May 032018
 

It’s a shame really that Omerta lacks depth, never giving an insight into Omar’s criminal designs

Omerta
Rajkummar Rao in a still from Omerta

Omerta
U/A, Drama
Director: Hansal Mehta
Starring: Rajkummar Rao
Rating: Ratings

In a scene in the final act, Hansal Mehta laid open the pivotal reason why he attempted a movie on Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh. A bunch of Pakistani officers who have to arrest Omar for killing Wall Street Journal scribe Daniel Pearl, put it perfectly – You have the making of leader; you are an educated man who can command respect unlike scores of illiterate Jihadis. Which I believe would have been the trigger point for Mehta to consider making a movie on the man. Tracing the journey of this London School of Economics graduate, Mehta walks us through the incidents that could as the highlights of his eventful life – Bosnian genocide, his arrest in India after a failed attempt at kidnapping foreign tourists, his involvement in Kandahar attack, 9/11 and eventually the brutal execution of Pearl. It would have been dreadful if Mehta staged it as a cautionary tale; understandably he didn’t want to glorify Omar. But it isn’t the best thing that at the end of the film, you don’t quite know who Omar is. A large part of the problem lies in the fact that Mehta or his writer Mukul Dev never delve into how a seemingly well-raised, educated man turned to fundamentalism. But skimming through incidents is how Mehta approaches the character. Omar’s ideals are never elucidated; his involvement in 9/11 and Kandahar are conveyed in background narration, sans dialogues, and his marriage to a trophy girl from the creme de le creme of Pak circles is gratuitous. Mehta makes no effort to analyse the psyche of this dreaded criminal. In a folly, I even assumed that Omar was smitten by the rush of power when he tells his Abba (father), how much people respect him.

A fair share of work is, thus, on the shoulders of Rajkummar Rao. You buy into how earnestly committed he is to his part. Never rising above the script, but filling large loopholes of the screenplay with his nuanced act. He demands one to remain invested in the film. The turn of the character from a naive boy consumed by hatred, indoctrinated into Jihad by training to an icy, cold terrorist is reflected in Rao’s demeanor. Of course, he nails it in the scene where he murders Pearl. With a cannibalistic thirst, Rao thrusts the body with a shovel, eventually beheading the scribe and holding up his cut head with a visible satisfaction, will make chills run down your spine.

It’s a shame really that Omerta lacks depth, never giving an insight into Omar’s criminal designs. As a thriller, it’s pacy and yet, distinctly half-baked and stiff. I assure you, this movie could be about one of most dreaded men of our times but this film tells us nothing about the man that a quick google search wouldn’t. As for Rao, a friend rightly puts it – He was good even in Shaadi Mein Zaroor Aana; what’s special about this then?

View gallery: Rakul Preet Singh, Saiyami Kher, Bhumi Pednekar watch Omerta

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Apr 292018
 

His forthcoming film, the intense drama “Omerta” that releases on May 4, traces the life of British-Pakistani terrorist Omar Saeed Sheikh. Is it a biopic?

Hansal Mehta
Hansal Mehta

Whether it is “Shahid”, “Aligarh”, “Simran”, “Bose: Dead/Alive” or the upcoming “Omerta”, National Award-winning filmmaker Hansal Mehta seems to have found his space in telling stories that are based on real life characters or incidents. He attempts to express his “individual voice” through these narratives.

“I am glad if people also find such stories interesting, as I do. But it is not conscious. I have my individual voice and that reflects in my films. Not necessarily everything translates into acceptance, but I try to maintain my voice in the stories that I tell,” Mehta told IANS in an interview. His forthcoming film, the intense drama “Omerta” that releases on May 4, traces the life of British-Pakistani terrorist Omar Saeed Sheikh. Is it a biopic?

“Yes, it is an unauthorised biopic. You can say that,” the filmmaker said with a smile. Given that “Omerta” tells the tale of a man who was involved in terror attacks in recent history, including the Mumbai terror strike and the brutal beheading of American journalist Daniel Pearl – and possibly the 9/11 attacks — it is understood that the character will be dark. Nobody is a born terrorist. And so, the question arises: Has Mehta tried to humanise Omar Saeed Sheikh? “Being evil and negative is (a) human characteristic that we all have somewhere or the other. But we are not brainwashed like Omar. What Omar is doing is something that he strongly believes in and his ideology has its own logic. “The reason why the story of Omar scares us is because he is so real. He is a murderer, he is evil; and (if) such a man… comes in front of you, it would be spine-chilling. So we kept it that real… He doesn’t dance or eat like a don… things that we get to see in regular Hindi films. All his actions are coming from a certain conviction,” Mehta explained.

The film premiered at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival and received a good response. Asked if the theatrical release and box office numbers worry him, Mehta said: “Yes, we have been travelling with the film since last September and everywhere people are talking about the impact that the story is creating in the minds of the audience. “I just hope that the way the international audience has engaged with the story, our Indian audience feels the same.” “Honestly, when people talk to me about box office numbers, my first and most important concern is to recover the money. Once that is done, the film will live its own life in the theatre. The audience will do that for us. But I want the cost of the film, marketing, everything that is invested should be recovered from the theatrical release,” said Mehta. Starting his career in television, Mehta made his debut as a film director with “Dil Pe Mat Le Yaar!!”.

His movie “Shahid” bagged him a National Award for Best Direction. It is interesting to observe how actor Rajkummar Rao, who played the protagonist in “Shahid” and now features as the terrorist in “Omerta”, has found a new dimension in his career after collaborating with Mehta. “Raj is evolving with each film and we can all see that. But I noticed how involved he is with each of the characters he plays. I remember how he was trying to pick up the Malayalam accent to play Deepu Sebastian (for the film ‘Aligarh’). Since Omar Sheikh is a very dark character, I think he went through a certain emotional transformation that we can see in his performance.

“There was a certain aggression that I noticed in him even when the camera was not rolling. That’s Raj for you,” said the director of his actor. The filmmaker, however, said that when he developed the script of “Omerta”, Rajkummar was not on his mind. “I wanted to make the film in 2007. So, basically, the story has lived with me for the last so many years. At that time, no one was interested in making this film, and I did not know Raj back then. In those years, people did not have much faith in me because of the kind of films that I was making. “However, I think everything has its own time. Raj came into my life during ‘Shahid’ and then he enabled me to make this film,” said Mehta, who is all set to do another film with the actor.

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Apr 242018
 

After CBFC demanded several cuts, Omerta director Hansal Mehta glad with the reviewed decision

Rajkummar Rao in Omerta
Rajkummar Rao in Omerta

After the Central Board of Film Certification demanded “a series of cuts” in Rajkummar Rao’s Omerta – which is based on British terrorist of Pakistani descent Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh’s life – director Hansal Mehta was forced to knock on the door of the Revising Committee.

“I had gone to the Board asking for an A certificate, but the Examining Committee demanded a series of cuts. I even lost track of the number. The Revising Committee was understanding. They only asked for two edits,” says Mehta. He reveals that one of the demanded cuts involves a scene showcasing full frontal nudity. “It’s a violent sex sequence which they found too rough for general viewing. The scene is not about sex, but aims at depicting the mental state of my protagonist.”

Hansal Mehta
Hansal Mehta

The second sequence, he adds, is one that showcases the protagonist urinating in prison while the national anthem plays in the background. “That, apparently, is nconstitutional. So we had to let it go,” says Mehta, adding that the cuts don’t hamper the narrative.

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Mar 202018
 

Filmmaker Hansal Mehta purchased real-life footage from a number of sources for his film Omerta starring Rajkummar Rao as the lead face

Hansal Mehta
Hansal Mehta

Filmmaker Hansal Mehta says that to make his film “Omerta”, which is based on terrorist Omar Saeed Sheikhs life, as authentic as possible, he purchased real-life footage from a number of sources. Footage of the Kandahar attack, media footage following the 9/11 attack in the US and other clips were acquired from a whole range of sources by the film’s team.

“When it comes to the film, everything has to be credible. To ensure we kept it as real as possible, we purchased the actual footage. The film covers various crucial events from world history. I had to buy these videos from different agencies. They were bought in bits and pieces through the years,” Mehta said in a statement.

“Omerta” was shot in real locations across London and India. It is woven around some of the most bloody terror attacks, including the 9/11 attack and the beheading of journalist Daniel Pearl. Presented by Swiss Entertainment and Karma Media, produced by Nahid Khan and directed by Mehta, “Omerta” stars Rajkummar Rao. It will release on April 20.

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This story has been sourced from a third party syndicated feed, agencies. Mid-day accepts no responsibility or liability for its dependability, trustworthiness, reliability and data of the text. Mid-day management/mid-day.com reserves the sole right to alter, delete or remove (without notice) the content in its absolute discretion for any reason whatsoever

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Feb 252018
 

Hansal Mehta was planning to approach Sridevi for his project. The filmmaker is saddened by the sudden demise of the veteran actress, and has now decided to dedicate the project to her

Hansal Mehta
Hansal Mehta

Hansal Mehta was planning to approach Sridevi for his project. The filmmaker is saddened by the sudden demise of the veteran actress, and has now decided to dedicate the project to her. As the news of Sridevi’s death shocked the entire nation on Sunday, Mehta took to Twitter to share his grief.

“There will never be another Sridevi. I was about to approach her for a film. That film will now be dedicated to her. If it finds an actor,” he posted. The actress died on Saturday night at around 11 p.m. after suffering cardiac arrest in Dubai.

Sridevi was in Dubai to attend the marriage function of actress Sonam Kapoor’s cousin Mohit Marwah, along with husband Boney Kapoor and younger daughter Khushi. Her elder daughter Jahnvi, who is due to make her Bollywood debut, was in Mumbai. Sridevi was last seen in “Mom” last year.

Also read: Smriti Irani mourns sudden demise Sridevi

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This story has been sourced from a third party syndicated feed, agencies. Mid-day accepts no responsibility or liability for its dependability, trustworthiness, reliability and data of the text. Mid-day management/mid-day.com reserves the sole right to alter, delete or remove (without notice) the content in its absolute discretion for any reason whatsoever

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Jan 182018
 

As first reported in mid-day, Padmaavat makers cite Prakash Jha’s Aarakshan as precedent to overturn state governments’ ban

Deepika Padukone and Shahid Kapoor in a still from Padmaavat
Deepika Padukone and Shahid Kapoor in a still from Padmaavat

It was a victory of freedom of expression as the Supreme Court yesterday cleared Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Padmaavat for release, by staying the ban imposed by the governments of several states including Haryana, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh. Comprising Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra and Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud, the bench said it is the duty of states to maintain law and order and that the creative content is an inseparable aspect of Article 19 (1), freedom of speech and expression.

Hansal Mehta
Hansal Mehta

As told to mid-day (January 18 edition), the producers’ counsel cited the example of Prakash Jha’s caste-reservation drama Aarakshan (2011), which was banned in certain states until the SC overturned the decision. Using that as precedent, the legal team argued that once the Censor Board has certified a movie, no state can ban it. It also argued that the makers had complied with the changes recommended by the Censor Board.

For an industry that largely shied away from commenting on the Padmaavat issue through Bhansali’s months-long battle, it welcomed the SC decision with open arms. Shabana Azmi, one of the few actors to initiate a petition asking PM Narendra Modi to offer protection to Deepika Padukone, said, “I welcome the decision. But there remains the unresolved matter of no action being taken against those who placed a bounty on Deepika’s head. Immediate action needs to be taken against these criminal elements so as to send out a clear signal to the country that the dignity of women is supreme and neither abusive language nor violent threats will go unpunished.”

Shabana Azmi
Shabana Azmi

Director Hansal Mehta reiterated how the banning of a film that has been cleared by the CBFC in the first place, is unconstitutional. “It’s a good sign that the Supreme Court has upheld the decision. The entire team of Padmaavat can heave a sigh of relief.”

Raza Murad, who plays Jalaluddin Khilji in the magnum opus, described it as a “victory of democracy.” “I think true change can be brought about when the government deals with people who create nuisance with an iron hand.”

With inputs from Bharati Dubey

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Sep 302017
 

Every time Rajkummar Rao appears on-screen, he totally leaves us stunned with his sheer talent. While most actors stick to their genre, Rajkummar is known for donning different characters and roles every single time. He not only portrays every part with perfection but entertains us thoroughly.

From a fully toned body to losing weight for his film ‘Trapped’ to gaining those extra pounds and going bald for ‘Bose’, he does everything possible to get nail the look of the character he is playing.  

#AnActorsLife #Building a character. From Behen Hogi Teri to Trapped to currently shooting for #Bose. Nothing gives me more high than preparing and living a character.

A post shared by Raj Kummar Rao (@rajkummar_rao) on Jul 4, 2017 at 10:42pm PDT

Rajkummar is busy creating his own niche and taking the industry by storm. Just recently, he moved everyone with his remarkable performance in ‘Newton’. The film is creating a ton of buzz in tinsel town and garnering a lot of praise from viewers all over India. ‘Netwon’ is also India’s official entry for the Oscars.

And amid all this, his next project has already become the talk of the town. Wondering why? Well, the National Award winning actor is all set to go nude for his next film ‘Omerta’, directed by Hansal Mehta. Known for his method acting, the actor is going all in for his next role once again.

Produced by Swiss Entertainment & Karma Features, #Omerta has @RajkummarRao playing yet another real life character. pic.twitter.com/S9TNvROhyy

— Hansal Mehta (@mehtahansal) November 10, 2016

This is said to be one of the boldest roles that Rajkummar will be playing. He will be seen stepping into the shoes of terrorist, Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh.

 “I’m comfortable with my body and if a scene genuinely demands nudity, I don’t mind it. As long as it’s for the scene and not to titillate the audience, I am okay. Be it LSD, Shahid or now Omerta, these are all very powerful scenes in extremely relevant contexts,” Raj told Deccan Chronicle.

Rajkummar Roa To Go Nude For His Next Film© Twitter

The movie was recently screened at the Toronto International Film Festival and has got a positive response. Now we can’t wait for this one to release in India soon. You rock, Rajkummar!

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Sep 122017
 

Watch: Kangana Ranaut and AIB take hilarious dig at how Bollywood objectifies sexualityKangana Ranaut in a still from AIB video. Pic/YouTube

Bollywood actress Kangana Ranaut has collaborated with Mumbai-based stand-up comedy group All India Bakchod (AIB), which is known for taking up on the social issues in a hilarious way, for a new video.

When an actress of Kangana’s calibre allies with AIB, one can expect a hilarious, uncut and unadulterated ride on the topic chosen.

Their association is for a promotional video song for Kangana Ranaut’s upcoming film ‘Simran‘, helmed by director Hansal Mehta, which releases on September 15.

The parody video has finally been released, and we bet you’ll start rolling over the floors while watching the video, directed by AIB‘s Tanmay Bhat.

In the song, Kangana Ranaut takes a jibe on Bollywood’s obsession with sexual objectification of its actresses.

The unabashed video is also a takedown on nepotism and the actress’ involvement only being limited to titillating the audience and banking on its integral prurience.

WATCH VIDEO:

[embedded content]

Also see: Photos: Sussanne Khan saves herself from ‘oops’ moment
Photos: Sussanne Khan saves herself from 'oops' moment

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Aug 182017
 

Delivering critically acclaimed movies like ‘Shahid’, ‘Citylights’ and ‘Aligarh’, Hansal Mehta and Rajkummar Rao together have always been a deadly combination. And they’re back again, but with a web series this time.

Trailer Of Rajkummar Rao Web Series Starring ‘Bose : Dead/Alive'© YouTube

The trailer for ‘Bose : Dead/Alive’ just dropped and we’re excited to see Rajkummar Rao’s portrayal of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose. The trailer starts with a voiceover saying, “The world thinks Bose is dead” and it goes on with people discussing if it’s actually true or it’s just another disappearing act. 

Trailer Of Rajkummar Rao Web Series Starring ‘Bose : Dead/Alive'© YouTube

By the looks of it, this web series will revolve around one if the biggest conspiracy theories of the country, but will also show how everything began for Subhash Chandra Bose, following his journey to become ‘Netaji’, one of the best and most loved leaders of India.

Trailer Of Rajkummar Rao Web Series Starring ‘Bose : Dead/Alive'© YouTube

From his allegiance to the war and fight for peace, to a reference of Netaji’s most famous speech that said, “Give me blood, and I shall give you freedom,” the trailer indicates that this web series will everything the audience wants.

Trailer Of Rajkummar Rao Web Series Starring ‘Bose : Dead/Alive'© YouTube

In a recently released statement, Mehta said, “The show is not another boring biography. It is the unveiling of India’s biggest cover up. It is a fast-paced, gripping tale on a man whose trajectory is one of the most fascinating stories ever.”

Trailer Of Rajkummar Rao Web Series Starring ‘Bose : Dead/Alive'© YouTube

An ALT Balaji Original, the series is written by Reshu Nath and directed by Pulkit, and will be streamed soon. And there is no one better than Rajkummar Rao to bring Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose’s story to life. Honestly, this will be an interesting watch. 

Here’s the trailer:

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Jul 292017
 

Money laundering cases under pseudonyms, especially those of celebrities or influential figures, are not uncommon, and the latest to fall prey to a similar case is Rajkummar Rao. Rao, under whose name a fake account has been created on social networking site Facebook, is set to lodge a complaint with the Cyber Crime Cell on Monday, after he was alerted about the fictitious account by a friend.

The imposter, it has been suggested, has been sending messages to people on the platform, notifying them of a casting requirement, and attempting to extract money in the process. There have also been reports of obscene messages being sent from the account.

Apart from bringing the incident to the notice of Facebook, Rao also took to his handle to share: “Guys, this is an imposter. I only have one account on FB which is a verified one. Be aware of such people. Usually actors have verified accounts. Don’t trust the ones who don’t.”

Given his shooting commitments for Hansal Mehta’s film on Subhash Chandra Bose in Ladakh, Rao was unable to use his account for a while. A source tells us, “All of this transpired while he was away from social media. Luckily, no one has lost money or been adversely affected. It is expected that the account will be pulled down by Facebook soon. Meanwhile, the officials of Cyber Crime Cell have been informed of it.”

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