Time is Mani (o Il Viaggio di Raavan a Venezia)

Mani%20Raavan%202 Time is Mani (o Il Viaggio di Raavan a Venezia)

I always wondered when I’d get around to using that line.  

It’s a phrase that  a friend exclaimed  in Tamil class one day (because we had just been told the Tamil word for time is indeed  ”mani”).

But now, it all seems strangely prophetic in a way…..

If anyone ever had any doubts about whether Italians deserve all the credit they get for having exquisite taste in anything and everything related to art, design and beauty, this just goes to further prove the notion true: at the 67th Venice International Film Festival this September, Mani Ratnam will be receiving the 2010 Jaeger-LeCoultre Glory to the Filmmaker Award.

In previous years, the award has been given to honor other major filmmakers: Takeshi Kitano, Abbas Kiarostami, Agnes Varda, and Sylvester Stallone.   (Yes, that last one completely baffles me too, but, hey, he is a son of the soil after all”¦)

Here’s how Venice Film Festival Director Marco Mueller explains the selection of Mani Sir for the award:

“Mani Ratnam used to make movies only in his native tongue, Tamil, but has been one of a handful of filmmakers to successfully handle the transition to the All-India market.   One of the great innovators in contemporary Indian cinema, he helped introduce the auteur concept to contemporary Bollywood.   His movies display precision and poise, and have always been removed from the bombast and bluster of mass-produced regional cinema. The lavish musical numbers in his films, some of the best-tailored in Mumbai and Madras in recent years, have influenced the style of many others (as well as the design of commercials and music videos). Ratnam’s most celebrated films have become part of the cinematic imagination of the sub-continent.”

Not very happy  about  Signore Mueller’s rather dismissive reference to the “…bombast and bluster of mass-produced regional cinema…” especially after just having seen the superhero story Singam a few hours ago, but let’s  keep it focused on Mani for the moment…

To coincide with the award to Mani Ratnam, the Mostra will host the festival premiere of Ravaan, with Mani Sir, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Abhishek Bachchan, Vikram, and A.R. Rahman all present for the occasion.   It will be presented at the 2010 Mostra in both the Hindi and Tamil versions.

Vikram%2c%20Ash%20and%20Abhi%202 Time is Mani (o Il Viaggio di Raavan a Venezia)

Raavan is produced in association with Reliance Big Pictures and distributed internationally by Reliance Big Pictures and IM Global.

In addition to the award, Mani Ratnam will receive   a Reverso Jaeger-LeCoultre watch, with a commemorative engraving.

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Kites – todavía no

Kites%20poster%202 Kites   todavía no

So the much anticipated Hrithik Roshan – Barbara Mori film has launched last week, and landed in the Top 10 list of films released in the US and has grossed over 65 crores worldwide in its first weekend.

To someone like me, who learned Spanish as an impressionable tween while watching Mexican soap operas (as well as the 10 o’clock news), the on-screen union of these two aesthetically endowed individuals makes complete sense, as it dawned on me one day that what first attracted me to Hindi movies in the late “˜90s were similar characteristics to my once beloved telenovelas (the drama, the romance, the industrial strength eyeliner and false eyelashes).

I eventually drifted away from the soaps, but I did get pulled back a few years ago by the spectacular Rede Globo’s Luso-Arab-themed sci-fi travelogue O Clone from Brazil, that was such a massive hit there, here and in Portugal.   Talk about your reverse colonization”¦.I was in Lisbon when it was still running on TV and the lead actors were doing ads in Portugal and being closely followed in the prensa rosa.

Now that la Mori (who got her start in the soaps in la D.F.) has been paired with Ol’ Green Eyes, and the two take stabs at communicating with each other in English, Hiñol and smoldering looks, telenovelas and Hindi cinema have collided somewhere over Nevada.

Even though Papa Roshan’s production, directed by Anurag Basu, is a seeming amalgam of my first love and my current one, you would think I’d have been there for the red carpet premiere that brought the handsome couple to NYC a fortnight ago, but I’ve decided to wait.

You see, this Friday, May 28th, Kites is releasing again, but this time, in the shorter, Brett Ratner remixed version that is edited by him for phoren (read: U.S.) consumption.   I wanted to see this 90-minute Kites with fresh eyes, and then, if I like it enough, I’ll check out the longer Indian version for the sake of comparison.

As they say, watch this space”¦..

From some online chatter of friends I’ve noticed there seems to be a bit of a divide in opinion between desis and non-desis and their amor for the movie, or lack thereof.

If you’ve seen Kites, what did you think of it?

Bombay Cinema series at Lincoln Center

lincoln%20center%20muslim%20cultures%202 Bombay Cinema series at Lincoln Center

We really have it made here in NYC”¦..one day Hrithik Roshan is walking the red carpet for the premiere of his latest release (more on that later), and another day Lincoln Center is launching yet another series of Indian films.

Yesterday, the Film Society of Lincoln Center, in partnership with the IAAC and the Indian Consulate, opened its eleven-day series entitled Social Dramas and Shimmering Spectacles: Muslim Cultures of Bombay Cinema.   The series is co-curated by NYU professor and Indian film scholar Richard Allen together with Ira Bhaskar, Associate Professor of Cinema Studies at the School of Arts and Aesthetics, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.

The series is running through to May 27.

Here’s how the folks at Lincoln Center describe it:       “Spanning films from the 1930s to the Present, the series features historical spectacles that celebrate the justice and tolerance of the Mughal imperium as an antidote to colonial rule; films of aching beauty that focus upon the figure of the courtesan, at once alluring, romantic and tragic; and stories of Muslim social life that dramatize the changing social roles of a society in transition.

Social Dramas and Shimmering Spectacles: Muslim Cultures of Bombay Cinema not only reveals the rich expressive idioms of Bombay Cinema, but also reflects the radical transformations in Indian Society of the past 80 years, from the resistance to colonial rule and the challenge to feudal customs and values posed by modernity, to the deep divisions between Hindu and Muslim wrought by the Partition, communalism, and social discrimination.

Directors Ashutosh Gowariker (Jodhaa Akhbar) and Khalid Mohamed (Fiza, Mammo) are scheduled to appear.

All films are being screened at the Walter Reader Theater and here’s a list of what’s on offer: [Read more...]