Opportunity Knocks for Moonlighters
AVM Rajan and Pushpalatha were one of the popular star couples in Tamil cinema. Pushpalatha was a Christian while AVM Rajan was a fervent Hindu devoted to Lord Muruga. There came a time when Rajan decided to convert to Christianity and became a pastor. He also quit films even when there was enough bandwidth for him to transition to character roles.
 
Rajan had the opportunity to play some wonderful roles (though he mostly played second fiddle to the hero) in movies like Mannippu, Major Chandrakant and Thunaivan. Many of his movies were remade in Hindi.  In Major Chandrakant, his role had shades of grey as he played a lover boy who ditches his girlfriend (played by Jayalalitha, perhaps the only movie that she acted in under the direction of K Balachander).  Major Chandrakant was made in Hindi where Feroze Khan reprised Rajan's role and KR Vijaya, a popular South Indian actress, debuted in this movie. Sadly, this was Vijaya's first and last role in Bollywood. 
 
 
For an actor who was so much in the limelight, how was it possible to give it all up and switch over to spirituality? It was life's bitter experiences perhaps. Rajan's daughter Sri debuted in the Tamil movie Ranitheni [Queen Bee] with well-known playback singer Deepan Chakraborthy. But the movie tanked at the box office. Sri switched over to Kannada movies with a new name - Mahalakshmi but then, later on, she too had to call it quits. 
 
Rajan's spirituality helped him immensely in moonlighting as a pastor. Mahalakshmi had to undergo plastic surgery after an accident and understandably film offers dried up.
 
Jayalalitha had a brief career span for 13 years (1966 to 1979).  Even in these thirteen years, Jayalalitha was at the top only for four years (1966-1970). When things soured between her and MGR, she turned to Sivaji Ganesan. Between1971 and 1975, Jayalalitha did many films but she fell seriously ill in 1976. By the time Jayalalitha acted in her last movie - Nadiyai Thedi Vandha Kadal with Sarath Babu, her acting career had dipped to abysmal levels. But Jayalalitha had already moonlighted as a writer having written novels like Uravin Qaidigal, Nenjile Oru Kanal etc and her oratorical skills were being talked about in Tamil Nadu's political circles. By 1980, MGR and Jayalalitha had chosen to bury their hatchet. Jaya also put her brief affair with Telugu actor Shoban Babu on the back burner.
 
 
Jayalalitha was a voracious reader and had a well-stocked library. Thus the end of her glorious acting career signalled the beginning of her political career. In reality, Jayalalitha is a great actress who unfortunately never got her due. She reprised Sadhna's role in Woh Kaun Thi (remade as Yaar Nee in Tamil) and her role as a courtesan in the Tamil movie - Engiruntho Vandhal is one of her most brilliant performances in Tamil cinema. This movie was a remake of the 1970 blockbuster Khilona that starred Sanjeev Kumar and Mumtaz.
 
Sadly, until the end of her career, Jayalalitha remained an underrated actress. However, she moonlighted as a writer and a political orator without realizing what the future had in store. The rest as we know is history.
 
Thus, when you start moonlighting an alternative career [Plan B] life can throw an unexpected surprise at you. There are many individuals who are writing stories, teaching, getting associated with non-government organisation (NGOs) and spiritual organizations like AOL & Isha Yoga. One thing is for sure. Most of them reach their true calling when they start moonlighting as a career option.
 
Advertising professionals often escape a burnout by taking a break and writing novels. Ravi Subramaniam is a banker, who discovered his true calling in novel writing. 
 
 
Arjun Rampal, the Bollywood actor, has a flourishing hotel business. Acting is a part-time profession for Suneil Shetty with his hotel business flourishing. Former Tamil actresses Radha and Vichitra have flourishing restaurant businesses.
 
Even Dimple Kapadia started candle making as a pastime and it became a serious vocation for her. Her daughter Twinkle Khanna became an interior designer. Now she is a best-selling author. 
 
Marathi actor Ravindra Mahajani became a builder of repute after he realized that cinematic fame is ephemeral and audience tastes can be fickle. Suchitra Krishnamoorthy turned to singing and painting after a failed marriage with the maverick Shekhar Kapur and a disastrous Bollywood debut opposite Shahrukh Khan. Shabana Azmi is a social activist. Girish Karnad was more a playwright than an actor. 
 
Rangarajan who worked in BEL Ltd in Bangalore started moonlighting as a writer of Tamil fiction and voila! He became so famous that he is remembered more as a writer than as an employee of BEL. There are college professors who do content writing, do real estate and insurance brokerage, legal consultancy services and what not... 
 
Look at actresses like Hema Malini and Vyjayanthimala for whom dancing is not an art, but a passion. Sharman Joshi (famous for his role as Raju in Three Idiots) is an accomplished theatre artist.
 
Mansoor Khan, the director of Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak turned to farming and is blissfully settled in Coonoor. 
 
 
Lucky Ali, actor Mahmood's son, crooned for Hrithik Roshan in Kaho Na Pyar Hai but his main interest is in organic farming. He lives life on his own terms and is a connoisseur of art. He has admitted that he is a foodie and a gourmet.
 
The classic example of moonlighting success is that of Chetan Bhagat. As a banker he would not have achieved even a fraction of the fame that he has achieved as a writer of pulp fiction. Even when he was working in a bank, Chetan moonlighted as a writer and today he is being invited to speak in colleges and is an accomplished columnist of repute.
 
Actress Kamini Kaushal who recently played Shahrukh's grandmother in Chennai Express and is seen in the "Sprite Ad" (O, O, dear...) is an expert in making dolls.
 
What started as a hobby eventually became a passion. She has directed movies for children and has even written short stories for children. 
 
Neelam had a short career in Bollywood but by the time her career reached a moribund stage, Neelam who was already moonlighting as a jewellery designer, turned to jewellery designing as a full-time vocation. 
 
 
Mandira Bedi moonlighted as a cricket commentator and when there were no film offers, she took to cricket commentating as a full-time vocation.
 
In another inspiring example, L Vijaylakshmi who grew up in Pune and Chennai and for whom dancing was a passion became an actress in Tamil and Malayalam cinema and an odd movie in Hindi (Shabnam). Her comic timing was perfect in her swan song - Ooty varai Uravu (1969). Lovers of Tamil cinema can never forget the song that she danced with MGR (Adaludan Padalai Chernthu Racipathile Dhaan Sugam Sugam). Legend has it that MGR was so scared of dancing with her that he rehearsed many times before the actual shot was taken.
 
 
When she quit movies in 1969 to settle down to matrimonial bliss with a Bengali scientist in the Philippines, it was dance that came to her rescue. In her spare time, Vijayalakshmi chose to study further instead of leading a humdrum and monotonous life as a housewife. She pursued studies to become a chartered financial analyst and when the family migrated to the US, opportunity as a professor beckoned her. 
 
Thus there are innumerable examples where moonlighting efforts have led to great success. It is important to have a Plan B in your career. You never know what the future has in store for you. Rather than cribbing about what you cannot achieve with your current job, why not find out something that you can do at leisure? For all you know, this may open doors of opportunities in the future. 
 
(After working in the corporate world for close to two decades, Bhagyalakshmi started her second career innings as a head-hunter. She is passionate about Hindi movies and loves retro music. When her family shifted to Chennai in the 80’s, Bhagya had a taste of Tamil cinema too. In the long term, she plans a book on two of her favourite directors – Guru Dutt and K Balachander. She travels across the country on work and is based in Mysore.
 
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Revisiting Tumsa Nahin Dekha (1957)
Filmistan Studios in Mumbai has been in the news for some years now.  The property value has escalated and even real estate developers are eyeing it. Here we review one of the earliest successful films that was produced by Filmistan Studios.
 
Sometimes you wonder what is so great about some of the super hit films of the past. This is the feeling that overtook me when I watched Tumsa Nahin Dekha, 62 years after its release. Mostly shot in studios and in the verdant landscape near Thane’s Ghodbunder Road, if the film is fairly engaging it is mainly because of its super hit songs.
 
The film was produced by Filmistan Studios, which is often in the news for all the wrong reasons. In 2011, there was a talk of Filmistan Studios being sold for Rs600 crore; in 2015, film maker Sajid Nadiadwala expressed his desire to buy the studio from its owner Anil Jalan. Anil is the son of film financier Tolaram Jalan.
 
 Tolaram was known for his fiery temper and crude behaviour but he was soft on some of the girls who wished to try their luck in Bollywood. Ameeta was one such actress who became the beneficiary of the benevolent glance of the super-rich Marwari businessman from Kolkata. In fact, comedian Mehmood made a film Sabse Bada Rupaiyya (1976) where he based his character on Tolaram Jalan who often remarked – “The whole thing is that ke bhaiya… sabse bada rupaiya”.
 
The decrepit Filmistan studio got a facelift in 1976 thanks to the efforts of Tolaram’s girlfriend Neena who married him after his first wife passed away.
 
Neena acted in movies like Nanhi Kali, Jalte Badan and Shagun. The youngest daughter of a barrister, Neena was defiant about making a name for herself in Bollywood but once Jalan started fancying her, Neena did not flinch before quitting films to marry the money bag. Neena also owned a major share in Filmistan studios. Unconfirmed reports say that she passed away a few years ago.
 
So here we take a brief look at a film that was made by Mumbai’s oldest and iconic studio Filmsistan that was founded in 1943 by Ashok Kumar and his brother-in-law S Mukherjee. Later Filmistan was sold off to the Marwari businessman Tolaram. Nasir Hussain had joined Filmistan in 1948 as a writer (Munimji, Paying Guest) and Tumsa Nahin Dekha was his directorial debut.
 
Aamir Khan recalled in an interview that his uncle Nasir Hussain was given a tight budget by the fastidious Tolaram Jalan and the shoot of the film was completed after overcoming many challenges that looked insurmountable initially.
 
Jalan had paid Shammi Kapoor Rs32,000 as salary for Ham Sab Chor Hain (1956). He shocked Kapoor by paying him Rs20,000 for Tumsa Nahin Dekha and when Kapoor protested, Jalan told him cryptically, “Take it or leave it; get out.” Kapoor remembered that Jalan was a crude man.
 
When Jalan passed away in 2001, there were hardly any encomiums or obituaries for the film financier who had often rubbed people the wrong way. Interestingly, Tumsa Nahin Dekha was a launch pad for Ameeta, a Muslim girl from Kolkata, whom the dark, stodgy and crude Jalan had taken a liking to. Sadly, Ameeta could never capitalize on the success of the film and instead Kapoor walked away with all the credit. After the torture that he experienced at the hands of Jalan (he was such a micro manager), Nasir Hussain made Dil Dekhe Dekho in 1959 (Shammi Kapoor and Asha Parekh) with support from S Mukherjee. Then there was no looking back for Hussain and his protégé-cum-girl friend Asha Parekh.
 
Great care was taken with Ameeta’s make-up, wardrobe and lighting, to present her in the most flattering way possible.  The film’s publicity focused on Ameeta and sidelined Kapoor who was the hero of the film. Ameeta played the lead in Goonj Uthi Shehanai (1959) which was a major hit – it was a role that was originally written for Meena Kumari. Despite both these successes, Ameeta got typecast with supporting characters in films like Around the World and Mere Mehboob.
 
She quit films in the early 70’s. She had a daughter Sabeeha who acted in films like Anokha Rishta and Khiladi before vanishing from the scene altogether. In the mid 80’s, Ameeta had a major spat with Rajesh Khanna accusing him of molesting her daughter.
 
Tumsa Nahin Dekha begins with a man Gopal (BM Vyas) who commits a murder after he is cheated of his wealth and becomes a fugitive. He changes his name and adopts a girl Meena (Ameeta) but life’s bitter experiences have made him cantankerous and grumpy. He misses his wife and son and lives in an area that is surrounded by the forest. In response to an ad, two men approach him for a job and both call themselves Shankar. Gopal (who is now known by his new identity Sardar Rajpal) now wants to know who his real son Shankar is.
 
 
The plot then meanders through by introducing a set of unruly adivasis who later become friends with the hero Shankar (Kapoor). Pran is the archetypal villain. After a narrative which flounders now and then, Gopal gets killed. The lead actor is reunited with his sweetheart and the villain falls to his death from a cliff. The buxom dancer Sheila Vaz (who hailed from Goa) gets to play a character role in this movie as the sister of the tribal chief. It is remarkable that Vaz who quit films to get married way back in 1960 shunned all media attention thereafter. It was only recently discovered that she is very much in Mumbai but chose to maintain an extremely low profile.
 
 
The mellifluous music by OP Nayyar is the only saving grace. “Yun to hum ne lakh haseen”, “Chupnewale samne aa”, “Jawaaniyan yeh mast mast”, ”Dekho kasam se”, “Aye hai door se” and “Sar par topi” continue to be chart busters even today. Kapoor delivers a stellar performance and his lean avatar is a pleasant surprise (he began putting on weight as we can see from his later films).
 
Ameeta is fresh faced, looks charming and has been photographed well. It is a pity that she never got any major roles in Bollywood in her later years. She also scores on the acting side. Kapoor and Ameeta don’t share great screen chemistry in the film mainly because Kapoor (as per his own admission) was intimidated by the fact that the leading lady was his producer’s girl-friend.
 
Character actor BM Vyas played the role of Gopal and as per reports he lived till the age of 92 years in his Kalyan residence. He was the brother of poet and lyricist Bharat Vyas. Raj Mehra and Pran as the villains are passable.
 
Tumsa Nahin Dekha deserves to be watched at least once … you can only look at and sigh at the beautiful forests in Thane (where the film’s outdoors have been shot) that have now been replaced by concrete roads and buildings. The songs add to the film’s allure and the credit for this has to go to the legendary OP Nayyar.
 
(After working in the corporate world for close to two decades, Bhagyalakshmi Seshachalam started her second career innings as a head-hunter. She is passionate about Hindi movies and loves retro music. When her family shifted to Chennai in the 80s, Bhagya had a taste of Tamil cinema too. In the long term, she plans a book on two of her favourite directors – Guru Dutt and K Balachander. She travels across the country on work and is based in Mysore.)
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Ramesh Poapt

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vow! bahut khub!! kya baat hai!!!

US FDA Attempts to Get a Handle on the Dietary Supplement Industry Worth $40 Billion
The reviews are in for the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) and the general consensus is “not good.”
 
At a recent public hearing hosted by the FDA, speakers described DSHEA (pronounced duh-shea) as “generally broken,
 
” “not consistently great,” and “a paper tiger” when it comes to giving the FDA the enforcement tools necessary to effectively regulate the $40 billion supplement industry to ensure the safety and efficacy of products.
 
Critics say DSHEA is ill-equipped to handle an industry that, according to one estimate provided by the FDA at the meeting, is 10 times larger than when the law was passed in 1994. Currently, three in four Americans use supplements, according to the FDA, and the industry continues to grow.
 
“The realities of today’s marketplace demand a renewed approach to regulation,” Acting FDA Commissioner Ned Sharpless acknowledged in his opening remarks at the public hearing titled “Responsible Innovation in Dietary Supplements.” “Now is the time to modernize our program to ensure better alignment with the realities of today’s dietary supplement market.”
 
Just how far is DSHEA lagging behind? Sharpless said the meeting was part of an effort to bring supplement regulation “into the 21st century.”
 
Diagnosing the problem
 
Unlike prescription drugs, the FDA does not have the authority to review supplements before they are sold to consumers, which no doubt has contributed to the industry’s explosive growth in the last 25 years. Under DSHEA, the FDA relies on supplement companies to let the agency know when they are about to debut a new product, a self-reporting process that many say is broken.
 
Several speakers at the public hearing noted that the FDA’s only opportunity to assess the safety and effectiveness of a supplement before it hits the market is through a New Dietary Ingredient Notification, or NDIN. Steve Tave, director of the office of dietary supplement programs at the FDA, called it “the final threshold.”
 
The problem is not all supplements require an NDIN and of those that do, it is believed that many choose not to file. (There’s also a workaround, which we’ll get to in a minute.) As a result, Tave said the FDA has received only 1,000 NDINs since 1994, during which time the number of supplements on the market has swelled from 4,000 to 80,000, according to the FDA.
 
The workaround to filing an NDIN is to submit a Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) notice to the FDA. The concern with these notices is that supplement companies are effectively doing the FDA’s job by affirming that the ingredients in their products are safe without any input from the agency before the products are in the hands of consumers.
 
Not surprisingly, it’s a job that supplement companies don’t seem to mind doing. Laura MacCleery, policy director at the nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest, said in her remarks that there have been six to seven times more GRAS notices than NDINs since DSHEA became law. The FDA says it reviews and responds to GRAS notices — and can conclude that the application “does not provide a sufficient basis for a GRAS determination” — but the process can take months, if not more. Meanwhile, the supplement remains on the market.
 
In addition, Ashish Talati, a partner at Amin Talati & Upadhye, said the loophole has a loophole in that GRAS notices do not require documentation of the ingredient actually being “sold and marketed to consumers.” It can just appear in a cookbook, he said. In fact, GRAS applicants need only show that the substance is generally recognized as safe among qualified experts or that the substance doesn’t fit the definition of a food additive that would require premarket approval by the FDA.
 
Differing opinions on a “DSHEA 2.0”
 
While some say the supplement industry has not accepted its responsibility to ensure products with harmful ingredients are prevented from reaching consumers, the industry warns against a future in which a “DSHEA 2.0” further hinders innovation.
 
Andrew Shao, interim senior vice president of scientific and regulatory affairs at the Council for Responsible Nutrition, the supplement industry trade group, said there’s already a disincentive for companies to file NDINs due to a lack of data protections that leaves proprietary information vulnerable to copycat products.
 
So until there is an incentive to provide premarket notification to the FDA, such as the threat of enforcement action, it will continue to be the Wild West as far as the marketing of supplements is concerned.
Find more of our coverage on supplements here.
 
 
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