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Jagga Jasoos: Anurag Basu opens up about Ranbir, Katrina and shooting without a physical script

Anurag Basu is one of those people who has the habit of finishing his sentences very fast while communicating. This only means you have to be extra cautious while listening to him, lest you miss out on words.

When I meet him at the Disney office, he seems relaxed in a blue floral half-sleeved shirt and loose trousers. Along with Ranbir, he has just delivered a succession of TV interviews and is still raring to go. The relaxed vibe could also be attributed to a different technique that he has been employing for his films.

Ranbir Kapoor and Katrina Kaif in Jagga Jasoos. Image from Firstpost

“For both Barfi and Jagga Jasoos, I went ahead and shot the climax first. It gives you a sort of confidence and the entire film is clear in your head. I do this only because the climax of a film is the most difficult portion to shoot and if you are able to finish the most difficult portion first, then it’s like catching the bull by its horn,” explains Basu.

The germ of his latest venture Jagga Jasoos lies in his own daughter. After he showed Barfi to her and met with a disapproval, he was on the lookout for a subject that could appeal to his daughter and replace the Hollywood flicks synonymous with Disney and Pixar. Jagga Jasoos was thus born, a musical with a tinge of thriller.

The film also marks the second collaboration of Anurag with his ‘muse’ Ranbir Kapoor. “Ranbir is a great person and that’s why he makes a great actor” says Basu.

For the filmmaker, it was a task explaining the genre of the film to his investors. “It was very tough to explain, as there was no reference for this musical thriller. It was more like walking a completely dark path but then slowly as you move ahead, the vision became clear,” he says. Basu is a sucker for musicals and counts Mary Poppins, Sound of Music and the more recent La La Land as his favorites. He also cites a film that was made in his mother tongue Satyajit Ray’s Heerak Rajar Deshe, as one of his favourites.

To borrow words from Ranbir Kapoor, chaos is what best describes Basu’s sets. He reportedly never carries a ‘physical’ screenplay, as it’s all there in his head. Ranbir has admitted that when he was given the first narration of Jagga Jasoos, the entire movie was in his head but nothing on paper. “It’s just not possible to shoot a film without a screenplay. You have to have a graph with a beginning, middle and the end. You just cannot land on the sets and start shooting scenes. It’s just not possible. The script is definitely there somewhere, it’s either in the head, or in some drawer or in the back pocket of the director,” says the director, without revealing where he kept his script.

While the initial days of the film were marred with casting issues, there were also reports of some early scenes of the film being scrapped. As per Basu, only two small scenes were scrapped and nothing was reshot. The build-up to all this also resulted in negative publicity for the film.

“It’s difficult for both Ranbir and I to keep explaining and justifying. Ranbir is not on social media and I am hardly active. The film should speak for itself and there is no point giving justifications,” he clarifies.

Rumours related to Katrina Kaif’s commitment towards the film after her alleged split with Ranbir also did the rounds. Quiz Basu about it and he talks more about her professional commitments: “She has been amazing actually, and Ranbir and her compliment each other. They gave each other lots of space when on the sets. Both of them have behaved in a professional manner throughout the film.  It’s also very difficult for actors to give consistency when a film is in making for long. It was tough for them and they could have easily lost their interest.”

Basu also clarifies about the image of Govinda that’s been floating on social media these days. He clarifies that he did shoot with Govinda for a special appearance in the film, but because of some changes it could not find a place in the final cut.

Right at the helm of the film, I wonder what occupies the director’s mind. He jokingly reveals a grudge he has towards Ranbir. “I really want to work with most actors from the industry, but he is just not allowing me to. Kamina, karne hi nahi deta hai. There was a film planned with Shah Rukh Khan but something happened at the end moment, I am hopeful that after Jagga Jasoos it might just happen,” reveals Basu.

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.

Kala Chashma mashup: Sunny Deol’s moves give serious competition to Katrina

The Katrina Kaif-Sidharth Malhotra song ‘Kala Chashma’ from the film Baar Baar Dekho has been trending ever since it was released a few days ago. Tacking on to the trend is a mashup video by Socially Awkward.

The mashup version features visuals from Sunny Deol’s  song ‘Chhammak Chhallo Zara Dhire Challo’ from the movie Ajay (1996) to the tunes of ‘Kala Chashma‘.

A still from Sunny Deol's 'Chhammak Chhallo'

The result: a nostalgic and fun watch.

The video has had people in splits, and with good reason. Sunny Deol’s dance moves, in which he is ably accompanied by Karisma Kapoor, seem like they were made just for ‘Kala Chasma’!

Another highlight of the video is ‘special effects’ in between — definitely eye-catching!

And while the choreography in ‘Kala Chasma’ is all that is trendy and contemporary, the throwback to the typical Bollywood dance routines of the ’90s makes for a fun change.

There are several spoof versions of ‘Kala Chashma‘ that have been shared on social media, but Sunny’s version has proved to be by far the most popular.

‘Fitoor’ in Janpath: Aditya Roy Kapur and Katrina Kaif go shopping in Delhi

New Delhi: It was shopping time for Aditya Roy Kapur and Katrina Kaif. The actors, who are in the national capital to promote their forthcoming film Fitoor, went on a shopping spree here.

The actors went to the street shopping hub Janpath market in the capital on Saturday afternoon, and picked up some knick-knacks for each other.

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According to a source, the actors got a window from their busy schedule, and they made sure they made the most of it.

It is a well-known fact that Katrina splashed colours of red to her tresses for the role as Firdaus in the film. And it seems that she was channelling her character during the shopping sojourn with her clothes.

The actress looked ravishing in a printed red jumpsuit, while Aditya sported a casual look. Aditya helped Katrina select earrings and bangles.

They even gifted each other. Katrina bought a smart stole for Aditya, while he picked up earrings for her.

The on-screen couple will be seen romancing in the Abhishek Kapoor-directorial, which will hit the screens on February 12.

Phantom review: Kabir Khan’s ‘thriller’ with Saif Ali Khan, Katrina Kaif is plain boring

There is only one explanation for Phantom: the cast and crew of the film really wanted a paid holiday. This in itself is not an objectionable aspiration. Who doesn’t want to be able to bounce around London, Beirut, Chicago and other beautiful parts of the world, and get paid to do so? However, when the cost of that bouncing around is approximately Rs 55 crores and those who foot that bill expect the movie-going public to recover that amount as box office collection, things may get a little more complicated.

As an idea, Phantom crackles with possibility. Humiliated and furious after the terrorist attacks on Mumbai in 2008, India’s Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) decides to send an operative on a covert mission to teach those who plotted against India a lesson. He is a man who goes unnoticed in crowds and who has evaded Google’s all-seeing eye. He doesn’t care if his target has a human side or redeeming qualities — if you had any part to play in the Mumbai attacks, the phantom wants you dead.

In your head, you now see a desi super spy with Daniel Craig’s cool menace, Tom Cruise’s stunt-worthiness, Jason Statham’s punches. What you get in Phantom is Saif Ali Khan.

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As court-martialled soldier Daniyal, Khan takes the idea of a game face to a whole new level. For all of 147 minutes, he sports precisely one expression, give or take some make up and facial hair. He doesn’t move as much as lumber, he is thoroughly indiscreet and everywhere he goes, he sticks out like a sore thumb. If this was because of his good looks, we’d forgive it. But Khan spends the entire film looking both awkward and impassive, as though he’s got a hangover and is doing his best to block out the headache.

One can’t help but feel that there was hope and a prayer governing the decision to name Katrina Kaif’s character Nawaz in Phantom. Sadly, those prayers were not answered. Almost sharing a name with Nawazuddin Siddiqui doesn’t ensure the transference of his acting ability. Compared to Khan’s one expression, Kaif has none. Whether she’s crying over lives lost or reminiscing about having tea at the Taj Mahal Hotel, there’s not a hint of emotion to mar her perfect complexion and gorgeous features.

Smartly, director Kabir Khan decides to not rely upon his lead pair’s charisma and acting skills to woo the audience. Instead, he takes the audience globe trotting. We begin in Mumbai, move on to Kashmir, London, Chicago, Beirut, a recreated-in-Lebanon Syria and finally land up in Pakistan. In each place, people are killed and Daniyal wrinkles his brow, possibly because he’s trying to figure out how much of his beard he should trim since his facial hair changes as much as the landscape in Phantom.

When a film rests upon Khan and Kaif to hold the audience’s attention, the action better be explosive and the plot, tightly-wound. The stunts aren’t bad in Phantom, but they’re not memorable. Still, the sounds of explosions and bullets will at least keep you awake. For the plot, there is only one word: woeful. Phantom could have been a clever film. It borrows heavily from very dramatic, real incidents that are begging to be fictionalised. Only here, the characters are badly drawn, the dialogues are clumsy, the transitions are jumpy and the politics are horribly simplified — it’s as though the screenplay was written overnight. The film quickly starts feeling predictable and the strategies to kill the terrorists are not particularly gripping. It doesn’t help that one of the plans requires us to watch (and hear) Daniyal doing potty.

But well before art imitates life, you have to wonder about RAW’s judgement when we see Daniyal in action the first time around. With Nawaz, Daniyal is first supposed to identify a Lashkar-e-Taiba operative in a packed stadium and then, they’re to discreetly follow the suspect around London. Daniyal and Nawaz’s behaviour is so shifty and obviously suspicious — Daniyal’s midlife-crisis-signalling leather jacket really doesn’t help — that it’s a wonder they weren’t snapped up for questioning by the British security service.

Not only can he not blend in, Daniyal lets Nawaz (a civilian under contract with RAW) know he’s going around killing Lashkar operatives. This is not necessarily the best way to keep a top-secret plot, secret. Nawaz then proceeds to get deeply involved in Daniyal’s mission to avenge India. Why? Because her daddy used to take her to have tea and chocolate pastry at the Taj when she was a kid. If it’s the dessert-flavoured memory that’s fuelling her, it’s a good thing Nawaz hasn’t been back to Bombay and tasted Le 15’s chocolate and salted caramel tart.

Kabir Khan also tries the standard trick of casting good actors in key supporting roles, but Sabyasachi Chakrabarty, Rajesh Tailang and Zeeshan Ayyub are all wasted on characters that have been badly written. Ayyub, for instance, plays Samit Mishra, a chap who appears in the RAW director’s office out of nowhere. We mean this literally. His introductory scene literally has him materialise in the middle of a meeting, on the couch in the RAW director’s office, as though he’s been beamed in place by Starship Enterprise. Most tragically, he doesn’t even get to have chai with Nawaz despite having ventured into enemy waters to save her life.

Things finally turn a little tense in the second half of the film, when Daniyal is in Pakistan and the ISI start closing their net around him. There are a few close calls and at one point, it seems like Daniyal just might get caught after all. Unfortunately, since Daniyal might be the most bland and uncharismatic hero we’ve seen on screen in years, no one cares if he lives or dies. The man spends 147 minutes killing bad guys — Pakistani bad guys, no less — and the only moment when he drew cheers from the crowd was when he told a baddie called Haaris Saeed that India wants “insaf“.

In case you haven’t guessed, Haaris Saeed is the stand-in name for Hafiz Saeed. Evidently, his name was changed to Haaris at the last moment since when speaking of him, all the characters’ lips say “Hafiz” but voices say “Haaris”. Sajid Mir, the Lashkar-e-Taiba commander, doesn’t enjoy that privilege. Even the photo that we’re shown of him is quite similar to the photos of Mir that are in circulation.

Considering how Phantom cheerfully borrows from real life and makes no bones about ISI being in cahoots with Lashkar-e-Taiba, it isn’t surprising that the film isn’t being shown in Pakistan. However, considering just how much of a bore Phantom is, for once the Pakistani courts may just have done our neighbours a favour.