Tonight only: D’Arranged Marriage

darranged%20triad Tonight only: DArranged Marriage

You might have seen a story I did over the summer about D’Arranged Marriage and its co-creators, New Zealanders Tarun Mohanbhai and Rajeev Varma.

The show did a run in the Village earlier this year, then Raj and Tarun had a reunion in London, and more recently, Raj took the one-man show to the heart of the desh (Edison, NJ) and it sold out.

Now, for one night only, tonight, Friday, November 20th, Rajeev is going to perform his Kiwi butt off at The Triad on West 72nd Street.   If the turnout is good (e.g. full house) then the show may get a regular run Off-Broadway.

If you’re still making plans for tonight, I urge you to check it out.

Rajeev pours his heart (and all his electrolytes) into the performance, playing over half a dozen characters as he portrays the story of Sanjay Gupta, who dreams of becoming a stand-up comic.

Santosh Sivan as never seen before

I had heard that Santosh Sivan was going to step over to the other side of the camera and take the lead role in a Malayalam film about the life of artist and Travancore native Raja Ravi Varma, and sure enough, the man emailed two pics of himself in full make-up and costume.

Have a look:

 Santosh Sivan as never seen before

 Santosh Sivan as never seen before

If I wasn’t already curious to see the famous director and cinematographer doing a turn as actor, the lushness of the pictures certainly has piqued my interest.

Thursday @ the MIAAC

How fortunate we are in NYC to have access to so many cultural events, and even more fortunate for an opportunity to interact with established and up-and-coming filmmakers at events like the MIAAC.

Yesterday at the MIAAC film festival, there were two panels running side-by-side, one with Mira Nair, examining her not-often-seen short films, and the other, discussing the state of the Indian screenplay.   The latter included Suman Mukhopadhyay, Sudhir Mishra and Javed Akhtar and was only attended by some 20-25 people, which made for a very cozy space in the green-lit theater at the Quad Cinema.

After a break, there was a screening of Zanjeer, for which Javed-saab took questions (before, oddly enough, and not after the film).   Remembering back to the early 70s, he told how he and his co-writer (Salim Khan, the Salim of Salim-Javed) demanded that their names appear on the film posters too, and they were told to forget that idea and pronto.   According to the Maestro, they hired 2 jeeps and some 4 men, and had them drive around Bombay late one night painting “Written by Salim-Javed” on all the hoardings for Zanjeer that they could find.   There were laughs all around as he told this story and others.

It’s always a bit dicey to meet people in the industry at these events, because you never know as you approach someone whose work you’ve admired, if you’re going to be met with heavy-lidded, mildly disguised ennui or warmth and graciousness from the actor or director to whom you’re talking.   Javed Akhtar was a very warm presence, speaking directly to whoever asked the question, reminding the audience somewhat apologetically that the special effects and sound may seem a bit dated now, but he urged us to remember the time when it was filmed (1973).

fakir%20of%20venice Thursday @ the MIAAC

Next up was the Fakir of Venice, a film which I believe has been through New York once before at another event, but which I couldn’t catch ’til now.   I was glad to see it, and Farhan Akhtar’s acting debut (the film appeared ast year, prior to Rock On).

He plays Adi Contractor, a fixer for film productions around India, a man with a lot of connections who can make things happen.   He ends up packaging a Hindu “fakir” for an art installment in Venice, Italy, and bundles himself and the sickly Sattar (who is actually a Muslim building painter) off to that most beautiful city on water, where they are supposed to remain for a week, with Sattar buried in sand, and only his hands exposed, in permanent namaskar position. While he lies there, Adi stands on the other side of a the window, and spins all sorts of tales to the often fawning and gullible public desperate to know more about the legendary Indian mysticism.   (Gee, what is the emoticon for rolling my eyes?) For this movie, unlike Zanjeer, the theater was packed.

Other film folk spotted in and around the lobby yesterday: Rahul Bose, Mehreen Jabbar, Pooja Kumar, Shabana Azmi and Rajat Kapur.

Yes, now I am a twit too

With the start of the MIAAC  film festival, I have finally succumbed to Twitter and opened an account.  

You can find me here.

Looking forward to an amazing line-up of films and panels with directors….Anurag Kashyup, Shyam Benegal, Akhtar père et fils, Sudhir Mishra and so many more.

Can’t you guys get it together?

hindidirect%202 Cant you guys get it together?

It was great news earlier this year when Directv’s HindiDirect package added several new channels to the line-up, including another 24-hour news channel, two more NDTV channels (but, alas, not NDTV Imagine, which is the one I’d rather have) and, joy of joys, UTV Movies (all movies, all the time!).

Great, right?

Well, in theory, yes, except for one major glitch: whenever you hit the Guide button on your remote, if you’re trying to find out what’s on, or what’s coming up, on MTV India or UTV Movies – good luck!   Both channels’ schedules are routinely waaaaaaaaaay off, which, aside from being generally frustrating is also really annoying if you’re setting up your DVR to record.

One example: let’s say you see that MTV India is going to show the latest episode of their reality show Rock On! This past Saturday it was supposed to be on at 12:30pm, that is, at least according to the on-screen Directv guide.   In reality, they were broadcasting an episode of their Project Runway-type show Making the Cut.   No sign of Rock On! anywhere.   In the months since the series launched, I have so far managed to catch only one episode, and that was completely by accident.

Another example: you see in the guide that UTV Movies is going to screen Laawaris at 5pm on a Saturday, but you’re going to be out, so you set up the DVR to record from, say, 5pm to 8:30pm, adding that extra 30 minutes for good measure.   You come home Saturday night/Sunday morning and take a look at what taped, and guess what?   You got the last hour of Bhooth Uncle, and the first 2/3 of Laawaris, but not the whole thing.   At least here, unlike the MTV situation, the workaround is to set the DVR to tape a good extra hour or even 90 minutes, to allow for such mistakes.

But you know what?   That is not an acceptable solution, certainly not when I’m paying extra for this “service”.   Why should I have to keep making allowances and eat up all that precious space on my DVR because all your various departments and sub-departments can’t manage to synchronize the timings of what you broadcast with the on-screen guide?   It can’t be that hard.   After all, the three Star channels you offer are always spot on in terms of matching the on-screen guide to what actually gets broadcast.

I tried calling Directv customer service about this one day and, in essence, I was told “Sorry, we can’t do anything about those foreign channels.”   Undaunted, I also spoke to someone at the UTV offices here in the US and was also told “Sorry, that’s for Directv to sort out, not us.”

To add further salt to the wound, what shows up in the mail last week but this cute little glossy “programme guide”   (ha ha) from Directv for that same package of Hindi channels, touting its great international service and purporting to contain broadcast information for November and December.

Well, dear John A. De Armas, Vice President of WorldDirect, maybe you could set up a meeting with your Hindi channel team and your IT team and see if we could actually get the on-screen guides right.

Either that, or you could refund part of our monthly fees, since we’re not getting a complete or accurate service.   What say you?   I’ve been a loyal customer for a few years now and I think we all deserve better.