Category Archives: Bollywood News

Padman and the predicament with biopics: Is the priority to be authentic to subject matter or fictionalise drama?

The story of Arunachalam Muruganantham, more commonly known as Padman, has hit theatres this week. While Bollywood stars — in solidarity with the theme of the film and with Akshay Kumar leading the way — have been inundating their social media platform with images of them holding sanitary napkins, one really wonders how true the plot of the film will be to the real Arunachalam.

The biopics that Bollywood has culled out in the past few years gives us reasons to believe that the promises made by makers of Pad Man during the promotional phase of film are to be taken with a pinch of salt.

Akshay Kumar as the reel Padman and Arunachalam Muruganathanam as the real Padman

In recent times, we witnessed a sincere Arjun Rampal sinking his teeth in the portrayal of Arun Gawli, but the overall plot of Daddy was a let down by the writers, after the protagonist was venerated in the film. Azhar, a shoddy attempt by Tony D’Souza to commemorate cricketer Azharuddin, was way off the mark. The film actually glorified Azhar and absolved him of all sins of match fixing. Neerja cannot be dubbed as a biopic in true sense as it dealt only with a particular event and in a very tricky fashion Neeraj Pandey avoided most of the curious questions which viewers were looking for in MS Dhoni. The less one says about Apoorva Lakhia’s biopic on Haseena Parkar, the better. Barring Dangal and Mary Kom none of the biopics could match with the life of the protagonist they dealt with.

To sum up, the tricks of making a biopic is still to be cracked by Bollywood filmmakers.

Most of the filmmakers falter when it comes to weaving nuances that are involved in the making of a biopic. Padman is next in queue and slated to pass the same test this weekend. With Arunachalam himself being available for the various promotional activities of the film, it’s a foregone conclusion that the film has blessings of the social entrepreneur who revolutionised the world of women health care with his low cost sanitary napkins.

But let’s not forget even Azhar had blessings of Cricketer Mohammad Azharuddin and so did Daddy and Haseena Parkar. Barring a few like Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, Paan Singh Tomar, Bandit Queen and The Dirty Picture, majority have failed and faltered in their execution.

So why is it that Bollywood always trails behind in a genre that has been cracked beautifully and successfully by Hollywood? Biopics, in the first place, can be a very tricky affair and are not considered a safe bet by producers. True to the oft witnessed herd mentality among Bollywood filmmakers, it was only after the success of Paan Singh Tomar and The Dirty Picture that Bollywood woke up to the true money spinner potential of biopics. Prior to both these films, biopics were always considered a losing proposition and saw light of theatres in a very erratic fashion.

One major factor that differentiates the biopics of Hollywood and Bollywood is the art of picking the subject matter itself.

Most of the lives that are picked by Hollywood are from the common strata and thus pianist Wladyslaw Szpilman becomes the protagonist for Roman Polanski for his Oscar winner The Pianist or Martin Scorsese resorted to the life of maverick stockbroker Jordan Belfort for his The Wolf of Wall Street. Erin Brockovich was just an environmental activist before the film catapulted her to fame. In strictest sense none of them were celebrities and people had no clue about their existence until the films appeared.

In Bollywood it’s always been the other way. Filmmakers have picked only those subjects which either have been part of history or have received constant media coverage. For the Hindi film industry, personalities like Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Milkha Singh, Phoolan Devi, Sarabjit Singh, Azharuddin and Mary Kom perfectly fit the bill on their defined parameters. Films like Manjhi – The Mountain Man and Manjunath are few and far between which actually talked about common men and viewers had no inkling about their plots. Truth be told, Bandit Queen and Paan Singh Tomar, ironically both centring around reformed dacoits, are the closest that Bollywood has tasted in terms of a refined biopic: rest all have been marred with a star hangover.

Dangal, MS Dhoni, Mary Kom rested on the star power of Aamir Khan, Sushant Singh Rajput and Priyanka Chopra to an extent.

Not much is known about the personal life of Arunachalam and it would be interesting to see how director Balki has interpreted and given a vision to his life. It’s yet to be seen what treatment Balki gives to the personal part of his life. But a niggling thing that is worrisome is that the setting of the film too has been changed to a North Indian village, which looks ridiculous to say the least.

One thing that largely worked in favour of Dangal, Bhaag Milkha Bhaag and Paan Singh Tomar was the milieu to which the protagonist belonged. Even the South impact in The Dirty Picture was apparent but in Padman the shuddh Hindi dialogues and the banners that are visible in the trailer look like an eyesore and take away the authenticity of the film.

Actors might have shown their solidarity with the film but in the end it’s the acceptance of the mass that matters.

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.

Manoj Bajpayee on Aiyaary: ‘Neeraj Pandey films are the kind of mainstream cinema I love to be associated with’

Manoj Bajpayee, who seems as much at ease with mainstream as with parallel cinema, is quite charged up. He is gearing up for his first release of the year — Aiyaary, an action thriller touted to be an intriguing tale with twists and turns. And it is the presence of director Neeraj Pandey that makes it more special for Bajpayee, who has collaborated with the him earlier on films like Special 26 and Naam Shabana.

“Neeraj is a great talent that happened to mainstream Indian cinema. Look at his track record, look at the scripts he has written in the mainstream genre — he has set an example. He doesn’t follow the rules, doesn’t surrender to the formula and still makes a film which is intriguing, interesting, engaging and popular as well. Films like A Wednesday and Special 26 were unique and for Aiyaary, he has experimented a lot in his writing and yet it has the capacity to reach every person,” says Bajpayee, convincingly. “Neeraj could have approached any big star for Aiyaary and they would have given both their hands and feet to grab this role. I feel very lucky he chose me. I know am not a huge star and I don’t have any illusion about it,” he adds.

aiyaary 825

The film shows Bajpayee as an army officer sharing a mentor-protégé relationship with Sidharth Malhotra in what looks like an unconventional pairing. “The story revolves around how two people of different ranks work together and suddenly come at loggerheads. Also, both the characters are masters at disguising and tricking the other person. This is something that I have never done before. The behrupiya avatar is quite fascinating,” said Bajpayee.

What also appealed to the actor is playing the protagonist who’s focused, honest and yet very clever. “This combination is very rare. An honest person being clever and not willing to compromise is interesting. One can’t be like this character, Abhay Singh (his character) is like that because in real life because he will not bend, whereas Manoj Bajpayee bends whenever the need arises,” he laughs out loud. “It was a difficult film to write and so it was difficult for us to perform. But Neeraj makes sure that he gets the perfect shot,” he says.

The trailer gives a sneak peek into the evolution of the relationship between the two officers. Bajpayee says, he was happy sharing the frame with the young actor. “Sid comes from a different world and I really admire in the manner he has established himself despite coming from outside the industry. I have seen the kind of impact he has on youngsters. Coming from the outside and making place in mainstream industry is in itself remarkable,” said Bajpayee.

“When I heard that Sid will be my co-star, I was excited that I will be getting to meet a new person, a new actor. I don’t judge people without meeting them. I need to have my own experience to analyse the person. We started rehearsing and now we get along very well. We relate to each other because both of us have come from a middle-class family,” he added.

While the director was “adamant” about Bajpayee being a certain kind of fit, the latter believes more in the “mental condition”. “Neeraj needed a certain kind of persona and he was quite adamant about it. I went out and exercised a little to get that kind of body, but for me, losing or gaining weight or exercising for the role is not part of the performance. For me, the mind and the unsaid things between two lines is more important. Changing my look, putting a moustache or losing and gaining a few kilograms, are an actor’s personal choice. At the end of the day it is the mind of the character that is important,” said the actor.

Like every year, Bajpayee will be seen in a good mix of commercial and offbeat cinema, and he is particularly excited about the psychological thriller, Gali Guliyan, which has travelled to many festivals across the world. Then there’s an action thriller with Nikhil Advani and John Abraham which will be directed by Milap Zaveri. “Gali Guliyan has been the most difficult role I have done in my entire career. As far as mainstream goes, Neeraj Pandey is mainstream and that is the kind of mainstream I would love to be associated with. Or the mainstream I am doing with John for Nikhil. It is a fantastic script. Then, Baaghi 2 is a masala film and I have done it for my relationship with Ahmed Khan. Also Mukesh Chhabra (casting director) insisted I do it. I had a great time shooting,” says Bajpayee. The versatile actor is also looking forward to Devashish Makhija’s Bhonsle in which he plays a terminally ill local cop, retired against his will and Abhishek Chaubey’s Son Chiriya alongside Sushant Singh Rajput.

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.

Gold teaser: Reema Kagti’s sports drama starring Akshay Kumar, Mouni Roy is the perfect Independence Day release

The teaser for Reema Kagti’s upcoming film Gold, starring Akshay Kumar, was released on Monday.

Poster of Reema Kagti's Gold (left); Akshay Kumar's look in the film. Images via Facebook

The short clip reveals a protagonist, played by Kumar, who says he holds only two things dear — hockey and his country. Through voice-over narration, the character remarks that though India have three gold medals, they were all won under British rule. So, he promises to put together a team that will bring India glory with its first ever gold medal as a free nation in 1948 at the 14th Olympic Games at London. The teaser is filled with a mashup of dramatic moments, set to the kind of uplifting music that is bound to arouse your patriotic spirit.

The sports drama is directed by Reema Kagti and produced by Ritesh Sidhwani and Farhan Akhtar under the banner Excel Entertainment. The film will mark the Bollywood debut of popular TV actress Mouni Roy and will feature Amit Sadh in a pivotal role.

The shooting for the film was completed in December and now is in its final edit stage.

The movie is set to release on Independence Day (15 August), 2018.

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.

Today in Wait, What? Karni Sena announces a film on Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s mother

Through its actions in the run-up to the release of Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Padmavati Padmaavat, the Shri Rajput Karni Sena has consistently shown that they’re possibly the most juvenile determined fringe group in the business.

After attacking school buses and burning down cars belonging to members of their own group (which, when you think of it, is really considerate of them), the Karni Sena have now announced a move that makes clear just who is going to win in this show of one-upmanship against Bhansali.

The revolutionary vengeance cooked up by the Karni Sena is this: They will make a film, on Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s mother. And they’re going to title it Leela Ki Leela. Whoever said ‘Yo mamma so fat’ jokes were passé?

Poster for Padmaavat that will serve as the reference point for Karni Sena-produced Leela Ki Leela

Here’s some information from a news report issued by IANS:

Addressing a press conference in Chittorgarh, Govind Singh Khangarot, the district president of Karni Sena, said the film would be directed by Arvind Vyas and its script writing process had already started.

In the next 15 days, a ‘muhurat’ marking the commencement of the film would be performed and it would be released in a year’s time. The movie will be shot across Rajasthan, Khangarot said.

“Bhansali has insulted our mother Padmavati, but we will ensure that he feels proud of the movie we will make,” he added (presumably in a loud, thundering tone). 

“As our country gives right to expression to everyone, we will ensure that this right is used to its fullest,” he said.

Take that, Bhansali!

But in the true spirit of tit-for-tat, we wonder if the Karni Sena will allow Bhansali to respond to their film in exactly the same way that they reacted to his.

Here’s a small list of the courtesies they could extend Bhansali, to ensure the situation truly mirrors the one they created when Padmaavat was being made:

1. Let Bhansali protest the historical inaccuracies of Leela Ki Leela, beginning with the shoot in Rajasthan. Bhansali, as is a matter of public record, grew up in a congested Mumbai chawl in Bhuleshwar. The chawls are an important part of Mumbai’s landscape and are closely linked to this city’s history. By shooting in Rajasthan, presumably on a constructed set, the Karni Sena is doing a disservice to the authentic portrayal of a Mumbai chawl. Mumbaikars must be allowed to protest this show of stark disrespect on the part of the Karni Sena.

2. The Karni Sena must allow Bhansali — once again, in the spirit of true reciprocity — to visit their sets in Rajasthan, a minimum of two times. On one of these occasions, he must be allowed to slap the director. On the other occasion, his henchmen must be allowed to burn down the sets for Leela Ki Leela.

3. The Karni Sena must promise to raise a sum of Rs 150 crores to make this film on Bhansali’s life. It seems only fair since he and his investors expended as much money in making a film about the Karni Sena’s ‘mother’.

4. The Karni Sena must promise that they will maintain the highest production values for Leela Ki Leela. Anything less than eye-wateringly-opulent will simply not make the cut.

5. They must get one of India’s best actresses to play the title role of Bhansali’s mom.

6. They must not protest if their entry into  Mumbai — the city where Bhansali’s mother raised him — is barred to them perpetuity, seeing as how they tried to do the same with the Chittorgarh Fort.

7. The Karni Sena will hold a special screening for Bhansali before the film’s release and wait for his approval before releasing the film.

8. The Karni Sena will make changes to their film as recommended by a panel of Bollywood enthusiasts appointed by the Central Board of Film Certification. They will at this point also agree to change the film’s title, preferably substituting one vowel for another.

9. The Karni Sena must prepare for the governments of at least four states to ban Leela Ki Leela — of course, the Supreme Court (yes, the same one they acted in contempt of) will possibly salvage their expression of creativity by upholding their right to screen the film.

10. Even after the Supreme Court’s clearance, the Karni Sena must allow for Bhansali and his supporters to: threaten theatre owners and distributors (until they fear showing Leela Ki Leela for the damage to their property that might ensue), riot in as many places as possible and generally create as great a ruckus as they can. They must also anticipate 16,000 women sending a signed petition to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to perform a mass ghoomar — if Leela Ki Leela is allowed to release.

Hate Story 4 trailer: This Urvashi Rautela starrer has least amount of acting, weird dialogues

Remember the Hate Story franchise?  The sexy action-crime-thriller series,  which might come off as a parody due to no fault of its own, is returning with its fourth installment, and this one is as weird.

Hate Story 4 stars models who want to be actors, like, Karan Wahi, Vivan Bhatena, Urvashi Rautela, and Ihana Dhillion.

In Hate Story 4, Urvashi Rautela plays Tasha; someone who wants to be ‘a star’, and poses in front of cameras in order to become a star. Karan Wahi plays her love interest Rajveer Khurana; a humble photographer who helps turn other people into stars. Then there’s Wahi’s elder brother Aryan Khurana, played by Bhatena, who is has a creepy obsession with his girlfriend’s lips (played by Dhillion).

A still from Hate Story 4 trailer/Image from YouTube.

Not only does the trailer have the least amount of acting, it also has some of the most ridiculous dialogues. Gulshan Grover, who plays a rich father of the two warring brothers, at one point says, “mera ek beta jis ladki se shaadi karna chahta hai, mere dusre bete ne uss ladki se pehle hi suhaag-raat mana liya.” That, again, has got to be the weirdest thing a father will ever say about his two sons.

Hate Story 4, just like its predecessors, tries to work on the same old factors: being ‘bold’ and oversexed, and features two actresses who merely play eye-candy. Hate Story 4 hits theaters on 9 March, 2018.

Padmaavat: Bhansali invites Karni Sena for screening, confirms fringe group after demanding Bharat Bandh on 25 January

Even after the Supreme Court stayed the ban by four states on the release of Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Padmaavat allowing it an all-India release, it seems like the film might not see the light of day in Rajasthan, the hotbed of a majority of protests, as there are no distributors for the movie yet.

Deepika Padukone in a still from Padmavati.

We have no distributor yet. The film has not been sold to anyone. All the rights lie with Bhansali alone. I don’t think the film will be released until the controversy is resolved within the state,” said film distributor Sunil Bansal, according to a DNA report.

State officials from INOX are also reportedly in touch with the local police to assess and evaluate the law and order situation in Rajasthan before finalising and deciding upon anything. “The distributor hasn’t been finalised yet. We generally don’t flout orders. So, we will go ahead with whatever the authorities decide. We are awaiting a police orders. Nothing can anyway be done until a distributor comes in,” said the official, according to the same DNA report.

Film exhibitors were relying heavily on the Akshay Kumar-Sonam Kapoor-Radhika Apte starrer Padman as an alternative for the loss in business that they might have incurred in case Padmaavat did not release in Rajasthan. However, after addressing a joint press conference on Friday, Akshay Kumar and Bhansali announced that the makers of Padman agreed to defer the release of their film on Bhansali’s request.

Owners of local theaters like Raj Mandir (which also doubles up as a tourist destination) however, have said that they will not release Padmaavat, regardless of whether Padman sees a release or not.

Recently, the Maharana of Mewar has also written a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking a “ban on the film”. According to the prince’s letter, “If art misappropriates history then it is anti-national”.

Secret Superstar: Aamir Khan film’s two-day China collection eclipses its lifetime India revenue

The stupendous box-office performance of Secret Superstar in its first two-day run in PRC is yet another substantiation of Aamir Khan’s star power in the world’s second-largest movie market. In China, the cumulative gross of the film (Friday and Saturday) at $17.35 million (₹ 110.7 cr) has already eclipsed its lifetime revenue in India which stands at $12.5 million (Rs 80 cr approx).

Aamir Khan in Secret Superstar

The film has already set a benchmark on Friday by registering the highest-opening day figure for an Indian movie in the Middle Kingdom. Secret Superstar’s cume opening day gross of $6.86 million in China was more than twice the opening day number of Aamir Khan’s previous box-office hurricane Dangal which clocked $2.35 million on day one.

Dangal, hailed as China’s leggiest film ever, emerged as the highest-grossing non-Chinese, non-Hollywood movie with its nearly $200 million lifetime gross. Although it’s difficult to repeat the same box-office result with Secret Superstar, which is enjoying a highly favorable WOM on China’s movie ticketing and social networking sites such as Maoyan and Douban, the film has already broken several records with its flying start. With extremely positive WOM, Secret Superstar will undoubtedly have a great Sunday at the box-office, but the acid test will begin from Monday to see whether it will accomplish the lifetime total of $84 million (₹540 crore) mark that China’s largest online movie ticketing and fans rating portal projected.

To put things in perspective, the opening-day China gross of Secret Superstar, directed by Advait Chandan and produced by Aamir Khan, is more than the film’s shoe-string budget ($2.4 million). The film stars Zaira Wasim in the lead role and Aamir Khan in an extended cameo. But, that has not deterred the Chinese movie buffs from watching their most favorite Indian actor ‘Uncle Aamir’ on screen.

With an estimated total WW gross of more than ₹250 crores, Secret Superstar has now become the fifth highest-grossing Hindi film behind Baahubali: The Conclusion, Tiger Zinda Hai, Golmaal Again, and Raees. And, it has already overshadowed Salman Khan’s Tiger Zinda Hai ($20 million approx) to become the second-highest overseas grosser of 2017 with its total foreign box-office receipts amounting to nearly $25 million, including the China figures. Secret Superstar has also become Aamir Khan’s fifth film in his career to cross the $20 million mark in overseas after 3 Idiots, Dhoom 3, PK, and Dangal. He’s the only Indian actor to have achieved this feat.

Secret Superstar is also the first Indian film to have received a revenue-sharing slot in the Middle Kingdom. Earlier, Indian films in China were sold to local distributors for a flat fee. Despite collecting a humongous lifetime gross of nearly $200 million from Dangal, Aamir Khan earned a profit of only $25 million (12.5% of the total revenue, as he revealed in October 2017) because of the buy-out deal. Now, with the revenue-sharing agreement in place, Aamir Khan’s share of the Secret Superstar gross will be 25%. If PRC movie buffs shower their overwhelming love for ‘Uncle Aamir’ again as they have done in the past, he could earn his career’s biggest paycheck from Secret Superstar’s China run.

Aamir Khan is currently on a whirlwind of a promotional tour in China, where he has been visiting various cities and participating in press conferences and fans activities. He will spend four days from January 23 – 26 in China’s capital city Beijing and engage in several promotional campaigns. With PRC movie lovers’ renewed vigor for Aamir Khan’s films, it would be interesting to see how the Salman Khan-starring, Kabir Khan-directed Bajrangi Bhaijaan, which released in 2015, will fare at the Chinese box office when it hits screens on 2 March 2018.