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Yeh Kaali Kaali Aankhen: Insanely fast-Paced Crime Thriller That Has You Hooked

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Yeh Kaali Kaali Aankhen(Netflix, 8 Episodes)

Starring Tahir Raj Bhasin,Aanchal Singh, Shweta  Tripathi, Sourabh Shukla,Surya  Sharma

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Directed  by Siddharth Sengupta

Rating: ***

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If you have seen  Siddharth Sengupta  Undekhi  for Applause Entertainment  you know  he  is  most comfortable in the world  of ‘unorganized’ crime. Selfappointed ganglords and their thoroughly bratty children, powered by rudderless  goons who  think they can get away with murder, literally, make Sengupta’s blood boil.

 There is  an undercurrent of simmering spleen  in  Yeh Kali Kali Aankhein(named after  a  hit song from the Shah Rukh Khan starrer  Baazigar  for no particular reason)  a looming resentment against  the  things people with money and power  can do to  the  powerless. This is  a  series about the  abuse of power of wealth ,about lawless gangsters  forcing their  will on the helpless: a  favourite theme  in  our cinema for years.

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But wait. There  is  a twist to the tale here. The bully patriarch , played with unerring  pitch-perfection by Sourabh Shukla, has a  lovely daughter  and she is  in  love with the poor little pretty-boy since school. Purva,played by  the lovely Aanchal Singh, is  no walkover. Nor  is  she  the vampish Bindu of yore  slithering and slobbering  all over her  object of desire. She is a  moneyed classy  chick who wants  the  hick  with the…never-mind.

The writing  is  unabashedly pulpy and the twists in the  plot, specially from midpoint are  mindnumbing  in their  presposterousness. To  his   credit  screenwriter  Siddharth Sengupta  sustains the pulpy momentum  right till the end. The frenetic  pace, often literally  staged with goons chasing law-abiding god-fearing  citizens  to   their death, never slackens.

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Seen in the spirit  of  Sidney Sheldon’s fiction-in-motion. Yeh  Kali  Kali Aankhein is a  sock-in-the-tummy entertainer . It is  set  in  a town by the  Ganga named  Onkara (a stand-in for  Varanasi or Allahabad) . The last two episodes which turn dark and  murderous ,are  shot in Ladakh with the change of visuals  serving a specific function.

I saw no compromises  in  production values just because the size  of  the screen has shrunk. The  series  has  an eye-catching look and  a lived-in feeling.

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All the actors  from Tahir Raj Bhasin(so ridiculous   in his bewigged  Mahesh  Bhatt avatar in this week’s  other  series Ranjish Hi Sahi)  and Shweta Tiwari, playing the  simple-minded  couple whose  togetherness is  shredded by the murderous machinations  of  the rich bitch(these  moneyed  types, I tell  you)   to  the  typecast Brijendra  Kala(as   Bhasin’s  cocky domineering father) and Surya Sharma  as   Purva’s borderline psychotic brother(almost a repeat  of what this talented actor  played  in the same  director’s  Undekhi) all do well for themselves.

But the real catch  of the serial is Aanchal Singh as  the  won’t-take-no-for-an-answer lovergirl. She  plays the part in  dignified measured  tones  giving  Purva a  kind of grace that perhaps  the  character  doesn’t deserve.Alos watch out for Anant Joshi as  Vikrant’s best friend . He is the comic relief and  a welcome one  for a change. And Purva’s  rapper-suitor  played by Nikhil Pandey is  a hoot.

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I wish the  narration was not  so  anxious to take  audiences  along  . A kind of desperate  breathlessness does seep into the storytelling at times.  But that’s okay. Better than  10 episodes of languorous  tedium that we’ve been subjected  to in some  recent serials .

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Shabana Azmi Breaks Her Wrist, Flies To  Budapest For Spielberg

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Shabana Azmi

Shabana Azmi’s commitment to  getting it right, no matter what it takes, is  by now beyond legendary. She  is known to go to extreme lengths for her  characters, the   quick-reference what-Shabana-can-do-for-a-role film being Shyam Benegal’s  Mandi where she had put on 30 kgs to look like  a  ‘Madame’ and  convey her message  in  a  brothel.

 Now , Shabana  flies to Budapest on the  night  of 8 February  in spite  of having broken her wrist.

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“What  to  do, I have to.I’ve to shoot another schedule  of my second season of  Halo(the series  produced by  Steven Spielberg) . There is no way I can postpone  it. I am very upset with myself. It  was such an  unnecessary accident. I was in Jindal . I took a jump and landed with a  fractured wrist, ”  says Shabana  angrily.

This is not  the first fracture that Shabana has suffered in recent times. Before  the wrist  that’s broken now, she  had broken the other wrist. And  prior to that she  had broken her shoulder.

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“I’m supposed to be  shooting till the 28th  of February. And  it’s all very tough physically rigorous  scenes. I don’t know  how I’m going to do it. I am  really annoyed  with  myself for  being careless.” Shabana sighed  before signing  off.

Knowing her the way I do,I can only say, nothing is impossible for Shabana Azmi.

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Shobita Dhulipala On Her Close Aquatic Connection To Her Character In The Night Manager

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Shobita Dhulipala

Sobhita Dhulipala has constantly tried to  make an  impression  with her intriguing performances and roles. In The Night Manager she  slips into the mysterious role of Kaveri.

Talking about her character, Sobhita Dhulipala says , “There’s a certain intrigue to Kaveri. On better days, you feel like you get a sense of who she is, but you could never be too sure of what she is.”

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   Being a  water  person  Sobhita  enjoyed her character’s aqueous antecedents, “There is a very visible parallel that’s drawn between Kaveri and water throughout the show.They both can be so gentle, so nourishing, but also very tumultuous and deep. Kaveri seems like that. She has this tenderness as well as a current within her.”

Sobhita comes from an aquatic  family and  feels  a deep affinity  to  water. “I have in the past been compared with water’s energy and I thought it was a tremendous compliment. So, to be able to give form to that feeling, that connection I feel with it..it’s great. My father is a sailor. And I spent many of my younger years at sea, also the home I grow up in was by the shore. I also love the name Kaveri and I always thought when I have my own child, I’d name him/her by a river! So, I think there’s, resonance, all of it really comes together for me.”

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The Romantics Adi Chopra’s Show All The Way

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The Romantics 

Netflix’s The Romantics profiling the legend Yash Chopra in four episodes , happened only because Netflix  gave complete creative control to  Yash Chopra’s son Aditya Chopra,  the scion of the Yash  Raj family.

A  source very close to  the project reveals, “If it wasn’t for Adi’s nod, the project  wouldn’t have happened. He not only greenlighted the project, he also personally supervised every aspect of the project. Smriti Mundhra is  on board as the director of The Romantics.  But it is  Adi who decided what  goes, and what  not.”

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Apparently  the  thirty-five interviewees speaking on  Yash Chopra in The  Romantics  were all  personally approved  by Adi Chopra who  also agreed to do his  first video interview ever for the docu-pic on his distinguished dad.

Adi Chopra’s one  and  only print interview was with  film critic/editor  Khalid Mohamed.

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The Romantics starts streaming on Netflix on Valentine’s Day  February 14.

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I’m very excited to be doing my OTT debut: Shahid Kapoor

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Shahid  Kapoor

As Shahid  Kapoor Gets Ready To Make  His Digital Debut, He Takes Time  Off  For A Q & A With  Subhash K Jha

Farzi is your first foray into the OTT space. How would you describe the experience? Is it any different from doing the films for the big screen?

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 I’m very excited to be doing my OTT debut, as everybody calls it. I think I did it because I love  the directors Raj and DK and their work, and I actually really really liked the idea and the concept behind Farzi, the world of counterfeiting . I felt Sunny was a character that was as challenging as some of my most challenging characters as I’ve done yet. So I immediately wanted to do it.

And was it any different  shooting for an OTT series?

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Of course, it’s different because you’re watching the character over five to six hours as opposed to maybe two to two and a half hours. So it’s a deeper, wider opportunity to bring a character to life, that’s it.

 Farzi gave you the opportunity to work with the great Vijay Sethupathi and also the creators Raj and DK. So what was that experience like?

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With Raj and DK, I’ve loved Family Man very much and we’ve met over time and always wanted to collaborate. So I was really looking forward to it. In fact, I asked them if they have a show because they were calling me for a movie because they didn’t really expect… they didn’t think after Kabir Singh,  I’d like to do something like that , or whatever. But I actually asked them for it and probed  for it, and then they actually told me about this concept which we had discussed as a movie earlier.

So why  was the feature   film converted  into a digital series?

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It was just too elaborate to turn into a movie, to fit into a movie. It was only extremely sensible of them to turn it into a show because it deserves that much screen time.

What  was it like working with Vijay Sethupathi?

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With Vijay sir, it’s been a pleasure. And I want to see how people receive the show. He’s a fantastic actor who has always rediscovered himself and given people completely different experiences when he has come on the big screen. So it’s a privilege to have him on the show. And I had a blast working with him.

Shahid, it’s been twenty years since you started as a leading man. How do you look back on your career so far?

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I feel very fortunate to still be here. And I feel grateful that people find my work relevant. I feel there’s a lot more that I would like to do. And I think I am as charged as I was at the age of 21, giving my first shot, as I am today. And I think that’s the best part of the entire journey, that I still am as excited and as curious to get on that film floor and give my next shot. I think that’s what drives any artist.

Tell me about your forthcoming projects?

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I’ve got Farzi coming out on  10 Feb. And then there’s a movie with Ali Abbas  Zafar, which is an action thriller, a  slick action fun film, which will come out in the middle of this year. And then there’s a high-concept quirky love story that I’m doing with Maddock Films, which is directed by a new director. His name is Amit Joshi. It has me and Kriti Sanon in it, and Dharam ji and Dimple ma’am and various other very talented people.

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