Tuesday, 28 May 2019

A Gun Salute for Veeru Devgan


Jaideep Sen

Jaideep Sen pays tribute to Bollywood's Star Action Director

As I stood in front of Veeru (Devgan) Ji’s pyre last evening I felt that an era of genuine “greatness” had come to an end.


When I kissed his forehead, through numbing pain that crossed my heart, the only thought that passed my mind was: why can’t our parents be immortal.  


It took me back to the Prayer meeting organized for the late Divya Bharti’s Mother where the priest conducting the ceremony had in his discourse said “Jo Bhagwan dikhte hain woh Mata Pita hote hain, jo Mata Pita nahin dikhte woh Bhagwan” 


These words have made a lasting impact on me. I’ve unfortunately lost both my parents and who would feel the impact of those words more than me.


Veeru Devgan: Hindi Contemporary Cinema's First Star Action Director
Veeru Ji is the first Star Action Director in contemporary Hindi cinema, a name that has graced the credit titles of more than 80 films & my personal favourites among them are Manoj Kumar Ji’s Kranti, Raj Sippy’s Loha and Rajiv Rai’s Tridev. The sheer scale of the action of these three Films is breathtaking and considering that all three were huge multi-starrers, to weave in the strength of the actors into the designing of the sequences and justifying the presence of each of the actors in them is the work of a gifted and genius craftsman which Veeru Ji indeed was.


Here I must make a special mention of Kranti because Veeru Ji considered its monumental filmmaker, Manoj Kumar Ji his Guru and Manoj Ji had a very special place in Veeru Ji’s life and heart. I overheard veteran actor Raza Murad Saab mentioning to someone at Veeru Ji’s last rites that it was Manoj Ji’s Roti Kapda aur Makaan which had a big climax set at a railway bridge with which the fraternity took notice of Veeru Ji and he even played a small cameo in Kranti.


Not many people are aware that Veeru Ji had actually come to Mumbai to be an actor but destiny had other plans and he became one of the biggest action directors of Indian cinema from east to west and north to literally south where in collaboration with the legendary actor, Jeetendra Ji, he has given an avalanche of mega hits in Himmatwala, Justice Chaudhary, Mawali and many more.


Veeru Ji also choreographed the action for Super Star Rajnikant Sir’s debut Hindi film Andhaa Kanoon and devised for the first time a concept of multiple kicks where the hero would jump up in the air and kick the opponent multiple times before landing on the ground. This gravity defying stunt was lapped up by the audience which went ballistic with applause. This was something which Veeru Ji had conceived with his acute sense of editing which gave the Hero a Super Hero status; that is how big a hero Veeru Ji was behind the camera.


Ajay Devgan in Phool aur Kaante
Let’s now come to a glorious success story of Veeru Ji’s life which is the arrival and immediate super success of his son, Vishal Devgan, who took the nation by storm as Ajay Devgan when he burst on screen straddling two motorbikes in Phool aur Kaante. Ace filmmaker Rohit Shetty – for whom too Veeru Ji is like a father – paid a tribute to this sequence in Golmaal Returns. Rohit himself was an assistant director on Ajay’s debut film.


Since Ajay’s birth Veeru Ji had decided that what He couldn’t achieve as an actor, his son would and that is exactly what Ajay achieved.


I’d like to believe that Ajay’s success story has been singlehandedly fuelled by Veeru Ji’s passion and determination who left no stone unturned to make it happen. I doff my hat to Ajay’s devotion for his father and his dream to give his hundred per cent  to realise and fulfil his father’s dream. 

When Ajay lit his father’s pyre, am sure Veeru Ji would have had a smile within him as he bid adieu to this world seeing his son’s super success. Ajay too would have had the satisfaction of being the successful and dutiful son his father had always hoped to have. Having interacted with and experienced the greatness of Veeru Ji, I can say with certainty that they don’t make Men of Steel like Veeru Devgan anymore.

Jaideep Sen is a filmmaker and a connoisseur of the art of storytelling. 
 

Monday, 27 May 2019

No Safe Zone by Adite Banerjie - Cover Reveal

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Do authors love some of their own books more than others they have written?  Having been a  writer for a while now, I believe that every book is special - and I have felt deeply about each of my characters. But if I were to pick that one title that has a special place in my heart, it would be No Safe Zone.

It's a romantic thriller - my first in this genre - which is set in one of my favourite places in the world: Jaipur. It features a feisty heroine Qiara Rana who is an activist and wants to change the world. The hero Kabir Shorey is to die for - an Intelligence Bureau officer who rides a mean motorbike and catches the bad guys! And these two have a history. Can Qiara forgive Kabir for betraying her? Can Kabir overcome his past and do good by Qiara? 

Writing this story was a challenge as it was an escapist romance set in a real world. I'm so so happy to bring No Safe Zone out as an e-book. But before that, I have a Cover Reveal... I hope you love the cover as much as I do. It features the beautiful and mysterious Jal Mahal (in Jaipur) which was an inspiration for my story.

Blurb


London-bred activist Qiara Rana will do anything to save her mentor and their NGO, Girls Rock!, from ruin. Even if it means visiting the city she had vowed never to return to.  But within a few hours of landing in New Delhi, she is being chased by a gunman and is a potential suspect in the murder of a high profile businessman. The only person she can turn to for help is Kabir Shorey, the man who stood her up ten years ago. 

On a mission to bust an international women’s trafficking ring, Intelligence Bureau officer Kabir Shorey runs slam bang into the girl who has tormented his dreams. He is determined to protect her but can he save himself from the all-consuming passions that flare up between them all over again? 

As the past and present collide in a deadly plot of crime and greed that moves from the cosmopolitan streets of London and Delhi to the bazaars and villages of Rajasthan, old secrets are ripped away. Treading the fine lines between safety and danger, truth and lies, love and betrayal, Qiara and Kabir discover that in life there is no safe zone.



And now for the Cover....




I'd love to hear your thoughts about the cover. :)


 

Saturday, 18 May 2019

The Power of a Progressive Pen - by Jaideep Sen

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Week S of the Authors' Tips Series is proving to be a pathbreaking one. 

In a second post for Alphabet S, Jaideep Sen writes about the significance of social messaging in films, particularly the kind of progressive writing as categorised in Master Screenwriter Salim Khan's films.

Read on...


When my writer friend, Adite Banerjie, mentioned that her blog is doing something called “Week S” which is celebrating any Phenomenon starting with the Alphabet S, I thought it was only apt that I did my next piece on Phenomenal Writer, Salim Saab.


Cinema breaks the time barrier, becomes timeless and its respect is etched in stone when along with the required ingredient of entertainment it also deals with socially relevant issues and progressive characters. This has been the hallmark of Salim Saab’s writing – both as an independent writer as well as in his writing partnership with Javed Akhtar.  
Satyen Kappu in Deewar
The dialogues spoken by Satyen Kappu Ji in Deewar: “Hamari shikayat yeh hain ki hamare aate ke kanastar khali kyon hain” and Kumar Gaurav in Naam:  “Zameer aur pet ki ladaai mein zameer sirf kitabon mein jit ta hain,haqiqat mein jeet pet ki hoti hain” bear testimony to that by equating social and economic disparity to hunger. This is the most raw, naked and hard-hitting expression that a pen can deliver. This outcry is born out of angst and progression out of sensitivity.


Kumar Gaurav in Naam
In their incredible body of work, perhaps the most progressive character that comes to mind is Thakur Baldev Singh in Sholay. On one side, he’s the man seeking revenge for the brutal massacre of his family and on the other we see him as the extremely understanding and sensitive father-in-law who not only senses his widowed daughter-in-law Radha’s sorrow and loneliness but also her tilt towards Jai. He proposes to her father that Radha should get married again.

This scene is remarkably overwhelming because Radha’s own father is hesitant and embarrassed at even the thought of her remarriage and how sensibly and sensitively Thakur Saab explains to him his reasons for the proposal and convinces the Father.
 
What has stayed back with me is how progressive this piece of writing is which can only be a product of extremely noble minds who through art influence society to become a better place to live in. This in turn raises the contribution and respect of cinema to a dignified pedestal.

Sanjeev Kumar and Iftekhar in Sholay
This quality of Salim Saab-Javed Saab’s inspirational writing found its voice in last season’s KBC TV show, where one of its contestants from Himachal Pradesh mentioned that one sad spot in their family was that her younger sister (who was in the audience along with their parents) had lost her husband at a young age and that though they were trying to get her remarried, they were finding it difficult because even today it’s not a very socially accepted norm. The family was in tears at this point and to reassure them Mr. Bachchan had mentioned how he and his fraternity of performing artistes try to do their bit for society through their films. He had also quoted none other than the Epic film Sholay and his track in the film with Jaya Ji as an attempt to create awareness that a widow is entitled to remarry and live a happy life once again.

This just shows how foresighted the Masters of Writing were -- what they wrote in 1973 (released in 1975) is even in 2019, and shall always be, the reference point of the power of a progressive pen. 

Jaideep Sen is a filmmaker and a connoisseur of the art of storytelling












Monday, 13 May 2019

The First Screenwriter of Indian Films

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Welcome to Week S of Authors' Tips A - Z of Writing. 

If this is the first time you are visiting this series, here's a quick recap. 

Authors share their tips on writing fiction and each week we talk about various aspects of writing. This time, I'm doing a slightly different kind of piece. I hope you enjoy it. 

Screenwriting is to filmmaking what a story is to a novel. Without a script or screenplay you can't make a movie.

Indian screenplay writers have not enjoyed the limelight until a few decades ago. And perhaps the most celebrated film writers are Salim Khan and Javed Akhtar.

However, Indian movies have a long and chequered history. Films have been made in India for more than a hundred years. And while we know and have heard of the pioneer auteurs of Indian films -- such as Dhundiraj Govind Phalke who's better known as Dadasaheb Phalke -- rarely has the Independent Screenwriter (who was not also a director) been talked about.

I have been reading Mihir Bose's excellent book titled Bollywood: A History where I came across the person who might well be called the Father of Indian Screenwriting -- Agha Hashr Kashmiri. Born in 1879 as Muhammad Shah, he hailed from a family of Kashmiri shawl merchants. His first play Aftab-e-Muhabbat was published in 1897. At the tender age of 18, he began his career as a playwright in Bombay.

According to Wikipedia he joined the New Albert Theatrical Company and his first play for the company was an adaptation of Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale titled Mureed-e-shak. It was a big success and he went on to adapt many of Shakespeare's plays. So much so that he came to be known as the "Indian Shakespeare", writes Bose. Kashmiri also Indianized the adaptations by adding short songs and dialogues with local idioms.

Among his most popular plays were Sita Banbas based on the Ramayana and Bilwamangal, the story of a poet who falls in love with a courtesan, Aankh Ka Nasha, dealing with the themes of prostitution and treachery, and Rustom O Sohrab, a tragic Persian folk story.

In 1914, Hashr, joined one of the biggest film companies of the time, Madan Theatre in Calcutta. He adapted many of his plays into silent films and when the talkies era began, so did his career as an independent screenwriter.

One of his most popular plays was Yahudi Ki Ladki (The Daughter of a Jew) which was published in 1913 and became a classic of the Parsi-Urdu theatre circuit. It was adapted for silent movies and was made into films during the talkies era as well. The most prominent of these adaptations were Yahudi ki Ladki in 1933 by New Theatres, and in 1957 with the same title. Bimal Roy's film based on the same play, Yahudi,  released in 1958 and featured Dilip Kumar, Sohrab Modi and Meena Kumari in lead roles. (On a personal note, my father, Desh Mukerji, worked as an assistant art director in Roy's Yahudi).

Mihir Bose writes: "Such was his (Hashr's) prominence that Urdu, the linguistic product of the meeting of Islam and Hinduism, exerted a tremendous influence on early Indian films, both in terms of the language used and the techniques of the Urdu stage. Hashr also introduced an innovation that has remained to this day: of having a comic sub-plot in every Indian movie, even if the film itself is far from a comedy. By the time he died in June 1935, at the age of 56, his countrywide reputation was so immense that all studios and theatres closed for the day as a mark of respect."