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Introducing Zaheer Iqbal- Salman Khan’s New Discovery!

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Salman Khan has a keen eye for talent. And when he spots genuine talent, nothing can stop him from bringing that talent into the public eye.

The big news right now is that Salman is launching a handsome and talented newcomer in the film industry – Zaheer Iqbal.

Zaheer doesn’t hail from a film family but his father and Salman have known each other for years. Salman spotted Zaheer at his sister’s wedding function doing a stage performance. He was so impressed with Zaheer’s act that he decided then and there that he would launch this terrific performer into the movies.

Now, the wait has ended as Salman gets ready to launch him into the world of glamour and glitter. Salman’s banner SKF (Salman Khan Films) is producing the film along with Murad Khetani and Ashwin Varde of Cine1 Studios. The film (yet untitled) will go on floors in September this year and is being directed by the highly acclaimed Nitin Kakkar of Filmistaan fame.

The film is a love story set in Kashmir. The leading lady opposite him will also be a new face and will be finalised in the next few days.

Salman has been personally supervising the training that Zaheer is undergoing for the last few months. In fact, he’s even named him ‘Zahero’.

A proud Salman says, “Zaheer is made for the movies. He is a fantastic actor and a born star.”

The film’s producers are tremendously confident of the young actor. “Zaheer has an incredible presence in front of the camera,” promises Murad Khetani. “Zaheer’s greatest asset is his honesty towards the craft,” adds Ashwin Varde.

The film’s director Nitin Kakkar is excited about the journey ahead. “Zaheer’s level of commitment towards his work is great. He will go a very long way,” he says.

With such a beginning and the blessings of Salman Khan, Zaheer’s journey into Bollywood has already started on a smashing note.

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Shatrughan Sinha: “Situation Changes, Location Remains The Same”

Subhash K . Jha

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Shatrughan-Sinha

 The  irrepressible Shatrughan Sinha  may have lost the BJP seat in Patna to  Ravi Shankar Prasad.

 But is he sulking  about it  ? Far from  it!.

Sinha says  the move was  long due, “The  only reason why I stayed  on  at  the BJP in spite  of repeated snubs is because  of my loyalty. I had vowed I’d not move until I was told to. The  time to make  the  move is now.”

And Shatruji  says he’s very happy  to  go. “Or perhaps, ‘go’ is not the  right  word. The  situation may change.  The  BJP is fielding a dear  friend of mine Ravi Shankar Prasad in my place  from my constituency. Buy I will be contesting elections  from my constituency only. Thanks to the  love and support of  the Bihar junta for  years, I’ve  always emerged victorious  from  there.Now we will know whom the  public voted the  Party or me. By the  grace of God I will win again  from Patna. You can take  away my seat. But you can’t take away the  love  of my people  from me. Having said that  I must say, I have no ill-will  towards Ravi Shankar Prasad. He  is an old friend.And I wish him all  the best. May  the best man win.”

While bidding adieu to  the  Bhartiya Janata Party, Shatruji lets  out how he has suffered in silence as  the part  high-command  disrespected  the senior leaders  of  the party. “Look at  how they behaved with the very respected Mr Yashwant Sinha.Virtually pushed him out  of  the party. And now L K  Advaniji who was sidelined  for years has retired from elections at  the same time when I’ve finally moved  out of the BJP. The Party could have shown some grace towards the great leader by offering a  ticket  for  his electoral constituency  to Advaniji’s daughter Pratibha  or  sonJayant.But of course that’s too much to expect.”
At the moment Shatruji refuses  to divulge the political party he is  joining.But whispers  suggest he’s  been chosen  by the Congress I.  “Let the heat and dust settle down. In  a few days you will know. At  the moment I want  to thank all  the  leaders  of the opposition  Mamta Bannerjee, ArvindKejriwal  and  my family friend Laloo Yadav for standing by me.”

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Raazi, Badhaai Ho Walk Away With The Lion’s Share

Subhash K . Jha

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The Filmfare awards held on Saturday night threw forward some surprises. Neena Gupta and Surekha Sikri both above 50, walked away with the Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress awards, respectively, for Badhaai Ho.

Alia Bhatt beat the other favourite Deepika Padukone to the Best Actress award in the popular section.Richly deserved , except for the fact that both Raazi and Badhaai Ho are produced by Junglee Pictures a production company owned by the Times Of India group which does the Filmfare awards.

Love yourself, is a good ideology to follow.

This spot of selfcongratulation may seem a little odd to those who believe in free and fair recognitions. But nonetheless both Raazi and Badhaai Ho are richly deserving of their awards.

With Meghna Gulzar walking away with the Best Director award for Raazi, girl power seemed amply represented with artistes from every generation Surekha Sikri(70+), Neena Gupta(60 +), Megha Gulzar(40+) and Alia Bhatt(20 +) walking home victoriously…

Slow applause.

Surprisingly Meghna’s Raazi took not only the Best Director but also the Best Film leaving the Padmaavat team fuming .

Ranbir Kapoor and Alia Bhatt struck a TRP-swooping pose on stage as they clutched the Best Actor(Sanju) and Best Actress(Raazi) trophy, incidentally both real-life characters.Alia confessed she loved Ranbir.

Surely the mother of all sponsored moments.

As for the awards on the whole, they stuck the right chord ,largely honoring merit rather than the TRPs.

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T Series Prepones Paagalpanti, Postpones Taanaji

Subhash K . Jha

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Anil Kapoor before Ajay Devgan . Or so it seems as far as the Indian boxoffice is concerned. The mad rush to catch a relatively uncrowded Friday has reached a frenzy in the film industry.

Releases are being pulled out and re-scheduled at the eleventh hour.We now hear Anees Bazmi’s comedy Paagalpanti which was to release early next year, will now release on 22 November this year. while the grand historical Taanaji The Unsung Warrior slated for release in December has now been moved to January 10.

The reason for the shift is practical and commercial.

Says a well-placed source from T series(who are producers on both projects), “After Total Dhamaal a really crazy comedy featuring Anil Kapoor is just what audience needs to drive away its blues.T series knows it’s got a winning project on their hands.As for Taanaji the film is a huge historical with a staggering canvas. The special affects in the war scenes will take longer than the producers thought. Jaldi kya hai?(what’s the hurry?). Besides, Ajay Devgan already has two big releases this year: Total Dhamaal(which is already released and declared a superhit) and De De Pyar De(which opens in May 2019).”

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Kashmir Is Again A Favourite Of Our Filmmakers

Subhash K . Jha

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Is it a coincidence that three Hindi films within a month have been located in the troubled Valley, the paradise on earth,Jammu & Kashmir?

A few weeks ago Aijaz Khan’s Hamid which was about a little Kashmiri boy’s search for his missing father, was shot entirely in Kashmir.

This week director Nitin Kakkar’s Notebook takes us on a romantic excursion through Kashmir.Can’t say, never a Dal moment.

The week after Notebook we have Ashvin Kumar’s controversial No Fathers In Kashmir which again is filmed entirely in Kashmir.

While Hamid and No Fathers In Kashmir delve into the complex dynamics of militancy Notebook is a pure love story set in Kashmir, like Shakti Samanta’s Kashmir Ki Kali and Suraj Prakash’s Jab Jab Phool Khile.

Sun-dappled and rose-tinted Notebook gives out the feeling of zero strife and militancy in the Valley.

Alia Bhatt who shot in Kashmir for Meghna Gulzar’s Raazi says the Valley is truly paradise on earth. “It was a like a dream shooting there. There was absolutely no tension. I’d like to go back again, this time for a holiday.”

With Bollywood again looking towards Kashmir as ‘paradise on earth’ perhaps we can hope to see more films capturing Kashmir in all its beauteous glory rather than a place of dark desperate violence.

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Promoting Urdu, But No Javed Akhtar?

Subhash K . Jha

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Javed Akhtar

The decision  taken by  The National Council  For  The Promotion  Of Urdu Languages  to use Salman Khan,Shah  Rukh Khan and Katrina  Kaif to promote the  Urdu language has  triggered off a wave  of  outraged protest.

The  social media has  rightly ridiculed  the decision, pointing at Javed Akhtar among  the people most qualified  to promote the  language as he can both read and  write Urdu fluently(which  Shabana Azmi cannot).

When contacted Javed Saab  refrained from comment as this matter involves his former creative  partner Salim  Khan’s son Salman who  it must be  mentioned  can’t speak  or write  Urdu and pronounces  ‘Khan’ as ‘Caan’.Shah Rukh speaks Urdu  but cannot write it. Katrina  can’t speak two lines of Hindi at one go.

If you ask me this  is  the lowest  kind of  communal appeasement and  the worst  sort of  reflex action . Those who decided that these three stars(Salman,  Shah Rukh , Katrina) must promote Urdu just checked their  surnames  and their  box office ratings. The level of  presumption in the selection is alarming.

 Why should you  presume that Shah Rukh,Salman and Katrina  can even speak  or write Urdu  on the basis  of their  religion? You are presuming that every Muslim reads  and writes Urdu and that Urdu is restricted  to  Muslims only. But  a language is not about religion. It’s about region. Gulzar Saab  is not Muslim.  But he  can  read and  write Urdu fluently. Dharmendra  writes his  poetry in fluent Urdu. Manoj Kumar is also  fluent in Urdu. Why  shouldn’t these distinguished cinema personalities  be promoting Urdu?

It seems  like  nothing  but  a pathetic attempt to divide the  country  on  the basis  of language. 

It  happened  in Pakistan when they tried  to make everyone  speak in Urdu. But a large  chunk of the population chose  to speak Bangla .Rather than bow to  the uniform code of language  they fought for their freedom. And Bangladesh was born.If you  try to restrict Urdu to the Muslim community you are playing  the worst  kind of divisive politics.

Coming back to  Javed Akhtar, who  better  qualified than he  to promote  the Urdu language? He is secular in the  truest sense  of the word. He can write songs in  virile  Urdu as well in  fluent Hindi. This  is  the same poet par excellence who  wrote the  Holi song  Radha kaise na jale in  pur Braj bhasha and  the  Urdu ghazal  Shahr Ke Dukan-Daro Karobar-E-Ulfat Men Suud Kya Ziyan Kya Hai Tum Na Jaan Paoge without ever  letting the language come  in  the way of his thought  process.

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After New Zealand Would Hotel Mumbai Be Banned In India As Well?

Subhash K . Jha

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After  the horrific  attack on  a mosque  in  New Zealand  the  NZ government has  banned  the  theatrical  screening  of  Anthony Maras’  Hotel Mumbai, the deeply  disturbing haunting and finally rewarding butdamnifying  movie about the 26/11  attacks on  the  Taj Hotel in Mumbai which left 164 dead and many more scared and scarred for life.

Now the  film is all set to release  in India  on March 29.

Hotel  Mumbai  is  a relevant  film. But it’s also dangerous to show Muslims as radicalized  terrorists. The  prime minister of  New Zealand realized what kind of global chaos  inverted extremism can lead to. What  if the white population  of  the world takes up  arms against Muslims  across  the world?  This is a new  danger that has now permeated  into the  global scourge  of  terrorism.

In Bollywood historical films  like Padmaavat and Kesari show Muslims as red-eyed fanatics plundering looting and killing with sadistic glee.  This may  not be  the  best method to portray extremism in the context of  the lurking danger  of  white radicalization.

 The very popular  Armie Hammer  who plays a white American married to Muslim woman(Iranian  actressNazneen Bonaidi) has gone to  great lengths in his  promotional  interviews  to separate the Muslim  population  from radicalized Muslims. The film’s Iranian  leading lady has also repeatedly asserted that she would  never part of any film that insults  the Muslim  community.

But then  the reality  of the Muslim population’s  relationship with the  Great White World  has been  thoroughly  exposed  in the NZ shooting. The NZ prime minister has  banned the  playing of  the video that the NZ attacker  recorded while shooting his  victims. The possession  of, and even  the playing of  the live recording of  the NZ massacre is  illegal in the  country.

Hotel Mumbai  uses   the  tape transcripts  of conversations  of the terrorists and their family and their  masters. Should that be allowed? Should  the  Indian  censor board step in and  clean   out  the film, ensure that Muslims are  not seen as the enemy  and  that there  is  a line dividing  Muslims  from extremists which most Muslims  never dream  of crossing.

Anupam Kher  who plays  the pivotal role  of  the  Taj chef Hemant Oberoi feels Hotel Mumbai has nothing to send  out wrong signals  about the Muslim population. “It is  about a  situation and an incident that is  not forgotten the worldover. No one blamed any community or section of civilians  for what happened  on 26/11. I don’t think that has changed.”

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The Narendra Modi Bio-pic Trailer Mercilessly Trolled

SKJ News Bureau

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The  much-vaunted Narendra  Modi bio-pic PM Narendra Modi  has become the brunt of  the biggest troll  torrent in recent times. Blat

ant  attempts  to  project  the  Prime Minister as seen  in the trailer,as  the messiah  of  the downtrodden have thetwitterati in splits, so much so that prominent sections from  within the  BJP are worried  if this film will actually serve the purpose of winning Prime Minister Modi or just driving potential voters away.

Says a BJP loyalist,  “Let’s  not judge the  film before it is released. But yes, the trailer is   not what we  expected it to be.The presentation  could be more classy.”

What  about the historical facts such as  the  2002  Gujarat riots  which seen to have been swept  clean out of view ?

“It is not a  whitewash  job sanctioned by  the  prime  minister,  we can tell you that. Not is it a propaganda  film funded by the  BJP.We  didn’t ask  for this film to be made,” says a  well-placed  source who feels the  PM may just distance  himself  completely  from the  bio-pic….

“If  the heckling  continues  PM Modi would not associate himself with this film,” says  a party representative.

 Curiously  Vivek Oberoi’s father Suresh Oberoi is mentioned  in the credits of  the  trailer  as one  of  the  film’s producers. Omung Kumar  who directs this  bio-pic is no stranger to the genre having made films on Mary Komand Sarbjit Singh in  the past. Apparently this time Omung was  given a blueprint on how to process the bio-pic in a particular  mood .

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Embarrassment For The Prime Minister Via Bio-pic

SKJ News Bureau

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The  Narendra Modi  bio-pic directed by Omung Kumar  is proving to be  a source of huge embarrassment for the Modi government. Not  only has the trailer been terribly trolled  it now appears  that the  film’s producers are adding on names of  heavyweight  artistes in the film’s  credit titles , artistes who have nothing  to  do with the project.

 First it was  Javed Akhtar  who  called out  the fraudulence  in  the  film’s  publicity and posters where his name was mentioned as  one of  the lyricists.To  the  utter embarrassment  of  the film’s team Javed  Akhtar tweeted his protest saying he had  nothing to do with the  bio-pic.

Another well-known lyricist Sameer whose name was also  in the credits has come forward  to state he was  no part  of  the  project.

One now hears that Prasoon Joshi whose  name is also in the credits of the trailer   has not written any lyrics for  the bio-pic, though he  is not coming  out with a denial  due to his closeness to the Prime Minister.

 Sources  close  to  the  BJP state  that  the  Prime Minister’s office intends  to distance  itself from this unauthorized  bio-pic.

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Delhi Crime Is Chilling In Its Atmospheric Pressure

Subhash K . Jha

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Delhi Crime(Netflix series)

Starring Shefali Shah,  Rasika Duggal

Directed  by Ritchie Mehta

Rating: *** ½(3 and a half stars)

It isn’t easy being on the  right side  of  the  law when all you get  for your efforts is  brickbats  and  insults  from fencesitters.

To say that this disturbing but finally redundant  real-life crime drama  whitewashes the khaki uniform  would be  frivolous  and  irresponsible  to the extreme. What it does do is to humanize the police force by showing a cluster of fiercely committed  police persons(the two  main Khaki persona in  the story are women) driving themselves over the edge to nap the perpetrators  of the crime.

Did  the  cops on the case really show this level of commitment?  Does  it matter? Heroism  on  a level where  it  heals society is unquestionable.

Recreating in vivid vicious  colours  the  events  before during and after  the life-changing ‘Nirbhaya’ gangrape in Delhi, this 7-part series spares  us the  brutality  of watching the rape but protects  from none of the trauma  and horrific aftermath  of  a crime that shook the conscience of the nation.

As  we hear  our  drama’s hero Vartika Chaturvedi say, this crime was different, the savagery  was  unprecedented.She got it right.

I will  never forget the  sequence where the ravaged  girl is rolled into the  hospital bloodied brutalized  beyond all  human explanation, in pain beyond all endurance she tells her father, “I will be fine.”

We do  that  all the time. We keep saying things will be fine when we  know  they will only get worse.

Director  Richie Mehta  negotiates with  powerful hands the many  hurdles that a crime investigation so complex must  face. This is  a very professionally handled  crime drama, superior to some of  the real-life crime dramas on television ( some of which are  not bad at all) mainly for  the level of  performance  director Mehta gets  out  of  the cast speciallyShefali Shah. But it doesn’t achieve that  level of  emotional impact that  I expected  from the  product considering the fine talent that’s gone  into it.

 There are two reasons  why Delhi Crime stops short  of being a  masterpiece  on real-life crime. For one  it  holds back way too much of the angst  probably to appeal to a global audience. The attempt to subdue  the  sheer insanity of  the crime is admirable  but eventually a fatal error of judgment.

A  more immediate  crisis  of efficacy emerges from  the fact that Delhi Crime  resembles a  very recent Netflix film Soni which was in   every way  a superior work. The domestic disarray in the life of the female cops  and the  professional dynamics  between  two female officers in Soni is echoed here  in  the rapport that grows  between the two cops played by Shefali Shah and Rasika Dugal, both in fine  form imbuing  the  contours  of crime with  an implosive reined-in anger at a system that fosters  inequality and  brutality.

Shefali Shah is specially powerful.She  is compelling  because her anger internalized, palpable. She  not only anchors  the series  with her persuasive presence, she also diminishes  and decimates  the  rather disturbing feeling we get that this  sort of stark recreation of  India’s most well-known sex  crime serves no  purpose except to remind us that the change we hoped to see in  the  number   of  rapes in  our country never happened.

Nirbhaya lives, and dies, again.  Long live Nirbhaya.

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Ajay Devgan Goes From 17th Century to 1950s-60s

Subhash K . Jha

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Ajay Devgan is busy wrapping up his bio-pic on Maratha warrior Tanaji Malusare. Thereafter he goes straight into another bio-pic, on Syed Abdul Rahim who is known as the founding-father of football in India.

Devgan has been prepping for the Syed Abdul Rahim bio-pic even while completing his shooting as the 17th century Maratha warrior.

“In the Rahim bio-pic Ajay has to portray the character from 1952 to 1962. It’s a completely different era , mindspace and body language and Ajay Devgan has been quietly researching on Syed Abdul Rahim and honing his skills in the game of football although Ajay doesn’t have to play much football in the film. He is a coach not a football player,” says a source.

Interestingly Amitabh Bachchan too plays a real-life football coach in his next release Jhund. So are we looking at a prolonged phase of a national sport other than cricket getting its due in Indian cinema?

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