Monday, January 25, 2010

Five point someone and 3 idiots

Everyone from good friends to the kids in my class told me that I must watch 3 idiots. It has a message, they said.

What, I asked.

We should do what we love to do, success will follow, they said.

Now, any person who has spent time writing a novel does not need a movie to tell her this. In fact, she still does things she loves to, and doesn't care if success follows or will follow or lag behind and take a different turn.

But the hype was too much. The controversy too unnerving.

Chetan Bhagat is one of my favorite writers. And I don't think his writing is simplistic, I find a lot of depth in his books.

In his latest book, Two States, the conflict is resolved when the parents get together and accept their children's love for each other, across two states.

During the wedding ceremony, the father of the bride is questioned by a gossip monger, ' Youngsters these days, they make their own decisions, and we feel so left out from their lives, isn't it ?'

Dad replies, 'I don't see it that way. The love they give each other, that capacity to love another human being, is in fact an extension of our love for them, isn't it?'

I found this overflowing with healing, for it works both ways.

Coming back to 3 idiots, I could not enjoy the movie. I happen to be trained in film making, and the book is too alive within me, as a film and as a book. Comparisons are inevitable, the barefoot on car brake too unforgettable an image to be sacrificed.

Actually, the problem is not changing a few scenes here and there. Rajkumar Hirani took the soul-flow out of the book, and just used the carcass. If he has so much talent, why could he not furnish a new backbone for his story?

Why is integrity so out of fashion in the film industry?

I am so heartbroken that I dont have the words to console Chetan Bhagat.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Eat, pray, love

A big fat book. I realized, among other things, that I have stopped reading fiction. I wonder why? Is it because I spend too much time in meditation, etc? Am I guarding my mind from bad company? ;)

Or is it because I wrote fiction and know how truly fiction is basically a non-extant entity: everything is true, at different levels. And truth is one big endless blog. One can write it, in parts, but who on earth can read a blog that just goes on and on?

Eat pray love is a novel written by Elizabeth Gilbert. The cover is a nice white texture, almost like Khadi. The word 'eat' is written with grated cheese, 'pray' is made of rudraksha beads, and 'love' is of course flowers.

I was told to read this book, about six months ago, by someone who read mine. 'It is very similar,' he said. A few months later, I caught an article which mentioned that Julia Roberts has come to India to star in a movie based on the same book.

So, it was my duty to buy and to read this. And now, it is also my duty to review it. Ok, let me get the jealous bit out. Nope, I am not jealous because this book is a big hit.

My jealousy goes into deeper waters. The seeker in the book is a far more intense character than me. She taps into a higher self while she is crying her heart out, traumatized by a failed marriage. In other words, she meets God the hard way. I have had it so easy. My tears are mostly made of the same stuff as bliss.

Two, she wakes up every morning in an ashram I frequented, at 3:30 am (!) to meditate and to pray. And I am still struggling with two alarms on my mobile that my husband snaps shut without my awareness.

Three, she does not grasshop. She stays put in one ashram in India for six complete months. Not only does she survive it, the reader doesn't get bored either. How this grasshopper wishes she could have been a turtle too.

And four, she has a contract, from a publisher, to seek, to eat, to pray, to love, to travel the world for two years and then to write a book about her travels!

Now that the green stuff is out, let me get to the review.

Eat is interesting, pray is beautiful, love is interesting.

She got to me, when she scrubbed the floors of a temple. A temple I recognized. A temple I prayed to, for devotion. I could kiss her hands for that.

How beautiful, that devotees meet each other in books, on temple floors and wipe each other's tears.

Friday, January 22, 2010

My boy is no 1

After all these years of 'learn for fun, and We don't care for your rank' ideology that I seriously believed in, when my son came first in the science exhibition at school, I had tears in my eyes.

He made a temple with thermo-col in which the Lord Ganesh has a light and a fan that can be switched on and off! It took us three days of experimentation, four lights, four batteries, five sheets of thermo-col, a switch and a motor to finally arrive at the temple.

The execution was done mostly by Thomas Uncle, but the idea and the force behind the endeavor was Pavdu's! I am so proud of him!


"Fulfill your celluloid dreams, every Sunday... Did you harbour a dream of becoming a filmmaker, but ended up pursuing an entirely different profession? Or are you one of those who buried their dreams, while trying to realise more pressing responsibilities? Or do you like to broaden your experiences with learning how things are done in the film industry? There might be good news in store, for such readers... sign up for a Sundays-only course conducted by National Award-winning filmmaker, Rajashree."

MiD DAY, Mumbai Newspaper

"Rajashree is a teacher par excellence. She can make the most difficult topics comprehensible. She is very patient and understanding, yet strict. Her Sunday classes are ideal for students who want to learn hands-on filmmaking without forsaking their responsibilities towards their work or studies. Its well-designed syllabus is practical-oriented; the theory goes into developing a good understanding  of the fundamentals of story-telling and filmmaking. The course requires the students to write and direct a short film, which may be used as a showreel and can also be submitted to film festivals. Films made by the previous batches have been shown at the International Film Festival of India, Goa, the most esteemed film festival in the country."
Complete Television Magazine

Do you want to make feature films, TV shows or short films? But can't spare the time to learn full-time? A new batch of Rajashree's popular 4-month Film & TV Direction Course, with full-day classes on Sundays, in Andheri (W), Bombay, begins in February 2014. It's designed for working people and students by Rajashree, an award-winning film-maker and bestselling novelist who’s taught at FTII, Pune, and some of the best film schools in Bombay. The course is great value for money, since the fees have recently been reduced to Rs 24,900.

We have tied up with Humaramovie, a popular platform for short films with which prominent filmmakers like Anurag Kashyap, Imtiaz Ali, Anurag Basu, Vikramaditya Motwane and Rajat Kapoor have been associated. It has more than a million views per month. We have also tied up with Mediapippl, one of India's best Media Recruitment & Resource Services. They are our placement partners. You would be getting a lot of hands-on practical experience while doing this certificate course, including making a short film. Many films made by students as a part of this course have been screened at the Short Film Center at the prestigious International Film Festival of India, Goa. 

This Sunday course organised by Rajashree is very popular because it has a great faculty, special tie-ups, reasonable fees and a convenient location. And because it gives people the opportunity to learn film-making without leaving their jobs or studies.

So you can now follow your dreams while taking care of your responsibilities.

^_^  Please contact +919769449556 or for more information.

***  “Rajashree taught me how to create 3-dimensional characters, structure the plot, and direct actors, which helped me tremendously when I was writing and directing my movie.” Rakesh Mehta, Rajashree’s ex-student, whose debut feature film, ‘Khuda Kushi’ has won 3 international awards. ***

***  "The next best thing to a course at FTII." - Bharati Hemmady, Rajashree's ex-student.  ***

Rajashree’s Film & TV Direction Course is right for you if you are:

•           A Newcomer to the Film & TV Industry:  The course would equip you to enter the Film and Television Industry professionally as an assistant director and work on feature films, TV programs and advertisements

•           An Animator: You would build on your skills by learning Film & TV Direction. It would make you a better animator, since film-making is such a vital part of animation and special effects. Or, if you want to shift to live action, it would help you do that.

•           A BMM/ BMS Student: The BMS/ BMM course introduces you to various mass media. If you want to specialise in films and TV, this course is just right for you.

•           A Mediaperson who’s learnt on the job: You would benefit from learning the basics formally and getting your fundas clear.

•           A Professional who is already working in the Industry in another capacity: It would help you become a full-fledged director.

•           An Aspiring Short Film-Maker: While our 4-month Film & TV Direction Course is designed for people who want to take up direction as a profession, it also serves film hobbyists. The advent of digital technology and You-tube have revolutionized filmmaking. You can make short films independently at an affordable cost after doing the course. Making short films is ideal for those who want to hone their craft and create an impressive showreel to showcase their talents. It’s also a fun hobby for those who are working full-time. These short films can be shown at film festivals, screened on television, and also uploaded on You-tube & social networking sites for lakhs of people to watch. 

•           From the Corporate Sector: The course would add to your qualifications since films are an increasingly important medium of corporate communication & advertising.

*** "Rajashree is like the energy drink Red Bull! She motivates you to spring into action and pushes you to deliver beyond your limits." - Priya Saraiya, Rajashree’s ex-student. ***

The benefits of joining this Film & TV Direction Course are:

•           FACULTY: The course is organised by Rajashree, an award-winning film-maker and bestselling novelist who has taught at the Film & Television Institute of India and some of the best film schools in Bombay. The faculty members are FTII alumni and professionals from the film industry.

•           SUNDAY CLASSES: Full-day classes on Sundays, so you can pursue your dreams without forsaking the responsibilities of your work or studies.

•           WELL-DESIGNED SYLLABUS: More than 50% of class time would be devoted to hands-on film-making, so that you learn how to transform your ideas into films that light up the silver screen. While the course is practical-oriented, the theory portion would help you develop a sound understanding of the basics of story-telling and Film & TV Direction.

•           STUDENT FILM: You would write and direct a short film. The cinematography and editing would be done by professionals from the Industry, which would be a great learning experience. It would also result in a well-made film which you can be proud of and use as your showreel as well as submit to film festivals.

•           VENUE: The classes will be held in an air-conditioned classroom in Andheri (West).  Since the venue is on S.V. Road, opposite the railway station, it is very easy to reach.

•           VALUE FOR MONEYThe course is fabulous value for money, since the fees have recently been reduced to Rs 24,900 (if the student pays the full amount at the time of registration.) The fees cover the classes, the cost of making the student film, refreshments during classes, a directory of the Film & TV industry and study material like books and cds. A donation of Rs 500 would be given from every student’s fees to a children’s charity.
 •           CERTIFICATE: You would be given a certificate at the successful completion of the course.

•           FILM FESTIVALS: The student films made as part of the course are sent for film festivals. Many films made by previous batches have been screened at the Short Film Center at the International Film Festival of India in Goa.

•           TIE-UP WITH HUMARAMOVIE: We have tied up with Humaramovie for the production and distribution of the short films made by the students as a part of the course. Humaramovie is a platform for short films co-founded by Preety Ali, Pallavi Rohatgi and Vinay Mishra. They have over 26,000 subscribers to their YouTube channel and more than 18,000 Facebook fans. They have a  viewer base of more than a million viewers per month. HumaraMovie is also associated with directors such as Imtiaz Ali, Anurag Kashyap, Anurag Basu, Vikramaditya Motwane and Rajat Kapoor who provide them content for the channel.

•           PLACEMENTS: We have tied up with Medipippl - one of India's best Media Recruitment & Resource Services. They are our placement partners and will help you in getting a job in the Film & TV Industry after you've completed our course. We would also be giving every student a directory of the Film & TV Industry, which has a database of the contact numbers and addresses of all the directors, producers, production houses, actors and service providers of the Indian Film & TV Industry, so that if the student wants to work with a particular director or producer, he/she can contact them directly as well.

•           DEMAND FOR FRESH VOICES: The Indian film and television industry is looking for fresh voices. With the success of 'different' kinds of films and TV programs, there is a demand for out-of-the-box thinking, for directors who understand the art and craft of film-making. It’s a great time to enter the field.

*** "I have had an amazing experience with Rajashree’s script-writing and film-making workshops. The workshops were structured very well and had a good effective blend of relevant theory, creative discussions on assignments, analysis of classics and hands-on experience in writing a script and making a short film. The workshops were conducted very diligently in a focused manner encouraging participation from all students. I found them to be especially useful for working persons as the structure and organization of the workshop accommodated these aspects very well."         - Rajesh V. , ex-student ***

FACULTY: Our faculty members are FTII alumni and professionals from the film industry. Details about some of the teachers on our faculty are given below: 

Rajashree has been a film buff since she was a kid – she stood in a line for five hours to get tickets for Sholay when it was re-released. She has been working in Bombay after studying direction at the Film and Television Institute of India, Poona. She’s assisted Mansoor Khan and Sanjay Leela Bhansali. A film she wrote and directed, The Rebel, was screened at many film festivals, and won the National Award and the Golden Ten Award. She has served as a member of the Executive Committee of the Film Writers’ Association. Her critically acclaimed first book, Trust Me, is a lighthearted romantic comedy set in the Bombay film industry. According to figures given by The Times of India and The Sunday Telegraph, Trust Me is the biggest-selling Indian chick lit novel. It has recently been published in French. She is represented by Isabel Atherton, the director of Creative Authors, a literary agency based in the UK.  She has taught at the Film & Television Institute of India, Pune, and some of the best film schools in Bombay. She has been organising courses independently since 2009.

A.M. Padmanabhan, a National Award-winning sound designer, would teach the students about post-production. He has worked with the who's who of Bollywood and has taught at the Film and Television Institute of India, Pune, and the Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute, Kolkata.

Arun Varma, who has studied Cinematography at the Film & Television Institute of India, Pune, will be teaching the students about camerawork, the various practical aspects of shooting a film and professional behaviour on the set. He has shot Bollywood films like Bhajatey Raho and Dasvidaniya.

Ashok Purang learnt the nuances of theatre under the tutelage of Mr Barry John. He is the founder of two theatre groups Pierrot’s Troupe (estd.1991) & Showbiz Action Players (estd. 2004). For over twenty years, he has been working on Acting Training Methods. He has developed unique and practical methods, which are effective in theatre, as well as TV and films. Being a renowned acting teacher, he has trained a lot of Bollywood actors and upcoming talent. A curator and judge of many short film festivals, Ashok has been a major force behind the new generation of short film makers.

The other faculty members are FTII alumni and professionals from the film industry.


^_^  Please contact +919769449556 or for more information.


Full-day classes on 12 Sundays and 2 Saturdays and half-day classes on 2 Sundays, over 4 months.


The fees have recently been reduced, making the course great value for money. The course fees cover the classes, the cost of making the student film, refreshments during classes, a directory of the Film & TV industry and study material like books and cds. A donation of Rs 500 would be given from every student’s fees to a children’s charity.

There are two plans for paying the fees:

1.         It is preferable if the student pays the full amount at the time of registration. The fees would be Rs 24,900 for this plan.

2.         It is also possible for the student to pay in monthly installments, in the form of post-dated cheques (non-refundable) that would be submitted at the time of registration. The fees would work out to Rs 29,700 if the payment is made in installments.

The first installment: Rs 9,900 (Payable at the time of registration)
The second installment: Rs 9,900
The third installment: Rs 9,900

COMPLIMENTARY REFRESHMENTS: would be provided to the students during classes.

CHARITY : The administration would give Rs 500 from the fees paid by each student to an NGO that’s working for underprivileged children.

The students would be given:
•           Copies of important books
•           Scripts
•           Links to useful websites and free scriptwriting software
•           A directory of phone numbers and addresses of everybody in the Film and TV Industry
•           CDs & DVDs of some important films

COURSE CONTENT: The course has been designed to teach the students the basics of film-making. There is a well-worked-out balance of practicals and theory classes.

The topics that would be covered are:

• The Process of Making a Film 

• Scriptwriting: Audiovisual Writing & the Format for Writing the Synopsis, Step-outline, Screenplay and Script for a film.

• The Elements of Scriptwriting: Characterisation, Plot, Setting & Theme

• Introduction to Screen Grammar: What is a shot? The editing transitions that can be used to join two shots: Cut, Dissolve, Fade, Wipe, Bleach. The various elements of shot-taking: Image Size, Camera Angles, Camera Movements, Lighting, Camera Speed, Stocks, Graphics, Colour. The Rule of Thirds & the Golden Points. Lenses. Depth of Field and Selective Focus.

• Shot Breakdown

• Continuity and the Imaginary Line

• Ways of Shooting

• Preparing for a Shoot

• How to Narrate a Story or Screenplay to Producers & Actors

• Assisting in Direction

• Directing Actors

• Sound Design

• The Principles of Editing

• How to Make Your Own Low-Budget (or No-Budget) film

• Television: Genres & Techniques

• Film History 

^_^  Please contact +919769449556 or for more information.


"I had read quite a few books by Syd Field and Robert McKee but most of them had been written keeping in mind Hollywood  movies. After attending Rajashree's workshop I got to know that Bollywood is a different ball game altogether and what works in Hollywood might not necessarily work in Bollywood, or to make it work you need to add those extra spices (masala) to make it palatable for Indian Audience. If you need to know what works in Bollywood and Tellywood (I mean television) per se, the Bollywood Structure, the Rasas etc., then you must attend her workshop."         - Brijesh Bolar

"To me, Rajashree is like the energy drink Red Bull! She motivates you to spring into action and pushes you to deliver beyond your limits. Without her encouragement, I dont think I would have been able to transform my idea into a screenplay .....And with her encouragement came the right dose of constructive criticism......Also it was a great help to share and brainstorm ideas in the presence of other students and see where your idea stands....It is a relief to see so many people sailing in the same boat as you are and trying to get better and getting there.I was actually groping in the dark when Rajashree came as a ray of hope...."         - Priya Saraiya

"This programme gave me the mechanics of writing for features, along with the confidence. But what Rajashree really did was crack the whip, pushing us constantly to keep writing and keep exploring. The lively discussions were the best part of this programme."         - Satish Desa

"You can't open a door by pushing a wall, this is what I realised in the workshop. Rajashree will not only let you open your thoughts but also direct them to a proper way so that we push the door and not the wall."         - Amit Shukla

^_^  Please contact +919769449556 or for more information.

Friday, January 15, 2010

But, did you enjoy yourselves?

asked the surprised old man, my downstairs neighbor, when I told him gleefully that I was just back from a trip to Tiruvannamalai.

'Not only did I enjoyed myself thoroughly, even the boy had a whale of a time. We went for an early morning inner pradakshina, which ended on a bullock cart. Then we climbed halfway up the Mountain during the solar eclipse and a fellow selling small stone mountains showed us the moon-like sun in the reflection of a pot filled with dark, ink water.' I replied.

'I see.' he said, not convinced at all. 'Isn't this the same place that Ramana Maharshi lived?'

'Yes, Uncle. Same to same. Ramana loved that Mountain so much that he didn't leave it for a day even. He founded the special fevicol that stuck him to Arunachala for his entire life. All the restlessness was over for him. In fact, this special fevicol is available in Ramana ashram. All you need to do is walk around the samadhi a few times, and Bingo!'

'I see.' he said, wondering if I am the same nice woman who gives him prasad every Wednesday. This man badly needs to read my novel, I thought. Maybe I will gift him a copy.

'How come you came here only for a couple of days?' another duffer asked me in Tiru.

'To look at the Mountain.' I replied.

'That is my mantra. Look at the mountain, look at the mountain, look at the Maaunton!' I chanted, lest she start eating my head.

Lord, save me from the monkeys who don't know adrak ka swaad. I mean, I wear a rudraksh mala to declare that I am His servant, that I know nothing better than to love him. What more can I do to avoid being asked, 'But, did you enjoy yourselves?'

For those of you who are silently accusing me of fanaticism, please hear this song. If it can happen to Rajesh Khanna, why not me?

Sunday, January 10, 2010

One day scriptwriting workshop on 3rd October

Soulpen invites you to bring an idea. We will transform it into a scene.

Scriptwriting : The beauty of the audio-visual.

Script-writing is a branch of creative writing. Most of us have grown up watching movies and dreaming. Our dreams are influenced by the movies we love. And movies are made of dreams that are actualized. A script is a movie on paper.

All you need is an idea. An inner feeling. Manifesting this inner feeling into an audiovisual story is the process of writing a script.

The art and craft of visual storytelling has some elementary concepts that need to be internalized. The format. The plot. Importance of conflict. Characterization. Structure. And last, the weave. Or flow.

If you have an inner feeling which glimmers now and then, if you feel that your dream can to be told on a screen, sign up for an introduction to the fundamentals of scriptwriting. We will transform your idea into a scene.

(After this workshop, I will be announcing a two-month weekend film-making workshop in Bangalore).

Venue: Times of India, MG road, Bangalore.

Online option is available. In case you live out of Bangalore, you can still attend the workshop through skype. You will be able to see and hear us, we will see you and hear you too. Mail me at to register for the online option.

Schedule: 3rd October, 10 am to 6 pm ( Just before the lunch break, for about fifteen minutes, we will be doing some stretches : standing yoga postures. This is optional, but highly recommended by the muse.)

Fees: Rs 1,000/ (tea/coffee and writing materials included)

Faculty: Manjushree Abhinav wrote her first two feature film scripts before she joined the Film Institute of India, Pune. She has written scripts for documentary films and short fiction films before writing a novel, 'A Grasshopper's Pilgrimage.'
She has taught script-writing and film making in NID (Ahemedabad), FTII (Pune), and SRISTI (Bangalore). She is also into yoga and healing.

Register : Mail to register or call Manjushree at 9945192862.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Its so simple,

From the Words of the Master,

Swami Nithyananda:

The word ‘love’ is loaded with so many different meanings, interpretations and commentaries. First, let us leave out the idea of selfless and spiritual love. Let is first consider the normal, simple love with all its possessiveness, jealousy and all the side effects it causes! Even that love can do a lot of good for the body and mind. Later we will discuss selfless, spiritual love or mature love.

The other day I was reading an article in a magazine. The title was, ‘Live Forever’. I was amazed to read it. It gave eleven techniques to extend your life by at least twenty years and it was supported by statistics and survey reports. All the eleven techniques were related to love. It said that even caring for a pet animal releases a hormone in us that allows us to live at ease with our body. If caring for our pet animals does so much, surely caring for the husband or for wife will do a lot more!

The article also spoke of how people die early if they are single or widowers and how life is extended with love. It also spoke of how chances of getting cancer or depression are less when you have love in your life. Even what we call ordinary love, simple infatuation, can do miracles for our body and mind. It can give us a deep feeling of healing and wellbeing.

According to Tantra, five types of restlessness happen in a person and all of these can be healed by ordinary love, by the simple caring for one another. Once again, I am not speaking of spiritual love or devotion or selfless love. That comes later