Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Epic Web Series ‘Heeramandi: The Diamond Bazaar’ Premieres May 1st on Netflix Amidst Glittering Drone Light Show Spectacle

Mumbai, Acclaimed filmmaker Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s highly anticipated web series “Heeramandi: The Diamond Bazaar” is set to debut on the streaming giant Netflix on May 1.

The unveiling of the premiere date took place during a spectacular drone light show event at the Mahalaxmi Race Course in South Mumbai.

A glimpse into the captivating universe of “Heeramandi: The Diamond Bazaar”, marking Bhansali’s foray into the digital realm, was showcased through formations created by drones against the evening sky.

The event witnessed the presence of the series’ ensemble cast including Manisha Koirala, Sonakshi Sinha, Richa Chadha, Sharmin Segal, and Sanjeeda Sheikh, along with Prerna Singh, CEO of Bhansali Productions, and Tanya Bami, Director of Series, Netflix India.

Described as an epic narrative of love, authority, vengeance, and liberation, the series delves into the cultural intricacies of ‘Heeramandi’, an opulent precinct, narrating tales of courtesans and their patrons within the tumultuous backdrop of India’s struggle for independence in the 1940s.

Reflecting on the creation of the dream-like ambiance in “Heeramandi: The Diamond Bazaar”, Sinha remarked, “We were completely engrossed in his world, it was surreal, magnificent, and utterly captivating. As actors, it was an unparalleled experience.”

She further added, “The lesson we learned from working with him is that regardless of one’s proficiency, he always extracts something superior from you.”

Chadha, who collaborated with Bhansali in 2013’s “Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-Leela”, commended the director for his meticulousness.

“… Nothing can be approached with half-heartedness. Every aspect, be it dialogue delivery, performance, choreography, music, everything demands your utmost dedication. He even pays attention to every background actor. It’s an enriching experience to collaborate with him. We all evolved as performers,” she expressed.

“I believe his dedication to his craft is unparalleled,” added Koirala, who collaborated with Bhansali on his directorial debut “Khamoshi: The Musical” in 1996.

Aditi Rao Hydari, another star of “Heeramandi: The Diamond Bazaar”, was absent from the event due to her wedding to longtime partner, actor Siddharth, earlier in the day.

The series, conceptualized by Moin Beg, is helmed and produced by Bhansali himself.

Music Maestro A. R. Rahman To Work With Blessy On ‘The Goat Life’

Music maestro A. R. Rahman has expressed his deep joy working with director Blessy, whose latest venture ‘The Goat Life’ is all set to hit the theatres on March 28.

The film is being released in Hindi, Malayalam, Tamil, Telugu, and Kannada.

Speaking about his journey in the film, Rahman said, it is an honour to work with such a passionate man as Blessy, who believes in cinema, goodwill, stories and humanity.

“Working with him taught me so much because he is a very patient person. I want to thank you for coming and supporting us. This movie is a story of all of us, we are all struggling in some kind of way,” said Rahman, who was in the city here coinciding with the music launch of the film.

“For some people the struggle is internal, in the movie, the struggle of the hero is being trapped in a desert, but still, a lot of people are relating to this. Returning to the Malayalam film industry, I personally feel like I have come back home. Coming back in this way for such a special movie with such great people to support this, it is such an honour, and it has been a very interesting journey,” said Rahman.

Talking about the music of the film, the hero of the film Prithviraj Sukumaran said he had the privilege of working in two films that Rahman sir had composed.

“Both the films had amazing music, but, I have done over 120 films and I do not remember another time when I have heard the score of a film after having done it entirely and then wished that I had the score with me when I was acting. I wish I could hear the music before each take now, but that is the process of cinema, you don’t get to do that. I would like to thank you for what you have done for the film, you are as big a character as Najeeb is in The Goat Life. It’s an amazing piece of work,” said Prithviraj.

The film is based on the novel ‘Aadujeevitham’, one of the most popular best sellers ever from the Malayalam literary world, which has been translated in 12 different languages, including those that are foreign.

Penned by noted writer Benyamin and it follows the true story of the life of a young man Najeeb, who in the early 90s migrates from the lush green shores of Kerala in search of the fortunes in a land abroad. (IANS)

Karisma Kapoor Speaks At India Conference At Harvard

Bollywood actress Karisma Kapoor was a speaker at the India Conference at the prestigious Harvard Business School in Boston, Massachusetts. Her sister, actress Kareena Kapoor also joined her for an online chat. Sharing the photos, Karisma thanked the team for having her. BFF Malaika Arora, Natasha Poonawalla, Sanjay Kapoor, Maheep Kapoor and others congratulated Lolo on the honor.

On Monday, Karisma took to her Instagram and shared pictures from the Harvard Business School in Boston. The actress spoke about the soft power of Bollywood. In the pictures, she can be seen dressed in a beige Indian attire and a long coat.

Karisma wrote in the caption: “It was an absolute pleasure and honor to be a speaker at the India Conference at Harvard. Shout out to @kareenakapoorkhan for joining us for an impromptu but insightful chat. Thank you to @sunnysandhu24 and team #HarvardIndiaConference for being so wonderful. This was truly special.”

The post also garnered mixed reactions. A troll commented, “So many female scientists, achievers, entrepreneurs this country has produced.. yet Harvard is inviting those who lip-synced to songs and danced around trees to motivate them… it’s sad and hilarious.”Defending the actress, a fan hit back, “You can write a paragraph but cannot read a few words on that screen. It was about Bollywood so why would they invite scientists or entrepreneurs?”

An X user called out Harvard Business School for inviting Karisma Kapoor to speak on ‘soft power of Bollywood’ despite the fact that she isn’t a graduate.

However, another user defended Karisma by commenting, “Uninformed Bewfkoof aurat (dumb woman)! It may interest you to know that Harvard University offers a prominent undergraduate degree program known as ‘Art, Film, and Visual Studies.’ This information is provided to address any gaps in your awareness.”

Another user posted, “From when did graduation became equivalent of wisdom? Why is a woman bashing another woman? (laughing with tears emoji) Jealous?” A third user echoed the thought and commented, “Knowledge is much more than certificates and degrees – at the time when she was active in Bollywood she was way ahead of his time as compare to others actresses #KarishmaKapoor.”

Meanwhile, on the work front, the actress will be soon seen in the upcoming streaming thriller film ‘Murder Mubarak’. The film will drop on Netflix on March 15. (IANS)

DOIN’ IT, Starring Lilly Singh to World Premiere at SXSW 2024

Anita Verma-Lallian is the founder of Arizona’s first female and South Asian-owned film production company, Camelback Productions – the first company of its kind with a focus on South Asian storytelling. Camelback Productions’ first feature film, Doin’ It featuring Lilly Singh, will world premiere at South by Southwest 2024. Anita is also a real estate developer and CEO/Founder of Arizona Land Consulting, where she provides full concierge services for land seekers and developers of all types of sites and assists investors in discovering viable properties in Arizona. Anita has been named one of So Scottsdale’s People to Watch, an AZBusiness Leader by AZBusiness Magazine, a Women in Power by Commercial Executive Magazine, and one of Modern Luxury Scottsdale’s Dynamic Women in 2021. 

Doin’ It is a production with Likely Story, Unicorn Island and Camelback Productions, in association with 10mK and Elevation.

  

DOIN’ IT Starring Lilly Singh to World Premiere at SXSW 2024 2Box Office Guru Media will be presenting a panel at Canada House (Swan Dive, 615 Red River St, Austin) on Monday, March 11 from 3pm-4pm. Title and description below:

 

Manifesting Mainstream South Asian Stories

 

South Asians are developing a much larger footprint in the North American film industry with representation growing faster and broader than ever. Canada has especially been supportive of South Asian storytellers and our panel of experts will break down challenges, recent gains and how to keep building on this exciting momentum. Join industry mavens Gitesh Pandya and Rohi Mirza Pandya from Box Office Guru Media as they expertly navigate the evolving realms of filmmaking with the multi-talented Doin’ It star/producer/writer Lilly Singh and producer Anita Verma Lallian with an Introduction from bestselling author and 10x SXSW Featured speaker Rohit Bhargava.

ZEE5 Global announces the Premiere of Pankaj Tripathi starrer, ‘Mai Atal Hoon’

ZEE5 Global, the world’s largest streaming platform for South Asian content, announced the world digital premiere of the biographical drama, ‘Main Atal Hoon’ on March 14. Starring the versatile National award-winning actor Pankaj Tripathi in the role of former Indian Prime Minister Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee and directed by the acclaimed award-winning filmmaker Ravi Jadhav, ‘Main Atal Hoon’ takes viewers on an extraordinary journey through the life and political legacy of one of India’s most iconic and illustrious leaders.

‘Main Atal Hoon’ traces the political journey of this tall parliamentarian of over four decades, who was conferred the Bharat Ratna in December 2014. It was Atalji who prepared the foundations of an India that is ready to take on the mantle of global leadership in the 21st century as he irreversibly changed India’s place in the world. Vajpayee’s legacy continues to serve as a guiding light for present and future political leaders as in his simplicity and integrity, in his dignity and empathy, and a sense of personal non-attachment to the office, he became an inspiration for the youth.

From arriving at the Parliament on a bullock cart to protesting against the fuel price hike to representing India at the UN as an Opposition leader, Vajpayee has left behind a political legacy that few can rival. Atal Bihari Vajpayee had a decisive and irreversible effect on India’s strategic thinking and was instrumental in the country’s many strategic decisions including putting India firmly on the nuclear weapons map of the world, setting up a telecom revolution, successfully concluding and winning the Kargil war, among many other victories.

The film, produced by Vinod Bhanushali, Sandeep Singh, and Kamlesh Bhanushali under the banner of Bhanushali Studios Limited and Legend Studios, sheds light on the multifaceted persona of Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee, capturing his essence not just as a political figure but also as a gentleman with infinite patience, an uncompromising patriot, a gifted orator, and a leader who was way ahead of his times. The film will have its world digital premiere on March 14 exclusively on ZEE5 Global.

Archana Anand, Chief Business Officer at ZEE5 Global said, “There’s a notable shift in South Asian content consumption, with a growing demand for real-life narratives inspired by iconic figures. In line with this trend, our upcoming title ‘Main Atal Hoon’ portrays the remarkable life of former Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, brought to life by Pankaj Tripathi, offering viewers a moving tale of an illustrious leader.”

Lead actor, Pankaj Tripathi said, “It was a real honour for me to get to portray one of the most illustrious leaders of our country who laid the foundation for our country’s success. While I was aware of Atal Ji and his remarkable political journey, this film introduced me to many more inspiring qualities and facets of his life which have now left an indelible mark on my life. Portraying Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee has truly been one of the highlights of my career and for that, I am grateful. Now that the film is marking its world digital debut on ZEE5 Global, I urge all Indians across the world to watch the remarkable story of this simple man and take back many lessons”.

Director Ravi Jadhav said, “Pankaj Tripathi was the only choice for ‘Main Atal Hoon’ as he has the soft qualities of this iconic man, and I am glad that he agreed to be a part of this film as his involvement truly made this journey even more remarkable. Main Hoon Atal is our little tribute to Atal ji – an inspiring leader who was way ahead of his time and now, with the film releasing on ZEE5 Global, I sincerely hope that the film reaches the mind and the heart of every Indian across the globe as there is so much to learn and imbibe from this visionary man”.

Producer Vinod Bhanushali said, “We are immensely proud to have been able to bring to life the journey and legacy of such an inspiring man and India’s 3-time Prime Minister, Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee. And what made the project even more special was the chance to work with such talented individuals, including Pankaj Tripathi and Ravi Jadhav. I believe that our combined dedication and passion for this project deeply connected and resonated with the people and now with the film’s world digital premiere of ZEE5 Global, we are hoping to strike a chord with many more people across the world”.

ZEE5 Global is the digital entertainment destination launched by Zee Entertainment Enterprises Limited (ZEEL), a global Media and Entertainment powerhouse. The platform launched across 190+ countries in October 2018 and has content across 18 languages: Hindi, English, Bengali, Malayalam, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Marathi, Oriya, Bhojpuri, Gujarati, Punjabi, including six international languages Malay, Thai, Bahasa, Urdu, Bangla and Arabic. ZEE5 Global is home to 200,000+ hours of on-demand content. The platform brings together the best of Originals, Movies and TV Shows, Music, Health and Lifestyle content in one destination. In addition, ZEE5 Global offers features like 15 navigational languages, content download options, seamless video playback and Voice Search. The platform also recently launched ZEE5 Global Add-ons in the US where one can access and subscribe to multiple South Asian streaming platforms like Chaupal, Oho Gujarati, NammaFlix, Simply South and iStream all in one single destination, ZEE5.

Tamil Actor Vijay Launches Political Party

With the launch of his political party Tamizhaga Vetri Kazhagam earlier this week, ‘Thalapathy’ Vijay has joined the long list of Tamil actors joining politics. In a letter, he said that the party would contest the 2026 Tamil Nadu State Assembly elections.

Vijay’s entry into active politics was announced with the clarification that his target is the 2026 state election. He said that he wouldn’t be participating in the upcoming national election in any way. Given how often his characters win on screen, it wasn’t entirely a surprise his political party will be called ‘Tamilaka Vetri Kazhagam’ (TVK), which roughly translates to Tamil Nadu Victory Association.

Fans of ‘Thalapathy (General)’, as Vijay is known to them, celebrated in the streets and on social media. The ruling DMK and the opposition BJP conveyed their best wishes to the actor on his new career path.

A bumpy road for stars

  • Tamil Nadu has a long history of cinema stars in politics. MGR, K Karunanidhi and Jayalalithaa ruled state politics for about 50 years.
  • However, several stars tried their hands in recent times but not with great success.
  • Kamal Haasan started the Makkal Needhi Maiam. Rajinikanth formed the Rajini Makkal Mandram in the previous decade.
  • While Kamal Haasan is still politically active, Rajinikanth abandoned politics due to health issues.
  • Vijayakanth, who passed away in December, formed the Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam (DMDK) in 2005, became MLA twice and served as LoP during 2011-16 but power eluded him.
  • Tamil Nadu CM Stalin’s son Udaynidhi has starred in films and is a sports minister who isn’t averse to raking up controversy. He’s also the heir apparentin the DMK.

Can Vijay be the disrupter?

  • Vijay, currently doing a film titled ‘GOAT’ and will do one more before he retiresfrom films for a full-time role in politics, enters politics when the AIADMK seems divided, the BJP is trying to make inroads and the DMK is attempting to cement its hold.
  • The question is whether he gets a starring role or will have to settle for a guest role.
  • The actor said administrative malpractices, corrupt political culture and a divisive political culture were obstacles to the state’s unity and progress.

A statement issued by the new political party stated: “You are all aware of the current political climate. Administrative malpractices and corrupt political culture on the one hand, and a divisive political culture which strives to divide our people on the lines of caste and religion on the other hand. Everyone, especially, in Tamil Nadu is yearning for a fundamental political change that can lead to a selfless, transparent, caste-free, visionary, corruption-free and efficient administration.”

Tamil Actor Vijay Launches Political Party (MInt)
Picture: Mint

Joseph Vijay Chandrasekhar, known as Vijay, is an Indian actor, dancer, playback singer and philanthropist who works predominantly in Tamil cinema and also appeared in other Indian languages films. Referred to by fans and media as “Thalapathy” (commander), Vijay is the highest paid actor in Tamil cinema. He has significant fan following globally. He has won numerous awards, including eight Vijay Awards by Star India, three Tamil Nadu State Film Awards by Government of Tamil Nadu, and a SIIMA Award. He has been included several times in the Forbes India Celebrity 100 list, based on the earnings of Indian celebrities.

Vijay said, “As far as I am concerned, politics is not just another profession; it is a sacred service to the people… I wish to fully immerse myself in politics for public service after completing my commitments to another film I have already committed to, without causing any disruption to party activities. This is what I consider my gratitude and duty to the people of Tamil Nadu.”

Reforming Bollywood: Screenwriters Seek Fairer Contracts to Improve Working Conditions

Crafting stories for the big screen in India’s Bollywood can be a solitary and often financially unrewarding pursuit. The dream of landing a breakthrough project, where a screenwriter receives due credit and financial compensation, keeps many in the industry driven. However, the harsh reality is that until such a milestone is achieved, money and opportunities remain elusive, primarily due to what writers claim are unfair contracts designed to favor producers.

Anjum Rajabali, a senior member of the Screenwriters Association (SWA), India’s counterpart to the Writers Guild of America (WGA), which boasts over 55,000 members nationwide, sheds light on the challenges writers face. Rajabali points to what he describes as “harsh contracts,” characterized by arbitrary termination clauses and meager fees, especially for newcomers. Furthermore, he asserts that these contracts often fail to remunerate writers for reworking drafts and grant producers the authority to determine whether a writer deserves credit for their contributions. Some agreements even go so far as to prohibit writers from seeking union intervention in the event of a dispute with the producer.

Rajabali, a vocal advocate for writers’ rights, emphasizes the need for change. He explains, “Most contracts have arbitrary termination clauses and offer paltry fees, especially to newcomers.” He highlights the power dynamics within the industry, stating, “They also don’t pay writers for reworking drafts and give producers the right to decide whether a writer should be credited for their work or not.” Rajabali points out the restrictive nature of some contracts, noting, “some contracts even ban writers from approaching the union if there’s a dispute with the producer.”

The SWA, a longstanding proponent of writers’ rights, has recently embarked on a more assertive approach to address the perceived imbalance of power between producers and writers. In December, the association convened a meeting to deliberate on the modifications writers desire in their contracts. Over 100 writers participated, including notable Bollywood figures such as Abbas Tyrewala and Sriram Raghavan.

Rajabali outlines the strategy moving forward, stating, “The plan now is to invite producers to sit across the table and work with us to make contracts more equitable.” He suggests that many producers recognize the need for improved compensation and job security for writers. The SWA’s initiative signals a shift towards collaboration, fostering a dialogue to bring about positive changes in the industry.

The BBC sought input from the Producers Guild of India regarding these concerns but, as of now, has not received a response. The industry awaits the producers’ perspective on the matter, as the conversation around fairer contracts gains momentum.

The challenges faced by Bollywood screenwriters highlight the urgent need for contract reform. The Screenwriters Association’s proactive approach and the willingness of influential writers to engage in the conversation demonstrate a collective effort to reshape the landscape of the industry. As the industry navigates these discussions, the hope is that a collaborative effort between writers and producers will lead to contracts that better reflect the contributions and rights of the creative minds behind the screenplays that captivate audiences worldwide.

First Kali Jotta, now Buhe Bariyan, watch Punjab’s Fearless Sheroes unleash – Now streaming on ZEE5 Global’s Add-on offering in the United States

Global, 20th December 2023: ZEE5 Global, the world’s largest streaming platform for South Asian content, has announced the addition of Buhe Bariyan in their US market, yet another hit-comedy title aimed at expanding its Add-ons content library. The newly released Add-on Chaupal aims to provide customers in the US a wide selection of South Asian content in languages like Punjabi, Bhojpuri, and Haryanvi.

Buhe Bariyan, the movie, is not just a cinematic treat but is also an inspiration for all those women who are looking for some sort of strength in their lives. The movie is about the lives of a group of women, played by ace artists from the film industry namely – Rubina Bajwa, Gurpreet Bhangu, Nirmal Rishi, Seema Kaushal, Rupinder Rupi, Dharminder Kaur, Baljinder Kaur, Malkeet Rauni, and Jaswinder Brar, who have in some way, or the other been abused by either their partners or abused by the societies or in their marital homes. The actors have played their parts perfectly and one is sure that their roles can be resonated with a lot of women across. The core of the film has Neeru Bajwa who plays the role of Prem Kaur, an upright police officer who gets involved in the lives of these women and the story takes on from there.

The movie brings up a lot of important issues that have crippled society where women are looked down upon and not treated well. Neeru Bajwa starrer, Kali Jotta, which was released earlier this year, and it is now streaming on OTT platform Chaupal, also showcased a portrayal of women who could neither speak up about their traumas nor take any action as victims of domestic abuse.

Archana Anand, Chief Business Officer, ZEE5 Global mentioned, “Punjabi movies have always delivered a strong performance for us in the US. Our Add-on partner Chaupal’s large Punjabi content library now added in, opens up a huge gamut of content options for our viewers in the US. Buhe Bariyan weaves a powerful narrative, and we are confident that the addition of this title is bound to delight our audiences.”

Nitin Gupta, Chief Content Officer, Chaupal remarked, “In the spirit of year-end festivities, we extend our heartfelt gift to esteemed audiences in Punjab and beyond. Watch an array of big releases from the year gone by exclusively on Chaupal, that can be enjoyed by all. Among these treasures, Buhe Bariyan stands out as a delightful offering that touches on an important issue of society and invites families to partake in its timeless charm and to immerse themselves in the joy of classic cinema with us.”

Users can download the ZEE5 Global app from Google Play Store / iOS App Store. It is available on Roku devices, Apple TVs, Android TVs, Amazon Fire TV and Samsung Smart TVs. Users can also access ZEE5 Global on www.ZEE5.com

About ZEE5 Global

ZEE5 Global is the world’s leading South Asian streaming platform. It brings together the largest offering of content across 18 languages: Hindi, Punjabi, Gujarati, Telugu, Kannada, Tamil, Bengali, Malayalam, , Marathi, Oriya and Bhojpuri, and  six international languages Malay, Thai, Bahasa, Urdu, Bangla and Arabic wigth all content being subtitled in English, ZEE5 Global is home to 200,000+ hours of on-demand content. The platform brings together the best of Originals, Movies and TV Shows, Music, Health and Lifestyle content in one destination. In addition, ZEE5 Global offers features like 15 navigational languages, content download options, seamless video playback and Voice Search. ZEE5 Global now also launches ZEE5 Add-ons where you can access and subscribe to multiple South Asian streaming platforms like Chaupal, Oho Gujarati, Namma Flix. Simply South and iStream all in one single destination, ZEE5.

ZEE5 Global Twitter: https://twitter.com/ZEE5GlobalCorp

ZEE5 Global LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/ZEE5 Global/

Media Contacts

Srabani Sen

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SRK Tops IMDb List Of 2023’s Most Popular Indian Stars

Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan is leading the pack in the 2023 IMDb top 10 list of most popular Indian stars. In 2023, the Badshah of Bollywood gave two major blockbusters, Jawan and Pathaan, which are respectively the No. 2 and 3 biggest Hindi movies ever worldwide.

Riding high on the back-to-back success of “Pathaan” and “Jawan”, superstar Shah Rukh Khan has emerged as numero uno on IMDb’s top 10 list of most popular Indian stars of 2023, which is otherwise dominated by female stars like Alia Bhatt, Deepika Padukone and Wamiqa Gabbi.

IMDb has announced its list of the year’s most popular Indian stars, with Shah Rukh Khan landing in first place. IMDb determines the star rankings by page views worldwide. Scroll down for the full list.

Also making the cut high on the list are Alia Bhatt and Deepika Padukone. Bhatt, whose credits include Oscar winner RRR, this year starred in Netflix’s Heart of Stone with Gal Gadot and Jamie Dornan, and Karan Johar’s Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani.

SRK Tops IMDb List Of 2023’s Most Popular Indian Stars (The Hindu)
Picture: The Hindu

Veteran actress Padukone was seen this year with Shah Rukh Khan in both Jawan and Pathaan. On deck, she has Siddharth Anand’s Fighter also starring Hrithik Roshan, and Rohit Shetty’s Singham Again with Akshay Kumar (who appears at No. 9 on the list released today).

Alia said: “I thank my audience for bringing me to the position that I am at. While I hope to continue entertaining them, I am filled with only love and gratitude. I also promise to keep working hard and bringing more inspiring stories and characters on screen.”

In the fourth position is actress Wamiqa Gabbi, who said: “This is my debut on the IMDb Most Popular Indian Stars list, and I am delighted! The fact that IMDb represents the sentiment of the global audience makes this even more special for me. I’ve had a busy year working across genres and languages, and it makes me happy and grateful that my fans have appreciated that. I look forward to working with the same dedication on my upcoming projects and returning the love showered upon me,” she added.

The talented actress has had an outstanding year, marked by the success of four massively popular projects that have firmly established her as one of the most sought-after new faces in the entertainment industry. Wamiqa has showcased her versatility, leaving audiences and critics alike calling her one of the most promising new talents that has made it big in 2023.

Notably, Wamiqa has emerged as a powerful force, trailing only behind the trio of Shah Rukh Khan, Alia Bhatt and Deepika Padukone. Her meteoric rise in 2023 has solidified her status, with fans eagerly anticipating her every move.

“I am truly humbled and elated to find myself among the esteemed names on IMDb’s Annual 10 Most Popular Celebrities List for 2023. This journey has been nothing short of a dream, and the love and support from audiences around the world have been overwhelming. This year has been a whirlwind of opportunities and learning, and I am immensely grateful for the chance to collaborate with incredibly talented individuals and especially all my directors. To be ranked as the 4th most popular celebrity of the year is both an honor and a responsibility,” said an elated Wamiqa.

She added, “This is my debut on the IMDb Most Popular Indian Stars list, and I am delighted! The fact that IMDb represents the sentiment of the global audience makes this even more special for me. From Vishal Bhardwaj’s spy thriller Khufiya and detective drama Charlie Chopra & the Mystery of Solang Valley and Vikramaditya Motwane’s period drama Jubilee, to the heartwarming web series Modern Love Chennai, and as well as the Punjabi film Kali Jotta, I’ve had a busy year working across genres and languages, and it makes me happy and grateful that my fans have appreciated that. I look forward to working with the same dedication on my upcoming projects and returning the love showered upon me.”

Looking ahead to 2024, Wamiqa shows no signs of slowing down, gearing up for her next venture alongside Varun Dhawan in a film produced by Atlee. Additionally, she is set to star in Shiddat 2 and a major South Indian project titled Genie. With this promising lineup ahead, Wamiqa is poised to continue her ascent as one of the industry’s brightest new stars.

Shah Rukh’s “Jawan” co-stars Nayanthara, who features in the fifth spot, and Vijay Sethupathi also feature in the list. Nayanthara made her Hindi cinema debut with the movie, while Sethupathi (who is on number 10) was the main antagonist. He also played a cop in the Prime Video series “Farzi”.

Nayanthara, Tamannaah Bhatia, Kareena Kapoor Khan and Sobhita Dhulipala are placed on the fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth spots respectively. Then comes Bollywood’s ‘Khiladi’ Akshay Kumar, who stands ninth. After Akshay, in the tenth spot is star Vijay Sethupathi.

All the three stars had major wins on streaming platforms — Tamannaah in “Lust Stories 2”, Kareena in “Jaane Jaan” and Sobhita in “Made in Heaven 2”.

Actor Akshay Kumar’s much-discussed cameo in “OMG 2”, “Mission Raniganj” and “Selfiee” helped him land in the ninth spot on the ranking by the website, a go-to place for information on movies, TV and celebrities.

“From Shah Rukh Khan’s return to the big screen with two blockbusters, to Alia Bhatt starring in international thriller ‘Heart of Stone’, the IMDb Most Popular Indian Stars of 2023 list reveals the Indian stars who generated the most fan excitement and engagement across the IMDb global audience this year,” said Yaminie Patodia, head of IMDb India, in a statement.

“Our unique year-end top 10 list is compiled based on the page views of hundreds of millions of fans globally who rely on IMDb to discover, decide what to watch, and learn more about their favorite stars,” Patodia added.

Bhatt, who came in second after her “Dear Zindagi” co-star Shah Rukh, thanked her fans.

“The IMDb Most Popular Indian Stars of 2023 list reveals the Indian stars that generated the most fan excitement and engagement across the IMDb global audience this year,” said Yaminie Patodia, head of IMDb India. “Our unique year-end top 10 list is compiled based on the page views of hundreds of millions of fans globally who rely on IMDb to discover, decide what to watch, and learn more about their favorite stars.”

IMDb Top 10 Most Popular Indian Stars of 2023

  1. Shah Rukh Khan
  2. Alia Bhatt
  3. Deepika Padukone
  4. Wamiqa Gabbi
  5. Nayanthara
  6. Tamannaah Bhatia
  7. Kareena Kapoor Khan
  8. Sobhita Dhulipala
  9. Akshay Kumar
  10. Vijay Sethupathi

“EID MUBARAK,” A Short Film Feasts Its Eyes On The Oscars Race

Director Mahnoor Euceph’s interest in exploring entertaining stories about the South Asian diaspora through the female gaze, led her to direct the live action short film Eid Mubarak. In this award-winning film, a privileged six-year-old Pakistani girl embarks on a mission to save her beloved pet goat from being eaten on the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Azha, only to learn the meaning of sacrifice.

Eid Mubarak won the Jury Award for Live Action Short at the New York International Children’s Film Festival, qualifying the film for Oscars consideration this year. It has played over 40 film festivals including CAAMFest, SXSW Sydney, Tasveer, Atlanta ShortFest, and ShortShorts Film Festival & Asia. It won both the Jury Award for Narrative Short and the Audience Award for Short Film at the 2023 Austin Asian American Film Festival. It took the prize for Best Short at Big Eyes, Big Minds Singapore International Children’s Film Festival 2023, and three top awards including the jury award for Best Live Action Short at the 2023 Children’s Film Festival Seattle. It took home the Best Film award at both Mosquers Film Festival and Centre Film Festival this fall. The film currently holds a total of 13 wins.

Euceph’s work is injected with humor and features a hyper stylized sensibility informed by design and fine art. Her films seek to decolonize the mind and encourage audiences to engage in radical self love.

Ouat Media announced today that Eid Mubarak will be available in select territories on KIS KIS – keep it short, which will launch the film on YouTube on November 18, 2023, and in early 2024 on the streaming service Kanopy, the on-demand streaming video platform for public and academic libraries. Based out of Toronto, Canada, Ouat Media, a wholly owned subsidiary of the independent Canadian media group Channel Zero, specializes in distribution and worldwide sales of short films with a particular focus on titles by industry’s rising stars. Celebrating its 17th anniversary this year, Ouat Media has represented three Oscar® winners and 12 Oscar® nominees.

Eid Mubarak has a high-profile Los Angeles special screening set for Friday, November 17 at WME Screening Room presented by Gold House, the preeminent community for Asian Pacific creatives, entrepreneurs, and social impact leaders as well as partners South Asians in Entertainment, Rickshaw Film Foundation and 1497.

Additionally, the film has an awards campaign led by Adam Segal of The 2050 Group, the publicity agency that had 20 Oscar shortlisted and 7 Oscar nominated films in the 2022-23 awards season. Rohi Mirza Pandya is an executive producer on the film with her leading industry consultancy Box Office Guru Media. She is an award-winning Creative Producer in film, television, and theater for over twenty years.

In Eid Mubarak, Iman, a privileged Pakistani girl, goes with her family to buy a goat, as is the tradition in Pakistan before the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Azha. She picks the cutest one, and takes it home. She spends all of her time with the goat, whom she names Barfi, after her favorite Pakistani dessert. Soon, however, she realizes that Barfi is not a pet, but a goat being raised for slaughter. She makes a plan to save Barfi’s life before he can be sacrificed on Eid. Along the way, through the help of her family and friends, she learns the true meaning of sacrifice, and the reason behind Eid al-Azha.

Director Mahnoor Euceph said: “I made this film as a love letter to the country I once called home, to the religion that taught me how to be a human with humanity, and to my family who are the beginning and end of everything. For non-Muslims, I hope this film is educational. For Muslims, I hope it is reflective. And I hope, for everyone, it is a reminder of childhood, and that magical, wondrous world we leave behind when we grow up.”

“EID MUBARAK ” A Short Film Feasts Its Eyes On The Oscars Race

Euceph is a Pakistani-American writer and director. She immigrated to Los Angeles from Pakistan when she was eight years old. She graduated Summa Cum Laude from UCLA in 2017, with a major in Design | Media Arts and a minor in Film, TV, and Digital Media. During her BA, she traveled abroad to work with Pakistan’s sole Oscar-winner, filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy.

In 2021, she received her Master’s of Fine Arts from USC’s School of Cinematic Arts in Film and Television Production, with an emphasis in comedy writing and directing, and production design. During her MFA, she worked as Art Director on American Eid, Disney’s first ever Muslim story, which is currently streaming on Disney+. In 2022, she participated in the Islamic Scholarship Fund’s inaugural Muslim Centered Writers’ Lab, with support from Extracurricular and The Black List, for her feature film, Queen of Diamonds.

Her professional directorial debut, Eid Mubarak, was produced by Creator+ as part of their inaugural Flip the Script Short Film Fund, and is screening in festivals all over the country. It won the Jury Award for Live Action Short at the New York International Children’s Film Festival, making the film Oscar-qualifying. Eid Mubarak is currently in consideration for Best Live Action Short Film at the 96th Academy Awards.

Eid Mubarak is written, directed and produced by Mahnoor Euceph, Producers Kamil Chima, Ben O’Keefe and Selena Leoni. Executive producer Rohi Mirza Pandya. Director of photography Arlene Müller. Production designer Hashim Ali.

Glamorous Start to Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival 2023 with Star-Studded Opening Ceremony

The Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival’s opening ceremony was a glamorous event held at the Nita Mukesh Ambani Cultural Centre. It attracted a constellation of stars, with notable attendees including Priyanka Chopra, Sonam Kapoor, Rajkummar Rao, Kamal Haasan, and Sunny Leone, among others.

Priyanka Chopra, who also serves as the Chairperson of the Mumbai Film Festival, graced the occasion with her presence. She arrived in India for the event and was spotted wearing an elegant white gown adorned with golden stripes, complemented by a matching cape. Priyanka shared snapshots from her photoshoot on her Instagram account, captioning it with “Opening night ❤️?? Jio Mami Mumbai Film Festival @mumbaifilmfestival.” In the photos, she can be seen posing next to a grand black piano. Her husband, Nick Jonas, left a fiery comment on the post, though he didn’t accompany her to India this time. Their daughter, Malti, was seen traveling with Priyanka.

Sonam Kapoor also graced the opening ceremony, dressed in a chic black outfit reminiscent of Audrey Hepburn. The star-studded event further featured prominent figures from the entertainment industry, including actors Kamal Haasan, Rajkummar Rao, Sunny Leone, Tara Sutaria, Tejasswi Prakash, Avneet Kaur, Saiee Manjrekar, Raashi Khanna, Utkarsh Sharma, and Palak Tiwari.

Regarding MAMI 2023, this year’s festival opened with Hansal Mehta’s detective drama “The Buckingham Murders,” starring Kareena Kapoor. The festival lineup includes notable films like Aparna Sen’s “The Rapist,” featuring Konkona Sensharma and Arjun Rampal, Anurag Kashyap’s crime thriller “Kennedy,” with Sunny Leone and Rahul Bhat, and Varun Grover’s directorial debut, “All India Rank.” The festival also features international titles such as Bradley Cooper’s “Maestro.” MAMI 2023 is dedicated to celebrating the cinema of South Asia and is scheduled to run from October 27 to November 5.

Allu Arjun’s National Award Triumph: Fans Accord Grand Welcome With Flowers And Dhol

Pan-India superstar Allu Arjun, who has received the National Award for ‘Best Actor’ for his movie ‘Pushpa: The Rise’, was accorded a grand welcome on his arrival at home, with fans welcoming their favorite actor with dhol and crackers.

On Tuesday, Allu Arjun was bestowed with the National Award at the 69th National Awards held in New Delhi, and the happiness among the fans seeing him receive the National Award was at its peak. Following his return to Hyderabad, the actor’s triumph was celebrated by the fans with full enthusiasm. The celebration was sort of like a festival.

The video that went viral on social media, shows Allu Arjun in a black kurta and white pyjama. He is seen coming out of the sun roof of his car, and waving at people. The fans are showering flower petals on him, and are holding flags bearing ‘AA’. The fans are also seen holding placards of Allu Arjun’s movies, while they clicked pictures of the actor.

Allu Arjun has made history by winning the National Award as in the history of Telugu cinema, he is the only actor to have the Award for the best actor.

His performance in the role of iconic Pushpa Raaj received unanimous love from the fans and the masses across the globe. The movie has also received the award for Best Music Direction, which was given to Devi Sri Prasad.

The actor also took to Instagram and shared the photos from the ceremony. He wrote: “Honoured to receive the National Award. I want to thank the jury, the Ministry, the Government of India,
for this recognition. This award is not only a personal milestone, but belongs to all people who have supported and cherished our cinema. Thank you, @aryasukku garu. You are the reason behind my achievement.”

On the professional front, Allu Arjun is currently shooting for his highly-anticipated movie ‘Pushpa: The Rule’, which is scheduled to release on August 15, 2024.

The first installment, ‘Pushpa: The Rise’ depicted the rise of coolie Pushpa Raj (Allu Arjun) in the smuggling syndicate of red sandalwood, that grows only in the Seshachalam Hills of Chittoor
in Andhra Pradesh.

‘Pushpa 2: The Rule’ is directed by Sukumar and also stars Rashmika Mandanna, and Fahadh Faasil. The film is produced by Mythri Movie Makers. (IANS)

69th National Film Awards Honors Indian Actors For Their Outstanding Performances

The 69th National Film Awards ceremony was held in Delhi on Tuesday, October 17, 2023,recognizing and honoring actors for their outstanding performance in Indian cinema.The President, Droupadi Murmu, who presented the award said that films are the most effective medium to spread awareness and sensitivity. The ceremony took place at the Vigyan Bhawan in New Delhi. Also present was India’s Federal Minister Anurag Thakur.

From Alia Bhatt to Kriti Sanon, Pankaj Tripathi and Allu Arjun several others won the prestigious awards for their projects.

Actor Alia Bhatt was conferred with the Best Actress Award for her performance in the film ‘Gangubai Kathiawadi’ at the 69th National Film Awards.

On receiving the prestigious award, Alia Bhatt, who arrived at the ceremony along with her husband and actor Ranbir Kapoor, said, “It is a very big moment and I am very grateful.”

She won everyone’s hearts with her sartorial choice at the event as she marked her presence in the same saree that she wore during her wedding ceremony with Ranbir. She styled the saree in a
different manner this time. Also, she tied her hair in a bun instead of keeping it open. She accessorized her hair bun with white flowers, and opted for subtle make-up that comprised defined brows, kohl-rimmed eyes, nude lips and a small red bindi, with a gold and pearl choker necklace. Ranbir complemented her in a black bandhgala blazer.

Actor Kriti Sanon was also conferred with the Best Actress Award for her performance in the film ‘Mimi’.  Kriti arrived at the ceremony along with her parents, in a pastel saree. Reacting to
her win, Kriti said, “Just very very overwhelmed. I feel very blessed & grateful. It is a very special moment, especially for Mimi & also my parents were here watching me. I don’t think
I’ve felt this before.”

Telugu star Allu Arjun was honored with the Best Actor Award at the 69th National Film Awards for his role in ‘Pushpa: The Rise – Part 1. This is Allu Arjun’s first National Award.  Allu Arjun took to social media and expressed his gratitude. "A huge congratulations to all the national award winners across various categories and languages throughout the nation. Your accomplishments are truly commendable. & I would like to express my gratitude for the love and wishes pouring in from all corners of the country. Feeling honored and humbled by it all. Thank you for the love. Humbled," he wrote.

Allu, who played the titular gangster in Pushpa: The Rise, will now reprise the role in the sequel 'Pushpa: The Rule'. The film is set to be released in cinemas on August 15, 2024. Directed by Trivikram, the film promises to be a massive entertainer.  Actor Rakshit Shetty’s film ‘777 Charlie’ won the Best Kannada Film award. He received the award on behalf of team ‘777 Charlie’ from President Droupadi Murmu. For the award ceremony, Shetty donned an all-black suit.

Picture: India Tribune

Actor Pankaj Tripathi received the Best Supporting Actor award for his performance in the film ‘Mimi’. Talking to ANI, Tripathi said, “There is hard work of whole team/unit behind any film. I
am thankful to the jury for choosing me for this award… I dedicate this award to my father.”  Pallavi Joshi bagged the Best Supporting Actress award for her performance in the film ‘The Kashmir Files’. Talking to ANI, she said, “Whenever one receives a national award, it feels really good… My expectations are very high now regarding audience view, after the level of recognition that ‘The Kashmir Files’ subject has got.”

‘The Kashmir Files’ also won the Nargis Dutt Award for Best Feature Film on National Integration. Director Vivek Agnihotri received the award on behalf of the team.  Ace music composer MM Keeravani was felicitated with the National Award for the Best Background Score for director SS Rajamouli’s ‘RRR’. Keeravani’s son Kaala Bhairava, too, won best playback singer for the song ‘Komuram Bheemudo’.

Filmmaker Karan Johar’s production ‘Shershaah’ starring Sidharth Malhotra and Kiara Advani bagged the Special Jury Award. Karan and director Vishnu Vardhan accepted the award on behalf of the team from President Droupadi Murmu.

Actor Sidharth Malhotra dropped a post and reacted to the film’s prestigious win.  He wrote, “Special Jury Award at the 69th National Film Awards for #Shershaah! The award received today is a tribute to hardwork, determination, and patriotism. Its significance will remain etched in my heart forever. Deep gratitude and respect to my entire team, and above all, to you for your constant support.”

Actor R Madhavan’s directorial project ‘Rocketry: The Nambi Effect’ bagged the Best Feature Film at the 69th National Film Awards. On receiving the award, Madhavan said, “I feel very happy and proud. It is a lovely award. It feels gratifying.”

Veteran actress Waheeda Rehman was conferred with the Dadasaheb Phalke Lifetime Achievement Award. She received a standing ovation as she went up to the stage to receive the award. After the honor, the veteran actress, in a speech, said, “I feel very honored, very humbled.

But the place where I am standing today is all because of my love for the film industry. Luckily, I got to work with the best directors, producers, technicians, writers, and music directors, and
they all supported me. They gave me love and respect.”

A short video was also played at the ceremony that showcased Waheeda Rehman’s film work over the years. She attended the ceremony in a graceful cream saree. She looked extremely emotional when she received the honor.

Singer Shreya Ghoshal received the Best Female Playback Singer award for the song ‘Mayava Chayava’ from the Tamil film ‘Iravin Nizhal’. This marks Shreya’s fifth National Film Award.  Renowned music director Devi Sri Prasad won the Best Music Director Award for his composition in the Telugu blockbuster film ‘Pushpa: The Rise’.  On receiving the award, Devi Sri Prasad told ANI, “I will always be grateful to everyone. This is one of the most prestigious awards. It is the biggest dream of any artist. The dream has come true today.”  Complete Winners’ List

The winners of the 69th National Film Awards were announced at the National Media Center in New Delhi for Feature and non-feature films certified by the Central Board of Film Certification
(CBFC) between January 1, 2021, and December 31, 2021, were eligible for contention.

Here is the full list of winners at the 69th National Film Awards:
Best Feature Film: Rocketry
Best Director: Nikhil Mahajan, Godavari
Best Popular Film Providing Wholesome Entertainment: RRR
Nargis Dutt Award for Best Feature Film on National Integration: The Kashmir Files
Best Actor: Allu Arjun, Pushpa
Best Actress: Alia Bhatt,  Gangubai Kathiawadi  and Kriti Sanon, Mimi
Best Supporting Actor: Pankaj Tripathi, Mimi
Best Supporting Actress: Pallavi Joshi, The Kashmir Files
Best Child Artist: Bhavin Rabari, Chhello Show
Best Screenplay (Original): Shahi Kabir, Nayattu
Best Screenplay (Adapted): Sanjay Leela Bhansali & Utkarshini Vashishtha, Gangubai
Kathiawadi
Best Dialogue Writer: Utkarshini Vashishtha & Prakash Kapadia, Gangubai Kathiawadi
Best Music Director (Songs): Devi Sri Prasad, Pushpa
Best Music Direction (Background Music): MM Keeravaani, RRR
Best Male Playback Singer: Kaala Bhairava, RRR
Best Female Playback Singer: Shreya Ghoshal, Iravin Nizhal
Best Lyrics: Chandrabose, Konda Polam’s Dham Dham Dham
Best Hindi Film: Sardar Udham
Best Kannada Film: 777 Charlie
Best Malayalam Film: Home
Best Gujurati Film: Chhello Show
Best Tamil Film: Kadaisi Vivasayi
Best Telugu Film: Uppena
Best Maithili Film: Samanantar
Best Mishing Film: Boomba Ride
Best Marathi Film: Ekda Kaay Zala
Best Bengali Film: Kalkokkho
Best Assamese Film: Anur
Best Meiteilon Film: Eikhoigi Yum
Best Odiya Film: Pratikshya
Indira Gandhi Award for Best Debut Film of a Director: Meppadiyan, Vishnu Mohan
Best Film on Social Issues: Anunaad – The Resonance
Best Film on Environment Conservation/Preservation: Aavasavyuham
Best Children’s Film: Gandhi and Co
Best Audiography (Location Sound Recordist): Arun Asok & Sonu K P, Chavittu
Best Audiography (Sound Designer): Aneesh Basu, Jhilli
Best Audiography (Re-recordist of the final mixed track): Sinoy Joseph, Sardar Udham
Best Choreography: Prem Rakshith, RRR
Best Cinematography: Avik Mukhopadhayay, Sardar Udham
Best Costume Designer: Veera Kapur Ee, Sardar Udham
Best Special Effects: Srinivas Mohan, RRR

Best Production Design: Dmitrii Malich and Mansi Dhruv Mehta, Sardar Udham
Best Editing: Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Gangubai Kathiawadi
Best Make-up: Preetisheel Singh, Gangubai Kathiawadi
Best Stunt Choreography: King Soloman, RRR
Special Jury Award: Shershaah, Vishnuvardhan
Special Mention: 1. Late Shri Nallandi, Kadaisi Vivasayi 2. Aranya Gupta & Bithan Biswas,
Jhilli 3. Indrans, Home 4. Jahanara Begum, Anur

‘Gadar 2’ Is Set For Its World Digital Premiere On ZEE5 Global From 6th October 2023!

Viewers can catch ZEE5 Global’s unmissable slate and stock up on their yearlong entertainment by subscribing to the Annual pack and grabbing the limited-time special offer price.

ZEE5 Global is the digital entertainment destination launched by Zee Entertainment Enterprises Limited (ZEEL), a global Media and Entertainment powerhouse. The platform launched across 190+ countries in October 2018 and has content across 18 languages: Hindi, English, Bengali, Malayalam, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Marathi, Oriya, Bhojpuri, Gujarati, Punjabi, including six international languages Malay, Thai, Bahasa, Urdu, Bangla and Arabic. ZEE5 Global is home to 200,000+ hours of on-demand content. The platform brings together the best of Originals, Movies and TV Shows, Music, Health and Lifestyle content in one destination. In addition, ZEE5 Global offers features like 15 navigational languages, content download options and Voice Search.

King Khan Opens Up A Bold New Space For Bollywood

The industry prefers a winning formula to creative exploration, particularly in big-budget films populated by rocking stars with fancy fees. Will that change from hereon with the success of ‘Jawan’? We have on offer a new path for Bollywood, a path that can use its huge and unrivalled soft power to drive home some significant messages of the kind and in a way it has rarely attempted in a big-budget extravaganza.

By Jagdish Rattanani Shah Rukh Khan, also known as King Khan or SRK, is raking it in at the box office with ‘Jawan’. The movie opened last week and reportedly netted over Rs.350 crore by the weekend, said to be the biggest opening ever on record for a Bollywood movie. A career that some thought was in decline is back with a big bang.  The SRK magic works this time with co-star Nayanthara, noted for her work across the southern Indian states, and Tamil cinema stars like Vijay Sethupati and the director Atlee Kumar, combining talent across the North and South into a package that appears to have been lapped up by the national audience. The producer company, Red Chillies Entertainment, describes the 2¾-hour-long movie in these words: “A high-octane action thriller which outlines the emotional journey of a man who is set to rectify the wrongs in society.”

Picture: KOIMOI

Needless to say, a lot of it is typical Bollywood hyperbole. But the “wrongs in society” it highlights are very real, making ‘Jawan’ a bold venture with distinct political overtones that many would see as high risk in this particular political atmosphere, further heated by the upcoming elections. That the movie highlights the death of patients due to a lack of oxygen cylinders in a public hospital, the farmer suicides, bad deals for substandard equipment that fail our soldiers, the factories that pollute our water and air, or protection of select businessmen wheeler-dealers, is as real or as specific as it can get today.

In that, the movie goes beyond the general tirade against the ills of society, pictured usually in stereotypes of the rogue middleman, the corrupt politician, or the woes of everyday people as they struggle to get their due. ‘Jawan’ still has a lot of common nouns, of course, but proper nouns are in the air.  In that sense, SRK and team have unhesitatingly opened real issues meshed within unreal drama, using escapist masala to serve burning political questions that many can see, many more can sense but few from Bollywood will dare ask in today’s political climate.

Puts people on notice

It used to be the theory long ago that Bollywood works because vacuous song-and-dance was the one release from the misery of everyday living for millions. This changed over the decades, from the early romance stories and the rich-poor commentary to the angry-young-man, bolder romances, and then post-liberalisation with the arrival of low-cost productions that experimented with new themes. The changing times brought more modern-day issues to the big screen, like live-in relationships, LGBTQ+ rights and alliances, caste conflicts, “encounter” killings, the rural-urban divide, autism, loneliness, mental health. Many of the films over the years have had political messages and, in that sense, Bollywood was always political but in an indirect sort of way. It played mostly in safe territory – not many looked the establishment in the eye and spoke up with gusto.

Picture: ABP

This is a place known after all for song and dance, where the watchwords are entertainment and glamour. The industry prefers a winning formula to creative exploration, particularly in big-budget films populated by rocking stars with fancy fees. Will that change from hereon with the success of ‘Jawan’? We have on offer a new path for Bollywood, a path that can use its huge and unrivalled soft power to drive home some significant messages of the kind and in a way it has rarely attempted in a big-budget extravaganza. In that sense, the movie puts everyone on notice and opens new imaginations and possibilities of what Bollywood can do when it wades into hot political spaces.

Clear political messaging

One highlight of the movie is a speech that shows SRK asking citizens to pick who they will vote for after raising the right question: What will you, dear candidate, do for us, in the next five years? If someone in the family takes ill, what will you do for their treatment? What will you do to get me a job?

The message is to demand performance and delivery of service in areas of health, education, jobs, and not fall for distraction in the name of religion, race or caste. But these are exactly the questions and issues that are not in focus in the India of today, and posing them in a successful masala format gets them further to the masses than any medium possibly can. The delivery comes against a backdrop of electronic voting machines, framing the messages in the very live context of the 2024 elections.

None of this is a sophisticated delivery, or a critical examination of the complex political issues of our times. It is a baseline delivery but its significance is that it was delivered, and its success is in its wide reach, its slick package and its big questions. In that, it quite ironically matches the unsophisticated approach of those who have twisted the national agenda, changed the political discourse and now those who have come out with desperate calls to boycott the movie by drawing all kinds of connections – from the current controversy over remarks on Sanatana Dharma to Shah Rukh Khan’s recent visit to the Tirupati temple.

Expanded the space

The Hindi film industry is one place where the key currency is the quality of work and acceptance by the audience, never mind all that has been said in the name of the late Sushant Singh Rajput. Hindus, Muslims and all other faiths work here hard, and hand-in-hand, to take audiences into a dream world. It’s an efficient business machine that challenges you to prove yourself every day, however well you are connected.

The trick to making money and enjoying the ride is to challenge yourself, not challenge the political establishment. SRK’s ‘Jawan’ has just expanded that space to speak up. The effort deserves to be protected and nurtured and allowed to grow. The success of the movie is therefore good news, but it remains to be seen what will follow and how Bollywood can or will embrace this new road.

(The writer is a journalist and faculty member at SPJIMR, Mumbai. Views are personal. By special arrangement with The Billion Press) Read more at: https://www.southasiamonitor.org/medley/king-khan-opens-bold-new-space-bollywood

Ektaa Kapoor’s Film, ‘Thank You For Coming’ Premieres At TIFF

Producer Ektaa R Kapoor penned a heartwarming note after her much-anticipated film ‘Thank You For Coming’ starring Bhumi Pednekar took center stage at the prestigious Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), September 16, 2023.

Taking to Instagram, Ektaa shared a series of pictures and videos from the TIFF gala night along with a note.

The note read, “Thanku @rheakapoor n @karanboolani never in my wildest dreams did I think I wud b a part of a film@that wud have a global reception at such a prestigious festival that I wud have a theatre turn into a stadium n. Erupt into claps n whistles ! Things we spoke as women have found a international stage n the empathy n humour with which u both delt with a sensitive subject of female pleasure without showing sex was amazing !!!!!to see a prestigious jury n world media acknowledge that is just wow! So@Thanku n thanku for coming into my life ! Thanku @anilskapoor n the lovely ladies who made this film Wat it is !!! So proud! #thankyouforcoming #tiff #thankouforcomingattiff.”

The red carpet event was a star-studded affair, with the presence of the film’s stellar cast, including Bhumi Pednekar, Shehnaaz Gill, Shibani Bedi, Dolly Singh and Kusha Kapila hit the red carpet of TIFF with none other than Anil Kapoor. Director Karan and producer Ektaa R Kapoor were also present. They all walked the red carpet together and moved to the beats of dhol while entering the venue.

Anil Kapoor also shared a special post, “We’re ecstatic for this mind-blowing opportunity to rock TIFF with ‘Thank You For Coming’! This film isn’t just a chick-flick; it’s a fireworks show of love, sweat, and pure dedication from our squad!”

He added, “The energy and enthusiasm of the TIFF audience, the camaraderie among fellow filmmakers, and the platform it provides for storytelling has elevated all the films here.
The audience’s unwavering support has been the driving force behind ‘Thank You For Coming’s’ success, and for that, we are eternally grateful. Once again, from the bottom of our hearts, thank you for coming – with us to the Toronto International Film Festival!”#TIFF2023 #ThankYouForComing.”

‘Thank You For Coming’ delves into the themes of female friendship, single women, love, and the pursuit of pleasure. “Thank You For Coming” was the only Indian feature film honored with the Gala World Premiere at TIFF this year.

Produced by Balaji Telefilms Limited and Anil Kapoor Film Communication Network Pvt. Ltd, directed by Karan Boolani, and written by Radhika Anand and Prashasti Singh, the film will be released in theaters worldwide on October 6, 2023.

Ajay Devgn, Madhavan And Jyotika’s Supernatural Thriller To Release In March ‘24

Indian actors Ajay Devgn, R Madhavan, and Jyotika have taken to their respective social media platforms to make an exciting announcement about their upcoming supernatural thriller film, slated for a nationwide release on March 8, 2024. This highly anticipated project, directed by the acclaimed filmmaker Vikas Bahl, renowned for his previous works like “Super 30,” “Queen,” and “Goodbye,” has generated significant buzz among film enthusiasts.

In a tweet that quickly garnered attention, Ajay Devgn shared a teaser about the film, intriguingly stating, “Things are about to take a supernatural turn.” The poster accompanying the announcement revealed that this film will mark the Bollywood debut of the talented actor Janki Bodiwala, widely recognized for her roles in Gujarati films such as “Chhello Divas,” “Tamburo,” “Chhutti Jashe Chhakka,” and “Bau Na Vichar.”

Meanwhile, another exciting aspect of this project is actor Jyotika’s return to the Hindi film industry after a hiatus spanning more than two decades. Her last appearance in a Hindi film was in the 1997 movie “Doli Saja Ke Rakhna,” directed by Priyadarshan, which also marked her debut in Bollywood.

Picture : CineJosh

This supernatural thriller is being presented by Jio Studios, Ajay Devgn Films, and Panorama Studios International, with an impressive lineup of producers, including actor Ajay Devgn, Jyoti Deshpande, Kumar Mangat Pathak, and Abhishek Pathak. The film’s music will be helmed by the talented music director DSP (Devi Sri Prasad), adding an exciting element to the project.

R Madhavan, who gained fame for his work in the acclaimed movie “Rocketry,” has recently been appointed as the president of the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) and chairman of the governing council, showcasing his multifaceted talents and commitment to the Indian film industry. On the other hand, Ajay Devgn, a seasoned Bollywood actor at 54, was last seen in “Bholaa,” a remake of Lokesh Kanagaraj’s “Kaithi,” which hit theaters in March 2023. Additionally, fans can look forward to Devgn’s highly anticipated project, “Singham Again,” scheduled for release in 2024. Jyotika, with her remarkable return to Bollywood, will also grace the big screen alongside Malayalam actor Mammootty in the upcoming venture “Kaathal: The Core,” directed by Jeo Baby.

The Indian film industry is abuzz with excitement as Ajay Devgn, R Madhavan, and Jyotika gear up for their supernatural thriller, directed by Vikas Bahl, set to captivate audiences nationwide on March 8, 2024. This film not only promises a thrilling cinematic experience but also marks the debut of Janki Bodiwala in Bollywood and the return of Jyotika to the Hindi film industry after a hiatus of more than two decades. With an impressive cast and production team, this project is poised to make a significant impact in the world of Indian cinema.

7 Questions On JAWAN For SRK and Vijay

Shah Rukh Khan’s JAWAN has hit the big screens last week and the excitement among the audience is at its peak. After seeing the action-packed trailer, it has been hard for the audience to wait for the release of the film, and the evidence of the same is well-witnessed at the advance booking windows where this action entertainer is creating records.

Now, to elevate the ever-rising excitement, the makers have released a video via social media, titled 7 QUESTIONS FOR 7TH SEPTEMBER, which gives everyone a fun insight into the film.

1) Question for SRK: *1. Is it true that Atlee and you wanted to work together for a long time? * While answering this, SRK said, I met with Atlee during the making of Bigil and he went for the match of CSK and KKR. Ahead of this, Atlee had spoken to me on an idea for Jawan saying, ‘It’s you, sir, along with 5 girls and that’s my film because my wife Priya and myself really feel that you look the nicest when you have a bunch of ladies with you in a film’ and that’s how Jawan started.

Furthermore, the video brought a question for Vijay Sethupathi playing the role of Kaali in Jawan.

Picture : News9Live

2) Question for Vijay Setupathi – How did you get the role of villain in Jawan and are you the real villain in the film or Shah Rukh Khan is? While answering, Vijay Sethupathi reminisces about his interaction with SRK and Atlee. He told SRK, ‘Sir I wanted to be a part of your film’ to which SRK replied ‘We were also thinking of you for the past few years’ and that’s how he got into this film. Moreover, while addressing who the real villain is in the film, him or Shah Rukh Khan? Vijay smartly answered both are playing their roles and are villains for each other.

3) Question for SRK – Are you the villain or hero or vill-hero? Let us in on your secret?
Answering the same, SRK says, ‘It’s a common man, doing uncommon things for the common good of everybody’.

4) Question for Vijay Setupathi – Your experience working with Shah Rukh Khan?
While answering this, Vijay mentioned how he enjoys the way SRK gives interviews, with spontaneity and how intrigued he is! And how he keeps asking him lots of questions to know more about him as a person.

5) Question for SRK – Are you an action hero or just a guy with a great insurance policy?
SRK responded to this jokingly saying my insurance policy is over! As he has been injured so many times no one wants to insure him. Furthermore he added, the only reason he likes doing action films is because his youngest son Abram loves cool films with action, anime and superheroes and he wants to do cool action films for him.

6) Question for Vijay Setupathi – How do you prepare for such an intense antagonist role?
Vijay Sethupathi, said, ‘I just know that I am good at choosing scripts and I do not want to bring anything  else into my headspace, I believe that it spoils the artist in my mind which I do not want to do.’

7) What was your “That is why I signed up for Jawan” moment?
While mentioning this one moment, SRK, said, “There is a shot where I am introduced as the bald hero (does the clapping action) and I remember Atlee putting a lot of powder in my hand and I think I sneezed also doing that shot, but when I finally saw the shot, and that’s my moment for doing Jawan.

With this, SRK left the excitement of the fans on edge and promised that there is a lot more than this in the film. The superstar further urges everyone to enjoy Jawan on 7th September 2023.

‘Jawan’ is a Red Chillies Entertainment presentation directed by Atlee, produced by Gauri Khan, and co-produced by Gaurav Verma. The film will release worldwide in theatres on September 7th, 2023, in Hindi, Tamil, and Telugu languages.

Ektaa R Kapoor To Be Honored With 2023 International Emmy Directorate Award

Indian film producer and director, Ektaa R Kapoor, is set to receive the prestigious 2023 International Emmy Directorate award in recognition of her remarkable career and profound impact on the Indian television landscape. This esteemed accolade will be presented by the International Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (IATAS) at the upcoming 51st International Emmy® Awards Gala, scheduled to take place on November 20th in the vibrant city of New York. Bruce L Paisner, the President and Chief Executive Officer of IATAS, made this announcement, underlining the significance of this honor.

In response to this remarkable recognition, the 48-year-old television producer expressed her heartfelt emotions, stating, “It fills me with a profound sense of humility and excitement. This award holds a special place in my heart, as it signifies a journey that goes beyond mere work—it’s a pivotal aspect of my personal and professional life.” Kapoor went on to emphasize the unique importance of this achievement, adding, “Representing my country on the global stage through this esteemed platform is an incredible honor. Television has been instrumental in helping me discover my identity, particularly as a woman working to make stories for women. This award allows me to represent them and our shared accomplishments on an international level.”

Picture: Koimoi

Ektaa R Kapoor, renowned as the co-founder of the television production powerhouse Balaji Telefilms, has been a prominent figure in the Indian television industry for nearly three decades. Her journey commenced in 1994 when she established Balaji Telefilms alongside her illustrious parents—Indian movie star and producer Jeetendra Kapoor and accomplished media executive Shobha Kapoor. Under the Balaji banner, Kapoor has achieved remarkable milestones, having created and produced an astonishing portfolio of over 17,000 hours of television content and 45 films. Additionally, she played a pivotal role in launching one of India’s earliest Indian Over-The-Top (OTT) platforms, Alt Balaji.

Recognizing her remarkable contributions to the world of entertainment, IATAS President Paisner remarked, “Ektaa R. Kapoor has built Balaji into one of India’s foremost entertainment players with market leadership in the television content industry reaching mass audiences across India and South Asia with their long-running series and OTT platform.”

Ektaa Kapoor’s influence extends beyond her professional accomplishments. She has earned a well-deserved spot among Fortune India’s “50 Most Powerful Women in Asia.” Furthermore, she stands as the sole female representative from the Indian television domain in Variety500—an exclusive index that recognizes the 500 most influential business leaders shaping the global media industry. These accolades underscore her exceptional prowess and enduring impact on the entertainment world.

In essence, Ektaa R Kapoor’s journey through the Indian television and film industry is nothing short of remarkable. Her visionary approach, coupled with her commitment to crafting narratives that resonate with women, has left an indelible mark on the entertainment landscape. As she prepares to accept the 2023 International Emmy Directorate award, the world will celebrate not just her professional triumphs but also the profound cultural and societal influence she has wielded through her work.

This recognition serves as a testament to the power of storytelling in television and its ability to shape identities, transcend boundaries, and inspire generations. Ektaa Kapoor’s journey, from the inception of Balaji Telefilms to the pinnacle of global recognition, embodies the spirit of creativity and innovation in the world of entertainment.

As the 51st International Emmy® Awards Gala approaches, the anticipation builds for the moment when Ektaa R Kapoor will stand on the stage in New York City, holding the International Emmy Directorate award, representing not only her own achievements but also the countless stories and dreams she has brought to life through the medium of television. It is a celebration of a visionary who has not only impacted the Indian television landscape but has also created a lasting legacy that resonates with audiences far beyond its borders.

Ektaa R Kapoor’s journey is an extraordinary one that showcases the transformative power of television in shaping cultures, narratives, and identities. This prestigious recognition by the International Academy of Television Arts & Sciences underscores her enduring influence and the indomitable spirit with which she has forged a path in the entertainment industry. Kapoor’s dedication to creating meaningful content for women and her ability to connect with audiences on a profound level make her a true luminary in the world of television and film. Her acceptance of the 2023 International Emmy Directorate award is not just a personal achievement but a testament to the global reach and impact of Indian television and storytelling. This recognition is a celebration of a visionary who has left an indelible mark on the industry and continues to inspire future generations of storytellers.

69th National Film Awards 2023: Alia Bhatt-Kriti Sanon Celebrate The Win, Allu Arjun Says ‘Honored And Humbled’

Pushpa The Rise, Sardar Udham, Chhelo Show, RRR, The Kashmir Files and Gangubai Kathiawadi emerged as some of the winners at the National Film Awards announced on Thursday last week by the 69th National Film Awards 2023 Committee in India.

While Allu Arjun bagged the Best Actor award for the film Pushpa: The Rise, Alia Bhatt and Kriti Sanon shared the award for Best Actress for the films Gangubai Kathiawadi and Mimi respectively. Rocketry: The Nambi Effect won the award for Best Feature Film. The Kashmir Files won the Nargis Dutt Award for Best Film on National Integration at the 69th National Film Awards.

Shoojit Sircar’s biographical historical drama Sardar Udham won several awards at the 69th National Film Awards. Apart from being named the Best Hindi Film, it also bagged Best Cinematography (Avik Mukhopadhyay), Best Audiography (Sinoy Joseph), Best Production Design (Dmitrii Malich and Mansi Dhruv Mehta) and Best Costume Design (Veera Kapur Ee) awards.

National Film Awards are the most prestigious awards, which are announced annually to honour the best filmmaking talent across the country. According to the Directorate of Film Festivals of the Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, the National Film Awards “aim at encouraging the production of films of aesthetic and technical excellence and social relevance.”

The awards were first handed out in 1954 and were known as the ‘State Awards’. At the time, only best films in different regional languages were recognised and awarded. The awards for actors and technicians working on the films were first given in 1967. Nargis was the first actor to win Best Actress for her performance in Raat Aur Din. Uttam Kumar won the Best Actor award for Antony Firingee and Chiriyakhana in the same year.

At the 68th National Film Awards, Tamil film Soorarai Pottru won in five categories – Best Feature Film, Best Actor for Suriya, Best Actress for Aparna Balamurali, Best Music Direction (Score) for G V Prakash Kumar, and Best Original Screenplay for Sudha Kongara, who also directed the film. Suriya shared his Best Actor win with Ajay Devgn, who won the awards for Tanhaji. Asha Parekh was honoured with the Dadasaheb Phalke Award in 2022.

Australia and Bollywood Forge Cinematic Bond

In a narrative that could rival Asia’s grandest movie plots, an unexpected love story has unfolded between Australia and the luminaries of Bollywood. Despite the considerable geographical distance, a genuine connection has burgeoned between the two realms, showcasing the depth of this cross-continental relationship.

Earlier this year, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese embarked on a journey to Delhi to engage with his Indian counterpart, Narendra Modi. The discussions spanned a gamut of topics, encompassing trade, defense, and cricket. One particular announcement captured the headlines—an agreement on bilateral Audiovisual Co-production. This accord was designed to foster collaboration and cultural interchange through joint Indian-Australian film projects. Australian arts minister Tony Burke humorously referred to it as “bringing a slice of Bollywood to Brisbane.”

Picture : TheUNN

Contrary to its recent prominence, this bond traces back several decades, as depicted in the forthcoming documentary “Brand Bollywood – Downunder.” The film, set to debut this fall, delves into the expansion of ties between the Indian film industry and Australia since the late 1990s. Anupam Sharma, the documentary’s producer, writer, and director, was born in India but ventured to Australia as a child to visit relatives. In the 1990s, he enrolled in a Sydney film school, choosing acting as his sub-major.

In a video interview with CNN, Sharma reflected on those early days, saying, “There was a distinct lack of opportunities. I was doing the usual thing, playing a doctor or a spice shop owner in a TV commercial.” Fast forward to the present, and the landscape has transformed dramatically.

The shift is palpable in Melbourne, where the Indian Film Festival of Melbourne, now in its 14th year and the largest of its kind outside India, has unfolded. Over ten days, more than 100 films in 20 languages are showcased, alongside panel discussions, an awards ceremony, and even a Bollywood dance competition.

Sharma narrates the evolution of this unique connection with a touch of serendipity. In 1997, a fortuitous twist of fate led him to seek out Feroz Khan, often referred to as “Bollywood’s Clint Eastwood,” who was visiting town. With a daring attitude, Sharma cold-called hotels, hoping to connect with the star. His gamble paid off when Khan’s assistant reached out for a meeting. This encounter led to a fruitful partnership, culminating in the production of “Prem Aggan” in 1998, a movie Khan directed, wrote, and Sharma produced.

The collaboration gained momentum from there, with Khan pioneering the trend. Bollywood enthusiasts flocked to cinemas to witness stars performing exuberant song and dance routines against the backdrop of iconic Australian landmarks like the Sydney Opera House and the Twelve Apostles. A slew of Indian movies was filmed in Australia over the ensuing years.

In 2008, “Love Story 2050,” starring Harman Baweja and Priyanka Chopra, was shot in South Australia, becoming a significant moment in the cinematic landscape. Baweja shared that the film was a result of seamless production environments, efficient government support, and breathtaking locations. This cultural fusion was so impactful that the then-state premier Mike Rann even secured a cameo role.

As the success story spread, Australia encountered a deluge of requests, not only for visas for future productions but also from tourists eager to explore the movie locations. Sharma aptly described it as a “huge Bollywood bandwagon.”

The narrative shifted in 2009 when tensions emerged due to apparent racially motivated attacks on Indian students in Australia. This marked the end of the honeymoon period, but Sharma pointed out that the enthusiasm for collaboration persisted. He emphasized, “Australia realized that after ‘servicing’ Bollywood for over 13 years, it was time to shift gears and move to collaboration with Indian cinema.” This transition birthed a new phase, concentrating on shared narratives and narratives that highlighted the Indo-Australian experience.

In a tale where distance couldn’t deter the power of cinematic connection, Australia and Bollywood found themselves in an enduring love story, building bridges of creativity and culture across continents.

The unfolding romance between Australia and Bollywood has led to the creation of a new genre of films, characterized by a Western structure and an Indian essence. This bond has given rise to acclaimed movies like “Lion,” “Hotel Mumbai,” and Anupam Sharma’s very own creation, “UnIndian,” a romantic tale centered on an Australian woman with an Indian soul.

Describing this unique blend, Sharma elucidated, “It means films made with a Western beat – around 90 minutes long, not the three hours of Bollywood. The distribution, the financing, the structures, the editing are Western, but the soul, the emotions, the music, the drama is still Indian.” However, the term “Bollywood” occasionally stirs mixed feelings. Sharma acknowledged, “There are people who would swear at me for saying the word Bollywood.” He highlighted the diversity within the industry, likening it to an Indian goddess with multifaceted arms.

Australia has already formed 13 formal co-production partnerships with countries like Canada, China, and the UK. If India follows suit, it would unlock co-production opportunities, granting access to government funding, grants, loans, and tax offsets.

Once ratified by both the Australian and Indian parliaments, the Audiovisual Co-production Agreement could yield substantial benefits for both nations—both economically and culturally. Garth Davis, the Australian director of “Lion,” eagerly welcomed the prospect, emphasizing the enrichment that collaboration brings. He praised India’s history, humanity, and spirit, along with the exceptional skill level within the industry.

Salim and Sulaiman Merchant, Mumbai-based composers and musicians who worked on “UnIndian,” expressed their enthusiasm for more collaborations. Salim Merchant applauded Australia’s “vibe,” stating, “I think it’s wonderful there’s that synergy. Film is a beautiful medium. Making films that have both the diverse cultures and traditions creates a lot of love and respect between the two countries.”

The burgeoning audience for Bollywood productions in Australia has added to the allure of collaboration. The Indian Film Festival of Melbourne, initiated in 2010 by Mitu Bhowmick Lange, has drawn immense success. Lange set up the festival in response to her own desire to watch Indian films and has seen it grow beyond the Indian community. Australia’s Indian-born population is now the second-largest migrant community in the country, accounting for 9.5% of the overseas-born population and 2.8% of the total population.

As cultural connections deepen, both sides aspire to broaden their appeal. Sharma asserted, “Australia wants to boost its diversity credentials.” Simultaneously, Sharma noted a friend’s perspective that “Bollywood is not after a wider audience, but a Whiter audience.”

However, the shifting dynamics of global consumption seem promising. Lange observed, “The world is getting smaller and smaller, and streaming has changed everything.” She believes that the global appetite for foreign content has evolved, contributing positively to bridging cultural gaps.

The agreement’s potential is met with hope and optimism. Sharma stressed, “Indian films have always been a universal language for foreign governments to engage with India.” This alliance between Australia, a highly professional film industry, and India, a prolific cinematic powerhouse, is anticipated to be mutually beneficial. In Sharma’s words, “The marriage between the two has to be a win-win for both.”

Vibrant Celebrations Welcome Latest Rajinikanth Film Release in South India

Euphoric scenes reminiscent of an Indian movie came to life as people danced on the streets and ignited firecrackers. These jubilant moments were not a cinematic illusion, but the genuine celebrations of countless cinema aficionados in South India, rejoicing over the release of the newest film by one of India’s most prominent superstars. “Jailer,” an action-packed Tamil-language thriller starring the renowned actor Rajinikanth, has taken the region by storm since its debut in theaters last Thursday and is poised to establish new box office records.

With a fervent following akin to devoted fans of a deity, Rajinikanth’s return to the screen after a two-year hiatus has aroused immense anticipation. The level of excitement surrounding the release has even prompted some companies to grant their employees a day off to witness the spectacle. Notably, Redbooks Abroad, an education company based in Kerala, provided complimentary tickets to its staff for the initial screening, viewing it as a “day to relax, rejoice, and immerse yourselves in the magic of the silverscreen,” according to a memo obtained by CNN. Another enterprise, Le Hive, located in Tamil Nadu, decided to allocate half a day off to its employees to “prevent sudden sick leaves.”

These gestures from companies are just one facet of the feverish excitement enveloping the release. Local news outlets have been leaving no stone unturned, offering extensive coverage replete with live blogs, interviews with fans, and footage from outside theaters. Early estimates suggest that the film raked in approximately $5 million on its opening day, marking the highest debut for a Tamil-language film in 2023 so far, as reported by local sources.

Picture: The UNN

Rajinikanth, aged 72, has amassed a filmography featuring over 160 movies, rendering him nearly synonymous with South Indian cinema. Renowned for his elaborate action sequences and distinctive dance moves, he wields a box office allure akin to Western icon Tom Cruise and is often regarded as one of Asia’s highest paid actors. Born as Shivaji Rao Gaekwad in the southern city of Bengaluru in 1950, Rajinikanth made his cinematic debut 25 years later in “Apoorva Raagangal,” a movie that achieved commercial success.

The adoration he garners from fans is often likened to the reverence accorded to religious figures. Some of his devotees have been known to express their excitement for his new releases by pouring milk on cardboard cutouts of the actor, a gesture typically reserved for Hindu deities. Similar scenes of jubilation accompanied the release of his 2016 film “Kabali,” in which he sported stylish three-piece suits and John Lennon-esque sunglasses to portray a wrongfully convicted gangster recently released from prison. The day of its release essentially became an unofficial public holiday for many, prompting several companies in Bengaluru and Chennai to grant their employees a day off to view the film.

Rajinikanth’s accolades extend beyond the silver screen; he has also been honored with the Padma Bhushan and Padma Vibhushan awards, two of India’s most prestigious civilian recognitions, for his contributions to the arts.

In the broader context of India’s multibillion-dollar film industry, renowned for its Hindi-language “Bollywood” productions, it’s important to note that almost half of India’s 1.4 billion population doesn’t consider Hindi their primary language. Within the nation, the “Tollywood” (Telugu language) and “Kollywood” (Tamil language) sectors of South India command a similar following to that of Bollywood.

While Bollywood often takes the spotlight internationally, the earnings generated by South Indian media and entertainment industries have nearly doubled year-on-year. In 2022, they contributed an estimated 52% of India’s overall film revenues, as revealed in a report by the Confederation of Indian Industry. A prominent success story from the South Indian film scene in the past year was “RRR,” a film that made history by securing its first Oscar for the best original song, “NaatuNaatu.”

Applauded for its lively choreography and catchy melody, the song also clinched a Golden Globe award, standing as a testament to India’s burgeoning soft power. Upon accepting the Oscar, composer M.M. Keeravani commented, “I grew up listening to The Carpenters, and now here I am with the Oscars.” He proceeded to deliver his speech by singing the lyrics to “Top of the World” by The Carpenters.

‘I Was Pushed into A Corner in Bollywood:” Priyanka Chopra’s Journey to the West

How Priyanka Chopra called out Bollywood’s failure post her Hollywood success, said she chose to head West over grovelling to Bollywood cliques

Actor Priyanka Chopra, who is making strides in Hollywood, has recently started speaking freely about shortcomings of the Hindi film industry and how it pushed her to seek a career in the West.

In 2018, when asked on Koffee With Karan season 6 which Bollywood star she looks up to, Priyanka Chopra boldly replied, “None.” Her response might have hit a raw nerve of many in the Hindi film industry, considering her success in Hollywood with the American series Quantico and roles in films like A Kid Like Jake and Baywatch. Many Bollywood stars dipped their toes in Hollywood waters and eventually returned, but Priyanka chose a different path, one that would redefine her career and make her one of the biggest female stars of her generation.

While she taught people in the West about India’s culture and how many here speak multiple languages including Hindi and not ‘Indian,’ she meticulously chose roles that didn’t typecast her as an Indian or South Asian.

Beyond acting, she took strides to build her brand, proving that she was much more than just a Bollywood actress. And it is only after finding her feet in the West that Priyanka became confident to speak freely about factors that made her exit Bollywood at the peak of her career. In her recent interviews, she has spoken about facing rejection due to politics and nepotism in the Hindi film industry.

Priyanka forayed into Hollywood as a singer. She crooned songs like In My City and Exotic, featuring her and Will.I.Am and Pitbull. In a conversation with Dax Shepherd on his podcast Armchair Expert, Priyanka spoke about being tired of the politics in Bollywood and saw these songs as her gateway to America.

‘I was pushed into a corner in Bollywood’

She said, “I was being pushed into a corner in the industry (Bollywood). I had people not casting me, I had beef with people, I am not good at playing that game, so I kind of was tired of the politics and I said I needed a break. This music thing gave me an opportunity to go into another part of the world, not crave for the movies I didn’t want to get, but I would require to schmooze certain clubs and cliques of people. It would require grovelling and I had worked a long time by then that I didn’t feel like I wanted to do it. So when this music thing came I was like ‘fu** it I’am going to America.”

According to Priyanka, her success wasn’t received well by some in the Hindi film industry as they attempted to undermine her career. Talking on The Ranveer Show, she said, “Very few of us are happy for somebody else’s success. I’ve also had people wanting to jeopardise my career—take away from work, make sure that I wasn’t cast just because I was doing well in what I was doing.”

‘I was terrified my films not working… I am not a nepo baby’

Nepotism has been a longstanding debate in Bollywood, and even Priyanka, with her two-decade-long career, acknowledged its prominence. She told Dax Shepherd, “I was terrified when those 6 movies didn’t do well because I’m not a nepo baby. I didn’t have that kind of support that exists in a big way in Bollywood movies. You know they are multi-generational actors that come in and get multiple opportunities versus the ones that come in from outside. You don’t have your uncle making a movie for you just because your last one tanked, right? You have to get it, and you have to hustle for it.”

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Being an outsider, Priyanka knows the value of a merit-based work environment and she advocated the same during promotions of her international web show Citadel. She spoke to indianexpress.com about ways to make the Hindi film industry a safe place for outsiders and end the supremacy of certain camps.

‘Workplace should be merit-based’

She said, “I think having conversations around opportunity and merit is important. Now that we are living in the world of streaming, there is so much more. The Hindi film industry has changed so much in the last five to ten years. You have so many talents – writers, directors, actors that come from outside the industry. When I first started, that was not the case, at all. So I think having conversations around the fact that the workplace should be merit-based, that the workplace should be a positive environment, that casting should be a casting director’s job instead of the politics and the drama.”

In a career spanning 22 years, Priyanka was paid equal to her male co-star only in her recently released web show Citadel. During an interview with Amazon Studios head Jennifer Salke at the South by Southwest Film Festival (SXSW) 2023, Priyanka said, “I might get into trouble for saying this, depends on who’s watching. I’ve been working in the entertainment industry for now 22 years, and I have done almost 70-plus features and two TV shows. But when I did Citadel, it was the first time in my career that I had pay parity. I’m laughing about this, but it’s kind of nuts.”

After being sidelined by influential figures in Bollywood, Priyanka shifted her focus to Hollywood, and now, with her meteoric rise in the West, she is involved in fewer Hindi film projects, if any. While she was supposed to star in Farhan Akhtar’s Jee Le Zaraa, rumours about her exiting the film have been circulating. Currently, she is busy shooting for another Hollywood film titled Heads of State, alongside Idris Elba and John Cena.

SRK’s Jawan Prevue Shatters All Past Records

The pre-release video of Jawan effortlessly surpassed all previous records held by teasers and trailers in the Indian film industry in terms of 24-hour view counts. With 112m views across all platforms,  the video’s immense traction has shattered the existing benchmarks, establishing a new pinnacle for the Indian film industry.

Jawan’s Prevue reigns supreme as the most-watched video in the first 24 hours, a testament to SRK’s widespread popularity, the universal appeal of the film and the rising anticipation surrounding the film’s release.

The record-breaking views for Jawan signify the power of engaging storytelling and effective marketing in an increasingly competitive entertainment landscape.

The video has surpassed all expectations and left a significant mark on the Indian digital landscape. The overwhelming response to the video reflects the massive fan base that the film has garnered even before its theatrical release.

Jawan is a Red Chillies Entertainment presentation, directed by Atlee, Produced by Gauri Khan and Co-produced by Gaurav Verma. The film will release worldwide in theatres on September 7th, 2023 in Hindi, Tamil and Telugu languages.

The much-awaited look of Shah Rukh Khan’s mega film, ‘Jawan’, is all set to be unveiled on 10th July at 10:30am. This exciting news was revealed by Shah Rukh Khan himself through his social media, fuelling the JAWAN frenzy among fans and movie enthusiasts alike.

The anticipation and excitement surrounding the film have reached unprecedented heights and has led to nationwide speculation over social media and more. The curiosity to see SRK is unparalleled, the collaboration between Shah Rukh Khan and director Atlee, marking their it first-ever partnership showcasing SRK’s unmatched stardom with Atlee’s creative vision.

Jawan is a Red Chillies Entertainment presentation, directed by Atlee, Produced by Gauri Khan and Co-produced by Gaurav Verma. The film will release worldwide in theatres on September 7th, 2023 in Hindi, Tamil and Telugu languages.

Shekhar Kapur, Mary Kom And Others Recognised At UK-India Awards

Sporting legend and India’s first-ever Olympic medallist in women’s boxing, Mary Kom, has been honored with the Global Indian Icon of the Year award at the annual U.K.-India Awards in Windsor, south-eastern England.

Sporting legend and India’s first-ever Olympic medallist in women’s boxing, Mary Kom, has been honoured with the Global Indian Icon of the Year award at the annual U.K.-India Awards in Windsor, south-eastern England.

The 40-year-old former Rajya Sabha member spoke of her 20-year journey of hard work and devoting her life to boxing as she accepted the award from Indian High Commissioner to the U.K. Vikram Doraiswami at a gala ceremony on June 29 night.

Picture : TheUNN

“I have been fighting for 20 years, putting in so much effort, hard work in my life, in boxing, it means a lot[…] making sacrifice for my country, for my family. I really thank from the bottom of my heart for this recognition,” she said.

Filmmaker Shekhar Kapur, behind Oscar-nominated ‘Elizabeth: The Golden Age’ received a Lifetime Achievement Award for his contribution to the field of cinema across both nations at the awards, organised by IGF (India Global Forum) as part of U.K.-India Week.

The Nehru Centre in London, the cultural wing of the Indian High Commission, won the U.K.-India Award for Significant Contribution to U.K.-India relations.

“This is one of the most exciting times to be an Indian in the last many centuries, and India’s growing economy has made many others, including many Westerners, think differently about India. But India’s culture will actually make many others, including many Westerners, think differently period. And it’s our privilege at the Nehru Centre to contribute to the growth and to the popularisation of Indian culture in the West,” said author Amish Tripathi, Director of the Nehru Centre.

The awards, now in their fifth year, recognise outstanding contributions of leaders in business, professional services, government, culture and social impact, highlighting their remarkable achievements in strengthening bilateral ties.

“These awards are not just about recognising achievements of some outstanding contributors to the U.K.-India corridor, but also about celebrating the power of collaboration and the limitless potential that lies within our partnership,” said IGF founder and chairman Manoj Ladwa.

Spanning across several categories, the U.K.-India Award for Business Promotion Organisation of the Year was conferred upon the FICCI (Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry) U.K.

Among the other awards were Market Entrant of the Year for startup investment platform CrowdInvest, Consultancy of the Year for SannamS4, Legal Practice of the Year for Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas and Financial Services Organisation of the Year for ICICI Bank U.K. PLC. While Mphasis bagged the Technology Company of the Year, Action Aid U.K. was named as the Social Impact Project of the Year.

The awards were selected from a shortlist by a jury of industry experts and marked the penultimate event of the six-day U.K.-India Week, which included a special reception hosted by British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak at 10 Downing Street during which he committed to working towards a “truly ambitious” FTA (Free Trade Agreements) with India.

“It’s not just U.K.-India Week, but a whole Indian summer[…] over the next few weeks the eyes of the world will be on India. There’s the G20 in New Delhi, I can’t wait to be there,” Mr.Sunak said, indicating plans for a visit for the world leader’s summit hosted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in September.

Shaakuntalam Wins 4 Prestigious Awards At Cannes World Film Festival

The Indian mythological film, Shaakuntalam, recently garnered four esteemed awards at the 2023 Cannes World Film Festival. Although it experienced both commercial and critical disappointment in India, despite being released across the nation, Shaakuntalam received international recognition and won ‘Best Foreign Film,’ ‘Best Costume Design,’ ‘Best Fantasy Film,’ and ‘Best Indian Film.’

It’s crucial to clarify from the beginning that the Cannes World Film Festival should not be mistaken for the Festival de Cannes, which has been making headlines since its commencement two weeks ago. Numerous Indian celebrities have graced the red carpet and attended film screenings at the latter event.

Directed by Gunasekhar and featuring Samantha Ruth Prabhu in the lead role, Shaakuntalam was produced by Neelima Guna and Hanshita Reddy. The film is currently available for streaming on Amazon Prime. In line with recent trends, the movie was released in five languages—Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada, and Hindi—and portrays the legendary romantic tale famously brought to life in literature and theater by the esteemed poet Kalidas.

Shaakuntalam also claimed the titles of ‘Best Fantasy Film’ and ‘Best Musical Film’ at the New York International Film Festival just last week (May 25). Overjoyed by the film’s success, Samantha expressed her gratitude for the accolades and awards on her Instagram account. In contrast, earlier this month, producer Dil Raju referred to the film as “my biggest failure” in an interview with “On Manorama,” revealing a loss of Rs. 22 crore.

The movie’s cast also included Dev Mohan, Ananya Nagalla, Mohan Babu, and Allu Arha, with music composed by Mani Sharma.

Indians Bag Top Honors At NYIFF

Shefali Shah, Jaideep Ahlawat, and Avinash Arun Dhaware emerged as winners at the 2023 New York Indian Film Festival (NYIFF), which celebrated and showcased new Indian cinema to the diaspora and global audience. The festival, which took place from May 11 to 14, featured an impressive lineup of 35 films, including dramas, documentaries, and short films, highlighting the depth and range of contemporary Indian cinema.

The highly acclaimed film “Saudi Vellakka” was honored with the Best Film award, while Avinash Arun Dhaware received the Best Director award for his critically acclaimed film “Three of Us,” featuring Shefali Shah, Jaideep Ahlawat, and Swanand Kirkire.

Picture : The New India Abroad

Shah and Ahlawat were recognized with the Best Actress and Best Actor awards, respectively, for their exceptional performances in “Three of Us,” which also served as the opening film of the festival. The closing film of the extravaganza was “Goldfish,” starring Deepti Naval and Kalki Koechlin.

Other notable winners included “Follower” for Best Screenplay, “To Kill a Tiger” for Best Documentary (Short & Feature), “Birah” for Best Short (Narrative), and Leslie Shampaine, who received the prestigious Best Documentary by a Woman award for “Call Me Dancer.” “Footprints On Water,” featuring Adil Hussain, was declared the Best Debut Film at NYIFF.

One of the highlights of this year’s festival, known as North America’s longest-running and most prestigious Indian film festival, was a special screening of Rahul Chittella’s critically praised film “Gulmohar.” The screening was attended by cinema veterans Sharmila Tagore and Amol Palekar, along with renowned actors Manoj Bajpayee and Simran. Following the screening, a Q&A session was moderated by NYIFF festival director Aseem Chhabra, featuring the film’s team.

Deepika Padukone is Bridging the Gap Between Bollywood and Global Audiences

Deepika Padukone, Indian actress and the highest-paid actress in India, has spoken about her desire to make a global impact while still being rooted in her country. She is well-known as the Queen of Bollywood, having appeared in over 30 films and generated almost $350 million in global box-office revenues. Despite the cut-throat nature of Bollywood, known for valuing youth and looking for the next new thing, Padukone’s 16-year career has been an exception, which she believes is due to India’s growing influence in the world.

The rise of smartphones, streaming services and social media has helped to find new audiences for India’s century-old film industry, which tells around 1500 stories a year on the screen. Meanwhile, Netflix and Amazon are keen to create content for a vast South Asian viewership of nearly 2 billion people around the world. However, they are also interested in content beyond Bollywood especially when Telugu-language films like Bahubali and RRR have become commercially successful.

As India’s influence extends globally, Padukone hopes to continue making an impact while staying true to her roots. “My mission has always been to make a global impact while still being rooted in my country,” she said during a break from shooting India’s first aerial-action film, Fighter. However, tensions simmer under the surface as the right-leaning Indian government monitors the stories India tells about itself on celluloid.

Deepika Padukone, is a quiet trailblazer who makes her own rules, all the while representing the feminine ideal that Bollywood adores. She has emerged from the hopes and dreams of modern Indian women, someone with the utmost freedom to choose how she lives, works, and rests.

Growing up in Bangalore during India’s economic liberalization, Padukone is a “typical Bangalore girl,” someone with the world at their fingertips, says her agent, Vijay Subramaniam. Now a globally recognized name, Padukone regularly wows audiences on the red carpet and is the first Indian brand ambassador for luxury brands like Louis Vuitton and Cartier.

At a recent photoshoot, Padukone arrived early with her entourage, including four bodyguards, two agents, two personal photographers, a stylist, makeup and hair artists, and a few more assistants. She poses effortlessly for the camera while her personally curated playlist blasts in the background.

After the shoot, we joined Padukone at the Taj Lands End hotel, where she wanted to gaze at the Arabian Sea while we chatted. While her life is currently a lot, she feels fulfilled and is trying to figure out what’s next. “I didn’t have a game plan for how to get here, but I didn’t see failure on my vision board,” she says.

However, despite being a global icon, Padukone remains grounded and committed to her Indian heritage. “This is India’s moment,” she says. “So how can I marry the best of the East and the West?” In her quest to stay true to her roots, Padukone became the voice of “Naatu Naatu,” the Oscar-winning Best Original Song from the movie RRR.

Through her success, Padukone represents the ideals of modern Indian women, someone confident and free, who can choose their own path in life. As she contemplates her next move, one thing is sure: Padukone will continue to inspire and uplift those around her. “I am going to focus on projects that resonate with me. It’s more about putting out good creative content than about anything else.”

Deepika Padukone: From Outsider to Bollywood Superstar

Deepika Padukone’s rise to fame in Bollywood has been anything but smooth. An outsider to the industry, Padukone has managed to defy the odds and establish herself as one of the most sought-after actresses in Hindi cinema. Her journey began with her debut film, Om Shanti Om, a tribute to the golden age of Bollywood. Paired with superstar Shah Rukh Khan, Padukone managed to hold her own and make a mark in the industry.

However, it wasn’t all smooth sailing for Padukone after her debut. While critics and audiences alike showered her with praise for her performance in Om Shanti Om, her subsequent films failed to match the success of her debut. Critics began to view her acting as mediocre at best, and her choices were scrutinized.

Despite the criticism, Padukone remained undeterred. She acknowledged her mistakes and recognized that she was still figuring out her way in the industry. Speaking about her early years in Bollywood, Padukone said, “in those years is this girl who was touted as the next big thing, but actually, she was only just figuring her way out.”

Padukone’s resilience paid off, as she continued to work hard and take on challenging roles. Her performances in films like Cocktail, Chennai Express, and Bajirao Mastani garnered critical acclaim, cementing her status as a leading lady in Bollywood. She even ventured into Hollywood with her role in xXx: Return of Xander Cage.

Her journey to stardom has not been without its challenges, however. As an outsider to the industry, Padukone faced constant scrutiny over her acting, appearance, and personal life. In particular, the pervasive issue of nepotism in Bollywood has sparked heated debate in recent years, with many insiders acknowledging the inherent advantage that celebrity children have in the industry.

Despite the challenges, Padukone remains firm in her commitment to her craft. She has proved time and again that talent and hard work can overcome even the toughest obstacles. As her co-star and collaborator Shah Rukh Khan put it, working with Padukone is like “working with family.”

Deepika Padukone,has been making strides both in India and internationally through her acting career and social activism. While she has faced backlash for her political views and controversial film roles, she remains steadfast in her mission to push boundaries and elevate Indian cinema on a global stage.

Padukone’s evolution as an actress has been praised by Hindi film critic Anupama Chopra, who notes that her breakthrough roles in films like “Cocktail,” “Chennai Express,” and “Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram Leela” led to her unforgettable performance in “Piku,” where she showcased her comedic skills and broke away from typical Bollywood stereotypes.

In 2017, Padukone made her Hollywood debut in “xXx: Return of Xander Cage” alongside Vin Diesel, a step that allowed her to push different boundaries and explore new opportunities. Reflecting on her experience, she admits that acting in English for the first time was strange but ultimately rewarding.

Despite her success, Padukone has also faced fierce opposition from conservative Hindu nationalists who have taken issue with her film roles and political views. For instance, her starring role in the 2018 film “Padmaavat,” which depicted the relationship between a Hindu queen and Muslim Sultan, led to rumors of a love scene between the two characters and sparked violent protests from Hindu vigilantes. The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party even offered a bounty of $1.5 million for her beheading, and local police detained the official responsible.

In 2020, Padukone made headlines when she stood silently at a student protest against an anti-Muslim citizenship law at New Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University. While Bollywood stars traditionally do not speak up or protest, her actions were a rare example of a public figure calling out the Indian government under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Padukone has chosen to remain silent about these controversies and continues to take on controversial film roles, including the part of a Pakistani spy in her upcoming film “Pathaan.” Despite facing constant political backlash, she takes a minimalist approach to the controversy, saying, “I don’t know if I’m supposed to feel something about it. But the truth is, I don’t feel anything about it.”

While Bollywood has faced criticism for its storytelling and content, Padukone believes that India needs to focus on making better Hindi cinema that connects with the rest of the country. She has served on the eight-member jury of the 75th Cannes Film Festival and has been vocal about the need to showcase more Indian films on a global stage. She notes that Hindi cinema has evolved, but there is still much work to be done, and more diverse content needs to be recognized.

Padukone believes that India’s movie industry is not limited to Hindi films and wants to see more recognition for Indian films on a global level. She hopes that the recognition of more diverse content will inspire India’s film industry to elevate its storytelling and push the boundaries of what is expected from Hindi cinema.

“I don’t think we should be happy with one Oscar for a song and one Oscar for a documentary,” Padukone says. “I hope we can look at this as the beginning of an opportunity.”

Padukone has been open about her struggles with depression and founded the Live Love Laugh foundation to raise awareness and support for mental health resources. Her actions have sparked conversation about mental health across India, where an estimated 56 million people suffer from depression. Padukone is grateful for the support she has received from fans and is committed to staying grounded and true to herself. Her husband, Ranveer Singh, is a fellow actor who supports her dreams and ambitions.

In 2015, Padukone shocked the public when she publicly shared her experience with depression, although she was at the height of her career. By speaking out, she knew she was taking a risk with her job security and reputation. “But when I spoke about it, it just felt extremely liberating,” she says. It led her to create the Live Love Laugh Foundation which is operated by her sister, and it is aimed to create awareness about mental health in India.

Her actions have had an enormous impact on her fans in India, where mental health services are in short supply. “A lot of other celebrities have spoken about [mental health] since then, but more importantly, a lot of non-celebrities have also spoken about it,” says Anisha, Padukone’s sister. “This is an illness that doesn’t discriminate.” Her honesty and authenticity have made Padukone one of the most popular stars in India.

Besides acting, Padukone has launched her own cosmetic brand, 82°E, out of the desire to talk about self-care more broadly. She is thrilled to be able to give back to her fans and support them as they go through their mental health struggles. “The beautiful part is that millions of them will probably never meet me, but they’re still on the journey of life with me,” she says. “They understand my body language, my expressions, my silences.”

Despite her success, Padukone is committed to staying true to herself. She believes that honesty and authenticity are vital to maintaining a healthy mind and staying grounded. “I will also give myself a little bit of credit that, for whatever reason, I’ve been able to keep myself grounded,” she says. She credits her husband, fellow actor Ranveer Singh, for helping her stay true to herself.

Singh is known for his quirky personality and sense of humour. He often plays pranks on his co-stars and has been known to pose nude for photoshoots. He also supports his wife in everything she does. The couple just returned from a holiday in Bhutan, where they spent their time sightseeing, walking and enjoying local cuisine. Padukone is grateful for their time together, saying, “With him, I am my most vulnerable self.”

Indian actress and style icon Deepika Padukone has become a major force in the fashion industry, endorsing brands from Levi’s to Louis Vuitton and generating millions of dollars in media impact value through her social media presence. Her 2018 wedding, where she married fellow actor Ranveer Singh in a lavish ceremony, has also had a major impact on the Indian wedding market, inspiring other couples and cementing her status as a fashion icon. The couple’s nuptials remain one of the most popular posts on Instagram, with wedding aesthetics in India estimated to be worth around $50 billion.

Padukone’s star power has made her a valuable asset for fashion brands looking to break into the growing Indian market, and she has helped brands like Louis Vuitton and Dior to connect with Indian consumers. Dior recently held its first official show in the country, near the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel in Mumbai, signalling the brand’s recognition of the potential of the Indian market. In addition to luxury brands, India is also becoming a major market for apparel and footwear, with the industry predicted to be worth over $83 billion by 2025.

Padukone acknowledges the rich heritage of India, but also recognises the emergence of a new and young India. Her stardom places her at the fulcrum of these two Indias, and she is excited by the intersection of tradition and modernity that characterises India today. Her appeal to Indian consumers is indicative of an emerging trend in the fashion industry, with brands increasingly turning to local influencers to connect with local audiences.

As Padukone explains, “There’s the India with our roots, our heritage, our history, but there’s also a new and young India that’s emerging. It’s these two Indias coming together that I find really fascinating at this moment.” Her influence and popularity point to a bright future for the Indian fashion industry, as brands seek to tap into this growing market and connect with Indian consumers. (TIME)

Ekal Vidyalaya Organizes A Tribute To The Musical Diversity Of Bollywood

A lilting melody, familiar lyrics, outstanding voices of legend, and there is nothing more evocative of our yesteryears than Bollywood music.

The mere onset of a favorite song instantly transports us to our motherland, flooding people  with a sea of memories that are the fabric of our being. The rich musical tapestry of Bollywood songs tugs at hearts, bringing comfort and yearning alike, and most of all creating an enchanting experience for all.

Ekal Vidyalaya invites you to witness a magical experience like that at its Bollywood fundraiser concert “Maa Tujhe Salaam” on May 13, 2023 at Cameron Middle School, in Framingham, MA from 3 – 6 pm.

Picture : TheUNN

Featuring Vishwanath Batunge and his talented group of Sa Re Ga Ma fame from India, it promises to be a fantastic musical experience.

“Maa Tujhe Salaam will celebrate our love for our motherland along with giving tribute to all mothers, while benefiting Bharat Mata’s underprivileged kids and women at the same time,” said Manisha Jain, President Ekal USA, New England chapter. “What better way to begin Mother’s Day celebration than attending an enchanting concert!”

Doors will open at 2pm for the social hour at Cameron Middle School in Framingham, and guests will be able to enjoy free refreshments sponsored by Maya Indian Bar & Grill. Photo opportunities will be galore with the talented husband wife duo of Ammara’s Photography.

Several small businesses and non-profit organizations will be showcased, notably, SheSha Indian clothing, Mayin Arts fashion accessories, Vastra Collections clothing store, Bewitched Boutique Desi Bazaar, Indian Circle of Caring, New York Life Insurance, and Dreamhomes with Geetanjali Pathak to name a few.

Guests will also have the opportunity to Shop for a Cause, at the Ekal Ethnic Clothes Table, for new and gently used Indian clothing at a fraction of a cost – with all proceeds supporting Ekal’s work in remote rural India. Seating begins at 3pm and the concert will begin at 3:30 sharp.

The Ekal Vidyalaya Foundation, USA is a nonprofit service organization which dedicates itself to bringing education and village development to rural India. With ongoing work in the remote and tribal villages of India, the Ekal movement is the largest grassroots NGO in

India. Ekal’s Integrated Village Development (IVD) is a focused effort to help rural villages become prosperous and self-reliant through education, health services, and skills training.

Ekal looks forward to a wonderful musical evening with its supporters and patrons. Click here for tickets and donations. https://tinyurl.com/EKALMA .

Salman Khan Wants To Be A Father, Says Law Doesn’t Support It

Bollywood superstar Salman Khan, who recently made a successful comeback with the film “Kisi Ka Bhai Kisi Ki Jaan” has expressed his desire to become a father. In a recent interview on the show “Aap ki Adalat,” the actor shared his plans for fatherhood, stating, “Abhi main kya bolu woh toh plan toh tha. Bahu ka nahi tha, but bachay ka tha. Lekin ab law ke hisaab se woh toh Hindustan mein ho nahi sakta. Toh ab dekhenge kya kare (I had plans. It wasn’t for a daughter-in-law, but for a child. But according to the Indian laws, it’s not possible. Now, let us see what can be done).” He also mentioned how he had been trying to follow in the footsteps of director Karan Johar, who had twins through surrogacy.

“Bachchon ka bada shauk hai mujhe. I love kids,” said Khan, expressing his fondness for children. However, he added that having children would also mean having a mother in their lives, and he already has a lot of “mothers” in his family. “Maa unke liye bahut acchi hai, lekin hamare ghar mein maa hi maa padi hai sir. Humare paas pura zila hai, pura gaon hai. Woh unka accha khayal rakh lengi. Lekin uski maa, meri patni hogi (A mother is good for them, but we have a lot of mothers at home. But my kid’s real mother will also be my wife),” he said.

The actor also joked about his bad luck in love when asked about his marriage plans, saying that it’s all in God’s hands now. “I am unlucky in love,” he quipped. However, he also added that if he has children in the next 4-5 years, he will have plenty of time to play with them for the next 20-25 years.

Salman Khan’s desire to become a father through surrogacy has sparked a debate in India, as surrogacy laws in the country have been tightened in recent years. While surrogacy is still legal in India, it is only allowed for married couples, and only if they have been unable to conceive naturally after five years of trying. Khan’s comments have led to discussions about whether the laws should be revised to allow more people to have children through surrogacy.

Khan also mentioned that he has been keeping up with Karan Johar, who had twins through surrogacy in 2017. “Wahi main koshish kar raha tha lekin woh law shayad change ho gaya hai. Toh ab dekhenge (That’s what I was trying to do. But, that law may have changed, so let’s see),” he said.

Salman Khan’s desire to become a father has delighted his fans, who are eagerly waiting for him to start a family. With his star power and influence, the actor’s comments may also lead to a wider discussion about surrogacy laws in India, and whether they need to be revised to allow more people to have children.

“Dancing on the Grave”

Shakereh Khaleeli was described as “rich and beautiful” and belonging to one of the “most aristocratic families” in southern India, yet she tragically vanished in 1991. For three years, her second husband – Murali Manohar Mishra, who went by Swami Shraddhananda – made up stories about her whereabouts. It was only in 1994 that her remains were excavated from beneath their Bengaluru home after Shakereh had been drugged, forced into a wooden casket and buried alive. In 2003, the trial court convicted Shraddhananda for her murder and issued him the death penalty which was later confirmed by the High Court. The courts found that he had married her for her wealth and properties worth billions of rupees. However, it was ultimately commuted to life imprisonment without remission by the Supreme Court-describing it as a case of “a man’s vile greed coupled with devil’s cunning”.

Picture : TheUNN

Recently, there has been renewed interest in this tragic story due to Amazon Prime Video releasing a four-part web series called “Dancing on the Grave” – derived from reports that Shraddhananda held dance parties over Shakereh’s grave. Chandni Ahlawat Dabas of India Today Originals Production states that “despite being 30 years old, we felt that this was a crime that needed to be shared because it’s such a mystery even today”. After immersing viewers into Shakereh’s life with its first two episodes (granddaughter of Sir Mirza Ismail- credited with building several landmark buildings and monuments; fashionista who drove vintage cars), the docuseries next looks at shocking circumstances surrounding her murder- namely how someone so affluent could have been swayed by Shraddhananda despite his lack of social background or magical powers claims.

Throughout investigations and trials which lasted thirty long years, Shraddenanda continuously insisted on his innocence. Now while viewing Dancing on the Grave you may be grappling with doubts- however producer Patrick Graham asserts “we hear his side of the story more so because we never heard from him in past three decades…and moreover he gave us invaluable insights into Shakereh’s character”.

Through interviews with jail inmates and drawings done by Shraddenada himself revealing intricate details about his lifestyle during imprisonment; one single question comes to mind- did he commit this heinous act out of an innate desire for power? Or is he truly innocent? The show does not definitively answer this query however questions posed are undeniable refreshing compared to regular true crime episodes where criminals come across as geniuses – something Schradenada can categorically be excluded from due to playing psychological games as evident when producers claimed they were done getting swayed by him after having robust conversations leading up to his rant about being innocent aboard unjustly treated.

This series is sure to captivate audiences across all ages offering suspenseful flashbacks while ultimately concluding “with viewers drawing their own conclusions” just like eight judges did before them- sentencing Shakereh Khaleeli’s murderer thirty long years ago.

Pathaan Vs Tiger To Unite Superstars After 28 Years

Following the immense success of Pathaan, Yash Raj Films (YRF) will be producing a film starring Bollywood heavyweights Shah Rukh Khan and Salman Khan. The news was shared by Bollywood trade analyst, Taran Adarsh on Twitter, who revealed that the film will be directed by Pathaan director Siddharth Anand.

Touted to be the biggest Bollywood film till date, Tiger VS Pathaan is expected to go on floors in 2024. According to media reports, the film is part of the YRF Spy Universe, which is centered on a series of spy action-thriller films, featuring various fictional RAW agents duch as Tiger (Salman Khan) in Ek Tha Tiger, Kabir (Hrithik Roshan) in WAR and Pathaan(SRK) in Pathaan.

The upcoming movie will mark the onscreen return of Shah Rukh Khan and Salman Khan in USAlead roles after their last performance together in the 1995 film Karan Arjun. Since then, the duo collaborated on and off on movies, making special appearances in each other’s films, including their latest Tiger, Pathaan, Zero, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, and Hum Tumhare Hai Sanam. According to the media, Shah Rukh is said to be appearing in a cameo in Salman and Katrina Kaif’s third instalment of the Tiger franchise. Salman Khan’s Tiger 3 will feature Emraan Hashmi playing the role of an antagonist. The film will hit the theatres on November 10.

Innocent (1948-2023): An Actor Par Excellence Is No More

Innocent, a versatile film actor and former member of the Indian Parliament, who also served as the president of A.M.M.A for 15 years, passed away on Sunday, march 26th, 2023, ending a long career as an actor who has touched millions of lives through his brilliance and ability to make people laugh though his innovative natural talents. The iconic actor will be cherished for his flawless ability to elicit laughter, both on and off-screen.

Innocent breathed his last on Sunday at the age of 75 after battling cancer several times over the last 10 years. The former Lok Sabha member, who also served as the president of the Association of Malayalam Movie Artists (A.M.M.A) from 2003 to 2018, was taken to the VPS Lakeshore Hospital in Kochi on March 3 due to breathing issues and uneasiness.

Cancer Wardile Chiri (Laughter in the Cancer Ward) was the title Innocent gave to his memoir which detailed his battle with cancer, and it was a fitting one. “Innocent is the cure to cancer. His comedic approach to the illness proved to be more successful than the medical care he had, I can attest,” cancer specialist Dr VP Gangadharan, under whom the actor began the treatment in 2012, said commenting on the book.

An actor par excellence, Innocent was, for many decades, the epitome of comedy for Malayalam film audiences. In his illustrious career spanning over 50 years, which started with AB Raj’s Nrithasala (1972), Innocent has acted in 750+ films.

Though Innocent started his journey in the early 1970s, his acting career didn’t really take off until 1981. That year, he donned the hat of a producer for the first time and, along with David Kachappilli, brought to life the film Vida Parayum Munpe which was directed by Mohan and scripted by John Paul.

Picture : Indian Express

Innocent, the actor, too turned a lot of heads when the movie debuted to widespread critical acclaim. With Bharathan’s Ormakkayi (1982) and K G George’s Panchavadi Palam (1984), he continued the run. Although Innocent received only three to four films a year till 1984, the tide turned in 1985 and the actor starred in at least 17 films that year. The number increased further in 1986 when he appeared in over 30 movies, becoming a staple of Malayalam cinema, and Innocent was never forced to look back.

The most appealing aspect of Innocent was his ability to effortlessly adopt any persona and reveal all of its nuances. Some of the characteristics that made Innocent an unrivalled talent included his facial expressions, gestures, diction, and how naturally he used his body. This was demonstrated by his roles in movies like Akkare Ninnoru Maran (1985), Gandhinagar 2nd Street (1986), Unnikale Oru Kadha Parayam (1987), Nadodikkattu (1987), and Vadakkunokkiyantram (1989). He rarely dropped any stones while performing comedic scenes. Because of the pair’s no-holds-barred performances, people still chuckle at Innocent and actor Jagathi Sreekumar’s superb combination scenes in Priyadarshan’s Mukunthetta Sumitra Vilikkunnu (1988).

Innocent’s career, however, peaked in 1989 with Siddique-Lal’s debut film, Ramji Rao Speaking, in which he played a character named Mannar Mathai, the owner of a theatre troupe. Much attention was drawn to his comedic timing and the subtleties he added to the character. To put it into other words, for non-Malayalis to understand how great his performance was, it was based on this character (and the movie) that Priyadarshan later developed the character Baburao Ganpatrao Apte aka Babu Bhaiya (and the 2000 film Hera Pheri). Due to the abundance of humour the director duo Siddique and Lal, who also penned the story, managed to include in the film, the part offered Paresh Rawal one of his biggest career hits and did the same for Innocent. Since Ramji Rao Speaking was a slapstick comedy, the character Mannar Mathai had various scenes that were exaggerated versions of actual events. But Innocent demonstrated his mastery of comedy by never going overboard and staying in line at all times while making sure the exaggerated components persisted.

Further, his performances in Peruvannapurathe Visheshangal and Mazhavil Kavadi (1989), Thoovalsparsham, Gajakesariyogam and Dr Pasupathy, No.20 Madras Mail, and Kottayam Kunjachan (1990) awed spectators.

The year 1991 witnessed a never-seen-before Innocent as he played a wide range of characters that appeared to be outside of his comfort zone, but in reality, never were. While his portrayals of Kittunni in Kilukkam and Yashwant Sahai, a politician from north India, in Sandesham brought about laughter, the actor’s performances as Lazer, the crooked antagonist, in Bharathan’s Keli and Sheshadri Iyer, a corrupt police officer in Priyadarshan’s Adhwaytham, made it clear that he could play any role and that he was underutilised. Innocent replicated the feat in 1993 as well with his outstanding performances in Siddique-Lal’s Kabooliwala and Vietnam Colony, and IV Sasi’s Devaasuram. Warrier in Devaasuram is considered one of the best performances of the veteran actor.

Even while associating with filmmakers who predominantly made comedy movies, Innocent was always one of the favourites of parallel cinema makers too. He also worked in the films of master directors like K G George, G Aravindan, Padmarajan, Bharathan and Lenin Rajendran, among others. In addition to Vida Parayum Munpe, the actor produced three movies at the beginning of his career: Ilakkangal, Ormakkayi, and Lekhayude Maranam Oru Flashback; and, needless to say, all of them were unconventional works that later gained a cult status. Lekhayude Maranam Oru Flashback by K G George, said to be based on the tragic life of yesteryear actor Shoba, is now regarded as a seminal work in Malayalam cinema. The actor also penned stories for two films – Pavam IA Ivachan (1994) and Keerthanam (1995).

For Malayali moviegoers, his collaborations with actors Mohanlal, KPAC Lalitha, Jagathi Sreekumar, Thilakan, Kalpana, Urvashi, Jagadish, Mukesh, and Nedumudi Venu are still highly memorable.

Yet with all of this, the most potent weapon in his arsenal was his capacity to make people laugh, both on and off-screen. Even when his battle with cancer was at its worst Innocent never missed an opportunity to make people laugh, including those who were taking care of him at the hospitals and his colleagues within the film industry and political circles.

Speaking to Mumbai Mirror in 2015, Kerala Minister M B Rajesh dearly recalled Innocent’s humour sense while the two were members of the Lok Sabha. “In the middle of a heated debate, when tempers are high, Innocent will creep up behind you and slowly whisper, ‘Shall I jump into the well? I am not scared of anyone.’” According to the Mumbai-based newspaper, stories about him were legends in the Central Hall of Parliament. He, apparently, once asked businessman and then Rajya Sabha MP Vijay Mallya to get him three cups of coffee, confusing the latter for a Coffee Board waiter.

At the same time, the actor’s bravery in his fight against cancer and the way he used to talk about it without inhibitions have been praised numerous times by people, including his coworkers. He was also one of the first Malayalam celebrities to openly discuss his battle with cancer, an illness that still carries a lot of taboos. In one of the episodes of Kairali TV’s JB Junction, a Malayalam chat show hosted by CPI(M) Rajya Sabha MP and the channel’s managing director John Brittas, Innocent spoke candidly about this and stated: “I think a lot of people gained from that (him addressing his disease). Fear ebbed away for them. There is a lot of false information floating around regarding cancer. There are a lot of fake doctors who offer bogus medical care around us.”

But the one time Malayalis witnessed an entirely broken Innocent was when his wife Alice was diagnosed with breast cancer. Even then, the two did not concede defeat and both of them emerged victorious yet again. The three-time recipient of the Kerala State Film Awards shared a close with his family, especially his grandkids Anna and Innocent Jr.

Even after being diagnosed with cancer, Innocent never left the silver screen. Even while receiving treatment, he balanced acting with his duties at the A.M.M.A. Since 1980, the only year in which Innocent did not appear in any movies was 2020, as he was undergoing treatment. But he returned to the world of motion pictures in 2020 and did five more movies. The actor was last seen in Shaji Kailas’ Kaduva (2022). Nonetheless, thousands of moviegoers will have the opportunity to bid farewell to the legend as his final movie, Paachuvum Albhuthavilakkum by Akhil Sathyan, will be released posthumously on April 28.

Naatu Naatu, The Elephant Whisperers & Padukone Make India Shine At Academy Awards

India shone bright at the 95th Academy awards. As an ecstatic MM Keeravani sang out his thanks in tune with that Carpenter’s immortal sappy ditty, the auditorium exploded in hoots, whistles and loud cheers. His ‘namaste’, a delightful little tailpiece to his acceptance speech, echoed the sentiments of a billion Indians on the top of the world after ‘Naatu Naatu’ won the Best Original Song at the Academy awards.

With “Naatu Naatu”, the hit dance track from “RRR”, documentary feature “All That Breathes” and short documentary “The Elephant Whisperers” up for an Oscar, the 95th Academy Awards could well be India’s moment to shine at perhaps the most glittering of all showbiz stages today. It is the first time that India-made productions have earned so many Oscar nominations.

India’s win at Oscars 2023 brings up one of our major strengths, which is being unafraid of sentiment, of bringing something real and emotional to a world that has been taken over by pallid superheroes and their even more pallid tales.

Picture : India Glitz

It’s not just the song which had had the globe dancing to its tune from S S Rajamouli’s blockbuster ‘RRR’ that made history at this edition of the Oscars. It was also the Best Documentary Short award for the ‘The Elephant Whisperers’, a heartwarming film on the deep bond between a pair of elephants and their humans, directed by Kartiki Gonsalves, and produced by Guneet Monga. If you haven’t seen the 40 minute film on Netflix, featuring the charming Raghu and Ammu, and Bomman and Bellie, get right to it: it truly is a testament to, as Gonsalves said, the ‘sacred bond between us and the natural world and respect for indigenous

Naatu Naatu was the first Indian win in the Best original song category, and Gonsalves the first Indian to win in the short docu category. India’s cup would have brimmeth over if Shaunak Sen had won the Best Documentary Feature for ‘All That Breathes’, a haunting film about a pair of Delhi-based brothers who care for injured kites falling from the skies. That loss will be a lasting regret.

Shaunak Sen didn’t win the Best Documentary Feature for ‘All That Breathes’. But even as Sen’s film kept winning hearts on the festival circuit, from Sundance to Cannes, and we kept our fingers and toes tightly crossed, it was ‘Navalny’, about the imprisoned Russian dissident and hardcore Putin critic Alexei Navalny which had been gathering momentum in the build-up to the Oscars. This was always going to be the year that anti-war sentiment was everywhere, with ‘All Quiet On The Western Front’ the front-runner in the race, which lost out, quite rightly, to Everything Everywhere All At Once.

The German war epic, directed by Edward Berger, had to be content with the Best International Feature, original score, production design and cinematography, and it lost out, quite rightly to the totally bonkers genre-bending multiverse sci-fi-action-adventure ‘Everything Everywhere All At Once’, directed by Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert.

Still, two out of three is not a bad strike. History doesn’t always have to be grand sweeps. It can be made out of these small incremental steps, because of what they mean once the hurly burly of the awards night and the zillion pre-Oscars and post-Oscars after parties are done and dusted.

An award on a stage where the world is watching opens up doors not just for the film and its makers, but also the country they represent. Those who’ve been dismissing the ‘song-and-dance’ spectacles of Indian mainstream movies, are now dancing to the infectious rhythms of ‘Naatu Naatu’, even as SS Rajamouli’s RRR will always come with a caveat of whether or not it was truthful to the lives of the revolutionaries it was based on.

Picture : NDTV

But this is a time to celebrate, not nit-pick. As first-time Oscar presenter Deepika Padukone, the lights on stage making her even more luminous, asked the audience quite rhetorically: do you know ‘Naatu Naatu’, and it played out on stage, it was a moment.

That live performance may not have matched the mad energy of the song that you see in the film, but the win, which had looked like a shoo-in from the time it was nominated, brings to the fore the joyousness of music, and the stories that can be told via song when words fail. It brings up one of the major strengths of Indian cinema, which is being unafraid of sentiment, of bringing something real and emotional to a world which has been taken over by pallid superheroes and their even more pallid tales which all look and feel similar.

Shah Rukh Khan’s Blockbuster Enters Rs 1000 Crore Club

Even after nearly a month in theatres, Shah Rukh Khan’s Pathaan is witnessing extraordinary box office success. The film has crossed the coveted Rs 1000 crore mark worldwide and is also slowly inching towards becoming the top Hindi-language film domestically. Pathaan has been unaffected by new releases this week, Kartik Aaryan’s Shehzada and Marvel’s Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania.

Trade analyst Taran Adarsh reported, “Pathaan will breach ₹ 500 cr mark today [fourth Tue; Day 28]…⭐️ FIRST #Hindi film to achieve this target.
⭐️ Also, FASTEST to hit ₹ 500 cr [#Hindi, Nett BOC]. [Week 4] Fri 2.20 cr, Sat 3.25 cr, Sun 4.15 cr, Mon 1.20 cr. Total: ₹ 498.95 cr. #Hindi. #India biz.” He also said the film has earned Rs 516.92 cr across all languages. “Pathaan #Tamil + #Telugu [Week 4] Fri 5 lacs, Sat 7 lacs, Sun 10 lacs, Mon 5 lacs. Total: ₹ 17.97 cr. ⭐️ NOTE: #Pathaan #Hindi + #Tamil + #Telugu *combined* biz: ₹ 516.92 cr. #India biz. Nett BOC.”

It is still some way to go before crossing the Hindi version of Baahubali: The Conclusion, which made Rs 510.99 crore. In its fourth weekend, the film added over Rs 10 crore to its total collection in the Hindi market. On Friday, it earned Rs 2.20 crore, Rs 3.25 crore came on Saturday, which was followed by a strong Sunday of Rs 4.15 crore. On Monday, Yash Raj Films shared the worldwide collections of Pathaan till Sunday. A tweet by YRF read, “#Pathaan streak continues to soar ?” as it shared that the film has earned Rs 996 cr worldwide. With Monday’s collection adding up, the film has zoomed past the Rs 1000 cr mark. As per Box Office Worldwide, the film’s domestic gross collection is Rs 623 crore and overseas gross collection is Rs 377 crore, which brings its worldwide gross collection to Rs 1000 crore. Shah Rukh Khan was eagerly waiting for Pathaan to touch the Rs 1000 cr mark. On Monday, he conducted an Ask SRK session during which he told a Twitter user about his lucky number. When the user asked him if Shah Rukh has any lucky number, the actor replied, “Right now any number above 1000 ha ha ha #Pathaan.”

With the massive success of Pathaan, it remains to be seen if other Bollywood superstars can regain lost glory. Recently, Kartik Aaryan who saved Bollywood from being written off in 2022 with his film Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2, has failed miserably with his latest film Shehzada. Now, Akshay Kumar, who starred in four flops last year, is returning this Friday with his film Selfiee.

‘Pathaan’ First Hindi Film To Make $100 Million Without China Release

Continuing its powerhouse run at worldwide turnstiles, Shah Rukh Khan’s espionage actioner ‘Pathaan’ has topped the global box office century mark (that is, in million dollars), getting there in 12 days on Sunday, reports ‘Deadline’.

And now with its earnings going up to $103.6 million through Monday, it is the first Bollywood movie to reach the $100-million milestone without a China release, ‘Deadline’ adds.

The split sits at Rs 526 gross crore ($64.2 million) in India and $39.4 million from overseas markets through Monday. Already, the Siddharth Anand-directed movie is the biggest Bollywood movie ever globally in the original Hindi language.

Picture : TheUNN

This is where, according to ‘Deadline’, it gets slightly confusing in terms of the records posted. Aamir Khan-starrers ‘Dangal’ and ‘Secret Superstar’, both Bollywood titles, remain ahead of ‘Pathaan’ worldwide, but that includes more than $100 million each from China, where the movies were dubbed for local audiences.

Similarly, ‘Bajrangi Bhaijaan’, which features Salman Khan, who also appears in ‘Pathaan’, is still ahead globally, having had a dubbed China release. There is no word yet on a China window for ‘Pathaan’.

In India, notes ‘Deadline’, where box office earnings are measured in both gross and net figures, ‘Pathaan’ maker Yash Raj Films reports that the film’s Rs 438.5 crore net takings on Monday surpassed the net of the Hindi-dubbed version of the Yash-starrer ‘KGF 2’ (it was originally in the Kannada language).

Next ahead of ‘Pathaan’ on a net basis is S.S. Rajamouli’s ‘Baahubali 2’ with a Rs 510-crore ($61.7 million) lifetime collection in Hindi (the film was originally in Telugu). Whichever way you slice it, as ‘Deadline’ puts it, ‘Pathaan’ is having an incredible ride.

Pathaan Surpassing Dangal To Become The Highest Grossing Film Worldwide

Siddharth Anand, who has directed YRF Spy Universe’s latest offering Pathaan, is ecstatic that the film has become the highest grossing film worldwide, thereby surpassing Dangal. Pathaan also breached 400 crore nett in India, the first Hindi film to do so in the history of Hindi cinema.

Siddharth says, “The fact that Pathaan is the highest worldwide grossing film in the history of Hindi cinema and the first Hindi film to breach 400 crore nett in India, means people have showered enormous amount of love on the film and have gotten entertained thoroughly!”

He adds, “As a director, I’m most thrilled about this! The fact that so many single screens cinemas have reopened and have again had housefull signs across India, that people have danced, clapped, whistled, rooted at every song and so many scenes of the film, means that we have created a film that has genuinely entertained audiences globally, and this is a rare feeling and currently I’m just enjoying that.”

Siddharth is also the record holder of an incredible feat in Hindi cinema! He is the only Hindi film director to have delivered five 50+ crore nett box office days and also five 100+ crore worldwide gross box office days with War and Pathaan, with the SRK starrer delivering 4 out of 5!

He says, “The feeling has not sunk in yet because it is such a huge one. To have directed a film that has smashed all records, that has become the No. 1 hindi film of all time is very daunting. I hope that I can entertain people to this level again. I will work just as hard and focus on my craft and try and keep making the cinema that appeals to all audience segments like War and now Pathaan has done.”

With War and now Pathaan, Siddharth has become the undisputed number one director of his genre in India. While War with Hrithik Roshan, Tiger Shroff & Vaani Kapoor collected 477 crore gross worldwide, with Pathaan starring Shah Rukh Khan, Deepika Padukone & John Abraham, Siddharth has already given a film that has grossed 832.20 crore worldwide so far and delivered the highest grossing film of YRF’s Spy Franchise.

‘It Would Be Great If Aditya Chopra Wants To Bring Jim Back!’

John Abraham Hopes That A Prequel To His Character That Reveals His Backstory Is Made

YRF’s Spy Universe unleashed its most notorious villain in the form of John Abraham aka Jim in Pathaan. A patriot-turned-ruthless mercenary, John has got unanimous praise for his brilliant acting and forte in action sequences in this negative character that has won people’s hearts. John hopes Aditya Chopra, who is carefully building the YRF Spy Universe, India’s answer to Marvel Cinematic Universe, brings Jim back and tells the world his backstory.

John, who has given Indian cinema an anti-hero that people will always remember, says, “It is incredible the amount of love that I have been receiving for playing Jim in Pathaan! As an actor, I only work for the love of audiences and fans. Records and milestones are a huge bonus and I’m grateful that Pathaan is such a historic blockbuster. I didn’t expect that people would love my character so much that they want more of Jim to be given to them.”

He adds, “I’m astounded by the number of messages I’m getting daily on my social media about how there should be a prequel to Jim. When people almost always root for the hero, and that hero is Shah Rukh Khan in Pathaan, it is hugely gratifying that people are rooting for the anti-hero too! I’m fortunate that my work in Pathaan has spoken loudly and hopefully, I have managed to give people an anti-hero that they will always remember. That was my intent when I heard Pathaan.”

Speaking about what he loves about Jim, the leader of notorious Outfit X, a band of deadly gun-toting mercenaries on hire, John says, “Jim is a refreshingly suave villain, with very well etched out characterisation that dives into why he became what he became! Imagine the pain he endured, imagine the hurt that broke him and turned him into the man he became. To me, Jim was a very powerful character and yes, it would be great if Aditya Chopra wants to bring him back and tell the world how good a super-spy he was and how he became a ruthless mercenary later!”

He adds, “As Luthra says in Pathaan, Jim and Kabir are the best in business. So, there could be lots to explore if a film is made on Jim. I don’t know what Aditya Chopra has in mind. As of now, I’m relishing the love that’s coming my way and I’m thankful that I have entertained people thoroughly.”

Abhishek Bachchan Proved Naysayers Wrong, Amitabh Bachchan Says

On Abhishek Bachchan’s 47th birthday, dad Amitabh Bachchan penned a long note. He said that Abhishek proved all naysayers wrong. He also said that his son made his choices and defied the norm.

Actor Amitabh Bachchan has heaped praises on his son-actor Abhishek Bachchan with a long note on his 47th birthday. Taking to his blog on Sunday, Amitabh said that Abhishek proved ‘all naysayers wrong’. He also added that Abhishek made his own choices and defied the norm. Amitabh also called his son ‘pride of the family’. (Also Read | Navya Naveli Nanda wishes ‘the best’ Abhishek Bachchan with throwback pics on birthday)

Amitabh Bachchan wrote on his blog, “And Abhishek for the 5th Feb 2023 .. and his 47th .. and how time has flown by .. going back in time all the memories of the day and the several days that kept giving us the joy and the pride and the pleasure of Abhishek .. and now to see him achieve his worth through his hard word, quietly, and proving all the naysayers wrong .. !”

He also wrote, “It is a delight for a Father for his Son but mostly for the Son who has through the dint of his hard word and perseverance shown the mettle of his calibre and his confidence .. That is the pride that one honours .. He took his own decisions .. he made his own choices .. defied the norm and proved it …. with his success…”

“Winning the Kabaddi Championship, by the select of his team, who everyone said was poor and weak and incapable .. but he inspired the boys and came out victorious .. despite all the bias reporting and negative opinions against him and the team .. By winning the Best Actor for ‘DASVI’ .. his choice of film story and crew .. and delivering a performance that got universal praise .. a complete transformation from all that he had ever done before .. flawless and complete..,” Amitabh continued.

“Winning the Kabaddi Championship, by the select of his team, who everyone said was poor and weak and incapable .. but he inspired the boys and came out victorious .. despite all the bias reporting and negative opinions against him and the team .. By winning the Best Actor for ‘DASVI’ .. his choice of film story and crew .. and delivering a performance that got universal praise .. a complete transformation from all that he had ever done before .. flawless and complete..,” Amitabh continued.

He concluded, “And then to be the at the top of the MOFN .. the Mood Of The Nation list … that is a true reflection of his standing ..A pride of the family .. a pride for the Father .. Aaj ke din ki anek anek badhai (Many many congratulations on this day). So .. a few words to him in blessing–Family: Aaj ke din ki badhai (Wishes for today). Abhishek: Janm din ki badhai lo tum, sada raho prasanna; yeh din har din, viswa tumhara sada kare abhinandan. Sada kare abhinandan, tumko, aur raho tum swasth, pragati, khyati, tumhari kar de auro ko lathpath…auro ko lathpath ya dhwasth (Good wishes on your birthday, be happy always; may the world always greet you. may you always stay healthy, your progress, fame may make others unstable..or demolished).”

Amitabh on Sunday evening greeted his fans outside his Mumbai home. The actor was dressed in a white kurta, pyjama and white socks. He also wrapped a cream-coloured shawl as he stood on a small podium. The actor greeted his fans by waving at them. He also folded his hands and smiled at the crowd outside his home.

Amitabh was recently seen in the family entertainer film Uunchai along with Anupam Kher, Parineeti Chopra, and Boman Irani last November. Helmed by Sooraj Barjatya, the film got positive responses from the audience. He will be next seen in remake of the The Intern along with Deepika Padukone and in Project K alongside Deepika and Prabhas.

‘PATHAAN’ Is A “Superhit” As SRK Returns With A Bang

Film: ‘Pathaan’ (playing in theatres); Duration: 146 minutes; Director: Siddharth Anand; Cast: Shah Rukh Khan, Deepika Padukone, John Abraham and Dimple Kapadia.

IANS Rating: 3.5

Finally, the much-awaited Shah Rukh Khan-starrer ‘Pathaan’ hit the theatres on Wednesday. And, expectedly all the pre-release exhilaration translates into high energy rush as the film presents the story of an Indian spy, who takes on the leader of a group of mercenaries who has nefarious plans to target his homeland, captivating the audience.

That the lead actor is the ‘Badshah’ of Bollywood gives the fans all the more reason to scream, dance and sing in the cinema halls. Serpentine queues for a 6 a.m. show is a rarity in India, at least for a Hindi film. In short, the film is an espionage thriller that is most likely to lead box office collections.

Pathaan (Shah Rukh) is an exiled RAW field operative who is assigned to take down his old nemesis, Jim (John Abraham), a former RAW agent turned rogue.

Jim leads ‘Outfit X’, a private terrorist organisation, which is planning to spread a deadly virus dubbed ‘Raktbeej’ across India. The virus, if unleashed, could be much deadlier than any other virus winessed by the mankind.

Right from the opening scene, the unusually fast-paced plot moves with RAW agents, spies, terrorists and a Pakistani Army officer scheming and plotting in different parts of the world.

Rattled by the revocation of Article 370, which granted special status to the eratwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir, by the Indian government, Pakistan has all the evil intentions and the wherewithal to infiltrate and annihilate the Indian territory. For this purpose, Jim, who has a past and had been double-crossed by Indians earlier, is hired.

And here comes yet another ex-ISI agent, Rubina Khan (Deepika Padukone), leaving many guessing as to who teams with whom.

Pathaan, a diehard patriot who had retired, is called back by his boss Nandini (Dimple Kapadia). Meanwhile, their supreme boss, Colonel Sunil Luthra (Ashutosh Rana), is left worried, still trying to figure out what move to adopt to save human lives with threat of destruction looming large.

With gun-toting agents spreading destruction all around, a svelte and sexy Rubina is seen displaying her charm in a bikini that had riled up the saffron outfits until a few weeks ago when the song ‘Besharam Rang’ was released on internet.

Of course, she is aware of the past and present danger and knows precisely whom to side with as more and more evil-intentioned men appear on the scene.

Amid such chaos, if there’s one ray of hope it’s obviously the presence of the most sought-after, most-loved, and fearless Pathaan. With James Bond-like intensity, Pathaan has supreme fight sequences to match.

Crammed with high octane action that is virtually frenziedly uninterrupted and relentless, there’s not a single moment that would make the viewers take a breather.

Shah Rukh, who needs a box office blockbuster badly, is perhaps the only actor who could have looked lethal with his six -packs and delivering lines in hushed tones that melts Padukone. His charm remains intact as he tries to briefly romance, while all along diving and jumping from mountains and rooftops in a bid to oust his enemies.

And it isn’t just his young looks, his energy is so infectious that many among the cinegoers whistled every time he scored a point over his opponent. Such is his impact and following!

Padukone too proves why she was the one chosen by Hollywood to don colourful bodysuits, leggings and catsuits. John Abraham too is a perfect foil to Khan’s ripping muscles and performs well. To match Khan’s young looks, he too manages to sport a dashing fresh youthful look.

The action scenes are at par with any Hollywood production, while the cinematography by Satchith Paulose captures some exquisite landscapes in Spain, Russia, Dubai, Italy and France.

Though there is not much scope for songs in such a narrative, Vishal-Shekhar numbers are extremely catchy. All those who are still worried about Bollywood’s no show for months, can decisively breathe easy with the satisfaction that given the right production, engaging script and mega stars at the helm, Hindi cinema should be back on track! (IANS)

India Wins 3 Oscar Nominations

India received three nominations for Best Original Song (‘Naatu Naatu’ from ‘RRR’), Best Documentary Feature Film (‘All That Breathes’), and Best Documentary Short Film (‘The Elephant Whisperers’).

The Oscars are going to be held on March 13 this year and while the wait is going to be quite a long one from now, the nominations have sure lifted the spirits of not just the crew and cast of the films mentioned above, but also of everyone who hopes to see an Indian movie bagging the prestigious award.

Actor Jacqueline Fernandez penned down a heartfelt note last week as her film ‘Tell It Like A Woman’s song ‘Applause’ recently bagged an Oscar nomination in the ‘Best Original Song’ category.

The song is competing against ‘RRR’s ‘Naatu Naatu’, ‘Hold My Hand’ from the movie ‘Top Gun: Maverick,’ ‘Lift me Up’ from ‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,’ and ‘This Is Life,’ from ‘Everything, Everywhere All At Once’. The actor also congratulated the team ‘RRR’ for their Oscar nomination.

“Also big congratulations to Team RRR for Naatu Naatu nomination!!! My best wishes and love to the entire team and all the nominees,” the caption further reads.

Taking to Instagram, the ‘Kick’ actor shared a post which she captioned, “Beyond words right now Congratulations to @dianewarren @sofiacarson for the Oscar nomination for ‘Applause’ and making us all proud! It was an honor to be associated with this beautiful film ‘Tell it like a woman’ alongside such esteemed artists! Thank you @leenaclicks @chiaratilesi @lucasakoskin @andreaiervolinoproducer @wditogether @aseematographer @arrahman.”

The nominations for the upcoming 95th edition of Academy Awards were announced on last week by hosts Riz Ahmed and Allison Williams, with ‘The Banshees of Inisherin’ leading the pack with as many as nine nominations.

The Colin Farrell-starrer film got nominated in the following categories — Best Supporting Actor (two nominations), Best Supporting Actress, Best Actor, Best Director, Best Original Score, Best Picture, Best Editing and Best Original Screenplay.

‘The Fabelmans’ received seven nominations followed by ‘Tar’ and ‘TopGun: Maverick’ (six each), ‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’ (five), ‘Avatar’ (four), and ‘The Whale’ (three).

Competing for the best picture are ‘All Quiet on the Western Front’, ‘Avatar: The Way of Water’, ‘The Banshees of Inisherin’, ‘Elvis’, ‘Everything Everywhere All at Once’, ‘The Fabelmans’, ‘Tar’, ‘Top Gun: Maverick’, ‘Triangle of Sadness’ and ‘Women Talking’.

The 95th Academy Awards is set to be presented at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles on March 12. Jimmy Kimmel will be seen back as the host, after previously leading the awards show in 2017 and 2018. Last year, the Oscars returned to a host format with Amy Schumer, Wanda Sykes and Regina Hall, after going host-less the previous two years due to the Covid-19 pamdemic.

Here is the complete list of nominations:

* Best Supporting Actor

Brendan Gleeson (‘The Banshees of Inisherin’)

Brian Tyree Henry (‘Causeway’)

Judd Hirsch (‘”The Fabelmans’)

Barry Keoghan (‘The Banshees of Inisherin’)

Ke Huy Quan (‘Everything Everywhere All at Once’)

* Best Supporting Actress

Angela Bassett (‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’)

Hong Chau (‘The Whale’)

Kerry Condon (‘The Banshees of Inisherin’)

Jamie Lee Curtis (‘Everything Everywhere All at Once’)

Stephanie Hsu (‘Everything Everywhere All at Once’)

* Best Animated Feature Film

‘Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio’, Guillermo del Toro, Mark Gustafson, Gary Ungar and Alex Bulkley

‘Marcel the Shell With Shoes On’, Dean Fleischer Camp, Elisabeth Holm, Andrew Goldman, Caroline Kaplan and Paul Mezey

‘Puss in Boots: The Last Wish’, Joel Crawford and Mark Swift

‘The Sea Beast’, Chris Williams and Jed Schlanger

‘Turning Red’, Domee Shi and Lindsey Collins

* Best Animated Short Film

‘The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse’, Charlie Mackesy and Matthew Freud

‘The Flying Sailor’, Amanda Forbis and Wendy Tilby

‘Ice Merchants’, Joao Gonzalez and Bruno Caetano

‘My Year of Dicks’, Sara Gunnarsdottir and Pamela Ribon

‘An Ostrich Told Me the World Is Fake and I Think I Believe It’, Lachlan Pendragon

* Best Costume Design

‘Babylon’, Mary Zophres

‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’, Ruth Carter

‘Elvis’, Catherine Martin

‘Everything Everywhere All at Once’, Shirley Kurata

‘Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris’, Jenny Beavan

* Best Live Action Short

‘An Irish Goodbye’, Tom Berkeley and Ross White

‘Ivalu’, Anders Walter and Rebecca Pruzan

‘Le Pupille’, Alice Rohrwacher and Alfonso Cuaron

‘Night Ride’, Eirik Tveiten and Gaute Lid Larssen

‘The Red Suitcase’, Cyrus Neshvad

* Best Makeup and Hairstyling

‘All Quiet on the Western Front’, Heike Merker and Linda Eisenhamerova

‘The Batman’, Naomi Donne, Mike Marino and Mike Fontaine

‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’, Camille Friend and Joel Harlow

‘Elvis’, Mark Coulier, Jason Baird and Aldo Signoretti

‘The Whale’, Adrien Morot, Judy Chin and Anne Marie Bradley

* Best Original Score

‘All Quiet on the Western Front’, Volker Bertelmann

‘Babylon’, Justin Hurwitz

‘The Banshees of Inisherin’, Carter Burwell

‘Everything Everywhere All at Once’, Son Lux

‘The Fabelmans’, John Williams

* Best Sound

‘All Quiet on the Western Front’, Viktor Prasil, Frank Kruse, Markus Stemler, Lars Ginzel and Stefan Korte

‘Avatar: The Way of Water’, Julian Howarth, Gwendolyn Yates Whittle, Dick Bernstein, Christopher Boyes, Gary Summers and Michael Hedges

‘The Batman’, Stuart Wilson, William Files, Douglas Murray and Andy Nelson

‘Elvis’, David Lee, Wayne Pashley, Andy Nelson and Michael Keller

‘Top Gun: Maverick’, Mark Weingarten, James H. Mather, Al Nelson, Chris Burdon and Mark Taylor

* Best Adapted Screenplay

‘All Quiet on the Western Front’, Screenplay by Edward Berger, Lesley Paterson & Ian Stokell

‘Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery’, Written by Rian Johnson

‘Living’, Written by Kazuo Ishiguro

‘Top Gun: Maverick’, Screenplay by Ehren Kruger and Eric Warren Singer and Christopher McQuarrie; Story by Peter Craig and Justin Marks

‘Women Talking’, Screenplay by Sarah Polley

* Best Original Screenplay

‘The Banshees of Inisherin’, Written by Martin McDonagh

‘Everything Everywhere All at Once’, Written by Daniel Kwan & Daniel Scheinert

‘The Fabelmans’, Written by Steven Spielberg & Tony Kushner

‘Tar’, Written by Todd Field

‘Triangle of Sadness’, Written by Ruben Ostlund

* Best Cinematography

‘All Quiet on the Western Front’, James Friend

‘Bardo, False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths’, Darius Khondji

‘Elvis’, Mandy Walker

‘Empire of Light’, Roger Deakins

‘Tar’, Florian Hoffmeister

* Best Documentary Feature Film

‘All That Breathes’, Shaunak Sen, Aman Mann and Teddy Leifer

‘All the Beauty and the Bloodshed’, Laura Poitras, Howard Gertler, John Lyons, Nan Goldin and Yoni Golijov

‘Fire of Love’, Sara Dosa, Shane Boris and Ina Fichman

‘A House Made of Splinters’, Simon Lereng Wilmont and Monica Hellstrom

‘Navalny’, Daniel Roher, Odessa Rae, Diane Becker, Melanie Miller and Shane Boris

* Best Documentary Short Film

‘The Elephant Whisperers’, Kartiki Gonsalves and Guneet Monga

‘Haulout’, Evgenia Arbugaeva and Maxim Arbugaev

‘How Do You Measure a Year?’ Jay Rosenblatt

‘The Martha Mitchell Effect’, Anne Alvergue and Beth Levison

‘Stranger at the Gate’, Joshua Seftel and Conall Jones

* Best Editing

‘The Banshees of Inisherin’, Mikkel E.G. Nielsen

‘Elvis’, Matt Villa and Jonathan Redmond

‘Everything Everywhere All at Once’, Paul Rogers

‘Tar’, Monika Willi

‘Top Gun: Maverick’, Eddie Hamilton

* Best International Feature Film

‘All Quiet on the Western Front’ (Germany)

‘Argentina, 1985’ (Argentina)

‘Close’ (Belgium)

‘EO’ (Poland)

‘The Quiet Girl’ (Ireland)

* Best Original Song

‘Applause’ from ‘Tell It Like a Woman’, Music and Lyric by Diane Warren

‘Hold My Hand’ from ‘Top Gun: Maverick’, Music and Lyric by Lady Gaga and BloodPop

‘Lift Me Up’ from ‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’, Music by Tems, Rihanna, Ryan Coogler and Ludwig Goransson; Lyric by Tems and Ryan Coogler

‘Naatu Naatu’ from ‘RRR’, Music by M.M. Keeravaani; Lyric by Chandrabose

‘This Is a Life’ from ‘Everything Everywhere All at Once’, Music by Ryan Lott, David Byrne and Mitski; Lyric by Ryan Lott and David Byrne

* Best Production Design

‘All Quiet on the Western Front’, Production Design: Christian M. Goldbeck; Set Decoration: Ernestine Hipper

‘Avatar: The Way of Water’, Production Design: Dylan Cole and Ben Procter; Set Decoration: Vanessa Cole

‘Babylon’, Production Design: Florencia Martin; Set Decoration: Anthony Carlino

‘Elvis’, Production Design: Catherine Martin and Karen Murphy; Set Decoration: Bev Dunn

‘The Fabelmans’, Production Design: Rick Carter; Set Decoration: Karen O’Hara

* Best Visual Effects

‘All Quiet on the Western Front’, Frank Petzold, Viktor Muller, Markus Frank and Kamil Jafar

‘Avatar: The Way of Water’, Joe Letteri, Richard Baneham, Eric Saindon and Daniel Barrett

‘The Batman’, Dan Lemmon, Russell Earl, Anders Langlands and Dominic Tuohy

‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’, Geoffrey Baumann, Craig Hammack, R. Christopher White and Dan Sudick

‘Top Gun: Maverick’, Ryan Tudhope, Seth Hill, Bryan Litson and Scott R. Fisher

* Best Lead Actor

Austin Butler (‘Elvis’)

Colin Farrell (‘The Banshees of Inisherin’)

Brendan Fraser (‘The Whale’)

Paul Mescal (‘Aftersun’)

Bill Nighy (‘Living’)

* Best Lead Actress

Cate Blanchett (‘Tar’)

Ana de Armas (‘Blonde’)

Andrea Riseborough (‘To Leslie’)

Michelle Williams (‘The Fabelmans’)

Michelle Yeoh (‘Everything Everywhere All at Once’)

* Best Director

Martin McDonagh (‘The Banshees of Inisherin’)

Daniel Kwan, Daniel Scheinert (‘Everything Everywhere All at Once’)

Steven Spielberg (‘The Fabelmans’)

Todd Field (‘Tar’)

Ruben Ostlund (‘Triangle of Sadness’)

* Best Picture

‘All Quiet on the Western Front’, Malte Grunert, Producer

‘Avatar: The Way of Water’, James Cameron and Jon Landau, Producers

‘The Banshees of Inisherin’, Graham Broadbent, Pete Czernin and Martin McDonagh, Producers

‘Elvis’, Baz Luhrmann, Catherine Martin, Gail Berman, Patrick McCormick and Schuyler Weiss, Producers

‘Everything Everywhere All at Once’, Daniel Kwan, Daniel Scheinert and Jonathan Wang, Producers

‘The Fabelmans’, Kristie Macosko Krieger, Steven Spielberg and Tony Kushner, Producers

‘Tar’, Todd Field, Alexandra Milchan and Scott Lambert, Producers

‘Top Gun: Maverick’, Tom Cruise, Christopher McQuarrie, David Ellison and Jerry Bruckheimer, Producers

‘Triangle of Sadness’, Erik Hemmendorff and Philippe Bober, Producers

‘Women Talking’, Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner and Frances McDormand, Producers

After “PATHAN” Siddharth Anand Wants To Create More Spectacles For Bollywood Viewers

YRF’s Pathaan has become a historic hit at the box office and director Siddharth Anand is definitely one of the biggest directors of this generation in India. The film-maker, who has been backed by Aditya Chopra, to direct two towering blockbusters WAR and now Pathaan from YRF’s Spy Universe, says he is feeling greatly overwhelmed after creating history at the box office.

Siddharth says, “Scripting history. Everyone wants it, but one cant plan it. It just happens. And when it does, it’s actually a very humbling experience. I’m feeling incredibly overwhelmed right now and inspired to get back on the film set and try and create something really special for audiences again. That’s my state of mind.“

With Pathaan, Siddharth Anand becomes the only Hindi film director to have two back to back 50 crore+ openers under his credit.

He says, “I’m hungrier than before to create more spectacles and immersive experiences like Pathaan. For me, yes numbers do matter. It is a validation of all the hard work but film-making is also a team game. So, I share this incredible moment with the entire cast and crew of Pathaan. Each one of us believed in a vision to create a never seen before theatrical experience that cuts across the length and breadth of the country and I’m glad we delivered on this promise.”

Pathaan has so far created 21 new records!

1. Highest Grossing Day In The History of Hindi Cinema, Set Consecutively On Day 1 & Day 2.

2. Only Hindi Film To Breach ₹ 55 Cr NBOC Barrier, Set on Day 1.

3. Only Hindi Film To Breach ₹ 70 Cr NBOC Barrier, Set on Day 2.

4. Fastest Hindi Film To Record ₹ 100 Cr NBOC, Set on Day 2.

5. Only Hindi Film To Breach ₹ 50 Cr NBOC Barrier On Two Consecutive Days, Set on Day 2.

6. Sets Circuit Record In Every Film Circuit of India, Set on Day 2.

7. Widest Hindi Release of All Time In India, Set on Day 1.

8. Highest Grossing Opening Day For A Hindi Film Post Covid 19 Pandemic, Set Consecutively on Day 1 & Day 2.

9. Highest Grossing First Day For A Non Holiday Release, Set on Day 1.

10. Highest Grossing Second Day In The History of Hindi Cinema, Set on Day 2.

11. YRF is The Only Film Studio In India To Breach ₹ 50 Cr NBOC Barrier With A Hindi Film, Set in Years 2018, 2019 & 2023.

12. YRF Has Recorded Collections In Excess of ₹ 50 Cr NBOC Four Times in The Last 4 Years.

13. 3rd YRF Film To Cross ₹ 50 Cr+ Net Box Office Collections On The 1st Day after “WAR” and “THUGS OF HINDOSTAN”.

14. 3rd YRF SPY UNIVERSE FILM To Set An Opening Day Record After “EK THA TIGER” & “WAR”.

15. Highest Grossing First Day & Second Day for Shah Rukh Khan.

17. Highest Grossing First Day & Second Day for Deepika Padukone.

18. Highest Grossing First Day & Second Day for John Abraham.

19. Highest Grossing First Day & Second Day for Siddharth Anand.

20. Highest grossing First Day & Second Day for Yash Raj Films.

21. Highest grossing First Day & Second Day for YRF Spy Universe Films.

Siddharth says, “With War and now Pathaan, we, the Hindi film industry have given films that have pan India appeal. I have always believed that cinema has no language. Cinema is about an emotion and if it connects with people, it can really go to dizzying heights and that’s what’s happening with Pathaan.”

Siddharth is happy that Indian cinema is flourishing and creating new benchmarks with landmark global hits. He says, “Today is a victory of Indian cinema because we are all Indians first. It is such an exciting phase for our country that films from across India are making records, breaking records and most importantly entertaining the people of our country globally!”

YRF’s Pathaan is a historic hit as it collected 113.6 crore gross on day 2, taking the total worldwide collection to an astronomical 219.6 crore gross! Pathaan has become a must watch theatrical entertainer which is being celebrated across the nation. Pathaan, is part of Aditya Chopra’s ambitious spy universe and has the biggest superstars of the country Shah Rukh Khan, Deepika Padukone and John Abraham in it.

FARAAZ Opens February 3rd

Directed by National Award winner Hansel Mehta, the new thriller FARAAZ releases in North American theaters on February 3. Based on the real-life attack that ravaged a Dhaka cafe, the gripping film is a tense hostage drama that unfolds over one claustrophobic night.

The Great War of civilization cemented its polarization in the post 9/11 world. The horror was psychological as well as empirical in the way it defined the idea of survival and humanity in the upcoming decades.

Islam became a word with multiple connotations, an idea whose very existence manifested itself in war games, geo political reassessment and elections. While the Middle East suffered from modern colonialism, the subcontinent went through its own struggles. “Justice” started being meted out by mobs, kitchens were invaded by parochial attitudes and skull caps and beards became a marker of prejudice.

In this context, in a democratic, largely Islamic country, The month of Ramadan was bloodied by the worst terrorist attack Bangladesh had ever witnessed. Around 8pm, 5 boys entered an upscale restaurant opening fire, killing all a dozen hostages in a matter of a few minutes and taking everyone else hostage.

Mortified nationals were glued to their tv sets as the Holy Artisan bakery in Gulshan, Dhaka, was taken hostage along with 50 odd people. The horror unleashed by the terrorists was beyond brutal. And the irony of it all was that the terrorists shared the same faith as the majority of the country, but their approach was medieval to say the least.

The attackers, in their early 20’s, killed people who did not agree with them or who did not align with their religious beliefs. They were sure that they were on God’s mission and fate had chosen them to accomplish this holy war. The message that they wanted to send to the world was that Bangladesh was its new frontier that needed a lesson in Islam.

What followed was almost 12 hours of a harrowing experience where the hostages were surrounded by death, violence and a skewed idea of a religion that has espoused so many contradictions in the world. Security forces stuck in a quagmire, with emotions running high, the bureaucracy behind dealing with a situation of this magnitude and the prayers of multiple Bangladeshi and empathizers from across the globe hoping that the hostages somehow miraculously come out.

Through the film we see the people behind these staunch rhetorics with their own complexes and hidden agendas. Their shortcomings which guise themselves in the name of holy war and the innocent people who become unfortunate victims of religious extremism.

However, we are the stories we choose to tell the world. This is a story of resilience, resistance and rationality. It’s a story where humanity finds itself on the edge of a cliff, a slight push can make it plunge into divisive chaos, only to find its feet in the face of a grave caveat.

FARAAZ

Release Date: February 3

Director: Hansal Mehta

Cast: Zahan Kapoor, Aditya Rawal, Juhi Babbar Soni

Producers: Bhushan Kumar, Krishnan Kumar, Anubhav Sinha, Sahil Saigal, Sakshi Bhatt, Mazahir Mandasaurwala

Film Updates: https://www.facebook.com/RelianceEnt/

Subtitled Trailer: https://youtu.be/aNvVwGAtnLg

Shah Rukh Khan, Only Indian On World’s Richest Actor List

Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan with his more than three decades of work in the film industry has garnered millions of fans all over the world and an estimated net worth of ₹627 million ($770 million), making him the richest actor in Asia and fourth richest actor all over the world.

Beating famous actors like Tom Cruise, Jackie Chan, and George Clooney, Shah Rukh Khan took the fourth position in the list of eight richest actors of the world released by World of Statistics.

Shah Rukh Khan who is ready to make his comeback with his action thriller Pathan in Janaury 2023 had been away from movies for a period of almost four years sans his cameos in R. Madhavan’s Rocketry: The Nambi Effect and Ayan Mukerji’s Brahmastra Part 1: Shiva. The richest actor according to this list was Jerry Seinfeld with a net worth of ₹82 billion ($1 billion). The American actor tied with Diary of a Black Woman fame Tyler Perry at $ 1 billion. They were followed by Dwayne Johnson at ₹64 billion ($800 million).

Richest actors in the world: Jerry Seinfeld: $1 Billion Tyler Perry: $1 Billion Dwayne Johnson: $800 million Shah Rukh Khan: $770 million Tom Cruise: $620 million Jackie Chan: $520 million George Clooney: $500 million Robert De Niro: $500 million

GANDHI GODSE – EK YUDH Opens January 26

What if Gandhi had survived? Director Rajkumar Santoshi (The Legend of Bhagat Singh) delivers the powerful new historical drama GANDHI GODSE – EK YUDH which releases in cinemas across North America on Thursday, January 26, for Republic Day. With new music from Oscar winner A.R. Rahman, the film revolves around the fictional world where Mahatma Gandhi survives the attack and later meets Nathuram Godse in prison, the conversation leads to a fiery debate between them.

Uprooted during partition thousands of Hindus & Sikhs, from Pakistan are refugees in Delhi. The Indian Government struggles to provide for them. Godse holds Gandhi responsible for the partition and misery of Hindus. He shoots Gandhi on 30th January 1948. But Gandhi is miraculously saved. He pardons Godse. Gandhi suggests congress leaders that congress party should be dissolved. But the suggestion gets rejected by the congress committee.

Gandhi breaks his ties with congress, he begins his Gram Swaraj Movement to inspire and organize villages towards self-reliance. Forest conservation, eradication of cast, and fair farming practices are on his agenda. Meanwhile, the system highlights Godse’s writing and manipulates public sentiment against Gandhi whose interference has created ruckus within the government. This leads to Gandhi’s arrest. Gandhi insists on serving his sentence with Godse. They have multiple debates and arguments, even confrontations on issues of Akhand Bharat & Hindutva, Muslims Appeasement & Partition, Geeta and Non-Violence. Through dialogue they both evolve and resolve their differences.

GANDHI GODSE – EK YUDH

Release Date: January 26

Director: Rajkumar Santoshi

Cast: Deepak Antani, Chinmay Mandlekar, Tanisha Santoshi

Producers: Manila Santoshi, Ram Santoshi

Music: A.R. Rahman

Official Site: https://www.facebook.com/RelianceEnt/

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jFuDx-wSi7A

Distributor: Reliance Entertainment

Watch the new full trailer for GANDHI GODSE – EK YUDH:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jFuDx-wSi7A

Press Download – trailer video file:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/z0yyg76xeo49rg5/GANDHI_GODSE_HI-en_INT_MP4_20230110.mp4?dl=0

‘SRK’s Break Has Created Immense Excitement For Pathaan!:’ Siddharth Anand

Pathaan has become one of the most anticipated Hindi films to release worldwide in a long, long time. Touted as one of the biggest ever action spectacles that audiences will see in theatres, the visually spectacular Yash Raj Films’ action extravaganza, Pathaan, is part of Aditya Chopra’s ambitious spy universe and has the biggest superstars of the country Shah Rukh Khan, Deepika Padukone and John Abraham in it.

Director Siddharth Anand, in a video released by Yash Raj Films, talks about why Pathaan has become the most hyped film globally and how SRK’s return to the cinemas after 4 years has added to the humongous buzz that the film is carrying!

Sid says, “Directing SRK is a responsibility and it’s even more greater now because of the break that he had taken and that has created immense expectations and excitement with his audience. I am realising now, towards the end of the film into the release of the film, what and how large that fan base is. So yeah, that is an amazing feeling and it’s somewhere exciting because we know that we have hopefully made a film that they will be happy and proud of.”

About the electrifying SRK and Deepika pairing in Pathaan, Sid says, “Just the fact that SRK and DP have done so many films before and fortunately all of them have been really successful. It became a challenge to see how different can they look and so, our team really worked you know intricately to present them in a new way.”

SRK and Deepika are one of the biggest on-screen pairings in the history of Indian cinema given their epic blockbusters Om Shanti Om, Chennai Express and Happy New Year.

Sid says, “The fact that DP is looking different from her films and SRK is looking different from his films, automatically their pairing will look fresh. So that is the approach we took and it’s amazing, I think the audience is loving it.”

Watch the full video here : https://youtu.be/kgHhCKbF3X0

YRF’s adrenaline pumping film, Pathaan, is set to release on Jan 25, 2023 in Hindi, Tamil and Telugu. All the assets of the film that YRF has released so far have turned out to be super-hits right from the teaser, the two songs – Besharam Rang & Jhoome Jo Pathaan – and the recently dropped trailer that has caused an internet meltdown!

RRR’s Naatu Naatu Wins Historic Golden Globe For Best Original Song

People of Indian origin across the globe are celebrating after Telugu movie RRR created history by winning a Golden Globe – a first for the country. Written and directed by SS Rajamouli, RRR, which stands for Rise, Roar, Revolt, is a historical fantasy that tells the rollicking story of two revolutionaries who fight against British rule in India – superstars Ram Charan and Jr NTR play the lead roles.

SS Rajamouli’s hit historical epic RRR was nominated in two categories at the 80th Golden Globes, considered an important precursor to the Oscars.  Composer MM Keeravani, along with singers Kaala Bhairava and Rahul Sipligunj, has won the Golden Globe for Best Original Song, for the track “Naatu Naatu,” which became an anthem of sorts for fans of director SS Rajamouli’s RRR. The historical epic has also been nominated in the Best Non-English Language Film category at the 80th Golden Globes.

Naatu Naatu, a four-and-a-half-minute stomper of a song, features Charan and Jr NTR, and has had thousands grooving to its beat. Their energetic moves have inspired viral trends on social media in India and globally.

The film’s catchy musical number, Naatu Naatu, was awarded best original song, beating heavyweights like Taylor Swift and Rihanna. The hit song was filmed in front of Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky’s official residence in 2021.  Accepting the award, composer MM Keeravani said he was thrilled by the song’s success.

Back home, several Indians including Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed their joy at the news. India’s Prime Minister Modi congratulated the team, saying the “prestigious honour has made every Indian very proud””.

Oscar-winning music composer AR Rahman called the win a “paradigm shift”. Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan wrote on Twitter that he “woke up and started dancing to Naatu Naatu” to celebrate the news.

One of India’s most expensive films, the dazzling action epic has been a huge box-office success – not just domestically but also in countries such as the US. Hollywood actress Jessica Chastain tweeted last week that watching the film felt like “such a party”.

Picture : TheUNN

A Hindi-language version of the film on Netflix was among the platform’s Top 10 most watched titles in the US for weeks when it released in May 2022. In December, BBC Culture film critics Nicholas Barber and Caryn James chose it as one of the 20 best films of the year, calling it a “crazily over-the-top action movie” with a powerful story.

The film’s music, ranging from romantic ballads to gleeful dance numbers and patriotic anthems, has also won fans.

Fans worldwide have gushed over the infectious dance steps that accompany the song’s chorus, where the actors shimmy and glide in a synchronised cowboy routine. The team behind the song spoke to BBC Telugu in January about the effort they put in.

Choreographer Prem Rakshit said that he composed nearly 95 dance steps for the song – with 30 different versions of the signature step in the chorus alone. It took about 19 months from the first discussion until the final, polished result emerged – a fun mish-mash of dance genres ranging from an old barn stomp to a bit of Gangnam Style gallop and traditional Bollywood moves.

The song was shot in front of the Mariinskyi Palace in Ukraine – a gorgeous sea-blue structure of baroque architecture – months before the war began. The film’s director Rajamouli said in an interview that “luckily, they gave us permission to shoot because the Ukrainian president [Mr Zelensky] was a television actor”.

The idea was to create a song which took “enjoyment and joy” to a new level, the song’s composer Keeravani told BBC Telugu.  “Rajamouli told me that he wanted a song in which both the actors compete with each other and dance.”

Keeravani then asked lyricist Chandrabose to pen the words. “I told him that you can write whatever you want but the song should create excitement and enthusiasm about the dance moves of the lead actors,” Keeravani said.

On Wednesday, fans could barely contain their happiness on Twitter as they celebrated the award.  “This is history in making for Indian cinema at global platform,” a user wrote. Telugu superstar Chiranjeevi Konidela, who is also Charan’s father, called it a “phenomenal, historic win” – a sentiment echoed by several others in the film industry and beyond.

RRR was also nominated in the Best Non-English Language Film category at the Golden Globes, but lost to Argentina, 1985. Considered an important precursor for the Oscars, the Globes are emerging from a major controversy that resulted in the industry largely blacklisting them for over a year. After fundamental changes were introduced behind-the-scenes, mostly in relation with diversity and transparency, the event is making a comeback to TV after an under-the-radar 2022 edition.

“Naatu Naatu,” a dance number featuring stars Jr NTR and Ram Charan, was competing against Taylor Swift’s “Carolina” from Where the Crawdads Sing, “Ciao Papa” from Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio, Lady Gaga’s “Hold My Hand” from Top Gun: Maverick, and “Lift Me Up” from Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, performed by Rihanna. A dance-off number in which the central characters, played by NTR Jr and Ram Charan, challenge British oppressors, “Naatu Naatu” became known for its elaborate choreography and musical storytelling.

India previously made its presence felt in the Best Original Score category over a decade ago, when AR Rahman won for Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire. Rahman was also nominated in the same category for Boyle’s follow-up, 127 Hours. V Shantaram’s Do Aankhen Barah Haath made history when it won the equivalent of the Best Non-English Language Film in 1957. Richard Attenborough’s Gandhi was won the Globe in the same category, even though it wasn’t a foreign production.

RRR became a cult phenomenon in the US after its Hindi language version debuted on Netflix earlier this year. After developing a devoted fanbase, it was re-released in theatres, culminating in a legendary sold-out screening at the iconic Chinese Theatre in Hollywood. The movie subsequently became an awards contender, picking up five nominations at the Critics Choice Awards in addition to its two nods at the Globes. It has been shortlisted in two categories at the Oscars, and in one category at the BAFTAs. Rajamouli recently won the prestigious New York Film Critics Circle award for Best Director, while RRR found spots on many American critics’ top 10 lists.

Team RRR makes a style statement with sarees, sherwanis and bandhgalas

As India bagging a Golden Globe for the number ‘Naatu Naatu’ has made headlines, the Indian attire sported by the ‘RRR’ family too grabbed eyeballs at the event.

‘RRR’ brought home the Golden Globe for Best Original Song in Motion Picture for the song ‘Naatu Naatu’, however, the film lost out the bigger share of the pie — that of the Best Motion Picture Non-English award to the Argentine film ‘Argentina, 1985’.

It was Ram Charan, his wife Upasana, M. M. Keeravaani, his wife Srivalli S. S. Rajamouli and his better half Rama Rajamouli, who unlike any other global star chose to flaunt the Indian wear at the ceremony.

Ram Charan looked every inch dapper in an all black Kurta paired with straight pants and sunglasses. His wife Upasana dolled up in a printed saree.

Rajamouli chose a black kurta, red dhoti pants and a crisp red dupatta while his wife Rama, a costume designer, opted for a green and orange Kanjeevaram saree.

Keeravaani seemed to join the gang with a black kurta and straight pants. His wife chose a bright yellow and orengish-red nine-yard wonder.

Jr. NTR looked every inch handsome as he opted for a black suit paired with a bow-tie and a white shirt.

‘RRR’ centres around two real-life Indian revolutionaries, Alluri Sitarama Raju and Komaram Bheem, their fictional friendship and their fight against the British Raj.

Set in the 1920s, the plot explores the undocumented period in their lives when both the revolutionaries chose to go into obscurity before they began the fight for their country.

Hindu Seer Threatens To Burn SRK Alive

The Pathaan row in India is seeing new heights of religious fanaticism as a seer in Ayodhya has now threatened that he would burn Bollywood’s Shah Rukh Khan alive if he ever met him. As per its definition, a seer is a person of supposed supernatural insight who sees visions of the future.

Mahant Paramhans Acharya of Tapasvi Chhavni, has said that he would even go to the extent of burning Shah Rukh Khan alive if he ever met him. Paramhans Acharya added that the saffron colour has been insulted in the ‘Besharam Rang’ song.

“People of our Sanatan Dharma are protesting continuously regarding this. Today we have burnt the poster of Shahrukh Khan. If I get to meet the film Jihadi Shah Rukh Khan, I will burn him alive,” the seer said.

Picture : TheUNN

Paramhans Acharya added that the saffron colour has been insulted in the Besharam Rang song. “People of our Sanatan Dharma are protesting continuously regarding this. Today we have burnt the poster of Shahrukh Khan. If I get to meet the film Jihadi Shah Rukh Khan, I will burn him alive,” the seer said.

Acharya did not stop at that. He went on to say that if ‘Pathaan’ film was released in theatres, he would set them on fire. He also appealed people to boycott ‘Pathaan’. Earlier, the priest of Hanuman Garhi, Mahant Raju Das, had also protested against the film. Politicians and right-wing supporters are protesting over saffron coloured outfits in the song ‘Besharam Rang’ in the film.

While the cast seems unfazed by the so-called controversy as the makers have announced a new song set for a December 22 release, fans and close peers of Khan and Deepika Padukone are rightfully worried.

Picture : Vartha Bhrathi

Adding on, the Mumbai Police has received a written complaint, seeking registration of an FIR in connection with Padukone wearing a saffron bikini in the song Besharam Rang. A complaint has been filed on Saturday against the producer, director and lead actors of the film for deliberately using saffron color to hurt the religious sentiments of people and hurt the Hindu religion, an official of Sakinaka police station said.

Previously, Khan voiced his concerns about the emerging trend of negativity and trolling on social media at the inaugural ceremony of the 28th Kolkata International Film Festival, reported Times of India.

Without directly addressing the controversies related to Pathaan and Besharam Rang, Khan said, “I’m really proud of everyone standing in solidarity with me. The support proves that no matter what the world throws at us, we will always remain positive and alive.”

He then pointed out how the negativity on social platforms only leads to more destruction in real life. “Social media is often driven by a certain narrowness of view that limits human nature to its baser self. I read somewhere that negativity increases social media consumption, and thereby increases its commercial value as well. Such pursuits enclose the collective narrative, making it divisive and destructive.”

Moving on, the Zero actor also stated that cinema is bound to be affected by the increasing pessimism online. He said, “The collective narrative of our times is shaped by social media and contrary to the belief, the spread of social media will affect the cinema negatively.”

Khan went on to defend cinema by dubbing it as a vehicle “for people of different colours, castes and religions to better understand each other.” He also urged people to pay more respect to films. “Cinema is the best place to sustain a counter-narrative that speaks to the larger nature of humankind,” he added.

Despite receiving requests for the film to be boycotted, Khan commended KIFF for ushering in a new era of optimism in the country and congratulated the people of Kolkata. “Through endeavours like KIFF, we are able build new platforms to break existing prejudices. Let’s come together and build a better world for our future generation through the medium of cinema,” he concluded.

Eros Media World, Arabia Pictures Join Hands To Remake Hit Bollywood Films

India’s leading media and entertainment company, Eros Media World PLC and Arabia Pictures Group will together produce three full-length feature films, including an Arabic remake of a 2012 Bollywood blockbuster and two untitled Hindi language projects.

They plan to jointly produce three full length feature films, including the remake of a 2012 Bollywood Box Office super hit film and two untitled Hindi language projects. All three films will be conceived and developed in Saudi. The local remake film will go on the floor for production by mid of 2023, and the other two by the end of 2023.

“Saudi Arabia and India enjoy a strong relationship reflecting their centuries-old economic and socio-cultural ties. Today, when Saudi Arabia is diversifying and inviting investments and expertise from all over the world, global media organizations like ErosMedia can participate and contribute to the Saudi government’s vision.”

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Abdulelah Alahmary, CEO of Arabia Pictures, says, “We’re very thrilled to collaborate with ErosMedia in bringing captivating, family-orientated stories to the MENA region. Our cultures share similar qualities, and we believe that our first film together, which is a remake will resonate with our audiences. We’re in the process of adapting the story with talented local Saudi writers. We will share the details on these projects soon.”

Picture : Deadline

Commenting on the announcement, Pradeep Dwivedi, CEO, Eros Media World, says, “Saudi Arabia and India enjoy a strong relationship reflecting their centuries-old economic and socio-cultural ties. Today, when Saudi Arabia is diversifying and inviting investments and expertise from all over the world, global media organizations like ErosMedia can participate and contribute to the Saudi government’s vision.” He adds, “In Arabia Pictures, we have found a perfect partner, and together we will recreate the magic of Bollywood in Saudi.”

Arabia Pictures is a content production and distribution outfit focusing on the MENA region. In August this year, ErosMedia and Arabia Pictures announced a strategic partnership to explore opportunities in film production, technology, and Web3 space.

The partnership is in line with Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030, a strategic framework by the government to move away from Saudi Arabia’s dependence on oil to diversify its economy and develop public service sectors such as health, education, infrastructure, recreation, media, and tourism.

Eros Media World Plc, (“Eros”, the “Company”) (NYSE: EMWP) is a global media and entertainment company that acquires, co-produces and distributes films, digital content and music across multiple formats such as theatrical, television, OTT digital media streaming and emerging web 3.0 ecosystem to consumers around the world. The Company also owns the leading South Asian OTT platform Eros Now, which has rights to over 12,000 films across major Indian languages. For further information, please visit www.ErosMediaWorld.com.

Arabia Pictures group is a leading entertainment company focused on the production and global distribution of film and television content across all platforms. We are focused on building ecosystems of content creation; all of our companies complement each other and contribute towards completing projects from talent development to major film production. We envision to create a “MediaTainment economy” by acting as the root base for innovative cloud and digital services aimed at content creators. Regionally we have major platforms, TVs, theatrical and talent. We are providing the best value for creativity utilizing technology through our existing channels.

‘RRR’ Receives Two Golden Globe Nominations

The spectacle of ‘RRR’ in the West doesn’t seem to cease any time soon. Helmed by SS Rajamouli, the action-drama film nabbed two spots in the nomination list for the Golden Globe Awards 2023. The prestigious award show made the announcement via congratulatory posts to the nominees on its official Twitter handle. The nominations were covered in all major media in the U.S., and ‘RRR’ received good press in several countries, including Canada.

The movie, ‘RRR’ is a fictional story based on the lives of two Telugu freedom fighters Alluri Seetharama Raju and Komaram Bheem. Ram Charan and Jr NTR played lead roles, respectively.

The full list of nominations released in U.S. media included ‘RRR’ in two categories – ‘Best Picture – Non-English Language’ and ‘Original Song – Motion Picture’.

Best foreign language film
“All Quiet on the Western Front” (Germany)
“Argentina, 1985” (Argentina)
“Close” (Belgium)
“Decision to Leave” (South Korea)
“RRR” (India)
– – –
Best original song, motion picture
“Carolina,” Taylor Swift (“Where the Crawdads Sing”)
“Ciao Papa,” Guillermo del Toro and Roeban Katz (“Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio”)
“Hold My Hand,” Lady Gaga and BloodPop (“Top Gun: Maverick”)
“Lift Me Up,” Tems, Rihanna, Ryan Coogler and Ludwig Göransson (“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever”)
“Naatu Naatu,” Kala Bhairava, Rahul Sipligunj (“RRR”)

In the first category, it competes against the films ‘All Quiet on the Western Front’, ‘Argentina, 1985’, ‘Close’ and ‘Decision to Leave’.

In the second category, the song ‘Naatu Naatu’ from the Ram Charan-starrer will compete with ‘Where the Crawdads Sing’ from ‘Carolina’, ‘Lift Me Up’ from ‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’, ‘Hold My Hand’ from ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ and ‘Ciao Papa’ from ‘Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio’.

Picture : Indian Express

Bollywood actor Alia Bhatt, who had played an integral role in ‘RRR’, took to her Instagram stories to share the news with lots of heart emojis.

The Jr. NTR-starrer has already bagged a number of awards in the West, including a Saturn Award and a New York Film Critics Circle award.

Meanwhile, the filmmakers have submitted the film to The Academy For the Oscars in main categories. They have asked for consideration in categories, including Best Picture (DVV Danayya), Best Director (SS Rajamouli), Best Actor (Jr NTR and Ram Charan), Best Supporting Actor (Ajay Devgn), Best Supporting Actress (Alia Bhatt) and more.

“#RRRForOscars. We are honoured that RRR’s overwhelming success represented Indian Cinema on the global stage by creating milestones at the worldwide box office and uniting film buffs across the world by transcending linguistic & cultural barriers. We’re grateful to each & every one who loved our film and cheered us over the past few months. You made this journey possible.We applied to The Academy for Oscars consideration in general category. We wish our RRR family the best and thank them from the bottom of our hearts for making this possible. Here’s to continuing to win hearts and entertain audiences worldwide,” a note read on the official Instagram page of RRR. The film collected over Rs 1,200 crore worldwide.

‘Besharam Rang Is My First Song With Deepika So I Knew I Had To Do Something Really Special!’ : Vaibhavi Merchant

Producer Aditya Chopra and director Siddharth Anand unveiled the first song of Pathaan, Besharam Rang, on Monday which broke the internet! The song has been trending worldwide ever since it’s release and fans and audiences have gone berserk complimenting how SRK and Deepika Padukone are looking in the song and how hot the choreography is because the verdict is unanimous – Deepika has looked her hottest best in Besharam Rang!

Ace choreographer Vaibhavi Merchant, who is known to present the hottest versions of leading ladies on screen – Aishwarya Rai Bachchan in Kajra Re from Bunty Aur Babli, Katrina Kaif in Kamli from Dhoom: 3 to the scintillating Deepika Padukone in Besharam Rang, etc is over the moon with the response to the song.

She says, “In my body of work, I have probably consciously made an effort to ensure that the female leads are always presented very aesthetically. For instance, with Ash (Aishwarya Rai Bachchan) in Kajra Re, I made it a point to kind of enhance the expressions in the way she did her adaakari. In Kamli with Katrina again, I kept in my what Katrina would look great doing.”

Picture : Indian Express

She adds, “One must always study the actor you’re choreographing for because it doesn’t matter if the movement looks great on me or my assistants, but it must look fantastic on the actor, it should bespoke to the actor. So even with Katrina, it was very clear that I want to give her something that I’ve never done before and never seen before because she had her own style. In Katrina, I saw a very, very excruciatingly hard working talent and she would exhaust me with all the rehearsal time but what she did in the song, was simply incredible.”

Vaibhavi further says, “Strangely, I’ve never been able to choreograph something for Deepika until Besharam Rang. So, this is my first song with Deepika and I knew I had to do something really special for this one. It was very endearing for me to see her approach me and say finally we get to work with each other and I said Deepika I truly want to make this very special for you because this is our first and I don’t want to shoot a better song than this for you in future.”

Vaibhavi says she went all out in making Deepika look the hottest heroine that India has ever seen on screen. She says, ”I wanted to go all out to present her in a way that she has never been presented before. I must give it to Shaleena Nathani for the costumes. Deepika has a great rapport with her and I was pleasantly surprised to see her being so comfortable in her own skin. She owns the song and she is looking gorgeous in every frame.”

Vaibhavi adds, “Deepika put in a lot of hard work to look the way she is looking in Besharam Rang. She had an entire crew – dietitian, her physical trainer and the stunning costumes by Shaleena. I was mighty impressed with the way she just approached all the costumes she’s like, yeah, she’s cool to wear this, she’s cool to wear that. So, I think that really triggered a certain style in which this song should be shot. Because I was like, I can’t make her wear those costumes and make her do steps in a way that we usually shoot songs.”

The song features a sizzling Deepika with Shah Rukh Khan, who plays a gun-totting spy with a license of kill in Pathaan. Both are looking their hottest and fittest best as Deepika flaunts her hot bod in bikinis and SRK – a perfectly chiselled eight pack! Besharam Rang was shot in Spain’s most gorgeous coastal towns Mallorca, Cadiz and Jerez.

SRK and Deepika are one of the biggest on-screen pairings in the history of Indian cinema given their epic blockbusters Om Shanti Om, Chennai Express and Happy New Year.

Pathaan is India’s biggest ever action spectacle for audiences. The visually spectacular Yash Raj Films’ action extravaganza, Pathaan, is part of Aditya Chopra’s ambitious spy universe and has the biggest superstars of the country Shah Rukh Khan, Deepika Padukone and John Abraham in it. The adrenaline pumping, visually extravagant film is set to release on Jan 25, 2023 in Hindi, Tamil and Telugu.

PATHAAN Has A Global Flavor

‘Went to 8 countries to shoot PATHAAN and its lavish action sequences,’ said Siddharth Anand explaining on how the team wanted to give audiences a visual spectacle like never before with Pathaan

Aditya Chopra and ace director Siddharth Anand are trying to make Pathaan India’s biggest ever action spectacle for audiences! The visually spectacular Yash Raj Films’ action extravaganza, Pathaan, is part of Aditya Chopra’s ambitious spy universe and has the biggest superstars of the country Shah Rukh Khan, Deepika Padukone and John Abraham in it. 

The adrenaline pumping visually extravagant film has been shot across 8 countries of the world to achieve a scale that has never been witnessed on the big screen. The team has shot in Spain, UAE, Turkey, Russia and Siberia, Italy, France, India and Afghanistan to present an outlandish action thriller that is truly an event film for Indians across the world!

Siddharth says, “Locations always play a huge role in my films and they became even more important for Pathaan as we intended to deliver an action spectacle for audiences that they have never seen before. To achieve that scale and variation in visuals we went to 8 countries to shoot the film and its lavish action sequences!”

He adds, “We were clear that every scene of Pathaan needs to be breath-taking and we meticulously went about planning to achieve this. I remember the pre-production of Pathaan took close to two years because we wanted to be absolutely sure that we are going to try and raise the bar of action spectacles in India.”

Siddharth adds, “We have shot in some of the most remote and most exquisite locations in the world that have helped us create a visual experience that is immersive and outlandish. I simply hope that audiences love our effort to create a cinematic milestone when Pathaan releases in theatres on Jan 25.” Pathaan is set to release on Jan 25, 2023 in Hindi, Tamil and Telugu.

Dilip Kumar Film Festival To Commemorate His 100th Birthday Planned

Fresh off the success of the Bachchan Back To The Beginning festival, the not-for-profit organization Film Heritage Foundation has announced the unique fest titled Dilip Kumar—Hero Of Heroes to mark the centenary celebrations of film icon and Dadasaheb Phalke laureate Dilip Kumar. Real name Yusuf Khan, he is among the greatest legends of Hindi cinema.

Largely an actor, Dilip also dabbled in production (Gunga Jumna), direction (the incomplete Kalinga), screenwriting (Leader, Gunga Jumna, Bairaag), singing (Musafir, Karma) and also did Bengali cinema (Paari, Sagina Mahato).

Slated to be hosted on December 10 and 11 (his birth-date), the celebration will honor the icon through a bespoke showcase of his milestone films such as Aan (1952), Devdas (1955), Ram Aur Shyam (1967) and Shakti (1982), covering over 30 cinema halls in over 20 cities across India.

Audiences in Mumbai, Delhi, Gurgaon, Noida, Pune, Bareilly, Kanpur, Varanasi, Allahabad, Raipur, Indore, Surat, Ahmedabad, Kolkata, Bengaluru and Hyderabad will get a first-hand experience of witnessing the sheer magnetism and versatility of one of the greatest actors of Indian cinema on the big screen.

Picture : Mirchi Plus

Shivendra Singh Dungarpur, filmmaker, archivist and director, Film Heritage Foundation, states, “Dilip Kumar is turning 100! What an incredible opportunity to bring back one of the greatest actors of Indian cinema on the big screen. He truly is the “Hero of Heroes”, as even today, he is an actor that the biggest stars look up to. Film Heritage Foundation could think of no better way to celebrate this milestone than a festival of his films in theatres. Even though some of these films were released 70 years ago, the power of Dilip Kumar’s performances, his craft as a method actor and his charisma make him ageless. I was so excited thinking of how many of his films I could curate to mark the occasion. How did one choose for an actor with such an outstanding body of work? Little did I know then that I would have the opposite problem. I was shocked and heartbroken to discover that many of his great films survived only in low-resolution formats that could not be projected on the big screen.”

The archivist adds, “Should the films of a towering persona, who had dominated cinema for so many years, be confined to a small computer screen or a phone in danger of being forgotten? I cobbled together these films with great difficulty, with many people asking why some of their favorite Dilip Kumar films were not included. How can one make them understand? I hope this will be a wake-up call to filmmakers and producers. Time is running out and that they should look into preserving their films before it is too late. I would like to thank PVR Cinemas, especially Ajay Bijli, for giving us a platform to celebrate Indian classic cinema on the big screen again.”

Dilip’s wife, Saira Banu, added, “I am so happy that Film Heritage Foundation is celebrating Dilip-sahab’s 100th birthday on December 11 this year. They could not have chosen a more apt title to commemorate India’s greatest actor. He was my favorite hero from the time I was 12 years old when I first saw him in Aan in Technicolor. It will be a joy to watch him back on the big screen, larger-than-life, like he has been in my life.”

Amitabh Bachchan stated, “As Dilip Kumar turns 100, I am so glad that we at Film Heritage Foundation are celebrating his legacy in theatres. I would urge every film lover and contemporary actor who has not watched Dilip Kumar not to miss the incredible opportunity of watching this giant back on the big screen. It will be a masterclass in acting. Even today I am learning every time I watch his films. Dilip Kumar was, and is, my idol.”

He goes on, “I am still to meet an actor who could match his faultless performance, his flawless diction and the commitment he brought to his craft. His every spoken word was poetry, and when he appeared on the screen, everything else was a blur. I had the privilege of sharing the screen with him just once in Shakti—an experience I cherish. I was deeply disturbed to hear that many of his films are not in a condition to be screened in cinemas. Film Heritage Foundation is working day and night to ensure that the work of legends like Dilip Kumar survives and is preserved and restored to be shown to new generations.”

Kamal Haasan also stated: “Yusuf- sahab set an international bar for Indian actors to follow. He was erudite, eloquent and excellent in his chosen field. Cinema can make people believe that those who have departed are still alive. In that context, to me Dilip Kumar ji is one of the world’s best actors. I’m grateful to Film Heritage Foundation for keeping this heritage alive.”

Film Heritage Foundation is a non-profit organization based in Mumbai, set up by Shivendra Singh Dungarpur in 2014. A member of the International Federation of Film Archives (FIAF) since 2015, Film Heritage Foundation is the only non-governmental organization in the country working in the field of film preservation. Amitabh Bachchan is their cause ambassador.

“Our core programs include the preservation and archiving of films and film-related memorabilia, training in film preservation and restoration, children’s workshops, digitization and restoration, oral history projects and publications,” said Shivendra.

Shah Rukh Khan Has A Tom Cruise Connect In YRF’s Pathaan!

Aditya Chopra and ace director Siddharth Anand is relentlessly working to make Pathaan India’s biggest action spectacle! The visually spectacular Yash Raj Films’ action extravaganza, Pathaan, is part of Aditya Chopra’s ambitious spy universe and has the biggest superstars of the country Shah Rukh Khan, Deepika Padukone and John Abraham in it. It has now come to light that Pathaan has a huge Tom Cruise connect that is going to blow the minds of every spectacle movie going audience in India!

Picture : ABP News

Siddharth reveals, “When one sets out to make the spectacle action film of India with one of the all time biggest heroes of our country, Shah Rukh Khan, you need to have a champion team that is unified in the vision. Thankfully we got an A-team that came together to push the visual envelope with Pathaan and I was delighted to have someone like Casey O’Neill, who has extensively worked with Tom Cruise, to be by our side.”
Emmy award-nominated Casey, regarded as one of the best action directors in Hollywood, is the brain behind Tom Cruise’s death-defying stunts in films like Jack Reacher, Mission Impossible series films, Top Gun : Maverick and has also worked with Marvel Studios and Steven Spielberg to name a few!

About Casey, Siddharth further adds, “He brings in a wealth of experience and he immediately bought into the idea of creating edge of the seat action for Pathaan that could match what he’s done back home in Hollywood. What Casey has created in Pathaan, is simply mind-boggling. You will have to see the film for that because we aren’t going to disclose any details from the film till it releases in theatres on 25 Jan.”

Casey is also a 7-time Screen Actors Guild awards nominee and 3-time Taurus World Stunt Awards Winner for Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Captain America Winter Soldier and Mission Impossible Ghost Protocol. His skills have also earned him membership to the Academy of motion picture arts and sciences and membership to the elite Brand X Action Specialists.

Pathaan is set to release on Jan 25, 2023 in Hindi, Tamil and Telugu.

Ajay Devgn, Tabu Film, Drishyam 2 Lands Home Its Lesson A Second Time

Bollywood isn’t really known for pulling off suspense thrillers, certainly not for sustaining the steam over a sequel. But, like Drishyam in 2015, Drishyam 2 lulls you with its modest settings, simple characters, human cops, and a family caught in events beyond its control, till it lands home its lesson a second time — it’s not important what’s before you; what is important is what you are seeing.

Seven years after the case related to Vijay Salgaonkar and his family was closed, a series of unexpected events bring a truth to light that threatens to change everything for the Salgaonkars. Can Vijay save his family this time?.

The Ajay Devgn-Akshaye Khanna-Tabu starrer in Drishyam 2, originally acted by Malayalam star, Mohan Lal, very deftly picks up from where the two main protagonists, both fierce parents, left off in Drishyam 1. Its execution is not as smooth as the last time though, say movie critiques.

Picture : TheUNN

So, when his case file in a murder case reopens in Goa police station, you can only expect this mystery to get more intriguing, interesting and exciting. A remake of Malayalam film by the same name that released in 2021, Drishyam 2 is a sequel to the 2015 crime thriller that left everyone guessing what really happened on October 2 and 3, a tale which all of us now remember by heart after listening to the members of Salgaonkar family some 100 times over during investigation. But the truth is yet to be uncovered.

From a 4th fail, middle-class cable operator who is obsessed with Bollywood films, Vijay Salgaonkar (Ajay Devgn) is now a theatre owner who wants to produce a film and even has the script ready. But what hasn’t changed in these seven years is his passion for films, storytelling and love for twisted plots.

Directed by Abhishek Pathak, the film is riding on the plot of its prequel that generated a lot of buzz. There are ample references that one keeps hearing throughout in the sequel, which remind them of how good the first film was. Vijay Salgaonkar lives in Goa with his wife Nandini (Shriya Saran) and daughters Anju (Ishita Dutta) and Annu (Mrunal Jadhav).

After Nandini and Anju accidently kill a young boy, Sam, who happens to be Goa IG Meera Deshmukh’s (Tabu) son, Vijay is devising new ideas every day to guard his family and ends up saying a 100 lies to hide one. Drishyam ends with the case being closed and it being established that Sam is dead.

The sequel introduces us to a new IG in town, Tarun Ahlawat (Akhaye Khanna), who reopens this file and wants to find Sam’s body along with all other lose ends that would help him put Vijay behind bars. Does Drishyam 2 solve this puzzle? Will Vijay throw himself under the bus to save his family? Will his wife and daughters follow Vijay’s ideas and fool the police officers again?

‘Shah Rukh Khan Has Pushed His Body To Breaking Point For Pathaan!’ Says Siddharth Anand

The Shah Rukh Khan, Deepika Padukone and John Abraham starrer Pathaan’s teaser has set the internet ablaze as fans and audience cheered for the return of the king, SRK, on the big screen after almost four long years (Zero), apart from small cameos (Rocketry, Laal Singh Chaddha, Brahmastra), a film as narrator (The Zoya Factor) and movies as producer (Badla, Bard of Blood, Class of ’83)!

Shah Rukh Khan released the first teaser of his highly anticipated film “Pathaan”, giving his fans a surprise on his 57th birthday. The actor, who plays the titular spy in the upcoming Yash Raj Films (YRF) Production, shared the teaser on his official Twitter account. Fans have been wowed by SRK’s all-new action avatar in Yash Raj Films’ action spectacle, directed by Siddharth Anand.

The director reveals that the megastar has shown incredible dedication to prepare his body for the physically challenging action sequences designed for the film. Siddharth says, “Shah Rukh Khan has pushed his body to breaking-point for Pathaan. So, he deserves all the love that he is getting for Pathaan’s teaser and much more. I remember when I first met him on Pathaan, we discussed how physically challenging it will be for him, and he was game from the word ‘Go’ and it shows on screen.”

Picture: Gulf News

He adds, “He wanted the adrenalin rush and he wanted the audience to feel the same on screen through him. The way he built his body, the insane training that he has done to pull off the extremely dangerous stunts, the dangerous terrains and climatic conditions in which he has thrown his body and the commitment that he has shown to give India its biggest action spectacle is incredibly commendable.”

The director adds, “The way he has endured all the pain to pull off the action that we had designed is unbelievable. There is no one like Shah Rukh Khan and you have to wait to see the film to witness his intensity with which he has approached the film.”

On bollywoodhungama.com, the star has also revealed how he took fitness tips from Salman Khan, Hrithik Roshan and Tiger Shroff when gyms had shut down during the lockdown.

Shah Rukh is introduced as the battered, bloodied spy who proclaims he is alive (“Zinda hai”) when a man wonders if Pathaan was dead. It is a nice hat-tip to his industry friend and fellow Bollywood star Salman Khan, whose last film under YRF’s “Tiger” franchise was “Tiger Zinda Hai” (2017).

Billed as a “high-octane spy thriller”, “Pathaan” is directed by Siddharth Anand of “War” and “Bang Bang” fame. The film also stars Deepika Padukone and John Abraham.

The teaser also sees Deepika involved in stylish stunts and romancing Shah Rukh. John, who previously starred in YRF’s biker action hit “Dhoom”, locks horns with the superstar on a moving trailer truck.

The film also marks the fourth collaboration between Shah Rukh and Deepika, following her Bollywood debut “Om Shanti Om”, “Chennai Express”, and “Happy New Year”. John and Deepika are working once again with each other after “Desi Boyz” and “Race 2”.

Pathaan will release on Jan 25, 2023 in Hindi, Tamil and Telugu. It is produced by Aditya Chopra and features Salman Khan in a cameo as Tiger, the YRF franchise hero.

Kamal Haasan, Mani Ratnam To Reunite After 35 Years

(ANI) Two megastars Kamal Haasan and Mani Ratnam are all set to join hands for a film, after 35 years! On the occasion of his birthday, Kamal Haasan took to social media to announce the news (Twitter @iKamalhaasan)

The movie ‘KH 234’ will be out in theaters in 2024. It is being produced by Kamal Haasan, Mani Ratnam, R Mahendran, and Siva Ananth under their respective banners Raaj Kamal Films International and Madras Talkies.

A. R. Rehman will be composing the music for the film. Interestingly, this is the first time that the power trio is collaborating on a project. A.R. Rahman has been working with Mani Ratnam, however, the music maestro has not done a project with Kamal Haasan in a very long time.

Picture : Telegraph India

Mani Ratnam and Kamal Haasan last worked 35 years ago in ‘Nayakan’. The film was released in 1987.

Talking about other projects, Kamal Haasan was last seen in the blockbuster movie ‘Vikram’ which did a worldwide business of over Rs 400 crore.

Helmed by Lokesh Kanagaraj, ‘Vikram’ featured Kamal Haasan, Vijay Sethupathi, and Fahadh Faasil in lead roles. Actors Chemban Vinod Jose, Kalidas Jayaram, Antony Varghese, Narain, and Arjun Das also star in the film in supporting roles.

He also resumed shooting his upcoming film ‘Indian 2’ in August this year.

The film’s shoot came to standstill in 2020 after a crane collapsed on the set during the shooting of the film near Chennai, leaving 3 dead and 10 injured.

‘Indian 2’, which is being bankrolled by Lyca Productions, also stars Siddharth, Kajal Aggarwal, Rakul Preet Singh, Bobby Simhaa, and Priya Bhavani Shankar in key roles. The first part was released in 1996.

Talking about Mani Ratnam, he also delivered the magnum opus ‘PS1’, which collected more than Rs 300 crore worldwide. The film starred Vikram, Trisha Krishnan Karthik Sivakumar, Jayam Ravi, and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan in the lead roles.

Talking about the second part, the makers are all set to begin the post-production work of the film which was shot simultaneously with ‘Ponniyin Selvan 1’ unlike ‘Baahubali’ and ‘KGF’.

The film is all set to hit the theatres in the summer of 2023. The final release date of the film is still awaited.

Amitabh Bachchan, “Greatest Actor Of Our Time,” Says Mohanlal

Calling Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan the “greatest actor of our time”, Malayalam top star Mohanlal has said that the legendary actor’s dedication to work was an inspiration to people of all generations.

Calling Amitabh the “greatest actor of our time”, Mohanlal said that he had enriched Indian cinema and his presence continued to do so. His endearing personality coupled with compassionate behaviour, charitable actions and humble disposition are admirable qualities that stand out. His dedication to work is an inspiration for all generations. His baritone voice and the various characters that he has played have won for him the admiration and love of a whole nation,” the Malayalam star said.

Expressing his birthday wishes to Amitabh Bachchan, who celebrated his 80th birthday, Mohanlal, through a video clip which he posted on Twitter, said Amitabh Bachchan’s name “evokes a gamut of emotions in the whole country.”

Stating that he had been fortunate to work with the Shahenshah of Bollywood in two films, Mohanlal said that the honor of sharing screen space with Amitabh is one of the highlights of his career.
“A wonderful human being, he’s encouraging and patient with his co-stars,” Mohanal said and wished the legendary actor good health, happiness and many more years of continued service to Indian cinema.

It’s worth remembering, former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown had described the actor as one of the “greatest talents” of our time. Brown spoke glowingly of the Bollywood mega star as he presented him with the keys for a Mobile Diabetes Unit at a charity dinner.

“It is a pleasure to be here with Amitabh Bachchan. I talked to him just as we arrived. I was saying that I had 4 million viewers in a TV interview. I asked how many people will watch his next film and he said 500 million people. That shows the greatness of this man,” Brown said.

Amitabh Bachchan is a Bollywood actor who, in 1969, debuted in Saat Hindustani. His role in 1972’s Zanjeer made him an action movie star. In the 1980s, Bachchan held a seat in the Indian Parliament. In the 1990s, he started his own production company. He returned to acting in 1997, with Mrityudaata. In 2000, he began hosting the Indian version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?.

Amitabh Harivansh Bachchan, best known as Amitabh Bachchan, was born in Allahabad, India on October 11, 1942. India was still a British colony at the time, and would not achieve independence until five years later. Bachchan’s father was the renowned Hindi poet Dr. Harivansh Rai. His mother, Teji Bachchan, was a Sikh socialite. He has one younger brother, named Ajitabh.

Bachchan went to Sherwood College boarding school before enrolling in Delhi University, where he earned his Bachelor of Arts degree. Once he graduated, he became a freight broker in Calcutta. After a few years in Calcutta, Bachchan was ready for a change. He decided to move to Bombay and take a stab at Bollywood show business. By this time, India had been independent for nearly two decades, and Hindi cinema was thriving.

Bachchan married movie actress Jaya Bhaduri in 1973. The couple have two children, a daughter and a son. Their daughter, Shweta Bachchan Nanda, is married to industrialist Nikhil Nanda, whose grandfather was the film director Raj Kapoor. Bachchan and Bhaduri’s son, Abhishek Bachchan, is also an actor and is married to actress Aishwarya Rai.

Kamal Haasan’s Vikram To Be Screened At BIFF

Superstar Kamal Haasan-fronted Tamil blockbuster Vikram is set to be screened at the 27th Busan International Film Festival (BIFF), the makers announced last week. The film will be screened at the prestigious Busan International Film Festival (BIFF) slated to take place from October 5-14.

Vikram is a 2022 Indian Tamil-language action thriller film written and directed by Lokesh Kanagaraj and produced by Raaj Kamal Films International. The film stars Kamal Haasan, Vijay Sethupathi and Fahadh Faasil. Kalidas Jayaram, Narain and Chemban Vinod Jose had played supporting roles while Suriya makes a cameo appearance as Rolex.

‘Vikram’ will be screened under the Open Cinema category that recognises new and internationally acclaimed films that strike the perfect balance between popular and artistic cinema.

Produced by multi-faceted legend Kamal Haasan and R. Mahendran, ‘Vikram’ released on June 3 earlier this year and went on to become a box office phenomenon across the world and also the highest grossing Tamil film in the UK. Director Lokesh Kanagaraj masterfully created an immersive universe in the film. That coupled with a stellar star cast made ‘Vikram’ one of the most successful Indian movies of 2022.

“The response to Vikram all over the world has been extremely overwhelming. The Busan International Film Festival is another feather in the film’s cap and its selection is a win for the entire team. We are proud to have our film being screened along with some of the finest films across the globe and are grateful for all the love and adulation from the audiences,” said V. Narayanan, CEO Raaj Kamal Films International.

Ponniyin Selvan, Creates History In Tamil Cinema To Earn INR 200 Crore In 1st Weekend

Filmmaker Mani Ratnam’s magnum opus Ponniyin Selvan-I, which arrived in theatres on September 30, has earned Rs 200 crore in its worldwide gross box office collection so far.

‘Ponniyin Selvan’ is one of the highly anticipated Tamil films, and the first part of the film is available now in theatres across the globe. Directed by Mani Ratnam, the film boasts a strong cast across the industry, and the film’s story is an adaptation of Kalki Krishnamoorthy’s novel by the same name. 

Ponniyin Selvan, an adaptation of Kalki Krishnamoorthi’s novel by the same name, is set in the backdrop of the Chola dynasty. The first part of the historical drama features a stellar cast—Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Trisha, Jayam Ravi, Vikram, Karthi, Jayaram, and Prakash Raj—among others. “Even before I thought of filmmaking as a career, this book looked like a film to me. It has all the elements that make for a wide spectacle,” Ratnam said in an interview recently.

Ratnam’s Madras Productions, one of the banners behind the movie, took to Twitter to share the latest box office figures. “Marching on and making history! We extend our heartfelt gratitude to all the audience who’ve been showering us with love. Catch #PS1 in theatres near you!” the production house wrote in the post.

The film opened to positive reviews from both critics and the audience. Fans are now eagerly awaiting the film’s release on streaming platforms. According to reports, the digital streaming rights for the film have been acquired and it is likely to hit the OTT platform after 50 days of theatrical run.

Also backed by Allirajah Subaskaran’s banner Lyca Productions, Ponniyin Selvan-I released in Tamil, Hindi, Telugu, Kannada, and Malayalam.

Bollywood Hopes “Brahmastra” Will Revive Fortunes For Film Industry

Bollywood Industry stakeholders are closely watching how the latest Ranbir Kapoor-Alia Bhatt starrer Brahmastra performs, as the film’s box office prospects can break perceptions, birth new dreams. Films have been put on hold as the industry considers its options.

When was the last time a Hindi film arrived in theatres with the burden of an entire industry–its future, films, decisions and significance–riding on it? Brahmastra, actors Ranbir Kapoor-Alia Bhatt’s latest big scale fantasy epic, will land in cinemas this Friday with an unprecedented weight on its VFX heavy shoulders.

For a film which aims to dig deep into Indian mythology, showcasing several characters possessing all kinds of astras (supernatural weapons), the biggest power Brahmastra holds for Bollywood is the one which it was oblivious to all throughout its making: The Revival Astra.

“With the kind of advance booking it has picked up, the excitement that is suddenly around, Brahmastra is like oxygen to the industry,” filmmaker Milap Zaveri tells indianexpress.com.

When it was first announced in 2014, filmmaker Ayan Mukerji’s film–then tentatively titled Dragon– was a mammoth project, but never the kind whose box office prospects would be keenly awaited by trade critics, film studios, producers, directors and strangely, Twitter trolls.

Brahmastra, in every sense of movie business, is the biggest release for the Hindi film industry. The Ayan Mukerji directorial, backed by Dharma Productions, Starlight Pictures, and Prime Focus in association with Star Studios, is set to open in around 5000 screens in India and 3000 screens internationally.

There is a lot to prove, that Bollywood can succeed with the right film despite negativity, and a lot to remind its loyal ticket-buying audience, that the magic of movies is still full of wonder.

It is releasing in a year where only three Bollywood films have worked so far– Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2, Gangubai Kathiawadi and The Kashmir Files–while most have faced intense online negativity as part of the ‘Boycott Bollywood’ campaign.All eyes and hashtags are naturally on the film.

Film trade analyst Komal Nahta tells indianexpress.com that there is “immense pressure” on Brahmastra to put up numbers at the box office.”The situation is that people feel ‘Oh Bollywood films are not working’. Brahmastra is releasing certainly not in a happy climate. Films are not working because suddenly filmmakers seem to be getting it wrong, not because of any other reason.

“Once in 10-15 years, there comes a time when the audience demands a change, they don’t want any run of the mill story. When it happens, the industry is jolted, it doesn’t know what to do, where to go, what to make. In that sense, the pressure on the film is tremendous,” Nahta says.

Until the makers teased the chartbuster Kesariya days ahead of Ranbir and Alia’s wedding in April, there existed massive skepticism around Brahmastra due to numerous delays and reshoots, making people wonder if the film would ever see the light of the day. The Kesariya teaser, followed by Brahmastra trailer release in June, however, turned people hopeful.

Then Pritam’s rest of the soundtrack brought in excitement, which reached its crescendo last week when the makers started dropping mini visual units.

But when the team launched its second, special trailer to announce the opening of advance bookings on Saturday, the result, for many, was shocking. According to trade observer Himesh Mankad, Brahmastra managed to sell more than one lakh tickets within four days, with only 3D shows open to bookings.

To put the numbers in perspective, the advance booking count of Ranveer Singh’s cricket drama 83 was at 1.17 lakh tickets, while SS Rajamouli’s epic RRR was at 1.05 lakh and Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2 was at 1.03 lakh. The film is now only behind KGF Chapter 2, which comfortably sits at top spot of ticket sales at 4.11 lakh.

“The excitement is insane. The advance booking is extraordinary, and it is competing with Sanju, Ranbir’s highest opener (Rs 34.75 cr). Post-pandemic, no film has registered these numbers except for KGF 2 which was a sequel to a successful, loved film. So what Brahmastra is witnessing, it is truly heartening,” Milap Zaveri says.

Eyes on you, Brahmastra

A table at a cafe in Mumbai’s Versova– dotted with boutique production companies, casting agents office and houses of several artistes of different hierarchies in Bollywood–is the centre of a raging debate. A group of writers and aspiring actors are predicting the opening day figures of Brahmastra and, in a tone dripping of worry, contemplating the future of films and their own career.

A source tells indianexpress.com that if Brahmastra works, it will empower artistes will get paid their worth. If it doesn’t, there will be a ripple effect, adding to the doomsday that the industry is already halfway through.

“There is a paucity of cash inflow in the industry, as a result of which budgets are getting slashed across- from writing, acting, shooting. Once this releases, it will compensate for all the negativity thrown at the industry and the narrative that none of the Hindi films are working.

“It is important for all of us to not just get work, but also to get the money we were negotiating. A film flopping means you earn less. That’s why there is a lot of anxiety and nervousness to see how this one fares” the source adds, explaining the trickle down effect.

According to multiple well-placed sources in the industry, the fate of more than a dozen films lies on how Brahmastra is received by the audience. Dreams can be brought to life or shelved this Friday.

“The situation is dire in the industry. With virtually nothing working, everything truly depends on Brahmastra. If the big films had worked, say Aamir Khan’s Laal Singh Chaddha, Akshay Kumar’s Samrat Prithviraj or even Ranbir Kapoor’s Shamshera, the pressure would have been normal.

“But not today. There are massive budget cuts across production houses, and everyone is just too scared to start anything risky. In fact, a dozen small to mid-sized films have paused their theatrical release to see how Brahmastra does. Otherwise, all will head to OTT,” an industry insider says.

There is also a slate of films whose production depend on Brahmastra. “Vicky’s big scale film The Immortal Ashwatthama was shelved due to the pandemic and the uncertainty of reviving the cost of production. But that can definitely change if Brahmastra clicks.

“And if the film does end up doing well, it will only empower other production houses to restart their high on VFX films. There are at least two-three films in the genre waiting in line to be green-lit. If big films find their way to production, it will obviously lead to smaller films for theatrical also getting that necessary push. It is a chain and Brahmastra is the start of it,” another source adds.

Filmmaker Milap Zaveri, who has mounted masala films like the Satyameva Jayate franchise and Marjaavaan, says everyone in Bollywood knows the significance of Brahmastra. Simply put, the filmmaker says, Brahmastra has “pumped life in an industry” for which the last few months and years “have been tough.”

HOLY WOUND- It Is Not That Holy!

An Adults Only Review of the movie

Holy Wound- that may sound like something related to the Holy Angel, Holy Family, or the tortured wounds of Jesus Christ. Sorry, you are misled when you hear about a recent controversial  Malayalam movie named like that. Still, it had already been screened in several film festivals, including Sahasrara International Film Festival, KASHISH Mumbai International Queer Film Festival, and Frameline San Francisco International LGBTQ Film Festival, and in an earlier interview with OTTplay.

Holy Wound is a unique movie depicting the story of two young Malayali village girls who have been in love since childhood. ‘Holy Wound’ is a 2022 Malayalam drama movie, written by Paul Wiclif., directed by Ashok R. Nath, produced by Sandeep R, and music by Ronnie Raphael, with Janaki Sudheer, Amrita Vinod, and Sabu Praudeen in the lead roles.

There are umpteen movies with the drama revolving around female homosexuality, but very low in Malayalam language. Of late  one to join this league is Holy Wound, an erotic silent movie. Obviously the story is about two gay women, one  gets married against her will and is subjected to sexual harassment, and another who is forced to become a nun.

Although love may not be the real reason for the revolving of the globe as such, ‘most adults’ lives are powerfully influenced  by their experiences in intimate relationships. It is  believed that the psychologically healthy adult must have the capacity for work to earn, and love to cherish life. The significance  of intimate relationships is no less significant for lesbians than heterosexuals. Taking granted the ‘new normal’ of accepting, the third category of the genre is still ‘not so normal’ to the common person, that too in a village where the people live in poor living conditions.

Having seen that most lesbians spend much of their adult lives in intimate love relationships, we are eager to turn to findings about the nature of lesbian relationships. Suppose the movie’s message is to encourage lesbians; sorry to say that all the frames whenever these girls meet show their sexual gratification. The heroin Kala has enough sex almost every day, in various positions Vatsyaayan had imagined; she still urges her lesbian girlfriend to stimulate her passions to an ecstatic stage. Maybe the Director thinks that her relationship with her male partner living together is always for his satisfaction only, and he needs it so often.

The movie convinces us that gender is not a barrier to intense love. Love is the indescribable passion of two minds. Holy Wound movie moves forward with the intense emotional moments when two girls who have been in pure love since childhood reunite years later. The film’s visuals are arranged so that its emotion is never lost through the green expression of such moments. Preparing moments based on the realism of lesbian romance will give the audience a whole new experience of emotional bliss and ecstasy. Good thing it is restricted for age+18 audience, and if it brings international recognitions, the Director can be proud of his efforts!

Set in the beautiful backwaters of Kerala, the story is about the life memories and desires of a 25-year-old girl Kala who finds her livelihood by fishing in the lake or collecting shells. Her cruel husband and a pervert continuously exploit her physically and mentally. She longs for real love and touches from a compassionate soul. She searches for Sherin, her teenage friend and one with whom she can share her emotions and feelings and share a very intimate physical relationship quite often.

The movie could have emphasized the concept that whether gay or lesbian, they can lead a happy life without the actual sex in its helms. Here the story fails and brings the negative message that these lesbian girls cannot live without their way of satisfying each other.

Of course, the end part of the movie, where a nun is lying naked in an open boat with her lesbian friend in the solitude of the lake, could hurt religious sentiments. The film is erotic and less touching on the lives of the original life system in a remote village. Preparing moments based on the realism of lesbian romance will give the audience a new experience of emotional scenes. It can be understood that Holy Wound drives home the message that homosexual relationship is not unnatural, and two partners belonging to the same sex can be in a relationship.

Though presenting a whole movie with all the sensors and emotional frames is weird, it may be beyond imagination that people started ignoring the efforts, emotions, and hard work that has delivered this masterpiece creation as a silent movie will attract meticulous attention. Nothing told, but everything revealed blatantly!

From Big B, Salman To Ayushmann And Varun, Coming Months Will Be A Test Of Star Power

Hindi cinema of late seems to be in trouble as Bollywood’s big-ticket releases such as ‘Samrat Prithviraj’, ‘Shamshera’, ‘Laal Singh Chaddha’ and ‘Raksha Bandhan’ have failed to impress the audience.

Nevertheless, a motley bunch of films starring names such as Amitabh Bachchan, Salman Khan, Saif Ali Khan, Hrithik Roshan, Ajay Devgn, Varun Dhawan, Ranbir Kapoor, Alia Bhatt and Kriti Sanon are lined up for release in the coming months.

However, the million-dollar question looming over the furrowed brows of distributors is: Will these movies ensure the return of ‘achche din’ for Bollywood?

The first big film, which is slated to hit the screens is Ayan Mukerji’s trilogy ‘Brahmastra: Part One – Shiva’ starring newly wed couple Ranbir Kapoor and Alia Bhatt along with Amitabh Bachchan and Nagarjuna. The film is scheduled to hit the theatres on September 9.

‘Brahmastra’ is a three-part film franchise and the beginning of India’s first original universe, the Astraverse. It is a new original cinematic universe inspired by deeply rooted concepts and tales in Indian mythology but set in the modern world.

During a conversation with IANS, Ayan had earlier said that with ‘Brahmastra’ he has put so much in the film for so long that he has a “very peaceful confidence when it comes to this film”.

Next in line is Hrithik Roshan and Saif Ali Khan-starrer ‘Vikram Vedha’, a neo-noir action thriller, which is a remake of a Tamil hit film helmed by Pushkar and Gayathri, who are also directing the Hindi remake. Set to release on September 30, the film tells the story of a tough police officer who sets out to track down a menacing gangster. It also features Radhika Apte in a prominent role.

On October 7, Amitabh Bachchan, Rashmika Mandanna and Neena Gupta’s movie ‘Goodbye’ will be hitting the theatres for release. The film is touted as a heart-warming story about family, life and relationships.

After giving three duds such as ‘Bachchhan Paandey’, ‘Samrat Prithviraj’ and ‘Raksha Bandhan’, Bollywood star Akshay Kumar will be seen coming on the big screen once again with ‘Ram Setu’, which will be locking horns with Ajay Devgn’s ‘Thank God’ at the box-office. Both movies have been booked for a Diwali release on October 24.

‘Ram Setu’ is an action-adventure drama that tells a story rooted in Indian cultural and historical heritage. ‘Thank God’, which also stars Sidharth Malhotra and Rakul Preet Singh, has a fantasy-based plotline which follows Sidharth’s untimely death.

Ajay, reportedly, is playing the role of the God of Death, ‘Yamraj’, in the movie. The comic plot of the movie is to be driven by the banter between Ajay and Sidharth.

Bollywood stars Ajay Devgn and Tabu are all set to bring the nail-biting mystery back on screen after 2015 movie ‘Drishyam’ with ‘Drishyam 2’, a remake of the Mohanlal-starrer by the same name. Actor Akshaye Khanna has also joined the team of the hit thriller.

‘Drishyam’ chronicled the story of a family man Vijay Salgaonkar, who leaves no stone unturned to protect his family after an unfortunate incident involving his elder daughter, brought them under the police’s scanner. The second instalment of the thriller is set to release on November 18.

The Varun Dhawan and Kriti Sanon-starrer ‘Bhediya’ is all set to light up the screen on November 25. The horror-comedy is directed by Amar Kaushik and written by Niren Bhatt, best known for penning the long-running TV show ‘Tarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashma’. ‘Bhediya’ is the third film in producer Dinesh Vijan’s horror-comedy universe after ‘Stree’ and ‘Roohi’ — both starring Rajkummar Rao in the lead.

Ayushmann’s film ‘An Action Hero’ is the first release in December. Touted as a slick actioner with a sprinkle of satirical humour, ‘An Action Hero’ follows the story of an artists journey from behind to in front of the camera.

After giving out a failure in May with ‘Jayeshbhai Jordaar’, Bollywood’s livewire actor Ranveer Singh returns to the silver screen with Rohit Shetty’s ‘Cirkus’.

Hitting the screens on Christmas, ‘Cirkus’, which is officially adapted from Shakespeare’s play ‘The Comedy of Errors’, will release on December 23. The big-budget film stars Ranveer, Pooja Hegde, Jaqueline Fernandez, Varun Sharma and many more popular faces from Bollywood.

Bringing the curtains down for 2022, will be superstar Salman Khan’s ‘Kabhi Eid Kabhi Diwali’, which is a family drama. The film, which also stars Pooja Hegde, Venkatesh, Shehnaaz Gill and Raghav Juyal among many other, will light up the screens on December 30. (IANS)

South Indian Actor Vijay Sethupathi Bags Best Actor Award At Indo French International Film Festival For ‘Maamanithan’

South star Vijay Sethupathi has achieved another milestone in his acting career as the actor was recently handed the Best Actor Award for his critically acclaimed Tamil drama, Maamanithan, at the Indo-French International Film Festival. The film, which also stars Gayathrie, K. P. A. C. Lalitha, Guru Somasundaram and Shaji Chen in pivotal roles, won a gold medal at the Tokyo Film Awards which took place over a week ago.

The critically praised Tamil movie ‘Maamanithan’, directed by Seenu Ramasamy, earned the ‘Best Actor’ and ‘Best Picture’ awards at the Indo French International Film Festival. The awards were given to Actor Vijay Sethupathi and Producer Yuvan Shankar Raja respectively for their contributions to the movie. Renowned director Shankar had referred to the movie as a “realistic classic” when it received widespread acclaim shortly after its debut. Vijay Sethupathi’s outstanding performance in the movie, in Shankar’s words, deserved a National Award.

Taking to his Twitter handle on Wednesday, August 3, the film’s director and writer, Seenu Ramasamy wrote, “Congratulations @VijaySethuOffl For best Actor & @thisisysr For best picture #Maamanithan movie Thank you #INDOFRENCHINTERNATIONALFILMFESTIVAL #Maamanithan @ahatamil @ahavideoIN @YSRfilms @SGayathrie @gurusoms @shajichen @mynnasukumar @sreekar_prasad @onlynikil @Riyaz_Ctc”.

Earlier, Maamanithan also bagged the gold in the Best Asian Film category at the Tokyo Film Awards. While Mart Bira’s ‘Nomadic Doctor’ took the bronze, Takahiro Kawabe’s ‘Love Song at 5 pm’ won the silver medal.

Seenu Ramasamy shared the information on his Twitter handle and wrote, “Category ( Best Asian Film) Golden Winner Happy to share our #Maamanithan feature film Won Tokyo Film Awards 2022 Thanks to producer @thisisysr @ilaiyaraaja @VijaySethuOffl @SGayathrie @shajichen @sreekar_prasad @mynnasukumar @studio9_suresh @CtcMediaboy @onlynikil.”

Maamanithan revolves around a humble auto driver struggling to provide proper education to his children. As he tries to sell his land to get them into a private school, he gets cheated by a real estate businessman Madhavan. The film has been produced by veteran musician Yuvan Shankar Raja under his YSR Productions banner. It witnessed a theatrical release on June 24, 2022, after being delayed for five years.

On the professional front, Vijay Sethupathi is all set to share the screen space with Bollywood actor Katrina Kaif in Sriram Raghavan’s upcoming film Merry Christmas.

‘Laal Singh Chaddha’: Just The Film Bollywood Badly Needed

Film: Laal Singh Chaddha (Released in theatres). Duration: 2 hours 39 minutes.

Director: Advait Chandan. Cast: Aamir Khan, Kareena Kapoor Khan, Mona Singh and Naga Chaitanya.

IANS Rating: ***1/2

Aamir Khan’s stardom is an interesting phenomenon. The man takes his own sweet time to make films and when he completes and releases one, it draws the attention of an entire nation. His success ratio only adds to his massive credibility as the superstar who rarely fails, barring of course in few exceptions such ‘Mela’ and ‘Thugs of Hindostan’.

So, when the news of him putting together the remake of Tom Hanks’ 1994 classic ‘Forrest Gump’ came out, it set the domino effect that reached its culmination with the release of the film. It has made a huge noise, which its makers are looking to convert into theatre footfalls, which have proved to be rather slow and sometimes elusive for recent Bollywood releases.

Much like its original, ‘Laal Singh Chaddha’ tells the story of a simple man and how he sails through life with his goodwill and values. It opens with the song ‘Kahani’ (crooned by Mohan Kannan), played against a rural landscape as a bird’s feather glides through different locations before it lands at the titular character’s feet.

The film manages to hold audience to their seats, a rarity in the present crop of Bollywood films, which are failing to hold people’s attention. The script has been penned by actor Atul Kulkarni, who has worked with Aamir in ‘Rang De Basanti’, and is his dear friend. It has been crafted really well, except for the love track of the lead characters which drags the otherwise it down in parts and doesn’t come across as naturally woven into the story.

Kulkarni compensates with the rest of the story as the film moves swiftly through landmark events in India’s recent history, perfectly weaving them into the film’s storyline, from the end of the Emergency to India’s historic 1983 World Cup victory, Operation Blue Star and Indira Gandhi’s assassination, Mandal Commission, Ram Rath Yatra, 1993 Mumbai bomb blasts, and the Kargil War. The narrative courses seamlessly through these tectonic events.

The film’s director Advait Chandan, who has been a long-time collaborator of Aamir in different capacities, has done justice to Kulkarni’s script. The combat scenes in Kargil have been neatly executed. Certain scenes, in fact, really make an impact and register well with the viewer.

The performance by the lead does disappoint a little. The signature brilliance of Aamir Khan seems to be missing in the dialogue-led scenes, but he puts his strengths to test with the scenes where there are no dialogues. He speaks with his face and eyes, and in these scenes, creates a hypnotic effect on the audience.

Mona Singh, last seen in an Aamir Khan-starrer in a bit role in ‘3 Idiots’, does a creditale job as his screen mother (a tall order, considering that the redoubtable Sally Field played the role in the Hollywood origininal). She’s outstanding as a stong single mother and farmer who drives a tractor through town, and firmly believes that her supposedly unequal son deserves every equal opportunity.

Kareena, as we have come to expect of her, is steller as the Monica Bedi-like gangster’s moll character and Aamir’s love interest, even though this track of the film is not too well-developed. She’s the perfect answer to the stripper-dopehead Jenny of ‘Forrest Gump’.

Tollywood’s Naga Chaitanya, who is known in the north of the Telugu-speaking states only for his high-profile divorce with Samantha Ruth Prabhu, effortlessly fits into Bubba’s role from ‘Forrest Gump’. Bubba becomes Bala, Aamir Kargil War partner who co-creates a ‘chaddi-banyan’ company with his comrade.

The production design doesn’t stand out as much as it should for a film that is set against contemporary history. Pritam’s music is good in parts. ‘Phir Na Aisi Raat Aayegi’ is perhaps the best song from the album. It’s a track that grows with time as Arijit Singh’s voice lends weight to it.

Lyricist Amitabh Bhattacharya seems to be a little lost in the film. Known for giving tinsel town some of the most iconic, sensible and quirky tracks, Amitabh was expected to give ‘Laal Singh Chaddha’ an athemic track, but he seems to have taken a back seat.

‘Laal Singh Chaddha’ should strike a chord with audiences, who must watch it despite what the trolls say, and if it does, it will finally end the creative dry spell that the Hindi film industry is experiencing at present.

After seeing this film, one wants to say, like the Aamir character after having his favourite gol gappas, “Pet to bhar jaata hai, man nahin bharta (The stomach is full, but one wants more).” (IANS)

‘Raksha Bandhan’: From Chandni Chowk To Nowhere

Film: Raksha Bandhan (Released in theatres). Duration: 1 hour 48 minutes.

Director: Aanand L. Rai. Cast: Akshay Kumar, Bhumi Pednekar and Seema Pahwa
IANS Rating: **

Everytime Akshay Kumar goes to Chandni Chowk on-screen, the audience repeats in their mind exactly what Paresh Rawal said in ‘Phir Hera Pheri’: “Mereko toh aisa dhak dhak horela hai (I can feel my heart beating in anxiety).”

Thirteen years after the debacle of ‘Chandni Chowk to China’, Akshay is back with yet another dud, ‘Raksha Bandhan’, whose coordinates are in the complex and congested streets of Chandni Chowk.

Akshay is reuniting with director Aanand L. Rai with this film after their last successful collaboration in ‘Atrangi Re’, where he was seen with Sara Ali Khan and Dhanush. ‘Atrangi Re’, though, was an OTT release. This time, the theatres will test the covalent bond between the actor and director as it clashes with the Aamir Khan and Kareena Kapoor-starrer ‘Laal Singh Chaddha’.

Rai moved away from his small-town settings that he is known for and has based the film in Delhi. It tells the story of a brother, who does everything in his capacity to marry off his four sisters, no matter how much the dowry amount, only to realise later that the practice has serious repercussions on the life of women.

Akshay’s character, who initially collects funds for the sisters’ marriages, understands the problem and invests the money in their education after an untoward incident and subsequent 60s-style Bollywood melodrama strikes the family. The actor, who comes up with roughly a film in each quarter, puts little to no effort although he plays the lead.

The audience has seen the same Akshay Kumar in ‘Bachchhan Paandey’, in ‘Samrat Prithviraj’, and in ‘Raksha Bandhan’. There’s no character when Akshay portrays one; there’s just Akshay Kumar. There’s a limit to what the audience can take and Akshay”s lacklustre attitude of late compels those at the receiving end to say, “Bacche ki jaan lega kya?” (Enough is enough).

Bhumi Pednekar, who plays Akshay’s love interest in the film, offers nothing new in terms of her performance, but to give credit where it is due, she does manage to salvage a few scenes with her work. The supporting cast, too, is mediocre with the notable exception of Seema Pahwa.

The script, screenplay and direction appear to be completely out of sync with what the film was meant to be in the head of the director. What works well are the production design and art direction. The earthy colour palette lends depth to the frames and adds aesthetic value to them.

Himesh Reshammiya’s music is a complete letdown; instances where he goes behind the mic only add insult to the injury. The songs and the situations around them seem to be forced and added just to attract the audience. They are of no value to the film’s narrative.

Overall, ‘Raksha Bandhan’ is a downer. It will be interesting to see if the audience likes the film. Or will they give Akshay Kumar a hat-trick of flops after ‘Bachchhan Paandey’ and ‘Samrat Prithviraj’. (IANS)

BRAHMASTRA: PART ONE – SHIVA Releasing In Cinemas On September 9th

After enthralling music lovers globally with Kesariya that topped all musical charts for three weeks in a row, Sony Music drops yet another beautiful track ‘Deva Deva’ which is the second track from the album ‘Brahmāstra: Part One – Shiva’.

Deva Deva’ pulsates with spirituality and a distinctly upbeat rhythm. Sung by Arijit Singh and Jonita Gandhi in Hindi, composed by Pritam Chakraborty, and penned by Amitabh Bhattacharya, the song encapsulates the magical moment in the film where Shiva, played by Ranbir Kapoor, finds the power within. The powerful lyrics of the song have a unique blend of love and devotion as Shiva, the protagonist discovers his majestic abilities of fire. The song is pivotal to Shiva’s character development in the film and does absolute justice to the concept of ‘Love, Light and Fire’.

Talking about his experience of the song, actor Ranbir Kapoor shared, “I thoroughly enjoyed the song, and could relate to it on so many levels personally. Pritam Da, Arijit, Amitabh, and Ayan have put in a lot of effort to create this masterpiece. The song makes one feel spiritually powerful with a rare ease, and I hope everyone feels and enjoys it as much as I did.”

Sharing his experience about the audio-visual brilliance of the song, director Ayan Mukerji shared, “I don’t think there could have been a better time to release the song than on Shravan Somvar. The auspicious occasion just syncs with the captivating melody of the song and the spiritual visuals of Ranbir’s character – Shiva, exploring his fire power. I’m so grateful for all the love we have received on Kesariya. And I just can’t wait to see how people will react to Deva Deva!”

Sharing his experience on composing the track, Pritam said, “Brahmāstra’s album has made me think aloud in terms of bringing in spiritual elements within a song. With ‘Deva Deva’, we have modernized the music, while keeping classical and devotional elements prominently. This spiritual song gives an otherworldly experience, and it was honestly enlightening to create it. I hope it’s a treat for everyone.”

Singer Arijit Singh says, “It has been an absolute pleasure to voice ‘Deva Deva’. The song emanates an impeccable, positive energy that will certainly resonate with everyone. I’m really excited about it.  I hope the audience enjoys it to the fullest.”

Produced by Star Studios, Dharma Productions, Prime Focus and Starlight Pictures the magnum opus BRAHMĀSTRA: PART ONE – SHIVA will release theatrically on September 9th, 2022, in 5 Indian languages – Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and Kannada with a stellar ensemble cast of Amitabh Bachchan, Ranbir Kapoor, Alia Bhatt, Mouni Roy and Nagarjuna Akkineni.

Song details for all the versions:

Hindi

Singers – Arijit Singh and Jonita Gandhi | Lyricist – Amitabh Bhattacharya

Hindi Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WjAPDofGg28

Telugu

Singers – Sreerama Chandra and Jonita Gandhi | Lyricist – Chandrabose

Telugu Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mWiZ4HYcFBs

Tamil

Singers – Sid Sriram and Jonita Gandhi | Lyricist – Madhan Karky

Tamil Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jZba76mHdg4

Kannada

Singers – Sanjith Hegde and Jonita Gandhi | Lyricist – Hridaya Shivas

Kannada Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SJzgGaRLsjs

Allu Arjun To Lead India Day Parade In New York

Popular Telugu actor Allu Arjun, who starred in the hit film Pushpa will lead the annual India Day Parade in New York next month organized by the Federation of Indian Associations, a leading Indian diaspora organization, as India marks 75th year of Independence. The Federation of Indian Associations — New York, New Jersey and Connecticut — have planned grand events in the coming weeks and months to celebrate India’s 75 years of Independence —  Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav.

According to reports, Super Star Allu Arjun will be the Grand Marshall of the India Day Parade in New York City on August 21. Allu Arjun, the Grand Marshal, will lead the parade along with NYC Mayor Eric Adams and a host of other celebrities and distinguished participants.

The FIA India Day parade is considered the largest parade outside India to mark the country’s independence and brings together thousands of members of the diaspora.

FIA President, Kenny Desai, during the fourth Parade Council Meeting, announced details of the FIA’s planned grand events lined up for the celebration of India’s 75 years of Independence -Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav.

he annual cultural events runthrough several streets of Madison Avenue in the heart of Manhattan, featuring tableaux by various Indian-American organizations, marching bands, police contingents and cultural performances by young Indian-American children.

FIA Chairman Ankur Vaidya welcomed the announcement of Arjun as FIA’s 40th Grand Marshal and complimented the mega star for his kindness and patriotism towards the motherland. “There is palpable excitement in the Indian-American community to welcome the popular superstar and FIA will ensure he feels at home in the US,” Vaidya said.

Previously, actors Arjun Rampal, Abhishek Bachchan, and Baahubali actors Rana Daggubati and Tamannaah Bhatia, as well as Sunny Deol and Raveena Tandon have attended the parade.

Southern Indian Films Sweep 68th National Film Awards Suriya, Ajay Devgn Share Best Actor Title

(IANS) Director Sudha Kongara’s ‘Soorarai Pottru’, which was partly inspired by events from the life of Captain G.R. Gopinath, founder of India’s first budget airline, swept five National Awards, including those for Best Feature Film, Best Actor and Best Actress at the 68th National Film Awards. The awards were announced in New Delhi on Friday.

Malayalam actress and playback singer Aparna Balamurali, who played the female lead in the film, was named Best Actress, and Suriya, who played the male lead, share the Best Actor honour with Ajay Devgn for Om Raut’s ‘Tanhaji: The Unsung Warrior’.

‘Tanhaji’ also took home the award for Best Popular Film Providing Wholesome Entertainment.

But it was the day of ‘Soorarai Pottru’. It fetched music director and actor G.V. Prakash the Best Background Music award. The award for Best Music Direction (Songs) went to Thaman for the Allu Arjun superhit Telugu film ‘Ala Vaikunthapurramlo’.

‘Soorarai Pottru’, which is now being remade in Hindi, also won the award for Best Screenplay for Shalini Usha Nair and Sudha Kongara.

Critically acclaimed Malayalam superhit film ‘Ayyappanum Koshiyum’ also scored handsomely at the awards, fetching the late Sachidanandan K.R. the Best Director Award.

The film also won awards for Best Action Direction and Best Female Playback Singer. Rajasekhar, Mafia Sasi and Supreme Sundar, who did the stunt direction for the film, will collect the action award. The Best Female Playback Singer award went to Nanchamma.

Biju Menon, who came up with a sterling performance in ‘Ayyappanum Koshiyum’, got the Best Supporting Actor award. The Best Supporting Actress went to Lakshmi Priya Chandramouli for her fine performance in Vasanth’s Tamil film ‘Sivaranjaniyum Innum Sila Pengallum’.

‘Sivaranjaniyum Innum Sila Pengallum’ put up a stellar show as well, winning Best Editing, which went to Sreekar Prasad. The film also won the award for the Best Feature Film in Tamil.

Sandhya Raju won the Award for Best Choreography for the Telugu film ‘Natyam’, which also took home the award for the Best Makeup Artist.

Director Sagar Puranik’s ‘Dollu’, produced by Wadeeyar Movies, got the Best Kannada Feature Film award. Jobin Jayan won the award for Best Location Sound Recordist under the Best Audiography Award for the same film.

The Indira Gandhi Award for Best Debut Film of a Director went to Madonne Ashwin for the Tamil film ‘Mandela’.

Allu Arjun To Lead India Day Parade In New York

Popular Telugu actor Allu Arjun, who starred in the hit film Pushpa will lead the annual India Day Parade in New York next month organized by the Federation of Indian Associations, a leading Indian diaspora organization, as India marks 75th year of Independence. The Federation of Indian Associations — New York, New Jersey and Connecticut — have planned grand events in the coming weeks and months to celebrate India’s 75 years of Independence —  Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav.

According to reports, Super Star Allu Arjun will be the Grand Marshall of the India Day Parade in New York City on August 21. Allu Arjun, the Grand Marshal, will lead the parade along with NYC Mayor Eric Adams and a host of other celebrities and distinguished participants.

The FIA India Day parade is considered the largest parade outside India to mark the country’s independence and brings together thousands of members of the diaspora.

FIA President, Kenny Desai, during the fourth Parade Council Meeting, announced details of the FIA’s planned grand events lined up for the celebration of India’s 75 years of Independence -Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav.

he annual cultural events runthrough several streets of Madison Avenue in the heart of Manhattan, featuring tableaux by various Indian-American organizations, marching bands, police contingents and cultural performances by young Indian-American children.

FIA Chairman Ankur Vaidya welcomed the announcement of Arjun as FIA’s 40th Grand Marshal and complimented the mega star for his kindness and patriotism towards the motherland. “There is palpable excitement in the Indian-American community to welcome the popular superstar and FIA will ensure he feels at home in the US,” Vaidya said.

Previously, actors Arjun Rampal, Abhishek Bachchan, and Baahubali actors Rana Daggubati and Tamannaah Bhatia, as well as Sunny Deol and Raveena Tandon have attended the parade.

Doordarshan Launches “Swaraj,” A 75-Episode Serial On India’s Freedom Struggle

Coinciding with Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav, Doordarshan is all set to come up with a 75-episode series titled Swaraj, which will narrate the untold stories of unsung heroes of India. According to reports, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (I&B) has launched the promo of Doordarshan’s mega historical show titled “Swaraj- Bharat Ke Swatantrata Sangram Ki Samagra Gatha” on July 15,2022.

The 75-episode docu-drama series will depict India’s freedom struggle from the 15th century when Vasco da Gama first reached India to 1947 when the country got independence. “This serial will bring to life several aspects of Indian history while featuring the lives and sacrifices of lesser known heroes,” a press release noted.

Among the new content, Swaraj, a 75-episodes mega show illustrating the glorious history of India’s freedom struggle and lesser-known tales about Indian history would be aired soon. The series will showcase India’s historical journey from 1498 when Vasco da Gama first reached India to 1947 when the country got independence. The popular film actor, Manoj Joshi, plays a stellar role as the narrator (sutradhar) of the serial. The serial has grand production quality and promises to be a visual treat.

Swaraj is to be launched on 14th August 2022 in Hindi on DD National and subsequently in several regional languages for telecast on the regional network of Doordarshan. Its audio version will be broadcast on the All India Radio network as well. Speaking during the promo launch, Anurag Singh Thakur said “The promo is not only a glimpse of what was envisioned during the freedom struggle but it is also a glimpse of what will be the New Doordarshan of New India.” 

He said that from Chitrahar to Samachar, the programs of DD used to have quality. The minister added, “We will ensure that it is further enhanced in the coming years.” He appreciated the efforts of the research and advisory team of ‘Swaraj’ for continuing their work despite the COVID-19 pandemic. He also emphasised that the telecast of Swaraj in 10 languages will amplify its accessibility for all. The minister congratulated the whole team of Doordarshan and All India Radio on the successful launch. Secretary, Ministry of I&B, Apurva Chandra, who also attended the launch event said, “On the occasion of Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav, it is a matter of great joy that through the serial youth will come to know about the contribution of people who made sacrifices in the freedom struggle.” He also said that Prasar Bharati is fulfilling its mandate of wholesome entertainment through such high-quality serials for its viewers. Member, Swaraj Advisory Committee, Jawahar Lal Kaul in his address stressed the point that unsung and lesser-known heroes of India’s freedom struggle from all the regions must be remembered for their supreme sacrifice for Swaraj. He said that the deep research and study by the Swaraj Advisory Committee enriched the content for the production of the serial.

‘83’ To Be Celebrated At Indian Film Festival Of Melbourne

Legendary cricketer Kapil Dev will be seen gracing the Indian Film Festival of Melbourne 2022. Coming back after 2 years of virtually organizing the event, IFFM will now be physically held in the Australian city from August 12th to 20th, and the former Indian captain will be attending the event to celebrate Kabir Khan’s sports drama 83, which witnessed its theatrical release last year on December 24. The movie revolves around the journey of India’s cricket squad led by Kapil Dev.

While expressing his emotions about being part of one of the world’s leading and biggest Indian film festivals, the legendary cricket star told the news agency, ANI, “I look forward to being part of IFFM 2022. It’s a great platform for celebrating the best in Indian cinema. I truly do believe that sports and cinema are two major cultural experiences for not only Indians but various communities and countries that bind us together.”

With over 100 films in 23 different languages chosen for the festival, the lineup is more diverse than ever. The line-up this year is more diverse than ever before with over 100 films in 23 languages having been selected for the festival. 

The Movie 83, directed by Kabir Khan, will be celebrated at IFFM and the festival has invited legendary cricketer Kapil Dev to be the guest of honor. 

In 2019, IFFM was hosted by Indian celebrities such as Shahrukh Khan, Arjun Kapoor, Tabu, Vijay Sethupathi, Rima Das, Zoya Akhtar, and Karan Johar among others before the world was struck by a virus. The festival will take place in Melbourne from August 12-20.

Pointing out that cinema and sports are something that binds people together irrespective of several differences, Kapil Dev added, “It’s something for decades now that has united people. It’s a deep-rooted emotional connection and love we have for both cinema and sports, and when they come together it’s a rewarding experience for everyone.”

‘Thor: Love And Thunder’ Nets Rs 64.80 Cr In First 4 Days

By, Akshay Acharya

Even as Bollywood still struggles at the box office, Hollywood and South Indian tentpoles continue to soar to unprecedented heights.

The recently released superhero film ‘Thor: Love and Thunder’, led by a shirtless Chris Hemsworth and Christian Bale thrown in for good measure, netted Rs 64.80 crore domestically (Rs 83.61 crore minus GST) in the first four days of its theatrical run, according to trade sources.

Considering that the much-hyped Akshay Kumar-starrer ‘Samrat Prithviraj’, to quote figures from the Internet Movie Database (IMDb), was able to gross Rs 82.3 crore during its entire theatrical run, despite being made tax-free in three major states, the movie-going public in India clearly like their superheroes to be winners.

Independent film trade analyst Sumit Kadel, commenting on the figures, said ‘Thor’ has seen fifth-highest opening weekend ever for a Hollywood film in India.

“From Bollywood, only the Kartik Aaryan-starrer ‘Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2’ managed to net Rs 65 crore in its opening weekend”, he said. He credited the powerful cast of ‘Thor’ and the brand value of Marvel Studios for pulling in the crowds.

Even the sleeper hit, ‘The Kashmir Files’, had a lukewarm opening weekend, but picked up because of the positive word-of-mouth. ‘The Kashmir Files’, ‘Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2’ and ‘Gangubai Kathiawadi’ are the only Hindi films in the IMDb Top 10.

The Indian box-office numbers for ‘Thor’, incidentally, mirrored those of the United States, where the film raked in $143 million in its opening weekend, making it the third most profitable release after ‘Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ ($187.4 million) and ‘Jurassic World Dominion’ ($145 million).

Will ‘Thor’ be able to sustain its opening surge? It is likely to see a drop in collections, but it will still cross the safe zone of Rs 100 crore. That will be significantly behind the Rs 217.52 crore made by ‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’, but closer to Rs 127.31 crore garnered by ‘Dr Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ — both films are Marvel releases, incidentally.

So, how are Bollywood’s forthcoming big releases likely to fare in this market? According to Kadel, ‘Shamshera’ may bring some respite, given that it’s an ‘event film’ and the buzz around its music can ensure a good opening.

The stakes, though, are high for both Ranbir Kapoor, who is returning to the big screen after four years, and YRF, the Aditya Chopra-helmed production house which has seen three of its recent releases — ‘Bunty Aur Babli 2’, ‘Jayeshbhai Jordaar’, and ‘Samrat Prithviraj’ getting mauled at the box office.

Talking about Mani Ratnam’s upcoming epic, ‘Ponniyin Selvan: I’, Kadel said the film has been mounted on a grand scale with a good cast to back up the high production values. It is most likely to further strengthen South Indian cinema’s grip on the pan-India box office.

As for the clash that will unfold next month with the release of the Aamir Khan-starrer ‘Laal Singh Chaddha’ and Akshay Kumar’s ‘Raksha Bandhan’ on the Independence Day long weekend, both films will offer tough competition to each other, but will either make the box office ring with joy? (IANS)

My Kali Is Queer: Resisting The Homogenization Of Hinduism

A filmmaker is challenged for her depiction of the Hindu goddess.

(RNS) — Leena Manimekalai’s 2019 film “Maadathy,” about the brutalization of a Dalit girl who becomes a village deity, began with the words, “Behind every deity in India, there is a story of injustice.” These words have proven prescient. An injustice is brewing around Manimekalai’s new film “Kaali”: The film and its poster have brought the filmmaker threats of arrest, rape and murder. 

Manimekalai calls “Kaali” a “performance documentary” — a personal and poetic meditation on the female divine. In a six-minute excerpt shown at a multimedia exhibition in Toronto last week, Mother Kali, Hinduism’s powerful goddess of death and the end of time, wanders through a pride festival in Toronto at night. She observes groups of people out on the town, takes a subway ride, stops in a bar. People take selfies with her. In the last frame, she is on a park bench where a man gives her a cigarette. The poster for the film shows the goddess smoking a cigarette and holding a pride flag.   

The Aga Khan Museum and Toronto Metropolitan University caved in to pressure from the Indian government and issued apologies for screening the film. Twitter removed Manimekalai’s tweet showing the film’s poster. Manimekalai is wanted for arrest for “hurting religious feelings” in Assam, Uttarakhand, Haridwar, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi and several other states and has received numerous death and rape threats. 

In an email Manimekalai said the controversy had made it impossible for her to return to India. “My safety is a big question mark now and I feel totally derailed to be honest. But I don’t want to bow down, and so I’m fighting with full power.” 

Manimekalai comes from a South Indian community that worships the Goddess Kali as “a pagan goddess” who “eats meat cooked in goat’s blood, drinks arrack, smokes and dances wild,” the filmmaker told The Guardian.

Manimekalai, who identifies as bisexual, says, “My Kali is queer. She is a free spirit. She spits at the patriarchy. She dismantles Hindutva. She destroys capitalism. She embraces everyone with all her thousand hands.”

Someone unfamiliar with Hinduism might say Hindus are justified in their outrage. It’s important to understand, however, that the film and its poster are in line with a long tradition of diversity of Hindu practice and belief and immense personal freedom in one’s relationship with the divine. 

An Indian member of parliament, Mahua Moitra, defended the film, saying, “To me, Kali is a meat-eating, alcohol-accepting goddess. I am a Kali worshipper. I am not afraid of anything. Not your goons. Not your police. And most certainly not your trolls.” Moitra is now facing criminal charges, too.

Kali first appeared in Indian culture as an Indigenous deity before being absorbed into the Brahminical traditions and Sanskrit texts in the present-day form “as a dangerous, blood-loving battle queen.” Hindu Goddesses are at the same time fierce warriors against evil and injustice and unconditionally loving and protective, and Kali’s devotees consider her the Divine Mother of all humanity.

Neither cigarettes nor queer pride is forbidden in Hinduism. Hinduism is historically very open toward sex and sexual difference. Innumerable stories in Hindu Scriptures tell of same-sex relationships, children born of same-sex relationships and characters — some of them gods — who are gay, queer or trans.  

The South Indian Goddess Mariamman is often offered alcohol, and animals are sacrificed for her. The Guyanese “Madrassi” community comprises Hindus who worship Devi (the Mother Goddess) in all her forms, particularly Mariamman and Kateri Amma. “We firmly believe that devotion to Amma is subjective, and she comes to each of us in a unique way,” Vijah Ramjattan, president and founder of the United Madrassi Association in New York, told me. The community’s first Madrassi Day parade in 2017 featured an LGBTQ artist and dancer, Zaman, perform as the goddess Sundari.

Hindu deities smoke, drink, get high and sometimes eat meat. It is very common for alcohol, meat and even cigarettes to be offered to deities, particularly Kali. As the writer Shuddhabrata Sengupta explains, in the late 19th century, a Kali brand of cigarettes was produced in Calcutta.

One advertisement read, ‘If you care for the development of ‘svadeshi’ [homegrown Indian] products, if you feel responsible for the poor, miserable, working people of this land, if you can truly distinguish between good and evil, then, o Hindu brothers, you must use these ‘Kali’ cigarettes!” 

Walking through the narrow labyrinthine lanes of Varanasi, one of the holiest Hindu cities, it’s hard to miss the government-run “bhang” stands selling cannabis in the form of cookies and cakes, or as a drink. Most holy men in the city take bhang, local swamis told me, to deepen the experience of meditation and communion with God. Drugs have been part of Hinduism since prehistory; Lord Soma, the Vedic god of healing and plants, is named for a hallucinogenic which was offered to god and drunk by priests. 

The extreme and egregious reaction to “Kaali,” the film, and its poster denies the Hindu idea that we all have tendencies towards goodness (satva), passion (rajas) and lethargy (tamas) and that our job is to ensure that the best parts of us win. We are allowed our mistakes because even the gods err.

And gods are everywhere: I grew up with my gods and goddesses on everything around me: my lunchbox and water bottle, clothes, vehicles, toys, movies and movie posters. We were taught to think of god in very intimate ways: Our parents and teachers were god, but so were spouses and lovers. I was called Krishna in my family because my mother and her sister were both mother to me, and Krishna, too, had two mothers. A friend told me his uncle was called Krishna because he had a wife and a mistress; Krishna, too, is known for having several wives and lovers. 

I always appreciated this intimacy Hindus have with the divine that allows us to choose a deity for our devotions, to shape that deity according to our own desires. We come to the god of our choice as we are, and god welcomes us. 

The violence and misogyny Manimekalai is facing is unconscionable, but the larger issue for Hindus is that her critics are bent on creating a homogenized Hinduism robbed of its glorious diversity. If there is a story of injustice behind every deity in India, the injustice today is that the deities themselves are being constrained, reduced, strangled. This homogenization favors Brahminical and Sanskritized texts and practices and erases the ways that non-Brahmin communities worship.

But the two issues are essentially the same: This homogenization favors male brutality. The Hindu nationalist version of the god Rama is warring, angry, with no Sita, his female companion, by his side. The Hindutva Hanuman is blood-red and furious, instead of the embodiment of love and sacrifice. Meanwhile they whitewash Kaali of everything that makes her fierce

In the impassioned words of Moitra, “Neither Lord Ram nor Lord Hanuman solely belongs to the BJP,” she said, referring to India’s ruling Hindu nationalist party. “Has the party taken the lease of Hindu dharma? … [The BJP] is a party of outsiders that tried to impose its Hindutva politics but was snubbed by the electorate. BJP should not teach us how to worship Maa Kali.”

Kali, she concluded, “urges us all to resist the BJP’s attempt to “impose its agenda of Hindutva (Hindu nationalism) and thrusting its monolithic views” for the sake of the country.  This starts with giving a young filmmaker the right to express herself freely through her art. (Sunita Viswanath is a co-founder and executive director of Hindus for Human Rights. The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily reflect those of Religion News Service.)

A filmmaker is challenged for her depiction of the Hindu goddess

(RNS) — Leena Manimekalai’s 2019 film “Maadathy,” about the brutalization of a Dalit girl who becomes a village deity, began with the words, “Behind every deity in India, there is a story of injustice.” These words have proven prescient. An injustice is brewing around Manimekalai’s new film “Kaali”: The film and its poster have brought the filmmaker threats of arrest, rape and murder.

Manimekalai calls “Kaali” a “performance documentary” — a personal and poetic meditation on the female divine. In a six-minute excerpt shown at a multimedia exhibition in Toronto last week, Mother Kali, Hinduism’s powerful goddess of death and the end of time, wanders through a pride festival in Toronto at night. She observes groups of people out on the town, takes a subway ride, stops in a bar. People take selfies with her. In the last frame, she is on a park bench where a man gives her a cigarette. The poster for the film shows the goddess smoking a cigarette and holding a pride flag.

The Aga Khan Museum and Toronto Metropolitan University caved in to pressure from the Indian government and issued apologies for screening the film. Twitter removed Manimekalai’s tweet showing the film’s poster. Manimekalai is wanted for arrest for “hurting religious feelings” in Assam, Uttarakhand, Haridwar, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi and several other states and has received numerous death and rape threats.

In an email Manimekalai said the controversy had made it impossible for her to return to India. “My safety is a big question mark now and I feel totally derailed to be honest. But I don’t want to bow down, and so I’m fighting with full power.”

Manimekalai comes from a South Indian community that worships the Goddess Kali as “a pagan goddess” who “eats meat cooked in goat’s blood, drinks arrack, smokes and dances wild,” the filmmaker told The Guardian.

Manimekalai, who identifies as bisexual, says, “My Kali is queer. She is a free spirit. She spits at the patriarchy. She dismantles Hindutva. She destroys capitalism. She embraces everyone with all her thousand hands.”

Someone unfamiliar with Hinduism might say Hindus are justified in their outrage. It’s important to understand, however, that the film and its poster are in line with a long tradition of diversity of Hindu practice and belief and immense personal freedom in one’s relationship with the divine.

An Indian member of parliament, Mahua Moitra, defended the film, saying, “To me, Kali is a meat-eating, alcohol-accepting goddess. I am a Kali worshipper. I am not afraid of anything. Not your goons. Not your police. And most certainly not your trolls.” Moitra is now facing criminal charges, too.

Kali first appeared in Indian culture as an Indigenous deity before being absorbed into the Brahminical traditions and Sanskrit texts in the present-day form “as a dangerous, blood-loving battle queen.” Hindu Goddesses are at the same time fierce warriors against evil and injustice and unconditionally loving and protective, and Kali’s devotees consider her the Divine Mother of all humanity.

Neither cigarettes nor queer pride is forbidden in Hinduism. Hinduism is historically very open toward sex and sexual difference. Innumerable stories in Hindu Scriptures tell of same-sex relationships, children born of same-sex relationships and characters — some of them gods — who are gay, queer or trans.

The South Indian Goddess Mariamman is often offered alcohol, and animals are sacrificed for her. The Guyanese “Madrassi” community comprises Hindus who worship Devi (the Mother Goddess) in all her forms, particularly Mariamman and Kateri Amma. “We firmly believe that devotion to Amma is subjective, and she comes to each of us in a unique way,” Vijah Ramjattan, president and founder of the United Madrassi Association in New York, told me. The community’s first Madrassi Day parade in 2017 featured an LGBTQ artist and dancer, Zaman, perform as the goddess Sundari.

Hindu deities smoke, drink, get high and sometimes eat meat. It is very common for alcohol, meat and even cigarettes to be offered to deities, particularly Kali. As the writer Shuddhabrata Sengupta explains, in the late 19th century, a Kali brand of cigarettes was produced in Calcutta.

One advertisement read, ‘If you care for the development of ‘svadeshi’ [homegrown Indian] products, if you feel responsible for the poor, miserable, working people of this land, if you can truly distinguish between good and evil, then, o Hindu brothers, you must use these ‘Kali’ cigarettes!”

Walking through the narrow labyrinthine lanes of Varanasi, one of the holiest Hindu cities, it’s hard to miss the government-run “bhang” stands selling cannabis in the form of cookies and cakes, or as a drink. Most holy men in the city take bhang, local swamis told me, to deepen the experience of meditation and communion with God. Drugs have been part of Hinduism since prehistory; Lord Soma, the Vedic god of healing and plants, is named for a hallucinogenic which was offered to god and drunk by priests.

The extreme and egregious reaction to “Kaali,” the film, and its poster denies the Hindu idea that we all have tendencies towards goodness (satva), passion (rajas) and lethargy (tamas) and that our job is to ensure that the best parts of us win. We are allowed our mistakes because even the gods err.

And gods are everywhere: I grew up with my gods and goddesses on everything around me: my lunchbox and water bottle, clothes, vehicles, toys, movies and movie posters. We were taught to think of god in very intimate ways: Our parents and teachers were god, but so were spouses and lovers. I was called Krishna in my family because my mother and her sister were both mother to me, and Krishna, too, had two mothers. A friend told me his uncle was called Krishna because he had a wife and a mistress; Krishna, too, is known for having several wives and lovers.

I always appreciated this intimacy Hindus have with the divine that allows us to choose a deity for our devotions, to shape that deity according to our own desires. We come to the god of our choice as we are, and god welcomes us.

The violence and misogyny Manimekalai is facing is unconscionable, but the larger issue for Hindus is that her critics are bent on creating a homogenized Hinduism robbed of its glorious diversity. If there is a story of injustice behind every deity in India, the injustice today is that the deities themselves are being constrained, reduced, strangled. This homogenization favors Brahminical and Sanskritized texts and practices and erases the ways that non-Brahmin communities worship.

But the two issues are essentially the same: This homogenization favors male brutality. The Hindu nationalist version of the god Rama is warring, angry, with no Sita, his female companion, by his side. The Hindutva Hanuman is blood-red and furious, instead of the embodiment of love and sacrifice. Meanwhile they whitewash Kaali of everything that makes her fierce

In the impassioned words of Moitra, “Neither Lord Ram nor Lord Hanuman solely belongs to the BJP,” she said, referring to India’s ruling Hindu nationalist party. “Has the party taken the lease of Hindu dharma? … [The BJP] is a party of outsiders that tried to impose its Hindutva politics but was snubbed by the electorate. BJP should not teach us how to worship Maa Kali.”

Kali, she concluded, “urges us all to resist the BJP’s attempt to “impose its agenda of Hindutva (Hindu nationalism) and thrusting its monolithic views” for the sake of the country.  This starts with giving a young filmmaker the right to express herself freely through her art. (Sunita Viswanath is a co-founder and executive director of Hindus for Human Rights. The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily reflect those of Religion News Service.)

Anek: A Brilliant Movie Juxtaposing Northeastern Issues

“You are right; violence is not a solution.” The subject drops his gun. 

Immediately the message goes, “Subject is captured” – that is the climax of the story ANEK.

Anek is going to create a buzz all around the country for its unique theme, concept, and the conspicuous subject of juxtaposing the issues of the north eastern Indian states within the movie’s storyline. For so many decades, Northeast India has remained neglected and ignored by the mainland central government, which eventually caused an identity crisis for the North-easterners. 

The story portrays the plight of the people living in these seven northeastern states of India. It is a fact that we cannot deny. They are many years behind the rest of India. These seven states, or sisters, as they are called, have rich soil and natural resources but no outlets. The only major venue to sell their products may be in West Bengal. But seldom do the products reach theirs on time. They are stereotypically looked down upon by mainlanders as foreigners from neighboring countries like Tibet, Nepal, Thailand, China or even Myanmar, 

There are many subplots around the main event. Ayushman Khurana looks fabulous as an undercover cop Joshua, assigned to deal with the insurgents in this less explored hilly region. Aspiring and struggling boxer Aido, the role portrayed by gorgeous supermodel Andrea Kevichüsa is exceptionally fantastic and outstanding. Even the role performed by other cast deserves intense applauses from the heart.

The side stories revolving around the main story of intense fights and gun shots,  first the Ayushmaan’s character then his girlfriend’s journey, and her father’s ideology; also the Tiger Sangha, the Johnson group & local people, the Indian Government etc. From starting to end movie tries to focus on multiple aspects which actually resulted in undercooked fun. First of all, you lose the lead where the story wants to focus, the lead character is missing in half of the film, romance is on low profile and undeveloped, and many of the characters like J.D.Chakravarty’s had nothing to do with it. This movie is quite confusing but well-written dialogues and brings a good concept of Northeast Indian people and how and why they become rebellious where the Indian Government is responsible for not treating North Eastern Indian people equally.

Guys, this movie is realistic and intelligent writing where the script writer Anubhav Sinha is playing with audience and cast by showing negative character of everyone in the film except Aido ( Andrea Kavinchusa ) her performance was really authentic and outstanding a character of boxing girl who gets ill-treatment  by her coach and team members and she wants to play and win in boxing for India. Her father who is running a rebellious Johnson group against Indian government,  and Ayushman  Khurrana ( Joshua aka Aman ) an undercover agent of India to gather the information of NE Indian rebellion,  his performance was really brilliant and authentic. The performance by Manoj Pahwa as as boss of Indian army and defence was really intelligent and precise in the movie and performance by Kumud Mishra as defence counselor was really brilliant and outstanding and performance by every supporting cast was really authentic and distinctive, hats off to maker’s that they took NE people to make movie original.  Somehow the music and songs  are not really compelling to listen but shocking scenes are engaging and engrossing where screenplay was slow burn and cinematography was really good but not that impressive. The locations were realistic to shoot the movie.

At the end, Aido fulfills her promise and wins her boxing championship for India, confirming that India is our own for all Indians.

Thanks to filmmaker Anubhav Sinha for bringing this crucial issue to the forefront through mainstream cinema. I loved watching Ayushman Khurana’s performance; though the concept is sometimes confusing but intelligently written.

Rajamouli’s ‘RRR’ Bags The 2nd Best Film At Hollywood Critics Association Awards

Indian director, SS Rajamouli’s ‘RRR’ was declared the second-best film at the Hollywood Critics Association (HCA) Midseason Awards 2022.  This is the first time an Indian film has been nominated and awarded in the Best Picture category of a major Hollywood award list.

RRR was competing against Hollywood films like ‘Top Gun: Maverick’, ‘The Batman’, ‘Elvis’, and ‘The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent’.

Recently, RRR was also nominated in the Best Picture category of the Hollywood Critics Association Midseason Awards. It was in contention alongside Hollywood biggies like The Batman and Top Gun: Maverick.

The Awards were announced the other day and RRR was declared as the runner-up. Everything Everywhere All At Once remained the winner of the category.

Announcing the same, HCA’s official social media handle posted, “And the winner of the HCA Midseason Award for Best Picture goes to…Everything Everywhere All At Once. Runner up: RRR.”

This is indeed an incredible achievement by RRR. With his every film, Rajamouli is taking the Telugu cinema to next level. While Baahubali gave Tollywood nationwide recognition, RRR is now giving it international recognition.

RRR features Ram Charan and Jr NTR in the lead roles. Alia Bhatt, Ajay Devgn, and Olivia Morris played the other key roles in the movie. 

For unversed, RRR became the first Indian film to get nominated at the coveted Hollywood Critics Association. Last week, the nominations list was announced and on Saturday, the winners were announced.

RRR became the second-highest-grossing movie at the Indian box office. RRR was the number 1 movie in the world during the weekend, ahead of Hollywood movies The Batman and The Lost City. The film has been garnering acclaim and praise from international celebrities and audiences ever since its streaming on OTT platform, Zee 5 and Netflix. 

The big-budget blockbuster hit cinemas on March 25, and recently completed 100 days of its theatrical release on July 2. The makers released a special poster to thank audiences and celebrate the occasion. The film’s official social media handles shared the poster and wrote, “RRRIDING HIGHHHH….. 100 Days of #RRRMovie!!”

Bleecker Street Releases Mr. Malcolm’s List In Theaters Nationwide

Bleecker Street hosted a special screening of MR. MALCOLM’S LIST, on Wednesday, June 29, 2022,  and was attended by cast members, Freida Pinto, Ṣọpẹ́ Dìrísù, Zawe Ashton, and Theo James, with director Emma Holly Jones, and writer Suzanne Allain also in attendance at the DGA New York Theater.

Additional guests included Huma Abedin, Frederick Anderson, Yigal Azrouel, Kellie Brown, Sofia Bryant, Cara Buono, Juana Burga, Yin Chang, Sidney DuPont,  Tony Goldwyn, Sabine Heller, Myha’la Herrold, Serge Ibaka, Pom Klementieff, Giza Lagarce, Padma Lakshmi, Jerome Lamaar, Sunita Mani, Isabella McCalla, Britne Oldford, Aqua Parios, Thania Peck, Titina Penzini, Tanner Reese, Alysia Reiner, Conrad Ricamore, Vlada Roslyakova, Valentina Sampio, Gay & Nan Talese, Moonlynn Tsai, Alicja Tubilewicz, and Jeffrey C. Williams.

Following the screening, Saks hosted a VIP reception with cast members and special guests at Le Chalet at L’Avenue at Saks. The space was decadently themed to the year 1818, including an outdoor terrace where guests could play a game of croquet and have their watercolor portrait done by a live illustrator. The event was part of Saks’ larger partnership with Bleecker Street to celebrate the premiere of Mr. Malcolm’s List, including digital marketing, a product array inspired by the film on saks.com and a window installation at Saks’ iconic New York flagship on display now through Wednesday, July 6. 

Directed by Emma Holly Jones; Written by Suzanne Allain; Starring Freida Pinto, Ṣọpẹ́ Dìrísù, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Ashley Park, with Zawe Ashton, and Theo James.

When she fails to meet an item on his list of requirements for a bride, Julia Thistlewaite (Zawe Ashton) is jilted by London’s most eligible bachelor, Mr. Malcolm (Ṣọpẹ́ Dìrísù). Feeling humiliated and determined to exact revenge, she convinces her friend Selina Dalton (Freida Pinto) to play the role of his ideal match. Soon, Mr. Malcolm wonders whether he’s found the perfect woman…or the perfect hoax. Also starring Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Ashley Park, with Theo James.

Shuddh Singh Is Funny And Dangerous. Audiences Should Love Him!: Sanjay Dutt On His Character

Sanjay Dutt has delivered some of the most epic villains on-screen and he is back to give us a more evil, menacing, merciless, cold-hearted brute force of nature, Shuddh Singh in Shamshera. Sanjay plays Ranbir Kapoor’s nemesis in this action entertainer. As soon as the teaser and the trailer of Shamshera dropped, Sanjay started winning unanimous praise for his spine-chilling act!

The actor says, “I’m an actor and if I believe in a script or character, then I leave it to the director. His interpretation of Shuddh Singh, I can portray on the screen to the best of my abilities. Yes, I have my suggestions that I give which enhances the character even more. Shuddh Singh is funny and dangerous. Audience should love him!”
About visualising Shuddh Singh, director Karan Malhotra says, “I think what happens with me is, when I think of Sanjay sir to play a part in my film which I am doing, especially if it is a negative part, a good kind of madness grips me from inside. It’s just that automatically I start getting ideas of how to present him in the most menacing and the most unnerving way possible.”

Sanjay is collaborating with director Karan Malhotra again after Agneepath. Sanjay had given us a villain for the ages as Kancha Cheena in that film and he is hoping that audiences will shower him with similar love as Shuddh Singh in Shamshera.

Karan adds, “When Ekta Pathak Malhotra and I wrote the character of Shuddh Singh, the idea was for him to be a megalomaniac and how do we represent this trait of his, I thought that a name like Shuddh Singh would really hit the bulls eye with that. He is a man who is impure in character, ruthless and he’s a quirky demon which is phenomenal because he’s very entertaining. When you look at Shuddh Singh on screen, you should be unnerved. You should feel he is unpredictable!”

Sanjay and Ranbir were thrilled to know about the casting coup in Shamshera that pitted Sanjay against Ranbir because four years back (Ranbir’s last film), the young actor had played Sanju! So, Shamshera will be Sanju vs Sanju on screen which has become the biggest on-screen clash to watch out for!

About Sanjay Dutt, Ranbir says, “He is extremely spontaneous and I think he behaves like he is not working hard but he is working hard, he is constantly on set thinking about it. I believe that he does work hard though he gives the impression that he doesn’t care, but he cares a lot about work.”

The story of Shamshera is set in the fictitious city of Kaza, where a warrior tribe is imprisoned, enslaved and tortured by a ruthless authoritarian general Shuddh Singh. This is the story of a man who became a slave, a slave who became a leader and then a legend for his tribe. He relentlessly fights for his tribe’s freedom and dignity. His name is Shamshera.

The high-octane, adrenaline-pumping entertainer is set in the 1800s in the heartland of India. It has the big promise of a never seen before Ranbir Kapoor, who plays Shamshera in the film! Sanjay Dutt plays Ranbir’s arch-enemy in this huge casting coup and his showdown with Ranbir will be something to watch out for as they will ferociously go after each other with no mercy. Directed by Karan Malhotra, this action extravaganza has been produced by Aditya Chopra and is set to release in Hindi, Tamil and Telugu on July 22, 2022.

Watch the making of Sanjay Dutt transforming into Shuddh Singh here:
https://youtu.be/rO3VmiKpRDM

‘Shuddh Singh Is Funny And Dangerous. Audiences Should Love Him!’: Sanjay Dutt On His Character

Sanjay Dutt has delivered some of the most epic villains on-screen and he is back to give us a more evil, menacing, merciless, cold-hearted brute force of nature, Shuddh Singh in Shamshera. Sanjay plays Ranbir Kapoor’s nemesis in this action entertainer. As soon as the teaser and the trailer of Shamshera dropped, Sanjay started winning unanimous praise for his spine-chilling act!

The actor says, “I’m an actor and if I believe in a script or character, then I leave it to the director. His interpretation of Shuddh Singh, I can portray on the screen to the best of my abilities. Yes, I have my suggestions that I give which enhances the character even more. Shuddh Singh is funny and dangerous. Audience should love him!”
About visualising Shuddh Singh, director Karan Malhotra says, “I think what happens with me is, when I think of Sanjay sir to play a part in my film which I am doing, especially if it is a negative part, a good kind of madness grips me from inside. It’s just that automatically I start getting ideas of how to present him in the most menacing and the most unnerving way possible.”

Sanjay is collaborating with director Karan Malhotra again after Agneepath. Sanjay had given us a villain for the ages as Kancha Cheena in that film and he is hoping that audiences will shower him with similar love as Shuddh Singh in Shamshera.

Karan adds, “When Ekta Pathak Malhotra and I wrote the character of Shuddh Singh, the idea was for him to be a megalomaniac and how do we represent this trait of his, I thought that a name like Shuddh Singh would really hit the bulls eye with that. He is a man who is impure in character, ruthless and he’s a quirky demon which is phenomenal because he’s very entertaining. When you look at Shuddh Singh on screen, you should be unnerved. You should feel he is unpredictable!”

Sanjay and Ranbir were thrilled to know about the casting coup in Shamshera that pitted Sanjay against Ranbir because four years back (Ranbir’s last film), the young actor had played Sanju! So, Shamshera will be Sanju vs Sanju on screen which has become the biggest on-screen clash to watch out for!

About Sanjay Dutt, Ranbir says, “He is extremely spontaneous and I think he behaves like he is not working hard but he is working hard, he is constantly on set thinking about it. I believe that he does work hard though he gives the impression that he doesn’t care, but he cares a lot about work.”

The story of Shamshera is set in the fictitious city of Kaza, where a warrior tribe is imprisoned, enslaved and tortured by a ruthless authoritarian general Shuddh Singh. This is the story of a man who became a slave, a slave who became a leader and then a legend for his tribe. He relentlessly fights for his tribe’s freedom and dignity. His name is Shamshera.

The high-octane, adrenaline-pumping entertainer is set in the 1800s in the heartland of India. It has the big promise of a never seen before Ranbir Kapoor, who plays Shamshera in the film! Sanjay Dutt plays Ranbir’s arch-enemy in this huge casting coup and his showdown with Ranbir will be something to watch out for as they will ferociously go after each other with no mercy. Directed by Karan Malhotra, this action extravaganza has been produced by Aditya Chopra and is set to release in Hindi, Tamil and Telugu on July 22, 2022.

Watch the making of Sanjay Dutt transforming into Shuddh Singh here:
https://youtu.be/rO3VmiKpRDM

‘Indian Roots, Gods And History’ Helped Ayan Mukerji In The Making Of ‘Brahmastra’

Filmmaker Ayan Mukerji is all geared up for the release of his upcoming film ‘Brahmastra’, which he stresses is not a superhero film but a fantasy version of the director trying to write his “modern version” of something from a myth.

‘Brahmastra: Part One: Shiva’ stars Amitabh Bachchan, Ranbir Kapoor, Alia Bhatt, Mouni Roy, and Nagarjuna Akkineni.

‘Brahmastra’ is a three-part film franchise and the beginning of India’s first original universe, the Astraverse. It is a new original cinematic universe inspired by deeply rooted concepts and tales in Indian mythology but set in the modern world.

Talking about if he is a superhero nerd and how he drew inspiration to make a film on such a big scale, Ayan in a conversation with IANS said: “I am not a superhero nerd. I love some of the superhero films like ‘Avengers’ and ‘Spiderman’… I am not the biggest superhero fan.

“I would like to say that I am more of a fantasy film fan. And I honestly think ‘Brahmastra’ is not a superhero film. It is not about a guy wearing a costume and necessarily saving people.”

The 38-year-old filmmaker, who has previously helmed films such as ‘Wake Up Sid!’ and ‘Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani’, has bent towards fantasy.

“It (‘Brahmastra’) is just a fantasy epic story which has a lot of dramatic scope and in some way it is a fantasy version of me trying to write my modern version of something from myth. Like the scope that myth has but in a modern way.”

The director says he takes inspiration from “gods and goddesses” among many other things related to Indian culture.

“I am probably more affected by things from Indian roots by our gods and goddesses, by stories of Indian history, perhaps more than superheroes. It’s a combination of influences that have affected me in this film.” (IANS)

A.R. Rahman named ambassador of Indo-UK culture platform

The ‘Season of Culture’ intends to build on the British Council’s work in India and strengthen the partnership between India and the United Kingdom in the arts, English, and education.

The British Council’s ‘India-UK Together Season of Culture,’ which aims to encourage aspiring artists to interact, has named A.R. Rahman as its ambassador.

The ‘Season of Culture,’ which commemorates India’s 75th anniversary of independence, was officially opened by the British Deputy High Commissioner to India Jan Thomson and British Council Director (India) Barbara Wickham.

Samrat Prithviraj Review: Akshay Kumar’s Period Piece Is Loud, Lurid And Colourful

Samrat Prithviraj movie cast: Akshay Kumar, Sanjay Dutt, Manav Vij, Sonu Sood, Manushi Chhillar, Sakshi Tanwar, Ashutosh Rana, Manoj Lalit Tiwari Samrat Prithviraj movie director: Chandraprakash Dwivedi Samrat Prithviraj movie rating: 2 stars

The handsome king who galloped away with his bride, her knight in shining armour, has an ancient Indian context: Prithviraj Chauhan, the early 12th-century ruler of Ajmer, claimed Rajkumari Sanyogita as his own, after she lost her heart to him. Details of this love story are recorded in ‘Prithivaj Raso’, penned by Chand Bardai, said to be Prithviraj’s court poet. Not only was the fair princess rescued from the wrath of her father, the traitor Jaichand; the might of the Mughals was kept at bay till his last breath, so valorous was Prithviraj.

This is a beloved legend most Indians will remember vividly from their childhood. But there never has been a better time to make a movie out of it: muscular nationalism is at its peak, and at every turn, we are being reminded of the cruelties of the Mughal invaders, who ‘trampled upon our temples and turned them into mosques’. ‘Samrat Prithviraj’, in which Akshay Kumar plays the titular character, loses no time to tell us that he was the ‘last Hindu king’: after him came centuries of oppression which came to an end only after India attained independence in 1947.

What Chandraprakash Dwivedi has done is to soup up the legend so that it is in synch with the dominant national mood: Prithviraj is representative of a Bharat when it was pristine, pure, unpolluted. How did a director who has also made the astonishingly subversive ‘Mohalla Assi’ achieve this switcheroo? (Dwivedi has been on record to say that this is his passion project, and he has been trying to get it off the ground for a decade and more). Or is it just a question of being expedient?

Dwivedi is also a filmmaker who knows how to dramatise situations. The two-and-a-half hours run-time of ‘Samrat Prithviraj’ is all high-pitched drama, row upon row of costumery in place, massive scale filling up the screen. Mohammad Ghori (Manav Vij) is the chief antagonist, and while he is not shown to be as much of an out-and-out monster as Ranveer Singh’s Alauddin Khilji in ‘Padmavat’, he gets to narrow his eyes and hit a man when he is down, as befits those dastardly invaders.

The question is: given the kind of film it is, does it work? A Roman-arena like space, with a grievously wounded Prithviraj fighting off four-legged and two-legged beasts is a show-stopper which tops and tails the film: in between are few other effective moments, especially the one in which the ‘dilwala’ takes his ‘dulhaniya’ away.

Bottom of Form

But at no point is the plot or any character given significant breathing space, so intent is it upon glorifying its subject: Chand Bardai (Sonu Sood) has more ardour in his gaze than Prithviraj’s lady love (Manasi Chhillar, who comes off more contemporary than period, and leaves little impact). Sanjay Dutt’s Kaka Kanha whose undying faithfulness to Prithviraj is tested more than once, does double duty of a court jester and an affectionate uncle: how do you do a mainstream film without a comic figure? And then there is Ashutosh Rana as Jaichand, whose name has long been synonymous with being a traitor, and Sakshi Tanwar as his voluble wife, who carry their scenes, but are given softer treatment than they deserve, because, hey, we know who the real bad guys here are.

Not only does Prithviraj’s bravery makes him a combination of Bhishma and Bheem (in the words of the always-adoring Bardai), he is made into an early feminist, spouting inadvertently funny lines in support of women generally, and specifically his Sanyogita, whom he encourages to share his throne and listen to the people. Did anyone else feel a dissonance when these same sword-wielding ‘veeranganas’ jump to their death, committing ‘jauhar’? That leaves Akshay doing his thing: cleaving through ‘dushman fauj’ (enemy soldiers), twirling in the song-and-dance, fighting off the inexorable advance of the treacherous outsiders.

As befits its simplistic, shorn-of-nuance tone, the film is loud and lurid, lurching between dialogue-baazi and blandness, and staying determinedly faithful to its stated intent.

Akshay Kumar On Dropping Several Easter Eggs With The Second Trailer Of Samrat Prithviraj

Akshay Kumar’s next is Yash Raj Films’ first historical film, Samrat Prithviraj, which is based on the life and valour of the fearless and mighty King Prithviraj Chauhan. He is essaying the role of the legendary warrior who fought valiantly to protect India from the merciless invader Muhammad of Ghor in this visual spectacle. Akshay dropped the second trailer of the film today and it had several easter eggs that revealed many unseen moments from the film for fans and audiences to discover!

Akshay says, “The second trailer, ‘Aakhri Hindu Samrat’ of Samrat Prithviraj is out and hopefully it will increase the audiences’ excitement to watch the film this Friday. This new trailer has new visuals from the film and reveals new moments that I absolutely love.”

He adds, “As we start the countdown to the release of this glorious retelling of Samrat Prithviraj Chauhan’s life, I’m hoping that everyone invested in watching our film will get something grand to see and discuss with this trailer. Samrat Prithviraj was one of our bravest kings who didn’t get his due and I feel this is a film that had to be made to salute his spirit and valour.”

Prithviraj has been directed by Dr. Chandraprakash Dwivedi, who is best known for directing the television epic Chanakya and the critically acclaimed film Pinjar. The ethereally gorgeous Manushi Chhillar plays the role of King Prithviraj’s beloved Sanyogita and her launch is definitely one of the most awaited debuts of 2022. The film is set to release this Friday in Hindi, Tamil and Telugu.

Catch the second trailer here : https://youtu.be/itram1MNi04

Laal Singh Chaddha Opens On August 11th

With the huge strength of cricket lovers, loud cheers, whistles & big applause, ‘Laal Singh Chaddha’s fever took over the IPL finale as the movie trailer was unveiled. The wait is finally over! All the movie and cricket enthusiasts were treated to the biggest and most highly-anticipated trailer of the year – ‘Laal Singh Chaddha’ featuring Aamir Khan, Kareena Kapoor Khan, Mona Singh and Chaitanya Akkineni.

Touted to be one of the biggest releases of the year, the trailer of ‘Laal Singh Chaddha’ was launched with huge fanfare on television amidst the finale match in the biggest T20 Cricket Tournament that gave the cricket and movie buffs across the world an adrenaline rush. This is the first time ever that a film is going grand to this scale with its trailer launch on a world television platform and the sports world.

The impressive trailer of ‘Laal Singh Chaddha’ took the audience and especially fans of Aamir Khan on an emotional and spellbinding ride giving us a glimpse into the fascinating and innocent world of Laal Singh Chaddha. Get ready to watch the world through the childlike eyes of Laal Singh Chaddha. His slow-witted approach and childlike optimism are the driving force of the movie whereas his sweet bond with his mother and his fondness for his childhood love is the USP of the film.

Apart from that, the movie which has been shot at multiple picturesque locations, exhibits the Indian heritage in its tranquil form. Not to forget, ‘Laal Singh Chaddha’ also brings together the successful pair of Aamir and Kareena Kapoor Khan post the blockbuster ‘3 Idiots’. While their cute chemistry has impressed many, the trailer of ‘Laal Singh Chaddha’ has surely lit up our hearts and fuelled our souls. Mona Singh too looks in top Meanwhile, the songs from ‘Laal Singh Chaddha’ have taken over the hearts and souls of fans. Both ‘Kahani’ and ‘Main Ki Karan?’ have become popular and most played songs in India today. The ardent fans of AK have lapped the music and lyrics of both the songs and now post the trailer launch, they can’t wait to watch ‘Laal Singh Chaddha’ in action.

After the release of ‘Secret Superstar’, Aamir Khan and Advait Chandan have reunited for ‘Laal Singh Chadda’. Produced by Aamir Khan Productions, Kiran Rao, and Viacom18 Studios, ‘Laal Singh Chaddha’ also stars Kareena Kapoor Khan, Mona Singh, and Chaitanya Akkineni. The film releases in cinemas across North America on August 11.

I-Phone-Created Bengali Short Film Goes To Oscar-Qualifying Festival In Denmark

Indian director Abhiroop Basu’s (MEAL, LAALI, GUDGUDI) latest film, GUDIYA (Plaything), is one of 123 films, out of more than 4000 submissions from 40 countries, selected to compete for “Best International Short Film” at the 46th annual, Oscar-Qualifying Odense International Film Festival (OFF) in Denmark in August, 2022.

Logline: On the eve of India’s 73rd Republic Day, a working class woman’s daily routine goes for a toss when she is called to squeeze in an extra shift at work.

In English, “Gudiya” means “Plaything” or “Doll.” In a world diametrically divided between the powerful and the powerless, GUDIYA becomes an identity for those who are on the bottom of the food chain. Meanwhile, the film aims to hold up a metaphorical mirror to a nation obsessed with a false sense of hyper-nationalism that blinds them in the face of stark reality.

An international co-production between India and the United States, the nine-minute, socio-political drama on issues of gender and sexuality was shot in eight hours on a handheld I-phone with a crew of four people. It has been produced by Tushar Tyagi (India) and executive produced by Cynthia Kane (New York) and Jitin Hingorani (Texas). Select stills from the film are below

Director’s Statement: “The impetus for making a film like GUDIYA originated from a question I asked a middle-aged man in Kolkata’s famous Red-Light District, Sonagachhi: ‘Why do you prefer girls under 14?’ To which he replied, ‘Because they are easy to dominate.

The day was 26th January, India’s 73rd Republic Day, and a famous patriotic song was playing in the background, while this customer finished his cigarette and went inside. Though I didn’t get a glimpse of who he was with, I noticed the big round ears of a tattered teddy bear peeking from the window, as it slammed shut on my face.”

*One of Basu’s other short films, MEAL starring Adil Hussain, was also selected in 2019 for OFF, which is the largest short film festival in Europe.

Shah Rukh Khan’s Son Cleared In High-Profile Drugs Case

Indian authorities have dropped a case against the son of Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan who was arrested during a raid on a cruise ship last year on suspicion of having drugs on him.

India’s main drug law enforcement agency, the Narcotics Control Board (NCB), said on Friday it was dropping the case against Aryan Khan, 24, and five others due to a lack of “sufficient evidence”, while pressing charges against 14 others.

Khan’s arrest had polarised broadcast and social media in the Bollywood-obsessed country, with some saying he was being targeted for being the son of a Muslim celebrity in mainly Hindu India.

A lawyer for Khan told Reuters his client’s detention, which followed the raid on the boat off Mumbai last October, were unjustified and that he had broken no law. Khan was released on bail on Oct. 28 after 26 days in detention.

“We are happy that (an NCB team) investigated the case in an objective manner and decided not to file a complaint against Aryan Khan for lack of sufficient evidence,” his lawyer Satish Maneshinde said. “God is Great.”

NEWS 24 (BAG NETWORK) ANNOUNCES LAUNCH OF PODCAST 24- AWAAZ SABKI

A new digital platform called PODCAST 24- AWAAZ SABKI will cover news and stories from India on a variety of subjects including Politics, Bollywood, Crime, Women, Health, History, Education & Sports. It will also provide a platform to discuss and deliberate on a range of important and relevant social issues.

After the success of all its satellite channels and an impressive presence on social media, BAG Network, under the leadership of Ms. Anurradha Prasad, has now established its presence in the Podcast space to connect with its audience using this powerful digital platform.  As Ms. Anurradha Prasad puts it, “PODCAST 24- AWAAZ SABKI will bridge the gap between news and our listeners by curating content that is current and relevant to our audience”.
Millions of loyal viewers of NEWS 24 will now be able to listen to all the flagship programs of  NEWS 24 like ‘Itihaas Gawah Hai’ with Anurradha Prasad, ‘Ansune Kisse’ with Rajeev Shukla, ‘Sabse Bada Sawal’ with Sandeep Chaudhary, ‘Rashtra Ki Baat’ with Manak Gupta, ‘Mahaul Kya Hai?’ with Rajeev Ranjan,  on PODCAST 24.
Listeners can access the PODCAST 24 through all major podcast apps such as Spotify, Amazon, Google etc. The channel can also be accessed through the News 24 website.
The BAG Network invites everyone to be a part of this new and exciting journey.

Bollywood Legend Hema Malini Joins Gala To Support ISKCON Naperville

May 15th, 2022 marked an important time in history for ISKCON Naperville; a special fundraising dinner for the construction of the new temple, ISKCON Radha Shyamasundar. With any big endeavor, comes a big price. However, nothing is too big nor too intimidating for the devotees of ISKCON Naperville. 

The fundraising event was held at Ashyana Banquet Hall. The large banquet room was filled with promise and excitement, as all who attended were eager for the completion of this important project. Temple President Premananda Devi Dasi addressed the crowd of over 500 by reminding them what brought them all together: “Why build this temple? When Srila Prabhupada founded this institution, he listed seven purposes of ISKCON”. She then reiterated Srila Prabhupada’s fifth stated purpose: “To erect for the members, and for society at large, a holy place of transcendental pastimes, dedicated to the personality of Krishna.”

What made this year’s fundraising event exceedingly more memorable, was the attendance of famed Member of Indian Parliament and esteemed Bollywood actress, Hema Malini. She began her career as a bharatanatyam dancer. Hema Malini was able to land her first film role as a dancer in 1963 and starred in over 200 movies throughout her career. 

 She became a devotee of Krishna after she was introduced to the holy place of Vrindavan, where she would later serve as a Member of Parliament. She explained, “I was offered some other places, but I refused. I said I am not interested in being a politician or Member of Parliament from anywhere. If it is given to me, Matura, then I am interested because it is Krishna’s place and I am connected to Krishna. I want to serve there, not as a politician, but you have to be politically connected so you are able to do a lot of work with the help of our government.” In addition, she has also been helping clean up the Ganga and Yamuna rivers apart from supporting many more important projects in the region.

 Also in attendance was ISKCON communications director Anuttama Dasa and his wife, Rukmini Devi Dasi. Their presence was a gift and inspirational to many. Anuttama Dasa stated to the audience: “…This is the purpose of this ISKCON society; to help us. How do I get the envy out of my heart? How do I get the anger out of my heart? How do I get the greed out of my heart? So that I can become a force for change, for the better – and how can we do that as a community.

ISKCON Naperville devotees have been working tirelessly to support Prabhupada’s mission. “The world is looking for that type of leadership. By building the temple that you’re all contributing to, it actually becomes a place where we can come together and we can show our appreciation for Krishna; for all our gifts. We also can come together and say, ‘Lord, I want to be a force for good The three-story temple will include a commercial kitchen, snack bar, classrooms, a playgrou

This temple will not only be a place of worship, but a pillar for the community and people of all faiths. With the help of generous donors and hardworking devotees, temple construction is scheduled to conclude in the upcoming winter. Hema Malini expressed her great fortune to have been present at the unveiling of the temple signage by stating, “It was so wonderful to be there, it just felt like I’m still in Vrindavan because of the same atmosphere.”

A.R. Rahman Pitches For Indian Movies Not To Limit To Only Indian Stories

During the inauguration of the India pavilion at Cannes 2022 on Wednesday, Academy Award winner A.R. Rahman explained why we should tell stories about West and try to break the boundaries.

“I can’t say much because I’ve been in the industry for almost 40 years – ten years of playing outside as a musician and 30 years as a composer. I was a director for the sensory cinematic experience,” he said.

Rahman further shared that despite the fact we have our stories to tell, we must not restrict ourselves.

“Even though we have so many stories, we should tell stories about the West because we have a narrative about the West. We should be doing that.”

“The West does Gandhi, he (Shekhar Kapur) is the man who has done ‘Elizabeth: The Virgin Queen’. I am super inspired by him,” he added while hinting towards filmmaker Shekhar Kapur.

On the reason for choosing English language for his film, he elaborated: “The reason why I did this in the English language and for an international audience was to see if it is possible to break those boundaries and set a new path. Even if we fail it’s fine. I am talking about Le Musk, the sensory cinematic experience in Cannes XR. I want to thank my whole team, and please do check it out and see how we can improve and celebrate it. God bless you all. Thank you so much.”

The Indian delegation led by I&B Minister Anurag Thakur was present for the inauguration of the Indian pavilion at the ongoing Cannes Film Festival in France.

Deepika Padukone is attending the festival as a jury member, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Kamal Haasan, R Madhavan, Shekhar Kapur and Tamannaah Bhatia are among the Indian celebrities attending the 75th edition of the film festival. (IANS)

Manushi Chhillar Is Humbled With The Acclaim That She Has Been Getting From The Trailer Of Prithviraj

Superstar Akshay Kumar and gorgeous Bollywood debutant Manushi Chhillar starrer, Yash Raj Films’ first historical, Prithviraj, which is based on the life and valour of the fearless and mighty King Prithviraj Chauhan. Akshay is essaying the role of the legendary warrior who fought valiantly to protect India from the merciless invader Muhammad of Ghor. Manushi is playing the role of Prithviraj’s beloved Princess Sanyogita and she is thrilled that audiences are appreciating her unanimously in the trailer.

Manushi says, “It is amazing that people are appreciating my performance from what they have seen and experienced in the Prithviraj trailer. This is a dream come true of a debut for me and I’m hugely grateful that I’m getting to bring Princess Sanyogita’s life come alive on the big screen.”

She adds, “A debut like this, opposite one of the biggest superstars of the country like Akshay Kumar, is a lot of responsibility and I think I have given my everything to ensure that I play this role with utmost sincerity and dedication. So, the reaction of the audience that I’m getting today is humbling.”

Manushi further says, “My phone is buzzing with positivity from people on social media and my forever supportive fans. It’s a hugely happy moment of my career and I’m cherishing this thoroughly.”

Prithviraj has been directed by Dr. Chandraprakash Dwivedi, who is best known for directing the television epic Chanakya and the critically acclaimed film Pinjar. The ethereally gorgeous Manushi’s launch is definitely one of the most awaited debuts of 2022. The film is set to release on June 3 in Hindi, Tamil and Telugu.

Akshay Kumar Is Overwhelmed With Positive Response For PRITHVIRAJ

Superstar Akshay Kumar’s next is Yash Raj Films’ first historical, Prithviraj, which is based on the life and valour of the fearless and mighty King Prithviraj Chauhan. He is essaying the role of the legendary warrior who fought valiantly to protect India from the merciless invader Muhammad of Ghor. Akshay is thrilled with the incredibly positive response to the trailer of the film that was launched yesterday and feels humbled that people have connected to the most glorious tribute to the brave warrior who needs to be celebrated.

Akshay says, “I’m thrilled with the response to the trailer of Prithviraj. We wanted to give a glorious and the most authentic tribute to the incredibly valiant Samrat Prithviraj Chauhan and I’m so happy that the trailer has resonated with the audience. It’s amazing to see how people want to know more about the valour of the mighty king and we are humbled that we have been able to make people across the world want to know more about the Samrat.”

He adds, “I’m humbled that people are appreciating my craft and our efforts because we have given it our all to bring Samrat Prithviraj Chauhan to life on screen. It has truly been an honour to play a man who stood for his country, no matter what the consequence.”

Akshay further states, “I share this moment of joy with my director Dr. Chandraprakash Dwivedi, my producer Aditya Chopra, my co-star Manushi Chhillar, who is debuting in the film, and the brilliant Sanjay Dutt and Sonu Sood and all the actors and technicians who have believed in the mission to make Prithviraj an important film for this generation.”

Prithviraj has been directed by Dr. Chandraprakash Dwivedi, who is best known for directing the television epic Chanakya and the critically acclaimed film Pinjar. The ethereally gorgeous Manushi Chhillar plays the role of King Prithviraj’s beloved Sanyogita and her launch is definitely one of the most awaited debuts of 2022. The film is set to release on June 3 in Hindi, Tamil and Telugu.

Mira Nair’s MISSISSIPPI MASALA At Kick Off 8th Annual DFW SAFF

The 8th annual DFW South Asian Film Festival, presented by Toyota USA, will KICK OFF its festival week with a SPECIAL SCREENING of the restored 4K version of Mira Nair‘s ground-breaking film MISSISSIPPI MASALA, celebrating its 30th anniversary this year!

Synopsis: The vibrant cultures of India, Uganda, and the American South are blended and simmered into a rich and fragrant fusion feast in Mira Nair’s luminous look at the complexities of love in the modern melting pot. Years after her Indian family was forced to flee their home in Uganda by the dictatorship of Idi Amin, twenty something Mina (Sarita Choudhury) finds herself helping to run a motel in the faraway land of Mississippi. It’s there that a passionate romance with the charming Black carpet cleaner Demetrius (Denzel Washington) challenges the prejudices of their conservative families and exposes the rifts between the region’s Indian and African American communities. Tackling thorny issues of racism, colorism, culture clash, and displacement with big-hearted humor and keen insight, Nair serves up a sweet, sexy, and radical celebration of love’s power to break down the barriers between us. Watch trailer HERE.

*The screening will take place on Monday, May 16th at 7:30 p.m. at the Alamo Drafthouse Dallas / Fort Worth (6770 Abrams Road, Dallas, TX 75231).

To purchase tickets for this stand alone screening, please go HERE. Join us afterwards for a drink and a nibble at the bar, so that we can share highlights about the upcoming #dfwsaff2022. Our entire schedule and festival lineup (May 20 to 22 at Grandscape in The Colony) is available HERE.

Netflix Collaborates With India To Honor Real-Life Heroes

Streaming giant Netflix and The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting have joined hands to honour unique real-life stories of extraordinary individuals through a series of inspiring short videos titled Azadi Ki Amrit Kahaniyan. This was launched today in the presence of Shri Anurag Thakur, Minister of Information and Broadcasting, Govt. of India.

‘Azadi ki Amrit Kahaniya’ narrated by Neena Gupta, will chronicle the incredible journeys of those individuals who cracked the glass barrier in their respective industries, ranging from science to sports.

In conjunction with OTT giant Netflix, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (I & B) released ‘Azadi Ki Amrit Kahaniyan,’ a short video series to honor real-life stories of those individuals who cracked the glass barrier in their respective fields, ranging from science to sports. It was disclosed at the event that Neena Gupta would be narrating these stories. The freshly announced series is a part of Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav, which commemorates India’s 75th anniversary of independence.

Bela Bajaria, Global Head of TV, Netflix, who was also present at the event, said, “Great stories can come from anywhere and are ever so inspiring when they are about people who rise against the odds. In partnership with The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Azadi Ki Amrit Kahaniyan focuses on celebrating remarkable individuals and their stories that can inspire people in India and around the world.”

Narrated by acclaimed actress Neena Gupta, these short videos capture the remarkable journey of these individuals and how they broke the glass ceiling in their respective fields, ranging from science to sports. Here is what these achievers had to say about what Azadi (freedom) means to them personally.

“If something hasn’t been attempted, it doesn’t mean you cannot do it. To me, Azadi means facing a raging fire.” — Harshini Kanheker, India’s first female firefighter.

“From water comes life, and water is life. I flow free like a river and will continue to protect and serve water, that’s Azadi to me.” — Basanti Devi, Environmentalist and protector of the Kosi river ecosystem.

“If women hold the power to create life, women also hold the power to save lives. If I have to put my life at stake to save other lives, I wouldn’t think twice.”  — Poonam Nautiyal walked miles across the Bageshwar district in Uttarakhand to vaccinate thousands of people living in remote areas.

“Being a scientist, every moment is a learning curve. We need to face challenges, and we need to learn. I always say that science has no gender, and Azadi is when we take our nation to new horizons.” — Tessy Thomas, the “Missile Woman of India”, is the first-ever woman scientist to head a missile project in India.

“I am a force of nature, I can scale great heights, and my journey has just begun. Azadi means to make your way up in the world.” — Anshu Jamsenpa, the first woman in the world to summit Mount Everest twice in 5 days.

“When you dream something out of the box, it’s very important to push the norms. Azadi is to be one with the wind.” — Aarohi Pandit, the world’s youngest person and first woman pilot to cross the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean solo in a light-sport aircraft.

“You have the right to dream, and the right to achieve your dream. Just like the waves, be patient, be consistent, and never look back. To me, Azadi is to take a bit of the ocean wherever I go.”— Tanvi Jagadish, India’s first competitive woman stand-up paddleboarder. The videos are now available on the Ministry’s social media platforms and Doordarshan.

Shah Rukh Khan Honored With Happiness Card From UAE Govt

Bollywood superstar and the celebrity face of Dubai tourism Shah Rukh Khan was honoured with a happiness card by the General Directorate of Residency and Foreign Affairs on April 13.

A picture of the ‘Pathaan’ star holding his newly-gained happiness card was posted on the authorities’ Twitter account. The card aims to give Khan a slew of discounts, privileges, and access to promotions during his stay in the UAE.

The Happiness cardholder will be benefited with various discounts and offers in Dubai.

The General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs Dubai (GDRFA) presented Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan with a Happiness Card.

“GDRFA Dubai welcomes Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan and grants him the Happiness Card with the aim of achieving happiness for them through various benefits, discounts, and offers,” the Directorate tweeted.

Khan is no stranger to Dubai and has spearheaded several tourism videos to lure his fans all over the globe to Dubai. In March, Khan along with Dubai Tourism rolled out a promotional short film showcasing the emirate as a must-visit city.

The three-minutes, four-second video opens with Khan busy filming in Dubai when he gets interrupted by a call from his doting daughter Suhana who nudges him to have some fun in the emirate. She urges him to step out of his work mode and explore the glitzy city and what it has to offer.

The next few scenes shows the iconic actor soaking in the sights across Dubai, taking selfies with his adoring fans in the city. He is also seen dancing on Sheikh Zayed Road, overlooking Dubai’s new Museum of the Future. Wide shots of Atlantis The Palm, where he filmed ‘Happy New Year’ are also seen in the short film.

“Everything Must Change But Love Remains The Same;” Ilaiyaraaja

One of India’s greatest music directors Ilaiyaraaja has said that everything in the world must change but the one thing that would remain the same was love.

He made this observation in a reply to director Aishwaryaa Rajinikanth, who had put out a series of pictures on social media about a recent meeting she had had with him.

Aishwaraya had said, “My Monday mid noon couldn’t have been more musical and magical. Always a delight to spend time with my dearest Ilaiyaraaja uncle. #mondayvibes #workmodeon.”

Responding to her tweet on Tuesday, Ilaiyaraaja said, “Am happy to meet and spend time. Many things may happen in one’s life but one thing will never change – my true love. God bless you. Be happy always. Everything must change. But one thing will remain the same, that’s love.”

The music director also went on to post a YouTube link to Quincy Jones’s number ‘Everything must change.”

Speculation has been rife in the film industry if Ilaiyaraaja is scoring the music for Aishwaryaa Rajinikanth’s next film as the filmmaker, in her tweet, had hashtagged the phrase, ‘work mode on’. (IANS)

Sooni Taraporevala Urges Re-Releasing Of “Mississippi Masala” In US

The screen-writer of Mississippi Masala talks about what makes the Mira Nair directorial relevant to the current generation of the Indian diaspora in the US even today

31 years after it first premiered in France, filmmaker Mira Nair’s Mississippi Masala is all set to re-release in a remixed and remastered format in the USA on April 15. The film starring Denzel Washington and Sarita Choudhury revolves around Indians being subjected to racism and xenophobia in Uganda.

Its screenplay writer Sooni Taraporevala believes that the film will have a strong impact on the new generation of the Indian diaspora in the USA this time around as well. “When the film first came out, I was in India and there were so many comments like, ‘We aren’t like that, we aren’t racists’ but it’s just not true. We like pointing fingers at others and call them racist, but deny it when it comes to us. It’s going to be very relevant for the next generation because sadly, not much has changed,” she says. Sharing her excitement about the re-release of the film,

Taraporevala, who bagged the Golden Osella Best Original Screenplay for it at the Venice international Film Festival in 1991, says, “In a climate where new films aren’t getting released theatrically, we find it absolutely amazing and thrilling that a film that’s 30-year-old is being re-released.”

The Salaam Bombay! (1988) and The Namesake (2006) writer feels that it’s imperative to introduce the younger NRI audience to cult classics that offer them a glimpse into their culture. She explains, “It’s always important to expose them to what came before, provided it’s relevant, especially in today’s times where attention spans are zero. Nobody reads and so, there’s no concept of history today.”

Taraporevala further reveals that Mississippi Masala holds a special place in Nair’s heart due to personal reasons. “Mira met her husband, Mahmood Mamdani, when we went to Kampala to do our research. The house in the film is now her house. Her son was born there,” she ends.

This Is The Time To Unite: AR Rahman On North-South Debate

Pointing out that it was very easy to divide people through art, Oscar-winner and one of India’s top music directors A.R. Rahman said that this was the time to unite and to celebrate differences.

Speaking at the CII-DAKSHIN South India Media and Entertainment Summit, where he was honoured with the Icon award, Rahman recalled an incident that had occurred in Malaysia seven years ago.

“I had gone to Malaysia some seven years ago. There, a nice Chinese gentleman told me, ‘You are from India?’ I like India. I like North India better. They are more fair. He said, “Their movies are much more charming.”

The music director said that the gentleman’s comments got him thinking and it made him wonder if the man had actually watched south Indian movies and why he made such a statement.

“It deeply disturbed me. Then, I discovered that what we need to do is we need to cast people with colour. Make them empowering and give them characters which will give them dignity. This is the most important thing that south Indians can do because we love our colour,” he said.

Rahman also went on to make it clear that be it south India or north India, India was India.

“For me, it doesn’t matter. Somebody does good here, north India benefits. Somebody does good there, we benefit. the borders are broken. If you look at Netflix, people watch Malayalam movies, Tamil movies everything… The borders are broken but we need to empower ourselves definitely. And through art, it is much more easier,” he said.

Rahman said, “Imagination should not be just for South Indians. Just for our culture. You need to show the world what minds we are and what culture we have in the most international way,” the music director pointed out before concluding his speech with a point on unity.

“It is very easy to divide people through art, through movies. This is the time to unite. This is the time to celebrate differences. This is the time to show the unity so that we can be more powerful and we can lead the world,” he said. (IANS)

Mannara Chopra, Bollywood Actor Leads Holi Celebrations By Aarush Entertainment

Festival of colors organized by Manoj Rathod (CEO of Aarush Entertainment) and UR Group was one of the biggest Holi and Indian cultural events which took place on Saturday, March 19, 2022 at Candela, 8526 W Golf Rd, Niles, IL 60714. This event touched the hearts as well as the dreams of Indian immigrants and natives simultaneously. The event was house full, enjoyed the vibrant colors, dazzling music, enthralling dances and award to Women Empowerment Icon

The special guest was Mannara Chopra (Actress plus model from Bollywood and Sunil Shah Chairman, Founders of FIA. Prachi Jaitly & Bharti Desai were Master of ceremony of this event. Women Empowerment Icon awardees were Prachi Jaitly, Bharti Desai, Rita Shah, Uma Avadhuta, Usha Bhaskar, Sweety Raheja, Sonya Gupta, Rebecca Bodony and Vibha Rajput.

The main highlight of the event came when participants picked up colored powder and chased each other, tossing colors into the air and covering friends and strangers alike. They joy and excitement filled the air and created a memorable experience for all.

“Today we are here to celebrate the Holi festival. The festival of colors, fun, happiness, friendship and love. May the colors spread the wings of joy, peace and laughter upon you and your family. We wish you Happy Holi” said by Manoj Rathod (CEO of Aarush Entertainment).

Mannara Chopra was born in Ambala CantonmentHaryana. Her name Mannara, is Greek for “something that shines’ ‘. Mannara’s mother is a Jewelry designer, and her father is a lawyer. Mannara was educated at Summer Fields School, New Delhi, and pursued a BBA degree and is a fashion designer after completing her education in Delhi, Mannara moved to Mumbai, where she started her career in modelling and moved into advertising. She is currently shooting with Director Teja for his forthcoming film alongside Kajal Aggarwal. She has played lead roles in Telugu cinema in Thikka, Rogue, Jakkanna.

The Aarush Entertainment company offers event planning & management services that also includes wedding designing, planning, management & consultancy, adopting a comprehensive approach & professional management information system to plan and produce a world class event experience each & every time all over the world. The highly skilled team of professionals at Aarush Entertainment strives hard to accomplish the highest standard of quality, effectiveness & novelty with due importance to the budgetary considerations.

Indie Meme Film Festival Returns To Austin With A Lineup Boasting Diversity And Inclusiveness

Austin’s Premier South Asian Film Festival hosts its first in-person festival since the start of the pandemic, with films showcased in a hybrid format.

The Indie Meme Film Festival, Austin’s leading cinema event curating South Asian independent cinema, returns to movie theaters for the first time in two years. The festival, which was presented virtually in 2020 and 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, comes back in a hybrid format.

The festival will showcase nearly three dozen films from South Asian filmmakers, covering a variety of poignant topics. Each film tells a unique and diverse story of South Asian lives: a child’s struggle in remote India, an Iranian family seeking asylum in Europe, domestic abuse, alcoholism, mental health, patriarchy and colonialism.

Many of the films in this year’s festival focus on issues important to women, including sexuality, education and the family unit. Through it all, this year’s lineup is a testament to the importance of accepting people for who they are, and each story is told so that audiences of all backgrounds can relate.

In-person screenings will take place April 14-17 at Austin Film Society. Those wishing to watch the festival virtually will be able to stream films online April 22-24.

RK/RKAY is IMFF 2022’s centerpiece feature. The film tells the story of a filmmaker struggling to complete his latest creative endeavor. It stars veteran Indian actor-director Rajat Kapoor, who gained international acclaim as an abusive uncle in Mira Nair’s Monsoon Wedding. Kapoor will attend IMFF 2022 from India and participate in a Q&A after the film screening.

Other feature films at IMFF 2022 include Barah x Barah Rehana, Bangla, Hit The Road, A Night of Knowing Nothing, Midwives, Last Film Show, I Am Belmaya, Any Day Now, Moshari, Lunana, Receiver and Biriyaani.

The Bengali action thriller Rehana makes its U.S. premiere at IMFF 2022. Abdullah Mohammed Saad directs this film about a medical college professor whose life descends into chaos after she witnesses an incident involving one of her students.

Cinematographer Sunny Lahiri will headline a Q&A session after the screening of Barah x Barah, which chronicles the life of a photographer who captures images of the dead in Varanasi, one of India’s oldest cities.

The festival’s diverse Shorts Program features 16 films: Bambirak, Blind Date, Baahar, Mono No Aware, Sheer Qorma, Miniaturist of Junagadh, My Mother’s Girlfriend, Kanya, U For Usha, Testimony of Ana, Not Today, Wade, Chai, An Early Spring, A Coup, An Early Spring, Turning Point and Cycle.

Bahaar, a 14-minute short directed by Prakshi Malik, is a local project out of The University of Texas at Austin that was awarded grant from Austin Film Society. The film tells the story of a student dealing with disaster after being accepted into the boarding school of her dreams.

Making its North American premiere is A Coup, an 8-minute short from Pakistan. Areeba Naveed’s film narrates the story of a young girl who comes out, and a psychiatrist’s attempt to intervene.

Also coming to IMFF 2022 is the German-Afghan production Bambirak, winner of the Best International Fiction Award at 2021’s Sundance Film Festival. Bambirak is the story of a single dad and his daughter trying to establish their life in a new country. Tickets are $65 for Indie Meme members and $85 for non-members. The price is the same for in-person or virtual screenings. Sponsors for this year’s event include H-E-B, Waterloo Greenway, The Austin Chronicle and Austin Film Society.

Indie Meme was founded in 2013 and is Austin’s dedicated cinematic organization for South Asian films. The festival, which returns this year for its seventh annual event, was co-founded by two South Asian women, Alka Bhanot and Tripti Bhatnagar. The organization, in addition to hosting an annual film festival, puts on screenings in Austin and Dallas throughout the year. The complete lineup of films can be found at: https://www.indiememe.org/imff-2022.

The Kashmir Files – A Movie On Exodus Of Kashmir Pandits

Kashmir silk is more popularly known worldwide, than the name of Kashmiri Pandits so far. But the new sensitive movie “ The Kashmir Files”  exposes some of the historic events and the flight of Kashmir Pandits, to the present generation.

The Exodus of Kashmiri Hindus, (also known as “Kashmiri Pandits), is the migration, or the flight on a  large-scale, that caused their displacement from the Kashmir Valley in 1990, makes the story of Kashmir Files, worth seeing.

Even before its release, ‘The Kashmir Files’ was becoming a hit with tremendous pre-release hype. Directed by Vivek Agnihotri, the film tells the story of the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits from the Valley. The film, released in theaters few days ago, is getting a good response from the audience.

Many of us would have watched some of the old movies on Hindu-Muslim Riots, with themes of Babri Masjid to Bombay Bombing like, Delhi-6 (2009), Bombay (1995)! Firaaq (2008)! Gadar: Ek Prem Katha (2001)! Mr. and Mrs. Iyer (2002). Surprisingly these commercial movies are aimed at both communities, and most of them turned blockbusters, taking advantage of the rivalry in their minds.

According to the Census from 1889 to 1941, Kashmiri Pandits, or Kashmiri Hindus, constituted between 4% and 6% of the population of the Kashmir valley. The rest of the population was Kashmiri Muslim. History says that by early 1990, the vast majority of Kashmiri Hindus fled the valley. “According to an estimate, approximately 100,000 of an estimated Kashmiri Pandit population of 140,000 left in the span of a few weeks in February–March 1990 alone”. Hindu-Muslim polarization in India over the years, in turn fueling the Hindu-Muslim chasm in the Valley. The issue of the Kashmiri Pandits return are an important side of the Kashmir File story.

Many reports show that, 1724 people have been killed by militants in Kashmir in the last three decades, more than 1,600 Muslims. According to Kapoor, Kashmiri Pandits make up about 5% of those killed by militants in Kashmir. The remaining 95 percent are from the Muslim community. The Pandits began leaving the valley on January 19, 1990. According to Human Rights Watch, more than 100,000 Pandits left the valley “with the encouragement and assistance of the government.”

With the Pandits evacuating, the government pressured the Pandits to leave the area, hoping for more comprehensive retaliation against Muslims. However, after the departure, various right-wing Hindu groups used Kashmiri Pandits as ‘victims’.

Accompanied by captured campaigns, the film reached the limelight. The film ‘highlights’ the plight of Kashmiri Pandits who suffered during the riots of the 90s. Many scenes of  people chanting ‘Jai Shree Ram’ and other Hindu slogans outside cinema halls have already been widely circulated on social media. Meanwhile, the Kashmiri Pandit issue is being used by the Sangh Parivar as a tool to implement their oligarchy.

Shortly after its release, the film began making headlines. Many have described it as a true representation of the conflict in the Valley. The film depicts the plight of the Pandits in silver screen and seeks to demonize the Kashmiri Muslims. Following the release, the film has been widely used by the media and Sangh Parivar social media handles to spread anti-Muslim sentiment. While the film claims that 650 Kashmiri Pandits were killed after the riots of the 1990s.The Valley is keeping a criminal silence on the more than 1.5 million Kashmiri people who have been murdered over the decades

Director Vivek Agnihotri’s  courageous film is based on the experiences of individuals who were directly affected by the Kashmir riots. The length of the film is two hours and 50 minutes. The film is based on actual events and stars Mithun Chakraborty, Anupam Kher, Darshan Kumar, Pallavi Joshi, Chinmayi Mandlekar, Puneet Issar, Prakash Belavadi, Atul Srivastava and Mrinal Kulkarni in the lead roles.

The film begins in 1990, when the riots in Kashmir escalated. After explaining the severity of the situation, the story goes to the present. The film begins with children playing cricket and ends in a tomb. There are also reactions that the hours in between made the film tense in the audience’s minds.

No doubt, the characters in the film, including Anupam Kher, were excellent, and it will be an excellent contribution to Indian cinema. Before its release, the film received rave reviews from both audiences as it represents bitter truth that shakes the viewers inside out. Unfortunately, that is why the film is getting negative reviews. The neutrals believe that a film based on such sensitive issues will further widen the divide in the Valley and India in general, hope it does not happen as such – “that makes the viewers numb and silent even in the  corridors of the theaters while exiting”.

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