Wednesday, 13 June 2012

New service to offer Bollywood 'On-Demand'

A new online video rental service is offering UK-based fans of Bollywood cinema the chance to enjoy their favourite 'Bolly-flicks' from the comfort of their homes.

Sanona is a brand new on demand film service which allows viewers to stream films direct to their home screens via a PC, Mac or through a TV, in the mould of services such as Lovefilm and Netflix.

The company has already secured a number of content deals with some of India's biggest film studios, including Yash Raj Films, UTV and Reliance Entertainment, giving audiences access to a myriad range of films from the world's most prolific movie business.

The internet Video on Demand service works on a unique Pay Per View model with two tiers of pricing: the Pay As You Go option is ideal for those who like an occasional fix of Bollywood melodrama whilst the Sanona Gold Membership package offers die-hard fans discounted rates on films for a low cost monthly fee.
Aside from Bollywood, Sanona will also offer consumers access to the lesser-well-known but equally prolific sub-continental cinema.

Adam Davies, the founder and CEO of Sanona says: “The Indian film industry releases over 1,000 films a year and less than 10% of them are shown in cinemas in the UK.  We want to give audiences here the opportunity to enjoy some of these films which would otherwise not have a platform.  We are also starting to look at building a library of regional films that serve the Bengali, Punjabi, Gujarati and Tamil speaking communities too.”

Viewers and visitors to the site will also have the opportunity to rate and review films and access the latest news from Bollywood.

For more information, visit
- Poonam Joshi

Susheela Raman to team up with 'Gandu' director at LIFF 2012

Genre-bending British Tamil musician Susheela Raman is to team up with Bengali rapper and filmmaker Kaushik Mukherjee in what is certain to be an explosive, mind-bending musical collaboration as part of the London Indian Film Festival 2012.

Mukherjee - stage name 'Q' - is the controversial director behind 'Gandu': the subversive Bengali film about sexuality and youthful angst in India, which has shocked and entertained audiences at numerous Film Festivals around the world and which will have its UK premier at LIFF which kicks off June 20.

Mercury nominated Raman and Mukherjee will be joined on stage at the BFI Southbank by Mukherjee's band Gandu Circus along with Steve Chandra Savale from the Asian Dub Foundation following the premier of 'Gandu' on June 21.

Festival director, Cary Rajinder Sawhney says: “Gandu Circus is a live Jungle-rap rock performance intercut with stunning visual imagery, with the powerful voice of Susheela Raman making the experience transcendental. The film Gandu was never publicly released in India, especially due to the blatant drug usage, expletives and full frontal sex. It makes the film Shame look tame.”
Much like Raman's folk, jazz, carnatic and trance inspired melodies, Gandu Circus is an amalgam of several visceral music genres, including punk rock, rap and electronica.

The end result of this collaboration, whilst being difficult to categorize, is certain to be an assault on the senses.
Raman says: “I got to know Q on my travels to India and was immediately struck by the intensity and fearlessness he has and which he brings to his work.

I loved the idea of the film being about a rebel rock musician in Kolkata and the taboo-shredding edginess of the whole Gandu concept. He’s a visionary, in terms of pushing boundaries of Indian cinema and it’s a real bonus that he is a musician as well as the filmmaker. We were looking for an opportunity to perform together and the London Indian Film Festival provided just that.”

- Poonam Joshi
Susheela Raman and 'Q' with Gandu Circus will be at BFI Southbank June 21: 8.00pm
Tickets are currently on sale at the BFI Southbank.
The London Indian Film Festival takes place June 20 - July 3:

Ghazal legend Mehdi Hassan passes away

Celebrated Pakistani Ghazal singer Mehdi Hassan has died of multiple organ failure aged 84.

The singer, one of the unique few performers to have enjoyed cross border appeal in Pakistan and India, passed away after being admitted to a hospital in Karachi earlier this week.

Tributes have poured in from around the world for the singer with TV channels broadcasting live and hundreds of fans gathering at the Aga Khan Hospital in Karachi.

Hassan enjoyed a glittering career spanning some 50 years and was considered one of the finest practitioners of the 400-year-old art of Ghazal music.

Hassan - whose funeral will be on Friday - also achieved huge commercial success, providing music for many South Asian films.

Legendary Indian singer Lata Mangeshkar once likened his songs to the "voice of god".
On learning of his death, Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani called Hassan "an icon who mesmerised music lovers" in Pakistan and the sub-continent for decades, AFP news agency reports.
Born in 1927 to a family of traditional musicians in rural Rajasthan, Hassan and his family were forced to migrate to Pakistan at the time of partition in 1947.

He worked as an auto mechanic before his big break in 1957, when he got his first chance on Radio Pakistan as a classical 'thumri' singer.
Over the next 30 years he composed hundreds of songs for Pakistani movies and embraced Ghazals as well, his music proving popular throughout the sub-continent.

In a 1989 interview with the BBC Hindi service, Hassan revealed the history of Ghazal in his family:  "My ancestors use to regale the Royals of Jaipur, Rajasthan in India.  We still have remains of our home around the Amber Fort. And my earlier generations were gifted by the princely state of Jaipur to another royal household called Jhunjhunu in the faraway desert.

"But be it then or now, India or Pakistan, our music is the same, full of devotion."
Hassan became a Pakistani cultural ambassador who visited India.

He cut back on his performances in the late 1980s due to illness, which included a serious lung condition. The severity of his illness forced him to give up all singing by the late-1990s.
In 2010, however, he recorded a duet with Lata Mangeshkar, a long-time admirer, for an album called Sarhadein (Borders), which was released in 2011.

Mehdi Hassan recorded his part of the song in Karachi, while Lata Mangeshkar's part was recorded in Mumbai.
- UKAsian Staff