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Padmavati row: Ae Dil Hai Mushkil to PK, six Bollywood films that courted controversy

The course of true never did run smooth, but that’s an adage that could easily be applied to a Bollywood film’s release as well. From offending sentiments to contentious references, many a Bollywood film has found itself the target of ire from a certain section of the populace. Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Padmavati is only the latest. The controversy was triggered when members of the Karni Sena, a Rajput interest group in Jaipur, vandalised the sets of Padmavati earlier this year. They accused the filmmaker of playing with history and distorting the image of the queen they revere. Since then, various other groups and even some political figures have joined the fray in attacking the film, demanding that Bhansali screen Padmavati for them before its theatrical release. Threats have also been issued against the film’s lead actress, Deepika Padukone. With just weeks to go for its scheduled release date of 1 December 2017, the stakes are high indeed, for Bhansali’s magnum opus.

Here are six other Bollywood films that had a rocky road to release in the recent past, amid widespread protests and opposition:

Bajirao Mastani

Bhansali’s last release — 2016’s Bajirao Mastani — found itself in hot water when the descendants of Peshwa Bajirao lead a strong protest against the so-called “fictional” portrayal of their ancestor, a Maratha warrior getting married to a Muslim princess (roles played by Ranveer Singh and Deepika Padukone, respectively).

As soon as the details of the movie began to appear in the press, descendants of Peshwa Bajirao and Kashibai (played by Priyanka Chopra in the film) and certain groups began to register angry protests. Just like with Padmavati, theyere were attempts to halt the film’s release throughout India, but after repeated assurances that Bajirao Mastani’s story was presented tastefully, the protesters withdrew.

Not just Padmavati, several other films have had a rocky road to release in the recent past

Goliyon ki Rasleela: Ram-Leela

Again it was Sanjay Leela Bhansali who had to confront the Rajput Samaj and ultimately, was forced to add a prefix to Ram-Leela’s title.

The Rajput Samaj of Ahmedabad was extremely unhappy with the film ahead of its release — the film’s original title (Ramleela, later changed to Ram-Leela) was the issue — and for a while it was uncertain as to whether the film would even be released. Petitions were filed against it in court, on the grounds that it harmed Hindu sentiments. Fortunately, once a Delhi court okayed the title change, the film’s path to the theatres became a little clearer.

Ae Dil Hai Mushkil

Among the most bitter stand-offs in Bollywood history between a film and a political party, Karan Johar’s Ae Dil Hai Mushkil nearly didn’t release in theatres. Johar’s film starred Ranbir Kapoor, Anushka Sharma, Aishwarya Rai and also Fawad Khan. The film was releasing close on the heels of the September 2016 Uri attack, when anti-Pakistan sentiment was high. Moreover, there had also been calls to ban Pakistani artistes from working in India. ADHM and Raees (which featured Mahira Khan) were caught in the crossfire. The Raj Thackeray-led Maharashtra Navnirman Sena was at the forefront of the protests against Johar and ADHM, a situation that was only defused after Johar released a video apologising, and also explaining that Fawad had been cast in his film much before the Uri attacks. The filmmaker also made a contribution to the Army fund. Finally, the film released across theatres without incident.

PK

Many groups were angry at Raju Hirani and his team for “making fun of Hinduism” with the Aamir Khan-starrer PK. In PK, Aamir played an alien on earth who goes around exposing the blind beliefs and superstitions practised in society. members of the VHP and Bajrang Dal burned the film’s posters, while the All India Muslim Board demanded that some sections of the film be deleted in the interests of communal harmony. On its release, PK went on to become the highest earning Indian film — and was only upstaged in 2017 by Baahubali 2: The Conclusion and Aamir’s Dangal.

My Name Is Khan

Shah Rukh Khan supported the presence of Pakistani cricketers in the IPL, and had to confront the wrath of the Shiv Sena and the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena. The political parties said they wouldn’t allow his film to release in theatres unless the superstar apologised for his comments. SRK, however, refused. However, he received a tremendous amount of support from his well-wishers and fans and the film did ultimately release, without any incident marring the same.

Jodha Akbar

When Ashutosh Gowariker’s film was to release, Rajput groups threatened to stall its release on the grounds that it mis-portrayed the relationship between Jodhabai and Emperor Akbar. They contended that Jodha was married to Salim, Akbar’s son, and that her parentage was also depicted incorrectly by the filmmaker.  The Karni Sena too joined in, saying they would not allow screenings of the Aishwarya Rai Bachchan-Hrithik Roshan starrer. Gowariker on his part claimed he had consulted historians before starting work on his film.

Priyanka Chopra lost out on 10 big projects because she said no to harassment, says mother

With the news of allegations against Harvey Weinstein, Louis CK and Kevin Spacey coming to the fore, many have wondered when the misogyny and abuse rampant in Bollywood will finally be spoken about. In the wake of this, Madhu Chopra, Priyanka Chopra’s mother and a producer, has spoken about how the Quantico actress let go of big projects because they were being helmed by people who made her uncomfortable with their lewd suggestions and requests.

Priyanka Chopra with her mother Madhu. Image from Facebook/@priyankachopra

Nawazuddin’s Monsoon Shootout will now release on 15 December; no clash with Tiger Zinda Hai

Nawazuddin Siddiqui’s much awaited Monsoon Shootout is all set to hit the silver screen on 15 December, according to the latest poster of the film.

Poster of Monsoon Shootout.

The poster of the film fits in perfectly with its genre — a crime-thriller drama — with hues of blood red as the poster’s background, Siddiqui’s face (bruised, battered and scarred) in monochrome and Vijay Verma’s silhouette in red, the poster cuts a chilling picture.

The film was supposed to see a theatrical release almost four years ago, however the release repeatedly kept getting stalled. Siddiqui had shot for Monsoon Shootout immediately after Gangs Of Wasseypur.

“For almost a year we were travelling across festivals with the film and then we wanted to wait and release the film when we felt the time was right.  We had a successful release of Haraamkhor earlier this year and 2017 has proven to be a year when good content films were being accepted. So we feel now is the best time to release the film,” said Monsoon Shootout‘s producer Guneet Monga in a statement.

Monga and her production house Sikhya Entertainment is known for producing content-driven films like Masaan and Lunchbox, apart from Haraamkhor.

Monsoon Shootout is a crime thriller film starring Siddiqui, Vijay Verma and Tannishtha Chatterjee.

This film is about a policeman facing a life-altering decision when he must decide to shoot or not.

It is directed by Amit Kumar, who earlier made an award-winning short film called Bypass with Siddiqui and Irrfan Khan.

Qarib Qarib Singlle movie review: Parvathy, Irrfan click individually but not as a couple

A conservative young woman, widowed early in life and hanging on to the memory of her late husband, spends years allowing life to revolve around work and married friends who take her for granted. On a whim one day, she puts up her profile on a dating website. Jaya Shashidharan (played by Parvathy) is a successful insurance professional staying alone in her Mumbai flat while her younger brother — the only person she seems truly close to — studies abroad. She meets poet cum inventor Yogendra Kumar Dhirendranath Prajapati a.k.a. Yogi (Irrfan) via the site. On another whim, she decides to go on a cross-country trip with him to meet his ex-girlfriends and check if they still carry a torch for him as he claims they do.

(Possible spoilers ahead)

No one is more surprised by her uncharacteristic impetuousness than she herself. Dating is not her scene. It is clear that at some sub-conscious level she wants to break free of her own sobriety, but it is an old habit that is hard to shake off. Her confusion over her life-long sedateness can be the only explanation for why she takes off on a journey with a virtual stranger and takes other risks in this story that even the average adventurous Indian woman would not. It also explains why she spends so much of this expedition regretting being on it. Yogi is everything she is not — unguarded, sure of what he wants, speaking his mind, constantly laughing at his own poor jokes, so sociable that even a ride on the wrong train turns into a fun diversion. She has the appearance of knowing her mind, but does not. She says one thing, while her heart wants something else.

Poster for Qarib Qarib Singlle

Most of what I have told you is already contained in the trailer of Qarib Qarib Singlle (Almost Single). Despite the sense of humour in some of the couple’s initial interactions, and the undoubted charisma of the lead stars, the film does not have much more to offer beyond the pleasures of that trailer. There is a kernel of an idea in there that could have been taken somewhere, but it does not come together as a cohesive, credible whole.

Froth and frolic notwithstanding, writer-director Tanuja Chandra makes a point here, although it is unclear whether that was her intention. In one scene, Yogi half-mockingly expresses admiration for Jaya’s feminism. Yet, the song and dance that is made about her lack of clarity regarding what she wants from him, treads the well-worn path of suggesting that behind all their bluster, there is nothing more that female feminists want than the comfort of tradition and a man. This silly stereotypical belief is implied and stated routinely in real life by those whose superficial understanding is that men and relationships with men are, theoretically, anathema to women feminists.

It is possible that Chandra did not intend to insinuate any of this, but the clichéd characterisation of Jaya and Yogi, no different from a standard Mills & Boon romance, ends up doing precisely that — not spelt out in black and white, but by implication.

Besides, Qarib Qarib Singlle’s lead actors Parvathy and Irrfan do not click as a couple on screen. It does not help that this supposedly off-mainstream film from a seemingly thinking filmmaker displays the same ageist sexism that we see in hard-core commercial Hindi cinema, in which 50-something male stars routinely play younger men and star with women half their age. The Net tells me that Irrfan is 50 and that baby-faced, chubby-cheeked Parvathy is 29, but in the film, Yogi is 40 (really?) while Jaya is 35 — an adjustment that has obviously been made to justify the casting. I guess it would be too much to ask this gender-prejudiced industry to pick a 40 to 50-year-old woman for a 50-year-old man, but Qarib Qarib Singlle would have been another film, and very likely a far more interesting one, if Chandra had gone down that path.

Shaadi Mein Zaroor Aana movie review: Even Rajkummar Rao cannot rescue this romantic drama

She’s got perfectly set hair, immaculate make up and is dressed in a flattering, fitted pink kurta. He’s bowled over. Pink is her colour, he says, clearly smitten.

He sweeps her off her feet with his liberal attitude, something unexpected in Kanpur. Aarti Shukla (Kriti Kharbanda), who doesn’t want to marry because she wants to pursue a career, surprises herself by accepting the match of Satyendra Mishra (Rajkummar Rao).

He is young, idealistic and obedient. Shukla, impressed by his progressive mindset, is better educated than him and keeps correcting his awkward English.

Still from Shaadi Mein Zaroor Aana

The courtship is adorable, with all its small-town innocence intact. Sharing of coffee cups, making plans for the honeymoon and discovering the best friend in one another.

Simultaneously, the Shukla and Mishra families are engaged in a cold dowry negotiation. Marry a family lower than you in status and you can be sure the girl and her family will always be in check, says one character as he’s suggesting a match for his nephew.

In this stratum of society, securing a government job is like winning the lottery. It’s interesting to see how it’s Satyendra’s mother who is determined to uphold and exploit traditions of dowry and how Aarti’s otherwise unyielding father bends to the pressure of a prestigious match.

Satyendra and Aarti seem oblivious to this, somehow, and carry on smiling sweetly and making plans for the future. She is bright, but limited by her father’s (Govind Namdeo) old-fashioned beliefs. So when she passes her PSC exam (Public Service Commission) in the first attempt, it’s both a matter of pride and the catalyst for a complete shakedown.

After many possible interval points, we come to the designed one and then transition to five years later. The runaway bride is now a revered government officer but a graft charge is likely to destroy her career. During the course of the investigation, she is reunited with Satyendra.
It’s a moment that should have carried emotional weightage, but Kriti Kharbanda’s still-perfectly set hair, immaculate make up and tightly draped sarees are a distraction. Maybe they distracted me because I didn’t really understand what Aarti was about. A successful, independent woman who had taken charge of her future should have shown more chutzpah. But she seemed short in self-confidence and high on tears.

Ratnaa Sinha directs a film written by Kamal Pandey that suffers from the second half malaise. The screenplay is as twisted as a telephone wire. A breakdown in communication in the modern age of saturated connectivity is hard to swallow.

Sure you may not connect with someone on the phone but who doesn’t use email/ SMS/ snail mail? The schizophrenia of Satyendra’s character and Aarti crumbling into a whimpering mess in a starched cotton sari are overplayed and the film becomes rather soap opera-like, with the entire extended family dragged back in.

First-time director Sinha manages to weave in social messages (dowry, gender equality, corruption etc) without becoming preachy, besides reiterating the fact that Aarti passed her PSC exam in the first attempt. However with the lighting and camera work in particular, the scenes often look washed out, and the drama is in parts directed like a TV serial. What keeps proceedings afloat is a supporting cast, including Manoj Pahwa, Vipin Sharma and Navni Parihar, who interpret some well-written characters ably.

Kharbanda does not infuse qualities into Aarti that would have you supporting her, not even when she hits her lowest point. You are told she is intelligent, but her actions hardly demonstrate that characteristic.

Rao’s Satyendra shows two shades. He starts off as the youthful, warm-hearted young man unaware of the biases towards him as a boy child waiting to come of age. In the latter half he’s the cold-hearted and bitter officer determined to bring down the Mishras who so badly humiliated his family. Rao interprets both with expected nuance and control.

Movie Review: Sardar Mohammad, Punjabi Movie

 

 

Sardar Mohammad is the story of Surjit Singh who is the eldest son in the family of Retired Colonel Harjit Singh (Sardar Sohi) who has served for the Police Force under the British Rule and later joined the Indian Army. Surjit has 3 younger brothers and a younger sister. Life is going smooth and Surjit is even about to get married to Mandy Takhar. However, things take a turn when Surjit learns that he is not the real son of Colonel instead he was separated from his family during the Partition of 1947. Surjit learns that he has a mother in Pakistan and he decided to visit the neighbouring country in search of his mother. In Pakistan, he finds friends who help and support him in the search of his mother.

Review: I loved Tarsem Jassar and Harry Bhatti’s debut film, Rabb Da Radio but I am afraid that I cannot say the same about this film all together. Tarsem Jassar has taken up multiple tasks in this film – Lead Actor, Story Writer, Screenplay Writer, Dialogue Writer, Lyricist, Composer, Producer & God knows what else. The film carries a blend of emotion, drama & tries to churn all the elements into a typical potboiler commercial film at heart but the films ends up being nothing but a disappointment because of the sky high expectations that I had from the film after I saw the trailer.

Story-Screenplay-Dialogues are all penned by Tarsem Jassar and are based on real life events and the film informs the viewer about the inspiration through a Disclaimer in the very beginning of the film. The film begins on a very sluggish note as the comedy seems to be a forceful insertion in the very beginning and bears no connection to the overall storyline of the film. The Story is something which I can call new in terms of Punjabi Cinema but the treatment given to the story is very immature thus making a good idea seem boring on screen.

Also, most of the moments in the 1st half have no relevance to the actual plot line. They have just been added in order to give a commercial feel to the film  so that the viewer finds a bit of comedy, a little bit of romance (just the song), melodrama and what not. The dialogues were pretty regular and can be termed as mediocre. Overall, the writing of Sardar Mohammad is an opportunity missed.

Coming to direction, Harry Bhatti co-directed his debut film, Rabb Da Radio and this time he has directed the film completely on his own. Sardar Mohammad is one of those films which had a good story, a weak screenplay but bad direction made the film even more weaker. Harry just couldn’t handle the crunch situations. Seems like Harry Bhatti still has a lot to learn as a film-maker. I have always been of the believe that ‘A Successful Music Video director does not necessarily qualify as a successful film-maker’. Both the aspects are completely different from each other.

Coming to performances, I cannot point out a single performance which stood out in the whole film. Tarsem Jassar tried hard, put in all the efforts he could but still there was something missing which stops me from using terms such as amazing, standout, applause-worthy (Mind you, I am a hardcore Tarsem Jassar Fan). Karamjit Anmol is a fine actor and this is his 4th release in a span of 28 days. However, here he was under-utilised. Sardar Sohi was routine as usual. Rahul Jungral did a somewhat okays job. He could be someone who can make a name for himself in future if his choice of roles is good.

Harshjot Kaur, last seen in Qissa Panjab does well here as well. She plays Tarsem’s sister in the film. Neetu Pandher had a small role and was efficient. Rana Jung Bahadur also had 3-4 scenes in the film and was all right. However, Sardar Mohammad would be a disappointment for Mandy Takhar fans as she is seen only in the song, Single Double which also happens to be a dream sequence.

Music of the film lacked the feel of a Motion Pictures Soundtrack except for the Title Track of the film. It was more of the music which works regularly as a Single Track or a supporting track in a music album. However, tracks like Asool, Pind and Sardar Mohammad (Title Track) would be my picks from the album.

After Queen, Kangana Ranaut and Rajkummar Rao may reunite for upcoming thriller

After the 2014 blockbuster hit Queen, Kangana Ranaut and Rajkummar Rao may be joining forces once again to star in an upcoming thriller together.

Rajkummar Rao-Kangana Ranaut on the Queen sets. Image from Twitter/@BollywoodQing.

“It’s also highly likely that Rajkummar Rao, who was Kangana’s co-star in Queen, will be sharing screen

space with her in this film too. Rajkummar has also been on a high with his last few films either doing well at the box office, or gaining critical acclaim,” said an unverified source, according to a Deccan Chronicle report.

Shailesh Singh, one of the co-producer’s of Ranaut’s 2016 release Simran and her 2011 release Tanu Weds Manu has reportedly invested in the actor once again — this time in the form of a thriller which will apparently be helmed by a director from the South film industry. Ranaut is currently shooting for Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi which is directed by Krish, and Singh is reportedly keen on getting another director from down south to helm the project.

The movie will reportedly go on floors by the second quarter of 2018.

Whereas 2017 saw one movie starring Ranaut in the titular role (Simran), it is Rajkummar Rao who has been setting the box-office ablaze with critically acclaimed performances in movies like Trapped, Behen Hogi Teri, Bareilly Ki Barfi and Newton.

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.

Untitled design (25)

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.

After Ittefaq, BR Studios to produce Bhoothnath 3; Amitabh Bachchan to reprise role

Ahead of the release of their whodunit thriller and Abhay Chopra’s directorial debut Ittefaq, the Chopra brothers — Abhay and Kapil — have announced the third installment of their popular horror comedy franchise Bhoothnath.

bhoothnath

“We are working on the story and have a panel of three writers who have just come up with a concept. We are trying to change that a bit and waiting to formalise it before we start speaking. There can’t be a Bhoothnath without Amitabh Bachchan,” Mumbai Mirror quotes Kapil as saying.

The same reports states that before starting Bhoothnath 3, the Chopra brothers have another project in hand and it will be a road trip film directed by Nitin Kakkar.

Amitabh Bachchan will reprise the role of the friendly ghost Kailash Nath from the previous two parts. The first part released in 2008 and also starred Juhi Chawla and Rajpal Yadav.

The second part was titled Bhoothnath Returns and was even a bigger success than the first part. It was directed by Nitesh Tiwari and revolved around the Lok Sabha elections. Both the films had cameos by Shah Rukh Khan as well.

Bachchan has worked in several films produced by BR Studios including hits like Zameer, Baghban and Babul.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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