Lights, camera, action?

Mar 13, 2014, 07:00 IST | Malavika Sangghvi

Over 30 years ago, a young man came back from Harvard wanting to make movies

Over 30 years ago, a young man came back from Harvard wanting to make movies. That his family happened to be a blue chip business one, or that he was one of those expected to steer its fortunes in the future, did not appear to be a major hurdle: he would somehow do both, he said; fulfill his responsibilities to clan and country, even while making the films he wanted to.

Sooni Taraporevala and Mira Nair

And so, three decades later, when we receive an invitation to Mahindra initiative Mumbai Mantra’s celebrations of its partnering with the Sundance Institute, ‘to champion an emerging generation of exciting screenwriters and film makers’, we know that the young man has made good on his word and that Anand Mahindra, chairman, Mahindra Group, one of the country’s most reputable business conglomerates, is well on his way to fulfilling his dream.

In its third year now, the Mumbai Mantra–Sundance Institute has provided an opportunity for eight Indian screenwriters to be mentored by industry notables, to develop their work and hone their skills each year. Along with that, the Mahindra Global Film Maker Award has been instituted along with the Sundance Institute, to recognise excellence in world cinema.

Boman Irani and Anand Mahindra

And this Sunday will witness much felicitation when the likes of Vikramaditya Motwane, Uma Da Cunha, Advaita Kala, Boman Irani and Sharmila Tagore gather at a suburban hotel to recognise some of these initiatives.

And interestingly, one of the luminaries who will be felicitated this Sunday, as part of the third edition of Creative Advisors of the fellowships, will be Sooni Taraporevala, who incidentally had been a college mate of Mahindra’s at Harvard.

Yes, that’s when he’d signed on for a course in filmmaking at the venerable institution. Along with Meera Nair. Who made Salaam Mumbai.

So when will Anand Mahindra take the lead from his illustrious batch mates, pick up the microphone and shout lights, camera, action? Your guess is as good as mine.

RIP Bobby
Who says the film industry does not have a heart? Watching Queen, we were moved to find that a wonderful montage of video clips had been cobbled together as a tribute to the late Bobby Chawla, who, from all accounts, was one of the most beloved people in the industry. That this was carried along with a film that did not have any perceivable connection with the producer who had been CEO of Shah Rukh Khan’s Red Chillies Entertainment is testament to the regard he was held in. 

Shah Rukh and Juhi Chawla at Bobby’s cremation. Pic/Satyajit Desai

And on the screen, when the bubbling young man with the endearing smile that his sister Juhi became so famous for said, “It’s time to pack up,” we felt his loss too.

Anurag ki gallantry
There are some people whose sensibility one just can’t fault. Yesterday, when we commended Kalki Koechlin’s singular punch out for women that’s gone viral, we restrained from mentioning a small part of it that could have been construed as her personal situation. 

But, our media antennae went ‘uh –oh’. Because truth be told, it would have been just the sort of thing that someone would see a story in.

Kalki Koechlin and Anurag Kashyap

And then, when we read this post from her filmmaker husband Anurag Kashyap, we could guess what had happened.

“It’s pathetic what India Today has done, Kalki’s brilliant piece on women empowerment was made into gossip by one headline. It has suddenly become about us and is being misinterpreted and the real point of it is being sidelined by gossipmongers,” said the award-winning director. “So much for holding conclaves and wanting to bring a change.

There is more to that woman, than her husband,” he thundered. “And our issues are beyond the understanding of the gossip-mongering media and you will not get it even if we told you, because your voyeuristic minds are not so evolved yet. And INDIA TODAY calls itself a respectful magazine. It’s embarrassing and sad the way this incredible piece has been pitched to the world,” he said.

Media watchers are keen to see how the magazine that’s long championed women (and is in fact headed by many feisty women) responds.

Twitter travails
And who is the young business leader whose Twitter following though very large and active appears to have one too many names from the Middle East? An associate of his, who had the time, did some investigation and found that amongst the thousands appeared what seemed suspiciously like bulk buying. “It’s happening in politics and it’s happening in business,” he said ruefully. “And I really admired the guy for his online clout and his vibrant social media persona.”  

Romancing Mumbai
I don’t know if I am the only one in the world who suffers from the syndrome, but each time I watch a movie, one that truly moves me, I spend the next few hours imagining I’m still in it. 

Which is why I walked away from the Metro cinema yesterday after watching Queen experiencing an epiphany.

Because, just as the protagonist played by Kangana Ranaut in this absolutely delightful film finds herself in the small joys of life: walking alone, enjoying the every day pleasures of a city, I, too, felt the same.

The familiarity of the stunning art–deco balustrade at the Metro, its surface shined by millions of hands; the honk and hoot of Mumbai evening; the starch scratch sound of a diligent pavement sweeper as he swept up a small gale of leaves and dust: and the wisdom that the film imparted: ‘life is to be lived and not feared. Never give up. Take courage in oneself.’ All this made up for a magical Mumbai interlude. Sometimes, it’s the smallest things that please.

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