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Now Tamil Movie ‘Farhana’ Stirs A Mild Controversy

In the name of religion one more movie that has created a mild stir is the Tamil film Farhana starring Aishwarya Rajesh in the lead. So much so the protagonist had to be provided police protection by the Tamil Nadu government. Earlier it was The Kashmir Files, followed by The Kerala Story. It seems Farhana has raised the hackles of Tamil Nadu Muslim women who are worried that Muslim women may seek emancipation like the heroine. Farhana is the simple story of a Muslim wife, mother and daughter of conservative Aziz who owns a footwear shop, leading a modest life. Her husband Kareem is trying for an overseas job. Farhana opts to work at a Call Centre much against her very conservative family’s will. The Call Centre environment of modernity, female freedom and openness is both daunting and exciting for Farhana. A change in assignment, puts her in the chat room for a week. Farhana is revolted by the quirky, kinky and smutty talk in the chat room. Is the film a metaphor for freeing Islamic women from stifling bonds? Director Ameer, a well-known name in Kollywood has heaped praise on Nelson Venkatesan for his sensitive handling of a woman centric story. He says by giving protection to Aishwarya, a wrong impression is conveyed about the film. Time to allow creative artists the freedom to chisel ingenious films.
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BJP Openly Promotes ‘The Kerala Story’

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


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

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


Will SRK Once Again Shun Media For ‘Jawan’?

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

What Ails The Bengal Film Industry?

The Bengal film industry which saw the likes of Satyajit Ray, Mrinal Sen, Ritwik Ghatak, Tarun Majumder and others, today struggles to hold on to its glory. There is a marked shift from big screen content to OTT platforms — Hoichoi, Zee5, Klick, Addatimes. Moreover, several renowned actors are also seen in Bollywood movies and regional movies of South.  All top stars and directors like Prosenjit Chatterjee, Parambrata Chattopadhyay, Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury feel that the Bengali film industry requires the much-needed investment and passionate people to surge ahead. Films Manobjamin, Projapoti, Kaberi Antardhan, Maayakumari, Dilkhush, Ghore Pherar Gaan, Mitthye Premer Gaan and others released in the first quarter of 2023. While Projapoti could turn box office collections into gold, others failed as they were replaced by Pathaan at the theatres. Interestingly, actors like Jisshu Sengupta, Anirban Bhattachajee, Tota Roy Chowdhury, Saswata Chatterjee, Churni Ganguly, Swastika Mukherjee, Parambrata and recently veteran actor Prosenjit are taking up projects from Bollywood and those from the South. Mardaani, Manikarnika, Sadak 2 famed actor Jisshu pointed out that the emergence of OTT platforms have blurred the lines between regional industries. For Parambrata, directing Bengali movies is passion and acting in Bollywood contents such as Bulbull, Ramprasad Ki Tehrvi, Aranyak, Mithya gave him national exposure.

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

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

Netflix Rejigs Its Biz Strategy, To Replicate India Model In 116 Countries

Netflix, the California-based OTT player, is rejigging its business strategy. To start with it has done away with its initial business of mail order DVDs. The DVD postal service was launched as an alternative to DVD rental stores. This business generates only $ 126 mn of Netlfix’s annual turnover of $ 31.6 bn. Besides, it is also aggressively cracking down on free password sharing among its subscribers. Recently it launched a new password sharing policy in the U.S. which includes paid sharing. This policy is being introduced to all its 231 mn paid subscribers across 190 countries. Also, on the anvil are more streams, like subscription only and ad driven streams. In the first quarter of 2023 Netflix added 1.75 mn new customers as against 7.66 million customers last quarter. Though the customer additions look lower, it is considered a significant turnaround as it had lost 200,000 customers in the first quarter of 2022. Netflix’s India business too is looking up with engagement growing nearly 30 % in the first quarter of 2023 vis a vis last year. This follows lowering of prices by 20% to 60 % in December 2021, leading to deepening the penetration of the market. This also led to a revenue growth of 24% in 2022 as against 19% in 2021. Netflix now plans to replicate the India model to 116 other countries.

Will Karan Johar And Kartik Aaryan Work Together Once Again?

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

Kollywood Film Makers Bank On Story More Than Glamour

The latest Tamil offering Viduthalai-Part 1 directed by Vetri Maaran is drawing crowds and appreciation for almost every dimension of its story. When Vetri Maaran narrated B Jeyamohan’s story to producer Elred Kumar, he laid out a simple Rs 4 crore project, but then they cottoned on to making it in two parts that added a zero to the 4 crores.  Not that Vetri and team haven’t had hiccups. Viduthalai was immediately slammed as a copy of ‘Solagar Thotti ‘, a similar themed novel. The South film makers have the courage to cast the plot /story as the hero, and  dare to experiment with actors who don’t need glamour and unbelievable stunts to prove their machismo, they are super confident  enough to deglamourise even female leads. Focus is on the story unfolding with its relatable grip, and most important ….keep the cost down, cinema is an uncertain medium. Why pour the lion’s share of the money on a hero (with back to back flops) and end up in creative and financial penury?  Viduthalai is a period crime thriller. The film stars Soori and Vijay Sethupathi.


Now, Priyanka Chopra Revives “Outsider” Issue In Bollywood

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

Is The Kapil Sharma Show Losing Its Bite?

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

TN Minister Admits Doubts About Mani Ratnam’s Skill To Make ‘Ponniyin Selvan’

A close confidant of the late Kalaignar, and now a father figure to his son, Tamil Nadu chief minister MK Stalin, PWD Minister Duraimurugan is well-known for his wit and wisecracks that evoke laughter…sometimes silent resentment. Recently Duraimurugan was the chief guest at the launch of Ponniyin Selvan – 2 Trailer & Music with Lyca chairman Subhaskaran Allirajah presiding over the event. Duraimurugan started off reminiscing about what he told the producer before Part 1. “I was fascinated by Kalki’s epic as a student and read it with interest. But when Subhaskaran told me that he is bringing it to the big screen at a mammoth budget, I had reservations. I even tried to talk him out of it. Then I asked him, “Who is the director?” I was told it was Mani Ratnam, “I asked Mani Ratnam…The one who shoots all his films in the dark? No, don’t“.  But, after the super success of the film with its ensemble cast, Duraimurugan changed his views. He praised the film, and talked about a particular character, Vandiya Devan played so endearingly by Karthi. He is particularly fond of this character, who is supposed to be from Thiruvalam, part of Duraimurugan’s constituency. Even history gets linked to politics!

Independent Probe Called For Into Kalakshetra Sexual Harassment Complaints

The #MeToo issue surrounding the famous dance school Kalakshetra, run by the Union Culture Ministry in Chennai have blown up into a massive controversy. The brave girls of the school, who had voiced their misgivings and complaints about at least four male teachers at the school of sexual harassment, came out in protest defying the school closure order given by the director Revathi Ramachandran. The State government was compelled to take note of the goings on as complaints aired over social media for months coalesced into a movement akin to the one against Harvey Weinstein in Hollywood that blew open the issue of inappropriate male behaviour. The school director, an appointee with political influence in New Delhi, was seen protecting the accused rather than take the side of the hundreds of girls with grievances against the male teaching staff. Only the lack of a specific complainant was holding up a police probe but after the issue came up in the Tamil Nadu Assembly, the hands of the State government have been forced to act. It may set up an independent probe soon under the aegis of the State Women’s Commission as the NWC tried to sweep the issue under the carpet after an inadequate internal probe. Only a powerful probe panel that can set up a safe channel to receive complaints can bring any justice to hundreds of affected girls.

Are The Lines Between Bollywood And Kollywood Blurring?

Are the lines between the south Indian film industry and north Indian film industry (read Bollywood) blurring it? It seems so, as both the territories are very important for them. And incidentally, factoring these north-south audiences the film makers are doing casting that will appeal to both the worlds of cinema. Whether it is Oscar winner RRR or now Sriram Raghavan casting Vijay Sethupati in Merry Christmas with Katrina Kaif is certainly going to help both the industry. Now that’s just the operation part but we notice that the south is making that attempt of bridging the divide that was there in the earlier days. Now south stars have Pan India appeal but a few decades back actors like Kamal Haasan, Rajinikanth, Nagarjuna were not easily accepted. Today, satellite and dubbed films of south are being lapped in the north and the south’s overall business has grown by 20%. Perhaps Bahubali, KGF triggered this trend. Karan Johar was the distributor of Bahubali 1. One may not hear so much from Bollywood honchos but south actors have been vocal about calling it as one big industry. While talking to media Telugu star Nani said “Pathaan hamara hai aur Dasara (his film) aapka hai.” But all this conversation of one film industry started with KGF 2 when Yash fondly called Rocking Star said that we should stop talking about various industries and consider cinema in totality.  And celebration of the victory of RRR in the international world and by the whole country means we are now one.

Who Stole My Jewellery Asks Aishwarya Rajinikanth?

This filmi family is constantly in the news by design or by accident. Last month, Tamil star Dhanush was in the news for his newly built Rs 150 crore home in Poes Garden, close to his father-in-law Rajinikanth’s oft vaunted residence. The latest news is about Dhanush’s estranged wife, the feisty Aishwarya who lodged a complaint at the Teynampet police station in February about valuables –jewels, silver utensils, gem stones — missing from the locker. Apparently, it was discovered by her, four years after her sister Saundarya’s wedding when the jewels were worn. In her complaint Aishwarya mentioned that the valuables had moved lockers and locations three times as she had moved from their family home to her current apartment and frequent visits to parent’s home.  Naturally, suspicion for the theft pointed towards house maid Eashwari and driver Venkatesh. Both have been grilled by police, in the course of which some suspicious real estate deals and jewellery pledging trails have been unearthed. Reportedly, her maid has bought a plot worth Rs 95 lakhs at Sholinganallur with a bank loan. The police are investigating the money trail.  Meanwhile, Aishwarya is busy producing-directing Lal Salaam in which Daddy dear is doing a cameo, rumoured to be fast emerging as more substantial.

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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Biopic On ‘Biscuit King’ Rajan Pillai Runs Into Rough Weather

Malayalam superstar Prithviraj Sukumaran, who was supposed to direct and act in the web series Biscuit King, a biopic on Rajan Pillai, seems to have put the project on the back burner. Yoodlee Films, a subsidiary of Saregama, had announced in December 2021 that it was backing the project on Rajan Pillai who died a gruesome death in Tihar jail in 1995. Recently, when Prithviraj and actor Suriya got together for a photo shoot it was speculated that the Tamil superstar was in discussion to act in the biopic. However, Prithviraj’s PR team has now clarified that there is no biopic project and that the director’s next two projects are Empyrean and Tyson. Suriya is now expected to do a cameo role in Empuraan or Prithviraj could star in the Tamil actor’s upcoming movie. It may be recalled that in 2021 when the web series Biscuit King was announced, Prithviraj had said, “This story has it all; ambition, success, a jet-setting lifestyle and then a hubris-induced fall. It will be very interesting to discover what made this charismatic personality tick and to relive his intriguing, complex life”. It now looks like the project has been dropped. The biopic since its announcement had his critics as it was not clear whose version it was — Rajan Pillai’s wife Nina, Nusli Wadi/Sunil Alag combine who dethroned him or Rajan’s brother Rajmohan Pillai.
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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.
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@NayantharaU and @MalavikaM_

Clash Of Beauties: Malavika Mohanan Takes On Lady Superstar Nayanthara

Malayalam and Tamil cinemas sexy and outspoken star Malavika Mohanan is hissing like a cat on a hot tin roof. And no one can miss her direct and indirect references to Lady Superstar Nayanthara, now elevated as King Khan’s heroine in Jawan under production. Nayan has proved her versatility in movies like Aram, Naanum Rowdy Thaan, Raja Rani. Malavika was on the warpath last year too, baiting Nayan in veiled ways. There was the reference to Nayan’s scene in a movie where she had full makeup on for a hospital scene in which she played the patient. Mohanan shot her sarcastic arrow, “Guess even in a death scene such stars will flaunt full makeup”. Ouch! Now Mohanan is busy giving gyaan about why female stars should not use titles like Lady Superstar. Reportedly, Nayan is the highest paid heroine in south charging around Rs 10 crore per movie. Malavika herself is a drop dead gorgeous looker, and has been noticed in Petta, Master and Maaran. She is young, sought after and has miles to go before she takes off her makeup. Then why the barbed arrows? Currently shooting for Christy, maybe she is seeking publicity, even getting trolled by Nayan fans. Malavika has made social media handles sizzle. Is she eyeing the Lady Superstar title?

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.
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‘Pathaan’ Helps Reopen Single-Screen Theatres In Kolkata, Bengali Movies Lose Out

Shah Rukh Khan-starrer Pathaan gave a big push for the reopening of closed single-screen theatres in Kolkata. At least nine such halls including Bijoli, Prachi and Orient were reopened after they closed down due to stiff competition from multiplexes. However, Bengali films, including Dev and Mithun Chakraborty’s ‘Projapoti’, and superstar Prosenjit Chatterjee’s ‘Kaberi Antardhan’, celebrated actress Rituparna Sengupta’s ‘Maayakumari’ which were running at the box-office had been unceremoniously brought down owing to Pathaan release. Single Theatre Distributors’ law which clearly states that the single theatre owners will have to screen all four shows if the film has to be played on a single screen. While a section of the single-theatre owners chose Pathaan over the Bengal movies, another section chose to stand by the regional films. Owner of iconic single theatre Priya Cinema, Arijit Dutta said that his decision was purely from a business point of view where Pathaan pre-release booking surpassed the box-office collection of Bengali movies. Generally, one show used to be allocated to Bengali movies in case of big banner Hindi films but now there are no shows. Superstar Dev cautioned that it will soon become a “black Friday or black Wednesday for Tollywood” on the release date of a big Hindi film. On the contrary, owner of renowned single-theatre Navina, Navin Choukhani continued with Dev’s Projapati instead of Pathaan, saying that it had been his conscious decision to stand by Tollywood.

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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The Unstoppable ‘Pathaan’

The sizzling pair of shirtless Shah Rukh Khan and daringly bared Deepika Padukone have raised the sagging, down in the dumps spirit of Bollywood to unimaginable heights, despite all the pre-release boycott threats, raves, rants and reprimands. Is Deepika’s bright orange costume too “besharam” for Jhoomta Pathaan? Besharami is in the eyes of the beholder!  Director Siddharth Anand, the alchemist has peppered Pathaan with enough spills, thrills, chills and on screen sizzling chemistry of the lead pair. It is an immersive cinema experience (ICE). The first to be made in this format. Boycott calls and anti-Muslim propaganda filled pre-release. King Khan was silent. The entire industry was mobilised.  And then that whispered fiat from the PM happened…Don’t make public comments to rake up controversy on films, Bingo! The movie’s destiny changed. Released simultaneously in 100 countries, it is the first Hindi Movie on BookMyShow to hit 10 lakh bookings of which 30% was from the South. First Khan movie to have a 6 am show, with producers opting for more screens apart from the 5500 screens in India and 2500 overseas, selling over 8500 tickets in Germany worth 1.5 crore euros, beating KGF‘s full take. The first day collection at the Box Office was Rs 60 crore! Now the hot debate on media…did this boycott threat make Pathaan a forbidden fruit? Once again Pathaan has proved…leave artistic expression severely alone…the audience is the sole judge to applaud or trash.
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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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Award Winning Song ‘Naatu Naatu' Was Inspired By Tom & Jerry, Charlie Chaplin Says Choreographer Rakshit

Ok, India and particularly Tollywood is still drenched in the acclaim for winning the prestigious Golden Globe for the iconic song Naatu Naatu from S S Rajamouli’s magnum RRR with music by M M Keeravani. Soon the Choreographer Prem Rakshit who put in grinding hard work to make this hit sizzle on screen is also going places. He is over the top when talking about the congratulatory phone call from none other than Dance Wizard Prabhudeva. “All that blood sweat and tears while getting the hook step just right, seemed worth it. We were in Ukraine’s Kiev in August of 2021, roasted by heat…a few of my team suffered with burst veins, but practiced relentlessly for two months,” says Rakshit. He recollects the joy of choreographing the award winning song. Who inspired him? With a chuckle of mirth and joi de vivre, he says “My inspiration came from Tom & Jerry, and Charlie Chaplin”. Now it becomes clear that the frenzied dance steps and the foot tapping beats could only be inspired by the likes of Tom wantonly chasing Little Jerry, and that master super mimic, Chaplin. S.S Rajamouli, his heroes Jr NTR and Ram Charan have collaborated for an unforgettable film, RRR which raked Rs 1500 crore globally, along with great entertainment.
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TV Star Urfi Javed May Face Mob Lynching, Her Lawyer Warns Mumbai Police

The verbal combat between TV star Urfi Javed and BJP leader Chitra Wagh has taken a serious turn since a lawyer has written to the police that Urfi can be subjected to mob lynching. In a communication to the police by advocate Nitin Satpute, BJP’s Chitra Wagh has been instigating people over the attire of Urfi and Chitra’s followers are tarnishing her image. Moreover, Chitra has threatened to thrash Urfi publicly, the lawyer has said. Chitra and Urfi have been engaged in verbal duels day in and day out. Urfi has taunted Chitra repeatedly and occasionally dared her to take action. An oblique statement by Amruta, wife of deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, is perceived as supporting Urfi. Still, the war of words between the two continues. Quoting Chitra’s previous statements, Satpute says in his complaint, “Chatra announced that she would present Urfi with a sari but warned that if Urfi’s behaviour did not change, she would smash the actress. Such provocative language can cause violent attacks against Urfi. Therefore, the authorities should initiate action against Chitra.” Wagh retorted, “I don’t care who has written to the police. I will not allow such a naked dance in Maharashtra.” Although Chitra has been extremely vocal about the issues concerning women, her stance against Urfi is not to the liking of the party bosses, who have distanced themselves from the controversy so far.
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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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Kollywood Titans Vijay And Ajit Clash Again, For Whom Will The Cash Register Ring?

This Pongal should be very rewarding and exciting for the fans of Ilaya Dalapathi Vijay and Thala Ajit Kumar. The huge legions of crazed fans will finally get to see their heroes in action. Vijay’s Varisu and Ajit’s Thunivu hit big screens on January 11. Even though Brand Rajini and Brand Kamal are still eulogised as Superstar and Ulaganayagan for decades now, Vijay and Ajit too command the same kind of adulation and following. But the only difference is these two superstars’ fans have turned confrontationist. Reportedly, the price of a ticket, in black, for the opening shows were around Rs 1000-1300. This could climb to Rs 4,000 when fan craze becomes intense. New releases for Pongal are particularly star struck and of course, fans clash too over which hero commands more from at the Box Office. Udhayanidhi Stalin’s Red Giant has distribution rights for both the movies, so it is: “Heads I Win, Tails I Win“. Vijay, it is learnt, has tried every trick in the trade to promote his film — launch of Varisu music in the Nehru Stadium, getting pre-release snippets in every media handle. Boney Kapoor, the producer of Thunivu has much more at stake in terms of finance. Kapoor has spread himself thin after Ajit’s last outing disappointed.

All Eyes On ‘The Family Man’ Directors’ New OTT Series ‘Farzi’?

Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown have hit the fortunes of several lines of businesses. But some businesses have got a leg-up too. A case in point is OTT.  In India, during lockdown we have been entertained by superlative themes and extraordinary Indian creativity via various web series like Delhi Crime, Mirzapur, Panchayat to name a few. Netflix and Amazon, the pioneers who brought entertainment to homes, have garnered a binge audience for their serials and films. Now, Amazon Prime Video is all set to bring the 8-episode ‘Farzi’ from February 10 onwards. It is directed by Raj Nidimoru and Krishna DK of ‘The Family Man’ fame which brought international acclaim to Manoj Bajpayee and Samantha Prabhu. The creators of Farzi, D 2 K Films are ready with a sizzling star cast of Vijay Sethupathi from Kollywood and Shahid Kapoor from Bollywood, Raashi Khanna, Kay Kay Menon, Regina Cassandra, Zakir Hussain, Bhuvan Arora, Amol Palekar, and Kubbra Sait. Raj and DK have set their story in the middle class milieu /ethos of middling everything, soaked in comedy. The talented twins claim that Farzi will truly reflect the sweat and slick creativity of this team and make it binge worthy.
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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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Kollywood Signs Off The Year In Style With Four Women Centric Films

Four Tamil films which hit the big screens on the last Friday of 2022 are expected to do well at the box office. The movies are: Trisha’s Raangi, Aishwarya Rajesh’s Driver Jamuna, iconic comedienne Kovai Sarala’s Sembi and glamour bomb Sunny Leone’s Oh My Ghost (OMG). These films rest their gripping, relatable and down to earth story lines on the confident shoulders of the women who anchor these films. This trail-blazing trend that has anchored Kollywood through 2022, is based on realistic story lines and solid skill directors who get the best of seasoned performers. This is a business model that does not depend on overrated star heroes, unrealistic budgets and tiresome plots that cannot redeem such films from failure. A case in point Bollywood superstar Akshay Kumar’s back to back flops. Trisha, has chosen to go makeup free in Raangi. Prabhu Solomon who excels in wild life /rural themes is all set to melt hearts by Kovai Sarala’s touching portrayal in Sembi. Driver Jamuna is anchored by talented Aishwarya Rajesh, who takes up cab driving when her dad dies. Ok, we agree Oh My Ghost story is not exactly original, based on Korean TV.  Sunny Leone’s role as Sou Chef Na Bong Sun who gets possessed by a revenge seeking ghost.  Clearly, Kollywood film makers have a talent for making movies that entertain the audience and moolah for their producers.
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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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Bengal Politics: No Slot For Mithun-Dev Starrer At State-Owned Nandan Theatre

State-owned Nandan movie theatre continues to be the most coveted halls for film release in Kolkata. Amid growing political heat in West Bengal due to upcoming panchayat polls, the Opposition has blamed the ruling Mamata Government for not giving permission to screen the Bengali film Prajapoti starring Dev and Mithun Chakraborty at Nandan theatre.  Though Dev is Trinamool Congress (TMC) MP, Mithun switched from TMC to BJP. Significantly, Dev is the producer of the movie which was released on December 23, along with two other Bengali films — Hatyapuri and Haami 2. And both got permission to screen at Nandan. Interestingly Dev’s official Facebook page read “Will Miss You Nandan this time. No Issue. Will meet again… End of Story.” The post had a caption saying “Only Legends can understand this.” The producers said that they were the first to submit the application for screening while TMC says that application for screening of the film came late. BJP National Vice President Dilip Ghosh took a jibe stating Dev was also forced to contest the election; he wasn’t willing to do the same and in Bengal, if one doesn’t support the TMC, the prestigious Nandan remains out of reach. But, the murmur is loud and clear, was this move of the ruling government a clear message to Ghatal MP that Mithun dada remains an opponent even in art.
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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.

Is Kamal Haasan Trying To Resurrect His Floundering Political Outfit By Joining Bharat Jodo Yatra?

Even as the much delayed ( almost shelved) shooting of Indian 2, directed by Shankar resumed, Kamal Haasan ensured that a striking still of himself as the hero of Indian 2, in his old man get up posing opposite the  Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose statue at Marina Beach was splashed across social media. This artfully shot still does not show him facing the camera, but no one can miss Kamal in his Indian 2 avatar. “This statue of the great warrior Netaji was inaugurated by Kalaignar on the same day 25 years ago. I am standing under the statue while shooting for Indian 2. Great humans, great memories,” Kamal tweeted. Resurrecting his film career is not his only agenda. The awesome success of Vikram has given Kamal a much needed shot of adrenaline tinged testosterone. His floundering political outfit, Makkal Needhi Maiam (MNM) had to be resurrected too. What better than the chance to join Rahul Gandhi’s super optics road show, Bharat Jodo Yatra. With the likes of Raghuram Rajan giving the yatra heft, Kamal has said yes to Rahul’s invite. The President of MNM and his cadre will join the March in New Delhi on December 24. Kamal has got his much needed insurance for Indian 2 at the box office, and may be a slot for MNM in an omnibus alliance.

Odia Actor-Politician Anubhav Mohanty Seeks “Love in London"

Well known Odia star Anubhav Mohanty and youngest BJD MP is focusing on his first love — movies. It may be recalled that the Odia actor and his actress wife Varsha Priyadarshini made headlines when their marital discord became ugly. This popular star and sitting MP from Kendrapara, made a big splash two decades ago on the silver screen with his film “I Love You “. It was a super hit and made him a star overnight. Recently, the Odia star was seen in London shooting for his film Love In London. Film’s Director Tapas Sargharia who is also a well-known screenwriter and actor is thrilled that he was able to sign Anubhav for this project. “A large chunk of the film is shot at the iconic places – London Eye, London Bridge and Thames River”, said Sargharia. “It’s a love story with a difference,” he assures. Poulomi Das is the heroine. Anubhav revealed that the film’s climax is “unusual and the audience will have Goosebumps.”  This love story is deep-rooted in the social values, culture and tradition of Odisha. Film will hit the big screen in 2023. “It’s a huge balancing act between the Parliament and dates to shoot,” says Anubhav. “But I never lose a single day in the Parliament”, he says.  That’s work-life balance for him.
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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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Baba poster on Rajini’s bungalow gate

Does Enhanced ‘Baba’ Re-Release Signal Rajini’s Political Entry 2.0?

Superstar’s event management for his birthday rocks. Rajini has done it again. The nail-biting anticipation of his fans rekindled for his political entry, yet again. Like the now iconic Vadivelu dialogue, “Varum Aana Vaaradu” and people are left wondering, “I may come, I may not.” Rajini’s earlier movie Baba, not a box office success, was relaunched two days before his 72nd birthday. It was enhanced digitally and made more appealing. Baba’s message still remained same….Rajini is the spiritual icon, whatever his commercial calling. Today’s birthday greeting crowd at his doorstep is staring, jaw dropped at the blue Baba poster. The subliminal message, this is a promo for the relaunched film. But, is there a hidden political agenda in this re-release? Thalaiva is a born showman, master of the art of obfuscation, teasing and titillating. His literal last minute back off from active politics still rankles his fans. What if another bid is made, as insurance, commercial and political. Relaunched Baba is the sum of all these facets. Rajini is adept at keeping his crazed fan following intact….a lot of money rides on the films in the pipeline. And yes, he wants to equal the success of Kamal’s Vikram. What better way than the teaser “I am still a force to reckon with…alliance or all by myself.” Showmen are masters of show and tell. Often, the message itself is the show.
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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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Deepak Chopra, Doug Roland Team Up With Chef Vikas Khanna To Make Social Impact Films

Michellin Star Chef Vikas Khanna is on a roll as far as directing social impact films are concerned. His film Last Colour produced by Jitendra Mishra on Amazon Prime has had good reviews. Not one to rest on his laurels, he managed to get the world renowned speaker-author Deepak Chopra and Oscar nominated social impact filmmaker Doug Roland as Executive Producer and Producer for his latest documentary Barefoot Empress co-produced by Mishra . The short documentary follows the journey of 96-year-old Karthyayani Amma as she joins a first grade class, to realize her lifelong dream of receiving an education. The film is inspired by Khanna’s grandmother who was not given an opportunity at an education. Khanna who has partnered with non-profit Leap to Shine, said, he will “use the film to raise funds in service of providing high quality education for girls in underserved communities in India.” Barefoot Empress has helped rehabilitate 11 classrooms in India. According to Dr Deepak Chopra, “Barefoot Empress carries a universal message of hope and perseverance that has the power to move viewers, and the momentum to impact the lives of thousands of girls in India.” Barefoot Empress has qualified for the Oscar shortlist, won at the Short Shorts Film Festival & Asia, where it picked up the Biogen Award and the Best Short Documentary at the Big Apple Award.
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Is Superstar Rajini Scripting His Swansong?

His 73rd birthday is on December 12, and true to form, Rajini posters have mysteriously sprung up at vantage points of Poes Garden. This time with a difference. The swashbuckling film hero, larger than life images on the posters have given way…to a visibly aged man, sparse hair and spectacles, scoping out the horizon. But this poster is perhaps meant to hint at a new avatar? On closer scrutiny, this “misinformation poster “reads “, governor and people, our Thalaivar is worthy of worship”. The operative hook here is Governor! Who knows? This is typical Rajini, teasing, hinting, rousing expectations and when it comes to the crunch, backing out! After his last few films faring poorly, and Kamal’s Vikram zooming to the top, Rajini, intent on a super hit as his swan song, worked hard at choosing a new film, director and story for Jailer, now under progress. But the buzz is Rajini wanting a youthful comeback film, chose a youthful director Nelson, even as his old reliable director P Vasu coaxed him hard to accept Chandramukhi 2, to revive that 2005 hit which sent the cash registers jingling! Now Rajini is rumoured to be regretting saying no to Chandramukhi2. A theory doing the rounds is that the 2002 flop Baba may be re-released after it is cosmetically enhanced with more digital audio heft.
Varun Dhawan

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.

Kamal with director Shankar

Overworked Universal Hero Kamal Haasan In And Out Of Hospital

Last week Kamal Haasan had just returned from a trip to Hyderabad when he felt uneasy and feverish. He got himself admitted to the Ramachandra Medical Centre in Chennai. Though the Ulaganayagan tried to play it down as just fever and cough, no one was taking a chance with a 68-year old who constantly flits from super busy work schedules in films, his weekend shoots for the hugely popular reality show Bigg Boss 6 and his political commitments. The recent success of his film Vikram which totted up Rs 450 crore business worldwide came through as a big shot in the arm for the star who had been smarting under recent cinematic and political setbacks. So Kamal had a rip roaring occasion to celebrate his 68th birthday by announcing a team up with ace director Mani Rathnam, a reunion after 35 years. With A R Rahman creating music, jointly produced by Kamal and Udhayanidhi Stalin. Even this announcement sent his fans into a tizzy of feverish anticipation. As much as the resumption of shooting for Indian 2, much delayed and much-awaited even as magnum director Shankar anticipated this film’s restart. Whatever bug sent him to hospital, his fans, family and financiers must be praying for a quick recovery. Bouncing back with energy to health and back to back action is what Kamal loves best. Hospital sojourns are intermissions during a show.


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.