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        INDIAN FILM REVIEWS, 2010  -- COMPOSITE with RAAKH (1989)           ADDED

by Alex deleon -- (reviewed below)
 The much awaited new Indian film "My Name Is Khan" will be premiered at the 60th annual Berlin International Film Festival on Febuary 12, out of competition but very much in the limelight otherwise.  MNIK is easily the most anticpated Hindi film of the year as it toplines the most popular Bombay star of all, Shah Rukh Khan (SRK), 44, who has reigned as "The King of Bollywood" for some fifteen years,  reunited on screen for the first time in eight years with extremely popular actress Kajol, 35, with whom he co-starred in five box office smashes between 1992 and 2001, during which time SRK and Kajol were the hottest and most beloved screen couple in town.  After that, at the peak of her career Kajol married actor Ajay Devgan and went into semi-retirement to have a child. Even while limiting her screen work to cameos and guest appearances while raising her little daughter Kajol lost none of her star lustre or fan appeal, and was still listed as number 4 of 'Top Bollywood Actresses' as recently as 2006.
Her screen reunion with Sharukh after an eight year hiatus under the direction of slick romance spectacles specialist Karan Johar, who directed their last two megahits together, "Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham ..." (Happiness & Tears, 2001) and "Kuch Kuch Hota Hai" (Something's happening here, 1998), is in itself suffficient reason for the high anticipation surrounding this title, but not the only reason.  The subject matter, which deals in part with the treatmentof Moslems in America post 9/11, is another point of interest because of its current topicality (Shahrukh is himself a Moslem and plays a Moslem in the film, whereas he normally tends to portray Hindu characters), and the fact that most of the film was shot on various locations in the States, partly on the UCLA campus in Los Angeles, is also unusual for a Bollywood film and is additional fodder to generate crossover energy. 
Still another point of interest, for SRK fans, is the image change that this supremely bankable cutesy lover-boy-with gumption-star undergoes here in the role of Rizwan Khan, a Muslim  from Bombay, who suffers from Asperger syndrome (a form of high-functioning autism complicating socialization). Rizwan marries a single Hindu mother, Mandira, (Kajol) in San Francisco. After 9/11, Rizwan is detained at the L.A. airport where his disability is mistaken for "suspicious" behavior. Following his arrest, he meets Radha, a therapist who helps him deal with the situation and with his affliction. Rizwan then begins a cross country journey to meet President Obama in order to clear his name.   
Reports by viewers who have already seen the film at special advance screenings are highly positive, particularly in praise S. R. Khan's acting in an offbeat role comaprable to Dustin Hoffman's in "Rain Man", and of Kajol's unabated charm and undiluted beauty after a long layoff. My Name Is Khan is set to be released in theatres in India and over 40 countries including the US, Canada, Britain, Australia, New Zealand and the Middle East on February 12,. However, the absolute world's Premiere will be held in Dhubai two days earlier.  There can be little doubt that MNIK is all set to become another big triumph and megahit for Kajol and SRK in India, and elsewhere in the Orient, but the big question is -- will the unveiling of this film at the Berlin festival serve to finally remove the blinders from the eyes of westerners with respect to popular Indian cinema, and bring to recognition one of the most charismatic movie actors in the world today, Shah Rukh Khan. Although Shah Rukh probably has more devoted fans world wide than any two or three leading Hollywood actors combined, he is still all but unknown in the west, and far from a reconizable face.  The proof of that pudding, a highly publicized incident last fall in which Mr. Khan was detained for interrogation for several hours (as in this film!) at Newark Airport under suspicion -- because of his obviously Muslim name and shock of unruly black hair -- of being a terrorist. Footnote: in a number of Bollywood films SRK has played either a vicitim of terrorists or a military man combatting terrorism. 
Alex, Berlin, Feb. 4, 2010 

"My name is Khan, but I am not a terrorist" 
Following Polanski's "Ghostwriter" and Scorcese's "Shutter Island, the third biggie of the first three days was the Bollywood entry "My Name is Khanstarring Shah Rukh Khan, arguably the most popular actor in the world today (though not necessarily in the West). In the film Shahrukh (SRK) plays a Moslem from India who suffers from a form of Autism, (Aspergers syndrome) similar to the role undertaken by Dustin Hoffman in "Rain Man" some years back. In the mood of anti-Muslim hysteria following 9/11 the protagonist Rizwan Khan, who has married a Hindu single mother (Kajol) in San Francisco, is taken for a terrorist on two different occasions because of his erratic syndrome induced behavior. Repeating his mantra "My name is Khan, but I am not a terrorist" in a salad bowl full of situations where unreasonable anti-Islamic reactions run rampant, Khan eventually undertakes a cross country trek to Washington to see president Obama in person and clear his good Moslem name. 

The political statements are laid on with a heavy hand by extremely successful Bollywood masala-romance directorKaran Johar, and will undoubtedly be taken with a grain of salt by American audiences, although Indian and Middle-eastern auds will surely eat all this up with unbridled relish. In any case, the love story between the stricken Shahrukh and his frequent co-star Kajol is touchingly portrayed. A dramatic climax is reached halfway through when Kajol's teenage son is killed on a soccer field by a mob of enraged anti-muslim Americans and the Hindu wife (Kajol) holds her Moslem husband responsible for the loss of her non-moslem son. It is at this point that Rizwan sets out on his quest to meet the president and win back her love.Intermission; Part II...

Johar could use a lesson in US geography because Georgia is not on the way from SF to DC, but, nevertheless Rizwan finds himself befriended by a black American family in rural Georgia, which is then struck by a hurricane of Katrina proportions. Rizwan heroically saves many people from drowning and becomes something of a national figure on TV. When President Obama finally receives him it is both a touching and a comic moment -- oops --I was weeping out of one side of my face and chuckling out the other --at the naive, nearly Saturday-Nite-Live, staging of this climactic finale. An eye-popper for L.A. locals was the scene where Khan momentarily encounters President George Bush on his visit to California, filmed, of all places, in front of landmark Royce Hall on the UCLA campus. 

At the press conference following the press screening, most of the talking was done by a supremely
 confident Shahrukh Khan dressed in a neat black suit and hair more combed back than usual, as director Johar and co-star Kajol looked on injecting an occasional comment. SRK was extremely articulate in perfect English and basically had the assemblage in the palm of his hand, despite the fact that the overall press reaction to the film was decidedly negative. He tried to portray the movie as more of a touching love story and a personal battle against a physical handicap than a political statement in defense of the Moslem image, while the press backed off politely, not pressing too hard on perceived defects but obviously curious to see what a relatively unknown Asian mega-star is like in person.  I suppose you could day that Shahrukh Khan is quite cool by any standards  and doesn't need the adulation of the West to bolster his ego.  He gets enough adulation everywhere else, and rightfully so. I don't think that even the most jaded Western film critic would question his acting chops or natural charisma whether they liked the film itself or not. -- 
Alex Deleon, Berlin

TODAY, but his American topography is not too hot ...

Skip to Los Angeles

Tibetan doc "Sun behind the clouds" 

 soars at LA Indian Fest  (April 20-26, 2010) 

By Alex Deleon-Sinha 

(L.A. Indian Film Festival, April 20 - 26, 2010)

The eighth annual edition of the Indian film Festival of Los Angeles opened a six day run here in the heart of Hollywood on Tuesday April 20 with a Gala screening of Dilip Mehta's "Cooking With Stella" and will terminate on Sunday with the Indo-Australian production "The Waiting City". The festival is set to screen 35 films from five different countries (INDIA, TIBET, NEPAL, CANADA and AUSTRALIA) including 4 world premiers and 7 US premiers. The venue for screenings is the massive state-of-the-art Arclight cinemacomplex at the corner of Sunset and Vine, in the very heart, literally, of historic Hollywood, where the sidewalks all around are covered with large five-pointed stars bearing the names of the illustrious screen, radio, and TV luminaries of yesteryear -- the so-called "sidewalks of the stars".

It's a busy slightly hidden foyer as you come in from Sunset Boulevard, with the entrance to the side of the giant golf ball dome of the Cinerama Theater out front. With 14 cinemas upstairs and a bookstore plus various other kinds of stands and eateries downstairs and crowds milling around the feeling is more like wandering into a general fairgrounds than a dedicated cineplex movie emporium. Two of the main theaters upstairs have been taken over for the Indian films, but if it weren't for the colorful presence of sari draped Indian women †he Indian films might get lost in the Hollywood first-run shuffle between venues. Follow the saris and you'll get to the right room. 

The ethnographic breakdown of the turnout for the Indian films seems to be at least three quarters Indian (from all parts of India and all parts of the L.A. basin and beyond) with a liberal sprinkling of people of other colors and shades, including some pale-faced Anglo-caucasoids, but still not enough to indicate any massive crossover of Indian films to the american mainstream viewership. Nevertheless, it is gratifying to see a solid clump of Indian films of all kinds, not just Bollywood glitter, turning up in the middle of the mainstream film community, not just in outlying urban fringes where Indian business enclaves have been established and the viewership would be, for all intents and purposes, 100% Indian. A noticeable presence is that of young born-in-America Indians, teenagers and early twenties, whose mother tongue is obviously straight American English, and whose knowledge of the Indian languages of their "Nisei" parents may range from sketchy to near zero -- however the films serve the purpose of a binding-glue to their roots and Indian ancestry. All well and good to be sure.

As for the films so far: 'Cooking With Stella' (lightweight fair from a noble name, Deepa Mehta), 'Harishchandrach Factory' (a beautiful fascinating historical meta-film about the Indian equivalent of DW Griffith -- all in Marathi!); 'Roadmovie' -- A so'what'else'is'new made-for-festivals type Cinema Paradiso clone, ho-humming its way thru the desert until it sneaks up on you,  and before you realize it's grabbed you by the -- a real discovery!... (Starring low key charmer Abhay Deol, (34) who is a peripheral member of the extensive Bollywood Deol clan, nephew of onetime superstar Dharmendra and cousin of Sunny and Esha Deol);  'Kaminey', an off-beat semi-noirish very brutal Bollywood underworld opus about twin brothers with speech impediments (featuring a flashy double role for muscular pretty boy Shahid Kapoor) and gangsters who constantly beat the shit out of both Shahids  that has been making the festival rounds for no really good reason, and; "The Sun Behind the Clouds" -- A truly remarkable, tellingly timely, mesmerising, many-faceted jewel of a documentary centering on the Dalai Lama and the continuing Tibetan struggle for Independence from the no-nonsense expansionist Chinese.

"The Sun Behind the Clouds": Tibet's Struggle for Freedom" was made by Indian filmmakers Tenzing Sonam and Ritu Sarin to commemorate the half century since the Dalai Lama's enforced flight from Tibet in 1960 to Dharamsala, India, where he set up a Tibetan government in exile. Ever since, His Holiness has traveled all over the world to promote the cause of Tibetan independence and peace in general, being treated everywhere with the kind of reverence usually reserved for living saints like Mahatma Ghandi in his lifetime --revered by everyone except the Chinese, who regard him as an upstart, troublemaker, and enemy of the (Chinese) People.  

The current film, covers a long freedom march in 2009 made by the Tibetans of Dharamsala to Lhasa (they never got there), features a number of direct interviews with the Dalai Lama in various world cities, Tibetan protests against the 2008 Beijing Olympics and Chinese counter-protesters, and numerous interviews with Tibetan residents of China proper who were imprisoned for daring to speak out against the Chinese occupation of Tibet and the suppression of Tibetan culture. 

With a total population of around six million as opposed to the billion plus of the Chinese, most Tibetans realize that full independence for Tibet is not a very realistic goal and even the DL himself has pulled back to a milder position, which he calls a Middle Road, where at least religious autonomy would be granted the Tibetans, and the Dalai Lama would be permitted to return as their religious leader.  This Middle of the Road position has caused a split among Tibetans themselves -- those who crave full independence at any cost, and those willing to follow the DL in accepting Chinese dominion with certain concessions.  Meanwhile the Chinese have flooded Tibet with "Han" settlers to the point where the Tibetans have become a numerical minority in their own country, much as the Gringos flooded the Mexican state of 'Tejas' at one time to overwhelm the locals and turn it into the solid American American state of Texas. Even the Dalai Lama's currently more moderate stance is unacceptable to the Chinese as they consider him to be a walking excuse for a revolution if they ever let him back in. 

Rare, undoubtedly smuggled footage, shows violent protests against the Chinese occupiers in the capital, Lhasa, and their brutal suppression by PRC troops.  While this film is clearly a call for sympathy for the cause of Tibetan freedom, through stock footage easily available from Chinese TV we also see very articulate Chinese political commentators clearly stating the Chinese position on their need to retain Tibet as an integral part of China. All in all this 79 minute film is so compactly  organized that it seems to be twice that long, offering a full course on "Imperialist China, 101, 2010" as well as a solid history of Tibet since the Chinese intrusion of 1950.  Older viewers may hear faint echoes of a time when a guy named Adolph convinced the West that he needed a small country called Czechoslovakia to protect the German residents living there.  The Tenzing-Sarin duo made a feature film in 2005 entitled "Dreaming Lhasa" which attracted some festival attention, but "The Sun Behind the Clouds" (A reference to the hope that one day Freedom will again come to Tibet) is a far stronger piece of work that soars high in the skies of documentary film making here in the first decade of the XXIst century.  It needs to bewidely seen, not only for its deft but chillingly full unveiling of Chinese totalitarianism (which America continues to mollie-coddle), but also as a brilliant piece of documentary film expertise. From here "Sun behind the clouds" goes to the Washington DC film festival and looks like it is going to have long festival legs in the months to come


LA Indian Fest Reviews; 

 Stella the Cook and Phalke the Pioneer

  by Alex Deleon-Sinha, Hollywood

"Cooking With Stella", Canada/2009/103 min. Director Dilip Mehta: 

The opening film of the festival was a reprise of the Toronto opener back in September, where 'Cooking Wiith Stella' was premiered and selected for that prestige slot because of a direct Canadian story line connection -- plus the fact that the director, Dilip Mehta, is a brother of eminent Canadian based Indian filmmaker Deepa Mehta.  "Stella" of the title (veteran Assamese-indian actress Seema Biswas, of "Bandit Queen" fame) is the live-in Indian cook at the Canadian legation in Delhi when a new yuppie generation diplomatic couple arrive with child in tow -- the twist; she (Lisa Ray) is the diplomat, and hubbie (Don McKellar) is a stay at home papa and a passionate cooking hobbyist (he must have been a big Martha Stewart fan back home in Ottowa).  The second twist is that Stella, in her position of trust, is ripping the embassy off right and left viewing herself as a "Robin Hood" in drag, because she is robbing the rich (Canada) to give to the poor (Herself). Enter character number four, a very pretty young Sari-clad Indian lady (Shriya), the new nanny, who is honest and self righteous to the core, and threatens to expose Biswa's questionable backdoor activities, but is eventually lured into collusion with her program for closing the gap between rich and poor.


 SEEMA BISWAS as "The Bandit Queen" (1994) and as "Stella", 2010

Described in the catalogue as a "quirky warm hearted comedy" it is indeed both quirky and warm-hearted, and splendidly lensed with maple leaf flags flying, but great cinema this is not. The characters are just too shallow, especially the husband (McKellar) who is totally blah, and the style of the film is pure TV sit-com with one-dimensional personalities, except for Biswas who blows everyone else away, although there ain't much to blow on. Biswas had a major role in Deepa Mehta's 2005 magnum opus "Water", which also featured Canadian actress Lisa Ray, but here Lisa is less than memorable in a background wallpaper part. This was a feature debut for Dilip and sister Deepa co-wrote the screenplay, but the bottom line is, alas; "A listless comedy that only a Canadian mother could love". 

News item of related interest: Lisa Ray, 38, is recovering from a rare form of cancer and has settled in India. 

Harishchandrachi Factory,  Marathi हरिश्चंद्रराजा  /2009/96 min. Director, P. Mokashi 

"Harishchandrachi Factory" (this year's Indian entry in the Oscar's foreign language category)  is the debut film of Mumbai-based theatre actor-director Paresh Mohashi. It tells the story behind the the making of India's very first full length feature film, "Raja Harishchandra", in 1913 by the pioneer of Indian cinema, Dada Saheb Phalke.  Phalke occupies a position in Indian film history very much akin to that of D.W. Griffith, the legendary pioneer of the Hollywood industry. Griffith's great Civil War epic "The Birth of a Nation" actually came out two years later in 1915, and, despite it's very politically incorrect racism (by today's standards) is still regarded as one of the major landmarks of American film history. By the same token Phalke's film is the first great landmark of Indian film history.  However, the big difference between these two towering early film figures on opposite sides of the globe is that Griffith died in abject poverty, a forgotten figure of the silent era, whereas Phalke was revered in his own lifetime, had a prolific career lasting two decades, and is remembered today via the highest personal award for lifetime achievement the Indian film industry has to offer -- the highly coveted and not lightly bestowed Dada Saheb Phalke Prize.  


The original film film was based on the legend of the righteous King Harishchandra, recounted in the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, ran about 40 minutes, and all female roles were played by men, while Dadasaheb, a magician by trade, had to event all the technology as he went along.The title of the present film is based on the fact that, back when Phalke was making "King Harishchandra" working in films was a shunned occupation, practically a taboo, so Dada Saheb advised his artists to tell people they were working in a factory owned by a man who happened to be called "Harishchandra".  The film tuirned out twas a sensation and a grand success, quickly established Phalke as a producer, and paved the way for the Indian film industry. Dada Saheb's wife cooked food alone, without any help, for the whole cast and crew, of more than 500 people and aided in the production in every way possible, all of which is woven into Mokashi's handsome new film. True to history, the language of the film is Marathi, the indigenous hometown language of Bombay, not Hindi, the imported language of present day Bollywood. There is no attempt to artificially age the film or make it "look old" with sepia tones or other tacky devices, but at certain key points the camera is speeded up to give the jerky effect of old times cameras --just to remind viewers, a bit jocosely perhaps, that they are lucky to be seeing such an antique biopic through modern camera eyes. An endearing leit-motif of the film is the way in which the early moving pictures cranked by hand are seen transfixing first time viewers and holding them in thrall -- even scaring them out of their wits, as if they were witnessing a new form of black magic --and, what indeed are the movies, if not magic?

H. Factory may not be everybody's cup of tea, but for those with an appreciation of film history in a whimsical mode this picture can only be a colorful treat and an ode to joy.

Dadasaheb Phalke The Father of Indan Film (1870 - 1944)


Bollywood in Hollywood; Khan, Khan, and Khan, inc. 


Khan is an extremely popular Islamic family name in India where, for the past twenty years, three Khans --Shahrukh Khan, Salman Khan, and Amir Khan -- have ruled the leading-man roost in Bollywood, commanding sky-high rupee guarantees up-front and wielding enough power to dictate the terms of the films they sign up for.  Having one of these Khans in your film is close to an ironclad guarantee of box-office returns in the dog-eat-dog competitive world of Bombay filmdom, and the competition for the favors of these three gentlemen is feverish if not frenzied.  Up-and-coming actresses are ready to kill for the privilege of being romanced by one them on screen, and their private lives are followed with meticulous zeal in the "fanzines' (wildly popular film fan magazines) of India. In short, they are pedestalised alongside the other gods of the complex Indian pantheon. Two of the three Khans were seen on Arclight screens during the week. that was. (Sorry about that Salman...)


The L.A. Indian film festival normally avoids blockbusters from Bollywood in favor of more serious films from all corners of the sub-continent and abroad, but this years edition, perhaps in the interest of showing the full range of Indian cinema, and/or, to guarantee some full houses to cover the cost of staging the festival, did program three Bombay star vehicles, each with a certain agenda beyond mere box-office. The films in question: "My Name Is Khan" (starring Shahrukh, the "King of Bollywood" or SRK as he is known in the Indian press), "Three Idiots" (starring Amir Khan in the biggest hit ever to come out of Bollywood), and '"Kaminey", starring fast rising young muscular Shahid Kapur and hot leading lady Priyanka Chopra. In addition, an off-the wall Bollywood cult film from 1989, "Raakh" (Ashes) was shown in a restored print, commemorating not only the twentieth anniversary of the original release, but also a very early starring role for Amir Khan when he was a relatively unknown new actor. (it followed on the heels of QSQT which made him an overnight sensation at age 23)


By a propitious quirk of programming "Three Idiots", Amir's latest film, and "Raakh" one of his first, were shown on successive evenings thus affording festival regulars the unique opportunity of seeing the young Amir at 24 and the mature superstar twenty years later at age 44, back to back!  "Three Idiots" by hot director Raj Kumar Hirani has become the biggest boxoffice hit of all time in India and it's not hard to see why.  Throw two of Bollywood's most popular stars, Amir Khan and the lusciously beautiful Kareena Kapoor, together  in a feel-good love story with a disappearing act by the hero, "Rancho", and a trio of bungling idiots trying to track him down years later, wind it all up with a twisty ending in the magnificent scenery of the Ladach Himalayas, and how can you lose?  I personally found "Idiots", if not exactly made for idiots, pretty low-brow comedy with a shaggy-doggish story-line dragged out from here to eternity, however, as they say, "That's Entertainment" --and there's no point in arguing with success. While bored most of the way (except when Kareena was on screen!) I must say that the extended Zoobie-Doobie song and dance sequence in the middle of the picture featuring Amir and Kareena careening through a kaleidoscope of decor changes, was so marvelously staged and picturized that it made the otherwise yawn of a sit-through well worth while all by itself.  Great music too! 
3 Idiots (Hindi: थ्री इडीयट्सis a 2009 Bollywood comedy film directed by Rajkumar Hirani, with a screenplay by Abhijat Joshi, and produced by Vidhu Vinod Chopra. It was loosely adapted from the novel Five Point Someone by Chetan Bhagat3 Idiots stars Aamir Khan,R. MadhavanSharman JoshiKareena KapoorOmi VaidyaParikshit Sahni and Boman Irani.  "3 Idiots" broke all Indian box office records upon release. In its four-day first weekend, the film netted INR 380 million, and broke the record held by Ghajini for the first weekend collections. At the end of its theatrical run in India, it broke all box office records for Indian box office collections, and is the first Bollywood film to cross the INR 2 billion mark in India itself. Currently, it is the highest-grossing Bollywood film according to net collections, earning INR 2.024 billion (US$ 44,720,996).

Overseas 3 Idiots is the second highest-grossing Indian film in overseas markets after My Name is Khan. It set record collections in territories such as USAAustraliaFiji and some African territories, but performed comparatively underwhelmingly in the UK. In the United States, the film earned $6.5 million since its opening. Overall, it is currently the second highest-grossing film in overseas markets. It has collected US$ 15.50 million (INR 72 crores) since its opening.

It was the premier of the most awaited and the most hyped movie of the year,3 Idiotsin Mumbai. As is obvious,all the glittering stars of the tinsel town were present there. Apart from the cast and crew of the movie, Sanjay Dutt,Kareena, Saif and Salman KhaThe movie was not the only thing that caught people’s attention.The three contender Khans were seen together at the same place, Salman Khan and Shahrukh Khan in particular, who have not stepped the same piece of land together since the big fight at Katrina Kaif‘s birthday party. Even though,things seem sour between Aamir and SRK,the latter’s presence at the premier contradicted the idea.


Muscles & Shades (Salman), all Kool, (ShahRukh), all Savvy, Aamir. 

Director Rajkumar Hirani is the same age as his star Amir Khan and scored heavily with the Munnbhai underworld comedies earlier in the decade--especially "Munnabhai MBBS", 2003, which was a trendsetter and a huge success worldwide. Hirani obviously has the touch that works for Indian audiences. His next project is said to be "Idiots Four" -- in animation.

"Raakh" (Ashes) directed by Adita Bhattacharya in 1989,
<<After witnessing the public humiliation & abuse of a female friend, a young man vows to avenge her by going after the hoodlums responsible. he is guided by a burnt out, cynical cop, who shows him the ropes as well as the realities of vigilante life.>>
<< This movie is said to be the second movie of Aamir Khan and one really cannot believe that a one movie-old actor can do such justice to his role. Aamir Khan stars as Aamir Hussain Khan (his real name), who gets into a fight with a hoodlum and as a result his ex-girlfriend (Supriya Pathak) gets raped. Aamir feels personally guilty for her gang bang defoliation and decides to kill everyone who was involved in the rape issue. Meanwhile a cop (Pankaj Kapur) is also fed up with being used by these hoodlums and decides to assist Aamir in his revenge vendetta.  If you wanna watch a romantic movie with hero and heroine running around the trees, this isn't your cup of tea. However if you want to watch an excellent movie with realistic touch, watch this movie as soon as possible.>>Imdb User Comments

 "Raakh", a highly  innovative film at the time, makes use of extremely stylized chiaro-oscuro photography and is the dark -- one might say "noirish" --story of the collusion between a disturbedmiddle class youth (Amir Khan) and a disillusioned middle aged cop ,Inspector "P.K." (played admirably by pudgy middle aged actor Pankaj Kapur), who get together to wreak mayhem, death and vengeance on the local Mafia Boss and his henchman -- the youth to avenge the brutal gang rape of his girlfriend, the cop to get even for being forced into a life of police corruption and then getting fired when he wanted to go straight. Because of its extremely off-beat style and lack of songs this film did not go over with the Indian public at the time of its release, but it has since become an intelligentsia cult film.  Pankaj won the 1989 National Film Award as best supporting actor for his role in this film, and also played Gandh's secretary in Attenborough's "Ghandi", 1983. Aditya, the son of a rather prominent and famous director,Basu Bhattcharya, (of "Teesri Kasam",1966has for whatever personal reasons, made only two films in the two decades since then, and remains a Bollywood outsider in spite of his family pedigree.  "Raakh" is however, clearly a Bollywood landmark although far from a typical Bollywood film, and it was a real coup for the LA festival to add it to the program. The unusual lensing was by Santosh Sivan who would soon become one Bollywood's leading cameramen. 
Altogether the 8th L.A. Indian Film Festival was an excellent overall survey of the latest from india in all fields of filmmaking and a remarkably user friendly event in its Heart of Hollywood location. I would call it a great success, except for one reservation -- the fact that the turnout for the films was almost entirely from the local Indian community, with barely a sprinkling of "white" faces to be seen at the screenings. If one of the objectives of this festival (whose organizer is not Indian) is to promote Indian films generally, and not just to massage the souls of a guaranteed NRI (Non Resident Indian) audience, then director Christina Maroudand co. need to find a way of reaching the wider L.A. filmgoing public.  This is, after all, a very film conscious city, with many people out there curious about and ready to see unusual foreign language films. What is needed is stronger wider ranging publicity aimed at reaching a potentially much larger audience.

ALEX in Hollywood

Additional info on "RAAKH"

Directed by Aditya Bhattacharya Produced by Asif Noor Written by Story & screenplay:Aditya Bhattacharya
Dialogue: Nuzhat Khan Starring Aamir Khan
Pankaj Kapoor
Supriya Pathak Music by Ranjit Barot Cinematography Santosh Sivan Editing by A. Sreekar Prasad Release date(s) 1989 Running time 153 min Country India Language Hindi

Raakh (Ashes) is a 1989 Hindi film starring Aamir KhanPankaj Kapoor and Supriya Pathak Gajanan Bangera Jagdeep in lead roles . The revenge thriller film was directed by Aditya Bhattacharya, son of director, Basu Bhattacharya.  The film was Aamir Khan's first movie after blockbuster QSQT and wasn't accepted well by the audience at the time, however it received much critical acclaim and subsequently three National Film Awards in 1989 and developed considerable following over the years . The film also marked the debut of ace cinematographer Santosh Sivanand film editor A. Sreekar Prasad.


In a big city (Bombay) the crime rate continues to escalate. In the wealthier quarters of the city life goes on… but it is an uneasy calm.  Aamir (Aamir Khan) had just turned 21. He is from a rich family. The only color in his otherwise mundane life is his obsession for Neeta, an older, more pragmatic woman, who does not quite feel the same about Aamir.  One night, on their way back from a party, Neeta is gang raped by a local boss, Hassan Karmali and his friends, and Aamir watching helplessly, can do nothing. Unknown to Aamir, an off-duty police officer is a silent witness to the incident. Frustrated, possessed by impotent rage and a sense of injustice, Aamir has to find release. He leaves home... Ironically, he turns to Sub-Inspector P. K. Kapoor – The silent witness. Kapoor, pretending to be unaware of the incident agrees to help Aamir…. (years ago he The cop, Kapoor had taken on the Karmali clan, an unwise move that nearly destroyed his career.) -- Aamir now feels he has a friend. Till one day, realizing the truth he is shattered. Soon after, S.I. Kapoor is suspended. His life begins to spiral downwards. Now alone, frightened, without a job and with nothing to lose… he sees in Aamir the means to fulfill his dark, unresolved dreams, and the shit hits the proverbial fan!. 

Together they set about eliminating their common enemy – members of the dreaded Karmali family. Kapoor the embittered cop becomes a dark behind-the-scenes mentor to the innocent but fearless Aamir. Neeta, unaware of the changes in Aamir’s life, has decided to put her past behind her. She begins, slowly but painfully, to reconstruct her life. Meanwhile, Aamir slips into vortex of terrifying violence – a road to certain doom. Theirs is a war with no victors, a battle that has no glory. Amidst the lies of a logical life, sometimes the only truth is in madness, in losing control…. Young Aamir under P.K.s tutelage goes on a One-way Bender of murderous vengeance knocking off all the bad Guys in a hail of hot lead. 



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