Category Archives: Entertainment

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Singer Sona Mohapatra forays into reality TV with Sa Re Ga Ma Pa, to judge show alongside Shekhar Ravjiani

Singer Sona Mohapatra, who recently released her fourth single ‘Ghane Badra’ under the project Lal Pari Mastani, has signed up as a judge for the forthcoming season of Sa Re Ga Ma Pa.

File image of Sona Mohapatra

Apart from Mohapatra, the judges’ panel will comprise of singer-composer Shekhar Ravjiani. The third judge is yet to be finalised as talks are still on with composer Amaal Mallik.

In a statement to Mumbai Mirror, Sona Mohapatra said that the she is proud to be a part of a show that germinated on Indian soil.“I am making my foray into TV as a judge and I am proud that in the era of ‘Make In India’, this pioneering show is an original and successful Indian concept. I hope to bring in a fresh perspective to India’s longest running and most credible music show, which boasts of such superstar discoveries as Shreya Ghoshal,” Sona told the publication.

Sona Mohapatra further stated that her perspective will be a new one since she will speak from not only the point of view of a female judge but also from that of a live stage performer.

While the singer has ventured into a number of musical genres from the semi-classical ‘Jiya Lage Na’ from Talaash to romantic ballads like ‘Ambarsariya’ from Fukrey, she revealed to Mumbai Mirror that she will be looking for versatility in the contestants, where their renditions bound to be a combination of soul, authenticity and well-honed craft.

Mulk: Anubhav Sinha is among the growing breed of filmmakers who do not want to whitewash reality

In the first twenty minutes of Mulk, director Anubhav Sinha takes a dig at the Swachh Bharat campaign and the government’s demonetisation move. Blink for even a second and chances are, you might just miss the director’s disenchantment with the Centre’s policies and schemes. He goes a step further and attacks the issue of islamophobia. Mulk also ventures into a territory which many filmmakers shudder to think about – the perils of neo-nationalism. In other words, the film does not hesitate to call a spade a spade and shreds to pieces the government’s many theories. It’s a film that breaks stereotypes and conventions which hitherto had not been seen in Bollywood. Judging by the past record of such films, it is astonishing to see that it did not have to face the ire of the censor board. Mulk is a fine example of a growing breed of filmmakers who are determined not to whitewash reality.

Taapsee Pannu in a still from Mulk. Screenshot from YouTube.

Fanney Khan, another recent release, has a song very much in tune with the current government’s slogan for the 2014 Lok Sabha election campaign. Again, despite the hue and cry, the song ‘Mere Achhe Din Kab Aayenge’ featured in the final cut of the film. Netflix’s Sacred Games, helmed by Vikramaditya Motwane and Anurag Kashyap created ripples amongst the cadres of a certain political party when it mentioned Bofors. Congress took objection to the Netflix series for allegedly showing former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi in poor light but Congress chief himself put a lid on the entire controversy when he came up with his own statement. Kashyap himself lauded Rahul Gandhi’s act and hailed his views. Despite the brouhaha, the objectionable scenes and the dialogue can still be seen on the streaming platform. The fact that here is a director who mentioned things about the Bofors scam and did not shy away from stating facts reflects subversive courage, one that is rare in the times of playing it safe territory.

Not so long ago, the superhit Tamil film Mersal criticised the government by raising questions on implementation of the GST. The government countered by declaring that the film portrayed ‘untruths’ about the central taxation scheme. Despite being cleared by the censor board, though the two and half minute sequence was later trimmed from the film, but not before it made everyone aware of the government’s attempt to thwart freedom of expression.

This change needs to be lauded and filmmakers should be given due credit for not kowtowing to the establishment. The change today is a far cry from the days when policies and the government itself were considered to be sacrosanct and their reflection on the screen required them to be in sync with the stated policies. If at all someone dared to swim against the tide, they were forcibly calmed down by just muttering the dreaded ‘censor’ word. One reason why filmmakers are embracing muted reality from the past and the current could be attributed to the influx of global content that an average viewer has now access to.

Showtime in the US can air an animated series called Our Cartoon President and The Looming Tower on Amazon can denounce the administrative decisions that led to the 9/11 attacks. No one blinks an eye and no furore is created. In other words, the mature level of content that the world is being exposed to is now seeping into India’s viewing appetites. The need to make Mulk arose from the fact that Anubhav was sick and tired hearing different interpretations of nationalism. “The definition of nationalism has become jingoistic, if you can shout louder then you are a nation lover. I wanted to change this notion.”

Last year, it was Madhur Bhandarkar’s Indu Sarkar that dug out an old chapter from Indian history – The Emergency, and did not hesitate in putting forth facts which were either omitted or conveniently altered to suit the vested interests of a certain group of people. Rajinikanth’s Kaala too touched upon a sensitive subject when it talked about caste politics. Udta Punjab had an ugly brush with the censor board but the fact that the film eventually saw the light of day in theatres despite revolving around the drug menace in Punjab – the very theme government and censor board objected to — can only be termed as a short-lived struggle by the makers who were associated with the film. Newton too took a dig at the way elections are conducted in remote areas. None of these films were stopped from getting screened in theatres.

Things which till now were swept under the carpet are now coming out in the open. The change is slow but it’s happening nonetheless. Apart from giving voice to filmmakers, social media too has made the world a smaller place. The very concept of living in isolation now exists no more. Filmmakers have now comprehended that stating facts is the way ahead and any attempt to dilute the truth will lead to the fear of getting exposed. A change is here and it should be commended and kudos to the authorities that have allowed this change to take place.

Ayushmann Khurrana’s wife Tahira Kashyap to debut as director with slice-of-life drama

Ayushmann Khurrana’s wife Tahira Kashyap will soon debut as a director with a slice-of-life drama set in Mumbai. Kashyap has previously helmed a short film Toffee, produced by Khurrana and casting director Mukesh Chhabra, according to Hindustan Times.

Ayushmann Khurrana with Tahira Kashyap. Twitter @Ayushmann_Team

The yet-to-be-titled film will be produced by T Series’ Bhushan Kumar and Ellipsis Entertainment’s Tanuj Garg and Atul Kasbekar. This project will mark the third collaboration between the production houses, after Suresh Triveni’s debut with Tumhari Sulu starring Vidya Balan and more recently, Soumik Sen’s second feature Cheat India with Emraan Hashmi in the lead.

A statement from the producers read: “Tahira has worn several hats…. from being the programming head of a radio station in the North to a theatre writer-director, author, teacher of mass communication and journalism, and short film-maker. Her incredible stories are rooted in realism and heart. We are delighted to back her debut journey and look forward to making many more movies with her.”

The casting for the upcoming film is ongoing and will be announced soon. The makers expect it to go into production in early 2019.

Meanwhile, Khurrana will be seen next as a visually impaired pianist in Sriram Raghavan’s (of Badlapur fame) neo-noir thriller Andhadhun. The film also stars Radhika Apte and Tabu in pivotal roles.

From Maachis to Saheb, Biwi Aur Gangster 3, charting Jimmy Sheirgill’s eventful cinematic journey

After watching Saheb, Biwi Aur Gangster 3, a friend remarked that she thought Jimmy Sheirgill, who plays the sahib Raja Aditya Pratap Singh, seemed to be “reverse ageing”. Costumed in sculpted bandhagalas and jodhpurs, glowering behind a handlebar mustache, the 47-year-old actor indeed made for a striking royal. It’s interesting that an actor who started of as a “chocolate boy hero” now makes an indelible impact whether as a Rajasthani royal or as a jilted lover in a pathani suit.

Often playing the jilted lover (he lost Preity Zinta to Arjun Rampal in Dil Hai Tumhara, Kangana Ranaut to Madhavan in Tanu Weds Manu and Happy ran away from Bagga in Haapy Bhag Jayegi), or the patriarchal, chauvinistic relative who stands in the way of love, or the role of the rough-and-tough goon of small-town India — characters that merit their own spin-off feature — Sheirgill has come a long way from the shiny, urban romantic hero image of his early films.

“I have been taking risks from very early in my career. I did a lot of romantic films, like Mohabbatein and Dil Vil Pyar Vyar, early on, but I wanted to go beyond the chocolate hero/lover boy image,” says Sheirgill. “I realized that if I stuck to that slot then my story would not go beyond four years. I had to pick up interesting films like Haasil and Munnnabhai. Although I was a little insecure to begin with, I am so glad I experimented,” says the actor.

Jimmy Sheirgill/Image from Twitter.

A growth study of his career would begin with his debut film Maachis (1996) followed by Mohabbatein, Mere Yaar Ki Shaadi Hai, Haasil, Munnabhai MBBS, Yahaan, A Wednesday, both parts of Tanu Weds Manu, Special 26, the Saheb, Biwi Aur Gangster trilogy and Mukkabaaz. Add a couple of Punjabi language films into the mix, such as Dharti and Daana Paani and you will agree that it’s not easy to place Sheirgill, who was born Jasjit Singh Gill, into a single box.

Equally, though, there are films that are almost forgotten — Kehta Hai Dil Baar Baar, Silsilay, Victoria No. 203, Fugly and Shorgul among others. The 47-year-old actor has consciously kept things varied to keep alive his own interest and ensure longevity. Twenty-two years later, in 2018 alone, he has a list of releases that traverse various genres.

This experimentation and hunger for challenging roles landed him a part in Anurag Kashyap’s Mukkabaaz in which he played the unscrupulous head of the state boxing federation. Sheirgill endured what Kashyap has described as “inconveniences” like piling on the kilos, ageing up, staying awake all night before the shoot to ensure he had bloodshot eyes, etc. to portray the menacing Bhagwandas Mishra effectively.

Priyanka Chopra, Farhan Akhtar to reportedly begin shoot for Shonali Bose’s The Sky Is Pink in August

After opting out of Salman Khan’s Bharat, Priyanka Chopra is reportedly set to begin shoot for Margarita With A Straw director Shonali Bose’s The Sky Is Pink. While her impending wedding to Nick Jonas seems like the reason for her exit from the Ali Abbas Zafar-directed film, she has not opted out of other commitments.

Priyanka Chopra at the OScars 2016. Image from Facebook/Fashion Designing India

A source close to the team of The Sky Is Pink told Deccan Chronicle, “Priyanka Chopra starts shooting for our film from August 8 onwards, in Mumbai. If she were planning to get married soon, she would have informed us by now. She was supposed to join Salman Khan’s Bharat shoot in the second week of August. The plan was to shoot for both films simultaneously.” Another source revealed that her reported wedding to Jonas is not the reason for quitting Bharat, the shoot for which is already underway.

The Sky Is Pink stars Farhan Akhtar and Dangal actress Zaira Wasim in leading roles. Although there is no official word of confirmation, reports in the media suggest that Chopra and Akhtar will play parents to Wasim, who will essay the role of Aisha Chaudhary, a motivational speaker born with immune deficiency disorder.

Kiara Advani likely to star opposite Sidharth Malhotra in Karan Johar-produced Vikram Batra biopic

Kiara Advani reportedly joins Sidharth Malhotra in the Karan Johar-produced biopic on Kargil war hero Vikram Batra.

Bollywood Hungama revealed that the actress, who was last seen in Karan’s segment of Netflix’s Lust Stories, has been roped in to play Sidharth’s love interest in the film which will be directed by Vishnu Varadhan.

Kiara Advani (L) and Sidharth Malhotra. Image via Twitter

Sumeet Vyas may star alongside Kangana Ranaut in Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari’s sports drama about kabaddi

After impressing critics with his subdued performance as Kareena Kapoor’s fiancee in Veere Di Wedding, Sumeet Vyas is already being considered for other significant projects. Bareilly Ki Barfi director Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari is reportedly keen to cast him in her upcoming film which stars Kangana Ranaut in the lead role.

Sumeet Vyas and Kangana Ranaut. Image from Twitter/@MovieTalkies

Mulk first look poster: Taapsee Pannu turns defence lawyer in Anubhav Sinha’s courtroom drama

The first look posters of Anubhav Sinha’s upcoming film Mulk are out and they mark Taapsee Pannu’s return to the courtroom after her 2016 film, Pink. The posters also introduce us to Murad Ali Mohammed (played by Rishi Kapoor) who is the accused. Pannu, an accomplished defence lawyer presents his case in the court.

Earlier reports have suggested that Kapoor’s character is wrongly accused of a terror act due to his religion and Taapsee, who happens to be from the same family, comes to his rescue. Prateik Babbar is also reported to be a part of the drama but has not made an appearance in the posters yet.

Sinha, who had last written the screenplay of Juhi Chawla and Madhuri Dixit-Nene-starrer Gulaab Gang, is marking his return to direction with Mulk. He had last helmed Shah Rukh Khan and Kareena Kapoor’s 2011 superhero film Ra.One.

Mulk will reportedly be set in Varanasi which happens to be the director’s hometown and also the first time he is exploring the city on camera. The film is slated for a 3 August release.

Sanju trailer: Spot Arshad Warsi’s cameo in a still from Sanjay Dutt-starrer Munna Bhai MBBS

The trailer of Rajkumar Hirani’s upcoming Sanju was released on 30 May. Soon, it went viral with more than 11 million views, making it the top trend on Google’s streaming platform YouTube.

Ranbir Kapoor, in the role of Sanjay Dutt, has stunned everyone — with his appearance, voice modulation and mannerisms that starkly resemble Dutt’s.

Sanju is one of the most awaited films of the year, owing to the fact that it revolves around one of the most controversial actors of Bollywood and his even more controversial life.

While director Rajkumar Hirani is known for his cinematic sensibilities, his attention to details is spot on. Apart from Ranbir, other actors in the film — Vicky Kaushal, Paresh Rawal, Manisha Koirala, Sonam Kapoor, Anushka Sharma — look equally promising.

In midst of all these stars and the gritty trailer, many seem to have missed one more cameo. At 2.24 min, in the trailer video, Ranbir’s Sanjay Dutt is seen along with actor Arshad Warsi in a still from the song ‘M Bole Toh’ from Hirani’s 2003 hit film Munna Bhai MBBS. Although on looking closely, it can be seen that Ranbir has been photoshopped in place of Sanjay Dutt in the song, the tiny clip sure brings back memories.

Still from Sanju. YouTube screengrab