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The Last Duel, Rape She Says, He Says…..

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The Last Duel(Disney-Hotstar)

Starring Matt Damon,Adam Driver, Jodie Comer, Ben Affleck

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Directed by Ridley Scott

Rating: *** ½

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There is probably a  greater film submerged in this good film. We will never know.Just as  we will never know  if  Marguerite de Carrouges, the  noblewoman who is played with a seductive sublimity by  the  underrated British actress  Jodie Comer, was really raped  by her husband’s former friend and  soldier colleague.

 Was she  brutally raped  , as she  claims, or was there  some  kind of  a  come-hither invitation,  some sort  of  pleasurable  plug-point during the plunder as we saw in  Paul Verhoeven’s  disturbing French film Elle where Isabelle Rupert  looks  forward to  a revisit from her masked marauder.

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 In The Last Duel, the great Ridley Scott has constructed a slippery edifice teetering dangerously on the border between truth and conjecture. Recalling one  of the earliest  reported cases of rape,  it  examines  the sensitivities of the  issue   and  the  intricacies  of the court hearing in a tone that is sometimes luminous, sometimes labored.

 It is as  though  director Ridley Scott WANTS  to believe  in his heroine’s truth. But is not fully convinced. A  part of the problem is Matt Damon’s flabby  interpretation  of  the  husband Sir Jean de Carrouges who is  righteous but dull, agile but   frumpy, and most inept in bed. His friend turned  foe as played by Adam Driver is a complete ladies’ man who is known to seduce woman like other men behead  their enemies on the battlefield.

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You can’t cast  Driver against Damon  and expect the audience to pitch for  the  latter.

So  what  really happened between Marguerite  and  Jacques Le Gris? Did he really fuck her against  her will?She  says he did, He says he did not. Three different interpretations of the truth are  compiled into  a compelling drama  of amorous ambivalence.  Jacques   goes to his eventual death  swearing on God there was no rape while  Marguerite remains steadfast  in her accusation.

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  Based on the  2004 book The Last Duel: A True Story of Trial by Combat in Medieval France by Eric Jager and set in medieval France, The Last Duel is a wannabe  masterpiece that stops short  of attaining its full power and glory by dint of its ambivalence.

Does rape  become consent   if the woman obtains sexual pleasure in the  violent act?

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  These are not  questions that could be asked, let  alone  answered, in any civilized society.To his credit  Ridley Scott takes no shortcuts, offers  no easy solution  to the  problem which plagues the plot both organically and extrinsically. While the three main characters grapple with the issue in their conscience and  in the court of King Charles V1(played with infantile imperiousness  by  Alex Lawther) the three  protagonists fight their own   private battles.

 A shroud of uncertainty covers this remarkable but fatally flawed film. Can a film on a historic rape  case from the 14th century be  put on screen without the writers(Nicole Holofcener, Ben Affleck, Matt Damon) and director taking sides? Apparently, it can. The Last Duel gets away with  a far-from-conclusive  projection of the alleged rape. It doesn’t bother to be  politically correct. It looks at male predatoriness as  a routine act, and hence excusable.

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 There is a strangely  supine   tug  ‘o’ war played out between Marguerite and  her mother-in-law(played by the brilliant veteran British actress Harriet Walter). In it , we see what is  clearly the problem with women: it is not the men  but the women themselves who can’t support one another  .

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Why On  Earth Is Sushmita Sen Smoking A Cigar In Aarya’s First  Look?

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Aarya

Season 3  of Aarya is being shot as  you read this, and naturally Sushmita Sen is  super-kicked about it, so kicked that she has put  out a  video where she is seen  in the  best Lady Boss version of herself.

Alarmingly, she is seen puffing away at a  cigar, to  complete her Badass Lady Boss image.

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 There was a  time when women smoking  cigarettes  in Hindi cinema signaled vampishness. If a female actor was  shown smoking it meant she had evil designs  over the  hero, and life in general.

 Sushmita being Sushmita, a cigarette won’t do. A  cigar it is, to go with her formidable image. The last Bollywood actor I saw smoking a cigar  on screen was Premnath in the 1970s. Back then so  many  people didn’t die of cancer  by smoking.

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 These are  different far more dangerous  and deadly times.

Sushmita is an iconic  actor.She  needs to be more careful about the image  she projects . Smoking  a  cigar doesn’t  enhance a woman’s(or a  man’s) muscle power. Nor does it make her look cool.

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About shooting for the third season of Aarya  Sushmita says, “Aarya is synonymous with my name.  I have lived as Aarya for two whole seasons and the love received by the audiences has only encouraged me to do more. Walking on the sets of Aarya Season 3 makes me feel at home and gives me  a sense of empowerment. I’m grateful to the entire team at Disney+ Hotstar, Ram Madhvani Films and Endemol Shine India for the vision of creating Aarya and taking it to newer heights with every season.”

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Shah Rukh, Deepika, John Will Meet The Media  On Monday At 4 pm(But There’s  A Catch)

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Pathaan

Pathaan has effectually discredited the  efficacy  of media interactions to promote  a  film. The  film’s lead actors Shah Rukh  Khan, Deepika Padukone  and John Abraham did not conduct any  press or portal interviews  to  promote the  film.

And  yet Pathaan  is  a blockbuster.

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 This  weekend  the Pathaan producer Aditya  Chopra  of  Yash Raj Films  took a call on behalf  of  the Pathaan team  to do one media  meet at the Taj Land’s End in Mumbai  on Monday January 30 at 4 pm.

The  three principal actors  and  director Siddharth Malhotra  will address  the  media.

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 But  here’s the catch: the media will not be allowed to ask any questions. There will be no  Q& A s or  one-on-one  interactions.This  basically means that the  Pathaan  team will  have an opportunity to  say what it wants  to the media. But the  media will have no say.

Make what  you will of this  one-way traffic.

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A  source close  to Yash Raj informs  me that this is  the   pattern  regarding the media that  Yash Raj will follow for  future  releases: no  press meets  no promotional  engagements.

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Fake Projects of Pathaan Director Being Planted In Media

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Pathaan

Siddharth Anand Denies Considering  Any Project With  Deepak Mukut

A  word of caution to those marketing and publicity wizkids  who think  it’s okay to  plant fake stories  on (fake) projects  with the Pathaan director.

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 It is  not.

Such baseless announcements  are meant only to  raise  the equity  of the  producers  with whom Siddharth   Anand’s name is  linked. One  such  producer whose name  has cropped up after the  spectacular success of  Pathaan is  Deepak Mukut.

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There were  reports  everywhere that Siddharth Anand’s next would  be with Mukut.

Turned out to be a false rumour.

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A  source in the  know informs, “Siddharth now has to complete Fighter  starring Hrithik Roshan and  Deepika Padukone  for Yash Raj.Then  he  is   committed to direct the sequel to War 2 for  Yash Raj films.  They will then start  work on the  next film in the Pathaan  franchise. There is no scope  or  room for any outside  projects  for Siddharth Anand. So every announcement  that  you read of a  new film  to be  directed by Siddharth Anand  for an  outside  producer is likely to  be  a hundred  percent fake.”

When I asked Siddharth Anand  about the  supposed project  with  producer Deepak Mukut he promptly replied,  “NOT AT ALL.”

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Pink Director’s Next  Featuring Yami As A Crime Reporter To Stream From February 16

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Yami

Anniruddha Roy  Chowdhury whose  Pink  featuring Amitabh Bachchan and Taapsee Pannu was one of  the  most important  films of  2016, is all set to  release his  next  Hindi film.

Entitled LostAnniruddha’s film , based on true  events, will see Yami Gautam Dhar(that’s  what the actress calls herself after her marriage)  as a crime journalist. LOST is an emotional social thriller that represents a higher quest, a search for lost values of empathy and integrity.

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Inspired by true events, Lost is a story of a bright young woman crime reporter in her relentless search for the truth behind the sudden disappearance of a young theatre activist.

Lost

Lost

Says Aniruddha  “The shoot of LOST has been an incredible journey. I have been eager for the release of our hard-worked venture. The film is a realistic highlight of media in a social context and I am sure that it will give the audience a compelling watch. I am curious about its release and see the responses it shall get. I hope they will welcome it with open hearts.”

Yami Gautam Dhar  who plays  the lead  of  the  crime reporter  says,   “I can’t be happier and more proud of the film’s selection for the opening night at CSAFF. I feel like its one that the people will connect to and will be the one that you cannot miss, especially in the current age and time. I have loved playing this role because it was such a special experience, it allowed me to explore so many layers of emotions as an actor and the entire team has worked really hard on it. I genuinely cannot wait for the film’s release, especially to see the reactions of the audience to it.”

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The crime investigation  drama boasts a stellar cast. Along with Yami, the film will feature Pankaj Kapur, Rahul Khanna, and an ensemble of younger talent, including Neil Bhoopalam, Pia Bajpai, and Tushar Pandey, in pivotal roles.

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