Mard v/s Mardaani

Mard v/s Mardaani

Mard v/s Mardaani. Amitabh Bachchan is the ultimate action hero of Hindi films and when his character in ‘Mard’ says ‘Mard ko dard nahi hota…’ it is the ultimate message for a macho audience. Watching Rani Mukherjee play ‘Mardaani’ brought back memories of Bachchan in ‘Mard’, ‘Coolie’ and ‘Deewar’.

Watching Rani Mukherjee play ‘Mardaani’ brought back memories of Bachchan in ‘Mard’, ‘Coolie’ and ‘Deewar’

Amitabh Bachchan is the ultimate action hero of Hindi films and when his character in ‘Mard’ says ‘Mard ko dard nahi hota…’ it is the ultimate message for a macho audience. Watching Rani Mukherjee play ‘Mardaani’ brought back memories of Bachchan in ‘Mard’, ‘Coolie’ and ‘Deewar’. In ‘Coolie’ Bachchan drinks water from the railway station tap and gets back to work while in Yash Chopra’s ‘Deewar’ Vijay after a tough fight with the villain relieves himself by squatting under the water tap cooling his head.

In the recently released another Yash Raj Film ‘Mardaani’ Rani Mukherjee, after giving a tough fight to the villain ducks under the water tap releasing her anger and for sometime finds relief. ‘Mardaani’ is an image breaking film not just for the new bahu of Y R Films Rani Mukherjee but director Pradeep Sarkar so far associated with only romantic/ social films like ‘Parineeta’, ‘Lafange Parinde’ and ‘Laga Chunri Mein Daag’. It is an image breaking film for Yash Raj banner too who has breaking its long tradition of producing a heroine action film, it is the banner’s first A certified and also first song less film devoid of any dance, comedy or entertainment!

The crime drama released last Friday took a below average opening but picked up over the weekend. ‘Mardaani’ got stiff competition from the other cop film ‘Singham Returns’ starring Ajay Devgan collecting 116.59 crores, proving the second biggest grosser of the 2014 year after Salman Khan’s ‘Kick’.

Writer v/s Filmmaker

There was a time FWA (Film Writers Association) was not as strong but the young writers of today have got together and battled for the dignity of the writer. As everybody is aware FWA is the writers union for all Hindi, Marathi, Bhojpuri, Gujarati, Konkani, Rajasthani and Punjabi screenwriters addressing pertinent issues.

It is no big secret that barring a few A- listers, all screenwriters find themselves helpless while negotiating money and other issues with producers, often bullied into accepting unfair fees and contracts. One had hoped that with corporate houses and foreign studios coming in, exploitation of talent will reduce but that is not the case.

In the recently concluded elections of FWA, the Progressive Writers Group made a clean sweep, winning 22 of the 23 seats of the Executive Committee. In desperation, FWA sought statutory intervention. Along with Javed Akhtar, the union actively lobbied for a change in copyright law. Two years of hectic campaigning and lobbying, finally brought results with the Copyright Act being amended in 2012 to protect writers’ rights. The clause on which the fight between writers and producers peaked was the one that guarantees payment of royalty to all screenwriters from the exploitation of their work outside of a cinema hall.

Expectedly, this success had studios, broadcasters and music companies up in arms, leading to petitions in court challenging the amendment. Not to sit quiet while their interests were being threatened, FWA intervened in these cases to support the government and defend the amendments. To streamline and regulate the writer-producer relationship, FWA has also sought the implementation of a standard contract (the Minimum Basic Contract), which will safeguard writers’ rights, while also protecting the producers’ interests. Clauses include production budget-wise minimum fees, credit protection, no arbitrary firing and of course agreement to pay royalties. This is currently being negotiated with producers’ bodies.

While India has enormous story-telling talent, the craft of professionally competent screenplay writing still remains largely elusive for many newcomers. To help out such raw talent, FWA has been regularly organising workshops, national seminars and writers’ conferences and collaborating with fellowships and script labs, to great success. Earlier, Indian screenwriting would be dismissed as just a song-and-dance routine internationally. Since 2011, FWA has been prominent on important international platforms, like the World Conference of Screenwriters where it regularly presents papers, ensuring that Indian screenwriting is taken seriously. Likewise, FWA is now a full-fledged member of the International Affiliation of Writers Guilds.

On the domestic front, FWA has initiated and formed the National Solidarity Front for Screenwriters, an all-India alliance of writers’ unions, which aims to fight for writers’ rights at a national level. The Progressive Writers Group, which has been steering FWA since 2008, now has screenwriting representation from Hindi, Marathi, Gujarati and Bhojpuri cinema is determined to affect a sea-change in the status of screenwriters in the film industry.

Ek Mulakat v/s Chanakya

Saw two brilliant plays over the weekend. The first, about a relationship between two poets, Hindi cinema’s finest lyricist, Sahir Ludhianvi and the revolutionary poetess in Punjabi writing Amrita Pritam. There are many versions to their love story.

Some blame it on Sahir’s unhappy childhood, some on the other women who loved and abused his trust and some more to his inherent loneliness. Amrita Pritam lived in Delhi and Sahir in Mumbai. Sahir was a big name in show business and Amrita a powerful name in the litterateur circle bestowed with awards. The love story presented by Manhar Gadhia ‘Ek Mulakat’ is fragrant of sepia memories reminiscent of crumpled papers, incomplete sonnets, sensitively strung together by writer Sumana Ahmed and poignantly directed by Saif Hyder Hasan. Perhaps it was destiny that Sahir and Amrita remain an unfulfilled love story; otherwise we would have been deprived of immortal poetry and songs.

The second play is about a nation builder, a sharp mind and a royal advisor ‘Chanakya’ in the Gupta period. Actor Manoj Joshi is a respectable name in Hindi films and Gujarati theatre. I am familiar with his body of work and appreciate his choice of roles. On Sunday I watched his highly popular ‘Chanakya’ staging its 700 plus show spanning over 20 years. ‘Chanakya’ as we all know is the mastermind behind the making of the powerful king Chandragupt Maurya. Like Krishna to Arjuna on the battle front of Kurukshetra, it was Chanakya’s expert understanding of politics that made Chandragupta the most powerful leader of Bharatvarsha. Written by Mihir Bhutta and directed by Manoj Joshi who also plays ‘Chanakya’ the dialogues are in shudh Hindi popularised by television serials like ‘Devo Ka Dev Mahadev’ and ‘Mahabharat’. The play is innovatively designed with authentic sets and costumes. Most important, while normally controversial plays and films begin with a comment that any reference to person living/ dead is unintentional, Manoj Joshi breaks the rule and clarifies that any resemblance with any event/ leader is intentional.

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