Monthly Archives: November 2017

Padmavati is an attempt to assassinate character of Indian women, says RSS affiliate

New Delhi: Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s film Padmavati was an “insult” to Indian women and an “attempt to assassinate” their character by showing them in a poor light, an RSS affiliate said on Wednesday.

“These days, filmmakers want to make money at any cost, even by distorting historical facts and tinkering with the national pride,” national general secretary of the Akhil Bharatiya Itihas Sankalan Yojana (ABISY) Balmukund Pandey said.

Deepika Padukone in a still from Padmavati.

He was speaking at a conference on “Rani Padmavati” in New Delhi, which was organised by the ABISY, which works in the fields related to India’s ancient history and culture.

“Rani Padmavati is a very respected figure in Indian history. This film is not only an insult to her, but also to the Indian women and is an attempt to assassinate their character,” he said.

Taking on Bhansali, Pandey said the issue would not be resolved by showing the film to a select few people and that it was a matter of national pride.

The makers of the film, which features Deepika Padukone, Shahid Kapoor and Ranveer Singh in the lead roles, have deferred its release from 1 December till further notice.

Many Rajput groups have been up in arms against the film, alleging that it distorts history by featuring a romantic dream sequence between Padmavati and Alauddin Khilji, a claim repeatedly denied by Bhansali.

A number of organisations, especially the Karni Sena, have been opposing the release of the period drama, claiming that it portrays the Rajput queen in a bad light.

BJP-ruled states such as Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh have expressed reservations about releasing the film.

Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani has said his government will not allow Padmavati to be screened in the state as it hurts the sentiments of the Rajput community.

Padmavati controversy: A timeline of the setbacks faced by Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s film

Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s upcoming film Padmavati has been mired in controversy for almost a year now.  The film — starring Deepika Padukone, Ranveer Singh and Shahid Kapoor — tells the story of Alauddin Khilji, the medieval-era Delhi ruler, who fell in love with Rajput queen Padmavati. But many fringe groups, including the Shri Rajput Karni Sena, an organisation of the Rajput community, claim the film has distorted historical facts and have opposed the film’s release with threats and acts of hooliganism.

Deepika Padukone in and as Padmavati

As the outrage for a film that people are yet to watch continues, let’s look at all the problems and setbacks faced by Bhansali and co in the last year or so.

25 December, 2016: A painter, Mukesh Dakia, suffers a head injury on the sets of the film and is declared dead on arrival at Kokilaben Hospital, Mumbai.

27 December, 2016: Film Studio Setting and Allied Mazdoor Union demand compensation for the family issuing a notice to Bhansali.

4 January, 2017: The family of the deceased painter receives a compensation of Rs 23 lakh after a mutual understanding is reached with Bhansali.

27 January, 2017: Activists of a Rajput organisation, Shree Rajput Karni Sena, claim the director is “distorting” historical facts in the film, with the organisation’s patron and founder Lokendra Singh Kalvi saying “In no book is it written that Alauddin Khilji fell in love with Padmavati or he was her lover.” They protest and misbehave with the film’s crew during a shoot in Jaigarh Fort. They assault Bhansali by slapping him and tearing up his shirt. They also damage some cameras and other equipment, forcing Bhansali to stop shooting. Bollywood celebrities including Priyanka Chopra, Mahesh Bhatt and Anurag Kashyap take to social media to express their anger and shock. The Film & Television Producers Guild of India Ltd urges the government to take action.

28 January, 2017: A day after the assault on the sets, Bhansali decides to cancel shooting in Jaipur. The director clarifies in a statement that there is no dream sequence or objectionable scene between the characters of Rani Padmavati and Allauddin Khilji.

31 January, 2017: Bhansali Productions reach a truce with Shree Rajput Sabha regarding the latter’s objection to possible distortion of facts in Padmavati.

14 February, 2017: Shree Rajput Karni Sena say there is a need to create a ‘pre-Censor Board’ to monitor all period films and prevent any misrepresentation of history.

6 March, 2017: Shree Rajput Karni Sena enter the Padmini Mahal in Chittorgarh Fort in Jaipur and break the mirrors famously known to have reflected the image of Rajput queen Rani Padmavati for Delhi Sultan Alauddin Khilji’s viewing.

15 March, 2017: Two dozen unidentified miscreants torch a huge outdoor set of the film in Kohlapur. Since the fire brigade could not reach the disaster site in time, villagers help douse the fire and move the people and animals, mostly horses, from the site to safety. Trunks full of detailed costumes and accessories for the film are reduced to ashes. Maharashtra Minister of State for Home Deepak V Kesarkar says Bhansali had declined night security for the film set in Kolhapur.

21 September, 2017: Lokendra Singh Kalvi reiterates that his organisation will oppose the film’s screening if facts are “distorted”.

23 September, 2017: A group of protesters from Shri Rajput Karni Sena gather in front of Rajmandir Cinema Hall in Jaipur and shout slogans against Bhansali and burn posters of the film.

9 October, 2017: The trailer for the film is released.

2 November, 2017: BJP write to the Election Commission seeking a ban on the release of Padmavati till after the Gujarat Assembly elections on 9 and 14 December claiming claimed the movie would hurt the sentiments of Kshatriya and Rajput communities for its “wrong depiction of history”. Senior Congress leader and national spokesperson Shaktisinh Gohil says if there is actually “distortion of history” in the movie then it should not be released at all.

3 November, 2017: Protest by the Karni Sena against the film picks up pace in Rajasthan with a complete bandh observed in Chittorgarh.

6 November, 2017: Brahmin organisation, Sarv Brahmin Mahasabha, oppose the film’s release noting they will not tolerate “distortion” of historical facts at any cost.

7 November, 2017: T Raja Singh, a member of Telangana assembly, calls upon people to boycott the movie believing the filmmakers were trying to denigrate Rajput community. He threatens to burn down theatres during screening and even announces that he will bail out youth if they are arrested for setting afire the theatres. Film distributors in Rajasthan, meanwhile, are wary of releasing the film.

Diya Kumari, of the former royal family of Jaipur, says if the movie does not display authentic history or takes any liberties, it will not be allowed to be released. “Rajputs will not allow any distortion of the valiant history of Rajasthan and sacrifice of its people in fighting barbarians,” she says.

8 November, 2017: Following widespread criticism against his yet-to-release film, Bhansali posts a video saying the film upholds the honour of Rajputs and does not depict anything that may hurt anyone’s sentiments.

9 November, 2017: Baijiraj Trivikrama Kumari Jamwal, daughter of Mahendra Singh Mewar (the 76th Maharana of the Mewar dynasty), says the controversy is generating “free publicity” for the film. “Instead of making it clear that it is Bollywood masala, you’re saying it is history and misleading and ‘miseducating’ the future generations,” she adds.

10 November, 2017: BJP’s Arjun Gupta urges in a letter, addressed to Home Minister Rajnath Singh, that Bhansali should be tried for treason for distorting history. The Rajasthan government plans to set up a committee to watch the film. The Supreme Court refuses a plea seeking to ban the release of the film. The apex court says it could not intervene since the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) was yet to decide about the certification of the film.

11 November, 2017: Maharajkumar Vishvaraj Singh, son of Mahendra Singh Mewar, pens a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Minister of Information and Broadcasting Smriti Irani and censor board chairperson Prasoon Joshi, among others, urging them to withhold the certification and release of the film.

13 November, 2017: Members of Indian Film and Television Directors’ Association (IFTDA), Cine and TV Artists Association (CINTAA), Western India Cinematographers Association (WICA), Screenwriters Association (SWA) and Association of Cine and Television Art Directors & Costume Designer appeal to Smriti Irani and Rajnath Singh to allow freedom for filmmakers in the wake of the controversy over the film. Meanwhile, Haryana Health Minister Anil Vij joins the anti-Padmavati bandwagon and asks the censor board to stall its release.

14 November, 2017: Karni Sena activists vandalise a theatre in Kota, Rajasthan after reports that it was showing a trailer of Padmavati. The protestors pelt stones and break windowpanes, gates and the ticket counter and also damage some office furniture.

15 November, 2017: The Maharashtra government provides a precautionary security cover to Bhansali amidst increasing controversies and growing threats ahead of the Padmavati‘s release. Shri Rajput Karni Sena calls for a ‘Bharat Bandh’ on 1 December if the film releases on that date. Congress says if there are scenes that hurt the sentiments of a particular community, the same need to be reviewed. The Uttar Pradesh government writes to the Union Secretary of Ministry of Information and Broadcasting requesting them to ensure that the prospects of public outrage and unrest over the film are considered owing to twisting of historical facts before certification of the film by CBFC. CBFC chairperson Prasoon Joshi says he is yet to watch the film, contrary to reports.

16 November, 2017: Karni Sena leader Lokendra Singh Kalvi threatens to cut actress Deepika Padukone’s nose amid a call for “Bharat Bandh”. Sarv Brahmin Mahasabha, an organisation of the Brahmin community, organises a blood signature campaign to request the CBFC to ban the film. Thakur Abhishek Som of Sardhana Chaubisi, who claims affiliation to the Samajwadi Party, announces a bounty of Rs 5 crore on the heads of Bhansali and Padukone for “wrongfully portraying” queen Padmini.
Union Minister Uma Bharti hits out at Bhansali for not taking care of sentiments of the Rajput community.

17 November, 2017: Entry to the famous Chittorgarh Fort in Jaipur was closed in protest against the film. Tourists visiting the fort were requested to go back. In other parts of Rajasthan, including Jaipur and Ajmer, protests are held by the Karni Sena. In Ajmer in front of a picture hall, miscreants put up a poster saying that Padmavati will not be released.
Mumbai police has warned individuals and groups against taking the law into their hands while protesting.

18 November, 2017: The Gaurav Swabhiman Sabha in Gujarat declares a pledge to not let the film run in the theaters of Gujarat, as they feel that it has been mischievous on the part of Bhansali to depict Rajput women in “degrading fashion”. Hundreds of supporters of various Rajput organisations in Bihar stage protests against Bhansali, demanding a ban on his film “Padmavati” in the state.  Shouting slogans and chanting “Jai Shri Ram”, the protestors, including women of Rajput Mahasabha, take out a protest march and demand banning of the movie. They also threaten to not allow its screening.

19 November, 2017: Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje writes to the Centre seeking “necessary changes” in the movie before its release, so that “sentiments of any community are not hurt”. The release of the film is “voluntarily” deferred from its scheduled date of 1 December, a spokesperson for the film’s producer and distributor Viacom18 Motion Pictures says.

20 November, 2017: Senior National Conference (NC) leader and MLA Devender Rana urges Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti to ban the release. Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan says the film will not be released in his state even if it clears the Censor Board, while his Punjab counterpart Amarinder Singh backs the Rajput community for objecting to the historical drama. The Supreme Court on Monday rejects a plea seeking to restrain the film’s release, saying that it is premature and would amount to pre-judging the matter.

21 November, 2017: Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah urges the Haryana government to act against fringe elements threatening bodily harm against Deepika Padukone. Police personnel are posted outside the residence of Padukone’s parents following threats over her role in the film. Haryana’s chief media coordinator Kunwar Surajpal Singh Ammu is booked under Section 506 (criminal intimidation) of Indian Penal Code at Gurugram’s Sector 29 police station on the complaint by a fan of Deepika and Bhansali.  Singh had threatened to behead Bhansali and Padukone.

22 November, 2017: Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani declares that his government will not allow the film’s release. At least eight organisations under the banner of Akhil Bhartiya Shakti Samaj launch a signature campaign in Kolkata in protest against the film.

23 November, 2017: The British Board Of Film Classification (BBFC) clears Padmavati for release on 1 December but a source close to the film’s makers say it won’t release anywhere on that date.

24 November, 2017: A group of people stage a protest outside the Azadpur Metro station in New Delhi. The body of a 40-year-old man is found hanging from the outer walls of Nahargarh Fort in Jaipur with messages against the film “Padmavati” scribbled on rocks nearby.

25 November, 2017: The Indian Films and TV Directors’ Association (IFTDA), along with 20 other bodies of the film and television industry, plan a 15-minute blackout in support of the film and “to protect the right to freedom of expression of creative individuals”. Haryana BJP leader Suraj Pal Amu threatens West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee that she will meet the same fate as “Surpanakha”, a demoness from the Ramayana whose nose was cut off by Lakshman, a day after she says her state was ready to welcome the film and its crew.

26 November, 2017: The Congress’ Kerala unit asks Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan to ensure that the film is released in the state.

28 November, 2017: Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar orders a ban on the film in the state. Expressing its solidarity with the cast and crew of Padmavati, the Bengali film fraternity observes a “15 minute black out” denouncing the protests against the film.

29 November, 2017: Haryana’s BJP Chief Media Coordinator Kunwar Surajpal Singh Ammu, who announced a Rs 10 crore award to behead Bhansali and Padukone, sends his resignation to Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) state chief Subhash Barala through a WhatsApp message and urged his to accept it immediately.
A dance by Aparna Yadav, a daughter-in-law of Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh Yadav, to the movie’s song creates a political furore. Aparna Yadav danced to the Ghoomar song of the yet-to-be-released movie while celebrating her younger brother Aman Bisht’s engagement ceremony at a five-star hotel in Lucknow, raising the hackles of elements opposed to the film.

Julie 2 movie review: Pahlaj Nihalani presents the most sanskaari film ever, starring Raai Laxmi

It is indeed surprising to see the great Pahlaj Nihalani, the former Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) chairman and staunch protector of our sanskaar, ‘presenting’ Julie 2.

After all, it was Nihalani who once had a problem with kissing scenes in the James Bond movie Spectre and a bra being shown in Dum Laga Ke Haisha. It was he who opened our eyes to the wonderful truth that our real sanskaar lies in pretending no one has sex or sexual thoughts, and that expressions of lust/love are just the worst.

A still from Julie 2. Youtube screengrab

On the other hand, Julie 2 is a film full of scenes involving kissing (and much more), falling bras, and songs which call a woman ‘tandoor garam’. Just from watching the trailer of this movie, one may tend to think that Nihalani’s talk about sanskaar was nothing but a stinking pile of rubbish.

But Nihalani’s devotion to sanskaar goes much deeper.

Julie 2 was probably Nihalani’s way of punishing a large number of unsanskaari people by giving them permanent brain damage.

He probably knew that a sanskaari person would never, ever commit the unforgivable sin of thinking about sex and watch all the unsanskaari things shown in Julie 2.

Thus, in all likelihood, Nihalani’s genius plan was to gather all unsanskaari folks in a cinema hall and punish them by presenting a film so pathetic that it would take weeks of therapy to recover from the trauma caused by all the nonsense taking place in the name of cinema, thereby making the world a better place. Such is his greatness.

In Julie 2, South Indian actress Raai Laxmi makes her Bollywood debut by playing Julie – a naïve, innocent girl trying to make it big in the bad and dirty world of showbiz. As the film begins, we are shown a Julie who already has a successful career as an actress. But she is soon attacked by a bunch of armed henchmen in a jewelry shop. As CID’s senior inspector Abhijeet ACP Dev Dutt (played by Aditya Srivastava) investigates the mystery and discusses Julie’s life with her guardian Annie Aunty (played by Rati Agnihotri), we are shown Julie’s long struggle in flashbacks.

Raai Laxmi in a poster for Julie 2. Image courtesy Facebook/@Julie2Film

The first sign that Julie 2 is around two hours of torture is, well, that it’s called Julie 2. Its plot (or whatever little there is of it) has absolutely nothing to do with its supposed 2004 prequel Julie. The unoriginal name ‘Julie 2’ was obviously chosen by the filmmakers to market the movie by promising the same rubbish theme: Steamy sex scenes and raunchy item songs in the name of some shallow, half-baked message about hardships faced by women.

As for Raai Laxmi, one doesn’t know whether to feel bad for her or cringe at her poor performance. On one hand, Laxmi’s expression when Julie is talking about getting sexually assaulted as a teenager is the same as when her character is happy and smiling at another person. On the other hand, you feel bad for Laxmi when you realise the film shamelessly objectifies women, something its ‘message’ was supposed to be fighting against.

The film’s excuse of portraying women’s issues falls apart when instead of presenting the sexual objectification of Julie by men in a negative light, it actually glamourises it, thus encouraging such behaviour. The focus in the sex scenes and item songs is always on titillating the audience and presenting Julie as some sort of sex toy. This movie is about the casting couch mentality, except it is all about secretly sympathising with it.

The mess of a screenplay and horrible writing becomes obvious through some of the mind-boggling, absurd decisions taken by characters and the obvious, in-your-face loopholes. The shoddy writing and direction by Deepak Shivdasani also becomes clear when you realise that Julie’s idea of independence in the movie basically boils down to finding love and support from any man, even if she is fully aware that he is using her for sex. Because who needs real women empowerment, right?

The other characters are as shallow. Ravi Kishan’s depiction of a South Indian actor will convince you more than ever that he is not a South Indian. Srivastava desperately tries playing super-cop by saying dialogues like ‘Ye dhai kilo ka nahi, dhai feet ka haanth hai.’ And according to Rati Agnihotri’s Annie Aunty, the solution to every single problem in this world can be found in religion. The only tolerable performance comes from Pankaj Tripathi, who pays the politician Ashwini Asthana.

Julie 2 is one of those movies which makes the commercials against smoking, shown before a film in a theatre, look great.

But then again, maybe that was the whole point. By making us unsanskaari people go through such turmoil, Julie 2 actually becomes the most sanskaari film in the universe.

Nihalani, despite leaving CBFC, is still looking after our sanskaar with trash like Julie 2. Like a silent guardian. A watchful protector.

Padmavati: Congress’ Kerala unit writes to CM, asking him to ensure film is released in state

Amid protests against Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s upcoming film Padmavati, the Congress’ Kerala unit on 26 November asked Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan to ensure that the film is released in the state.

Deepika Padukone in a still from Padmavati. Facebook

Questioning the Chief Minister’s silence on the issue, state Congress president MM Hassan told IANS, “What baffles me is the silence of Vijayan.”

“We all expected Vijayan would come out strongly against the present opposition against this film, but surprisingly he has not uttered a word.

“I have now written to him to see that the state government should ensure that the film is released here and, if need be, security should also be given wherever the film is released in Kerala,” said Hassan.

In his letter, Hassan also pointed out that West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has also promised to release the film in her state.

“The opposition to this film from fascist forces is a clear example of curbing expression of freedom,” said Hassan, adding that Vijayan’s silence is meant not to ruffle the “good” relations that he has with the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.

Bhansali’s historical drama Padmavati has been facing protests from Hindu groups and some critics have even issued violent threats over claims that the movie distorts various historical facts.

The film was scheduled to be released on 1 December but has been deferred by the makers amid the controversy.

Padmavati controversy: Cabinet panel seeks report from Smriti Irani’s ministry, censor board

New Delhi: The controversy over period drama Padmavati on Wednesday reached the portals of Parliament as a house panel sought a report on the film from the Information and
Broadcasting Ministry and the censor board.

The matter was taken up for consideration by the Lok Sabha Committee on Petitions after two BJP MPs, CP Joshi and Om Birla, from Rajasthan filed a plea before it regarding objectionable content in the movie. When contacted, Joshi (who is also a member of the panel) told PTI that the movie should be shown to historians and the descendants of the erstwhile royal families, who trace their lineage to Padmavati, before its release.

Deepika Padukone in a still from Padmavati

“The panel has referred the matter to the Information and Broadcasting Ministry and the censor board. It has also asked them to submit a report before 30 November,” senior BJP leader
Bhagat Singh Koshyari, who heads the panel, said.


The Sanjay Leela Bhansali film starring Deepika Padukone, Shahid Kapoor and Ranveer Singh is based on Rajput queen, Padmavati. Amid rumours that there was a romantic dream sequence
between Padmavati and Alauddin Khilji’s characters, various Rajput and other groups have been protesting against the film, alleging it “distorts” history and hurts the sentiments of the people.

Historians are, however, divided on whether Queen Padmavati even existed. Chief ministers of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh — all BJP ruled states — and Punjab, ruled by the Congress, have already opposed the release of the movie. Following this severe opposition, the makers of the movie deferred its release date.

Krrish 4 could see Nawazuddin Siddiqui play nemesis to Hrithik Roshan’s superhero

After the huge success of Hrithik Roshan’s Krrish 3, fans all over the country had been eagerly waiting to hear the announcement of the next installment. Post the success of his last film Kaabil, filmmaker Rakesh Roshan promised that he would soon begin shooting for Krrish 4. While the dates have not been confirmed yet, the production team has already started to chalk out the star cast of this sci-fi flick.

Nawazuddin Siddiqui in a still from Gangs of Wasseypur. YouTube

Bollywood Life reports that Nawazuddin Siddiqui may be roped in as the antagonist in Krrish 4. The team had been looking for an actor who could both physically and mentally challenge Hrithik in the upcoming sequel. Nawazuddin has shown his action-packed, no nonsense, grey side in several films and the team felt he would be perfect for the role. Nawaz is keen on the film too, but he is yet to sign on the dotted line.” However, there is no official confirmation from Nawazuddin’s side yet. Rakesh Roshan is also on the hunt for a new female lead.

The latest Krrish film is said to be a bit different from its prequels. Meanwhile, this will not be the first time Nawazuddin will play a negative role. We have seen his amazing performance as a bad guy in a few movies, including Salman Khan’s Kick and Varun Dhawan’s Badlapur.

Hrithik’s next film Super 30 is based on the life story of Bihar-based Mathematician Anand Kumar is scheduled to hit the screens next year. The announcement of the release date was made by Reliance Entertainment recently on Twitter. The project is directed by filmmaker Vikas Bahl.

Padmavati: Subhash Ghai says Sanjay Leela Bhansali should be able to ‘take cinematic liberty’

Bollywood’s ‘showman’ Subhash Ghai has extended support to Sanjay Leela Bhansali, saying he is entitled to “cinematic liberty” and that it is wrong for his detractors to pass an opinion without seeing a film.

Subhash Ghai in action mode. Image courtesy: Facebook

“I will not comment about the Padmavati issue because I am not a politician. I respect my filmmakers. You have to understand one thing that you cannot judge something without seeing it,” Ghai said here during his masterclass at the ongoing 48th International Film Festival of India (IFFI).

“One artiste has made a film based on his imagination. He has not said that he is uniting with 15 organisations to make a historical film,” he added.

Padmavati, featuring Deepika Padukone as Rani Padmavati, has been mired in controversy over conjectures that it “distorts history” regarding the Rajput queen. Bhansali has repeatedly denied the charge.

The release date of the film has been pushed back from 1 December, but some fringe groups are demanding a ban on the movie.

Ghai also recounted the time when his own movie Khalnayak got into trouble due to the song “Choli ke peeche”.

“It happened with me too. A lawyer filed a case against us saying that Choli Ke Peeche is a vulgar song. We went to the court and the court gave us a go ahead one day before the release,” said Ghai, known for spinning magic on the silver screen in the 1980s and 1990s.


The filmmaker added: “You haven’t seen the film and you are already assuming that something will be wrong in it. Sanjay Leela Bhansali is a responsible person. But there will be some colours of cinema in the project. He will take some cinematic liberty.”

Having started his directorial career with the 1976 film Kalicharan, Ghai’s repertoire is studded with cinematic gems like Karz, Ram Lakhan, Khalnayak, Pardes, Taal”, Saudagar and Karma.


His last few movies Yuvvraaj, Kaanchi: The Unbreakable and Black & White — failed to spin magic at the box office, and went unnoticed. He also backs films under his banner Mukta Arts and has a film school Whistling Woods International.

Ghai also suggested a solution to the whole issue.

“First watch the film. If you have a problem after watching the film too, then talk it out,” he said.

Filmmaker Sudhir Mishra, too, said that people have a right to express their anguish with anything they might find offensive as India is a democracy.

“As a industry we stand by each other defending our right to make films. And if any one has any problem with the film they are free to express as we live in a democracy. But you can’t take away my right to express as a filmmaker as well. It is as fundamental as expressing protest and that’s all we are saying,” Mishra said on the sidelines of IFFI Panorama Section inauguration.

Tumhari Sulu is a throwback to the feel-good family films of yore: A look back at their era

A little over a decade ago, one of my first assignments as a rookie film journalist was to call Hrishikesh Mukherjee for a quick phone interview. I dialed his landline. “Sorry beta, I’m just back from the hospital. Can we talk next week?” he asked. “Sure, thank you,” I replied, put down the phone and burst into tears. Whoever before or after that lovely gent would ever addresses a young stranger with such nonchalant kindness!

I was always familiar with, though never wild about Hrishida’s pool of multiple genre hits, from tear-jerkers like Milli, Anand, dramas like Abhimaan and comedies like Bawarchi and Khoobsurat. Whatever the genre, the un-laboured gentleness of the man himself – so apparent in a brief, inconsequential telephone conversation – shone through all his films. To date, filmmakers resort to quoting him to give a context to their slice-of-real-life, middle-class oriented Indian films. Case in point, hit du jour Tumhari Sulu’s producer Atul Kasbekar, who’s said that his Vidya Balan film is a “Hrishikesh Mukherjee film for us set in modern day; an urban, well-written comedic kind of space”.

Tumhari Sulu is a throwback to the films of Hrishikesh Mukherjee, Basu Chatterjee and Sai Paranjpe

Notwithstanding the irrepressible Balan, no film – including Hrishida’s own, IMHO – can withstand the sheer Tsunami of slice-of-life, madcap delight that’s Golmaal. My cable television go-to, I can chortle and giggle with the 1979 Amol Palekar-Utpal Dutt starrer on loop any day. Both terrific actors received Filmfare awards for their roles in the film, Palekar easily edging out Amitabh Bachchan (Mr Natwarlal) and Rishi Kapoor (Sargam) that year. Everything in the film worked organically — from the goofy twin brother fraud executed by a smashing ensemble cast to RD Burman’s breezy music and Gulzar’s  everyday quirky lyrics (apart from the sublime ‘Aanewala Pal’, my favourite lyrics are from the song ‘Ek Din Sapna Mein Dekha Sapna’ which go — Lata gaa rahi thi, main table pe the, wo mukhde pe thi, main antare pe tha…)

But above all, Golmaal works through decades because it was made in a more innocent — and cleaner, literally — time. I’d hardly call it naïve though. Lightness of being is more like it. Problems of a growing megalopolis notwithstanding, being middle class Indian in the seventies was all kinds of cool. Bombay (as it was known then) was the sort of place you wanted to live in, romance in BEST buses and hang out at Samovar Café flirting with baby boomers in bellbottoms and bush shirts… Hrishida’s cinema was accessible, never mundane or contrived. Contemporary actors like (and by ‘like’, I mean ‘only’ them)  Ayushman Khurana and Bhumi Pednekar – in the exceptionally charming Dum Laga Ke Haisha and Shubh Mangal Savdhan – are perfectly relatable, lovable middle-class Palekars of our times, but they’re unfortunately saddled with a much more complex and louder socio-cultural milieu.

Community Politics

If Hrishida’s pioneering ‘middle road’ cinema flourished in the home environment, Basu Chatterjee’s Chhoti Si Baat (1975) was a realistically romantic slice of office life in the urban India of the Seventies. As Arun (Amol Palekar) and Prabha (Vidya Sinha) romance all over Bandra and South Bombay, their employer, Jackson Tolaram Private Limited is the sort of cosmopolitan office space where Parsis, Maharashtrians, Malyalis and Gujratis quibble good-heartedly. Three years later, Basuda trained his easy breezy romantic oeuvre on different communities that defined Bombay. In Khatta Meetha (1978), a Parsi widower Homi Mistry (Ashok Kumar) and widow Nargis Sethna (Pearl Padamsee) decide to get married with their respective, temperamental broods tagging along unwillingly. He followed it up with Baaton Baaton Mein (1979) in which the lovely Nancy (Tina Munim) romanced Tony Braganza (Palekar) in the 9.30 am local and her home in Bandra where the family tapped their feet to the adorable ‘Uthe sab ke kadam, dekho rumpumpum…’

Unlike Hrishida’s genteel characters, Basuda tended towards crafting slightly naughty and smarmy fellows, like Palekar’s bombastic love guru Colonel Julius Nagendranath Wilfred Singh (Ashok Kumar) in Chhoti Si Baat. That naughty, risqué streak culminated in Shaukeen (1982) where a troika of sixty-something gents travel to Goa to lech at and woo a young girl, an adult comedy that was nowhere as innocent and all encompassing as Golmaal.

Tortoises, hares and detergent salesgirls

Rounding up the troika of middle-of-the-road cinema of the early Eighties are Sai Paranjape’s films, where she mercifully found a replacement for Amol Palekar. As the studious Siddharth in Chashme Buddoor (1981) and the flamboyant and selfish hare Bashu to Nasseruddin Shah’s Rajaram the tortoise in the magnificent Katha (1983) the late Farooq Sheikh brought his own brand of youthful charm to the middle-class hero. He also made one of the most underrated romantic couples on the Indian screen (a personal favourite) with Deepti Naval. Whether sticking a single hibiscus flower in her hair or demonstrating Chamko detergent powder to a smitten bachelor, Naval took on the mantle of the middle-class girl next door with subtlety, grace and oodles of charm.

Their romance was as much with life as it was with each other. Real, breezy and so uniquely representative of an urbane India that it promptly strikes you with longing, even if you aren’t terribly sentimental.

Padmavati: Makers say CBFC ‘looking the other way'; feel compelled to show film at ‘other forums’ for clearance

Mumbai: The makers of Padmavati have rued how the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) is “looking the other way” due to which they are compelled to show the movie at other platforms.

Deepika Padukone in Padmavati. File image.

“What an irony, those who are supposed to watch are looking the other way and we have to run around and show it at other forums to ‘clear’ it,” tweeted Ajit Andhare, Chief Operating Officer (COO), Viacom18 Motion Pictures.

The banner has produced Padmavati, scheduled to release on 1 December, with Bhansali Productions and it will distribute the film in India. The censor board has reportedly sent back the film’s application for certification, citing that it is incomplete.

Meanwhile, senior journalists Rajat Sharma and Arnab Goswami said on 17 November that they have watched the movie and didn’t find anything that could hurt the sentiments of the Rajput community.

Andhare further wrote: “Can screen to responsible individuals who feel aggrieved. Please come, see it yourself, nothing to hide, put an end to this saga. Let’s celebrate our heritage. We can do it tomorrow itself, we want them to stand with us support the film it celebrates Rajput pride. We have been saying from beginning. Film just finished few days back,” he added in a series of posts on 17 November.

Padmavati is Bhansali’s professed tribute to the valour and sacrifice of Rajput queen Rani Padmavati. Various Rajput organisations have demanded the movie’s release be stalled and have threatened the director and the film’s lead actress Deepika Padukone.

“We must appreciate that government has really gone out of the way to provide security to Sanjay and Deepika,” Andhare tweeted thanking Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Smriti Irani and Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.

Vidya Balan on Tumhari Sulu: I could visualise the entire film during the narration

It’s a muggy evening but the wind at the rooftop of T Series’ office is a respite. The day is earmarked for Vidya Balan to finish her digital promotions of her upcoming film Tumhari Sulu. When I meet her at the venue, one corner of the round table has tiny, shredded pieces of paper. She is relatively at ease and not bothered about her disheveled hair, as there are no TV interviews to be entertained.

So has she ever listened to a night talk show on radio? “When I heard it for the first time I was completely taken aback. It seemed like a person sitting next to you is whispering in your ears. The content may not be sexual at all but the voice and the breathing makes it very sexual. Then there are also shows that are really naughty and make things that are not sexual in nature, sexual,” she says, adding, “I don’t think anyone would actually say that they listen to such shows.”

Vidya Balan in Tumhari Sulu/Image from @PeepingMoon

One person who was instrumental in Vidya getting the film was her brother-in-law, Kedar. It was on Kedar’s insistence that Vidya entertained a meeting with Suresh Triveni, director of Tumhari Sulu. “It was my brother-in-law, Kedar who in a causal conversation informed me about an ad film for his firm which was being directed by Suresh. He informed me about Suresh’s brilliance and added that he wanted to pitch an idea to me. I have full faith in Kedar’s creative instincts and it was also the first time that he was suggesting someone to me,” she reveals.

The first meeting, which Vidya had with Suresh, was a bit of a buzzkill as the script failed to evoke any interest in Vidya. He was advised to make changes. The next time Suresh turned up for the meeting, he was armed with one more script. Says Vidya, “The second one was about a homemaker who becomes a late night RJ. This eventually turned out to be Tumhari Sulu and his narration was a clincher as I saw the entire film in front of my eyes.”

For Vidya, a lot is at stake with Tumhari Sulu, as her current streak at the box office has been jittery, at best. The list of flops she has suffered after Kahaani is long. Bobby Jasoos, Kahaani 2, Ghanchakkar, Hamari Adhuri Kahani and Begum Jaan have slowly and surely dented the reputation of Vidya at the box office. So did her judgment go wrong somewhere? “I don’t judge my decisions. I did whatever seemed correct to me at that point of time. In hindsight, one may feel that I should have devoted more time thinking before signing the films. I can’t pin point the factors that force me to sign a film, it’s more to do with my state of mind at point of time. I have realised over time that it’s very difficult to point out the reason for the failure of a film,” she says.

She furthers, “Initially of course it bothered me. When Ghanchakkar flopped I thought that its fine and such things do happen but by the time I reached Hamari Adhuri Kahani, I remember being devastated. I could not figure out what was going wrong with my selection. But it also helped me detach from my film, as films are basically collaborative effort. There is only so much I can do and I can’t afford to get into every department.”

Vidya Balan in a still from Tumhari Sulu. YouTube

Vidya reveals that of all her flops it was the failure of Kahaani 2 that really made her sad.

Much has been said and written about the possibility of Vidya working in a film for husband Sidharth Roy Kapur’s banner. The Kahaani actress maintains that to keep a healthy marriage life she would prefer to avoid working with her husband. “If things were in my control, I would never work with him and I think it’s only for a healthier marriage. It was a decision we took immediately after marriage. We are more objective if we are not working together because in that case you have vested interests which might color your perception,” says Balan.

It’s also astonishing that despite being an bankable movie star, and having spent 12 years in the industry, an offer to work with the Khans still pours in. “I think people felt that I do only women centric films. I remember screen testing for a film with Aamir Khan, which was to be directed by Vishal Bhardwaj, and this was immediately after Parineeta. I didn’t get through the test only. I think I have no regret because my career has taken a different path.”

While the world is talking about Harvey Weinstein, Vidya too has her views. She believes that such people are there in every sector. “Women find it very difficult to talk about such things. Invariably the fingers get pointed at them. If people are talking about it even if it’s late in the day, it’s fantastic,” she says, adding, “Just think about the earnings of Hollywood actress, they earn in millions. They are all in powerful positions and even then it has taken so long for them to come out. Sexual harassment is very difficult to talk about as culturally there are lots of impediments.