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Upset over ‘ban’ in Uttarakhand: ‘Kedarnath’ director Abhishek Kapoor

New film “Kedarnath”, Abhishek is riding high again. He speaks to Subhash K Jha about the ban in Uttarakhand and the film being accused of promoting “Love-Jihad”

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Kedarnath

Mumbai, Dec 10 : Kedarnath director Abhishek Kapoor is no stranger to ups and down in his career. If “Kai Po Che” and “Rock On” established him as a director of substance, “Fitoor” brought him down with a thud. But now with his new film “Kedarnath”, Abhishek is riding high again. He speaks to Subhash K Jha about the ban in Uttarakhand and the film being accused of promoting “Love-Jihad”:

Q. What do you have to say about Kedarnath being banned in Uttarakhand?

A. It is very upsetting. How can they do this? When the government has cleared it, the whole country is watching it, how can they stop my film? Uttarakhand is an integral part of the country. What happens to my freedom of expression?

Q. Just days before the release of your film, someone filed a PIL against it. Should there be more stringent laws against nuisance litigation?

A. More than more laws, the ones that exist should be enforced more effectively. I am very happy with the laws of the country. And I am most willing to work within the parameters of the law. But those parameters should be made workable.

Q. Is there a sense of satisfaction at the end making Kedarnath?

A. Oh absolutely, because I had nothing more to give to this film. I completely believed in it and I gave all of myself to the film. The feeling of satisfaction after you are consumed by a truthful creative process is almost like a pilgrimage in itself. I feel cleansed after making Kedarnath.

Q. What do you have to say about those who accuse the film of promoting Love-Jihad, whatever that means?

A. What can I say about assumptions that were based on a 2-minute trailer? People are reacting out of their own insecurities. Dangerous assumptions such as these are made when certain sensitive ideologies are played around with or have been violated before. People who make assumptions without seeing the film must be stopped. The censor board has cleared our film with just two cuts. Isn’t the CBFC (Central Board of Film Certification) the final authority on the content in cinema that goes into the public domain?

Q. Would you say the sensitivity about inter-religious relationships is misguided?

A. I would say we need to take a more mature view of the matter. Kedarnath is a clean honest attempt to look at the devastation that the people there in Uttarkhand suffered after the 2013 floods. They are yet to recover from the shock. My film is small gesture of healing for a people who lost everything and still had the resilience to bounce back. So many lives and families were destroyed. As a responsible filmmaker, I wouldn’t dream of making an exploitative film about their misery.

Q. How did the idea of doing Kedarnath come to you?

A. After making Fitoor, I was wondering what to make next. I began travelling to explore ideas. When I went to Vaishno Devi, I became familiar with the world of “pithoos” — these young men who carried pilgrims on their backs to the top of the mountain.

Q. You are being condemned for showing a Muslim pithoo?

A. But that is very much the reality. They are at Vaishno Devi, Amarnath, Kedarnath… They do their job with utmost sincerity. And what could be more gratifying for a pilgrim than to be taken to the purest place by a Muslim. That’s how we are as Hindus. We have an all-encompassing cultural tradition. Our ideology is such that it assimilates all. If you are a Shiv Bhakt you would know how He swallowed poison to save the world. “Har Har mahadev” means there is God in all of us. Why can’t we accept the sheer acceptability and inclusiveness of our religion? This who we are. When I spoke to Salim Saab (writer Salim Khan), he observed that 40 years ago there was no Hindu-Muslim issue. It is the politics of the nation that has brought this divide into our culture.

Q. But surely when you have a Muslim man and Hindu girl falling in love at a Hindu pilgrimage spot, you know some elements will be provoked.

A. I have full faith in the system. For all its faults, the Indian system of governance works for us, and I have full respect for it. Even the censor board…I may disagree with censorship being implemented on works of art. But then India is a country with several contrasting sensitivities. These have to be dealt with in a special way. We have to trust the censor board.

Q. The 2013 deluge in Uttarakhand is woven organically into the plot?

A. This is how it must have happened in the real life. Everyone has issues, personal political cultural and communal. And then something like this (the deluge) happens and all the issues come down to zero. Mankind becomes one.

Q. Sara Ali Khan has made a big splash in the film?

A. Kedarnath has a very strong part for the female protagonist. And then Sara is fresh. And she has so much to give to the camera. She needed a certain guidance and Sushant helped her a lot with her performance. People like her, they like the film. Whatever has gone into the film has gone with much thought. We’ve gone through a long struggle to ensure the film reaches the theatre, come what may.

Q. How difficult it was to recreate the 2013 deluge of Uttarakhand?

A. We planned every shot in detail. There are so many people in our team and they all worked so hard to make the film look authentic. As far as the recreation of the floods goes, we didn’t have the budget of a Hollywood film. We can’t. Though the special effects in the floods sequence are essential, they do not anchor the film. We made Kedarnath to tell a story, not to use the floods as technical gimmick. I feel there is an old-school feeling to the film. It’s a theme never done before. But the people and culture it addresses haven’t changed over generations. Cinema has to mirror society. I don’t make films to take them only to international film festivals. I make them so they can connect with the people whom they portray.

Q. The deluge in the climax reminded me of Raj Kapoor’s Satyam Shivam Sunderam

A. Ever since my film came out, a lot of people have been finding this similarity. I saw Satyam Shivam Sunderam long ago. I have no idea if I was influenced by it.

Q. You won me over with that amazing reference to “Lag ja gale se…”

A. That is Lata Mangeshkar. Even an opportunity to pay her a tribute is very big thing for me.

IANS

Entertainment

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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Rihanna sues her father

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Rihanna

Los Angeles, Jan 16: Singer Rihanna has sued her own father Ronald Fenty for using her brand name Fenty to launch a business for himself.

In a new lawsuit obtained by tmz.com, Rihanna claims her father Ronald started a talent development company in 2017 called Fenty Entertainment.

The “S&M” hitmaker has already trademarked “Fenty” to use in a number of business ventures, including her well-known Fenty Beauty line. She claims he is profiting off the reputation she has created with the brand.

In the documents, the 30-year-old singer says her father and a business partner falsely advertised themselves as her reps to solicit millions of dollars, including trying to book her for 15 shows in Latin America in December 2017 for $15 million — all without her authorization.

Rihanna claims later her dad even unsuccessfully tried to file a trademark for “Fenty” to use with resort boutique hotels.

She says she has sent multiple cease and desist letters to her father, ordering him to stop capitalising off her Fenty trademarks, but says he has ignored them and continued to make money off Fenty Entertainment.

She is asking a judge to place an injunction on her dad using the name Fenty and for damages.

IANS

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Never seen one wrong thing about Rajkumar Hirani: Arshad Warsi

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Rajkumar Hirani Arshad Warsi

New Delhi, Jan 15: Actor Arshad Warsi, one half of the indomitable Munna-Circuit duo of Rajkumar Hirani’s “Munna Bhai M.B.B.S”, says it is wrong to jump to conclusions about the filmmaker as a #MeToo story has emerged against him.

Arshad, who played Circuit in Hirani’s “Munna Bhai” series, says he has never seen even one thing wrong with the filmmaker.

Asked about a woman’s allegation that Hirani sexually assaulted her during the shoot of “Sanju”, Arshad told IANS here: “For me, to pass any sort of judgement or come to a conclusion is absolutely wrong because I don’t know exactly about the case. I don’t know how much truth is there or how credible this accusation is. Has the proper investigation been done? I don’t know about all that.

“I personally don’t like to jump to conclusions and pass my judgement and suddenly start looking at a person differently. I cannot do that, it’s not right to do that. What I feel about Raju? I think he is a fabulous gentleman. He is a lovely guy. My association with him is so long, and I have never seen one wrong thing about him.”

Arshad, who has worked with the director in films like “Lage Raho Munna Bhai”, said he has never seen Hirani behave inappropriately.

“I have never seen him behaving badly or doing anything incorrect. So, suddenly hearing this, you think, ‘How is this possible?’. I cannot say anything till it is all 100 per cent there… One cannot jump to a conclusion. It is not fair,” added the actor, who was here to promote his forthcoming release “Fraud Saiyyan”.

According to a HuffPost India article on Sunday, the woman claimed that Hirani sexually abused her on more than one occasion over a six-month period between March and September 2018. The 56-year-old filmmaker has denied the allegation.

IANS

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