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Zee 5 Big New Year’s Bungle

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Zee5 has released  two films today Wah Zindagi  and Turtle which seem to be one work halved into two. Turtle tells  the same  story of the same  drought-stricken  village  that Wah Zindagi carries in . The cast for both the  films is the same except that the talented Naveen Kasturia(who  most  assuredly deserves a better  deal than this)  is only part of Wah Zindagi.

Looking at this  half of this preposterous ‘slice’ of life, Wah Zindagi opens in a parched village in Rajasthan which has  known no  rain for years. A  little boy is considered manhoos(inauspicious) and  driven out of  the village , but only after  undergoing  a child marriage.  The bride and groom grow up to be Naveen Kasturia  and Plabita Borthakur, talented actors who go through the  film like headless chickens in search of a pot to simmer in.

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I felt sorry  for both actors who are given dialogues that sound like they were slogans  stolen from the back of autorickshaws.

Dinesh S Yadav  is credited with the direction  of both  films. He must have worked against all odds to create something so deplorably  bereft of  an innerlife . There is  no centre to the plot.  It moves in unexpected ways, and  not in a good way. It’s just not sure where  it  is going.

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Sadly  the  whole presentation is not only dated, it also  lacks coherence  , with the hero  selling a indigenous  anti-China message  in a plot that seems  way too ambitious  for its own good. The talented Vijay Raaz shows up at some point as a town’s  spokesperson being bullied by  his mother for not  being married  even though he is 35 . Poor Vijay Raaz cringes  through   the part.I am not  too sure why he agreed to be part  of this scrambled film.

More importantly why is Zee5  releasing this  4-year  old  film now, when all the actors had  probably forgotten about it. What a startling wakeup call for  the New Year!

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Turtle,the companion piece is marginally better than Wah Zindagi. It features  Sanjay Mishra as a  village patriarch  struggling to  eke out  water for a famine-ridden village:  yes, the same  village as  the one in Wah Zindagi. The drought is  contagious: it not only affects village  but also the  two films(actually one cut into two, for reasons  best known to the sagacious OTT platform) .

The aridity  of   cogent or  even coherent  ideas runs through both films.Sanjay Mishra  could be  considered the saving grace of the graceless double-bill.  But  he has precious little  to do in Wah Zindagi and  is all over the place  in Turtle.He looks  uncertain about not only the situation on-hand but  civilization in general.

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Do  yourself  a favour . If you can’t find anything better to do for this New Years weekend,then extract your nails, one  by one, with  a plier. Less painful.

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Faraaz : We Are The Champions

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Faraaz

Faraaz

Directed  by Hansal Mehta

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Rating: *** ½

 Compared  with  Hansal Mehta’s other two  films on  global terrorism ,Shahid and OmertaFaraaz is a mellower more  lenient  and  forgiving work. It is  predominantly  a discourse on true Islam and  its subversion by  terrorists as embodied in the two main characters Faraaz(Zahan kapoor) and  Nibras(Aditya Rawal).

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The  dialogues between the two are sharp and relevant. Most importantly these dialogues  never overstay their welcome, hence the film, though largely confined to a café  held  hostage  by a bunch of misguided  youngsters, never gets verbose.Instead Hansal Mehta brings in a sense of reined-in anxiety.

The agony  of  those  outside the  sealed café, whether the government officials  or parents of  the hostages(Juhi Babbar Soni, Amir Ali are  both superb , though the former has a  far more dramatic scope than the  latter) is given as  much  priority as  the  terrorized  hostages  inside the  café.

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Unlike  the several 26/11   films, the latest being the Adivi Sesh starrer Major, Faraaz is not too keen on generating thrills out of a  real-life tragedy. Hansal Mehta  doesn’t  edit out the brutality and suddenness of the attack, but  he  does humanize  the  young terrorists , specially Nibras, played with compelling restraint  by Aditya Rawal S/O the extraordinary Paresh.

 In  the  years to come,  young Rawal will be an actor to watch.

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Faraaz has  a lot of young talent to galvanize  the  story of one  blood-bathed night in  a  café in  Bangladesh . Many young  people went for an evening of recreation and  conversation. Several  never came out. This  is the story of one  braveheart who said he won’t run for his life without  his friends.

It’s  a disturbing moving tale of true heroism told with feeling rather than flourish.

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Nutella India signs Bollywood Superstar Ranveer Singh to promote the brand across India

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Ranveer Singh

Nutella, the original and popular hazelnut cocoa spread brand of Ferrero, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of sweet-packaged products, has signed Bollywood superstar Ranveer Singh as its brand endorser for India market.

By coming on board as a brand representative for India, the superstar will promote the Nutella brand across digital and offline marketing channels as well as be an active part of their various campaigns.

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Nutella® India made the announcement in collaboration with the pan-India star Ranveer Singh’s social pages through an entertaining video, where the actor is seen engaging in a rapid-fire round on ‘what comes to my mind when….’ and proclaims his love for the brand.

 Ranveer Singh comments, “I am excited to announce my association with Nutella®. Nutella® has always held a special place in my heart. I’ve been a fan ever since I was a child and my love for it has only grown over the years. I am stoked to be part of the Nutella journey in India and help bring alive their vision of making tasty breakfast and desserts.”

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The Bollywood star, whose love for Nutella is no secret, will be launching the World Nutella® Day celebrations this year with fans.

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Rakesh Roshan: “Everything I  Know  About Acting & Direction, I Learnt From K Vishwanathji”

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Rakesh Roshan

The  mighty moviemaker K Vishwanath who  was to Telugu cinema what  Satyajit Ray  was  to Bengali cinema,  passed  away on February 2,leaving behind a luminous  legacy.

Acto-director Rakesh Roshan  who had  the  rare honour of working  in four projects  with  Vishwanath recalls him with tremendous respect. “Everything I know  about acting and  direction I learnt from  him. He was  a stalwart , an institution, and so passionate about his work. I had the privilege  of being directed  by him in two films Aurat Aurat Aurat  and Shubh Kamna. He would show  his actors  exactly what he  wanted, down to the minutest gesture.His  understanding  of the medium was  extraordinary.”

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Rakesh Roshan remembers how  he  invited Vishwanath to make films for him. “I produced  two films that Vishwanathji directed. One  was Kaamchor, the other was Jaag Utha  Insaan.While the  first was  a runaway success, the second didn’t do well.”

Speaking on how Kaamchor happened Rakesh recalls, “Vishwanathji and I used to meet socially in Hyderabad.We  wanted to work together. But we had  no script.One evening when we met he  looked very depressed. When I asked him what was wrong, he  said his new release Shubodayam  (in Telugu) had  flopped. That  night I went to see Shobodayam  in  a theatre in Hyderabad. The  next morning I  told Vishwanathji, ‘We’ve  found our script’. I told him where  the  storytelling in Shubhodayam  had gone wrong.We corrected the script and that’s how Kaamchor  happened. Although the entire story revolved  around me,  it was Jaya Prada who benefited  from Kaamchor.”

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About the beautiful  Jaag Utha Insaan , Rakesh Roshan admits  bluntly, “It  flopped because  of miscasting. During those days Sridevi was known  in Hindi cinema as a glamorous heroine. We cast her as classical dancer. Mithun Chakraborty had  the image  of  Gun Master G-9 and  Disco Dancer.We cast him as  a downtrodden  underdog. I was  known  for Kaamchor and  other citybred characters,I was cast as a Brahmin pandit.With other actors Jaag Utha  Insaan would have been a superhit”

Rakesh met K Vishwanath six years  ago. “We were shooting for Krissh in Hyderabad. He came on  the set several  times. We  had so much to say to each other. After that we lost contact. He was  very very busy with many projects. K Vishwanathji lived  for his cinema.”

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As His Latest Work Faraaz Releases Today,  Hansal Mehta Speaks To Subhash  K Jha On The Exciting Times Ahead

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Faraaz

Hansal, Faraaz is  your fifteenth directorial  venture. How does it feel to have come so far  with so many  milestones behind you?

don’t count my films. Genuinely. Every film is a new beginning. Every film has its share of uncertainty and nerves. Perhaps it is also because of the choices I make. There is no scope for either complacency or me carrying a false sense of security. I’m not complaining,though. Living life on the edge keeps me going.

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I  consider  Faraaz to be  a part of your great trilogy on  the dynamics  of terrorism, after  Shahid and  Omerta…where do you see Faraaz  positioned  in your creative ambit?

Thank you , Subhash.Faraaz is a film I’m very, very proud of. It was a challenge to pull off, a tough journey but creatively a very satisfying one. As Rajkummar Rao told me after watching the film , the Trilogy is complete now. Time to explore new stories and new characters. And finish post-production for all the exciting things that we shot for over the past eighteen months.

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Out of curiosity which of your films  have given you  the most creative  satisfaction?

Almost every film Shahid onwards has been immensely satisfying , both in terms of process and the outcome. Save a couple that I need not name. But even those I own for all their flaws, failures, deficiencies and redeeming qualities. But Faraaz has been a great process. I’ve made so many new friends in this journey and found some of the most exciting colleagues that I’m proud to introduce through the film. Writers Raghav Kakkar and Kashyap Kapoor (who co-wrote the film with Ritesh Shah), Cinematographer Pratham Mehta, Sound Designer Mandar Kulkarni, Editor Amitesh Mukherjee, co-producers Sahil, Maz and Sakshi – all of whom have given their blood and sweat to make this film happen. And of course Anubhav Sinha one of my oldest friends in the industry who backed me in telling this story just the way I wanted it. So yes, Faraaz has been satisfying and also filled me with a deep sense of gratitude. I must have done something right, no?

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Of course. Faraaz has a lot of young new actors in it. Tell me  about the  process  of  casting in this film? It couldn’t have been easy since there are dozens  of faces?

That was the challenge and the joy of making this film. I worked on the story during Chhalaang and I always knew that it would be a return to my indie roots for Faraaz. The film had to be made. And it needed fresh faces, bereft of image or trappings of stardom. A huge credit to Mukesh Chhabra who has a huge role to play in my filmography since Shahid. We constantly challenge each other and never ever give up. Casting is a process I really enjoy and finding the right talent to bring characters alive is something I thrive upon. Faraaz has an amazing ensemble. Right from Aditya Rawal , Zahan Kapoor, Juhi Babbar to every small character in the film including the officers, parents and the hostages this one is a triumph of honest casting , casting without an eye on profits, simply in service of the film, of the character.

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Faraaz is  about a terror attack in Bangladesh?how  do you respond to those who want to know, why Bangladesh?

In our research of this dastardly attack we realised that here was a story that had a larger message and something very universal to share. Misguided youth taking up violence in the name of religion or a parent’s love for her child or the unexpected bravery from an unlikely hero are themes that cannot be limited by borders, nationality or language. These stories must be told. They must transcend the limitations of perceived local relevance – particularly when our polarised times need such stories to be told to a larger audience.

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In 2020, your OTT series Scam 1992  proved to  b e game changer. Do you see Scam as a turning point  in your career?

I see Scam 1992 as an enabler. We did not expect its humongous success and to say it did not change things would be fake humility. It gave me back a lot of things I had lost in the years before it released. Including some money. And the courage to tell the stories I desperately wanted to. Also exceptional friends and collaborators like Sameer Nair and his Studio Applause.

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Your films  and your  attitude to cinema has always  been fearless. How  do you  cope with the  threat of growing intolerance in our society  vis a  vis your  convictions as a  filmmaker?

It is not new to me. Remember Dil Pe Mat Le Yaar in 2000? The only difference now is that then I was deeply affected by the intolerance to a point of self destruction. Now I channelise my despair and anger into telling relevant stories and through them taking on those who have made it a business to be intolerant.

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