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The Mule Does Little To Clint Eastwood’s Reputation

Subhash K . Jha

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BThe  Mule

Starring Clint Eastwood, Bradley Cooper

Directed by Clint Eastwood

Rating: **(2 stars)

At  90, Clint Eastwood  mulishly  clings to his legendary  aura  in The Mule.From  the start  of his illustrious  career  this  grand old man  of  American cinema  has played loners, characters who would rather be  left to  themselves rather than  in  the company  of  people who would like to believe they  know  him.

In The Mule Eastwood plays Earl Stone and  guess what? He’s  90. No  effort to fudge  his age  , a crime that all male superstars are  guilty of.  Earl is a  man fighting off  irrelevance and boredom by becoming a drug carrier  .

That’s it. Nothing much happens once we know Earl’s  big secret. We know  Eastwood’s character  is  despised  by his  estranged wife(Dianne Wiest, a superb actress whom we are delighted to see after a long gap) . She  spares  no effort to  remind him of how callous he has  been to the family.  Beyond these  cursory details  the  film probes none  of those mortal  insecurities which would make  a law-abiding man  turn to crime at the end of life.

Surprisingly  in spite  of  its 90-year protagonist  The Mule is not a meditation  on mortality. Whether  you  wish to regard this  absence  of rumination  to be  a  virtue or not  is entirely a matter  of  choice. As far as  Esatwood’s  character is concerned death can go fly a kite with Mary Poppins.

Clint  has always played variations of himself  on screen. This time he’s playing a version  of  the sulky  star who probably turns down requests for selfies from fans .What’s surprisingly is the presence here  of  Bradley Cooper  during a year when he has attained a new level of stardom in A Star Is Born, appearing in The Mule as  a cop in pursuit  of a drug cartel. It is a role as trite as the one played by Ranvor Shorey  in  the recent web series Rangbaaz. And Cooper does nothing to elevate  the  character  from his cesspool of boredom.

This  is a film that does nothing for its accomplished actors  except to remind them that being  part of a  film made strictly to  humour its leading man’s penchant for self renewal(in one particularly embarrassing sequence  Eastwood,all of 90, is seen  making out with two young women who evidently enjoy the kink before the sink) is  a tenable place to be in.Even if the audience doesn’t quite agree with you.

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Kesari Movie Review: It Is The Best War Film India Has Produced

Subhash K . Jha

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Kesari

Starring: Akshay Kumar

Directed by Anurag Singh

Rating: *****(5 stars)

21 soldiers holding  off thousands of invaders…sSunds very  filmy, no? But here is the thing.Life’s lessons learnt  from history  prove that  truth can  indeed  be stranger than fiction. And why just stranger? Truth is far  more stimulating and  enriching too . Kesari  proves it. Digging out a little  known uncelebrated  chunk of unbelievable bravery  , it makes us proud not just as Indians but also as  a country that produces  cinema  of  the highest calibre.

So  take  bow  , Anurag Singh for directing a  film which will be remembered  by many generations of  Indian  moviegoers as a turning point in  the  war genre  of cinema.

 Unlike  the imposters  that stalk the silver screen with their phoney nationalism and  exasperating jingoism Kesari puts its  money where  its mouth is. The  actors playing  the 21  incredibly  courageous  Sardarjis who  took on the  Afghani invasion,  speak  of  the pride for their country with no effort to  create an  impression. These  soldiers  mean business. When pitched against  the  worst odds, they know they are destined to die.And yet they fight to their last breath. Why? Becase  there  is a country  to be protected

Kesari doesn’t valorize  death. But it certainly throws  the idea of  patriotic pride at us  at  a pitch we’ve never seen  or heard before. And I don’t just mean Raju Singh’s  background music which unnecessarily compounds  the  intrinsically dramatic  action scenes. That’s not the only  irrelevant  augmentation that this  flawlessly-written film suffers, Parineeti Chopra as  Havildar Ishar Singh’s phantom-wife serves  no purpose except to add a touch ofmuliebrity to this  pointedly masculine   film.

Kesari is  an astonishing achievement. Like Sanjay Leela  Bhansali’s  Padmaavat the second-half  of the nervewracking drama  is devoted entirely to the battle between the 21 Sikh soldiers against  thousands  of  Islamic  invaders who are  shot  like crawling insects in aerial shots that turn the turgidity of  war into a sharply  aesthetic  celebration of  war sentiments.

This is  not a film for the pacifists.  Kesari tells us, when  you got to fight  you’ve got to  give it your best shot even when  you know the  outcome.  No amount of praise  is  sufficient for the cast. Every one of  the actors playing the  21 Sikh soldiers  seems  to own his part in the way the  girls in Shah Rukh Khan’s hockey team owned  their parts in Chak De.

As  for Akshay Kumar, is  there any doubt that he is today’s finest star-actor  in   Hindi cinema? The restrained passion (evident in his  transformed  body language  and  his propensity to  state  the  truth without demur)  that he brings to  Ishar Singh’s part is sure to  get him the National award this year.I am sure  if Ishar  were be alive he would have  wanted to convey nationalistic valour with the same  muted ruggedness as Akshay  Kumar.

Of course these men who fought the battle  of Saragarhi were spectacularly brave. But the men behind this  film also display exemplary courage and confidence. Kesari is nearly  flawless in its rendition of  a battle of unequals where one man’s obstinacy becomes  a nation’s abiding pride and honour.

Don’t miss this film even  if  you watch only two films a  year.

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The most awaited trailer of the film PM Narendra Modi is out now!

SKJ News Bureau

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The trailer of one of the most anticipated films of the year, PM Narendra Modi was launched today.

Present were producers Sandip Ssingh, Suresh Oberoi, Anand Pandit, Director Omung Kumar, Actors Vivek Anand Oberoi, Manoj Joshi, Darshan Kumaar, Barkha Sengupta, Zarina Wahab, Prashant Narayanan, Akshat R Saluja along with others.

Producer, Creative Director and Story Writer Sandip Ssingh said, “This is a very special film to everyone who has been a part of this journey. It is an emotional moment for me, I am very happy and overwhelmed with the fact that the trailer has released today. We are bringing this film a week early on public demand. We are now looking forward to the release.”

Director Omung Kumar,” Directing a biopic is always a great experience, but the biopic being of a man like our Honorable PM Narendra Modi was inspiring. While shooting the film, each day we realized and experienced the amount of love this man has from the people. This was once in a lifetime experience for me.”

Actor Vivek Anand Oberoi added,”This film has been the most exciting yet difficult journey for me.Playing the part of the serving Prime Minister of our country is a challenge in it self. Nobody can ever get into his shoes, Mr Modi is the Hero of the film and Nation. Me and the whole team working on the film has just tried our bit to show the inspiring journey of this common man.”

Directed by Omung Kumar, ‘PM Narendra Modi’ the film will traverse the journey of Narendra Modi from his humble beginnings to becoming the Prime Minister of India.

The film has versatile actor Vivek Anand Oberoi in and as ‘PM Narendra Modi’, actors Boman Irani, Manoj Joshi, Prashant Narayanan, Zarina Wahab, Barkha Sengupta, Anjan Shrivastav, Yatin Karyekar, Ramakant Dayma, Akshat R Saluja,Jimesh Patel and Darshan Kumaar in important roles.  

Producer, Creative Director and Story by Sandip Ssingh. Produced by Suresh Oberoi and Anand Pandit the film will release on 5th April 2019.

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Holi Thoughts From Bollywood

Subhash K . Jha

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Lata Mangeshkar “Holi  is a  festival of colours and a time of peace and harmony. I request  the men  of the country  to  desist from  hooliganism so  that  the women of the  country can also enjoy Holi without looking nervously  over their  shoulders. I  wish thisHoli  all Indians  would unite  to become one strong and powerful nation, so that no  enemy  from the outside would  dream of attacking us. Our film industry  has an amazing history  of secular values. In a Holi song like Mohe panghat pe nandlal cher gayo re. Naushad and Shakeel Badayuni Saab who  composed and wrote the song so beautufullt  were  both Muslims. And Rafi Saab sang  Madhuban mein radhika naache re(in  the  film Kohinoor) a classic  that  is remembered  every Holi. The days of  the big Holi bash  are now over. I attended many of them at Raj Kapoor Saab’s R K Studio. Ab toh na Raj Saab rahe na studioraha. Holi is now  a subdued festival. Abb wohjosh nahin raha.”

Shatrughan Sinha; “I pray for  peace and harmony this Holi. I  pray that better sense  would prevail over the  war-mongerers.And I pray that every Indian resolves this  Holi to vote for  the  parliamentary representatives  who would  voice  the  apprehensions   of  the common man. How  wonderful it would have been if this Holi we  could have celebrated the festival  without the clouds of war hovering over  our  great nation. I was  always very enthusiastic  about  Holi. But nowadays  the  josh is gone in the  film industry. Even the Bachchans don’t celebrate Holi with the same enthusiasm. Holi has now become a  family  affair rather than  community event.”

Dilip Kumar & Saira Banu:  “Ayk dosrey se mohabbat aur bhaichaara ho…our country  has the beauty of all the colours of the rainbow in its people’s togetherness…Hindustan is unique in its people’s love and respect of happy co-existence….may this always prevail…this is our prayer.”

Pooja Bhatt:  “Holi is a time where we need to  reinstate and believe in the virtue of being truthful and honest and fight away evil in all its forms.For me it’s about spreading love in a world plagued with hate.”

Preity Zinta: “As  of now I am just chilling for  Holi. Non-stop travelling has taken the josh  out of me. I just want  to  sleep.”

Rajkummar Rao:  “I’m going to play a bit with my friends and family here in Mumbai but I make sure that I always use safe organic colors only. All I would say is, it’s a festival of love and colors so do celebrate it with lot of love and harmony and be safe.”

Kriti Sanon: “I don’t have plans as such.. but my parents have come from delhi for Holi. So I’m just hogging on the gujiyas they’ve brought for us!”

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Industry Comes Forward To Help Actor Turned Watchman

Subhash K . Jha

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Rather than face the pain  and humiliation  of penury  the  out-of-work senior  actor  Savi Sidhu  opted to take  on  the  job of a watchman at a highrise building  in the suburbs of Mumbai.

After his story went  viral  this week Savi is flooded with  offers to return to cinema .

Says  Sushant Singh General Secretary of the Cine  & TV Artistes Association(CINTAA), “I spoke to him  a while back .He couldn’t call me earlier  as he was busy with auditions. He was sounding very happy,  I congratulated him for choosing to lead a dignified and honest life. He might’ve been down, but he chose not to be down and out.”

Filmmaker Hansal Mehta  feels Savi’s story  defines  the dignity of labour as well  as the callousness  of  the  entertainment industry. “I found his  outlook towards life very positive and dignified. We are in an uncertain business and have only ourselves to fall back on eventually – particularly in low phases. I support his dignity above empty words of support and sympathy. He is better off than many who I meet at receptions of producers offices whining or pleading and doing little about themselves, their lives or their self-respect. I salute his spirit.”

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Alia,Varun Bag The Juiciest Roles In Kalank

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BAlthough  the  eagerly awaited  forthcoming film Kalank has  a stellar cast ,  a source close to the  film says  the entire story revolves the  characters  played by  Varun Dhawan and  Alia Bhatt.

“This  is  not to say that other big names in the cast don’t have important roles. They do. But Madhuri Dixit, Sanjay Dutt,Sonakshi Sinha and Aditya Roy Kapoor play characters who figure prominently in  the lives of Alia and Varun. The entire plot  converges on  the Student Of  The Year  pair,” says  the knowledgeable  source.

The source  also adds that the  cast got into  the  film with its eyes wide open.  “Nobody’s role has been  reduced.Dutt, Dixit and the  others  got into it with their eyes wide open knowing fully well that Varun and Alia are Karan’s blue-eyed  protégés and that they’ve the best roles.”

A  catty actress who has worked  with Karan Johar’s Dharma Production  smirks, “What  choice do the  other actors have? Sure Madhuri,  Sanjay Dutt  are  iconic actors. But they have no film career  left worth talking about. As  for Sonakshi Sinha, and Aditya RoyKapoor,when  was  the last time they  had a  hit? At least Kalank ensures that they are associated with a successful film.”

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7 Reasons Why KESARI Has Blockbuster Written All Over

Subhash K . Jha

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1.     Akshay Kumar in a turban never fails. Do recall Singh In  Kinng and  its unofficial  sequel Sing Is  Bling(whatever that meant).Akshay says he feels  very special when  playing a Sardarji. Surely, the feeling is shared by the audience as well.

2.     Akshay  plays a true-life Sikh warrior who  defended  our  country against a massive Afghani invasion. This hitherto-unfilmed episode  of Indian  history  was  to be made  with  Sanjay Dutt in  the lead by  director Raj Kumar Santoshi. It fell through. Later Salman Khan  was also associated with the project as  a producer. That  didn’t work out either.More  the hurdles, the sweeter the  fruits  of success.

3.     2019  is a  year  of  tremendous  success. 9 out  of  the  releases so far are declared  hits with Uri crossing the  boxoffice collection  of   almost every blockbuster.  Patriotism is clearly the  big selling-point at  the  boxoffice.And if you add Akshay Kumar  to it you just can’t go wrong.

4.     The past weekend went horribly wrong at  the boxoffice. All the  four  films released  on March 15 were miserable flops.  The  dark week can be  seen as  the precursor to  the  bright  light to come.

5.     Because  it is  Akshay  Kumar. When  was  the last time he had a flop? Akshayas  an instinctive  feel for  what works  at  the  boxoffice. It isn’t about  flogging the  formula. It is about discovering fresh insights in timeworn stories.

6.     Director Anurag Singh has done some  amazing work in Punjabi with DiljitDosanjh.With Akshay  Kumar comes Anurag’s biggest  litmus test. Never hasAnurag directed anything so big. The  sheer scale  of the film with battle scenes that feature   thousands, makes  Kesari an  epic effort even   before release.

7.     Ah,  and  one  more thing. Akshay  pairs  up with  Parineeti  Singh  for  the  first time. Parineeti’s  character gets her name  from her globally feted  cousin who at one time  was  Akshay’s favourite co-star. Is  Priyanka flattered?

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Shashi Kapoor : The Gentleman Actor Who Lashed Out In The Press Only Once

Subhash K . Jha

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Forever the thorough gentleman Shashi Kapoor’s interaction with the press was impeccable. Polite well-behaved and utterly dignified he never lost his cool in print(there was no internet back then).

But the one time that Shashi lost his cool and lashed out in print was when his dear beloved wife Jennifer Kapoor did not win the National award for her extraordinary performance in Aparna Sen’s 36 Chowringhee Lane.

Strangely Shash Kapoor lashed out at Smita Patil rather than Rekha who won the National award that year for Umrao Jaan.

Explains a source, “Even when he was angry and upset Shashi remembered to be kind to his friends. And Rekha was a dear friend.She had played the lead in three of Shashi’s most prestigious productions Vijeta , Kalyug and Utsav. So Shashi didn’t want to attack Rekha .Instead he deflected his anger to unnamed actresses who get national awards for soaping their armpits.”

A comment that Shashi regretted later, though luckily he hadn’t named Smita.But Smita did win the National award for Chakra in which she was seen bathing under a streetside watertap.

Some years ago when I brought up this soapy slip-up with Rekha she said, “Shashi had every right to be upset. Jenniferji deserved the award much more than me. I didn’t even know what I was doing in Umrao Jaan.”

Shashi could take solace in the fact that many great performers and performances didn’t win any National award. They didn’t honour Dilip Kumar for Ganga Jumna or Devdas.Nor did they honour Rajesh Khanna for Anand or Amar Prem. Even Mr Bachchan’s really great performances in Deewaar and Saudagar went unacknowledged .

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Alia Bhatt’s Kathak In Kalank To Land Her The Lead In Bhansali’s Next

Subhash K . Jha

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Sanjay Leela Bhansali and Alia Bhatt are a collective force waiting to come together at the earliest given opportunity.

If fate had willed the two would have worked together 15 years ago when Bhansali was planning a love story based on child marriage titled Hamari Jaan Ho Tum which he wanted to make with Alia and Aditya Narayan (singer Udit Narayan’s son) in the lead.

That project never happened. Now when Alia is a superstar(no two ways about it) she has shown a keen interest in working with Bhansali. She has met him in his office a couple of times recently. They resolved to work together sooner rather than later.

Perhaps neither realized it would happen so soon.

Alia has beeen cast in Bhansali’s dream project Insha Allah

Apparently the role requires a whole of classical Indian dancing.

“Bhansali saw Alia dancing in the teaser of Kalank. That did it. Alia will be cast in Insha Allah” says a source close to the development.

In fact not too many know this.But Alia was sent by Bhansali to the Kathak exponent Pandit Birju Maharaj to learn Indian classical dancing for Kalank.

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Mard Ko Dard Nahin Hota Movie Review: It Is Wackier Than Anything You Will See

Subhash K . Jha

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Mard Ko Dard Nahin Hota

Starring Abhimanyu Dassani,Radhika Madan, Gulshan Devaiah

Directed by Vasan Bala

Rating: *** ½(3 and a half stars)

When Manmohan Desai used those prophetic words about a man not feeling any pain, little did he know how they would be used decades later in a film that is crazy and outrageous, funny and exasperating. Mard Ko Dard Nahin Hota pays a homage to filmy maschismo while at the same time ridiculing the conventions of masculine aggression by nudging prodding and awakening the funnybone as other bones snap crack and shatter.

You see, our hero Surya(debutant Abimanyu Dassani) can’t feel any pain.Neither, apparently can the director Vasan Bala who constructs an edifice of spoofy self-mockery that is unlike anything we’ve seen in our films.Bala wants to deconstruct all the myths that we’ve grown up watching regarding screen heroism.

Which is not to say , everything in Mard Ko Dard… is exciting and bracing. Some of it is that. Some other sections heave sag and groan under the weight of its own appointed mission to dismantle the iconoclasm of onscreen machismo.

Uniqueness blended with an unorthodox treatment of the theme of cinematic valour provides a heady brew of blustering action and one-liners thrown so jauntily that you may think the characters are acting cockier than they should. And they are! But what the heck! A film that dares to cross the line of conventional entertainment has earned itself the right to self-indulgence.

This is a film that bristles with a broadly defiant satire at once embracing and heckling the traditional formulistic Hindi cinema. It is also a tribute to the great Bruce Lee in ways that are hard to explain. But then nothing in this film can be calibrated and normalized. Mard Ko Dard Nahin Hota moves at its volition unheedful of whether we the audience are along for the ride all the way.Sometimes the film losses the plot, quite literally.

In portions specially towards the end when a bone-crunching tournament happens on what looks like the frontyard of a middle income highrise which has seen better days. The work seems to buckle under the pressure of being constantly sassy.It ends up bowing and scraping to the very conventions that it seems to scoff.

The performances go a long way in keeping the proceedings constantly off-key without losing track of the original theme. Debutant Abhimanyu Dassani pours his soul into making the painless action hero Surya believable and likeable. Semi-debutante Radhika Madan gives Dassani tit for tat.She has the coolest action sequence in the film where she fights off a car filled with sexual predators to the ironical sound of Kishore Kumar’s song Nakhrewali(from the film New Delhi).She also has a wonderful screen-mother in Loveleen Mishra who urges her daughter to fly the coop rather than a marry an overbearing do-gooder.

But the really interesting performances come from Mahesh Manjrekar as Surya’s precocious grandfather and Gulshan Devaiah who is a riot as twin brothers, one plainly evil the other supremely righteous,both utterly filmy. I think Devaiah got what the director has attempted to do in this film even better than the director himself.

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Tanushree Dutta Tells About The Guest Speaker At Harward

Subhash K . Jha

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Tanushree Dutta Is Not Scared Of Getting Bullied

Tanushree Dutta may not be in India at the moment. In spirit, she continues to be the lord if the ring. She tells Subhash K Jha all that she has been up to.

How was your lecture stint at the Harvard Business School?

It was a unique experience moving amongst the best and brightest from all over the world

So yes,the guest speaker stint at Harvard went well.I did two panels at the conference and had a great feedback from the students and other guest speakers.The first panel had quite a few guests so I put in my inputs.The second panel was good as it was just the two of us journalist Pankaj Pachauri and myself discussing media,movies and internalized misogyny in society and representation of it in popular culture.

Did you get an ample opportunity to put your thoughts and ideas forward?

The first panel didn’t give me much scope to add my insight.But Harvard created a second opportunity so the discussion with Pankaj went very well.I’m happy that I was able to visit the Harvard campus and spend some time there.

You have a film on the MeToo movement coming up?

Yes, I’m looking forward to the release of Inspiration.But it’s not what it’s being made out to be. It’s a short film that is not fiction nor inspired by #metoo stories contrary to recent reports.Its actually a motivational and inspirational genre aimed at guiding young newcomers to the film and media industries or any other field.

Do you play the anchor in the film?

No.I’m playing myself but it’s not specified in the film.Its a new format.You have to watch it to understand. It’s just 20 min so fully packed with my insight.Short,crisp, concise and very direct.It releases on 8th March.

You haven’t been seen on screen for the longest time,not counting the innumerable tv interviews you gave recently?

I’m coming back on screen after almost nine years and I didn’t just want to entertain but do something that helps or motivates or guides someone out there who is struggling with difficult choices.

You’ve moved away from being a Bollywood actor?

Yes,I’m slowly moving on from being an actor and entertainer to getting into thought leadership and social impact scene.This just felt the natural thing to do.I guess we all grow up eventually.With great blessings come great responsibility.God has been very kind to me.Its time to express that gratitude.

I am sure there will be many hats for you to wear in the coming months?

Yes, I think so too.I’m doing several events here in US as keynote speaker on a range of topics from women empowerment to spirituality and holistic healing. Basically trying to put it put out there in a gist and sum of all that I’ve learnt and experienced in my journey so far in life.

You have a mission now?

It’s getting clearer by the day.Good times ahead.Lets see what else is in store for me.

The satisfaction in this is beyond I can express in words.No beauty pageant crown or movie star adulation can compare to the joy I’m feeling now in doing what I’m doing.

So would you change the earlier part of your career if you had a choice?

I mean, that was great too for that time and I’m grateful for it but this is something else altogether.

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Akshya Gets Ready For His Next Release, His First Role As An Indan Soldier

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A Film On The Shiney Ahuja Case?

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Ranbir Kapoor Bonds With Alia’s Family

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Aamir Khan To Play Tom Hanks In Forrest Gump

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Mere Pyare Prime Minister Movie Review: It Is All Heart!

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Subhash K Jha Reviews The Trailer Of Delhi Crime

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Pakistani Cinema Has Its own Uri Now

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Releases Scamper For Date, Junglee Gets Pushed out By RAW

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Celebrities Have A Responsibility To Uphold Their Public Image In Private Spaces

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Vinita Nanda Speaks To Subhash K Jha On Women’s Issues Pertaining To The Entertainment Industry.

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