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Rhea

@Tweet2Rhea

Rhea's Career In Suspended Animation With NCB, CBI Still On Her Tail

Boom to gloom sums up the life of 30-year old Rhea Chakraborty who made headlines when her beau Sushant Singh Rajput died of an unnatural death. Since then her life has been topsy-turvy. On September 8, 2020, she along with her brother Showik was arrested by Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) for supplying marijuana to Sushant. After cooling heels for 43 days Rhea managed to get bail and made efforts to get back into circulation. A number of producers were keen but none signed for fear the drug case relating to Sushant was not closed. And their fears were not unfounded. On June 22, 2022, NCB filed draft charges against Rhea and Showik before a special court in connection with a drugs case linked to Sushant’s death. It may be recalled that the late actor’s family had accused the actress of abetment to suicide and siphoning off the actor’s money. In fact, Sushant’s sister Priyanka reacted to NCB’s chargesheet; so it is definitely not going to be easy for the Chehre girl. While her talent management company continues to work for her, a matured Rhea is taking everything in her stride; making public appearances, going to gym in the hope she will be back on the big screen or OTT platform. As for the money part, Rhea who has nearly 2.3 lakh followers on Twitter gets paid for her social media posts.
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Fotocorp

Shilpa Shetty’s Comeback Dream Shattered As Two Films In A Row Bomb

Actor-dancer-reality show judge Shilpa Shetty has always been in the limelight. Yet, she yearned to return to the big screen. Towards this the 47-year fitness freak signed two films Nikamma and Hungama 2. Unfortunately, both films flopped thereby crashing her comeback dream after 14 years. It is learnt that Rohit Shetty has signed her to play as a cop for an OTT series. This role could be a game changer for her. Shilpa who made her debut in 1993 with Baazigar was an average actor but a great dancer. Her move to reality TV shows as a judge worked in her favour.  She has been part of that ecosystem since 2006. The star, known for her videos on yoga, shot to fame after participating in the UK reality show Celebrity Big Brother. She received international media coverage for the racism she faced by her fellow contestants and for eventually winning the show. Like Shilpa, there are many actors scripting their comeback. Neetu Kapoor who returned to films after a long gap has won accolades for her role in Jug Jugg Jeeyo. She has already signed a web series and is judging a reality show.  Bhagyashree who returned with a cameo in Thalaivi will now be judging a reality show. And finally An Evening In Paris gal, Sharmila Tagore too makes a comeback.
Bobby Deol

‘Baba Nirala’ Gives Bobby Deol A New Lease Of Life

Baba Nirala of Aashram has given Bobby Deol a new lease of life. Now, everybody takes the 53-year old actor seriously. It has been a chequered career for Bobby Deol ever since he made his debut with Barsaat in 1995. Post that it was almost like one film a year for a few years and then with most of his movies bombing no producers were willing to sign him on. No work saw him hitting the bottle.  Once while meeting Salman Khan over a drink, Bobby said “Let me climb on your back…give me opportunity”. Big hearted Sallu bhai strongly recommended him for Race 3. That was in 2018. Though the movie did not do well Bobby’s role as Yash Singh was well appreciated to land him two movies – Housefull 4 and Class Of ’83 – in quick succession. For this Dharmendra’s second son, family meant everything; he did everything whatever his father or brother would say. In a way he was cocooned and that perhaps cost him dearly in terms of choosing the script. Even though Bobby has worked in nearly 50 movies yet cinema-goers can’t recall any of the characters or dialogues from any of his movies.  But, people do remember his elder brother Sunny Deol’s movies, characters and Dhai Kilo Ka Haath dialogue. Aashram which is now into Season 3 has given him that recognition.
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Fotocorp

Akshay’s Flop Show Trends At Box Office, Time For Instrospection Say Critics

Lady Luck seems to have stopped smiling on actor-producer Akshay Kumar. The 55-year-old Bollywood money making machine, with over 100 films, faced a series of flops in recent times. But, he is unfazed as he personally suffered no monetary losses. The moment a film bombs he completely cuts himself off from the project and moves on to the next one. These days Kumar takes pride in the fact that he created a record of sorts, producing and acting in the maximum number of films during the Lockdown. However, not all the films were successful. Laxxmi was OTT streamed, Bell Bottom got panned by critics and Sooryavanshi was an average hit only thanks to Rohit Shetty. Bachchan Pandey also bombed at the box office.  It was the third flop in a row for Sajid Nadiadwala but, didn’t really impact Akshay Kumar. As is his wont, he went on to promote Samrat Prithviraj Chauhan and dropped out of the promotions when it too flopped. Well-known trade analyst Komal Nahta aptly summed up Akshay’s problems. He says Akshay needs to carefully choose his subject and get into the skin of the character. For instance, in Samrat Prithviraj Chauhan he looked like Akshay, not the character he was playing. Perhaps his political alignment has not gone down well with his fans.
Salman khan

Real Life Villain Bishnoi Threatens Salman, Bhai Shoots In Hyderabad for Bhaijaan, Black Buck Day Returns

Fifty-seven and yet, Bollywood’s eligible bachelor Salman Khan’s run in news columns continues for the right or wrong reasons. This time the reel life hero was targeted by a real-life villain Lawrence Bishnoi, the gangster who bumped off singer Sidhu Moose Wala over an old killing of his own aide by Moose Wala’s personal aide. After an anonymous letter threatened Salman and his father Salim Khan, the actor told police he was clueless, nor did he suspect anyone. Khan flew to Hyderabad to shoot the Bhaijaan movie thereafter. His stand-up macho act to criminal intimidation won him admiration among fans. The commercially successful star was linked up to with one too many affairs naming Sangeeta Bijalani, Somy Ali to Aishwaraya Rai and Katrina Kaif but, mostly ended up with bad press for alleged physical intimidation bordering on domestic abuse blamed on him by his girl-friends. The Bhai remained unfazed and bounced back professionally. He was acquitted in the Bandra hit-and-run case, but the Black Buck shooting case continues to still haunt him.  The Bishnoi gang’s linkages to the community that had Salman arrested for killing of black buck deer is the latest buzz. Khan‘s 44 million followers on Twitter are hard at work.
Nayantara (1)

@VigneshShivN

Super Star Nayanthara Ties The Knot With Ace Director Vignesh Culminating Seven Year Courtship

At long last they are married. After a seven-year love story, amid now-on-now-off rumours regarding actress Nayanthara’s wedding with writer-director Vignesh Shivan, it finally happened at a 5-Star resort in Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu, amid a vetted down guest list of 200 people, digital invitations and QR codes in place. Reportedly, Nayanthara wanted a Tirupati Balaji temple wedding. But the Netflix offer of Rs 25 crore for telecast rights for an orchestrated ceremony was too good to resist. Nayan, the savvy entrepreneur, quickly course corrected towards a resort wedding. The Vicky-Katrina wedding had set benchmarks of monetisation. The guest list read like a K Town compendium — Rajini, Kamal, Karthi, Vijay, Sethupathi, AR Rahman to name a few. Rajini did the ritual honour of giving the ‘thali, maangalyam’ (mangalsutra) to Vignesh, who has waited seven long years to snag one of the most wooed and striking stars from K town. Ace director Gautam Vasudev Menon directed the 2-hour proceedings in his inimitable style ensuring a slick event with an ensemble cast. Nayan’s vermilion clingy saree, the beautifully embossed choli (with Lakshmi motifs), heavy emerald and polky diamond jewellery vied for attention with Nayan’s drop dead gorgeous looks. Shah Rukh Khan with director Atlee sashayed in style to wish his Jawan heroine loads of happiness. Next to follow is the high-octane reception at the Grand Chola.
x-prem bengali movie

TMC MLA’s Movie Gets Screening Preference At State-Run Nandan Theatre While Award Winning Director Srijit Mukherji Denied Slot

Four-time National award-winning director Srijit Mukherji’s film X=Prem was declined screening slots at the iconic state-run Nandan theatre. Director-cum-Trinamool Congress MLA Raj Chakraborty’s film Habji Gabji got an afternoon slot though. Srijit tweeted, “Two films released on the same day. Both applied for Nandan. But, only one got through. Whereas ideally and in all fairness either both or neither should have. Why did this happen? Though all films are equal, some films are apparently more equal than others :-).” Raj Chakraborty’s counter was quick stating, “I don’t want publicity through controversy because the film will speak the final (last) word.”  Mukherji later clarified that his question was addressed to the state government’s information and cultural affairs department, which did not cite any reason while denying him the daytime slot. Interestingly, the reason why producers clamour for the state -run theatres, especially Nandan, is because 50% of the revenue earned at the state-run theatres goes to the producers after GST deduction. The rule is applicable for the first week of release and, thereafter the amount drops to 40% in week two and so on. In the recent past, director Anik Dutta’s film Aparajita, based on legendary filmmaker Satyajit Ray’s journey on his masterpiece creation Pather Panchali, was denied screening at Nandan as Dutta is anti-TMC.
Shahrukh & Atlee

Fotocorp

Will Jawan Tamil Director Atlee’s Hand, Restore The Midas Touch For King Khan?

Even as Atlee tried to convey his excitement about directing the King Khan in a much talked about pan India film, Jawan, the goose bumps were evident. When the deal was signed, Atlee in a teary tweet said, “I have grown up watching his movies, lapping up every Khan nuance. And now directing him….it is unbelievable. I am blessed “. Atlee has hit the mother lode in his very first Bollywood venture by getting to direct Shah Rukh Khan. Of late, a number of Bollywood films, five to be precise, could not match up to the box office takings of many south Indian movies. SRK’s choice of Atlee for Jawan, produced by his wife Gauri Khan, is seen as an acknowledgement of this 35-year-old director with the Midas touch. Trained under S Shankar, Atlee has given Tamil hits like Raja Rani, Theri, Mersal, Beast and Bigil. For good measure Jawan has Kollywood Lady Super Star, Nayanthara in the lead, with Sunil Grover and Sanya Malhotra adding more glitter to the awesome twosome. Rock star Anirudh Ravichander who scores the music is bound to Amp up the quotient. The teaser is out and SRK’s role has triggered excitement. Could Atlee’s Midas touch work in Bollywood which in recent times has seen strings of flops? One has to wait till June 2023 for the answer!
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Fotocorp

Can Kangana Buck The Downhill Trend, Retain Bankable Star Status Again?

Since releasing on May 20, Kangana Ranaut starrer Dhaakad earned a measly Rs 3 crore indicating its box-office status. Kangana can now boast of four consecutive flops including Thalavi, Panga, and Judgemental Hai Kya; although Manikarnika did reasonably well. The fiercely independent, strong minded-star had proved she can carry a movie single-handedly without needing the crutches of the Khans, Kapoors or, even the Kumars. Lately, however, she is going through a bad patch as far as her movies are concerned. Every star has experienced cyclical ups and downs, be it Rajesh Khanna, Amitabh Bachchan or, Rekha. Does the string of flops make Kangana any less a bankable star today? A senior trade analyst says, “It will be difficult for her to get the same kind of investment that she got in the past. Films already on the floor will continue but a correction is bound to happen in the way her (future) films are made.” Currently, she has two films in the pipeline – Sita and Tejas.  The latter is produced by Ronnie Srewvala. Perhaps, the fiery star with strong political leanings is making up with people on the Bollywood front. She was recently spotted at Salman Khan’s event. Bollywood watchers say her best hope could be Tanu Weds Manu 3 which Anand L Rai is planning. She could bounce back again.
am

AR Rahman Asks Mani Ratnam To Reshoot Portions Of ‘Ponniyin Selvan’ To Better Sync With His Music?

Cinema-goers in Tamil Nadu are eagerly awaiting the September release of Mani Ratnam’s magnum opus, Ponniyin Selvan, the five part literary Tamil classic of late Kalki. But the Kollywood chatter tower is abuzz with speculation that the film release date may be delayed. Reason: AR Rahman wanted some parts of the movie to be reshot, more to align with his music, as he is not happy with how some scenes might sync with his captivating music. Kollywood is shocked. Mani Ratnam, the master of cinematic excellence must have never encountered such requests. He is well known for his creative collaboration, not disruptive collision. It is also hard to believe that Oscar winner Rahman would interfere in Ratnam’s creativity. With an ensemble cast of Aishwarya Rai (playing the lead), Trisha, Vikram, Karthi, Jayam Ravi, Sarath Kumar, Keerthi Suresh, and Prakash Raj, one would think Ratnam had enough divas to choreograph, and conjure that magic to the screen with his stamp of class even for the mass. Meanwhile, Mani Ratnam fans are keen awaiting the release of the first Part 1 this September and they are sure it will be a rewarding experience. And everybody knows such hiccups apart, once the film is screened Mani Ratnam’s signature will be all over.
Nawazuddin Siddiqui

Nawazuddin Siddiqui Says Art Cinema Has No Takers, Can Circulate At Film Fests But Not In Theatres

While at The Kapil Sharma Show to promote Heropanti2, actor Nawazuddin Siddiqui was asked to define art cinema, “Art cinema means …when 8 people watch it.” The cynical comment from some who studied at the National School of Drama, New Delhi and made a name in art cinema was disliked by patrons in the art cinema world. But, that is what success does to people. Siddiqui, who was at the Cannes Film Festival, is a rank outsider who made it big in Bollywood in spite of his ordinary looks. The 48-year-old actor made his debut with a small role in Aamir Khan’s movie Sarfarosh. He struggled for a decade before making it big and movies like The Lunchbox, Manto, Raman Raghav to name just a few. Reportedly, he is the sole actor in the world with 8 films selected and screened at Cannes. Salman Khan took a shine to him, and cast Nawaz in two films. The first actor to make his mark in the OTT world with Sacred Games finds there are no takers for his films. While at Cannes he told Union minister Anurag Thakur that films that get appreciation at festivals find no place for a theatrical release. He continues to make news be it for his messy marriage or building an all-white bungalow in Mumbai’s western suburb.
bhool-bhulaiyaa

Kartik Aaryan’s Bhool Bhulaiyaa2 Breaks Bollywood Jinx, Karan Johar Who Dropped Him Blinks

When Karan Johar and Shah Rukh Khan dropped Kartik Aaryan from their respective projects over “creative differences” the industry felt it was the end of the road for this Gwalior boy. However, the big daddies of Bollywood were proved wrong, thanks to the late Sushant Singh Rajput, industry support followed Kartik Aaryan. Three producers signed him on right away including Anees Bazmee for Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2. The movie is a hit and raked in more than Rs 55 crore at the national box office. Kartik has broken the Bollywood jinx of the box office and his performance silenced those who wrote him off. Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2 is like the oasis in the desert for Bollywood that witnessed five big releases bombing consecutively involving top actors Akshay Kumar and Tiger Shroff. Amitabh Bachchan and Ajay Devgn also failed miserably with Runway 34 as did Rajkummar Rao’s Badhai Do. Ranveer Singh’s Jayeshbhai Jordaar had also flopped. A worried Karan Johar, set to release Jug Jug Jeeyo conceded Aryan’s success without naming him. Johar exuded happiness on the Friday Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2 release while hoping the streak continued. Kartik has three films in the pipeline with many producers waiting to sign him on.
Salman

PHOTO: Twitter

Sallu’s Casting Director Fetish, Makes Industry Bosses Squeamish

Is Salman Khan playing Bollywood Sugar-Daddy? So, it seems and, has been for some time now. Few are vocal or, even make it an issue preferring to instead, quietly drop out of projects. His growing interference came to fore once again when his favourite Bigg Boss contestant Shehnaaz Gill was signed up for Kabhi Eid Kabhi Diwali. Sources say Salman took issue with producer Sajid Nadiadwala, his best friend, over the star cast including co-stars Arshad Warsi and Shreyas Talpade. Salman apparently pitched Zaheer Iqbal and Aayush SHarma for the respective roles instead. Probably, one of the reasons Sajid walked out of the Kabhi Eid Kabhi Diwali project. It appears that economic viability does not bother Salman. Those who have known him closely say he always got involved with star casting and pushed his personal preferences for films he signed up for. Even in the past, he did the same to co-star with Raveena Tandon and Karisma Kapoor. In recent times Daisy Shah and Jacqueline Fernandez were his choice of co-stars. He was also the one who pushed Katrina Kaif for Bharat after Priyanka Chopra opted out. Sometime back a well-known and favourite director of the actor preferred to shelve his film rather than giving into the actor’s whims and fancy over who he should sign up or not.
Archies

Zoya’s The Archies Film Takes Star Kids On, Kicks Up Online Storm, Bollywood Insider Vs Outsider Debate Rages On

The untimely death of Sushant Singh Rajput kicked up national outrage over nepotism and debate on the outsider vs insider discrimination in Bollywood.  Zoya Akhtar’s latest project The Archies adds more grist to the mill. This film, directed by an established insider Zoya, will launch Shah Rukh Khan’s daughter Suhana Khan, Sridevi’s daughter Khushi Kapoor and Amitabh Bachchan’s grandson Agatsya Nanda. Interestingly, the parents of all these star kids have respective home productions but, are being launched by Zoya Akhtar, the unconventional producer known for his content driven cinema.  It is an unconventional launch for the youngsters. While Zoya cannot escape nepotism allegations as she chose the Bollywood insiders to star in the film. One would have thought SRK and Big B would avoid playing it up on social media out of fear of being trolled but, both just went ahead and tweeted emotional posts. Guari Khan wrote: `Suhana you did it’ and Amitabh Bachchan said, “Rise of the Son’’. The nepotism debate was immediately sparked off online as netizens passed judgement on the actors as white kids minus a Suhana Khan. Whether it was talent or nepotism that launched these star kids will be settled soon enough. Yes, these star kids will have to prove to the world that they carry the genes of their superstar parents.
OTT

OTT India Grows Regional Traction, Induces Faster Netflix Contractions, Leading To Viewer Tariff Rate Attractions

As if competition from local Indian players was not enough, mainline OTT players are now facing heat from a fresh wave of regional players. Following in the footsteps of Zee 5, Sony Liv, Voot et all are MX Player in Hindi, Tamil, Malayalam, Bhojpuri, Punjabi, Bengali, Alt-Balaji and Eros in Hindi, Hoichoi in Bangla, Aha in Telugu, now expanding into Tamil, Kannada and Malayalam, Manorama Max, Neestream and Koode in Malayalam, Kanncha Lannka in Odiya, My Toonz (Kids OTT in Hindi and English). And, so many more are still lining up. Why is the Indian market turning out to be a different ball game? None of the big players are standalone entities like Netflix. Disney has the backing of Star group and Hot Star, Amazon Prime has Amazon Shopping and online services, Zee 5 has the Zee TV group, Sony Liv is with Sony TV group, Viacom 18 boasts of Paramount + while Sun Next has the parent Sun group. And if this was not enough, there is a new entrant in the form of the James Murdoch-Uday Shankar combine tying up with Reliance’s Jio Cinema. Competition is sizzling up in the OTT space with viewers beginning to feel like kings.
Kamala Hasaan

Kamal Haasan's Dirty Dance Gets Vocal, Makes Political Angst Focal, Hasn't Had Enough, Sings Pathala Pathala!

In just four days of streaming on YouTube, Kamal Haasan set a world record crooning the first song from his action-thriller movie Vikram. The electric rhythm and electrifying lyrics of Pathala, Pathala (can’t have enough) have sent his legion of fans into ecstatic frenzy. Kamal’s team pulled out all the stops to make Vikram and its music a customised stimulating experience. The ensemble cast including 67-year old Haasan has Vijay Sethupathi, Fahadh, Kalidas Jayaram and, a cameo by Surya. No prizes for guessing the ingredients for this potpourri action thriller directed by Lokesh Kanagaraj in which Kamal dons khakhi. It is pure Chennai petta rap like Bombaiya, full of irreverent political innuendos, taking on both the Center and the ruling party, besides other public Rasputins. Sweet revenge for all his failures? Ultimately, what nails this song is Kamal’s energetic tempo of dirty dancing that has pumped up hysteria. A crazed fan adds, “What Rajini got with a lifetime of style, Kamal has belted out in one song “. Is Janaki meant to take on a Tamil Nadu BJP functionary? Already, an obfuscated vigilante has filed a case against the song for its controversial lyrics. Both Kamal’s political avatar and cinematic charisma sorely need an upturn. Let’s hope it doesn’t turn out to be pathala, pathala….just not enough.
Jayeshbhai Jordaar

Bollywood Cinema Continues Its Flop Show Run, Missing Content Wakes Up Tinsel Town

One more movie has bombed at the box office. Ranveer Singh starrer Jayeshbhai Jordaar. It is the fourth actor driven film that has evoked poor audience response. Earlier, it was Bachchhan Pandey, Jersey, and Heropanti2. Only exception in recent times was Gangubai Kathiawadi; it had versatile actress Alia Bhatt and star director Sanjay Leela Bhansali. Bollywood stars and directors need to understand that a new class of audience is emerging post-Covid pandemic. These people not only seem to smell the film in advance but have also developed a palate for OTT content and South Cinemas. Akshay Kumar must have had maximum releases in the last two years but has a poor success rate. Salman Khan’s attempt to save Antim by visiting theatres did not save the film and even Tiger Shroff who has strong youth connect had the first flop (Heropanti2) to his credit. The South Indian cinemas are thriving on star power supported by a very strong content. But in Bollywood content seems to be given short shrift. The message that is coming out loud and clear is signing up top class stars is no insurance any more. The days of star power are over. Time Bollywood wakes up and smells the coffee lest the south based stars dubbing in Hindi will emerge as the real alternative.
Netflix

Sliding Viewership On Netflix, Prompts Subscriber Tariff Rejig, For More Online Clicks

Netflix watched its subscription base lose around 900,000 viewers with 700,000 losses attributed to the Russia-Ukraine war and, 200,000 blamed upon other markets. To arrest viewership loss, Netflix is introducing a password sharing fee in the U.S. and other markets. It intends to generate more revenue from existing subscribers, one connection with multiple users. First introduced in Latin American markets, a progress report is awaited but, media pundits predict a further downslide of 10 to 13% in the U.S.A, post launch. After all, the choice is multi-fold. In India too, things aren’t moving as planned. Despite a first mover advantage, Netflix couldn’t hit the bullseye. Indications that more than 50% of content under production is on hold including season two of Delhi Crime. The current Indian content has failed to achieve desired traction milestones. An overhaul, review and new creative ideas are on the cards. Netflix slashed subscription rates a couple of months back to Rs 149 for its mobile pack and Rs 199 for mobile/TV packs. An update is anticipated. Netflix started with a bang with series like Fauda, House of Cards, Peaky Blinders, Money Heist, Friends and Indian series like Sacred Games. Renewed interest piqued through the Korean Series — Squid Game, 365 Days, and now Kota Factory. The latest blockbuster attraction — Gangubai Kathiawadi is expected to renew viewer interest in Netflix.
Rocketry

Maddy’s Directorial Debut Features Rocket Science, ISRO Scientist’s Trials, Tribulations Had Rocked Indian Conscience

Known for his gentlemanly demeanor, actor R Madhavan who enjoys a pan India appeal finds himself zooming into space with his directorial debut Rocketry: The Nambi Effect. The biopic is based on the life of Nambi Narayanan, former scientist and aerospace engineer from ISRO, who was falsely accused of espionage. Written and directed by him, Maddy as he is popularly known essays the key role. He has chosen a story as thrilling as a rocket launch into space, and also depict Nambi’s life who was jailed, tortured and forced to confess to a crime he did not commit. He was exonerated and acquitted subsequently. Making amends the Indian government decorated him with a Padma Bhushan. Maddy has struck platinum as the film will be screened at Cannes on May 19, in the prime time 9 pm slot, as India’s entry for the Red-Carpet world premier and inaugural of the 75th Independence Day Palaise De Festival. “As a debutante, of course, I am nervous, I hope Rocketry brings glory to India “. The movie made in three languages – English, Tamil and Hindi – was extensively shot in France, Canada and Georgia. The world premiere is on July 1, 2022. Madhavan’s choice of subject that has all the ingredients — intrigue, skull-duggery and glory – seems the best lift-off for a debutante.
Heropanti 2

Tiger Shroff’s Needs Better Than Heropanti2 Content, As Bollywood Stars Fall Essaying Stories With No Real Intent

After Akshay Kumar (Bachchan Pandey), Bollywood star Shahid Kapur (Jersey) too disappointed fans. Then Tiger Shroff’s latest movie Heropanti2 bombed at the box office. Surprisingly, audiences preferred to go to theatres to watch the dubbed version of Kannada movie KGF 2 and not Heropanti2. This was strange! Has something gone wrong for Bollywood that audiences refuse to even enter cinema halls? Marathi films like Sher Shivraj and Chandramukhi drew better crowds than Tiger’s movie. Trade pundits are at pains explaining that the true villain is poor content. Be that as it may, Tiger Shroff needs to reinvent himself.  Sculpted body, martial fights and dance cannot propel his career much further. The 32-year-old action hero — son of Jackie and Ayesha Shroff — impressed everybody in his first movie Heropanti in 2014.  This was followed by hits like Baaghi and War. In War his talent came to the fore against Hrithik Roshan. Well-wishers feel Tiger, with a huge fan following, should pick and choose his scripts and directors; stop working with directors who aren’t really film makers. He has a couple of interesting projects in the pipeline like Ganapath, an action film directed by Vikas Bahl and the remake of Bade Miyan Chhote Miyan with Akshay Kumar.  Both movies will decide Tiger’s future. Will the Tiger roar or whimper? Only time will tell.

Ajay Devgn Courts Hindi Controversy To Avoid Rocky Landing On Runway 34?

Every producer-director suffers pre-release jitters. Ajay Devgn has also caught anxiety before the release of Runway 34 in the wake of South Indian movies, dubbed in Hindi, smashing box office records and newer audiences veering towards OTT. So, he apparently courted controversy over Hindi with Kannada star Kichha Sudeep. There is little doubt he reaped good publicity too but, Devgn could not anticipate fresh controversy to emanate from another quarter. The Federation of Indian Pilots has thrown turbulence his way and stated, “The profession of airline pilots was unrealistically portrayed in the movie and may create apprehensions in the minds of nervous fliers. While we all enjoy being entertained and appreciate the artistic licence of a movie director, a thrilling tale should not be perceived as a true depiction.” Cinema buffs saw through Devgn’s story content, for stark similarities it bears to two acclaimed aviation dramas. The Captain, a 2019 film, portrayed the real-life drama of Sichuan Airline Flight 8633 which made an emergency landing at Chengdu Shuagliu International Airport after its cockpit windshield crashed. The other is the 2009 Clint Eastwood production Sully starring Tom Hanks. The flight from LaGuardia, was hit by a flock of geese forcing an emergency landing on the Hudson river with 155 lives on board. Sully was grilled by the National Aviation Safety Board while Devgn faced baritone Bachchan.
KGF-laxmi-bomb

Not Many Takers For Bollywood Remakes, South Indian Stars Shine Pan India, Make Hay

Two distinct trends emerged from Bollywood. It has run out of original story ideas resorting to remakes of popular south Indian movies increasingly, to maintain the Hindi film industry churn. Secondly, it is a bad copycat. Two remakes Laxmmi Bomb and Bachchan Pandey, starring Akshay Kumar failed the box office collections. Latest to join the flop list is Jersey, featuring Shahid Kapur and Mrunal Thakur. Producer-director Ram Gopal Varma tweeted: “The DISASTROUS fate of the film JERSEY in Hindi signals the DEATH of REMAKES for the simple reason it has been proved multiple times, that dubbed films like #Pushpa #RRR #KGF2 are doing far better than originals, if the content is good.”  It’s very likely that no south (Indian) film with good content will sell its remake rights. Kannada superstar Kiccha Sudeep rubbed it in saying Bollywood was struggling, with even its dubbed versions in Tamil and Telugu failing at the box office. Southern stars have stormed the film industry and assumed Pan India (actor) identities. One of the reasons for Bollywood taking a hit on the stories front is because most good writers have shifted to OTT platforms. It’s about time the Bollywood fraternity came together and scripted a strategy to regain eroding industry hold. Will Bollywood get its next ACIONS right?
Vignesh_Shican_Movie

Vignesh Shivan Lines Up Nayantara Starrer For World Premiere, As The Two Will Become One In Near Future

Vignesh Shivan and K Town superstar Nayantara are set to tie the knot, an event fans have waited for with baited breath. The couple has been dating, dating some more, and on a still dating status for long now. Further testing how much more waiting besotted fans could take…the couple’s production company Rowdy Pictures is now ready with Tamil romantic comedy Kaathuvaakila Rendu Kathal for worldwide release on April 28 April. Directed by Shivan, starring crowd puller Vijay Sethupathi, pitching his love to two of the most winsome ladies from down South, Nayantara and Sexy Samantha Ruth Prabhu, she of Pushpa The Rise and The Family Man hit series, and spiced up with Anirudh Ravichander’s hot music, the film makes no pretensions to serious cinema. The cherry on the cake, the film will be distributed by Udhayanidhi Stalin’s Red Giant Movies. The makers plan to simultaneously release a Telugu dubbed version as Kanmani Rambo Khati. What more could fans want? The excitement quotient has doubled with the film’s teasers promising a romantic comedy, a raunchy race, rife with ribald dialogues and the promise of a hero Rambo romancing two hot heroines — Khadija and Kanmani. If fantasy and escapism is what fans are seeking, this movie is already paisa vasool.
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Aby’s Baby Needs More Passionate Work, To Stoke Filmy Career

Ever since he signed his first movie Refugee in 2000, there has been no respite for 46-year-old Abhishek Bachchan. He is constantly compared with his larger-than-life father Amitabh Bachchan. Is this comparison even justified? Abhishek has acted in 73 films in his 22 years career, even made a mark in films like Sarkar, Dhoom, Yuva and Guru. He carved a space for himself, worked with big banners and famous directors, yet that big moment has eluded him – the role to catapult him into the big league. There were a lot of expectations from The Big Bull where he played scamster Harshad Mehta but, he lost out to the web series Scam 1992 played by Pratik Gandhi over timing of the release. He got praise for his role as an uneducated politician in Dasvi though it was not a box office hit.  Bob Biswas also failed to propel him. So, what worked against Junior Bachchan? A respected source says “Abhishek, unlike his father, does not give a 100% for every movie. In some movies he goes the whole hog while in others it seems like he is disinterested.” If he wants to step into the Big B’s shoes he has to put 150% into all the roles he plays – big or small. Only then will his Oscar moment arrive!
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Apolitical Maestro Ilaiyaraja Changes His Tune, Praises Modi Stoking Dravidian Fury, Made Nominee To Rajya Sabha Too

No doubt, he is Tamil Nadu‘s treasure and pure and unadulterated symphony for cinema. Ilaiyaraja became a household name for his resonating music and giving consistent hits as composer and singer for over 30 years. Isaignani (Saint Musician) as he is referred to (an encomium conferred by Kalaignar) has over 7,000 songs to his credit. He is Asia’s first symphony writer and even A R Rahman’s Oscar has never daunted the music Raja, the acknowledged doyen of the music industry. Suddenly though, controversy surrounds the Raja. Has he moved from Sangeet to become a Sanghi? There is no smoke without fire and Ilaiyaraja himself stoked the flames and his reputation as a professional without any political leanings. His foreword to a book titled, Ambedkar & Modi, Reformer’s ideas, Performer’s Implementation launched by BlueKraft Digital Foundation, has stirred up a hornet’s nest. Raja further gilded this lily by making a comparison of the two titans, with brother Gangai Amaran serving as his mouthpiece. Even as media talking heads and YouTubers analysed his claim, news has leaked out that President Ramnath Kovind received a list of three names from the world of Art and Entertainment to nominate as Rajya Sabha members. So, one of the names is that of Ilaiyaraja. The penny has dropped with a loud clink.
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Akshay Kumar Swore Against Tobbaco Endorsements, Now Trolled Over Pan Masala Advertisement

Akshay Kumar was trolled for endorsing a pan masala ad Vimal Elaichi that has featured Ajay Devgn and Shah Rukh Khan earlier. The commercial promotes the elaichi brand of the product but, the company also makes gutka and the actor, known to be a fitness icon, is on record saying he would never endorse any tobacco brand and has come under fire. Although there was no response from the brand or an apology from either party, it may be recalled that Amitabh Bachchan had returned the money earned from the Kamla Pasand advertisements after being trolled by his fans. In this age of social media, trolling is part of the game with celebrities prepared to face the music though it seems like most brands don’t really bother about the trolls. Like Telgu-Kannada actress Rashmika Mandana was trolled for ogling at Vicky Kaushal’s innerwear brand Macho Sporto, Kartik Aaryan for sporting fake abs for a hair removing brand; neither stars or advertisers really bothered.  Till only a few years ago, these stars would have lost their contracts, had the ads pulled off air. It happened to Aamir Khan when he used the word “intolerance” in one news interview. Recall how yesteryear super models Milind Soman and Madhu Sapre were dragged to court for posing nude for the Tuff Shoes Ad with a python wrapped around them.
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Alia-Ranbir Have A Homely Do, Tie The Knot At Vastu, Karan Does A Jig Too!

It was not the big fat Punjabi wedding many had expected. Ranbir Kapoor and Alia Bhatt decided on a low-key affair at their Bandra residence ‘Vastu’. Both consciously chose a simple marriage over a celebrity event, with all the associated drama and restricted it to their families and a few close friends, while keeping the paparazzi, politicians, celebrities and industrialists out of the picture. An invitee at the wedding said: “If you ask me how it was different from other celebrity weddings, the word is, simplicity.” Many who expected invitations were thoroughly disappointed and of course, best man Ayan Mukerji features in all the frames. So does Karan Johar. Alia-Ranbir were seeing each other for five years and, merely decided to give their relationship the official tag of “Just married”. On social media, Neetu Kapoor posted: “This is dedicated to Kapoor Saab (red heart emoji). Your wish has been fulfilled.” It was a family get together, with mehndi and sangeet on the same day with choreographer Rajendra Singh who arranges dances at all the Kapoor weddings. Attendees said it was full of fun and laughter as it is, in all Kapoor household weddings. There was singing and dancing that wouldn’t have been complete without Alia and Karan Johar grooving to the “Radha, Tera Jhumka song from Alia’s first movie Student Of The Year.
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Superstar Vijay Tastes Failure With His Latest Release, That’s Just The Nature Of The ‘Beast’

Thalapathy Vijay’s vast army of fans who waited with bated breath for his latest release Beast were disappointed, going by reactions of those exiting cineplexes, where frowns and let down feelings were clearly evident. After Kolamavu Kokila and an acknowledged hit in Doctor, the heady combination of director Nelson, action czar Vijay and foot tapper Anirudh was expected to set the box office on fire.  While fans don’t blame their hero Vijay, who captures every frame with style and pizzaz, they are disappointed with the weak story line and at Nelson for “wasting the actor’s immense talent “. Clashes between fans of filmstars Ajit and Vijay over perceived popularity ratings and ability to deliver more hits is infamous. Currently, after Ajit’s Valimai also faltered, petering out within days of release, both are left standing on the same pedestal. Sun Pictures left no stone unturned to pull off another superhit, including pre-release publicity stunts, exclusive interviews with Vijay claiming this as his best performance in over a decade! Beast’s music by Anirudh with two chart busters in Arabic Kuthu and Jolly O Gymkhana became chart-toppers and loved by fans. Beast has followed quickly in the footsteps of the commercial failure Radhe Shyam. Fan frenzy for Thalapathy notwithstanding, the diamond did not get its perfect setting to shine.
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Sajid Nadiadwala Quits Kabhi Eid Kabhi Diwali, Producer Feels Friend Salman Is Too Pricey?

Looks like Salman Khan and his close friend Sajid Nadiadwala have decided to part ways on the professional front as they seem to have serious differences over their new venture Kabhi Eid Kabhi Diwali? According to a highly placed source, differences arose over Salman Khan’s payout. For the astute film producer Nadiadwala that number was not making business sense. Instead of creating bad blood, a wiser Nadiadwala has handed over the project lock, stock and barrel to Salman and walked out. An insider is at pains to point out that their old friendship continues; it is purely a business decision. Be that as it may, Salman has seen and been in such situations several times. He walked out of Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Inshallah after the set was erected. Bhansali lost quite a fortune but he was smart enough to utilize the set for making Gangubai Kathiawadi. Earlier, Priyanka Chopra ditched Salman to get married, left high and dry, he quickly roped in Katrina Kaif for Bharat. Kabir Khan who got along famously with Salman is no more on his speed dial post the flop of Tubelight. Similarly, he replaced director Ali Abbas Zafar with Manish Sharma for Tiger 3 which features Katrina Kaif with whom he was once linked with. How will their chemistry be in the movie given the fact he was not invited to her wedding?
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Marathi Mulgi Mrunal Thakur Set To Be Next Madhuri, Dhak-Dhak Girl Of Bollywood?

Shahid Kapoor, at a recent press conference, expressed envy towards Mrunal Thakur, one of few actresses who were busy shooting during the Covid lockdown. The Jersey heroine is again one of few TV actors who transitioned seamlessly to the big screen. Her first movie Love Sonia was an international film. The 29-year-old actress, who made her television debut in 2012, worked in eight TV serials and was called insane for quitting the highly popular Kumkum Bhagya. She has since emerged among the top leading ladies of Bollywood with films like Toofan, Super 30 and Dhamaka. Mrunal is not singularly successful though and TV stars like Sakshi Tanwar, Vidya Balan, Prachi Desai and Yami Gautam also migrated to the Big screen as did Shah Rukh Khan. So, what makes Mrunal different? Industry watchers say it was her timing of entering the film world when the industry was undergoing a churn and stories took precedence over stars.  She was launched through a Marathi movie in 2014 and entered Bollywood in 2018 managing to emote and impress the audience even with her small roles. She almost made it to Bahubali and would have been part of Aamir Khan’s Dangal if her TV show had not come in the way. One thing is for sure, nothing’s gonna stop this Marathi mulgi going the dhak dhak girl way.
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Alia Bhatt Says All Is Well, As Fans Upset Over Miniscule RRR Role

Alia Bhatt has clarified she is not upset with director SS Rajamouli for limiting her role in RRR. Alia should know, however, that her fans are upset over her minuscule performance in the magnum opus that registered a roaring box office success. Industry insiders explain that Rajamouli’s focus was on making a film featuring Jr NTR and Ram Charan, with a limited role for Alia but, he did also make Bahubali with two leading ladies each dominating with fabulous roles. So, was casting Alia merely a marketing tool to appeal to Hindi speaking audiences? That would explain why Ajay Devgn, also featured with a 10-minute role in RRR, stayed away from the film’s promotion. A similar experience was faced by Priyanka Chopra during her initial days in Hollywood. It was only her strong PR management team that made her the star she is today. Why then are Bollywood stars still keen to be part of south Indian projects, to feature in blink-and-miss roles? South Indian films do not need Bollywood stars to boost business. In fact, it is the other way round. Alia may do well to note that a brief post on social media may not placate her fan following although she plays the heroine of RRR and shares credit for the film raking in Rs 600 crore.
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Karan-Yash-Prithvi Script Kolly-Tolly-Bolly Amalgamation, As Southern Superstars Take Over Bollywood Virtually

The Hindi language was a barrier for yesteryear superstars from down south like Kamal Haasan, Chiranjeevi, Venkatesh and Arvind Swamy; they did not gain a foothold in Bollywood. Some lost out because of south Indian looks and returned to doing regional films after acting in a few Hindi films. But, the new crop of popular stars are defying conventional wisdom. Allu Arjun, Rock Star Yash, and Prabhas have proved that you don’t really need to move lock, stock and barrel to Mumbai to make a mark in Bollywood. The movie can be dubbed or, simultaneously shot in two languages Telugu/Tamil and Hindi and it will fly. By doing so, they have crossed over virtually through their movies and have become mainstream heroes of Bollywood. Trade pundits feel although Bahubali restarted the trend of the return of the south stars, it was Pushpa that showed that language was no barrier to woo audiences; Allu Arjun literally took over the throne of cross-over from Prabhas. Now our very own indigenous Akira Kurusawa, SS Rajamouli, with RRR has introduced two more megastars to Bollywood — Ram Charan and Jr NTR, with the inconspicuous presence of Alia Bhatt and Ajay Devgn. Meanwhile, in an interesting development, Kannada superstar Rockstar Yash, Malayalam superstar Prithviraj and Karan Johar are working towards the amalgamation of Kollywood, Tollywood into Bollywood – a la Hollywood style.
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Delhi CM Kejriwal’s New Low Down Denial Of The Kashmir Files, Horrifies Hindu Pandits, Even Sikhs From Valley

Should a film on genocide be exempted from state entertainment tax? Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s brazen attack on The Kashmir Files – a defining movie on genocidal horrors and forced exodus suffered by Kashmiri Pandits – not only killed the tax-free debate but also resurrected a new low, “You (BJP) don’t look good putting Jhoothi picture.” The genocide denial has led to a tide of opprobrium. Sikh social worker Manjinder Singh Sirsa tweeted, “Laughing at #TheKashmirFiles and calling it a lie!! Sorry to say @ArvindKejriwal you don’t deserve to be called a human being.” Earlier, came scathing remarks from BJP’s Amit Malviya: “Only an inhuman, cruel and depraved mind can laugh at and deny the genocide of Kashmiri Hindus. Kejriwal has ripped open the wounds of the Hindu community, who have been forced to live as refugees in their own country, for 32 long years, by calling #KashmirFiles a jhoothi film.” Aditya Raj Kaul, a veteran journalist, pointed out, “Denying persecution, forced exodus and genocide of a minority community is a criminal act. I hope you will apologise to the victims of terrorism, Mr Arvind Kejriwal. Hate for Modi, BJP and filmmaker is one thing but to deny a historic reality is absolutely shocking.” Steven Spielberg’s 1993 film Schindler’s List suffered the same genocide denial mindset and was banned from screening in many Islamic countries, including Pakistan.
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‘The Kashmir Files’ Tsunami Hurts ‘Bachchhan Paandey’ At The Box Office

During the Covid lockdown Akshay Kumar ruled Bollywood with releases like Laxmii, Bell Bottom, Sooryavanshi and Atrangi Re. But, his latest movie Bachchhan Paandey reportedly made at a cost of Rs165 crore has suffered a huge setback due to The Kashmir Files made by Vivek Agnihotri at a cost of merely Rs 15 crore in comparison. With the movie achieving proportions of a people’s movement The Kashmir Files is set to cross the Rs 200 crore mark. Bachchhan Paandey’s collections were poor from day one and may not gross good returns for the producers even as Akshay Kumar is believed to have charged Rs 99 crore for the film. Despite attempts by Akshay Kumar’s fan clubs to save the film The Kashmir Files tsunami continues to storm the box office with nearly 4000 screens added after the initial 650 screens as on March 10. Producers of Bachchhan Paandey know that at this critical juncture any marketing gimmick will fall flat. For his part, Akshay Kumar did not score brownie points by announcing he would watch The Kashmir Files. Bachchhan Paandey may well be written off as a flop because of the bad timing. Nobody anticipated that The Kashmir Files would stir hornet’s nest and evoke positive response worldwide. Meanwhile Akshay Kumar has moved on to shoot for his next film Selfiee.
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Dhanush and Lata Rajinikanth

Dhanush’s Stardom Line Falters, Cold Shouldered By Producers Since Divorce

Popular Tamil star Dhanush had a dream film run from 2004 after he married superstar Rajinikanth’s daughter. Eighteen years, two smart boys, cinematic fame, and a hectic professional life later, the couple opted for divorce. Suddenly Dhanush found his trusted producers, directors acting hard to get, almost avoiding him like a Covid variant. His last film, Maran fared below par, and Dhanush headed straight to Vetrrimaran, his go to confidante and alter ego, to sign up for his next film. Vettrimaran tactfully dodged, citing his full portfolio. That’s when it hit Dhanush. Hell hath no fury like a mother-in-law scorned, a sasuma spited. Talk is rife in film circles that Lata Rajinikanth, the strong lady of the family has imposed sanctions, warning producers and directors close to her Damaad to stay away. Dhanush, on the other hand, is shouting hoarse that his talent and hard work alone produced super hits like Karnan, Maari, Velaiilla Pattadhari, Raanjhana, Shamitabh, Atrangi Re. But when an also ran, middle class Hero marries a superstar’s daughter, the union is not among equals, There is a salacious media report of his efforts to see sasuma and have an open confrontation and how he was turned away by the gate security. Lata, it is said, did not relent.
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Big Budget Film Radhe Shyam Falls Short On Expectations From Bahubali Prabhas' Performance, Weak Narrative

Prabhas reigns as a cinematic brand that few could match after the Bahubali super hits. And audiences expect him to exemplify that same brand film after film. After the pandemic pause, Radhe Shyam also released to sky high expectations but the film, shot simultaneously in Telugu and Hindi, turned out to be Candy floss, just fluff, no bite. Advertised as a big budget film (Rs 300-350 crore) boasting over the top visual effects, lavish locales of Europe with each frame mounted to draw gasps of astonishment, Prabhas and Pooja Hegde elicited groans instead even as the screenplay and narrative fell flat as pointless piffle. The Telugu version fared somewhat better, but the Hindi version faced the humiliation of rejection even compared to the low budget yet, intensely riveting The Kashmir Files. Prabhas, cast as a phenomenal palmist (the Einstein of Palmistry, Nostradamus of prediction) has to convince audiences that life lines on one’s palm determines your destiny, and yet it is possible to change destiny by sheer determination. Prabhas playing a palmist challenges destiny but, ultimately gets the girl he loves, Prerna, after super human efforts. Whatever the claims by the makers over box office collections (Rs 150 crore in first three days), even palmist Prabhas didn’t predict revenues would lag way behind the Rs 300 crore spent.
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Photo : Fotocorp

Why SRK Is The King Khan Of Bollywood?

He is literally the tallest Khan compared to Salman and Aamir. Fifty-six-year-old SRK, who entered Bollywood in 1992, initially essaying negative roles in movies like Darr, Baazigar could convince producers that he was the next romantic hero, a space occupied by superstar Rajesh Khanna.  Convinced, producers signed him on for box-office hits like Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (DDLJ), Dil To Pagal Hai, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai and Mohabatein. DLDJ run of 1000 weeks established SRK as the king of romance, set off a female fan frenzy like Khanna did and, thronging crowds like Big B’s at his bungalow Mannat who fervently hope for a glimpse of him. Charming, witty and intelligent, SRK knows how to emote with the audience both locally and globally, on-and-off screen. “His brand loyalty remains strong despite the fact there were no SRK releases in the last two years. He connects well with people across all age groups,” says Karan Taurani of Elara Capital.  One of the many reasons SRK outshines the other two Khans is that he was an outsider. Salman Khan is more a Bhai for commoners while Aamir Khan only connects with audiences during films releases but, the King of hearts connects with audiences across age groups throughout the year. He also smartly set up his own enterprise, Red Chillies Entertainment and owns a big stake in IPL team, Kolkata Knight Riders.
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Alia Bhatt’s Big Ticket Gangubai Kathiawadi Arrival, Gets Established Divas In A Twist

Those who questioned Alia Bhatt’s calibre to play Gangubai Kathiawadi have been forced to eat their own words and, Kangana Ranaut tops the list. The actress had said she didn’t expect the movie mafia’s film to do well. While Kangana taking pot-shots against top actors, to increase her social media influencer reach is plain to see, even those within Bollywood were unsure if the woman-centric film would do well at the box office and, with Alia in the lead role. In fact, only a handful of women-centric films have managed to get good numbers at the box office. Gangubai Kathiawadi has surprised everybody. Trade experts say that film is getting a good draw and business could have been 20% more had cinemas opened to 100% capacity. While there is no comparison between Alia and Deepika Padukone has been made, although the self-proclaimed Queen of Bollywood thinks so, there is little doubt that Alia has arrived which may be giving heebie-jeebies to the established likes of Deepika. Twenty-nine-year-old Alia, who debuted as a child artiste, got her first big break in Karan Johar’s Student Of The Year. Avid cinema goers were impressed by her performance in Raazi, Gully Boy and, Highway just to name a few.  
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Controversy Queen Kangana Ranaut's Latest Offensive On Alia Over Gangubai Kathiawadi, As Father Mahesh Bhatt Turns His Back

Award winning actor cum filmmaker but, ever controversial, Kangana Ranaut’s recent jibe at Alia Bhatt over the latter’s movie Gangubhai Kathiawadi was in bad taste say Bollywood insiders. Is the 34-year old Kangana, a known BJP sympathizer, only trying to enhance her social media presence further?  Kangana has been speaking out via social media platforms on all major issues and, was instrumental in changing the narrative in the Sushant Singh Rajput case. Has she now targeted Alia over her enmity with filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt? Generally, Bhatt senior would have jumped to his daughter’s defence through a tweet but, he has instead adopted a ‘let sleeping dogs lie’ strategy. Alia called Kangana’s video cute while quoting a verse from the Bhagavad Gita. It may be recalled that Mahesh Bhatt had launched Kangana in Gangster and there were videos of her praising the filmmaker but, today both stand swords drawn. A majority in the film industry avoids Kangana, some boycott her while fence sitters like Ekta Kapoor cash in on her public controversy and, has signed her up for the most fearless reality show Lock Upp. Apparently, Kangana asked Ekta to sign up her bete noire Karan Johar for the reality show. In 2020, lyricist Javed Akhtar had filed a defamation case against her.
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Superstar Rajini Signs Up For His 169th Movie, Pushes Producer To Cast Aishwaryaa Rai As His Co-Star

After a lot of hype and hoopla and, sky high expectations for Rajinikanth’s Annaatthe, the film hit the bedrock, a rejection the superstar is still smarting under. Despite a nubile Lolita like Keerthy Suresh in the lead (she was cast as his sister whom he protects like a nuclear code), icy Nayanthara as his ambiguous love interest and, buxom Khushbu, playing matronly Meena to gird Rajini’s masochism,  Annaatthe sadly lulled audiences to sleep. The buzz among fans is that Thalaiva must ‘quit while he is still the icon’. Not ready to walk off into the sunset, Rajini has signed up his 169th movie to be shot by his director of choice, Nelson Dilipkumar. Shootings expected to start in May and completed within five months’ time, for an October 2022 Diwali week release. Producer of the film Sun Pictures is in a quandary as Rajini has insisted on Aishwaryaa Rai-Bachchan as co-star. But her signing up fee of Rs 10 crore is out of their budget. Rajini being Rajini, has said get her at any cost. Come October, one will see how Rajini’s style magic combines with Aishwaryaa’s beauty to make cash registers ringing big time. Fans are hoping his 169th film is not the swan song for both.
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Why Dhoni’s Economical Bollywood Story Was A Hit, While Kapil’s Big ’83 Spend Failed To Make The Box Office Tick

Big budget movie 83 on Kapil Dev led India winning the 1983 World Cup cost Rs 270 crore to make but did not do well. The biopic on MS Dhoni: The Untold Story, made with a budget of Rs 106 crore, did much better. 83 did not connect with today’s audience while Dhoni did. Trade pundits say the subject of 83 was overexposed; an old chapter in the history of India’s cricket and whatever was shown in the film was available on YouTube. Dhoni’s biopic, in that sense, was an untold story so had a huge audience connect. Also what worked in the biopic’s favour is Dhoni’s huge fan following coupled with his participation in the film promotion. Dhoni’s movie had romance, portrayed the journey of a small-town boy becoming captain of the Indian cricket team. It was aspirational. 83 was only about cricket which perhaps put off today’s generation despite Ranveer Singh. People who went to see 83 were in the 40-plus bracket, who are fewer in numbers. Also, it was not a family outing as their children were not keen to see 83.  It was also impacted by the Omicron wave. Clearly, Sushant Singh film had a bigger draw than a Ranveer Singh film. Incidentally, not all biopics do well. The one on Mohammad Azharuddin played by Emraan Hashmi bombed.
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Bollywood’s Rising Star Richa Chadha Has A Mind Of Her Own

Thirty-five-year-old Richa Chadha’s latest web series The Great Indian Murder directed Tigmanshu Dhulia has received mixed reviews. But there is no denying that Richa has arrived in Bollywood. Hailing from an academically-oriented family, Richa entered Bollywood in 2008 with a small role in the comedy Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye!  In the last 13 years she acted in over 27 films and shot to fame for work in the Fukrey series, her supporting role in Gangs of Wasseypur also won her many awards. Unlike other Bollywood stars, this St Stephen College alumni is headstrong and speaks her mind on raging social issues.  She is one of few actresses who protested the attack on JNU students. In the recent Karnataka hijab row Richa, who enjoys over 5 lakh followers tweeted: “Raise your sons better! A bunch of ugly, cowards attacking a lone woman in a pack and feeling proud of it? WHAT LOSERS! Shameful. They’ll be jobless, more frustrated and penniless in a few years. What poor upbringing! No sympathy, no redemption for them (sic).” Little wonder she has signed up for films with strong social issues, subjects or characters who are change agents. Recently, she and her fiancé Ali Fazal set up their own production house, Push Button Production.
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‘Yeh Kaali Kaali Aankhein’ OTT Series Reels You In, Hook, Line And Sinker

The immense popularity of new Hindi serial thriller Yeh Kaali Kaali Aankhein across Uttar Pradesh has given it a new distinction of being a happening state. The dredged imagery of an unwashed, overly populated, poverty stricken, illiterate and exploited state that sends the maximum lawmakers to Indian Parliament is passe now. Yeh Kaali Kaali Aankhein has jolted out this stereotype. UP’s consciousness has traversed far ahead with regard to permissiveness, modern lifestyles, wealth and power flaunting, organised and unorganised crime. OTT Hindi serials will hitherto be benchmarked against These Black Black Eyes, the early era filmy hit song belted out by Shah Rukh Khan in Baazigar. Omkara is the fictional name given to the state of violent politics and the mafia, chilling terror and awe-inspiring revenge. Season One (eight episodes) unravels the power and terror that political heavyweight Akhiraj Awasthi (played brilliantly by Saurabh Shukla) holds over his family and, the entire state. No one dares take him on even as he is the very embodiment of evil. His daughter Purva (Aanchal Singh will go places) overtakes daddy dear in all things evil and is driven, possessive, passionate with a Zumba toned body. What mesmerises the viewer is the slick editing, lightning change of moods, dizzy action and the fast pace of the unfolding storyline which is pulpy, and hooks you, line and sinker.
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Alia To Replace Deepika As Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s New Muse?

Award winning and yet, controversial filmmaker Sanjay Leela Bhansali has found a new muse in Alia Bhatt, who featured in his latest film Gangubai Kathiawadi, a biographical crime film based on a chapter from Hussain Zaidi’s book Mafia Queens Of Mumbai. Bhansali, insiders say, has already decided to cast Alia in his next ambitious project Baiju Bawra, originally planned with Mastani Deepika Padukone in mind. But Bhansali’s erstwhile muse, who saw him as her mentor sought more money, which did not go down well with Bhansali. Deepika essayed key roles in two of his movies Bajirao Mastani and Padmaavat but, may be out of the new big banner project even as many wonder whether the two will ever work together again? Alia is definitely a part of his next film though. Of course, Ranveer Singh who also owes it all to Bhansali will most likely play the title role of Baiju Bawra. Bhansali, with over 18 films, follows a pattern of working with his film stars in at least two films. Aishwarya Rai was his all-time favourite while Manisha Koirala acted in 1942: A Love Story and, is back with Heera Mandi. It is quite common for filmmakers to cast their favourite stars in all their movies, David Dhawan-Govinda, Karan Johar-Shah Rukh Khan and, of course, MF Husain whose forever muse was Madhuri Dixit.
biscuit king

Will Biopic On Biscuit King Rajan Pillai Stir Up A Hornet’s Nest In The Corporate World?

In the season of biopics, the latest one taking shape is based on the life of Biscuit King, Rajan Pillai. Bankrolled by Saregama India’s film arm, Yoodle Films, Biscuit King will feature Malayalam super star, Prithviraj Sukumaran, directing and essaying the title role. Rajan Pillai got fame when Nabisco, the US biscuit and cookies maker was bought over by KKR in 1989 in one of the biggest leveraged buyouts for $ 31.4 billion. KKR after the buyout, started asset stripping the company and selling most of Nabisco’s business the world over, barring US. Rajan emerged as the biggest bidder for Nabisco’s Asia business along with his former boss Ross Johnson. After Nabisco’s acquisition came Britannia Industries in India. Rajan Pillai’s emergence at Britannia led to one of the biggest corporate wars between him and industrialist Nusli Wadia. Rajan paid for it with his life, ending up at Tihar Jail and dying a horrible death. Ironically, Rajan who escaped from Singapore was arrested for a crime he never committed in India. Tihar jail officials mercilessly beat him. The question being asked in corporate circles is whether Biscuit King will portray Rajan’s wife Nina Pillai’s version of the saga or Nusli Wadia and Sunil Alagh’s viewpoint. Whichever the version, this movie on the rise, fall and gruesome death of Biscuit King Rajan Pillai will attract huge eyeballs.
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Top L To R (Clockwise): Arun Govil, Dipika Chikhlia, Nitin Bharadwaj Amar Upadhya, Mona Singh & Sakshi Tanwar

Why TV Stars Turned Household Names Fail To Make It Big In Bollywood

Fictitious character names turned household favourites, more popular than their real-life identities, like Tulsi (Smriti Irani – Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi), Mihir (Amar Upadhyay & Ronit Roy — Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi), Parvati Bhabhi (Sakshi Tanwar—Kahaani Ghar Ghar Ki) and Jassi (Mona Singh – Jassi Jaisi Kohi Nahin). None of these tele superstars struck it big in Bollywood like Shah Rukh Khan who similarly started his journey with the TV series Circus and Fauji. Another actor who carved a niche in Bollywood was the late Sushant Singh Rajput who shed his Pavitra Rishta image. Smriti Irani leveraged her popularity to launch into Indian politics. Balaji girl Sakshi Tanwar, hosts a cooking show on Epic TV and, will play one of two main leads in Tahira Kashyap’s film Sharmaji Ki Beti. Ronit Roy worked a security services business alongside doing TV serials and, focusses on the OTT sector. Amar, the original Mihir, continues struggling as actor and, after Bob Biswas features in Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2. Mona, screened in 3 Idiots and, will be seen in Laal Singh Chadda.  Arun ‘Ram’ Govil and Dipika ‘Sita’ Chikhlia of Ramayan fame, and Nitin ‘Krishna’ Bhardwaj of Mahabharat fame did not strike big in Bollywood post their memorable roles. Does this mean these TV actors are trapped in their character as the audience are not able to accept them in the distinctly different roles enacted for the film industry’s reel world?
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Why This Kolaveri Over Dhanush-Aishwaryaa Divorce

Marriage has turned into one of the most fragile institutions in today’s fast paced world. Celebrity marriages more so, as frothy as Frappuccino. Dhanush and Aishwaryaa’s divorce announcement kicked up a storm of reactions both, for and against either spouse. If one were to believe all that cine raconteur and newscaster Bayilvan Ranganathan spouts over multiple filmi YouTube channels, the salacious gossip would put even the most notorious Hollywood philanderers to shame. Without making a direct reference to Dhanush’s multiple liaisons, he simply terms these as Body Demands! Even when Aishwaryaa directed Dhanush in a movie, his dalliance with Shruti Haasan apparently rang alarm bells for their high-profile parents Rajinikant and Kamal Haasan. Similar was his so-called veering off course with Amala Paul, TV anchor Deva Dharshini, Sonia Agarwal and, even Sara Ali Khan after his latest movie Atrangi Re. Aishwaryaa is not spared by the chin wags either. She allegedly married Dhanush on the rebound, made little effort to bond with his family, spent most of her time at her parent’s place, and would not let go of her high profile image as Rajini’s ladli Beti. So who is to be blamed for this marital collapse? Nobody. Clearly, two mature adults exercised the civilized, modern day exit out of a bad marriage –splitsville.
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Photo : Fotocorp

Model and Single Mom At 47, Malaika Arora Is In Spotlight Heaven

Malaika Arora’s Bollywood career started in 1998 with run-away hit item song Chaiya Chaiya making her a star. She stayed rooted as an item girl without the urge to evolve as an actor perhaps, by design. The 47 years young model, fitness freak single mom carved a distinct place in Bollywood with more memorable item numbers including Gur Naalo Ishq Mitha, Maahi Ve and, Munni Badnaam Hui. This Mumbai-born middle-class lass started modeling as a teenager that made her film industry smart. She typically took in her stride and moved on, after her 19-year marriage with Salman Khan’s brother, producer Arbaaz Khan soured. She walked away with her son and started afresh, even dropping the Khan surname. She is a brand and needs no morning walks with a pet dog in tow, as other paparazzi crazy stars do. Malaika still bags modeling assignments, is part of dance reality shows and partners with Sarvanga Yoga to post pics of various asanas over Instagram. A Bollywood insider says, “She is a person, unlike most celebrities, comfortable in her body. She wears what she feels like and aces it.” She showed guts by dating a younger man, actor Arjun Kapoor and soon may even tie the knot. Malaika’s is the story of a strong-willed woman who has come of her own, on her own terms.
Kollywood_Poster

Omicron Effect: Kollywood Producers Eyeing Rs 600 Cr Box Office Bounty This Pongal May Have To Wait Longer

The perennial pan India cash cow, the cinema business, with its jingling cash registers is sending out distress signals right now! After two long Covid-19 pandemic hit (locked down) years, just as the film industry started seeing rosy dreams of making up for heart-breaking  business losses, come Pongal Festival, a sudden downturn is now predicted. For years now, the Tamil calendar’s annual Pongal week always meant family indulgences with anything cinematic. That may not happen this time round, as Omicron and its tsunami wave hits the solar plexus of exhibitors and industry big guns alike. Three big budget films, RRR (directed by India’s Cecil B DeMille aka Bahubali SS Rajamouli), Boney Kapoor’s Ajith Kumar starrer Valimai and Prabhas-Pooja Hegde love anthem, Radhe Shyam were lined up for the Pongal sweepstakes. Then came government orders about total Sunday curfews, lockdown daily between 10 pm and 5 am and 50% seating in cinemas. The trade had estimated Rs 600 crore collections from these three films released worldwide and overseas. They had probably structured all their debt and business plans on Pongal to rake in big moolah. But, Omicron seems to have played spoilsport. Big disappointment for fans of Ajith, Prabhas NT Rama Rao Jr, and Ram Charan. But, it’s a question of a month or two before these movies hit theatres near you soon.
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Photo : Fotocorp

Who Let The Stars Out? Celebs Throw Covid Caution To The Wind!

A proliferation of the newfound Covid virus or the Omicron Effect is rippling through the Bollywood taking in A listers into its embrace. It began with Kareena Kapoor Khan and friends – Amrita Arora and Seema Khan – admitting to their positive status with Covid after attending a party that was high on the celebrities’ quotient. Then came news of the other Kapoors. While Anil Kapoor was negative, daughter Rhea and her husband Karan and cousins Anshula and Arjun Kapoor tested positive. Curiously, none of these celebrities took to social media to apprise their daily contacts and connections about their Covid status, ignoring commonly followed protocol. Why these stars failed to warn people they came in contact with is perplexing. Others like Ekta Kapoor, who also tested positive, immediately posted their Corona status on social media. John Abraham and wife Priya also tested positive, while Pooja Bedi’s daughter Alaya F who was covid positive finally tested negative. Some crew members of the film Geheriyaanhave also tested positive. Despite infections reported rampantly, shooting for films and TV serials continues unabated just as before. However, two big films RRR and Jersey releases have been postponed as cinema halls are being shut in some states or occupancy reduced to 50% levels. Looks like Bollywood has thrown caution to the wind.
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Photo : Fotocorp

Will Jacqueline’s Stardom Lose Lustre For Falling Hook, Line & Sinker To Conman Sukesh’s Script

From a rank outsider, Jacqueline Fernandez’s rise and rise in Bollywood was meteoric. The 36-year old Sri Lankan model-turned actor, who entered Bollywood in 2006, has acted in over 25 films already. In 15 years she has starred opposite top heroes including Salman Khan and Akshay Khanna. Even as her northbound career graph scaled new heights came news of her involvement with conman Sukesh Chandrasekhar, who was arrested for extortion and money laundering. She claims Sukesh lured her with Bollywood offers even as he showered her with costly gifts, even a high end car. Though Jacqueline tries hard to distance herself from Sukesh, the Enforcement Directorate is yet to give her a clean chit. Does this mean curtains for her Bollywood career? Not really, say Bollywood producers. “Film makers are not judgemental. We are a very forgiving industry and, have given second chances to Sanjay Dutt, Armaan Kohli, Shiney Ahuja.” On the ground, Jacqueline’s Dabangg live tour could not begin as the ED prevented her leaving the country but she is shooting for films within the country.  As of now, she has Ram Setu, Circkus, Vikrant Rana, Bachchan Pandey and Attack on hand. The ED case may slow her down for a while but, there is little doubt she is among the most liked stars of Bollywood.

TRENDS & VIEWS

We Have Created A New Segment That Has Resonated Well With Readers: Short Post Editor

Nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time has come, said Victor Hugo a long time ago. I felt likewise. So instead of waiting endlessly for the Covid-19 tide to ebb, I decided to take the plunge and launch www.shortpost.in on January 28, 2021. This website, the first of its kind in the country, focuses only on short ‘Authentic Gossip’. Clearly, content is king more so if it is short & crisp (225 words), as a large section of our society is steadily shifting to digital and mobile space. To achieve this, I was fortunate to muster editorial support of some of the most senior and respected journalists in the country to bring out credible content that involves, stimulates and entertains our highly discerning readers — from across continents. We have so far uploaded close to 1,000 posts covering areas like Business, Politics, Sports, and Entertainment. Yes, today we have crossed an important milestone in our journey – #ShortPostFirstAnniversary —  and we are confident many more will follow in keeping with our stated vision – to become a one stop site for authentic gossip. So, what next?  With the third wave showing signs of slowing down things can only look better. So as the year rolls by we promise to pack in more punches. Before I sign off I would like to thank our advertiser IDFC FIRST Bank, angel investors Anuradha Verma, Ashish Kakkar and you readers for making this journey possible.