Manikarnika: Kangana Ranaut says naysayers will ‘shut their mouths’ after watching her upcoming film

Kangana Ranaut’s historical drama Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi will release in theatres on 25 January, 2019. At a party hosted by designer Neeta Lulla, the actress spoke about how critics of her upcoming film will “shut their mouths” after they watch it.

Still from Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi trailer. YouTube screengrab

Kangana, who stars and is also the co-director of the film along with Radha Krishna Jagarlamudi, told IANS, “I feel people who are not saying good things about me or my film will have to shut their mouths after watching the film and people who are saying good things, their mouths can’t be shut by anyone, this is what I feel.”

She shared that she had enjoyed taking up directorial duties and felt it was the result of team work. She said that initially, she found it difficult but later felt that she could do justice as both an actor and director.

Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi will focus on Rani Laxmibai’s fight against British colonisers for the rightful independence of her country and land. Jisshu Sengupta, Suresh Oberoi, Danny Denzongapa, Atul Kulkarni, Ankita Lokhande, Misti, Unnati Davera, Zeeshan Ayub, Rajeev Kacharo, Nihar Pandya, Kulbhushan Kharbanda and Manish Wadhwa are part of the supporting cast.

Fraud Saiyyan song Chamma Chamma blatantly objectifies Elli Avram in Urmila Matondkar’s chartbuster remix

If you thought that you were done with remixes for the year, lo and behold! Another ’90s chartbuster, this time, Urmila Matonkar’s hit song ‘Chamma Chamma’ has been revamped by the makers of Fraud Saiyyan to give it an Elli Avram twist.

Elli Avram in Chamma Chamma. YouTube screengrab

Whether or not remixes are good, bad or ugly is a debate for a different occasion, but what is jarring about this number is not its overuse of led-bulbs or the drowning percussion. It is the blatant objectification of the former Bigg Boss contestant, whose dancing skills are not the focus of the song. AT ALL! From skimpy clothes to close-up camera shots that seem to hug her body at different obtuse angles, the makers have done it all to live up to the infamous ‘item number’ tag.

It is perhaps important to note that the only time the camera seems to zoom out of the different contours of Avram’s body is when Arshad Warsi is injected into the frame. Surely enough, no such treatment is given to Warsi.

Neha Kakkar, who has almost become synonymous with party numbers, has lent her voice to this ‘Chamma Chama’ version, along with Romi, Arun & Ikka. It has been recreated by Tanishk Bagchi.

Fraud Saiyyan is slated to release on 18 January.

The Accidental Prime Minister trailer: Anupam Kher accurately recreates Manmohan Singh’s mannerisms

The trailer of The Accidental Prime Minister that chronicles former Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh’s tenure in office was released on 27 December.

Anupam Kher as Manmohan Singh in a still from The Accidental Prime Minister. YouTube screengrab

This film is based on the book The Accidental Prime Minister: The Making and Unmaking of Manmohan Singh by Sanjay Baru, who was the former Prime Minister’s media advisor.

The trailer opens with Singh, played by Anupam Kher, being compared to Bhishma from Mahabharata. Baru, portrayed by Akshaye Khanna, observes that unlike the mythological figure, who had to deal with two warring families, the Pandavas and Kauravas, Singh only has to face one. The Accidental Prime Minister’s trailer gives a brief glimpse into the internal politics of the Congress party like the tense dynamic between Singh and former party president Sonia Gandhi (Suzanne Bernert), on issues of national importance. Her keenness to have son Rahul (Arjun Mathur) rise to the position of power is also an aspect shown in the trailer..

Kher, who revealed at the trailer launch how he had prepared for the role, has almost accurately recreated Singh’s mannerisms and body language for the film. “The biggest challenge for me was the voice. It is the most difficult role I have ever done because everyone knows Manmohan Singh very well,” the actor said at the trailer launch event, reports The Quint.

The film also stars Aahana Kumra as Priyanka Gandhi, Divya Seth Shah as Singh’s wife Gursharan Kaur and Ram Avatar Bhardawaj as the late Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

Directed by debutante Vijay Ratnakar Gutte, the film’s screenplay has been written by Mayank Tewari, Vijay Ratnakar Gutte, Karl Dunne and Aditya Sinha. The music of the film will be composed by Sudip Roy and Sadhu S Tiwari.

The film will release in cinemas on 11 January. Vicky Kaushal’s patriotic drama Uri: The Surgical Attack will also hit theatres on the same day.

With Zero, has Shah Rukh Khan bid goodbye to the quintessential lover boy for more eccentric characters?

When Shah Rukh Khan appeared on the big screen in Deewana, he was challenging a hegemony that was created nearly twenty years back.

He would become a ‘lover’ – arguably Hindi cinema’s most successful lover, breaking the formula of the ‘Angry Young Man’ created by Salim-Javed and Amitabh Bachchan in the early 1970s. All of 1980s and a big part of 1990s had heroes playing versions of Bachchan’s original act, the vigilante taking revenge for death and/or dishonour.

Shah Rukh Khan was the lover boy who turned the tide against the action hero. Of course, Aamir Khan and Salman Khan came before him but neither matched SRK’s early successes or his virtuosity in playing a wide range of lovers. And SRK’s career can be divided into segments where a certain kind of lover type has dominated, and each phase has brought him great success. Almost always.

Shah Rukh Khan as Raj from Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge. Image from Facebook/@DilwaleDulhaniaLeJayenge

His opening act was that of a ‘cute and (sometimes) bumbling lover’ – with a disarming charm and a raw edge. The Deewana character was a Hindi film stereotype – rebelling against parents for a quasi-forbidden love – but Raju Ban Gaya Gentleman had a guy who knocked glasses off tables and stammered through his lines. Be it the less successful Chamatkar or the super-successful Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa, the early SRK was tripping over himself and tumbling into women’s hearts. In Maya Memsaab, he was the charming youngster that older woman took on as a lover and the lovemaking had an energetic childishness.

Almost intertwined with the bumbling lover was his ‘crazed lover’ phase – a character not seen before or since. The trilogy of Baazigar, Darr and Anjaam catapulted him to stardom and audience reaction went from gasping surprise to starry-eyed adulation to eye-covering disgust. It is interesting how well SRK positioned these roles in his career to wrest the spotlight away from star sons and actors backed by bigger production houses. And that spotlight helped him get films with the biggest directors of Hindi cinema. Rakesh Roshan, Ramesh Sippy, Subhash Ghai and Mahesh Bhatt all worked with him in the year after these films.

This gave him the launchpad for his next phase – where he was the quintessential ‘lover boy’.

Shah Rukh Khan was the anti-hero in 'Baazigar'

The one known for his signature pose with extended arms and dimpled smile. This phase officially kicked off with Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge, an iconic film that married sanskar with subdued sexuality. He perfected this with Dil To Pagal Hai, Pardes and Dil Se, before hitting the partnership that would establish SRK as one of the greatest heroes of Hindi cinema. Karan Johar and SRK did Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham and Kal Ho Naa Ho in a five-year period, films which – along with Mohabbatein in the same period – made him the face of the modern romantic hero – in India and abroad.

Kal Ho Naa Ho was an interesting transition point because this is the point where SRK turned into his next persona – the ‘mature lover’.

File image of Shah Rukh Khan.

He was a lover and philosopher rolled into one, dispensing advice and murmuring sweet nothings simultaneously. Be it the older brother in Main Hoon Na or the suave scientist of Swades or the old convict of Veer Zaara, this was a character we continue to see even today. If we keep aside the two Don films and Ra.One, all his films from the mid-2000s have shown him with a mature or jaded side. Fan had the ageing superstar Aryan Khanna, nearly an SRK alter-ego. Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi’s ritzy Raj had a sedate Surinder while SRK declared himself to be 40+ in Chennai Express.

Which brings us to the observation that this phase of his has lasted way too long.

Still from Zero Eid teaser. YouTube screengrab

While the other phases – with very different characterisations – lasted less than five years each, we are seeing the ‘mature lover’ for more than a decade now. While there have been attempts to get in different shades, the SRK who pushed the envelope in characterisations is sorely missing. We were supposed to get a debauched older man in Jab Harry Met Sejal but the character turned out to be sweet and safe guy, befitting a superstar but not the edgy SRK we probably wanted.

Shefali Shah and Neeraj Kabi starrer Once Again to release in theatres on 8 December

Shefali Shah and Neeraj Kabi-starrer Once Again, an unusual love story, will have a limited theatrical release in metro cities on 8 December.

The movie, written and directed by Kanwal Sethi, was released via Netflix earlier.

Neeraj Kabi and Shefali Shah in a still from Once Again

Sethi said in a statement: “Once Again is a lyrical ode to the fundamental and basic human emotions including love. Besides focusing on aspects such as loneliness in the urban cities, it depicts a story that resonates with everyone.

“This has reflected through the responses received by the film so far. I am extremely happy about the film’s release through Vkaao and positive that theatrical audiences will also identify and relate with the film.”

The release through Vkaao, a joint venture of PVR and Book-My-Show for movies on demand, will begin with a special screening in Mumbai on 8 December in PVR Juhu, followed by a question-and-answer session with the cast.

The film tells a mature love story of Tara, a widowed mother who runs a small restaurant and one of her customers, a popular film actor Amar to whom she delivers his daily meals. Tara has never seen him – except on the big screen.

The film also features Rasika Dugal, Bhagwan Tiwari, Bidita Bag and Priyanshu Painyuli.

Shefali is delighted with the theatrical release of the film. She said: “The film has many nuances which are so delicate that they’re meant to be seen on a big screen to soak in all the flavours. So, go watch Once Again on the big screen.”

The Indo-German film is produced by Sanjay Gulati and Neufilm in collaboration with ZDF/ARTE.

Gulati is confident the movie will garner a positive response with its theatrical release.

2.0 director Shankar reveals Kamal Haasan was offered Akshay Kumar’s role as antagonist in Rajinikanth’s film

2.0, director Shankar’s magnum opus starring Rajinikanth and Akshay Kumar, is set to hit theatres very soon. 2.0 has created headlines ever since the film went on the floors, especially as it’s being touted as the most expensive Indian film ever with a humongous budget of Rs 500 crore.

Poster for 2.0/Image from Twitter

Shankar’s wish to cast Hollywood action icon Arnold Schwarzenegger in the role of the main antagonist is familiar news. However, the director recently revealed that south star Kamal Haasan was also considered for the role now being played by Akshay Kumar, reports The Indian Express.

Recounting the deal with Arnold, Shankar said that it had been almost finalised adding that the Hollywood star was also pumped for the project but unfortunately, while drafting the contract, the makers were unable to reach a consensus on every detail. Post that, Shankar was keen on Haasan. “It was my desire to see Rajini sir and Kamal sir in the same movie. Jeyamohan (2.0 dialogue writer) and I met Kamal and discussed the role. But Kamal was more interested in doing Indian 2 and so we moved on,” said the director.

The report adds that though Rajinikanth and Kamal have had quite a number of films together, Hassan decided to not work with Rajini post 1979 film Ninaithale Inikkum so that he could get his own films.

The trailer is scheduled to be launched in an extravagant manner in Chennai on 3 November. 2.0 is due in cinemas on 29 November.

Zero trailer: Shah Rukh Khan takes a leap of faith for love in Aanand L Rai’s colourful film

The makers of Zero recently released the trailer of the much awaited film. The trailer was released on Shah Rukh Khan’s 53rd birthday.

Still from Zero trailer

The trailer depicts Anushka, who is wheelchair-bound, as Shah Rukh’s love interest. There are hilarious moments in the trailer, one being an altercation between Shah Rukh and his father, when Khan replies saying, “Guthka khaate rehte ho, sperm chhoti ho gayi hogi.”

Unfortunately, Anushka and his love story does not reach fruition and Khan moves on to Katrina, who is portrayed as a celebrity. Most of the Zero trailer revolves around the three main characters. Finally, the trailer takes us all by surprise with a sweeping shot of a rocket, with Khan’s voice over in the background, saying, “Kahaaniyon mein suna tha ke aashiq mohabbat mein chaand tak le aate hain, saale humne yeh baat seriously le liyi.” Zero may have Khan taking the leap of faith for his love.

Khan will reportedly not be the only one playing a special role in the film (he plays a vertically challenged man). Kaif will be playing an alcoholic in the film who struggles with her addiction, while Sharma plays a struggling scientist.

Director Aanand L Rai also shared a new poster of Zero featuring SRK on his birthday. The poster depicts Shah Rukh standing on what seems like a New York street amidst tall sky-scrapers with a garland of notes strung around his neck. Rai dedicated the poster to Khan’s dimples.

Recently, the first look posters of Zero were unveiled which saw Katrina and Anushka with SRK.

The teaser and title of the highly anticipated film was released on 1 January and it left the internet in a frenzy as Khan was seen as a “dwarf” for the first time by the audience. For SRK’s challenging look, the makers reportedly used advanced technology inspired from Hollywood films.

Badhaai Ho writers Shantanu Srivastava, Akshat Ghildial on film’s success and how it compares to Tevar

They met as students during their MBA programme in Delhi in 2001. By the end of the second year, Akshat Ghildial and Shantanu Srivastava had decided they wanted to work together. In 2018 they are reveling in the success of Badhaai Ho, their debut collaboration as screenwriters. The story draws on both of their life experiences as two boys who grew up in Meerut and Rohtak, respectively. Here Ghildial (story, screenplay, dialogues) and Srivastava (story) talk about the process that brought the Kaushik family to life.

Where did the idea of an older couple expecting a baby germinate?

Akshat: I discussed the idea with Shantanu. He loved it and thought it might make for a feature film. We toyed with how we could develop it. Shantanu already knew Amit (Sharma, director) from working together on Tevar and he suggested we take the idea to him.

Shantanu: When we moved to Mumbai after our MBA, we shared a tiny flat with some other batchmates. One batchmate who had lived in a spacious 3BHK in Powai would always hang out in our small flat. We wondered why and joked that maybe his mother was pregnant.

Shantanu Srivastava and Akshat Ghildial, the writers of Badhaai Ho

Shantanu: My mother was part of a kitty, which did paath for an hour and then played tambola. The room would quickly get redecorated from temple to casino and I would be enlisted to call the numbers! The Kaushik family was created in my home.

There are three writers credited on the film. How did the collaborative process work?

Shantanu: In mid 2015, when we wrote the synopsis of this film, we connected with Amit and he jumped on the idea. Once we had solidified the idea a bit more, we met Priti Shahani of Junglee Pictures and that’s when we discovered that they had a similar concept with them. So we incorporated the two ideas and Priti credited Jyoti Kapoor with story as she had worked on a parallel story for the production house.

Was there much improvisation to the script and dialogues? I especially noticed the use of silences and gestures in place of dialogue.

Akshat: A lot of what you see was already in the screenplay. Amit did make some additions and the actors also brought in their interpretation. Amit was insistent that we were a part of the readings with the actors and guided them on dialect and diction. It was a terrific collaboration. Because we were dealing with an awkward topic, it was clear to us that there would be awkward silences. It is a lot about embarrassment. When dadi (Surekha Sikri) is blasting both of them (Neena Gupta, Gajraj Rao), there is not much they can say.

Was the class juxtaposition between Renee (Sanya Malhotra) and Nakul (Ayushmann Khurrana) consciously designed?

Shantanu: Absolutely. Class establishes differences in small ways – such as how Renee’s mother celebrates something compared to how the Kaushiks celebrate. The upper middle class whines about the pretentious middle class and how involved they are in each other’s lives. Through the mothers – who are of a similar age – we show one celebrating a 50th birthday and the other in an advanced stage of pregnancy. Both are loving mothers with opposing parenting methods – Renee’s mother is hands-off whereas Nakul’s mother is controlling.

Although a ‘taboo’ subject at its core, how did you fashion the story to appeal to a family audience?

Akshat: In order for it to be a family entertainer, the film could not be vulgar or lewd. So we wrote the story from the son’s point of view – his embarrassment. All the jokes about the pregnancy were always at the father’s expense. We also wanted to make a comment on how children put their mothers on a pedestal but they forget she is a wife and woman too. These thoughts defined the boundaries of the humour and the humour was borne out of the situations.

Shantanu, how does this feeling of success compare to the reactions to Tevar?

Shantanu: Amit and I gave our blood, sweat and tears to Tevar. We made some mistakes as first-timers, but the film will always be close to my heart. I ascribe the accolades for Badhaai Ho to the effort I have put in over the years, writing scripts for film and television and feel I have earned it. Writing a film is a tough job and watching a film being made and then succeeding is a humbling experience.

What are you working on next?

Akshat: Shantanu and I are working a series for Junglee. Besides that I am playing with my five-month old. I got so inspired by the story of Badhaai Ho, that I had my own baby.

Shantanu: Bhavani Iyer and I are writing a film on Field Marshall Sam Maneckshaw for Meghna Gulzar. I am also developing a script for another production house.

Shah Rukh on Salman Khan’s special cameo in Zero song: Very dignified and loving of him

Mumbai: Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan who unveiled the trailer of his upcoming film Zero on the occasion of his birthday on Friday, 2 November, said that he was touched by the gesture of Salman Khan doing a cameo in the film.

Still from Zero Eid teaser. YouTube screengrab

During the trailer launch of the film when he was asked about how Salman came on board, Shah Rukh told the media: “Anand (L. Rai, Director) has spoken to Katrina (Kaif) regarding this film quite sometimes ago and that time Salman also heard the story.”

“Then Salman called and said that there was this story and hear it. The coincidence is that, when finally, I said yes to the film, after that he said that I will be a part of this film for sure, by doing a song. That was very dignified and loving of him.”

The film also features Anushka Sharma and Katrina Kaif. It is interesting to observe that after Yash Chopra’s Jab Tak Hai Jaan this trio is coming together all over again to execute Rai’s vision.

Talking about her journey Anushka said: “This year I am completing 10 years in Bollywood. I made my debut with Shah Rukh and now after 10 years, in 2018 I am doing another film with him, it is so special and this is how life has come in a full circle.”

In the film Shah Rukh is playing a character of a dwarf and Anushka and Katrina are playing a physically challenged person and an actress respectively.

Badhaai Ho movie review: Neena Gupta, Ayushmann Khurrana & Co redefine warmth in Sai Paranjpye/Basu Chatterjee style

What happens when a woman gets pregnant in her twilight years. If some gentle ribbing is all you are expecting, then you are out of touch with reality and the subconscious prudery that even supposed liberals direct at the elderly.

Now imagine if the expectant mother and her husband, the child’s father, are already parents of a teenaged son and another who is in his 20s. The contempt they face within the home then is no less than what the outside world inevitably throws at them, as Priyamvada and Manoj Kaushik discover in Badhaai Ho.

badhaaiho825

Manoj (Gajraj Rao) is employed in the Indian Railways and Priyamvada (Neena Gupta) manages their home. Their son Nakul (Ayushmann Khurrana) works in an advertising firm and is dating his colleague Renee (Sanya Malhotra). The younger one, Gullar (Shardul Rana), is in school.

Their family is rounded off by a tetchy, demanding grandmother (Surekha Sikri). Or so they think until a sudden bout of unease takes Priyamvada to the doctor and they realise she is almost halfway through a pregnancy she was not aware of.

The Kaushiks live in a congested house in a lower-middle-class Delhi locality with an old-world air. Nakul’s office is in Gurgaon, the suburb characterised by its glitzy, gigantic, modern buildings. Their worldview lies somewhere in between.

And so, first comes the older couple’s shyness to announce what in their youth would have been demanded of them as “good news” they owe to the human species. Then comes the laughter and derision of family and their larger social circle. This much is expected in such a story and makes Badhaai Ho a lovable slice-of-life comedy.

What is most telling and a departure from the expected is the nuance and sensitivity with which director Amit Ravindernath Sharma (who earlier made the dreadful Tevar) and his writing team (story: Shantanu Srivastava and Akshat Ghildial, screenplay: Akshat Ghildial) examine Priyamvada and Manoj’s own response to their situation, and the judgement they face from a seemingly forward-thinking character who sees in their decision not to terminate the pregnancy a sign of backwardness.

Messrs Sharma, Srivastava and Ghildial’s work reminded me of an article I read a few years back by a rape survivor who said she had to deal with considerable social opprobrium in small-town America when she decided not to abort the child she conceived from rape. Too many people who view themselves as liberal think that pro-choice means pro-abortion. It does not. It means being in favour of the right of every woman to choose for herself. So if you pressure her with your expectation that she absolutely must, in certain specific circumstances, exercise the option the law gives her, then how are you different from fundamentalists who want to change the law that gives women this freedom?

Priyamvada holds the conservative view that abortion is a sin, Manoj clearly does not and would like her to consider it. Badhaai Ho for its part reveals its standpoint in the position Manoj ultimately takes when he tells his beloved Priyamvada: “Kasht tera hai, final decision bhi tera hi hoga” (You are the one who will go through the trouble that this pregnancy entails, therefore the final decision too will be yours). That, and the fact that Badhaai Ho openly acknowledges abortion as an acceptable possibility, takes it light years ahead of most Hindi cinema so far including the Salman Khan-Anushka Sharma-starrer Sultan (2016) which steered clear of the subject perhaps for fear of antagonising a traditionalist audience.

This is what makes Badhaai Ho not just warm, funny and realistic, but also thinking, intelligent and unobtrusively politically and socially conscious. What makes it so enjoyable is that it wears its IQ lightly.

The characters in this film are not painted in black and white but in all the colours of the rainbow. The middle-class protagonists are not portrayed as saints nor are the upper classes presented as evil cliches. The screenplay, like these people, does have its imperfections though. Halfway down the line it moves too far away from Priyamvada and Manoj in its focus on Nakul and Renee. It’s not that we don’t get to spend time with them – of course we do – but they are dears and it feels like not enough. Since the young are the top priority of most cinema, it would have been nice to get better acquainted with the older pair here and especially know more about Priyamvada’s mindset, her goals and life-long dreams.

Still, what Badhaai Ho offers is precious – an insight into the lives of real people rather than glossed-up specimens of humanity that exist only in the imagination of commercial filmmakers. Sanu John Varughese’s camerawork plays a part in highlighting the contrasting spaces Nakul in particular inhabits. Varughese scales down while shooting the Kaushiks’ home milieu and even Renee’s wealthy residence, but his frames become more expansive when they shift to Gurgaon. The cast and Sharma’s vision are a match made in heaven.

Ayushmann Khurrana is gradually becoming the Amol Palekar of his generation, yet different. This young artiste is capable of top-lining conventional Bollywood cinema (as we see even with the closing song and dance routine in Badhaai Ho), but chooses to work in small films where the star is the story. He is completely convincing here as a well-intentioned though conflicted son. He also shares a comfortable chemistry with his co-star Sanya Malhotra, whose calling card as of now is her role as a wrestler in the Aamir Khan-starrer Dangal (2016). Within a span of just three weeks, Malhotra has managed to display amazing versatility playing a sensible, urban, wealthy woman of today in Badhaai Ho, a character that is chalk to the cheese that is the loud, pugnacious sibling living in rural Rajasthan that she was in Vishal Bhardwaj’s Pataakha.

Surekha Sikri is rollicking good fun as the cantankerous Dadi who turns out to be not quite as old-fashioned as you might think at first. Hers is a character that occasionally is in danger of being overplayed, but Sikri holds back just at the point where she needs to. The always wonderful Sheeba Chadda’s performance as Renee’s mother is marked by her trademark restraint.

Neena Gupta plays Priyamvada with the natural ease that has characterised all her performances on film and TV. In addition it is worth noting how she has been styled and how she chooses to carry herself in Badhaai Ho. When she was young I never particularly thought of her looks, but in this film I was struck by her luminous prettiness in a face filled out beautifully with life experiences. Gajraj Rao is so credible as her reticent yet romantically inclined partner, and they are so good together, that they bring to mind these lines from ‘I Believe In You’ sung by the legendary American country musician Don Williams: “But I believe in love / I believe in babies / I believe in Mom and Dad / I believe in you.”