Category Archives: Interviews

Interviews with Celebrities,actors, directors, and producers.

Interview: Sidharth Malhotra talks about ‘Brothers’

Sidharth Malhotra Brothers AnthemBollywood chocolate boy Sidharth Malhotra made a stunning debut with Karan Johar’s ‘Student of the Year’ in 2012. The 30-yea-old actor has since played a number of diverse roles. His second movie, ‘Hasee Toh Phasee’, saw him playing a lover boy in a very quirky rom-com. Sidharth then surprised audiences worldwide with his critically acclaimed portrayal of a gangster in ‘Ek Villain’.

‘Brothers’ marks his fourth feature film as an actor where he plays a loner and an alcoholic. Sidharth plays the role of Monty who struggles hard with his complex existence. He shies away from crowds and he does not have any friends. He is active in the world of underground street-fighting, but he lacks a winner’s attitude. He strongly yearns for the acceptance and love of his family. This yearning for approval and respect leads him to find the needed focus and determination to make it big in the street fighting circuit. When the ‘Right to Fight’ competition is announced, he makes it his life’s mission to win it to earn respect and to find his rightful place in the world.

Speaking to Bollywood Reporter Sunny Malik, Sidharth opened up about the film and much more…

‘Hasee Toh Phasee’ was an interesting rom-com and ‘Ek Villain’ completely transformed you. How has the journey in Bollywood been so far?
The journey has been interesting. I learnt a lot of things and there were quite a few ups and downs.  People typecast you once you do a romantic movie and if you do an action flick, they put you in that space. I have attempted to do all genres.  Even though Ek Villain and Brothers have action in them, you can see that they are diametrically very different. I feel now there is far less anxiousness from my part when I interact with people from the film industry as well. When I entered the movies business, I had a lot of general and work pressure as well as performance anxiety. That has reduced. The feedback I got helped me and also when a film was successful at the box office.  That gave me a confidence boost that there is an audience that is excited to see my movies and will pay money to watch them at cinemas. I also feel a bit responsible that I need to give out better content and not let that go. What I don’t like is that everybody starts typecasting you instantly. What  I want to do is to adapt to both; a  romantic film and also a hard-hitting action film.

Sidharth Malhotra in Brothers Fox Star DharmaYou have been choosy and not been signing films left, right and centre. Why is that?
Yes, I have been a bit choosy. If a film demands it, like Brothers did, I take off time. I was preparing for about six months. I needed to be convincing for the role hence, I needed to eat and gain a lot of weight. It was also a different role for me as people wouldn’t imagine me playing such a role. If I can choose from the material that I am offered then it needs to be something new, it should have an X factor for me and get me excited. I get bored if it gets monotonous. Of course, the script and screenplay has to work. For me, my character also needs to have a journey from the beginning till the end. The director is also quite important for me. When I meet a director, the vibe and their passion should show. Then they can push your limits. I knew Karan Malhotra even before Brothers. I knew that he doesn’t settle for anything short than a great or perfect take. That makes it easier for me as an actor because you know someone is pushing you for the right reasons. The combination of trying something new, a great script and a good director are probably the things that I will look for in my next projects. I also think it’s great that actors take out time from their schedule to work on a character. I can assure you that I haven’t looked like this in my other films and neither do I look like that right now. It was all for a particular project and to make it look convincing. I did get a vibe from some people who thought it’s too early for me in my career to take off time to work on my character. I thought and still think that it’s best for the film and if it will pay off, then that is what actors should do.

Sidharth Malhotra in Brothers

Was it weird looking at yourself in the mirror after your physical transformation for Brothers?
Oh yes, it took me a while to get used to my beard. I have never had such a big beard ever in my life. Neither did I ever have such short hair. I also gained about ten kgs in four months. It took me a while to get used to it and my clothes stopped fitting me. I had to get a new wardrobe. Some people think keeping short hair is very macho and very easy but it takes more time to maintain it. It was definitely more effort for me to keep it short and get it trimmed every second day. I had to spend more time in my van to get ready and I hate that. I love to just come in, get ready quickly and be on the set. It took me a while to get used to my look but I also knew that it will make the film and my character look more convincing.  That was my main goal. Hats off to Karan Malhotra, the director, as he showed me an image of a 6 foot 4 inch tall bald wrestler. I got scared thinking that I have to shave off all my hair for the film and I was just freaked out because that guy was too big (laughs). He told me that he wants me to look that way. He told me that I need to physically look very broad and massive. I promised him that I’ll do whatever the best I can and that’s when I decided to not to do anything else and just prepare myself for this film.

You have known Karan Johar, the producer, and Karan Malhotra, the director for many years. Who approached you to star in the film?
It was Karan Malhotra himself when it came to offering me the role. He was about to start another film, Shuddhi perhaps and I was supposed to do another project post Ek Villain. It was quite interesting how Brothers fell into place for all of us. Endomol had been trying to make this film with various production houses in India for a few years and it never really worked out. I remember that one night he was meeting Karan Johar and Reshma (head of a talent management agency), and on top of his head Karan Malhotra told them that a film he really wants to make is Warrior. Reshma said that she knows the people who have been trying to make this film in India. They then had a meeting with Endomol after two days of that conversation and Karan was asked to adapt the script and wrote the Hindi script in about a 40-50 days. He considered me because of Ek Villain and also because he knew me personally. I was excited because he had great standards of filmmaking and a lot of conviction more than anything else. When you come on set, you just know that Karan had thought about every little detail from how to shut a door and what kind of look the actor needs to give for a scene. He was very clear about these things and that’s why as an actor you don’t need to do a lot of homework. The film has a lot of drama but it’s very subtle, which is today’s flavour. The audience will get the impact but were not really performing for drama.

Sidharth Malhotra in The Villain

You must have been thrilled when Akshay Kumar came on board too…
Even Akshay Sir was supposed to do another film instead. It’s really amazing how everything fell into place.  We all changed dates and pushed films ahead to do Brothers. We all were destined to play roles in the film. When I came on set, I realised that all four of us, Karan Malhotra, Jackie Shroff Sir, Akshay Sir and I were very similar in personalities. We all come from very basic and non-film backgrounds. We are all about doing the right thing. Hence, we got along really well. I also don’t have a female heroine in the film and all I did was hang out with Akshay Sir and Jackie Sir which was refreshing. I think, the male energy that audiences will see on-screen hasn’t been seen in Hindi cinema for a while.

The trailer doesn’t reveal whether your character is truly negative or positive. Can you shed some light on this?
Well, it will be difficult to predict who is negative and who is positive in the film. The only difference between the two brothers is that Akshay Sir’s character has a very personal and correct reason to fight the competition while my character has an internal motivation to fight the competition. My character is not doing it for money but only to prove a point to my friends and family that I’m worth something. That’s why the character comes across as more aggressive but isn’t really negative. Akshay Sir plays the family guy and is doing it for his family. The film is not really about who wins the fight. It’s more about the conflict the two brothers have been living with; their abusive father, their angst, their mother who died when they were young and all that is bottled up till the climax. It makes my character and Akshay’s character, being the older and mature one, handles it differently. I think it’s not a negative character. It’s just different.

Directed by Karan Malhotra, ‘Brothers’ is produced by Karan Johar and released by 20th Century Fox.  The film is out now nationwide. 

Q&A: Riteish Deshmukh talks about ‘Bangistan’

Bangistan 27th August 2015 marks the release of ‘Bangistan’, a whip smart and uproarious satire on fundamentalism. Produced by Excel Entertainment, India’s pioneers of contemporary Indian film production under the aegis of producers Ritesh Sidhwani and Farhan Akhtar, and Junglee Pictures, an emerging film studio spanning the development, production, and distribution of Hindi feature films internationally, Bangistan is a comic tale with a strong underlying message highlighting the futility of violence, religious divisions, cultural prejudice, and promoting the message of peace, religious unity and harmony in society.

Directed by Karan Anshuman, ‘Bangistan’ tells the story of two unlikely terrorists, the antitheses of each other, with a common destructive goal, essayed by talented Indian film actors Riteish Deshmukh (Ek Villain, Housefull, Lai Bhaari), Pulkit Samrat (Fukrey, Dolly Ki Doli), and Chandan Roy Sanyal (Kaminey, D-Day). Bollywood beauty Jacqueline Fernandez will appear in a cameo. The music has been penned by Indian composer, music producer and musician Ram Sampath (Delhi Belly, Talaash, and Fukrey). 

Here Ritesh Deshmukh opens about the film and more…

Tell us about Bangistan?
 Bangistan is basically a comedy satire about two terrorists that are on a mission to save the world. They are brainwashed by local religious rag-tags and sent on a mission to disrupt the world peace conference taking place in Krakow, Poland. On this journey they realize the futility of religious divide, and come out as Heroes. 
I play a Muslim from North Bangistan called Hafeez bin Ali, an introspective young man who has been brought up with an ultra-conservative Muslim background, where he works unhappily at a makeshift call center. He is frustrated by the stereotyping of Muslims throughout the world, and is a passive member of Al-Kaam Tamaam, a ragtag Islamic terror group of young Muslims, headed by the wily Abba Jaan. For this mission, Hafeez takes on a masked identity as a Hindu and trains for it accordingly. As a country Bangistan is unique and fictitious, but the topic and the issues are real; it has a strong underlying message highlighting the futility of violence, religious divisions, cultural prejudice. 

What kind of comedy can we expect?
There are a lot of satirical jokes in the film as well as many spoofs. For example, ‘Star*sucks Coffee’ is there instead of Starbucks Coffee.  ‘Keep Calm, I Am Not A Terrorist’ T-shirts are also present and  McDonalds is replaced with “FcDonalds-Killer Fast Food”, and the statue of Mcdonald is replaced with that of a terrorist.

Who will this film appeal to most?
I think it will have universal appeal perhaps with a bias towards the youth or millennial audience or more vocal. 

What is the secret of delivering a great comedy performance?
I think that if you rehearse your comedy too much, then your performance will appear robotic and over practiced. So I think its better to just go with the flow and see how the situation is and act accordingly. 

Why should we all go watch Bangistan?
If you want to have some laugh at loud moments that at the same time make you think about the anarchy in the world then Bangistan is for you!  

  

Interview: “I don’t know why people think it’s a crime to work with the Khans” – Kareena Kapoor Khan

Kareena Kapoor Khan in Bajrangi Bhaijaan (1)Bollywood royalty Kareena Kapoor Khan spent some quality time in London recently with beau Saif Ali Khan.

The award-winning actress will be seen on-screen with Bollywood superstar Salman Khan this Eid, 17th July, in Kabir Khan’s political drama, Bajrangi Bhaijaan.

Kapoor plays the role of Rasika in the film which is produced by Salman Khan Films and released in UK cinemas by Eros International.

Taking time off her London vacation, Kareena caught up with Asian Sunday Newspaper to speak about Bajrangi Bhaijaan and much more…

You’ve been spotted by fans in London and have been taking selfies with them too. How has the annual UK holiday been this year right before the release of your next film?
I absolutely love it. You know me and London is more than home for me. Whenever I come back here, I have this feeling that I am finally home.

You also met Channing Tatum whilst in London. That picture sort of broke the internet…
(
Laughs) I think most of my selfies are breaking the internet. One of my friends took it and he is on Instagram and Twitter which is how it got out as I am not on any social media platforms.

You recently said that you are choosing films differently now compared to a few years ago. How has the process changed?
I think, I love the fact that I can be a part of blockbuster commercial movies. They have always been a part of my repertoire and my DNA. I love doing commercial masala films. I also do different films like Balki’s next directorial also starring Arjun Kapoor. My role in that film amazing. Then I will be seen in Udta Punjab which is a drama film about the drug issue in Punjab, India. I am trying to just balance it out, like always.

Kareena Kapoor Khan in Bajrangi Bhaijaan (2)Do you go by your instinct when choosing a film then?
Yes, I do go by my instinct. Sometimes it turns out right and sometimes it turns out wrong but I have no regrets. I really have to just feel what I have to do. I have always done what I wanted to do and never followed any particular rules as such.

One doesn’t really say no to a Salman Khan movie but what made you say yes to Bajrangi Bhaijaan?
(Laughs) Everybody is used to seeing Salman in films which are loaded with action and comedy. This is one Salman Khan film where the story is the hero. The story is very different. Kabir Khan makes larger-than-life commercial blockbuster films but he also makes films which have stories and a meaning. The characters in the film are all very relevant to the plot. The entire setting of the film is also very real.

Popular male actors tend to take credit for the success of blockbuster movies while female actors are sometimes not given their due. Does that worry you when you are a part of blockbusters?
Not at all and I don’t think like that. I have been a part of commercial films like 3 Idiots, Bodyguard, the Golmaal series and Singham. I don’t think anyone has said that it’s just a Shah Rukh Khan or Salman Khan film. Talking about Ra.One for example, if you take out the song Chammak Challo it becomes a different film. People were mostly only talking about that song. In Bodyguard people mostly spoke about the chemistry that I share with Salman Khan on-screen. In the case of 3 Idiots, people remember my scenes very well. It’s never been about it. Even back in the days such as Hema Malini in Sholay, she didn’t have the title role. Sholay was about Dharamji and Amitji. She was a part of the film and you can’t take her out of it. For me it doesn’t work like that. I don’t know why people think it’s a crime to work with the Khans. I just don’t understand why it’s such a hue and cry and trust me, everyone wants to work with them (laughs).

The film has been a bit controversial because of its reported story…
People don’t know the story. It’s such an emotional drama and a beautiful story. People are trying to make a controversy out of it, not that it matters, but people are still going to watch the film and they will still be flocking to the theatres. Once they see the film they will know how appreciative the film is to both India and Pakistan.

Kareena Kapoor Khan in Bajrangi Bhaijaan (3)How was it like to work with Salman Khan again after Bodyguard?
We have a very special relationship. When his sister became a producer for the first time with Bodyguard, I was the heroine of the film. When his brother Arbaaz Khan directed for the first time (Dabangg 2), I had a special appearance in the song Fevicol Se. Now Bajrangi Bhaijaan is Salman’s first production after working in the industry for twentyfive-years and I’m the heroine of the film. I think there is a very deep connection between the Khan’s and myself.

The soundtrack of Bajrangi Bhaijaan is already topping charts…
Pritam, the composer, has always done a spectacular job. He composed the music for Jab We Met too. The music of the film is very soulful but simultaneously you also have songs that you can dance to.

Bodyguard also released on Eid and people at a London cinema couldn’t get tickets and were seated on the floor to watch it on the first day…
Oh God, that will most likely be the case for Bajrangi Bhaijaan too because the excitement level is extremely high among our fans. The audience is expecting a good film and they want to see a film with a good story that features Salman Khan. That is something that is going to be deeply respected.

Your item song from the film Brothers, ‘Mera Naam Mary’ has just been released…
I think that it will be ten steps ahead of Fevicol Se from Dabangg 2.

Your fanclub on Twitter wants to know if you call Saif Ali Khan by his reported legal name ‘Sajid’ too?
(Laughs) No, that’s not his legal name and I don’t know where that all came from in the media. His mother thought of the name but his name is only Saif Ali Khan and thank God for that.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interview: Adnan Sami talks about ‘Bhar Do Jholi Meri’ from ‘Bajrangi Bhaijaan’

Bhar Do Jholi Meri - Bajrangi Bhaijaan - Adnan Sami Interview (2)London-born singer Adnan Sami will be seen on the big screen this month in Salman Khan-Kareena Kapoor Khan starrer Bajrangi Bhaijaan.

The ‘Lift Karadey’ singer has sung a Qawalli, Bhar Do Jholi Meri, for the soundtrack and has also made his on-screen Bollywood debut with the Kabir Khan directorial coming to UK cinemas this Eid, 17th July.

In this interview, Adnan Sami tells us all about the song, working with Salman Khan and much more…

Watch the song here:
 

 

You recently launched the music video of Bhar Do Jholi Meri with director Kabir Kabir at an event. How was that experience?
It was fabulous. I had heard the final song but hadn’t seen the promo that we launched before the event. I watched it with the media for the first time. It was as much an unveiling for the media and fans as it was for me. I was pleasantly surprised.

Bhar Do Jholi Meri - Bajrangi Bhaijaan - Adnan Sami Interview (3)Salman Khan tweeted the first image of you featuring in the song which trended on Twitter even before the release of the promo…
The kind of response that I have received is phenomenal. I had messages on social media saying “I haven’t heard the song but I’m a huge fan already” (laughs). I am happy with the way it’s been received now after the song is actually out. For me, this isn’t a regular song. I was suddenly going into a genre that I hadn’t tackled before as a singer. It’s the first time I have sung a Qawalli even though I have studied them and even composed one. However, singing one was a completely different ballgame.

Why did you never appear in the songs you have sung for movies prior to Bajrangi Bhaijaan?
I always consciously stayed away from it for some reason or the other. It’s very common for singers to get featured in songs and I have been asked many times but I just avoided it. Salman Khan asked me this time and he said that he would love if it is picturised on me. My friendship and love with him and his family goes back so many years that it was different from my other songs. The other bargain was that I got to go to the most beautiful locations on earth to shoot for the song. We shot at an actual Dargah and the atmosphere there was extremely elevating.  They have never allowed anyone to shoot there in the past and this was the first time that anyone filmed at the location. You really didn’t need to act. It was all just coming out because of the energy around the place.

Bhar Do Jholi Meri - Bajrangi Bhaijaan - Adnan Sami Interview (1)You remarkably lost weight a couple of years ago. Did that give you a confidence boost to appear on screen for a movie?
I was extremely unapologetic about the way I looked. I just used to enjoy life. I had no intentions of losing my weight until my Doctor told me that I had to as it was tremendously critical. I was never conscious of it. There are still a lot of singers who don’t like to appear in their music videos for whatever reason. I was never conscious about my appearance. I was unapologetically romancing anyone in my own music videos. I just didn’t really want to get into those special appearances in movies. I was already doing so many of my own music videos. I felt it would have been an overkill and there was no real need for it. The reasoning behind this decision was purely emotional and just for Salman.

Produced by Salman Khan Films, Bajrangi Bhaijaan is out in UK cinemas through Eros International this Eid, 17th July 2015. 

A version of this interview first appeared in The Asian Today newspaper, July issue.

Interview: Farhan Akhtar talks about ‘Dil Dhadakne Do’

Farhan Akhtar as Sunny Gill in Dil Dhadakne Do
Farhan Akhtar as Sunny Gill in Dil Dhadakne Do

Director-producer-actor Farhan Akhtar talks to BollyNewsUK about his new venture Dil Dhadakne Do. The film is directed by his sister, Zoya Akhtar, and sees Farhan acting in the film as well as producing it under Excel Entertainment.

Dil Dhadakne Do also stars Priyanka Chopra, Anil Kapoor, Ranveer Singh, Shefali Shah and Anushka Sharma. The film is currently playing in UK cinemas nationwide. 

How has the experience been of being a part of Dil Dhadakne Do as a producer and an actor?
It’s been an amazing journey. I am a huge admirer of the way the Zoya Akhtar and Reema Kagti write movies. The films both have directed, always had really well-written scripts with well-written characters. It was fun to play a character again in a Zoya Akhtar movie. As a producer, Ritesh Sidhwani and I know that making a movie with Zoya will be a fun, engaging and interesting experience.

It’s been hard to cast actors in the projects whenever you and Zoya have collaborated together…
I must tell you, that is a part and parcel of film-making. It doesn’t only happen to Zoya. Any director you speak to, will tell you the exact same story. It has happened to me too. It happened to me while I was making Dil Chahta Hai and Lakshya. At the end of the day, every film has its own destiny. There is no retrospect thinking into what if someone else was playing a certain character. You just go with the best that you get. Maybe Zoya didn’t get the cast that she wanted when she started the film but she usually ends up with a really good set of actors.

Dil Dhadakne Do is more focused on the Mehra family and you play a supporting character…
Even during the making of Zindagi Na Milegi Doobara, I didn’t think of any expectations viewers will have from my performance in the film.  We do everything in the best interest of the film. That really is my focus. I completely agree with you that the film predominantly focuses on the Mehra family and I play a supporting part. I am very happy with the role that I am playing and it’s very important in the context of Priyanka Chopra’s subplot in the movie. There is also a key moment in the film that occurs between Priyanka, Rahul Bose and myself in the film. When Zoya narrated the film to me, that scene resonated very strongly with me. I felt very connected to the script and I just wanted to do it regardless of how big my part was. Whatever people think about the film or a character when they watch it can’t be predicted. Sometimes we do a film just about one character and nobody really cares. That’s happened too (laughs).

How do you decide whether a role is right for you or not?
It’s difficult to explain. I don’t think it’s a logical process. Everyone has an instinct and that tells a person why something is better than something else. As an actor, it’s a creative instinct that you have. There are many factors though like the environment, your mood at the time when you were offered a film, the experience you had on your most recent film and many others. However, they are all on a subconscious level. There is an emotional reaction to the narration when you hear it and there is a voice inside you which tells you “Wow, this is it!” or it may say “You aren’t feeling this. Let it pass”. If you really have to stop and think about it and convince yourself, I feel that is very difficult. It may work for others but I don’t think I could do it.

Title Track - Priyanka & Farhan

As a producer, was it quite difficult logistically to film all over Europe?
The film is widespread all over Europe and filming on the cruise comes with its own set of rules. We had a cast of over twenty actors almost constantly on the cruise. Additionally, we had over seventy crew members. We were a huge contingent of people moving around in many different locations. It was logistically very difficult to do. We also worked with people who brought the right energy and felt like the core team. Nobody felt that they were doing anybody a favour by being there. That truly helped because the energy was very positive around everything that we did.

At the Indian Box Office, films based in India are doing better now than films set abroad. Do you feel Dil Dhadakne Do will appeal to the masses in India?
I feel that if it’s a good story and if it connects with people, then everything else doesn’t matter. It has to resonate with people on an emotional level. If that happens, then the location doesn’t matter. Of course, the location should make sense. You can’t just shoot any movie on the Mediterranean Sea because it’s a great location. It’s the people in the film, their dilemmas and problems that makes people eventually like a film or not. These terms ‘NRI Films’ were not put forward by the film industry. They were used by trade people because they had to categorise films to market them. We don’t think of movies like that.

What’s next for you? People have been demanding Don 3…
Yes, they have. To be honest, at the moment my hands are full. We have Dil Dhadakne Do now and then we have another production Bangistan releasing in July. I also start filming for Rock On 2 in August. We also have a production called Wazir starring Amitabh Bachchan due to release post October sometime on a good weekend. There are a lot of things happening at the moment for me and I don’t have the mental space to make decisions of what I am going to do next after all these things at the moment. Direction is truly a part of who I am. I enjoy directing. I am just really enjoying the scripts that I am getting at the moment. I wouldn’t say no to good scripts just because I should be getting back to direction.

This interview was first published in The Asian Today Newspaper (June 2015 issue). 

Interview: Ranveer Singh talks about Dil Dhadakne Do, Priyanka Chopra & Anushka Sharma

Ranveer SinghBollywood star Ranveer Singh is back on our silver screens with Zoya Akhtar’s summer blockbuster, Dil Dhadakne Do. Also starring Anil Kapoor, Priyanka Chopra, Farhan Akhtar, Shefali Shah and Anushka Sharma, the movie is a comedy-drama set on a cruise ship.

The story begins in the sparkling lifestyle of popular Delhi socialite family and primarily revolves around the two siblings; portrayed by Ranveer and Priyanka.

Speaking to Bollywood Reporter Sunny Malik, Ranveer talked about the new craze of ‘dubsmashing’ videos, filming in Europe, working with Priyanka again and much more…

You have been interacting with your fans on Twitter very frequently lately…
Yes, I love communicating with my fans over Twitter. I like getting feedback about what people like and dislike about my work. My favourite part about social media is that they have direct access to me and vice versa. I really appreciate everything they write to me and it puts a smile to my face every day. It’s also a great medium to get your work out there. Internet has become such a major part of everyone’s life and digital marketing is huge now. I remember, the brand for my first advertisement didn’t have budgets for TV spots and we decided to only release it digitally. That opened up my eyes because it did really well and the reach was enormous. That gave me the belief that social media is important to promote your work as well as for interactions with fans.

Your Dubsmash videos are pretty amazing too…
(Laughs) We were doing interviews with a TV channel and they suggested that I should do one. A lot of people had sent me their ‘dubsmashes’ and I thought why not? I tried it and I really liked it. I did one with Priyanka and one from an old Anil Kapoor movie. These things amuse me more than anyone else (laughs). But I’m glad that other people enjoy them too. I do them for my own enjoyment though, in all honesty. It gives me a kick.

You play a typical Punjabi character in the film. You are Sindhi but are quite Punjabi in nature. It wasn’t very hard then to portray the role, or was it?
I am Sindhi and there is a little bit of Sikh in me as well. My paternal grandmother was a Muslim so I’m a little bit of a mix. My family came from Karachi, they were based there. It was actually very easy to get into the character unlike the current movie that I’m filming for, Bajirao Mastani with Deepika and Priyanka. It’s a Sanjay Leela Bhansali movie and I had to lock myself up for three weeks in a hotel room to work on my voice, body language, appearance and everything really. That was a big process but getting into Kabir Mehra’s character was pretty straightforward. He comes from a business family like I do, he was raised and comes from an urban area and is in the same age group as me. The character is demographically and socio-economically very similar to me. I noticed, while dubbing for the movie, that Dil Dhadakne Do is the closest to who I am compared to any other characters that I’ve played in the past.Ranveer & Farhan (1)

You are a big Anil Kapoor fan and it’s quite apparent from thepromos that you enjoyed every moment of working with him…
Yes, I’m glad you noticed (laughs). That applies to off-screen too as he’s such a great guy. He’s warm, hilarious and genuine. He doesn’t give you the ‘senior’ vibe and it’s more like acting with a ‘bro’. I had the great opportunity of working with another childhood idol of mine from the 90’s, Govinda, in Kill Dil. It was different because it felt like he was my senior and I would just listen to his stories and learn from his experiences. That was fun but with Anil it’s different. We work out together and we really bonded during the making of the film.

DilDhadakneDoPosterThere is quite a lot of buzz that you are working with Anushka Sharma again…
Well, Anushka is an absolutely stunning actress. Above all and beyond everything, I have tremendous respect for her talent and acting abilities. She’s the best part of most of the movies that she’s been in. She really made a mark with NH10 as an actor and producer. I was very happy and excited that I have such a solid co-actor to work with. I was actually pleasantly surprised that Anushka will portray the role. I never thought that she would take on such a role. But this shows us exactly how secure she is as an actress to make these choices as it’s an ensemble film. I was over the moon when she signed the film and had a blast catching up with her. I did two movies with her back-to-back at the start of my career. We lost touch after that but it was good catching up with her while working on Dil Dhadakne Do. She makes acting very easy for her co-stars so that was great.

You have changed tremendously from the time you made your acting debut with Anushka. Did she notice the changes?
Well, I was trying to make it a pleasurable experience for her to shoot with me for this film. That is because I know what a pain in the #@#@ I was in my first and second film. I had all these questions and I was overenthusiastic. I had to be guided at every step and that can be quite a painful process. She was trying to get her job done but also had to deal with this novice rookie actor. I can’t imagine that to be a pleasurable experience but she was kind and nice to me. This time I made sure that I could be the best co-actor for Anushka. I even asked her that a few times whether I have become better now and if I am less of a pain now (laughs).

Farhan, Priyanka, Anushka, Ranveer (1)In Gunday, you and Priyanka Chopra played lovers, in Dil Dhadakne Do you portray siblings and in your next, Bajirao Mastani you play a married couple. Isn’t that a bit weird?
It’s weird. I’m not going to lie. It’s a bit of a dysfunctional relationship that we share. She has pretty much played my girlfriend, my sister and wife back-to-back in the span of a year-and-a-half. It’s weird but also testimony to the fact that Priyanka is a very competent actor. She can fit into any mould. It’s weird when you say it like that (laughs) but Priyanka is really professional. We trust our directors and we hope our audiences have evolved to accept two actors playing different characters for different movies.

How was it like filming all over Europe and on a cruise for most of the film?
It was like a paid holiday (laughs). There was not much work. It was pretty much just having a conversation whether it was a bar, on a couch, in a room or on a bus. It’s not like Bajirao Mastani which is emotionally and physically draining. As it was an ensemble cast, I would have two days off every week and I would find a new place to go to every time. It really felt like a holiday. I don’t think any other shooting experience will match up to this.

Dil Dhadakne Do is now in UK cinemas nationwide.

This interview was first published in Asian Sunday Newspaper. 

Interview: “Hollywood and Bollywood are very separate things” – Nargis Fakhri

Spy Nargis FakhriBollywood actress Nargis Fakhri can now be seen in UK cinemas in the new action-comedy film, Spy, also starring Melissa McCarthy, Jason Statham, Rose Byrne, Miranda Hart, Bobby Cannavale, Allison Janney and Jude Law. 

The gorgeous actress plays a small but pivotal role in the film and has a major action sequence with actress McCarthy in the movie. 

Nargis, who was born in New York, made her Bollywood debut opposite Ranbir Kapoor in Imtiaz Ali’s Rockstar and was most recently seen in Main Tera Hero with Varun Dhawan. 

The 35-year-old star recently flew into London to walk the red carpet at the European premiere of Spy, held at Leicester Square, and caught up with BollyNewsUK ahead of her big night.

You have flown in from Kenya. What were you doing there?
Oh My God, I was saving rhinos (Rhinoceros). There is only one left. It was at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Nanyuki, Kenya. He’s the last male northern white rhino in the world. Can you imagine that there will be no more once he dies? There used to be twenty-thousand from the 1960s and now there is only one left. I was there to raise awareness because people should visit the place because it’s an once-in-a-lifetime experience. I was also trying to get people to donate as they’re trying IVF and it’s very costly.

TCopyright - Facebook SPY Movie (3)he last time you were in London to promote a movie was for Rockstar (2011). How has it been so far to be here for Spy?
Wow, that was such a long time ago. I love London and it’s always nice to be here, especially when the weather is nice. It’s really close to Mumbai too as it’s only eight-hours on a flight compared to sixteen-hours to New York or even twenty-four-hours to Los Angeles.

You are represented by CAA KWAN in India, formerly known as KWAN, who joined hands with CAA, one of Hollywood’s top talent agencies, a few years ago. Did ‘Spy’ happen through that association?
No, my agent in London DAA were handling everything in relation to Spy. I actually met Paul Feig, the director, in LA a while back. It was quite surprising that he knew about Bollywood and Indian cinema. He knew about the work that I had done. We were having a meal when he mentioned to me that he will be starting a movie and there is a role that he felt I was perfect for. He asked me whether I would have time for it. I said yes immediately.

Were you worried about how much screen time you’ll get in your debut Hollywood movie?
I have realised that Hollywood and Bollywood are very separate things. They don’t get each other. They have a different way of doing things. I was born in New York City and was exposed to American cinema from a young age. I have friends who are actors, writers and entertainers. I know how hard it is to get into the industry. It’s super hard. You have talented people struggling for years. Yes, same goes for Bollywood but you don’t get judged for having small part in a film in Hollywood. You can have a really small role in one film and be the leading actor in your next. It doesn’t work the same way in Bollywood. If you do a supporting role, you get pigeonholed and only end up doing that. In Bollywood you have to work with the big guys and that’s it. You can’t work with anyone else. I understand that but getting offered this part in Spy with this amazing director and cast was a no-brainer. It doesn’t matter how many minutes I’m on-screen or how big the role is, this is a big deal.

Copyright - Facebook SPY Movie (2)

Was the experience more comfortable for you, compared to working in Hindi movies, because English is your first language?
It was but the sense of humour culturally is very different in India. I get the American sense of humour and even the British one. In Main Tera Hero, we have a scene where Varun sings a bhajan (devotional song) to the beat of Ranbir’s Badtameez Dil. I just didn’t get that (laughs). I really questioned everyone and asked how this is funny? Anupam Kher explained it to and had to associate it with something that I would understand. Then I said, “Oh, that’s funny”. With me, it’s sometimes lost in translation in Bollywood. I literally translate everything and I don’t get the jokes. Then someone has to explain it to me. I am the poor person that has the delayed reaction to a joke (laughs).

Spy Melissa

There is a major action sequence in the film between you and Melissa McCarty. Did you have to prepare a lot?
I had three days of choreography and quite some time over the day going over everything. There were still issues when we filmed it. I hurt myself a few times and Mellisa hurt me a couple of times too. But it turned out alright in the end.

Spy, released by 20th Century Fox, is in UK cinemas now.

This interview was first published in Asian Sunday Newspaper (National). 

 

Interview: R. Madhavan speaks about ‘Tanu Weds Manu Returns’

Actor R. Madhavan is back on the silver screen with the latest Bollywood super hit, Tanu Weds Manu Returns.

Directed by Anand L. Rai, the film also stars Kangana Ranaut and is already a success story at the box office worldwide.

Released in UK cinemas on Friday 22nd May, the film grossed £173,593 from 60 screens at cinemas nationwide which is the highest opening for a Hindi film in the UK so far this year.

Tanu Weds Manu Returns is co-produced by Krishika Lulla of Eros International and is the sequel to Tanu Weds Manu (2011) and also stars Bollywood queen Kangna Ranaut, Jimmy Shergill & Deepak Dobriyal.

Madhavan spoke to Bollywood reporter Sunny Malik about the film and much more…

How has the journey been of revisiting ‘Tanu Weds Manu’ four years later?
It’s been great. I never thought of a sequel when I finished the first movie. It’s great that we had the exact same cast, crew and junior artists on the sequel as well. The story is true to the timeline and starts off four years right after the point where the first film finished. It’s all very exciting to see what has been happening in their lives.

Tanu Weds Manu Returns Trailer LaunchThe first film faced difficulties finding a distributor. Eros International is now co-producing and distributing it worldwide. Did that make the process of making the film easier for you as an actor?
Absolutely. Also, our director, Anand L. Rai, had a success story with the first film and Raanjhaana was also a hit. That made a difference as he has become very saleable. Kangana also had Queen behind her and the National Award etc. There is a lot of curiosity with her. Eros coming on board helped but I feel it’s a combination of all three.

Kangana has also evolved quite a lot since you last worked with her. What differences did you see?
She was a fine talent even when we did Tanu Weds Manu. Now she is definitely a force to reckon with. It was a pleasure working with her because now you’re on your toes and you need to pull up your socks. You need to hit a sixer when the ball is thrown at you.

Tanu Weds Manu UK ReleaseTell me about filming in London for the sequel…
In the original movie, Manu was a Doctor from London. He goes back to London after his wedding with his wife. We had to show what occurred in their lives. We only filmed in London for three days. That is all what was needed. There was hardly anything to do there. Even though, we had the privilege of coming to London, the story is primarily set in India.

Did you see differences between the double-role that Kangana was playing even off-screen?
I did see two sides of her depending which character she was portraying at the time. Her body language and accent, everything would change. It think it was really fascinating.

What have you been up to since Tanu Weds Manu?
I took a break. Even the last South Indian film that I did was in 2012. I just took a sabbatical and I didn’t want to do any movies. I wanted to push myself into a corner and see if I still have that fire in my belly. I thought, I will be back if the industry would still want me. Luckily for me, Anand L. Rai approached me for this film. He didn’t have to convince me. I was eager to get back. I already knew that working with him will be challenging and something different.

The film is on general release across the UK now.

 

 

 

 

Interview: Ranbir Kapoor talks about ‘Bombay Velvet’

Bombay Velvet UK ReleaseBollywood superstar, Ranbir Kapoor, is India’s heart-throb with millions of fans around the world. Even when the actor is in London, he is greeted by screaming fans when they spot him enjoying a meal at Nobu, relaxing at Café Rouge on James Street or shopping at Selfridges.

Born to actors Rishi Kapoor and Neetu Singh, Ranbir belongs to the First Family of Indian cinema and is the grandson of India’s most noted actor, Raj Kapoor.

Kapoor learnt method acting at New York’s Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute and is one of the few Bollywood actors with a formal training in performing arts.

In 2007, Ranbir made his acting debut with ‘Saawariya’ which won him several accolades and established him as a budding superstar. His performances in his last few films such as ‘Barfi’ and ‘Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani’ and the commercial success of these movies gave him a straight ticket to the big league.

But it’s not just his work which made him so famous. After dating actress Deepika Padukone and their public break-up in the beginning of his career, he was considered an industry Casanova. There were constant affair rumours with whoever he was working with and his personal life was splashed across India’s newspapers frequently. Even today, conjecture about when and if he will marry his current girlfriend, British-Indian actress Katrina Kaif, is more of a talking point than his work.

While Ranbir was pretty open about his relationship with Deepika, he has never really admitted to being together with Katrina Kaif and neither has she. The duo are often spotted together abroad and in India. They both tend to avoid media interactions to evade questions about their personal life.

BOMBAY VELVET RANBIR KAPOOR 20TH CENTURY FOX UKAll the drama about his personal life doesn’t really affect the actor as he is currently working with some of the biggest names in the industry and is wholeheartedly focused on his job.

Kapoor can be seen in UK cinemas this month in ‘Bombay Velvet’, produced by Fox Star India, a joint venture between 20th Century Fox and Star India.

The film is directed by Anurag Kashyap and also stars Anushka Sharma and director-producer Karan Johar (My Name Is Khan) in his first full-fledged acting role.

Set against the backdrop of ambition, love, greed, and jazz, ‘Bombay Velvet’ is the story of one ordinary man, played by Ranbir Kapoor, who goes against all odds and forges his destiny to become a rich and successful man.

Ranbir Kapoor spoke to Bollywood reporter Sunny Malik about the film, his co-stars, avoiding social media, being a star, friendships and much more.

How did Bombay Velvet come about for you?
It’s a strange story. I was supposed to do another film a few years ago which didn’t materialise. My friend, Vikas Bahl, who is one of the producers of Bombay Velvet gave me the script and asked me for feedback. I knew that Anurag Kashyap wanted to make this film and after reading the script I called him up myself. He told me that he couldn’t visualise me in the role as he was used to seeing me in the typical urban coming-of-age type of characters. The film did eventually happen and it’s been a dream experience for me.

Bombay Velvet UK

How was the experience of changing your appearance for the character?
It was very different especially because of the kind of character that I play in the film. He is someone on the streets of Bombay with plenty of passion and greed. I had to look the part. The look has been inspired by Indian actors Kishore Kumar and Raj Kapoor from the 1950’s as well as Robert De Niro. We tried to mix everything to bring in a new look to the character. If someone has seen ‘Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani’, they will see a completely different person in me this time around. The whole crew also worked extremely hard to recreate the retro look of Bombay.

What do you have to say about the comparisons being made to Hollywood films?
The comparisons are unfortunate. We made an Indian film which is essentially a love story with its share of conflicts. It’s also something new for Indian audiences. The visuals of gangs in Bombay in the 1950’s isn’t something they are used to, hence the comparisons. I can promise everyone that it’s very much a Hindi film.

You are working with Anushka Sharma for the first time…
I have loved Anushka right from her debut film, ‘Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi’. I have known her on a personal level even before we started filming for ‘Bombay Velvet’. It was really comfortable. Anushka comes with no trappings of a star. She brought a lot of positivity and talent to the role which made the experience quite enjoyable. The love story is the spine of the film and it is very important that audiences believe in it. I believe that chemistry between characters on-screen is always written by the writer and created by the director. The actors just bring the energy.

BOMBAY VELVET 20TH CENTURY FOX UKHow did you react when you were told that director-producer Karan Johar will play the antagonist in the film?
To be honest, I was shocked. I was very surprised that he was going to play the main villain in ‘Bombay Velvet’. The cunning and manipulative nature that Karan brought to the character was very unique. I don’t think any other actor in Bollywood could have done that. We also don’t realise how big of a star Karan Johar is. Even though he hasn’t really acted in movies, he is known worldwide and has brought a lot of star value to the film and weight to the character.

You are not on social media but you hate promoting a movie. Would it not be easier for you to just join the bandwagon?
I truly believe that online and digital is the way forward. I support and encourage online marketing because you reach a huge audience. I personally don’t like social media just because so much is written about my personal life. I have nothing against these platforms. It’s a double-edged sword for me. Personally, I don’t feel comfortable using social media but I do know that it can help promoting a movie.

Your father, Rishi Kapoor, recently re-joined Twitter. He is hilarious and unabashedly honest…
I know, all my friends have told me that after reading his tweets. To be honest, that’s how my father has always been like. He isn’t trying to be funny or trying to be someone he isn’t. I am glad that people are getting to know this other side of him now too.

Bombay Velvet UK CinemasDo you believe that a ‘star’ needs to remain inaccessible?
Absolutely. Actors and celebrities around the world are over-exposed nowadays. The paparazzi trend has kicked off in India too and a lot is written about our personal lives in tabloids. The sense of mystery about actors is dying because people have too much information about them. Half of the time, it’s nonsensical and extremely exaggerated information. It’s good to stay away, do your work, build a little bit of a mystery and let people discover you through your work.

There is some distrust in the movie among the main characters. Do you personally find it hard to trust people because of who you are?
It’s a tough predicament to be an actor in our industry. When you are successful, you have many people around you who want to work with you. When your films are not doing well, they all run away. It’s very important to know who your real friends are and who can be trusted. Friendships need to be on the basis of love, care and trust. It’s very hard to get this in the film industry. I have been lucky enough to find friends in the industry like Ayan Mukherji, Imtiaz Ali and Anurag Basu with whom I am also working professionally. It’s very hard though. You have to be careful because when things go bad in your life and people who you thought were friends, may just not be there for you.

‘Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani’ was your first film that crossed £1M at the UK Box Office and was a blockbuster worldwide. Do you feel the pressure with this film now?
‘Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani’ was a film made with a commercial purpose. It had a quintessential love story, a beautiful heroine, a flirting hero, super hit songs and the dances. It was expected that it would do well. I didn’t expect commercial success for my film ‘Barfi’ with Priyanka Chopra. It was surprising. It’s important to surprise yourself and see how things unfold. ‘Bombay Velvet’ is that kind of film. You have to leave it to the audience because films are made for them. Movie-making is expensive and we don’t create films for ourselves or just the art purpose. They have to work at the Box Office too.

Ranbir promotes Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani in LondonYou will be filming in London for the first time for Karan Johar’s next directorial, ‘Ae Dil Hai Mushkil’, this summer. Are you excited?
Absolutely, especially after doing an intense film like ‘Bombay Velvet’. I have finished my film ‘Tamaasha’ with Deepika Padukone and I will be completing ‘Jagga Jasoos’ with Katrina Kaif this year too. I really want to do a light, urban love story and there is nobody better for that genre than Karan. To work with Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and Anushka in the film is really thrilling and another exciting chapter for me. I just hope that I can match the expectations of a Karan Johar hero. He has worked with the best of the Indian film industry and it’s really heart-warming that he has chosen me as his next leading actor.

What else can we expect from you?
‘Tamaasha’ directed by Imtiaz Ali should release by the end of the year, perhaps November. Anurag Basu’s ‘Jagga Jasoos’ should release after ‘Tamaasha’. Karan Johar’s ‘Ae Dil Hai Mushkil’ will release next year. I will also be collaborating with Ayan Mukherji for the third time. It’s not a superhero movie as many people have that misconception. He is making a mythological trilogy set in contemporary times. He will be spending ten years of his life making that trilogy and that’s definitely very exciting.

Ranbir also revealed all his favourite things: 

Food: Mutton
Drink: Pepsi
Restaurant: Peter Lugers in New York
Car: Mercedes G63
TV show: ‘True Detective’
Movie: ‘Shree 420’ and ‘Life is Beautiful’
Song: ‘Kisi Ki Muskurahaton Pe Ho Nisar’ from the Indian film ‘Anari’
Book: ‘Songs My Mother Taught Me’. It’s an autobiography by Marlon Brando.
Colour: Red
Perfume: Davidoff Cool Water
Item of clothing: Sneakers
City: New York
Holiday destination: New York again

Interview: Tena Desae talks about ‘The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’

Tena Desae LondonTena Desae has taken the west with storm. Not only has the quintessential Indian beauty from Bangalore bagged two massive projects from the west in 2015, she’s also now impressed the Royal Family of England. Tina spent an evening last month amidst glamour and excitement which was in abundance as the stars of The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel arrived at the premiere of the movie at the  Royal Gala in London’s Leicester Square. Tena was seen in a custom-made Manish Malhotra outfit and she spent her evening signing autographs, conversing some of the most well-known names of Royal blood. The film received a raving review at this special preview. 

Talking about the Royal Premiere, Desae said, “It was an extra ordinary evening of my life, I am in love with this movie series, it gave me the golden opportunity to be a part of this auspicious evening and meet and greet with the Royal Family. I am loving the whole treatment by the Hollywood media & critics coming with a good response for my character in the movie.”

Speaking to Bollywood reporter Sunny Malik, Desae talked about the film and much more. The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel released in UK cinemas on 26th February 2015. 

How has life changed post the hugely successful ‘The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’?
After The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, I was hoping to do more work in the west. The film was such a brilliant experience for me that I hoped I could do more work there. Since that film, I have luckily been able to do the sequel and an American sci-fi drama Sense8. I am in a position where I can work in Bollywood and Hollywood and I hope the journey continues. 

You were also a part of Eros International’s Table 21. Did you feel drastic differences in the approach of film-making after working on TBEMH?
I don’t see a huge difference in Hollywood and Bollywood. If there is a difference, then it’s only because of production values, the budget and style of direction. I haven’t experienced any difference in the two industries, other than the factors I mentioned. Table 21 was a different experience for me simply because it was a thriller. I played a great character and had the opportunity to do daring things e.g. going bald. Just being part of a story that had three central characters was something I liked. I wouldn’t compare the film to The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel films or any other film. I look at each film as a separate experience because of the people you work with and the styles that they have.  

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel Interview

Have you decided on whether Hollywood or Bollywood is the right place for you?
I would like to continue working in both industries, I guess. That’s the decision I have made. I like working in Bollywood films because the roles and characters come to me effortlessly because it’s my culture and something I have grown up watching. I also like working in Hollywood because the characters and scripts are very different to what I am used to. I like the experience of trying something new and understanding the different perspective on film making and writing. Hopefully, I will continue to be in a space to work in both industries. 

You also worked on Sense8, an American sci-fi drama series. Tell me more about that experience?Sense8 has been a very enjoyable experience for me. I’ve always wanted to do two kinds of characters. One would be a biopic where your character is based on a real life person where you have to portray the person perfectly. You are not allowed to play with interpretation here. Secondly, I like playing a character where you can use your own imagination and be creative to make something new and special. I was given this opportunity in Sense8. All characters are emotionally linked in the series which is not something that is human. I was given the opportunity to think out of the box and create something that has no reference point. I liked that experience and the freedom. We had no rules and could do whatever we wanted. I loved that we travelled so much. I also liked the fact that I worked with three different directors even though I was playing the same character. It was interesting to see that pool of talent. It was just so much fun.

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel Interview UK

How did The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel come about?
It came about naturally. I think people at Fox (Production studio Fox Searchlight Pictures) were happy with the success of the first film and felt that there was potential for a sequel. The writers and directors then sat down to work on a script that would seamlessly carry on the story and not feel like a jump. I am glad I have a bigger role in the sequel because the film is about the big fat Indian wedding and I’m the bride. I had to dance and I think it’s funny that my first dance sequence is in a Hollywood film as I never danced in a Hindi movie. Just to have everybody come together again and have a more central character in the film this time around was an amazing feeling. When they were ready with the script, they contacted me. I am really glad that it happen. I hope people like this film even more than the first one or at least as much as the first film.

Will we see strong changes in your character in the sequel? 
My character Sunaina doesn’t have drastic changes in the sequel. All the characters are pretty much consistent, the story has just moved forward. There is a very interesting plot though which is funny. The credit goes to Dev Patel’s character Sunny because most of the entertainment and jokes come from him.

Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel London (1)

Although, you did not share many scenes with the likes of Judy Dench as your character revolved around the relationship with Dev Patel in the first film, is it different for the sequel?
My characters now works at The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and I do interact with the guests more than I did in the first film. I have a better relationship with Maggie Smith in the film which is great. Maggie’s character does not bond with people easily and to have that close relationship with her in the film of trust and affection is great. It helps the plot quite a lot. Just to be in the hotel a lot more, makes my character more personal to all guests as they take part in the wedding.

As The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is a British film shot in India, how well do you think will be it be received by audiences in India?
I hope the Indian audiences like the sequel. The film is all about foreigners adopting the Indian traditions and lifestyle. It becomes a great celebration of being Indian. It is not so much of a foreign story any more. I loved the script because of how everyone forgets their past and becomes a local. That is a huge compliment to India. If Indians appreciate that, it would be the cherry on the cake.

What is next for you after The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel?
I have Sense8 releasing in a few months. I have done an Indian film called Dussehra where I play a cop. I don’t know when that releases though. I am in talks for a few more projects. The journey continues.

 

Interview: “I take complete inspiration from someone like Meryl Streep” – Rani Mukerji

Rani MukerjiBollywood royalty Rani Mukerji was in the English capital last month to attend a charity dinner held by the British Asian Trust. 

The event was also attended by The Prince Of Wales, who is the charity’s president, and The Duchess Of Cornwall along with Nobel Peace Prize winner, Kailash Satyarthi; music and television producer, Simon Cowell and X-Factor Judge, Louis Walsh among many others. 

This year’s event was in support of The British Asian Trust’s work in empowering disadvantaged people in South Asia to transform their lives. This year’s event also marked the launch of a new anti-trafficking fund for India to build on work which the British Asian Trust has already been doing to support vulnerable girls affected by violence and abuse.

Rani Mukerji also addressed the guests at the event and spoke about child trafficking, something the Mardaani actress feels strongly about.  

Our Bollywood correspondent Sunny Malik caught up with Rani where she spoke about the event, her last film Mardaani and much more…

You come to London pretty often. What do you love about the UK, besides the fact that you have a huge fan base here?
I can’t put it in words as I can only feel this. As actors, we put a lot of effort into our work when we are performing for a film. Our main agenda is to make our fans happy. The fact that I have a fan base so far away from India is a nice feeling. It’s nice to know that NRI’s or people who watch Indian films in the UK like my work. It reassures me that whatever I am doing is right. It gives me the feeling that since they are liking my work, I can do better and achieve more.

Rani Mukerji (1)You attended the British Asian Trust charity dinner in London as the guest of honour recently. How important was it for you to be here?
I think it is very important to be speaking at a platform or at an event, where people come together for a cause. The theme was anti-trafficking. My recent film Mardaani brought this issue, child trafficking, into the limelight and it became a national topic in India. That speaks a lot for a film. Usually, films with a social cause do not perform well at the box office. Mardaani managed to make noise among the audiences, the critics and did well at the box office. That goes to show how important the film was for India. It created awareness about a subject in India. I think, many people are still ignorant about it. They do not believe that this can happen to their own children. Every eight minutes, a girl disappears in India. There a millions of girls who are trafficked and sold daily. In India people reacted positively to the film. Parents started enrolling their children into Karate classes to empower them and for them to defend themselves. When I was invited to talk at the platform for the British Asian Trust, I felt it was important to make noise about this issue. It was my absolute honour to share the stage with Nobel Peace Laureate Kailash Satyarthi. He has been supporting this case for about forty-five years. To have someone like him with me on stage to talk about these important issues meant a great deal to me. Mardaani also resonated with people overseas and hence, I was invited to London.

Mardaani Poland 1Mardaani recently premiered in Poland. Did you ever imagine that a film like Mardaani will receive such international appreciation?
Honestly, I didn’t. But somewhere in my heart, while I was completing the film, I knew that the cause that we are showing in the film is a global problem. There are thousands of Eastern European girls trafficked into the United Kingdom. Every country in the world is suffering from the issue of child trafficking. I never imagined that my film will release in Poland. That came to me as a pleasant surprise. Usually, it’s the big films that are made with a hundred crore budget that get a wide international release. It was also good to see that the 75 percent of the audience that attended the premiere in Warsaw were Polish. That includes fans, press, local actors and producers and normal audiences. It was a huge honour for me to represent my entire team there who had worked on the film and also those who worked on the research for Mardaani. When we were researching for the film, people were extremely happy that we are making a film on this issue. We weren’t glamorising it. We were simply showing the truth. We didn’t over-exaggerate or melodramatise the issue.

 

Don’t you think that dubbing Hindi movies for an international audience is the next step forward?
I think it would be great. The Polish audience saw the film with Polish subtitles. They related with the film and were emoting with the characters in the movie. I feel that somewhere there is hope. I am sure that films with an international appeal that tackle social problems or have human stories, will then have a wider audience. Today people around the world are quite accepting to see movies from India. It could be the next way forward. That decision, however, is with the distribution and production team. They will consider whether it will add value to their project.

Mardaani Poland 3You once said you only do a film if the script excites you. Do other factors not matter to you?
What really matters to me first is the script and what my character has to do in accordance with the script. These two things are of utmost importance. It is also important to know whom the film is being produced by. India probably makes the highest number of films in a year worldwide. We have so many different languages and we produce around nine hundred films a year. It is important to know who the producer is in a country where films are being made so rampantly. That is because you can be part of a great film but it may not get a good release and not reach the audiences correctly. Hence, it is important along with the script and subject, to choose the right production house which can take the film to places. Many films stay in the cans and never see a release. These two things are very important when I sign a film.

Award shows recently celebrated what we call “women-centric movies”. Do you feel audiences in India are now more accepting of females playing the central character in movies?
You know, I am very surprised when almost everyone talks like that. We are an industry where we had Nutan act in films like Sujata, Bandini and we had Nargis in films like Mother India. I don’t see it as a great shift that people are suddenly accepting these kind of films. We had heroines in the sixties who worked in projects where they were the main lead. Those films were blockbuster. People are now suddenly warming up to the fact that there are movies with woman protagonists that are doing well. I think it has always been happening. It’s just that every particular decade we have a trend of audiences getting attracted to a kind of cinema. It started with Rani Mukerji (2)Mr. Bachchan in the seventies where the angry young man role became popular. In the eighties, we had masala movies doing well. In the nineties we had the NRI movies that became a trend. In the 2000s, we had indie kind of films doing well like Lagaan and Dil Chahta Hai, which probably would not have been known as popular cinema ever before. These kind of films started doing well. That is only because India as country, has a vast population and the youth is changing every year. With the exposure of foreign films that youngsters can watch online and with Hollywood movies that they can watch in India now, they are yearning for similar movies from Indian film-makers. I think, whenever there is good content, the film will be successful regardless of who the protagonist is. 

Are you happy with the way your career has shaped up so far?
I have so many actors who inspire me. I take complete inspiration from someone like Meryl Streep. The kind of films that she is even churning out today, is inspiring. For an actor like me, there are still many interesting projects and films. Not only from India, as I would be more than glad to be a part of films from abroad.  I would not dare to say that I am very happy and satisfied the way my career has shaped. There is a long way to go

A version of this article appeared in Asian Sunday Newspaper 1st March 2015. 

Interview: Varun Dhawan talks about ‘Badlapur’

Varun Dhawan - UK Interview - Badlapur (1) Bollywood’s chocolate hero Varun Dhawan made his Hindi film debut with Karan Johar’s last directorial Student Of The Year a few years ago in 2012. He has since starred in Main Tera Hero and Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania. Many may not know that Varun in fact studied at Nottingham Trent University before he joined the glamorous world of movies and was a pretty normal young lad, and to some extent still is.  

The 27-year-old actor, son of prominent film-maker Dawid Dhawan (Raja  Babu, Biwi No.1, Mujhse Shaadi  Karoge), managed to charm audiences worldwide with his boyish smile and his energetic funky dance moves. Varun was also lauded for his acting skills and was the only actor from his debut film to receive a special Tweet from Mr. Amitabh Bachchan, who called his acting in the film ‘exceptional’.

It is no wonder then that the young actor is experimenting with his roles and not playing it safe by only acting in rom-coms in order to expand his fan base, which young actors tend to do.

Dhawan returns to UK cinema screens this month with the dark noir-drama Badlapur, releasing nationwide on 20th February 2015. Some may call it a risky film for the actor do to so early in his career.

Excited and nervous at the same time about his next project, the actor opened up to our Bollywood correspondent Sunny Malik and talked about the much-awaited film and much more…

How do you look back on last year?
It was amazing. I feel it has been a very long year too because it started with Main Tera Hero. It was my second film and I was really scared and nervous. Then going into a film like Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania was different. I just feel a better connection with the audience now. I just don’t want to let them down.

Varun Dhawan - UK Interview - Badlapur (2)As you made your debut with Sidharth Malhotra and Alia Bhatt in 2012, there are always comparisons with the two regarding film choices, box office collections etc. How do you deal with that?
I just find it really silly that directors, producers and actors are compared. There is no reason to compare us because we all work in a very creative field. I don’t feel it is correct to compare us to others. I am not really bothered when I am compared with someone else. I don’t take it very seriously. What I take seriously is criticism towards my work. I hear that and it inspires me to do better.

Badlapur is a risky film for you…
Many people did say that. At the end of the day, I try to hear the audiences’ voice. I signed Badlapur after my debut film Student Of The Year. After my first film released, there was a certain section of audiences that were saying that it was a children’s film and that these actors have baby faces. I was told that I sound like a child. In a way, I took that criticism and heard what the audience wants. Badlapur is not your regular Hindi film. I can guarantee you that we have filmed things that you would not have seen in Hindi cinema before. We have been true to the film and the genre. Whether the film is good or bad, the audience has to decide that. We have not held up our punches back. We’ve gone for it.

 

There were reports that you were depressed while you were making the film…
Yes, I was to a certain degree. I was not clinically declared depressed but I was heading there. I was to a certain degree very sad. I don’t  want to use the term ‘depression’ loosely because it is a serious illness. It definitely did affect my mental health. I was prescribed and did see a doctor for it as well. It took a toll on me. Maybe because I am young and I saw things I haven’t seen before. Maybe that is why it hit me harder than it would someone of an older age.

Varun Dhawan - UK Interview - Badlapur (5)Deepika Padukone also recently opened up about her battling depression…
At the end of the day, it’s all about your emotions. Regular people go through something like this too. But they have a perception in their head that actors are super humans. It becomes very aspirational in our country. I don’t think it should happen. They should know that we get affected as well. We do bleed when we get cut. I always say that I want my fans to see me as their friend. I openly talk about these things because I want my audiences to connect with me.

Badlapur was earlier supposed to be produced by Saif Ali Khan’s production house, Illuminati Films…
It was completely irrelevant to me because when I signed on to do the film, I signed onto Sriram Raghavan.  Dinesh  Vijan is creatively a very intelligent producer. I have got to know him better during the making of the film. I was only concerned with the fact that I want to work with Sriram Raghavan, someone I respect. I didn’t care about the other aspects.

Varun Dhawan - UK Interview - Badlapur (4)

Kissing scenes get a good share of media and audience attention. Do you believe that is why producers or directors include them in their films even if they are not needed?
I guess so. I wouldn’t deny that this doesn’t happen. I don’t actually understand what the big deal is really. Film makers give the audience what they want. I feel that it is better if one doesn’t make much noise about it whether it’s the media, the actors or the film makers. Everyone is responsible. I am not going to point out one person. If you are in love, then kissing is a natural thing.

I remember you were quite shy when doing intimate scenes for Main Tera Hero because your father was directing the film…
Main Tera Hero was different ballgame because my Dad was directing it. It was also a comedy. Whereas Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania was a love story and it was different. When it comes to Badlapur, it’s been the most comfortable. There is a very huge emotional base between Yaami Gautam and my character because we play husband-wife on-screen. That is a very pure relationship. Yaami and I also struck a chord as actors. We both were very comfortable with each other. It was a lot of fun shooting with her. However, I don’t know why it’s a big deal that I kissed Divya Dutta in the film. We did the scene as actors and professionals. I hope the audiences don’t just take away that from the film. I am sure they will not. I am confident but in a nervous way (laughs).

Varun Dhawan - UK Interview - Badlapur (7)You launched the audio track of Jee Karda almost three months before the release of the film on Bigg Boss 8.  Was it important to create awareness in advance because Badlapur is a different film?
We had just launched the audio track of Jee Karda because everyone liked the beat in the trailer. It was mainly because of demand. I hardly even danced on Bigg Boss. We didn’t really promote it or publicised it much. We released the video much later.

 

Dinesh Vijan, the producer of the film, is very involved in the music of his movies. What is your take on the music?
When we started the film, I told Dinesh that I hope the music is good because he is known for selecting good tracks. Dinesh told me that he will make sure that the soundtrack of Badlapur will be considered my best soundtrack yet. Jee Karda has been received really well. Atif Aslam’s Jeena is a gem. There is also a track by Arijit Singh called Judaai, which I am excited about.  I am very happy.

 

There are rumours that you have sung an unplugged version of Jee Karda…
(Laughs) No, No. The pictures of me in the studio were posted online and everyone thought that I was singing.  I was actually just there to hum. I was required to do that. I do sing like every other normal person. When I sing, people laugh at me (laughs).

 

Badlapur UK (2)You also recently filmed in Las Vegas for ABCD2, which was your first outdoor shoot in the US. How was that experience for you?
We are working with an amazing crew along with many talented dancers from India who are in the film. We have become a group, a big family actually. Las Vegas as very good. My Mom joined me and we just had a really good time.

 

Recent rumours suggest that you are finally doing a movie with Parineeti Chopra…
That is, unfortunately, a rumour. I am currently only working on ABCD 2. Badlapur is up for release. I will also be starting my brother Rohit Dhawan’s next directorial. That’s about it at the moment. I also don’t want to do too many films. I don’t have dates to do more films at the moment. There were some news reports that I was doing about new eight or nine films. How is that even possible? I shoot one movie at a time. At least I try that. I am coming out with two movies a year and I believe that is pretty decent.

Badlapur is released in UK cinemas on 20th February 2015. 

( A version of this article was published in Asian Sunday Newspaper on 8th February 2015.)

Interview: Dhanush & Akshara talk about ‘Shamitabh’

Eros International’s Shamitabh is the latest flick to hit UK cinemas. 

The film stars the legendary Amitabh Bachchan as never seen before, with south Indian star Dhanush and newcomer Akshara Haasan.

Director R Balki (Cheeni Kum and Paa), created the story as a gift for the veteran actor on his 70th birthday, and has spent the past two years bringing his vision to life. He says of the film: “This films is a homage to a voice that over the past 40 years has become instantly recognisable the world over. The question is… who is the true star, the voice or the actor it belongs to?

Dhanush, Akshara Hassan in London Shamitabh (2)Talking to BollyNewsUK in London, Dhanush and Akshara spoke about filming Shamitabh in the English capital, the film and much more…

It is the first time that both of you are promoting a Hindi film in London. How has it been so far?
Dhanush: (Laughs) It is cold.

You filmed scenes for the movie in the capital too…
Dhanush: I love coming to London. It is one of my most favourite cities in the world. It’s the same feeling for me whether I come here for a shoot or vacation. It’s a great city and I really love being here.
Akshara: It was my first shoot abroad. It was really interesting and I loved it. It was an amazing experience, also because it was new for me. It was interesting to see how people were reacting while watching the shooting. We were just going ahead and performing our scenes.

The trailer doesn’t really give away much…
Dhanush: The film is about three different individuals and their qualities. One of them (the character played by Akshara) brings together the other two (Dhanush and Amitabh Bachchan). Every character in the film has something that the other doesn’t have. We how success comes into the frame and then ego enters. The clash of egos, that is what pretty much the film is about.

There were reports that you were offered many movies. Why did you choose Shamitabh as your first film?
Akshara: I didn’t take up the earlier offers because I wasn’t ready to be an actor at that point of time.  I was exploring dance and different opportunities at that time, primarily focusing on dancing. Therefore, I didn’t start acting earlier.  It took me a while to come to this place where I decided to be an actor. I didn’t start acting earlier purely because I wasn’t ready. Shamitabh came to me shortly after I decided to be an actor. I fell in love with the film and the role.

South Indian films are now regularly being remade in Bollywood. Is it a concious decision for you to do something new when you work in Hindi movies e.g.  Raanjhana and now Shamitabh?
Dhanush: I am actually not thinking about such factors. I just want to be a part of a good script. I am not against remakes. It’s not that just the Hindi film industry is remaking Tamil or Telegu films. They also remake Hindi films. We share scripts and movies among us, which is really great.  There is nothing wrong about it. Personally, I am not a big fan of remaking movies because I would like to avoid unnecessary comparisons. It is also always a great feeling when you create something original. If the film is great and the script is good, I don’t mind remakes. I would just prefer an original film.

Dhanush, Akshara Hassan in London Shamitabh (4)How do you deal with comparisons since you both have family members in the industry and comparisons are bound to happen?
Akshara: I have been brought up in a way where I have my own identity. I feel that helps me. I feel it would let me take my family legacy forward while creating my own space as Akshara. You can’t avoid comparisons. I deal with it by creating my own identity, working hard and be focused.
Dhanush:  I have never heard anybody compare me with my father-in-law. There is reason to compare a beginner like me with a legend like Rajinikanth.  It’s not fair because he is an icon and I am a huge fan and will always be. Any actor who grew up watching his movies will have mild similarities in the way they act. His attitude, mannerism and modulation are in our system. If at all, there is a silly comparison, I would take it as a huge compliment.

You learnt Hindi for Raanjhana. In Shamitabh, Amitabh Bachchan’s voice is an integral part of the story. Was it more difficult this time around because of that?
Dhanush: I am still trying my level best to learn the language. It was a great experience working with Amitji. He made us feel comfortable. We learnt a lot by just sharing screen space with him. We all know that he has a powerful majestic voice. To perform for his voice was a big challenge and to carry his voice on these tiny shoulders was a big responsibility. I tried my best and also tried stay original. Hopefully I have done a convincing job and hopefully people will like what they see and hear.

Shamitabh is in UK cinemas now.

Dhanush, Akshara Hassan in London Shamitabh (1)

 

 

 

Q&A: Akshay Kumar talks about ‘Baby’

Mr Akshay KumarBollywood superstar Akshay Kumar talks about his forthcoming film ‘Baby’, which releases in UK cinemas on 23rd January 2015.

‘Baby’, a highly anticipated action thriller, sees Akshay reunited with director Neeraj Pandey, who teamed up on the critically-acclaimed film ‘Special 26’. The film releases worldwide and in UK cinemas on 23rd January 2015.

Baby’s a bit of a strange title name for such a serious and hard hitting film?
I was very surprised when I first heard the script but slowly I got to know about the importance of the title ‘Baby’ and realized that it could never have been anything else!

You play a Special Forces officer in ‘Baby’. Did you find your role similar to that of your role in ‘Holiday’?
It’s true that I am playing another Special Forces role, but the characters are very different. Holiday was a real mix of genres, crossing between thriller and rom –com but Baby doesn’t really have that light hearted side. My role in Baby, Ajay, is a grim brutal character, as if Virat from ‘Holiday’ had lost his sense of humour.  I did love that about Virat, he had two different sides to him, he was a really complex man. Yes, he had a social life and chased the girls, but he couldn’t ever switch off. I think that even my character in ‘Holiday’ had a line which he probably wouldn’t cross; Ajay is the sort of person who would do whatever was necessary to keep his country safe.

Would you be happy if your children became police officers?
If they did, I’d be worried non-stop about them but deep down, I’d be so proud. Serving your country and protecting it, there’s no better honour! The police and soldiers are the true heroes of India. Saying that, as long as they were happy in their job, I’d  support them.

What sort of physical preparations did you do for the film?
There were a lot of preparations I had to make for ‘Baby’. Physically, it was a very demanding film and so I upped my game in the gym! I do like to keep my body guessing so I love trying out new techniques and exercises. The most recent discovery I made are these heavy wooden beads I bought in Singapore.  I have 50 beads, which weigh about 2-3 kilos  . The aim is to move them around your neck, which seriously works your core. If you do it wrong, the beads will drop. It works your cardio, so when you finish, it tones you up from the inside out.”

BabyBaby sees you working with Neeraj Pandey- were you excited to be working with him again?
Definitely! When I knew he was on board, I knew I had to get involved in the project! It’s been great working with Neeraj again, we’ve got this crazy chemistry and I’ve got such respect for him! Neeraj Pandey is one of the most complex directors I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with, he’s calm but super intense! He demands the best from his team and he made it clear from day one, ‘work hard or the door’s that way.’
What I love most about this man, apart from his direct honest opinion and crystal clear vision, is how this man doesn’t shoot to impress, he’s not here to extravagantly blow your mind, he shoots to tell you a story, his only interest is to suck you into the trail he wants you to follow. I could follow this man till the end of the earth.

What was it like working with Anupam Kher?
 An absolute honour – seriously, when I work with Anupamji, I am literally learning from the best. I have loved working with him – from ‘Special 26’ to ‘The Shaukeens’.

What were the shooting scenes in the desert like?
Quite crazy to be honest! It was 50 something degrees while we were out there so we just had to get it done as quickly as possible which wasn’t easy! 
We needed rough desert terrain and an Arabian airport.  Plus, we just couldn’t have shot it like that in Mumbai. They won’t close a part of the street for you – they’d rather close the shoot.”

 Where do you find the time to star in 3 or 4 films a year?
 A lot of it goes down to hard work and organisation. I only spent 32 days on the set of ‘Baby’ and the whole film was filmed in about 50 or so days. That’s because Neeraj has his script in place. I know I’m doing four films a year while others are doing one per year, sometimes one in two years. But I do these films very easily with a lot of free time in hand. In fact, I’m the only actor who takes so many holidays. I take at least eight days off every three months and a long month-and-a-half’s vacation every year. So if I have time, what else do I do?

Akshay KumarWhat sort of themes does ‘Baby’ have?
There are a lot of messages that will be conveyed through Baby. We can see in the trailer that the film also tackles the issue of terrorism but I want people to watch the film and realize the other messages that we want to convey.

Overall how have you found 2014?
It’s been an absolutely fulfilling and busy 2014 and 2015 is gearing to be even busier.  I’ve got an interesting mix of film genres coming up from a thriller, drama,  to action, romance…I think it will be one of my most diverse years yet

Do you have any New Year Resolutions?
I don’t believe in making New Year resolutions. I believe in the simple philosophy of work hard, please my fans, do good work, & be a loving husband and father, and that’s it. I’m not displeased with anything that I do, I have no vices, no bad habits, there’s nothing I need to cut back on. I just bring in the new year with a happy family, & I try very hard to keep them happy, that’s all that’s important to me

Interview: Ajay Devgn talks about Action Jackson

Ajay Devgn - TennisBollywood hunk Ajay Devgn is returning to UK cinemas with Action Jackson, hitting UK cinemas on 5th December 2014.

Action Jackson is Prabhu Deva’s new family entertainer featuring Ajay Devgn, Sonakshi Sinha, Yami Gautam and Manasvi Mamgai. A fun, small time crook gets entangled with a relentless girl who is convinced that he will bring her good luck. The consequences that result in are hilarious, masala-filled and thoroughly entertaining.

Check out what Ajay Devgn had to say about the film  here:

You are working with Prabhu Deva which means he must have made you dance quite a lot. Was that fun or challenging?
No it wasn’t challenging, I was comfortable because I knew and he knows that I am a bad dancer so it’s his problem not mine. And yes he pushed me on it and he made me very comfortable. I think he made it very easy for me because as Prabhu also says that he studies the body language of an actor and then makes them dance accordingly, which gets easier.

Ajay Devgn and Sonakshi Sinha in the song Keeda from Action JacksonYou are doing all kind of movies whether it is a SOS, Satyagraha or Action Jackson. How do you decide on what movies you want to be a part of? What kind of movies would you like to be a part of, which you haven’t done so far?
It just depends. When I hear the script, do I get excited about the script? Then, do I think that the role is challenging enough to do something which will need me and which I can work hard on? Apart from all that, the most important thing is, who is the director? Will he be able to conceive and shoot the way it’s been thought? Also, the producer and the whole team is important because will they be able to execute the way we are talking about and will they be able to release it properly the way the films are released  today? That is very important.

How would you describe Action Jackson, the film?
Completely different I would say. Action Jackson is not an issue based film. It’s a lot of fun, entertainment, comedy, action, emotion and romance. I think it’s shaped up very well. It’s a complete entertainer. I would call it that.

You are working with Sonakshi Sinha again and with Yaami Gautam for the first time. How would you describe your experience?
Sonakshi is very comfortable to work with. I have a great rapport as we did Son Of Sardar together. She is a thorough professional and has got no inhibitions. You know when you ask her to dance, she will just freak out. She is very comfortable. Yami is a very good actress. I worked for the first time with her and it was very comfortable.

Ajay Devgn uses different guns in Action Jackson (1)Many films do exceedingly well at the domestic Box Office but don’t have the same kind of impact overseas. Do you feel, just like in India, actors now need to promote their movies abroad in various cities as well to create the awareness?
I guess so and the mindset is also little different for Indian audience and the audience overseas. But the films are doing well there also and we are trying to push them and promote them overseas as mush as we can and we will do.

Many movies are now released in new territories like Japan and Russia. Do you feel that Action Jackson is a film that can be enjoyed by a non-diaspora audience?
Oh, yes. Action Jackson will appeal to all kind of audiences. Prabhu Deva’s films have appealed earlier to masses but here I think there is a very good connect for the classes also because the film is very stylish, the music is very good, kids will love the film and I think masses would definitely like it because of the action

Eros International will release the much-awaited film in UK cinemas on 5th December 2014.

 

 

Q&A: Emraan Hashmi talks about ‘Ungli’

EmraanEmraan Hashmi is gearing up for the release of his next, Ungli, produced by Karan Johar’s Dharma Productions. 

Perfectly capturing the current mood in India of curbing corruption, bribery and intimidation in the upper echelons of power and authority, Ungli is a beautifully acted and directed narrative that conveys in an effective and humorous manner how five ordinary citizens can make a difference in a city blighted by dark forces, as they literally give the proverbial ‘finger’ to the corrupt and dishonest.

In this Q&A, the actor talks about his role in the film and more…

What attracted you to the role of Nikhil?
He isn’t your classic hero; I like characters that have a little bit of a dark side. I think in Hindi Cinema today, people want more than just your typical hero; they now enjoy relating to the villain as much as they do the hero. I think by adding a bit of attitude to the hero, it makes them far more relatable. It has to be said as well, Nikhil is a bit of a bad ass.

Can you tell us a little bit more about your character?
Nikhil is just your everyday guy who decides one day to take a stand against corruption. Along with his group of five friends they become vigilantes and start to fight back and try to expose all those who are crooked in the city.

Did you enjoy working with Kangana?
She is a fantastic actress. I have seen her previous films and I have worked with her before and it has always been enjoyable. We had a real blast working together and everyone says we have great onscreen chemistry so that always helps! Because the films involves lots of stunts we started going to the gym together, she is really dedicated to being the best she can be.

It’s very rare to see you dance in your films. I heard a rumor you’re going to dance in Ungli?
Yes! I think it is well known that dancing isn’t something I normally enjoy doing, however I actually had a really good time doing it for Ungli. I have a scene with Shraddha Kapoor in a nightclub where we perform a song. I was quite nervous before we started because Shraddha is such an exceptional dancer, but it was actually really fun! It is a really eye catching song and I think people are going to enjoy it.

The trailer shows you locking lips with a very attractive young lady, you have gotten quite a reputation for yourself as a ‘serial kisser’, does this bother you?
There are worse things to be known as (laughs). In all seriousness though, I would rather people talk about my acting rather than who I happen to kiss within a film. I think people often think that I choose to kiss people within films; in reality I am simply following the script!

UNGLI releases on 28th November 2014 through Reliance Entertainment in UK cinemas

Q&A: Kangana Ranaut speaks about ‘Ungli’

Kangana RanautThe stage is set for this year’s explosive black comedy-drama, as five vigilantes take justice into their own hands in the dark and witty urban tale Ungli (Finger), which releases on 28th November 2014 through Reliance Entertainment in UK cinemas.

Produced by Dharma Productions, the film company helmed by supremo director and producer Karan Johar, the edgy film, with a noir comic twist, is set in a sprawling metropolis, where corruption, intimidation and violence are a way of life. A city that never sleeps, the underworld is at full force, led by a sinister mob that demands obedience and respect.

Enter five rebels, who decide that they have had enough of the corruption that has blighted their city, and so decide to unite and expose the corrupt through whatever means necessary. The only thing that stands in their path is a tenacious police officer named ‘Kale’, portrayed by veteran actor Sanjay Dutt.

Here Kangana Ranaut opens up about the film and more…

The film follows a group of five friends on their quest to stand up to corruption, how was it acting with Emraan, Randeep, Neil and Angad?
It was hilarious; they are a funny group of guys. After filming with them for a few weeks it started to feel like we had known each other all our lives.


This is your third film with Emraan Hashmi, how was it working with him again?

Emraan is a great guy; he is really down to earth and is a very diverse actor. We get on really well outside of work and having worked together in three films now we have become very comfortable around each other. It’s always fun to work with Emraan and I think our friendship in real life comes across in this film; it isn’t hard to act like friends when you actually are!


People have been praising your character as the heroine of the story, why do you think everyone loves your character so much?
With this type of film, men have always been at the forefront of fighting crime and standing up to corruption. I think by having a girl in the group it shows how times are changing, and that women can kick ass as well (laughs).


‘Ungli’ has attracted a lot of attention, why do you think people are so interested in this film?

I think ‘Ungli’ has a great team working on it, everyone is really focused on making this film the best it can be. It has everything that a great film needs; Rensil has done a fantastic job of combing humor and actually a really interesting message. People have been waiting for this film for years now and many didn’t think it would ever actually get released so now that a release date has been set, I think everyone is really excited to see the outcome.

UNGLI releases on 28th November 2014 through Reliance Entertainment in UK cinemas

Interview: Ileana D’Cruz speaks about ‘Happy Ending’

Happy Ending UK ReleaseIndian film actress Ileana D’Cruz will be seen in UK cinemas this Friday, 21st November 2014, in Happy Ending. Having worked in Telugu and Tamil cinema, the actress made her foray into Hindi cinema with 2012 blockbuster Barfi! opposite Ranbir Kapoor and alongside Priyanka Chopra. The 27-year-old actress has since worked with the likes of Shahid Kapoor and Varun Dhawan and is extremely excited about her new venture, produced by Saif Ali Khan’s Illuminati Films. 

Happy Ending is directed by Raj Nidimoru and Krishna D.K. and also stars Govinda, Saif Ali Khan, Kalki Koechlin, Ranvir Shorey, Preity Zinta and Kareena Kapoor Khan. The much awaited rom-com will release in UK cinemas through Eros International in UK cinemas.

Here the actress talks to Sunny Malik about the movie, working with Saif Ali Khan and being friendly with Kareena Kapoor Khan…

How are you feeling about your upcoming film, Happy Ending?
I am extremely excited because the film is very different from the films I have done in the past. Barfi! was completely different and Main Tera Hero was a wholly commercial film with a little over the top humour. Happy Ending is very modern. If I may say so, it has very intelligent humour. It is more casual and conversational. The acting that was required of me was very different from films like Main Tera Hero. It was strange and took a little while as it was very new to me. I am excited because I loved the way the film has shaped up. Happy Ending, I think, will appeal to Indian and overseas audiences.

How did the film come about for you?
I was very excited when I was offered the film because I have loved the films Illuminati (Saif Ali Khan’s production house) has produced. They have made very slick comedies and shot them beautifully. They promote the films really well too. The music is very important to them. I was looking forward to the doing the film without knowing the story. When I heard the script, I was pleasantly surprised. I wasn’t expecting such a good role. 

IleanaTell me more about your character…
The heroine in the film is at par with the hero. It’s a very sassy role and not a typical Bollywood damsel in distress heroine. My character is an author who writes novels but doesn’t believe in them. She doesn’t believe in love or happily ever after. She is the type of girl who asks the guy just before they make out, “You aren’t going to fall in love with me, right?” There were times where I felt that I was not doing much as my character keeps a straight face a lot of times. It was a bit nerve wrecking. I am glad I waited and chose to do this film.

Saif takes a little time to open up. How was your experience interacting with him in the beginning?
I had this stupid impression that he was going to be exactly like I have seen him in his films. That was quite stupid of me considering I am part of the film industry. I was expecting a chirpy goofy guy. He was quite normal and very polite. I kept to myself on the sets because I figured that he is reserved and doesn’t like chatting too much. Unfortunately, he took that as me being incredible formal on the sets. One day we ended up talking at one of those parties we had on the sets. He came up to me and asked me why I am so aggressive and defensive? Ironically, I became very defensive and questioned him what was wrong with him as I am not defensive at all (laughs). We had a nice conversation and we just suddenly broke the ice. We got to know each other and got comfortable. It was a very good working relationship. I find it hilarious when he gets angry even if it is for two seconds. I didn’t take him too seriously, so it was good (laughs).

He also compared you to Rani and Kajol…
I was quite shocked when he said that. I take is as a very big compliment. I don’t know if I agree with him or not. They are brilliant actresses.

Kareena Kapoor Khan, who has a cameo in the film, said that you have become friends while filming in the US…
I didn’t have any scenes with her unfortunately but she spent some time in Detroit with us and we got to know each other. We bumped into each other during breakfast and it was a really nice atmosphere. We just chatted and she is aver normal person I love that about her. She has no hang-ups, is simple and I think, she liked the same about me. We got along really well. I don’t know if we are friends because we haven’t spent as much time together. We are definitely very fond of each other as people. She has handled herself very beautifully considering the many year she has been in the industry. I think, I was expecting a different person and was surprised that she is a such a lovely person. I can’t say we are friends but we are definitely friendly.

Happy Ending is out in UK cinemas on Friday, 21st November 2014. 

 

Q&A: Rensil D’Silva opens up about ‘Ungli’

Rensil D'SilvaKaran Johar’s upcoming production, Ungli, is directed by avant-garde filmmaker and scriptwriter Rensil D’Silva, who is responsible for some of Indian cinemas most thought-provoking screen hits, including Kurbaan, Rang De Basanti, Student Of The Year and the Indian version of award-winning US TV show 24.

Here the director opens up about the film and more…

How would you describe ‘Ungli’?
It is a story about friendship and is a very character-driven film. It’s about what happens when a gang of friends decide to take justice into their own hands. The film itself has a lot of really humorous moments, which adds to the already good storyline.

How did you cope with the delays? 
The delays frustrated the hell out of me. I think the worst thing that can happen to a director is for his lead actor to go to jail and for him to face the possibility of an incomplete film. It is something that I have no control over; the only option I could think of was to reshoot it. That is a lot of money and time and the mental stress it puts you under is unparalleled.

Were there any positives that came from the delays?
The music! Had I released Ungli last year, I wouldn’t have gotten these songs. Music is becoming extremely crucial for the success of a film and I think the album is fantastic.

How did you deal with Sanjay Dutt’s legal issues during the filming of ‘Ungli’?
I changed the venue of the shoot from Byculla to Carter Road. The media was chasing him everywhere; they had positioned themselves outside his apartment complex. I felt Carter Road would be easier for him as it is closer to his Pali Hill residence. In some particular scenes I cut out some of his lines, it was the least I could do as a director. I felt that I shouldn’t give him too many lines to remember during that traumatic period.

Did you have any plans if Sanjay Dutt couldn’t have come back to filming?
I didn’t have any back up plan at all. Whether I would reshoot or not would have been Karan’s [Johar] decision because it involves lots of money. However, if I had to reshoot, I would go to Anil Kapoor, with whom I have worked with on ‘24’ and would have told him to please do the film as it is safe to say, I was in deep trouble.

What was it like filming with Sanjay Dutt when he knew he was facing incarceration?
The mood was very sober on the sets when Sanjay was around. The last scene he filmed was a very dramatic scene, at the end of it he got very emotional. We hugged him but Sanjay didn’t say anything. He went aside to do a brief photo-shoot and then didn’t return, he just drove off. Imagine what he must have undergone that day! I was asking so much from a man who was going through hell.

 

Ungli releases in UK cinemas on 28th November 2014. 

 

Interview: Sonu Sood & Vivaan Shah talk about ‘Happy New Year’

Sonu Sood and Vivaan Shah star in Farah Khan’s latest blockbuster, Happy New Year. The two actors recently sat down  with Bollywood reporter Sunny Malik in London to talk about the film and much more…

 

Bollywood’s action hero/villain Sonu Sood plays the role of Jag in Happy New Year. He is the explosive expert in Farah Khan’s heist movie.

Sonu Sood at Happy New Year SLAM Press Conference in London (2)How has it been to interact with the London press for the first time?
It has been great. I love the place and keep coming for holidays. I also shot here a couple of years ago. I always say that London is one place where I love to hang around.  It’s great that we are here for Happy New Year and Slam+ The Tour. I am thoroughly excited.

How did Happy New Year come about for you?
I was pretty lucky as I was filming for Its Entertainment in Bangkok when I found out that Farah is making this film. I called her and she said ‘If you get me the dates, I will get you the role’.  It happened overnight. We worked out the dates and I flew to Dubai from Bangkok for the shoot. I had a great experience.

Did you worry about screen time since many actors are involved in the film?
Not at all. It is a heist movie and all are important roles. There was never any insecurity or double thoughts. You know that you have to do your best and make the film larger than life. Since we are now through with the making, we can say that it is the biggest film to come out of the industry ever. 

How are you choosing your films ?
I would say that I am pretty selective about my movies since I have done a lot of South Indian movies too. I take some time selecting my Hindi movies. Happy New Year is a very important film and any film that I sign henceforth will be a tough decision. 

 

Happy New Year SLAM Press Conference in LondonVivaan Shah, son of acclaimed actor Naseerudin Shah, plays the role of Rohan Singh; a juvenile criminal. He is the youngest team member of the film and in the film. Rohan is a hacking genius and speaks in perfectly gibberish whenever he has to converse with a beautiful woman. 

How has it been being in London and touring the world with team Happy New Year?
It’s great and been a profound journey. The friendships I have made and the time I have spent with them cannot be described in words. Its an honour and blessing to be a part of the film. We became a family while making the film.
Did you feel that you were the youngest member of the cast?
I did feel that but they tried their best not to let me feel that. That says a lot about them as people. They were very understanding and perceptive. They really made me feel part of the team. 
Your father, Naseerudin Shah, is an iconic actor. Do you feel the pressure?
I do feel it but that is a good pressure. The pressure motivates me to do better and go further. It motivates me to make him proud.

Released by Yash Raj Films, Happy New Year is out in UK cinemas now.