Category Archives: telly news

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 How could Sridevi — she who, however vociferously withdrawn, looked so immortal — just die?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.

Sidharth Malhotra: ‘I never felt left out while working with the star kids’

There is a lot of hustle-bustle in Mumbai’s Mehboob Studio, with quite a few vanity vans parked in the compound. In this chaotic scenario, one man who is looking bright and sunny is Bollywood’s resident hunk Sidharth Malhotra. Dressed in a floral blue shirt and joggers, he steps out of his vanity van flashing a charismatic smile and does a quick photo shoot with his happy-go-lucky and glamorous co-star Jacqueline Fernandez as part of promotions of their upcoming film, A Gentleman – Sundar, Susheel, Risky.

He playfully strangles her with her jeans jacket, she utters a yelp and gives a light punch to her screen hero making for a perfect capture for a fun photo. Soon, Sidharth settles down in his colourful vanity van for an exclusive chat with Firstpost. He is playing a dual role in the movie that revolves around a mistaken identity; one is ‘susheel’ while the other is ‘risky’.

“We never shot for both the characters on the same day and hence I could separate them mentally. Gaurav loves his 9 to 5 job, he wants to learn to cook for his wife and take his family for a drive, whereas Rishi is a loner and does not mind taking risks. Lots of humour has come out of both the characters,” says Sidharth, who bonded big time with his first time heroine. “Jacqueline doesn’t carry stress, she is always happy. She loves the outdoors, just the way I do. We bonded even off-camera; we would go horse riding and have poker nights in my house. Today we are great friends and that shows,” he adds.

Sidharth Malhotra has so far had six releases in his five-year-old career. He is a huge fan of action comedies and a great admirer of director duo Raj Nidimoru and Krishna DK’s (popularly known as Raj and DK) work. It’s essentially what made him give a nod to this project.

“I would love watching action comedies while growing up but so far we have seen only loud films in this genre, with elements of gags, slapstick. A Gentleman, however, is very stylised. It has deadpan humour and a lot of physical comedy. I love Raj and DK’s work, especially in the humour zone. Their debut film 99, and Go Goa Gone are my favourites. The film speaks a universal language and has got a good mix of what I have done in the past — romance, comedy, action,” says the actor.

Talking about the confusion surrounding the movie being a sequel to Bang Bang, Sidharth says, “We had to write it on the clapper board of the movie, ‘Not Bang Bang 2′. The cast, directors, story, characters, everything is different.”

Recognition for acting talent may not have come easy for this Delhi boy, with his good looks and modelling background coming in the way of him being taken seriously. But the 2016 release Kapoor & Sons kind of shifted this perception with the audience getting a glimpse of his acting chops.

“People have a perception that those who come from a modelling background can’t act. That is why I am here: to change the perception (laughs out loud). Nobody could tell 10 or 15 years ago that I would do a Karan Johar film. With a middle class upbringing in Delhi, I started from scratch but now I am a working actor. My next three films will change the perception that people have of the background that I come from, which is of an outsider or the modelling industry,” says Sidharth.

He has an interesting line-up of films like Ittefaq, a murder mystery, Neeraj Pandey’s thriller drama Aiyaary about a mentor-prodigy relationship, and Mohit Suri’s romance franchise Aashiqui 3. “Next six to seven months are very interesting for me. I have some amazing scripts coming up. People will get to see me in three different avatars in these credible, story-driven films. What else could an actor ask for?” he smiles.

Sidharth has had his share of ups and downs, and he believes nothing’s permanent in the industry. “It is all very temporary and seasonal, so you have to be on your toes. You can’t live off your previous hits or you can’t be low about your past flops. It is a matter of being relevant and reinventing yourself,” he says, adding, “But yes, there is a difference in how I choose my scripts now. There is definitely more instinct, more understanding of my craft, of my personality, my presence. With the audience getting more picky and choosy, they are pushing and nudging us to write better content.”

Work-wise, comparisons are often drawn between Sidharth and two of his first co-stars (and industry kids), Varun Dhawan and Alia Bhat; the trio debuted with Karan Johar’s Student Of The Year (2012). “In all honesty I am very consumed by the line-up of films and I mostly compete with my previous work. When Ek Villain did really well, I wished that (snaps fingers) Brothers worked better. Baar Baar Dekho was not accepted (snaps fingers again) so now I wish more aggressively that Gentleman becomes my biggest. It is all very personal, very internal. Nobody will help me in my journey, my journey is only mine,” he says.

One can’t resist asking this self-confessed ‘outsider’ about his take on the ‘N’ (Nepotism) word. Laughing uproariously, he queries, “Oh, so now it’s become the N word? Good thing is, majority of India and the youth now know the meaning of the word; we have become a bit more articulate.”

On a serious note, he adds, “Enough has been spoken about it but yes, nepotism exists. There are so many actors from film families who get chances again and again. There is no point denying it and I don’t know whether it is good or bad. The only advantage for them is that they have a sense of awareness and comfort because of the world they know, as opposed to people like us who come from outside. We take slightly longer to settle down. I never ever felt left out while working with the star kids but just that there was no awareness and I was absorbing the process until my second and third film, whereas the industry kids were comfortable right from their first film. But now that sense of awe is fading away and I’m genuinely enjoying the process of film-making.

Comedy Dangal has picked

Nach-Baliye-8-.1

 

Comedy Dangal has picked up quite a mash-up of stand-up comedians, TV’s known faces of comedy in what they like to call a battle of wits. The Show promises Dangal and it piques our interest.

We already reported that Surbhi Jyoti, Debina Bonnerjee Choudhary and Lavina Tandon are joining the show. But, what most of you don’t know is that they will be joined by a reality star who has just risen to fame.

You guessed it! It’s Monalisa, the Bigg Boss Season 10 contestant who made waves on reality dance show Nach Blaiye as well!.

On the press meet of Comedy Dangal Bharti also teased Anu Malik by claiming Monalisa is his favourite. The reality star on the music composer’s team and will battle out alongside Debina and Lavina against Bharti Singh’s team.

 

5 cool and stylish Instagram looks of Koushani Mukherjee

oushani-Mukherjee

Koushani Mukherjee, who acted in Bengali flicks like Tomake Chai, Parbona Ami Chartey Tokey and Kelor Kirti, is one of the popular faces of Tollywood. The beautiful actress is quite stylish in real life and her social media account is the proof of it. So, readers, we bring to you five latest stunning Instagram looks of the actress exclusively for you. The looks surely will give some fashion tips to the girls and make the boys go weak in their knees.
Aren’t the looks cool and stylish?

 

Only some people watch Bhojpuri films: Mona Lisa

Actress Mona Lisa says Bhojpuri films are not yet getting their due because it has failed to reach the maximum audience via single screen theatres.

READ ALSO:
Bigg Boss 11: Season 10’s Monalisa’s husband Vikrant approached for the show?

She feels it is because only a “particular” section of people of “lower standards” go and watch the films due to lack of multiplexes.

Asked why it is that Bhojpuri films, though popular, are looked down upon, Mona Lisa told IANS here: “Maybe because budget wise it is still low. We are not getting multiplex audience because it’s releasing only in single theatres. Just particular people are going. The audience there is of lower standards.

“We are reaching just till there (audience) because if Bhojpuri films don’t release in multiplexes, then people who want to watch us cannot go. That growth is yet to happen,” she added on the sidelines of the launch of &TV’S “Comedy Dangal”.

Mona Lisa, whose real name is Antara Biswas, started her Bhojpuri film career in 2008 with “Bhole Shankar”.

She says there has been a tremendous growth in the industry since then.

“Since I joined Bhojpuri films, I have seen a tremendous growth. It will take time. No regional language (films) becomes popular from the start. Our industry is growing. I feel blessed because I have done whatever I have done till today through Bhojpuri films.”

Mona Lisa was seen in the controversial reality TV show “Bigg Boss”. She says the show has given her more popularity.

“My life has changed after ‘Bigg Boss’. I am very much popular now. You can see on social websites that I have plenty of followers. Earlier, I was just famous in the regional zone, but now whenever when I go, people are recognising me,” she said.

Is Bollywood on her mind?

“I’m from Koklata, so when I started my career in Mumbai, I started it with some small budget Hindi films. I started Bhojpuri after that. Being an artiste… every artiste wants to work — in Bollywood or regional language or anywhere. We just want to work,” she said.

Asked if she has any Hindi films on her platter, she said: “Definitely talks are on. So, let’s see.”

Channa Mereya enters into Top 10 Opening Weekends of All Time

Channa Mereya enters into Top 10 Opening Weekends of All Time

Channa Mereya, the new film starring Ninja, Payal Rajput, Amrit Maan & Yograj Singh released in Cinemas yesterday and the film has opened to an unprecedented response from the audiences. The film collected Rs. 3.32 Crores in East Punjab region in 3 Days which places the film in Top 10 Opening Weekends in the history of East Punjab region.

We spoke to Param Oberoi, the CEO of White Hill Studios on Saturday and this is what he had to say, “We are delightful that the audience has liked the film and we are thankful to them for supporting fresh and different kind of cinema. We have delivered in the past and we promise to keep giving our best to Punjabi Cinema”.

This is the 4th biggest Opening of the year with Manje Bistre, Lahoriye & Super Singh making the Top 3 and Rabb Da Radio sitting at No. 5 and the 10th Best Opening Weekend of all time. The Top 3 Openings this year featured established stars in lead roles weather male or female, however Channa Mereya introduced 3 news actors in lead roles and even then managed to enter the Top 10 List of all time is an commendable feat to achieve in itself.

Listed below are the Top 10 Opening Weekend Collections of all time from East Punjab region:

Sardaarji 2 Rs. 6.53 Crores (June 24, 2016)
Sardaar Ji Rs. 6.46 Crores (June 26, 2015)
Manje Bistre Rs. 6.02 Crores (April 14, 2017)
Ambarsariya Rs. 4.56 Crores (March 25, 2016)
Bambukat Rs. 4.67 Crores (July 29, 2016)
Super Singh Rs. 4.22 Crores (June 16, 2017)
Lahoriye Rs. 4.21 Crores (May 12, 2017)
Jatt & Juliet 2 Rs. 3.82 Crores (June 28, 2013)
Angrej Rs. 3.68 Crores (July 31, 2015)
Channa Mereya Rs. 3.32 Crores (July 14, 2017)