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Subhash K Jha Remembers Hrishida 

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I  think of that moment in Hrishida’s Aashirwaad when the old and dying Ashok Kumar stumbles into his estranged daughter’s wedding to bless her before kicking the bucket.
Only Hrishikesh Mukherjee could have written that sequence.
Anupam Kher tells a very interesting story about Hrishikesh Mukherjee. “We were shooting for his last film Jhoot Bole Kauva Kate . Hrishida’s legs had given way, and he’d sit and direct us.
I playfully asked him if all his parts had stopped working. ‘No, Anupam my most vital parts still work fine.’ Hrishida answered with a smile.” A very sober and refined filmmaker who has been closely associated with Hrishida tells another story about the prolific Mukherjee during his final days.
“I had gone there expecting him to be mournful and doom-laden. Instead Hrishida cracked one dirty joke after another for a full hour. Finally I got embarrassed and fled.” Hrishida loved a good laugh. You only have to see Gol Maal, Khubsoorat, Bawarchi or even the lesser known laughathons Buddha Mil Gaya , Naram Garam and Jhoothi to know how much this amazing man enjoyed the lighter side of life.
About his penchant for laughter Hrishida once told me, “To keep laughing is the most important thing in life. Our aim in life is to be happy. But we go wrong looking for happiness in transitory pleasures. You fall in love with a girl and pin your happiness on her. She dumps you. You produce a son and you place all your dreams in him. He leaves you. Happiness shouldn’t control your life. You should control happiness.” And yet this man who made such super -comedies also directed some of life’s most lingering moments of tragic pathos in Anuradha (the story of how a male ego thwarts a woman’s talents, inspired by Kishore Kumar’s marriage to his first wife Ruma) and later its quasi-remake Abhimaan, Anupama (about a man who hates his daughter after his wife dies in childbirth, the story was inspired by Hrishida’s uncle who became an alcoholic after his wife died during childbirth) , Satyakam (the director’s favourite work featuring his “favourite actor and humanbeing” Dharmendra) , Anand (based on Hrishida’s intense friendship with Raj Kapoor, featuring Amitabh Bachchan as Hrishida and Rajesh Khanna as Raj Kapoor).
Before he moved to the hospital two months before his death, Hrishida was completely bed-ridden for close to two years. The intermittent visitor apart , he lay there inert staring at the ceiling probably reliving all the golden moments from his cinema. But the spirit never flagged. My last conversation with Hrishida had him imploring me to visit him. “Beta, come and see me soon. I’m just counting my days now.” I never got around to paying Hrishida that visit.
My friend Sanjay Leela Bhansali (a huge Hrishida fan and highly influenced by his simple yet sensitive narrative patterns) and I kept planning a visit before it was too late. But now the man who created some of Hindi cinema’s most endearing and enduring mirror images of the middleclass is gone.
When I visited him some years ago Hrishida had moved into a high-rise in Bandra , just next to where his bungalow used to be. There he sat with his arthritis and memories, trying to cope with both. His living room had only one picture prominently at its center , that of Lata Mangeshkar. “People call her a reincarnation of Saraswati Mata. I call her Saraswati. Beta, do you know this is where Lata and I sat with composers like Sachin Dev Burman and Rahul Dev Burman and Salil Chowdhary to compose those gems in Abhimaan, Jurmana and Anand ?” He then revealed an unknown facet of Lataji’s personality. “
Beta, do you know she doesn’t charge a single paisa for any of the songs that she sings for me? She once made a mistake while singing one of my songs Ek baat kahoon for R.D. Burman in Gol Maal. I had my answer ready for people who asked why I allowed Lata to sing wrongly. ‘A wrong Lata is worth more than all the right singers in the industry.’ And then Hrishidaa laughed loudly. He loved his fun and games.
Simi Garewal recalls how he spent hours playing chess with her during Namak Haraam. “What an erudite and entertaining filmmaker. I learnt so much from him”. Hrishida loved all his actors. From Ashok Kumar who was a permanent fixture in a majority of his films, to Rajesh Khanna whom Hrishida affectionately called Pintu Baba, to Rekha(for whom he had a special Tamilian term of affection ) , Jaya. and Sharmila Tagore. Hrishida’s well-wishers wanted him to sign Nutan for Anupama. “How can Sharmila play the demure repressed character when she’s busy running around in a bikini in An Evening In Paris? But I knew she had the expressive eyes for it,” Hrishida told me. Jaya and Amitabh Bachchan were Hirishida’s favourite. AB went to Hrishida to say he was marrying Jaya. “I told Jaya I’ll be attending her marriage from my son Amitabh’s side.”
The filmmaker was very unhappy with the kind of work AB did the the 1980s. “Many directors reduced him to a stunt man. Some people thought I had blundered badly by making Amit sing classical songs in Alaap when he was holding guns and booze bottles.” Alaap was made during the Emergency. “It was a depressing film because I was very depressed. I thought it was the end of my life. I couldn’t believe Mrs. Gandhi had become such a dictator.” To snap out of the doomed mood Hrishida made the comedy Khubsoorat.
Explaining the hop and the skip from the grim directorial debut of Musafir to the grin mood in Biwi Aur Makaan, from the dark Majhli Didi and Satyakam to the frothy Guddi and Chupke Chupke , from the nifty Naram Garam to the elegiac Jurmana and Bemisal…Hrishida said, “I’m an agnostic.
I believe my conscience is my God. But having said that we’re all creatures of moods. At times you want to cry , at others times you want to laugh your head off. Critics ask me why I always have a death scene. I’ll tell you why. Death is the ultimate truth. Deven Varma once observed Sabse Bada Sukh (India’s first sex comedy!) was my only film where no one died. I told Deven he was wrong. It flopped so miserably that it killed the distributors.” Sobering down Hrishida lamented on the quality of present day cinema. “Everyone is stealing stories from laser discs. I confess I’m guilty of making potboilers like Do Dil and Asli Naqli. That’s because I had a unit and their family to maintain. I am aware my talent is severely restricted. I can never make a film like Satyajit Ray . I console myself with the thought that I’ve made decent films on family values which have touched people’s hearts. I’ve made films which have recovered their investments and fed my unit.” After his last film Jhooth Bole Kauva Kaate, Hrishida was planning to adapt a short story called The Dressing Table written by music composer Salil Chowdhary. What Hrishida loved about the story was its quaint old-world values. “It talks about the value of a letter at a time when people are sending e-mails to one another.”
Hey Hrishida, isn’t that exactly the sentiment of all your films? Are you listening? Or are you busy telling a dirty joke to someone up there?
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Shabana Azmi Breaks Her Wrist, Flies To  Budapest For Spielberg

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Shabana Azmi

Shabana Azmi’s commitment to  getting it right, no matter what it takes, is  by now beyond legendary. She  is known to go to extreme lengths for her  characters, the   quick-reference what-Shabana-can-do-for-a-role film being Shyam Benegal’s  Mandi where she had put on 30 kgs to look like  a  ‘Madame’ and  convey her message  in  a  brothel.

 Now , Shabana  flies to Budapest on the  night  of 8 February  in spite  of having broken her wrist.

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“What  to  do, I have to.I’ve to shoot another schedule  of my second season of  Halo(the series  produced by  Steven Spielberg) . There is no way I can postpone  it. I am very upset with myself. It  was such an  unnecessary accident. I was in Jindal . I took a jump and landed with a  fractured wrist, ”  says Shabana  angrily.

This is not  the first fracture that Shabana has suffered in recent times. Before  the wrist  that’s broken now, she  had broken the other wrist. And  prior to that she  had broken her shoulder.

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“I’m supposed to be  shooting till the 28th  of February. And  it’s all very tough physically rigorous  scenes. I don’t know  how I’m going to do it. I am  really annoyed  with  myself for  being careless.” Shabana sighed  before signing  off.

Knowing her the way I do,I can only say, nothing is impossible for Shabana Azmi.

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Shobita Dhulipala On Her Close Aquatic Connection To Her Character In The Night Manager

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Shobita Dhulipala

Sobhita Dhulipala has constantly tried to  make an  impression  with her intriguing performances and roles. In The Night Manager she  slips into the mysterious role of Kaveri.

Talking about her character, Sobhita Dhulipala says , “There’s a certain intrigue to Kaveri. On better days, you feel like you get a sense of who she is, but you could never be too sure of what she is.”

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   Being a  water  person  Sobhita  enjoyed her character’s aqueous antecedents, “There is a very visible parallel that’s drawn between Kaveri and water throughout the show.They both can be so gentle, so nourishing, but also very tumultuous and deep. Kaveri seems like that. She has this tenderness as well as a current within her.”

Sobhita comes from an aquatic  family and  feels  a deep affinity  to  water. “I have in the past been compared with water’s energy and I thought it was a tremendous compliment. So, to be able to give form to that feeling, that connection I feel with it..it’s great. My father is a sailor. And I spent many of my younger years at sea, also the home I grow up in was by the shore. I also love the name Kaveri and I always thought when I have my own child, I’d name him/her by a river! So, I think there’s, resonance, all of it really comes together for me.”

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The Romantics Adi Chopra’s Show All The Way

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The Romantics 

Netflix’s The Romantics profiling the legend Yash Chopra in four episodes , happened only because Netflix  gave complete creative control to  Yash Chopra’s son Aditya Chopra,  the scion of the Yash  Raj family.

A  source very close to  the project reveals, “If it wasn’t for Adi’s nod, the project  wouldn’t have happened. He not only greenlighted the project, he also personally supervised every aspect of the project. Smriti Mundhra is  on board as the director of The Romantics.  But it is  Adi who decided what  goes, and what  not.”

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Apparently  the  thirty-five interviewees speaking on  Yash Chopra in The  Romantics  were all  personally approved  by Adi Chopra who  also agreed to do his  first video interview ever for the docu-pic on his distinguished dad.

Adi Chopra’s one  and  only print interview was with  film critic/editor  Khalid Mohamed.

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The Romantics starts streaming on Netflix on Valentine’s Day  February 14.

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I’m very excited to be doing my OTT debut: Shahid Kapoor

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Shahid  Kapoor

As Shahid  Kapoor Gets Ready To Make  His Digital Debut, He Takes Time  Off  For A Q & A With  Subhash K Jha

Farzi is your first foray into the OTT space. How would you describe the experience? Is it any different from doing the films for the big screen?

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 I’m very excited to be doing my OTT debut, as everybody calls it. I think I did it because I love  the directors Raj and DK and their work, and I actually really really liked the idea and the concept behind Farzi, the world of counterfeiting . I felt Sunny was a character that was as challenging as some of my most challenging characters as I’ve done yet. So I immediately wanted to do it.

And was it any different  shooting for an OTT series?

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Of course, it’s different because you’re watching the character over five to six hours as opposed to maybe two to two and a half hours. So it’s a deeper, wider opportunity to bring a character to life, that’s it.

 Farzi gave you the opportunity to work with the great Vijay Sethupathi and also the creators Raj and DK. So what was that experience like?

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With Raj and DK, I’ve loved Family Man very much and we’ve met over time and always wanted to collaborate. So I was really looking forward to it. In fact, I asked them if they have a show because they were calling me for a movie because they didn’t really expect… they didn’t think after Kabir Singh,  I’d like to do something like that , or whatever. But I actually asked them for it and probed  for it, and then they actually told me about this concept which we had discussed as a movie earlier.

So why  was the feature   film converted  into a digital series?

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It was just too elaborate to turn into a movie, to fit into a movie. It was only extremely sensible of them to turn it into a show because it deserves that much screen time.

What  was it like working with Vijay Sethupathi?

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With Vijay sir, it’s been a pleasure. And I want to see how people receive the show. He’s a fantastic actor who has always rediscovered himself and given people completely different experiences when he has come on the big screen. So it’s a privilege to have him on the show. And I had a blast working with him.

Shahid, it’s been twenty years since you started as a leading man. How do you look back on your career so far?

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I feel very fortunate to still be here. And I feel grateful that people find my work relevant. I feel there’s a lot more that I would like to do. And I think I am as charged as I was at the age of 21, giving my first shot, as I am today. And I think that’s the best part of the entire journey, that I still am as excited and as curious to get on that film floor and give my next shot. I think that’s what drives any artist.

Tell me about your forthcoming projects?

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I’ve got Farzi coming out on  10 Feb. And then there’s a movie with Ali Abbas  Zafar, which is an action thriller, a  slick action fun film, which will come out in the middle of this year. And then there’s a high-concept quirky love story that I’m doing with Maddock Films, which is directed by a new director. His name is Amit Joshi. It has me and Kriti Sanon in it, and Dharam ji and Dimple ma’am and various other very talented people.

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