Archive for the Refugee Category

Kumail Nanjiani in The New Yorker

Posted in Refugee with tags , , , , , on July 25, 2017 by Qalandar

I found “The Big Sick” enjoyable, but also overrated (and its portrayals of desi women were, in particular, quite problematic) — the New Yorker recently ran a profile of the lead, Kumail Nanjiani.  Qalandar

LINK

Excerpt: “In 2009, on the “Late Show with David Letterman,” the comedian Kumail Nanjiani walked onstage, wearing a boxy black suit and a cordless mike, to do a standup set. The band played a few bars of “Born in the U.S.A.,” an allusion, presumably, to the fact that he wasn’t. The first anecdote of Nanjiani’s set fell flat. He stood stiffly, swallowing hard, his hands clasped tightly in front of his chest. Then he told a joke about theme-park attractions with excessively convoluted backstories. “It’s like a story line to a porn movie,” he said. “I really don’t care what all your professions are. I’m just here for the ride.” It wasn’t the cleverest punch line in Nanjiani’s act, but it received a big laugh and a ten-second applause break. He exhaled audibly, relaxing his hands. His next bit was about the Cyclone, the rickety roller coaster on Coney Island. “The Cyclone was made in the year 1927! Let that sink in. They should change the name of that ride to 1927, ’cause that fact is way scarier than any cyclone,” he said. “And the whole thing is made of wood . . . you know, that indestructible substance that NASA uses for its space shuttles.” The bit could have been delivered in the nineteen-sixties, by Woody Allen or Mort Sahl, with one exception: Nanjiani said the ride was “the scariest experience of my life—and I grew up in Pakistan.””

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Qalandar Reviews PHILLAURI (Hindi; 2017)

Posted in Refugee with tags , , , , , , , , on April 4, 2017 by Qalandar

There is a certain magic to Phillauri, Anshai Lal’s directorial debut for actress-producer Anushka Sharma, and it isn’t because of the supernatural element (Sharma plays Shashi, the ghost of a woman from 1919 who haunts nervous Kanan (Suraj Sharma), on the verge of his wedding to Anu (Mehreen Peerzada) a century later in the same village).  It’s because the old-fashioned virtues of focused storytelling, memorable characterization, strong casting, and above all fresh dialogues and lyrics by Anvita Dutt, elevate what could so easily have been the hackneyed Punjabi love story of Shashi and Roop Lal (Diljit Dosanjh), making of it a story about two individuals, not mere instances of the Bollywood hero and heroine, and in a particular time and place, the Jalandhar village of Phillauri on the verge of the Indian national movement.

Unusually for Hindi films, both members of the pair (not just the male half) are imbued with strong personalities, and this isn’t accidental.  A gentle current of feminism runs through the film, brought to mind by an initial effacement: Continue reading

Preservation of the Satyajit Ray paper archive (V&A Museum; 2002)

Posted in Refugee with tags , , on November 7, 2016 by Qalandar

EXCERPT: “The most valuable part of this collection from the point of view of the history of cinema, and also the largest single component (totalling over 10,000 pages), is the Khero Khata or ‘Red Books’. Averaging two for every full-length feature and one for every short film, they include scripts in various stages of development including the final shooting scripts detailing each scene and shot. There are also detailed sketches, diagrams and designs.

Other ‘treasures’ include screen plays, music notation sheets, designs and sketches for costumes and sets, production stills, drafts of Ray’s own fiction, advertising and book designs, correspondence, over 1000 personal photographs, examples of his early drawings and sketches, typographic and calligraphic designs, diaries and personal scrapbooks.”

Complete article HERE

How Bollywood Shuts Out the Poor (The Caravan, July 2016)

Posted in Refugee with tags , , , , , , on October 26, 2016 by Qalandar


Junior artistes, formerly known as “extras,” occupy the lowest rung on the Bollywood-actor ladder. They appear in the background—in scenes shot in railway stations, busy streets, bus stops; they are a villain’s henchmen, soldiers in a hero’s army, or corpses inside a morgue.

EXCERPT: “The geography of Bollywood stardom corresponds pretty much exactly with Mumbai’s geography of wealth.”

Read the complete article HERE

Reeled In: Rising Censorship in Pakistan (The Caravan, July 2016)

Posted in Refugee on October 25, 2016 by Qalandar


EXCERPT: “On the evening of 5 May, I joined about two-dozen people at a small private venue in Karachi, to watch a film we were not supposed to watch. Security was tight. The attendees—mostly journalists, activists and filmmakers—had all been told of the event only a day earlier, and we were asked to show our national identity cards while entering the building, through a rear exit. Before the screening, one of the film’s directors laid down two strict rules: no photographs, no social media.

The film being shown was Among the Believers, a documentary that profiles Maulana Abdul Aziz, the leader of an extremist network with links across the country. The film shows how the government’s failure to provide basic services for its people enables radical clerics to gain thousands of followers by offering free food, education and healthcare.

On 25 April, ten days before the secret screening, Pakistan’s Central Board of Film Censors, or CBFC, had banned the film. The directors, Mohammed Ali Naqvi and Hemal Trivedi, asked the CBFC to review the ban, but the body rejected their appeal, saying Among the Believers contained dialogue that projected a “negative image of Pakistan in the context of ongoing fighting against extremism and terrorism.”

The Pakistani government has sporadically banned films over the last few years, but until now the targets of such censorship have mostly been Bollywood movies (last year, for example, Neerja and Phantom were banned). But when it comes to local cinema, censors have tended to be more permissive, recommending excisions instead of outright bans. Recently, however, this has changed. Among the Believers is one of three Pakistani films banned over a two-week period this spring. These bans, which targeted content deemed anti-Pakistani, point to a growing censorship of the country’s film industry, and the state’s tightening grip on freedom of expression.”

The complete article may be read HERE

Wild Bias: The Reaction to Sairat (CARAVAN, July 2016)

Posted in Refugee with tags , , , on October 25, 2016 by Qalandar

EXCERPT: “Sairat, written and directed by Nagraj Manjule, premiered in Indian theatres on 29 April. It quickly became a phenomenon. Within two weeks, Sairat brought in over Rs 52 crore at the box office, becoming the highest-grossing Marathi film ever. Videos of people dancing in cinemas to the film’s soundtrack went viral on social media; kids mimicked scenes from it; theatres in Maharashtra’s Satara district scheduled extra screenings at three in the morning.

Sairat tells the story of two lovers—Parshya, a Dalit man, and Archie, an upper-caste woman—who elope from their village in south-eastern Maharashtra and are eventually murdered by the woman’s family. This makes the film’s success particularly exceptional, since Marathi cinema typically shies away from portraying the injustices of caste. Also exceptional was the fact that the film was made by Manjule, a Dalit filmmaker from a Maharashtra village in an industry dominated by upper-caste, urban people.”

The complete article may be read HERE.

How Bollywood Shuts Its Doors on the Poor (THE CARAVAN, July 2016)

Posted in Refugee with tags , , , , on August 22, 2016 by Qalandar

EXCERPT: “BOLLYWOOD STARDOM, though, has a particular geography. Historically, the Hindi film industry has recognised only certain parts of Mumbai. It knows Yari Road and Lokhandwala in Andheri West, where aspiring actors, screenwriters, assistant directors and directors live; Aram Nagar, where production houses hold auditions for films, television serials and advertisements; Juhu and Bandra West, home to film stars; and south Mumbai, or Town, where many movies are shot. But it doesn’t know Dharavi, Bhiwandi, Naigaon or Nalasopara, or any of the city’s other slums and sprawling suburbs.

Still, if you visit any of those slums or suburbs, you find thousands of people who don’t know this, who don’t want to know this. They, like so many of their fellow Indians, are in thrall to Bollywood. They crowd theatres to see new releases, follow stars’ lives, and, in indulgent moments, imagine some twist of fate landing them on the silver screen. Some of them take such daydreams more seriously than others. Some, like Jadav, make that dream the centre of their lives.

So they go knocking on doors, trying to find a way in. They look for acting classes that promise them a leg-up, and approach casting agents who promise to get them auditions. And, repeatedly, they find all doors shut. Because the truth is that Mumbai’s geography of Bollywood corresponds pretty much exactly to Mumbai’s geography of wealth. The city Bollywood knows is that of the haves. The city it pays no mind to is that of the have-nots.”

Here’s a LINK to the complete article