A Hollywood Indie shot in India gets Manhattan Film Festival Award

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Casting Director Vidya Iyengar flanked by Production Head Srivinay salian on her right and director Michael Keller on her left.

Casting Director Vidya Iyengar flanked by Production Head Srivinay salian on her right and director Michael Keller on her left.

Red Gold got the award for the best thriller – at Manhattan Film Festival – and I found one of my FB friends Vidya Iyengar thrilled. She turned out to be the casting director for this Hollywood film that was shot in India, in fact Dharavi; the largest slum in Asia.

Read Vidya Iyengar’s first person account.
Excerpts:

..And the award for the best thriller in international film category goes to RED GOLD … I heard this from one of my cast and I could visualize Michael Keller the director holding the coveted trophy with a lot of people.
I wanted to scream and hug my husband who has stood by me and held the fort at home when I was away managing a circus like scenario of casting and production. But I didn’t.
I went to my balcony, stretched out and went through slides of my life as it was for nearly a decade being in this caravan. I smiled and smiled as the word ACHIEVED echoes in my mind again and again. I am from an Iyengar family where a cinema means to plan a week in advance book the tickets, deliberate whether stall and balcony and dress to kill and watch the movie in a nearby movie hall which means taking no cab. This journey has been at my terms and on my calling in this challenging creative world of cinema.
The morning of November 2012 found me reading a Facebook post about an international film to be shot in Mumbai. A Hollywood Director was looking for someone to assist in production as a Casting Director. After meeting Srivinay, the Production Head and the Director Michael Keller I was lucky enough to be there to go along for that ride.
The synergy worked. We went around the lanes and by Lanes of Dharavi (Mumbai) because of the subject matter to familiarize with the script and the way of life and to relate with the characters of the casts.
Casting for Red Gold was a real challenge, as this was the slum based Indian story made to be in English. More than 200 artists came for Audition. Choosing the cast was a tough task.
The film was shot in a Vasai village, 90 km from Mumbai. Due to severe budgetary restrictions; I almost worked for free but got paid when the movie won the Manhattan award.
Last but not the least, I would like to thank Srivinay Salian , Michael Keller and my entire cast including Shivam Sharma, Richa Meena, Mayur Bansal, Major.Bikramjeet Kunwarpal, Sundeep Hemnaoni, Akul Raje, rest of the team members and my family and friends to be part and allowed me to enjoy the award. I am confident and believe my team winning this recognition has opened the doors for all of us in their respective art work to walk through and make their caravan a colourful journey.
It’s also given me the opportunity to realize my potential as a human being and make positive changes.

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Three wars of YUDH

amitabhbachchanYUDH

Amitabh Bachchan has often changed the rules of the game, and Bollywood history of the last 40 years has witnessed it. He did the same to TV with Kaun Banega Karodpati too. He is always a treat to watch. I have expectations from Yudh.
I thought his entry would be dramatic, worked out brilliantly and we may have to wait for the buildup. Known for his legendary punctuality, Amitabh playing Yudhishtir Sikarwar or Yudh, didn’t waste a single frame before making his appearance.
The theme has exciting possibilities. Yudh is a successful builder with integrity and principles. He seems to have antagonized a powerful group including a politician played by Tigmanshu Dhulia, a Police Commissioner (Kay Kay Menon) and some others. Yudh seems to suffer from some strange neuro-psychological ailment. He is delusional – seeing a clown instead of a normal person – and is unable to control his left arm. This conflict is difficult to understand though it gives an unusual dimension to the story. He has two wives (Sarika is the ex and Ayesha Raza is the second wife) and has a daughter and a son from both, respectively.
So we have three wars – 1. Amitabh V/S Business rivals. 2. Amitabh V/S his wives (this has yet to become clear.) and 3. Amitabh V/S Amitabh because of his strange ailment. The third conflict may be more interesting.
But seeing that this is supposed to be an ‘expensive’ mini-series I was disappointed to see a rather unimpressive office of Amitabh, the construction magnate. I’d advise the set designer to take a look at the offices of Hiranandanis, Oberoi Reality, Lokhandwala and other builders. But how much of the production values you see on the screen and how much is gobbled up by the big names would be confidential information with Anurag Kashyap, Shoojit Sircar and Ribhu Dasgupta.
I’ve talked of possibilities but it all depends on how the story shapes up. Unlike most of the soaps, this seems an intelligently told story. The second episode will tell.

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Bobby Jasoos Review

Vidya Balan

I preferred to watch Vidya Balan in Bobby Jasoos over two untried fresh faces in Lekar Hum Deewana Dil.
I am more than familiar with this milieu (jasoosi and Moslim mohlas) and a movie like this had immense possibilities of an absorbing and entertaining film.
Vidya is great!
But if you are looking for an edge of the seat film, this film is not for you. There is no suspense and surprise ending. This is an amateur’s way of looking at an amateur jasoos.
Someone somewhere decides to make a woman-centric film because it has worked for Vidya Balan in the past. It works.
Have some scenes, in fact many of them, where she dominates the ‘men’ playing second fiddle to her. Throw a situation where a young woman wants to prove herself, bring fame to her family ‘by playing a detective’ and you see an emancipated woman being portrayed.
Jasoos?
Vidya’s wonderful disguises of a bearded old maulvi, a beggar, a bangle-seller, a buck-toothed and balding palm reader are more interesting in promo than in the film, where they are wasted.
The successful jasoos is always inconspicuous. He may be clad in a faded jeans… Well, this one is she. She is known in the entire Shahjanpura as ‘Bobby Jasoos’ and is even called, “Ae jasoos!” But of course let’s not expect realism though the style for the rest of the film is realistic what with Supriya Pathak playing her very believable mother and Rajendra Gupta her father.
Ali Fazal impresses despite being given a step-motherly second fiddle to play as the friend turned lover of Vidya and KiranKumar is superb as the victim of riots father hiring Bobby Jasoos to locate his lost children.
Director Samar Shaikh will go a long way if he focuses on the ethos familiar to him, like in this film. But please no sequel unless you take script from me :)

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