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The Fame Game Will Leave  You Gasping For Breath

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The Fame Game(Netflix, 8 Episodes)

Starring Madhuri Dixit, Sanjay Kapoor, Manav Kaul, Rajshri  Deshpande

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Directed  by Bejoy Nambiar

Rating: *** ½

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 Rarely do all the components of  a webseries, creative  and otherwise, come together as  fluently   as they  do in The Fame  Game, earlier  title more appropriately as Finding Anamika. This  IS  a  series  about searching for the   superstar  Anamika Anand played by  superstar Madhuri Dixit, the last   of the  iconic Bollywood actresses who emerges from her cocoon  of self-exile with a  performance  suffused with  subtle  flourishes which tell  us why  she is Madhuri Dixit.

 Call her  by any  another  name, Anamika Anand will do. She  is  still that  consummate  superstar with that enigmatic smile which tells us everything and gives away nothing.

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The other star of this  intriguing often enchanting thriller is Sri Rao’s writing. Across the  8 episodes Rao leaves not a  single loose end for us to  mourn  and carp over . Nothing happens  here without reason. Least  of  all, Anamika’s disappearance at the  beginning of the show.

   As the  skeletons from the  cupboards of all those who  are ostensibly close to her come tumbling out in no  hurry  and  in undulating waves of tempered  revelation, the full picture of  the consummate  superstar’s persona comes together…or does it come  undone at the end?  We really can’t be sure. Because finally what we are left with is more questions  than answers. We really don’t know Anamika Anand any better  at the end than we  did at the beginning.

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Is that the show’s fatal failing  or  biggest triumph? Is that Madhuri Dixit or Anamika Anand? Iconic songs  like  Channe ke khet mein and Maar dala are referenced  to create a  deliberate  confusion  between the  superstar  we see  on screen and the one playing her.

This is  a very strong role for a female hero.Madhuri  Dixit does  full justice to it. She  merges the  public diva in the private persona of  the unhappy  wife(married to a jerk played  with conviction by Sanjay Kapoor) , and concerned mother  of two growing children who have their own very difficult issues as  celebrity  kids.

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Muskkan  Jafery and Lakshvir Saran are excellent as  Madhuri/Anamika’s troubled children Avi and Amyra. While one is wrestling with his sexuality the other is  trying to prove she is more than star kid.

The  are actually two strongly-etched  female  heroes in The Fame Game.While Madhuri’s Anamika Anand goes missing  the compelling Rajshri Deshpande steps in as  Shobha  Trivedi  the investigative  office. I wish  the writing had not gone  into the cop’s personal  life .The subplot  of  Shobha’s  love life is  reminiscent  of  ACP Khan’s closeted  crisis in  Ram Madhvani’s Aarya.

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Writer Siri Rao understand the pain behind the  sham of  the entertainment  business. He never judges his characters, no matter how deeply and fatally flawed  they might be. Even Madhav(played with chilling  deep-focus by Gagan Arora) , Anamika’s fanatical fan  who  claims she is his long-lost Aaai(mom), or Anamika’s self-serving  brash mother(Suhasini Mulay with a gorgeous collection of sarees)  , or Billy (Kashyap  Shingari) her faithful but slippery   hairdresser who finally turns   out  to be not so  trustworthy  after all, and  Manish Khanna(Manav Kaul), her  favourite costar and  long-standing love interest, are never  scrutinized  for their  spineless  action.

Things sometimes get really ugly  in  The Fame Game. At a  press conference  ‘superstar’Manish Khanna slaps  a reporter and  all  hell breaks loose. If this incident  reminds  you of a certain actress’s run-in with the  press, then hang on. This is  not the  series about film folk that cannibalizes  Page  3 gossip to titillate . Its motives in  digging out the grime behind the  glam  are far less salacious . It  digs deep  into the  dirt  drawing  out  dark secrets that are not the least seductive. Just  tragic and  saddening.

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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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