ARTS TRIBUNE Friday, August 4, 2000, Chandigarh, India
City boys makes waves in Bollywood
By Anjana Datta

N your very first encounter with him you can’t help being impressed by this tall, handsome young man who looks every inch star material. He is Bikramjeet — a new star from City Beautiful making waves on the film horizon.

Indi-pop & packaging art
By Aseem Shrivastava

USIC these days is big business. With music companies more than willing to promote new talent, the market is flooded with new faces splashed on all music channels.


by Amita Malik

Living from crisis to crisis
FIRST there was the Patna crash, then the Concorde crash, and then a series of Kashmir crisis which are always with us. And now, Veerappan kidnaps respected and much-loved thespian, Dr Rajkumar. 

Alisha Chinoy
Alisha Chinoy





City boys makes waves in Bollywood
By Anjana Datta

IN your very first encounter with him you can’t help being impressed by this tall, handsome young man who looks every inch star material. He is Bikramjeet — a new star from City Beautiful making waves on the film horizon.

TV watchers will instantly recognise him as serials “Rano” and “Tutan Wala Khoo” featuring him are on the air on the Lashkara channel. The theatre fraternity of City Beautiful too knows him too well for he has participated in a number of plays which proved to be a big hit with the audience. So it didn’t take him long to realise that his next destination was the tinsel town.

A one ad-film actor, Bikramjeet always knew that he wanted to act. As luck would have it, a chance meeting with Krishan Lamba, a well-known director of Bollywood, launched him on his journey to stardom. In 1997 Lamba was visiting Himachal Pradesh in search of new locales for his forthcoming film. One of Bikram’s friends introduced him to Lamba and showed him his ad film. Impressed by his terrific screen presence, he recommended him to Naveen Kumar, another big name in Bollywood, who immediately offered him a role in his Punjabi film “Mera Ghar Kithe Hai”. The heroine of the film is Upasana Singh. The story is woven around the plight of a girl who has to spend her entire life following the dictates of others. Before marriage, it is her father and brother who dominate her life, and after her marriage, her husband and then son. She cannot find solace anywhere nor have a place which she can call her own. The entire film shot in and around Patiala is due for release very shortly.

In this film, Bikram plays the role of a dominating and caring elder brother very convincingly and establishes his credentials as an actor. Though it is not a lead role, Bikram accepted it and portrayed it beautifully. It was enough to give a kick start to a career which saw fairly decent performances in the following years. Looking back, he is glad that he accepted the film and benefited a lot from it. He believes that it was this role that paved the way for him for better things. For simultaneously, he got an offer to do “Rishtey”, another Punjabi film made by Krishan Lamba. In between, he did a TV serial, “Kashmir — Aaj Kal”, part-I depicting the current situation in the valley. In it he plays the role of a Muslim press reporter who braves terrorism while doing his duty. He thoroughly enjoyed doing the role. Its second part is being made now.

This was followed by “Tutan Wala Khoo”, a TV serial directed by Mohan Singh, and “Rano” by Narinder Grewal for Lashkara channel. Both are on the air now and enjoy an immense viewership in the region. Then came “Chandigarh Campus” which is still being shot in Chandigarh. In “Rano” and “Chandigarh Campus”, the heroine is Rimpy Gill, a former Miss Chandigarh. In “Rano” he plays the hero. But in “Chandigarh Campus”, he plays the role of a suave villain, the spoilt son of an MLA. In fact, it is a role he identifies with in real life too.

Although he has played quite a number of negative roles, he doesn’t want to be branded as a total “baddie” for life. In most of the films and serials which he has signed recently, he is playing a positive role. For instance, in “Rano” he is playing the hero’s role. A hero’s role or a villain’s, he has no qualms about playing it. What matters most to him is that the role should be appealing and convincing. Says he, “These days the chocolate hero is one or two films concept. There is a lot of scope for a mature and macho character role.” And Bikram is determined to prove that he can act.

Bikram is proud of the fact that unlike any other newcomer, he didn’t have to struggle or manipulate to get a role. All roles which he has received so far, were got on the merit of his personality and acting ability. “The directors themselves are offering me a variety of roles. I have neither a godfather in this industry nor, have I ever enrolled myself in any acting school. Yet, I have managed to get a good deal of film offers,” he remarks with a beaming face.

If Lady Luck is really on his side, then this young actor is surely going to make it big one day on the silver screen as he likes to take himself seriously. He is determined to prove that he will be a success soon.

At present, things are looking up for Bikram in such a big way that he will soon be gaining recognition both on the national and international level if his present assignments are any indication. His forthcoming films are “India’s Most Wanted”, a Hindi feature film starring him with Sunny Deol, and ‘Sarhad Paar’, another Hindi feature film written and produced by Vijay Tandon starring him with Sanjay Dutt and Tabu. Besides, he is featuring in two TV serials being made by Buta Singh Shaad, IMFA President, “Kutian Wale Sardar” for Star Plus and “Adi Raat Pehar Da Tadka” for Zee Alfa TV Channel and a couple of others.

In the motley jumble of cacophonic college fresh young boys who are trying hard to lend their talent to cinema, Bikram stands apart. His mannerisms and style suggest that he is different from the rest. An ardent fan of Vinod Khanna and Aditya Pancholi, he wants to develop his own style. His favourite heroines are Kajol and Aishwarya Rai.

Born and brought up at Karnal, he had his early education at St Therea’s Convent there. After doing postgraduation in public administration from Panjab University, Chandigarh, he settled down in the city. Throughout his student life, he has been a good hockey player and a sportsperson.

His father is a businessman and mother, a housewife. He has three brothers and a sister. With his good height, he stands 6’2”, and a robust physique, he always wanted to join the police force. But as luck would have it, he joined the film industry much against the wishes of his family who earlier had some reservations about the film industry. But not any more.

A deeply religious person, Bikram is a teetotaller and a pure vegetarian. He is basically a mama’s boy and wants to marry a girl of her choice.

However, at the moment, Bikram is totally involved with his film career and learning a great deal about film making and acting. He is looking forward to play a la Amitabh Bachchan in “Deewar” in the near future and seems to be on his way to success and stardom.



Indi-pop & packaging art
By Aseem Shrivastava

MUSIC these days is big business. With music companies more than willing to promote new talent, the market is flooded with new faces splashed on all music channels.

A majority of these one-song wonders never cut a second album and are never heard again. Are music companies exploiting the new singers or are they seriously promoting art?

“Most of the companies have no idea about the background of the artiste and are ready to launch him if he is willing to pay for his launch,” says singer Bhupi.

Some music companies insist on the artiste singing his/her first album for free and expect the same for the second album, if the first one is a success. This leads to parting of ways and the artiste looks for another company to cut his second album.

Launch into the music scene does not come cheap and the artiste ends up paying a huge amount. Some wannabes even sell their property to make a mark on the Indi-pop scene. If the first album is a success and there is demand, then the company does a second album. Otherwise the artiste joins the long list of one song wonders.

Jawahar Wattal, however, agrees that music companies in India have no idea of “artiste and repertoire” (A and R) which is the backbone of music. “Most of the companies don’t have understanding of music and lack music sense,” he says.

“The decision to launch any product has financial commitment prior to launch and therefore contains a risk factor. If the idea is to do one product only, the odds are stacked against the company. Normally one would spend more to break a new artiste than to sell an established one,” says Virgin Records marketing and A and R director Atul Churamani.

The risk, it seems, has only increased the crowd as more and more people try their hands at singing.

Baba Sehgal, still remembered for his first album “Thanda Thanda Paani”, was the first successful artiste on the Indi-pop scene.

The album a Hindi version of Vanila Ices’ “Ice Ice Baby” announced arrival of Indi-pop on the music sence.

Sehgal’s success came at a time when yo-generation was looking for a change. The album-cutting spree, however, started much later. Alisha Chinoy, Ali Haider, Sunita Rao et al kept it in the news. But Indi-pop was not hot.

“The credit for making Indi-pop what it is today goes to Baba Sehgal and Magnasound which launched him,” candidly admits Archies Music general manager Praveen Sethi.

Launch of satellite channels only made things easier for budding singers and Indi-pop, all of a sudden, was taken seriously.

Every music company worth its money signed a group of singers to sing for their labels, with none else than Baba and Alisha leading the lot.

Indi-pop all this while kept evolving. The never-before concept of a music video, thanks to so many channels on the scene, became the only source of promoting an artiste. Playback singing no longer remained a behind-the-curtain job and credit for it goes to late Gulshan Kumar of T-Series.

Singers like Jassi feel this cannot be stopped. “But like in sports in music too, only talented ones will survive. The artiste has to perform,” he says.

“More than 70 per cent of the artistes on the scene today cannot perform before live audience,” Bhupi says.

The success of a pop singer now depends on things other than just voice. Looks do matter.

“It all depends on packaging. If a singer is good looking and a good human being with a reasonably good voice and has done his job well, he can be sold in the market,” says Sethi.

The key word these days is packaging and the artistes undergo training in the nuances of conducting themselves in public.

“Even the music companies themselves are not sure whether the artiste will sell. If he looks good in camera, he is good enough to be a singer,” says Jassi.

There have been cases when the music company chose a wrong song for video to promote the artiste and despite the talent, the artiste failed to make any impact.

“It happened with one of our singers. We could not project his talent. But he is still working with us as we know he is talented,” says Sethi.

Music companies spend a huge amount of money, sometimes Rs 50 lakh just for the music video. Like, moveis, foreign locales, special effects and huge sets have now become minimum requirements.

Where does that leave the art? Who are the companies selling? Art or artistes?

“Music is bought and sold and two criteria: the music or the artiste. However, it must be remembered that the core of our business is signing the recording artistes for release. So we sign with a view to selling the artiste and consequently his craft,” says Churamani.

Wattal feels that India has not reached the stage where it will accept artistes just for his art.

“In the West we have singers like Steve Wonder who is disabled. His songs like ‘I just called to say’... and ‘Part time lover’... were very much appreciated. Can we expect the same for an Indian singer?” he asks.

So is the boom in the market only too much hype and no substance or is it for real?

“The big time boom where both the art and artiste will flourish is yet to come in India,” says Wattal.

While Wattal awaits that precious moment, the listeners will see more Daler Mehndis and Phalguni Pathaks in the making. — PTI



by Amita Malik

Living from crisis to crisis

FIRST there was the Patna crash, then the Concorde crash, and then a series of Kashmir crisis which are always with us. And now, Veerappan kidnaps respected and much-loved thespian, Dr Rajkumar. And one must confess that the media have risen to the occasion. Most interesting of all is how his family is making use of the good old radio to communicate with Veerappan and his captors. Dr Rajkumar’s sons are spelling out the names of his essential medicines. His grand-daughter is voicing loving messages and his wife and daughter are making direct emotional appeals to Veerappan. Great are the uses of transistor radios and, in this context, audio-cassettes which are used by everyone from Veerappan to editor Gopal. Does one not keep on repeating that those brash people who write off radio and fall for the seductive charms of television have a lot to learn?

I shall deviate for a bit to discuss some other programmes far removed from crisis situations but which are very much the concerns of cough potatoes. I have received a number of calls from the regulars who watch Sa-Re-Ga-Ma on Zee channel. They all confess how much they miss the much-loved Sonu Nigam, now lost, one hopes not for ever, to the big screen. And how the programme has slumped with the two babes in the wood who now anchor it. I must confess that these talent-spotting music programmes, with an audience which indulges in a perpetual Mexican wave in the hope that Mummyji and Daddyji are watching them sway all over the place, are not really my cup of tea. I concede that they have sometimes discovered genuine talent and that they are great PR exercises in wooing viewers whose main ambition in life is to be on the idiot box. So I made a special effort to watch last week’s Sa-Re-Ga-Ma. I have the highest regard and affection for Ustad Amjad Ali Khan and his charming Assamese wife Subbalakshmi, who has long connections with my family. But I do agree that their two sons have been let loose prematurely on the screen. Their only authority consists in dropping tit-bits of musical knowledge which are part of their musical upbringing. But as far as anchoring goes, they are just what they are: two young novices who should by rights be in a programme for young people. It is unfair to viewers and this programme is taxing their immature personalities too much. I think they should stick to their musical careers, which have a long way ahead.

Secondly, I must comment on Zee News Channel’s efforts to run before it can crawl. The two anchors brashly announced on Monday that they had an exclusive interview with editor Gopal when the microphones of three other channels were clearly visible. Then interviewing choir conductor Ravi Santtoshan in Chennai, whose choir will participate in the Sydney Olympics, they addressed him as “Mr Ravi”, instead of Mr Santhoshan, they pronounced choir (quire) as coir (as in the Coir Board) and then capped it by referring to the choir as his “band”. Most unprofessional of all when Kishore Malaviya, formerly of the Navbharat Times, did a very good interview with General Malik, they did not give him any credit, on the screen or otherwise. Not that Star Plus in Crorepati is above reproach. Among other slips, they spelt Nobel prize as Noble Prize on the screen.

A last word on some NDTV performers. When Sharad Sharma started his BBC programme, IT India tomorrow, which is very different from his, easy-going persona in Good Morning India, he was a little shaky to begin with. But he has now acquired the different style needed for IT and was quite splendid in his programme on Chandrababu Naidu. Still on NDTV, its newscaster Swati Thyagarajan has the makings of a good newscaster, she is clear and she is confident. Pity she messes up things by stressing every second word (usually the wrong one) and reading her items like musical cadenzas. Phrasing is a fine art which must be cultivated, Swati.

TAIL-PIECE: The most enjoyable programme of the week was undoubtedly Karan Thapar’s Hard Talk India with Ram Jethmalani. Both of a kind, neither willing to give a quarter, both talking non-stop, it was worthy of the Olympics. The best part was that they thoroughly enjoyed themselves in this academic battle which had no subterfuge or bitterness, something which the viewer misses in most political discussions.


‘Jadoo’ of old-world melody

TERA JADOO CHAL GAYA (Tips): That the music of a film plays a pivotal role in its success or otherwise goes without saying. On sampling the music of this Abhishek Bachchan-starrer for the first time, one gets the feeling that the offering of Ismail Darbar may be dated for today’s tastes. But listen to the album again and you may have to revise your decision. Amidst the heavy orchestration and fast tempo of today’s music, the gentle serenity of this album stands out.

Just as there is a bit of timelessness about certain classical designs, the music here takes you back to the golden ‘60s. In fact, this is one of those rare albums where even a quawwali has been included. It has been competently rendered by Kavita Krishnamurthy and Sonu Nigam. Coming after such a long time, it offers novelty value.

Ismail Darbar has woven his music around Arabian tunes, which are particularly pronounced in the title song (Chitra and Sonu Nigam) and Jo ishq ka matlab samjhega … (Shankar Mahadevan). Sonu Nigam is emerging as the voice of Abhishek Bachchan. All four songs that he has sung for the actor here are superb. Both Alka Yagnik and Sonu impress in Mujhe pyar karo ...

The one song that leaves you cold is Agra mein hai mashoor … by Farida, Vinod Rathod, Nitin Shankar and chorus. It may be a fun song but we expect much better from the composer of “Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam”.

Lyrics are by Sameer. Tera jadoo chal gaya … is there in the instrumental version also.

KABHI TO NAZAR MILAO (Magnasound): Even at this age Asha Bhosle continues to be miles and miles ahead of the new crop of singers. It is a pity that she is no longer cutting very many new discs. This album once again proves her virtuosity forcefully.

The album features solo and duet songs by Asha and Adnan Sami Khan who is also the composer.

First a few words about Adnan Sami. Toronto-based Adnan is a concert pianist, singer, songwriter, composer and music producer with a command on all western and Indian classical and semi-classical notes. He is the winner of a special UNICEF award and a United Nations Peace Medal for a song he wrote and performed for Africa. He has recently signed an exclusive two-year two-album contract with Magnasound as a singer. The company is also promoting his career as a singer.

In this maiden album in India he has tried to present both traditional as well as contemporary tunes. Some of the 10 songs are pure and chaste compositions while the rest are “fusion”. All of them have been written by Raizur Rahman Saghar.

As a composer he gives a good account of himself, but as far as singing is concerned, he has been beaten fair and square by Asha. That does not mean that he is an unworthy singer. He is good but not in the same league as Asha.

JAANAM (T-Series): Udit Narayan’s full-throated, lively voice is always a pleasure to hear, but in this private album he goes overboard with his “mast” singing. The joyfulness jars when it creeps into even the serious songs. But that aberration is there in only one or two songs like Main jise pyar samajh baitha …. The rest are light romantic songs in any case. Nikhil-Vinay’s music is none too pumped up and is hence soothing. Particularly hummable are Aawara aawara… and Yeh jeevan pyar se bhar do tum …

Faiz Anwar’s lyrics are simple but effective. As is the trend today, the video has been slickly made (courtesy Anubhav Sinha).