PROMISE: Chopra is a promising performer, one who has the talent and resolve to reach the skies. Photo by Dabboo Ratnani
By Gautaman Bhaskaran
Parineeti Chopra is in the hot news today. A media report the other day said that there was a rift between Chopra and Sonakshi Sinha. It was averred that Chopra was upset with the International Indian Film Academy for giving a singing gig to Sinha during its annual awards ceremony in Malaysia early in June. Chopra felt slighted, it was alleged, because she herself was a trained Hindustani classical singer. But Chopra denied all this in her Tweets, and she literally fumed over this kind of writing.
Well, Chopra — during a long distance telephone chat with me the other day — does not sound as one who could get angry. But , but, probably, she could get all worked up, and we have seen a shade of this in one of the characters she played in Daawat-e-Ishq — where as a victim of dowry harassment, she is not just furious, but also cold, calculating and revengeful.
Chopra is, honestly speaking, a promising performer, one who has the talent and resolve to reach the skies. In Maneesh Sharma’s boldly provocative work, Shuddh Desi Romance, she mixes a sense of free spiritedness with a liberal helping of muddled madness. Pairing with Sushant Singh Rajput, Chopra’s Gayatri while passionately in love with Raghu Ram, is terrified (as he is too) of being imprisoned in marriage. Ultimately, the couple decide to live together without walking up the aisle.
Chopra says that she is perfectly okay with the idea of a live-in relationship. “There can be nothing wrong with this, provided the man and the woman have a serious commitment to each other.... Such a relationship may be problematic when it comes to the kids’ department, though.”
Live-in arrangements are still a big no no in India, and even a renowned director like Mani Ratnam made an about turn in his latest Tamil movie, O Kadhal Kanmani. He got his lead actors married in the end, characters who had sworn not to tie the knot. So, both Sharma and Chopra deserve a pat for their courage of conviction.
Chopra has the pluck all right to go for the kill, so to say, and one has seen that in her. A triple honours degree with business, finance and economics from the Manchester Business School in England, she gave up her dream of becoming an investment banker when recession forced her back to India. She chose Mumbai and while living with her illustrious cousin, Priyanka Chopra, she joined Yash Raj Films as a public relations consultant.
But life had other plans for Parineeti, whose little audition (a scene from Jab We Met) was seen by Aditya Chopra. He was really impressed, and offered her a supporting role in Ladies vs Ricky Bahl. She was critically acclaimed, and her next movie as the lead actress in Isaqzaade sealed her place in cinema.
Here was a girl who had abhorred the idea of painting her face, who would have seen just about half a dozen films before she settled down in Mumbai, getting right into the world of make-believe. “Even in England, I was never so keen on watching a movie. My friends used to be all eager to get into the theatre on a Friday, but I would always be rather reluctant to join them. Cinema never fascinated me,” she quips. Today, movies are her world, her life...
Yes, she has another passion. Reading. “I am a voracious reader. I love mysteries and crime stories. I have read so much of Agatha Christie, Arthur Conan Doyle and so on.” And this is what is keeping her busy these days, reading. And she is reading a whole lot of scripts, wondering which to choose.
One senses a trace of desperation, a note of hurried impatience here, when she tells me that she would love to do even a Tamil film “Language is no barrier. After all cinema has no language,” she adds.
One is never sure of this, though it has become the norm for North Indian girls to act in Tamil movies. British model-turned-Indian-actress Amy Jackson has gone to the extent of saying that she is a Tamil girl! One wonders whether anybody, anybody has ever told her that she looks pretty uncomfortable essaying those Tamil lasses.
Even great masters like Satyajit Ray and Adoor Gopalakrishnan would hesitate helming a film in languages they are not familiar with. If Ray made one bad movie, it was Shatranj Ke Khiladi in Hindi. Gopalakrishnan has never made a film in a language other than his mother tongue, Malayalam.
Parineeti Chopra has been marvellous on screen — at least in many of the six movies she has been in till now. Hope she would not let language be her undoing.
Documentary on Ken Loach
British director Louis Osmond, whose Dark Horse won an award at the Sundance Film Festival, is all set to document Ken Loach’s 50-year career, more specifically the battles this brilliant auteur fought around his movies. Dark Horse was a documentary about a small syndicate from a Welsh village that takes on the global racing elite.
Loach’s son, Jim, was to have directed the documentary, and this was also announced last October. But one presumes he got off board because the subject was too close to him. An authentic and balanced view may not have been possible.
The title of the work has also been changed from The Flickering Flame to Ken Loach: Untitled.
Osmond’s film will include interviews with Loach and his supporters as well as his detractors with footage from his movies. Loach’s life has been amazingly eventful: his tireless effort to create an awareness about homelessness (Cathy Come Home in 1966) and his battle with censors over Sweet Sixteen are but just two of the storms he weathered. In 2006, his Cannes Palm d’Or winner The Wind That Shakes The Barley about the Irish war of independence attracted a Right-wing media backlash against him.
Though he started to make films in the mid-1960s, his best works came in the late 1980s. Movies such as Hidden Agenda (dealing with the political turmoil in Northern Ireland), Carla’s Song (set in Nicaragua), Land and Freedom (analysing the Republican resistance during the Spanish Civil War) and Raining Stones (about a worker’s effort to buy a communion dress for his little daughter) were great stories — engagingly narrated and thought provoking.
The 2000s saw Loach create profound films like Bread and Roses about the Los Angeles janitors’ strike (“We want bread, but we also want roses” is a haunting line), My Name Is Joe, centring on an alcoholic’s attempt to stay sober, Looking For Eric that talks about a depressed postman’s conversations with a famous Manchester football player (Eric Cantona) and The Angel’s Share, which focusses on young Scottish troublemaker who gets one last chance to stay out of jail.
In 2014, Loach said that his Jimmy’s Hall — about a group of young people in Ireland trying to reopen a dance hall — would be his last feature. It won a top prize at Cannes, and a little later, the director told a media conference at the Festival that he had changed his mind. He would continue to make features.
Most influenced by Vittorio de Sica’s Bicycle Thieves (“It made realise that cinema could be about ordinary people and their dilemmas...It was not a movie about stars or riches or absurd adventures,” he once said), Milos Forman’s Loves of a Blonde and Gillo Pontecorvo’s The Battle of Algiers, Loach is known for using different dialects of English in each of his films. They could be Greenock (in Scotland), Yorkshire or Glaswegian. Once when asked about this, he replied: “If you ask people to speak differently, you lose more than the voice. Everything about them changes. If I asked you not to speak with an American accent, your whole personality would change. That’s how you are. My hunch is that it’s better to use subtitles than not, even if that limits the films to an art-house circuit.”
So when Jeethu Joseph uses the Thirunelveli dialect of Tamil is his upcoming Kamal Hassan-Gauthami starrer, Papanasam (remake of the Malayalam hit, Drishyam), he was only trying to be authentic in his portrayal of a people.
Are the North Indian stars of Tamil cinema listening?
* Gautaman Bhaskaran has been writing on Indian and world cinema for over three decades, and may be e-mailed at email@example.com
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