May 03

Sanjay Leela Bhansali interested in ‘Manam’ Hindi remake: director Vikram Kumar

Chennai: Filmmaker Sanjay Leela Bhansali has expressed interest in the Hindi remake of Telugu blockbuster Manam, which featured actors from three generations of the Akkineni clan.

“When I was recently shooting in Mumbai, I had met him with regards to the film’s Hindi remake. Though we haven’t arrived at anything substantial yet, he was interested in the idea of remaking the film in his production,” director Vikram Kumar told IANS, adding nothing has been confirmed yet.

Still from Manam, starring Nagarjuna

Still from Manam, starring Nagarjuna

The original, which featured the late legendary actor Akkineni Nageswara Rao, his son Nagarjuna and grandsons Naga Chaitanya and Akhil, was helmed by Vikram.

Manam, which was extremely well received by audiences and critics alike, was a story about reincarnation.

Vikram had initially planned to remake the film in Tamil with Suriya, his brother Karthi and their father Sivakumar.

“I had approached Suriya with the offer. However, we ended up doing a 24 instead. I don’t think it will happen in Tamil,” he said.

May 03

Bloated budget, stalled shoot: Long-in-the-works ‘Bhaiyyaji Superhitt’ nears completion

Almost five years since it was announced in 2011, it seems the Sunny Deol-Preity Zinta starrer Bhaiyyaji Superhitt will finally see the light of day. However, this is after the film has gone way over budget, to the detriment of producers Fauzia Arshi and Mahendra Dhariwal.

In June 2015, it was reported that the action comedy, which also stars Ameesha Patel and Arshad Warsi, was back on track  after being stalled for a long time due to production issues. However, it was another year before shooting resumed.

Bhaiyyaji Superhitt

Bhaiyyaji Superhitt

An industry insider reveals that the “production issue” that seemingly delayed the film was actually the difference in budget calculations between the makers and the director Neeraj Pathak.

“The makers had a set budget but the director asked to double it. Owing to this long-standing dispute, the film stalled,” said our source.

No measures could, however, save the film from going over budget. When contacted, Fauzia Arshi revealed that they had to increase the budget to ensure the grubstake.

“We have to complete the film as a lot of money is at stake for the film. We had to increase the budget. Of course we didn’t double it to meet the demand, but we had to increase it by 40 per cent. Mahendra Dhariwal agreed to increase the budget just to complete the film,” said Arshi.

The makers didn’t have to compromise with the storyline in this rigmarole of completing the film and have even managed to retain Sunny’s look in the film after four years.

“We haven’t changed the storyline at all. Sunny had a completely different look in the film and he has a double role. We have designed it in such a way that the audience shouldn’t feel cheated,” said Arshi.

The film is on its last schedule and if required, an additional 10 days of shooting may be required before the film can be wrapped completely.

The makers are avoiding any undue publicity ahead of time, to ensure there no unwarranted complications.

“This film has loads of challenges. I am avoiding any publicity as of now so that there is no complication before the release,” she said.

Apr 28

Hrithik Roshan-Kangana Ranaut spat’s like ‘Truman Show’; when it’s done, everyone will flip the channel

Were there to be a list of people involved in public mud slinging I would surely be somewhere at the top tier of it. My divorce and extra-marital relationship fed the gossip magazines and tabloids for weeks. Explanations and outcry followed by more explanations and more outcry till I realised that I was saying the same things repeatedly and had even forgotten what started it all or who really was hearing my cries for that matter.

When I look back at those times I wonder why I was trying so hard to make everyone see that I was right and the other person was wrong. But let me pause here and not say this backwards. What really made me think back to those murky days of my life is what makes Hrithik Roshan and Kangana Ranaut suffer today.

Kangana Ranaut with Hrithik Roshan. Image from IBNlive

Kangana Ranaut with Hrithik Roshan. Image from IBNlive

I don’t think anyone really knows what the real provocation behind their altercation is, at least not the finer details. Suffice it to say that what we gather is what we have read on news portals and tabloids. A comment that Kangana made to a news outlet incited Hrithik to send her a legal notice to which apparently Kangana sent another legal notice to which there were some articles in the media, containing quotes attributed to their friends, who were drawing battle lines. Then there was a leaked picture that led to another leaked picture, which then led to Hrithik’s ex-wife tweeting in his favour. I might be murky about the murkiness but this is more or less how it unfolds in my mind.

The crux of the conflict seems to be one person’s denial that there was a relationship between them and another person’s displeasure at that denial.

Back to my murky days then!

The mud slinging arena takes two to play, the Christian and the hungry Lion to which he has been thrown. I feel sad for both the Christian and the Lion. Both are in it to stay alive. The Lion has to eat to live and the Christian has to fight to live. The crowds that fill the arena enjoy the fight, but look more closely and you will see that they don’t really care who is winning as long as they are getting a great fight to watch. A bloodthirsty crowd has no favourites, they are just blood thirsty.

What both Hrithik and Kangana don’t get is that the people to whom they are trying to prove how right they are in this squabble don’t really give a damn which one of them is right, as long as they are getting a fight out of it.

We care too much about perceptions and too little about the truth and yet the truth is that perceptions are constantly changing. If Hrithik and Kangana did have something to do with each other then it does not matter now and if they did not have something to do with each other, then again, it does not matter now. In trying to set right the perception of what might have happened in the past they are perhaps damaging the perception of themselves in the present. But more importantly what perception they have today will not be how they are perceived tomorrow.

In the digital age perception is like time, ever-evolving, ever-changing and ever-malleable. It’s not worth bothering about.

These are both very talented people. They have worked hard and persevered. That is the current perception. Everything else is water under the bridge.

This episode reminds one of The Truman Show, in which a man’s entire life is made into a show. When it finally ends, people just turn the channel to the next show. That is all it means.

Apr 28

My parents always told me ‘You have to be independent’: Sunny Leone

New Delhi: Actress Sunny Leone, who will soon be seen in the forthcoming thriller One Night Stand, believes that women should speak up and stand up for themselves.

Sunny, who was here in the capital to promote the Jasmine Moses D’souza directorial on Wednesday, shared her experience on women empowerment and opined that being able to take small decisions is the first step in the pursuit of becoming independent.

Sunny Leone. Image from IBNlive

Sunny Leone. Image from IBNlive

“When you talk about women empowerment, I can share my own experience. My parents have always told me you have to be independent. We must tell women to speak up. You don’t have to yell, scream, fight or be physical, but stand up for yourself,” Sunny said.

“It’s not about waking up and saying, ‘Today I am going to do it’. It is about small decisions. You should be able to say to your boyfriend or husband that I am not washing the dishes tonight, you can do it… Little things add upto you becoming a stronger person like both my parents shared duties,” the 34-year-old added.

Written by Bhavani Iyer, the film also features actors Nyra Banerjee and Tanuj Virwani in lead roles.

The music for the film is composed by Jeet Gannguli, Meet Bros, Tony Kakkar and Vevek Kar while the background score is composed by Sandeep Shirodkar.

Apr 23

Laal Rang’ review: Randeep Hooda, the topic are hot, but the film is not

It is worth the price of a ticket just to see him wandering around in sleeveless vests throughout this film. He also takes off his shirt at one point, letting the camera linger on a really really admirable yet not obviously gym-sculpted, over-muscled back. That is a second ticket taken care of.

As it happens, this man – who we first saw in Mira Nair’s Monsoon Wedding in 2001 – is one of contemporary Indian cinema’s most talented, most under-rated actors. It is a mystery why he is not a bigger star.

Hooda’s talent and looks are very much in evidence in director Syed Ahmad Afzal’s Laal Rang. Question is: does the film add up to more than what he has to offer?

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Randeep Hooda in ‘Laal Rang’. Image from IBN Live.

Laal Rang revolves around an extremely important subject: corruption in blood banks. It is set in Karnal, Haryana, where Shankar Malik (Hooda) runs a successful blood donation racket. To make his illegal activities easier by becoming a government insider, he enrols in a Medical Lab Technology course at a government hospital.

There he meets the young and impressionable Rajesh Dhiman (Akshay Oberoi) who is so awe-struck by his charisma, his swagger, his inventive ways of making money under the table and his Yamaha RX100 (which, the film tells us, makes men irresistible to women) that he soon becomes his protégé.

Also in the picture is their straight-laced classmate Poonam Sharma (Pia Bajpai) and a late entrant into the story, Superintendent of Police Gajraj Singh (Rajniesh Duggall), the local Haryanvi boy who made it big.

The film’s supporting actors are a uniformly competent lot, though a special mention must be made of Rajendra Sethi – another excellent yet underrated actor – playing one of Shankar’s cohorts. Bajpai is good for the most part even though she is not entirely convincing with her fake bad English.

In what is one of the film’s nicest touches, the characters in Laal Rang are not built up as menacing repulsive villains, yet they are clearly an amoral bunch who, for instance, celebrate a dengue epidemic because of the gains it brings blood racketeers like them. What the film teaches us about their underhand dealings is terrifying. It is the kind of story that will make you hesitate to ever visit a blood bank again, though of course we do not have a choice in this matter, a realisation that would chill any normal human being to the bone.

The film’s undoing is what seems to be confusion over the tone it wants to achieve. And so, although large parts of the narrative have a very apt, realistic feel to them, Laal Rang never becomes as gritty as it needed to be because of its tendency to intermittently wander off into long, loud songs supplemented by stylised, slow motion shots. The insistent background score is used to underline every single emotion, twist and turn as if for fear that the audience may miss the point.

As standalone scenes and music videos outside a feature film, some of these are pretty impressive. In one passage in the film, for instance, Shankar takes Rajesh for a ride on his mobike and as the music plays and the wind blows through his hair, he seems to ask his young pillion rider to take the handlebars while he himself lets go and reaches into his pocket for a cigarette. Ooh. Neat.

While this scene works because it comes before we discover the horrid reality of the blood underworld that is Laal Rang’s focus, once we settle into that theme, the repeated musical asides become an irritant.

A great subject alone doth not a great film make. Relevant topics translate into good films when they are peopled with human beings that we become completely involved with. That does not happen here. There is a distant feel to Laal Rang, the air of a newspaper reporter recounting a corruption scandal as a detached observer would and should, rather than an insider’s account, which is what this is supposed to be.

There is a memorable moment early in Laal Rang when Shankar hails a cycle rickshaw, and an aerial shot shows us every single rickshawpuller on that street immediately freezing at his summons. They do it out of choice and not for fear of him, as we soon find out.

One of the poor men tells Rajesh that they consider Shankar god (the choice of divine name for the character even comes up for a mention at one point). Later we realise that all the men in that scene were probably professional donors (PDs) whose impoverished existence was greatly improved by the extra money Shankar’s business brings in.

The film needed more of that kind of material minus the overdone music. Laal Rang tells us a lot about the fraudulent operations of the country’s blood banks. Wish it had got us to feel invested in the lives of the men and women who run the fraud, especially the likes of Shankar and Rajesh who have a straight path staring them in the face yet choose a crooked way.

This film has many interesting individual elements but fails to lift off in its entirety. So yes, Randeep Hooda is hot, but Laal Rang is not.

Apr 23

People call me the ‘Fan’ girl’: Shriya Pilgaonkar on working with Shah Rukh Khan

When she begs Aryan, the superstar in Fan, not to harm his stalker, Gaurav, while saying three simple words, “banda accha hai”, Shriya Pilgaonkar brings just the right note of poignancy to the moment.

It’s this dream moment when Pilgaonkar as Neha, performs opposite Shah Rukh Khan in both his avatars.

One would think that being an actor comes naturally to her, being the daughter of talented actors– Sachin and Supriya Pilgaonkar. But she quickly banishes the notion. The young lady hates anything predictable and never consciously planned on being an actor.

Shriya 3

Image courtesy: Shriya Pilgaonkar.

But here she is, with the most amazing debut in three movies in three different languages: Marathi, French and Hindi; each with the best of actors: Sachin Pilgaonkar, Jean Dujardin and Shah Rukh Khan.

She blushes and grins when she admits to a crush on her French co-star, Jean. And of course, now she is recognised by one and all as the “Fan girl” opposite the Bollywood baadshah.

Pilgaonkar talks to Firstpost about her Bollywood debut below:

So your film journey took off really well this year.

There was that one day in January when I shot both with Jean and Shah Rukh Khan. I felt so grateful and lucky that day. I got to shoot with two actors I absolutely love and respect. I have marked that day in my diary. Gosh, so much has come together to make this moment happen and I was filled with so much gratitude.

Any specific memory of that day?

It was a surreal moment. It was so much fun. It was also the first night shoot on the sets of Fan. I just knew that I had to also enjoy myself and make the most of every microsecond.

What was the first shot with Shah Rukh Khan?

The mela shot in the beginning. We had met once earlier. It was early morning. He had just finished shooting. It felt like we had known each other for a long time. There was so much warmth. We discussed the scenes and did a reading. It was not scary or intimidating at all. All the credit goes to Shah Rukh. He is so normal and such a professional co-actor. I can’t even explain it.

Since he is so open to having conversations about the script- ‘achcha chalo lines karte hai’ — he made me feel important, as to what I say, also matters. In spite of being a superstar, he was not selfish about his acting. He would even give me cues. He made me so comfortable that there was no nervousness at all.

Fan is your first Bollywood film. How did you feel when you first saw yourself on screen?

My general tendency is that I go without expectations. This was a film with two Shah Rukh Khans. But when I saw myself, it was so exciting.  The whole thing for me was in slow motion. It hadn’t hit me how big this opportunity is until I actually saw myself and I realized this had actually happened.

It was lovely to see how he was giving me love in the film and I was like– why am I not able to give him that love back? Now, I want to do another film with him where I also to get to give him the love he has given me in the film.

Did you watch the film with your parents?

Yes, I wanted to see it again, more relaxed. I went the next day with my parents and my mother was just holding my hand. Dad was very proud. He knows what a good person Shah Rukh is to work with. My father was happy that I was able to experience that.

The qualities that make a star, are not just talent, opportunity or destiny. It’s so much of how you are as a person. Shah Rukh gets that much love because he gives so much love. My father has always said, whatever you do, do it with conviction and enjoy yourself while doing it. So my parents were relieved once they saw my work.

Are you happy with the overall response?

For me, the audience reaction is the most important. And the critics also have been very kind. It is a challenge to be noticed when you are working with a superstar and have less screen time. I was more happy when the audience cheered and whistled when I came on screen. That was very special. It was nice to be told by people that they want to see more of me.

Today, you have the example of Nawazuddin (Siddiqui) who started from scratch or Parineeti (Chopra) who started as a character. Screen time has nothing to do with how much impact you can make. That is very reassuring as an actor. On Twitter too, I got so much love from people. People just showered me with compliments, quoting my lines. I didn’t see this coming at all. Even Shah Rukh said some wonderful things about me on a Marathi channel. He said “woh alag kisam ki hai”. That was a big compliment.

Any difference between pre-Fan and post-Fan days?

I am not anxious anymore about the film. Now the real challenge begins: I don’t want to settle for less. Since I have made a debut in three language films, the path is not common or predictable. My journey has been interesting so far and now I would love to do a lead for sure. I would love to work with Ranveer Singh, Vicky Kaushal, Nawazuddin and of course, Shah Rukh again. The experience with Shah Rukh is incomplete because I have not done a song.

You are more famous now and have your own fans. Thoughts?

Since my parents have always been famous, I am not lured by fame. For me, success is true work. People call me the Fan girl now . For that, I am very grateful and happy.

Apr 18

The Jungle Book’ remains unaffected by ‘Fan’ at Indian box office

Mumbai: The 3D live-animation adventure fantasy film The Jungle Book, which has been enthralling Indian audience for over one week now, has maintained it grip at the box office despite facing stiff competition from Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan’s latest release Fan.

The Jon Favreau directorial has minted Rs.82.65 crore in eight days since its release and collected Rs.8.02 crore on Friday, the day when Shah Rukh starrer Fan released on over 3500 screens.

The Jungle Book, which made its way onto the screens in India on April 8, a week ahead of its release in the US, brings a story straight from the enchanting forest of India and presents a modern take on Rudyard Kipling’s timeless classic, originally published in 1894.

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Stills from ‘Fan’ and ‘The Jungle Book’.

Released in India in four different languages, The Jungle Book features Indian-American actor Neel Sethi as Mowgli.

Along with Neel, the film is supported by Bill Murray, Ben Kingsley, Idris Elba, Lupita Nyong’o, Scarlett Johansson and Christopher Walken.

Bollywood stars likes Irrfan Khan, Priyanka Chopra, Nana Patekar, Shefali Shah and Om Puri have lent their voice for the Hindi version of The Jungle Book.

“’Fan’ has received a good response in multiplexes. But what came as a surprise was The Jungle Book. Being a family entertainer, the film will definitely cross Rs.100 crore in the coming days. Also the business for ‘Fan’ will improve over the weekend,” Delhi-based film distributor Joginder Mahajan told IANS.

Directed by Maneesh Sharma, Fan collected Rs.19.20 crore on its opening day.

According to trade analyst Taran Adarsh, The Jungle Book will enter the Rs.100 crore club in the second week itself.

The Jungle Book maintains a strong grip. (Week two) Friday Rs.8.02 crore. Total: Rs.82.65 crore. India biz. Fantastic,” Adarsh posted on Twitter on Saturday.

Apr 18

Box office report: ‘Fan’ is the highest weekend grosser of 2016, but no match to SRK’s earlier films

Shah Rukh Khan films usually have huge weekend openings, either for their content or for their strategic releases.

His last releases, Dilwale had made around Rs 65.09 crore in the opening weekend itseld, and Happy New Year made around Rs 69.42 crore in the first weekend, according trade analyst Atul Mohan.

Shah Rukh Khan as Gaurav in 'Fan'. Screen grab from YouTube

Shah Rukh Khan as Gaurav in ‘Fan’. Screen grab from YouTube

And now, the collection of Shah Rukh Khan’s much-awaited film Fan, has failed to live up the mark, closing at over Rs 50 crore. The only solace is that it has turned out to be the highest weekend grosser for any film in 2016 as of now.

Fan is certainly not a very conventional Shah Rukh Khan potboiler, however the film did see a long weekend, releasing on a Friday that happened to be a holiday because of Ram Navami.

Trade analysts expected to have a much higher opening considering the buzz it had created and the great word of mouth that complemented the rave reviews.

Apr 14

Here’s what Priyanka Chopra has to say about her suicide claims made by Prakash Jaju

Priyanka Chopra finally broke her silence on the claims made by her former manager Prakash Jaju, who alleged the actress tried to commit suicide thrice during her struggling days, saying his statements were not authentic.

In a series of tweets earlier this month, Jaju had said the 33-year-old Quantico star tried to end her life in 2002 after the death of her alleged former boyfriend Aseem Merchant’s mother.

“This is utter… First of all, it’s so sad that Indian media has given credibility to the man, who was in jail because of harassing me, without checking the history who the person is. So, I have nothing to say because there is no credibility to this person, who media is giving credibility to,” Priyanka Chopra told PTI.

Priyanka Chopra and Prakash Jaju

Priyanka Chopra and Prakash Jaju

Jaju’s tweets came days after popular TV actress Pratyusha Banerjee was found dead at her home. The police suspected she committed suicide due to stress over her relationship with boyfriend Rahul Raj Singh.

Priyanka, however, finds it disappointing that finger has been pointed at the entertainment industry.
“Why don’t we talk about those women, who commit suicide because they were harassed by the mother-in-laws or being beaten in their homes? Or they kill themselves because they are unhappy in their homes? It’s so easy to turn around and say about the showbiz world.”

Priyanka condemned those, who are talking ill about the actress without even finding the actual truth.
“Nobody knows the truth. Nobody ever tried to find out what the poor 24-year-old girl was going through… And as usual, people are dissecting her life. People are unnecessarily talking about her, not giving her and family the respect they deserve right now.”

The Jai Gangaajal star said the youth should not end their own lives and rather teach a lesson to the person, who is bothering them.

“Young people are also committing suicide in colleges and hostels. I believe why they have to kill themselves for somebody else. I would kill that person first before ending my life for the person.”

Apr 14

‘Award coming from India is very important for me’: Priyanka Chopra

Actress Priyanka Chopra, who has been conferred the Padma Shri by President Pranab Mukherjee  at an investiture ceremony at the Rashtrapati Bhavan on Tuesday, says Indian awards are very important for her.

The Mary Kom actress, who has garnered international recognition through her stint in the American TV series Quantico, also added that her late father Ashok Chopra would have been “very proud” of her.

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Priyanka Chopra after receiving her award. Image from Facebook.

Asked even though she has created waves internationally, how much importance does an Indian award is for her, Priyanka told IANS: “Very important…First of all being from a defence family, this means a lot. My father would have been very proud. Getting an acknowledgement for my job is an another feeling all together…It’s an incredible feeling.”

The Bajirao Mastani actress is currently busy with Quantico and her first Hollywood film Baywatch with actors Dwayne Johnson and Efron.

Priyanka says she has left days of shooting for coming back to India, and also praised her the international team for understanding the importance the award is for her.

“Two days of shooting were put on hold to come here. Now the entire cast will work on Saturday because I had to come here. They (international team) never work on weekends, but they understood how important it was for me,” she said.

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