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Ali Fazal and Richa Chadha to play lead roles in upcoming rom-com, an indie project set in India and the US

Ali Fazal and Richa Chadha, who have been dating in real life, are all set to star opposite each other on the big screen in an upcoming project, according to a report by DNA.

The two actors have been roped in to play the lead roles in an upcoming romantic-comedy movie which will be directed by an LA-based filmmaker, according to the report in DNA. The discussions for Ali Fazal and Richa Chadha to star in the as-of-yet untitled project were going on for sometime, but the project was finalised last week when both the actors were holidaying in Switzerland.

Ali Fazal and Richa Chadha/Image from Twitter.

Ali Fazal and Richa Chadha have shared screen space before in Fukrey and Fukrey Returns, but this will be the first time that the two will be paired opposite each other. A source is quoted by DNA saying, “Richa and Ali met the filmmaker in Geneva last week and locked all the details. A romantic-dramedy, it’s an indie project set in India and the US. The shooting of the yet-to-be-titled film will start in September.”

The DNA report also mentions that the two actors started dating last year in September during the making of Fukrey Returns. Since then, the two have gone on several holidays together, and early this year Ali Fazal was accompanied by Richa Chadha to Venice for the world premiere of his Hollywood film Victoria & Abdul.

Amoli: Kamal Haasan, Vidya Balan, Rajkummar Rao lend voice to documentary on sexual exploitation

Actors Kamal Haasan, Vidya Balan, Rajkummar Rao, Puneeth Rajkumar and Jisshu Sengupta have lent their voice to Amoli: Priceless, a digital documentary on commercial sexual exploitation of children.

Produced by Culture Machine, the documentary on the deep-seated and well-organised criminal industry will release on Monday in seven languages on YouTube and Facebook. It spotlights different forms of exploitation and the constant need that feeds the demand for this business.

A promo for Amoli: Priceless. Image via Twitter

The film is narrated in four chapters — Mol (price), Maya (illusion), Manthan (internal conflict) and Mukti (liberation).

“Fundamentally, the objective is to dissuade men from buying sex from children,” Sameer Pitalwalla, CEO and Co-Founder, Culture Machine Media Pvt Ltd, said in a statement. “We believe that a combination of fear and stigma is what will deter men in the short-to-medium term. This can only materialise through unequivocal political commitment, proactive law enforcement and strict and swift justice. We want to magnify awareness about this issue through Amoli, and consequently, mobilise the general public to demand our police, judiciary and government to address the issue.”

The 30-minute film is directed by acclaimed documentary filmmakers and National Award winners Jasmine Kaur Roy and Avinash Roy, with music by Tajdar Junaid.

Though shot in Hindi, dubbed-versions of Amoli are available in Tamil, Telugu, Bengali, Marathi, Kannada and English. It has been strung together through stories of survivors who have been through the horrors of commercial sexual exploitation.

Alia Bhatt, Varun Dhawan, Sidharth Malhotra to reportedly make cameos in Student of the Year 2

Actors Sidharth Malhotra and Varun Dhawan, who made their film debuts in 2012’s Student Of The Year, will reportedly make cameo appearances in the sequel.

Filmfare reports that the two actors have confirmed their comeback but their roles have not been revealed yet.

Alia Bhatt, who also made her debut with Sidharth and Varun, hinted at a comeback in an earlier interview but has not confirmed if she will be joining the two actors. However, Mumbai Mirror reports that Karan Johar has invited all three actors to make cameos in a song sequence.

Varun Dhawan and Sidharth Malhotra in Student of the Year. Image via Twitter

Student Of The Year 2, the second installment of the franchise, stars Tiger Shroff and newcomers Ananya Pandey and Tara Sutaria.

Karan Johar is bankrolling the movie under his production banner Dharma Productions. With Student Of The Year, Karan gave Alia, Varun and Sidharth a great launchpad in Bollywood. They have since cemented their place in the film industry year after year with a slew of diverse projects.

Varun, who is the son of filmmaker David Dhawan, started his career as an assistant director to filmmaker Karan in My Name Is Khan. He has featured in films like Main Tera Hero, Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania, Badlapur, Dilwale, Dishoom, Badrinath Ki Dulhania and, more recently, October. Siddharth has starred in movies like Hasee Toh Phasee, Ek Villain, Kapoor & Sons, Ittefaq, and more recently, Aiyaary.

The film is being directed by Punit Malhotra, and its shooting is underway.

Student Of The Year 2 will hit screens on 23 November.

Sanjay Dutt biopic: Rajkumar Hirani says ‘I told Sanju we won’t glorify him and he was okay with it’

Rajkumar Hirani is gearing up for the release of one 2018’s most-anticipated films, the Dutt biopic, titled Sanju. As the film inches closer to its release, the excitement around it is steadily increasing, mainly because Sanjay Dutt has been the epitome of a ‘troubled star’.

In an interview with DNA, Hirani says that the anecdotes that Dutt had told him during an impromptu meeting stayed with him for a long time. He says that Sanjay’s life, which has been full of ups and terrifying lows, is like a “goldmine” for any filmmaker.

Ranbir Kapoor, Raju Hirani, Sonam Kapoor. Image from Twitter/@RajkumarHirani

After several meetings with Sanjay, Hirani decided that he was going to string the pieces of his life together — the death of his mother, rehab stint and his conviction in the 1993 bomb blasts case — and make a feature film. He maintains that he told Sanjay that he wouldn’t glorify him in the film and the actor was okay with it.

Although Hirani now confirms that Sanju is the title the makers are going with — there’s also a story to it. He tells the publication that the makers wanted to go with a neutral title. When they found out that Nargis (Sanjay’s mother) used to lovingly call him, ‘Sanju’, they went for it. “One of the titles was Aisa Hi Hoon. Anything you attach with a name in a biopic is like an adjective. Even if you say Aisa Hi Hoon or Sarphira, either you are glorifying him or attacking him. One thing all of us were clear about was that we wanted a neutral title. Dutt seemed a little harsh,” explains Hirani.

Although the film set was fiercely guarded, when Ranbir Kapoor’s photos from the sets of the film leaked online, everyone was taken aback. The young actor has no connections with Dutt, but he looked uncannily similar to the senior actor. Hirani says that although Ranbir was an unusual choice for the role, he was cast for his exceptional acting ability. Moreover, the film needed an actor who could seamlessly gel with the transformations in Sanjay’s life and for the makers, Ranbir fit the bill.

What’s also spectacular about Hirani’s journey is that most of his films have been blockbusters. His Munnabhai franchise cemented his foothold in the industry as a filmmaker who could churn out content-driven cinema while still being highly entertaining. However, for the filmmaker, just finishing the film and seeing it release was a high. He says he doesn’t take the title of ‘best writer’ seriously, an honour that has been associated with him informally for the longest time now. He works with his trusted writer Abhijat, who along with Boman Irani, attends his distress calls before every release. Although he is one of the most gifted filmmakers of his time, he claims he is a nervous mess before any release and people like Boman and Abhijat keep him sane during these times.

The filmmaker concludes by praising Sanjay for his courage and the will to talk about his life openly. He tells the publication that Sanjay has seen the teaser and was overwhelmed by it. He plans to watch the film only when it’s complete.

Sanju releases on 29 June, 2018.

John Abraham reportedly opts out of espionage spy-thriller Romeo Akbar Walter; will film be shelved indefinitely?

Romeo Akbar Walter has been facing troubles ever since it was first announced. Sushant Singh Rajput was supposed to play the lead in the spy-thriller movie, but later opted out citing prior commitments as the reason. It was later announced that John Abraham will be playing the lead in Romeo Akbar Walter; the actor himself made an official announcement on his official Twitter channel.

But now, according to a report in DNA, John Abraham has also pulled out of the project. DNA quoted a source as saying, “John allegedly felt RAW’s storyline is similar to that of Alia Bhatt’s Raazi. When he watched the trailer of Meghna Gulzar’s film, which released a few days ago, he was convinced about it. It’s just that RAW is from a man’s perspective.” Raazi is the tale of an Indian woman who is married off to a Pakistani boy who hails from a family of army-men. The woman’s father asks his daughter to be the “eyes and ears of India” in the neighboring country.

John Abraham/Image from Twitter.

A different source is quoted saying that John Abraham’s movie is also about an Indian spy who joins the Pakistani armed forces to relay information to the Research & Analysis Wing (RAW). Even though the team wanted to alter the script a bit, the actor wasn’t convinced as the main storyline would still be the same. Hence, the source adds, John politely asked the makers to move on.

DNA quotes another source who provides a different story. According to the source, the movie’s rough budget without publicity and promotion came up to Rs 40-45 crore which is a big figure to recover with John in the lead. With John signing the deal for Rs 11 crore as his remuneration, the makers scrapped the idea for now. If they plan to make RAW sometime in the future, they will do it with a bigger star who can ensure a good return.

Aishwarya Rai Bachchan speaks out about #MeToo; says it shouldn’t be restricted to one part of the world

Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, in an interview with The Sunday Telegraph, finally spoke about the #MeToo movement that swept across Hollywood last year.

According to a report by Zee News, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, who was recently in Sydney for work commitments, said, “A movement, such as the #MeToo movement, has brought out a lot of conversation and sharing. The good thing is that people are talking. I don’t think this (subject) needs to restrict itself to one part of the world. That is definitely positive, which has come about with this entire subject.”

Aishwarya Rai Bachchan/Image from Twitter.

Aishwarya Rai Bachchan added more by saying, “If a woman feels compromised and she feels the need to share an experience that has completely challenged her sense of being, it is amazing that she comes out, speaks forth about it, and takes the people to task. This idea does not limit itself to show business or the film industry. It is people discussing it from all walks of life.”

The #MeToo movement went viral last year after Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein’s sexual harassment scandal came out in the open. The hashtag was used to spread awareness about sexual harassment in the workplace.

Aishwarya Rai Bachchan will soon be seen in Fanney Khan, which also stars Anil Kapoor and Rajkummar Rao. The actress is also rumoured to be starring in Woh Kaun Thi remake opposite Shahid Kapoor.

Padmaavat crosses Rs 300 cr at box office; Ranveer Singh says artistes must stand by their vision

Ranveer Singh is overwhelmed that with Padmaavat, he has entered the club of actors whose movies have minted over Rs 300 crore at the box office. He says it’s a “historic” project that will “glow” in his career.

Ranveer Singh in a still from Padmaavat. Twitter@Film_Padmaavat

The actor essayed Alauddin Khilji in the Sanjay Leela Bhansali directorial, which also stars Deepika Padukone and Shahid Kapoor in pivotal roles.

Ranveer said in a statement: “Padmaavat is a historic film for our country. I’m overwhelmed and extremely happy that the film has received this much love from audiences not just in India, but also the world over.

“It is a film that is and will always be extremely close to my heart and with it becoming my first ever Rs 300 crore film, the memory of Padmaavat will be that much more special.”

He thanked Bhansali for his vision, and for giving him a character like Khilji that “will forever glow in my body of work”.

“This success is for all of us to cherish and remember that as artistes, we need to stand by our vision, our craft,” said Ranveer of the movie, which was released on 25 January after much controversy.

Just earlier this week, the movie crossed 50 days since hitting the screens, and it’s still counting at the box office.

Rizwan Siddiquee has been made scapegoat to protect Nawazuddin and his brother, claims lawyer

It was earlier reported that the Crime Branch of Thane police arrested Nawazuddin Siddiqui’s lawyer Rizwan Siddiquee for illegally obtaining call detail records (CDR) from private detectives.

After the arrest, Rizwan Siddiquee was produced in a Thane court on Saturday, 17 March. The lawyer is suspected of having illegally obtained Call Detail Records (CDR) of Nawazuddin Siddiqui’s wife through private detectives.

Now, according to a report in MiD DAY, there is a suspicion that he may have got CDRs of more people.

Nawazuddin Siddiqui/image from Twitter.

Rizwan Siddiquee was arrested on Friday (16 March) in the CDR racket case. The case was unearthed in January by the Thane crime branch. The police has seized the laptop and mobile phone belonging to Rizwan Siddiquee and has claimed that the lawyer had deleted all data from both devices.

Rizwan Siddiquee’s advocate, Rizwan Merchant, said that his client was illegally detained by the police.

“Rizwan Siddiquee has been made a scapegoat to protect Nawazuddin and his brother,” said Merchant. He also said that a big officer was trying to protect the actor and that the officer’s name would be revealed very soon.

In the meantime, the court has sent Rizwan Siddiqui to police custody till 23 March.

Diljit Dosanjh on picking projects in Hindi films: ‘Unlike in Punjab, I’m not in a position to choose roles in Bollywood’

A few years ago people would wonder whether a turbaned sikh guy could be a mainstream Bollywood hero but Diljit Dosanjh has put those doubts to rest. Not only is the singer-actor having back to back releases in Bollywood but is also being cast opposite A-list heroines. After making a promising debut and an earnest performance in Udta Punjab opposite Kareena Kapoor, he was seen with Anushka Sharma in Phillauri. In his upcoming release, Welcome To New York, he will be seen with Sonakshi Sinha and then with Taapsee Pannu in Soorma, a biopic on hockey player Sandeep Singh, which will hit the theatres in June. He is currently shooting with Kriti Sanon for Arjun Patiala.

Diljit Dosanjh. Image from Twitter/@diljitdosanjh

Naturally, Diljit’s confidence has taken a boost. In his initial days, he would have probably wondered in self doubt when asked if there was a limitation to the kind of roles offered to him, but today he confidently states in a mix of Hindi and Punjabi, “Isn’t there a turbanator in every field? Sikhs are there in Navy, Army, the police force…there is no profession left where there is no sikh. So how can I have any such limitations?”

He further adds, “In the beginning when I started with music in Punjab and was keen on acting as well, people would dismiss me saying it wasn’t possible as no sikh had ever been seen as a Punjabi film hero and that I should be restricted to music. My first Punjabi film didn’t but I slowly started delivering hits, some of which even became top grossers. (Diljit has been appreciated for his versatile performances in Punjabi films like the Jatt & Juliet series, Punjab 1984 and Ambarsariya). Later, people said that I won’t be successful in Bollywood because I wear a turban, but my turban helped me get films here.”

Not easily accessible and also considered media-shy, Firstpost tracks him down on the sets of the singing reality show, Rising Star, where the jovial and happy go lucky jatt is the centre of attention. He is in the midst of young singers and some big names from the music industry – Shankar Mahadevan and Monali Thakur. Sporting a shiny yellow jacket and black turban, Diljit seems to be enjoying every bit of it. “I am enjoying both, acting as well as singing, I just wanted to do some good work which I am doing, let’s see where my life takes me. I enjoy each day of my life. Sometimes I have my mood swings but I still try to maintain a balance,” says the singing star, who candidly talks about his upcoming stage-show reality film, Welcome To New York which is based on an award show. “There are so many actors in it, and I, too, have a small part. But if you ask me the experience of doing the film, I really didn’t understand anything. I don’t know how they shot the film in so much chaos. I have no idea. It was difficult to shoot but I kept taking orders from the director and went on doing what I was told,” he laughs.

Known for his rustic charm and simplicity, Diljit might have a lot in the pipeline, but he isn’t someone who would succumb to stereotypes. He wants to do roles that are integral to the story. “I won’t do as many films now. It is just that I had lesser commitments and hence I can be seen in so many films. Last year I refused three to four films. If I don’t like anything I say no to it. Even in Punjab, I did just one film a year and I will follow the same in Bollywood provided I am offered one. I am in no hurry, no greed, as I am getting more than what I am capable of. I would like to use the remaining time on my singing and churn out more Punjabi films for my fans. I also have fans in the US, UK, Canada and I would like to continue doing stage shows for them. Whatever I have to say from my heart, I do it through Punjabi music,” he says without displaying an ounce of stardom.

“I enjoy making music more because there are no limitations as compared to movies. You have a team with who you gel and make music. But the film is not under your control. You listen to the story and script but what finally comes on the canvas could be different, whereas in music you can reject your own composition if you don’t like it and try something different. But films are huge projects; a lot of money is invested and directors have their own point of view,” he adds.

Secondly, Diljit says, he finds more freedom in the choice of movies back home. “I am not in a position to choose roles right now in Bollywood but in Punjabi films I have that choice. Producers are friends there but in Bollywood whatever is being offered I am taking up. My upcoming Punjabi film, Rangroot is on World War I which was something I was passionate about,” he says.

Considering the fact that Diljit never played any sport earlier in his life, one would expect the Shaad Ali-directed Soorma to be one of his most challenging roles of that of a hockey champion. Diljit says jokingly, “When I was a kid, I didn’t get the opportunity to play much sports as my parents would tell me to study. And now when I am getting paid to play so why not? (laughs) But I didn’t face any difficulty while shooting for Soorma. I didn’t have to do much training in the sport, I just had to play the game. I am very happy that in the second year of my acting career in Bollywood I got to do a biopic. Actually, I don’t find my work difficult. Just that when I am acting, I try to feel for the character I’m portraying but every take of mine tends to be different. I don’t treat myself as an actor who has a process, I perform with instinct.”

And even as Bollywood is showering love on him, Diljit prefers to meet people only for work as he doesn’t like “bothering people unnecessarily”. “I don’t stay in touch with industry folks much. I am here only to work. I never got work because of networking or meeting producers in parties. I don’t believe in PR,” signs off the endearing star.

Padmaavat: Delhi High Court rejects plea alleging glorification of Sati in Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s film

The Delhi High Court today rejected a plea seeking penal action against the producers and director of Bollywood movie Padmaavat for alleged glorification of the practice of ‘sati (immolation)’. A bench of acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar dismissed the plea saying the petitioner should have approached the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) at an appropriate time.

Shahid Kapoor, Deepika Padukone and Ranveer Singh from Padmaavat poster. Facebook

“The film stands released without any complaints and it is already in the public domain. If the petitioner was having any complaint with regard to the issue raised in his writ petition, he should have made complaint before the CBFC at an appropriate time. We find no merit in the petition. The same is dismissed (sic).” the court said.

A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) by social activist Swami Agnivesh had sought deletion of the scenes that depict the practice of ‘sati‘. ‘Sati‘ is an obsolete funeral custom where a widow immolates herself on her husband’s pyre and the law prohibits it.

The court had earlier observed that according to one of the disclaimers in the film, it is a work of fiction and therefore, it does not show any intention or animus on the part of the producers or director, Sanjay Leela Bhansali, to propagate the practice.

The petition, filed through advocate Mehmood Pracha, had sought directions to the Delhi Police to lodge an FIR against Ajit Andhare, one of the producers, and Bhansali. Central government standing counsel Manish Mohan, who appeared for the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and the censor board, had opposed the plea, saying the movie was certified for public viewing after considering all the aspects.

The court had said that in the present day and age, it was “hesitant to accept” the petitioner’s claim that someone would follow such a practice just by seeing the movie. The high court on 25 January had rejected a Rajasthan-based group’s plea seeking quashing of the certification granted to the film, saying the Supreme Court had permitted its release.

The film, which hit the theatres on 25 January, is directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali and has Deepika Padukone, Ranveer Singh and Shahid Kapoor in the lead roles. It is based on the saga of a historic battle of 13th century between Maharaja Ratan Singh and his army of Mewar and Sultan Alauddin Khilji of Delhi.

The impending release of the movie had led to several incidents of vandalism, including an attack on a school bus in Gurugram and torching of a Haryana Roadways bus on 24 January. The set of the movie was vandalised twice — in Jaipur and Kolhapur, while its director Bhansali was roughed up by members of the Karni Sena last year. The apex court had paved the way for nationwide release of the movie by staying the ban on its screening in Gujarat and Rajasthan. It had also restrained other states from issuing any such notification or order banning the screening of the film.