Gautaman Bhaskaran
an indian journalist
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© Copyright 2004



Cinema in General


Pans & Tilts…Raima Sen, Rani Mukherjee, Shyamalan, Esha…

Raima Sen
Raima Sen is a big girl now. But I remember her running about in a frock with her sister, Riya, in mother Moon Moon Sen’s apartment on Kolkata’s Ho Ch Min Sarani (The Marxist Government must have chuckled when they renamed this street, because a prominent landmark there was the American Consulate!). Moon Moon never wanted her daughters to get into cinema, a reason could have been that she herself, unlike her mother, the legendary Suchitra Sen, contributed little to the medium. Most of Moon Moon’s films were eminently forgettable.

But, Raima -- and Riya – entered movies. Although Raima says that her sister is better known and better acknowledged, I differ here. Raima is turning out to be a fascinating actress, and both Moon Moon and Suchitra must be proud of her. The talent gene, true to the way it behaves, must have skipped one generation. Raima’s performances in “Choker Bali”, “Parineeta”, “Eklavya” and even in the breezy comedy, “Honeymoon Travels Pvt Ltd”, have been hailed. In some cases, she was better than the main female protagonist: in “Choker Bali”, she clearly outdid Aishwarya Rai, and in “Parineeta”, she was as impressive as Vidya Balan.

Raima, who debuted in “Godmother” in 1999 with a fleeting appearance, needs to be looked at, and given substantial, meaty roles. Indian cinema requires actors, not stars, and if it all it enjoys some respect today, it is entirely because of people like Naseeruddin Shah, Shabana Azmi, Om Puri, Raima, Vidya Balan, Kay Kay Menon and Aamir Khan among some others.


Elizabeth Hurley is in the true desi style already facing the ma-in-law problem, but looking at the picture of the British beauty going along with this column, I am sure she has learnt to play with even fire. Look at her with the snake, she seems perfectly relaxed. Anyway, she has had a cupful of messy situations during her recent marriage with Indian businessman Arun Nayar. First, her mother-in-law tried using the wedding to promote her line of jewellery, and Liz resented this. Two, during the ceremony at Jodhpur, Liz’s security men got into a scuffle with the media, and a woman reporter among others, was roughed up. The Indian media was unwelcome, because Liz and Arun had sold exclusive coverage rights to Hello magazine for a whopping sum of money. Now, I am told some people in Rajasthan are angry that Liz got married according to Hindu rites, when she is not one. A case has been filed in court. Perhaps, Liz could have done without all this excitement if only she had not pushed people around and thrown her weight about. After all, Liz is virtually unknown in India, and Arun’s claim to fame is his alleged womanising habits in Mumbai when he was in his twenties and thirties. And most of his wealth is not his. It is his parents, unlike in the case of Liz, who made her own fortune. For Liz, if all this was not enough, there came an exit line, so to say, that must have crushed her ego. A woman in Rajasthan exuded sarcasm when she quipped that she had never seen a bride as old as Liz!


Where is Rani Mukherjee these days? The last I heard of her was her shoot for Yash Raj Films’ “Laga Chunari Mein Daag”. I am told she hurt her nose when she tripped during a dance sequence in Mumbai. A little before this, Rani was going in for a new look: she stopped tucking in ‘rosogullas” (how could she, I know Bongs are crazy about sweets) and was watching every morsel that went in. I only hope that she would not begin to look anorexic, like Aishwarya. With the world now waking up to the danger of (over) dieting, and fashion mandarins discouraging, even banning, pencil-thin models from the ramp, Rani better look hale and healthy.


Manoj Night Shyamalan, our own man from Pondicherry (sorry, Pudhucheri), will collaborate with UTV and Fox Studios for his next movie, “The Happening”. It will cost $ 57 million. This is the first time that Shyamalan will work with an Indian company. To open in 2008, “The Happening” will draw us into the man-versus-earth conflict, and I do hope that the director, who lives in Philadelphia, will give us a film as good as his first, “The Sixth Sense”. His last, “Lady in the Water” failed. But Shyamalan would not want to use this word. “It was precious to me”, he said. “Lady in the Water” was a bizarre attempt at creating a fairytale. The story of a mermaid in an American housing complex could not have crashed with a greater thud.


Tailpiece: Once Buddhadeb Dasgupta, the Bengali film director, lost his money in Cape Town. But Esha Deol lost something more dear than that. She lost her heart to an Adonis in the South African city. Yaps, a Greek God. Only that this GG was walking along the street and before Esha could stop her car, get out and throw her net on him, he had vanished into the teaming crowds. Esha tried to hunt him down, but, well, the prey escaped. And, Esha came back home with a wounded heart and sore feet. Not to speak of the frowns on mama Hema’s face, and papa Dharam’s garam garaz.

(Webposted March 16 2006)