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Loev Is Not A Gay Film, It’s  An Unforgettable Love Story

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Starring: Shiv Pandit, Dhruv Ganesh, Siddharth Menon

Written & Directed by: Sudhanshu Saria

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Quite often in this luscious and luminous love story as I journeyed with Jai and Sahilthrough a rocky terrain on a pilgrimage of passion and heartbreak that reminded me of AngLee’s Brokeback Mountain, I forgot the gender of the two protagonists.

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This, I soon gathered, is why this striking study of repression, guilt, passion and self-articulation has been rejected at many LGPT film festivals as being  not “gay” enough.

Thank God, at least one filmmaker has shown  himself to be courageous enough to stand up and say, “Hey guys, it doesn’t matter if the lovers are both of the same sex. What matters is the love, not the sex.”

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Loev is a tender yet brutal , slender yet sturdy  road film strewn with clues to the heartbreak that eventually awaits those who dare not love  beyond  the prescribed boundaries.Writer-director Sudhanshu Saria doesn’t waste time in constructing back –stories  or deconstructing the  complex relationship of his two characters to make their passion more accessible to us.

The narrative unfolds with a disquieting naturalness. The flow of emotions is never outsourced. It is insinuated organically into every scene, so that we are never required to stare with stupefaction or, God forbid, embarrassment  at the same-gender relationship.

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Nature in all its rocky-mountain glory , stands a silent  witness .We may be awed by the visual majesty. Nature is never in awe of  itself. The influence of Ang Lee’s BrokebackMountain , specially in the way the rocky terrain is used to define the theme of forbidden love , is palpable .Saria uses the rugged outdoors of Mahableshwar to spotlight the repressed emotions. The aerial shot show deep ravines and chasms in the rocky mountains.Significantly Sahil jumps effortlessly over them. Jai stops.

The intimate  moments never creep up on the two men apologetically. When they  kiss, boy, they really kiss. Passion is never unwelcome in the film, even in one sequence, it turns unbearably ugly. In one sequence Shiv Pandit is required to hold his co-star the late and mourned Druv Ganesh  in what is a theme-defying moment  of tenderness and lust.It is a moment of epic sadness and comfort.

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There is a disarming lack of artifice and ostentation in the way the two protagonists’ characters are written and played.And thank God, Saria found the perfect actors to play the two parts. Shiv Pandit, one of our most underused young actors whom ‘Bollywood ’ hasn’t been able to slot(quite like this film which mercifully doesn’t look towards “Bollywood ” for approval) as the Manhattan’s desi hotshot on a weekend in Mahabaleshwar with a charming young uncloseted gay man, is unassuming and credible .Dhruv Ganesh’s eloquent eyes and effortless body-language are unforgettable.

The two protagonists evidently have a shared history which comes undone in  unexpected ways as the film unfolds.

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Charming,disturbing and sometimes haunting Loev is that same-sex love story that finally defines homosexuality on screen without resorting to titillating tropes and semi-apologetic back stories. Nor is there any self-congratulations in the way Pandit and Ganesh play the two main parts. They are friends and possibly lovers, full-blooded and restless, impelled  by a sense of reckless yet reined-in self-exploration. The two actors look exceptionally comfortable together projecting their characters’  uncomfortable predicament with persuasion and integrity. There is a third actor Siddharth Menon who plays Alex, a bit of an attention-seeker in a film where tranqullity is preferred over ostentation.

There is  a provocative ambivalence to their relationship.And a key rape sequence(echoing Heath Ledger’s assault of the half-heartedly protesting Jake Gyllenhaal in BrokebackMountain)  raises some very disturbing questions on consent, passion and guilt.Shiv Panditand Dhruv Ganesh have surrendered to their roles with a lack of bravado that this film constantly demands from its  actors.The fact that Dhruv passed away soon after shooting the film gives to the on-screen theme of incomplete passion an added layer of unfulfilment and longing.

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We cineastes are always searching probing and looking for relevances that perhaps do not always exist in the cinematic experience. Here is a film that tells us, it’s okay to look beyond the obvious because that’s what the characters are doing all the time.

This film not only re-defines love and passion in the context of the Indian reality, it is  a  new beginning for cinema on unconstitutional love in India.

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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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