Category Archives: news review

Luv Ranjan on Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety’s success: Critics called the film misogynistic; I looked beyond that

Mumbai: Luv Ranjan’s Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety — which remained “rock steady” on its second Monday — has left the filmmaker happy, but not surprised.

Sunny Singh, Nushrat Bharucha and Kartik Aaryan in a still from Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety. YouTube

It has crossed over Rs 50 crore at the box office since releasing on 23 February.

“We always knew we were making a film that would appeal to the youth. Critics called the film anti-women, misogynistic. But that didn’t bother me. I was looking beyond the criticism,” Ranjan said.

“For me, my actors Kartik Aaryan, Nushrat Bharucha and Sunny Singh are stars. And beyond them, it’s the script that is the superstar,” he said, adding that there is no threat to his film in the coming week.

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.

Manikarnika: Rajput Karni Sena backs Sarv Brahmin Mahasabha’s claims over ‘historical tampering’ in film

Jaipur: The Shree Rajput Karni Sena, which has strongly protested against the release of periodic drama Padmaavat, has decided to back the Sarv Brahmin Mahasabha’s protest against the “historical tampering” of Queen Lakshmibai, also called Jhansi Ki Rani, in the film Manikarnika starring Kangana Ranaut.

The film is based on the life of ‘Jhansi ki Rani’ and allegedly shows the relationship of the queen with a British officer.

Kangana Ranaut in Manikarnika (left); Deepika Padukone in Padmaavat (right). Facebook

Shree Rajput Karni Sena founder Lokendra Singh Kalvi, asked if his outfit is lending support to the Brahmin Mahasabha in its fight against the film, said, “Agar Brahmin ka khoon bahega to Rajput kya chup rahega, jab Rajput ka khoon baha to Brahmin kabhi chup nahi raha (Rajputs will never keep quiet if Brahmins are affected, and vice versa).” He claimed that 10,000 letters were signed with blood by Brahmins to protest the release of Padmaavat.

On the issue of quashing of FIR against Sanjay Leela Bhansali, producer of Padmaavat, and against Ranveer Singh and Deepika Padukone, he said it had to happen as the apex court has already declared that the film should be released and linked it to the matter of freedom of expression.

“The High Court will definitely follow the Supreme Court. There is nothing new in it,” he added.

Asked if there is any chance of the film being released in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar and Gujarat, Kalvi said the “Supreme Court cannot dictate to cinema halls to release the film and depute paramilitary forces outside cinema halls”. The four states had earlier decided against releasing the film, and three of them had approached the apex court.

“What we know is that cinema hall owners are not ready to screen the film in any of these states,” he said, adding that on 9 February, new films are releasing and hence cinema hall owners will be more interested in those.

Film distributor Raj Bansal, who looks after the Rajasthan and Madhya Pradeh market, has refused to release the film in the two states. The Multiplex Association has also refused to release the film in Rajasthan, Kalvi said.

“We have asked the government to set up a pre-screening board to look into issues related to historical tampering of facts. We strongly propose forming a panel to look into the controversies emerging in films as Padmaavat and Manikarnika.”

He said the proposal was liked by Sanjay Leela Bhansali and even Vice President Venkaiah Naidu when he was heading the Information and Broadcasting Ministry.

“This board should be constituted by the censor board, state government or government of India and should sort out the disputes emerging at any time when any historical tampering is reported. In such times the expert panel’s role should come in,” he added.

He said the censor board had invited three panelists to watch Padmaavat but their views were not paid heed to, and added that a pre-screening board will have a legal voice.

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.

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.

Shah Rukh Khan in Zero: How the superstar successfully busts ‘hero complex’ with latest

With Zero, the transformation of Shah Rukh Khan — which began when he played the anti-hero in Baazigar (a role most other actors refused) — now seems complete in more than ways than one. The short teaser of his upcoming film that was launched on New Year’s Day as a gift to his fans is amazing both for its title, and the character the superstar plays.

By opting to play a dwarf in Zero, Shah Rukh Khan has now successfully busted the ‘hero complex’ that’s afflicts most top rated stars of the industry. Here is an actor who is his own words had accepted — many-a-times — that he is a star trapped in his own stardom. It remained an enigma to many that despite having started his career in films that were diverse and based on the works of Fyodor Dostoevsky and Gustave Flaubert, SRK later got completely enamored by jazzy Bollywood. The super star seems to be on a roll after his 50th birthday however, consenting to roles that a few years ago looked good to him only in the form of hardbound scripts. Zero is simply an extension of the journey of Shah Rukh Khan, the actor.

When the man opts to play a character which doesn’t restrict him to flaunting his six-pack abs or singing to his sweetheart, it surely calls for celebration — for the simple reason that it also heralds the star finally breaking free of his trappings and inhibitions. More so, because the ‘shedding the hero bit’ hasn’t worked for him in recent films like Dear Zindagi, Raees and Fan. With Zero, things look slightly more positive. When SRK stepped into the shoes of Jehangir Khan or Gaurav/Aryan, there were still elements of Shah Rukh Khan, the star, in all these characters. This time, however, it seems director Aanand L Rai has left no space for such a repeat. Apart from being a different person in terms of physical appearance, the character is also a ‘makkar’ and ‘chhichora’ — a fry cry from his earlier avatars. A tongue-in-cheek statement that people came out with after the teaser was released was that the star has now been cut down to size. What they failed to appreciate was that his stature as an actor has only registered an upward growth.

First look of Shah Rukh Khan in Aanand L Rai's Zero. Image courtesy Twitter/@iamsrk

Technically, SRK remains the only mainstream commercial star from Bollywood to step into the shoes of a dwarf. The over 100-year history of Hindi cinema has not witnessed anyone rise up to the challenge of playing a dwarf. Appu Raja, a southern import (the dubbed version of Kamal Haasan’s Tamil flick Apoorva Sagodharargal) remains Bollywood’s only exposure to the antics of a dwarf. Truth be told, Kamal’s performance in this film remains unchallenged only because none have played this role before. Come December, and we can pick our favourite.

The fact that none of the established Hollywood actors have enacted the role of a dwarf in films says a lot. Instead, actors like Peter Dinklage, Warwick Davis and Tony Cox have been roped in for the same. Time and again, they have proven their mettle. The Golden Globe and the Emmy that Dinklage won for his Tyrion Lannister act in Game Of Thrones also says a lot about the freedom that Hollywood offers. Compared to this, SRK is surely in a tricky situation. While on the one hand, the unwritten rules of Bollywood would never allow a dwarf to play a titular role, at the same time the entire onus to make Zero a success story falls solely on the shoulders of SRK.

It was during the annual ritual of his birthday meet with the press (in November 2017) that Shah Rukh Khan had remarked that when newer filmmakers approach him, they always write for him as ‘Shah Rukh Khan’ and never give much weight to the character. Full marks to the team of Aanand L Rai and writer Himanshu Sharma for thinking differently. Here was an opportunity, which was right in front of them, but remained hidden to others. The films that SRK did in the initial phase of his career were full of such experiments, but no one bothered to extract the old charisma of the star all these years. Films like Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa, Baazigar, and Maya Memsaab remains films that not only formed the stepping stones of his career, but also helped him gain that elusive tag of being an ‘actor’.

The Zero title seems a bit deliberate. For Aanand L Rai, it might be a celebration of incompleteness, but for the actor, Zero is another attempt in his continuous quest to give his image a well-defined structure. There is absolutely no need for him to toy with such roles at this juncture of his career but the never-ending yearning to do so only makes one love him more than ever. Zero is also an attempt by the superstar to be taken seriously as an actor after his previous efforts fell short. Shah Rukh Khan seems to be afflicted by the classic case of the Tom Cruise syndrome — too much of a star or too good-looking to be ever taken seriously. It surely is a big deal for a man who is trying desperately to get out of a certain image by doing roles that were unthinkable few years ago. Zero is a brave effort and deserves applause.

Padman song ‘Hu Ba Hu’ features Akshay Kumar, Sonam Kapoor on a menstrual hygiene mission in rural India

Akshay Kumar’s latest Bollywood outing Padman is a much awaited film both for the makers as well as cinephiles in India. Often called as the ‘poster boy of patriotism’, Akshay will venture out on a mission to provide menstrual hygiene to women living in rural parts of India with Padman, a film based on Tamil Nadu activist Arunachalam Muruganantham.

Still from Padman song 'Hu Ba Hu'. YouTube screengrab

The film’s latest song ‘Hu Ba Hu’ — released today on 4 January — details this journey along with a spark of budding compassion and affection between the characters of Akshay and Sonam Kapoor.

While Akshay’s character in the film is etched along Muruganantham’s over all persona, actor Radhika Apte plays Akshay’s wife in Padman. Kapoor reportedly plays the role of an NGO activist who supports Akshay’s endeavours to provide low-cost sanitary pads to rural Indian women.

Sung and composed by Amit Trivedi, the song ‘Hu Ba Hu’ bears his musical signature from the get go. The tonality of the song, the rhythm, the tempo — all remind you of Trivedi’s songs like the title tracks of Ek Main Aur Ek Tu, English Vinglish.

‘Hu ba hu’ is penned by lyricist Kausar Munir who has previously written for Dear Zindagi, Meri Pyaari Bindu, Secret Superstar, to name a few.

Padman is an adaptation of a short story written by Twinkle Khanna in her second book The Legend of Lakshmi Prasad.

Directed by R Balki, the film is jointly produced by Kumar’s Grazing Goat Pictures, Twinkle Khanna’s Mrs Funnybones Films and Balki, Gauri Shinde’s Hope Productions. Padman is slated for a 26 January release.

Tiger Zinda Hai box office collection: Salman Khan, Katrina Kaif starrer nears 300 cr mark

Salman Khan and Katrina Kaif’s film Tiger Zinda Hai is on a money-spinning roll ever since it released on 22 December. The film released with a bang and it has been only going stronger as the days pass.


Yesterday, the film passed the Rs 250 crore mark and ended up minting Rs 272 crore by the end of its 11th-day run. Now, as per the latest figures, the film is nearing Rs 300 crore mark with collections estimated at Rs 286.46 crore.

Many trade pundits firmly believe, this film will cross the Rs 300 crore benchmark and bring the film business back on tracks. It is not an unknown fact that the last year, 2017, has been remarkably low for the industry with major (high-budget/ star-studded) films tanking at the box office.

Tiger Zinda Hai — sequel to Kabir Khan’s 2012 action-thriller Ek Tha Tiger — is helmed by Sultan director Ali Abbas Zafar. The film details the adventurous life of cross-border spies-cum-lovers Tiger (played by Salman) and Zoya (played by Katrina) as they go on a high-risk rescue operation. The film is produced by Yash Raj Films.

Tiger Zinda Hai: FIR lodged against Salman Khan, Shilpa Shetty for hurting sentiments of Valmiki community

Right after Salman Khan, Katrina Kaif’s latest release Tiger Zinda Hai hit the screens yesterday on 22 December, there were reports of protests against Salman Khan and Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty Kundra for hurting sentiments of Valmiki community.


The ire was directed at the cinema theatres in Jaipur screening Salman’s film— Raj Mandir, Paras and Ankur — where members of the Valmiki community tore posters, burnt effigies and hurled slogans against the actor demanding an apology.

Now, it is reported a complaint has been filed against Salman and Shilpa at a police station in Andheri, Mumbai, reports The Hindustan Times. The complainant named Navin Lade, belonging to a certain political party called The Rojgar Aghari Republic Party of India alleged that both the actors “intentionally insulted and intimidated with intent to humiliate and abused” by using casteist comments on a TV show.

Earlier, there were reports that an FIR has been lodged against both the actors at Kotwali police station in Rajasthan’s Churu district, reports The Indian Express.

“An FIR has been lodged against Khan and Shetty under relevant sections of the SC/ST Act and section 153A (Promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc., and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony) of IPC,” says Barhat Rahul Manhardan, Superintendent of Police, Churu. Earlier, a complaint has reportedly been filed at Nahargarh police station as well, adds the Express report.

Both these actors have been accused of using the word ‘bhangi’ in a disrespectful context. Salman had allegedly used ‘bhangi’ referring to his style of dancing in films on one of his appearances in a reality show. Shilpa, during an interaction with the media said that she is always dressed like a ‘bhangi’ at home. “I look like a bhangi doing this step,” said Salman in an old promotional video. Shilpa, when asked about her looks at home, said, “I look like a bhangi.”

According to a report by ZeeNews, the National Commission for Scheduled Castes has even sought reply within seven days from the I&B Ministry and Police Commissioners of Delhi and Mumbai over the complaints lodged against bothKhan and Shetty.

Tiger Zinda Hai box office collection: Salman Khan-Katrina Kaif starrer earns Rs 69.40 cr in two days

When it is said that there is an extraordinary connection between Salman Khan and his fans, it is after all not an exaggeration. So what if Tubelight didn’t fare well at the box-office early this year, Khan’s fans thronged to watch his latest offering, Tiger Zinda Hai.


Sequel to the 2012 film Ek Tha Tiger, Ali Abbas Zafar’s directorial venture, Tiger Zinda Hai brings back cross-border lovers-cum-spies back in action. Khan and Katrina Kaif’s film released worldwide yesterday on 22 December. Within the first two days of the release, the romance-action-drama has been able to mint Rs 69.40 crore.

It earned Rs 34.10 crore on its opening day and the collection rose marginally on Saturday as the film garnered Rs 35.30 crore on the second day. Going by the trend, trade pundits predict that Tiger Zinda Hai will become the quickest film to hit the Rs 100 crore mark on Sunday.