Archive Page 2 of 3



Urban Candy

7 years ago I produced a documentary in Zambia “Confused Marriage”, the story of a mixed African-German marriage in a little village in the African desert. (You can watch an excerpt on this site) At that time a young woman was jumping, laughing and singing around, Candy Hammerschmidt. Nobody saw her because she enjoyed the village life so much, where her mother originally came from. Candy and the entire team enjoyed the life in Chipata and didn’t want to go back to Berlin, where we came from.

 

3 years ago I wrote a blog down below on this site about a new Hip Hop group by Okan&Essa, whose music I enjoyed a lot. I made a film about them and how they mix African and Turkish rhythms with Hip Hop and Soul. They reminded me of the times, when I discovered Hip Hop in New York in 1982. At that time when I was a kid, this music expressed my spirit and way of living. Still later in the 90′ies I wrote a film script with Hip Hop music.

 

During the last years Candy did a lot of hard work. She took singing and acting classes; she was a great dancer by nature. Apart from starting an acting career in theater and film (Résiste - the revolt of trainees), Candy Hammerschmidt sang in various groups in different styles and worked together with her brothers Bryan and Barry. Bryan Hammerschmidt composes and writes music, makes music for films and videos as his brother Barry is in beat boxing. His music inspired us for a great scene in the above mentioned film “Résiste” by Jonas Grosch.

 

So from the little girl in the Zambian and Berlin desert, slowly a talented and creative singer emerged. During the years she developed her own style and aura, which is particular to her. She attained a foundation to become a singer and performer on an international level.

 

Yesterday we could watch Candy in the casting show X-Factor at Vox, where she presented a great performance together with her colleagues Roman Schwitalia and Marc Marcowski. They started not long ago as a group, created by Georges Glueck, a well-known and very interesting music producer, who created Falco, Sarah Connor and other stars for the European and international market. It must have been a tough work for all participants to get together as a group in such a short time. But it shows their talent and future.

 

You may watch and vote again for “Urban Candy” next week on Tuesday the 5th of October on Vox at 20h15. Have fun and enjoy!

 

Talking Indian movies - part 2

(Continuation of the article below in the blog)

Lately I was watching “Pulp Fiction” by Quentin Tarantino, thinking that I could find the same quality and style in the Hindi movie such as “Don - the chase begins again“. With “Don” I became a fan of intelligent action movies and Shah Rukh Khan at its best. Like with “Pulp Fiction” nobody would describe it as a realistic movie. The stories come out of reality but reality is stylized and exaggerated in a way that it is digestible for the spectator, entertaining and captivating. Does anyone want to see the cheap misery of some gangsters and Mafioso’s, around the corner in Berlin, Naples or Kuala Lumpur? In the same time “Don” describes the corruption of our society in a shocking but well-done way by Farhan Akhtar. He is not just a talented director, who did “Dil Chata Hai”, but also the producer and founder of Excel Entertainment and actor in “Karthik calling Karthik“, an interesting, contemporary love story.

 

Indian cinema is and was always great in love stories. The director and storyteller Imtiaz Ali wrote in “Jab we mat” a modern version of “Breakfast at Tiffany”. It is the story of a young woman played by Kareena Kapoor, who has to face reality while being captivated in her dreams and her own world. In this case she runs after a man, whom she imagined to be her prince, but who was more of a devil. The man, who truly loves her, can’t express his love, because he is captivated in his own anger, depression and inability to cope with real life. At least he owns a lot of money and a company in his background. For sure he only represents 5% of the Indian or European population, but this aspect is not dominant in the story. Shahid Kapoor played this man in a marvelous, empathetic and truthful way, an interesting talent in the young Indian cinema, who is by the way a wonderful dancer, too.

 

Lately Imtiaz Ali thematized also a modern subject in his love story “Love Aaj Kal“: how easy and fast we change friends, lovers, relations… In a time where everybody has to be flexible, changing countries, cities or even continents, it is easier to quit a relation-ship than to suffer under unfulfilled desire. While this story plays in a rich, modern, Indian society, “LSD - Love Sex Aur Dhorkha” focuses more on the aspect of voyeurism and isolation in the contemporary society. This was first thematized by Atom Egoyan in his film “Speaking Parts  and Steven Soderbergh in “Sex Lies and Videotapes“, both films from 1989.

Before I talk about modern Indian drama, you could also have a look at “Tum Milo Toh Sahi” by Kabir Sadanand, where several modern love stories play over different ages of the protagonists. People in Bombay try to save their little café against a multinational coffee chain.

 

Returning to action and drama “Kaminey” is a great piece of art, directed by Vishal Bhardwaj. This time Shahid Kapoor plays two different twin brothers. Their lives were separated and are forced together by luck and unluck. Again criminality in our modern society is thematized such as drug trade and addiction, but the mise-en-scène and music are very inspiring. Vishal Bhardwaj tries to find a way between Bollywood movies and Arthouse movies. Besides of A.R. Rahman, one of the world finest film composers, you should have a look at Vishal Bhardwaj as a music composer, too. Also his adaptation of Shakespeare’s “Macbeth”, called “Maqbool” (2003) and “Omkara” (2006) give a special view on Indian society. In all these films you may meet the finest actors of India from Irfan Khan, Om Puri, Ajay Devgan, Saif Ali Khan (also producer and actor in “Love Aaj Kal”), Kareena Kapoor, Naseeruddin Shah and many more.

 

Three highly discussed films, I want to mention, focus on world politics, terrorism and media business. The producer Karan Johar (director from “Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham” as mentioned in the article below) took the risk and produced the film “Kurbaan” and “My name is Khan“. I don’t want to talk about these interesting movies, because you have to watch them. The same with “Peepli live“, a satire about rural India and modern media business, directed and written by Anusha Rizvi, produced by Aamir Khan, mentioned in the articles down the blog. This movie will come into the cinemas in Germany in October 2010. This will be one of the first movies from India, coming into German cinemas. So look out for this story!

 

Last but not least hopefully the film “3idiots” will come to European cinemas. This production from Vidhu Vinod Chopra, directed by the known director Rajkumar Hirani with Aamir Khan as the protagonist was the biggest box-office hit in 2009. “3idiots” expressed the problems of many people with the Indian educational system, which still seems to be authoritarian (I wasn’t in school/university in India…). It reminded me of Pink Floyds’ song “We don’t need no education”. In Western Europe we would  tell the story of teachers, being annoyed or even tortured by their pupils, but in India it is  the other way round. So we shall see how the public in Europe looks at this well made movie?

“An Indian-German Business Affair”


Impressions - part 4

 

 

New Delhi - One day I discover the most beautiful architecture I have seen for long. What for a fascinating history we may discover! Why don’t we talk about this in our schools in Europe? When you have been to Paris, Rome or Cordoba, you may be happier coming to the Red Fort in Delhi. Already the dark red stones reflect strength, which impresses me. It’s a mixture of Mughal architecture with some gothic style, as we would say, and the construction of a huge Fort, to survive all the attacks and to show your power. You may discover a huge red hall, where the Sultan received the people to hear their opinion. Pillars in red, the floor in red and in the middle a seat out of white marble with flower and bird ornaments. Would a European king receive the people in his castle to hear their opinion, no, I don’t think so. They only listened to their ministers and ducs. Behind this hall a huge garden opens to his palaces in white marble in Mughal and Hindu architecture as far as I know. This beauty in its ensemble with a wide view over Delhi put me into 7th heaven. The wife of the Sultan became the biggest palace, wide open with pillars in fine, chiseled ornaments like in the Moors architecture in Spain. His wife was in the center; near her the sultan had a much smaller palace to sleep. Close to him was a huge reception hall for the private hearings of his ministers and friends. The pillars and walls are full of beautiful flower ornaments. Behind his huge desk he had a view over Delhi, only at that time there were no traffic jams, no horning and honking of some cars and rickshaw drivers. But could you imagine a man in his office having flower ornaments at his walls nowadays? Not even a woman would put flower ornaments at the walls of her office, you would be some kind of naive loser and not a serious businesswomen. Here it’s pure beauty in perfection. At that time in Europe we put little angels at the walls with some sensual male or female goddesses being half naked, pretending to be Greek or Roman goddesses, fighters, heroes, but actually they are just a visual translation of everybody’s desires. It’s the beginning of Baroque architecture in Europe.

 

Further in the South of Delhi you may find Tombs such as Humayun’s tomb. European Kings build castles and churches, but they would never build a tomb. What for a waste of money and manpower! When we show power we go high, we go wide, we go everywhere but we don’t build a tomb. So what is behind the idea of building a tomb? In the meantime I am sitting near Isa Khan’s tomb, a close friend to Sultan Humayun, who build himself an octagonal mosque. Don’t ask me, who is Isa Kahn or Humayun? Humayun was the second Mughal emperor, but who was he in the 16th century? One thing for sure he must have had a charming senior wife, Hamida Banu Begum, who has been build this tomb for him. An old gardener is sitting close by Isa Khan’s tomb looking into the sun for an hour. I very much like the silence and centeredness of this octagonal architecture, and I am quite surprised about the tomb, actually a mosque. The gardener is still sitting there, waiting, giving some food to the dogs. They are as hungry as many dogs in Delhi, running around in the streets. Falcons are flying over Isa Khans tomb, a huge ant is running in front of my feet, a beautiful bird hides in the tree, singing an unknown melody for the spirits living here. Finally I make myself on the way to Humayun’s tomb. I am a little resistant, in Europe cemeteries and tombs tend to be sad and melancholic.

 

Suddenly a beautiful and huge mosque appears in front of my eyes, surrounded by fountains and green lawns. I didn’t know that such a beauty is hidden in Delhi, it seems like paradise. The wife of Humayun must have loved her husband so much, that she has build him such a beautiful mosque, in the center octagonal outside squared. I have seen many photos of the Taj Mahal, that I am not really keen going there. But Humayun’s tomb with a beautiful white coupole and a building in red stones with fine and white marble inlays, feels for me wonderful. I am very much delighted. You feel the grandeur of her love for her husband. I have never heard of a Queen in Europe who has build such a magnificent monument out of love for her husband. Personally this is much more interesting for me then the Taj Mahal. That a man makes huge efforts for his wife/ girlfriend is normal, assumed, shown in many movies. But that a woman in the 16th century showed her love in such a strength and beauty is incredible for me. I am very happy being here, it gives me/us much more for my life then the spoiled meeting in the morning. This edifice of love is the first example of Persian influence in Indian architecture. I can only copy what I read at the entry of this red-brown architecture - red the color of love.

 

“An Indian-German Business Affair”

I wish you all a happy new year and may your wishes and all your projects become true!!


Impressions for a new project  -  part 3

 

After a beginning euphoria, several weeks in India have been passing by and I finally arrived in reality. People are running, working, searching for jobs, food, water, a tough competition reigns the market place, long hours in the trains, stuffed like dry sardines, walking, running, waiting, no answers for mails, anonymity, freedom? What does it mean - freedom in Mumbai? Freedom in Paris? Freedom in New York? I am just trying to get into the grove. The competition is everywhere the same, it’s getting tougher. My brain is tired of these talks of what to do and where to go. People are stuffed and tight together and are they still smiling? I know, India is known for the people - smiling. But where has the smile gone in Mumbai? I know people were smiling in Kolkata, Holdia, Varanasi… But where has the smile gone in Mumbai? Did it disappear in endless work and train hours, behind walls of impressive buildings? Did it disappear in endless confrontations of religious fights, terrorist attacks, touristic overflows and media manipulations? Mumbai is such a beauty; it is such a dream, but it’s also a disaster of hopes and despair. I know I am just a writer/film maker, not fighting in the streets of Mumbai for food and water like many others from 5 am to 10 pm. Sometimes it’s slow, sometimes it’s fast, where are we in Western-Europe in our fantasy / Disney land, in between reality or still far away? Is reality in ourselves or just outside reigning our brains and well being?

 

By the way what do you do on Sunday in Mumbai? You go to the Dhobi Ghats, doing your washes of the week, or as a tourist you take photos of people doing their washes of the week. You may go to the horse riding around the corner. But in case you get too much addicted to games you may go to the main Hindu temple Mahalaskshritt at the Arabian Sea or close by to an important Muslim mosque, the Hali Ali Dargh complex. The Europeans and Americans go to the nearest Spa, while film people have diner in a simple restaurant, enjoying and observing daily life at the beaches of Mumbai, discussing. I am still delighted what you may discover in Mumbai. The seaside is such a beauty queen; only sometimes its smell is not so attractive. The people are walking, sitting along the beach, watching each other, playing with the kids, enjoying the summer wind, which is for them a cool winter brise. Young guys are playing cricket, as everywhere in Mumbai there are men playing cricket. By the way I saw no women yet playing cricket. For me personally cricket is not as interesting as football, so I always preferred to play football, but where are women playing cricket or football here in Mumbai? But the beauty of this city is more hidden in the center. The seaside is holidays, the daily life happens in the huge art deco or neo-gothic buildings. In case you don’t end up in one of these impressive buildings, you may end in a street, where they sell only paper cards. Greeting cards for the wedding, the funeral, your birthday or the birth of your child… for your happiness and despair, for everything you may wish and will never find. Finally I get stuck in the street for sweets, Arabian sweets, European sweets, American sweets and Indian sweets, little petit fours like in France with almonds and cashews, with ginger or without ginger, small delights - Mumbai sweets are very special but beware of, you may be cheated on.

 

Mumbai changes - Everything is slow and very fast the same time. An astonishing thing for me is still the separation of men and women in the suburban train. In the beginning I didn’t realize it, getting into male compartments. For sure they were all staring at me and I was wondering why. Finally a friend of mine grumbled, telling me, that I should go into the female compartments. But I don’t want to, but you should, that’s the way it is, but I don’t like it, when you don’t like it, then you don’t like it, but it’s the way how it works in Mumbai. The first difference, which jumped into my mind, were the colors. While men are dressed in blue marine/black with different variations of white/blue shirts… women wear all variations of colors and tissues in the world, either as a Sari, Panjabi, Shirts, scarf’s, whatever with gold, silver, with or without jewelry, you are overwhelmed by their colors. In the female compartment there are always sales women announcing their newest, exciting products from jewelry, bindis to the newest cleaning product. They sing their products, like they sing for their samosas… Moreover women talk and talk and talk much more than men do in the trains. They discuss, laugh and even shout at each other like the devils in a torero fight, even when it’s just the question who may sit or who may not sit. I rarely saw screaming faces like this, except in a method acting workshop. Men in their compartments are calm, sitting or standing squeezed in the corridor, staring at each other or playing on their mobile phones, while women read newspapers, books.

 

“An Indian-German Business Affair”


Impressions for a new project  -  part 2

 

 

Mumbai. Later in the afternoon I go along a street in Andheri and suddenly a huge class of 8 to 10 year old kids are sitting under a tree on a square doing their homework. A lady in a beautiful dark red-green sari smiles at me, by the way not many people smile in Mumbai in comparison to Goa where they smile all the time. She tells me that these are kids, whose parents can’t take care of them in the afternoon. So they do some work with them, homework, paintings, counting. I am really sorry that I can’t speak Hindi; I would have loved to tell them stories about Europe. But they can’t speak English and me… Can you imagine in Europe women taking care of 30 - 40 kids without being paid? No way. The kids were so happy seeing me, laughing, making fun and looking at my purple silk stockings and skirt. They were more open than the kids in the orphanage in Goa, about whom I wanted to make a film. But the kids in Goa got a very authoritarian education. So they were stiff, shy, behaving like in a military camp and scared about what they said, constantly looking to the owner of the orphanage, who made them do, what he wanted them to do. - Mumbai sweets sitting in the street, doing their homework, painting or calculating how many people may live in Mumbai?

 

Full moon in Mumbai - Following my way along little stores with fruits, vegetables and cloths, I arrive at a huge stable. Can you imagine cow stables in the middle of a city? I was excited. Big black, heavy cows eating their hay under a roof, looking at me. You could even buy fresh milk! The last time I drank fresh milk from a cow is 30 years ago or more. The cow stares at me, and a man refilling their hay, stares at me like I stare at him and the cows - Full moon in Mumbai - I continue my way along the little huts, where they repair cars, turn taxis upside down, sell you toilets, window glasses, cakes, jewelry or sugar cane juice, whose smell mixes with some incense sticks and lots of cars and taxis. I gave up smoking; with the car pollution I smoke two packets of cigarettes anyhow. One thing for sure, there should be more blondes walking along the streets of Mumbai, so they don’t stare at you anymore. For sure purple stockings and a skirt it’s not the best offer in between women in a burka. But what does it matter, the eyes tell anyhow the story of your life.

 

Full moon in Mumbai ends in discussions about and if a Christian woman may get married to a Muslim, if a Muslim may get married to a Hindu. It makes me sad how we have developed backwards again. In the 80′ies and 90′ies in Paris and Berlin there was a development to less question these questions anymore, even 200 years back my ancestors married in between different religions, in Berlin they had no choice anyhow. And now in modern times with cool products, stylized fashion models, exquisite cars, expensive exotic furniture, where globalization determines more your life then anybody else, they build up walls because of religion. I couldn’t believe. But I know it became a general problem, wherever you go, wherever you are. It gains too much power over the people, building up walls, where there shouldn’t be walls anymore - Full moon in Mumbai.

“An Indian-German Business Affair”

Impressions for a new project

(My Indian contact no.  0091-9930560083)

Mumbai. The first things I see are palm trees, the incarnation of beauty. The taxi driver doesn’t understand me but I smile. He stops in the middle of nowhere and I smile. He drives to a filling station and I continue smile. A long travel begins. Already the different smells make me happy. How does Berlin smell? Anything else but cars? Here it changes from charcoal to all other smells of the world. We drive along construction sites, passing by office buildings, higher and higher up into the sky. The taxi driver doesn’t speak English and my Hindi is worth a dime. I have the impression that he doesn’t know where we have to go. Suddenly he stops at a corner, lost, I ask another taxi driver where we are, and suddenly the Hotel is there, in the dark, closed with chains. Why the hell did I write that I would arrive late? I shout out loud, what the heck is going on here. Finally somebody comes. I can’t sleep. But the next day is warm like it’s never in Berlin. In the tender mist of the morning sunlight I have a marvelous view over the roofs of Mumbai. The cars honk; the crows are talking and shouting to each other. How much I love these sounds of India. Berlin is calm, Berlin is a village, Berlin neither smells nor sings. Mumbai is a symphony of sounds, Berlin is a folk song.

 

Why are they all staring at me? Is something wrong? Are my wrinkles too big? Shouldn’t I sit here and drink tea? I think I’m pretty normal for India? But I am the only woman in the Café of Girgaon, moreover blonde. The waiter is slightly arrogant, but slowly he becomes nicer, when I order a coffee after my second tea. The people still stare at me. Do they know that my greatest dream was to have long, black, curly hair and dark brown eyes? Unfortunately I failed. Everything in the Café becomes lively, it’s 8.30. They eat, drink, chat and make business. You feel a community in between the people, which I rarely experience in Germany. They have a different attitude towards partnership. For us Europeans it doesn’t mean too much, you change quickly. It has no meaning. A woman doesn’t honor a man and vice versa. Human relations have no worth, because everything what counts is money, your profession, career and social status. But to honor a man or a woman, what for a strange idea?

 

After I have done my office stuff, I jump into the city. What for a beautiful architecture! I discover arcades of a beauty I never saw in Paris or Milan, more beautiful then in Vienna. Little paintings and ornaments tell stories of couples and goddesses. A soft, tender light falls onto the floor, reflections of Mimosa leaves intermingle, creating an impressionist painting. Everybody looks so serious in his or her conservative cloths. I have a long conversation with a bookseller, who was once rich but now he is poor. His parents had to leave Pakistan, so nothing is left. I continue my way along the high pillars of this old beauty and come to a huge square. Again I discover Mimosa and Bougainville trees in the middle of a city. The palm trees add a natural elegance to this ensemble. What’s going on in Mumbai, no cliché fits? I walk into some neo-gothic English architecture from the 19th century, entering the High-Court of Maharashtra. It’s pure theater over 4 floors. In every floor they discuss the newest topics, politics, economics, from happiness to despair. How many destinies have been decided in this impressive building? How many people had great hopes and failed in the end or won, who knows? Piles of papers and old files are piling up in the offices and in the long corridor on the floor, telling the stories of their lives.

 

This morning I had really trouble to bear this poverty visible at any corner of Mumbai. My depression and my own poverty become apparent. I have trouble to live with it. Everywhere in the dark you see people sleeping, hiding under old blankets. It is difficult and scary to me, because I could end up there, too. Who knows what happens in this world in 10 years? At the Taj Hotel a little girl approaches, telling me that she is not allowed to be here, but she would love to make me a present, because I’m such a nice lady. She gives me a white flower bracelet out of jasmine, which smells seductively. I insist that I don’t want them but finally I accept. It’s just a present, which will bring luck to me. Then she starts telling me, that she has a bad husband, who treats her full of despise. She was pregnant before she got married so her mother chassed her away. Now she is ill and can’t give any milk to her baby. She asks me if I could buy some milk for her baby? Sure I can’t say no. Finally we end up in a little store, where she wants to buy 2 packages of rice and 2 boxes of milk powder. The guy charges me 1200 Rupees. What do you think, I’m a millionaire or what? Ok… I’ll pay you one package of rice and one box of milk powder. Then she started discussing, that her friend will starve and that… No, sorry, I am not a millionaire; my hotel room costs half the price. I leave her, back to the Gateway of India. Again people asks me if I want my shoes cleaned, buying some water… Two young guys made photos of me, but they couldn’t speak English. When I gave them my dictionary they even didn’t find the word of their occupation. Can’t they read? Finally I look at the gateway, asking myself, why people admire a gate, which honors King George and his wife when they conquered India. Why do people admire a gate, which was build by their invaders, conquering their country for centuries?

 

Rush hour in Mumbai. Don’t try to swim against the flow. At 6 pm, masses of people come from the center of Mumbai, from all their offices, running fast towards the subway. Nobody takes care of the others, nobody looks at each other. Everybody is just running and running, it’s me, it’s me, I want to go home, I want to have peace, I have to take care of my wife, I want to see my son. Don’t try to swim against the current, you will be run over, you won’t survive. Anyhow a lot of women in India don’t work, they stay at home with their family and kids. Then entering the train, everybody stares at me, but really everybody. It was an unusual feeling to me. Didn’t you ever see a blonde? I don’t wear high heels, no mini-skirt, no make up, nothing special, really I am not a beauty queen! But they don’t stop staring at me. You know to be honest, I loved black hair. I always wanted to have long, curled black hair and the first wish I could have at 10 was to get a black wig. At 20 finally I tainted my hair and lost so much, that I gave up this dream…

 

Back in the old hotel in Girgaon they were asking me, how old I am? 46 - Whow I wouldn’t have thought, you look much younger! You are beautiful. Mmh, thank you for the compliment. Are you totally on your own? Yes. But I have many friends here and at my home in Europe. He stared at me, at 46 you’re not married? You know in the West we are very much used to be on our own. Family structures got destroyed in particular in Germany because of the 3rd Reich and the revolt against anything, which brought this kind of society. We didn’t want anymore this oppressive structure where the father is the absolute authority and you’re worth nothing! A kid has to submit and obey, has to keep his mouth shut and kneel. No love, no tenderness, no support, you are nothing, serving your father and the system. No, then I prefer to stay on my own. Anyhow I have too much work to do, it would boring for somebody else. But be careful not loosing your passport, then you won’t get into any hotel.

 

Yesterday at the cricket field I was lying in the grass, checking where I was and where I wanted to go. The security guard chassed the Indian people away but not me…? Then I was drinking one of these delicious lemon juices with sugar and salt. The seller was a little sceptical (scared) towards me, but finally he was laughing… I started talking to 2 young lads, who went to college. They want to become a chartered accountant. The one, who was more confident of himself, told me that he is gong to become Bill Gates. - Then you have to do computer science. - Oh, they do this, too. They are going to do their MBA. And their favorite actor is Shah Rukh Khan. But when I remark that he’s not such a good actor giving them an example, they changed fast their mind. I can only say that in the West we look more for quality work in acting. Everybody can act a little bit, pretty good. But not many can act exquisitely good, this takes a big effort. Look at Al Pacino, Sean Penn, Heath Ledger, can you compare them to SRK? Yes they are convinced but still they like his superficial films and he is taller than Aamir Khan… Ah, this counts? You know the most famous actors I know are 1m50/60.

 

An Indian friend from Ohio explained me that in many Bollywood /Indian films you always have a little bit of comedy, a little bit of romance, a little bit of action and some drama. It must be spicy and hot. My friend from Mumbai/Ohio is shocked about the violence in the States. Mumbai and anywhere in India it’s really peaceful in comparison to the States. Everybody from the age of 12 can buy a gun, everybody has a gun and everybody uses his gun - one day or another. Constantly there are shootings in his neighborhood. He told his wife to be at home before 10! It’s too dangerous…

 

But I also met another guy at the next splendid, hot cricket field. Again I was drinking this cold salty, sweet lemon juice… running down my throat. This time he started talking to me. What am I doing? If I’m on my own. He is a teacher in biology. But he loves to coach people. So they don’t repeat the same mistakes again and again. Most people run always for the perfect love, they will never find. Everybody is longing for love and rarely they find it and stay unhappy all their live. He is convinced that India is and will become a very strong country. He thinks I am a nice person, he could approach. While he was on his mobile phone, he was much more arrogant with a slight despise. He treated the young man with arrogance while he was preparing the sandwich with tomatoes, potatoes and cucumbers. Only with me he was suddenly nice. Later I discovered that he was doing import-export and mainly the cases where there is trouble. He is the trouble shooter for the money lenders, he is the debt collector. He plays on very charming and how intelligent he is, but revealing was his behavior towards the poor guy, who made the cooking and serving for him. That’s why I have trouble believing his charming behavior towards me.

 

Talking Indian movies

Where shall we start, where shall we end? As everybody may know India is the biggest film industry in the world. In the last year they have produced 1091 feature films in different regions, not counting their TV-production. Still we pretend to know what Indian film is: Bollywood. But what the hell is Bollywood? People dancing, slow rhythms, B-movies, endless love stories - no! A generalization is not possible. As everywhere it depends on the director, writer, producer, the team, the culture, the genre… Film is an art form and entertainment, where it is difficult to generalize. What means “German” film nowadays - politics, realism, melancholy? Are “French” films only about love, “Italian” films about Mafia and what means Hollywood anyhow? So I can just briefly talk about some movies, which came out in our cinemas.

 

As far as numbers are concerned, many people saw the English-American film “Slumdog Millionaire”, which is  not an Indian production but still a very interesting and fascinating movie, also from the production point of view. But there is a more interesting and forgotten film made by Mira Nair in 1988, called “Saalam Bombay“. This film also tells the live and destiny of kids in the poor areas of Mumbai in a more realistic way and not with a happy-ending like in “Slumdog Millionaire”. Mira Nair didn’t have the advantages of modern film making, shooting with little HD-cameras, flexible film teams and highly developed post-production facilities with all its possible manipulations. Still as a spectator of “Saalam Bombay” you get closer to the kids, their worries and dreams than in the English production, and in this film you can’t escape at all in a dream of becoming a millionaire.

 

Also the film “Thanks Maa”, directed by Irfan Kamal , distributed by IDREAMS, shows in a realistic, documentary style the life and destiny of kids, living in the streets of India. It treats the subject of child trafficking, like in the love and action movie “Ghajini”, the biggest box-office hit in 2008. For sure it is a question of taste if you prefer a realistic movie or a pretending to be realistic movie, which shows a dream world, or a world of action, love and crime.

 

The producer, director and actor Aamir Khan has as well chosen a more realistic approach to Indian contemporary life in his film “Taare Zameen Par” as described in the blog below. You discover the Indian school and educational system, which touches the same questions and problems as discussed in Europe or North America. How far shall we push and oppress our kids to fit into the system of our modern world?

 

On the other hand  “Karma calling” shows a modern world of Indians, living and struggling in and outside India. The director and writer Sarba Das brings us closer to the life of an average Indian family living in the States, fighting with their debts, work circumstances… such as the life of young people in Mumbai, working in a Call-center. You have no dancing scenes, no kitsch, but still romance and dreams in its own comic way.

 

Don’t forget the film “Monsoon wedding” by Mira Nair, a director, who can tell stories like a beautiful pearl necklace. A young woman has to get married to an Indian, she doesn’t know well, living in the States. But still she has an illegal love affair with another man, whom she can’t forget. Slowly we discover the world of her father, getting into economic troubles because of the marriage, the life of her younger brother, who is very feminine, as well the story of an abused woman, her cousin, rediscovering live and love, while the future husband from the States is searching for an India, which doesn’t exist anymore. Mira Nair mixes comedy with tragedy and drama, giving us some insights into Indian society.

 

India seems to have a long tradition of realistic films, starting with Satyajit Ray, born in Kolkata 1921, who was influenced by European neo-realism and the French filmmaker Jean Renoir. Satyajit Ray worked with him in Kolkata, searching for locations. He started his career as a film director with the “Apu Triology” in 1950, telling the story of a young poor Bengali boy, coming from a high caste, living in a rural area, trying to help his family to survive. Every film from Satyajit Ray is worth watching. 

 

But where does realism starts, where does it end? Could we describe the film “Fanaa”, directed by Kunal Kohli, produced by Aditya and Yash Chopra, as a typical Bollywood movie, where you live in a kind of dream world? Or do we watch a film, which tries to bring us life closer in a seemingly realistic way? Kunal Kohli gives us a glimpse into the life of a modern terrorist from Cashmere, living undercover as a tourist guide in New-Delhi to fulfill his mission, bombing the presidential palace. He falls in love, getting into a dilemma: true love or the fulfillment of his political ideas. This film succeeds to start as a romantic comedy, changes into an action movie and ends as a tragedy, and still keeps its classical dance sequences.

 

Many people may know “Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham…” (Sometimes happy, sometimes sad), directed by Karan Johar, a film, who brought Bollywood into German cinemas. I still remember sitting with a colleague in the movie theater and we couldn’t believe that a film is 211 minutes long with a break! But it’s not just the length of the movie and the dance scenes. It was this archetypal storytelling of the son fighting against his omnipotent father, the love affair of a rich man with a woman, who is socially below him, the consequent separation of his family and the reconciliation with the help of the younger generation. We thought it’s simplistic as a story, but it worked.

 

I could continue to recite many more wonderful Indian films, experimental, realistic, comic, kitschy, action or surreal, from the different regions in the different languages. I just want to continue the discussion about what could be Indian film or Hindi or Tamil or Bengali film… There are so many different films such as filmmakers to discover. By the way  you can watch a lot of interesting trailers in the Internet such the lately released film “Dev.D”, produced by UTV Spotboy, Ronnie Screwvala, and directed by Anurag Kashyap, or the comedy “Quick gun Murugun“.

 

On the website of Arte you find more information and a blog about Bollywood and in the Süddeutsche Zeitung you may read an interview with Aamir Khan about Indian film and his work.

 

Have a lot of fun to discover the huge variety of Indian film art and if you would like to read some more, please go to the beginning of my blog to part 2…

 

 

 

“Taare Zameen Par” - Like stars on earth

On the film festival in Cannes this year we were discussing the film “Taare Zameen Par”, directed, produced and acted by Aamir Khan, which was for my French, German, American and Indian colleagues one of the best movies we saw for a long time. “Like stars on earth” was the discovery of the year. It is an exquisite  piece of art with a beautiful mise-en-scène, more meaningful than some movies we saw in Cannes in the competition, the “Quinzaine” or “Un certain regard”. We couldn’t understand that this wonderful movie wasn’t shown in French and German cinemas.

Aamir Khan Production gives us the following synopsis: Ishaan Awasthi is an eight-year-old boy whose world is filled with wonders that no one else seems to appreciate; colors, fish, dogs and kites are just not important in the world of adults, who are much more interested in things like homework, marks and neatness. Ishaan just cannot seem to get anything right in class. So he gets in more trouble than his parents can handle, and is packed off to a boarding school to ‘be disciplined’. Things are no different at his new school, and Ishaan has to contend with the added trauma of separation from his family. One day a new Art Teacher bursts onto the scene, Ram Shankar Nikumbh, who infects the students with joy and optimism. He breaks all the rules of ‘how things are done’ by asking them to think, dream and imagine, and all the children respond with enthusiasm, all except Ishaan. Nikumbh soon realizes that Ishaan is not happy being at school, and sets out to discover why…

It is a film about the question, how far should we get adapted to nowadays society? Shall we push children and ourselves without any compromise into our system of society, or shall we educate them individually to be a free spirited mind? Shall we destroy fantasy for the sake of success and money? Nowadays in a time of unemployment, it got difficult to answer these questions, because you have no chances with few education. Everything that counts are exquisite diplomas and respected degrees. These questions are not treated in such an explicit way by the director. Aamir Khan found a poetic and more sensitive way to tell a touching story which occupies our minds and hearts. Please watch this wonderful movie, it is more fun and inspiring than reading this blog.

The film is available on DVD but also in larger book stores in Berlin, Paris…

A new era begins

Onlinefilm AG is a Web service, supported by Media Europe and other institutions, from filmmakers for everybody in this world. Filmmakers and producers can upload their films, documentaries, short films, and feature films. You can download the film of your choice and pay some money. Half is going to the producer, half is going to Onlinefilm AG for their services. It is a wonderful possibility to present your films and it is an even a greater possibility for everybody to discover brand-new and old films, either lost, forgotten or not shown on TV and cinema. You may download the following productions of my company: “In the rhythm of a city”, “Confused Marriage”, “Transit” and my Italian co production with Monna Productions, Alessandra Bergero, called “Emoticons”.

Life is a sailing boat

An Indian Baul singer from West-Bengali compared life to the ocean. Sometimes it is calm and your boat is floating peacefully into the sun. But then a storm is coming up and you have to take all the ropes of your boat in one hand, so it won’t sink. Even your mind is a huge ocean, which may go wild into all directions. Also here you may have to take the ropes together, so you don’t go down under.

In 2008 the financial and economic crisis took many boats down under the sea, which will never come up again. This is partly a result of the last 20 years of economic and political policy. It’s a crisis where we didn’t want to see and/or didn’t want to change. Nobody wanted to take the ropes to drive the boats over the ocean, nobody had seriously an interest to take the ropes. Moreover institutions got too big to take decisions.

Furthermore the attacks in Mumbai in December 2008 took us down into a further separation of Christians against Muslims against Hindus against whoever…, which is senseless, because we are human beings, independently of any Gods. As a Baul singer continues to sing, your body is a temple. It is a garden of beautiful flowers. Your heart is pure of gold and more beautiful than any gold in the world. But you can easily get lost in the huge ocean, only looking to the outside things of this world, being distracted by money, career, glamour or whatever this world may offer to you, to make life comfortable. And often we prefer to be blind, because this gives us pleasure and happiness. But does it lead somewhere? I have no answer. Still we could try to be truthful to our hearts, to our friends and family, to people we love.

A miraculous and extraordinary human being and actor got lost in the wide ocean of 2008. But he will stay alive in all his films, in memory of Heath Ledger.