Monthly Archives

March 2021

Rumy Jafry’s Face-off – Day 1978

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The countdown has begun for Amitabh Bachchan and Emraan Hashmi starrer Chehre that features besides Amitabh Bachchan as a lawyer and Emraan Hashmi as an Advertising Agency Chief and powerful performers like Annu Kapoor, Krystle D’Souza, Dhritiman Chatterjee, Raghubir Yadav, Siddhanth Kapoor and Rhea Chakraborty. Jafry is super excited that he got the opportunity to work with Bachchan both as a writer in his early days and later as a director in God Tussi Great Ho in 2008 and now again in Chehre. He reveals that Bachchan is the easiest actor to work with and goes out of his way to make everyone around him comfortable. He is happy that Anand Pandit is bringing back the golden era of musical live-orchestra for the title track of Chehra composed by none other than the dynamic duo Vishal-Shekhar collaborating 107 musicians from across the globe who united in Prague to record the live symphony orchestra!

Legacy of Lies – Day 1977

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Even as many other films are moving out of the race fearing the onslaught of the coronavirus –Bengaluru based Prime Originals Private Limited which also owns an OTT platform NET5 has entered into film distribution by having their first movie – Legacy of Lies starring Scott Adkins across India in Hindi, Tamil and Telugu apart from English, The Indian versions are called Agent MI 6.  The producer is keen to release some of their action, blockbuster movies first in theatres and only later stream it on other platforms. They have set up distribution across India and have movies lined up for theatrical distribution every month. Legacy of Lies is releasing across 500 screens,” says Balwanth Singh, the moving spirit behind this novel idea

Online Offline – Day 1976

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Grief is an overwhelming emotion and the most rational people lose it when going through trauma and Offline, a romantic short thriller explores the blurring lines between reality and virtual delusion as technology encroaches on the human experience of death, marks the debut of writer-director Arnesh Ghose.

 Released on India’s leading YouTube channel for short films, Pocket Films, the film follows a distraught young wife, Manvi, who loses her husband, Arjun, unexpectedly. Memories of Arjun and their married life hound her, until one day, she receives a text from Arjun’s phone, asking her to keep him alive by plugging his phone into charge.

It is often said that we live in our phones, but is it possible to live in them forever? Is there a way that in our afterlife, we’re ‘bots’ are some of the questions raised by the film?

Rani Mukherjee: Lessons to learn – Day 1975

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Shah Rukh Khan commented that he was surprised by your confidence, were you always so reassured? “I believe in being happy and if this is being reassured then the credit goes to my family for rearing my brother and me with so much love and care.  They knew I was made for the camera but never forced it on me, waited for me realize it myself and today, I am part of a world I love”.

Is there anything you dislike about being an actress? Rani thinks for a while, then removing her shades, says, “I dislike waking up at odd hours to catch flights and I dislike extended shootings. There are times, I’m shooting without a break, travelling, living out of suitcases, hopping studios, changing costumes and I forget I’m playing which character in which film. Yet when you watch the end product, it all falls into place because there are so many others taking care of the continuity”.

Rani shares that the preoccupation is so intense that most of the time actors are not even aware of it until somebody, usually a senior, points it out to them. “I was shooting with Kamini Kaushalji the other day and she said that in the olden days, nobody worked beyond 6 pm in fact Helenji had this in her contract and therefore at the stroke of 6 she’d out her wig and pack up, amazing isn’t it?”


Rani Mukherjee: Started young, conquered young – Day 1974

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We traveled by the same car to the hotel and made a direct headway for breakfast. Over brown bread and cornflakes, Rani Mukherji shared her journey, “I was 14 when I did my dad’s Bengali film and declined Salim Akhtar’s Aa Gale Lag Jaa because I was not interested in films but a few years later, Salim uncle offered another film and even though I was still not exactly attracted to the idea, there was emotional pressure from all around to say yes”.

You must have been just a teenager then, I enquired, “Yes, and dad mention it to uncle as well that we should wait for a few more years but Salim uncle reassured the family that by the time the film was ready, the timing would be perfect. Raja Ki Aayegi Baraat failed at the box-office but the subject and I received a lot of praise. I was relieved that the film was over and happy to go back to college”. The offers coming however and slowly, my mind set was changing. I was saying yes to offers and one of them was and Kuch Kuch Hota Hai”.

Karan Johar has gone on record to say that you were in fact his last choice. “Yes, Twinkle Khanna, Tabu, Raveena Tandon had all declined but my father said that the banner and the casting was attractive and we should go for it and we did”. Choreographer Farha Khan says that you took her by surprise on the dance floor. “I was not told that I was to participate in a dance but I have always enjoyed dancing. Not many people know that my mother and aunt Debashri Roy performed classical dances on stage and I traveled with them on all the tours so music and dance is part of my growing up.” 

To be continued

Rani Mukherjee: Still the queen – Day 1973

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Yesterday, was Rani Mukherjee’s birthday, today, an actor and also a wife and a mother.  Rani Mukherjee started young and conquered the hearts of millions while she was still in her 20s. Most of the time, we remember stars only after they make it big while their real character is reflected while they are still struggling. I have watched many actors at that crucial phase and then watched them after they made it big.

In some I saw a 360 degree turn and some, remained the remained the same individuals.  I met Rani Mukherjee briefly at the trial show of Kuch Kuch Hota Hai and later on an early morning flight to Kolkatta. Rani was curled up in her window seat, head resting on her father’s shoulder, fast asleep.

Three hours later, when the flight was landing, Rani could barely open her eyes, she asked for hot towel and dabbed it on her face again and again and when that didn’t help, put on her designer shades and struggled out of her seat.  

To be continued

Bhopal Diary 1 – Day 1971

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The Rabindranath Tagore University and Public Relations Society of India, Chapter Bhopal honoured media personalities from different mediums. It was a sparkling event where everyone on the dais made sparkling speeches and the best of academics were seated in the auditorium. All credit for the special event goes to Shri Pushpinder Pal Singh and his extra-ordinary team.

God of details – Day 1970

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Aamir Khan’s directors are used to his over thinking and at times his idiosyncrasies. On the sets of Indra Kumar’s Ishq he was shooting a garage scene when suddenly Aamir called for a cut! Everyone was surprised but Aamir hd a reason, “Yaar Indu ye pasina workout ka pasina lag raha hai, while my perspiration should resemble a struggling mechanic toh kuch karo please?” There was a brief silence and then the whole unit burst out laughing because nobody had an answer to his query!!!Those who work with Aamir are prepared for strangest questions and film industry is full of such stories.

Shabana Azmi recalls that one day, while serving Aamir tea at her home, she asked how much sugar he would prefer? Aamir asked her to demonstrate the size of the spoon, then the shape of the cup and finally confessed that he was unaccustomed of taking minor decisions at home. Shabana never invited Aamir for tea again. The problem with him is that he is complicated and also extremely simple.

In 2001 traveling with him for the preview of Lagaan I asked if he was satisfied with the film? Aamir drummed on the steering wheel of the car and smiled. I had got my answer and so had everybody by the end of the week. In the coming years, Aamir Khan blossomed as an actor in a variety of roles be it Dil Chahta Hai, Mangal Panday, Rang De Basanti, Fana, Taare Zameen Par, Ghajini, 3 Idiots, Dhoom 3, PK, Dangal. Thugs of Hindustan was a letdown but Lal Singh Chadha is waiting round the corner to redefine the superstar game yet again.

Dil Hai Ki Maanta Nahi and more – Day 1969

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More than a decade passed by, and Aamir Khan delivered some flops/ Anwal Number with Dev Anand, Parampara with Yash Chopra, Andaaz Apna Apna with Raj Kumar Santoshi, some superhits Dil, Hum Hain Rahi Pyaar Ke, Rangeela, Raja Hindustni, Ishq, Ghulam and some unconventional projects like Deepa Mehta’s Earth and John Matthan’s Sarfarosh.

Two films made during this decade stand out in my memory for special attention. Dil Hai Ki Maanta Nahi when we organized a cover shoot between the lead pair Pooja Bhatt and Aamir Khan and the shoot almost did not happen because Aamir ragged Pooja relentlessly and Pooja refused to shoot with her bully hero apologized. They fought like kinder garden kids squabbling over their pencil-rubbers, while my photographer Gautam Rajyadhaksha waited for the madness to subside!

Interestingly the same actor could also be extremely mature. I was visiting his shooting of Baazi on a Navratri night when he had to perform a complex scene, post the shot Aamir explained that responses of an actor to a scene is determined by the instruction given by the director and Ashutosh is a master of perfect instructions. “In the scene just enacted Ashu asked me to be clumsy and altered the position of the phone, so while bending on the other side to receive the call, I automatically turned clumsy”.

To be continued