Monthly Archives: October 2016

Karan Johar is a soft target: India is actually a sad tale of an unequal democracy

Filmmaker Karan Johar must be a very confused man these days.

In a country where he enjoys the same rights as others, how can outfits, political and otherwise, of small consequence hold his business interests to ransom with such ease? How on earth would he know that India’s relations with Pakistan would nosedive a year later and make decisions accordingly now?

He can make movies, provide employment to a lot of people, entertain a huge audience, make money and make richer everyone down the value chain, but how is he supposed to handle it when theatre owners decide not to screen his movie on a whim or under pressure?

He is a soft target. Like so many others of his ilk and the creative community. He is an influential, even powerful, person in the film industry. But it is soft power he wields, not the real power – of muscle and ability to carry out threats – that counts, and is grudgingly respected in the country.

He cannot vandalise theatres, unleash a few hundred men to tear down posters or stage rallies and issue warning to artistes. He can direct a movie sending a subtle message to a world getting paranoid over terror and Islamophobic, but he cannot terrorise people. He would like to mind his work.


While minding his work, he would expect a few constants. Respite from hassles not connected to his work is one of them. He would like his business interests protected too. If he is threatened in any way, he would expect the police to be of help. If there’s a dispute of some other kind he would like to knock the doors of the judiciary. These are the avenues open to him, like to any other Indian. If there’s no help from these two, he is helpless. He can only be at the mercy of extra-constitutional powers.

That’s what separates people like Karan Johar and say, someone like Raj Thackeray, chief of Maharashtra Navirman Sena, and makes him so unequal in the democracy ours. Leaders of outfits with local or limited interest command people who can carry out dire threats, make trade unions stop work and owners of theatres drop the idea of screening a movie.

They only need an issue with emotional content. It could be anything – patriotism, nationalism and any matter relating to religion, region and culture.

Thus we have organisations attacking pubs, killing rationalists, raiding libraries, threatening writers, harassing women in short skirts, destroying art work in exhibitions, branding people anti-national, snooping on food in hotels and what not. The list of targets can be unending.

Since intimidation is the accepted language of conversation among these people, polite dialogue or conversation is out of question. Backed as they are by political powers, the law looks the other way when they are in action. They virtually go scot-free every time, encouraged thus to carry out their next offensive without much worry.

Where does that leave Karan Johar or by extension us? Johar’s problem is he could be targeted at multiple points, right from the stage of shooting to where his movie would be screened. People at different points can be ‘managed’in different ways and he can hardly do anything about it.

Others are more fortunate that way. Still that does not take away the helplessness we are exposed to. What is more worrisome is earlier these attacks or threats used to be irregular; the frequency of the activities of such groups over the last couple of years has made it a trend. There’s more violence and tendency to coerce in the air.

Can we be assured of protection from these people? When the ruling establishment go indifferent and other political parties play the game of opportunism it is virtually impossible. It is one of the existential crises we face now. Wielders of rough, crude power are overwhelming those commanding soft power. It’s a mockery of the idea of all Indians being equal.

Befikre’s ‘Nashe Si Chad Gayi’ finally shows that reckless abandon the film has been boasting of

This year should be a testament to the fact that Arijit Singh can sing pretty much anything.

Whether it’s a love ballad from Fitoor, or a slow, sad song (‘Bolna’) from Kapoor & Sons, or songs from Ae Dil Hai Mushkil — the increasingly popular title track and ‘Channa Mereya’ — his variety is almost boast-worthy.

While the ADHM title track may be his best song with regard to singing prowess, there’s a certain power in Arijit’s voice that lends itself to songs with a pace — be it ‘Gerua’ or ‘Dilliwali Girlfriend’.


In Befikre’s new song ‘Nashe si Chad Gayi’ that power comes through. Which is why a song as breezy as this one finally showcases the abandon, the YOLO nature that the film has been bragging about for so long.

Sadly, it was missing in the trailer. However, we seem to be back with the programme with this smooth Arijit number.

In the song, we see Vani Kapoor and Ranveer Singh dancing. But this isn’t the regular dancing that Bollywood films are famous for. There’s a sense of Kygo-esque party music that this song gives out, which isn’t necessarily thumping beats that won’t let you listen to your own thoughts — but a calm, summer vibe.

There’s alcohol (of course), people dancing in abandon, beer being poured out of a fire extinguisher, soap bubbles, and Vani Kapoor definitely takes the lead on the dancing, with shimmies galore.

The choreography wants to make you start dancing, especially since you see how Ranveer is completely into Vani’s character, even when he’s doing the difficult steps. Here’s the chemistry that we’ve been looking for! This song could have easily been the trailer for Befikre.

At one point, Vani asks Ranveer’s character to have her back, as she does a half-cartwheel while he holds her by the waist. The sense you get from this song is that these two people just decided to let everything go and dance.

The lyrics of the song add to the laidback, YOLO vibe of the song — “Nashe si chad gayi oye, patang se lad gayi… lagti current jaise, nikla warrant jaise, abhi abhi utara net se torrent jaise” 

If ‘Nashe Si Chad Gayi‘ is an inkling of how the rest of the songs are going to be, we can’t wait for the rest of Befikre to unfold.

Gautam Gambhir calls for India-Pakistan ties to be frozen till terrorism ends

New Delhi: Indian cricketer Gautam Gambhir on Tuesday called for a complete freeze on ties with Pakistan till the time cross-border terrorism does not end, saying that “Indian lives are more important than sports”.

“I would not even think of playing cricket with Pakistan. Indian lives are more important than sports,” Gambhir told mediapersons at New Delhi.

File photo of Gautam Gambhir. AFP

Gambhir insisted that every Indian must put himself into the shoes of an army personnel before talking about keeping politics and sports separate.

“I absolutely endorse that we should not have any relation or ties with Pakistan until the time this cross border terrorism finishes. People need to put themselves in army’s shoes who have lost their kids, someone have lost their father, son.

“We can say this sitting in an AC room that cricket or bollywood should not be compared to politics as long as we don’t think ourselves as Indians, or think for our own countrymen. So I totally endorse that until the time we don’t secure our own Indians, our own countrymen, all other things can be kept aside,” the 35-year-old added.

Gambhir, who had recently made a comeback to the India Test team against New Zealand, is not the first Indian sportsperson to express his views on the issue of Pakistan.

India Test skipper Virat Kohli had condemned the Uri attack of September 18 on an army camp that claimed the lives of 19 Indian soldiers and former opener Virender Sehwag has also spoken out this on the social media.

Karan Johar on Ae Dil Hai Mushkil row: ‘Country comes first but ban is unfair to my crew’

Karan Johar has finally broken his silence on the Pakistani actors ban, with regard to Fawad Khan in his upcoming film Ae Dil Hai Mushkil. 

The director, in his defence that the film should be released, has claimed that from now on he will not cast Pakistani artistes.

“There’s been some talk about why I’ve been silent over the past few weeks. I need to say this. Nothing else matters to me but the country. The climate and circumstances were different when I shot Ae Dil Hai Mushkil, in September to December last year. There were efforts made by our government to make peace with our neighboring. I respected the sentiments then and I respect the sentiments of the country now,” he said.

karanJohar adds, “But it’s not fair to scrap the film now. I respect the country’s sentiment today. I condemn terror and have immense respect for the Army. But to ban the film is unfair to my crew.”

“I remained silent as I was hurt, and I had a deep sense of pain. I was hurt for being called anti-national. For me my country comes first. I have always felt the best way to spread patriotism is through love. And I try to do that with my cinema. I understand the current sentiment because I feel the same. With that same energy, I urge  you to understand that there are over 300 plus Indian people on my crew who have paid with blood, sweat and tears for my film. This is unfair to them. Of course, I condemn any form of terrorism, especially the kind the affects my people, my country. In the future, I will not cast Pakistani artistes,” he said.

Karan Johar’s video, in which he can be seen almost groveling, comes as a response to the veiled threats by MNS of vandalising the theatres that will screen Ae Dil Hai Mushkil. The Indian Motion Picture Producers Association (IMPPA) and the Cinema Owners and Exhibitors Association of India (COAEI) have also banned Pakistani artistes from appearing in Indian films, as a response to the Uri attacks that occured on 18 September.

Dear Zindagi Take 1: Alia Bhatt, SRK seen in pursuit of happiness; Ali Zafar missing from teaser

After teasing fans and social media patrons for days, Shah Rukh Khan posted a few videos on his Twitter timeline as an indication of what to expect from his upcoming film with Alia Bhatt, Gauri Shinde’s Dear Zindagi. 

After releasing a first look earlier on Wednesdayit was revealed that this film would not have an extended theatrical trailer, but three teasers, titled Take 1, Take 2 and Take 3.


SRK shared Take 1, and the one-odd minute teaser reveals much about the tone of the film. Much like Shinde’s last film English Vinglish, Dear Zindagi also deals with breaking free, but of a different kind. In this teaser, Alia Bhatt is seen spending time with Shah Rukh Khan, who is reported to be her therapist/life coach.

The two are in goa, when SRK tells her to play “kabbadi with the sea”. This is a cue to let go and just have a good time, and she is seen struggling with it, but slowly, starts to get with the programme. They’re also shown riding around Goa and generally chilling out. We’re guessing the reason the teasers are called Takes is because Bhatt plays a filmmaker in Dear Zindagi.

The fact that there’s a lot of brightness, vibrancy and happy, positive music in this teaser points to the fact that this is going to be an uplifting film. We wouldn’t expect any different from Gauri Shinde.

Meanwhile, Pakistani actor Ali Zafar, who is said to be playing a part in Dear Zindagi is missing from this trailer. It is yet to be confirmed whether or not his role will be edited out of the film. All eyes are on the release of Karan Johar’s Ae Dil Hai Mushkil at the moment, which stars Fawad Khan.

Pakistani actors shouldn’t be banned but our soldiers deserve much more attention

First, let’s put this out in very clear terms: Pakistani actors should not be banned from working in our film industry.  Yes, despite the harm the Pakistan State has done to our country over many decades. Yes, howsoever much you love your country, banning Pakistani actors is no solution. Yes, Salman Khan is right. It’s unnecessary and nonsensical.

And yet, what is also nonsensical is the amount of coverage and attention the issue is getting from our mainstream media. A day after India successfully and openly conducted a “surgical strike” against Pakistan by crossing the LoC, there are having prime time debates over Fawad Khan and Mahira Khan. Really?

Fawad Khan and Mahira Khan have borne the brunt of most of the protests against Pakistani artistes in India, perhaps because of their status as the most successful ones

Yes, it’s true that most Indians have been uneasy over the past few days because of the terror attacks and India’s earlier tepid response. Many had felt (until the strike) that we might be losing this strategic battle against our neighbour. Hence, it’s not surprising that many Indians feel that banning actors from Pakistan is a step in the right direction.

And to be fair, they are not wrong. Until recently, the Indian government had no answer to Pakistan’s constant and repetitive aggression. All they saw was dossiers being exchanged and phone calls being made to the United States. Many felt (and rightly so) that Pakistan needed to be paid back “in a language” it would understand.

And that happened. About forty-eight hours ago. Indians openly accepted that it carried out a strike against Pakistan. Against terror launch pads “in Pakistan”. Yes, these strikes may not be new but accepting it is. And that’s an incredibly courageous move by the Prime Minister.  It sends out a strong message not only to Pakistan but also acts, as a relief to the people that – yes their government will not take the killing of their citizens and soldiers lightly and can retaliate when it has to.

Look at what we are being made to watch on our news channels: Film critics and film associations fighting over Pakistani actors? Our freedom fighters would have been heartbroken had they seen the state of affairs today.

This is not only annoying and frustrating for the general audience but it is also disrespectful and insulting to the many who gave up their lives for the nation.

Our media should have been more sensitive and focused more on our soldiers, their sacrifices and the misery their families go through.

But this isn’t entirely unexpected. It has become a “new normal” of sorts where we are kept busy and distracted with irrelevant issues. The issue of Pakistani actors should probably be the least of our concerns right now but here we are debating and discussing them. People, there are more important problems in our country that need our attention.

This strange phenomenon isn’t just restricted to our borders. Consider the United States for instance. Recently, there were terror attacks in New York and New Jersey. Terrible and shocking news, right? But this is not what the American media was busy arguing about. It was about Donald Trump and how he mentioned the word “bombing” without first checking the facts. It seemed as if the media was more annoyed that Donald Trump got it right than the fact there were terror attacks on their soil. The main issue of the threat by radical Islam – well, who cares?

Or consider the recent burkini ban in France. Yes, no liberal country should prohibit it. Let people wear or do what they want to do. But it got so much attention that people (especially “liberals”) completely sidestepped the primary issue of immigration. Yes, there is no threat from a burkini but open borders do. And no one was willing to discuss that. And then they wonder and crib about the rise of extreme right-wing parties across Europe.

In essence, what it eventually does is that we ignore the real problems and get upset about the issues that we should least care about. And because we ignore the “problems” – in this case – how to deal with Pakistan – we also are unable to have a proper civil discussion over how we could find a solution and what the public opinion over this is.

But now that the media has made Fawad Khan and Mahira Khan household names across India, it will be great if the names of our soldiers who laid down their lives in Pathankot and Uri are discussed with same passion, intensity and patriotism.

Raees’ release could be postponed as anti-Pakistan sentiment simmers; Kaabil clash averted?

As the sentiment against Pakistani artistes brims over, reports have emerged that the release date for Excel Entertainment’s Shah Rukh Khan-starrer Raees might be pushed back further.

Raees was originally meant to release during Eid 2016.

Shah Rukh Khan in 'Raees'

However, Salman Khan’s Sultan too was slated to arrive in theatres on the same day, and rather than st up a big box office clash, Excel, SRK and director Rahul Dholakia decided to postpone their film’s release to January 2017.

There was just one hitch though — the date they wanted had already been taken by Rakesh Roshan and Hrithik Roshan’s Kaabil.

Industry analysts went into a tizzy wondering which of the two films would emerge the victor from this tussle.

However, it seems that Raees won’t be clashing with Kaabil after all, if the reports of it being postponed are indeed true.

Raees‘ leading lady, the Pakistani actress Mahira Khan, has come under attack from political parties like the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, which has said that artistes from across the border will not be allowed to live and work on Indian turf.

In this scenario — while the Raees release delay is still speculative and not confirmed — Excel and SRK may have decided that pushing their film until such time as bilateral tensions ease is the best possible policy.

This week, the MNS staged protests outside filmmaker Karan Johar’s office, demanding the ouster of Fawad Khan from his upcoming film Ae Dil Hai Mushkil. ADHM, which stars Ranbir Kapoor, Anushka Sharma and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and has a cameo by Fawad, is scheduled to release on 28 October.

On Friday, 30 September, the Indian Motion Pictures Producers’ Association announced a ban on all Pakistani artistes and technicians from working in India. However, they said ongoing projects were exempt from the ban, including ADHM and Raees.

Kangana Ranaut: Hrithik’s a 43-year-old man. Why does he need his father to rescue him?

Mumbai: There seems to be no end to the feud between Hrithik Roshan and Kangana Ranaut, with the National Award winning actress today asking why he needs his father to rescue him from controversies.

Kangana Ranaut. Image from IBN

Recently, Hrithik’s father and filmmaker Rakesh Roshan had said in an interview that his son chose to remain calm and dignified when someone was spreading lies about him (referring to the battle between Kangana and Hrithik).

He had even said that if Hrithik chose to come out with the truth, it would shock everyone.

Initially, when the journalist asked Kangana to comment, her sister Rangoli came to her rescue saying the question can be skipped, although Kangana chose to respond.

“Why can’t men stand up for themselves. He (Hrithik) is a 43-year-old man. I just can’t understand why his father has to come to rescue him from all these small controversies,” the Queen actress said.

Kangana was talking at the launch of Chetan Bhagat’s latest novel, One Indian Girl.

The controversy between the two actors had begun when Kangana mentioned ‘silly exes’ in an interview. Hrithik then shot off a legal notice to Kangana asking her to retract the statement. This had led to some mud-slinging between them.