Sex comedies are fine, but female sexuality isn’t?

Many years ago, Imtiaz Ali’s Geet from Jab We Met was told by a lech, “akeli ladki khuli tijori ki tarah hoti hai,” and many men have not been able to sense the sarcasm displayed in these lines. Especially the ones who work closely with the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) in our country.

For years, we have been witnessing abla naaris screaming ‘bachao’ at the top of their voices, as they were raped by heinous men on screen. All they did was wait for the hero or their son to take revenge, so they could rest in peace.

Nobody ever raised a voice against such films, and gradually, they became the foundation of sanskaar in the world of Hindi cinema. Everything was running smoothly until we came across films where women said something more than ‘bachao’. They started taking their own life decisions, and the foundation was shattered. We weren’t sanskaari anymore.

Lipstick Under My Burkha released recently, and has been winning hearts all across. Much before it released in India, the film garnered much appreciation internationally, and the minute the makers brought it back for a release in India, hell froze over. Because we cannot see our women as sexual beings; we can only look at them as sexual objects. We teach them to be hush-hush about their sexuality, but never miss an opportunity to be lecherous, as everything about them is salacious.

If you don’t believe me, this is why the film was stalled by CBFC:

The story is lady oriented, their fantasy above life. There are contanious sexual scenes, abusive words, audio pornography and a bit of sensitive touch about one particular section of society, hence the film is refused.

Firstly, the term ‘lady oriented’ immediately creates a divide between the two genders, as no one in the history of cinema has ever stopped a film for being too ‘male oriented’. They could fly from mountains, break bones, shoot people and do everything under the sun, but we would be gushing. They were super heroes and we were waiting to be rescued, always.

While the thought of a woman’s fantasies distorted the beliefs of some people, the longest scene of sexual violation in the stupendous Baahubali was passed without even a thought.

However, the success of Lipstick Under My Burkha only tells us that it is not disrupting anything in the country, especially when it comes to the feelings of the people who hold the baton of morals. While people told Ekta Kapoor that the film would not even recover the budget of promotions, today the film stands tall with pride and a big smile.

Speaking of battles, when Anushka Sharma took charge and became a super hero, as she willingly bashed the goons of Haryana in NH 10, it brought out CBFC’s inner conflict one more time. The question is why was there an issue with this particular sequence, when we all have grown up watching angry young men bashing up goons? What was the trigger this time? That a woman didn’t wait for someone to be rescued, as she cried and begged?

I remember sitting down with Leena Yadav, the director of Parched which starred Radhika Apte, Tanishtha Chatterjee and Surveen Chawla. We spoke about what a tedious process it was to get the film screened in India. While the film bagged 18 international awards, in India, the whole narrative surrounding the film was focused solely on the leaked scene where Radhika Apte was seen making love to her co-star.

Reducing a film to something as irrelevant as this is what is terrifying. Even after so much appreciation internationally, the makers had to fight with tears, blood and sweat to make sure that the film releases in India. Isn’t it ironic? The film spoke about liberation, but on the other hand, the experience of making sure it got a wide release was diametrically opposite.

While the makers of such films had to walk through fire to get their films released, nothing really happens to sex comedies in India, as far as censuring is concerned.

We all watch them, laugh, cringe, and hoot. If we are progressive enough to release films about sex while any discussion about the subject is considered taboo, why do we suddenly assume a moralistic stand when women take the forefront rather than being on the receiving end in films? Don’t we all remember Grand Masti, Mastizaade and Kya Kool Hai Hum?

These are just a handful of films dealing with female desire which have faced judgments, but the full list is long and tedious. From Angry Indian Goddesses to a kiss in Spectre, the reasons get more absurd by the day. When will this hypocrisy end?

This article was first published on Firstpost

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Review Mubarakan: Thank God For Anil Kapoor

When it comes to Anees Bazmee, Welcome is my absolute favourite. I have watched it so many times and every time it makes me laugh immeasurably. Speaking of Mubarakan, Rupinder Chahal and Balwinder Singh Janjua have sketched a narrative around a dramatic Punjabi family with one uncle who happens to be everyone’s favourite. Trust me, we all have one! Kartar Chachu & Mamu to Karan and Charan (Arjun Kapoor) respectively is played by Anil Kapoor and hands down he is the funniest thing in the film. He is the reason trouble brews in the family and comes up with the weirdest ideas to solve those problems as well. Kartar Singh has an opulent mansion facing the sunflower field in London which he fondly refers to as Mini Punjab. He drives a striking red car which says, ‘You are chasing a Punjabi…’ Well, many gags are up his sleeve and he is on point every time he cracks them, I swear on the Queen. Anil Kapoor’s energy is infectious and puts a smile to your face instantly.

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Arjun Kapoor takes up the double role of twins Karan and Charan who thankfully are not at all like each other. No homage to Judwa happens here, which is a good sign. While Karan is an over smart guy who lives in London, Charan is taken care by his aunt in Chandigarh. He is docile and a mild mannered, way too polite Sikh boy. One thread that binds them is the fact that they are petrified of telling their families the truth about their love life and trouble brews- Bazmee style.

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Pavan Malhotra is an angry hotelier from Chandigarh, another one to look for in the film. He owns being a sardar and he is done it so many times but still, manages to do it so well. He is crazy and screams at every opportunity. He is hilarious and you’re sitting there like, Oh boy!

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Ileana D’Cruz and Athiya Shetty have similar personalities as their love interests in the film. While Sweety ( Ileana D Cruz) is a hot headed Sardarni like Karan, Binkle (Athiya Shetty) is shy and docile like Charan. They are in the film to create chaos for Kartar Chachu to fix.

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Mubarakan is a funny film and the ensemble has pulled off a comedy without any double entendre puns. The first half provides way too many laughs as compared to the second half where it bends towards family drama. If they would have chopped that part out with some songs, it would have been hilarity on steroids. But the minute second half seems to look like a drag, Anil Kapoor wears a cape and tries to save it with full force. Thank God for Anil Kapoor!

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This article was first published on Filtercopy

“I Will Revive RK Films When I Direct”: Ranbir Kapoor

He is the finest we have, better than fine wine most of the times. He aces whatever part he picks up and makes sure you never forget it. I sit with Ranbir Kapoor to talk about how he crumbles the cookie, all the time.

You wanted to revive the RK banner but with Jagga Jasoos you started Picture Shuru Productions. Do you still plan to revive the family banner?

My intention is to make a film for my own banner but that is when I direct a film. Anurag Basu is a very big name and his contribution to this film is way more than mine. It was only fair for me to produce with him 50-50. I did not want to take the entire credit of producing this film. That is why we started Picture Shuru Productions for Jagga Jasoos and not to start a big company or anything. We have made Jagga Jasoos like a franchise film and want to do more films relating this character but all that depends if the film does well.

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Did all the waiting whilst you act and produce your first film get a little easier as the family understands how things work in the business?

My father was completely against this process. He used to take my case every time. He would keep telling me that I am not being responsible while producing a film. He would say, “ Why is this taking so long? There is money involved by other people and your reputation, your money is at stake too…” Honestly, I am an actor and that is my skill set and do not have a skill set of a producer. It is a job that I don’t do well. I am not the actor who will tell the director that I will give you 50 days and you have to finish the film in it. I understand film making as an art that requires a certain time and everything happens in its own time and destiny. Eventually, when the audience watches the film, it doesn’t matter if you have taken 5 years or 3 days. As long as the film is good, that is what matters. I have always lived my career by this principle and would follow that in future as well. But having said that, I think Jagga Jasoos was made in an irresponsible way. We could have been more responsible. But it was a very hard genre for dada.

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You have been touted as the finest actor of the generation. Do you sometimes feel that some scripts don’t do justice to your talent?

I don’t feel that I am so talented that nothing is on my level. But I feel that I have been very lucky that I have got support from the film industry, the media, the audience.  and so many good film makers have come to me.  They have really supported me even in my failures. You know, whenever I have tried to go by formula like a Besharam, I have fallen flat on my face. It is not something that comes naturally to me. The riskier parts, the non-heroic parts where the deeds are heroic are the roles I connect with. I like playing the under hero and not the larger than life hero. I go by my instinct so if my gut likes the story and the director, I sign it. You know, my father always pulls me up for the fact that I do a lot of risqué films. He wants me to do more Hindi-masala-commercial films. That is the school of thought that he has lived his life by. I know that if I follow that, I will fall flat on my face. I have my own perspective about life and pre conceived notions about certain things, so I follow my instinct. My mother is a healthier creative partner to me. Whatever script I get, I do give it to her. She always has some very interesting things to say. Not that she will ever influence me to do or not do any film but she will always give a very honest opinion. My father is a little over critical, so I don’t think he would be able to operate my career. 

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The nepotism debate has been stirred again. You hail from the first family of Indian Cinema, do you feel any differently?

Well of course it exists. I am a product of nepotism. I got opportunities because of my parents, my father got opportunities because of his father and his father got opportunities because of his father’s father. For my children, if they choose to be actors, I would give them a platform also. If they want to become doctors, I would give them that platform as well. I would give them the education, the backing to follow their dream. So I mean it in that way. My family business has lasted for the last 85 years. It is unfair to a lot of people who are way more talented than us but we do get opportunities and attention. This is a big example but if Lionel Messi’s son wants to become a footballer, you want to watch him play to know if he has his father’s talent.

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If any person has accomplished something in any person in any field, you want to see if their kid is as good as them. There is a curiosity about them. The film industry is more glamorous and more focused on because it is exciting. People like to get point of views and a debate on. Yes, nepotism exists everywhere but in the film industry, it exists more. I don’t want to be a cry baby about this that I have so much pressure on me or so many expectations. I have been given a lot and I am very grateful. I am grateful for the fact that I get to do what I love. Very few people in the world get to do what they love and am very grateful that my parents gave me such an opportunity. Sanjay Leela Bhansali launched me but after that, it is about your talent, your vision and how hard you work. Thank fully I have not been compared to my family. I had my own stamp. There are certain actors who have a style and their children try to follow that. My father didn’t have a style as he has always been a spontaneous natural actor. So you cannot compare our styles, so that is a positive.   

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Things were not going the way you must have wanted in the last few years. Did the negativity ever boggle down your confidence?

You are as good your last film. But I have got tremendous support from everyone around me. People know my intention as an actor and like my work. I have a Karan Johar, Rajkumar Hirani, Imtiaz Ali, Anurag Basu- the premier film makers come to me. Yes, I accepted the failure and understood that I was a hard time but it was a very important time. You know, the first few years of an actor’s career you don’t think because there is so much adulation and fame that you’re getting. Like after 10 years, a saturation point comes when you think how can you take it to the next step. I have been tagged as the next superstar for a really long time but honestly, I have not really reached that stage. I think it is very important to accept that and not be in denial of it. Those films happened because I chose them, not because of any other reason. So they are a part of me. Even when a successful film has come to me, I have not been affected by it because for every actor it is a case of survival in the industry. I have survived for 10 and hope to survive for the next many.

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That is what I want to do- do good work, with good people. I had this ambition to become the biggest superstar of the country but that was very immaturely said. It takes a lot to reach there. Now when I have finished 10 years here, I admire the efforts of the Khans, Akshay Kumar, Ajay Devgan for so many years. They have been constantly reinventing themselves for so long. It is admirable as it is very hard to do that.

Every character that you play is searching for something and the emotional graph of them seem to touch my heart. All the time!

To be honest, I don’t think it is by design. Subconsciously I get attracted to these characters. Fortunately or not, I have done a lot of coming of age films where this guy is on this journey of finding himself until a girl reminds him of what he actually is. I think I have to change that too and discover a new me. The core emotion in Hindi cinema is very important as people want to laugh and cry. You can’t make a superficial film and just impress them visually. The core emotion always stays with the person. If I have moved you in one way or the other, then the love stays.

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Speaking of emotionally driven parts that you’re terrific at, you’re not expressive at all when it comes to the reality of things. Right?

I am an introvert and a very closed person. It is very hard for me to express in my real life to my family and friends about what I am feeling. With cinema, I have an outlet so I find it easier to express myself in films. I don’t fear judgment here but I fear judgment in real life. That has helped me. I think it is a manufacturing defect. I have always been like this. My mom tells me when I was a kid, if I was scared, or saw a snake or something, I would never express. I would just feel some chemical imbalance in my body. Yes, it is a manufacturing defect.

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You’ve often said that you’re not expressive enough to be on social media as opposed to your father’s tweets.

I read it only when there is some controversy. My father is a very honest person, he says it how it is. There are very few people in this world and especially in the film industry who are not hypocrites or marketing themselves. He is not marketing himself, he believes that he is a normal citizen of the country. So be it a political statement, anything related to entertainment or if he has a point of view, he will say it. He doesn’t fear judgment. He gets into a lot of trouble. There are constant morchas outside his house. People are trolling him, they are hating on him. My mother is constantly fighting with him, throwing him out of the room. But that is how he is and you have to accept him how he is. He is not coming from a negative place to hurt anyone but is just expressing himself. I admire that as I can never be like him.

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You’ve always wanted to be a director, do you have a plan to execute the dream?

I went to a film school because I always wanted to be a director. I became an actor and found some success in it and every year I used to say that in 2 years, I will direct a film but that is again very immature. I can’t direct till I have a story to tell and I believe that I am not a writer. It is another shortcoming of mine. Once I get a story where I feel that I can express myself and make a nice film out of, that will be the time. It would be really silly otherwise. I don’t want to do it just like that. I want it to come very naturally.

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Barring all the negativity that was buzzing around for the last 3 years about Jagga Jasoos.   Did you feel full, vacuum or indifferent when you gave your last shot for the film?

I felt disbelief. I felt that he ( Anurag Basu) would call me anytime back on set. Iska kuch barosa nahi hai. He works in chaos and will always shoot till the last minute. So I was prepared. I’ll tell you, I have had 4 last shots in the film on 4 different days too. They all clapped for me, I hugged everyone then I was called to set again 4 times.

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Thank God For Ranbir Kapoor

Cast: Ranbir Kapoor, Katrina Kaif, Saswata Chatterjee, Saurabh Shukla

Director: Anurag BasuRanbir Kapoor Acting HD Wallpaper In Jagga Jasoos

 

Going into the world of Jagga, one needs to surrender themselves to the genre. Anurag Basu is a very sharp director with a chief like Ravi Varman in his army. Varman has made sure that each and every element seems so beautiful that you want to dive right in that world where Jagga lives. Basu is the man behind this magnum opus and he has helmed it at its best as the story-telling is effortless and this is a musical done right. The lyrics bring in some comic relief and the musical is not so heavy that you’re at the deep end of the sea. You will laugh at the stupidity and shed a little tear at how earnest Jagga is.

Jagga is someone who you like in a jiffy and Ranbir has managed to wear this part as his second skin. I bow down to his sincerity to pull off anything under the sun. Right from the time when he was little, he is introduced as an ever wondering mind who needs to find the answers to all the questions which makes it easier for us to believe Jagga being a Jasoos as he grows up. From the beginning, I am invested right into the scheme of things and want to know more. Speaking of a sharp mind, Basu has painted the canvas with a backdrop of Manipur which is a brilliant fit. Adventure, fairy tale and a boy trying to be the best detective that he can.

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The chronicles of Jagga from solving local cases to becoming too big for his shoes takes you to places where you wouldn’t think- the larger scheme of things is where he lands himself in trouble time and again. The narrative is designed for children and the maker makes sure that he comments on the social evils in the world as well. Jagga’s longing for his father takes him on a search for the missing pieces of his father’s life. Saswata Chatterjee, who is loved as Bob Vishwas from Kahaani is floozy, clumsy and extremely loveable. You keep your fingers crossed and hope that Jagga finds his father.

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One thing that caught my attention was how cleverly written Shruti’s part essayed by Katrina Kaif is. She plays a journalist who is a goofball and nicely fits the scheme of things. Having justified the accent that comes from the west, she flip-flops and matches the energy of the narrative. The film has been shot in Morocco and trust me, Varman’s camera is so enticing that it makes you want to enter the world where ostriches and giraffes run free with you. The film is so beautiful that it’s soothing. The only word that describes the film is – picturesque! When you watch films for a living, there are days when you lose hope and then comes Ranbir Kapoor to ensure that your faith in movies is restored. Thank you for the movies RK!

This article was first published on Filtercopy.

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“I Want To Do Something Unusual”:Katrina Kaif

She’s been the quintessential Hindi film heroine for a really long time and wants to break from that. Her wish is if Jagga Jasoos does well, that would help her to break the traditional shell and try riskier projects. I sit down with Katrina Kaif to discuss giving your all for a film which is even bigger than passion. 

 

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Many times when a film takes longer than expected, the idea of its relevance is talked about a lot. 

As an actor who knows the process of being on set and making a film, I don’t think there is any relevance to the end product and the time it took to be shot. Avatar took 10 years to make but having said that we have not made Avatar. Every film has its own journey and its own process. What is important is the vision of the film and what you are trying to do with the film. There are some stories which are pure passions with a humongous vision. The kind of vision Anurag Basu has for Jagga Jasoos is really big. It is complex, new and unusual. It was always going to be a process which is a little lengthy.

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There is a lot of trial and error in a film like this and there is a lot of work that goes behind constructing the narrative of the film as it is all through music. So you have to have songs that flow into the scenes and scenes which are also songs. There has to be a break as you can’t feel that you are just watching one long song. To seamlessly put together all these musical elements into a screenplay is a time-consuming process. Pritam da is a genius of his own accord and so is dada ( Anurag Basu). They need their time as some people do not work according to timelines. There are certain artists like that. They work odd hours and have a creative process. You cannot control it and that is the reason why the film took the time that it took.

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The Indian audience is not well versed with a full blown musical. Did that thought ever bother you?

Every film is a risk in its own. You can have the most tried and tested formula like film and that might not work. That is the journey of a film. You cannot predict it. It is a risky business as it has no definite outcome.  Some people might say that Tiger Zinda Hai is a safer film than Jagga Jasoos but if the story is good, it will work. It will find its audience. People have to be willing to watch this film with an open mind. If they are not willing to accept the newness of the narrative, then maybe we will have an issue. But if they come to experience this journey, it’ll be good. I feel people will accept it. I love musicals. I am driven by music and these are the films I grew up watching.

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Many years ago, you wanted to produce films. Do you still want to pursue it?

I just think that it is another element of this industry which will be nice to be experienced. It will be nice to learn about. I will produce a film when there is a story that I really connect with on a personal level and I find someone who I can partner with because I don’t know the technicalities of it. I think Ali (Abbas Zafar) and I would be able to partner as he is a very close friend of mine.

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After essaying parts of a quintessential Bollywood heroine, Jagga Jasoos is a new territory. Isn’t it?

You know what, I would like to do something with the characters that are a little unusual. Something like Silver Linings Playbook where the girl’s part is a little unusual. I have done enough traditional kind of roles now. I would want to do films that are about the workings of the mind of the character that I play and not just a love interest anymore. I also believe that if Jagga Jasoos works, it will give people a renewed confidence in me. This industry goes a lot by general consensus.

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Anurag Basu who is a genius. Did you catch him between shots to admire him? What lured you the most about him?

His vision. A director needs to have a very imaginative mind and the ability to execute that imagination as well. I also have a very imaginative mind but I lack the ability to express and materialize it. If you look at dada’s film, it seems like he is always in search of something unique. He is in search of a certain connect between the story, characters through his audience. He wants to find a special connection and not just a film which is mildly entertaining.

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Known to drop a bomb on his actors on set, How did you find Shruti in Jagga’s world?

My process of getting into the character is just being with the director and going on the journey with him. Unless I am playing someone where I have a physical disability or if you need to learn a skill. Then you need to work on that element separately. But in terms of finding the character, I am just there to follow the director. That is how I have always worked. If the director wants me to do workshops, I’ll do it. If the director wants me to sit in a room to do character building exercises, I’ll do that.  But dada is not like that. He will construct what he wants on set and will talk to you a lot. You will find the character in the conversations. He won’t come and give it to you. You’ll find it from just by catching him between shots, sitting next to him in lunch breaks and just being there with him. Between the shots, I would not go in my van because I wanted to see what dada is doing. I would get up and talk to him. Sometimes he would ignore me, sometimes he would brush me off, sometimes he would interact and give me something. You just have to wait till you get it.

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From Phantom, Jagga Jasoos, Tiger Zinda Hai to Thugs Of Hindustan, the line up looks eclectic. Doesn’t it?

Otherwise, you bore yourself right? I remember when Farah Ma’am ( Farah Khan) came to me for Sheila Ki Jawani, it was a huge challenge for me to execute her vision for that song. Now, if today someone comes up with a similar song, of course, I would love to learn a new technique of dance like how we did with Vaibhavi Ma’am ( Vaibhavi Merchant) in Dhoom 3, but the level of excitement will not be the same as it is not novelty for me anymore.

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To find something that makes you grow as a person, you have to keep doing it. Having said that, I will not just randomly pull some female oriented characters that don’t speak to me. If it is not a film that I would watch or would take my friends to, then I wouldn’t want to put my audience through it just for an experience to make myself feel important. It has to come together.

 

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Beneath The Surface Of A Demi God

Bollywood is something we all have consumed, admired and aspired for all our lives.

Be it as a child, when you wanted to be heroic, or while proposing to your beau with enough dialogues to make them melt, or also watching your favorite film on TV for the umpteenth time. There’s no escaping hindi films.

We all have awed and had our jaw drop when stupendous stars walk out of their spic-n-span cars with their entourage. A thought that most of us have: what a life these stars live!

But beneath the surface of glitter and glamour, there is a person who is petrified of walking alone. Everything we see is an armor, which shields them from what a nightmare one failure can be.

I remember meeting with Shah Rukh Khan right after Raees hit the theaters and initial buzz claimed that the film was good. The first thing I had to ask him was if he was relieved. He smiled at me, and said, “ When someone has been working for a very long time, what happens is that they are already in the minds of the people. I meet mothers and they tell me that their second child also loves me. If you look at all my films historically, they open very well as a lot of people come very excited to see the film. Now that causes two problems for me personally. When so many people are coming to watch my film, I hope and wish that I can give most people what they have come for. And secondly, if I am doing the same thing again and again, I start having problems with that as an actor.”

He furthered, “You know, if you give the audience something new and it doesn’t work like Fan, I get heartbroken, not discouraged. But if you are trying to do something new and it works, the happiness just doubles. I have been in the business for a very long time, so I can sense whether people are liking the film or not. Before the release of a film, I keep sitting on the black sofa at my house, my family knows what I am going through that time. I keep sitting on it and don’t do anything. No phone, no TV and I only meet my kids that time.”

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Shah Rukh Khan in Fan

Having been the boss of Indian Cinema for the last two and a half decades, how does one stay humble and vulnerable when you have everything at the hit of a button?

“Strangely, I know my life will be remembered by the work I do. Everything else will take second set to it. I really appreciate the fact that my family understands it. I am a public figure, I have to do what I have to do. Even if I don’t take my problems home, my family has to bear them. My daughter calls me once or twice a week, my son calls me once in two weeks but in the last four days as the film during the release of the film, my children have called me multiple times in a day and strangely I missed the calls as I wasn’t expecting them. I know they will just call to ask how I am or to tell where they are but I know in their mind they know that papa’s film is releasing and we need to be with him,” he said.

But the fact remains that one is tied down by the image they make for themselves.

SRK has often said that he is the master slave to the image of Shah Rukh Khan. But is there any way out when you want to satisfy the artist in you?

He ponders over it and tells me, “If you have been working for so long, then the responsibility on you increases. I always say that love is unconditional and I believe in it genuinely. When I go back home after failure or success, the love is there as it is unconditional. So I feel that people love me so much that if by mistake I don’t do something very good, they will still love me. They know that there is no selfish reason behind it, but I was just trying and when I will do something correctly, they will love me the same. That is why I have the strength to try out certain things. I feel a lot of pain when something doesn’t go right especially when I decide to do something different.”

It all boils down to how responsible these stalwarts feel about their stardom. They say that fans are the ones who take the honest decision of creating or bursting the bubble, do the stars believe this too?

Fan favorite Salman Khan had once told me how the last word has to be your fans and not yours.

 

Would one be wrong to assume that Tubelight appears to be have been inspired by Bajrangi Bhaijaan but with Salman Khan as the little Pakistani girl who needs to be saved?

Salman Khan in Tubelight

 

 

“When someone is paying money, you need to see good things. Whatever is happening in my life is going to happen in my life, is my problem. What are you coming to see? A great movie right? You have come to see entertainment, and that is my duty to keep my problems aside and give you what you have come for. I have to deliver. Deliverance is my thing towards my fans. I have a huge responsibility towards them and no matter what stress I am going through, it is not going to stop me from doing my work and whatever I do for my fans,” said Salman.

But how does the artist survive in the middle of the rat race and the fans? The bubble does make you a slave and all you do is obey to what your superstar alias tells you to do.

They say an artist is a wanderer but in Bollywood where everything is so mechanical, is he really wandering?

This article was first published on Firstpost

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“I Am Happy That My Fans Still Go Crazy”- Sridevi

Even after 50 years in the business & 300 films, Sridevi is as humble as if this was her first. You compliment her and she gives the entire credit to all the technicians she has worked with. “My journey has been beautiful and wonderful. I thank all my co-stars and my directors, producers and all my technicians who made me this. “ You compliment her even more and she’s embarrassed. Speaking of fans lining up even today with the same enthusiasm, she feels ecstatic and says, “We really worked hard for that. We literally slogged, so we are happy if they go crazy as we want it that way.” I sit down to chat with this legend of a human being. 

  

After English Vinglish, what lured you about Mom?

Well, it’s a very simple story but the subject is very emotional. But the reason why I did this film is because of the relationship between the mother and daughter. That really moved me and I had a good feeling about this. I always go with my instinct.  I am like a normal mother, it should really move you. That’s the only thing I go by. The rest about how the film will be made is for the producer and the director to worry. They are the ones who can do justice to the subject. Even when you watch English Vinglish, it is a very simple story but the way Gauri ( Shinde) treated the film made all the difference. You know, I think about family members in the sense of how they react to a particular character. Forget about me being, ‘Sridevi’ or what she does and how she does it. I am a normal mother and I think how I would react to it. I don’t think too much about other things. My approach to selecting films is very simple, it should touch my heart. 

Mom-7

So, do you discuss parts with family before coming on board?

Discussion happens in every household. If you are in a family, you won’t take a decision just like that. When you hear something nice, you would want to share it with them. Of course, I do share things with my daughters and my husband.

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Speaking of family, your daughters are all set to make their debut. Do you advise them on how to handle certain things that might come handy?

Like any other mother, be it in this profession or any other, I tell my daughters the right things to do. Work hard, give your best. I keep telling them that hard work always pays off. 

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We love seeing you, Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Akshaye Khanna in one frame. Watching such fine actors in one frame is a treat! 

Nawaz is unbelievable. There are some actors who are so versatile and he is that. When he is a villain, you hate him, you are scared of him. But when he plays a vulnerable character, he is unbelievable. I am a big admirer of his work and I had a great experience working with him. Working with Akshaye (Khanna) and Nawaz was absolutely amazing and even Sajal (Ali), she plays my daughter in the film and Adnan Siddiqui who plays my husband and all of them are brilliant. I was on my toes in the entire film because I was working with such actors. I learned a lot from them.

You have seen the Indian Cinema and the fraternity evolve in so many ways. Do you enjoy the things that have changed?

There is too much exposure today but we have to change with the time. Everything has changed, the media, the takes in a film, the environment. Everything has changed. There was not much media that time so people didn’t know so much about us. There was always a mystery. Speaking of today’s generation, they want to know more about the actors, so everything works around that. So, I think it is fine.   

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We have heard so many stories about you being an introvert and in a split second being magic on camera.

That is with every actor you know. The moment the camera starts, you have to forget everything and you become that person that you are playing. Only then you can do justice to it. Speaking of Mom, I lived in that character. I became Devaki. I was feeling what she is going through because emotions are very draining. It is very unnerving to be in such a situation.

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Comparing what stardom was and what it is now, things have changed. Do you feel differently?

I don’t agree. Many actors are doing well and have made their mark in the industry. You take Deepika Padukone, Priyanka Chopra, Vidya Balan, Kangna Ranaut, Anushka Sharma, Alia Bhatt. They all are special, they all are stars and have achieved a lot. Their performances are unbelievable. When you watch any film of theirs, you feel that she is the best. It is absolutely outstanding what they are doing.

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Having worked with so many directors in all these years, who do you think brought the best in you?

I think many directors. But of course, Shekhar Kapur, he is the best for an actor and gets the best out of them. But honestly, all the directors that I have worked with are special.

Today if you think about not being an actor, what else would you have pursued?

I love to paint, I think if not an actor, I would have been a painter. But something creative definitely.