Talking Movies

Talking Movies
Talking movies

Monday, 7 August 2017

Jab Harry Met Sejal: Why SRK's loser act and Anushka's Gujju accent worked for me

 (First published in DailyO )

In the only ever so slightly emotional scene in the otherwise lighter than popcorn movie, JHMS, Harry (Shah Rukh Khan) stands at a seashore and yells out to the horizon—“hello…India..”. He is on European shores and misses his home, his Punjab, his younger turbaned avatar with dreams. Just when he starts telling the deeper truth of his feelings for Sejal (Anushka Sharma), the scene is rudely interrupted by a blow on his head. The spoiler here is not this little detail, but the moment rendered incomplete. This is typically Imtiaz Ali. There is always a gem of an idea, the spark of an insight, which shines and seduces you to the story. But, dare to go close and the plot digresses and heads further into Europe’s trams, with no real purpose.

Like his previous film, ‘Tamasha’, the boy and the girl are on holiday. They met in the beautiful Corsica earlier and indulged in a lot of role-play bordering into a bipolarity of sorts. Thankfully, the characters in JHMS, are more rooted, with just enough complexity to keep us engaged. They are also holidaying. This time, across 5 countries: Prague, Amsterdam, Vienna, Lisbon and Budapest. Tamasha’s Ranbir and Deepika are quite clear that they will strictly have a holiday romance and nothing more. JHMS’s Harry and Sejal have  a somewhat similar pact. Sejal has a fiancĂ© back home amongst rich Gujju diamond merchants. She calls it  fa-i-mily business.

As Harry points out, she is ‘sweet’. And pretty like porcelain vase. The ones you admire but don’t touch. In Harry, she discovers the desire to be desirable…”laayak” as they put it politely. “Laayak” is the kind of girl who is hot. So she tries to do some cool moves.

Again, there is a momentary glimpse of a fun character to explore here. A so called good girl who wants to be selfish and have some ‘bad’ moments before she goes back to the mundane dhokla- paatra, gold and diamond life of a girl who thinks Amsterdam is in France (Gujjus may hate the gentle mockery here but this part is genuinely funny).

But Imtiaz refuses to go into Sejal’s wilder side and plays it safe. Likewise, with Harry. Shahrukh’s Harry is a world weary, seasoned Romeo who is a tour guide in Europe. He would rather drive a tractor across the fields of Punjab and sing louder than the sound of the tractor. Ever since Subhash Ghai’s ‘Pardes’ and Aditya Chopra’s ‘Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge’, the stories are written with one eye at the NRI box office. Which sadly, has Harry with one foot  and a dimple charming every female client in Europe and the other itching to do bhangra with his only true love as desi as the makhhan or dhokla.

Whenever the real, lonely Harry emerges and allows himself to be vulnerable enough to ask for a simple hug from the sweet Sejal, the duo come closer to a romance more mature than a teenybopper lost-in-the- woods ride.

Shahrukh’s sense of comic timing, his ‘trying to be cheap’ body language, overrides his past work as the typical romantic hero with his arms spread wide. For most part of the film, he is simply engaged in a conversation with the heroine. There is not much of plot here and it would have been one monotonous version of “Before Sunrise” if it wasn’t for the interesting characters and both the actors bringing in a fresh energy that bounces off each other beautifully and the two tango better than “Rab ne bana de Jodi” and “Jab Tak Hai Jaan’.

Hopefully, in Imtiaz’s next film, we will see a wilder Sejal and a more intense Harry in a story that actually has some answers. Where they can go beyond “ tractor se unchi awaaz’ and “ gote kinare ki chunari’ on the Yash Chopra tinted Punjab fields. Until then, Anushka’s dumb Sejal ben and Shahrukh’s loser Harinder charm us enough with all the seeking and soul searching.

Sunday, 23 July 2017



Imagine a world of equals
It’s easy if you try
No burkhas, no double standards
Feel free to dream and fly
Imagine all the men, respecting their women

Imagine there’s no shame
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to stop a 55 year old widow
From enjoying secret pulp heroine ,Rosie, too
Imagine all the Rosies living their fantasies….you..

You may say, Rosie is a dreamer
But she’s not the only one
She is the teen burkha clad girl who is denied jeans
Lipstick and Miley Cyrus are her ideas of freedom

Imagine no restrictions
Men feel impotent if you can
No fear of forced marital rapes without condoms
By husbands who wham bam and also f##k another ma’m
Imagine all the Rosies
 Free to wear swimsuits and dive into sexual fantasies…you

You may say ‘Lipstick Under A Burkha’ is the work of a half-dreamer
She is not the only one
I hope there are women who dare to dream more
Who can say along with men, we are one…

Imagine a film so real
The scenes not so abrupt
Where men are less stereotype
And women can spout and erupt
Purdah be damned n lipstick not wiped

You may enjoy mild Hindi porn as a delightful voiceover
“Lipstick Waale Sapne”, something..”waale sapne”
Rock as guilty pleasure book titles
With voices choked by orthodox mere apne
The film could be a Manto like winner…

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Dear Zindagi review: Shah Rukh Khan hops on the 'gyan' bandwagon yet charms with his presence

(First published in

 It all started with Aamir Khan in 3 Idiots and followed by the over-the-top, preachy guru gyan in PK. Next came Amitabh Bachchan in Pink, the dialogue delivery master disguised as a lawyer whose booming speech on ‘NO’ was met with an equally resounding “YES” from audiences - young and old, men and women. Papas can preach.

 Provided they are superstars. Now comes Shah Rukh Khan, dropping every hamming trick from his Rahul dictionary, completely sidestepping out of the heroine’s way (Huge Leap for the Bollywood Hero) and yet saying 'main hoon na' with equal charm, style and confidence and oozing that superstar screen presence while staying silent and simply listening. True charisma, that.

 In Dear Zindagi, Alia Bhatt represents today’s young, liberated woman who seems to have it all and is yet lost, alone, confused and very, very scared. She is a talented cinematographer but believes that she is not taken seriously because she is also hot. She has tall and handsome lovers (Kunal Kapoor, Angad Bedi, Ali Zafar) willing to go the extra mile for her but she always ends up breaking up with them.

In other words, she is complicated. At some point, she starts getting sleepless nights and decides to see a therapist. Who better than the charming and easy going Dr Jehangir Khan (Shah Rukh Khan) who is completely at home playing kabaddi with the waves, cycling along and giving life lessons on love. A character like Alia’s makes for a very contemporary premise and when cast opposite the King of romance, it’s a double whammy. Director Gauri Shinde, who has earlier worked with an equally delightful Sridevi in her debut gem English Vinglish, works her magic with a wonderful casting coup, the second time too. Both these movies remind me of Queen where the protagonist is a helpless woman who finds herself through some soul searching. What’s remarkable and gratifying about these stories is that they have an underlying and a very subtle feminist tone without being in the male bashing territory

.One could always argue that both Pink and Dear Zindagi needed and resorted to a male mentor or that superstar knight with lots of gyan to support and rescue the hapless, young heroine. Would these stories work without that father figure if not the romantic hero? And would these stories work without the iconic presence of Bachchan and Shahrukh? They would not raise that much curiosity or interest or footfalls in the theatre, perhaps. Imagine both the movies having a female lawyer or therapist as in the case of Jodie Foster starer The Accused. Would Priyanka Chopra as a lawyer inspire the same confidence in the subject as Amitabh Bachchan did?

That’s a risk which filmmakers are probably not ready to take yet. When Rani Mukherjee played the journalist backing Vidya Balan’s character in No One Killed Jessica, it made for interesting viewing but had few takers. In Dear Zindagi, the subject itself, while being the most relevant today, lends itself to a very urban, multiplex audience. Hence a lot hinges on the casting and Ms Shinde is fully aware of this. Also, to his credit, the gracious superstar Khan brings out the best in Alia, just like their characters, Jehangir and Kaira.

 Watch how Alia springs alive like the fresh, white daisies on her table, with every shade of emotion possible; nervously declares… “I like you…. I really like you”, looking vulnerable and hopeful at the same time; or speaks with a voice hoarse with unexpressed, deep sadness.

The fact that a superstar like Shahrukh Khan is willing to play a supportive role that lasts a mere 40 minutes on screen, is by itself an applaud worthy change in Hindi cinema. Thanks to a woman (Shinde).

 So what if you still need a man to tell a woman that it’s okay to date more than one man. That’s okay too.

Sunday, 3 July 2016

"There is no shame in depression" : Shriya Pilgaonkar

Shriya Pilgaonkar, daughter of Sachin Pilgaonkar and Supriya Pilgaonkar, made an impressive debut in Hindi films, opposite Shahrukh Khan in "Fan". She talks to me about happiness and dealing with depression and how she says YES to Life.

Here's the video and the transcription:


Happiness is that unshakeable life condition which is not based on anything. Happiness is hope, a state of gratitude. It's just that feeling of being alive which is not dependent on anything.


Firstly  a low is a transient moment, it's going to pass. My dog is my stress buster. I love food, I read a lot. I also meditate a lot when there is too much on my mind.. I find my own corner space, I also pray. I find a lot of peace in praying.


I haven't experienced it myself.  The most important thing is awareness and  to talk about it.  There is no shame in being associated with bipolarity or any other form of depression. Communication is the key. ....To be able to talk to people, to have the courage to understand that being clinically depressed is not a finality and one can change it. We have to take complete responsibility to want to feel better, to have a better life and things wont just happen.


Any work space has its own stress. As actors, the anxiety is much more, you put your insecurity out there and you are put on a pedestal sometimes and you can fall from it. It's important to respect your own journey. There is no point in comparing yourself to other people. If you are aware that anxiety will not help you, then you wouldn't want to feel anxious. As an actor so much about the performance is  the energy and vibe you bring on screen.There is no space for negativity then. If you do feel anxious, you can convert it into a good kind of anxiety. There is good anxiety and there is bad anxiety. You can' t really tear yourself down and be hard on yourself. So you enjoy your work more when you are relaxed.

Please share and subscribe to the video and say YES to life.

Wednesday, 25 May 2016




Transcription of Say Yes to Life with SAYANI GUPTA.

"Say No To Suicide, Say Yes to Life":Sayani

What are your views on happiness?

Happiness, I think, is what makes you feel floaty and really good about yourself. I really believe n having fun, every moment. I don't live in the future, I don't dwell in the past. That's the kind of the person I am.

How do you deal with low moments?

I go out to eat. I have my comfort food which is Bengali food. Or I go eat Sushi or Thai, indulge in lots of sweets. And yeah, sleep. It's the best, ever. You wake up after a good nap and everything seems brighter.

If clinically depressed, would you take help from a doctor?

Absolutely. Our generation needs to be more aware of this because our parents generation did not know much. They thought going to a shrink or a counsellor is something like a mental problem. It's not. What is always important and really helpful is if you can discuss your problems with someone who knows how to tackle it. Depression is so rampant today, every second person is going through depression. It's due to the quality of life we live today, we all have become individualistic, we all want  so much, the want is going up and up and up. Like we are never satisfied with what we have. we are not satisfied with simple things that people used to be happy with.  We are going away from out family. Most of us live alone in big cities.

The biggest blessing you can have from God is -friends. whatever you are going through, you always need people to speak to. It's only that one moment when you might want to take your life away. It's not worth it. It's one life you've got. trust me, this is the best probably you could have got. If you were to exchange lives with someone else, you will still be okay with your set of problems because you don;t know the other's world. Everyone goes through ups and downs. Nobody stays happy unless you have reached a stage of nirvana. The idea is to even enjoy the low moments.
My nani used to say, there is a Rabindranath Tagore line which means ' whoever you give your flag to, give him the strength to bear it also".

When my father passed away, I had imagined many things earlier. Bout his passing away was the most beautiful, most incredible moment of my life.I literally realised what life is about. I believe that even if he is no ore, he actually is, in so many ways. Something gave me enormous strength. whatever doesn't kill you, makes you stronger.



Sunday, 22 May 2016

'Cabaret' is an explosion of passion, says Gulshan Devaiah

(First published in
He was the lusty, raunchy guy in the film Hunterrr. Now he is back with Richa Chadda in Cabaret, still hunting and still scorching the screen with kisses that would make Emraan Hashmi look like an amateur.
Gulshan Devaiah, in this completely no holds barred interview, talks about his feminine side, his views on Aishwarya Rai’s purple lipstick, Richa Chadda’s saree at Cannes 2016 and of course, all his on screen kisses. When he meetsFirstpost, he immediately confesses to being shy to the extent of being agoraphobic. We play along:
So you don’t party?I enjoy conversations. I feel uncomfortable at parties, I just have a drink and hit the dance floor. I got my first role inGirl with Yellow Boots because of my dancing. Anurag Kashyap saw me dancing with Kalki (Koechlin) and felt there is something about me.
Do you and Kalki go back a long way?Since 2008. I took some time to become real friends. Today we are really thick.
I believe you shop for her.Before I found my partner, we used to shop together. I have a background in fashion and I love shopping myself.
Is shopping a therapy?
In a way, yes. It’s not considered very manly but I don’t care. I love shopping.
Do you want to be seen as manly?I am manly enough. That is just a perception. There are feminine qualities [I have] and I am comfortable about it.
Talking about fashion, did you like what Aishwarya wore at Cannes?I saw some visuals and on Twitter, people had many things to say about it.
And what do you have to say?
I think the dress was… nice. Aishwarya has always had a very keen sense of fashion. She is really good in choosing the right outfits.But she is being constantly criticized by people. Are they justified?
In a way they are justified and in a way it is none of their business. As a celebrity, one either accepts or blocks it off. I think Aishwarya understands that and knows how to deal with it.
What did you think about her purple lipstick?
That was a little bit loud and jarry. It was quite a bold experiment. If I was styling her, I would say its too much as she is such a beautiful woman. It wasn’t like crazily bad, just tiny bit too much.
What about Richa Chadha’s dress at Cannes?Richa is a beautiful woman and looks great in everything. You can never go wrong with a Sabyasachi outfit. She probably wanted to represent the nation and wore a saree. The shimmery gold looked great on her as she has a dusky complexion.Both of you had your films screened at Cannes at the same time — Peddler and Gangs of Wasseypur. Was that a first meeting?
I had met her through common friends earlier. The first time I met her at a theatre workshop and Oye Lucky Lucky Oye had just released. I thought, "my god, it’s that girl from Oye Lucky’. I had to really build up the courage to go up and say hi to her.
Kalki was there and I asked her, "should I go and talk to her, she is pretty hot, man?" and Kalki said, "go, talk to her". I just said "hi, you were fabulous in the film" and she said politely, "thank you". (mimics polite voice)
From the shy hello, to a steamy kiss in your upcoming film, Cabaret. How’s that?
(Enthusiastic) Yeah, yeah, I am really eating her (lip). We have come a long way. (smiles). That’s what I would have liked to do when we met first. But seriously speaking, this is our job.
You seem to be a pro with kissing scenes, like the ones in Hunterrr.(More enthusiastic) Yeah, I even did one small one in Shaitan. In the film, I am supposed to be kissing some random woman, but I was actually kissing my girlfriend so it turned out more romantic than it was intended. In Hate Story, it was very easy to break it down as it was all about aesthetics. I was nervous. I told my wife- ‘we are making love, what if I embarrass myself’. She said, it’s just a job.
In Hunterrr, there were several such scenes with various actors. How did that go?The director told us we are making a film in a very real space. As an actor, you have to be prepared to live your private moment in public. Somewhere one has to find the courage. There was one instance with Hansa Singh who played Savita Bhabhi, she was such a great sport. The director wanted a wild dub of a sex scene. Hansa was fine. She just stood by the wall, quickly made noises, like “ah.. ooh..” and she was done. But I was suddenly so embarrassed. So I ended up requesting the actress to enact it again to get the sounds right.
In Cabaret, what are the scenes like?There is a lot of sensuality. There has to be an explosion of passion. It’s about two damaged people falling in love. There is a man who wanted to kill himself and a woman who has been running away.
Was Richa comfortable?
Initially she was a bit nervous, which made me also nervous. Later we were fine. You have to help each other out.
Are you okay with playing secondary roles to women protagonists?It doesn’t matter to me who is the protagonist. If you like the film, you like the script, you like the role - do it. I never look at it as — this is Richa’s film or Hunterrr is my film.
Are you in a good space today, after 5 years?There is always some uncertainty. I like doing a variety of roles and don’t take up every offer. Sometimes negative thoughts do come and do get you down. Today I am shooting one film, have just finished shooting one and a film release is coming up. Still I don’t know; there is no set pattern. You know you have to take a forward step and you don’t know where you will land. But you hope to get somewhere.
Where do you hope to arrive after Cabaret?
I don’t know. I hope people like the film and my work. I would like to empower myself with more variety of films.

The first time I went to a discotheque, it was with Shah Rukh Khan: Manoj Bajpayee

(First published in
Manoj Bajpayee, dressed in a bright checked shirt and trousers, lean and unassuming, has such a gentle and polite demeanour that it is difficult to imagine how he became the gregarious goonda Bhiku Mhatre in Satya. Or the violent, crude and disgusting Sardar in Gangs of Wasseypur. Or the mild, poetic, thoughtful, gay professor in his last film ,Aligarh. Whether it is a big, small or short film like Taandav, Bajpayee gives himself to it one hundred percent.
Now, as Bajpayee gears up for his upcoming ensemble film,Traffic, his love for his craft comes through in this conversation :
You have just received Dadasaheb Phalke Foundation award for your performance in Aligarh. Congratulations. Is this huge for you?
No, it’s not huge, really. Actually, there is a misconception. It’s a mainstream, popular award. Everyone thought this is given by the Government. But this award is from a private organization.
Are you expecting a National Award?
I hope so. If the jury thinks so. [Laughs]
You have already received widespread critical acclaim for it.
Yes, the response for Aligarh has been huge. I have been very lucky that I have usually got love and appreciation for most of my work. But Aligarh has topped all of it. In terms of appreciation, reviews, acceptance — it’s quite remarkable.
Like the professor in Aligarh, have you felt lonely as an artist? Some top actors claim so.
People say big stars are lonely. Since I am not a big star I cannot talk about loneliness. [Laughs] If I feel lonely, I try to find company. I am shy and a man of few words but I have not experienced loneliness. I interpreted the character through the people I know and the books I have read. I try to be the character.
You seem to transform completely with each different film. What’s your process?
I prepare for my scene according to the genre and the script and the directors vision. Then I add my own interpretation. At times something very magical happens in front of the camera.
Which is your favourite magical moment?
[Shrugs]There are many. When you are prepared well and work hard before the shoot, it happens. The character is inside you, he is guiding you all the time.
In Kapoor & Sons, a few big stars rejected Fawad’s role. Did you feel you were taking a risk inAligarh?
The only people who can do these kind of roles are the ones who have nothing to lose or don’t have much at stake. The stars have too much at stake. They are probably wary for that reason. I am an actor known to take risks. Risk taking is my asset. I never thought of it as a risk. Hansal is a dear friend; it was a great script and a great role. The only prime concern for us, was to do the role well. We completed the film and I started hearing that Manoj is taking a risk.
If given a regular role…
I will never do it. Anybody can do it. They don’t need an actor like Manoj Bajpayee.
Did you think about how Aligarh would affect your image, the way most actors do?
Please forgive me if I sound arrogant or flamboyant. I don’t care about what anybody thinks. When I became an actor, I told myself —‘Manoj Bajpayee, don’t care about what people say, just follow your dream’. I conduct myself with the same attitude today. In any case, I feel very strongly about gay rights. I would have anyway done the role as I care strongly for the issue.
What excited you about your role in Traffic?
It’s not just the role; it’s the film in totality. I saw the Malayalam version and I said I want to be a part of the film. The story of the constable is so fantastic. He makes a mistake and he wants to redeem himself through this journey.
You have worked with directors like Shekhar Kapur, Shyam Benegal and Ram Gopal Varma. How different was it to work with the late Rajesh Pillai on a Malayalam remake?
Rajesh Pillai was very learned, very passionate and very clear about his audience. He was an amazing guy. He has made a taut and emotional thriller.
Shah Rukh Khan paid you a surprise visit during your film promotions. Any memory from your old times with him?
[Smiles] We are old friends. The first time I went to a discotheque, it was with Shah Rukh. He was quite a charmer. He always had a way with men or women. He was a big star even then. 
Are you happy with where you are today?

Fantastically so.
Do you have a wish list?
I am just open to work. I want to work with new directors. I will choose a new director over an established one, any day. They come up with new kinds of scripts and ideas.