Posts Tagged Bolywood

Rakeysh Mehra, famed Bollywood Filmmaker will speak at TiEcon 2014

Rakeysh Mehra, highly acclaimed Bollywood Filmmaker & Screenwriter, will speak at TiEcon 2014.  Have you registered?  You can register as my guest through the link and enter code “TiEvalue” to get $100 off.

The process of filmmaking begins with a great story and then the filmmaker or the producer needs to work with the screenwriter to develop the story or screenplay they have just purchased.  Rakeysh Mehra is an Indian filmmaker and screenwriter, known for writing and directing such films as Rang De Basanti (he won Best Director Filmfare Award for it in 2006) and directing blockbuster “Bhaag Milkha Bhaag”, starring Farhan Akhtar as Milkha Singh, India’s legendary runner (here’s link to my review  “Bhaag Milkha Bhaag” acquired international fame and was nominated for 10 awards. Obtaining the right script and developing it into a good screenplay and then directing it into a successful film, is a highly challenging process, in the cut throat film world.  One needs to understand and develop the characters, ensure the dialogues are not lame, understand the story structure, identify the genre or the blend of genres and Mehra is brilliant, with each of the steps of filmmaking.

Delhi 6 Premiere

Delhi 6 Premiere (Photo credit: muckster)

Currently, India, the largest democracy in the world, is busy with the process of deciding its new leader.  Voting is in full swing, in India.  Mehra has been a critic of the vote bank politics and currently he is campaigning to introduce e-voting to facilitate voting by travelers.  Mehra is also deeply committed to children and the education system in India.  Regarding “Bhaag Milkha Baag”, Mehra said that to see the movie connect with children as young as six and eight, was the biggest part of his success with the movie that he is proud of.  He has criticized marks-driven, education system in India saying that it emphasizes test scores over actual learning and achievement.  Perhaps his next movie will address this issue?  The filmmaker was location hunting recently in Jodhpur, for his upcoming film.  Will there be announcements?  Mehra will give keynote address on the morning of day 2 of the conference.

See discount codes to register for TiEcon 2014, and for Health Technology Forum – If you are a professional  in #healthIT, #digital health,  #internetofthings, #cloud, #bigdata or related, then this is the conference, you don’t want to miss – It offers a fabulous opportunity to network with 3000+ professionals and listen to top notch speakers and panelists.  Register for #TiEcon (May 16 & 17 at Santa ClaraConvention Center) as my guest, at link  & enter promo code tievalue to get $100 discount.

Healthtechnology Forum conference, focused on exploring pathways to sustainable health, is on May 20 in SF. Please register for the conference as my friend, with the discount code “HTF14-FriendOfOrganizer” and send me your first & last name at wd_darshana at hotmail dot com, to get $150 off the price of the ticket.  Also check out & participate in code-a-thon on patient engagement, for May 8.  Over 20K+ in prizes.

JOBS: are posted at the link



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Hola Venky – Movie Review

“Hola Venky” is a low budget film, a budget so low that many Bolywood films use that amount of money to shoot just one song.  Hola Venky was shot with a small budget of Rs. 10 lakhs, and was shot by a small 3 member crew.  It is an irreverent, romantic, quirky comedy with a great deal of Mariachi music thrown in.  How cool is that?  Written by Sandeep Mohan, the film portrays a software techie in India; in Matunga, Mumbai, of all places!  Loved to see the familiar scenes of where I grew up, the dreams that my friends and I nurtured of coming to the US, walking the streets of Maunga!  But India is different now.  India is on a cusp of major transformation. And change is never painless.

Roger Narayan is excellent in the role of Venky, doing the things that society expected of him.  And what does Indian society expect of a young man, with a reasonable education?  To get a job doing software coding (hopefully in a multi-national corporation, get a chance to go to the US and do the same thing), get married, and have children, all in that order.  But priorities are shifting in India and there is change in the order of things as well as change in the value system of young people.  Narayan got a job and married his college sweetheart and then got divorced.   His wife began to believe that sex was not good for a man’s long term health.  As Venky tells his story a video plays in the background with a woman explaining “Ejaculation is often called coming but it should be called going – because everything — erection, vital energy, millions of life’ sperms and even a little of man’s personality goes away with ejaculation.”  Venky on the other hand (in a classic Hindu tradition where everything and everyone is a manifestation of God) performs Groin pooja, with flowers on his penis.

Venky is engaged to be married again, to Damini, a divorcee.  Damini is jaded from the whole drama that goes with love; she feels her clock ticking, and she has transformed into Ms. Pragmatism.  Albeit there are many contradictions in what she seeks in her life and from her marriage.  When asked by Venky if she was marrying him for his sperm, she clarifies, “after marriage it is nothing like your sperm and my sperm, it is our family sperm”.

Venky is caught in a rut doing his job, and he lacks passion in life, job, or for his upcoming marriage.  His boss recommends him to go to the US for leadership training.  Journey to the US is not just a physical journey for Venky, to a land where everyone is not a software engineer.  It is Venky’s “upward” journey from the groin to the heart, from tequila to mariachi music, from cultural and professional imprisonment to cultural expansion, from following a life based on predetermined rules, to finding a life of joy.  Following a series of comedic turn of events, Venky meets Inez, a senorita who never has a bad hair day and has a fine nose for solving mysteries and getting people out of trouble.  A budding Mexican American actress, Sonia Balcazar, is stunning in her role as Inez.

Director Sandeep Mohan has done a fabulous job with this micro-budget movie after his work with Love, and Wrinkle-free, for which he got Adult Certificates from  the Bolywood Censor Board, that resulted in their Satellite rights getting stuck.  So he contacted producer Giju John and got him on board for a lot budget film; finding their audience through innovative channels and social media marketing, they are redefining the distribution model, in the internet era.   The crew did not include an assistant director or makeup or costume people and it was shot without a track or trolley.  Editor, Shreyas Beltangdy, Sound Designer Ravidev Singh, Grading/VFX artist Vijesh Rajan, and Music Supervisor Vivek Philip have done a fabulous job of working within the resource constraints and bring this film to completion.  Bay area artists starring in the movie include the local celebrity, Papiha Nandy and real estate professional, Tony Kazi among other professionals.  Hola Venky has couple more shows in the bay area and for a short time, the producer is available to bring the film for private screenings, for small groups, at their preferred location.

Hola Venky! (2014) Poster

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Madras Cafe – Bolywood Movie Review

The two early dialogues in the movie, during the discussion between Indian Government officials, give a preview of what is to come.  One of them asks, “who are we fighting” and another one says, “regardless of who is involved in the conflict and the reasons for the conflict, the common people suffer”.   In a war, does it ever remain clear as to who the enemy is and while for generals the war is fought on maps, common people bear the the real cross.

John Abraham gives an excellent performance, in the role of Vikram Singh, an intelligence operative assigned by the Indian officials, to run a covert operation in Sri Lanka, in the midst of the raging civil war.  Vikram is assigned the task of slipping into Jaffna, and infiltrate and sniff out the information about LTTE (by then dubbed a terrorist group) and then help weaken the militant group, by arming and supporting the opposition.  Vikram’s wife (Rashi Khanna) is unaware of her husband’s extremely risky covert operation and while Vikram has “a whole army” to support him, she fights “her battle alone”.  In telling this series of interesting historical events, leading up to the assassination of Indian ex-Prime Minister, Mr. Rajiv Gandhi, Director Shoojit Sircar has done a fabulous job in not going overboard.  The story is told without typical Bolywood song and dance masala, without exaggeration.  The story of true events marked by extreme violence and covert operations is effectively communicated in a way that conveys the seriousness and the importance of the events, without explicit use of torture or extreme violence.   Nargis Fakhri gives also gives excellent performance in her role as the British journalist, also without overdoing it.

Acknowledging the fact that true and complex history that unfolds over a period of several decades is hard to chronicle in a movie, a Bolywood movie nonetheless, with Bolywoodish expectations; the film chronicles it well.  Film has been criticized for portraying Tamil Tigers (LTTE) to be extremely militant, while not acknowledging the equally violent acts of Sinhalese army against the Tamil minority.  However, in telling any history, one can only go so far back and the film did make a mention of violence against the Tamil minority; in fact, that is where the film begins.  The film is very well made and I would rate it as 4.8 on a 1 to 5 scale, with 5 being excellent.

For anyone interested, I have tried to capture here, a brief history of the events.

Sri Lanka (or Ceylon, as it was know then) got independence from Britain, at the end of World War II.  Ceylon’s politically savvy workforce was clamoring for independence and formation of its own socialist party and they opposed all types of communalism.  The national bourgeoisie saw their power weakening and they responded with separatist and communalistic policies.  A new citizenship law disenfranchised the large numbers of Tamil plantation workers brought from India, during the British colonization period, as indentured labor.  The educated and organized Tamilians in Ceylon began making their own demands, and even began to demand their own separate state.  These demands were met with change in the constitution affirming Sinhalese as the state language and Buddhism as the state religion.  Against this backdrop, LTTE emerged and at first was crushed with severe violence by the Singhalese army.  The LTTE resorted to its own brand of terror and with the control of infrastructure and savvy organization, put up severe opposition.  The LTTE was at first armed by India, and later got out of control and then fought against India.  It came to be listed at a terrorist organization by 32 countries, including India and the US.  When Rajiv Gandhi was the Prime Minister, he emphasized peaceful negotiation and fair elections and stressed that political solution was the only way out of this quagmire.  The LTTE opposed it and Mr. Gandhi was assassinated by first human bomb, by an LTTE member, specifically dispatched to India, for that goal.   Ultimately, in 18 year civil war, nearly 100,000 people died.  (At the time, the population of Ceylon was about 10 million).

An enlargeable map of the Democratic Socialist...

An enlargeable map of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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