Category Archives: Views on News

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jackie Chan and Sonu Sood in 'Kung Fu Yoga'

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

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

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

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

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

Akshay Kumar’s Republic Day idea: An app to help families of martyred soldiers

It was in October 2016 that Akshay Kumar had  posted a message in support of jawans an their families, post-Uri attack. While public discourse had been taken over by the issue of whether or not cultural relations with Pakistan should be boycotted (most stridently, in the demand for the ouster of Pakistani artistes from the country), Akshay posted a video on social media that asked people to focus on the real issue: providing succour to the families of those soldiers whose lives had been lost in the terror strike at Uri.

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Now, in the run-up to Republic Day 2017, Akshay has put out another video that indicates he wishes to walk the talk. The Rustom actor has proposed the creation of a mobile app and website that can help in delivering much-needed financial aid to the families of martyred Indian soldiers. The app will allow donors to directly pay an amount of their choice into the verified bank account of the departed soldier’s next of kin.

Akshay began his video message with a disclaimer: “This idea is directly from my heart. May be it is useless or can be a big hit.”

He then explained his concept:

“I think that our country should have a website or a mobile app which directly connects the kin of martyred soldiers and the people who want to extend help to them. This website will host a list of the names of the martyrs, along with the bank account numbers of their close ones — mother, father or wife. And if someone wants to help that jawan’s family financially, they can directly make a contribution into their accounts. That account number will be deleted once the total deposited money accounts to Rs 15 lakh. By this, family members of the martyred soldiers can directly use that money.”

Rocky Handsome trailer: This is John Abraham’s ‘Welcome Back’ to action

It’s been a very long time since we saw John Abraham on screen. And no, we are not even considering last year’s Welcome Back which was, at best, a jokey trivia.

Absence and abstinence seem to have done wonders to John’s screen presence. In the trailer of Rocky Handsome he is seen back in action, and how! His intensity pulverises every malevolent element including villains who laughs hyena-like at the hero’s discomfiture when a 8-year old girl Nayomi (Diya Chalwad) is kidnapped.

Some of the footage in the new trailer is devoted to John’s mysteriously quiet character, developing a bond with the little girl. Chalwad chatters and asks annoying questions like, ‘Are you a gangster?’ and shares her career plans of becoming a nail artiste, before being kidnapped.

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The emotional detailing in this predominantly action-driven trailer is arresting. John had earlier mentioned that the audience will warm up to his bonding with the little girl the way they had warmed up to Salman Khan’s bonding with little Harshaali Malhotra in Bajrangi Bhaijaan.

I don’t know if that is going to happen. Rocky Handsome seems way too violent, too brutal, dark and ominous to be accepted in the same spirit of bonhomie as Barjangi Bhaijaan. John does the loner act effectively, and he fights like a wild animal who knows the only way to survive in the jungle is to hit at your enemies where it hurts them the most.

John is cast in a role of a nowhere man. “Age 30s mein hai , Killing 70s mein…no drugs no criminal record urine saaf,” informed a voiceover in the first trailer.

The new trailer takes on the brisk task of putting forward the plot at hand. John takes on the drug mafia and is seen babysitting a 8-year old. Or wait, is she babysitting him? There is an enticing ambivalence to the characterization that director Nishikant Kamat underscores by using light to shed darkness on the proceedings. The camerawork is showy but not a distraction. This a film designed to grab our attention without resorting to cheap gimmicks.

John is shown doing the kind of action that mixes the martial arts of Bruce Lee with the rapid fire salvos of Jackie Chan and comes up with an interesting stunt concoction. In one shot he somersaults off a highrise and is seen descending with blazing guns.

Impressive. No doubt the action scenes are the highlights of the show, much in the same way as John and director Nishikant Kamat’s last outing in Force. Except this time the action seems to govern the emotions, spinning a lean mean saga .

Oh yes, Shruti Haasan also appears for a romantic song with John. Wonder how Yami Gautam missed out on this one. Yami, for those who entered late, is our cinema’s favourite dead-after-song romantic interest.

Oscars 2016: Priyanka Chopra is the second most googled celebrity after Leonardo DiCaprio

While India made it to the top 10 markets for searches related to the 88th Academy Awards held in Los Angeles on Sunday, it was actor Priyanka Chopra who was the second most searched celebrity in India after Hollywood actor Leonardo Dicaprio, internet search giant Google said on Monday.

India although contributing about two percent of the global searches for the Oscars, still made it to the top 10 markets for Oscar searches, the company said in a statement.

As much as 50 percent of all Oscar searches worldwide originated from the US.

File photo Priyanka Chopra. AFP

Markets that made up to the next 30 percent of the search share included Britain, Canada, Australia and Spain.

“Compared to 2015, this year has seen an unprecedented 70 percent year-on-year growth in queries for the Oscars. January 2016 saw two times spike in searches in comparison to December 2015,” the company said in a statement.

The top searches for Oscars 2016 from India included best picture, best actor, best actress and best director, Google said.

The top searched nominees in the best picture category were “The Revenant”, “Mad Max: Fury Road”, “The Martian”, “Room”, “Bridge of Spies”, “Spotlight” and “The Big Short”.

For Indian fans, Leonardo DiCaprio emerged as the most popular nominee in the race for best actor, followed by Matt Damon (The Martian).

Incidentally, DiCaprio also emerged as the most searched best actor nominee across the US.

Among the best actress nominees, Cate Blanchett (Carol) was the most searched nominee followed by Jennifer Lawrence (Joy), Brie Larson (Room), Saoirse Ronan (Brooklyn) and Charlotte Rampling (45 Years).

In the US, the two best searched nominees in this category were Cate Blanchett and Jennifer Lawrence

“In 2016, searches around the Oscars are trending to be the top query worldwide in the art and entertainment category”, Google added.

The same trend was seen in India as well. All varieties of queries were typed by the users — around the awards, award dates and nominations, Google said.

I am not trying to break any norms, says Kareena Kapoor on ‘Ki and Ka’

Mumbai: Actress Kareena Kapoor Khan is picking unusual films like Ki and Ka, and even working with younger actors like Arjun Kapoor. Breaking norms, is it? No, she says.

Ki and Ka is the story of a career-oriented woman, essayed by Kareena, and a house husband, played by Arjun. The film’s trailer was launched at an event here on Monday.

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It’s an unusual choice of movie for an actress, and also the fact that she is paired with a fairly new actor like Arjun.

Asked if it’s about breaking norms, Kareena said, “I don’t think of it as breaking norms. I am an actor and it’s in my blood. I have worked with Salman Khan, Shah Rukh Khan, Arjun. I work with everyone. I work with people with whom I am comfortable. I am not dying to break any norm.”

Talking about the unusual pairing with Arjun, she said, “The typical pairing never works, but the odd pairing works because there is something about it which is very organic.”

Kareena said her husband Saif Ali Khan is very proud that she signed Ki and Ka, directed by R. Balki.

“We never discuss scripts, but when Balki sir messaged me, I was excited because I respect him as a filmmaker. I just told Saif that I am going to meet Balki, and the conversation ended there. Yesterday, Saif saw the film’s promo and he said, ‘I am so proud of you that you said yes to this film’. His reaction was amazing.”

The film is slated to release on April 1.

My first heartbreak happened in class 9, says Aditya Roy Kapoor

Mumbai: Actor Aditya Roy Kapoor, who is known for essaying romantic roles on screen, says his first heartbreak happened when he was in the 9th standard.

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“My first break up happened when I was in standard 9th. I remember being very lost and for me it was like the end of the world and I will never find another girl. Then I think after I passed my exams and I was fine,” Aditya told IANS.

The actor, who stars alongside Katrina Kaif in director Abhishek Kapoor’s Fitoor, also reminisced about his first date.

“My first date was when I was in school. I remember I took her out and we had sandwiches because I didn’t have any money but it was fun,” the Aashiqui 2 actor recalled.

The actor who has a huge fan following, especially women, recalls one of the craziest things a fan ever did for him.

“I remember post the release of Aashiqui 2 there was a girl from Kolkata who was waiting outside my building for six days and that’s crazy. She should have just called me, I would have gone and met her,” Aditya said.

About Fitoor, an adaptation of Charles Dickens’ classic novel Great Expectations, he said: “It’s a beautiful project. I have loved Abhishek Kapoor’s film. The way he has adapted the film it’s beautiful.”

Main Aur Charles falls apart at the seams: Only Randeep Hooda as Sobhraj holds it together

Charles Sobhraj was a conman of many skills. However, the cinematic Charles’s (Randeep Hooda) greatest con is to procure clothes from the 1970s and 1980s, while the rest of the cast had to dress from their personal wardrobe from the current decade.

Indian cinema gives directors very few opportunities for period dressing without it seeming deliberate, and Main aur Charles is deaf to this knock on the door. The movie is set in the mid 1980s, a period close enough for the makers to recreate without too much research. And yet Meera Sharma (Richa Chadda) travelled to the 90s and 2000s to buy ghagra skirts, tank tops and tong her hair (dear millennials, in the 80s, we worked to tightly perm, spike and wave our hair impossibly). The hippies in Goa were actually an imagination of hippies — all tie-dye, sarong and banyaan—and not mid-decade revelers on a beach.

The result is that the movie feels inauthentic (albeit, that fault is not of the costumes alone) and the experience is not immersive.

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What were the mid 1980s like? For one, there was a lot of colour blocking and glossy lip. Clothes were cut boxier. Sleeves came to the elbow, hair was big, teased and blow-dried for both men and women. If you were in your early 20s in the 1970s, your eyebrows were still pencil thin; if you were entering your 20s, you were more likely to wear them bushy.

Skirt sets and and longer kurtas with churidaars or ballooning pyjamas were how you wore them. Tank tops in Goa would have had crew necks and broader straps — all the way to the shoulder. Sleeve details were painstakingly executed by tailors, which could have been the foundation of Mrs Kanth’s (Tisca Chopra) and Princess Malvika (Heral Mei) wardrobe — the ghost of Princess Di’s wedding dress loomed as leg-of-mutton sleeves on kameezes, tight sleeves on sari blouses gained currency due to Rekha and Sridevi. White jeans were very sought after and trousers were worn high and pleated. Accessories were colourful and plastic, which Ms Sharma would have had plenty of given his student status.

The only few minutes we are transported to this era is during the remix of Jab Chaye Tera Jadoo. The singing ladies are suitably Zeenat Aman/Parveen Babi-esque with head bands, metallic gowns and flicked out hair.

But in-authenticity is not the only flaw in the costumes; costume designers Mallika Oberoi and Yesha Dedhia assume the audience is obtuse and needs literal signals. There’s an investment banker from UK in jail with Sobhraj. We know his profession because he sits in the background in his banker’s shirt (blue with white collar) as Sobhraj gives interviews.

Then there is Ms Sharma’s sartorial indecision. When placed in position where one has to appease authority, (here the police and the law), one naturally veer towards respectful clothes or ones that speak softly and pleasantly. Or one is defiant and dresses provocatively (or “modern” in the Indian context).

The problem is that Ms Sharma does not pick a lane and stick to it (though emotionally, her loyalty to Charles in unwavering). She wears her Western clothes of the 90s and then some dull salwar kameezes, but they are not in keeping with her inner landscape, which clothes unconsciously always are. Mrs Kanth at home could have used more maxis and batik kaftans.

The only costume executed with authenticity is Hooda/Sobhraj’s; to muck this would have been unforgivable given how strongly the yellow glasses and caddy hat are imprinted on our collective consciousness. Sobhraj was a fop of the 1970s, so his pants are slightly flared, his haircut was made famous by Rajesh Khanna, his shorts on the beach are dolphin and he wears his sexuality on his unbuttoned shirt.

Meanwhile, in Main Aur Charles Officer Amod Kanth (Adil Hussain) makes a nice juxtaposition. Where Sobhraj has his many women, Kanth has only his wife. Where Sobhraj has his flamboyance; Kanth is straitjacketed in his dark three-piece suits. Where Sobhraj has his yellow Caravan-like glasses (among other wire frames); Kanth has his period-inappropriate sleek frames. With the ladies, Sobhraj is smooth with his French diction; Kanth’s interaction with his wife are delightfully awkward, romantic and homely.

With the rest of the film falling apart at its seams, the costumes could have been the game point. However, they turn the movie into a game of spot-the-errors.

Unaware of his identity until now? Naseeruddin Shah does protest a bit much

Naseeruddin Shah is one of India’s best actors, even an actor’s actor, a thinking man’s actor, and one of my personal favourites. So one was disappointed to hear him make the same clichéd statements of mild victimhood that one gets to hear so much of these days.

In an interview to India Today TV, where he was asked about criticism of his views on Pakistan at a Mumbai discussion on a book by former Pakistani foreign minister Khurshid Kasuri, he said: “My name is Naseeruddin Shah and I believe that’s why I was targeted. It really pains me to say this. I have never been aware of my identity until now.”

Naseeruddin Shah. Solaris Images

To say the least, this is disingenous. While it is no one’s case that some of his critics may have been venting their spleens only because of his identity, surely he cannot assume this to be the whole truth. After all, it was his host Sudheendra Kulkarni who got his face blackened by Shiv Sena thugs and he was not targeted for his identity, but his views on Pakistan and for inviting Kasuri over.

Indian views on Pakistan and Pakistanis are invariably coloured by our neighbour’s consistent sponsorship of terrorism on our soil. And the Shiv Sena, not known for its gentle argumentative powers, was trying to show the BJP up as soft on Pakistan. This is not to justify its acts, but to point out that a former BJP man got physically assaulted in this case while Shah received only verbal trolling.

The short point is, at least in this case, Shah was not criticised or trolled for merely being someone with a Muslim name.

Also, his claim that he was made to feel like a Muslim for the first time is clearly miles away from the truth. If any Indian claims that he was never made conscious of his religious or caste identity, he is lying or living in La-La-land.

In India, our politics is steeped in caste and communal identities, and most parties are identified with these groups. It may sound nice to say I have always thought of myself as an Indian, but the reality is your sub-identity is always noted, even if it does not always matter.

In 2014, whenwas being subtly promoted for his humble caste origins, wanted to know his sub-caste. In Tamil Nadu, if you are a Brahmin you will be called out and identified. In the last Mizoram elections, some candidates wanted to assert the state’s Christian identity. In Kerala, every caste and religious group has its own political party. In Shah’s own Bollywood, the fact that the box office is dominated by three Khans is often mentioned to point out how secular the film industry is. Of late, several Muslim parties are trying to seek the community’s vote by touting their Muslim credentials. So sub-identity is never too far away from our thoughts as Indians.

If I say or write anything about the utility of reservations in uplifting Dalits, my caste origins are enough to make my arguments almost worthless. One of the things being used against the BJP in Bihar is Mohan Bhagwat’s mild statement about the need to rethink quotas. His reasoning does not matter, only his identity as a Sanghi does.

If Naseeruddin Shah has any doubts on why we are never able to dissociate ourselves from our birth identities, he could have asked his interviewer about it. Rajdeep Sardesai was roasted on the social media for mildly remarking earlier this year that two fellow GSBs (Goud Saraswat Brahmins) had been elevated to the cabinet (Manohar Parrikar and Suresh Prabhu). It may be politically correct to say I am nothing but an Indian first and last, but few people actually think this way in real life.

In which world is Shah living in that he claims, in all innocence, that this is the first time he was being made aware of his identity? If he has been making his living in India – which he appears to be – he is clearly wrong.

Pyaar ka Punchnama 2 review: Lovestruck men, bimbettes and silliness amount to light-hearted fun

In Pyaar ka Punchnama 2, the Hindi word for a man in love is ch$@#ya. As someone puts it succinctly in the film, “kuch ch$@#ye auraton ka ch$@#yapa sokhne ke liye istemaal karten hai.”

While in its first edition, 2011’s sleeper hit Pyaar Ka Punchnama, the man in love was the dog or the substitute ‘good friend’ who cried, Pyaar Ka Punchnama 2 has made some progress. This time, he doesn’t cry. Instead he shops, paints nails, sets up matrimonial profiles for his girlfried, says “I love you”, is a yes man and wags his horny tail. And so the peppy theme song continues: “Ban gaya kutta…

In the writer/director, Luv Ranjan’s world, the ch$@#ya is the Frustrated, Used Boyfriend (FUB). If the popular and hilarious five-minute monologue in the first Pyaar ka Punchnama depicted the level of male frustration, the eight-minute monologue in the second bursts out of the Indian male waiting to bash the female. And yes, it’s funny in some parts. But way too one sided — like a half fried egg, dripping all over the faces of pretty women.

Basically, the concept is just another version of the marriage jokes that we’ve all heard a hundred times over. There is one thing thread running through all the punchlines: the joke is on the women. PKP2  uses this well in the context of today’s youth and relationships. The fundamental misogynist principle remains the same.

Pyaar Ka Punchnama. Screengrab from YouTube

For instance, the monologue of frustration starts with, “Problem yeh hai ki woh ladki hai.” Gogo (Kartik Aryan) launches into the hate speech for which the audience has been eagerly waiting since Pyaar ka Punchnama. His back literally against a wall — it has on it a sign that reads “Dead End” — Gogo raves, rants and holds up the baton for Team FUB. Well done, boys (aka the writers Rahul Modi, Tarun Jain and Luv Ranjan). Only, are these ‘problems’ really real? It seems that the monologue had more truth than the script that supports the hate speech.

So, yes Gogo, Chauka (Sunny Singh) and Thakur (Omkar Kapoor) find girlfriends and lose their peace of mind. Chiku (Nushrat  Bharucha), Supriya (Sonali Sehgali) and Kusum (Ishita Raj) are women and of course, no one understands women. So why even bother? Let them just do illogical things since they’re from Venus.

So Boy 1 (Thakur) meets Girl 1 (Kusum) in a gym. She squats; he stares at her derriere; they end up in the girl’s bedroom. Here, the boy says something about the girl being from the ’70s. Then, he promptly puts on a cassette player (belonging to the ’70s) and the two of them do some exotic dancing for each other. Soon enough, the boy is wearing a Tshirt that says: ”In the end, it’s all about s*x.” Point taken. He’s a clever Engineer who can prove his prowess in the boardroom and the bedroom, while Girl 1 only shakes her booty, earns less than him and eyes his gold card.

Boy 2 (Gogo) meets Girl 2 (Chiku). He goes beyond veg or non-veg jokes and instead delivers some fruit talk as pick-up lines. She giggles. Love strikes. For all his flirting, he is a really good boy who is ready to go to any extent to please his girl. She doesn’t think beyond shades of blues and pinks, talks in a baby voice and shops till he drops.

Boy 3 (Chauka) meets Girl 3 (Supriya).The two dance to “Didi tera dewar deewana” at a wedding. She lets him drop her home. Next, they are having wine in his home. Lusty glances replace conversations. Love strikes. He is the sincere sort who wants to marry the girl. She has some unexplained fears regarding her parents, but no qualms about flirting with Boy 3.

It’s that easy to fall in love.

But not that simple to sustain the relationship because women are demanding creatures and men are suckers. He’s got to love her, love her best friends, which include irritating bimbos and a childhood male buddy who sleeps in her bed. Loving her means loving her parents, who want her to marry someone else and just pretend to be her brother instead. Love is handing her your wallet when she claims to want to split the dinner bill.

The ‘problem’ is that while such women may exist in fact or fiction, it all feels rather forced, superficial and designed to play to the frustrated men in the crowd. As Pyaar ka Punchnama 2 continues, the women get dafter. Chiku doesn’t know Sachin Tendulkar has retired. Kusum gets more greedy and manipulative. Supriya becomes more and more coy.

It’s rather convenient that all the boys are simply wonderful people while the women are bimbos or bitches.

The men curse their own weakness, which is not such a ‘problem’ here. It brings out the best in the bromance scenes, both in terms of dialogues and performances. The way Sunny Singh’s Gogo says “beta..beta..beta..” while aping his girlfriend’s father, is applause worthy. So are innumerous one liners, including one on Sooraj Barjatya and his take on love, friendship and saying sorry.

Men, be ready to relate. At times. Women, be ready to hate. All the time. Hopefully, you can laugh it all off. Together.