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Kalpana Lajmi’s films highlighted varied aspects of womanhood — from Rudaali to Daman

Renowned filmmaker Kalpana Lajmi breathed her last at Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital in Mumbai early morning on 23 September. The writer-producer had been diagnosed with kidney cancer last year. Actors close to her tweeted their condolences, remembering her polemic against exploitation of women, which often formed the crux of her films.

After making her debut as an assistant director on one of Shyam Benegal’s films, she went on to make movies which had women and themes of womanhood at their very core. From starting a conversation about marital rape and the struggles of the LGBTQIA community, to exploring India’s urban landscape, here’s a look at some of her most noteworthy outings.

Rudaali

Probably the most acclaimed Kalpana Lajmi directorial, Rudaali was India’s pick for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 66th Academy Awards. However for some reason, the film was not accepted as a nominee. Starring Dimple Kapadia, Raakhee and Raj Babbar in lead roles, Rudaali borrowed its plot from Mahasweta Devi’s short story about Shanichari, a woman in a caste-conscious village in Rajasthan. Tears evade Shanichari even as the biggest tragedies strike her repeatedly.

Poster for Kalpana Lajmi's Rudaali; Raveena Tandon in Daman

Darmiyaan: In Between

Set in Bollywood in the 1940s, Darmiyaan: In Between tells the story of a famous actress who finds out her son is intersex. She refuses to accept the child as her own and addresses him as her younger brother till destiny reverses the roles. A poignant tale of love, loss, and acceptance, the film is considered way ahead of its time, by giving the LGBTQIA community a voice.

Daman: A Victim of Marital Violence

A chilling narrative capturing the horror of marital rape an violence, Daman got its leading lady, Raveena Tandon, the distinguished National Award. The story follows the life of Durga (Tandon), a young woman born into a poor family, who is married off to a man with a raging temper. Her life is turned upside down as her drunken husband beats her up and forces himself on her, forcing her to live a life of anonymity, only to be tracked down again.

Chingaari

Starring Sushmita Sen, Chingaari is an impassioned attack on using religion as a tool to subjugate women, especially those on the lowest rung of the socio-economic ladder. Chingaari exposed Indian society’s double standards which allow men to exploit women to fulfill their desires, but keep women from claiming agency. The film ends with Sen, who plays a prostitute, avenging the death of her lover by killing the main priest of her village.

Kyon?

Although different from the films in her repertoire, Kyon? made for an edge-of-the-seat thriller, directed by Lajmi. Set in urban India, the film aimed to shine a light on the problems faced by the privileged teenagers in the country. Sex, alcohol and drugs remained Lajmi’s focal points in Kyon? to show corrupt morals and lack of remorse in the younger generation.

Other lesser-known films in which Lajmi showed her directorial prowess include A Work Study in Tea Plucking, D.G. Movie Pioneer, Along the Brahmaputra, Lohit Kinare and Ek Pal.

Abhishek Bachchan on Manmarziyaan: Done being comfortable, want to do films that scare me

Abhishek Bachchan has a spring in his step. He can’t stop talking about his upcoming release, Anurag Kashyap-directed Manmarziyaan alongside Taapsee Pannu and Vicky KaushalReleasing 14 September, it marks Bachchan’s return after a two-year hiatus. Housefull 3 was Abhishek’s last outing in 2016. Armed with his wit, panache and an awareness, he seems to have stepped out of his comfort zone and wants to be with the times when it comes to content. “Why justify my love for Taapsee’s character in the film? He just loves her. I may have been part of some good films in the past but this is a very exciting time for the industry,” he says. Dressed in a T-shirt, blue jeans and blue jacket, he’s raring to go with about five films in his kitty, one of which he plans to start sometime end of this month.

Abhishek Bachchan. Image via Twitter/ @ErosNow

“What attracted me to Manmarziyaan was that it’s Anurag’s first love story. I was very keen to know what this guy would do with it. A lot of people might think that it’s a deterrent but that is what attracted me to it,” says Abhishek in an exclusive chat with Firstpost. And as his voice drowns in the din of loud music, he doesn’t care, he continues, “That dark, gritty tone that we usually see in Anurag’s films is missing in Manmarziyaan. Isn’t that fun? Anurag and love story are not the two things we see together very often. It’s interesting to see how he has interpreted the story.”

Karan (Johar) was very excited for me when I told him I was doing this film. He told me that Anurag gives the best notes in between takes and the way he briefs. I asked Karan that how did he know, and he said because he has acted for him (laughs out loud). After the first day of the shoot I called Karan and told him that he was absolutely right. Because Anurag is also an actor himself, because he is such a good writer and director he understands an actor’s approach, so the kind of pointers he gives you are just fantastic. I was so pleasantly surprised working with him,” says Abhishek.

For Abhishek, calling Manmarziyaan his comeback film is a trivial matter. “I have been around for too long to think about it. I took that decision of going on a sabbatical because I wanted to change things. I felt I was becoming very complacent towards my approach towards work. And now I am back to work. Now whether you want to call it as a comeback or not is your choice. I am just happy to be making movies again. More than refreshed, I feel re-focussed. I was becoming very complacent. It wasn’t the kind of work that I was doing, it was the way I was doing it. Today, if I feel comfortable in any particular film or genre, I will never do it. I am done being comfortable. That was one of the main problems I was having. When you are too comfortable then you start switching off. It doesn’t matter to you anymore. I don’t want to do something I can do with my eyes closed. I want to do films that really scare me, I want to do work that challenges me and makes me uncomfortable,” he says.

“The prep and preamble to getting back on the set was terrifying. But once I was on set it was back to business. That something fortunately didn’t throw me off. And the credit for that goes to Anurag. He made me just so comfortable. Somewhere he also understood what I was going through and the expectations I had of myself,” he adds.

Abhishek plays Robbie, an investment banker from London, who comes to Amritsar to get married. He falls in love with Taapsee’s character, Rumy, to discover that she is in love with somebody else. “I play a very quiet, introverted, strong character and that is what I like. He doesn’t have the usual tropes of what you would probably expect in a love triangle. There is subtlety to him, there is dignity to him,” says the actor, further adding, “I have worked very deeply with Anurag in Yuva. And when he told me my character arc in the film, I have never felt so excited. It’s a very unique love story and it isn’t easy to classify it. It is just beautiful to work with Anurag. He is so wonderful, such a generous and loving director that will come through when you see the film. You will feel that he just loves his actors. Both, Vicky and Taapsee are great actors. This film is written for these two to be cast.”

Abhishek says that his dad, Amitabh Bachchan was his biggest critic and further reveals that it was his dad and Kashyap, who had not liked his performance in Mani Ratnam’s Yuva (2004). “With my dad you get pure honesty. If you do good work he will tell you that. If you haven’t done good work he will tell you what you have done wrong. My dad felt my performance in Yuva was very efforted. That time I didn’t understand but today when I see the film I agree with him. But he liked my performance in Guru,” says Abhishek, who never seemed to mind being compared to his dad. “Even if they are comparing, they are doing it with the greatest. So it is fine. I accepted that long back,” says the actor, who now seems to be more prepared for the industry’s ruthless behaviour. “People’s reactions change. Tomorrow if 10 films of mine are hit, then they are all over you, wanting to sign you. But if three films flop then they won’t even take your calls anymore. I have seen it happen to the biggest of the stars. But you can’t take that personally. It is business,” he says.

J P Dutta’s Paltan that released last week was supposed to be a comeback for Abhishek but the actor pulled out of the film two days before the shooting commenced. It was with Dutta that Abhishek made his debut opposite Kareena Kapoor in the veteran director’s Refugee back in 2000. He later collaborated with the director again on the films LOC Kargil and Umrao Jaan.Without delving into the matter much, the actor merely said, “I was doing Paltan but there were certain situations and personal reasons that I couldn’t end up doing the film. But it was heartbreaking for me because he launched me, he is family for me and it was very difficult for me to not be on this journey with him. But certain relations go beyond work.”

Last seen together in Mani Ratnam’s Raavan (2010), Abhishek and Aishwarya Rai will soon be seen sharing screen space, after eight long years in Sarvesh Mewara’s Gulab Jamun (produced by Anurag Kashyap). “I love working with Aishwarya. She is an unbelievable professional and a wonderful actor. I have enjoyed every film done with her. I also want our home production to start making films again. But I will take about a year-and-a-half to do that,” said Abhishek.

Lastly, we move on to the topic of nepotism, the debate that doesn’t seem to die down and Abhishek says, “Let’s call a spade a spade, let’s be honest. Is it an advantage? Yes. Is that something I am aware of, Yes. Is that something that I have respect for, absolutely, and I don’t undervalue it ever.” “But”, he continues, “I will never forget something that Yash (Chopra) uncle told me at the premiere of Refugee. He said, ‘Child, your father has brought you till the premiere. Tomorrow is your first show but after that it is going to be you because after that if they don’t like your work they will not go to the second show.’ In fact, this industry has far many more examples of industry kids who have not made it than outsiders who have.”

However, Abhishek also points out that how the media was also responsible for “making it exciting for people to go to see somebody’s child”. “For example, the talking point when I was being launched, it was Mr and Mrs Amitabh Bachchan’s son who is coming. You all end up taking pictures of actors’ children. I wish that wouldn’t happen but that is the way it is. But again, that interest in movie star kids is going to last till the first show,” signs off Abhishek.

Hindi Medium sequel in the works as T-Series, Maddock Films sign multiple-movie deal

After working together on Hindi Medium, Bhushan Kumar (T-Series head) and Dinesh Vijan (founder of Maddock Films) are all set to collaborate again. Kumar and Vijan have signed a multiple-movie deal which will include a sequel to the critically acclaimed film Hindi Medium starring Irrfan Khan and Saba Qamar.

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The Kriti Sanon-Diljit Dosanjh starrer Arjun Patiala is also a part of the multi-movie deal.

“When two like minded people join hands, it is an easy team to work with. When the people working on a project are passionate about their work and give their best it’s an easy boat to sail and when the industry appreciates this association it’s a cherry on the cake. Dinesh and his team are always conceptualizing unique content. Working on Hindi Medium together was a fruitful association. This has enabled us to want to work more and more together,” said Kumar, according to a Deccan Chronicle report.

The duo’s previous collaboration (Hindi Medium) received a ton of praise from the audience and critics alike. As evidence of the success and acclaim of Saket Chaudhary’s directorial venture, Hindi Medium went on to win the Best Film award at the 2018 Jio Filmfare Awards.

“It’s so encouraging to get this (The Best Film award from Filmfare) because it reinforces our long standing belief at Maddock Films that taking risks will finally pay off. With Hindi Medium, it’s great to see that after the dust settles, good content has emerged a winner. Bhushan and I share a productive partnership, especially when it comes to music, and we respect each other’s capabilities. But what excites me most is Maddock’s lineup for 2018… it’s very exciting, promising and an exhilarating mix of diverse films,” said Vijan, according to a Cinestaan report.

Padmavat: Manohar Parrikar says film’s Goa release will not be obstructed ‘if it has CBFC clearance’

If Padmavat has been given a censor certificate by the CBFC, then the Goa government does not have a problem in screening it in cinema halls, Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar said on 10 January.

Deepika Padukone and Sanjay Leela Bhansali.

“If they have a censor certificate we do not have objection. If there is a law and order issue, we will look at it then,” Parrikar told reporters.

“As of now, we have not got any intimation about the film being released. If there is a censor certificate, we are not stopping it from release…If they come with a censor certificate with some modification, I do not see big reason why we should interfere into it,” Parrikar added.

Parrikar also said that the state police had expressed apprehensions about the film being screened in Goa during the peak tourism season in December, when a significant chunk of the uniformed personnel are busy discharging law and order duties.

He added that since the peak season was over, the apprehension was irrelevant. “Police report was for peak season. Peak season is over, so there is no problem,” Parrikar said. Increased tourist traffic volumes in December often results in chaos, especially from a law and order point of view.

The women’s wing of the Bharatiya Janata Party had objected to the screening of the film in Goa citing law and order problems and wrong portrayal of queen Padmini in the Sanjay Leela Bhansali film.

Meanwhile, the Karni Sena has also urged Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal to stall the film’s release in Delhi.

After much controversy and delay, the Central Board of Film Certification finally certified Padmavat, clearing the path for its release in cinema halls scheduled for 25 January, however, an official confirmation by the makers is awaited.

Shah Rukh Khan, Ranveer Singh, Sushant Singh Rajput’s films may clash on Christmas 2018

December 2018 is going to be packed with big-ticket films. Two of Bollywood’s biggest stars — Shah Rukh Khan and Ranveer Singh, might have a box office clash in the coming year. According to a report by India Today, Aanand L Rai’s film which stars Shah Rukh Khan and Rohit Shetty’s remake of a popular Tamil action starring Ranveer might release on the same day in December 2018.

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However, another actor who joins the race is Sushant Singh Rajput, whose Kedarnath is releasing on 21 December 2018, too. Therefore, Bollywood buffs have a lot to look forward to during 2018’s Christmas weekend.

Although the release dates of Shetty and Rai’s films have not been confirmed yet, speculations about both the films hitting the screens in December next year are rife. This clash, if it occurs, will be a major one since Saif Ali Khan’s daughter Sara Ali Khan is also making her Bollywood debut with Kedarnath. Shah Rukh, too, is doing a highly experimental film after a while and the action flick will be Singh and Shetty’s first collaboration.

Shah Rukh and Singh’s films have previously clashed with each other only once. In 2015, Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Bajirao Mastani and Rohit Shetty’s Dilwale had opened on the same day. Bhansali’s period drama surpassed Shetty’s rom-com in terms of box office collection.

Adil Hussain: Films like Force 2 and Commando 2 subsidise my involvement in indie cinema

Adil Hussain, a renowned face in the world of theatre, art house cinema and Bollywood, has created quite a niche fan base for himself with his content-driven films like English Vinglish, Life of Pi and The Reluctant Fundamentalist.  He is now gearing up for the release of Mukti Bhawan, which received a standing ovation at the Venice International Film Festival and won him a special mention at the 64th National Film Awards 2017. It was also invited to reputed film festivals like the Busan International Film Festival, Dubai Film Festival, Swedish Film Festival, Berlinale Festival and Vesoul Film Festival.  Mukti Bhawan is the story of a reluctant son, played by Adil, who must take his father to Varanasi where the latter wants to die and attain salvation.  Firstpost met up for an exclusive interview with the acclaimed actor.

Adil Hussain. Image from News 18

Excerpts from the interview:

Tell us something more about your role. Initially, you were not recognised in the look you sport in the film.

(Laughs) That is the idea. Shubhi (director Shubhashish Bhutiani) wanted me to look absolutely different, so we added the stomach with an extra pad. We experimented with several moustaches and finally chose a thin one. Then, with the body posture, language and style of walking, slowly it happened. I am playing a small town guy who sits in an office the whole day. He is middle-aged, has a bit of paunch and doesn’t care a damn about how he looks. The film is about a father and son in a dreadful situation, where the father emotionally blackmails the son to go with him to Varanasi, where people go to die. Both have differences and grudges against each other, but as they spend time together in Varanasi, they introspect about their relationship and a bond grows. My character is full of conflicts. He doesn’t want to accompany his dad, but is dutiful towards him and also has a soft corner for him.

What was your reaction when you were offered the film? It must have sounded quite bizarre.

Absolutely. I didn’t know there was an institution like Mukti Bhavan; I thought people would individually go check in to some hotel by themselves. I have heard the phrase,”Kashi mein jaake marenge.” But I didn’t know about the existence of an established institution where one spends 15 days… A friend, who has also directed me, forwarded the text from the film’s producer telling me that this is the story, this is the director’s profile, that the director’s first film was in the Best Short Film category at Venice, that he is 24 and that he is making a film about death. I said, “Wow!” This was an amazing combination. Without reading the script, I said yes. And when I read the script, it was way more than I had expected. One doesn’t get to do such unusual stories. After stories written by great writers like Shakespeare, Kafka and Tolstoy, which I’m used to permorning in theatre, quite often the scripts I get are not what I’d like to be a part of.

When I met Shubhi, I asked him, “How old are you?” He said 24, and mentioned that he wrote the script when he was 23. “How old are you actually?” I asked him this several times even during the course of the shoot, because when I was 23-24, I was only thinking about girls, not about death (laughs). It is humbling to see someone talking about the philosophy of death at 24.  Shubhi has probably come to an understanding about relationships. Actually, his film is more about life than death. Death is there, it is inevitable, but the film tells us that we better get a grip on our lives.

The film is also quite light-hearted, despite dealing with a sombre issue.

I saw the fun, the wit, the humour and lightness of the film, which did not reduce the depth and gravity of the situation. All of us are senior actors, and the way Shubhi dealt with us was a lesson for me in humility. That quality is also reflected in the film. I consider myself very lucky to be cast in these kind of films, which I think are the future of Indian cinema in a sense. These films are away from the unnecessary gloss and glitter. I have nothing against that kind of cinema, just that there should be space for films that deal with in-depth issues which are sensitive, important and relevant. It need not give out a message; it can be pure entertainment as well.

But as an actor I would always want to act in films that challenge me, take me out of my comfort zone and take my sleep away. Otherwise, you don’t grow as an actor. If you always do what you know then you remain stagnant. These films challenge me to make something believable. I have never faced this kind of situation in my life, so to make it look convincing was challenging.  The film is also quite entertaining. I laughed the whole time when I watched it; I laugh loud. I have watched it eight to nine times across the globe.

What was your experience while shooting the film?

There is a scene where I walk through the pyres. It was the first time I went so close and saw several bodies being washed and stuff.  It sort of made me realise something that I knew intellectually but had not experienced yet, that I may have to be here tomorrow, so I should not take myself so seriously. I am a very insignificant entity in the face of universe, so I should behave accordingly. I had that feeling before, but now it was reaffirmed, reconfirmed and fortified that I will merged into the dirt of planet earth… so I should just relax and behave myself (Laughs).

Of late, you have been active in commercial cinema, and have been part of films like Force 2, Commando 2. Why don’t you take up more projects in Bollywood? Isn’t it tempting?

Commercial mainstream films are not tempting at all. What would be tempting for me is getting more money, doing less films and doing more theatre. So I act in two Bollywood films a year which will fund two years of theatre and family life. For that reason the box office matters, but otherwise, I am so happy where I am. Bollywood never inspired me before and it will not inspire me anymore. I did Robot 2, Force 2, Commando 2… these films subsidise my involvement in independent films and I am grateful to them. Otherwise, I keep refusing many films. They keep casting me in a cop’s role, but now I don’t want to play a cop for the next five years.

You are extremely choosy, so how do you decide to take up a Bollywood project?

My role should be inevitable to the script; it should make sense.  If the director is good enough and the script is convincing enough and the money is good, I pick the film. If I don’t get the creative satisfaction and money, then why should I do films in Bollywood? I would rather cook for my family, for my son and wife, or I could teach at the National School of Drama (NSD). I also have teaching offers from various universities. I am hoping that my market price goes up so that I don’t have to do many films (laughs). Otherwise I am very happy with small things in life.

Are you wary of getting typecast in the Hindi film industry?

Yes, that’s the whole issue. After graduating from NSD, I didn’t feel like coming to Mumbai because I knew the industry here will slot me into a set image on the basis of my skin colour and things like that. That typecasting in Bollywood, it kills the actor. Actors here play a certain image that has been created. It sells, you are successful and then you don’t want to change it because you are scared. Fame, money and box office figures are tempting. So if an actor is happy doing it, it is fine, but I am not. I realised this is not the place I want to go to. But I started getting offers even as I didn’t come looking for them. I did Abhishek Chaubey’s Ishqiya, I did few more and luckily there are independent films happening. I satisfy my thirst for acting in different roles by doing independent cinema.

Which are your upcoming projects?

A paranormal thriller film called Dobara which will be releasing soon. Lisa Ray and I play husband and wife in the film. It’s a remake of a Hollywood paranormal thriller called Oculus. I play an important role in Love Sonia, which is a very intense movie. There is also Manoj Bajpayee, Richa Chadha and Freida Pinto in it. Danny Denzongpa is making Rabindranath Tagore’s Kabuliwala in Hindi, where I play Mini’s father. I recently finished shooting for a Bengali movie Maati in Kolkata. I am also doing a Norwegian film called What Will People Say for director Iram Haq whose first feature film was an official entry in the Academy Awards from Norway. I play an Iranian intelligence officer in a Malayalam film which has been made with young international actors from the US. It is set in Iran and shot in Oman and Kerala. Not to forget, Robot 2 is coming this Diwali!

What about your first love – theatre?

I have many releases coming up, but I have taken a break from films till the end of this year to concentrate on theatre. Since 2010, I have worked non-stop. I have done 50 films including short ones, and I am a bit tired in spite of acting in good films because the demand of film acting is almost 10 per cent of what is demanded on stage. So I am going back to stage till about the end of this year. I want to revitalise myself, because I am getting tired and bored, to some extent. Even for a film like Mukti Bhawan, the demand from an actor is very little in comparison to theatre. I have done very serious and rigorous avant-garde and experimental theatre for which I travelled across the globe. I am preparing a piece for a solo performance which is a dialogue between Krishna and Arjuna, called Karam Nishtha. I have dreamed of doing this since 1994.  It is my dream to play Krishna and to start with that, I will slide into the theatre world. I will start training with Kutiyattam guru Venugopalan Nair from 14 May on the connection between breath and emotion. That is a very ancient technique. But before that, I will represent Mukti Bhawan in Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco.

Phillauri actress Mehreen Pirzada on Anushka Sharma, her Bollywood debut and Telugu films

Five years ago, when Mehreen Pirzada was working in New York, little did she know that, one fine day, she would pursue an acting career in films.

In 2013, when she took part in the Miss South Asia Canada beauty pageant in Toronto, Mehreen was supposed to dance in one of the rounds at the beauty pageant. She had to pick a chit which had a celebrity’s name and it turned out to be, well, Anushka Sharma herself.

“I danced on the song ‘Jiya Re‘ from Jab Tak Hai Jaan,” Mehreen laughs recounting the story. “Ever since, I was hoping that I would get a chance to work with Anushka. I believe in fairy tales. I’m living one right now. Three years later, after six rounds of auditions in early 2016, I finally got a call. It was while I was watching Tom McCarthy’s Spotlight. I had to come to Mumbai and meet Anushka Sharma, who’s one of the producers of Phillauri. Suddenly, I felt like I was under a spotlight.”

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Ask her if Anushka knows this story, Mehreen beams with joy saying, “Yes. When I shared my story with her, she was surprised. And then, she told me that a long time ago, her mother had written a chit where she wished that her daughter should act in a Yash Raj film when she grows up. Finally, when she bagged Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi, her mother showed her the chit. I couldn’t help but blush when she told me this story.”

In Phillauri, Mehreen plays Anu, a young woman who is about to get married to her childhood sweetheart Kanan, played by Suraj Sharma. When he’s told that he’s mangalik and has to get married to a tree to ward off evil, he ends up meeting a friendly spirit Shashi (Anushka Sharma). The film is, in a way, a study on how love is the same no matter what the time frame is. “The story constantly keeps going back and forth. Anshai Lal and writer Anvita Dutt have weaved an interesting story about how love doesn’t change even though time changes,” the actress adds.

Being the youngest member of the cast, she admits to being quite pampered on the sets of Phillauri.

“I was the youngest and newest member of the team. All my co-stars – Anushka, Diljit Dosanjh and Suraj Sharma are well-established, but never made me feel out of place. I’m very critical of my own work and want to deliver my best. One time, when I was quite upset that I didn’t get a shot right, and Anushka got to know that I cried the whole night. The next day she came and hugged me and said, ‘Arey pagli…kya hua tujhe? Why were you crying? We’re all there for you.’

“I didn’t expect such a sweet gesture from her. She treated me like her own sister. The best thing about her is that she is quite straight forward as a person” said Mehreen.

Having grown up in Punjab, before her family moved to Canada, Mehreen is well-versed with the nuances of the Punjabi culture; however, she disagrees that it was a major factor behind why she bagged the role. “We are actors and the only thing that matters is how much we soak in the characters and make them our own. I act in Telugu films and when I’m shooting there, I’m a Telugu girl,” she avers.

So, does she have plans to go back to Canada in near future? “Only if I have to shoot there,” she laughs, adding, “I’m really glad that I spent the formative years of my life in USA and Canada. It has helped shape my personality. Back there, you are on your own and you do things to make yourself happy, not others.”

The actress made her debut in Telugu cinema in early 2016 with Krishna Gaadi Veera Prema Gadha in which she played Nani’s romantic interest. Despite the success of the film, she had to wait for nearly 10 months to bag her next project and currently, she’s on a roll with as many as five Telugu and Tamil films to her credit.

Says Mehreen, “I was going through a low phase after making my acting debut. I knew the film had done well, but I wasn’t getting any offers. I can’t sit idle at home because it makes me feel restless. However, I didn’t let this negativity get the better of me. Thankfully, things are looking good at the moment with plenty of work. Right now, I’m as excited as a school kid about my debut in Bollywood. I had a similar feeling when I was awaiting the release of Krishna Gaadi Veera Prema Gaadha and now, I’m going through the same thing again.

Kareena Kapoor Khan on Rangoon: ‘Some films are beyond box office collections

We don’t know Saif Ali Khan’s reaction to the box-office fate of Rangoon yet, but his wife and actress, Kareena Kapoor Khan is totally unfazed.

When asked what she feels about the dismal box office earnings of the period drama, Kareena said, “Vishal Bhardwaj’s films are art, it is like a painting. You either like his films or you don’t. It is not like a typical commercial film that is going to cater to everybody’s taste and sensibilities, he caters to a certain section of audience and that is why some critics have revered it and called it a piece of art. Vishal Bhardwaj is known for that. So when you do a film like that, with a lot of love for cinema, the actors get lot of appreciation. Some films are beyond box office collections.”

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She further added, “Saif has been in the industry for 25 long years. He is beyond success or failure of his movies.”

Earlier, during Rangoon’s special screening, Kareena was all praises for the film and went on to say that she was expecting it to be one of the best films of the year. Kareena had earlier been a part of Bhardwaj’s 2006 release Omkara, which also had Saif in his finest performance as Langda Tyagi, though the duo were not cast opposite each other in the movie.

New mommy on the block may be taking it easy after the arrival of baby Taimur, but come May, the actress will be back where she belongs – in front of the camera.

She will bounce back into action and kickstart the shoot of Veere Di Wedding in May. Veere Di Wedding is Rhea Kapoor’s ambitious chick flick, which also stars Sonam Kapoor, Swara Bhaskar and Shikha Talsania. Kareena said that she is currently utilizing the time for getting back into shape. “The preparation for the film is just hitting the gym, that is the only focus as of now,” laughs Kareena, who doesn’t regret losing out on the fourth instalment of the Golmaal series to Parineeti Chopra.

Kareena was part of the last two instalments of Rohit Shetty and Ajay Devgn’s comedy but had walked out of the film owing to her pregnancy. “I couldn’t have done Golmaal. I am at a stage when I am also not ready to start a film before May. It wouldn’t have worked out,” she says.

“But yes,” she continues, “I am definitely reading scripts. I have worked throughout my pregnancy but now Veere De Wedding is a priority. Once that finishes I will take up something else because I can’t do two films at one time. I need to balance things out. Priorities keep changing in life. First I was married and now I have a family, I have always done multi-tasking, something women understand that they have to do.” She further states, “Even after marriage, it was always one film at a time. I would always want to finish a film, take a break and then go for the next. Both, Saif and I am going to maintain that.”

Alongside her movie career, Kareena has for the first time entered the television space and a soon-to-be-launched factual entertainment channel has roped her as its ‘Feel Alive’ ambassador. The channel, among other things, will talk about saving earth, adventure sports, wild life and global warming.

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Further, talking about the “adventure” and “journey” of motherhood, Kareena says, “It has been just two months and adventure has just started, there is a lot to look forward to. I will experience as it comes because the journey of every mother is their own. It is such a personal experience. Tomorrow, even if my sister Karisma has to give me tips or advice, I will tell her, ‘Listen, this is your journey, it is like your relationship with your son. I am taking it as it comes.”

Does she have sleepless nights? “I would call them as more joyous nights than sleepless nights. It is so exciting. I won’t even want to think that I’m losing out on my sleep; it is a joy and pleasure to be up with him.”

While Kareena evaded the controversy surrounding her newborn’s name, she did touch upon the media focus on her pregnancy. So did it seem like an intrusion into her experience?

“Being a celebrity anything is an intrusion. Of course, pregnancy is something that I chose to share with everyone, I didn’t want to hide. Lot of women, when pregnant, probably wouldn’t want to go out or continue with normal things. The amount of advertisements I shot for, the brands or campaigns I shot for when I was pregnant was as much as I probably shot for when I was not. That is the way I chose to live my life,” says Kareena, further adding, “this is always the personality that people and my fans relate to and I am a happier person when I try not to hide things from them.

Masaan actress Shweta Tripathi is back in Haraamkhor: Why she stays away from ‘mindless’ films

Mumbai: Her maiden feature film Masaan made critics take note of her performance and actress Shweta Tripathi says she wants to stay away from “mindless” cinema where she is reduced to being looked upon as an object.

Shweta garnered rave reviews for the 2015 Neeraj Ghaywan film where she played the upper-caste lover of Vicky Kaushal’s Dalit character.

Shweta Tripathi. Image from News 18

The actress finds the cinema of Zoya Akhtar “commercial, yet not insulting your intelligence”, but does not understand mindless films.

“I dont watch the kind of cinema where people say leave your brain at home and watch. What is even that? I would never want to be treated as a prop, to be looked on as an object just because of my gender. That I am very sure about,” Shweta told PTI.

“If I am doing something which is making a difference in the story then Ill do it. But not because I am wearing certain clothes and doing nothing,” she added.

Though the National Award-winning Masaan became her first big release, Shweta had previously worked in the short film Sujata, part of Shorts — an anthology of five short films.

It was directed by Shlok Sharma, with whom she is now back with the latest Haraamkhor.

The film chronicles a relationship between a 14-year-old girl, played by Shweta and her tuition teacher, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, in a small town.

For the actress, the subject was never an issue and she insists she found out many cases like these once she started talking to people about this.

“It never worried me at all. But this happens everywhere. When I got out of my cocoon, I realised these are the stories which need to be told. I didn’t think it will run into any controversy, or it’ll have any problem with the Censor Board.”

The film, however, did run into trouble with the Examining Committee of Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC), which declined to pass the movie as the theme was “unacceptable.”

“When that happened, I used to call Shlok every now and then. More than frustrating, it was heartbreaking. When there was a meeting with the board, I went there even though I wasn’t needed.”

“When you are trying to do something right, tell an important story to the society without the intention of titillating, then you do ask ‘why us’? That moment came when the film was stuck.

Jolly LLB 2, Toilet, 2.0 and Pad Man: What Akshay Kumar’s slate of films looks like in 2017

Mumbai: On New Year’s Day on Sunday, Bollywood star Akshay Kumar shared with his fans his line-up of films for the calendar year, asking them for love and luck.

Akshay Kumar. File photo

He tweeted: “Busy summing up the year gone by? It’s time to not look back, but look ahead. Here’s what my 2017 looks like. Your thoughts, love and luck needed.”

The actor then went on to share the names of the films along with their photographs.

The first one is his upcoming courtroom comedy drama film Jolly LLB 2. Directed by Subhash Kapoor, the film also features Huma Qureshi and Annu Kapoor.

In the trailer, Akshay looks promising as a lawyer while he tackles the corrupt with some comical elements.

Toilet — Ek Prem Katha is the second. Directed by Shree Narayan Singh, it also stars Bhumi Pednekar and Anupam Kher, and is slated to release on June 2.

Then Akshay will be seen in Tamil science-fiction action thriller 2.o along with superstar Rajinikanth.

In the film, which is being directed by Shankar, Rajinikanth plays a scientist, and he will also be seen as Chitti robot. Akshay plays the prime antagonist in the film, which will hit the screens worldwide during Diwali 2017.

The fourth project that Akshay has in his kitty for 2017 is Pad Man. It is said to be a biopic on Arunachalam Muruganantham, and will chronicle his journey of finding a way to make cheap, affordable sanitary napkins for women in his village.