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In India we learn English only to feel superior: Irrfan Khan

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Irrfan Khan has not had a release since the vigilante drama Madaari in July 2016 which performed decently at the boxoffice.

His new film  Hindi Medium again tackles a social issue, the craze for and obsession with admitting children to English-medium schools. It’s interesting to see Irrfan gravitating towards lead roles in Bollywood , though in his own way. He speaks to Subhash K Jha

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Your leading lady in Hindi Medium is a  new  Qamar,  Saba Qamar

(laughs) Actually she isn’t new. She has done wonderful work on television in  Pakistan. She has  a  huge fan following. I’ve never had so many of my friends requesting me for an introduction to a  co-star. The television soaps over there have very strong content and performances.She has a terrific command over the language. She came to the sets with her lines memorized. I love that.It makes the job of acting so much more pleasurable.

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Most of our actors today think in English?

Koi baat nahin,   kya farq padta hai.

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When actors like you take  a stand you get into trouble, when you don’t you are accused of fence-sitting. What’s the solution?

I don’t think there is a solution. Some of us have a strong voice. And we have to use it. As far as people’s criticism is concerned Rajesh Khanna had a good answer in the film Amar Prem when he sang Kuch toh log  kahenge logon ka kaam hai kehna.

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Interestingly you were the face of  Madaari . Now the same seems the case with Hindi Medium?

It’s not me.  It’s the content that will carry the film.The whole issue of bachcho ke school ka admission is dealt with in an entertaining way . I don’t think audiences want to watch  social issues in films unless it’s done in an interesting way.The subject is serious  but the treatment is light and entertaining.

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Is this an attempt to enter mainstream cinema?

I am trying to understand what mainstream  cinema is.

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Is it the social issue that attracted you to this film?

Not primarily.I’ve done so many films on issues. But at this juncture of my career I want to do films on themes that reach out to a large audience. I did  it for the package. I liked the producer Dinesh Vijeyan and the director Saket Choudhary, They came to me with the subject long back.We kept working on  it. We didn’t want it to be preachy or didactic. It took us time to  get  to a script-level that we all felt would be palatable to a mass audience.

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Your contribution to the development of the script must have been remarkable?

I did take interest because I wanted this very important idea of children’s education to  go out to a large audience.

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What is your take on the education model whereby the English language becomes the criteria  for acceptance?

Education has become an  industry , a business. Education follows the principles of entrepreneurship.As far as giving primacy to  the English languages goes, knowing any language is good. But in our country if you don’t know English then you are  not taken seriously. This is a tragic colonial legacy. A new language is supposed to create a different circuit in your brain, it expands your horizon. In India we learn English only to feel superior to  those who don’t know the language.

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When do we see you direct my film?

Meri ichcha hai hi nahin(I don’t have the urge).Taking on the tension , telling a hundred people on the set what to do, doesn’t come  naturally to me. It’s the behaviour of the actor , the skills needed to perform, that attracts me. I am not saying I will never direct.Maybe I’ll come across a story that will impel me to change my  mind. But direction is not an idea that appeals to my personality. I am not a multi-tasker by nature. I like to focus on one thing. And that one thing is acting right now.

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But you are also being very choosy as an actor?

It is true that I’ve always been wary of signing new films. But I’ve signed a few films after Hindi Medium. One is a Hindi film for T Series and there is a Hollywood film that I am about to sign. I am also doing a film directed by Abhinay Deo.

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Tell me about the Hollywood film?

I can’t talk about it yet. But I can tell you that for a change it isn’t a big-studio film. It’s an independent Indie film. And yes, it gives me a  chance to do something I’ve never done before.It is very important for me not to repeat myself.

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Are you happy with your progress?

I think things are moving well. My aim was to be excited by the choices I make as an actor. I am able to do this better  now than before. Yeah, I am doing the films that enjoy acting in. I’ll also continue to produce films.

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Why On  Earth Is Sushmita Sen Smoking A Cigar In Aarya’s First  Look?

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Aarya

Season 3  of Aarya is being shot as  you read this, and naturally Sushmita Sen is  super-kicked about it, so kicked that she has put  out a  video where she is seen  in the  best Lady Boss version of herself.

Alarmingly, she is seen puffing away at a  cigar, to  complete her Badass Lady Boss image.

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 There was a  time when women smoking  cigarettes  in Hindi cinema signaled vampishness. If a female actor was  shown smoking it meant she had evil designs  over the  hero, and life in general.

 Sushmita being Sushmita, a cigarette won’t do. A  cigar it is, to go with her formidable image. The last Bollywood actor I saw smoking a cigar  on screen was Premnath in the 1970s. Back then so  many  people didn’t die of cancer  by smoking.

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 These are  different far more dangerous  and deadly times.

Sushmita is an iconic  actor.She  needs to be more careful about the image  she projects . Smoking  a  cigar doesn’t  enhance a woman’s(or a  man’s) muscle power. Nor does it make her look cool.

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About shooting for the third season of Aarya  Sushmita says, “Aarya is synonymous with my name.  I have lived as Aarya for two whole seasons and the love received by the audiences has only encouraged me to do more. Walking on the sets of Aarya Season 3 makes me feel at home and gives me  a sense of empowerment. I’m grateful to the entire team at Disney+ Hotstar, Ram Madhvani Films and Endemol Shine India for the vision of creating Aarya and taking it to newer heights with every season.”

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Shah Rukh, Deepika, John Will Meet The Media  On Monday At 4 pm(But There’s  A Catch)

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Pathaan

Pathaan has effectually discredited the  efficacy  of media interactions to promote  a  film. The  film’s lead actors Shah Rukh  Khan, Deepika Padukone  and John Abraham did not conduct any  press or portal interviews  to  promote the  film.

And  yet Pathaan  is  a blockbuster.

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 This  weekend  the Pathaan producer Aditya  Chopra  of  Yash Raj Films  took a call on behalf  of  the Pathaan team  to do one media  meet at the Taj Land’s End in Mumbai  on Monday January 30 at 4 pm.

The  three principal actors  and  director Siddharth Malhotra  will address  the  media.

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 But  here’s the catch: the media will not be allowed to ask any questions. There will be no  Q& A s or  one-on-one  interactions.This  basically means that the  Pathaan  team will  have an opportunity to  say what it wants  to the media. But the  media will have no say.

Make what  you will of this  one-way traffic.

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A  source close  to Yash Raj informs  me that this is  the   pattern  regarding the media that  Yash Raj will follow for  future  releases: no  press meets  no promotional  engagements.

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Fake Projects of Pathaan Director Being Planted In Media

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Pathaan

Siddharth Anand Denies Considering  Any Project With  Deepak Mukut

A  word of caution to those marketing and publicity wizkids  who think  it’s okay to  plant fake stories  on (fake) projects  with the Pathaan director.

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 It is  not.

Such baseless announcements  are meant only to  raise  the equity  of the  producers  with whom Siddharth   Anand’s name is  linked. One  such  producer whose name  has cropped up after the  spectacular success of  Pathaan is  Deepak Mukut.

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There were  reports  everywhere that Siddharth Anand’s next would  be with Mukut.

Turned out to be a false rumour.

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A  source in the  know informs, “Siddharth now has to complete Fighter  starring Hrithik Roshan and  Deepika Padukone  for Yash Raj.Then  he  is   committed to direct the sequel to War 2 for  Yash Raj films.  They will then start  work on the  next film in the Pathaan  franchise. There is no scope  or  room for any outside  projects  for Siddharth Anand. So every announcement  that  you read of a  new film  to be  directed by Siddharth Anand  for an  outside  producer is likely to  be  a hundred  percent fake.”

When I asked Siddharth Anand  about the  supposed project  with  producer Deepak Mukut he promptly replied,  “NOT AT ALL.”

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Pink Director’s Next  Featuring Yami As A Crime Reporter To Stream From February 16

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Yami

Anniruddha Roy  Chowdhury whose  Pink  featuring Amitabh Bachchan and Taapsee Pannu was one of  the  most important  films of  2016, is all set to  release his  next  Hindi film.

Entitled LostAnniruddha’s film , based on true  events, will see Yami Gautam Dhar(that’s  what the actress calls herself after her marriage)  as a crime journalist. LOST is an emotional social thriller that represents a higher quest, a search for lost values of empathy and integrity.

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Inspired by true events, Lost is a story of a bright young woman crime reporter in her relentless search for the truth behind the sudden disappearance of a young theatre activist.

Lost

Lost

Says Aniruddha  “The shoot of LOST has been an incredible journey. I have been eager for the release of our hard-worked venture. The film is a realistic highlight of media in a social context and I am sure that it will give the audience a compelling watch. I am curious about its release and see the responses it shall get. I hope they will welcome it with open hearts.”

Yami Gautam Dhar  who plays  the lead  of  the  crime reporter  says,   “I can’t be happier and more proud of the film’s selection for the opening night at CSAFF. I feel like its one that the people will connect to and will be the one that you cannot miss, especially in the current age and time. I have loved playing this role because it was such a special experience, it allowed me to explore so many layers of emotions as an actor and the entire team has worked really hard on it. I genuinely cannot wait for the film’s release, especially to see the reactions of the audience to it.”

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The crime investigation  drama boasts a stellar cast. Along with Yami, the film will feature Pankaj Kapur, Rahul Khanna, and an ensemble of younger talent, including Neil Bhoopalam, Pia Bajpai, and Tushar Pandey, in pivotal roles.

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