Tag Archives: awards

It’s not just Akshay Kumar, but the female characters in the satirical dark comedy drama, Jolly LLB 2, were also applauded.

It’s not just Akshay Kumar, but the female characters in the satirical dark comedy drama, Jolly LLB 2, were also applauded.

One such character was the wonderfully-nuanced cameo by SayaniGupta, who played Hina Siddiqui, a young Muslim woman driven to despair.  It’s a small but pivotal and deeply impactful role, so much so that Sayani was lauded for her performance by some of the veterans from the industry. Twitterati in large numbers also poured their love for her.

Gupta has so far been doing a balancing act between commercial and art cinema. She has received critical acclaim for her offbeat and distinctive roles in films like her debut Margarita With A Straw (played the role of Kalki’s love interest)and most recently Fan (as Shah Rukh Khan’s secretary), however, Sayani doesn’t take compliments or criticism seriously.

“I have never sat down to ponder over what others have to say because ultimately you know what you have done. Piyush Mishra (theatre and film actor, NSD alumni) called me few days back when I was shooting for Jagga Jasoos, and said while referring to Jolly LLB 2, ‘I didn’t know you acted so well.’  Lot of people are complimenting me on social media as well. Somebody told me that they went to watch the film thrice because of me. There are lot of people who said I made them feel for the part and I made them cry,” says Sayani.

sayani

She continues, “My performance really moved my mother, and she is far too detached about the industry and not at all excited about the film world or what I am doing. She is not in favour of me acting and it was quite a struggle to convince her when I went to FTII (Film and Television Institute of India). Little by little, she is coming to terms with it but she would have rather seen me as an IAS officer or in a regular job.”

“We are from middle class family and they didn’t want their only daughter to get into films. Obviously there are certain perceptions about the film industry. My close friends never say nice things, they are always critiquing my work, but finally they felt that I was brilliant in Jolly LLB 2.”

Strangely enough, Sayani has been getting offers for horror movies for last few years and she, too, fails to understand the reason for it. “Maybe they think I am a Bengali, I have big eyes…” she laughs.

While Sayani so far has rejected two offers post Jolly LLB 2 (as  she is “choosy”, “instinctive”, “and not ready for it”), she is certainly excited about her first international project, The Hungry, which is an Indo-British production starring Naseeruddin Shah and Tisca Chopra. The film, for which the actors were very selectively chosen, is directed by debutante filmmaker Bornila Chatterjee, who is an alumnus from New York’s Tisch School of the Arts. The Hungry is an adaptation of William Shakespeare tragedy Titus Androcinus, which is believed to have been written between 1588 and 1593.

“This year marks the 400th death anniversary of Shakespeare. His stories could seem a tad hyper-real for this era, but this film is a realistic take. The script won at a collaborative cine-lab,” says Sayani, further adding, “The film has a bunch of deadly actors. We shot for it in Delhi and Agra. The ambience on set was stimulating and since we all got along so well, it turned out to be a great shoot.”

Recently, Sayani earned an honourable mention for the Best Actress award for her short film, Leeches, at the Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles  (IFFLA). In just two years of her career, she’s also bagged one of the lead roles opposite Naseeruddin Shah with The Hungry. The actress considers it her privilege to act alongside ‘Naseer’, who was her teacher at the FTII.

“Naseer was very excited about his role after decades. He plays my father. He has been my teacher and lot of my understanding about acting and the craft is because of him. It was almost like reassurance of sorts when he would come to take our class. I adore him as a human being. He is fun to be around. He has always taught us how acting is all about reacting. He is a keen listener, which adds to the performance,” she says, adding:

“There are two of the coolest men I have worked with – Shah Rukh Khan and Naseeruddin Shah. They are sensitive, they are aware, they don’t take themselves too seriously. They are normal dudes.”

So did Sayani take any advice from the two “coolest” men?

“Some of the things Naseer told me is: ‘Learn your lines till you bump into a furniture. Know your lines backwards. Study the script well. Be relaxed and don’t take things too seriously. Make it fun and light.’ On the other hand, there’s much to learn just by the way Shah Rukh carries himself. He is the most technically sound actor, I feel. His understanding, the cleanliness with which he does everything, his craft is solid. He doesn’t show it. He is persistently hardworking and also the humility. He doesn’t take his stardom seriously,” she reveals.

Two of Sayani’s “friends” from the industry are the erstwhile directors – Rajkumar Hirani and Vishal Bhardwaj. She may not have offers from them yet but she certainly takes their advice. “I don’t talk work with them. Hirani often tells me that I should give people time after they have seen my film. I did audition for a part in Rangoon but Vishal told me that it won’t be good enough for me. I would never ask them to cast me because that could hamper our relationship. Whenever they want to cast me, they will.”

Sayani is currently shooting for Ranbir Kapoor-Katrina Kaif- starrer Jagga Jasoos which has been in the making for a long time. “When I signed the film I was playing the only narrator in the film. I had a separate track of my own. But since there is no script — Dada (Director Anurag Basu) doesn’t work with scripts, he writes as he goes along — my role has changed. I will know what my part is only after I see the film. Also, it is a very difficult film when it comes to format. It is musical, it’s a children’s film, and it is not a normal narrative. I play a 14-year-old girl and that is all I know (laughs),” she says.

Shah Rukh Khan: ‘As an actor, I do not perform keeping awards in mind; it just happens

Mumbai: Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan, who launched the upcoming international film award titled ‘Indian Academy Awards’ says he loves awards and considers them the collective applause for his work.

Shah Rukh Khan. File photo/Solaris Images

“I love being a movie star and I love awards. After working for some time in the industry, we all reach a point from where we need some kind of applause and recognition. My awards are the collective applause for the work that I have done that year or on a film,” Shah Rukh told media here.

Khan added that in his opinion, none of his films so far in the vast body of his work is worthy of a National Award.

“If I haven’t got an award, I didn’t deserve it.. as an actor, I do not perform keeping any award in mind, it happens,” he added.

Indian Academy Awards, conceptualised by Brainstorm Entertainment and executed by Cineyug will held in California to celebrate world cinema of three major film industries — Bollywood, Tollywood and Hollywood.

Apart from Shah Rukh Khan, the event had Vandana Krishna, Saurabh Pandey of Brainstorm Entertainment, US Consul General Tom Vajda and Aly Morani from Cineyung.

Explaining the idea of celebrating cinema on such a huge platform, Shah Rukh, asking people not to compare it to the Oscars or any such awards, said: “Bollywood films are hugely respected by American artistes. Creating this kind of platform will help us to not only promote our Indian films of different industries, but also create awareness of our work.

“India is one of the old filmmaking countries of the world. So as a member of film industry, I feel it is our responsibility to educate people about our cinema that can resolve lot of misconception about Indian films.”

One of the unique factors of the award is film lovers’ participation. People can vote for their favorite films, stars in over 21 categories from the official website of Indian Academy Awards.

IAA founder Pandey said: “The Indian film industry is going global and the Indian Academy Awards is a celebration of that global, democratic academy that is completely transparent and all encompassing. Our aim with these awards is to bring a sense of realism and credibility to cinema awards in the Indian film industry. This is an academy that never sleeps.”

Vajda said: “We are very pleased to support the collaboration between the American and Indian film industries, in a way that recognises and promotes great talent and storytelling in movies. California is a perfect destination to showcase this for both American and Indian audiences”.

Indian Academy Awards will be a two days extravaganza of live performances by various superstars of Bollywood including Shah Rukh that will be choreographed by Shiamak Davar along with music and fashion shows on 7-8 July 2017 in Silicon Valley.

Should popularity of a mainstream film stand in the way of National Film Awards?

One of the instantaneous, and perhaps even anticipated, reactions to the announcement of the winners of the 63rd National Film Awards was that it’d have been too much to expect a Ramesh Sippy-led jury to look beyond popular Hindi cinema. Considering that films like Piku, Tanu Weds Manu Returns, and Bajirao Mastani picked up 10 major awards amongst themselves, this would have been an expected response. In the past, more often than not, whenever Hindi, or specifically popular variety or ‘Bollywood’, swept off the top honours it has had a similar effect but unlike the previous few instances when nothing could explain a Saif Ali Khan walking away with the Best Actor citation for Hum Tum even when there was a Shah Rukh Khan with a Swades in the fray, this time around few can question the winners. Of course, as with every single award, one can argue the choice of the winner in a few categories.

One of the reasons for people reacting in a particular manner when commercial Hindi box-office hits end up winning big at the National Awards is that it, in all probability, is one of the few remaining platforms offering nationwide recognition for regional language films. Moreover, a National Award transforms the prospects of regional films, especially smaller or lesser-known ones by providing a shot at getting an audience and even transforms the commercial feasibility. Intriguingly enough, there is another side to the entire argument — should popularity or commercial success of a mainstream film stand in the way of a National Award? There can be little doubt in the jury’s decision to confer Kangana Ranaut with the Best Actress award for her double-role in Tanu Weds Manu Returns or a Juhi Chaturvedi and a Himanshu Sharma being jointly lauded for their writing in Piku and Tanu Weds Manu Returns respectively and so, therefore, it would have been unjust to let the commercial aspect of these films undermine the craft of the individuals.

Kangana Raut in Tanu Weds Manu Returns. IBNLive

While a jury chairperson holds some weight, in the end, most jury decisions are based on consensus. Although every jury decision can’t be ideal by being unanimous, it still ends up being a conclusion that majority agree to. Looking at the list of the winners across most categories, especially the technical awards, one can see how the jury went for something that was obvious. Both Tanu Weds Manu Returns andPiku were hailed as the writer’s triumph and despite actors across both films enjoying positive reviews, it were the writers who walked away with most of the glory. In that sense, the jury’s decision then to acknowledge both Chaturvedi and Sharma isn’t inconspicuous. Similarly, Bajrangi Bhaijaan evoked the same reaction from across the country and, therefore, it’s hardly surprising that it was adjudged the Best Popular Film Providing Wholesome Entertainment.

Film juries don’t exist in a vacuum and at times seem to give in to the general reactions or the wave created by some films. Take for instance Bajirao Mastani. The film’s near checklist-like production design where terms such as ‘grand’ and ‘opulent’ appear to be the only operative conditions, seemed to be reasons good enough to be awarded for cinematography (Sudeep Chatterjee), choreography (Remo D’Souza) and production design (Saloni Dhatrak, Sriram Iyengar, Sujeet Sawant).

For this writer, there is nothing extraordinary in D’Souza’s vision while executing Pingaand Deewani Mastani, two songs that fetched the award for Best Choreography. The energy in Pinga, an imagined situation where the two wives of Peshwa Bajirao (Ranveer Singh), namely Kashibai (Priyanka Chopra) and Mastani (Deepika Padukone) prance around, is almost both a visual as well as conceptual reprisal of director Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s previous Dola re dola number from Devdas where his notional flight of fancy got both Chandramukhi (Madhuri Dixit) and Paro (Aishwarya Rai) together. In contrast, director Bala’s Thaarai Thappattai used choreography within songs and music interludes to show characters not only develop but also transform. The film depicts the plight of folk singers using the lives and times of a nadaswaram expert Sannasi (M Sasikumar) and his father Saamipulavan (GM Kumar) and its Best Background Score (Ilaiyaraaja) win notwithstanding, it’s a pity that the choreography went unnoticed. By the same token, this writer feels that Bajirao Mastani’s production design, too, could have been judged in isolation wherein by themselves the grand sets look breathtaking but at many places end up overburdening the narrative. Even though one could still substantiate these choices, the jury’s decision to honour Bhansali as the Best Director is tricky. Bhansali’s inimitable stamp is all over the film and agreed, that if one were to take him out, there would be very few things that could make Bajirao Mastani stand on its own but when seen next to the Malayalam film Pathemari or the Tamil feature Visaranai, the choice of Best Director seems shaky.

In retrospect, every jury seems to send out a subtle message about the context in which the nominations are viewed. Looking at the winners of the 63rd National Awards, one could be mistaken to think that somewhere, as always, it’s only the mainstream cinema that is readily recognised but this isn’t the case. The line dividing mainstream and others is getting finer and this can be seen from the manner in which young filmmakers in not only Hindi but also regional languages such as Marathi and Tamil are pushing the envelope. A Masaan (Best Debut Director) or a Dum Laga ke Haisha (Best Hindi Film, Best Lyrics), a Ringan (Best Marathi Film) and a Visaranai (Best Tamil Film, Best Editing, Best Supporting Actor) are as lauded as a Baahubali. With the first three of the four films mentioned directed by first-time filmmakers, it wouldn’t be surprising if the slipstream is soon mistaken for the mainstream. Once the dust settles, the fact that there were 72 first-time filmmakers in the reckoning this year would leave us with the warm feeling that mainstream or what have you, Indian cinema is headed for good times.