought the rights to the story from Subhash Ghai last year. Soon others joined me and the rest is history.”
The film which will hit the screens on May 20, 2016, will be directed by Omung Kumar of Mary Kom fame, and it boasts an enviable star cast. While Randeep Hooda will be seen as Sarabjit, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan will essay the role of his sister Dalbir, and Richa Chaddha will play Sarabjit’s wife. The trailer and its song Salamat have already caught the nation’s imagination and as Quadri said, “Hopefully the poignant story of  a sister’s struggle strikes a chord with the classes, masses, and critics alike.”
If it does, then the film will set the cash registers ringing and leave Quadri smiling his way to the banks. For a small town boy, who has traversed a long cinematic journey in just a couple of years, the feeling of making it big in Mumbai hasn’t sunk in yet. That’s modesty personified. But his hometown thinks he hung the moon and the stars! And rightfully so.
The author can be contacted at shilpi.devsingh@gmail.com 

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Era of the 1980s Filmmaking was about bringing a change and make it happen: Veteran filmmaker Govind Nihalani

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Veteran filmmaker Govind Nihalani, Twitter (FTTI)

New Delhi, May 20, 2017: Veteran filmmaker Govind Nihalani on Saturday said the era of the 1980s was about bringing a change and make it happen in reaction to mainstream cinema. During that period, people witnessed movies from his generation of filmmakers including Satyajit Ray and Mrinal Sen.

At a time when films like “Qurbani”, “Alibaba Aur 40 Chor”, “Karz” and “Dostana” were ruling the box office with heavy duty star cast, glamour, dance and music, Nihalani says a movement of what was called “new cinema or parallel cinema” started to prove that such elements were not necessary to make a film work.

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“When you ask how the films were made at that time… we had this movement going of new cinema or parallel cinema. That movement essentially started as a reaction to mainstream cinema,” Nihalani said here, during a panel discussion at the Habitat Film Festival.

“It brought out a thought that it was not necessary that you follow a pattern which was established by what we call now mainstream cinema. Which means you must have presence of stars, music, dance, there should be a happy ending… that was very important and that good wins over evil all the time,” he added.

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The 76-year-old and the recipient of six National Film Awards said the filmmakers on the flip side proved that the glamour quotient was not necessary and that films that connect people can also be appreciated and work.

“You can make films that connect with the people. Other elements which connect you with the audience, which requires more human empathy, concern with anything other than being happy a the end of it all… The fact that you can make the difference. You can make the change happen.

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 “When we started making films and the young generation that came in, they came with the idea that you can change something and that change is possible. At the core of it that was the thought. The stories that we chose, it had no stars, glamorous locations… whole thing was about the change and that we make it happen. Stories were chosen in that mood,” he added.

The other panellists include director Buddhadeb Dasgupta and filmmaker Avinash Das.

The Habitat Film Festival is being held until May 28 at the India Habitat Centre.

Other movies which are yet to be screened here include “East is East”, “Maroon”, “Trapped”, “Cholai”, “Sadgati”, “Mukti Bhawan”, “Mantra”, “Aakrosh”, “Veeram”, “Ardh Satya” and “Haraamkhor”. (IANS)

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Actress Rachel McAdams used to Meditate by practicing Medical Stitches on the set of Movie “Doctor Strange”

One of the actress' favourite things about her career is getting a chance to take a glimpse at others' lives and careers in her research for her characters

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Rachel Mcadams, Wikimedia

Los Angeles, Nov 14, 2016: Actress Rachel McAdams liked to meditate on the set of “Doctor Strange” by practicing medical stitches.

“My mum was a nursee and I just don’t posess that gene so I was always fascinated. It’s a job that takes so much guts. I shadowed a really great female neurosurgeon in Toronto and one in London, who taught me how to do stitches. It was very meditative, like knitting,” McAdams, who plays Christine Palmer — a doctor — in the film, told LOOK magazine.

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She added: “When I was bored on set, I would just pull out my… stitching wire. I don’t even know what it’s called, some doctor I am. But I would practise and it was great to jump into another world.”

One of the actress’ favourite things about her career is getting a chance to take a glimpse at others’ lives and careers in her research for her characters, reports femalefirst.co.uk.

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“I think it’s the thing I love most about my job, that you get to live so many lives in one lifetime. I have a bit of ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) when it comes to things, so variety is the spice of life for me,” she said.

But the actress also enjoyed the “weird” experience of working with so much special effects and computer generated imagery.

“When I read one of the scenes, I was simultaneously daunted and excited because it was like nothing I’d ever seen before. It was fresh and different and weird. It was like choreographing a dance. And Benedict was actually there for a lot of it, up on wires, flying around the room for hours on end,” she said. (IANS)

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Exclusive: Cinema enables Anuritta to Find and Lose herself at the same time

Winning the beauty pageant gave Anuritta a perfect launchpad in Mumbai's modelling world

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Anuritta (in middle) with other members of Film Mithila Makhaan. Image source: Champaran Studio
 -by Shillpi A Singh
NewsGram presents an exclusive tête-à-tête with the cast and crew of this year’s National Award winning Maithili film, Mithila Makhaan. In the fifth part of the series, Shillpi A Singh caught up with the film’s female lead Anuritta K Jha. In a freewheeling chat, the bright-eyed and bushy-tailed three films old model-turned-actor tells us about the literary background of her famous family, the highs as an actor of Hindi and regional language cinema, and gives a sneak peek into her forthcoming movies and much more.  
“I am seeking. I am striving. I am in it with all my heart!” is how actor Anuritta K Jha would like to be introduced to all and sundry.
Born in a family of litterateurs, Anuritta spent her early years in Katihar, Bihar and moved to Pilani in Rajasthan for schooling, and from there she landed in New Delhi to study fashion. And all through her growing up years, she was fascinated with the glitz and glamour that came along as a perk for a model. “I always wanted to be a model,” she said, with a childish grin.
Gifted with a beautiful visage, chiselled body and towering height, she became a sought-after name in the fashion world. Soon, she was all over, you name it, and she’s been there, done that! A popular face in Delhi’s modelling circuit in the mid-Naughties, she made a grand entry in the City of Dreams by winning Channel V’s Get Gorgeous contest in 2006.
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Winning the beauty pageant gave her a perfect launchpad in Mumbai’s modelling world. “It gave me an opportunity to explore, learn and grow in this industry.” From being a fashion student to a fashion model, it had been a smooth transition for her, and she soon set eyes on the big screen. “It was an expected move, barely a matter of when and not why for me,” she said. Her ardent suitor, success followed here as well.

Anuritta's dad. Image source: Champaran Studio
Anuritta’s dad. Image source: Champaran Studio

Dad’s the Word
If Anuritta’s granddad Upendra Nath Jha ‘Vyas’, Sahitya Akademi Award winner and first Chief Engineer of Bihar, has left behind an enviable literary legacy with his remarkable contribution to Maithili literature, her parents — Dr Shailendra K Jha and Dr Bhanu Jha — have done that as acclaimed economists. That’s quite a legacy. Her paternal uncles are academicians and litterateurs par excellence. “As a kid, my grandfather used to make all the children assemble in the courtyard and recite Shlokas in Sanskrit. It seemed such a futile exercise way back then, but now I realise that he intended all of us to stay closer to our roots and take pride in our culture and language,” said Anuritta about her fondest childhood memories.
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She is currently reading Du Patra, her grand father’s Sahitya Akademi Award-winning novel in Maithili. Her favourite though is father’s Economic Heritage of Mithila that stood her in good stead for her role of a girl from the Mithilanchal region in Mithila Makhaan. Coming from a close-knit family, she is extremely close to her father and elder brother Anshuman. “They are my best friends and will dole out a sincere and honest advice without being judgemental.” She owes her success to her family for being so progressive and supportive. “I am who I am because of my family,” she said with a lot of pride. Indeed, she ought to be proud; in small measures, she has contributed to Maithili films on its 50th anniversary, much like her famous family has done to the Maithili language.

A still from the film. Image source: Champaran Studio
A still from the film. Image source: Champaran Studio

Film circuit
“You cannot walk a straight line without a fixed point to follow,” she said on foraying into films, adding, “I consistently love to challenge myself.”
After winning the Get Gorgeous contest, she joined Atul Kasbekar’s modelling agency, Matrix. Reminiscing those days, she said, “It was a stepping stone of sorts.” As a model, she had been the face of umpteen products, but it was a television commercial for a face wash that made Anuritta give a second thought to acting as a career in 2010. She courted this passion by pursuing some acting courses and attending theatre workshops with Neeraj Kabi, her guru. It was a beautiful dalliance that reaped rich rewards when she made her dream debut with maverick filmmaker Anurag Kashyap’s Gangs of Wasseypur 1 and 2. Being from Bihar worked to her advantage. Though she had a measly role in the gang war drama, she managed to steal the show with her docile act as Shama Parveen, a character who adds to the rivalry between two families, and takes the plot forward. “I had auditioned for the role, and Anurag Kashyap liked my performance, and before I could realise, I was in the cult film as Shama Parveen. Initially, it seemed like a dream, and I had to pinch myself to make sure that it was indeed true.”
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Filmmaker, actor and writer Zeishan Quadri, who had penned the gangster saga of rage, rivalry, and retribution, said, “In Anuritta’s case, beauty isn’t only skin-deep. She’s strong because she knows her weakness, she’s beautiful because she’s aware of her flaws and she is wise enough to learn from her mistakes. She’s constantly evolving, and the best is yet to come.” But a perfectionist to the core, this Virgo loves to give her best to the role that she essays on the screen. She doesn’t shy away from calling herself a keen student, always eager and anxious to learn the nuances of acting. “I attend acting workshops now and then. I love to indulge myself by doing meaningful theatre. It helps me learn the art better. I find it educative, informative, and motivating.”

Mithila Makhaan that won National Award for best Regional Film.
Mithila Makhaan that won National Award for best Regional Film.

Staying rooted

Fresh from the success of Gangs of Wasseypur 1 and 2, she landed the lead role in Mithila Makhaan, her most-talked about outing so far. In the Maithili film, she essayed the role of Maithili, a fine arts graduate who lives true to her name by returning to her village and running an NGO for the promotion of Mithila paintings and in the process happens to provide a decent livelihood to thousands of rural women. She shows her strength and attitude when she tells the male protagonist, Kranti, who is based in Toronto that “It takes a lot of courage to leave behind a life of luxury in foreign shores and settle in the village”. As a parting gift, she gifted him a beautiful painting depicting the plight of those affected by the Kosi deluge that forces the lead actor to take a call and return to his motherland for “if he doesn’t, then who will work to make it a better place for others”. It is a film that highlights the best of the region and gave Anuritta an opportunity to connect with her mother tongue, and appreciate the beauty of the beautiful language.
Made on a modest budget, Mithila Makhaan shows her in a deglam avatar. She is dressed in ordinary cotton salwar-kameez and sans any make-up. Her role will surely redefine the very meaning of that oft-used word. Buoyed by its success, she said, “I am keeping my options open for regional language cinema. The role has to be emphatic, and the story has to meaningful.”
anuritta-jugni
A Perfect Note
Her next, Jugni, was written and directed by Shefali Bhushan, and released in January 2016. The movie was based in Punjab, and Anuritta essayed the role of Preeto, a Sikh girl who lives in a village and is madly in love with Mastana. It is an out and out musical film, and though Preeto has no sense of music, it becomes synonymous with Mastana and her unconditional love for him. The entry of another character leaves her shattered. “The film explored myriad emotions through music and connected it soulfully with beautiful songs. It is a story of how letting go of someone in love is more fulfilling than clinging on to it. My role as Preeto was quite taxing emotionally, and I had to learn Punjabi. It was a great learning experience, and I am happy to be part of it.” The film is all set for an international premiere at the prestigious London Indian Film Festival (LIFF) to be held in July.

Arunitta in Moonlight Night Cafe
Arunitta in Amit Mishr’s Moonlight Night Cafe

She has just finished three other interesting short films that are ready for release. An exciting project that she’s kicked about is Amit Mishr’s Moonlight Cafe, a mockumentary following the misadventures of the unlovely Abhimanyu Gujjar from Mumbai to Dharamkot in Himachal Pradesh. It boasts of an international cast and crew. Apart from these, two other films are expected to go on the floors later this year.
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For a layman, Anuritta comes across as a beautiful Mithila painting, sans shading, full of bright and vivacious colours, depicting the best from the region and reflecting her connect with the land. And just like the paintings where a double line is drawn for outlines, representing the favourable and unfavourable circumstances, and the gap is filled with either cross or tiny straight lines, she is here to fill the gap between the two extremes with her realistic cinematic portrayals. The reason, she said, “It is because I know what I am doing, love what I am doing and believe in what I am doing.”
 (In the next part of the series, we will introduce the film’s music director. Stay tuned!)
The author can be reached at shilpi.devsingh@gmail.com 
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