On-screen Femme Fatales: How a Good Girl Becomes Lethal

She is the embodiment of mystery. She has this inexplicable allure and is seductive, sensual and enchanting. But all of this comes at a cost. Her intentions are not necessarily noble. She can entrap her lover and lead him into precarious situations that often have difficult escape routes. She is the femme fatale. A femme fatale is an archetypal character who has the aforementioned qualities and is often portrayed in literature, art and cinema. In cinema, she has evolved continually since inception. We present you some extraordinary femme fatales who have dominated the silver screen and the imagination of millions.

Amy Dunne in Gone Girl

Amy Elliot Dunne (played by Rosamund Pike) is a master of manipulation. She is a writer like her husband and constantly lives under the shadow of perfection of the fictitious Amazing Amy created by her parents. There has been little debate about the performance of Pike as Amy. She efficiently makes every aspect of the character credible; be it the anguished girl who apparently hasn’t lived up to her parents’ expectations, or the cold-blooded wife who goes to unimaginable lengths to execute her elaborate revenge plan. The reason? Her husband’s infidelity. This character evokes a range of emotions in the viewer; at times you pity her, at others you are scared of her and sometimes her thought process bewilders you. It is difficult to tell what she is thinking at a certain instant, which makes it even more interesting for the viewer.

Matty Tyler Walker in Body Heat

Matty Tyler used to be a good kid. Then she grew up and learnt about things like money, affairs and murder. But wait, Matty doesn’t want all of these She doesn’t even know anything about these things. Confused? Mary isn’t. Because this is exactly what she wants. Mary was Matty’s childhood friend and she now uses her identity to do things inexplicable. She wants to kill her husband for money. She wants to kill the guy who killed her husband at her insistence. Kathleen Turner has not impressed her audience more. She essays the role of Matty/ Mary with  confidence and the plot’s build-up works well in her favor.

Alex Forrest in Fatal Attraction

Alex Forrest is an ambitious woman. She is smart, intellectual and a successful editor of a publishing company. When she sets her eye on something, she will leave no stone unturned to get it for herself. Her beauty is a paradox. The curly blonde hair, high cheekbones and blue eyes make her look drop dead gorgeous but can also be fear-inducing at times. Glenn Close has portrayed the character to perfection in Fatal Attraction. In the first few scenes, she is at her charming best. There is no way to discern her hidden insanity. But as the plot progresses so does the madness of her character along with the interest of the viewer.

Julia in Original Sin

Julia is the ‘perfect’ wife. She is passionate, caring and understanding. She is also beautiful. However, she is a little secret. She is not exactly who she claims to be. She can make you believe in things that dod not exist. For example, herself. Give Angelina Jolie a role to essay and there is little chance she won’t do justice to it. She plays Julia whose real name is Bonny and who is compelled to resort to do wrong, with absolute panache. Switching from a gorgeous, seductive Julia to a timid, broken Bonny requires talent and timing, which Jolie undoubtedly shows.

Catherine Tramell in Basic Instinct

Catherine Tramell intrigues one and all. She is attractive, is a coveted crime novelist, has a double major in psychology and literature and has always been rich. She inherited 110 million dollars after her parents’ death in a boat accident. She has quite the lifestyle. She has developed a hobby of killing every man she gets involved with. And now it is detective and current love interest Nick Curran’s turn. Sharon Stone is one actor who is the perfect chameleon. She can effectively mould herself into any character. So much so, that her portrayal of Catherine Tramell remains inimitable and one of her best performances till date. For, which other psychopath can be so irresistibly gorgeous and a brutal killer at the same time?

Weekend Planner!

Another week comes to an end. Before you know it, the next week shall begin. The treacherous cycle continues. And amidst all this drudgery, the exciting weekend beckons! Got plans? Our weekend planner comes to your rescue. We assure you an amazing weekend with a selection of the best event, concerts, plays, stand-up shows, music gigs and much more- all tailor made just for you. Pick the events best suited for you and go ahead and have the best weekend ever!

Mumbai

Jagran Film Festival

Spend your weekend watching amazing movies.

Julia Bliss, Opening Set: Trapeze

Experience a whole new level blissful music.

Between The Lines

With power-packed performances, this play is a must watch.

Mera Woh Matlab Nahi Tha

Enjoy this unique play about two lovers.

APB Culinary Legacy Series: Bengali Mohabhojon

Set forth on this delectable culinary adventure.

Bengaluru

blueFROG Bangalore Presents DJ KAN-i

Dance to the tunes of DJ Kan-i

Mali And The Big Scene

Get your musical fix!

The Storywallahs

Revisit the tradition of storytelling

Jus’Trufs Chocolate Tour

A treat for chocolate lovers!

The Bet

Delve deep into the human psyche.

Kolkata

Laughing Stork

Get ready to LOL!

Cemeteries Of Kolkata

Unearth amazing secrets.

The Big Bachata Weekend

Learn more about dance!

Photography Workshop

Learn the best techniques for the best snaps.

United

A little of everything.

NCR

Puddle Of Mud

A haven for fans of this legendary band.

Stand-Up with Aadar Malik, Abijit Ganguly and Abhishek Upmanyu

They’re going to show you the funny!

Sunday Climbing Session

Get set to climb!

The Merchant of Venice

Revisit this classic.

Ghalib In New Delhi

Explore Mirza Ghalib’s story.

Lost and Found: Film Reels That Were Lost But Later Recovered

The preservation of films is a tedious process. In current times, with the advent of technology, it has become more convenient both to access and preserve films. However, formerly, if a film was not provided with proper care, it ran the risk of being lost. Additionally, preservation of films began being prioritized only after the 80s. There are a variety of reasons to why a film gets destroyed, lost or deteriorated.  A lot of films were displaced owing to the two World Wars.  

As of now, film historians and cinephiles are in constant pursuit of lost films as these are an important part of cinema’s heritage. Though not always successful, there have been quite a few instances, when on their quest they hit gold in the most unlikely places. Here’s taking a look at some such movies once thought lost and the amazing stories behind their rediscovery.
 
La Passion de Jeanne d’Arc (The Passion of Joan of Arc)
A 1928 iconic French movie, this movie had been lauded for great performances.  As the title suggests, the film revolved around Joan of Arc’s heroic life, her bravery, imprisonment, torture and execution. Renee Jeanne Falconetti who played the protagonist committed suicide in 1946. The movie was panned by Catholic groups and they succeeded in convincing the government to censor several scenes in the film. Two tragic fires destroyed the master prints of the film and post that the film was regarded lost. However, quite miraculously, more than three decades later, a Danish print of the movie was discovered in a Norwegian mental asylum. Till date no one knows how the print ended up in an asylum.
 
The Old Dark House
James Whale is known worldwide for directing commendable horror films like Frankenstein, The Invisible Man and the Bride of Frankenstein. However, not many know about another masterpiece of his called The Old Dark House. A Gothic horror film released in 1932, the prints of this film were soon lost. In 1968, another horror film director Curtis Harrington, was sifting through the vaults of Universal Studios, when he stumbled upon a copy of this very film buried deep within the vaults. After being released post restoration, the film garnered many accolades.
 
The Death Of Poor Joe
 
Books of famous authors have been adapted into movies many times. Charles Dickens is one such author. His works make great plots for movies. However, the earliest adaptation of his novel Bleak House, was a short film and involved only a scene from the book. This had been given to the British Film Institute in 1954, and then eventually was forgotten about. It was only in 2012, that curator Byrony Dixon discovered it in the archives. The reason it could not be found all these years- it was misfiled!
 
Different From The Others
 While films with homosexual content are common today, the Nazi-era cinema goers weren’t as liberal. Renowned actor Conrad Veidt had acted in a German film that portrayed the concept of homosexuality as acceptable. The movie was banned a year after its release and was later destroyed by the Nazis. But somehow, the co-writer of the film, Dr. Magnus Hirschfield managed to get four minutes from the film and hide it by including that part in another film. It was finally restored in 2011 with those 40 minutes of the film and anything else that could be found.

Script/Manuscript – Former, Latter or Both?

Literature and films have had an indispensable relationship for more than a century. The process of adapting a book into a movie is a dicey task, for the consequences can vary. Drafting a novel and drafting a screenplay require different techniques. The book market has many niches and there are only selective books that can be used for cinematic purposes. If the book is justifiably adaptable, there is the humongous challenge of doing justice to the book. Sometimes, the plot and dialogues are heavily borrowed from the book while others involve significant changes to the original plot for a better cinematic experience. Let us take a look at a few movies that have fared better than the books and vice versa. 

 
The Ones When the Movies Impressed
 
Noukadubi
 
 
While it’s not uncommon for Bengali film-makers to turn to Rabindranath Tagore’s works for a movie adaptation, it was quite a risk that Rituparno Ghosh took when he chose to make a movie on Noukadubi, a mediocre novel. And he nailed it! This became one of the most nuanced films he ever made. There is little in the film to find fault with. Riya Sen, Raima Sen, Prosenjit Chatterjee, Jishu Sengupta excel in their performances as the four main characters whose lives intertwine. The music and the plot has been so cohesively put together that it is difficult to distract you from the movie at any instant. 
 
The Japanese Wife
 
 
If adapting a novel into a movie is a tough job, adapting a short story is no easy feat either. But when it’s Aparna Sen, the more impossible it seems, the better. The film has been so beautifully adapted from the story that one can’t help but be moved by it. Be it the simplicity and innocence of Snehmoy and Miyage or the romantic build up through exchange of letters or the hapless but attractive widow Sandhya, every element in the film works amazingly well. 
 
The Firm
 
 
John Grisham is definitely the master of law-based thrillers. But you have to hand it out to Sydney Pollack and screenwriters David Rabe, Robert Towne and David Rayfiel for the movie rendition of this novel. The movie, The Firm keeps you gripped to your seat till the very end. The performances by Tom Cruise, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Gene Hackman and Ed Harris are nothing short of excellent. If the book was good, the movie was spellbinding.
 
Mrs. Doubtfire
 
 
Madame Doubtfire was a funny read; Mrs. Doubtfire was at a whole other level altogether. When you have Robin Williams, Pierce Brosnan and Sally Field doubled with an incredible script, how can you not expect the best? 
 
 
The Times When the Books Scored Higher
 
The Godfather
 
 
When you have a talent powerhouse in the form of Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, Diane Keaton, Robert DuvallJames Caan and Alex Rocco, the result can only be excellent. Even though the movie The Godfather was very well made, received rave reviews and a fan following of millions, going back to the Mario Puzo novel that inspired the movie, you find the book to be more detailed, more fluid and more coherent. 
 
To Kill a Mockingbird
 
 
It is very rare for an author to write a book and be remembered for that very book for his or her lifetime. To Kill A Mockingbird can never be a one-time read. While, Gregory Peck’s stellar performance as Atticus Finch will be ingrained in our minds forever, the movie’s crisp structure has compromised valuable details from the book. The book has never stopped being relevant, attracting readership, generation after generation. Narrated from a child’s perspective, the story takes you through a range of emotions and is lucid and poignant. 
 
The Book Thief
 
 
There have been countless stories conceived that have been based on the Nazi regime. The Book Thief stands apart as it is narrated by an unconventional narrator – Death. However, the movie fails to do complete justice to the book. The journey that you traverse as a reader is much more impactful than when you watch the film.
 
 
 

A Hero Named Malala

The Swat Valley is an alluring valley in the Khyber Pakhtunwala province of Pakistan. With the majestic Hindukush range of mountains, this district is renowned for its captivating beauty. This valley houses breathtaking mountains, lush green meadows and plenty of lakes. In addition to its treasures, this valley also houses the dreaded Taliban. Exactly 18 years ago this very valley produced an exemplary personality, a heroine. She is a proud Pashtun and an equally proud Pakistani. She is a stranger to fear and an embodiment of courage. Named by her beloved father, after an Afghan heroine known for her valour, she is Malala

Malala Yousoufzai has traversed  a long journey after being shot by the Taliban in the forehead when she was all of 15. Her crime being advocacy of educational rights for girls in Swat going against the rule imposed by Taliban that denied women their right to education. Her extraordinary story from a fierce school girl to a Nobel Peace Prize winner has been inked as a memoir and goes by the name of I Am Malala. We will soon witness her arduous journey even more closely in the much awaited documentary film by Davis Guggenheimwhich has been aptly named, He Named Me Malala . This encompasses her life in Swat, the attack by the Taliban to where she stands now.
 
Currently residing in England, Malala today stands for bravery and perserverance. She became the youngest recipient of the revered Nobel Peace Prize in 2014. Not so loved by all back home, this young activist dreams of returning to her beloved motherland someday. Her father is right. She is indeed special. She is a special child with a purpose- to arm the world with education. Her very first speech at the UN amazed all. For you don’t hear every 16-year-old say, "One child, one teacher, one book, one pen can change the world".
 
People are always attracted by emotions and novelty. A story so poignant, so inspiring and so phenomenal can expect only good assessment when it hits the theatres this October. The trailer has garnered an astounding seven million plus hits. There is very little room for doubt that this film like the protagonist will inspire millions across the globe. Check out the trailer below. 
 

Hollywood actors who were also politicians

While politicians have now become synonymous with scandals, outrageous statements and endless speeches, a few decades ago they were quite revered. In the course of the last few decades, the line between politician and celebrity has become blurred with more and more people from the entertainment industry taking to politics. When an actor decides to make a foray into politics, not a lot needs to change. As Reagan himself once commented, “Why can’t politicians be actors?” Reciting long speeches, touring, ‘mingling’ with the commoners, avoiding controversy and maintaining an appealing personality- an actor is already adept at all this. Sure, there are some who have genuine political beliefs, but jumping on to the political bandwagon is certainly not an easy task. Let’s take a trip down memory lane and look at actors who also made it as successful politicians. 

Ronald Reagan
Reagan was an actor, an army man, a Governor and the 40th President of the United States in his lifetime. In the course of his illustrious career as an actor, he appeared in more than 50 films, hosted television shows and was President of the Screen Actors Guild for seven terms. He became President in 1981, at the age of 69, becoming the oldest person to be elected to presidency. Even though his presidency was not devoid of controversies, he has been credited for reinvigorating the American economy and boosting the morale of his countrymen. 
 
Shirley Temple Black 
She was a raging success as a child actor, singer and dancer and much to the dismay of her many admirers, retired from show business in 1950. Her venture into politics was a big shock for her fans and acquaintances. Post her unsuccessful attempt at winning a seat in California’s 11th Congressional Elections, she pursued a career in foreign service with the UN General Assembly and became a diplomat. She became a U.S. Ambassador to Ghana in 1974, and later became the 18th Chief of Protocol of the United States and the U.S. Ambassador to Czechoslovakia.

Jerry Springer
It was highly unexpected of a man who had once run for Congress to slide down a stripper pole for his tabloid talk show. Jerry Springer’s political career was anything but smooth as he had to resign from the Cincinnati City Council in 1974 after confessing to hiring a prostitute. When everyone assessed this as the end of his political career, his honesty aided him in winning back his seat the following year. He went on to become the mayor of Cincinnati, Ohio, a news anchor and finally, a talk show host. 
 
Arnold Schwarzenegger
The Terminator served as the Governor of California from 2003 to 2011. He has made headlines for countless reasons, be it his blockbuster action movies, his to-die-for body for which he was labelled the Styrian Oak, or his stint in politics. Arnold Schwarzenegger is the perfect example of a multifaceted personality. 
 
Clint Eastwood
This man is the embodiment of sophistication. Brilliant is his middle name. He has a personality like no one else’s and is a powerhouse of talent. Be it acting, directing, producing, composing music or being a politician, Clint Eastwood has transcended every role in life. Right from the 1960s, he has delivered laudable performances in films, decade after decade. From 1986 to 1988, Eastwood served as a non-partisan Mayor of Carmel-by-the-sea, California. He has also been vocal about his views, supporting same- sex marriage, and has denounced America’s military policy and her campaigns in Korea, Vietnam and the Middle East. 

Happy Birthday Bad Man

Bad Man! That says it all. He has been made synonymous with all things villainous in Bollywood movies. As far as the realm of movies is concerned, he’s the guy that kidnaps your sister, or flirts with women or is a mafia boss. However, there is a lot more to Gulshan Grover. Having said that, for the true blue Bollywood fan, the moment he hears, "Bad Man", the only person that immediately comes to mind is this brilliant actor.

If you are scratching your head, let us remind you of Kesariya ‘Bad Man’ Vilayati from Ram Lakhan.

As the actor turns 59 today, his repertoire of movies boasts of experimentation with various roles and genres. Even though he was continually typecast as the badmaash in a plethora of movies in the 1980s and 1990s, this Punjabi munda has time and again attempted to step out of the box and showcase his acting prowess in a lot of critically acclaimed films such as I Am Kalam, Honour Killing, Earth and 16 December among others. The actor who claims to have knowingly created his bad man image for recognition was also one of the first Indian actors to appear in Hollywood movies.


 

The eminent actor was recently invited by none other than Prince Charles for dinner at Dumfries house estate in Scotland. So impressed was he by Grover, that the Prince approved the use of Dumfries House Estate for the shoot of a song and dance sequence of his upcoming film. 

Among his films lined up for release in the future include Deepa Mehta‘s latest Beeba Boys releasing this October in which Gulshan Grover plays Grewal, a mafia boss. We wish the Bad Man a very happy birthday and all the very best for this film and future projects. 


 

Drool Worthy On­-Screen. Off-Screen, Not So Much!

The Chinese have an old saying according to which, we eat first with our eyes, then our nose and finally our mouth. When we come to think of it, the adage sort of holds true.  In order to achieve a holistic experience of food, all the senses should be utilized equally. Hence, visual appeal of food is imperative. In movies, especially the ones in which food is an important part of the plot, the presentation is prioritized more than anything. That’s where food stylists come into picture.  As far as the dishes are concerned, there is a little deception involved and there is more to it than what meets the eye.

If you’ve watched the movie Chef, you know how much those Cubano sandwiches and yuca fries were important for the essence of the film. According to the movie’s official food stylist Melissa McSorley, in the scenes where an actor is shown eating it was most difficult for the her because the food needed to be presented perfectly on each take. For Chef, McSorley and her team made 800 Cubanos for one scene. And that’s not where it ended. A movie food stylist employs several tricks to make dishes on-screen look delicious.
 
There’s a fake everything quite far from your imagination. There are fake oysters that are actually colored and airbrushed flan. There’s fake ice cream (sacrilege?), which is surprisingly tissue paper made to look delectable by using the right camera angles and reflectors. Fake ice cream is also made by using shortening and powdered sugar. Celebrated food stylist Susan Spungen who has worked in quite a few movies including Julie & Julia has talked about the importance of replacement food in several interviews. 
 
 
Closer home, in the movie, The Lunchbox, which won several accolades for the commendable performances of Irrfan Khan, Nimrat Kaur and Nawazuddin Siddique, quite a few tricks had been adopted to make the dishes in the movie look delectable. Barring the moments when the actors actually had to eat food, the dishes were not exactly edible. The vegetables were partially cooked to retain the colour and make them look fresh. Also artificial colors were added to the dishes to make them look luscious. 
 
 
Chris Oliver, the famed food stylist for various successful films like Pirates of the Carribean, The Rock, How Stella Got Her Groove Back, Little Fockers among others has an interesting revelation to make. There are instances when actors are required to eat a particular dish for a scene. Actors who are vegetarian cannot eat a steak. Hence, some fruit or vegetable is designed to look like a steak and accurate camera angles are maintained for a perfect view. Also, molecular gastronomy plays a major role in recreating food for the camera. 
 
So, now that you armed with insider information about food in movies, would you still go "Yummm" when you see a delicious dish on-screen? Nom nom! Just saying. 

#ThrowbackThursday : Lights, Camera, Silence!

Sometimes amidst all the noise, it is silence that has all the words. 

In the present scenario, it is difficult to imagine a feature film devoid of the element of sound. However, there existed a time, before talkies became ubiquitous, when silent films were the primary source of man’s entertainment needs. The period from 1894 to late 1920s was the golden age of silent films with the invention of cinematography by the celebrated Lumiere brothers in the 1890s. This era witnessed the invention of motion picture cameras, rotating cameras and the mushrooming of film studios and production houses. 

La Sortie de l’Usine Lumière à Lyon by the Lumiere brothers, was considered the first feature film. Loosely translated as Workers Leaving the Lumiere Factory, this French masterpiece comprised a simple scene in which as per the title, workers are shown leaving the factory. Despite its simplicity, this film was considered a landmark in the arenas of technology, film-making, camera techniques and cinematography. 

From France, the art of making silent films spread globally but not at a rapid pace. However, it did manage to reach the shores of India which in turn produced several stalwarts during this era. 

The pioneer of feature films in India was the ingenious Dadasaheb Phalke who was later rightfully designated as the Father of Indian Cinema. He was instrumental in directing and producing the first Indian silent feature film Raja Harishchandra, which was based on the righteous Raja Harishchandra who has been mentioned in the epics Ramayana and Mahabharata. Phalke went to great lengths to ensure the completion of this film, even going abroad to gain knowledge about the techniques of film-making. He went on to set up Hindustan Films– a film company- whose inception marked a landmark in the history of films in India.  

Another notable Indian personality of the silent film era was the multi-faceted Ardeshir Irani. He was a sought-after writer, director, producer, actor, film distributor and cinematographer who worked on various films, in several languages. Having worked with Dadasaheb’s film company and Alexander Cinema, Irani soon learnt the tricks of the trade and became a prolific and well-known filmmaker. His most notable films are Nala Damayanti and Veer Abhimanyu. Irani was later labelled as the father of talkies when he released the first sound feature film Alam Ara. This gained him recognition and marked a milestone in the history of films.

The transition from silent films to talkies was a long one. Now talkies have become the norm and silent films have taken a backseat, with the number of silent films being created decreasing. Still one cannot dispute the talent showcased by the production of these alluring silent films which captured the imagination of millions.

 

An Enigma Called Kangana

She came, she fought, she conquered. 

A 16-year-old diffident girl from a small sleepy town of Himachal Pradesh steps out of her protective realm to become an actress – a decision detested by her conservative family. Without support – financial or emotional, this young girl traverses an arduous journey, from a model to a theatre actress to a Bollywood actress with two National Awards in her kitty being the highest paid actress in Bollywood. Now 28, Kangana Ranaut is finally recognized for all the right reasons – her acting, her impeccable fashion sense, her candor and her confidence.
 
 
Her rise to stardom has been anything but easy. However, Kangana’s immense talent has helped her move forward. She achieved critical acclaim with her debut film, Mahesh Bhatt’s Gangster (2006) in which she portrayed a depressed alcoholic caught between the affection of a musician and the love of a gangster.  She was discovered by Anurag Basu and praised for her acting skills, despite it being her first film. In her next film, Woh Lamhe (2006), she played a schizophrenic; her character being modeled on yesteryear heroine Parveen Babi. Yet again she was lauded by the critics but very soon Kangana was stereotyped as a serious actress. 
 
She made a foray into films of other genres like comedy and typical masala entertainers, and even acted in South Indian films. Barring her role in Life in a Metro (2007), the movies didn’t fetch her much recognition.  It was in 2008 with Fashion that she delivered one of her best performances, which eventually won her a National Award for best actress. Kangana portrayed Shonali Gujral, a supermodel addicted to drugs and afflicted with the unpredictability of the fashion industry. The film was both a critical and commercial success. 
 
Post Fashion, Kangana’s career witnessed a lot of fluctuations. There were some good films and some forgettable ones. She was also caught, time and again, in a web of controversies; with her personal life receiving more limelight as opposed to her films. Tanu Weds Manu (2011), Kites (2010), Once Upon a Time in Mumbai (2010) and Shootout at Wadala (2013) made it to her list of good films. In Tanu Weds Manu, she nailed the character of an eccentric Kanpuri who falls in love with the simpleton Manu Sharma. The film’s sequel Tanu Weds Manu Returns (2015) did amazingly well at the box office too with Kangana‘s return as Tanuja Trivedi being highly praised. 
 
The year 2014 was another landmark in her career with the release of Queen. Kangana portrayed a timid Delhi girl who is jilted by her fiance on the eve of her wedding. The film revolves around her journey of self-exploration as she embarks alone on her honeymoon to Paris and Amsterdam. The film was tagged as one of the best of 2014 with Kangana’s performance lauded. It won several awards and including her second National Award
 
 
Kangana has time and again proved her incredible talent as an actress who has adapted to an array of genres and portrayed various characters. With her upcoming film Katti Batti, Kangana has once again embraced experimentation with a different character and a different kind of film. One can definitely expect many more accolade-worthy performances from this talented actress in the future.