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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.”

Secret Superstar’s musical discovery Meghna Mishra says response to film is ‘a dream come true

In an exclusive interview with Firstpost, the 15-year-old singer from Mumbai spoke about her life, her advent into the music industry and her plans in the future.

Mishra was born and raised in Mumbai, and although she originally hails from Ghazipur in Uttar Pradesh, she calls Mumbai her home. Born to Sanjay Kumar Mishra, who is a Hindustani classical music teacher, and Aarti Mishra, a tabla player and kathak dancer, Mishra has always been around a musical environment since her childhood. She has been taking vocal lessons from her father.

“It is always musical. There are students who come at my place and learn music from my dad. I live in a musical world. I have been singing since childhood. But I started music regularly when I was ten or eleven. My dad trains me,” says Mishra.

Meghna Mishra.

Mishra is an ardent fan of old Bollywood songs and considers Lata Mangeshkar a major influence. Speaking about her choice of songs, Mishra says, “There are many old songs that are based on Indian classical music; they come under the genre of  semi-classical music, which are finished songs. If I learn old songs, I only learn filmy classical. I listen to Lataji, Ashaji… all the old singers. That generation’s music was so cultural and there was a classical touch in the compositions.”

Her favourite Lata songs include: (in random order) ‘Man Mohana’ (Seema [1955]), ‘Kaise Din Beetey’ (Anuradha [1960]), ‘Megha Chhaye Aadhi Raat’ (Sharmilee [1971]), ‘Ja Ja Re Balamwa’ (Basant Bahaar [1956]), ‘Lag Jaa Gale’ (Woh Kaun Thi [1964]).

Many wouldn’t know that Secret Superstar isn’t Mishra’s debut in playback singing. She had sung two songs in the 2014 Marathi film Vitti Dandu. And it is how the journey of her newly-found fame germinated.

“The music director of the film Santosh Mulekar is a family friend. One day we were sitting in the hall at my place. My mom received a call from Santosh uncle and he asked her how old I was. My mom said that I was 15 running. To that he informed that we would receive a call from a certain lady, which we did. That lady asked me to send her two songs — both in raw formats. I sent her a song and a YouTube link of a western song that I had uploaded sometime back then. Then after sometime, she sent me an address. I, along with my dad, upon reaching that address, entered a studio and we were asked to sit in the waiting room.”

“We were then called inside and we met a person who gave me a writing pad, a page and I filled it. I didn’t even look what it was. Then the man asked someone, ‘Sir ko bulao.’ One or two minutes later Amit [Trivedi] Sir entered. I didn’t recognise him at first, but I could feel I had seen him somewhere; he resembled someone. He then said, ‘We have chosen you as a singer for an Aamir Khan Production film.’ I was so confused; that was my first reaction… I took the paper that I had filled and looked at it and then I realised that ‘Oh my God! I just signed the contract of Secret Superstar,” she exclaims.

How does it feel like to be a playback singer in Bollywood? “Whenever I think about the fact that I have sung for an Aamir Khan film, I still don’t believe it. It’s more like a dream come true. There was a time when we doubted the whole thing because the teaser released after a long time; it released in December. But once the teaser was out, we were assured. I have sung five out of eight songs in the album.”

“It is a special feeling for me and my family, as I am the first one in my family who has sung in a Bollywood film. I feel I am so lucky that I got selected for this, because if nobody had heard me sing at the first place I would not have sung in the film. I will always be grateful to Amit Sir, Aamir Sir for this,” says an ecstatic Mishra.

The makers of Secret Superstar had called Mishra to Panchgani for ten days while they were shooting the film there. And that is where most of the compositions were made, and the final recordings were done in a Mumbai studio. “Amit sir used to teach me the songs in the morning; I would learn them and practice them all day; and later in the evening we would record it. Amit sir had a small recording set up in his room. After recording the song, he would mix it and make Aamir Sir listen to the composition,” she says.

One of the major highlights of the film is the resemblance of Mishra’s voice to Zaira Wasim’s vocal texture.

Talking about that Mishra candidly says, “Some people asked how Zaira sings so beautifully; later they realised that somebody else has sung them.”

Initially she wasn’t sure whether her voice would work for Wasim or not, because when Mishra met Wasim, Dangal had not released. She adds, “I had met Zaira much before Dangal’s trailer release. It was around September-October when I was called for the shooting of Secret Superstar. Aamir sir wanted me to guide her with expressions, hand movements, standing postures, etc. I rehearsed with her five six times and she used to follow me and observe keenly. I didn’t even know that she was the heroine. She is so cute and beautiful; I wasn’t even sure that my voice would suit her.”

Meghna Mishra along with Aamir Khan during Secret Superstar music launch (left); Zaira Wasim in Secret Superstar. Picture courtesy: Facebook

Mishra specifically mentions Wasim’s acting proficiency, which is another remarkable highlight of the film and Wasim has been receiving rave reviews for her performance. Mishra adds, “Zaira is very talented. She observed some of the most minute things and implemented them in her scenes. She would ask me to sing and then would observe how I stand; second time she would notice where I was shutting my eyes; then she would also notice where and when I took breaths and she implemented all of that. That is really a difficult thing, but she did everything and delivered the final output and you can see the result.”

And now, after Secret Superstar, Mishra hopes for some good projects to come in, and adds, “I wish that all my projects are pure — just like Secret Superstar — all the songs, all the lyrics are so good.”

Secret Superstar: Aamir Khan’s character in the film inspired by Anil Kapoor, Jeetendra

Mumbai: Bollywood superstar Aamir Khan’s quirky character Shakti Kumaarr from his forthcoming movie Secret Superstar has been inspired by Jeetendra and Anil Kapoor.

Anil Kapoor (left); Aamir Khan in Secret Superstar (centre); and Jeetendra. Image courtesy: Facebook

Aamir said in a statement: “One of the secrets from Secret Superstar is that in this film, I have used some lines that film actors usually use in their personal life and whenever I meet them. I tend to remember some lines from it, and I have used those lines while playing my character in the film.

“For example, when I met Jeetuji (Jeetendra) for the very first time, I found him as a very humorous person. He had come to visit Nasir (filmmaker Nasir Hussain) sahab once and I was sitting with them that time. I was an assistant to Nasir sahab then. Jeetuji said, ‘Nasir sahab, I have been offered a film which has a double role’. Jeetuji laughed and said I can’t do one role properly and I have been offered two roles.

“Further, he said that it’s perfectly fine, I’ll do it well and said ‘Buck up India’… The way he said ‘Buck Up India’, I found it so charming that time that it remained in my mind, and now also if we meet somewhere, he says, ‘Son, you have a release now… Buck Up India! It will do very good’. The way Jeetuji uses that phrase ‘Buck up India’ is something I like and I have used that in Secret Superstar.”

What about Anil?

“One thing about Anil Kapoor I have noticed is that whenever he is done talking on call, he doesn’t say bye once, he says bye about 15-20 times on call. So while speaking with him on call when I say, ‘Anil, see you bye’, he says ‘Bye, bye, bye, bye, bye’ in series. My character uses this trait also.”

Secret Superstar is a film which brings out the inner superstar of a teenage girl who is dreaming to become a singer and how she fulfils her dreams by keeping her identity hidden.

Watch: Sanjay Dutt reveals why he choose Omung Kumar’s Bhoomi as his comeback film

Ahead of the release of Bhoomi, Firstpost caught up with Sanjay Dutt, who was more than happy to answer our curious questions.

One of the most obvious ones, at the heels of his release, is — Why Bhoomi  and not Munnabhai 3, as the latter already has a trailer out?

Dutt reveals, “Munnabhai 3 is still on the scripting stage. Right now it’s on hold. Bhoomi is a film I really wanted to do as a comeback, especially because I believe in women empowerment. I wanted to talk about what a rape victim [sic] from a small family goes through living in a city like Agra”

Speaking about Omung Kumar, the director of the film, Dutt says, “Omung is a great director, he’s tried something different with Bhoomi. It’s totally a commercial film.”

Was politics ever an option for a comeback, we ask Dutt? He is quick to respond, “Not really. Two family members is enough. Cinema is a medium where I can reach out to many people, and send out a good message.”

Watch Firstpost’s interview with Sanjay Dutt.

Daddy: Arjun Rampal gives his heart, body and nose to the film, but is let down by Ashim Ahluwalia

The first time you see him, it’s through a glass wall. Light tinted, slightly oversized sunglasses  and a small, neat moustache embellish the face, carefully half hidden in profile. He hasn’t spoken and you don’t take much notice of him except as a big gangster, Maqsood (read Dawood). He is, apparently, a man of some importance. We know this because he has a sidekick who addresses him as “Bhai”.

The second time you see him, he is seated in a car. He is dressed in a printed silk shirt. His hair is long and thick and the camera is close enough to see his eyes through those light gold shades. And then he speaks. The unmistakable grainy voice belongs to Farhan Akhtar. The hitherto dull and dim lit screen, suddenly lights up. The rest of the long hour and a half, you wait for the next glimpse of Bhai.

Oh, but isn’t this film about Arun Gawli, the gangster who became known as Daddy?

Unfortunately, yes. It is also a film that attempts to walk the thin line between the real and commercial cinema. But how real can a movie be, without it being a documentary?

In the previous scene with Bhai, the men, sort of huddled outside, are being given an important assignment. One of them dares to enquire about the payment. He is Arun Gawli, a small time goon from Dagdi Chawl in Mumbai’s Byculla area.

If Farhan Akhtar is unrecognizable, with the perfect detailing of the underworld man from the eighties; Arjun Rampal as Arun Gawli fondly called Daddy, is equally nondescript behind the prosthetic big nose and long hair. Utmost care has been taken to recreate the real world of a man whose humble beginnings in the 70s and 80s are traced to a place called Dagdi Chawl.

The old staircases, the crowded, long balconies, the small rooms with faded, cracked paint and weak, wooden doors — are painstakingly lit with dim light to show a world as dark as Gawli is made to be. This is that Mumbai chawl  where he woos a Muslim girl across the balcony and eventually marries her. This is the unsafe place which he builds into a mini fortress, armed with his faithful men and guns. This is where crossfires are exchanged every time the cops come to get him. This is the hideout where he religiously prays to his God — Shiv Shambho.

This is the home where he holds his baby and a gun with one hand and a toy rattle with another.

The latter, particular image should ideally evoke some strong, mixed emotions.  But it doesn’t. In fact, the film, does not stir up any emotion, whatsoever.

Daddy has been positioned as a ‘real’ film with ‘commercial’ value given by Arjun Rampal’s name. But this faithfulness to the realistic feel, ends up overlooking the required drama and entertainment in films, which go beyond repeated shootouts. The silk shirts and the bell bottom pants also need some flesh, blood and soul, just like a simple Dagdi Chawl-made vada pau needs its dry garlic, and red, hot chutney.

Rampal’s Gawli says “ikde ye” quite comfortably but does not engage you with a real conversation after that.

The matter of fact tone is as dull as the Wikipedia page which informs you of as much as you see in the movie. The story had sufficient meat in the way three men — Baba (Anand), Ramu (Rajesh) and Arun (Arjun) — formed the BRA gang and their eventual journey. However, you never really get to know who they were as people or friends.

None of the fantastic detailing to recapture the ’80s matters. The flat dialogues make the pace  and the tone feel so stretched that the songs provide a welcome break. Particularly, an item number that reminds one of Parveen Babi in a gold, shimmery costume and of the popular disco beat.

Arjun Rampal seems to have given his heart, mind, body, soul and ‘nose’ to this film as actor, co-writer and producer. Hence, it’s disappointing to see it all ruined by director Ashim Ahulwalia who is obsessed with art direction and the costume department. The setting and sepia tones take precedence over the screenplay and the character.

This is not so surprising, considering his debut film — the Nawazuddin-starrer Miss Lovely — which drew some attention during film festivals but failed when released in theatres.

Rampal in Daddy, is like Aishwarya Rai in Sarbjit. Both are fighting their immense good looks and their image, with heartfelt sincerity. Rampal gives a satisfactory, restrained performance in Daddy but he needed better scenes, especially with the ineffective and badly miscast Nishikant Kamat who plays Inspector Vijaykar.

Daddy could have been like Ram Gopal Varma’s Satya but ends up as fake as Farhan’s character name, Maqsood, in its guise to be real. Was Dawood singing in their ears — “main hoon kaun…main hoon, main hoon… DON”?

Bobby Deol: ‘Yes the film industry has let me down, but I can’t keep sulking’

After a four year hiatus, Bobby Deol — the flamboyant star of the 90s — is back on the big screen.

He hopes to win back his audience and his fading stardom, and revive his career with the upcoming comedy, Poster Boys, which marks the directorial debut of actor Shreyas Talpade, and also features his older brother, Sunny Deol. “People ask me why was I so choosy and why I didn’t do any film in the last four years. I tell them that I wasn’t choosy but people had become choosy about me,” says the actor candidly.

After a successful debut with Rajkumar Santoshi’s Barsaat (opposite Twinkle Khanna) in 1995, he went on to appear in many hits and is best remembered for his thriller and action films like Gupt, Soldier, Hamraaz, Ajnabee among others. Bobby’s career slowed down with duds like Chor Machaaye Shor, Kismat, Bardaasht, Tango Charlie. Years later, his fading career got a new lease of life with Yamla Pagla Deewana (2011) but his success was short-lived as younger actors displaced the once blue-eyed boy of the 90s. To make it worse, his films like Thank You and Players tanked at the box office.

He’s back in his flashy avatar — donning trendy shades and leather boots — and Bobby has now decided to speak his heart out.

“This is me, there is no defense mechanism,” he reiterates, adding, “I have no idea what went wrong with my career. I haven’t worked for four years, and these four years of my life has gone so fast but it has made me a better and stronger person. I have been dying to work, I love being on the sets. Now I feel refreshed, more positive in life and it reflects in my attitude or else I wouldn’t have been able to talk so openly. This way I will attract people’s attention and get more work.”

“A good subject, a good script is hard to find, God doesn’t give you chances again and again,” he says, as he looks around at his fans waiting for selfie. “I hate these selfie pics, it is the worst photograph possible…you look so distorted and ugly. We look like mannequins,” laughs Bobby, and gets down to chatting with Firstpost.

The actor says that the perception that he’ll only do starry roles and central characters has caused a dent in his career. “People started carrying false news about me and maligning me. The industry and social media kept saying that I don’t want to work. That I was content and happy. That I was busy as my wife’s going through a legal battle, but nobody knows the reality. It was tough for me to come out of all that. I want to change their outlook. I am now meeting people and telling them that I want to do good characters. Nice and meaty roles in all genres,” he says.

Few months back, Bobby had opened up about how the industry let him down and as a result he missed chances of doing hits like Jab We Met and Highway with director Imtiaz Ali, but without holding any grudges, he says, “Yes, the industry let me down but I can’t keep sulking. If work comes my way and people don’t ditch me, I would love to work with dedicated people and with some of the contemporary directors. Abbas Mustan are the only directors I have worked the maximum with. But somehow we have not been able to work together because when you are not in circulation then it is very difficult to get the project on floor.”

He further adds, “I haven’t really seen too many films off-late but I will start watching now. But I like the way Akshay is picking up scripts these days.”

While in the past Bobby was often refused roles of a small town guy, he grabbed the opportunity with Poster Boys in which he plays a naive, sincere and honest school teacher. “That’s going to be my approach now — to break stereotypes and surprise people. Earlier, whenever I would ask for the role of a poor guy, I was refused because I didn’t look like one. I always played a rich guy in many of these thrillers and rom-coms. The only time I played a small town boy was probably in Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s Kareeb. I never looked at myself as good looking or bad looking. There are so many films made where actors don’t look the part but perform the part. That is what I am hoping for,” says Bobby.

But one thing that will never change with Bobby is ‘disappearing’ from the city on the eve of his film’s release. Laughing out loud, he says, “I really get stressed with these box office collections. This time I am leaving for Manali. I would always run away on the release day. I am too sensitive a person, I can’t handle all this. I won’t lie; I get nervous and scared.

Bareilly Ki Barfi: Bitti’s dilemma plays on a familiar film trope — the deceptive love triangle

In a particularly hilarious moment in Bareilly Ki Barfi (among all its hilarious moments), Bitti’s mother asks her friend Chirag Dubey to be “Hanuman” and set her daughter up with Pritam Vidrohi, since their jodi is that of Ram-Sita. Chirag (played by Ayushmann Khurrana) is the actual Ram here and the friend he’s bullied into pretending to be the writer Pritam Vidrohi (Rajkummar Rao in his most comical role yet), was supposed to be his Hanuman.

Still from Bareilly Ki Barfi

This confusion — Girl thinks she is in love with charmer Boy B but it’s actually behind-the-scenes Boy A — is the underlying theme of this film. It’s a variation of the Cyrano de Bergerac/Hitch theme that has been played out and perfected in lots of Indian movies. From Saajan where Madhuri Dixit thinks she is in love with the dashing Salman Khan for his poetry, but the poems have been written by the poor orphan with a disability, Sanjay Dutt. Or the ‘90s Tamil movie Duet where an effervescent Meenakshi Seshadri falls in love with who she thinks is Ramesh Arvind, his poems and his beautiful saxophone playing when it’s actually the fat and awkward Prabhu who is the talented musician keeping her up at night. In Minnale, Madhavan pretends to be Reema Sen’s fiancée (who’s actually played by Abbas) and successfully lands the girl. Sapney (Minsaara Kanavu) had a thread of this theme where Aravind Swamy hires Prabhu Dheva to make Kajol fall in love with him. Or even Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi which takes it to #peakdrama where a dull SRK is married to Anushka Sharma and adopts a secret, glamorous identity to woo his own wife.

In Bareilly Ki Barfi, Bitti (Kriti Sanon) searches for the writer Pritam Vidrohi thinking he’s the one who’s written a novel that describes her to a T. A restless young woman, she thinks the man who’s authored the book and who really gets her, will fix her life. Except it’s her friend Chirag (Ayushmann Khurana) who’s actually written the book, is in love with her and gets her.

Rebellious Bitti, who asks random men on motorbikes to drop her off at her destination, who shares her cigarettes with her daddy, who break dances at whim, who runs away from home and comes back, who tells a prospective groom that no, she isn’t a virgin, is at odds with the small town she lives in. And when she comes across a book (also titled Bareilly Ki Barfi) where the protagonist resembles her so much, she’s determined to track him down and see where it goes. (Sidenote: I’ve been collecting unusual professions writers have given heroines in Hindi, Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam films, Bitti’s is by far my favourite; prosaic, yet not: She works at the electricity board.)

Chirag doesn’t tell her the truth (for if he did, would we have the movie?) and instead says he knows the writer. Bitti, persuades a smitten Chirag to find Pritam who agrees, because he wants to eliminate the competition. Chirag and his friend go to Lucknow to meet and convince the mild-mannered, stammering, shy and hesitant sari salesman Pritam to turn into a paan chewing tharki. Pritam goes overboard with his transformation and brings fear into Chirag’s heart, especially when Bitti and family fall for him. This forcing Boy A to act as Boy B is a theme seen in Saajan as well.

Ayushmann Khurrana, Rajkummar Rao and Kriti Sanon in Bareilly Ki Barfi

In Saajan, after Sanjay Dutt’s character Aman’s poems get published (under a pseudonym) and he becomes famous, Madhuri Dixit’s Pooja corresponds with him. But Aman’s brother Akash (Salman Khan), falls in love with Pooja. And because Aman was a disabled orphan who was adopted by Akash’s parents, and because he thinks a woman would never love someone with a disability, he helps Akash pose as Sagar to win Pooja. It reminds me of a line Chirag spouts while drunk: “Pyar kiya hai, qurbani toh deni padegi“. The same qurbani is shown by Aman. And in the end, Pooja has to choose between the person she fell in love with and the poet she was entranced by.

Duet’s Guna and Siva — two brothers who run an orchestra — too fall in love with the same girl, Anjali, their choreographer-neighbour who cannot resist the saxophone music playing out of their house. Guna, played by Prabhu, is fat and awkward and doesn’t have the courage to confess his love for her, while the younger Siva makes a beeline for her and impresses her. The twist? Anjali thinks it’s Siva who is a skilled saxophone player, when it’s actually Guna. But here, there’s no qurbani, there’s no meetha barfi. Siva simply uses his brother’s insecurity to his advantage until Anjali comes to know of the truth — many arguments, some convincing and a fight late, Siva dies. Guna and Anjali unite.

What is so irresistible about the shell games of these movies? It’s partly because the heroine’s conflict becomes our own, and we’re suddenly taking sides. In Saajan, Sapney and Duet (and Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi, if dancer SRK was played by someone else), the heroines picked the underdogs, the nice boys, the ones who usually get left behind. In Minnale too Madhavan’s character is the underdog, but he doesn’t let us sympathise with him one minute, because the very next, he’s impersonating his loved one’s fiancée, especially one who happened to be his ‘enemy’ in college. Here, the heroine doesn’t have any real choosing to do; her dilemma is why should she pick him even after he lied to her. Each of the men on opposite sides usually represent a particular life, a way of fulfilling bigger dreams, especially when marriage = life as in the case of Bitti of Bareilly, who has been turned down  by many, many men because of her carefree but somewhat claustrophobic existence.

The pleasures of the Hitch version of the love triangle are manifold — there’s the tension of the unfolding drama even if you do know who will end up with whom, there’s that rush you get when you’re rooting for the loser and then there’s the unabashed mounting competition.

As I said before, the two men on opposite sides represent particularly different lives and Bitti picks Chirag, the one who didn’t quite sweep her off her feet, but one who offers her companionship, one she can share her small-town idiosyncrasies with. But what would’ve happened if she picked the other? On the face of it, the other is not an attractive choice: He’s a gullible, affable timid soul who’s been harangued by his mother all his life, resulting in the hopeless case that he is. Here’s a guy who has been bullied by Chirag tirelessly, whether it’s posing as him for the author photograph or getting doused in water for making a mistake. It’s hard to imagine Bitti with Pritam but boy Pritam does look like he needed a true vidrohi (rebel) like Bitti in his life to save him. Luckily for Bitti, she doesn’t share my soft spot for the real underdog in this story. She gets the last laugh and the last barfi.

Jab Harry Met Sejal: Imtiaz Ali’s film should rightly have been called Jab Sejal Met Dude

 

You get a similar feeling about Jab Harry Met Sejal, except you feel it about Shah Rukh Khan.

Now, of course, this is a pretty weird feeling to have about a ‘SRK movie’. Imtiaz Ali has done everything he can to stop you from feeling this. SRK’s Harry — despite having no discernible problem in life but being attracted so much to women that it scares (only) him — is supposed to be deep. You’re told again and again, mostly by Harry himself, that he’s a bad guy. He’s weary. He’s got trauma. One flashback early in the movie leads you to believe there’s some mysterious backstory from India that’s left Harry the tour guide scarred in Europe. Turns out nope, there isn’t.

Anushka Sharma and Shah Ruh Khan in Jab Harry Met Sejal. Image via Facebook

Because despite all the drama that the film tries to create around Harry, he’s fine. Nothing wrong with him. No trauma. No backstory. He’s just a dude, single in his forties. And that’s okay.

Jab Harry Met Sejal almost belonged to Sejal (Anushka Sharma). The movie is about her, after all – about the ring she lost and the things that happen to her as she goes from city to European city looking for it. Sejal moves the plot along: in fact, you often get the feeling that she was supposed to be the plot. Sharma’s deliberate Gujju accent may have been a bit much sometimes, but she makes up for it with her spectacular comic timing. Sejal is a lawyer, plays a role in her family’s business, is clear and decisive about what she wants, kicks the shit out of numerous bad guys and breaks off her own marriage. Harry is mostly just…there, a consequence more than a character, along for the ride Ali is taking us all on.

This movie should have been called Jab Sejal Met Dude.

In the run-up to this movie there was some talk of Imtiaz Ali’s repetitiveness: that most of his films feature people who go off on a journey in which they find themselves, and find love. This is true of Jab Sejal Met Dude too. It is practically the only thing that happens: the pair travel to different cities in search of a lost ring, get into really mild adventures in each city, find the ring and get together. You get the feeling that travel didn’t really need to be so central to the plot but was blackmailed into it, since everything travel was supposed to invoke could have been done without having gone on a journey at all. They could have found similar adventures just chasing each other around Mumbai – getting into fights in clubs, meeting spurned ex lovers, taking train rides, fighting thugs, throwing wedding parties for friends and singing impromptu songs.

Somebody somewhere convinced Imtiaz Ali early on that a journey is an integral part of films, so he feels the need to make all his movies fit that formula. The idea of a journey in Ali’s movies always leads to one person finding themselves. And barring few exceptions, that one person is usually a boy — from Jab We Met to Tamasha to Jab Sejal Met Dude.

Somebody somewhere convinced Imtiaz Ali early on that a journey is an integral part of films, so he feels the need to make all his movies fit that formula. The idea of a journey in Ali’s movies always leads to one person finding themselves. And barring few exceptions, that one person is usually a boy — from Jab We Met to Tamasha to Jab Sejal Met Dude.

Even more repetitive than the theme of travel are Ali’s precious male leads and all the bhaav they get from him. You get the feeling that men in Imtiaz Ali’s movies are a lot like Gayatri Jayaraman’s ‘urban millennial poor’ — whether it’s Shahid Kapoor’s man-child who couldn’t deal with his mother’s romantic relationship in Jab We Met, or Ranbir Kapoor whose biggest problem in Tamasha was that he couldn’t figure out if he’s a fun or boring guy to hang out with, or Kapoor in Rockstar where he can’t write songs until he feels sad about something, and now SRK’s spectacularly unremarkable Harry convincing himself he’s the blandest devil incarnate. Ali’s men break into sobs over their bad dating records and boring at-home personalities, probably to add some ‘darkness’ that’s supposed to add glamour to their souls in the filmmaker’s formula. I feel like telling the men in his movies to suck it up and go do their homework when they complain about how sad they are.

It isn’t like Ali doesn’t know how to give characters real problems. Part of the reason why Alia Bhatt’s Veera in Highway gets so chilled out about being kidnapped is that she’s dealing with the trauma of being sexually abused by her uncle as a child. Deepika Padukone’s Veronica in Cocktail is so traumatised by her breakup with Saif Ali Khan that she turns to excessive drinking and gets into a terrible road accident. Will someone please ask Ali, why do women need to go through so much trauma while the men get to just worry about themselves?

I found it strange that before the release of Jab Sejal Met Dude, Anushka Sharma claimed in an interview that her character was very superficial and had no depth. The trailer made it seem like she had plenty going on for her. But now, having watched the movie, I think I understand what she meant. It isn’t that Sejal has no depth, but that her role doesn’t allow her to show it no matter how much the plot depends on her. How can Sejal unfold all of her own complexity and depth when so much space is being taken up by SRK unnecessarily crying over his tour-guide status and imagined evilness towards women?

Ali won’t give us the satisfaction of a truly evil SRK, and he won’t give us the satisfaction of a truly realised Anushka. He just wants to hit the road again with a Dude.

 

Ek Haseena Thi Ek Deewana Tha movie review: Suneel Darshan’s son returns in a film so terrible, it’s riveting

A long long time ago in the kingdom of cliched cinema, a rich man’s daughter falls in love with a poor stable boy. He is killed by her father for that crime. Decades later, his bhatakti aatma returns to claim the heart of her granddaughter. We are told the young lady is her naani’s carbon copy and, as fate would have it, already engaged to her childhood friend at the point she meets the aatma.

What happens thereafter is not what you might expect, but I am not wasting time getting into the nitty-gritty of the story because, frankly, that would amount to beating about the bush. Overriding fact: this film is awful.

It is a romantic thriller, but no twist in the end, nor even Amarjeet Singh’s slick camerawork in the picturesque English and Welsh countryside, can compensate for the all-round godawfulness, the inertness and the dated storytelling that constitute Ek Haseena Thi Ek Deewana Tha.

Poster of Ek Haseena Thi Ek Deewana Tha

Producer-director Suneel Darshan’s latest venture marks the return to Bollywood of music director Nadeem Saifi, and Darshan’s second attempt at giving his son Shiv an acting career.

Nadeem’s compositions for the film are passably melodic while they last, but too generic to be memorable. The Nadeem who has churned out songs for Ek Haseena Thi EDT is not worthy of the reputation enjoyed by the man who made the blockbuster music for Aashiqui and Dil Hai Ki Manta Nahin as one half of Nadeem-Shravan in the 1990s. Like this film, his work too seems stuck in time.

It speaks volumes about the pathetic quality of Ek Haseena Thi EDT that the music is still one of the nicer things about it.

The highlight of the film’s horrendousness is Shiv, a milky-skinned gentleman whose expressionlessness resembles the blankness of faces we see these days Botoxed into immobility.

I understand paternal devotion. I do. But to expose your child’s absolute lack of talent before the world is not love. There is no kind way of saying this, so I may as well not mince words: Shiv cannot act.

The only saving grace for him in this film is that Natasha Fernandez is almost — though not entirely — as bad. Instead of advertising itself as a film, Ek Haseena Thi EDT should have considered promoting itself as a contest for pathetic acting between Darshan Junior and Fernandez. Their co-star Upen Patel is no Robert De Niro, but he comes off looking comparatively impressive in the presence of these two and made me wonder whether he might show some spark in a better film.

Pretty Ms Fernandez struggles to work her facial muscles, poses around (clearly at the behest of her director) and delivers dialogues in an amusingly strained fashion. Her Hindi diction is awkward, she even says tukraana for tthukraana. And director saab did not deem it fit to correct her before demanding a retake?

Perhaps Darshan was too busy focusing on getting the wardrobe and makeup departments to package his heroine to perfection so that she could be draped on his son.

The problem lies not just in a father prioritising his offspring over all else, but also in this team’s questionable attitude to women. For instance, the good guy in Ek Haseena Thi EDT is positioned as a good guy although he thinks nothing of kissing a sleeping woman who does not know him; and when one man asks another for a birthday gift, the other guy points to a woman, as though he had purchased her from a shop. Her outburst in the end, about the right to make her own choices, comes as an obvious afterthought, inserted there by writers who want to camouflage their narrow-mindedness in a changing world.

To be fair to Darshan, although he has enjoyed tremendous commercial success, he has at no point been viewed as a great artist or a liberal by serious Bollywood gazers. That said, nothing in his filmography is a match for the vacuity of this film.

Ek Haseena Thi EDT is so terrible, it is riveting. (Spoiler alert, for those who still care) It is not a fantasy flick, nor does it belong to the mythical/mythological genre, yet at one point, a man reveals — with a perfectly straight face — that after an accident, he prayed to God for a few extra days on Earth and God granted him 14. What calculation did God make to arrive at that precise figure. Was God a voice in this fellow’s head? Did s/he appear in flesh and blood? Did they chat on Skype?

With nothing happening on screen, I busied myself with these profound questions. I also briefly considered headlining this review thus: Ek haseen critic thhi, ek khokhla film thha.

Tubelight: How much Salman Khan will earn from the film (whether or not it’s a hit)

It wouldn’t be wrong to say that after the Dangal and Baahubali mania, the next film to do justice to the term “most-awaited” would be Salman Khan and Kabir Khan’s Tubelight.

There’s been much buzz about the film. In Tubelight, set against the backdrop of the Indo-China war of 1962, Salman plays a do-gooder who is very close to his brother. He’s a little slow, and is therefore called a Tubelight by everyone. The film also stars Chinese actress Zhu Zhu and Sohail Khan. The film is a remake of Little Boy.

Given the massive success of two big Bollywood films globally, Dangal and Baahubali, it is being touted that bigger opportunities have opened for future Bollywood films globally.

DNA reports that Salman is planning a grand release in China and premier for Tubelight, and since the film already has a Chinese connect (it has multiple Chinese actors), the box office collections are expected to sky rocket. With Zhu Zhu being a big name, trade experts are predicting 700-800 crore collections from China itself.

And so, the big question on everyone’s mind is, how much of this profit will Salman Khan be pocketing for himself?

A source from the crew of Tubelight has revealed that the film has been made at a budget of Rs 170 crore, and Salman Khan has taken a signing amount of Rs 60 crore. This is due to the fact that all his films bag satellite rights worth Rs 60 crore, which is regardless of its box office fate.

It was further revealed that Salman will also be bagging half the profits of the film. This could also be because he is the producer on the film, as Tubelight is jointly produced by Kabir Khan Films and Salman Khan Productions. (Please note that these figures are not verified by the makers of the film).