Monthly Archives: March 2018

October trailer: Varun Dhawan, Banita Sandhu-starrer is an evocative, visually pleasing story of love

The trailer of Shoojit Sircar’s October with Varun Dhawan and Banita Sandhu in leading roles has been released. Dhawan and Sandhu play Dan and Shiuli respectively, two young hotel management trainees. The job always gets the better of Dhawan. Soon, their ordinary lives are shaken up after a traumatic event, never to be the same again.

october 825

Ever since it was announced, the film is being touted as a unique love story devoid of love at first sight and other run-of-the-mill tropes. The film has been promoted as a celebration of love, nature and the autumn season — a theme that is unmistakable in the October trailer, too.

After Sandhu ends up in the ICU after a life-altering incident, Dhawan devotes himself to her, her condition affecting him more than it probably should. Sandhu, who is making her acting debut with October, does not get a lot of dialogues in the trailer, but her expressions are enough to convey what her character is feeling. The cinematography shines in the 2-minute trailer, which mostly consists of dark tones and sombre lights that bring a chilly vibe.

Sircar, who has films like Piku, Vicky Donor and Madras Cafe to his credit, is known for his unique storytelling style. In October, too, his vision shines through and you can tell, that he is the force behind the perceptible change in Dhawan’s approach.

AR Rahman and Komail Shayan have combined their brilliance to dish out a pacifying score for this Rising Sun Films production. October is slated to release on 13 April, 2018.

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.

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.

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.