Dec 032017

Bollywood actor Akshaye Khanna, known for his skilled acting, says for the longest time he had a fear of facing the media. However, he now understands its importance in the business of cinema

Bollywood actor Akshaye Khanna, known for his skilled acting, says for the longest time he had a fear of facing the media. However, he now understands its importance in the business of cinema. Akshaye, son of late actor Vinod Khanna, maintained the image of a recluse for a long time in his career which started with Himalaya Putra in 1997.

Akshaye Khanna
Akshaye Khanna

Asked why, Akshaye told IANS: “I do not know why. Quite wrongly, for the longest time, I thought that the media people — all the journalists — are here to criticize me, to pull me down and to put me under a bad light. So, I kept avoiding… and I maintained a distance.” He has overcome it. “I sat down and analysed the role of media to promote an art form. Now I know that you people are here as our collaborator, to promote a film, so that it can reach out to the larger audience.

“I think with time, age and experience, we understand things better. Fearing the media and press was one such wrong thing on my part. Now I am comfortable talking to journalists. Even the involvement of media in our lives has changed. Media plays an important part in the business of cinema, I have learnt it,” he added. Akshaye has acted in films like “Border”, “Taal”, “Dil Chahta Hai”, “Deewangee”, “Humraaz”, “Gandhi, My Father” and “Race”. This year, he has featured in two films — “Mom” and “Ittefaq”, in both of which he played an investigating officer. He says he treated the parts differently. Has his approach towards judging a script changed with time?

“No, it has not. I think storytelling is the oldest art form of all. If a story is interesting, whether it is a mother telling a bedtime story to her child, an author telling it in the form of a novel, a filmmaker saying it on celluloid… If the story either engages you or entertains you, you will watch it. When as an actor I judge a script, which means, a story, my parameter is also the same,” he said.

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Nov 122017

Akshaye Khanna finds himself facing the heat from Delhi’s health department as the actor is seen smoking on the posters and ads of his recent release, Ittefaq. The officials have also issued a notice to Shah Rukh Khan and Karan Johar, the producers of the mystery thriller.

Akshaye Khanna
Akshaye Khanna

It reads: “The promotional material poster of the film being publicised in media is in gross violation of Section 5 of the Cigarette & Other Tobacco Products Act 2003. Bollywood films have a lasting effect and influence the youth in a major way.” Abhay Chopra’s directorial venture released on November 3.

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Nov 042017

Director: Abhay Chopra
Actors: Akshaye Khanna, Siddharth Malhotra, Sonakshi Sinha
Rating: 3 stars

It’d take a lot of guts to put together a tight-skinned, song-less mainstream film, starring top A-listers, and to top that, begin the picture with a wholly unrelated, trippy, psychedelic, multi-coloured, rotating animation stinging your eyes in a dark hall for almost three minutes at a stretch, even before the frickin’ opening credits have begun to roll! Wait, what was that for? Well, just!

Sonakshi Sinha and Sidharth Malhotra in  a still from the song ‘Raat Baki’

That, incidentally, was Yash Chopra’s Ittefaq (produced by BR Chopra) from back in 1969, starring Rajesh Khanna (at the peak of his career), no less. This is a fun-fact to bear in mind, for millennials who either unfairly believe Yash Chopra was simply the ‘king of romance’, or that experimentation in popular Hindi cinema began with the late ‘90s brat-pack—Anurag Kashyap, etc—viscerally inclined towards the dark side.

This film, produced by Shah Rukh Khan, Karan Johar, among others, marks the directorial debut of BR Chopra’s grandson, Abhay, and so far as thrillers go, the first thing it gets right is that it packs up in under two hours flat (an hour and 45 minutes, to precise). Which is perfect duration to give the screen your undivided, unwavering attention for a whodunit that otherwise might leave you with more questions than it answers. Before your mind wanders in those directions, you’ve had your fill (of the popcorn and the pic), and you’re good to go.

I’m going to set aside the ItteFAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) you’re likely to have, since that would inevitably mean giving the movie away. Much like Hitchcock’s Psycho, the promotion of this picture itself is pretty much hinged on urging audiences not to reveal the end—it’s the only one they’ve got!

As for the beginning, all you need to know is there’s a cop (Akshaye Khanna, in superb form), looking to solve two murders that ittefaq se, or coincidentally, to the point of disbelief, take place over the same night, and involves one person (Siddharth Malhotra) being present at both crime scenes. The two murders, or if they were even murders in the first place, on the face of it, have nothing to do with each other, except that in one case (a hotel room), a wife is found dead (Malhotra’s), while in the other (a super fancy apartment), a husband (Sonakshi Sinha’s).

Malhotra plays a popular crime-fiction writer, based in the UK. Looking at him, the cop immediately says, “Hey, but you don’t look like a writer.” Well he doesn’t, but then again, who does? He’s a quiet sort of bloke though, at the centre of a murder mystery that, as per diktat, has to be solved in three days, no more. Which is as long as this film needs to pack audiences in theatres and walk away with a hit. Does this movie hit you in the way it should though? Honestly, you wish it wasn’t so overtly production-designed, even sanitized—and there was more ‘Mumbai’ in a movie so ‘Bombay’—for a grimy thriller. But it keeps you thoroughly glued to your seat, and that, for a pay-off, is pretty much worth whatever you paid for.

Thankfully I don’t remember Yash Chopra’s Ittefaq that this is a remake of (poor memory has its benefits). It’s available on YouTube (I rightly stopped right after the pre-movie psychedelia!). It was evidently inspired by a Guajarati play Dhoommas, which in turn was based on the play Signpost To Murder, that had already been made into a film by the same name. Given the number of hands the first script has passed, with sufficient changes made each time (I’m told, in the beginning, there was only one murder, instead of two), it’d be fair to consider this a fully original version by now!

I also don’t remember the last time I watched a full-on, no-nonsense, whodunit Hindi mainstream murder mystery in a theatre, with no way to talk about it but to urge you to see it, because that’s the only way we can discuss it any further. I think you should check it out, just so we can take this conversation offline, to start with!

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Sep 162017

‘Dil Chahta Hai’ is one of those films that changed the way we look at and think about films. It not only became a cult flick but was appreciated and loved by everyone. The film gave us friendship goals and also taught us a lot about life. Still, when we remember DCH, it makes us all nostalgic and brings a smile on our faces.

Starring Aamir Khan, Akshaye Khanna and Saif Ali Khan, the film revolved around the lives of three friends and its complexities, giving it all a realistic feel. Well, one of the reasons many youngsters could connect to the film was because the story of Akash, Siddharth, and Sameer was so damn relatable. A lot of us have gone through what those characters went through.

Dil Chahta Hai (c) Giphy

But have you ever thought about how ‘Dil Chahta Hai’ turned out if some other actors were cast in place of Saif Ali Khan and Aamir Khan?

Not many know this fact, but Farhan Khan had a very different cast in mind than what we saw on-screen. I am sure the thought of seeing someone else as Akash and Sameer already makes us cringe!

Just Recently, Farhan appeared on Neha Dhupia’s podcast show “No Filter Neha” and revealed a lot about our all-time favourite film. And seriously, we thank god that some of his first choices never made it onscreen.

Farhan revealed that not Aamir Khan but Akshaye Khanna was always his first choice for the film.

DilChahtaHai(c) Twitter

“Akshaye Khanna was always the first choice. He was the first guy I ever met for that film. And I actually met him at that time because I wanted to cast him in the role that Aamir eventually played. So I spoke to him for the role that was Aakash,” Farhan disclosed.

Did you know that the actor-director had an entirely different star cast in mind for the film, something that we can’t even think of.

Dil Chahta Hai (c) Giphy

“I wanted him (Akshaye Khanna) to play Aakash. I wanted Hrithik as Sameer and I wanted Abhishek as Sid. That was my ideal casting.”

Looks like even the gods weren’t in favour of Farhan’s dream cast. Well, aren’t we just glad that things turned out differently?



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Jul 072017

sridevi-janviRavi Udyawar, who is making his debut with Sridevis “Mom”, says the veteran actress elder daughter Jhanvi suggested Pakistani actor Adnan Siddiquis name for the role of a father in the film.

“Jhanvi is the one who recommended Adnan Siddiqui’s name while we were casting. We were looking for somebody for a father’s role and Jhanvi said, ‘I’ve seen this actor called Adnan Siddiqui, who has done ‘A Mighty Heart’ with Angelina Jolie. I had also watched that film, so I looked up for him and we cast him in the film,” Udyawar told IANS over phone from Mumbai.

Besides Adnan, “Mom” also features Pakistani actress Sajal Ali as Sridevi’s daughter in the film.

“It was amazing working with them (Adnan and Sajal), they are fine actors. It was important to cast the daughter as she had to connect well with Sridevi’s character. So, they have done a brilliant job,” said Udyawar, who has previously worked as an art director, producer-director on television entertainers and has also directed commercials and music videos.

Besides them, “Mom”, releasing on Friday, also features Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Akshaye Khanna.

Udyawar says the idea behind making “Mom” was to “explore mother-daughter bond and put conflict into that”.

“I really love the intricacies of relations where things are not spoken, but you can feel the problems in it. I am trying to give an answer to the question, ‘What it really means to be a mother?’ It’s a fictional story, but a relevant story in today’s times,” he said.
The process of the film’s making started in 2014 when Udyawar met Sridevi’s husband producer Boney Kapoor.

“We discussed some ideas and I liked one of them which talked about a mother and her daughter. I always wanted Sridevi ma’am as the protagonist and he said, ‘You have to pitch it to her and if she likes it then we will make it.’

“I showed the script to ma’am and she loved the idea and we started shooting,” Udyawar recalled.

How was it working with Sridevi?
“As it was her 300th film and my first one, there was a lot of responsibility looking at the kind of work that she has done. Yes, there was pressure on me, but working with her is amazing,” he said.

“After all these years, even now when she comes on set, she is like a newcomer — as if she is starting it again. She is really excited and enthusiastic about scenes and tries to push her limits as an actress. That’s something that we can learn from her.

“She herself is a mother, so I am sure people will connect with her when they will see her. Although it’s not her own story, she must have added some personal touch to her character,” he added.

Udyawar considers himself “lucky” to have got a chance to work with Sridevi, Nawazuddin and Akshaye in his debut film. He has already started thinking about his next project,

“If given a chance I would love to direct her (Sridevi) again. I will like it if she acts in a comedy film directed by me. That would be great. She has done amazing work earlier in comedy. She is still the same. She is fantastic while doing that,” Udyawar concluded.

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Jul 072017

Akshaye-KhannaSridevi worked with Vinod Khanna in the 1989 film “Chandni”. Back then and even later, she never thought she will end up acting with his son Akshaye Khanna, with whom she has shared the frame for “Mom”.

“I used to meet Akshaye on the sets of ‘Chandni’ while working with Vinod Khanna, but I never imagined that I would ever work with him,” Sridevi said in an interview to IANS here.

“He (Akshaye) is a focussed and dignified actor, and you come across only a very few actors like him. It was wonderful to work with him,” added the actress, who was in the capital for the film’s promotion.

It is after a leap of five years that the 53-year-old actress has returned to acting in Bollywood. She last regaled her fans in a mother’s role in “English Vinglish”, and she is once again playing the role of a mother in “Mom” — but with a difference.

“For two years, I was enjoying the success of “English Vinglish” (2012). I got many scripts but that spontaneity of saying ‘yes’ did not strike me. The script of ‘Mom’ script really touched me and moved me. So I decided to work on it,” Sridevi added.

The story of “Mom”, directed by Ravi Udyawar, talks about how far a mother can go for the sake of her children. It also features critically acclaimed actor Nawazuddin Siddiqui in a key role.

“It’s a universal subject… This mother character is strong and she is not on the softer side,” said Sridevi, who “really enjoyed” how the film gave her a chance to portray an “intense, emotional and genuine” part.

A mother of two daughters — Jhanvi and Khushi, how is she as a mom off-screen?
“I am not possessive, but a very protective mother. Me and my daughters are more like friends, so we share and discuss everything.
“Mother is a mother — everywhere it’s the same — the concern, the worries always remain,” she said, adding that the story of “Mom” is very relevant in today’s time.

The film is produced by her husband Boney Kapoor.

She calls him “the most passionate and involved producer I have come across”.

“Not just in financing the movie, but in each step he was there for the actors and technicians as well to fulfil their views towards the movie,” said Sridevi.

The evergreen beauty, who worked as a child artiste first and then took on leading roles starting 1976, has worked across Hindi, Telugu, Malayalam, and Kannada cinema. Loved for her expressive acting and dancing skills, she has delivered memorable performances in films like “Himmatwala”, “Mr. India”, “Sadma”, “Nagina”, “ChaalBaaz” and “Lamhe”.

“Mom” will release on Friday.

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Jul 072017

“Jab galat aur bahut galat mein se chunana ho, toh aap kya chunenge?” (When you have to choose between wrong and very wrong, what would you choose?”). This question posed by Sridevi stays with you long after you leave the theatre. The intensity of this one line is so deep that it keeps echoing in your head. 

‘Mom’, starring Sridevi, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, and Akshaye Khanna isn’t just a film that entertains you, but it is a film that moves you and brings back the reality that we try to shun time and again. From making you restless to giving you goosebumps, ‘Mom’ is a film that you end up liking despite its predictable plot. 

‘Mom' Review: Sridevi and Nawazuddin's Performances Definitely Make It A Must Watch© ZeeStudios

The whole premise of the film revolves around Ary Sabrwala (Sajal Ali) who is gang raped by her classmate Mohit and his friends. This shatters the lives of Devaki Sabarwal (Sridevi, Arya’s mother) and her family. But due to the “loss” of evidence, these culprits are declared innocent by the court. Devaki decides to take revenge! What’s left for the audience is to see if she succeeds in doing what our justice system failed to do? 

From portraying a strained relationship between a teen and her stepmother to the story after her sexual assault, Ravi Udyawar’s directorial debut brilliantly captures the myriad of emotions associated with a dark and deeply disturbing topic and it will keep on the edge of your seat. 

Saying anything else about the plot of the film is as good as giving you a spoiler. But we can surely drop some hints on Nawazuddin Siddiqui’s character. He plays a detective named DK who helps Sridevi. You also have Crime Branch Officer, Francis, (Akshaye Khanna) who has his own set of suspicions and is tracking the case on his own. 

To sum it up, here are the reasons why you should watch ‘Mom’ this weekend.

1. The film proves that Sridevi is one of the finest actors around and no matter how far she stays away from the silver screen she is just fabulous when she is on it. She carries the whole movie on her shoulders and delivers a performance for the ages. She isn’t playing a character, she IS that character. 

2. What can we say about Nawaz? Has this man ever disappointed us? You give him a character and he gets into the skin of that role. He provides some much-required humour in the film amidst all the drama and tension. He is just outstanding! 

3. Watching Akshaye onscreen after such a long time is a treat. We’re just wondering why we don’t see him more often? 

4. Saljal and Adnan (Arya’s father) mark their Bollywood debut with ‘Mom’ and there have impressed us with their acting skills. 

‘Mom' Review: Sridevi and Nawazuddin's Performances Definitely Make It A Must Watch© ZeeStudios

5. A R Rahman’s music and background score are truly exceptional and add so much to the film.

6. From direction to Anay Goswamy’s cinematography, the film keeps us focused on the screen right up to the end. 

7. The film justifies the famous line, “Bhagan har jagah nahi ho sakta….isliye usne Maa banayi hai.” (God couldn’t be everywhere so he created a mother). 

8. Sridevi and Nawaz sharing screen space together just takes this film to another level. We bow down to them! 

However, the only problem with the film is its climax and it is sadly, a little too predictable and gets too dramatic giving it a completely mainstream and dull end. But apart from those last 20 minutes, this film worth every penny. Do not miss this hard hitting story. Check it out this weekend.  

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Jul 032017

Nawazuddin SiddiquiNawazuddin Siddiqui

Actor Nawazuddin Siddiqui, a huge fan of his ‘Mom’ co-star Sridevi, says if given a chance to feature in a remake of any of her past films, it would have to be ‘Mr. India’. In an interview to IANS here, Nawazuddin was asked which character would he like to play in a remake of any of Sridevi’s movies.

He said: “There are many movies of Sridevi which I love, like ‘Lamhe’, ‘Chandni’, ‘Mr. India’, ‘English Vinglish’… But I would love to play the role of Mr. India in the remake of the film,” Nawazuddin said. ‘Mr. India’, directed by Shekhar Kapur, told the tale of a poor but big-hearted man who takes orphans into his home. After discovering his scientist father’s invisibility device, he rises to the occasion and fights to save his children and all of India from the clutches of a villain.

Anil Kapoor famously played Arun Verma aka ‘Mr. India’ in the movie, and Nawazuddin Siddiquiwants to step into his shoes. The film was produced by Sridevi’s husband Boney Kapoor. There has been much talk around a ‘Mr. India’ sequel over the past few years.

Mom’ a mystery-thriller directed by Ravi Udyavar stars Sridevi in the lead role along with Akshaye Khanna. The film will hit the screens on July 7

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Jun 232017

The second trailer of the Sridevi starrer ‘Mom’is out and this suspense-thriller just got more interesting. Sridevi is back with vengeance and she makes sure that all your eyes are on her. The latest trailer for the film professes, ‘Nobody knows what a mother is feeling’. 

This one minute video introduces us to a very brave and courageous side of Devki (Sridevi) who is ready to go to any length to save her daughter, Arya (Pakistani actress, Sajal Ali). However, just like the previous trailer, we still don’t know that what exactly has happened to her daughter, which does really pique our curiosity. 

‘Mom' Trailer 2:  Sridevi And Nawazuddin Siddiqui Are Giving Us Some Creepy Chills© YouTube

It is well established that the film is about a fight is for a daughter who refuses to call Devki her mother and addresses her as ‘maám’. But Sridevi being a genuine mother will go out of her way to take revenge for her daughter, ruthlessly.

The second trailer has all the potential to give you chills. The highlight of the video is the dialogue interaction between mysterious Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Sridevi. Nothing much about Nawaz’s role has been revealed but the film makers are cleverly using this character as an asset in all the promos. Akshaye Khanna makes a small appearance too. But it is Nawaz who definitely steals the show.

‘Mom' Trailer 2:  Sridevi And Nawazuddin Siddiqui Are Giving Us Some Creepy Chills© YouTube

Brace yourself and get ready for some goosebumps. After watching the second trailer, it wouldn’t be wrong to say that it is one of the best trailers we have seen in a while. In short, it looks like a film that gets made just once a year. 

Directed by Ravi Udyawar, the film is set to hit theatres on July 7.

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