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Sammir Dattani

It is not flesh and blood but the heart which makes us fathers and sons, brothers and sisters and we as a family are a strange little band of characters traipsing through life sharing illnesses and toothpaste, coveting one another's desserts, hiding shampoo, borrowing money, locking each other out of our rooms, inflicting pain and kissing to heal it in the same instant, loving, laughing, defending, and trying to figure out the common thread that binds us all together. But no matter how well we play all the above and unmentioned parts of our life, we also tend to take our family for granted and lightly.

Today, as I was lazily surfing channels I saw the theatrical trailer of Sammir’s latest film Mukhbiir. Seeing him portraying such a complex character with immense ease made me swell with pride. However, what gave me the chills were his eyes. Oh, what ability they had! They could terrorise like a loaded and levelled gun. They could offend like hissing or kicking, or in their assorted mood, by beams of kindness, they could make the heart dance with joy.

Up until yesterday, this was a kid I have seen growing up before me, and now, in an instant, I see that he is all grown up! A fool I was because in always looking at the larger picture of taking care of him, I had forgotten to observe little things in him.


Subi Samuel. Ruminations On. And With.

My dearest bro

On the exhibition!

To hold our innermost conscience alert, which with every fully formed experience tells us whether it is thus, as it now stands, altogether to be answered for in its truthfulness and integrity: that is the foundation of every artistic production. And surely all art is the result of one's having been in danger, of having gone through an experience all the way to the end, where no one can go any further. The further one goes, the more private, the more personal, the more singular an experience becomes, and the thing one is making is, finally, the necessary, irrepressible, and, as nearly as possible, definitive utterance of this singularity.

Also, we owe to memory not only the increase of our knowledge, and our progress in rational inquiries, but many other intellectual pleasures. Indeed, almost all that we can be said to enjoy is past or future; the present is in perpetual motion, leaves us as soon as it arrives, ceases to be present before its presence is well perceived, and is only known to have existed by the effects which it leaves behind. The greatest part of our ideas arises, therefore, from the view before or behind us, and we are happy or miserable according as we are affected by the survey of our life, or our prospect of future existence.

I loved every frame.

The Stay!

In a way, the experience was enlightening as well, by no means had I lived and seen things of that kind, and come to think of it, I am learning to see. I do not know why it is, but everything penetrates more deeply into me and does not stop at the place where until now it always used to finish. I have an inner self of which I was ignorant. Everything goes thither now, what happens there I do not know.

On Departure!

And we: spectators, always, everywhere, looking at everything, and never from! Who has turned us around like this, so that whatever we do, we always have the look of someone going away? Just as a man on the last hill showing him his whole valley one last time, turns, and stops, and lingers – so we live, and are forever leaving.

It was excruciating to leave you all.

Subi Samuel!

While I stood facing the infinite ocean on those colossal stairs at the Taj, the gale blew so incessantly in my face, and right there I felt a chill in my bones. My mind, as it usually does, wandered, and I comprehended that my fear of the ocean stemmed perhaps due to the inner fear that I carry of death itself. I figured then, that surely, there's no room for debate that there is an element of death in life, and I was astonished that each one of us pretends to ignore it: death, whose unpitying presence we experience in each turn of fortune we survive because we must learn how to die slowly. We must learn to die: all of life is in that. When thoughts such as these were traversing my senses, I turned and I saw you: all of a sudden, my nomadic feelings seemed to settle, and settle because I knew I have my brother beside me. My brother, who is my protector, who loves me like the infinity of the ocean, and I realised from that instant that I don’t ever have to be afraid of death, or for that matter the ocean, after all, like your love, it is deep, abundant and immeasurable.

Your younger bro
- F


Neene Neene - 2008

My association with Kannada cinema has been rather limited. I grew up watching the plan of Dinesh Babu’s film Suprabhatha take shape before me since the producer of the film was a close friend of our family. It was a simple story revolving around a single location, a gas filling station with just two main actors Vishnuvardhan and Suhasini Mani Rathnam. While it took shape, I happened to interact with everyone from the actors to the singers who came home, although one person, the drummer Shivamani had left an unforgettable impression on my mind. Then again, I was too young at that time to know what was happening other than being part of the buzz and seeing how all of them contributed to the end product was adjudged a grand landmark in cinema as I recall at that point. Then came Girish Kasarvalli’s, Haseena. My family was invited for a private screening of the movie but just as the movie was about to begin we had to draw ourselves away from the theatre because the new maid we had employed had run away from home. Cut to 2008, I was at Gandhi Nagar visiting a friend I hadn’t met in ages and noticed all the Kannada posters around. The quality of visual representation I noted had improved tremendously. While some of the posters were passable, some others were worthy of a second glance, but there was one in particular that caught my eye. It was excellent and was the poster of Sammir Dattani aka Dhyaan, the romantic, chocolate hero of Kannada cinema. I pulled out my mobile and sent Sammir a text message telling him what a breath of fresh air it was to see his posters pasted with those of others, who in my own opinion looked fairly odd to me as stars; they were either too old, or too young. And if they had the looks they lacked the talent, and if they had the talent, they lacked the looks, not Dhyaan, he was a near flawless combination of both looks and talent. When my message status showed that it been delivered, I received a call from him. He said he was boarding the aircraft to Bangalore from Bombay and that the premier of the films poster I was looking at was happening at INOX the same evening at six and that he’d see me there. I griped that I hardly knew Kannada merely to escape being there more so because I was reclusive in a crowd I did not know. But Sammir, in his trademark sweetness, always had a way to get people to do what he wanted without ever pushing it and I had become his current victim.

I landed at INOX and spotted Sammir surrounded by the a large crowd while the others around were quite enjoying the photo sessions and hob-nobbing with the rest of the crew. I stood chatting with my friend Prathibha for a while when Sammir asked me whether I even knew the name of his film. I smiled blankly. “Neene Neene,” he said with a grin, “not a difficult name to remember." He paused and smiled, "Even my friends at Bombay have got it right this time.”

Past a few mintes, Sammir informed us that the film was about to begin.

In a word the film is – romantic. It started off on a fine note with Abhishek (Dhyaan) winning the award for the best employee. He then calls his mother to give her the good news, a la Shahrukh Khan style. It then shifts onto him meeting his friend at a café. They are both having a blast discussing life and failures with women when Nandini (Aishwarya Nag) calls him and starts yelling at him for having called her aimlessly to flirt. This leads them to exchanging a few more calls and with a few more text messages betwixt them, the strangers meet and they become friends. And in no time their friendship spins into love and he proposes to her. All this happens rather quickly and what follows is something that one has to watch to know. What I was quite amazed, however, was at the swift pace up until then. The characters moved smoothly, especially of Nandini. Her role has been etched out with positive notes for the most part of the film barring the second half where she is portrayed playing the martyr. Ananth Nag as Nandini’s father has done a small, but strong role. His character could have been given a better length. Beyond all this what I appreciated is the subtlety of certain situations, in particular when Ananth Nag goes to wish Nandini a happy birthday and figures that someone has for the first time in so many years called her before him. He then observes her wearing the bracelet given by Abhishek at breakfast and tests the waters by saying that he would get her married to someone smart from London in 2 months and when he notices her expressions changing, takes her for a chat and settles the matter without any theatrics telling her that since she has made up her mind he’ll get her married and she must stay with her husband post marriage and not come back to him for help irrespective of the circumstances. She agrees and thus begins her delightful matrimonial journey that ends speedily due to the financial snarls that Ahbhisek entangles himself into to give his wife the comfort of her father’s home.

On the whole the film is a decent blend of incidents that do not appear contrived and one can identify with them almost instantly. The narration tends to drop at places and the needless scenes could have been done without such as the friend in the second half showing up from no where, beating up the goons, vanishing and reappearing only in the end. Although the lovers unite in the end, the other flip side of the second half is this – all along we have been seeing Abhishek as an energetic character. And then abruptly, he turns into a shade of grey, letting go of his frustrations on his wife. This I thought was way out of line. The director here could have done with making the issue the villain and not the protagonist Abhishek.

The film is a good attempt by first time director Shivadwaj. Sri Muruli’s tunes complement the lyrics, but the songs are nothing much to talk about. Dinesh Babu’s camera work is skilful. Sharan, as the friend is bright not only in his comedy but also for the rock that he is for his friend Abhishek. Dhyaan is marvellous. He has the aplomb and sensitivity to play just about any role and plays this one like a dream. Besides his smile, which is a sure winner, his eyes convey a lot too and I hope directors in the future also tap into this powerful aspect of his. Aishwarya Nag is just about acceptable. She looks convincing in certain scenes but has a long way to go to be called an actress. She looked more like Dhyaan’s older sister than his love interest. Someone delicate would have befitted him better.

In the end I was cracking up with laughter when I saw Abhishek ready to commit suicide with a bag clung loosely on his shoulder. I just couldn't help myself from wondering what that was all about so I sent Sammir a text message in the theatre that said - “Why does one have to attempt suicide by carrying a bag, bro.” And the prompt response I obtained was – “Haha, it’s just a movie, bro.”

So for all you movie buffs there, go watch the total family entertainer Neene Neene. Despite the glitches, you’ll not step out of the auditorium disappointed.


Nakuul Mehta

You don't learn how to act looking in mirrors, you can tell actors who've done that. It's risky, because acting is not about what your face is doing. If you act face first then you've worked out your face, but not the true thoughts inside. An actor has to work from inside out - thoughts and emotions first, and then the face follows. And that, in a nutshell, is the essence of Nakuul Mehta! A near perfect gentleman! A friend like no other! And an actor par excellence!

Naku, I know you are busy with a million things at the moment and yet, in it all, what a surprise it was indeed when I got back after a long day and found the CD you had sent. It sure lifted my spirits. Clearly, one of my most prized possessions for the thoughtfulness that went behind it. As always, thank you my bro.