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Movie Review: The Girl on the Train (2021)

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Back in childhood, I lived in the small city of Guwahati. Away from the madness of maximum city Mumbai, Guwahati has its small-town charms. It is vibrant in its own way while being quite laid back. One of the essential parts of Guwahati is the cycle rickshaw – a mode of transportation most people would swear by.

The new age youngsters might find it disturbing to ride in a vehicle that is manually pulled by another human and not machine, but rickshaws have their own charm. You could enjoy the light breeze on your face, as the rickshaw cruised slowly. More importantly, you could probably do quick hellos with friends and acquaintances as they sat for their evening ‘addas’. The rickshaws allowed you that. Mumbai does not have an equivalent. The fast city has suitably fast trains, which aid you in your rush to reach somewhere. Not entirely enjoyable, but efficient. A slow cycle rickshaw will never be right for this city.

I wish I could say The Girl On The Train was like the rickshaw ride in Guwahati. It is not. Neither is it efficient like the train journey in Mumbai. Instead, it is like a rickshaw ride in Mumbai. Rest assured, it is not heading anywhere.

The Girl on The Train is about a wreck of a woman, Mira, who sinks herself in alcohol to get over the tragic loss of her unborn child. She has also lost her family and job. Interestingly, she finds solace in another person – someone sees every day from the window seat of her train in which she travels to we-dunno-where. The best part of her day is when the ever-drunk Mira sees this woman, amidst various moments of her own happy life. The happiness of this woman appears in sharp contrast to Mira’s life – a cozy house, a loving husband. Things go bad when this woman goes missing, and Mira, who happens to be a lawyer by profession, finds herself as a prime suspect in the case.

Another detail: Mira has retrograde amnesia. Her short-term memory does not translate to long-term memory.

Essentially, this is a great setting for a suspense thriller. I have not read the source material – the best-selling novel – but there must be a reason why it is popular. But the movie fails to evoke much response except boredom.

FullyFilmy Review: The Girl On The Train

A good reason for this might be the way Mira’s character evolves. You never quite feel empathy for her. And this is not due to Parineeti Chopra’s performance. The actress gives it all she has, but she is not given a character that does much else than drink. The one single feeble attempt at justifying her attitude is established when she says she had been looking forward to becoming a mother since she was a child. And neither is her processing bits of information and piecing together frames in her memory made quite believable – something on which the climax depends on.

It is not Mira alone that not provided fir enough ground. None of the characters are. Add to that nonsensical scenes such as a random interrogation scene between Mira and the investigating officer in a public place.

But more importantly, I still cannot figure why is the story set in London. Is it because trains there are supposed to be slow like cycle-rickshaws in Guwahati? Slow enough for you to see someone from a distance, recognise him or her, identity what they are doing, and get attached to their daily activities. Unlikely. London does offer a clean railway track though, unlike Mumbai. Maybe hence, eh!

To give due credit, the actors try hard to add to their sorry characters. And cinematographer does his bit to add sheen to the frames. We only wish the director did what he is capable of, as is evident from his earlier ventures.

For the interested, The Girl On The Train is available on Netflix.

My Guru, My Father: Amjad Ali Khan

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Ustad Haafiz Ali Khan was born in a house responsible for giving the Sarod its present shape and structure. The traditional style of music which today has become somewhat rare is called Dhrupad, where the use of embellishments does not exist. The usage was more of long glides both for vocalists and instrumentalists. He added to it the melodic possibilities of instrumental music in its complete dhrupad form. A rabab-oriented Sarod style, more staccato, more right hand than left, more mechanical than melodic was converted by Ustad Haafiz Ali Khan to a brilliant amalgam of feeling and cleanliness, heard only in the Rudra-Been and the Sursingaar of the descendants of Mian Tansen. Ustad Haafiz Ali Khan could make his sarod sing. This he did by a very advanced technique of the left-hand fingernails and a thorough understanding of the Raga pattern filtered through feeling and Aesthetic awareness. He could flower with tonal accuracy even when the string pitch went down by a quarter note or more. He was himself a great dhrupad singer and discovered a brilliantly coordinated and synchronized stroke sustainability in his sarod. With this, he could translate his vocal dhrupad lines in the otherwise metallic instrument of his ancestors, to a stream of aesthetic melody patterns.

Haafiz Ali Khan lived for Music. For my father, though, there was no question of a life outside music. Life itself was Music and Music was Life. And so I came to inherit from him the legacy of five generations of musicians as naturally as a bird taking to the air. His exquisite music was not just an artistic performance but a form of prayer. He was initiated in the tradition of the Senia Gharana by direct descendants of the line of Swami Haridas, Mian Tansen, and leaned at the feet of Ustad Wazir Khan of Rampur. Ustad Wazir Khan broke the convention of teaching only family members and accepted him as his disciple. Now a direct disciple of the Tansen School, Haafiz Ali Khan Saheb started flowering under the Ustad’s undiluted teaching. More knowledge enriched the already exposed brilliance of Haafiz Ali Khan Saheb and his strict adherence to vocal dhrupad made the veterans of his time looking at him with admiration. His performance together with his tonal richness and accuracy from instrumental music a status equivalent to vocal music; The melody-rich Sarod got an unthinkable status.

Ustad Haafiz Ali Khan receiving the Sangeet Natak Academy Fellowship from Dr. Rajendra Prasad. Maulana Abdul Kalam looks on. (1952) FriedEye
Ustad Haafiz Ali Khan receiving the Sangeet Natak Academy Fellowship from Dr. Rajendra Prasad. Maulana Abdul Kalam looks on. (1952)

Ustad Haafiz Ali Khan was honoured with the title of Aftab-e-Sarod by the All Bengal Music Conference in Calcutta, the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award, and also received a fellowship of the Akademi. The Universities of Vishva Bharti and Khairagharh conferred doctorates on him. The Government of India conferred the award of Padma Bhushan in 1960. The true Godfather of Instrumental music of his times! Far ahead of his time, Ustad Haafiz Ali Khan realized the coming of the industrial age, its rapidity and its lack of leisure and want of time. He believed that rag music in its purity can only be preserved by precision. Stretching the raga too long will lead to irrelevant phrases, raga dilution, and deviation. Rabindra Nath Tagore also believed in this. Ustad Haafiz Ali Khan was the last musician who stuck to his dhrupad roots. He created the correct raga environment by playing dhrupad lines verbatim and then elaborated and expanded them. He will also be remembered as the last of the Senia dhrupad greats. Apart from his formidable command over traditional sarod compositions, dhrupad, and thumri, he was particularly appreciated in the Viceregal firmament of colonial India for his unique, stylized renditions of “God Save The King” on his sarod.

The Sarod Ghar-Museum of Musical Heritage in Gwalior, is a unique institution devoted to promoting Indian classical music, heritage and culture. Under the aegis of Haafiz Ali Khan Memorial Trust, through this ‘window’ to the past, music lovers can gain a better understanding of the evolution and history of Indian Classical Music and can get a deeper perspective and insight into the context of the art as it exists today. The aim of setting up this institution is to create awareness and respect for classical music, musicians and the variety of instruments of India. The road on which the museum stands has been named Haafiz Ali Khan Marg by the Govt. of Madhya Pradesh. The first instruments exhibited were the instruments belonging to his forefathers. Madhya Pradesh has had a whole history of great musical legends down memory lane . The great vocalist Ustad Amir Khan Saheb, Ustad Jahangir Khan Saheb, Ustad Abdul Haleem Jaffar Khan Saheb, Bharat Ratna Lata Mageshkar-ji are among the prominent aristes who belonged to the city of Indore. The city of Dewas gave birth to another two prominent personalities. Ustad Rajab Ali Khan and Pandit Kumar Gandharva. The legendary Hindi film playback Singer Kishore Kumar-ji and his brother the famous Ashok Kumar-ji also belonged to Khandawa .

A road in the name Ustad Haafiz Ali Khan Saheb was inaugurated by the Honourable Chief Minister, Smt. Sheila Dikshit few years ago at PWD Road. This is the 2nd entry road to Nizamuddin Railway Station. This is the only road named after an artist after Tansen and Thyagaraja in the capital city in 2011. The Kolkata Municipal Corporation also renamed New Park Street as Ustad Hafiz Ali Khan Sarani by chief minister Mamata Banerjee in 2013.

 

Having spanned over 90 years, my fathers was a life that connected the high points of the colonial era to the turbulence of our own times. Born sometimes in the 1880s at Gwalior where his father Nanneh Khan was court musician, Haafiz Ali Khan Saheb took great pride in the fact that it was his great grandfather, Ghulam Bandegi Khan Bangash, who turned his native Afghan rabab into what we know today as the sarod. Yet his thirst for knowledge took him to Pandits Chukha and Ganeshi Lai of Vrindaban, who were stern practitioners of the Dhrupad and then he went on to Rampur, where he became a disciple of the great Ustad Wazir Khan, the descendant of Tansen. My father left his impression not only in that provincial court but, more importantly, also in Calcutta, then the Imperial Capital. It was here that he received the love and adulation that was to endow him with the legendary status. Raichand Boral, who later rose to fame as the music Director of the New Theatres and the discoverer of K.L. Saigal, was more intimate and colorful in his reminiscences always told me that the first time my father came to his house in 1918, the Great war had just ended and a complacence was beginning to set in the music world of Bengal. ‘With his coming, we were suddenly confronted with a genius who almost rudely banished smugness, lethargy and tidy housekeeping.’ He discovered the link between dhrupad and thumri long before it was commented upon by others. To be able to see Haafiz Ali Khan in proper perspective in the words of Dr Narayana Menon was that Haafiz Ali Khan was the poet. Abba Saheb, as I called him, was a born extrovert, held his head high, brooked no nonsense from any quarter and walked the earth like a renaissance prince.

On the occasion of Ustad Haafiz Ali Khan Saheb’s 48th death anniversary, I pray to my father and guru, like every day. May his soul rest in peace! As I have written in my memoir about Ustad Haafiz Ali Khan (1877- December 28, 1972) that for me, the seven notes of music were him. He was the epitome of music. He was my inspiration, my reason of perspiration and he was my idea of representation.

When an Indian Maharaja saved a drought hit British village

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On an evening in the mid-nineteenth century, Maharaja Ishree Persad Narayan Singh of Benares had a guest at his palace. Edward Reade, the acting Governor-General of the United Provinces, who was also a friend of the Maharaja, narrated a story over dinner. The story of a little boy in a village named Stoke Row in Southeast England beaten up by his mother for drinking up the last remaining water during a drought moved the Maharaja and he felt very sad. Reade had told the Maharaja that this was very common in some draught hit parts of England. It reminded the Maharaja of the hardships faced by some of his people some time back. At that time Reade had helped him dig a well there. The Maharaja decided to help the people of Stoke Row by digging a well there.

With the Maharaja’s funding, a well, 368ft deep and 4 ft in diameter, was dug in Stoke Row and it was completed in 1863. The well was topped with a 23 ft dome elaborately designed in flamboyant Indian style. It also had  winding machinery and a golden elephant adorning it. The Maharaja had also built a cottage for its caretaker nearby. The Maharaja had also funded a four-acre cherry orchard in the area.

 

North and south of Sonning Common. Photo Courtesy: Peter Collins on Flickr. 

 

 

The well was officially inaugurated in 1864. The Maharaja never visited the place but he had a bond with the village. Apart from bearing all the expenses for the well, he had also gifted many more things like footpaths and occasional free meals and feats for the residents of the village.

The well served its purpose for 70 years and it got lost into oblivion with new water supply technologies coming up. After Reade’s death, the connection between Benares and Stoke Row was disrupted until Maharaja Bihuti Narayan Singh, the great-grandson of Ishree Persad Singh established contact with the great-grandson of Reade. In 1961 Bibhuti Narayan gifted an Ivory replica of the well to the Queen of England during her India visit and proposed to celebrate the forthcoming centenary as a mark of Indo-British relationship. On 8th April 1964, the centenary of the Maharaja’s Well was celebrated in presence of 1500 people including Prince Philip.

The well that was an enigma in its heydays as it was a gift from the Maharaja of a fabled land that was mysterious for the people of the West still stands as a piece of history. Interestingly the Maharaja’s gift to the Raj had prompted other Maharajas to donate wells in other draught hit English villages as well. One such well was constructed at Ipsden by Raja Deonarayan Singh. However other wells did not get as much attention as that in Stoke Row.

10 things you must know about Assam startup – The Nest

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Among several issues plaguing Assam, unemployment stands as one major constraint. The fact that the state has a dismal number of literate and semi-literate unemployed youths strikes a sorry picture. Keeping this in mind, the Government of Assam decided to give shape to an initiative that will support and encourage the youths of Assam to convert from being job seekers to job creators.

The Department of Industries and Commerce, Government of Assam, took it upon itself to formulate the Assam Startup Policy in 2017. The core objective of the Policy is to promote a culture of entrepreneurship in the state that would help develop self-sustenance in Assam and largely address the problem of unemployment in the state. The IIM Calcutta Innovation Park has been roped in as the implementing partner to execute the initiative by the Government of Assam.

Given that the average state population has traditionally been service-inclined, merely motivating the youth towards entrepreneurship isn’t enough. They need a certain amount of grooming and hand-holding until they are confident and skilled enough to drive their business independently. Hence, the need for a world-class startup incubator that can provide complete entrepreneurial grooming and practical coaching to the startups.

Keeping this mind, a state-of-art marquee incubator was inaugurated, as part of the Assam Startup Policy 2017, on 20 January 2019 by the honourable Chief Minister, Shri Sarbananda Sonowal. Assam Startup – The Nest is Assam’s first state-owned startup incubator located at Ambari, Guwahati and is dedicatedly working to help the startups grow into master entrepreneurs.

Months into the initiative, there has been a lot of curiosity among people about Assam Startup – The Nest. A feeling of wonder engrosses the mind about what goes on inside the swaggering building! Here’s an attempt to clear the clouds and pull out answers to everything one wants to know about the Assam Startup initiative.

 

  1. What does Assam Startup – The Nest do?

As a startup incubator, Assam Startup – The Nest helps the startup entities to tailor their entrepreneurial mindset in order to align it with the market. Selected startups are incubated at The Nest for a period of 6 months, wherein they go through intense mentoring, capacity building training and get access to co-working space, support services, and crucial network connects to help them get cracking and take the next big leap.

 

 

  1. How can Assam Startup – The Nest help fulfill the entrepreneurial aspirations of a startup?

Entrepreneurship is a tough call involving several highs and lows. Being an entrepreneur requires a strong frame of mind, problem-solving mindset, and a never-say-die attitude. Through its rigorous capacity building programs and mentoring sessions, Assam Startup – The Nest tries to train the startups to align their thoughts with the tough demands of entrepreneurship so that they are skill-equipped to turn a startup idea into a scalable business venture.

The startups are also introduced to formidable figures from the industry that include national and international entrepreneurs, investors and startup mentors. They get the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to interact with those industry gurus, indulge in knowledge sessions with them and turn those sessions into fruitful networking opportunities.

What more, in the final phase of the incubation, The Nest organizes a Demo Day, wherein top investors are invited to consider investing in the ventures pitched by the incubated startups.

 

  1. What kind of mentoring is provided at The Nest?

The incubated startups are assigned mentors based on their sector, startup stage and specific needs. The pool of mentors at The Nest consists of industry experts from across the country with elaborate experience in entrepreneurship. Most of these mentors are already mentoring startups incubated at IIM Calcutta Innovation Park (Kolkata).

The assigned mentors do a review of the startups and offer them insightful suggestions as well as give them monthly targets or action plans to work on so that by the end of the 6-month incubation, the startups could have a thorough business model in hand.

 

  1. Does Assam Startup provide technological support to the incubatees?

Assam Startup – The Nest is essentially a business incubation hub and does not provide direct technological support. But it helps the startups to connect with institutions offering suitable tech training and support.

 

  1. Is there a fee for incubation?

No fee is charged for incubation.

Startup Assam

  1. Does Assam Startup provide fund?

Assam Startup – The Nest connects the incubated startups with investors. Apart from this, the startups can apply for Startup Recognition on the website www.startup.assam.gov.in to become eligible for a number of fiscal and non-fiscal benefits provided by the Government of Assam. Startups deemed eligible for Startup Recognition following a rigorous process of evaluation are granted a unique My Assam Startup ID (MASI), which the startups must use to apply for the various benefits enumerated on the website.

One may go to the website and click on “Resources” to read the Assam Startup Policy 2017 and learn about the benefits under MASI in details.

Please note that startups who aren’t incubated at The Nest are also eligible to apply for MASI.

 

  1. Apart from the MASI benefits, what does Assam Startup – The Nest do for startups who aren’t incubated at The Nest?

The Nest conducts a special Startup Adda every month, especially for the non-incubated startups, wherein they get the opportunity to interact with industry experts and ask them for suggestions regarding the various challenges of entrepreneurship with special focus on their own ventures. Besides, The Nest also conducts topic-based workshops for the non-incubated startups to acquaint them with the motley nuances of business and management.

 

  1. Does Assam Startup give startup ideas?

Assam Startup – The Nest does not offer startup ideas. It offers the right direction to execute startup ideas.

However, the startup incubator organizes Hackathons and Ideathons, inviting youths to come together and brainstorm over a popular local problem in order to come up with interesting startup ideas and solutions.

 

  1. Are all activities of Assam Startup confined to The Nest alone?

It’s understood that none of the facilities under the Assam Startup Policy would bear fruits unless and until there’s far-reaching dissemination of knowledge about startups, the challenges and scope of startups in the state, and comprehensive familiarity with the provisions enumerated under the Assam Startup Policy 2017. As such, it’s been made sure that The Nest holds awareness sessions and workshops at different academic and training institutions across the state from time to time. In fact, within 2 months of its launch, The Nest had connected with around 2500 students and aspirant entrepreneurs across the state.

 

  1. Is there any sector specification or preference in order to be considered eligible for incubation?

Startups from any sector, except for liquor and tobacco, can apply for incubation at Assam Startup – The Nest. The startups are evaluated on the basis of Innovativeness, Market Potential, Revenue Model, Traction and Team Capabilities.

 

  1. How to apply for incubation?

Incubation at The Nest is run on a Cohort mode. The contest for the second Cohort is currently let open. In order to apply, one must go to the website www.startup.assam.gov.in  and “Apply for Cohort 2.0”. The applicants need to fill-up the form and submit. The applications are rigorously evaluated by industry experts from across the country after which the top list of startups are invited to pitch their venture in front of jury members at The Nest. The final list of startups from the pitching process is selected to be a part of the Cohort.

The love-affair of Bollywood and North America

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In the course of the last few years, we’ve seen how the ‘Bollywood Masala’ has soared its popularity across the globe. It shouldn’t be a surprise though — considering a whopping 22 million Non-Resident Indians around the world! Bollywood is no longer constrained to the beaches of Indian Ocean — it has come into whacking limelight over these years and the song ‘London Thumakda’ has now a literal meaning in it.  Today, the fandom of Indian Movies transcends all the borders and Bollywood movies make a mammoth revenue with the love of their fans abroad and they’re too good to ignore for the creators in the industry. Stars fancy meeting their global fans by hosting tours and award functions, and the warmth the fans reciprocate is priceless. If you’re from North America and scepticism clouds your judgement about getting into the Bollywood movies, but they’re not as uncertain to try as the game of roulette—they’re easy to grasp and are loaded with fun songs that you can surely enjoy. In a nutshell, Bollywood movies are fun and if you’re in North America, you’d get the best out of Bollywood there—here are some of the best movies Bollywood movies from the last year that you could start with.

Let’s take a glance at the dynamics of Bollywood and its influence on fans all over the world.

The revolutionary 21st century for Bollywood:

The inception of this century encountered some of the blockbusters by the mighty Bollywood giants who established their names during the beginning of the 21st century itself – Yes, we’re talking about Karan Johar and Aditya Chopra. If the iconic guitar tune just echoed in your head, you know where this is going. With likes of Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayengay, Kal Ho Na Ho and Kuch Kuch Hota hai creating massive traction all across the globe, filmmakers started giving more attention their global crowd by adding elements of Indo-American culture in their movies. The popular TV host and film trade analyst Komal Nahta also gave her opinion on this shift in Bollywood saying, “These directors gave NRI viewers the perfect mix of traditional Indian values with a modern Westernised treatment.”

Over these years non-resident Indians weren’t the only ones who hopped on the global fan brigade of Bollywood, the diverse culture and the dramatic magnetism of Bollywood lured a lot of a lot of Hollywood celebs too. Be it Kristen Stewart’s desire to work with the ‘Greek God of Bollywood’, Hrithik Roshan, or the queen of reality Tv in Hollywood, Kim Kardashian who admitted her ardent fascination in appearing in popular Indian telly reality show, Big Boss.

If Bollywood has influenced any part of the world the most, it would most certainly be the Western one — especially the fans of North America.

Bollywood’s overwhelming love story with North America:

Did you know that out of the 13 million population of, Ontario has 600,000 Indian diasporas? You can only imagine the levels to which the Indian culture penetrates there. Even the business giants in North America have started to pay serious attention to the possible synergies of having the hold of Bollywood aficionados.

Indian-Language movies have found a strong grip on the North American cineplexes.

Some of the Bollywood blockbusters have hit the skyrocketing stats in North America only, in the past decade —like Rajkumar Hirani’s 3 Idiots that grossed $6.5 million in 2009. Though it was a long time back and nowadays movies are even exceeding the $10 million grosses. The latest release of the movie Bahubali (Bahubali 2: The Conclusion), broke all the records in North America in 2017 by grossing more than $13 million in North America. Its total box-office collection turned out to be around $20m in the United States — the movie gained popularity like wildfire in North America and left a long-lasting impact of Bollywood on the people. Although the population of Indians in North American only comprises of 1-3% of the Global Indian diaspora, a Bollywood hit in North America can still earn more than 10% of its worldwide gross — that explains how a lot of Bollywood award functions and movie tours took place in North America in recent years. One of the most iconic ones among them was last year’s IIFA Awards which is also known as the ‘The Oscars of Bollywood’. The star-studded night took place in MetLife Stadium in New York. The event had the likes of some of the biggest stars in Bollywood like Salman Khan, Varun Dhawan and Alia Bhatt, who were dancing to the popular Bollywood numbers and were revered by their fans.

Farhan Akhtar wins Best Actor award for Bhaag Milkha Bhaag at 15th IIFA Awards, Tampa, USA

 

Sooner or later, Bollywood movies can rival Hollywood movies in a staggering duel for movie screens in North America. Currently, an average week in the US encounters 900 movie screens decorated with Bollywood movies, across 35 states of it. However, one thing is quite certain, fans of Bollywood in North America are only going to get more of their beloved stars in the coming time.

The Star That Stree Delivered – Rajkummar Rao

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Rajkummar Rao’s growing popularity can barely be questioned. He is, and for good reason, considered one of India’s best actors, and arguably the finest in the younger generation. And even though he has a loyal audience, one that is growing fast, his ability to draw audiences to the theatres has been questioned. The worry was not unfound, with Queen being his only clean hit till last. 2017 was an important year with Newton – his first success as a solo protagonist.

Which is why Stree is a gamechanger. The horror-comedy breezed past the 50-crore mark in merely six days, after an impressive Rs 31-crore first-weekend collection. By the end of the first week, Stree has become one of the most profitable films of 2018 in terms of investment versus earnings. And if that’s not good enough, the pace at which it is advancing shows good indication that this might just mark Raj’s entry into the 100-crore bracket – a prestige club of Bollywood stars. The keyword here being ‘star’. It’s almost symbolic – a star is born of Stree!

Rajkummar Rao

This also comes at an interesting time. Raj might have found a solid competitor in Vicky Kaushal, who has been basking in some warm light the whole of this year. Vicky has been a part rather prominent parts in Sanju, Raazi and Lust Stories. And he is all seem to create a large impact with Anurag Kashyap’s Manmarziyaan. At least the trailers seem to be saying so.

This is just the time when Raj needed to assert that he is not just an actor who can pull of any character, but also take up responsibilities of a film on his shoulder. And he is not letting the opportunity pass. Right from the promotions of Stree, Raj was clear that this is an important film for him. This is possibly the first time he has a film that could work with a larger audience than what he has been able to establish. And he has not let the success go unnoticed. At least that’s what the party he hosted for the media screamed out.

On Wednesday evening, Raj celebrated the success with many media personnel media – people who have stood by him and advocated his abilities as an actor. It was a happy occasion. Raj played the perfect host as he spent some informal moments with each person present at the party. The party also was attended by the producers of his film, Dinesh Vijan, and Raj Nidimoru, apart from Shraddha Kapoor. The food and the wine flowed making it all a memorable affair.

And while the party spoke about his delight, the statement was made through the choice of location. Olive, a luxury dining place frequented by the likes of Ranbir Kapoor, Shahid Kapoor and some of the best-known stars of Bollywood. A place situated in the heart of glamorous Bandra.  If conjectures could be made, this could very well signify Rajkummar Rao’s rise, him stepping up from Lokhandwala to Bandra.

What does this mean for the industry? A whole lot of things. We have a brand-new addition to the A-list. Someone who has taken the longer route to success. A rare case of actor-turned-star. A welcome addition.

On the same day, Raj announced on his social media that he has been signed as a brand ambassador for an eyewear brand – a part of a well-known Italian brand. This further establishes his connect with the audience.

Celebrations aside though, this will also open up speculations on each of his movies going forward, and how they do at the box office. Now on Rajkummar will be expected to deliver at the box office, even as he maintains the quality of his work. And it is going to be interesting how Raj managed to keep his fans happy, stay a star and yet fall into its trappings.

Movie Review: Anil Sharma’s Genius

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Over the last few years, Bollywood has taken massive strides towards telling tales that more real and grounded, increasingly detaching itself from the dramatic storytelling that was once the essence of Hindi cinema. Of course, it cannot be denied that this has been a welcome change. And yet, what also cannot be denied is that there is a sizable audience still yearns for the movie that packages everything, like a buffet, from action to romance to comedy. And Anil Sharma’s Genius gives this audience just that.

Let’s be clear. This is probably not a movie that is going to please the intellectual and the ones who seek a more contemporary storytelling. Genius is pretty much a 90s flick, replete with randomness and inconsistencies. It has a hero who can overcome crippling pain and spring into action when his country’s reputation is at stake. It is about a hero who is invited by RAW to join him because he is… a Genius at what he does. It is a story where we are not sure what our hero is studying at IIT – computers or chemicals. He seems to ace everything anyway. Along with Sanskrit slokas. It is a film where our hero derives scientific basics from the Vedas – something I am certain is not going to go well with many of the audience.

It is also about a larger than life villain, MRS, played by Nawazuddin Siddiqui. An aura is built around this man, who remains untraceable for the world except for our hero Vasudev Shastri. And yet when he comes on screen, MRS is more comical than menacing. He even does a cute dance to Himesh Reshammiya’s music at a party. This chap is a genius in his own right.

But once you accept its inconsistencies, Genius can be engaging. It is a non-linear screenplay and has enough twists to thrill the audience. While the first half of the film is dedicated to building the love story and Vasudev’s character, someone who greets people with a charming Radhe Radhe, the second half is when things get serious. Twists build up towards an action sequence where two geniuses fight it out. But before that, the screenplay could successfully convince that there is something fishy about the hero itself.

The dialogues of the film are aimed at playing to the gallery. Often references are made to the way of life in Vrindavan and the culture. Genius is mounted on a lavish scale. Director Anil Sharma is one of the few filmmakers in Bollywood who can mount a film on a large canvas.

All of these help debutant Utkarsh Sharma to come across as a decent new face. Someone who could be given another chance, irrespective of the faith of his debut. Co-star Ishita has much lesser to do. Much of the cake is hence taken by Nawazuddin Siddiqui. In one particular scene, where he is telling the backstory of his character, the actor showcases pure brilliance, moving from madness to grief.

Genius in its essence is a 90s flick, but with some new age smartness… characters talking about hacking and binary codes an all. It is the kind of launchpad that seeks to project the debutant as a complete package. Looks bhi hai, action bhi karta hai, aur romance bhi. Badhiya hai! Watch it just for that!

Movie Review: Mudassar Aziz’s Happy Phirr Bhag Jayegi

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Sonakshi

In one of the film’s hilarious scenes – and there are quite a few actually – the lovable Usman Afridi asks Bagga, “Desh toh azaad ho gaya, lekin Kashmir ka kya karein?”. It comes across as a simple line that but when seen in context to the real-life bilateral ties, a Pakistani asking that question to an Indian speaks volumes of how delightfully layered Happy Phirr Bhag Jayegi is in its humour. The film has multiple such lines that allow us to laugh at how funny the complex can be.

Sequel to the much loved 2016 Happy Bhag Jayegi, Happy Phirr Bhag Jayegi takes us to Shanghai, China. While the earlier was based on a runaway bride landing in Pakistan, this time it is about mistaken identities – one Happy being kidnapped instead of the other. The reason behind the kidnapping is quite hare-brained and might in a way look too convenient for the screenplay, but then that’s exactly why the goons become so lovable. They are silly and clearly do not have much of a future in the world of crime, as Sonakshi’s Happy says out in a scene.

Sonakshi

The kidnapping is followed by a mad ride to find why she was kidnapped, her escape and then finding the other Happy, who we have already met in the 2016 film. While all this unfolds, the clueless Happy (Diana) and her husband Guddu (Ali Fazal) happily enjoy boat rides in Shanghai.

Mudassar Aziz builds a hilarious screenplay. Never for once does he resort to anything that does not fit the essence of the film. Every scene adds up and more importantly entertains. But most importantly, many of these scenes could very well turn into a classic, just because of the way the director has dealt with it. Some of the sequences are spontaneous that it is difficult to figure out whether it is all written and rehearsed or did things just happen on the sets and the director decided to keep it.

None of the actor – Sonakshi Sinha, Jimmy Sheirgill, Piyush Mishra, Ali Fazal, Diana Penty and Jassie Gill – ever slips out of character. They nail each and every dialogue with conviction and adds to the delight. Jassie Gill, who debuts in Bollywood with this film, shows immense promise. Sonakshi Sinha pulls a perfect one as the feisty Punjabi girl. There is also a fun cameo by Aparshakti Khurana. And Jimmy Shergill sets the standards high.

But the star of this film is Mudassar Aziz and his writing. As a director, he makes a rather over the top premise look plausible. But it is his incredible writing that makes Happy Phirr Bhag Jagegi an absolute joy.

Bryan Adams is coming to India, and here are all the details

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It is official. Bryan Adams is coming to India. The legendary Canadian singer-songwriter will do a five-city tour of India in October this year. The cities where he will be performing include Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Mumbai, Ahmedabad and New Delhi. This will be a part of his nineteenth concert tour, for which he has already been to 53 cities across four continents this year.

What is learnt at this moment is that the gigs are lined up in support of Ultimate, a 21-track compilation that he brought out late last year. This will the fifth time he will be performing in the country. And we are told that this is going to be much bigger a show than what he has done on earlier occasions. Speaking about the concert, Adams says, “Namaste India. At the onset, I’d like to wish each one of you a very happy Independence Day. India is one of my favourite places in the whole world. The love and generosity that I have experienced here is immense and I am eternally grateful to ENIL for the opportunity to perform again in this beautiful country.”

The Ultimate Tour will see the singer perform on songs from his fourteenth album, which consists of some fresh song as well some of his biggest hits – all designed to capture the legend’s stupendous career.

The 58-year old Adam had first performed in India in 1996. He followed it by stellar concerts in 2001, 2003 and 2011. Some of his best-remembered songs include ‘Summer of ’69’, ‘When You’re Gone’, ‘Everything I Do I Do It For You’, and ‘All for Love’

The schedule

• 9th October 2018 @Ahmedabad @Sardar Patel Stadium
• 11th October 2018 @Hyderabad @Hitex City
• 12th October 2018 @Mumbai @Jio Gardens
• 13th October 2018 @Bengaluru @Ozone Urbana
• 14th October 2018 @New Delhi @Leisure Valley Open Ground

Bryan Adams in a nutshell

He has won over 20 Juno Awards from 56 nominations, 15 Grammy Award nominations, with one win, and three Academy Award nominations for songs he has written.

He has won the Order of Canada and the Order of B.C. for his contributions to music and charities. His charitable work includes Amnesty International, Greenpeace, PETA and Live Aid. His Bryan Adams Foundation, funded mostly by his photography projects, supports educational opportunities for children worldwide and is solid evidence that his impact on pop culture goes way beyond just music.

Gold Movie Review: Fiction over reality

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The story of Gold starts with the 1936 Berlin Olympics. Our protagonist Tapan Das is the narrator. Das is the Junior Manager for the Indian Hockey Team, and he aspires to salute his own national flag rather than an English flag after the team wins a Gold. He is a Bengali, living in Mumbai and dreaming for his country. In ideal conditions, this could be a great character. And he is pretty much one of the more interesting characters we have seen. He is an alcoholic accused of embezzlement of funds and yet when it comes to his country, he wishes to surpass the faults in his character.

But, director Reema Kagti decides to make her actor Akshay Kumar speak Hindi with a Bengali accent… even when he speaks with his wife, another Bengali. What she manages, in turn, is build a character who seems to be unsure of what accent he needs to speak in. So, when Akshay Kumar is narrating, he is doing so in decent Hindi with little Bengali accent thrown in; when is speaking on screen he is doing an overdose of the Bengali accent making it look a caricature; and when he sings… he does so in Punjabi! And we are not sure how to feel about him anymore.

Yet, Gold has larger problems. Reema Kagti, usually used to writing with Zoya Akhtar, finds a writing partner in Rajesh Devraj, who has earlier written films like Quick Gun Murgun, and Fakir Of Venice (yet to release).  As mentioned, her screenplay starts with the Berlin Olympics. The hockey final sets up the premise of the show and from there it is an exercise to build up Tapan’s character and how he struggles to a team going and the difficulties he faces.

To be fair, after a tepid first half, the second half gets the josh going. The nationalistic fervour is evoked in the final 30 minutes and the film reaches its crescendo in its final minutes. When the national anthem plays out, you might just have a heart beating much faster with excitement and joy. Gold manages to hit its target there. Reema creates interesting characters, although at a point it looks like she is heading for a Chak De! India style conflict within the team. She quickly steers clear and moves ahead towards the larger goal.

The director is ably supported through some feisty performances by actors like Amit Sadh, Sunny Kaushal, Vineet Kumar Singh and Kunal Kapoor. Akshay Kumar delivers his best and looks comfortable in what he has been offered.

Technically, Gold is shot on a lavish scale. It is never easy to set a film in an era that has gone by. The film hence needs a large amount of VFX. Reema reduces the pressure by focussing on creating the era, instead of the matches. While the camera takes you into the playground, in middle of the excitement, it does not quite focus as much on the ball creating a lesser need for VFX. The focus stays on the faces.

Despite all of these, however, Gold comes across as an opportunity missed. And a terrible miss it is. Mostly fiction, with a few real-life inspirations thrown in, Gold’s screenplay takes too much time in building its protagonist and lesser time in building the team. India is 1948 was in a complex state. We were still in the hangover of the riots that has ensued after the partition. A lot of players refused to play hockey just because they were not in the state of mind. And building the team was probably a much larger task than finding the talent. The screenplay offers nothing on how the dynamics between players changed once a few of the former Indian players were started representing Pakistan. As per reports, Pakistani players were given orders not to mingle with Indian players. The tension does not make it to the screen. The makers have not used any real names and have even altered situations to fit its screenplay. The focus stays, unflinchingly, on Tapan Das. And it becomes a one-man mission.

Nevertheless, Gold makes the cut simply because it delivers the thrill and the proud nationalism it promises. What one must keep in mind while watching this film – Yes, it is touted as the story of India’s first gold medal, but it is a piece of fiction, including the character of Tapan Das.

Tryst with destiny: Jawaharlal Nehru’s complete speech

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We have heard it in bits quite a few times, thanks to its usage in many Bollywood movies. We bring you the entire speech, as delivered by Jawarharlal Nehru on August 14, 1947 in the Constituent Assembly, New Delhi.
This is easily one of India’s most iconic speeches, ever!

The Speech:

“Long years ago, we made a tryst with destiny, and now the time comes when we shall redeem our pledge, not wholly or in full measure, but very substantially. At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom. A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new, when an age ends, and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance.

It is fitting that at this solemn moment, we take the pledge of dedication to the service of India and her people and to the still larger cause of humanity.
At the dawn of history, India started on her unending quest, and trackless centuries are filled with her striving and the grandeur of her success and her failures. Through good and ill fortune alike, she has never lost sight of that quest or forgotten the ideals which gave her strength. We end today a period of ill fortune, and India discovers herself again.
The achievement we celebrate today is but a step, an opening of opportunity, to the greater triumphs and achievements that await us. Are we brave enough and wise enough to grasp this opportunity and accept the challenge of the future?
Freedom and power bring responsibility. The responsibility rests upon this Assembly, a sovereign body representing the sovereign people of India. Before the birth of freedom, we have endured all the pains of labour, and our hearts are heavy with the memory of this sorrow. Some of those pains continue even now. Nevertheless, the past is over, and it is the future that beckons to us now.That future is not one of ease or resting but of incessant striving so that we may fulfil the pledges we have so often taken and the one we shall take today. The service of India means the service of the millions who suffer. It means the ending of poverty and ignorance and disease and inequality of opportunity.
The ambition of the greatest man of our generation has been to wipe every tear from every eye. That may be beyond us, but as long as there are tears and suffering, so long our work will not be over.And so, we have to labour and to work, and work hard, to give reality to our dreams. Those dreams are for India, but they are also for the world, for all the nations and peoples are too closely knit together today for any one of them to imagine that it can live apart.
Peace has been said to be indivisible; so is freedom, so is prosperity now, and so also is disaster in this one world that can no longer be split into isolated fragments.To the people of India, whose representatives we are, we make an appeal to join us with faith and confidence in this great adventure. This is no time for petty and destructive criticism, no time for ill-will or blaming others. We have to build the noble mansion of free India where all her children may dwell.”

What does the box office collections of Dhadak tell us about nepotism?

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With a first week collection of Rs 50 crore, the makers of Dhadak are celebrating. And they have good reasons to. Janhvi Kapoor’s debut is snuggly placed pretty high on the scale when it comes to successful films of this year – beating films like Varun Dhawan’s October. And glaringly, Dhadak serves as a cold reminder of why exactly ‘nepotism’ prevails in the industry, which has seen severe criticism in recent times for supporting its own.
MEDIA PLAYS FAVOURITES
The success of the film is barely a surprise. The trade was always quite kicked about the film, with curiosity levels sky high right since it was announced that it would serve as Janhvi’s debut. So much was the craze that the paparazzi started following the Janhvi before she started shooting for it. In one of her interviews, the actress actually recounted how the one particular scene filmed in Kolkata had to be scrapped because the paparazzi following her was also seen in the shot!
The media does not quite provide the same kind of love to any other debutant who is not born into the film industry. For example, Rajkummar Rao with his immense talent was barely interviewed until his talent could not be ignored anymore.  Why so? “The lineage plays a major part in creating the curiosity. Like in this case, Janhvi is Sridevi’s daughter. Plus of course, there are others factors. There is a great marketing initiative put in place to make sure they are all over the place and people know about them and the media talks about them,” says senior journalist Indu Mirani. Indu likes to be that it is the media which drives the curiosity and not the other way around.
Interestingly it is not just the average joes that Janhvi and Ishaan edged past. Dhadak also beat debut vehicles like Student Of The Year and Heropanti – both extremely hyped, and major hits. The huge sympathy wave for Janvhi after her mother’s demise could be a reason. Sridevi, after all, was one of the biggest stars the country has seen.
nepotism
MONEY MATTERS
Indu did point out a very pertinent point – launchpads that have great marketing budgets, which manage to generate some sort of interest among the movie audience.
Budgets can be commanded by the bigger directors. And yet when Farah Khan, a top-notch mainstream director, wanted to make a film with three female characters she found it difficult to put the film together. Eventually, she let go of her dream.
In comparison, director Anil Sharma seems to have managed a decent budget to launch his son Utkarsh Sharma. Needless to say, directors like Karan Johar, Sanjay Leela Bhansali, and Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra got the budgets they wished for when they were launching Alia Bhatt, Ranbir Kapoor, Sonam Kapoor and Harshvardhan Kapoor. In comparison, smaller filmmakers even with great ideas do not get such budgets if they wish to cast just about any newcomers.
There are dozens of smaller filmmakers who launch newcomers – but most of these films sink without a trace. Every once in a while, films like Masaan and Pyaar Ka Punchnama do happen, but it is not rocket science to figure that ratio of star-kids making a profit are higher.
“While I would say it is not only about films, but yes, we have to accept that ancestry does play a part. When the next generation of a star comes in the expectations of business that their film can do automatically rises,” says well-known distributor Girish Johar. With over 140 films to his repertoire, you could assume he knows what he talking about. “The certain favouritism tends to come in. If you know a renowned chef’s child has a turned a chef, you might want to give it a try! Similarly, the film watching audience tends to think that if an actor is the child of a renowned actor, he or she could be tried. In contrast, if the same film is made with a completely known cast, people tend to wait for the feedback on it. This, in turn, plays a part in the money that is spent in mounting and promoting the film!” he explains why star-kid launchpads are more attractive business opportunity to financiers.
A wise producer, anonymously, put it up in as straight words a possible. “Filmmaking may be an art, but it is a commercial art. The producer puts his money into the director’s dream. And it is important that he gets his money back.” Putting that to perspective, the ones who put money into Dhadak did know what they were getting into. As you read this the film had marched past the lifetime collections of many films starring well-known actors.
AUDIENCE LOVES NEPOTISM
Interestingly, star kids manage to get a lot of press and attention even if their debut vehicles flop. Like in the case of Harshvardhan Kapoor and Ranbir Kapoor. In contrast, someone like Karthik Aryan and Divyendu Sharma barely got any media coverage despite being lead in a superhit first film.
Now, despite what journalists like Indu Mirani believe – that it is the media that drives the curiosity – it can barely be argued in the digital age, a lot of reportage happens on what could get more clicks. Which is why Taimur Ali Khan is today one of the most discussed individuals in the country. To put that into perspective – a website stands to lose up to lakhs of views if it stops talking about Taimur, Inaaya, and Abram!

Understanding why Sunny Leone needed Karenjit Kaur’s untold story

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Some time in 2016, Sunny Leone hit upon what was until then an unexplored fanbase. Women, who had till then not really given her much thought. So far, a larger chunk of her fanbase was clearly male. One interview with a well-known journalist Bhupendra Chaubey changed things. A rather persistent Bhupen wanted to pin Sunny down and throw at her all the questions that he believed would send the star riling into self-introspection – a journalist’s wet dream. That was not to be. Despite all his attempts at getting Sunny to explore her guilt at having joined the porn industry, the actress stayed amazingly composed and unrattled. She, in fact, made it clear that she would not ever give out any signs of being perturbed by people who want to tell her off. Her attitude found a lot of women, and men, sitting up and taking note that she is not just someone who titillate with her body but could woo with her mind too.

For a lot of people till then Sunny Leone was just a former pornstar and someone who was attempting a makeover, with a Bollywood career. Her first Bollywood film was a major hit, thanks to the curiosity. Her next film tanked. And things were not so good anymore. Sunny was soon becoming the go-to girl for the directors who were not necessarily intending to tell stories but make the quick buck – using her seductive on-screen persona. It was a run-up to the release of one such movie, Mastizaade, when Sunny Leone stumbled upon this unfound love.

For anyone who has tracked Sunny, and her career – porn and otherwise – it has never been a secret that she has a very clever mind. She is known to have made a profit out of decisions – dollar for every quarter! When she and Daniel started dating, they started their own adult entertainment company – where they produced a few of their own films. These films, of course, worked decently, considering they were indeed a couple. And then she went on to produce a lot more films which did not actually star her but had her name and hence sold well. For a mind as sharp as that, it would have been unimaginable to let go of an opportunity that could be milked – an opportunity that was open up by the famous interview. The idea of a biopic was born – a biopic that could humanise her and make her more endearing. A biopic that could tell her story. Because clearly, like Chaubey stated in the interview, people wanted to know! I would like to assume, this is where Karenjit Kaur: The Untold Story found its genesis.

And Karenjit Kaur is made. Interestingly, Sunny does not mind using Chaubey’s interview as an axis, around which her story is told, as the screenplay goes back and forth – almost like a Slumdog Millionaire. It’s another matter that in her show she makes Chaubey look like a maniac. And the interview is made into a shoddy piece of work – considering this is the real story, you would have expected them to keep the interview as real as possible.  I suppose, whoever runs the show holds the reigns. When Chaubey interviewed her, it was him firing all guns. This looks like giving back, in style. The irony: this is the second time in two weeks, when our dear actors have decided to stick it up to the media… remember Sanju?

So Karenjit Kaur’s story is told – the shy girl that grew up bold. She made some choices, at first for the need of money, but never for the heck of it. ‘The Untold Story’ as it is tagged, portrays Sunny as a moralistic girl who repeatedly turned down the money before situations got better off her.

Unfortunately for her though, much before this expensively shot ‘biopic’ of hers happened, Sunny had already okayed a documentary. Mostly Sunny, shot by Dilip Mehta, was out in 2014. And it shows a Sunny quite contrasting to the Sunny that Karenjit Kaur the Untold Story offers. Sunny is unabashed in the documentary as she speaks that she enjoyed the money that came along with her work and financial situations never quite pushed her into it. “I didn’t think about my family. I did not think about my family. I didn’t think what was right or wrong to them. I was making a living. This is more money that I could ever imagine that I could make all year long, working at a tax returns firms as a receptionist,” she says in the documentary. She follows it up by, “It was not that we were poor. That wasn’t the case at all. But they definitely didn’t give us what we wanted. So, I was always trying to figure out how am I going to make money; how am I going to figure how to go to the store and buy candy…”

Goes without saying that Mostly Sunny is a far better watch. But that’s still besides the point. The larger question would be: why make a something like Karenjit Kaur The Untold Story? How does such a show help?

We can only make assumptions. And studied guesses. For one, a career in the porn industry is not forever. You might get a realistic view of it if you watch Hot Girls Wanted, a documentary available on Netflix. A Bollywood career offered Sunny a shot at something she had not even realise was possible. Sunny mentions in the documentary how it all fell together as her “exit strategy”!

A few Bollywood films later, the curiosity around her has gone down considerably. Her films don’t bring in numbers at the theatres anymore. Her last hit was in 2014. Her film Tina and Lolo is lying unreleased for the lack of takers for years now, thanks to the series of flops. Even digital rights of her films, which earlier sold like hot cakes, don’t get money anymore. Why would you pay for what is available for free, is what I was told when I asked one buyer once.

In the last two years, Sunny has been busy with item numbers in films like Raees, Bhoomi and Dongri Ka Raja. Working with Shah Rukh Khan did bring in hope that things might change. There has been a time when actors refused to work with Sunny because they believed it would tarnish their reputation. Rajniesh Duggal spoke about it on record in Mostly Sunny. And I can tell from personal experience of at least one star who refused to have Sunny doing an item number in his film, even if it meant great publicity! This might anger the feminist but it’s a fact nonetheless. The change seems to be taking longer than one would have expected. And you cannot stay young forever. Sunny turned 37 earlier this year. And things don’t fall into place, endorsements will start drying up too. Acceptability needs to come in, faster.

Karenjit Kaur fits in as the perfect idea. So what if it is badly made! So what if it dramatizes her life and makes things seem all too rosy! So what if it makes a mockery out of an interview! The show could tell the story the way she wishes it… The show means Sunny is back. With a bang. And she would hope, this time things look up… for a longer duration, for her to figure the perfect next switch.

Sunny sums it better than anyone else ever could. She did it in the documentary when she says, “I don’t know what my legacy will be. I don’t look at myself and go, oh my god, I am the greatest actress, or dancer, or even and adult. But one thing I was good at was turning a quarter into dollar.”

 

Karanjeet Kaur The Untold Story is available on Zee5.

Movie Review: Shashank Khaitan’s Dhadak

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If you have been a Sridevi fan, it is natural that you would find your eyes train on Janhvi Kapoor as she appears on the big screen for the first time. You might try to find resemblances, even feverishly hoping for something. I am betting at least some people will do so. Good news is that you will actually find flashes on Sridevi in Janhvi. Every now and then, the young girl will do what is natural – be like her mother. But that’s not the good news. Well, not the only good news. What is more important is that this girl is actually a good find… someone Karan Johar could pat his back for launching. Janhvi is effortless in her portrayal of Parthavi, a “uchi jaat” (higher caste), rich girl from Udaipur. Her expressions work and so does her delivery.

But what’s interesting is that she is matched scene by scene, and at times even trumped by Ishaan Khattar, another new actor, half-brother to Shahid Kapoor. Ishaan is refreshing because he does not seem to be caught up in the need to look good. He is comfortable in his skin and clearly concentrates on his craft.

Ishaan and Jahnvi are the biggest highs of Dhadak. As if almost by design… so that a great screenplay does not take away the delight of finding two new good actors.

That would be stupid though, if it is indeed by design!

For audiences who might not find the two young actors delectable, Dhadak could feel like a rather convenient a screenplay. Especially for the ones who are yet to get over Sairat, a Marathi film that broke many benchmarks. The film had left people speechless, unsure how to deal with it because of the way the director Nagraj Manjule dealt with the characters. Sairat was set in rural Maharashtra, and the people in the film behaved the way any real person would behave in those settings.

In comparison, Dhadak does not quite get as real – the trap that a Bollywood movie needs to willingly fall so as to please the larger audiences. This film is set in Udaipur and that is reinstated every now and then by the characters. There is no way you feel the essence of the place otherwise. Dhadak hence, after the joyous and breezy first half, becomes quite predictable. And then you are left waiting for the next big turn of events.

Writer-director Shashank Khaitan leaves out a lot from Sairat as he penned his version of the film, making it simpler and concentrating on adding extra effect on what he kept from the original. He wins some, loses some. Among the downers – he fails to bring in a growth curve in his characters, and the conflict that life’s struggles bring in is half-baked.

Shashank’s power as a director cannot be undermined though. Having delivered two back to back superhits, Shashank shows his understanding of the mainstream Bollywood audiences. And probably also understands that a larger part of his audience across the country has not watched Sairat, and hence the comparisons are unlikely to bother them.

To add to that, Shashank shoots this on a scale that pleases the eye. The aerial shots of Udaipur make you fall in love with the city. There is a lot of colour in each frame, to assert the good times while towards the later part, set in Kolkata, things are soberer.

Dhadak hence works – purely in the regular Bollywood ‘mainstream’ parlance. It is however, a missed attempt at creating anything that could last longer… like Sairat probably will. Except, of course, the careers of Ishaan Khattar and Janhvi Kapoor. Dhadak will live, just because chances are that these two will go a long way.

Business of music decentralised, and the South takes the step

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Indian Performing Right Society Ltd (IPRS) sets up regional committees.

For long now, it has been a habit of people to look at Mumbai and Bollywood as the centre of all creative activities. And this also reflected in the way the Indian Performing Right Society (IPRS) – the only government authorized body in the country to administer rights, issue licenses and collect royalties for authors, music composers and music publishers – functions. However things are changing and a significant change in the same direction was recently undertaken.

Few days back the IPRS Governing Council met in Chennai to discuss with its members from the south Indian states on how to get things better. Among people who were involved included stalwarts likes Illayaraja, A. R. Rahman and Vidyasagar. And the outcome of the discussions could very well be a game changer. The IPRS realizes that it needs to increase involvement of regional members to achieve greater market efficiency and to make this happen it is setting up regional committees, who will function as advising bodies for Governing Council on how to relay IPRS policies to the regional members and authorities in coordination with its local administrative offices.

The first Regional Committee was promptly set up in Chennai. And the IPRS is now working towards other states joining hands in this effort. Well known Telugu singer and lyricist welcomed the change. “I am very pleased that the first step taken by the new IPRS is to move away from its former Mumbai and Bollywood-centric attitude by acknowledging the importance of other music productions centers and by involving every member instead of having just two representatives from the South on the Governing Council.”

Commenting on this development, Javed Akhtar, Chairman of the IPRS said, “IPRS is like a cooperative: it exists by and for its members. We have carefully assessed the situation, analyzed all the challenges faced by the Society and decided on a development plan. Our first step is to effectively localise and bring greater regional involvement in the Society’s operations. We started with South India, which is the country’s largest music producer and music exporter, with internationally acclaimed legends such as Illyaraja and A. R. Rahman. In the coming months, we will expand this regional drive so as to cover all the main music production centers this year itself.”

Mandar Thakur, COO of Times Music, also pitched in, “The economic contribution and the international influence of the South Indian music industry is second to none and is even greater than Bollywood in several parts of the world, particularly in South-East Asia, the Far East, and some European countries. But until now we have somehow not been able to properly monetize our assets. I warmly welcome this healing step of IPRS: it goes to show that the new management is inclusive and means business.”

It may be noted that the IPRS was founded in 1969 and has over 4,000 members across the country.

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