Category Archives: Bollywood News

Thugs of Hindostan is nothing but a failed masala film going through the motions of patriotism

Thugs of Hindostan is a disaster, and it will remain so even if it makes some profit in the end, since more things than economics decide ‘success’ in cinema. It may be difficult to make this point to a Bollywood producer, but the success of a film venture is less dependent on the genius of the director and the technical or visual add-ons than on touching emotional chords with the film-going public, traceable to the socio-political issues of the day — though the political links may not always be visible. 3 Idiots (2009) had a message pertaining to self-actualisation just when the urban youth had been enthused by stories of Indians doing well in the global arena, and it celebrated the ‘Indian genius’. Patriotic films similarly latch on to sentiments in the public space but they need to tap the right kind of patriotism.

At the present moment, it would appear, anti-Pakistani sentiment is a more reliable way of bringing audiences into the halls than anti-colonial rhetoric, which is what Thugs of Hindostan offers. My own view is that anti-colonial rhetoric stopped being pertinent after the Congress era — since the Congress subsisted on the mythology around the freedom struggle, and kept the sentiment alive. Even under the Congress, the sentiment was already weakening and the last (moderately) successful anti-British film may have been 1942: A Love Story (1994), which was sold more on the basis of RD Burman’s music. If Lagaan (2000) was also ‘anti-British’, it tapped into cricketing patriotism, current to this day, rather than into any anti-colonial feelings. The anti-colonial rhetoric in Thugs of Hindostan is ludicrous and the film’s closest relative from Bollywood may be Manmohan Desai’s Mard (1985), a failed masala film; Thugs of Hindostan may also be described thus – as a failed masala film going through the motions of patriotism.

Aamir Khan and Katrina Kaif in a still from Thugs of Hindostan. Image via Twitter

This leads us to the question of what a ‘masala film’ is and why Thugs of Hindostan cannot be termed a ‘successful masala film’. My view here is that a masala film is a difficult object to create and one of the few masala classics in Hindi cinema hitherto has been Manmohan Desai’s Amar Akbar Anthony (1977). A masala film by definition is a film that uses all the standard ingredients of popular cinema self-consciously, to the extent of making it border on its own parody. Amar Akbar Anthony, for instance, has all the ingredients familiar from films like Deewar and Yaadon ki Baraat – the sacrificing mother and siblings separated in childhood; there is also divine intervention when the villains try to get at the protagonists. The very shape of the miracle – a cobra which blocks their path into a sanctuary where a bhajan is being sung – is deliberately excessive, and a sophisticate cannot but laugh out aloud. At the same time, the film also allows some people to take all this seriously and it is not straightforward parody. The poor man played by Pran whose wife is afflicted by disease also invokes laughter (‘meri bibi to TB ho gaya hai’) although this again can be taken quite seriously as pathos by a segment. Another masala classic is David Dhavan’s Hero No. 1 (1997), which also borders on its own parody; part of its humour comes from Govinda’s comic imitation of Rajesh Khanna in Hrishikesh Mukerjee’s Bawarchi (1972).

It may seem that a masala film is generally without a message but it is almost mandatory for any popular film to have one; it would be more accurate to say that the masala film delivers an inflated message that can be read as self-mockery. It is not a half-hearted message but one that is almost nonsensical that makes for a masala film. Given this element, it may not be appropriate for a masala film to appear when political passions are running high. Amar Akbar Anthony came at the end of the Emergency when elections had already been announced and Hero No. 1 also when there was no strong political discourse in the public space. Just to give an idea of the political messages in masala films, in Amar Akbar Anthony, the children separated in childhood near a statue of Gandhiji can be read as Gandhian values not being able to unite the nation, and I take this to refer to the two Gandhians then opposing Mrs Gandhi — Morarji Desai and JP Narayan. Manmohan Desai was perhaps a Congress supporter since his later film Coolie (1983) also toys with Mrs Gandhi’s kind of populism. The original films that the two classics partly parody were serious efforts tapping into national sentiments and the timing of the masala films (and not only their inspired content) made them successful.

Thugs of Hindostan was initially announced as an adaptation of Confessions of a Thug by Phillip Meadows Taylor (1839), based on the Thuggee cult in India in existence for over 500 years. The Thugs were described as murderers and robbers and eliminated by the British when Lord Bentinck was Governor General. The man credited with destroying the cult was William Henry Sleeman and the town of Sleemanabad in Madhya Pradesh was named in his honour. With history being revised in the post-colonial era, the real truth about the Thugs was called into question, especially the notion of ‘criminal tribes’ created by the British, implying that everyone in a tribe could be branded a criminal. Thugs of Hindustan, which is now denying that it has anything to do with Meadows Taylor, appears to have hit upon the idea that Thugs were freedom fighters and embarked upon the project as an exercise in patriotism.

Thugs of Hindustan casts Amitabh Bachhan and Aamir Khan as principal characters and this casting itself reveals that it does not know which way it is going. Amitabh is evidently a tired man and even endorsing a ceiling fan may be making too many demands of energy upon him. He also takes the patriotism very seriously, as do the other bit players, something that the energetic Aamir Khan, wisely, does not do. Aamir Khan is probably the only one who had an idea of where the film might have gone. The film also brings in a British villain John Clive (perhaps brother of Robert Clive, the Company’s first Governor General) who plays his role very straight. I propose that a fake Britisher in a blonde wig reminiscent of Mogambo from Mr India (another successful masala film) would have served Thugs of Hindostan much better. Lloyd Owen who plays ‘John Clive’ is a genuine Britisher and a phony was what the film craved for – a fake Britisher as objective correlative to the fake anti-colonial sentiment spewed!

The film is being touted as the most expensive Indian film ever made but it is not a good strategy for a masala film to spend so much money. When the entire film is based on a fake premise visible from miles away, what is the good of trying to persuade the audience that it is all real? It is not always a good thing for a work of cinema to be sincere, especially when it is based on an unpalatable premise, but when it is insincere it should be conscious of its own insincerity, admitting to it without hesitation. Only such an approach makes for a great masala film, and Bollywood would do well to understand that.

Bollywood uses the word ‘fun’ rather loosely and film critics are quick to believe that the worst kind of trash can become ‘fun’ if only the spectator watched it with the right attitude (rather than a ‘critical’ one). My point here is that true ‘fun’ is difficult to produce; what happens most often is that people recognise that something is intended as fun and oblige the film-maker by mimicking ‘enjoyment’. This is like one’s polite response to a bad joke: one laughs simply in recognition of an intention rather than at genuine humour. Enjoyment is a component of happiness and we need desperately to convince ourselves that we are not unhappy. Since it takes discernment to recognise when one is not enjoying oneself, it is heartening that spectators and critics alike have given Thugs of Hindostan the thumbs down, implying recognition that true joy is not so easily to be had and only a successful work produces it. Perhaps Thugs of Hindostan will help audiences move to a new level of self-awareness with regard to the emotions that entertainment actually generates — rather than what publicity tells us it produces.

Deepika Padukone Ranveer Singh wedding: See first photos of newlyweds’ marriage ceremonies

Bollywood stars Deepika Padukone and Ranveer Singh were married in a traditional Konkani ceremony at a Lake Como resort in Italy on Wednesday, 14 November 2018. The couple, who became romantically involved after working together on the 2013 Sanjay leela Bhansali film Goliyon Ki Rasleela: Ram-Leela, also married as per the rituals of an Anand Karaj ceremony on 15 November.

The first photos from the couple’s highly guarded wedding were released on their social media accounts some hours later.

The images depict Deepika looking resplendent as a bride, while Ranveer seems to be the very picture of an elated groom.

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Photos of newlyweds Ranveer Singh and Deepika Padukone at their Anand Karaj and Konkani marriage ceremonies at Lake Como in Italy

Their outfits for both the Anand Karaj and Konkani ceremonies were designed by Sabyasachi.

The designer’s creations for Deepika and Ranveer are reflective of their personalities as also of their roots. “All of us at Sabyasachi wish the lovely couple all the very best for a wonderful and happy married life,” a statement released by the designer’s team said.

Their wedding portraits were shot by photographer Errikos Andreou. “This was a wedding made of dreams!” Andreou said. The photographer has previously shot both Deepika and Ranveer for individual assignments.

A lavish luncheon was planned for their select guests at the villa where their wedding was held on Wednesday afternoon. The spread was created by Swiss chefs flown down specifically for the purpose. A party followed in the evening post-which guests retired to their rooms to begin preparing for the Anand Karaj ceremony to follow the next morning.

Filmmaker Karan Johar was the first to tweet his congratulations to the newlyweds, saying they looked “stunning and gorgeous” on their big day and wishing them a “lifetime of love and happiness”.

Cheat India teaser: Emraan Hashmi looks to capitalise on India’s financially lucrative education sector

T-Series unveiled its first teaser of Emraan Hashmi’s upcoming film, Cheat India, which focuses on the prevailing education system in the country.

It introduces us to Emraan’s money-minded protagonist Rakesh Singh, who looks to capitalise on the country’s financially lucrative education sector. With lakhs of students appearing for various entrance exams and only a few thousand seats, he devises a cheating scheme to help those in need.

Emraan Hashmi in Cheat India

Inspired by true events, the film looks to expose the rampant malpractices prevalent during competitive exams.

Earlier this week, a poster of the film was released, which showed Emraan’s face stitched together by an assortment of exam admission cards and rupee notes.

Emraan is not only acting in the film, but also producing it with T-Series and Ellipsis Entertainment. It also marks the Bollywood debut of actress Shreya Dhanwanthary.

“The script and title of Cheat India are supremely powerful. This is among the most engaging and riveting stories I’ve read in a while, and I am thrilled to be essaying what I believe will be a landmark role in my filmography,” Emraan had said, as per a press release.

Directed by Soumik Sen, the film landed in a controversy earlier as filmmaker-actor duo Dinesh Gautam and Imran Zahid claimed the storyline of the film was copied from their movie titled Marksheet.

Produced by Bhushan Kumar’s T-Series, Tanuj Garg and Atul Kasbekar’s Ellipsis Entertainment, and Emraan Hashmi Films, Cheat India is scheduled to release on 25 January, 2019.

Thugs of Hindostan: Aamir Khan, Amitabh Bachchan power this fun, fearsome Bollywood ride

The year is 1857, and at the time of the East India Company’s rule, Raunakpur is among the few remaining freeholds. Its ruler Mirzasaab (Ronit Roy) is preparing for an all-out battle with the Company, and its representative, John Clive (Lloyd Owen). His trusted general Khudabaksh (Amitabh Bachchan) has been deputed with Raunakpur’s prince to gather allies.

A surprise night visit with Clive, however, puts paid to those plans. With his son held hostage by Clive, Mirza hands over control of Raunakpur to the British. But the prince is killed anyway, as is Mirza, and his wife. The only surviving member of the royal clan is the Princess Safira, who is rescued at the eleventh hour from the clutches of Clive by Khudabaksh.

Eleven years later, we’re introduced to a thug Firangi Mallah (Aamir Khan). A glib talker, Firangi’s eccentricity is not to be taken for a lack of seriousness, however. For he is ruthless when it comes to the question of profit, and not above double-crossing his own comrades when it comes to earning a pretty penny.

Poster for Thugs of Hindostan. Image courtesy Twitter

Cut to a whole other type of ‘thug’: Khudabaksh, who now fights the British with a grown-up Safira (Fatima Sana Shaikh) by his side. A snazzy action sequence on a ship gives ample opportunity for the duo to display their wizardry with sword and bow-and-arrow, their cunning and discipline, and the devotion of their band of followers.

The contrasts between Firangi Mallah (who has to introduce himself) and Khudabaksh (who is spoken of by others due to his deeds) is drawn very clearly in these opening scenes.

The British decide that they can’t let Khudabaksh persist in his challenge to the East India Company, and seek the services of a true villain in bringing him down. Enter: Firangi Mallah, who it turns out, has another grand passion apart from money — the dancer/courtesan Surayya (Katrina Kaif). The first few scenes in which we’re introduced to Surayya are mildly uncomfortable as the camera dwells on her waist and bust and pout. If we meet the other characters through their actions, with Surayya, it is her physical beauty and that alone, which is the focus. However, she gets to to display some quickness of wit as well, in her interactions with Firangi. That’s before she must launch into the actual reason for her presence: an energetic dance number. It is during this dance that Firangi meets the British officer who wants to co-opt him into the fight against Khudabaksh et al.

And so the stage is set for Firangi to meet Khudabaksh.

Which he does in spectacular fashion, during a skirmish set on a ship.

When the trailer of Thugs of Hindostan released, there were comparisons aplenty to Pirates of the Caribbean. Perhaps Firangi is modelled on Jack Sparrow, but there are also traces of the other quirky characters Aamir Khan has played in the past. No matter though, he is still a hoot. And the action sequences in this first half are an incredible amount of fun to watch. The stunt choreography is slick, even if it has definite touches of Bollywood (by which this reviewer means some hyper-dramatised moments). At no point in the first hour-plus of the film do you feel your attention flagging.

There’s something about the way Firangi and Khudabaksh relate to each other that’s oddly reminiscent of the Shah Rukh Khan-Amrish Puri equation from Diwale Dulhania Le Jayenge. The younger man trying hard to impress, the unbending older man seeking a spark of something within this protégé. Khudabaksh seems to see something in Firangi that hitherto no one has: a spark.

Through symbol, imagery and through words, Firangi is depicted as Khudabaksh’s ‘heir apparent’. Their characters are a study in contrasts: one ever-ready to yield, the other completely unyielding; one for whom everything has a price but no value, while for the other, some things — like freedom, integrity, loyalty — are so valuable that there can be no price put on them, ever. Amid their battle with the British, there’s also a battle of wills between Firangi and Khudabaksh. Whose character will prove to be stronger, who will influence whom, is part of the crux of Thugs’ first half.

The conclusion of this battle of wills is perhaps of the foregone variety, but the way it plays out is satisfying.

In one scene, we see Khudabaksh tilling a barren land over several years, in the hope that one day, the same ground will yield a harvest. The land is a metaphor for Firangi, and it proves to be a fertile spot after all, for Khudabaksh’s hopes to take seed.

Amitabh Bachchan plays warrior patriarch with ease, and Fatima Sana Shaikh is competent enough in the role of Safira. She performs the action sequences perfectly, but falters in the emotional ones. Aamir Khan shifts between being funny and menacing in a most engaging manner. One moment, he could be jesting, the other, a change in expression shows the danger that lies just below the surface.

There’s plenty of opportunity for Firangi to show this menacing side as the skirmishes with the English (and their chief, Clive) pick up in scale and intensity. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for poor Katrina Kaif, who is brought in for her second oddly athletic dance number of the film at a late point in the proceedings. She writhes and contorts in sequinned hotpants as the plot builds towards its climax.

It is the setting up of this climax that Thugs of Hindostan totters a bit. There’s an unveiling that’s a little too filmi (even for this wholly commercial entertainer). This, however, is forgiven in the rip-roaring, all muskets blazing finale sequence of the film. The showdown is appropriately high-stakes, and caps off an enjoyable caper.

Thugs of Hindostan is Bollywood having a blast (quite literally, in some moments!). If its no-holds-barred adoption of the commercial Hindi entertainer’s elements can be a flaw at times, for the most part, it works in the film’s favour. A mild Pirates of the Caribbean hangover aside, this is prime Diwali blockbuster material — a story of relationships, betrayal, adventure and courage, of underdogs and their unlikely triumphs.

Thugs of Hindostan movie review: Aamir Khan is fun, Amitabh Bachchan lifeless in B’wood’s Pirates of the Caribbean

Amitabh Bachchan, Aamir Khan, Katrina Kaif, Fatima Sana Shaikh — this is the order in which the lead cast’s names are placed in the credits of Thugs of Hindostan. The ranking is representative of their star stature combined with seniority in the industry. A more truthful list reflecting the substance in the roles they play would have read: Khan, Bachchan, Shaikh, Kaif. And if you want to know which of these stars scores in terms of quality of performance and conviction, this is my list: Aamir Khan, Aamir Khan, Aamir Khan, Aamir Khan.

Vijay Krishna Acharya’s third directorial venture (the others being Tashan and Dhoom 3) might have been a lifeless parade of spectacular visuals without Khan. Whenever he is on screen though, the film develops a pulse. Khan is Thugs of Hindostan‘s heart and soul, breath and blood.

The story is set in an India overrun by the British, and revolves around an unscrupulous rascal called Firangi Malla who serves only one master, himself, until he encounters the freedom fighter Azad (Bachchan). Torn between self-interest and patriotism, Firangi keeps his associates guessing about where his loyalties lie, swinging back and forth between the British led by Clive and his own people. The road he will ultimately take may be obvious to the audience, but how he takes it is unpredictable enough to keep the film going.

Aaamir Khan and Amitabh Bachchan in a still from Thugs of Hindostan

If the mention of a Clive suggests that Thugs of Hindostan is historically accurate, then let it be placed on the record: it is not. “What’s in a name?” as that most famous of Englishmen once wrote. A white man by any other name would have smelt just as rotten. So yeah, in all their confrontations here, the Brits are made to look like incompetent, gullible asses, forever suffering defeat at the hands of Indians. Since India is the wronged party in the imperialist equation, it could be argued that taking this sort of liberty with the past can hardly be treated as a crime especially since this is nothing compared to Western cinema’s casual portrayal of true thugs of the colonial era, most recently Winston Churchill, with affectionate indulgence. In any case, Thugs of Hindostan is unapologetically commercial, characteristically masala-filled Bollywood fare, that does not ask to be taken seriously. It is an action adventure in the mould of Hollywood’s Pirates of the Caribbean series, and does not pretend to be anything but that.

Acharya’s actual crime lies in the weak writing of every character other than Firangi Malla. Azad is a pallid creature, and Bachchan invests nothing beyond his towering personality and baritone in his uninspired performance.

The women are laughable asides in the screenplay. Kaif as the courtesan Suraiyya gets to look sexy and dance mechanically, displaying technique but little grace in two lavish song and dance sequences on elaborate, eye-catching sets. She has a third scene but disappears for the rest of the proceedings, which is just as well since she seems unable to move even those few facial muscles that she has exercised in her earlier films.

Shaikh, who made a mark as a skilled wrestler and rebellious daughter in Dangal, is not required to act at all. As Zafira, who is part of Azad’s band of warriors, she barely has any lines, and most of her screen time is spent running across battlescapes, firing arrows and throwing punches. She is fair enough doing all this, but not outstanding, and since she lacks charisma it is hard not to wonder why she landed the job. She also has less chemistry with Khan than Lloyd Owen who plays Clive.

It is thus left to Khan and the technical departments to save this film, and they do. Thugs of Hindostan‘s production designers (there are four) and DoP Manush Nandan ensure that the film is never short of pretty and grand. John Stewart Eduri serves up a throbbing background score and Ajay-Atul’s songs are all hummable.

Given the only well-written character in Thugs of Hindostan, with an abundance of mischievous dialogues and credible motivations, Khan throws himself into his role with gusto, summoning up Munna of Rangeela and Siddhu of Ghulam, imbuing Firangi with a relentless zest, and switching from good to bad to inexplicable to exasperating to lovable within a twinkling of those delightful kohl-lined eyes.

Thugs was promoted as the first film ever to pit him against the great Bachchan. The legendary superstar is a pale shadow here of the best he has been. Khan, on the other hand, crackles, pops and sparkles as a swashbuckling scoundrel. The writing of his character and his performance are the only reasons why Thugs of Hindostan does not turn out to be a stylishly produced but disastrously dreary repeat of Acharya’s first film, Tashan. Despite all its minuses, Thugs is light-hearted fun.

Baazaar, Badhaai Ho, Tumbbad box office collection: Saif Ali Khan’s film collects Rs 11.93 cr on opening weekend

Baazaar, Saif Ali Khan’s newest release which hit screens on 26 October has now amassed Rs 11.93 cr in box office earnings. The stock market drama had a slow opening day and only managed to collect Rs 3.07 crores. Baazaar witnessed a growth on the second day (Rs 4.10 crore) and third day (Rs 4.76 crore) of its release.

Saif ali Khan in Baazaar. Image via Twitter/@Subrata56010558

Trade analysts had previously said that the film, which also stars Radhika Apte, Rohan Mehra and Chitrangada Singh was doing well in Mumbai. Baazaar has performed well in comparison to Khan’s previous films like Chef and Kaalakaandi.

Ayushmann Khurrana’s Badhaai Ho is still reigning the Indian box office. The film witnessed a substantial growth in the second weekend since its release. On Sunday, the film earned Rs 8.15 crore, taking its total numbers fo Rs 84.25 crore. It was previously predicted by trade analysts that the film had the potential to cross the 100 crore mark.

The horror flick Tumbbad, which was the first Indian film to open Venice Film Festival’s Critics’ Week in August, is currently in its third week at the box office and has amassed Rs 10. 14 crore so far.

 

Kedarnath teaser: Sushant Singh Rajput, Sara Ali Khan venture against all odds in this tale of indomitable love

The makers of Kedarnath released the first look poster and teaser of the film on Tuesday. Set on a 14 km pilgrimage from Gauri Kund to Kedarnath ( the 2000-year-old temple of Lord Shiva ), this is a love story between Mansoor and Mukku played by Sushant Singh Rajput and Sara Ali Khan respectively. Kedarnath features actor Sushant Singh Rajput and Sara Ali Khan (who also makes her debut with the film) as the lead pair.

The narrative of Kedarnath is essentially a love story set against a backdrop of the infamous floods that created havoc in Uttarakhand and other parts of India in June, 2013. The teaser portrays Rajput and Khan as a young couple in love who brave the odds of the mammoth natural calamity to survive, almost as a salute to their undying love for the other.

The plot revolves around Mansoor, a reserved and reticent Pithoo (porter), who lives with his widowed mother, in a hamlet called Rambara and helps pilgrims make an arduous journey upwards to the temple town. His world goes into a tailspin as he encounters the beautiful and rebellious Mukku who sucks him into a whirlwind of intense love.

Director Abhishek Kapoor also released the poster via his official Twitter handle.

The vibrant blue poster depicts Sara being carried by Sushant as part of the pitthoo system which is often used in the rocky terrain of Kedarnath. People ferry pilgrims on their backs to the main temple.

The poster also revealed that the film is scheduled to hit theatres on 7 December. It was initially scheduled to release on 30 November but the makers have decided to push it by a week. Produced by Balaji Telefilms and KriArj Entertainment, Kedarnath marks Sara’s debut. Being the daughter of actors Saif Ali Khan and Amrita Singh, Sara’s addition to the project was termed as “fresh” and edgy by producer Ekta Kapoor, as reported in a DNA article. “Kedarnath is an emotional and riveting tale that blends India’s beauty with a love story from the heartland,”

Thugs of Hindostan: Advance booking for Aamir Khan, Amitabh Bachchan’s YRF film to open on 3 November

Thugs of Hindostan, Yash Raj Films’ upcoming offering has already caused quite a stir with its impressive star cast and gigantic budget. Fans can now book their tickets well in advance from 3 November, according to trade analysts. The early bookings will open at multiplexes and single screen cinema halls across the country.

A still Thug of Hindostan's song 'Vashmalle'

According to trade analysts, Thugs of Hindostan will be released across more than 5,000 screens  in India alone. Around 4,500 to 4,600 screens will be delegated for the Hindi speaking audience and the rest for the Tamil and Telugu versions.

It was previously reported that the tickets for Thugs of Hindostan have been priced at least 10 percent higher than those of Ranbir Kapoor-starrer Sanju, in order to milk the lucrative Diwali release window. Directed by Vijay Krishna Acharya, the film will see Aamir Khan and Amitabh Bachchan share the screen space for the first time. Katrina Kaif, Fatima Sana Shaikh and Lloyd Owen are also part of the film. The plot is based on Philip Meadows Taylor’s 1839 novel Confessions of a Thug, which deals with a thug called Ameer Ali, whose gang of thugs posed a dangerous challenge to the British Empire in India during the early 1800s.

Chitrangda Singh on #MeToo: We can’t leave everything to legal process, should socially ostracise certain people

Earlier, Chitrangda Singh would often reason that perhaps she did not push herself “enough to shine like a star”. That the several breaks she took intermittently with her priorities changing, or being trapped in family problems and shuttling between Delhi and Mumbai, affected her career to a large extent. But today, more than ambition, the actor-producer counts on passion. “I don’t know the definition of being ambitious but I am very passionate about cinema. I want to produce, act. I want to be cinema person 360 ways possible. I don’t know whether that means being ambitious but it keeps me going,” says Chitrangda, who will be next seen in Saif Ali Khan-starrer, stock market thriller Baazaar (releases on 26 October). Her last film, Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster 3, with Sanjay Dutt in the lead, tanked at the box office.

“I don’t get that much screen time in Baazaar, so that was a bit of a challenge. Without getting too many lines, I still had to help the plot unravel. One thing that Nikkhil (Advani, producer) told me when he was pitching me this role was to stand up to Saif’s strong character. He was looking for someone who conveyed dignity for this role. Saif plays my husband. He is an antagonist and he has very powerful lines and dialogues. My character doesn’t have those flashy dialogues. I needed to have a strong presence. That was more important than looking just pretty,” she says.

Chitrangda Singh. Facebook

But my character is warm. Though she is not in love with her partner, she looks at his games in a different way. She is born into a wealthy family and for her, the definition of ambition, greed, happiness is different as compared to the other three characters (Saif, Radhika Apte and Rohan Mehra), who are willing to sacrifice relationships and friendships for power. My character is observing all this, but there are repercussions on their marriage. But more than love and emotional angle, the film’s base is the game – power greed and how you manipulate. That is why Saif is an antagonist not the protagonist so to speak” she adds.

Chitrangda shares screen space with Saif for the first time. She sees him as an understated actor with excellent timing. “Saif is a lot of fun on set. There is an easy vibe and when you feel comfortable with someone, then that becomes a pleasure. Also, I like that he underplays his performances,” says Chitrangda. She had a pleasant time working with the other two co-stars as well. “With Radhika, I don’t have much work. We met just for two days. But she was full of stories and I am excited about the work she has been doing.”

The actress, however, found it “scary” working with newbie Rohan Mehra. “He is a quiet guy, very earnest. He had learnt the complete script by heart, my lines, Radhika’s lines, everybody’s lines. Tell him page number 72 and he would be all ready to start. I was shocked. I told Gauravv (K Chawla, director) that Rohan is over prepped. It is scary. He is totally into it,” she laughs heartily.

Chitrangda began her career as a model prior to making the transition to the silver screen. She was compared to the legendary Smita Patil in the initial years of her career. In fact, noted director Shekhar Kapur complimented her by saying, ‘You have outdone Smita Patil,’ when he saw her performance in her debut, Sudhir Mishra’s Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi (2003), which was followed by the 2005 film Kal: Yesterday and Tomorrow (2005).

Then, she took a break from acting between 2005 and 2008 after her marriage to Indian golfer Jyoti Randhawa and made her comeback with the leading role opposite Sanjay Suri in the film Sorry Bhai!. Further, she tried her hands at mainstream cinema with Desi Boyz (opposite Akshay Kumar) and made a couple of special appearances in songs of Tamil movie Anjaan and Akshay Kumar’s 2014 movie Gabbar Is Back. After a few more forgettable films, she reemerged as a producer this year with Shaad Ali-directed Soorma, starring Diljit Dosanjh and Taapsee Pannu.

Chitrangda Singh and Saif Ali Khan in a still from Baazaar. YouTube

However, she has not been getting meaty parts as much as she used to be offered in the past. “I know what you mean. You can only choose what gets offered to you. You pick the best out of that. Sometimes you are lucky with good stuff coming your way, or you try and make a mark with what is offered to you. And opposed to it, you try set up the kind of films you want to be part of and make that kind of cinema. These are the only ways that you can still remain excited about cinema,” says the actress, who will act in one of her two productions that she plans to announce soon.

And in the recent wave of sexual harassment allegations, Chitrangda also opened up about her “distressing” experience on the sets of Babumoshai Bandookbaaz. Though she did speak out during the making of the film, she feels it is easy to bring out her side of the story given the #MeToo movement that has gained traction in the past couple of months. “There is no structure, no process and no organisation that one could go to voice your grievances and at that time, no such movement had started. So yes, it is easier to talk about it now. Thanks to Tanushree Dutta for taking up the charge and initiating the movement in India,” she says, furthering, “It is a very good and healthy thing to happen to any industry that you do not let people go further, get promoted, get encouraged for the favours being done, or if there are any compromises they are willing to make. That shouldn’t be the basis of their promotions. It should be only on the basis of your potential and talent.”

However, Chitrangda strongly feels that instead of leaving everything to the legal process, the social consciousness needs to be the order of the day. “Most of the times you can’t prove rape. If you are not taken to hospital and get checked. How do you prove it? How does Vinta Nanda prove? But that doesn’t mean she is lying. We can’t leave everything to the legal process. Social responsibility has to grow. We should socially ostracise such people. Consciousness can’t come by filing an FIR at a police station. I hope that my son doesn’t grow up thinking it’s all okay, and that can only happen if we make enough noise now. It’s only then that the next generation will know that even a bit of harassment is just not okay,” she says.

Further, giving her views on the chances of certain people misusing the movement, the actress states that they do not deserve to be part of it. “Maybe collateral damage will happen. But I hope people are as truthful and honest for the sake of the girls who have really suffered. At some point, if people have used it as a manipulation and tend to benefit from it, they don’t deserve to be part of the movement. That won’t be fair to the real victims because you become an enabler. You enabled and encouraged this somewhere, as a result of which the same people have expected that from more girls. It’s extremely important to draw the line, and it’s also important for the media and us colleagues and people from the industry to recognise that ,” says Chitrangda.

Jackie Shroff on Nana Patekar, Sajid Khan’s exit from Housefull 4: Don’t want to fan issue by commenting

Mumbai: Actor Jackie Shroff, who will be seen playing central character in The Playboy Mr. Sawhney has said that unfortunately people take a lot of pleasure looking in others’ personal life.

Jackie Shroff. Image via Facebook

Jackie Shroff was interacting with media at the special screening of The Playboy Mr. Sawhney along with his co-actors Divya Dutta, Neetu Chandra, Manjari Fadnis, Arjan Bajwa, Samir Kochhar, director Tariq Naved Siddiqui and producer Karan Arora on Wednesday, 25 October, in Mumbai.

Reacting on #MeToo movement where Jackie Shroff’s former colleagues Nana Patekar and Sajid Khan are facing the heat, Shroff said, “It’s unfortunate at the moment. Both of them were my colleagues. They are fighting it out in public and washing their dirty linen out there. People are watching and enjoying out there”.

“Unfortunately, people get a lot of pleasure looking in others’ personal life.”

When asked to comment on Nana Patekar and Sajid Khan, who have been ousted from Housefull 4 by Fox Star Studios, the producers of the film, Shroff said, “I don’t want to fan it. If they take (these men) in their films or don’t, it’s their call.

If they don’t remove them, there might be an agitation. So let it rest.”
The Playboy Mr. Sawhney revolves around young guy (Tahir Raj Bhasin) who is facing problems with his girlfriend seeking the advice of his grandfather (Jackie Shroff) in the matters of love and life.

Talking about his association with the short film, Shroff said, “Not only me but a lot of people are making short films. I hope filmmakers keep approaching me to do short films so that I continue working in them.”

The Playboy Mr Sawhney stars Jackie Shroff, Tahir Raj Bhasin, Neetu Chandra, Divya Dutta, Arjan Bajwa, Manjari Fadnis, Sudhir Mishra and Pitobash in key roles.

It is a short love story written and directed by Tariq Naved Siddiqui and produced by Karan Arora.