Saturday, May 14, 2011

Aishwarya as the “Heroine” in Cannes

Aishwarya as the “Heroine” in Cannes …

Madhur Bhandarkar directs. UTV’s Ronnie Screwvala presents.

Uma da Cunha, direct from Cannes

Friday morning under light grey skies and a mild breeze, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan drew the international press in numbers as she posed against the Cannes shoreline. Wearing a classically simple beige dress, she looked like a million dollars. Accompanying her were Ronnie Screwvala of UTV, and film director Madhur Bhandarkar. The top-flight trio was in Cannes to announce the making of their new film, Heroine, which starts shooting next month. UTV has earlier produced Madhur Bhandakar’s Fashion. Aishwarya Rai acknowledged her closeness with UTV, having worked in two of their films, Jodhaa Akbar and Guzaarish. Heroine is the first time the three join hands to work together.


(L) Madhur Bhandarkar, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Ronnie Screwvala

Ronnie Srewvala said that with Indian cinema making its mark in the world, it seemed appropriate to launch a film that reflects the nuances of the Indian film industry as it functions today, emphasizing its essential factors such as song and dance, and in this case, the key place that the heroine has in it. “This will be a woman-centric film and is written for Aishwarya”. The ebullient Madhur Bhandarkar could barely contain his excitement when he said that he has been obsessed with the central character that Aishwarya will play, adding that it will be the most challenging and accomplished role she has essayed.

Heroine is about the emotional and professional career of a superstar. “No way is this film autobiographical”, said Aishwarya emphatically. Madhur stepped in to elaborate that the film is a fictional depiction of the highs and lows and the stormy heights that a heroine in India’s film world has to traverse.

Kudos to UTV for giving sole billing to the star heroine. This is good news indeed in an industry known to be male-dominated. Well, Aishawarya took the lead in transcending that rule. Now appropriately enough, she will emote that achievement on screen, letting worldwide audiences know the personal, visceral side of that ascendance.

The spotlight is on Shekhar Kapoor the same afternoon, on the documentary he has brought to Cannes, Bollywood: The Greatest Love Story Ever Told, which incidentally is also produced by UTV. Ronnie Screwvala said that the 81-minute documentary, directed by Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra and Jeff Zimbalist, is on Bollywood and its irresistible attractions that today have won over the world scene. Shekhar Kapoor, when on the Cannes jury last year, mooted the idea of making such a film exclusively for Cannes. So, here it is, screening out of competition in the official programme.

Indian stars attending Cannes as brand ambassadors are playing an increasing role in Cannes over recent years. Aishwarya Rai wears this crown for the longest period. This is her tenth year in Cannes. She has the additional distinction of being on the 2003 Cannes international jury. She is present again in Cannes as the brand ambassador for L’Oreal. L’Oreal has this year added Sonam Kapoor as brand ambassador. She will walk the red carpet on May 15. Freida Pinto will represent L'Oreal at the amfAR (The American Foundation for AIDS Research) dinner/after-party on 19th May. The event, co-sponsored by the brand, aims at raising money for the fight against AIDS. Minissha Lamba will be present on behalf of Seagram for the opening day.

Saif Ali Khan jetted in for opening night at the invitation of Cannes film festival partner Chivas Regal, of which he is the brand ambassador, which also hosted a dinner in his honour. Finally, Mallika Sherawat will be at the red carpet as well, making her third appearance in Cannes. She is here to promote her latest film, Politics of Love.

For the thronging number of Indian delegates at the festival, the India Pavilion is a haven where they can meet, greet and seek what they are looking for. Managed by the National Film Development Corporation of India (NFDC, led by Nina Lath Gupta, the MD, and her team, the India Pavilion this year wears a new look and a warm air of hospitality that is ideal for conducting business. Present for its first open house for Indians were the Joint Secretary Mr Reddy of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and his wife. Shekhar Kapoor found himself a quiet corner. An unexpected visitor was Ashutosh Gowarikar, present in Cannes for the pure joy of watching films.

Friday, May 13, 2011

12 Indian projects at Open Doors, Locarno

As old as the Cannes and Venice film festivals, the Festival del film Locarno (founded in 1946) held every August for eleven days in the Swiss-Italian town of Locarno, is known for its vast multi-cultural audience and its unique launch platform for the new generation in world cinema.

The Locarno Open Doors co-production lab allows professionals from a chosen region to find potential coproduction partners (mostly from Europe), to support projects that would otherwise be difficult to make. This year, the spotlight is on India. The Open Doors section highlights filmmakers and films from countries whose cinema is still developing.

Prizes given at the end of the 3-day workshop: 50,000 CHF (approx 39,000 euros or 25 lac rupees) funded by Open Doors, second prize of 7,000 euros (approx 4.5 lac rupees) financed by the CNC (Centre national du cinéma et de l’image animée) and the International Relations ARTE prize of 6,000 euros (approx 3.8 lac rupees) by ARTE.

From over 200 projects submitted in 18 different languages from 30 regions in India, 12 will participate in Open Doors, the Festival del film Locarno’s co-production lab.

Ajay Raina’s Aharbal Falls

Natasha Mendonca’s Ajeeb Aashiq (Strange Love)

Partho Sen-Gupta’s Arunoday (Sunrise)

Alka Raghuram's Burqa Boxers

Sourav Sarangi’s Char, The Island Within

Satish Manwar’s Jat Panchayat (The Judgement)

Anup Singh’a Lasya (The Gentle Dance)

Sidharth Srinivasan’s Samaadhi (The Penance)

Vasant Nath’s Sebastian Wants to Remember

Shanker Raman’s The Trapper's Snare

Lilium Leonard’s Thread (Le Fil)

Ashish Avikunthak’s Vidhvastha (Devastated)

Open Doors will take place (as part of the 64th Festival del film Locarno) August 6 to 9, 2011.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

FIW congratulates Award Winners at the New York Indian Film Festival!

The 11th Annual New York Indian Film Festival came to a close on May 8. The festival’s annual awards ceremony followed the Closing Night premiere of Rituparno Ghosh's Noukadubi at Asia Society in Manhattan.

Arjun Gourisaria and Moinak Biswas’ Sthaniya Sambaad (Spring in the Colony) won Best Feature Film

Aparna Sen won Best Director for Iti Mrinalini

Aparna Sen

Rishi Kapoor won Best Actor for Do Dooni Chaar

(L) Presenter Neetu Singh Kapoor (R) Rishi Kapoor

Konkona Sen Sharma won Best Actress for Iti Mrinalini

Mohan Raghavan won Best Screenplay for T.D. Dasan Std. VI B

Max Carlson’s Bhopali won Best Documentary

Abhay Kumar’s Just That Sort of a Day won Best Short Film

Film entry submission for JIFF 2012 has begun!

4th Jaipur International Film Festival
(January 27-31, 2012 at Jaipur, India)

For Short/Documentary/Animation
Regular deadline: 30 October, 2011 | Late deadline: 15 November, 2011

For Feature Film/World Premiere
Regular deadline: 15 November, 2011 | Late deadline: 30 November, 2011

For online submission:

1st Jaipur Animation Film Festival (October 12-13, 2011 at Jaipur, India)

Regular deadline: 15 September, 2011 | Late deadline: 25 September, 2011

For online submission:  

Festival website:

Contact JIFF
7, Jai Jawan Colony 1st, JLN Road, Jaipur – 302 018 Rajasthan, INDIA
Ph +91-141-6500601 Ph/fax: +91-141-3953260, Mob: +91- 92522-59601

Monday, May 9, 2011

Writer/TV presenter Anupama Chopra heads towards Cannes after the release of her latest book ‘First Day, First Show’

Noted journalist, author and film critic Anupama Chopra’s book First Day, First Show, published by Penguin, has just hit stores. It is chiefly a collection of her writing from 1993 to 2010, with articles from India Today, New York Times, LA Times, Vogue India etc., and one chapter from each of her three books (Sholay: The Making of a Classic, King of Bollywood: Shah Rukh Khan and the Seductive World of Cinema, Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge). It provides a snapshot of the evolution of Bollywood in the last 20 years.

First Day First Show is Anupama Chopra’s guide to the (Indian film industry's) dazzling world of lights, cameras and stars, but also to its shadowing darkness. She takes us into the lives of the stars, and into the struggles of those who never make it to centre-stage; she lets us participate in the making of legendary hits and the hard-won successes of independent filmmakers; she shows us the glamour as well as the murky links with the underworld. There is also the odd story of the royal bodyguard of Bhutan who became a scriptwriter; of the embarrassed Pakistani soldiers at Wagah border who could not allow their favourite Indian superstars to shoot,” reads the dust jacket front flap. The book in hard cover is priced in India at Rs 399.

Chopra’s book on one of the greatest Bollywood blockbusters of all time, Sholay, won the National Award for Best Book on Cinema in 2000. She served on the jury for the ‘Un Certain Regard’ section at the 61st Cannes Film Festival, 2008.

Anupama Chopra will be at Cannes this year covering the event for her program on NDTV called Picture This, that airs Friday evenings at 8.30. There will also be daily reports by her out of Cannes for NDTV news bulletins.