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Aamir Khan plays DJ in “Rang De Basanti.”
“Rang De Basanti”: Starring Aamir Khan, Waheeda Rehman, Om Puri, Kirron Kher, Atul Kulkarni, Soha Ali Khan, Madhavan; directed by Rakeysh Mehra; music by A.R. Rehman.

If you thought Aamir Khan was featuring in another period drama, guess again. “Rang De Basanti” is a film about contemporary youth set in modern India. After reading the diary of her grandfather, who served in the British police in India during the freedom struggle, an English filmmaker named Sue arrives in India to make a film about Indian revolutionaries. She recruits students from Delhi University to act in her docu-drama. The group includes DJ, played by Aamir Khan, who chooses to stay in the college scene even though he graduated five years earlier. Kunal Kapur plays Aslam, a philosopher and guide to his friends. Karan is the son of a wealthy industrialist; Laxman is a fundamentalist of the bunch; Soha Ali Khan plays Sonia, the vivacious tomboy engaged to the dashing air pilot Ajay. The film shows 1930s India side by side with today’s India and reveals the change in attitude that overcomes the group as they see a country they haven’t acknowledged before. The makers say “Rang De Basanti” is a film about the awakening of a generation. It features a catchy soundtrack by A.R. Rehman.

“Shikhar”: Starring Ajay Devgun, Jawed Sheikh, Shahid Kapoor, Bipasha Basu, Amrita Rao; directed by John Mathew Matthan; music by Viju Shah.

Shahid Kapoor and Ajay Devgun star in “Shikhar.”
How far can greed take a man? Can nature ever win the battle with the bulldozer? Director Mathew Matthan explores the theme of man versus nature in his follow-up to the 1999 hit “Sarfarosh.” Ajay Devgun plays Gaurav Gupta (GG), a self-made man, who dreams big and lives life to the fullest. He uses money to realize his ambitions. Jawed Sheikh plays Guruji of Rishivan Ashram, who believes wealth must be used for the good of society. Caught between the two is Guruji’s son, Jaidev, played by Shahid Kapoor. Simple by nature, Jai respects his father’s philosophy but falls prey to GG’s trap and his dreams change. Bipasha Basu plays glamorous Natasha, she loves GG and is willing to do whatever he says. GG uses her to lure Jai into his world. Amrita Rao plays Jai’s childhood friend Madhavi, who tries to warn him but he refuses to listen. She must watch helplessly as Jai gets tangled in GG and Natasha’s deadly web.

Not To Be Missed: Khaas Baat picks the 12 best movies of 2005.
By Shephali J. Rele

Each of these films presented something special to the audience, whether it was sheer entertainment, unique storytelling, inspiring performances or a combination of these qualities along with memorable music. (listed alphabetically)


“Bunty aur Babli”


“Hazaaron Kwaishein Aisi”


“Morning Raga”

“My Brother Nikhil”

“My Wife’s Murder”

“Page 3”




Story provided by Tampa International Film Festival

A major retrospective of the Indian master filmmaker Buddhadeb Dasgupta will be presented at the 2006 Tampa International Film Festival (TIFF), along with his most recent feature “Kaalpurush” (Memories in the Mist). The fourth annual event will be held Feb. 3-11 at Sunrise Cinemas and the Museum of Science & Industry (MOSI) in Tampa.

The well-known Bengali director, writer and producer will attend the festival, introduce his films and serve as a guest speaker at a film salon at the Education Channel on Feb. 7. Also to be screened are the filmmaker’s other film such as “Chased by Dreams,” “A Tale of a Naughty Girl” and “The Wrestlers.”

For the first time in its four years, the Festival is partnering with the Education Channel, which is programming a sidebar of American independent cinema. TIFF also is screening a wide array of current and interesting international cinema. In addition, the festival is bringing Canadian director Bernard Emond to Tampa to introduce his film “La Neuvaine” (The Novena).

“I believe the films that we have this year represent a truly exciting and unique opportunity to experience the rich cultural heritage of world cinema,” said Dr. Rob Tregenza, founder and director of the festival. “In our fourth year, we have gained increased international attention and this has greatly added to our ability to program the best cinema for a new world.”

The festival, which has run in April in years past, takes its new February time slot in response to a survey of the Tampa Bay area film-going community, who indicated that February would be an ideal festival time.

Major sponsors of the 2006 Tampa International Film Festival include the University of Tampa, Sykes School of Business, MOSI and the Education Channel. Tickets are $8 for adults, $7 for students and $5 for seniors. A Gold Pass, which provides entrance to all screenings and events, is available for $200.

For more information or to view the list of films, visit or call the TIFF office at (813) 253-3333, Ext. 3425.

Albert Brooks, center, is director and writer of “Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World.”

Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World? Well, you don’t have to go too far to find it. A hilarious movie by that name is coming Jan. 20 to a theater near you. Albert Brooks, who has written and directed the film, gets summoned by politician/actor Fred Dalton Thompson to come to Washington D.C. to help in a new diplomatic effort. His job? Spend a month in India and Pakistan, write a 500-page report, and tell the U.S. government what makes the Muslims laugh. While Brooks isn’t sure he’s the man for the job, the possibility of a Medal of Freedom proves irresistible and he accepts.

With the aid of two government agents, Stuart (John Carrol Lynch), Mark (Jon Tenney), and a lovely assistant, Maya (Sheetal Sheth), Brooks starts the interviewing process, as soon as he lands in India, asking everyone, “What makes you laugh?” Since people aren’t as forthcoming as he would like, and when he discovers there are no comedy clubs in India or Pakistan that would help him observe, he decides to put on The Big Show, the first comedy concert in New Delhi. He figures that by what the audience laughs at, he’ll get what he needs for his important government assignment. He figured wrong. Undaunted, Brooks continues his quest, doing everything from a clandestine meeting with a group of Pakistani comedians, to a business meeting with Al Jezeera, all in the hopes of achieving his goal.

The comedy also stars Sheetal Sheth, John Carroll Lynch and Jon Tenney.


Hats off to Sudhir Phadke, India’s famous singer and music director, for producing “Veer Savarkar.” Based on the life of one of India’s early revolutionaries, the epic biographical film had its first public screening in Orlando on Dec. 12. This mega movie shines the spotlight on Savarkar’s life and dedication to gaining freedom from British colonial rule over India.

The film was financed through public donations throughout India and abroad, and the financing efforts started in 1985. The overall story line is authentic and based on the actual writings of Savarkar and historians. No detail was left unchecked, even the cast of the film is true to the characters they play. Shailendra Guar who plays the role of Sarvarkar lived in the same jail cell to get the real feel for the hardships.

Savarkar, for many years, was relegated to the sidelines of Indian history but his dedication and personal sacrifices of his entire family are an important part of the freedom movement. He is often described as a great orator, a prolific writer, poet and a revolutionary who devoted his entire life to the cause of the Indian independence movement. He faced great odds and inspite of the hardships, he held firmly to his beliefs. Being an intense and focused person, he also was a magnet for controversy.

Many people who came to watch had a vague idea about Sarvarkar, one of the audience members, Dr. Sundarajan was “amazed at his individual acts of bravery and single-minded focus on gaining freedom for India.” His daughter Geetha Sundarajan, who grew up in the United States, saw similarities in Savarkar’s revolutionary tactics with those of the American freedom fighters in 1777 War of Independence from the British. Dr. Narsingh Deo added that while Sarvarkar’s acts of bravery are to be commended, his revolutionary tactics may not have worked to unite the country.

Dr. Pratap Kale sponsored the film’s screening in Orlando with the help of the local Marathi and general Indian community. It was released in India three years ago, and has been shown in the New York area, the West Coast and Tampa. Kale said that fundraising efforts are under way to distribute this movie by making DVD copies for sale. In any case, this is a movie that should be seen by all those who are interested in Indian history.


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