Category Archives: other news

Varun Dhawan on October: I need this film more than anyone else at this point in my career

Mumbai: Bollywood actor Varun Dhawan says his upcoming film October came as a much-needed opportunity in his film career.

Varun Dhawan in October. Image from Twitter/@filmfare

At the film’s trailer launch on 12 March, Varun said, “I was the last person cast in the film after meeting Shoojit Sircar. I think casting should happen that way… Not because one actor is doing good in films. When I heard the story, I was so moved by it that I felt the need of doing the film. I need the film more than anyone else in the room at this point of time in my career.”

October promises a unique love story.

“When I sign a film, I look at the script more than anything, and how much the maker is putting in the film. In October Shoojitda, writer Juhi Chaturvedi and every one of our crew members put their heart and soul in it. I had to be a part of this film. They signed me for the film even before Badrinath Ki Dulhania and Judwaa 2,” Varun said.

Besides being an emotional journey for him, the film turned out to be a learning experience for Varun.

“Dada (Shoojit) asked me what do I do when I wake up. I said, ‘As usual, I check my phone, I post things on social media’. Then he asked me not to do that, and instead observe a plant for 10 minutes. I started doing that and felt a huge change. I unlearned a lot… It was a very different experience,” Varun said.

October is releasing on 13 April.

The Dirty Picture director Milan Luthria says Bollywood may be reaching its saturation point with biopics

His directorial venture The Dirty Picture, loosely based on the life of South actor Silk Smitha, has become one of the most memorable Bollywood films, but Milan Luthria believes the enthusiasm the audience shows towards the biopic genre will soon fizzle out.

The filmmaker ,who was a part of panel discussion In Someone else’s shoes: Fireside chat with makers of stellar biopics along with Hansal Mehta, Nandita Das and Dangal writer Piyush Gupta, at FICCI Frames event in Mumbai, said it is the “laziness” that prompts a lot of directors/writers to work on a biopic.”Earlier, we did not have buyers for biopics, like for The Dirty Picture.

The Dirty Picture (L); Dangal

Today, the acceptance level is high. But I am afraid we might be reaching a saturation point.”People chase it (a genre) without even knowing why are they doing it. I feel there might be laziness in writing. It is difficult to chart out a road map…. Start out the story with a new character. Reference point always makes things easier for writers,” he said.

Luthria, however, believes “good biopics” will continue to do well.Mehta, who has worked on true stories like Shahid and Aligarh, said the subject of a film should be entertaining and engaging.”Did I care if Dangal was a true story? To some extent, yes.

But do I care that it was an entertaining story? Yes I do . Like how true was (the story of) Shahid. He was not alive to tell me the story. We have always cried that we do not have good stories, but we need to work hard to find them.”If we are making biopics with the thought that everyone is making it, then it will be the dead end. We will screw it up if we just make it. There has to be a lot of potential in the story to bring it up on screen. Even in case of Aligarh, people were not telling us everything, but we had to make the story engaging,” he said.

Varun Dhawan, Katrina Kaif might pair up for the first time in Remo D’Souza’s ABCD 3

Remo D’Souza’s blockbuster dance movie franchise ABCD (Any Body Can Dance) is reportedly all set to make a comeback with its third installment and according to reports, the film is going to star Bollywood A-listers, namely — Varun Dhawan, Katrina Kaif, Salman Khan and Jacqueline Fernandez.

Varun Dhawan and Katrina Kaif during a performance. Image from Twitter/@KatrinaKaifFB

Trade analyst Taran Adarsh recently took to his Twitter profile to share that a big announcement regarding D’Souza’s film, which will be unveiled on 19 March. Calling it the ‘biggest dance film ever’, Adarsh also revealed that D’Souza will be collaborating with Bhushan Kumar (from T-Series) on the project.

According to reports, with Dhawan and Kaif being “terrific dancers”, this appears to be the “perfect cast”.

“The film has 3 principal characters and Remo D’Souza has already signed Katrina Kaif and Varun Dhawan. For the third character, the director is in talks with two actresses, Jacqueline Fernandez and Vaani Kapoor, however, is yet to sign the contract with either of them. Just like ABCD 2 even this film will be shot in 3D. The film will go on floors by January/February next year since Remo D’Souza will be busy with Race 3 till June. A lot of pre-production needs to be done, as the plan is to serve the audience with world class dance moves. Before going on floors, the entire cast of the film will undergo training sessions and workshops. The film will be shot in India and abroad,” said a unverified source, according to a Koimoi report.

According to a Pinkvilla report, another unverified source has claimed that Kaif will be seen playing a Pakistani character once again, while Fernandez will be seen playing a British girl. “So we will get to see Katrina Kaif play a Pakistani character yet again. Yes, we’ve learnt that Remo D’Souza’s next film with Varun Dhawan will see the actress playing a Pakistani girl, while Judwaa heroine, Jacqueline Fernandez will play a British girl. The title of the film is ABCD 3,” said another unverified source, according

If Dhawan and Kaif do pair up for D’Souza’s film, it’ll be the first time that the two actors will appear together on screen.

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.

Baaghi 2 song ‘Mundiyan’ could have been a nostalgic blast from the past, but for its lyrics

Bollywood and Punjabi beats have had an almost 100 percent track record. Bhangra inputs immediately work wonders for the Indian audiences — both in the subcontinent and overseas, as seen in songs like ‘Sadi Gali’ from Tanu Weds Manu, or ‘London Thumakda’ from Queen.

The song ‘Mundiyan Te Bach Ke’ by Punjabi MC — earlier part of Amitabh Bachchan-starrer Boom — has now been revamped for the upcoming film Baaghi 2 featuring Tiger Shroff and Disha Patani in the lead roles.

Still from the Baaghi 2 song 'Mundiyan'. YouTube screengrab

Any Punjabi pop fan would agree that the original song was an instant chartbuster the time it released and emerged as a true crossover Punjabi hit. The track, originally sung by Punjabi artist Labh Janjua, also made it to Hollywood: Its remix version featured Jay-Z and the track was the main theme of the 2012 Sacha Baron Cohen starrer The Dictator.

After many revamp versions, a new addition is the Baaghi 2 track ‘Mundiyan’ which has been remixed by Sandeep Shirodkar and penned by Ginny Dhawan. While the new track does bring on pure nostalgia for the original song, the lyrics don’t work with said nostalgia.

Being a Tiger Shroff track, it has a lot of dance (choreographed by Rahul Shetty) and Disha Patani matches his moves. There’s no doubt that Shroff is an excellent dancer, and he does justice to this song as well. But watching him mouth those lyrics evokes a mix-bag of emotions.

Kuchh Bheege Alfaaz surpasses ‘broken boy healed by happy woman’ trope with Geetanjali Thapa’s act

In the week before the release of his latest movie (and very first love story) Kuchh Bheege Alfaaz, acclaimed director Onir was asked in an interview what the lead characters of Archana and Alfaaz represent. He responded, “Alfaaz is broken from the inside, whereas Archana, who has leucoderma, is broken from the outside.”

Kuchh Bheege Alfaaz. Image from Twitter/@justscorpion

Kuchh Bheege Alfaaz tells the unlikely but sweet story of RJ Alfaaz (played by newcomer Zain Khan Durrani) — a mysterious RJ with a troubled past (yes, the ‘boys with troubled pasts’ have left music and joined radio now) — and Archana (National Award winner Geetanjali Thapa), who is a chilled out, idealistic, leucodermic maker of memes and WhatsApp forwards. Their paths cross virtually after a minor Tinder-phone number mishap. When Archie (short for Archana) gushes on the phone to him about how much she loves and admires the mysterious and romantic RJ Alfaaz, he decides to tell her that his name is Abhimanyu.

That’s pretty much all I remember him telling her, actually. See, if both Alfaaz and Archana are broken in different ways, it’s certainly had vastly different effects on their personalities. Alfaaz’s brokenness comes from a sorrowful experience with his teenage girlfriend, while Archana is apparently “broken” because she has leucoderma. She doesn’t, to be honest, seem very broken at all in the movie, and is actually an endless repository of good cheer and strength.

Anyway, by the time we first meet them, Alfaaz’s brokenness has inspired most of his personality to slowly seep away through the cracks over the years. All that’s left seems to be a thick concentrate of intense poetry and love stories that he recites on his captivating radio show, but otherwise, Alfaaz is a man of few words and by extension you also feel few thoughts.

I like to think that Archana was meant to be a symbol of female resilience and vigour, and Alfaaz a testament to the extreme fragility of masculinity. It seems an apt metaphor to me. On the other hand, it could also be a different, although a far more hackneyed trope: That of the silent brooding man being saved by the perkiness of the manic pixie lady love.

Most of Alfaaz’s responses to the delightful and engaging Archana on social media are barely a couple lines long. And until the very end, he doesn’t seem to say much to anyone that isn’t a response to a question or an assurance that he is, in fact, okay.

Archana, on the other hand, seems to have responded to her supposed “brokenness” by wearing the cracks with pride and embracing life with arms wide open. She may cover the patches on her neck with a scarf (until the end), but she has a love for roaming around Calcutta barefoot, and a unique approach to Tinder which involves saying yes to anyone who doesn’t upload a photo of themselves, just like her. She goes on dates to tiny momo canteens, is always quick with her truly delightful smile, and has a complicated office-friend-romance type situation with her colleague that she handles with friendliness, compassion and a spine of steel.

She knows what she wants (to make “beautiful” memes, and RJ Alfaaz), and falls hard for so-called Abhimanyu because of how much her mysterious phone pal reminds her of the RJ. And I mean she falls hard. She sends him adorable, vivacious and amusing messages all day that make her smile in anticipation of his response when her phone buzzes, and she continues to text him even when he persists in being a boring and brooding sort of guy. There are moments when you feel sure that if you were one of Archana’s friends and read his lacklustre responses, you’d immediately encourage her to cut her losses and move on to someone a bit more exciting. But Archana seems to give everything and everyone around her a chance, while Alfaaz retreats into his stark, white, bare apartment (with a great view) to read Faiz Ahmed Faiz.

There are lots of great views in Kuchh Bheege Alfaaz, and one of its best features is its pretty, nostalgic depiction of slow, slow Calcutta. The movie itself does feel a bit long, and it could have reached its conclusion a lot quicker than the 116 minutes it took. But perhaps it’s just the newness of social media romances that we expect our characters to meet and climax earlier than they need to, or earlier than social media can let them get away without.

While it is kind of exasperating to see another broken boy reluctantly allow himself to be healed by a happy woman, the excellence of Geetanjali Thapa doesn’t make it so bad. In fact, her skill and charm makes it easy to feel that perhaps the movie pushed Alfaaz into a bare room because it was aware of the talent it had at its disposal with Thapa, and decided to use it to create a strong woman character I’d loved to have seen more of. I guess this is one of those stories where you don’t really care if the guy and girl get together in the end, as long as the girl is happy, which you have a feeling she will be because she at least has a personality.

The Ladies Finger (TLF) is a leading online women’s magazine delivering fresh and witty perspectives on politics, culture, health, sex, work and everything in between.

Padman, Aiyaary, Padmaavat box office collection: Bhansali’s film nears Rs 500 cr in global earnings

This week’s latest release Aiyaary, starring Sidharth Malhotra, Manoj Bajpayee and Rakul Preet Singh, had a rather underwhelming start at the box office with respect to the kind of hype the film had generated prior to its release.

Padmaavat, Aiyaary and Padman. Facebook

On the other side, already-released films like Padman and Padmaavat are growing steadily with every passing day in the theatres.

Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s magnum opus Padmaavat, starring Deepika Padukone, Shahid Kapoor and Ranveer Singh, has emerged as one of the highest grossing films in Bollywood. The kind of nationwide attention that the film gathered — owing to the violent protests by various fringe groups belonging to the Rajput community — has only helped the film in the longer run. The film’s collection — both in India as well as abroad — has been mammoth.

According to a report by Box Office India, Bhansali’s film is nearing Rs 500 crore mark in global earnings. The film’s gross domestic earnings is reported to be around Rs 334 crore in India and Rs 165 crore overseas.

Zoom, in one of its reports, claims that Akshay Kumar-starrer Padman which was touted to be his biggest moneyspinner, has had a slow performance at the box office. The film has been able to mint Rs 68.12 crore in nine days of its release. As per trade pundits, the film’s overall earnings will come to a halt at around Rs 80 crore.

Film trade analyst Taran Adarsh posted on Twitter and revealed the collection of Neeraj Pandey’s Aiyaary:

Kangana Ranaut’s Manikarnika gets a new cast member in former Bigg Boss contestant Vivek Mishra

Former Bigg Boss contestant Vivek Mishra has joined the cast of Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi, starring actress Kangana Ranaut.

“I’m really happy to star in the film. The film itself will help to educate the generation. It will teach the meaning of love for the nation. Queen of Jhansi was an inspiring figure,” Vivek Mishra said in a statement.

“I enjoy being a part of such movies. Earlier, I was a part of Aamir Khan’s Mangal Pandey: The Rising,” he added.

Kangana Ranaut in Manikarnika and Vivek Mishra/Image from Twitter.

On his role in the upcoming film, he said, “I am playing Sipahsalar. My role will be close to Jhalkari Bai, portrayed by actress Ankita Lokhande.”

Vivek finds Kangana “kind as we can imagine how Laksmi Bai was. She has a very pure and lovely soul. She is beautiful and amazingly talented”.

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.