Monthly Archives: February 2017

Running Shaadi quick review: Tapsee, Amit Sadh’s film falls prey to curse of the second half

Running Shaadi is one of those movies that you might want to give a try because of its actors.

The movie stars Tapsee Pannu and Amit Sadh who were last seen in Pink and Sultan respectively, and these two put on a great show. Ram (Amit Sadh) works in a textile shop in Punjab, whose owner is Nimmi’s (Tapsee Pannu) father. It’s a smooth playground till love hits; Ram and Nimmi fall in love while the latter is still in school. As she moves on to college and starts hanging with cooler friends who wears better clothes and speaks in English, love falls short. While Ram gets very annoyed with this, Nimmi tries to get the relationship back in track.

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One night when Ram has had enough, he calls his relatives back in Bihar and fixes his wedding with a stranger. That night is whena million dollar idea of making a website that would help lovers elope and get married legally strikes him. They name it runningshaadi.com and this is the first 30 minutes of the movie.

From this point, for a very long time, we only see montages of them helping 20-odd couples elope and get married. Beyond that, we eventually lead up to the main plot point in the film: how Raj and Nimmi get their love mojo back.

The performances in the movie are great. Tapsee Pannu and Amit Sadh are great to look at and have the north Indian twang bang on, which helps you understand the story better. Arsh Bajwa, who plays Ram’s side kick in the movie (a Sardar tech junkie named Cyber) does a great job, too.

Running Shaadi has an interesting plot; it’s new and fresh but not entertaining throughout. The movie is fun for the first 30 – 45 minutes when we just get to know the characters and understand what’s going on. Post that the movie falls flat. There is nothing more to it once they make the website.

The movie was earlier supposed to be called runningshaadi.com — which is also the name of the website, but due to legal reasons, they had to drop the .com from the name. Since this is was a last minute decision, the movie had many scenes where ‘.com’ was blurred and beeped, which makes it look shabby.

‘Dum Dum’ from Phillauri: Anushka looks great, but why isn’t Diljit Dosanjh singing for himself?

When the trailer for Anushka Sharma’s production Phillauri  released, apart from a strong buzz about the supernatural elements in the film, it also showcased Punjab in all its glory. Diljit Dosanjh plays Sharma’s long lost lover, and a singer who vows to prove himself before marrying Anushka’s character.

The first song from the film has now released, called ‘Dum Dum’ and it has a strong Punjab influence, replete with local stringed instruments, a vernacular flavour and thick vocals.

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It shows us how Dosanjh’s character uses his mellifluous voice to gain Anushka and the villagers’ attention, and we are also shown how the two fall in love.

The song is filled with slo-mo shots of the Punjab landscape, of both Anushka and Diljit’s characters and of the world they inhabit as the song slowly plays out.

However, while watching the video song, there was this nagging issue we had that refused to die down. Everybody knows Diljit Dosanjh is a singer, and popular one at that. He specialises in Punjabi music, and even started his career with it.

Why, then, was he not chosen to sing this song?

It is possible that as the male lead in the film, he may not have had time to record music as well, but this makes a larger case about authenticity in Hindi films. For a lot of us who have heard Dosanjh’s music, adding his voice to this number would have lent a far more personal touch.

Kangana Ranaut on the Hrithik Roshan controversy: Luckily, I was not answerable to anyone

While Rangoon hits theaters next week, the film’s lead actress Kangana Ranaut is on a promotion spree along with co-stars Shahid Kapoor and Saif Ali Khan. Expectedly, several of the statements she’s made while on her publicity rounds made headlines — be it on Hrithik Roshan, or her comments regarding nepotism while on Koffee With Karan.

Kangana Ranaut. File photo

Firstpost recently had a sit-down with Kangana for our latest episode of Gossip Guy, and boy did she have a lot to talk about with host Renil Abraham.

First off, Kangana laughed off the uproar over her nepotism remark on KWK, although she pointed out that what she had said was entirely true. “Of course I am going to say it to Karan (Johar)’s face, I believe that (it’s true),” Kangana told us, adding, “To his credit, even he (Karan) is laughing about it. We need to loosen up a bit and see the funnier side of things. We will be a great society if that happens.”

She was more serious on the subject of her fall-out with Hrithik Roshan, which dominated headlines in 2016. Kangana told us that not refraining from talking about it was a conscious decision she made. “If I kept it as a secret, it would have become bigger in everyone’s (minds),” she explained. “All my interviews in the past seven days have been about that. I have said whatever, in my capacity, I understand about the situation.

“The only thing you care about that point is your career. In a way, it directly affects your career,” Kangana said.

“This is something very personal, it is out in the open and it is completely damaging, it is ruining my hard work of 10 years. I am a great actress and I remain one… the media has been amazingly supportive, so have the people around,” she added.

As for whether or not she was concerned about being portrayed negatively, Kangana said “I was concerned, but at the same time I did not want to shut up. I did not want to take the easy way to get done with everything… Luckily I am not answerable to anyone — a husband or child, whom you care about. I wasn’t in any other relationship at that time. Your partner can put pressure on you to put an end (to such an issue). I was single and I did not have any emotional pressure, my parents were very supportive. I had to protect my career… did not know how to do it, so I just did what I did. Today, it seems like such a waste of time.”

Running Shaadi: Tapsee Pannu’s character runs like no one is watching

Running Shaadi begins with a teenage Nimmi (Taapsee Pannu) in school uniform and plaited hair in red ribbons, telling Bharose (Amit Sadh) that she needs to have an abortion. Bharose works at Nimmi’s father’s bridal clothes shop (and looks the same age throughout the movie even though the story skips many years). It’s a surprising moment, not just because it’s in a mainstream Bollywood film, but also because Nimmi is not apologetic or guilty.

She looks scared, as one might expect her to be, but the moment passes into the beginning of a kind of quiet half-love, with Bharose taking care of her and suitably lovey music in the background, as he cuts her an apple and makes her chai.

The idea behind Amit Roy’s Running Shaadi, a new “social service” website that helps couples run away and get married, sounds like a suitably complicated and fun place for a movie to begin. Nimmi, Bharose and his friend Cyberjeet (Arsh Bajwa) decide to start this website. Of course, one might also expect it to deal with at least some of the many different ways that families respond to couples who run away (other than with happy reconciliation), but Running Shaadi hardly ventures into this less safe ground.

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Instead, it keeps trying to be funny, showing a very clear divide between parents who hate the website and youngsters who love it. Even when this isn’t explicitly said, we see women looking sneakily and longingly at the website’s posters the first time they go up around Amritsar, where the movie is set. As the story progresses, lovers begin to state the most common reasons they want to run away — inter-caste marriage, inter-religion marriage, financial difficulties, family rivalry, and arranged marriage.

Running Shaadi’s trailer shows everyone, from a Muslim man wanting to run away with a Hindu woman, to a gay couple, to an old man, all asking for help to run away. Strangely and conspicuously though, the trailer never shows any women asking.

As much as the movie itself seems to go nowhere, I’m reminded every time Nimmi talks that the movie wouldn’t have managed to trundle as far as it does without its women. At the end of it, you continue to be surprised by that first abortion moment, just like you realise that the movie gives its women more space than the trailer suggests. Even though the trailer begins with Nimmi wearing the same wonderfully dismissive expression that she keeps for the most part of the movie — as though constantly cursing that nobody else is able to keep up with her — she never becomes like Geet from Jab We Met.

Where Geet, with her loud, I’ll-do-whatever-I-want attitude is only there for Aditya to have realisations about his life and then come and save her, Nimmi never really seems to stop being the colourful, crazy, demanding woman that she is. She’s described as Amritsar’s pataka queen – a woman riding a bike while the two men sit awkwardly behind her.

The truth is that Running Shaadi’s men are mostly forgettable. Bharose is a nice guy. He’s from Bihar and works at the bridal clothes shop and there’s nothing to really dislike him for, except moments when he’s so nice and predictable that he becomes easy to pay very little attention to. Cyberjeet is funny — the first time we see him, he’s doing an aarti to a photo of Mark Zuckerberg, and his red pagdi has a tiny Facebook like sign on it just above his forehead. Nimmi, on the other hand — except for in classist moments where she is calling Bharose gawar again and again — is not boring.

Here an amazing thing happens. I can’t remember the last time a Hindi movie devoted a scene to an abortion. (Did we see Meghana Mathur, played by Priyanka Chopra in Fashion, go through with the abortion?)

Before the abortion, we hear the doctor turn to Bharose (who has accompanied her) assuming he is the man Nimmi had sex with, and says, “What problem do you guys have with using a condom?” The rest of the abortion passes in song-mode, with Bharose looking into a room where Nimmi is sleeping and then helping her home.

Soon after the half-love moments of this song, the movie fast-forwards to Nimmi in college (she’s studying English honours). She gets a temporary butterfly tattoo on her shoulder, gets angry when Bharose keeps trying to call her while she is at a party, and is embarrassed by him – her boyfriend who hasn’t gone to school or college and doesn’t wear fancy clothes.

But Nimmi makes nice with Bharose again and asks him to help her run away from home, because her parents arrange her marriage when they hear about the abortion. She tells him there is an educated boy she loves. Bharose, heartbroken but sweet (and also engaged to a girl in Bihar), helps her run away only to find that she’s left a letter at home declaring her love for him. It’s a bit of a weird moment because even though we know Bharose loves her (and would never act on it), we’re not sure how to respond to Nimmi deciding for them both that they should run away without telling him what she’s doing.

When the movie shifts to Bihar — which means more stupid, classist jokes — it’s Bharose’s turn to escape his arranged marriage. Bharose’s fiancée is the only other woman in the movie (apart from Nimmi) whom we see making an effort to go after the love she wants, hiding from family who follows her around everywhere, wearing a burkha to a theatre and buying two tickets, one of which she leaves under a Thumbs Up bottle for the man she loves. (An Amitabh Bachchan movie is playing.)

If there’s anything to watch Running Shaadi for, it’s the realisation that nobody will ever be able to keep up with Nimmi. She wants everything. Even in the moment when she is telling Bharose what she has done, she isn’t apologetic in the least — the only time we hear her say sorry is when she tells him it was wrong of her to be embarrassed by him in college.

The apology never comes twice. Unlike Shyra in Befikre, who predictably begins to look back on the days when she slept with many men in Paris with guilt, Nimmi never shows any signs of guilt — about being with men, running away from home, or being rude to Bharose when she goes to college. She knows what she wants and goes at it with such determination that you’re not in the least worried that she won’t get it, in the way that we are always feeling fed up on behalf of Bollywood female leads. (Isn’t it depressing that the only thing the female lead is guaranteed to get is the guy, and it’s not clear that she – including Nimmi – wants him or needs him?)

Running Shaadi isn’t great. But considering how much care seems to have gone into writing Nimmi’s character, the movie might have been much better if it let its women chase after and demand love, rather than showing just men asking how to run away. The movie ends with Bharose and Nimmi going back to her house to reconcile with her parents.

Her father is cleaning his gun, and the moment they enter, there is a crashing of glass because Nimmi’s mother drops the tray she’s holding when she sees them. This time, too, Bharose and Nimmi run. But while Bharose looks scared, Nimmi looks extremely happy to be running again and you are left feeling like nobody has caught up with her yet, and will never be able to.

It’s not just Akshay Kumar, but the female characters in the satirical dark comedy drama, Jolly LLB 2, were also applauded.

It’s not just Akshay Kumar, but the female characters in the satirical dark comedy drama, Jolly LLB 2, were also applauded.

One such character was the wonderfully-nuanced cameo by SayaniGupta, who played Hina Siddiqui, a young Muslim woman driven to despair.  It’s a small but pivotal and deeply impactful role, so much so that Sayani was lauded for her performance by some of the veterans from the industry. Twitterati in large numbers also poured their love for her.

Gupta has so far been doing a balancing act between commercial and art cinema. She has received critical acclaim for her offbeat and distinctive roles in films like her debut Margarita With A Straw (played the role of Kalki’s love interest)and most recently Fan (as Shah Rukh Khan’s secretary), however, Sayani doesn’t take compliments or criticism seriously.

“I have never sat down to ponder over what others have to say because ultimately you know what you have done. Piyush Mishra (theatre and film actor, NSD alumni) called me few days back when I was shooting for Jagga Jasoos, and said while referring to Jolly LLB 2, ‘I didn’t know you acted so well.’  Lot of people are complimenting me on social media as well. Somebody told me that they went to watch the film thrice because of me. There are lot of people who said I made them feel for the part and I made them cry,” says Sayani.

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She continues, “My performance really moved my mother, and she is far too detached about the industry and not at all excited about the film world or what I am doing. She is not in favour of me acting and it was quite a struggle to convince her when I went to FTII (Film and Television Institute of India). Little by little, she is coming to terms with it but she would have rather seen me as an IAS officer or in a regular job.”

“We are from middle class family and they didn’t want their only daughter to get into films. Obviously there are certain perceptions about the film industry. My close friends never say nice things, they are always critiquing my work, but finally they felt that I was brilliant in Jolly LLB 2.”

Strangely enough, Sayani has been getting offers for horror movies for last few years and she, too, fails to understand the reason for it. “Maybe they think I am a Bengali, I have big eyes…” she laughs.

While Sayani so far has rejected two offers post Jolly LLB 2 (as  she is “choosy”, “instinctive”, “and not ready for it”), she is certainly excited about her first international project, The Hungry, which is an Indo-British production starring Naseeruddin Shah and Tisca Chopra. The film, for which the actors were very selectively chosen, is directed by debutante filmmaker Bornila Chatterjee, who is an alumnus from New York’s Tisch School of the Arts. The Hungry is an adaptation of William Shakespeare tragedy Titus Androcinus, which is believed to have been written between 1588 and 1593.

“This year marks the 400th death anniversary of Shakespeare. His stories could seem a tad hyper-real for this era, but this film is a realistic take. The script won at a collaborative cine-lab,” says Sayani, further adding, “The film has a bunch of deadly actors. We shot for it in Delhi and Agra. The ambience on set was stimulating and since we all got along so well, it turned out to be a great shoot.”

Recently, Sayani earned an honourable mention for the Best Actress award for her short film, Leeches, at the Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles  (IFFLA). In just two years of her career, she’s also bagged one of the lead roles opposite Naseeruddin Shah with The Hungry. The actress considers it her privilege to act alongside ‘Naseer’, who was her teacher at the FTII.

“Naseer was very excited about his role after decades. He plays my father. He has been my teacher and lot of my understanding about acting and the craft is because of him. It was almost like reassurance of sorts when he would come to take our class. I adore him as a human being. He is fun to be around. He has always taught us how acting is all about reacting. He is a keen listener, which adds to the performance,” she says, adding:

“There are two of the coolest men I have worked with – Shah Rukh Khan and Naseeruddin Shah. They are sensitive, they are aware, they don’t take themselves too seriously. They are normal dudes.”

So did Sayani take any advice from the two “coolest” men?

“Some of the things Naseer told me is: ‘Learn your lines till you bump into a furniture. Know your lines backwards. Study the script well. Be relaxed and don’t take things too seriously. Make it fun and light.’ On the other hand, there’s much to learn just by the way Shah Rukh carries himself. He is the most technically sound actor, I feel. His understanding, the cleanliness with which he does everything, his craft is solid. He doesn’t show it. He is persistently hardworking and also the humility. He doesn’t take his stardom seriously,” she reveals.

Two of Sayani’s “friends” from the industry are the erstwhile directors – Rajkumar Hirani and Vishal Bhardwaj. She may not have offers from them yet but she certainly takes their advice. “I don’t talk work with them. Hirani often tells me that I should give people time after they have seen my film. I did audition for a part in Rangoon but Vishal told me that it won’t be good enough for me. I would never ask them to cast me because that could hamper our relationship. Whenever they want to cast me, they will.”

Sayani is currently shooting for Ranbir Kapoor-Katrina Kaif- starrer Jagga Jasoos which has been in the making for a long time. “When I signed the film I was playing the only narrator in the film. I had a separate track of my own. But since there is no script — Dada (Director Anurag Basu) doesn’t work with scripts, he writes as he goes along — my role has changed. I will know what my part is only after I see the film. Also, it is a very difficult film when it comes to format. It is musical, it’s a children’s film, and it is not a normal narrative. I play a 14-year-old girl and that is all I know (laughs),” she says.

Anushka Sharma’s next production Kaneda confirms Arjun Kapoor in the lead

The first thing to come to your mind when you think of Arjun Kapoor and Anushka Sharma pairing up for a film is that finally we have a pairing of equals (read: the Khans’ principle of romancing actresses half their age is so passé).

 

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And so it’s confirmed. Anushka Sharma will reportedly be seen romancing Ki & Ka actor Arjun Kapoor in her upcoming film Kaneda. It will be helmed by Navdeep Singh, who last directed the sleeper slasher hit NH 10. DNA reports that it will be a dark, gritty thriller and after NH10 we are pretty sure it will be dark.

There were several rumours that Arjun Kapoor had stepped down from the film, but it has no been confirmed that he will be a part of it.

Kaneda will be Anushka’s third production after NH 10 and Phillauri. The 28-year-old actress has finished the last schedule of Phillauri, where she will be seen sharing space with Diljit Dosanjh and Life of Pi actor Suraj Sharma. The trailer is said to be released next week sometime.

Arjun Kapoor has two films — Half Girlfriend with Shraddha Kapoor and Mubarakan co-starring uncle Anil Kapoor.

Anushka’s last film was Karan Johar’s Ae Dil Hai Mushkil where she played a girl from Lucknow, Alizeh. She is currently also working on Imtiaz Ali’s next with Shah Rukh Khan, tentatively titled Rehnuma.

Dangal box office collections cross Rs 385 crore: Aamir Khan plans success party

Mumbai: Dangal producers Aamir Khan and Siddharth Roy Kapur will host a grand party here on Saturday to celebrate the success of the movie, which has become the highest grossing Bollywood entertainer.

In 'Dangal', Aamir Khan portrayed wrestler Mahavir Singh Phogat

The film has recently surpassed collections of Rs 385 crore at the Indian box office. For Aamir, it almost makes for twin celebrations as now he has two films — PK and Dangal — which have crossed the Rs 350 crore mark.

The makers are ecstatic with the reactions and positive response to the film, which is in demand even in its sixth week.

Aamir, who usually shies away from parties, is organising the celebration for Dangal after being urged by his friends from the Hindi film industry. He has invited the who’s who of the industry for the party at Taj Lands End, said a source in the know of developments.

Directed by Nitesh Tiwari, Dangal is an inspirational story of an Indian wrestler Mahavir Phogat, who against all odds, manages to train his daughters Geeta and Babita to become world class wrestlers.

The sensitive portrayal of the father-daughter relationship moved the audience, who also appreciated performances by Aamir and his on screen daughters Fatima Sana Shaikh and Sanya Malhotra.

Mahira Khan on working in Raees: ‘I used to wish I wasn’t such a big Shah Rukh Khan fan

Mumbai: Mahira Khana’s Bollywood debut film, Raees, which has not yet released in Pakistan, is being eagerly awaited by film buffs there, the actress said at a press conference.

Along with Shah Rukh Khan, Mahira the film’s leading lady, who couldn’t promote the film due to the ban imposed on Pakistani artists in India, joined in via video call on Friday .

Mahira Khan with Shah Rukh Khan in 'Raees'

The actress said: “Raees is releasing soon in Pakistan and believe me, everybody is waiting for the film just like people had waited all over the world and I believe that it is going to do amazing business here.”

The Humsafar actress shared how her family reacted to the film. “The big fear was people will come to watch the movie and hoot for Shah Rukh, not for me. When my family watched the movie, they were also screaming for him.”

“But the kind of response I received has been completely fantastic and I am very grateful,” she added.

Sharing the experience of working with Shah Rukh, Mahira, 32, said, “I was nervous as hell. Sometimes I used to wish I wasn’t a big Shah Rukh fan. It was scary but it got better, especially after we shot ‘Zaalima‘. Working with him is a dream come true. Nothing short of that.”

The actress who was seen grooving in the songs “Udi Udi Jaye” and “Zaalima” in the film, stated, “I’ve to rehearse a lot for the songs. The choreographers used to give me examples of the other great Bollywood actresses.”

Post release of the film, the Raees team is soon going to release another song of the movie which was edited to make short the length of the running time.

Kung Fu Yoga: Why Indian film industry can’t forget Jackie Chan-starrer in a hurry

Early reports indicate Kung Fu Yoga is not doing well commercially, in spite of Jackie Chan’s popularity. A newspaper article states that just 14 viewers watched the film on its release day (3 February) in a Mumbai multiplex. According to a film industry representative, it is expected to do better in south India than the rest of the country. However, its overall performance is unlikely to be impressive. The impact of Kung Fu Yoga on India’s film trade is going to be limited. At worst, the importer and his distributors stand to lose money. Small change, for an industry that routinely fails to recover production costs from the box office. Nevertheless, Kung Fu Yoga is not a film which the Indian film industry can afford to forget in a hurry. Because it was a part of an ambitious — and potentially game changing — plan by the Chinese and Indian governments.

Jackie Chan and Sonu Sood in 'Kung Fu Yoga'

The film has been panned by Indian critics too. Kung Fu Yoga’s failure on critical and commercial fronts in India is a pointer to a larger problem that Indian and Chinese film industries face all the time. Ironically, this film was meant to address the very problem that it now stands as the latest example of. A majority of Indian and Chinese films earn their revenues from viewers who are of Indian or Chinese origin, as the case may be. Both industries struggle to realise value from markets beyond the overseas markets where there is a significant presence of expatriates. Of course, we need to expand our understanding of the expat to include the South Asian diaspora and “Three Chinas” (Mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong) plus Singapore, with reference to Indian and Chinese cinemas respectively.

Kung Fu Yoga’s poor showing in India is not for the want for effort. Apparently, Aamir Khan and Katrina Kaif were approached, but were unavailable. As a result, the final lineup of Indian actors, which includes Sonu Sood, Disha Patani and Amyra Dastur, is not exactly stellar. Undaunted, Jackie Chan charmed his Indian fans and local media representatives alike during his much publicised promotional tour in the run up to the film’s release. I do not wish to go into why it didn’t work — several reviewers have done that already. Instead, I would like to draw attention to two points. First, the film worked for Chinese audiences and critics alike. Second, this is a failed Indo-Chinese co-production.

Kung Fu Yoga earned US $ 138.8 million (around Rs 940 crore) at the box office in China alone during the first week of its release. That is double the estimated cost of the film. Notably, the film’s takings are already way higher than the worldwide collections of India’s most successful film, Dangal. More importantly, it reminds us of the size of the Chinese market and the drawing power of Jackie Chan.

Released during the Chinese New Year (CNY) weekend, which usually witnesses the highest footfalls in theatres during the entire year, Kung Fu Yoga emerged as the second highest grosser of the season, after Journey to the West. The success of this year’s CNY releases is said to have cheered up the Chinese film industry, which had a dull year in 2016. Incidentally, Journey to the West is directed by Tsui Hark and produced by Stephen Chow (of Kung Fu Hustle fame), both of whom are Hong Kong industry stalwarts.

China’s quota system ensures that access of foreign companies to its enormous film market is severely restricted. At present, only two Indian films can be released in China annually, according to the website China Film Insider. This number is unlikely to increase in a hurry. In 2016 the quota for foreign films, a bulk of which are Hollywood productions, stood at 34. The only other way Indian production companies can enter this market is by making co-production deals with Chinese companies. Everyone in the film business knows this but, as always, the devil is in the detail: whom to work with, with what stories, and so on.