Tag Archives: bollywood

Getting nostalgic with Shashi Kapoor memories!

Shashi Kapoor was certainly one of most watchable Bollywood actors of his times- pure grace and handsome to the core. Personally I had one great memory of this star, one of the lifetime, which I never had with anybody else. It was of watching him on the sets of a film. His passing away yesterday took me back to that incident four decades back.

It was summer of 1977 and I was in Kashmir with the family, my first trip to the paradise. I was quite young that time. Forty years have passed since than but I still remember it very well. We stayed in Srinagar, courtesy my uncle who was the commanding officer of the Army unit at that time. We had gone to Sonmarg, Khilanmarg and Pahalgam. Those were peaceful times in the valley. And it was during one of these excursions that we had a chance encounter with shooting of the Hindi feature film ‘Atithee’ (अतिथि). Film’s script or storyline had nothing to do with Kashmir, but as it was a trend during those days to shoot at exotic locations, hence Kashmir used to get fair chance of few shots in every other film. So, there was this scene being shot in the film.

Scene of Atithee film whose shooting I witnessed

Scene was between Shashi Kapoor and Shabana Azmi, the lead pair of the film. Being guest of the Commanding Officer of the Srinagar, we got the chance to watch the shoot closely. Actually this particular incident was so itched in my memory that I always remembered that particular dialogue which was being filmed- Shabana’s character says to the Shashi Kapoor’s character, “जब से मैंने फ्रॉक छोड़कर साड़ी पहनना शुरू किया है, तब से हर आदमी मुझसे अकेले में ही मिलना चाहता है” (..ever since I have stopped wearing a frock and started wearing sarees, every man wants to meet me in alone). It was all retakes and retakes for those couple of dialogues between these two. There were so many retakes that I forgot the count even. However fantastic a dialogue might seem on the screen, watching so many retakes on a shoot is rather irritating. But than, a director needs a perfect shot. It was a chance close encounter, first one with a star of his calibre… encounters that we cared least about when I entered into mainstream journalism, more than a decade later after that event.

As Siddhartha with Simi Garewal in this 1972 film

Film ‘Atithee’ released in July 1978 in theatres, but I got to see it more than a decade later when it was telecasted on Doordarshan. I was so anxious to watch that particular scene on the screen and was really quite happy after that. Film wasn’t that big commercial hit as was his other films around the same time. Actually 1978 was one of the most extraordinary year of Shashi Kapoor’s career because his as many as 12 films were released that year, most in a calendar year in his entire career including much acclaimed Satyam Shivam Sundaram and Trishul.

As poet Nur Shahjehanabadi in Muhafiz

Shashi Kapoor was so different in that movie (Atithee) than his usual self- in somewhat pencil moustache and a different hairstyle. That’s what I always loved about Shashi Kapoor, although being a romantic, handsome mainstream hero, he dared to be different.

As editor Vikas Pande in New Delhi Times

He crossed boundaries like none of his contemporary greats tried to do. For all his superhit films, Shashi Kapoor’s bigger contribution is perhaps the way he gave life to Prithvi Theatre; the way he produced films like 36 Chowringhee Lane, Junoon and Utsav, and certainly the way he chose to act in films like Muhafiz, New Delhi Times, Siddhartha and the Shakespeare Wallah. He was also one of the earliest mainstream top stars to act in a TV mini series- Kissa Kathmandu Ka in 1986, where he played the character of popular Bengali fictional detective Feluda.

As Samsthanak in Utsav

He was undoubtedly one of the first international stars of Hindi cinema… and indeed my first introduction to the world of cinema, as I don’t remember even seeing any film before that incident. Surprising!!!

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New Zealand celebrates Diwali with a Bollywood twist


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Diwali is not only celebrated in India but in many parts of the world and New Zealand left no stone unturned to have one of the best Diwali celebrations last weekend. Visitors were greeted with Bollywood dance moves, traditional music, authentic curries and a chance to enjoy and experience traditional and contemporary Indian culture.

New Zealand Police perform to Bollywood songs Munni Badnaam Hui and Chalti Hai Kya 9 se 12. Photo: Arthur Machado – Tourism New Zealand

Almost fifteen thousand people attended the annual Indian festival of lights at Christchurch. A group of six New Zealand police officers performed to famous songs of popular Bollywood Actor Salman Khan, such as Munni Badnaam Hui and Chalti Hai Kya 9 se 12. They also had a dance battle with an established dance group – Bollywood Dreams for which they underwent rigorous practice for two months.

39 Irish Step Dance group performing to Bollywood song – Slow Motion Angreza, from the movie Bhaag Milkha Bhaag. Photo: Arthur Machado – Tourism New Zealand

The celebrations had other dance performances – one of which was 39 Irish Step Dance group and the other by Latin American Group – LatiNZone.  They performed on several trendy Bollywood songs which were received with immense appreciation by the Indian community present.

Latin American dance group performing to Bollywood songs. Photo: Arthur Machado – Tourism New Zealand

On asking about the festival and the varied performances, Thomas Shaji Kurian, Chairman of Diwali organising committee and Indian Social & Cultural Club (CHCH) Inc, said,The main focus of the celebrations is to ensure a seamless Indian cultural & Bollywood, food and Arts and Crafts experience to the wider community in Christchurch. Even in India (being so large with many different states with a diverse tradition) we do not get to see so many cultural and traditional performances under one roof and therefore this is a cultural treat even for the Indians. We also endeavour to involve the wider community to engage with the cultural and Bollywood performances. The popularity of the event built over 11 years has largely helped with roping in the wider community performance groups to engage with the festival.

Indian community in New Zealand celebrating the Diwali festival. Photo: Arthur Machado – Tourism New Zealand

A range of Indian food from 18 stalls kept hunger at bay, including south and north Indian dishes and traditional street food. Indian crafts such as lamp painting and Rongoli art works using coloured rice and flour were popular, as was the chance to dress up in traditional Indian clothing. Diwali celebrations concluded with firework displays, food stalls with assorted Diwali sweets, savouries and herbs, stalls offering henna paintings and people celebrating the conquest of light over darkness.

You can watch a video of the performances on my YouTube channel by clicking on the link below-

New Zealand in nutshell:

Tourism New Zealand markets New Zealand to the world as a visitor destination. In the year ending July 2017, 3.66 million international visitors arrived in New Zealand: an increase of 9.5% on the previous year. International tourism is New Zealand’s largest earner of foreign exchange, pumping over $14.5 billion into the economy and directly employing over 188,000 people.

Visa procedure: One may forward their application to the TT office in Mumbai or Delhi, which will then be directed to Immigration New Zealand. A visitor visa for New Zealand is processed within 15 working days.

Airline connections: Connecting flights to New Zealand are available on Singapore Airlines/Air New Zealand, Thai Airways, Cathay Pacific and Malaysia Airlines with stop-overs in their respective hubs.  New Zealand’s international gateways are Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Queenstown.

Domestic services: You can fly between all New Zealand cities and most major towns using domestic air services. Air New Zealand and Jetstar are the main providers. Their services are complemented by regional airlines, charter companies and scenic flight operators.

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Most eagerly awaited Indian wedding of the year on Costa Cruise

An entire cruise ship has been booked to celebrate a fairy-tale wedding. For the first time ever, a ship from the Costa Cruises fleet has been reserved exclusively for the celebration of a sumptuous wedding. From the 6th to the 9th April 2017, Costa Fascinosa (114,500 gross tonnage and maximum guest capacity of 3,800) will set sail on the Mediterranean as venue for the nuptials of Adel Sajan, son of the Indian industrialist Rizwan Sajan who is Founder and Chairman of the Danube Group, the leading building materials company head-quartered in Dubai. During the cruise, Adel Sajan, director of the Danube Group, will marry the charming Sana Khan, dentist, beauty queen, artist and writer.

Four days of festivities will be held in true “Bollywood” style, which will be executed by India’s leading wedding planners-Wedniksha and will bring together over 1,000 guests, including show business stars and personalities primarily from India and the Arab Emirates. Costa Fascinosa will set sail from Genoa on the 5th of April with the bridal couple, their families and a staff specially selected for the occasion on board; it will dock at Barcelona where on the 6th April the guests will embark and will kick-start the celebration with a welcome dinner. It will then arrive in Marseilles on the 7th of April, where the guests will enjoy the day of excursions around town before bringing in the evening celebrations. The day after that, the cruise will set a course towards Cannes, where, on board the ship anchored in the bay, the marriage will be celebrated. The cruise will end on the 9th of April at Savona.

The cruise programme includes themed parties in many of the different venues on Costa Fascinosa, gala dinners, parties and shows by special guests. The wedding itself will follow the traditional Indian rites in an updated style on board the ship. The Sangeet, planned for Friday 7th April, is the traditional party the day before the wedding itself; a ceremony that originally was organised to prepare the bride for the big day, but which, in time, has become a party in honour of both the bride and groom. It will be held in the Costa Fascinosa theatre, which will be specially adapted to host the event. Saturday 8th April is the actual wedding day, which will include a Baraat ceremony and will be concluded with a Grand Gala dinner on the pool deck. The groom, accompanied by family and friends, will parade across the outer decks of the ship to reach his promised bride, who is waiting for him in a real miniature castle which will be sumptuously decorated for the occasion.

The cuisine on offer will be exceptional: there will over 75 chefs on board the Costa Fascinosa, carefully chosen by the Sajan family. These chefs will have the task of guiding the galley brigade in preparing a multitude of cuisines. These will be added to some typical Italian dishes, which are a distinctive element of the Costa Cruises experience. Moreover, the guests can indulge in a plethora of beverages and spirits including Chivas 18, Blue Label and the best of Champagnes and wines.

Among the stars who will be on-board for the occasion are some of the most popular show business personalities in India, such as the actresses Gauhar Khan, Bollywood star and winner of the latest Bigg Boss’ reality show edition, Shilpa and Shamita Shetty, Dia Mirza, the rapper Badshah, the Meet Bros and Vishal-Shekhar, authors of songs that have also been used as famous Bollywood film soundtracks.

“In our recent history, this is the first time a whole ship has been exclusively booked by a private individual for a family celebration. We are truly delighted and honoured that the Sajan family has chosen Costa Cruises and this is further confirmation of the global appreciation of Italian style and quality. We have, in fact, been the first to introduce cruises in new markets such as China, the Emirates as well as in India, where recently we introduced a new itinerary allowing many countries to discover the best of Italy. We will do our utmost to make this a truly unforgettable wedding” – commented Neil Palomba President of Costa Cruises.

Costa Fascinosa will change its look, and put on the colours and charms of the Indian traditions, with every detail meticulously taken care of. For this event, even the cards used for access to the cabins will be personalised. Furthermore, each guest will be allocated a suite or balcony cabin with the use of the respective internal cabin as a personal wardrobe.

Originating from Mumbai, the Sajan family has been operating in Dubai since the ’90s in the building materials industry. The entrepreneurial capacity of its founder and president, Rizwan Sajan, has developed and expanded the Danube Group, making it now a benchmark for the building industry in the Arab Emirates. For the third consecutive year, Rizwan Sajan appears in the Forbes Middle East ranking as one of the most powerful Indians in the Emirates and held the twelfth place, in 2016.

Costa Cruises is an Italian company that is part of Carnival Corporation & plc, the largest cruise group in the world. For 69 years the ships of the Costa fleet have been travelling the world’s seas offering hospitality and authentic Italian style holidays, distinguished by exquisite food, fine wines, unique shopping experiences, and a comprehensive selection of famous Italian brands. Currently the Costa fleet has 15 ships in service, all flying the Italian flag. Two new latest generation vessels are expected in 2019 and 2021. They will be fuelled by liquefied natural gas (LNG), the world’s “cleanest fossil fuel”, and a real environmental innovation. Costa represents Italian excellence, and every day surpasses the expectations of its guests with a unique and unforgettable holiday experience. It does this thanks to the approximately 19,000 employees around the world who work to provide the best of Italy on board, with 137 different routes, 261 destinations and 60 ports of embarkation.

Puja songs from Bengal gave Bollywood many superhit numbers!

Its that time of the year again, considered to be one of the most auspicious one as per hindu beliefs. Durga Puja is indeed the most important event of the year for the Bengalis. Mahalaya was celebrated on 30th September and it is Panchami today, when the six day Durga Puja celebrations actually start in Bengal.

Since it has been traditionally most important time of the year for the Bengalis, it is also the time when just before the Pujas musicians and artistes will release their albums. Such has been the lure of getting hit during the Puja that many singers will even perform during the Puja celebrations with their new releases. The songs released at the time of the Puja were often termed as Modern Bengali songs. Actually this tradition has been there for quite a long, with every leading Bengali music composer following the trend. This tradition was used with such a great effectiveness that Puja albums actually gave some of the biggest hits to Bengali music industry. Many of these were songs, which were released only as Puja albums and not used in any Bengali films. But then among these many of the hits from the Puja albums were then re-crafted and redrafted into the Bollywood into Hindi songs for films. This was also easier because at most of the times in last five decades of the past century, the Bollywood music scene was also dominated by the Bengali composers and singers. As a result, many of these hindi remakes of the Bengali songs actually became super-duper hits in Bollywood as well. We call them remake because the music used to be the exactly same.

The legendary duo of Kishore Kumar and Rahul Dev Burman (Pancham Da) used this to perfection for the joy of both the music scenes- Bangla and Hindi. Many hindi listeners will not be knowing that some of the famous Hindi songs were actually copied from Bengali. Lets listen to few of them in this post.

The first one is a marvellous Bengali song “Aakash Keno Daake…” by Kishore Kumar, which was written by Gouriprasanna Majumdar and composed by Rahul Dev Burman. The song was recorded as Puja album by Pancham Da and Kishore. But once the song was hit, it was adopted in famous Hindi film Kati Patang released in 1970 as “Yeh Shaam Mastani...” filmed on Rajesh Khanna and Asha Parekh. This song was also sung by Kishore and composed by Pancham Da. You can yourself listen to the both songs-first one is the original Bengali from the Puja album and second one is from the Bollywood film.

The second song is “Ek Din Paakhi Ure Jaabe…” The Bengali song by Kishore Kumar was written by Mukul Dutta and composed by Rahul Dev Burman. The song was also recorded as Puja album by Pancham Da and Kishore. But once the song was hit, it was adopted in famous Hindi film Pyar Ka Mausam released in 1969 as “Tum Bin Jaoon Kehan…” filmed on Shashi Kapoor and Asha Parekh. But in the film this song was sung by great Mohammad Rafi and composed by Pancham Da himself. Enjoy the two songs- first one in Bengali and second one in Hindi.

The third one, this marvellous Bengali song “E Jhumri Re Cholechi Eka...” by Kishore Kumar was also written by Mukul Dutta and composed by Rahul Dev Burman. The song was recorded as Puja album by Pancham Da and Kishore. But once the song was hit, it was adopted in famous Hindi film Mere Jeevan Sathi released in 1972 as “Chala Jata Hoon...” filmed on Rajesh Khanna and Tanuja. In the film too this song was sung by Kishore Kumar and composed by Pancham Da himself. Enjoy the comparison- first one in Bangla and second one in Hindi.

Indeed Pancham-Kishore duo used this to perfection but there were many composers before and after them, doing this same thing. Listen to this fourth song. This famous bengali song “Amay Proshno Kore…” by none other than Hemant Kumar (hemant Da) was also originally recored as a modern bengali song (Puja Song). This song was later adopted in famous Hindi film “Anand” (1971) starring Rajesh Khanna, Amitabh Bachchan. Music for both the versions- Bengali as well as Hindi was composed by Salil Chowdhury. This song written in Hindi by Yogesh and voiced by Mukesh ” Kahin Door Jab Din dhal jaaye…” is considered to one of his gems. Listen to both the versions here-

But adoption from Bengali to Hindi was not limited to Puja songs only. Few hits from Bangla films were also lifted in Hindi films and they in turn went to become super hits in Hindi as well. Like this fifth song. This famous song “E Ki Holo, keno holo…” from a Bengali movie Rajkumari released in 1970, starring Uttam Kumar and Tanuja. This song was sung by legendary Kishore Kumar and composed by great R D Burman. This song was also written by Gauri Prasanna Majumdar. This song was such a hit that it was used in Hindi film Amar Prem released in 1971 casting Rajesh Khanna and Sharmila Tagore. This song with hindi wordings – ‘Yeh Kya Hua…’ but identical music was brought to life by the same great singer-composer duo of Kishore & Pancham Da. Lyrics for hindi version were written by Anand Bakshi. Rest is history, this song filmed on Rajesh Khanna went on to become one of the biggest hits, may be bacuase of Rajesh Khanna’s mannerisms. Listen to both of them, you will enjoy a lot.

Interestingly, as soon as such songs will appear, there would be a raging debate that which version was better and Bangla & Hindi loyalists will fight out. But the true music lovers will enjoy the both.

There is lot more and we shall keep the discussion going on, with some more songs next time from other top singers and composers. Till than, happy Durga Puja.

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(Please don’t use the text from the post anywhere without permission)

PK at Bruges- a first for Bollywood

Peekay movie shot in Bruge_1Bruges, ‘the Venice of the North’, a splendid medieval Art City in Flanders,  Belgium is one of the main locations of the Bollywood film Peekay (PK), the first Indian feature film to be shot in the city. The Aamir Khan, Anushka Sharma and Sushant Singh Rajput starrer Peekay (PK) directed by Rajkumar Hirani and produced by Rajkumar Hirani Films and Vidhu Vinod Chopra Films in association with UTV Motion Pictures, filmed some major landmarks of Bruges. These include  the  Market  Square  and  Belfry,  Howest  Campus  Sint-Jorisstraat,  the  Beguinage (an architectural  complex  that  used  to  house  a  semi-monastic  community  of  religious women called Beguines), plus several streets and canals. The sequences shot in Bruges also feature a lilting romantic song “Chaar Kadam” that also beautifully captures some of the great landmarks of the town.

Sushant Singh Rajput and Anushka Sharma at Bruges 1_Bruges, surrounded by an almost continuous ring of canals, is the best preserved example of medieval Flanders and is one of the premier tourist destinations of the region attracting more than 4 million visitors each year. The city boasts of numerous medieval buildings, churches, museums and art collections. It can be easily explored on foot, by boat along quiet canals, or by horse-drawn carriages over cobblestone streets. The historic center of Bruges is on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites and is teeming with picture perfect places of interest.

Sushant Singh Rajput and Anushka Sharma at Bruges 2_PK is one of the big budget releases of 2014. The film tells the story about an Indian student living in Bruges, who wants to marry her boyfriend, but faces all kinds of obstacles. This isn’t just another typical romantic Bollywood film and the story goes deeper. Director Rajkumar Hirani decided on the destination post his visit to Bruges. He was impressed by Bruges’ alleys, picturesque canals and verdant ramparts and her elegant mysteriousness. The duo of Rajkumar Hirani and Vidhu Vinod Chopra have successfully partnered in some of the top Bollywood hits earlier including  “Munna Bhai MBBS”, “Lage Raho Munna Bhai” and “3 idiots”. Among these, “3 Idiots” was the highest grosser at the box office in 2009, and the film also featured Aamir Khan among others in the star cast. PK brings this successful team back after a gap of 5 years. “I was spellbound by the picturesque architecture, landscapes, the strong historical background and clean refreshing environs. I decided that this is just the right place to shoot a part of the movie as it fitted in beautifully with the storyline”, said Rajkumar Hirani.

Sushant Singh Rajput and Anushka Sharma at Bruges_Karl Van den Bossche, Consul General of Belgium in Mumbai said, “We are overjoyed that people in India will get a glimpse of the beautiful city of Bruges through the film. I am sure this will inspire people to visit and experience the city and Belgium, which has so much to offer to Indian travellers. We are there to assist all tourists and travel agents with their visa requests if they want to travel to Bruges and Belgium.” Sunil Puri, India Representative of Visit Flanders said, “Bruges is one of the four major art cities of Flanders, which is the northern federated state of the Kingdom of Belgium. The other enchanting cities are Ghent, Antwerp and Brussels. Even though Indians are now travelling to various parts of the globe, Bruges is the brightest gem amongst the medieval cities of Europe. We look forward to welcoming more and more Indian visitors to this remarkable destination.”

Esha heats up Elle cover

Model-turned-Bollywood actress, Esha Gupta is surely raising temperatures, courtesy her latest sexy photoshoot. Esha, who’s featured on the cover of Elle mag’s latest May edition has set the mercury levels souring.  She will be seen in a film called ‘Humshakal’ directed by Sajid Khan. And to keep viewers in good humour in the film as well Esha has been sporting bikinis alongwith co-stars Bipasha Basu and Tamannaah. Well, nothing new for Esha. She will also be featuring in ‘No Entry 2’. Elle photoshoot gives an idea, what’s awaiting viewers in Humshakal. Here is a look:

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Seychelles islands welcomes Bollywood

India DayAfter taking Europe by storm in their mission to mark the 100 years of Bollywood, cinema high profiles of the Indian film and music industry touched down on Seychelles islands for the first edition of the Seychelles-India Day Celebrations.

Once Emirates Airlines landed at Seychelles International Airport, the 23 Bollywood mainstream actors, actresses, singers, flutist, and percussionist disembarked in true show-business star fashion. Never before has Seychelles International Airport hosted such a large group of the finest from the Indian entertainment world.

The star of the moment was Ranganathan Madhavan, the guest of honor of the Seychelles-India Day Celebrations. Madhavan, ranked among the top ten Indian actors, will join Terrence Lewis, the ace Indian choreographer, and other Bollywood stars in an open air gala evening – flooding the town of Victoria with Indian tunes. He said that he is thrilled to be in Seychelles.

Local Dance“It’s the first time that I come to Seychelles, and it’s surely a fascinating experience to be here not only for the Seychelles-India Day Celebrations, but also that of being the guest of honor of this first Seychelles-India Day Celebrations. The beauty of the Indian Ocean will surely be an inspiration for my future films.”

Aakriti Kakkar, another knock-out Bollywood vocalist, walked her way down the plane – the ultimate depiction of the modern Indian super star.

“I am proud to represent my country for the Seychelles-India Day Celebrations. Seychelles is an island of un-touched beauty, and I am looking forward to discover the Island,” said Aakriti Kakkar.

Sivamani, Indian top percussionist, brings to Seychelles his own fusion of drumming, of which he gave an impromptu session to the media interviewing the celebrities at the VIP Lounge at the Seychelles International Airport.

Beautifull SeychellesFor the red carpet event at the first edition of the Seychelles-India Day Celebrations, celebrities Aakriti Kakkar, Shazahn Padamsee, Anjana Sukhani, Miss India Universe Ushoni Sen, actor Madhavan, and Chef Sanjeev Kapoor will be dressed by New Delhi-based designer collections by Mayyur Girota. Mayyur Girota is the official designer of the Seychelles-India Day Celebrations.

“I will give different looks to all celebrities. Anjana will be wearing a chikan lehenga with choli while Shazahn will be dressed in a cocktail sari.”

Alain St.Ange, the Seychelles Minister for Tourism and Culture, and Benjamine Rose, Principal Secretary for Culture, were both at the Seychelles International Airport to welcome the Bollywood celebrities. Minister St.Ange said, “Today I am proud that Seychelles-India Day has come into fruition.”