“Salman taught me to fly & I don’t allow him to fly too much”- Kabir Khan

Kabir Khan is such a knowledgeable man that you can sit with him and talk about so many things. The best part of the conversation is that is so on point with his material that you’re just sitting there listening to the man who has probably researched each and every bullet point there ever was. Tubelight is undoubtedly a hit and the collaboration of Kabir and Salman Khan has given the films something magical that all of us were waiting for a long time Having said that, he strongly feels that films these days are over promoted: “We over explore. We over do it. There is no empirical evidence for me that this leads to more ticket sales. I can tell you it doesn’t.” I sit down with the man who knows it all, KABIR KHAN.

 

#Tubelight Countdown begins…

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Three blockbusters with Salman Khan consecutively. How have you seen him evolve in all these years?

I have seen an evolution in Salman from Tiger to now as he was a little blasé. He didn’t need to prove anything to anybody. From there to Bajrangi, I saw him getting involved with the character. He would start to look like the character but Bajrangi came very easily to him. We were basically dipping into his inherent charm, you know, Salman is a very charming person. Now, Tubelight was far more complicated. I think this is his toughest till date as he is a man-child in it. So he can never look normal or off. It is more difficult for him because he is the epitome of machismo in the country who is suddenly playing this vulnerable, sensitive boy-man. You know, now it is very important to me – what does the character stand for? What is the message he is sending out to the audience? Speaking of preparing for the part, this is the first time I saw him actually prepare. This is the first time, I saw him struggling to get a hold of this character. Also, he wouldn’t admit to it because it is not cool enough. (Laughs) He would call me in the middle of the night and ask for a reference. I didn’t have any references to give him. I came up with a film called, Forest Gump, but even in it, Tom Hanks takes an atonal approach which didn’t work for this part because I wanted him to be excitable, laugh, cry. Then, he met a person he knew of who somehow was close to this character and he met him.

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I was a little cruel, but on the first day of the shoot, I made him do the climax scene. I told him that I am throwing him into the deep end. Let’s see if we drown, we’ll figure something out. On the first day of shoot in Ladakh right before our shot, he disappeared. We all are sitting there and I am wondering where has Salman gone. He came out after 40 minutes and pretty much in a zone, which I have never him in. He is someone who would be whistling and laughing and the minute I say action, he’ll start crying. So, he never prepares and enters a scene but that day I could see that he was trying to not have an interaction with anyone before the shot and we rolled. That is a single take scene which finally made it as is. I didn’t say anything to him and he performed something I didn’t tell him to. Then I realized where he was for the last 40 minutes. It was really heartening as a director.

 

How has Salman influenced you in all these years and vice versa?

Earlier, I would have given this credit to Adi Chopra (Aditya Chopra) but Salman has helped me to get out of a rut of finding logic and context to everything that is happening. Both Aditya and Salman have told me, “Just sometimes fly.” If you take cinematic liberty, don’t get so disturbed by it. He has helped me approach a scene with more flare. Earlier, I used to argue that logic in each and every scenario does matter but now haverealizedd that sometimes I can fly. I have contributed the reverse to Salman. I keep telling him that logic does matter after a point. I think, it is the blending of the two sensibilities that has worked. He allows me to fly a little, I don’t allow him to fly too much.

 

With the backdrop of an Indo- Sino war, did you consciously sketch out how it fits the times of today, or was it co-incidental?

It was not co-incidental. The reason why I got attracted to the story was that it was not limited to what happened in 1962. It’s a story from back then but it is so relevant today. Every issue that we are talking about in the film, which is not just about the war, are the ones we see today. I have dedicated this film to the families of the soldiers who fight another battle when their loved ones are off to fight.

 

 

 

Your next happens to be the web series about Azad Hind Fauj with Amazon. Have you embraced web being the future of entertainment?

It is the future. We tend to say that the’ web’ is not there but ultimately it is about content. It doesn’t make a difference. Our films are also being consumed by the web more. Let’s face it – through piracy unfortunately. The youth of today does not want appointment watching. If you see the west, they have changed the game. Hollywood now either makes a 2 million dollar film or a 200 million dollar film. The middle ground of drama story telling has completely shifted to the web platform between HBO, Amazon and Netflix and that is the future. I am basically a content creator as it doesn’t matter where you are watching it as 70% of my consumers are anyway on the web. I feel that the subject that I have of Azad Hind Fauj is better told as a mini series than a film. It is truly an international story and through Amazon it is going to release in 204 countries on day 1. There is a certain liberation of story telling as there is a certain Bollywood-ization you need to do in the story for our films. For the web-series, a Japanese character can speak in Japanese without figuring out how to make him talk in Hindi. Narcos is an American series but 80% of it is in Spanish. It became a runaway success from Japan and not from America six months after its release. I think I have a story appropriate for the platform and that is why I am doing it. Here, we keep feeling that web is between TV and films but honestly it is far bigger than films. My series is going to be bigger than two of my biggest films put together in terms of scale and budget and they don’t even need stars. That is the most refreshing thing about it.

Lastly, Tiger Zinda Hai– a sequel to your Ek Tha Tiger is in the making at the moment. Why didn’t you want to take the story forward?

I don’t do sequels and don’t react to them. Until I get excited about them, I won’t do it. I think all of the characters I created in my films, Tiger is probably the one character that should have a sequel. I am glad Ali (Abbas Zafar) is doing it. Whatever I am seeing from the film, is looking great.

This article was first published on Bollywood Film Fame Magazine. 

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Baywatch Review: Not The Dirty Little Secret You Expected

It would be a lie if I say that the minute I heard Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson and Zac Efron were to be in Baywatch, I wasn’t thrilled and extremely excited. And when you add our Priyanka Chopra in that eclectic mix, things were looking to be too damn fun. But now that I have watched it, I am just fine. The excitement has died down because the editor of the film, the chief of CBFC, Pahlaj Nihalani played the part so well that there’s nothing left in it.

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The film starts with the introduction of the lifeguards on the beaches of Emerald Bay where Dwayne is running in slow-mo and CJ is saving people’s life in slow mo. She looks absolutely perfect while doing so, and Dwayne, of course, being Dwayne looks slick. Honestly, what is infuriating is that the visual representation of body parts has been chopped off but the slow-mo shots of women running are served as leftovers. This half-baked chopped wonder makes you cringe your teeth because the jump cuts are A class.

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Containing my anger, while I focus on pretty people and a prettier beach, I was wondering to myself if half the scenes are also making sense. As it is the plot of the film is so convenient and then you go ahead and randomly remove the things that make it funny. Disgraceful! Isn’t it?

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Dwayne Johnson plays the part of Lieutenant Mitch Buchannon and Zac Efron as Matt Brody is a new recruit who has been hired to up the PR game of the beach. Mitch is an idealist and Matt is a realist. While Mitch wants to be a part of everything that happens on his beach- good or bad, Matt’s plan is only to jump in and out of water. Priyanka Chopra as Victoria Leeds comes in and makes life hell for the team of lifeguards on the beach. She owns a club on the beach and wants to turn it into something Mitch wouldn’t approve- drugs, slaying of rich businessmen and what not. She will do anything to get what she wants. She even makes a remark, ” I am not a Bond villain…. yet..” From the background, I am sure you know by now what the plot is going to be.

Woah! You’re absolutely right!

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I wanted to go in for the film to have some laughs after a long day but half of it is spoilt by the man with the scissors and the other half by director Seth Gordon who wanted to turn this into a crime caper. But the camaraderie between Zac and Dwayne is the one to look forward to as he refers to the pretty boy by boy band names. Dwayne looks at Zac and says, ” Where are you from? One Direction…” And that’s the only time everyone has a splitting laugh.

More or less, the film was supposed to be a light-hearted frisky one with a few dirty jokes but they spoilt it. So unfair!

This article was first published on Filtercopy

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A Death In The Gunj Review: It’s Captivating, Although Slightly Predictable

Everyone knows how wonderful Konkana Sen Sharma is when she’s on screen. So when she decided to helm a film, we all anticipated it to be the extraordinary. It somewhat is and not so much as well. A Death In The Gunj has been inspired from one of Sharma’s father’s stories. The characters have a questionable conscience and have a knack for mischief. Adulterous relationships, hurtful pranks are things they thrive on.

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The film is about a Christmas vacation Bonnie ( Tillotama Shome), Nandu ( Gulshan Devaiah) take with their daughter Tani ( Arya Sharma) with cousins and friends in Mc Cluskiegunj which happens to be their parent’s house. Shutu ( Vikrant Massey), Mimi ( Kalki Koechlin) and Vikram ( Ranvir Shorey) accompany them on the vacation and through their eyes we see a lot. Mimi is dissatisfied with many things and certainly, wants a lot more. But her character is not sketched very well. She is the cliche Anglo-Indian you must have heard your grandparents talk about. She is every man’s fantasy and that is why sometimes she is not looked at respectfully. Mrs. Batra essayed by Tanuja also makes a remark about how frivolous she is and hence not marriageable.

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Shuttu essayed by Vikrant Massey is one character that has been drawn and performed brilliantly. Shuttu is a recluse and endures silently. Despair seems to be his best friend. In the scene when he is seen wearing his dead father’s sweater is beautifully crafted. Massey underplays Shuttu effortlessly. There are times when you expect him to blast with fury but he doesn’t and you’re captivated. He takes the cake.

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While Shuttu is the one who broods silently, Ranvir Shorey’s portrayal of Vikram is the anti-thesis of Shuttu. He is loud, obnoxious and is bursting with male ego and testosterone. You might hate him in the film. Vikram deserves to be hated throughout as he does not have one sensitive bone in his body. He is married and has always been physically drawn to Mimi. But then again- no regrets.

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The film is beautiful, it captivates you through and through but honestly, the payoff is predictable. If you know how narratives work, you’ll be able to crack whose death is Konkana talking about in the film. I like the film but it hasn’t stayed with me. I have not thought about it after I was done watching it. With the use of many metaphors, probably the name of the film is one too as once I leave the film, it dies. It doesn’t haunt me, it doesn’t relive. I wanted more but having said that, Konkana here’s a pat on your back for a job that someone needed to do.

This article was first published on Filtercopy.

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You Need To Watch Hindi Medium NOW!

Cast: Irrfan Khan,  Saba Qamar, Deepak Dobriyal, Swati Das, Tillotama Shome, Amrita Singh

Directed by:  Saket Chaudhary

 

When your full-time job is to watch films, there comes a time when you are frustrated with everything that sees the light of a release. Amidst everything below average that I have watched this year, Hindi Medium is something that I was not expecting to stumble upon so soon in the year, as I had lost all hope. Thank you, Saket Chaudhary, for waking me up from my self-induced coma.

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Hindi Medium is glazed with honey and mocks the education system we all live in but at the end of the day, we all want to graduate from affluent schools with a pin of legacy on our collar. The film is a story of Mita and Raj Batra who hail from Chandni Chowk and earn more than enough to afford everything that they want. They have everything on their plate except a good school for their daughter so she can grow up to be a posh woman of substance and can stay far away from drugs in her mother’s words. They are grappling to get their daughter, Pia admitted in Delhi Grammer School which is the oldest school in Delhi so she learns everything about history, heritage, and the likes.

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Coincidentally, I have a soft spot for the film as Delhi Grammer School shown in the film is Modern School, Barakhamba Road where I studied for 13 years of my life. Watching my school in every frame of the film got so many memories back that I couldn’t stop smiling for once. The Batra’s want their daughter to be in the school at any cost and the truth is that I have seen parents do anything to put their kids through Modern School which somehow warmed my heart all the more. Sigh! Those were the days!

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Leaving my nostalgia aside and coming back to the film, one thing that is worth mentioning is that the makers have done a brilliant job with the writing and the comic timing. It is so beautifully crafted that you feel each and every emotion every character is going through. The length of the role doesn’t matter here, what matters is how much heart all of them have put to stand out and trust me- each one shines.

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The Batra’s leave their ancestral home in Chandni Chowk to fit in the posh lifestyle Delhi Grammer School demands. But you can take a man out of Chandi Chowk but cannot take Chandni Chowk out of a man. Batra has all the money in the world but is upset over not being able to play Jatayu in the annual Ram-Leela and jumps around with his daughter on Ishq Tera Tadpave. Does this have a place where talking in Hindi is frowned upon? Didn’t think so!

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Amitosh Nagpal has penned the dialogues in the films beautifully and Irrfan Khan’s great timing is a that topping on the cake, where you just sit down and indulge… piece by piece. Saba Qamar as Mita…then Mithu and eventually the high society ‘honey’ is very well crafted as well. She is spot on and is a treat to watch. The one person that just lifts up the mood of the film is Deepak Dobriyal as Shyam Prakash. No one has ever lit up the screen by holding two buckets of water in a basti other than him. Only he knows how to do that.

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Like all good things come to an end, this one too has a stretchy predictable climax. But probably that’s the only way one could have ended the film with. The second half of the film could have been a little better as the first half was flawless and I wanted more.

Overall Hindi Medium is where all of you should register with this week and mind you, this class is open to all.

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Half Girlfriend Review: Your Survival Could Be In Jeopardy

I have never had the guts to read Half Girlfriend. It’s not that I have joined the Bhagat hating bandwagon. It’s just that a book with that name offends my sensibilities. Clearly, Mohit Suri decided he could make sense of the term and the material. But what he has audaciously dared to do is cringe-worthy. The film is one recent times’ most irrelevant work. It’s deplorable that barely weeks after an Indian film has grabbed eyeballs in the international circuit (Bahubali 2) for captivating hearts across, Suri comes up with a movie that neither has its heart in the right place nor has used any grey matter in creating something barely watchable.

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It’s a story of two people who go from strangers to buddies in barely a scene, moving to lovers in the next. But mind you, they are just semi-lovers. They kiss but nothing more. And thus, when Riya asks him to take it slow, the chauvinist inside Madhav goes back to questioning the half measures of their relationship. How much is allowed and how much is alright? Before Madhav could find that out, his testosterone gets the better of him. He forces himself on her, she leaves for good – married to a childhood hottie.

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You have the luxury of groaning through the story which goes from Delhi to Patna and eventually New York. The theme obviously doesn’t change – how Hindi as a language is the benchmark of status in society. Harebrained to say the least, the plot twists are silly. Riya is made to look like a tease evidently because of severe daddy issues. Every time her love story with Madhav gets somewhere, she takes off to a new land. Our hero will obviously not take no for answer. The pattern continues for what feels like eternity. At one point, someone in the audience got up and said ‘Bhai ab bas bhi karo’. Exact emotions, bruh!

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Which brings us to the prime problem with the film. What is half girlfriend? It’s probably a sheepish and purist way of describing being friend zoned. Arjun plays his character well with right dose of puppy dog eyes but it’s time he asks his ‘Bihari’ tutor for a refund. You’ll abhor his diction almost as much as you’ll hate looking at Shraddha who grunts more than needed, speaks English just because it’s cool and does very little besides looking pretty. They have zilch chemistry and that doesn’t help in making the film any less of a dud than it already is.

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In case you want to catch it, remember your survival could be in jeopardy. Tread at your own risk.

This article was first published on Filtercopy

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The Hindi Film Mom Has Been A Work In Progress, But She’s Finally Arrived

Time and again, we have trivialised Hindi film mothers to be dramatic and not realistic.

From the era that gave us dialogues like ‘Mere paas ma hai…‘ to the times when mom became a friend, the concept of motherhood as depicted in our films, has changed.

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Farida Jalal (Lajjo) in Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge was a hybrid of modern ways and traditional values. She always wanted her daughter to be happy and not compromise on what she wanted. In the film, the daughters may be petrified of their stern father (Amrish Puri) but the minute Raj (Shah Rukh Khan) asks Simran (Kajol) about her friends, she tells him that she never needed one, as her mother is the best friend she has got.

The modern Indian woman has evolved and so have our films. Even today, our screen mothers are ready to kill for their children but the ways in which they express their love, have changed. She can protect her child in any situation.

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When I saw Paa, which was a father-son story, I was awestruck by Auro’s mother, Dr Vidya (essayed by Vidya Balan). She is strong, funny and self-sufficient, never giving up on her child. She made everything around Auro so normal that nothing would hurt him even for a second — even the absence of his father. She clearly mentions that just by lending sperm, no one becomes a father. She is ready to give her child the world on a platter.

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I love this change that we see in Hindi cinema today. No one drops a ‘thali’ and screams ‘nahinnnn’ for anything anymore! Rather, we sit down to have conversations and confront everything head-on, even molestation.

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Vidya Balan does wonders when she plays the mother. In Kahaani 2, Durga Rani Singh adopts motherhood by saving a student from her ghastly family members. She is ready to face the volatile consequences that rise. The essence of the mother is the same, but today we don’t see her being submissive or regressive. She has flaws, she is vulnerable as she is made of flesh and blood after all. She has her voice, a multi-faceted personality and a heart that beats for her child unconditionally.

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The Hindi film mother has been a work in progress for a very long time. Today, she even shows a side of hers which probably, some years ago, she would not have. Ratna Pathak Shah (Sunita) in Kapoor & Sons is so endearing but she does not love both her sons equally. While one is her perfect kid, the other is not so much. She wants her perfect kid to be so perfect that she even goes and steals a novel from her other child. She might be blinded by love, but that does not make her a bad mother. She is trying to fix something while she can, as her husband’s adultery is something she can’t.

Ratna Pathak Shah has essayed all the mothers’ roles she’s portrayed on screen, so well. Be it in Khoobsurat as Maharani Nirmala Devi Rathore, a strict royal matriarch, or in Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na as Savitri Rathore, or even in Sarabhai vs Sarabhai where she takes being protective to another level, as Maya Sarabhai — Pathak Shah is excellent in all these parts.

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Not all mothers have it easy, of course. Shabana Azmi (Rama) in Neerja is the sweetest mother you’ll ever come across. If Neerja’s fate was to be a hero, then that’s what she learnt from her mother all along — to light up someone else’s world if given a chance. That’s also what Swara Bhaskar’s life goal is, in Nil Battey Sannata as Chanda. All she wants is for her daughter to break out of the life they are living by studying hard and making something of herself. Honestly, this is the sweetest film I have seen which depicts the mother-daughter relationship beautifully. Yes, she does more than what is in her power for you but there are days when you just don’t get it. You simply don’t want the pressure…

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It is so refreshing to see mothers be so many things on screen. In Ki And Ka, Swaroop Sampat has raised an independent daughter (Kareena Kapoor) and does not object to her decisions and the way she wants to lead her life. But that does not mean that she doesn’t have a life of her own. She does whatever makes her happy and in the process, she makes you happy too.

After all, as the saying goes: in order to love someone else, you need to love yourself first. And it seems like movie moms finally got the memo.

Happy Mother’s Day!

This article was first published on Firstpost

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Sarkar 3: A Lost Cause

The minute one thinks of Ram Gopal Varma’s Sarkar, the Govinda chant begins to haunt you. The way Amitabh Bachchan takes charge as Sarkar is petrifying and inspiring at the same time. Sarkar 3 could have been the bulls eye, RGV has been looking for but it slipped once again. The bigger problem is how can you let a narrative slip when you have brilliant actors working for you? Puzzled, aren’t you? So was I.

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You walk in the theater and you start to feel eery the minute you see the tone of the film which has been retained. The palette of the film is still brooding and will give you the chills. When we talk about Amitabh Bachchan, we know they don’t make actors like him anymore. Subhash Nagre still does what he feels is right and doesn’t really give a damn about others in the bargain. Bachchan is compelling as Sarkar- the patriarch of the most powerful political family in Maharashtra. Having lost two sons, he has mellowed down but the clout still remains. It is immense!

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The trailer of the third installment promised Sarkar to be angrier than ever, so I naturally assumed that the film would be three times furious at least. But it’s nothing like that. It feels like an old wine in a new bottle as whatever had to be exploited from the story of Nagre family has been done. At this point, no one matches the wavelength of Bachchan to be able to give him a neck to neck competition. Not even the ones he is at war with. We know the outcome and that’s not thrilling at all.

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Amit Sadh joins the family as Cheeku aka Shivaji Nagre- Sarkar’s grandson. His relationship with his grandfather is quite twisted. His love and hate for the man is in equal parts which could have created magic for this evil narrative but then could’ve would’ve should’ve… why are we crying here. Jackie Shroff as a Dubai based businessman and Manoj Bajpayee as a rebel do not want Sarkar to be the utmost power but the impact of these characters was lost in the middle. While Jackie Shroff is busy disliking ‘girls with a heart’, Bajpayee, the most powerful actor we have is also wasted and has to take a back seat. Ronit Roy tries very hard to fit the bill but the problem lies in the writing so none of the characters are able to make Sarkar 3 what it should have been.

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More than anything Sarkar 3 is a lost cause as I wonder if we even needed this unnecessary carryover.

This article was first published on Filtercopy

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