Tag Archives: film

Deepika Padukone starts promotional tour for Hollywood debut film xXx: Return of Xander Cage

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

Deepika with 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 the US to kick-start the film’s promotion.

“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 Hindi film 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.”

xXx: Return of Xander Cage, helmed by DJ Caruso, also stars Donnie Yen and Samuel L Jackson.

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.

Jagga Jasoos trailer: Ranbir, Katrina rock a goofy avatar in this dreamy Anurag Basu film

Ranbir Kapoor says literally one line in the entire trailer of Anurag Basu’s Jagga Jasoos (and Katrina Kaif says nothing at all) and yet the trailer speaks volumes about the film.

Before we spill our judgment of the trailer, here’s something one must acknowledge.

It’s a well made trailer, especially at a time when trailers have started to present the entire film on a platter. It’s one that doesn’t reveal too much, but much like a kaleidoscope, through fast moving images and moments, reveals the tone of the film, and what we can expect.

We are told from the official synopsis of Jagga Jasoos that a young detective sets out to find his missing father, and an unusual series of events unfold.

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The trailer begins with an introduction to Ranbir and Katrina’s characters and while the film seems to be shot all over India, they first meet in Manipur. Ranbir is a quirky guy, and in essense, so is Katrina, and we are taken through a dreamy, whirlwind journey — with ostrich rides, bike rides through the dessert, races with elephants, and much more adventure.

The look and feel of the film gives you a whiff of Basu’s earlier movie with Ranbir, Barfi! mostly because Ranbir is seen in school clothes and as a hosteler. But then we see him in multiple avatars. Not much is revealed about ages, or any other character details.

However, with Disney producing the film, you definitely get a sense of watching a children’s film. Whether that is a pro or con for Jagga Jasoos, only time will tell.

Amid all the visuals, the last 30 seconds of the trailer *finally* reveal something about Katrina and Ranbir’s chemistry.

From Rajneeti to Ajab Prem Ki Gajab Kahaani, this is the first time they looked relaxed as two goofy but affable lead protagonists. Maybe the hype around their personal life has helped them on-screen much like Jab We Met worked for Shahid, and Kareena Kapoor.

Force 2 is a refreshing action film from John Abraham, despite its faux-patriotism

Right away let’s establish one thing, and this will likely hold true for a few years at least: Popular Indian cinema is going to milk patriotism and pride in the nation as much as it can, given the direction in which national discourse has swung. (Check your WhatsApp forwards for a quick confirmation.)

No genre of popular cinema is going to tap into this more than action entertainers, because nationalism is a natural ally of grandiose masculinity and brute physical power, attributes that we’re trying to ascribe to a nation we, strangely enough, call our ‘Motherland’.

Expectedly, given that it gets to play with a big action star as a cop, Force 2 does it with élan.

At one point John Abraham’s ACP Yashvardhan declares that the days are gone when India couldn’t carry out covert operations on foreign soil. ‘Ab hum ghus ke maarte hain’, he exclaims. Translation: ‘Now, we barge in and kill our enemies!’ (Does anyone else feel that ‘surgical strike’ has the potential to be a smashing new drinking game? Surely we deserve a pun on ‘shot’.)

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Once you accept that we’re going to see this quite often now — at least until India (as a collective consciousness) has more important things to worry about than projecting a strong masculine image to the world — and once you accept that cinema is going to assimilate popular culture in order to maximise footfalls and profit, you might just find Force 2 to be a refreshingly decent actioner, unlike the ludicrously overcooked action films Hindi cinema in particular frequently subjects us to. (I’m looking at you, Dilwale and Shivaay.)

For starters, Force 2 is set in a world where everyone doesn’t speak Hindi (imagine). The film is based primarily in Budapest, and mercifully, Hungarians and other foreign nationals in the film get to keep their language and not converse in awkward Hindi with the Indian lead pair. The foreign language lines are subtitled in Hindi, which is encouraging. It’s a sign of not taking the audience for granted, while also ensuring that the audience does not remain a passive viewer throughout. (In general, this would be a good time to brush up on our Hindi reading abilities, please note.)

This trait, of not taking the audience for granted, runs through the film.

The plot itself is standard international espionage fare for a seasoned viewer of Hollywood’s self-aggrandising CIA movies. (Stories of the CIA blatantly using Hollywood, for something that goes beyond even propaganda, make for a fun read if you love conspiracy theories.) However, beyond that, the film actually does a good job of not dumbing everything down.

In fact, Force 2 can well be compared with any commercial film with an espionage backdrop from anywhere in the world, and it would hold its own because at the heart of it, the film’s intent is clear. There exist different types of patriotism, and even service to one’s nation cannot be seen through a monochrome  prism. It blurs the lines between what we call ‘massy’ and ‘classy’, keeps the setting contemporary, and serves up a fairly engaging plot all the way till the end.

Credit for this must go to director Abhinay Deo, who has always displayed a sensibility that is far more evolved than most other filmmakers. Incidentally, he happens to be one of India’s finest advertising filmmakers. He has made plenty ads over the years that showcase his ability to use the visual medium effectively without having to spell everything out. Watch one particular scene early in the film, where an Indian RAW agent is assassinated while riding a motorbike. It is a brutal scene that eschews gore in favour of pure imagery to make its point.

The hiccups in Force 2’s screenplay mostly come from trying to straddle that line between what’s right and what sells, and this is something even the most hardened cynic must grant to at least the producer of the film.

So, you have an Indian police officer appointing himself for a mission abroad involving the death of RAW agents. You have a perfectly made-up woman, from RAW no less, who partners with him on this mission. And you have a charming, baby-faced villain who oozes snarky charm. A few convenient liberties here and there are bumps in a film that otherwise keeps you interested for the most.

A special mention for John Abraham here.

The man does best in roles where he doesn’t have to emote, so he sticks to them. Back in 2013, when the Congress was in power, he co-produced and starred in Madras Café, which took a more than sympathetic view of (if not one that was downright in favour of) Rajiv Gandhi. This year alone, he has had Dishoom and Force 2, both of which firmly take a position aligned with the current government’s rhetoric.

Here’s a man who plays his cards right, and it explains why he’s still able to continuously churn out films as producer and solo lead, even if some of them don’t emerge winners at the box office.

Credit for Force 2 must go to the man who is at the receiving end of enough jokes about his acting talent, or lack thereof. Yes, we’re still a long way off from giving the world a global action film that we can be proud of, but Force 2 seems like a surgical baby-strike in the right direction.

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.

Krrish 4 release date changed; clash with Shah Rukh Khan-Aanand L Rai film averted

Box office clashes isn’t exactly good news for anybody, least of all the producers. While Diwali will see the mother of all box office clashes with Karan Johar’s Ae Dil Hai Mushkil locking horns with Ajay Devgn’s Shivaay, there’s some respite coming in as another box office war has been averted.

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Filmmaker Rakesh Roshan, whose production Krrish 4 was all set to release on Christmas 2018 alongside Shah Rukh Khan’s project with director Aanand L Rai, has decided to back out of the clash. The filmmaker stated that he arrived at this decision since Khan had announced his film earlier and it would be “unethical” for him to release the fourth instalment of his superhero film alongside.

Talking about it in an interview to Bombay Times , Roshan said, “It is unethical for me to release my film on this date as Shah Rukh has already announced is movie…We’re here to make films, not create controversies. As far as Shah Rukh is concerned, he is like a younger brother to me.”

However, the Raees vs Kaabil clash on Republic Day 2017 remains unaffected. Khan’s Raees was slated to hit the theatres on Eid this year with Salman Khan’s Sultan. But Shah Rukh Khan postponed Raees’ release toJanuary 26 – a date that had already been booked by the Roshans for the release of their upcoming thriller, Kaabil.

Roshan stated that he will not move Kaabil’s release date ahead as he had announced his project way before Khan.

Salman Khan and Kabir Khan are teaming up for a fourth film together after Tubelight

Salman Khan is fast becoming director Kabir Khan’s lucky mascot. Or should we say, vice versa?

The duo gave us two blockbusters in Ek Tha Tiger (2012) and Bajrangi Bhaijaan (2015), and the runaway success of these projects led them to join hands again for Tubelight, which is currently under production, first in Ladakh and now in Manali.

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Now, if recent reports are to be believed, Salman Khan and Kabir Khan will be teaming up again for Atul and Alvira Agnihotri’s home production.

Rajkumar Santoshi was to reportedly direct the movie but things did not fall into place. It was then Salman who recommended that Kabir take the project on.

DNA reports, “Salman has immense faith in Kabir as a filmmaker. When Atul and Alvira were looking out for a director to helm their next project, Salman suggested Kabir’s name. He has become like a family member to the Khans.”

The actor and the filmmaker are currently shooting the second schedule of Tubelight. After its completion, the director will move on to his next – a film, based on the 1983 Cricket World Cup victory of India, which will be produced by Phantom Films. The cricket drama is expected to go on floors later this year.

As for the actor, Yash Raj Films recently announced Tiger Zinda Hai, the sequel to Ek Tha Tiger, starring Khan and Katrina Kaif. The movie will be directed by Ali Abbas Zafar of Sultan fame and will hit the theatres on Christmas 2017.

Ajay Devgn on clash with Karan Johar: ‘Don’t waste my time thinking about anybody else’s film’

This has been the season of clashes.

It all started last year in December with Bajirao Mastani and Dilwale clashing, which was followed by rumours of a big clash between Raees and Sultan. However, we are guessing Shah Rukh Khan decided to play it safe after Bajirao Mastani did better box office business, and Sultan had a solo release.

The clash between Mohenjo Daro and Rustom is still underway, with Rustom emerging as a winner .

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However, one of the biggest clashes of this year has to been between Karan Johar’s directorial venture Ae Dil Hai Mushkil and Ajay Devgn’s directorial venture Shivaay, both of which are releasing on Diwali this year.

While both Johar and Devgn have not spoken about the clash till now, Ajay has finally addressed the elephant in the room, in this DNA interview. Not known to mince his words, Devgn has been very straightforward about his stance.

“I don’t waste my time thinking about anybody else’s film. I want to concentrate on my film because, eventually, it’s the product that speaks. Why break my concentration? I’m only concerned about what I’m making,” said Ajay Devgn upon being asked if he is “prepared” for the clash with Karan Johar’s film.

He further said that when they announced the release date for Shivaay, nobody else was releasing a film at the time, and that it’s their [Dharma Productions] prerogative if they want to cash in on a good day. Devgn further informed that when he reached out to Fox Star India (who are co-producing Ae Dil Hai Mushkil) they refused to budge on the release.

This is especially a delicate clash because Devgn’s wife and actress Kajol, and Karan Johar have been thick since even before they started their careers. There have been reports of a fall out between the two since the clash.

Both these films, Shivaay and Ae Dil Hai Mushkil are very crucial to Ajay Devgn and Karan Johar respectively. This is Ajay Devgn’s second film as a director after 2008’s U Me Aur Hum and his last film was DrishyamShivaay has taken close to two years to script and make and therefore its stakes are very high.

Karan Johar, on the hand, directed his last film (Student of the Year) in 2012, and has been producing films since then. His lead actor in the film is Ranbir Kapoor, whose last few films have not been successful. Anushka Sharma is, for all practical purposes, the most “bankable” star in his film.

This must be something that plagues Johar since he was the one who conveniently “dropped” Imran Khan from his favourites list after he stopped delivering hits.

Given this background on the film, is it strange that Johar is making no sounds about his film. There are no hashtags, no first looks, no songs, not even Instagram posts about it. Just radio silence. Should we be expecting an announcement of a shift in release soon?

Kabali box office: Rajinikanth’s film earns Rs 110 crore in three days, beats Sultan

The mixed critical reception to Superstar Rajinikanth’s Kabali certainly hasn’t affected its box office business any.

With most shows in the film’s first week sold out at the theatres, that Kabali would score a great box office opening wasn’t in doubt.

A poster for Rajinikanth's 'Kabali'

Still, when the numbers began to roll in, there was a sense of shock at the phenomenal amounts of money Kabali had managed to collect.

After the numbers for its opening weekend collections have been tabulated, Kabali’s box office earnings from Friday, 22 July (when it released) to Sunday, 24 July, amount to a cool Rs 110 crore.

With its opening weekend collection, Kabali has now beaten Sultan — the most recent box office behemoth — which had earned Rs 100 crore in three days. Other films that have repeated the feat? Happy New Year, Dhoom 3, Bajrangi Bhaijaan and Prem Ratan Dhan Paayo.

On Firstpost: As Kabali-Sultan comparisons are drawn, these are the numbers Rajinikanth starrer has to beat

Kabali released in the original Tamil and dubbed versions in Telugu and Hindi in nearly 3,500 screens across the country. As per trade sources, the film’s net box office collections would be roughly Rs 47 cr from Tamil Nadu, Rs 20 cr from the states of Andhra and , Rs 16 cr from Karnataka, Rs 8 cr from Kerala and Rs 19 cr from the rest of India (Hindi+Tamil versions). That comes to a total of Rs 110 cr from India theatricals.

The box office numbers from Tamil Nadu, of course, have been the hugest. The 47-crore opening weekend collection is the highest ever, for any film in the state. Kabali has been exempted from entertainment tax here, and there were many allegations that outside of Chennai city, tickets were sold from Rs 300 to 500 over the weekend. Most screens had six-seven shows on the opening day, to meet the demand for tickets

In Tamil Nadu there is a government cap on ticket prices, with Chennai multiplexes allowed the highest rate of Rs 120; it varies in other places. It is not easy to track the exact box-office numbers in the state, and the figures reported may not be fully accurate.

One thing that can be said is that Kabali has taken a much bigger all-India opening day collections than Rajinikanth’s all-time super hit Enthiran (Robot). But it is early days yet, when it comes to saying whether or not Kabali will break Enthiran’s record of being Rajinikanth’s highest earning film.

And this is where those adverse film reviews may play spoilsport.

Should popularity of a mainstream film stand in the way of National Film Awards?

One of the instantaneous, and perhaps even anticipated, reactions to the announcement of the winners of the 63rd National Film Awards was that it’d have been too much to expect a Ramesh Sippy-led jury to look beyond popular Hindi cinema. Considering that films like Piku, Tanu Weds Manu Returns, and Bajirao Mastani picked up 10 major awards amongst themselves, this would have been an expected response. In the past, more often than not, whenever Hindi, or specifically popular variety or ‘Bollywood’, swept off the top honours it has had a similar effect but unlike the previous few instances when nothing could explain a Saif Ali Khan walking away with the Best Actor citation for Hum Tum even when there was a Shah Rukh Khan with a Swades in the fray, this time around few can question the winners. Of course, as with every single award, one can argue the choice of the winner in a few categories.

One of the reasons for people reacting in a particular manner when commercial Hindi box-office hits end up winning big at the National Awards is that it, in all probability, is one of the few remaining platforms offering nationwide recognition for regional language films. Moreover, a National Award transforms the prospects of regional films, especially smaller or lesser-known ones by providing a shot at getting an audience and even transforms the commercial feasibility. Intriguingly enough, there is another side to the entire argument — should popularity or commercial success of a mainstream film stand in the way of a National Award? There can be little doubt in the jury’s decision to confer Kangana Ranaut with the Best Actress award for her double-role in Tanu Weds Manu Returns or a Juhi Chaturvedi and a Himanshu Sharma being jointly lauded for their writing in Piku and Tanu Weds Manu Returns respectively and so, therefore, it would have been unjust to let the commercial aspect of these films undermine the craft of the individuals.

Kangana Raut in Tanu Weds Manu Returns. IBNLive

While a jury chairperson holds some weight, in the end, most jury decisions are based on consensus. Although every jury decision can’t be ideal by being unanimous, it still ends up being a conclusion that majority agree to. Looking at the list of the winners across most categories, especially the technical awards, one can see how the jury went for something that was obvious. Both Tanu Weds Manu Returns andPiku were hailed as the writer’s triumph and despite actors across both films enjoying positive reviews, it were the writers who walked away with most of the glory. In that sense, the jury’s decision then to acknowledge both Chaturvedi and Sharma isn’t inconspicuous. Similarly, Bajrangi Bhaijaan evoked the same reaction from across the country and, therefore, it’s hardly surprising that it was adjudged the Best Popular Film Providing Wholesome Entertainment.

Film juries don’t exist in a vacuum and at times seem to give in to the general reactions or the wave created by some films. Take for instance Bajirao Mastani. The film’s near checklist-like production design where terms such as ‘grand’ and ‘opulent’ appear to be the only operative conditions, seemed to be reasons good enough to be awarded for cinematography (Sudeep Chatterjee), choreography (Remo D’Souza) and production design (Saloni Dhatrak, Sriram Iyengar, Sujeet Sawant).

For this writer, there is nothing extraordinary in D’Souza’s vision while executing Pingaand Deewani Mastani, two songs that fetched the award for Best Choreography. The energy in Pinga, an imagined situation where the two wives of Peshwa Bajirao (Ranveer Singh), namely Kashibai (Priyanka Chopra) and Mastani (Deepika Padukone) prance around, is almost both a visual as well as conceptual reprisal of director Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s previous Dola re dola number from Devdas where his notional flight of fancy got both Chandramukhi (Madhuri Dixit) and Paro (Aishwarya Rai) together. In contrast, director Bala’s Thaarai Thappattai used choreography within songs and music interludes to show characters not only develop but also transform. The film depicts the plight of folk singers using the lives and times of a nadaswaram expert Sannasi (M Sasikumar) and his father Saamipulavan (GM Kumar) and its Best Background Score (Ilaiyaraaja) win notwithstanding, it’s a pity that the choreography went unnoticed. By the same token, this writer feels that Bajirao Mastani’s production design, too, could have been judged in isolation wherein by themselves the grand sets look breathtaking but at many places end up overburdening the narrative. Even though one could still substantiate these choices, the jury’s decision to honour Bhansali as the Best Director is tricky. Bhansali’s inimitable stamp is all over the film and agreed, that if one were to take him out, there would be very few things that could make Bajirao Mastani stand on its own but when seen next to the Malayalam film Pathemari or the Tamil feature Visaranai, the choice of Best Director seems shaky.

In retrospect, every jury seems to send out a subtle message about the context in which the nominations are viewed. Looking at the winners of the 63rd National Awards, one could be mistaken to think that somewhere, as always, it’s only the mainstream cinema that is readily recognised but this isn’t the case. The line dividing mainstream and others is getting finer and this can be seen from the manner in which young filmmakers in not only Hindi but also regional languages such as Marathi and Tamil are pushing the envelope. A Masaan (Best Debut Director) or a Dum Laga ke Haisha (Best Hindi Film, Best Lyrics), a Ringan (Best Marathi Film) and a Visaranai (Best Tamil Film, Best Editing, Best Supporting Actor) are as lauded as a Baahubali. With the first three of the four films mentioned directed by first-time filmmakers, it wouldn’t be surprising if the slipstream is soon mistaken for the mainstream. Once the dust settles, the fact that there were 72 first-time filmmakers in the reckoning this year would leave us with the warm feeling that mainstream or what have you, Indian cinema is headed for good times.