Mulk banned in Paksitan

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The Federal Censor Board of Pakistan has banned Anubhav Sinha’s courtroom drama Mulk, which is not surprising because in recent past they have put a ban on Veere Di Wedding, Padman, Raazi and even Anushka Sharma’s Pari on the grounds that the film’s content promoted black magic. They had problems with Raanjhanaa aswell.


A deeply distraught Anubhav Sinha has written an open letter to the Pakistan Censor Board, excerpts:



Teach/ Cheat India

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Social films are the  flavor of the season and the makers of  Hindi MediumNeerja and Tumhari Sulu, have collaborated again, this time to produce Cheat India, a never-seen-before peek into the vagaries of the Indian education system.

Clearly aimed at Indian students, this edge-of-the-seat Emraan Hashmi-starrer rolled in Lucknow last week and the USP of the film is that it features more than 70 actors from UP, including real students from various colleges and universities have been cast. The title of the film has been inspired from a video presenting Emraan playing with the alphabets comprising the word ‘Teach’ which ironically, are the same as those of ‘Cheat’. Hashmi’s naughty wink at the end of the video leaves you wondering if he is the hero or the villain of the film.

Movie Review: Mulk

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Film: Mulk

Date: 03. 08.2018

Writer/ Director: Anubhav Sinha

Cast: Rishi Kapoor, Taapsee Pannu, Manoj Pahwa

Ratings: 3.5 Stars

Every day, Murad Ali Mohammed/ Rishi Kapoor walks back from the mosque, a cloth bag in hand, stopping for chai and conversation with his Hindu neighbors before coming home.

The family celebrates his 65th birthday with the entire neighborhood and next day, Shahid/ Prateik Babbar, Murad’s nephew leaves on a trip with his friends. His father Bilal/ Manoj Pahwa rides him to his rendezvous surprised that they are meeting on a desolate street.

There is news of a bomb blast massacre and Shahid is the prime suspect. His actions have an adverse effect on the family as friends turn foes and Murad is left to prove that his family is not anti-national.

The first half is slow paced as there are too many characters to be introduced but the second half focused on the courtroom drama is hard-hitting and often stomach churning.

In my opinion, there are 4 reasons for watching Mulk:

One, the plot: shot in the by-lanes of small-town India the opening shots of the film reveal the diverse cultures of Varanasi where ‘Ram naam satya hai’ co-exists with the call of azaan. The Indian Muslim has never felt so isolated and Anubhav Sinha dares to travel the dark road of distrust and hatred where terrorism is the new enemy.

Two, the debate: terrorism has no religion and the story lays bare the prejudices that precede perception of communal disharmony, for example, every Muslim who prays five times a day and wears a beard is not a terrorist and it is time to rethink and reconsider our age-old beliefs and change with times.

Three, the narrative: the writing is the soul of the film and far from subtle. It is hard to believe that the film is made by the director of Tum Bin and Ra.One. There are some stomach-churning moments in the film for instance when Prateik Babbar’s body is brought home and the camera rotates in fast motion building as much terror in the audience as among the family members. Another moment is when Manoj Pahwa tormented in custody is made to repeat ‘I am the father of a terrorist’.

Four, the performances: every character contributes to the narrative, you can read the thought process of anti-terror police officer Rajat Kapoor as he eavesdrops conversation between the accused and his lawyer. Ashutosh Rana as the prosecutor and Taapsee Pannu as the defense are sparkling and when Taapsee concludes her argument questioning society prejudices you cannot stop applauding.

Rishi Kapoor essays Murad Mohammed without self-pity. The actor has over the decades emerged into refined clay that can be molded into any role. Special mention must be made of Manoj Pahwa who breaks your heart and presiding judge Kumud Mishra, who is a scene stealer.

Five, the message: it is hard to believe that finally a film has been made on the subject that humanizes a community without taking sides. It peels layers of deception, questions media, police, and politician and for the first time initiates a moderate, rational dialogue addressing both the communities.

Mulk is a right film at the right time. In a scene where the police grant security to Murad Mohammed he says “Why do I need to be protected in my own home”. His anguish pierces your heart; Balraj Sahani had expressed similar angst many years ago in Garam Hawa. Not much has changed since 44 years, well writer-director Anubhav Sinha is trying and the least we can do is to watch this film.

I rate strong, thought provoking Mulk with 3.5 stars.

Click here to watch the review

Bhawana Somaaya/ @bhawanasomaaya

Inspiration Narendra Modi

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The makers of the short film Chalo Jeete Hain presented the film to Honourable President of India at the Rashtrapati Bhavan. Inspired from the early life of  Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi it tells about a young Naru who is intrigued by Swami Vivekananda’s words, “ Wahi jeete hain jo doosron ke liye jeete hain” and strives to adopt this philosophy very early in his life. Attended by ministers, educationalist and eminent members of society the film is produced by Mahaveer Jain and Bhushan Kumar and directed by Mangesh Hadawale and presented by Aanand L Rai and Mahaveer Jain.

The film’s trailer has already received over 3 million views on YouTube within three days. The curiosity and buzz around the film and its leading into the #actofkindness campaign is so strong that the film has been recommended for screening in the Parliament and also for school children.


Tailoring Effects

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In the olden days when Om Puri played   weaver in Shyam Benegal’s Susman he spent days with a weaver family in Pochampali and mastered the art. Now Rajkummar Rao known to be a method actor and who plays a tailor in his upcoming film Stree is going out of his way to learn the sewing machine. He underwent a month long training where he was taught cutting and both stitching and sewing.

Says Rampal every job appears easy but is effective only with mastery be it acting or driving.  The coordination and reflexes have to be easy or they appear artificial. I could have used a body double but I didn’t want to so I bought myself a sewing machine and hired a tailor in Mumbai to teach me how to sew and made sure he was present on the sets in Chanderi. That’s not all Rajkumar hired another tutor to supervise his Chanderi dialect and spent time with the locals to polish his accent before going on the sets for his horror comedy directed by Amar Kaushik.


Devgns Dare

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The stars are getting more and more media savvy and the latest to start a trend is Kajol and Ajay Devgn who have chosen to announce the new release date 7th September 2018 of their upcoming film Helicopter Eela on social media. It is a super idea and miles ahead of the conventional press notes and press conferences.

Kajol and Ajay were planning to do something together for a long time and finally they have found a project both are looking forward to. Starring National Award winning actor, Riddhi Sen who will be playing Kajol’s son, the film has Neha Dhupia and Tota Roy Chowdhary. Directed by Pradeep Sarkar and written by Mitesh Shah, the film will see Kajol playing a single mother and an aspiring singer.

Last seen together in Pyaar Toh Hona Hi Tha this time the husband will be behind the scenes as the presenter of the film in association with Jayantilal Gada of Pen.


Vikram Bhatt launches Astrobuddy

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Our dream merchants find many different things to endorse and Vikram Bhatt has found the most unusual ones to lend his name. He has become the brand ambassador for an astrology app – Astrobuddy, which is founded by Bhupesh Sharma.

The idea is to make astrology into a household name and is a content/ service provider for Astrology powering digital and voice astrology products globally. With over 30 million customers they understand diverse audience sets and content consumption preferences. The app is world’s first Astrology application that facilitates live text chat for the users to seek advice

The objective of setting up AstroBuddy is to dispel the way astrology has been misinterpreted and showcased over and over again. Sharma says they defy myths and work on people’s strengths with the objective of productivity.

 Sounds good and in any case, astrology and cinema have had a very long association.

Movie Review: Saheb Biwi aur Gangster 3

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Welcome to the intrigue of palace politics


Film: Saheb Biwi aur Gangster 3

Date: 27 July 2018

Director: Tigmanshu Dhulia

Writers: Sanjay Chauhan, Tigmanshu Dhulia

Cast Sanjay Dutt,Jimmy Shergill, Mahi Gill, Chitrangada Singh


In a dark corner of a grand hotel in London, the Maharaja of India dressed in a hood plays a dangerous game for living. He sniffs vodka and shoots bullets. He is a master at the game and has made millions playing it but he is an unhappy man because he cannot return home and then accidentally, opportunity comes in disguise.

A brawl at the hotel followed by a police case and the Maharaja is deported to India and Uday Singh/ Sanjay Dutt is back to his palace and beloved.

Franchises globally are usually conceived with superstars which is why they spell big business. Tigmanshu Dhulia is perhaps the only writer-director who has dared to take super actors instead of superstars and weave stories of ambition, lust, and deception and create a trend of sorts.

If Randeep Hooda was the outsider in Saheb Biwi aur Gangster released in 2011 and Irrfan Khan in Sahbe Biwi aur Gangster Returns Sanjay Dutt is a pawn in the ongoing domestic drama between the King Aditya Pratap Singh/ Jimmy Shergill and his queen Madhavi Devi/ Mahie Gill.

This time, the film is about two kings/ Sanjay Dutt and Jimmy Shergill, two queens/ Mahie Gill, Soha Ali Khan, and two loyalists/ Kanhaiya and his daughter played by Paoli Dam. This time the premise shifts from Uttar Pradesh to Rajasthan and briefly to Europe so the scale gets bigger adding a glamour quotient that was not visible in the franchise’s earlier installments.

There is an item number, a romantic song between Sanjay and Chitrangda which frankly interrupts the storytelling and is the only sore point of the film. The positives are the hard-hitting dialogues, essentially the narrative as the characters get more layered and the situations more complex.

The director wastes no time in setting the plot and embroils you in the dark, dangerous, morbid tales of palace politics.

As Suhani Chitrangda Singh adds fragrance to an otherwise ruthless story, Sanjay Dutt is disappointingly repetitive. Jimmy Shergill looks royalty and plays the king with amazing poise and restraint while Mahie Gill for the third time has you riveted to the cruelties and the vulnerabilities of queen Madhavi. Saheb and Biwi are clearly the reasons for us to watch the film.

Director Tigmanshu Dhulia’s Saheb Biwi aur Gangster 3 is unpredictable, unconventional; watch it if you are a fan of the franchise or if you relish the dark side of human stories.

I rate Saheb Biwi aur Gangster 3 with 3 stars.


Bhawana Sommaya/ @bhawansomaaya






Cham cham barsa paani

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As we come to the end of the Rain Special many songs and scenes play in my mind like ‘Cham Cham barsa paani…’I recall Srividya playing modern day Kunti telling Rajnikant to withdraw  his support to the enemy to protect her other son in Mani Ratnam’s Dalpati.


I remember a forlorn Rakhee singing to no one in particualrSawan ke jhoole pade…’ in Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s Jurmana. I remember Kajol discovering her lost husband Shah Rukh Khan suddenly on television in My Name is Khan and sensing anxiety…I remember the sexiest of all rain songs in ‘Aaj rapat jaayen toh …’ in Namak Halaal and of course the climax when the entire village gathers to dance in the rain in Lagaan.

How can we ever forget the spirited Aishwarya Rai dancing to ‘barso re megha…’ in Guru,  Kareena Kapoor drenched in the shower seducing a shy Rahul Bose in Chameli and before that  a cheerful Madhoo jumping in the paddy fields singing ‘Dil hai chotasa…’ in Roja..?  How can we forget the melodious Barkha raani zara jham ke barso and the turning point in Karan Johar’s Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham when Shah Rukh Khan takes an impulsive decision to marry Kajol and bring home his bride and sister on a stormy night to his father.

And last but not the least the song that in a way started the monsoon magic in Hindi films ‘Zindagi na bhulenge hum barsaat ki raat…’ from Barsaat Ki Raat.


You can also watch my rain feature on youtube link/