Lights, camera, election: Bollywood goes into poll mode

A female police officer vowing to eliminate left-leaning liberals that support the rights of tribals on natural wealth, a fighter pilot eager to occupy Pakistan, and a news anchor desperate to put out the truth of the fire in Sabarmati Express at Godhra station in 2002. The images of aggressive nationalism, Islamophobia, and the ‘Red Scare’ are wafting into theatres to build public opinion against the political opponents of the ruling dispensation.

As it seeks a third term, cinema halls are turning into rallying points for the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to help create the mahaul (political atmosphere) in its favour. The notification of election is yet to be made and parties and alliances are still being broken and forged but a section of the film industry has already declared its manifesto and is indulging in dog-whistle politics.

A far cry from the stated credo of inclusivity defined by sabka saath, sabka vikas and sabka vishwas, historical events, it seems, are being skewed to fit a particular communal narrative by dividing communities into monolithic groups of heroes and villains based on religious and ideological identity. The spaces and issues that are contested or have existed for years in a grey zone are being insidiously turned into a black-and-white contrast that suits a political narrative.

The chronology of the release dates tells a story. Since January, every other week we have a film that reflects the ruling dispensation’s thrust on a contentious issue, stated or otherwise. Hrithik Roshan’s Fighter took a shot at the promised Akhand Bharat while reimagining the Pulwama attack and the subsequent Balakot strike. Yami Gautam’s Article 370 explained the government’s vision of Naya Kashmir where peace is earned through the bullet and not negotiated through the back channel diplomacy. This week, Adah Sharma’s Bastar: The Naxal Story is holding left liberals, which the party leaders often describe as urban Naxals, to account for the Maoist insurgency.

A poster for ‘Bastar: The Naxal Story’

A poster for ‘Bastar: The Naxal Story’

This idea of finding the enemy within is taking another shape in the form of the upcoming film JNU whose provocative poster made it to social media this week where a reputed Central university’s name is mischievously expanded as Jahangir National University — a centre of education that promotes anti-national ideas, teases the poster. The university is being repeatedly used to get even with political opponents with hardly any creative filters.

Then, The Sabarmati Report will unravel in the first week of May when the political temperature is expected to be peaking. In a statement, the makers said that the film narrates a story of events that took place in The Sabarmati Express on the morning of February 27, 2002, near the Godhra railway station in Gujarat. Before that Razakar: The Silent Genocide of Hyderabad backed by a BJP politician and set against the blood-soaked backdrop of Hyderabad’s merger with India, is striking a disconcerting tone against a religion with its trailer.

Changing ecosystem

Apart from seeing controversial issues and events in a ‘new’ light, an attempt is being made to put one source of light against the other to provide ideological muscle to the claims. It started with Rajkumar Santoshi’s Gandhi Godse: Ek Yudh, where Gandhi was charged with appeasement and Godse had the last word.

It continued this year with Pankaj Tripathi’s Main Atal Hoon, a sanitised biopic of Atal Bihari Vajpayee, and is now ready to take the next level with Randeep Hooda’s Swatantra Veer Savarkar that seems keen on whitewashing the conflicted personality and legacy of a freedom fighter who wrote multiple mercy petitions to the colonial power and accepted a pension from those he once fought against. Unlike Gandhi, Savarkar believed in the power of cinema, and, ironically, decades after his death, the medium is being used to help him scale Gandhian stature.

Randeep Hooda in ‘Swatantra Veer Savarkar’

Randeep Hooda in ‘Swatantra Veer Savarkar’

There is a concerted effort to correct the ecosystem which the right-leaning influencers in the film industry say hasn’t changed as much as they wanted it to in the last ten years. They see it as an ideological shift and put it under the umbrella of freedom of speech, a counter view that was allegedly suppressed when film folks saw the world from the prism of bhaichara (brotherhood) or Ganga-Jamuni tehzeeb (syncretic culture), euphemisms for appeasement politics.

However, in the real world, the Prime Minister still takes G-20 leaders to pay floral tributes at the Gandhi Samadhi. The new ecosystem speaks with a forked tongue. Replying to an RTI query, the Home Ministry said it didn’t have any information about urban naxals or their activities.

We saw a similar but limited attempt without much box-office success before the 2019 polls as well but the new variants are a lot more technically polished and emotionally manipulative in putting the point across. Also, they are being headlined by competent actors such as Hrithik Roshan, Randeep Hooda, and Yami Gautam and are backed by producers for whom it is proving to be a safe proposition.

Investing in political narratives

As the industry means business, producers are investing in political narratives after seeing the box-office success of The Kashmir Files and The Kerala Story. They feel there is a mass that wants to see the dramatic representation of what is dog-whistled at political rallies and newsroom debates and give the crude WhatsApp chats a creative shape. For the foot soldier, the advantage is that ‘suitable’ portions make it to reels to roll over the facts over and over again.

For instance, the Indian government had described the surgical strikes after Pulwama as a ‘non-military pre-emptive strike’ but Fighter frames it clearly as revenge. The Central Board Of Film Certification, until recently was very careful about how the Prime Minister is portrayed on the screen, let a declamatory statement like “Show them who is daddy” go in his name in Fighter.

At another level, it shows the makers like politicians don’t want the Pulwama episode and the Balakot strike to go off public memory. In 2019, we had Uri: The Surgical Strike on the same operation by the same producer. The difference is while the movie threatened home invasion, Fighter talked of the possibility of ‘India Occupied Pakistan’. Telugu film Operation Valentine also milked the same events with lesser intensity and craft. Curiously, the creative fraternity, like the ruling party, is silent on the martyrs of Galwan so far.

It is not that this polarising cinematic discourse is going uncontested. Dissent is taking allegorical shapes to avoid censorship. Last year, it was very much present in the measured subversion of Pathaan and Jawan while Afwaah and Bheed measured the impact of disinformation. The surge in films around the 1971 war and Indian intelligence officers’ exploits in Pakistan ended up endorsing the view that India had a well-endowed chest before 2014 as well.

Ae Watan Mere Watan, a Karan Johar production, releasing on an OTT platform next week documents the sacrifices the youth made to win us free speech. Based on the life of Usha Mehta, the freedom fighter who ran the secret Congress Radio during the Quit India Movement to take the message of the incarcerated Congress leadership to the people, the film will see socialist leader Ram Manohar Lohia who has hardly been discussed in popular culture. Not to forget, Devashish Makhija’s Joram evocatively talks of the deliberate invisibilisation of tribals in the name of development and Kiran Rao’s Laapataa Ladies cleverly delivers a political punch on social hypocrisy by stimulating those who seek a ban on hijab to look within.

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#Lights #camera #election #Bollywood #poll #mode

Recap 2023: Adipurush To Priyanka Chopra’s “Beef” – 10 Showbiz Controversies

Image was shared on X. (courtesy: Offladipurush)

As we inch closer to the end of 2023, there is a lot to celebrate in the world of entertainment. There were blockbuster hits, Oscar wins and some much-in-love couples exchanging vows. However, once you remove the rose-tinted glasses, you can see that 2023 was not without its red flags. From protests over the colour of an actress’ bikini to a nation coming together to joke about bad VFX in a much-awaited film, the year has been a rollercoaster ride for stakeholders of the entertainment world.

Here’s a quick look at some of the top controversies of the year that had us going, “What?!”

1. What’s in a colour – Besharam Rang

When Deepika Padukone stepped out in a bikini in Besharam Rangthe first song of Shah Rukh Khan’s Pathaan, the internet stopped to stand and stare. But while one section of the internet was waxing eloquent about Deepika’s screen presence and stunning dance movies, a bunch of viewers were not happy with one of Deepika’s costumes. The outfit’s colour sparked protests and poster burnings by right-wing groups across the country. The Censor Board recommended revisions, and in the final version, the controversial outfit appears in a scene following the contentious Besharam Rang song.

2. A furore of “epic” proportions – Adipurush 

Adipurush was, without a doubt, one of the most widely anticipated films of the year. It was an adaptation of The Ramayana, India’s most important and revered epic. The film had everything going for it – a superstar cast headlined by Prabhas and Kriti Sanon, a successful director – Om Raut and dialogues by Manoj Muntashir. The film was a sure-shot box office superhit until it was not. The film was heavily criticised for lacklustre performances, poor screenplay, dialogues that fans described as lazy and disrespectful and dismal VFX. Dialogue writer Manoj Muntashir Shukla announced revisions to address viewer concerns, as memes about the film and widespread criticism affected the box-office earnings.

Certain cast members of the iconic Ramanand Sagar’s Ramayana ( from the late 1980s) such as Sunil Lahri who played Lakshman, and Dipika Chikhlia who played Sita, openly criticised Adipurush. A petition was also filed seeking “revocation of the film certificate of the movie for allegedly distorting sacred texts”. It was dismissed by the Supreme Court.

3. Modifications galore – OMG 2

The impact of the Adipurush debacle was a far-reaching one. Given the furore of the lacklustre adaptation of the Ramayana, Akshay Kumar’s OMG 2, which also had a significant religious theme, went through the Revision Committee days before its release. The review resulted in 27 changes in the final cut, including both audio and visual modifications and the film being awarded an ‘A’ certificate. This came as a blow to the makers, who were touching on the importance of sex education in schools, with their film.

4. Warning! “Deep fakes” ahead

An example of technology rearing its ugly head came in the form of “deep fakes” that shook industry insiders and fans alike. Some of Indian cinema’s biggest names – predominantly women – were subjected to the menace of deep fake. Rashmika Mandanna, Katrina Kaif, Priyanka Chopra, and Alia Bhatt, among others, fell victim to the dangerous trend. Big names in the industry such as Amitabh Bachchan, Vijay Deverakonda, Naga Chaitanya, and Mrunal Thakur, among others, highlighted the issue, calling for preventive and corrective action. The matter was also mentioned as an issue that requires attention by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and an investigation is underway in Rashmika Mandanna’s case, which was the first incident that led to an avalanche of such cases.

5. Salman Khan and the tricky world of dress codes

Let us all just make peace with it. Salman Khan, controversy’s favourite child in Bollywood, is too cool for dress codes and there is no problem with this. Some fans even love him for throwing caution to the sartorial winds. But the internet had a major issue with Salman Khan when he seemed to devise his dress codes for women. Salman’s strong opinion (and alleged imposition) on how women around him should dress came to light when his Kisi Ka Bhai Kisi Ki Jaan co-star and debutant Palak Tiwari said in an interview that Salman Khan had a “rule” for girls on set. Quoting him, she said, “Koi bhi ladki mere set pe ho (any girl on my set), neckline should be here (pointing towards the collarbone.) All the girls should be covered, like good proper girls. My mom saw me wearing full tee, joggers, full covered and going to set and she was like ‘how you are dressed so well?’ I told her ‘Salman sir ke set pe rule hai (Salman sir has this rule on set) and she was like ‘Wow! Very good’.”

The comments gained traction for all the wrong reasons, with many slamming Salman Khan for his hypocrisy and problematic views. In an attempt to explain himself – and only making this worse for himself, as per the internet – the superstar said on an episode of host Rajat Sharma’s Aap Ki Adalat, Salman said, “I feel that a woman’s body is a lot more precious, so as much as it is covered, I feel it’s better.” 

6. Trisha Krishnan Vs Mansoor Ali Khan

One of the biggest hits this year was Lokesh Kanagaraj’s Leo starring Thalapathy Vijay. While the film made headlines for being a tremendous box office success, it also made noise for the blatant display of misogyny and glorification of rape culture by Mansoor Ali Khan, who plays a pivotal role in the movie. It all started when Mansoor in an interview, expressed disappointment about the absence of “bedroom scenes” with Trisha in Leo. He also lamented the scarcity of rape scenes in Tamil films, sparking social media outrage. Several big names including Lokesh and Chiranjeevi condemned Mansoor’s comment. The National Women’s Commission also filed a police complaint against the 61-year-old actor, booking him on charges of sexual harassment and intent to outrage a woman’s modesty for his comments. After a lacklustre apology from Mansoor Ali Khan, Trisha decided to take the high road by tweeting the Alexander Pope quote, “To err is human, to forgive is divine.”

7. The hug that broke the internet – Priyanka & Karan Johar 

Priyanka Chopra made headlines in 2023 when she confirmed rumours that had been circulating for years and stated that she had moved to Hollywood because she had beef with people in Bollywood. She told podcast host Dax Shepard: “I was being pushed into a corner in the industry (Bollywood). I had people not casting me, I had beef with people, I am not good at playing that game so I kind of was tired of the politics and I said I needed a break.”

The podcast went viral and fingers were pointed at Karan Johar, who was also pulled up by the internet for an old interview where he admitted to once wanting to “sabotage” the career of another outsider – Anushka Sharma. 

While the internet was talking about Priyanka Chopra and KJo’s “beef” and Reddit pages were abuzz with plausible reasons for the fall-out, the two came face-to-face at the grand launch of the Nita Mukesh Ambani Cultural Centre in Mumbai. The unthinkable happened and the two hugged warmly! The video went viral in no time and the internet had a field day making memes.

8. Nana Patekar slaps a fan [or does he?]

An unflattering video of Nana Patekar hitting what appeared to be a fan asking for a selfie went viral on social media a few months ago. Hours after fans chastised the actor for slapping a fan, director Anil Sharma shared that it was a scene from his new film. “Nana has not hit anyone, rather that is a shot from my film. We were filming it on the road in the middle of Banaras, where a boy who comes near Nana has to be hit on the head. Shooting was going on and Nana also hit him…But the crowd gathered there recorded it on their mobile cameras and then leaked the shot of the film. Now, Nana is being projected as a negative and rude actor on social media, which is completely wrong. Through Aaj Tak, I would request that the fans understand the truth of this video. This is a shot from the film. Nana has not hit anyone,” he told Aaj Tak.

However, in a separate video, Nana Patekar said that he did slap a stranger, taking him for an actor on the set. “I don’t know who the man was. I thought he was from our team. Later we found that this man was different. We tried to find him but he ran away. Probably, one of his friends shot the entire thing. I haven’t turned down any fans for photos so far. This incident happened by mistake. I don’t know where this man came from. If there’s any misunderstanding, please forgive me. I haven’t done anything such yet,” he said in a clip, originally in Hindi. He added that he was ready to apologise to the man in person if he were to meet the young man again.

9. Sonam Kapoor Vs Rana Daggubati: ‘Guess the actress’ gone wrong

Rana Daggubati is one of the most popular names in Indian cinema, for his work as well as his off-screen persona. He is often seen cheering for his colleagues. During one such event where he was promoting Dulquer Salmaan’s King Of Kotha, Rana Daggubati said that “a big Hindi cinema heroine” had once wasted Dulquer’s time by getting on phone calls with her London-based partner while on set. The internet guessed that the Bollywood actress in question was Sonam Kapoor, who is married to London-based businessman Anand Ahuja and worked with Dulquer Salmaan in the 2019 film The Zoya Factor.

Sonam, needless to say, was not happy. However, she kept her comments limited to a cryptic post, which said, “ Small minds discuss people, average minds discuss events and great minds discuss ideas…Just a little something I would like some people to know…Especially when discussing things about people that are made up.”

Rana Daggubati followed up with an apology, which – among other things said – “I am genuinely troubled by the negativity that has been aimed at Sonam due to my comments that are totally untrue and were meant entirely in a light-hearted manner. As friends, we often exchange playful banter, and I deeply regret that my words have been misinterpreted. I take this opportunity to express my heartfelt apologies to Sonam and Dulquer, both of whom I hold in great esteem…” 

10. Live Naatu Naatu at Oscars fails 

While Naatu Naatu from RRR won India an Oscar in the Best Original Song category this year, the live performance of the song was criticised.  The dancers who performed, Billy Mustapha and Jason Glover, are not of Indian descent but Canadian and American, respectively. Fans argue that casting non-South Asian dancers undermines the anti-colonial essence of the song. For context, the song is originally portrayed as a dance battle in pre-independence India in the film featuring actors Ram Charan and Jr NTR. In the song, Raju [Ram Charan] and Bheem [Jr NTR], outdancing their British opponents. The irony, therefore, was unmissable.

The silver lining, however, was that the song was sung at the award show by the original voices behind the track, Rahul Sipligunj and Kaala Bhairava. Further, the performance was introduced by India’s sweetheart Deepika Padukone.

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#Recap #Adipurush #Priyanka #Chopras #Beef #Showbiz #Controversies

Orry, Not Sorry

What a year it has been – Zeenat Aman broke the internet by joining Instagram at 71. Jasmeen Kaur, a self-made entrepreneur who sells Indian ethnic wear on Instagram – take notes, venture capitalists – gave us the anthem of the year in ‘so beautiful, so elegant, just looking like a wow.’ The last prophet-superstar of our age Shah Rukh Khan taught the kids how it’s done by doing the impossible with two (and a third potential) mega-hits in a year. And a Lucknow-based 18-year-old content creator ended up giving us the Indian horror icon of the year – ganji chudail.

If you use social media, there’s possibly no way you’ve not come across the now infamous Orry or who has invariably been seen hobnobbing and rubbing shoulders with celebrities, actors, Bollywood stars alike. The question everybody’s been asking is Who the hell is Orry (?). It’s the staggeringly consistent and equal access he has had to so many stars in the film fraternity that’s added to the enigma and intrigue surrounding him. The other question behind the intrigue is what the hell does Orry do (?). As of January 2023, Orry had many a has-been job titles: fashion designer, singer, songwriter, creative director, shopper, buyer, football player, stylist, and executive assistant. And there is the ‘liver’ self-description since he loves living.

Most speculation points to him being an industry plant at the behest of a powerful business family based in Bombay that’s trying to cement its place as the power broker of the culture industry. Simply put, he’s believed to be a liaison between Bollywood and big business money.

His pictures with various celebrities have inspired a storm of a meme-fest, some harsh and scathing, and some endearing over months of growing popularity. Orry’s ability to sustain interest around him is a testament to him having arrived on the scene and his image-making brilliance. 

For someone who stayed limited to niche subreddit circles, he has slowly and steadily climbed up into the mainstream discourse. A case in point is Karan Johar Janhvi Kapoor and Ananya Pandey on a Koffee with Karan episode as to who Orry is and what he does. The actresses rehashed his infamous description of himself as someone who is “…is loved, but misunderstood…,” and someone who “works on himself. He gets massages, he does yoga,” a throwback to his video interview with Sonal Ved at the top of this year. 

Even as the Internet loves to hate and admire him in equal parts, one can’t help but compare Orry’s statements and zingers (“I’ve experienced attempted murder because my friend left me alone at a party without saying as much as a bye and I could have fallen off the roof and died, having had a couple of shots”) to the sheer carnivalesque absurdity of Rakhi Sawant – the queen of Camp – who has served, and served so consistently. That he’s made it as a wild card entry to Big Boss, the Indian pastiche version of the American reality TV show Big Brother, is in line with how you’d imagine his graph to grow. 

There is, of course, a long list of people who’ve left a trail of crumbs on how to template oneself in the famous-for-being-famous-game. The OGs in this list include Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie, the Kardashians-Jenners, Amber Rose, and the most famous reality TV housewife Lisa Vanderpump, all of whom are part of an infamous legacy of people who’ve built their empires on fame alone. 

Parallelly, India saw the rise of fame-seeker celebs with the advent of Big Boss that first aired in 2006. A whole cohort of stars emerged from this franchise, many of whom have disappeared into obsolescence and who were once condescendingly snubbed as C-grade celebrities by culture writer Poonam Saxena in her 2009 column when she , “If you ask me, it’s only a matter of time before these C-grade celebrities create a parallel universe of their own and suck the rest of us into the vortex created by their own vacuousity.” 

Orry does not need to have anything insightful, meaningful, cerebral or novel to offer. All it takes for this pursuit of fame is the sheer willingness to put oneself out there, wearing your heart on your sleeves and saying it like it is. 

The pursuit of fame and power are a bit alike. The election of Donald Trump to the American Presidency is often traced back to the uncomfortable remnants of celebrity culture from the previous century – a heady mix of paparazzi, reality TV, and tabloid journalism. Even as his presidency may have been the rudest joke America has ever lived through, albeit deservedly, it would be foolish to not acknowledge how he was an invention of New York’s liberal studio and cable executives and tabloids who elevated him to national primetime celeb status.  

Trump hung out with the power brokers, specifically the New York Post’s gossip editors, proprietors and investors – whose Page-6 writing made and broke careers – as the Showtime documentary adequately shows. Trump’s rise was greatly manufactured by Rupert Murdoch’s CMYK newsprint.  

The steady minimal dose of narcissism it takes to hold on to power and fame – and one could think of many elected Presidents and Prime Ministers, probably not too far from home, in this scheme – is the fodder for the bipolarity of our age, equal halves of contempt and intrigue for celebrity famous for being famous. 

The Indian media has always had their favourites who make for great headlines, copy, images, and blind items. Be it the ancient age of traditional network studios, legacy media and television or the current age of Tik-Tok, social media and YouTube, India’s appetite for invasive details about their favourite stars and public persons has always fed into the celebrity-industry complex.  

In the post-Anthropocene age of the celebrity, the precise speed of it being 4.1 seconds – the average attention span of a person scrolling – being famous doesn’t necessarily need what was once a key requisite to be famous and revered – talent. In this terrain, what qualified you for fame and celebrity used to be the exclusive monopoly of actors, politicians, sportspersons, industry leaders, artists. Remember writers? This has long been disrupted with the birth of the influencer in the post-tabloid age. Being good or the best at something heretofore used to be a criterion to be famous. Today, simply living your authentic selves – or a mildly curated version of it anyway – is what audiences desire most. In a sense, the rules of who gets to be famous and for what reason have been dumped at the doors of Y2K. 

The algorithmic democratic dividend has allowed many citizens from the farthest and lowest margins of society to emerge as local or micro-influencers and brought them a dose of fame away from remote obscurity. What remained the exclusive birth right of the feudal landed classes, or the caste group that enjoyed direct or indirect political power, the yuva neta, owners of the localised means of production or of the fiefdom that is Bollywood got completely shattered when small and big YouTubers, Vloggers, content-makers, Tik-Tokers, Instagrammers emerged with millions of likes and subscribers rallying behind them. 

The brief period when Tik-Tok was allowed to be used in India, before its official banning by the government, had propelled thousands of social media stars and influencers who had emerged to sudden fame and recognition out of their immediate anonymity. In banning Tik-Tok, India relegated so many content creators from the margins of society back to the digital wasteland, as the comic, podcaster and writer Anurag Minus Verma has so eloquently . 

It is no coincidence, then, that urban, Savarna India also cringes at rural Indian content that makes it to its algorithm through curated filters and accounts such as , , among others. Is it Savarna superiority that makes us enjoy ‘’ or Somvati Mahawar who got famous for ‘Hello, friends chai pee lo’ ? Take for instance, one of 2023’s most shared and laughed-at videos by an IAS faculty member of Drishti IAS coaching academy who was mocked for the way he pronounces the word ‘casual’ in the viral . What urban India ‘cringes at’ reflects its own inherent casteism.  

Much has been said about how public life and fame come with a pre-emptive forgetting and sacrificing of one’s privacy. As Lady Gaga famously ‘Fame is prison.’ And for most in the business of fame, this is but a tiny price to pay to earn a seat at the table. For generation Z that’s born at the cusp of the new millennium and after, social-media-enabled curating of the self in capsule-sized captions, the regular broadcasting of the daily motions of life and the digital adrenaline economy is the new normal. 

Whether you like it or not, the age of the image is the one we’re in and Silicon Valley’s manual of how to live on the internet is a life driven by numbers. It would help to remember that Orry’s audience isn’t so much the late millennial or the newsprint-reading, paperback-buying boomer. It’s Generation Alpha (teens who’re born after 2009) and Gen-Z adults who have been born into the telecom and spectrum revolution. It’s people who’ve no idea what a Public Call Office (PCO) booth looked like or what Orkut, LimeWire or MySpace meant to the 90s kids. To a young adult who is growing up in a relatively less queerphobic India today, Orry might represent a sense of hope and aspiration. His arrival might also mean the retirement of another popular queer icon – a film director whose family sagas defined the 90s and 2000s for many. 

If indeed Orry ‘is a liver because he loves living,’ we are all watchers as we love and/or hate watching the carefully curated life he seems to be projecting on our phone screens. That also possibly makes us fawners as we continue to remain obsessed with celebrity culture fawning over anyone who gets to have skin-to-skin contact with the stars. Our intrigue surrounding public personalities’ private lives and those who occupy their constellations says more about us than it does about Orry and what he represents. 

Like him, remaining indifferent, loving him are likely immaterial permutations to him. The fact that he’s made you notice, pause, and even read this piece until all the way here is his marketing genius. He’s a stone’s throw away from launching an IP, if not several, leverage his moment in the sun and run with it. And why shouldn’t he? After all, the sky belongs to all. 

(Chirag Thakkar is a publishing professional, writer and editor based in Delhi. He tweets @chiraghthakkar. The views expressed here are entirely his own and do not represent that of an organisation nor those of The Quint.)

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The Marvels, The Killer, Tiger 3 and More: The 9 Biggest Movies in November

What are the biggest movies releasing in November 2023? The Marvels is poised to continue the erratic Phase 5 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe in style, transporting us to a destabilising universe where Carol Danvers’ (Brie Larson) powers get entangled with other intergalactic heroes. It is the shortest film in the franchise — running at 105 minutes — and is slated to hit theatres worldwide on November 10. Chase that down with The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, which serves as an origin story for Coriolanus Snow (Tom Blyth), the future tyrannical president of Panem, as he navigates responsibilities and young love. It’s out November 17 in cinemas.

Salman Khan leads the charge on the local end with a new addition to YRF’s spy-thriller series, Tiger 3, on a mission to save the country from a mysterious threat who’s keeping tabs on his family. This marks the year’s second theatrical release from the Bollywood star, following Kisi Ka Bhai Kisi Ki Jaan, which was met with disappointment from both fans and critics alike. Khan is also producing a movie dropping this month called Farrey, in which an orphan genius is lured by her wealthy friends at a prestigious school into helping them cheat in exams. Soumendra Padhi — best known for Netflix’s Jamtara — directs the film, which releases November 24.

Other notable releases this month include David Fincher’s highly anticipated return to the crime/ serial killer genre in a twisted odyssey starring Michael Fassbender, who muses about life and philosophy as he begins to crack psychologically. The Killer will be up for streaming November 10 on Netflix. For your convenience, we have curated the biggest November 2023 releases coming to theatres and Netflix, which you can check out below. Also, feel free to browse our Entertainment hub to keep track of any other releases that might interest you.


When: November 3
Where: Theatres

A year into their marriage, Kavya (Tia Bajpai) visits the local police station to file a report for marital rape against her husband Vivek (Gaurav Chopra), a well-respected college professor. As you’d expect, things don’t go her way, with cops and family members not believing her story, all the while her husband tries to threateningly reason with her and suppress the story. Much like real life, it’s a fate other women in Lakeerein also suffer from, some of whom are way too scared to report such crimes. As such, the film plays out from Kavya’s perspective, who takes matters to the court, representing their struggles as she tries to avoid stupid questions like “If your consent isn’t automatically reserved for your husband, whom are you saving it for?”

Representing her in court is Geeta Biswas (Bidita Bag), a patient lawyer who abides by the rules and believes Kavya’s handling of the situation was a bit reckless. Conversely, Vivek is aided by Dudhari Singh (Ashutosh Rana), who even privately meets her as a form of intimidation, trying to divert Kavya from her goal. Directed by Durgesh Pathak, it is worth mentioning that Lakeerein might be a tough watch for some — not just because of the triggering subject, but because the dialogue is entirely written in pure Hindi language (based on the trailer).

The Killer

When: November 10
Where: Netflix

Mindhunter season 3 is not happening, but it’s always fun seeing David Fincher delve back into the realm of thrillers. His latest tracks an unnamed assassin for hire (Michael Fassbender) holed up at an abandoned Parisian WeWork, with a tactile sniper rifle pointing at his target’s location. Killing someone involves a lot of waiting and observing, as you get accustomed to a boring routine, which in this case is heavily OCD-driven — reducing heart rate to 100BPM before pressing the trigger, listening to The Smiths, or sleeping upright to stay alert. Through it all, we’re treated to a lengthy voiceover about his well-paying profession, politics, and the morality of human beings. That is until he overthinks, and his psyche begins to crack, leading to a fatal miss that catapults him on a globe-trotting quest to clean up the mess.

The Killer establishes that being good at a hitman’s job entails that one must ‘forbid empathy’, albeit it’s something he’s unable to fully exert due to his love life. If the film does follow Alexis Nolent’s acclaimed graphic novel to the full extent, we’ll get to see him making mistakes and questioning his choices at such a later stage in his career — ideals that make us normies feel utterly insignificant in the face of the bigger forces at play. Switching between new IDs, vehicles, and cliché tourist shirts, the Killer makes swift work of the baddies and gradually climbs the hierarchical chain as part of a revenge plot thread which I won’t disclose for spoiler reasons.

Marking screenwriter Andrew Kevin Walker’s second credited collaboration with Fincher — first being 1995’s Se7en — the film also stars Charles Parnell (Top Gun: Maverick) as his handler, Tilda Swinton (Suspiria) as a rival assassin, and Sophie Charlotte as the Killer’s love interest.

The Marvels

When: November 10
Where: Theatres

Having reclaimed her identity from the ruthless alien race of Kree, Carol Danvers (Brie Larson) is dealing with being on her own — stuck in the solitary blackness of space, awaiting the routine wholesome phone calls from Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson). Watching over a now-destabilised universe, she is inadvertently pulled into a wormhole, presumably created by a Kree imperialist Dar-Benn (Zawe Ashton), who intends to restore her homeland to former glory. Oddly though, the act somehow entangles Captain Marvel’s powers with those of Kamala Khan (Iman Vellani) and her S.A.B.E.R. astronaut Captain Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris), forcing them to work together to save the universe.

Basically, every time a Marvel uses their powers, they switch places with the other ones no matter where they’re located or if they are in the middle of a fight. Understandably, they must now learn to sync up their abilities to perform the best combos and lay waste to oncoming threats, ping-ponging between planets and getting startled by the Flerken Goose’s tentacles. It appears as though all of these problems are caused by a sacred bangle, like the one Kamala wears, granting Dar-Benn the will to harness magical powers designed to destroy Carol. Nia DaCosta, who previously helmed an episode of Ms. Marvel, serves as the director of The Marvels, charting a new chapter in MCU’s Phase 5.

All Upcoming Marvel Movies and Web Series

Tiger 3

When: November 12
Where: Theatres

Following a cameo in the blockbuster film Pathaan, Salman Khan returns as the infamous RAW agent Avinash ‘Tiger’ Rathore, now being targetted by the Indian government over a major conspiracy. An enigmatic villain from his past, played by Emraan Hashmi (Selfiee), has come for revenge, claiming that Tiger stole his family from him. As such, he plans on doing the same by targeting his wife, the former ISI agent Zoya (Katrina Kaif) and their son, while painting them as enemies of the nation. Forced to pick between his nation and his family, Tiger engages in some Mission: Impossible-esque stealth missions and some gung-ho-style gunfights, hoping to unmask the criminal. Directed by Maneesh Sharma (Fan), Tiger 3 is also expected to feature a cameo of Shah Rukh Khan’s character from Pathaan, essentially forming a bridge.

The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes

When: November 17
Where: Theatres

Long before Coriolanus Snow ever became the ruthless dictator of Panem, he was simply the last hope for his dying lineage, hoping to prove his worth at the 10th annual Hunger Games, which serves as a deathmatch for members of the impoverished districts. As a last-minute change, the students are tasked with mentoring the competitors, which the young Snow (Tom Blyth) sees as a chance of redemption since his namesake was tarnished after the war. Enter Lucy Gray (Rachel Zegler), his girl tribute who defiantly sings during the reaping ceremony, instantly charming him as Snow forms ideas in his mind to manipulate her voice to turn the contest’s odds in his favour.

But things get complicated when he develops feelings for Lucy, to the point where he questions the Head Gamemaker Dr. Volumnia Gaul (Viola Davis) about the goal of the Hunger Games and the horrific mutations stored within her underground laboratory — which includes a giant tank of rainbow-coloured snakes. She believes that the terror of becoming prey easily turns someone into a predator, presenting the contest as a spectacle for amusement for the higher class. Francis Lawrence, who directed the original Jennifer Lawrence-led trilogy, returns to direct this standalone arc, poised to feature an interesting twist to reveal who between Snow and Lucy ultimately ends up being the snake and the songbird.

The ensemble cast of The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes also includes Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones) as the game creator Dean Casca Highbottom, Jason Schwartzman (The Darjeeling Express) as the first-ever host, and Euphoria-fame Hunter Schafer as Coriolanus’ older cousin Tigris Snow.

Watch the Trailer for The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes

Rachel Zegler in a still from The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes
Photo Credit: Lionsgate

Next Goal Wins

When: November 17
Where: Theatres

Another Fassbender entry this month, Next Goal Wins sees him as a Dutch-American football coach Thomas Rongen, who’s faced with the choice of either accepting his firing or undertaking a near-impossible job. The latter entails that he convert the American Samoa national football team into an elite squad — considered one of the weakest teams in the world, after their crushing 31-0 defeat to Australia during the 2001 FIFA World Cup. He must achieve this while grappling with his alcohol addiction and language barrier, in addition to dealing with players who are afraid of going for the ball.

He’s basically got the toughest job on the island, but the countless hours of practice help him cope and form an inseparable bond with the folks. In addition to writing and directing this uplifting sports movie, Taika Waititi (Jojo Rabbit) stars in it as a goofy moustachioed American-Samoan priest, alongside Elisabeth Moss (The Invisible Man), Will Arnett (BoJack Horseman), and Kaimana as Jaiyah Saelua, the first trans woman player to compete in the global tournament.


When: November 24
Where: Theatres

Just like Martin Scorsese’s Killers of the Flower Moon, Napoleon will first get a wide theatrical release before eventually heading to Apple TV+. Acclaimed filmmaker Ridley Scott (Alien) paints a deeply personal portrait of the revered titular Frenchman, going all the way from his origins to his self-coronation as the Emperor of France, as he climbed the ladder through ruthless military tactics. All of this is presented through his volatile relationship with his wife Joséphine (Vanessa Kirby), who often claims that Napoleon Bonaparte would be nothing without her involvement. Promising epic war sequences that make use of grand practical effects, director Scott claimed that reconstructing the battlefield made him start to think like Napoleon.

The research also expands to historical paintings from artist Jean-Léon Gérôme, with a scene depicting the Emperor’s Egyptian expedition as he stood before the majestic Sphinx. David Scarpa, who last collaborated with Scott on 2017’s All the Money in the World, has written the script for Napoleon, which also stars Tahar Rahim (Extrapolations) as executive head of the Directory Paul Barras, Ben Miles (Hijack) as Napoleon’s advisor Caulaincourt, and Catherine Walker as the Archduchess of Austria Marie-Antoinette.


When: November 24
Where: Theatres

Niyati (Alizeh Agnihotri), an orphan genius living under her warden’s care in Delhi, ends up topping her 10th board exams, consequentially securing schooling at a prestigious academy. When the other rich kids notice her performance, she gets roped into a cheating racket — starting with simple tactics like sneaking chits into the exam room to gradually evolving into something risky. It appears as though she’s making good money by helping out her friends, but in the process, she might end up losing the honest reputation she’d built since her childhood. Soumendra Padhi, best known for the phishing scam Netflix show Jamtara, directs Farrey, enlisting a cast featuring Sahil Mehta (Made in Heaven), Prasanna Bisht, and Zeyn Shaw (Class).

May December

When: November 30
Where: Netflix

Talented TV actress Elizabeth (Natalie Portman) travels to Georgia to do research about Gracie Atherton-Yoo (Julianne Moore), wanting to embody the latter’s personality for an indie film she’s about to star in. A long time ago, the 36-year-old Gracie was involved in a scandalous affair with a seventh-grader, serving prison time and making tabloid headlines for wanting to keep the baby. The unconventional pair now have a family together — one that looks eerily normal to Elizabeth until her relentless and questions start revealing long-hidden secrets and suppressed feelings to the surface, forming cracks in their relationship.

Playing the young husband Joe Yoo is Charles Melton (Riverdale), who’s lived his entire life not feeling like the victim, also begins to see the issue and ponder why the couple never had a proper discussion about their so-called love life. Frequent Moore collaborator Todd Haynes directs May December from a screenplay by debutant Samy Burch, which itself is loosely inspired by the real-life story of the US-based sex offender and teacher Mary Kay Letourneau.

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Raksha Bandhan 2023: Ritika Bhavnani To Shahnaz Lalarukh, Meet The Camera-Shy Siblings Of 12 Bollywood Stars

Shah Rukh Khan with his sister Shahnaz Lalarukh. (Courtesy: SRKUniverse)

New Delhi:

In the glitzy world of Bollywood, it is not uncommon for members of a family to follow in each other’s footsteps. In fact, over the years, much has been said and spoken about star kids and those with familial connections in the industry having it easy in the world of Indian cinema. While it is not uncommon for siblings or children to follow in the footsteps of their celebrity relatives, fans have also been fascinated by the personal lives of the country’s big stars for decades. While the spotlight naturally gravitates towards the likes of the Khans, Kapoors, and Chopras of the industry, there exists a fascinating realm of lesser-known siblings of celebrities who have quietly carved their own paths away from the limelight.  This Raksha Bandhan, let us take a look at some of the little-known siblings of our favourite Bollywood stars.

1. Ranveer Singh’s sister Ritika Bhavnani

Unlike Ranveer Singh, who is known for infectious energy and candid candour, his elder sister Ritika Bhavnani has always maintained a low profile. Often referred to as Little Momma by her brother, Ritika Bhavnani is rarely captured by the paparazzi. She has a private Instagram profile and we catch glimpses of her only in social media posts or at events where she is cheering for her little brother.

Most recently, we saw Ritika Bhavnani in a Team Rocky sweatshirt at the screening of Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani

2. Priyanka Chopra’s brother Siddharth Chopra

Superstar Priyanka Chopra’s brother Siddharth Chopra is a regular fixture on her Instagram timeline. However, Siddharth stays away from the limelight and is mostly spotted with his sister at family events. In addition to being a chef after graduating from Les Roches International School of Hotel Management, Switzerland, he also manages Priyanka Chopra’s production house Purple Pebble Pictures.

3. Bipasha Basu’s sisters Bidisha and Vijayeta 

Bipasha Basu’s two sisters have stayed away from the Bollywood bustle and are rarely spotted, if at all, at any film event. Bipasha Basu’s elder sister Bidisha is hardly spotted on the actress’ social media posts but the Jism star’s younger sister is a regular fixture on Bipasha’s Instagram time. In fact, several images of Vijayeta’s wedding that were shared by Bipasha in 2019 went viral. 

4. Hrithik Roshan’s sister Sunaina Roshan

Hrithik Roshan’s sister Sunaina Roshan is another star sibling who has hardly been spotted on social media or at film events. Sunaina, however, is often seen in her brother Hrithik Roshan and father Rakesh Roshan’s Instagram posts. In 2019, fans saw more of Sunaina when she opened up about issues with her parents and brother. In addition to alleging that her father slapped her, she said Hrithik Roshan refused to pay her rent. However, now it seems that all is well in the Roshan household. In 2023, Hrithik even shared a birthday note for Sunaina and said, “My soul would have not been this enriched if you didn’t exist didi.”

5. Aishwarya Rai’s brother Aditya Rai

Aishwarya Rai is one of the most recognised stars in the world of entertainment. After the Miss World win, Aishwarya made a mark for herself in Indian cinema and Hollywood. Her brother, Aditya Rai, however, found his calling as an engineer in the Merchant Navy. He also turned co-producer for his sister’s film Dil Ka Rishta. Aditya Rai is married to content creator Shrima Rai.

6. Kartik Aaryan’s sister Kritika Tiwari

Kartik Aaryan’s baby sister Kritika Tiwari is a doctor by profession and is sporadically seen on the actor’s Instagram handle.  A cursory glance at Kartik’s posts with his sister will show the easy and fun bond that the siblings share.

7. Akshay Kumar’s sister Alka Bhatia

Superstar Akshay Kumar shares a very special bond with his sister Alka Bhatia. The actor’s sister lives away from the limelight and is only seen on rare occasions when she is celebrating her brother. In fact, Akshay Kumar even dedicated one of his films to Alka. “Dedicating this film, Raksha Bandhan to my sister Alka and to the most special bond in the world – that of a brother and sister,” he wrote in a post, before the release of the Aanand L Rai film Raksha Bandhan.

Here is a glimpse of Alka Bhatia talking about her brother.

8. Parineeti Chopra’s brothers Sahaj and Shivang Chopra

That Parineeti Chopra is extremely close to her brothers Sahaj and Shivang Chopra is no secret. From singing together to vacationing in the Maldives, the sibling trio is inseparable. While Sahaj is an entrepreneur, Shivang is a doctor.

9. Katrina Kaif’s siblings

Bollywood superstar Katrina Kaif comes from a large family. She has four older siblings – Stephanie, Christine, Natacha and Sebastien and three younger siblings – Melissa, Sonia, and Isabelle. Of them, Isabelle has followed in Katrina Kaif’s footsteps and is an actress. She has appeared in Suswagatam Khushamadeed and Time to Dance. Not much is known about the other siblings given that they are fiercely private people. However, as per social media updates, Katrina Kaif’s brother, Sebastien Laurent Michel has a degree in Furniture Design and Craft, while Melissa Turquotte is a mathematician. 

10. Saif and Soha Ali Khan’s sister Saba Ali Khan

Saba Ali Khan, Saif and Soha Ali Khan’s sister, is a familiar name among fans of the actors thanks to Saba’s regular and priceless social media updates. On Instagram, Saba often shares lovely throwback images of her parents Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi, Sharmila Tagore. In addition to being a jewellery designer, she is also the Mutawalli of the Auqaf-e-Shahi, established by the then ‘Princely State’ of the Kingdom of Bhopal as a royal charitable endowment.  For context, her grandfather Iftikhar Ali Khan Pataudi was the Nawab of Pataudi, a title that was later taken on by her father and cricketer icon Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi.

11, Disha Patani’s sister Khushboo Patani

Disha Patani – who has the country praising her stunning looks and dancing skills – has a sister named Khushboo. Khushboo, who makes it to some of Disha Patani’s social media posts, is a Lieutenant in the Indian Army. 

12Shah Rukh Khan’s sister Shahnaz Lalarukh

Unlike Shah Rukh Khan, one of the country’s biggest stars and the cynosure of all eyes, his sister Shahnaz Lalarukh maintains a low profile. While Lalarukh lives in Mannat with the Khan family, she is seldom spotted at film events. However, throwback images of Lalarukh with her baby brother tend to go viral on social media, from time to time. 

Here is a throwback image of the siblings with SRK’s wife Gauri Khan and actor Viveck Vaswan.

Tell your favourite siblings from the list.

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#Raksha #Bandhan #Ritika #Bhavnani #Shahnaz #Lalarukh #Meet #CameraShy #Siblings #Bollywood #Stars

‘Guns & Gulaabs’ Review: Raj & DK’s Gangster Comedy Is Delightfully Whimsical

Even some of the best shows with multiple narratives manage to get too convoluted in their own vision but Raj and DK’s latest Guns & Gulaabs’ strength is its sure-footedness. The show opens by introducing all of its parallel plots. Swimming through an opium field, the audience is taken to a group of schoolboys arguing about whose love is more saccha (true). 

Moments later, a man is seen running across the screen with others in hot pursuit. This is the world of Guns & Gulaabs. 

Rajkummar Rao in a still from Guns & Gulaabs.

Set in the fictional town of Gulaabgunj with the neighbouring, rival town of Sherpur mentioned frequently, the show primarily features two gangs battling over an illegal opium business. One is led by Ganchi Sr. played with ease by the late Satish Kaushik and the other is run by Nabeed (Nilesh Divekar). The Ganchi family’s scion Ganchi Jr aka Jugnu (Adarsh Gourav) struggles to make his own mark in his father’s business.  

There are other players in the game. There’s the soft-spoken mechanic Tipu (Rajkummar Rao) who wants to take a path in life that is as far from his father’s as possible. He spends most of the first few episodes trying to express his feelings for the local school’s English teacher Chandralekha (TJ Bhanu). A new Narcotics agent Arjun (Dulquer Salmaan) also enters this little world with his seemingly picture perfect family.

In this world rife with violence, the most intriguing character (even for those within the story) is that of ‘Chaar Cut’ Aatmaram (Gulshan Devaiah) who kills his victims with four strategically placed slashes of his knife. 

Gulshan Devaiah in a still from Guns & Gulaabs.

Raj & DK take these delightfully asymmetrical characters and place them in different points of this ecosystem with each character’s motivations glaringly obvious from the very beginning. And so begins a game of cat-and-mouse and secrets and jealousy and changing plans that keeps you on your toes, constantly guessing.

The retro Bollywood nostalgia seeps through the screen because of writers Raj & DK and Suman Kumar, DOP Pankaj Kumar, and Creative Consultant Shhyamali De. This setting also allows for the writers to take liberty with their storytelling.

The visuals of cars screeching to a halt and gangsters pouring out or characters catching others in secluded sites doesn’t feel out of place in this world that’s set in the past. 

A radio croons a love song and Aatmaram takes the 60 second count of a PCO seriously (in a particularly enjoyable ‘bit’). It’s in these little details that the clever Raj & DK touch is evident. 

A still from Guns & Gulaabs.

Running parallel to this story is that of the aforementioned school students. Through the lives of a couple of kids, Raj & DK explore the ways in which kids’ school lives are affected by their family and vice versa. We get an insight into how male and female students are expected to behave and how failure to conform to these expectations can often result in damaging consequences. 

Tanishq Chaudhary as a teenager Gangaram aka Gangu, the class troublemaker, proves he’s an actor to watch out for. Amongst the kids, he gets the most nuanced backstory and he carries that weight with aplomb.

Gangu’s character is used by the makers to delve into the way educational institutions paint students under archetypes and rarely attempt to address issues surrounding support and mental health. 

While gang violence and an opium trade runs rampant in the towns, these coming-of-age scenes add a charm to the show.

When it comes to the cast, Rajkummar Rao as Tipu uses his brilliant comedic timing to add a spark to his character. He comes off as a man who is confident in his abilities but still questions his successes.

When he bursts into tears after convincing everyone he doesn’t care about something, it’s funny. His obsession with avenging his friend by conveniently forgetting that he must also avenge his father becomes an interesting running gag. 

Rajkummar Rao in a still from Guns & Gulaabs.

It helps that his frequent scene partner TJ Bhanu plays her character with restraint and powerful intent, making Lekha and Tipu a fascinating pair to watch. 

Every character, even the ones on the sides, have something to do. If there is a person on screen, there’s a good chance they’ll become, albeit minor, parts of the scene; this adds an authenticity to the show. Another plus point is that there is no actual protagonist. There is no character plot that gets sacrificed for the service of another. The moral ambiguity of the characters almost feels like it’s part of the setting.

The show does however suffer from a danger of fatigue and pacing. The pacing of the first few episodes is inconsistent (though I would recommend staying with the show) and that affects the viewing experience. These pacing issues occur later in the screenplay as well.

TJ Bhanu in a still from Guns & Gulaabs.

The last episode (or the last two chapters) feel slightly convoluted because of the number of narrative threads that need to be resolved. The shifting timelines is a smart cinematic move but eventually gets a little tiresome. Some narrative arcs also seem too convenient, perhaps because they don’t serve any major role in the final climax. 

Guns & Gulaabs is powered by an excellent cast, each person matching steps with the other. This skill sucks the audience into their world. The best performance comes from Adarsh Gourav, who adds subtleties to his character that later become obvious, but striking, discoveries. He steals every scene he is in; his idiosyncrasies become almost endearing.

Adarsh Gourav in a still from Guns & Gulaabs.

Arguably, the way his character is written lacks nuance that is difficult to discuss without a spoiler. All I will say is that there are certain scenes that would’ve benefited from a deeper understanding of the material and a kinder touch. 

Guns & Gulaabs is streaming on Netflix.

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#Guns #Gulaabs #Review #Raj #DKs #Gangster #Comedy #Delightfully #Whimsical

Love and progressiveness: Are Bollywood romances losing their verve?

Ranveer Singh and Alia Bhatt in a still from ‘Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani’

Some of the releases in recent weeks suggest that mainstream Bollywood is in a self-reflective mood. Like the customary transformation scene in family dramas where the ageing generation gives in to the views of their kids after resisting change in the first half, Bollywood bigwigs seem eager to scrutinise the stereotypical tropes that once defined their point of view. They are questioning and scratching off entrenched patriarchy, casual everyday sexism, and gender and cultural biases that have blighted our society and cinema alike in the name of tradition and custom, but in the process, they are losing out on the verve and lilt that Hindi film romance once possessed.

Perhaps propelled by the ripples that some of the content on OTT platforms has created or spurred by the will to challenge their legacy, marquee banners are indulging in introspection. It is reflected in Rajshri Productions’ Uunchai in 2022, Nadiadwala Grandson Entertainment’s Satyaprem Ki Katha and Bawaal and Dharma Production’s JugJugg Jeeyo and Rocky Aur Rani Ki Prem Kahaani (RARKPK). Even Anurag Kashyap who promised a parallel universe to mainstream fluff got caught in this game of catching up with the youth with Almost Pyaar with DJ Mohabbat. So did Luv Ranjan when he mounted Tu Jhoothi Main Makkaar earlier this year.

A Punjabi and a Bengali family overcome their cultural differences and learn progressive lessons in ‘Rocky Aur Rani...’

A Punjabi and a Bengali family overcome their cultural differences and learn progressive lessons in ‘Rocky Aur Rani…’

Veil of change

In RARKPK, Johar has even tossed a low-hanging metaphor — swad wahi, soch nayi (same flavour, new philosophy). The experiment requires courage to get over the obstacles of experience and ego but a closer scrutiny suggests that the change is only cosmetic and the new philosophy demands a newer way of putting across the message. At present, it is a case of neither here nor there as the subversion remains adsorbed on the surface. The noble intentions behind these films often feel contrived as if the creators are chasing applause for their message, only to revert to the status quo for their trusted multiplex audience. This renders their efforts seem more pretentious than impactful. The romantic build-up in the movie RARKPK, between a Punjabi ‘heartthrob’ and a journalist from an intellectual Bengali family lacks the intensity that could be overlooked by the stagy but progressive second half. Cinema like all art is about intent and gaze and here it feels like the film pauses to pontificate like a generic television soap. We are having a dialogue on male insensitivity towards women by taking Ranveer Singh to a lingerie shop.  We are making the hero dance to ‘Dola Re Dola’ to join his prospective father-in-law, a Kathak exponent.

Also Read | Most Indian OTT anthologies are meh

The screenplay reads like a PowerPoint presentation against cancel culture and surprisingly, after all the fuss over making parents see the parallax in their world view, the girl makes peace with the father of the boy who comes across as a misogynist. Similarly, in JugJugg Jeeyo, the sexist attitude of the father played by Anil Kapoor goes unpunished. It is like pushing the envelope and then gingerly pulling it back lest it offend the audience who loved Kuch Kuch Hota Hai for promoting make-up as a must for girls and the notion that short dresses attract unwanted male attention. Essentially, in Bawaal, the Varun Dhawan and Jahnvi Kapoor-starrer is bloated out of proportion perhaps to match the scale of the producer’s image and the urge to reach out to an international audience. The film literally keeps requesting the audience to be open-minded to accept the bizarre idea of a couple learning to bury their differences when the teacher husband is schooled on the pain and sufferings of the Jews during the Second World War. Hindi cinema has sold even more bizarre concepts to the paying public in the past but in those films, the makers were not trying to be too clever by half.  

A still from ‘Bawaal’

A still from ‘Bawaal’

Bawaal is not the only one in recent times that could not hold on to its one-trick show. Aanand L Rai’s Atrangi Re, a quirky love triangle on mental health, also could not pass muster once the director showed his cards.

The premise of Bawaal could have worked if Varun was shown as a primary school teacher in the Uttar Pradesh village and the couple learnt from the sufferings of one of the episodes of the freedom movement. But, perhaps, the makers were keen on making a big splash. Director Nitesh Tiwari recently said that every film could be subjected to scrutiny when viewed through a magnifying glass. It is true but the details invariable come out when the director fails to hold suspension of disbelief even in the first viewing. Music plays an important role in the process but the big shots are borrowing from the past to sustain the love stories of today. Johar has to rework Madan Mohan’s 1966 composition Jhumka Gira Re to hook the audience of today.

Originality is definitely in short supply and cheating is also a difficult art to master.

In mainstream Hindi films, the audience investment has more to do with how emotions are woven and expressed. Physical intimacy alone can’t help you sail through as Aditya Chopra discovered with Befikre.

In Bawaal, while the lead actors fail to sell the premise, Manoj Pahwa is absolutely relatable as the father of the protagonist. Similarly, in RARKPK, while the chemistry between Ranveer and Alia could not seep through the bling, Dharmendra and Shabana Azmi could not stir latent emotions and Jaya Bachchan looked out of place, Tota Roy Chowdhury could still find his way into our hearts amidst the shrill atmosphere and shallow writing.

Recently, a veteran popular cinema enthusiast told a journalist that the love stories of today don’t have the aaramdayak dard (comfortable pain) that the cinema of yore used to provide. Take Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s Abhimaan or Basu Chatterjee’s Rajnigandha for instance. The films haven’t aged in 50 years. Their message is still relevant and the love story still provides goosebumps.

Screenwriters often say that society has changed and romance is no longer the same. But we have seen in Zara Hatke Zara Bachke and Satyaprem Ki Katha that if set, cooked, and cast well, Hindi film romance could still conjure up magic that could help in papering over the cracks in the screenplay. In the past, we have seen the likes of Prakash Mehra, Manmohan Desai, and Subhash Ghai fading away for they resisted change in their storytelling after a point. But it is also important to remember the popular fable where an ageing jackal accidentally falls into a vat of indigo dye while escaping an attack by wild dogs.

Also Read | Smriti Mundhra on ‘The Romantics’: I wanted to remind people of why we love cinema in a non-cynical way

Drenched in a blue hue, he presents himself as a new creature and finds a new lease of life in the cut throat ways of the jungle. However, he could not resist the urge to howl for long and one day when a heavy downpour washes off his blue coat, he gets exposed.

Watching some of the recent works of our top-notch film producers and directors gives one the sense that pushed by the OTT challenge they are deliberately falling into the vat to wear a new coat but finding it hard to keep away from the howl that defines them. The moral of the story is that one should be true to oneself.

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#Love #progressiveness #Bollywood #romances #losing #verve

Kriti Sanon launches own skincare brand “Hyphen” on her 33rd birthday! : Bollywood News – Bollywood Hungama

In the ever-expanding world of celebrity beauty brands, a new entrant has emerged. Bollywood star and birthday girl Kriti Sanon is the latest celebrity to jump on the bandwagon, as she recently launched her own skincare line named “Hyphen.” The expectations are naturally high when it comes to celebrity brands, and Kriti Sanon’s venture into the beauty industry has created a buzz.

Kriti Sanon launches own skincare brand “Hyphen” on her 33rd birthday!

Today, Kriti took to her Instagram and shared a post announcing her brand. Talking about it, Kriti said in the video, “Why do we put people in a box? And say, this is who you are? Why can’t we be everything we want to be in life? I refuse to be a full stop or be limited by a bracket. I’d rather be a hyphen. Hyphen has hope! Hope that there’s going to be something more after it. Hyphen is a hope of possibilities, opportunities of adding more chapters to my life. I’m an engineer, a model, an actor, an entrepreneur, a producer, a separately poet, a fitness enthusiast, a skin nerd and a lot more. And I don’t want to stop. I like that I can hyphen anything to my life. They say you can’t have it all. But why not? Just hyphen it.”

Sharing the post, the actress wrote in caption, “|-| appy Birthday to me! IT’S FINALLY HERE! Today, on 27th July 2023, my heart is filled with joy and gratitude as I welcome you all to our world of HYPHEN !“

Talking about her brand, Kriti wrote, “HYPHEN is a hope of possibilities, opportunities and of adding more chapters to life! And this chapter of my life is super special! Turning my obsession of skincare into passion and then into a dream- a dream of getting a lot of amazing ingredients together to make power-packed products that actually work! We’ve hyphened the power of nature and potency of science to give multiple benefits from each product. People say “You can’t have it all!” But why not? Just HYPHEN it!! Here’s to glowing and growing together!”

Expressing her gratitude, Kriti wrote, “I cant thank the entire team of Hyphen and my co-founders enough who’ve worked endlessly to get our baby out on my birthday Best birthday gift ever!!!! @always_brewing @tarunsharma88 @mohitjain.3110 @vikas.lachhwani @saurabh2014_ism We are LIVE! Check out all the products on”

PEP Technologies, the parent company of mCaffeine, has formed an unprecedented partnership with the highly influential Kriti Sanon. This unique collaboration combines mCaffeine’s expertise in R&D, marketing, supply chain, distribution, logistics and digital marketing with Kriti’s strong influence and passion for skincare. As industry leaders, they aim to revolutionize their respective fields. In addition, Kriti Sanon has “skin in the game,” showcasing her commitment and belief in the partnership’s potential, further solidifying her dedication to the venture’s success.

PEP Technologies will invest 30 crore in Hyphen as the first round of investment, being the majority shareholder, fueling the partnership’s growth and success. The alliance promises groundbreaking advancements, a broader market reach, and unparalleled innovations. Together, they embark on an exciting journey to create an ideal and impactful partnership.

Teaming up with PEP Technologies, the parent company of mCaffeine, Kriti Sanon has transformed her passion for skincare into a thriving business with the creation of Hyphen. As a co-founder of the brand, she expressed her deep-rooted interest in skincare, which has grown even stronger over the years. Hyphen, according to Kriti, is the perfect culmination of her love for beauty and her entrepreneurial spirit. “From a young age, I’ve been passionate about skincare, and as I’ve grown older it has only intensified. Hyphen serves as the perfect amalgamation of these two aspects,” said Kriti Sanon in a statement.

The skincare line, Hyphen, has debuted with three daily products, thoughtfully priced between Rs 450 and Rs 650. The range includes the Barrier Care Cream, available in two variants catering to oily skin and normal to dry skin types, the Golden Hour Glow Serum, and the All I Need Sunscreen SPF 50 PA++++. The brand boasts an impressive reach, being available in 18,000 pin codes right from its launch.

Commenting on the brand launch and partnership, Kriti Sanon, Co-founder, and Chief Customer Officer, Hyphen expresses, “We are very excited to unveil our extraordinary brand, Hyphen, to the world. Teaming up with my partners and co-founders Tarun, Vaishali, Vikas, Saurabh and Mohit fills me with excitement as we prepare to introduce a range of revolutionary products capable of addressing numerous skin concerns. Our journey starts with rigorous research and comprehensive market studies, and the experience that the PEP Technologies team has, enabled us to truly understand the industry and pave the way for Hyphen’s creation. From a young age, I’ve been passionate about skincare, and as I’ve grown older it has only intensified. Hyphen serves as the perfect amalgamation of these two aspects. In my role as the Co-Founder and Chief Customer Officer, I have tried and tested all three products from the brand, and I have been applying them since the past four months, and believe me, it really made a difference in my skincare regime. My utmost desire is for our valued customers to experience the same sense of satisfaction after using our products. With the power of nature and the potency of science, I can proudly say that we have created a powerful yet balanced and rightly priced solution for skin concerns. With PEP technologies firmly established in the industry, their profound knowledge and extensive experience position them as one of the industry’s pioneers. Their proven track record and expertise makes them an ideal partner for us as we launch Hyphen and venture into the skincare market. As we embark on this exciting journey, we eagerly anticipate receiving feedback from our cherished customers. We are “the more” you deserve.”

Moreover, as Kriti has truly arrived as more empowered and more full of spirit with the announcement commercial of her beauty brand HYPHEN, the ideology of the same indeed resonated extensively with her personality. The actress has certainly written the advertisement herself. While she has been working on the product for a year now, she has been involved in every bit of developing the product right from, testing all the products to using them all for 4 months.

On the film front, Kriti was last seen in Om Raut directorial Adipurush. Produced by T-Series, Bhushan Kumar & Krishan Kumar, Om Raut, Prasad Sutar, and Rajesh Nair of Retrophiles, it was released worldwide on June 16, 2023. The actress will be next seen in Ganapath with Tiger Shroff, The Crew alongside Kareena Kapoor Khan and Tabu, and an untitled next with Shahid Kapoor, which is set to release on December 7. There have also been reports about the yet-untitled film that will see Kriti as a robot and Shahid as a scientist, who falls in love with the former. Dharmendra is also part of the project.

Also Read: Kriti Sanon rocks the Khaki power suit, embarking on a new cinematic journey as a producer


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Odisha Train Accident: Salman Khan, Jr. NTR, Akshay Kumar, Parineeti Chopra and others express grief over the tragic collision : Bollywood News – Bollywood Hungama

Indian celebrities on Saturday took to social media to express their sadness over the tragic train accident in Odisha. As per the latest report in NDTV, at least 238 people were killed and more than 900 injured in the horrific collision between three trains. The officials have said that this is the country’s deadliest rail accident in more than 20 years. The accident occurred between Bengaluru-Howrah Superfast Express, the Shalimar-Chennai Central Coromandel Express, and a goods train on Saturday. The rescue operations are currently underway. Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has announced one-day state mourning. Meanwhile, PM Modi, Salman Khan, Akshay Kumar, Parineeti Chopra, Jr. NTR, and Sunny Deol among others are mourning the loss of lives.

Odisha Train Accident: Salman Khan, Jr. NTR, Akshay Kumar, Parineeti Chopra and others express grief over the tragic collision

Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted, “Distressed by the train accident in Odisha. In this hour of grief, my thoughts are with the bereaved families. May the injured recover soon. Spoke to Railway Minister @AshwiniVaishnaw and took stock of the situation. Rescue ops are underway at the site of the mishap and all possible assistance is being given to those affected.”

















ALSO READ: LEAKED! Shah Rukh Khan shoots for his cameo with Salman Khan for Tiger 3 as they arrive on the sets in Madh Island in viral video


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The rash of remakes of south Indian movies by the Bombay industry

For more than a year, the Hindi film industry is unspooling a popular concept of computer science on the screen: garbage in, garbage out. Bachchhan Paandey, Jersey, Cuttputli, Hit, Vikram Vedha, Mili, Drishyam-2, Cirkus, Selfiee, Shehzada, Bholaa, Gumraah, and Kisi Ka Bhai Kisi Ki Jaan — there has been a glut of remakes of South Indian masala. A few of these such as Drishyam-2, Jersey, and Vikram Vedha have been fermented organically but the rest raised a stink at the box office and were trashed in review columns.

The art of remake is neither new nor confined to the Bombay film industry alone. But gone are the days when Mehboob Khan updated his film, Aurat (1940), to make Mother India (1957), a masterpiece rooted in Nehruvian socialism. Or when film director Tapi Chanakya successfully relocated the entertaining Ramudu Bheemudu as Ram Aur Shyam (1967) or for that matter, Farhan Akhtar reimagined Chandra Barot’s Don (1978), co-written by his father Javed Akhtar, into a sleek tribute in the new millennium.

Not on par

In the last few years, there has not been a single remake that is at par or better than the original. There is no Amar Prem (1972) that made one discover its Bengali original Nishi Padma or an Akhree Raasta (1986), which made us compare Amitabh Bachchan’s performance with that of Kamal Haasan in the Tamil original, Oru Kaidhiyin Diary.

Over the years, even the best in the business has featured in remakes that played a part in either changing the course or resurrecting their careers. Much before Ram Aur Shyam, when Dilip Kumar was advised to come out of the tragic hero image, he chose to do Azaad (1955), a remake of the M.G. Ramachandran-starrer Malaikkallan, which fetched him a Filmfare Award for Best Actor. Years later, in Shakti (1982), he essayed the role of an honest police officer in conflict with his antagonistic son, played by Sivaji Ganesan, in Thangappathakkam, when the Tamil hit was imbued with a fresh soul and verve by Salim Javed. The writer duo knew the craft of reinventing the original as they did in their first major success, Hathi Mere Saathi (1971), an adaptation of Deiva Chayal. Interestingly, the film’s success prompted producer Sandow M.M.A Chinnappa Thevar to remake it in Tamil as Nella Neram, with M.G. Ramachandran playing Rajesh Khanna’s part.

Jeetendra survived a slump in his career by acting in a series of remakes of Tamil and Telugu films, particularly with N.T. Rama Rao. Likewise, Mithun Chakraborty found a lifeline when T.L.V. Prasad rehashed Amaithi Padai as Jallad and Rajendrudu Gajendrudu as Jodidaar. Meanwhile, Anil Kapoor won respect by doing remakes of superlative films from the South such as Eeshwar (1989), a remake of Kamal Haasan’s Swathi Muthyam.

After legendary actor-director-producer L.V. Prasad set the trend by turning Missamma into Miss Mary (1955) and Edhir Paradhatu into Sharada (1957), K. Bhim Singh, K. Viswanath, Bapu, and T. Rama Rao frequently transcended barriers of language and culture to remake their South Indian films into Hindi. Later, Priyadarshan showed immense skill and a bit of creativity in Hera Pheri ( Ramji Rao Speaking) and seamlessly transported the soul of a South Indian potboiler into a Bollywood body with Bhool Bhulaiyaa ( Manichitrathazhu) as a shining example, but of late, remaking films from the South has become a formula for those who believe a star can sell trash and that a writer becomes redundant in the remake business.

Flashy treatment

Even the translation of concept films such as Sairat and Driving Licence as Dhadak and Selfiee, respectively are marred by flashy treatment, emasculating the essence of the original. Both came from the stable of Karan Johar. So, when recent reports suggested that Dharma Productions is planning to redo Pariyerum Perumal, one wonders whether Johar would make a mess of yet another good film from the south.

The casual approach that is being put in making remakes can be gauged from the fact that director Farhad Samji first wanted to make Ajith’s Veeram as Bachchhan Paandey, but then made Jigarthanda as Bachchhan Paandey with Akshay Kumar and remade Veeram as Kisi Ka Bhai Kisi Ki Jaan after Salman showed interest in it.

Lack of flair

Remaking a film doesn’t necessarily mean a lack of originality in a particular industry but in the present scenario, it does suggest the Hindi film industry’s lack of investment in screenwriting and inability to gauge the taste of the audience. The writers lack the flair that Gulzar showed in turning Uttam Kumar’s Bhranti Bilas into Sanjeev Kumar’s Angoor. In Rohit Shetty’s Cirkus, only those portions worked which were directly lifted from the original. It seems Kisi Ka Bhai Kisi Ki Jaan has been green-lit just because director Farhad Samji told Salman Khan and his advisers that the protagonist in the original runs away from making a matrimonial commitment.

Salman is not new to remakes. Be it Tere Naam ( Sethu) or Wanted ( Pokiri), in fact, when there was a lull in his career, it was revived by a remake. But those were the days when the term, ‘pan Indian’ hadn’t gathered weight and the southern stars didn’t shine on the northern horizon. One feels sorry for the likes of Kamal Haasan and Uttam Kumar who were often replaced in the remakes just because producers felt they could not sell enough tickets up north.

Remakes like Sooryavansham had always been the driving force of television channels dedicated to cinema but during the pandemic, the consumption of South Indian films on OTT and YouTube increased manifold because of time and cheap internet rates. For instance, the Hindi dub of Veeram was already watched more than two crore times on YouTube before Kisi Ka Bhai Kisi Ki Jaan arrived this Eid. After COVID, when buying a cinema ticket has become a luxury, audiences expect a little more than fantasy from filmmakers.

They are not only aware of the source material but have also accepted the lead actors as their heroes. Prabhas, Allu Arjun, and Yash are household names now in the north and the audience prefers to watch the Hindi dub of Baahubali, RRR, Pushpa, KGF, and Kantara rather than wait for their remake. Technically refined, they touch the raw religious and caste nerve of the masses in the garb of entertainment.

A regressive shift

Industry sources say that the recent spurt in remakes of South Indian films is because audiences have rejected the Hollywood tilt of Hindi film content and want something rooted and polyphonic which the films from the South are providing. Many young Bollywood filmmakers, who handle Hindi films with an English mind and prefer to remake a European or Korean film, find this shift regressive and chaotic, and are taking time to adapt. Also, with the OTT space taking care of the dark, realistic themes, the big screen is increasingly meant for larger-than-life experiences which the single-note treatment of Hindi films has stopped delivering in recent years.

Industry insiders also say that it is not necessarily the film but the budget of remakes that is failing. When the original made in ₹25 crore to ₹30 crore is remade with a budget of ₹100 crore, the creative imagination doesn’t swell in the same proportion as the fee of the star, who in most cases, has a major say these days. For instance, a non-vegetarian Bholaa is no match for Kaithi in the present environment. The writer watched the film at an IMAX theatre with great expectations only to find how director Devgn failed actor Ajay in the din that the background score created.

It is time, the producers employ the rules of remake where reimagining the original is more important than a shot-to-shot copy and try to lace it with something original that we don’t have.

It is time the Hindi film industry gets picky when shopping for a remake, and that if it has to make garbage, why not churn out its own?

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