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Suresh Triveni: ‘I like watching the genre where Jalsa lies’

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Suresh Triveni’s directorial  acumen  was  first  spotlighted  in Tumhari Sulu  about  a working housewife  who crosses the fence. Jalsa his second directorial effort has made a much stronger  impact. Suresh takes  time   off to  answer Subhash K Jha’s questions.

The world of Jalsa is far removed from the world of Tumhari Sulu? How did you arrive from the grin to grim so fluently?

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I enjoyed making Tumhari Sulu. It was just that  sunshine feel all through while making it. After the success of Tumhari Sulu I kind of became  a bit lost in the film. I became  aware of what people will think of me and what they think of my work.

How  did you avoid that ruinous self-awareness?

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 I decided to undo myself and I thought to reboot because when you get aware of your craft it’s the worst phase you can get into,  and hence the time I took, 5 years,  to arrive at something else. Apart from that, it was not a much  of  a choice  moving into a grim world. I am more of a viewer than a director, so I like watching happy films like Tumhari Sulu and I like watching the genre where Jalsa lies. I Like watching action, I like watching comedy. So when you like something you want to make it. So, that’s how I arrived at it because this genre was something I was very very keen on. Luckily it fell into place because of a  one-line story that  came into my head ,

Jalsa is about many things including media ethics and class difference. Neither of the issues reaches a satisfying conclusion in your film. Are these issues so tangled that you chose to leave them unresolved?

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 I have taken an observer’s perspective on this. And I was very conscious that I  was  not going to pass any judgment, that  I won’t go  into to resolving things. So it was a very conscious decision that I didn’t want to give any conclusive opinion on anything, I wanted it to be open. Because for me my job is to tell a story. My politics or my worldview should not come into my work, it is not important. What is important is my take on it. It’s purely an observer perspective and hence I felt that my characters should come  to a certain closure , that doesn’t mean that the world they live in has to have a certain closing.

Vidya Balan, I suppose, was a given in the cast. Was she your first choice for Maya Menon? How did Shefali Shah happen?

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Vidya and I were constantly chatting post Tumhari Sulu and  I took a writing break for some time. But after Tumhari Sulu I, of course, wanted to go back to her   because it was a treat working with her and I wanted more of it because of the kind of stature she has, that she can elevate any script, so Vidya was the given and obvious choice for me .Regarding Shefali Shah, who wouldn’t want to work with her? I mean, of late  the way she was nailing roles after roles. It was basically my  greed that  gravitated me towards her  because I am also an audience and I have seen her work for such a long time. As a filmmaker ,you want to write for her, you want to have the pride of directing her. It’s actually the pride, the fact that after a gap of  five years if I am doing something it should be worth my experience and everyone else’s. So that is how the decision of these two actors came in.

I am also very fascinated by the casting of Rohini Hattangadiji and Vidhatri Bandi? How did you convince the former and where did you find the latter?

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After I cast Vidya and Shefali, the project got the green light. The usual process of casting started. So, I have to go back to the same fact that I am more of an audience than a filmmaker .So I imagined   and then I got  greedy about what if I get Rohini Hattangady also in this project… if she comes organically and of course, there was a role that was waiting for her. I loved her in Saaransh. I have grown up on those films. I have grown up on Saaransh and I have grown up on Chaalbaaz, Gandhi of course. As a filmmaker, you are constantly imagining what if these three  actresses  came together, what about a scene like that, how about a confrontation, how about doing something  with  this  terrific trio?  Jalsa  allowed that possibility hence we approached Rohini Hattangady and she was gracious enough  to accept it .And   what an experience I had shooting with her!

 Regarding Vidhatri Bandi?

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 I would say we did a lot of auditions. I wanted a journalist who breaks the certain stereotypes of being over-confident, having an opinion. I wanted someone who is low on confidence, someone who is new to this city, who is coming to terms with Bombay and trying to fit in, in this world. So, because I am a Malayali also, the choice came very naturally to me saying what if I get someone from Kerala, what if the Rohini George , the character comes from Kerala?And that’s how the process started.We auditioned a lot of people from the south and it was  all  good.But there was something about Vidhatri Bandi .When I saw her audition I knew that she is brilliant and then she worked on her accent, she is not a Malayali, she has been born and bought up in Bombay and the only South Indian connection that she has is that she is from Andhra Pradesh. But she worked really hard. There is a certain livewire effect about her on-screen and especially she speaks to the camera. So she fitted in beautifully and I think she prepped for it like no one else. I am very happy that we could discover someone like Vidhatri Bandi through Jalsa.

 The dynamics of characterization display a duality, for example, Vidya and Shefali, their respective sons are also pitched against one another, as are Vidya and Vidhatri. Do you see the Indian class structure as a world divided by invisible walls?

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 You write stories about the world you live in, Sometimes you are not aware when you are putting these worlds together, these characters together, I think we are constantly ruminating on our experiences and our observations because the day I try to write a film with these agendas in mind then I think I will be a fake. I will be someone who would be writing for the sake of looking intelligent and sounding intelligent. I am glad that people are observing those nuances .But it was not  a conscious effort that I would go thinking so deep. So thank you for your observation and I really appreciate it but for me, it’s about mostly ruminating on my own experiences and observations and putting it out there.

Is Jalsa based on a true incident? What triggered off this cinematic journey ?

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 I wouldn’t say one or two incidents but I was being fascinated with the idea that… what if? So it started with a hit-and-run idea and I wanted to understand the psyche of a person who runs away and the fear that looms large.It was another idea initially altogether , then it took its own shape. I think these are the borrowed incidents, be it the cop story, be it the negotiations, the hit and run, I think they are the inspiration you get  from all that you read, all that you listen to and the story is lying out there. I think I would say it was an amalgamation of a lot of real events with a binding force called coincidence.

 How difficult was it directing all these fiery temperamental women? Did they gang up against you on the sets?

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I have got no hairs left on my head but that has got nothing to do with Jalsa. I love working with my actors. I feel that you can have the best production design, have the best cameraman, then have the best color pallet, everything, but if your actors are not good then it is of no point, I thrive on them, and I love exploring what I can get out of them. So yes , it’s demanding in a way because people have bigger expectations from them. I think while making a film the actors are the people who are extremely responsible about their time and the time you invest on the film.

Finally what are you planning to make next? Sulu hires Ruksana after Maya fires her?

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That’s really a very interesting idea though. Maybe I can bring this whole idea  together   but then I would need a double role . I don’t know how it goes… so we can have Sulu, Maya, Ruksana, that looks like a plan .But no,  nothing like that as of now. I am very keen to do an action film or I would like to do a comedy. I am on some idea that I am working along with Vikram Malhotra and Abundantia hopefully you will hear about it soon and hopefully shouldn’t be a 5-year gap.

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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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“Professionally, What  A Year It Has Been For Me,” Raveena Tandon On Her Padma Shri

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Raveena Tandon

Raveena Tandon  feels  she is in a dream. “I woke  up  today to the  news that  I have been awarded the Padma Shri by  my Government. I felt all my years  of hard work  has  finally come to  fruition.I can’t wait to get  back to Mumbai.”

Raveena  is  in Bhopal attending a  wedding.  “I woke  up  on Thursday morning to the good news. My husband(film distributor Anil Thadani) who is in Mumbai had no clue about it. I had to inform him that his wife is now Padma Sri Raveena,” she laughs heartily.

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She then grows  melancholic. “The past one year has been a whirlwind  for me. Professionally, it couldn’t get any better. My webseries Aranyak on Netflix  and  then the bigscreen  blockbuster KGF 2 where I played one of the protagonists , became huge  successes.Sadly,it  was  also the year that  I lost my father(well-known producer-director Ravi Tandon). It was  the severest blow of my life.I am still processing the loss. The Padma Shri would have made  my Dad so proud.”

Remind her  she is  still young and already a Padma winner and Raveena expresses  her  happiness. “I guess I am lucky to have received the honour at the  midpoint of my life and career. I am also very happy that M M  Keeravani Sir has  also received the Padma Shri.His Naatu naatu has  the  world dancing to his tune. But even  before Naatu naatu he has done such exemplary work.”

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Getting nostalgic Raveena  says, “I started working when I was 17.I have done every kind of  cinema, balancing out a Chote Miyan  Bade Miya  with  a Shool, a Rakshak with a  Ghulam-e-Mustafa,  a Bulundi and a Khauff with a Daman and an Aks. It’s  always been  my endeavour to be be seen in escapism and  real cinema. Some people think dancing around trees  and  doing the masala  stuff is easy.  It is  not!  In fact  being real on screen is far easier.”

Raveena feels the  good days  are  back in the entertainment  industry. “I saw Pathaan and  I whistled  and clapped the loudest. It is  an out-and-out mass entertainer and bound to revive the  sagging fortunes  of  our industry.  While the Padma Shri is a personal triumph,  the success of Pathaan  is  a happy occasion for the entire industry.So yeah, I am on top of  the world,”

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Raveena’s fans  would like to know her khubsoorati  ka raaz.

She  laughs, “It’s nothing more than sleeping and eating right. I  try to eat  correctly. I have only  organic  food. More  importantly,I am happy and secure in life. If you are content within it is  bound show on your face.”

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