The nineties is known as one of the best eras for Bollywood music in contemporary times. We had musical greats such as Kumar Sanu, Alka Yagnik and Udit Narayan and music composers Nadeem-Shravan who were popularly known as melody kings. And yes! Movies of Mahesh Bhatt and Indra Kumar churned out some of the most melodious songs of that decade. But after that time, much of Bollywood music slid into cacophony or too much loudness.
Now, suddenly out of the blue, has come a song reminiscent of that glorious era of melody. Budding music composer and lyricist VR Kharb’s first single Tum Hi Toh Ho immediately transports you into the nineties-ish era where melody reigned supreme.
Released by Yo Yo Music on YouTube, the number touted as the “most romantic song of 2020” has already garnered more than 4.5 lakh views. The love song sung by Manish Sharma not only soothes the senses, but is laced with some racy beats, giving it an upbeat tempo and a challenging pace.
Going by the fact that this is young-gun composer-lyricist VR Kharb’s premier musical endeavour, one can surely expect more beautiful melodies from this talented lad soon.
For any passerby on Versova main road in Andheri, Mumbai, there stands this imposing black building with coloured dots and huge face murals hard to miss. Some people point at the uniqueness of colour and designs, some stop to take selfies with the building in the background, and some even try to enter it just to ask what the place is all about.
National Award-winning makeup and prosthetic designer Preetisheel Singh’s new four-storey office ‘Da Makeup Lab’ has fast become a landmark in the heart of Bollywood. It is Bollywood’s premier firm for all of the industry’s makeup, hair and prosthetic requirements.
Spearheaded by Preetisheel Singh along with her partner Mark D’souza, the dream team has worked on some of Bollywood’s topnotch movies such as Bajirao Mastani, Padmaavat, Haider, Mom, 102 Not Out, Thackeray, Bala, Chhichhore and Housefull 4.
The building keeps amusing everyone. “Is it a museum?,” a passerby asked at the reception once. “Is it a tattoo parlour?,” asked another. “Do you do bridal makeup?”; “Why is it painted black?”; “Is it a salon?”; “Is it a production house?”; “Do you do auditions?” — the questions are never-ending.
Once a group of people walked in saying, “The building looked good from outside, so just came inside to check out.” Gee! Didn’t we say this landmark building is hard to miss!!
Mainak Misra’s short film Days of Marigolds has been winning hearts at various international film festivals, which has the maker feeling elated and all charged up to think of a bigger and better future.
“When I made this short film I had not expected that it will get such a grand response. But the kind of feedback and acclaim its managed to generate at all the film festivals is simply mind-blowing for a debutant filmmaker like me,” says a thrilled Mainak, who shot the film near his hometown Hyderabad, at the banks of Pochampally village lake, with commoners as actors.
The film has received widespread acclaim at various film festivals including The Mediterranean Film Festival (MedFF), Sicily, Italy; Salto Independent Film Festival, Salto, Uruguay; Move Me Productions Belgium-Film Festival, Antwerp, Belgium; Inshort Film Festival, Lagos, Nigeria; Bayamon International Film Festival, Bayamon, Puerto Rico; Yecora International Film Festival, Yecora, Mexico and at the Art Quake Kyoto 2019 (Creativity Biennale of Art Exhibitions & Film Festival), Kyoto, Japan.
What’s more! Days of Marigolds also bagged the Semi-Finalist position at Los Angeles Cine-Fest, Los Angeles; USA, A Rebel Minded Festival, Brooklyn, New York, USA; as well as at FESTPRO Film Festival, Moscow, Russia.
Mainak points out that it is the narrative of the short film which caught the fancy of audiences. Days of Marigolds revolves around a story of two brothers in rural India. As the elder brother leaves the village, the younger brother keeps returning to the place they parted at. Each return marks a passage of his life cycle from childhood to adolescence, early adulthood, late adulthood, and eventually old age.
“The absence of our dear ones is felt deep down in our hearts. We keep longing for their presence. Their memories remain vivid in our minds for the rest of our lives. Those memories are missed and the moments are cherished forever,” quips Mainak. True that.
The filmmaker is now working on the script of his first feature film and plans to make a splash in Bollywood in future. We wish him all the luck.
“All Bollywood actresses need to understand and accept that controversies are a ‘business’ for media. Only when they adapt, is when they will be able to take advantage of the situations media presents. Otherwise, they’ll risk resisting change, till a new generation comes and laps it up.” -Dale Bhagwagar
Close on the heels of the stupendous success of Nitesh Tiwari’s Chhichhore, National Award-winning makeup and prosthetic character design specialist is coming up with not one, two, but three stunners. And all the three films have taken the film industry imagination by storm.
Yes! We are talking about none other than the three baldie looks of Bollywood, which are the talk of the town from a while now. The wiz behind the looks of Akshay Kumar as Bala in the Farhad Samji-directed Housefull 4, Ayushmann Khurrana in Amar Kaushik’s movie Bala and Sunny Singh in Abhishek Pathak’s Ujda Chaman, is look designer Preetisheel Singh.
What has particularly surprised many, is the fact that inspite of all the three looks being of men going bald, Preetisheel has deftly designed them in a way that all of them look ending different on the screen. While Akshay has an imposing mouche to go with the look, Ayushmaan has a receding hairline, and Sunny Singh has a moustache and stubble to match his balding look.
It can be noted here that Preetisheel even received accolades for her transformational look makeovers in movies like Padmaavat, Mom, 102 Not Out, Mulk and Thackeray some time ago.
She is now excited for her forthcoming releases which include an interesting mix of movies like the Nawazuddin Siddiqui-Radhika Apte-starrer Raat Akeli Hai, Kartik Aaryan-Bhumi Pednekar-starrer Pati Patni Aur Woh, Southern superstar Vijay’s next Bigil, Kangana Ranaut-starrers Panga and Dhaakad, and Bhansali Productions’ Tuesdays and Fridays.
What’s more! The talented lady is also preparing to launch the ‘Preetisheel School of Character Design’ at her new sprawling office and workshop of her company ‘Da Makeup Lab’ at Versova, Mumbai.
If the trailer of Nitish Tiwari’s Chhichhore and teaser of Amar Kaushik’s Bala are anything to go by, the audiences are in for a visual treat in terms of look transformations of the main cast. And the lady behind the looks of the entire lead cast in the films — India’s numero uno makeup, hair and prosthetic designer Preetisheel Singh — has good reason to feel proud.
Both the movies have actors in their aging avatars and Preetisheel’s work has been receiving a new wave of accolades, after all the recognition it received earlier for films like Padmaavat, Bajirao Mastani, Andhadhun, Mom, Mulk, 102 Not Out, Thackeray and many others.
“Look transformations are an integral part of the storylines of both these movies, and it was a challenge and responsibility for me to make them look convincing and believable. I am so happy people are appreciating my work,” says a modest Preetisheel, who’d won the ‘National Film Award for Best Makeup’ for her very first film — the pre-Mughal historical epic Nanak Shah Fakir based on the life of Guru Nanak.
She makes it a point to thank the filmmakers of all her movies for putting their trust and faith in her work. “Without their faith, I wouldn’t have been able to do all this,” she says. Having taken her career graph a few steps further towards more recognition and glory, the lady has no time for a breather. The next few months have her working on a dozen films back-to-back, as well as starting the ‘Preetisheel School of Character Design’ at Versova, Mumbai.
Some of the forthcoming movies in her kitty include the Akshay Kumar-starrer Housefull 4, Nawazuddin Siddiqui-Radhika Apte-starrer Raat Akeli Hai, Kartik Aaryan-Bhumi Pednekar-starrer Pati Patni Aur Woh, Southern superstar Vijay’s next Bigil, Kangana Ranaut-starrers Panga and Dhaakad, and Bhansali Productions’ Tuesdays and Fridays.
Just out from the jaws of death; headed to a beauty pageant
True strength comes with resilience, perseverance and persistence. And if there is one lady who is currently epitomizing this, it is Mrs. India Guyana Kristal Inshan. The beauty queen from Georgetown, Guyana, was all excited to participate in the Mrs. India Worldwide beauty pageant at The Leela, Mumbai, in the first week of September 2019.
The event is about to witness the most beautiful and talented contestants from over 40 countries, competing for the Miss and Mrs. India Worldwide titles, judged by a celebrity panel of judges, with a host of guests expected from Bollywood and Hollywood.
But a week ago, Kristal suffered a life-threatening accident in her hometown in South America. The car she was travelling in, overturned, flipped over three times and crashed on the sidewalk. It was a ghastly crash, just like we see in the movies — only that, this was for real. Kristal, who was on the back seat, miraculously survived — albeit with bleeding cuts, scrapes and bruises. She was rushed to the nearest hospital, where she lay shaken.
Imagine the shock and trauma she would have undergone. Anyone in her place would have cancelled her trip to Mumbai and given herself time and rest to recuperate and recover. But not Kristal. She decided she had to take life head on, with a confident smile. Healing from her injuries and a limp, she is ignoring her pain and preparing to go ahead with the upcoming pageant in Mumbai.
Apart from being a successful model, Kristal is also a fashion designer and women empowerment speaker. Arriving in a few days in the bustling city of dreams, Kristal intends to take a day off on the beaches of Mumbai and focus on the Mrs. India Worldwide pageant.
We’re almost speechless, hearing about this lady’s grit and determination. From so many years, we have heard countless pageant contestants talk so much about strength and resilience on stage. But what Kristal is doing right now, is a living example of all that and more! Just out from the jaws of death, and headed to a beauty pageant — that is something! We salute her strength as our heart goes out to her.
“Actress Kajol kick-started her career in the showbiz in the 90s when the PR machinery was not in force. In the 90s, it was all about how actors conducted themselves in front of the media without the help of any PRs,” says an article on Bollywood Bubble.
However, Bollywood’s only PR guru Dale Bhagwagar has reacted in disagreement. “It’s incorrect to say that strong PR didn’t exist in the 90s. I’ve myself handled more than a dozen clients at any given time during the 90s too,” he tweeted.
“Though Kajol is a diva, Bollywood Bubble seems to be bumbling with ignorance about entertainment PR,” laughs Dale, who has handled the media for Hrithik Roshan, Shilpa Shetty, Priyanka Chopra and films like Shah Rukh Khan-starrer Don and Farhan Akhtar-starrer Rock On!!, apart from being a crisis management specialist to umpteen Bigg Boss contestants over the years.
“During the 90’s, there have been great PRs such as Gopal Pandey, RR Pathak, Raju Kariya, Ajit Ghosh, Hilla Sethna, Keshav Rai, Harish Sharma, Susheel Sharma, Peter Martis, Parag Desai, Indermohan Pannu, Shahid Khan, Arun-Gaja and Rajendra Rao.”
“They have planned elaborate publicity campaigns, advised and guided actors with image-building, have been an integral part of PR strategies, and wielded much more influence on media than most of the current publicists. I know, because I have been there,” says the publicist who started out in PR in the 90s and went on to become a trendsetter.
Dale is one of the few actively surviving Bollywood publicists of that time and still leads the PR brigade in innovation. A simple search with his name brings up thousands of web results. The PR expert points out that public relations existed in tinsel town much before the 90s. “Bollywood PR has been thriving since the days of Raj Kapoor, Dev Anand, Sunil Dutt and Dilip Kumar,” remarks Dale, who also handled personal PR for Dev Anand as well as his last film Chargesheet.
“We have had PR greats such as VP Sathe whose publicity agency had a monopoly over media campaigns in the 50s and 60s. And then Bunny Reuben, who handled the PR for Raj Kapoor and films of Yash Chopra, BR Chopra, Basu Bhattacharya and GP Sippy. It’s been boom-time for PRs all the way since then.” Point taken.
The list of achievements for National Award-winning makeup and prosthetics designer Preetisheel Singh haven’t stopped from the day she set foot in the world of make-believe.
“They say, Bollywood is a place where dreams are made. So what better than a profession which helps makes those dreams a reality,” quips Preetisheel, who has designed the looks of actors for some of the topmost movies in Bollywood like Umesh Shukla’s 102 Not Out and Sajid Nadiadwala’s Housefull 3, along with Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Bajirao Mastani and Padmaavat.
Her work for the pre-Mughal epic Nanak Shah Fakir directed by Sartaj Singh Pannu bagged her the coveted National Film Award for Best Makeup, while her talent will soon be showcased again in Anubhav Sinha’s Mulk, where Rishi Kapoor will appear in the look of a devout Muslim. Then there is the Nawazuddin Siddiqui-starrer Thackeray — the biopic on Shiv Sena supremo Balasaheb Thackeray, presented by Sanjay Raut and directed by Abhijit Panse.
So what does it take to create different looks? “Prosthetic has a lot of parts involved in it. You first take the life cast of the actor in 3D measurement after which you sculpt and make moulds, running silicon pieces in it,” explains Preetisheel.
“The silicon pieces are then applied on the actor and are merged with the actor’s skin so that it doesn’t look artificial. So tomorrow if a filmmaker comes up and has the requirement for an alien creature, we can do it. In fact, it will be good fun and I’d love to create aliens for Bollywood.”
Is the whole process very time-consuming? “When we look at characters with prosthetics on screen, we do not realize how much time and effort goes behind the scenes. The whole process involves a lot of visualization, planning, detailing, art and finally time. But the end result is worth the energy spent,” she concludes with a smile.
Bollywood has been raging with the debate on nepotism ever since Kangana Ranaut struck uneasy chords about it in her confrontation with Karan Johar. Talking about how the Indian film industry has a bias towards talent born into industry families, she begun a discussion which refuses to die. But amidst all the mud-slinging on the topic, one never imagined it would be portrayed in the form of a story.
But that’s what theatre and film actor Ashok Chaudhary’s character in the American Off-Broadway play The Music In My Blood is all about. The play has the Indian-American playing a character of Vikram; an aspiring singer who does not belong to any affluent musical family, but dreams of becoming a famous singer like the yesteryear greats Mohammed Rafi and Kishore Kumar.
“Vikram goes through the journey of a careless student hailing from a lower strata of society, persevering to learn Hindustani classical music and finally transforming himself into a great musician,” informs Ashok.
“His character redefines the play’s title The Music in My Blood and proves that one does not have to be born in an artistic family to be a great performer. With sheer talent and dedication, the character proves that nepotism can be crushed,” he adds.
Interestingly, the play’s narration is creatively moved forward in the form of a ghost of Walter Kaufmann, a Jewish refugee to India during the Second World War, who gave India the iconic All India Radio signature tune and fell in love with the music of the land.
Ashok is touched by the audience response. “After the play, viewers come up to me in a very emotional state, some even with moist eyes. They identify with the character which seems to rake up their pent up emotions and unfulfilled dreams. Such a soul-stirring response is heart-warming and heartbreaking at the same time,” remarks Ashok.
He will next be seen playing a spy in Eshwar Gunturu’s Bollywood film Code Name Abdul which stars Tanishaa Mukerji in the lead.
Move over Rani Padmavati… Rani Vindhyavati is here.
Southern actress Poonam Kaur who will be seen romancing television heartthrob Karan Singh Grover in the upcoming Bollywood flick 3 Dev, has bagged the lead role of Rani Vindhyavati in the mega-hyped Telugu historical TV series Swarna Khadgam, being made by makers of the magnum opus Bahubali.
While the mega-series is being produced by ARKA Media Works, the makers of Bahubali, Poonam’s role of the queen is said to be similar to that of the popular character of Devasena who rocked in the blockbuster.
“Here’s presenting Queen ‘Vindhyavati’; the symbol of #love, #justice & #sacrifice from #SwarnaKhadgam by #ARKA media #ComingSoon,” tweeted Poonam, along with a sneak-peak video of the upcoming TV series. Its reported that the series may be dubbed in Hindi as well as many other languages.
Poonam has been in the news for some time in the Southern media for her bold and daring statements. Recently, she created a lot of buzz when she tweeted about being backstabbed by a filmmaker who cast her and then went on to make the film with another actress. It bombed miserably, apparently leaving the filmmaker devastated.
With her new sensational avatar, the Southern media has been chasing Poonam for quotes and statements. But the lady is busy making a mark with the promos and songs of Ankoosh Bhatt’s madcap comedy 3 Dev. One of the songscalled Nikamma featuring her and Karan has received a mind-boggling amount of hits on YouTube. Way to go!