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I never protested against the national anthem: Kamaluddin Mohammed

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Kamaluddin Mohammed better known as Kamal is currently a filmmaker under siege.Accused by right-wing parties of anti-nationalism the shy brilliant director of the Malayalam masterpieces like Celluloid, Gramophone and Aggathan finally opens up in a candid interview with Subhash K Jha.

From a National award winning filmmaker to an anti-national traitor, this happens only in India, don’t you agree?

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(Laughs nervously) I still don’t know what happened. I though India belongs to all Indians. I was born and brought up in India. I am as Indian as anyone else. I don’t see myself as a Hindu or Muslim. I am an Indian filmmaker.

You had to be hospitalized?

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Yes, but it had nothing to do with the controversy. I needed to get myself looked at.

Have you been provided security from the people who are hounding and threatening you?

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Now I am in my hometown Kodungallur which is on the outskirts of Kochi one hour away by car.I was actually born in a  village named Mathilakam. But I grew up in Kodungallur. My house is  here. Everything is peaceful here. No sign of any aggression . Actually this is  a Communist-dominated area.And though the BJP has clout in these parts too I am safe from any attack.So here,  I am only hearing about all the things that I am supposed to have done and all the things that people want to do to me.

So you make you films from this little town?

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Yes, I prefer to stay here because all my family relatives and friends stay here. I feel comfortable  and secure here. My home town is Communist and secular. That’s why I told you I grew up feeling neither Muslim nor Hindu.

When you hear and read of your being anti-national how do you react?

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I don’t even know what exactly happened. As you know I am the chairperson of the Kerala State Film Academy. The National anthem is played before each and every film in every theatre in Kerala. I never protested against the national anthem being played in cinema houses.Why would I do that? I only protested against the police being sent to a cinema house to arrest people during the national anthem. In the capacity of the chairperson of the Kerala State Film Academy I protested against police force-entering the cinema house. That was not right.

How does this make you anti-national?

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To this day I don’t know. Maybe those who accusing me can explain  how.It could be my Communist leanings. During the last elections I campaigned for some Communist candidates. I am  a Communist. That’s my political ideology.

That doesn’t make you anti-national?

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No it doesn’t.But they know better.They’ve be targeting individuals from the arts , be it cinema or literature. I am sure you’ve heard of the way the veteran litterateur M.T.Vasudevan was targeted and abused like anything.

To add to your troubles Vidya Balan has backed out of your Kamla Das bio-pic Aami?

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Yes .the timing of her decision  is very unfortunate, though I’d like to believe that the right-wing pressure had nothing to do with it. But I am not stressing over her departure. I am going to make the film without VidyaBalan with another fine artiste. This is my dream project. One Vidya can’t take my dream away from me.I’ve been planning this project for four years.

Was it a shock when you heard she has opted out?

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It came as a complete surprise.She had given us no prior indication of her intentions.I don’t know the reason for her behaving this way . But it is unethical and unprofessional. It doesn’t suit such a great actor to behave like this.Just one week before the shooting was to begin  Vidya informed us she’s not doing it. This is not done.

What  do you think happened?

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I don’t know. I gave her the script. She was very happy and preparing for the part.Suddenly this happened.

Do you think your current political problem scared her off?

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I don’t think so. I think ultimately Kamla Das proved too controversial for Vidya. She was scared to portray her.As you know Kamla Das had converted to Islam. Maybe there were pressures on Vidya. I really don’t know what her insecurities were. Her recent Hindi movies have been failures.I wish her well.

Are you confident about making Aami without Vidya Balan?

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Hundred percent confident. I have distinguished names like Gulzar and Resul Pookutty associated with the project. I don’t have to worry.By the way Gulzar came  on board knowing how controversial Kamla Das’ life was. So did Vidya. We didn’t deceive her into accepting the film. It is unfortunate that she left us.It’s not good.

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Jamuna Had A Love-Hate Relationship With  Bollywood

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Jamuna

Veteran  Telugu  actress  Jamuna who passed away on Friday, shared an uneasy relationship with  the Hindi film industry.She did eleven Hindi films including the iconic Milan in  1967 where Jamuna  agreed to play the  second lead, or the  supporting role if you will, to Nutan.

 Jamuna as Gauri was the Other Woman who craved for the hero Sunil Dutt’s attention whereas  he had  eyes and devotion  only for Nutan. In later  years  Aruna Irani played a similar  role in  Caravan.

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 In Milan Jamuna  was not keen to  do a supporting role. Producer L V Prasad tempted her with three chartbusting songs. Besides, Jamuna had played the same role in Mooga Manasulu, the  Telugu original  of  Milan. But it  was the songs composed by Laxmikant-Pyarelal  which convinced  Jamuna to  take up the second lead in Milan.

 While  Nutan had no solo songs  in Milan, she did have the chartbuster duet  Sawan  ka mahina . Jamuna on the  other hand,  had two  splendid Lata Mangeshkar solos: Tohey saawariya naahin khabariya  and   the magnificent Ghazal Aaj dil pe koi  zor chalta nahin.Not only  these, Jamuna  also had a  hit duet  with Mukesh  based on her character  Gauri:  Bol Gauri  bol tera kaun piya.

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But  then, fate  intervened. After the film released  one of Jamuna’s solos, the poignant and memorable  Aaj dil pe koi zor chalta nahin was  snipped  out of the film.

Here is what  happened:  the  Ghazal , one of Lataji’s all-time greats, was very much a part of Milan when  it released on 17 March 1967. But then  it was seen to hamper the  flow of the  film and  edited  out. The  beautiful song occurred right after intermission. Producer  Prasad, a shrewd  filmmaker, got to know that audiences prolonged their  loo breaks as there was  a song after the break. Hence the sacrifice  of  a seriously  sonorous melody.

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Jamuna hardly did  Hindi films after Milan. Her last  Bollywood appearance  was in  Raj Kumar  Kohli’s Raj Tilak  where she  was lost in a multistarrer as  the royal  queen.

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Karan Johar Moves Alia Song From Switzerland To Kashmir

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Rocky Aur Rani  Ki Prem Kahaani

The  romantic duet in  Karan Johar’s Rocky Aur Rani  Ki Prem Kahaani  which was to be  shot in Switzerland and which was  delayed  due to the film’s leading lady Alia Bhatt’s motherhood, is now being relocated to  Kashmir.

Purely out of  the  love for  new mom Alia.

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Says a source in the know, “Karan loves Alia  like his own daughter. He would do anything for her. He postponed  the  release of Rocky Aur Rani Ki Prem Kahani as the love duet could not be shot before Alia’s maternity leave. Karan had decided to shoot the song in Switzerland  after Alia’s maternity love. But now he has relocated the song to Kashmir  as Alia doesn’t want to leave her  baby girl behind for  long stretches.”

And as Karan Johar argued, snow is  snow. How does it matter whether it is  Switzerland or Kashmir?

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This  song would be Karan Johar’s tribute to  his  idol Yash Chopra. Alia would be dressed in chiffon sarees while  Ranveer, for  a change, would be seen in  formals.

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Bobby Deol’s Switchover To Villainous Roles

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Bobby Deol

After  Prakash Jha’s webseries Ashram where Bobby  played a sleazy  godman, and Love Hostel  where  he was a ruthless assassin,   he is playing the villain to Ranbir Kapoor in  Sandeep Vanga’s  Animal.

Bobby says it is not conscious career decision to play negative characters  but a conscious  decision to play interesting characters. “ I don’t look at  characters as positive or negative.When I watch  films there is always  one character  that stays  with you. I want to play that  character.”

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Prakash Jha’s Ashram proved a gamechanger for Bobby.  He admits finding  challenging roles is tough.  “I am trying. I  am doing Sandeep Vanga’s Animal with Ranbir  Kapoor , Parineeti Chopra. Then I am doing the family film Apne  2 which I am  very excited  about.”

 In an  earlier  interview with  this writer Bobby spoke  about his   long absence  from screen  before Prakash Jha’s Ashram.  “My fans   would ask why I wasn’t being seen on the screen.And I couldn’t tell them it was  because  I wasn’t getting good roles. But my fans  stood by me. They gave me  the strength  to  keep looking for the right roles. Thankfully I found the roles I liked. My new  films have given  me  some new fans. I am  thankful  I am still here. Yeah , I am in a good space right now.”

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Undekhi A Dark Compelling  Thriller Set In The Heartland

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Undekhi A Dark Compelling  Thriller Set In The Heartland 4

Undekhi  the  forthcoming webseries  from Applause Entertainment  and Sony LIV which  starts  streaming from July 10,   looks  like  the  kind  of   thriller  that  won’t let  us rest  easy until we see  the last episode. It is mounted  with  a  stress on growing pressure.

One  promo shows  a rotund  cop investigating  a gruesome  murder  in  a dense tribal area.The other promo  shows a politician gunning  down a dancer on stage  in front of  the public and  the  press.

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Wild  West  comes to the North. Undekhi is a thriller set in Manali, Himachal created for Applause by Siddharth Sengupta. It’s a gripping story that sees Harsh Chhaya making an  impressive comeback as a drunk Papaji in a super-rich amoral Punjabi  family. And Surya Sharma (Prince from Hostages) really shines as Rinku ,  the main bad guy and Papaji’s nephew. It’s got a terrific cast of other characters, many of whom we  all  recognize as names .

The talented  Harsh Chhaya  makes a debut of sorts  on the  digital medium  with Undekhi.

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Says Harsh, “I  have never played anything so wild and mad. I am looking forward to Undekhi, hope it works for the audience too.This is a debut in a sense that this is the first one I shot for the OTT  platform.But the other two I shot for after this was  streamed   before this one Out Of Love and  Rangbaaz, Phir Se.

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