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Monica O My Darling , The Twisted  Tormented  World  Of Vasan Bala

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Monica, O My Darling(Netflix)

Directed  by  Vasan Bala

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 Rating: ****

Somewhere in the acquisitive  amoral  chaos of Vasan Bala’s twisted  kingdom, Rajkummar Rao and Huma Qureshi, playing two of the most  shamelessly self-serving jerks in  recent  cinematic history, are  down on the floor, wrestling  with an Usha Uthup pretender singing ‘Loving You So Much  I Want To Kill  You.’

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Yes, physically  wrestling, until one  of   them is  almost dead.

It is  a deliciously demonic  moment defining the gender-proof  nature of human greed. When you are so money-minded that your conscience  has  gone  for  a call of nature, then be prepared to battle it out man-to-man  , even if you are a  woman.

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Alas, such  delightfully  epiphanic moments are  hard to  come by in Vasant Bala’s first directorial  deep-dive since Mard Ko Dard Nahin  into the bowels  of eccentricity. Playing a  dude who doesn’t feel  any physical  pain no matter how  hard to blow Abhimanyu Dassani was at once wicked and  amiable in Mard Ko Dard….

Rajkummar Rao as Jayant  a small-town boy from Angola  working in a giant  robot-manufacturing  organization in Mumbai is much more wimpy,  partially demonic, partially  a victim of  fate…if Fate looks anything like  Huma Qureshi  who plays Monica  a crooked  femme fatale  a  squealer-dealer  in  pursuit of  big bucks via big  …never mind.

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Qureshi’s Monica  is  a delectably  subverted  femme fatale.An imposter Marilyn Monroe who lets  the skirt fly only when she  is  sure there are men looking.Somehow  I felt Ms Qureshi fell short  of  the character’s  brazen  avarice.Her cabaret  at the beginning  of the film again proves  after that limp item song in Gangubai  Kathiawadi that she better leave  the dancing to those  better  equipped.

 Her performance as a  woman who  empowers herself by   conning men is  tonally correct, but  unable to  scale the  summits of seductive salvation  it was written to. Radhika Apte as  a gritty sarcastic cop nails it. It’s  interesting to see  how the women in poor Jayant’s life bully him: Qureshi  at  first, then Apte and then  of course the bimbo esque  boss’ daughter played  with an arresting airheadedness  by Akansha  Ranjan Kapoor.

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Monica O My Darling has a sharp tangy taste to its  storytelling . But it  eventually gets tangled  in its own ambitions. It wants to be  dark sexy  voluptuous enigmatic  satire, but  lacks the wherewithal  to  leap over the  plotting hurdles that impede  the protagonist Jayant’s  progression from a harmless smalltown dreamer to a scheming rat.

Rao is  dependably  strong in his weak character. There are other extremely  powerful actors like  the underused Sikandar Kher, Sukant Goel and  Bagavathi Perumal . Two of these men are being  blackmailed by Monica. She is  clearly a threat , to herself. Ditto the  film. Monica O  My Darling wants  to give the conscience-free  female lead a  sense  of Huma.

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But she is  clearly not up to it.

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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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