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3 Important Post- 9/11 Films From Bollywood

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Subhash K Jha Looks Back At 3 Important  Post- 9/11 Films From  Bollywood

Post 9/11 Films- A  Wednesday:  Debutant director Neeraj Pandey turns the grim reality of terrorism into an engaging cat-and-mouse game played between a master blaster (Naseeruddin Shah) and a senior cop (Anupam Kher).Just the pleasure of watching Naseer and Anupam against the backdrop of a teeming bustling sinisterly jeopardized Mumbai city is ample reason to discard all our other misgivings about the sheer feasibility of the plot.Cleverly the narration manoeuvres all the physical action away from the two aging protagonists to a couple of hot-blooded young cops played effectively by Jimmy Shergill and Aamir Bashir, who hurl into camera range in a meteoric rush of adrenaline to remind us that the streets of Mumbai have always created a flutter in the clutter in our films. Just go back to every film from “Satya” to “Aamir” and see what we mean.

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Cinematographer Fuwad Khan captures the blood on the roads of Mumbai with a disaffected relish. A lot of the film has been shot in stylish top-shots where the terrorists and counter-terrorist manoeuvrings appear larger than life and yet miraculously shrunken in the cosmic scheme of things. Violence in this way is made both comic and cosmic.

Most of the film cracks the entertainment code through the ongoing dialogue between the cop and the master-blaster, quite in Clint Eastwood and John Malvokich in Wolfgang Petersen’s “In The Line Of Fire”, triggering off a thought-provoking chain of ideas on the common man and terrorism and how far the violence of extremism affects the self-worth of the middle class.

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The closing lap of the edge-of-the-seat is a clever plot-defining twist, perhaps too clever for its own good. For, what we get here is terrorism turned inside out, the anguish of extremism facing upside-down. It’s an interesting but unacceptable end game, more suited to Quentin Tarantino when all the while we were looking at Pandey’s film as belonging to Mahesh Bhatt’s genre of cinema.

By the time Naseer’s eruptive enthusiasm climaxes, the narration goes into the realm of the improbable, contriving to create an atmosphere of utter escapism in a film that you thought was stubbornly wedded to reality.But that’s where Pandey has been heading all along. His narrative hurtles towards a photo-finish where the newspaper headlines are swallowed up in a swamp of thriller-rituals that take the plot aback to create an aura of unstoppable suspense.

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Sanjoy Chowdhury’s background music over-punctuates every sequence. But then that’s precisely what this out-of-the-box terrorist-thriller was looking for.

The humour, when it strikes, is like the bomb blasts. Sudden and unexpected, though a little on the grimmer side.Veejay Gaurav Chopra as a shit-scared film star getting extortion calls is mousy enough to remind us that heroes don’t come out of the movies. But heroic movies surely do come along once in a while from the movie industry. “A Wednesday” is certainly one of them.

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Watch it to see how cleverly the director subverts the real-life headline-driven genre of cinema into a riveting race to the finish line.Most of all it’s the performances of the two principal actors that holds “A Wednesday” together. Moving away from his recent comic antics, Anupam delivers a controlled performance as a cop who has seen it all. He happily allows Naseer to take over many scenes giving his co-star some riveting reactive cues.Naseer is back in full form after a rather embarrassing gap of cameo-commitments. Naseer in his element is an experience that needs no definition. He plays the jaded but spirited bomb-planting anonymous caller with a wry blunt and edgy sardonicism creating for his character a space that pitches his angst in the wide open loosely defined crowds of desolation in Mumbai.

A Wednesday” is not quite the seamless little masterpiece on terrorism that you expected. It resorts to many wild swipes in the plot. Some characters like the dude-like computer hacker and the TV journalist, played by Deepal Shaw, give embarrassing single-note performance.

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Watch Naseer and Anupam to know how a one-to-one drama works when two actors provide a psychological and emotional equilibrium from the two ends of the moral spectrum.

9/11 Films- New York: It isn’t as if New York is the first remarkable film to synthesize terrorism and friendship. Mani Ratnam’s Dil Se comes to mind immediately where the enigma of the female terrorist played with supine splemdour by Manisha Koirala was often invested into scenes of disarming domesticity.New York goes a step further to explore the evolution of terrorism in the context of home-grown emotions such as friendship and betrayal. Director Kabir Khan, discards the exasperating documentary-like directness of his first feature film Kabul Express to transport us into a cinema that needles us into swirling sensations suggesting a close link between cinema and life. The resultant brew is gritty edgy and thought provoking.

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New York challenges the existent codes of cinematic conduct, and not by being fashionably unconventional. On the surface it is an old fashioned film about three students who grow up and grow wise through the politics of our times. Here, we must mention the camaraderie that Kabir creates among his trio of players. What’s it about able casting that lifts a film notches above its destined caliber? We can’t imagine New York being the crucial work that it is without any other players.John, Katrina and Neil exude the scent of bonhomie. It’s in their secret-society smiles more than the words. The characters speak the language of today without making a strained effort to sound cool. “I’ve just come,” Neil introduces himself to the American-Indian dude-dada on the NY campus after a hug. “With just one hug?” comes the campus hero’s cocky answer. Ha ha. There’s a casual and comforting feeling to the threesome’s bonding, almost like a maturer mellower less in-your-face version of the hips youngsters in Jaane Tu…Ya Jaane Na.

Sameer (John), Maya (Katrina) and Omar (Neil Nitin Mukesh) know life won’t be a campus filled with Christmasy delights for too long. Disaster strikes soon enough. The progression of campus euphoria to the the way the grim political reality of American post 9/11 hits our protagonists ,is achieved with a refreshing lack of fuss and flamboyance. Kabir Khan is a minimalist movie maker. The emotions that tie the three friends, or the way John, Katrina and their little son try to form a haven away from a world of strife stress and discrimination, shows the filmmaker’s fingers are on the pulse even as his characters’ hands move willy-nilly to the trigger.

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It would be easy to designate New York as a well-shot engaging drama on how global terrorism affects the lives of three NRIs in the US. The politics underlining the drama of Kabir Khan’s cinema is so powerfully and persuasively positioned, right down to the pacifist ending when the terrorist ka beta is the school champ in the Land Of Dreams, that you come away from New York feeling chastened by your habitual cynicism about cinema on terrorism and violence.

Here’s a film that cares about the prejudices that have taken over the world. When a small–part actor called Nawazuddin on a camera-within-camera tells Katrina Kaif about the humiliation, torture and indelible wounds that he suffered during detention for suspected terrorism, you are no longer watching a bright sassy film blending terrorism and entertainment. You are watching a slice of life. Make no mistake about that.

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My two favourite sequences in the film both feature the then-unknown Nawazuddin. Watch his face when the American cop frisks Katrina’s character. It’s a moment that defines cultural prejudices and discrimination.Katrina, indeed comes into her own as an actress of substance, giving her best shot to the last half-hour as a wife of a terrorist trying to keep her moral equilibrium in sync with her husband’s sinking values. From the carefree effervescent campus girl to the anguished wife, Katrina makes the journey look plausible all the way. Neil as the sophomore with stars and stripes in his eyes is fully convincing credible and supportive of the two central performances.

New York is a coming-of-age film for John Abraham. As Sam(eer) the Indian-American dude whose American Dream turns into a nightmare of terrorism and persecution, John creates an intriguing graph for his character. He performs the sequences of incarcerated torture with a naked intensity that rips open wounds that never healed. Whether he’s busy playing the campus rock-star or the guy fitting phone bombs into the FBI headquarters we don’t really know the angels and demons that occupy the Sam’s mind. John just flows with the character’s pain of karma with a performance that suggests seamless vigour rather than laboured angst.Irrfan Khan as the FBI agent who has a point to prove about the Islamic mind-space is wry snappy cynical. His character’s back-projected life suggests an Italian wife who insists on feeding him pastas.

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Stereotypical portrayals of the cultural diaspora are fortunately rare in this piece of contemporary art which has plenty of heart, a heart that never overflows in an embarrassing torrent of emotions. Indeed for better or worse, New York is Yashraj Films’ most international product to date. Aseem Mishra’s cinematography and Julius Packiam’s background score aid the narrative’s progression considerably, creating a powerhouse of picture-postcard images which secrete their terrifying subtext with a dormant fluency.The dialogues on terrorism and the isolation and persecution of the average Muslim after 9/11 are brought into play much later. In fact the word ‘Muslim’ is not mentioned until the second-half when Irrfan gets into the diatribe mode.

New York depicts the end of a dream, American or otherwise, in a language that conveys the sublimated reality of a dream lived in sleep. It’s a fascinating view of friendship, loyalty and politics done in shades that reject garishness and embrace a serene, supple but strong style of narration,New York is an important film. Not only for its political message. But also because it dares to treat basic emotions in a language that’s still largely alien to our cinema.

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9/11 Films-Kurbaan : With his directorial debut coming as it does with the erroneously filmy title of Kurbaan, Rensil d’Silva carries the spoken unspoken, visual and metaphorical language of mainstream cinema to an unvisited distant shore.Blending the thorny theme of the political-cultural identity of the Muslim community post 26/11 with the commercial identity of contemporary Hindi cinema is not an easy task. The film manages to be many notches superior to other national and international films on global terrorism, a theme that now threatens to turn into a full-blown commercial formula.

Kurbaan averts a catastrophic collision of ‘message’ and entertainment by preserving a virile and healthy contempt for the trite expressions of formulistic terrorism in films that use fundamentalism as a villainous formula. Here the characters are not representational of Islamic ideology. They function in the brilliantly-designed plot as people who subscribe to the view that the Muslim community across the world are persecuted, hounded victims of an American oil-politics that threatens to annihilate the Islamic world.

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This is a very thin ice for a debutant director to walk on. Rensil D’Silva’s film says, sometimes right out loud, that a sense of aggressive isolation grips the entire Muslim community. There are either those (like the chanters played by Om Puri, Kirron Kher and Saif Ali Khan) who think a direct action plan of retaliation and retribution is required to save Muslims from mass destruction. Or, more alarmingly, there are those like Vivek Oberoi and his father (Kulbhushan Kharbanda) who are tacitly in favour of violence against their community’s collective persecution.

Either way, Rensil’s film looks at the theme of Islamic terrorism with fearless and brutal honestly. There’s no attempt to dilute the damning exposition on the ghetto-styled fundamentalism of the Muslim community in the US.The narrative immediately and inextricably plunges Avantika (who becomes the audiences’ viewpoint in the tale of terrorism) into the vortex of a 26/11-styled conspiracy being hatched in her backyard on a deceptively quiet suburban street filled with Asian homes.

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If the closet terrorists in the narrative proves themselves master plotters, director Rensil D’Silva is no less. While the master-plotters in Kurbaan finally fail, Rensil walks past the finishing line with victorious strides. With cinematographer Hemant Chaturvedi (giving the narration a hue of heightened sinister ness) Rensil moves stealthily in and out of politically-challenged lives with the least amount of drama and ostentation.

The background score is kept at a bare minimum. The sense of heightened poignancy which is constantly created in celluloid dramas of the doomed is stubbornly averted. Kurbaan creates its drama from the characters’ misbegotten sense of identity. From that vantage point of disorientation the film dexterously moved into the agile mode of action-driven conflicts.

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From the pre-intermission point in the narration where Ehsaan and his accomplice are chased down by cops as they carry a dead Muslim wife’s body for burial Kurbaan is one relentlessly breathless treatise on ‘How To Create A Prolonged Climax In A Plot Without Losing The Theme’s Bearings.’The film has been shot as an extended crime thriller which penetrates deeper and deeper into the anatomy of a crime thriller until the core of the crisis is reached with painful bluntness. Miraculously the director avoids the shrill will right to the blood-spattered finale. There is room in the commodious narration for disgruntled characters from a multitude of Islamic countries huddled in the US to create retaliatory mayhem. But at the core there are just three characters, the terrorist, his pregnant and rebellious wife and the expose-driven journalist, played by Saif, Kareena and Vivek Oberoi.Oberoi, in spite of his now-on-now-off Yankee accent plays the conflicted progressive American Muslim with a resolute understanding of the underlying politics that plagues his character’s soul. But Saif Ali Khan is a disappointment. In a role that could have been a career-defining event the actor pitches a performance as a not-so-reluctant terrorist that simply swims on the surface. There’s no attempt by the actor to understand the workings of Ehsaan’s mind or to revisit Ehsaan’s roots. What we see is a confused rather than a politically and religiously conflicted soul tormented by an ideological crisis.

Where is the mean-spirited guy who exploited and cheated Urmila Matondkar in Ek Hasina Thi? Or the innerving enigma of the tortured terrorist that Manisha Koiralaplayed in Dil Se? Wake up and smell the Kafir, Saif!

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10 Unsung Performances By Amitabh Bachchan!

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Amitabh Bachchan

75 years is  a long time. Amitabh Bachchan has spent a good 40 of those 75 years giving performances to cherish .So consistently outstanding  is his output that we forget his earlier performances. Some of the work he did before Zanjeer and  overnight superstardom was absolutely stunning, but largely unrecognized. Here’s looking at the 10 performances that deserve  to be dug out of anonymity.

1.     Saat Hindustani(1969): In his very first film  AB  plyed Anwar, a  poet from Bihar who gets together with 6 other nationalists  to  liberate Goa from the Portuguese. The legendary intensity and the rugged rigour of emotions that won’t be polished or pushed aside, were evident in every frame where AB stood tall.K A Abbas who  directed AB  in this underrated film picked this actor to play one of the 7 protagonists because he  saw a certain fire in the Bachchan personality. Yeah yeah, we know.

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2.     Bandhe Haath(1973): a thief and a poet, Amitabh Bachchan   then struggling for footspace in the speeding train of stardom was remarkably signed up by the mighty O P Ralhan for a double  role. Mumtaz the top heroine of those days sportingly agreed to  co-star with this  “lanky brooding young man who spoke every line like poetry.” She had all the songs. He had all the intensity.

3.     Ek Nazar(1972): Again a poet!  This  is  the third preZanjeer film where AB plays a  poet who falls in love with the the tawaif played by Jaya Bhaduri. This is the second time that the two of them came together. Just before this film AB and JB were seen  together in the awful Bansi Birju.There  is a certain  fire burning between them  even at this early stage . Laxmikant Pyarelal’s immortal songs like Patta patta boota bottaPehle sat baar and Hum hi Karenkoi soorat went a  long way in igniting the AB-JB chemistry.

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4.     Raaste  Ka Pathar(1972):   Loosely adapted from Billy Wilder’s The Apartment ,this is an oddity of a  film. Uneven  yet striking for the tense chemistry between AB and Shatrughan Sinha. SS plays AB’s boss, a  married man  in an affair with hapless working girl (Neeta Khayani) whom AB secretly  loves. Later the same  story became Yes Boss.Small world.

5.     Pyar Ki Kahaani(1972): Directed by Ravikant Nagaich who made mostly espionage thrillers, this remake of  hit  Tamil film  was a resounding flop. But if we  go back to it we see how skillfully controlled AB was in playing the workingclass  hero who rescues a friend(Anil Dhawan) from suicide and falls in love with a woman with a dubious past. This is the only film where AB and  Tanuja came together as Man and Woman. They were quite a couple together.

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6.     Parwana(1972): Absolutely the best performance by AB from his preZanjeer days and still among his most unsung triumphs, AB plays  a desperately in-love man who would go to any lengths , even murder, to get  the girl he loves (Yogeeta Bali). But she  prefers Navin Nishchol. There is  no telling about tastes. Go back to this film to watch the sequences where AB plots the murder of  his love’s father Om Prakash. Chilling!

7.     Sanjog(1972):  It’s not easy playing weak characters with such conviction. In  this  early film AB starred as  an indecisive man who dumps his wife MalaSinha and remarried without telling the second wife(Aruna Irani) about the first. The  film has Mala Sinha  in the author-backed role. But AB is dazzling in  the scenes where he has to stand meekly  as a lowly clerk in an office run by his abandoned wife.Gender equation deliciously tilted away from the man.

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8.     Reshma Aur Shera(1969):  In a brief role as Sunil Dutt’s speech-impaired brother Chotu AB conveys so much of  the anguish about the bloody feud that governs  the lives of the two warring families who  form the central  core of the film.Solid presence even in  a semi-cameo, AB proved  it with this one.

9.     Gehri Chaal(1973):  Jeetendra  played the hero to Hema Malini in this  film while AB was cast as her  brother trying to protect the  family name  from a dark secret. This  film came  just before the release of  Zanjeer and there are clear indications that the Angry Young Man was about to emerge from the shadows .

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10.  Saudagar(1972):  Fearless and unfettered  by the demands of superstardom  AB  played a gur-seller who marries a widowed  gur-maker(Nutan) for monetary  benefits. The low moral values  of AB’s character did not diminish the impact of his towering performance. Though the focus was on the timeless Nutan AB  held his own with  a powerful performance that left us hungering for more.

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Rishi Kapoor’s Top 10 Films!

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Rishi Kapoor

Rishi Kapoor has given us loads of very enjoyable musical romances to watch in leisure for forever ,and a day.

Here’s looking at Rishi Kapoor’s 10 Best Films.

  1. Mera Naam Joker(1969)—This is where Rishi Kapoor’s astounding journey as a star-actor began. Playing an adolescent who has a serious crush on his school-teacher Simi Garewal Rishi, at 14, won his first National award. Looking at his performance , under father Raj Kapoor’s direction,even today you feel he got the confusions of sexual awakening  in his character dead right.
  2. Bobby(1973)—From here onwards Rishi’s struggle to make his presence felt in heroine-oriented film began.Whether it was Bobby orBarood , the directors focused on the heroine while Rishi made his presence felt as best as he could. While Dimple Kapdia played the author-backed role Rishi was amazing in his confidence level while portraying the rich introverted neglected child of irresponsible parents..
  3. Rafoo Chakkar(1975)—Delightful  in drag Rishi simply stole the show with Paintal playing his farcical foil. And yes, wife Neetu Singh was around too.Narendra Bedi directed this enjoyable desi version of Some Like It Hot. Amazingly decades later Paintal son Hiten Paintalplayed Rishi’s son Ranbir’s pal in Bachna Ae Haseenon.But the chemistry was not the same.
  4. Laila Majnu(1976)—One of Rishi’s greatest performances. As the legendary lover he absolutely lived the pain agony and suffering of the character in the sand dunes of Rajasthan . H S Rawail directed this film. Madan Mohan songs like Barbaad-e-mohabbat ki dua saath liyejaa were put across by Rishi with intense passion. Simply breathtaking.
  5. Amar Akbar Anthony(1977):  Playing Akbar in the film where Amitabh Bachchan’s Anthony clearly had an edge, Rishi’s Qawwallis Pardahai parda and Taiyyab ali pyar ka dushman stole the show. No matter how brief his role Rishi always has fun with it.
  6. Sargam(1979)—Armed with a dafli and oozing a rustic charm as a love-smitten villager who wants nothing but to see the object of his adoration(Jaya Prada) happy, Rishi  re-defined the do-gooder hero’s space in Hindi cinema by making the character believable and vulnerable. Another very accomplished performance.
  7. Karz (1980)—The ultimate rockstar act in the fulsome musical by Subhash Ghai…No one could take to the dancefloor the way RishiKapoor did.Not even his very talented son. In this film on  the theme of reincarnation Rishi took sweet revenge on his schoolteacher from Mera Naam Joker Simi Garewal .
  8. Prem Rog (1982)—Another heroine-centric film where director Raj Kapoor focused entirely on young widow Padmini Kohapure’s plight. And yet as her silent supporter and sympathizer Rishi excelled far beyond the script. Watch his expressions during the song Yeh pyarttha ya kuch aur ttha during Padmini’s marriage. You’d know why many consider Rishi the best actor of the Kapoor clan.
  9. Ek Chadar Maili Si (1986)—One of Rishi’s most underrated performances, here he was cast as Triloka a rustic Punjabi youngster forced to marry his Bhabhi Hema Malini who is 10 years his senior.Adapted from litterateur Rajinder Singh Bedi’s short story this bold film was memorable for giving Rishi a chance to explore something beyond his usual rom-com space.Sukhwant Dhadda directed.Wonder what happened to him!
  10. Khoj (1989)—At a time when he played lover-boy roles Rishi took a grand risk with this role of a man who murders his own wife. Butshhhh! We don’t know that until the end. And as we all know, ‘The End’ is a long way off from Rishi Kapoor’s exceptional career.
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Priyanka Chopra : The Girl Who Made It To The Top On Her Own

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Priyanka Chopra

Priyanka Chopra: The Girl Who Made It To The Top On Her Own

Priyanka Chopra, her beginning was not so humble. From up there where she is perched, life looks  like  a bed of roses  for    Mrs Priyanka Jonas. But the climb to the top  hasn’t been easy.

The roses unfortunately came with the pricks. From facing  the wrath of powerful superstars  to combating favouritism to making a name in a hostile imperialistic world…Priyanka fought  it all and emerged a winner.

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 Her beginnings were not so humble. Priyanka Chopra opened her innings as an  actor with  a Sunny Deol and an Akshay Kumar starrer The Hero and Andaaz, respectively. I  remember in Andaaz Priyanka  was made to do all the hot stuff(strip, smooch, slither, seduce)  while her co-star Lara Dutt was seen as the true heroine of the film(demure, docile, coy).

Followed a slew  of hits with Akshay Kumar including Aetraaz(where Priyanka Chopra vamped it up as a lady boss who all but rapes her employee) and  Mujhse Shaadi Karoge.And suddenly she was out of Akshay Kumar’s  range of  vision reportedly due to spousal pressure.  Salman Khan with whom she worked in several films during the first decade  of the new millennium unofficially banned  her from his films after she refused to  do one of his  family films. Another  major superstar Shah RukhKhan with whom she was  on eminently cordial terms was also unable to work with her. It was rumoured that Priyanka Chopra was  eased  out  of several project with  Shah Rukh.

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Fighting the nepotism  sexism and star-wives’ wrath, that rules the industry Priyanka  bagged the lead in Madhur Bhandarkar’s Fashion where she played the hero. The film was  a big hit and fetched her the National award  for best actress. It  was time to move forward…But where were the  leading men?It  was  at this point that  Priyanka  took the  plunge westwards  which no other leading lady from Hollywood had ever taken .

Today Bhandarkar is  rightfully  proud  of  Priyanka, as he says, “It gives me immense pleasure to see her achievements. She is in a happy space personally and professionally. Priyanka has achieved all this by sheer hard work. She is not afraid of taking challenges and test unknown territories. During Fashion too she was absolutely committed towards her craft and I am happy that the film proved to be a great project and a turning point in her career which also got her first National Award.”

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Priyanka Chopra hired herself an agent in Los Angeles and  began  building  her career  from scratch.

Prashasniya(admirable) baat hai. She has  achieved  the kind of  worldwide success which no other Indian actor has. And she did it all on her own.I don’t know how she  found her way  from Bollywood to the American film industry. But she did. She is now a known name  all over the world.We are all  proud  of her,” says Shatrughan Sinha.

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Celina Jaitley has  the fondest memories of her association with Priyanka Chopra, “I have wonderful memories of all the time spent when she was mentoring me for Ms Universe.We also did Shahrukh’s “ Heat” concert world tour shows in 6 countries. I can say with full confidence she has always been  an amazing person, consistent, disciplined and we had some great laughs together. Being from an army background there has always been a special bond whenever we worked together, I am so happy that she found her soulmate and has set a great platform across borders for all Indian women single handedly.”

Adds Dia Mirza,  “Priyanka Chopra has always had big ambition and the willingness to put in whatever it takes to achieve these aspirations. She has worked relentlessly to get where she has and I am sure she will continue to grow as artist and humanitarian. I’m happy she has found love and this marriage promises to be the beginning of many new beginnings in her life. Onwards and upwards Peecee!”

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Swara Bhaskara feels Priyanka Chopra is an  inspiration to generations of  Indian actors. “I think Priyanka Chopra’s journey shows all young women that there are no rules to success and there needn’t be a template to your life. That girls can live just how they want, do what they want, blaze their own trails. kudos to her.”

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Ranveer Singh Was Destined For Stardom

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Ranveer Singh

When I  first spoke to  Ranveer Singh on the day after  his Band Baaja Baaraat  released  in 2010  he  was respectful, attentive , eager  to learn.

We spoke at  length about the  response  to  the  film and his career. And  Ranveer Singh said, “Thank God, no one says any more than   my debut was financed by my father . That to me is my biggest victory.”

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Ranveer Singh  was  spoilt for choices. “I think after Band Baaja Baraat I need to do completely contrasting character. Someone who is not loud, opinionated and unsophisticated.”

The suffering of waiting was  over for this debutant who came in from the outside. Brimming  with enthusiasm  Ranveer Singh  had  said to me in 2010, “Not since Akshay Kumar and John Abraham has there been a male lead from outside the industry  getting such positive  reactions. I just hope my example encourages  talent from outside. Because right now the perception is  outsiders don’t stand a chance. I had no reference like mine  to give me hope  when I was going through  my struggle period.”

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One  call from Yashraj Films changed Ranveer Singh’s  life. “It was completely out of  the   blue from the casting director Shanu Sharma. I remember I was out on a date when (casting  director)  Shanu Sharma  kept calling. I avoided her calls for as long as I could because I had other things on my mind at that moment. Imagine if I had not taken the call from Yashraj for  a fling that lasted exactly ten days! Anyway the next day I was at Yashraj doing two scenes. I got called back in three days. Later Adi Sir(Chopra) told me he had made up his mind immediately..”

In  the same 2010  interview  Ranveer Singh said he was  pleased he didn’t get a conventional romantic debut. “The story  in Band Baaja Baaraat  is terrific. And my character Bittu was so much fun for me to play because he’s  so far removed from my  own world. It was more than I could ever ask for.I was more than happy to be  a simple character in a  simple story. Not too many newcomers can dream of  a break like Band Baaja Baaraat, certainly not someone unconnected with  the film industry.”

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Catty  elements within the  industry had spread the rumour that his  father, a prosperous business man, had financed  the film. Confesses the young polite actor, “Yes, that hurt on several levels. Such ugly  rumours took away from my pleasure at being the first solo-hero to be launched by Yashraj. Yeah…it was upsetting . My father and my  family’s pride that I had made it on my own got blunted when it was said that they financed my debut film. It was like  taking away from my little achievement. I was upset more for my parents  than myself.  I was also upset for Yashraj. Did they need my father’s money to make a  film? The entire film industry knows Yashraj doesn’t need to do all this.It’s  absurd. They  don’t need anyone’s money to make  films. Certainly not my father’s.”

Ranveer maintained he was  “very  good friends” with co-star Anushka Sharma, though they bickered non-stop  like their characters in Band Baaja Baaraat. “She and I are  very good friends. How can I  change that truth just because it sounds clichéd? We came from two different schools of filmmaking. I’m a trained actor. She never attended any acting school. As a model she  had faced the camera before acting and had already done two films before Band Baaja Baaraat. She is a one-take actor. I believe in lots  of rehearsals. And that was very annoying for Anushka because her first take was the best. We had to reach a middleground before we could get along. In hindsight I  feel I was rehearsing  more than necessary because it was my first  film.I learnt from her to  be spontaneous. But  the fact that we  had to  be at loggerheads on screen was certainly helped by  our constant friction in the sets about our approach to acting.”

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   Thankful for  the  success, Ranveer in that  same  interview   hoped every newcomer gets a supportive co-star like Anushka As  for the rumours about  Ranveer and Anushka the  then-newcomer said, “I was too much into my work to even think  about those rumours. I just wanted to  perform well. That was my only concern. In fact I was casually dating a girl when that call from Yashraj changed my  life. I’ve never been in a  serious  relationship so far. And now  my career has just started. It feels cool. I had told my father  a long time ago that I’d be an actor. My dream has come true. But my  family is not used to the  gossip and  rumours.”

And to think Ranveer thought of changing his name  because there was already a Ranbir around. “I am glad I didn’t. This is my name. This is  my destiny. I’m just so  happy .”He’s signed for three films with Yashraj. “But it is non-exclusive. I was waiting for my first release and so was the industry. Now they know  I wasn’t signed because my father paid for my dream. Adi too has plans for me though I don’t know what they are. He loves playing poker with people.”

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 Ranveer Singh’s superstardom is some day going to be  a part of folklore . He  came in from the  outside and was considered  quite  a brash  loudmouthed  exhibitionist. One  extremely influential filmmaker  called him “Another Vivek Oberoi”.

“I wonder what Aditya Chopra had seen in him?” this eminently  successful filmmaker had wondered.

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 We now  know the answer:  the same  thing that Deepika Padukone saw in Ranveer.

The brashness and bravado hide  a personality that triumphs over  all cynicism. Ranveer is loud, but not shrill. As in singing,  in acting holding your pitch in the higher notes is a Himalayan task. Ranveer  resides on the highest notes  of  the musical mountain and still manages to be coherent  fluent and persuasive.

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Not an easy task considering  the  tonal inflexions obtainable to a soprano singer singer are denied  to actors  in our  film industry. But then , Ranveer doesn’t listen  to any songs that don’t play in his own head. He  is a child of caprice. He will take what he  wants without caring  about how it makes  him look to the outside world.

The operatic maestro Sanjay Leela Bhansali who has done three of  his most recent masterpieces  with Ranveer in the lead, says he is capable of a lot more.  “In all the three films I did with him  Ranveer  took me by surprise. As an actor he is constantly exploring, looking for new ways to express his  innermost fears and insecurities. He is always restless and  inquisitive while shooting. It is difficult to keep up with him. Every time we work together he  comes up with a  new language of  expression. I am pretty sure Ranveer has  much more to  offer as an actor.”

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It was  on the set of Bhansali’s films that love happened for Ranveer and Deepika Padukone. A  love that  is  yet to be acknowledged  in the public domain , only because, well, that’s the way the Lady wants  it. And Ranveer , as any of his female co-stars would tell you  , is enormously respectful  to  women .

Anushka Sharma who  co-starred with Ranveer in his  debut film Band Baja Baraat  couldn’t really come to terms with his brashness. But even she had only favourable things to say about Ranveer as  a co-star and  gentleman who is as  capable of pulling up a chair for a lady as he is off pulling it away from her.

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The  gentleman and the prankster are  the one  and  the  same. In spite of his self-confessed atrangi (multi-faced) personality we never need to wonder who the real Ranveer Singh is. He is all  of those colourful people he plays on screen, plus many more characters that he will play in the  future.

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