|ARTS TRIBUNE||Friday, October 12, 2001, Chandigarh, India|
Sight, sound, royalty relived
Candid confessions of cine artistes
Code for disaster coverage
Sight, sound, royalty relived
The fourth show of "Sher-e-Punjab" sight-and-sound show, a multi-media panorama depicting the 40 golden years of Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s rule in Punjab, was held at Gandhi Ground Ambala Cantonment, last weekend.
The Bank of Punjab sponsored "Sher-e-Punjab" sight-and-sound show is a milestone in the history of entertainment industry. Harbux Latta’s innovative idea of incorporating 18-foot video screen with drama and light makes it a grand spectacle to watch. Latta first venture of this kind entitled "Bole so Nihal" was also sponsored by the Bank of Punjab.
Latta has pioneered the concept of media-travelling characters in this show. Characters travel from one medium into another i.e. from film to drama to light and sound or vice versa: 16,000 watts of crystal clear digital sound and digital video projection are up to the mark with current inter-national technology.
Thirty artistes enact the roles of 83 characters of Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s period. Costumes are designed by Pammi Latta. Finding the right kind of fabric, proper colours and, above all, getting angrakhas and other traditional costumes stitched in Chandigarh is a commendable job. Dr Harcharan Singh, an experienced and seasoned script-writer, has penned the script. This father-son team has contributed enormously to Punjabi drama and culture. Another star in the crown is music director H.M. Singh who has been association with the team for the past 20 years. Experienced artistes from Chandigarh enact all kinds of characters. The trend-setter and mega hit "Bole So Nihal" attracted an audience of 25,000 per show. Now the Bank of Punjab and Shoba Shakti Films expect an even bigger audience.
Renowned artistes of the Punjabi theatre and television industry taking part in the show are: Parvesh Sethi, Tej Bhan Gandhi, Balkar Sidhu, Ramesh Bhardwaj, Bhupal Singh, Rajiv Mehta, Gurucharan Dardi, Arun Sharma, Rajinder Rosi, Arjun Singh, Umesh Nagpal, Arvind Sood, S.P. Singh, Kuldeep Bhatti, Yogesh Tungal, Ravinder Rajpal, Satvinder Kaur, Ram Kishen, Avneet, Nikki Latta, Harshvir Latta, Makhan Singh, Ashok Rana and Amritpal Singh.
The songs of this multimedia panorama are sung by well-known singers of Punjab like Kamal Tiwari, Surender Shinda, Vinod Sehgal, Manpreet Akhtar, Nirmal Sidhu, Feroj Khan, Rajinder Mohni and Sarabjit Kaur, Quwali by Shokat Ali and party. The commentary is given by Shammi Narang and Avinash Sareen, leading news readers of Delhi Doordarshan.
Candid confessions of cine artistes
One could never imagine that actors from Bollywood could be so down to earth and simple, with common human failings. Bharat Kapoor of "Saans", Pawan Malhotra of "Nukkad" fame and Rita Bhaduri of "Amaanat" fame were all in Ludhiana last weekend shooting for a documentary "Sehyog" specially shot for the benefit of farmers of India.
Relaxing on the green lawns of the motel after a hectic spell of shooting, this correspondent had informal talk with them. Pawan looked the most relaxed and cheerful and the most active even after the hectic day. He said, "It was by chance that I drifted into theatre. I got absorbed in the huge cast of the play ‘Tughlak’. I used to act in college plays, but after acting in ‘Tughlak’, I decided to become a professional actor. I joined as an assistant director with Vinod Chopra and then in 1985, ‘Nukkad’ happened. My role of Hari in that serial endeared me to the people. My role in ‘Intzaar’, ‘Manoranjan’ were also lauded by people. My film ‘Saleem Langde Pe Mat Ro’ was declared the best National Film and I got the Best Actor’s award at the National level for the film ‘Baag Bahadur.’ Presently, I am acting in serials ‘Khamoshian’ and ‘Patang’. I still like to do theatre."
Bharat Kapoor, the villain of "Noorie", the lovable "Ajit Sir" of "Saans" and"Ahmed Bhai" of "Amaanat" said he enjoyed coming to Punjab. He said, "I have been acting in movies and TV for the past three decades. I was a theatre artiste and have acted in ‘Tanhai’, ‘Shatranj Ke Mohre’, ‘Dr Satish’ and in a unique play called ‘Khoobsurat’ directed by Ramesh Talwar. In this play, Pooja Bhatt plays my daughter. We are the only two stars in this play. The play has been inspired by a Broadway play, ‘Star Spangled Girl’. We took this play to London and Dubai."
On being asked whether he enjoyed doing goody-goody roles or villainous ones, he replied, "I like every role, but I would not like to play a villain, who is not totally black, but has shades of grey. After all tell me which person is totally black in life.
When asked that serials revolved round the same theme of adultery and conniving characters and there were hardly any serials worth their names for teenagers, Rita replied, "Do you think the young generation has time to watch serials? They are busy watching Channel V and MTV or going to discos. Anyway ‘Hip Hip Hurray’ is for teenagers."
‘Mughal-e-Azam’, ‘Teesri Kasam’ and ‘Rajnigandha’ were good films and their credit goes to the ace cinematographer K.K. Mahajan. He has done camera work for more than 99 films. He said, "I have done hardcore commercial films, arty films and worked with directors like Basu Chatterjee, K. Asif, Mrinal Sen and Subhash Ghai. For ‘Teesri Kasam’, the shooting was completed in 45 days, whereas ‘Roop ki Rani, Choron ka Raja’ took five years to complete. I enjoy shooting at one go, for the flow helps in cohesiveness in all aspects of making the movie. The cameraman has to be tough as when others get a break, the cameraman is always getting ready for the next shot."
ASOKA (SONY): Providing music to a film set in the times of Emperor Ashoka the Great must have been a unique challenge for a director like Anu Malik. He thrives on contemporary tunes. Going to the roots can be difficult. But he has risen to the occasion. India’s music tradition has been so rich that the modern flows out of the ancient and you can dovetail these two seamlessly.
In fact, the music that he has given should rank among his best. Lilt, rhythm and human ability are all there in just the right proportions. And that makes a good recipe for big success. At the same time, one does feel like breaking his head for breaking our heart. While giving us some tunes which are absolutely first rate, he also swipes a few snatches from A.R.Rahman hits, particularly in the song Raat ka nasha abhi ankh se gaya nahin…. Since the song has been sung by Chitra, a Rahman regular, the similarity becomes all the more jarring. This was no album for a cut and paste job.
But except for that black mark, the album unspools like a dream. Gulzar’s lyrics are a delight. The only song written by Anand Bakshi, San sanana ..., happens to be equally good, surprise surprise!
Anu has given a chance to Sunita Rao and Shaan in O re kanchi... and to Sunidhi Chauhan in Aa tayar hoja ….
The theme music for the film has been composed by Sandeep Chowta.
SOUNDS (TIPS): Each of A.R.Rahman’s films has one or two exceptionally popular numbers. After "Lagaan", there has not been any new film from him. So, till the next one comes in, here is a compilation of his previous hits from such films as "Lagaan", "Taal", "Zubeidaa", "Bombay", "Fiza, "Rangeela", "Hindustani" and "Daud". Most of the songs are familiar but there are also some remix versions, as in the case of Tu hi re … from "Bombay" and Ni main samajh … from "Taal".
Interestingly, the most dominating presence here is that of "Taal". Not only have two songs been included from that film but the album also has two instrumentals, "Raga dance" and "Beats of passion". It is here that one finds Rahman at his best.
JALSA (Universal): Doing a remix version of any established singer’s work is a difficult job, considering that the riyaz that the original singer has gone through is hardly the forte of a newcomer. The task is almost impossible when the singer is an ustad like the late Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. To that extent, the fluency shown by Salim in singing some of his all-time hits like Mera piya ghar aya … and Tere ishq nachaya … is remarkable. Not only is his voice somewhat similar to that of the legend but he also shows some of the nuances.
Music has been remixed by Jawahar Wattal and performed by Mahender Babloo Kumar.
Those of us who have been monitoring television closely from September 11 must have noticed one significant difference between the coverage of disasters by the BBC, CNN and other international networks and our own TV channels. Not once did the international networks show mangled bodies or isolated limbs or any form of actual blood and gore from the violence surrounding the terrible events at the twin towers on September 11 and onwards.
And not one of the bodies recovered out of the 6000 plus persons who died was shown. We saw at the most terrified people fleeing with torn clothes or faces covered with mud or ash, usually that of fire-fighters and other victims. Not only viewers, but the grieving relatives were shielded from seeing on TV the bodies or faces after violent death. In other words, they respected the dignity of the victims in death and the private grief which is the right of those left behind.
In contrast, to take only the recent terrorist attack on the Legislative Assembly in Srinagar, we had horrifying close-ups of mangled bodies, scattered limbs, dead and dying people being dragged to safety, again with frequent close-ups. Similarly, after the Patna plane crash, intrepid reporters competed fiercely with each other in hounding injured people in hospital ICUs, thrusting microphones into their faces when they were barely able to speak. Some died afterwards. Grieving relatives were also badgered to express their feelings, sometimes on the spot.
I would therefore like to place before readers and media professionals a valuable guide for media persons drawn up by the Syracuse University Research Group which suggests Do and Don’ts for Disaster Coverage. This follows on research following the Pan Am flight 103 tragedy by the S.I. School of Public Communications which carried out the research through this group. I believe Star News has already circulated its findings to its staff and I hope Aaj Tak, Zee and other channels have also done so, because I think most India-based channels went overboard during the recent local tragedies, by over-stating the visuals and defeated their original purpose by frightening viewers especially children, and making them feel threatened rather than helping them to view the events in the right perspective and sympathising with the victims in a rational manner.
Here then,are the main points of the Do and Don’ts for Disaster Coverage:
I Don’t intrude in any way before, during or just after the time that relatives and friends of victims learn of a possible loss.
2. Do try to give relatives and friends some privacy at this moment, even in a public place. This may mean looking away or turning off the camera. Wait till you are certain that the immediate family has received the news and try to avoid being the personal bearer of bad news.
3. Don’t ask "How do you feel?" or any question that tries to trick them into expressing their emotions.
4. Do try to say something that recognises the tragedy and then give a very open-ended invitation to speak. "I know this is terrible for you, is there anything anything you would like to say?" If the answer is No, hand over a business card or slip of paper with your phone number saying "That’s all right, but if at any time you would like to talk, please feel free to call me."
5. Avoid making judgements about whether the behaviour of the people you interview is appropriate or inappropriate (It lists different ways in which people can react).
6. Don’t assume your colleagues will know what to do if a disaster strikes. Develop a "disaster scenario", including newcomers to the news room. I am omitting some details for lack of space but hope the general idea has gone across. Competing in horror is no substitute for coverage which respects the feelings and the dignity of both the viewer and those immediately involved in the disaster.