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The Problem Is Not Ali Zafar, The Problem Is The Mindset

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The  MeToo  movement in America after Harvey Weinstein was exposed, seems to have touched Asia, what with  women coming  forward in Pakistan to make startling  allegations of sexual harassment against  singer-actor Ali Zafar.

But according to Aditi Rao Hydari who has worked with Ali, the problem is not Ali or any one individual. It is the male mindset which feels it is empowered and sanctioned to treat women the way they want to. Aditi who has been at the  receiving end  of unwanted male attention feels  the male gaze must stop falling ondisempowered women who do not know how to deal with predatory patriarchal attention.

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Says  Aditi, “A lot of the times when such an incident happens there is the  fear of being ostracized   by the  film industry,  of  not getting work. That fear should be dispelled. Whenever I’ve faced  situations  that have made me uncomfortable I’ve turned down the project. Have I lost out on good work because  of my refusal to ignore unacceptable behaviour? I may have. But at least I  can look myself into the eye when I  look in the mirror.”

However there  is  the  other side to this awful crisis  of credibility where the male  feels he is  entitled to misbehave, and even when he doesn’t misbehave his  every move is  looked on with suspicion.

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Some years  ago a  young married actor with a child lost his face and career when the  househelp accused him  of rape. The actor spent considerable time in  the cleaner, came  out on bail and has now  reached an out-of-court settlement with the alleged victim who has withdrawn  the case.

Insistent whispers allege she  was part of a gang that  extorts money from “empowered” male sections  after accusing them falsely of rape.

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There  is  always  this danger that if you are a man in a position of power you will misuse that power. But there  is also the equally imminent danger, never considered seriously, that if you don’t use that power in the way a woman wants she may use your power against you.

We’ve the case  of  a  well-known  filmmaker and a  reasonably recognizable  singer  being accused of  rape by a woman whom they had known for years.Both were finally cleared by the  courts.

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The very articulate and decorous actress Dia Mirza feels the  cult  of sexual exploitation is often a  bogey used willingly by  the “victim” initially but eventually disowned  as being unwanted attention after the arrangement  of mutual benefit runs  its course.

Says  Dia,  “We must examine  the circumstances that foster and encourage men to misuse  their power. I think there is almost nothing worse than empowered men using their power to get sexual favours out of  upcoming aspirants, both  women …and men too. Let’s not  forget men are as susceptible to  being sexually exploited as women.”

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Dia agrees with Amitabh Bachchan in Pink when he says a woman’s no means a no. But Dia is also concerned with how persuasive  and  convincing that no is. “I’ve been a part of this entertainment industry for 20 years. I’ve seen how ambitious youngsters avail of sexual favours to make their way up the ladder, not realizing that the short cuts are never a dependable route to success. Why should the onus  of  such  youngsters’ moral compromise  only be on the exploitative  elements in the entertainment  industry? If you are old enough to seek job opportunities you are old enough to know when you are being told  to compromise  for the sake  of  the opportunities. After that the choice is entirely yours. I never took that route of seeking favours by being ‘nice’ to  people  who  matter. For this I’ve been called boring. I refuse to see that epithet as an insult. I wear it as  a badge  of honour.”

Many actresses  and even actors  in  the  male industry  have  chosen to give  sexual favours in return for the promise of work. Is it right for them to turn around and cry rape  after they  achieve  some  success(and hence are empowered enough to say no  unwanted attention)or when they  don’t get the rewards that  pushed them to compromise with their sexuality?

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As  the  Kathua gangrape and murder reminds us,  the atmosphere of  vitiation and perversion has  touched an all-time high  in  our country.The nation’s morale and morality are at an all-time low. Let’s  not waste time running after offenders who become offenders after not keeping their promise.

The real problem is  the offenders who sexually violate women and children to subjugate and dominate them.Not women and men who are  fully in control of their minds and body when consenting to sexual compromises.

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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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