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Misssing Om Puri

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When Om , or Omji as I  insisted on calling him, came home with his friend and companion Seema Kapoor he was not feeling well.

Excessive smoking had killed his taste buds. He couldn’t savour any of the  food we served him for lunch. At the end of the two hours Om promised he would take better care of his health.

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He never did. Just recently he was in hospital with a cancer scare, and again he promised to stop smoking and  cut down on his drinking.

But unhappy people need an outlet, some kind of numbing comfort for their soul, even artistes as steeped in brilliance as Om.

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On hearing of his sudden death I relived Om’s most glorious performances. The implosive anger he projected in his best parts in Govind Nihalani’s Aakrosh ,Ardh Satya , Droh Kaal and Shyam Benegal’s Arohan, Susaman,was squandered  in the comedies he insisted on doing with Priyadarshan and David Dhawan.

With Om I could be as critical  as I wished about his work. He would never take my comments amiss.  Normally when actors ask for an honest opinion they don’t mean it. Om did. Each time  I would see him in some frightful corny kitschy cringe-worthy potboiler with his belly hanging down to his knees I would remind him he was the actor from My Son The Fanatic and The Mystic Masseur(the latter a loving delightful  adaptation of V S Naipaul’s novel   and one of Om’s unsung gems).

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He would remind me  of his financial responsibilities. “I’ve a  son. He needs careful nurturing.   I can’t  just sit back and relax. My colleague  Naseer’s  children  are grown up.  His   responsibilities are  over. And   besides  he  has  earned a   lot  more than me.  I’ve been paid peanuts  for my efforts. I was paid a mere 7 lakh rupees  for  playing one  of  the central characters  and working four months  non-stop  in  Raj Kumar Santoshi’s China Gate.  I’m sure Naseer  must’ve got   five  times more money  for  the same  film. Surely big filmmakers  like Santoshi Saab should  be  more cautious  of my worth. But I’ve  no complaints. I may return  to  theatre, or  do a  small but meaningful film that gives me  satisfaction as an  actor.”

Om was exhausted of hid own prolific output and deeply embittered by his professional and personal conflicts.

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In one  of our most recent conversations he said to me, “Enough  is  enough. I’ve slogged for  thirty years. I’ve accumulated a decent bank  balance though  it may  not  be decent by Bollywood  standards. I’ve  done roles for fun and for job satisfaction. Now I need to take it easy.  I keep turning   down offers. I need a break.”

The  break has come so suddenly and unexpectedly. Friends like Naseeruddin Shah and Shabana Azmi are in a state of shock. The two actors together with Om formed the titanic triumvirate of non-mainstream actors who changed the way we look at cinema. While Naseer and Shabana have  come to terms with their lack of fluency with commercial cinema, Om till the end remained torn between the two extremities represented by ShyamBenegal and David Dhawan.

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The meager remuneration   as compared with actors much less skilled who were stars, bothered Om.

“I am being used  like a potato in every dish—be it a comedy, thriller or a love story. The bloody bhindi costs Rs  60 per KG. But the price of potato remains unchanged. I have to make my family and I financially secure. To a large extent I’m already  on the way to doing that. If  today I decide to migrate to a small town , I don’t have to worry about my income. But  I want a little more from my career. I do have certain ideas for  films swimming in my head. Sometimes I feel being part of an escapist entertainer is just fine. At other times I feel like addressing myself to issues that bother me.”

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He was  an  restless unhappy man who couldn’t lie to himself, trying till the end to find a peaceful ground in his personal life. The rage that imploded  in his best performances often  manifested in  foot-in-the-mouth declarations on public platforms, like the  one recently about our soldiers . Om repeatedly got into trouble with his unthinking sound bytes. He  took the backlash on his chin like  a man. But he wasn’t prepared for this one final blow that date dealt his life on  Thursday  morning.

I will miss your gravelly voice on the phone as you  spoke out on your personal and professional lives. In  spite of my  cleaning up some of the Puri pronouncements when it was published invariably got the actor into trouble. But he never denied his quotes, never said he was misquoted. Om owned up to his mistakes. That’s what made his performances so authentic. He never lied to the camera.He never lied to himself.

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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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Pathaan Collects 55 crore nett in India On Day 1

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Pathaan

YRF’s Pathaan has apparently wiped out all previous records as it collected 55 crore nett in India and recorded the biggest ever Day 1 for a Hindi film. The total collections of Pathaan on Day One is 57 crore nett (Hindi – 55 crore and dubbed versions 2 crore).

It is the widest Hindi release of  all  time in India and also the highest grossing 1st Day for a   Hindi film.It is  also the  highest grosser  on the  first first for a  non-holiday release. Pathhan is  also the highest  opener for Shah Rukh Khan.

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Akshaye Widhani, CEO of Yash Raj Films, says, “It is a historic day for Indian cinema and we are humbled to see the love and appreciation that is flowing for Pathaan globally. For Pathaan to shatter records in this fashion on a non holiday, just proves that the theatrical business is here to stay, provided we make films that entice people to come to the cinemas to witness a never seen before experience that entertains them thoroughly.“

He adds, “We, at YRF, are thrilled with the start that the film has got across India and we are hopeful that Pathaan brings joy to cine-goers globally in the days to come! Pathaan is the fourth film of our YRF Spy Universe and we are thrilled that we have been able to elevate the cinematic experience of audiences with each film from this franchise. We humbly share this moment with all the stake-holders of the film who have given their blood, sweat and tears to give people a movie-going experience like never before.”

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