Monthly Archives

January 2022

Special Films – Day 2116

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What never goes wrong is a good set up because an established filmmaker will never allow his ship to sink. Says Preity Zinta, “Yash Raj Films Veer Zaara, Salaam Namaste and Dharma’s Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna happened around the same time and brought a lot of cheer in my life. I’m proud of all the three films and my character complexities. The women I portrayed actively contributed to the changing Indian heroine in the new millennium and I am filled with gratitude for all the opportunities”.

She was the most unlikely candidate for international filmmaker Deepa Mehta to cast in her film on Indian marriages and Preity recalls the subject fondly. “To be honest I had not seen Deepa’s films but was flattered that she found me worthy and cast me in Heaven on Earth my first international production. The subject addressed arranged marriages and marital abuse, a reality we are still not ready to face. You know the beauty about stardom is that it sweeps you off your feet, engulfs you in amazing experiences and time flies and years later, when you look back, you ask yourself if all that really happened to you!”

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Special Memories – Day 2115

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“Kal Ho Naa Ho will always be special for me because Karan is special. The film projects my character Naina’s perspective, a plain Jane role devoid of any happiness in her life. In this film I was devoid of make-up and even my costumes were not overtly glamorous, except the wedding costume. I have fond memories of the shooting in America where all of us bonded like a family.

This was the time Shah Rukh wasn’t keeping well and put a brave front. Over the years, I played many complex characters. The critics praised me for Chori Chori Chupka Chupke whare I become a surrogate mother for Salman Khan and Rani Mukherjee. I did some run of the mill films too, Dil Hai Tumhara and The Hero were without spark because it is not possible to always depict right judgment, sometimes bad films become super hits and good ones go unnoticed.

To be continued

Commercials to cinema – Day 2114

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She disapproved of them trivializing her career, said, “I didn’t come into show business for glamour. I had ample of it in the modelling world, Liril soap or Cadbury chocolate.  Then Mani Ratnam sir asked me to do a cameo in Dil Se and it was followed by Soldier and Kya Kehna. Sangharsh was interesting because I played a journalist and interacting with Mahesh Bhatt was a bonus”.

She was fortunate to work with the best directors and actors. Vidhu Vinod Chopra cast me in Mission Kashmir because she looked the part and over a period of time did two more films with Hrithik Roshan, his home banner, Koi… Mil Gaya and Farhan Akhtar’s Lakshya. Before Lakshya she did Dil Chahta Hain with Farhan and wondered what kind of role she could play in a story about three friends, but her character made an impact and Preity said there’s so much to learn just watching your colleagues. “Honey Irani’s writing of Kya Kehna! brought me stardom, so it didn’t take me a minute to say ‘yes’ to her directorial debut Armaan, even though I played a self-destructive, slightly imbalanced character.

To be continued

Preity Zinta becomes a mother – Day 2113

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A few days ago, I caught an Instagram image of Preity Zinta with knitting wool below which was a simple line- Mommie feeling. Later, one read in the news that Preity Zinta and husband Gene Goodenough have welcomed twins Gia and Jai via surrogacy. The actor thanked everyone involved with the pregnancy, the doctors, the nurses and the surrogates for being part of this incredible journey.

It is big news but not enough noise was not made around it probably because Preity Zinta is herself not big news.  I blame the media for being so ruthless. It is not easy being a star. It is not easy dealing with the highs and the lows. In fact, the biggest tragedy about stardom is that you are only as good as your last film and when the music stops, the newsprint will not waste a centimeter on you. There was a time however, when the media couldn’t stop talking about Zinta, her boyfriends, her past, everything except her films.

To be continued

Amitabh: Changing lanes, characters – Day 2112

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He was Azaad in Saat Hindustani and Azaad again in Main Azaad Hoon. In Deewar the dock worker sleeps soundly, in Abhimaan the singer is an insomniac. In Kabhi Kabhie the unrequited lover becomes an embittered man. In Silsila the lover is reckless. In Anand his terminally ill friend draws him out of his shell and in Mili he offers hope to his spirited neighbour now on her death bed. In Sanjog he is diffident in the presence of his powerful wife. In Sooryavansham he is proud of her success. Over the decades as the actor grew in stature, the props associated with him changed identity as well and so the buses and the taxis made way for choppers, some attitudes lingered though, after Sholay, we saw him drink tea from a saucer in the Sarkar series. In Roti Kapada Aur Makaan he was the soldier with a missing arm and in Shahenshah he more than made up with a 14-kilogram metal arm. In Sholay Dharmendra and he were nabbed by Sanjeev Kumar on a moving train and in Bunty Aur Babli he nabs Rani Mukerji and Abhishek Bachchan hiding in a bogey with their new born. In Alladin he fulfilled wishes of his master and in Teen Patti he works miracles with mathematics, the instances are innumerable and the actor only one- Vijay/ Vijay Dinanath Chavhan/ Amitabh Bachchan.

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AB: Longest success story – Day 2111

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Amitabh Bachchan is Indian cinema’s longest success story and some of his characters travel down generations like a motif forming different patterns at different phases of his career as a result the soldier of Saat Hindustani became the Colonel of Lakshya. The obsessed lover of Parwana graduated into a concerned father of a daughter, stalked by another obsessed lover in Aetbaar. The erstwhile hero of Pyaar ki Kahani who spoke up for the dignity of women, dared to damage it beyond repair as the playboy in Jurmana. In Shakti he failed to comprehend his idealistic father and in Baghban his children failed to value him as a parent. He craved for Dilip Kumar’s approval in Shakti and Akshay Kumar longed for his acceptance in Waqt-The Race against Time.

To be continued

Bachchan 53 years 200 films – Day 2110

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There are more references to his earlier films than his later ones and it is because Bachchan’s earlier films were more fantasy-driven and included adventure props like a Crocodile, a Tiger and a Dolphin which, over time, got replaced with more realistic props like a Helicopter, a Typewriter, an Apron and a Turban. 53 years and 200 plus films, Amitabh Bachchan has long since, sublimated the language of cinema that is peculiar to Hindi films. He has worked its verbs, overwhelmed its adjectives, brought to life its nouns, subjugated its predicates and predicated its subjects. This renders it easy for a writer to describe his phenomenon but then, makes it equally difficult too, when one seeks to summarize it. 

To be continued

Vijay is Amitabh Bachchan – Day 2109

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India celebrates December 16 as Vijay Diwas but for cinema audience, Vijay will remain synonymous with Amitabh Bachchan. For 53 years now he remains a national obsession. My third book on the actor, Amitabh Lexicon celebrates his body of work linking it to the Oxford Dictionary, where every word/ verb/ adjective/noun can be associated with an Amitabh film scene and if this sounds confusing let me elaborate with examples: When I say Arrow – we have Manmohan Desai’s film Toofan and when I say Abduct – we have his childhood scene in Shakti. When I say Bottle- we recall many scenes from Sharaabi and when I say-Backfire- you remember his tricks from Satte Pe Satta to woo Hema Malini and she rebuffing him. Or say the word Cab- what you remember his emotional scene with the taxi in Khud-Daar and so Amitabh Lexicon combines alphabets of the English language with scenes from the actor’s movies and celebrates the superstar.

To be continued

Leap of Faith – Day 2108

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As a decade went by Hrithik got used to the complexities of show business and learnt to take each day and film as it came. He said he had understood there is nothing perfect in life and all one has to do is to give the best shot in whatever you do be it home or work.  “When I was assisting my dad on his films, I thought all my problems would end the day I got a break in films. Little did I know that the day dad launched me was the beginning of my struggle. Now I have to constantly watch myself, because every time I fail, I am letting down my fans. I know I cannot succeed every time but I must have the satisfaction of giving my best’.

And that is something all his filmmakers will vouch for. His father Rakesh Roshan, Zoya Akhtar and director Ashutosh Gowariker who said he built special relationships with everyone associated in the film including the elephant in Jodha Akbar. Gowariker said Hrithik addressed the elephant like a beloved and wore the same perfume so that the animal remembered his aroma, as a result when we had to shoot them together, they were well synchronized.

Surviving Superstardom – Day 2108

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Over the years whenever we met it was always a meaningful conversation. I had watched him in his early stardom days and there were days he was drained and said, ‘My dad had warned me about show business but a few years of stardom and I have realized that everything comes with a price. I’m not complaining, just expressing. Everyone expects me to make time for them, some because they’ve known me since childhood…Some, because they are known to my parents…Some producers are aware that I don’t have dates but still insist on my commitment, it is nerve wracking’.

There were stories of large group of children wanting to meet him and parking outside his bungalow.  Some more waiting on the sets – colleagues, friends, relatives of people involved with the film and gate crashers too. He pleaded with journalists not to visit him on his sets because he needed to concentrate on his scenes, but every day, the media waited to catch his attention in between shots, during lunch break and post pack up. The most difficult thing for Hrithik those days was to balance family time with his parents and his new bride, Suzanne.

To be continued