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“My Wife’s Murder”: Starring Anil Kapoor, Suchitra Krishnamurthy, Boman Irani, Nandana Sen; directed by Jijy Philip.

Anil Kapoor plays Ravi Patwardhan, a simple middle-class man trying to earn a living for his family. Ravi’s job and his editing studio are a source of happiness where he works on tight deadlines with his faithful assistant Reena, played by Nandana Sen. Suchitra Krishnamurthy is Sheila Patwardhan, Ravi’s possessive, controlling wife, who persistently mistrusts him. Her pesky nagging drives the mild-mannered man to absolute fury. One day, he gets pushed a bit too far. And now she’s dead. Boman Irani plays the police inspector with the suspect in his sights. This film marks the debut for director Jijy Philips who previously assisted Ram Gopal Varma on “Bhoot.” The script for the thriller was written by Varma himself. Co-producer Anil Kapoor considers this one of his best films.

“Mangal Pandey – The Rising”: Starring Aamir Khan, Rani Mukerji, Amisha Patel, Toby Stephens; directed by Ketan Mehta; music by A.R. Rahman.

Aamir Khan as Mangal Pandey
A historical epic set against the 1857 Indian Mutiny, the much-anticipated “Mangal Pandey” marks the return of Aamir Khan to the silver screen after a four-year absence. Khan plays the legendary martyr Mangal Pandey, one of the Indian sepoys in the British infantry. After 100 years of the British rule, the people of India are growing tired of their unfair treatment. Meanwhile, brave sepoy Mangal Pandey rescues his commanding officer William Gordon, played by Toby Stephens, during a battle. A strong friendship and loyalty grows between the two men, which is later confronted by circumstances. Controversial new gun cartridges are introduced among the troops. These cartridges had a casing made of animal fat that had to be bit through before use. This was an affront to the soldiers’ religion and feelings. The sepoys were first told no animal fat was present. Pandey discovers the bitter truth. This event sparks a resentment that spreads across India. Mutiny breaks out among the sepoys. That’s how Pandey becomes India’s first revolutionary freedom fighter. He was hanged by the British in 1857 for revolting against them. “Mangal Pandey” is based on historical events and tells a tale of friends, enemies, betrayal and the awakening of a man and a nation.

NOW ON DVD/VIDEO If you didn’t get a chance to see this film in theaters, now’s your chance to watch it at home.

“Bunty Aur Bubli” stars Abhishek Bachchan, Rani Mukerji, Amitabh Bachchan. It is directed by Shaad Ali with music by Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy. After a successful debut with “Saathiya,” director Shaad Ali’s second venture features Abhishek Bachchan and Rani Mukerji as the title characters in this stylish adventure story. Bunty and Bubli are runaways who use many disguises during their cons while on the run in the back waters of Uttar Pradesh. Amitabh Bachchan plays the cop trying to track down the elusive culprits. The film features Aishwarya Rai in the hit song (“Kajra re” sung by Alisha Chinai) dancing with Amitabh and Abhishek.

Whether you are a Bachchan senior, junior or Rani fan, this film is a delight to watch. With likable characters, snappy dialogues and rocking music, this adventure caper offers sheer entertainment value for the entire family. Rani’s comic timing and snazzy outfits are a treat. Abhishek’s performances keep improving with every film. After a serious turn in “Yuva,” he proves his mettle in comedy as Bunty. It’s always nice to see Amitabh in a character-driven role. Even if you are not an avid Hindi film viewer, be sure to check out “Bunty Aur Bubli.” You will surely enjoy this exciting comedy and don’t forward any of the songs!


The Kronos Quartet poses with Asha Bhosle, second from left.

Kronos Quartet deserves a pat on the back. Make that two. After all, how many string quartets would dedicate an album in honor of one of Bollywood's favorite musical directors R.D. Burman?

The soon-to-be-released CD, "You’ve Stolen My Heart: Songs from R D Burman’s Bollywood" is produced by the California-based group, which is made up of David Harrington, John Sherba (violins), Hank Dutt (viola) and Jennifer Culp (cello).

It’s the first time that Kronos Quartet, founded by Harrington about 32 years ago, has produced an album. It also is a first collaboration for the group with a Bollywood personality - Asha Bhosle. Harrington explains in detail how the CD came about: “I’ve known R D Burman’s music for 15 years,” he says.

“My collection of Indian film soundtrack is probably the largest of any kind that I have. As I listened to the collection, I began to realize that quite a few were either composed or sung by Burman. And the female singer was Asha Bhosle.”

The Kronos Quartet
More than a decade ago, a friend handed Harrington "Aaj Ki Raat" - Asha Bhosle’s album. In 1999, the Quartet recorded a solo version of Aaj Ki Raat with tabla maestro Zakir Hussain. It didn’t take long for Bhosle to hear about Kronos’ work.

“Since 2000, I began to go back to Burman’s music and finally it seemed like the right time to make an album,” says Harrington. Soon, he got in touch with Bhosle and within a few months, recording for the album was completed.

“I wanted to use original recordings like in Western classical music,” he says. “In the spirit of Burman’s musical polyglotism, Wu Man’s pipa was substituted for the santoor and sarod. And because rhythmicality is an essential ingredient in Burman’s music, we brought in Zakir Hussain.” v Kronos itself augmented its acoustic sound with keyboards, percussion etc.

Of the 12 tracks on the album, Bhosle has sung eight, including the ever-popular Dum Maro dum (Hare Rama Hare Krishna), Chura Liya hai, (Yaadon Ki Baraat), Piya Tu ab to aaja, (Caravan), Mera Kuchh Saaman, (Ijaazat), and two Bengali songs.

“Asha Bhosle is not just a great singer but also a great musician. Her voice is an instrument in itself,” says Harrington. Each member of Kronos also has contributed a solo with the cello, violin and viola

"You’ve Stolen My Heart: Songs from R D Burman’s Bollywood," will be released this month in the U.S. Harrington hopes that it will be released in India some day also.

“Burman was an amazing creative composer and I feel inspired, better and refreshed after wrapping up the album,” says Harrington.

“I hope an audience is out there that will become acquainted with the genius of R D Burman and the unbelievable mastery of Asha Bhosle.”

By Nitish S. Rele

Three Indian movies recently made it to Time magazine’s list of 100 all-time favourite films.

Satyajit Ray’s "The Apu Trilogy" (Pather Panchali, Apur Sansar, Aparajito), Mani Ratnam’s "Nayakan" and Guru Dutt’s "Pyaasa" are part of the unranked but alphabetically listed names compiled by the magazine’s critics, Richard Schickel and Richard Corliss. The two critics each picked 100 films, out of which 40-50 titles made both the lists.

Schickel had this to say about "The Apu Trilogy: “… Ray’s filmmaking is direct in manner, simple in its means and profound in its impact. It is, as another great master, Akira Kurosawa, said, ‘The kind of cinema that flows with the serenity and nobility of a big river’ – the river of life as it is ordinarily lived.”

Ratnam gets commended by Corliss in the following words: “He has no such difficulty blending melodrama and music, violence and comedy, realism and delirium, into a two-and-a-half-hour demonstration that, when a gangster’s miseries are mounting, the most natural solution is to go singin’ in the rain.”

And on the classic "Pyaasa," Corliss remarks: “The writer-producer-director-star paints a glamorous portrait of an artist’s isolation through dappled imagery and the sensitive picturising of S D Burman’s famous songs. And Rehman, in her screen debut, is sultry, radiant — a woman to bring out the poet in any man, on screen or in the audience.”

Among the other films making the list were "ET," "The Godfather — Part I and II", "Kandahar," "Schindler’s List," "Psycho" and "On The Waterfront."

Missing on the list was the classic "Gone with the Wind."

Apparently, Schickel and Corliss “don’t give a damn” for the film.

The Warrior

“The Warrior,” winner of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) Award for Best British Film, opens in New York City and Los Angeles on July 15 and additional cities later. Hopefully, this tale of a local enforcer for a rich Indian warlord who renounces his life of violence and then becomes prey of his murderous ex-colleagues will make it into Florida theaters soon.

Directed by Asif Kapadia, “The Warrior” follows the hero’s journey from the deserts of Rajasthan through the snow-capped peaks of the Himalayas. It features a mix of samurai-style movie action, stirring performances, sumptuous landscape photography and a mystical tale of personal redemption. Kapadia, who makes his directorial debut with the film, has crafted an exotic, yet universal, story about the human spirit.

Irfan Khan stars as Lafcadia, a skilled and deadly Rajput warrior, who works at the behest of a brutal local warlord (Anupam Shyam) who regularly sends Lafacadia to carry out such savage punishments as beheadings and pillaging raids of entire villages. Then one day, Lafcadia decides to go straight. In the middle of a massacre, a mystical encounter with a young girl brings about a moment of transformation in which the warrior drops his sword and vows never to kill again. Gathering his only son Katiba (Puru Chhibber), Lafcadia hits the road and heads for his native mountain village.

But the warlord who controls Lafcadia will not let his warrior go. The warlord soon dispatches a second warrior, the ruthless Biswas (Aino Annuddin), to hunt down Lafcadia and bring back his head. “I didn¹t want to make a small film. I wanted to push myself as a filmmaker and make something unique to me,” says Kapadia of Indian descent but now living in England. “The project was a huge leap into the unknown but I loved the story and was desperate to see it come to life. I was drawn to shooting something on a large scale, with distant, strange landscapes, horses, deserts and burning villages. And I had fallen in love with the amazing light of India, the people, the faces, the choices of untouched landscapes.”

Presented by Award Academy winner Anthony Minghella (“The English Patient,” “Cold Mountain²) and Miramar Films, the 88-minute movie is in Hindi with English subtitles. It is produced by Bertrand Faivre.

Information for this story was provided by Miramar Films.


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