Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Late Tom Alter’s fantasy short film 'The Black Cat' official adaptation of a short story by celebrated Indian author Ruskin Bond~


Late Tom Alter’s fantasy short film 'The Black Cat' is live on youtube today ~The Black Cat is an official adaptation of a short story written by celebrated Indian author Ruskin Bond~ ~The film stars Tom Alter as Ruskin Bond and Shernaz Patel as Miss Bellows, a traditional English Witch~ Mumbai, 14th November, 2017: Director Bhargav Saikia’s short film The Black Cat, which features legendary actor Tom Alter in his final lead role, releases online today on the occasion of Children’s Day. The film is the last completed film of Tom Alter who passed away recently after a long and courageous battle with skin cancer. The Black Cat which is produced by Lorien Motion Pictures is released on their official YouTube channel. You can watch the film here – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B5RAKpdahQU The Black Cat which is an official adaptation of a Ruskin Bond short story is a children’s fantasy film. The film belongs to the Fantasy genre, which has not been widely explored in Indian cinema. The celebrated Indian author and Padma Bhushan awardee Ruskin Bond is known for his short stories and other forms of literature for children and has been widely considered as India's favourite children's author. The film had its International Premiere recently at FilmQuest Festival in Utah where it was nominated for the Best Fantasy Film and Best Production Design awards. The film was also screened at 20th International Children's Film Festival India 2017 which was be held from 8th to 14th November 2017 in Hyderabad. The Black Cat is the latest work of Ruskin Bond that has been adapted for celluloid. The previous official film adaptations of the iconic writer’s works include Vishal Bhardwaj's 7 Khoon Maaf, The Blue Umbrella and Shyam Benegal's Junoon. Interestingly, Tom Alter essays the role of Ruskin Bond in the film which makes it all the more special since the actor and writer were close friends.
The film also stars Shernaz Patel who has given an extremely memorable performance as Miss Bellows, a traditional English Witch. The Visual Effects (VFX) for the film are done by Phantom-FX whose previous credits include Baahubali 2: The Conclusion. The Black Cat has been shot on various locations in Mussoorie and Nainital. It features important landmarks of these picturesque towns including The Retreat, a beautiful colonial property near Nainital which was built in the late 1860s by the British. Bhargav Saikia had also recently organized a special screening of the film for Ruskin Bond in Mussorie who was extremely pleased with the film. Bhargav Saikia, the director of The Black Cat says, “Ruskin Bond is a national treasure and I cannot think of a better occasion than Children’s Day to release The Black Cat. I strongly believe the film will appeal to younger audiences as well as adults. The Black Cat has been made with utmost love and care, and I am extremely excited to share the film with everyone today. I dedicate the film to Tom Alter.” About the film Directed by Bhargav Saikia, The Black Cat is a short film and an official adaptation of celebrated writer Ruskin Bond’s short story. The Black Cat had its international premiere at one of USA's leading film festivals for horror, fantasy & sci-fi cinema, FilmQuest Festival in Utah. The film was nominated for the Best Fantasy Film & Best Production Design awards. It has also won the Best Music award and nominated for Best Director, Best Actor (Tom Alter) & Best Cinematography at McMinnville Short Film Festival in USA. It won the award for Best Cinematography and an Honourable Mention for Best Fantasy/Sci-fi Film at Asians on Film - Festival of Shorts in USA. The Black Cat has screened at the following film festivals: Jaffna International Cinema Festival in Sri Lanka (nominated for Best International Short Film), 20th International Children's Film Festival India in Hyderabad, Bengaluru International Short Film Festival, India (nominated for Best Indian Fiction Film), Signs Festival in Kochi, India (nominated for Best Short Fiction Film), Spooky Empire's International Horror Film Festival in USA (nominated for Best International Short) and Brahmaputra Valley Film Festival in Guwahati. The film has received positive reviews from international film critics/genre film websites including Diabolique Magazine, one of USA's leading magazines for horror, fantasy and science fiction cinema, which has praised The Black Cat and said, “Bhargav Saikia is a name people should be looking out for in the years to come. A new voice in fantasy and magical realism, he’s on the verge of achieving wonderful things.” About the director Bhargav Saikia is a filmmaker from Assam based in Mumbai. His debut short film, Awakenings, has screened in-competition at some of the world's top genre film festivals, including the Academy Awards (Oscar) accredited Sitges International Fantastic Film Festival (Spain), HollyShorts Film Festival (USA) and Neuchatel International Fantastic Film Festival (Switzerland). Bhargav also produced the critically acclaimed independent feature film, Kaafiron Ki Namaaz, which premiered at one of Asia's leading film festivals, Jeonju International Film Festival (South Korea), in 2014.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Hollywood's #SonyPictures Joins #AkshayKumar's '#Padman' As Global Distributor


Hollywood's Sony Pictures Joins Akshay Kumar's 'Padman' As Global Distributor MUMBAI; 15th November, 2017: In a move that lends weight to Bollywood’s welcome trend toward star-driven movies focused on women’s issues, Sony Pictures Entertainment has partnered with Prernaa Arora and Arjun Kapoor’s KriArj Entertainment on the Akshay Kumar-starring drama Padman. Sony has committed to handle worldwide distribution for Padman, which is scheduled to release in theaters in India and around the world on January 26th, 2018. In the upcoming film, which was written and directed by R. Balki (Cheeni Kum, Paa), Akshay Kumar portrays the real-life social entrepreneur Arunachalam Muruganantham, the inventor who risked everything, including his own reputation, to introduce low-cost and easily accessible sanitary napkins to poor women in India and around the world. Over the course of many years, Muruganantham dedicated himself to solving a massive challenge of women’s hygiene in developing countries, overcoming India’s taboo of discussing menstruation by using himself as a test subject for his sanitary pads, sacrificing his reputation and his family’s respect in the process. But he ultimately prevailed, inventing a cheap mini-machine that can manufacture sanitary pads for less than a third of the cost of commercial pads, and subsidizing their distribution across all of India. In 2014, TIME magazine placed him on its list of 100 Most Influential People in the World. As a socially-conscious drama, Padman follows in the footsteps of Aamir Khan’s Dangal—India’s most popular and financially successful movie ever. In that film Khan plays a frustrated wrestler who makes the sacrifices necessary to ensure that his daughters reach their full potential and become world champions in the sport. Khan also produced and acted in this autumn’s Secret Superstar, which has him in a supporting role as a crass, boorish and mildly misogynistic music producer who nevertheless gives his time, his money and even his dignity to help a young girl achieve her dream and, more importantly, to help the girl’s mother liberate herself from a dangerously abusive husband. Akshay Kumar and KriArj Entertainment have also had their own previous success with films focused on critical social issues. RUSTOM in 2016 & now their summer, 2017 hit Toilet: Ek Prem Katha (English - Toilet: A Love Story). is a satirical comedy that supports India’s governmental campaigns to improve rural sanitation conditions. Sanford Panitch, President of Sony’s Columbia Pictures division, said of Kumar, “Akshay is the rarest of artists [who has] found a way with this film to make a wonderfully affecting and heartwarming movie that also can impact social change.” Vivek Krishnani, Managing Director of Sony Pictures Entertainment, India added, “We are indeed excited to partner with Akshay, Mrs. Funnybones Movies and KriArj Entertainment on PadMan—it’s a film that’s bound to make every Indian proud because it celebrates a true indigenous inventor and innovator who brought a massive social change.” Arjun N Kapoor of KriArj Entertainment, sums it up saying, "This film will be path-breaking in more ways than one and we believe that if there are stories that deserve to be told, this one tops the list. We couldn't have had better creative forces combined than Balki, Akshay Kumar and Twinkle Khanna to portray this extraordinary tale of an ordinary man."

#Ajji a Battlecry for Justice Releasing on 24th November


When a Granny Stirred a Storm... AJJI ! Releasing on 24th November at a theatre near you With rave reviews pouring in from BUSAN International Film Festival & MAMI, Industry veterans like Javed Akhtar and Kabir Khan are stunned by Yoodlee Films’ AJJI..
MUMBAI; 14th November, 2017: Director Devashish Makhija’s Hindi film AJJI , a dark twist on the fairy-tale Little Red Riding Hood, has been receiving a thunderous applause from both audience and reviewers! The film will release in theatres on 24th November. Its stunning trailer lends a peek into the dark world of the film and leaves you numb. To watch the trailer, please click on: http://bit.ly/ajjitrailer24thnov Yoodlee Films' first outing- AJJI, premiered at the prestigious Busan International Film Festival and MAMI last month and has received fantastic reviews. Looks like the critics have finally found something to satiate their yearning for content-driven cinema. Reviews- - “Indian Revenge Drama Ajji is a Battlecry for Justice...a far cry from the glossy song and dance routines of Bollywood’s mainstream output, Ajji presents a viewpoint of contemporary India as seen from the gutter.” - read a review by screenanarchy.com from Busan. - Calling it 'An Uncomfortable Watch' noted film critic Rahul Desai sums up his Filmcompanion.in review saying, “I don’t think I’m going to watch Ajji ever again. Because I’ll remember it. I’ll remember that I flinched more at the sight of a man being attacked than at the suggestion of a minor being assaulted. And this is a complicated, deep-rooted feeling – one that perhaps Devashish Makhija and his team seek to address. Not through the prism of gender or entertainment or justice, but through a harmless old lady with nothing (left) to lose." - Hollywood Reporter : …”Ajji is one of India's strongest independents this year”. - Screen Daily : “Direct and effective, Ajji finds the lurid line between child rape drama and genre revenge thriller and walks it steadily through to a satisfyingly gruesome conclusion. “ Within the Indian film industry too, the buzz is resounding. Javed Akhtar took to social media to urge everyone to experience this film for themselves, “AJJI is a film really worth watching. I am not surprised that it is getting such flattering reactions at different international festivals!” Director Kabir Khan too has been impressed by this Yoodlee Films’ offering, describing it as “seriously dark but truly reflective of the world we are living in today unfortunately. I think it is the kind of film that needed to come out…” Speaking about the reactions they are already getting, director Devashish sheds the grim-mood of the film for a smile, “Fairy tales are all written metaphorically, and this one specifically holds a lot of relevance today. We are extremely happy at the interest shown by the festival circuit for our film. Each day that we come closer to AJJI's theatrical release I feel glad that Saregama India has set up Yoodlee Films as a platform to help independent filmmakers fearlessly tell stories that others shy away from…” Vikram Mehra, MD Saregama stated, “AJJI encompasses everything that Yoodlee Films believes in. It is guided by our belief in #fearlessfilmmaking for Indian Cinema and we are extremely glad that this thought is resonating with many prestigious festivals across the globe. We hope that with films like AJJI, Yoodlee Films helms the beginning of a change.”

#Newton chosen for the World Cinema section at the 31st #AFIFEST2017


After being chosen as India’s Official Entry to Oscars’ 2018, Drishyam Films' much loved film Newton made its L.A. Premiere at the 31st AFI FEST 2017 ~Newton which stars Rajkummar Rao, Anjali Patil, Pankaj Tripathi and Raghubir Yadav was chosen for the World Cinema section at the 31st AFI FEST 2017~
Mumbai/ Los Angeles C.A, 14th November 2017: Drishyam Films' critically acclaimed Newton which has been chosen as India’s official entry to the Academy Awards 2018, recently made its L.A. Premiere at the ongoing 31st American Film Institute (AFI) FEST 2017. The film which is directed by Amit Masurkar and features Rajkummar Rao, Anjali Patil, Pankaj Tripathi and Raghubir Yadav in pivotal roles was chosen for the World Cinema section at this year’s edition of the AFI FEST which ranks amongst the most prestigious film festivals globally. Newton is an official selection along with 12 other Oscar contenders such as Chile’s A Fantastic Woman, Poland’s Spoor, Germany’s In The Fade etc, and the only Indian film playing at the Fest. The L.A. Premiere of the film was attended by director Amit Masurkar and actor Anjali Patil who also walked the Red Carpet at the festival. Newton which was released theatrically in India in September had made its World Premiere earlier this year at the 67th Berlin International Film Festival 2017 where it won the CICAE Art Cinema Award. The film had also won the Jury Prize for Best Film at the 41st Hong Kong Film Festival 2017 and was recently picked as an Official Selection in the Indian Panorama section of 48th International Film Festival of India (IFFI), 2017. Amit Masurkar, the director of Newton who was ecstatic with the response received by the film at its L.A. Premiere said, “It’s a great honour to screen our film here at the AFI Fest. What’s great about this festival is that it is absolutely free for the audience. We had a wonderful Q and A with the warm eclectic audience, and are thoroughly enjoying the response that the film is getting here!” Equally thrilled with the audience response to the film was Anjali Patil, the lead actress of Newton who said, “It’s an honour to represent India with a film like Newton on the global stage. It was wonderful to see the connection with the super warm AFI audience. ” Manish Mundra, the founder of Drishyam Films and producer of Newton said, “The L.A Premiere at AFI FEST is yet another milestone in Newton’s journey. From winning the CICAE Art Cinema Award at Berlinale 2017 to winning the Jury Prize at Hong Kong Film Festival 2017 to being selected at India’s Official entry to Oscars 2018 and now having its the LA Premiere at AFI Fest 2017, Newton has come a long way. We are humbled and proud, and gearing up to promote the film in the United States.” About the film Newton, starring Rajkummar Rao in the title role is a sharp political black comedy that takes place on an election day in Central India. Rajkummar Rao plays Newton, a rookie clerk on election duty in a conflict-ridden jungle of Chhattisgarh, who tries his best to conduct free and fair voting despite the apathy of security forces and the looming fear of an attack by Maoist rebels. About Drishyam Films A company born out of love for cinema, Drishyam Films aims to build a platform for unique voices of Indian independent cinema and create global content with rich Indian. Their international award-winning films include Ankhon Dekhi, Masaan, Dhanak, Waiting, Umrika and Newton (which is now India’s official entry to the Oscars 2018). Their recent release was Rukh which starred Manoj Bajpayee and was written and directed by Atanu Mukherjee. Their upcoming release is Kadvi Hawa which is directed by Nila Madhab Panda and stars Sanjay Mishra, Ranvir Shorey and Tillotama Shome. Drishyam Films partnered with the Sundance Institute, USA to organize a Screenwriters’ lab for Indian writers for two successive years. They have also set up a VFX studio specializing in post-production and visual effects for feature films and commercials.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Director Of #WarMachine #DavidMichod in Coversation with #FilmCriticJohnsonThomas (Full Transcript)


Writer Director David Michod cut his teeth in the International Cinema arena with his critically celebrated ‘Animal Kingdom’ a film that won the World Cinema Award at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival. Michod also co-wrote the feature ‘Hesher’ starring Joseph Gordon Lewitt and Natalie Portman which also debuted at Sundance and his next feature ‘The Rover’ was amongst the official selections at Cannes 2014. He was here in India for just a day, to promote his Brad Pitt starrer ‘War Machine’- a quasi humorous absurdist satire on America’s never-ending involvement in Afghanistan. He talks to Film Critic Johnson Thomas about how that came about..
How difficult was it for you to adapt the book ‘The Operators:The Wild and terrifying inside story of America’s War in Afghanistan’ into a script for cinema? It was quite tricky. The book was written by a war correspondent, Michael Hastings, who was hanging out with a four star general in Afghanistan- through his process of writing the article in Rolling Stones and later on, the book. I was drawn to the character of the General and knew that I wanted to take it away from just the General’s experience and make it much bigger in context, about the entire American War Machine. That’s also how the title came about. How difficult was it getting to that point? I had been thinking for a long time about making a movie set in either Afghanistan or Iraq. A movie about the experience of modern American war but I hadn’t been able to find that story. So when Jeremy Kleiner and Dede Gardner from Plan B brought me Michael Hasting’s book and I started to see that movie that I wanted to make, it came out of me very quickly because I had been thinking about it for a long time. How long did it take ? I had been thinking about this for around 7 years but I couldn’t find the story that I wanted to tell or that anyone would let me make, War movies aren’t cheap. They involve a huge cast and have unimaginable production costs which a medium budget filmmaker like me would not be able to command. Right from early on in my career I have been aware of the things that are and aren’t achievable. I had a few ideas germinating in my mind over the years but they were all dark films and required bigger budgets. I always knew that the combination of darkness and big budget wasn’t really going to work. So the idea behind the absurdist tone was because of that? The tone of the book was far more forthright- strikingly different from the one you chose to highlight in the film.. ? It wasn’t for financial reasons but because the other resistance I had to these dark stories was that they were all stories set on the battlefield with soldiers and I feel they are the only movies being made on war today. Those films are usually about the battlefield experiences and they don’t ask larger questions of the architects of those battles. What attracted me to Michael’s book was the fact that it was about the people who were actually dictating the war and not merely about those fighting it. It painted an overwhelming picture of delusion and vanity of men with an overblown sense of themselves. And that for me and Brad, said absurdity. From the earliest days of our discussions we started playing this movie as a war satire leading up to the ridiculous. How did you decide on Brad Pitt for the eponymous role? Brad’s company had the rights to the book so when I was writing it, I was writing it in the hope that it would be for Brad. But he would never commit to a project before the script was written. I could say, through the many discussions we had on the subject, he was highly interested. So as soon as the script was written he committed to it very quickly and said ‘I wanna make this movie and I want to make it now!’ He plays a character that appears to be a caricature – ridiculously absurd in his pomposity. How did that come about? We had discussions about how big the character would be played. One of the things that was important to me was to project what was happening on the decision making table in America and what was happening on the ground in Afghanistan. And I wanted that separation to be felt distinctly. And we felt , to achieve that, we needed to play the ground very straight while playing the top as absurd and big. And let the characters delusions be writ large. So would you also say that throughout the movie it’s your voice that’s coming through – about America’s role in Iraq and Afghanistan? Yes. My voice slips in every now and then. It feels now, as though the movie is asking the questions that I was asking myself for years -while I was reading and researching about the futility and unremitting extravagance of war in Iraq and Afghanistan. Both America and Australia have been involved in this war that has gone on for 16 years now, with no clear end in sight. The question I keep asking myself is how is this possible? I presume that the men ( and it’s always men) running, orchestrating the show from within the comforts of their drawing rooms, must be intelligent and capable people. How can they not see the futility of this as clearly as I do. And when I discovered Michael’s book I realized that the lived inside these bubbles of delusion and personal ambition. That’s why I wanted this movie to be asking those same questions. An hopefully answering them too. So you could say you identified with Michael Hasting’s point of view? You could feel on every page that the time Michael was spending with these guys was extraordinary for him. Partly extraordinary because he couldn’t believe that they were behaving the way they were behaving. That they seemed so full of themselves, so full of hubris that they couldn’t see that they were incriminating themselves in front of a Rolling Stones reported. That’s probably because they did not take him seriously I guess? They either did not take him seriously or they took themselves far too seriously to care about what anyone thought or some combination of both. That was what I could feel on every page. That he, like me, couldn’t believe that these intelligent supposedly capable architects were so blind, almost oblivious to the devastation caused by seemingly perpetual war resounding with their footprints in the world they stomp through so callously. Do you feel there’s a kind of resistance to such kind of critical cinema in the world today.. because in India we would never be able to make a film denigrating the army or the establishment to such an extent? It very tricky. All the movies made in America about war, are all very particular in expressing the experiences of the troops and hey are made out of respect and with reverence and they don’t ask larger questions. And we knew that this movie would be difficult to make in the studio system because the studios would be afraid of it. They would be afraid about the economics and wonder at it’s ability to play all over America. But we felt it was important that this kind of movie becomes a part of the conversation on war too. And we were happy to get Netflix on board to achieve that purpose. Johnson Thomas Johnsont307@gmail.com

#SachinABillionDreams #HindiBollywoodFilmMovieReview #JohnsonThomas


Hindi Film Review Johnson Thomas An Emotionally charged Experience Film: Sachin : A Billion Dreams Cast: Sachin Tendulkar, Anjali, Arjun, Sara, other family members, cricketing greats and commentators from across the world, Ramakant Achrekar etc. Director: James Erskine Rating: * * * Runtime: 148 mins
A Bio-docudrama on the ‘God Of Cricket,’ this film was of course expected to be a winner even before it got off the floors. With a billion and more fans clamoring for a dekho, it was expected that even a hastily put-together success story would make do. James Erskine’s film though is a well thought out, sterilized effort that focuses it’s might on the demigod’s strengths- his virtuousness, his respect and love for family, friends and his unswerving commitment to the game of cricket. Director James Erskine (EMR, Pantani: The Accidental Death of a Cyclist , Shooting for Socrates) did not have a tough job at hand, seeing that every moment of this great man’s life and career as a sporting hero was well documented. All he needed was to source the material and that got done quite easily because Sachin himself has endorsed this effort. Sachin has always led an exemplary life as a dedicated cricketer, a conscientious captain, loving son, devoted brother, caring and committed husband and father and steadfast friend. All those roles come through quite vividly in Erskine’s documentary. Home videos, archival clips, montage moments, commentaries from the greats and nail-biting record breaking and needle thin match finishes from the sporting field are skimmed through with the efficiency of a well oiled clock. Erskine allows the viewer to dwell briefly on Sachin’s losses in life and the game and also embraces you in his numerous record breaking victories. They are of course thrilling moments and could even get you emotional. From his very first step into the sport to his very last on the National and International level, Erskine gets us involved in Sachin’s story. From being the hope of a struggling nation, to the emblem of a country ready to take on the world, from his first 200 in an ODI to the World Cup win in 2011, the film takes you on a fairy tale journey with Sachin. As the narrative progresses you not only experience Sachin’s growing prowess as a cricketer but also see him getting more and more confident of his Self-worth. Erskine of course doesn’t get Sachin’s childhood friend Vinod Kambli to talk about him, neither does he dwell deeply enough on the captaincy controversies, his tiff with Greg Chappell is papered over, the Ferrari ‘Tax’ controversy doesn’t come up, his stint as a Rajya Sabha MP is not even hinted at and the absence of Dilip Vengasarkar who was one of the many selectors during Sachin’s reign, was sorely felt. The editing is fluid, the present and past mix of home videos, archival match footage and present day shots are definitively emboldened while the background score rises to every proud moment with a symphony of sound and song. Sachin, the leading run-scorer and century maker in Test and One Day International cricket , the youngest Bharat Ratna Awardee, comes across as so squeaky clean that you might begin to think that he’s not human. In fact by skimming through the surface of Sachin’s great life, Erskine does disservice to the sporting hero even if his ‘He’s so good’ fan fable may just be what the fans ordered. Johnsont307@gmail.com

Monday, May 22, 2017

#Aasra's #JohnsonThomas was an invited speaker at a #TEDxTalk organised by #UWCMC


#Aasra's #JohnsonThomas was an invited speaker at a #TEDxTalk organised by #UWCMC Monday, May 22, 2017 #Aasra's #JohnsonThomas was an invited speaker at a #TEDxTalk organised by #UWCMC #aasradotinfo #aasraSuicidePrevention24x7Helpline912227546669 #BefriendersWorldwide #SamaritansUK #IASP #UN #WHO #AFSP #INFOTES #LifelineInternational #Google #Facebook Aasra's #JohnsonThomas was an invited speaker at a TEDxTalk organised by UWCMC