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Mohit Marwah: Tigmanshu’s reference to me was – imagine that you are Shashi Kapoor!

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The actor talks about his latest release Raag Desh which released today and why he loved doing it

Mohit Marwah’s Raag Desh directed by Tigmanshu Dhulia releases today. Ironically, today also sees the release of his cousin brother Arjun Kapoor and uncle Anil Kapoor’s film Mubarakan. Mohit is the maternal grandson of film producer Surinder Kapoor (Anil and Arjun’s father Boney are his children and Reena Marwah is his daughter) and cousin of Sonam and Rhea Kapoor. The two films are diametrically apart – while one is a comedy entertainer, Mohit’s Raag Desh is based on the Indian National Army trials – the joint court martial of Indian National Army officers Colonel Prem Sehgal, Colonel Gurbaksh Singh Dhillon, Major Shah Nawaz Khan played by Mohit, Amit Sadh and Kunal Kapoor.

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Over to Mohit on the film and why it’s so special for him…

Mohit Marwah: Tigmanshu’s reference to me was – imagine that you are Shashi Kapoor! 16

For your second film you chose a period one based on the historic 1945 Indian National Army Red Fort Trials. Why?
Since I finished my first film I wanted to do a period film. Initially the roles that were being offered to me were very similar to what I had done in my first film so the roles didn’t excite me. I met Tigmanshu Dhulia after Paan Singh Tomar and told him I really wanted to work with him. It would be a great move for me to do my second or third movie with him as I would learn so much from him on the set that it would set me up for the years to come to improve my skills as an actor. The added advantage was when I got the story, script and heard the narration and I thought it would be such a cool thing to get into uniform and play this part and I didn’t know when I would get an opportunity to play a part like this.
Mohit Marwah: Tigmanshu’s reference to me was – imagine that you are Shashi Kapoor! 17

It’s a tough, gritty and challenging film where you often shot in real locales. Can you share some of your experiences?
What first excited me about my role was that it was not intense at all in the film but contradictory to the realism of the war background in the film. While the look of the film is gritty, grungy and real and very 1930s-40s time frame, my character is a very charming, smart, soft and sensitive guy who gets his way through his talking, has a love interest in the film and plays crossword so I thought to put a war hero like that into a gritty situation would make it cinematic experience.

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Mohit Marwah: Tigmanshu’s reference to me was – imagine that you are Shashi Kapoor! 18
Where did you shoot the war sequence?
The war sequences were shot in Dehra Dun and the villages around them. That’s where the colour, flavor and texture of the film are from. Tigmanshu’s reference to me was – imagine that you are Shashi Kapoor. Imagine him in a war film with gritty situations and that charm and softness so that excited me a lot.

Mohit Marwah: Tigmanshu’s reference to me was – imagine that you are Shashi Kapoor! 19

You play Colonel Prem Sehgal, who is filmmaker Shaad Ali’s maternal grandfather and member of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and President of the All India Democratic Women’s Association, Subhasini Ali’s father.
Yes. In fact we showed the film on Monday at the Rastrapati Bhavan and this was one of the last things that the last President the Honorable Pranab Mukherjee did before he handed over the office to the new President. It was a big thing for us. There were a lot of politicians, the Speaker and Vice President of the Rajya Sabha and we invited many of the family members of Colonel Prem Sehgal, Colonel Gurbaksh Singh Dhillon and Major Shah Nawaz Khan who are the principal characters in the film. My family and parents were also present. Subhasini Ali who is Shaad’s mother, Muzaffar Ali’s first wife and Colonel Prem Sehgal’s daughter, rushed as soon as the film got over and hugged me. It was such a heartening moment and just said it all because when she came in she asked everyone who was playing Colonel Prem Sehgal’s part. She gave us all the stamp of approval and that meant everything to me. She then told me, ‘Oh my father was more good-looking than you (laughs).’

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What was Shaad’s inputs for your character?
I met Shaad when our film started as he had come on the mahurat day. He gave me insight into my character and said look-wise his nana’s moustache was slimmer etc and gave me some pointers so I instantly went and changed before I gave my first shot. There was a huge round of applause in the theatre once the film got over and we were really happy that it had connected with the people. It’s that kind of story which gives us goose bumps and makes us emotional and yet be entertained and engaged because the real story has so much drama on its own.

Why?
It was as if the true story of the trials were written for the big screen. There’s romance, bromance, war, courtroom drama and so many aspects which come alive in this film. We didn’t have to add any masala because iske andar already bahut kuch tha! I am excited and every time I am not doing anything I feel a bit nervous but because we have been promoting continuously there hasn’t been much time. We went to the Jaisalmer border to meet the soldiers there.

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An all female combat regiment – Rani Jhansi Regiment, set up by Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose is shown in the film.
Yes and it was headed by Captain Lakshmi Sehgal who later on got married to Colonel Prem Sehgal so we have shown that as well. She was Shaad’s grandmother and Suhasini Ali’s mother. Initially they were dating so we have explored that part in the film and showed the romance of the 1930s-40s.

How did you go about your research for a period film like Raag Desh?
We had to do a lot of research because there was so much material available. When you don’t have material available you can create content but when you have it there, you have to go through it. There were some documentaries that I watched, including one, The Forgotten Army, made by Kabir Khan (1996) on the Indian National Army and his first project as a filmmaker. It traveled the path of the INA, coming from Burma and where it reached the Indian border. I read books and also read many stories online on Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose. Tigmanshu is a very spontaneous director and we had an ex Army Colonel who was there on the sets constantly and every minute of the shoot to make sure that the shoot looked as authentic as possible – from the uniform to our behavior.

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You have made it in Bollywood on your own despite belonging to a big filmi family. What would you like to say on the subject of nepotism?
Let everybody have their own take on it but I feel that yes, nepotism exists. Hanging around film people because you are from a film family, it does get you access to meet people and have a chat or even have the confidence to approach another filmmaker. But barring that I feel nepotism exists in every industry. In school when you know that your father is a businessman, you decide to follow his footsteps. Yeh toh har industry ke andar hota hai. If your father has done the hard work then the children will get some advantage. But it shouldn’t deter the outsiders. In Bollywood we have an equal ratio of successful people from within and outside. The love Indians and our country had for legacies is slowly disappearing and even if exists a little bit it will evaporate in the near future people are now here to focus on talent and what they want to see rather than what others want them to see. Audiences are very headstrong today and the love for legacies is slowly evaporating. There’s a place for everyone in every industry including Bollywood.

#Mohit is the maternal grandson of film producer Surinder Kapoor (Anil, Arjun’s father Boney and Sanjay are his sons while Reena Marwah is his daughter) 

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Rakesh Roshan: “Everything I  Know  About Acting & Direction, I Learnt From K Vishwanathji”

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Rakesh Roshan

The  mighty moviemaker K Vishwanath who  was to Telugu cinema what  Satyajit Ray  was  to Bengali cinema,  passed  away on February 2,leaving behind a luminous  legacy.

Acto-director Rakesh Roshan  who had  the  rare honour of working  in four projects  with  Vishwanath recalls him with tremendous respect. “Everything I know  about acting and  direction I learnt from  him. He was  a stalwart , an institution, and so passionate about his work. I had the privilege  of being directed  by him in two films Aurat Aurat Aurat  and Shubh Kamna. He would show  his actors  exactly what he  wanted, down to the minutest gesture.His  understanding  of the medium was  extraordinary.”

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Rakesh Roshan remembers how  he  invited Vishwanath to make films for him. “I produced  two films that Vishwanathji directed. One  was Kaamchor, the other was Jaag Utha  Insaan.While the  first was  a runaway success, the second didn’t do well.”

Speaking on how Kaamchor happened Rakesh recalls, “Vishwanathji and I used to meet socially in Hyderabad.We  wanted to work together. But we had  no script.One evening when we met he  looked very depressed. When I asked him what was wrong, he  said his new release Shubodayam  (in Telugu) had  flopped. That  night I went to see Shobodayam  in  a theatre in Hyderabad. The  next morning I  told Vishwanathji, ‘We’ve  found our script’. I told him where  the  storytelling in Shubhodayam  had gone wrong.We corrected the script and that’s how Kaamchor  happened. Although the entire story revolved  around me,  it was Jaya Prada who benefited  from Kaamchor.”

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About the beautiful  Jaag Utha Insaan , Rakesh Roshan admits  bluntly, “It  flopped because  of miscasting. During those days Sridevi was known  in Hindi cinema as a glamorous heroine. We cast her as classical dancer. Mithun Chakraborty had  the image  of  Gun Master G-9 and  Disco Dancer.We cast him as  a downtrodden  underdog. I was  known  for Kaamchor and  other citybred characters,I was cast as a Brahmin pandit.With other actors Jaag Utha  Insaan would have been a superhit”

Rakesh met K Vishwanath six years  ago. “We were shooting for Krissh in Hyderabad. He came on  the set several  times. We  had so much to say to each other. After that we lost contact. He was  very very busy with many projects. K Vishwanathji lived  for his cinema.”

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As His Latest Work Faraaz Releases Today,  Hansal Mehta Speaks To Subhash  K Jha On The Exciting Times Ahead

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Faraaz

Hansal, Faraaz is  your fifteenth directorial  venture. How does it feel to have come so far  with so many  milestones behind you?

don’t count my films. Genuinely. Every film is a new beginning. Every film has its share of uncertainty and nerves. Perhaps it is also because of the choices I make. There is no scope for either complacency or me carrying a false sense of security. I’m not complaining,though. Living life on the edge keeps me going.

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I  consider  Faraaz to be  a part of your great trilogy on  the dynamics  of terrorism, after  Shahid and  Omerta…where do you see Faraaz  positioned  in your creative ambit?

Thank you , Subhash.Faraaz is a film I’m very, very proud of. It was a challenge to pull off, a tough journey but creatively a very satisfying one. As Rajkummar Rao told me after watching the film , the Trilogy is complete now. Time to explore new stories and new characters. And finish post-production for all the exciting things that we shot for over the past eighteen months.

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Out of curiosity which of your films  have given you  the most creative  satisfaction?

Almost every film Shahid onwards has been immensely satisfying , both in terms of process and the outcome. Save a couple that I need not name. But even those I own for all their flaws, failures, deficiencies and redeeming qualities. But Faraaz has been a great process. I’ve made so many new friends in this journey and found some of the most exciting colleagues that I’m proud to introduce through the film. Writers Raghav Kakkar and Kashyap Kapoor (who co-wrote the film with Ritesh Shah), Cinematographer Pratham Mehta, Sound Designer Mandar Kulkarni, Editor Amitesh Mukherjee, co-producers Sahil, Maz and Sakshi – all of whom have given their blood and sweat to make this film happen. And of course Anubhav Sinha one of my oldest friends in the industry who backed me in telling this story just the way I wanted it. So yes, Faraaz has been satisfying and also filled me with a deep sense of gratitude. I must have done something right, no?

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Of course. Faraaz has a lot of young new actors in it. Tell me  about the  process  of  casting in this film? It couldn’t have been easy since there are dozens  of faces?

That was the challenge and the joy of making this film. I worked on the story during Chhalaang and I always knew that it would be a return to my indie roots for Faraaz. The film had to be made. And it needed fresh faces, bereft of image or trappings of stardom. A huge credit to Mukesh Chhabra who has a huge role to play in my filmography since Shahid. We constantly challenge each other and never ever give up. Casting is a process I really enjoy and finding the right talent to bring characters alive is something I thrive upon. Faraaz has an amazing ensemble. Right from Aditya Rawal , Zahan Kapoor, Juhi Babbar to every small character in the film including the officers, parents and the hostages this one is a triumph of honest casting , casting without an eye on profits, simply in service of the film, of the character.

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Faraaz is  about a terror attack in Bangladesh?how  do you respond to those who want to know, why Bangladesh?

In our research of this dastardly attack we realised that here was a story that had a larger message and something very universal to share. Misguided youth taking up violence in the name of religion or a parent’s love for her child or the unexpected bravery from an unlikely hero are themes that cannot be limited by borders, nationality or language. These stories must be told. They must transcend the limitations of perceived local relevance – particularly when our polarised times need such stories to be told to a larger audience.

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In 2020, your OTT series Scam 1992  proved to  b e game changer. Do you see Scam as a turning point  in your career?

I see Scam 1992 as an enabler. We did not expect its humongous success and to say it did not change things would be fake humility. It gave me back a lot of things I had lost in the years before it released. Including some money. And the courage to tell the stories I desperately wanted to. Also exceptional friends and collaborators like Sameer Nair and his Studio Applause.

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Your films  and your  attitude to cinema has always  been fearless. How  do you  cope with the  threat of growing intolerance in our society  vis a  vis your  convictions as a  filmmaker?

It is not new to me. Remember Dil Pe Mat Le Yaar in 2000? The only difference now is that then I was deeply affected by the intolerance to a point of self destruction. Now I channelise my despair and anger into telling relevant stories and through them taking on those who have made it a business to be intolerant.

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To Attend Siddharth-Kiara’s Destination Wedding, Karan Johar Preponed His Twins’s Birthday  Bash

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Siddharth-Kiara’s

For those  who are  wondering why Karan Johar hosted  the grand birthday party for his  twins Roohi and  Yash who will  turn 6 on 7 February,  six days in  advance  on 1  February  here is  why:  on the day of his twins’ birthday,  Karan  will be in Rajasthan attending the wedding celebrations of his dear friends  Siddharth Malhotra  and Kiara Advani who are  getting married on  February 6.

 Reveals   a friend close  to  Karan,  “Karan was in a dilemma. To him there is  nothing more important than his  children’s happiness.  How could he break their hearts by skipping  the most important day of their  lives? At the same time, how could he  not attend Siddharth and Kiara’s wedding ? They are  very close to him.”

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Karan did the best thing possible to resolve the situation:  he put the dilemma before his children Yash and Juhi who happily  agreed  to  have their party  a few days in advance so their ‘Dada’  could  attend  his friends’ wedding.

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The  Big Independence Day Clash To Be Averted?

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Animal and Sunny Deol’s  long-awaited Gadar 2

Sunny Deol, John Abraham  Ranbir  Kapoor  and the Covid Vaccine are all set to clash at the boxoffice this  Independence Day .

While the  Ranbir Kapoor starrer Animal and Sunny Deol’s  long-awaited Gadar sequel  are  both scheduled  for release  on August  11, John Abraham’s  Tariq  releases three days later on August 15.On the same day  Vivek(The Kashmir Files) also  releases  The Covid Vaccine.

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It looks  like  a crowded weekend, with one too many releases for audiences to  choose from.

Apparently  intense discussions are on among the  producers of the four  big films to see how the clutter can be  resolved.

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A  source close to the  development says, “Gadar 2 is the  right fit for the Independence Day weekend. But the producers of Animal  are in no mood to move  from August 13 . John  who is  a co-producer  on Tariq  and Vivek  Agnihotri with his Covid Vaccine  are also adamant  on coming on   August 15.The  Independence Day weekend is  a long  weekend. So let’s see…”

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