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Toonz to Honour Aabid Surti, Biren Ghose at Animation Masters Summit

admin   May 6, 2022

The five-day Animation Masters Summit, where Aabid Surti and Biren Ghose will be honoured by Toonz, will include sessions by a galaxy of stalwarts from diverse fields of media and entertainment across the world

Artist, writer and activist Aabid Surti, and animation industry veteran and Country Head, Technicolor Creative Studios, Biren Ghose will be honoured at the 2022 edition of Animation Masters Summit. Organised by Toonz Media Group, the virtual Summit will be held from May 23 to 27, 2022 over the Zoom platform.

Surti, 87, has made significant contributions towards popularising cartoons and graphic novels in Indian languages in a career spanning over six decades. He is the creator of several memorable characters such as Dhabbuji, Inspector Azad, Doctor Chinchu and the much-loved Indrajal comic superhero Bahadur. A prolific author, he bagged the National Award in 1993 for his short story series titled `Teesri Aankh’. Having passed out of one of India’s oldest art institutions the JJ School of Art in Mumbai, Surti is also an acclaimed painter known for experimenting and developing innovative and critically acclaimed painting techniques.

The Animation Master Summit Jury was Chaired  by industry veteran Ashish SK. Announcement to the key AMS Legends Award &  AMS Indian Animation Special Contribution Award was done at the Closing ceremony of GAFX 2022 at Bangalore on the 29th April 2022. At this GAFX Show in Bangalore the AMS jury Chairman declared the two prestigious awards the AMS Legend Award this year is being bestowed on veteran artist, writer and activist Aabid Surti. Mr Surti is noted for creating and popularizing cartoons and graphic novels in Indian languages through colourful characters like Dhabbuji, Bahadur, Inspector Azad, Doctor Chinchu and many more. Mr Surti has also made significant contributions to water conservation through his organization Drop Dead Foundation.

We will also be honouring a leader from the Indian AVGC industry with the Special Contribution to the Indian Animation Industry Award. And I am elated to let you all know that this year we are honouring Technicolor India chief Biren Ghose with this award. Biren is a prominent figure in the Indian AVGC scene. As a thought leader and business head of some of the most prominent entertainment companies, Biren has made invaluable contributions in the growth and development of the AVGC ecosystem in India over the years. It is our privilege to honour him with the AMS Special Contribution to the Indian Animation Industry Award. In picture P Jayakumar, Ashish SK and Biren Ghose during GAFX Valedictory

In recent years, Surti has made a mark with his activism in water conservation through his organisation Drop Dead Foundation, which was started as an initiative to provide free plumbing service for residents in suburban Mumbai. Surti personally leads his NGO in fixing an average of around 400 taps a year after visiting close to a thousand homes.

For his contributions to art and society Aabid Surti will be awarded the Legend of Indian Animation Award at Animation Masters Summit 2022.

Biren Ghose is a prominent figure in the Indian AVGC (Animation Visual Effects Gaming and Comics) scene. As a thought leader and business head of some of the most prominent entertainment companies, Ghose has made significant contributions in the growth and development of the AVGC ecosystem in India over the years. He also holds several important roles in government and quasi-government agencies, institutions and trade bodies.

Ghose will be honoured with the Special Contribution to the Indian Animation Industry Award at the Summit for his overall contributions to the industry. Both the awards will be presented at the inaugural session of Animation Masters Summit on May 23.

P Jayakumar, CEO – Toonz Media Group, said, “Animation Masters Summit is Toonz’s flagship annual event where we provide a platform for young artists and students to interact with veterans in the field of art and entertainment.

The AMS awards have been instituted to honour legends in the field of art. Mr Aabid Surti is a true legend in this regard, having made his mark in multiple streams of art from painting to cartoon, to writing. After a scintillating career of more than 60 years, he continues to work tirelessly focusing more on social and environmental issues now. He is an inspiration for not just artists but for everyone. It is a privilege for us to present this year’s Legend Award to Mr Surti.”

He added: “Mr Biren Ghose, who is being awarded the Special Contribution Award, has helped build the AVGC ecosystem in India with his visionary leadership. As a mentor and industry spokesperson he also played a significant role in fostering a strong and cohesive animation and VFX community in India.”

The five-day Animation Masters Summit will include sessions by a galaxy of stalwarts from diverse fields of media and entertainment across the world. Google India Country Head and Vice President Sanjay Gupta will deliver the keynote address at the inaugural session.

Master sessions in the following days will be led by renowned artists and creators including Belgian director-producer Paul Demeyer who has worked on shows like Mission Force One, The Rocketeer and the Rugrats series and movie; Emmy Award-winning composer Wendell Hanes who is best known for supervising the music for the Netflix sitcom Family Reunion; Ravishankar Venkateswaran, maker of the first ever Sanskrit animation feature Punyakoti; Chief Creative Officer at Ogilvy India Sukesh Nayak and Arjun Reddy, co-founder and CTO of India’s biggest NFT ecosystem GuardianLink.


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Vijay Deverakonda: The Lovable ‘Rowdy’

admin   May 8, 2020

In an industry dominated by influential families and their wards, Vijay Deverakonda’s rise to stardom is an impressive story which itself can be made into a film.

Deverakonda, one of the popular young actors of Telugu film industry, or Tollywood, says his family used to call him a rowdy every time he did something not approved by them. Over time, he started to use the term for himself and his fans. And, he has been staying true to the sobriquet with his outspoken views and bold acts. Let’s have a look some of his films.

DEAR COMRADE (Telugu, 2019)

Genre: Romantic action drama
Director: Bharat Kamma
Starring: Vijay Devarakonda, Rashmika Mandanna and Shruti Ramachandran
Producer: Mythri Movie Makers and Yash Rangineni
Streaming on Amazon Prime

The film was made in Telugu and simultaneously dubbed in Tamil, Malayalam and Kannada. It was theatrically released on 26 July 2019 in all four languages

Bobby (Vijay Deverakonda), a hot-headed student union leader, falls in love with Lily (Rashmika), a state-level cricketer. But soon his anger issues become a roadblock on his way to unite with Lily.

GEETHA GOVINDAM (Telugu, 2018)

Genre: Romantic comedy
Director: Parasuram
Starring: Vijay Deverakonda, Rashmika Mandanna
Producer: Bunny Vasu
Streaming on ZEE5

‘Geetha Govindam’ is one of the biggest hits of Telugu cinema in 2018. Subbaraju, Nithya Menon, Rahul Ramakrishna, and Nagendra Babu play supporting roles. The movie garnered the attention of audience in other languages too, mainly due to its song ‘Inkem inkem inkem kaavali…’ (music by Gopi Sunder).

The story is about Vijay Govind (Vijay Deverakonda), a young lecturer in a college, wishes to get married at the earliest. He tries to woo Geetha (Rashmika Mandanna), an independent and a level-headed woman, who is not easy to convince.

MAHANATI (Telugu, 2018)

Genre: Bio-pic
Director: Nag Ashwin
Starring: Keerthy Suresh, Dulquer Salmaan, Samantha Akkineni, Vijay Devarakonda, Rajendra Prasad, Prakash Raj, Bhanupriya and Shalini Pandey
Producer: Priyanka Dutt
Streaming on Amazon Prime

Filmed simultaneously in Telugu and Tamil, with the latter titled ‘Nadigaiyar Thilagam’, the film is based on the life of legendary actress Savitri, which was played by Keerthy Suresh, while Dulquer Salmaan, in his Telugu debut, plays the role of Gemini Ganesan.

It follows Savitri’s life, depicting her turbulent rise to prominence, marriage with Gemini Ganesan, and subsequent fall from grace, which is viewed from the perspective of a journalist and a photographer, which is played by Samantha and Deverakonda.

Though Deverakonda’s role in this film is like an extended cameo, he performed well in whatever space was available to him.

ARJUN REDDY (Telugu, 2017)

Genre: Romantic drama
Director: Sandeep Vanga
Starring: Vijay Deverakonda, Shalini Pandey
Producer: Pranay Reddy
Streaming on Amazon Prime, Disney+hotstar

The film tells the story of Arjun Reddy Deshmukh (Deverakonda), a high-functioning alcoholic surgeon who has anger management problems.

Arjun is on a self-destructive path after the marriage of his girlfriend Preethi Shetty (Pandey); the film focuses on his downfall and subsequent resurgence.

The film went on to receive six nominations at the 65th Filmfare Awards South, including Best Telugu Film, Best Telugu Director for Sandeep Vanga and Best Telugu Actor for Deverakonda, the film’s only win at the ceremony.

PELLI CHOOPULU (Telugu, 2016)

Genre: Romantic comedy
Director: Tharun Bhascker Dhaassyam
Starring: Vijay Deverakonda, Ritu Varma
Producer: Raj Kandukuri, Yash Rangineni
Streaming on SunNXT

Partly based on real life incident of ‘Spitfire BBQ’ food truck, the film revolves around a boy and a girl who meet during a match-making and how their aspirations bring them together forms the rest of the story.

The film provided breakthrough for the film’s cast and crew. It won two National Film Awards for Best Telugu film, and Best Screenplay – Dialogues, two Filmfare Awards, and the SIIMA Award for Best Film.

YEVADE SUBRAMANYAM (Telugu, 2016)

Genre: Coming-of-age drama
Director: Nag Ashwin
Starring: Nani, Vijay Deverakonda, Malavika Nair, Ritu Varma, Krishnam Raju
Producer: Priyanka Dutt, Swapna Dutt
Streaming on SunNXT

Debut movie of director Nag Ashwin, the film stars Nani as the title character, a corporate man who sets out on a journey of self-discovery.

Produced by Priyanka Dutt and Swapna Dutt, the film also features Vijay Deverakonda, Malavika Nair, Ritu Varma, Krishnam Raju, Nassar, and Kireeti Damaraju in supporting roles.

Much of the filming took place at the Everest Base Camp, becoming the first Indian film to be shot at the location. The film gave a break to Vijay Deverakonda who won high praise for his performance, allowing him to take up lead roles following this film.

NUVVILA (Telugu, 2011)

Genre: Romantic comedy
Director: Ravi Babu
Starring: Ajay, Havish, Yami Gautam, Vijay Deverakonda, Prasad Barve, Sarayu and Remya Nambeesan.
Producer: Ramoji Rao
Streaming on YouTube Movies

Ravi Babu introduced six new faces with this film in lead roles.

The film features music by Shekar Chandra and is produced by Ramoji Rao. This movie marks the debut of Vijay Deverakonda. Three young men, Anand, Mahesh and Raju work at the same pizza joint. They are busy pursuing their dreams until cupid strikes and things get complicated,.


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Indie Resurgence

admin   August 29, 2019

Driven by a fresh burst of energy, a new breed of independent filmmakers are delivering films based on their own individualistic visions, erasing the gap between the socially meaningful and the commercially viable Indian cinema – By Saibal Chatterjee

Mediocrity is mainstream Indian cinema’s comfort zone. It has always been. But today, being middling is more than just an old habit for filmmakers seeking easy ways to achieve runaway commercial success. It has become a necessity. Low-grade, star-driven commercial cinema and its purveyors are being gleefully embraced by both the masses and the official agencies charged with the promotion of film culture in the country.

It is hardly surprising, therefore, that an unabashedly misogynistic film like
Arjun Reddy hits the box-office bull’s eye. Its Hindi remake, Kabir Singh, made by the same director with a different actor, does even better.

Another easy-to-sell category of cinema has emerged, especially in Mumbai, over the past few years: adulatory biopics and puff jobs. These are films that are either aggressively jingoistic (Uri: The Surgical Strike, RAW: Romeo Akbar Walter) or are unabashed extended, fictionalized public service adverts (Toilet: Ek Prem Katha). Taking the line of least resistance pays instant dividends. These films not only make pots of money but also often go on to win national awards at the cost of essays that are leagues ahead in cinematic terms.

But for a new breed of independent filmmakers who are consciously pulling away from the crowd and following their own individualistic visions to deliver films aimed at erasing the gap between the socially meaningful and the commercially viable, Indian cinema today would have worn the looks of a hopeless wasteland.

Mercifully, even filmmakers working in the mainstream space – Pa. Ranjith and Vetrimaaran in Chennai and Anurag Kashyap and Anubhav Sinha in Mumbai – do not shy away from hitting political hot-buttons and questioning gender presumptions in stories couched in popular narrative formulations.

When Vetrimaaran makes Vada Chennai, he ensures that it isn’t any ordinary gangster flick. He infuses it with a social resonance that communicates truths about a city and society in ways that are beyond the reach of less clued-in filmmakers. Pretty much the same is true of Pa. Ranjith. His two Rajinikanth vehicles, Kabali and Kaala, have a strong caste struggle sub-text delivered in a style that never strays into the preachy and boring. Ranjith also recently produced Mari Selvaraj’s Pariyerum Perumal, the story of a boy from an oppressed caste struggling to ward of continuing discrimination.

Ranjith is now in the midst of directing his first Hindi-language film – a drama based on the life of tribal freedom fighter Birsa Munda. The choice of hero is a natural progression for a filmmaker whose cinema has probed the place of the deprived and dispossessed in a society where power flows from religious identity and caste allegiance.

Important elements dovetailed into the plot of Anurag Kashyap’s boxing drama Mukkabaaz also reflects the political consciousness of the maker. The ills of the caste system have also been laid bare in stark detail in Anubhav Sinha’s Article 15. The film is a worthy follow-up to Sinha’s Mulk, which addressed the issue of Islamophobia head-on. We might argue that Indian films still haven’t gone far enough to call out patriarchy and the Brahmanical order. But the very fact that some films are making an attempt, no matter a feeble, is itself a sign of the changing times.

A fresh burst of energy is driving independent filmmakers not just in Tamil
Nadu and Kerala but also in Mumbai. The primary space in debutant Madhu C. Narayanan’s Malayalam film Kumbalangi Nights, scripted by Syam Puskaran, is the home of four brothers who have no woman in their lives. The siblings are all flawed, scalded individuals until women enter their lives and make them see life and love in a different light. The film is an examination of masculinity that turns the entire notion of patriarchy on its head.

Thiagarajan Kumararaja’s daringly innovative multi-plot drama Super Deluxe is a film that throws caution to the wind and yet comes with such astounding formal precision that one cannot but watch in awe and applaud. Kumararaja throws four sub-plots into a giant, constantly whirring grinder and emerges with a film so fascinating and so wondrously inventive that one is caught by surprise at every turn.

Super Deluxe subverts our expectations at every turn. A couple is thrown into turmoil following the death of the woman’s ex-boyfriend in her bed. A father of a boy returns to his family after a seven-year absence in the guise of a transwoman. A schoolboy who bunks school with his friends to watch a pornographic film flies into a rage on discovering that his mother is an adult movie actress. Four friends get into terrible tangle with the underworld in an attempt to wriggle out of a minor jam.

The fast-paced, almost breathless film delivers a dazzling kaleidoscope of an urban landscape where every single day is as strange and disconcerting as the previous one. Super Deluxe is testimony to what younger Tamil filmmakers are capable of as storytellers and craftsmen.

The new Malayalam cinema, too, is going through a wonderfully fecund phase. Three films made by Kerala directors are in two of world’s major festivals this year. Sanal Kumar Sasidharan’s Chola (Shape of Water) premieres at the Venice Film Festival while Lijo Jose Pellissery’s Jallikattu and Getu Mohandas’s Moothon are in the Toronto International Film Festival. Sasidharan’s S Durga won the Hivos Tiger Award at the International Film Festival of Rotterdam a couple of years ago, the first Indian film to bag the prize.

Lijo is, of course, also a name to reckon with. He is in the midst of a urple patch., Before Jallikattu, he delivered two absolutely stunning films – Angamaly Diaries and Ee. Ma. Yau – both of which prove his grasp over the medium and his phenomenal ability to handle a multiplicity of actors within single uninterrupted sequences.

The first world that spring to mind when watching a Lijo film is dynamism, the kind that can be extremely infectious. It would be no exaggeration if we were to suggest that he, along with Sasidharan, are the ones who are propelling the resurgence of Malayalam cinema on the global stage. We expect more surprises as filmmakers from Kerala reclaim the place they had in international festivals in the 1980s and a part of the 1990s.


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Shahid’s Kabir Singh Becomes Top-Grossing Film of 2019

admin   July 9, 2019

Shahid Kapoor-starrer Kabir Singh has emerged as the highest-grossing film of 2019 (July 8, 2019) with the box office collection inching towards Rs 250 crore in its third week, surpassing Vicky Kaushal’s Uri: The Surgical Strike (lifetime collection Rs 246 crore) and Salman Khan’s Bharat (Rs 211 core).

Kabir Singh is a remake of Telugu film Arjun Reddy and expectations are that the film would touch Rs 300 life-time collection. The film has been released in over 2,000 theatres across India.

Jointly produced by Cine1 Studios and T-Series, Shahid Kapoor plays title character Kabir Singh, Kiara Advani is Preeti, Suresh Oberoi plays the role of Shahid’s father (Rajdheer Singh) and Adil Hussain is the dean of the college.

Film critic Saibal Chatterjee commented that “Shahid Kapoor stretches himself very thin indeed in trying to convince us that Kabir Singh is a present-day incarnation of Devdas that we should shed tears for. But the man he portrays does not suffer quite as irreversibly as the classic tragic hero did. But he raves and rants through his ordeal and would have us believe that he is more sinned against than sinning. Sorry, we aren’t buying that”.

Film critic Shubhra Gupta gave 1.5 ratings in her Indian Express Review. Raja Sen gave 1.5 ratings in Hindustan Times. CNN IBN and Network 18’s Rajeev Masand gave 2 stars. Many described the film as misogynistic and patriarchal.

Despite mixed reviews by film critics and its controversy on social media, Kabir Singh is a smashing hit and has been well-received by Shahid Kapoor fans.