Friday, March 30, 2012

Who's the Fairest of them all?

By Anant Mathur (March 30, 2012)

The Hollywood film "Mirror Mirror" adapted from the classic Fairy Tale "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" is releasing this Friday, it stars Julia Roberts as The Queen and Lily Collins (daughter of british musician Phil Collins) as Snow White.

We've grown up hearing Fairy Tales and many times some of us have even pictured ourselves as some of these characters. But have you ever wondered which Bollywood celebrity would play the roles of certain Fairy Tale characters if they were given the opportunity. 

Well, wonder no more, I'm going to enlighten you (or freak you out) by sharing my list: 

Pinocchio (Pinocchio) - Shahid Kapoor - Because he still looks like a "real boy". 

Sleeping Beauty (Sleeping Beauty) - Sonam Kapoor - She could play this part in her sleep, literally.

Prince (Sleeping Beauty) - Emran Hashmi - Who better than the "serial kisser" to wake a sleeping beauty. 

Rapunzel (Rapunzel) - Asin - Her beautiful hair speaks plenty - the makers of Lux would agree! 

Pied Piper (The Pied Piper of Hamelin) - Shahrukh Khan - A man who can lead children to the cinema halls to see a useless film like Ra.One can lead them anywhere. 

The Little Mermaid (The Little Mermaid) - Amrita Rao - Mermaids, supposedly, live for over 300 years. Amrita means "Immortal" - it's a no-brainer.

Rumpelstiltskin (Children's and Household Tales
) - Aditya Chopra - There's no one else in tinsel ville who makes such costly deals.

Belle (Beauty and the Beast) - Priyanka Chopra - It's simple, her name means beauty.

King Midas (King Midas and his Golden Touch) - Amitabh Bachchan - Because everything Big B touches... turns to gold. 

Cinderella (Cinderella) - Katrina Kaif - She has what it takes to be the belle of the ball.

Prince (Cinderella) - Salman Khan - It's only fair, if Katrina is to play Cinderella, he plays her fella.

Red Riding Hood (Little Red Riding Hood) - Vidya Balan - After seeing her in "The Dirty Picture", No one will argue how good she looks in red.

Frog Prince (The Frog Prince) - Saif Ali Khan - If you're gonna kiss frogs to find a prince then he's the one every girl probably dreams of - who better to portray the from prince than the Nawaab of Pataudi.

This post wouldn't be complete if we didn't do some characters from SNOW WHITE:

Snow White (Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs) - Kareena Kapoor - Isn't she the fairest of them all (at least in Bollywood)?

Prince Charming (Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
) - Abhishek Bachchan - If nothing else, one thing Abhishek has ample of is... Charm.

Evil Queen (Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
) - Ekta Kapoor - Come on, you saw that one coming.

The Mirror (Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
) - Karan Johar - He's the perfect side kick to Ekta Kapoor, afterall, they are producing a film together.

If you enjoy Fairy Tales and want to learn more about them please click here.

© Anant Mathur. All Rights Reserved.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Oldie Goldies!

By Anant Mathur (March 23, 2012)

Occasionally, I like to inform my readers about new bands or songs which are unique or they may not have heard of. Today is one such day. Below is a list of some old songs which I love and I think you will enjoy, so have a listen and tell me what you think by posting a comment.

George Formby:
Chances are you've probably never heard of this guy. Born in England, in 1904, Formby was a major stage and screen star in the 1930s and 1940s. He sang light, comical songs, accompanying himself on the banjo ukulele or banjolele. Here are some of his songs:

Carmen Miranda:
Carmen Miranda was a Portuguese-born Brazilian samba singer, Broadway actress and Hollywood film star popular in the 1940s and 1950s. She was, by some accounts, the highest-earning woman in the United States and noted for her signature fruit hat outfit she wore in the 1943 movie The Gang's All Here. Her song I, Yi, Yi, Yi (I Like You Very Much) was covered by Alvin and the Chipmunks along with "Cunato Le Gusta" for their 1987 film The Chipmunk Adventure and its soundtrack.

Charlie Kunz:
Kunz was an American-born British musician. Born in Allentown, Pennsylvania in 1896, he made his debut aged six. During World War I he led his own resident band, while working in a munitions factory. He came to England in 1922 as a pianist in a small dance band. His debut as a soloist came in 1934 at the Holborn Empire.

Friday, March 16, 2012

In The Name Of The...Mother?

By Anant Mathur (March 16, 2012)

It's unbelievable how much women have accomplished in the last 100 years, today we take much of it for granted but a century ago most people believed that a woman's place was in the home, they couldn't vote, few of them attend college/universities or worked professionally. Today, women can be found in almost every profession not just teachers or nurses but as CEO's of large corporations, Prime Ministers of Nations, Astronauts, Athletes, Doctors, Lawyers, Scientists, Engineers, etc. It's truly been an inspirational journey.

Considering all that they have accomplish, by changing the thinking of men, it has always troubled me that they haven't been able to perform a simple task; that is, they haven't been able to convince men to take their maiden names as the family name after marriage. There are many women who refuse to change their name after marriage and keep their maiden name, although it's commendable that they have the power to do so, it always surprises me that women can't get the men to take their last name instead.

Keeping religion and personal belief out of it, I don't think there are any reasons why a man can't take his wife's last name. I mean men today are so different (Metro-sexual) than a hundred years ago that it shouldn't be hard to convince today's generation to take the last name of their wives. Most women I know have changed their last names after marriage. Once upon a time it was easily done. Today, it's a big hassle - getting a new passport, credit card(s), license, e-mail address, etc.

The question is are men comfortable with the idea of taking the last name of their wives? Although we may agree that men can take a woman's name, is it possible? What's so special about keeping a certain last name. We scream women power and women are this, women are that, but after marriage we expect the wife to change her name and in most cases she does, why? When she has won so many battles why is a woman so easily persuaded when it comes to changing her name?

Why is this so trivial, why can't women compel their men to take their last name? My personal preference is that they take both last names. A man takes his wife's last name before his own  and a woman does the same. For example, if he's named Mike Smith and she's Amy Jones, he becomes Mike Jones Smith and she becomes Amy Smith Jones. It's an interesting idea, I hope...

© Anant Mathur. All Rights Reserved.

DISCLAIMER: The above post is meant for entertainment purposes only; readers shouldn't take it seriously or interpret it as advice.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Tip # 7: Imagination

By Anant Mathur (March 07, 2012)

Perhaps the two most important ingredients of writing are extensive research and a great Imagination. I have spoken about the importance of research in the past, so this post will be about our limitless imagination.

For a writer imagination is the key to telling a great story, if you've read the works of Jules Verne, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Ruskin Bond, Lewis Carroll, Mark Twain, Ian Fleming, R.K. Narayan, Rudyard Kipling, Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay, J. R. R. Tolkien, William Shakespeare, Agatha Christie, Harivansh Rai Bachchan, H.G. Wells, The Brothers Grimm, J. K. Rowling, etc. - you will agree how imaginative these writers are. They not only know their subject, they researched it well and understood it to such a degree that you could easily believe what they were saying. 

If we take a look at French writer Jules Verne's novel From The Earth To The Moon the story is not just full of imagination but has calculations which show how brilliant the writer is. A lot of the calculations which Jules Verne made came pretty close to what actually is - but he wrote about them more than a century before man ever set foot on the moon. Verne wrote about space, air and underwater travel before air travel and practical submarines were invented, and before practical means of space travel had been devised. Verne was not only a great writer but perhaps one of the greatest minds of his time.

Similarly, J. R. R. Tolkien whose work most of you are probably familiar with if you've read The Lord of the Rings series of books or watched the films by Peter Jackson. Tolkien not only wrote mythological adventure stories with great imagination but was also able to construct several languages unique to his stories.

Like Jules Verne, H.G. Wells also used scientific facts and figures in his writings, but what made his writings a little different than those of Verne were that he used psychology as well. He gets inside the head of his characters and helps the reader understand why the character is behaving the way he is and what's causing him to do the things he does - this can be easily understood if you've read his stories like The Invisible Man, The War of the Worlds, The Island of Doctor Moreau and The Time Machine.
Rudyard Kipling was born in Bombay, India to British parents, though he would live in many places throughout his life, he returned to India many times. Several of his stories and poems (The Jungle Book, Kim, Gunga Din, The Second Jungle Book, etc.) took place in India.

As fantastically imaginative as J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter stories are it's doubtful that she would've written a single word without doing the proper research on wizards and magic. Most writers are inspired by what is happening in their life at the time they're writing a particular work - in the case of Rowling, she used a lot of what she was going through at the time to write situations and characters for Harry Potter.

Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay is one of the most popular Indian writers. His Devdas is easily one of the most recognized characters in Indian literature. Several of his stories have been turned into feature films in many Indian languages - Devdas, in particular, has been made 8 times in Hindi, Bengali and Telugu. Born into poverty in the late 1800s, Sarat Chandra wrote stories which took place in his present time and which were about the common man of that era - their struggles and triumphs - most of his stories were based on his experiences in Bhagalpur where he spent 20 years of his life. His lack of financial stability drastically effected his writings.

Today, most of the shows on Indian television are either reality-based or have writers who lack the imagination of the above mentioned geniuses of our time. I for one ignore reality TV, give me a dose of good imagination any day over these useless reality dramatizations which not only lack imagination but also become repetitive quite fast. Bollywood films are no better, although filmmakers are trying new genre they just don't have the creative abilities to tell a good story in simple terms - they lack imagination. 

There have been very few novelists in India who can stir our imagination. Most Indian novelists today can't write sci-fi the way H.G. Wells or Jules Verne could. The few who are writing are not doing anything which one would consider creative. Once in a long while we get a great book or novel from an Indian writer, but how long must we wait before we have another classic at the same level as Devdas or The Guide? Today a novelist might be able to write a story that gets on the best sellers list, but unlike Devdas and The Guide, they're soon forgotten.

There's more to writing than plot points and characters - Imagination is key. But a great writer is not only someone who has great imagination, it is also someone who has the ability to write a story that can convince the reader that what he has written is believable. Again if we look at Verne, his "From The Earth To The Moon" is a complete departure from "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" which again is a different from "Around The World In Eighty Days", but the one thing all his story have in common is that they are believable and enjoyable for the reader. It's difficult to put down a Jules Verne novel.

It's critical for a writer to experience life. Jules Verne was French but he could write about America, India, China, Europe or any place his heart desired - and it is believable because he combined his great imagination with research and the experiences of his life - great writers have an uncanny ability to do that. If you only have one job, live in one city and have the same friends your entire life your life is quite boring and it's doubtful you've had too many experiences which would fire-up your imagination to the same level as some who has moved around a lot and experienced different parts of the world. If only for a day or a few hours every writer should: work at a gas station or a pizza place or newspaper, ride a horse, take the train, listen to music you normally wouldn't (perhaps even in other languages) travel, discover other cultures, etc. - but while you're doing all this - learn as much as you can, as a writer these experience will grow your imagination.

Ian Fleming is best known for his series of James Bond novels and short stories. But few may know that he also wrote the children's story Chitty Chitty Bang Bang which was later turned into a films starring Dick Van Dyke

Although most novelists pick one genre and continue to write in that direction, a screenwriter must have the ability to write different genres if only to survive in a very competitive industry.

Perhaps the best example of a writer who could easily switch genres is William Shakespeare. It is widely accepted that Shakespeare has covered all the possible plots in his many years of writing. A playwright and a poet, Shakespeare has written 38 plays, 154 sonnets, 2 long narrative poems and several other poems. Shakespeare could write a tragedy, followed by a comedy followed by an adventure story better than anyone. It comes as no surprise then that most of his plays have been adapted into films. He understood his audience perfectly and in many ways was well ahead of his time. 
You know when I started writing this post I thought it would purely be about imagination, but as it turned out a part of it ended up being about how important research is for a writer's imagination. As you can see, research is not only essential for telling a good story but it plays a big part in stimulating the imagination of a writer.

The one thing to take away from this post is that it is extremely important to grow as a screenwriter. A screenwriter who is only able to write a single genre such as Romance, Drama or Mystery has not grown and soon will run out of ideas (there are only so many romantic scenes one screenwriter can write before he gets repetitive - this is why most Indian director have a hard time after their first two films - look at the struggling Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Karan Johar, Ashutosh Gowariker, etc.). Getting your mind away from a genre for a little while will also help you the next time you attempt it. If you've written a Drama, try your hand at Science Fiction next and then do a Comedy or Murder Mystery or combine a couple of genres (the results could surprise you). But always remember to research your subjects, your brain will thank you by taking your imagination to new heights...

© Anant Mathur. All Rights Reserved.