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2017 In Retrospect : Medium no bar; When Bollywood got bitten by the web bug



Bose Dead Alive Rajkummar Rao
Rajkummar Rao as Subhash Chandra Bose in Bose Dead or Alive.

New Delhi, Dec 19: Bollywood actors and producers got caught in the ‘web’ amidst the proliferation of digital platforms, the number of producers hopping on to the web-series bandwagon and the variety and quality of stories capable of being told sans censorship.

“For us, as actors, it’s about the story and the character, not so much about the medium,” said Rajkummar Rao of his web-series debut with “Bose: Dead/Alive”.

Like him, a string of actors and filmmakers who chose to give the medium a try — not just to tap into the youth audience, but also to give creativity a boost.

IANS takes a look at those who gave a shot to web-series in 2017:

* “Bose: Dead/Alive”: If he lost weight for a film like “Trapped”, Rajkummar Rao made no bones about gaining an extra 10 kg and going half bald for his role as Indian nationalist Subhas Chandra Bose. The ALTBalaji series is based around the mystery of his death, and has been lauded for its production value.

* “Inside Edge”: The first Indian original series for Amazon Prime Video — one of the OTT majors — the curiosity level for “Inside Edge” was palpable from its cast, which includes names like Vivek Oberoi, Richa Chadha, Angad Bedi, Tanuj Virwani, Sayani Gupta, Sanjay Suri and Sarah-Jane Dias. Created by Karan Anshuman, it is a gripping story about corruption in the cricket world.

Richa had said what drew her to it was that “digital is going to be the future and the platform is growing stronger”.

* “Social”: “Baahubali” star Rana Dagubatti chose to explore the digital platform with “Social”, a Hindi-Telugu bilingual series launched by Viu. With Rana playing a busines tycoon, it revolves around a missing girl and the four people who set out to solve the mystery.

* “The Test Case”: Directed by the acclaimed filmmaker Nagesh Kukunoor, this ALTBalaji series brought Nimrat Kaur, Juhi Chawla, Chandrachoor Rai, Rahul Dev and Atul Kulkarni to the digital series world. The limited series is based on a woman who is preparing to be the Indian Army’s first female test case in a combat role.

On foraying into a web-series, Nimrat had said: “I think the advantage of being a part of a web-series is that you don’t have the restrictions one would normally have of not being able to depict a certain part of a woman’s life or of an individual’s life. You don’t have to worry about the censorship and you can literally depict life as it is.”

* “Dev DD”: Featuring Sanjay Suri, Rashmi Agdekar and Asheema Vardaan, the ALTBalaji Original has been written and directed by Ken Ghosh. It is a retelling of Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay’s novel “Devdas”. The series is about a modern young woman trying her best to break stereotypes about how an Indian woman is supposed to be.

Drawing a comparison with the small screen and the pros of the platform, Ekta said: “there are these various stories you can’t do on TV because they don’t have the stretchability factor in them. Besides, the attention span of the audience has gone shorter, and maybe not everyone is buying into the experience of coming in every day to see characters for a long time”.

* “Romil and Jugal”: The series explores homosexuality, and touches the controversial waters of showing a gay relationship. It features talent like Mandira Bedi and Suchitra Pillai.

* “Yo Ke Hua Bro”: Shamita Shetty, who was on a sabbatical from the film world to pursue a course in interior designing in London after 2008 with Tamil film “Naan Aval Adhu”, made a comeback with the comedy, thriller and drama set around Haryana.

With no plans to explore the platform initially, Shamita believes “It is something that is easily accessible and everyone has the internet which you can access on a lot of other mediums even when travelling”.

Available on Voot, the series also features Aparshakti Khurana, Gaurav Pandey, Sumeet Vyass and Ridhima Pandit.

* “Spotlight”, “Twisted” and “Maaya” : Filmmaker-producer Vikram Bhatt launched his own web series channel VB On The Web with the three shows releasing simultaneously.

While “Spotlight” revolves around an ambitious Bollywood star who yearns for true love, “Twisted” is a crime-suspense thriller.

Bhatt’s “Maaya” raised the bar by exploring the theme of BDSM — a variety of erotic practices or role playing involving bondage, discipline, dominance and submission. However, the show got a mixed response from the audience as it looked like a copy of the Hollwyood film “Fifty Shades of Grey”, to many.

Now Bhatt has announced his plans to launch a full-fledged app.



Zarina Wahab to play Modi’s mother in biopic



Zarina Wahab

Mumbai, Feb 16: Veteran actress Zarina Wahab will be seen playing the role of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s mother Heeraben Modi in the upcoming biopic “PM Narendra Modi”. She says it’s special.

“It’s an honour to play the role of the mother of Honourable Prime Minister Narendra Modi. This is going to be one of the most special roles I have ever played. I hope the audience like it,” Zarina said in a statement.

Television actress Barkha Bisht Sengupta will be playing Modi’s wife Jashodaben in the film. She had a great experience shooting for the film, Bisht said.

“I am grateful to Sandip Ssingh (producer) for giving me an opportunity to be a part of such an amazing film. I had a great experience working with him earlier in ‘Goliyon Ki Rasleela Ram-Leela’ and I know playing Jashodaben is going to be interesting too,” Barkha said.

The film also stars Manoj Joshi (as BJP chief Amit Shah), Prashant Narayanan, Boman Irani, Darshan Kumar, Akshat R. Saluja, Anjan Shrivastav, Rajendra Gupta and Yatin Karyekar. Actor Vivek Anand Oberoi will be playing the title role of Modi.

“These two characters were one of the most crucial ones in the film. I am glad that Zarinaji agreed on doing it as no one other than her could have done a better job. Barkha is playing his wife and she is doing a great job,” Producer Sandip Ssingh said.

“PM Narendra Modi”, the biopic will discover the journey of Narendra Damodardas Modi from his humble beginning to his years as Gujarat Chief Minister onto his landmark win at the 2014 general election, finally becoming the 14th Prime Minister of India.

It is being directed by National Award-winner Omung Kumar. The biopic will be shot extensively in Gujarat and across locations within the country.


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How come Jhansi Ki Rani can dance but not Rani Padmavati?



Manikarnika Padmaavat

New Delhi, Feb 16: Director Krish Jagarlamudi is done with the bickering with Kangana Ranaut.

“I’ve had my say. No more. If she wants to believe she directed all of ‘Manikarnika’, so be it. Everyone knows the truth,” asserts Krish and vows to not get into any more war of words with the film’s aggressive leading lady and co-director.

However, one major issue that needs to be addressed is the singing and dancing that the Queen of Jhansi is seen indulging in with her subjects. In an elaborate song and dance sequence, Rani Laxmibai embarrasses the hell out of her husband, the King of Jhansi (played by Jisshu Sengupta) by dancing with the people of their state in a pregnant condition.

A source very close to the film says that the song and dance during times of raging battles was Kangana’s idea.

“Ek toh Rani, opoopar se garbhbati (firstly a queen and above it, pregnant). How can she be shown dancing in that unbecoming fashion? Krish was totally against the idea. The song-and-dance was added on by Kangana after Krish left,” the source says.

Significantly, when another Queen, Padmavati in an epic film in January 2018, Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s “Padmaavat”, got up from her throne to take to the dance floor with her ladies-in-waiting, all hell had broken loose.

Deepika’s Rani Padmaavati was shown dancing to the Ghoomar song in the most graceful and queenly manner in a closed environment with the women from her durbar.

Bhansali said: “We wanted the Ghoomar song and dance to retain its purity since this was being performed by Rani Padmavati. Every step and every move in the dance form celebrates the grace of royalty.

“This is our dance tribute to the brave Rajput women of Rajasthan. I heard how little children performing the Ghoomar dance at a school in India were stopped.

“I’d like to tell those disruptive elements that you can’t stop something as beautiful and innocent as this from reaching out to the hearts of people across the world.”

Bhansali’s heart swells with pride to see Ghoomar reaching into the hearts and feet of American kids.

Says the director: “What better illustration of Prime Minster Narendra Modiji’s Make In India policy? I feel our culture is so rich and varied. We’ve so much to give the West. Why not take our culture and art forms to the West rather than continuously borrow their lifestyle and culture?”

All hell had broken lose with fringe groups demanding that the song-and-dance be removed or else they would cut off Deepika’s nose.

Says a source very close to the “Padmaavat” team: “When we showed Deepika dancing in the Queen’s inner chambers, we had to digitally cover Deepika’s midriff before the censor board allowed the Ghoomar song.

“Now in ‘Manikarnika’, again about a Queen, Kangana’s Rani Laxmibai jumps off her seat and breaks into a street-side jig with the commoners. That was okay? What is good enough for Rani Laxmbai is not befitting for Rani Padmavati? Please figure out that one.”

When pressed for a response, Krish said: “I don’t know where the singing and dancing came from. It wasn’t there when I was directing ‘Manikarnika’.”

The question remains: Why was it not right for Rani Padmavati to dance when everyone seems okay with the Rani Of Jhansi shaking a leg, midriff forgotten?


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Michael Jackson cheated death on 9/11 attack



Michael Jackson 9/11 attack

London, Feb 15: Late pop legend Michael Jackson escaped death during the terrorist attack in the US in 2001.

Jackson could have been one of the victims of the 9/11 attack in which almost 3,000 people were killed when terrorists crashed planes into the Twin Towers. The singer overslept that day and missed his appointment which was scheduled to take place in the Towers, reports

“Thankfully, none of us had had a clue that Michael was due at a meeting that morning at the top of one of the Twin Towers,” the “Billie Jean” singer’s brother Jermaine Jackson wrote in his biography titled “You Are Not Alone: Michael: Through a Brother’s Eyes”.

It is also written in the biography that on the night of the attack, the King of Pop overslept after staying up late to talk to his mother Katherine.

“‘Mother, I’m okay, thanks to you,’ he told her. ‘You kept me up talking so late that I overslept and missed my appointment.'”

Despite surviving one of the world’s biggest terrorist attacks, Jackson died eight years later after suffering a cardiac arrest. He was 50.


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