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I don’t miss journalism anymore, says author turned producer Ram Kamal Mukherjee

Ram Kamal Mukherjee
Ram Kamal Mukherjee (Picture source: www.ramkamalmukherjee.com)

Former Editor-In-Chief of Stardust and former Vice President of Pritish Nandy Communications Ram Kamal Mukherjee, in an interview with Nation Next, speaks about his latest writing venture Long Island Iced Tea, his biography on Hema Malini titled ?Hema Malini: Diva Unveiled and his foray in production through his production house Assorted Motion Pictures Pvt Ltd. Mukherjee, who’s worked with many leading publications including Mumbai Mirror and Mid Day, lets his guards off as he tells us how Bollywood is a PR-driven industry with actors who have become more image conscious and more… Excerpts:

First of all, what led you to write the book Long Island Ice Tea?? What anecdotes and experiences from your personal life inspired you to write this

This book is a by-product of my loneliness in Mumbai. These stories were conceived during my early days of journalism in Stardust. After shifting my base from my hometown Kolkata to Mumbai, I had to make my own world. Managing Director of Magna House, Nari Hira, was kind enough to provide me with an accommodation next to our office. Though the room was nothing less than a matchbox, I could feel a sense of freedom. For someone who lived in a joint family forever, it was a weird sense of freedom with loneliness for him.

During this time, I started meeting new people from various walks of life who had different tales to tell. I still remember my first story happened by fluke. It was 26th July. And Mumbai was not expecting the act of God. All of us were trapped in Magna House. That night, I stayed awake with my colleagues. While most of them were watching TV, I started writing a story. Loneliness is often the source of creativity. Much later, when I was working with Pritish Nandy, he had mentioned something similar. He turned into a painter out of boredom. Guess that’s how galaxy connects us all. There are few personal incidents, which I converted into fiction.

What can we expect from this book Will you be revealing dark secrets about the celebrities you’ve worked with?

Expectation is subjective. I guess you can expect stories with a twist in the tale. Most stories come with a twist in the tale. I am not winning Pulitzer or Bookers awards for this one, but this book will remain special for me because I tried something non-Bollywood for the first time.

As far as revealing dark secrets of Bollywood celebrities are concerned, you need to read the book for that. Many stories are inspired from secrets shared by celebrities off the record.

But then its fiction, so how do you weave fiction and non-fiction togetherAre we looking at imaginary dialogues or a representation of the things that were left unsaid

When you say fiction, it clearly hints at imagination. Weaving a story is an interesting plot. There is a chapter Madam The Shot Is Ready, which is based on a mother and daughter relationship. It could be any star mother and her daughter. In fact, I have tried to merge two three incidents of various actors and senior technicians into one story. The dialogues used in the book are imaginary.

Do you mention names of stars directly or is it like a blind item that will leave us guessing?

As I have mentioned in your earlier question, I have not mentioned the name of any celebrity in my book. Neither they read like blind items. Do they leave you all guessing? Yes!

In a PR-driven industry, celebs have become more image conscious than ever. Do you think they’ve forgotten to laugh at themselves That they hardly ever let their guards down?

True and untrue both! Some actors are megalomaniac. They need medical help. They don’t like to laugh at their failure. I think Saif Ali Khan is one of the most free spirited actors who doesn’t have any qualms in accepting his failures. And Shah Rukh Khan is the most rational actor. He often analyses his success and failures. He is more like a mathematician. And both SRK and Saif have brilliant sense of humour, which cannot be compared with any Bollywood stars. Amongst youngsters, Ranbir Kapoor is a feast for any journalist. He speaks from his soul.

Amongst female stars, I feel that Hema Malini was always honest in her interviews and that would often land her into trouble in most cases. Sonam Kapoor and Kangana Ranaut are a delight. They never guard themselves and often give quotes that make for a headline. Anushka Sharma and Deepika are logically articulate but often lack humour. Unlike their love interests Virat and Ranveer respectively.

How difficult was it to get the consent of the people you speak about in the book Has anyone refused to let you use his or her story as material?

The funniest part is that I didn’t have to take any permission because its fiction. If this would have been a true account of incidents, then I guess this would have never got published.

How long have you been working on this book Which form of writing did you enjoy the most – fiction or non-fiction?

Being my first foray into fiction, I have enjoyed the journey. But, this would not have been possible without the support and encouragement from my wife Sarbani and friend Swarup Nanda. In fact, I had written 13 short stories during my tenure as a correspondent in Stardust. Thereafter, when I switched my job, I forgot about these stories. I had taken print outs of these stories from desktop and never saved them. Finally, Sarbani found them from old files (thanks to Diwali cleaning!) and she started restoring them. She could only figure eight out of 13 odd stories. Incidentally, Swarup was my colleague and we worked together in Magna Publishing. Now, he is the owner of Leadstart Publishing and I am grateful to him that he has published Long Island Iced Tea.

You have been signed by HarperCollins for their next book, which is a complete biography on Hema Malini. Please tell us something about your book

It’s definitely an honour that one of the leading publishing house HarperCollins have agreed to publish my next book on Hema Malini. The book is titled Beyond The Dream Girl. The book will be dealing with her entire journey as India’s first female superstar and also her soaring career in politics.

You had written a coffee table book on Hema Malini titled Diva Unveiled in 2005. So, after almost a decade, why did you decide to write a book on her again?

I am glad that you asked me this question. I guess people are confused too. Well, I would like to say that Hema Malini: Diva Unveiled was a pictorial representation of her life, which was a difficult task. But it’s challenging to revisit the same subject again, because I have also matured as a writer. So, probably my approach will be completely different.

You have ventured into television after working with Pritish Nandy Communication for almost five years. How has been your experience so far?

Bin Kuch Kahe is my first foray into television for Zee TV. Thanks to my friend Rajshree Ojha who invested faith and trust in me. This is a finite series and we shot the entire series in Jaipur. We are wrapping up our Jaipur schedule and heading for our shoot in Brazil.

You have introduced new faces in this show. Why didn’t you cast the known faces considering you share a brilliant equation with almost all Bollywood actors

Well… they are my friends, but I didn’t want to cast them for the same reason! Kashyap Chandock, who was introduced to me by Rajshree, did the entire casting. Kashyap assisted as casting guy in two of Dharma Productions. We had certain vision as far as Myrah, Kabir, Abha, Sandy, Rhea and Nikhil were concerned. After Kashyap shortlisted them, both Rajshree and me selected them. We are very happy that we have introduced faces like Nirvana Shawney, Rashmi Somvanshi, Archana Mittal, Sameer Arora, Bharat Sharma and Nikhil Sabharwal. We also have seasoned actors like Shamata Anchan, Suzzane Bernert, Sanjay Gurbaxni and Danish Hussain.

Are you planning to start your own production after this show?

Would love to do so. I have already launched my production house Assorted Motion Pictures Pvt Ltd with my wife Sarbani. We are planning to make a Bengali feature film, which will be directed by Rajshree Ojha. It’s one of the finest scripts I have read in recent times. Apart from this feature film, we are planning to do web series, short films and events related to Bollywood.

Do you miss on being a journalist?

Not really.  I don’t miss journalism anymore. It was a conscious decision to take a break from journalism after Stardust.  As the Editor-in Chief of Stardust, I did my best. Even today my friends and colleagues from the industry tell me that my tenure was the best, because the magazine got a new look and with the guidance and support of Nari Hira, we did some really interesting photo-shoots and scoops!

Will you be directing a movie anytime soon?

I don’t think that I am still ready to take that challenge. But, I am sure that someday I will be telling my story through my own lens.

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Bollywood

DR Karthikeyan attends Rocketry: The Nambi Effect premier, recalls experience with Dr Nambi Narayanan

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Radhika Dhawad | Delhi
Former CBI Director DR Karthikeyan, ex-officials from the probe agency recently attended special screening of ‘Rocketry: The Nambi Effect.’

R Madhavan with DR Karthikeyan (centre)

Former CBI Director DR Karthikeyan, former officials from the probe agency and members of the film industry recently attended a special screening of film ‘Rocketry: The Nambi Effect’ at Siri Fort auditorium in New Delhi.

DR Karthikeyan writes…

“On personal invitation phone call from Dr Nambi Narayanan, I had the opportunity to see the very first premier show of the film ROCKETRY – The Nambi Effect – at Sirifort Auditorium, Delhi on 26th June – Sunday evening.

On arrival at the venue, I was happy to be met by the talented Star/Director/Producer  Mr R Madhavan and senior officers of the Ministry of I&B, Govt of India. It was an amazing production – destined to get an award – nationally and globally! The movie was screened all over the world on 1st July – produced both in English, Hindi and Tamil and also dubbed in many more languages.

Former CBI Director DR Karthikeyan, ex-officials from the probe agency recently attended special screening of ‘Rocketry: The Nambi Effect.’

At the end of the show at the packed auditorium, I was invited by Mr Madhavan to the stage and given a bouquet of flowers along with my colleague PM Nair IPS. I shared a couple of words with the audience. “At that time when there was sensation about the so called “ISRO Spy Case,” I was asked by the CBI HQ for my opinion. I was then investigating Rajiv Gandhi Assassination –  as Chief of SIT CBI – I spent a few hours of conversation with Dr Nambi Narayanan who was in our custody at Malligai, Headquarters of SIT CBI at Chennai. I had no hesitation in reporting to CBI Hq my finding that not only Nambi Narayanan is innocent of any of the charges alleged against him but also he was a noble person.” It so happened when his case came up before the National Human Rights Commission for compensation, I was the Director General, NHRC at Delhi.

After hearing from me what actually happened to Nambi Narayanan, the Commission awarded him financial compensation, as interim relief. Dr Nambi Narayanan has been in touch with me since then from time to time. 

Here is one of his recent communications to me on WhatsApp – “The role you had played in relieving me from the charges was immense.Thank you very much Sir. I will be certainly very happy to meet you in person when I visit Delhi. Once again thank you very much! With regards Nambi Narayanan”. 

As early as on 30th June 2021, Dr Nambi Narayanan had sent to me on email – the extract – MEETING KARTHIKEYAN  ‘Pray to God, he will come.’– chapter 14 of his just then released Biography “Ready to Fire”- (How India and I Survived The ISRO Spy Case).  The same is also attached herewith. The life of Padma Bhushan Dr Nambi Narayanan, the celebrated space scientist, which is very powerfully portrayed in the movie Rocketry – The Nambi Effect carries a powerful message to everyone.

Satyameva Jayate – Truth alone triumphs – Mundaka Upanishad.

While the guilty should be identified and punished promptly and severely, no innocent or the family should suffer physically or mentally or emotionally. That should be the commitment on the part of everyone of us – particularly those in charge of governance, administration, law enforcement, intelligence and the judiciary!”

Released on July 1, the film is a biographical drama based on the life of Nambi Narayanan, a former scientist and aerospace engineer of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), who was falsely charged with espionage in 1994.

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Marathi Cinema

Chandrashekhar Bawankule unveils poster, releases trailer of Nagpur film ‘Aamhi Butterfly’

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Nation Next Newsroom | Photographer : Nitin Mankar | Nagpur

Former Maharashtra Minister and current MLC Chandrashekhar Bawankule unveiled the poster and released the trailer and songs of the upcoming Marathi film – Aamhi Butterfly – at an event held at Deshpande Hall in Nagpur. The film, which has been shot in Nagpur and other parts of Vidarbha, has been directed by Aniiket Limje and produced by Rajesh Rangari and Shrinivas Shiras.

Many child actors who have worked in the movie are from Vidarbha. During the trailer launch, MLA Tekchand Sawakar, actor Girish Pardesi and other actors from the movie, were present. Aamhi Butterfly is going to be released in August 2022.

Above are some of the pictures from the event!

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Dialogue at Nation Next

‘Shah Rukh Khan didn’t even thank me for supporting Aryan Khan,’ says Shatrughan Sinha

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Radhika Dhawad | Mumbai

Actor-turned-politician Shatrughan Sinha, in an exclusive interaction at Dialogue @ Nation Next, speaks about the comparison of today’s actors with yesteryear actors, Aryan Khan drug case, NCB and why Shah Rukh Khan didn’t even ‘thank him.’

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