Tilak Rishi's weblog

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Tilak Rishi, born in India, has been working as a career corporate executive, after doing his MBA. Passionately pursuing his hobby for writing, he also remained a regular contributor to newspapers in India and the U.S. Many true happenings and characters he came across in life, including interaction with former president Bill Clinton, inspired Paradise Lost and Found, his first novel. A family saga, it starts from Kashmir, when this paradise on earth is lost for the tourists who thronged in thousands every year to enjoy its scenic splendor. Terrorists have turned it into one of the most dangerous places in the world. The family is not only a witness to the loss of this paradise, but also to another tragedy of much bigger magnitude. In the aftermath of the partition of India, along with millions uprooted from their homes in Pakistan, the family leaves behind all that it has in Lahore. Starting from a scratch on the difficult path to progress, it still has many joyful moments when along the way it makes a difference in many a life. The survival-to-success story climaxes in California where the family finds the paradise that was lost in Kashmir.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

New Millennium Movie Makers

A major point of reference for Indian culture, Bollywood has shaped and expressed the changing scenarios of modern India. The recent trend in Bollywood, however, is that it works with one eye on the foreign markets. The sets have become more lavish, the costumes more extravagant, the chorus line more glamorous and locations far beyond one can dream of - from the glaciers of Alaska to the pyramids of Egypt. Spanning wide range of genres and style, Bollywood has made a grand entry into the new millenneum with greatest ever movies. Here is a tribute to the tallest amongst the new milleneum movie makers.

1.Mani Ratnam: The director who revolutionized Tamilnadu Cinema, Mani Ratnam became one of the most respected filmmakers of Bollywood after he went into making Hindi films. Each of his films has its own unique style with beautifully photographed songs and extraordinary back lighting. His films have substance as well as style. It was Roja (1992) that made Mani Ratnam a well known name all over India. A patriotic love story set against the backdrop of Kashmir terrorism, the film was dubbed in Hindi and became a huge national success. The movie was also famous for its hit music composed by the debut music director A. R. Rehman. Dil Se (1996) was Mani Ratnam's first Hindi movie which starred Shah Rukh Khan and introduced Preity Zinta. The film has beautifully crafted scenes and most of all, one of A. R. Rehman's greatest tunes. Mani Ratnam's other highly acclaimed films include Bombay (1995), Yuva (2004) and Guru (2007), which was one of the biggest block busters of the year. In 2002, Mani Ratnam was awarded Padma Shri. His movie Nayakan was included in Time Magazine's All Time 100 Movies.
2.Ashutosh Gowariker: One of Bollywood's elite directors, Ashutosh started his career as an actor, making his debute in Ketan Mehta's Holi (1984). He then acted in several movies including Naam, Chamatkar and Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa. His first directorial film was Pehla Nasha (1993). His second film Baazi (1995) starred Amir Khan. In 2001 Ashutosh directed the period epic Lagaan. The film received critical acclaim and nomination for an Oscar Academy Award in U.S.A. for Best Foreign Language Film. It ranked third among 2001 Indian movies in terms of gross revenue. In 2004, Ashutosh directed Swades starring Shah Rukh Khan. Swades received high critical acclaim. His latest directorial work, Jodha Akbar, a period epic starring Hrithik Roshan and Aishwarya Rai, released in 2008, has received much popular as well as critical acclaim. Ashutosh is known as an 'actor's director', as all his male stars have won the Filmfare or critics' Best Actor Award. Ashutosh Gowariker is one of those rare directors who take the path less taken by most.
3. Sanjay Leela Bhansali: A highly acclaimed director, Sanjay Leela Bhansali is an aluminus of the Film and Television Institute of India. His debut filn Khamoshi, a critically acclaime musical, won several awards. and he emerged as a director to watch. His next movie, Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, was a great success and won many awards, including Best Film award. Devdas, his next film, was well received at Cannes, where it was premiered. Besides being a blockbuster, the film also won many major awards and was chosen as India's official entry for Oscar awards. Then came Black, his most praised film to date. Time Magazine (Europe) named the film as one of the Ten Best Movies of the year 2005, positioned at number five. Bhansali has won the Filmfare Best Director Award three times for Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, Devdas and Black, which broke a record at the 2006 Film Awards winning 11 awards. Bhansali also won National Awards twice – Devdas for Providing Wholesome Entertainment (2003) and Black for being Best Feature Film in Hindi.
4.Karan Johar: Son of late Yash Johar, the wellknown producer of the golden era, Karan Johar made his directorial debut in 1998 with Kuch Kuch Hota Hai. The film was a major box office success and won eight Filmfare awards including Best Film, Best Director and all four Best Actor awards for both leading and supporting roles. His second directorial effort, the multi-starer family drama Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham (2001) was also a huge success. K3G, as the film was popularly known, won five Filmfare awards. In 2003, he produced and wrote the script of another very successful movie Kal Ho Na Ho, which was directed by Nikhil Advani, his assistant director from Kuch Kuch Hota Hai. In 2005, his third film as director, Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna was released, which again was a huge success, especially in the U.S. and U.K. Johar is also the host of a very popular chat show called Koffee with Karan in which he interviews renowned celebrities from Bollywood. Karan is now working on his next movies, Dostana and My Name is Khan.
5.Vidhu Vinod Chopra: Producer, director, writer and the man behind films as varied as Khamosh and Munnabhai series, Vidhu Vinod Chopra sincerely believes he “serves an important function of bringing quality back to Indian Cinema”. And his Parineeta, a remake of Sarat Chandra classic, is one example of that. With nine films to his credit since he began his career in 1977 with Murder at Monkey Hill, Chopra has been considered an unconventional filmmaker within the mainstream Bollywood. His films Munnabhai M.B.B.S. and Lage Raho Munnabhai rank as some of the truly original written material in recent times. It is perhaps for the first time in Bollywood history when a Hollywood version of Chopra's film Munnabhai M.B.B.S. is being made with the title Gangster M.D. Involved with a number of critically acclaimed and highly successful movies that include Parinda, 1942 – A Love Story, Mission Kashmir, Parineeta, Munnabhai M.B.B.S., Lage Raho Munnabhai and Eklavya – the royal guard, Vidhu Vinod Chopra has won several filmfare awards including Best Director = Parinda, Best Screenplay – Munnabhai M.B.B.S. and Best Story – Lage Raho Munnabhai.
6.Rakeysh Om Prakash Mehra: After directing over 150 commercials for various Indian and international clients and music videos such as 'Aby Baby' starring Amitabh Bachchan, Rakeysh released his first full length feature filml Aks in 2001. The film was highly acclaimed by crics and won many awards for its technical excellence. However, it was the 2006 release Rang De Basanti which pushed Mehra to the category of Bollywood's best directors. The film was not only a super hit but also won five Filmfare awards including the Best Film and Best Director awards. His next film Dilli-6, under production, is his biographical depiction of life in Delhi's old city.
7.Ram Gopal Verma: Starting his career initially as a video store owner before eventually becoming one of India's leading film directors, RGV began his film career in Telgu Cinema. He made a huge mark with his debut film Shiva, which became a landmark for the Telgu industry. His next film Kshanan Kshanan was another blockbuster. His first huge success in Bollywood started with the commercial blockbuster Rangeela, a stylish romantic drama with Amir Khan and Urmila Mantondkar. Verma followed up with the ground breaking gangster saga Satya, a violent crime epic set in Mumbai underworld. Brutally realistic, Satya was widely considered Verma's true masterwork, which won him award for the Best Film. Mainly known for creating the 'Mumbai noir', Verma again showed his skill with the corporate crime masterpiece Company. The film was lauded by critics and audiences alike. His next big hits were Bhoot and Sarkar. He is currently giving finishing touches to Sarkar Raj, a sequel to Sarkar, starring Amitabh Bachchan, Abhishek and Aishwarya.
8. Madhur Bhandarkar: A former assistant to Ram Gopal Verma, Madhur Bhandarkar ran a video library before he made his directorial debut with Trishakhi in 1999. After two years he directed Chandni Bar starring Tabu. The film was a critically acclaimed success and he won his first National Award for the film. It took Bhandarkar into the top league of filmmakers in Bollywood. This was followed by another critically acclaimed film Satta (2003). His next film Page 3 (2005) did very good business at the box office, was highly acclaimed by critics and won him another National Award. His films Corporate (2006) and Traffic Signal (2007) were also appreciated by the critics and audiences. Bhandarkar is always known for his socially relevant and hard hitting films. Currently he is working on his next film Fashion. In most of his films Bhandarkar has made the female the main protagonist – Tabu in Chandni Bar, Ravina Tandon in Satta, Konkona Sen Sharma in Page 3 and Bipasha Basu in Corporate.
9.Rakesh Roshan: Son of late Roshan, the legendary Bollywood music director of the golden era, Rakesh Roshan started his career as an actor in the 1970s and has acted in over 70 films. He then set up his own production company in 1980 with his first production Aap Ke Deewane. He made his directorial debut with Khudgarz (1987) and went on to direct several box office hits including Khoon Bhari Maang (1988), Kishan Kanhaiya (1990), Karan Arjun (1995) and Koila (1997). He launched his son Hrithik's career as an actor with Kaho Na Pyar Hai (200o). This film entered the Limca Book od Records for the most number of awards won by a Bollywood film and was also the highest grosser of 2003. He directed his son again in the science fiction film Koi Mil Gaya (2003) and its sequel the super hero film Krish (2006), both of which were very successful at the box office. He is set to make sequel to Krish after his current release Krazzy 4.
10.Raj Kumar Santoshi: Earstwhile assistant to filmmaker Givind Nihalini, Raj Kumar Santoshi made a smashing debut with Ghayal (1990). The film won five Filmfare Awards for Best Film, Best Director, Best Story, Best Cinematography, Best Actor and also won National Award for Best Popular Film. One of the most critically acclaimed directors, he is widely regarded as one of the best Bollywood directors. His movies are often characterized by their inherent realism and fine direction of actors – Ghayal (1990), Damini (1993), Andaz Apna Apna (1994), Barsaat (1995), Ghatak (1996), China Gate (1996), Pukar (2000), Lajja (2001), The Legend of Bhagat Singh (2002), Khakee (2004), Family (2006) and Halla Bol (2008). Versatility is Raj Kumar's middle name.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Natwarlal at United Nations

For the benefit of my readers I wish to warn that there is a fake organization that gives its address as under to cheat people:

United Nations
World Bank Assisted Program
Directorate of International Payments and Transfers
870 United Nations Plaza 20-A
New York, NY 10017

If you receive an email from Thomas Williams, United Nations, informing you that there are funds for you from the World Bank and asks you to contact him or any specific official for release of the funds, please take it for sure that this is only the first step to entrap you and cheat you by some Natwarlal at the United Nations. Please ignore the email and delete it, to save yourself from being another victim of this criminal. I got such an email and found on verification that it was all a fraud. Hence the warning to beware of the fake United Nations.

The United Nations address reminds me of another incident that happened long time back when I worked in Godrej, New Delhi. We received an official order from a subordinate office of the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, P Block, Central Secretariat, New Delhi for a large number of cupboards and some typewriters. The salesman dealing with government orders thought it was a windfall and danced with joy. The manager was so excited that he ordered immediate delivery of the consignment at the cost of other orders which were due for execution. Those could wait but not this big order for urgent supply. The consignment was delivered at P Block where an official, waiting for the deliveries, signed the delivery challans, duly putting the official rubber stamp of Section Officer over his signatures. Next day the officer personally came to our office as he wanted the bill urgently so that he could get it passed without any delay. Unusually very helpful government official - no favors requested for what he was doing for us. After a couple of weeks when the payment was a little overdue, the Bill Collector made a routine visit to the office to follow up. He reported that the premises were locked and he could not contact anyone. How could it be, the government offices are never locked during office hours. The concerned Salesman rushed to the government office and found on enquiry that some premises in P Block had been given to some NGOs and this particular premises was one such. It turned out that the NGO occupant, posing as a government official had swindled many companies of their products by faking letterheads, ordering goods as a government office and then moving all the goods to godowns somewhere else. He was another Natwarlal kind. Wonder, if he is now operating from the United Nations address!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Father's Day Musings

“Go ahead if you think it is OK.” This was the typical response of my father to all matters that were referred to him for advice in our family. For him all those matters were too trivial to apply his mind on and to allow them to distract him from his favorite hobby, reading books. When at home, he would be seen most of the time engrossed in his book, the latest publication of The Oxford University Press. Although it would have been enough for anyone in his place to just go through introduction pages of a book in order to promote it, as their Chief Representative for Northern India, but for my father it was essential to read the full text before talking about it to anyone. He could not imagine how someone could promote a book without having thoroughly gone through the book and formed his opinion on different aspects of each chapter there in. An interesting example was when he received the Oxford Encyclopedia, one of its earliest editions, for promoting it in colleges. He not only went through the entire volume from beginning to the end, but also marked many portions with noting on the margin, indicating what according to him could be a more appropriate meaning or elaboration of the particular words. He had received several letters of appreciation from his bosses in London for bringing to their knowledge the grammatical or factual flaws that he found in the books, which they would correct in the subsequent editions. Sitting on his classic easy cane chair with hookah on his side, kept alive by frequent refilling with burning charcoal by the old family servant, he would be engrossed in the new arrival from the publishers till past midnight, when the rest of the family would be fast asleep.

My father's pre-occupation with two jobs, one as teacher of English literature and the other as chief representative of the Oxford University Press, plus his love for books, left him little time for participating in day to day activities of the family. My mother took it graciously and not only never complained about it, but did her best to compensate for father's non-availability by devoting all her time to running the house and raising her children, the way no other mother in the world would do better. Indeed, she was a perfect partner for my father by being opposite of him in many ways. As much my father liked to be left alone with his books, my mother loved to be in the midst of family members and her friends, both big in numbers. Her greatest happiness was in hosting guests, friends and relatives, some of them coming from other cities and over staying for weeks. It was God's grace, and my father's own way of expressing love for her and the family, that my mother was never ever short of money, whatever our extravagant needs be.
Tilak Rishi – excerpts from my book, Paradise Lost and Found.