Santosh Sivan on the Space Shuttle

BTR%20Space%20Shuttle%202 Santosh Sivan on the Space Shuttle

Well, almost.  

Who could have ever imagined a link between the US space shuttle and an indie Indian movie?

The Malayalee maestro, Santosh Sivan,  mentioned recently in an email  that his film Before the Rains (which is releasing in India in May) was actually carried into space by astronaut Steve Swanson aboard the shuttle Discovery on its March voyage, and he attached the above photo.   My first reaction was “No way!   This has to be some kind of a joke!”

But no, it is indeed fact.  

It turns out the executive producer, Ashok Rao, is a Houston resident and has close  ties to NASA, and it was he who gave the DVD to Swanson.   The astronaut had hoped to attend the Houston premiere of Before the Rains last year but was in training for the space flight and couldn’t be there.   That photo forwarded by  Sivan was actually snapped by Swanson onboard the Discovery shuttle, as the DVD floats in the weightless environment.   Now that he’s back on terra firma and once he’s completed his quarantine and debriefing, Swanson will be returning the disc to Rao, embellished with the signatures of all seven of the Discovery astronauts.

While in Houston for the premiere, Linus Roache (who stars in Before the Rains, as well as the TV series Law and Order) was permitted into the astronaut training facility and had a chance to watch the seven going through their rigorous weightlessness paces.

Blue Boy Launching Today

blueboy%20cover Blue Boy Launching Today

Last night, at the R Bar here in NYC, editor/cabaret singer/author/is there anything else this 28-year-old can’t do? Rakesh Satyal played charming host to well wishers there to count down to midnight when his debut novel, Blue Boy, officially  went on sale.   I am at an uncharacteristic loss for words to describe his Kirantastic azure ensemble last night and will hopefully get a pic up soon so you can see for yourself.

The often hilarious novel is the story of  a desi ‘tween boy growing up in Ohio, who has a flair for dance, drama and sneaking into his parents bathroom to try on his Mom’s make-up.   It is  a piercing portrayal of those awkward  years  that just about anyone will relate to (weren’t we all awkward at that age?), whether the reader is gay or straight, desi or not, and we’re escorted on this trip by Kiran, the protagonist, whose drole asides will often produce either silent nods of recognition or uncontrollable laughs, especially if you try and read a particularly funny passage to out loud to friends.

I couldn’t help but think while reading it that Blue Boy, with all it’s pop culture, music and TV references, would make a great film, a kind of The Namesake-meets-My-So-Called-Life-meets-The-Wonder-Years mash-up.

While no film deal has been agreed upon yet, Satyal confirms that there has been interest.

Guru Dutt at Lincoln Center in the fall

Guru%20Dutt%202 Guru Dutt at Lincoln Center in the fall

When he participated in yesterday’s SAJA webcast about the Satyajit Ray retrospective that opens today at Lincoln Center, Richard Pena, Program Director for the Film Society, mentioned something in a  throwaway comment that just warmed my heart to no end:   the Film Society at Lincoln Center will be holding a tribute to Guru Dutt this coming fall, as part of the annual New York Film Festival.

What a treat that will be, to see Dutt’s work up on the big screen, right in the heart of Manhattan…

Can’t wait!

See Ray in NY

Ray%202 See Ray in NY  

If you’ve never seen his work before, here’s a chance to see why he’s so revered…..Lincoln Center begins a two-week homage to Satyajit Ray starting tomorrow, April 15, and going on ’til April 30, at the Walter Reade theater.

There will be screenings of over 20 of his films (many in new 35mm prints), and panel discussions about his work, and Ray’s son, also a filmmaker, will be participating.

Many more details here.

And, you can listen in to a SAJA webcast at 11am (NY time) about the whole Ray retrospective, here.

Emosanal atyachar waiting for Dev D

dev d ver2%202 Emosanal atyachar waiting for Dev D

My local movie  guy promised me he’d be getting in the DVD of Dev D this weekend, and I hope he’s a man of his word, because I’m salivating at the prospect of seeing the flic a second time, but also ingesting a whole additional two hours ( ! ) of  the accompanying  DVD, containing the “making of” feature, which we know will not contain the usual gauzy platitudes like “Meera character  bohut simple lakdi hai” and “Iss picture kuch alag hai” and that ol’ chesnut “We all just had so much fun making this film.”  

If you haven’t caught this brilliant Kashyap opus yet when it was in very limited release in the US, get thee to the DVDwallah now.  

And on the subject of NYC’s latest arrival,  I see that  one Phoenix Adlabs cinema in NJ is carrying Manorama Six Feet Under, a film that many point to as the place where Abhay Deol’s work started getting him noticed.

Kapoor’s Five Films

Here are a few questions that didn’t make it into the Khabar interview, in the interest of space, as well as Anil Kapoor’s list of his own films he’d recommend for  those unfamiliar with  his work:

I had to ask you also about Salaam-E-Ishq.   Perhaps it didn’t get the box office results that everyone hoped for.   But I liked your role particularly.   You were very vulnerable.   And you shaved your mustache.   Was that a big deal for you?

Yes, it is always a big deal for me, especially for my family.   They just hate me when I shave off my mustache.   Can’t bear it.

Do you feel that way also, you prefer yourself with it?

Yes, I prefer myself with a mustache, yes.

Did the director have to an awful lot of cajoling in order to convince you that it’s worth it for the role.

No, no, because if the role demanded it, so I did it.

So, this is a little bit like nudity for actresses, I guess.

Absolutely, yes.   For me, it is worse than that.

If Americans were to say to you, let’s say, they’ve got their Netflix subscription and they’ve seen you in Slumdog and they’re curious to know what else you’ve done.   What five of your movies would you point people to who have never seen your work before?   After Slumdog Millionaire, what would you say?

I would want the Americans to see Virasat.   I want them to see My Wife’s Murder.   I want them to see Tashan.   I want them to see Eashwar.   And I want them to see No Entry.

Tell me why you included Tashan?   What is it about it that you think it deserves to be in that list of five?

Tashan, because I am completely different form all the other films which I have done in my career.   And it had an attitude, you know, the whole film, everybody had an attitude, the director had an attitude the way he directed the film.   There was a lot of attitude and it was done with a lot of conviction, the whole attitude.

Unfortunately Tashan didn’t do as you hoped in the box office but I thought it was fantastic.   And a lot of friends that I have spoken to in India also really enjoyed it.   And your role was really something.

I met a few people yesterday and they also said they saw Tashan and they loved my work in the film.

Were you very disappointed that Tashan didn’t do as well as it seemed it was going to, with the star cast and all?

Yes, I was disappointed, yes.

Do you think maybe it will be one of these movies that, in another five or 10 years people will look at it with different eyes?


End note: Just in time for Slumdog‘s DVD release, Kapoor was a guest on Martha Stewart’s show today, and together they made black daal.   Here’s the recipe.