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I should have been more professional: Chitrangda Singh

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Chitrangda Singh opens up about films, career, and life…

 

There is something endearing about Chitrangda Singh. You know she is not your mainstream heroine, though not for the lack of trying. She did try it with Desi Boys, but you would always remember he more for the work she did with Sudhir Mishra than for her item number in Gabbar is Back. Rather, if you are a part of the population that fell in love with her after Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi, then would probably want to forget that she ever did an item number as crude.

And yet, for someone who made an early impact as that, it is unfathomable how she did not score better. She was after all being referred to as the next Smita Patil… somewhere in the middle, she seems to have run out of luck. Or goodwill… if rumours are to be trusted.

Out of silver screen for a few years now, Chitrangda is back today, as a producer with the rather compelling story of ace Indian hockey player Sandeep Singh. And it is no surprise that she took the plunge at production while she was idling away, for the lack of work.  “Around 2013-14, I started writing something as I was not getting much work. End of 2014 I met Sandeep through a friend. We got talking. He was the Indian hockey captain and I have been around sports all my life. When he told me what all happened to him, my first reaction was astonishment. I started writing his story…,” Chitrangda tells us how she actually got into doing something beyond acting.

Doubtlessly, production was no cakewalk. Not for a first timer. For the first time Chitrangda was exposed to the intricacies of film budgets and funding. It took a lot of selling before she actually found a buyer in Sony Pictures Network, who happened to see the merit in the story or exhilarating triumph of Sandeep Singh. “At that moment a lot of biopics were being announced. And in a way that became a disadvantage as people reacted to us as ‘Ah one more biopic!’. Plus, it was about hockey who people do not know much. So, I will be honest, it became a little difficult to get people excited. I hence got a three-minute long presentation on Sandeep, using actual footage and images,” admits the actress, also accepting that she indeed approached other ‘mainstream’ actors for the role but nothing fell in place. Getting a mainstream actor to put on the look of a Sardar, that too one who played hockey, could be a task. It is no surprise that she failed there. Destiny, of course, takes its own course. Diljit not only worked for her in terms of looks but budgets.

After much labour, as the film releases Chitrangda today hopes that the story of Sandeep Singh reaches out to the people who never knew of him – a large population considering the apathy towards hockey the country. “There is something about him that he told me and it got tears into my eyes. When he was paralysed and was at home, the sportsman in him was ashamed. He could not even clean himself or change his clothes. He used to cry at night. One night he tried to hold onto the wall and stand up, but he fell. That created a sound and his father came out to check what happened. He saw what had happened but quietly walked back in so that Sandeep did not feel worse. Then sometime later his elder brother came and helped him up. There are so many such incidents. Like how he kept calling his girl, but she did not take his call. Somewhere he started feeling like a lesser man. And for a sportsman to lose that is a very big deal. Because when you go and play, that is your biggest asset…,” she says, reflecting on her constant meetings with one of India’s best hockey players ever.

Chitrangda

She believes people will identify with Sandeep’s crisis simply because everyone in our lifetime has to go through one such period when we have to work hard to redeem our self-respect. Apart from being a heart wrenching story, it is a human story that consists of the most basic emotions that we tend to feel. Chitrangda being no exception. “Of course, I have been through such moments when you start doubting yourself. Professional and personally. When the kind of work you want is not coming your way and the kind of work that’s coming makes you wonder if this is how you are perceived. I would not say it is as dramatic, but you have to fight for what you believe in. You have to fight to get back your self-confidence after certain failures in your life,” she points out. That brings us back to our question – does she too feel that she could have done better, after all the glowing reviews she received for her early works. “I think we all feel that somewhere or the other that things could have been better. But I have nobody else to blame for that by myself. Because I think I have taken very long breaks because of which work suffers. No doubt about that. If I was to do things differently, maybe I should have been a lot more professional and had focussed a lot more on my professional life. That would have changed things for me. But I think I did the best I could at that moment to handle whatever it was that was coming my way,” she reflects.

Clearly, the period of uncertainty has passed – the one she faced when she started writing, just to express what she was feeling. Today, Chitrangda seems content. The positive side – she is also finding a comeback as an actress. Her next film Sahib Biwi Gangster 3 is releasing pretty soon, and then she has Baazaar. Also, there is more happening as a producer, she promises. To top it all, she continues to look like billion bucks. At 42, things are sunny, for Singh!

Mallika Sherawat Can’t Hear Questions, Check Out Why!

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She was once talked about for what she wore on screen and the number of kisses in her films. But over the last few years, even that has disappeared and all that Mallika Sherawat has managed to get press for is her antics at Cannes and being allegedly thrown out of her house in France. This despite making it to Hollywood and even signing a film there much before Priyanka Chopra did.

Recently the actress landed back in India with the intention of making a comeback and she even chose her own vehicle – she bought Indian adaptation rights the American show The Good Wife. We spoke to her about stuff that people wanted to know, including if she is a wife. Excerpts:

So are you married, or still dating Cyrill?

Why are you getting into the personal space?

You are a celebrity, you share pictures on social media. People would want to know more.

I am hardly a celebrity.  Talk about my activism, instead, which is so very important. Free A Girl, which I am the brand ambassador of and which I promote actively.

First, let’s talk films. Why aren’t you doing films?

Because I was not getting the work I wanted to do. Most of the roles that were coming to me were of the glamour girl, which I have done enough of.

So, you got tired of playing the glamour girl?

I really did. There are other aspects, other things that I have to offer. Not just this glamour girl bit. And I really wanted to do some meaningful role. Not a leading role, even a supporting role would be enough. But something meaningful. So, I got the rights to The Good Wife and in the process of making that.

Kissing on screen in pretty commonplace today. And being hot on screen is not a novelty anymore. How do you see this process of evolution and do you think you could have done better as an actor if you debuted today? People did judge you for what you did.

 

Of course, I was judged and it was not a nice feeling. There were a lot of uncomfortable questions that I was asked.  If you watch an interview of mine, I think it was called Seedhi Baat, with what was this name of the journalist… Prabhu Chawla. Now when I watch it, I cringe. The kind of questions, ultra-sexual, intimidating questions he asked me, and I was this girl who had done just two films. I was sitting there, having to defend myself and I feel so much of rage now as to why any girl should be subjected to this, to this lecherous dirty old man asking me such kind of questions. How is this journalism in any way? This was just him, I thought, trying to intimidate me, taking advantage of the powerful position he was in. I have been through a lot of those kinds of harrowing experience. A certain part of the media was always judging me, criticising me. And that creates a doubt in an actor’s mind if I was doing something wrong to invite such criticism. I started losing my confidence quite a bit.

 

What happens at Cannes? When you shared those caged pictures, the message did come through. Yet there was a substantial backlash in terms of what people perceived it as. How do you react?

The more interesting question would be, does it bother me at all. It does not bother me at all. I don’t care.

Why Cannes? Isn’t it where people go to talk films?

Why not? It is also a platform to raise issues. Julia Roberts has done it; Sharon Stone has done it too. And now I have done it.

You shifted to LA much before Priyanka did. You were walking the red carpets, mingling with the biggies… You even did a couple of films. Is that why you lost out on Bollywood. And do you think you could have done better in Hollywood?

I don’t think I lost out on anything. I just like to live life on my own terms. I wanted to live in a different country, travel a lot, go out of my comfort zone, meet President Barack Obama… move around who’s who of the world, party with them and that’s what I did. I got all the invitations. I did not want to get stuck in a studio here.

Why not more Hollywood films then?

They will come when the time is right. Right now, The Good Wife has come and I am playing the lead and not only that, I have bought the rights and producing.

Finally, what exactly happened in France. There were reports…

I don’t want to talk about it.

 

Come on, give us your side of the story.

Oh, my ear, I can’t hear suddenly!

3 Moments in Race 3, that totally revealed our state of mind while watching the film

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That Race 3 is bad is an understatement. And it is not just the critics who have been talking about it. During the intermission, I had tweeted that I am halfway through the film. A usual response to such a tweet is moviegoers asking if I liked the film and if they should watch it. But on this particular day, for the first time, I was asked by a fan of Salman Khan not to review the film. Reason: He had already seen it and knew it was bad. He just did not want it to be ripped by reviewers so that the film does its business, for the sake of his favourite star. Indeed, the film went on to bag a neat 100 crore in less than three days after release.

 

In the meantime, I sat wondering if the film actually justified a review. It barely qualified to be called a film in first place. It was more a gross misuse of money and star-power, something we have so gotten used to in Bollywood. And yet, like its weekend box office collection states, audience cared a damn about the reviews. I am sure they do care about their hard-earned money though… especially once they were out of the theatres, feeling distraught and cheated.

In the reactions that I studied over the last few days, I think I see a trend. Interestingly, I believe that certain moments in the film actually, in a rather ironic manner, spoke for our state of mind while watching the film… and after watching it. I am listing three here, just to match with Race ‘3’.

 

Anil Kapoor rebuking Daisy Shah for her fake accent 

Anil Kapoor is shown as a man from a town near Allahabad. Hence he breaks into a typical UP accent while speaking once in a while, especially when he feels nostalgic about his birthplace. Daisy Shah and Saqeb Saleem, both playing his kids, are raised on an island far away from India and hence does not quite speak the language. In a scene, Daisy speaks with her ‘father’, Anil Kapoor, in the UP accent. Not pleased with her effort, she is rebuked by her father because she never managed to learn her language.

It almost felt like a real statement on Daisy’s acting skills. We all know, she is not the best actress we have in the industry, but with Race 3 she takes things southwards. Rather, she is not alone. Except for Anil Kapoor, who stands tall, everybody else, including Salman Khan put up a dismal effort.

Yes, Anil Kapoor spoke for us there.

 

Daisy swinging upside down, romancing Bobby Deol

Salman Khan has turned lyricist. Yes, it seems him trying to sing is not bad enough. Now we have to deal with his lyrics too. The complete artist – Salman Khan. Actor, painter, writer, singer, lyricist. He could beat Satyajit Ray at it.

Who benefits from his artistic ventures? Daisy Shah and Bobby Deol, who get featured in the beautifully shot ‘Selfish’ song. And while we try to deal with the lyrics, we are helped by a Daisy Shah swinging upside down, in a great show of acrobatic skills – against a beautiful blue sky. In a way the shot makes us wonder if Daisy is just a representation of us, the audiences. Tied upside down, no way to escape… forced to romance this not so likable movie. No, that’s not a statement of Bobby Deol. He is perfectly likable otherwise.

 

Bewakoofi Ka koi ilaaj nahi, says Salman

When Salman Khan realises that his siblings are trying their best to bump him off, he says, “Bewakoofi ka koi ilaaj nahi”. Nothing could be closer to the truth to human nature. We are the type of animals who write books about mistakes and lessons so that people could learn and not make the same mistakes. And these books are read. And yet, the larger population makes the same mistakes that the books talked about. From electing corrupt governments to watching bad movies, we are a country who barely learn from mistakes of others. We like to go through the same shit ourselves. We are almost masochist that way.

Despite people walking out of the theatres on Friday and crying hoarse about how betrayed they felt after watching Race 3, even larger number of people went to watch it in the following two days. And I am yet to meet someone who is happy after what he/she did. Race 3 is already the highest grossing film of the franchise and if things go well, it would be touching Rs 150 crore by the end of this week. Nah, Bewakoofi ko koi Ilaaj nahi.

 

But then, who am I to complain. Their business is their business, none of our business. What I have managed to find an answer to in this entire episode is – I am happy I never wasted time writing a review for this film.

A Crore Spent, Just To Get Priyanka Chopra To Assam?

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So, Priyanka Chopra finally managed to make time for Assam. She flew all the way from United States of America to Assam, shot for an ad campaign for two days – a video that has been shot elaborately at a cost that could make film producers roll their eyes. Should we be pleased? Yes, sure. We could have a more engaging tourism ad than what we had last year, which was well shot too but it did not quite do justice to the fact that Priyanka Chopra was signed for a huge sum of money.

We are pleased that she wore a beautiful Mekhela Chador, along with nice Assamese jewellery, mingled with people from the state. And hey, even trended on twitter on the day she landed in Assam. Wow! So cool. And then we got to know something more.

Video Capture of the Assam Tourism Ad.

 

Appears Ms. Chopra was flown into India along with her team all the way from US, at the expense of our dear old state government. A journey (to and fro) that cost nothing short of Rs 25 lakh. No, don’t roll your eyes yet. Wait till you hear this. Priyanka Chopra was flown from Mumbai to Jorhat in a chartered flight, because of she can’t fly regular. And the chartered plane was parked in Jorhat for two whole days, at the actress’s disposal. This allegedly cost another Rs 75 lakh. Yes, a neat sum of 1 crore only on her travel! Yes, now you may roll your eyes.

Good thing – in the two days she was in Assam, the department of tourism evidently made her slog. For every penny she was paid. She shot for the videos, travelled to Kaziranga, and even shot in Majuli! Plus do enough photo-ops.

All we hope is that the new ad, shot by a very well-known ad-filmmaker Lyod Baptista, does more justice to the state than what the last year’s video did. The Department of Tourism, Assam has drawn lots of flak due since the Awesome Assam campaign was launched. First, it was the logo design which looks amateurish then it was awkward tagline in the poorly edited video. So, when Priyanka Chopra was signed as brand ambassador till 31st December, 2018, lot of criticism followed as the signing amount did not justify the results.

Just a comparison:

Amitabh Bachchan had endorsed Gujarat tourism. And he did not charge any money for it. The government had put this on record. Likewise, Shah Rukh Khan promoted West Bengal tourism, and had not charged any fee for it.

Beating The Cricket Jinx [Part 1]

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The teaser of the Sanjay Dutt biopic was released on April 24. And to maximise its reach the makers have decided to use IPL as a platform. The video was played during the IPL match. And we are sure it got all of you excited? So are we! Except one nagging phenomena.

More often than not, movies that used cricket as a promotional tool has ended up biting dust at the box office. Of course there are some remarkable cases of super-hits too, but did they not say, “Exceptions prove the rule!” Could this be a jinx? In a country which thrives on cricket and movies… could movies riding on cricket be bad news? Statistics! Here’s a look at some movies which chosen cricket matches as a promotional avenue.

Bombay Velvet (2015)

This was supposed to be Anurag Kashyap’s most ambitious project. The craze was palpable and the producers thought it was fitting to release the trailer in a big way. And they did so, at the Quarter Final match of the Cricket World Cup, 2015. The match was between India and Bangladesh. Ranbir also turned a commentator during the match. Bombay Velvet is one film that took a rather huge toll his the actor’s career.

 

Shamitabh 2015

A couple of months before Ranbir, it was Amitabh Bachchan who turned a commentator on a cricket match. The occasion was an India-Pakistan match. His fans loved it and he trended social media. The strategy also fit right into the promotions of his film Shamitabh – a film which was largely inspired by the superstar’s magnificent voice. The film ended a turkey.

Once Upon A Time In Mumbai Dobaara (2013)

This is one film where the team tried everything they could to use the IPL. At first they tried to be a part of the opening ceremony, but after Shah Rukh Khan allegedly hijacked their plans because he did not want the film to get such sweet promotion, they decided to just attend a match in Kolkata as ‘cricket lovers’. The catch – these cricket lovers wore T shirts with the logo of their film. Unfortunately for them, the broadcasters decide to avoid showing the actors in any frame. The film did not meet any better fate. \

Zanjeer (2013)

The much touted remake of the Amitabh Bachchan starrer was supposed to be the Hindi debut of Telegu superstar Ram Charan Teja. It also starred Priyanka Chopra, who was at top of her game. They went to be part of a Celebrity Cricket League match. The film sank without a trace.

 

Ra.One (2011)

Shah Rukh Khan’s most ambitious film, one that ended up being a case study for marketing students. Yet the fil m itself did not quite meet results that SRK would have wished for. Though he earned back his investment, a couple of distributors and exhibitors lost money. The promotions of this movie started with the launch of its first look during the quarter final of the 2011 Cricket World Cup. The match ended well for Indians, with our team beating Australians, but Shah Rukh could not say the same about the film.

 

Dum Maaro Dum (2011)

This film is remembered for Dum Maro Dum item number by Deepika Padukone. The actress along with the entire cast of the film – Abhishek Bachchan, Bipasha Basu, Rana Daggubatti, Prateik Babbar were present at the music launch of the film, which was done in Nagpur during the India-South Africa World Cup tie! Sachin Tendulkar hit a ton in the match, the movie scored a duck.

 

Azhar (2016)

Even before the shoots started, the makers used IPL to release the first look of the film. It was of Emraan Hashmi as Azhar. After the film was shot, the actor along with Nargis Fakhri released Pune to watch an IPL match between Pune Supergiants-Mumbai Indians. They did create the required buzz, but the film reached nowhere.

Does all of this scare you? Well, we do hope that the Dutt biopic manages to escape the jinx too. Like Mr  India did! Yes, the Anil Kapoor starrer was the first film to use cricket as a promotional tool. Anil Kapoor had in fact walked into the Sharjah Cricket Stadium in his ‘Mr India’ getup and tossed the coin before a match, as the world looked on. The film changed the way movies were promoted.  Apart of this, Shah Rukh Khan also launched the trailer of Chennai Express during the IPL 2013 final match. The film was a hit.

Done with Remixes, Slams Kanika Kapoor

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If you are a music aficionado and not quite happy with what Bollywood has been offering in the recent past, seems you are not alone. Kanika Kapoor, one of the brightest singing finds in the last decade says she staving for good music too.

The singer best known for her track Baby Doll, which also catapulted her into stardom, admits that remixes are being overdone. “Honestly, I have also failed to realised what exactly has happened in the last two years.  Lot of remixes are good, and lots are not at all good,” she blurts. The singer herself has not had a new release in quite some time, and last proper hit being Beat Be Booty from A Flying Jatt. Interestingly, Kanikia herself has been a part of a few remixes, like Jab Chaaye Tera Jadoo and Ishq Samundar. And she says she has been working on something new. “I am trying to do something different. I think the music industry is going through a gap, with a lot of remixes happening. I am trying to do something original. I will get something new, like I did with Baby Doll,” she assures.

Talking of doing something new, Kanika recently released a bhajan – something she had never done earlier. She did her own rendition of Ik Onkar the Sikh Mool Mantra and the actress cannot stop beaming. She says this is the toughest thing she has done, and it took her months to record the bhajan. “I agreed to do it but when I reached the studio I was so nervous that when I tried singing I was not quite satisfied. I tried after a few months and I was still not happy. Now they were also nervous like I was. Then after a few months I called them and told them that I am ready for it. And this time I sang it in half an hour. I hope I do a lot more of these bhajans,” the singer recalls, adding, It took time but eventually, whatever we have finally done is something straight out of our hearts. I am really excited and as nervous as I was when I had come to Mumbai for the first time. This is a new journey. I would love to some more bhajan and simrans. It is food for our soul.” Well, that’s a start. Hopefully the rest of Bollywood would be listening.

 

Movie Review: Shoojit Sircar’s October

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For most part of his career so far, Varun Dhawan has chosen to be the quintessential Bollywood hero, save one Badlapur. Which is why what he displays in October is not just refreshing, it surprises. As Dan, Varun takes on a garb of a person who could be rather annoying due to his inability to be practical enough. Dan’s simplicity is almost laughable. And yet, Varun adds an amazing level of likability to Dan, making him someone you could only root for, and probably fall in love with.

Varun shoulders the complexities of what Shoojit Sircar wishes to convey through October. And yet, the film is much beyond Dan. It is about life itself, complete with the uncertainties, the beauty and the despair… and hope. And it is about our ability to feel.

October is about Dan, and Shiuli. They are trainees in a five-star hotel in Delhi. Shiuli is almost prodigious, while Dan is unremarkable in what he does, despite his earnestness. These two barely interact and yet when Shiuli has an accident and falls into coma, Dan is affected in degrees unfathomable for most people. And that includes we as the audience. And this is where October faces its biggest challenge. In a world of people increasingly too caught up to feel for others, Dan comes as a jolt. He is almost unreal and makes us wonder what is wrong with him. Till Varun Dhawan finally wins you over… and makes us feel maybe it us who is the problem, not him.

His has made some extraordinary films, and yet with October, Shoojit Sircar surprises. As a director he is at his best. Sircar adds life to what Juhu Chaturvedi has beautifully written. Every shot, the music… almost everything speaks, together making the desired impact. Cinematographer Avik Mukhopadhyay uses steady shots to amazing effect, especially in the hospital, as he exposes the vulnerability of Shiuli’s family. Delhi winters have rarely looked better, even in the fog. The film in fact depends a lot of montages to build Dan’s character and speak for him when his not speaking. All of it well edited.

Also, while the film uses music well, this is not the regular film with songs. And despite not having songs to break the flow, like in usual Hindi flicks, October might come across as a tad slow. While it could be debated that the pace needed to be slow, so as to let the audience soak in what was on screen, it does get a little stretch at points. But then again, the screenplay lends itself to some beautiful light moments to keep the film going.

What also might come as a downer is the end of the film, almost annihilating what it seeks to preach. But then that’s probably the again the beauty of it. Of life as it is.

Banita Sandhu speaks without speaking and is an good find for Bollywood. But if there is something who leaves a mark, apart from Varun, it is Gitanjali Rao. Rao plays Shiuli’s mother, in what is her debut feature film. She is of course as rather well-known name in the theatre circuit and also been a director of some well awarded shorts. And it would be lovely to see her acting more often.

October is unlikely to be remembered as one of the year’s biggest success, commercially. But probably this will be one film that outlives many others. This is one film that will leave you overwhelmed and unsure how you feel about it, till you finally realise.

Note: If Judwaa 2 is your kind of entertainment, and you do not like deviations in that, maybe you could do ask someone to wake you up when October ends.

 

 

Also watch:

Website Find: The Incredible Egg

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At the very onset of the article, let me tell you that although I can cook various kinds of foods but I am pathetic when it comes to egg. I am sure, many of us still struggle to make an omelette. Infact, I consider it to be a sign of a perfect day if there is milk in the refrigerator and the omelette comes out well. Google being the solution of all our problems, I was looking for an easy way to make an omelette when I found this website by the American Egg Board.

The website, The Incredible Egg is fully dedicated to eggs. You can find egg recipes, various nutritional knowledge about eggs, various good production process practices and a blog. It also provides knowledge about the various types of eggs and how to keep the hens comfortable to get good quality eggs. It also encourages people to start eating eggs by having a section on the nutritional value and the cholesterol myths of the egg.

Basic French Omelet. Photo courtesy: American Egg Board

 

It is a very interesting site because it also gives an idea to farmers around the world to keep them up-to-date with world standards. I love eggs in almost all of their forms, baked, poached, fried, scrambled, frittattas, etc. Eggs are one  of the most healthiest things you can have and the best part is that you eat it any time of the day. This site has a special section on various recipes of eggs. I was flabbergasted with the number of egg recipes the site features. The site has features from the most sophisticated recipes to the simplest of the recipes we have known. You will find everything from tips on storing & testing for freshness to getting that perfect sunny side up fried egg. Also, some microwave wisdom on how to cook eggs in microwave oven.

Classic Deviled Egg. Photo courtesy: American Egg Board

The Complete List Of 65th National Film Award Winners, Assamese Film Village Rockstars Win Big

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Dada Saheb Phalke Award: Vinod Khanna

Best Film: Village Rockstars

Best Regional Film: Ladhakh

Best Non-Feature Film: Water Baby

Best Educational Film: The Girls We Were and The Women We Are

Best Animation Film: The Fish Curry and Tokri: The Basket

Best Children’s Film: Mhorkya,  Amar Bharat Deokar

Best Film on Art and Culture: Girija: A life of music

Best Film on Social Issues: I am Bonnie and Veil Done

Best Short Film (Fiction): Mayyat

Best Director Award: Jayraj for Bhayanakam

Best Non-Feature Films Director: Nagraj Manjule

Best Debut Film of a director: Pampally, Sinjar

Best Popular Film: Baahubali 2

Best Film for National Integration – Dhappa (Marathi)

Best film on Social Issues: Aalorukkam

Best Actress: Sridevi for Mom

Best Actor: Ridhhi Sen, Nagar Kirtan

Best supporting actress: Divya Dutta, Irada

Best Supporting Actor: Fahad Fazil, Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum

Best Child Actor – Bhanita Das, Village Rockstars

Best Action Direction: Baahubali 2

Best choreography: Gori tu Lath maar from Toilet Ek Prem Katha (Ganesh Acharya)

Best Cinematography: Bhayanakam (Cameraman: Nikhil S Praveen)

Best Special Effects: Baahubali 2

Special Jury Award: Nagar Kirtan(Bengali)

Best lyrics:  For song Muthu Ratna, for Kannada film March 22

Best Music Direction: A R Rahman for Kaatru Veliyidai

Background score: A R Rahman for Mom

Best Make-Up artist: Ram Razak for Nagar Kirtan

Best Production Design: Santosh Rajan for Take Off (Malayalam)

Best editing: Rima Das, Village Rockstars

Best Screenplay Original:  Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum

Best Adapted Screenplay: Bhayankam, to Jairaj

Best Film playback Singer: Shasha Tirupati  (Vaan Varuvaan song)

Best Male Playback Singer: Yesudas

 

Regional Awards

Best Marathi Film: Kacha Nimbu

Best Malayalam Film: Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum

Best Hindi Film: Newton

Best Bengali Film: Mayurakshi

Best Assamese Film: Ishu

Best Tamil Film: To Let

Best Telugu: Gazi

BEST Gujarati: DHH

Best Kannada film: Hebbettu Ramakka

Best Ladkhi film: Walking With The Wind

Best Tulu film: Paddayi

Best Oriya film: Hello Aarsi

Best Jasari film: Sinjar

 

 

 

Special Mention Award: Marathi Film – Murakhiya; Odia film: Hello RC; Take Off– Malayalam; Pankaj Tripathi bags a Special Mention award for Newton; Malayalam actor Parvathy too gets a special mention

 

Literature

Best Book on Cinema: Matmagi Manipur-The first Manipuri Feature Film’ authored by Bobby Wahengbam

Best Film Critic: Giridhar Jha

Special Mention for Film Criticism: Sunil Mishra of Madhya Pradesh

More Bodies Will Fall is a fast paced thriller

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More Bodies Will Fall Cover

Ankush Saikia brings another Arjun Arora thriller this spring. A girl from Northeast is murdered but her murderer could not be tracked. A year after, her father who belonged to NNC at some time in the past, approaches Arjun Arora to solve the case. Hesitantly, Arjun Arora takes up the case. There are several suspects in the case but everyone seems to have a strong alibi. Arjun Arora collects the evidences piece by piece in a systematic way and decides to go to Northeast to collect further evidences. There, things get murkier and Arjun Arora has a brush with near death experiences 3 times. Read Remember Death

I picked up the book looking at the interesting cover and I was not disappointed. The fast paced narrative keeps the reader glued and getting involved in solving the case. Ankush Saikia manages to keep the suspense till the end. The story is craftily designed with a vivid narrative making it a page turner. Even after the case is solved, there are still few loose ends intentionally kept for reader’s imagination. The ending starts with, “Once the police and lawyers get involved, the statements will change. He will come up with an alibi. No, it’s better he faces justice back home.”More Bodies Will Fall Cover

As always, Ankush Saikia is very bold in introducing as many characters as he needs. With every clue that takes the case step further, a new character is introduced but it is well justified to the story. While solving the case, Arjun Arora gets to meet various rebel groups in Nagaland and Manipur. Ankush Saikia also manages to make a political commentary in a mild manner through this thriller. The rebel extremist groups, the unlimited money of corrupt politicians and bureaucrats, the drug mafia. Ankush Saikia touches everything and brings out an interesting novel. Ankush Saikia used the extremist angle in his book Red River Blue Hills but he takes it to altogether a different level and makes the trail all the more interesting.

Also Read Dead Meat

 

Salman Khan Deepest Secret Revealed!!

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We found evidence about this TRUTH ABOUT SALMAN on Gemius, the most visited social media platform in Romania!

 

Lot of people were left laughing when Salman Khan had talked about being a virgin in the Koffee With Karan show a couple of years back. Such was the impact that it soon ended up becoming a rather regularly discussed topic during coffee table discussions. And which is why what we have just gathered from our sources will completely surprise you, possible leave you speechless.

Far from being single, Salman Khan is in fact a married man now. And this is not a recent development. In fact, this happened over two years back – making it one of the most well-kept secret of our times. Speechless? We don’t blame you. We were left zapped too!

One of the closest aides of Salman, who literally travels with him wherever the Dabangg actor goes recently happened to reveal this to an outsider – a slip of tongue that happened after a help gulped a shot or two of tequila at a sub-urban Mumbai 5-star hotel. This outsider, a rather trusted source for us over the years, could not hide her excitement as she filled us up on the entire incident.

And this is what we got to know – Salman Khan indeed married Iulia Vantur in the winter of 2016. If you may recall, there were much media reportage about their impending wedding around November 2016. What the Indian media failed to however discover is that Salman had actually travelled to Romania with Iulia in early 2016 and got married in a quiet ceremony at a church. “His aide revealed that the ceremony was so low key that only the parents of the groom and bride were involved. Salman evidently asked his brothers to stay in India, so that the media did not get curious and start digging information,” tells us our source. That’s exactly what happened when Anushka and Virat left for Italy with their entire families – despite not wanting the media to know, the paparazzi actually figured all the plans. Clearly Salman was smarter.

Not anymore though. Because no sooner did our source give us the information we at Fried Eye activated all our resources to find whatever we could about the wedding.

 

And here’s what we got

The date of wedding was July 24, 2016.

Location –  A church in Bukovina, Romania.

Dress – A regular white gown for Iulia and black Tuxedo for Salman.

What is amazing is that we even managed to find a picture… which was uploaded by one of the members of the church in Gemius – the most used social media platform in Romania.

 

Here’s the link to the picture.

 

Did this make your Sunday? We bet I did! We are all so delighted. BTW, Happy April Fool’s Day! We love you too!

Movie Review: Baaghi 2

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What happens when our Bollywood hero runs through an army of rogues, all armed with heavy artillery, spraying bullets at our man at will? They all get killed, while our man, a true brave heart, shows what being bulletproof actually means. Yes, that’s exactly what happens in Baaghi 2, as Tiger Shroff razes down an entire battalion of goons to the ground. Nope, I am not giving away any spoilers… if you have watched even a few Bollywood films you know exactly why this is not a spoiler. It is EXPECTED! Bhai, Bollywood hai after all!

And that is exactly why probably Baaghi 2 makes the cut. If you are one of the lakhs of people who are excited to watch this latest action adventure starring Tiger Shroff, you already know what you want to watch. You already know what to expect from the film. You already have watched the trailer. If not, I strongly suggest you watch the trailer pronto. No, this film does not promise anything close to realism. And it does not waste a moment in establishing that. Director Ahmed Khan sets it rolling right from the first shot.

Baaghi 2

Remake of the Telugu film Kshanam, Baaghi 2 has no connected with the 2016 prequel except the name of the hero – Ronny. This one in fact has a far better story, which of course has to be credited to the writers of the Telugu film. Where director Ahmed Khan does it making the scale much larger, and at the same time diluting the screenplay with some absolutely unnecessary song and dance routines. There are at least two songs which should have been left out from the final movie, if they wished to keep the screenplay tighter. But then, who cares for a screenplay when you have a hero who can dance and fight like Tiger does.

Tiger Shroff – easily new young generations most promising action star, and a worthy successor to Akshay Kumar, if he upgrades his acting skills, is like an action-director’s sweetest dream. Ripping muscles, stunning acrobatic skills… he is impossible to not watch, and marvel. And with Baaghi 2, Tiger has even managed to emote… wee bit, which gives us hope that he might just get better at delivering his lines. He is still young and has age on his sides.

The rest of the cast is just there because the producer probably decided he can sign them. And yet, Manoj Bajpayee, Randeep Hooda and Deepak Dobriyal manages to please…  Prateik Babbar playing a drug dealer also does well. Disha Patani looks stunning, though she could probably do better with some more work on her acting abilities. There is also a pretty ordinary Darshan Kumar and a bad Shaurya Bhardwaj as a commando.

The screenplay, as mentioned earlier, is compromised by the need to play to the gallery. Yet, it manages to hold the suspense fairly well till a little after the second half. A little girl has disappeared and her mother seeks the help of her ex-lover Ronny to find her. As Ronny investigates, he finds too many loopholes in the story of the mother to a point when it in unclear if the kid ever existed. If the director had it in him to show restraint, Baaghi 2 could have been a far superior film.

Baaghi 2 scores on action…. In fact for the lovers of the genre, the climax of the film would probably be what is termed in pop-lingo ‘paisa-vasool’. Like one of the goons in the film describe the hero, Tiger Shroff is unstoppable. And you have to give it to him there.

Baaghi 2 is nowhere close to being great.  But it is easily Tiger Shroff’s best so far. Director Ahmed Khan returns to direction after over a decade. His last two films were nothing great either, but with Baaghi 2 he takes the level much higher than what Sabir Khan had managed. Watch it just for the thrill of over-the-top action.

More Bodies Will Fall is a more proficient and realistic novel – Ankush Saikia

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More Bodies Will Fall Cover

When a crime happens, the police goes with the standard procedure and try to solve the mystery. In a crime detective thriller, the author use his wild imagination and solves the crime with his storytelling capacities. A crime detective thriller takes us to places we have never been to. Ankush Saikia is one such writer who presents his stories with maximum drama and vivid details. Ankush Saikia is coming up with his book “More Bodies will fall“, which is his 7th published book and 3rd in the Arjun Arora series. The earlier Arjun Arora books Dead Meat and “Remember Death” were widely appreciated.

  • After your book “The girl from Nongrim Hills” was released, Zac O’Yeah has mentioned your book in several platforms and why your book was an interesting milestone in Indian crime writing scene. Do you have any plans on writing more books solely based on a small town?

I have an idea or two for another Shillong book, but it might be a while before I write that. I’m working at present on a book set in and around Tezpur, where I was born, and Tezpur is still a small town in many ways.

  • Arjun Arora is a typical flawed detective who is an outsider to the city where the crime happens, has an army background More Bodies Will Fall Cover - Ankush Saikiaand has emotional baggage. Was it written with the pulp fans in mind?

Not consciously, no. I was looking for a character of that type, and so Arjun Arora must have come together in my mind. Actually, Arora’s slightly boorish friend Bunty Chawla was the main character when I started writing the first book, Dead Meat, but then I realised that a troubled loner like Arora suited the dark tone of the book better than someone like Bunty with his jovial manner and large family. So Bunty became a sort of counterpoint to the brooding Arora.

  • Your book Red River Blue Hills was received well but in my humble opinion it’s a highly under-rated novel. Do you plan to write a sequel of the novel?

Thank you! I actually had a plan for a trilogy when I started writing Red River, Blue Hills, but instead I wrote three Arjun Arora books after that one. It was my second published novel (after Jet City Woman), and I think some of the technical flaws or overwriting in the book actually make it more interesting in its own way. Who knows, I might write a sequel to it sometime, but I guess I’ll need to make a trip into Myanmar before that.

  • Tell us about your latest book, “More Bodies will fall”. Does it intersect the territory of Red River Blue Hills?

More Bodies Will Fall is set in Delhi and parts of the North East (Shillong, Nagaland, Manipur), while Red River, Blue Hills is also set in Delhi and parts of the North East (Shillong, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh); both books also have a Delhi-based male protagonist who grew up in the North East. But that is where the similarities end. Red River was only the third novel I’d written and I think the inexperience shows in places (even though the story itself might have been interesting), while the Arunachal part in the book was loosely based on a trip to Namdapha park many years ago and not on any actual research. More Bodies Will Fall is a detective novel, the third in a series (and the 8th novel I’ve written, and 7th published book), and more technically proficient, and for the parts set in Nagaland and Manipur I went there and spent time for the research so it’s more vivid and realistic in one way. It is about the murder of a girl from the North East in Delhi, and how Detective Arjun Arora uses his knowledge of, and contacts in, the North East to solve the murder.

  • With so many noir based web series like Narcos gaining popularity nowadays, do you believe Indian audience is now ready for more noir based content?

I think a producer would be able to answer that better. There does seem to be more interest in crime/noir stories. In fact, there always has been a Crime & Detective magazine sort of niche for crime stories in India. Maybe they just need to be told/produced/directed better.

  • I remember once you wrote a gripping non-fiction article about a terrorist attack in Kokrajhar. Do you believe what comes out in news is a sugar-coated version of the actual scenario in such cases?

The Kokrajhar incident was quite confusing in that there are still no definite answers as to why it took place. With most other incidents, a more detailed look at the story once the initial reports are out does provide a richer, more nuanced understanding of events, especially in a country as complicated as India.

  • What are you writing now?

As mentioned in the first answer, I’m working on a novel – structured as a real-life narrative – set in and around Tezpur, or set in Sonitpur district of Assam to be more precise. It’s something I’ve been researching for years, starting to write and then abandoning several attempts, and I’ve finally got the hang of the story I believe. It involves family history, childhood memories, the larger history of the area (including the Kameng region of Arunachal), as well as insurgency, the politics of deforestation, and the plight of wildlife. It’s my most ambitious work till date.

  • Do you use any specific software for writing other than Microsoft Word? If yes, tell us why you like it.

To write, I only use Microsoft Word on my laptop, that’s all.

Pari: Reactions

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When I watched the trailer of Pari, I had a feeling that it would be different than other horror flicks made in India. It is a very well edited trailer. I am not a huge fan of Indian horror movies but the trailer made me watch the movie. The fact that a mainstream female Bollywood actor is playing the role of a witch added some value.

The movie starts with Arnab (Parambrata Chatterjee) meeting Piyali (Ritabhari Chakraborty) in an arranged marriage setup.  Arnab’s car meets an accident on their way back to home and a gypsy womn gets killed. Arnab and his family takes her to hospital and inform the police. The police discover the gypsy woman’s daughter Ruksana (Anushka Sharma) chained in a hut. After a series of events, Ruksana comes and wants to stay with Arnab as she feels secure with him. Arnab finds her strange behaviour confusing but looking at her vulnerability he allows her to stay.

Pari starts off really well. It seemed they had a very good plot with them but started struggling midway as how to end the story. The character sketching of the movie was really good. Rajat Kapoor who plays the role of Professor Qasim Ali gets the best part after Anushka Sharma’s role. He is a complex character and you don’t know till the end whether he is trying to end the devil or he is the devil himself. Anushka Sharma really plays well the character and at times you feel like you won’t be able to sit till the end of the movie. Some scenes frightens you so badly that you want to immediately get out of the theatre. The unpredictability in her character makes the movie worth watching. Parambrata Chatterjee also is good in playing the role of a reserved middle class person. 

It is a brave attempt by Director Prosit Roy to make a Bollywood debut with a movie like Pari. The movie however loses its grip towards the later half of the movie where it gets predictable. Looking at the technical side, the cinematography by Jishnu Bhattacharjee is worth mentioning. The movie makers avoid most of the cliches in this movie. Shot mostly in Kolkatta but there are no forced scenes to show the typical Kolkatta we see in Hindi movies. Pari does not use stock background score to frighten the audience. The background movie score of Pari is very carefully designed.

My final verdict would be that the movie could have been better with a tighter script.

Celeb blogs: Masumeh Makhija Tells Us Her Story

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Having grown up amidst the world of films, I had always wondered what it would be like to one day perhaps be a part of it.

I would hear stories of my Grandfather’s travel, trying to further the overseas market for Indian films. First-hand exciting stories of how he set up movie screens in places like the middle of Africa, South America etc. Stories he narrated of how all these people who didn’t even understand our language, would laugh, cry and enjoy our films.

I’d see my uncle and mother work away producing films, today most of them regarded as the iconic ones that they are. From Chashme Badoor to Hiro Hiralal to Khatta Meetha to Jalwa etc. As a child as you can imagine, it was all too exciting and I wanted every part of it.

Albeit I came from ‘film family’ in that sense, it was always the side of the business of films that I was introduced to, then growing up I saw my sister take to direction and that really fascinated me further. My mother used to always tell me; we are bits and pieces of the environment we are around.

However, more than everything behind the camera, what fascinated me were those in front of them, pretending at first and then believing to make others believe this character that was a figment of someone’s imagination and many truths.

It was this thought that led me to want to be in front of the camera in the first place. I started my journey at a very young age. I worked on some great films and equally terrible ones too. But that never bothered me. I wanted to learn and be and believe in these people that I was essaying. At every step, I was discovering something new. I was like a child in a candy store, I wanted it all. A lot many times it didn’t go as planned, but my mother would say, “dust it off and move ahead”. So I did that.

There came a point where the ideals of why I began and the reality of being typecast in terms of the offers I was getting did not see eye to eye. That’s when again the words that “we are bits and pieces of the environment we are around” hit me.

So I travelled extensively, met new people, learnt new things, from dancing to martial arts to gourmet cuisine to learning to be a sommelier to studying languages. In the process, I even completed a couple of European Films. In this process, I learnt so much from the people I met and even today have some of my closest friends who I had met at various places and all these film festivals I had been to. That was the second thing my mother always told me, Travel, because there’s nothing called ‘travelled enough’. So I did that.

In this process, in hindsight, I think this in a way this gave me a deeper understanding of the craft of performance, of wearing new skins and of understanding people at large.

It was in this process that I also realized that the mere prospect of being involved in creating something excited me, be it a character or content as I do now with my digital content creation agency, Short Circuit.

While the search for finding truly exciting characters that I wanted to essay was on, I clearly did not want to slow down being able to create them too. I began writing with my sister and in the meanwhile was consumed in setting my own content creation agency along with my business partner. Short circuit was born and since then there has been no looking back. We worked tirelessly and I am so happy with everything that we have been a part of, over a 100 unique content pieces and digital ads. So many crazy, fun, honest, real and heart full characters. Imagine my excitement.

My excitement to be in front of the camera after now having been so engrossed also behind it, working towards creating all these pieces of stories and characters for the content we were producing, was sparked when I heard the character of Varsha. My character from my upcoming film 3 Storeys.

Upon receiving the script, the connection to the character was instant and electric. I deeply felt the angst and layers of contradiction that the character of Varsha required. It was clear that I had to go in for it.

Clad in a borrowed, torn saree, with no make-up, I walked into the Excel office, where no one had seen me for years, and waited patiently to be called in. The reaction was unforgettable. The child in me was so very happy; the child that had decided that this is what she wanted to do. I loved the  “Oh you poor thing, what has become of you!” look I got. It was priceless.

Arjun Mukerjee, my director of 3 Storeys took time out to take the audition himself. In the middle of complete chaos, he very sweetly sat with me and explained what he was looking for, and how he saw the film and Varsha. Funnily enough, it was also how I saw her. The energy and understanding were just perfect. I think the last time I felt this excited was with Maqbool, with Vishal Bhardwaj.

I began my audition; remember I had not done this in years now. By the end of the scene, I couldn’t stop crying. Uncontrollably at that. People in that room did not know what to do, pacify me, ask me to leave, hand me a tissue… it was very amusing. Arjun’s eyes were moist, and said that it was the best audition he had seen. I still remember I was elated, not only because I had the role I wanted, but because the travel and the learning allowed me to channel the environments I had been around and from bits and pieces of people I had met. ‘you are the sum of your experiences’

3 Storeys was undoubtedly one of my most challenging of roles and films, purely for the phenomenal talent that is also a part of it. From Richa to Pulkit to Renuka to Sharman to a younger new generation of actors in Aisha and Ankit et al. On set, I remember, I’d have these thought pangs thinking to myself ‘This is what contentment feels like.”

I like it this way, being able to create content with short circuit and then when there’s a role or character that awakens the Kid in me, who always wanted to be an actor, jump in front of the camera and let her be.

In hindsight, I am fortunate to have the three best advice given to me, “we are bits and pieces of the environment we are around, so don’t stagnate”, “There’s nothing called travelled enough” and most importantly, something I have learned to believe in “At the end of it all, have an interesting story to tell”. Your story.

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