The Common Man Speaks

25Feb/180

RIP Sridevi ji: My first and last experience with her

At around 12:30 am today, a couple of chat screenshots were shared in a media What’s App group. It spoke about the death of veteran actress Sridevi. Thanks to the era of hoaxes and the casual tone of the chat, we didn’t take it seriously. It also made me recall how just last week, the death hoax of Sylvester Stallone had made the rounds. Hence, I went to sleep.

All hell broke loose when I was woken up by my brother’s voice announcing the death of Sridevi. Can’t remember the last time I was woken up with such a shock, which was soon overcome by sadness.

But not being in a fully awake state didn’t stop me from recalling that afternoon of July 2, 2017 when I and my brother had the opportunity to interview her (for different publications), although in a group, for her soon-to-be-released Mom. Suddenly it seemed as if it was just recently that we had met her.

People, obviously, dread working on a Sunday. And that day it was pouring badly; monsoon had settled in Mumbai. But who gets a chance to meet such legends again and again? So, I just took off all excited!

Sridevi Generally these interviews happen in hotels. But this one was at Sridevi’s residence. This was another reason to look forward to it. Quite expectedly, her apartment is luxurious. But it wasn’t the kind of modernly furnished home that provide a lifeless feeling despite being rich. I realized it provided a homely feeling as we waited in the drawing room. Her domestic help had welcomed us with respect.

The feel good factor in the home coupled with the high interest to meet Sridevi didn’t make me feel impatient despite waiting for more than a couple of hours. Finally, she walked in. We didn’t expect ‘the’ Sridevi to be wearing such simple attire although her agelessness was clearly visible. It seemed as if nothing much had changed from Mr India to Mom. Her thick-framed glasses added to her beauty.

As soon as she entered, she heartily apologized for keeping us waiting for long. She reasoned that she was caught up elsewhere. This is something you hardly see from big stars… The moment was worth already.

The question and answer session began in a usual way with the actress speaking about her upcoming film with a lot of interest. This is what generally happens in interviews. But this moment was special, not because the interviewee was Sridevi. It was because she is known for hardly speaking anything in the interviews. She has never been comfortable with it.

But that day we saw a changed Sridevi who gave proper long answers. I had sat in the Hindi media group. So, I also got the opportunity to listen to her Hindi. Apart from speaking about Mom and her co-stars, she also went down memory lane and recalled her stint as a child actor when her mother would always accompany her on shoots.

The close-to-25-minutes were spent in a jiffy. Needless to say, it was mandatory to click a picture with her. There was some pleasant surprise in store for us here too. Many a times, big stars prefer giving one group picture. But Sridevi didn’t show any qualms in posing separately with all of us.

Sridevi’s newly developed openness in speaking along with her humility already made me look forward to meeting her in the future. Her fitness level and acting form indicated that she would surely do many more films and would subsequently talk to the media regularly.

But the initial few seconds after I woke up today told me that it was my first and last experience with her.

By: Keyur Seta

READ THE INTERVIEW HERE.

18Feb/182

Gulabjaam (Marathi Movie) Review

Sachin Kundalkar is known for narrating modern stories rooted in traditionalism. He has, especially, maintained this balance in his last three efforts, Happy Journey (2014), Rajwade And Sons (2015) and Vazandar (2016).

He has done the same with Gulabjaam. But this time, he has also bettered his own recipe (which was already pretty good) several notches higher resulting in one of the most delicious dishes one would taste in a long time.

Gulabjaam is about Aditya Naik’s (Siddharth Chandekar) struggle to learn Marathi cuisine in order to open a restaurant in London, where he is settled. He quits his high paying job and secretly visits Pune for his mission. After tasting food from a lunch box, especially gulabjaam, he deeply gets reminded of the food cooked by his mother.

After learning that the lunch box was prepared by Radha Agarkar (Sonali Kulkarni), he instantly decides to learn cooking from her. However, he realizes that the lady is not only a recluse but also rude who doesn’t like anybody’s presence around her. Will Aditya succeed in his mission? Why is Radha the way she is?

Gulabjaam posterIt is rare to see food or cooking being a catalyst to connect two characters in an Indian film.  But it is one of the most unusual and complex relationship to deal with for the writer and director. This is not just because Radha and Aditya are from different age groups and worlds. Their personal journey and diverse natures makes it all the more unlikely for them to form a bond.

To achieve this convincingly and that too with constant humour is the biggest masterstroke here. Plus, throughout the film their relationship remains undefined, which makes it more charming. We don’t often get to see strong and deep relationships that are kept unnamed.

Like Kundalkar’s previous works, Gulabjaam is more like a smooth journey rather than merely a story. You don’t realize when a quirky encounter of two diverse human beings transforms into a tale of deep personal sufferings inspite of the funny and light-hearted mood. The climax might not be ideal for some. But it is certainly garnished with the hope of inner wounds getting healed someday.

The only flaw is the incident of Radha realizing that Aditya has stealthily sneaked into her house and stolen food. One would expect her to scream but she doesn’t. However, the effect of the consequence of this scene makes you ignore it.

Kundalkar has also continued his legacy of getting the technical aspects right. There are numerous moments where one can notice cinematographer Milind Jog’s craft. The background score is unconventional and effective. It follows the important rule of not making the audience realize about its arrival and departure in a scene. The editing also deserves similar praise.

The nature of Radha’s character demanded her home to appear as if it is stuck in a period long gone by. This is achieved perfectly by the art director Poorva Pandit Bhujbal. It would be unfair not to mention food stylists Sayali Rajadhyaksha and Shweta Bapat for their work plays a big role in adding visual quality to the subject.

Sonali Kulkarni and Siddharth Chandekar’s characters are deep and vulnerable, which makes them realistic. But they appear deeply relatable only because of their respective performances. Kulkarni’s act can only be called masterful. She gets the diverse facets like agony and homour with utmost perfection.

With her constant presence, Chandekar might not appear as impressive. But he certainly gets his act of a boyish man constantly trying to move out of his trapped world quite right. Madhura Deshpande, the actors playing Popat and the old lady also impress in the opportunity they get.

Rating: 4.5/5

Review by: Keyur Seta

Director: Sachin Kundalkar

Writers: Sachin Kundalkar and Tejas Modak

Producers: Zee Studios and Golden Gate Motion Pictures

Cast: Sonali Kulkarni, Siddharth Chandekar

Genre: Drama

Runtime: 126 minutes

Release date: 16 February 2018

5Feb/180

Photos: Kala Ghoda Arts Festival 2018

Kala Ghoda Arts Festival is back in 2018! Mumbai might be the only place in the world that waits for the start of February so that the art lovers in the city feel a unique high through this festival. Like every year, the entire street where the festival takes place is full of art structures that speak a lot.

The theme this year is 'Go Green,.' Hence, one will find a number of artworks that remind us of the dangers of global warming and climate change. The most powerful piece is the one where a lot of houses are shown to be built on a tree. Thus reminding us of how we have captured nature and carried out destruction in the name of development.

Here are the pictures from this year's (2018) Kala Ghoda Arts Festival:

(Clicked by Keyur Seta)