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Dilip Kumar Is  No More

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Every time I met India’s greatest actor I was struck by how magnetic  he looked. Yes,  Dilip Kumar  was every bit  the matinee idol that no longer exists in  our cinema. He was erudite and  mischievous.  He  could speak on Einstein and breasts all in the same breath.  He could also give any Brando or de Niro a run for their money with his ageless performances.

And then in the last ten years  of his life he couldn’t  recognize anyone.

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But let’s not even go there right now.     

 The Thespian who re-wrote every rule of acting in mainstream Hindi cinema hardly looked his age. I remember  meeting him on   his 80th birthday.That trademark twinkle in those eloquent  eyes remained where it was. The face crinkled up into a 5-year old’s innocent smile and the words flow in a constant stream-like rush of  urgent expressions.

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On the day of his  80th birthday there was a constant rush of callers and visitors. Admirers and friends like Yash Chopra, Dharmendra and even the elusive Rekha whom Dilip Kumar and his attentive wife Saira  Banu hadn’t met for three years, had dropped in  to wish their favourite actor and his wife at their Pali Hill bungalow in Mumbai.

When he was    80  and  you tell him  he looks no more than 60, Dilip Kumar almost blushes and retorts, “Oh, the news that I’m now 80 is just a rumour.”  When you tell him you’d  like to look like he does when you reach his age he smiles, “This body is mine. And bearing its burden has become quite a task.”

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In spite of childlike chuckles and bubbling banter  (“I shamelessly use  Saira’s mobile all the time and burn up precious airtime. I shouldn’t be doing be doing that, y’know”) there was a sheen of sadness surrounding this ageless acting genius in his  80s.

Dilip Saab never considered  himself the greatest  actor.

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He once told me, “There might be  many better actors than me. I’ll tell you , I had no training and I wouldn’t have  dared to venture into films were it not for my family’s financial conditions.  The Second World war was extremely hard on the horticulture business . My father would grow apricots, grapes, pomegrenates, apples and peaches. He would get those fruits tinned. He would proudly show me the size of the fruits and say, “This is what I want you to grow, Yusuf. Because you’re my most intelligent son.” He wanted me to be educated so I could enhance  the family business. A friend of my father Fateh Mohammah Khan had been honoured by the Queen. My father wanted to show the Britishers that he could grow fruits as good as his friend without being a toddy.I was always very business minded. I loved the family business.  But it was a very tough life . The entire process from plucking to  despatch  was very cumbersome . Bahut mushqil tha. I had to get another job with a decent salary. That’s  where  acting came in handy.”

Yusuf Saab recalls how disappointed his father was when  young  Yusuf   decided not to join the family’s fruit-growing business. “He was very annoyed  when I got into films. But then he heard other people whom he respected relishing the idea. Once Maulana Azad  whom everyone revered, heard my father commenting caustically on one of his sons drifting into films,  and what to do? Maulana Saab intervened on my behalf and said there’s no telling what  the future holds for anyone. He also told my father to be proud of his son’s achievements  and implored him to be patient with my aspirations. I had no training in acting  whatsoever and I wouldn’t have  dared to venture into films were it not for my family’s financial conditions.  The Second World War was extremely hard on the horticulture business and I had to supplement the family income.”

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And now when the nation seems on the brink of a chaos the  brilliant actor sees nothing but a bleak future staring into his face. “Believe me, iss qadar jee bharaa hua hai ke hum poochte hain hum kahan ud ke jayen? Where can I go to escape the barbarism of my own people It’s heartening  to think  that even today there are rational elements , specially among the younger generation whom one sees   challenging the politicians  of the country, asking them where they intend to take us.”

Yusuf Saab was particularly worried about the future of the Indian Muslim. “The  Muslims   will soon become a part of  history. Every civilization is cyclic and must end. My personal view is, that the Indian Muslim population  may eventually be annihilated. But it won’t end there. The process of destroying civilizations will continue.  I too am a Muslim. I  worship my Maker the same way as you do. I never think that my God is separate from yours. My Quran says there are many apostles like Muhammed and we shouldn’t discriminate against them.  I read the Bhagavat Gita and the Vedanta with as much reverence as the Quran.  The messages in our holy book and yours are identical. Kyon kha-ma-kha mein donon mein discrimate karoon?”

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He ruled out an active political career for himself. “It’s a venue for  screaming and indiscipline.  Ek aadmi kuch bhi nahin kar sakta. He can perish in trying to make his voice heard. I no longer have that  much energy. I used to make 10-12 rounds of Jogger’s Park during my morning walks. But now I can no longer go beyond three rounds. I can see time ticking away.”

Time did  finally run out on Yusuf Saab. Farewell, Maestro.You are the greatest actor, ever.

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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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