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Mr Church Is One Of The Finest  Films Of  The Year

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Mr Church

Starring Eddie Murphy, Britt Robertson

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Directed by Bruce Beresford

Having spent a lifetime and an evening together,at the end of this enormously heartwarming and fulfilling cinematic  experience Eddie Murphy   who plays the title role with spectacularly subtle skill,is told by the film’s young protagonist that she will now give him his privacy for the evening.

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“I don’t want my privacy,” replies Murphy,repudiating a lack of company in his final hour, his eyes pleading with the fear of impending mortality.

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It’s moment that defines the relationship between cinema and the audience, the dread we feel when a masterpiece nears its completion.

Death  plays a very important part in Bruce Beresford latest grossly underrated film about friendship between unlikely people in  a culturally dynamic society.When Henry Church (Eddie Murphy)enters Charlie’s home,she is a small inquisitive girl whose mother is dying of cancer. Charlie doesn’t know it, though. The sudden appearance of  a tall black stranger in the house triggers off waves of hostility suspicion and aggression in little Charlie who at first refuses to experience Mr Church’s  culinary skills and then refuses to let him know she loves the food.

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From the start this deeply moving film pulls you gently into the  tender dynamics of domesticity and how an extraneous presence brings in its wake  a lifetime of changes, all for the better, Beresford’s elegiac film based on Susan McMartin’s first-person account, is the cinematic equivalent of pale yellow leaves dropping off a huge magnificent tree during autumn.

Sometimes in life, death is  a beginning and a renewal . Mr Church reinforces the exquisite  truisms of life without getting preachy, shrill or self righteous in tone.It is melancholic and meditative  but never cumbersome or depressing for the audience.Though it is an extremely  virtuous film, almost to the point of blanking out all negativity, this is a film that never allows us to forget how close lives are to catastrophe even as it offers the comfort of a warm cosy family life where a mysterious and multi-faceted black man shares a cosy roof with a white American girl and her little daughter.

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Idyllic scenes of shared meals in the kitchen and laughter in the living room mingles with  the disturbing ring-tone of tragic forebodings that are never far away from the films’s gleaming spotless surface.Director Bruce Beresford is no stranger to cross-cultural dynamics. In his most well-known work Driving Miss Daisy a black chauffeur(Morgan Freeman) taught lessons of life to his upper-class white employee(Jessica Tandy).

In  Mr Church the colour of Eddie Murphy’s skin is never brought up.Remarks on  race are remarkably dodged and dismissed. It is as though the world inhabited by the film’s arcadian characters does not accept the preponderance of discrimination and segregation. Seldom in today’s cinema do we see a world so denuded  of darkness.

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The surprise is not that Besreford’s film paints the remotest  corner of his canvas  with sunshine. The real surprise is how skillfully and fluently Eddie Murphy has gone from his roguish cheesy roles in his youth to playing a man who is erudite, literate,wise sensitive and humane, all of this without losing that twinkle in the eye.

Britt Robertson and little Natalie Coughlin who play Charlie are also dazzling in their deep kinship to the mission of walking on sunshine. And Natascha McElhone as Charelie’s  dying mother reminded of Meryl Streep’s tragic grandeur in Sophie’s Choice.

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There are moment of sublimity and splendor dotting the shimmering skyline of this miniature masterpiece. During a year when big-screen spectacles have invaded the cinematic space Mr Church shows us how Billy Wilder’s style of humanistic cinema can still overpower Quentin Tarantino’s violent cynicism.

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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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Undekhi A Dark Compelling  Thriller Set In The Heartland

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Undekhi A Dark Compelling  Thriller Set In The Heartland 4

Undekhi  the  forthcoming webseries  from Applause Entertainment  and Sony LIV which  starts  streaming from July 10,   looks  like  the  kind  of   thriller  that  won’t let  us rest  easy until we see  the last episode. It is mounted  with  a  stress on growing pressure.

One  promo shows  a rotund  cop investigating  a gruesome  murder  in  a dense tribal area.The other promo  shows a politician gunning  down a dancer on stage  in front of  the public and  the  press.

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Wild  West  comes to the North. Undekhi is a thriller set in Manali, Himachal created for Applause by Siddharth Sengupta. It’s a gripping story that sees Harsh Chhaya making an  impressive comeback as a drunk Papaji in a super-rich amoral Punjabi  family. And Surya Sharma (Prince from Hostages) really shines as Rinku ,  the main bad guy and Papaji’s nephew. It’s got a terrific cast of other characters, many of whom we  all  recognize as names .

The talented  Harsh Chhaya  makes a debut of sorts  on the  digital medium  with Undekhi.

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Says Harsh, “I  have never played anything so wild and mad. I am looking forward to Undekhi, hope it works for the audience too.This is a debut in a sense that this is the first one I shot for the OTT  platform.But the other two I shot for after this was  streamed   before this one Out Of Love and  Rangbaaz, Phir Se.

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