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Manisha Koirala on Dear Maya: ‘I loved the script instantly; it’s a feel good film

After a five year break from arc lights, Manisha Koirala, who makes a comeback with coming of age drama, Dear Maya, was nervous about facing the camera.

The 46-year-old actress will be seen in the role of a middle-aged woman looking for love, and she says, “I wasn’t sure if I was doing it right. I was on the edge when I was facing the camera.”

Manisha has worked with some of the biggest directors back in the 90s like Mani Ratnam (Bombay, Dil Se), Sanjay Leela Bhansali (Khamoshi), Vidhu Vinod Chopra (1942, A Love Story), and now she chose to make her comeback with young director, Sunaina Bhatnagar, who has assisted Imtiaz Ali for six years.

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“I first read the script, I loved it instantly and so I decided to meet the director. When I met her, I knew that she will make a good film. Sunaina had made a good character sketch. She was very clear about the character’s psychology. It is a feel good film, and that is another reason it attracted me,” says Manisha, who’s working with a woman director for the first time in her career.

Says Sunaina, “Manisha told me that she was used to melodramatic, loud acting, so she wanted me to tell her if she was doing that. Somebody as talented as her was so honest about it and hence I knew it will be an easy process of shooting with her. Her sensibility is subtle and realistic. Even in those days she tried to keep it subtle.”

Interestingly, while her character in the film is shown being a victim to the pranks of two young girls, Manisha says, that she was a big time prankster in her hey days. “I have played many pranks on people,” she laughs.

After Dear Maya, Manisha is looking forward to Dibakar Banerjee’s Bombay Talkies 2 which has been made in small segments like the previous part. Then there is Sanjay Dutt biopic, “in which I play Nargisji. I have a miniscule yet an important role. It is like special appearance,” she says. “I have altogether worked on four films this year and played some interesting characters. Next year I have been offered two to three good scripts so let’s see how that progresses,” says Manisha.

Coming to the Dutt biopic, one wonders if she shared some notes with Sanjay Dutt particularly since both of them have been paired together in over half a dozen movies in the 90s. “Sanjay and I are like buddies but we haven’t spoken as yet about me playing Nargis ji,” she smiles.

Even as Manisha sounds awestruck by the work of her contemporaries like Sridevi and Madhuri Dixit, she can’t stop praising some of the current lot of actresses. “Look at Alia, Kangana and Deepika’s work, they are doing more meaningful roles now. I saw Udta Punjab, and I don’t know much about the film but I remember Alia’s work. She leaves an impact. I saw Queen years back, Kangana left an impact,” says Manisha.

However, she is aware that the dream roles may not come to her easily at this juncture. Recently Raveena Tandon had a funny take on the sequel to Andaz Apna Apna; she said that if the slapstick comedy was to be made today, she and Karisma may feature in the sequel only as a photograph: “You know how the sequel will begin? Both Lolo and my pictures would be hanging on the wall with Aamir and Salman crying that they have lost their wives. Cut to the next scene, they will be seen running after 21 year old girls”.

To this Manisha says, “That is so true, Raveena said it so correctly. But this is a kind of dilemma that all actresses go through. It is in Hollywood as well.”

“Manisha, who has worked with all three superstars, continues, “What is not natural is that these three Khans have still managed to survive. After being in the industry for 10 or 20 years, it is natural that you go down and some other energies, talent come in and they follow the same graph. But Salman, Shah Rukh and Aamir are still on top. There is something god gifted in them. Nobody can replace them. It is a unique feature. We should admire their staying power, rather than feel bad.

Everybody loves a bad boy like Salman Khan who makes a good ‘Sultan’

Then comes along a film magnificently titled Sultan, with him being both a good and a bad human, and the fans couldn’t care less about who the real Salman Khan is. What harm can it do to go spend a few hundred bucks to watch him in a langot, rub Bharat mata ki mitti with his hands to literally show what a great son of the soil can do. Except, he does this not for the country but for his love.

This son of the soil is an overgrown middle aged superstar playing a thirty something buffoon jumping across terraces and trees to chase kites (not skirts—brownie point). While at it, he crashes into a helmet covered girl on a bike and her tight slap makes him grin like an idiot and sit on a donkey. Because the grand dilwala is in love with a feisty girl (who is half his age).

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Then to woo her, he crashes into a wedding (but, of course what’s a blockbuster without weddings) and slaps his butt and sings, “baby ko bass pasand hai”.  All right, he’s got some moves there. Why doesn’t he just stick to just that?

But that’s not enough for the Haryanvi ‘baby’ who is a wrestling champion herself and wants someone worthy of her. Finally something makes sense here, but our nonsense man will have none of it.

He will do anything to win her over. Even take off his pants since he has to evolve from the shirtless Dabangg character he has been. He will bare his beefed up torso and his shapely waxed legs, get into a langot, and he will slap his muscled arm and thigh like a true blue desi, Haryanvi wrestler. Since he has never done much beyond driving a few tractors on his father’s farm, he’ll need some kind of a magic wand.

With love is in his mind and heart, and the precious soil on his hands, it takes barely a few weeks for him to become that champion and change the way the Haryanvi baby looks at him. He finally does get her, though. End of story.

Oh but wait. At one point in the film, Sultan alludes to the fact that he wasn’t knocking off big, strong wrestlers for Aarfa. He was wrestling with himself. We soon realise that it’s a story of Sultan vs. Sultan on screen, and a story of Salman vs Bhai, off screen.

But don’t the fans love both really? Somewhere, deep down everyone loves this bad boy who refuses to grow up as he constantly finds a way to redeem himself with his Being Human social work activities and the good son of the soil image on screen. The bad boy paves the way for the good boy on screen. Without one, there can’t be the other.

Salman, with his history of getting into trouble with cars and girlfriends and a few knocks in the court, may just be fighting his own spoilt, brash boy image, and may be constantly trying to fit into a real 50 year old self, the professional that delivers blockbusters after blockbusters. For all we know.

But maybe Salman’s character on screen and off screen needn’t fight. He is doing just fine, creating controversies and ringing in Eid with big box office numbers. It’s a unique duality, but one that is laughing all the way to the box office. Some soil-rubbing, a taut body and kushti/MMA fight scenesand a dance with a pat on the butt does the work for the most part.

‘Good and new stories need to be told': Shahid Kapoor on ‘Udta Punjab’

Mumbai: Actor Shahid Kapoor says his upcoming film Udta Punjab on substance abuse is not an issue of just one state and needs to be addressed on a pan-India level.

“For Haider, we used Kashmir as the backdrop but the story was human journey. An issue that is of one state can be an issue of entire country. It’s not that we are saying through this film that the issue exists only in one state, it is just that we chose Punjab as the backdrop,” Shahid told reporters last night at the film’s trailer launch.

“It is an issue that needs to be addressed… It’s a real issue for parents and children. It is courageous on part of our director Abhishek Chaubey to talk about it,” he said.

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The Jab We Met star hopes the audiences understand the context of the film. “It’s a fictional film with fictional characters but it has an important issue. I hope people will take it in the right context.” Shahid, who plays a Punjabi pop star in the film, said it was difficult for him to get  into the skin of the character as it is was a “loud” one, unlike of his real self.

“When I heard the role of Tommy Singh it had to be nothing like me. He is a Punjabi pop star who is a substance addict. He is not a regular guy. I had to work on my body and look.  The most difficult part was to get into the head of this character like why he behaves like this, why is he so eccentric and mad. Those who are addicts are often hyper and eccentric. Usually I prefer to do less loud characters,” he said.

On his on-screen rockstar look where he is seen sporting long hair and tattoos on body, Shahid said, “Abhishek Chaubey was concerned with what I was doing with my hair we had discussions over it and then things worked out. I did not want to get a body of a body builder I wanted it of someone who has abused himself. We worked a lot on that.” Given the unusual subject of the movie and his character, the 35-year-old star says telling a new story always involves a certain amount of risk.

“I think good and new stories needs to be told. If you don’t do it that way then you will never be able to discover things yourself and never be original. I feel new things are always risky,” he said. “The story of the film is honest and the intention of the film is to give message to audience.” he added. The film features Shahid Kapoor, Diljit Dosanjh, Kareena Kapoor Khan and Alia Bhatt in key roles.

Shatrugan Sinha thinks Ranveer Singh would do a good job starring in his biopic

Mumbai: Actor-politician Shatrughan Sinha, who recently launched his biography here, says if a film on his life is made, he would like Bajirao Mastani actor Ranveer Singh to star in it.

Megastar Amitabh Bachchan launched his biography Anything But Khamosh: The Shatrughan Sinha Biography on February 19.

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“I feel it would be a good story and it will be great as it’s a very inspirational story. There is romance, entertainment and everything in it. If a Hindi film is made on my biography, then Ranveer Singh can do a good job or my sons Luv and Kush who resemble me. I myself would like to do something,” Shatrughan told IANS.

The 338-page book has been written by renowned columnist, critic and author Bharathi S Pradhan. Seven years of research, 37 interviews and over 200 hours of taped conversations with photographs from the Sinha family’s private archives have gone into the writing and making of the biography.

He said: “It’s a very gripping book. Once you start reading, you don’t feel like leaving it in between. Most of my friends who have started reading this, told me that they can’t stop by reading just two or three pages.”

Welcome Back review: It’s utter nonsense but this Anil Kapoor, Nana Patekar film is good fun

There are bhais and there are bhais. The first belong to the underworld and the other, to sisters at large. Uday (Nana Patekar) and Majnu (Anil Kapoor) belong to both categories. In Welcome Back, a sequel to Welcome by the same director, we meet Uday and Majnu, miserable in their decent man acts and gentlemen suits, which, incidentally, make for quite an eye-catching wardrobe.

Eight years after Welcome, Uday and Majnu have stayed away from don-hood in Dubai, having promised their sister’s uncle-in-law, Dr Ghungroo (Paresh Rawal) that they will walk the straight and narrow. Now, as Dubai businessmen in Welcome Back, Uday and Majnu find respectability comes with baggage, sisters and con artistes.

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This time, the duo find themselves saddled with one more sister — Ranjana (Shruti Hassan), daughter to Uday’s wife-hopping father (Patekar in a small double role appearance).

So Majnu struts around, shoulders tilted, wearing silver or black jackets and his trademark blue shades. Uday glares and glowers at goons while muttering “control” to himself while in his head, guns lock and load each time anyone does anything to annoy him.

In Welcome Back, Uday and Majnu’s woe is that they’re single. Even their henchmen have families, but our winsome twosome don’t have wives who will gaze at them on Karva Chauth nights. Then, both of them land up in love with the same girl, Princess Chandni (Ankita Srivastava), daughter of Maharani Padmavati (Dimple Kapadia).

However, this is no real love story. Padmavati is a con artiste who works with her daughter to snag rich men and weasel money out of them.

In case you thought this was a spoiler, all this happens within the first 40 minutes of Welcome Back, which is proof that plot is the least of Bazmee’s concerns in this film.

When 50-something and fitter-than-ever Kapoor and Patekar begin their screen time dancing to “Meet Me Daily Baby” and spend the rest of the film going round in circles, you know you are in for director Anees Bazmee’s brand of slapstick comedy.

Matching them gun for a gun, skip for a skip, silly words for sillier one, and crow for a pigeon is John Abraham as Ajju bhai. While romancing Ranjana, he does some surprisingly good jumps and moves of his own to outwit Uday and Majnu.

Our first encounter with him has him thrusting body parts to the tune of “Main Babli hui, Tu Bunty hua/ Bandh kamre mein 20-20 hua”. A rival don (a cameo by Ranjeet) says, “Yeh 20-20 khel rehein hain, inke body ka 50-50 kar do.” There follows the inevitable fight in which more of the inevitable follows — small-time baddies go flying in different directions and Ajju takes off his shirt to display a huge, sinewed back and several packs of abs.

But he’s not all muscle and no masti. Ajju has some romance scenes, in which he’s the ingenue opposite Ranjana, which suits Abraham just fine too. Haasan is a better and refreshingly sweet replacement for Katrina Kaif from Welcome.

And if that wasn’t enough, two more characters (Naseeruddin Shah and Shiney Ahuja) fly in with choppers to add to the chaos created by Hop Patekar, Skip Kapoor and Jump Abraham.

Shah is Wanted Bhai, a blind daddy of all dons who will, of course, kill for his druggie son, Honey (Ahuja). A fine mess is created with Honey being in love with Ranjana while Ranjana wants to marry Ajju while her ‘brothers’, Uday and Majnu, want Ajju dead. Oh, and Ajju happens to be Dr Ghungroo’s wife’s illegitimate son. This causes Ghungroo to call his wife “boycut hulkut” (she has short hair) and come up with devious schemes of his own.

Welcome Back gallops along, powered by lines like “Logon ki ma-behen hoti hain, aapki baap-behen ho gayi” and “Mobile uski, sim apun ka, tu beech mein missed call dene waala kaun?” A long graveyard scene is thrown in, with Kapoor breaking into his fantastic “Ae ji O ji” number, with his never tiring, super-enthusiastic grin. Thankfully, the film moves on to a quick climax point with all the actors running across sand dunes of Dubai, chased by camels.

Welcome Back kicks up a storm of utter nonsense thanks to terrific comic timing by Patekar and Kapoor. And it happens to be a welcome break from 24/7 coverage of murder, financial crashes and other serious news — purely because of the two talented actors who hop, skip, dance and fool around with complete conviction.