Talking Movies

Talking Movies
Talking movies

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.

Shah Rukh Khan is a 'Dilli ka launda': Sayani Gupta on her 'Fan' hero

(First Published in )
She was first noticed in her second film for the ease with which she kissed another woman on screen — a blind woman in love with Kalki Koechlin's character in Margarita With A Straw. Few knew then that Sayani Gupta would next appear in one of the biggest mainstream releases of 2016 — Fan, opposite Shah Rukh Khan.
When I meet Sayani at a restaurant, she is just back from puja celebrations of Nabo Barsho, a day before Fan’s release. “I’m starving”, she says and quickly orders some fish. But even when our chat ends, the fish is untouched. “It’s too soft,” the Bong girl declares.
Sayani is as forthright about her upcoming film, Fan. And of course Shah Rukh Khan. But she keeps mum about her role. “It’s the way Yash Raj rolls," she explains.
So, are you excited about Fan’s release?
Not much. [Thinks] Well, yes, I am excited to see the film. It’s actually a numb feeling. It’s not my film anyway. I have no idea how my character has turned out. It’s Shah Rukh Khan’s film. It’s a double whammy for him. We don’t even stand a chance. It’s nice to be associated with such a big film.
But you don’t seem too excited because it may not be a very big role.
No, when I took on the film, I was told that technically, it’s the longest screen time after Shah Rukh. But I never expect too much from anything. I am that sort of a person. Nothing excites me too much. I am very detached that way. I understand that cinema is not an actor’s medium at all. There’s no control you have on anything. Cinema is really a collaborative art form. So I will be really stupid if I am very excited. I know that my job is done the day the shoot is wrapped. It’s nice to be in the film because it’s a Shah Rukh film and it’s such a big film. Like a friend told me, chalo it’s a 100-crore film. Not that I care much about that. I love acting. I love cinema. I want to produce and direct a film as well.
How about writing?
No. I am more visual. I have no idea what my characters will say. In life also. I don’t know what to say ever.
What was your aspiration when you started acting?To do good work. It remains that way. I wanted to be an actor since I was 4.
Did you have a role model?
No. I live my life the way I want to. I know I deserve to be seen. I know my work. I am better than most people.
[Laughs] The only actress I liked was Madhuri Dixit.
Ever been a fan?
How about Shah Rukh’s?
Yes, He is the only one. But otherwise, never been a fan.
Do you want a fan following?Of course. I want to have the biggest stardom anyone can get. When I came to Mumbai, I thought I want to be a good actor and the desire to be a star is shallow. But I realised that no one takes you seriously unless you are a star. People value your time and effort more. It’s a problem in the country. You don’t get the good roles, otherwise. Right now I have three-and-a-half fans, maybe! [smiles]
How was it working with Yash Raj Films?
They are strict about everything. Everything is very streamlined and efficient. Everyone is fantastic in their work and attitude. And you can see it percolates from the top — from Aditya Chopra. Even though I have not met him, I can make out he is a visionary.
How was your experience with Maneesh Sharma?
He’s a baby. Amazing. The first time I saw him, I thought such a young boy….he can’t be Manish. He is very sorted as a director and has enormous clarity of vision.
And Shah Rukh?
I met him on the first day of the shoot and no one thought of introducing us. So we did our first scene where the characters have known each other for the longest time. After the shoot, he said, “Baby, I didn’t get your name” and he gave me a hug. In fact he hugged me three times that day and finally gave me my best compliment: He said, “You are really talented. You will go a long way”. I swear I couldn’t even say "thank you". I just froze.
What did you think of Shah Rukh as the shoot progressed?
He is the most humble and generous person. He never behaves like a superstar. He makes you feel really special. He really wants to touch you within and there is something very genuine about it. He is the richest actor in the world and he is so humble. He will just sit on the floor with you, and smoke a cigarette. Shah Rukh is just another Dilli ka launda.

Not lost in translation: Priyanka Chopra, Irrfan Khan wow in Hindi version of 'The Jungle Book'

(First published in )
Akele ho yahaan?”
A very soft, silky, gentle voice is heard in the dead of a dark evening in the midst of an eerily silent, thick jungle.
A little boy in a red loincloth standing atop a giant tree looks around. He is Mowgli, the man cub raised by wolves.
Itne ghane jungle mein tum kaise aaye?” The unknown voice continues. There is a hint of background music, building a mood of mystique and fear.
You get a glimpse of a massive, leathery creature coiled around a branch. Ssssssssssssss. The famous, slithery python — Kaa-aaaaaaa, unseen by Mowgli who is spellbound by the hypnotic voice.
Slowly, Kaa’s hooded, fascinating face with huge, mesmerising eyes comes forward, close to Mowgli. Mowgli’s past is reflected in Kaa’s eyes. And a legendary, childhood story is told. In a voice that seems to care.
Tum nahin jaante tum kya ho.
Kaa’s voice enchants and hypnotises both Mowgli and the viewer to a drop dead, breathless moment.
It’s the most amazing voiceover dub done by Priyanka Chopra. And yessssss, more dramatic than the underplayed Scarlett Johansson who smoothly murmurs, “I know what you are.”
If Johansson’s “Trust in me” excites you and sends shivers down your spine, a barely five minute sequence with Kaa in the Hindi dubbed version of Disney’s The Jungle Book, is enough to add to the 3D wonder of a visual spectacle. Priyanka Chopra’s “Vishwas karo mera” is as chilling and hypnotic.
Mostly, Hollywood movies with the likes of Scarlett Johansson sound funny when they are seen on screen with Indian voices in Hindi, trying to match the expressions — if not downright ridiculous. As was with The Avengers, when Johansson was heard saying as the Black Widow: “Raita tum phailao aur saaf karoon main?”
It helps that in The Jungle Book, the familiar Indian actors’ voices are paired with computer-generated animals with fantastic body language, instead of Hollywood faces. And as Pahlaj Nihalani wants to remind you with the U/A certificate, the film is anything but funny or simple fun. The Jungle Book’s latest version, unlike Disney’s animated 1967 version, is eerie fun, thrilling fun, and shivery fun. And as this writer has seen both the Hindi and English versions, the Hindi one is far livelier and dramatic, made alive by the desi actors.
If you have grown up on Kipling’s short stories and know Baloo the bear and Shere Khan the tiger from Doordarshan days, and of course, the very, adorable chaddi pehen ke phool khila hai Mowgli, you might add some more delightful names to the list. So it’s Irrfan’s Baloo, the bear, Nana Patekar’s Shere Khan the tiger, and Priyanka Chopra’s Kaa, the slippery python.
As the dubbing director Mona Shetty puts it, “The Jungle Book has tremendous recall value from the Doordarshan series. We wanted to do justice to that memory, yet bring a fresh experience that goes with the visual appeal of the movie. It is challenging for any actor to stay within parameters already created on screen. But all the Indian actors, made it their own simply with their attitude and the intention.”And it certainly shows and is heard. Nana Patekar, who has earlier dubbed for Shere Khan in The Adventures of Mowgli (1989), is back playing the same role, with his sharp teeth firmly in the older and the more conniving skin of the ruling tiger. Patekar’s voice matches the slow and deceptive movement of Shere Khan (Idris Elba in English) on the screen and even makes you laugh at the wicked humour in his tone as he sniffs out the “insaani pilla” and does not have to growl when he says, “Ab hue kaan savdhaan” to the scared wolves.
If Patekar brings the evil with him, there is the lovable, fat Baloo who talks like a khata pita Punjabi. So Baloo is “yaaro ka yaar" who calls Mowgli “puttar”. What could have been dismissed as classic stereotyping, instead sits at ease with the character as conceived as a simply fun but slothful bear. The film’s Hindi dialogue writer, Mayur Puri, explains, “There is a lot of logic to the character adaptation. We want to make the film palatable and engaging and the simplest for the audience to understand. Baloo loves honey. So like any Punjabi who is a foodie and loves a good life, Baloo talks and behaves like one. The idea is to augment the emotions in translation. Hence the Hindi version is a trans-creation, not a direct translation.”
This is apparent in a scene in which Baloo makes Mowgli climp up a steep rock to bust open a beehive and get him the honey. At first he blatantly lies to Mowgli that the bees won’t bite. When Mowgli gets bitten, Baloo just dismisses it, saying that there must be more of female species than male ones — “kudiyaan dank maarti hai”.
According to Puri, Irrfan was a little apprehensive about playing a Punjabi, as he had never done it before. Puri told him that he had an intrinsic laid back personality and all he had to do was to bring his attitude to the role. The results are there for you to see. This is both Baloo and Irrfan at their best.
Ditto with King Louie, voiced by Bugs Bhargava (Christopher Walken in Hollywood). The character, in keeping with his name, is given a Goan touch and made to speak in Hinglish. So what appears on screen as a gigantic King Kong, uses words like “beautiful” and “try try” in between Hindi sentences.
Puri says that the attempt was to recreate a kind of Goga Kapoor who plays a gangster but talks like, “arey aas paas sad hai” in Kundan Shah’s Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa.
Om Puri voices Bagheera (Ben Kingsley in the English version) and does not add much layer to the wise panther, Mowgli's best friend.
Shefali Shah sounds like any concerned mom as the wolf foster mother, Raksha (Lupita Nyong'o in Hollywood). The more challenging work is done by Jasleen Singh Chadda who dubs Mowgli’s voice in Hindi. The effort shows as much as in the Hollywood movie with Neel Sethi.
However, what matters is that we finally have a Hollywood film dubbed well in Hindi. Plus there are the takeaway songs like “Bare Necessities” redone as “Yeh Zarooratein”. “Bees are buzzin’ in the tree” sound as much fun as “gun gun karte yeh chatte” written by Puri and sung by Vishal Dadlani.
And of course there is the renewed all time favorite song by the amazing duo Vishal Bhardwaj and Gulzar; not in the film but used as a promotional video to invoke '90s nostalgia: "Jungle Jungle baat chali hai, pata chala hai, chaddi pehen ke phool khila hai…
Irresistible! Vishwasss karo mera...

Friday, 8 April 2016

How John Abraham has put his ass-ets to good use to chart Bollywood career

(First published on
When John Abraham displayed his well-sculpted posterior on the poster of Karan Johar’s Dostana, one would not have known he is no dumb, cute ass. If Johar knew how to use that asset in short trunks in a film poster, Abraham knows better.
Using Sylvester Stallone’s ‘Rocky’ image, he is quick to remind the industry and us that we have our own desi muscled boy with cool moves, amongst us. Following this master’s footsteps as a producer, Abraham proves he is a smart ass who uses his cute butt, sexy brawn and smart producer brain.
After experimenting as producer on two very unlikely but superb films like Vicky Donor and Madras CafĂ©, he finally dares to bare in his own third home production.
The 43-year-old actor-turned-producer has come a long way since his debut in Jism for which he was nominated for a Filmfare award. Instead of taking such nominations seriously and trying to eke out performances, he has worked on his major strength — his fabulous body. And how. He realises he doesn’t need to do much to act like a hero in a Hindi action, Korean remake thriller like Rocky Handsome. All he needs to do is move his sexy butt in slow motion. Rewind. Slo mo.
His passion for sports and fitness does the rest. Fast-forward to some fight scenes in Rocky Handsome. One must not forget that the film is more of fight videos put together along the lines of music videos, pretending to have a story. Abraham doesn’t disappoint. He delivers some deft martial arts moves where he plays with a knife in quick successive motions on the villain’s body as if finely mastering the art of chopping an onion. Boys will love such toy sports. Girls will just drool every time Abraham takes off his black singlet and there are many such moments. Particularly noteworthy is the one where he bleeds with a bullet stuck in his gut and bravely pokes those toned abs to yank out the bullet. The sheer lack of originality is secondary to a fit, naked torso.
Back to slo mo in some hooded black outfit. Forward to a straight jump on a car, kneeling as if to pray and then swishing out a gun to aim at a bulletproof car. Batman fans will be mighty impressed. The posture is picture perfect. It’s that precious climax moment when he faces the bad, bad taklu (full marks for novelty) villain, Nishikant Kamath, who happens to be the director of the film. You can only admire that beautiful sight in black, kneeling with a gun, instead of biting your nails and thank God for that. Who needs more stress in life?Besides working on his sexy, controlled moves, knife et al, Abraham does the next wise thing. He chooses to play it silent and mysterious. Instead of romancing an equally sexy heroine and doing his nth Jism number he decides to do aBajrangi Bhaijan-meets-Jackie Chan and plays silent uncle to an irritating eight-year-old girl who calls him “handsome” in Rocky Handsome.
She also paints one of his nails. How cute is that? John Abraham, the macho, rugged, strong and silent hunk, doesn’t mind a painted nail on himself and is pretty much tolerant of the nuisance bag who is made to parrot lengthy lines like a grown up.
Abraham simply remains silent. Now that’s a true hero who doesn’t waste his breath. He lets his perfect ass-ets talk.

Friday, 18 March 2016


Ever played ‘Spot the Difference’? There are two identical drawings and you have to really look hard to …well…spot it. The Karan Johar produced “Kapoor & Sons” is that kind of film where you have to spot the difference between the real and the fake. The fake is so good that it looks real. And you know what, you don’t really care because there is the director, Shakun Batra who is maneuvering the DOP’s camera and the editor’s cuts so damn well that, every single sequence in the film is a masterful choreography of family fights which entertain and engage but do not disturb you.

So you have a mother-Sunita (Ratna Pathak Shah) who is yelling some instructions at a plumber in the bathroom and her husband—Harsh (Rajat Kapoor) who is yelling the opposite, a leaking pipe bursts some more and then both are yelling at each other, while their two handsome sons—a cool headed, achcha beta—Rahul (Fawad Khan) and a hot headed good for nothing beta—Arjun (Sidharth Malhotra) try to calm the parents down. And voila, before you know it, the two brothers are at throwing things at each other. The sequence, of course ends with the plumber saying something funny and scrambling away.

Showing a “real” scenario like this itself is such a big deal in a Hindi commercial film and that too a Karan Johar one where the rule of the thumb has been, “it’s all about loving your family”. So it comes as a most welcome change that Johar finally gives us a dysfunctional family where people don’t sing and dance but instead fight. Okay, correction. People do sing and dance but on not Swiss Alps. They sing and dance only in small gardens outside their bungalows. And when they fight, they appear like a beautiful seamless choreography. Charming!

It’s like how we Indians love family photos. After all, having a family and a large one at that, is one thing every Indian can boast of. More so, in these Instagram times. The thing is that Instagram gives us filter options to make our pictures look more flattering.

 Kapoor & Sons does the opposite.

It takes a great looking family, which looks rich but acts poor; which looks both happy and unhappy at the same time. Just like Rishi Kapoor’s prosthetic makeup. As grandfather of the Kapoor family, he is the grandfather of fake. Just like his ghastly makeup doesn’t allow us to see his pain, the well-choreographed fights in the family don’t let you see much reality yet involves you. The way Kapoor’s face makes you look at his makeup and go ‘wow’ at first for the hard work involved and then you finally start hating it for its very artificiality.

Back to the family photo. It is quite a sweet idea that an entire film can revolve around one Mr Prosthetic Kapoor who dreams of a happy family picture called Kapoor & Sons, since 1921.

So we have a dysfunctional family. Albeit, in Johar’s  trademark style of bringing together an unreal world with two good looking men who are supposed to be novelists. One—Rahul (Fawad Khan) works out of London and the other—Arjun (Sidharth Malhotra) in U.S for some strange reason. They could very well be ramp models, considering how little we see of their professional world. But thankfully, we see them mostly in the charmingly refreshing setting of Coonoor where Mr Prosthetic K resides with his son, Harsh and daughter-in-law, Sunita .

Director Shakun Batra, along with co-writer, Ayesha Devitre Dhilon, brings in as much realism as possible, the way he did in his fine debut- Ek Main Aur Ek Tu and extracts surprisingly good performances from both Malhotra and Khan who share great chemistry and sense of timing. But mind you, Malhotra cries very delicately with a single tear in just one eye. The way Rani Mukherjee did in Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna. That’s the pretty, glossy, Johar stamp which one doesn’t mind really.

In Coonoor, we see that the family is as dangerously together as a shaky house of cards valiantly trying to stay balanced. Prosthetic K is expecting to die any minute and keeps faking his death too. Ah, that F word again. But never mind.

The ever squabbling son and wife are used to his antics and don’t take him seriously until one fine day he does get a heart attack. Rahul and Arjun rush back home which is anything but perfect. Arjun fights with Rahul because of a past misdeed, Sunita fights with Harsh over one Mrs Anu and his lack of income, Rahul fights with everyone since Arjun is the pyara beta and sometimes you lose track of who is fighting with whom. There are times when the brothers don’t fight and have fun bonding moments. The writing meets the challenge of this now hot, now cold bros relationship, really well.

Family time over. Enters, an even more charming cutesy girl, Tia (Alia Bhatt) in a lacy white top and white shorts who loves poking fun at everyone. The dialogues and her interactions with both the brothers are the best part of the film as they are as natural as your daily chats. Nothing fake here. More fun.

As the film progresses, the fights in the shaky household turn ugly on a particularly eventful day. One would actually wonder what’s the fuss really about if it wasn’t for a masterly and rapid intercutting of parallel scenes and performances—one inside a house and the other in a garden. Interestingly, the situation’s gravity never really hits you, right till the end despite every attempt at melodrama and a revelation of secrets, especially one involving the brothers’ conflict. The ending appears to have a forced impact to get you in the tearjerker mode. And well, it succeeds, mostly.

Rajat Kapoor and Fawad Khan shine the most in this overall performance packed drama, and brilliantly choreographed  family photo sequences by Batra.

Kapoor & Sons does a fine job of balancing the feel good with the dark elements of a very entertaining house of impressive cards played well by three hotties. So what, if all involved fake it? It was fun while it lasted. Well done, Bro.

Surprise package: Sikander Kher is the best thing about 'Tere Bin Laden: Dead or Alive'

The sequel to the hilarious 2010 satire, Tere Bin Laden, could very well have been a great YouTube gag, starring Sikander Kher, the most comical villain.
The superb casting has a hands down winner in Kher, who plays a whacky double role of an American agent, DavidDoSomething and Punjabi Haallywood producer, Chadda.
In the story, we have President Obama (perfect look alike actor) rapping about his victory over Osama to an America who wants proof about Osama’s death. However, Khalil (Piyush Mishra), an arms dealer from Pakistan wants to show Osama alive to his own people. Sharma (Manish Paul), a film director ends up getting kidnapped, along with Paddi (Pradhuman Singh, also the co-writer), on the pretext of making a Hollywood film, by Obama’s man, David turned into “Kitthe Otthe” Chaddha ( Kher), in the most unbelievable sequence.
The film gets too whacky for its own good at times. David, a white guy, turns brown; his makeover involves choosing between various wigs which include a “Bengali wig” and a “Punjabi wig”. Sure enough, he opts for the latter and lo and behold, turns into Chadda . The man actually has a screw (huge mole) on his neck, which he uses to change accents. In a strange way, this gag works for a screwball comedy, made totally howlarious by Kher’s performance.
Unrecognisable in the ‘Punjabi wig’, with amazing make-up and a huge paunch, Kher is a revelation. It is to writer/director, Abhishek Sharma’s credit that he conceives a completely original character who transits from a Yankee special agent to a Punju pot-bellied Hollywood producer, by simply switching accents. As the best line in the film goes, “somewhere in somewhere”, you don’t care where is what, when Kher interacts with his co-stars, his comic timing perfect.
Tere Bin Laden: Dead or Alive is a series of some delightful and laugh out loud moments, forcibly strung together into a feature film. It reminds you of a lovely evening spent goofing around with friends and snatches of funny conversations are replayed, which of course, end up in repeat laughter. The kind, where everyone is an insider on a silly joke and an outsider might understand bits of it and be just mildly amused by the ongoing bonhomie.
Those familiar with the film, and the chances are there are many — despite the small scale and reach —will enjoy the brief recall scenes from the previous film, introduced in the beginning.
We see Ali Zafar this time in a bit role, as the successful hero of the first film, now turned too big for his starry boots. The story in the first film revolved around Zafar playing a young Pakistani reporter who sells a video about a fake Osama, in a bid to get a U.S visa. Abhishek Sharma, takes the story forward to a time when Osama is actually killed.
In the sequel, Manish Paul replaces Zafar who in his brief appearance, does an entertaining parody number, “ six pack abs”, sporting the trademark Bollywood torso, complete with a tattoo.
The film begins well showing terrorism as some sort of a sport by introducing Khalil practicing ineffectively with his weapons and using terms like landmine jumps. Likewise, the Americans are shown attacking the terrorists, as if participating in a video game. Obama, meanwhile is shown having nightmares and visions of Osama and landing in a psychiatric couch.
The newness of the concept quickly wears off. Dialogues and good performances come to the rescue. Osama is shown as “gulabi gaalon waala” and someone quips, “director kya hota hai” while a female actor (Sugandha Garg) claims, “I want to do..” in the best climax sequence of the film.
Irrespective of the film’s occasional flaws, two people are definite contenders for film awards this year: Sikander Kher and his make-up artist.

Restrained performances by Shabana Azmi, Sonam Kapoor are the real winners of 'Neerja'

Neerja Bhanot died two days before she turned 23, on September 5, 1986. Her parents received her body in a coffin on her birthday.
Director Ram Madhvani, tells us a moving, poignant story of Neerja, the daughter and Neerja, the tragic hero, in his film starring Sonam Kapoor.
The silver lining on the grey Karachi cloud of the doomed September day, is that Sonam Kapoor, the sincere actress has been born. Especially when she eats a chocolate cookie. More on that, later.
Thanks to Madhvani’s vision kept simple, and a tightly written script by Saiwyn Quadras and Sanyukta Chawla Shaikh, the biopic has given the best possible rebirth to Neerja Bhanot. Both in our memories and in our hearts.
The facts are horrifying enough. Four armed terrorists hijacked Pan American Flight 73 at Karachi airport. Chief purser, Neerja, daughter of a Mumbai journalist, Harish Bhanot, saved 360 people while she bravely took bullets herself.
Before that, for a harrowing 16 hours, she served coffee and sandwiches to the frightened passengers, comforted them, shielded three little children with her body on her way to the exit. When the captain and his two-crew people escaped the plane, after she quickly alerted them of the hijack, Neerja in her first job as a head purser, is believed to have announced, “ The captain has left. I am the captain.”
When the ordeal was finally over, and the relieved passengers clutched on to their loved ones at Mumbai airport, Neerja came back to her heartbroken but proud parents and two brothers, in a wooden coffin.As evident, there is more than sufficient material for any inspiring and heroic biopic. But the true achievement of this film is in introducing us to both Neerja, the brave professional who died serving not just coffee but serving the nation and the world; as well as the doting daughter, her parents adored darling who they called affectionately: Laado.
Madhvani ties the film poignantly with Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s Aanand in its central philosophy spelt out by the memorable line, “ Babumoshai, zindagi badi honi chahiye…….lambi nahin (Life should be big, not long)” Showcasing Neerja as a die-hard Rajesh Khanna fan, he turns what could have been jarring moments, into the most deeply heart wrenching ones.
To understand this, watch how Sonam sings “mere sapno ki raani, kab aayegi tum…” to save lives. Or when Shabana Azmi, in her best performance so far (yes, that may be unimaginable, considering all her past glories), as the mother, Rama, repeats a certain Rajesh Khanna line, now mentioned in jokes. Both are moments when tears roll down, hearts break and heads and spirits are held high.
The latter, though, takes away from the film’s core subject of it being all about Neerja and instead becomes a film school on great acting by Shabana Azmi, complete with subtle Punjabi accent and tone. Madhvani, here, resorts to the classic syndrome of Bollywood Maa. The need and the greed for an emotional speech, is one big flaw that mars the film with unnecesarry melodrama in the epilogue.
Yet, there are moments and performances that stay with you. One of them is Yogendra Tiku as Harish Bhanot on the phone, at his office desk, when he informs his wife of the plane hijack, stuttering and helpless.
There can be countless scenes of panic, hysteria and violence that can build drama, given the nature of the real life hijack story.
But the one moment that beats all, is a long and lonely one when Sonam eats a cream biscuit. It’s the moment with least drama and no glycerine or tears. It’s a very fine moment in cinema, depicting both romance and deep strength.
Captured in the most heart tugging series of close ups , one lives through contrasting emotions of fear, desire, unfulfilled dreams, young romance, resignation, contentment and brave resolve in the most meditative full take of Sonam eating up both the biscuit and the most memorable, meaty role.
That silent moment of Neerja’s last supper is Sonam Kapoor’s finest salute to Neerja, the captain and the darlinglaado.

Fitoor is a tragedy depicting the death of Charles Dickens' Great Expectations

Charles Dickens’s Miss Havisham became the most fascinating character etched in Literature stone since his novel, “Great Expectations” made it’s place among unforgettable though melodramatic stories.
The wealthy spinster who lived in her bridal dress, was a character made of a volatile combination of glass like fragile vulnerability and bitter revenge. When jilted by her lover on her wedding day, she is understandably heartbroken. But, she is determined to create an entire legacy of heartbreaks by raising her adopted daughter, Estella as a seductive lethal weapon of her ultimate revenge on men. The unknowing victim is a poor little orphan, Pip who falls for the beautiful but cold Estella.
So when you have these timeless characters and the story revolving around the romantic idealist, Pip who has already made a place in your hearts, there is more than sufficient Raj Kapoor kind of material to recreate the magical world of love and pathos on Indian and Bollywood canvas.
Sadly and heartbreakingly, director, Abhishek Kapoor, who moves from anything but literary in Chetan Bhagat’s Kai Po Che! (The Three Mistakes of My Life) to heavyweight Dickens in Fitoor, fails to meet the towering expectations. The story begins really well in establishing the themes of social hierarchy in a snow-clad Kashmir, but falters and appears as dead and wooden as the initial hollow relationship between Pip’s Noor (muscular and awkward Aditya Roy Kapur) and Estella’s Firdaus (red haired Katrina Kaif).
There are moments in the second half, when the narrative takes you into the icy, captivating beauty of Kashmir, cinematically captured like a painting by cinematographer, Anay Goswami. The emptiness of the upper strata of society is symbolised beautifully by haunting, silent mansions and giant doors closing and locking in tragic lives. The rest of the visual appeal rest on magnificent paintings in a London exhibit, exquisite costumes and Katrina’s flaming red hair.
The ultimate nail in the Dickens coffin comes from the complete lack of intensity in Pip’s Noor played by Aditya Roy Kapur and the criminal atrocity of a changed ending, which takes away from the very pain of heartbreak that defines the original work.
When Tabu takes on the daunting and delicious role of Miss Havisham as Hazrat Begum , there is tremendous anticipation. And she meets it occasionally to the best of her capacity, in the way she carries the weight ofSo when you have these timeless characters and the story revolving around the romantic idealist, Pip who has already made a place in your hearts, there is more than sufficient Raj Kapoor kind of material to recreate the magical world of love and pathos on Indian and Bollywood canvas.
Sadly and heartbreakingly, director, Abhishek Kapoor, who moves from anything but literary in Chetan Bhagat’s Kai Po Che! (The Three Mistakes of My Life) to heavyweight Dickens in Fitoor, fails to meet the towering expectations. The story begins really well in establishing the themes of social hierarchy in a snow-clad Kashmir, but falters and appears as dead and wooden as the initial hollow relationship between Pip’s Noor (muscular and awkward Aditya Roy Kapur) and Estella’s Firdaus (red haired Katrina Kaif).
There are moments in the second half, when the narrative takes you into the icy, captivating beauty of Kashmir, cinematically captured like a painting by cinematographer, Anay Goswami. The emptiness of the upper strata of society is symbolised beautifully by haunting, silent mansions and giant doors closing and locking in tragic lives. The rest of the visual appeal rest on magnificent paintings in a London exhibit, exquisite costumes and Katrina’s flaming red hair.
The ultimate nail in the Dickens coffin comes from the complete lack of intensity in Pip’s Noor played by Aditya Roy Kapur and the criminal atrocity of a changed ending, which takes away from the very pain of heartbreak that defines the original work.
When Tabu takes on the daunting and delicious role of Miss Havisham as Hazrat Begum , there is tremendous anticipation. And she meets it occasionally to the best of her capacity, in the way she carries the weight ofpain in her eyes and body. She revels in the glory of dramatic tragedy and makes it her own, just the way she did in Vishal Bhardwaj’s Haider. Meena Kumari would have found a very satisfying descendant in Tabu.When Katrina Kaif plays the beautiful and enigmatic and cold Estelle, there is zero expectation. However, she surprises and delights with a terrific translation of her Estella to the composed Firdaus who stands as tall as Tabu’s manipulative Ammi.
While director, Abhishek Kapoor makes a laudable effort of bringing in art and politics in the land of turbulent Kashmir, the film staggers under the weight of vague resemblance to Hollywood remake starring Gwyneth Paltrow.
When a big Bollywood star appears in the most heart wrenching, crucial and turnaround moment as Magwitch, the flat expression and his sudden last appearance end up as the most miserable joke of a scene.
As for Aditya Roy Kapur’s Pip, he is nothing more than a Kashmiri looking ghost wandering aimlessly and cluelessly staring at Kaif who keeps repeating, “mujhe ghoorna band karo (stop staring at me)”
Well, there is little else to admire in Dickens’s tomb called Fitoor.