‘Awe’movie review: moments of awesomeness

Awe is an unusual film. The trailer didn’t give away anything, except the fact that a few well-known actors have come together to do something new. A film like this can be a double-edged sword, with potential to be a game changer or end up as an experiment not many would care to watch. Awe turned out to be a slow-burn, shape-shifting film as it introduced its key characters and the strange worlds they inhabit.

Strange or outlandish are the operative words. Consider a wannabe chef (Priyadarshi) trying to land a job by following recipes from the internet, and later from the observant and witty fish (dubbed by Nani) in the kitchen. Then, there’s a curiously designed café with an equally curious-looking watchman (Srinivas Avasarala) who’s actually a mad scientist building a time machine and striking a conversation in Morse code with a guest.

Elsewhere, a distraught young woman (Kajal Aggarwal) is contemplating an extreme step. Also in the picture are an elderly man (Adarsh Balakrishna’s father) living in memory of his wife and a junkie (Regina) who, along with her boyfriend, looks forward to a different future by hook or crook.

You laugh aloud as Nithya Menen breezes through her part, oblivious to the effect of her presence or conversation on the elderly couple seated across the table. You tear up when another young woman talks about her past, one that’s scarred by abuse as a child; experiences that made her seek not just a new identity, but also be open to the idea of same sex marriage.

Debut writer-director Prashant Varma discusses issues of gender, abuse, identity and loss through a fabulous set of characters (aptly enacted by the several actors in this film) and an idea that holds it all together. The crux of the story lies in the last 15-20 minutes as the narrative shifts back and forth to a crucial point that changes the course of things. Amid all the initial humour, there are several cues — of a story told from a woman’s point of view. Kajal Aggarwal, Nithya Menen, Eesha Rebba and Regina shine through, giving their all to characters that don’t come by often.

With cinematographer Karthik Ghattamaneni and composer Mark K Robin, the director treats each of the segments and characters differently, with distinct colour palettes and background scores. When it all comes together with the big, final reveal, it turns out to be a a laudable idea and the writer-director doesn’t over-explain this to his audience. He leaves you to construct the film backwards and piece together the puzzle.

Awe has its moments of awesomeness. The format is interesting and so is the treatment of the different segments. But, it is wow enough? It could have been, had the coming together of the segments been even more seamless. The magician part, in particular, felt out of sync.

Oh wait, even this experiment leaves a little room for ‘mass’ humour in the form of Ravi Teja’s voice for a tree. His comments on eating shoots and leaves while on ‘diet’ are good fun.


Cast: Kajal Aggarwal, Nithya Menen, Eesha Rebba and Regina Cassandra

Direction: Prashant Varma

Storyline: A multi-genre film that stages the story of a distraught woman quite differently.

Rani Mukerji says I am No. 1 in my own game

Last I sat Rani Mukerji down for a long interview was at her Yari Road home in July 2005, in the company of her Labrador Tin Tin and Spitz Simba. The relaxed interaction was for a story on the then reigning queen of Bollywood. Among other things, we spoke about being single and good men being thin on the ground. Almost 13 years later, snatching some minutes off her busy schedule in a nondescript meeting room at Yashraj Studios, I am all ears as she speaks about how “amazing and wonderful” a journey it has been with her husband of four years, Aditya Chopra — director-producer-distributor and chairman of Yash Raj Films — and their two-year-old daughter Adira.

Happy domesticity taking over from carefree singledom. Lot else has changed in the interim. I have gained girth and grey hair. However Mukerji, in black jeans, boots and a dark grey T-shirt, doesn’t seem to have been touched by time. The 5’2” frame is just as slender, face lit with minimal makeup, the girl next door persona acquiring just a hint of imperiousness and self-awareness. She had told me back then: “I am like the ordinary girl in the house who is capable of showing a different side of her in the bedroom. My sexuality is not in-your-face.” That organic sensuality, warm smile and throaty voice are intact, but the actress hasn’t been wooing the box office with them as ardently as she once had.

For the last many years, Mukerji has been choosy, doing one film in a year or two. The forthcoming Hichki, directed by Siddharth P Malhotra, comes four years after Mardaani. The interim has been about marriage and motherhood. How has it affected her approach to work? Life is all about time management and work-home balance now, she tells me. “I don’t have a single second to spare. I tell my directors to be organised, get everything ready [on the sets], and I just come and shoot. I don’t even want to waste time eating [there]. I want to do my work and go back to my child,” she says. Yet she is incapable of giving a ho-hum shots. “I have to give my best,” she says. So Hichki has been all about getting even more focussed about work. As if in tandem, I also keep our conversation to the point. No small talk, just straightforward questions, one after the other.

Films and flexibility

According to Mukerji, it was her husband who pushed her back in front of the camera for Hichki. Much like how it was Chopra who had insisted she do Saathiya in early 2000, when she had almost nixed the Shaad Ali remake of Mani Ratnam’s Alaipayuthey. That film had proved to be the game changer for her. After the initial success of Ghulam and Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, her career had got badly stuck with one flop following another, till Saathiya pulled her back into the reckoning.

Chopra pushed her this time because he saw her getting consumed by domesticity. “He saw I was getting obsessed with my daughter,” she says. He told her she can’t change who she is — an actor — and that her fans were waiting for her. “He respects me as an individual, as a professional, and I think that helps me understand my goals as well,” she says. Earlier it was her mother who would goad her into discipline. “Now it’s my husband who has taken over the role,” she laughs.

There is a pattern to her recent films — they have mostly been start-to-finish projects, with Mukerji at the centre and no cast of big stars to support her. To pick up one film and complete it before starting another has always been her priority; now more so with her daughter around. No wonder she has been working with YRF, where she gets great flexibility. “If I get the same amount of freedom in another production house, I’d love to do it,” she says. YRF is also home-ground, I tell her. Doesn’t she feel an ownership now, after marriage? She pulls a face. “I have been a very individualistic person. My achievements are my own and my husband’s, his own. I think he has single-handedly done what he has done. I have been part of his movies, I have contributed to his productions, but the company is his father’s, and it is his,” she is categorical.

Starting young

Mukerji started very early in films, at the age of 16, dropping out of her 12th standard at Maneckji Cooper school. It was a means to support the family when financial crisis and her father’s ill health made things difficult in the mid ’90s. “There’s no harm in carving a niche at a younger age. We have heard of child prodigies and geniuses. Age should never be a factor to define who you should be in life. You can work even when you are 80,” she says.

She hopes she and Chopra will be as liberal as parents, so Adira will find her own space. “She will not be pressurised or bogged down by any responsibility other than her own. She will grow and blossom in a field she wants to,” says the hands-on mum. She clarifies, however, that “as an intelligent working mother I do take help. It is important for a child to have its own time, with other children”.

But being in the limelight can be problematic, too. How do they deal with it? By trying to give Adira as normal an upbringing as they can, she says. The media, too, has respected her wishes, not taking her daughter’s photos when asked not to “I feel what Adi and I have achieved is what we have worked hard for. Let her have the limelight when she deserves it,” she adds.

Making a point

Being a parent has also made her more sensitive to problems like Tourette Syndrome, which Hichki deals with. Perhaps it wouldn’t have impacted her as much in her single, carefree days. The film is an adaptation of Hollywood film, Front of the Class (2008), which itself was based on Brad Cohen’s book, Front of the Class: How Tourette Syndrome Made Me the Teacher I Never Had.

For someone whose intelligence is more instinctive than cultivated, Mukerji took a lot of help from Cohen, on whom her character, Naina, is based. “I used to Skype with him, to understand his mindset when he was a child and while growing up. Also, the discrimination he faced when he wanted to become a teacher,” she says. “He was rejected several times, but is now the principal of a school. How did he fight that? How did he achieve his goals?”

Of course, naturalness, spontaneity and fluidity continue to be the mainstay of acting for her. So she sought to make Brad’s life and his problems her own. “I had to do something that came from within me. I couldn’t copy a tick. It had to come from within, only then would it look natural,” she says. But there’s a larger awareness when it comes to the condition that she wants parents and teachers to know about — that it’s an involuntary disorder that you cannot cure, but can deal with. “Many a time, when a child or parent is in denial it can be very detrimental. But it is not the end of the road. There are special schools that offer you the right atmosphere,” she says, hoping her film will help people come out and talk about the syndrome. “There are so many kinds of discrimination that we have addressed in Hichki. It’s a very important film in that sense,” she says.

Staying relevant

Mukerji has seen it all, from big blockbusters to fat pay cheques. Thirteen years ago she told me that she will hold on to her number 1 slot till she got married. Now there seems to be an easygoing attitude to success. “I am the number 1 in my own game,” she says. “I should continue to believe in that, because if I don’t then I am going to get stagnant in my career.” The desire now is to keep competing with herself, to keep learning and finding new ways of innovating. “The day innovation goes away from my life, I will lose the audience,” she says, adding that the end for an actor comes when s/he thinks she has achieved it all.

But what after acting, marriage and motherhood? Direction? She folds her hand, moves her head furiously in denial: “Acting kar ke ghar chali jaaoon, wahi bahut hai baba (it’s enough to act and go back home after work).”

Behind Bollywood’s faces

Prosthetic makeup in Indian films is mainly a white man’s job. Filmmakers fly down artists from Hollywood and show little faith in local talents, let alone hire a woman for the job. But two special effects makeup designers, Preetisheel Singh (34) and Zuby Johal (36), are slowly changing that, one project at a time.

Singh’s most recent claim to fame is her work in Padmaavat — she designed Ranveer Singh’s menacing look as Alauddin Khilji, giving him a ‘deep-set glare’ and adding a prominent scar on his cheek to indicate the character’s ferocity. But that was just half the job. “I designed a chopped head for a sequence, and did the blood work in the war scenes,” says the Mumbai-based artist, whose craft often extends beyond the face, to creating artificial body parts that requires technical expertise. She also won praise for transforming Nawazuddin Siddiqui into a creepy-looking detective in last year’s thriller, Mom. Sporting a bald pate and buck teeth, the actor was virtually unrecognisable in the film that starred the late Sridevi.

On the other hand, Bengaluru-based Johal — who came to the fore with her work in Gangs of Wasseypur — is now taking her craft outside the set. For Anushka Sharma’s Pari, she has just unveiled large-scale silicone installations (of the actress and the ghost) at malls in Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru.

More than makeup

Chehre Pe Chehra (1981) was one of the first Bollywood films to use prosthetics. In the thriller (based on RL Stevenson’s Gothic novella, Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde), actor Sanjeev Kumar played the dual roles. Makeup artist Shashikant Mhatre is credited with creating his intimidating alter ego, designed with a facial contortion and buck teeth. Then, when budgets got bigger, producers began looking West. Kamal Haasan’s transformation into a corpulent woman in Chachi 420 (1997) was done by American artists Michael Westmore and Barry Koper, while Christien Tinsley (nominated for an Academy Award for The Passion of the Christ) created Amitabh Bachchan’s look as a child affected by progeria in Paa (2009). And while Baahubali bucked the trend with an Indian team, it was still a predominantly male one.

In fact, women makeup artists on film sets is a recent phenomena. A 60-year informal ban by the Cine Costume, Make-up Artists and Hair Dressers Association had them confined to vanity vans, sharing credit and remuneration with their male counterparts. Things changed in 2012 when makeup specialist Charu Khurana filed a petition and won. In November 2014, the Supreme Court ordered the Association to allow female artists to register and work on sets. However, that has not lessened the challenges for Singh and Johal.

“Unfortunately, in India, prosthetics is still clubbed with makeup, despite it being a different art,” says Singh, who studied at the Cinema Makeup School in Los Angeles. One of her solutions: her company, Da MakeUp Lab, offers everything from prosthetic design to high-fashion makeup and setting up a lab to ensure its indispensability.

Finding their stride

Singh, who specialises in character get-ups and life-like masks, left a job as a software engineer to move to Mumbai eight years ago. She took up several small-time assignments before her big break in 2015 — when her prosthetic designs in Nanak Shah Fakir won the National award for makeup. During this period, she met filmmaker Sanjay Leela Bhansali and signed Bajirao Mastani. Her current list of projects is impressive: Sriram Raghavan’s Shoot The Piano Player, Vikramaditya Motwane’s Bhavesh Joshi, and Thackeray featuring Siddiqui. “I gave him (Siddiqui) a fake nose and chin, and enlarged his ears to make him look as close to the character (Bal Thackeray) he is playing,” she says.

Johal, a graduate in ceramic and glass design from the National Institute of Design, got her first film project by chance. “I was doing some work at the Sadhu Vaswani Museum in Pune, when a friend who was interning with filmmaker Anurag Kashyap asked me to show him my work. I brought along one portrait and he gave me the scripts of Gangs of Wasseypur 1 and 2, and asked me to put in prosthetics wherever I could,” she recalls. Since then, her company, Dirty Hands Studio, with partner Rajiv Subba, has worked on projects like Katti Batti and Dil Dhadakne Do (2015) TrappedBose: Dead/Alive, and Raabta (2017). “In the latter, Rajkummar Rao played a 324-year-old oracle,” says Johal, who used high-resolution images and Photoshop to create an image before ageing the actor using prosthetics. She is currently working on a project called House of Stars, but is tight-lipped about details, only sharing that it is on the lines of a museum of celebrities. The installations for Pari fall under the project.

Checks and balances

The design process involves sculpting and moulding life casts of the actors. Silicone is used as the primary raw material as it has a transparent texture that makes it easier to blend with skin. “When I first started using silicone prosthetics almost a decade ago, the movie industry was only using latex. I had to explain to people what it was (and why it was better),” Johal says. Their main competitor is Vikram Gaikwad, a two-time National Film Award for Best Make-up Artist.

Today, working with silicone, fibreglass, marble, glass and metal casting, the two women ensure they keep themselves constantly updated. While Singh spends her free time surfing the net and doing online courses on new techniques and materials, Johal has teamed up with a consultant in Los Angeles to ensure she is on top of trends. But there are still challenges, like budget constraints. Interestingly though, this has also seen projects getting bounced between them. “I had to bow out of Haider over money issues,” says Johal, who teaches prosthetics at the Film and Television Institute of India. Singh, on the other hand, jumped on board when the Vishal Bhardwaj film came to her. “I did Haider for very little money, and more for the experience of working with such a fantastic filmmaker,” she concludes.

‘Pari’ review: This Anushka Sharma–starrer makes even ordinary objects seem scary

Prosit Roy’s Pari is the kind of horror that gags and chokes you with an incipient dread. But only up to a point. The setting is a rainy, wet Kolkata; a beautiful inscrutable woman Rukhsana (Anushka Sharma) is being hunted down by a group of cruel men; there are inexplicable unearthly presences; a strange, grotesque cult ; its equally cryptic opponents; an evil force whose menace you can’t see but only hear in the rasping sound of his breath and a kind, young man Arnab (Parambrata Chatterjee), possibly the only “normal” one around.

Roy builds a relentless feel of doom, the lobs of fear broken only briefly with tiny interludes of romance. There’s a terrible sense of oppressiveness that makes you want to run away to grab some fresh air, yet it’s enough to intrigue you to want to stay on. Yes, there are many jump scares (can we ever escape them) but Roy does well in creating a suffocating atmosphere, invests some ordinary objects and creatures with a significant, pivotal eerieness, be it incense sticks, a bucket of water, an artificial eye, a tube of Boroline cream, a nailcutter, the cartoons on the TV or the dogs on the street. I am never going to look at them the same way again. A nailcutter sequence and one involving the pet neighbourhood dog almost left me with a myocardial infarction.

Sadly, Roy is not able to sustain it. Halfway through the film, when he explains it all, the essential horror vanishes. What you are left holding on to thereafter are some gimmicky, supernatural sequences and gory revenge and retribution scenes.There are familiar tropes from a clutch of horror films–Roman Polanski’s Rosemary’s Baby, Richard Donner’s The Omen, Gehrayee by Aruna-Vikas. But Roy takes them away from the usual Christian and Hindu backdrops and places them in some fictional Muslim occult.

There’s plenty of interesting stuff happening in the head of the filmmaker. For one there’s a compelling character at the centre, a woman trying to grapple with the split within herself (and Anushka Sharma does well with role); then there’s the obfuscation of the duality between the good and the bad–that there’s the possibility of humaneness in the devil and the humane may at times veer towards the devil. But Roy makes it all too literal complete with a righteous, virtuous take on pregnancy and abortion. In an effort to find a neat closure (when he could have tried to make a Omen-like franchisee out of it), the director spins out a clumsy climax. Wish he had left a lot more unsaid and unresolved.

The elusive blockbuster of 2018 in Telugu film industry

The film industry and theatres across Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu are inching towards the proposed strike beginning March 2, as the stand-off between film producers and Digital Service Providers (DSPs) continues. At the time of this piece going to print, we were informed that last-minute negotiations are on. If the stalemate isn’t broken, theatres will not be able to screen any new film. Cinema halls might opt for closure or make do with old hits, if they are made available to them.

In the last few days, both the DSPs and film producers have been vocal about the bone of contention — VPF or visual projection fee and sharing of ad revenue. A detailed account of what led to this situation has been written about in The Hindu, but for those tuning in now, producers want DSPs such as Qube and UFO to lower their VPF, which currently stands at ₹ 22,500 per screen for a regional film, and the cost is borne by the producer.

In addition to the demand to lower this fee, producers also want the ad volume during film screenings to be curbed. Been subjected to 15 or 20 minutes ads at the theatres? Not only does that mar the film-viewing experience, but at a revenue level, the footfalls are shared by exhibitors and DSPs and not by producers.

“The terms are unfair. Only Indian films are charged a VPF while the same is not levied on international films screened here. Their clause doesn’t indicate a sunset period for the VPF. If there’s a time limit, say two or three years down the line, exhibitors will look at alternatives. We also explored the possibility of DSPs selling the projectors at a depreciating value to the exhibitors, but that too hasn’t worked out,” says leading producer Sureshbabu, who is also an exhibitor, and has been an active part of these negotiations.

While the exhibitors, film producers and DSPs slug it out to find a viable solution, it’s been a dismal box office situation for the Telugu industry this year. The biggest of the January releases, Agnyaathavasi, bit the dust while Bhaagamathie scraped through.

February saw a streak of hope in the urban hit Tholi PremaAwe, made with a much smaller budget and catering to a limited section of viewers, did better than was expected by the makers. But the real big blockbuster that results in a significant money churn in the industry, has been elusive.

All eyes are now on star-studded films lined up for April and May. March is considered a lean period as most filmmakers hold back their releases until the end of exam season. “Sometimes, there is a spillover of prospectively good films from February and that rakes in the revenue for March. This year nothing significant has been lined up for the beginning of March, so the strike will not affect the industry. In fact, films that are still running in theatres this week, in 80% of the cases, will not even be able to recover the VPF cost. Earlier, if we encountered five to 10 bad weeks in a year, the trend has changed now. There are 20 good weeks and 30 bad ones. Content has to be good enough to draw people to theatres. If they can watch films on the digital media, they are not going to venture to the theatres unless it is worth it,” says Sureshbabu.


Rajinikanth’s ‘Kaala’ teaser released

The much-awaited teaser of actor Rajinikanth’s Kaala was released at midnight on Friday.

“Always Deepavali when a thailavar movie teaser releases,” tweeted actor Dhanush, whose Wunderbar Films has produced the movie. It has been directed by Pa. Ranjith, with whom Rajini had worked earlier for Kabali.

Set in Mumbai, Kaala reportedly chronicles the life of a gangster essayed by Rajinikanth. It also stars Huma Quereshi, Nana Patekar and Anjali Patil, with music by Santhosh Narayanan.

Kaala is scheduled to release on April 27.

Kangana Ranaut Fashionistas of Bollywood

Fiery and undauntable, Kangana Ranaut continues to take the industry by storm. Whether it’s about her incredible movie performances- unconventional and raw or her frank manner of addressing issues that nobody else in the industry dares to talk about- Kangana does it all in style.

The flamboyant actress recently graced the cover of Femina magazine and we must say, she has to be the epitome of the fearless modern-day woman. Kangana is easily the first person who comes to mind when you talk feminism and is certainly synonymous with the term in our country.

Sporting a black lace top with an over-sized glossy midnight blue jacket wrapped around it, Kangana oozes confidence and elan and she poses with her hands folded. And there’s no messing around with this lady for sure.

 ‘Race 3’:Salman shoots in thailand jungle

For Bollywood star Salman Khan, it was time to fire up those engines and zooming around the dense jungles of Thailand, as he shot for his upcoming actioner ‘Race 3’. The actor, who was in the city on Tuesday, to pay his respects to late actress Sridevi, appears to be back in action to shoot for a high octane chase sequence.

Sporting a well fitted white shirt, dusty boots and bruises on his face, the actor clicked on a variety of bikes and off-road vehicles. He obliged fans and fellow supporting actors with pictures on the sets. According to reports, Salman and his leading lady Jacqueline Fernandez will be shooting an intense chase sequence in the jungles of Thailand over the span of 10 days.

For the film, Jacky has reportedly been training hard in MMA, Jiu Jitsu, boxing, kickboxing and Thai boxing for her role in the film.

Also starring Anil Kapoor, Bobby Deol, Saquib Saleem and Daisy Shah, ‘Race 3’ will hit theatres on Eid 2018.

Veera’ review: Sketch in, sketch out

mandram (association) forms the backdrop of everything that happens in Veera. The film opens with a history of how mandrams were formed in the first place for social good, but have now turned into the dens of wrongdoing. Over many games of carrom in these dimly-lit mandrams, youngsters plot murders and kidnappings. To borrow a word that Tamil cinema has become fascinated with in recent times, they “sketch”.

Veeramuthu (Krishna) is one such youngster. He’s adept at plotting evil acts, we’re told often, but he – and his friend Pachamuthu (Karunakaran) – don’t have the kind of respect they aim for. That’s because Sura Murugan (Kanna Ravi) has become the toast of the colony, thanks to the backing of heavyweight Boxer Rajendran.

What starts off as a petty face-off between Veera and Sura gets serious when the former goes to Sketch Sekar (Radha Ravi) for guidance on learning the tricks of the trade. Veera goes in expecting a goonda, but is surprised to see him as a godman, now far away from the business of ‘sketch’. He trains Veera in some of the more interesting sequences in the film.

Things heat up with the entry of Kumar, who lusts after Boxer Rajendran’s daughter Renuka. Veera gets entangled in a face-off that he least expects to get into, but he must solve the puzzle to emerge victorious.

Veera keeps moving at a decent pace and engages at most times. It cleverly avoids the mistake that this year’s earlier film on a similar subject – Vikram’s Sketch– did, and doesn’t hero worship one bit. It’s also a relief that the love track is kept to a minimal; there’s composer Leon James’ adorable ‘Veratama Veratariye’ to watch out for. Karunakaran moves away from just comedy and gets a role equal to that of the lead – a sure sign of his rising popularity in filmdom.

The staging of the sequences might be average, but director Rajaram sketches some pretty interesting characters. A murderer is now a godman. A rowdy is named Jonty Rhodes because “he used to scale walls to impress aunties”. They all use cuss words at the drop of a hat – probably the reason behind the film’s A certificate – and are all engaged in local fights. No wonder the film’s tagline is “first blood.”

Bharath Bala says I plan to make 1,000 films in five years

The best part about film festivals is most filmmakers are approachable. They not only watch films with the audience but also make ample time to answer your queries and are open to criticism pointed out by the audience.

This year, it was filmmaker Bharath Bala, whose session kickstarted the seminars at Biffes. His topic was “Film making and India as a Land of Stories”.

“I plan to make 1,000 films in the next five years that portray India’s rich cultural heritage which needs to be recovered and preserved,” started the director of Hari Om and Vande Mataram.

Bharath screened a few films from his “Project Stories of India” – Talam (a movie on chuudan Vallam boat race), Pahani Sahib (a story narrating the love for classical music among the young girls of Punjab) and Muthuvan Kalyana(depicting the wedding traditions of the Adivasis of silent valley).

For Muthuvan Kalyana, Bharath revealed that he spent an entire day at the valley to get a perfect shot using a drone.

How many filmmakers will have the patience to do it? “I am sure every filmmaker follows their vision. Yet, I feel some do not get out of their comfort zones. You need to shake yourself and find that perfect emotion. Exploration is critical as is originality when it comes to telling stories.”

Bharath then adds that his aim of showcasing his films at festivals is to “get the regular viewer inspired to watch more independent films.”

1000 short films

Bharath says that he plans to make 1,000 short films in the next five years. But how does one find the stories? “You have to keep your eyes and ears open and one has to learn how to tell a story in the most interesting manner through film. Some of the short films can be made into full length features. The characters can be developed and so can the story.”

He goes on to explain how short films are the perfect medium to keep Indian stories alive.” One should not make a film as a documentary, art film or a commercial film. It should be approached with the same passion as a medium of telling stories, no matter what genre, only then will you give it your all.” He gives credit to our grandparents who “told us stories. When we listen to their words, we discover that our land is rich in culture, stories and heritage. Then you wonder if you can retain that aspect in films. That is what I want to do using my talent of making films. I can make feature films, but I am slogging it out to make short films because I want to celebrate humanity and keep that tradition of storytelling alive.”



STORY: Sonu and Titu are childhood besties. Sonu, the cynical millennial comes to Titu’s rescue every time he faces heartbreak and convinces him to stay single, too. But Titu, a hopeless romantic, falls for the quintessential good girl, Sweety. Is there more to her than meets the eye?

REVIEW: ‘Pyaar Dosti hai’ — Shah Rukh Khan may have said that way back in 1998 but Luv Ranjan proves it with a twist in 2018. Unpredictable throughout, the film’s real love story is the friendship (platonic) between its two male characters (Kartik Aaryan as Sonu and Sunny Singh as Titu), who are inseparable. Sweety’s (Nushrat Bharucha) arrival, messes their equation, leading Sonu to wonder if the girl is good enough for his brother from another mother. Who ends up as the third wheel in this unique and somewhat bizarre love triangle, forms the story.

If you are familiar with Luv Ranjan’s brand of youthful romcoms, you must know that they often represent young lovelorn men, who find themselves dancing to the tunes of manipulative girlfriends. Sonu Ke Titu ki Sweety (SKTKS) too revolves around a hapless victim of calculative ‘affairs’ and if you liked the Pyaar Ka Punchnama movies, you are bound to enjoy this one.

Despite its misogynistic nature, Ranjan’s lighthearted approach to counter gender stereotypes in modern relationships makes his take fascinating. A girl can be a villain too! We wonder why Sweety must announce ‘Main chaalu hoon,’ to Sonu though? Nonetheless, various other situations seem relatable, which helps.

The casting works well as all performances are in sync with the film’s cheeky demeanour. ‘Monologue man’ Kartik makes the most of his meatier part and steals the show. Alok Nath in a not so sanskari role is delightful. Sunny, Nushrat and Ishita Raj add to the entertainment quotient. However, what doesn’t work for the movie is its duration. Stretched for almost 2 hours, 20 minutes, the Sonu vs Sweety battle, several songs and dialogues (tu shaadi sirf sex ke liye kar raha hai kya) keep going in circles to the point of being uninteresting. Also, Sonu’s outright hatred for Sweety lacks a valid reason, which makes his motive to break Titu’s marriage seem more like a romantic obsession than possessiveness or protective behaviour as intended.

Despite the odds, this bromance vs romance comedy works as an exciting guessing game to predict who’ll end up as the third wheel — best friend or girlfriend? This means war.


Sridevi death: Cops check call logs, question hotel staff and family

Sources in Dubai said Dubai Public Prosecution (DPP), will if necessary, ask for another post mortem on Sridevi’s body. It is also learned that Kapoor has been asked not to leave Dubai until DPP permits him. Meanwhile the police are examining Sridevi’s phone call records.

Investigators in Dubai examining the circumstances of actor Sridevi’s death questioned hotel staff and those accompanying her including her husband on Monday. They were to recreate the sequence of events leading to the discovery of her body in room number 2201 at Jumeirah Emirates Towers.
Dubai police sources said clearance for the body to be taken to India would be given after questioning is completed on Tuesday. “There are questions that we have after seeing the post-mortem report, so we felt we had to reinvestigate the case,” a source said.

Pending the investigation, Sridevi’s body will remain at Al Qusais morgue while the hotel room has been sealed by the police.Dubai rules state that a death occurring anywhere outside a hospital has to be investigated thoroughly, even if it is a natural death.Sridevi’s medical records from India have also been sought. The prosecutor’s office wants to know what medical treatment she had taken before and what surgeries she underwent and if that had any bearing on her sudden death.

As per Dubai rules, the death certificate was first issued in Arabic. The attested English translation was also provided.

Kapoor’s office said in Mumbai that the body of the actress would be flown to Mumbai on Tuesday. On Monday, a 13-seat Jet belonging to the Reliance group headed by Anil Ambani was kept ready at Dubai airport to transport Sridevi’s body to India. The flight was also scheduled to take off at 4.30pm. However, it did not as the prosecutor’s office granting final permission to transport the body out of the country was pending.“Following the completion of post-mortem analysis, Dubai Police today stated that the death of Indian actress Sridevi occurred due to drowning in her hotel apartment’s bathtub following loss of consciousness. Dubai Police has transferred the case to Dubai Public Prosecution, which will carry out regular legal procedures followed in such cases,” Dubai Police said on Monday evening.

Mindful of media speculation, the Indian ambassador to UAE tweeted later in the evening that in such cases “it does take 2-3 days to complete processes.” He said the embassy was in regular contact with the actor’s family. to ensure that “mortal remains can be sent to India at the earliest.”

Sridevi — the full story

In her chase of stardom across five different film industries and over as many decades, acting never took a backseat. “Range” is a word often used to describe the actor’s prowess. Drama, emotions, dance, comedy, even action. There was nothing she wasn’t proficient at.

Here’s a look at the career of one of the brightest stars of Indian cinema through The Hindu’s coverage.

Sometimes you can apprehend the intimations of a tragedy in hindsight. It was in the early hours of Sunday morning that I saw Amitabh Bachchan’s tweet: “Na jaane kyun ek ajeeb si ghabrahat ho rahi hai (I don’t know why I am feeling a sense of unease).” Eerily, within minutes, the shocking news of actor-producer Sridevi’s untimely demise in Dubai started pouring in.

Bollywood came to a standstill and one of the several shoots that got cancelled on Sunday was of a song composed by Bachchan himself, for Umesh Shukla’s film 102 Not Out. It was meant to be shot with Bachchan and Rishi Kapoor, two of many top heroes that Sridevi consistently starred with, at the peak of her Hindi film career.

Breaking the mould

In the chase for stardom, acting never took a backseat. ‘Range’ is a word often used to describe an actor’s prowess. Drama, emotions, dance, comedy, even action — there was nothing she wasn’t proficient at. She made her debut in Bollywood as a child artiste in Julie (1975) followed by a teenager act in a complicated love triangle in Solva Saawan (1979). Her resounding success began with Jeetendra in the 1983 blockbuster Himmatwala. It set off a spree of several films with him, most of which were South productions and huge hits. They also earned her the rather pejorative title of ‘thunder thighs’.

Straddling many worlds

Her critical and commercial hits continued. In 1983, Sridevi’s stunning performance in the remake of Tamil film Moondram Pirai (1982) opposite Kamal Haasan got rave reviews from critics but bombed at the box office. Two of Yash Chopra’s most memorable films were with Sridevi — one a massive hit (Chandni, 1989) and the other a flop (Lamhe, 1991). Even her snake-woman films — Nagina (1986) and Nigahen (1989) — were insanely popular.

A career-defining act came in Mr. India (1987) — be it her Charlie Chaplin mimicry or the erotic rain song in the blue chiffon sari. Reams have been written about how the song ‘Kaate Nahi Katate Ye Din Ye Raat’ is the perfect representation of all that Sridevi stood for — oomph with rare dignity and grace. There was a gravitas and propriety in her bearing even in the worst of films on her ouvre. Combined with that was the mix of innocence and mischief in her huge, saucer eyes. No wonder, Sridevi’s connect with the audience was electric. How could you not dance along to ‘Kisi ke haath na aayegi ye ladki’ (Chalbaaz, 1989) and marvel at her expressiveness and abandon in front of the camera, while still being intensely private and introverted in real life?

Mehdi Nebbou, who played her French admirer in English Vinglish (2012) famously described her eyes as “two drops of coffee in a cloud of milk”. In her comeback film, she brought alive the vulnerability, dilemmas and hurt of a woman who has been taken for granted.

Final glimpses

The last we will see of Sridevi will be as herself in SRK’s forthcoming Zero,directed by Aanand L. Rai. The last we saw her on screen was in Mom (2017). As usual, her character was a picture of dignity, despite the turmoil and rage locked up within. It was her 300th film, 50 years since she joined cinema. “The film is my tribute to her and since I cannot build a Taj Mahal for her, I am making Mom,” her husband, producer Boney Kapoor, had prophetically said. Those words, like Bachchan’s tweet, seem to have apprehended the intimations of a tragedy, in hindsight.

veteran actress sridevi passes away


Palekar was Sridevi’s co-star in her Hindi debut film, ‘Solva Sawan’ (1979). “It was an absolutely fascinating experience,” Palekar told TOI, reminiscing about shooting that film. “We forged a good friendship. She was extremely young, and I still remember how shy and guarded she was, as she was not very comfortable speaking English,” he recalled.

With a record 11 Filmfare Award nominations and a commendable 3 wins is a feat every other Bollywood actress would envy. India’s first bona fide female superstar Sridevi left behind a remarkable legacy as she passed away on Sunday, February 25, 2018. Here’s looking at Sridevi’s most memorable films in Bollywood.

President Ram Nath Kovind, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress President Rahul Gandhi have condoled the death of the veteran actress saying that she was an incredibly talented and versatile actress.

As per the reports, apart from Rajinikanth, top stars from the Telugu film industry too, are expected to attend her funeral. Namely, Chiranjeevi, Nagarjuna, and Venkatesh are likely to be representing the Tollywood. Bharathiraaja, K Raghavendra Rao, Ambareesh, Prakash Raj and many other personalities from South films are expected to be in Mumbai to be part of her funeral.

Sridevi will always remain alive in my memory. It feels awkward to speak of her in the past tense. We have lost the biggest star of our country. I still cannot believe it. It will take many years to register what has actually happened