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Tanul Thakur
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There was a time, when I did nothing but listen to Guddu Rangila's songs on loop. Then I met him. He spoke about a bunch of things: his songs, his rise to stardom in the Bhojpuri music industry, his philosophies (which included a bunch of non-sequiturs, and frequent references to 'kalyug'), the trend of 'double meaning Bhojpuri songs', among others. The result was this profile: http://thebigindianpicture.com/2014/09/inside-the-colourful-and-disturbing-world-of-guddu-rangila/
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"People often resort to easy, schmaltzy clichés while talking about the deceased, in the process conveniently glossing over a person’s weakness or anything else that veers from the popular narrative — these trite adjectives make us feel good because they take comfort in the familiar, but can they ever be a true, honest estimation of someone?"

My piece on Zohra Sehgal, and how we choose to remember the deceased.
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Last week, I attended a panel discussion organised by the Jagran Film Festival, where the topic of discussion was "Is independent cinema taking over Bollywood?" I find these overly simplified -- and excessively enthusiastic -- discussions on 'independent cinema' quite problematic, but surprisingly, I wasn't disappointed. 

(Highlights of the discussion - Benegal's constant refrain that films should be 'entertaining'; Benegal and Pavan Malhotra dissing the NFDC for backing films no one wanted to watch; T.P. Agarwal's gripe with Rajkummar Rao for asking Rs 2 crore for a film.)

And this gem by Benegal: "We had this problem with NFDC-financed films at one time; you had filmmakers who came and made films, who were struck with this sense of them being geniuses of one kind or the other, and then they made the kind of films no one wanted to see, except themselves. Cinema is 'public art'; it becomes fulfilled only with an audience. Films have to be entertaining."

Wrote about it here: http://www.sunday-guardian.com/artbeat/from-the-horses-mouth-the-reality-of-indian-indies
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I found Bobby Jasoos’ silliness quite endearing at times but, then, the film remains undone by its inability to understand itself. Two bits on the film:
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"Consider this: of the 1,700 silent films made in the country, we only have five or six complete films. We lost a solid 80% of our films by 1950, and there is absolutely no record of India's first talkie, Alam Ara. These statistics are disturbing because they reflect how much of our cinematic history we have allowed to simply vanish. It's important to ask: how did we lose so many films over the years in the first place?" (On film restoration in our country): 
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A new documentary 'The Quantum Indians' chronicles the lives of three celebrated Indian scientists -- C.V. Raman, S.N. Bose, Meghnad Saha -- using archival footage, cutting-edge computer graphics and interviews with leading Indian scientists. In times of archival paucity, a documentary like this -- which restores the legacies of some brilliant Indian minds -- is a significant effort. My piece on the film: 
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Jaideep Varma's 'I Am Offended' takes a close look at the burgeoning culture of stand-up comics in the country, placed within the context of growing cultural intolerance. The documentary examines the definition, and scope of a joke, how a new set of Indians are reclaiming their identities through this art form, but really, at the heart of it, it asks two very important questions: what makes us so intolerant? And where does this culture of suppression come from? Wrote on the film here:
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The BJP's Art and Culture Cell wants to promote films that are "rich in Indian values". Spoke to its National Convenor, Mithilesh Tripathi, to understand the definition of "Indian values and culture", the cell's thoughts on censorship, and what is it going to do about films it has ideological differences with: 
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Gauri Gadgil overcame the daunting challenges of Down's Syndrome to become a renowned sportsman (she won a silver medal for swimming at the Special Olympics Summer Games in 2007). Six years later, she played herself in a role that won her a National Award. 'Yellow', the Marathi film based on her life, beautifully melds the real with the reel (its only glaring fault — it becomes a little sermonizing towards the end), and blurs the difference between not only art and life, but also "special" and "normal". My piece on the film: 
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