The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling is one of the most famous and read book worldwide. If you are a kid from the 90’s then you will remember the cartoon series that used to come on Doordarshan with the same name and who can forget the all time hit song from the series composed by Vishal Bhardwaj and written by Gulzar – Jungle Jungle Pata Chala Hai, which is still a hit among kids.
This week Disney released the movie adaptation of the much-loved book directed by Jon Favreau laden with VFX and 3D starring Neel Sethi. The movie literally follows the book telling the story of Mowgli (Neel Sethi) a human boy raised by the wolves Raksha (Lupita Nyong’o) and Akela (Giancarlo Esposito) ever since he was a baby and brought to them by Bagheera (Ben Kingsley), the black panther. When the fearsome scarred Bengal Tiger Shere Khan (Idris Elba) threatens his life since man isn’t allowed in the jungle, Mowgli leaves his jungle home. Guided by Bagheera and Baloo the bear (Bill Murray), he sets out on a journey of self-discovery while evading the man-hunting Shere Khan. Along the way, Mowgli encounters jungle creatures who do not exactly have his best interests at heart including Kaa (Scarlett Johansson) the python and the smooth-talking Bornean orangutan-resembling Gigantopithecus King Louie (Christopher Walken), who tries to coerce Mowgli into giving up the secret to the elusive and deadly red flower. Will Mowgli succumb to King Louie’s wishes and assist him in attaining the red flower, will he defeat Shere Khan, or will he forsake the jungle for the safety of the human village is what the rest of the film is all about.
The film that combines live action with flawless CGI animation is a visual masterpiece. Neel Sethi the 12-year-old child debutant does a wonderful job. I would highly recommend him for all the major awards for the best actor category as he has given a performance that can put most of the experienced actors to shame. The voices of popular actors like Bill Murray, Scarlett Johansson, Ben Kingsley etc., used for the various animals does justice to their characters.
The technical team from the cinematographer Bill Pope, to the entire VFX team and editor Mark Livolsi needs to be given a standing ovation. They have come up with a technical masterpiece. The animals in the movie for not even a frail second makes you think are artificial. The 3D as well as the sound design further adds to the charm of the movie.
Overall this is a wonderful movie that offers spectacular visual treat and one should definitely go and watch! Highly Recommended!!
As the year 2015 is coming to an end, it’s time for us to look back and see the best movies of 2015. Statutory Warning: This is my opinion and it might differ from yours therefore please do not crucify me 😉
This year belonged to the letter ‘B’. Most of the movies which had a title starting with the letter ‘B’ eg: Baby, Badlapur, Bajrangi Bhaijaan, Baahubali, Bajirao Mastani etc. surprisingly not only did well at the Box Office but also garnered critical acclaim. So here we go.
Baby: One of the first movies to release in 2015 starring Akshay Kumar and Tapsee Pannu was a winner with the masses and the critics. Directed by Neeraj Pandey who had earlier directed A Wednesday and Special 26, this spy action thriller had some breathtaking stunts and edge of the seat moments. This songless movie made at a budget of Rs.58 crores set the ball rolling for Akshay Kumar and earned few crores short of Rs.100 Crores.
Badlapur: This Varun Dhawan revenge drama with some soulful music was released one week after the Valentine’s Day. Badlapur not only gave Sriram his first hit after Ek Haseena Thi, Johnny Gaddarand Agent Vinod but also gave Varun a major image makeover, who has always been associated with candy floss romances in the past. This Sriram Raghavan directed movie had some high power performances from actors like Nawazuddin Siddique, Huma Qureshi, Divya Dutta and Radhika Apte. Made on a budget of Rs.25 Crores, this action crime thriller earned around Rs.77 Crores at the Box Office.
Dum Laga Ke Haisha: This Ayushmann Khurrana – Bhumi Pednekar romantic comedy from YRF was one of the surprise hits of the year. Set in 1995, the movie tells the story of a loser who gets married to a fat girl against his wishes and how during the course of their marital journey they fall in love with each other. A simple story that not only won big hearts but also big money for the producers. This Sharat Katariya movie made at a budget of Rs.15 Crores (inclusive of Print and Publicity) earned around Rs.45 Crores net at the Box Office.
NH10: The shy ‘Taaniji’ from Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi turned producer with this movie and also went out of her comfort zone to do a slasher thriller revolving around her character. The plot inspired from the English movie Eden Lake tells the story of a couple whose road trip goes for a toss after a chance encounter with a group of violent criminals who kill their sister and her lover in the name of honour killing. This Navdeep Singh directed movie garnered a lot of critical acclaim for Sharma and the masses also loved the movie making it a sleeper hit at the Box Office. Made on a budget of Rs.13 Crores, NH10 made Rs.33 Crores at the Box Office.
Baahubali – The Beginning: This is one of the rarest cases in Indian cinema where a dubbed movie made more than Rs.100 Crores at the Box Office. Directed by the hugely talented SS. Rajamouli this epic historical fiction movie is first of the two parts. Starring Prabhas and Rana Daggubatti as two warring brothers fighting for control of an ancient Indian kingdom Maheshmati, this movie was an answer to Hollywood productions such as Game of Thronesand 300. The movie not only broke records within India but also internationally. Made at a budget of Rs.120 Crores the movie made Rs.600 Crores worldwide, breaking all language barriers. The second part Baahubali – The Conclusion is one of the most awaited movies of 2016.
Bajrangi Bhaijaan: Salman Khan starrers are a huge pull during Eid every year. However, 2015 Eid was special not only for Salman Khan but also to his fans as one of his career best movies released with a thundering response at the Box Office. This emotional drama directed by Kabir Khan tells the story of Pawan (Khan) a simpleton and an ardent devotee of Hanuman who finds a mute Pakistani girl (Harshali) separated from her family during her visit to India. He embarks on a journey to unite the kid with her family back in Pakistan. Also starring Kareena Kapoor and Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Bajrangi Bhaijaan made at a budget of Rs.90 Crores and produced by Salman Khan, garnered around Rs.324 Crores net in India while its worldwide collection was to the tune of Rs.625 Crores.
Tanu Weds Manu Returns: This Kangana Ranaut-Madhavan sequel to 2011’s surprise hit Tanu Weds Manu was one of the much awaited movies of the year. Like its prequel, this Aanand L. Rai musical-romcom high on performances did very well at the Box Office. Kangana Ranaut in her career’s first double role as Dattu and Tanu won the hearts of the viewers apart from giving one of her career-best performances. After last year’s Queen, Kangana proved once again that she is one actor who do not need a Khan, Kapoor or Kumar to give a Box Office hit. Give her a good script and see her transform in front of the camera. Tanu Weds Manu is the only woman oriented movie made in India that has earned over Rs.150 Crores. The total budget of the movie was Rs.15 Crores.
Talvar: This Meghana Gulzar movie was based on the 2008 Noida double murder case, in which a teenage girl and her family servant were found murdered, and her parents were convicted for the murders. The movie not only revived the case but also showed the investigation flaws conducted by the Police Department and CBI. The movie starring Irrfan Khan, Konkona Sen Sharma, Neeraj Kabi and Sohum Shah in leading roles garnered critical as well as box office acclaim. Made at a budget of Rs.15 Crores the movie made almost Rs.30 Crores at the Box Office.
Tamasha: This Ranbir-Deepika movie directed by Imtiaz Ali attracted a lot of debate. Some liked the movie, some hated it while some didn’t understand the story at all. Like all Imtiaz Ali movies this one was also an emotional tale that narrates the story of Ved (Ranbir) who loses his self by living according to the social conventions expected of him unless he is reintroduced to himself by Tara (Deepika). Made at a budget of Rs.60 Crores this movie made Rs.106 Crores worldwide.
Bajirao-Mastani: The long in the making Sanjay Leela Bhansali dream epic released along with Shahrukh-Kajol hyped movie Dilwale. Minus the original cast of Salman-Aishwarya-Rani, this movie will go down in the history of Indian movies as one of the most well made and stylish movies after Mughal-E-Azam. High on performance and critical acclaim, this Ranveer Singh-Deepika-Priyanka movie was the best way to close a year filled with lot of cinematic surprises. Made on a budget of Rs. 120 Crores this movie has already made Rs.128 Crores at the box office and it is still going strong.
If the dialogues of Sholay or Mr. India are still popular then you remember the faces mouthing them. When Bajrangi Bhaijaan or Bahubali is applauded for their sheer performance at the Box Office and also connecting with the audiences than Salman Khan and Rajamouli takes the credit so on and so forth. If I have to give you examples then it will take reams and reams of cyberspace.
In the star-driven industry the most exploited creative people are the writers. And who else other than me (a writer) can vouch for it? The saddest thing for any creative person to face is his / her work being passed off as somebody else’s or someone plagiarizing their work. Few months ago one person stuck her head high and challenged one of the most prominent directors of the industry on charges of plagiarism and pleasantly won the case against him in court, giving a ray of hope to the oppressed and over-exploited writer community. Yes friends I am talking about Jyoti Kapoor, the ‘Iron Lady’ of writer community who won the plagiarism case against the mighty Kunal Kohli. Sitting right next to me sipping a cup of hot Chai we talk about the controversy that shook the industry and also about movies in general. Here are some excerpts from our conversation.
Welcome Jyoti to my web series Chai With Shai (smiles).
Thank you Shaiju for inviting me over (smiles) ‘Iron Lady of Writer Community’ huh? That’s a new one (beams).
I am sure there might be few more flattering titles given to you by the media (smiles). Anyway, let’s begin with you being in the news lately for winning a case against director Kunal Kohli for lifting your story idea and turning it into a movie – Phir Se. So how are you feeling about the victory?
Relieved, (smiles) much relieved! I have stopped having nightmares, my appetite is back and I can concentrate on work again (laughs).
(Laughs) That’s nice to hear. Moving on… Plagiarism is a common thing in the industry, why do you think reputed directors resort to such tactics when they can very well hire the original writer and get the script done?
Because they think they can get away with it (frowns). Some of the ‘reputed’ directors have built their careers on stealing. The ghosts of the original writers will come and haunt them if they don’t stop this stealing business (giggles).
I am sure it will happen one day (laughs). After the case was judged in your favor, Kunal went on record saying that he didn’t want to harm the movie’s release therefore he agreed for an out of court settlement. How far is it true?
I’d say he’s becoming a better actor by the day. I wish him all the best for his second innings (winks).
Kunal also went on record that going forward he will never entertain a new writer ever and if he does then he will make sure the meeting is recorded. What are your thoughts about the same?
I am actually worried if any writer ‘OLD OR NEW’ will ever entertain him. I think having meetings recorded is a brilliant idea. Every writer should carry a camera hidden in their script/ purse/ chappal/ eyes/ hands/ underwear, basically wherever they can squeeze it in (laughs). I think, journalists should also have lie detectors fitted in their mics, especially when interviewing ‘reputed’ people (smiles).
What have you learnt from this incident?
Always fight for what is rightfully yours and don’t listen to naysayers.
How has the industry reacted to you? Has this incident done any harm to your career?
So many colleagues have reached out to me with good wishes, strangers (from the industry) have hugged me when they got to know that I was the same person who had fought this case (pauses). I receive so many messages from fellow writers from all over the country who are stuck in similar situations and need guidance with the legal course of action. I’ve been overwhelmed with support from all over and I’m thankful to everyone for that (crosses fingers).
As far as this incident affecting my career is concerned, I can only say that nothing can harm your career if you are good at what you do. If people see any value in your work, they will always work with you.
Absolutely! (Smiles) Do you think writers as a lot is hugely neglected and underpaid in Bollywood?
YES! Put that in Capital Letters (smiles).
Why is it that Indian movies have not experimented in genres that Hollywood has excelled? We still have the stereotypical movies being made. Whom do you blame – the writer / the director / the audience?
Firstly, I think Hollywood is overrated. In terms of experimentation, their TV content is way better than their films; a majority which, by the way, are not any less formulaic than the ones we make. Also, why do we need to conform to the western idea of experimentation? Our films are born out of Indian ethos and are unique in their own way. Bollywood, however, is not the true and only representative of Indian cinema. The Indian Independent cinema, which has always co-existed, is slowly and steadily finding its bearings. Sadly however, we don’t get to see these films as much as we should. The filmmakers are perpetually struggling with their shoestring budgets and don’t have enough backing, especially when it comes to marketing their films. There are a few producers who are putting their money where their mouth is but we are still way behind. In that respect, I think Hollywood is more sorted. You’ll see mainstream actors/producers supporting small content driven films even as they continue to produce their big budget movies.
As far as the mainstream Indian films go, we are “mostly” churning out the same done to death, run of the mill movies except a few gems like ‘Dum Laga Ke Haisha’. I don’t know whom to blame. But in a star driven system where everything revolves around a handful of Ks – from the epiglottis (say animatedly and giggles) I don’t see things changing anytime soon. Having said that, there’s no dearth of scripts. There aren’t enough people ready to take a risk. And ever since the studios have taken over, things have only worsened (grim). Films have taken a back seat. It’s projects that are made now (frowns).
So True! Anyway let’s go back to how you started your journey in Bollywood? (Rubbing my hands) This is one of the most favorite part I like to ask my guests (smiles).
Okay…(laughs). I was a journalist for almost 4 years before I packed my bags and landed at the Film and Television Institute of India. I wanted to go beyond the facts, beyond the five W’s and one ‘H’ (What, When, Where, Who, Why and How) of journalism. After completing my course in screenwriting in 2005, I shifted back to Mumbai and have been working as a screenwriter ever since. My training in screenwriting has definitely helped me understand the craft better but my first teacher will always be the fieldwork in journalism.
Okay… One thing I am very curious to know about is, Habib Faisal is a wonderful writer himself, so dow did you get to write Daawat-E-Ishq for him?
Even the best of writers need collaborators. Plus, Habib has collaborated with newer writers in the past. I met him at one of our screenwriting study circles and was quite impressed with his approach towards writing. Post that I shared one of my scripts with him, which he liked and asked me if I’d be interested in collaborating with him on his next script. He is a wonderful mind to collaborate with.
How I wish such interesting incidents happen with me too (frowns animatedly).
Anyway moving ahead… Did you get to learn anything new with your association with Habib?
Yes, lots. Habib is a hard taskmaster. He will keep pushing you until you have explored all the possibilities in your story, which I think is how we should always approach it. Another thing I like about his writing is his ordinary, everyday, endearing characters, which I could completely relate to.
Why do you think Daawat-E-Ishq failed to connect with the audience?
Nobody can predict what will work and what won’t, especially when it comes to movies. I think we should just keep at it (writing) without second-guessing the audience. The most we can do is to try and enjoy the process of writing and hope that some of that excitement passes on to the audience as well. Too much of analysis makes Jack a dull boy (giggles).
You are looked as a new-age crusader for writers in Bollywood. Any tips for your fellow writers?
My case came out in the open for various reasons that were beyond my control but it was certainly not the first one. There have been so many writers before me who have taken on the big guns and won. Urmi Juvekar for example, who took on CNN-IBN and Kapil Chopra who fought against the Bhatts, won their respective cases among others.
To my fellow writers, my two cents:
a) Do not doubt yourself – except may be two days a week (winks)
b) Do not take yourself too seriously
c) You cannot control the fate of your script, so just enjoy the process.
d) You will always be the unsung hero, so get used to it
e) You will always need to take up commissioned work to sustain yourself but try and take out some time for stories that make you happy, that you are passionate about. Or you’ll get burnt out before you know.
f) Keep your family and friends VERY close to you. On days you are suicidal, they will help you sail through it.
g) Don’t take shit from anyone. Nobody is giving you a break here. People are working with you because they are getting something out of it.
h) Lastly and most importantly, Bollywood is not the be all and end all. It’s just one of the platforms where we can showcase our work. As long as you are writing, whether that’s a book, a play, a story or a poem, you are fine. Diversify, as much as you can.
Wow! Those were really some pearls of wisdom (smiles). Accha… it is normally seen that eventually every writer at some point of time wants to turn director. Do you have any such aspirations?
In an ideal world, I’d rather be a writer; write quietly in my cubbyhole and not deal with too many people and their big egos. However, with each passing day I am realizing that you can’t trust many people with your stories and it’s frustrating to see your work getting butchered. So unless you find that perfect collaborator, you are left with no choice but to go ahead and direct your scripts yourself. So yeah, never say never! (Smiles).
So what’s the future ahead for you?
A movie each with Junglee Pictures and Landmarc Films which are in the pipeline (smiles). I’m hoping that my projects see the light of day soon.
It will I am sure (smiles). Okay Jyoti I think we have done a lot of serious talking and we need to brighten up. What do you think?
True… so what’s in store for me next?
Haha! If you are a regular reader of my series then you will know that next is where I will throw few questions at you and you have to answer in short (grins).
In the industry there are no permanent friends or foes. So will you work with Kunal in the future?
Only if I can manage to carry a hidden camera inside! (winks and burst out laughing)
Funny (joins laughing)… Okay… YRF or Dharma the best production house to work with?
Haven’t had a chance to work with Dharma. So can’t really say.
So for now YRF huh?
The most underrated actor in Bollywood?
The most overrated actor in Bollywood?
Oh there are so many!
Come on… One name, please…
You will put me in trouble… so no comments (giggles)
The most underrated director in Bollywood?
The most overrated director in Bollywood?
Actor / Actress to watch out from the present lot?
Radhika Apte looks promising among the newer lot.
Parineeti Chopra or Priyanka Chopra the better actor?
On a wild date whom would you like to go with?
TV or Films?
Any advice to upcoming writers?
That’s Interesting (laughs). Alright Jyoti it was a pleasure chatting up with you.
Same here (smiles).
I wish you all the very best for your future and I hope you inspire more and more budding as well as established writers to stand for their rights and the situation definitely changes for the writer community of which even I am a part of (smiles).
Hopefully (fingers crossed).