I have nothing but the greatest contempt for ungrateful people who try to cover up their own miserable failings by blaming everyone but themselves.
Case in point: Kalpana Lajmi.
She directs “Chingari”—or perhaps “directed” is too charitable a term to use when someone creates a celluloid monstrosity on this scale. Even a bloated corpse with a megaphone could have done better.
And then in an [link courtesy: Amit Pandeya] interview to Subhash Jha (who along with Taran Adarsh can be considered to be the “movie reviewer from hell”) , she blames virtually everyone on the sets for the sorry debacle of “Chingari” except herself and Sushmita Sen—the two people who are actually responsible for the sorry mess.
Firstly she cribs that she hasn’t earned a penny from “Chingari”. To which I say—there is some justice left in the world.
I had only Rs.2.30 crore (Rs.23 million) to spend on the film, a part of which came from my romantic lead Anuj Sawhney’s father’s pocket. That’s why he could get away with his obnoxious behaviour. My producer was too new to argue with the father-son pair. I tried getting several other heroes, including Akshaye Khanna, Dino Morea … even Tusshar Kapoor in desperation. They all said they won’t work with me.
Yes Ms. Lajmi. I am sure afflicted as it is with your breast-beating and self-important victim mentality (ooh I am a great female director, yet noone appreciates me), your brain failed to discern the writing on the wall— Tusshar Kapoor rejects your movie. Yes the same man who signed on the dotted line for “Yeh Dil“. But not “Chingaari.”
And since Anuj Sawhney’s dad put up money to flag his son’s youthful indiscretions i.e. desire to be a hero, you should have known the quality of acting you would be getting from Anuj. But no. You expect him to be Ralph Fiennes.
Anuj was given full attention by Sushmita, Mithun-da, Ila and me. But he ruined the role. The postman was meant to be a mini-actor. He was supposed to give a performance every time he read a letter out to a villager. When Anuj reads a self-penned letter to Basanti pretending it’s from someone else, his love for her doesn’t come through at all.
You can’t imagine how hard Sushmita worked on his performance. But this fellow simply froze in front of the camera.
You get what you pay for Ms. Lajmi. That’s called Market. Actually Market is a Manisha Koirala disaster but let’s let that pass.
Before I forget, let me tell everyone that the music director ran away in the middle of the movie. So did the choreographer (Sushmita had to choreograph the dances).
Are we seeing a pattern here?
Then in a Freudian moment, Kalpana Lajmi herself enunciates the reason why the movie tanked.
A lot of people told me that Basanti isn’t Sushmita, it’s Kalpana Lajmi.
Ahem. Would you pay Rs 300 to see Kalpana Lajmi as a femme fatale? I did not think so.
I told her (Sushmita) to apply Johnson’s baby lotion to soften her jaw line. She doesn’t look harsh anywhere. She never ever disobeyed me. She’s a genius.
So are you Ms. Lajmi. An evil genius. Johnson’s baby lotion. Just friggin genius.
But then you say something that makes me see red. Red as a baboon’s behind. Red as Jyoti Basu’s heart.
She did something remarkable. She asked me to let her do an entire take without rehearsals. I agreed. When she gobbled up Mithun-da he didn’t know what hit him. That stunned look on his face was real. After the shot, Mithun-da was livid. He called me to a corner and abused me in graphic language. You don’t know what I’ve gone through. Half the time he was drunk. I had put my foot down. He didn’t like it. For the last five days, he didn’t touch a drop. Hence the inconsistent performance……..
Mithun-da came on the sets nonchalantly as someone whom Sush and I admired for years. He never ever imagined Sush was a volcano waiting to erupt. The minute he realized her potential he froze. For the confrontation scene between them my brief to Sush was, ‘The predator becomes the prey, and vice versa’. And she took off… She gave me tonal variations that even the awesome Shabana didn’t give me in ‘Ek Pal’. I made her do unbelievably long shots which pissed off Mithun-da. She completely ate him up.
Possibly the most loud, over-the-top, near-horror movie performance I have seen in a long time gets compared to something done by Shabana Azmi? Even worse, Sushmita eating Mithun-da? Resisting my urge to snigger for obvious reasons, I have to say that on one hand is a triple-time National Award winner (Mithun-da) and on the other hand is a nagging, faux-feminist who wants to be a great-actress but can’t-act-for-all-the-sand-in-the-world [Before my feminist readers go for my jugular, a lady who stuffs her breasts with sand is not a feminist by any stretch]—and guess who gets jealous of whom.
Now as to Mithun-da coming drunk to the sets–totally understandable. No sensible person, far less a God character like Mithun-da, can act in “Chingari” while in full possession of his faculties. It’s just not possible. As for abusing you in filthy language, that was bad I accept.
Incidentally, in a totally unrelated point, there was a dialogue in “Chingari” where Mithun-da says “Manoranjak Kutiya”. I thought that was an original Lajmi line. Even there I seem to be wrong.
Now the climax of Ms. Lajmi’s fulminations.
I am very grateful to Sushmita for breaking the mould as to the way prostitutes are shown in our films. I asked her to let me film two scenes of sexual crudity. She thought about it and trusted me. Even here Mithun-da was very, very difficult. I refused to let him compromise my artistic sensibilities. Sushmita truly went beyond the script even in the crude scenes.
I’ll never stop loving her for what she has given to my film. What Meena Kumari did in ‘Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam’, Nargis in ‘Mother India’ and Shabana Azmi in ‘Ankur’, Sushmita has done in ‘Chingari’, and more. And to think she’s only 29. She told me she had become Basanti for five months, and was scared she would ever be Sushmita again.
Ooh the humanity. The gall of this woman to compare Sushmita’s growling/frothing to Meena Kumari’s epic tragic performance or Nargis’s iconic “Mother India”. or Shabana Azmi’s ‘Ankur. And Ms. Lajmi, Sushmita Sen’s birthday is November 19, 1975. I wonder how she is 29 in 2006. Or may be it is Basanti who is 29. Who cares as long as we have sexual crudity.
Here’s the point. Why this ceaseless blame game? Take responsibility dear lady.
In short, your movies are repetitive and follow the same template: tortured woman in the beginning who becomes (literally) Ma Durga/Chandi in the end.
For originality, learn something from Nabh Kumar Raju. This is not the first time my blog has taken notice of this rising star in the Indian movie firmament. His movie “Topless” was one of the few movies even I could not sit through. From a past post:
Let me start by saying that the skin flick â€œToplessâ€ (tag line: It takes more than guts to reach the topâ€œ) is ineligible for this countdown because even I could not get through 30 minutes of this amazing work of art. Directed by one of Bollywoodâ€™s greatest avant-garde directors, Nabh Kumar Raju whose portfolio includes â€œ24 X7 Bombay Saloon Unisexâ€ and â€œFlirtâ€“Mera Dilâ€, â€œToplessâ€ is about an innocent model who is asked to pose â€œtoplessâ€ for an ad campaign but she, according to the promotional material, stands â€œrock steadyâ€ against sacrificing her morals. It takes more than guts to sit through this one.
Nabh Kumar has problems similar to yours—that is inability to get financial backing for experimental movies. But instead of taking money from people and casting their sons and then cribbing about it, he thinks out-of-the-box. For his new movie Hitlist, he thinks beyond the tried-and-tested—rather than approaching criminals for money to finance his movies, he instead casts them as actors !.
Imagine shooting a film where the director does away with the process of writing the dialogues and simply asks the artists, (in this case non-actors), to perform scenes according to their perception. Sounds incredible, doesn’t it but that’s what Nabh Kumar Raju has done in his latest film, HITLIST, which revolves around the detailed planning that goes on in the underworld, before an act of crime is committed. “It is about six criminals who hatch a plan to kill and extort money from the celebrity circuit. The film reveals their modus operandi and how they go about their business in an organized fashion,” Raju reveals.The film has many firsts to its credits including the fact that the six actors, who play the lead roles in the film, are in essence real criminals whom Raju chose from among 3000 names, who had dabbled in the world of crime. “They have all served a jail sentence and have been arrested at some stage or the other under various charges and as expected their performance was realistic to the core,” he smiles, adding that this factor will also attract the audience to the box-office. “I am sure the audiences would want to see real criminals enacting similar roles on the screen, despite the fact that the film has no star attraction,” he says.
Brilliant. No money or time spent on bheja-fry dialogues—total improv. And people who have come out of jail are rather cost-effective (i.e cheap)—unlike Tusshar Kapoor…who merely looks like he is a pickpocket. These people actually are.
And that’s not all. Nowadays people first act as heroes and then go to jail (Sanjay Dutt, Fardeen Khan, Salman Khan), Nabh Kumar Raju turns the axiom on its head—–taking people who have first gone to jail and then making them into heroes. Kind of maintains the cosmic balance.
If you, Ms. Kalpana Lajmi take lessons in originality and cost-cutting from Nabh Kumar Raju, you definitely should also learn something from the humility and loyalty of one of India’s greatest directors: TLV Prasad. If Lord Rama had Hanumana as his chela, then Lord Mithun has TLV Prasad.
From his website:
I take pleasure in achieving as a director to do so many number of films with the same hero (Mithun Chakraborthy) and I wish to continue my success with him for number of films.
His very words. He has created a record for directing the same hero (Mithun-da) for 22 movies [6 more in production]. And this is not an idle boast. He has a certificate from Opendar Chanana (General Secretary, Indian Film Directors Association) over here that supports his claim.
And what movies they are: the creme de la creme of world cinema: Jallad, Jurmana, Sikandar Sarak Ka, Chandal, Dada, Hitler (still banned in Israel).
He even got an entry in the Limca Book of Records with 26 Mithun-da movies. Now that’s loyalty and good taste for you.
And just to show that Mr. TLV Prasad is not a one-trick pony, he has launched a line of movies with the female-Mithun: Payal Rohatgi as the central figure of veneration. The movie names also flow through in an alliterative cadence: Tauba Tauba, Mazaa Mazaa, Gharam Gharam, Darling Darling and GudGudi.
Unlike perennially-short-of-cash Ms Lajmi, TLV has been blessed by the Lord for his loyalty. Check out his shooting stills from London. [Though it does looks a bit like the back of Mithun-da’s Monarch hotel]—this man is going places. (I think this is the shooting for “Naughty Boy”)
As for Ms. Lajmi, please do remember that loyalty and originality pays. God does exist. Even though he sometimes goofs up —Kiran More, Anne Coulter and Shabnam Hashmi for instance. But that doesn’t mean he isn’t watching.
And rewarding the good and punishing the naughty.