Category Archives: PakBcn blog

Om Puri brought the rural aam aadmi character into mainstream cinema: Amol Palekar

Om Puri had mentioned that he gave all the credit of his entry into film life to me. He had said that it was because of my success that people like him and Naseeruddin Shah could even dream of entering into films, doing good roles and being established. I don’t know how much of it was true but if at all it is to be considered, I would say that if I represented the aam aadmi, it was the urban aam aadmi. Om brought in the rural aam aadmi into mainstream cinema and Bollywood. He further took it to international cinema. His long journey reflects his acting powers and brilliant career.

Om Puri. News18

I want to correct the impression that he started his career from FTII. Before that, he graduated from the National School of Drama. In fact, my first meeting which I remember with Om was when we were both participating in a theatre festival in Kolkata. I had seen his performance in Udhavas dharamashala. This was a Marathi play which was being performed in Hindi and I knew that play very well. So, when I saw his interpretation and his performance in that play, I was completely bowled over and our friendship and association began from that day. So, his career had started from theatre. And his roots were always in theatre. He eventually went into films, then grew on an international level. But I think more than Ghashiram Kothwal, I would point out Udhavas dharmashala. In his acting career, Aakrosh was brilliant and in Mrinal Sen films, he was absolutely outstanding.

But I admire Om for his completely different portrayal in Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro and his role in Chachi 420 is very unlike his personality. He came up with such beautiful performances in comedy that one could see what tremendous range this actor had. Irrespective of the kind of role or the frame of the role he was given, he would still come across with flying colours. I think of the hard work which he had shown in the National School of Drama, in FTII and in his entire career. He could hardly speak English when he started his career but went on to act in Hollywood films, speaking in perfectly good English without getting brought down by this kind of handicap. This just shows his strength, his capacity, his hard work and his growth.

We did a film four or five years back and I made a film called Dhamkatha. It was a movie for children in which Om had played the lead role of a lovable grandfather. Again, we had some memorable moments during that period. We worked very hard during the day. And then, after a hard day’s work was over, we would sit down, chat, have a drink and discuss a lot of things over that drink. During that discussion, Om did not just talk about films. He was capable of talking about his point of view, his opinion on politics and his comment on social issues. This side of his personality was very fascinating. Therefore, we could connect a lot more and it was a very beautiful association, although we did not meet regularly.

I don’t remember meeting Om on a regular basis. But whenever we bumped into each other, we would mostly be shooting in a studio for different films. He would be shooting his film, I’d be shooting mine. We would be there, then we’d sit down and have lunch together, or we would bump into each other at a film function or a party. Even though there was a long gap between each time we met, there was never a feeling that it was after any gap. It was always with a kind of warmth and the feeling that we just met yesterday. And he always had respect, so our friendship was a very beautiful relationship.

Today is not the day to talk about controversy. But I don’t think people have an appropriate view about actors. I just saw yesterday that Akshay Kumar came out and commented on the Bengaluru incident. Why do people think that actors can’t do it? Anchors have always done it, actors have done it in the past when they felt that there was something wrong happening in our country. I think it is just the media’s perception that actors are only entertainers and they need not talk about any other issue, neither political nor social. But Nana Patekar has been doing such a brilliant work for farmers.

I have said that some actors don’t hesitate to come out and make a statement. Om was one of them. And therefore, we belong to the same gharana.

Koffee with Karan season 5: Shahid and Mira Kapoor, get a room

In the latest episode of Koffee with Karan, Shahid Kapoor and his wife Mira were so mushy, in-love, and all about each other that we felt like asking them to get a room (or go home).

For their first public appearance together, this was quite a memorable one. Quick flashback: the duo announced their marriage in 2015 amid many rumours. It was an arranged one and had the whole country talking. They were wedding in a lavish ceremony. Whatever questions you had about the couple, this episode of Koffee with Karan definitely answered most of them.

Karan Johar being himself, started the show by addressing the elephant in the room: in his last few appearances on the show, Shahid appeared with all his rumoured love interests, Kareena, Priyanka, and Sonakshi. While Karan took Shahid’s case on this, Mira seemed unfazed and quite sporting.

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This was followed by multiple stories of how Shahid and Mira met for the first time. Sample these: When both families gathered together to discuss Shahid and Mira’s wedding, the duo were unaware. They were assuming that the match being spoken about was Shahid’s younger brother Ruhaan, and Mira (because their ages are similar). Upon meeting for the first time, Shahid and Mira spoke for 7 hours, non-stop. It was after meeting a couple of times did they decide to get married, but when Shahid met Mira’s father for the first time, he was prepping for Udta Punjab. Which means that his father-in-law saw him in his Tommy Singh avatar (ouch).

However, this story takes the cake. During their first meeting, Shahid asked Mira why she wants to marry someone much older to her. Mira’s response was, “why do you want to marry someone much younger? That’s much worse.”

One of the first judgments you make about Mira (let’s face it, we were all judging her, this is the woman’s first TV appearance), is that she’s unlike a “star wife”. She seems quite real, and it shone in one particular anecdote. When Karan asked her how she manages at film parties, she revealed that she actually likes meeting new people and hearing stories about a world she is not a part of. But more importantly she had no reason to feel weird or out of place.

Mira left no opportunity to make fun of Karan Johar (woot woot). When they played a game called “pillow talk”, Johar asked Mira what she says to Shahid every night before sleeping. When she revealed it was, “I love you,” Karan in his trademark style said, “I feel like I’m watching some Valentine’s Day special”, to which Mira said, “it’s like you’re watching one of your own movies.”

The flavour of being real must have transferred to potentially one of the most histrionic host on Indian TV, because when Karan Johar asked Mira things about Bollywood she doesn’t like, she said, “Airport looks and nepotism,” to which he responded, “the latter might be directed at me”.

Suffice it to say, this was one of the most candid episodes, where love was not just in the air but pretty much everywhere (this rhyme was as cliched as the couple, Shahid and Mira).

Dangal movie review: Aamir Khan and four lovely youngsters knock it out of the park

Sweaty bodies gripping each other in places strangers should not touch, violence as a form of entertainment, our baser human instincts getting official and mass encouragement – if you ask me why I cannot stand contact sports, these would top my answer.

Young Geeta and Babita Phogat have far more mundane reasons for hating wrestling: no girl they know does it, so why should they? Dangal is the story of their father’s bulldog-like determination to make them gold medal winners for India, and the girls’ own passage from aversion to passion for the sport.

Nitesh Tiwari’s third film as director is based on the real-life story of Haryana’s Mahavir Singh Phogat, patriarch and coach of one of the country’s most unusual sporting families: his daughters are all wrestling champions, the eldest two — Geeta and Babita — are Commonwealth Games gold medallists, and Geeta is the first Indian woman wrestler to have ever qualified for the Olympics.

This achievement is particularly striking considering that Haryana has one of India’s worst child sex ratios and a horrifying track record in the matter of female foeticide and infanticide.

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Dangal is about Mahavir’s single-mindedness which brings him into conflict with his wife, his community, the country’s sporting establishment and ultimately, even Geeta.

The first half of the film is riveting in every way imaginable. Mahavir (played by Aamir Khan) gives up his wrestling dreams to financially support his family. He then decides to turn his yet-to-be-born sons into wrestlers who will bring home golds for India. This dream too is crushed when he and his wife Daya have four daughters instead in succession.

One day when Geeta and Babita bash up a couple of local boys for abusing them, Mahavir sees the light. He forgot, he says, that a gold medal is gold whether won by a boy or a girl.

The songs neatly woven into the narrative in these scenes are catchy, their lyrics steeped in hilarious colloquialisms. The acting is singularly flawless all around.

Geeta and Babita as children are played by two brilliant debutants, Zaira Wasim and Suhani Bhatnagar, who knock it out of the park in every scene (if I may borrow a phrase from another game). And the storytelling matches up.

No effort is made to gloss over Mahavir’s flaws: he is a dictator at home and a terror outside. This is, without question, a traditional set-up where the husband/father’s word matters more than anyone else’s opinions or beliefs. Even the local people are afraid of him, but that does not stop them from gossipping about this man who, they are convinced, will drive his daughters to ruin by forcing them into a field they believe no woman should touch with a barge pole.

Jolly LLB 2 trailer: Akshay Kumar plays a bumbling lawyer-turned-hero in Subhash Kapoor’s film

The Jolly LLB 2 trailer is out. And from what it offers for our consumption, it seems to have capitalised on all of its leading man Akshay Kumar’s strengths.

Akshay Kumar in Jolly LLB 2

Jolly LLB 2, the trailer, starts off as a comic caper. We see Akshay’s character, a lawyer named Jolly, on a losing streak in court. He is prone to asking his witnesses filmi questions, like when Salman Khan is likely to get married; cry like (in the words of Saurabh Shukla, who plays the judge) Nirupa Roy, and generally engage in a whole lot of theatrics that have little or no intended effect.

He also has the gift of spinning grand, catchy lines — although his bombast finds barely any appreciation in the courtroom, or at home, with his long-suffering wife Pushpa (Huma Qureshi).

Things — and the tone of the film — change suddenly when a man is killed, and his wife approaches Jolly for help seeking justice.

Jolly quickly realises that this is not just about one man’s life being brutally cut short, the victim was but one pawn in a larger nexus that involves several powerful people. When Jolly fights against them, he realises that he has the fight of his life ahead. His adversary in court is the evil advocate Annu Kapoor.

There is one dialogue that is sure to be a crowd-pleaser: Jolly says in court that whoever said ‘everything is fair in love and war’ was the biggest fool — because then it would mean that those who decapitate soldiers at the border in the name of war, or those who fling acid at women in the name of love, are justified in carrying out their heinous acts.

The Jolly LLB 2 trailer packages everything that the ‘Akshay Kumar brand’ is known for — comic timing, action, dialogue delivery, romance and pop patriotism — in its two-and-a-half minutes of run-time.

Dear Zindagi movie review: Incredibly cute Alia, Shah Rukh Khan need a more consistent script

Dear Zindagi is clearly straining at the formula-ridden Bollywood straitjacket to give us a refreshing take on love and family, and for the most part it sticks to its guns. In the end, it does succumb to the pressure to bow to perceived public demand with passing mentions of what we have come to consider inevitable in every Hindi film, but the ride up to that point is so rewarding so often that it is tempting to look past those needless moments.

Writer-director Gauri Shinde’s Dear Zindagi comes four years after her remarkable debut with English Vinglish. If that film brought the charismatic Sridevi back to the big screen as a leading lady after a 15-year hiatus, this one redefines the concept of hero and heroine in Hindi cinema.

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Dear Zindagi revolves around Kaira (Alia Bhatt), a talented young cinematographer in Mumbai who despises her parents, appears confident in her romantic relationships yet is ridden with insecurities about the men she is drawn to. Those insecurities lead her to deliberately hurt her boyfriends before they get a chance to hurt her. It does not take a degree in psychology for a viewer to figure out her behaviour patterns, but Kaira is naturally confused by her fears. She ends up seeking professional help, and with some wise counsel, finds her answers herself.

When one of the biggest stars in the history of Bollywood appears on screen about 40 minutes after the opening credits, it goes without saying that this is an extremely unconventional film. Bhatt’s Kaira is the focal point of the story from start to finish whereas Shah Rukh Khan – playing her therapist Dr Jehangir Khan – surfaces towards the latter part of the first half and is nowhere to be seen in the concluding scene.

In a male-obsessed industry still tending to subordinate women in most mainstream projects, this is a decision that shows guts on Shinde’s part and Khan’s evident willingness to experiment. That other MegaKhan, Aamir, took a similar gamble with rewarding results in Taare Zameen Par (2007), and this is a winning aspect of Dear Zindagi too.

SRK gets less screen time but owns every scene he is a part of. In fact, Doc Jehangir enters the picture just as the film is sagging and appears to be repeating itself. His arrival immediately lifts Dear Zindagi. It sags again occasionally thereafter, but never when he is around. Besides, there is such warmth in Kaira’s interactions with the Doc that it envelops the rest of the narrative too.

It is worth mentioning that Khan in this new phase of his career when he is acknowledging his age gracefully, showing us a dash of gray and a whiff of wrinkles, is looking hot.

Kaira explodes in anger at one point when someone describes her as a pataka (firecracker). Well, that’s precisely what Bhatt is – a pataka with pizzazz and verve. What makes her so impactful is that she has had an internal journey with each of her roles so far, and not so far allowed that journey to be overshadowed by her attractive personality. Kaira is simultaneously exasperating and endearing, and Bhatt remains in control of that difficult blend throughout.

Still, the film needed more matter to wrap around these two lovely stars, and Dear Zindagi too often does not. Some of that comes from the failure to build up the satellite characters who are Kaira’s go-to people in times of need. We get that she is pre-occupied with her own emotional struggles to the point of not noticing their problems, but that is no excuse for the writing to neglect them too.

Who is Fatima (Ira Dubey) beyond being a mature, married friend? Who is Jackie (Yashaswini Dayama) beyond being a sweet, supportive, possibly younger friend? Who and what is that chubby male colleague beyond being chubby and funny? Who is her brother Kiddo (Rohit Saraf) whom she loves, beyond being her brother Kiddo whom she loves? Who and what are her boyfriends Sid (Angad Bedi), Raghuvendra (Kunal Kapoor) and Rumi (Ali Zafar) beyond being a good-looking restaurateur, a good-looking producer and a good-looking musician?

(Spoiler alert) And then there are those two oh-no moments towards the end – you know the kind that make you say, “Oh no, you too Dear Zindagi”? One of them seems to go along with the traditional view that characters played by a major male star and a major female star must inevitably be attracted to each other if they interact long enough in a story; the other underlines the essentiality of a man in a woman’s life to make her feel complete. Both are fleeting suggestions, but they pull down the film’s assuredness about what it is trying to say until then. Oh no, you too Dear Zindagi? (Spoiler alert ends)

For this and other reasons the film is inconsistent and intermittently lightweight. Yet, there is much else to recommend in Dear Zindagi.

The use of music, Amit Trivedi’s breezy tunes and Kausar Munir’s conversational lyrics are lots of fun, as are Kaira’s many amusing interactions with her friends. DoP Laxman Utekar fills the film with pretty frames of Goa beyond what we are used to seeing of that picturesque state, and is just as imaginative in his focus on Khan and Bhatt’s faces. Watch out for the closing shots of Bhatt on a beach.

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From an industry that usually treats parents as deities deserving to be worshipped, it is also unusual to get a story that does not ignore these gods’ feet of clay, especially considering that Dear Zindagi is co-produced by Karan “It’s All About Loving Your Parents” Johar.

Above all, it is nice to see a film making an effort to destigmatise patient-therapist interactions, in a portrayal far removed from the “paagalkhanas (lunatic asylums)” of an earlier Bollywood era.

Dear Zindagi then is a mixed bag. I loved SRK in the film, Bhatt is always a pleasure to watch, the story visits many themes that are uncommon in Bollywood, and several of the discussions are either witty or insightful or both. Overall though, the film comes across as being not enough because the writing needed more substance.

Dear Gauri Shinde,

You broke the mould with the delightful English Vinglish. Since you have defied convention in so many ways this time round too, you may as well have gone the entire distance without worrying about the consequences. We believe in you. Please do have faith in our faith in you.

Dangal’s first song ‘Haanikaarak Bapu’ champions everything that’s right with Aamir’s film

Comparison is the fuel of Bollywood at the moment, what with the many clashes (read: Mohenjo Daro and Rustom; ADHM and Shivaay) we have seen in 2016. However — and we never thought we would say this before its release — Aamir Khan’s  Dangal seems to be doing everything right, where Salman Khan’s Sultan went wrong.

Allow us to elucidate.

After its intriguing trailer, Dangal‘s first song, ‘Haanikarak Baapu‘ revolves around Aamir Khan coaching his daughters to become competent wrestlers. The song is shot and sung from the girls’ point of view, where they seen working out really hard, training their bodies to be wrestlers, and facing the wrath of Aamir, who is shown to be brutal with them in their training.

You don’t need us to tell you that Aamir can really act. He plays the stern father part with complete conviction, and it works well for a song that laments about this very fact.

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‘Haanikarak Baapu’ is peppered with dialogues; Sakshi Tanwar, who plays Aamir’s wife and mother to the girls, has her Haryanvi accent bang on. Aamir rocks a dad bod (an elderly man with a paunch and a flawed, yet desirable body, for the uninitiated) in this film, much like Salman in Sultan. However, he is a lot more nonchalant about it.

The song itself is catchy, and we’re sure kids will love it, but the real champion of ‘Haanikarak Baapu’, and by extension Dangal, is its nuanced and unbiased portrayal of the fact that it is actually two girls who Aamir trains; his daughters.

Force 2 movie review: Slick mix of action, John Abraham, suspense and an appealing villain

It is hard to find a film that does not promise an iota more of anything than what it intends to deliver, and then efficiently delivers on its promise. Force 2 is an intense action flick that serves up slick stunts and technical finesse to support its straight-laced storytelling style.

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Director Abhinay Deo’s latest film is a sequel to Nishikant Kamat’s Force (2011), which starred John Abraham and Genelia D’souza. That film in turn was a remake of the 2003 Tamil blockbuster Kaakha Kaakha directed by Gautham Menon, starring Suriya Sivakumar and Jyothika.

Force did not have Kaakha Kaakha’s emotional heft, but it did have gripping, not-before-seen action plus a villain worth living and dying for. Its Achilles heel was the casting of the heroine. Four years since Force, the franchise repeats the mix, giving us gripping action once again, a solid villain and a contentious heroine.

Abraham is back in Force 2 as a well-intentioned Mumbai policeman who does not play by the book because the book, in his opinion, can tie a good cop down. In the years since Yashvardhan lost his wife (played by D’souza) in the first film, he has remained as strong-willed, impertinent and determined to vanquish evil as he was back then. When a bunch of agents of the Indian intelligence agency RAW (Research and Analysis Wing) are exterminated in well-planned back-to-back killings, Yash enters the picture to find out why and to prevent further deaths.

The case lands him in beautiful Budapest. His partner and supposed boss in this mission is RAW officer KK, Kamaljit Kaur, played by Sonakshi Sinha. KK is to the always-defiant Yash what chalk is to cheese, so of course they clash repeatedly.

Together, they find themselves up against an antagonist who somehow manages to stay ahead of them every step of the way. Shiv Sharma (Tahir Raj Bhasin) is driven by an unexplained grouse against RAW and India. It is evident from the moment we meet him that Yash and KK will solve the case when they crack the reason for his animosity.

The purposefulness of this film’s writing is both its strength and its weakness. Parveez Shaikh and Jasmeet K. Reen are here to entertain us with suspense and unrelenting skirmishes – involving wit, guns and fisticuffs – and they do that well. If only they had paid more attention to the characterisation of Yash and KK, Force 2 would have been more than just that.

Yash relies almost entirely on our pre-existing investment in him from the previous film, on Abraham’s dimpled charm and the actor’s unapologetic willingness to be objectified without denting his dignity in the way Hindi cinema tends to do with women. However, we do not see enough of the character’s journey here, nothing much to add to the Yash we already know from Force.

The film’s potentially most interesting element is the most problematic. Leading ladies in Hindi cinema are rarely in positions of authority over leading men, and they are certainly rarely at the centre of hard-core action cinema. KK, then, is a fascinating proposition. Having envisioned her though, the writers give her short shrift.

Sections of Bollywood these days are taking a long, hard look at the way women have been straitjacketed in films since the 1970s. While some are ushering in genuine change, too many are struggling to pull themselves out of the morass of their own misogyny. Sinha earlier this year starred in Akira, which made a woman the central figure in an all-out action-reliant drama but then spent so little time on fleshing her out as a human being, that the most engaging character in the film turned out to be her arch enemy – who was a man … of course. Deo & Co are better in the sense that their KK is not a one-line concept note. We do get to see her for the person that she is. Still, she is a RAW agent who screws up on an important assignment in a way you know the male lead of this kind of Hindi film would not, and when it comes to the crunch, she still needs a man to be decisive on her behalf and have the last word.

The saving grace of the Yash-KK equation is that despite the hint of a romance between them, the film does not go too far in that direction. This is a good thing, since Sinha looks like a child in comparison with Abraham. The actress does a fair job of what she is given to do, but I wish she had been given more to do and the screenplay had been less patronising towards KK.

The best written character in Force 2 is Shiv Sharma, a criminal who is both cold-blooded and nuanced, a man we can fear yet empathise with without the film getting too maudlin in its portrayal of him. Tahir Raj Bhasin is wonderfully controlled in his execution of Shiv, making him as intriguing as Vidyut Jamwal’s Vishnu was in Force yet completely different.

Hrithik Roshan, Kangana Ranaut’s legal spat might have reached an official conclusion

March 2016 marked the beginning of one of the biggest controversies in Bollywood for the year.

Kangana Ranaut and Hrithik Roshan had slapped each other with legal notices through their respective attorneys, Rizwan Siddiquee and Deepesh Mehta.

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After Kangana made a comment about a ‘silly ex’ of hers, Hrithik Firstpost slapped a defamation notice against her that seemed to indicate that (he believed) the comment was directed at him. The fight got murky, and allegations were thrown from both the parties.

As had reported earlier, the crux is that an email ID, from which Kangana claimed to have received messages from Hrithik, seem to indicate that they were in a relationship. Hrithik, on the other hand, said he never had an email account with that ID, and that it was an impostor who had been communicating with Kangana
all along.

He even tweeted that he would rather have an affair with the Pope. Ouch.

An officer connected with the Cyber Crime Cell has been quoted by various news outlets as saying the emails came from a US server, and in the absence of data from there, no user could be identified, which for Kangana’s team was a win-win situation.

Ranveer Singh on working with Shahid in Padmavati: ‘Excited to collaborate with him’

After starring as the lead protagonist in Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Goliyon Ki Rasleela Ram-Leela (2013) and Bajirao Mastani (2015), Ranveer Singh is all set to play the antagonist Alauddin Khilji in Bhansali’s next period drama Padmavati.

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Bhansali’s Padmavati has just recently gone on floors and stars Deepika Padukone in the titular role as the beautiful queen of Chittor who plays a pivotal role in a battle.

While Ranveer Singh was already slotted to star in the film opposite his alleged real life girlfriend; the news of Shahid Kapoor joining the cast as Raja Ratan Rawal Singh — Rani Padmini’s husband also sparked rumours about a rivalry brewing between the leading men on sets.

While the shoot of Padmavati has just taken off; Ranveer Singh took time out to clarify a few things about his alleged rivalry with his costar in an exclusive interview with HT Cafe.

He told the daily that when he found out that the script required a third hero, he spoke to Bhansali that they “should get the best possible actor to play this part.” And I am very excited about Shahid [coming on board]. I think he’s a brilliant actor and an amazing inclusion to our team. He will add immense value.”

He also added the reports of any friction between the actors was not true since he and Shahid share a warm and affectionate equation with each other and also work out at the same gym. “I have tremendous amount of respect and admiration for his work and him as an actor. I have been watching his films even before I got into the industry. I am excited to be collaborating with him.” Singh elaborated in the interview.

This is not the only point of controversy surrounding Padmavati though. Reports had suggested that Sanjay Leela Bhansali had been asked to portray the historical drama with historical accuracy by a political organisation, or he wouldn’t be allowed in Gujarat.

Gautam Gambhir calls for India-Pakistan ties to be frozen till terrorism ends

New Delhi: Indian cricketer Gautam Gambhir on Tuesday called for a complete freeze on ties with Pakistan till the time cross-border terrorism does not end, saying that “Indian lives are more important than sports”.

“I would not even think of playing cricket with Pakistan. Indian lives are more important than sports,” Gambhir told mediapersons at New Delhi.

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Gambhir insisted that every Indian must put himself into the shoes of an army personnel before talking about keeping politics and sports separate.

“I absolutely endorse that we should not have any relation or ties with Pakistan until the time this cross border terrorism finishes. People need to put themselves in army’s shoes who have lost their kids, someone have lost their father, son.

“We can say this sitting in an AC room that cricket or bollywood should not be compared to politics as long as we don’t think ourselves as Indians, or think for our own countrymen. So I totally endorse that until the time we don’t secure our own Indians, our own countrymen, all other things can be kept aside,” the 35-year-old added.

Gambhir, who had recently made a comeback to the India Test team against New Zealand, is not the first Indian sportsperson to express his views on the issue of Pakistan.

India Test skipper Virat Kohli had condemned the Uri attack of September 18 on an army camp that claimed the lives of 19 Indian soldiers and former opener Virender Sehwag has also spoken out this on the social media.