Kong Poush of Jammu & Kashmir : Kashmiri , Dogri , Ladakhi Film Industry & Me

Jammu & Kashmir is one of the biggest provinces of India, but its film industry is one of the smallest. The province of Jammu & Kashmir has three different regions : Jammu, Ladakh and Kashmir Valley. They have three different languages also : Dogri in Jammu, Ladakhi in Ladakh and Kashmiri in Kashmir Valley.

Dogri Cinema :

Jammu is the smallest region of the state, so Dogri films have smaller and minuscule presence. Cinema came to India in 1913 and the first talkie “ Alamara ” was made in 1931. But the first Dogri film “ Gallan Hoyian Beetiyan ” was made in 1966. Dogri Cinema’s advent in the state of Jammu & Kashmir was delayed by 35 years. It is very surprising because the first singing star of Hindi films, legendary Kundan Lal Sahgal, hailed from Jammu. But Jammu lacked behind in film making and even today not many films are made in Dogri.

My relationship with Dogri films are very modest. Shettal Sharma is the only student from Jammu, whom I have trained. She is trying to get a foothold in the industry.

Ladakhi Cinema :

Ladakh is the biggest district of not only Jammu & Kashmir but the country also. It is sparsely populated and barring Leh, it has no city worth the name. Leh has just one cinema hall. But cinema has taken strong and deep routes here. Ladakh has world’s youngest film industry. Cinema started here in 2002. It is 7 years and 26 films old film industry. “ Ladakh Vision Group ” is the most reputed and respected production house of Ladakh. Rinchen Norbu, who sells Chinese jackets in his road side stall to eke out a living, is the famous leading man. Zulfiquar Ali Shah is the most sought after villain and Stanzin Namdol is the most salable leading actress. Tsering Norzum, who works as a police constable, is the famous item girl of Ladakhi films. Budget of films are in the range of 1 to 5 lakhs.

“ Tsesems ” the first Ladakhi film made and released in 2002 has Rinchen Norbu as leading man and Zulfiquar Ali Shah as villain. It created history. “ Delwa ” made in 2005 has Stanzin Namdol as heroine. “ Las Del ” released in July 2009 is the latest and the most expensive Ladakhi film till date. It has Stanzin Namdol as heroine and its budget is 15 lakhs. Ladakh region makes 6 films per year.

In my earlier blog about South Indian Film Industry – “ The Deccan Odyssey : Tamil , Telugu, Kannada film industry & Me ”, I have mentioned that I have no association with the Malayalam film industry till now. It is very unfortunate that my association with Ladakhi film industry is non-existent too. Malayalam film industry in southern most Kerala and Ladakhi film industry in northernmost Jammu & Kashmir are still out of my reach and I regret it deeply and profusely. It reminds me that I still don’t have complete sway as a trainer. I am yet to achieve and accomplish my goal. It reminds me that I have to work much more and much harder. I can’t be complacent.

Kashmiri Cinema :

The most important region of the state, Kashmir valley, has almost a non-existent film industry. It has produced only 6 films till date. First Kashmiri film “ Naeej Raath ” was released in 1964. It was 33 years after first Hindi talkie “ Alamara ” and 2 years before the first Dogri film “ Gallan Hoyean Beetiyan ”. Ladakhi film industry started in 2002, churns out 6 films every year, while Kashmiri film industry has made only 6 film till date, though it started in 1964. After “ Naeej Rath ”, “ Habba Khatoon ” in 1967 and “ Mehanzaraat ” in 1969 are other important Kashmiri films. Costliest Kashmiri film till date “ Akh Daleel Loolech ” was made in 2006 and its budget was 8 lakhs. Now after a long hiatus an NRI of Kashmiri origin Tariq Tapa is making a new film called “ Zero Bridge ”. Kashmir valley once had 8 cinema halls. Out of these 4 have been closed and converted into army bunkers. Remaining 4 were forced to down shutters as they have no patrons at all. This is the plight of film industry in Jammu & Kashmir.

I can state with pride and satisfaction that I have trained many students of Kashmiri origin. Though they are not working in Kashmiri films; firstly – because it is non-existent and secondly – because of the prevailing circumstances of the valley, but their presence is being felt in the national arena.

Ferena Wazeir : She is making her debut in “ Sadiyaan ” with Mr. Shatrughan Sinha’s son Luv Sinha. She hails from Jammu & Kashmir and she is my first student from the valley. The film directed by Mr. Raj Kanwar is being readied for an early release. Her other film “ Rang Rasiya ”, directed by Mr. Ketan Mehta is also complete.

Ishtyaq Syed : He came in TV serial “ Kyunki Jeena Issi Ka Naam Hai ”, aired on DD. He is another Kashmiri speaking student of mine. His father is a politician, active in Congress.

Umar Wani : He is another Kashmiri, who is a famous TV artiste. His serial “ hamari betiyon Ka VIVAH ” on Zee TV was immensely popular.

Mudassir Nazar, Zuhaib Khan and Muheet  Syed are another bunch of talented Kashmiri youth, who have been trained by me and who are trying to find foothold in Hindi film industry. Muheet’s father is also a politician, active in National Conference.

Labeeb Andrabi : He is the latest in the long list of Kashmiri students, who is busy in the fashion industry in Mumbai. This promising hunk is going to shine in the Hindi film world very soon.

I have trained Hindi, Bhojpuri, Punjabi, Sindhi, Marathi, Konkani, Gujrati, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Bengali, Oriya, Assamiya, Nepali and Manipuri speaking students. I have trained students from Sikkim and Meghalaya also. Its very satisfying that apart from them, I have trained Dogri and Kashmiri speaking students also. All these students are working in their respective film industries and are making me proud.

These above mentioned Kashmiri youngsters from the troubled region Of our country are silent assurance that everything is not lost in the state. Very soon everything will be normal and cinema will thrive there once again. Kashmir valley, which was once upon a time backdrop of many Hindi films, cannot remain dormant. Younger generation of the valley bring hope. They are the future of kashmiri cinema. They are blooming Kong Poush ( Saffron Flowers ) and their beauty and fragrance will sure make our industry rich and colourful.



The Deccan Odyssey Part 3 : Kannada Star Kharrtik & 100 Days Of “ YUVA ”

2My association with South Indian film industry is very strong. I had already written two parts of my Deccan Odyssey about that association and relationship. Little did I know that very soon I would be writing the third part also.

3In the previous part of my Deccan Odyssey, I had mentioned about my student Kharrtik ( Prajjwal Shetty ) and his Kannada film “ YUVA ”. The film opened to a good response and there were house full boards at every cinema halls. . He got rave reviews for his acting skills. I watched the promos and was zapped. I was always sure about his acting skills but he was equally brilliant in dance and action scenes also. No wonder the film is a hit and completed 100 days recently.

In the industry, people throw party after the success of a film. I was expecting a party but instead I got a call from Kharrtik’s father Mr. Vijay Shetty informing me that on the occasion of this great success, they are organizing a function to honour all the teachers of Kharrtik, who trained him in various spheres of film making. This concept of GURU VANDANA is new and it is very thoughtful of them. This is the first of it’s kind function in the industry. No one remembers their teachers after attaining success. It is a rare gesture and I would like to submit that I have trained so many young stars and I have very cordial relationship with them. But no one ever thought of doing this.I must say that I felt humbled and felt really honoured. My blessings to Kharrtik.2



The Deccan Odyssey Part 2 : Saga Continues

2Room No. 208
Hotel Confident Propus
7, Lang Ford town
Main Hosur Road

On August 12, 2009, I had written a blog about the TAMIL, TELUGU and KANNADA film industry and my contribution to it as an acting trainer.

After I posted that blog, I got a call from Bengaluru. My friend and KANNADA film director Mr. H. P. Raveendra was on the line. He told me that he is making a new film and he would like me to conduct an acting workshop for his artistes. I had trained Om ( Aravinda Ganapati ) for his earlier film, which unfortunately got shelved. You cannot say no to a dear friend and to a person as talented as Mr. Raveendra. He emailed me the synopsis of the story and I fell in love with it as soon as I went through it. The story is fabulous and it revolves around three main characters. I boarded an evening flight to Bengaluru and landed here on August 27th, 2009. On 28th I met his cast and crew and then I came to know the enormity of the situation. All the three main artistes of Picture Gate’s Production No. 1 are well known and established actors.

DSC00495PREM : He is the lead protagonist of this film. He is well known in the KANNADA film industry and has done more than 12 films as a lead actor. His first film “ PRANA ” was flop but his 2nd film “ NENAPIRALI” was a huge hit. He got FILMFARE’s best actor award for this film. This is the only KANNADA film which got 5 FILMFARE and 5 STATE AWARDS. After that he gave many hits and gems like “ SAVI SAVI NENAPU ”.

DSC00485KARISHMA TANNA : She was first seen in Ekta Kapoor’s famous serial “KYUNKI SAS BHI KABHI BAHU THI ” and later on she appeared in many other serials also. This is her first film.

It is easy to train a new comer, but to train established stars is always difficult. But both were extremely eager and excited. It is needless to say that I enjoyed working with them. They were very receptive and were always ready to learn more.

DSC00496SHREE RAJ : On the last day of the workshop a very old student of mine walked in. His original name is RAJU, but now he is known as SHREE RAJ. He informed me that he is doing a KANNADA film as a lead star. It’s name is “ ALLIDE NAMMANE ELLIBANDE SUMMANE ”. He consulted me about the story and characterization of his film, which is going to be shot in U. S. A. Again it has lovely and tragic story with lots of scope for acting.

TILAK : He was trained by me years ago and then I lost touch with him. SHREE RAJ informed me that he is doing many KANNADA films and is quite famous as a villain.

This is my 4th visit to Bengaluru and in this journey I got an opportunity to work with 2 stars of KANNADA films and reestablished contacts with two of my old students, who are working in KANNADA films.

Though I wrote this blog sitting in my hotel room, I am posting it from the new and swanky Bengaluru International Airport, which is much better than the old one.



The Deccan Odyssey : Tamil, Telugu, Kannada Film Industry & Me

2Last week I could not write my blog. I was so busy in my acting classes that I had hardly any time for writing. And today when I sit to write, shadow of swine flue (H1N1) is looming large over Mumbai.

Away from the scare, as I am putting my thoughts on my BlackBerry, a newspaper article comes to my mind. It was about Ram Charan Tej, son of Telugu Mega star Chiranjeevi. His latest film “ Magadheera ” has been released and is running to packed houses in Andhra Pradesh. The article rekindled my memory and suddenly I realized that there are several stars, working in Tamil, Telugu and Kannada film industry, who have been trained by me. Let us take stock of those stars.

TAMIL : Tamil film industry is very old and once upon a time it was virtually ruled by M. G. Ramachandran and Shivaji Ganeshan. Gemini Ganeshan, Rekha’s father, was another star who had considerable clout in the industry. After the sad demise of these trio, Rajanikant and Kamal Hassan emerged on the scene and currently they are the demigods of the industry.

Slowly but steadily new breed of stars are emerging in the Tamil film Industry. ASHOK BALAKRISHANAN and GANESH VENKATARAMAN are prominent among them and  both are trained by me.

ganesh vankataramanGanesh Venkataraman is currently working in the Tamil version of “ A Wednesday ”. He is portraying the role, played by Jimmy Sheirgill in the Hindi version. Other two stars of the film are Kamal Hassan and Mohanlal.

TELUGU : Currently this is the biggest film industry in South, sometimes churning more films than Hindi, stars being paid more than the Hindi Mega stars. In olden days it was ruled by two giants; A. Nageshwara Rao and N. T. Ramarao. These days the reigning superstars are Chiranjeevi and Nagarjuna. Incidentally the latter one is the son of A. Nageshwara Rao.

In the last two years several new star-sons emerged in the Telugu film industry. ALLU ARJUNA, SUSHANTHA ANUMOLU and RAM CHARAN TEJ are prominent among them. And the fact of the matter is that they all are my students. First to hit the screen was Allu Arjuna, son of producer Allu Arvinda and a relative of Mega Star Chiranjeevi. He came with a bang and left a lasting impression on the Andhra viewers like Hritik Roshan did with his first film. His film “ Bunny ” was super hit and he is continuously delivering one hit after another.

Sushantha Anumolu, nephew of Nagarjuna, was introduced in a film               “ Kalidasu ”. It was a moderate hit. Then came his second film “ Current ” and he is on his way to stardom.

Last to make debut with a film called “ Chirutha ” was Ram Charan Tej, Chiranjeevi’s son. It was a moderate hit. Now his second film “ Magadheera ” is a bumper hit and is creating box office history throughout Andhra Pradesh. So many youngsters died in stampede in the cinema halls. This son of a Mega Star is on the way to stardom.

Next to hit the screen in Andhra is CHAITANYA AKKINENI, son of Nagarjuna and grandson of thespian A. Nageshwara Rao. BALAJI GADDE and TEJAS KANCHERLA are other actors, who are going to make debut in near future. So these 6 stars are the future stars, who are going to rule the Telugu industry. I am proud to submit that they all are my students.Nagarjuna, Chaitanya

KANNADA : Compared to Tamil and Telugu industry, Kannada film industry is small. Dr. Rajkumar was the ruling deity and during his heydays, he was virtually an one man industry. As he grew older, his sons and Vishnuvardhan tried to hold the post and were fairly successful. Now a new crop of actors are emerging there too. Needless to say that they all are trained by me.

First to make his debut was DHYAN, who is known to Hindi film audience as SAMEER DATTANI. His first film “ Nanna Preetiya Hudagi ” created waves and was a block buster in Karnataka. Among his other notable and successful films “ Amrut Dhare ” comes first to mind.

This year a film called “ Yuva ” is making box office history in Karnataka. It’s hero KHARRTIK is my student and according to critics he is on his way to super stardom.

arvind ganapatiOM is another star, who will make his debut this year. His real name is Aravind Ganapati and the name of his film is “  Dhin Dhina Dhina ” .

I can humbly say it with pride that barring Malayalam film industry, there are 11 upcoming stars, who are currently working in Tamil, Telugu and Kannada . It’s a culmination of my 19 year long acting training career and it is very satisfying one.




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