Interview with Author – Mr Saurav Chhawchharia

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So, recently I received the opportunity to converse with Mr Saurav Chhawchharia, author of the best-selling book ‘Once Upon A Time’. The reason why I contacted Saurav was that at just the age of 18 he managed to create this wonderfully complex story and managed to convey it in such a simple way.

#1. Tell me about yourself

I belong to a small town in Rajasthan where nobody even knows what a novel is, for instance, Premchand’s books which were written in Hindi and people don’t even know that it’s called a novel. I didn’t have an audience back then and made use of social media to connect with people. I got some decent education, not the kind you get in Metropolitan cities, but decent enough to teach me a thing or two. Even if you pulled some strings to get ahead, no one would question you. I’ve been a topper all throughout my school life, however, when I approached my school teachers for help, even they didn’t have answers to the questions I asked. I participated in various writing competitions after my Board exams and have mentioned the same in my book, ‘Once Upon A Time’ of how I began writing as a career. These competitions paid a good amount of money in US Dollars and I had a three-month long vacation and hence it was a win-win.

After about three to four months of participating in competitions, I stumbled upon the idea of writing a novel. I wrote a book, which I completed writing in four months and was rejected by about 80 publishers, which I eventually discarded. I wrote another book which again got rejected, time and again I kept writing and all of those books kept getting rejected. I didn’t have the financial support at the time to self – publish my books, ‘Once Upon A Time’ is my third book which talks about my struggle of how I kept failing at writing each time. My book answers the questions of many people out there who aspire to write.

#2. Did you have any other inspirations for this story?

Khaled Hosseini’s book ‘The Kite Runner’ has given me the inspiration to write and he’s so beautifully portrayed each character, he has a special place in my heart. Agatha Christie, on the other hand, is my favourite author.

#3. Do you have a writing schedule?

No, I don’t follow any routine as such. Currently, I’m a CA Article and have to go to work on a daily basis. Earlier when I went for Coaching Classes, I had to maintain a balance between studies and writing and never followed a routine, since I did not want to compromise on either. Moreover, I think a lot about how I’d be able to bring my story forward and until I don’t get a concrete idea of it, I don’t go ahead with writing.

#4. How difficult is it to come up with an original story?

It’s really simple. The idea is to put aside all the books you’ve read and put away your phone and other means of communication, so as to prevent you from getting ideas from various platforms. I’m currently writing a book which would hopefully be published in 2019. It’s a love story of the 1980s and we know that a lot of Indian authors write about the same. To prevent from writing some story that already exists, I used social media to see what stories had been written by other writers to prevent chalking-up the same stories.

#5. What are your hobbies apart from writing?

I enjoy travelling.

#6. What are your favourite books and favourite authors?

Like I had mentioned earlier, my favourite authors are Agatha Christie and Khaled Hosseini. Apart from them, I don’t really read. The maximum that I can read in a year is probably 5 books.

#7. Do you feel that not being an avid reader could actually help with creating more original stories?

I feel that one should read the books of a different genre from what they write, for instance, an author who writes about thrillers should read about different genres like romances, fantasy, science fiction except for thrillers and that would help one with creating an original story.

#8. How did your friends and parents react to you becoming an author?

I have a few good friends who’ve motivated and supported me and I’m grateful for the same. My parents didn’t react much to me becoming an author, but they are fine with it.

#9. Do you have another career in mind or have you decided to stick to writing or do you want to maintain a balance between both?

Although I’m currently a CA Article, I plan on pursuing writing. In fact, I would pursue a career in absolutely anything if I were good at it, for instance, acting and singing.

#10. What is your next book going to be about?

I’m currently engaged in a collaboration with three other authors and all the four of us will be writing one novel. The one about the love story will be published after this collaboration.

#11. Do you want to stick to writing about love stories or would you want to explore other genres?

I will try to explore whatever is unexplored.


I want to thank Saurav for taking time out of his schedule to speak with me. I would like to wish him best of luck in all his future endeavours. 

I would also like to thank Gayatri Jhala of gayatriskincaretips for transcribing this interview for me on such a short notice. 

Saurav is available on the all social platforms mentioned below:

Instagram: @iamsauravc

Twitter: @talktosaurav

You can buy Saurav’s book ‘Once Upon A Time’ by clicking here – https://amzn.to/2rXYGCI

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‘This play will teach you how to live’ – The Salaam Noni Appa Press Conference

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Poster for Salaam Noni Appa

The Salaam Noni Appa Press Conference took place at the Le Prive World Cuisine & Pizzeria on March 23rd at the Le Prive in Vadodara, Gujarat. The conference featured the main cast and a few members of the Vadodara Vibrant Round Table & the Vadodara Vibrant Ladies Circle.

Here’s a list of the cast members:

1.) Mrs. Lillete Dubey – Noni

2.) Mrs. Jayati Bhatia – Binnie

3.) Mr. Yatin Karyekar – Anandji

4.) Mr. Rishi Khurana – Baburam

5.) Ms. Gillian Pinto – Malika

Before I write further about the press conference, I would like to take a quick detour and tell you guys about the Vadodara Vibrant Round Table & the Vadodara Vibrant Ladies Circle. Members of both groups gather together and conduct various events for themselves and the public for fun, camaraderie, and community service. These generous people via their professional capacities and businesses partake in community service for the needy. Also, all activities are carried out by the members on a voluntary basis.

And so, in a similar vein of charity & generosity, Salaam Noni Appa was organized by both the committees with the dual-purpose of raising funds and bringing in some top-notch entertainment to the Banyan City.  You’ll be glad to know that the funds collected from the ticket sales of the play will be used to build infrastructure for the underprivileged children belonging to schools in Mandala & Kadwal.

So, now let’s get back to our play.

Directed/acted by Lillete Dubey & adapted by Adhir Bhatt from Twinkle Khanna’s second novel ‘The Legend of Laskmi Prasad’ Salaam Noni Appa’s – a delightful and heart-warming tale of an autumn romance.  The story revolves around two sisters, Noni & Binnie, and the circumstances they find themselves in.

Mrs. Dubey during the press conference applauded the efforts of Vibrant Vadodara Round Table & Ladies Circle by talking about the activities they were going to carry out by using the proceeds from the ticket sales:

We’re very happy that we’re doing this play for the Round Tablers & Circlers, who’re doing some really meaningful work in the field of Education like establishing classrooms in schools, making compounds walls, toilets etc.

Mrs. Jayati Bhatia, who’s playing the role of Binnie, said that the play will rejuvenate people and remind them of how to live once again:

You know we always have that feeling of ‘I would like to do something for the people in need’ and this play in some ways depicts that. Also, people who’re feeling down with their lives should see this play, as it’ll teach you how to live once again.

Mr. Rishi Khurana, playing the role of Baburam talked about his love for Gujarat, and the first lesson his acting guru taught him when he began working in theatre:

I love Gujarat. I used to work on a TV show called ‘Saas Bina Sasural’ which had a pretty strong Gujarati following. It’s been a long time since I’ve worked in theatre, but now, fortunately, I’ve got this opportunity to work on this wonderful play.

When I first started working in theatre, the first lesson that my guru taught me was that to be a good actor you need to be a good person because if you can feel genuine emotions then you can portray those said emotions, which’s why I became an actor in the first place. So, even if a few people get to laugh through my work on the stage, then I’ll believe that my life has been successful.

Finally, Mr. Yatin Karyekar spoke about working with Mrs. Dubey:

The reason why I did this play was that I wanted to work with her (Lillete Dubey). She asked me, ‘will you able to do comedy?’ and I said ‘Yeah, if you teach me.’ I’m here to learn and learning from the master, so I didn’t worry too much.

And then later I learned that both Jayati & Rishi are a part of the ensemble so I thought that this was going to be a blast. All these guys helped me so much, and it reflects in my work on the stage.

 

Interview with Director – Mr Amshan Kumar

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I’m here at the 16th Pune International Film Festival, and today I received the opportunity to watch Director Amshan Kumar’s second feature film Manusangada or Cry Humanity. The film, set in the Ammiappan Village in Tamil Nadu, focuses on the trials & tribulations of Kolappan, a Dalit, who wants nothing but to just bury his deceased father’s body by traversing the common ground.

Post-screening, Mr. Kumar was kind enough to grant me two minutes of his time to ask him a few questions.

1.) Did you face any problems, creatively or production-related, while making this film?

Creatively it was not a problem. I loved it. Staging it was very difficult because these things really took place, not just in the past, but in fact very recently as 2016,  also I didn’t want to do it in a studio set-up. I wanted to do it in a place similar to where it happened, of course not exactly in the same place where the incident took place because that’s not possible, but in a place similar to that.

So, when you shoot a film in a village, and when you shoot openly about a caste issue, the problems you face are at times insurmountable. People are ready to pounce on you, snatch your camera, and other things in the same vein. They (villagers) don’t want these practices to be exposed, so yeah, that was a very tough task.

2.) There are quite a few shots in the film where it almost looks like they’re filming a documentary about these characters. So, was that intentional?

Yes, yes because it’s a true story. We’re not glossing over anything. We’re not putting a show or anything. So, if you see the movie, this entire story takes place over three days, and the actors are all wearing the same shirts because they’re all mourning, which means they cannot go and change shirts.

Also, there’s no make-up at all, except for the TV Anchor — only she does some touch-up. We made sure dress-up the actors very minimally, and the locale was similar to the place where this incident took place.

3.) What are your future projects?

Well, I’ve already made two films about Dalits, the first one was called Oruththi. Third film I don’t whether I’ll do the same thing or whether I’ll do something else.

 

PIFF ’16 News: Films declared for the Marathi Film Competition, Raj Kapoor Retrospective, and more

 

(L-R) Makrand Sathe, Samar Nakhate, Dr. Jabbar Patel, Bhupendra Canthola, Prakash Magdum, Abhijeet Randive.JPG

(From L-R) Makrand Sathe, Samar Nakhate, Dr. Jabbar Patel, Bhupendra Canthola, Prakash Magdum, Abhijeet Randive

 

With only six days to go for the 16th Pune International Film Festival (PIFF), additional information was revealed yesterday in Pune, at a press conference — helmed by Festival Director Dr. Jabbar Patel —regarding the various competitions and events to be conducted throughout the festival.

Alongside Dr. Patel, festival officials such as Mr. Abhijit Randive, Mr. Makrand Sathe, and Mr. Samar Nakhate were also present during the conference. Mr. Bhupendra Canthola and Mr. Prakash Magdum, Directors of FTII (Film & Television Institute of India) & NFAI (National Film Archive) respectively, were also in attendance at the press conference.

At the conference, the first order of business included announcing the seven movies taking part in the Marathi Film Competition. Aside from previously released films like — Muramba, Faster Fene, and Kaccha Limbu — the competition will also see unreleased movies such as Pimpal, Ziprya, Nashibvaan, and Mhorkya, join the fray.

Plus, the officials announced that the inauguration of the “Raj Kapoor Retrospective” will be done by screening the universally-acclaimed 1973 hit love-story, Bobby. His other seminal hits such as Mera Naam Joker, Sangam, Shree 420, and Aag will also be shown under this section. Furthermore, Rishi Kapoor & Randhir Kapoor will be present at the event to handover priceless negatives of 23 Raj Kapoor’s films.

PIFF will also pay homage to deceased members of the film fraternity such as Vinod Khanna, Reema Lagoo, Kundan Shah, Shashi Kapoor, and Shyama by screening their most well-known films.

PIFF will conduct special screening of movies such as Teen Kanya, Parineeta, Avargal, Gejje Pooje, and Sankarabharanam, which tackle social issues concerning women.

Dr. Patel later spoke about PIFF’s newest initiative called the PIFF Forum. He explained that the forum will allow aspiring writers, producers, and directors to connect with each other through various activities.

The key intention of PIFF Forum is to educate those interested in filmmaking without letting it become dull or stale. One can directly interact with several successful and reputed film personalities.

From January 13th to January 17th PIFF will hold a myriad of workshops and sessions on scriptwriting, films of Raj Kapoor, a discussion on Film Preservation, and much more.

 

The 16th Pune International Film Festival has finally arrived; Youth to be the central theme of the festival

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Cinephiles all over the country rejoice as the 16th Pune International Film Festival draws near. The highly-anticipated film festival returns to Maharashtra’s Educational City with its 16th edition commencing from the 11th of January and ending on the 18th of January, with “Youth” as its central theme.

(R-L) Abhijeet Ranadive, Ravi Gupta, Dr. Jabbar Patel, Sabina Sanghavi and Satish Alekar at PIFF Press Conference.JPG

(R-L) Abhijeet Ranadive, Ravi Gupta, Dr. Jabbar Patel, Sabina Sanghavi and Satish Alekar at PIFF Press Conference

This was announced by Festival Director Dr. Jabbar Patel during a Press Conference held in the city today. He commented on the theme of this year’s festival by saying that:

The greatest wealth and strength of any nation is in its youth. The entire world is eyeing India as a source of skilled young and energetic manpower. India being a youth-centric country, films could be the best medium to motivate the masses and create awareness about it. PIFF being renowned for providing a responsible platform for such initiatives will contribute towards encouragement through creativity.

Alongside Dr. Patel — PIFF Secretary Ravi Gupta, Creative Head & Selection Committee Member Abhijit Randive, Trustees Dr. Mohan Agashe, Satish Alekar, also serving as Selection Committee Member, & Sabina Saghvi were present at the Press Conference.

Festival Director Dr. Patel spoke in detail about the upcoming festival and shed light on the number of films accepted for the 2018 PIFF World Competition:

The 8 day long PIFF will showcase about 200 plus films carefully selected from 1008 films received from across the globe. Out of the films received 14 have been selected for the World Competition Section.

To check out the films selected for this year’s World Competition SectionClick Here.

Furthermore, Dr. Patel spoke regarding the multiple screening venues for the festival and other myriad activities that will take place under the banner of PIFF:

PIFF 2018 will be showcased in 10 screens at 5 different venues located in Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad. City Pride Kothrud is the main venue for the festival. City Pride Satara Road, Mangala Multiplex, National Films Archives of India (NFAI) are the other venues. A venue in the Pimpri Chinchwad area would also be announced shortly. As always, the festival would be loaded with workshops, seminars, panel discussions

Speaking on the topic of this year’s Retrospective Section, PIFF Secretary Mr. Ravi Gupta revealed that as a part of the worldwide ‘Bergman Centenary Celebrations’ PIFF will feature films of the late Ingmar Bergman. In addition to Bergman, PIFF, as a part of the Retrospective Section, will also feature films by the late Raj Kapoor.

The non-competitive section of PIFF 2018 includes Student International Section, Just Juries,  Global, Asian, Indian Cinema, Country Focus on Argentina and Italy, Kaleidoscope, Retrospective, Youth, Documentaries, Marathi Cinema Today, and Tribute.

The online registration for delegates is available at www.piffindia.com

Interested delegates can fill the form online and get an acknowledgment number for reference. Once the online registration is completed they can visit spot registration desks at the venues City Pride Kothrud, City Pride Satara Road and Mangala Multiplex. The spot registration will commence from December 20th and will be available from11.00am to 7.30pm.

For students and Film Club members (with valid ID) and senior citizens (over 60 years), the catalog fee is at a discounted rate of Rs.600/-  whereas for the open category it is Rs.800/-.