Category Archives: Views on News

Fanney Khan: Aishwarya Rai Bachchan may pay tribute to Lata Mangeshkar in upcoming musical

Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, whose next film is Atul Manjrekar’s Fanney Khan, has been a huge admirer of legendary singer Lata Mangeshkar. Moreover, the interesting part is in Fanney Khan, she will not only be seen as a singer but will also reportedly pay tribute to Mangeshkar as she plays her fan in the upcoming movie.

Aishwarya Rai Bachchan. YouTube

Nothing has been officially revealed yet about Aishwarya’s role but Deccan Chronicle reports that she plays a popular singer in the film and a fan of Lata.

The same report states that co-producer Prernaa Arora is looking to acquire the rights for some of Lata Mangeshkar’s famous melodies. “Apart from a few original tracks, Aishwarya will also recreate a few of Lata’s numbers. That is not the film’s only connection with Lata. Anil Kapoor’s daughter, who plays an aspiring singer, is named Lata.

News Nation quotes Mangeshkar’s reaction to Aishwarya’s onscreen tribute, “It is good to hear that she is fond of my singing. I think I sang for her for the first time in Mohabbatein. The song ‘Humko Humhi Se Chura Lo‘ was a hit. It’s a beautiful melody and Aishwarya looked lovely lip-syncing it.”

Fanney Khan will be co-produced by Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, KriArj Entertainment and T-Series Films. Apart from Aishwarya, the musical comedy also stars Anil Kapoor, Rajkummar Rao and Divya Dutta. It is slated to release on Eid, 15 June, along with Remo D’Souza’s action thriller Race 3.

Akshat Verma on Kaalakaandi: ‘Saif Ali Khan’s performance is going to surprise everyone’

Six years after the black comedy Delhi Belly, writer Akshat Verma is back with his  directorial debut, Kaalakaandi: a black comedy-cum-thriller based on bizarre events that happen in one night.

Saif Ali Khan plays the main lead while Sobhita Dhulipala, Akshay Oberoi, Isha Talwar, Deepak Dobriyal, Vijay Raaz, Kunaal Roy Kapur, Shenaz Treasury, Amyra Dastur and Neil Bhoopalam form the supporting cast. With an ensemble and such an eclectic mix of cast in hand, Akshat says each day was exciting and unpredictable.

“All these actors have a different way of working and approaching their scenes and I needed to configure my direction style to what they would bring. Some actors get their takes early, whereas some actors warm up so I had to calibrate myself to working with whatever works best for me. But it was great fun, I was so lucky to have them,” says Akshat.

Saif Ali Khan in a still from Kaalakaandi. YouTube

If Delhi Belly was set in a grungy part of the capital, the Delhi-born director this time shifted his narrative to Mumbai for Kaalakaandi. Inspired from a real moment, the film was shot over a period of 42 days, or rather 42 nights, all over Mumbai – Bandra, Carter Road, Colaba, by the docks, Andheri — exploring different parts and different social stratas of the city.

“It is a Bombay story completely. It is about six people who are possibly having the worst night of their lives and whether they make it through or not,” reveals Akshat. “The challenge was in the writing and structuring to see how the three worlds would sit together; it was easier to shoot in Bombay at night. Just that we were shooting with rain and that complicates things. So we had rain machines all the time and actual rain to deal with.  It becomes very exhausting, it isn’t comfortable and warm.”

The writer-director roughly translates the title to mean when things go completely upside down, or disastrously wrong. Kaalakandi is a Marathi slang word meaning, “Sabkuch gadbad ho gaya” or a “big mess” that the characters find themselves in this story that takes place over the course of one night.

While Akshat is tight-lipped about the “wild” plot as the trailer suggests, he said, “It’s about who we really are as people when nobody’s looking. I wanted to explore people in situations that are not normal, situations that push people on top as that is when people really reveal themselves,” he explains, furthering, “The first notion of the story came from a little snippet in a newspaper in Los Angeles, which I can’t reveal because it is a part of the story. I then started working backwards constructing the story.”

A huge admirer of Saif’s work, Akshat says, he took “two years and five minutes” to get Saif to do the film.

“I wrote the script with Saif in mind but after I wrote it took me around two years to get to him. I was walking on Carter Road in the middle of the night and I wrote him a text introducing myself. I further wrote that I have finished writing a script and that I would love to meet him to take the material to the next level. I didn’t get any reply then but it was after two years I had texted him [again] and within five minutes of the meeting he said let’s do it,” says the director.

“Saif just loved the world, the story and the character. He felt that it pushed and challenged him. He is an incredible actor and performer. He is going to surprise people, it was so much fun working with him,” he added, not bothered about the actor not having a good run at the box office.

“I am willing to do tons of films with Saif. He’s a phenomenal actor. This is the whole thing with stardom is, it is out of your hands and this is why stars have the power they have because when something works they get the credit for it but when a film fails, multiple things fail — the writing, directing, budget. We put failure at the doorstep of the star. Saif’s enjoying his work, and the best phase of his career will come now,” says Akshat.

Kaalakaandi was supposed to release on September 8 but got delayed due to censorship issues, and it finally got the clearance after going through FCAT (Film Certification Appellate Tribunal). The Central Board Of Film Certification (CBFC) had reportedly ordered a staggering number of  73 cuts in the film. A CBFC source had then commented that the film was a dictionary of dirty abuses setting an all-new benchmark of expletives, making Delhi Belly look like a Disney film.

However, Akshat says that they had a pleasant experience while dealing with FCAT. “Pretty much all the cuts were taken out and we just had three word replacement. It’s encouraging to see that there is recourse,” says the director, further adding, “I feel censorship as a notion is inherently wrong. You can’t police your population, you can’t treat your citizens like your children. They should be free to make their choices in terms of what they want to read, write and watch. When you suppress something, people get angry, they burn theatres down… Same thing happened with Delhi Belly. How can the world turn upside down because of people swearing on screen?”

He continues, “Writing, storytelling cannot change the world. We are one of the youngest countries and if we teach the population to not question, not look at things in a new way, we will become country that is afraid of ideas and that’s like holding a whole generation and country back. Filmmakers will stop exploring ideas out of fear. (Commenting on the Padmavati issue) Next time somebody will hesitate to look at our history again.

Aiyaary actress Rakul Preet Singh feels she speaks better Telugu than Punjabi

Mumbai: Actress Rakul Preet Singh says she speaks Telugu better than her mother tongue Punjabi and she would like to speak her own Telugu lines in films.

Rakul Preet Singh. Facebook

“The one thing I’d really like to do in 2018 is to speak my own lines on Telugu. Do you know I’m so fluent in Telugu now, I speak the language better than I speak Punjabi. So far I’ve only dubbed my own lines for one Telugu film,” Rakul said.

But she doesn’t want to talk about Spyder, which was shot in Telugu and Tamil simultaneously.

“I don’t want to speak about Spyder. Not because I am embarrassed about its under-performance. But it’s just not an experience I enjoyed. I did it for the pleasure of working with AR Murugadoss Sir, and I’d do it again any time. But Sorry I really don’t want to say anything more about this,” she said.

Is Rakul disappointed by the male-dominated scripts in south Indian languages?

“Not the least. They aren’t all about the men. In fact, my other 2017 release Jaya Janaki Nayaka (Telugu film) featured me in a pivotal role,” she said.

Telugu cinema remains Rakul’s first love. “It’s where I’ve discovered my love for the camera. Trust me, I enjoy being in front of the camera more than anything else in the world. I can spend as much as 12 hours on the sets, even more. It’s the only passion that I have,” she said.

Rakul debuted in Bollywood with the 2014 film Yaariyan; she is all set to make her Bollywood comeback with Neeraj Pandey’s upcoming thriller Aiyaary that stars Manoj Bajpayee and Sidharth Malhotra in lead roles. She will be seen romantically paired opposite Malhotra in the film. Aiyaary releases on 26 January along with Akshay Kumar’s Padman.

Padmavati: Udaipur royal family expresses ‘reservation’ on being part of examining committee

Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s magnum opus Padmavati has been at the eye of controversial storm all throughout this year. Be it the director physical assault on the film’s set in Rajasthan, the whole Karni Sena outrage, death threats from various fringe groups, stalling of the film’s release, or the CBFC’s dissent over private screening — Padmavati has been there and seen that.

Deepika Padukone and Sanjay Leela Bhansali.

Now, in the recent course of events, it was decided that the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) will appoint an examining committee that will scrutinise the film’s factual content.

Meanwhile, the Udaipur royal family has expressed reservations on being part of the committee. In a letter, written to the CBFC Chief Prasoon Joshi, Vishvaraj Singh of Udaipur said:

I have very strong reservations about seeing the film as to my mind it will open a Pandora’s box of new and pointless discussions. Owing to the manner in which the film’s production has progressed from its very inception and seeing to how related matters have developed, I would insist on a formal clarification of the points raised by me before I make a decision regarding being on the Committee.”

Singh further continues,”I cannot help but observe that all this extra effort is going into presenting a product that has been discredited and one that from the very beginning only exemplifies an unprofessional and unethical style of functioning,” as reported by DNA.

Joshi had reportedly written to Singh extending an invite to come for a screening of the film as a member of the examining committee. It was reported that the film could be expected to release only after March, as per the CBFC protocol.

Padmavati stars Deepika Padukone, Ranveer Singh and Shahid Kapoor in leading roles and is based on the life and times of the 13th century fabled Rajput queen Padmini of Chittorgarh who chose self-immolation over falling prey to the clutches of foreign invader and ruler of the Delhi Sultanate, Alauddin Khilji.

Rani Mukerji says coming to theaters without bias will help people understand Hichki

Actor Rani Mukerji says a female actor’s calibre and box office worth should not be determined by her marital status.

Rani Mukerji in a still from Hichki. Image from Twitter/@aashi_kumari

Rani, 39, who gave critical and commercial success Mardaani post her marriage to filmmaker Aditya Chopra, is now gearing up for the release of her next Hichki, which marks her first after the birth of her daughter, Adira.

The actor believes, for a secure future of married female actors, mindset of the society needs to change.

“… Times are changing. In the West, there has never been any discrimination. They don’t have any hichki (hiccups). Yes, over here we do have that… and it’ll go away if we work on it. It is in everybody’s mindset,” Rani said.

“If you see an actor and go watch her film without tagging her as a ‘woman who is married or has a kid’, you will just see the character and the actress who is playing it. But if you’re going to judge the actor on the basis of what’s going on in her personal life, these things will keep coming up. You have to come to the theatre sans these (hiccups). You have to see the actor for what is her worth in the cinema hall,” she added.

Rani was speaking at the trailer launch of Hichki, directed by Siddharth P Malhotra. The Yash Raj Films project is scheduled to be released on 28 February.

Why I wasn’t into Anushka Sharma, Virat Kohli’s wedding: A deja vu of million Instagram shaadis

I wanted to be so enthusiastic about the Virushka wedding. It was everything I had ever dreamed of being excited about: an individually/separately talented, shockingly good-looking and successful celebrity couple, a big glitzy wedding, a hush-hush guest list and a shaadi dream-team creating the perfect wedding aesthetic.

So why was I just not that into it?

Maybe it’s because of all the deja vu. None of the news we have yet is giving us anything we haven’t seen before.

I feel like I’d already exhausted my reserves of happy discovery when Kimye did the original secret Italian wedding. Even the bits of elegant Tuscan-yellow stone we can see in the background of the few Virushka pictures we have just trigger memories of millions of Instagram pictures from all one hundred Kardashians at Kim and Kanye’s Italian wedding.

Thanks to Sabyasachi’s constant tweeting, we found out that the bride and groom were wearing Sabyasachi on all days to all functions, from Anushka’s jewellery to Virat’s signature khadi kurta. This naturally meant that they looked exactly like a page from any Sabyasachi collection catalogue ever published, with Anushka even opting for the brand’s signature “micro-dot bindi”. It’s the most familiar wedding aesthetic in the world, and it honestly felt too perfect to look at for long.

The lone video we have of the wedding ceremony itself, posted by Kohli, looks like it was lifted straight off the sets of Yeh Jawaani Hain Deewani (except for the glaring lack of Deepika Padukone anywhere), and I honestly thought for a second I could hear Kabira playing in the background (it was actually Jasleen Royal’s Din Shagna Da Chadeya). The visual was just so absurdly familiar, like the YJHD wedding and Virushka’s own Manyavar ad had a baby.

Even the news that they were selling their wedding photos for charity did nothing for me— didn’t Angelina Jolie do that with the pictures of her twins?

Or maybe it’s because their wedding just didn’t really turn into the kind of media spectacle we need, or even demand from celebrity weddings today. Sure, there’s a media circus reeling out in front of our eyes, but in controlling the narrative around their wedding, and giving us only a few first-hand glimpses into it, Virushka cannily starved the media of the usual juicy details it loves to make a spectacle of.

So for lack of other pictures, gossip and videos, other than what Virushka chooses to put out, we have boring explainers from India Today decoding who Maharaj Anant Baba is (Sharma’s family priest), accompanied by actual Google Earth snapshots of his headquarters, Anant Dham in Haridwar.

NDTV wanted you to know that the wedding reception card was as “dreamy” as the wedding, and basically wrote out most of the text from the pictured card in their report. News 18 dedicated an entire report to understanding the song we heard playing in the background in the video of Sharma making her “bride entry”. This evening, most news channels were reduced to showing which cricketer, Bollywood actors and celebrities had congratulated the couple and how, with India Today even delving into negative space, pointing out that Ranveer Singh had ostensibly not wished the couple despite being generally very active on Twitter. They also aired tweets from fans, in particular one wondering why the couple had been dubbed Virushka and not Kohma.

You can almost see how desperately the media’s scrambling for a story here, and it’s almost sad how far they have to stretch the little they know of the story.

I mean, where are the endless accounts of what Saif Ali Khan, Kareena Kapoor and Sonam Kapoor, Mira Rajput and Alia Bhatt wore, the scandal of Deepika-Ranveer not being invited and the imminent box-office/Koffee With Karan showdown we’re consequently bound to see? Where are the reports of spurned ex-lover item girls attempting suicide outside the wedding venue? And how can we wonder gravely if Salman Khan was invited if we already know that nobody from Bollywood was?

So, I don’t know what exactly it is about the Virushka wedding that stops me from getting into it. Have I seen it all on Instagram before, or am I just seeing too little of the good stuff on the news?

I think it’s because I’m the only one who appreciated Anushka Sharma’s lip-job. I thought it brought some interest to a much-too-perfectly-proportioned face. Maybe it’s the lack of a noticeable lip-job I’m feeling in the Virushka wedding right now. The photos are too perfect, the light too dreamy, the outfits too beautifully Sabyasachi. It all looks like a beautiful picture I’ve seen in a book before, and maybe I have, in a fashion magazine about a celebrity wedding somewhere.

Batti Gul Meter Chalu: Are Shahid Kapoor, Ileana D’Cruz teaming up for Shree Narayan Singh’s next?

After raking in moolah at the box-office with his film Toilet: Ek Prem Katha, director Shree Narayan Singh is all set to awaken the moral/social/civic conscience of his audience with the upcoming film Batti Gul Meter Chalu.

Themed around rising electricity charges and escalated billing in many parts of India, Batti Gul Meter Chalu stars Shahid Kapoor in the lead role; he plays the role of a lawyer in the film. There has been persistent speculation around the casting of the actress opposite Kapoor. But the Padmavati actor refuted it all, stating no actress had been roped in yet.

But, now, according to a report by Mumbai Mirror, Ileana D’Cruz is being considered for the role.

Shahid Kapoor and Ileana D'Cruz. Images via Facebook

Confirming the development (of approaching D’Cruz), one of the co-producers of the film, Prernaa Arora of KriArj Entertainment told Mirror, “We have only spoken to Ileana so far. It is a strong role of a lawyer with intense scenes and we are casting now.”

The film’s teaser was released during Diwali this year. Singh, in a statement, revealed why the festival of lights was chosen for the teaser launch. “Diwali makes it just the right occasion for us to shed light on a subject that needs to be discussed. We look forward to making a film that is both commercially entertaining and encourages a social conversation,” reports PTI.

The Mirror report also adds that the film will go on the floors on 19 January next year and will be extensively shot in places like Haridwar, Rishikesh, Tehri, Mussoorie and Nainital. Batti Gul Meter Chalu is slated to release on 31 August, 2018.

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: Parliamentary panel invites Sanjay Leela Bhansali to share his views on row

New Delhi: The parliamentary committee on IT has invited Padmavati director Sanjay Leela Bhansali to hear his views on the controversy over the film, panel chairman Anurag Thakur said today (28 November).

The panel has also called officials of the Information and Broadcasting ministry and Censor Board to discuss the film, which has been embroiled in a controversy over allegations that it distorts history.

Sanjay Leela Bhansali. Image from Twitter/@vmusicmum

“The panel has invited Bhansali to know his views on the controversy,” Thakur told PTI.

The meeting is scheduled to take place on 30 November. However, top officials said Bhansali is “shying away” from making an appearance and is yet to confirm.

The Sanjay Leela Bhansali film Padmavati, starring Deepika Padukone, Shahid Kapoor and Ranveer Singh, is based on Rajput queen, Padmini. Amid rumours that there was a romantic dream sequence between Padmini 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 Padmini even existed. Chief ministers of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh — all BJP ruled states — and Punjab, ruled by the Congress, had opposed the release of the movie. Following this severe opposition, the makers of the movie deferred its release date. The film was scheduled to release on 1 December, this year.

Padmavati row: Ae Dil Hai Mushkil to PK, six Bollywood films that courted controversy

The course of true never did run smooth, but that’s an adage that could easily be applied to a Bollywood film’s release as well. From offending sentiments to contentious references, many a Bollywood film has found itself the target of ire from a certain section of the populace. Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Padmavati is only the latest. The controversy was triggered when members of the Karni Sena, a Rajput interest group in Jaipur, vandalised the sets of Padmavati earlier this year. They accused the filmmaker of playing with history and distorting the image of the queen they revere. Since then, various other groups and even some political figures have joined the fray in attacking the film, demanding that Bhansali screen Padmavati for them before its theatrical release. Threats have also been issued against the film’s lead actress, Deepika Padukone. With just weeks to go for its scheduled release date of 1 December 2017, the stakes are high indeed, for Bhansali’s magnum opus.

Here are six other Bollywood films that had a rocky road to release in the recent past, amid widespread protests and opposition:

Bajirao Mastani

Bhansali’s last release — 2016’s Bajirao Mastani — found itself in hot water when the descendants of Peshwa Bajirao lead a strong protest against the so-called “fictional” portrayal of their ancestor, a Maratha warrior getting married to a Muslim princess (roles played by Ranveer Singh and Deepika Padukone, respectively).

As soon as the details of the movie began to appear in the press, descendants of Peshwa Bajirao and Kashibai (played by Priyanka Chopra in the film) and certain groups began to register angry protests. Just like with Padmavati, theyere were attempts to halt the film’s release throughout India, but after repeated assurances that Bajirao Mastani’s story was presented tastefully, the protesters withdrew.

Not just Padmavati, several other films have had a rocky road to release in the recent past

Goliyon ki Rasleela: Ram-Leela

Again it was Sanjay Leela Bhansali who had to confront the Rajput Samaj and ultimately, was forced to add a prefix to Ram-Leela’s title.

The Rajput Samaj of Ahmedabad was extremely unhappy with the film ahead of its release — the film’s original title (Ramleela, later changed to Ram-Leela) was the issue — and for a while it was uncertain as to whether the film would even be released. Petitions were filed against it in court, on the grounds that it harmed Hindu sentiments. Fortunately, once a Delhi court okayed the title change, the film’s path to the theatres became a little clearer.

Ae Dil Hai Mushkil

Among the most bitter stand-offs in Bollywood history between a film and a political party, Karan Johar’s Ae Dil Hai Mushkil nearly didn’t release in theatres. Johar’s film starred Ranbir Kapoor, Anushka Sharma, Aishwarya Rai and also Fawad Khan. The film was releasing close on the heels of the September 2016 Uri attack, when anti-Pakistan sentiment was high. Moreover, there had also been calls to ban Pakistani artistes from working in India. ADHM and Raees (which featured Mahira Khan) were caught in the crossfire. The Raj Thackeray-led Maharashtra Navnirman Sena was at the forefront of the protests against Johar and ADHM, a situation that was only defused after Johar released a video apologising, and also explaining that Fawad had been cast in his film much before the Uri attacks. The filmmaker also made a contribution to the Army fund. Finally, the film released across theatres without incident.

PK

Many groups were angry at Raju Hirani and his team for “making fun of Hinduism” with the Aamir Khan-starrer PK. In PK, Aamir played an alien on earth who goes around exposing the blind beliefs and superstitions practised in society. members of the VHP and Bajrang Dal burned the film’s posters, while the All India Muslim Board demanded that some sections of the film be deleted in the interests of communal harmony. On its release, PK went on to become the highest earning Indian film — and was only upstaged in 2017 by Baahubali 2: The Conclusion and Aamir’s Dangal.

My Name Is Khan

Shah Rukh Khan supported the presence of Pakistani cricketers in the IPL, and had to confront the wrath of the Shiv Sena and the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena. The political parties said they wouldn’t allow his film to release in theatres unless the superstar apologised for his comments. SRK, however, refused. However, he received a tremendous amount of support from his well-wishers and fans and the film did ultimately release, without any incident marring the same.

Jodha Akbar

When Ashutosh Gowariker’s film was to release, Rajput groups threatened to stall its release on the grounds that it mis-portrayed the relationship between Jodhabai and Emperor Akbar. They contended that Jodha was married to Salim, Akbar’s son, and that her parentage was also depicted incorrectly by the filmmaker.  The Karni Sena too joined in, saying they would not allow screenings of the Aishwarya Rai Bachchan-Hrithik Roshan starrer. Gowariker on his part claimed he had consulted historians before starting work on his film.