Tag Archives: film

Swara Bhasker may play Sanjay Dutt’s step daughter in Hindi remake of Telugu film Prasthanam

Bollywood actress Swara Bhasker is currently busy promoting the upcoming film Veere Di Wedding, where she shares screen space with Kareena Kapoor Khan, Sonam Kapoor Ahuja and Shikha Talsania. The film is produced by Rhea Kapoor and Ekta Kapoor.

It is reported that after Veere Di Wedding, she will be seen in the Hindi remake of the 2010 Telugu thriller Prasthanam. According to a report by Asian Age, the actress will be seen essaying the role of Sanjay Dutt’s stepdaughter in the film.

Swara Bhasker and Sanjay Dutt. Facebook

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.

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.

Not Padmaavat; Padmavati would have been the better title for Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s film

What’s in a name? Judging by the recurrent noise around the release of Padmaavat, tons of chest beating, arson, stone pelting and hooliganism.

Beyond the news, the renaming of Bhansali’s film was an exercise in futility. For his grand tale is a salute to the bravery and sacrifice of a Rajput queen — one who was gorgeous, free-spirited, smart and deft at statecraft. It’s an ode to the sum total of edited truths about Rajput glory (mostly myths rather than historical fact).  The best way to do justice to this elaborate tribute to (real and imagined) Rajput glory would have been to retain the name Padmavati, for the film caps Bhansali’s interpretation of the woman.

Of course, what I say is in hindsight. The makers had to give in to the Central Board of Film Certification’s directives — or lose out on showing Padmavati/Padmaavat at all. Sad, but true.

Deepika Padukone as Rani Padmavati in Sanjay Leela Bhansali's Padmaavat

Like some of Bhansali’s female protagonists of the past, Padmavati has all the makings of a true hero. She is a skilled archer who hunts in the lush, green jungles of Sinhala (modern day Sri Lanka), marries a besotted Rajput king, Rawal Ratan Singh, and moves to the desert kingdom of Chittor: a regal fort where at least 10,000 oil lamps are lit at all times, every piece of fabric is richly embroidered silk or satin, and well-crafted pots and pans are part of every frame. Here, Padmavati settles in to be the loved, worshipped queen — a homemaker to the hilt. When trouble comes knocking in the form of a lustful, conquest-crazy Alauddin Khilji, she advises her husband smartly on statecraft and war games. She also rescues him from Khilji’s dungeons, while inflicting damage on the enemy (with some help from the latter’s long suffering wife). In the end, haplessly bound by a code of male-dictated honour, she decides to jump into a blazing fire with all the women in the fort, to save themselves from the pillage of a victorious Khilji.

At every given moment in the story, Padmavati stands tall as the ideal queen. Her husband’s first wife, Nagmati, sadly is given little to say or do; at times, she is projected as petty — which is unfair, given the injustice meted out to her when Rawal Ratan replaces her with a newer, prettier model is not addressed at all. Of course, she merrily jumps into the fire too.

The filmmaker has focused on courage under fire by highlighting the quiet dignity of Mehrunissa, Alauddin Khilji’s wife. She is the voice of reason, always overruled but fearless.  Both Padmavati and Mehrunissa are intent on the guidance and persuasion of their headstrong husbands. In Padmaavat, the women are the pillars of strength for their men. Both queens here are able, rational people. Yet, both surrender to a premise of life dictated by men. In this aspect, of empowering his women yet falling short of making them active actors in determining their lives, Padmavati and Mehrunissa are a culmination of Bhansali’s interpretation of women.

Over time, SLB’s women have evolved, yet stayed passive during grand finale moments. Bhansali’s defiant, heartbroken female protagonist, Nandini, doesn’t give in to convention despite being forced to marry. Her battle is passive aggressive, never overt but the kind that wreaks havoc in a marriage. His women in Devdas were huge creative liberties: There is Paro’s cantankerous mother, deafening the audience with her tirade against Devdas’ mother, the haughty, over-jewelled zamindar’s wife. There is Paro, heart broken, humiliated and yet adjusted to a pragmatic marriage. There is Chandramukhi, the courtesan with a heart of gold. Each woman plays a crucial role in influencing Devdas’ life, an ineffectual, privileged, weak protagonist — but none of them has any say over his destiny. Women in Bhansali’s films have well-written dialogues, don’t give in easily — but finally, always surrender to the dictates of society.

When Bhansali chose to make women the center of his story, he made them noble with a capital N. He whitewashed the heroine with greatness in the films that followed. In Black, Michelle is determined, good and set on conquering her physical challenges. Sophia in Guzaarish is silently loving; aching but willing to make sacrifices.

Only later did Bhansali give his heroines some teeth. In Goliyon Ki Rasleela: Ramleela and Bajirao Mastani, his female protagonists oscillate between good and evil, and actively shape the story.  Supriya Pathak’s role of Dhankor, quietly menacing and deadly, is the strongest female character SLB has ever created. Her cold choices, and later, regret shape the film’s story. Leela’s journey — from innocence and free spiritedness, to defiance, and surrender to love — is captivating. Leela takes control of her destiny, in choosing to die along with her lover, Ram. She doesn’t give in to her natural destiny easily either.

Similarly, in Bajirao Mastani, with a single scene where Kashi Bai confronts Bajirao on his decision to make Mastani his kept woman, Bhansali underlines the injustice she suffers. Bajirao’s widowed mother in this film is head strong and dogmatic, just like Mastani is determined. Their mutual animosity turns to brinkmanship. Yet, in the climax, Mastani gives in and is willing to be imprisoned, rather than pick up her weapons again. Therein lies the contradiction of Sanjay Bhansali’s interpretation of women: the filmmaker empowers them only to take away their ability to battle male codes of conduct.

One can always argue that Bhansali’s films are based on historical incidents or myths, so altering a story line beyond a point isn’t feasible. However, that becomes contradictory, as SLB has always liberally played with history. From Khilji’s Mongolian inspired costume, to use of elephants in open warfare in a desert, to the magnificent wealth attributed to a small Rajput kingdom — he has interpreted history to fit his glitzy narrative. Towards its end, Padmaavat the poem indicates a lusty Rajput king too, willing to kill for the queen of Chittor. But Bhansali has erased that detail. He had similarly re-interpreted Bajirao Mastani as well.

In the climax of Padmaavat, when Rani Padmavati and the noble women of Chittor have locked themselves inside the fort as they set out to commit jauhar (self immolation), Khilji is held back by hot coals flung by the women. This scene could be SLB’s tribute to Ketan Mehta’s Mirch Masala. The 1980s classic’s supremely powerful climax showed the oppressed women flinging chilli powder by the kilo-loads on to a cruel employer.

One so wished Bhansali hadn’t stopped himself at just using the technique from this film, but actually gone a step forward and shown Padmavati and the women retaliate against Khilji. Sacrifice has its place, but there is glory in battle too.

Then again, this is a flight of fancy. For, in the days of Karni Sena and school buses being attacked, Sanjay Bhansali’s passive aggressive women seem to make better sense; if nothing else, then just to survive the toxic, vitiated political climate that runs the show today.

After Saaho, Telugu superstar Prabhas to be seen in a Bollywood romantic film

Telugu superstar Prabhas is riding high after the path-breaking success of Baahubali sagas — Baahubali: The Beginning and Baahubali 2: The Conclusion. He is all set to be seen in an action hero avatar in the upcoming trilingual film (Hindi, Telugu and Tamil) Saaho that also stars a bevy of Bollywood actors, starting from Shraddha Kapoor as the female lead; actors Jacky Shroff, Chunky Pandey, Neil Nitin Mukesh and Mandira Bedi — all in negative roles.

Prabhas in Bahubali 2/Baahubali 2: The Conclusion

While the speculations of the Baahubali star’s Bollywood debut has been doing the rounds for quite some time now, Prabhas, in a recent  interview revealed that he will be seen in a Bollywood romance drama, Reports India Today.

India Today‘s report suggest that the actor spoke to The Times of India and said, “I watch a lot of Hindi films. I live in Hyderabad, where 60 per cent of the people speak Hindi. I am getting good offers from Bollywood. I had okay-ed a script three years ago. It is a love story that I will do post Saaho.”

Prabhas, further speaking about his love for Bollywood, also spoke about the cordial relationship he shares with Karan Johar. “I made a good association with Karan Johar. If I want anything, I think I can ask him. He has helped us a lot. In fact, I met some actors (from Bollywood) in Karan’s house. They were all very chilled out.”

Speaking about fitting in different genres, he said that it is the script that matters at the end. If the script is good, an action star can pull of a romantic film and vice versa, reports Indian Express.

Prabhas is reportedly shooting for Saaho in Los Angeles. The film is expected to hit the screens later this year.

Are Shahid Kapoor, Imtiaz Ali reuniting for a second film, to be produced by Sajid Nadiadwala?

All-time rom-com favourite Jab We Met has created quite the cult following over the years — it’s our go-to flick to restore the idea of love.

Now, after 10 long years, the director Imtiaz Ali and the protagonist of the film Shahid Kapoor are all set to make another romantic flick, reports have claimed. And backing the director with his new project is old favourite Sajid Nadiadwala, who will be producing the film, reports DNA.

Sources in the report have further revealed that Sajid Nadiadwala is quite happy and hopeful about the upcoming film.

Sajid and Imtiaz’s last film together was Tamasha, which, inspite of much love from critics, could not do fair business at the box office. Ranbir, Deepika’s performances were, however, lauded by all.

Shahid-Imtiaz and the team of Jab We Met had celebrated 10 years of the film recently and this was when the news of the two coming back together was revealed. As per various reports, the film will go on the floors in April next year. The film will be extensively shot in Mumbai. However, the female lead is yet to be finalised by the director, and the hunt is on.

Shahid Kapoor has always been nostalgic about Jab We Met. As PTI reports, he earlier made a remark saying, “I feel for Aditya Kashyap, both in the movie and after its release, because he didn’t get the recognition he deserved. Instinctively, I knew that 10 years later people would get this guy but at that time, to make Jab We Met work, one character had to anchor the story so the other one could jump around.”

Secret Superstar’s musical discovery Meghna Mishra says response to film is ‘a dream come true

In an exclusive interview with Firstpost, the 15-year-old singer from Mumbai spoke about her life, her advent into the music industry and her plans in the future.

Mishra was born and raised in Mumbai, and although she originally hails from Ghazipur in Uttar Pradesh, she calls Mumbai her home. Born to Sanjay Kumar Mishra, who is a Hindustani classical music teacher, and Aarti Mishra, a tabla player and kathak dancer, Mishra has always been around a musical environment since her childhood. She has been taking vocal lessons from her father.

“It is always musical. There are students who come at my place and learn music from my dad. I live in a musical world. I have been singing since childhood. But I started music regularly when I was ten or eleven. My dad trains me,” says Mishra.

Meghna Mishra.

Mishra is an ardent fan of old Bollywood songs and considers Lata Mangeshkar a major influence. Speaking about her choice of songs, Mishra says, “There are many old songs that are based on Indian classical music; they come under the genre of  semi-classical music, which are finished songs. If I learn old songs, I only learn filmy classical. I listen to Lataji, Ashaji… all the old singers. That generation’s music was so cultural and there was a classical touch in the compositions.”

Her favourite Lata songs include: (in random order) ‘Man Mohana’ (Seema [1955]), ‘Kaise Din Beetey’ (Anuradha [1960]), ‘Megha Chhaye Aadhi Raat’ (Sharmilee [1971]), ‘Ja Ja Re Balamwa’ (Basant Bahaar [1956]), ‘Lag Jaa Gale’ (Woh Kaun Thi [1964]).

Many wouldn’t know that Secret Superstar isn’t Mishra’s debut in playback singing. She had sung two songs in the 2014 Marathi film Vitti Dandu. And it is how the journey of her newly-found fame germinated.

“The music director of the film Santosh Mulekar is a family friend. One day we were sitting in the hall at my place. My mom received a call from Santosh uncle and he asked her how old I was. My mom said that I was 15 running. To that he informed that we would receive a call from a certain lady, which we did. That lady asked me to send her two songs — both in raw formats. I sent her a song and a YouTube link of a western song that I had uploaded sometime back then. Then after sometime, she sent me an address. I, along with my dad, upon reaching that address, entered a studio and we were asked to sit in the waiting room.”

“We were then called inside and we met a person who gave me a writing pad, a page and I filled it. I didn’t even look what it was. Then the man asked someone, ‘Sir ko bulao.’ One or two minutes later Amit [Trivedi] Sir entered. I didn’t recognise him at first, but I could feel I had seen him somewhere; he resembled someone. He then said, ‘We have chosen you as a singer for an Aamir Khan Production film.’ I was so confused; that was my first reaction… I took the paper that I had filled and looked at it and then I realised that ‘Oh my God! I just signed the contract of Secret Superstar,” she exclaims.

How does it feel like to be a playback singer in Bollywood? “Whenever I think about the fact that I have sung for an Aamir Khan film, I still don’t believe it. It’s more like a dream come true. There was a time when we doubted the whole thing because the teaser released after a long time; it released in December. But once the teaser was out, we were assured. I have sung five out of eight songs in the album.”

“It is a special feeling for me and my family, as I am the first one in my family who has sung in a Bollywood film. I feel I am so lucky that I got selected for this, because if nobody had heard me sing at the first place I would not have sung in the film. I will always be grateful to Amit Sir, Aamir Sir for this,” says an ecstatic Mishra.

The makers of Secret Superstar had called Mishra to Panchgani for ten days while they were shooting the film there. And that is where most of the compositions were made, and the final recordings were done in a Mumbai studio. “Amit sir used to teach me the songs in the morning; I would learn them and practice them all day; and later in the evening we would record it. Amit sir had a small recording set up in his room. After recording the song, he would mix it and make Aamir Sir listen to the composition,” she says.

One of the major highlights of the film is the resemblance of Mishra’s voice to Zaira Wasim’s vocal texture.

Talking about that Mishra candidly says, “Some people asked how Zaira sings so beautifully; later they realised that somebody else has sung them.”

Initially she wasn’t sure whether her voice would work for Wasim or not, because when Mishra met Wasim, Dangal had not released. She adds, “I had met Zaira much before Dangal’s trailer release. It was around September-October when I was called for the shooting of Secret Superstar. Aamir sir wanted me to guide her with expressions, hand movements, standing postures, etc. I rehearsed with her five six times and she used to follow me and observe keenly. I didn’t even know that she was the heroine. She is so cute and beautiful; I wasn’t even sure that my voice would suit her.”

Meghna Mishra along with Aamir Khan during Secret Superstar music launch (left); Zaira Wasim in Secret Superstar. Picture courtesy: Facebook

Mishra specifically mentions Wasim’s acting proficiency, which is another remarkable highlight of the film and Wasim has been receiving rave reviews for her performance. Mishra adds, “Zaira is very talented. She observed some of the most minute things and implemented them in her scenes. She would ask me to sing and then would observe how I stand; second time she would notice where I was shutting my eyes; then she would also notice where and when I took breaths and she implemented all of that. That is really a difficult thing, but she did everything and delivered the final output and you can see the result.”

And now, after Secret Superstar, Mishra hopes for some good projects to come in, and adds, “I wish that all my projects are pure — just like Secret Superstar — all the songs, all the lyrics are so good.”

Secret Superstar: Aamir Khan’s character in the film inspired by Anil Kapoor, Jeetendra

Mumbai: Bollywood superstar Aamir Khan’s quirky character Shakti Kumaarr from his forthcoming movie Secret Superstar has been inspired by Jeetendra and Anil Kapoor.

Anil Kapoor (left); Aamir Khan in Secret Superstar (centre); and Jeetendra. Image courtesy: Facebook

Aamir said in a statement: “One of the secrets from Secret Superstar is that in this film, I have used some lines that film actors usually use in their personal life and whenever I meet them. I tend to remember some lines from it, and I have used those lines while playing my character in the film.

“For example, when I met Jeetuji (Jeetendra) for the very first time, I found him as a very humorous person. He had come to visit Nasir (filmmaker Nasir Hussain) sahab once and I was sitting with them that time. I was an assistant to Nasir sahab then. Jeetuji said, ‘Nasir sahab, I have been offered a film which has a double role’. Jeetuji laughed and said I can’t do one role properly and I have been offered two roles.

“Further, he said that it’s perfectly fine, I’ll do it well and said ‘Buck up India’… The way he said ‘Buck Up India’, I found it so charming that time that it remained in my mind, and now also if we meet somewhere, he says, ‘Son, you have a release now… Buck Up India! It will do very good’. The way Jeetuji uses that phrase ‘Buck up India’ is something I like and I have used that in Secret Superstar.”

What about Anil?

“One thing about Anil Kapoor I have noticed is that whenever he is done talking on call, he doesn’t say bye once, he says bye about 15-20 times on call. So while speaking with him on call when I say, ‘Anil, see you bye’, he says ‘Bye, bye, bye, bye, bye’ in series. My character uses this trait also.”

Secret Superstar is a film which brings out the inner superstar of a teenage girl who is dreaming to become a singer and how she fulfils her dreams by keeping her identity hidden.

Watch: Sanjay Dutt reveals why he choose Omung Kumar’s Bhoomi as his comeback film

Ahead of the release of Bhoomi, Firstpost caught up with Sanjay Dutt, who was more than happy to answer our curious questions.

One of the most obvious ones, at the heels of his release, is — Why Bhoomi  and not Munnabhai 3, as the latter already has a trailer out?

Dutt reveals, “Munnabhai 3 is still on the scripting stage. Right now it’s on hold. Bhoomi is a film I really wanted to do as a comeback, especially because I believe in women empowerment. I wanted to talk about what a rape victim [sic] from a small family goes through living in a city like Agra”

Speaking about Omung Kumar, the director of the film, Dutt says, “Omung is a great director, he’s tried something different with Bhoomi. It’s totally a commercial film.”

Was politics ever an option for a comeback, we ask Dutt? He is quick to respond, “Not really. Two family members is enough. Cinema is a medium where I can reach out to many people, and send out a good message.”

Watch Firstpost’s interview with Sanjay Dutt.