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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.  
Shahrukh khan


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.
Alia Bhatt


Brand Alia Has A Big Draw On All Platforms

She is the insider who made it big in Bollywood with her extraordinary talent. Alia Bhatt, who is in the family way, is all over the place – print, TV, internet — endorsing all kinds of products. And her spontaneity, innate talent and charm seems to be emoting well with her audience. Once upon a time marriage or pregnancy were considered a taboo. Not anymore. In fact, stars are cashing on it. Kareena, Anushka and Dia have all done it. The trend of pregnant celebrities endorsing products is increasing by the day. Reportedly, Kareena Kapoor Khan earned around Rs 12 crore via endorsements during her pregnancy. In the case of Alia, she has already endorsed over 23 products. She also features with her husband Ranbir Kapoor in Spotify ads done during the promotion of Brahmastra. Experts from the adworld say there’s a correlation between brands, and ad recalls of products endorsed by the celebrities during their pregnancy as for a large number of women these stars are their idols. And social media has given more heft to these celebrities. According to Duff & Phelps (now Kroll) Celebrity Brand Valuation Report, Alia’s brand value stood at $ 68.1 million in 2021. That’s huge for the 29-year old actress who entered Bollywood 10 years ago. No wonder she is wearing several hats — model, actor, producer and promoter.
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What’s Keeping Vidya Balan Busy These Days?

She is one unique actress who was called as woman of change but these days we have been seeing her making reels on Instagram and not really doing the kind of work we would want to see from Vidya Balan. Not that she is not doing a good job in the reels in fact she is putting in as much effort as one would working in a commercial film. But those in the trade feel that Vidya Balan is one actress who does not believe in racing for the top actress spot but is focusing on what she likes doing. Vidya was last seen in Jalsa with Shefali Shah and her performance was appreciated. Currently, she has two films in the pipeline. The 43-year old actress who made her mark in a popular TV serial Hum Paanch entered Bollywood in 2005 with Parineeta. It was a hit.  Since then she has worked in films that are female-led or has done path breaking roles in movies like Lage Raho Munna Bhai, Bhool Bhulaiyaa, The Dirty Picture No One Killed Jessica, Shakuntala Devi and Kahaani. Vidya who always got bad Press for her dressing sense did try to do a glamorous role in Kismat Konnection but that was not well received. Those in the trade feel that OTT is an ideal platform for her. Is that the reason why she is focusing on social media?


After Richa Chadha-Fazal Ali Tying The Knot All Eyes On Arjun-Malaika: Will They?

Richa Chadha who has been tom-tomming about her marriage to Ali Fazal for years has finally tied the knot. Now, the next marriage on the horizon seems to be that of the 37-year old actor Arjun Kapoor with 49-year old actress-TV personality Malaika Arora. Will he or won’t he marry her seems to be the question that’s doing the rounds as they have been dating for a long while now. It did take Arjun quite a few years to openly walk hand-in-hand with his girlfriend Malaika and it is learnt there is little bit of reluctance on his  part to take her to his family dos. Malaika being a former Khan Bahu could be the reason the two are taking time to formalise the relationship. It is definitely not their 12-year age gap. Malaika who married Arbaaz Khan in 1998 and now legally separated has a college going son Arhaan who now seems comfortable with Arjun. It has definitely not been easy for Arjun but slowly everybody is accepting the two. His father Boney Kapoor, an accomplished film producer, is part of the fraternity and very close friend of Salman Khan and all these may be part of the concern. But, one thing is loud and clear: Arjun takes a lot of pride in Malaika being his girlfriend. That’s encouraging, so will the wedding bells ring soon?
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Khamosh! 'Thappad Se Darr Nahi Lagta’ Star Comes Into Her Own

Her father’s towering presence in Bollywood and politics perhaps made it possible for Sonakshi Sinha to have a dream launch as a heroine opposite Salman Khan in Dabangg in 2010. The role not only won her Filmfare award but her dialogue “Thappad Se Darr Nahi Lagta Sahab made her even more famous. This 35-year old touch-me-not actress, daughter of Shatrughan Sinha, has done over 50 films. Insiders say her traditional look was in a way disadvantageous. But, to her credit Sonakshi managed her career quite well by choosing the right role. Sonakshi who has had no releases in the last two years is now working with Sanjay Leela Bhansali in the web series Heera Mandi. Here, she surprised everybody by choosing Bhansali over Sooraj Barjatya and Amitabh Bachchan for Unncha. More. She is now confronting issues like body shaming in Double XXL. Like all stars, she too has had her share of link-ups with co-stars. A video of her and Salman Khan went viral that led to speculation of her tying knots with the actor. Currently she is dating Zaheer Iqbal, a protege of Salman Khan who has fallen out with him after he walked out of Bhaijaan. Recently, while shooting a teaser for Case Toh Banta Hai Sonakshi slapped comedian Paritosh Tripathi after challenging him to say her dialogue “Thappad se….” Once he said it, Sonakshi gave him a tight slap, and asked “Nahi lagta?”
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OTT Effect: Heroines Want Good Scripts Not Big Co-Stars

Once upon a time in Bollywood it was typical of a heroine to ask the producer who the hero of the film was before signing on the dotted line. Well-known heroines would never agree to act opposite a hero who was a newcomer. Since the glamour quotient of the heroines were high the producers were eager to oblige them. The entry of OTT has reset the entertainment industry. It has changed the mindset and approach; heroines are looking for a good script with a strong character and the conventional running around the trees and getting wet in the rain. Parineeti Chopra is doing a film with Hardy Sandhu. Earlier we saw Alia Bhatt cast opposite Vijay Varma in Darlings and in Gangubai Kathiawadi her hero was Shantanu Maheshwari. But the biggest shocker was Katrina Kaif agreeing to do a film with South star Vijay. Today’s actresses are looking at content and do not want to do dolled-up roles opposite a big star. In soon to be released Vikram Vedha the female lead is Radhika Apte and not any glamour girl opposite Saif Ali Khan. Analysts say that both actors and actresses are not keen to be heroes and heroines but characters in a film that wins them audience appreciation vis a vis keep the cash register ringing. Clearly, this trend has begun all thanks to the OTT boom.
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Everybody ‘Chup’ With Dulquer Salmaan’s ‘Sita Ramam’ Performance

Malayalam star Dulquer Salmaan seems to have made quite an impression in the latest Telugu movie Sita Ramam, also dubbed in Hindi.  Son of Malayalam super star Mammootty, this 36-year old actor who predominantly works in Malayalam, Tamil and Telugu movies is another star from the south who is expected to storm Bollywood with his next film Chup. The movie, an ode to Guru Dutt in which Dulquer plays the lead, is directed by R Balki. Dulquer is not a larger than life hero like Allu Arjun and Ram Charan but more of a romantic hero often seen in solo hero films which has won him appreciation. Dulquer is also like Prithviraj Sukumaran who is making sure that Malayalam film industry continues to make good cinema. Dulquer definitely has the potential to make a place for himself in Bollywood as his Hindi accent is much better than the big heroes of Telugu and Tamil film industry. His debut film in Hindi was Karwaan, a small budget film directed by Akarsh Khurana.  Sita Ramam is definitely setting a trend of sleeper hit films. In the entertainment industry, sleeper hits are films or series that were not expected to do very well because of low budget, lack of promotion. But gradually the movie becomes a talking point, garners media attention which in turn increases its box office collections.
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After Toing And Froing Salman Khan Decides To Host BIgg Boss For The 12th Time

Finally, Salman Khan agrees to host the reality show Bigg Boss for the 12th time. The actor, it is learnt, was not too keen to host it because of his film commitments and of course fee has always been a bone of contention. In the end the producer, actor seemed to have found the middle ground. The actor quietly shot the promo of the show in between the shoot of his home production Kisi Ka Bhai Kisi Ki Jaan at the Mumbai’s Film City studio. The actor who keeps threatening to leave the show manages to get a fee hike in each season. Last year, it is rumoured he was paid a hefty Rs 350 crore and this year — Bigg Boss Season 16 – the fee is bound to be more, say people in the know. The actor who shot the promo of the show said there will be no rules this season and that gave rise to speculations of people who could be selected. Thus, names of controversial stand up Munnawar Farooqui, model-actress Poonam Pandey, TV serial actor Paras of Anupama fame were doing the rounds. The reason audiences love Salman as a host of Bigg Boss is because he does not follow the script and often ends up making controversial remarks on the show. And his fans adore him for that.
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Does Indian Audience Have Reservations Accepting Off Screen Couples In Movies?

Does the Indian audience have reservations when real life couples are paired on screen? Take for example Brahmastra which got a big opening but on the screen chemistry between Ranbir Kapoor and Alia Bhatt does not seem to work. Their romance seems forced as the general feeling among the audience. Interestingly, married couples have not clicked on the silver screen. It happened with Dilip Kumar and Saira Banu. After their marriage they worked together in Gopi. This movie did well, maybe it was an initial curiosity. But, it was followed by spate of flops like Bairaag Sagina, Duniya. Post that producers did not take the chance of pairing them together. Dharmendra-Hema Malini were a hit pair before the marriage but after marriage they stopped working together. In the case of Big B and Jaya it seems slightly different. Before marriage both worked together in Zanjeer, Abhimaan, Ek Nazar, Bansi Birju. After marriage it was in Silsila, Chupke Chupke, Milli, Sholay but not as the main cast. Then they stopped working together. Rishi Kapoor-Neetu Singh were a hit pair but after marrying Rishi she stopped working. Saif Ali Khan and Kareena Kapoor worked in Tashan where the romance began. After marriage they came together for Agent Vinod and Kurbaan, both bombed, post that they have decided not to work together.

Cuttputtli Streaming On OTT Proves To Be Face Saving For Akshay Kumar

Cuttputtli’s release on OTT was actually a face saving for Akshay Kumar who has had series of flops like Laxxmi, Bell Bottom, Bachchan Pandey, Samrat Prithviraj Chauhan and Raksha Bandhan. Each of those films that bombed had a budget of around Rs 100 crore. Personally, it was no loss for Akshay as he charges fees and not percentage of profits as is the practice with some big stars. Trade experts feel that seasoned producer Vashu Bhagnani’s decision to release Cuttputtli on OTT was indeed a smart move. So is OTT a safe platform? Not really. Even Akshay, at the announcement of Cuttputtli‘s OTT streaming, said that this platform too needs audience approval. And he was bang on. There is a mixed reaction to the film on the OTT platform although the decision to go straight to OTT is economically safe for the makers. According to trade circles, the loser in this streaming deal of Akshay film is the OTT because a sub-standard film has been sold to them with makers and actors insulating themselves. Akshay Kumar has six to seven films in the pipeline and hopes he has realized that Ab thukpatti ka kaam nahi chalega. Trade experts have been saying that the 55-year old actor needs to carefully choose his subject and get into the skin of his character.

The Truth About Big B’s Views On ‘Brahmastra’

Contrary to media reports about Amitabh Bachchan predicting that Ranbir Kapoor-Alia Bhatt starrer Brahmastra would bomb at the box office those close to the project have maintained it is otherwise. It is learnt that the senior actor gave his suggestions and director Ayan Mukerji took Big B’s feedback seriously and reshot a few scenes. Reportedly, advance collections in Jaipur, Indore, and Patna circuits have been good. According to insiders, Bachchan is one of those actors who prefers to be on the set even if his shot is not happening at that particular time. In the case of younger lots they are ensconced in their vanity van and enter the set only when “their shot is ready”.  Big B, while waiting on the set, is known to give constructive suggestions and at times even gives cues to his co-stars if he is not in the frame. Aryan cleared the air while on an informal chat with the media that Amitji would be the first person to take his position during the shot and hang around the camera giving cues. It may be recalled that Amitabh had differences with Farhan Akhtar and Tinnu Anand while working for their films which was eventually sorted out. One of the reasons for stories doing rounds about the failure of Brahmastra could be Amitabh’s absence from its promotion.
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Huma Qureshi: The Maharani Who Picks And Chooses Roles

She has the potential of becoming the next Tabu of Bollywood. Thirty-six year old Huma Qureshi who has been winning hearts for her performance in Maharani 2 has been choosy about her roles ever since she entered Bollywood in 2012. Reportedly, during the shoot for a Samsung mobile commercial, producer-director Anurag Kashyap noticed her acting ability and signed her for Gangs of Wasseypur. Her performance got noticed, earning her several nominations and films. She is not the conventional kind of actress who tried to sing and dance but chose cinema that suited her career. Her boldness to do things that is required for the role made her Huma Qureshi.  She got appreciated in the role in Badlapur opposite Nawazuddin Siddiqui. Maharani in a way has become a game changer for this Delhi born and educated actress. She recently told India Today that “Maharani has unlocked a part of me that is unafraid and I want to explore more “. Of course like all Bollywood stars she too has had her share of controversy when her name was linked with Salman Khan’s youngest brother Sohail. Currently, Huma Qureshi has two projects Double XXL directed by her friend Mudassar Aziz which deals with body shaming. She plays a girl from Meerut. She will be also seen playing the role of Tarla Dalal, well known food writer, in a web series.

Will Ranbir Kapoor’s Brahmastra Break The Bollywood Jinx?

The general thinking was that Vijay Deverakonda starrer Ligor like all south movies KGF 2, RRR, and Pushpa released pan India over the last one year would be a big hit. Far from it. The latest news is that Liger has been mauled at the box office and hopes that the popular Telugu star Vijay Deverakonda would hold sway over Bollywood has been belied. Manoj Desai, owner of Gaiety-Galaxy, Maratha Mandir theatres in a social media message asked an arrogant Vijay to wake up and smell the coffee. Now, all eyes are riveted on Ranbir Kapoor’s starrer Brahmastra which has the backing of SS Rajamouli of Bahubali fame as a presenter down South. The marketing and promotions of the film seem to have impressed the fans of both Ranbir Kapoor and Alia Bhatt who will be seen for the first time on screen with her husband, Ranbir. The music of the film seems to have resonated well with the audience. Some trade sources say that Ranbir Kapoor has a good hold in Hindi and it is clear from the day one opening of Shamshera which opened with Rs 10 crore collections. It is the content that failed his box office success but this time tie-up with south’s bigwig will help the film.  So the question everybody wants an answer is: will Brahmastra break the jinx for Bollywood? Wait for a few days.
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Vijay Deverakonda: One More Telugu Star Getting Ready To Storm Bollywood

Trade buzz is that Vijay Deverakonda’s Liger has a better chance at the box office as it features a south star. Is the audience today more receptive to South films? Not really. Not all south films dubbed in Hindi or their remakes have been a success.  But, generally speaking movies starring Chiranjeevi, Ram Charan, Mohanlal have done well.  In the last one year films like KGF 2, RRR, and Pushpa recorded big draws in the Hindi belt.  A trade source said, “It’s not that all the movies are accepted. If the audience accepted three movies then they have also rejected 10 movies from the south. The general perception is that south films are better in narrative and presentation while Bollywood is failing to deliver on the content front.” Liger has been shot both in Hindi and Telugu languages and it marks the debut of Vijay Deverakonda, a huge star in Telugu film industry. His Telugu film Arjun Reddy remake Kabir Singh has been a huge hit in Hindi.  To project himself as a pan India star Vijay is going all out to promote Liger by chatting with social media influencers to visiting malls and eateries so as to make his face familiar to the north audience.  Interestingly, Vijay, who has a big fan base, is an outsider who made it big in the Telugu film industry by his sheer performance.
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Even After Series Of Flops Akshay Kumar Rules The Roost With Rs 1000 Crore Riding On Him

With several of his films bombing at the box office in quick succession the producers of Akshay Kumar’s next film Cuttputli are thinking of streaming it on the OTT platform. Akshay who has over Rs 1000 crore riding on him has had maximum releases and flops in the last two years. Even his latest release Raksha Bandhan was a super flop. Earlier, it was Samrat Prithviraj and Bachchhan Paandey. Atrangi Re was streamed on OTT platform but that too met with similar fate as it was also panned by the critics and all. While his producers are still in shock and trying to recover their investments, the actor has moved on signing up for more films. He is not affected as charges acting fees not percentage of profits. Today, Akshay has around seven films on hand. He is shooting for Selfie with Emran Hashmi and Ram Setu. He has to start shooting for Capsule Gill, Start Up, OMG 2, Khel Khel Mein, and Sajid Nadiadwala’s movie. In a politically sensitive environment where social media has become a powerful tool, jittery producers, seeing the fate of Aamir Khan’s Laal Singh Chadda, are wondering how to fight this boycott battle and recoup their investments. Looks like the producers will have to rethink content and choose stars who are politically neutral.
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Aamir Khan’s Past Utterances Hit Day One Advance Collections Of His Latest Movie

It really seems that people are refusing to forgive Aamir Khan for his utterances on the insecurity of living in India he made a few years back. And that is reflected in the box office collection of his latest movie Laal Singh Chaddha.  The day one advance is around Rs 14 crore which is really sad and is equivalent to that of a newcomer Kartik Aaryan film. Even trade pundits are shocked at the day one advance booking and feel Aamir’s Bharat darshan is also not helping. The actor did react to the boycott #LaalSinghChaddha campaign and told the media, “…I feel sad that some of the people who are saying this, in their heart, they believe that I am someone who doesn’t like India. In their hearts they believe, but it is untrue. It is rather unfortunate that some people feel that way. That’s not the case. Please don’t boycott my film. Please watch my film.” The first trailer of the film was panned by the critics and people, and since then the movie has only received negative publicity. The actor’s interviews, integration with south and word-of-mouth publicity by Bollywood watchers of the film hasn’t really been able to boost collections. Clearly, social media has become a strong tool and it can make or break a film. But, Bollywood watchers are hopeful that like all his films which catch up later so too will Laal Singh Chaddha and the movie-goers will not be disappointed.


Rashmika Mandana: The Southern Star Now On Mission Bollywood

Rashmika Mandana who has acted in Telugu, Kannada and Tamil films is already a popular household name in North India thanks to all-time hit Pushpa. Known as Srivalli in the movie, Rashmika seems to be a favourite of the paparazzi because unlike some young Bollywood actresses she never disappoints them; ever ready to pose for them. This 26-year old star who entered Bollywood in 2022 with Goodbye has signed several interesting Hindi movies. She will be closely working with Amitabh Bachchan in a movie directed by Vikas Bahl. Besides, she has already been signed for Pushpa 2 with Allu Arjun and has been cast opposite Siddharth Malhotra in Mission Majnu. According to a trade pundit, Rashmika is one of the most sought after actresses in Bollywood and has a huge draw even before her first Hindi film hit the big screen. There is a dearth of talent in Bollywood and a south addition was much needed. Down south Rashmika is a big star and her romance with another heart-throb Vijay Deverakonda only added to her popularity. Rashmika is the same actress who was trolled for doing Macho innerwear ad film that featured Vicky Kaushal. Looks like trolling has turned to her advantage as she appears in one too many ad films. The other southern sirens who are on Bollywood producer’s hot lists are: Samantha and Nayanthara.
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For Whom The Trolls Work?

Kangana Ranaut never misses an opportunity to take pot shots at some of the Bollywood bigwigs. The fearless actor is known for her bold tweets and political leanings. This time she has attacked Aamir Khan who has been facing the brunt of social media calling for a boycott of his latest movie Laal Singh Chhada. But, Kangana feels otherwise; she thinks it is the actor’s marketing ploy. On the Instagram, she wrote, “I think all the negativity around the upcoming release Laal Singh Chaddha is skilfully curated by mastermind Aamir Khan himself, this year no Hindi films have worked barring one exception of a comedy sequel….a Hollywood remake would not have worked anyway.” But, it was equally surprising to see that Akshay Kumar starrer Raksha Bandhan that will be released on the same day as Laal Singh Chadda was also trending on social media and the Bollywood buzz is that like Aamir it is Akshay Kumar who is behind the trolling of the film. The reason for Akshay being trolled is that the actor posted the tricolor on his social media DP that enraged the trolls and they called for a boycott of Raksha Bandhan. And Kangana’s overdrive on social media is being attributed to her way of getting attention for her next movie Emergency where she plays the role of Indira Gandhi.


Vaani Kapoor: The Lucky Star Who Got Big Breaks…Now Awaits Big Hits

She is Aditya Chopra’s discovery yet in spite of signing a three-film deal with his company Yash Raj Films (YRF) Vaani Kapoor has not been able to make a big mark in Bollywood. The 33-year old Delhi girl entered Bollywood in 2013 with YRF’s Shudh Desi Romance and won Filmfare Award for Best Female Debut for her character Tara. But, nine years later she has not exactly become the heartthrob of the cinema lovers. Some are questioning her capabilities as an actress, more so after her role as Sona in Shamshera opposite Ranbir Kapoor. Not only has the film flopped but even her role has come in for harsh criticism. Incidentally, Vaani, considered Aditya Chopra’s pet, has not found many takers outside YRF camp. In all she has acted in 7 films of which three has been produced by YRF. She did gain praise for a playing transgender woman in the romantic comedy Chandigarh Kare Aashiqui.  And she did dabble in Tamil cinema but post her role in Aaha Kalyanam there were no takers in south. Come to think of it, Vaani is one the few lucky stars to have a mentor like Aditya Chopra and work against big stars like Ranbir Kapoor, Hrithik Roshan and Akshay Kumar but big hits are eluding her. Maybe she needs to take tips from Deepika and Katrina.

What Works In Favour Of Disha Patani?

Disha Patani recently said she doesn’t like seeing herself on screen and closes her eyes but that isn’t the case with the audience who are still. Bearing with her despite her being the queen of all flops. Disha’s movie Ek Villain Returns will hit the screen shortly but there isn’t much buzz about the film at the box office in spite of a lot of publicity. The 29-year old, who made debut in 2015 in a Telugu film was noticed for her role in biopic MS Dhoni: The Untold Story. Ek Villain Returns will be her 16th release in her seven-year Bollywood career. But barring biopic MS Dhoni and Baaghi 2 which had her boyfriend Tiger Shroff as the hero she only has flops to her credit.  People within the industry say her claim to fame is being Tiger’s girlfriend and a favourite of Salman Khan with whom she has acted in two Bharat and Radhe and both bombed. So how do actresses like her get work? The simple answer is: there is a dearth of heroines in Bollywood; you can count the heroines on your fingertips. There are Sara Ali Khan, Tara Sutaria, Shraddha Kapoor, Kiara Advani, and Kriti Sanon. Besides what works in Disha’s favour is her looks and huge social media following. On Twitter alone she has 7.4 mn followers.

Do Bollywood Stars Retire Or Fade Out?

Eyebrows were raised when Sanjay Leela Bhansali signed on yesteryear’s popular heroine Mumtaz for his web series Heera Mandi. It was her second comeback attempt. Close on the heels followed news that Sharmila Tagore will be seen in a OTT film Gulmohar. So too yesteryear’s cabaret sensation Helen in a web series produced by Abhinay Deo. And what a comeback it has been for Neetu Kapoor in Jug Jugg Jeeyo. There is one advantage of being in showbiz, you don’t retire at 60. You can go on and on like Dadamuni; even if you get a lifetime achievement award. Sadhana preferred playing cards at Otters Club, Bandra every day and kept out of arc light because her looks had changed. Asha Parekh by choice gave up acting. But not others. Many aging stars like Waheeda Rehman, Zeenat Aman have kept themselves in limelight by doing stray films or making guest appearances on reality shows. Among male stars Dharmendra will be seen in Rocky Aur Rani Ki Prem Kahani and Apne 2. Jeetendra makes occasional appearances on reality shows but has kept away from the big screen. Raj Babbar and Shatrughan Sinha are part time actors and full time politicians. Mithun Chakraborty continues to work in films and judge reality shows. And one cannot forget Dev Anand who is a classic example of a star dying with his shoes on.

Taapsee Pannu: The Model From Delhi Who Has Created Her Own Space & Identity In Bollywood

Taapsee Pannu is 52 films old in Bollywood but this 35-year old actress hasn’t really got a role in mainstream film. In a recent media interaction, she even confessed when asked why doesn’t have films with big heroes — she did two with Big B —  to which Taapsee said that she does not get those kinds of films but carefully added that she now has one with Shah Rukh Khan. Taapsee is considered to be one of the actresses who can headline a film and do a decent job. She started with an out-and-out comedy Chashme Baddoor with David Dhawan and then with Judwaa 2 where she looked out of place. When offers from Bollywood dried up she acted in quite a few south films and made a mark. Impressed by her performance, filmmakers in the south started to write roles for her. Ditto: filmmakers in Mumbai. Anubhav Sinha, Anurag Kashyap, Neeraj Pandey gave her characters that made her stand out.  Baby, Naam Shabana, Thappad, and Haseen Dilruba were shouldered by her. In Shaabash Mithu, a biopic she plays the Indian captain Mithali Raaj.   A strong headed girl she got into trouble for her social media posts on some prickly social political issues. Looks like this model from Delhi has certainly created a space and identity in Bollywood and nobody can wish her away.
koffee with karan

A Lot Said Over Koffee With Karan

One of the longest running talk shows Koffee With Karan hosted by filmmaker and TV personality Karan Johar is back but with a difference. Season 7 is streaming on an OTT platform and not on Star World TV. From the kind of publicity Karan has been getting it seems the focus is on him not on the celebrities featuring on the show. Critics feel there is no novelty left in the show, only the platform has changed and the budget has gone up. They point out that the show is an exhibition of Karan’s circle of friends. And from the list of guests going around, it seems like the show is more about plugging his films Liger and Rocky Aur Rani Ki Prem Kahani, his cronies (plus those who show up at his birthday parties) and his south favorites Ram Charan and Prabhas. The previous seasons had actors like Kangana Ranaut who ribbed him and made headlines. Of course, his chat with cricketers Hardik Pandya and KL Rahul became controversial. The duo were suspended by BCCI for their misogynistic comments. Save for that most people interviewed by him are celebrities with whom he has great chemistry. Whatever his critics may say there is no gainsaying the fact that people do watch it and that explains why Koffee With Karan is into Season 7.
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Sanjay Dutt: To Hell & Back, Time And Again

In a way he is like a cat with nine lives. Sanjay Dutt, 63, is one actor who has had four comebacks in his career spanning over four decades. Dutt who has acted in over 187 films, just gave a super hit KGF 2 in which he plays an antagonist. Now everybody awaits the release of Shamshera where he is pitted against Ranbir Kapoor. Right from the word go it has been a roller-coaster ride for Baba, son of Sunil and Nargis Dutt. Launched in 1981 by his father in Rocky, Dutt made his mark as an actor in Mahesh Bhatt’s Naam. At a very early stage of his career he turned a drug addict and had to be rushed to the U.S. for treatment. When he came back, producers eagerly signed him — a rare thing in Bollywood. A broken marriage followed by his arrest for involvement in Mumbai’s serial bomb blast case did him in. Each time when it looked like his career was over he got a film like Khalnayak, Vaastav, Munnabhai MBBS that resurrected him. He came out of jail in 2016 after that most of his films flopped. While shooting for KGF 2 he was diagnosed with cancer but he did not give up. No wonder a biopic was made on him essaying ‘to hell and back’ story.


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.