Category Archives: Uncategorized

In October, Varun Dhawan cements his credibility as a performer; it’s a role devoid of filmi

The compliment ‘career-best performance’ gets tossed around so much that it’s in danger of losing it’s meaning. But Varun Dhawan’s performance as the disinterested and surly understudy Danish ‘Dan’ Walia in Shoojit Sircar’s exquisite October is a career-defining work. Decades from now, when Varun’s movie career is being written about, this outing will definitely find a mention.

By now, Varun has already proved that he is a consummate Bollywood hero. There is no doubt that he can dance up a storm; take off his shirt and make girls swoon; beat up baddies, and indulge in tomfoolery to deliver laughs. Commercial successes like ABCD, Dhishoom, Judwaa 2 and Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania have meant that his six years in the business has been smooth sailing.

In a bid to expand his repertoire, he first dipped his toe into the off-center film pool with Sriram Raghavan’s twisted revenge thriller, Badlapur. Having only played versions of the easy-breezy ‘hero’ until this point, Varun made everyone sit up with his performance as Raghu, the everyman-turned-vigilante, opposite the always-fantastic Nawazuddin Siddiqui. As the character ages, the transformation is not merely physical. Varun imbued the older Raghu with melancholy and sadness without losing the rage in his eyes. Although Badlapur had a mixed critical reception due to a weak final act, it was universally regarded as a win for Varun.

Varun Dhawan/Image from Twitter.

If Badlapur was a step in the right direction, his latest release October cements his credibility as a performer. When we first meet Dan, he is a disinterested, faceless hotel employee changing sheets, polishing silver and killing mosquitoes. He lives life on autopilot. He hates what he does but does it nevertheless because he has no other choice. He is a confusing mix of insolence and earnestness. When Dan slips up, his boss tells him to be more like Shiuli, a fellow trainee who he barely knows. Unlike Dan, she is the perfect employee – hardworking and focused. A freak accident renders her comatose and inextricably links their futures.

This is a story of love and loss that takes it’s time unfolding. Working from a script by Juhi Chaturvedi, a longtime collaborator of Shoojit, October is the kind of film you won’t be able to stop thinking about for a long time. Big shout-out also to Shantanu Moitra’s unflashy score and Avik Mukhopadhayay’s evocative cinematography. But it’s a never-better Varun, in a role that’s completely stripped of all filmi affectations, who gives the film a center of gravity.

Hunched over and shuffling, Dan is the most ‘regular’ character the actor has played till date. He is so ordinary that he goes unnoticed as he waits tables, chops vegetables and replenishes toiletries. There is a stillness in how Varun plays Dan that makes his outing as Raghu in Badlapur seem flashy. His coming of age is just as undramatic. There is no explanation for why Dan is overwhelmed by Shiuli’s accident and why he can’t tear himself away from her.

Even as her family rallies around, trying to make sense of the tragedy, Dan is just always around. Somewhere in the background, he is always present. One of the unwritten rules of being a Bollywood hero is to never get lost in the background. That Varun not only picked a character so understated this early in his career, but also delivered in spades is a reason to celebrate.

Akshay Kumar’s Padman is the first Indian film to be screened at Oxford Union; Twinkle Khanna to address students

Mumbai: Writer-producer Twinkle Khanna has been invited to speak at The Oxford Union, the world’s most prestigious debating society.

The 43-year-old actor-turned-author will address the students of the Oxford University on Thursday, where she will also showcase her upcoming production, Padman.

Poster of Padman. Image via Twitter

Based on the life of social entrepreneur and activist Arunachalam Muruganantham, who revolutionised sanitary hygiene in rural India 20 years ago, the film stars Twinkle’s husband actor Akshay Kumar in the title role.

Through her address, Twinkle will give an insight into the story of the movie and how it would play an interesting role in tackling taboos and addressing stigma around menstrual hygiene

Padman will be the first Indian film to be screened at The Oxford Union.

Also featuring Radhika Apte and Sonam Kapoor, the film opens worldwide on 25 January.

Meena Kumari biopic: Not Vidya Balan or Madhuri Dixit, Sunny Leone may be cast as veteran actress

For a long time now, there have been rumours doing the rounds about an upcoming biopic based on Bollywood’s “tragedy queen” and veteran actress Meena Kumari.

First, it was reported that Vidya Balan might play the Pakeezah star in the film. Then there were speculations that Madhuri Dixit has been approached for the role. Now, according to a report by The Bombay Times, actress Sunny Leone might play the legendary actress in the biopic.

Meena Kumari (left); Sunny Leone (right). Images via Facebook

Director of the film, Karan Razdan — known for films like Diljale (1995) and Deewane (2000) — told Bombay Times that of all the actresses that he has approached, Leone was the most enthusiastic about doing the film.

“I think the only one who is courageous enough and said, ‘When can we start this film?’ has been Sunny Leone. I have narrated it to Madhuri and Vidya but it didn’t work out for one reason or the other. Sunny came along, she said she had heard about this film and wanted me to narrate it. I met her at her house, had a long narration. I don’t know… She is not the ideal choice, I would say. But she was the most enthusiastic about doing the role. I guess, she also saw this as her big chance,” says Razdan.

According to Razdan, when he had approached Balan for the role, she declined saying she wants to do a less-serious role. Balan’s latest release Tumhari Sulu has earned her numerous accolades along with commercial and critical acclaim.

Monsoon Shootout: Priyanka Chopra launches gritty trailer of Nawazuddin Siddiqui’s next

An axe-wielding murderer is on the run. On a rainy night, a police officer comes face-to-face with the suspect. What happens next? Will the police officer pull the trigger? That’s the choice viewers have to make in the trailer for Amit Kumar’s Monsoon Shootout, released on Monday.

The movie will hit the screens on December 15.

A poster for Monsoon Shootout. Image from Facebook/@MonsoonShootout

The trailer is already being tipped as India’s first interactive movie trailer. It gives the viewers a chance to decide whether the police man Adi (Vijay Varma), a young cop in training, should shoot the murder suspect Shiva (Nawazuddin Siddiqui), a dreaded and infamous mob enforcer. The stage is set for a moral dilemma and each choice to be made will come with a consequence.

Should the officer gun down a possibly innocent person? Or should he let go a murderer?

Actress Priyanka Chopra launched the interactive trailer via her twitter account. She wrote, “Shoot or not to shoot? YOU get to decide what happens next in the trailer for #MonsoonShootout what a cool idea! So glad to see filmmakers innovate & push boundaries of the filmmaking process.”

Qarib Qarib Singlle movie review: Parvathy, Irrfan click individually but not as a couple

A conservative young woman, widowed early in life and hanging on to the memory of her late husband, spends years allowing life to revolve around work and married friends who take her for granted. On a whim one day, she puts up her profile on a dating website. Jaya Shashidharan (played by Parvathy) is a successful insurance professional staying alone in her Mumbai flat while her younger brother — the only person she seems truly close to — studies abroad. She meets poet cum inventor Yogendra Kumar Dhirendranath Prajapati a.k.a. Yogi (Irrfan) via the site. On another whim, she decides to go on a cross-country trip with him to meet his ex-girlfriends and check if they still carry a torch for him as he claims they do.

(Possible spoilers ahead)

No one is more surprised by her uncharacteristic impetuousness than she herself. Dating is not her scene. It is clear that at some sub-conscious level she wants to break free of her own sobriety, but it is an old habit that is hard to shake off. Her confusion over her life-long sedateness can be the only explanation for why she takes off on a journey with a virtual stranger and takes other risks in this story that even the average adventurous Indian woman would not. It also explains why she spends so much of this expedition regretting being on it. Yogi is everything she is not — unguarded, sure of what he wants, speaking his mind, constantly laughing at his own poor jokes, so sociable that even a ride on the wrong train turns into a fun diversion. She has the appearance of knowing her mind, but does not. She says one thing, while her heart wants something else.

Poster for Qarib Qarib Singlle

Most of what I have told you is already contained in the trailer of Qarib Qarib Singlle (Almost Single). Despite the sense of humour in some of the couple’s initial interactions, and the undoubted charisma of the lead stars, the film does not have much more to offer beyond the pleasures of that trailer. There is a kernel of an idea in there that could have been taken somewhere, but it does not come together as a cohesive, credible whole.

Froth and frolic notwithstanding, writer-director Tanuja Chandra makes a point here, although it is unclear whether that was her intention. In one scene, Yogi half-mockingly expresses admiration for Jaya’s feminism. Yet, the song and dance that is made about her lack of clarity regarding what she wants from him, treads the well-worn path of suggesting that behind all their bluster, there is nothing more that female feminists want than the comfort of tradition and a man. This silly stereotypical belief is implied and stated routinely in real life by those whose superficial understanding is that men and relationships with men are, theoretically, anathema to women feminists.

It is possible that Chandra did not intend to insinuate any of this, but the clichéd characterisation of Jaya and Yogi, no different from a standard Mills & Boon romance, ends up doing precisely that — not spelt out in black and white, but by implication.

Besides, Qarib Qarib Singlle’s lead actors Parvathy and Irrfan do not click as a couple on screen. It does not help that this supposedly off-mainstream film from a seemingly thinking filmmaker displays the same ageist sexism that we see in hard-core commercial Hindi cinema, in which 50-something male stars routinely play younger men and star with women half their age. The Net tells me that Irrfan is 50 and that baby-faced, chubby-cheeked Parvathy is 29, but in the film, Yogi is 40 (really?) while Jaya is 35 — an adjustment that has obviously been made to justify the casting. I guess it would be too much to ask this gender-prejudiced industry to pick a 40 to 50-year-old woman for a 50-year-old man, but Qarib Qarib Singlle would have been another film, and very likely a far more interesting one, if Chandra had gone down that path.

After Queen, Kangana Ranaut and Rajkummar Rao may reunite for upcoming thriller

After the 2014 blockbuster hit Queen, Kangana Ranaut and Rajkummar Rao may be joining forces once again to star in an upcoming thriller together.

Rajkummar Rao-Kangana Ranaut on the Queen sets. Image from Twitter/@BollywoodQing.

“It’s also highly likely that Rajkummar Rao, who was Kangana’s co-star in Queen, will be sharing screen

space with her in this film too. Rajkummar has also been on a high with his last few films either doing well at the box office, or gaining critical acclaim,” said an unverified source, according to a Deccan Chronicle report.

Shailesh Singh, one of the co-producer’s of Ranaut’s 2016 release Simran and her 2011 release Tanu Weds Manu has reportedly invested in the actor once again — this time in the form of a thriller which will apparently be helmed by a director from the South film industry. Ranaut is currently shooting for Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi which is directed by Krish, and Singh is reportedly keen on getting another director from down south to helm the project.

The movie will reportedly go on floors by the second quarter of 2018.

Whereas 2017 saw one movie starring Ranaut in the titular role (Simran), it is Rajkummar Rao who has been setting the box-office ablaze with critically acclaimed performances in movies like Trapped, Behen Hogi Teri, Bareilly Ki Barfi and Newton.

Priyanka Chopra finds spot on Forbes list of 100 Most Powerful Women; ranks 97 globally

After having tasted immense success in Bollywood and then later in Hollywood — with her show Quantico and film projects like Baywatch — actress and former Miss World Priyanka Chopra has added another feather to her cap. In the recently-released list of 100 Most Powerful Women by Forbes magazine, Chopra is ranked 97th along with the likes of Beyonce Knowles (#50), Taylor Swift (#85), JK Rowling (#88) etc.

In the list of 15 Most Powerful Women in Media and Entertainment by Forbes, Chopra is placed at rank 15.

Many Indian women including Chanda Kochhar (who also happens to be the most powerful Indian woman on the list at #32), Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw (#71), Roshni Nadar Malhotra (#57) have been featured on the list.

Image courtesy: news18

Chopra’s bio on the Forbes website reads: “Chopra is arguably the most successful Bollywood actor to cross over to Hollywood. She began her acting career in 2003, and has since appeared in more than 40 Bollywood films, making her US big-screen debut in 2017’s Baywatch. As the star of ABC’s Quantico, she’s one of TV’s highest-earning actresses and the first Indian actor to lead a drama series on American television. As a producer, Chopra founded Mumbai-based Purple Pebble Pictures, which strives to promote regional filmmakers and up-and-coming Indian talent. Passionate about protecting children’s rights, she’s a global UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and United Nations Foundation Girl Up Champion, and her nonprofit The Priyanka Chopra Foundation for Health and Education provides schooling and medical care.”

Dabangg 3: Salman Khan starrer to kick off by middle of 2018, says Arbaaz Khan

Mumbai: National Award-winning filmmaker Arbaaz Khan, who produced the Salman Khan-starring, commercially successful Dabangg series, says that he has started scripting the new sequel of the franchise that will go on the floor in the middle of 2018.

“Yes, we have started scripting the film and I think we will start shooting Dabangg 3 by the middle of the next year,” the actor-filmmaker told the media at the trailer launch of his upcoming film Tera Intezaar.

As Sunny Leone, who is the co-star in the film, was also present, Arbaaz, asked if he is planning to cast her to do an item number like ‘Munni Badnaam’, said, “Yes, why not? And why would she be a Munni, we can cast her for something different, but for that, we have to finalize something.”

Salman Khan in Dabangg (left); Arbaaz Khan (right). Image courtesy: Facebook

Arbaaz has shared his screen space with Sunny for the first time Tera Intezaar and according to him, “one of the reasons I did the film, was to spend some time with Sunny. She is wonderful and we had a great time shooting in abroad”.

Asked about if he is planning to promote the film in Bigg Boss 11, which is hosted by his brother, Bollywood superstar Salman Khan, Arbaaz said, “Well, I think that is the producer to decide. If we have the opportunity, and the Colors channel allows us to do so, why not.”

He added, “Though I do not watch Bigg Boss every day but I like watching the show. Earlier, few seasons, I followed; I watched all episodes when Sunny (Leone) was in the show.”

Secret Superstar: Aamir Khan’s character in the film inspired by Anil Kapoor, Jeetendra

Mumbai: Bollywood superstar Aamir Khan’s quirky character Shakti Kumaarr from his forthcoming movie Secret Superstar has been inspired by Jeetendra and Anil Kapoor.

Anil Kapoor (left); Aamir Khan in Secret Superstar (centre); and Jeetendra. Image courtesy: Facebook

Aamir said in a statement: “One of the secrets from Secret Superstar is that in this film, I have used some lines that film actors usually use in their personal life and whenever I meet them. I tend to remember some lines from it, and I have used those lines while playing my character in the film.

“For example, when I met Jeetuji (Jeetendra) for the very first time, I found him as a very humorous person. He had come to visit Nasir (filmmaker Nasir Hussain) sahab once and I was sitting with them that time. I was an assistant to Nasir sahab then. Jeetuji said, ‘Nasir sahab, I have been offered a film which has a double role’. Jeetuji laughed and said I can’t do one role properly and I have been offered two roles.

“Further, he said that it’s perfectly fine, I’ll do it well and said ‘Buck up India’… The way he said ‘Buck Up India’, I found it so charming that time that it remained in my mind, and now also if we meet somewhere, he says, ‘Son, you have a release now… Buck Up India! It will do very good’. The way Jeetuji uses that phrase ‘Buck up India’ is something I like and I have used that in Secret Superstar.”

What about Anil?

“One thing about Anil Kapoor I have noticed is that whenever he is done talking on call, he doesn’t say bye once, he says bye about 15-20 times on call. So while speaking with him on call when I say, ‘Anil, see you bye’, he says ‘Bye, bye, bye, bye, bye’ in series. My character uses this trait also.”

Secret Superstar is a film which brings out the inner superstar of a teenage girl who is dreaming to become a singer and how she fulfils her dreams by keeping her identity hidden.