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Aparna Sen:  “I  Sleep & Dream In  Both Bengali & English”

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Aparna Sen and  Shabana Azmi have been friends for 30 years. In Aparna’s new film Sonatathey play furiously fastened friends who have live together as flat-mates in Mumbai for 20 years.

Aparna who is  in Mumbai for the release of Sonata says, “Shabana and I understand each other instinctively.We don’t even have to speak on the sets. I can convey what I want without words to her, that’s how close we are.”

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Shabana effusive and generous as always, says she is grateful to Aparna  for giving her the best role in the film.

Aparna who plays one of the lead roles in Sonata, laughs at Shabana’s gratitude. ‘I could’ve never played her part of Dolon Sen, although Dolon is Bengali like me. She is outgoing filled with joie de vivre, unafraid and  uninhibited.I can’t sing, and Dolon can!Shabana has sung the Rabindra Sangeet so beautifully. ”

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But surely that’s a technicality that could easily have been dealt with through playback singing? Aparna says an emphatic no to that. “No no playback singing is complete no-no for international audiences. They look at the traditional of playback singing in Indian cinema with very sceptical eyes.So no to playback singing.”

And a  big yes  to female bonding in Sonata.  “After Arshinagar in Bengali I wanted to make a much less expensive film in English, at  least that’s what the producers asked me to do. I wanted to make a film with less characters.  I had seen  Mahesh Eklunchwar’s play long ago and it had stayed with me.Actually , for a very long time I wanted to do a chamber piece, a play on film set in one location unfolding within a few hours.I wanted to do BadalSircar’s Sari Raat. But due to political reasons it became impossible. That’s when I remembered Sonata.I decided to do this story  of three women of a certain age, their uncertainties, laughter, worries and togetherness.”

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Shabana and Lilette Dubey were the natural choices for the two other roles. For the third protagonist’s part Aparna cast herself. This is the fourth time Aparna is directing herself.And she looks ravishingly beautiful.

“Thank you. I never know how to react to compliments.  But tell me , was it just my  looks or have I acted well also in Sonata?” asks the veteran actress who made her debut  in front of  the camera at age 12 in Satyajit Ray’s Sampati, and never looked back.

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In recent times Aparna Sen has been busier directing films rather than acting in them. She directed three back-to-back Bengali films in the last four years including last year’s Romeo & Juliet adaptation Arshinagar which she says she enjoyed(though the audience didn’t). “It was fun doing a  full feature in song form. There of course we had to have playback singing because there were so many actors and not all of them could sing.”

From the beginning of her directorial career Aparna has been seesawing between English and Bengali films. Some of her most relevant films from her debut in 36 Chowringhee Lanehave been in English. “If you ask which language I am more comfortable making films in I’d have to say,both. I sleep and dream in English and Bengali.”
She is anxious about Sonata.  “It’s set in one place during one evening.I was  completely enchanted by how well the male gaze of the playwright Mahesh Elkunchwar fell on the woman characters. He seems to understand the woman’s subconscious so well.I had tremendous fun shooting with Shabana and Lilette.”

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Aparna made changes  in the original play. “While I wanted to retain the flavour of the play on celluloid I also wanted to give the dramatic tension of socio-political relevance I’ve introduced two new characters which were not there in the original(a  transgender woman and her foreigner boyfriend).”

Aparna ends the film with a reference to 26/11 terror attack on the Taj hotel. “It gives the film a political context. It connects the characters to a world outside their own private world.”

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The film ends with Shabana and Aparna staring wide-eyed at images on television from the 26/11 devastation.

“All their mutual differences are forgotten when given the larger issue. They become one during the time of this national crisis,” says Aparna as she readies for the premiere of Sonatain  Mumbai. Her daughter Konkana Sen  and grandson have come visiting. For now she is just another happy mother and grandmother.

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Albeit a yummy Mummy and a  gorgeous grandmother.

 

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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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