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Gold movie review: Akshay Kumar-starrer’s penchant for overstatement overshadows its few moments of moving quiet

Chak De! India is arguably the gold standard for any contemporary Hindi film hoping to use sport as a showcase for this country’s complex multi-cultural landscape. Gender politics, a factious nation’s religious and regional tensions, and the inevitability of inter-personal rivalries in a team game all found a place in Shimit Amin’s fabulous 2007 film about the Indian women’s hockey team at the turn of the century finding its oxygen under a new coach, yet it appeared not to strain a nerve to sermonise. Chak De! is a hard act to follow.

Director Reema Kagti’s Gold sets itself on the same playing field — hockey, this time for men — but shifts its gaze to a period stretching from 1936 pre-Independence India to the first Olympics we played after the British left our shores. India, as we know from history texts, dominated world hockey for several decades back then. Cobbling a team together for the 1948 Olympics was a challenging task, however, for a fictional team manager called Tapan Das (Akshay Kumar), with Partition having robbed us of many of our great sporting talents. In this scenario, Tapanda battles his own alcoholism and a cynical hockey establishment, in addition to the parochial and class divisions within the team to get free India a gold, not so much for sporting glory and self realisation but to take revenge on our former colonisers.

Akshay Kumar in a still from Gold. Image via Twitter

In the tradition of several Akshay Kumar films of the past 3-4 years, Kagti — who earlier made the neatly irreverent Honeymoon Travels Pvt Ltd and the wonderfully mellow Talaash — goes full throttle into loud, chest-thumping nationalist territory for Gold. If a point has to be made, it is spelt out not once but repeatedly. If a personal experience has to be a source of inspiration for a brainwave on the hockey field, the dialogue from the earlier moment must be replayed, on the assumption perhaps that viewers are not bright enough to get the hint from the proceedings on screen. If two characters are going to be at war in the dressing room, then their potential clash is announced through a long song that stresses and re-stresses and further stresses their class differences, just in case the audience did not quite get it from the initial indicators of one chap’s evident wealth and the other’s evident lack of it. And when the national anthem plays in a scene that is truly and unexpectedly moving, the emotional resonance of the turn of events that preceded it is not deemed enough, the film’s patriotic fervour has to be underlined with a fluorescent marker in the form of one man — you can guess who — shouting “Vande Mataram.”

It is hard to understand why a filmmaker as gifted as Kagti could not see that there is melodrama and great beauty intrinsic to the story of a newly Independent and poor nation winning a hockey Olympic gold for the first time under its own flag. The failure to recognise this is Gold’s Achilles heel. When Kagti does manage to weave some moments of quiet into the larger tapestry of overstatement she is working on — such as that scene in which the team first realises they will be ripped apart by Partition, or the dynamics in the bar fight which almost destroys Team India, or the warmth between the former teammates turned rivals from India and Pakistan at Olympics 1948, and most of all the two hockey matches that dominate the closing half hour. These are the scenes in which we get to see what Gold could have been if it had not underestimated its audience or been overly anxious to cash in on the raucous, aggressive patriotism dominating the current national discourse.

Kagti has saved her best for Gold’s last 30 minutes, during which, despite all the film’s follies, I found myself cheering for the Indian team and welling up with emotion for them.

Of the cast, Sunny Kaushal and Amit Sadh play the only hockey players who are well fleshed out in the writing. The excellent Vineet Kumar Singh takes on the role of Imtiaz Ali Shah, captain of the undivided Indian team, giving his character far more heft than the screenplay affords. Akshay Kumar gets the most screen time, of course, as manager-cum-talent scout-cum-coach-cum-everything to the team, but delivers an awkward, uninspired performance in which his effort to be Bengali overshadows all else.

The oddest part of Gold is the fictionalisation of the hockey players who in reality won India a gold at the 1948 Olympics. Dhyan Chand and his teammates are all part of sporting legend in India, yet for some reason, instead of using the names of these men who did us proud and bringing their characters to life, we get made up names and characters based on their experiences in Gold instead. Yelling out “Vande Mataram” on screen can hardly compensate for this disservice to these great men.

Gold has its occasional redeeming moments, but for the most part it just skims the surface of a landscape once examined with such depth by Chak De! India.

Prabhas, Shraddha Kapoor to shoot last schedule of Sujeeth’s trilingual Saaho; film to release in 2019

Baahubali actor Prabhas, who is officially marking his debut in Bollywood with Saaho, is headed to Romania with the team to shoot the final schedule of the trilingual action drama. As reported by Mumbai Mirror, the film’s shooting will be concluded in December. Saaho went on the floors last year in September.

A source close to the film revealed that they have previously shot in Abu Dhabi and an extensive third schedule is currently in works in Hyderabad with the leads. “The shoot is expected to wrap up in a month and the film will be ready in time for New Year celebrations,” the source added.

Shraddha Kapoor and Prabhas in Saaho. Facebook

Saaho is Prabhas’ first outing since the mega-blockbuster, SS Rajamouli’s war epic Baahubali 2: The Conclusion earlier this year. Saaho also stars Shraddha Kapoor (marking her south cinema debut) opposite Prabhas. Neil Nitin Mukesh will play the chief antagonist and will be seen leading a brigade of villains that include his fellow Bollywood actors Jackie Shroff, Chunky Pandey, Tinnu Anand, Mahesh Manjrekar and Mandira Bedi.

According to telugucinema.com, Saaho is going to be the second-most expensive film ever made in India, with a budget of Rs 250 Crore. The film is being shot simultaneously in Telugu, Tamil, Hindi and Malayalam languages.

The film also stars Tamil actor and playback singer Arun Vijay and Malayalam actor Lal. It is co-produced by UV Creations and Karan Johar’s Dharma Productions. It will be simultaneously released in Hindi, Tamil and Telugu and is slated to release sometime in 2018.

Karan Johar on upcoming multi-starrer Takht: It’s like Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham of Mughal era

Karan Johar, in an interview with Film Companion, revealed more details of his upcoming multi-starrer Takht.

Talking to Anupama Chopra, Johar, who is directing Takht under his banner Dharma Productions, compared the epic set during Mughal times to his family drama Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham. The filmmaker said that Takht is about two warring brothers and is based on historical facts. Johar said that Takht is like “the K3G of the Mughal era”, but more extreme and with more betrayal. He also said that Takht has the tropes of court politics and is rich in texture.

Speaking about the film’s cast, which includes Ranveer Singh, Kareena Kapoor Khan, Janhvi Kapoor, Vicky Kaushal and Anil Kapoor, he said, “It’s an unusual mix of talent. They are actors who have walked the parallel path, we have the superstar dynamic with Kareena, there’s Anil Kapoor who I have never directed before – but each actor fits the part to the tee. It’s not that I have gone to them because I have access. It’s a strange dichotomy. Each one has never played a part like this and yet each one fit it perfectly.”

Karan Johar/Image from YouTube.

Johar also confirmed that Takht will be his biggest film scale-wise. Johar is known for directing larger-than-life family dramas such as Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna, My Name is Khan and Ae Dil Hai Mushkil. This will be the first time Johar will be tacking a historical movie.

Also read: Karan Johar’s Takht to star Kareena Kapoor, Janhvi, Alia Bhatt; Twitter wonders why Taimur missed the mark

Fans and the media have been speculating that the upcoming movie may be based on the war between Shah Jahan’s son Aurangzeb and Dara Shukoh. There have also been speculations that Ranveer Singh will be playing Aurangzeb, and Kareena Kapoor Khan will be seen playing his sister and the first lady of the Mughal Empire, Jahanara Begum.

Talking about comparisons with Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s historical trilogy, Johar told Film Companion that the comparison is very challenging but he hopes he can find his own voice.

Karan most recently directed a short film as part of the Netflix anthology Lust Stories.

Helicopter Eela: First look of new song ‘Mumma Ki Parchai’ depicts Kajol as an ever-nagging mother

Helicopter Eela, which features Kajol and National Award winning actor Riddhi Sen, is a fun take on new ways of parenting. The Pradeep Sarkar directorial’s new song titled ‘Mumma Ki Parchai’ will release on 13 August.

A still from the song in Helicopter Eela

The song is a hilarious take on the ever-nagging avatar of Kajol’s character (as the mother). Riddhi’s character, is the teenager, exasperated with his mother’s sheltering and slightly overbearing attitude. It is composed by Amit Trivedi and voiced by Pradeep Sarkar’s son, Ronit Sarkar.

The narrative of Helicopter Eela, as reported earlier shows Kajol as a free-spirited but overprotective single mother who goes back to college to finish her degree. However, that is not all. She goes back to college also because she wants to spend more time with her teenage son, who also studies in the same institute. That, along with a round of tantrums fuelled by the dreaded teenage rebellion marks the start of an eventful journey full of discoveries, conflict and tears.

Talking about the peculiar title of Helicopter Eela, Ajay Devgn, who is also a producer behind the project, explained the meaning of the movie’s name. “Anand Gandhi narrated the story to me. So then I started rounding up my team. I narrated it to Dada (Pradeep Sarkar) and that is how Eela was put into place. It was initially only titled Eela but then we came across this American concept of ‘helicopter parents’ who hover around their children all the time. In India, every mother is a helicopter mother so we named it Helicopter Eela,” said the actor.

The film is slated to release on 7 September, 2018.

Salman Khan on Priyanka Chopra’s exit from Bharat: Supportive of her doing good work, she makes India proud

Priyanka Chopra’s sudden departure from Salman Khan-starrer Bharat had given rise to speculation that the Dabangg actor had vowed never to work with the actress again. At the Delhi trailer launch of Loveratri, which is being produced by Salman Khan Films, he responded to Priyanka’s decision of abruptly leaving the Ali Abbas Zafar directorial.

File images of Salman Khan and Priyanka Chopra

During his interaction with the media for the trailer launch event, Khan said that he had not been following the news for a while. “I’ve not been reading the newspapers for the past 3-4 days. I have been busy with things. When I do happen to read, I will call and answer your questions,” said the actor, as per a Hindustan Times report.

Despite displaying initial hesitation, Khan spoke at length about at the Delhi event. As per a newer report from the same publication, he said that Priyanka informed them about leaving the film 10 days before her shoot was to begin. “I am really happy for her. Had we known that she has signed such a big film in Hollywood and known it well in advance, we would not have stopped her from leaving our film. She told us at the very last moment, just 10 days before shoot. My shooting had already begun but we got to know she wants to leave the film just 10 days before shoot,” he said.

Further, the actor stated that he was supportive of Priyanka’s decision. “We said of course, if you don’t want to do it, don’t do it. We were given different reasons back then. But whatever the reason may be, the wedding, the movie, or if she doesn’t want to work in an Indian movie, or doesn’t want to work with me, or work only in Hollywood film and TV, these are her reasons. We are really happy and supportive about her doing good work,” he was quoted as saying in the event.

Salman added that Priyanka’s work in either of the industries was ultimately making India proud.

The news that Chopra would no longer be a part of Bharat owing to a very special reason was shared by Ali Abbas Zafar on 27 July.

A whirlwind of rumours started churning after the exit with Madhu Chopra, Priyanka’s mothersaying that the media was responsible for the rumours. She said, as per a Times of India report, “You people (media) only make such stuff up, Salman is not upset with her.”

As a matter of fact, Salman’s father Salim Khan had refuted the rumours as well, iterating that such incidents are common in the industry. “It’s okay whatever happened. Priyanka is not doing Bharat, let her be. Such things happen in our industry”. he told SpotBoye in an interview.

Recently, it was announced that Katrina Kaif, who was the original choice for the makers, had replaced Priyanka in Bharat.

Laila Majnu trailer: Imtiaz Ali, Ekta Kapoor’s modern adaption tells a riveting love story set in Kashmir

The first trailer of Ekta Kapoor and Imtiaz Ali’s upcoming film, Laila Majnu, has been released. Written and directed by Imtiaz’s brother Sajid Ali, the project is a modern retelling of the legendary love story.

The trailer starts with the lead actor talking about how love is not love as long as there is no madness to it. The lead actress is introduced as a ‘big flirt’ and the actor as a ‘rich spoilt brat’ who loves women and drinking. The two are shown falling in love gradually, before everything stars to fall apart.

A still from Laila Majnu/Image from YouTube.

Set in Kashmir, the trailer features moments which put the valley’s scenic beauty at the forefront. Staying true to the classic story of Laila Majnu, the trailer shows the couple put a brave front in the face of evil forces who want them to go separate ways. Attraction, love, separation and tribulation are some of the themes that have been explored in the film, going by the trailer.

The makers had earlier released the first look and teaser of the movie, which had been attached to Kareena Kapoor Khan, Sonam Kapoor, Swara Bhasker and Shikha Talsania-starrer Veere Di Wedding.

Salman Khan’s Bharat first schedule wrapped up in Mumbai, Katrina Kaif, Disha Patani to shoot in Malta next

Mumbai: The first schedule of superstar Salman Khan starrer Bharat has concluded in Mumbai with two dramatic sequences done.

File image of Salman Khan

The film’s cast, including actress Katrina Kaif, Disha Patani, Sunil Grover and Tabu will be shooting in Malta for the next schedule.

Zafar has previously worked with Salman in blockbusters like Sultan and Tiger Zinda Hai.

The recent exit of Priyanka Chopra from the film had stirred up a whirlwind of rumours, with reports mentioning that Salman has vowed to not work with the Quantico actress anymore. However, Priyanka Chopra mother Madhu Chopra dismissed such talks, stating that it was the media who was responsible for cooking up baseless stories.

Salman Khan’s father, Salim Khan too had refuted the rumours, iterating that such incidents are common in the industry.

An earlier report had shed light on ‘Slow Motion’, a song in Bharat which is supposed to be a tribute to the 1960s-70s era when Russian circus’ popularity was at its peak.

The film is an official adaptation of a 2014 South Korean film Ode To My Father. It is produced by Atul Agnihotri’s Reel Life Production Pvt Ltd and Bhushan Kumar’s T-Series.

Bharat is slated for an Eid release in 2019.

Akshay Kumar on his Gold co-star: ‘TV actors like Mouni Roy work much harder than we do

Akshay Kumar recently appreciated debutante Mouni Roy for her hardworking nature. Kumar and Roy will be seen together on the silver screen with Gold.

Akshay Kumar and Mouni Roy in 'Naino Ne Baandhi' from Gold. Youtube screengrab

In a recent event, Mouni was asked to talk about her experiences of working on films as well as on daily soaps. That is when Akshay took up the opportunity to answer the question on Mouni’s behalf. He said, “I Think I will answer it. I think they work much harder than us.”

Till now, the makers of of the film have come up with two songs from the film which features the lead pair Akshay and Mouni. The first is ‘Naino Se Baandhi’ where the duo is depicted as a much-in-love husband and wife while the second, ‘Chad Gayi Hai’, features a drunk Akshay and an embarrassed Mouni.

Gold not only marks the Bollywood debut of Mouni alongside Akshay but is also the first association between Akshay Kumar and Excel Entertainment which is helmed by Ritesh Sidhwani and Farhan Akhtar.

Other than the lead pair, the film also stars Kunal Kapoor, Amit Sadh, Vineet Singh and Sunny Kaushal.

Directed by Reema Kagti, the film is all set to release on 15 August, 2018.

From Rockstar to Sanju, how Ranbir Kapoor’s experiments as an actor also won over the box office

Often male actors are not lucky enough that their career-defining performances also end up becoming their biggest box office success. For a long time, Aamir Khan’s biggest money-spinner, Raja Hindustani, was not the performance that the actor would have ideally liked people to remember him by. Similarly, for Shah Rukh Khan a Happy New Year or a Chennai Express finding more box office success than a Chak De India or a Swades spoke of how the audiences loved him in a certain way. When it comes to Ranbir Kapoor, his most compelling performance — Rocket Singh: Salesman of the Year — received a lukewarm response at the box office. However, films where his performances have been strongest — Rockstar and Barfi, for instance have also enjoyed commercial success. With Sanju opening to both critical acclaim (specifically for Kapoor) as well as brisk box office collections (the film has had the highest opening of 2018 thus far), the young star is poised to add yet another career-defining role that is also a commercial success to his repertoire.

(Clockwise from top) Ranbir Kapoor in Sanju; Barfi; Rockstar; Rocket Singh — Salesman of the Year

While Kapoor might not the most consistent contemporary male star in Bollywood when it comes to commercial success, there is little doubt about his unique position. For a long time, Kapoor has been considered the ‘great hope’ of commercial Hindi cinema and while one could ascribe it to his ‘Kapoor’ lineage, it’s not that he hasn’t proved he’s more than a famous surname. What does make Ranbir Kapoor unique among his peers is the manner in which he seems to be insulated from the box office fate of his films. Once again, a few might be quick to credit his pedigree for this ‘first in case of fire’ kind of love the industry showers on him, but there seems to be a genuine fondness for Kapoor in the viewer who is willing to forgive him for misfires like Roy, Besharam and Bombay Velvet.

One of the reasons why Kapoor gets — for want of a better expression — a slew of unending chances, is the earnestness that he displays as an actor.

Right from Saawariya (2007), which despite having Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s name attached to it was probably the worst debut a star child — and that too a ‘Kapoor’ — could have asked for, to Sanju where he ‘becomes’ Sanjay Dutt, there is rarely a moment from any of his films where Kapoor doesn’t seem to be working on his characters. Kapoor more than managed to get back on his feet post-Saawariya with Bachna Ae Haseeno (2008) — a typical new Bollywood production — but it was the three releases that he had the next year that probably ensured Kapoor’s status for not just the industry but also the audiences as well as critics. In a single year, 2009, Kapoor had a masala Hindi film (Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani), a pitch-perfect story for the upwardly mobile multiplex audience (Wake Up Sid) and a favourite of critics and the discerning Hindi film aficionado (Rocket Singh: Salesman of the Year). The first was Kapoor’s maiden blockbuster, the second a hit that enjoyed a following in some territories and the last — in spite being a complete washout commercially — charmed just about anyone who saw it.

Kapoor is also one of the few new-age male stars in Hindi films who seem to steer clear of multi-starrers or two-hero projects. He is also a rare variety, who, even within the trappings of popular Hindi cinema, has managed to infuse a semblance of experimentation. His Rocket Singh: Salesman of the Year, now seems like the ‘art-house’ foray that actors in the 1970s or 1980s would attempt — Rajesh Khanna and Sharmila Tagore in Avishkaar, Dimple Kapadia in Rudali, etc — and even Raajneeti (2010) seems like an attempt to push himself without going too far. Rockstar (2011) and Barfi (2012) fit the description of being same, same but different and both hit the sweet spot both in terms of commercial success as well as critical acclaim.

As someone who grew up in the midst of the film business, Ranbir (just like a Sunny Deol, Sanjay Dutt, Ajay Devgn, Karisma Kapoor or Sonam) could have a subconscious fear of spiralling out of orbit while attempting a particular kind of role. Who knows, this could be at the back of Ranbir’s mind when he agreed to do a Besharam, which was more of a ‘standard Hindi film’ than his other filmography. The last few releases might have seen Kapoor oscillate between success and abject failure — Bombay Velvet (2015), Tamasha (2015), Ae Dil Hai Mushkil (2016), Jagga Jasoos (2017). But when his enacting of the famous scene from Munnabhai MBBS (where he channels Sanjay Dutt’s character questioning if a patient should fill out paperwork before being admitted to a hospital even if he/she is on the verge of death) brings people in droves to the theatres — as is the case with Sanju — then you know that Ranbir Kapoor truly is living it up.

Manisha Koirala is ‘super thrilled’ to work with Sanjay Dutt in Prasthaanam: ‘He’s all heart’

Mumbai: Actress Manisha Koirala, who was last seen onscreen in the Netflix film Lust Stories, said she is super thrilled to work with Sanjay Dutt after a decade in the remake of Telugu drama Prasthaanam.

Manisha Koirala was interacting with media to promote her forthcoming film Sanju on 26 June in Mumbai.

Still from Sanju. Image from YouTube