Category Archives: Uncategorized

October trailer: Varun Dhawan, Banita Sandhu-starrer is an evocative, visually pleasing story of love

The trailer of Shoojit Sircar’s October with Varun Dhawan and Banita Sandhu in leading roles has been released. Dhawan and Sandhu play Dan and Shiuli respectively, two young hotel management trainees. The job always gets the better of Dhawan. Soon, their ordinary lives are shaken up after a traumatic event, never to be the same again.

october 825

Ever since it was announced, the film is being touted as a unique love story devoid of love at first sight and other run-of-the-mill tropes. The film has been promoted as a celebration of love, nature and the autumn season — a theme that is unmistakable in the October trailer, too.

After Sandhu ends up in the ICU after a life-altering incident, Dhawan devotes himself to her, her condition affecting him more than it probably should. Sandhu, who is making her acting debut with October, does not get a lot of dialogues in the trailer, but her expressions are enough to convey what her character is feeling. The cinematography shines in the 2-minute trailer, which mostly consists of dark tones and sombre lights that bring a chilly vibe.

Sircar, who has films like Piku, Vicky Donor and Madras Cafe to his credit, is known for his unique storytelling style. In October, too, his vision shines through and you can tell, that he is the force behind the perceptible change in Dhawan’s approach.

AR Rahman and Komail Shayan have combined their brilliance to dish out a pacifying score for this Rising Sun Films production. October is slated to release on 13 April, 2018.

Sridevi’s death marks a funeral of sorts for the Hindi cinema she helped add new dimensions to as well

It has been nearly four days since Sridevi, Bollywood’s first female superstar, passed away, and yet, it has not become churlish to ask the when, why, and how of this untimely, unkind occurrence. How could Sridevi — she who, however vociferously withdrawn, looked so immortal — just die? I will not meditate on its pulsating finality, for mourning is merely a word. The teetering question that obituary formalises and makes powerless is a question that no ordinary death can inspire from grief — how could the universe, so broken, have the audacity to take Sridevi away?

Anybody who has seen Sridevi being interviewed, presumably by a Rajeev Masand or an Anupama Chopra, would remember her characteristically cold, distant giggling after answering a painstakingly worded question so insufficiently that one would wonder if she were really an actor. To me, rapt in observation, unable to understand how unforgiving the world was to those who did not perform, and unaware that adulthood is only to pretend to be who we are, there was profound, hopeful meaning in silence; in the many quiet moments that these conversations with Sridevi would invariably sire, I imagined that she would break into a song and re-enter the person of Hawa Hawai in garish dress, with idiosyncratic expressions on her face but not a care in the world, trying and pretending to synchronise her performance with her dancers as effortlessly as Madhuri Dixit could but hopelessly, delightfully failing, and yet, convinced that she could seize pearls from the sea, flame from a torch, and the night from one’s heart (saagar se moti chheenu, deepak se jyoti chheenu, seene se raat chura lun…) She did not, and she could not. Sridevi may have taught us that it was fine to fail, but it was not a lesson she ever learned for herself.

Sridevi as Hawa Hawai in Mr India. YouTube screenshot

This piece, however, is not about the author, or, for that matter, about his subject, central as she may be to it. This is about cinema, or film as the genteel among us would have it: a curious creature that Sridevi came to love, even inhabit, and in whose history her death leaves an impossible end from which there can be no return. In death, she leaves Hindi cinema much poorer than when she found it and much more desperate to have her back. But death does not break into a song.

From the wise measurement of retrospect, the 1980s have — time and again — been castigated as the unfortunate decade when commercial, mainstream cinema extended its insidious reach into the production of artless, crass, sensationalist films. The trend directed innovation and artistic energy towards a stream of filmmaking that would become ‘parallel’ cinema and exist, as in the name, in uncomfortable tandem with its more popular and widely-known adversary. While an incipient postcolonial nationalism had been the inscription of Hindi cinema in the 1950s, 1960s, and the 1970s, the novelty of nationalism, so fresh and heartfelt in the decades that had passed, visibly tapered as the imagined community gave uncertain way to bona fide individual ambition (think Gol Maal, 1979). This latter was a social impulse that would become economically and politically significant only a decade later, as India let down its economic borders and bolstered its limits of sovereignty through the serious pastiche of nuclear spectacle.

The weakening of the nationalist spirit, however, released spirits that few had anticipated and even fewer could tame. There is no better embodied encapsulation of this than Mithun Chakraborty’s titular Disco Dancer (1982) where Chakraborty’s Jimmy rises from seemingly obscure origins to a life of a post-reason disco glory, dissolving nationalist quotidianism and inherited ideas of respectability into an unprecedentedly energetic but eventually incomprehensible template both unbeknownst and tantalising to and for its progressively transforming public. As the dissipation of nationalist zeal pulverised energies like the aforesaid that no one had seen or even desired to, those whom nationalism had other-ed (here, women) short-changed their positions in the settled margins, prepared and unafraid to confront orthodoxies of cinema, and if it ever came to that, of the nation.

Sridevi with Rishi Kapoor in Chandni

This is a point Jerry Pinto forcefully made for Helen and many others for the iconic Smita Patil and Shabana Azmi. But here we may also submit that the 1980s were significant for another reason — it was in this decade that Shree Amma Yanger Ayyapan would become Sridevi for Hindi cinema. Little did Hindi cinema know that in re-naming Shree to the palatable Sridevi, it too would be re-scripted. In Sadma (1983), Nagina (1986), Mr India (1987), and Chandni (1989), to name but a few and even so without nuanced survey, Sridevi evolved, as it were, a new grammar of cinema for its more rustic Hindi formation, having come first of age and only then of sensibility. Female protagonists could no longer be relegated, at least not without the counter-possibility that Sridevi and some of her contemporaries made possible, to the honour of service as artefacts of celebrated plots or reinforcing embellishments of the hero’s loud, trumpeted masculinity. The social mores that nationalist disciplining had left behind remained in sure place but could no longer rationalise why a lady could not have her dance — and take befitting pleasure in it. While this may, particularly to the conservatives among and within us, appear as a needless, egregious exhibition of female sexuality, only those with a sense of this temporality will grasp its extraordinariness — sexuality, hitherto tethered to all —encompassing and therefore all-erasing projects, was unshackled, ontologically liberated, if only within limits, and catapulted to the polaroid through women who took little care and special delight in its performance. As Dhrubo Jyoti has recounted in an impassioned tribute, this performance was an iconography for all those unacceptables whose dress was not so garish and homes welcoming but desires as queer. Sridevi had none of Madhuri Dixit’s swan-like agility, but what she also did not have was her sense of refinement and its likely spawn, shame. If dance was an act that Dixit made into art, Sridevi was of the rare pedigree peopled by one whose dance art would beg to become.

Sridevi in a still from Lamhe

As India liberalised in the wake of the 1990s, an event nearly as cataclysmic as anticipated, it did so with a flourish and a very American sense of manifest destiny. Films of this period evidence the rise of whom sociological theory can only call ‘the aspirational middle class’ and a simultaneous aestheticisation of globalisation. There is no mention of Bollywood in the 1990s without mention of Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge, that evergreen reservoir of romance for those ignorant of cinematic pre-history. DDLJ, as it has come to be cherished, is curious for its stunning globality as Shah Rukh Khan romances a young woman (a practice Khan merrily continues decades later), across the panoramic Alps of Europe and the infinitely stretching mustard fields of rural Punjab. More critically, female protagonists and sidekicks whose femininity had spoken its name in the 1980s both prepared the ground for and participated in the making of love that was not, to bitter scandal, marital or did not necessarily lead to matrimony. Sridevi’s Lamhe (1991) is a striking example although matrimony is also its implied end. While critics lauded the film as a frame beyond its time, the film did comatose business and ruptured the sense of sexual governance implicit in the making of films and lives — Pallavi/Pooja’s desire is existent and expressive, repressed neither by the domineering reiteration of social codes nor the reproductive economy that makes her love for Viren incestuous. To desire is a good heroine’s murderous sin, and Sridevi sinned frequently and always, with a spring in her step. But then, Sridevi was never a ‘good’ heroine — good heroines are happy to be merely sighted and happier to be forgotten. She was terrible and terribly memorable.

There is a world that changed with the millennium, and while one would like to read the awkward, effortless, beautiful English Vinglish (2012) as a product of the gaudily imitative, maudlin, English-worshipping India that liberalisation presented to us, there is much to say of the ground that has shifted in the vein of the irrevocable. Sridevi may have returned after 15 years of domesticity, a husband, and offspring, but this was not her world. Hindi cinema today has entered a degenerative phase of tragedy — our nationalism is aggressive and aggrandising, our communitarianism is dishonest and blithering, our religious politics searches for prey to demonise and ethically assault. Sridevi’s death would not be so personal if it were not so political, and as funeral awaits her, a similar fate befalls the cinema of her times.

Sridevi accorded state funeral; celebrities, fans pay final respects to the screen legend

Bollywood superstar Sridevi was cremated with state honors at Mumbai’s Vile Parle Seva Samaj Crematorium on 28 February, Wednesday evening, news agency PTI reported.

Wrapped in the tricolor, the Indian cinema icon began her final journey with thousands of mourners jostling with each other to catch a glimpse of her cortege as it slowly made its way through the city to the Vile Parle crematorium.

The body of the 54-year-old, who died in Dubai on 24 February, Saturday, was taken in a hearse that was covered with white flowers, the color of mourning.

Sridevi, Indian cinema’s first woman superstar, was given a gun salute at the Celebration Sports Club, minutes away from her home in Green Acres, Lokhandwala where her body was kept before leaving for its last journey.

Her filmmaker husband Boney Kapoor, stepson Arjun Kapoor and other family members were with the body as it left the building.

As crowds mobbed the vehicle — with some climbing on trees and clambering on gates to get a better look — Arjun Kapoor requested them with folded hands to let the funeral procession pass through.

Thousands of people walked along with the hearse as it left the venue for the crematorium, about seven kilometers away. There was a sea of people as far as the eye could see.

A view of Sridevi's funeral/Image from Twitter.

A prayer was performed at the hall before taking the actor’s body for the last rites. The white hearse had a giant photograph of the much loved actor edged with white flowers. It was the theme of the day with white lilies, mogra and red roses also covering the hall where her body was kept. With flowers in their hands and a prayer for their screen idol on their lips, thousands of fans filed past the body at the hall to pay their last respects.

Sridevi’s body was brought to the venue at 9 am by her family members. Inside the hall, her family, including brothers-in-law Anil Kapoor and Sanjay Kapoor as well as nephew Harshvardhan Kapoor and nieces Sonam Kapoor and Rhea Kapoor, stood in a corner, their eyes wet with tears.

Sridevi’s daughters Jahnvi and Khushi were standing a little behind them.

The actor’s mortal remains were draped in a red kanjivaram sari with a bindi on her forehead. A sombre, red-eyed Boney Kapoor stood in a corner surrounded by his family and friends from the film fraternity. Fashion designer Manish Malhotra broke down and was consoled by film-maker Karan Johar, who was also unable to control his grief. Rani Mukerji sat near the body, and was consoling Sonam Kapoor, her niece.

The hall had three entry points – for VIPs, the media and the public. Nearly 200 policemen were present at the venue to keep the crowd in check. While the gates for the general public opened after 10 am, fans from across the country started queuing up to pay their last respects to the ‘Chandni’ star since 6 in the morning.

People came from as far as Karnataka and Chennai to catch the last glimpse of their screen idol. Among the crowd was a group of fans from Karnataka waiting to pay their respects to the actor. “We were there even at Anil Kapoor’s bungalow earlier and will not leave Mumbai without seeing our idol,” said a fan waiting in the line.

A galaxy of stars, young and old, joined the family in mourning the sudden death of the pan India star, who acted in 300 films and began her career when she was only four.

The body of Sridevi was flown back to Mumbai last night after the Dubai authorities determined that she had accidentally drowned in her hotel bathtub.

Malayalam filmmaker Jeethu Joseph to make Bollywood debut with horror film starring Rishi Kapoor, Emraan Hashmi

Mumbai: Critically acclaimed Malayalam filmmaker Jeethu Joseph, best known for helming Mohanlal-starrer Drishyam, is gearing up to make his Bollywood debut with a horror film starring actors Rishi Kapoor and Emraan Hashmi.

From left: Emraan Hashmi, Jeethu Joseph and RishiKapoor. Facebook

AZURE Entertainment and Viacom18 Motion Pictures announced a collaboration to produce Jeethu Joseph’s Hindi film debut on 19 February in a statement.

“Directing a Hindi feature film has been on the anvil for some time and I have been waiting for the right story. This crime mystery thriller with elements of horror has excited me tremendously and we have got perfect casting for the two protagonists in the film. I am looking forward to start the film at the earliest,” said Joseph.

The yet untitled film will be shot in a single schedule between May and July.

Emraan said that the project will be “a riveting, nail biting treat for fans of the genre and with Jeethu at the helm of things. I’m confident the film will be a game changer”.

Ajit Andhare, Chief Operating Officer, Viacom18 Motion Pictures, said, “Ever since we produced Drishyam, a Hindi remake of Jeethu Joseph’s original masterpiece, we have been looking for a subject to make with Jeethu in Hindi.”

Sasural Simar Ka actress Dipika Kakar to make Bollywood debut with JP Dutta’s Paltan

Sasural Simar Ka actress Dipika Kakar is all set to make her Bollywood debut and join the cast of JP Dutta’s ensemble war film Paltan alongside Suniel Shetty, Sonu Sood, Rana Daggubati, Pulkit Samrat, Siddhanth Kapoor, Arjun Rampal, Harshvardhan Rane and Gurmeet Choudhary.

Dipika Kakar. Image from Instagram/ms.dipika

Kakar took to her Instagram profile to share the news with her follower in a surprise announcement. She captioned the photograph of the film’s poster “What better could I ask for than being a part of a #JPDuttaFilm as my first one!! Such an honour to join the Paltan

Padman becomes first Bollywood film to have simultaneous release in Russia, Iraq and Ivory Coast

Mumbai: Padman will become Bollywood’s first film that will release in Russia, Ivory Coast and Iraq on the same day as it hits the screens in India, says producer Twinkle Khanna.

“I once told my Padman that I will take him places… Well, not only will Padman release in 50 countries all over the world but it is Bollywood’s first film that will be releasing day and date in Russia, Ivory Coast and even Iraq,” Twinkle tweeted on Wednesday.

Akshay Kumar in a still from PadMan. YouTube

Directed by R Balki, Padman, releasing on Friday, is based on the story of a real-life hero and addresses the issue of menstrual hygiene.

The film, starring Akshay Kumar, Sonam Kapoor and Radhika Apte, is based on the story of Arunachalam Muruganantham, who brought about a near revolution by introducing a machine capable of producing low-cost sanitary pads.

Kangana Ranaut doesn’t mind working with Karan Johar; says, ‘I’m not going to compromise on my opportunities’

Mumbai: Actor Kangana Ranaut, on 4 February, said she considers herself to be the “most professional” artiste in the film industry and that her tiff with director Karan Johar is an assumed phenomenon.

Guilty as charged: Karan Johar, Kangana Ranaut, and their now infamour nepotism row has got a fresh boost

The actor, who infamously branded the filmmaker as “the flag bearer of nepotism” last year in 2017, said she never declared that she would not want to work with him.

“I don’t harbour notions about anyone. That I don’t want to work with someone. And it is also not necessary that we have to be friends with everyone. I don’t think one needs to venture into someone else’s personal space. I think I’m the most professional person and I’m a career woman,” Kangana told the reporters on the sidelines of the Lakme Fashion Week Summer/Resort 2018.

“My career means a lot to me. I’m not going to compromise on my opportunities… I’m a go-getter and I’m going to get what I want, regardless of what people feel or don’t feel,” she added.

The actor had recently made headlines after she shared the stage with Karan, along with director Rohit Shetty on the sets of the reality-acting show, India’s Next Superstar.

Kangana turned showstopper for designer duo Shyamal and Bhumika for their collection Wonderland at the fashion extravaganza on 4 February.

The National Award-winning actor stunned the crowd in her pearly white sophisticated bridal couture.

When asked about her marriage plans, Kangana said she will tie the knot “soon”.

“Please give me a deadline until next February,” she quipped.

About the progress of her upcoming film, Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi, Kangana said that film is expected to arrive in theatres by year end.

“The film was earlier scheduled to be released on 27 April but as it is heavy with VFX, it is expected to be out at the end of the year. Zee is planning to announce it in a big way. So let’s wait till then,” she said.

Manikarnika is a collaboration between Eros and Zee Entertainment.

Aiyaary: Release of Neeraj Pandey’s upcoming film pushed to 16 February to avoid clash with Pad Man

The release of Neeraj Pandey’s Aiyaary, which was supposed to hit theatres on 9 February, has been postponed by a week.

Film critic and trade analyst Taran Adarsh confirmed the deferral in a tweet, saying “It’s CONFIRMED… #Aiyaary shifted to 16 Feb 2018.”

Sidharth Malhotra in a still from Aiyaary. YouTube

The film has hardly had a smooth journey to the screens. It was originally slated for release on 25 January to make the most of the long Republic Day weekend. But after Padmaavat got a final release date on the same day, the makers of Aiyaary moved its release to 9 February to avoid clashing with it.

However, Akshay Kumar, as a move in support of Sanjay Leela Bhansali and to let Padmaavat get a solo release, shifted Pad Man to 9 February, bringing the situation back to square one.

In Aiyaary, Sidharth Malhotra plays an Army officer who has an ideological difference with another senior officer, played by Manoj Bajpayee. The movie also features Rakul Preet Singh, Anupam Kher and Naseeruddin Shah.

Ranveer Singh on Padmaavat: As an actor, I looked on Alauddin Khilji as a challenge

Mumbai: Bollywood star Ranveer Singh, who has registered his biggest opening day collection with Padmaavat, says most people had told him that a hero shouldn’t play the anti-hero.

Padmaavat, directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali, registered opening day collections of Rs 19 crore net, according to producers Bhansali Productions and Viacom18 Motion Pictures.

For Ranveer, whose previous best opening day records were for Gunday (Rs 16.12 crore net) and Goliyon Ki Raasleela: Ram-Leela (Rs 16 crore net), playing a merciless anti-hero Alauddin Khilji was a gamble.

Ranveer Singh in Padmaavat as Alauddin Khilji

Ranveer said in a statement to IANS: “It is extremely rare and overwhelming to get this kind of love from the audience. I’m grateful and touched that everyone has been so appreciative of my performance.”

While the critics have lauded Ranveer for giving Bollywood one of its best villains through his performance, the actor said: “I will be honest — when I was offered Padmaavat, most people were of the opinion that a hero should not play the anti-hero.”

“But I believed otherwise. I saw Khilji as a challenge for me, as an actor. And I wanted to take the challenge up. I went with the vision of Sanjay Leela Bhansali and my instinct of what I could achieve with Khilji.”

“I’m happy that the audiences are seeing and loving a character that both Sanjay sir and I have worked on tirelessly for over two years to bring to life.”

Thrilled about the response, he said: “I took a big risk with this character and it’s wonderful to see my gamble pay off. This kind of validation gives one the confidence to take bigger and bigger risks, challenge stereotypes and continue to push the envelope in the realm of mainstream Hindi cinema.”

“I feel very happy and very fulfilled today.”

The movie, based on 16th century poet Malik Muhammad Jayasi’s Padmavat, also stars Deepika Padukone and Shahid Kapoor. It released on 25 January amid much brouhaha as the Shri Rajput Karni Sena protested over the alleged distortion of facts in the movie.

Akshay Kumar, Rajnath Singh unveil the official Bharat Ke Veer anthem, sang by Kailash Kher

As part of the Bharat Ke Veer initiative, which is a corpus fund to help the families of paramilitary troopers killed in the line of duty, an official anthem was launched hereon Saturday, 20 January.

The anthem, sung and composed by singer Kailash Kher, was launched at an event which was attended by Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, his deputies Kiren Rijiju and Hansraj Ahir, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba and Bollywood actor Akshay Kumar.

During the event, an amount of Rs 12.93 crore was raised for the fund with the participation and contribution from celebrities like Akshay, Kailash and people from the corporate world.

The event was also attended by heads of all the Central Armed Police Forces.

“We have launched this anthem. I ask everyone who love music to download this anthem. Whatever money will come from this anthem’s downloads will be donated to this initiative,” said Kher.

Rijiju, who officially launched the anthem, said, “I knew that for a patriotic song the most suitable voice is Kailash Kher. His name came automatically in my mind. So I told him about it and he agreed to do his bit for this initiative. He wrote the song very fast and he shared it me. I felt very good by all this,” he added.

The Bharat Ke Veer initiative was launched by the home minister in April last year and seeks to help families of paramilitary personnel killed in combat operations.

As part of the initiative, a corpus fund was formed to raise money for the families of martyred soldiers.

Rajnath Singh and Akshay Kumar at the Bharat Ke Veer launch/Image from Twitter.

Speaking at the event, the home minister said, “Our soldiers risk their lives to maintain peace in the country, and we are not able to do much for their families. It is a fact that whatever we do for the families of our martyred will always be less. It can’t be said that it is enough. No matter how much money we give them, we can all agree that we cannot compare a man’s life in terms of money.”

Singh also lauded Akshay for the role he is playing in taking forward the initiative to help the soldiers’ families.

“I want all the families of martyred soldiers to get at least Rs 1 crore and that is the idea behind the launch of the website Bharat Ke Veer (through which people can contribute). I feel happy that people are contributing to this fund with all their heart,” he said.

The event, organised by Dalmia Bharat Group, also witnessed the launch of an Amar Chitra Katha graphic novel by Anurag Agarwal depicting the stories of CAPF’s soldiers.

A short film on soldiers and their families, directed by Adi Pocha, was also released at the event by Ahir.

Akshay, who is the brand ambassador of the Bharat Ke Veer initiative, said, “Like the minister said, we have to come to ask everybody’s help for this (initiative). With my folded hands, I ask everybody here plus all our countrymen to help this initiative in a very big way.”

He also appealed to the home minister to start a similar initiative for the soldiers who get disabled during combat missions.