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Ranbir's 'Animal' Shikar Bags The Big Game

Ranbir Kapoor’s Animal has hit the box office like a tsunami with the film crossing the Rs 100-crore mark in Day 2 in India and over Rs 200 crore worldwide. Movie critic Taran Adarsh took to X to say it’s a “box office monster”. And this is Ranbir’s biggest hit at the box office ever since he entered Bollywood in 2007 with Saawariya. This Sandeep Vanga Reddy film did face criticism on the portrayal of women — almost objectification of the heroine and a pronounced male alpha. But that has been the way Vanga Reddy has told his stories. Trade circle say this factor has worked in favour of director Vanga Reddy and actor Ranbir. Forty-one year old Ranbir, who has acted in over 21 films in the last 16 years, has taken pains to pick up scripts which are different for every movie as he did not want to be typecast. His life goal is to be recognised as an actor and is confident with that stardom will follow. Historically, Kapoor’s films have not been very extraordinary at the box office; his last film Tu Jhoothi Main Makkar was a semi hit and the only blockbuster was biopic Sanju. But Animal is leagues ahead. Animal is one film that has broken all the norms of a hero in Hindi cinema
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Do Good Looks Matter In Bollywood?

Historically, audiences went to the theatres to see stars for their looks. Rewind to 60s, 70s, 80s and you will see all Bollywood actors were handsome, good looking, macho. Dharmendra, Rajesh Khanna, Shashi Kapoor, Vinod Khanna to name a few. In the case of actresses it was their ravishing beauty, the dream girl of every man. Sadhana, Saira Banu, Hema Malini, Rekha, Madhuri Dixit and Dimple Kapadia. Chocolate heroes and dream girls were synonymous with Bollywood. It was only in the art cinema that looks were secondary – Amol Palekar, Shabana Azmi, Naseeruddin Shah. The advent of hinterland cinema brought the ordinary looking boy and girl center stage. Says a Bollywood’s senior casting director, “Those days of having a conventionally good looking actor are gone. If you see most of the actors today who are doing well especially on the OTT are far from being that.” Today the audience is more open to looking at realistic characters whom they can connect, relate and identify with. Today being a good actor is far more important than good looks. “Acting and talents are the first two criteria of casting today, if the actor is good looking then it’s an added advantage,” says the casting director. Hrithik Roshan called the Greek God did not mind to wear brown make up for Super 30. If you look at OTT stars — Manoj Bajpayee, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Jitendra Kumar, Pankaj Mishra –then it is clear today acting matters not looks. Powered by: IDFC First Bank

Has Bollywood Become A Soft Target For Politicians?

Every controversy that breaks always has a celebrity quotient to it. The drug cases came into the limelight because of Sushant Singh Rajput and Aryan Khan; the Narcotic Control Bureau (NCB) made an example of them. From Deepika Padukone to Shradda Kapoor, Rakul Preet Singh, Rhea Chakraborty, Sara Ali Khan were under NCB scanner. Some like comedian Bharati Singh and her husband were arrested. Besides, many actors and actresses were issued summons by the Enforcement Directorate. Says an insider, time and again Bollywood has been targeted and some of them have been called anti-national. Looks like we are an easy target for police and politicians. Take the case of conman Sukesh Chandrashekhar, the case was hyped because names of Jacqueline Fernandez and Nora Fatehi were linked to him. Now the latest case is that of the Mahadev App which again is more about the celebrities who danced at the wedding of the promoter Saurabh Chandrakar and endorsement of the app. Ranbir Kapoor has been summoned by ED for endorsing the app. So too many actresses and singers are being investigated by the ED for accepting cash for attending the event. Sources say, it was a pure professional and commercial deal. Mumbai police have registered FIR against 32 people including promoters for ‘fraud’ of Rs 15,000 crore. Be it the drug case or now Mahadev App scam the end result is that most of the allegations on the celebrities haven’t really yielded any results.

Is Kangana Ranaut At An Inflexion Point In Her Life?

Is reel life influencing 36-year old Kangana Ranaut’s real life? At least that’s what seems on the face of it. A politically savvy and well informed actor, she has been consciously choosing characters that are political heroes or villains. And she has been vocal about it that she is interested in politics and that too Modi kind. Kangana has played the role of modern leaders like Indira Gandhi and J Jayalalithaa. Besides, she has also donned the role of legendary and religious characters in movies like Manikarnika 2, Sita: The Incarnation. In all these films she worked hard to make sure that the film got noticed by the audience. In the case of Thalaivii she chose to focus on how Jayalalithaa was shamed by her male counterpart in the Tamil Nadu assembly. Is she thinking of plunging into politics full time? Her various interviews clearly convey that she is keen on representing Himachal Pradesh but will BJP oblige? She arrived at the new Parliament building to attend the session as a woman invitee. In the film trade people say most of her movies do okay business and so producers are a little shy of signing her. Also, her cinema is becoming more about showcasing herself and her political leanings. For instance, there was no need for her to show Ayodhya being targeted by the terrorist in her latest film Tejas which incidentally did not do well at the box office. Is Kangana Ranaut like many south Indian stars using the movie platform to pursue her political dream? 

Star Marriages Are No Longer Behind The Screen

Bollywood’s two popular stars Aditya Roy Kapur and Ananya Pandya have gone public about their romance. Will it end in marriage? Early days. Interestingly, Bollywood has had quite a few marriages in 2023 — Parineeti Chopra tying knots in Rajasthan with AAP leader Raghav Chadda being the biggest of them all. Then came her co-star Sidharth Malhotra and Kiara Advani’s marriage again in Rajasthan. Parineeti married Raghav, her colleague from the London School of Economics. She was earlier dating director Maneesh Sharma. Swara Bhasker, known for making controversial statements, married Samajwadi Party leader Fahad Ahmad. Now in motherhood, she was going steady with script writer Himanshu Sharma who dumped her for Kanika Dhillon. Unlike the earlier days when actors hid relationships, age as they were worried about their stardom getting affected today’s stars are quite open about it; walk hand-in-hand and pose for the paps. Recall Ranbir Kapoor had taken offense about paps following him and Katrina Kaif and the same man didn’t mind posing with Alia before marriage. Katrina was one oddball who didn’t let the paps get her and Vicky Kaushal together till the marriage was announced. In the end it shows those selling dreams to their fans actually want to lead a normal family life — have children, run their house, and don’t mind sacrificing their career. Neetu Singh did it. So did Madhuri Dixit, Meenakshi Seshadri. But, the younger lots like Karishma, Aliya, Anushka and Kiara are quite smart in managing both the worlds.
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Flashback: Salman Khan and Arijit Singh

Sniping in Bollywood: Plain Chemistry Or Professional Rivalry?

Undercurrent, chemistry or professional rivalry has existed in Bollywood from Day One. Is it ego or plain jealousy? Take the case of Salman Khan and singer Arijit Singh who have patched up nearly after 5-6 years and have sung songs for Tiger 3. The rivalry started rather innocuously when Arijit stepped onto the stage to receive an award, and Salman mockingly asked looking at his attire, “So gaye the (were you sleeping)?” To this the singer responded, “Aap logon ne sula diya (you all put me to sleep).” This answer seems to have angered Salman and he immediately removed Arijit’s song from his films, Sultan and Bajrangi Bhaijaan. It did affect his career. Bollywood has a history of star rivalry. For instance Khans are not comfortable working with each other. Similarly, Sunny Deol was angry with Shah Rukh for snipping his role in Darr. Recently, at the success party of Gadar 2 both patched up. Raaj Kumar and Dilip Kumar acted in Paigham and fell apart till Subhash Ghai brought them together in Saudagar. Similarly, Raj Kapoor, Dilip Kumar and Dev Anand avoided working with each other. It is quite well known that Rajesh Khanna and Amitabh Bachchan who worked together in Anand fell out after success of Namak Haram. Likewise Big B and Shatrughan Sinha did not get along well as the latter had a habit of making sarcastic comments. Well, it is not restricted to male stars. There has been a strong undercurrent between Kareena Kapoor and Priyanka Chopra, Rani Mukerji and Aishwaraya Rai, Katrina Kaif and Deepika Padukone.

How Big Stars Are Launching Their Kids

It’s a regular affair in Bollywood. Big stars launching their kids with fanfare. In the last decade we saw Alia Bhatt, Tiger Shroff, Jahnvi Kapoor and Ananya Pandey being launched. This tradition continues with slight change. For instance everybody was expecting Shah Rukh Khan to launch his daughter Suhana Khan via his home production Red Chillies. Instead she along with Agastya Nanda and Khushi Kapoor are making their debut in a Netflix project produced by Zoya Akhtar. Hrithik Roshan’s cousin Pashmina is being launched by Ramesh Taurani in a love story. Hrithik was launched by his dad’s home production company Filmkraft. Likewise Salman Khan’s niece Alizeh Agnihotri is being launched in a very unconventional film directed by Somendra Padhi. But, some stars prefer the traditional route. Sunny Deol and Poonam Dhillon are launching their son and daughter through Rajshri Production run by Barjatyas. Interestingly, Rajveer Deol and Paloma will be directed by Sooraj Barjatya’s son Avnish. Industry insiders say that ever since the untimely death of Sushant Singh Rajput Bollywood has been stung by Insider Vs Outsider debate. With a view not to become an easy prey for the media, the new generation star kids prefer their skills to speak for them. Suhana Khan has already started making impressions with public and press appearances. Amitabh Bachchan’s grandson Agastya Nanda is  already being talked about as he has replaced Varun Dhawan in Sriram Raghavan’s Ekkis.
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Ranbir Kapoor Defies Trend, Shuns Stereotyping Roles

After romancing Shraddha Kapoor in Tu Jhoothi Main Makkar, 41-year old Ranbir Kapoor returns with a crime drama Animal directed by Sandeep Vanga Reddy and the teaser has been highly appreciated by the audience. Even the trade is upbeat about the film and surely sees Ranbir in the top bracket with the release of Animal. Forty-one year old Ranbir, whose family has been part of Bollywood for four generations now, is a natural actor who made his debut in 2007. Acting is in his genes and he has done all kinds of roles. Perceived as a critically acclaimed popular hero of Bollywood, Ranbir has never followed a set trend of playing safe with the choice of subject and this approach saw him work with directors like Anurag Kashyap, Anurag Basu and Imitiaz Alia. Even his last romantic film was not a regular love story. Ranbir Kapoor seems to be on a journey to being an actor and exploring various facets of himself as an actor. Married to Alia Bhatt, the reigning queen of Bollywood, Ranbir babysits when Alia is on shoot. Both have worked together in Brahmastra which was well appreciated but the latest news is that both have opted out of Ramayan. But that does not stop them from shooting together for a steel brand along with King Khan.
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Punjab Film Industry Rejigs Its Strategy, Emulates South Indian Cinema Model

Impressed by the success of south films pan India, the Punjab film industry is thinking of emulating it and releasing all Punjabi films pan India. What has given them confidence to go mainstream is the super success of Carry On Jatta 3 which has grossed Rs 150-crore plus at the box office. Actor-producer Gippy Grewal is planning to release his next film Maujan Hi Maujan in over 150 screens in Mumbai circuit. Like the South industry which roped in north Indian producers and actors like Karan Johar and Alia Bhatt for Bahubali and RRR to gain entry into the Hindi belt, the Punjabis are planning to enlist the support of the Khans to draw the attention of the Hindi movie goers. Salman Khan was at the trailer launch of Maujan Hi Maujan has promised to work in Punjabi films. This cross pollination of stars across the country will give a big boost to the country’s film industry. Aamir Khan was seen at the trailer launch of Carry on Jatta 3. Of course Punjabi comedian Gurpreet Ghuggi had his film Mastney released in Mumbai and the reason was that the subject had a pan India appeal; they wanted the country to know about Punjab’s martyr’s story. Given these new dynamics, it will not be surprising to see SRK come out and support the next Punjabi film. Ironically, Punjabis who dominate Bollywood have not supported movies made in their own mother tongue.

Why King Khan Will Continue To Rule The Roost

Shah Rukh Khan’s Jawan is creating records at the box office. The audience has connected with the film as it has raised all the relevant points that the Opposition parties have been asking the Modi government. A WhatsApp message has gone viral saying how the movie is a campaign for the Congress party. Jawan was released at a time when the whole world was busy with the G20 Summit. To avoid any backlash like Pathaan, SRK played it smart by congratulating PM Modi for the success of G20 Summit. Those in the trade feel it is too late for politicians to do anything now as Jawan has turned out to be a tsunami at the box office. The Badshah of Bollywood has made a big comeback and is not going anywhere for the next 10 years. The kind of subject he has chosen gives him ample scope like Rajnikanth who continues to rule the roost at 72. On a personal level, SRK is a hurt man after what happened to his son Aryan Khan in the drug case and the way the media hounded him. Post that he has kept the media at arm’s length. Of late, he prefers to connect with his audience through appearances at Mannat and social media. In the case of Jawan his move to get an accomplished South director, Atlee has enabled him to create an impact in the South.


Is Superstar Hrithik Roshan Deliberately Keeping A Low Profile?

While the Khans are seen all over the media we have Hrithik Roshan, one of the last actors to get superstar tag, shooting quietly for his next film Fighter. The 49-year old actor who has worked with Siddharth Anand in War wants to work with him even more especially after Fighter. In the pipeline is Krish 4 but nothing has been finalised. Hrithik, one of the highest paid stars, is an insider both from paternal and maternal sides but he started from the bottom to eventually become a superstar. He formally entered Bollywood in 2000 with Kaho Naa Pyaar Hai. Post that he has had one too many hits like Fiza, Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham, Koi Mil Gaya, Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara sequels Krrish, Dhoom. Hrithik who has had his own share of controversies both personal and professional is known to be shy; he avoids parties preferring to spend more time with his children and girlfriend Saba Azad. Besides, he is also deeply involved with his father Rakesh Roshan’s banner. Maybe he is toying with the idea of becoming a director. Trade circle says that Hrithik is definitely one of the most dependable stars who has carved his own place by not being part of any camps. He is also quietly growing his HRX brand by opening gyms and eateries serving healthy food.
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Has Bollywood Got Its Mojo Back?

Bollywood seems to have got its mojo back. After a series of flops, sequels seem to have given Bollywood a new lease of life. Sunny Deol’s Gadar 2 is a runaway hit, earning close to Rs 450 crore thus surpassing KGF 2 collection’s record. Interestingly, Sunny Deol travelled around promoting Tara Singh, the character and not himself… and that worked.  In the case of Akshay Kumar, now an Indian citizen, he has finally got a hit after a string of flops. OMG 2 has earned Rs 120 crore till date and counting. And for Ayushmaan Khurrana Dream Girl 2 got the biggest opening of his career. All these three hits indicate its boom time for Bollywood. Audience is back to theatres. And what is also giving the leg up to the whole industry is the OTT platform. Some of the characters like Vartika played by Shefali Shah in Delhi Crime, Kaalen Bhaiya by Pankaj Tripathi in Mirzapur have made them a household name. No wonder they are thriving on Season 2, 3…Earlier, Bollywood which thrived on remakes of Malayalam, Telugu and Tamil movies is now encashing on sequels. Some of the successful sequels were: Munnabhai by Raju Hirani, Krrish by Rakesh Roshan, Singham, Phir Hera Pheri by Firoz Nadiadwala. Get ready to see Salman Khan’s Tiger 3 this Diwali and also in the pipeline is the confrontation between two Khans in Tiger Vs Pathaan. Happy days are here again!
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Garam Dharam's Family Stars Shine On

There is no stopping this 66-year old Deol who has in a way created history at the box office for Bollywood. Sunny Deol is not stopping the promotion, and is city hopping post release of Gadar 2 which is only adding to the collection numbers. Gadar 2 has crossed the Rs 200-crore mark and is not stopping at that. Trade pundits are betting that it may surpass SRK’s Pathaan collections. Interestingly, the weekend in the metro cities also saw his father’s film Rocky aur Rani ki Prem Kahaani getting Housefull boards in the multiplexes. The legendary actor Dharmendra received maximum applause when he came on screen. The 87-year old actor has signed a couple of more films. Younger brother Bobby Deol, who could not carve a niche for himself on the big screen, is one of the most sought after OTT stars. Gadar 2 also saw the public appearance of Hema Malini daughters – Esha and Ahana — with the Deol brothers. The sisters and mother were not seen at the marriage of Sunny’s son Karan and an apologetic tweet by Dharmendra just confirmed it. Esha also is an OTT star. And the third generation of Deols are already here; Sunny’s eldest son Karan is two films old while younger one Rajveer is making his debut with Rajshri Productions.
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Karan Johar’s Movie Changes Bollywood’s Fortune In The Second Half Of 2023

Karan Johar’s Rocky Aur Rani Ki Prem Kahaani seems to be the game changer for Bollywood which has been a series of flops in the first half of 2023.  The film has crossed the Rs 100-crore mark at the box office and continues to rake in the moolahs. More good news. Akshay Kumar’s OMG 2 and Sunny Deol’s Gadar 2 are only looking at adding big business to the Bollywood’s box office. The trade pundits feel that good times are ahead for Hindi films and the month of August has franchisees that definitely promise a decent opening at the box office. The trade has also given thumbs up Dream Girl 2.If August has franchisees then SRK returns with Atlee’s Jawan in September which trade feels may have a bigger opening than his previous film Pathaan. And Salman Khan who has not had a great run in the recent past is strongly depending on Tiger 3 which has a strong recall value and will see Katrina and Salman Khan come together and mind you there is Pathaan in a special appearance which is going to be the highlight of the film. Ranbir Kapoor too returns with Animal, one of the most anticipated films of Sandeep Vanga Reddy followed by Vicky Kaushal’s Sam Bahadur. The month of December is expected to end on a high note with Merry Christmas that will see Katrina Kaif in a different role with Vijay Sethupathi.
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Is Varun Dhawan Trying To Reinvent Himself?

Varun Dhawan and Janhvi Kapoor starrer Bawaal directed by Nitesh Tiwari of Dangal fame is a direct OTT release. The trade feels that producer Sajid Nadiadwala took a wise decision on this front as its trailer is unimpressive. But, Nadiadwala has defended his decision by saying that the film needs global reach and OTT is the best platform in today’s time. But nobody is buying it. Thirty-six year old Varun, son of the well-known director David Dhawan and one of the highest paid Bollywood stars (Rs 20 crore), has not had a big hit for quite some time now. His last two releases Jugjugg Jeeyo was an average film while Bhediya a disaster. Ironically, the star who had 11 consecutive box-office successes between 2012 and 2018 (Rajesh Khanna had seven) is finding it difficult to draw audiences to his movies of late. Clearly, Varun seems to be having a bad run. And he is trying to make up for it. He has signed up for Bhediya 2 and the Indian version of Citadel. Besides, he is also donning the producer’s hat and for that project he has roped in the renowned Tamil film director Atlee. It is rumoured that Janhvi may be paired opposite him. People in the trade feel that Varun should focus more on commercial cinema not on OTT platform.

Has ‘Bahubali’ Prabhas Disappointed His Fans In Adipurush Avataar?

Om Raut’s film Adipurush seems to have disappointed Bahubali Prabhas’ fans. There are conflicting reports about collections and footfalls in the theatres even as Prabhas tweeted “Adipurush continues its roaring success at the box office! With a mind boggling collection of Rs 375 crore (sic)”. But movie critic Taran Adarsh tweeted “Disappointing”. So how does the future look for the first pan India star Prabhas? Not bright, feel some trade analysts. They say it is his third flop after Saaho and Radhe Shyam. Adipurush ran into controversy from Day One when the trailer was released and for its poor dialogues after release. Son of a Telugu film producer, the 43-year old Prabhas entered the Telugu film industry in 2002 and all his seven films were hit. What changed his life and catapulted him into the big league –making him the highest paid star in the south — was the title role he bagged in SS Rajamouli’s Bahubali and its sequel grossing. The film was an all time hit and the rest is history. Prabhas has a couple of projects in the pipeline; one with Deepika Padukone and Big B. Also releasing this year is action thriller Salaar. Interestingly, like Salman Khan even Prabhas is the most eligible bachelor… and heart broken. Anushka Shetty turned down his marriage proposal and the latest grapevine he is dating Adipurush co-star Kriti Sanon.
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BJP Openly Promotes ‘The Kerala Story’

BJP’s Mumbai president Ashish Shelar held a special screening of The Kerala Story at Gaiety- Galaxy in Bandra which was well attended by BJP party workers and others. What made it special was that the movie’s lead actress, co-stars, producer and director were present at the screening and they shared their experiences with the audience. Union Minister for Information & Broadcasting Anurag Singh Thakur, said that the film exposes the sinister nexus of religious conversions which “Every sister and daughter must watch”. When was the last time we saw a political party openly promoting a film? Earlier, we have seen protests for Shah Rukh Khan’s Pathaan, Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Padmvat and for the trailer of Om Raut’s Adipurush.  It may be recalled that Vivek Agnihotri’s The Kashmir Files too was promoted by the BJP government to indicate that they empathised with Kashmiri Pandits. Interestingly, both the movies have made big money at the box office. During Emergency Gulzar’s Aandhi starring Suchitra Sen and Sanjeev Kumar was banned by the Congress regime. Generally, the government’s way of supporting a movie is to give it a tax break. Now, all eyes are on Adipurush. Its music was launched at Ayodhya. It is widely rumoured that some filmmakers who are aligned with the ruling establishment’s ideology have been commissioned to do movies on certain subjects that will show the ruling party in good light.


Swimming Against Current: SRK To Release ‘Jawan’ On A Non-Festival Day

Generally, all film stars prefer to release their movies on an important festival day. But Shah Rukh Khan is different; he has chosen a non-festival day to release Jawan, his second release this year. Those close to the actor feel that he didn’t want to upset those who have already announced release dates of their movies in the third quarter of the year which includes Ranbir Kapoor’s Animal and Ajay Devgn’s Maidaan. It is probably after Fan which was released in April 2016, the actor has chosen a non-festival release date – Janmasthami, which is not a big ticket film day as far as exhibitors are concerned. But they are fine as SRK’s Pathaan released on Republic Day was a runaway hit creating box office history.  Those in the trade feel that releasing films on festivals became fashionable in the nineties after globalization, and Indian movies becoming favourites of the Indian diaspora. A senior trade person said, “Earlier, Shah Rukh Khan had regular releases in between the Diwali releases as he used to work in many films but once he cut down on his films Diwali became synonymous with Shah Rukh, Eid with Salman Khan and Christmas with Aamir Khan. ” Coming back to Jawan the real reason for  SRK delaying the release from June 2 to September 7 is the film is still not complete and the film is VFX heavy and after the success of Pathaan he does not want to take a chance.


Will SRK Once Again Shun Media For ‘Jawan’?

Rumour mills are doing the rounds that superstar Shah Rukh Khan may do a repeat of Pathaan.  That is, keeping media at bay during the release of his forthcoming film Jawan directed by Atlee. The action film which releases in June has just been wrapped up and the heroine of the film Nayanthara was in Mumbai for dubbing and surprisingly did not oblige the waiting paparazzi with poses as is generally the practice. All stars including those from south are always cooperative with paps. It may be recalled that King Khan has distanced himself from the media for quite some time for two reasons. First, there was no film release, and second, he is quite disturbed by the fact that media literally hounded his son Aryan Khan when he was arrested by the Narcotics Control Bureau in a drug case. The way media mishandled the case upset him. Although the actor has stopped covering his face with an umbrella but he refuses to pose for the media. This was evident at Congress leader Baba Siddiqui’s Iftaar party where he refused to stop even for a minute. The moot point is how long can SRK shun the media?  

Bollywood Learns Again That Star Power Is Not Enough To Attract Footfalls

Compared to his own standard Salman Khan’s Eid release Kisi Ka Bhai Kisi Ki Jaan was ordinary, exactly as trade had predicted. They say the Rs 15.81 cr opening collection is the actor’s star power and Eid numbers going by his past track record could have been better. In a way his fans saved the day with collections on the first three days touching Rs 78.34 cr. His well-wishers feel that Sallu bhai is being misled by the mutual admiration society around him. They praise his film even though the content is not upto the mark like Kisi Ka Bhai Kisi Ki Jaan. And he easily trusts and believes people around him. Analysts say that post Covid-19 Pandemic the viewers have become very discerning. Thanks to OTT they don’t just walk into a theatre because of star power. The content has to be top gun like RRR, Pushpa etc. King Khan’s Pathaan seems to be an aberration, maybe because of controversy surrounding its release. Salman has always had a decent opening on Day 1 with all his Eid releases. Dabangg (2010) Rs 14.50 cr, Bodyguard (2011) Rs 21.60 cr, Ek Tha Tiger (2012) Rs 32.93 cr, Kick (2014) Rs 26.4 cr, BajrangiBhaijaan (2015) Rs 27.25 cr, Sultan (2016) Rs 36.54 cr, Tubelight (2017) Rs 21.15 cr, Race3 (2018) Rs 29.17 cr and Bharat (2019) Rs 42.3 cr. Although the trade is disappointed with KKBKKJ there is hope for Salman this Christmas with Tiger 3.

Will Karan Johar And Kartik Aaryan Work Together Once Again?

Bollywood’s powerful producer-director-host Karan Johar was spotted at a Juhu venue meeting the busiest star Kartik Aaryan. The meeting has led to speculations whether it was a peace-making deal or professional meeting to revive Dostana 2 which was 40% shot. Those close to the Gen-Next star say it was just a professional meeting. One wonders if Karan is keen to revive the project after all around Rs 20 crore has already been spent on the film. The other speculation doing the rounds is that he is likely to sign on the bankable star for a new film.  It may be recalled that the outspoken actress Kangana Ranaut has been vociferously defending “outsiders” and has been targeting Karan for being unfair to outsiders including the late Sushant Singh Rajput and Kartik Aaryan. When Karan, one of the most influential filmmakers, dropped Kartik from Dostana 2 even Shah Rukh Khan and Anand L Rai dropped Kartik from their projects. But, 32-year-old Kartik was lucky as the “outsider” gang of producers supported him; today he is one of the most sought after actors commanding a price of Rs 30 crore which is almost at par with Varun Dhawan and other senior stars of Bollywood. His guest appearance in Ranbir Kapoor’s film is a clear hint that Kartik has a big fan following. So it will not be surprising if Karan Johar announces the revival of Dostana 2.


Now, Priyanka Chopra Revives “Outsider” Issue In Bollywood

Priyanka Chopra (PeeCee) has revived the topic of victimization of outsiders in Bollywood. The actress who is promoting her global spy series Citadel, admitted why she was forced to leave Bollywood and go to Hollywood. “I’m not a nepo baby. I didn’t have the kind of support that exists in a big way in Bollywood movies,” she said on an episode of Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard. Many are attributing her raking  “outsider” issue to promote her spy series. Some have supported her. Kangana Ranaut and writer Apurva Asrani said that the insider camps don’t allow those who want to work on their own terms. Kangana tweeted: “…This is what @priyankachopra has to say about bollywood, people ganged up on her, bullied her and chased her out of the film industry, a self-made woman was made to leave India. Everyone knows Karan Johar had banned her (sic).” She further added, “Media wrote extensively about her fall out with Karan Johar because of her friendship with SRK and movie mafia Cruella who is always looking for vulnerable outsiders saw a perfect punching bag in PC and went all out in harassing her to a point where she had to leave India.” Shekhar Suman and his son Adhyayan who are also victims tweeted: “Priyanka Chopra’s sensational revelation has not come as a shocker. It is well known the way the cabal within the film industry functions. It will oppress, suppress and persecute you till you are finished. It happened with SSR.”

Is The Kapil Sharma Show Losing Its Bite?

Is Kapil Sharma losing his charm? It certainly seems like from the kind of guests invited to his shows these days. Most of them are friends like Ajay Devgn and Akshay Kumar, and singers who are easily accessible to him. The show which started in 2016 had a good mix of comedians like Krushna Abhishek, Bharati Singh, Sudesh Lehri and Sunil Grover. In its latest avatar all the above artists have left. The only saving grace is Kiku Sharda but his appearance time has been reduced. It is learnt that even the creative team has been reshuffled which is clear from the script of the show. The general feedback is that people love Kapil but are not quite happy with the programme mix. His constant flirting with female stars, poking fun at Archana Puran Singh seems to be getting repetitive and predictable. And this is reflected in its TRP.  According to BARC ratings in March 2023 (Week 12) Rupali Ganguly-led Anupamaa topped the TRP list with a 2.9 rating while at 1.1 rating The Kapil Sharma Show ranked 18. In 2019 it ranked No 2. Apparently, to boost its rating, Kapil had tried to reach out to Shah Rukh Khan during the release of Pathaan but King Khan declined the offer. Unless he calls back some of the comedians and rejigs his offerings, the show will find less and less takers.

How Kangana Ranaut Has Seamlessly Integrated Her Reel And Real Life

Bollywood queen Kangana Ranaut has the art of staying in the news. Recently when the Khalistan movement played up in Punjab she took to social media to say she had predicted this problem two years ago. A hardcore Modi supporter, she has been nursing political ambitions and reportedly made it known that she was not averse to standing for elections from her home state, Himachal Pradesh. Her outspokenness cost the 35-year old actor dearly when the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi government headed by Uddhav Thackeray gave orders to demolish her house. Even her reel life role has been reflecting her political ambition, the kind of role she cherry picks or produces. She has played the role of modern leaders like Indira Gandhi and Jayalalithaa. Besides, she has also donned the role of legendary and religious characters in movies like Manikarnika 2, Sita: The Incarnation. Kangana is now busy shooting for Chandramukhi 2, a sequel to Rajnikanth’s horror comedy directed by P Vasu. Of late, she is more focused towards the south film industry. In Bollywood where she is known for not mincing words, she gets along with people who are right-winger like Anupam Kher; but one was surprised to see her making fun of Selfiee which had Akshay Kumar. And another surprising factor was her support for Nawazuddin Siddiqui and it may be because she is working with him. After fighting courting too many battles including a defamation suit filed by Javed Akhtar, Kangana, according to industrywallahs is now careful and measured in her talks and social media message. Is it?
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Are Bollywood Photographers Crossing The Laxman Rekha?

Celebrities across the world have to put up with pesky paparazzis. Bollywood is no different. Recently, a freelance Paps clicked Aliya Bhatt sitting by the window in her house. It was not scandalous but Alia raised ‘the right to privacy’ stink and it became a headline. Interestingly, sometimes back when Alia told Paps to avoid taking photos of her daughter they readily agreed. But Anushka Sharma was not that lucky, her child’s photo went viral. And everybody knows Jaya Bachchan’s aversion for Paps. Do Bollywood stars have love-hate relations with paparazzis? In Bollywood there are two kinds of Paps: professional, organized ones and freelancers (mobile phone wielding ones). The organised ones are officially tipped by the PR guys about film stars’ schedules like visits to malls, theatres, restaurants or airports. But, freelancers are not part of this loop. Since they are paid only if they deliver. And their KRA is how far you can go to get those exclusive photos/videos. This sheer fight for survival to take money home sees them break barriers of decency; at times pass lewd remarks against female stars. Basically, they lack etiquettes and manners. In the last three years, especially after Covid-19 pandemic, some of these freelancers have crossed the Laxman-Rekha and have intruded into the star’s privacy. This has irked many female stars.
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Flop Pe Flop: Time For Akshay Kumar To Reinvent Himself?

Bollywood’s most successful star Akshay Kumar is experiencing failures; all his releases in the last two years have bombed badly. His latest Selfiee collected just Rs 20 cr in the first four days of its release instead of earning at least Rs 20 cr per day. Selfiee made at a cost of Rs 150 cr and shot in 40 days could perhaps be Akshay’s biggest flop of his career. Shah Rukh Khan’s Pathaan in spite of controversy collected around Rs 70 cr per day to touch Rs 509 crore in 36 days.  Earlier, Kartik Aaryan’s Bhool Bhulaiyaa2 broke the Bollywood jinx by grossing over Rs 200 cr. In comparison Akshay’s figures are: Bachchhan Paandey Rs 52 cr, Samrat Prithviraj Rs 68cr, Bell Bottom Rs 32 cr and Raksha Bandhan Rs 48 cr. Says an industry insider, Akshay Kumar needs to reinvent himself. Most of his choices of subjects have been super flops. Basically, his fans are showing him the mirror. But is he looking at it? In spite of back-to-back flops, the 55-year old is not being written off by the producers. He has a couple of big projects in the pipeline — Hera Pheri 4 (promo shot), Bade Miyan Chhote Miyan with Tiger Shroff, Capsule Gill completed in the UK, a remake of Sorarai Pottaru (under production). Currently, he has taken a short break for a show in the USA with four glamorous stars. Reportedly, the New Jersey show has been cancelled.
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The Fall, Rise And Fall Of Hindi Movies

It is a big setback for the bankable star of Bollywood Kartik Aaryan. His latest release Shehzada has bombed at the box office and this has raised concerns in the film trade whether Shah Rukh Khan’s movie Pathaan was an aberration. Its collection has crossed the Rs 500-crore mark. The weekend collection for Shehzada was around Rs 20 crore and the reason for poor footfall is that film music has not appealed to his fans. Also, last minute postponement of its release also affected the collections. Surprisingly, there were takers for Pathaan’s marketing strategy; it reduced ticket price to Rs200 but when Shehzada offered one ticket free on buying one ticket the audience did not lap it up. A worried Bollywood fraternity is hoping that Akshay Kumar’s Selfiee does well. Though the early numbers is around Rs 5 crore. The trade feels it is going to be difficult for Akshay who has had a series of flops to get a good opening even though the old song ‘Tu anari mein khiladi’ has gone viral. Now all eyes are on Ranbir Kapoor’s Tu Jhoothi Main Makkaar, Ajay Devgn’s Bholaa. But, of course, the biggest expectations will be from Salman Khan’s Kisi Ka Bhai Kisi Ki Jaan that will be released on Eid day. That will be a real acid test.

Karan Johar requesting young actors to take a cut in their fees

Are Stars’ High Fees Making Bollywood Movies Unviable?

Finally, Shah Rukh Khan’s controversial movie Pathaan has broken the Bollywood jinx. It’s a runaway hit with collections crossing the Rs 475-crore mark. But for Pathaan the last two years have been a disaster for the Hindi film industry with all movies involving top actors like Akshay Kumar, Tiger Shroff, Ranveer Singh, Rajkummar Rao bombing at the box office. The only saving grace was Kartik Aaryan’s Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2. Has the success of Pathaan emboldened producers to announce new projects? Not really. No producer is confident to invest in Hindi films because here, the stars walk away with a major portion of the budget by way of their fees. It may be recalled that the Telugu Film industry went through a similar phase; they hit the pause button, did some introspection followed by correction. Now, they are up and running. In the case of Bollywood, producers have hit the pause button and hoping there will be correction. Seeing the writing on the wall a worried Karan Johar while hosting Bigg Boss – Season 16 made off the cuff remark requesting young actors from Kartik Aaryan to Varun Dhawan to Ranbir Kapoor to cut their fees. Will they? Meanwhile, statistics show that there has been a significant drop in the number of new films announced in the last one year; those films released in 2023 are only backlogs. Clearly, it’s a wakeup call for Bollywood stars.
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New Trends In Bollywood: Fans Don’t Mind Their Favourite Stars Tying Knots

Once upon a time in Bollywood it would have meant hara-kiri. Not anymore. At the peak of their career Kiara Advani and Sidharth Malhotra got married. This seems to be the new trend in Bollywood. Most of the actors and actresses are not really working on their image post marriage; it is simply because the audience and the fans continue to follow and fantasise about their stars.  According to social media expert there is so much of them out in the public domain that fans are fine with marriage and even children (Kareena Kapoor). The mysticism of the stars of the earlier days used to generate curiosity and fans fanaticised about them and these worked in the favour of the actors those days. Then stars had to project a certain image – they are single. Age, marriage and children were taboo. Then popular heroes or heroines were not seen with their families in public function or filmy event.  For instance, both Juhi Chawla and Aamir Khan hid their marriage. But times have changed; Bollywood topguns have got married – Ranveer Singh-Deepika Padukone, Anushka Sharma-Virat Kohli, Ranbir Kapoor-Aliya Bhatt and Vicky Kaushal-Katrina Kaif. Those in the trade feel that it is only working in favour of the married celebrities as they get more opportunities for endorsements, ground events and even films and other projects.
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The Heroes Of 90s Are Reclaiming Their Place In Bollywood With A Vengeance

The heroes of the 90s are making a comeback in a big way. Ajay Devgn started the return trip to the box office with Drishyam 2 which grossed Rs 343 crore worldwide and is still running in cinemas. His arch-rival and Badshah of Bollywood has broken records with Pathaan’s worldwide collection crossing the Rs 600 crore mark and is still counting. Shah Rukh Khan who had a super flop like Zero is back with super dialogue hitting out at the newer stars who think they have replaced them. Pathaan’s popularity is affecting new releases. Kartik Aaryan’s Shehzaada was to release on February 10 but has now been postponed.  Does it signify solidarity? Though the makers say it is out of respect for SRK, it seems more out of concern for Kartik who has taken himself to be a ‘Shehzada’ of the industry. Likewise Salman Khan had a big flop in Antim is returning with Kisi Kaa Bhai Kisi Ki Jaan on Eid. Trade is saying it will open to about Rs 40 crore on day one. Akshay Kumar who had strings of flops has about 10 films in the pipeline. His film Selfie, a remake of the South film Driving Licence, looks interesting and could be a box office hit. Aamir Khan has taken a back seat as an actor and is now focusing on production and knowing the man he is definitely going to make a comeback in a big way.

Bollywood’s Superhit Director Rajkumar Santoshi Returns After A Decade

After a gap of nearly 10 years Bollywood’s super hit director Rajkumar Santoshi is on a comeback trail and that too with a vengeance. That was obvious at the various media interactions he has had. The 66-year old Santoshi, is in throes of controversy, over his latest movie Gandhi Godse Ek Yudh with a non-star cast film. The only star is AR Rahman who scores music for the film. Santoshi has been struggling to make Gandhi Godse for a long time but had no takers; even finance remained an issue. He managed to convince Rahman and that set the ball rolling. Rahman calls Santoshi courageous for making the film. Santoshi’s daughter Tanisha makes debut in the film which seemed unconventional for a celebrity kid. Santoshi has directed over 16 films and most of them have been big hit. His first film Ghayal in 1990 starring Sunny Deol and Meenakshi Seshadri was a runaway success. So too his film Damini whose dialogue “tarek pe tarek” became famous. He was besotted by Meenakshi Seshadri and wanted to marry her but she decided otherwise, packed her bags and settled down in the U.S.  Similarly, he seems to have had fallout with several people including Big B and Sunny Deol. With Sunny it was after Damini. But now they have patched up and will be making a film together titled Lahore 1947. So will the second innings of this maverick filmmaker better his first one?
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John Abraham Lives Life On His Own Terms

At a recent healthcare company’s Press Conference, John Abraham seemed irritable when scribes asked him questions about ‘Pathaan’ again and again.  His answer: “next question”, “next question”.  Finally, he got up and left rather angrily. Why is the 50-year old actor- producer-scriptwriter behaving in this fashion?  Some say he didn’t want to speak about a film at a health event. Perfect. But, not once did he talk in favour of Shah Rukh Khan who was being hemmed in from all sides over Pathaan. To this, those who know John said he wants the film to do the talking; that’s what he said after he was trolled and called arrogant. Has his relationship with SRK soured? Nobody knows. Industry insiders say he has had a fallout with Salman during a world tour and both have not come together. John who has been in Bollywood for nearly two decades has not made many friends in the industry. Many say, he also take things personally; he closes communication channels with the directors if the film flops. Inspite of acting in over 20 films his strike rate in box office is poor. People remember him for Jism, Dhoom, Shootout At Wadala. Of late everybody is jumping on the OTT bandwagon but not John. Reason: He does not want to be available at Rs 299. That’s being gutsy.
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Is The Film Certification Board Wilting Under Political And Social Media Pressure?

The Central Board Of Film Certification (CBFC) is said to be an autonomous body. But it isn’t. It has always been influenced by the ruling dispensation. Recall Gulzaar’s movie Aandhi which was banned in 1975 as it was based on the life of Indira Gandhi. Censor board now CBFC always had members who were political appointees. One remembers Mahesh Bhatt saying that the board objected to the word “randi” (prostitute) in his movie Arth, decades later it was beeped in Raaz but during Murder 2 the word stayed in the film.  Looks like the board is slowly turning into a toothless body. There have been umpteen times when objections have been taken after the film was cleared by the CBFC. Prakash Jha faced it. At the time of Aarakshan his office was vandalised. He went to the court and got an order in the industry’s favour. In this social media age the board seems to be getting influenced/pressured by the trolls and Pathaan is a case in point. So much so chairman of CBFC Prasoon Joshi, a government appointee, had to issue a statement defining the role of the board. Despite the beeps, replacement and cuts the trailer of Pathaan rocks. Now, it is learnt that the government will come out with new guidelines that will give the CBFC chief power to withdraw a film even after certification. Very tricky days ahead for Bollywood?
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Is Deepika Padukone A Rebel Without A Cause?

She is one of the sought-after heroines. Thirty-seven year old Deepika Padukone who entered Bollywood in 2007 and made quite a mark, seems to be courting controversies these days. The right wing has called for a boycott of her soon-to-be-released Pathaan starring superstar Shah Rukh Khan. Earlier it was Padmavat. And in both the cases she has remained unfazed. During Padmavat release when a section of the saffron brigade threatened to cut her nose, she wasn’t really scared. In fact, at the height of student’s agitation, Deepika landed up at JNU to show her solidarity with the student’s union. In fact, her visit had nothing to do with the release of her film Chhapaak based on acid attack survivor. The film bombed because of a boycott by right wing or bad execution of script nobody knows. The actress hasn’t really had a good run at the box office in the recent past. Chhapaak, Gehraiyan, 83, Cirkus all failed to draw audiences. One of the top paid actresses, Deepika also seems to be fighting gender bias. Reportedly, for Baiju Bawra she asked Sanjay Leela Bansali for more fee than Ranveer Singh. He quietly signed up Alia Bhat. According to Duff & Phelps 2022 report, Deepika’s brand value stood at $ 51.6 mn. As of now, Deepika has five films in the pipeline which includes Pathaan, Fighter with Hrithik Roshan and Rohit Shetty’s Singham 3.
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Will 2023 Be The Year Of The Khans?

There is a lot of surround sound over the release of Shah Rukh Khan starring Pathaan with right wingers protesting over Deepika Padukone’s saffron coloured skimpy dress. Yet, the trade is very optimistic and feels irrespective of the controversy and boycott Pathaan will be a huge hit at the box office. In fact, King Khan and Salman Khan together have four films releasing in 2023 and looking at the fan followings, and the crowd outside their homes, it clearly indicates their popularity has not waned on the contrary it is on the rise. SRK has Atlee directed Dunki while Sallu Bhai has Kisi Ka Bhai Kisi Ki Jaan and Tiger 3. These movies will log at least 15% revenue growth via theatres because people will flock to movie halls to watch larger than life movies like Avatar and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever and this will be Advantage SRK as he is known to make larger than life movies. OTT will co-exist with content driven space. It will be more on experimental content and stories from small towns — they will thrive on pulp fictions like Good Luck Jerry and Darlings. It won’t be a challenge as the cinema will cater to MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) and action-packed world. Trade feel, Rohit Shetty’s Cirkus failed because it was due to poor content but the Khans will resurrect Bollywood in a big way.
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Rohit Shetty and his winning’ team

Cirkus: First Setback For Rohit Shetty, Man With The Midas Touch

Poor response to Rohit Shetty’s latest film Cirkus seems to have shocked the Bollywood fraternity. Generally his movies generate Rs 100 crore in the first week of release but Cirkus managed only Rs 21 crore in the first three days. It is a setback, perhaps for the first time, for the man known for his Midas touch. Forty-eight year old Rohit known for his action, comedy and masala films has worked with all top stars and given hits like Golmaal, Singham... Sure, he has his favourites – Ajay Devgn with whom he has done 10 films. So what went wrong with Cirkus? Analysts say that Rohit went wrong with the trailer; the audience did not like it so decided not to watch the film. Movie critic Taran Adarsh who gave it two stars rating, tweeted “Cirkus: Outdated”. Sure, one flop does not damage the equity of a large-hearted filmmaker like Rohit Shetty. He shot Cirkus deliberately during the lockdown so that hundreds of technicians, junior artistes could keep their kitchen fire going. Joint Commissioner of Mumbai Police Vishwas Nangare-Patil has gone on record saying Rohit paid off the hospital bill totaling Rs 97 lakh of policemen who were being treated for Covid-19. Cirkus has failed but it is a minor blip in Rohit’s illustrious career. Given the goodwill he enjoys across all classes of people Brand Rohit is here to stay for a long time.
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Are Film Stars Religious? Bollywood Biggies Bow Before Deities

Recently, Bollywood’s new sensation Kartik Aaryan was seen at Mumbai’s Siddhivinayak temple. It is quite commonplace to see film stars visiting religious places before the release of their movies.  Amitabh Bachchan is an ardent devotee of the famous Siddhivinayak temple. He has walked nearly 12 km from his home in Juhu to this temple in Prabhadevi. He has donated a big silver rat and lent his voice for mantras and aartis for Bappa. In the early eighties when he was battling for his life special aartis were conducted at the Siddhivinayak temple. Producer-actor Jeetendra is a big devotee of Tirupati Balaji so much so in the mid-eighties when his career was down he went to Tirupati and got tonsured. Soon followed hits like Himmatwala, Tofa and since then he has never looked back. In fact, he has named his company Balaji Telefilms. Jeetendra is also a great believer of Vaishno Devi and often greets people with “Jai Mata Di”.  Shah Rukh Khan visited Vaishno Devi secretly along with the director of Pathaan Siddharth Anand. His religious side surfaced only recently. Superstar Rajinikanth is a great bhakt of Raghavendra Swamy and visits the mutt located at Mantralayam, Andhra Pradesh very often. Even SS Rajamouli of Bahubali fame visits this mutt. Katrina Kaif, Govinda, Sanjay Dutt and Ajay Devgn often visit Ajmer Sharif. Actor Manoj Kumar is known to be an ardent Sai Baba follower.
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Can King Khan Win This Battle?

He knows how to market himself and emote with his audience. That’s what makes superstar Shah Rukh Khan very special. But at 57 he is battling on several fronts.  His movie Pathaan to be released on January 25, has been dragged into controversy over the saffron-colored bikini worn by Deepika. The right wing has called for a boycott of the movie. And to make matters worse, the media has been going whole hog reporting it.  Why not? SRK has been avoiding the media like a plague. Reason, he feels the entire tribe went overboard while reporting on his son Aryan Khan’s drug case. Now, he feels he could do without them. It may be recalled that in the eighties Big B was banned by the media but it made no difference to his career. SRK does not have that luxury. He needs a box office hit. So he is using different ways to reach his audience.  At the Kolkata International Film Festival the actor spoke about the social media negativity that put spotlight on his film.  He also visited Mecca and then Vaishnodevi. He has kept pushing the envelope. He landed at Sports18 studio just before Argentina-France final kick off. Besides, he is talking to social media influencers like Faye Dsouza to put his points across to the audience. In the past inclusion of Pakistani cricketers almost led to the ban of his film My Name is Khan. Now, all eyes on January 25.
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Deepika’s ‘Too Much Skin’ In The Game Backfires

The general impression was Pathaan was the comeback ticket for superstar Shah Rukh Khan. But, it seems to happen the other way round. Like it or not Deepika Padukone seems to be all over, grabbing headlines not King Khan. Deepika has not only been getting bad press but also heavily trolled for ‘Besharam song’ promo from soon-to-be released Pathaan movie. The so-called right wing moral police has labelled Deepika ‘besharam’. In fact, her action has stumped everybody? Insiders feel that Deepika is one of the top actresses of Bollywood who has proved her skills and does not have to cavort in skimpy clothes like a newcomer. Is Deepika feeling insecure? Is she doing this to project herself as an international star? Insiders are saying that Alia Bhatt, Katrina Kaif are not showing their skin to prove their stardom so why is Deepika an established successful star doing this? Her hubby Ranveer’s full monty was not appreciated at all.  Just a few days back, her fans appreciated her song in Cirkus and now they are thrashing her. For now Deepika has two films Fighter, an action packed drama and Rohit Shetty’s cop series where she plays female Singham on her plate. But, going by the backlash of Besharam song she certainly needs to revisit her PR strategy.
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2022: A Bad Year For Bollywood As It Loses Nearly Rs 1000 Crore

The denizens of the Bollywood would be heaving a sigh of relief as 2022 draws to close. It has been a bad year for most producers, directors and actors. There was great expectation from Rohit Shetty’s Cirkus which releases at the end of the year. But early reports based on its trailer says it has got mixed reviews and as of now it is tracking Rs 15 crore. The saving grace could be Avatar. There is no denying the fact that the confidence of Hindi film industry is shaken. Barring two or three films like Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2, Brahmastra, Drishyam 2 other films have bombed.  A trade source said, “2022 has been a losing year. We are almost 1000 crore down as an industry. If you want to single out then this year has been favorable for Ranbir Kapoor and Kartik Aaryan. Particularly the year has not gone well for Ayushmann Khurrana. Because he was on a huge high before the pandemic. And after that his films have not done well.” The year actually belonged to the films more than the stars as two franchisees worked and another franchisee in the making was Brahmastra. The source says that 2023 could be Shah Rukh Khan’s year as the actor has three big releases. Although he is shunning the media but is making sure his presence is felt even if it is at religious places.
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Malaika Arora Knows How To Grab Headlines And Stay Relevant

Is Malaika Arora trying to create buzz around her so that her new show on OTT ‘Moving In With Malaika’ gets good traction? Recently, she was all over with stories about her pregnancy, why she parted ways with Arbaaz Khan, or trolled on social media for wearing a Balenciaga dress — the brand which was in controversy over its ad campaign. The pregnancy story was denied by her family. But, those in the trade feel that Malaika gets publicity even while walking her dog out or for her yoga session. Forty-seven year old fitness freak, single mom, carved a distinct place in Bollywood with her item numbers. She has confessed she is avoiding acting roles in the films. But insiders feel she should focus on acting as the new item girl of Bollywood is Nora Fatehi and she is here to stay. But there is no denying that Malaika’s latest item number “Aap Jesa Koi” in Action Hero has resonated well with the audience. Right now one is overdosed with her plug-ins of the show in which confesses about marrying Arjun Kapoor and several other confessions but one is waiting to hear from her about how she dropped the Khan surname and indirectly took on Salman Khan by posing and parading with Arjun Kapoor. But one interesting observation by a colleague is that she has moved on from one AK to another AK.


Is ED Investigation A Setback For Nora Fatehi?

Actress-model-dancer Nora Fatehi got upset with the waiting photographers as she stepped out of the Enforcement Directorate’s office after her interrogation in the Sukesh Chandrashekhar money laundering case. She is the same Nora who is ever ready to oblige eager paparazzi but this time it was different. She is a witness in the case in which actress Jacqueline Fernandez is an accused. Thirty-year old Nora, a Canadian citizen, has made waves in Bollywood as an item girl. She is invited to reality TV shows either as a judge or as a guest. So what’s her claim to fame?  According to insiders, she is considered to be the hot favorite of a music baron and he has signed her for any number of item songs and music albums. She started with item numbers in south Indian films and then moved to Hindi films. Luckily for her all her item songs have been a hit and that was used to draw audiences to theatres. But, her rounds of ED’s office and her name dragged into the Sukesh money laundering controversy could be a temporary setback for her career. Many may not sign her for the fear of shooting dates clashing with her hearings. Incidentally, Jacqueline is still not out of trouble but has not vented her anger with the media who has been tailing her day in and day out.  
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Is Varun Dhawan Losing Foothold In Bollywood?

Being an insider Varun Dhawan always had a foot in the door. Son of Bollywood’s most successful director David Dhawan, he worked with Karan Johar as an assistant director before he was launched in Student Of The Year by Karan Johar in 2012. Lady Luck was benevolent; he had 11 consecutive box-office successes between 2012 and 2018 but close industry watchers are saying that the 35-year old star may lose his edge given the kind of films he is signing these days. Says an insider, the kind of films he is choosing is not really working in his favour. His latest outing Bhediya has been appreciated by the critics but hasn’t really translated into big numbers. His well-wishers feel that he needs to reinvent himself; focus on the kind of cinema his father is known for. Remake of Judwaa, Coolie No 1 was liked as one saw a Govinda in him. Varun is a sincere and emotional actor and is keen to do something out of the box and that has not worked in his favour. Badlapur was good but October failed and in the case of Bhediya his fans don’t really want to see him playing those kinds of roles. They are looking for a Govinda in Varun. Varun, darling of the media, needs to buckle up as newcomers like Kartik Aaryan, signed by his own brother Rohit Dhawan, have raced ahead of him. About time Varun does introspection.
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Is OTT Killing The Film Festivals?

One thing was loud and clear at the 53rd edition of the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) held in Goa from November 20, 2022 that the crowd is thinning. The craze and eagerness among film buffs to attend such festivals seem to be waning. So this raises the question: Is digital viewing killing the film festival market? According to one of the film enthusiasts seen in this circuit, “I have been attending film festivals for ages now, and I can say that this year the crowds were less. Some of the regulars were missing too.” The opening day didn’t have much of the enthusiasm one has seen in the past. Has the pandemic changed everything for the festival? Another regular at these festivals says “The magic has gone out of the festival. Netflix and others seemed to have kept quite a few cinema-goers away. Why would anyone come to the festival when they can see it at home?” Also, the focus at IFFI has now shifted to marketing India as a shooting destination and not about the experience of cinemas. One could see a huge pavilion which had stalls of countries like Russia, France and others trying to sell their country as a “shooting destination”. It seems to have become a B2B marketplace not a place to showcase talent and creativity. This year’s edition of the film fiesta showcased a collection of 280 films from 79 countries.
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Can Ranveer, Rohit Break The Box Office Jinx This Christmas?

The billion rupee question everybody in Bollywood is asking: Can Ranveer Singh and Rohit Shetty recreate the magic at the box office this Christmas? Forty-eight year old director-producer-TV host Rohit Shetty is one of the most successful filmmakers who has had a 90% success ratio at the box office with his movies like Singham and Golmaal series. But this Christmas he returns with a period comedy that is reportedly inspired from the 1982 comedy movie Angoor directed by Gulzar starring Sanjeev Kumar and Deven Varma. But, Rohit denies it. One of the highest paid stars, 37-year old Ranveer Singh has been signed for Cirkus. It may be recalled Ranveer Singh’s Jayesh Bhai Jordaar was a disaster and the trade is a little sceptical about him currently, but has full faith in Shetty who seems to have a Midas touch. Those in the trade say that all said and done Cirkus and YRF’s Pathaan starring Shah Rukh Khan are two films that the exhibitors and the entire trade is banking on and hoping that these two films will revive Bollywood. A trade pundit said that both the films come with a good mix of star power and entertainment value and SRK and Ranveer Singh are the last of the superstars the film industry has and there may not be another after them.
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Sooraj Barjatya Is Always Grounded Despite His 'Unnchai'

Rajshri’s high profile star cast movie Unnchai released with a slow start but saw a jump on the second day of its release. Sooraj Barjatya, the filmmaker who is known to make family films has this time returned with a film that is outside his comfort zone but has the underline thread of friendship Rajshri style. Those in the trade would not like to criticize Barjatya’s film but those who have watched say it is not an extraordinary story. Yes, his name gives them a reason to not run it down and this has translated into a cash register ringing. A visit to Barjatya’s office, Rajshri which is India’s leading film, TV, music and digital studio set up in 1947, gives you the feeling that cinema is still alive and their functioning reminds us of the Indian values. All what he shows in his films is from families around him. For him to show the stars drinking in a song was full of reluctance. He is a gentleman director of the film industry who never raises voice or gets upset with any actors or people around him. Only once he lost his cool by his own admission with Abhishek Bachchan and Kareena Kapoor. He is humility personified. Nobody likes to hurt him.  Salman Khan is one of his best friends and looks like he will return in his film as Prem very soon.
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Round One At Box Office Goes To Katrina’s ‘Phone Bhoot’, Other Releases Do So-So

It has never happened before in Bollywood. Three actresses-led films releasing simultaneously. Katrina Kaif’s Phone Bhoot was the highest scorer at the box office in last week’s release of women-centric films. Katrina’s film earned about Rs 10 crore; the other two films Janhavi Kapoor’s Mili and Huma Qureshi-Sonakshi Sinha’s Double XXL had dismal collections. According to a trade pundit, the audiences are becoming increasingly discerning and don’t enter the cinema hall unless it’s a family fare and has a fun quotient like Phone Bhoot. Mili was a remake and although Janhvi worked hard the audience didn’t want to see her in a freezer. Her last film Goodluck Jerry was appreciated but it was on OTT and people didn’t have to pay for it. Huma Qureshi and Sonakshi Sinha chose a subject close to their heart; but the subject is passe as today‘s girls are not embarrassed by their bodies and nobody wanted to spend money to watch them in cinemas. Most of the films that are now released in cinemas could’ve been released on OTT directly but the OTT platforms now want the producers to release their films in cinemas and only after that they are picking up those films at their cost. The last women-centric film that did well at the box office was Alia Bhatt’s Gangubai Kathiawadi and it was because of the songs and it was larger-than-life cinema.


Is Meenakshi Sheshadri Making A Comeback?

Another popular yesteryear actress is keen to make a comeback. Fifty-nine year old Meenakshi Sheshadri is keen to get back to acting. Interestingly, most of the top actresses of the past are making their comeback statement by appearing on popular reality shows like the Indian Idol, The Kapil Sharma Show Or KBC. So too Meenakshi, she chose the Indian Idol show. She looked fit. Her dancer’s grace and poise for all to see. For the uninitiated Meenakshi is trained in four Indian classical dance forms — Bharata Natyam, Kuchipudi, Kathak, and Odissi. In the early 90s she was dating singer Kumar Sanu but Ghayal director Rajkumar Santoshi was very keen to marry her. She shocked and surprised her fans by abruptly giving up her acting career and moved to the U.S. around 1996 after finding her life partner. Meenakshi is not the only actress of the 80s and 90s who is making a comeback. Neetu Singh Kapoor did it after 26 years via a Karan Johar film. Now she is busy with a web series. Bhagyashree of Maine Pyar Kiya fame made a quiet comeback; she was seen in Thalaivi but it was Super Moms that got her noticed. Earlier, we saw the dhak dhak girl Madhuri Dixit coming back to India landing film roles, doing reality shows and endorsing many products.
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Has ‘Chikni Chameli’ Kat Come Of Age?

After Fitoor it is probably for the first time Katrina Kaif will be seen headlining a film Phone Bhoot that releases this week. The 39-year old actress, who has acted in over 50 films, has been one of the top three actresses in Bollywood charging a hefty fee of Rs 10 crore per film. Phone Bhoot is a horror comedy that co-stars not so popular Ishaan Khattar and Siddhant Chaturvedi. Katrina is the big name here and a lot depends on how the audience reacts to the film. Phone Bhoot is Katrina’s first release after her marriage to Vicky Kaushal who has been involved in the promotion of the film.  Of course her ex-flame Salman Khan has not been far behind, he was promoting it on Bigg Boss. Interestingly, there are three releases this week — Mili, Double XXL and Phone Bhoot — and all three are driven by women. Trade analysts feel Katrina’s film will get a good opening of Rs 4 crore. Till date Katrina hasn’t really got noticed for her acting skills but is remembered for item songs like Chikni Chameli. In fact, she has had some of the best songs to her credit and that makes her hugely popular. Katrina has worked opposite all the top Bollywood actors. The actress who has overcome her Hindi language barrier is now focusing on her acting skills and getting choosy about her roles. Looks like Kat will walk the talk.  
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Why Is Shah Rukh Khan Miffed With The Media?

These days Shah Rukh Khan carries an umbrella. Reason: he wants to make sure that paparazzi don’t get a glimpse of him. SRK who was once very friendly with journos is miffed with the entire tribe for going overboard while reporting on his son Aryan Khan’s drug case. He is also angry with the media for publicizing his personal life. But, does hiding behind an umbrella ensure that the media will stop reporting on him or his son? Senior journalists say that SRK cannot complain as every time they tried to reach out to him or his legal team, they were stone-walled. Given this situation they could do nothing but file stories after talking to reliable sources. For Bollywood this is not a new phenomenon. In the eighties, Amitabh Bachchan and Rekha had banned the media for publishing their alleged relationship. They neither gave interviews nor allowed journalists on their sets. Big B broke his 10-year ban and has now become the darling of the media. In the case of Salman Khan it is a love-hate relationship. It came to the fore during his affair with Aishwaryaa Rai. In fact, a leading film magazine, much to his annoyance, stopped writing about him after he misbehaved with their photographer. Now Sallu bhai is a changed man but occasionally the old Salman Khan does surface. Meanwhile, Aryan Khan continues to carry an umbrella and refuses to oblige the waiting paparazzi.


A Non-Controversial, Successful Star Called Ajay Devgn

Fifty three year old Ajay Devgn is one of the busiest actors in Bollywood. The actor–director-producer has four films in the pipeline; one just released this Diwali. Ajay is not really a Diwali hero as most of the time it has been the Khans who time their movie release with Diwali. And if Ajay has released his film on Diwali it has been a clash most of the time with Shah Rukh Khan; he does not really enjoy a rapport with SRK although his wife Kajol hits off with him both on screen and off screen. Ajay Devgn has been a consistent-intense actor who works at his pace and is not in the rat race. With more than 100 films under his belt, he has won national accolades for his contribution to cinema. He has worked with well- known directors like Prakash Jha, Rajkumar Santoshi and Ramgopal Varma but it was Rohit Shetty who gave him the angry Singham stamp. And the same Shetty’s Midas touch has made Ajay’s poker faced comedy a huge box office hit in the Golmaal series. The actor is also a director and Raju Chacha was his first venture. In recent times Ajay has directed Shivaay and Runway 24 the latter starring Big B. The politically correct devoid of controversy actor has several projects on hand — Thank God has just been released. It will be followed by Drishyam 2, Maidaan and Bhola.


Technology Cannot Disrupt Original Content Provider: Short Post Editor

They say time flies. How true!  Today is our #SecondAnniversary. Two years back at the height of Covid-19 Pandemic when lockdown was the way of life we took a leap of faith and launched Short Post (Jan 28, 2021), the first-of-its-kind website in the country that focuses on Authentic Gossip. The Oxymoron is deliberate. Well, the response has been quite encouraging. That’s what has kept us going. Till date we have posted close to 2000 stories in the areas of Politics, Business, Entertainment and Sports. Each insightful story of around 225 words has been contributed by Senior Editors. There is a sense of satisfaction of creating a new segment in the market – authentic gossip — and in the process creating a brand (in a limited sense), creating demand (readers) and creating supply (writers). Well known advertisers — IDFC FIRST Bank, ICICI Lombard – supported us.  And that really boosted our confidence. Thank you!

So here we are raring to go.  But, when I look at the media landscape the disruption is indeed fast and furious. Technology is playing a very big role in how content will be consumed. In the past, we have seen how social media has disrupted the media world. Now, everybody is saying the same thing about ChatGPT. It has reached 1 million users in five days. Its scorching pace of growth is indeed frightening and will disrupt the media industry big time. My limited argument is can it do investigative stories, write gossip items using the digital world ecosystem. Unlikely. Clearly, the original content has to be created first — only then can ChatGPT do the magic. That’s what we promise to do – focus on original content.

Before I sign off, I am reminded of an old advertisement of the early sixties: “Avis is only No.2 in rent a cars. So we try harder”. Likewise I can say, we are two years old and we are trying even harder to be relevant to you readers.