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Everyone said it’s too risky: ‘PM Narendra Modi’ producer

The film “PM Narendra Modi” will be directed by Omung Kumar, who earlier collaborated with Ssingh for biopics like “Mary Kom” and “Sarbjit”.

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PM Narendra Modi film

Mumbai, Jan 16 : Whether it is the National Award-winning biopic “Mary Kom”, a film like “Sarbjit” or the upcoming biopic “PM Narendra Modi”, producer Sandip Singh has always shown interest in stories of an individual’s journey. He says he was told it was a risk to do a film on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, but he was convinced it would motivate people to “dream big”.

Expressing his passion towards biopics, Ssingh told IANS here: “Whether it is the story of Mary Kom, Sarbjit or our current prime minister, their stories touch my heart. As a creative mind, we have to understand that the business of films has changed, where the box office collection depends on the story and not the star.

“The last year is proof of that. So, I want to be a part of stories that create an impact on our mind. An individual’s story always inspires me.”

Why did he choose to make a biopic on Modi?

“I wanted to make a film on him because his life journey is really inspirational, but from the time I started pitching the idea to people, everyone said it is too risky to do it because he is a sitting prime minister and people have an opinion on him. For the last four years, I looked for support from the industry and finally, people are on board… I did not give up,” said the young producer.

Bollywood actor Vivek Oberoi will play Modi on the big screen.

Initially, there was talk about Paresh Rawal playing Modi on-screen, Ssingh told IANS: “I have heard since 2014 that Paresh Rawal will be playing Narendra Modi’s character in a film based on the PM’s life journey. But we have never approached or met Pareshji regarding that. Having said that, I wish him all the best on his film.”

“There were several reasons why we have chosen Vivek for the title role. Firstly, we wanted to cast an experienced actor and a great performer. Vivek has been working in the entertainment industry for the last 18 years. He is one of those versatile actors who has made his mark in different genres films like ‘Company’ and ‘Saathiya’ with equal ease.”

If experience and acting skills were the requirement, Paresh is undoubtedly a more celebrated actor who has delivered impactful performances in films like “Sanju” and “Uri: The Surgical Strike”.

Ssingh, who has earlier closely worked with Sanjay Leela Bhansali, said: “I wanted an actor who can dedicate a huge time even before the film start shooting. Since the story is capturing the journey of Modiji from the beginning of his life, I was looking for an actor who can play his part from the 20s and 60s with a certain flexibility. That way, Vivek is in the right age, who can play the younger and older parts.”

The film “PM Narendra Modi” will be directed by Omung Kumar, who earlier collaborated with Ssingh for biopics like “Mary Kom” and “Sarbjit”.

As most of the biopics tend to show the central character in a positive light rather than showcasing the criticised side of the personality, will he maintain the level of honesty in the film as a producer?

“Why should I hide any downside of his journey? Ups and downs are a part of our life. We are making the film with integrity and the idea of making it is to open up to people with a story that inspires many people from a humble background to dream big. We will try to tell the story with our heart in the right place.”

Did he discuss it with the PM before announcing the project?

“No, I did not talk to him regarding this… I have spoken to my inner conscious,” Ssingh said.

(Arundhuti Banerjee can be contacted at [email protected])

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Rekha Bhardwaj, Harshdeep Kaur pull out of event in Lahore

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New Delhi, Feb 18 (IANS) Singers Rekha Bhardwaj and Harshdeep Kaur have withdrawn their names from Shaan-e-Pakistan 2019 gala in Lahore next month in the wake of the Pulwama suicide bombing that killed 49 troopers.

Rekha, well known for her versatile tracks like “Genda phool”, “Kabira” and “Ghagra”, was a star attraction at the gala, where Indian and Pakistani talent would have shared the stage for a musical summit and awards night on March 21 and March 22.

“I cancelled our show to Pakistan immediately after the Pulwama attack,” Rekha, who was due to travel with her team, told IANS.

Harshdeep, who has sung melodious numbers like “Heer” and “Dilbaro”, confirmed to IANS that she will also not be a part of the event in Lahore.

Nevertheless, the show, where Pakistan’s Javed Bashir will be producer and director of music, will go on.

“We have no news on Rekhaji and Harshdeep Kaur,” Rehan Babar of Aden Rehan PR and Management Soultions, official PR Partners of the event, told IANS from Lahore when asked if they will be going ahead with the event.

“‘Shaan-e-Pakistan’ is about promoting fashion, music, art and culture and bringing Pakistan and India together on these platforms. It has nothing to do with politics and everything to do with promoting peace and love through art and culture. Regardless of the current political tensions, Shaan-e-Pakistan is still very much going ahead and on course to take place in March 21 and 22,” Babar added.

The February 14 terror attack has had a direct impact on cultural ties between India and Pakistan.

While the Federation of Western India Cine Employees (FWICE) has announced a diktat saying Indian filmmakers must not release their films in Pakistan and that no collaboration with Pakistani talent must be pursued, veteran actress Shabana Azmi and her lyricist-writer husband Javed Akhtar axed their visit to Karachi to take part in centenary celebrations of Shabana’s poet-father Kaifi Azmi.

Bollywood film “Total Dhamaal” will also not release in Pakistan.

In fact, Rekha’s multi-faceted husband and filmmaker Vishal Bhardwaj was also planning travel to Pakistan for research on the Netflix series “Midnight’s Children”, based on Salman Rushdie’s novel. However, as of now the plan of the web series’ showrunner stands cancelled, said a source in the know.

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All India Cine Workers Association ban Pakistani actors, artistes

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CINE

Mumbai, Feb 18: In the aftermath of the Pulwama attack, All India Cine Workers Association on Monday decided to impose a total ban on Pakistani actors and artists working in the film industry.

“All Indian Cine Workers Association strongly condemns brutal terrorist attack on our soldiers at Pulwama district in Jammu and Kashmir. Our heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims. AICWA stands with nation in confronting such terror and inhumanity”, the film association said in a letter.

The notification made it clear that despite the official ban if any organisation insists on working with Pakistani artistes, the AICWA will ban them and strict action will be taken against them.

“We’re officially announcing a total ban on Pakistani Actors and Artists working in Film Industry. Nation comes first, we stand with our nation”, it added.

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Emphasis on opening weekend biz damaging art of cinema: Swara Bhasker

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Swara Bhaskar

Mumbai, Feb 16 (IANS) Actress Swara Bhasker says the constant emphasis on a films box office collection is damaging the art of cinema.

“The whole system of emphasising the opening weekend business of a film is damaging the art of cinema. I believe there is no connection between the box office collection and the value of a film or to the artistic part of it,” Swara said during a session at ActFest here on Saturday.

“I understand that cinema is an art that involves a huge amount of finance and it demands a steady economy… But the business part of a film should not overpower the core of a cinema — storytelling,” the actress said.

The “Veere Di Wedding” star continued: “Some of the cult films were flops at the box office when they were released. Now, when we revisit those films, we call them classics. I think this system needs to be changed.”

Swara expressed her views during a session with filmmaker Raj Kumar Gupta along with film critics like Rajeev Masand.

ActFest is being organised by the CINTAA (Cine and TV Artistes’ Association). The two-day festival features popular artists participating in discussions, conducting workshops or giving lectures on various aspects of the art. The event, which started on Friday, is conceived and designed by The 48 Hour Film Project, India.

Talking about how film critics’ opinions played a part in her journey, Swara said: “I am grateful to critics because I started my career with small independent films. And when I played some of the pivotal roles like the one in ‘Tanu Weds Manu’ even though that wasn’t a lead role, critics repeatedly mentioned my performance and according to them I was good.”

The actress feels “somewhere positive reviews helped me to gain visibility”.

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