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Akshay Kumar owes his career to Ajay Devgn and Sunil Darshan!

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Suneel Darshan is back to direction again after a seven year break with his son Shiv again (had produced Shiv’s Karle Pyar Karle in 2014), Upen Patel and newbie Natasha Fernandes, with a musical thriller titled Ek Haseena Thi Ek Diwana Tha which releases this week.

Looking back…
In the 1990s, after Akshay Kumar’s supporting role in the Yash Chopra’s Dil Toh Pagal Hai, his other releases, including Lahu Ke Do Rang, Insaaf, Daava, Tarazu, Angaaray, Barood and Zulm turned out to be duds at the box-office. Few were willing to sign him till Suneel Darshan approached him for Jaanwar. Directed and produced by Suneel, the action drama co-starred Karisma Kapoor and Shilpa Shetty and the film became an instant hit and marked the actor’s comeback. From then on Akshay and Suneel went on to give more hits including Ek Rishta, Andaaz, Barsaat, and Dosti: Friends Forever, which was one of the year’s biggest hits overseas. The next year Suneel’s younger brother Dharmesh gave the khiladi another big hit in Dhadkan. Suneel and Akshay’s last film together was Mere Jeevan Saathi which didn’t do well at the BO and after that both stopped working together.Suneel Darshan

In an interview, Suneel tells us why he stopped working with Akshay, his love and respect for Ajay Devgn and why he is directing Ek Haseena Thi Ek Diwana Tha after a decade…

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You have given so many hits with big actors Akshay Kumar and Sunny Deol. Did you also take a break because you were disappointed with them?
I did not work with big actors. Correct yourself. I worked with Akshay Kumar in Jaanwar. At that time he was not happening. He had 14 flops behind him. There was another actor who was sailing in the same boat as him and he had said if things didn’t work for him, it was time to retire. Also I clearly remember telling Akshay that it was okay if he wanted to give his career another shot but if things didn’t happen, it was still okay. Somewhere I saw a big potential in him but which didn’t get realized as he didn’t have the right opportunity. He wasn’t backed by the right filmmakers and those who had backed him at that point and made films with him didn’t hold him in high respect and esteem. Those elements are very important. A filmmaker needs to have faith in his actors and support their self-confidence. You have to do a lot to create these actors, make them into stars, and deliver better performances. Better performances create better films and better films create bigger stars. We did seven films in as many years. It was a process of re-building which is always more difficult than building actually. Thanks to all the efforts, support and blessings of his wife, mother, family and secretary, things went right for him and I am very happy with what Akshay has achieved today.

How did you give Akshay your film Jaanwar when nobody had faith in him?
He was taking a backseat because the other two-three movies he was acting in had all taken a pause. Some were not getting completed and some stalled… Jaanwar was written keeping Sunny Deol in mind but there was a fall-out with Sunny before that. I was ready to start with another big star of that time who expressed his desire to work in the film and I had almost signed him on. But just before I could sign him on I got a call from Akshay Kumar who was very keen to meet me immediately and when I met him, I saw this boy who appeared very sincere, honest and had all the time in the world to focus on my movie. I thought that was a great opportunity. Maybe I won’t make money or I am risking it all on this boy but at least I would have the opportunity to make a good film. That was too tempting for a filmmaker. I said forget everything and let’s go with Akshay.

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Who was the big star who you didn’t take in Jaanwar?
That’s an actor for whom I have so much respect and admiration. All the films that I produced were distributed by his company. At that time there was only one actor who was into distribution and that actor was Ajay Devgn. I explained to Ajay that I was signing Akshay and he was extremely supportive about it. Even after that the films that I have produced have been distributed by his office in Mumbai which was helmed by Mr Kumar Mangat. We still share a mutual relationship of great respect. At one point they wanted to make a movie with me and I was always available to him. For me gratitude is an important thing that I offer people. If people don’t reciprocate that’s okay. I kept working with my actors again and again till it was time for them to move ahead. I didn’t.


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Why did you take a break for so long?
Yes, I am coming back into filmmaking after 10 years. I last directed Shakalaka Boom Boom in 2007. For me it’s been such a long wait. Life and destiny plans the pause for you and that’s what happened to me. I had everything going but I saw the changing scenario in the film industry so I took a pause and the sabbatical got stretched. Cinema wasn’t changing but the corporatization of cinema was coming in so there was a new culture coming in too. I wasn’t conversant with it and thought it wouldn’t last. My fears were not unfounded as most of the big corporates who were on the scene, today have died down and disappeared.

Tell us about your next release Ek Haseena Thi… and what made you decide to direct again after a decade?
After his debut film didn’t do well, Shiv lay low for a while. I watched him go through that process. The whole attempt was to drop the past and start afresh. I had a story which I had written and narrated it to him and we decided to do make the film. Shiv is a boy who has strong, visual appeal and certain intensity to him as an actor. As a human being he’s a good one and you need such people in cinema. In the film Shiv doesn’t play your run-of-the-mill, boy-next-door, nice guy. It’s a very different and difficult character that he has portrayed as right from the first shot when you see him, you will want to discover what he’s all about. There’s an enigmatic quality to his character which Shiv has portrayed very effectively.


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Why sign Upen Patel for this film when his career is at a standstill now?
There was another male character in the movie of significant importance which is played by Upen Patel. Right now his career may not be doing well but one right movie can just change everything for him. I cannot say whether he is playing a negative role but he is definitely playing a very interesting role in the movie. He will be quite a surprise as Upen will be showcased in just the way he deserves to be. When the movie gets over, you will carry his role back with you. Upen is very focused on his work and knew that this was his vehicle so he delivered perfectly. Ek Haseena Thi… is a romantic triangle but there’s more to it than that. I have always depended on content rather than just a good star cast. That’s the reason I would also work with newcomers, take on actors who were not happening and whose films were not happening at the BO and still achieved success with them.Did you approach any top actors to help you in this film – to introduce Shiv or talk about your film?
I didn’t approach anybody because they all belong to that era where one has worked with them but time has lapsed since then. But it was very sweet of Juhi Chawla who sent me a message from Africa saying she loved the songs of Ek Haseena Thi… and wished me. Then Karisma Kapoor and Celina Jaitley have sent me their best wishes. It’s very sweet and kind of them. I am not really the kind who connects with people to promote my film. I feel that if they appreciate me and are available, it’s very good and if I am forgotten, then no problem.
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Aamir Khan’s Sister Plays Shah Rukh’s Mother In Pathaan

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Aamir Khan’s Sister Plays Shah Rukh’s Mother

Ever  since Pathaan released on Wednesday, audiences  have been  curious to know who  is the woman who plays Shah Rukh Khan’s adoptive mother in Afghanistan. The stately lady  with  royal looks is none  other than the late producer  Tahir Hussain’s daughter and  Aamir Khan’s elder  sister Nikhat Khan.

 Nikhat has been  closely  associated with the  film industry  and has helped her father in the production of his  films like Dulha Bikta Hai and  Tum Mere  Ho.

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Nikhat has  acted earlier in the Akshay Kumar starrer Mission Mangal ,  Ajay Devgan’s Tanhaji and  in Sandh Ki Aankh(as a Maharani).

For Pathaan, it was Shah Rukh Khan who suggested Nikhat Khan should play his foster-mother in  Afghanistan who names him ‘Pathaan’. It proved to be  an inspired  piece of casting, as  audience have  loved Nikhat  Khan’s cameo.

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It is  heartwarming that  all three Khan superstars  are  associated with Pathaan in one  way  or the other.

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Anurag Kashyap’s New Film Is About Love Jihad

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Love Jihad, whatever  that means, is  the theme  of  Anurag Kashyap’s new film Almost Pyaar  With D  J Mohabbat.

Debutant Karan  Mehta plays a Muslim boy  in an intense relationship with  Alaya F who plays  a Hindu  girl.Kashyap has spared the  audience none of the ugliness that  such a relationship generates  among  social-media  bouncers, the self-styled  guardian of morality .

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In the hardhitting powerful and pertinent film  a  bigot is heard commenting snidely, “These people first talk about Mohabbat. Then  they talk about Mohammed.”

Happily and  surprisingly,  the Central Board Of Film Certification gave the  film a ‘UA’ certificate  with no  cuts: a  rare non-‘A’ film of Kashyap.

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So far  Kashyap and his  team have kept the Love Jihad part  of  the plot  out of all media interaction.

But the  cat is  now  out of the bag.

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Samantha Ruth Prabhu to Star Alongside Varun Dhawan in Prime Video’s Indian Original Series , Samantha Speaks

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Samantha Ruth Prabhu

Samantha Ruth Prabhu will be starring alongside Varun Dhawan in the Indian installment of the Citadel universe, the global-event series from Prime Video and the Russo Brothers’ AGBO. The untitled Citadel series based out of India is being helmed by renowned creator duo Raj & DK (Raj Nidimoru and Krishna DK), who are the showrunners and directors.

 The local installment is written by Sita R. Menon, along with Raj & DK. The streaming service also confirmed that the production is currently underway in Mumbai. After this, the unit will head  to North India and then onwards to international locales like Serbia and South Africa.

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  Richard Madden (Bodyguard) and Priyanka Chopra Jonas will star in the first-to-launch series within the Citadel universe, which comes from the Russo Brothers’ AGBO along with David Weil (Hunters) and is set to premiere in 2023. Alongside Madden and Chopra Jonas, the first-to-launch Citadel series will also feature Stanley Tucci (The Hunger Games saga). Additional local-language Citadel productions are also in the works, including an Italian Original series starring Matilda De Angelis (The Undoing).

  Speaking on  her participation in  The Citadel  franchise for  the  first time,Samantha says, “When Prime Video and Raj & DK approached me with this project, I decided to take it up in a heartbeat! After working with this team on The Family Man, it is homecoming for me.The Citadel universe, the interconnected storylines between the productions across the globe, and most importantly, the script of the Indian installment really excited me.”

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   Samantha  says she is  looking forward  to working with Varun Dhawan  .  “I am thrilled to be a part of this brilliant universe conceptualised by the Russo Brothers. I am also looking forward to be working with Varun for the first time, on this project. He is someone who is full of life and cheer when you’re around him.”

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Bollywood’s Achche Din Have Come

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 Tu Jhoothi Main Makkaar

All you doomsday  prophets, the  booms-day  profits  are here.  Pathaan  has  opened the floodgates again for Bollywood’s  bumper  bonanza at the  boxoffice.And now there is  only the achche din ahead  for  Hindi  cinema.

In the  next   two months there are  three sureshot  blockbusters coming up, beginning with Shehzada.  An astute devilishly impish  adaptation  of  Allu Arjun’s  2020 Telugu   blockbuster  Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo.The super-popular Kartik  Aaryan gives  his own  spin to the  character. This  performance will take   Kartik to the  next level of stardom. Kartik’s version of  Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo is  radically different  from  its Telugu  version. Shehzada  takes  the core idea of  the Telugu original  and turns it into a  something  completely different. Kartik’s  co-star in Shehzada  is  Kriti  Sanon with whom he earlier shared superhit space in Lukka Chuppi.

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 Then there  is Luv Ranjan’s ravishing rom-com   Tu Jhoothi Main Makkaar. The director’s   male viewpoint on the chaos  of love relationships  crests to a comic  high in his latest. Ranjan  for  the first time, collaborates with Ranbir Kapoor for the  first time  collaborates with Shraddha  Kapoor  who badly needs a hit.This film should do the  trick. The winsome  lead pair tries  to do one  another  in a  game of Luv This is Luv Ranjan’s Hum…Aapke Hain Con. Ranjan  has in the past used  the romcom  space to  entertain his audience  to the hilt, he  says this  time the stakes are different. It is  not something we’ve seen before.

 Finally  it is   Rocky Aur Rani Ki Prem Kahani.  Karan  Johar’s first directorial in six years(not counting the one segment each  in Ghost Stories and  Lust Stories). This time he has assembled a dream star-cast  of Dharmendra, Jaya Bachchan, Shabana Azmi, Ranveer Singh and  the  boxoffice darling(s) Alia Bhatt.  But trust me, this one is  not about assembling stars  into a complacent plot. The writing in this  zany Romeo & Juliet is so crisp  and engrossing, the experience  is  likely to be   the visual version of a multi-flavour icrecream cone. Colour, choler and karma collide in this tragic-comic love story . Let the  box office dhamaka  begin  from the house  of Dharma.

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