… starring ‘Baby Bumps’

16 Jun

Bollywood actress Konkana Sen debuts showing off baby bumps!

For those who haven’t heard or seen the good news, the enigmatic and classy actress Konkana Sen Sharma who married her long time beau Ranvir Shorey last year, has happily posed for the shutterbug displaying her baby bump for April 2011’s issue of Ok! magazine. The acclaimed actress who was seen earlier in national award winning films like ‘Page 3’ and ‘Traffic Signal’ sports a green top in the picture that graces the cover of the magazine. Konkana appears to be smiling a sweet smile as she looks at the bump, visibly excited to be on the verge of motherhood.

Konkana delivered a healthy baby boy just weeks after she modeled for the magazine. She and Ranvir together have named the baby Haroon which in Arabic means the protector. Konkana follows fellow actress Tara Sharma who set the precedent in Bollywood by flaunting her baby bump on the cover of another magazine months earlier.  Konkana now joins a list of elite celebrities around the world who have posed in the nude or semi nude to proudly showcase their baby bumps.

It was Demi Moore, the beautiful Hollywood actress and star of films like ‘Ghost’ and ‘Striptease’ who set the ball rolling with her posing for the covers of Vanity Fair two decades ago for the August 1991 issue when she was seven months into the pregnancy. The cover featuring a visibly pregnant actress in the nude with her hand across her chest, generated enormous controversy both for the actress as well as the magazine with hot debates between both the critics and the supporters alike regarding a breach of sacrosanct relationship between a mother to be and her unborn child. But everything said and done, Demi Moore had made a style statement!

However, it was another 8 years before another celebrity hit the cover of a magazine. Cindy Crawford, pregnant with her first child, posed in the nude showing off her baby bump when she was seven months pregnant.  Other celebrities too followed in the course of time. Actresses such as Monica Belluci, Mila Jovovich and singers like Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Mariah Carey and other celebrities like Lisa Marie Presley and model Claudia Schiffer jumped on the bandwagon to grace the covers of international magazines proudly showcasing their baby bumps.

What’s with these celebrities who don’t shy away from exposing their pregnant condition? While some might argue it’s not right for such open display of their baby bumps but for these proud mothers, it’s one way of staying in touch with the amazing feeling of being a universe and a baby in her womb as the epicenter of this universe, the very life it is giving birth too. There is no greater feeling for a woman then to feel the gentle kick of the baby inside her, the tender movements, the feeling that another life lives inside her. And what better way to retain that feeling forever then through the lenses of a camera?

Ever since the invention of the first camera, photography has played an important role in the lives of the human beings in relishing memories of the past. Photographs are the closest to the memories of our near and dear ones in all their likeness. And when your unborn child is nested in the cool comforts of your womb, there is no greater joy except when you give birth to that child and then your joy knows no boundary. These celebrity mothers want to retain those wonderful moments forever in their heart and photographs and videos go a long way in securing that. And it’s not the celebrities who are happily posing for the shutterbugs. Even private individuals are now shedding the inhibitions and posing for their private albums so that when their child grows up, he could see the pictures of his mother’s baby bumps and feel more connected to her, further strengthen the bond between the mother and her child. So go ahead and show off your baby bumps to the camera!

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The Legend Called Suchitra Sen

16 Jun

Two late legendary films makers – one dubious distinction of having being turned down by none other then the legendary drama queen Suchitra Sen. Noted director late Satyajit Ray had to give up on his dream project ‘Devi Chawdhurani’ with the Bengali cinema queen when she cited date problems while Bollywood’s original showman, the late Raj Kapoor was also politely given a ‘No’ when he wanted to sign Suchitra Sen for a film under the RK banner. Only, an actress par excellence could refuse to work with these two legendary film makers and such was the power of Suchitra Sen.

With a super cool debut opposite another legend of Bengali cinema Uttam Kumar in 1953 with the film ‘Sharey Chuattor’, the movie was a huge hit and established the pair as one of the most sought after pairs by the film makers as well as the audiences. Together, Suchitra Sen and Uttam Kumar ruled the Bengali cinema for more then 20 years.

In a still from the film 'Aandhi'

Suchitra Sen and Sanjeev Kumar in 'Aandhi'

Suchitra Sen forayed in Bollywood in 1955 opposite the then superstar Dilip Kumar in the classic story, ‘Devdas’. The film fetched Suchitra her first Filmfare Best Actress Award. Two more nominations followed for the films ‘Mamta’ (with Dharmendra) in 1967 and for ‘Aandhi’ with another late legend Sanjeev Kumar.  She however lost to Waheeda Rehman to her role in ‘Guide’ and to south siren Lakshmi to her role in ‘Julie’ in 1976. However, destiny had been kind to her earlier when her Bengali film, ‘Saat Pake Bandha’ won her the Best Actress Award at the Moscow International Film Festival in 1963. This was the first for an Indian actress and quite an honor for Suchitra. But recently, Suchitra Sen due to her reclusive nature turned down the illustrious Dadasaheb Phalke Award in 2005 which demanded that she personally attend the award’s function.

With her role in ‘Aandhi’ directed by Gulzar, Suchitra Sen was thrown in a bit of a controversy as her role was said to be loosely based on the life of the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. The film was banned for a short duration but luck favored and the movie got released and won nominations for both the lead actors, Suchitra Sen and Sanjeev Kumar. While Suchitra lost, Sanjeev Kumar won the Filmfare Best Actor Award.

Suchitra’s daughter Moon Moon Sen followed her mother’s footstep and became a part of the Bengali cinema as well as Bollywood. Her daughters Riya and Raima Sen too kept the Sen legacy alive by being a part of the film industry. However neither Moon Moon Sen nor her daughters have been able to match the legacy of Suchitra Sen. It will be tough for the Bengali cinema to produce another legend as big as Suchitra Sen who had dominated the Bengali cinema for nearly three decades. It will also be tough to produce another leading pair like Suchitra Sen – Uttam Kumar who were an institution in their own.

Today, Suchitra Sen is happy to be part of Ramkrishna Mission and away from the media and the public glare. However, her fans surely will wish that she continues to grace the silver screen time and again!

Jessica Vs. Jessica

16 Jun

No One Killed Jessica Review

More then a decade ago, Jessica Lall, a model from New Delhi decided to try her hand as a barmaid in a high class socialite party. It was a bad decision. That very night, she was shot dead by Manu Sharma, the 24 year old son of Venod Sharma, a wealthy politician from Haryana in front of hundreds of mute spectators. The reason – for refusing to serve him a drink after closing hours.

However, it didn’t turn out to be an open and shut case despite so many witnesses to the crime. The case frittered away in the court either due to witnesses either turning hostile or changing their version of the story completely from what they had recorded earlier with the police. Also the fact that the murder weapon was not found helped the accused Manu Sharma and a few other co-accused to get acquittal from the court in early 2006.

But this time, the media and the public at large were not going to sit back as a mute spectator to the acquittal. There was a gross injustice committed. A huge uproar across the country with the media taking up the cause and the public openly supporting it through sms and poll campaigns resulted in the retrial of the case. Even large scale candle light vigils at the India Gate in Delhi followed by Manu Sharma’s hometown Chandigarh helped the High Court to take cognizance of the massive injustice meted to the late Jessica Lall.

Few months later in December 2006, the High Court after a speedy retrial pronounced Manu Sharma guilty of the murder of Jessica Lall and was awarded life imprisonment. The retrial and the justice meted out proved one thing that the collective voice of the mass can bring about a change in the society and that no one was above the law.

Coming back to No One Killed Jessica, the film that released on 7 January, kudos to Rajkumar Gupta who after the success of his maiden film Aamir in 2008, gave us this thought provoking and hard hitting film that sticks to the real issue more or less with few fictionalized additions to keep the story moving. Rani Mukherji plays a foul-mouthed high profile journalist who doesn’t mince words when saying something. Vidya Balan plays the role of Sabrina, sister of the slain Jessica Lall aptly played by Myra.

The story starts from the year 1999 when India was literally at war at Kargil when another gun blazed in the New Delhi city. Jessica, a model and a barmaid is brutally killed by Manu Sharma for being refused a drink. Over the years, the case looses its fizzle on accounts of witnesses turning hostile under the lure of money and lack of enough evidence against the accused Manu Sharma. In walks Meera, the fiery journalist who years earlier had ignored the sensational murder since she found it an open and shut case. Teaming up with Jessica’s sister Sabrina, they endure problems in gathering proofs and witnesses and then raise a collective voice along with the media and the public at large to punish the accused.

Director Rajkumar Gupta surely gave us one of the most outstanding films of this year for sure and right at the beginning of 2011. He has handled the sensitive topic of the Jessica murder with gutso and without switching off the track only aided with few fictionalized characters but at the same time keeping the audience riveted to their seats. He has proved that Aamir was no fluke. He definitely is a director who’s here to stay for a long time. Another catchy aspect of the film is its loud music be it the background score or the songs with ‘Dilli Dilli’ already a hit. The dialogue is hard hitting and realistic just like the sincere and great performances by the lead star casts as well as the supporting casts. Overall everything about the film is great and definitely both Rani and Vidya are surely going to be nominated for awards if not take home some.

Overall, the movie is a much watch even if you’ve been followed the real story of the Jessica Lall murder in the news over the years. This movie will kind of bring back memories of what you’ve been reading in the newspapers or watched on television about the murder case all these years. It’s going to keep you on the edge of the seats for sure and evoke your sentiments of what a collective voice can do to raise awareness of what’s plaguing our society. It’s a victory for the late Jessica all the way!

 

Six Actresses Eternalized on Postal Stamps

16 Jun

The last Valentine’s Day has been definitely memorable for movie lovers and especially lovers of eternal classic beauties like Meena Kumari, Nutan and others. The Indian Postal Department paid tribute to six late legendary actresses of the Indian cinema by releasing a set of six postal stamps in their honour. India Post paid tribute to Meena Kumar, Nutan, Savitri Devi, Devika Rani, Leela Naidu and Kanan Devi in the capital city. Minister of State for Communication and Information Technology, Gurudas Kamat released the set of six stamps last Monday at the world philatelic exhibition in New Delhi.

Though these six actresses were part of the golden classical era, they are still remembered for their acting prowess as well as their contribution to the film industry still stands out. Devika Rani, one of the earliest actresses dominated the golden era of the early talkies that were made.  Other then for her acting, she also courted controversies often and yet stood tall. Her film production studio, Bombay Talkies often rubbed people the wrong way by making films that challenged caste system in the pre-independent India. One of the most notable of her films was Achhut Kanya in 1936 opposite the versatile actor Ashok Kumar, a film that potrayed a love story between a Brahmin boy and an untouchable girl. Devika Rani was also instrumental in enacting the longest kissing scene with the hero, in this case, her husband Himanshu Rai, in the film Karma in 1933, a very bold step at that time that caused a lot of controversies in an orthodox country in the pre-independence era.

Meena Kumari is synonym with Pakeeza, a film she made (and acted in) along with her husband Kamal Amrohi.  Pakeeza was her last film before she died in 1972. It went on to become a huge hit. Though her family was involved in the film industry, her parents did little to send her to school. Instead Meena Kumari was forced to join the Hindi film industry at a tender age of seven.  Few would have predicted then that Baby Meena would go on to become one of the finest actresses that Indian cinema has ever produced. Till her last film Pakeeza, Meena Kumari had acted in nearly 100 films, most of which today are regarded as priceless gems. She is also regarded as the first actress to win the Filmfare Best Actress Award for her film Baiju Bawra in 1953. Her most notable films are Mere Apne (1971), Phool Aur Patthar (1966), Dil Ek Mandir (1963), Sahib Biwi Aur Ghulam (1962), Dil Apna Preet Parai (1960) and Bandhan (1956). She’s won the Filmfare Best Actress Award four times.

Nutan Samarth, daughter of Shobhna Samarth, followed her mother’s footstep into acting. She was one of the highly successful actresses of the 50s and 60s era. Winner of 5 Filmfare Best Actress Award and one Filmfare Supporting Actress Award, a record in its own way, Nutan has acted in nearly 70 films till early 1990s. Her most notable films of the 80s are Subhash Ghai’s Karma and Meri Jung.  Her earlier films that are still regarded as timeless classics are films like Seema (1956), Sujata (1959), Bandini (1963), Milan (1967) and Main Tulsi Teri Angan Ki (1978).  

Kanan Devi, one of the earliest actresses who sang her own songs on the silver screen is also recognized as one of the first superstar of the Bengali Cinema. Like Meena Kumari, Kanan Devi too started her acting career as a child artiste at the age of 10 and went on to do countless number of Bengali and Hindi films across her two decade career. Her last film as an actress was Chandrashekhar opposite Ashok Kumar in 1948. Thereafter, she directed her career on a different path, turning producer with Ananya in 1949. In 1976, the government of India conferred the Dadasaheb Phalke Award on Kanan Devi towards her contribution to Indian cinema. She breathed her last in 1992 in the very city of Calcutta where she ruled as a star for so long.

Leela Naidu was an epitome of grace and beauty. She was a part of Hindi and English cinema, a role which she juggled successfully. Though she didn’t act in that many films like the other actresses of her time, yet some of her films have left a clear imprint on the minds of the audience. Her beauty was so powerful that even the international Vogue magazine rated her as one of the world’s ten most beautiful women in 1954 soon after Leela Naidu won the Femina Miss India crown. Her first feature film was Anuradha opposite refined actor Balraj Sahni in 1960. The film went on to win the National Award for the Best Film and brought critical acclaim for Leela Naidu. Her first English feature film The Householder was directed by James Ivory of the Merchant Ivory team. Her last film was Electric Moon. It’s said that she refused Raj Kapoor’s films four times!

Savithri Devi was another of those classical beautifies that graced the southern film industry as well as Hindi film industry and did a record number of films in Hindi, Tamil, Telugu and Kannada languages. She has acted in more then 300 films and as a child, used to perform classical dance on stage. Her first film came at the age of 13 and later in her career, she opted to direct films. She won a National Award for Best Actress for her portrayal in the film Chivaraku Migiledi in 1960.

Though a little belated, the postal department rightly paid tribute to these timeless classics by releasing the stamps featuring them.  These actresses join a list of other cinema dignitaries like Madhubala, Nargis, Guru Dutt, Raj Kapoor, K.L. Saigal, Mukesh, Kishore Kumar, Mohammad Rafi, Hemant Kumar, Begum Akhtar, Dadasaheb Phalke, Satyajit Ray and Bimal Roy who have stamps issued in their names. These stars have been truly immortalized for ever.

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16 Jun

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