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Monthly Archives: January 2017

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.

Akshay Kumar News18 380

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.”

Raees box office collection: Shah Rukh Khan’s film has Rs 21 crore opening

Shah Rukh Khan has proved yet again, his penchant for making a solid opening at the box office with his latest release Raees.

Raees, directed by Rahul Dholakia and produced by Excel Entertainment and Red Chillies, was expected to take in anything between Rs 17-19 crores in box office collections when it opened on Wednesday, 25 January 2017.

The predictions seemed in line with SRK’s previous releases — Fan (which brought in Rs 19 crores on opening day) and Dilwale (which had a Rs 21 crore opening).

As per early reports, which have taken into consideration the screen count (approximately 2,600) and occupancy levels (reported to be around 60 percent through the day), the Day 1 box office collection has been estimated at Rs 21 crore.

Trade observer Ramesh Bala tweeted out the early figures: “Looking at the early day one numbers, Raees seems to have outdone Kaabil by a huge margin at the box office: Raees — Rs 21 crore; Kaabil — Rs 7.5 crore.

Akshay Kumar News18 380

1 figures for Raees at Rs. 20.5 crore, stating: “Considering the fact that Wednesday was a regular working day with the only advantage being the big holiday on Thursday (Republic Day), due to which evening and night shows were better than normal, Raees has clearly taken a very positive start at the box office.”

While official figures are still awaited, it is Day 2 figures for both Raees and Kaabil that will be keenly watched. It remains to be seen how much the public holiday will benefit the business of both films.

Kaabil box office collection: Hrithik starrer earns Rs 10.43 cr on Day 1

The stakes were high for Hrithik Roshan starrer Kaabil, when it opened in theatres across the world on Wednesday, 25 January.

Hrithik Roshan in 'Kaabil'

Not only is this a home production for the Roshans, it was also a chance for both director Sanjay Gupta (whose last film Jazbaa was not a success) and Hrithik (who had a box office debacle in Mohenjo Daro on his hands in 2016) to redeem themselves.

To complicate matters further, there was the high-profile clash with Shah Rukh Khan’s mass entertainer Raees that was bound to eat into the business Kaabil expected to do.

On opening day, Raees raced ahead  with a Rs 21 crore opening — as expected for the SRK starrer.

On the other hand, Kaabil scored a Rs 10.43 crore box office collection on Day 1.

An official statement released by the Kaabil team read: “Kaabil opened to 40 percent theatre share in multiplexes as well as a smaller share of the single screens yesterday. It collected Rs 10.43 crore on Day One… The film is expected to grow exponentially over the Republic Day weekend on the strength of the positive audience reactions.”

Trade website Bollywood Hungama reported that Kaabil‘s Rs 10+ crore opening has made it among Hrithik’s top-five day one earners, providing these figures for his films and their respective day 1 box office collections:

Bang Bang: Rs 27.54 crore

Agneepath: Rs 23 crore

Krrish 3: Rs 19 crore

Kaabil: Rs 10.43 crore

Kites: Rs 10 crore

Mohenjo Daro: Rs. 8.87 crore

As with Raees, the Republic Day public holiday and subsequent weekend will prove to be crucial for Kaabil‘s business as well.

Bengaluru molestation: Backlash to Akshay Kumar’s message shows it’s catch-22 situation for stars

On the morning of 9 January 2017, Meryl Streep made a blistering anti-Trump speech at the 74th Golden Globes without mentioning the President-elect. During her acceptance speech for the Cecil B DeMille Awards, she called out Trump for mocking a disabled person and warned that the press would need to be defended. As expected, the same people who laughed at Akshay for using a public platform to address a societal issue lauded Meryl.

Akshay Kumar. File Photo

Bollywood actors are always criticised for not taking a stand on issues that are relevant and volatile. It’s just that when they do address an issue, their opinions are ridiculed and their motives questioned. And, don’t forget what happened to Aamir Khan and Shah Rukh Khan when they spoke up.

Celebrities in our country don’t have basic freedom of expression.  They are both expected to have and not have any opinions. If they do express an opinion, they shouldn’t have ever done or said anything contrary to that opinion. Also, they shouldn’t have a film releasing around the time of the said opinion being shared.

A friend pointed out that Akshay has Jolly LLB 2 releasing next month so obviously this video was a PR exercise. She added, “When he does films like Rowdy Rathore and Housefull where women are objectified, how can he expect his audience to respect women?” Last year, Katrina Kaif spoke about gender equality and violence against women during a conference in Delhi. The first reaction I heard was “How can Katrina talk about gender empowerment when she dances suggestively in skimpy clothes to ‘Chikni Chameli‘ and ‘Sheila ki Jawani‘?”.

Apparently, actors like Akshay or Katrina have no right to speak about gender issues. ‘Every job is a job’ does not apply to Bollywood’s actors. The argument is that actors have a large sphere of influence. Hence, we expect our actors to be actor-activists. And, that brings us right back to the backlash they face every single time. Ever so often the repercussions go beyond abuses online or being topics of discussion on primetime news. If Bollywood is too scared to speak up, it’s because their statements could (and have, in the past) harmed the industry financially. This is not a fear that Hollywood lives with.

During the Actress Roundtable of 2015, Kalki Koechlin was spot on while explaining an actor’s social responsibility. “People always say that actors have a responsibility… an actor has the responsibility to deliver in their job as an actor, just as much as a banker in theirs. For every actor to be an activist on every topic is ridiculous,” she said.

Every time we look to our celebrities to use their influence to impact large scale societal change, it is important to remember that they are only human. Like us, they are bad, and at times lazy activists. When a celebrity speaks out, it’s out of sheer frustration and anger at what is happening in the country. Again, that reaction is no different from how anyone of us would react.

Most of us don’t have the bandwidth to comment about everything. What an actor chooses to take a stand on comes from a personal space. It has nothing to do with his/her movies. In his video message Akshay said, “I am ashamed to be a human being today. I was returning from my New Year’s vacation with my four-year-old daughter in my arms when I learnt about the molestation incident in Bangalore (sic). I don’t know how did you all feel about it, but my blood started boiling. I am a daughter’s father but even if I was not one, I feel if a society cannot respect its women, it doesn’t deserve to be called a humane society. What’s most disgusting is that people have the guts to justify such shameful acts by criticising women for their choice of clothes.”

Everything Bollywood does is not for publicity. Among the many causes he supports, Akshay, along with Youth Sena leader Aaditya Thackeray, has been involved in the Women’s Self Defense Centre (WSDC) in Mumbai where women are given free self-defense training. Launched in 2014, WSDC offers a course that lasts for a month after which women have the option of enrolling for free advance classes. There are plans to open 100 more WSDCs across the country in the next five years.

Akshay Kumar doesn’t need a video message or a WSDC to generate publicity for his next release or for himself. Nor does Katrina Kaif need to speak at a women’s empowerment conference to generate work. Like you and me, Bollywood celebrities are not obligated to be activists. They do it because they are concerned citizens.

The only people we need to question about social responsibility are our elected representatives. They are the only ones who directly benefit from airing their views. So, leave Bollywood alone.

Don’t expect Bollywood stars to pull a Meryl Streep: Honesty’s never a virtue in the film industry

On the contrary, more often than not they succumb to political and ideological bullying – never standing up for their beleaguered colleagues or fellow citizens. That these stars, despite their hefty celebrity statuses, have ever so often failed to defend fellow actors who are hounded by fundamentalists and government alike, is indeed a sad commentary on the culture of the Bombay film industry.

Mercifully, not all celebrities across the world, are cut from the same cloth. When confronted with bullies, not all of them genuflect or become tongue–tied. Nor do they fear to take the powerful head on.

Meryl Streep poses in the press room with the Cecil B. DeMille award at the 74th annual Golden Globe Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on Sunday, Jan. 8, 2017, in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

This Sunday night, the celebrated actor Meryl Streep, presented an inspiring template for the kind of outrage celebrities can put on display.

While accepting her lifetime achievement award at the Golden Globes, Streep turned the occasion into one which addressed many of the anxieties that have been racking America since the Presidential election this November. Speaking out against the dangerous and discriminatory politics practised by US president–elect Donald Trump, she said:

“Hollywood is crawling with outsiders and foreigners. And if we kick them all out you’ll have nothing to watch but football and mixed martial arts which are not the arts. An actor’s only job is to enter the lives of people who are different from us, and let you feel what that feels like. And there were many, many, many powerful performances this year that did exactly that. Breathtaking, compassionate work.”

In a grand, eloquent sweep, the veteran actor gestured towards the challenges awaiting the acting fraternity, and many other diverse sections of the American public. She told the gathering how Trump’s imitation of a disabled reporter “broke her heart. … I still can’t get it out of my head, because it wasn’t in a movie. It was real life. And this instinct to humiliate, when it’s modeled by someone in the public platform, by someone powerful, it filters down into everybody’s life, because it kinda gives permission for other people to do the same thing,” she said.

Faced with Meryl Streep’s speech, one cannot but consider how strikingly different the conduct of Bollywood stars has been when it comes to dealing with similar challenges; how abjectly they have failed in not just defending their own rights as a collective community of actors – but also thereby ending up backing retrogressive fiats by default.

Very recently we were witness to the manner in which Raj Thackeray’s Navnirman Chitrapat Karmachari Sena (MNS) bullied top Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan, and director Karan Johar, into giving an assurance that they would not work with Pakistani actors in future. The orchestrated uproar over the release of Khan’s film Raees this September, which had Mahira Khan, a Pakistani actress in a lead role, pushed Shah Rukh Khan into offering Thackeray an assurance that “they will not hire any Pakistani actor till the situation between the two countries (India and Pakistan) improved.”

Shalini Thackeray, general secretary of MNS Chitrapat Karamchari Sena, went to the extent of saying: “It is not a veiled threat. It’s a direct threat to producers like SRK and Karan Johar who take Pakistani actors in their movies.” Even in the face of such unabashed bullying, Bollywood kept totally silent.

The same way it kept mum when the Modi government attacked actor Aamir Khan last year for his comments on the prevailing culture of intolerance in the country.

The discomfiting truth is that in almost all such cases of covert and overt persecution, actors are left to fight lonely battles (that is if they themselves do not rush to placate the bullies,) while the industry heavyweight lapse into silence as a means of self–preservation and self–advancement.

In stark contrast to such servility, Meryl Streep spoke out not on just on behalf of her own fraternity – but also defended the interests of the larger fraternity of others who are feeling ever more alienated and threatened by Trump’s politics.

Her speech, in its wide scope, was political in content. “Disrespect invites disrespect, violence incites violence. And when the powerful use their position to bully others we all lose,” she said. Addressing the media, the actor called on the press to hold the government accountable and for the public to support independent reporting. She urged the “famously well-heeled Hollywood Foreign Press” to support the Committee to Protect Journalists. Saying “we’re going to need them, and they’ll need us to safeguard the truth.”

In a strangely fitting way, Streep’s speech comes days after the death of Indian actor Om Puri who, not only championed progressive causes throughout his career but was mercilessly hounded by the powers that be last year for his remarks on the controversy on hiring Pakistani actors.

Unsurprisingly, he found little vocal support within his own community. All too often, only the Anupam Khers of Bollywood are heard speaking out aloud – and that speaks volumes for the culture that seems to dominate the film industry in India.

Salman Khan acquitted in Jodhpur for Arms Act case: The actor has paid his dues ‘deerly’ let it go now

It would have been dead of old age by now.

That Salman and company shot the deer 18 years ago is pretty much an accepted truism.

Salman Khan. Image courtesy News18

The Jodhpur court ruling that Khan be given the benefit of doubt makes one wonder where the doubt is? Unless the chinkara died of fear or was so overwhelmed by the star’s presence the bullet wound in his body would have wiped out any doubt that it was slain by gunfire. Bullets have a funny way of leaving the barrel of a weapon and striking the target they were meant for. The slug can also be traced back to the weapon and through its rifling and the groove marks be 100 percent identified as to which weapon it was chambered into.

It took eighteen years to get to this point and underscore the doubt. Says very little for our justice system but in a nation where ‘shikar’ not so long ago was an accepted practice of the royals, the zamindars, the nawabs, the armed forces and the landed gentry and sundry VIPs the harassment and mental agony of 18 years certainly serves as a severe and undeserved penalty and punishment for this actor. Just the pressure of never knowing if you are going to be locked up and being shunted from town to town makes the dues paid for his crime paid in full and with pernicious interest.

We go into depression if a bank calls about an overdue credit card payment by a day. A missed EMI sends us into a panic.

For 18 years we hounded this man just to let him off the hook with timid dispensation.

The hypocrisy is astounding. And widespread. On the way to Shimla you pass a town called Solan. On one of the U turns one used to get the finest venison and partridge pickle in the world. It probably still is available even though to the chosen few.

The armed forces regularly shot down sambhars and cheetals for a bara khana (feast) for the brigade commander and they often used semi-automatic weapons fired into the herd. Plump black or brown partridge may be officially banned but are probably trapped and still served on executive and government officials’ tables. If fish was on the menu the use of a 90 grenade in a pond would stun a few dozen freshwater fish in a balloon of water caused by the explosion and also destroy the eco-system of that pond which probably took years to form.

No one thought anything of these exercises. From Jhansi to Gwalior to Jabalpur to the forests of Rajasthan to the foothills of Kumaon, Jammu Tawi and Udhampur, from Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh’s lush forests hunting was a sport.

You did not have to like it but it was a sport.

Even the laws are archaic. Shooting deer may be illegal but the nilgai which is now classified as vermin for the crops it destroys is running riot because of the security in its name. it is not bovine cattle, but belongs to the antelope family. In 2016 Bihar ordered wild boar and nilgai to be culled because of their nuisance. Woe betide anyone who might shoot a nilgai especially if it becomes a caste thing. Try explaining that National Geographic calls it an antelope when the lynch mob is stringing you up.

Certainly, a law was broken in Salman Khan’s case but you have to be particularly vindictive to think he should be punished further.

Eighteen years of harassment for suspected killing of a deer.

In a country where the walls of every lodge, every ‘bara sahib’ club, every armed forces ‘koi hai’ mess are covered with the heads and skins of wildlife this robbery of a man’s peace of mind is an injustice in itself.

Om Puri: His life, dreams, struggles and accomplishments in his own words

I used to work as a clerk at a government office in Punjab. I was paid a salary of Rs 600 per month. I decided to leave the job, and pursue a career in acting. I knew that irrespective of how I fared, I would do better than making six hundred rupees. So I quit the job. At the time, it was unheard of. Everybody wanted government jobs. I studied acting for five years, including a course at the National School of Drama (NSD) in Delhi, and only after I was certain that I had the requisite skill, I moved to Mumbai. But it took not less than thirteen years after I decided on pursuing a career in the film industry that stability finally found me.”

These are Om Puri’s words in an interview to me.

Om Puri had earlier sought bail after being accused of domestic violence. PTI

An internationally acclaimed actor, a Padma Shri recipient, one of the pioneers of the world of parallel cinema, a stellar performer whose versatility transcended borders – Om Puri, who breathed his last in his Mumbai home on Friday, bagged several credits during his celebrated career spanning over four decades. But behind the tales of glory was a man who, as per his own admission, had trained hard to acquire the skill he was distinguished for.

He had struggled hard to survive in Mumbai before the film industry let him carve his space.

My interaction with Mr Om Puri was on a morning in August, 2015. I was busy with research for my recently published book, ‘The Front Page Murders: Inside the Serial Killings that Shocked India.’ The book, which is the true story of a serial killer who would murder and hack Bollywood strugglers for wealth in Mumbai, 2012, required me to speak to film industry insiders about the Bollywood struggler life in Mumbai, their passion and its pitfalls.

My study took me to actor Om Puri, recipient of two national awards then, but a man of long-standing perseverance, his story barely told. Since I had been a senior crime correspondent with a leading national daily, availing Mr Puri’s mobile number through an entertainment journalist in the city was not a difficult task. But I knew that getting him to talk would be tricky. He was a Bollywoodwallah after all, and to journalists, no one has more dolled up egos than this breed of artists. I, however, was in for a surprise.

‘Haan ji,’ Mr Puri answered his phone.

After I introduced myself, inquiring if it was a good time to talk, Mr Puri informed that he was on his way somewhere, and would be happy to spare a few minutes. Pleasantly surprised, I rolled out my questions, and he gladly detailed.

Recollecting the time when he first moved to the city of slums and skyscrapers to chase his Bollywood dream, Puri said:

“I was 26 years old when I first came to Mumbai. I did not know anyone here except for actor Naseeruddin Shah. He was my senior at NSD. So upon reaching here, I went straight to him. He was living in a rented room then, and allowed me to stay with him for two weeks. We were sharing the room, but the landlady did not approve of it. I was staying as a guest, and wasn’t paying rent. So she took me out. Through a friend, Naseer then found a paying guest accommodation for me off Hill Road in Bandra. It was a bungalow, and I was given one room with only a cot, one almirah, a table, and a chair. That was 1976. I paid a rent of Rs 175 per month. One and a half years later, the landlady’s son got married. They wanted the room, and I had to move out.”

The veteran artist recollected that after leaving the bungalow, he approached a hostel in Bandra. However, the authorities were skeptical about letting him stay because they had a bad experience with an actor before, and didn’t allow accommodation to Bollywood aspirants anymore. Puri tried to convince them, saying that he wasn’t any other run-away in the city, whiling his time away, that he was extremely serious about his Bollywood dream, and was working hard towards it. But the hostel authorities wouldn’t budge.

I did not give up hope, and landed at the hostel every other week. I had to have a roof. Eventually, they agreed, and I stayed there for two years, sharing my room with another boy. Aakrosh released in 1981. The film was very well received by art producers, but it didn’t impress the film industry. I moved to several other places before Manmohan Shetty’s Ardh Satya was released in 1983. (Om Puri’s career took off with this film; he also won the National Film Award for Best Actor for this role.) Mr Shetty told me that he had a one-BHK flat lying vacant in Chembur, and that I should move there until I get my own place. Things were good thereafter – eight years after I moved to Mumbai, and thirteen years after I chose to pursue a career in acting.

During our conversation, Puri spoke extensively about how difficult the life of a Bollywood struggler is in Mumbai, how these men and women flock to the city with dreams of the silver screen, hopes of that one celluloid break, and how they end up getting exploited by men who have set up businesses only to cash on their innocent dreams.

Bollywood aspirants need to be careful about falling prey to criminal elements in Mumbai. They should only visit established offices, and not believe any random person who boasts of connections in the film industry. The struggler’s life is very difficult here.  When you come to the city with dreams of the film industry, the biggest problem is survival. Mumbai is an expensive city. When youngsters approach me for roles, the first thing I ask them is if they can afford staying in the city for at least a year without a stable income, if their families can afford it. If yes, they can go ahead and try their luck.

Talking about his own luck, Puri said that he had worked hard to turn fate in his favour.

“Bollywood aspirants usually come to this city, looking at people like us. And when they see someone like me, particularly, it gives them hope. They think ke yaar, Om Puri jaisa aadmi, jiske face pe daag hai, naak bada mota sa hai, Irfan Khan bhi koi aisa good-looking nahi lagta, agar yeh log kar sakte hai, toh hum toh inse better dikhte hai. (They think that if a man like Om Puri, who has spots all over his face, a fat nose, Irfan Khan is also not very good-looking, if they can make it, we are better looking than them.) But they don’t realise that we have worked hard to study acting before coming to Mumbai. I came here after training for five years.”

Although I haven’t spoken to the actor since this conversation, I know that he was proud of his eccentric looks, and his achievements in the face-obsessed film industry despite them.

“I have no regrets at all. I have done quite well for myself. I didn’t have a conventional face, but I have done well, and I am proud of it,” Puri wrote on Twitter a fortnight ago.

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.

Masaan actress Shweta Tripathi is back in Haraamkhor: Why she stays away from ‘mindless’ films

Mumbai: Her maiden feature film Masaan made critics take note of her performance and actress Shweta Tripathi says she wants to stay away from “mindless” cinema where she is reduced to being looked upon as an object.

Shweta garnered rave reviews for the 2015 Neeraj Ghaywan film where she played the upper-caste lover of Vicky Kaushal’s Dalit character.

Shweta Tripathi. Image from News 18

The actress finds the cinema of Zoya Akhtar “commercial, yet not insulting your intelligence”, but does not understand mindless films.

“I dont watch the kind of cinema where people say leave your brain at home and watch. What is even that? I would never want to be treated as a prop, to be looked on as an object just because of my gender. That I am very sure about,” Shweta told PTI.

“If I am doing something which is making a difference in the story then Ill do it. But not because I am wearing certain clothes and doing nothing,” she added.

Though the National Award-winning Masaan became her first big release, Shweta had previously worked in the short film Sujata, part of Shorts — an anthology of five short films.

It was directed by Shlok Sharma, with whom she is now back with the latest Haraamkhor.

The film chronicles a relationship between a 14-year-old girl, played by Shweta and her tuition teacher, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, in a small town.

For the actress, the subject was never an issue and she insists she found out many cases like these once she started talking to people about this.

“It never worried me at all. But this happens everywhere. When I got out of my cocoon, I realised these are the stories which need to be told. I didn’t think it will run into any controversy, or it’ll have any problem with the Censor Board.”

The film, however, did run into trouble with the Examining Committee of Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC), which declined to pass the movie as the theme was “unacceptable.”

“When that happened, I used to call Shlok every now and then. More than frustrating, it was heartbreaking. When there was a meeting with the board, I went there even though I wasn’t needed.”

“When you are trying to do something right, tell an important story to the society without the intention of titillating, then you do ask ‘why us’? That moment came when the film was stuck.

Nervous, but also very excited: Deepika Padukone on her Hollywood debut with Vin Diesel

Mumbai: Actress Deepika Padukone says she is nervous and excited about her Hollywood debut xXx: Return of Xander Cage that stars Vin Diesel.

“I am really excited. This is my Hollywood debut. I am very nervous, but I am also very excited. And today is the beginning to that journey. Hopefully, we will be coming to India soon,” Deepika said on 1 January before leaving for abroad to kick-start the film’s promotion.

deepika-vin-380-getty

“In terms of promotion, first we will head to Mexico. As far as the release is concerned, we will first release the movie in India. While shooting the film, I discussed this with my unit… that it would be great to first release it in India and I am happy that it is finally happening,” she added.

After her Hollywood debut later this month, Deepika will be known for being more than a Bollywood actress.

Talking about it, she said: “I think I’d like to be known as a good person and a good actor. But I also feel very proud that I get to represent my country, especially in this kind of action franchise of the film.”

“I am really excited. I am also very sure we will enjoy this film because of its content. There is a lot of action, adventure in the film, which we have not seen in Indian films before. So, I can’t wait to bring this movie to India and show it to everyone.”